Heritage of Stone
Reprinted with permission from "High Times" magazine, September, 1991, with help from Mark Zepezauer at the Santa Cruz Comic News. by Steven Hager
Attorney General Ramsey Clark, a close friend of President Lyndon Johnson, announced from Washington that the federal government had already investigated and exonerated Clay Shaw. "Needless to say," writes Garrison, "this did not exactly make me look like District Attorney of the Year."
Meanwhile, all sorts of backpedalling was going on at the Justice Department. If Shaw had been investigated, why wasn't his name in the Warren Commission Report? "The attorney general has since determined that this was erroneous," said a spokesman for Clark. "Nothing arose indicating a need to investigate Mr. Shaw."
Realizing he was in a political minefield, Garrison presented his case as cautiously as possible. A grand jury was convened that included Jay C. Albarado. "On March 14, three criminal-court judges heard Garrison's case in a preliminary hearing to determine if there was enough evidence against Shaw to hold him for trial,"
Albarado wrote recently in a letter to the New Orleans Times- Picayune. "What did they conclude? That there was sufficient evidence. Garrison then presented his evidence to a 12-member grand jury. We ruled there was sufficient evidence to bring Shaw to trial. Were we duped by Garrison? I think not."
Thanks to all the unwanted publicity, Garrison's staff had swollen with volunteers eager to work on the case. The 6'6" Garrison, now dubbed the "Jolly Green Giant," had already become a hero to the many citizens and researchers who had serious doubts about the Warren Commission. Unfortunately, a few of these eager volunteers were later exposed as government informers. Shortly before the case went to trial, one of the infiltrators Xeroxed all of Garrison's files and turned them over to Shaw's defense team.
On September 4, 1967, Chief Justice Earl Warren announced that Garrison's case was worthless. The New York Times characterized the investigation as a "morbid frolic." Newsweek reported that the conspiracy was "a plot of Garrison's own making." Life magazine published the first of many reports linking Garrison with the Mafia. (Richard Billings, an editor at Life, had been one of the first journalists to gain access to Garrison's inner circle, under the guise of "wanting to help" the investigation.) Walter Sheridan, a former Naval Intelligence operative and NBC investigator, appeared in New Orleans with a film crew. Their purpose? An expose titled "The Case of Jim Garrison," which was broadcast in June '67.
"It required only a few minutes to see that NBC had classified the case as criminal and had appointed itself as the prosecutor," writes Garrison.
Puzzled by the intensity of NBC's attack, Garrison went to the library and did some research on the company. He learned the network was a subsidiary of RCA, a bulwark of the military-industrial complex whose defense contracts had increased by more than a billion dollars from 1960 to 1967. Its chairman, retired General David Sarnoff, was a well-known proponent of the Cold War.
"Some long-cherished illusions about the great free press in our country underwent a painful reappraisal during this period," writes Garrison.
Clay Shaw was brought to trial on January 29, 1969. It took less than one month for Garrison to present his case. Demonstrating the cover-up was the easy part. Although the overwhelming majority of eyewitnesses in Dealy Plaza testified that the fatal shot came not from the Texas School Book Depository --where Oswald worked --but from a grassy knoll overlooking the plaza, the FBI had encouraged many witnesses to alter their testimony to fit the 'lone nut' theory. Those that didn't were simply ignored by the commission. The ballistic evidence was flawed and obviously tampered with. Even though the FBI had received several warnings of the assassination, they had ignored them.
Security for the President was strangely lax. Although Oswald's killer, Jack Ruby, had ties to the CIA and the Mafia, this evidence had been suppressed. Ruby was never allowed to testify before the commission, and when interviewed in a Texas jail by Chief Justice Warren and Gerald Ford, he told them: "I would like to request that I go to Washington... I want to tell the truth, and I can't tell it here... Gentlemen, my life is in danger." Ruby never made it to Washington. He remained in jail and died mysteriously before Garrison could call him as a witness.
Even more disturbing was the treatment given the deceased President's corpse. Under Texas law, an autopsy should have been performed by a civilian pathologist in Dallas. Instead, the body was removed at gunpoint by the Secret Service and flown to a naval hospital in Maryland, where an incomplete autopsy was performed under the supervision of unnamed admirals and generals. The notes from this "autopsy" were quickly burned. Bullet holes were never tracked, the brain was not dissected, and organs were not removed.
The autopsy was a botched, tainted affair, performed under military supervision. (The medical aspects of the case were so weird, they would later form the basis for a best-selling book on the assassination, Best Evidence by David Lifton [Macmillan, New York].)
The most important and lasting piece of evidence unveiled by Garrison was an 8mm film of the assassination taken by Abraham Zapruder, a film that only three members of the Warren Commission had seen, probably because it cast a long shadow of doubt across their conclusions. A good analysis of the film can be found in Cover-Up by J. Gary Shaw with Larry Harris:
Had the Zapruder film of the JFK assassination been shown on national television Friday evening, November 22, 1963, the Oswald/lone assassin fabrication would have been unacceptable to a majority of Americans... The car proceeds down Elm and briefly disappears behind a sign. When it emerges the President has obviously been shot... Governor Connally turns completely to the right, looking into the back seat; he begins to turn back when his body stiffens on impact of a bullet. Very shortly after Connally is hit, the President's head explodes in a shower of blood and brain matter -- he is driven violently backward at a speed estimated at 80-100 feet per second.
