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A balanced look at Joan Mellen's book: AFTJ


Dawn Meredith
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A Farewell to Justice -- A Review

by Jim DiEugenio

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In the JFK assassination community, few works have been labored over longer or been more keenly anticipated than Joan Mellen's new volume on the late New Orleans DA Jim Garrison, A Farewell to Justice. Mellen reportedly worked on the book for several years. When it was first announced, it was to be a full-scale biography of Garrison and published by a major university press. But on its long voyage to completion, these terms were altered. If you go through the book and count the number of pages that are purely biographical, it comes to about 25. So it is not in any way a biography. Also, the publisher is not NYU Press but Potomac Books. Reportedly, the book got so long that the original publisher opted out.

This last brings up my first criticism of the book. Many complain today about the lack of editing in the publishing business. And because of the cost cutting pressures, it has become a serious problem. The Kennedy field is no stranger to bloated, turgid, off-balance books e.g. the original version of The Man Who Knew too Much, Ultimate Sacrifice, and many of the efforts of Harry Livingstone. (Ironically, Garrison's On the Trail of the Assassins was beautifully edited.) Mellen's book is a hardcover edition. Which means it was expensive to produce. To defray costs it appears to have been whittled down. Not with a scalpel, but a carving knife. There is no way not to describe the book as poorly produced even on the simplest level. As many commentators have noted, the footnotes are out of sync with their proper placement. (And beyond that, some rather controversial claims are not annotated at all, a point I will refer to later.) Even the Table of Contents is off. For example, Chapter 13 is listed as beginning on page 204. It begins on page 205. Further, the book, to say the least, is not well written. Consider this sentence from Chapter 12, p. 187:

Put in contact with Shaw's defense team by Walter Sheridan, Miller went on to serve as the liaison between Shaw's lawyers and Richard Lansdale, a lawyer in Lawrence Houston's.

That abrupt and startling fragment would make any sophomore English major wince. But further, as Publisher's Weekly has noted, Mellen's overall grip on the narrative is something less than controlled, let alone masterly. It confuses an already complex case with "shifting timelines, authorial voices and locations with seeming little cause."(As we shall see, this is not an unfair criticism.) The net result is that one does not come away from the book feeling as one has looked at a delicately painted mosaic of the Garrison investigation, a burnished portrait. The result to me seems blocky, and oddly, at the same time, amorphous -- both in its overall design, and within its chapters. It is true that many books on the JFK case suffer from similar failings. But Mellen is a tenured professor of English, who teaches creative writing and has published many previous books that were better written than this one. So I assume, and hope, the fault was with the editor.

Before getting to what I see as some of the book's serious problems, let me list what I see as its clear, and less clear, achievements.

She pinpoints when Garrison's curiosity was piqued about the JFK case. It was not with the legendary 1966 plane flight with Russell Long. It was when Garrison picked up the 1965 issue of Esquire with the article on the Warren Commission by Dwight MacDonald. Another source was former Warren Commissioner Hale Boggs. This explains why there are so many memoranda in the Garrison files from throughout 1966. (And if memory serves me right, one or two from 1965.)

Her work on the VIP Room incident at the Moisant Airport appears to be quite solid. Added to the previous work of Joe Biles and Bill Davy, it seems to me to be just about an accomplished fact that Clay Shaw signed the ledger of the Eastern Airlines waiting room as Clay Bertrand. Therefore, by his own hand revealing that he used the alias that Dean Andrews said he did when he phoned Andrews and asked him to defend Oswald.

Her discussion of the famous Clinton/Jackson sighting of Oswald, Shaw and David Ferrie is the longest I have seen and contains some new and interesting details. For instance, it appears that Oswald actually did register to vote, but his name was later erased. And the FBI knew about the incident and about his subsequent attempt to find employment at a hospital in the area and they deliberately covered it all up.

Her writing on the September, 1967 hatchet job in Life magazine accusing Garrison of being in bed with the Mafia is detailed and specific. She names Dick Billings, David Chandler, Jim Phelan, Robert Blakey, Aaron Kohn, and Sandy Smith as all cooperating on the slander. She states that the whole purpose of the two-part piece was to slam Garrison. Like Tony Summers and Davy, she produces evidence showing that Sandy Smith was, in essence, an employee of the FBI. And that Life drove a wedge between Garrison and his political ally Gov. McKeithen by threatening to do the same to him unless he gave Chandler a job in state law enforcement, thereby keeping him out of the D.A.'s clutches.

Her elucidation of the things that William Wood (aka Bill Boxley) snookered Garrison into doing is quite instructive. This includes the indictment of Edgar Eugene Bradley (which the DA came to regret) and the near naming of Robert Lee Perrin as one of the snipers in Dealey Plaza. These were prime pieces of misinformation according to Mellen.

Mellen's work with former HSCA New Orleans investigators allows her to write several illuminating pages on how Bob Buras and L.J. Delsa were deliberately circumscribed by Chief Counsel Robert Blakey into limiting their investigation into the many leads Garrison was willing to provide the HSCA. It also shows how Blakey's clear bias on the case created divisions in the ranks of the staff.<

The file David Ferrie called "The Bomb" is minutely described by two people who saw it, Jimmy Johnson and Clara Gay. It is hard after reading their descriptions not to conclude that Ferrie had some advance knowledge of how the actual circumstances of the assassination in Dealey Plaza were going to occur. Her evidence is interesting but much more equivocal on a loan Shaw made to Ferrie to fly to Dallas a few days before the murder.

She writes six well documented pages on David Ferrie's activities with the Civil Air Patrol. As Delsa told me in 1994, it appears that one of Ferrie's objectives was recruiting young men, including Oswald, for future consideration in the military. Another appears to be referring them to Clay Shaw for both professional and personal reasons.

The above is certainly an estimable list of achievements. Standing alone, they would be valuable contributions. The problem is they do not stand alone. They are part of a much larger volume. Altogether the above accounts for significantly less than 20% of the book. If the rest of the more than 80% of the work would have been just bland regurgitation from other books e.g. Garrison's own book, or Bill Davy's fine work, that would have been one thing, and the book would have still been commendable.

Unfortunately, that is not the case. The rest of the book seems to me to be sloppily composed, not proofread for errors of fact, loaded with controversial tenets, in large part assumptive, ideologically biased, has many weighty yet unsupported claims, exhibits a trustworthiness that goes beyond naivetè, and (I believe) deliberately leaves out important details to shape people and events in a certain way. These are serious criticisms. I believe they are merited. Especially for a veteran writer who was producing what was supposed to be a definitive book.

As I noted earlier, the book suffers from a wobbly structure that consists in part of the shifting of time frames, locations, and viewpoints. For instance on pages 60-61 we begin with Oswald's Canal Street arrest in 1963; we then go to Francis Martello's testimony about Oswald's FBI interview while in custody; we then flash forward to 1967 and David Ferrie -- who is not in the Martello report -- being interviewed by John Volz of Garrison's staff; then she describes Garrison requesting the FBI file on Ferrie; and then she mentions the FBI wiretapping of Garrison's office. All of this jumping around in the space of about five paragraphs. At times, with certain characters like Ferrie and Thomas Beckham she actually tries to place us inside their heads, revealing their thoughts, while having them refer to themselves in the third person: "He is sick, Ferrie says. As a result of rumors of my arrest, I've been asked to leave the airport, he says." (p. 103) At other times she presents a decades old interview in the present tense, throwing in bits of novelistic detail. Consider this interview of Carlos Quiroga by Frank Klein:

"Well, he [banister] didn't have anything to do with arms," Quiroga says. Then he smiles. Klein thinks: He smiles involuntarily or smirks when he is not telling the truth. (p. 99)

At times she adapts an omniscient viewpoint. On page 98, she has Banister employee Bill Nitschke looking at a picture of a Cuban who he identifies as Manuel Gonzalez. She then writes, "He was in fact looking at a photograph of longtime CIA operative David Sanchez Morales." The problems here are that 1) She does not reference the photo 2) She does not footnote the conversation so we can crosscheck it 3) She does not indicate the evidence for her being right and Garrison being wrong about the photo identification 4) Morales never came up in the Garrison inquiry. (Morales' nickname, "El Indio," did come up but we do not know that it applied to Morales in this context, or if the photo was of him.) Perhaps the assertion is correct, but it would need more backup than she provides. As I said earlier, the careless and inconsistent use of these near-novelistic devices make it hard to follow an already difficult case. The Garrison investigation of the Kennedy murder is not the killing of the Clutter family in Kansas. And Mellen is not nearly the writer Truman Capote was.

Then there is another organizational problem: the misnamed chapters. Chapter 5 is titled "The Banister Menagerie," yet it begins with Andrew Sciambra's interview of Clay Shaw in 1966. Or consider pages 60-62 which discuss David Ferrie's association with Oswald, the FBI and Jim Garrison, Sergio Arcacha Smith, and informants in Garrison's office like Bill Gurvich and Tom Bethell. These come at the end of a chapter entitled, "Oswald and Customs." Chapter 10 is titled "A Skittish Witness" referring to Richard Case Nagell. Yet only five pages of the chapter, less than a third of its length, actually deals directly with Nagell. Chapter 21 is called "Potomac Two Step," apparently referring to the charade of the 1976-1978 congressional inquiry into Kennedy's death. Yet, only a few pages of this chapter discuss the House Select Committee on Assassinations. Most of the HSCA material is in the following chapter entitled "The Death of Jim Garrison." Again, this betrayed to me a writer with a weak grip on her narrative. (In fairness to Mellen, this may have occurred in the editing process.)

In addition to the book's clumsy editing, questions arise about the proofreading. Proofreading does not require exquisite expertise. It just means having someone with an affinity for the subject ask pertinent questions. That didn't happen here. There are too many errors of fact and interpretation. As Patricia Lambert has pointed out, Mellen seems to have misinterpreted CIA files on one John Jefferson Martin with Banister assistant Jack Martin. So Mellen turns Jack Martin into a CIA officer. I have seen these documents and I agree with Lambert: the two are not the same person. On page 92, she says that an FBI informant told Garrison that rightwing segregationist Joseph Milteer had phoned him from Dallas on the day of the assassination. Jerry Rose, who thought Milteer was in on the plot, produced documents showing that Milteer was not in Dallas that day. On page 105, she discusses David Ferrie's disclosures to Lou Ivon, first conveyed to Oliver Stone's researcher Jane Rusconi and depicted in his film. But what she lists here goes beyond not just what Ivon told Rusconi, but to my knowledge, what he told anyone else. On page 169, she writes that not just the CIA, but the Special Group Augmented, Task Force W, the Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, the FBI and the NSA all knew about the Castro assassination plots in the early sixties. This is an amazing assertion. To say the least, there is much documentation to the contrary. On page 181, she writes that David Atlee Phillips died before Jim Garrison could reach him. Phillips died in 1982. Garrison's inquiry was effectively ended almost ten years earlier. And there is no evidence that Garrison knew about him at that time.

Mellen seems confused about the results of the HSCA. After relating the famous Victor Marchetti Spotlight story about the CIA cutting loose Howard Hunt in a "limited hangout," she adds something to twist that story around. She says Marchetti was mistaken. The CIA's real scapegoat was Shaw. She then offers the HSCA Report as evidence this was so. She writes in her typical mangled syntax:

The report calls Shaw a "limited hang out, cut out" to play a role in the conspiracy, the very terms Victor Marchetti had been told were being applied to Hunt ... Shaw, the Committee decided was "possibly one of the high level planners or "cut out"to the planners of the assassination." (pgs 355-356)

This is another amazing assertion. As anyone who has read the HSCA Report knows this language is not found anywhere in that volume about anyone. And definitely not Shaw. The HSCA cooperated completely with the CIA and identified Shaw as a businessman who cooperated with them, as thousands of others did, by consenting to interviews upon their return from abroad. The report even disguises his presence in the Clinton/Jackson incident by at first saying Shaw was there, and then (p. 145) that Ferrie was there with Oswald, "if not Clay Shaw" thereby smudging the identification. A page later the report lists more evidence of relations between Oswald, Ferrie and Banister, with Shaw notably absent. The report also says that they could not relate any conspiracy to the government. What Mellen seems to be doing here is quoting from a document that was declassified many years later. It was written by HSCA counsel Jonathan Blackmer and was not in the report. It was declassified by the ARRB and first used by Bill Davy in his book Let Justice Be Done (1999, p. 202) where he made the distinction clear. It is hard to believe that Mellen did not read that book and its footnotes, especially since she wrote a jacket blurb for it.

Then there are what I see as failures of omission, or incompleteness. There is very little new offered on the trial of Clay Shaw. Even in the way that the CIA deliberately obstructed the case. Yet there have been many new documents declassified in this regard, some of them very interesting, especially in regards to James Angleton. This was disappointing since it would reveal the extraordinary lengths the Agency was willing to go to subvert the DA and protect Shaw.

There is no real chapter that concentrates on the role of the media in the destruction of Garrison. Bits and pieces are scattered throughout without any cumulative effect or focus. Mellen once told me she would have a separate chapter on James Phelan. It's not here. Neither is there any real vivisection of Hugh Aynesworth, or Edward Epstein. Again, I see this as another missed opportunity to show just how threatened the power structure was by Garrison. To be fair to Mellen, it may have fallen victim to the editing knife. I hope so.

Then there are New Orleans matters which she explores but not to fruition. In discussing the alleged "child molestation"charges aired by Jack Anderson she attributes their circulation to Layton Martens. After doing some work on this issue with Garrison's son Lyon, I came to the conclusion that Shaw's lawyers were involved. Mellen does not even mention them. She discusses the book Farewell America and rightly labels it a fraud. But she seems to end that affair with Garrison investigator Steve Jaffe and Herve Lamarre (one of the book's authors). But the story is much richer and more interesting than that. Garrison eventually discovered that the book was an elaborate and laborious charade that was worked on by more than just Lamarre. And that Lamarre (under the authorial pseudonym of James Hepburn) was basically a front man in a complex shell game designed for the sole purpose of confusing and delaying his inquiry. Which it did. When all the leads are followed -- which Mellen does not seem to have done-- it is difficult not to detect the hand of James Angleton in the pie. Again, this may have been an editing decision.

A curious aspect of the book is the author's insistence on enumerating in detail several sexual anecdotes. From my experience, there is more sex in this book than the entire library of JFK books combined. Jim Garrison always thought that to discuss Clay Shaw's homosexual escapades would be out of bounds personally and, for him, unprofessional. Though he had more than one report on this in his files, he never used them to violate Shaw's privacy. Mellen goes ahead and describes them in rather graphic detail (pgs. 119-124). Including an incident with Shaw "and two colored males on the patio naked and using wine bottles on each other." (p. 119) But that is not all. Very early in the book, by about page 35, we have been treated to anecdotes about homosexual fellatio, orgies, Garrison's philandering, and the DA's favorite sexual practices. On page 101, she excerpts a letter Ferrie wrote describing a dirty movie: "...some dude xxxxing this broad ... he got his nuts jerking under her knee, she blew him, he xxxxed her in the ass twice..." Mellen saves the capper in this regard for the end. On page 382 we get a description, in her words, of "the shape of Garrison's genitalia." I don't understand what these strained and rather tawdry episodes contribute to the book or why the author was so insistent on including them in a volume that is, ostensibly, about the murder of President Kennedy.

Let's jump from the low to the high, from the sexual to the scholarly. Mellen has laid out her footnotes, not in the classic, older way of putting them on the page. Nor has she done it in the later, more common way of superscripting a number next to the sentence and then placing the note at the rear of the book. What she has done is put the notes in the back but equated them with a page and a line. As I said earlier, this is problematic for her since by about page 185 the footnotes do not correspond to the page they are referring back to. So one has to work to match the reference to the page and line. But often that work is in vain, since many important pieces of information are not footnoted at all. And when I say many, I do not mean just several. Nor do I mean a dozen. I would estimate that, at least, about 45 major passages are undocumented. For instance, on page 41, she writes that Garrison learned from a source that Ferrie's library card had been found on Oswald, but that it had been destroyed. On the same page, she writes that Oswald's cousin, Marilyn Murrett, worked for the CIA. Three pages later, she takes us into Garrison's mind while the DA is interviewing Ferrie two days after the assassination. Garrison asks himself why a minor homosexual would have a relationship with Jack Wasserman, Carlos Marcello's attorney. She adds that this was more intriguing since the Warren Commission concluded there was no "real Mafia motive" in the assassination. So in the space of four pages, there are four pieces of rather important information -- which includes Garrison's thoughts -- that should have been annotated but were not. And I am not hunting and picking. On page 135, she writes that the mysterious European business association Shaw was tied to, the Centro Mondiale Commerciale, was by our own government's admission, a CIA front. Again, this is not sourced. And again, I have read a lot about the CMC and I have never seen this particular claim noted, let alone substantiated. About 100 pages later she writes that Walter Sheridan briefed Johnny Carson for his interview with Garrison. Again, this is quite interesting yet there is no source for it.

I could go on like this for several pages. I am not saying that everything in a book has to be footnoted. But when one is presenting important things as fact, and it is new information, then at least most of that new information should be footnoted just to establish trust and rapport between the author and reader. Especially if the writer is a university professor and knows the rules of scholarly research. This is a serious failing that strikes at the heart of the book's credibility.

I want to segue here to what I see as another failing of the book: her judgment about certain important personages swirling around the Garrison investigation. She spends a great deal of time on Walter Sheridan. There is no doubt that Sheridan had an important role in the Garrison case, and is a complex and fascinating figure in his own right. But I believe her portrait of him is shortsighted. She clearly implies (p. 187) that Sheridan's infamous NBC special was handed to him as an intelligence agent assignment. I thought this at one time also. Exploring the point, I got documents out of the UCLA library that showed that Sheridan worked for NBC for a number of years. That he produced at least seven documentaries, some of them nominated for awards, and some of them themed around rather attractive liberal causes. So while I agree that it is probably true that Sheridan got the assignment through his intelligence ties, it is not as cut and dried as she portrays it. And in another related, recurrent theme she chalks up Sheridan's eagerness to wreck Garrison to Robert Kennedy. Yet, about 150 pages later, she has Sheridan still trying to wreck Garrison, this time on tax evasion charges. But by this time, Bobby Kennedy is dead. So who was directing Sheridan then?

The issue of who Sheridan really was and what master he served is not an easy question to answer. But there is a hint of this in an interview New Orleans P. I. Joe Oster gave to the HSCA. In discussing Guy Banister's early days, he named a curious working partner he had. It was Carmine Bellino, who would later become a chief investigator for Bobby Kennedy's Justice Department. This is a very interesting fact which is not in the book. In her haste to blacken RFK, an issue I will deal with later, Mellen discards things like pointed migrations, complex motivations, and multiple allegiances.

Same thing with Gordon Novel. Novel was an associate of Sheridan who infiltrated the Garrison inquiry, wired his offices, and then supplied the fruits of his work to NBC. In fact, Novel told the press in advance that Garrison would be disposed of like trash via the NBC special. How close was he to the CIA? He wrote letters to Richard Helms at this time reporting on Garrison's actions. When Garrison subpoenaed him for the grand jury, Novel fled New Orleans to Ohio where he was safe housed by the CIA and protected by the governor from being extradited back to New Orleans. He admitted under oath that he employed multiple lawyers who were remunerated by government agencies. His superiors then asked him to sue Garrison over the DA's impressive interview in Playboy. During his deposition, he gave out some very interesting information about his history with the CIA going back to the Bay of Pigs, and his New Orleans association with people like Ed Butler, Sergio Arcacha Smith, and David Ferrie, among others. The CIA gave him a rigged polygraph which Novel then used to smear Garrison to, what he admitted were, CIA associated journalists. He was a friend of CIA arms specialist Mitch Werbell, and his electronic wizardry led him to meet Charles Colson during the Watergate scandal. They discussed Novel creating a degaussing gun that would erase the Watergate tapes that eventually brought Nixon down. Around 1976, Novel reportedly got in contact with the HSCA and wanted to talk.

Mellen leaves almost all of the above out and introduces Novel, on page 65, as a serious witness to the Garrison inquiry. At times she states that the White House and Sheridan, not the CIA, were actually behind his pernicious and well-protected maneuverings. And what I have synopsized above is not a third of what I could say about Novel. But clearly, it would have an effect on how the reader views him in relation to the Garrison inquiry and the Kennedy assassination. Mellen's foreshortened version reveals a lack of perspective, curiosity, and insight. And let us be blunt: gullibility. (This last is a compelling issue which I will deal with later.)

Then there is the use of documents and how they relate to character portraits. I have already mentioned the apparent confusion about Jack Martin. About Kerry Thornley, she has stated in public, and repeats here, that Thornley received training in chemical and biological warfare. When I first heard this at the Duquesne 40th Anniversary JFK Conference Mellen gave it so much weight that I thought perhaps Thornley was part of the MK/Ultra program (something he actually claimed to be later in life). She repeats the charge in the book. But Stu WExler described this doucment to Larry Hancock. Hancock explained that many of his fellow soldiers in the military from that decade of the sixites were given the same training; it was quite common during the Cold War. So much for MK/Ultra. Then there is the document she uses in relation to Thomas Beckham. The document itself is not presented in the book. Instead, she quotes from it and paraphrases it. If taken at face value it says that Beckham received special instruction in espionage techniques, in small arms training, and was given a psychological dossier by a combined intelligence force of the government. But what Mellen does with this document in relation to Beckham, Oswald, Garrison, and the JFK case is, in my view, sheer hyperbole. She says that this document proves that 1) Beckham was to be used as an assassin; 2) he was to be a back-up assassin in case the Oswald-as-patsy scenario did not come off; 3) that it reveals ample foreknowledge of the JFK assassination by the government; 4) It proves that those who plotted to kill Kennedy had been grooming an innocent man for a very long time, and 5) that Garrison had uncovered parts of this plot in the Clinton/Jackson incident. (page 374)

My reaction to all this, as I wrote in the margin of the paragraph which contains these claims, is a simple: "What the F?" From the way I read this document (combined with what I have learned about U.S. intelligence) I surmised there must have been dozens of men each year who got this kind of training. (Which is beautifully demonstrated in the first part of the David Mamet film Spartan.) How she can directly relate this document to the JFK case, to Oswald's particular role, to a particular agency in charge of the murder, in a particular time frame, these claims all escape me. (Let alone the Clinton/Jackson incident, since as I can see, Beckham was not a part of that and perhaps not even cognizant of it.) Its not that you cannot make this claim with any documents in this case. For instance, there are certain documents pertaining to Mexico City, which I believe are pretty incriminating about Oswald: what he did there, how he was impersonated, and the CIA's role in that charade. But I did not see that here.

This relates to her use of Beckham throughout the book. She has clearly relied on him as the spine of the work. Thomas Beckham has been around for a long time. In fact, his name appears in the first positive study of Garrison, Paris Flammonde's The Kennedy Conspiracy way back in 1969. Garrison was interested in him because of his relationship with Fred L. Crisman, an utterly fascinating character from the Pacific Northwest who Garrison thought was a high level intelligence operative. At the time of the HSCA Garrison wrote an interesting four-page memorandum on Beckham and his relationship to Crisman. The HSCA tracked him down and he did more than one long interview with them. These interviews were declassified by the ARRB early on and a number of people saw them as early as 1994-1995. Gus Russo tracked him down for the 1993 PBS special on Oswald. According to Russo (who Mellen, as we shall see, trusts in other areas) Beckham took back what he said. He told him that he told the HSCA New Orleans investigators what he thought they wanted to hear. He even told him that he cheated on his HSCA polygraph examination, which is how he passed it. Now he has gone back to his HSCA version for Mellen and she takes him at face value with no questions asked. And further, takes the document he has not just at face value, but exalts it to a degree that is, I believe, unwarranted.

The point is this: many people were exposed to the Beckham evidence before Mellen (e.g. Larry Hancock). Some of them were specialists in the Garrison investigation. None of them have gone as far as she has with him i.e. to make him the centerpiece of a book on the DA. To take just one reason among many: it is hard to corroborate a lot of what he says. Which does not necessarily mean he is not credible. It just means that a more judicious person would not stake her book on a guy like him. In fact, she is the first. I predict she will be the last.

Which brings us to Gerry Patrick Hemming. Like Beckham, Hemming has been around for a long time. Unlike Beckham, he has talked on the record to many authors and researchers, some of whom I have had questions about e.g. Gordon Winslow. I would have thought he would have gotten everything out of his system on this matter in the nineties when he talked at length to Tony Summers (for a videotape documentary), John Newman, Mark Lane, and Noel Twyman. (Reportedly, Twyman flew him to his home in San Diego for a three-day marathon interview.) His discussions for those four men included inside information on the relationship between James Angleton and Oswald, musings on the possible role of David Morales in the assassination, Guy Banister's quest for a JFK assassin, and his slight caviling, but ultimate agreement on the "assassination caravan" story as related by Marita Lorenz to Mark Lane. I, and probably others thought that, after thirty years, Hemming was finally tapped out. I was wrong. He has new bits to tell Mellen. One new angle is information on Sylvia Odio. He says he knows who sent the Cuban visitors to see her (p. 87). Like many things in the book, it is not revealed how he knows this. On page 277, Hemming has more insight into Odio. He apparently had a relationship with her in Cuba. Mellen, unaware she's swimming with sharks, uses Lawrence Howard as a corroborator on this. This is where I began to get suspicious. Because it reminded me of a tactic used by Wesley Liebeler and the Warren Commission on Odio. Namely make her into some kind of "loose woman"so doubts would be raised about her character and credibility. (Mellen does not note this striking parallel even though the HSCA was fully aware of it.)

The other untapped line of new knowledge by Hemming is about Bobby Kennedy. According to Hemming, RFK met with Oswald in Florida face to face. (How Hemming could have forgotten to say this previously is a complete mystery.) To offer some sort of credence to a wild story, Mellen adds, "The story recalls the scene in the Oval Office witnessed by attorney F. Lee Bailey."(p. 201) Unfortunately, I couldn't find a scene in which Bailey was even at the White House in this book. So in addition to the bald assertion by Hemming, Mellen adds a bald parallel by Bailey.

And the use of Hemming in relation to Odio and RFK really leads to a much larger issue in this book. Mellen is out to rewrite 1) The Odio incident 2) The history of the Castro assassination plots, and 3) Bobby Kennedy's apparent reluctance to find out the truth about Dallas. To say that she indulges in a rather questionable revisionist history here is much too mild. This is a radical, sensational revisionism. Let's analyze her rewriting of the Odio incident as a representative sample of what she is up to.

The outline of Sylvia Odio's story is well stated in Sylvia Meagher's classic book, Accessories After the Fact. (Meagher found Odio and her story so compelling she titled her chapter on it, "The Proof of the Plot.") The incident was further detailed, with new corroborating evidence, in the nineties by Gaeton Fonzi in his fine work, The Last Investigation. Fonzi investigated Odio for the HSCA and he chronicled a lot of his work in his book. In 1993 PBS, in their aforementioned special, interviewed some of Fonzi's witnesses on camera. The witnesses, including a priest, all bolstered the story told by Sylvia and her sister Annie. So the incident has not just survived the test of time. For most objective people it has been enriched and fortified by further inquiry.

