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Why Did Clay Bertrand Call Dean Andrews?


Don Jeffries
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Recently, my friend Dean Andrews III and I were discussing his father, as we frequently do. The subject of the phone call he received in the hospital naturally came up. Dean is still at a loss to explain why his father was contacted, and I am, too.

As I envision the conspiracy, Shaw/Bertrand, along with David Ferrie and Jack Ruby (possibly the Paines), were part of the "ground floor" level of plotters. They were the ones who directly interacted with Oswald, and controlled him to some extent, while they were all being manipulated by more powerful forces. The question is; how does this phone call to Andrews fit into such a scenario?

Unless Shaw was also some sort of patsy, why would he be contacting anyone about representing Oswald? Presumably, the plan was already established to silence Oswald asap, so why would those who were orchestrating his fate be concerned with finding him legal representation? What purpose did this phone call serve?

Since Andrews was in the hospital, why would Bertrand choose him to represent Oswald? He had no idea, presumably, of how sick Andrews might be, and surely there were numerous other lawyers he could have contacted who were available immediately. Andrews had only a passing awareness of Oswald, who had failed to pay him for services rendered. Thus, he seems a strange choice.

Unless Bertrand was fooled into thinking he was "in charge" of the plot, why would he be chosen to make such a call? If he made it on his own, we have to question why he called any lawyer at all, let alone why he picked Andrews. Didn't he risk exposing his alternate identity to the authorities? At the very least, shouldn't he have suspected that someone might actually believe Andrews, and thereby associate him with the suspected assassin of JFK? Why would he do that, unless he understood they wouldn't look into the matter? But if he knew that, he realized there were much larger interests at stake here. As such, he wouldn't take it upon himself to make such a call, and would seemingly question it if he'd been ordered to make it.

if Bertrand was somehow a clueless conspirator at the ground level, the phone call to Andrews makes no sense. if he had more inside knowledge, and was aware Oswald was going to be killed, then clearly it makes even less sense. However we look at it, the call to Andrews was highly significant, as it proved to be the initial impetus for Garrison's investigation.

I'm just trying to think outside the box here. i'd be interested in all your comments.

Edited by Don Jeffries
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Shaw/Bertrand-and I don't even know why we have to use the slash, since its overwhelming now that Clay Shaw was Bertrand and the FBI knew it--was not aware of who's plot was the one that killed JFK.

He was aware that there were other ones afoot. But since he was only in on the New Orleans angle, and not the end game, he didn't know who, or how Dallas was constructed. And they were not going to tell him, of course. So not knowing all the ins and outs, he made this call.

Why Andrews? Shaw called Andrews thinking that Andrews would be a poor criminal lawyer for Oswald. And that he could be intimidated, which of course he was.

This was one of the many loose appendages in the plot e.g. like the Odio incident.

Adding my .02 :

With the plotter's attention to detail, it would seem obvious to make sure LHO's legal counsel could be manipulated. Why even risk the possibility of a top-notch lawyer defending Oswald -- Someone who might bring uncomfortable facts into the public's view? This could have been much more important if Ruby had failed in his mission.

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Was the president of the bar assoc. involved in not helping Oswald?.

We know he was not representing Oswald is there any information

On thier meeting?.

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Thanks for the responses. What is also baffling here is Andrews' seeming mystification over why he was contacted to represent Oswald. As he told the Warren Commission, he'd been trying to track down "Bertrand" to ask him this (and also get some money he was owed). Andrews provided greatly inconsistent physical descriptions of "Bertrand," telling the Commission he was about 5'8 after earlier stating to the FBI, more accurately, that he was about 6'2.

If Andrews was chosen by Shaw because he could be "trusted" on some level, why would he still be wondering aloud about being contacted, during his WC testimony? Wouldn't he have had to have been "in the loop" to some degree? If not, why would he have been picked?

There are other interesting aspects to Andrews' WC testimony. For instance, counselor Wesley Liebeler asked him if Kerry Thornley was one of the "gay kids" that accompanied Oswald to Andrews' office. Why would Liebeler associate Oswald and Thornley in this way? Also, Andrews refers to Oswald as a "patsy" at one point. To my knowledge, he was the first person (outside of Oswald himself) to use this term.

Imho, Dean Andrews' testimony is more interesting than any other in the 26 volumes of WC Hearings and Exhibits. From his vow to "find the guy who really killed" JFK to his hip, beatnik expressions, it's a great read. For those who haven't read it all, it can be accessed here:

http://www.history-matters.com/archive/jfk/wc/wcvols/wh11/pdf/WH11_Andrews.pdf

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Ian,

I guess you're referring to H. Louis Nichols, who visited Oswald in jail and inexplicably claimed Oswald was not anxious about his lack of legal representation. If there was one common theme in Oswald's few public pronouncements, it was his overt desire for a lawyer.

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If I read your comments correctly, Don, I share your confusion about the Andrews story. On the face of it, it makes no sense at all. Why would the conspirators engage an attorney of Andrews' flamboyance/eccentricity, and one based in New Orleans, to boot? What made them think they could trust him as part of the plot? If he was part of the plot, why would he immediately contact FBI Special Agent Regis Leo Kennedy and tell him about it, blowing the whole thing? If Andrews was determined to tell Kennedy about it, why didn't he name Shaw? Why were his earlier descriptions of Bertrand so different from Shaw? Why, from time to time, did Andrews even suggest that he may have misunderstood or mischaracterized the call in the first place? Why didn't the conspirators find a way to shut Andrews up? Why, after Orleans Parish DA Jim Garrison started questioning him about it and speculated that it might be Shaw, did Andrews (by his own account) deny that it was Shaw, and stick with that position?