Although Time, Inc. could have made a small fortune distributing this film around the world, they instead secured the rights from Zapruder for $225,000, then held a few private screenings before locking the film in a vault. It was shown to one newsman, Dan Rather, who then described it on national television. Rather asserted that Kennedy's head went "forward with considerable force" after the fatal head shot (a statement that would have supported a hit from behind, from the direction of the School Book Depository). Several months later, Rather was promoted to White House Correspondent by CBS. As if to buttress this fabrication, the FBI reversed the order of the frames when printing them in the Warren Report. When researchers later drew this reversal to the FBI's attention, Hoover attributed the switch to a "printing error."
Although Garrison proved his conspiracy, the jury was not convinced of Clay Shaw's role in it. He was released after only two hours of deliberation.
The end of the Clay Shaw trial was just the beginning of a long nightmare for Garrison. On June 30, 1971, he was arrested by federal agents on corruption charges. Two years later, the case came to trial at the height of Garrison's reelection campaign. Although he won the case, he lost the election by 2,000 votes. However, the Jolly Green Giant remains widely respected in his home state, and has recently been elected to his second term on the second highest court in Louisiana.
In 1967, the machinations of the CIA were unknown to most Americans. Today, thankfully, many brave men have left their comfortable careers in the agency and spoken out against CIA-sponsored terror around the world. One of these is Victor Marchetti, who was executive assistant to Director Richard Helms, and then coauthored The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence with John D. Marks. In 1975 Marchetti confirmed that Clay Shaw and David Ferrie had been CIA operatives, and that the agency had secretly worked for Shaw's defense.
Over the years, many high-ranking officials have come forward to support Garrison's theory. "The big story in the Kennedy assassination is the cover-up," says retired Colonel L. Fletcher Prouty, Chief of Special Operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff until 1964. Prouty was on assignment in New Zealand on the day of the assassination. After carrying a New Zealand newspaper article back to Washington, he checked the time of Oswald's arrest against the hour the paper had been printed and, with great horror, realized Oswald's biography had gone out on the international newswire before Oswald had been arrested by the Dallas police. Prouty has since become one of the most persuasive and persistent critics of the Warren Commission. His book, The Secret Team: The CIA and its Allies in Control of the United States and the World, is a frightening portrayal of the hidden rulers of America.
On March 6, 1975, the Zapruder film made its national-television debut on ABC's Goodnight America. As a result of this long-delayed national screening, enough public pressure was put on Congress to reopen the case. Unfortunately, this investigation became as carefully-manipulated as the Warren Commission, eventually falling under the control of G. Robert Blakey, a man with close ties to the CIA. As could be expected, Blakey led the investigation away from the CIA and towards the Mob. Blakey's conclusion was that President Kennedy was killed as the result of a conspiracy, and that organized crime had the means, method and motive. "The Garrison investigation was a fraud," said Blakey. Richard Billings, the former Life editor, was a prominent member of Blakey's staff.
Recently, however, a number of highly-detailed books on the assassination have appeared, most of which support Garrison's thesis rather than Blakey's. The best of these include Conspiracy by Anthony Summers (Paragon House, New York), Crossfire by Jim Marrs (Carroll & Graf, Inc., New York) and High Treason by Robert Groden and Harrison Livingstone (Berkeley, New York).
"Could the Mafia have whisked Kennedy's body past the Texas authorities and got it aboard Air Force One?" writes Garrison. "Could the Mafia have placed in charge of the President's autopsy an army general who was not a physician? Could the Mafia have arranged for President Kennedy's brain to disappear from the National Archives?"
Today, we know that the CIA frequently hired Mafia assassins to carry out contracts. Undoubtedly some of these men were involved in the assassination and the cover-up. Shortly before his disappearance, Teamster boss Jimmy Hoffa said, "Jim Garrison's a smart man. Anyone who thinks he's a kook is a kook himself." Was Hoffa silenced because he knew too much about the plot? Just before their scheduled appearances before the House investigation, Johnny Roselli and Sam Giancana were brutally murdered in gangland fashion. Was this a message to other Mob figures who had fragmentary information on the case?
In July 1988, The Nation published an FBI memorandum from Hoover dated November 29, 1963. Obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, the memo implicated "George Bush of the CIA" in the Kennedy assassination cover-up. Although President Bush denies any contact with the CIA prior to his being named director in 1976, it is reasonable to assume that Zapata, the oil company Bush founded in 1960, was a CIA front.
Former President Richard Nixon is also implicated in the cover-up. Nixon was in Dallas the day before the assassination, and his greatest fear during the early days of Watergate was that the "Bay of Pigs thing" would be uncovered. According to H.R. Haldeman in The Ends of Power, "Bay of Pigs" was Nixon's code phrase for the Kennedy assassination.