But not for Joan Mellen. According to her, for 25 years, Meagher, Fonzi, the HSCA, and PBS got it wrong. First of all, Odio somehow overlooked a rather important and salient detail. Oswald, or his double, did not arrive at her door with the two Cubans. He was already at her house! But alas, if Sylvia Odio was wrong about this, so was her sister Annie who was there. And then so were her four corroborating witnesses including people you usually don't dissemble with e.g. a priest and her psychiatrist. The logic that Mellen uses to try and enforce her bizarre and baffling revision of this is weird. She says that if Odio was able to identify Oswald, then why could she not identify the two Cubans? Well, maybe because Oswald was apprehended and his face was plastered all over television and the newspapers so she could see it? And the Cubans who were escorting him were not apprehended, were not even really looked for by the Warren Commission who tried to brush the whole thing under the rug? If they were never looked for or found, how could she identify them?

Why does Mellen reject that rather obvious and simple argument? Because again, she has done what no one else did in forty years. Not Fonzi, not PBS, not the HSCA. Through Hemming, she found out who the two Cubans were who visited Odio. (Odio recalled them as Leopoldo and Angelo.) Hemming introduced her to one Angelo Murgado, a Miami Cuban who loved the Kennedys so much he changed his last name to Kennedy (a curious point I will address later). And Murgado/Kennedy told Mellen who Leopoldo was. Hold on to your hats here. Leopoldo was Bernardo de Torres. Yep, the guy who infiltrated Garrison's investigation and may have been involved in the killing of Eladio del Valle. The guy who was good friends with CIA arms specialist Mitch Werbell. The man who allegedly had photos of the assassination he once thought of selling to Life. The man who was so in bed with the CIA that he later sold arms to South American countries and reportedly got involved in CIA drug trafficking in the eighties. Now right off the bat, this would seem to be a bit puzzling for an obvious reason. Fonzi and the HSCA had picked out Bernardo as a prime suspect for the assassination and they had a plant in his Cuban circle of friends. They even brought him to Washington for an executive session interview. So clearly, Fonzi was familiar with what he looked like. And clearly, as Fonzi writes, he spent many hours with Odio going over her descriptions of the two men. Yet it never struck that blunderbuss Fonzi that Leopoldo was right there in front of him, ripe for the picking. (In Fonzi's book, p. 111, the Odio sisters give a description of "Angel." If you compare it with the Mellen description of Murgado, and the photos and description of de Torres, both here and elsewhere, you will see why Fonzi never had his "Eureka" moment.)

It would seem to me that what Murgado/Kennedy is trying to do is shift responsibility for Oswald from the CIA backed, right-wing Cubans to the leftist, Kennedy backed Cubans (JURE), of whom Odio was allied with. Mellen apparently shuts her eyes to this so she can then not ask the question: Well, if Odio and JURE were associated with Oswald before the assassination--to the point of him being her house guest--why on earth would Odio identify him? Dodging the questions completely, she can then write that if Oswald was with the Cubans driving to Dallas, or if he was already there at the Odio apartment, "the meaning of the incident remains the same." (Page 381) If the meaning was the same then why did Murgado/Kennedy make a point of getting Oswald out of the car and into the house? Is Mellen really unaware of the significance of this switch? If she is she either has not done her homework on this important issue or she is incredibly careless with what she writes.

But Murgado/Kennedy is not done. (Let's call him MK for short from here on in.) He reveals to Mellen just how he knows all this stuff, and why he was with Bernardo at Odio's house than night. (Although he never reveals how he has escaped detection all these years. And the uncurious Mellen apparently never asked.) See, he and Bernardo were part of a kind of "special team"of Cubans employed by RFK. For what pray tell? Well MK says that they had a dual purpose. One was to try and kill Castro. The other was to patrol around and be on the lookout for plots to kill President Kennedy. One might then have thought, well they did a Keystone Kops kind of a job since one of the "Kennedy protectors," de Torres, may have been in on the plot to kill him. And RFK must have been pretty stupid to have people like de Torres, MK, and as MK says Manuel Artime around him to protect his brother. Why? Because all these guys were veterans of the Bay of Pigs disaster. Meaning that, like Dave Morales, they were all dyed-in-the-wool CIA loyalists. Consequently, all of them blamed the Kennedys for that debacle. And all of them stayed in the employ of the CIA afterwards. In fact, Artime was Howard Hunt's Golden Boy, the man who Hunt wanted to replace Castro if the Bay of Pigs succeeded. Further, the CIA and their hard right Cubans had planned to never let the Kennedy Cubans, e.g. Manuelo Ray of JURE, take any power in Artime's Cuba. They devised a secret operation inside the Bay of Pigs called Operation Forty, which sponsored death squads to eliminate all the Ray/Kennedy Cubans and then chalk it up to accidents, friendly fire, casualties of war etc. MK and Mellen want us to believe that RFK would not know that the very people he was involved with despised him and his brother for ending their dream of a retaken Cuba. This is especially hard to swallow since RFK sat on the secret Taylor Commission that interviewed witness after witness involved in the planning of that so-called "perfect failure." Reportedly, he and JFK came to the conclusion that the CIA had designed the operation to fail, that they counted on JFK then escalating it with American forces, and when he did not, they blamed the failure on him, covered up their duplicity in the press, and told the Cubans JFK had lost his nerve. Clearly, when Fonzi describes the outburst Morales has at the drop of JFK's name, and how Morales mentions the bloody revenge they extracted in retaliation for the Bay of Pigs, this is illustrative of the Cuban veterans resentment of Kennedy.

How could RFK not be aware of this if, for example, I am? In my earlier research days when I did a lot of interviews, I talked to several Cubans. I decided that I would not talk to any more afterward since in every discussion I had about the Kennedys they all blamed JFK for the failure of the Bay of Pigs. Some of them in quite bitter terms. So it would follow then that the actual veterans of that operation would especially despise the Kennedys. And as de Torres may have done, took the sentiments one step further into an act of murderous vengeance. (So why would Murgado change his name in honor of him?)

Why does Mellen not ask these obvious questions? Why did she not do her homework on this issue? All this information is in the literature today. In fact, there is one rather slim volume that explains the Bay of Pigs fallout in eyewitness detail. And it is not by a "Kennedy idolater" -- a smear term which Mellen likes to employ apparently so she does not have to argue the facts, or defend her rather dubious and comical crew of witnesses. That book is called Give Us this Day. It is written by Artime's friend and sponsor, Howard Hunt. A man who, like de Torres, is suspected of being involved in the JFK assassination. Hunt details all of his disputes with the Kennedys over the Bay of Pigs, how he disliked Ray and thought if the Kennedys installed him in Cuba, it would be "Castroism with out Fidel." In other words, Ray was a Communist and the Kennedys were backing another Castro. Does Mellen not think that MK, de Torres, and Artime got that message from the Spanish speaking Hunt?

Hunt was also involved in setting up Sergio Arcacha Smith in New Orleans as head of the CRC. Like the effortlessly gulled Gus Russo, Mellen believes Smith was also a Kennedy friendly Cuban who was actually buddy-buddy with RFK. This is the guy who worked for the Batista government for decades, who made a fortune in industry, who saw it all come to nothing when Castro took over. A man who was personally jetted out of Cuba by the CIA and set up in New Orleans with CIA allies like Ed Butler and Guy Banister. A man who was later identified as one of the two Cubans who threw Rose Cheramie out of the car as they were driving to Dallas discussing how to kill Kennedy. Who according to Richard Nagell was involved in the setting up of Oswald in New Orleans, and who according to Officer Francis Fruge, may have had maps of Dealey Plaza in his apartment in Dallas where he was living at the time of the murder. It is hard to measure who the better indictment in this case would be against: Smith or de Torres. But according to Mellen and MK, they were both "good friends" of RFK.

I pondered throughout how Mellen could believe such people without reservation. People who some investigators -- like Fonzi, Ed Lopez, and the late Al Gonzalez -- have thought were actually suspect in the case. It was not until her last chapter that I began to understand why. Her agenda, in large part, coincides with theirs. Mellen was once married to Ralph Schoenmann. And in fact, when her book came out, her former husband did a three-hour radio interview with her on WBAI in New York. Schoenmann was the man who once wrote that Bobby Kennedy was in charge of the 1965 CIA coup in Indonesia against Sukarno. That he ran the operation from a navy ship off the coast. Since RFK was out of the White House and in the Senate at the time, I noted that this irresponsible charge was almost certainly false. But it is part of Schoenmann's view of America and the JFK case. He sees no important difference between the Kennedys, the Eastern Establishment, and the Power Elite. To him the assassination was a struggle between the Eastern Establishment and the new oil barons of the southwest, or as Carl Oglesby has termed it, The Yankee and Cowboy War. And Schoenmann, against reams of contrary evidence-- e.g. Richard Mahoney's excellent book JFK: Ordeal in Africa -- considers the Kennedys part of the Eastern Establishment. Since Mellen's book is about Jim Garrison, who ended up rejecting Farewell America, she could not quite view it that way. But, like her former husband, she spares no opportunity to carve RFK -- if not JFK-- into tiny pieces. Looking through my notes, and then the marginalia I wrote in the book, I have little problem writing this next sentence. The book is a hatchet job on RFK; one aimed right between his shoulder blades. And it is hard to believe that it was not planned that way. Especially since, as noted above, she never doubts anything these Cubans and their allies like Hemming tell her, no matter how wild, no matter how illogical, no matter how unsupported. Any time she can take a shot at him, she does. At one point, she writes that Bobby was always given to hero worship of brutal men (p. 187). Really. Like, for instance, Cesar Chavez? And for her there is never a less than sinister reason why RFK could doubt Garrison, or be uncertain about what to do about the death of his brother: the deep melancholia he sank into after JFK's death, the humiliations LBJ inflicted on him, the naked disdain Hoover felt for him personally. Incredibly -- or rather, with Mellen, predictably -- these are never even mentioned, let alone given any consideration. At one point she writes that it was RFK who told the family they should not make waves about a conspiracy to kill JFK (p. 344). Yet according to a man who was at this meeting, Peter Lawford, it was Teddy who voiced that sentiment. Bobby was the one who wanted it out in the open for a family discussion. This episode, which I noted in Probe Magazine, will be expanded upon in David Talbot's upcoming book about RFK. Which, unlike Mellen's work, promises to be responsible, balanced, and inductive in method. That is, its conclusions will flow from the evidence, and not vica-versa.

To exemplify just how far her anti-Kennedy rage reaches, let me cite two egregious examples. She uses the notorious Louisiana right-winger and segregationist John Rarick (p. 173) to relate a story about the sad Kennedy sister Rosemary. Previously, it had been reported that she suffered from mental retardation and the family had her institutionalized. Misdiagnosed, she had a lobotomy. Since then the Kennedys have always been in the forefront of special rights for the mentally afflicted. Well, Rarick says that is all wrong. She was misdiagnosed alright. She really was a kleptomaniac who consistently wrote bad checks. (A Kennedy who was hard up for money?) And instead of sending her to one of the better institutions in the northeast, she was sent to Angola in Louisiana which, by some reports, houses much of the pathological prison population of the area. What does Rarick have to support this story? Records that have now conveniently disappeared. And what on earth does it have to do with Garrison's inquiry? Then on page 200, she drags in the Bernie Spindel tapes. Spindel was a surveillance technician who worked for Jimmy Hoffa. Previously, the only tapes he ever had about the Kennedys were the mythological Marilyn Monroe tapes, which were investigated by the NYPD and found to be apocryphal. (Spindel was in trouble with the law and he was using this blackmail bluff as a bargaining chip.) Now, Mellen uses Kennedy enemy and proven xxxx Spindel as having "tapes and evidence about the Kennedy assassination that he wished to make public."Of course, like the MM tapes, these are never revealed. (I wonder why.). With the use of Spindel and Rarick, Mellen descends into the netherworld of the likes of The Clinton Chronicles. And again, this is a book that is supposed to be about Jim Garrison and his inquiry into the John Kennedy murder. If she had not been so single-minded in her near-pathological obsession with Bobby she could have written more and better stuff about Garrison e.g. the chapter on Phelan or the media. And it would have been a better book. As with the discredited John Davis, if I were to go into every dubious accusation she makes about the Kennedys, that in itself would take a small book.

So, for me, it's not surprising that in her (unconsciously satirical) final chapter she willingly uses people like MK and Beckham. They help her fulfill her preplanned double arc, namely to support Garrison, and dig a pitchfork -- to the hilt-- into RFK's back. In her eagerness to do so she ignores the facts that 1.) Today, you don't need Beckham to support what Garrison did. There is an abundance of other evidence in that regard, and 2.) The whole story about why RFK remained inactive about his brother's death is a subtle, shaded, and complex one. And having the likes of Bernardo de Torres pal talk to you about it after he's made you dinner is not a good way to approach it.

In sum, the book was a huge disappointment for me. Reportedly, Mellen spent seven years on it and over 150, 000 dollars. So, quite naturally, like others, I was expecting at least a worthwhile effort. If it was not going to be definitive, it would now be at least the best book on Garrison. But that's not true. Bill Davy's book is still the best book in the field. Unlike Mellen's work it is both clearly written and well organized. Further, he does not make statements he cannot support and does not serve as a willing and eager conduit for disinformation from people with obvious agendas. Like covering up their suspect roles in the conspiracy to kill President Kennedy.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Posted with permission (by Jim's former co-writer Lisa Pease)

Dawn

* * *

Edited by Dawn Meredith
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Dawn has done the Forum a service by providing this review, if DiEugenio cannot be considered impartial, I couldn't thnk of anyone who could be. His review of AFTJ, illustrates the pratfalls of many things involved in credible research into the labyrinth of 11/22/63 among them, how interviewing CIA Operatives [or anyone for that matter]can be problematic, Hemming is the ultimate example. Additionally the somewhat ill coined term "resolution," of Mellen's book will not be so, until the corrected version [footnote problem] she assures us is in the offing, comes out.

I do think Joan should be given a break, at least in the sense that she interviewed numerous individuals, and at least there are many of us that can separate the wheat from the chaff, so to speak, DiEugenio's commentary, notwithstanding.

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On August 9th, Ronald R. Williams posted a link to DiEugenio's review in the History Books section of the Forum. There is a brief comment by Owen Parsons about same.

In addition, there are 12 pages of members' comments about Mellen and her book, A Farewell to Justice.

DiEugenio acknowledged that Mellen's research was solid in several important areas.

Edited by Michael Hogan
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On August 9th, Ronald R. Williams posted a link to DiEugenio's review in the History Books section of the Forum. There is a brief comment by Owen Parsons about same.

In addition, there are 12 pages of members' comments about Mellen and her book, A Farewell to Justice.

DiEugenio acknowledged that Mellen's research was solid in several important areas.

Mike:

Don't get me wrong, except for the very important problems so cogently presented by Jim D above, I LOVED AFTJ. Loved it. I wrote Joan a gushing letter part way into it. Then I got to all the anti- Bobby stuff and I was just floored. That she trusted Hemming shows that even someone very jfk assassination savvy can be conned. I wish she and Hemming would come back to the forum and that the two of them would debate. Problem is she does not accept that she was taken in.

She responded to my letter with equal niceness, but when I wrote back I could not contain my criticism...LIE?? I tried to soft peddle it, but I hear she takes the slightest criticism poorly.

(And she did).

She does Garrison proud, save for the salacious sexual tales she appears to relish in recounting. So damn out of place in a serious book on the carrer of JIm Garrison and the case. The title -AFTJ- was actually the working title of Garrsion's book that- became -the film- JFK. (Then changed to On The Trail OF the Assassins).

Someone had to critic this book who is also impartial. Jim and she are friends. And yes her research is beyond solid. Owen and I are in accord on this. We were Joan's biggest supporters when the book came out. However, she has some serious deficiencies that could only be addressed by someone with the kind of experience on Garrison and the case that someone like Jin DiEugenio uniquely has. (His book on Garrison -"Destiny Betrayed" is right on the money.)

Dawn

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I respectfully have to differ with Jim, who I know, and the others of you who want to pan in part or in major part Joan Mellen's book. I also know Joan and have extensively discussed about Hemming with her. She trusts him not for anything and only used things she could confirm from other sources about him and anything related to of coming from him. The problems with the references were the publishers mistake and are to be corrected. The stylistic complaints by DiEugenio I feel are just sour grapes and not worth much comment. Joan is a professor of English and wrote the book in a complex style....nothing more...it detracts nothing from the excellent information - much of it NEW and SIGNIFICANT in the extreme! As to many persons' remarks on her views on RFK, and by some extrapolation (they feel) on JFK, I think much of this has been unfair and unbalanced. Some might just be too invested psychologically in 'Camelot'. The Kennedy's were very much better than those who killed them, and the US and the world would have been a better place had they not be executed, however they were politicians and not perfect persons nor saints. Even if you don't accept Mellen's new theory on RFK's Cuban team, I don't think it takes away from the other information in book. I haven't read anyone's book that doesn't have a new pet theory (or three) that I didn't 'buy' in its entirety, or in part. I think the attacks on Joan have mostly been as a reaction to what persons perceived as an 'attack' on the Kennedy image - and I don't think Dr. Mellen is making any attack - only trying to present her view of what she thinks is balanced and true. I hear lots of attacks on Joan Mellen's book, but haven't yet seen anyone able to really present some evidence of major problems with the information - which I consider both excellent on Garrison and JFK - and much new and important. Di Eugenio's attack on Mellen I felt was a bit uncalled for, unkind and mostly untrue. I don't know what is behind it, but think not the facts of the 'case' and it is more Jim's bruised feelings on Camelot or ?! No book is without some minor errors in this field. Her book is a great contribution to the JFK research IMO and that of also many other good researchers who don't post much on the Forum. Time will tell about her new ideas on RFK...but without advancing new ideas we move nowhere. She felt she had/has evidence to support her new ideas and were not 'wildly' made nor without careful consideration. Sometimes there is too much orthodoxy within our unorthodox research community. We all see the truth and we all see the outlines of the Conspiracy...we differ on the details and there is IMO too much back stabbing about those differences et al.

NB - Joan Mellen has new information to further buttress her arguements and is slowly working on yet a new work....so stay tuned....

Peter:

I have seen a number of reviews of this book that criticize her writing and claim the book was hard to follow. I did not have any problem with it....And I look forward to any new evidence Joan has. But let me ask you this: Do you think the Kennedy brothers were really in this dual -(and contradictory)- role of seeking peaceful co-existance with Castro while at the same time working ( WITH THE CIA??) to kill Castro? This is the claim I found so difficult to believe. (And I am not alone here).

Walter Sheridan was clearly CIA. Certiainly when he was acting at the behest of NBC. Years prior he'd been affiliated with RFK in Bobby's quest to imprison as many mobsters as he could. But do you really believe that it was at RFK's urgings that Sheridan sabotage the Garrison investigation? (Is not the CIA a more likely "candidate" here?) Do you not believe that in '68 Bobby - had he lived to become president- intended to have JFK's murder investigated properly? (This was told to me by many former RFK campaign workers during my year as a McGovern city co-ordinator. ) I have no reason to believe that this is merely "Camelot legend".

Except for those "problems" I highly recommend Joan's book.

Dawn

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My post from the History Books section:

Jim DiEugenio's review of Joan Mellen's A Farewell to Justice is now available on the PROBE/CTKA site.

http://www.ctka.net/mellen_review.html

Ron W

Huh. I was just wondering yesterday what Jim has been up to and where the Probe site had gone. Good to see the site back (and updated!) and good to see this article. It outlines the real problems with AF2J, unlike some of the anti-Garrison rantings that punctuate this thread (yes, you know who you are).

I agree with most of what he says about Mellen's book. Its a shame she had to mix all the valuable and new information she has on Garrison with a few dubious assertions and much RFK-bashing. I think the review is particularly dead-on about Ralph Schoenmann's influence on Mellen's view of the Kennedys. I came to this same conclusion a while ago and told Dawn about it.

Its still a valuable book for research purposes (with a good deal of suplementary reading and familiarity with the case) and the new edition should at least improve its aesethetic qualities, if nothing else. Unfortunately, the book isn't the thorough and definitive take on Garrison's investigation that many of us were hoping it would be. Nor is it a particularly good overview and introduction for the newcomer. :)

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  • 1 month later...

How the Failure To Identify, Prosecute and Convict President Kennedy's Assassins Has Led To Today's Crisis Of Democracy

by Joan Mellen, author of 'A Farewll to Justice'

Lecture Delivered at the Ethical Culture Society, New York City, January 24, 2006

The last time I was in this room was for the memorial service of a distinguished American author, J. Anthony Lukas, who wrote "Common Ground," about race and class in Boston. During the course of his career, Tony came into conflict with an institution that I will discuss this evening, "The New York Times."

"A Farewell To Justice" is about the Kennedy assassination. It opens as a biography of Jim Garrison, district attorney of Orleans Parish, Louisiana, who remains the only public official ever to have brought anyone before the bar of justice for participation in the conspiracy to murder President Kennedy. Garrison assumed that role when he discovered that the person framed for the crime, a low-level intelligence agent named Lee Harvey Oswald, resided in his jurisdiction between April and September of 1963. The Biblical metaphor is inevitable: that great harlot city New Orleans, destroyed by flood, with, among its many sins, incubating the Kennedy assassination.

After his suspect Clay Shaw was acquitted, Shaw the man whom the new evidence reveals was a CIA operative guilty of participating in the implementation of the murder of President Kennedy, Garrison was asked how he imagined that he could convict someone of conspiracy in the murder of President Kennedy in a Louisiana state court. Garrison said: "I guess I thought I was living in the country I was born in." He wasn't and we aren't.

I would like to suggest that the truth about the Kennedy assassination, far from being a matter of interest only to historians, and not even to most of them, will help us understand how we have arrived at a point where people as respectable as New York attorney Martin Garbus are comparing the current U.S. government with the rise of fascism in the mid-twentieth century. It's my belief that the present state of our political culture is a direct result of the fact that those responsible for the murder of President Kennedy have never been brought to justice.

To sum up: "A Farewell To Justice" suggests that the clandestine service of the CIA not only covered up the truth about the Kennedy assassination - that's easy to demonstrate from the four million documents now residing at the National Archives - but organized the event itself. That the CIA escaped without penalty, this extraordinary fact, has been integrated over these forty-two years into the body politic. It has produced a political culture where the unthinkable has become accepted practice. Meaningful freedom of the press has fallen into serious jeopardy.

For a flagrant example of what we have come to, we might revisit the scantily reported exchange on December 1st (2005) between Notre Dame professor Doug Cassel and John Yoo, a former deputy assistant to Attorney General John Ashcroft, a participant in the writing of the Patriot Act, and now a Berkeley law professor.

The subject of the debate was the illegal expansion of presidential powers.

Professor Cassel asks, "If the President deems that he's got to torture somebody, including by crushing the testicles of the person's child, there is no law that can stop him?" And Yoo answers, "No treaty."

Cassel follows up: "Also no law by Congress. That is what you wrote in the August 2002 memo." And Yoo replies, "I think it depends on why the President thinks he needs to do that."

If Professor Cassel's hypothetical question seems melodramatic, we have Martin Garbus, alarmed by the twin expansion of Presidential and police powers, writing in the "New York Observer": "This country is approaching a dangerous turning point," and suggesting that the United States today bears some similarities to Weimar Germany where liberal democracy was not able to contend with the fascist onslaught.

In Miami a few weeks ago I was struck by the omnipresence, on the streets and restaurants, of police officers from a variety of law enforcement agencies. Famously, Benjamin Franklin replied to a question of whether this new land should be a monarchy or a republic with the line, "A republic, if you can keep it."

What begins as surveillance moves to wiretapping, then COINTELPRO tricks, and finally to murder - a diagram of what happened to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and why the illegal NSA surveillance is so alarming.

We have not been aided in understanding the meaning of the Kennedy assassination by the continued public silence of those closest to President Kennedy. One day I requested of Wilmer Thomas, one of Jim Garrison's law school classmates (Tulane School of Law, Class of 1949) to ask his acquaintance, Kennedy adviser Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., whom he believed was behind the assassination of President Kennedy. Professor Schlesinger observed, quietly, "We were at war with the National Security people."

That the CIA at its highest levels exacted its revenge on President Kennedy has been an open secret since 1963. A Gallup poll on the 40th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination in 2003 found that twice as many people believed that the CIA was implicated in the assassination as there were who accepted the official fiction that Oswald had acted alone.

In 1963, people were already worried abut the CIA's extraordinary use of its powers. In the "New York Times," Arthur Krock wrote in October 1963 that if ever there would be a coup in the United States, it "would come from the CIA and not the Pentagon." The CIA, Krock wrote, was a "malignancy" on the body politic. It is difficult to imagine such words being printed in the "Times" today, so profoundly has our freedom of the press eroded since the time of the Kennedy assassination.

After the death of President Kennedy, ex-President Harry S. Truman, under whose watch the CIA was created in 1947, wrote on the front page of the "Washington Post," that the CIA had been running a "shadow government," becoming "operational." Brazenly, Allen Dulles at one point even told a reporter to think of the CIA as "the State Department for unfriendly countries." The CIA's policy-making also involved interference in the electoral process in Italy and France, funneling money to certain political parties - in Italy it was the Christian Democrats whom the CIA funded in an effort to prevent a coalition of socialists and Communists from taking power. The assassination of Prime Minister Aldo Moro was connected to that CIA campaign.

At the time of the assassination, Charles de Gaulle remarked that John F. Kennedy, whom he admired, had died as a result of an intra-government conflict, a situation not uncommon in many countries. The documentation available since the passage of the JFK Act in 1992 overwhelmingly supports de Gaulle's view.

The rubber-stamping of the Warren Report by the press in 1964 seems to mark the moment when the mainstream press became "embedded" in official versions of events. Traces of that process have surfaced. In April 1967 the CIA issued a memo (available at the National Archives) instructing friendly reporters on how to reply to challenges to the Warren Report, recommendations that have resurfaced in the past few years in a renewed set of attacks on Jim Garrison, a decade after his death.

So it should come as no surprise that the "New York Times" for a year covered up the National Security Agency domestic surveillance of citizens with rubber-stamped search warrants issued under a "Foreign Intelligence Services Act" (FISA) run by the Pentagon, or with no warrants at all. Only when their own reporter was about to publish a book detailing the evidence did the "Times" run that story. It should be horrifying that the Congressional debate about the Patriot Act has not been over whether there should be such a government capability, but how long it should be extended.

