Category Archives: Criminals & Accomplices

Colonia Dignidad

The Torture Colony

In a remote part of Chile, an evil German evangelist built a utopia whose members helped the Pinochet regime perform its foulest deeds

By Bruce Falconer, American Scholar, n.d.

Deep in the Andean foothills of Chile’s central valley lives a group of German expatriates, the members of a utopian experiment called Colonia Dignidad. They have resided there for decades, separate from the community around them, but widely known and admired, and respected for their cleanliness, their wealth, and their work ethic. Their land stretches across 70 square miles, rising gently from irrigated farmland to low, forested hills, against a backdrop of snowcapped mountains. Today Colonia Dignidad is partially integrated with the rest of Chile. For decades, however, its isolation was nearly complete. Its sole connection to the outside world was a long dirt road that wound through tree farms and fields of wheat, corn, and soybeans, passed through a guarded gate, and led to the center of the property, where the Germans lived in an orderly Bavarian-style village of flower gardens, water fountains, and cream-colored buildings with orange tile roofs. The village had modern apartment complexes, two schools, a chapel, several meetinghouses, and a bakery that produced fresh cakes, breads, and cheeses. There were numerous animal stables, two landing strips, at least one airplane, a hydroelectric power station, and mills and factories of various kinds, including a highly profitable gravel mill that supplied raw materials for numerous road-building projects throughout Chile. On the north side of the village was a hospital, where the Germans provided free care to thousands of patients in one of the country’s poorest areas.

All this was made possible by one man, a charismatic, Evangelical preacher named Paul Schaefer, who founded the community and who, until several years ago, remained very much in charge. Tall, lean, and of strong build, with thin gray hair and a glass eye, Schaefer lived most of his adult life in Chile but possessed only a rudimentary knowledge of Spanish; like his followers, he spoke primarily in German. Although the colonos of Colonia Dignidad dressed in traditional German peasant clothes—the men in wool pants and suspenders, the women in homemade dresses and headscarves—Schaefer wore newer, more modern clothes that denoted his stature. His manner was serious; he seldom smiled. The effect only deepened the sense of mystery that surrounded him.

Few outsiders ever gained access to the Colonia while its reclusive leader remained in power. An old Chilean newsreel, however, filmed at Schaefer’s invitation in 1981, provides a rare picture of life inside the community, a utopia in full and happy bloom. The footage shows a bucolic paradise of sunshine and verdant fields set among clean, fast-flowing rivers and snowy peaks. Its German inhabitants improve the land and work their trades. A carpenter assembles a new chair for the Colonia’s school. A woman in a white apron bakes German-style torts and pastries in the kitchen. Teenaged boys clear a new field for planting. Children laugh and splash in a lake. Schaefer himself, wearing a white suit and brown aviator sunglasses, takes the camera crew on a tour. Standing next to the Colonia’s flour mill, he extols the quality of German machinery. “We bought this mill in Europe,” he says in broken Spanish. “It is 60 years old, but we have not had to do any repairs on it.” Even today, this remains one of the only known recordings of his voice. It is crisp and baritone. Back outside, Schaefer leads the television crew to a petting zoo, where the reporter feeds chunks of bread to baby deer and plays with the colonos’ collection of pet owls. The newsreel concludes with a performance by a 15-piece chamber orchestra composed of young, female colonos in flowing white skirts and colorful blouses. The music is beautiful and expertly played.

These images were a reflection of Colonia Dignidad as Schaefer wanted it to be seen. Today, a quarter century later, with Schaefer gone and his utopia open to visitors for the first time, it looks much the same. On a recent trip to Chile, I made the four-hour drive south from Santiago. The village remains an oasis of German tidiness, with blooming flower gardens and perfectly tended copses of willows and pines. As I walked through it, there were very few people on the streets, and those I encountered smiled politely, then quickly retreated indoors. They did not invite conversation. I was reminded of what a Chilean friend, a journalist, had told me as I prepared for my visit. “You will get the uneasy feeling of crossing into some sort of twilight zone,” he had said. “You will see the way they dress, their haircuts. It’s like going back in time to Germany in the 1940s. Even though it is easier to talk to the colonos than it was a few years ago, things are still a long way from being ‘normal.’ Most of them are still quite afraid of speaking openly.”

The truth, so unlikely in this setting, is that Colonia Dignidad was founded on fear, and it is fear that still binds it together. Investigations by Amnesty International and the governments of Chile, Germany, and France, as well as the testimony of former colonoswho, over the years, managed to escape the colony, have revealed evidence of terrible crimes: child molestation, forced labor, weapons trafficking, money laundering, kidnapping, torture, and murder. Orchestrated by Paul Schaefer and his inner circle of trusted lieutenants, much of the abuse was initially directed inward as a means of conditioning the colonos to obey Schaefer’s commands. Later, after General Augusto Pinochet’s military junta seized power in Chile, the violence spilled onto the national stage. Schaefer, through an informal alliance with the Pinochet regime, allowed Colonia Dignidad to serve as a torture and execution center for the disposal of enemies of the state. The investigations continue. In the months preceding my visit, police found two large caches of military-grade weapons buried inside the compound. Parts of cars had also been unearthed, their vehicle identification numbers traced back to missing political dissidents. Even as I stood in Schaefer’s house drinking apple juice, elsewhere on the property a police forensics unit was excavating a mass grave thought to contain the decomposed remains of dozens of political prisoners.

Colonia Dignidad perpetuated itself through a complex system of social controls. The pilgrims thought of themselves as an extended family based not on blood, but on absolute devotion to Schaefer. They called him “The Permanent Uncle.” Schaefer himself had selected the title and drilled into his disciples a definition of family he found in the Bible. “Who are my mother and father?” he liked to say. “Those that do the work of God.”

Schaefer offered his flock the possibility of a pure existence in the service of God. All that was required was the regular confession of sin. His followers proved eager to unload their guilt, and confession—personally received by Schaefer in a practice he called “Seelesorge,” or “care of the soul”—became the vehicle for their salvation. The pilgrims confessed to him in a variety of forums. Schaefer would summon them in small groups each day to discuss their sins; public confessions were heard at lunch and dinner; and, on Sundays, the entire community assembled for prayer and confession in a meeting hall adjacent to Schaefer’s house.

Within that family, people were divided into groups by age and gender, each with its own flag and insignia. A boy born inside the Colonia would spend the first years of life not with his parents (who themselves lived apart from each other) but with nurses in the hospital as one of “The Babies.” At six, he would graduate to a group called “The Wedges” and from there, at 15, to “The Army of Salvation.” By his mid-30s he would become one of “The Elder Servants,” a status he would retain until, at 50, he was ready to join “The Comalos,” a term that has no obvious meaning. Girls progressed through a similar series of groups, including “The Dragons,” “The Field Mice,” “The Women’s Group,” and “The Grannies.”

Group members lived together, six or more to a room, in dormitory-type buildings. They had few individual possessions: pajamas, a set of work clothes, a set of leisure clothes, and a week’s supply of underwear. Everything else, including their shoes, was kept locked away in a closet. Each morning, the colonos would assemble with their respective groups in the cafeteria for a breakfast of milk and bread with jelly. Then it was off to work, the men to the plants, mills, and craft shops, the women to less skilled jobs in the henhouse, the stables, and the kitchen. Some women were also assigned as nurses in the hospital. Both men and women labored together in the fields.

The days were productive. Schaefer exhorted his colonos to righteous sacrifice, frequently reciting the words “Arbeit ist Gottesdienst” (“Work is divine service”). Large signs attached to garden trellises and decorative iron latticework inside the Colonia reinforced the message with pious declarations like “Supreme Judge, We Await Thee” and “We Withstand the Pain for the Sake of Dignity.” The pilgrims worked 12 hours a day, often longer, with a short break for lunch. It was taken as a point of pride that they expected no payment for their labor, but gave it willingly for the good of the community. Their success with industry and agriculture provided the financial means necessary to fuel their philanthropic mission.

Given such high ideals, it is hardly surprising that the centerpiece of Schaefer’s utopia was a charity hospital. A gray, two-story building with unadorned windows and a tapered tile roof, the hospital stood on the far side of the village from the entry gate, with 65 beds, a maternity ward, and sterile operating rooms. Funded in part by state subsidies, its quality of care was excellent—the hospital was always busy and over the years provided full and recurring treatment for 26,000 people. The colonos sent buses or hired the few locals with cars to collect patients from their isolated villages. Sometimes entire families would arrive at once. The maternity ward was especially popular, as the hospital continued to supply local women with four and half pounds of powdered milk every month for the first six years of a child’s life. To this day, pictures of some of the thousands of Chilean babies born there remain posted on the wall of the reception area.

Paul Schaefer was born in 1921 in the quiet town of Troisdorf, near the Dutch border of Germany. He was a poor student, so clumsy that one day, while using a fork to untie a stubborn shoelace, he accidentally gouged out his right eye. It is said that Schaefer tried to join the elite Nazi SS corps a few years later, but was rejected because of this infirmity. Although he spent the war as a nurse in a German field hospital in occupied France, later in life he claimed that his glass eye was the result of a war wound.

After Germany’s surrender, Schaefer worked for a short time in the Evangelical Free Church as a youth leader, but he was fired when suspicion arose that he had somehow mistreated the boys in his care. He struck out on his own as a solo preacher, roaming the German countryside dressed in lederhosen, strumming an acoustic guitar, and encouraging all who would listen to confess their sins. Schaefer was a gifted speaker with a powerful charisma that, according to one colono who first met him at a prayer meeting in 1952, radiated from his body like beams of light. Within a few years, Schaefer had attracted several hundred followers and founded an orphanage outside of Troisdorf for war widows and their children, many of whom were impoverished refugees from East Prussia who had fled the Soviet occupation. Schaefer told them they were God’s chosen and that their destiny had been predetermined, offering them the sense of security they craved as they struggled to mend their lives. Those who joined the congregation agreed to pay 10 percent of their income to Schaefer and to confess daily.

Schaefer’s first experiment in community building did not end well. The mothers of two young boys living in the orphanage charged that he had molested their children, an accusation taken seriously enough for local judicial authorities to issue a warrant for his arrest. Schaefer fled to the Middle East, where, with two trusted lieutenants, he searched for a place to relocate his congregation. Soon after, he came into contact with the Chilean ambassador to Germany, who, unaware of Schaefer’s legal troubles, invited him to Chile.

A faded black-and-white photograph shows Schaefer stepping off the plane in Santiago in January 1961 in a long black winter coat and matching fedora, smiling faintly. Within a year, using funds collected from his congregation back in Germany, Schaefer bought an abandoned 4,400-acre ranch several hundred miles south of Santiago, which he and some 10 original settlers from Germany began to rebuild. By the end of 1963, an initial group of approximately 230 Germans—the bulk of Schaefer’s congregation—had emigrated from Europe to the newly named Colonia Dignidad (“dignity colony”). Two more waves of German pilgrims followed, in 1966 and 1973, most belonging to the 15 families that formed the core of Schaefer’s following. Over the years, the community expanded further through the adoption of Chilean children from impoverished local families. These Chilean colonos learned to speak German and became full members of the community.

In Germany, Schaefer’s congregation had been a loose gathering of devotees who lived on their own in scattered towns and villages. In Chile, that distance was closed, and Schaefer rapidly consolidated control. First, there could be no secrets. Private conversations were forbidden. “If two are gathered,” he often said, “they are under the Devil. If three are gathered, they are under Jesus.” Second, everything had to be confessed: whether the sin was in thought or in deed, he had to be informed. Third, no one could leave the property without Schaefer’s permission. Any violation, or perceivedviolation, of these rules would be punished.

All of this begged the question: why would so many people have chosen to subordinate themselves to Schaefer’s will? How did he achieve such power over them? In Santiago in early 2006, I spoke with Dr. Neils Biedermann, a Chilean psychiatrist, who, in association with the German Embassy, had been making monthly trips to Colonia Dignidad to study the psychology of its inhabitants. He offered observations from his work. “Everything was done to further the religion,” he explained. “Like in any sect, the colonos had a spiritual leader in Paul Schaefer, to whom they formed a strong attachment. There was a complex network of emotional connections in the Colonia. It was not a concentration camp system in which prisoners tend to think of themselves as individuals. It was a community, and the children suffered most of all.” The pilgrims may have come to Chile for their religion, but once there they became prey to a brutal and relentless cult of personality. “The older colonos punished the younger ones under orders from Schaefer,” Biedermann continued. “They were also the ones who were supposed to educate them. This involved keeping them away from their families, keeping them active all day, and principally keeping them obedient and disciplined. They did whatever they needed to do, including psychopharmacology and electroshock.” Over time, physical coercion became less necessary as the social system became rooted in the psyche of the individual.

Schaefer reinforced his power through an elaborate system of mutual betrayal. Members of the community were encouraged to confess not only to him, but to one another. Acolono who heard the sinful confession could expect to be rewarded—typically with a reprieve of his own sins—if he informed Schaefer of the offense.

Every day at lunch and dinner, members of the community were expected to write the names of sinners on a blackboard near the entrance to the cafeteria. After everyone was seated, Schaefer would take his place at a small table facing the group, and, while his minions ate, he’d read through a microphone the names listed on the board. Each sinner was required to stand up and confess. To deny wrongdoing was a great offense, and the prudent among them became adept at inventing sins on the spot.

According to Schaefer’s teachings, women were temptresses whose sexuality, if uncontrolled, would drive men wild with desire and lead them to stray from God. Schaefer considered sexual intercourse a tool of the Devil. To protect men from corruption, he created in the Colonia an environment of minimal temptation. Women lived and worked separately from men. They wore ugly homemade dresses, so baggy that almost no trace of the female form remained visible. They rolled their long hair into tight, passion-proof buns, and the endless days spent toiling in the workshops or in the fields further depressed their frustrated libido.

But even then, men and women found ways of getting together. They still felt lust. They fell in love. Nature would not be denied so completely. When romantic relationships did develop, Schaefer decided their course. Sometimes he permitted couples to marry and, occasionally, to have children. More often he did not. When a man asked Schaefer for permission to marry, he entered into a game of sexual roulette. Schaefer might grant the request but then require that he be the one to select the bride. This seldom worked in the man’s favor, for the women Schaefer chose were almost always well beyond childbearing years. If, despite these elaborate precautions, a woman somehow managed to get pregnant, Schaefer would isolate her from the community until she gave birth. Afterwards she returned to work, while nurses in the hospital cared for her child. By Schaefer’s design, pregnancy was uncommon. To this day, no one knows why he discouraged couples from having children. What seems clear is that he did not care if the community endured after he was gone. Only about 60 children were born in the Colonia in the 30-odd years he spent at its helm; between 1975 and 1989, there were no births at all.

For Schaefer and his pilgrims, evil manifested itself most tangibly in the scourge of international communism. It should be remembered that they were Germans, many of whom had suffered terrible losses as the Russians swept through eastern Germany on their way to Berlin. Fear of a Soviet attack on Western Europe was, for many, the deciding factor in their choice to follow Schaefer to Chile. Their fearful worldview was heightened by their isolation: their only source of information about the outside world was faked television news spliced together from old footage, depicting a world overcome by war, famine, and death.

To assure the defense of his utopia, Schaefer organized a paramilitary unit of several dozen men, trained in military tactics and martial arts. On some Saturday nights, a shrill alarm would summon them to a meeting. As one former unit member later testified to German government investigators, once the troops were assembled, Schaefer would enter the room and say, without apparent irony, “Good evening, Comrades,” to which those present were required to respond, “Good evening, General.” If the reply came late or lacked sufficient enthusiasm, Schaefer grew upset. Each man was required by regulation to carry a sidearm. Schaefer checked the weapons carefully to make sure that they were loaded and had their safeties on. Any man who failed the inspection lost his right to carry a gun. With any urgent business related to Soviet world domination resolved, the men dispersed into the night, searching the darkness for communists.

The outer perimeter of Colonia Dignidad was marked by eight-foot fences topped with barbed wire, which armed groups of men patrolled day and night with German shepherd and doberman attack dogs. Guards in observation posts equipped with shortwave radios, telephones, binoculars, night vision equipment, and telephoto cameras scanned the landscape for intruders. These were, of course, imaginary. But if invaders were to succeed in getting through the perimeter, they would come upon a second tier of inner defenses: strands of copper wire hidden around the village, which, if stepped on, triggered a silent alarm. Doors and windows in most buildings were equipped with armored shades that could be drawn shut in the event of an invasion. Dormitories were outfitted with alarms and surveillance cameras, and the entire village sat atop an extensive network of tunnels and underground bunkers. When the alarm sounded, as it frequently did during practice drills, men belonging to the security force grabbed their rifles and waited on their doorsteps for instructions.

With no genuine external enemies to fight, Schaefer and his most trusted lieutenants turned their energies inward. The practice of confession provided them with plenty of people to punish. The guilty were starved, threatened with dogs, or beaten—sometimes by Schaefer himself, more often by others acting on his orders. The harshest treatment was reserved for those who, for one reason or another, Schaefer simply did not like. He called them “the rebels.” They could be identified by their clothing: the men wore red shirts and white trousers, the women potato sacks over their long dresses. The othercolonos despised them, usually without knowing why.

One such rebel was a Chilean colono named Franz Baar, adopted by the Germans at 10. By the time he was a teenager, Schaefer singled him out as a troublemaker. As Baar now remembers it, a group of men approached him one day while he was working in the carpentry shop and accused him of stealing the keys to one of the dormitories. When Baar denied it, he was beaten unconscious with electrical cables—his skull broken—and loaded into an ambulance. He awoke some time later in the Colonia’s hospital, where he would remain as a prisoner for the next 31 years.

Baar was kept in an upstairs section of the hospital never seen by the local Chileans who sought treatment there. As he later described to me, his days began with a series of intravenous injections, after which the nurses brought him bread and a plate with 12 to 15 different pills. Once satisfied that he was properly medicated, nurses delivered his clothes and shoes, hidden from him to reduce the likelihood of escape. After he dressed, a security detail escorted him to his job at the carpentry shop. Baar worked on heavy machines in a cramped space. The injections and pills slowed his movements and made him clumsy. Today, scar tissue on his forearms maps the places where the electric saws bit into his flesh. Baar was forced to work late into the night, sometimes until 3 A.M. He was not permitted to eat with the rest of the community. Instead, his meals were delivered to him at the carpentry shop, where he devoured them in isolation.

A still worse punishment awaited in rooms nine and 14 of the hospital, where Baar and other colonos unfortunate enough to draw the full measure of Schaefer’s fury were subjected to shock treatments. A female physician worked the machines, her manner detached and clinical. Patients were strapped down and fitted with crowns attached by wires to a voltage machine. Baar told me how the doctor seemed to enjoy watching him suffer. “She kept asking me questions,” he said. “I heard what she was saying and wanted to respond, but I couldn’t. She was playing with the machine and asking, ‘What do you feel? Are you feeling something?’ She wanted to know what was happening to me as she adjusted the voltage.”

Escape was difficult, even for those not held in the hospital. A rebel named Wolfgang Mueller tried to escape on three separate occasions. Twice—once in 1962, and again in 1964—he fled to the home of a Chilean family in a nearby town, and twice members of the Colonia’s security force found him there and brought him back. Both times, Mueller was beaten and forcibly sedated. On his third and final escape attempt in 1966, he made it as far as Santiago, where he received police protection and sought refuge in a German Embassy safe house. On orders from Schaefer, 15 colonos stormed the house in an attempt to recapture him. After a fistfight with police, they fled. Soon after, Mueller left Chile and found safety in Germany, where, despite his repeated accusations against Schaefer, government officials took no action. Mueller remains there today and operates a small nonprofit organization to combat the abuse of children by religious sects.

At the opposite end of the social spectrum from the rebels was a group of boys Schaefer affectionately called his “sprinters.” If Schaefer wanted to speak with someone working in a remote corner of the property, he sent a sprinter off to summon him. Schaefer trained his sprinters to assist in even the most mundane of personal tasks, like helping him to put his shoes on or holding the phone to his ear as he spoke. No job was too small. For the boys lucky enough to be chosen, the position brought pride and power.

But this special status was also a source of trouble for them. It was an open secret that Schaefer was a pedophile, just as the authorities had accused him of being long before in Germany. He enjoyed taking sprinters along during his daily tour of the Colonia. Because zippers were inconvenient, their uniforms included loose-fitting athletic shorts with an elastic waistband. He allowed his favorite sprinters to stay overnight in his room in a child-size bed set up alongside his own, sometimes sleeping with two or more sprinters at once. His routine, it later emerged, included feeding them sedatives, washing them with a sponge, and sexual manipulation.

All challengers to Schaefer’s authority—real or imagined—were rooted out and destroyed. No one inspired greater love and admiration among the children of the Colonia than Santa Claus. It is said that in the days shortly before Christmas one year in the mid-1970s, Schaefer gathered the Colonia’s children, loaded them onto a bus, and drove them out to a nearby river, where, he told them, Santa was coming to visit. The boys and girls stood excitedly along the riverbank, while an older colono in a fake beard and a red and white suit floated towards them on a raft. Schaefer pulled a pistol from his belt and fired, seeming to wound Santa, who tumbled into the water, where he thrashed about before disappearing below the surface. It was a charade, but Schaefer turned to the children assembled before him and said that Santa was dead. From that day forward, Schaefer’s birthday was the only holiday celebrated inside Colonia Dignidad.

The Colonia was, in effect, a state within a state, and Schaefer aggressively expanded the reach of his territory. Its original 4,400 acres ultimately grew to some 32,000. The expansion was not always peaceful. In a particularly brutal case, Schaefer seized control over a small chapel and several acres of church lands that lay adjacent to the Colonia’s entrance. The nuns who lived there were determined to stay, but the colonos stole their animals, cut off their water supply, flooded their latrines, fired off guns, and shined bright lights into their windows at night. They beat young children on their way to catechism, surrounded the chapel in barbed wire, and circulated fake videos of the nuns participating in orgies with priests. Finally they set fire to the nuns’ house and watched while it burned to the ground. Schaefer then claimed the church’s land as his own.

He had a favorite saying: “Every man has his price.” And, in an impoverished country like Chile, that price was well within Schaefer’s means. He selected his friends for their strategic value and lavished the most important of them with gourmet cakes and cheeses, money, cars, and free vacations. He seldom failed to get what he wanted.

On September 11, 1973, the right-wing military junta of Augusto Pinochet seized power in Chile, toppling the socialist government of Salvador Allende in a bloody coup that left the former president dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. In the chaotic days that followed, scattered groups of Allende’s supporters fought isolated street battles against Pinochet’s soldiers, but the resistance was short-lived. Within a week, the entire country was under military control. The new regime declared a state of emergency, suspended the constitution, disbanded congress, banned political parties, and imposed strict censorship on the press—all in the name of turning back Allende’s socialist experiment and rescuing the country from international communism.

Despite his early success, Pinochet was convinced that underground networks of leftist plotters remained. In the months following the coup, at least 45,000 people were rounded up and hauled off to makeshift detention centers for interrogation. There are no reliable statistics for how many thousands were tortured, but, by year’s end, more than 1,500 people had been killed. In June 1974, Pinochet created the National Intelligence Directorate (DINA)—a secret police force, separate from the rest of Chile’s intelligence establishment and loyal only to him, designed to hunt down and eliminate his political enemies. DINA agents routinely kidnapped regime opponents and delivered them to secret torture and execution centers located throughout Chile—including Colonia Dignidad.

Germany and Chile enjoyed a long history of military cooperation, reaching back to the late 19th century, when Prussian officers from the renowned Kreigsakademie in Berlin oversaw the modernization of the Chilean army. A mutual respect developed and persisted through World War II, during which the young Lieutenant Pinochet, fresh of out of military school, openly sympathized with the Nazis and became “enchanted by Rommel,” as he later admitted. Drawing as it did on this history, the connection between the colonos and the Pinochet regime was classically symbiotic. Paul Schaefer needed political allies and protection for his eccentric community; Pinochet’s agents needed discreet services and a secure base of operations.

Colonia Dignidad, according to a former DINA agent assigned there in the mid-1970s, maintained powerful radio equipment, facilitating communication between DINA commanders in Chile and their agent saboteurs and assassins stationed abroad. In 2005, Michael Townley, an American expatriate and former DINA officer implicated in several high-profile assassinations and bombings, testified to a Chilean judge that the Colonia had also housed a secret laboratory, where government scientists developed chemical weapons. Schaefer’s primary contribution to Pinochet’s operations, however, came in the instruction of DINA agents in the science of torture. Soon after the coup, arrested political dissidents began to disappear into Colonia Dignidad.

One who survived is Luis Peebles, a 60-year-old psychiatrist at a public hospital in a working-class neighborhood of Santiago. In early 2006, we sat down together in an empty office in the hospital, where he described the week he spent as a political prisoner in Colonia Dignidad in February 1975. Peebles had been the commander of a clandestine anti-Pinochet militia until his capture by government soldiers. Initially jailed at a naval base in the coastal city of Concepción, he remembers how, early one Sunday morning, several plainclothes agents arrived at the base, bound his hands and feet, blindfolded him, and stuffed wet cotton into his ears. They forced him into the back of a truck and drove for several hours. Along the way, Peebles tried to piece together his location. He felt the truck turn off the highway and slow onto a dirt road. There was the strong odor of cow manure. Peebles thought he heard the muffled sounds of birds and flowing water. When the truck finally stopped, he took a deep breath. The air was clean.

He was taken to an underground cellar that smelled of linoleum and wood polish, stripped to his underwear and fastened down with leather straps to an iron bed frame. His blindfold was replaced with a leather cap that came down over his eyes. It had a chinstrap that held his jaw firmly in place and earflaps equipped with metal wires. More wires were taped to his ankles, thighs, chest, throat, anus, and genitals, all hooked into a voltage machine. The first session lasted six hours. As Peebles was being shocked, his torturers sometimes beat him with a rubber cattle prod that emitted still more electric currents. They stabbed him with needles that caused his skin to itch. They put out their cigarettes on his body and applied a sticky substance to his eyes and mouth; sometimes, if he screamed, they shoved it down his throat.

