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Garrison’s Case

THAT THERE IS a lot more evidence seems likely. Garrison had been investigating Ferrie for months before his death in February. NBC stated that Shaw was a suspect as early as October 1966, at the time Garrison began his investigation. Shaw was questioned in December. Thus long before late February and early March when Bundy and Russo turned up as witnesses, Garrison had reasons for suspecting Ferrie and Shaw. Some of them are suggested in a bill of particulars which Garrison submitted to Judge Haggerty on June 5. This included a list of some of the acts allegedly committed by the conspirators, evidence of which Garrison now claims to have.

Besides the meeting described by Russo, Garrison has alleged that Shaw went to Baton Rouge on September 3, 1963, “there meeting Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby at the Capitol House Hotel and delivering to Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby a sum of money.” Shaw’s trip to the West Coast in November 1963 and Ferrie’s from New Orleans to Houston on November 22, 1963 are also alleged to be conspiratorial acts. How strong the evidence is we will only be able to tell when the case goes to court. From the conversations Jones Harris and I have had with Garrison and his staff, there appear to be further leads and reports that may constitute material evidence at a future trial. The record of Garrison’s office in successfully prosecuting crimes is impressive. Their success in convicting Andrews and convincing New Orleans judges and the Orleans Parish Grand Jury on matters relating to their assassination probe indicates that they have had sufficient legal evidence at each step. So at this stage of the affair there does not seem to be good cause for concluding that there is no evidence, and no case.

In the June 1967 Ramparts, William Turner, who is close to Garrison, described in some detail the kinds of suggestive evidence there may be. He names, for example, a Dallas cab driver “who is prepared to testify he twice drove Oswald to Ruby’s Carousel Club, once in the company of David Ferrie.” He indicates Garrison has been following out the “Second Oswald” theory, especially in connection with the account of Mrs. Odio, who told the Warren Commission that “Leon” Oswald and two others visited her in late September 1963 in Dallas, and wanted her to finance the assassination of Castro or Kennedy.

Is Garrison’s theory of the assassination plausible? He has indicated he believes the assassination was planned and carried out by a group of anti-Castroites, who were based in New Orleans and involved with the CIA in their Cuban activities. They were hostile to Kennedy because of his decisions to limit the Bay of Pigs invasion and his later policies after the missiles crisis, including guarantees against an invasion of Cuba. The group in question, Garrison has claimed, included Shaw, Ferrie, Oswald, Ruby, and others.

As one who is skeptical of the Warren Commission theory, I believe that if Oswald had been involved in a conspiracy his involvement must have predated his trip to Mexico City on September 25, 1963. One must therefore go back to his New Orleans period. Last year in The Second Oswald I suggested, “Maybe some right-wing Cubans involved him [Oswald] in a plot when he was in New Orleans.” The patently spurious nature of Oswald’s Fair Play for Cuba activities in New Orleans indicates he was engaged in something abnormal or unusual. The Warren Commission’s view of him in this period was that he was a frustrated leftist “loner,” unable to hold a job, unable to go to Russia or Cuba, and unable to get along with his wife. This picture does not fit the strange and fraudulent nature of Oswald’s leftist activities: he created a branch of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, had FPCC membership cards and leaflets printed, distributed the leaflets, and carried on a correspondence with the national FPCC office giving false details of his branch’s activities, while in fact the FPCC branch had only one member, Oswald, and never held a meeting. He compiled a dossier for the Cuban embassy in Mexico City, apparently trying to interpret all the information about what he was doing as proof of his leftist credentials.

The Warren Commission picture also does not jibe with information suggesting that Oswald was friendly with various right-wing Cuban exiles. Evaristo Rodriguez and Orest Pena testified to the Warren Commission that they saw Oswald in a bar with a Latin type in August 1963. The Report (p. 325) tried to discredit their testimony, even though both men are certain it was Oswald, and that they recognized him at once when they saw his picture in the papers after the assassination (11:33964). Pena’s bar was a hangout for Cuban exiles, and Pena himself had been active in the anti-Castro organization run by Sergio Arcacha Smith, a well-known figure in anti-Castro circles in the Southwest. Oswald used the address of this organization on some of his leaflets, a fact the Warren Commission could never explain. Pena had also been friendly with Carlos Bringuier, a Cuban exile leader whom Oswald had visited, and whose store is near Pena’s bar. Bringuier was the man who later got into a fight with Oswald for which they were both arrested, and who still later debated Oswald on radio about Cuban affairs.

