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FTR #1047 Interview #16 with Jim DiEugenio about “Destiny Betrayed”

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This broadcast was recorded in one, 60-minute segment.

CIA’s Expert on the JFK Assassination Ray Rocca: ” . . . . Garrison would indeed obtain a conviction of Shaw for conspiring to assassinate President Kennedy. . . .”

House Select Committee on Assassinations Assistant Counsel Jonathan Blackmer: “. . . . ‘We have reason to believe Shaw was heavily involved in the Anti-Castro efforts in New Orleans in the 1960s and [was] possibly one of the high level planners or ‘cut out’ to the planners of the assassination.’ . . . .”

Introduction: This is the sixteenth of a planned long series of interviews with Jim DiEugenio about his triumphal analysis of President Kennedy’s assassination and New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison’s heroic investigation of the killing.

(Listeners can order Destiny Betrayed and Jim’s other books, as well as supplementing those volumes with articles about this country’s political assassinations at his website Kennedys and KingJim is also a regular guest and expert commentator on Black Op Radio.)

Mort Sahl, arguably the greatest stand-up comedian of all time.

The program opens with continuation of discussion of an unfortunate piece from The Huffington Post about Clay Shaw. In addition to parroting canards about Garrison’s case being baseless, Clay Shaw being a “Wilsonian/FDR liberal” and Garrison’s nonexistent stance that the JFK assassination was a “homosexual thrill killing” by Clay Shaw & company, the HP piece mentioned an appearance by Jim Garrison on Johnny Carson’s “Tonight Show.”

The actual story of Garrison’s appearance on Carson is important and interesting. When the brilliant comedian Mort Sahl was on Carson’s show, the subject of the Garrison investigation came up. Sahl asked the audience if they would like to have Garrison come on the show, and they responded with overwhelming enthusiasm.

Eventually, Garrison did appear on the show and Carson engaged in an openly confrontational discussion. Carson was so outraged that he told Mort Sahl that he would never appear on the program again. Mort did not appear on the “Tonight” show until Jay Leno succeeded Carson as the host.

In this regard, it is worth noting that NBC–the network that aired Walter Sheridan’s hit piece on Garrison–has profound connections to the intelligence community, as discussed in FTR #1045.

Jim also relates that, when in Los Angeles, Robert Kennedy was querying China Lee–Mort’s wife at the time–about what Garrison was doing in New Orleans. As we have seen in past programs–including FTR #’s 809, 892, 1005–Robert Kennedy was waiting until he got elected President before opening an investigation into his brother’s murder. Of course, he, too was killed before he could become President.

The program then turns to James Kirkwood, another of the designated media hatchet men who pilloried Garrison. Networked with James Phelan, he helped mint the canard that Garrison prosecuted Shaw in the context of what the DA supposedly saw as a “homosexual thrill killing.” Unfortunately, this nonsense has endured, as a Huffington Post article makes clear.

Another of the media hit men who defamed Garrison was David Chandler:

Destiny Betrayed by Jim DiEugenio; Skyhorse Publishing [SC]; Copyright 1992, 2012 by Jim DiEugenio; ISBN 978-1-62087-056-3; p. 276.

. . . . But Chandler’s most serious blast against Garrison and his inquiry was a two-part article written for Life in the fall of 1967. This appeared in the September 1 and September 8 issues of the magazine. The pieces masqueraded as an expose of Mafia influence in large cities in America at the time. But the real target of the piece was not the mob, but Garrison. The idea was to depict him as a corrupt New Orleans DA who had some kind of nebulous ties to the Mafia and Carlos Marcello. There were four principal participants in the pieces: Chandler, Sandy Smith, Dick Billings, and Robert Blakey. Smith was the actual billed writer. And since Smith was a long-time asset of the FBI, it is very likely that the Bureau was the Bureau was the originating force behind the magazine running the piece. . . .

. . . . It was the work of Chandler, a friend of both Clay Shaw and Kerry Thornley, which was the basis of the completely phony concept that Garrison was somehow in bed with the Mafia and his function was to steer attention from their killing of Kennedy. . . .

The subject then turns to Clay Shaw’s defense team. It should never be forgotten that Shaw’s attorneys networked with: the infiltrators into Garrison’s office, the CIA and the media hatchet men who helped destroy Garrison’s public image.

We return briefly to Guy Johnson, initially a member of Shaw’s defense team. In this context, it is worth remembering what Banister investigator Tommy Baumler said:

Destiny Betrayed by Jim DiEugenio; Skyhorse Publishing [SC]; Copyright 1992, 2012 by Jim DiEugenio; ISBN 978-1-62087-056-3; p. 274.