Ponder the "Times'" treatment of Jim Garrison, and later of Oliver Stone, who dared to make a film with Jim Garrison as its central character. When Garrison's first book, "A Heritage of Stone," appeared in 1969, John Leonard gave it a positive review in the daily "Times." In his final paragraph, Leonard recounted a few of Garrison's challenges to the Warren Report.

"Something stinks about this whole affair," Leonard writes. "Why were Kennedy's neck organs not examined at Bethesda for evidence of a frontal shot? Why was his body whisked away to Washington before the legally required Texas inquest? Why?"

By the next edition, Leonard's final paragraph had vanished, a third of a column slid down the memory hole. Leonard's review now closed with these words: "Frankly, I prefer to believe that the Warren Commission did a poor job, rather than a dishonest one. I like to think that Garrison invents monsters to explain incompetence." It was an extraordinary example of management censorship of a book review. To this day, the "Times" tolerates no factual challenges to the Warren Report.

They appear to be the only people who still believe that Lee Harvey Oswald was responsible for the death of President Kennedy. I spoke in Clinton, Louisiana last month, at the oldest working courthouse in the United States, I believe. The judge who introduced me asked the audience how many believed that Lee Harvey Oswald was guilty. Not a single hand went up. That audience knew the Warren Report was nonsensical because it was in East Feliciana Parish, in the hamlets of Clinton and Jackson, that Oswald appeared in the company of Clay Shaw, and a CIA contract pilot named David Ferrie, in the late summer of 1963, three months before the assassination. In the audience were actual witnesses, including the barber who cut Oswald's hair.

That the Warren Report could so flagrantly lie, and present itself as a homicide investigation, while doing virtually no investigation at all - neither Clay Shaw nor David Ferrie were interviewed, inspiring Jim Garrison's quip, "they didn't call anyone who WAS involved" - has resulted in other Presidential Commissions taking similar liberties with the truth.

I wrote an op-ed piece comparing the deliberate ignoring of crucial information by the 9/11 Commission with a similar failure to investigate a key lead by the Warren Commission. It began with the information released by Lieutenant Colonel in Army intelligence Tony Shaffer that the Able Danger intelligence unit had identified Mohammed Atta and other accused hijackers as part of a cell of Al Qaeda operating in the United States at least a year before 9/11. Colonel Shaffer had wanted this information to go immediately to the FBI only for Defense Department lawyers to forbid Able Danger from contacting the Bureau.

The "New York Times" buried this extraordinary information two-thirds of the way into the paper. The "Washington Post" ran a Pentagon denial.

"Information has to get out, and I think we have to account for why some of these things weren't looked at as part of the overall report," Colonel Shaffer said on NPR.

Shaffer then revealed something else: he had presented the findings of the Able Danger team to Philip Zelikow, that same executive staff director of the 9/11 Commission who has defended the recent attacks on Jim Garrison as a dupe of the KGB! Zelikow saw to it that the Able Danger information never appeared in the 9/11 Commission Report, and went on to deny that he was given the information. He now works on the staff of Condeleeza Rice.

One might ask: could Zelikow and company have gotten away with denying the reality of a cover-up of vital information about 9/11 if we had demanded the truth from the Warren Commission? I sent my Op Ed piece, "9/11 and 11/22," to 34 newspapers. Only one would print it, the "Key West Citizen."

What has all this to do with the Kennedy assassination per se? I'm suggesting that demanding the truth about the Kennedy assassination, even at this late date, is a step toward restoring our basic freedoms. The discourse needs to go even further than point to who planned and implemented the crime. Was the CIA acting alone on its own behalf? Whose interests did the Agency serve in 1963 - because the CIA eviscerated by George W. Bush was a very different institution from the Agency that waged war against President Kennedy?

The discussion of who rules America might begin with President Eisenhower's heroic warning against a military-industrial (and we need, of course, to add national security) complex. "We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes," President Eisenhower added. He cut the military budget as soon as he took office; he didn't believe the U.S. should be a militarized nation. The CIA, the research reveals, sabotaged President Eisenhower's effort to achieve détente with the Soviets in the final year of his presidency through the downing of Francis Gary Powers' U-2 overflight into the Soviet Union. President Eisenhower had a good definition of "National Security." He said "national security" meant that the country was proceeding in peace and without a deficit.

Jim Garrison often asked during his investigation: Cui Bono? Who benefits? A friend of mine living near "Langley Forks" in Virginia pointed out to me some interesting connections. The Texas School Book Depository, from which some, but not all, of the shots were fired on November 22, 1963, was owned by one D. H. Byrd. Byrd also founded and was the commander of the Southwest post of the Civil Air Patrol, which included Louisiana and the troop led by David Ferrie, among whose cadets was Lee Harvey Oswald.

In November, 1963, one of Byrd's companies, LTV, a major defense contractor, was almost bankrupt. Defense contracts flowing from the Vietnam War changed that, and by 1968 the stock had increased geometrically in value. Meanwhile we know that President Kennedy opposed vehemently a protracted ground war, and that as soon as he was dead, Lyndon Johnson dispatched thousands of troops to Vietnam.

Among Byrd's associates was a man named Neil Mallon, the skull and bones classmate of Prescott Bush. Mallon headed a company called Dresser Industries, and it was Dresser that sent George H. W. Bush, his friend Prescott's son, west to Texas in 1949. It was for Mallon that the first President Bush named one of his sons. Mallon built Byrd's barite plant in Mexico, barite a product involved in oil drilling.

Dresser Industries was bought by Halliburton in 1998, and at that time the Kellogg subsidiary of Dresser became part of Brown and Root. Brown and Root itself had been bought by Halliburton in 1962. It is less well known that Brown and Root profited not only from the war in Iraq, but first from Vietnam. Having recognized the role of Brown and Root, and discovering that George Brown was a CIA asset (as the CIA's own released documents confirm), Jim Garrison hoped to investigate Brown's role.

Was the CIA acting on behalf of President Eisenhower's military-industrial complex? As a matter for further research, the intelligence connections of the Bushes date from before the very founding of the CIA: the Agency's mandate was outlined in 1946 by Robert A. Lovett, who was a partner of Prescott Bush at Brown Brothers Harriman.

Not least, as readers of the "Nation" magazine know, after the Kennedy assassination, the FBI was enlisted to brief CIA asset George Bush, THE George Bush, and not a low-level man in the Agency by the same name, as was at first claimed, on the reaction of the Miami anti-Castro community to the event.

To the general observation that the CIA represented the interests of the oil-defense industries, and the Pentagon, must be added another motive for the involvement of the CIA in the assassination. Almost from the moment Kennedy took office, a conflict raged between the President and the CIA. Once Kennedy refused to be blackmailed by the CIA into a full-scale invasion of Cuba at the time of the Bay of Pigs, de Gaulle's "intra-administration war" erupted. The clandestine service of the CIA pushed for an invasion of Cuba. President Kennedy declined, and went on to fire the Director of Central Intelligence, Allen Dulles, who re-emerges as the central figure at the Warren Commission.

Throughout Kennedy's brief presidency, the CIA treated him as an enemy. They withheld information, which included details about the Soviet missiles in Cuba. Also concealed from President Kennedy were the CIA's continuing assassinations and attempted assassinations of foreign leaders.

John F. Kennedy, in turn, sought to reign in the CIA, and to limit the scope of its activities, including reducing the powers of the Director of Central Intelligence. He intended to transfer the overflight U-2 program from the CIA to the Strategic Air Command. He intended to cut the CIA budget. He sent, I discovered, Richard Goodwin down to No-Name Key to ask the Soldiers of Fortune training there to take over Radio Swan, the CIA radio station, on behalf of the President. They declined. Kennedy threatened the existence of the Agency as they knew themselves.

Richard Reeves, in his very honest biography of John F. Kennedy, quotes the President repeating over and over again: "I've got to do something about those CIA bastards," and "Those CIA bastards. I'm going to get those bastards if it's the last thing I ever do." It was the persistent refrain of the Kennedy presidency.

The current President has also had his conflicts with the CIA. He, however, has espoused the very policy favored by the CIA under President Kennedy, the relentless pursuit of foreign wars. To achieve his end, that war in Iraq, no matter what lie he had to tell to implement it, George W. Bush had to do what Kennedy knew he had to do as well: eviscerate the CIA. So the disinformation was spread that the CIA had fallen down on the job.

In fact, the CIA had reported accurately about the situation in Iraq, and this before the Iraq War. CIA noted that an invasion of Iraq was likely to lead to civil war; the CIA reported that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Rather than give up his war, the President undercut the CIA.

Then Bush attempted to subvert the CIA further by claiming that the CIA had endorsed what it had not, but which fit his projected policy. He claimed that the CIA had told him first that there WERE weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Then he said CIA had been wrong. Neither claim was true. The outcome was the subordination of the clandestine services, and of the Agency itself, so that the CIA director no longer enjoys a daily briefing with the President, and is subordinate to a new Director of National Intelligence, whom the President can control.

We should not be surprised that the National Security Agency, empowered only to spy on foreign agents abroad, is spying on US instead. Research into the Kennedy assassination reveals that although the CIA was supposedly created to deal with foreign threats, the CIA operated together with the FBI in the cover-up of the Kennedy assassination. Documents reveal that this mutual cooperation dates from the moment of the founding of the CIA. In Louisiana, the sabotage of Garrison's investigation was led by the CIA, operating beyond its mandate, domestically.

Let me return to some details of what Jim Garrison accomplished. As Garrison once quipped about the supposed "lone assassin," Lee Harvey Oswald, in fact, Oswald was virtually NEVER alone. Moreover, he was not involved with anyone who was NOT connected to the CIA. Oswald was an FBI informant, Garrison learned from Louisiana representative Hale Boggs, a member of the Warren Commission, defying Allen Dulles' demand that everyone be silent about this fact. It was this single piece of information that in 1965 led Jim Garrison to resume his investigation begun in 1963.

I discovered a conversation that Garrison did not know about. At the First District police station, where Oswald was taken after he was arrested for a disturbance when he was handing out his pro-Castro leaflets, he requested of Lieutenant Francis Martello of the New Orleans police that Martello call the FBI field office. "Call the FBI," Oswald ordered Martello imperiously. "Tell them you have Lee Oswald in custody." Oswald asked that Special Agent Warren de Brueys come down to see him. Obviously, Oswald was someone the New Orleans field office of the FBI knew well.

The Agent on duty that night, John Quigley, then asked a young clerk named William Walter, the person who took Martello's call, to check all the files, locked and unlocked, for what they had on Oswald. On one file jacket, in the locked filing cabinet of the Special Agent in Charge, where security files were kept, were two names, Lee Oswald and Warren de Brueys. To this day, Mr. de Brueys denies that he ever knew Oswald. I called him just before my book was published on the pretext of spelling his name correctly: was that a capital "d" or not? Mr. de Brueys amazed me by remarking, after forty years you wouldn't be a very intelligent person if you didn't change your mind about things. This statement might not hold up in court, but I accepted it as a confession for history.

Oswald had also been part of the CIA Counter Intelligence false defector program. Oswald, I found new evidence to show, worked also for U.S. Customs in New Orleans, as many CIA people worked for Customs. One Customs officer told the Church Committee, "I've waited ten years for someone to talk to me" regarding what he knew about Oswald.

Garrison began by exploring Oswald's government connections. He indicted Clay Shaw for participating in the conspiracy, without having access to the government records released under that JFK Act, an extraordinary development we're not likely to witness again any time soon, records that establish that Shaw was a CIA operative.

By shepherding Oswald around Louisiana, Shaw was repaying the CIA for considerable favors rendered. Because Shaw was acquitted, Jim Garrison chose as the title of his third book, "A Farewell to Justice." He never used that title, and so I appropriated it. Lillian Hellman taught a course to writing students at Harvard called "Stealing." It was bad to imitate, but fine to "steal" from authors you admired, so long as you made their strategies your own. Garrison's ambition was to be an author. He was no stranger to Shakespeare, nor to novelists like Graham Greene, and of course Hemingway.

Part of my book includes how federal agencies worked actively to thwart Garrison's investigation. Garrison was astonished that the FBI refused to cooperate with New Orleans law enforcement in an investigation of the Kennedy assassination. In fact, FBI director J. Edgar Hoover subverted Garrison's effort. Witnesses came forward to the FBI, believing that in providing the FBI with information, they were simultaneously reaching the district attorney.

"Give Garrison nothing!" Hoover wrote to all special agents in charge, adding, in reference to the Special Agent in Charge in New Orleans, Robert Rightmyer: "Tell Rightmyer that I want him and all personnel in New Orleans to keep their mouths shut!" This was February 1967, a week after Jim Garrison's investigation became public.

Bobby Kennedy's right-hand man, Walter Sheridan, had spearheaded the blackmail, bribery and wiretapping that accomplished the conviction of Jimmy Hoffa. The evidence of Walter Sheridan's illegalities in the railroading of Jimmy Hoffa is chronicled in Fred Cook's three part series in the "Nation" magazine. A further irony is that Chief Justice Earl Warren, enlisted by Lyndon Johnson to rubber-stamp the preordained conclusion that Oswald murdered President Kennedy, wrote what seems to me to be a brilliant dissent when the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the Hoffa conviction.

Bobby Kennedy then sent Sheridan to New Orleans, as Sheridan freely admitted, to "destroy" Jim Garrison. That same National Security Agency spying on American citizens today spawned Walter Sheridan, who was also cleared for service with the FBI and CIA. Sheridan personally telephoned the governors of several states to ensure that Garrison's subpoenaed witnesses not be extradited back to the state of Louisiana. Not a single witness was returned to New Orleans.

In the recent attacks on Jim Garrison may be found the preposterous notion that the only reason Garrison focused on the CIA was that he was the victim of KGB propaganda flowing from an Italian newspaper, "Paese Sera." This total falsehood has been defended by Philip Zelikow, the executive director of the 9/11 Commission. One of the half-dozen anti-Garrison articles appeared, not surprisingly, on the CIA's own web site, "Studies in Intelligence."

As a biographer, among the questions I asked was: did Jim Garrison take bribes from executives profiting from pinball machine gambling (then illegal in Orleans Parish), for which he was charged by the federal government? Was Jim Garrison dishonest? The new documents reveal that after Shaw's acquittal, after he perjured himself, and suborned perjury, Garrison was ready to continue his investigation, only for that same operative, Walter Sheridan, to return to New Orleans and blackmail Garrison's friend and former chief investigator, Pershing Gervais.

Would Gervais not help them to nail Garrison for taking bribes from pinball gambling interests, Gervais would go to jail for eight years (the document is that specific) for income tax fraud. So we see in this story, the mutual cooperation of agencies: the FBI helping the CIA, the IRS enlisted by the National Security Agency and the CIA. Years later, on the occasion of Oliver Stone's film, "JFK," Anthony Lewis wrote in the "New York Times" that Garrison had taken bribes. In fact, Garrison had been acquitted. The bribes were indeed going to a "big man" at Tulane and Broad, but it was not six foot six inch Jim Garrison, but Chief of Police, Joseph Giarrusso.

Addressing a frequent attempt to discredit Jim Garrison, I also had to ask: was Garrison tied to the Mafia? Did he blame the CIA for the assassination as a way of protecting the Mafia? I learned that Carlos Marcello, the Mafia chieftain of Louisiana and Texas, despised Garrison and wanted him out of office. Garrison was "unreliable," Marcello complained to Governor John J. McKeithen, whose assistant, John Tarver, relayed this to me. (McKeithen himself did take bribes from Marcello by the way. John R. Rarick ran against McKeithen in 1968 and the Marcello people talked to Rarick's campaign manager, who refused a $50,000 contribution from Marcello. Marcello's man was incredulous. "Big John took his," he said).

The final chapter of my book, entitled "Rabbi," reflects my interviews with a person who was involved in setting up the assassination, a man named Thomas Edward Beckham. It describes his CIA training at a facility in Virginia. Beckham presented me with a government document which describes him as a man who would feel no guilt about killing. This phrase matches in language documents released by the Church Committee describing the assassins hired by the CIA in their assassination attempts against foreign leaders: Lumumba, Trujillo, Diem, and, of course, Fidel Castro.

Beckham had been subjected to a polygraph by the New Orleans police in the late 1970s: when Robert Blakey and Gary Cornwell, who headed the House Select Committee on Assassinations, discovered this, the Louisiana investigators were suspended for conducting a polygraph without authorization. The CIA controlled that investigation as it did the Warren Commission. My favorite anecdote concerns the moment when former Justice Arthur Goldberg was asked to head the Committee after Philadelphia prosecutor Richard A. Sprague was fired. Knowing that the CIA held the truth about the assassination, Goldberg telephoned the Director of Central Intelligence, Stansfield Turner, and asked whether, should he take the job, he would be given full CIA cooperation. His question was met by silence.

Goldberg persisted. He posed his question again. Only then did Turner reply, "I thought my silence was my answer." Goldberg did not take the job.

My final question came at my last interview, in Miami in June of 2005. It was one that also perplexed Jim Garrison: why did Bobby Kennedy try to sabotage his investigation? I interviewed a Cuban close to Robert Kennedy, who revealed that Robert Kennedy had Oswald under surveillance in New Orleans during the summer of 1963.

Like Professor Schlesinger, Robert Kennedy looked first to the CIA for responsibility in the murder of his brother. On the day of the assassination, Bobby confronted John McCone, the Director of Central Intelligence, with this question: "Did the CIA kill my brother?" He told Harry Ruiz Williams, one of the Cubans working for him, confirming his prior awareness of Oswald, "One of your guys did it!" and it was not a question, but a statement.

Wanting to be certain, Bobby sent that same Walter Sheridan to Dallas to find out if the Mafia had planned the crime. They had not. Bobby also asked a Mafia-connected Chicago lawyer, Julius Draznin, who worked for the NLRB, the same question. The answer, as Draznin reported to Walter Sheridan, was that the assassination was not a Mafia hit. Years later, Sheridan would testify under oath that the Mafia was behind the assassination!

It was in the circles of the anti-Castro movement that Bobby Kennedy directed his attention, his aim to protect the life of his brother from some Cuban still furious about the Bay of Pigs. His other aim was to "neutralize" Fidel Castro. Since the Church Committee hearings, newspapers have reported on Operation MONGOOSE, the CIA-Mafia plots to assassinate Fidel Castro. Bobby Kennedy's separate efforts have been less widely publicized.

It was in this Miami research that I discovered my parallel between the cover-up by the 9/11 Commission of the Able Danger information and a similar set of facts that faced the Warren Commission in its closing days. It reveals information that bears upon why Robert F. Kennedy was nervous about Jim Garrison's investigation, and about any investigation of his brother's death. This began at the Bethesda autopsy; one of the doctors, Pierre Finck, testified for the defense in New Orleans at State of Louisiana v. Clay Shaw that the Kennedy family had requested that the trajectory of the President's wounds not be examined.

"If my brother were killed," Garrison said, "I would be interested in getting the individuals involved, no matter who they were." Garrison made this statement on national television, exasperated by the persistent question by news people: if you're on the right track, why isn't Bobby Kennedy helping you?"

Late in its deliberations, the Warren Commission discovered that Lee Harvey Oswald had visited a Cuban exile and former law student named Sylvia Odio in Dallas in late September 1963. During the weekend of the assassination, Mrs. Odio and her sister Annie both at once identified Oswald as the man who had visited her in the presence of two Cubans, whom Sylvia has yet to identify.

Mrs. Odio testified before the Warren Commission. She said that the day after that visit, one of the Cubans had telephoned her and in the course of the conversation remarked that "Leon Oswald" had said, "President Kennedy should have been assassinated after the Bay of Pigs and some Cubans should have done thatit's so easy to do it," indicating both foreknowledge of the assassination and that Oswald was being set up. The Warren Commission never adequately investigated this information - they certainly didn't call "Leopoldo," just as the 9/11 Commission didn't feel obliged to investigate the Able Danger documents.

The Warren Commission's chief counsel, J. Lee Rankin, expressed irritation at the very suggestion that Sylvia Odio's story should be fully investigated, muttering, "we are supposed to be closing doors, not opening them." Years later, Rankin was bitter that the FBI and CIA had concealed vital information from the Warren Commission. Deposed in the late 1970s by the House Select Committee on Assassinations, Rankin admitted that he regretted that he had taken the CIA's word that Oswald "was never a CIA agent."

Invited to ask if he had anything further to say, Rankin had a question for the lawyers and committee members in the room. Was the HSCA investigating whether the people involved in the CIA cover-up were involved in the assassination as well? He received the identical response Arthur Goldberg had: silence.

The Warren Commission lacked a context in which to evaluate the incident of Oswald visiting Sylvia Odio because the FBI and CIA both, on the instruction of Chief of Counter Intelligence James Angleton concealed the CIA's history of attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro, now a matter of public record.

In my pursuit of the question of why Bobby Kennedy tried to sabotage Jim Garrison's investigation - Garrison used the word "torpedo" - I studied the minutes of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board and the Church Committee papers (the 25 per cent that are open to the public). I tried to interview Cubans who worked closely with the Attorney General. This is some of what I discovered.

Bobby Kennedy had assembled a team of anti-Castro Cubans. One, Manolo Reboso, is now living in Nicaragua, having married into the wealthy Somoza family. Another, Manuel Artime, is dead. But I did locate a man named Angelo Murgado, a man so devoted to the Kennedys that, at his citizenship hearing, he changed his name from "Murgado" to "Kennedy" in homage to a person whom he admired, Bobby Kennedy.

Angelo told me that Bobby's instructions to his special team were twofold. One aim was to find a means of getting rid of Fidel Castro. Bobby's other aim was to protect his brother. He sent these Cubans to New Orleans. Moving among, as Angelo put it, "Castro's agents, double agents, and Cubans working for the CIA," they hoped to "neutralize" a future assassin. You can deduce what he meant by "neutralize."

In New Orleans, Angelo Murgado ran into Lee Harvey Oswald, who was moving among the anti-Castro community. He put Oswald under surveillance. When I mentioned that I had discovered Oswald's acquaintance with an anti-Castro Cuban named Juan Valdes, who worked at Clay Shaw's International Trade Mart, Angelo was dubious. How could that be? He knew everyone Oswald was acquainted with, and he didn't know of this man. That's how close to Oswald they drew.

Scrutinizing Oswald, and reporting back to Bobby, his team discovered that Oswald was an informant for the FBI. Learning this, Bobby reasoned, "If the FBI is controlling him, he's no problem." Bobby underestimated the role Oswald had been induced to play in the plans to murder of his brother and ceased to make him a major target of his concern. Bobby knew "something was cooking in New Orleans," Angelo Murgado told me. But Bobby urged "caution." He was out of his depth.

In September, it was Angelo and a fellow veteran of the Bay of Pigs who traveled from New Orleans to Dallas to visit Sylvia Odio. Angelo believed they were there to marshal help for their anti-Castro efforts, and talked about buying arms to support an anti-Castro movement within Cuba. Mrs. Odio's father, in jail in Cuba, headed a liberal organization called JURE, its position, "Fidelismo sin Fidel." Angelo believed he could trust his companion, referred to in the Warren Report as "Leopoldo," because not only was he a fellow veteran of the Bay of Pigs, but his brother was running for Mayor of Miami. He was respectable.

The next day, out of Angelo's hearing, "Leopoldo" phoned Mrs. Odio to tell her how "Leon" Oswald had talked about the need to murder President Kennedy. "Leon is kind of nuts," Leopoldo stated, setting up Oswald as the patsy. Oswald's mental imbalance forms the conclusion of the Warren Report, and Oswald was called "Leon" a number of times, not least at a gathering at David Ferrie's apartment where Clay Shaw and Ferrie, Garrison's chief suspects, discussed what their alibis would be for November 22nd. At Sylvia Odio's, Angelo used his true given name. "Leopoldo" was an alias.

Placing Oswald in the company of so close an associate of Bobby Kennedy, in an incident that points to foreknowledge of the assassination as well as the framing of Oswald, created the trap that would silence Bobby forever. Bobby asked his aide, Frank Mankiewicz whether "any of our people were involved," and, Mankiewicz told me, he had asked himself, did you think there might be?

Angelo, meanwhile, had been betrayed by a companion he believed he could trust, a man not so much assigned to the overthrow of Fidel Castro, as Angelo believed, as he was enlisted to arrange for Oswald to be blamed for the murder of the President.

"Leopoldo" was a Cuban named Bernardo de Torres. A virtual flood of documents reveals that he was an asset of both the CIA and military intelligence. When he was subpoenaed before the House Select Committee, CIA arrived on the day he was deposed to insist that de Torres be granted immunity. The CIA so totally controlled that Committee that they agreed to the CIA demand that de Torres not be questioned about the period of time leading up to the Kennedy assassination. Both the Warren Commission and the HSCA buried what they knew about Oswald's participation in ANTI-Castro activities, information that would have led directly to the role of the CIA in the assassination.

I believe that we are now suffering the consequences of allowing lies about what happened to President Kennedy to remain unchallenged. The consequence of the public not demanding that the murder of the head of state be properly investigated has led directly to the current undermining of the integrity of our democratic institutions, not least the press. An obvious consequence of the obfuscations of the Warren Commission and the House Select Committee both has been the ease with which the 9/11 Commission was able to conceal important truths.

I wrote my book to make a small contribution to the need for government accountability and openness because what is at stake, to be a bit grandiose, is democracy itself.

I'll close with a line by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., from a sermon a year before his death: "No lie can forever."

Edited by William Kelly
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How the Failure To Identify, Prosecute and Convict President Kennedy's Assassins Has Led To Today's Crisis Of Democracy

by Joan Mellen, author of 'A Farewll to Justice'

Lecture Delivered at the Ethical Culture Society, New York City, January 24, 2006

>...

Excellent article William; thank you for posting it.

I especially appreciate the ties between JFK/Bush and 911/Bush, for the continuity impaired.

I wonder what Mellen's source was for the claims about Bobby Kennedy and why he wouldn't allow investigations of his brother's murder. It's certainly consistent with "Ultimate Sacrifice" in describing how Bobby was working towards Castro's overthrow and had close associations with some Cuban exiles. Though I think Ultimate Sacrifice goes too far in denying CIA leadership in the assassination and saying the mob dunnit. I'm not at all sure I totally buy the idea that Bobby was essentially framed by the CIA in advance so his knowledge of Oswald's proximity to the murder would be exposed if he exposed the real killers. But it's possible. I just wonder if Mellen used Ultimate Sacrifice or if she has a second source.

I wouldn't rule out fear for his family as a deterrent to investigation. But that really wouldn't explain his supposed active interference with Garrison's investigation.

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How the Failure To Identify, Prosecute and Convict President Kennedy's Assassins Has Led To Today's Crisis Of Democracy

by Joan Mellen, author of 'A Farewll to Justice'

Lecture Delivered at the Ethical Culture Society, New York City, January 24, 2006

>...

Excellent article William; thank you for posting it.

I especially appreciate the ties between JFK/Bush and 911/Bush, for the continuity impaired.