His interrogator wanted to know the identities of regime opponents and the locations of weapons caches, but for long periods there were no questions at all. An older man, directing the others, spoke with a strange accent that Peebles first understood to be Brazilian or Portuguese, but later recognized as German. “He was teaching them how to do their job,” Peebles told me. “He was saying, ‘You have to do it slowly. You have to push here.’ Once or twice he punched me very hard below the belt. He realized that they weren’t doing anything to me down there, so he said, ‘You should also do it here,’ and he started beating me.” As he was being shocked, Peebles thrashed around violently. His muscles tensed and his struggling caused the bed frame to buckle almost in two. Sometimes his blinders slipped out of place, allowing him brief glimpses of his surroundings. There were egg cartons and potato sacks on the walls, presumably to absorb the sound of his screams. At one point, he caught a glimpse of the older man who was directing his torture. He had tan skin, sunken eyes, and thin lips. “He gave the impression of being a hard man,” Peebles remembered.

In the following days, as his torture continued, Peebles lost all sense of time. He fell in and out of consciousness. At times, he believed he was going mad. He thought he was going to die. When he asked for a blanket, his torturers doused him with warm water, quickly followed by cold water. When not being tortured, Peebles was kept in a cell about 20 paces down a corridor, blindfolded and strapped to a metal grate. He received no food or water for what must have been several days. When he was finally fed, it was what his torturers called “pig food”—a dense mass served in a rusty can. The smell turned his stomach. He ate it anyway. At night, he tried to sleep, but his guards kept him awake. He heard the steady hum of an electric generator. Above the noise, he could hear footsteps upstairs. He came to believe that he was being held in a basement of some kind, maybe underneath a cafeteria or a restaurant.

Eventually the torture stopped. Peebles’ clothes were returned—laundered and neatly folded—and his captors drove him back to the naval base in Concepción. Several months later, he was released and he fled to Europe. Over the next few years, as rumors of Colonia Dignidad’s alliance with the Pinochet government emerged, he came to suspect that he had been tortured there. He told his story to the German chapter of Amnesty International, which, in 1977, used his testimony, together with that of other torture survivors, to produce a 60-page report called “Colonia Dignidad: A German Community in Chile—A Torture Camp for the dina.” Schaefer’s lawyers immediately filed libel charges in a German court, initiating a legal battle that would prevent distribution of the Amnesty report until late 1997. Meanwhile, Peebles settled in Brussels, where he continued to speak out on his own. In 1980, he was visited by a German reporter named Gero Gemballa, who was preparing a television documentary about the Colonia. He showed Peebles several reels of videotape he had obtained. They appeared to be home movies shot by the colonos themselves. The footage went on for hours, but one of the images, as soon as he saw it, focused Peebles’s attention. It was a fleeting shot of Schaefer, the “hard man” who had supervised his torture. Years later, after Pinochet left power, Peebles drew a map of the bunker where he had been tortured and gave it to a Chilean judge who was investigating Colonia Dignidad’s human rights abuses. The judge reported back that Peebles description closely matched a bunker uncovered inside the Colonia, even down to the paneling on the walls. Over the years, more survivors stepped forward, claiming that they too had been tortured in Colonia Dignidad. In 1991, having studied the allegations, Chile’s National Commission on Truth and Reconciliation concluded “that a certain number of people apprehended by the DINA were really taken to Colonia Dignidad, held prisoner there for some time, and that some of them were subjected to torture, and that besides DINA agents, some of the residents there were involved in these actions.”

Contract torturing was not the worst of Schaefer’s collusion with the Pinochet regime: executions, perhaps of entire groups of prisoners, were sometimes carried out. No bodies have ever been found, but some remorseful DINA agents have talked. One, testifying in a German court on behalf of Amnesty International, said that he visited the Colonia to deliver a prisoner to a man known as “the Professor,” one of Schaefer’s pseudonyms. While the agent sat down to a formal dinner, the prisoner was led away by the Professor and several other Germans. After a while, the Professor returned, accompanied by a black German shepherd. “On entering,” the agent said, “he made a gesture using both arms, which, according to my way of thinking, meant the prisoner was dead.”

In truth, no one knows how many people were killed inside Colonia Dignidad. One former colono recently told Chilean government investigators that, on Schaefer’s orders, he once drove a busload of 35 political prisoners up into the Colonia’s wooded hills and left them in an isolated spot by the side of a dirt road. As he drove back down alone, he heard machine gun fire echoing through the forest. No bodies were ever recovered. According to at least one former high-ranking colono, the bodies of executed prisoners were exhumed in 1978, burned to ash, and dumped in the river. Others claim that the dead were buried in individual graves scattered about the hills and valleys. All that seems certain is that many of the prisoners who went into Colonia Dignidad were never seen again.

Over the years, there have been numerous attempts to investigate Colonia Dignidad, most compromised from the start by Schaefer’s network of protectors within the Chilean political and judicial establishment. In 1968, the Chilean government sent a parliamentary delegation to investigate Wolfgang Mueller’s accusation that he had been tortured there. Schaefer entertained the politicians with children’s choirs and gourmet food, and the delegation ultimately determined, after minimal deliberation, that Mueller’s allegations were unfounded. Later, in 1982, the German government, following evidence collected by Amnesty International, issued a request to the Pinochet government for cooperation in a joint investigation of Schaefer’s community. The request was denied, as were two others in 1985 and 1988. Only after Pinochet left power in 1990 did Schaefer’s support system begin to collapse. The new government, headed by Patricio Aylwin, a former senator and longtime opponent of Paul Schaefer, revoked the Colonia’s status as a nonprofit, charitable organization, cut off state funding for the hospital, and initiated a financial audit of the colony’s businesses. The colonos fought back with protest rallies and hunger strikes.

Despite the growing public controversy, little changed inside Colonia Dignidad. Schaefer carried on without interruption. He launched a new educational initiative called the “Intensive Boarding School,” a kind of immersion program, in which select local Chilean students were invited to live, work, and study in the Colonia until they reached the age of 18. Local families proved eager to participate. The program seemed like a good thing—at least to the parents—until, in the winter of 1996, a 12-year-old student named Cristobal Parada smuggled a secret note to his mother. He wrote, “Take me out of here. He raped me.” She managed to rescue him at considerable risk to Cristobal and herself and drove him to a nearby medical clinic, where a physician verified that the boy had been raped. Cristobal’s mother feared that the local police would be of no use, or, worse, that they would return her son to the Germans. She fled with Cristobal to the anonymity of the capital, where she sought out the chief of Chile’s national detective force, a man named Luis Henriquez.

A proud and seasoned professional, Henriquez had, in his 25 years on the force, been exposed to the darker aspects of human nature. In the early 1970s, he had served as one of Allende’s bodyguards and was there, inside the presidential palace, when Allende had committed suicide. In a country rife with conspiracies, Henriquez held a rigid belief in facts. “The truth has only one version,” he liked to say. “There are no different truths.” His was an unsophisticated view of the world, but, notably, one uncorrupted by Schaefer’s influence.

In mid-August 1996, a judge in Santiago issued a warrant for Schaefer’s arrest on charges of child abuse, asking Henriquez to execute it. Inside the Colonia that summer, life went on as before. The investigation taking form in far-off Santiago remained invisible to Schaefer and his followers. Local children continued to visit on weekends and holidays, the Intensive Boarding School remained in session, and, by all accounts, Schaefer continued to enjoy the sexual pleasures of his sprinters. The pattern was interrupted only when word of the arrest warrant reached Schaefer and his lieutenants. A meeting was called on August 20, 1996, to discuss what should be done. Schaefer seemed badly shaken. As the colonos discussed how to proceed, he kept his head down and never spoke a word. Shortly thereafter, he disappeared into the Colonia’s network of subterranean bunkers and tunnels. It is widely believed that he was there, underground, when, on November 30, 1996, Henriquez muscled his way into Schaefer’s utopia for the first time.

Henriquez had hoped to capture Schaefer by surprise. He went in with 30 armed policemen in a caravan, but as his team made its way up the long dirt road, it was spotted by the Colonia’s lookouts, who gave warning. The caravan busted through a sequence of gates and only slowed as it approached the village itself. Henriquez had given orders to his men, should they come under fire, not to retreat, but to move deeper into the village for cover. To his surprise, resistance was minimal.

“The colonos were like zombies, or maybe like robots,” Henriquez would later recall, “They were machines: on/off, on/off, on/off. They didn’t change moods like normal people.” Though Schaefer’s followers were generally subdued, at times they became aggressive, and, in a few cases, they physically assaulted the police. Henriquez assumed these outbursts signaled that they were getting close to Schaefer, but in the end, Henriquez and his police went home empty-handed.

Over the years, Henriquez conducted more than 30 raids on the Colonia, always with the same goal in mind: to capture Schaefer. Theories abounded as to where he might be. The colonos insisted he was dead. Others claimed he was hiding in the underground tunnels. Still others were convinced he had fled the country. Henriquez came to believe that Schaefer remained in the Colonia for some time after that initial raid. “I have no doubt,” he told me, “that sometimes we were just seconds from catching him.”

No one knows when Schaefer actually left Colonia Dignidad. Some say it was 1997, others later than that. What is clear is that at some point in the late 1990s, he fled the area, never to return. The curious thing is that very little changed afterward. The colonoscontinued to live life as they had under Schaefer’s rule, redirecting their allegiance to one of his senior lieutenants. In time, they attempted a democratic experiment, electing a council of leaders to manage their affairs. But under pressure from the older pilgrims, those most loyal to Schaefer, the council soon disintegrated, and the colony was left without a formal hierarchy, under the de facto leadership of a small group of colonos who managed the community’s businesses. Meanwhile, Henriquez continued to conduct his raids, even after he knew Schaefer had fled. “We couldn’t just say openly that he had left, that he was no longer there, because we needed a reason to remain there looking for all the other parts of the investigation,” Henriquez explained. “There was a lot more that we needed to find out.”

As time passed, some colonos eventually cooperated with the investigators, showing them where the files on Pinochet’s political enemies were kept, leading them to underground bunkers and tunnels, and giving the locations of weapons caches and mass graves. Although the graves had been emptied, investigators did find several car engines and side panels from vehicles that belonged to political dissidents who had disappeared.

In July 2005, police unearthed Schaefer’s collection of military weaponry. The stockpiles, buried in at least three different locations, included some 92 machine guns, 104 semi-automatic rifles, 18 antipersonnel mines, 18 cluster grenades, 1,893 hand grenades, 67 mortar rounds, 176 kilograms of tnt, and an unspecified number of rocket launchers, surface-to-air missiles, and telescopic sights. Also found were German-language instruction manuals and large quantities of ammunition. According to investigators, many of the weapons were of World War II vintage. Others, such as the grenades and the machine guns, appeared to have been produced in the Colonia’s own facilities.

Acting on a tip from one of the colonos, investigators moved Schaefer’s bed and lifted up an area rug to access a trap door hidden among the floorboards. Underneath, in a small chamber, was an assortment of what one of the police officers described to me as Schaefer’s “fantasy weapons”—three pencils that could shoot .22 caliber rounds, two equipped to fire darts, a dart-shooting camera, and several shootable walking canes. Schaefer was getting to be an old man by the time he fled. Among the other weapons, police found a walker capable of delivering an electric shock of 1,200 volts.

I met Luis Henriquez in January of 2006 at a hotel bar in Santiago as I was preparing for my first trip to Colonia Dignidad. He is an old man now, with gray hair and thick glasses, and retired from the police force in 2003. “All of these people have been mutilated in more ways than one,” he warned me. “They have no individual will. They have no individual power. They have no sense of sexuality. The younger ones may be able to change the way they think, but not the older ones. They’re sending their kids to school, and they’re trying to be normal, but it’s just another performance for them. They think only in terms of friends and enemies. In many ways, they will think of you as an enemy who is coming to stick his nose where he should not.” In the persona of a colono, he said, “‘We’re clever at performing. We shall give him cake and apple juice. We shall be nice to him although we know he is our enemy.’’ That’s the way they will probably relate to you.”

Traffic passes freely through what used to be the Colonia’s outermost gate—its imposing white metal trellis left to rust against a collection of boulders by the side of the road. Farther on stands a reception house, where an elderly German woman dutifully records visitors’ names before waving them through. A dirt road winds through a field of soybeans and arrives at Schaefer’s former residence. It is now a guesthouse, used to entertain visitors. A group of young colonos invite me into the living room for sugar cookies, and, as Henriquez had predicted, glasses of homemade apple juice. Organic, no preservatives, they tell me, with insistent, uncomfortable grins. The conversation revolves around new plans for improvements to the Colonia—a micro-power generation plant, a methane gas plant, and a home for the elderly. Another initiative, already under way, is to develop tourism. For a price, outsiders could now hunt for rabbits in Paul Schaefer’s woods or fish for salmon in the river where Santa Claus went under. I set off for the village restaurant to meet the tourism director, a Chilean named Victor Briones, said to have been one of Schaefer’s sprinters.

A fair-skinned man in his late 20s with a round face, Briones offers me coffee as we sit down together, just upstairs from the bunker where Luis Peebles had been tortured years before. He tells me that the Colonia had already welcomed vacationers from Chile, Brazil, Argentina, and the United States. The volume remains modest, but he is optimistic. Traffic is expected to increase, he says, with the opening of a new, nationally funded hiking trail that will pass through Colonia Dignidad. He appears to have mixed feelings about this. “We want security,” he says, “security in every aspect.” I ask him how he intends to control the story of the colony’s history, how members would respond to questions about hidden weapons, Pinochet, pedophilia, torture, and mass graves. He tells me flatly that he is training a group of colonos to serve as tour guides. Did he mean they would gloss over the truth? He says, no, they would tell the truth, and would emphasize that the young people in the Colonia were innocent of any wrongdoing.

Briones’s insistence on the innocence of youth was a tacit condemnation of the old. In Santiago, I had been told about a controversial letter written by a group of newly marriedcolonos and addressed to the older generation. The letter, read aloud at a community meeting the previous spring, described the darker aspects of life under Paul Schaefer—the sexual abuse, the torture, the perversion of religion into a control mechanism. It represented the colonos’ first real attempt at an open conversation about their past and the question of responsibility: “Our parents have got to understand that they fall into the web of blame, because as individuals they did not have the strength or the nerve to oppose the dictatorship of Paul Schaefer. Regrettably, they became accustomed to obeying orders and instructions like it was natural, and they left aside consideration, peaceful meditation, reason, and conscience. They contributed to the undermining of their own human dignity.” The letter was not well received. The older colonos did not appreciate being singled out, and a rift was opened between young and old that has yet to mend.

I am invited to a monthly community meeting, a formal, ritualized affair still held in the room where Schaefer took confessions. Programs, distributed at the door, list the topics to be discussed. Inside, I find the chairs neatly arranged into five long rows before a wooden podium with a microphone. There is to be a celebration later in the evening in honor of a group of young colonos who have just graduated from college—the first generation to do so. Several dozen champagne bottles are arranged on a makeshift bar in the back of the room. I take a seat in the last row and watch the colonos file in. Most are elderly Germans, who come in using canes, walkers, and wheelchairs. The younger generation is a mix of Germans and Chileans, whose young children play hide-and-seek through the crowd. Several shake my hand as they squeeze past on the way to their seats. The sun is sinking below the mountains outside, but the room is sweltering, so the doors and windows are opened wide. By the time things get under way, promptly at 8:15 P.M., swarms of mosquitoes have moved in to feed.

The business portion of the meeting is dispatched with German efficiency. One of the new leaders takes the podium and suggests that the time has come to return the small church seized from the nuns to its rightful owners. “It’s important to understand that we will be giving it back, not giving it up,” he says, fixing his gaze on the older colonos in the room. An uncomfortable silence erupts. Several people shift in their chairs, but there are no objections. It is as close as anyone came that night to mentioning Paul Schaefer.

There is a short break, after which recent college graduates—newly minted nurses, accountants, and engineers—take turns thanking the community for its generosity. The Colonia had paid their tuitions in the hope that some might choose to live and work there after graduation. With so many of the initial pilgrims old and weak, the return of the younger generation has become a matter of survival.

A party follows the speeches. A young man tells me that he and several friends were out until 4 A.M. the night before singing karaoke in a local bar. There is talk of purchasing a karaoke machine for the Colonia. I wander over to the dessert table, stocked with cookies and German cakes. A young woman is handing out frozen coffees topped with whipped cream. I take one and find a perch near an old piano in the corner. Someone taps me on the shoulder. It is a grandfatherly German man, short and overweight but powerfully built, with a leathery face and sparse white hair. He gives his name as Heinrich Hempel. He seems like a kindly man. Later, I learn that he had been one of Schaefer’s enforcers. In return for his loyalty, Schaefer had allowed him to marry, and his son is among the group of college graduates being honored that night. Hempel confides that during World War II, as the Soviets were pushing through Eastern Europe, his family had been forced out of East Prussia and thrown into a Soviet labor camp in Poland. They spent five years there, under terrible conditions. His brother and sister froze to death in the snow. He describes the high fences that had surrounded the camp in Poland and draws them in my notebook with coils of razor wire at their base. He tells me that after his release, he had gone to Germany and joined Schaefer’s congregation. I ask him why he had moved to Chile. He thinks for a moment, smiles, and says, “I came here to do five years of charity work. But then I forgot how to leave.”

Four years ago, Carola Fuentes, a Chilean television journalist, visited Franz Baar, the man who had been held for 31 years, and his wife, Ingrid, in Chiloé, a remote island off of Chile’s southern coast, accessible only by ferry, where the newlywed couple had settled after escaping the Colonia the previous year. Fuentes was in the early stages of an investigation of Colonia Dignidad, and a lawyer in Santiago representing Cristobal Parada and other abused boys in a class action suit against Schaefer had recommended that she speak with the Baars. The couple told Fuentes that high-ranking colonos had been making frequent trips to Argentina, and that Schaefer was almost certainly there, perhaps near Buenos Aires. They also noted that when Schaefer went underground, several of his favorite nurses and bodyguards went with him. If any of those people could be located, there was a good chance he would be found.

Fuentes spent the next 13 months tracking down leads. Chilean authorities had information suggesting that Schaefer was in Buenos Aires, but, due to tense relations with their counterparts in Argentina, they could not be sure. As a journalist, Fuentes required no official permission to work in Argentina. Guided by frustrated Chilean officials, she followed the trail of evidence until it led her to a townhouse in an expensive gated community near Buenos Aires. She believed that Schaefer was inside, and notified the police. A 24-member SWAT team surrounded the townhouse on the morning of March 10, 2005, but was forced to wait most of the day for an Argentine judge to issue a warrant for Schaefer’s arrest. When the warrant finally arrived around 3 P.M., the SWAT team burst through the front door with Fuentes and her camera crew in tow. Inside they found three German men and two women—the bodyguards and nurses that the Baars had predicted would be with Schaefer. The police put them to the floor and asked if Schaefer was in the house. They said he was and pointed to the bedroom. Fuentes followed the policemen across the hallway with her camera. She later described the scene: “I saw this old guy, very lost in space, lying on the bed. He was absolutely not dangerous. I remembered what the Baars had told me. He didn’t match the image of this bad, evil guy.” Schaefer did not resist arrest. As he was being hauled away in handcuffs, Schaefer only groaned and quietly mumbled a question over and over: “Why? Why?”

Paul Schaefer was extradited to Chile aboard a military transport plane several days after his arrest and placed in a maximum-security prison in Santiago. In May 2006, he was convicted of child molestation and sentenced to 20 years in prison. He received an additional seven-year sentence in August 2006 for weapons violations, and three for torture. Further prosecution is being considered on charges of forced labor, tax evasion, kidnapping, torture, and possibly murder. Schaefer is 86 and confined to a wheelchair. His health is poor and he is attended full-time by a nurse, but his mental condition seems to have improved: “He was cold and arrogant,” said one of the judges who interrogated him for several hours in Santiago. “Every so often he would call in the nurse to check his blood pressure. When I asked him questions, he pretended not to hear.”

At one of Schaefer’s first interrogations, an orderly wheeled Schaefer into the room and pushed him to an empty spot beside Luis Peebles. Their arms touched. The judge asked Schaefer if he remembered the man sitting next to him. Schaefer turned and, with his one good eye, looked Peebles up and down. After a pause, he said, yes, he did remember him: Wasn’t he a lawyer who had once worked for the Colonia? “No,” Peebles responded. “I was once a guest in your home. You were very unkind. I never did anything to you or the Colonia, so why were you so cruel to me?” Schaefer went silent. Suddenly he began to have trouble understanding Spanish.

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Garrison Remembered

Jim Garrison’s Playboy Interview

Playboy Magazine, Vol. 14 No. 10 — October 1967

Jim Garrison (1921-1995)

Born November 20, 1921, in Knoxville, Iowa, Earling Carothers Garrison — known as “Jim” to friends and family — was raised in New Orleans. At age 19, one year before Pearl Harbor, he joined the army. In 1942, he was sent to Europe, where he volunteered to fly spotter planes over the front lines. Following the war, he attended law school at Tulare, joined the FBI, and served as a special agent in Seattle and Tacoma. After growing bored with his agency assignments, he returned to New Orleans to practice law. He served as an assistant district attorney from 1954 to 1958.

In 1961, Garrison decided to run for district attorney on a platform openly hostile to then-New Orleans Mayor Victor Schiro. To the surprise of many, he was elected without any major political backing. He was 43 years old and had been district attorney for less than two years when Kennedy was killed. “I was an old-fashioned patriot,” he writes in On the Trail of the Assassins, (Sheridan Square Press, NY), “a product of my family, my military experience, and my years in the legal profession. I could not imagine then that the government would ever deceive the citizens of this country.”

PLAYBOY: You have been accused — by the National Broadcasting Company, Newsweek, the New Orleans Metropolitan Crime Commission and your own former investigative aide William Gurvich — of attempts to intimidate witnesses, of engaging in criminal conspiracy and of inciting to such felonies as perjury, criminal defamation and public bribery. How do you respond to these charges?

GARRISON: I’ve stopped beating my wife. All the charges you enumerate have been made with one purpose in mind — to place our office on the defensive and make us waste valuable time answering allegations that have no basis in fact. Also involved is a psychological by-product valuable to those who don’t want the truth about Kennedy’s assassination to become known: The very repetition of a charge lends it a certain credibility, since people have a tendency to believe that where there’s smoke, there’s fire — although I find it difficult to believe that the public will put much credence in most of the dastardly deeds I’ve been accused of in the past few months. Just recently, for example, the rumor went around that my staff was peddling marijuana to high school students and that one of our major witnesses had just confessed that his testimony was based on a dream induced by an overdose of LSD. We’ve also been accused of planning an attack on the local FBI office with guns loaded with red pepper, having stolen money from our own investigative files and having threatened to shoot one witness in the derriere with an exotic gun propelling truth-serum darts. I just hope they never find out about my involvement in the Boston Brinks robbery.

I must admit, however, that I’m beginning to worry about the cumulative effect of this propaganda blitzkrieg on potential jurors for the trial of Clay Shaw. I don’t know how long they can withstand the drumbeat obbligato of charges exonerating the defendant and convicting the prosecutor. For months now, the establishment’s artillery units have been pounding away at the two themes NBC focused on — that my office uses “improper methods” with regard to witnesses and that we don’t really have a case against Mr. Shaw and he should never be brought to trial. I hope you’ll give me the chance to answer each of these charges in detail; but first, let me elaborate a bit on the methods we employ in this or any other investigation.

My office has been one of the most scrupulous in the country with regard to the protection of individual rights. I’ve been on record for years in law journals and books as championing the rights of the individual against the oppressive power of the state. My office moved in and prevented police seizure from bookstores of books arbitrarily labeled “obscene.” I intervened and managed to persuade the Louisiana legislature to remove a provision from its new code of criminal procedure that would allow judges to reach out from the bench and cite newsmen for contempt if they penned anything embarrassing to the judges. My office has investigated cases where we had already obtained convictions; and on discovering new evidence indicating that the defendant was not guilty, we’ve obtained a reversal of the verdict. In over five years of office, I have never had a single case reversed because of the use of improper methods — a record I’ll match with any other D. A. in the country.

In this particular case, I’ve taken unusual steps to protect the rights of the defendant and assure him a fair trial. Before we introduced the testimony of our witnesses, we made them undergo independent verifying tests, including polygraph examination, truth serum and hypnosis. We thought this would be hailed as an unprecedented step in jurisprudence; instead, the press turned around and hinted that we had drugged our witnesses or given them posthypnotic suggestions to testify falsely. After arresting Mr. Shaw, we filed a motion for a preliminary hearing — a proceeding that essentially operates in the defendant’s favor. Such a hearing is generally requested by the defense, and it was virtually unheard of that the motion be filed by the state, which under the law has the right to charge a defendant outright, without any evaluation by a judge of the pending charges. But I felt that because of the enormity of this accusation, we should lean over backward and give the defendant every chance. A three-judge panel heard our evidence against Mr. Shaw and his attorneys’ rebuttals and ordered him indicted for conspiracy to assassinate the President.

And I might add here that it’s a matter of record that my relationship with the judiciary of our fair city is not a Damon-Pythias camaraderie. Once the judges had handed down their decision, we could have immediately filed a charge against the defendant just by signing it and depositing it with the city clerk — the customary method of charging a defendant. Nevertheless, out of concern for Mr. Shaw’s rights, we voluntarily presented the case to a blue-ribbon grand jury. If this grand jury had failed to indict Mr. Shaw, our case would have been dead as a doornail. But the grand jury, composed of 12 eminent New Orleans citizens, heard our evidence and indicted the defendant for participation in a conspiracy to assassinate John Kennedy. In a further effort to protect the rights of the defendant, and in the face of the endlessly reiterated accusation that we have no case against him — despite the unanimous verdict of the grand jury and the judges at the preliminary hearing — I have studiously refrained from making any public statement critical of the defendant or prejudging his guilt. Of course, this puts me at a considerable disadvantage when the press claims I have no case against him, because the only way I could convince them of the strength of my case is to throw open our files and let them examine the testimony of all our witnesses. Apart from the injustice such an act would do Mr. Shaw, it could get our whole case thrown out of court on the grounds that we had prejudiced the defendant’s rights by pretrial publicity. So I won’t fall into that particular trap, whatever the provocation.

