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For The Record  

FTR #288 Update on the JFK Assassination

MP3 One Seg­ment
NB: This RealAu­dio stream con­tains FTRs 288 and 289 in sequence. Each is a 30-minute broad­cast.

1. Bring­ing up to date the inves­ti­ga­tion into Pres­i­dent Kennedy’s assas­si­na­tion, this pro­gram begins with dis­cus­sion of a recent British foren­sic sci­en­tif­ic study that proves what seri­ous inves­ti­ga­tors have long known—that there was a fourth (and fatal shot) from the grassy knoll. “The House Assas­si­na­tions Com­mit­tee may have been right after all: There was a shot from the grassy knoll. That was the key find­ing of the con­gres­sion­al inves­ti­ga­tion that con­clud­ed 22 years ago that Pres­i­dent ‘John F. Kennedy’s mur­der in Dal­las in 1963 was ‘prob­a­bly the result of a con­spir­a­cy.’ A shot from the grassy knoll meant that two gun­men must have fired at the pres­i­dent with­in a split-sec­ond sequence. Lee Har­vey Oswald, accused of fir­ing three shots at Kennedy from a perch at the Texas School Book Depos­i­to­ry, could not have been in two places at once. . . . A new, peer-reviewed arti­cle in Sci­ence and Jus­tice, a quar­ter­ly pub­li­ca­tion of Britain’s Foren­sic Sci­ence Soci­ety. . . . said it was more than 96 per­cent cer­tain that there was a shot from the grassy knoll to the right of the pres­i­den­t’s lim­ou­sine, in addi­tion to the three shots from a book depos­i­to­ry win­dow above and behind the pres­i­den­t’s lim­ou­sine.” (“Study backs The­o­ry of ‘grassy knoll’ ” by George Lard­ner Jr.; The Wash­ing­ton Post; 3/26/2001.)

2. Much of the rest of the pro­gram con­sists of dis­cus­sion of aspects of the House Select Com­mit­tee’s inves­ti­ga­tion that are unlike­ly to be ana­lyzed in the Wash­ing­ton Post. In 1999, inves­ti­ga­tor Bill Davy pub­lished a remark­able book about New Orleans Dis­trict Attor­ney Jim Gar­rison’s inves­ti­ga­tion into the JFK assas­si­na­tion. (Let Jus­tice Be Done; by William Davy; Copy­right 1999 [SC]; Jor­dan Pub­lish­ing; ISBN 0–9669716‑0–4.) Rely­ing large­ly on doc­u­ments declas­si­fied in the wake of the Oliv­er Stone film JFK, Davy’s extra­or­di­nary book val­i­dates much of what Gar­ri­son had to say.

3. The pro­gram high­lights parts of the HSCA’s inves­ti­ga­tion that sup­port Gar­rison’s the­sis. “HSCA Chief Coun­sel, G. Robert Blakey, once referred to the Com­mit­tee’s work as ‘the last inves­ti­ga­tion.’ As such, it is only prop­er that the HSCA have the last word on Clay Shaw. On Sep­tem­ber 1, 1977, staff coun­sel Jonathan Black­mer, authored a 15-page mem­o­ran­dum addressed to Blakey, as well as staff mem­bers, Gary Corn­well, Ken Klein, and Cliff Fen­ton. Black­mer was the lead coun­sel for team 3, the HSCA team respon­si­ble for the New Orleans and Cuban angles of the inves­ti­ga­tion. After an inves­tiga­tive trip to New Orleans, Black­mer con­clud­ed in his memo: ‘We have rea­son to believe Shaw was heav­i­ly involved in the anti-Cas­tro efforts in New Orleans in the 1960’s and [was] pos­si­bly one of the high lev­el plan­ners or ‘cut out’ to the plan­ners of the assas­si­na­tion.’ ” (Let Jus­tice Be Done; p. 202.)

4. Clay Shaw was, of course, the indi­vid­ual tried by Gar­ri­son for Kennedy’s assas­si­na­tion. The first sus­pect inves­ti­gat­ed by Gar­ri­son was David Fer­rie. In its final report, the House Select Com­mit­tee also rec­om­mend­ed that the Depart­ment of Jus­tice inves­ti­gate Fer­rie and his anti-Cas­tro Cuban asso­ciates in the New Orleans area. Fer­rie had oper­at­ed as an inves­ti­ga­tor for Guy Ban­is­ter’s detec­tive agency in New Orleans. The Ban­is­ter oper­a­tion, in turn, had served as an appar­ent intel­li­gence front for covert oper­a­tions against Cuba. Fer­rie was instru­men­tal in run­ning a train­ing facil­i­ty at Lake Pon­char­train (Louisiana), at which Cuban exiles received gueril­la train­ing for oper­a­tions against Cas­tro.