I wonder what Mellen's source was for the claims about Bobby Kennedy and why he wouldn't allow investigations of his brother's murder. It's certainly consistent with "Ultimate Sacrifice" in describing how Bobby was working towards Castro's overthrow and had close associations with some Cuban exiles. Though I think Ultimate Sacrifice goes too far in denying CIA leadership in the assassination and saying the mob dunnit. I'm not at all sure I totally buy the idea that Bobby was essentially framed by the CIA in advance so his knowledge of Oswald's proximity to the murder would be exposed if he exposed the real killers. But it's possible. I just wonder if Mellen used Ultimate Sacrifice or if she has a second source.

I wouldn't rule out fear for his family as a deterrent to investigation. But that really wouldn't explain his supposed active interference with Garrison's investigation.

Joan Mellen did NOT use Ultimate Sacrifice for anything! She has her sources. Read her book. She has new information that also supports her old to be in another book she is working on.

Thank you Peter. Very good to know. Yet another book to read then.

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How the Failure To Identify, Prosecute and Convict President Kennedy's Assassins Has Led To Today's Crisis Of Democracy

by Joan Mellen, author of 'A Farewll to Justice'

Lecture Delivered at the Ethical Culture Society, New York City, January 24, 2006

>...

Excellent article William; thank you for posting it.

I especially appreciate the ties between JFK/Bush and 911/Bush, for the continuity impaired.

I wonder what Mellen's source was for the claims about Bobby Kennedy and why he wouldn't allow investigations of his brother's murder. It's certainly consistent with "Ultimate Sacrifice" in describing how Bobby was working towards Castro's overthrow and had close associations with some Cuban exiles. Though I think Ultimate Sacrifice goes too far in denying CIA leadership in the assassination and saying the mob dunnit. I'm not at all sure I totally buy the idea that Bobby was essentially framed by the CIA in advance so his knowledge of Oswald's proximity to the murder would be exposed if he exposed the real killers. But it's possible. I just wonder if Mellen used Ultimate Sacrifice or if she has a second source.

I wouldn't rule out fear for his family as a deterrent to investigation. But that really wouldn't explain his supposed active interference with Garrison's investigation.

Joan Mellen did NOT use Ultimate Sacrifice for anything! She has her sources. Read her book. She has new information that also supports her old to be in another book she is working on.

Thank you Peter. Very good to know. Yet another book to read then.

I agree with Jim DiEugenio on this. Joan does include some useful information in the book, for example, her naming of Don Bohning as a CIA asset. However, it is a mess of a book. It is not a case of her adopting a "complex" style, it is a result of a lack of control over the material. Unfortunately, she was not up to speed about the research into the assassination. This would not have been fatal if she had been willing to ask for help. Instead, she rejected most of the advice she received. I, like many others, warned her about Gerry Hemming's disinformation activities. She was told before the book was published that Angelo Murgado's story about the visit to Sylvia Odio's apartment was untrue. Not only did she go with this story, she made it the focal point of her book. Therefore, it became easy to descredit her after the book was published.

Myra, if you want to read the best book about the JFK assassination available at the moment, read Michael L. Kurtz's book, The JFK Assassination Debates, that was published earlier this month. You also need to get a copy of Larry Hancock's Someone Would Have Talked that will be published later this month.

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How the Failure To Identify, Prosecute and Convict President Kennedy's Assassins Has Led To Today's Crisis Of Democracy

by Joan Mellen, author of 'A Farewll to Justice'

Lecture Delivered at the Ethical Culture Society, New York City, January 24, 2006

The last time I was in this room was for the memorial service of a distinguished American author, J. Anthony Lukas, who wrote "Common Ground," about race and class in Boston. During the course of his career, Tony came into conflict with an institution that I will discuss this evening, "The New York Times."

"A Farewell To Justice" is about the Kennedy assassination. It opens as a biography of Jim Garrison, district attorney of Orleans Parish, Louisiana, who remains the only public official ever to have brought anyone before the bar of justice for participation in the conspiracy to murder President Kennedy. Garrison assumed that role when he discovered that the person framed for the crime, a low-level intelligence agent named Lee Harvey Oswald, resided in his jurisdiction between April and September of 1963. The Biblical metaphor is inevitable: that great harlot city New Orleans, destroyed by flood, with, among its many sins, incubating the Kennedy assassination.

After his suspect Clay Shaw was acquitted, Shaw the man whom the new evidence reveals was a CIA operative guilty of participating in the implementation of the murder of President Kennedy, Garrison was asked how he imagined that he could convict someone of conspiracy in the murder of President Kennedy in a Louisiana state court. Garrison said: "I guess I thought I was living in the country I was born in." He wasn't and we aren't.

I would like to suggest that the truth about the Kennedy assassination, far from being a matter of interest only to historians, and not even to most of them, will help us understand how we have arrived at a point where people as respectable as New York attorney Martin Garbus are comparing the current U.S. government with the rise of fascism in the mid-twentieth century. It's my belief that the present state of our political culture is a direct result of the fact that those responsible for the murder of President Kennedy have never been brought to justice.

To sum up: "A Farewell To Justice" suggests that the clandestine service of the CIA not only covered up the truth about the Kennedy assassination - that's easy to demonstrate from the four million documents now residing at the National Archives - but organized the event itself. That the CIA escaped without penalty, this extraordinary fact, has been integrated over these forty-two years into the body politic. It has produced a political culture where the unthinkable has become accepted practice. Meaningful freedom of the press has fallen into serious jeopardy.

For a flagrant example of what we have come to, we might revisit the scantily reported exchange on December 1st (2005) between Notre Dame professor Doug Cassel and John Yoo, a former deputy assistant to Attorney General John Ashcroft, a participant in the writing of the Patriot Act, and now a Berkeley law professor.

The subject of the debate was the illegal expansion of presidential powers.

Professor Cassel asks, "If the President deems that he's got to torture somebody, including by crushing the testicles of the person's child, there is no law that can stop him?" And Yoo answers, "No treaty."

Cassel follows up: "Also no law by Congress. That is what you wrote in the August 2002 memo." And Yoo replies, "I think it depends on why the President thinks he needs to do that."

If Professor Cassel's hypothetical question seems melodramatic, we have Martin Garbus, alarmed by the twin expansion of Presidential and police powers, writing in the "New York Observer": "This country is approaching a dangerous turning point," and suggesting that the United States today bears some similarities to Weimar Germany where liberal democracy was not able to contend with the fascist onslaught.

In Miami a few weeks ago I was struck by the omnipresence, on the streets and restaurants, of police officers from a variety of law enforcement agencies. Famously, Benjamin Franklin replied to a question of whether this new land should be a monarchy or a republic with the line, "A republic, if you can keep it."

What begins as surveillance moves to wiretapping, then COINTELPRO tricks, and finally to murder - a diagram of what happened to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and why the illegal NSA surveillance is so alarming.

We have not been aided in understanding the meaning of the Kennedy assassination by the continued public silence of those closest to President Kennedy. One day I requested of Wilmer Thomas, one of Jim Garrison's law school classmates (Tulane School of Law, Class of 1949) to ask his acquaintance, Kennedy adviser Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., whom he believed was behind the assassination of President Kennedy. Professor Schlesinger observed, quietly, "We were at war with the National Security people."

That the CIA at its highest levels exacted its revenge on President Kennedy has been an open secret since 1963. A Gallup poll on the 40th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination in 2003 found that twice as many people believed that the CIA was implicated in the assassination as there were who accepted the official fiction that Oswald had acted alone.

In 1963, people were already worried abut the CIA's extraordinary use of its powers. In the "New York Times," Arthur Krock wrote in October 1963 that if ever there would be a coup in the United States, it "would come from the CIA and not the Pentagon." The CIA, Krock wrote, was a "malignancy" on the body politic. It is difficult to imagine such words being printed in the "Times" today, so profoundly has our freedom of the press eroded since the time of the Kennedy assassination.

After the death of President Kennedy, ex-President Harry S. Truman, under whose watch the CIA was created in 1947, wrote on the front page of the "Washington Post," that the CIA had been running a "shadow government," becoming "operational." Brazenly, Allen Dulles at one point even told a reporter to think of the CIA as "the State Department for unfriendly countries." The CIA's policy-making also involved interference in the electoral process in Italy and France, funneling money to certain political parties - in Italy it was the Christian Democrats whom the CIA funded in an effort to prevent a coalition of socialists and Communists from taking power. The assassination of Prime Minister Aldo Moro was connected to that CIA campaign.

At the time of the assassination, Charles de Gaulle remarked that John F. Kennedy, whom he admired, had died as a result of an intra-government conflict, a situation not uncommon in many countries. The documentation available since the passage of the JFK Act in 1992 overwhelmingly supports de Gaulle's view.

The rubber-stamping of the Warren Report by the press in 1964 seems to mark the moment when the mainstream press became "embedded" in official versions of events. Traces of that process have surfaced. In April 1967 the CIA issued a memo (available at the National Archives) instructing friendly reporters on how to reply to challenges to the Warren Report, recommendations that have resurfaced in the past few years in a renewed set of attacks on Jim Garrison, a decade after his death.

So it should come as no surprise that the "New York Times" for a year covered up the National Security Agency domestic surveillance of citizens with rubber-stamped search warrants issued under a "Foreign Intelligence Services Act" (FISA) run by the Pentagon, or with no warrants at all. Only when their own reporter was about to publish a book detailing the evidence did the "Times" run that story. It should be horrifying that the Congressional debate about the Patriot Act has not been over whether there should be such a government capability, but how long it should be extended.

Ponder the "Times'" treatment of Jim Garrison, and later of Oliver Stone, who dared to make a film with Jim Garrison as its central character. When Garrison's first book, "A Heritage of Stone," appeared in 1969, John Leonard gave it a positive review in the daily "Times." In his final paragraph, Leonard recounted a few of Garrison's challenges to the Warren Report.

"Something stinks about this whole affair," Leonard writes. "Why were Kennedy's neck organs not examined at Bethesda for evidence of a frontal shot? Why was his body whisked away to Washington before the legally required Texas inquest? Why?"

By the next edition, Leonard's final paragraph had vanished, a third of a column slid down the memory hole. Leonard's review now closed with these words: "Frankly, I prefer to believe that the Warren Commission did a poor job, rather than a dishonest one. I like to think that Garrison invents monsters to explain incompetence." It was an extraordinary example of management censorship of a book review. To this day, the "Times" tolerates no factual challenges to the Warren Report.

They appear to be the only people who still believe that Lee Harvey Oswald was responsible for the death of President Kennedy. I spoke in Clinton, Louisiana last month, at the oldest working courthouse in the United States, I believe. The judge who introduced me asked the audience how many believed that Lee Harvey Oswald was guilty. Not a single hand went up. That audience knew the Warren Report was nonsensical because it was in East Feliciana Parish, in the hamlets of Clinton and Jackson, that Oswald appeared in the company of Clay Shaw, and a CIA contract pilot named David Ferrie, in the late summer of 1963, three months before the assassination. In the audience were actual witnesses, including the barber who cut Oswald's hair.

That the Warren Report could so flagrantly lie, and present itself as a homicide investigation, while doing virtually no investigation at all - neither Clay Shaw nor David Ferrie were interviewed, inspiring Jim Garrison's quip, "they didn't call anyone who WAS involved" - has resulted in other Presidential Commissions taking similar liberties with the truth.

I wrote an op-ed piece comparing the deliberate ignoring of crucial information by the 9/11 Commission with a similar failure to investigate a key lead by the Warren Commission. It began with the information released by Lieutenant Colonel in Army intelligence Tony Shaffer that the Able Danger intelligence unit had identified Mohammed Atta and other accused hijackers as part of a cell of Al Qaeda operating in the United States at least a year before 9/11. Colonel Shaffer had wanted this information to go immediately to the FBI only for Defense Department lawyers to forbid Able Danger from contacting the Bureau.

The "New York Times" buried this extraordinary information two-thirds of the way into the paper. The "Washington Post" ran a Pentagon denial.

"Information has to get out, and I think we have to account for why some of these things weren't looked at as part of the overall report," Colonel Shaffer said on NPR.

Shaffer then revealed something else: he had presented the findings of the Able Danger team to Philip Zelikow, that same executive staff director of the 9/11 Commission who has defended the recent attacks on Jim Garrison as a dupe of the KGB! Zelikow saw to it that the Able Danger information never appeared in the 9/11 Commission Report, and went on to deny that he was given the information. He now works on the staff of Condeleeza Rice.

One might ask: could Zelikow and company have gotten away with denying the reality of a cover-up of vital information about 9/11 if we had demanded the truth from the Warren Commission? I sent my Op Ed piece, "9/11 and 11/22," to 34 newspapers. Only one would print it, the "Key West Citizen."

What has all this to do with the Kennedy assassination per se? I'm suggesting that demanding the truth about the Kennedy assassination, even at this late date, is a step toward restoring our basic freedoms. The discourse needs to go even further than point to who planned and implemented the crime. Was the CIA acting alone on its own behalf? Whose interests did the Agency serve in 1963 - because the CIA eviscerated by George W. Bush was a very different institution from the Agency that waged war against President Kennedy?

The discussion of who rules America might begin with President Eisenhower's heroic warning against a military-industrial (and we need, of course, to add national security) complex. "We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes," President Eisenhower added. He cut the military budget as soon as he took office; he didn't believe the U.S. should be a militarized nation. The CIA, the research reveals, sabotaged President Eisenhower's effort to achieve détente with the Soviets in the final year of his presidency through the downing of Francis Gary Powers' U-2 overflight into the Soviet Union. President Eisenhower had a good definition of "National Security." He said "national security" meant that the country was proceeding in peace and without a deficit.

Jim Garrison often asked during his investigation: Cui Bono? Who benefits? A friend of mine living near "Langley Forks" in Virginia pointed out to me some interesting connections. The Texas School Book Depository, from which some, but not all, of the shots were fired on November 22, 1963, was owned by one D. H. Byrd. Byrd also founded and was the commander of the Southwest post of the Civil Air Patrol, which included Louisiana and the troop led by David Ferrie, among whose cadets was Lee Harvey Oswald.

In November, 1963, one of Byrd's companies, LTV, a major defense contractor, was almost bankrupt. Defense contracts flowing from the Vietnam War changed that, and by 1968 the stock had increased geometrically in value. Meanwhile we know that President Kennedy opposed vehemently a protracted ground war, and that as soon as he was dead, Lyndon Johnson dispatched thousands of troops to Vietnam.

Among Byrd's associates was a man named Neil Mallon, the skull and bones classmate of Prescott Bush. Mallon headed a company called Dresser Industries, and it was Dresser that sent George H. W. Bush, his friend Prescott's son, west to Texas in 1949. It was for Mallon that the first President Bush named one of his sons. Mallon built Byrd's barite plant in Mexico, barite a product involved in oil drilling.

Dresser Industries was bought by Halliburton in 1998, and at that time the Kellogg subsidiary of Dresser became part of Brown and Root. Brown and Root itself had been bought by Halliburton in 1962. It is less well known that Brown and Root profited not only from the war in Iraq, but first from Vietnam. Having recognized the role of Brown and Root, and discovering that George Brown was a CIA asset (as the CIA's own released documents confirm), Jim Garrison hoped to investigate Brown's role.

Was the CIA acting on behalf of President Eisenhower's military-industrial complex? As a matter for further research, the intelligence connections of the Bushes date from before the very founding of the CIA: the Agency's mandate was outlined in 1946 by Robert A. Lovett, who was a partner of Prescott Bush at Brown Brothers Harriman.

Not least, as readers of the "Nation" magazine know, after the Kennedy assassination, the FBI was enlisted to brief CIA asset George Bush, THE George Bush, and not a low-level man in the Agency by the same name, as was at first claimed, on the reaction of the Miami anti-Castro community to the event.

To the general observation that the CIA represented the interests of the oil-defense industries, and the Pentagon, must be added another motive for the involvement of the CIA in the assassination. Almost from the moment Kennedy took office, a conflict raged between the President and the CIA. Once Kennedy refused to be blackmailed by the CIA into a full-scale invasion of Cuba at the time of the Bay of Pigs, de Gaulle's "intra-administration war" erupted. The clandestine service of the CIA pushed for an invasion of Cuba. President Kennedy declined, and went on to fire the Director of Central Intelligence, Allen Dulles, who re-emerges as the central figure at the Warren Commission.

Throughout Kennedy's brief presidency, the CIA treated him as an enemy. They withheld information, which included details about the Soviet missiles in Cuba. Also concealed from President Kennedy were the CIA's continuing assassinations and attempted assassinations of foreign leaders.

John F. Kennedy, in turn, sought to reign in the CIA, and to limit the scope of its activities, including reducing the powers of the Director of Central Intelligence. He intended to transfer the overflight U-2 program from the CIA to the Strategic Air Command. He intended to cut the CIA budget. He sent, I discovered, Richard Goodwin down to No-Name Key to ask the Soldiers of Fortune training there to take over Radio Swan, the CIA radio station, on behalf of the President. They declined. Kennedy threatened the existence of the Agency as they knew themselves.

Richard Reeves, in his very honest biography of John F. Kennedy, quotes the President repeating over and over again: "I've got to do something about those CIA bastards," and "Those CIA bastards. I'm going to get those bastards if it's the last thing I ever do." It was the persistent refrain of the Kennedy presidency.

The current President has also had his conflicts with the CIA. He, however, has espoused the very policy favored by the CIA under President Kennedy, the relentless pursuit of foreign wars. To achieve his end, that war in Iraq, no matter what lie he had to tell to implement it, George W. Bush had to do what Kennedy knew he had to do as well: eviscerate the CIA. So the disinformation was spread that the CIA had fallen down on the job.

In fact, the CIA had reported accurately about the situation in Iraq, and this before the Iraq War. CIA noted that an invasion of Iraq was likely to lead to civil war; the CIA reported that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Rather than give up his war, the President undercut the CIA.

Then Bush attempted to subvert the CIA further by claiming that the CIA had endorsed what it had not, but which fit his projected policy. He claimed that the CIA had told him first that there WERE weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Then he said CIA had been wrong. Neither claim was true. The outcome was the subordination of the clandestine services, and of the Agency itself, so that the CIA director no longer enjoys a daily briefing with the President, and is subordinate to a new Director of National Intelligence, whom the President can control.

We should not be surprised that the National Security Agency, empowered only to spy on foreign agents abroad, is spying on US instead. Research into the Kennedy assassination reveals that although the CIA was supposedly created to deal with foreign threats, the CIA operated together with the FBI in the cover-up of the Kennedy assassination. Documents reveal that this mutual cooperation dates from the moment of the founding of the CIA. In Louisiana, the sabotage of Garrison's investigation was led by the CIA, operating beyond its mandate, domestically.

Let me return to some details of what Jim Garrison accomplished. As Garrison once quipped about the supposed "lone assassin," Lee Harvey Oswald, in fact, Oswald was virtually NEVER alone. Moreover, he was not involved with anyone who was NOT connected to the CIA. Oswald was an FBI informant, Garrison learned from Louisiana representative Hale Boggs, a member of the Warren Commission, defying Allen Dulles' demand that everyone be silent about this fact. It was this single piece of information that in 1965 led Jim Garrison to resume his investigation begun in 1963.

I discovered a conversation that Garrison did not know about. At the First District police station, where Oswald was taken after he was arrested for a disturbance when he was handing out his pro-Castro leaflets, he requested of Lieutenant Francis Martello of the New Orleans police that Martello call the FBI field office. "Call the FBI," Oswald ordered Martello imperiously. "Tell them you have Lee Oswald in custody." Oswald asked that Special Agent Warren de Brueys come down to see him. Obviously, Oswald was someone the New Orleans field office of the FBI knew well.

The Agent on duty that night, John Quigley, then asked a young clerk named William Walter, the person who took Martello's call, to check all the files, locked and unlocked, for what they had on Oswald. On one file jacket, in the locked filing cabinet of the Special Agent in Charge, where security files were kept, were two names, Lee Oswald and Warren de Brueys. To this day, Mr. de Brueys denies that he ever knew Oswald. I called him just before my book was published on the pretext of spelling his name correctly: was that a capital "d" or not? Mr. de Brueys amazed me by remarking, after forty years you wouldn't be a very intelligent person if you didn't change your mind about things. This statement might not hold up in court, but I accepted it as a confession for history.

Oswald had also been part of the CIA Counter Intelligence false defector program. Oswald, I found new evidence to show, worked also for U.S. Customs in New Orleans, as many CIA people worked for Customs. One Customs officer told the Church Committee, "I've waited ten years for someone to talk to me" regarding what he knew about Oswald.

Garrison began by exploring Oswald's government connections. He indicted Clay Shaw for participating in the conspiracy, without having access to the government records released under that JFK Act, an extraordinary development we're not likely to witness again any time soon, records that establish that Shaw was a CIA operative.

By shepherding Oswald around Louisiana, Shaw was repaying the CIA for considerable favors rendered. Because Shaw was acquitted, Jim Garrison chose as the title of his third book, "A Farewell to Justice." He never used that title, and so I appropriated it. Lillian Hellman taught a course to writing students at Harvard called "Stealing." It was bad to imitate, but fine to "steal" from authors you admired, so long as you made their strategies your own. Garrison's ambition was to be an author. He was no stranger to Shakespeare, nor to novelists like Graham Greene, and of course Hemingway.

Part of my book includes how federal agencies worked actively to thwart Garrison's investigation. Garrison was astonished that the FBI refused to cooperate with New Orleans law enforcement in an investigation of the Kennedy assassination. In fact, FBI director J. Edgar Hoover subverted Garrison's effort. Witnesses came forward to the FBI, believing that in providing the FBI with information, they were simultaneously reaching the district attorney.

"Give Garrison nothing!" Hoover wrote to all special agents in charge, adding, in reference to the Special Agent in Charge in New Orleans, Robert Rightmyer: "Tell Rightmyer that I want him and all personnel in New Orleans to keep their mouths shut!" This was February 1967, a week after Jim Garrison's investigation became public.

Bobby Kennedy's right-hand man, Walter Sheridan, had spearheaded the blackmail, bribery and wiretapping that accomplished the conviction of Jimmy Hoffa. The evidence of Walter Sheridan's illegalities in the railroading of Jimmy Hoffa is chronicled in Fred Cook's three part series in the "Nation" magazine. A further irony is that Chief Justice Earl Warren, enlisted by Lyndon Johnson to rubber-stamp the preordained conclusion that Oswald murdered President Kennedy, wrote what seems to me to be a brilliant dissent when the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the Hoffa conviction.

Bobby Kennedy then sent Sheridan to New Orleans, as Sheridan freely admitted, to "destroy" Jim Garrison. That same National Security Agency spying on American citizens today spawned Walter Sheridan, who was also cleared for service with the FBI and CIA. Sheridan personally telephoned the governors of several states to ensure that Garrison's subpoenaed witnesses not be extradited back to the state of Louisiana. Not a single witness was returned to New Orleans.

In the recent attacks on Jim Garrison may be found the preposterous notion that the only reason Garrison focused on the CIA was that he was the victim of KGB propaganda flowing from an Italian newspaper, "Paese Sera." This total falsehood has been defended by Philip Zelikow, the executive director of the 9/11 Commission. One of the half-dozen anti-Garrison articles appeared, not surprisingly, on the CIA's own web site, "Studies in Intelligence."

As a biographer, among the questions I asked was: did Jim Garrison take bribes from executives profiting from pinball machine gambling (then illegal in Orleans Parish), for which he was charged by the federal government? Was Jim Garrison dishonest? The new documents reveal that after Shaw's acquittal, after he perjured himself, and suborned perjury, Garrison was ready to continue his investigation, only for that same operative, Walter Sheridan, to return to New Orleans and blackmail Garrison's friend and former chief investigator, Pershing Gervais.

Would Gervais not help them to nail Garrison for taking bribes from pinball gambling interests, Gervais would go to jail for eight years (the document is that specific) for income tax fraud. So we see in this story, the mutual cooperation of agencies: the FBI helping the CIA, the IRS enlisted by the National Security Agency and the CIA. Years later, on the occasion of Oliver Stone's film, "JFK," Anthony Lewis wrote in the "New York Times" that Garrison had taken bribes. In fact, Garrison had been acquitted. The bribes were indeed going to a "big man" at Tulane and Broad, but it was not six foot six inch Jim Garrison, but Chief of Police, Joseph Giarrusso.

Addressing a frequent attempt to discredit Jim Garrison, I also had to ask: was Garrison tied to the Mafia? Did he blame the CIA for the assassination as a way of protecting the Mafia? I learned that Carlos Marcello, the Mafia chieftain of Louisiana and Texas, despised Garrison and wanted him out of office. Garrison was "unreliable," Marcello complained to Governor John J. McKeithen, whose assistant, John Tarver, relayed this to me. (McKeithen himself did take bribes from Marcello by the way. John R. Rarick ran against McKeithen in 1968 and the Marcello people talked to Rarick's campaign manager, who refused a $50,000 contribution from Marcello. Marcello's man was incredulous. "Big John took his," he said).

The final chapter of my book, entitled "Rabbi," reflects my interviews with a person who was involved in setting up the assassination, a man named Thomas Edward Beckham. It describes his CIA training at a facility in Virginia. Beckham presented me with a government document which describes him as a man who would feel no guilt about killing. This phrase matches in language documents released by the Church Committee describing the assassins hired by the CIA in their assassination attempts against foreign leaders: Lumumba, Trujillo, Diem, and, of course, Fidel Castro.

Beckham had been subjected to a polygraph by the New Orleans police in the late 1970s: when Robert Blakey and Gary Cornwell, who headed the House Select Committee on Assassinations, discovered this, the Louisiana investigators were suspended for conducting a polygraph without authorization. The CIA controlled that investigation as it did the Warren Commission. My favorite anecdote concerns the moment when former Justice Arthur Goldberg was asked to head the Committee after Philadelphia prosecutor Richard A. Sprague was fired. Knowing that the CIA held the truth about the assassination, Goldberg telephoned the Director of Central Intelligence, Stansfield Turner, and asked whether, should he take the job, he would be given full CIA cooperation. His question was met by silence.

Goldberg persisted. He posed his question again. Only then did Turner reply, "I thought my silence was my answer." Goldberg did not take the job.

My final question came at my last interview, in Miami in June of 2005. It was one that also perplexed Jim Garrison: why did Bobby Kennedy try to sabotage his investigation? I interviewed a Cuban close to Robert Kennedy, who revealed that Robert Kennedy had Oswald under surveillance in New Orleans during the summer of 1963.

Like Professor Schlesinger, Robert Kennedy looked first to the CIA for responsibility in the murder of his brother. On the day of the assassination, Bobby confronted John McCone, the Director of Central Intelligence, with this question: "Did the CIA kill my brother?" He told Harry Ruiz Williams, one of the Cubans working for him, confirming his prior awareness of Oswald, "One of your guys did it!" and it was not a question, but a statement.