I only wish the press would allow our case to stand or fall on its merits in court. It appears that certain elements of the mass media have an active interest in preventing this case from ever coming to trial at all and find it necessary to employ against me every smear device in the book. To read the press accounts of my investigation — my “circus,” I should say — I’m a cross between Al Capone and Attila the Hun, ruthlessly hounding innocent men, trampling their legal rights, bribing and threatening witnesses and in general violating every canon of legal ethics. My God, anybody who employs the kind of methods that elements of the news media attribute to me should not only not be a district attorney, he should be disbarred. This case has taught me the difference between image and reality, and the power of the mythmakers. But I know I’ve done everything possible to conduct this investigation with honesty and integrity and with full respect for the civil rights of the defendant. But a blanket denial of charges against me isn’t going to convince anyone, so why don’t we consider them one by one?

PLAYBOY: All right. The May 15th issue of Newsweek charged that two of your investigators offered David Ferrie’s former roommate, Alvin Beauboeuf, $3000 and an airline job if he would help substantiate your charges against Clay Shaw. How do you answer this accusation?

GARRISON: Mr. Beauboeuf was one of the two men who accompanied David Ferrie on a mysterious trip from New Orleans to Texas on the day of the assassination, so naturally we were interested in him from the very start of our investigation. At first he showed every willingness to cooperate with our office; but after Ferrie’s death, somebody gave him a free trip to Washington. From that moment on, a change came over Beauboeuf; he refused to cooperate with us any further and he made the charges against my investigators to which you refer.

Fortunately, Beauboeuf had signed an affidavit on April 12th — well after the alleged bribe offer was supposed to have been made — affirming that “no representative of the New Orleans Parish district attorney’s office has ever asked me to do anything but to tell the truth. Any inference or statement by anyone to the contrary has no basis in fact.” As soon as his attorney began broadcasting his charges, we asked the New Orleans police department to thoroughly investigate the matter. And on June 12th, the police department — which is not, believe me, in the pocket of the district attorney’s office — released a report concluding that exhaustive investigation by the police intelligence branch had cleared my staff of any attempt to bribe or threaten Beauboeuf into giving untrue testimony. There was no mention of this report, predictably enough, in Newsweek.

Let me make one thing clear, though: Like every police department and district attorney’s office across the country, we have sums set aside to pay informers for valuable information — but we would never suborn perjury. This isn’t because we’re saints — short cuts like that could be awfully tempting in a frustrating case — but because we’re realistic enough to know that any witness who can be bought by us can also be bought by the other side. So it’s rather naive, apart from being ethically objectionable, to assume that our investigators travel around the country with bags of money trying to bribe witnesses to lie on the witness stand. We just don’t operate that way.

PLAYBOY: On an NBC television special, “The J.F.K. Conspiracy: The Case of Jim Garrison,” a former Turkish-bathhouse operator in New Orleans, Fred Leemans, claimed that one of your aides offered him money to testify that Clay Shaw had frequented his establishment with Lee Harvey Oswald. Do you also deny this charge?

GARRISON: Yes; and it’s a perfect illustration of the point I was just making about how easy it is for the other side to buy witnesses and then charge us with its own misconduct. Mr. Leemans came to us in early May, volunteering testimony to the effect that he had often seen a man named Clay Bertrand in his bathhouse, sometimes accompanied by men he described as “Latins.” In a sworn affidavit, Leemans said he had also seen a young man called Lee with Bertrand on four or five occasions — a man who fits the description of Lee Harvey Oswald. Leemans also identified the Clay Bertrand who had frequented his establishment as Clay Shaw. Now, this was important testimony, and initially we were favorably impressed with Mr. Leemans. But then we started receiving calls from him demanding money.

Well, I’ve told you our policy on this, and the answer was a flat no. He was quiet for a while and then he called and asked if we would approve if he sold his story to a magazine, since he badly needed money. We refused to give him such approval. Apparently, the National Broadcasting Company was able to establish a warmer relationship with Mr. Leemans. In any case, he now says that he didn’t really lie to us; he just “told us what he thought we wanted to hear.” I’m sure he was equally cooperative with NBC — although he’s beginning to spread his favors around. When a reporter asked him for more information after the broadcast, Leemans refused, explaining that he was saving himself for the Associated Press, “since I want to make something out of this.” I would like to make one personal remark about Mr. Leemans. I don’t know if he was lying to us initially or not — though I suspect from other evidence in my possession that his statement as he first gave it was accurate — but anybody, no matter what his financial straits, who tries to make a fast buck off the assassination of John Kennedy is several rungs below the anthropoid ape on the evolutionary scale.

PLAYBOY: On this same NBC show, newsman Frank McGee claimed that NBC investigators had discovered that your two key witnesses against Clay Shaw — Perry Russo and Vernon Bundy — both failed polygraph tests prior to their testimony before the grand jury. In the case of Russo, who claimed to have attended a meeting at David Ferrie’s apartment where Shaw, Oswald and Ferrie plotted the assassination, NBC said that “Russo’s answers to a series of questions indicate, in the language of the polygraph operator, ‘deception criteria.’ He was asked if he knew Clay Shaw. He was asked if he knew Lee Harvey Oswald. His ‘yes’ answer to both of these questions indicated ‘deception criteria.'” Did Bundy and Russo fail their lie-detector tests?

GARRISON: No, and NBC’s allegations in this area are about as credible as its other charges. The men who administered both polygraph tests flatly deny that Russo and Bundy failed the test. I’ll offer right now to make Russo’s and Bundy’s polygraph tests accessible to any reputable investigator or reporter the day Clay Shaw’s trial begins; I can’t do it before that, because I’m restrained from releasing material pertaining to Shaw’s guilt or innocence. Just for your information, though, the veracity of Bundy and Russo has been affirmed not only through polygraph tests but through hypnosis and the administration of sodium amytal — truth serum.

I want to make a proposition to the president of NBC: If this charge is true, then I will resign as district attorney of New Orleans. If it’s untrue, however, then the president of NBC should resign. Just in case he thinks I’m kidding, I’m ready to meet with him at any time to select a mutually acceptable committee to determine once and for all the truth or falsehood of this charge. In all fairness, however, I must add that the fact Bundy and Russo passed their polygraph tests is not, in and of itself, irrefutable proof that they were telling the truth; that’s why we administered the other tests. The lie detector isn’t a foolproof technique. A man well rehearsed and in complete control of himself can master those reactions that would register on the polygraph as deception criteria and get away with blatant lies, while someone who is extremely nervous and anxiety-ridden could tell the truth and have it register as a lie. Much also depends on who administers the test, since it can easily be rigged. For example, Jack Ruby took a lie-detector test for the Warren Commission and told lie after outright lie — even little lies that could be easily checked — and yet the Warren Commission concluded that he passed the test. So the polygraph is only one weapon in the arsenal we use to verify a witness’ testimony, and we have never considered it conclusive; we have abundant documentation to corroborate their stories.

PLAYBOY: Two convicts, Miguel Torres and John Cancler, told NBC that Vernon Bundy admitted having lied in his testimony linking Clay Shaw to Lee Oswald. Do you dismiss this as just another NBC fabrication?

GARRISON: Messrs. Cancler and Torres were both convicted by my office, as were almost half the men in the state penitentiary, and I’m sure the great majority of them have little love for the man who sent them up. I don’t know if they fabricated their stories in collusion with NBC or on their own for motives of revenge, but I’m convinced from what I know of Vernon Bundy that his testimony was truthful. NBC manipulated the statements of Cancler and Torres to give the impression to the viewer that he was watching a trial on television — my trial — and that these “objective” witnesses were saying exactly what they would say in a court of law. Actually — and NBC scrupulously avoided revealing this to its audience — their “testimony” was not under oath, there was no opportunity for cross-examination or the presentation of rebuttal witnesses, and the statements of Cancler, Torres and all the rest of NBC’s road company were edited so that the public would hear only those elements of their story that would damage our case. The rules of evidence and adversary procedure, I might add, have been developed over many years precisely to prevent this kind of phony side show.

Of course, these two convicts have been used against my office in variety of respects. Miguel Torres also claims I offered him a full pardon, a vacation in Florida and an ounce of heroin if he would testify that Clay Shaw had made homosexual overtures to him on the street. What on earth that would have established relevant to this case I still don’t know, but that’s his story. I think it was actually rather cheap of me to offer Torres only an ounce of heroin; that wouldn’t have lasted out his vacation. A kilo would be more like it. After all, I’m not stingy. Torres’ friend John Cancler, a burglar, has also charged that one of my investigators tried to induce him to burglarize Clay Shaw’s house and plant false evidence there, but he refused because he would not have such a heinous sin on his conscience. I suppose that’s why Cancler’s prison nickname is “John the Baptist.” I can assure you, if we ever wanted to burglarize Shaw’s home — which we never did — John the Baptist would be the last man on earth we’d pick for the job. By the way, Mr. Cancler was called before the grand jury and asked if he had told the truth to NBC. He replied; “I refuse to answer on the grounds that my answer might incriminate me” — and was promptly sentenced to six months in prison and a $500 fine for contempt of court.

PLAYBOY: The NBC special also claimed to have discovered that “Clay, or Clem, Bertrand does exist. Clem Bertrand is not his real name. It is a pseudonym used by a homosexual in New Orleans. For his protection, we will not disclose the real name of the man known as Clem Bertrand. His real name has been given to the Department of Justice. He is not Clay Shaw.” Doesn’t this undermine your entire case against Shaw?

GARRISON: Your faith in NBC’s veracity is touching and indicates that the Age of Innocence is not yet over. NBC does not have the real Clay Bertrand; the man whose name NBC so melodramatically turned over to the Justice Department is that of Eugene Davis, a New Orleans bar owner, who has firmly denied under oath that he has ever used the name Clay, or Clem, Bertrand. We know from incontrovertible evidence in our possession who the real Clay Bertrand is — and we will prove it in court.

But to make this whole thing a little clearer, let me tell you the genesis of the whole “Clay Bertrand” story. A New Orleans lawyer, Dean Andrews, told the Warren Commission that a few months before the assassination of President Kennedy, Lee Harvey Oswald and a group of “gay Mexicanos” came to his office and requested Andrews’ aid in having Oswald’s Marine Corps undesirable discharge changed to an honorable discharge; Oswald subsequently returned alone with other legal problems.

Andrews further testified that the day after President Kennedy was assassinated, he received a call from Clay Bertrand, who asked him to rush to Dallas to represent Oswald. Andrews claims he subsequently saw Bertrand in a New Orleans bar, but Bertrand fled when Andrews approached him. This was intriguing testimony, although the Warren Commission dismissed it out of hand; and in 1964, Mark Lane traveled to New Orleans to speak to Andrews. He found him visibly frightened. “I’ll take you to dinner,” Andrews told Lane, “but I can’t talk about the case. I called Washington and they told me that if I said anything, I might get a bullet in the head.” For the same reason, he has refused to cooperate with my office in this investigation. The New York Times reported on February 26th that “Mr. Andrews said he had not talked to Mr. Garrison because such talk might be dangerous, but added that he believed he was being ‘tailed.'” Andrews told our grand jury that he could not say Clay Shaw was Clay Bertrand and he could not say he wasn’t. But the day after NBC’s special, Andrews broke his silence and said, yes, Clay Shaw is not Clem Bertrand and identified the real Clay Bertrand as Eugene Davis. The only trouble is, Andrews and Davis have known each other for years and have been seen frequently in each other’s company. Andrews has lied so often and about so many aspects of this case that the New Orleans Parish grand jury has indicted him for perjury. I feel sorry for him, since he’s afraid of getting a bullet in his head, but he’s going to have to go to trial for perjury. [Andrews has since been convicted.]

PLAYBOY: You expressed your reaction to the NBC show in concrete terms on July seventh, when you formally charged Walter Sheridan, the network’s special investigator for the broadcast, with attempting to bribe your witness Perry Russo. Do you really have a case against Sheridan, or is this just a form of harassment?

GARRISON: The reason we haven’t lost a major case in over five years in office is that we do not charge a man unless we can make it stick in court. And I’m not in the business of harassing anybody. Sheridan was charged because evidence was brought to us indicating that he attempted to bribe Perry Russo by offering him free transportation to California, free lodgings and a job once there, payment of all legal fees in any extradition proceedings and immunity from my office. Mr. Russo has stated that Sheridan asked his help “to wreck the Garrison investigation” and “offered to set me up in California, protect my job and guarantee that Garrison would never get me extradited.” According to Russo, Sheridan added that both NBC and the CIA were out to scuttle my case.

I think it’s significant that the chief investigator for this ostensibly objective broadcast starts telling people the day he arrives in town that he is going to “destroy Garrison” —this at the same time he is unctuously assuring me that NBC wanted only the truth and he had an entirely open mind on my case. Let me tell you something about Walter Sheridan’s background, and maybe you’ll understand his true role in all this. Sheridan was one of the bright, hard young investigators who entered the Justice Department under Bobby Kennedy. He was assigned to nail Jimmy Hoffa. Sheridan employed a wide variety of highly questionable tactics in the Justice Department’s relentless drive against Hoffa; he was recently subpoenaed to testify in connection with charges that he wire-tapped the offices of Hoffa’s associates and then played back incriminating tapes to them, warning that unless they testified for the Government, they would be destroyed along with Hoffa.

A few years ago, Sheridan left the Justice Department — officially, at least — and went to work for NBC. No honest reporter out for a story would have so completely prejudged the situation and been willing to employ such tactics. I think it’s likely that in his zeal to destroy my case, he exceeded the authority granted him by NBC’s executives in New York. I get the impression that the majority of NBC executives probably thought Sheridan’s team came down here in an uncompromising search for the truth. When Sheridan overstepped himself and it became obvious that the broadcast was, to say the least, not objective, NBC realized it was in a touchy position. Cooler heads prevailed and I was allowed to present our case to the American people. For that, at least, I’m singularly grateful to Walter Sheridan.

PLAYBOY: How do you respond to the charge of your critics — including NBC — that you launched this probe for political reasons, hoping the attendant publicity would be a springboard to a Senate seat or to the governorship?

GARRISON: I’d have to be a terribly cynical and corrupt man to place another human being on trial for conspiracy to murder the President of the United States just to gratify my political ambition. But I guess there are a lot of people around the country, especially after NBC’s attack, who think that’s just the kind of man I am. That rather saddens me. I’m no Albert Schweitzer, but I could never do a thing like that. I derive no pleasure from prosecuting a man, even though I know he’s guilty; do you think I could sleep at night or look at myself in the mirror in the morning if I hounded an innocent man?

You know, I always received much more satisfaction as a defense attorney in obtaining an acquittal for a client than I ever have as a D.A. in obtaining a conviction. All my interests and sympathies tend to be on the side of the individual as opposed to the state. So this is really the worst charge that anyone could make against me — that in order to get my name in the paper, or to advance politically, I would destroy another human being. This kind of charge reveals a good deal about the personality of the people who make it; to impute such motives to another man is to imply you’re harboring them yourself.

But to look at a different aspect of your question, I’m inclined to challenge the whole premise that launching an investigation like this holds any political advantages for me. A politically ambitious man would hardly be likely to challenge the massed power of the Federal Government and criticize so many honorable figures and distinguished agencies. Actually, this charge is an argument in favor of my investigation: Would such a slimy type, eager to profiteer on the assassination, jeopardize his political ambitions if he didn’t have an ironclad case? If I were really the ambitious monster they paint me, why would I climb out on such a limb and then saw it off? Unless he had the facts, it would be the last thing a politically ambitious man would do. I was perfectly aware that I might have signed my political death warrant the moment I launched this case — but I couldn’t care less as long as I can shed some light on John Kennedy’s assassination. As a matter of fact, after this last murderous year, I find myself thinking more and more about returning to private life and having time to read again, to get out in the sun and hit a golf ball. But before I do that, I’m going to break this case and let the public know the truth. I won’t quit before that day. I wouldn’t give the bastards the satisfaction.

PLAYBOY: According to your own former chief investigator, William Gurvich, the truth about the assassination has already been published in the Warren Report. After leaving your staff last June, he announced, “If there is any truth to any of Garrison’s charges about there being a conspiracy, I haven’t been able to find it.” When members of your own staff have no faith in your case, how do you expect the public to be impressed?

GARRISON: First of all, I won’t deny for a minute that for at least three months I trusted Bill Gurvich implicitly. He was never my “chief investigator” — that’s his own terminology — because there was no such position on my staff while he worked for me. But two days before Christmas 1966, Gurvich, who operates a private detective agency, visited my office and told me he’d heard of my investigation and thought I was doing a wonderful job. He presented me with a beautiful color-TV set and asked if he could be of use in any capacity.

Well, right then and there, I should have sat back and asked myself a few searching questions — like how he had heard of my probe in the first place, since only the people we were questioning and a few of my staff, as far as I knew, were aware of what was going on at that time. We had been under way for only five weeks, remember. And I should also have recalled the old adage about Greeks bearing gifts. But I was desperately understaffed — I had only six aides available to work on the assassination inquiry full time — and here comes a trained private investigator offering his services free of charge. It was like a gift from the gods.

So I set Gurvich to work; and for the next couple of months, he did an adequate job of talking to witnesses, taking photographs, etc. But then, around March, I learned that he had been seeing Walter Sheridan of NBC. Well, this didn’t bother me at first, because I didn’t know then the role Sheridan was playing in this whole affair. But after word got back to me from my witnesses about Sheridan’s threats and harassment, I began keeping a closer eye on Bill. I still didn’t really think he was any kind of a double agent, but I couldn’t help wondering why he was rubbing elbows with people like that.

Now, don’t forget that Gurvich claims he became totally disgusted with our investigation at the time of Clay Shaw’s arrest — yet for several months afterward he continued to wax enthusiastic about every aspect of our case, and I have a dozen witnesses who will testify to that effect. I guess this was something that should have tipped me off about Bill: He was always enthusiastic, never doubtful or cautionary, even when I or one of my staff threw out a hypothesis that on reflection we realized was wrong. And I began to notice how he would pick my mind for every scrap of fact pertaining to the case. So I grew suspicious and took him off the sensitive areas of the investigation and relegated him to chauffeuring and routine clerical duties.

This seemed to really bother him, and every day he would come into my office and pump me for information, complaining that he wasn’t being told enough about the case. I still had nothing concrete against him and I didn’t want to be unjust, but I guess my manner must have cooled perceptibly, because one day about two months before he surfaced in Washington, Bill just vanished from our sight. And with him, I’m sorry to confess, vanished a copy of our master file.

How do you explain such behavior? It’s possible that Bill joined us initially for reasons of opportunism, seeing a chance to get in at the beginning of an earth-shaking case, and subsequently chickened out when he saw the implacable determination of some powerful agencies to destroy our investigation and discredit everyone associated with it. But I really don’t believe Bill is that much of a coward. It’s also possible that those who want to prevent an investigation learned early what we were doing and made a decision to plant somebody on the inside of the investigation. Let me stress that I have no secret documents or monitored telephone calls to support this hypothesis; it just seems to me the most logical explanation for Bill’s behavior. Let me put it this way: If you were in charge of the CIA and willing to spend scores of millions of dollars on such relatively penny-ante projects as infiltrating the National Students Association, wouldn’t you make an effort to infiltrate an investigation that could seriously damage the prestige of your agency?

PLAYBOY: How could your probe damage the prestige of the CIA and cause them to take countermeasures against you?

GARRISON: For the simple reason that a number of the men who killed the President were former employees of the CIA involved in its anti-Castro underground activities in and around New Orleans. The CIA knows their identity. So do I — and our investigation has established this without the shadow of a doubt. Let me stress one thing, however: We have no evidence that any official of the CIA was involved with the conspiracy that led to the President’s death.

PLAYBOY: Do you lend no credence, then, to the charges of a former CIA agent, J. Garrett Underhill, that there was a conspiracy within the CIA to assassinate Kennedy?

GARRISON: I’ve become familiar with the case of Gary Underhill, and I’ve been able to ascertain that he was not the type of man to make wild or unsubstantiated charges. Underhill was an intelligence agent in World War Two and an expert on military affairs whom the Pentagon considered one of the country’s top authorities on limited warfare. He was on good personal terms with the top brass in the Defense Department and the ranking officials in the CIA. He wasn’t a full-time CIA agent, but he occasionally performed “special assignments” for the Agency. Several days after the President’s assassination, Underhill appeared at the home of friends in New Jersey, apparently badly shaken, and charged that Kennedy was killed by a small group within the CIA. He told friends he believed his own life was in danger. We can’t learn any more from Underhill, I’m afraid, because shortly afterward, he was found shot to death in his Washington apartment. The coroner ruled suicide, but he had been shot behind the left ear and the pistol was found under his left side — and Underhill was right-handed.

PLAYBOY: Do you believe Underhill was murdered to silence him?

GARRISON: I don’t believe it and I don’t disbelieve it. All I know is that witnesses with vital evidence in this case are certainly bad insurance risks. In the absence of further and much more conclusive evidence to the contrary, however, we must assume that the plotters were acting on their own rather than on CIA orders when they killed the President. As far as we have been able to determine, they were not in the pay of the CIA at the time of the assassination — and this is one of the reasons the President was murdered: I’ll explain later what I mean by that. But the CIA could not face up to the American people and admit that its former employees had conspired to assassinate the President; so from the moment Kennedy’s heart stopped beating, the Agency attempted to sweep the whole conspiracy under the rug. The CIA has spared neither time nor the taxpayers’ money in its efforts to hide the truth about the assassination from the American people. In this respect, it has become an accessory after the fact in the assassination.

PLAYBOY: Do you have any conclusive evidence to support these accusations?

GARRISON: I’ve never revealed this before, but for at least six months, my office and home telephones — and those of every member of my staff — have been monitored. If there is as little substance to this investigation as the press and the Government allege, why would anyone go to all that trouble? I leave it to your judgment if the monitoring of our phones is the work of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union or the New Orleans Chamber of Commerce.

PLAYBOY: That’s hardly conclusive evidence.

GARRISON: I’d need a book to list all the indications. But let’s start with the fact that most of the attorneys for the hostile witnesses and defendants were hired by the CIA —through one or another of its covers. For example, a New Orleans lawyer representing Alvin Beauboeuf, who has charged me with every kind of unethical practice except child molesting — I expect that allegation to come shortly before Shaw’s trial — flew with Beauboeuf to Washington immediately after my office subpoenaed him, where Beauboeuf was questioned by a “retired” intelligence officer in the offices of the Justice Department. This trip was paid for, as are the lawyer’s legal fees, by the CIA — in other words, with our tax dollars.

Another lawyer, Stephen Plotkin, who represents Gordon Novel [another of Garrison’s key witnesses], has admitted he is paid by the CIA — and has also admitted his client is a CIA agent; you may have seen that story on page 96 of The New York Times, next to ship departures. Plotkin, incidentally, sued me for $10,000,000 for defaming his client and sued a group of New Orleans businessmen financing my investigation for $50,000,000 — which meant, in effect, that the CIA was suing us. As if they need the money. But my attorney filed a motion for a deposition to be taken from Novel, which meant that he would have to return to my jurisdiction to file his suit and thus be liable for questioning in the conspiracy case. Rather than come down to New Orleans and face the music, Novel dropped his suit and sacrificed a possible $60,000,000 judgment. Now, there’s a man of principle; he knows there are some things more important than money.

PLAYBOY: Do you also believe Clay Shaw’s lawyers are being paid by the CIA?

GARRISON: I can’t comment directly on that, since it relates to Shaw’s trial. But I think the clincher, as far as Washington’s obstruction of our probe goes, is the consistent refusal of the Federal Government to make accessible to us any information about the roles of the CIA, anti-Castro Cuban exiles and the para-military right in the assassination. There is, without doubt, a conspiracy by elements of the Federal Government to keep the facts of this case from ever becoming known — a conspiracy that is the logical extension of the initial conspiracy by the CIA to conceal vital evidence from the Warren Commission.

PLAYBOY: What “vital evidence” did the CIA withhold from the Warren Commission?

GARRISON: A good example is Commission Exhibit number 237. This is a photograph of a stocky, balding, middle-aged man published without explanation or identification in the 26 volumes of the Warren Report. There’s a significant story behind Exhibit number 237. Throughout the late summer and fall of 1963, Lee Oswald was shepherded in Dallas and New Orleans by a CIA “baby sitter” who watched over Oswald’s activities and stayed with him. My office knows who he is and what he looks like.

PLAYBOY: Are you implying that Oswald was working for the CIA?

GARRISON: Let me finish and you can decide for yourself. When Oswald went to Mexico City in an effort to obtain a visa for travel to Cuba, this CIA agent accompanied him. Now, at this particular time, Mexico was the only Latin-American nation maintaining diplomatic ties with Cuba, and leftists and Communists from all over the hemisphere traveled to the Cuban Embassy in Mexico City for visas to Cuba. The CIA, quite properly, had placed a hidden movie camera in a building across the street from the embassy and filmed everyone coming and going. The Warren Commission, knowing this, had an assistant legal counsel ask the FBI for a picture of Oswald and his companion on the steps of the embassy, and the FBI, in turn, filed an affidavit saying they had obtained the photo in question from the CIA. The only trouble is that the CIA supplied the Warren Commission with a phony photograph. The photograph of an “unidentified man” published in the 26 volumes is not the man who was filmed with Oswald on the steps of the Cuban Embassy, as alleged by the CIA. It’s perfectly clear that the actual picture of Oswald and his companion was suppressed and a fake photo substituted because the second man in the picture was working for the CIA in 1963, and his identification as a CIA agent would have opened up a whole can of worms about Oswald’s ties with the Agency. To prevent this, the CIA presented the Warren Commission with fraudulent evidence — a pattern that repeats itself whenever the CIA submits evidence relating to Oswald’s possible connection with any U.S. intelligence agency. The CIA lied to the Commission right down the line; and since the Warren Commission had no investigative staff of its own but had to rely on the FBI, the Secret Service and the CIA for its evidence, it’s understandable why the Commission concluded that Oswald had no ties with American intelligence agencies.

