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A fresh analysis of the Dean Andrews phone call and the name "Clay Bertrand"


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Part 1 of 3

The phone call to attorney Dean Andrews in New Orleans on Sat Nov 23, 1963, asking him to represent Lee Harvey Oswald in Dallas

Around 4 pm on Sat Nov 23, 1963, attorney Dean Andrews in a hospital room in New Orleans received a phone call asking him to go to Dallas and represent Lee Harvey Oswald. Andrews then phoned his secretary at home, Eva Springer, and told her he had been retained to represent Oswald in Dallas, whereupon Eva said she would not go to Dallas to help in that purpose. That moments-later phone call to Eva Springer, as well as Dean Andrews’ calling another attorney the next morning, Sam “Zonk” Melden, to ask him to go to Dallas on his behalf since he would be delayed due to being in the hospital, confirms the call to Dean Andrews concerning legal counsel for Oswald in Dallas was real, such that a later attempt on Dean Andrews' part to convince investigators he had imagined the whole thing is not credible.

As Eva Springer confirmed, she asked Dean Andrews in that phone call who had asked him to represent Oswald. Andrews had answered a single word, "Bertrand", a name that meant nothing to her. That answer of Dean Andrews locked in a name which thereafter Andrews could only try to explain in various ways but could not alter in terms of the name itself.

As the story came to the attention of investigators, Dean Andrews covered up and dissembled, for some reason unwilling to identify who had called him other than the name. He gave contradictory and unbelievable testimony concerning the identity of "Clay Bertrand", one unconvincing story after another, tried to convince investigators he had imagined the whole thing—why? To Mark Lane he was reported to have answered that question: “they told me if I said anything I would have a hole blown in my head” (quoted in William Turner, “The Inquest”, Ramparts 5/12 [June 1967], 24, cited Mellen, Farewell to Justice [2007 edn], 197 and 464), paraphrased to others as “I love to breathe”, as the reason for his dissembling. Who were "they"? A friend of Dean Andrews’ son writes in 2012:

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.” (https://educationforum.ipbhost.com/topic/19485-why-did-clay-bertrand-call-dean-andrews/)

In sum, there was a real phone call; Dean Andrews covered up who had called; there may have been a name “Bertrand” associated with that phone call; and finally, there is the hint of Marcello of New Orleans, mob boss of 3-1/2 states, in the background.

 

Marcello tells Dean Andrews that he has learned that “others” want to put out a contract on Dean Andrews but not to worry; Marcello, not wishing to see such an unfortunate thing happen to his good friend Dean Andrews, will see that that doesn’t happen, OK? In the movie version it would end with “I’m glad we had this little chat”. Something like that?  

Dean Andrews’ coverup

On Sun Nov 24 Oswald was shot and killed, rendering planning of Dean Andrews and Sam “Zonk” Zelden to represent Oswald in Dallas irrelevant. On Sun Nov 24 Andrews contacted the Secret Service in New Orleans and on Mon Nov 25 Andrews was interviewed by both the Secret Service and FBI. Andrews disclosed to those agencies that his law office had had a relationship with Oswald who was interested in appealing a military discharge status, as well as the phone call of Nov 23 asking Andrews to provide legal counsel to Oswald in Dallas which Andrews said had come from a “Clay Bertrand”. Andrews soon told the FBI, never mind, the phone call never happened. Andrews told the FBI that under the effect of his medications at the hospital he had imagined the whole thing. Andrews would go on to explain that despite his and his staff’s best efforts, no records of Oswald could be found at the office. Andrews first claimed to the FBI there never were files of Oswald started even though he said Oswald had been to the office several times; then later explained to the Warren Commission that a burglary of his office had removed those records.

For having done business with “Clay Bertrand” of New Orleans over a period of quite some time as Dean Andrews claimed under oath in his Warren Commission testimony, the likeable, rotund, jive-talking Dean Andrews, with his hilarious turns of expression, seemed astonishingly poorly informed concerning that individual. He had no idea where Bertrand was located, did not know how to reach him, had no phone number or address or workplace for him, knew no one who knew him, and although he claimed he had met him in person, gave conflicting physical descriptions all over the map. No such person described by Andrews was ever found or identified by investigators. In Dean Andrews’ testimony to the Warren Commission Andrews returned to saying a phone call from Clay Bertrand had happened but gave no helpful or reliable information: 

“I wish I could be more specific, that's all. This is my impression, for whatever it is worth, of Clay Bertrand: His connections with Oswald I don't know at all. I think he is a lawyer without a brief case. That's my opinion. He sends the kids different places. Whether this boy is associated with Lee Oswald or not, I don't know (. . .) this boy Bertrand has been bugging me ever since. I will find him sooner or later."

In light of Andrews' other prevarications, the unverified claim of the break-in which had stolen his office files on Oswald (but apparently no files of other clients) is questionable. One wonders whether Andrews himself caused Oswald records to disappear. Also, all that Dean Andrews said about “Clay Bertrand” other than the name itself should be presumed unreliable (given the evidence and motive of coverup on the part of Andrews). All—all—of Dean Andrews’ claims and descriptions concerning “Clay Bertrand” are well understood as fabrications with intent to deflect and prevaricate.

“At their historic lunch [Oct 1966], Jim Garrison thrust a copy of Whitewash [by Harold Weisburg] under Andrews’ nose. What he wanted, what Andrews would not yield, was the real identity of ‘Clay Bertrand.’ You’re worse than the Feebees, Andrews told Garrison. But Garrison persisted, threatening to summon Andrews to the grand jury and charge him with perjury. Andrews begged to speak ‘off the record’. Garrison refused. According to Garrison, Andrews then grew frantic. It would mean ‘a bullet in my head,’ he pleaded.” (Mellen, Farewell to Justice, 29-30, from Garrison’s account in On the Trail of the Assassins [1988]). 

Those who are certain Dean Andrews’ caller that day was Clay Shaw, the managing director of the New Orleans Trade Mart, may not be interested in reading further. The following is for those who realize that "Clay Bertrand" was not an alias of Clay Shaw, while at the same time realize that the phone call was real. What follows in this three-parter is a proposed explanation of the phone call to Dean Andrews and of the name “Bertrand” in answer to his secretary when she asked who had called.

Background: the innocence of Clay Shaw

The debunking of the several witness claims purporting to show that Clay Shaw used "Clay Bertrand" as an alias has been done elsewhere and will not be rehearsed here. Suffice it to say there is no "there" there when that witness testimony is looked at case by case. Probably the best online rundowns and analyses of these witnesses showing the claims that Clay Shaw used that alias are insubstantial, are Reitzes, https://www.jfk-assassination.net/shaw2.htm and Litwin, https://www.onthetrailofdelusion.com/post/jfk-revisited-was-clay-shaw-the-elusive-clay-bertrand, in agreement with the judgment of Mark Lane who worked closely with Garrison and realized Garrison was mistaken there (“Was [‘Clay Bertrand’] really Clay Shaw, Garrison wondered. Shaw consistently denied that he had ever used that pseudonym. I never saw credible evidence which convinced me that he had ever used the alias” [Mark Lane, Rush to Judgment, 1992 edn, p. xxxi]). 