Wanting to be certain, Bobby sent that same Walter Sheridan to Dallas to find out if the Mafia had planned the crime. They had not. Bobby also asked a Mafia-connected Chicago lawyer, Julius Draznin, who worked for the NLRB, the same question. The answer, as Draznin reported to Walter Sheridan, was that the assassination was not a Mafia hit. Years later, Sheridan would testify under oath that the Mafia was behind the assassination!

It was in the circles of the anti-Castro movement that Bobby Kennedy directed his attention, his aim to protect the life of his brother from some Cuban still furious about the Bay of Pigs. His other aim was to "neutralize" Fidel Castro. Since the Church Committee hearings, newspapers have reported on Operation MONGOOSE, the CIA-Mafia plots to assassinate Fidel Castro. Bobby Kennedy's separate efforts have been less widely publicized.

It was in this Miami research that I discovered my parallel between the cover-up by the 9/11 Commission of the Able Danger information and a similar set of facts that faced the Warren Commission in its closing days. It reveals information that bears upon why Robert F. Kennedy was nervous about Jim Garrison's investigation, and about any investigation of his brother's death. This began at the Bethesda autopsy; one of the doctors, Pierre Finck, testified for the defense in New Orleans at State of Louisiana v. Clay Shaw that the Kennedy family had requested that the trajectory of the President's wounds not be examined.

"If my brother were killed," Garrison said, "I would be interested in getting the individuals involved, no matter who they were." Garrison made this statement on national television, exasperated by the persistent question by news people: if you're on the right track, why isn't Bobby Kennedy helping you?"

Late in its deliberations, the Warren Commission discovered that Lee Harvey Oswald had visited a Cuban exile and former law student named Sylvia Odio in Dallas in late September 1963. During the weekend of the assassination, Mrs. Odio and her sister Annie both at once identified Oswald as the man who had visited her in the presence of two Cubans, whom Sylvia has yet to identify.

Mrs. Odio testified before the Warren Commission. She said that the day after that visit, one of the Cubans had telephoned her and in the course of the conversation remarked that "Leon Oswald" had said, "President Kennedy should have been assassinated after the Bay of Pigs and some Cubans should have done thatit's so easy to do it," indicating both foreknowledge of the assassination and that Oswald was being set up. The Warren Commission never adequately investigated this information - they certainly didn't call "Leopoldo," just as the 9/11 Commission didn't feel obliged to investigate the Able Danger documents.

The Warren Commission's chief counsel, J. Lee Rankin, expressed irritation at the very suggestion that Sylvia Odio's story should be fully investigated, muttering, "we are supposed to be closing doors, not opening them." Years later, Rankin was bitter that the FBI and CIA had concealed vital information from the Warren Commission. Deposed in the late 1970s by the House Select Committee on Assassinations, Rankin admitted that he regretted that he had taken the CIA's word that Oswald "was never a CIA agent."

Invited to ask if he had anything further to say, Rankin had a question for the lawyers and committee members in the room. Was the HSCA investigating whether the people involved in the CIA cover-up were involved in the assassination as well? He received the identical response Arthur Goldberg had: silence.

The Warren Commission lacked a context in which to evaluate the incident of Oswald visiting Sylvia Odio because the FBI and CIA both, on the instruction of Chief of Counter Intelligence James Angleton concealed the CIA's history of attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro, now a matter of public record.

In my pursuit of the question of why Bobby Kennedy tried to sabotage Jim Garrison's investigation - Garrison used the word "torpedo" - I studied the minutes of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board and the Church Committee papers (the 25 per cent that are open to the public). I tried to interview Cubans who worked closely with the Attorney General. This is some of what I discovered.

Bobby Kennedy had assembled a team of anti-Castro Cubans. One, Manolo Reboso, is now living in Nicaragua, having married into the wealthy Somoza family. Another, Manuel Artime, is dead. But I did locate a man named Angelo Murgado, a man so devoted to the Kennedys that, at his citizenship hearing, he changed his name from "Murgado" to "Kennedy" in homage to a person whom he admired, Bobby Kennedy.

Angelo told me that Bobby's instructions to his special team were twofold. One aim was to find a means of getting rid of Fidel Castro. Bobby's other aim was to protect his brother. He sent these Cubans to New Orleans. Moving among, as Angelo put it, "Castro's agents, double agents, and Cubans working for the CIA," they hoped to "neutralize" a future assassin. You can deduce what he meant by "neutralize."

In New Orleans, Angelo Murgado ran into Lee Harvey Oswald, who was moving among the anti-Castro community. He put Oswald under surveillance. When I mentioned that I had discovered Oswald's acquaintance with an anti-Castro Cuban named Juan Valdes, who worked at Clay Shaw's International Trade Mart, Angelo was dubious. How could that be? He knew everyone Oswald was acquainted with, and he didn't know of this man. That's how close to Oswald they drew.

Scrutinizing Oswald, and reporting back to Bobby, his team discovered that Oswald was an informant for the FBI. Learning this, Bobby reasoned, "If the FBI is controlling him, he's no problem." Bobby underestimated the role Oswald had been induced to play in the plans to murder of his brother and ceased to make him a major target of his concern. Bobby knew "something was cooking in New Orleans," Angelo Murgado told me. But Bobby urged "caution." He was out of his depth.

In September, it was Angelo and a fellow veteran of the Bay of Pigs who traveled from New Orleans to Dallas to visit Sylvia Odio. Angelo believed they were there to marshal help for their anti-Castro efforts, and talked about buying arms to support an anti-Castro movement within Cuba. Mrs. Odio's father, in jail in Cuba, headed a liberal organization called JURE, its position, "Fidelismo sin Fidel." Angelo believed he could trust his companion, referred to in the Warren Report as "Leopoldo," because not only was he a fellow veteran of the Bay of Pigs, but his brother was running for Mayor of Miami. He was respectable.

The next day, out of Angelo's hearing, "Leopoldo" phoned Mrs. Odio to tell her how "Leon" Oswald had talked about the need to murder President Kennedy. "Leon is kind of nuts," Leopoldo stated, setting up Oswald as the patsy. Oswald's mental imbalance forms the conclusion of the Warren Report, and Oswald was called "Leon" a number of times, not least at a gathering at David Ferrie's apartment where Clay Shaw and Ferrie, Garrison's chief suspects, discussed what their alibis would be for November 22nd. At Sylvia Odio's, Angelo used his true given name. "Leopoldo" was an alias.

Placing Oswald in the company of so close an associate of Bobby Kennedy, in an incident that points to foreknowledge of the assassination as well as the framing of Oswald, created the trap that would silence Bobby forever. Bobby asked his aide, Frank Mankiewicz whether "any of our people were involved," and, Mankiewicz told me, he had asked himself, did you think there might be?

Angelo, meanwhile, had been betrayed by a companion he believed he could trust, a man not so much assigned to the overthrow of Fidel Castro, as Angelo believed, as he was enlisted to arrange for Oswald to be blamed for the murder of the President.

"Leopoldo" was a Cuban named Bernardo de Torres. A virtual flood of documents reveals that he was an asset of both the CIA and military intelligence. When he was subpoenaed before the House Select Committee, CIA arrived on the day he was deposed to insist that de Torres be granted immunity. The CIA so totally controlled that Committee that they agreed to the CIA demand that de Torres not be questioned about the period of time leading up to the Kennedy assassination. Both the Warren Commission and the HSCA buried what they knew about Oswald's participation in ANTI-Castro activities, information that would have led directly to the role of the CIA in the assassination.

I believe that we are now suffering the consequences of allowing lies about what happened to President Kennedy to remain unchallenged. The consequence of the public not demanding that the murder of the head of state be properly investigated has led directly to the current undermining of the integrity of our democratic institutions, not least the press. An obvious consequence of the obfuscations of the Warren Commission and the House Select Committee both has been the ease with which the 9/11 Commission was able to conceal important truths.

I wrote my book to make a small contribution to the need for government accountability and openness because what is at stake, to be a bit grandiose, is democracy itself.

I'll close with a line by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., from a sermon a year before his death: "No lie can forever."

Bill thanks for posting this.

I was at Joan's talk that night. What struck me as a middle aged social studies teacher was GOOD ATTENDANCE. The joint was ecumenically packed! It was a cold weekday night in january, and WITH ALMOST NO AD BUDGET, AND WITH A NO NAME PUBLISHER THE TOPIC OF THE KENNEDY ASSASSINATION AND THE CIA WAS ABLE TO PACK A THREE THOUSAND SEAT AUDITORIUM TO THE BRIM. This showed me that curiosity bellow the radar is quite alive, and the radar itself -- i.e. media disinformation-- might be the enemy.

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How the Failure To Identify, Prosecute and Convict President Kennedy's Assassins Has Led To Today's Crisis Of Democracy

by Joan Mellen, author of 'A Farewll to Justice'

Lecture Delivered at the Ethical Culture Society, New York City, January 24, 2006

The last time I was in this room was for the memorial service of a distinguished American author, J. Anthony Lukas, who wrote "Common Ground," about race and class in Boston. During the course of his career, Tony came into conflict with an institution that I will discuss this evening, "The New York Times."

"A Farewell To Justice" is about the Kennedy assassination. It opens as a biography of Jim Garrison, district attorney of Orleans Parish, Louisiana, who remains the only public official ever to have brought anyone before the bar of justice for participation in the conspiracy to murder President Kennedy. Garrison assumed that role when he discovered that the person framed for the crime, a low-level intelligence agent named Lee Harvey Oswald, resided in his jurisdiction between April and September of 1963. The Biblical metaphor is inevitable: that great harlot city New Orleans, destroyed by flood, with, among its many sins, incubating the Kennedy assassination.

After his suspect Clay Shaw was acquitted, Shaw the man whom the new evidence reveals was a CIA operative guilty of participating in the implementation of the murder of President Kennedy, Garrison was asked how he imagined that he could convict someone of conspiracy in the murder of President Kennedy in a Louisiana state court. Garrison said: "I guess I thought I was living in the country I was born in." He wasn't and we aren't.

I would like to suggest that the truth about the Kennedy assassination, far from being a matter of interest only to historians, and not even to most of them, will help us understand how we have arrived at a point where people as respectable as New York attorney Martin Garbus are comparing the current U.S. government with the rise of fascism in the mid-twentieth century. It's my belief that the present state of our political culture is a direct result of the fact that those responsible for the murder of President Kennedy have never been brought to justice.

To sum up: "A Farewell To Justice" suggests that the clandestine service of the CIA not only covered up the truth about the Kennedy assassination - that's easy to demonstrate from the four million documents now residing at the National Archives - but organized the event itself. That the CIA escaped without penalty, this extraordinary fact, has been integrated over these forty-two years into the body politic. It has produced a political culture where the unthinkable has become accepted practice. Meaningful freedom of the press has fallen into serious jeopardy.

For a flagrant example of what we have come to, we might revisit the scantily reported exchange on December 1st (2005) between Notre Dame professor Doug Cassel and John Yoo, a former deputy assistant to Attorney General John Ashcroft, a participant in the writing of the Patriot Act, and now a Berkeley law professor.

The subject of the debate was the illegal expansion of presidential powers.

Professor Cassel asks, "If the President deems that he's got to torture somebody, including by crushing the testicles of the person's child, there is no law that can stop him?" And Yoo answers, "No treaty."

Cassel follows up: "Also no law by Congress. That is what you wrote in the August 2002 memo." And Yoo replies, "I think it depends on why the President thinks he needs to do that."

If Professor Cassel's hypothetical question seems melodramatic, we have Martin Garbus, alarmed by the twin expansion of Presidential and police powers, writing in the "New York Observer": "This country is approaching a dangerous turning point," and suggesting that the United States today bears some similarities to Weimar Germany where liberal democracy was not able to contend with the fascist onslaught.

In Miami a few weeks ago I was struck by the omnipresence, on the streets and restaurants, of police officers from a variety of law enforcement agencies. Famously, Benjamin Franklin replied to a question of whether this new land should be a monarchy or a republic with the line, "A republic, if you can keep it."

What begins as surveillance moves to wiretapping, then COINTELPRO tricks, and finally to murder - a diagram of what happened to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and why the illegal NSA surveillance is so alarming.

We have not been aided in understanding the meaning of the Kennedy assassination by the continued public silence of those closest to President Kennedy. One day I requested of Wilmer Thomas, one of Jim Garrison's law school classmates (Tulane School of Law, Class of 1949) to ask his acquaintance, Kennedy adviser Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., whom he believed was behind the assassination of President Kennedy. Professor Schlesinger observed, quietly, "We were at war with the National Security people."

That the CIA at its highest levels exacted its revenge on President Kennedy has been an open secret since 1963. A Gallup poll on the 40th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination in 2003 found that twice as many people believed that the CIA was implicated in the assassination as there were who accepted the official fiction that Oswald had acted alone.

In 1963, people were already worried abut the CIA's extraordinary use of its powers. In the "New York Times," Arthur Krock wrote in October 1963 that if ever there would be a coup in the United States, it "would come from the CIA and not the Pentagon." The CIA, Krock wrote, was a "malignancy" on the body politic. It is difficult to imagine such words being printed in the "Times" today, so profoundly has our freedom of the press eroded since the time of the Kennedy assassination.

After the death of President Kennedy, ex-President Harry S. Truman, under whose watch the CIA was created in 1947, wrote on the front page of the "Washington Post," that the CIA had been running a "shadow government," becoming "operational." Brazenly, Allen Dulles at one point even told a reporter to think of the CIA as "the State Department for unfriendly countries." The CIA's policy-making also involved interference in the electoral process in Italy and France, funneling money to certain political parties - in Italy it was the Christian Democrats whom the CIA funded in an effort to prevent a coalition of socialists and Communists from taking power. The assassination of Prime Minister Aldo Moro was connected to that CIA campaign.

At the time of the assassination, Charles de Gaulle remarked that John F. Kennedy, whom he admired, had died as a result of an intra-government conflict, a situation not uncommon in many countries. The documentation available since the passage of the JFK Act in 1992 overwhelmingly supports de Gaulle's view.

The rubber-stamping of the Warren Report by the press in 1964 seems to mark the moment when the mainstream press became "embedded" in official versions of events. Traces of that process have surfaced. In April 1967 the CIA issued a memo (available at the National Archives) instructing friendly reporters on how to reply to challenges to the Warren Report, recommendations that have resurfaced in the past few years in a renewed set of attacks on Jim Garrison, a decade after his death.

So it should come as no surprise that the "New York Times" for a year covered up the National Security Agency domestic surveillance of citizens with rubber-stamped search warrants issued under a "Foreign Intelligence Services Act" (FISA) run by the Pentagon, or with no warrants at all. Only when their own reporter was about to publish a book detailing the evidence did the "Times" run that story. It should be horrifying that the Congressional debate about the Patriot Act has not been over whether there should be such a government capability, but how long it should be extended.

Ponder the "Times'" treatment of Jim Garrison, and later of Oliver Stone, who dared to make a film with Jim Garrison as its central character. When Garrison's first book, "A Heritage of Stone," appeared in 1969, John Leonard gave it a positive review in the daily "Times." In his final paragraph, Leonard recounted a few of Garrison's challenges to the Warren Report.

"Something stinks about this whole affair," Leonard writes. "Why were Kennedy's neck organs not examined at Bethesda for evidence of a frontal shot? Why was his body whisked away to Washington before the legally required Texas inquest? Why?"

By the next edition, Leonard's final paragraph had vanished, a third of a column slid down the memory hole. Leonard's review now closed with these words: "Frankly, I prefer to believe that the Warren Commission did a poor job, rather than a dishonest one. I like to think that Garrison invents monsters to explain incompetence." It was an extraordinary example of management censorship of a book review. To this day, the "Times" tolerates no factual challenges to the Warren Report.

They appear to be the only people who still believe that Lee Harvey Oswald was responsible for the death of President Kennedy. I spoke in Clinton, Louisiana last month, at the oldest working courthouse in the United States, I believe. The judge who introduced me asked the audience how many believed that Lee Harvey Oswald was guilty. Not a single hand went up. That audience knew the Warren Report was nonsensical because it was in East Feliciana Parish, in the hamlets of Clinton and Jackson, that Oswald appeared in the company of Clay Shaw, and a CIA contract pilot named David Ferrie, in the late summer of 1963, three months before the assassination. In the audience were actual witnesses, including the barber who cut Oswald's hair.

That the Warren Report could so flagrantly lie, and present itself as a homicide investigation, while doing virtually no investigation at all - neither Clay Shaw nor David Ferrie were interviewed, inspiring Jim Garrison's quip, "they didn't call anyone who WAS involved" - has resulted in other Presidential Commissions taking similar liberties with the truth.

I wrote an op-ed piece comparing the deliberate ignoring of crucial information by the 9/11 Commission with a similar failure to investigate a key lead by the Warren Commission. It began with the information released by Lieutenant Colonel in Army intelligence Tony Shaffer that the Able Danger intelligence unit had identified Mohammed Atta and other accused hijackers as part of a cell of Al Qaeda operating in the United States at least a year before 9/11. Colonel Shaffer had wanted this information to go immediately to the FBI only for Defense Department lawyers to forbid Able Danger from contacting the Bureau.

The "New York Times" buried this extraordinary information two-thirds of the way into the paper. The "Washington Post" ran a Pentagon denial.

"Information has to get out, and I think we have to account for why some of these things weren't looked at as part of the overall report," Colonel Shaffer said on NPR.

Shaffer then revealed something else: he had presented the findings of the Able Danger team to Philip Zelikow, that same executive staff director of the 9/11 Commission who has defended the recent attacks on Jim Garrison as a dupe of the KGB! Zelikow saw to it that the Able Danger information never appeared in the 9/11 Commission Report, and went on to deny that he was given the information. He now works on the staff of Condeleeza Rice.

One might ask: could Zelikow and company have gotten away with denying the reality of a cover-up of vital information about 9/11 if we had demanded the truth from the Warren Commission? I sent my Op Ed piece, "9/11 and 11/22," to 34 newspapers. Only one would print it, the "Key West Citizen."

What has all this to do with the Kennedy assassination per se? I'm suggesting that demanding the truth about the Kennedy assassination, even at this late date, is a step toward restoring our basic freedoms. The discourse needs to go even further than point to who planned and implemented the crime. Was the CIA acting alone on its own behalf? Whose interests did the Agency serve in 1963 - because the CIA eviscerated by George W. Bush was a very different institution from the Agency that waged war against President Kennedy?

The discussion of who rules America might begin with President Eisenhower's heroic warning against a military-industrial (and we need, of course, to add national security) complex. "We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes," President Eisenhower added. He cut the military budget as soon as he took office; he didn't believe the U.S. should be a militarized nation. The CIA, the research reveals, sabotaged President Eisenhower's effort to achieve détente with the Soviets in the final year of his presidency through the downing of Francis Gary Powers' U-2 overflight into the Soviet Union. President Eisenhower had a good definition of "National Security." He said "national security" meant that the country was proceeding in peace and without a deficit.

Jim Garrison often asked during his investigation: Cui Bono? Who benefits? A friend of mine living near "Langley Forks" in Virginia pointed out to me some interesting connections. The Texas School Book Depository, from which some, but not all, of the shots were fired on November 22, 1963, was owned by one D. H. Byrd. Byrd also founded and was the commander of the Southwest post of the Civil Air Patrol, which included Louisiana and the troop led by David Ferrie, among whose cadets was Lee Harvey Oswald.

In November, 1963, one of Byrd's companies, LTV, a major defense contractor, was almost bankrupt. Defense contracts flowing from the Vietnam War changed that, and by 1968 the stock had increased geometrically in value. Meanwhile we know that President Kennedy opposed vehemently a protracted ground war, and that as soon as he was dead, Lyndon Johnson dispatched thousands of troops to Vietnam.

Among Byrd's associates was a man named Neil Mallon, the skull and bones classmate of Prescott Bush. Mallon headed a company called Dresser Industries, and it was Dresser that sent George H. W. Bush, his friend Prescott's son, west to Texas in 1949. It was for Mallon that the first President Bush named one of his sons. Mallon built Byrd's barite plant in Mexico, barite a product involved in oil drilling.

Dresser Industries was bought by Halliburton in 1998, and at that time the Kellogg subsidiary of Dresser became part of Brown and Root. Brown and Root itself had been bought by Halliburton in 1962. It is less well known that Brown and Root profited not only from the war in Iraq, but first from Vietnam. Having recognized the role of Brown and Root, and discovering that George Brown was a CIA asset (as the CIA's own released documents confirm), Jim Garrison hoped to investigate Brown's role.

Was the CIA acting on behalf of President Eisenhower's military-industrial complex? As a matter for further research, the intelligence connections of the Bushes date from before the very founding of the CIA: the Agency's mandate was outlined in 1946 by Robert A. Lovett, who was a partner of Prescott Bush at Brown Brothers Harriman.

Not least, as readers of the "Nation" magazine know, after the Kennedy assassination, the FBI was enlisted to brief CIA asset George Bush, THE George Bush, and not a low-level man in the Agency by the same name, as was at first claimed, on the reaction of the Miami anti-Castro community to the event.

To the general observation that the CIA represented the interests of the oil-defense industries, and the Pentagon, must be added another motive for the involvement of the CIA in the assassination. Almost from the moment Kennedy took office, a conflict raged between the President and the CIA. Once Kennedy refused to be blackmailed by the CIA into a full-scale invasion of Cuba at the time of the Bay of Pigs, de Gaulle's "intra-administration war" erupted. The clandestine service of the CIA pushed for an invasion of Cuba. President Kennedy declined, and went on to fire the Director of Central Intelligence, Allen Dulles, who re-emerges as the central figure at the Warren Commission.

Throughout Kennedy's brief presidency, the CIA treated him as an enemy. They withheld information, which included details about the Soviet missiles in Cuba. Also concealed from President Kennedy were the CIA's continuing assassinations and attempted assassinations of foreign leaders.

John F. Kennedy, in turn, sought to reign in the CIA, and to limit the scope of its activities, including reducing the powers of the Director of Central Intelligence. He intended to transfer the overflight U-2 program from the CIA to the Strategic Air Command. He intended to cut the CIA budget. He sent, I discovered, Richard Goodwin down to No-Name Key to ask the Soldiers of Fortune training there to take over Radio Swan, the CIA radio station, on behalf of the President. They declined. Kennedy threatened the existence of the Agency as they knew themselves.

Richard Reeves, in his very honest biography of John F. Kennedy, quotes the President repeating over and over again: "I've got to do something about those CIA bastards," and "Those CIA bastards. I'm going to get those bastards if it's the last thing I ever do." It was the persistent refrain of the Kennedy presidency.

The current President has also had his conflicts with the CIA. He, however, has espoused the very policy favored by the CIA under President Kennedy, the relentless pursuit of foreign wars. To achieve his end, that war in Iraq, no matter what lie he had to tell to implement it, George W. Bush had to do what Kennedy knew he had to do as well: eviscerate the CIA. So the disinformation was spread that the CIA had fallen down on the job.

In fact, the CIA had reported accurately about the situation in Iraq, and this before the Iraq War. CIA noted that an invasion of Iraq was likely to lead to civil war; the CIA reported that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Rather than give up his war, the President undercut the CIA.

Then Bush attempted to subvert the CIA further by claiming that the CIA had endorsed what it had not, but which fit his projected policy. He claimed that the CIA had told him first that there WERE weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Then he said CIA had been wrong. Neither claim was true. The outcome was the subordination of the clandestine services, and of the Agency itself, so that the CIA director no longer enjoys a daily briefing with the President, and is subordinate to a new Director of National Intelligence, whom the President can control.

We should not be surprised that the National Security Agency, empowered only to spy on foreign agents abroad, is spying on US instead. Research into the Kennedy assassination reveals that although the CIA was supposedly created to deal with foreign threats, the CIA operated together with the FBI in the cover-up of the Kennedy assassination. Documents reveal that this mutual cooperation dates from the moment of the founding of the CIA. In Louisiana, the sabotage of Garrison's investigation was led by the CIA, operating beyond its mandate, domestically.

Let me return to some details of what Jim Garrison accomplished. As Garrison once quipped about the supposed "lone assassin," Lee Harvey Oswald, in fact, Oswald was virtually NEVER alone. Moreover, he was not involved with anyone who was NOT connected to the CIA. Oswald was an FBI informant, Garrison learned from Louisiana representative Hale Boggs, a member of the Warren Commission, defying Allen Dulles' demand that everyone be silent about this fact. It was this single piece of information that in 1965 led Jim Garrison to resume his investigation begun in 1963.

I discovered a conversation that Garrison did not know about. At the First District police station, where Oswald was taken after he was arrested for a disturbance when he was handing out his pro-Castro leaflets, he requested of Lieutenant Francis Martello of the New Orleans police that Martello call the FBI field office. "Call the FBI," Oswald ordered Martello imperiously. "Tell them you have Lee Oswald in custody." Oswald asked that Special Agent Warren de Brueys come down to see him. Obviously, Oswald was someone the New Orleans field office of the FBI knew well.

The Agent on duty that night, John Quigley, then asked a young clerk named William Walter, the person who took Martello's call, to check all the files, locked and unlocked, for what they had on Oswald. On one file jacket, in the locked filing cabinet of the Special Agent in Charge, where security files were kept, were two names, Lee Oswald and Warren de Brueys. To this day, Mr. de Brueys denies that he ever knew Oswald. I called him just before my book was published on the pretext of spelling his name correctly: was that a capital "d" or not? Mr. de Brueys amazed me by remarking, after forty years you wouldn't be a very intelligent person if you didn't change your mind about things. This statement might not hold up in court, but I accepted it as a confession for history.

Oswald had also been part of the CIA Counter Intelligence false defector program. Oswald, I found new evidence to show, worked also for U.S. Customs in New Orleans, as many CIA people worked for Customs. One Customs officer told the Church Committee, "I've waited ten years for someone to talk to me" regarding what he knew about Oswald.

Garrison began by exploring Oswald's government connections. He indicted Clay Shaw for participating in the conspiracy, without having access to the government records released under that JFK Act, an extraordinary development we're not likely to witness again any time soon, records that establish that Shaw was a CIA operative.

By shepherding Oswald around Louisiana, Shaw was repaying the CIA for considerable favors rendered. Because Shaw was acquitted, Jim Garrison chose as the title of his third book, "A Farewell to Justice." He never used that title, and so I appropriated it. Lillian Hellman taught a course to writing students at Harvard called "Stealing." It was bad to imitate, but fine to "steal" from authors you admired, so long as you made their strategies your own. Garrison's ambition was to be an author. He was no stranger to Shakespeare, nor to novelists like Graham Greene, and of course Hemingway.

