Tag Archives: CIA

Gestapo Calling…

Toward Total Information Awareness

by Nancy Murray and Kade Crockford, Truthout and ACLU Massachusetts, September 7, 2011

(Photo: Ludovic Bertron / Flickr [3])

Ten Years Later: Surveillance in the “Homeland” [4] is a collaborative project with Truthout and ACLU Massachusetts.

It is no secret that the CIA, FBI and the National Security Agency (NSA) bungled a multitude of opportunities to foil the 9/11 plot. There were no fewer than 12 intelligence reports in the three years preceding 9/11 that Osama bin Laden planned to use aircraft as weapons and crash them into buildings in Washington and New York City, information that was included in the president’s daily intelligence brief.

In addition to the 2004 report [5]by the 9/11 Commission, the often astonishing list of intelligence failings that contributed to the success of the attacks has been exhaustively documented in a 832-page Joint Intelligence Committee report [6] dated December 11, 2002, with a declassified version released in July 2003; a 400-page report by the Justice Department’s Inspector General [7]that was made public in June 2005 after being kept secret for a year; and a secret report [8] by the CIA’s Inspector General, with a redacted 19-page executive summary finally released in August 2007. According to these documents, the failure to protect the country was caused by poor judgment, communication lapses, bureaucratic turf wars, insufficient training in legal procedures such as how to use the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to monitor suspected spies and terrorists and how and when to share information, simple incompetence, too few skilled analysts and language specialists, more information than could be processed in a timely fashion, and the fact that the responsibility for sharing information among the CIA, FBI, NSA and other federal agencies had not been clearly spelled out.

In his minority report to the Joint Intelligence Committee, Alabama Republican Sen. Richard Shelby urged agency leaders to be held accountable for the litany of failures.  This was never done. Instead, well before the public was alerted to the extent of the multiple intelligence failures, the government embarked on a “fix” that bore little relation to the actual shortcomings outlined in the reports, greatly expanding surveillance powers at the expense of civil liberties, filling the information vacuum through mass arrests and interviews, and applying advanced technology to databases of information in hopes of detecting suspicious patterns and people.

Few Members of Congress asked whether such a response to 9/11 was necessary, or even advisable. With the exception of one senator and 66 House members, they lined up behind the far-ranging USA Patriot Act [9] without debating or even reading the draft that had been transmitted to Congress a week after the attacks. Signed into law by President Bush on October 26, 2001, the Act (among many other things) expanded the FBI’s authority to wiretap phones, monitor computers and have homes and offices secretly searched without a demonstration of probable cause of criminal wrongdoing. It enlarged FBI powers to issue National Security Letters [10] (NSLs) – which were not reviewed by any court and came complete with a gag provision – to compel Internet service providers, banks, credit card companies, libraries and other businesses to turn over sensitive client information. With an order rubber-stamped by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the FBI could also demand “any tangible thing” from an individual or organization, even if it had nothing to do with a terrorist suspect. The recipient of such an order was also gagged and faced jail time if he or she revealed its existence.

In the following years, Congress greatly enlarged the range of financial and other institutions that could be served with NSLs (nearly 200,000 of which were issued in the period 2003-2006 alone), further expanded the government’s wiretap authority and watered down the 1978 FISA to permit the surveillance of individuals not affiliated with known international terrorist groups. Not content with the expanded powers given to the FBI by Congress, the Justice Department changed FBI guidelines in 2002 [11], and again in 2008 [12], to make it easier to spy on and infiltrate lawful domestic religious, civic and political activity without any suspicion of wrongdoing.

The NSA was meanwhile doing its own end run around [13] the FISA proviso that a warrant be obtained before Americans could be wiretapped. Soon after 9/11, President Bush issued [14] a secret executive order authorizing the NSA to conduct warrantless surveillance [15]of Americans’ international calls and emails with the cooperation of the telecommunications companies. When the illegal spying came to light [16] late in 2005 [17], the Bush administration insisted that it was a limited program targeting terrorists. But subsequent revelations  indicated that the NSA had access to most data communications within, entering or leaving the United States, and that it had been conducting data mining [18] on a massive scale without Congressional approval or oversight.

In the chaotic aftermath of 9/11, the need to overcome the information deficit motivated the FBI to react to more than 96,000 tips from the public by carrying out well over a thousand (it stopped keeping count at 1,200) “special interest” arrests [19], mainly of Muslims. The detainees were held in conditions of total secrecy, regarded as guilty until proven innocent and seen as possible pieces in a broad pattern of terrorist activity, in keeping with the government’s “mosaic” theory. Not a single detainee was ever connected to 9/11.

Information was also extracted through the mass interviews in Arab and Muslim communities carried out by newly formed Joint Terrorism Task Forces [20], and the Special Registration [21] program announced by Attorney General Ashcroft in June 2002. It required male visitors aged 16 and older from 25 Muslim and Middle Eastern countries and North Korea to come to Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) offices on certain dates to be fingerprinted, photographed, interviewed, and have copies made of their bank statements, and re-register at various times thereafter, including when they left the country.

What use was all the information that was being amassed through the use of broad new surveillance powers, arrests and interviews? Navy Adm. John Poindexter, who came to national attention when he was convicted for his role in the Iran-Contra affair, believed it could be fashioned into a silver bullet with which to fight terrorism.

Within a few weeks of 9/11, Poindexter was stationed at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Pentagon’s research arm, and given the funds to develop a program he had been thinking about ever since he went to the Reagan White House 20 years earlier to modernize its technology. Total Information Awareness [22] (TIA), whose logo featured a pyramid with an all-seeing eye, would use powerful computers to search all electronic data compiled about everyone, everywhere to hunt for hidden patterns that could indicate terrorist activity.

TIA faced intense opposition [23] when it was publicized late in 2002. After a public outcry forced Congress to stop funding the DARPA program, it secretly earmarked funds to shift TIA research to the NSA. By 2004, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported [24] that there were at least 199 TIA-style data mining projects funded by the government that trawled through gigantic amounts of information in hopes of finding links or patterns to locate suspicious activity.[1]

As we shall see in the next installment, the Total Information Awareness approach to fighting terrorism – and soon, to fighting crime itself – would transform both intelligence-gathering and policing, as a new architecture of surveillance was erected to protect homeland security and facilitate the hunt for “pre-crime.”

1. GAO, “Data Mining: Federal Efforts Cover a Wide Range of Uses” (May 2004).

[1] http://www.truth-out.org/print/5541
[2] http://www.truth-out.org/printmail/5541
[3] http://www.flickr.com/photos/23912576@N05/3440857122/
[4] http://www.surveillanceinthehomeland.org/
[5] http://www.9-11commission.gov/report/index.htm
[6] http://www.gpoaccess.gov/serialset/creports/911.html
[7] http://www.fas.org/irp/agency/doj/oig/fbi-911/index.html
[8] http://www.foia.cia.gov/docs/DOC_0001499482/DOC_0001499482.pdf
[9] http://epic.org/privacy/terrorism/usapatriot/
[10] http://www.aclu.org/national-security-technology-and-liberty/national-security-letters
[11] http://www.aclu.org/national-security/interested-persons-memo-analysis-changes-attorney-general-guidelines
[12] http://www.aclu.org/national-security/fact-sheet-new-attorney-general-guidelines
[13] http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2010/04/01/nsa
[14] http://www.aclu.org/national-security/aclu-v-nsa-challenge-illegal-spying
[15] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NSA_warrantless_surveillance_controversy
[16] http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/16/politics/16program.html?pagewanted=print
[17] http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/16/politics/16program.html
[18] http://www.privacysos.org/miningmassive
[19] http://www.justice.gov/oig/special/0306/chapter2.htm
[20] http://www.justice.gov/jttf/
[21] http://www.aclu.org/immigrants-rights/special-registration-nseers
[22] http://www.privacysos.org/tia
[23] http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=2959
[24] http://www.techlawjournal.com/topstories/2004/20040527.asp
[25] http://www.truth-out.org/printmail
[26] http://www.truth-out.org/nancy-murray-and-kade-crockford/1314126082
[27] http://org2.democracyinaction.org/o/6694/p/salsa/web/common/public/signup?signup_page_KEY=2160
[28] https://members.truth-out.org/donate
[29] http://www.truth-out.org/?q=what-difference-decade-makes/1314126592
[30] http://www.truth-out.org/?q=creating-intelligence-bureaucracy/1314135656

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CIA LSD Experiment

The CIA’s LSD Attack

by Steven Hager, High Times, July 9, 2010


An entire French town mysteriously went insane in the summer of 1951, and for nearly 60 years, there’s been no concrete explanation of exactly what happened. Until now – according to a new book, the incident was the result of a Cold War experiment gone horribly wrong, an experiment using a recently discovered drug called LSD. The cause of this tragedy has been one of the CIA’s most closely guarded secrets – and a US Army scientist was murdered to keep it hidden. 

Friday, August 16, 1951, was a day unlike any other in the ancient town of Pont-Saint-Esprit, a close-knit community on the banks of the Rhone River, founded in the fifth century and filled with Roman and medieval architecture. The first victims in what soon became known throughout France as le pain maudit (“the accursed bread”) were animals. An astonished Laurain Moulin watched her cat suddenly go into convulsions and keel over dead in the kitchen. Moulin opened the door to the barnyard and saw several ducks staggering by, while others marched in unison, acting more like penguins. Another was lying dead on the ground.

By early evening, the local doctors’ offices were filled with patients complaining of nausea, upset stomachs, insomnia and chills; their pupils were dilated, their temperature and blood pressure below normal. By morning, hundreds more were exhibiting the same symptoms. One woman in her twenties began having seizures. That night, two of the town’s three doctors met to compare notes and concluded that over 200 people had been stricken by some sort of food poisoning that was linked to the town’s favorite baker, Roche Briand. Wide-eyed and babbling, townspeople began appearing on street corners at all hours, some acting paranoid, others wearing beatific smiles and speaking of universal love; still others were dizzy, confused and had trouble executing the simplest chores. A few were hallucinating so wildly that they could barely distinguish fantasy from reality. An ambulance was called for an elderly man named Felix Mison, who seemed on the verge of a heart attack.

At 6 a.m. on Sunday morning, Emile Testevin was spotted lying naked on the ground near his home, writhing as if in intense pain. He was brought inside by his mother. Although Emile’s father was already hallucinating, he took a wobbly bicycle ride to fetch the nearest doctor. The physician was puzzled by the behavior of the elder Testevin, who seemed positively bursting with euphoria while reporting his son’s condition. Emile’s father hadn’t slept for two nights and was alternating between fits of depression and bursts of incredible energy and strength. As it turned out, barbiturates and other sleeping medications had little impact on Pont-Saint-Esprit’s growing population of insomniacs, although they did seem to help with some of the convulsions. It was at this point that the doctors began to suspect ergotism as the cause of the mysterious outbreak.

Ergot is a parasitic mold that can form on rye, wheat and other cereal grains in high humidity. During the Middle Ages, epidemics of ergotism had appeared sporadically in Europe, usually after heavy rains during the harvest season. Symptoms included convulsions, seizures, nausea and vomiting. Many of the afflicted also experienced strange hallucinations, and their fingers and toes became gangrenous. The disease became known as “St. Anthony’s fire,” named after the order of Roman Catholic monks who became famous for treating the illness (although their treatment consisted of little more than putting patients in a hospital filled with religious icons). In 1650, a fungus was first suspected as the cause of the epidemics, but it wasn’t until 1676 that the first mention of ergot appears in the English language. The most severe outbreaks took place in Gatinais in 1694 and Wurttemberg in 1735, although today some researchers believe that the Salem witch trials of 1692 were also the result of ergot poisoning.