Even more interesting, and perhaps more central to Garrison’s investigation, is the information given by Dean Andrews which is cited in the Warren Commission Report. Andrews reported to the FBI on November 24, 1963, that during the late spring and early summer of 1963 Oswald came into his law office to discuss his wife’s citizenship problems and his own dishonorable discharge from the armed forces.” The “friendless” Oswald was accompanied on these visits once by a Mexican and at other times by Latin homosexuals. Andrews said he last saw Oswald when he was passing out pro-Castro leaflets on the street. They talked; Andrews demanded his fee, and Oswald told him he was being paid to give out the leaflets. Around 4 P.M. November 23, Andrews reported, a man he knew slightly, Clay Bertrand, telephoned him and asked him to defend Oswald. Andrews was in the hospital at this time, and after he left he tried to locate the records of his relations with Oswald and Bertrand, but could not do so. (His office had been rifled shortly after he got back to work.) The FBI and the Secret Service could find no trace of Bertrand and nothing about him in Andrews’s records.

Andrews later retracted some of his story, saying that FBI agents were on him “like the plague”; but he repeated the original version under oath to the Warren Commission’s counsel, J. Wesley Liebeler, in an apparently antagonistic interview—antagonistic both because of Andrew’s very special argot and because of his complete disbelief in the Warren Commission theory (11:325-339). In this interview, Andrews added that he had recently seen Clay Bertrand in a bar, but Bertrand ran away. Andrews gave Liebeler detailed descriptions of Bertrand. The Warren Commission chose not to believe his story and its implications that Oswald, “the loner,” had a Mexican friend, that he had homosexual companions, and that he had a protector in “Bertrand” from the very beginning. However, they had ample corroboration of Andrews’s story. On December 6, 1963, Andrews’s assistant, R. M. Davis, told the FBI that in June of that year Andrews had discussed with him the problem of changing a dishonorable discharge. He also told them that Oswald’s picture was vaguely familiar to him, that Oswald may have visited the office. “In addition, he [Davis] can recall Andrews having mentioned to him on various occasions that an individual named Oswald had been to Andrews’s office” (Commission Exhibit 2900, 26: 357). Moreover Andrews’s secretary told the FBI that Andrews had called her at about 4 P.M. on November 23 “and told her that he was representing Lee Harvey Oswald in Dallas Texas.” The next day Andrews told her Bertrand had hired him (Commission Exhibit 2901, 26:357). Andrews also called his own lawyer, Monk Zelden, and asked him if he would go to Dallas to see Oswald. It was from Zelden that Andrews learned that Oswald was dead.

All of this seems to confirm Andrews’s original story. If this story is true, then Oswald is not the man portrayed by the Warren Commission. He had friends among the Latin community. He was involved with homosexuals. And somebody of some importance was interested in his welfare after Kennedy had been assassinated. All of this bears no resemblance to the Warren Commission’s description of Oswald’s life in New Orleans. If one takes Andrews’s story seriously, then Oswald’s New Orleans period certainly should be reinvestigated.

NOW THAT Andrews has been convicted of perjury it becomes all the more important to understand his strange behavior. As we have seen, he has again and again changed his story about Clay Bertrand, first describing him to the Warren Commission, then denying to the Grand Jury that he could recognize him, then identifying him as Eugene Davis. At the recent trial a recording was introduced in which Andrews stated he was looking for three people—Clay Bertrand, the Mexican who came into his office with Oswald, and the man who killed Kennedy, and that he had found two of them! He had told the Grand Jury that he did not know who killed Kennedy. One reason for his reluctance to identify Bertrand seems to be a fear of physical violence which he has made clear to reporters. “How would you like to have your brains knocked out and be busted down to your toes?” he told the States-Item on June 29.

In any case, the core of Andrews’s original story—that Oswald was his client and had both homosexual friends and an important protector—is not affected by Andrews’s recent and future trials. His recent trial and conviction established all the more strongly that he does know who Bertrand is, and suggest that he is shielding someone, the person who wanted to help Oswald after the assassination, and who presumably knew that Oswald was involved with Latins.

It is puzzling that Andrews has repeatedly insisted that he “invented” a character named Manuel Garcia Gonzales, whom Garrison has been investigating. Andrews said this on the NBC program, has it in his recusal motion, and kept bringing this up during the hearing on the motion. In doing this, he seems to be trying to discredit Garrison’s methods and theories; perhaps he again fears the consequences of identifying a man he once named. Garrison has suggested that Gonzales not only exists, but was a key figure in the conspiracy, possibly a gunman; that he appeared with Oswald at various times, and may be the person who was photographed while passing out leaflets with Oswald at the trade mart in New Orleans. Garrison has a gun which the police took from a Manuel Garcia Gonzales, and the defense at the Shaw hearings had the US immigration files on “Garcia Manuel Gonzales” and “Manuel Garcia Gonzales” introduced into the court record. Garrison has obtained a Grand Jury Indictment of Gonzales and is now seeking him for arrest.

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