Once those witness testimonies are deconstructed, Clay Shaw is seen as truthful in denying he was the caller to Dean Andrews arranging legal counsel for Oswald in Dallas. It remains however to explain the name "Bertrand" associated with the phone call Andrews received.

Who would be the most likely caller to Dean Andrews to obtain legal representation for Oswald in Dallas (setting aside the meaning of "Clay Bertrand" for the moment)?

The present proposal develops an earlier suggestion of Peter Whitmey that the phone call to Dean Andrews at issue came from Clem Sehrt, a senior attorney with links to the Marcello crime organization and childhood friend of Marguerite Oswald. Clem Sehrt did legal work for Marguerite and Lee in the 1950s when Lee joined the Marines. The HSCA reported that Sehrt privately said he had been contacted with a request to provide Oswald with legal counsel the weekend of the assassination. From Peter Whitmey, "The Curious Connections of Clem H. Sehrt", Fourth Decade 2/1 (Nov 1994), 46-47:

"Although [Clem] Sehrt recalled [in an FBI interview of 12/24/63] having been in contact with LHO's mother in connection with a disputed estate involving some property 'over twenty years ago', he indicated to SA Kennedy that he had not had any further contact with Mrs. Oswald since then. He went on to state that 'it was not until he saw her photograph in a magazine that he recognized her as the person he had known in his youth and as a young, practicing attorney.' Finally, Sehrt 'advised' that he had never 'seen...Lee Harvey Oswald...did not know Jack Ruby', and had no knowledge of any associates of either one.

"However, much of what Sehrt had stated was contradicted two months later when Marguerite Oswald testified before the Warren Commission, as she described her attempt to help Lee Oswald obtain a false birth certificate in October, 1955, so he could join the Marines before he turned seventeen. Marguerite stated that her son had tried to convince her to 'falsify his birth certificate', which she initially refused to do. She did, however, contact '...a very good friend, Mr. Clem Sehrt, who is an attorney in New Orleans, La. I called him and told him I had a personal problem. I had not seen Mr. Sehrt since early childhood. I knew the family. That Lee was not of age and he wanted to join the Marines. And he quit the school and told them we were going out of town.' In response, Sehrt indicated to her that it would be 'unethical' for him to give her any advice, although he did suggest that ‘...a lot of boys join the service at age 16’. Mrs. Oswald indicated to the Warren Commission having been encouraged to let her son join up, despite being underage, by Dutz Murrett, along with an unnamed colonel and a recruiting officer. She described visiting Sehrt's office with five dollars in hand, planning to claim having lost Lee’s birth certificate (. . .) Even though Sehrt had indicated to the FBI two months earlier that he hadn't seen Marguerite Oswald in over twenty years, the Warren Commission did not seem to feel it was worth interviewing Sehrt himself, in order to resolve the conflicting accounts. The matter was simply left in limbo. 

"When the HSCA investigated Marguerite Oswald's links to associates of Carlos Marcello, Clem Sehrt's name came to their attention through Aaron Kohn of the New Orleans Crime Commission. First, one of Sehrt's law partners had served as an attorney for Carlos Marcello. Second, Sehrt had been closely associated with a banking official named Louis Russell for many years, particularly in the 1950's, who, in turn, had been closely linked to Carlos Marcello. Kohn informed the Committee that both Sehrt and Russell had been ‘...long involved in a number of highly questionable undertakings, both business and political.’ (Sehrt was elected president of the National American Bank in 1963, having served on the board of directors since 1958, and previously had been general counsel to the state banking department and the Orleans Levee Board during the 1950's, in addition to practicing law for thirty years.)

"The most intriguing information about Sehrt, provided to the HSCA by the New Orleans Crime Commission, was derived from a ‘former associate of Sehrt’s, a source it regarded as highly reliable.’ Sehrt had told the unidentified associate prior to his death (no date given) that ‘...some party had contacted him soon after the assassination to request that he go to Dallas to represent the accused assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald. Sehrt's associate could not recall any further information.’ Unfortunately, given the fact that Sehrt was no longer alive [d. 1974], and the additional fact that the information was not provided until Dec. 7, 1978, shortly before the HSCA ended their investigation, there was no further inquiry. It is possible that Marguerite Oswald contacted Sehrt to represent her son through her brother-in-law, Dutz Murret, given his links to Marcello and possibly even Sehrt (they had both been boxers) (. . .)

"It is conceivable that Sehrt and [Dean] Andrews knew each other professionally and/or personally, and that Sehrt attempted to pass on a request for Oswald's representation to him. Given the fact that Sehrt's law office was in the Pere Marquette Building, it is also possible that he could be linked to [Marcello attorney] G. Wray Gill, David Ferrie and even Eugene Hale Brading (a.k.a. Jim Braden), although not necessarily to the assassination itself. If there is ever another investigation of the JFK assassination, the curious connections of Clem Sehrt should certainly command more attention than was the case in 1964 and 1978." (https://www.jfk-assassination.net/whitmeysehrt.htm)

The logical source of the request to Clem Sehrt would be Marguerite Oswald, who grew up with Clem Sehrt and had called upon Sehrt for legal help in the past regarding Lee. And that is confirmed by this testimony that indeed Marguerite did call Clem Sehrt in Louisiana at some point the weekend of the assassination seeking legal help for her son Lee in Dallas.

"Memorandum: October 14, 1968

"From: Andrew J. Sciambra, Assistant D.A.

"To: Jim Garrison, District Attorney

"Re: Interview of Joseph Cooper, Baton Rouge, La. Relative to Lee
Harvey Oswald

"I interviewed Cooper who informed me that he and Marguerite Oswald communicate with each other by telephone from time to time. He said the last time he talked to Marguerite Oswald was about a month ago after he got out of the hospital.

"Marguerite Oswald's private telephone number in Dallas, Texas is: A/C 817-732-6839. 

"Cooper said that he has established a fine relationship with Marguerite and would be glad to go to Dallas and talk to her for us.