As liaison between the CIA and the Pentagon during the Bay of Pigs, Fletcher Prouty was put in charge of ordering supplies for the invasion. "The CIA had code-named the invasion - Zapata,'" recalls Prouty. "Two boats landed on the shores of Cuba. One was named Houston, the other Barbara. They were Navy ships that had been repainted with new names. I have no idea where the new names came from."
At the time Bush was living in Houston. His oil company was called Zapata, and his wife's name was Barbara.
If Garrison's investigation was not a fraud, it's reasonable to assume that high-placed individuals in the conspiracy would either be dead or would have obtained considerable power in the last 28 years. According to an article in the March 4 issue of U.S. News and World Report, Nixon and Bush have remained close associates.
"Nixon is in contact with Bush or his senior staff every month," writes Kenneth Walsh. "Nixon also speaks regularly on the phone with [National Security Adviser] Brent Scowcroft... and Chief of Staff John Sununu."
Earlier this year Len Colodny and Robert Gettlin published Silent Coup, a well-documented analysis of the real forces behind the Watergate scandal. According to the authors, Nixon fell prey to a military coup after refusing to work with the Pentagon. They claim the famous Deep Throat was, in fact, General Alexander Haig.
In the meantime, a well-orchestrated disinformation campaign against Oliver Stone's movie has predictably appeared, long before Stone could even begin editing his film. Longtime Kennedy researchers were not surprised to find the charge led by George Lardner, Jr., of the Washington Post, the last man to see David Ferrie alive.
"Oliver Stone is chasing fiction," wrote Lardner in the May 19 edition of the Post. "Garrison's investigation was a fraud." Later in the article, he adds: "There was no abrupt change in Vietnam policy after JFK's death."
"That is one of the most preposterous things I've ever heard," says Zachary Sklar, editor of On The Trail of the Assassins, and coscreenwriter with Stone on JFK. "Kennedy was trying to get out of Vietnam, and Johnson led us into a war in which 58,000 Americans died. Lardner's article is a travesty."
"I wouldn't give Lardner the time of day," adds Gary Shaw. "I think he's bought and paid for."
Mark Lane, author of Rush to Judgment, one of the first books critical of the Warren Commission, agrees. "The CIA is bringing out the spooks who pose as journalists," says Lane. "The amazing thing about the Lardner piece is he's reviewing the film months before it's even completed."
Time magazine also slammed the film long before its release. "Garrison is considered somewhere near the far-out fringe of conspiracy theories," writes Richard Zoglin, a film critic who admits to knowing "very little" about the assassination. (For the 25th anniversary of the assassination back in '88, Time ran a cover story titled "Who Was the Real Target?" Inside was an excerpt from The Great Expectations of John Connally, a curious book that argued that Oswald really meant to kill Connally and only hit JFK by mistake. Someday this book may be viewed as a textbook example of CIA-sponsored disinformation.)
Time, Inc., it will be remembered, is the same company that hid the Zapruder film for five years. When High Times requested slides from the film to accompany this article, the current copyright holder sent them a three-page contract to sign. It included a prohibition against "any reference... that the Zapruder film was ever owned by Time, Inc...." High Times decided not to run the photos rather than assist Time, Inc. in their continuing cover-up of the real facts behind John F. Kennedy's assassination.
In the next few months, the American people will be bombarded with information about the Kennedy assassination. Most of it will be critical of Stone and Garrison. It's important to understand that much of this criticism will be written by intelligence assets working for the CIA. Although the Cold War is supposed to be over, the CIA budget is at an all-time high; $30 billion of taxpayer's money buys a lot of propaganda.
How extensive is the CIA's infiltration of the national media? I called former agent Ralph McGeehee, author of Deadly Deceits, who has compiled a database on everything published about the agency. "In 1977, Carl Bernstein wrote an article in Rolling Stone that named over 400 journalists uncovered by the Church Committee who were working for the CIA," says McGeehee. If anything, their numbers have only increased in the last 12 years.
When will the subversion of the national media end? When the American people demand it. Unfortunately, the public has not flexed any muscle in this country since they ended the war in Vietnam. If you want to help bring justice in this case, there's plenty you can do:
1) Assist the Assassinations Archives in Washington in their quest to obtain the documentation on the Kennedy case that remains sealed to the public.
2) For more information Subscribe to Covert Action Information Bulletin, a national newsletter on covert CIA activities. For more information call (202) 331-9763. If you want more detailed information on the CIA, McGehee's database can be purchased for $99. For more information call him at (707) 437-8487.
3) Write your representatives in Congress. Tell them you want a law passed prohibiting journalists from working for the CIA. Although such a bill has been proposed many times, it never makes its way out of committee.
Finally, stop accepting everything you hear on TV and read in the newspapers. Buy books on the assassination and cover-up and educate yourself. Only in this way can we keep hope alive that one day America will be the sweet land of liberty her founders intended.
(Lancer note: these phone numbers may not be
current as this article was written a few years ago.)
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