Part of my book includes how federal agencies worked actively to thwart Garrison's investigation. Garrison was astonished that the FBI refused to cooperate with New Orleans law enforcement in an investigation of the Kennedy assassination. In fact, FBI director J. Edgar Hoover subverted Garrison's effort. Witnesses came forward to the FBI, believing that in providing the FBI with information, they were simultaneously reaching the district attorney.

"Give Garrison nothing!" Hoover wrote to all special agents in charge, adding, in reference to the Special Agent in Charge in New Orleans, Robert Rightmyer: "Tell Rightmyer that I want him and all personnel in New Orleans to keep their mouths shut!" This was February 1967, a week after Jim Garrison's investigation became public.

Bobby Kennedy's right-hand man, Walter Sheridan, had spearheaded the blackmail, bribery and wiretapping that accomplished the conviction of Jimmy Hoffa. The evidence of Walter Sheridan's illegalities in the railroading of Jimmy Hoffa is chronicled in Fred Cook's three part series in the "Nation" magazine. A further irony is that Chief Justice Earl Warren, enlisted by Lyndon Johnson to rubber-stamp the preordained conclusion that Oswald murdered President Kennedy, wrote what seems to me to be a brilliant dissent when the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the Hoffa conviction.

Bobby Kennedy then sent Sheridan to New Orleans, as Sheridan freely admitted, to "destroy" Jim Garrison. That same National Security Agency spying on American citizens today spawned Walter Sheridan, who was also cleared for service with the FBI and CIA. Sheridan personally telephoned the governors of several states to ensure that Garrison's subpoenaed witnesses not be extradited back to the state of Louisiana. Not a single witness was returned to New Orleans.

In the recent attacks on Jim Garrison may be found the preposterous notion that the only reason Garrison focused on the CIA was that he was the victim of KGB propaganda flowing from an Italian newspaper, "Paese Sera." This total falsehood has been defended by Philip Zelikow, the executive director of the 9/11 Commission. One of the half-dozen anti-Garrison articles appeared, not surprisingly, on the CIA's own web site, "Studies in Intelligence."

As a biographer, among the questions I asked was: did Jim Garrison take bribes from executives profiting from pinball machine gambling (then illegal in Orleans Parish), for which he was charged by the federal government? Was Jim Garrison dishonest? The new documents reveal that after Shaw's acquittal, after he perjured himself, and suborned perjury, Garrison was ready to continue his investigation, only for that same operative, Walter Sheridan, to return to New Orleans and blackmail Garrison's friend and former chief investigator, Pershing Gervais.

Would Gervais not help them to nail Garrison for taking bribes from pinball gambling interests, Gervais would go to jail for eight years (the document is that specific) for income tax fraud. So we see in this story, the mutual cooperation of agencies: the FBI helping the CIA, the IRS enlisted by the National Security Agency and the CIA. Years later, on the occasion of Oliver Stone's film, "JFK," Anthony Lewis wrote in the "New York Times" that Garrison had taken bribes. In fact, Garrison had been acquitted. The bribes were indeed going to a "big man" at Tulane and Broad, but it was not six foot six inch Jim Garrison, but Chief of Police, Joseph Giarrusso.

Addressing a frequent attempt to discredit Jim Garrison, I also had to ask: was Garrison tied to the Mafia? Did he blame the CIA for the assassination as a way of protecting the Mafia? I learned that Carlos Marcello, the Mafia chieftain of Louisiana and Texas, despised Garrison and wanted him out of office. Garrison was "unreliable," Marcello complained to Governor John J. McKeithen, whose assistant, John Tarver, relayed this to me. (McKeithen himself did take bribes from Marcello by the way. John R. Rarick ran against McKeithen in 1968 and the Marcello people talked to Rarick's campaign manager, who refused a $50,000 contribution from Marcello. Marcello's man was incredulous. "Big John took his," he said).

The final chapter of my book, entitled "Rabbi," reflects my interviews with a person who was involved in setting up the assassination, a man named Thomas Edward Beckham. It describes his CIA training at a facility in Virginia. Beckham presented me with a government document which describes him as a man who would feel no guilt about killing. This phrase matches in language documents released by the Church Committee describing the assassins hired by the CIA in their assassination attempts against foreign leaders: Lumumba, Trujillo, Diem, and, of course, Fidel Castro.

Beckham had been subjected to a polygraph by the New Orleans police in the late 1970s: when Robert Blakey and Gary Cornwell, who headed the House Select Committee on Assassinations, discovered this, the Louisiana investigators were suspended for conducting a polygraph without authorization. The CIA controlled that investigation as it did the Warren Commission. My favorite anecdote concerns the moment when former Justice Arthur Goldberg was asked to head the Committee after Philadelphia prosecutor Richard A. Sprague was fired. Knowing that the CIA held the truth about the assassination, Goldberg telephoned the Director of Central Intelligence, Stansfield Turner, and asked whether, should he take the job, he would be given full CIA cooperation. His question was met by silence.

Goldberg persisted. He posed his question again. Only then did Turner reply, "I thought my silence was my answer." Goldberg did not take the job.

My final question came at my last interview, in Miami in June of 2005. It was one that also perplexed Jim Garrison: why did Bobby Kennedy try to sabotage his investigation? I interviewed a Cuban close to Robert Kennedy, who revealed that Robert Kennedy had Oswald under surveillance in New Orleans during the summer of 1963.

Like Professor Schlesinger, Robert Kennedy looked first to the CIA for responsibility in the murder of his brother. On the day of the assassination, Bobby confronted John McCone, the Director of Central Intelligence, with this question: "Did the CIA kill my brother?" He told Harry Ruiz Williams, one of the Cubans working for him, confirming his prior awareness of Oswald, "One of your guys did it!" and it was not a question, but a statement.

Wanting to be certain, Bobby sent that same Walter Sheridan to Dallas to find out if the Mafia had planned the crime. They had not. Bobby also asked a Mafia-connected Chicago lawyer, Julius Draznin, who worked for the NLRB, the same question. The answer, as Draznin reported to Walter Sheridan, was that the assassination was not a Mafia hit. Years later, Sheridan would testify under oath that the Mafia was behind the assassination!

It was in the circles of the anti-Castro movement that Bobby Kennedy directed his attention, his aim to protect the life of his brother from some Cuban still furious about the Bay of Pigs. His other aim was to "neutralize" Fidel Castro. Since the Church Committee hearings, newspapers have reported on Operation MONGOOSE, the CIA-Mafia plots to assassinate Fidel Castro. Bobby Kennedy's separate efforts have been less widely publicized.

It was in this Miami research that I discovered my parallel between the cover-up by the 9/11 Commission of the Able Danger information and a similar set of facts that faced the Warren Commission in its closing days. It reveals information that bears upon why Robert F. Kennedy was nervous about Jim Garrison's investigation, and about any investigation of his brother's death. This began at the Bethesda autopsy; one of the doctors, Pierre Finck, testified for the defense in New Orleans at State of Louisiana v. Clay Shaw that the Kennedy family had requested that the trajectory of the President's wounds not be examined.

"If my brother were killed," Garrison said, "I would be interested in getting the individuals involved, no matter who they were." Garrison made this statement on national television, exasperated by the persistent question by news people: if you're on the right track, why isn't Bobby Kennedy helping you?"

Late in its deliberations, the Warren Commission discovered that Lee Harvey Oswald had visited a Cuban exile and former law student named Sylvia Odio in Dallas in late September 1963. During the weekend of the assassination, Mrs. Odio and her sister Annie both at once identified Oswald as the man who had visited her in the presence of two Cubans, whom Sylvia has yet to identify.

Mrs. Odio testified before the Warren Commission. She said that the day after that visit, one of the Cubans had telephoned her and in the course of the conversation remarked that "Leon Oswald" had said, "President Kennedy should have been assassinated after the Bay of Pigs and some Cubans should have done thatit's so easy to do it," indicating both foreknowledge of the assassination and that Oswald was being set up. The Warren Commission never adequately investigated this information - they certainly didn't call "Leopoldo," just as the 9/11 Commission didn't feel obliged to investigate the Able Danger documents.

The Warren Commission's chief counsel, J. Lee Rankin, expressed irritation at the very suggestion that Sylvia Odio's story should be fully investigated, muttering, "we are supposed to be closing doors, not opening them." Years later, Rankin was bitter that the FBI and CIA had concealed vital information from the Warren Commission. Deposed in the late 1970s by the House Select Committee on Assassinations, Rankin admitted that he regretted that he had taken the CIA's word that Oswald "was never a CIA agent."

Invited to ask if he had anything further to say, Rankin had a question for the lawyers and committee members in the room. Was the HSCA investigating whether the people involved in the CIA cover-up were involved in the assassination as well? He received the identical response Arthur Goldberg had: silence.

The Warren Commission lacked a context in which to evaluate the incident of Oswald visiting Sylvia Odio because the FBI and CIA both, on the instruction of Chief of Counter Intelligence James Angleton concealed the CIA's history of attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro, now a matter of public record.

In my pursuit of the question of why Bobby Kennedy tried to sabotage Jim Garrison's investigation - Garrison used the word "torpedo" - I studied the minutes of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board and the Church Committee papers (the 25 per cent that are open to the public). I tried to interview Cubans who worked closely with the Attorney General. This is some of what I discovered.

Bobby Kennedy had assembled a team of anti-Castro Cubans. One, Manolo Reboso, is now living in Nicaragua, having married into the wealthy Somoza family. Another, Manuel Artime, is dead. But I did locate a man named Angelo Murgado, a man so devoted to the Kennedys that, at his citizenship hearing, he changed his name from "Murgado" to "Kennedy" in homage to a person whom he admired, Bobby Kennedy.

Angelo told me that Bobby's instructions to his special team were twofold. One aim was to find a means of getting rid of Fidel Castro. Bobby's other aim was to protect his brother. He sent these Cubans to New Orleans. Moving among, as Angelo put it, "Castro's agents, double agents, and Cubans working for the CIA," they hoped to "neutralize" a future assassin. You can deduce what he meant by "neutralize."

In New Orleans, Angelo Murgado ran into Lee Harvey Oswald, who was moving among the anti-Castro community. He put Oswald under surveillance. When I mentioned that I had discovered Oswald's acquaintance with an anti-Castro Cuban named Juan Valdes, who worked at Clay Shaw's International Trade Mart, Angelo was dubious. How could that be? He knew everyone Oswald was acquainted with, and he didn't know of this man. That's how close to Oswald they drew.

Scrutinizing Oswald, and reporting back to Bobby, his team discovered that Oswald was an informant for the FBI. Learning this, Bobby reasoned, "If the FBI is controlling him, he's no problem." Bobby underestimated the role Oswald had been induced to play in the plans to murder of his brother and ceased to make him a major target of his concern. Bobby knew "something was cooking in New Orleans," Angelo Murgado told me. But Bobby urged "caution." He was out of his depth.

In September, it was Angelo and a fellow veteran of the Bay of Pigs who traveled from New Orleans to Dallas to visit Sylvia Odio. Angelo believed they were there to marshal help for their anti-Castro efforts, and talked about buying arms to support an anti-Castro movement within Cuba. Mrs. Odio's father, in jail in Cuba, headed a liberal organization called JURE, its position, "Fidelismo sin Fidel." Angelo believed he could trust his companion, referred to in the Warren Report as "Leopoldo," because not only was he a fellow veteran of the Bay of Pigs, but his brother was running for Mayor of Miami. He was respectable.

The next day, out of Angelo's hearing, "Leopoldo" phoned Mrs. Odio to tell her how "Leon" Oswald had talked about the need to murder President Kennedy. "Leon is kind of nuts," Leopoldo stated, setting up Oswald as the patsy. Oswald's mental imbalance forms the conclusion of the Warren Report, and Oswald was called "Leon" a number of times, not least at a gathering at David Ferrie's apartment where Clay Shaw and Ferrie, Garrison's chief suspects, discussed what their alibis would be for November 22nd. At Sylvia Odio's, Angelo used his true given name. "Leopoldo" was an alias.

Placing Oswald in the company of so close an associate of Bobby Kennedy, in an incident that points to foreknowledge of the assassination as well as the framing of Oswald, created the trap that would silence Bobby forever. Bobby asked his aide, Frank Mankiewicz whether "any of our people were involved," and, Mankiewicz told me, he had asked himself, did you think there might be?

Angelo, meanwhile, had been betrayed by a companion he believed he could trust, a man not so much assigned to the overthrow of Fidel Castro, as Angelo believed, as he was enlisted to arrange for Oswald to be blamed for the murder of the President.

"Leopoldo" was a Cuban named Bernardo de Torres. A virtual flood of documents reveals that he was an asset of both the CIA and military intelligence. When he was subpoenaed before the House Select Committee, CIA arrived on the day he was deposed to insist that de Torres be granted immunity. The CIA so totally controlled that Committee that they agreed to the CIA demand that de Torres not be questioned about the period of time leading up to the Kennedy assassination. Both the Warren Commission and the HSCA buried what they knew about Oswald's participation in ANTI-Castro activities, information that would have led directly to the role of the CIA in the assassination.

I believe that we are now suffering the consequences of allowing lies about what happened to President Kennedy to remain unchallenged. The consequence of the public not demanding that the murder of the head of state be properly investigated has led directly to the current undermining of the integrity of our democratic institutions, not least the press. An obvious consequence of the obfuscations of the Warren Commission and the House Select Committee both has been the ease with which the 9/11 Commission was able to conceal important truths.

I wrote my book to make a small contribution to the need for government accountability and openness because what is at stake, to be a bit grandiose, is democracy itself.

I'll close with a line by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., from a sermon a year before his death: "No lie can forever."

Bill thanks for posting this.

I was at Joan's talk that night. What struck me as a middle aged social studies teacher was GOOD ATTENDANCE. The joint was ecumenically packed! It was a cold weekday night in january, and WITH ALMOST NO AD BUDGET, AND WITH A NO NAME PUBLISHER THE TOPIC OF THE KENNEDY ASSASSINATION AND THE CIA WAS ABLE TO PACK A THREE THOUSAND SEAT AUDITORIUM TO THE BRIM. This showed me that curiosity bellow the radar is quite alive, and the radar itself -- i.e. media disinformation-- might be the enemy.

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How the Failure To Identify, Prosecute and Convict President Kennedy's Assassins Has Led To Today's Crisis Of Democracy

by Joan Mellen, author of 'A Farewll to Justice'

Lecture Delivered at the Ethical Culture Society, New York City, January 24, 2006

The last time I was in this room was for the memorial service of a distinguished American author, J. Anthony Lukas, who wrote "Common Ground," about race and class in Boston. During the course of his career, Tony came into conflict with an institution that I will discuss this evening, "The New York Times."

"A Farewell To Justice" is about the Kennedy assassination. It opens as a biography of Jim Garrison, district attorney of Orleans Parish, Louisiana, who remains the only public official ever to have brought anyone before the bar of justice for participation in the conspiracy to murder President Kennedy. Garrison assumed that role when he discovered that the person framed for the crime, a low-level intelligence agent named Lee Harvey Oswald, resided in his jurisdiction between April and September of 1963. The Biblical metaphor is inevitable: that great harlot city New Orleans, destroyed by flood, with, among its many sins, incubating the Kennedy assassination.

After his suspect Clay Shaw was acquitted, Shaw the man whom the new evidence reveals was a CIA operative guilty of participating in the implementation of the murder of President Kennedy, Garrison was asked how he imagined that he could convict someone of conspiracy in the murder of President Kennedy in a Louisiana state court. Garrison said: "I guess I thought I was living in the country I was born in." He wasn't and we aren't.

I would like to suggest that the truth about the Kennedy assassination, far from being a matter of interest only to historians, and not even to most of them, will help us understand how we have arrived at a point where people as respectable as New York attorney Martin Garbus are comparing the current U.S. government with the rise of fascism in the mid-twentieth century. It's my belief that the present state of our political culture is a direct result of the fact that those responsible for the murder of President Kennedy have never been brought to justice.

To sum up: "A Farewell To Justice" suggests that the clandestine service of the CIA not only covered up the truth about the Kennedy assassination - that's easy to demonstrate from the four million documents now residing at the National Archives - but organized the event itself. That the CIA escaped without penalty, this extraordinary fact, has been integrated over these forty-two years into the body politic. It has produced a political culture where the unthinkable has become accepted practice. Meaningful freedom of the press has fallen into serious jeopardy.

For a flagrant example of what we have come to, we might revisit the scantily reported exchange on December 1st (2005) between Notre Dame professor Doug Cassel and John Yoo, a former deputy assistant to Attorney General John Ashcroft, a participant in the writing of the Patriot Act, and now a Berkeley law professor.

The subject of the debate was the illegal expansion of presidential powers.

Professor Cassel asks, "If the President deems that he's got to torture somebody, including by crushing the testicles of the person's child, there is no law that can stop him?" And Yoo answers, "No treaty."

Cassel follows up: "Also no law by Congress. That is what you wrote in the August 2002 memo." And Yoo replies, "I think it depends on why the President thinks he needs to do that."

If Professor Cassel's hypothetical question seems melodramatic, we have Martin Garbus, alarmed by the twin expansion of Presidential and police powers, writing in the "New York Observer": "This country is approaching a dangerous turning point," and suggesting that the United States today bears some similarities to Weimar Germany where liberal democracy was not able to contend with the fascist onslaught.

In Miami a few weeks ago I was struck by the omnipresence, on the streets and restaurants, of police officers from a variety of law enforcement agencies. Famously, Benjamin Franklin replied to a question of whether this new land should be a monarchy or a republic with the line, "A republic, if you can keep it."

What begins as surveillance moves to wiretapping, then COINTELPRO tricks, and finally to murder - a diagram of what happened to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and why the illegal NSA surveillance is so alarming.

We have not been aided in understanding the meaning of the Kennedy assassination by the continued public silence of those closest to President Kennedy. One day I requested of Wilmer Thomas, one of Jim Garrison's law school classmates (Tulane School of Law, Class of 1949) to ask his acquaintance, Kennedy adviser Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., whom he believed was behind the assassination of President Kennedy. Professor Schlesinger observed, quietly, "We were at war with the National Security people."

That the CIA at its highest levels exacted its revenge on President Kennedy has been an open secret since 1963. A Gallup poll on the 40th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination in 2003 found that twice as many people believed that the CIA was implicated in the assassination as there were who accepted the official fiction that Oswald had acted alone.

In 1963, people were already worried abut the CIA's extraordinary use of its powers. In the "New York Times," Arthur Krock wrote in October 1963 that if ever there would be a coup in the United States, it "would come from the CIA and not the Pentagon." The CIA, Krock wrote, was a "malignancy" on the body politic. It is difficult to imagine such words being printed in the "Times" today, so profoundly has our freedom of the press eroded since the time of the Kennedy assassination.

After the death of President Kennedy, ex-President Harry S. Truman, under whose watch the CIA was created in 1947, wrote on the front page of the "Washington Post," that the CIA had been running a "shadow government," becoming "operational." Brazenly, Allen Dulles at one point even told a reporter to think of the CIA as "the State Department for unfriendly countries." The CIA's policy-making also involved interference in the electoral process in Italy and France, funneling money to certain political parties - in Italy it was the Christian Democrats whom the CIA funded in an effort to prevent a coalition of socialists and Communists from taking power. The assassination of Prime Minister Aldo Moro was connected to that CIA campaign.

At the time of the assassination, Charles de Gaulle remarked that John F. Kennedy, whom he admired, had died as a result of an intra-government conflict, a situation not uncommon in many countries. The documentation available since the passage of the JFK Act in 1992 overwhelmingly supports de Gaulle's view.

The rubber-stamping of the Warren Report by the press in 1964 seems to mark the moment when the mainstream press became "embedded" in official versions of events. Traces of that process have surfaced. In April 1967 the CIA issued a memo (available at the National Archives) instructing friendly reporters on how to reply to challenges to the Warren Report, recommendations that have resurfaced in the past few years in a renewed set of attacks on Jim Garrison, a decade after his death.

So it should come as no surprise that the "New York Times" for a year covered up the National Security Agency domestic surveillance of citizens with rubber-stamped search warrants issued under a "Foreign Intelligence Services Act" (FISA) run by the Pentagon, or with no warrants at all. Only when their own reporter was about to publish a book detailing the evidence did the "Times" run that story. It should be horrifying that the Congressional debate about the Patriot Act has not been over whether there should be such a government capability, but how long it should be extended.

Ponder the "Times'" treatment of Jim Garrison, and later of Oliver Stone, who dared to make a film with Jim Garrison as its central character. When Garrison's first book, "A Heritage of Stone," appeared in 1969, John Leonard gave it a positive review in the daily "Times." In his final paragraph, Leonard recounted a few of Garrison's challenges to the Warren Report.

"Something stinks about this whole affair," Leonard writes. "Why were Kennedy's neck organs not examined at Bethesda for evidence of a frontal shot? Why was his body whisked away to Washington before the legally required Texas inquest? Why?"

By the next edition, Leonard's final paragraph had vanished, a third of a column slid down the memory hole. Leonard's review now closed with these words: "Frankly, I prefer to believe that the Warren Commission did a poor job, rather than a dishonest one. I like to think that Garrison invents monsters to explain incompetence." It was an extraordinary example of management censorship of a book review. To this day, the "Times" tolerates no factual challenges to the Warren Report.

They appear to be the only people who still believe that Lee Harvey Oswald was responsible for the death of President Kennedy. I spoke in Clinton, Louisiana last month, at the oldest working courthouse in the United States, I believe. The judge who introduced me asked the audience how many believed that Lee Harvey Oswald was guilty. Not a single hand went up. That audience knew the Warren Report was nonsensical because it was in East Feliciana Parish, in the hamlets of Clinton and Jackson, that Oswald appeared in the company of Clay Shaw, and a CIA contract pilot named David Ferrie, in the late summer of 1963, three months before the assassination. In the audience were actual witnesses, including the barber who cut Oswald's hair.

That the Warren Report could so flagrantly lie, and present itself as a homicide investigation, while doing virtually no investigation at all - neither Clay Shaw nor David Ferrie were interviewed, inspiring Jim Garrison's quip, "they didn't call anyone who WAS involved" - has resulted in other Presidential Commissions taking similar liberties with the truth.

I wrote an op-ed piece comparing the deliberate ignoring of crucial information by the 9/11 Commission with a similar failure to investigate a key lead by the Warren Commission. It began with the information released by Lieutenant Colonel in Army intelligence Tony Shaffer that the Able Danger intelligence unit had identified Mohammed Atta and other accused hijackers as part of a cell of Al Qaeda operating in the United States at least a year before 9/11. Colonel Shaffer had wanted this information to go immediately to the FBI only for Defense Department lawyers to forbid Able Danger from contacting the Bureau.

The "New York Times" buried this extraordinary information two-thirds of the way into the paper. The "Washington Post" ran a Pentagon denial.

"Information has to get out, and I think we have to account for why some of these things weren't looked at as part of the overall report," Colonel Shaffer said on NPR.

Shaffer then revealed something else: he had presented the findings of the Able Danger team to Philip Zelikow, that same executive staff director of the 9/11 Commission who has defended the recent attacks on Jim Garrison as a dupe of the KGB! Zelikow saw to it that the Able Danger information never appeared in the 9/11 Commission Report, and went on to deny that he was given the information. He now works on the staff of Condeleeza Rice.

One might ask: could Zelikow and company have gotten away with denying the reality of a cover-up of vital information about 9/11 if we had demanded the truth from the Warren Commission? I sent my Op Ed piece, "9/11 and 11/22," to 34 newspapers. Only one would print it, the "Key West Citizen."

What has all this to do with the Kennedy assassination per se? I'm suggesting that demanding the truth about the Kennedy assassination, even at this late date, is a step toward restoring our basic freedoms. The discourse needs to go even further than point to who planned and implemented the crime. Was the CIA acting alone on its own behalf? Whose interests did the Agency serve in 1963 - because the CIA eviscerated by George W. Bush was a very different institution from the Agency that waged war against President Kennedy?

The discussion of who rules America might begin with President Eisenhower's heroic warning against a military-industrial (and we need, of course, to add national security) complex. "We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes," President Eisenhower added. He cut the military budget as soon as he took office; he didn't believe the U.S. should be a militarized nation. The CIA, the research reveals, sabotaged President Eisenhower's effort to achieve détente with the Soviets in the final year of his presidency through the downing of Francis Gary Powers' U-2 overflight into the Soviet Union. President Eisenhower had a good definition of "National Security." He said "national security" meant that the country was proceeding in peace and without a deficit.

Jim Garrison often asked during his investigation: Cui Bono? Who benefits? A friend of mine living near "Langley Forks" in Virginia pointed out to me some interesting connections. The Texas School Book Depository, from which some, but not all, of the shots were fired on November 22, 1963, was owned by one D. H. Byrd. Byrd also founded and was the commander of the Southwest post of the Civil Air Patrol, which included Louisiana and the troop led by David Ferrie, among whose cadets was Lee Harvey Oswald.

In November, 1963, one of Byrd's companies, LTV, a major defense contractor, was almost bankrupt. Defense contracts flowing from the Vietnam War changed that, and by 1968 the stock had increased geometrically in value. Meanwhile we know that President Kennedy opposed vehemently a protracted ground war, and that as soon as he was dead, Lyndon Johnson dispatched thousands of troops to Vietnam.

Among Byrd's associates was a man named Neil Mallon, the skull and bones classmate of Prescott Bush. Mallon headed a company called Dresser Industries, and it was Dresser that sent George H. W. Bush, his friend Prescott's son, west to Texas in 1949. It was for Mallon that the first President Bush named one of his sons. Mallon built Byrd's barite plant in Mexico, barite a product involved in oil drilling.

Dresser Industries was bought by Halliburton in 1998, and at that time the Kellogg subsidiary of Dresser became part of Brown and Root. Brown and Root itself had been bought by Halliburton in 1962. It is less well known that Brown and Root profited not only from the war in Iraq, but first from Vietnam. Having recognized the role of Brown and Root, and discovering that George Brown was a CIA asset (as the CIA's own released documents confirm), Jim Garrison hoped to investigate Brown's role.

Was the CIA acting on behalf of President Eisenhower's military-industrial complex? As a matter for further research, the intelligence connections of the Bushes date from before the very founding of the CIA: the Agency's mandate was outlined in 1946 by Robert A. Lovett, who was a partner of Prescott Bush at Brown Brothers Harriman.

Not least, as readers of the "Nation" magazine know, after the Kennedy assassination, the FBI was enlisted to brief CIA asset George Bush, THE George Bush, and not a low-level man in the Agency by the same name, as was at first claimed, on the reaction of the Miami anti-Castro community to the event.

To the general observation that the CIA represented the interests of the oil-defense industries, and the Pentagon, must be added another motive for the involvement of the CIA in the assassination. Almost from the moment Kennedy took office, a conflict raged between the President and the CIA. Once Kennedy refused to be blackmailed by the CIA into a full-scale invasion of Cuba at the time of the Bay of Pigs, de Gaulle's "intra-administration war" erupted. The clandestine service of the CIA pushed for an invasion of Cuba. President Kennedy declined, and went on to fire the Director of Central Intelligence, Allen Dulles, who re-emerges as the central figure at the Warren Commission.