PLAYBOY: What was the nature of these ties?

GARRISON: That’s not altogether clear, at least insofar as his specific assignments are concerned; but we do have proof that Oswald was recruited by the CIA in his Marine Corps days, when he was mysteriously schooled in Russian and allowed to subscribe to Pravda. And shortly before his trip to the Soviet Union, we have learned, Oswald was trained as an intelligence agent at the CIA installation at Japan’s Atsugi Air Force Base —which may explain why no disciplinary action was taken against him when he returned to the U.S. from the Soviet Union, even though he had supposedly defected with top-secret information about our radar networks. The money he used to return to the U.S., incidentally, was advanced to him by the State Department.

PLAYBOY: In an article for Ramparts, ex-FBI agent William Turner indicated that White Russian refugee George De Mohrenschildt may have been Oswald’s CIA “baby sitter” in Dallas. Have you found any links between the CIA and De Mohrenschildt?

GARRISON: I can’t comment directly on that, but George De Mohrenschildt is certainly an enigmatic and intriguing character. Here you have a wealthy, cultured White Russian émigré who travels in the highest social circles — he was a personal friend of Mrs. Hugh Auchincloss, Jackie Kennedy’s mother — suddenly developing an intimate relationship with an impoverished ex-Marine like Lee Oswald. What did they discuss — last year’s season at Biarritz, or how to beat the bank at Monte Carlo?

And Mr. De Mohrenschildt has a penchant for popping up in the most interesting places at the most interesting times — for example, in Haiti just before a joint Cuban exile-CIA venture to topple Duvalier and use the island as a springboard for an invasion of Cuba; and in Guatemala, another CIA training ground, the day before the Bay of Pigs invasion. We have a good deal more information about Oswald’s CIA contacts in Dallas and New Orleans ù most of which we discovered by sheer chance — but there are still whole areas of inquiry blocked from us by the CIA’s refusal to cooperate with our investigation.

For public consumption, the CIA claims not to have been concerned with Oswald prior to the assassination. But one thing is certain: Despite these pious protestations, the CIA was very much aware of Oswald’s activities well before the President’s murder. In a notarized affidavit, State Department officer James D. Crowley states, “The first time I remember learning of Oswald’s existence was when I received copies of a telegraphic message from the Central Intelligence Agency dated October 10, 1963, which contained information pertaining to his current activities.” It would certainly be interesting to know what the CIA knew about Oswald six weeks before the assassination, but the contents of this particular message never reached the Warren Commission and remain a complete mystery.

There are also 51 CIA documents classified top secret in the National Archives pertaining to Lee Oswald and Jack Ruby. Technically, the members of the Commission had access to them; but in practice, any document the CIA wanted classified was shunted into the Archives without examination by the sleeping beauties on the Commission. Twenty-nine of these files are of particular interest, because their titles alone indicate that the CIA had extensive information on Oswald and Ruby before the assassination. A few of these documents are: CD 347, “Activity of Oswald in Mexico City”; CD 1054, “Information on Jack Ruby and Associates”; CD 692, “Reproduction of Official CIA Dossier on Oswald”; CD 1551, “Conversations Between Cuban President and Ambassador”; CD 698, “Reports of Travel and Activities of Oswald”; CD 943, “Allegations of Pfc. Eugene Dinkin re Assassination Plot”; and CD 971, “Telephone Calls to U.S. Embassy, Canberra, Australia, re Planned Assassination.”

The titles of these documents are all we have to go on, but they’re certainly intriguing. For example, the public has heard nothing about phone calls to the U.S. Embassy in Canberra, warning in advance of the assassination, nor have we been told anything about a Pfc. Dinkin who claims to have knowledge of an assassination plot. One of the top-secret files that most intrigues me is CD 931, which is entitled “Oswald’s Access to Information About the U-2.” I have 24 years of military experience behind me, on active duty and in the reserves, and I’ve never had any access to the U-2; in fact, I’ve never seen one. But apparently this “self-proclaimed Marxist,” Lee Harvey Oswald, who we’re assured had no ties to any Government agency, had access to information about the nation’s most secret high-altitude reconnaissance plane.

Of course, it may be that none of these CIA files reveals anything sinister about Lee Harvey Oswald or hints in any way that he was employed by our Government. But then, why are the 51 CIA documents classified top secret in the Archives and inaccessible to the public for 75 years? I’m 45, so there’s no hope for me, but I’m already training my eight-year-old son to keep himself physically fit so that on one glorious September morn in 2038 he can walk into the National Archives in Washington and find out what the CIA knew about Lee Harvey Oswald.

If there’s a further extension of the top-secret classification, this may become a generational affair, with questions passed down from father to son in the manner of the ancient runic bards. But someday, perhaps, we’ll find out what Oswald was doing messing around with the U-2.

Of course, there are some CIA documents we’ll never see. When the Warren Commission asked to see a secret CIA memo on Oswald’s activities in Russia that had been attached to a State Department letter on Oswald’s Russian stay, word came back that the Agency was terribly sorry, but the secret memo had been destroyed while being photocopied. This unfortunate accident took place on November 23, 1963, a day on which there must have occurred a great deal of spontaneous combustion around Washington.

PLAYBOY: John A. McCone, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, has said of Oswald: “The Agency never contacted him, interviewed him, talked with him or received or solicited any reports or information from him or communicated with him in any manner. Lee Harvey Oswald was never associated or connected directly or indirectly, in any way whatsoever, with the Agency.” Why do you refuse to accept McCone’s word?

GARRISON: The head of the CIA, it seems to me, would think long and hard before he admitted that former employees of his had been involved in the murder of the President of the United States — even if they weren’t acting on behalf of the Agency when they did it. In any case, the CIA’s past record hardly induces faith in the Agency’s veracity. CIA officials lied about their role in the overthrow of the Arbenz Guzman regime in Guatemala; they lied about their role in the overthrow of Mossadegh in Iran; they lied about their role in the abortive military revolt against Sukarno in 1958; they lied about the U-2 incident; and they certainly lied about the Bay of Pigs. If the CIA is ready to lie even about its successes — as in Guatemala and Iran — do you seriously believe its director would tell the truth in a case as explosive as this? Of course, CIA officials grow so used to lying, so steeped in deceit, that after a while I think they really become incapable of distinguishing truth and falsehood. Or, in an Orwellian sense, perhaps they come to believe that truth is what contributes to national security, and falsehood is anything detrimental to national security. John McCone would swear he’s a Croatian dwarf if he thought it would advance the interests of the CIA — which he automatically equates with the national interest.

PLAYBOY: Let’s get down to the facts of the assassination, as you see them. When — and why — did you begin to doubt the conclusions of the Warren Report?

GARRISON: Until as recently as November of 1966, I had complete faith in the Warren Report. As a matter of fact, I viewed its most vocal critics with the same skepticism that much of the press now views me — which is why I can’t condemn the mass media too harshly for their cynical approach, except in the handful of cases where newsmen seem to be in active collusion with Washington to torpedo our investigation. Of course, my faith in the Report was grounded in ignorance, since I had never read it; as Mark Lane says, “The only way you can believe the Report is not to have read it.”

But then, in November, I visited New York City with Senator Russell Long; and when the subject of the assassination came up, he expressed grave doubts about the Warren Commission’s conclusion that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone assassin. Now, this disturbed me, because here was the Majority Whip of the U.S. Senate speaking, not some publicity hound with an ideological ax to grind; and if at this late juncture he still entertained serious reservations about the Commission’s determinations, maybe there was more to the assassination than met the eye. So I began reading every book and magazine article on the assassination I could get my hands on — my tombstone may be inscribed “Curiosity Killed The D.A.” — and I found my own doubts growing. Finally, I put aside all other business and started to wade through the Warren Commission’s own 26 volumes of supportive evidence and testimony. That was the clincher. It’s impossible for anyone possessed of reasonable objectivity and a fair degree of intelligence to read those 26 volumes and not reach the conclusion that the Warren Commission was wrong in every one of its major conclusions pertaining to the assassination. For me, that was the end of innocence.

PLAYBOY: Do you mean to imply that the Warren Commission deliberately concealed or falsified the facts of the assassination?

GARRISON: No, you don’t need any explanation more sinister than incompetence to account for the Warren Report. Though I didn’t know it at the time, the Commission simply didn’t have all the facts, and many of those they had were fraudulent, as I’ve pointed out — thanks to the evidence withheld and manufactured by the CIA. If you add to this the fact that most of the Commission members had already presumed Oswald’s guilt and were merely looking for facts to confirm it — and in the process tranquilize the American public — you’ll realize why the Commission was such a dismal failure. But in the final analysis, it doesn’t make a damn bit of difference whether the Commission members were sincere patriots or mountebanks; the question is whether Lee Oswald killed the President alone and unaided; if the evidence doesn’t support that conclusion — and it doesn’t — a thousand honorable men sitting shoulder to shoulder along the banks of the Potomac won’t change the facts.

PLAYBOY: So you began your investigation of the President’s assassination on nothing stronger than you own doubts and the theories of the Commission’s critics?

GARRISON: No, please don’t put words in my mouth. The works of the critics —particularly Edward Epstein, Harold Weisberg and Mark Lane — sparked my general doubts about the assassination; but more importantly, they led me into specific areas of inquiry. After I realized that something was seriously wrong, I had no alternative but to face the fact that Oswald had arrived in Dallas only a short time before the assassination and that prior to that time he had lived in New Orleans for over six months. I became curious about what this alleged assassin was doing while under my jurisdiction, and my staff began an investigation of Oswald’s activities and contacts in the New Orleans area. We interviewed people the Warren Commission had never questioned, and a whole new world began opening up. As I studied Oswald’s movements in Dallas, my mind turned back to the aftermath of the assassination in 1963, when my office questioned three men — David Ferrie, Alvin Beauboeuf and Melvin Coffey — on suspicion of being involved in the assassination. I began to wonder if we hadn’t dismissed these three men too lightly, and we reopened our investigation into their activities.

PLAYBOY: Why did you become interested in Ferrie and his associates in November 1963?

GARRISON: To explain that, I’ll have to tell you something about the operation of our office. I believe we have one of the best district attorney’s offices in the country. We have no political appointments and, as a result, there’s a tremendous amount of esprit among our staff and an enthusiasm for looking into unanswered questions. That’s why we got together the day after the assassination and began examining our files and checking out every political extremist, religious fanatic and kook who had ever come to our attention. And one of the names that sprang into prominence was that of David Ferrie. When we checked him out, as we were doing with innumerable other suspicious characters, we discovered that on November 22nd he had traveled to Texas to go “duck hunting” and “ice skating.”

Well, naturally, this sparked our interest. We staked out his house and we questioned his friends, and when he came back — the first thing he did on his return, incidentally, was to contact a lawyer and then hide out for the night at a friend’s room in another town — we pulled him and his two companions in for questioning. The story of Ferrie’s activities that emerged was rather curious. He drove nine hours through a furious thunderstorm to Texas, then apparently gave up his plans to go duck hunting and instead went to an ice-skating rink in Houston and stood waiting beside a pay telephone for two hours; he never put the skates on. We felt his movements were suspicious enough to justify his arrest and that of his friends, and we took them into custody. When we alerted the FBI, they expressed interest and asked us to turn the three men over to them for questioning. We did, but Ferrie was released soon afterward and most of its report on him was classified top secret and secreted in the National Archives, where it will remain inaccessible to the public until September 2038 A.D. No one, including me, can see those pages.

PLAYBOY: Why do you believe the FBI report on Ferrie is classified?

GARRISON: For the same reason the President’s autopsy X rays and photos and other vital evidence in this case are classified — because they would indicate the existence of a conspiracy, involving former employees of the CIA, to kill the President.

PLAYBOY: When you resumed your investigation of Ferrie three years later, did you discover any new evidence?

GARRISON: We discovered a whole mare’s-nest of underground activity involving the CIA, elements of the paramilitary right and militant anti-Castro exile groups. We discovered links between David Ferrie, Lee Oswald and Jack Ruby. We discovered, in short, what I had hoped not to find, despite my doubts about the Warren Commission — the existence of a well-organized conspiracy to assassinate John Kennedy, a conspiracy that came to fruition in Dallas on November 22, 1963, and in which David Ferrie played a vital role.

PLAYBOY: Accepting for a moment your contention that there was a conspiracy to assassinate President John Kennedy, have you been able to discover who was involved — in addition to Ferrie — how it was done and why?

GARRISON: Yes, I have. President Kennedy was killed for one reason: because he was working for a reconciliation with the U.S.S.R. and Castro’s Cuba. His assassins were a group of fanatic anti-Communists with a fusion of interests in preventing Kennedy from achieving peaceful relations with the Communist world.

On the operative level of the conspiracy, you find anti-Castro Cuban exiles who never forgave Kennedy for failing to send in U.S. air cover at the Bay of Pigs and who feared that the thaw following the Missile Crisis in October 1962 augured the total frustration of their plans to liberate Cuba. They believed sincerely that Kennedy had sold them out to the Communists.

On a higher, control level, you find a number of people of ultra-right-wing persuasion — not simply conservatives, mind you, but people who could be described as neo-Nazi, including a small clique that had defected from the Minutemen because it considered the group “too liberal.” These elements had their canteens ready and their guns loaded; they lacked only a target. After Kennedy’s domestic moves toward racial integration and his attempts to forge a peaceful foreign policy, as exemplified by his signing of the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, they found that target.

So both of these groups had a vital stake in changing U.S. foreign policy — ideological on the part of the paramilitary rightists and both ideological and personal with the anti-Castro exiles, many of whom felt they would never see their homes again if Kennedy’s policy of détente was allowed to succeed. The CIA was involved with both of these groups. In the New Orleans area, where the conspiracy was hatched, the CIA was training a mixed bag of Minutemen, Cuban exiles and other anti-Castro adventurers north of Lake Pontchartrain for a foray into Cuba and an assassination attempt on Fidel Castro. David Ferrie, who operated on the “command” level of the ultra-rightists, was deeply involved in this effort.

The CIA itself apparently did not take the détente too seriously until the late summer of 1963, because it maintained its financing and training of anti-Castro adventurers. There was, in fact, a triangulation of CIA-supported anti-Castro activity between Dallas — where Jack Ruby was involved in collecting guns and ammunition for the underground — and Miami and New Orleans, where most of the training was going on. But then, Kennedy, who had signed a secret agreement with Khrushchev after the Missile Crisis pledging not to invade Cuba if Russia would soft-pedal Castro’s subversive activities in the Americas, began to crackdown on CIA operations against Cuba. As a result, on July 31, 1963, the FBI raided the headquarters of the group of Cuban exiles and Minutemen training north of Lake Pontchartrain and confiscated all their guns and ammunition — despite the fact that the operation had the sanction of the CIA. This action may have sealed Kennedy’s fate.

By the early fall of 1963, Kennedy’s plan for a d&eactue;tente with Cuba was in high gear. Ambassador William Attwood, a close personal friend of the late President, recounts that a thaw in U.S.-Cuban relations was definitely in the works at this time and “the President more than the State Department was interested in exploring the [Cuban] overture.” One of the intermediaries between Castro and Kennedy was the late television commentator Lisa Howard, who met secretly with Ernesto Che Guevara to prepare peace terms between the U.S. and Castro. Miss Howard was arranging a conference between Bobby Kennedy and Guevara when the President was shot in Dallas. In a United Nations speech on October 7, 1963, Adlai Stevenson set forth the possibility of a termination of hostilities between the two countries, and on November 19th. Presidential aide McGeorge Bundy, who was acting as an intermediary in the secret discussions, told Ambassador Attwood that the President wanted to discuss his plans for a Cuban-American d&eactue;tente in depth with him right after “a brief trip to Dallas.” The rest is history. One of the two heads of state involved in negotiating that detente is now dead, but the survivor, Fidel Castro, said on November 23rd that the assassination was the work of “elements in the U.S. opposed to peace,” and the Cuban Foreign Ministry officially charged that “the Kennedy assassination was a provocation against world peace perfectly and minutely prepared by the most reactionary sectors of the United States.”

Most Americans at the time, myself included, thought this was just Communist propaganda. But Castro knew what he was talking about. A few weeks after the assassination, the Cuban ambassador to the UN, Dr. Carlos Lechuga, was instructed by Castro to begin “formal discussions” in the hope that Kennedy’s peace plan would be carried on by his successor. Ambassador Attwood writes that “I informed Bundy and later was told that the Cuban exercise would be put on ice for a while — which it was and where it has been ever since.” The assassins had achieved their aim.

PLAYBOY: This is interesting speculation, but isn’t that all it is — speculation?

GARRISON: No, because we know enough about the key individuals involved in the conspiracy — Latins and Americans alike — to know that this was their motive for the murder of John Kennedy.

First of all, you have to understand the mentality of these people. Take the Cuban exiles involved; here are men, some of whom survived the Bay of Pigs, who for years had been whipped up by the CIA into a frenzy of anti-Castro hatred and who had been solemnly assured by American intelligence agencies that they were going to liberate their homeland with American support. They had one disappointment after another —the Bay of Pigs debacle, the failure to invade Cuba during the Missile Crisis, the effective crushing of their underground in Cuba by Castro’s secret police. But they kept on hoping, and the CIA kept fanning their hopes.

Then they listened to Kennedy’s famous speech at American University on June 10, 1963, where he really kicked off the new drive for a d&eactue;tente, and they heard the President of the country in which they’d placed all their hope saying we must make peace with the Communists, since “we both breathe the same air.” Well, this worries them, but the CIA continues financing and training their underground cadres, so there is still hope. And then suddenly, in the late summer of 1963, the CIA is forced by Presidential pressure to withdraw all funds and assistance from the Cuban exiles. Think of the impact of this, particularly on the group here in New Orleans, which had been trained for months to make an assassination attempt on Castro and then found itself coolly jettisoned by its benefactors in Washington. These adventurers were worked up to a fever pitch; and when the CIA withdrew its support and they couldn’t fight Castro, they picked their next victim — John F. Kennedy. That, in a nutshell, is the genesis of the assassination. President Kennedy died because he wanted peace.

PLAYBOY: How many people do you claim were involved in this alleged conspiracy?

GARRISON: Too many for their own security. If they had let fewer men in on the plot, we might never have stumbled onto it. But let me add one additional point here: The brief account I’ve just given you shouldn’t be construed to indicate that any of the legitimate anti-Castro organizations were involved in the assassination — or that all Minutemen were implicated. Nor should the fact that there was a conspiracy from the paramilitary right be used to start a witch-hunt against conservatives in general, any more than Oswald’s phony pro-Communist record should have been used to purge leftists from our national life. In this case, the very terminology of “right” and “left,” which is essentially an economic definition, has little validity as a description of those fanatic war lovers who were ready to assassinate a President because he worked for peace. If you go far enough to either extreme of the political spectrum, Communist or
fascist, you’ll find hard-eyed men with guns who believe that anybody who doesn’t think as they do should be incarcerated or exterminated. The assassination was less an ideological exercise than the frenzied revenge of a sick element in our society on a man who exemplified health and decency.

PLAYBOY: You’ve outlined the genesis of the alleged conspiracy as you see it. Will you now tell us how it was carried out — and by whom?

GARRISON: I won’t be able to name names in all instances, because we’re building cases against a number of the individuals involved. But I’ll give you a brief sketch of how the conspiracy was organized, and then point by point we can go into the participants we know about so far and the role we believe each played. Let me stress at the outset that what I’m going to tell you is not idle speculation; we have facts, documents and reliable eyewitness testimony to corroborate much of it — though I can’t lay all this evidence before you without jeopardizing the investigation. But there are many pieces of the jigsaw puzzle still missing.

Not one of the conspirators has confessed his guilt, so we don’t yet have an “inside” view of all the pre-assassination planning. In order to fill in these gaps for you, I’ll have to indulge in a bit of informed deduction and surmise.

It may sound melodramatic, but you can best envisage the plot as a spider’s web. At the center sit the organizers of the operation, men with close ties to U.S. and western-European intelligence agencies. One of them is a former associate of Jack Ruby in gun-smuggling activities and a dedicated neo-Nazi in close contact with neo-fascist movements in Great Britain, Germany, France and Italy.

Radiating out from these key men, the strands of the web include a motley group of political adventurers united only in their detestation of Kennedy and their dedication to the reversal of his foreign policy. One such man was David Ferrie. Another member of this group is an individual who deliberately impersonated Lee Oswald before the assassination in order to incriminate him: we believe we know his identity. Several others, about whom we have evidence indicating that they helped supply weapons to the plotters, were the right-wing extremists I mentioned earlier who broke off from a fanatic paramilitary group because it was becoming “too liberal.”

Also involved is a band of anti-Castro adventurers who functioned on the second, or “operative,” level of the conspiracy. These men include two Cuban exiles, one of whom failed a lie-detector test when he denied knowing in advance that Kennedy was going to be killed or having seen the weapons to be used in the assassination — and a number of men who fired at the President from three directions on November 22nd. The link between the “command” level and the Cuban exiles was an amorphous group called the Free Cuba Committee, which with CIA sanction had begun training north of Lake Pontchartrain for an assassination attempt on Fidel Castro, as I mentioned earlier. It was this group that was raided by the FBI on July 31st, 1963, and temporarily put out of commission. Our information indicates that it was shortly after this setback that the group switched direction and decided to assassinate John Kennedy instead of Fidel Castro, after the “betrayal” of the Bay of Pigs disaster.

That’s it in a nutshell, but I think the development of the conspiracy will become clearer if you ask me one by one about the individuals involved.

PLAYBOY: All right, let’s begin with Clay Shaw. What was his role in the alleged conspiracy?

GARRISON: I’m afraid I can’t comment even inferentially on anything pertaining to the evidence against Mr. Shaw, since he’s facing trial in my jurisdiction.

PLAYBOY: Can you answer a charge about your case against him? On March second of this year, shortly after Shaw’s arrest, Attorney General Ramsey Clark announced that Shaw “was included in an investigation in November and December of 1963 and on the evidence that the FBI has, there was no connection found between Shaw and the President’s assassination.” Why do you challenge the Attorney General’s statement?

GARRISON: Because it was not true. The FBI did not clear Clay Shaw after the assassination. You don’t have to take my word for it; The New York Times reported on June third that “The Justice Department said today that Clay Shaw. New Orleans businessman, was not investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation … The statement contradicted Attorney General Ramsey Clark … A Justice Department spokesman said that Mr. Clark’s statement last March second was in error.”

Now, the Attorney General’s attempt to whitewash Shaw via the FBI, as you pointed out, was made immediately after our office arrested him, and it really constituted the first salvo of the propaganda barrage laid down against us. The natural reaction of many people across the country to Clark’s statement, which was carried prominently on TV and in the press was, “Well, if the FBI cleared him, there can’t be anything to this whole conspiracy business.” Most defendants have to wait for trial before they’re allowed to produce character witnesses. When, three months later, the Justice Department finally admitted Clark was “in error,” the story appeared in only a few newspapers and wasn’t picked up by the radio or TV networks. But what was even more significant about the Justice Department’s attempt to bail out Shaw was the fact that the day after Clark’s statement, The New York Times’ Washington correspondent. Robert B. Semple, Jr., reported that he had been told by an unnamed Justice Department spokesman that his agency was convinced “that Mr. Bertrand and Mr. Shaw were the same man” — and that was the reason Clark released his untrue story about the FBI’s having cleared Shaw! In other words, knowing that our case was based on fact, the Justice Department deliberately dragged a red herring across the trail.

PLAYBOY: Are you free to discuss Oswald’s role in the conspiracy?

GARRISON: Yes, but before you can understand Oswald’s role in the plot, you’ve got to jettison the image of him as a “self-proclaimed Marxist” that the mass media inculcated in the public consciousness after his arrest on November 22nd. Oswald’s professed Marxist sympathies were just a cover for his real activities. I don’t believe there are any serious students of the assassination who don’t recognize that Oswald’s actual political orientation was extreme right wing. His associates in Dallas and New Orleans — apart from his CIA contacts — were exclusively right wing, some covert, others overt: in fact, our office has positively identified a number of his associates as neo-Nazis. Oswald would have been more at home with Mein Kampf than Das Kapital.

PLAYBOY: If Oswald wasn’t a leftist, what motivation would he have had for shooting at another right-winger, Major General Edwin Walker, eight months before the assassination

GARRISON: If he did it, his motive — which is to say the motive of those behind him — was a simple one: to ensure that after the assassination, people would ask this very question and assume that because Oswald had shot at General Walker, he must have been a left-winger. It was just another part of Oswald’s cover; if you defect to Russia, pass out pro-Castro leaflets on street corners and take a pot shot at General Walker, who on earth would doubt you’re a Communist?

Of course, if you really look deeply into this incident, there is no real proof that Oswald was the man who did it; the whole charge rests on the unsupported testimony of Marina Oswald, after she had been threatened with deportation if she didn’t “cooperate.” It makes little difference, though, whether this incident was prepared in advance to create a cover for Oswald or fabricated after the assassination to strengthen his public image as a Marxist.

But we’ve gotten ahead of ourselves. Let’s backtrack a bit to fill in the background of Oswald’s involvement in the conspiracy. After “defecting” to Russia, where he served as an agent for the CIA — perhaps this is where his knowledge about the U-2 becomes relevant — he returned to this country in June 1962, lived in Fort Worth and Dallas until April 1963, and then went to New Orleans, where he resumed his friendship with David Ferrie, whom he had met several years before when he belonged to a Civil Air Patrol unit led by Ferrie. We have evidence that Oswald maintained his CIA contracts throughout this period and that Ferrie was also employed by the CIA. In this regard, we will present in court a witness — formerly a CIA courier — who met both Ferrie and Oswald officially in their CIA connection. Parenthetically, Ferrie gave his name as Ferris to this witness — a name recorded without further explanation in Jack Ruby’s address book.