Felix Mison died on August 20, the outbreak’s first human casualty. By Monday morning, the 14th Mobile Brigade of Montpellier and other police officials and toxicologists began filtering into town in the first attempts to restore calm and determine the cause of the illness. However, things were destined to get significantly worse before they got better. One hour before midnight on Friday, August 23, shrieks and screams began resounding throughout the town – screams that would continue into the morning. The next day, the streets were filled with people in various states of undress, some completely naked, babbling incoherently. Some people believed they were being eaten alive by snakes or insects; others became violent and tried to strangle their friends or relatives. It was especially wrenching to see children in the throes of such psychic distress. Homes were trashed as the residents piled furniture against the doors and windows to protect themselves from imaginary invaders.

Unfortunately, the police responded with the worst possible tactic: tackling and restraining the delusional people and forcing them into overflowing barns and other makeshift hospitals that were being set up all around town to isolate the sick. At times, it took a dozen men to capture and subdue a single person. The following day, reinforcements arrived in the form of the militia, armed with more ambulances and more straitjackets. It was decided to move the most delusional people into secure asylums, a strategy that merely amplified their desire to escape, while isolating them from the comfort of their familiar surroundings. Those who resisted violently were given electroshock therapy at the asylums, increasing their pain and confusion.

The police arrived at Emile Testevin’s home and insisted that he be taken to the asylum despite his family’s objections. Although Emile was calm now, he’d experienced some violent moments, and the police were concerned about what might happen should the 200-pound giant become agitated again. Emile was loaded into an ambulance already filled with psychotics who couldn’t understand why they were being removed from their homes or where they were going. One old man cried out, “My belly is full of snails! I am sending out radio messages everywhere. Get me an X-ray and you can see!”

When the ambulance arrived at the asylum outside Marseilles, Emile was the last to be unloaded. Seven men couldn’t remove him from the vehicle. The orderlies approached with a straitjacket, but when they tried to put it on him, Emile grabbed it and ripped it in half. The militia arrived with more men and more straitjackets. Emile tore through six more jackets before he could be subdued. He was taken inside, strapped to a bed and locked in a secure room. But when an orderly came back to check on him, Emile had somehow eaten through the leather straps (breaking many of his teeth in the process) and was bending the iron bars in the window so he could escape. Six orderlies were needed to move him to a subterranean room with no windows. By now, two other men had died, along with a women who suffered from hyperthyroidism. The woman reportedly showed the early stages of gangrene on some of her toes, an almost certain indicator of ergot poisoning. Depending on whose statistics you trust, between five and seven people (most of them elderly and frail) would eventually die from the mysterious illness.

But just as the ergot theory was taking hold, an autopsy of Felix Mison, the first victim, indicated traces of mercury in his system. Although no traces of mercury would ever be found in bread samples or any of the other victims, many of the investigating scientists rushed to conclude that mercury-treated seeds were the culprit. Case closed.

Unexpectedly, however, two scientists from the prestigious Sandoz Laboratories in nearby Switzerland turned up in Pont-Saint-Esprit at the height of the outbreak: Dr. W. Arthur Stoll, a psychiatrist and the nephew of one of Sandoz’s directors, and Albert Hofmann, the chemist who discovered LSD-25. Hofmann had stumbled across the hallucinogen while investigating the active molecules in ergot, minute amounts of which had been used by European midwives after the 1700s to heighten contractions and stop postpartum bleeding. Sandoz wanted to know whether the active ingredients in ergot had any significant medical applications. Hofmann and Stoll had come to Pont-Saint-Esprit, they claimed, because the townspeople’s symptoms were much closer to LSD-25 than ergotism. At the time, however, no one had ever heard of LSD. Hofmann described it as potentially “appalling, frightful and shocking.” He added that if LSD were ever used improperly, it might cause more destruction than the atomic bomb.

Both Hofmann and Stoll seemed certain that ergot in the flour had somehow broken down to LSD-25. Ergot alone, they reasoned, couldn’t be the cause of the outbreak, because large amounts were needed to cause such widespread symptoms, and any bread tainted with such high concentrations would be discolored and obviously rancid. LSD, on the other hand, was odorless, colorless and thousands of times more potent. Both scientists agreed that mercury poisoning wasn’t the answer either, because no kidney or liver damage had been found in any of the patients.

The events at Pont-Saint-Esprit would remain a mystery for years to come. The victims formed an association to sue the cartel that controlled flour distribution in France in the 1950s, but this powerful group would be very successful in delaying, appealing and subverting their case. That left only the baker, Roche Briand, to sue, but he’d already lost his business (no one wanted his bread anymore) and had become an insurance salesman. Ten years later, none of the victims had received any compensation for their suffering, and there still wasn’t a scientific consensus on the cause of the outbreak.

In 1968, John G. Fuller published a book titled The Day of St. Anthony’s Fire(Macmillan). He focused exclusively on Briand’s bread as the cause of the outbreak, dismissing other theories that the townspeople put forward (including the possibility of a chemical-warfare experiment). However, today many researchers will be inclined to look at Fuller as a person of interest in a possible cover-up. Immediately prior to his book on Pont-Saint-Esprit, Fuller had published an account of Barney and Betty Hill, the first recorded case of alien abduction, an incident that allegedly took place as the New Hampshire couple returned from a vacation trip to Canada in the early 1960s. Many researchers have come to the conclusion that thousands of Americans were secretly hypnotized and dosed with LSD in the 1950s and early ’60s as part of the CIA’s mind-control experiments, and the Hills may have been two such victims. According to this scenario, the alien-abduction story was planted through hypnosis to mask the activities of government scientists. The current alien-abduction mythology may, in fact, be largely an invention of the national-security establishment to cover such experiments. (This might also explain why investigations into UFOs are so prevalent on the major cable channels, while investigations into real political events are so rare.)

There are several other connections that cast suspicion on Fuller’s work, including his relationship with hypnotist Dr. Andrija Puharich (a.k.a. Henry K. Puharich), a parapsychology researcher most famous as the man who introduced spoon-bender Uri Geller to the world. Puharich has been linked to the CIA’s MK-ULTRA mind-control program and was also involved in a series of bizarre séances with some of our country’s wealthy elite. Another connection is Dr. Karlis Osis, founder of the Parapsychology Foundation in New York City, a research institute that worked closely with the Pentagon and the CIA over the years. In the late 1950s, Osis offered Fuller the opportunity to be the first journalist to try LSD and write about its effects. (Fuller turned down the offer.) While these connections certainly don’t prove that Fuller was a witting accomplice of the CIA, they do suggest that he may have been a writer that the agency employed whenever a story needed containment.

In 2008, the events at Pont-Saint-Esprit were further investigated by Steven L. Kaplan, a professor of European history at Cornell University and an internationally recognized authority on French bread. Although it was written entirely in French, Kaplan’s Le Pain Maudit was the subject of a feature in theNew York Times. Kaplan went to Pont-Saint-Esprit after the book was published to give a talk about the incident. Although 30 chairs were set up for his appearance, over 400 people attended, demonstrating that the town has not yet forgotten the experience. According to the Times, “The government did its best to smooth over the incident and after many inquiries and court cases the affair was finally dropped in 1978. Explanations abound, none of which Kaplan finds satisfying. The most popular one, poisoning by a form of ergot fungus, he finds unconvincing. Mercury poisoning caused by Panogen, a cleansing agent used in wheat containers, was disproved although Kaplan says the government used it as a cover-up.”

And there the matter would have rested, were it not for a researcher named H.P. Albarelli Jr., whose book A Terrible Mistake: The Murder of Frank Olson and the CIA’s Secret Cold War Experiments (TrineDay) finally broke the case wide open. Albarelli has spent the last 10 years investigating the death of Olson, a US Army biochemist who allegedly killed himself in New York City on the night of November 28, 1953. Initially, Olson’s family was told that he had jumped through a closed window (wearing only his underpants) from his room on the 10th floor of the Hotel Statler. What the CIA didn’t mention, however, was that Olson had been unknowingly dosed with LSD six days earlier and had then been interrogated for 48 hours by mind-control experts in an attempt to determine how much of a security risk he posed. Olson, it seems, had grown weary of his job, which involved weaponizing chemical and biological agents for the CIA at Camp Detrick (now Fort Detrick) in Frederick, MD, and was planning to ditch his career and start over as a dentist. However, before he could gracefully exit his high-security position, Olson made a “terrible mistake” – one that would bring about his untimely death. Albarelli is convinced that fatal mistake was mentioning the Pont-Saint-Esprit incident to someone at Camp Detrick who wasn’t cleared for the information, who then reported him to the camp commander as a potential security risk.

A Terrible Mistake will probably become the definitive account of what happened to Frank Olson. Over 800 pages long, it’s a riveting exploration into the CIA’s mind-control and chemical-weapons programs. When revelations about these programs threatened to emerge, then-CIA director Richard Helms made sure that most of those files were burned. But Helms was sacked by Richard Nixon during Watergate, and the new CIA chief, James Schlesinger, seemed determined to clean up the agency. (He may even have given information to journalist Seymour Hersh, who went on to publish a ground-breaking article outlining some of these abuses, which had been compiled into a 600-page report known within the agency as “the family jewels.”) William Colby, who took over the CIA after Schlesinger, was also convinced that the abuses needed to come out so that mistakes wouldn’t be repeated.

A congressional commission controlled by then–Vice President Nelson Rockefeller was eventually created in 1975 to investigate allegations that the CIA was illegally operating inside the US. Colby was called to the White House by Rockefeller at the start of his investigation. According to Albarelli, Rockefeller lashed out at Colby during the meeting. “What the hell are you doing?” he said. “Why are you revealing all this stuff? Don’t you realize this commission is a dog-and-pony show?” The commission would eventually reveal that a Camp Detrick employee had died as a result of being secretly dosed with LSD. Although the report took great pains not to mention Olson by name, it soon became clear just who this person was.

One of the primary reasons why the existence of these programs had to be concealed is that they revealed secret connections between the CIA and the Mafia. The key person in establishing this connection was a former OSS counterintelligence operative and narcotics agent named George Hunter White. White was the person who brokered the deal that set Lucky Luciano free and opened the doors for the French Connection to flood the US with heroin. White operated safe houses in New York and San Francisco where hundreds of people were dosed with LSD and then interrogated as White observed the sessions behind a two-way mirror. Low-level Mafia operatives were frequently the victims; meanwhile, upper-level Mafia members seemed to enjoy a very close relationship with White.

When Olson was brought to New York, White was supposed to take charge of his security, but he suddenly and unexpectedly had to depart for Los Angeles to attend his mother’s funeral. In his place, White selected Pierre Lafitte, a CIA operative who was also a member of the Corsican Mafia, to guard Olson and make sure that he didn’t escape. Olson was probably moved to the Statler (now the Hotel Pennsylvania) because Lafitte had a cover job as a security guard there. When it came time to move Olson out of the hotel, Lafitte brought along another Corsican Mafia associate, François Spirito, to help him. Then things got out of hand.

“Lafitte and Spirito killed Frank Olson,” Albarelli says. “Some people have misunderstood my book and think it was a planned assassination. In my view, it wasn’t – I think the intent that night was to take Olson to Rockville, MD, where the CIA maintained an asylum for troubled people they didn’t know what to do with. And it wouldn’t have surprised anyone if Olson would have ended up hanging himself or dying from some drug overdose a few days later. But to plan an assassination where two guys throw someone through a closed window? It doesn’t make any sense – especially considering the guy they murdered just spent the last 10 years figuring out how to kill people with a pinprick. It’s just too dirty and too quick to have been planned.”