"In addition to some of the information which he has given us in the past, Cooper said that Marguerite told him that she called Clem Sehrt after the assassination and asked him to help her son. Sehrt informed her that he no longer practiced law. She said she had known Sehrt and Victor Schiro when she was living in New Orleans." (https://www.jfk-assassination.net/weberman/jcooper.htm)

Clem Sehrt declined to become Lee’s legal counsel himself, but Sehrt’s response to the appeal from his childhood friend may not have ended with that turn-down. The reconstruction is that Sehrt did what he could, contacted Dean Andrews whom he likely knew, who already was doing legal work for Oswald. This becomes the sensible source of the phone call to Dean Andrews at ca. 4 pm Sat Nov 23 (apart from the name “Bertrand” which calls for explanation). Dean Andrews' repeated expressed fear for his life--which was surely serious underneath his hilarious external demeanor--as his reason for refusing to be forthcoming concerning who had called him, is explicable in terms of mob in the background, Marcello crime organization in the background, consistent if Dean Andrews’ caller had been Clem Sehrt. If it had been requested of Dean Andrews that Sehrt’s identity be kept in confidence, and Dean Andrews had given his word that he would, that, plus knowledge of the dangerous people he was dealing with, would account for Dean Andrews' dissembling to the point of perjury under oath.

But although this analysis may make reasonable sense up to this point—that the logical trajectory of the request for legal counsel for Lee would be Marguerite Oswald to Clem Sehrt to Dean Andrews—there remains the puzzle of the name "Bertrand". What is to be made of that?

(continued)

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Part 2 of 3

How did Dean Andrews come to name “Clay Bertrand” as his caller?

There are several possibilities. One, Dean Andrews could have just made up the name out of the air, just as he told the Warren Commission he had made up two other names out of the air on another matter to the FBI (who had taken Andrews seriously and looked for the names given). This first option was suggested by an investigator employed by Andrews, Prentiss Davis. 

“Researcher Jerry Shinley unearthed a long-forgotten item from a New Orleans Times-Picayune August 13, 1967, article on Dean Andrews’ perjury trial: a statement from Dean Andrews’ investigator Prentiss Davis, who ‘volunteered the information that Andrews frequently used the name Bertrand to mask the identity of whomever he might be talking to …’” (https://www.jfk-assassination.net/shaw2.htm)

The weak point here is that the secretary, Eva Springer, showed no knowledge of such a practice on the part of Andrews, nor, in Davis’s original FBI interview of Dec 5, 1963, is there record of Davis having said that in explanation of the name (https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=1142#relPageId=392). In the absence of verification this has the appearance of a created explanation by a friend to help a friend.

Two, there was an unconfirmed rumor that a nurse at the hospital where Dean Andrews was recuperating was named Clare Bertrand; perhaps that was where Dean Andrews got the name? From a diary kept by Tom Bethel, a staffer of the Garrison investigation:

“[Aug 19, 1967] [Deputy prosecutor] Alcock suggested that Dean might have just made up the name Bertrand. He said there was a rumor that there had been a nurse at the Hotel Dieu while Andrew was there named Clare Bertrand, and that as far as he knew nobody checked this out.” (https://www.jfk-assassination.net/bethell1.htm

Three, there was a real Clay Bertrand, by that name, originally from Lafayette, Louisiana but reported to have been in New Orleans around the time of the assassination, his existence missed by the FBI in 1963 and apparently missed also by the Garrison investigation in 1967-1969. 

“[Managing director of the Metropolitan Crime Commission of New Orleans Aaron] Kohn advised that he also received information that there is [in 1967] a man named Clay Bertrand living in Lafayette, Louisiana, a real estate broker that lived in New Orleans about the time of the assassination of President Kennedy. Kohn unable to supply additional information re Clay Bertrand of Lafayette, Louisiana. (FBI New Orleans to Director, 2/25/67, https://www.jfk-online.com/jpssfbidcs.html)

Obituaries from 2019 of this Clay Bertrand (verification of his existence), https://www.legacy.com/us/obituaries/dailyworld/name/clay-bertrand-obituary?pid=193240801https://www.melanconfuneralhome.net/obituary/claiborne-bertrand

There is no known connection of this Clay Bertrand with anyone of interest to the JFK assassination. But could it be that Dean Andrews had some otherwise-unknown contact with this Clay Bertrand and the name somehow entered into Andrews’ telling of the phone call?  

Four, Dean Andrews, taking notes as he listened to the caller, handwrote a line which included the word string "Clem Sehrt and" or “Clem Sehrtand”, then misread his own handwriting as "Clay Bertrand". 

Five, there have always been some investigators who have thought, encouraged in some ways by Dean Andrews himself, that “Clay Bertrand” indeed was an alias but used by Eugene Davis, proprietor of a New Orleans restaurant called the Court of the Two Sisters. Just as in the case of Clay Shaw, there are witness testimonies which believers in the Eugene Davis solution can cite. Davis himself denied both use of the alias and that he made the Nov 23 phone call to Dean Andrews. The problem with identification of Dean Andrews’ caller as Eugene Davis, apart from making no sense with respect to Oswald (who had no known association with Eugene Davis or gay or any other nightlife, nor did Eugene Davis have anything to do with the assassination in Dallas), is the same as the Clay Shaw alias witnesses, just not substantial. The one possible exception which I see is from a William Livesay writing in Dec 2000. He comes across as credible. He says Eugene Davis sent him to Dean Andrews once when he needed a lawyer, and that Eugene Davis had told him on that occasion, “tell Andrews that Mr. Bertrand sent me. I remember this as though it were yesterday, and it meant absolutely nothing to me at the time. Only after seeing nearly 40 years later, how crucial the Clem Bertrand thing was to the Garrison case, does it have any meaning to me” (https://jfk-online.com/livesaypost.html). However although I believe this witness is truthful, the problem is the witness’s memory of the name first comes to light nearly forty years later, not contemporary, such that it is impossible to know that the witness's memory is not simply mistaken. If, however, there is anything to Eugene Davis using an alias “Bertrand”, the suggestion would be Dean Andrews used that fictitious name (drawn from Eugene Davis) in his answer to Eva Springer when asked who the caller of Nov 23 was who asked Andrews to represent Oswald in Dallas, not that Eugene Davis was that caller. 

None of the five possibilities above seems satisfying, though it must also be said that each of the above is difficult to categorically exclude either. Option five is the most appealing of the above to me, such that if the proposal to follow (option six) is ultimately deemed to fail, some form of option five by default would probably be the correct explanation as I see it. 