In 1963, Ferrie and Oswald worked together closely. They were two of the organizers of the group of anti-Castro exiles and Minutemen who trained north of Lake Pontchartrain for a foray into Cuba to assassinate Castro — the venture that changed direction in the summer of 1963 and chose John Kennedy as its new victim. Toward this end — for reasons that will become clear — it became Oswald’s role to establish his public identity as a Marxist. It appears that it was with this plan in mind that Oswald was sent to Mexico City in order to get a visa for travel to Cuba, where he planned to solidify his Marxist image, perhaps by making himself conspicuous with a few incendiary anti-Kennedy speeches, and then return to Dallas in time for the assassination. However, this end of the plot was frustrated because the Soviet and Cuban intelligence services apparently had Oswald pegged as an intelligence agent, and he was refused visas at both embassies.

Another way in which Oswald tried to establish his procommunism was by setting up a letterhead Fair Play for Cuba Committee — of which he was the only member — and distributing on street corners leaflets praising Castro. He made two blunders here, however. First, one of the men helping him hand out leaflets was a fanatic anti-Castro Cuban exile whom we’ve subsequently identified from TV footage of a street incident. Second, Oswald “blew his cover” by using the wrong address for his phony New Orleans Fair Play for Cuba Committee.

PLAYBOY: Will you elaborate on this second point?

GARRISON: Yes, because this incident ties together some of the strands of the spider’s web. At the time Oswald started his so-called Fair Play for Cuba Committee, two men —Hugh Ward and Guy Banister — operated a private investigative agency at 544 Camp Street in downtown New Orleans. There are some intriguing aspects to their operation. For one thing, Guy Banister was one of the most militant right-wing anti-Communists in New Orleans. He was a former FBI official and his headquarters at 544 Camp Street was a clearinghouse for Cuban exile and paramilitary right-wing activities. Specifically, he allowed his office to be used as a mail drop for the anti-Castro Cuban Democratic Revolutionary Front; police intelligence records at the time reported that this group was “legitimate in nature and presumably had the unofficial sanction of the Central Intelligence Agency.” It did.

Banister also published a newsletter for his clients that included virulent anti-Kennedy polemics. My office also has evidence that Banister had intimate ties with the Office of Naval Intelligence and the CIA. Both Banister and Ward were deeply involved in covert anti-Castro exile activities in New Orleans. Banister in particular seemed to have had an almost messianic drive to fight communism in every country in Latin America; and he was naturally of value to Cuban exiles because of his intimate connections with American intelligence agencies.

In the Ramparts article you mentioned earlier, ex-FBI agent Bill Turner revealed that both Banister and Ward were listed in secret Minutemen files as members of the Minutemen and operatives of a group called the Anti-Communism League of the Caribbean, which was allegedly used by the CIA in the overthrow of the Guatemalan government in 1954. So, in other words, these are the last guys in the world you’d expect to find tied up with left-wing or pro-Castro activities. Right? And yet, when Lee Harvey Oswald set up his fictitious branch of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee in New Orleans, he distributed leaflets giving the committee’s address as 544 Camp Street —Guy Banister’s office! Somebody must have pointed out to Oswald shortly afterward that he was endangering his cover by using this address, because he subsequently changed it to 4907 Magazine Street. But it’s certainly significant that at the inception of his public role as a pro-Castro activist, Oswald was utilizing the mailbox of the most militantly conservative and anti-Communist outfit in the city.

I might add that we have several witnesses who will testify in court that they saw Oswald hanging out at 544 Camp Street. I want to stress, however, that I have no evidence that Banister and Ward were involved in the plot to kill Kennedy. Their office was a kind of way station for anti-Castro and right-wing extremists passing through New Orleans, and it’s perfectly possible that they were completely unaware of the conspiracy being hatched by men like Ferrie and Oswald.

PLAYBOY: Were any of the other figures in the alleged conspiracy connected with Banister?

GARRISON: Yes, David Ferrie was a paid investigator for Banister, and the two men knew each other very well. During 1962 and 1963, Ferrie spent a good deal of time at 544 Camp Street and he made a series of mysterious long-distance phone calls to Central America from Banister’s office. We have a record of those calls.

PLAYBOY: Where are Banister and Ward now?

GARRISON: Both have died since the assassination — Banister of a heart attack in 1964 and Ward when the plane he was piloting for New Orleans Mayor De Lesseps Morrison crashed in Mexico in 1964. De Lesseps Morrison, as it happened, had introduced Clay Shaw to President Kennedy on an airplane flight in 1963.

PLAYBOY: Do you believe there was anything sinister about the crash that killed both Morrison and Ward?

GARRISON: I have no reason to believe there was anything sinister about the crash, though rumors always spring up in a case like this. The only thing I will say is that witnesses in this case do have a habit of dying at the most inconvenient times. I understand a London insurance firm has prepared an actuarial chart on the likelihood of 20 of the people involved in this case dying within three years of the assassination —and found the odds 30 trillion to one. But I’m sure NBC will shortly discover that one of my investigators bribed the computer.

PLAYBOY: Was Oswald involved with paramilitary activists and anti-Castro Cuban exiles in Dallas, as well as in New Orleans?

GARRISON: Oh, God, yes. In fact, many of his New Orleans contacts overlap with those in Dallas. Jack Ruby, who played a key role in smuggling guns to the anti-Castro underground — on behalf of the CIA — was one of Oswald’s contacts in Dallas. Furthermore, Oswald was virtually surrounded by White Russians in Dallas, some of whom were CIA employees.

Moreover, some of Oswald’s anti-Castro friends from Miami and New Orleans showed up in Dallas in October of 1963. In a “Supplementary Investigation Report” filed on November 23, 1963, by Dallas policeman Buddy Walthers, an aide to Sheriff Bill Decker, Walthers stated: “I talked to Sorrels, the head of the Dallas Secret Service, I was advised that for the past few months at a house at 3128 Harlandale, some Cubans had been having meetings on the weekends and were possibly connected with the Freedom for Cuba Party of which Oswald was a member.”

No attention was paid to Walther’s report, and on November 26th, he complained: “I don’t know what action the Secret Service has taken, but I learned today that some time between seven days before the President was shot and the day after he was shot, these Cubans moved from this house. My informant stated that subject Oswald had been to this house before.” This was the last that was ever heard of the mysterious Cubans at 3128 Harlandale. A significant point in Walthers’ report is his mention of the Freedom for Cuba Party. This appears to be a corruption of the anti-Castro Free Cuba Committee of which Oswald, Ferrie and a small cadre of neo-Nazis — including the man we believe was the “second Oswald” — were members. You may remember that on the night of the assassination, Dallas D.A. Henry Wade called a press conference and at one point referred to Oswald as a member of the “Free Cuba Committee” instead of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee. Jack Ruby, who just happened to be there, promptly chimed in to correct him. Ruby was obviously in the jail that night on a dry run prior to his successful murder of Oswald on Sunday — a possibility the Warren Commission never bothered to consider — and could hardly have been eager to draw attention to himself. However, he must have been afraid that if the press reported Oswald was a member of the “Free Cuba Committee,” somebody might begin an investigation of that group and discover its anti-Castro and ultra-right-wing orientation. And so he risked his cover to set the record straight and protect his fellow conspirators.

PLAYBOY: In regard to Oswald’s role in the conspiracy, you have said that “he was a decoy at first and then he was a patsy and then he was a victim.” Would you explain what you meant by that?

GARRISON: Oswald’s role in the proposed assassination of Kennedy, as far as he seems to have known, was strictly political: not to fire a gun but — for reasons that may not have been explained to him by his superiors at their planning sessions — to establish his left-wing bona fides so unshakably that after the assassination, quite possibly unbeknownst to him, the President’s murder would appear to be the work of a sharpshooting left-wing fanatic and thus allow the other plotters, including the men who actually shot Kennedy, to escape police attention and flee Dallas. Though he may not have known why he was instructed to do so, this was undoubtedly why he got the job at the Texas School Book Depository Building; we’ve learned that one of the members of the conspiracy was in a position to learn from perfectly innocent Dallas business contacts the route of the Presidential motorcade more than a month before Kennedy’s visit. The conspirators — more than probably not including Oswald — knew this would place him on the scene and convince the world that a demented Marxist was the real assassin.

PLAYBOY: Even if Oswald was unaware of his role as a decoy, didn’t he suspect that he might be double-crossed by his co-conspirators?

GARRISON: We have uncovered substantial evidence that he was influenced and manipulated rather easily by his older and more sophisticated superiors in the conspiracy, and it’s probable that he trusted them more than he distrusted them. But even if the opposite were true, I think he would have done what he was told.

PLAYBOY: Even if he suspected that he might be arrested and convicted as the President’s assassin?

GARRISON: As I said, I don’t think it’s likely that he was aware of his role as a decoy. But even if he was, it’s probable that he would have been given some cock-and-bull assurances about being richly rewarded and smuggled out of the country after Kennedy’s death. But it’s even more probable, in my opinion — if he did know the true nature of his role — that he wouldn’t have felt the necessity to escape. He would have known that no jury in the world — even in Dallas — would have been able to find him guilty of the assassination on the strength of such transparently contrived circumstantial evidence.

PLAYBOY: That’s debatable. But even if Oswald had been brought to trial for and acquitted of the assassination, what reason would he have had to believe that he would also be exonerated of involvement in the conspiracy — which you’ve admitted yourself?

GARRISON: I don’t want to evade your question, but I can’t answer it without compromising my investigation of a crucial new area of the conspiracy. I’m afraid I can’t discuss it until we’ve built a solid case. I can say, however, that whatever his knowledge of his role as a decoy, he definitely didn’t know about his role as a patsy until after the assassination. At 12:45 P.M. on November 22nd, the Dallas police had broadcast a wanted bulletin for Oswald — over a half hour before Tippit was shot and at a time when there was absolutely no evidence linking Oswald to the assassination. The Dallas police have never been able to explain who transmitted this wanted notice or on what evidence it was based; and the Warren Commission brushed aside the whole matter as unimportant. I think it’s obvious that the conspirators tipped off the police, probably anonymously, in the hope — subsequently realized — that all attention would henceforth be focused on Oswald and the heat would be taken off other members of the plot. We have evidence that the plan was to have him shot as a cop killer in the Texas Theater “while resisting arrest.”

I can’t go into all the details on this, but the murder of Tippit, which I am convinced Oswald didn’t commit, was clearly designed to set the stage for Oswald’s liquidation in the Texas Theater after another anonymous tip-off. But here the plotters miscalculated, and Oswald was not shot to death but was merely roughed up and rushed off to the Dallas jail — where, you may remember, he shouted to reporters as the police dragged him through the corridors on November 22nd: “I didn’t kill anyone — I’m being made a patsy.” The conspiracy had gone seriously awry and the plotters were in danger of exposure by Oswald. Enter Jack Ruby — and exit Oswald. So first Oswald was a decoy, next a patsy and finally — in the basement of the Dallas jail on November 24, 1963 — a victim.

PLAYBOY: Even if Oswald was a scapegoat in the alleged conspiracy, why do you believe he couldn’t also have been one of those who shot at the President?

GARRISON: If there’s one thing the Warren Commission and its 26 volumes of supportive evidence demonstrate conclusively, it’s that Lee Harvey Oswald did not shoot John Kennedy on November 22, 1963. Of course, the Commission concluded not only that Oswald fired at the President but that he was a marksman, that he had enough time to “fire three shots, with two hits, within 4.8 and 5.6 seconds,” that his Mannlicher-Carcano was an accurate rifle, etc. — but all these conclusions are actually in direct contradiction of the evidence within the Commission’s own 26 volumes. By culling and coordinating that evidence, the leading critics of the Commission have proved that Oswald was a mediocre shot; that the Mannlicher-Carcano rifle he allegedly used was about the crummiest weapon on the market today; that its telescopic sight was loose and had to be realigned before Commission experts could fire it; that the 20-year-old ammunition he would have had to use could not have been relied on to fire accurately, if at all; that the rifle quite possibly was taken from Oswald’s home after the assassination and planted in the Depository; that the Commission’s own chronology of Oswald’s movements made it highly implausible for him to fire three shots, wipe the rifle clear of fingerprints — there were none found on it — hide the rifle under a stack of books and rush down four flights of stairs to the second floor, all in the few seconds it took Roy Truly and Officer Marrion Baker to rush in from the street after the shots and encounter Oswald standing beside the vending machine in the employees’ cafeteria.

I could cite additional evidence proving that Oswald didn’t fire a rifle from the sixth floor of the Depository, but it would just be a recapitulation of the excellent books of the critics, to which I refer your readers. There are a number of factors that we’ve examined independently during the course of our investigation that also prove Oswald didn’t shoot at the President. For one thing, the nitrate test administered to Oswald on the day of the assassination clearly exonerated him of having fired a rifle within the past 24 hours. He had nitrates on both hands, but no nitrates on his cheek — which means it was impossible for him to have fired a rifle. The fact that he had nitrates on both hands is regarded in the nitrate test as a sign of innocence; it’s the same as having nitrates on neither hand. This is because so many ordinary objects leave traces of nitrate on the hands. You’re smoking a cigar, for example — tobacco contains nitrate; so if you were tested right now, you’d have nitrate on your right hand but not on your left. I’m smoking a pipe, which I interchange between my hands, so I’ll have traces of nitrate on both hands but not on my cheeks. The morning of the assassination, Oswald was moving crates in a newly painted room, which was likely to have left traces of nitrate on both his hands.

Now, of course, if the nitrate test had proved positive, and Oswald did have nitrate on one hand and on his cheek, that would still not constitute proof positive that he’d fired a gun, because the nitrates could have been left by a substance other than gunpowder. But the fact that he had no nitrate whatsoever on his cheek is ineluctable proof that he never fired a rifle that day. If he had washed his face to remove the nitrate before the test was administered, there would have been none on his hands either — unless he was in the habit of washing with gloves on.

This was a sticky problem for the Warren Commission, but they resolved it with their customary aplomb. An expert was dug up who testified that in a Mannlicher-Carcano rifle, the chamber is so tight that no nitrates are emitted upon firing; and the Commission used this testimony to dismiss the whole subject. However, the inventor of the nitrate test subsequently tested the Mannlicher-Carcano and found that it did leave nitrate traces. He was not called to testify by the Warren Commission. So the nitrate test alone is incontrovertible proof that Oswald did not fire a rifle on November 22nd.

We’ve also found some new evidence that shows that Oswald’s Mannlicher-Carcano was not the only weapon discovered in the Depository Building after the assassination. I recently traveled to New York for a conference with Richard Sprague, a brilliant man who’s been independently researching technical aspects of the assassination, and he showed me a hitherto unpublicized collection of film clips from a motion picture taken of the assassination and its aftermath. Part of the film, shot shortly after one P.M., shows the Dallas police carrying the assassination weapon out of the Book Depository. They stop for the photographers and an officer holds the rifle up above his head so that the inquisitive crowd can look at it. There’s just one little flaw here: This rifle does not have a telescopic sight, and thus cannot be Oswald’s rifle. This weapon was taken from the building approximately 20 minutes before Oswald’s Mannlicher-Carcano was “discovered” — or planted — on the premises.

To sum up: Oswald was involved in the conspiracy; shots were fired at Kennedy from the Depository but also from the grassy knoll and apparently from the Dal-Tex Building as well — but not one of them was fired by Lee Harvey Oswald, and not one of them from his Mannlicher-Carcano.

PLAYBOY: If Oswald didn’t shoot President Kennedy from the sixth-floor window of the Book Depository, who did?

GARRISON: Our office has developed evidence that the President was assassinated by a precision guerrilla team of at least seven men, including anti-Castro adventurers and members of the paramilitary right. Of course, the Ministry of Truth concluded — by scrupulously ignoring the most compelling evidence and carefully selecting only those facts that conformed to its preconceived thesis of a lone assassin — that “no credible evidence suggests that the shots were fired from … any place other than the Texas School Book Depository Building.” But anyone who takes the time to read the Warren Report will find that of the witnesses in Dealey Plaza who were able to assess the origin of the shots, almost two thirds said they came from the grassy-knoll area in front and to the right of the Presidential limousine and not from the Book Depository, which was to the rear of the President. A number of reliable witnesses testified that they heard shots ring out from behind the picket fence and saw a puff of smoke drift into the air.

Additional evidence supporting this can be found in the Zapruder film published in Life, which reveals that the President was slammed backward by the impact of a bullet; unless you abrogate Newton’s third law of motion, this means the President was shot from the front. Also — though they were contradicted later — several of the doctors at Parkland Hospital who examined the President’s neck wound contended it was an entrance wound, which would certainly tend to indicate that Kennedy was shot from the front.

In the course of our investigation, we’ve uncovered additional evidence establishing absolutely that there were at least four men on the grassy knoll, at least two behind the picket fence and two or more behind a small stone wall to the right of the fence. As I reconstruct it from the still-incomplete evidence in our possession, one man fired at the President from each location, while the role of his companion was to snatch up the cartridges as they were ejected. Parenthetically, a book on firearms characteristics was found in Ferrie’s apartment. It was filled with underlining and marginal notations, and the most heavily annotated section was one describing the direction and distance a cartridge travels from a rifle after ejection. Scribbled on a bookmark in this section, in Ferrie’s handwriting, were the figures, not mentioned in the text, “50° and 11 feet” —which indicates the possibility that Ferrie had test-fired a rifle and plotted the distance from the gunman to where the ejected cartridges would fall.

But to return to the scene of the crime, it seems virtually certain that the cartridges, along with the rifles, were then thrown into the trunk of a car — parked directly behind the picket fence — which was driven from the scene some hours after the assassination. If there had been a thorough search of all vehicles in the vicinity of the grassy knoll immediately after the assassination, this incriminating evidence might have been uncovered — along with the real authors of the President’s murder. In addition to the assassins on the grassy knoll, at least two other men fired from behind the President, one from the Book Depository Building — not Oswald — and one, in all probability, from the Dal-Tex Building. As it happens, a man was arrested right after the assassination as he left the Dal-Tex Building and was taken away in a patrol car, but like the three other men detained after the assassination — one in the railroad yard behind the grassy knoll, one on the railroad overpass farther down the parade route, and one in front of the Book Depository Building — he then dropped out of sight completely. All of these suspects taken into custody after the assassination remain as anonymous as if they’d been detained for throwing a candy wrapper on the sidewalk.

We have also located another man — in green combat fatigues — who was not involved in the shooting but created a diversionary action in order to distract people’s attention from the snipers. This individual screamed, fell to the ground and simulated an epileptic fit, drawing people away from the vicinity of the knoll just before the President’s motorcade reached the ambush point. So you have at least seven people involved, with four firing at the President and catching him in a crossfire — just as the assassins had planned at the meeting in David Ferrie’s apartment in September. It was a precision operation and was carried out coolly and with excellent coordination; the assassins even kept in contact by radio. The President, of course, had no chance. It was an overkill operation.

As far as the actual sequence of shots goes, you’ll remember that the Warren Commission concluded that only three bullets were fired at the President — one that hit just below the back of his neck, exited through his throat and then passed through Governor Connally’s body; one that missed; and one that blew off a portion of the President’s skull and killed him. Like most of the other conclusions of the Commission, this one contradicts both the evidence and the testimony of eyewitnesses.

The initial shot hit the President in the front of the neck, as the Parkland Hospital doctors recognized — though they were later contradicted by the military physicians at the Bethesda autopsy, and by the Warren Report. The second shot struck the President in the back; the location of this wound can be verified not by consulting the official autopsy report — on which the Commission based its conclusion that this bullet hit Kennedy in the back of the neck and exited from his throat — but by perusing the reports filed by two FBI agents who were present at the President’s autopsy in Bethesda, Maryland. Both stated unequivocally that the bullet in question entered President Kennedy’s back and did not continue through his body.

I also refer you to a photograph of the President’s shirt taken by the FBI, and to a drawing of the President’s back wound made by one of the examining physicians at Bethesda; the location of the wound in both cases corresponds exactly — more than three inches below the President’s neck. Yet the Commission concluded that this wound occurred in this neck. This, of course, was to make it more believable that the same bullet had exited from the President’s throat and slanted on down through Governor Connally. Even if this bullet had entered where the Commission claims and then exited from the President’s throat, it would have been possible for it to enter Governor Connally’s upper back at a downward angle, exit from his lower chest and lodge finally in his thigh — fired, as the Commission says it was, from the elevation of the sixth-floor window of the Book Depository — only if Connally had been sitting in the President’s lap or if the bullet had described two 90-degree turns on its way from President Kennedy’s throat to Governor Connally’s back. Clearly, the President’s throat wound was caused by the first shot, this one from the grassy knoll in front of the limousine; and his back wound came from the rear. I’ve already given you my reasons for reaching this conclusion.

PLAYBOY: If the first bullet was fired from the front, why wasn’t it found in the President’s body, or somewhere in the Presidential limousine?

GARRISON: The exact nature of the President’s wounds, as well as the disposition of the bullets or bullet fragments, are among the many concealed items in this case. I told you earlier about the men on the grassy knoll whose sole function we believe was to catch the cartridges as they were ejected from the assassins’ rifles. We also have reason to suspect that other members of the conspiracy may have been assigned the job of removing other evidence — such as traceable bullet fragments — that might betray the assassins. In the chaos of November 22nd, this would not have been as difficult as it sounds. We know that a bullet, designated Exhibit number 399 by the Warren Commission, was planted on a stretcher in Parkland Hospital to incriminate Oswald. The Commission concluded that this bullet allegedly hit both Kennedy and Governor Connally, causing seven wounds and breaking three bones — and emerged without a dent! In subsequent ballistics tests with the same gun, every bullet was squashed completely out of shape from impact with various simulated human targets. So, if the conspirators could fabricate a bullet, they could easily conceal one.

But to return to the sequence of shots: Governor Connally was struck by a third bullet — as he himself insisted, not the one that struck Kennedy in the back — also fired from the rear. A fourth shot missed the Presidential limousine completely and struck the curb along the south side of Main Street, disintegrating into fragments; the trajectory of this bullet has been plotted backward to a point of origin in the Dal-Tex Building. The fifth shot, which struck the President in the right temple, tore off the top of his skull and snapped him back into his seat — a point overlooked by the Warren Commission — had to have been fired from the grassy knoll.

There is also medical evidence indicating the likelihood that an additional head shot may have been fired. The report of Dr. Robert McClelland at Parkland Hospital, for example, states that “the cause of death was due to massive head and brain injury from a gunshot wound of the left temple.” And yet another shot may also have been fired; frames 208 to 211 of the Zapruder film, which were deleted from the Warren Report —presumably as irrelevant — reveal signs of stress appearing suddenly on the back of a street sign momentarily obstructing the view between the grassy knoll and the President’s car. These stress signs may very well have been caused by the impact of a stray bullet on the sign. We’ll never be sure about this, however, because the day after the assassination, the sign was removed and no one in Dallas seems to know what became of it.

Some of the gunmen appear to have used frangible bullets, a variant of the dumdum bullet that is forbidden by the Geneva Treaty. Frangible bullets explode on impact into tiny fragments, as did the bullet that caused the fatal wound in the President’s head. Of course, frangible bullets are ideal in a political assassination, because they almost guarantee massive damage and assure that no tangible evidence will remain that ballistics experts could use to trace the murder weapon. I might also mention that frangible bullets cannot be fired from a Mannlicher-Carcano, such as the Commission concludes Oswald used to kill the President. Also parenthetically, this type of bullet was issued by the CIA for use in anti-Castro-exile raids on Cuba.

In summation, there were at least five or six shots fired at the President from front and rear by at least four gunmen, assisted by several accomplices, two of whom probably picked up the cartridges and one of whom created a diversion to draw people’s eyes away from the grassy knoll. At this stage of events, Lee Harvey Oswald was no more than a spectator to the assassination — perhaps in a very literal sense. As the first shot rang out, Associated Press photographer James Altgens snapped a picture of the motorcade that shows a man with a remarkable resemblance to Lee Harvey Oswald —same hairline, same face shape — standing in the doorway of the Book Depository Building. Somehow or other, the Warren Commission concluded that this man was actually Billy Nolan Lovelady, an employee of the Depository, who looked very little like Oswald.

Furthermore, on the day of the assassination, Oswald was wearing a white T-shirt under a long-sleeved dark shirt opened halfway to his waist — the same outfit worn by the man in the doorway — but Lovelady said that on November 22nd he was wearing a short-sleeved, red-and-white-striped sport shirt buttoned near the neck. The Altgens photograph indicates the very real possibility that at the moment Oswald was supposed to have been crouching in the sixth-floor window of the Depository shooting Kennedy, he may actually have been standing outside the front door watching the Presidential motorcade.

PLAYBOY: Between June 25th and 29th, CBS telecast a series of four special shows revealing the findings of the network’s own seven-month investigation of the assassination. CBS agreed with the Warren Commission’s conclusion that Oswald was the assassin, that he acted alone and that only three shots were fired; but it theorized that the first shot was fired earlier than the Warren Commission believed, thus giving Oswald sufficient time to fire three well-aimed shots at the President with his Mannlicher-Carcano — and overcoming the implausibility of the Commission’s conclusion that he had scored two hits out of three shots in only 5.6 seconds. Don’t you consider this a logical explanation of the discrepancies in the Commission’s time sequence?

GARRISON: I’m afraid it’s neither logical nor an explanation.

In case your readers aren’t familiar with all the ramifications of this question, the Commission’s entire lone-assassin theory rests on the fact that all three shots were fired, as you point out, within a period of 5.6 seconds. Now, the film taken of the assassination by Abraham Zapruder proves that a maximum of 1.8 seconds elapsed between the time Kennedy was first hit and Governor Connally was hit — this is crystal clear from their own reactions — but it requires 2.3 seconds just to work the bolt on a Mannlicher-Carcano rifle. To escape this dilemma, the Commission produced the magical bullet, Exhibit 399, which I referred to earlier. Apart from the pristine condition of 399, the whole time sequence was the weakest link in the Commission’s shaky chain of evidence, and CBS seems to have taken it upon its shoulders to resolve the problem by inventing a new time sequence. What they did was to have a photo analyst, Charles Wyckoff, examine the Zapruder film and find that certain frames were blurred. Wyckoff arbitrarily decided that these blurs were caused by Zapruder’s physical reaction to the sound of shots ringing out — although by the same logic, Zapruder could just have sneezed.