The smoking gun that Albarelli obtained through the Freedom of Information Act was an undated White House memo sent to CIA director William Colby that mentioned “George H. White, Pierre Lafitte, FNU Spirito and the Pont Saint Esprit incident (Olsojn).” (The “j” in Olson’s name is undoubtedly a typo.) This White House memo helped Albarelli put all the pieces of the puzzle together for the first time. He was also able to establish two of the key players in the 1975 cover-up: Donald Rumsfeld, then chief of staff to President Gerald Ford, and Rumsfeld’s top aide, Dick Cheney. On July 11, 1975, Cheney wrote a memo to Rumsfeld titled “The Olson Affair.” The memo included statements that the president should make about Olson’s death at an upcoming press conference. Although the US government eventually reached a settlement with Olson’s family, Ford himself always maintained that the death was a suicide.

While working on this story, I came across an illuminating quote in Albarelli’s book from one of the CIA’s scientists, Dr. Henry K. Beecher, in which he discusses the use of LSD in doses “so small that one can calculate that the water supply of a large city could be disastrously and undetectably (until too late) contaminated with quantities apparently readily available …. It should not be a difficult trick to sink a small container of [LSD] near the main outlet of water storage reservoirs, and the container arranged to ‘excrete’ a steady flow of the material over a period of many hours or days.”

At the time, some government scientists believed that LSD could be a major advance in “non-violent” war. They were certainly interested in exploring its effects on civilian populations, especially at high doses. But why Pont-Saint-Esprit, out of all the towns and villages in the world? “I never asked that question about any of the CIA’s LSD experiments,” Albarelli says. However, it turns out that there were two US Army bases located near the town, and one of them may have housed Frank Olson and other members from the Special Operations Division at Camp Detrick for a few days during the experiment. Olson’s presence in France at the time was conclusively established after Albarelli examined his passport.

Unfortunately, Albert Hofmann, the man who discovered LSD, has since passed away. It would have been interesting to quiz him about the incident, which is curiously absent from his memoirs. When I told someone who knew Hofmann about these revelations (and Hofmann’s own possible role in the cover-up), he responded by saying: “Albert always said he wasn’t any angel. I wonder if this incident is what he was talking about when he said that.”

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Blast from the Past

Guns, Drugs and the CIA

Frontline #613 (PBS)
Original Air Date: May 17, 1988
Produced and Written by Andrew and Leslie Cockburn
Directed by Leslie Cockburn

Tonight, on FRONTLINE: An investigation of the CIA and its role in international drug dealing.

The history of the CIA runs parallel to criminal and drug operations throughout the world, but it’s coincidental.

Is the CIA using drug money to finance covert operations?

Narcotics proceeds were used to shore up the Contra effort.

Something’s wrong, something is really wrong out there.

Tonight, “Guns, Drugs and the CIA.”

Good evening.

Two of the most persistent offensives of the Reagan presidency have been the war against communism in Central America and the war on drugs here at home.

But investigations of America’s secret war in Nicaragua have revealed mounting evidence that the Central Intelligence Agency has been fighting the Contra war with the help of international drug traffickers.

It is not a new story.

Tonight’s FRONTLINE investigation traces the CIA’s involvement with drug lords back to the agency’s birth following World War II. It is a long history that asks this question: “In the war on drugs, which side is the CIA on?”

Our program was produced by Leslie and Andrew Cockburn. It is called Guns, Drugs, and the CIA and is reported by Leslie Cockburn.

Ronald Reagan:
Illegal drugs are one thing that no community in America can, should, or needs to tolerate. America’s already started to take that message to heart. That’s why I believe the tide of battle has turned and we’re beginning to win the crusade for a drug-free America.

U.S. Senator John Kerry:
The subcommittee on narcotics, terrorism, international operations will come to order. From what we have learned these past months, our declaration on war against drugs seems to have produced a war of words and not action. Our drugs seem to have produced a war of words and not action. Our borders are inundated with more narcotics than in anytime ever before. It seems as though stopping drug trafficking in the United States has been a secondary U.S. foreign policy objective, sacrificed repeatedly for other political and institutional goals such as changing the government of Nicaragua, supporting the government of Panama, using drug-running organizations as intelligence assets, and protecting military and intelligence sources from possible compromise through involvement in drug trafficking.

If we start with the premise that drug trafficking is morally reprehensible, our government agencies are not supposed to do anything like that, but they live in a practical world.


John Kerry:
Would you raise your right hand please.

Ramon Milian Rodriguez saw that world as the chief accountant of the Colombian cocaine cartel responsible for managing eleven billion dollars in drug profits. Now serving a forty-three year sentence for money laundering, he has been a key witness for a senate investigation probing links between drugs and the CIA.

Say for instance, the drug group was involved in a war with a terrorist group, a communist terrorist group, well, it would behove the CIA to give that drug group as much help and advice as possible so they could win their little war.

The history of the CIA runs parallel to criminal and drug operations throughout the world, but it’s coincidental.

Victor Marchetti came to know the world of covert operations as a long time CIA officer. He is the highest ranking agency official ever to go public about what he learned.

VICTOR MARCHETTI, Central Intelligence Agency 
It goes all the way back to the predecessor organization OSS and its involvement with the Italian mafia, the Cosa Nostra in Sicily and Southern Italy. Later on when they were fighting communists in France and–that they got in tight with the Corsican brotherhood. The Corsican brotherhood of course were big dope dealers. As things changed in the world the CIA got involved with the Kuomintang types in Burma who were drug runners because they were resisting the drift towards communism there. The same thing happened in Southeast Asia, later in Latin America. Some of the very people who are the best sources of information, who are capable of accomplishing things and the like happen to be the criminal element.

WILLIAM COLBY, Former Director, CIA
CIA has had a solid rule against being involved in drug trafficking. That’s not to say that some of the people who CIA has used or been in touch with over the years may well have themselves been involved in drug traffic, but not the CIA.

If the CIA is going to, if their job is to maintain the safety of our country and freedom by manipulating foreign powers to do what this country wants, and if the guy who’s holding the power at that particular moment happens to be a drug lord, then you have to get involved with the drug lord.

As a result, we kept getting involved with these kinds of people, not for drug purposes and not for personal gain but to achieve a higher ideological goal.

In a refugee camp in Northeast Thailand, there live the remnants of one such involvement. They are the Hmong or Meo Tribe. While American troops were fighting in Vietnam, these people were the foot soldiers of a secret CIA army. They fought in undeclared war in Northern Laos, across the border from North Vietnam.

They’re hill people, they’re little guys. Like most hill people they’re pretty fierce. In Laos we were the guerrillas. The war in Laos was a textbook example of what can be done in unconventional warfare.

General Richard Secord is one of the many veterans of the CIA secret war in Laos. Because Laos was officially neutral, American troops could not be used. The CIA relied on massive air power and a tribal army to fight the local communists and the North Vietnamese.

On the ground in Northern Laos, a handful of CIA officers directed as many as eighty-five thousand soldiers drawn from the mountain tribes. But American officials did more than just send their allies into battle.

RON RICKENBACH, Former Official, U.S. Agency for International Development 
Early on, I think that we all believed that what we were doing was in the best interests of America, that we were in fact perhaps involved in some not so desirable aspects of the drug traffic, however we believed strongly in the beginning that we were there for a just cause.

Ron Rickenbach served in Laos as an official for the U.S. Agency for International Development from 1962 to 1969. He was on the front lines.

These people were willing to take up arms. We needed to stop the Red threat and people believed that in that vein we made, you know, certain compromises or certain trade-offs for a larger good. Growing opium was a natural agricultural enterprise for these people and they had been doing it for many years before the Americans ever got there. When we got there they continued to do so.

When they would move from one place to another they would carry their little bags of opium, they smoked it in pipes. And opium could be bought in the streets of any village.

FRED PLATT, Former Pilot, Laos 
When a farmer raised a crop of opium, what he got for his year’s worth of work was the equivalent of thirty-five to forty U.S. dollars. That amount of opium, were it refined into morphine base, then into morphine, then into heroin and appeared on the streets of New York, that thirty-five dollar crop of opium would be worth fifty, sixty, a hundred thousand dollars in 1969 dollars–maybe a million dollars today.

The war isolated the Meo tribespeople in their remote villages. CIA-owned Air America planes became their only life line to the outside world. While Meo children came to believe that rice fell from the sky, Meo farmer witnesses could count on Air America to move their cash crop.

It was then the presence of these air support services in and out of the areas in question where the product, where the opium was grown that greatly facilitated an increase in production and an ease of transhipment from the point of agriculture to the point of processing. So, when I say the Americans greased the wheels, essentially what I’m saying is we did not create opium production. We did not create a situation where drug trafficking was happening. But because of the nature of our presence, this very intense American means that was made available to the situation it accelerated in proportion dramatically.

The possibility that Air America flew drugs is still hotly disputed by many former senior officers.

You can question any number of people who were there, who actually were there, not people who claim that they had some knowledge of rumors, you can question any number of people and I venture to say they will all support what I’m saying, and that is that there was no commercial trade in opium going on.

I was on the airstrip, that was my job, to move in and about and to go from place to place and my people were in charge of dispatching aircraft. I was in the areas where opium was transshipped, I personally was a witness to opium being placed on aircraft, American aircraft. I witnessed it being taken off smaller aircraft that were coming in from outlying sites.

NEIL HANSEN, Former Pilot, Air America 
Yes I’ve seen the sticky bricks come on board and no one was challenging their right to carry it. It was their own property.

Neil Hansen is a former senior Air America pilot, now serving a sentence for smuggling cocaine.

We were some sort of a freebie airline in some respects there, whoever the customer or the local representative put on the airplane we flew.

Primarily it was transported on our smaller aircraft, the Helios, the Porters and the things like that would visit the little outlying villages. They would send their opium to market.

From the villages, the planes carried their cargo over the mountains to Long Chien, CIA headquarters for the war. It was a secret city. Unmarked on any map and carefully hidden from outsiders, Long Chien became one of the busiest airports in the world, with hundreds of landings and takeoffs a day.

ED DEARBORN, Former Pilot, Air America 
At the height of the war when there were thousands of people in there, there were villages all over, there were landing pads up on what we called Skyline drive which was the ridge on the north side of Long Chien. T-28s were going in and out of there, C-130s were going in and out of there. It was an amazing place, just amazing.

Ed Dearborn is a veteran of Long Chien and Air America. A key figure in the covert air operation.

From a sleepy little valley and village you know, surrounded by the mountains and the karst, this great war machine actually was working up there.

It was the heart and pulse of Laos at that time, more commonly referred to as the CIA’s secret base you now, heh heh heh.

To lead their Meo army, the CIA selected Vang Pao, a former lieutenant in the French colonial army in Laos. The agency made very effort to boost his reputation.


His name was Vang Pao, a charismatic, passionate and committed man. A patriot without a country.

Vang Pao, however, did more than just lead his people in war. According to observers he and his officers dominated the trade in the Meo farmers’ cash crop. In 1968, one visitor got a first-hand look at this trade in the village called Long Pot.