Here is my proposed solution, option six: the name “Clay Bertrand” reflects the name Lane Bertram, Secret Service Special Agent in Charge at Houston, the equivalent in Houston to Sorrels of Dallas. In a website post of 2012 Vince Palamara took note of a phonetic similarity between the two names as a passing curiosity, but did not take it any further beyond that:

when New Orleans lawyer Dean Andrews (a man known to the Secret Service for hisassistance in legal matters) testified to the Warren Commission that a ‘Clay Bertrand’ called him on 11/23/63 and asked him to defend Oswald (Andrews had previously seen Oswald in the summer of 1963 on various legal matters), no one realized that ‘Clay Bertrand’ was phonetically close to Lane Bertram. (Andrews interview with Fred Newcomb)(CD No. 75, page 305; 11 H 327; 26 H 704; 11 H 332 – 333; 26 H 357) In fact, the SAIC of the New Orleans office, J. Calvin Rice, stated that Andrews was ‘well known to this office’! (CD No. 87) However, when the FBI attempted to find out who the man really was, they stated: ‘…locate any recordidentifiable with Clay Bertrand or Bertram’! (26 H 356)…” (https://vincepalamara.com/2012/04/09/lane-bertram-and-the-day-before-dallas/)

Newcomb and Adams on Lane Bertram as Clay Bertrand

After I completed the research and writing of the rest of this piece, alerted by the Vince Palamara mention above, I tracked down the reference to Fred Newcomb. To my surprise I found that Fred Newcomb and Perry Adams, in their little-known unpublished 1974 manuscript Murder from Within which was first published only in 2011 by Newcomb’s son, explicitly suggested the identification I develop in the present argument: that Dean Andrews’ Clay Bertrand was Lane Bertram. 

The reference has special meaning to me. For in the early months of 1977 I was living in Santa Barbara, California, and read a feature article in a local weekly newspaper about a JFK assassination theory developed by what I thought at the time was a professor (actually staff) at the University of California at Santa Barbara, Perry Adams. I called Adams out of the phone book and Adams generously invited me over, and in his living room allowed me to read the entire manuscript, double-spaced on typed pages, which I did. He waited until I finished reading, then I had a good talk with him. I had no expertise or knowledge of the JFK assassination at that time beyond the general public’s interest in what happened. I soon moved away from Santa Barbara, lost contact with Perry Adams, and it was not until about 2017 that I began researching the JFK assassination for real. And now, as if in a Rip Van Winkle time-warp, I find the Lane Bertram = Clay Bertrand identification which I must have read in those pages long ago in coauthor Adams’ living room, has come to life.

Here are Newcomb and Adams as published in 2011. After telling the story of Secret Service agent Lane Bertram causing the Warren Commission to go into emergency session concerning a report by Bertram that Oswald had been an FBI informant, Newcomb and Adams continue:

“Bertram may also have tried to get an attorney to defend Oswald. The lawyer was Dean A. Andrews, Jr., of New Orleans, who had done some work for the Secret Service in the past. The agent in charge of the New Orleans field office noted Andrews was ‘well known to this office.’ (. . .) Andrews testified to the Commission Bertrand phoned on Nov. 23, 1963, and asked him to defend Oswald. Andrews’ secretary confirmed Bertrand had hired him. The possibility exists that Secret Service agent Lane Bertram and Andrews’ Clay Bertrand are the same person. Andrews’ position, however, is unclear . . .” (Newcomb and Adams, Murder From Within, pp. 230-31)

The allusion to Dean Andrews having “done some work for the Secret Service in the past” goes to a footnote without further elaboration, “Interview with Dean A. Andrews, Jr.” Newcomb and Adams conducted many original interviews. It sounds as if they personally interviewed Andrews. Is there a possibility that a tape of that interview could somewhere still exist? 

That is all I see in Newcomb and Adams on this. Now I return to my own narrative. 

Lane Bertram as intermediary in a conveyance of a message from Marguerite Oswald to Clem Sehrt

The way SAIC Lane Bertram of Houston gets into the phone call to Dean Andrews goes like this. As is well known, Oswald, arrested early Fri afternoon Nov 22, still remained without legal counsel on Sat Nov 23 through hours of questioning and grilling. For Lee’s family members, such as his mother Marguerite and his brother Robert, getting Lee legal counsel would have been a priority. This is supported by the testimony cited earlier that there was an attempt of Marguerite to reach longtime family friend and attorney Clem Sehrt in New Orleans that weekend with exactly that request.

But how and when would that attempt by Marguerite have happened?

The Oswald family at the Dallas Police station on Sat Nov 23

In Dallas that Saturday, Marguerite and Robert Oswald were concerned about getting legal counsel for Lee. Marguerite from a hotel phone that morning had called Captain Fritz asking if the family members could visit Lee. Fritz told her they could see Lee at 12:00 pm, noon. From Marguerite Oswald’s Warren Commission testimony, speaking of Sat morning Nov 23:

Mrs. [Marguerite] Oswald. I said, 'It is no good to tell my daughter-in-law, because my daughter-in-law is not leaving here with you, Mr. Odum [FBI agent], without counsel.' And I had been telling Marina, 'No, no.' She said, 'I do, Momma,' she kept saying. Just then my son, Robert, entered the room, and Mr. Odum said, 'Robert, we would like to take Marina and question her.' He said, 'No, I am sorry, we are going to try to get lawyers for both she and Lee.' So he [Odum] left. We went to the courthouse and we sat and sat, and while at the courthouse my son, Robert, was being interviewed by—I don't know whether it was Secret Service or FBI agents--in a glass enclosure. We were sitting—an office, a glass enclosed office. We were sitting on the bench right there.

Mr. Rankin. Where was this?

Mrs. Oswald. In the Dallas courthouse, on Saturday. So we waited quite a while. One of the men came by and said 'I am sorry that we are going to be delayed in letting you see Lee, but we have picked up another suspect.' I said, to Marina, 'Oh, Marina, good, another man they think maybe shoot Kennedy.'

Mr. Rankin. Did you ask anything about who this suspect was?

Mrs. Oswald. No, sir; I did not. He just give the information why we would be delayed. We sat out there quite a while. The police were very nice. They helped us about the baby. We went into another room for privacy, for Marina to nurse Rachel. It was 2 or 3 hours before we got to see Lee. We went upstairs and were allowed to see Lee. This was in the jail--the same place I had been from the very beginning, and we were taken upstairs. And by the way, they only issued a pass for Marina and myself, and not Robert. And Robert was very put out, because he thought he was also going to see his brother. Whether Robert saw his brother or not, I do not know, Mr. Rankin.

Marguerite and Marina returned to their hotel after they had seen Lee, while Robert remained. Robert Oswald, in Lee: A Portrait of Lee Harvey Oswald by his Brother (1967), 135-48, continues the story of that Saturday. According to Robert, after further delay he did finally get to see his brother that afternoon—but only after intervention on his behalf from Secret Service agents who were present with him. Robert’s book mentions the names of Howard, Kunkel, and Kelley as Secret Service agents who assisted him in this.