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Stephen, you make some good points. Yes, I think we are looking at this in a similar way.

Jim, I certainly understand how eager Andrews was to save his own neck (recall his statement, "I like to live. If they can get the presdient, they can crush me like a bug.") But as Stephen notes, why did he tell Regis Kennedy about the call? Why was he still seemingly puzzled about being contacted when he testified before the Warren Commission? Would a conspirator, at any level, raise the points he did during his WC testimony, about the impossibility of Oswald firing the shots?

Dean's son has told me someone did put out a contract on his father's life, but that Carlos Marcello, according to him a personal friend of his father's, intervened. Even after the Shaw trial, Dean Andrews grew more paranoid as time went on, and his family clearly understood he was afraid and believed the assassination was the result of a high level conspiracy.

I think Andrews was genuinely baffled about being contacted to represent such a celebrated client. My interest in him has been rekindled because of my friendship with his son. I do think that phone call he received was significant and I do not believe we know the whole story behind it.

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The Andrews thing makes no sense.

It's hard to believe that a group capable of pulling off the assassination would inadvertently have Bertrand contact a flamboyant and unpredictable lawyer, known for Marcello ties, in New Orleans and not in Texas, to defend a man they intended to silence by murder.

Even if we speculate that Bertrand - a man some suggest was savvy enough to manipulate Oswald - goofed by calling Andrews, why did the conspirators stand idly by while Andrews reported him to the FBI, and stand idly by again when Andrews testified before the Warren Commission? Why didn't they shut him up?

If an unwitting Andrews was determined to rat-out Bertrand, why did he describe him as so unlike Shaw (early 20s, blonde crewcut)? Why (outside of a comment to Weisberg, who was skeptical of Andrews' truthfulness) did Andrews always deny (or fail to confirm) that it was Shaw who called him? Why bring up Bertrand in the first place but then seemingly protect his identity? If one takes Andrews at his word, he never actually did receive a call from Clay Shaw. On what basis do we disbelieve this and speculate otherwise?

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As everyone seems to agree, Dean Andrews could be intimidated, and he was. He seems to operate as some sort of a loose cannon. In order to weigh and evaluate the many different things he said, it helps to prioritize them. We can, for example, weigh the things he said initially heavier then the excuses he made later, due to his being intimidated. Simply to dismiss everything he said as 'nonsense' just allows those who intimidated Andrews in the first place to win.

Edited by Pamela Brown
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You sound very certain about it. I've covered much the same ground, and I am not so certain about it.

That Andrews told people of a call from Washington is not a very specific intimidation. He continued to talk about the call though 1967, including under oath, so he can't have been very intimidated by it. And Andrews' accuracy in relating such events is a central issue, as Weisberg said.

Andrews did tell a few others about a call in 1963, but even one of them said something like he's "sure Andrews believes that he got such a call." Again, it rests on Andrews's accuracy in relating such events. His 1963 Bertrand was a young guy with a blond crew-cut. Which story was the accurate one?

If people think the Andrews story falls together, I must be missing something.

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My questions about the call from Bertrand to Andrews should not suggest that I doubt he ever received such a call. I do believe Andrews was intimidated, as he suggested in interviews ("they can squash me like a bug," "I got the shortest memory in the world," etc.) From knowing his son (and I also met and spoke with his widow), I've learned just how paranoid Andrews was in his later years.

This paranoia clearly stemmed from his connection, however tenuous it was, with the events in Dallas. If he'd merely made the story up, there was little for him to fear, and he had no need to make the kinds of cryptic comments he did, nor to believe someone was after him years later. I don't think there is any question that he did get that phone call.

But given that the call was real, and from Clay Shaw using his alias, how do we explain it from a logical perspective? That was my initial point, and I do think Stephen is asking some pertinent questions in that regard, although I don't share his suspicions that Andrews may have invented the story.

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Don:

I'm not closed-minded about it. It is possible that Andrews received a call in 1963, perhaps even likely, given the quickness of his contacts with Regis Kennedy. I'm just trying to place it in the logical context of conspiracy. Further, Andrews could be a bit flaky at times, and I'm trying to reason-out which of his accounts "ring truer."

I must also confess to having been influenced by Harold Weisberg. In the 80s and 90s, he counseled me to be a bit skeptical of the New Orleans investigation, and his writings at the Hood Archive tend to reinforce that. But a caveat: Harold could be very "firm of opinion," and he had some issues with the New Orleans investigation which caused him to be too-uncompromising at times.

I am open to being convinced, and I respect Jim DiEugenio and I look forward to the update of Destiny Betrayed. Jim, somewhere you gave your take on why Weisberg had problems with the NO investigation, but I can't find it anywhere. Could you point me to it, or re-state it? Thanks!

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Weisberg's writings are so sprawled across his poorly-organized (but valuable) website, and his letters seemed to meander everywhere, that it's hard to tell. He often repeats that he was not paid for a late 1968 trip, that Garrison never really warmed to him or took his advice at times, that he had problems with the Perrin matter, as you note, that he disagreed with having LHO innocent but also part of the conspiracy case, etc. Although some of his exchanges with Garrison in the 70s seem cordial, he seemed to re-ignite his anger when On The Trail came out, and he got very angry when he learned about the Stone film.

A very significant guy and an influence on me, but quirky.

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