I was given the guest bed in the village, in fact the district headman’s house, and I ended up sharing it with a guy in military uniform who I later found out was an officer of the Vang Pao army and one morning I was awoken very early by this great confusion of people and noise at the bottom of the bed, just, literally people brushing against my feet with the packets of black sticky substance in bamboo tubes and wrapped up in leaves and bits and things and the military officer who was there was weighing it out and paying off a considerable amount of money to these people and this went on for most of the morning and it went on for several mornings he brought up a great deal of this substance which I then started to think about and asked and had it confirmed that this was in fact raw opium.

War photographer John Everingham has lived in Southeast Asia for over twenty years. He was one of the very few outsiders who dared to look for and photograph the secret army for himself.

John Everingham:
They all wore American supplied uniforms and the villagers very innocently and very openly told me, “oh they took it to Long Chien,” and I asked them how they took it and they said, “oh well they took it on the helicopters as everything else that went to and from Long Chien went by helicopter and so did the opium.”

And whose helicopters were they?

John Everingham:
Well they were the Air America helicopters which were on contract to the CIA.

We did not go down to the embassy and be privy to their secret briefings or anything else. We flew the airplanes. If they put something on the airplanes and told you not to look at it you didn’t look at it, because you’d no longer be employed.

I know as a fact soon after the army was formed the military officers soon got control of the opium trade. It helped not only them make a lot of money and become good loyal officers to the CIA but it helped the villagers. The villagers needed their opium carried out and carried over the land in a war situation that was much more dangerous and more difficult, and the officers were obviously paying a good price ‘cos the villagers were very eager to sell to the military people.

That’s hogwash. No way and as far as the agency ever, ever advocating that is do you think I would be in an organization where I’ve devoted my life to my country–involved in a operation like that without blowing the whistle?–absolutely not.

For veterans like General Aderholt and General Secord the war in Laos is now commemorated at nostalgic reunions. Last fall they gathered at a Florida air base to talk over old times and current business.

While Vang Pao does not attend such functions, he is well remembered by his old comrades.

Was the agency responsible for people’s salaries, were they paying Vang Pao?

Harry Aderholt:
Of course, they were a hundred percent responsible, because Vang Pao was responding to agency requirements, even though they may have come from the highest levels of the U.S. government, yes, of course.

He was in the chain of command.

Harry Aderholt:

Did you work with Vang Pao?

Richard Secord:
Sure, all the time.

What was your relationship?

Richard Secord:
I was his supplier of air, therefore he stayed in close contact with me.

Were you in charge of supplying Air America planes?

Richard Secord:
For the tactical air operations, yes.

The movement of Air America planes say witnesses were influenced by Vang Pao’s business requirements.

Ron Rickenbach:
Vang Pao wanted control of the aircraft– sure, he would do the work that needed to be done but it would give that much more freedom and that much more flexibility to use these aircraft to go out and pick up the opium that needed to be picked up at this site or that site and to bring it back to Long Chien, and there was quite a hassle and Vang Pao won. Not only did he get control of the aircraft, but there was also a question of the operational control of the airplanes that were leaving Long Chien to go south, even into Thailand, and there was an embarrassing situation where the Americans knew that this could be exposed and it would be a very compromising situation. The way they got around that was to concede, to create for Vang Pao his own local airline, and Xieng Kouang airlines came into reality as a direct result of this compromise that was worked out, and they brought in a C-47 from the states and they painted it up nice and put Xieng Kouang airlines on it and they gave it to Vang Pao, and that aircraft was largely used for the transshipment of opium from Long Chien to sites further south.

Air Opium?

Ron Rickenbach:
Air opium.

Harry Aderholt:
Those airlines didn’t really belong to General Vang Pao.

They belonged to the agency.

Harry Aderholt:
They belonged to the agency. They were maintained by the United States government in the form of Air America or Continental, so they didn’t really own anything. It wasn’t something he could take away with him, it was something that we controlled every iota of that operation, lock, stock and barrel.

You know what the nickname for that airline was?

Richard Secord:

Opium Air.

Richard Secord:
I’ve never heard that before.

Back in the old days the men who flew for Air America and drank in the Purple Porpoise Bar in Vientiane were less discreet.

Most of them are long gone and far away from Laos now but one legendary CIA officer still lives across the Mekong River close to his old mountain battleground.

The man that was in charge of that local operation was a man by the name of Tony Poe, and he was notorious. He had been involved with the agency from the OSS days he was a World War II combat veteran and he had been with the agency from its inception and he was the prototype operations officer. They made a movie about him when they made Apocalypses Now. He was the caricature of Marlon Brando.

Until now, Tony Poe has never talked publicly about the Laos operation. He saw it from beginning to end. one of Vang Pao’s early case officers, Poe claims he was transferred from Long Chien because unlike his successors, he refused to tolerate the Meo leader’s corruption.

TONY POE, Former CIA Officer
You don’t let him run loose without a chain on him. You gotta control him just like any kind of an animal or a baby. You have to control him. Hey! He’s the only guy that had a pair of shoes when I first met him–what are you talking about, why does he need Mercedes Benz, apartments and hotels and homes where he never had them in his life before. Why are you going to give it to him?

Plus he was making money on the side with his business?

Tony Poe:
Oh, he was making millions, ‘cos he had his own source of, uh, avenue for his own, uh, heroin.

What did he do with the money?

Tony Poe:
What do you mean? U.S. bank accounts, Switzerland, wherever.

Didn’t they know, when Vang Pao said ‘I want some aircraft’, didn’t they know what he wanted that for?

Tony Poe:
I’m sure we all knew it, but we tried to monitor it, because we controlled most of the pilots you see. We’re giving him freedom of navigation into Thailand, into the bases, and we don’t want him to get involved in moving, you know, this illicit traffic–O.K., silver bars and gold, O.K., but not heroin. What they would do is, they weren’t going into Thailand, they were flying it in a big wet wing airplane that could fly for thirteen hours, a DC-3, and all the wings were filled with gas. They fly down to Pakse, then they fly over to Da Nang, and then the number two guy to President Thieu would receive it.

Nguyen Van Thieu was president of South Vietnam from 1967 to 1975. Reports at the time accused president Thieu of financing his election through the heroin trade. Like Vang Pao, he always denied it, remaining America’s honored and indispensable ally.

Tony Poe:
They were all in a contractual relationship:Some of this goes to me, some of this goes to thee. And you know just the bookkeeping–we deliver you on a certain day; they had coded messages and di-di-di. That means so and so as this much comes back and goes into our Swiss bank account. Oh they had a wonderful relationship and every, maybe, six months they’d all come together, have a party somewhere and talk about their business:is it good or bad. It is like a mafia, yeah, a big organized mafia.

By the end of 1970, there were thirty thousand Americans in Vietnam addicted to heroin. GI’s were dying from overdoses at the rate of two a day.

When the drug traffic became a real problem to the American troops in Vietnam, then the CIA was asked by President to get involved in the program to limit that traffic and stop it.

But in 1972, a U.S. intelligence agent in Southeast Asia sent a secret field report to customs. It suggested a serious conflict of interest: quote–“It was ironic that the CIA should be given the responsibility of narcotics intelligence, particularly since they were supporting the prime movers. Even though the CIA was, in fact, facilitating the movement of opiates to the U.S., they steadfastly hid behind the shield of secrecy and said that all was done in the interest of national security.” End quote.

I doubt that they had any strong deep understanding of what they were allowing to happen by turning their head the other way and letting Vang Pao ship his dope out which was made into heroin which was going to our troops, which was corrupting people throughout Southeast Asia and back here, the effect it had on crime, I doubt that any one of them really thought in those terms at the time.

While the heroin trade was flourishing by 1970, the war in Laos was going badly. As the communists steadily advanced, the civilian population faced a choice between evacuation to refugee camps or being bombed by the U.S. Air Force. These operations only added to the huge cost of feeding, training and supplying the secret army. For a war that did not officially exist, the CIA was spending heavily.

Harry Aderholt:
The money was always there. We had a program–In fact, that’s the reason the agency supply system was so much better than the military supply system.


Harry Aderholt:
Cash. They didn’t have to go through a procurement system, a bureaucracy, that made everything cost three times as much.

Fred Platt:
On two different occasions I brought bags up that I knew was payroll. Wish I’d have crashed on those times, and been able to stick that somewhere in the jungle and go get it, ‘cos it was unaccounted funds.

How much money would be in a bag?

Fred Platt:
Well I–you know, a bag would probably have a couple of hundred thousand dollars in it, depending on where you were going with it and who it was going to.

I was sitting up there in the Director’s–on the Director’s staff, and that’s where it all came together.

The CIA Director’s senior staff prepared the agency’s official budget.

Victor Marchetti:
For Laos, I think it was around thirty million, perhaps forty million, but it was very small.

Was that enough to run this war?

Victor Marchetti:
Well, I don’t think so. I would think the war was costing quite a big, probably–if all the costs were pulled together, I would imagine it would probably cost as much as the entire agency’s budget.

How was the war in Laos financed?

Richard Secord:
U.S. appropriated funds.

Through which agency?

Richard Secord:
I think through the CIA and through the Defense Department both.

A secret Pentagon report put the Defense Department contribution to the war in Laos at a hundred and forty-six million dollars in 1970. But the report also showed that the CIA was spending up to sixty million dollars more than they were getting from Congress.

Victor Marchetti:
Well, there may have been other funds generated by Vang Pao himself through his dope operations. After all I mean they were poppy growers and opium smugglers, so I imagine there was money being earned that way that was Vang Pao’s contribution to the war.

Is it conceivable that the CIA would fight a war with dope money?

Victor Marchetti:
Well, yes, in the sense that they would not sell dope to earn money to support an operation. But they would look the other way if the people they were supporting were financing themselves by selling dope.

Harry Aderholt:
General Vang Pao was financed by U.S. government funds.

How much was he getting?

Harry Aderholt:
I don’t know what General Vang Pao was getting, but the Meo program, I’m sure, ran several hundred million dollars. At the end, to fight a war like we were fighting, and to have an airline…I don’t know what the funding was, but I’m sure the Congressional Committees have access to those records.

As a former chief counsel for the House Select Committee on Narcotics, Joe Nellis did indeed have access to the records.

Joe Nellis:
Vang Pao had a heavy hand in the production of heroin in that area.

How much of the money that was going to pay these thousands and thousands of tribesmen to fight for us, for the CIA. Where was that money coming from?

Joe Nellis:
From the trade.

From the opium trade?

Joe Nellis:
Yes surely.

How would that work?

Joe Nellis:
Well, money would be paid for the transportation, and the safe arrival of the merchandise to its proper destination, and that money would be paid to the carrier, the person transporting the merchandise and that money would be used to pay off the farmers. But as I told you, they got so little of it that there was an enormous amount left over, and it was that money was used to feed to the peasants in order to get them to continue not only fighting for us but also continuing to give us very important intelligence about the movement of the North Vietnamese.

Richard Secord:
We wouldn’t have permitted it, it would have been too dangerous.


Richard Secord:
Because the American system wouldn’t put up with it.

Joe Nellis:
I have never revealed any classified information that I obtained when I was with the committee and I’m not going to start now, but I do know that that was verified.

That it was known here?

Joe Nellis:

Well, without getting into classified information, was that at a high level or a low level?

Joe Nellis:
Well, I can’t discuss the level. Let’s put it this way; you’re familiar with the Iran-Contra business.


Joe Nellis:
That was known at a very high level, it was known at all sorts of levels really–it’s amazing that they could keep it secret as long as they did, and I guess that was the situation with Air America. People in CIA certainly knew it, and at that time Dick Helms I think was the head of the office, and I’m sure he must have reported it to Nixon.