The impression given is that if it had not been for Secret Service agents pressing the matter with the Dallas police, Robert would not have been allowed to see Lee at all that afternoon. The appearance is that the Dallas Police did not want Robert seeing Lee, or were doing their best to delay as long as they could, all while Lee, alone and without counsel, continued to undergo grueling questioning from Fritz and the agencies. Did the police fear that Robert would advise Lee to stop answering questions until a lawyer arrived?—and that would be the end of Lee talking? From a police interrogation point of view, the more delay in Lee getting an attorney the better, for the first thing attorneys tell clients accused of a serious crime is don’t talk to the police, at all. From the police point of view, the more Lee could be kept talking the better (in the best cases, though it was not happening with Lee, skilled interrogation and a suspect talking can lead to a confession). Even Marguerite and Marina were delayed over two hours beyond their promised time, while questioning of Lee continued. 

But sympathetic Secret Service agents intervened on Robert’s behalf so that Robert was able to see Lee. Here is Robert talking to his brother that afternoon of Sat Nov 23 from Robert’s book. Robert is concerned about Lee having a lawyer:

“’What about this attorney you tried to contact in New York?' I asked. 'Who is he?'

"'Well, he's just an attorney I want to handle my case.'

"'I'll get you an attorney down here.'

"'No,' he said, 'you stay out of it.'

"'Stay out of it? It looks like I've been dragged into it.'

"'I'm not going to have anybody from down here,' he said very firmly. 'I want this one.'

"'Well, all right.'”

Here is the slight conjectural leap that renders everything sensible. Instead of Marguerite, or Robert on Marguerite’s behalf, going to a phone and trying to dial to Clem Sehrt in New Orleans without knowing a current phone number for Sehrt, and this on a Saturday, Marguerite, perhaps after seeing Lee at the police station that Saturday afternoon but before leaving the building, asked a Secret Service person for help, or a Secret Service person offered to assist Marguerite—in getting a message to Sehrt on Marguerite’s behalf—Secret Service agents being the most personally supportive and considerate agency to the Oswalds at that moment in time. The suggestion is that the actual phone call was placed by a Secret Service agent who, quietly in the background, assisted in making a Marguerite-requested telephone contact to Sehrt in New Orleans re the badly needed legal counsel for Lee, just as Secret Service agents quietly but effectively intervened with the Dallas police to get Robert access to his brother in custody. On Sun and Mon Nov 24 and 25 Secret Service agents assisted Robert in making cemetery and burial arrangements for Lee. They did many small things to assist. All that needs to be supposed is that some sympathetic Secret Service agent said to Marguerite that he would see what he could do to get a message from her to Sehrt in New Orleans.

But, possibly as a tactic of distancing, due to the sensitivity of the Secret Service interjecting themselves even in this small way in assistance with a phone contact to a potential legal counsel for the accused assassin of the president, without any overt untruth about it, but as a way to be able to deny if asked if they personally had made a phone call to New Orleans for an attorney for Oswald, an agent or agent in Dallas made that call, not direct to Clem Sehrt in New Orleans, but to their colleague, Houston SAIC Lane Bertram

Or maybe a Dallas Secret Service agent was in contact with SAIC Bertram of Houston anyway and, needing to return to pressing duties in Dallas rather than the unknown amount of time it would take to track down Clem Sehrt by phone on a Saturday, simply for practical reasons gave the information to Lane Bertram and asked if he would do that, to get a message from Marguerite to Clem Sehrt.  

In any case—so the reconstruction goes—a Dallas Secret Service agent asked Lane Bertram to get a message to Clem Sehrt from Marguerite. Lane Bertram then made that call to attorney Sehrt, identified himself, explained the situation, passed along the plea from Marguerite for legal help for her son. Sehrt, not in a position to go to Dallas personally to do that, does what he can to get the needed legal assistance Marguerite has asked. He calls attorney Dean Andrews (it is practically certain Sehrt would have known him). All of this happens that Saturday afternoon of Nov 23, one phone call following another. Clem Sehrt tells Dean Andrews of the request from Marguerite including the name of Lane Bertram who had called Sehrt. 

(continued)

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Part 3 of 3

Dean Andrews makes an “excited utterance”

Dean Andrews then calls his secretary at her home, Eva Springer. Eva tells Andrews she will not go to Dallas for that purpose. Then the logical if fateful question from Eva to her boss. She asks, who asked you to represent Oswald? Dean Andrews has to answer something and thinks quickly but not quite quickly enough. He does not mention Clem Sehrt’s name but says (probably later regretting so) "Bertram" or perhaps Clem Sehrt or Dean Andrews already had heard “Bertram” as “Bertrand”. In either case the name which really was Bertram became told to the Secret Service and FBI on Mon Nov 25 by Eva and Dean Andrews as “Bertrand”. In the days that followed, Dean Andrews, even if he knew the true spelling of the name was “Bertram”, would be happy to have that slight alteration in spelling which would shield from discovery of the true identity of the name. (Dean Andrews also mislocated the time of the call to the FBI from the true time of just after 4 pm according to Eva Springer’s accurate memory, to “Saturday night” when he was “under sedation” in his original FBI interview, at which time he also claimed to the FBI that he had “made no notes” and that the caller had left no return phone number, of this phone call which involved what would have been the most significant legal case of his career and which he told his secretary and fellow attorney Zelden he was going to do [https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=10477#relPageId=307]).

The reason Dean Andrews would not want Lane Bertram of Houston identified as involved in his call would be because the FBI would interview Lane Bertram and then Clem Sehrt would become involved and under FBI scrutiny, which Andrews had been asked not to have happen.

An alternative trajectory could be Clem Sehrt makes his first call not to Dean Andrews but instead to the Marcello crime organization to find out what they want to do. The Marcello crime organization—if the concluding suspicion of the HSCA investigation that it had carried out the JFK assassination was correct—may have intended or anticipated that Oswald should have been killed already, such that a need for a lawyer was not supposed to happen. But with Lee still alive in police custody as of Saturday afternoon, the Marcello crime organization may have considered as a contingency sending a lawyer to Oswald in response to Marguerite’s plea. Sehrt was linked by long association to the Marcello organization, and Dean Andrews had recently been part of Marcello’s legal team in Marcello’s deportation case. And if what the son of Dean Andrews told the son’s friend above is correct, Dean Andrews was a friend of Marcello. From Sehrt’s point of view, he would have been caught in the middle and if ever there was a sensitive situation with landmines, this would be one. It can therefore be assumed that disclosure by Andrews that the call to Dean Andrews came from Sehrt, or someone else speaking for the Marcello organization, would be considered most unfavorably by people whom Andrew knew it was best not to cross.  

Although Eva Springer told the FBI she heard only the single name “Bertrand” in Andrews’ answer, what Andrews told her now committed him to that name, which although it has not been recognized, reflected the name of one of the links in the phone call that had come to him. Andrews may have intentionally altered the spelling of Lane Bertram to the phonetically similar but differently spelled Clay Bertrand. Andrews then fabricated all of his fictitious stories about who Clay Bertrand was and it was off to the races. If Andrews’ purpose in all this was to conceal that the name came from Lane Bertram, it was successful. 