Now, the Warren Commission had concluded that Kennedy would not have been visible to Oswald until Frame 210 of the Zapruder film; until then, he was obscured by an oak tree — and was first hit in Frame 222 or 223. But Wyckoff detected a blur in the vicinity of Frame 186; and on the basis of this, CBS speculated that Zapruder heard a shot at Frame 186 — the first shot in CBS’ revised time schedule — which Oswald allegedly fired at Kennedy through the branches of the oak tree. CBS even speculated that the bullet lodged in the trunk of the oak tree, and sent a team of men with metal detectors scurrying up it, but to no avail; the commentator explained that maybe someday more sophisticated detection devices would be developed and the bullet would be found. Sure.

This scenario, of course, gave Oswald several extra seconds in which to take careful aim and fire his subsequent shots — and thus let the Commission off the hook. The only trouble here is that the people who conducted the CBS study — like most defenders of the Warren Report — didn’t do all of their homework. They forgot, or chose to ignore, that by the Commission’s own admission, the bullet that missed Kennedy — the second bullet in the Commission’s sequence — hit the curb on Main Street near the railroad underpass 100 yards ahead of the limousine, shattering into fragments and causing superficial wounds on the face of a bystander, James Tague. But the trajectory of any bullet fired from the sixth floor of the Depository through the branches of the oak tree is such that it could not conceivably hit within a city block of the underpass. So please excuse me if I’m not overwhelmed by the ineluctable logic of CBS’ presentation.

And just let me add a footnote here: CBS made a great deal out of its assumption that the blurs on Zapruder’s film indicated a reflexive reaction to shots ringing out. But they never asked Zapruder about his statement to Secret Service agents after the assassination about the origin of the shots; along with the majority of the witnesses to the assassination, he said the shots came from the grassy knoll, on which he was standing — from behind the stone wall, which was only a few dozen feet from him, in the opposite direction from the Depository. Like the Warren Commission, CBS was scrupulously selective in its choice of evidence. Its broadcast wasn’t a hatchet job like the NBC show, but it was equally misleading and, however unintentionally, dishonest. I’m not imputing sinister motives to CBS; it appears that its greatest handicap was its own ignorance of the assassination.

PLAYBOY: To return to your own investigation of the assassination: Have you discovered the identity of any of the conspirators you say were involved in the actual shooting?

GARRISON: I don’t want to sound coy or evasive, but I’m afraid I can’t comment on that. All I can say is that this is an ongoing case and there will be more arrests.

PLAYBOY: Let’s move on to the events that followed the assassination. What reason do you have for believing that Oswald didn’t shoot Officer Tippit?

GARRISON: As I said earlier, the evidence we’ve uncovered leads us to suspect that two men, neither of whom was Oswald, were the real murderers of Tippit; we believe we have one of them identified. The critics of the Warren Report have pointed out that a number of the witnesses could not identify Oswald as the slayer, that several said the murderer was short and squat — Oswald was thin and medium height — and another said that two men were involved. The Warren Commission’s own chronology of Oswald’s movements also fails to allow him sufficient time to reach the scene of Tippit’s murder from the Book Depository Building.

The clincher, as far as I’m concerned, is that four cartridges were found at the scene of the slaying. Now, revolvers do not eject cartridges, so when someone is shot, you don’t later find gratuitous cartridges strewn over the sidewalk — unless the murderer deliberately takes the trouble to eject them. We suspect that cartridges had been previously obtained from Oswald’s .38 revolver and left at the murder site by the real killers as part of the setup to incriminate Oswald. However, somebody slipped up there. Of the four cartridges found at the scene, two were Winchesters and two were Remingtons — but of the four bullets found in Officer Tippit’s body, three were Winchesters and one was a Remington! The last time I looked, the Remington-Peters Manufacturing Company was not in the habit of slipping Winchester bullets into its cartridges, nor was the Winchester-Western Manufacturing Company putting Remington bullets into its cartridges.

I don’t believe that Oswald shot anybody on November 22nd — not the President and not Tippit. If our investigation in this area proves fruitful, I hope we will be able to produce in a court of law the two men who did kill Tippit.

PLAYBOY: How do you explain the fact that the Warren Commission concluded that the bullets in Officer Tippit’s body had all been fired from “the revolver in the possession of Oswald at the time of his arrest, to the exclusion of all other weapons”?

GARRISON: The Warren Commission’s conclusion was made in spite of the evidence and not because of it. To determine if Oswald’s gun had fired the bullets, it was necessary to call in a ballistics expert who would be able to tell if the lines and grooves on the bullets had a relation to the barrel of the revolver. The Commission called as its witness FBI ballistics expert Cortlandt Cunningham, and he testified, after an examination of the bullets taken from Tippit’s body, that it was impossible to determine whether or not these bullets had been fired from Oswald’s gun. Yet, on the basis of this expert testimony, the Warren Commission concluded with a straight face that the bullets were fired not only from Oswald’s gun but “to the exclusion of all other weapons.” They simply chose to ignore the fact that revolvers don’t eject cartridges and that the cartridges left so conveniently on the street didn’t match the bullets in Tippit’s body.

PLAYBOY: You mentioned earlier that a so-called “second Oswald” had impersonated the real Lee Harvey Oswald before the assassination in an attempt to incriminate him. What proof do you have of this?

GARRISON: I hesitate to use the words “second Oswald,” because they tend to lend an additional fictional quality to a case that already makes Dr. No and Goldfinger look like auditors’ reports. However, it is true that before the assassination, a calculated effort was made to implicate Oswald in the events to come. A young man approximating Oswald’s description and using Oswald’s name — we believe
we have discovered his identity — engaged in a variety of activities designed to create such a strong impression of Oswald’s instability and culpability in people’s minds that they would recall him as a suspicious character after the President was murdered.

In one instance, a man went to an auto salesroom, gave his name as Lee Oswald, test-drove a car at 80 miles an hour — Oswald couldn’t drive — and, after creating an ineradicable impression on the salesman by his speeding, gratuitously remarked that he might go back to the Soviet Union and was expecting to come into a large sum of money. Parenthetically, the salesman who described this “second Oswald” was subsequently beaten almost to death by unknown assailants outside his showroom. He later fled Dallas and last year was found dead; it was officially declared a suicide.

In another instance, this “second Oswald” visited a shooting range in Dallas and gave a virtuoso demonstration of marksmanship, hitting not only his own bull’s-eye but the bull’s-eyes of neighboring targets as well — thus leaving an unforgettable impression of his skill with a rifle. The real Oswald, of course, was a mediocre shot, and there is no evidence that he had fired a rifle since the day he left the Marines. Consequently, the fact that he couldn’t hit the side of a barn had to be offset, which accounts for the tableau at the rifle range.

I could go on and on recounting similar instances, but there is no doubt that there was indeed a “second Oswald.” Now, the Warren Commission recognized that the individual involved in all these activities could not be Lee Oswald; but they never took the next step and inquired why these incidents of impersonation occurred so systematically prior to the assassination. As it turned out, of course, the organizers of the conspiracy needn’t have bothered to go to all this trouble of laying a false trail incriminating Oswald. They should have realized, since Oswald was a “self-proclaimed Marxist,” that it wasn’t necessary to produce any additional evidence to convict him in the eyes of the mass media; any other facts would simply be redundant in the face of such a convincing confession of guilt.

PLAYBOY: You’ve given your reasons for believing that Oswald, despite his leftist “cover,” was involved with the conspirators and with the CIA. Do you have any evidence indicating that he was also connected with the FBI, as some critics of the Warren Report have alleged?

GARRISON: Let me preface my answer by saying that I believe the FBI was not given the full picture of Oswald’s CIA involvement. I have nothing but respect for the Bureau and feel that if it weren’t for the FBI reports still available in the Commission exhibits, the door would have been closed forever. While the CIA has behaved like a cross between the Gestapo and the NKVD, the FBI has worked assiduously in many different areas and gathered facts that have proved of great value to those interested in uncovering the truth about the assassination. It isn’t the FBI’s fault that dozens of its reports have been classified top secret in the Archives by order of certain officials in the Department of Justice. The trouble I face today is that, after four years, not only are these documents unavailable but the trail has grown cold in many areas. Ruby is dead. Ferrie is dead. Many other witnesses with valuable information have either been murdered or fled the country.

PLAYBOY: You still haven’t answered the question: Was Oswald involved with the FBI?

GARRISON: Well, I just wanted to phrase my reply in such a manner that it wouldn’t be misconstrued as a broadside against the entire FBI. Oswald may have been a petty informer for the Bureau, receiving small sums of money in return for information about left-wing activities in the Dallas-New Orleans area. But I must stress that there is no indication of any connection between Oswald and the FBI with regard to the assassination, and that his position with the FBI was in no way analogous to his position with the CIA; the FBI retains hundreds, perhaps thousands of such informants across the country and is no more responsible for their over-all pattern of political activity than the Internal Revenue Service is responsible for the behavior of its confidential informants on tax-evasion matters.

Oswald’s possible ties to the Bureau are never mentioned in the Warren Report, but a member of the Commission, Congressman Gerald Ford, revealed in his otherwise undistinguished book, Portrait of an Assassin, that the Commission was informed by Texas Attorney General Waggoner Carr and Dallas D.A. Henry Wade that Oswald had been employed by the FBI as an informant since September of 1962; his salary, they revealed, was $200 a month and his FBI code number was 179. The Warren Commission acted promptly on this information from two responsible Texas officials: Chief Counsel Rankin told the members of the Commission that “We have a dirty rumor that is very bad for the Commission … and it is very damaging to the agencies that are involved in it and it must be wiped out insofar as it is possible to do so by the Commission.”

The Commission then launched one of its typically thorough investigations: J. Edgar Hoover was asked if the alleged assassin of the President of the United States had been an employee of his; Mr. Hoover said “No”; and the Commission closed the case. If Congressman Ford hadn’t developed writer’s itch, we would never even have heard of the incident. Once again, the Commission made an unwise choice between tranquility and truth.

There is also other evidence linking Oswald to the FBI — though, again, not in any conspiratorial context. A Dallas police investigative report dated February 17, 1964, describes a police interview with Mrs. Teofil Meller, a White Russian émigrée in Dallas who had befriended Oswald and Marina. Mrs. Meller revealed, according to the report, that “she saw the book Kapital, which was written by Karl Marx, during one of these visits at Oswald’s house and became very worried about it. Subject [Mr. Meller] said he checked with the FBI and they told him that Oswald was all right.”

So here you have this “self-proclaimed Marxist,” who had defected to the Soviet Union, tried to renounce his American citizenship and was now allegedly active in pro-Castro activities, being given a clean bill of health by the FBI. It’s quite possible that this clean bill of health was originally issued by the State Department, which, in reply to an FBI request for information about Oswald’s activities in Russia — this was shortly after his “defection” — assured the Bureau that he was a solid citizen. So I don’t see anything sinister in all of this, at least as far as the FBI is concerned. The Bureau has to obtain information on subversion and it’s going to get what it needs not from Rhodes scholars and divinity students but from apparently marginal figures like Lee Oswald with an entree into the political underworld.

PLAYBOY: If you see nothing sinister in the FBI’s relationship with Oswald, why did you subpoena FBI agents Regis Kennedy and Warren De Brueys to testify before the New Orleans Parish grand jury?

GARRISON: Regis Kennedy is one of the FBI agents who interrogated David Ferrie in November 1963, and I hoped to learn from him what information the Bureau had elicited from Ferrie. But on the instructions of our old friend Attorney General Ramsey Clark, Kennedy refused to answer the questions put to him by the grand jury on the grounds of executive privilege. Warren De Brueys is a former FBI agent based in New Orleans who also questioned Ferrie in 1963. Between 1961 and 1963, De Brueys was involved with anti-Castro exile activities in New Orleans and was seen frequently at meetings of the right-wing Cuban Democratic Revolutionary Front. I’d like to find out the exact nature of De Brueys’ relationship with Lee Oswald. As long as Oswald was in New Orleans, so was De Brueys. When Oswald moved to Dallas, De Brueys followed him. After the assassination, De Brueys returned to New Orleans. This may all be coincidence, but I find it interesting that De Brueys refuses to cooperate with our office — significant and frustrating, because I feel he could shed considerable light on Oswald’s ties to anti-Castro groups.

PLAYBOY: On March 23, 1967, you ordered the arrest of Gordon Novel as a material witness in the conspiracy to assassinate President Kennedy, and you have subsequently sought his extradition from Ohio. What role do you believe Novel played in the alleged conspiracy?

GARRISON: I can’t go into all aspects of Novel’s activities, because we have a live case against him. Novel worked closely with David Ferrie and the anti-Castro Cuban exiles. In 1961, he raided a munitions bunker in Houma, Louisiana, with David Ferrie and a prominent anti-Castro exile leader, and the weapons seized were subsequently shipped by CIA agents to the counterrevolutionary underground in Cuba. He also worked for the Evergreen Advertising Agency in New Orleans, a CIA front that alerted anti-Castro agents to the date of the Bay of Pigs invasion by placing coded messages in radio commercials for Christmas trees.

Novel himself was a paid employee of the CIA. As I mentioned earlier, Novel’s own lawyer, Stephen Plotkin, has admitted that his client is a CIA agent. On May 23, 1967, Plotkin was quoted in the New Orleans States-Item as saying that “his client served as an intermediary between the CIA and anti-Castro Cubans in New Orleans and Miami prior to the April 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion.” And that same day, the Associated Press, which has hardly served as my press agent in this case, reported: “When Novel first fled from New Orleans, he headed straight for McLean, Virginia, which is the Central Intelligence Agency suburb. This is not surprising, because Gordon Novel was a CIA employee in the early Sixties.” There is no doubt that Gordon Novel was a CIA operative.

PLAYBOY: If the CIA, as you charge, not only refuses to cooperate with you but has actively obstructed your investigation, how are you in a position to know about Novel’s activities on behalf of the Agency?

GARRISON: The people of Louisiana pay my investigators to investigate. But in this specific instance, we’ve benefited by sheer luck. After Novel fled the city in March, my investigators and the city police both scoured his apartment for evidence, but Novel appeared to have covered his trail pretty effectively. I’m afraid, in this case, we weren’t as efficient as two young girls who moved into Novel’s apartment a few weeks later and, during a thorough house cleaning, found a penciled rough draft of a letter under a strip of linoleum on the kitchen-sink drainboard.

One of the girls gave it to her boyfriend, a student at Tulane University, and he in turn passed it on to one of his professors, who subsequently showed the letter to Hoke May, a reporter for the New Orleans States-Item. May had the letter examined by an independent handwriting analyst, Gilbert Fortier, who compared it with other samples of Novel’s writing and determined that the draft had been written by Novel — a fact that was confirmed by Novel’s attorney, who said that “everything in the letter as far as Novel is concerned is actually the truth.”

This letter makes fascinating reading. It is addressed to a Mr. Weiss, Novel’s apparent superior in the CIA. Novel tells Weiss: “I took the liberty of writing you direct and apprising you of current situation expecting you to forward this through appropriate channels. Our connection and activity of that period involved individuals presently about to be indicted as conspirators in Mr. Garrison’s investigation.”

Novel goes on to warn that my probe was in danger of exposing his ties to the Double-Chek Corporation in Miami, which the book The Invisible Government exposes as a CIA front that recruited pilots and saboteurs for the Bay of Pigs and subsequent anti-Castro adventures. Novel writes in the letter: “Mr. Garrison … is unaware of Double-Chek’s involvement in this matter but has strong suspicions.” He also adds that he lied to the FBI: “I have been questioned extensively by local FBI recently as to whether or not I was involved with Double-Chek’s parent holding corporation … My reply on five queries was negative. Bureau unaware of Double-Chek association in this matter.”

The letter indicates that Novel was growing edgy, because he complains: “We have temporarily avoided one subpoena not to reveal Double-Chek activities … We want out of this thing before Thursday, 3/— /67. Our attorneys have been told to expect another subpoena to appear and testify on this matter. The Fifth Amendment and/or immunity and legal tactics will not suffice.”

In case the CIA decided Novel was expendable, he seems to have taken out a kind of insurance policy: “Our attorneys and others are in possession of complete sealed files containing all information concerning this matter. In the event of our sudden departure, either accidental or otherwise, they are instructed to simultaneously release same for public scrutiny in different areas.”

Novel concludes his little billet-doux by urging the CIA to take “appropriate counteraction relative to Garrison’s inquisition concerning us through military channels, vis-a-vis the DIA man.” Interesting enough, the DIA is the abbreviation for the Defense Intelligence Agency, a top-secret group set up after the Bay of Pigs to supervise the CIA and ensure increased Administration control of CIA activities — a task at which it has proved spectacularly unsuccessful.

PLAYBOY: Novel subsequently fled New Orleans and took refuge in Ohio. Why were you unable to obtain his extradition?

GARRISON: The reason we were unable to obtain Novel’s extradition from Ohio — the reason we are unable to extradite anyone connected with this case — is that there are powerful forces in Washington who find it imperative to conceal from the American public the truth about the assassination. And as a result, terrific pressure has been brought to bear on the governors of the states involved to prevent them from signing the extradition papers and returning the defendants to stand trial. I’m sorry to say that in every case, these Jell-o-spined governors have caved in and “played the game” Washington’s way.

To give them the benefit of the doubt, I suppose it’s also possible that they just didn’t want to aid and abet an investigation that every official effort, overt and covert, has been made to discredit as irresponsible and unfounded. Whatever his motivation, Governor Rhodes of Ohio, to name one, has said that he would allow me to extradite Novel to stand trial on charges arising from the CIA-inspired burglary of the ammunitions bunker in Houma, Louisiana — but that I would not be allowed under the stipulations of the extradition agreement to question him about the assassination! In other words, it’s OK for me to send a man to jail on a burglary rap, but I mustn’t upset him by inquiring if he killed the President. I’m all in favor of protecting a defendant’s civil rights, but this is straight out of Alice in Wonderland.

PLAYBOY: The New Orleans States-Item of June 14, 1967, quoted Novel as saying that if he were granted immunity from the assassination investigation, he would be willing to testify on a number of points, including “international fraud, mysterious intelligence activities from November 1959 to date in the Southern quadrant of the U.S.A. and certain islands off Florida, seditious treason, hot war games and cold munitions transfers, ten 1950-model Canadian surplus Vampire jet supporter fighter aircraft and certain Cuban-Anglo-French sabotage affairs of early 1961.” Why did you reject his offer?

GARRISON: These are all intriguing aspects of Novel’s career as a U.S. intelligence agent, and I’d love to hear about them — especially his knowledge of seditious treason — but that isn’t the subject of my investigation.

PLAYBOY: Let’s move on from Gordon Novel to Jack Ruby, who you claim murdered Oswald to “silence” him. Do you have any evidence that Ruby and Oswald knew each other?

GARRISON: Though Ruby and the Warren Report denied it vehemently, there is simply no question about it. We didn’t even have to do a great deal of investigative digging; connections popped up everywhere we scratched the surface.

PLAYBOY: What evidence do you have to support your charge that Ruby was involved in anti-Castro exile activities with Oswald and Ferrie?

GARRISON: We have evidence linking Ruby not only to anti-Castro exile activities but, as with almost everyone else involved in this case, to the CIA itself. Never forget that the CIA maintains a great variety of curious alliances it feels serve its purposes. It may be hard to imagine Ruby in a trench coat, but he seems to have been as good an employee of the CIA as he was a pimp for the Dallas cops.

Just let me add parenthetically that I stress the word “employee” here as opposed to “agent.” The CIA employs many people in many different capacities, sometimes just on a retainer basis, and these individuals do not fall under the over-all authority of the CIA. I have solid evidence indicating that Ruby, Ferrie, Oswald and others involved in this case were all paid by the CIA to perform certain functions: Ruby to smuggle arms for Cuban exile groups, Ferrie to train them and to fly counterrevolutionary secret missions to Cuba, and Oswald to establish himself so convincingly as a Marxist that he would win the trust of American left-wing groups and also have freedom to travel as a spy in Communist countries, particularly Cuba.

But I have reason to believe that none of them was a salaried agent operating under a direct chain of command. In this particular case — though as with the others involved, it seems to have been unrelated to his CIA work — Ruby was up to his neck with the plotters. Our investigators have broken a code Oswald used and found Ruby’s private unlisted telephone number, as of 1963, written in Oswald’s notebook. The same coded number was found in the address book of another prominent figure in this case. We have further evidence linking Ruby to the conspiracy, but it involves testimony to be given in court in the future, so I can’t reveal it here.

On the broader point of Ruby’s involvement with anti-Castro exile activity, there can be no doubt whatsoever. Let me refer you here to the testimony of Nancy Perrin Rich before the Warren Commission. This lady arrived in Dallas in 1961 with her husband, Robert Perrin, a gun runner and one time narcotics smuggler and, through police intervention, secured a job as a bartender at Ruby’s Carousel Club.

She quit soon after and didn’t see Ruby again until one night when she and her husband, as she tells it, attended a conference of anti-Castro exiles presided over by a lieutenant colonel — an Army colonel, she thought. She testified that Robert Perrin was offered $10,000 if he would run guns to the underground in Cuba, and she haggled the sum up to $25,000. When Perrin demanded a cash retainer, a phone call was made and, shortly after, Mrs. Rich recounts, “I had the shock of my life … A knock comes on the door and who walks in but my little friend Jack Ruby … You could have knocked me over with a feather … and everybody looks like … here comes the Savior.” Ruby was the CIA bag man — or paymaster — for the operation, and he left immediately after handling over a large sum in cash to the colonel. Mrs. Rich and her husband subsequently bowed out of the gun-smuggling deal, because, in her words, “I smelled an element that I did not want to have any part of.”

Afraid of retaliation, she and Perrin fled from Dallas and hid out in several different cities, winding up finally in New Orleans. A year later, he was found dead of arsenic poisoning. Though it would be difficult to pick a slower and more excruciating way to kill yourself, it was officially declared a suicide. There are too many other instances of Ruby’s anti-Castro activity to go into here. Ruby appears to have been the CIA’s bag man for a wide variety of anti-Castro adventures. In this connection, let me point out that one of the documents classified top secret in the Archives is a CIA file entitled “The Activities of Jack Ruby.” Perhaps this will become a Book-of-the-Month Club selection in September 2038.

PLAYBOY: Even if Ruby was associated with certain Cuban exile groups, as you claim, couldn’t all of this be totally unrelated to the assassination?

GARRISON: It could be, but it isn’t. As a result of our investigation, I can say, with the same certitude that I can say the sun will rise in the east tomorrow morning, that Jack Ruby was involved in the conspiracy to kill John Kennedy. Much of the evidence we’ve uncovered about Ruby’s involvement relates to our court case against Clay Shaw, so the canon of legal ethics prevents me from broadcasting it before trial. But I will give you one bit of evidence, recently uncovered by our office, that links Ruby to the conspiracy.

Four days before the assassination, on November 18th, 1963, a young woman from Dallas named Rose Cheramie was thrown from a moving car on a highway outside Eunice, Louisiana. She was badly bruised and taken to the East Louisiana Hospital in Jackson, Louisiana. When she came out of sedation, on November 19th, she was distraught and sobbed that she had been thrown out of the car by associates of a man named Jack Ruby in Dallas. She claimed to have been sent by Ruby from Dallas to Miami to pick up a shipment of narcotics. When asked by a hospital attendant — who fortunately took notes of her remarks, in case the police had to be called in — why she had been hurled from the car, she replied that narcotics smuggling was one thing, but she drew the line at murder. The president, she said, was going to be killed in Dallas within a few days. At this point, sadly enough, the hospital authorities seemed to dismiss her as hysterical and lost interest in her story, although she repeated it in detail the next day. After the assassination, of course, people in the hospital became interested once more, but she had already checked out, leaving no forwarding address other than Dallas, Texas. There the story stood until a few months ago, when we began searching for Miss Cheramie, but it was too late. After the assassination, she was killed by a hit-and-run driver on a highway outside Dallas.

PLAYBOY: If Jack Ruby was really the sinister and cunning figure you paint him, why would he kill Oswald in the Dallas city jail, where his own apprehension and conviction for murder were inevitable? Wasn’t this more logically the act of a temporarily deranged man?

GARRISON: First of all, let me dispose of this concept of the “temporarily deranged man.” This is a catchall term, employed whenever the real motive of a crime can’t be nailed down. In the overwhelming majority of instances, the actions of human beings are the direct consequences of discernible motives.

This is the fatal flaw of the Warren Report — its conclusion that the assassination of President Kennedy was the act of a temporarily deranged man, that the murder of Officer Tippit was equally meaningless and, finally, that Jack Ruby’s murder of Oswald was another act of a temporarily deranged individual. It is, of course, wildly improbable that all three acts were coincidentally the aberrant acts of temporarily deranged men — although it’s most convenient to view them as such, because that judgment obviates the necessity of relentlessly investigating the possibility of a conspiracy.

In Jack Ruby’s case, his murder of Lee Oswald was the sanest act he ever committed; if Oswald had lived another day or so, he very probably would have named names, and Jack Ruby would have been convicted as a conspirator in the assassination plot. As it was, Ruby made the best of a bad situation by rubbing out Oswald in the Dallas city jail, since this act could be construed as an argument that he was “temporarily deranged.”

But I differ with the assumption of your question, because, while there could have [been] no doubt in Ruby’s mind that he would be arrested, he could very well have entertained hopes of escaping conviction. You’ve got to remember the atmosphere in Dallas and across the country at that time; when word was flashed to the crowd outside the jail that Oswald had been shot, they burst into wild applause. Ruby’s lawyer, Tom Howard, spoke for a sizable segment of public opinion when he said, “I think Ruby deserves a Congressional Medal,” and the largest-circulation newspaper in the country, the New York Daily News, editorialized after Oswald’s death that “the only good murderer is a dead murderer and the only good Communist a dead Communist.”