Throughout Kennedy's brief presidency, the CIA treated him as an enemy. They withheld information, which included details about the Soviet missiles in Cuba. Also concealed from President Kennedy were the CIA's continuing assassinations and attempted assassinations of foreign leaders.

John F. Kennedy, in turn, sought to reign in the CIA, and to limit the scope of its activities, including reducing the powers of the Director of Central Intelligence. He intended to transfer the overflight U-2 program from the CIA to the Strategic Air Command. He intended to cut the CIA budget. He sent, I discovered, Richard Goodwin down to No-Name Key to ask the Soldiers of Fortune training there to take over Radio Swan, the CIA radio station, on behalf of the President. They declined. Kennedy threatened the existence of the Agency as they knew themselves.

Richard Reeves, in his very honest biography of John F. Kennedy, quotes the President repeating over and over again: "I've got to do something about those CIA bastards," and "Those CIA bastards. I'm going to get those bastards if it's the last thing I ever do." It was the persistent refrain of the Kennedy presidency.

The current President has also had his conflicts with the CIA. He, however, has espoused the very policy favored by the CIA under President Kennedy, the relentless pursuit of foreign wars. To achieve his end, that war in Iraq, no matter what lie he had to tell to implement it, George W. Bush had to do what Kennedy knew he had to do as well: eviscerate the CIA. So the disinformation was spread that the CIA had fallen down on the job.

In fact, the CIA had reported accurately about the situation in Iraq, and this before the Iraq War. CIA noted that an invasion of Iraq was likely to lead to civil war; the CIA reported that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Rather than give up his war, the President undercut the CIA.

Then Bush attempted to subvert the CIA further by claiming that the CIA had endorsed what it had not, but which fit his projected policy. He claimed that the CIA had told him first that there WERE weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Then he said CIA had been wrong. Neither claim was true. The outcome was the subordination of the clandestine services, and of the Agency itself, so that the CIA director no longer enjoys a daily briefing with the President, and is subordinate to a new Director of National Intelligence, whom the President can control.

We should not be surprised that the National Security Agency, empowered only to spy on foreign agents abroad, is spying on US instead. Research into the Kennedy assassination reveals that although the CIA was supposedly created to deal with foreign threats, the CIA operated together with the FBI in the cover-up of the Kennedy assassination. Documents reveal that this mutual cooperation dates from the moment of the founding of the CIA. In Louisiana, the sabotage of Garrison's investigation was led by the CIA, operating beyond its mandate, domestically.

Let me return to some details of what Jim Garrison accomplished. As Garrison once quipped about the supposed "lone assassin," Lee Harvey Oswald, in fact, Oswald was virtually NEVER alone. Moreover, he was not involved with anyone who was NOT connected to the CIA. Oswald was an FBI informant, Garrison learned from Louisiana representative Hale Boggs, a member of the Warren Commission, defying Allen Dulles' demand that everyone be silent about this fact. It was this single piece of information that in 1965 led Jim Garrison to resume his investigation begun in 1963.

I discovered a conversation that Garrison did not know about. At the First District police station, where Oswald was taken after he was arrested for a disturbance when he was handing out his pro-Castro leaflets, he requested of Lieutenant Francis Martello of the New Orleans police that Martello call the FBI field office. "Call the FBI," Oswald ordered Martello imperiously. "Tell them you have Lee Oswald in custody." Oswald asked that Special Agent Warren de Brueys come down to see him. Obviously, Oswald was someone the New Orleans field office of the FBI knew well.

The Agent on duty that night, John Quigley, then asked a young clerk named William Walter, the person who took Martello's call, to check all the files, locked and unlocked, for what they had on Oswald. On one file jacket, in the locked filing cabinet of the Special Agent in Charge, where security files were kept, were two names, Lee Oswald and Warren de Brueys. To this day, Mr. de Brueys denies that he ever knew Oswald. I called him just before my book was published on the pretext of spelling his name correctly: was that a capital "d" or not? Mr. de Brueys amazed me by remarking, after forty years you wouldn't be a very intelligent person if you didn't change your mind about things. This statement might not hold up in court, but I accepted it as a confession for history.

Oswald had also been part of the CIA Counter Intelligence false defector program. Oswald, I found new evidence to show, worked also for U.S. Customs in New Orleans, as many CIA people worked for Customs. One Customs officer told the Church Committee, "I've waited ten years for someone to talk to me" regarding what he knew about Oswald.

Garrison began by exploring Oswald's government connections. He indicted Clay Shaw for participating in the conspiracy, without having access to the government records released under that JFK Act, an extraordinary development we're not likely to witness again any time soon, records that establish that Shaw was a CIA operative.

By shepherding Oswald around Louisiana, Shaw was repaying the CIA for considerable favors rendered. Because Shaw was acquitted, Jim Garrison chose as the title of his third book, "A Farewell to Justice." He never used that title, and so I appropriated it. Lillian Hellman taught a course to writing students at Harvard called "Stealing." It was bad to imitate, but fine to "steal" from authors you admired, so long as you made their strategies your own. Garrison's ambition was to be an author. He was no stranger to Shakespeare, nor to novelists like Graham Greene, and of course Hemingway.

Part of my book includes how federal agencies worked actively to thwart Garrison's investigation. Garrison was astonished that the FBI refused to cooperate with New Orleans law enforcement in an investigation of the Kennedy assassination. In fact, FBI director J. Edgar Hoover subverted Garrison's effort. Witnesses came forward to the FBI, believing that in providing the FBI with information, they were simultaneously reaching the district attorney.

"Give Garrison nothing!" Hoover wrote to all special agents in charge, adding, in reference to the Special Agent in Charge in New Orleans, Robert Rightmyer: "Tell Rightmyer that I want him and all personnel in New Orleans to keep their mouths shut!" This was February 1967, a week after Jim Garrison's investigation became public.

Bobby Kennedy's right-hand man, Walter Sheridan, had spearheaded the blackmail, bribery and wiretapping that accomplished the conviction of Jimmy Hoffa. The evidence of Walter Sheridan's illegalities in the railroading of Jimmy Hoffa is chronicled in Fred Cook's three part series in the "Nation" magazine. A further irony is that Chief Justice Earl Warren, enlisted by Lyndon Johnson to rubber-stamp the preordained conclusion that Oswald murdered President Kennedy, wrote what seems to me to be a brilliant dissent when the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the Hoffa conviction.

Bobby Kennedy then sent Sheridan to New Orleans, as Sheridan freely admitted, to "destroy" Jim Garrison. That same National Security Agency spying on American citizens today spawned Walter Sheridan, who was also cleared for service with the FBI and CIA. Sheridan personally telephoned the governors of several states to ensure that Garrison's subpoenaed witnesses not be extradited back to the state of Louisiana. Not a single witness was returned to New Orleans.

In the recent attacks on Jim Garrison may be found the preposterous notion that the only reason Garrison focused on the CIA was that he was the victim of KGB propaganda flowing from an Italian newspaper, "Paese Sera." This total falsehood has been defended by Philip Zelikow, the executive director of the 9/11 Commission. One of the half-dozen anti-Garrison articles appeared, not surprisingly, on the CIA's own web site, "Studies in Intelligence."

As a biographer, among the questions I asked was: did Jim Garrison take bribes from executives profiting from pinball machine gambling (then illegal in Orleans Parish), for which he was charged by the federal government? Was Jim Garrison dishonest? The new documents reveal that after Shaw's acquittal, after he perjured himself, and suborned perjury, Garrison was ready to continue his investigation, only for that same operative, Walter Sheridan, to return to New Orleans and blackmail Garrison's friend and former chief investigator, Pershing Gervais.

Would Gervais not help them to nail Garrison for taking bribes from pinball gambling interests, Gervais would go to jail for eight years (the document is that specific) for income tax fraud. So we see in this story, the mutual cooperation of agencies: the FBI helping the CIA, the IRS enlisted by the National Security Agency and the CIA. Years later, on the occasion of Oliver Stone's film, "JFK," Anthony Lewis wrote in the "New York Times" that Garrison had taken bribes. In fact, Garrison had been acquitted. The bribes were indeed going to a "big man" at Tulane and Broad, but it was not six foot six inch Jim Garrison, but Chief of Police, Joseph Giarrusso.

Addressing a frequent attempt to discredit Jim Garrison, I also had to ask: was Garrison tied to the Mafia? Did he blame the CIA for the assassination as a way of protecting the Mafia? I learned that Carlos Marcello, the Mafia chieftain of Louisiana and Texas, despised Garrison and wanted him out of office. Garrison was "unreliable," Marcello complained to Governor John J. McKeithen, whose assistant, John Tarver, relayed this to me. (McKeithen himself did take bribes from Marcello by the way. John R. Rarick ran against McKeithen in 1968 and the Marcello people talked to Rarick's campaign manager, who refused a $50,000 contribution from Marcello. Marcello's man was incredulous. "Big John took his," he said).

The final chapter of my book, entitled "Rabbi," reflects my interviews with a person who was involved in setting up the assassination, a man named Thomas Edward Beckham. It describes his CIA training at a facility in Virginia. Beckham presented me with a government document which describes him as a man who would feel no guilt about killing. This phrase matches in language documents released by the Church Committee describing the assassins hired by the CIA in their assassination attempts against foreign leaders: Lumumba, Trujillo, Diem, and, of course, Fidel Castro.

Beckham had been subjected to a polygraph by the New Orleans police in the late 1970s: when Robert Blakey and Gary Cornwell, who headed the House Select Committee on Assassinations, discovered this, the Louisiana investigators were suspended for conducting a polygraph without authorization. The CIA controlled that investigation as it did the Warren Commission. My favorite anecdote concerns the moment when former Justice Arthur Goldberg was asked to head the Committee after Philadelphia prosecutor Richard A. Sprague was fired. Knowing that the CIA held the truth about the assassination, Goldberg telephoned the Director of Central Intelligence, Stansfield Turner, and asked whether, should he take the job, he would be given full CIA cooperation. His question was met by silence.

Goldberg persisted. He posed his question again. Only then did Turner reply, "I thought my silence was my answer." Goldberg did not take the job.

My final question came at my last interview, in Miami in June of 2005. It was one that also perplexed Jim Garrison: why did Bobby Kennedy try to sabotage his investigation? I interviewed a Cuban close to Robert Kennedy, who revealed that Robert Kennedy had Oswald under surveillance in New Orleans during the summer of 1963.

Like Professor Schlesinger, Robert Kennedy looked first to the CIA for responsibility in the murder of his brother. On the day of the assassination, Bobby confronted John McCone, the Director of Central Intelligence, with this question: "Did the CIA kill my brother?" He told Harry Ruiz Williams, one of the Cubans working for him, confirming his prior awareness of Oswald, "One of your guys did it!" and it was not a question, but a statement.

Wanting to be certain, Bobby sent that same Walter Sheridan to Dallas to find out if the Mafia had planned the crime. They had not. Bobby also asked a Mafia-connected Chicago lawyer, Julius Draznin, who worked for the NLRB, the same question. The answer, as Draznin reported to Walter Sheridan, was that the assassination was not a Mafia hit. Years later, Sheridan would testify under oath that the Mafia was behind the assassination!

It was in the circles of the anti-Castro movement that Bobby Kennedy directed his attention, his aim to protect the life of his brother from some Cuban still furious about the Bay of Pigs. His other aim was to "neutralize" Fidel Castro. Since the Church Committee hearings, newspapers have reported on Operation MONGOOSE, the CIA-Mafia plots to assassinate Fidel Castro. Bobby Kennedy's separate efforts have been less widely publicized.

It was in this Miami research that I discovered my parallel between the cover-up by the 9/11 Commission of the Able Danger information and a similar set of facts that faced the Warren Commission in its closing days. It reveals information that bears upon why Robert F. Kennedy was nervous about Jim Garrison's investigation, and about any investigation of his brother's death. This began at the Bethesda autopsy; one of the doctors, Pierre Finck, testified for the defense in New Orleans at State of Louisiana v. Clay Shaw that the Kennedy family had requested that the trajectory of the President's wounds not be examined.

"If my brother were killed," Garrison said, "I would be interested in getting the individuals involved, no matter who they were." Garrison made this statement on national television, exasperated by the persistent question by news people: if you're on the right track, why isn't Bobby Kennedy helping you?"

Late in its deliberations, the Warren Commission discovered that Lee Harvey Oswald had visited a Cuban exile and former law student named Sylvia Odio in Dallas in late September 1963. During the weekend of the assassination, Mrs. Odio and her sister Annie both at once identified Oswald as the man who had visited her in the presence of two Cubans, whom Sylvia has yet to identify.

Mrs. Odio testified before the Warren Commission. She said that the day after that visit, one of the Cubans had telephoned her and in the course of the conversation remarked that "Leon Oswald" had said, "President Kennedy should have been assassinated after the Bay of Pigs and some Cubans should have done thatit's so easy to do it," indicating both foreknowledge of the assassination and that Oswald was being set up. The Warren Commission never adequately investigated this information - they certainly didn't call "Leopoldo," just as the 9/11 Commission didn't feel obliged to investigate the Able Danger documents.

The Warren Commission's chief counsel, J. Lee Rankin, expressed irritation at the very suggestion that Sylvia Odio's story should be fully investigated, muttering, "we are supposed to be closing doors, not opening them." Years later, Rankin was bitter that the FBI and CIA had concealed vital information from the Warren Commission. Deposed in the late 1970s by the House Select Committee on Assassinations, Rankin admitted that he regretted that he had taken the CIA's word that Oswald "was never a CIA agent."

Invited to ask if he had anything further to say, Rankin had a question for the lawyers and committee members in the room. Was the HSCA investigating whether the people involved in the CIA cover-up were involved in the assassination as well? He received the identical response Arthur Goldberg had: silence.

The Warren Commission lacked a context in which to evaluate the incident of Oswald visiting Sylvia Odio because the FBI and CIA both, on the instruction of Chief of Counter Intelligence James Angleton concealed the CIA's history of attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro, now a matter of public record.

In my pursuit of the question of why Bobby Kennedy tried to sabotage Jim Garrison's investigation - Garrison used the word "torpedo" - I studied the minutes of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board and the Church Committee papers (the 25 per cent that are open to the public). I tried to interview Cubans who worked closely with the Attorney General. This is some of what I discovered.

Bobby Kennedy had assembled a team of anti-Castro Cubans. One, Manolo Reboso, is now living in Nicaragua, having married into the wealthy Somoza family. Another, Manuel Artime, is dead. But I did locate a man named Angelo Murgado, a man so devoted to the Kennedys that, at his citizenship hearing, he changed his name from "Murgado" to "Kennedy" in homage to a person whom he admired, Bobby Kennedy.

Angelo told me that Bobby's instructions to his special team were twofold. One aim was to find a means of getting rid of Fidel Castro. Bobby's other aim was to protect his brother. He sent these Cubans to New Orleans. Moving among, as Angelo put it, "Castro's agents, double agents, and Cubans working for the CIA," they hoped to "neutralize" a future assassin. You can deduce what he meant by "neutralize."

In New Orleans, Angelo Murgado ran into Lee Harvey Oswald, who was moving among the anti-Castro community. He put Oswald under surveillance. When I mentioned that I had discovered Oswald's acquaintance with an anti-Castro Cuban named Juan Valdes, who worked at Clay Shaw's International Trade Mart, Angelo was dubious. How could that be? He knew everyone Oswald was acquainted with, and he didn't know of this man. That's how close to Oswald they drew.

Scrutinizing Oswald, and reporting back to Bobby, his team discovered that Oswald was an informant for the FBI. Learning this, Bobby reasoned, "If the FBI is controlling him, he's no problem." Bobby underestimated the role Oswald had been induced to play in the plans to murder of his brother and ceased to make him a major target of his concern. Bobby knew "something was cooking in New Orleans," Angelo Murgado told me. But Bobby urged "caution." He was out of his depth.

In September, it was Angelo and a fellow veteran of the Bay of Pigs who traveled from New Orleans to Dallas to visit Sylvia Odio. Angelo believed they were there to marshal help for their anti-Castro efforts, and talked about buying arms to support an anti-Castro movement within Cuba. Mrs. Odio's father, in jail in Cuba, headed a liberal organization called JURE, its position, "Fidelismo sin Fidel." Angelo believed he could trust his companion, referred to in the Warren Report as "Leopoldo," because not only was he a fellow veteran of the Bay of Pigs, but his brother was running for Mayor of Miami. He was respectable.

The next day, out of Angelo's hearing, "Leopoldo" phoned Mrs. Odio to tell her how "Leon" Oswald had talked about the need to murder President Kennedy. "Leon is kind of nuts," Leopoldo stated, setting up Oswald as the patsy. Oswald's mental imbalance forms the conclusion of the Warren Report, and Oswald was called "Leon" a number of times, not least at a gathering at David Ferrie's apartment where Clay Shaw and Ferrie, Garrison's chief suspects, discussed what their alibis would be for November 22nd. At Sylvia Odio's, Angelo used his true given name. "Leopoldo" was an alias.

Placing Oswald in the company of so close an associate of Bobby Kennedy, in an incident that points to foreknowledge of the assassination as well as the framing of Oswald, created the trap that would silence Bobby forever. Bobby asked his aide, Frank Mankiewicz whether "any of our people were involved," and, Mankiewicz told me, he had asked himself, did you think there might be?

Angelo, meanwhile, had been betrayed by a companion he believed he could trust, a man not so much assigned to the overthrow of Fidel Castro, as Angelo believed, as he was enlisted to arrange for Oswald to be blamed for the murder of the President.

"Leopoldo" was a Cuban named Bernardo de Torres. A virtual flood of documents reveals that he was an asset of both the CIA and military intelligence. When he was subpoenaed before the House Select Committee, CIA arrived on the day he was deposed to insist that de Torres be granted immunity. The CIA so totally controlled that Committee that they agreed to the CIA demand that de Torres not be questioned about the period of time leading up to the Kennedy assassination. Both the Warren Commission and the HSCA buried what they knew about Oswald's participation in ANTI-Castro activities, information that would have led directly to the role of the CIA in the assassination.

I believe that we are now suffering the consequences of allowing lies about what happened to President Kennedy to remain unchallenged. The consequence of the public not demanding that the murder of the head of state be properly investigated has led directly to the current undermining of the integrity of our democratic institutions, not least the press. An obvious consequence of the obfuscations of the Warren Commission and the House Select Committee both has been the ease with which the 9/11 Commission was able to conceal important truths.

I wrote my book to make a small contribution to the need for government accountability and openness because what is at stake, to be a bit grandiose, is democracy itself.

I'll close with a line by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., from a sermon a year before his death: "No lie can forever."

Bill thanks for posting this.

I was at Joan's talk that night. What struck me as a middle aged social studies teacher was GOOD ATTENDANCE. The joint was ecumenically packed! It was a cold weekday night in january, and WITH ALMOST NO AD BUDGET, AND WITH A NO NAME PUBLISHER THE TOPIC OF THE KENNEDY ASSASSINATION AND THE CIA WAS ABLE TO PACK A THREE THOUSAND SEAT AUDITORIUM TO THE BRIM. This showed me that curiosity bellow the radar is quite alive, and the radar itself -- i.e. media disinformation-- might be the enemy.

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How the Failure To Identify, Prosecute and Convict President Kennedy's Assassins Has Led To Today's Crisis Of Democracy

by Joan Mellen, author of 'A Farewll to Justice'

Lecture Delivered at the Ethical Culture Society, New York City, January 24, 2006

The last time I was in this room was for the memorial service of a distinguished American author, J. Anthony Lukas, who wrote "Common Ground," about race and class in Boston. During the course of his career, Tony came into conflict with an institution that I will discuss this evening, "The New York Times."

"A Farewell To Justice" is about the Kennedy assassination. It opens as a biography of Jim Garrison, district attorney of Orleans Parish, Louisiana, who remains the only public official ever to have brought anyone before the bar of justice for participation in the conspiracy to murder President Kennedy. Garrison assumed that role when he discovered that the person framed for the crime, a low-level intelligence agent named Lee Harvey Oswald, resided in his jurisdiction between April and September of 1963. The Biblical metaphor is inevitable: that great harlot city New Orleans, destroyed by flood, with, among its many sins, incubating the Kennedy assassination.

After his suspect Clay Shaw was acquitted, Shaw the man whom the new evidence reveals was a CIA operative guilty of participating in the implementation of the murder of President Kennedy, Garrison was asked how he imagined that he could convict someone of conspiracy in the murder of President Kennedy in a Louisiana state court. Garrison said: "I guess I thought I was living in the country I was born in." He wasn't and we aren't.

I would like to suggest that the truth about the Kennedy assassination, far from being a matter of interest only to historians, and not even to most of them, will help us understand how we have arrived at a point where people as respectable as New York attorney Martin Garbus are comparing the current U.S. government with the rise of fascism in the mid-twentieth century. It's my belief that the present state of our political culture is a direct result of the fact that those responsible for the murder of President Kennedy have never been brought to justice.

To sum up: "A Farewell To Justice" suggests that the clandestine service of the CIA not only covered up the truth about the Kennedy assassination - that's easy to demonstrate from the four million documents now residing at the National Archives - but organized the event itself. That the CIA escaped without penalty, this extraordinary fact, has been integrated over these forty-two years into the body politic. It has produced a political culture where the unthinkable has become accepted practice. Meaningful freedom of the press has fallen into serious jeopardy.

For a flagrant example of what we have come to, we might revisit the scantily reported exchange on December 1st (2005) between Notre Dame professor Doug Cassel and John Yoo, a former deputy assistant to Attorney General John Ashcroft, a participant in the writing of the Patriot Act, and now a Berkeley law professor.

The subject of the debate was the illegal expansion of presidential powers.

Professor Cassel asks, "If the President deems that he's got to torture somebody, including by crushing the testicles of the person's child, there is no law that can stop him?" And Yoo answers, "No treaty."

Cassel follows up: "Also no law by Congress. That is what you wrote in the August 2002 memo." And Yoo replies, "I think it depends on why the President thinks he needs to do that."

If Professor Cassel's hypothetical question seems melodramatic, we have Martin Garbus, alarmed by the twin expansion of Presidential and police powers, writing in the "New York Observer": "This country is approaching a dangerous turning point," and suggesting that the United States today bears some similarities to Weimar Germany where liberal democracy was not able to contend with the fascist onslaught.

In Miami a few weeks ago I was struck by the omnipresence, on the streets and restaurants, of police officers from a variety of law enforcement agencies. Famously, Benjamin Franklin replied to a question of whether this new land should be a monarchy or a republic with the line, "A republic, if you can keep it."

What begins as surveillance moves to wiretapping, then COINTELPRO tricks, and finally to murder - a diagram of what happened to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and why the illegal NSA surveillance is so alarming.

We have not been aided in understanding the meaning of the Kennedy assassination by the continued public silence of those closest to President Kennedy. One day I requested of Wilmer Thomas, one of Jim Garrison's law school classmates (Tulane School of Law, Class of 1949) to ask his acquaintance, Kennedy adviser Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., whom he believed was behind the assassination of President Kennedy. Professor Schlesinger observed, quietly, "We were at war with the National Security people."

That the CIA at its highest levels exacted its revenge on President Kennedy has been an open secret since 1963. A Gallup poll on the 40th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination in 2003 found that twice as many people believed that the CIA was implicated in the assassination as there were who accepted the official fiction that Oswald had acted alone.

In 1963, people were already worried abut the CIA's extraordinary use of its powers. In the "New York Times," Arthur Krock wrote in October 1963 that if ever there would be a coup in the United States, it "would come from the CIA and not the Pentagon." The CIA, Krock wrote, was a "malignancy" on the body politic. It is difficult to imagine such words being printed in the "Times" today, so profoundly has our freedom of the press eroded since the time of the Kennedy assassination.

After the death of President Kennedy, ex-President Harry S. Truman, under whose watch the CIA was created in 1947, wrote on the front page of the "Washington Post," that the CIA had been running a "shadow government," becoming "operational." Brazenly, Allen Dulles at one point even told a reporter to think of the CIA as "the State Department for unfriendly countries." The CIA's policy-making also involved interference in the electoral process in Italy and France, funneling money to certain political parties - in Italy it was the Christian Democrats whom the CIA funded in an effort to prevent a coalition of socialists and Communists from taking power. The assassination of Prime Minister Aldo Moro was connected to that CIA campaign.

At the time of the assassination, Charles de Gaulle remarked that John F. Kennedy, whom he admired, had died as a result of an intra-government conflict, a situation not uncommon in many countries. The documentation available since the passage of the JFK Act in 1992 overwhelmingly supports de Gaulle's view.

The rubber-stamping of the Warren Report by the press in 1964 seems to mark the moment when the mainstream press became "embedded" in official versions of events. Traces of that process have surfaced. In April 1967 the CIA issued a memo (available at the National Archives) instructing friendly reporters on how to reply to challenges to the Warren Report, recommendations that have resurfaced in the past few years in a renewed set of attacks on Jim Garrison, a decade after his death.

So it should come as no surprise that the "New York Times" for a year covered up the National Security Agency domestic surveillance of citizens with rubber-stamped search warrants issued under a "Foreign Intelligence Services Act" (FISA) run by the Pentagon, or with no warrants at all. Only when their own reporter was about to publish a book detailing the evidence did the "Times" run that story. It should be horrifying that the Congressional debate about the Patriot Act has not been over whether there should be such a government capability, but how long it should be extended.

Ponder the "Times'" treatment of Jim Garrison, and later of Oliver Stone, who dared to make a film with Jim Garrison as its central character. When Garrison's first book, "A Heritage of Stone," appeared in 1969, John Leonard gave it a positive review in the daily "Times." In his final paragraph, Leonard recounted a few of Garrison's challenges to the Warren Report.

"Something stinks about this whole affair," Leonard writes. "Why were Kennedy's neck organs not examined at Bethesda for evidence of a frontal shot? Why was his body whisked away to Washington before the legally required Texas inquest? Why?"

By the next edition, Leonard's final paragraph had vanished, a third of a column slid down the memory hole. Leonard's review now closed with these words: "Frankly, I prefer to believe that the Warren Commission did a poor job, rather than a dishonest one. I like to think that Garrison invents monsters to explain incompetence." It was an extraordinary example of management censorship of a book review. To this day, the "Times" tolerates no factual challenges to the Warren Report.

They appear to be the only people who still believe that Lee Harvey Oswald was responsible for the death of President Kennedy. I spoke in Clinton, Louisiana last month, at the oldest working courthouse in the United States, I believe. The judge who introduced me asked the audience how many believed that Lee Harvey Oswald was guilty. Not a single hand went up. That audience knew the Warren Report was nonsensical because it was in East Feliciana Parish, in the hamlets of Clinton and Jackson, that Oswald appeared in the company of Clay Shaw, and a CIA contract pilot named David Ferrie, in the late summer of 1963, three months before the assassination. In the audience were actual witnesses, including the barber who cut Oswald's hair.