That Dean Andrews gave so much smoke and mirrors and mystification in concealing the identity of "Clay Bertrand" supports the idea that Dean Andrews could have intentionally altered the spelling so as to disguise, such that the name given by Dean Andrews to the FBI—“Clay Bertrand” in agreement with Eva Springer confirming to the FBI that she heard “Bertrand”—went nowhere for investigators (apart from a mistaken prosecution and ruination of the life of an innocent man who had nothing to do with that phone call). Except for the little-noticed Newcomb and Adams manuscript, and then the mention of Palamara noted as a curiosity without further significance, investigators did not notice the similarity or match between the names “Clay Bertrand” and Lane Bertram.

In this reconstruction it is necessary to assume that a Secret Service agent in Dallas, SAIC Bertram in Houston, and any fellow Secret Service agents they might have privately or informally told, did not come forth either in written reports at the time or voluntarily in media interviews in later years with their role in a phone message on behalf of Marguerite to Sehrt of New Orleans. (They would have had no direct knowledge of a connection to Dean Andrews.) The reticence is therefore not difficult to understand in terms of agency and career considerations, if not simple accident. If it had been disclosed later it would raise questions of why was it not disclosed earlier, with all of the inevitable questions that would be raised in tabloids of whether something more sinister was involved, perhaps even allegations of Secret Service collaboration with the Marcello crime organization in the assassination itself. 

Not only would there be the question of propriety in assisting the Oswald family in an attempt to obtain legal counsel for Lee behind the backs of the Dallas police and other investigative agencies, there would be the failure to disclose earlier. These considerations reasonably account for the silence thereafter on the part of the ca. 2-3 Secret Service agents involved, agents not generally known to be talkative in public in any case, concerning what at the time was a small act of kindness to a bereft family. If the story had later come out, the Secret Service might have responded by saying that had not been an approved action, though the agent meant no harm.

This solution is admittedly conjectural. There is, critically, no independent corroboration of a Lane Bertram role in the phone calls. The role of Lane Bertram in this reconstruction is entirely based on the testimony of Eva Springer and Dean Andrews of the name. The expression of the name by Dean Andrews is interpreted on analogy to what in law is called an “excited utterance”, in which something truthful is expressed before dissembling or self-censorship takes over in a person. It is a proposal motivated from the twin premises that Clay Shaw did not make that phone call but someone did, and that the name associated with that phone call told by Dean Andrews was real, “Clay Bertrand”. Lane Bertram.

Corroboration that the phone call to Dean Andrews originated from Marguerite Oswald

Because Dean Andrews was in the hospital on Sat Nov 23, Andrews called Sam “Zonk” Zelden, a prominent New Orleans defense attorney, on Sun morning Nov 24 to arrange for him, Zelden, to go to Oswald in Dallas on Andrews’ behalf. Then Andrews would follow as soon as he was discharged from the hospital. That was being discussed by Andrews and Zelden over the phone when the news came over national television that Oswald had been shot dead in police custody by a Marcello crime organization-linked Dallas night club operator, Jack Ruby. Zelden, seeing this on television while on the phone to Dean Andrews, told Andrews, never mind, you don’t have a client any more, he just became dead. 

What has received less attention than it deserves is that Sam Zelden, prominent attorney in New Orleans, confirmed that Marguerite Oswald (not Clay Shaw) was the source of the request to what may have been a Zelden-Andrews defense team for Oswald if Oswald had not been killed.

Houston Post March 3, 1967

“[Dean] Andrews spent more than two hours in Garrison’s office Thursday night [March 2, 1967] along with his attorney, Sam Monk Zelden of New Orleans. When they emerged from the office, Zelden told Andrews not to answer questions.

“’We have tried to co-operate in an effort to reach the truth,’ Zelden said.

“In Andrews’ Warren Commission testimony he said he called Zelden on the Sunday after the assassination and asked him if he would go to Dallas and represent Oswald. Andrews was hospitalized with pneumonia at the time.

’Mrs. Marguerite Oswald called me,’ Zelden said outside Garrison’s office. Zelden gave this same information to the Warren Commission. Mrs. Oswald, Lee’s mother, denies making any such call.

“Zelden said neither he nor Andews personally knew Clay Bertrand.” (https://www.jfk-online.com/jpsmzsmch.html)

Before addressing the apparent contradiction of the denial of Marguerite Oswald, note that Zelden does not deny the existence of a real request for legal assistance for Lee in Dallas that had come to Andrews and Zelden. Zelden knew the phone call to Dean Andrews was real. Zelden is saying where it came from, from Marguerite Oswald in Dallas.

The significance of this statement of Zelden has not been appreciated, largely because of the press report, as above, that Marguerite denied (presumably a reporter phoned and asked) that she had called Zelden the weekend of the assassination. There is no reason to suppose Marguerite was aware that Zelden became involved as a result of her message to Clem Sehrt that weekend. That will explain Marguerite’s denial. She denied calling Zelden because she had not called Zelden. But there is no need to assume an actual contradiction. Marguerite had not called Zelden, but Zelden meant Marguerite had called him in the sense that Marguerite originated the request which had come to Zelden in which Zelden would have gone on to take the leading role in the defense of Oswald at trial.

The Zelden family understood this correct sense of what Zelden meant when he said Marguerite had called him, that it was the request to defend Oswald which had come to Zelden from Marguerite via Dean Andrews. From Mark Zelden, grandson of Sam Zelden, writing in 2013:

“My parents’ bookshelf has always had an original copy of the official Warren Commission Report for as long as I can remember. My grandfather, Sam ‘Monk’ Zelden, had been friendly with the late Congressman Hale Boggs, a member of the Warren Commission, and received a signed original Report. 

“Sam Zelden was one of the greatest criminal defense attorneys the City of New Orleans has ever produced. For many years after WWII, he represented a number of colorful characters like ‘Diamond Jim’ Moran and Dean Andrews, and often was the go-to lawyer on criminal defense cases at the time of the Kennedy assassination in New Orleans. Therefore, it should have been no big surprise that Lee Harvey Oswald’s mother, Marguerite, reached out to my grandfather through Andrews and another intermediary that fateful weekend in 1963.” (https://thehayride.com/2013/11/zelden-jfk-the-new-orleans-connection-and-revisionist-history/)

The bolded last sentence above clears up and removes the apparent contradiction in the earlier reporting between Sam Zelden saying Marguerite had called him that weekend, and Marguerite denying she had called Zelden that weekend. The difference is illusory not substantive. The request to Zelden came not via a person-to-person phone call from Marguerite to Zelden, but “through Andrews and another intermediary.”