In the two days between his arrest and his liquidation, Oswald had been convicted by the mass media as the President’s assassin and as a Communist, and Ruby may well have felt that he would be acquitted for murdering such a universally despised figure. It turned out, of course, that he was wrong, and he became a prisoner of the Dallas police, forced over a year later to beg Earl Warren to take him back to Washington, because he wanted to tell the truth about “why my act was committed, but it can’t be said here … my life is in danger here.” But Ruby never got to Washington, and he’s joined the long list of witnesses with vital information who have shuffled off this mortal coil.

PLAYBOY: Penn Jones, Norman Mailer and others have charged that Ruby was injected with live cancer cells in order to silence him. Do you agree?

GARRISON: I can’t agree or disagree, since I have no evidence one way or the other. But we have discovered that David Ferrie had a rather curious hobby in addition to his study of cartridge trajectories: cancer research. He filled his apartment with white mice — at one point he had almost 2000, and neighbors complained — wrote a medical treatise on the subject and worked with a number of New Orleans doctors on means of inducing cancer in mice.

After the assassination, one of these physicians, Dr. Mary Sherman, was found hacked to death with a kitchen knife in her New Orleans apartment. Her murder is listed as unsolved. Ferrie’s experiments may have been purely theoretical and Dr. Sherman’s death completely unrelated to her association with Ferrie; but I do find it interesting that Jack Ruby died of cancer a few weeks after his conviction for murder had been overruled in appeals court and he was ordered to stand trial outside of Dallas — thus allowing him to speak freely if he so desired. I would also note that there was little hesitancy in killing Lee Harvey Oswald in order to prevent him from talking, so there is no reason to suspect that any more consideration would have been shown Jack Ruby if he had posed a threat to the architects of the conspiracy.

PLAYBOY: You’ve claimed that many of the people involved in the conspiracy were “neo-Nazi” in their political orientation. What would motivate Ruby, a Jew, to work with such people?

GARRISON: Money. As far as my office has been able to determine, Jack Ruby had no strong political views of his own. Historically, of course, there have been a number of self-hating Jews who abetted their own tormentors: Adolf Hitler’s mentor in Vienna, Karl Lueger, was born a Jew, and I understand that one of the leading pro-Nazis in New York City, a retired millionaire who finances anti-Jewish activity across the country, is the son of a rabbi.

But I don’t believe Jack Ruby falls into this category; he was just a hoodlum out for a buck. I will say — with the understanding that it’s pure speculation — it’s not impossible that Jack Ruby developed certain guilt feelings in prison over his role in the plot. Remember his repeated lament, “Now there will be pogroms. They will kill all the Jews.”? Most people assumed this was just the fantasy of a crumbling mind. But maybe Jack Ruby knew better than the rest of us what the master-racist authors of the assassination had in mind for the country.

PLAYBOY: Let’s move on from Jack Ruby to David Ferrie. Wesley Liebeler, the Warren Commission counsel who handled the New Orleans end of the inquiry, said Ferrie “was picked up shortly after the assassination and questioned by local officials of the FBI. I remember specifically doing up a substantial stack of FBI reports on Ferrie that we reviewed in order to make our determination.” He states that the FBI reports on Ferrie were not included in the Commission’s 26 volumes of evidence, “because it was so clear he wasn’t involved.” Why do you refuse to accept this explanation?

GARRISON: I think it’s a lovely explanation. Now perhaps Mr. Liebeler will intercede with the Department of Justice to release 25 pages of the FBI report on Ferrie that have been classified top secret in the Archives. Then we’ll all have a chance to see for ourselves how clear it is that Ferrie wasn’t involved. Every scrap of evidence we’ve uncovered — and it hasn’t been difficult to find — reveals not only the fact of his involvement but the reasons for it. His politics were ultra-right wing, as I indicated earlier, but we’ve been able to determine conclusively that his motivation was closer to that of the Cuban exiles on the “operative” level — a burning hatred of Fidel Castro.

When Castro was a guerrilla in the Sierra Maestra, Ferrie is reliably reported to have piloted guns for him. But in 1959, when Castro started to show his Marxist colors, Ferrie appears to have felt betrayed and reacted against Castro with all the bitterness of a suitor jilted by his girl. From that moment on, he dedicated himself to Castro’s overthrow and began working with exile groups such as the Cuban Democratic Revolutionary Front and planning airborne missions against Castro’s military installations. He was reported to have been paid up to $1500 a mission by an ex-Batista official named Eladio del Valle. But I haven’t been able to check out Del Valle’s involvement with Ferrie, because on February 22, 1967, the same day Ferrie died in New Orleans, Del Valle’s head was split open by a hatchet and he was shot through the heart in Miami. His murder is listed as unsolved by the Miami police.

In any case, Ferrie was recruited by the CIA, which employed hundreds of such people in their network of anti-Castro exile activities. From the Bay of Pigs on, he hated Kennedy as much as he did Castro; he felt that J.F.K. had betrayed the invasion brigade by not sending in air cover. As the events I described earlier led to a détente between Russia and America, and as the FBI — under Kennedy’s orders — started cracking down on the CIA-supported anti-Castro underground, Ferrie’s hatred for Kennedy grew more and more obsessive.

Let me add here that this isn’t just speculation on my part; we have a number of reliable witnesses who were privy to Ferrie’s thoughts at this period and saw his hatred of Kennedy develop into a driving force. After the assassination, as a matter of fact, something psychologically curious happened to Ferrie: He dropped out of anti-Castro exile activities, left the pay of the CIA and drifted aimlessly while his emotional problems increased to the point where he was totally dependent on huge doses of tranquilizers and barbiturates. I don’t know if Ferrie ever experienced any guilt about the assassination itself; but in his last months, he was a tortured man.

PLAYBOY: After Ferrie’s death, you called it “an apparent suicide,” but the coroner announced that the autopsy showed death was due to a ruptured blood vessel at the base of the brain, which caused a fatal hemorrhage. Have you subsequently resolved the discrepancy in your points of view?

GARRISON: Dr. Nicholas Chetta is an excellent coroner, and inasmuch as he found a total absence of traceable poisons or barbiturates in Ferrie’s system, I would respect his opinion that it was a natural death. On the other hand, I can’t help but lend a certain weight to two suicide notes Ferrie left in his apartment, one of which said how sweet it was to finally leave this wretched life. I suppose it could just be a weird coincidence that the night Ferrie penned two suicide notes, he died of natural causes.

PLAYBOY: Your critics have charged that your relentless investigation of Ferrie and the publicity the press gave to your charges against him induced the state of hypertension that was said to have caused his fatal hemorrhage. Do you feel in any way responsible for Ferrie’s death?

GARRISON: I had nothing but pity for Dave Ferrie while he was alive, and I have nothing but pity for him now that he’s dead. Ferrie was a pathetic and tortured creature, a genuinely brilliant man whose twisted drives locked him into his own private hell. If I had been able to help Ferrie, I would have; but he was in too deep and he was terrified. From the moment he realized we had looked behind the facade and established that Lee Oswald was anything but a Communist, from the moment he knew we had discovered the role of the CIA and anti-Castro adventurers in the assassination, Ferrie began to crumble psychologically. So, to answer your question directly — yes, I suppose I may have been responsible for Ferrie’s death. If I had left this case alone, if I had allowed Kennedy’s murderers to continue to walk the streets of America unimpeded, Dave Ferrie would probably be alive today. I don’t feel personally guilty about Ferrie’s death, but I do feel terribly sorry for the waste of another human being.

In a deeper sense, though, Dave Ferrie died on November 22, 1963. From that moment on, he couldn’t save himself, and I couldn’t save him. Ferrie could have quoted as his epitaph the last words of the Serb partisan leader Draja Mikhailovitch before Tito shot him for collaboration: “I was swept up in the gales of history.”

PLAYBOY: Many of the professional critics of the Warren Commission appear to be prompted by political motives: Those on the left are anxious to prove Kennedy was murdered by a conspiracy within the establishment; and those on the right are eager to prove the assassination was an act of “the international Communist conspiracy.” Where would you place yourself on the political spectrum — right, left of center?

GARRISON: That’s a question I’ve asked myself frequently, especially since this investigation started and I found myself in an incongruous and disillusioning battle with agencies of my own Government. I can’t just sit down and add up my political beliefs like a mathematical sum, but I think, in balance, I’d turn up somewhere around the middle.

Over the years, I guess I’ve developed a somewhat conservative attitude — in the traditional libertarian sense of conservatism, as opposed to the thumbscrew-and-rack conservatism of the paramilitary right — particularly in regard to the importance of the individual as opposed to the state and the individual’s own responsibilities to humanity. I don’t think I’ve ever tried to formulate this into a coherent political philosophy, but at the root of my concern is the conviction that a human being is not a digit; he’s not a digit in regard to the state and he’s not a digit in the sense that he can ignore his fellow men and his obligations to society.

I was with the artillery supporting the division that took Dachau; I arrived there the day after it was taken, when bulldozers were making pyramids of human bodies outside the camp. What I saw there has haunted me ever since. Because the law is my profession, I’ve always wondered about the judges throughout Germany who sentenced men to jail for picking pockets at a time when their own government was jerking gold from the teeth of men murdered in gas chambers. I’m concerned about all of this because it isn’t a German phenomenon; it’s a human phenomenon. It can happen here, because there has been no change and there has been no progress and there has been no increase of understanding on the part of men for their fellow man.

What worries me deeply, and I have seen it exemplified in this case, is that we in America are in great danger of slowly evolving into a proto-fascist state. It will be a different kind of fascist state from the one of the Germans evolved; theirs grew out of depression and promised bread and work, while ours, curiously enough, seems to be emerging from prosperity. But in the final analysis, it’s based on power and on the inability to put human goals and human conscience above the dictates of the state. Its origins can be traced in the tremendous war machine we’ve built since 1945, the “military-industrial complex” that Eisenhower vainly warned us about, which now dominates every aspect of our life. The power of the states and Congress has gradually been abandoned to the Executive Department, because of war conditions; and we’ve seen the creation of an arrogant, swollen bureaucratic complex totally unfettered by the checks and balances of the Constitution.

In a very real and terrifying sense, our Government is the CIA and the Pentagon, with Congress reduced to a debating society. Of course, you can’t spot this trend to fascism by casually looking around. You can’t look for such familiar signs as the swastika, because they won’t be there. We won’t build Dachaus and Auschwitzes; the clever manipulation of the mass media is creating a concentration camp of the mind that promises to be far more effective in keeping the populace in line. We’re not going to wake up one morning and suddenly find ourselves in gray uniforms goose-stepping off to work. But this isn’t the test. The test is: What happens to the individual who dissents? In Nazi Germany, he was physically destroyed; here, the process is more subtle, but the end results can be the same.

I’ve learned enough about the machinations of the CIA in the past year to know that this is no longer the dreamworld America I once believed in. The imperatives of the population explosion, which almost inevitably will lessen our belief in the sanctity of the individual human life, combined with the awesome power of the CIA and the defense establishment, seem destined to seal the fate of the America I knew as a child and bring us into a new Orwellian world where the citizen exists for the state and where raw power justifies any and every immoral act. I’ve always had a kind of knee-jerk trust in my Government’s basic integrity, whatever political blunders it may make. But I’ve come to realize that in Washington, deceiving and manipulating the public are viewed by some as the natural prerogatives of office. Huey Long once said, “Fascism will come to America in the name of anti-fascism.” I’m afraid, based on my own experience, that fascism will come to America in the name of national security.

PLAYBOY: Considering all the criticism that has come your way, would you still launch your investigation into the assassination if you had it to do over again?

GARRISON: As long as the men who shot John Kennedy to death in Dallas are walking the streets of America, I will continue this investigation. I have no regrets about initiating it and I have no regrets about carrying it on to its conclusion. If it takes me 30 years to nail every one of the assassins, then I will continue this investigation for 30 years. I owe that not only to Jack Kennedy but to my country.

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“Big Al” Carone

Married to the Mob and the CIA

Was “Big Al” Carone a prominent Mafioso, CIA operative, NYPD detective, bagman for George Bush and Oliver North, drug dealer, assassin and a “man of honor?”

by Michael C. Ruppert, High Times, September 11, 2002

“The plaintiffs would have this court believe that Mr. Carone has played the role of Forrest Gump, popping up as a key player in virtually every government conspiracy theory promulgated over the last 50 years. This court simply cannot view any of the plaintiffs’ claims as plausible, especially in light of the complete lack of even a scintilla of evidence except for one patently forged document and self-serving declarations. Accordingly, the court dismisses the case pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1).” — Ricardo M. Urbina, United States District Judge, February 27, 2001

I first walked into this case in late 1983 when I got a call from former CIA case officer David MacMichael. As a matter of conscience, Dave had for many years been speaking out about illegal and inhumane operations being conducted by the CIA.

“Mike, there’s a woman in New Mexico named Dee Ferdinand. She says that her father, a guy named Albert Carone, was a high-level agency operative. He was also NYPD. She says that he was also in the Mafia. He’s been dead since ’90 and every record about him has apparently been sanitized. The family’s been denied benefits and had bank accounts stolen even though the daughter has records. She says her father knew Ollie North and George Bush personally. I think it’s something you might want to look into.”

It bit me like a pit bull. I had just started writing about CIA operations again after a disastrous and painful experience as the Los Angeles County press spokesman for the Ross Perot presidential campaign of 1992. That had proven to be yet another case of unmet expectations in my quest to find an honorable man. I had also just spent months putting together a conference in Indiana for the families of what was to ultimately become 109 US servicemen who had been “suicided” or died under suspicious circumstances. In almost every case where I could get information, I had discovered that there was a connection between the deaths and covert operations. Quite often there were links, reported by the dead serviceman to his family, of drug smuggling or criminal activity on or around military bases where they served.

My then fiancée, Mary, and I had brought many of these families together in a small town in Indiana in the fall of 1993. The ultimate pain for all of them was the discovery that there was no honor in their own government. The deaths of all of their sons, husbands and brothers had been dismissed as suicides or accidents. The cover-ups had been sloppy, arrogant and brutal in their apparent contempt for evidence. All of the families had vowed to do whatever it took to break the cases. None of them understood that they all would ultimately fail.

Now I was presented with a case where it had happened to someone on the inside–a bad guy. Would it be any different?

Mary and I packed our bags and flew to Albuquerque. My “cop instincts” had always served me well, and there was something about the demeanor of Desiree (Dee) Ferdinand, with her disarming Brooklyn accent reminiscent of Michelle Pfeiffer in Married to the Mob, that allowed me to instantly trust her. Her husband, Tommy Ferdinand, had struck me the same way. No b.s. and a sense of humor that I wish he still had today. I had told Dee up front where I was coming from. I didn’t like bad guys. She had been just as up-front that she knew that her father was a crook, a drug dealer, a CIA operative, a bagman, a killer and an all-around not-very-nice person. But for her it was a matter of honor.

That, I understood.

The Ferdinands rented a large ranch house in Corrales, just north of the city. On two acres Dee boarded and cared for six horses. She had a son, Vinnie, who was in his early twenties and going to college. Vinnie would soon become a Bernalillo County sheriff’s deputy. She had a younger daughter, Nikki, who was still living at home. Also living at the house was Tommy’s mother, Irene, and a not-too-friendly Rotweiler named Mikie which Mary instantly named “Cujo.”

The hospitality was genuine New York Italian and the food was just as authentic. Over two and a half days we talked. I asked questions and looked at documents and papers retained by Dee Carone Ferdinand after the death of her father, Albert Vincent Carone, in January 1990.

HONOR, YES: HONEST, NO

In a videotaped deposition made in September 1998 as she and a former Green Beret named Bill Tyree brought suit against the CIA, Dee Ferdinand was asked to describe what kind of a man her father was. “He was known as man of great respect, a man of honor. That is not to say that he was honest. He wasn’t. He did many bad things. But he lived by a code of honor. If he said something was so, you could take it to the bank.”

Over the years I have talked to almost every family member who knew Big Al, including Dee’s sister Carla and her husband John. Dee, Tommy, Carla, John, Irene and Vinnie had all seen Big Al in his Army uniform. Tommy and John told me how they had driven him at times to secure areas at LaGuardia or JFK airports, in full uniform, often with a briefcase handcuffed to his wrist. On other occasions he had been chauffeured in military vehicles. On one occasion Tommy had dropped him off at JFK inside a secure area, only to see the figure of Richard Nixon waiting for Carone in the open doorway of a nearby helicopter.

Over the course of two days I “debriefed” the family. Carone knew a great many people. He had served as an NYPD detective and bagman for the Genovese and Colombo families. He frequently took military leaves of absence to travel all over the world. The names of people he would later talk about, knowing of his imminent death, included Bill Casey, George Bush, Oliver North, Elliot Abrams, Richard Armitage (now deputy secretary of state to Colin Powell), Richard Secord, John Singlaub, Rafael “Chi Chi” Quintero, drug smuggler Barry Seal, Arkansas billionaire Jackson Stephens, Special Forces Colonel James “Bo” Gritz, General Richard Stillwell, Edwin Wilson, Robert Vesco and many more.

The paper exhibits were compelling and convincing. But I retained a healthy skepticism until I put Dee through a final test. I prepared list of names, some fake, some authentic. I asked Dee if her father had mentioned any of the names over the years. Without a single misstep she picked out almost every member of the board of directors of the Nugan Hand Bank, a legendary CIA drug bank that operated in Australia during the late 1970s and early ’80s. She didn’t fall for any of the falsified names. The real names included Edwin Black, General Leroy Manor and legendary CIA drug banker Paul Helliwell. [For an excellent history of the Nugan Hand affair, I recommend The Crime of Patriots by the late Wall Street Journal reporter Jonathan Kwitny.]

I had been thoroughly convinced that Al Carone was everything his daughter said he was. I told her that in my opinion, there was only one man who could help her. He had served as the CIA’s chief of station in Laos during the Vietnam War. He had risen to oversee the agency’s Western Hemisphere operations and the 1973 overthrow of Chilean President Salvador Allende. He had been the most powerful operations executive at the CIA before Jimmy Carter took office in January 1977. He had stayed with CIA until about 1980, and had retired under a cloud caused by the escapades of Edwin Wilson, one of his protégés who had been convicted of selling plastic explosives to Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi.

Throughout his career, especially from the days in Southeast Asia when he ran the largest CIA operation in history, his name had been linked to heroin. His name also turned up during the Iran-Contra investigations of the 1980s, which saw an explosion in cocaine use from which America has not yet recovered. From the moment that I had learned that CIA was dealing drugs and had begun the investigations that would nearly cost me my life, I had been obsessed with this man. He was the man who had been in charge of CIA’s covert operations when they had tried to recruit me in 1976.

“Dee, “I said. “As far as I know there is only one man who can help you. His name is Ted Shackley.

BIG AL’s SCHOOLING

Al Carone, or “Big Al” as he was known, had been a de facto orphan in Brooklyn in the late ‘20s and early ‘30s. A street kid, left to roam while his mother “entertained” gentlemen at night, he had slept under stoops and in stairwells. He had been adopted by the legendary mobster Vito Genovese, who operated out of a nearby bar. Genovese fed the young street kid, sometimes let him sleep in the bar, and gave him quarters and dimes for running errands. It was here that Al Carone learned about loyalty and honor. There was no end to his love for “Don” Vito.

By the time World War II came around, little Al had become “Big Al,” a lifelong bodybuilder and a “made” member of the family. He entered the Army and was quickly assigned to the Counter Intelligence Corps. Dee said that all of the paperwork she possessed covered the fact that her father really had spent the entire war working for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the forerunner of the CIA. This made immediate sense to me, because I had seen US government reports that Vito Genovese and his boss, Charlie “Lucky” Luciano, had been used by the OSS and the Office of Naval Intelligence throughout World War II, first to protect New York docks from sabotage, then to assist in the invasion of Italy and later to prevent Communists and Socialists from winning elections in postwar Italy. The latter activities, funded by Corsican heroin, were the genesis of the famed French Connection, which smuggled tons of heroin into New York City until the 1970s.

After the war in 1946, “Big Al” had joined the New York City police. Dee had photos of her father as a patrolman and later as a detective. Throughout his NYPD career, Carone had made the payoffs to make sure that the CIA’s dope hit the streets safely. She had cancelled pay stubs, copies of pension records, a copy of his graduation roster from the police academy. Big Al had retired as a detective first grade in 1966. Yet, after her father’s death, when she went to ask for death benefits, the NYPD had told her that Al Carone has never been a policeman.

I remember holding one of his passports in my hands and seeing the visa stamps for London, the Bahamas and New York City. I remember the travel records of one of his partners named James Strauss, showing massive expenditures for dozens of flights to all of the world’s financial capitals, sometimes every other day, that a former FBI agent once told me, “could only have come from a GTR government travel account, because an airline would never allow a private business to run up that kind of a tab.”

Most of all I remember holding his personal phone book, separated at the spine from years of use and finding entries for maybe a dozen known Mafia figures including “Boss of Bosses” Paul Castellano, Joe Perscillia, Matty “the Horse” Ianniello and many others. Also in the phone book, on a separate sheet of paper but in the same handwriting, was the Locust Valley, Long Island address and phone number for CIA Director William Casey.

Casey, said the entire Carone family, had been at the Ferdinand home for Vinnie’s christening in the early ‘70s. When Dee was growing up, Casey and his wife had been frequent guests for dinner and social events. So had, on different occasions, Santo Trafficante, mob boss of South Florida, known as Uncle Sonny; Sam Giancana, known as Uncle Momo; and the short-lived boss of bosses Aniello Delacroce had been known as “Uncle Neal.” Both Delacroce and Castellano died in New York mob hits.

There were photographs of Carone in Army uniforms: one as a major, one as a full colonel. There were telegrams and letters referring to him by his military rank. And yet, after his death–which, as I read from the death certificate, was caused by “chemical toxicity of unknown etiology”–the US Army had insisted that he had never served in the military after 1946 and had never attained a rank higher than staff sergeant. He had been buried in a New Mexico military cemetery with that rank on his tombstone. This, said Dee, was not honorable.

But what had been done to Al Carone and his family had been more ruthless, systematic and well executed than anything I have seen before or since. Immediately after his death, both his personal and joint bank accounts held with Dee had disappeared. Even though Dee held passbooks and cancelled checks, the banks had insisted that the accounts never existed. Life-insurance policies which Dee and Tommy had given to a local attorney named Robert Fuentes–later discovered to have intelligence connections–disappeared. Carone’s NYPD pension vanished. The state of New Mexico said that Al Carone had never had a driver’s license. He lived there for 10 years. Coin collections and the contents of several storage facilities evaporated. Even the registration on his personal vehicle, which had always been registered in his name, was altered in state computers. When Dee went to check about having it transferred to her daughter, she found that the New Mexico DMV records showed that Dee had originally purchased the car in the early ‘80s.

Carone’s death had been long, painful and expensive. He knew he was going to die after his own collision with a question of honor, yet he had said repeatedly to the entire family that when he died they all would be taken care of. For the Mafia there was no more important code of honor than taking care of the family. It was apparently different for the CIA, and Big Al Carone had planted his feet in too many worlds before his own death. And it seems, to this day, that the world of the CIA was the one that eliminated his life, and in them, and the interests they worked for, there was no honor at all.

Nobody ever doubted where Al Carone was coming from. “Civilians” were not to be hurt. People who got killed were players, and they knew that was part of the game. Although Carone taught torture and interrogation techniques and guerrilla warfare, he served mostly as a “paymaster,” especially for assassinations and executions in the dark world of clandestine warfare. One assassination that Dee and Tommy would later discuss in their videotaped depositions was John F. Kennedy. Carone had revealed, before his death, that he had been in Dallas on November 22, 1963, that he had been positioned on a rooftop at the Love Field airport but could not get a clean shot. He was grateful for that. He had also delivered a cash payoff to Jack Ruby before the assassination.

Throughout the ‘70s and ‘80s, when there were drug missions to be financed, Al Carone delivered both the money and the orders. When someone needed to be killed, it was the same thing. Before his death, he talked openly of working with Oliver North, Richard Secord, Richard Armitage, Barry Seal and Elliot Abrams. He told his family that North, Secord, Abrams and Armitage were “assholes.

SEALING HIS FATE

Throughout the years Carone had also shown signs of compassion and his own code of honor. He often lamented the fate of the POWs and MIAs in Vietnam and, in the years before his death, spoke openly about how “the boys” had been sold out. He spoke on several occasions of a Green Beret named “Sandy” whom he had worked with. He said Sandy had been sold out, betrayed and framed for a murder he didn’t commit because he had learned too much. Carone became obsessed with helping Sandy, and had spoken of delivering diaries to CIA headquarters that had been kept by his murdered wife that could have “brought down the government.” Both Dee and Tommy had seen the diaries in Carone’s briefcase before he had taken them to Langley, Virginia.

Carone was a good soldier. He did his job for years and kept his grumblings close to his vest. But things were falling apart. They had gotten out of hand. There were too many drugs, too much killing; too much corruption in Al Carone’s scheme of things. It no longer served any greater purpose. There was no compass except greed.

In the summer of 1985 Al Carone and his buddy Jim Strauss—whose company had the voluminous airline bills—went on a mission to Mexico. That mission, as were many of the other activities of Al Carone, fell under the umbrella code name of Amadeus. Dee and Tommy had heard the name many times before, when answering phones or taking messages for Big Al. It was name that always made him jump. It was a name that they said connected directly to George Herbert Walker Bush.

Carone was gone for weeks. And when he returned from Mexico he was never the same. His heart was broken. He said that he and Strauss and the men who were with them had wiped out entire village which Dee and Tommy can only remember as Chiapatulla or Tapachulla. “We killed everything there,” said Big Al, “men, women children, everything.” It was wrong. He also spoke of how a narc and a pilot had been tortured and buried alive. He was referring to DEA Agent Kiki Camarena. It was shortly after that he started to get violently ill. Within 18 months or so, he had kidney failure. The doctors, and there were many, could not pinpoint the cause. He would tell Dee and Tommy, “I’m not long for this world. The suits are coming to get me.”