That the Warren Report could so flagrantly lie, and present itself as a homicide investigation, while doing virtually no investigation at all - neither Clay Shaw nor David Ferrie were interviewed, inspiring Jim Garrison's quip, "they didn't call anyone who WAS involved" - has resulted in other Presidential Commissions taking similar liberties with the truth.

I wrote an op-ed piece comparing the deliberate ignoring of crucial information by the 9/11 Commission with a similar failure to investigate a key lead by the Warren Commission. It began with the information released by Lieutenant Colonel in Army intelligence Tony Shaffer that the Able Danger intelligence unit had identified Mohammed Atta and other accused hijackers as part of a cell of Al Qaeda operating in the United States at least a year before 9/11. Colonel Shaffer had wanted this information to go immediately to the FBI only for Defense Department lawyers to forbid Able Danger from contacting the Bureau.

The "New York Times" buried this extraordinary information two-thirds of the way into the paper. The "Washington Post" ran a Pentagon denial.

"Information has to get out, and I think we have to account for why some of these things weren't looked at as part of the overall report," Colonel Shaffer said on NPR.

Shaffer then revealed something else: he had presented the findings of the Able Danger team to Philip Zelikow, that same executive staff director of the 9/11 Commission who has defended the recent attacks on Jim Garrison as a dupe of the KGB! Zelikow saw to it that the Able Danger information never appeared in the 9/11 Commission Report, and went on to deny that he was given the information. He now works on the staff of Condeleeza Rice.

One might ask: could Zelikow and company have gotten away with denying the reality of a cover-up of vital information about 9/11 if we had demanded the truth from the Warren Commission? I sent my Op Ed piece, "9/11 and 11/22," to 34 newspapers. Only one would print it, the "Key West Citizen."

What has all this to do with the Kennedy assassination per se? I'm suggesting that demanding the truth about the Kennedy assassination, even at this late date, is a step toward restoring our basic freedoms. The discourse needs to go even further than point to who planned and implemented the crime. Was the CIA acting alone on its own behalf? Whose interests did the Agency serve in 1963 - because the CIA eviscerated by George W. Bush was a very different institution from the Agency that waged war against President Kennedy?

The discussion of who rules America might begin with President Eisenhower's heroic warning against a military-industrial (and we need, of course, to add national security) complex. "We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes," President Eisenhower added. He cut the military budget as soon as he took office; he didn't believe the U.S. should be a militarized nation. The CIA, the research reveals, sabotaged President Eisenhower's effort to achieve détente with the Soviets in the final year of his presidency through the downing of Francis Gary Powers' U-2 overflight into the Soviet Union. President Eisenhower had a good definition of "National Security." He said "national security" meant that the country was proceeding in peace and without a deficit.

Jim Garrison often asked during his investigation: Cui Bono? Who benefits? A friend of mine living near "Langley Forks" in Virginia pointed out to me some interesting connections. The Texas School Book Depository, from which some, but not all, of the shots were fired on November 22, 1963, was owned by one D. H. Byrd. Byrd also founded and was the commander of the Southwest post of the Civil Air Patrol, which included Louisiana and the troop led by David Ferrie, among whose cadets was Lee Harvey Oswald.

In November, 1963, one of Byrd's companies, LTV, a major defense contractor, was almost bankrupt. Defense contracts flowing from the Vietnam War changed that, and by 1968 the stock had increased geometrically in value. Meanwhile we know that President Kennedy opposed vehemently a protracted ground war, and that as soon as he was dead, Lyndon Johnson dispatched thousands of troops to Vietnam.

Among Byrd's associates was a man named Neil Mallon, the skull and bones classmate of Prescott Bush. Mallon headed a company called Dresser Industries, and it was Dresser that sent George H. W. Bush, his friend Prescott's son, west to Texas in 1949. It was for Mallon that the first President Bush named one of his sons. Mallon built Byrd's barite plant in Mexico, barite a product involved in oil drilling.

Dresser Industries was bought by Halliburton in 1998, and at that time the Kellogg subsidiary of Dresser became part of Brown and Root. Brown and Root itself had been bought by Halliburton in 1962. It is less well known that Brown and Root profited not only from the war in Iraq, but first from Vietnam. Having recognized the role of Brown and Root, and discovering that George Brown was a CIA asset (as the CIA's own released documents confirm), Jim Garrison hoped to investigate Brown's role.

Was the CIA acting on behalf of President Eisenhower's military-industrial complex? As a matter for further research, the intelligence connections of the Bushes date from before the very founding of the CIA: the Agency's mandate was outlined in 1946 by Robert A. Lovett, who was a partner of Prescott Bush at Brown Brothers Harriman.

Not least, as readers of the "Nation" magazine know, after the Kennedy assassination, the FBI was enlisted to brief CIA asset George Bush, THE George Bush, and not a low-level man in the Agency by the same name, as was at first claimed, on the reaction of the Miami anti-Castro community to the event.

To the general observation that the CIA represented the interests of the oil-defense industries, and the Pentagon, must be added another motive for the involvement of the CIA in the assassination. Almost from the moment Kennedy took office, a conflict raged between the President and the CIA. Once Kennedy refused to be blackmailed by the CIA into a full-scale invasion of Cuba at the time of the Bay of Pigs, de Gaulle's "intra-administration war" erupted. The clandestine service of the CIA pushed for an invasion of Cuba. President Kennedy declined, and went on to fire the Director of Central Intelligence, Allen Dulles, who re-emerges as the central figure at the Warren Commission.

Throughout Kennedy's brief presidency, the CIA treated him as an enemy. They withheld information, which included details about the Soviet missiles in Cuba. Also concealed from President Kennedy were the CIA's continuing assassinations and attempted assassinations of foreign leaders.

John F. Kennedy, in turn, sought to reign in the CIA, and to limit the scope of its activities, including reducing the powers of the Director of Central Intelligence. He intended to transfer the overflight U-2 program from the CIA to the Strategic Air Command. He intended to cut the CIA budget. He sent, I discovered, Richard Goodwin down to No-Name Key to ask the Soldiers of Fortune training there to take over Radio Swan, the CIA radio station, on behalf of the President. They declined. Kennedy threatened the existence of the Agency as they knew themselves.

Richard Reeves, in his very honest biography of John F. Kennedy, quotes the President repeating over and over again: "I've got to do something about those CIA bastards," and "Those CIA bastards. I'm going to get those bastards if it's the last thing I ever do." It was the persistent refrain of the Kennedy presidency.

The current President has also had his conflicts with the CIA. He, however, has espoused the very policy favored by the CIA under President Kennedy, the relentless pursuit of foreign wars. To achieve his end, that war in Iraq, no matter what lie he had to tell to implement it, George W. Bush had to do what Kennedy knew he had to do as well: eviscerate the CIA. So the disinformation was spread that the CIA had fallen down on the job.

In fact, the CIA had reported accurately about the situation in Iraq, and this before the Iraq War. CIA noted that an invasion of Iraq was likely to lead to civil war; the CIA reported that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Rather than give up his war, the President undercut the CIA.

Then Bush attempted to subvert the CIA further by claiming that the CIA had endorsed what it had not, but which fit his projected policy. He claimed that the CIA had told him first that there WERE weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Then he said CIA had been wrong. Neither claim was true. The outcome was the subordination of the clandestine services, and of the Agency itself, so that the CIA director no longer enjoys a daily briefing with the President, and is subordinate to a new Director of National Intelligence, whom the President can control.

We should not be surprised that the National Security Agency, empowered only to spy on foreign agents abroad, is spying on US instead. Research into the Kennedy assassination reveals that although the CIA was supposedly created to deal with foreign threats, the CIA operated together with the FBI in the cover-up of the Kennedy assassination. Documents reveal that this mutual cooperation dates from the moment of the founding of the CIA. In Louisiana, the sabotage of Garrison's investigation was led by the CIA, operating beyond its mandate, domestically.

Let me return to some details of what Jim Garrison accomplished. As Garrison once quipped about the supposed "lone assassin," Lee Harvey Oswald, in fact, Oswald was virtually NEVER alone. Moreover, he was not involved with anyone who was NOT connected to the CIA. Oswald was an FBI informant, Garrison learned from Louisiana representative Hale Boggs, a member of the Warren Commission, defying Allen Dulles' demand that everyone be silent about this fact. It was this single piece of information that in 1965 led Jim Garrison to resume his investigation begun in 1963.

I discovered a conversation that Garrison did not know about. At the First District police station, where Oswald was taken after he was arrested for a disturbance when he was handing out his pro-Castro leaflets, he requested of Lieutenant Francis Martello of the New Orleans police that Martello call the FBI field office. "Call the FBI," Oswald ordered Martello imperiously. "Tell them you have Lee Oswald in custody." Oswald asked that Special Agent Warren de Brueys come down to see him. Obviously, Oswald was someone the New Orleans field office of the FBI knew well.

The Agent on duty that night, John Quigley, then asked a young clerk named William Walter, the person who took Martello's call, to check all the files, locked and unlocked, for what they had on Oswald. On one file jacket, in the locked filing cabinet of the Special Agent in Charge, where security files were kept, were two names, Lee Oswald and Warren de Brueys. To this day, Mr. de Brueys denies that he ever knew Oswald. I called him just before my book was published on the pretext of spelling his name correctly: was that a capital "d" or not? Mr. de Brueys amazed me by remarking, after forty years you wouldn't be a very intelligent person if you didn't change your mind about things. This statement might not hold up in court, but I accepted it as a confession for history.

Oswald had also been part of the CIA Counter Intelligence false defector program. Oswald, I found new evidence to show, worked also for U.S. Customs in New Orleans, as many CIA people worked for Customs. One Customs officer told the Church Committee, "I've waited ten years for someone to talk to me" regarding what he knew about Oswald.

Garrison began by exploring Oswald's government connections. He indicted Clay Shaw for participating in the conspiracy, without having access to the government records released under that JFK Act, an extraordinary development we're not likely to witness again any time soon, records that establish that Shaw was a CIA operative.

By shepherding Oswald around Louisiana, Shaw was repaying the CIA for considerable favors rendered. Because Shaw was acquitted, Jim Garrison chose as the title of his third book, "A Farewell to Justice." He never used that title, and so I appropriated it. Lillian Hellman taught a course to writing students at Harvard called "Stealing." It was bad to imitate, but fine to "steal" from authors you admired, so long as you made their strategies your own. Garrison's ambition was to be an author. He was no stranger to Shakespeare, nor to novelists like Graham Greene, and of course Hemingway.

Part of my book includes how federal agencies worked actively to thwart Garrison's investigation. Garrison was astonished that the FBI refused to cooperate with New Orleans law enforcement in an investigation of the Kennedy assassination. In fact, FBI director J. Edgar Hoover subverted Garrison's effort. Witnesses came forward to the FBI, believing that in providing the FBI with information, they were simultaneously reaching the district attorney.

"Give Garrison nothing!" Hoover wrote to all special agents in charge, adding, in reference to the Special Agent in Charge in New Orleans, Robert Rightmyer: "Tell Rightmyer that I want him and all personnel in New Orleans to keep their mouths shut!" This was February 1967, a week after Jim Garrison's investigation became public.

Bobby Kennedy's right-hand man, Walter Sheridan, had spearheaded the blackmail, bribery and wiretapping that accomplished the conviction of Jimmy Hoffa. The evidence of Walter Sheridan's illegalities in the railroading of Jimmy Hoffa is chronicled in Fred Cook's three part series in the "Nation" magazine. A further irony is that Chief Justice Earl Warren, enlisted by Lyndon Johnson to rubber-stamp the preordained conclusion that Oswald murdered President Kennedy, wrote what seems to me to be a brilliant dissent when the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the Hoffa conviction.

Bobby Kennedy then sent Sheridan to New Orleans, as Sheridan freely admitted, to "destroy" Jim Garrison. That same National Security Agency spying on American citizens today spawned Walter Sheridan, who was also cleared for service with the FBI and CIA. Sheridan personally telephoned the governors of several states to ensure that Garrison's subpoenaed witnesses not be extradited back to the state of Louisiana. Not a single witness was returned to New Orleans.

In the recent attacks on Jim Garrison may be found the preposterous notion that the only reason Garrison focused on the CIA was that he was the victim of KGB propaganda flowing from an Italian newspaper, "Paese Sera." This total falsehood has been defended by Philip Zelikow, the executive director of the 9/11 Commission. One of the half-dozen anti-Garrison articles appeared, not surprisingly, on the CIA's own web site, "Studies in Intelligence."

As a biographer, among the questions I asked was: did Jim Garrison take bribes from executives profiting from pinball machine gambling (then illegal in Orleans Parish), for which he was charged by the federal government? Was Jim Garrison dishonest? The new documents reveal that after Shaw's acquittal, after he perjured himself, and suborned perjury, Garrison was ready to continue his investigation, only for that same operative, Walter Sheridan, to return to New Orleans and blackmail Garrison's friend and former chief investigator, Pershing Gervais.

Would Gervais not help them to nail Garrison for taking bribes from pinball gambling interests, Gervais would go to jail for eight years (the document is that specific) for income tax fraud. So we see in this story, the mutual cooperation of agencies: the FBI helping the CIA, the IRS enlisted by the National Security Agency and the CIA. Years later, on the occasion of Oliver Stone's film, "JFK," Anthony Lewis wrote in the "New York Times" that Garrison had taken bribes. In fact, Garrison had been acquitted. The bribes were indeed going to a "big man" at Tulane and Broad, but it was not six foot six inch Jim Garrison, but Chief of Police, Joseph Giarrusso.

Addressing a frequent attempt to discredit Jim Garrison, I also had to ask: was Garrison tied to the Mafia? Did he blame the CIA for the assassination as a way of protecting the Mafia? I learned that Carlos Marcello, the Mafia chieftain of Louisiana and Texas, despised Garrison and wanted him out of office. Garrison was "unreliable," Marcello complained to Governor John J. McKeithen, whose assistant, John Tarver, relayed this to me. (McKeithen himself did take bribes from Marcello by the way. John R. Rarick ran against McKeithen in 1968 and the Marcello people talked to Rarick's campaign manager, who refused a $50,000 contribution from Marcello. Marcello's man was incredulous. "Big John took his," he said).

The final chapter of my book, entitled "Rabbi," reflects my interviews with a person who was involved in setting up the assassination, a man named Thomas Edward Beckham. It describes his CIA training at a facility in Virginia. Beckham presented me with a government document which describes him as a man who would feel no guilt about killing. This phrase matches in language documents released by the Church Committee describing the assassins hired by the CIA in their assassination attempts against foreign leaders: Lumumba, Trujillo, Diem, and, of course, Fidel Castro.

Beckham had been subjected to a polygraph by the New Orleans police in the late 1970s: when Robert Blakey and Gary Cornwell, who headed the House Select Committee on Assassinations, discovered this, the Louisiana investigators were suspended for conducting a polygraph without authorization. The CIA controlled that investigation as it did the Warren Commission. My favorite anecdote concerns the moment when former Justice Arthur Goldberg was asked to head the Committee after Philadelphia prosecutor Richard A. Sprague was fired. Knowing that the CIA held the truth about the assassination, Goldberg telephoned the Director of Central Intelligence, Stansfield Turner, and asked whether, should he take the job, he would be given full CIA cooperation. His question was met by silence.

Goldberg persisted. He posed his question again. Only then did Turner reply, "I thought my silence was my answer." Goldberg did not take the job.

My final question came at my last interview, in Miami in June of 2005. It was one that also perplexed Jim Garrison: why did Bobby Kennedy try to sabotage his investigation? I interviewed a Cuban close to Robert Kennedy, who revealed that Robert Kennedy had Oswald under surveillance in New Orleans during the summer of 1963.

Like Professor Schlesinger, Robert Kennedy looked first to the CIA for responsibility in the murder of his brother. On the day of the assassination, Bobby confronted John McCone, the Director of Central Intelligence, with this question: "Did the CIA kill my brother?" He told Harry Ruiz Williams, one of the Cubans working for him, confirming his prior awareness of Oswald, "One of your guys did it!" and it was not a question, but a statement.

Wanting to be certain, Bobby sent that same Walter Sheridan to Dallas to find out if the Mafia had planned the crime. They had not. Bobby also asked a Mafia-connected Chicago lawyer, Julius Draznin, who worked for the NLRB, the same question. The answer, as Draznin reported to Walter Sheridan, was that the assassination was not a Mafia hit. Years later, Sheridan would testify under oath that the Mafia was behind the assassination!

It was in the circles of the anti-Castro movement that Bobby Kennedy directed his attention, his aim to protect the life of his brother from some Cuban still furious about the Bay of Pigs. His other aim was to "neutralize" Fidel Castro. Since the Church Committee hearings, newspapers have reported on Operation MONGOOSE, the CIA-Mafia plots to assassinate Fidel Castro. Bobby Kennedy's separate efforts have been less widely publicized.

It was in this Miami research that I discovered my parallel between the cover-up by the 9/11 Commission of the Able Danger information and a similar set of facts that faced the Warren Commission in its closing days. It reveals information that bears upon why Robert F. Kennedy was nervous about Jim Garrison's investigation, and about any investigation of his brother's death. This began at the Bethesda autopsy; one of the doctors, Pierre Finck, testified for the defense in New Orleans at State of Louisiana v. Clay Shaw that the Kennedy family had requested that the trajectory of the President's wounds not be examined.

"If my brother were killed," Garrison said, "I would be interested in getting the individuals involved, no matter who they were." Garrison made this statement on national television, exasperated by the persistent question by news people: if you're on the right track, why isn't Bobby Kennedy helping you?"

Late in its deliberations, the Warren Commission discovered that Lee Harvey Oswald had visited a Cuban exile and former law student named Sylvia Odio in Dallas in late September 1963. During the weekend of the assassination, Mrs. Odio and her sister Annie both at once identified Oswald as the man who had visited her in the presence of two Cubans, whom Sylvia has yet to identify.

Mrs. Odio testified before the Warren Commission. She said that the day after that visit, one of the Cubans had telephoned her and in the course of the conversation remarked that "Leon Oswald" had said, "President Kennedy should have been assassinated after the Bay of Pigs and some Cubans should have done thatit's so easy to do it," indicating both foreknowledge of the assassination and that Oswald was being set up. The Warren Commission never adequately investigated this information - they certainly didn't call "Leopoldo," just as the 9/11 Commission didn't feel obliged to investigate the Able Danger documents.

The Warren Commission's chief counsel, J. Lee Rankin, expressed irritation at the very suggestion that Sylvia Odio's story should be fully investigated, muttering, "we are supposed to be closing doors, not opening them." Years later, Rankin was bitter that the FBI and CIA had concealed vital information from the Warren Commission. Deposed in the late 1970s by the House Select Committee on Assassinations, Rankin admitted that he regretted that he had taken the CIA's word that Oswald "was never a CIA agent."

Invited to ask if he had anything further to say, Rankin had a question for the lawyers and committee members in the room. Was the HSCA investigating whether the people involved in the CIA cover-up were involved in the assassination as well? He received the identical response Arthur Goldberg had: silence.

The Warren Commission lacked a context in which to evaluate the incident of Oswald visiting Sylvia Odio because the FBI and CIA both, on the instruction of Chief of Counter Intelligence James Angleton concealed the CIA's history of attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro, now a matter of public record.

In my pursuit of the question of why Bobby Kennedy tried to sabotage Jim Garrison's investigation - Garrison used the word "torpedo" - I studied the minutes of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board and the Church Committee papers (the 25 per cent that are open to the public). I tried to interview Cubans who worked closely with the Attorney General. This is some of what I discovered.

Bobby Kennedy had assembled a team of anti-Castro Cubans. One, Manolo Reboso, is now living in Nicaragua, having married into the wealthy Somoza family. Another, Manuel Artime, is dead. But I did locate a man named Angelo Murgado, a man so devoted to the Kennedys that, at his citizenship hearing, he changed his name from "Murgado" to "Kennedy" in homage to a person whom he admired, Bobby Kennedy.

Angelo told me that Bobby's instructions to his special team were twofold. One aim was to find a means of getting rid of Fidel Castro. Bobby's other aim was to protect his brother. He sent these Cubans to New Orleans. Moving among, as Angelo put it, "Castro's agents, double agents, and Cubans working for the CIA," they hoped to "neutralize" a future assassin. You can deduce what he meant by "neutralize."

In New Orleans, Angelo Murgado ran into Lee Harvey Oswald, who was moving among the anti-Castro community. He put Oswald under surveillance. When I mentioned that I had discovered Oswald's acquaintance with an anti-Castro Cuban named Juan Valdes, who worked at Clay Shaw's International Trade Mart, Angelo was dubious. How could that be? He knew everyone Oswald was acquainted with, and he didn't know of this man. That's how close to Oswald they drew.

Scrutinizing Oswald, and reporting back to Bobby, his team discovered that Oswald was an informant for the FBI. Learning this, Bobby reasoned, "If the FBI is controlling him, he's no problem." Bobby underestimated the role Oswald had been induced to play in the plans to murder of his brother and ceased to make him a major target of his concern. Bobby knew "something was cooking in New Orleans," Angelo Murgado told me. But Bobby urged "caution." He was out of his depth.

In September, it was Angelo and a fellow veteran of the Bay of Pigs who traveled from New Orleans to Dallas to visit Sylvia Odio. Angelo believed they were there to marshal help for their anti-Castro efforts, and talked about buying arms to support an anti-Castro movement within Cuba. Mrs. Odio's father, in jail in Cuba, headed a liberal organization called JURE, its position, "Fidelismo sin Fidel." Angelo believed he could trust his companion, referred to in the Warren Report as "Leopoldo," because not only was he a fellow veteran of the Bay of Pigs, but his brother was running for Mayor of Miami. He was respectable.

The next day, out of Angelo's hearing, "Leopoldo" phoned Mrs. Odio to tell her how "Leon" Oswald had talked about the need to murder President Kennedy. "Leon is kind of nuts," Leopoldo stated, setting up Oswald as the patsy. Oswald's mental imbalance forms the conclusion of the Warren Report, and Oswald was called "Leon" a number of times, not least at a gathering at David Ferrie's apartment where Clay Shaw and Ferrie, Garrison's chief suspects, discussed what their alibis would be for November 22nd. At Sylvia Odio's, Angelo used his true given name. "Leopoldo" was an alias.

Placing Oswald in the company of so close an associate of Bobby Kennedy, in an incident that points to foreknowledge of the assassination as well as the framing of Oswald, created the trap that would silence Bobby forever. Bobby asked his aide, Frank Mankiewicz whether "any of our people were involved," and, Mankiewicz told me, he had asked himself, did you think there might be?

Angelo, meanwhile, had been betrayed by a companion he believed he could trust, a man not so much assigned to the overthrow of Fidel Castro, as Angelo believed, as he was enlisted to arrange for Oswald to be blamed for the murder of the President.

"Leopoldo" was a Cuban named Bernardo de Torres. A virtual flood of documents reveals that he was an asset of both the CIA and military intelligence. When he was subpoenaed before the House Select Committee, CIA arrived on the day he was deposed to insist that de Torres be granted immunity. The CIA so totally controlled that Committee that they agreed to the CIA demand that de Torres not be questioned about the period of time leading up to the Kennedy assassination. Both the Warren Commission and the HSCA buried what they knew about Oswald's participation in ANTI-Castro activities, information that would have led directly to the role of the CIA in the assassination.

I believe that we are now suffering the consequences of allowing lies about what happened to President Kennedy to remain unchallenged. The consequence of the public not demanding that the murder of the head of state be properly investigated has led directly to the current undermining of the integrity of our democratic institutions, not least the press. An obvious consequence of the obfuscations of the Warren Commission and the House Select Committee both has been the ease with which the 9/11 Commission was able to conceal important truths.

I wrote my book to make a small contribution to the need for government accountability and openness because what is at stake, to be a bit grandiose, is democracy itself.

I'll close with a line by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., from a sermon a year before his death: "No lie can forever."

Bill thanks for posting this.

I was at Joan's talk that night. What struck me as a middle aged social studies teacher was GOOD ATTENDANCE. The joint was ecumenically packed! It was a cold weekday night in january, and WITH ALMOST NO AD BUDGET, AND WITH A NO NAME PUBLISHER THE TOPIC OF THE KENNEDY ASSASSINATION AND THE CIA WAS ABLE TO PACK A THREE THOUSAND SEAT AUDITORIUM TO THE BRIM. This showed me that curiosity bellow the radar is quite alive, and the radar itself -- i.e. media disinformation-- might be the enemy.

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  • 9 years later...

A Farewell to Justice -- A Review

by Jim DiEugenio

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[...]

At times [Mellen] adapts an omniscient viewpoint. On page 98, she has Banister employee Bill Nitschke looking at a picture of a Cuban who he identifies as Manuel [Garcia] Gonzalez. [Whom Garrison thought was "The Mexican".] She then writes, "He was in fact looking at a photograph of longtime CIA operative David Sanchez Morales." The problems here are that 1) She does not reference the photo 2) She does not footnote the conversation so we can crosscheck it 3) She does not indicate the evidence for her being right and Garrison being wrong about the photo identification 4) Morales never came up in the Garrison inquiry. (Morales' nickname, "El Indio," did come up but we do not know that it applied to Morales in this context, or if the photo was of him.) Perhaps the assertion is correct, but it would need more backup than she provides.

[...]

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Posted with permission (by Jim's former co-writer Lisa Pease)

Dawn

* * *

[emphasis added by T. Graves]

I just now came across the above.

It's interesting to me because I believe I've located David Sanchez Morales, in the 8/09/63 Jim Doyle film, monitoring Oswald in New Orleans.

Could Garrison have confused Gonzalez's nickname "El Toro" for Morales' moniker "El Indio"?

At one point in his WC testimony, Dean Andrews said "The Mexican" was about the same height as Oswald.

I've read somewhere that Oswald was 5' 9.5"

Morales was 5' 10" ...

Andrews also said that "The Mexican" weighed 160 - 165 pounds and was "stocky." The problem is, 5' 10" and 160 - 165 pounds is not "stocky." But 220 pounds on that frame would be very "stocky."

Morales was 5' 10" tall and weighed 220 pounds in 1961, when he was 36 years old ...

https://www.maryferr...geId=2&tab=page

We know that Andrew's gave varying descriptions of "Clay Bertrand." So we know that Andrews was not averse to lying under oath.

In order to protect his own life, I think Andrews lied about "The Mexican's" age and weight, but was telling the truth about his height.

I seriously doubt that Mellen made up the story about Nitschke's looking at a photo of Morales (which Garrison apparently was showing him.

Edited by Thomas Graves
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