5. The House Select Com­mit­tee appears to have obtained a film of this facil­i­ty, which con­nects some very inter­est­ing peo­ple. “It is pos­si­ble that a film once exist­ed of this train­ing camp. The for­mer Deputy Chief Coun­sel of the House Select Com­mit­tee on Assas­si­na­tions, Robert Tan­nen­baum, recalled that the com­mit­tee viewed the film and to Tan­nen­baum it was a shock to the sys­tem. ‘The movie was shock­ing to me because it demon­strat­ed the notion that the CIA was train­ing, in Amer­i­ca, a sep­a­rate army,’ he said. ‘It was shock­ing to me because I’m a true believ­er in the sys­tem and yet there are noto­ri­ous char­ac­ters in the sys­tem, who are fund­ed by the sys­tem, who are absolute­ly un-Amer­i­can! And who knows what they would do, even­tu­al­ly. What if we send peo­ple to Wash­ing­ton who they can’t deal with? Out comes their secret army? So, I find that to be as con­trary to the Con­sti­tu­tion as you can get.’ What is even more shock­ing is what the film reveals. Accord­ing to Tan­nen­baum, depict­ed in the film among the Cuban exiles were Guy Ban­is­ter, David Atlee Philips and Lee Har­vey Oswald. Inex­plic­a­bly, the film would lat­er dis­ap­pear from the Com­mit­tee’s files.” (Ibid.; p. 30.) The Ban­is­ter “detec­tive agency” was also involved with col­lect­ing intel­li­gence on the Amer­i­can civ­il rights move­ment, and was deeply involved with white suprema­cist orga­ni­za­tions.

6. The House Select Com­mit­tee also devel­oped infor­ma­tion link­ing Ban­is­ter employ­ee Fer­rie, Oswald and Clay Shaw. Cred­i­ble eye­wit­ness tes­ti­mo­ny places these indi­vid­u­als at a Clin­ton (Louisiana) vot­er reg­is­tra­tion dri­ve in August of 1963. “The chair­man of the Clin­ton chap­ter of CORE [Con­gress Of Racial Equal­i­ty], Cor­rie Collins, was mon­i­tor­ing the dri­ve out­side the Reg­is­trar’s office, when at approx­i­mate­ly 10:00a.m. he noticed the arrival of the car. Think­ing they might be FBI, Collins stud­ied the car and its occu­pants close­ly. As the car came to a stop, he observed a young white male exit the rear of the car and enter the reg­is­tra­tion line, while the dri­ver and the oth­er pas­sen­ger remained in the car. Lat­er, under oath, at the tri­al of Clay Shaw in 1969 and in his tes­ti­mo­ny to the House Select Com­mit­tee on Assas­si­na­tions (HSCA) in 1978, Collins would iden­ti­fy the dri­ver of the car as Clay Shaw, the pas­sen­ger as David Fer­rie, and the per­son in the reg­is­tra­tion line as Lee Har­vey Oswald.” (Ibid.; pp. 103–104.)

7. “A mere four years lat­er, Con­gress would con­clude that ‘[the HSCA] was inclined to believe that Oswald was in Clin­ton La., in late August, ear­ly Sep­tem­ber 1963, and that he was in the com­pa­ny of David Fer­rie, if not Clay Shaw. . . [the Clin­ton wit­ness­es] estab­lished an asso­ci­a­tion of an unde­ter­mined nature between Fer­rie, Shaw, and Oswald less than 3 months before the assas­si­na­tion.’ The com­mit­tee added that they ‘also found that there was at least a pos­si­bil­i­ty that Oswald and Guy ‘Ban­is­ter were acquaint­ed.’ They fur­ther con­clud­ed that the ‘CIA-Mafia-Cuban plots had all the ele­ments nec­es­sary for a suc­cess­ful assas­si­na­tion con­spir­a­cy.’ It is prob­a­bly the ulti­mate irony that the U.S. gov­ern­men­t’s con­clu­sions echoed those of Jim Gar­ri­son a decade ear­li­er.” (Ibid.; p. 189.)

8. Ban­is­ter’s New Orleans office also served as the head­quar­ters of the Anti-Com­mu­nist League of the Caribbean, part of what would for­mal­ly coa­lesce as the World Anti-Com­mu­nist League in 1967.

9. While inves­ti­gat­ing Ela­dio del Valle, Fer­rie’s asso­ciate in covert oper­a­tions against Cuba, Gar­rison’s inves­ti­gat­ing team was infil­trat­ed by an anti-Cas­tro Cuban with strong ties to the intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty. This oper­a­tive, Bernar­do de Tor­res, may well have been involved with the assas­si­na­tion itself. His name lat­er cropped up in con­nec­tion with the assas­si­na­tion of Orlan­do Lete­lier.