Former CIA Director Richard Helms told us: “I knew nothing of this. It certainly was not policy.”

It’s patently impossible. There are thousands of people involved in the intelligence community in the United States who read the reports, who are intimately familiar with details of field activities, and no such operation could ever be kept secret from the authorities in Washington, and would never be tolerated, never, not for a minute.

How many people knew what was going on?

Joe Nellis:
Oh I don’t think it was very many at all–


Joe Nellis:
–A handful–


Joe Nellis:
–A handful, maybe a hundred.

I personally did not complain, not at the time. I certainly complained after the fact, but that came as a result of my own awakening as to the rather horrible implications of what we were doing and I left working for the government rather abortively because I just could not tolerate myself-what was going on.

His disgust was not only at the drug trade, but at the human cost of a war in which the recruits were as young as eight years old.

These people were absolutely decimated. The war itself took its own toll. Thousands and thousands of these people were either maimed or killed or died of disease or malnutrition secondary to the effects of the war. Many were bombed, many were blown away by conflict and combat. What was left after the war was the exodus to the south or to the west.

These people have had their whole life destroyed for helping out in our war. For helping out in our war.

By 1981, six years after leaving Laos, the CIA was fighting another secret war, this time in Central America. The secret army were the Contras, fighting to overthrow the leftist government of Nicaragua. Once again, they were trained and equipped by the CIA. It was time for the old hands to go to work again.

Richard Secord:
It’s an irregular war in Central American, and there aren’t a lot of people who have experience in irregular warfare, paramilitary warfare, so it would be natural to see people who are experienced in this kind of operation utilized again.

It’s the old boy network as somebody called it one time. The call goes out and who’s got the experience? It’s the same war, different place and different names. We’re not speaking Laotian, we’re speaking Spanish now, but it’s the same darn war, I don’t care what anybody says.

Eugene Hasenfus was just one of a number of veterans from Laos who answered the call in Central America. When his plane was shot down over Nicaragua in October 1986, an Air America handbook turned up in the wreckage. Hasenfus had operated out of the Illopango Airbase in El Salvador, headquarters for the White House Contra resupply network. His commander there had been a veteran of another old CIA network. Felix Rodriguez, a Cuban American, had been sent down from Miami.

The feeling that I see now in the Nicaraguan freedom fighters, I know their experience, because I was left inside once, and I wanted to help them as much as I could.

Like Rodriguez, the Miami Cubans of Brigade 2506 are still ready to support the anti-communist cause, thirty years after their failed invasion of Cuba. They were willing recruits for the CIA’s war against Nicaragua. The Brigade supplied soldiers in the field, commanders and fundraisers for the Contra cause.

The Brigade had been created and trained by the CIA for the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961. After their defeat the CIA continued to maintain and use this skilled force of covert operators, wherever they were needed. Their numbers grew into the thousands. They had their own navy, as well as other assets provided by the CIA, including businesses and banks.

Manuel Artime:
I was in charge…

Manuel Artime was the agency’s favorite Cuban, handpicked to command both the Bay of Pigs and the covert operations that followed. In 1972, he recruited and arranged CIA training for a brilliant young accountant called Ramon Milian Rodriguez.

Ramon Milian Rodriguez:
He ran covert operations out of Miami for the CIA.

So Artime had a whole group of people who were his people?

Milian Rodriguez:
Oh yes, Artime ran a very large operation, it was very large. It was very active, all over Central and South America.

Manuel Artime:
A lot of Cubans go to work with the Central Intelligence Agency in foreign operations.

Milian Rodriguez:
He was in charge of, among other things, the Watergate burglars and things like that.

Did you launder any money for the Watergate guys?

Milian Rodriguez:
I made payments for the Watergate burglars, yes. I start out in life in one scandal and I’ve ended it in another, it seems. After Watergate, the group that Manuel Artime was running in Miami was disbanded. The fact that the burglars were Cuban really hurt in Miami, so you had a situation where people were laid off. They were just given the assets. For instance, if you were running a print shop, you kept the print shop. If you had a boat, as there were many boats for surveillance and intelligence, you just kept the boat. That was really the starting off point where you got some well trained people into the drug business.

Many, many Cubans worked for a time in that time. Some of them have become very successful good American citizens. Others have become gangsters.

But with a secret Contra was to fight, the agency was more interested in covert skills than good citizenship, particularly when it came to raising money. Ramon Milian Rodriguez was ideally placed. With access to the limitless resources of the Medellin cocaine cartel, he had no problem raising cash.


John Kerry:
You’ve been a supporter living in the Cuban community, passionately anti-communist and anti-Castro. You’ve also been a supporter of the Contras. Is that accurate?

Ramon Milian Rodriguez:
Yes sir.

John Kerry: 
Are you aware whether or not narcotics proceeds at some time may or may not have supported Contra efforts?

Milian Rodriguez:
Yes sir. Narcotics proceeds were used to shore up the Contra effort.

John Kerry:
Did you personally play a role in some of the transfer of that money?

Milian Rodriguez:
Yes I did.

In 1984, when Congress cut off Contra funding, the White House turned to other sources for support. According to documents, Ramon Milian Rodriguez had been laundering foreign payments for the CIA up through 1982, at the same time as he was laundering cash for the cocaine cartel. He says the CIA turned to him again.

To have people like me in place that can be used, is marvelous for them. The agency, and quite rightly so, has things that they have to do which they can never admit to an oversight committee, all right, and the only way they can fund these things is through drug money or through illicit money that they can get their hands on in some way.


John Kerry (in hearings):
Was any of the money traceable to drugs or to drug related transactions?

Milian Rodriguez:
The money that we–you’re taIking about the money that we provided?

John Kerry:
That’s right.

Milian Rodriguez:
No sir.

John Kerry:
And why was that?

Milian Rodriguez:
Because we’re experts at what we do.


Who is Ramon Milian Rodriguez?

Jose Blandon:
He worked for the Cartel.

So he was laundering money for the cartel?

Jose Blandon:

And he worked with Noriega?

Jose Blandon:

Until last year, Jose Blandon was General Manuel Noriega’s head of political intelligence in Panama. He was a key U.S. government witness for the grand jury that indicted Noriega for drug trafficking.

General Noriega was more than ready to support the Reagan administration in the Contra war after Congress cut off funding.

How important was Noriega to the White House in the Contra resupply effort?

Jose Blandon:
He play a key role in the supply of arms to the Contras.

So when various administration officials like Oliver North met with General Noriega, did they know that he was involved in narcotics trafficking?

Jose Blandon:
I think that the United States had information that Noriega is involved in drugs since at least eight years.

Eight years?

Jose Blandon:
Yes, so they knew about that.

Were they just looking the other way on his drug trafficking?

Jose Blandon:
The problem is that for the white House, I mean for the administration, the Reagan administration, Nicaragua was so important. The focus of all the foreign policy of the United States in Central America was Nicaragua and the fight against the communists, so for them drugs was something in second place.

Drugs took second place?

Jose Blandon:

Noriega’s Contra support earned him powerful friends in Washington, including the CIA Director William Casey. Noriega was on his payroll at a reported two hundred thousand dollars a year.

Jose Blandon:
That was a very special relationship.

What kind of special relationship?

Jose Blandon:
Well, Noriega talked with Casey and they had at least, that I know, more than three meetings. And he always received the support of Casey.

What kind of support from Casey?

Jose Blandon:
All kinds of support. Political support. So when somebody tried to investigate anything, Casey stopped it, look this is a very important person in this war

So Casey would actually stop investigations of Noriega?

Jose Blandon:
Yes, he was a man that helped Noriega very much.

According to Blandon, Noriega was not the only drug trafficker to reap the rewards of Contra support. The cocaine cartel also saw the advantages of backing U.S. policy.

Jose Blandon:
That’s the reason why the Cartel of Medellin decided in 1983 to cooperate with the Contras.

So you’re saying that in 1983 the Cartel started supporting the Contras?

Jose Blandon:

And the reason was because they knew that they could therefore get protection?

Jose Blandon:

How did they help them out? Was it arms, plus cash, or was it jut arms? How did that work?

Jose Blandon:
They work in different ways. First, they established the network to supply arms, and also they pay in cash.


General Paul Gorman:
If one wants to organize an armed resistance or an armed undertaking for any purpose; the easy place to get the money, the easy places to get the guns are in the drug world.

General Paul Gorman was the commander of the U.S. southern command, based in Panama, from 1982 to 1985.

The most ready source of money, big money, easy money, fast money, sure money, cash money is the narcotics racket.

General Gorman was asked whether the Contras could have relied on drug cash.


John Kerry:
Based on your knowledge of how it works and what you understood from your experience down there, it wouldn’t surprise you?

Paul Gorman:
Not at all, particularly if they’d been on somebody’s payroll and had their funds cut off. It would be the natural recourse of those people.

How much money was actually contributed by you or through you for the Contras, total?

Ramon Milian Rodriguez:
It was a little under ten million dollars.

I presume it wasn’t all sent in one suitcase.

Ramon Milian Rodriguez:
Oh no no. It was delivered on a per need basis. You know, they’d say we need so much at such a location and we’d take care of the logistics of it.

Milian Rodriguez says he used a series of Cuban controlled front companies in Miami and Costa Rica to funnel the ten million dollars to the Contra cause. These fronts ranged from banks to obscure fish companies located in out of the way Miami shopping centers or in provincial port towns in Costa Rica. The route for the drug cash was carefully disguised.


John Kerry:
Are you familiar with the name of a company called Frigirificos de Puntarenas.

Ramon Milian Rodriguez:
Yes sir, I am.

John Kerry:
What is that company?

Ramon Milian Rodriguez:
Well it’s a shrimp processing warehouse, but more importantly, was one of the fronts that we used.

John Kerry:
Did you set it up? What role did you play in it?

Ramon Milian Rodriguez:
I was the key person in setting up the interlocking chain of companies around Frigorificos de Puntarenas.

John Kerry:
Were payments or arrangements made by which the Contras could receive money through Frigorificos?

Ramon Milian Rodriguez:
Yes sir.

Ramon Milian Rodriguez:
If you add up what it cost to run the Contra operation and you get to a bottom line figure, and you deduct from that the known sources, you’re going to have a tremendous deficit and I think the question has to be where…you know, how was the deficit taken care of?

There was a deficit?

Ramon Milian Rodriguez:

they realized that.

Ramon Milian Rodriguez:
And we took care of it.


Congressman Les Aspin:
I’ve been spending some time looking at the numbers here of the amount of aid that the Contras were getting at various time and I come to the conclusion that we’re missing something, that there’s got to be another source of funding for the Contras other than those which this committee has so far identified.

Last summer, the Iran Contra committees were aware that there had been an unacknowledged source of money from somewhere.

Congressman Aspin:
I think there’s got to be some other source of funds that we, we meaning this committee has not yet uncovered.

Admiral Poindexter:
Well I don’t think I can help you there, I don’t know of anything else.

The war cost so much every day.

Richard Secord:

They were getting a certain amount, thanks to you, through Switzerland.

Richard Secord:
Any many others, yes.

And many others. But the war cost more than that.

Richard Secord:

Do you have any idea how much more it cost?

Richard Secord:
Well I think, uh–Director Casey asked me that, a similar question in the spring of ’86 I think it was an I told him that I thought that the Contra effort would need a minimum of ten million dollars over the next three months over and above the monies that we could apply in order to hang in there through the summer months til the Congress would act. There was some expectation in the White House I guess, and in State, that the Congress would act much sooner than they acted. Things were going downhill rapidly.