. . . . In the spring of 1968, Harold Weisberg interviewed Tommy Baumler. Baumler had formerly worked for Guy Banister as part of his corps of student infiltrators in the New Orleans area. Because of that experience, Baumler knew a lot about Banister’s operation. For instance, that Banister’s files were coded, and that Banister had blackmail material on the subjects he kept files on. He also knew the intelligence network in New Orleans was constructed through Banister, Clay Shaw, and Guy Johnson; how close Shaw and Banister were; and that “Oswald worked for Banister.” In Weisberg’s interview with Tommy, he would occasionally ask to go off the record by telling him to turn the tape recorder off. Clearly, there were things going on in New Orleans that Baumler considered too hot to be attributed to him.

At this time, April of 1968, Weisberg considered Baumler to be an “unabashed fascist.” He explained this further by saying that Baumler was ‘aware of the meaning of his beliefs and considers what he describes as his beliefs as proper.” He then explained to Weisberg the following, “that whatever happens, the Shaw case will end without punishment for him [Shaw], because federal power will see to that.” He further said that this would also happen to anyone else charged by Garrison. . . .

In addition to Johnson, Irv Dymond, another Shaw attorney, networked with the intelligence community, Walter Sheridan and the spook infiltrators into Garrion’s office. In FTR #1045, we noted that Fred Leemans claimed he was coerced, in part, directly by Irv Dymond in Dymond’s law office. Dymond worked directly with Hunter Leake of the CIA’s New Orleans office.

Shaw attorneys Edward and William Wegmann also networked with the intelligence community, employing Wackenhut, formerly Southern Research, an intelligence-connected private security outfit to monitor Garrison’s communications.

Another Shaw attorney–Sal Panzeca–received a list of Garrison witnesses from Garrison office infiltrator Tom Bethell.

Destiny Betrayed by Jim DiEugenio; Skyhorse Publishing [SC]; Copyright 1992, 2012 by Jim DiEugenio; ISBN 978-1-62087-056-3; p. 290.

. . . . Tom Bethell had been one of the DA’s key investigators and researchers . . . . Since Garrison had designated him as his chief archivist, he had access to and control of both Garrison’s files and his most recent witness list. . . . Secretly, he met with Sal Panzeca, one of Shaw’s attorneys, and gave him a witness list he had prepared, with summaries of each witness’s expected testimony for the prosecution. . . .

The program concludes with the obstructive efforts of then Attorney General Ramsey Clark.

Clark tried to dismiss Clay Shaw’s involvement inthe assassination by claiming that the FBI had cleared him back in 1963.

Destiny Betrayed by Jim DiEugenio; Skyhorse Publishing [SC]; Copyright 1992, 2012 by Jim DiEugenio; ISBN 978-1-62087-056-3; p. 261.

. . . . One point man for the Johnson Administration in damaging Garrison’s case was Ramsey Clark. In March of 1867, right after his confirmation as Attorney General by the Senate Judiciary Committee, Clark made an extraordinary intervention into the case: he told a group of reporters Garrison’s case was baseless. The FBI, he said, had already investigated Shaw in 1963 and found no connection between him and the events in Dallas. . . .

Clark also assisted with the quashing of subpoenas that Garrison served.

Destiny Betrayed by Jim DiEugenio; Skyhorse Publishing [SC]; Copyright 1992, 2012 by Jim DiEugenio; ISBN 978-1-62087-056-3; pp. 272-273.

. . . . At around this time, Garrison issued subpoenas for both Richard Helms and any photographs of Oswald in Mexico City that the CIA held. . . . [CIA General Counsel Lawrence] Houston then wrote a letter to New Orleans judge Bernard Bagert who had signed the subpoena. He denied there were photos of Oswald in Mexico City. This reply was run by Attorney General  Ramsey Clark and White House adviser Harry MacPherson. . . .

Finally, Clark denied Garrison proper access to autopsy photos and information about the assassination.

Destiny Betrayed by Jim DiEugenio; Skyhorse Publishing [SC]; Copyright 1992, 2012 by Jim DiEugenio; ISBN 978-1-62087-056-3; p. 287.

. . . . After the Attorney General had bungled his first attempt to discredit Garrison’s case, he secretly tried another method. Garrison had been trying to secure the original JFK autopsy photos and X-rays to exhibit at the trial. They would form an important part of his case, since, to prove a conspiracy, he had to present evidence against the Warren Report, which maintained there was no conspiracy and that Oswald had acted alone. In 1968, Clark convened a panel of experts–which did not include any of the doctors who had performed the original examinations–to review the autopsy photos and X-rays. In early 1969, just a few days before he left office and on the eve of the trial, Clark announced that this panel had endorsed the findings of the Warren Report. The panel released its findings, but none of the original evidence on which it was based. This was clearly meant to influence public opinion before Shaw’s trial began. . . .

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