Well, we know the Dean Andrews intermediary step—it has been before our eyes all this time--that was the phone call Dean Andrews received ca. 4 pm Sat Nov 23. That phone message came from Marguerite Oswald via a Dallas Secret Service agent to Lane Bertram in Houston and then via Clem Sehrt to Dean Andrews and through Dean Andrews, Zelden. Zelden’s standing in the case, stillborn because Oswald was killed, therefore did come about by request of Marguerite in its origin, as the grandson of Zelden writes, from Marguerite “through Andrews and another intermediary that fateful weekend”. Mark Zelden is saying his grandfather was invited to defend Oswald by means of that same phone message that originated from Marguerite Oswald to Dean Andrews.

The ”other intermediary” besides Andrews probably refers to Clem Sehrt--the anonymity attached to Sehrt’s name at Sehrt’s request starting from that first weekend continued to the present day in the Zelden grandson’s article--or else a Marcello organization caller after a briefing from Sehrt. One wonders if Dean Andrews had the option to say "no" to the request to represent Oswald in Dallas if he had wanted to. Some requests are just hard to refuse, depending on who is asking. 

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Except for the fact that if you read Joan Mellen’s book A Farewell to Justice, Shaw made a death bed confession to having participated in the plot.

Edited by Allen Lowe
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58 minutes ago, Allen Lowe said:

Except for the fact that if you read Joan Mellen’s book A Farewell to Justice, Shaw made a death bed confession to having participated in the plot.

I don't believe that is a fact or correct at all. I found the passage in Joan Mellen's book. It is only a confession if you change "wasn't guilty", Shaw's words, as really meaning "was guilty". If you make that change of wording, projecting belief in his guilt into overriding Clay Shaw's words saying the opposite, then you can call it a confession. It is like reasoning that a person charged of a crime asked his plea who answers "not guilty" is actually a confession, on the grounds that since he really was guilty he actually was confessing, if you overlook that he said the opposite. Oh well. Here is the passage, with Joan Mellen's interpretation that this was "close to a confession".

"Nearly five years later, Clay Shaw came as close to a confession as he dared, setting him apart from the many CIA employees, from Lawrence Houston to David Atlee Phillips to Richard Helms, who carried their silence to the grave. Near death from lung cancer, Shaw was visited at the Ochsner Foundation hospital by longtime acquaintance and neighbor George Dureau, a New Orleans painter and photographer.

"As Dureau remembers, Shaw said, 'You know, I wasn't guilty of what Garrison charged. But Garrison had the right idea. He was almost right. Someone like me, with a background in army intelligence and with post-war intelligence connections, very well might have been asked to meet with someone like Oswald or Ferrie, to give them a package or some money or whatever, and I would have faithfully done it without ever asking what I was doing it for.' That 'package' recalls Donald P. Norton's testimony that Shaw gave him a suitcase of money to deliver to Oswald in Monterrey [Mexico]." (Mellen, Farewell to Justice, 2007 edn, 317)

This is one of those things that is read by people differently, like a Rorschach Inkblot. If you already think Clay Shaw was part of a plot to kill Kennedy, then of course this looks like he is "close" to confessing, by euphemistically saying what really happened in the language of "hypothetically" how it could have worked. 

If on the other hand Clay Shaw had no part in a plot to kill Kennedy, it reads as in a thoughtful moment seeing it through Garrison's eyes, almost sympathizing with Garrison, wrong as he was.

Rorschach Inkblot. 

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9 minutes ago, Greg Doudna said:

As Dureau remembers

Pardon me for butting in Greg. I assume that the only evidence of this conversation is Dureau's memory. Since many years passed between the time he allegedly talked to Shaw and spoke about it to Mellen, he could be misremembering details. Or, he could be mixing his memory of an actual conversation with things that he has read in the interim.

I have no way to prove it, but I believe that late-occurring memories by individuals like Dureau (and many many others) are likely influenced by what they have read about the case. Take the case of John Armstrong and his "witnesses." These people were told that they witnessed something significant, something that changed history. That is a powerful motive to "remember" something new.

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Is this more of Greg's Mafia did it angle?  

Let me take a guess: Clem Sehrt maybe?

Completely bogus if that is it.

The whole Sehrt as Bertrand stuff was Aaron Kohn's invention.  And it was designed as a "Mafia did it" distraction, which is what Kohn specialized in. What Greg does not understand is that this whole Mob did it angle was elicited and then magnified to both smear Garrison, and also to distract from his evidence. And you can take this all the way back to Peter Noyes and his Legacy of Doubt book. It peaked during the Blakey/Billings HSCA days and their following cruddy book.  Kohn was working hand in glove with those two, and he supplied the Clem Sehrt nonsense.  Andrews himself told Weisberg that Shaw was Bertrand.

Just avoid this rigamarole and listen to Paul Bleau, who went through the voluminous Garrison files. 

That is he did primary source work without the McAdams/Reitzes Maytag driver spin to it.

 

 

Edited by James DiEugenio
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Is the story of the NOPD booking officer stating Shaw gave him the alias name of "Clay Bertrand" true or not?

I know the judge in the Shaw trial would not allow mention of this officer and his claim ( and for sure the officer himself ) which if proven true would have blown Shaw's defense out the courtroom window.

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2 hours ago, W. Tracy Parnell said:

Pardon me for butting in Greg. I assume that the only evidence of this conversation is Dureau's memory. Since many years passed between the time he allegedly talked to Shaw and spoke about it to Mellen, he could be misremembering details. Or, he could be mixing his memory of an actual conversation with things that he has read in the interim.

I have no way to prove it, but I believe that late-occurring memories by individuals like Dureau (and many many others) are likely influenced by what they have read about the case. Take the case of John Armstrong and his "witnesses." These people were told that they witnessed something significant, something that changed history. That is a powerful motive to "remember" something new.

You're not butting in Tracy. Your input is always welcome in any discussion in which I have a part.

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24 minutes ago, James DiEugenio said:

The whole Sehrt as Bertrand stuff was Aaron Kohn's invention.

Is that accurate? Willing to be shown wrong if evidence is shown, but I do not know of Aaron Kohn connecting Sehrt to Bertrand or the Dean Andrews phone call. Not that it would matter if Aaron Kohn did--it would be of interest if so--but I just question that that is accurate. Where is this claim coming from?

In fact I have not confirmed any suggestion that Clem Sehrt was involved in the Dean Andrews phone call prior to the Peter Whitmey article of 1994. (It would not surprise me if the suggestion had been made earlier, but I do not know of any.) 

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4 hours ago, James DiEugenio said:

Is this more of Greg's Mafia did it angle?  

Let me take a guess: Clem Sehrt maybe?