Senator D’Amato:
Did the people who received this money, were they aware of the fact that this was drug money, the proceeds came from drug money?

Ramon Milian Rodriguez
I–let’s put it like this, Senator D’Amato, the Contra peasant in the field did not but the men who made the contact with me did. At that time I was under indictment, I mean I was red hot.

His arrest was well publicized. The five million dollars seized with him brought Vice President Bush to Miami to pose with what the money launderer termed his petty cash.

Did Ramon Milian Rodriguez have any friends who were working in the Contra resupply network?

Jose Blandon:

Who would that have been?

Jose Blandon:
Felix Rodriguez.

Felix Rodriguez?

Jose Blandon:

A veteran of the Artime organization and the CIA, Felix Rodriguez was a key member of the White House resupply network. The Senate was told by the money launderer that it was Felix Rodriguez who solicited the drug cash.

You have a fellow that’s a tremendous patriot, like Felix Rodriguez, who has sacrificed his personal needs for the cause of fighting communism and all of a sudden he finds himself in a position where his troops are going to run out of money. They won’t have money for bullets, for food, for medicine. I think in the case of Felix it might have been something done out of desperation, they had to get money and they were willing to get it from any source to continue their war.

Richard Secord:
When they go on the offense they burn up a lot of ammunition, weapons, they need a lot of air resupply, radios, uniforms, boots, food, and all this stuff. You know, the cost just goes up.

Well there were allegations that Felix Rodriguez was desperately trying to make up that deficit.

Richard Secord:
If he was it certainly didn’t come to our attention.

So you have no knowledge of it?

Richard Secord:
No, not at all.

Well the allegations are that he tried to make up the deficit by soliciting money from drug traffickers.

Richard Secord:
Well I thought you were circling back to that but certainly we didn’t hear anything like that at the time. As I said Felix is no friend of mine but I’d be astonished if he were involved with drug traffickers, I really would.

When General Noriega told you that Felix Rodriguez was friendly with Ramon Milian Rodriguez, were you surprised to hear that Felix Rodriguez would be involved with a drug traffickers?

Jose Blandon:
Surprised? Why?

According to Blandon, while Felix Rodriguez was supplying the Contras from Illopango, he was receiving arms shipments with the help of this man: Mike Harare, a former Israeli intelligence agent and a key aide to General Noriega. Harare, says Blandon, was also in business for the cocaine cartel, using the same network to ship arms and drugs, all with the sanction of the CIA.

Did he get involved with narcotics trafficking in the course of helping to supply the Contras with weapons?

Jose Blandon:
Yes, that was part of the business.

So he was moving cocaine —

Jose Blandon:

–From Colombia to the United States?

Jose Blandon:
No. They moved the cocaine from Colombia to Panama, to the airstrips in Costa Rica or Honduras to the United States.

At the same time as he was gathering up arms for the Contras?

Jose Blandon:

Where were the arms coming from?

Jose Blandon:
From Yugoslavia, and from the East bloc, the communist countries

From 1983 to 1985, says Blandon, this network, supported by Israeli and U.S. intelligence was a major source of arms for the Contras.

Harare, the Israeli, who was working with Noriega, was working with Felix Rodriguez?

Jose Blandon:

And Harare at the same time was involved with drug trafficking?

Jose Blandon:

Who was Felix Rodriguez working for, or with, when he approached you?

Ramon Milian Rodriguez:
Well the only government mention he made was Vice President Bush.

And what was his relationship with Bush as you understood it?

Ramon Milian Rodriguez:
He was reporting directly to Bush. I was led to believe he was reporting regularly to the Vice President.

Richard Secord:
He was in touch with the VP’s office on a number of occasions. I really don’t know, I’ve never understood that relationship.

Ramon Milian Rodriguez:
The request for the contribution made a lot more sense because Felix was reporting to George Bush. If Felix had come to me and said I’m reporting to anyone else, let’s say, you know, Oliver North, I might have been more skeptical, I didn’t know who Oliver North was and I didn’t know his background. But you know, if you have a…let’s say we’ll call him an ex-CIA operative, even though it’s not true you know, he’s a current operative…

Who is?

Ramon Milian Rodriguez:
Felix. You know, everyone says he’s ex-CIA–

This is Felix Rodriguez–

Ramon Milian Rodriguez:
–Yeah, there’s nothing ex about him. But if you have a CIA, what you consider to be a CIA man coming to you saying ‘I want to fight this war, we’re out of funds, can you help us out. I’m reporting directly to Bush on it’, I mean it’s very real, very believable, here you have a CIA guy reporting to his old boss.

This February 1985 memo from General Paul Gorman confirms that Bush and the Cuban had known each other for years, and that Rodriguez’ primary responsibility was Nicaragua and the Contra FDN forces.

Rodriguez quote “is operating as a private citizen, but his acquaintanceship with the Vice President is real enough, going back to the latter’s days as Director of Central Intelligence. Rodriguez’ primary commitment to the region is in Nicaragua, where he wants to assist the FDN.”


Iran Contra investigator:
Did you say anything to Vice President Bush about your activities on behalf of this resupply operation?

Felix Rodriguez:
No sir, not to him or anyone on his staff.

But when Hasenfus was shot down, the first call that Rodriguez made from Central America was to a staffer of Vice President Bush. Questions about that call forced the Bush office to put out a summary, listing seventeen meetings with Rodriguez, including three with Bush himself. Nevertheless the Vice President has insisted that these contacts with Rodriguez concerned only El Salvador, not the Contras.

Ramon Milian Rodriguez:
He wasn’t selling drugs. We were, you know, he was just raising money, tainted money granted, but for a very good cause.

Felix Rodriguez claims he met with the cartel’s money launderer only once, and never solicited cash.


John Kerry:
We permitted narcotics we were complicitous as a country in narcotics traffic at the same time as we’re spending countless dollars in this country to try to get rid of this problem. It’s mind boggling.

Is the war on drugs a big priority in this country, really?

Joe Nellis:
Oh no, no, it’s largely a joke. There is no war on drugs. No president who’s ever announced one has ever fought one, and no President who’s ever announced one has ever given the soldiers the ammunition with which to fight one.

Senator D’Amato:
The intelligence agencies of this country by God should be involved in this battle instead of working with the scum of the earth, which they’ve been doing. They should be involved in this battle as a crusade for the survival of this country and this hemisphere.

John Kerry:
I don’t know if we’ve got the worst intelligence system in the world, I don’t know if we’ve got the best and they knew it all and just overlooked it. But no matter how you look at it, something’s wrong. Something is really wrong out there.

Now, you can deny U.S. government involvement in drugs all you wanted, but the patterns are there and the players are there popping up again and, you know, eventually somebody’s going to realize what the truth is.

This summer, both Ramon Milian Rodriguez and Felix Rodriguez are expected to testify publicly in front of Senator Kerry’s committee about the drug cartel’s alleged 10 million dollar contribution to the Contras.

Vice President Bush declined to be interviewed for this program or to reply to FRONTLINE’s written questions about his relationship with Felix Rodriguez.

Thank you for joining us. I’m Judy Woodruff. Good night.

Read more: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/drugs/archive/gunsdrugscia.html#ixzz1XFZV0TEF

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CIA’s Afghan Crop

CIA, Heroin Still Rule Day in Afghanistan

“U.S. Army planes leave Afghanistan carrying coffins empty of bodies, but filled with drugs.”

By Victor Thorn, AmericanFreePress.net, November 24, 2008

Afghanistan now supplies over 90 percent of the world’s heroin, generating nearly $200 billion in revenue. Since the U.S. invasion on Oct. 7, 2001, opium output has increased 33-fold (to over 8,250 metric tons a year).

The U.S. has been in Afghanistan for over seven years, has spent $177 billion in that country alone, and has the most powerful and technologically advanced military on Earth. GPS tracking devices can locate any spot imaginable by simply pushing a few buttons.

Still, bumper crops keep flourishing year after year, even though heroin production is a laborious, intricate process. The poppies must be planted, grown and harvested; then after the morphine is extracted it has to be cooked, refined, packaged into bricks and transported from rural locales across national borders. To make heroin from morphine requires another 12-14 hours of laborious chemical reactions. Thousands of people are involved, yet—despite the massive resources at our disposal—heroin keeps flowing at record levels.

Common sense suggests that such prolific trade over an extended period of time is no accident, especially when the history of what has transpired in that region is considered. While the CIA ran its operations during the Vietnam War, the Golden Triangle supplied the world with most of its heroin. After that war ended in 1975, an intriguing event took place in 1979 when Zbigniew Brzezinski covertly manipulated the Soviet Union into invading Afghanistan.Behind the scenes, the CIA, along with Pakistan’s ISI, were secretly funding Afghanistan’s mujahideen to fight their Russian foes. Prior to this war, opium production in Afghanistan was minimal. But according to historian Alfred McCoy, an expert on the subject, a shift in focus took place. “Within two years of the onslaught of the CIA operation in Afghanistan, the Pakistan-Afghanistan borderlands became the world’s top heroin producer.”

When the history of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan is written, Washington’s sordid involvement in the heroin trade and its alliance with drug lords and war criminals of the Afghan Communist Party will be one of the most shameful chapters.

Soon, as Professor Michel Chossudovsky notes, “CIA assets again controlled the heroin trade. As the mujahideen guerrillas seized territory inside Afghanistan, they ordered peasants to plant poppies as a revolutionary tax. Across the border in Pakistan, Afghan leaders and local syndicates under the protection of Pakistan intelligence operated hundreds of heroin laboratories.”

Eventually, the Soviet Union was defeated (their version of Vietnam), and ultimately lost the Cold War. The aftermath, however, proved to be an entirely new can of worms. During his research, McCoy discovered that “the CIA supported various Afghan drug lords, for instance Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. The CIA did not handle heroin, but it did provide its drug lord allies with transport, arms, and political protection.”

By 1994, a new force emerged in the region—the Taliban—that took over the drug trade. Chossudovsky again discovered that “the Americans had secretly, and through the Pakistanis [specifically the ISI], supported the Taliban’s assumption of power.”

These strange bedfellows endured a rocky relationship until July 2000 when Taliban leaders banned the planting of poppies. This alarming development, along with other disagreements over proposed oil pipelines through Eurasia, posed a serious problem for power centers in the West. Without heroin money at their disposal, billions of dollars could not be funneled into various CIA black budget projects. Already sensing trouble in this volatile region, 18 influential neo-cons signed a letter in 1998 which became a blueprint for war—the infamous Project for a New American Century (PNAC).

Fifteen days after 9-11, CIA Director George Tenet sent his top-secret Special Operations Group (SOG) into Afghanistan. One of the biggest revelations in Tenet’s book, At the Center of the Storm, was that CIA forces directed the Afghanistan invasion, not the Pentagon.

In the Jan. 26, 2003, issue of Time magazine, Douglas Waller describes Donald Rumsfeld’s reaction to this development. “When aides told Rumsfeld that his Army Green Beret A-Teams couldn’t go into Afghanistan until the CIA contingent had lain the groundwork with local warlords, he erupted, ‘I have all these guys under arms, and we’ve got to wait like little birds in a nest for the CIA to let us go in?’”


But the real operator in Afghanistan was Richard Armitage, a man whose legend includes being the biggest heroin trafficker in Cambodia and Laos during the Vietnam War; director of the State Department’s Foreign Narcotics Control Office (a front for CIA drug dealing); head of the Far East Company (used to funnel drug money out of the Golden Triangle); a close liaison with Oliver North during the Iran-Contra cocaine-for-guns scandal; a primary Pentagon official in the terror and covert ops field under George Bush the Elder; one of the original signatories of the infamous PNAC document; and the man who helped CIA Director William Casey run weapons to the mujahideen during their war against the Soviet Union. Armitage was also stationed in Iran during the mid-1970s right before Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini overthrew the shah. Armitage may well be the greatest covert operator in U.S. history.