He talked more openly in his last years. He voiced his concerns and became obsessed with the POWs, with Sandy and the “assholes” who had taken over the government. Before he died in 1990, he made his daughter promise not to bury him in his Army uniform. He was ashamed. “Burn it,” he said.

THE BIGGEST BATTLES AND HEAVY LOSSES

Shortly after I left New Mexico, Dee Ferdinand went to a luncheon of former intelligence officers. There she met former Howard Hughes aide and lifelong CIA operative Robert Maheu. Maheu gave her Shackley’s phone number.

Dee’s first conversation with Shackley was not thrilling. Keeping his standard noncommittal posture, he denied knowing Al Carone. This was a position he changed in subsequent conversations with Dee over the years. He asked her what she wanted. The first thing she wanted was her father’s headstone changed to reflect his rank of colonel.

It was changed within 10 days, and Dee took photographs of the new marker. She also “appropriated” a copy of the change order. The Army still—to this day—denies the rank.

After returning to Los Angeles, I wrote up a report of what I had learned. I sent it to a good friend, a retired Army Criminal Investigation Division warrant officer named Bill McCoy who lived in Alexandria, Virginia. McCoy was impressed and got Dee’s phone number from me. That was the beginning of a tightly woven friendship that involved phone calls, sometimes five times a week, until McCoy’s death in October 1997. “Mac,” as we all called him, was a loveable giant, prone to wearing berets, who had his investigative fingers in almost every covert operation I had ever heard of.

There were many mysteries about McCoy that remain unsolved to this day. Not the least of which was why he spent two years keeping Dee from learning the identity of Bill Tyree, the former Green Beret who had been framed for his own wife’s murder. Tyree, on the other hand, had only been told Dee’s married name rather than her maiden name. In the meantime I, familiar with both cases, never knew what Mac was doing.

Mac was a father-like figure, a great cook and raconteur. I visited his home in Virginia many times in 1994 and 1995. While coordinating information on a number of investigations, he managed to keep Bill and Dee from connecting. In the meantime, as the Carone family were threatened, intimidated and plagued by all manner of terrifying events, Dee’s resolve only deepened. She told me, with a conviction I still remember, “This is about honor. This is becoming a vendetta. All I want is what rightfully belonged to my father, nothing more.”

Her brother-in-law was shot at. Her son Vinnie narrowly escaped death in what appeared to be a staged traffic accident. Her fences were cut a half-dozen times and her horses scattered over the New Mexico countryside. Tommy, who held a civilian job at Kirtland Air Force Base, was shuffled to lower-paying assignments and eventually laid off. In 1997 Vinnie, then a sheriff’s deputy working extradition cases, was sent on dangerous and solitary assignments. He was photographed in secure areas of government facilities.

Dee would talk to McCoy four or five times a week. I would talk to McCoy or Dee at least twice a week. Still, none of us knew that Sandy and Tyree were one and the same, even though McCoy was doing investigations on Tyree’s case and he held all the pieces.

LACK OF HONOR

Things were complicated further in April 1995, when the Murrah Building was destroyed by a bomb blast in Oklahoma City. I was living near DC at the time, and Dee had called me within hours of the blast. She had called Shackley almost immediately. Then she called me. I gave her my word that I would not repeat what Shackley had said. According to Dee, Shackley said the act would be placed squarely at the feet of domestic terrorists. This, even as news reports were reporting only that Islamic terrorists were suspects.

Shortly thereafter, a journalist named David Hoffman, whom I had put in touch with Dee, got the same story from her on the strict condition that the conversation was off the record and confidential. Less than a year later he published a book in which he reported all of Dee’s conversation with Shackley, and even embellished to the point of placing himself in Shackley’s living room and describing him smoking a pipe, sitting in an overstuffed chair and “chortling” in satisfaction.

Dee, as a matter of honor, called Shackley as soon as she heard about the book. Because of that action or responsibility her relationship with him continued and, in fact, deepened.

BREAKTHROUGH TO DEFEAT

Bill McCoy died suddenly in October 1997. He was found sitting in his favorite easy chair, the victim of an apparent heart attack. Questions still linger among those of us who knew him.

It was around the time of Mac’s death that Dee and Tyree connected. Dee learned that Billy was “Sandy” and Billy learned that Dee was the daughter of Big Al. Facilitated by Massachusetts attorney Ray Kohlman, who came to represent both of them, first Billy and then Dee filed suits against the government. Over the years, Billy placed collect calls from the Walpole state prison in Massachusetts that sometimes added between $500-800 a month to the Ferdinands’ phone bills. This wore heavily on Tommy and his temper frequently got the better of him, especially as his hours were being cut back.

Dee was obsessed, and now she had a court case and searing documents that helped both her and Tyree. Affidavits long buried came to the surface, including one purportedly written by Bill Casey. Though filled with grammatical errors and misspellings, I was inclined to believe the document’s authenticity. My reasons were simple and based upon my years of experience, I knew that intelligence agencies often wrote completely accurate documents and deliberately salted them with errors to later discredit them. The 1986 document had more credibility because, while completely vindicating Dee’s assertions, it carefully laid all the blame in the CIA at the feet of people who were then or would soon be dead. It never once mentioned George Bush, and the document followed the long-cultivated CIA fallback position that drug dealing was all done to fight communism, and never once mentioned the billions of dollars that had flowed into American financial markets.

From 1998 until her case was finally dismissed, there were endless, draining, expensive, time-consuming legal moves, the kind I have witnessed in dozens of cases over the years. As time progressed, first Tyree’s suit and then Dee’s were dismissed. All of this happened and Dee and Bill Tyree spent more time talking to each other than any other living souls. They have never seen each other in person. For Tyree, locked up on a life sentence, this was not an issue. For Dee’s family, especially Tommy, who was paying the phone bills, it was; especially as the family teetered from month to month, on the edge of eviction.

I have both and seen and lived this hellish existence in the search for justice and the redemption of honor. It eats everything.

Dee and Tommy were divorced last year, as the suit was finally thrown out by a court system that seemingly wouldn’t know the rule of law, or honor, if it smacked it in the face. Dee now lives in a modest Albuquerque apartment and Tommy spends a lot of time riding his motorcycle. Tommy’s mother will no longer speak to Dee. Vinnie, still a sheriff, has at times estranged himself from his mother in recent years. All of Dee’s horses are gone and she holds down a job to pay the rent.

“It’s over,” she says with the same conviction I heard in 1993. “I will have nothing more to do with my father’s case. They won. I have nothing more to give.”

FINDING MEANING

Dee has had a number of conversations with Ted Shackley over the years and refuses to discuss details of any of them except to say that he was always helpful, always sympathetic and that he gave her advice that helped as she prepared and fought her case. “Of all the people I have spoken to who had something to do with this case, he’s the only one who never lied to me.”

When I asked how she could trust Shackley, she refused to discuss the matter any further. The conversations were private. It was a matter of honor.

One time, in tears, she recounted how Shackley had told her how proud he was of her as Big Al’s daughter, and that she had fought as hard as possible to honor her father. He had told her that she had behaved as he would have wanted his own daughter to behave, and maybe that is what this story is all about.

Having lost all of her material possessions and her marriage, and having suffered for years in a losing and futile battle—the way all of these battles always end—Dee Carone Ferdinand has no doubt in her heart that she gave all she had to give. She sleeps soundly at night and there is something in her still that remains defiantly unbroken, as Al Carone’s visions of total, unprincipled corruption come to full flower in the American government.

It was, after all, a matter of honor.

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Bambam’s Fatal Error

Insider Tells Why Obama Chose Not to Prosecute Torture

By David Swanson, WarIsACrime.Org, September 3, 2011

Two Years Ago Obama Decided Not to Prosecute Torturers. Now We Get An Account of Why

If you can think back all the way to January 2009, back when wars were ending, Guantanamo was closing, the Pentagon was getting oversight, employees were going to have free choice, the rich would start paying taxes, the air would be getting cleaner, and so forth, you’ll recall that the Obama transition team was acting super populist and high-tech.

They had questions from ordinary people for the President Elect submitted on their website and voted up or down. The top question at the end of the voting had come from Bob Fertik of Democrats.com and it was this:

“Will you appoint a Special Prosecutor – ideally Patrick Fitzgerald – to independently investigate the gravest crimes of the Bush Administration, including torture and warrantless wiretapping?” — Bob Fertik, New York City

Not only was the answer no, but it had to be inferred because President Change U. Wish refused to answer the question. I’ve always assumed I could guess why: a president wouldn’t want previous presidents subject to the rule of law, because then he would be too. Just this week I was suggesting that allowing the Justice Department to enforce laws against Cheney could save Obama’s electoral prospects at the risk of seeing Obama, too, land in prison some day. I have no doubt that this really is a factor.

However, we now have an account from someone involved in the decision process way back when. And he reports two other reasons for the decision to let all the war criminals off and devote vast energies to protecting them and covering up their crimes. The first of the two reasons is not terribly shocking: the CIA, NSA, and military would revolt if their crimes were exposed and prosecuted. This explains the cover-up portion of the past two-and-a-half years’ immunity-granting campaign particularly well. It fits with the known record, which has included seven former heads of the CIA publicly writing to President Obama to tell him not to prosecute torturers in the CIA.

The second reason, we’re now being told, was that if laws were enforced against Bush, Cheney, or their subordinates, the Republicans in Congress would retaliate by trying to block any useful piece of legislation. This is sort of morbidly funny in that the Republicans in Congress have spent the past two-and-a-half years trying to block any useful piece of legislation and many horrendous ones as well. They’ve just done it with the background hum of war criminals on promotional book tours. This explanation fits with the theme of “looking forward, not backward.” Just as House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers told us in 2008 that it was more important to elect Obama than to impeach Bush or Cheney (as if you couldn’t do both), Obama’s preference in early 2009 (and in 2008 when he had told Will Bunch the same thing) was for looking forward to the passage of hideously corporatized legislation rather than enforcing laws against anyone powerful (as if you couldn’t do both). Nonetheless, there is something jarringly pathetic about the notion that Dick Cheney is unindicted because Barack Obama was dreaming of a working relationship with the party Cheney had left behind in Washington.  This shouldn’t be as jarring now as it might have seemed in 2009, however, after watching Obama “negotiate” away anything Republcans opposed in any number of areas.

So, who is the source of these belated explanations?

The Dean of the University of California at Berkeley Law School Christopher Edley, Jr. His comments will probably be showing up on video, but here is a report I was just sent by long-time peace and justice activist extraordinaire Susan Harman:

“World Can’t Wait (in orange) and I (in pink) attended a surreal panel on 9/11 today at Boalt (UC Berkeley Law School), where John Yoo teaches.

“That should be surreal enough. But (unintentionally, I think) each of the panelists mentioned one of Yoo’s policies (warrantless domestic surveillance, aggressive war, and that old favorite, torture). One even talked about the need for accountability. I felt dizzy, and could barely speak.

“I said I was overwhelmed by the surreality of Yoo being on the law faculty, and having just been appointed the new head of the sponsoring Miller Institute for Global Challenges and the Law, when he was singlehandedly responsible for the three worst policies of the Bush Adm.

“They all burbled about academic freedom and the McCarthy era, and said it isn’t their job to prosecute him.

“Duh.

“Then Dean Chris Edley volunteered that he’d been party to very high level discussions during Obama’s transition about prosecuting the criminals. He said they decided against it. I asked why. Two reasons: 1) it was thought that the CIA, NSA, and military would revolt, and 2) it was thought the Repugnants would retaliate by blocking every piece of legislation they tried to move (which, of course, they’ve done anyhow).

“Afterwards I told him that CIA friends confirmed that Obama would have been in danger, but I added that he bent over backwards to protect the criminals, and gave as an example the DoJ’s defense (state secrets) of Jeppesen (the rendition arm of Boeing) a few days after his inauguration.

“He shrugged and said they will never be prosecuted, and that sometimes politics trumps rule of law.

“It must not, I said.

“It shouldn’t, he said, and walked off.

“This is the Dean of the Berkeley School of Law.”

Another approach was taken to the divergence of official conduct from clear demands of morality by an activist at Berkeley in 1964 named Mario Savio, who said,

“There’s a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious — makes you so sick at heart — that you can’t take part. You can’t even passively take part. And you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop. And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all.”

That’s the plan. Join in here: http://october2011.org

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Bambam’s Worst Failure

In America The Rule Of Law Is Vacated

By Paul Craig Roberts, September 1, 2011, Information Clearing House

With bank fraudsters, torturers, and war criminals running free, the US Department of Justice (sic) has nothing better to do than to harass the famous Tennessee guitar manufacturer, Gibson, arrest organic food producers in California and send 12 abusive FBI agents armed with assault rifles to bust down yet another wrong door of yet another innocent family, leaving parents, children, and grandmother traumatized.

What law did Gibson Guitar Corp break that caused federal agents to disrupt Gibson’s plants in Nashville and Memphis, seize guitars, cause layoffs, and cost the company $3 million from disrupted operations?

No US law was broken. The feds claim that Gibson broke a law that is on the books in India.

India has not complained about Gibson or asked for the aid of the US government in enforcing its laws against Gibson. Instead, the feds have taken it upon themselves to both interpret and to enforce on US citizens the laws of India. The feds claim that Gibson’s use of wood from India in its guitars is illegal, because the wood was not finished by Indian workers.

This must not be India’s interpretation of the law as India allowed the unfinished wood to be exported. Perhaps the feds are trying to force more layoffs of US workers and their replacement by H-1B foreign workers. Gibson can solve its problem by firing its Tennessee work force and hiring Indian citizens on H-1B work visas.

In Venice, California, feds spent a year dressed up as hippies purchasing raw goat milk and yogurt from Rawesome Foods and then, decked out in hemp anklets and reeking of patchouli, raided with guns drawn–always with guns drawn–the organic food shop. The owner’s crime is that he supplied the normal everyday foods that I grew up on to customers who requested them. For this heinous act, James C. Stewart faces a 13 count indictment and is held on $123,000 bail.

How did raw milk become a “health threat?” Far more Americans have died from e-coli in fast food hamburgers and from salmonella in mass produced eggs and chicken. Like many of my generation, I was raised on raw milk. Mathis Dairy delivered it to the homes in Atlanta. Even decades later a person could purchase Mathis Dairy’s raw milk in Atlanta’s grocery stores. How did supplying an ordinary staple become a crime?

The FBI agents who broke down Gary Adams door in Bellevue, Pennsylvania, claim they were looking for a woman. Why does it take 12 heavily armed FBI agents to apprehend a woman? Are FBI agents that effete? If the feds can never get the address right, how do we know they have the name and gender right?

I can remember when it only took one policeman to deliver a warrant and to arrest a person, and without gun drawn and without breaking down the door, tasering or shooting the object of arrest. It turns out that the FBI agents who broke into the Adams home not only were at the wrong address but also didn’t even have a search warrant had they been at the correct address.

The practice of sending heavily armed teams into American homes has resulted in many senseless murders of US citizens. The practice must be halted and SWAT teams disbanded. SWAT teams have murdered far more innocents than they have dangerous criminals. Hostage situations are rare, and they are best handled without violence.

Jose Guerena, a US Marine who served two tours in Bush’s Iraq War was murdered in his own home in front of his wife and two small children by a crazed SWAT team, again in the wrong place, who shot him 60 times. When his wife told him that there were men sneaking around the house, he picked up his rifle and walked to the kitchen to see what was going on and was gunned down. The hysterical SWAT team fired 71 shots at him without cause. Brave, tough, macho cops out defending the public and murdering war heroes.

I have seen studies that show that police actually commit more acts of violence against the public than do criminals, which raises an interesting question: Are police a greater threat to the public than are criminals? On Yahoo I just searched “police brutality” and up came 4,840,000 results.

Meanwhile, the real master criminals, such as Dick Cheney, who, if tried for his actions at Nuremberg, would most definitely have been executed as a war criminal, run free. Cheney is all over TV hawking his memoirs. On August 29, interviewed by Jamie Gangel on NBC’s Dateline, Cheney again proudly admitted that he authorized torture, secret prisons, and illegal wiretapping. These are crimes under US and international laws.

Cheney claims breaking laws against torture is “the right thing to do” if “we had a high-value detainee and that was the only way we can get him to talk.”

Three questions immediately come to mind that no member of the presstitute media ever asks. The first is, why does Cheney think the office of Vice President, President, or Attorney General has the power to “authorize” breaking a law? Our vaunted “rule of law” disappears if federal officials can authorize breaking laws.

The second is, what high-value detainees is Cheney talking about? Donald Rumsfeld declared the Guantanamo detainees to be “the most dangerous, best-trained, vicious killers on the face of the earth.” http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=43817  But the vast majority had to be released when it turned out, after years of their lives were spent in a torture prison, that the vast majority of the detainees were hapless innocents who were sold to the stupid Americans by war lords as “terrorists” for bounties. To save face, the US government has held on to a few detainees, but hasn’t enough confidence in their alleged guilt to put them on trial in a court of law.

The third is why does Cheney think that he knows better than the accumulated documented evidence that torture doesn’t produce truthful or useful information. If the person under torture is actually a terrorist, he knows that his tormentors don’t know the answers that they are looking for and so he or she can tell the torturers whatever serves the tortured victim’s purposes. If the person under torture is innocent, he has no idea what the answers are and seeks to discover what his torturer wants to hear so that he can tell him.

As Glenn Greenwald makes clear, Dick Cheney, who presided “over policies that left hundreds of thousands of innocent people dead from wars of aggression, constructed a worldwide torture regime, and spied on Americans without the warrants required by law” is now being feted and enriched thanks to “the protective shield of immunity bestowed upon him by the current administration.”

Meanwhile Gibson Guitar faces prosecution because of the feds’ off-the-wall interpretation of a law in India, and the owner of Rawesome has a 13-count indictment for supplying customers with a food staple that was a part of the normal diet from colonial times until recently.

In America we have the rule of law–only the law is not applied to banksters and members of the executive branch but, as Greenwald says, is only applied to “ordinary citizens and other nations’ (unfriendly) rulers.”

A country this utterly corrupt is certainly no “light unto the world.”

Dr. Paul Craig Roberts is the father of Reaganomics and the former head of policy at the Department of Treasury. He is a columnist and was previously an editor for the Wall Street Journal. His latest book, “How the Economy Was Lost: The War of the Worlds,” details why America is disintegrating

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Criminal at Large

Dick Cheney, The Ultimate American Terrorist

By William Rivers Pitt, t r u t h o u t | Op-Ed, September 01, 2011

It is axiomatic by now: when someone leaves government service, especially a high-profile position, they write a book. They all do it, sometimes more than once. Richard Nixon is the main example of one who produced a multi-volume apologia; by the time he went into the ground, he’d penned enough books to fill a wide shelf. Henry Kissinger was similarly prolific, which leads one to wonder about the relationship between criminal activities and the printed page. Nixon was chased from office after a series of crimes that, at the time, had no precedent, and Kissinger is still so infamous that he cannot travel abroad for fear of arrest. Both wrote enough books to take up half the political science section of any local bookstore, perhaps in the vain attempt to explain away the lasting damage their actions did to the republic.

Speaking of damaging the republic, Dick Cheney has a book out. I’m sure you’ve heard about it by now; he laid the groundwork for its release by claiming the contents would cause heads to explode in Washington, causing everyone to say “Ooooh, this should be good.” It isn’t, at all, but I must confess that my head did come very close to launching itself off my shoulders…not because of what’s in the book, but because I have to deal with the rancid reality of a free and un-convicted Dick Cheney appearing in the public eye once again.

If there were any justice to be found in this deranged country, Dick Cheney would have penned his pestiferous, self-serving little memoir by the light of a bare bulb inside the cell of a federal prison. If there were any justice to be found, Mr. Cheney would be forced to contend with the “Son of Sam Law,” which, according to World Law Direct, “refers to a type of law designed to keep criminals from profiting from their crimes, often by selling their stories to publishers. Such laws often authorize the state to seize money earned from such a deal and use it to compensate the criminal’s victims.”

The Son of Sam, a.k.a. David Berkowitz, killed six people and wounded several others during his notorious summer-long shooting spree in New York. Berkowitz is an absolute piker compared to Dick Cheney, whose actions directly caused deaths and injuries that number in the hundreds of thousands. The deaths he is responsible for are ongoing to this day, in fact. If there were any justice to be found, whatever profits he earns from his book would be spread out between the families of dead and wounded soldiers whom he lied into war in Iraq, between the families of dead and wounded Iraqi civilians, and between Americans like Valerie Plame, who along with numerous other intelligence figures, had their lives bulldozed by Cheney’s eight-year rampage through our system of government.

It would hardly amount to a pittance paid to each injured party – there are so many to account for! – but it would be a kind of justice all the same, for nary a dime of profit would line Dick Cheney’s already-stuffed pockets.

Alas, the generations to come will be forced to reckon with one of the great and lasting failures of the Obama administration: the simple, unbelievable fact of Dick Cheney’s continued freedom. He and his ilk committed enough brazen crimes to keep a brace of federal prosecutors busy for the next twenty-five years, and yet Mr. Cheney remains unmolested by the system of law he so vigorously disdained. According to Wikileaks, not only has the Obama administration failed to seek a reckoning with Cheney, they worked vigorously behind the scenes to ensure that no such reckoning will ever come to pass.

And so we have Dick, and his book, and yet another hard lesson on the absence of justice. He’ll make a few bucks off the thing, which he can bank next to the obscene millions he gained through his nefarious Halliburton war profiteering. He was still getting paid by Halliburton while in office. Remember that? They called it a “deferred retirement benefit,” an annual check with six zeroes to the left of the decimal, and all the while Cheney was steering your tax dollars into Halliburton’s coffers with a blizzard of bald-faced lies about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

There is so much to remember about Dick Cheney’s time in office. There was the Office of Special Plans, which he created to formulate the most effective lies possible about Iraq, WMD, and connections to September 11. There was the torture in Abu Ghraib and elsewhere, which he referred to as “the dark side” and which he championed with great vigor. There was his dismissal of lawfully-issued congressional subpoenas, and his dedication to the idea of a “Unitary Executive” which is beholden to nothing and no one. There was his broad plan to spy on millions of Americans without a warrant, which he wanted to continue even after the whole thing was declared to be illegal. There was (and remains) the program of indefinite detention without due process of law, which was his baby, and there was the coddling of known criminal and double-agent Ahmed Chalabi, who was his pal.

There was all this, and so much more besides, but one incident stands out in my mind above all else. It was only an accent in the symphony of wrongdoing Cheney directed from his office, and was barely noticed at the time, but I will never forget it.

It was a simple thing, really: the National Archives, by dint of two different federal laws, annually collects the official papers of the Executive Branch for the edification of future historians, researchers and government officials. It is a by-rote requirement, one small cog in the wheelworks of government, but not this time.

Dick Cheney said no. No, you cannot have any papers from the office of the Vice President, and for one reason: the office of the Vice President, because I say so, is not part of the Executive Branch.

It deserves to be written twice: Dick Cheney actually claimed, with his bare face hanging out to all the world, that the office of the Vice President is not part of the Executive Branch. The unmitigated gall required to utter such a claim, especially after so much talk about the “Unitary Executive,” is unparalleled in modern American history.

There, right there, is everything you need to know about the man. Dick Cheney is the ultimate American terrorist, one who not only lacks respect for American law and government, but who spent his eight years in office actively working to destroy and dismember the functions of that government. He tore the place up, deliberately and with intent, because he hated the law and the government it supported, and we will be a long time recovering from his deeds. He is directly and personally responsible for thousands of deaths and injuries. If this is not terrorism in the raw, then the word has no meaning.

Dick Cheney has blood on his hands, but will remain free for the foreseeable future because the administration that replaced his lacks the honor, integrity and intestinal fortitude to address what he has done. Until such a reckoning is at hand, all I can do is remind Mr. Cheney, and anyone who will listen, of another fact of law that, God willing, will be brought to bear against him someday.

There is no statute of limitations on murder, and murder is exactly what he did.

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Classic Republican

Former Pennsylvania speaker pleads guilty to corruption

By Dave Warner, Reuters, August 31, 2011

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) – John Perzel, who once was one of Pennsylvania’s most powerful political figures, pleaded guilty on Wednesday in a corruption scandal that became known as “bonusgate.”

In a statement after he pleaded guilty before Dauphin County Common Pleas Court Judge Richard A. Lewis, Perzel, 61, said: “To the people of Pennsylvania; to the voters who put their trust in me for the 32 years that I had the privilege of serving the 172nd district; and to my family and friends, I want to express my profound regrets for my actions. You had a right to expect better from me, and I am sorry that I let you down.”

Defense lawyer Brian J. McMonagle said that in theory Perzel, a Republican who once was speaker of the House of Representatives from the Northeast section of Philadelphia, could face up to 24 years in prison and a $50,000 fine for eight counts of conspiracy, theft and conflict of interest.

But he said that the actual sentencing guidelines for the charges would be between 18 and 50 months in prison. Perzel already paid one price for the charges: he lost his re-election bid last November to a City Council aide named Kevin Boyle, age 30.

Also pleading guilty on Wednesday Perzel’s nephew, Eric Ruth, who was charged with conspiracy and conflict of interest. Previously, other Perzel confidantes had pleaded guilty as well. They included Samuel Stokes, Perzel’s brother in law, Don McClintock, a campaign aide, and Paul Towhey.

Current Gov. Tom Corbett, who was then the Republican attorney general of Pennsylvania, originally announced the charges in the case.

The probe came after the Harrisburg Patriot News newspaper revealed that millions of dollars in bonus money had been given to legislative aides. A grand jury then investigated the issue of payments to state employees for political campaigns. Perzel himself was originally charged with 82 counts, but in the end, he pleaded to a far smaller number of charges.

(Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Greg McCune)

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