Completely bogus if that is it.

The whole Sehrt as Bertrand stuff was Aaron Kohn's invention.  And it was designed as a "Mafia did it" distraction, which is what Kohn specialized in. What Greg does not understand is that this whole Mob did it angle was elicited and then magnified to both smear Garrison, and also to distract from his evidence. And you can take this all the way back to Peter Noyes and his Legacy of Doubt book. It peaked during the Blakey/Billings HSCA days and their following cruddy book.  Kohn was working hand in glove with those two, and he supplied the Clem Sehrt nonsense.  Andrews himself told Weisberg that Shaw was Bertrand.

Just avoid this rigamarole and listen to Paul Bleau, who went through the voluminous Garrison files. 

That is he did primary source work without the McAdams/Reitzes Maytag driver spin to it.

 

 

I wasn’t familiar with Aaron Kohn previous to this thread, so I googled and read. He seems to have had a lot of credibility, but I also noticed that he worked with Walter Sheridan in some capacity re Gordon Novel, and later provided the HSCA with info on Clem Sehrt. One CIA doc I came across in the Novel file states, when referring to Aaron Kohn, that he was an enemy of Garrison. Sheridan sent Novel to infiltrate Garrison’s team, and later when Garrison Subpoenaed him he fought it in court. I guess this puts the otherwise credible anti-crime Kohn into the milieu of people trying to thwart Garrison. 
Greg - I gather that you think Kohn’s beef with Garrison is that he was protecting Carlos Marcello by dismissing him as a subject of investigation. This comes down. I think, to Garrison’s personal credibility as a DA. Who is more believable - Garrison, who spent a decade or more investigating the JFK assassination under much duress and with official obstruction, or Aaron Kohn? Did Kohn have his own theory regarding Marcello’s part in the assassination, or simply dislike Garrison because he deemed him corrupt? I could reread your posts but thought I’d maybe just ask this question instead. 

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28 minutes ago, Paul Brancato said:

Greg - I gather that you think Kohn’s beef with Garrison is that he was protecting Carlos Marcello by dismissing him as a subject of investigation. This comes down. I think, to Garrison’s personal credibility as a DA. Who is more believable - Garrison, who spent a decade or more investigating the JFK assassination under much duress and with official obstruction, or Aaron Kohn? Did Kohn have his own theory regarding Marcello’s part in the assassination, or simply dislike Garrison because he deemed him corrupt? I could reread your posts but thought I’d maybe just ask this question instead. 

I am not aware that Kohn ever suspected Marcello in the JFK assassination. As I understand it, Kohn objected to Garrison because he considered Garrison corrupted and compromised by Marcello on the organized crime issue. I do not know what Kohn thought about the JFK assassination itself, whether Warren Commission or conspiracy or what. 

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2 hours ago, Greg Doudna said:

I am not aware that Kohn ever suspected Marcello in the JFK assassination. As I understand it, Kohn objected to Garrison because he considered Garrison corrupted and compromised by Marcello on the organized crime issue. I do not know what Kohn thought about the JFK assassination itself, whether Warren Commission or conspiracy or what. 

That’s what I thought too. In the doc I refer to, which is filed under Nagel, someone in CIA, the author of the doc, says flat out that Kohn is an enemy of Garrison, which must be because as you say he thought Garrison was corrupted by Marcello. The author seems to be inferring that Kohn assisted Sheridan because he disliked Garrison, but not specifically because Garrison was whitewashing Marcello on this particular issue. So it’s logical to infer that Sheridan was out to stop Garrison, something Kohn appreciated. Sheridan worked for NBC at the time, not RFK, his former boss. Why were Sheridan and his superiors trying to stop Garrison? It certainly wasn’t because he was protecting the Marcello organization. Was it to defend innocent CIA asset Clay Shaw? They did protect him, but that’s not why they obstructed Garrison, which they assuredly did. They were protecting state secrets, not a Mafia assassination. 
I think I agree with Jim D on this one. 

Edited by Paul Brancato
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8 hours ago, Joe Bauer said:

Is the story of the NOPD booking officer stating Shaw gave him the alias name of "Clay Bertrand" true or not?

I know the judge in the Shaw trial would not allow mention of this officer and his claim ( and for sure the officer himself ) which if proven true would have blown Shaw's defense out the courtroom window.

Agree Joe, there are many cases in which if a charge is proven true then a defense would be blown out of court. If Howard Brennan's claim in his book that he saw Oswald shoot Kennedy from the sixth floor TSBD window were proven true, then Oswald's defense would be blown out of court, etc and etc and etc. All true, that is how if-then logic works. But that does not say anything really does it, because the prior question is is the "if" part is true.

You know the testimony at issue regarding the alias on the fingerprint cards is all available, you can read it. You know that officer Habighorst's testimony that Clay Shaw told him he used the alias was contradicted by multiple other officers not to mention Shaw himself and his attorney, who testified that Habighorst had Shaw sign blank cards in advance which were then filled in by the officer with fingerprints and information on the basis of arrest paperwork not questioning; that Shaw's attorney had given strict instructions to Clay Shaw that he was to say nothing and answer NO questions, and that other officers present confirmed that Clay Shaw abided by those instructions and was not talking or answering questions, such as telling of an alias. You know that the testimony impeaching Habighorst was so weighty that the judge himself said flat out that he did not believe officer Habighorst's testimony, in light of the multiple fellow officers contradicting.

So when you ask, "Is the story ... true or not?", well, that is the question isn't it. Don't just ask the rhetorical question and leave it hanging. What do you think, after looking at the testimonies on that?

Links to all the full testimonies can be found here: https://www.jfk-online.com/arresttest.html. Next best and a bit quicker at only 63 pages, mostly selected documents, is Litwin, https://www.onthetrailofdelusion.com/post/did-clay-shaw-admit-to-aloysius-habighorst-that-he-was-clay-bertrand (author favors Clay Shaw against Habighorst).

For me it is pretty clear that Habighorst's credibility is questionable. I do not know why he did that, but I believe, against his testimony, that he followed a routine procedure in having Clay Shaw sign blank fingerprint cards in advance, then the alias which was an allegation against Clay Shaw was typed in on those cards drawn from other paperwork, not from anything Clay Shaw said. If I were on the jury that would be practically a no-brainer on the basis of the testimony as I judge it. Even if there were genuine ambiguity concerning who was and was not truthful there, ambiguity does not justify conviction of someone in a criminal case.  

I think it was Mark Lane who also did not buy this alias story who thought there was a plausibility issue in supposing, as the prosecution charged, that Clay Shaw used his secret alias to hide his identity in a plot to assassinate the president, then freely volunteered his secret alias to the first officer who asks: "I also go by the name of Clay Bertrand, officer." Did that actually happen? Really?

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