On Sept. 10, 2001, Armitage met with the UK’s national security advisor, Sir David Manning. Was Armitage “passing on specific intelligence information about the impending terrorist attacks”? The scenario is plausible because one day later—on 9-11—Dick Cheney directly called for Armitage’s presence down in his bunker. Immediately after WTC 2 was struck, Armitage told BBC Radio, “I was told to go to the operations center [where] I spent the rest of the day in the ops center with the vice president.”

These two share a long history together. Not only was Armitage employed by Cheney’s former company Halliburton (via Brown & Root), he was also a deputy when Cheney was secretary of defense under Bush the Elder. More importantly, Cheney and Armitage had joint business and consulting interests in the Central Asian pipeline which had been contracted by Unocal. The only problem standing between them and the Caspian Sea’s vast energy reserves was the Taliban.

Since the 1980s, Armitage amassed a huge roster of allies in Pakistan’s ISI. He was also one of the “Vulcans”—along with Condi Rice, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, and Rabbi Dov Zakheim—who coordinated Bush’s geo-strategic foreign policy initiatives. Then, after 9-11, he negotiated with the Pakistanis prior to our invasion of Afghanistan, while also becoming Bush’s deputy secretary of state stationed in Afghanistan.

Our “enemy,” or course, was the Taliban “terrorists.” But George Tenet, Colin Powell, Porter Goss, and Armitage had developed a close relationship with Pakistan’s military head of the ISI—General Mahmoud Ahmad— who was cited in a Sept. 2001 FBI report as “supporting and financing the alleged 9-11 terrorists, as well as having links to al Qaeda and the Taliban.”

The line between friend and foe gets even murkier. Afghan President Hamid Karzai not only collaborated with the Taliban, but he was also on Unocal’s payroll in the mid-1990s. He is also described by Saudi Arabia’s Al-Watan newspaper as being “a Central Intelligence Agency covert operator since the 1980s that collaborated with the CIA in funding U.S. aid to the Taliban.”

Capturing a new, abundant source for heroin was an integral part of the U.S. “war on terror.” Hamid Karzai is a puppet ruler of the CIA; Afghanistan is a full-fledged narco-state; and the poppies that flourish there have yet to be eradicated, as was proven in 2003 when the Bush administration refused to destroy the crops, despite having the chance to do so. Major drug dealers are rarely arrested, smugglers enjoy carte blanche immunity, and Nushin Arbabzadah, writing for The Guardian, theorized that “U.S. Army planes leave Afghanistan carrying coffins empty of bodies, but filled with drugs.” Is that why the military protested so vehemently when reporters tried to photograph returning caskets?

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Why We’re Really There

How Deeply is the U.S. involved in the Afghan Drug Trade?

Experience in Indochina and Central America suggests that CIA, the principal paymaster for U.S.-backed Afghan warlords, may be more deeply involved in the drug trade than we yet know.

By Eric Margolis, The Huffington Post, October 15, 2008


Opium fields in Afghanistan
RAWA: Since 2001 the opium cultivation increased over 4,400%. Under the US/NATO, Afghanistan became world largest opium producer, which produces 93% of world opium.

Afghanistan is in a `downward spiral,’ the Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen, admitted last week, giving the most negative view of that conflict heard in Washington.

Military men are programmed to always be optimistic, so Admiral Mullen’s grim words were particularly noteworthy. They also flatly contradicted the rosy claims of `progress’ in Afghanistan made by the Bush administration and its increasingly dispirited allies in Canada, France, Germany, Italy and other NATO nations that were dragooned into this deeply unpopular war.

Most Europeans see the Afghan conflict as a 19th-century style colonial war for regional domination and resources. By contrast, Americans are still being misled by their corporate media and posturing politicians of both parties into believing the seven-year U.S. occupation of Afghanistan is a noble `anti-terrorism’ mission that is defending women’s rights and rebuilding a ravage nation instead of another brutal grab for energy, this time from the Caspian Basin.

In a troubling example of Vietnam-style ‘mission creep,’ the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David McKiernan, is calling for 15,000 more American troops on top of the 8,000 now slated to arrive in January 2009. His predecessor told Congress that 400,000 U.S. troops would be needed to pacify Afghanistan.

But McKiernan also called for talks with Afghan nationalists resisting western occupation collectively known as Taliban. Days earlier, it was revealed that senior British officers and diplomats in Afghanistan had called the US-led war `un-winnable’ and advocated peace talks with Taliban.

When the history of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan is written, Washington’s sordid involvement in the heroin trade and its alliance with drug lords and war criminals of the Afghan Communist Party will be one of the most shameful chapters.

Admiral Mullen also ordered U.S. and NATO forces to begin targeting Afghanistan’s opium and heroin dealers. Under American tutelage, Afghanistan has become the world’s leading narco-state, surpassing even Colombia, and now producing 90% of the world’s heroin. Well over half of the nation’s GDP consists of drug money. Considering this, Admiral Mullen’s ‘shoot on sight’ orders seem rather overdue.

The 64,000 rupee question that arises from Admiral Mullen’s new anti-drug policy is: Why was it not done seven years ago when the U.S. invaded Afghanistan? Why did Washington turn a blind eye to the Afghan drug trade and is only now taking some action?

The answer is simple and dismaying. America’s local allies in Afghanistan, the politicians and warlords who overthrew Taliban in 2001, are up to their turbans in the heroin trade. Drug money is the blood that courses through Afghanistan’s veins and keeps the economy limping along. The U.S.-installed Karzai regime in Kabul propped up by US and NATO bayonets has only two sources of income: cash handouts from Washington, and the proceeds of drug dealing.

When Taliban ruled 90% of Afghanistan from 1996-2001, it almost totally stamped out poppy cultivation as un-Islamic. The UN’s drug control agency has confirmed this fact. The only remaining source of drug dealing was in the remote northeast of Afghanistan controlled by the Russian and Iranian-backed Northern Alliance, made up of Tajik Panshiri tribesmen, brutal Uzbek warlord Rashid Dostam, and the remains of the old Afghan Communist Party.

In 2001, the U.S. overthrew Taliban and put the drug-dealing Northern Alliance and Communists in power. Since then, Afghanistan’s drug production has spread across the nation and exports have soared by 60-70%, making Afghanistan the source of nearly all the world’s supply of heroin.

Washington called off efforts by the Drug Enforcement Agency to combat the Afghan drug trade for fear of endangering the power base of its former CIA `asset,’ President Hamid Karzai. Starting with Karzai’s brother, Ahmed Wali, the U.S.-installed regime’s most important supporters are all involved in varying degrees with the heroin trade. As this writer has seen himself, almost every important warlord gets revenue from the drug trade. The Northern Alliance warlords are considered the biggest of the nation’s narco-dealers. Ahmed Karzai denies involvement.

Moving against the drug warlords would have meant undermining Karzai’s sole domestic support. So Washington held its nose and let the drug trade flourish in order to sustain the occupation. The faux `war on terror’ and lust for Caspian energy trumped the old war on drugs.

Russian state-controlled Channel One TV has broadcast a report containing allegations that US forces are involved in drug-trafficking from Afghanistan to Europe. It also highlighted the problem of drug abuse in the British army.

Experience in Indochina and Central America suggests that CIA, the principal paymaster for U.S.-backed Afghan warlords, may be more deeply involved in the drug trade than we yet know.

Author Alfred McCoy’s wrote a brilliant study in his ground-breaking `The Politics of Heroin’ in which he documents how first French, then American intelligence was drawn into the heroin trade in Laos and Vietnam as a way of supporting anti-Communist guerilla fighters. The same thing happened in Central America where CIA collaborated with cocaine-dealing members of the anti-Communist Contras.

In both cases, drugs served as a currency and became more important than paper money. French and American spies even ended up transporting heroin for their local allies. The same may be happening in Afghanistan.

Equally disturbing, there is no way that simple Afghan farmers or Taliban fighters are running the drug trade, as Washington claims. Poppy sap is collected and converted into opium tar. Then it is smuggled to secret labs in Pakistan to be transformed into first morphine base, and then purified into heroin. None of these drugs would move south into Pakistan or be processed with imported chemicals without the full cooperation and assistance of the Afghan government, its supporting warlords, and local Pakistani officials. The drugs are then smuggled out of the port of Karachi, again under at protection by port and local officials. Pakistan is a key U.S. ally.

The Karzai regime has been totally corrupted by the drug trade, and so has parts of Pakistan’s establishment. But the United States has also become corrupted in the sense that it has done nothing to combat this scourge and has collaborated with Afghanistan’s drug barons by at minimum turning blind eye.

When the history of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan is written, Washington’s sordid involvement in the heroin trade and its alliance with drug lords and war criminals of the Afghan Communist Party will be one of the most shameful chapters.

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A Washington Death

44 Years Later, a Washington, D.C. Death Unresolved

Mary Pinchot Meyer’s death remains a mystery. But it’s her life that holds more interest now

By Lance Morrow, Smithsonian magazine, December 2008

Mary Pinchot Meyer

Mary’s marriage to Cord Meyer would reflect Washington’s gender dramas.
On a perfect October day in 1964, Mary Pinchot Meyer—mistress of John Kennedy, friend of Jackie Kennedy and ex-wife of a top CIA man, Cord Meyer—was murdered in the rarefied Washington precinct of Georgetown.

It was half past noon. I was a cub reporter on the Washington Star. In the classically scruffy pressroom at police headquarters, I heard the radio dispatcher direct Cruisers 25 and 26 (which I recognized as homicide squad cars) to the C&O Canal. I alerted the city desk, drove to Georgetown, ran to the wall overlooking the canal and saw a body curled up in a ball on the towpath. Two men who had been changing a tire nearby told me they had heard a shot…a cry for help…a second shot…and had called the police.

There were no cops with the body yet. But in the distance, between the Potomac and the canal, I saw the lines of the police dragnet closing in along the towpath from west and east.

Because I had played there as a boy, I knew there was a tunnel under the canal a few hundred yards west of where the body lay. I knew the killer was still at large and might also have known about it. But the tunnel would be the quickest way for me to get to the other side of the canal, to where the body was. I pushed aside the vines at the tunnel entrance and hurried through, heart pounding, and burst into sunshine on the other side. I approached the body of Mary Pinchot Meyer and stood over it, weirdly and awkwardly alone as the police advanced from either direction.

She lay on her side, as if sleeping. She was dressed in a light blue fluffy angora sweater, pedal pushers and sneakers. She was an artist and had a studio nearby, and she had gone out for her usual lunchtime walk. I saw a neat and almost bloodless bullet hole in her head. She looked entirely peaceful, vaguely patrician. She had an air of Georgetown. I stood there with her until the police came up. I held a reporter’s notebook. The cops from the homicide squad knew me. They told me to move away.

The police found a man in the woods down by the river. His name was Ray Crump Jr., and he was black. His clothes were wet. He had cut his hand. He gave the police a couple of stories. He said he had been fishing and had dropped his fishing pole and gone into the river to retrieve it; he said he had been drinking beer and went to sleep and fell in. The two men who had heard the shots told the police they had seen Crump standing over the body. He was booked for homicide. The police found his jacket and cap in the river. His fishing rod was in a closet where he lived, on the other side of the city. The murder weapon was never found. It may still be at the bottom of the river. Crump eventually was acquitted for lack of evidence.