10. “On the day Fer­rie died, del Valle was found bru­tal­ly mur­dered in his car in the park­ing lot of a Mia­mi shop­ping cen­ter. Pri­or to that, Gar­ri­son had sent a part-time inves­ti­ga­tor named Bernar­do de Tor­res to ques­tion del Valle. De Tor­res was a mil­i­tary coor­di­na­tor for the Brigade 2506 part of the exile land­ing force dur­ing the Bay of Pigs inva­sion. He was cap­tured by Cas­tro’s forces and detained until Christ­mas Eve of 1962. He even­tu­al­ly found his way to New Orleans where, accord­ing to de Tor­res, he was approached by Sergeant Duffy of the NOPD and asked to join Gar­rison’s staff. As with many oth­er inves­ti­ga­tors and vol­un­teers at Tulane and Broad, de Tor­res’ bona fides are sus­pect. First of all, it was de Tor­res who showed up at the D.A.‘s office in New Orleans very ear­ly in Gar­rison’s inves­ti­ga­tion claim­ing he had impor­tant infor­ma­tion. He said he was a pri­vate detec­tive who want­ed to help and dropped the name of Mia­mi D.A. Richard Ger­stein as an entrée. Short­ly after de Tor­res was giv­en the assign­ment to ques­tion del Valle, del Valle’s bru­tal­ized body was dis­cov­ered in the vicin­i­ty of de Tor­res’ Mia­mi apart­ment. It was lat­er deter­mined that de Tor­res was fil­ing reports on Gar­ri­son to the Mia­mi CIA sta­tion, JM/WAVE. Not long after he left Gar­rison’s staff, de Tor­res went to work for Mitch Wer­bel­l’s Mil­i­tary Arma­ment Cor­po­ra­tion, a large sup­pli­er of weapon­ry to the CIA. The HSCA devel­oped evi­dence that de Tor­res was actu­al­ly a CIA offi­cer with links to Mil­i­tary Intel­li­gence. A well con­nect­ed anti-Cas­tro Cuban, Arturo Cobos told the FBI that de Tor­res was ‘the man to call with con­tacts on a high lev­el with the CIA in Wash­ing­ton, D.C.’ The HSCA also came into pos­ses­sion of inves­tiga­tive infor­ma­tion, which indi­cat­ed that de Tor­res may have been in Dealey Plaza at the time of the assas­si­na­tion, and fur­ther, that he may have been involved in an assas­si­na­tion con­spir­a­cy, charges which de Tor­res denies. As for Gar­ri­son he lat­er came to believe that de Tor­res was one of his ear­li­est sources of mis­in­for­ma­tion and recalled that what­ev­er infor­ma­tion de Tor­res pro­vid­ed nev­er went any­where. In the late 1970’s, de Tor­res would be linked to the bomb­ing assas­si­na­tion of Chilean leader Orlan­do Lete­lier in Wash­ing­ton, D.C.” (Ibid.; pp. 148–149.)

11. We exam­ine con­nect­ing links between the Iran-Con­tra scan­dal and the Lete­lier assas­si­na­tion.

12. Dis­cus­sion of con­nec­tions between Iran-Con­tra drug smug­gler Bar­ry Seal, Fer­rie and Lee Har­vey Oswald. “On July 16, 1955, his 16th birth­day, Seal got his pilot’s license. The infor­ma­tion will be con­tained in a forth­com­ing book, Bar­ry and the Boys by Daniel Hop­sick­er. Two weeks lat­er, he board­ed a U.S. Air Force plane for a two-week sum­mer camp with the Civ­il Air Patrol at Barks­dale Air Force Base in Shreve­port, Louisiana. There he came under the com­mand of David Fer­rie, and met fel­low cadet Lee Har­vey Oswald, two prin­ci­pal fig­ures in the assas­si­na­tion of Pres­i­dent John F. Kennedy.” (“Inside the Octo­pus” by Pre­ston Peet; The Best of High Times, #28; p. 81.)

13. Lat­er in his career, Seal went to work for the 20th Spe­cial Forces Group, ele­ments of which were giv­ing mil­i­tary train­ing to the Ku Klux Klan and were also present in Mem­phis, Ten­nessee on the day Mar­tin Luther King was assas­si­nat­ed. “He [Seal] was assigned to the 21st Spe­cial Forces Group and went to jump school in Ft. Ben­ning, Geor­gia. On May 1, 1963, Seal was assigned to Com­pa­ny D, Spe­cial Ops Detach­ment of the 20th Spe­cial Forces Group—Spec Forces Group Air­borne.” (Ibid.; p. 82.)

14. Some observers believe Seal may have been con­nect­ed to the assas­si­na­tion of JFK. “Dur­ing this time, just before Pres­i­dent Kennedy was killed, an illu­mi­nat­ing pho­to­graph was tak­en. A smil­ing 24-year-old Seal is seat­ed at a night­club table in Mex­i­co City with [Water­gate bur­glar] Frank Stur­gis, [Iran-Con­tra oper­a­tive] Felix Rodriguez, and William Sey­mour, all mem­bers of the CIA’s assas­si­na­tion squad, Oper­a­tion 40. Louis Gaudin an air-traf­fic con­troller at Red­bird Air­port, locat­ed south of Dal­las, told the FBI he recalled observ­ing three men in busi­ness suits board a Comanche-type air­craft hours after the assas­si­na­tion. Seal owned such a plane, and many believe he flew the plane that spir­it­ed the assas­sins to Cana­da.” (Idem.)


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