That October day rests in a corner of my mind, a vivid and mysterious curio. I pick it up from time to time and examine it in different lights. I have not figured it out, though I have theories. I thought of Mary Meyer’s murder again during the presidential campaign, when the drama of a black man, Barack Obama, and two women, Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin, in a race for the top places in American government took me back over a distance of time to a city that was then, for black people and for women, a different universe.

When Mary Meyer died, no one knew about her affair with John Kennedy, or about her ex-husband’s job managing the CIA’s clandestine services. In newspapers, Cord Meyer—wounded World War II hero and young idealist who helped found the United World Federalists—was identified as an author, with a vague government job. The papers noted that Mary, 43, was a Georgetown artist, born to a wealthy Pennsylvania family, daughter of Amos Pinchot, the Progressive lawyer, and niece of Gifford Pinchot, the conservationist and Teddy Roosevelt’s chief forester. Her younger sister, Tony, was married to Ben Bradlee, then of Newsweek, later of the Washington Post. It was Bradlee who identified the body at the morgue.

Then other news supervened. There was a presidential election coming, Johnson (who had recently signed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution) versus Goldwater (the warmonger, according to the 1964 narrative). Khrushchev was deposed. China exploded its first nuclear bomb.

But over the years, sensational fragments of the story (JFK, CIA) turned up. Inevitably, conspiracy theories emerged. Who killed Mary—really? Was Ray Crump set up? By whom? Why?

As real evidence went mute, the public imagination worked on two possible narratives.

The first was what might be called the Oliver Stone Solution—that is, to posit a conspiracy elaborate enough and sinister enough to do imaginative and, as it were, cinematic justice to the murder of a woman with such suggestive, powerful connections. The journalist Nina Burleigh sifted through plot possibilities in her excellent book on Meyer, A Very Private Woman (1998), and quoted the critic Morris Dickstein on the temptations of the 1960s’ paranoid style—”a sense at once joyful and threatening that things are not what they seem, that reality is mysteriously overorganized and can be decoded if only we attend to the hundred little hints and byways that beckon to us.”

Thus in the Stone Solution, popular on the Internet, Meyer was done in by “the same sons of bitches that killed John F. Kennedy,” as one writer, C. David Heymann, claims he was told by the dying Cord Meyer. Another writer, Leo Damore (also dead), argued that Crump “was the perfect patsy, better even than Lee Harvey Oswald. Mary Meyer was killed by a well-trained professional hit man, very likely somebody connected to the CIA”—the idea being that she knew “too much for her own good.”

The second scenario might be called the Richard Wright Solution, after the author of the 1940 novel Native Son, whose protagonist, Bigger Thomas, is tormented by the oppressions of poverty and racism: “To Bigger and his kind white people were not really people; they were a sort of great natural force, like a stormy sky looming overhead, or like a deep swirling river stretching suddenly at one’s feet in the dark.” In this scenario, Crump one day left his home in black Southeast Washington, crossed the segregated city, passing the Capitol and the White House, and entered white Georgetown. And there—on the home turf of mandarins, of Joe Alsop and Kay Graham and Scotty Reston and Dean Acheson—his path intersected for a moment with Mary Meyer’s.

You could choose your movie. Solution One drew Mary Meyer into the world of James Ellroy, the grassy knoll, Jim Garrison, the Mafia, Judith Exner, Fair Play for Cuba, Operation Mongoose and so on. Solution Two inserted Mary Meyer by accident into an entirely different story: the primal drama of race in America.

The Oliver Stone Solution regards Ray Crump as misdirection. The Richard Wright Solution regards the conspiracy as misdirection. I don’t buy either—the conspiracy theory smacks of the Oedipal paranoid (fantasies of hidden plots by sinister super-elders), and the other doesn’t cover the particularities of this act. (At the same time, given what the two witnesses said, and given Crump’s alcoholism and mental instability and criminal record before and after the murder, I believe the jury erred in acquitting him.)

In retrospect, the case suggests other movies, ones from Mary Meyer’s youth—like the intricate murder puzzle Laura, or else that Greatest Generation favorite Casablanca, with its throbbing moral choices, worked out over endless cigarettes and sacramental booze.

Sometimes, the mere whodunit questions about Mary Meyer’s murder seem mechanical. Especially today, in the context of Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin, Condoleezza Rice, Nancy Pelosi and others who have enlarged the professional horizons of women, the memory of Washington at the earlier time returns with a certain sadness and sense of waste.

It is less the mystery of Mary Meyer’s death—I am used to that—than something complicated and poignant and elusive in her life that I have come to find moving.

I grew up watching my mother and a number of women of her generation (which included Mary Meyer, born two years before my mother) struggling, in different ways, with the dilemmas of marriage and children and power and alcohol and ambition in a city that was politically charged, noisy with controversy and at the same time stunningly dull. There was hardly a decent restaurant in town, and not much theater beyond the pedestrian National Theatre down by the Treasury Department. (The National offered visiting Bulgarian dance troupes, dancing dogs, perhaps, and an occasional Broadway roadshow.) Sunday afternoons seemed to go on for months. Washington was hermetically segregated, ideologically overtriumphant, militarily overpowerful…yet also overanxious, overboozed, overstretched.

You saw those traits in Georgetown, which seemed to house half the hierarchy of the State Department and the CIA and the journalistic establishment, many of whom gathered for argumentative high-policy dinner parties on Sunday nights (“the Sunday Night Drunk,” as one regular called it). Men from Wild Bill Donovan’s old OSS and Allen Dulles’ CIA and other cold warriors out of Groton and Yale and Princeton would drink too much and shout and might even, toward one or two in the morning, go for one another’s throats. They would send a note of apology next day. The expensively educated had styles of cluelessness and overcompensating machismo that would come to grief at the Bay of Pigs.

Mary Meyer was a 1940s-50s American housewife (postwar marriage, suburbs and children in the Eisenhower years) who plunged headlong (with an aristocratically concealed recklessness that was a trademark of hers) into the ’60s and into her private new frontiers. After her divorce, she had moved to Georgetown, become an artist (and longtime lover of the painter Kenneth Noland), experimented with drugs (in part, it seems, under the tutelage of Timothy Leary, who, in a book many years later, claimed that Mary wanted to turn Camelot into a peace-and-love acid trip). Mary climbed the back stairs of the White House to have her affair. Then she died on the towpath—woman interrupted. By unhappy irony, the questing, independent woman would be known after her death not as an artist, but as Kennedy’s girlfriend.

Washington was a small town. My parents’ cast of characters and Mary Meyer’s cast of characters overlapped sometimes. I played touch football on Saturday mornings at the playground field at 34th and Q streets, near Mary’s house, with Bobby Kennedy and his cronies, with Byron “Whizzer” White and others. John Kennedy sometimes came to watch, leaning on crutches.

It was a masculine town. Joe Kennedy was known to remark that if his daughter Eunice had been born male, “she would have been a hell of a politician.” Bobby Kennedy became furious in a football game when his wife, Ethel, about six months pregnant, dropped a pass. The drama of the transformation of Washington women began with gunshots to the head—Philip Graham’s suicide in August 1963; John Kennedy’s assassination in November 1963; Mary Meyer’s death in October 1964. Katharine Graham, the formerly suppressed wife (mousewife/housewife, by her own account) of Philip, took over his job running the Washington Post after his death. She became a national force. It was Kay Graham who decisively ended the after-dinner ritual of having the ladies go off by themselves to powder noses and discuss women’s things while the men had coffee and cognac and talked about the cold war. She simply balked at this one night at Joseph Alsop’s.

The Washington gender dramas had been going on for a long time, with different casts and styles. Kay Graham had an interesting predecessor, Cissy Patterson, editor of Hearst’s old Washington Herald in the ’30s and ’40s. She was a stylish drinker, imaginative newspaper editor and occasional hell-raiser, an heiress of the McCormick-Medill-Patterson newspaper dynasty who in her heedless youth had gone off and married a Polish count. Cissy once said most men thought of women editors as Samuel Johnson had famously regarded women preachers: “Sir, a woman preaching is like a dog’s walking on his hind legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all.”

But women like my mother, or like Cissy Patterson, or like Mary Meyer, enjoyed the surprise and the delight that they were able to elicit in men—a little like the effect Marlene Dietrich achieved in Blonde Venus when she came on stage dressed in a gorilla suit and slowly removed the head to reveal her taunting, spectacular self. They knew the uses of electrical currents, erotic jolts that were lively with a cross-grained politics of sex. Exceptional women of that era were more interesting, more vivid, more dramatic—if sometimes more troubled and vulnerable and prone to folly—than some of the ironclads that emerged in Washington later on, after Mary’s death, evolving through the generation of Barbara Jordan and Bella Abzug and on into the accession of Hillary Clinton or Condoleezza Rice. The political success of women—still only partial—sometimes has the perversely flattening and narrowing effect of making them (much like male politicians) a little dull, a little relentless and charmlessly self-important. Although Sarah Palin, of course, proved to be, for better or for worse, not dull.

Kennedy did not treat Mary Meyer as one of his mere sexual conveniences. He cherished a quizzical respect for her originality and independence. He told Ben Bradlee, more than once, “Mary would be rough to live with.” Bradlee, her brother-in-law, agreed.

My mother, Elise Morrow, wrote a syndicated column called “Capital Capers” that appeared in papers around the country. She had an extravagant admiration for Cissy Patterson, though she disapproved of Patterson’s anti-FDR isolationism. My mother’s column worked the after-dark borderline between Perle Mesta’s territory (parties, ladies, gossip, Embassy Row, the things that senators and congressmen said at night after several drinks) and the men’s world of power and cold war.

My mother was a small woman who looked a bit like Ingrid Bergman and affected a knowing Mae West swagger. I have a photograph of her posed behind her Smith Corona, wearing long black evening gloves, with a glass of white wine on the table beside her. She knew how to drink like a man, and how to cuss like a man as well, a talent that Lyndon Johnson found hilarious. She could always get his attention.

One night at some political dinner at the Shoreham Hotel she sat next to Richard Nixon, then a young congressman. They both got a little drunk. My mother told Nixon he should get out of politics because he did not understand people and if he did not get out, things would end badly. The next day Nixon telephoned my father at his office at the Saturday Evening Post, where he was an editor, and said, “Hugh, can’t you control your wife?” The answer was no.

Nixon’s own wife went a separate and, when possible, more private road. An attractive, able, courageous woman, Pat Nixon had no interest in banging her head against the Washington wall that my mother banged her head against. She regarded women like my mother, media types, as the enemy. She settled into what turned out to be the complicated fate of being Mrs. Richard Nixon.

My mother had two marriages and seven children. She was an avid, headlong and brilliantly self-educated woman (married at 15!) who wanted a great deal (motherhood, a career as a great writer, lovers). Her fate was complicated as well.

Mary Meyer did not survive. My mother did. She lived to be 84. She thought now and then of writing a memoir called Before My Time. On a drizzly morning not many months ago, as she had wished, my brothers and my sister and I brought her ashes—coarse, grainy, salt-and-pepper ashes, all that was left of a vivid life—to the bank of the Potomac above Great Falls and scattered them on the surface of the brown, swollen river. The ashes swirled off downstream toward Washington, and for a second I imagined them floating down by Georgetown, passing over a pistol in the mud.

Lance Morrow, a former essayist for Time, is writing a biography of Henry Luce.

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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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