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CONVERSATIONS WITH PERRY

by William Matson Law

 

"Perry Russo is a unique character because of his individuality.
I don't think the man would lie if you put
burning irons on his hands.
He's one of the most remarkable young men I have known."

- Jim Garrison

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What it does do is make his position of defending Lee Oswald very, very strong. You know-- the bullet, the gun, the paraffin test that was performed and so on. We've seen a couple of TV Productions over the years: The Trial of Lee Harvey Oswald--what would the jury rule? We've seen one that ruled him guilty and we've seen another one that doesn't rule at all and they leave it up to the audience and with the preponderance of the evidence; which, in a criminal cases, doesn't work. See, that's what preponderance of the evidence makes you think he's guilty but the preponderance of evidence is a civil law term." "Do you understand", Perry asked me. "Yes", I told him. "O.K., if you can produce enough witnesses that say you had a green light and I say Perry had a red light and that I ran through the red light; that's preponderance." He went on, "Will has twenty witnesses and I have five, therefore the jury will rule well, of course, Will has the green light and Perry has the red light so Perry is at fault. But in criminal cases, it has nothing to do with that. You have the reliability of the individual or the witnesses or of the evidence and so, in that instance, the 26 volumes of the Warren Report, 99% of every page is of no use. A few pages of each volume would still be evidence".

"If you have 500 pages to a volume, I suppose 10 to 15 pages would be worthwhile as evidence in a criminal matter. It would be much evidence for a case", Russo said. "You could bring in all the letters you wanted", he said of Lee Oswald when he was in the Soviet Union. "It has nothing to do with this particular case. If it were an analysis of him in the Marine Corps, it has nothing to do with this particular case." I said to Russo, "Garrison is the one, to my understanding, that brought about Ferrie and Guy Bannister and things like that." Perry said, "yes, he did."

"You see all these things", Perry said, "and then you begin to say well, maybe Oswald should be taken at what he said. Here's some other suspicious things that happened in Dallas." Perry said, "Oswald is interrogated, is arrested and the he won't talk to anyone." "He said, "I want to see the Special Agent in charge of the FBI." I can't think of the guy's name now, but let me tell you something", Perry said to me, "I don't even know an FBI agent, do you know one? Where you are?" "An FBI agent?", I said startled, I was so used to Perry's torrent of words coming at me that I was surprised he had stopped to ask me a question. "No", I said "No", Perry said. "Here's a guy who's arrested for shooting the fucking President of the United States in 1963 and the FBI was a lot more secretive that it is today. We didn't have television like we do now. I don't know of any FBI agents, but he does. He asked for one; he won't talk to anyone else but him and that FBI agent shows up for the fight Oswald had in New Orleans and he shows up in Dallas when he's arrested. He does the same thing he does in New Orleans. He interviews Oswald for 45 minutes and then he burns his notes. What kind of FBI work is this?"

"Now here's another one", Perry went on. The autopsy performed by Dr. Humes, is that his name?" I said, "Yes." "He burned his notes. What the fuck is going on here?" I had to agree with Perry on that. "You say, why the fuck would you do these kinds of things? So we know they fucked it up? You're not dealing with an ordinary malcontent. Oswald is a special person, a person who probably spied for the United States in the Soviet Union. A person who did Basic Training at Osaka, Japan which is not Fort Jennings. This was not Paris Island in South Carolina; He did Basic Training in Japan. That's a spy school. That was where the U-2's took off and over flew Russia and then would land on the other side of the globe." "Now I know", Perry said, "when I was in high school; I'm 53 years old (in 1993) we were given questionnaires, Would you like to work for the Government? Would you like to do Intelligence Work? Would you like to do Analytic Work? Work for the FBI? And, so on. They asked the same questions in college. Would you like to join the CIA or would you like a field in this or that. So Oswald's doing his Basic in Japan. So you think he's a spy but we're dealing with a special (emphasis on Special) person here." "Special, why?", Russo asked a rhetorical question. "I don't know. His whole background indicates something is not what it appears to be." "That's what I get from studying it", I was able to interject before Perry went on. Yeah, and so", Perry said, "do we allow it to come out? Well no. In 1963, the CIA did what it wanted to do. It didn't care if it, oh, wanted to take down a government, it tried to do it. If it wanted to assassinate Castro, it tried to do that."

"The [Salvador] Allende thing", Perry said, "by President Nixon, a very great move. That's the way you do things; that's the way the world rotates" "Why do we have to play nice guy now?", Russo asked. "Allende was elected in Chili in 1972 or 1973 and that's terrible. That's another launch at the regime. That, coupled with Cuba and that coupled with the potential of Nicaragua, we had the fucking Communist Reign. So Nixon orders the CIA to destabilize Chili so they go down there and formalize a counter-revolution. Everyone is excited and we're paying for the fucking insurrection. And they got Allende in there. The CIA Station Chief walks in and tells everyone to get the fuck out." Perry said again. "those fucking liberals and left-wingers and fucking fools." At this point I was choking back a response to this statement as, I guess, I consider myself to be a liberal and a left-winger, but I reminded myself that this was supposed to be an interview - not a political debater--at least no on my side. "The world thinks Nixon such a bad person. That's leadership there". "Yeah", Perry said in all seriousness; that's great fucking leadership. And so, you know, we're left with that situation."

I then turned the subject to the death of David Ferrie. I asked, "did you know about his death immediately?"

"Well", Russo said, "I knew about it. It was in the newspaper in Baton Rogue on a Thursday I think" Perry replied. "When I went down to see Garrison on a Friday or Saturday, whatever, I went and told him at that time that Ferrie had, in fact, told me some years or months before that he said, #1 - we were talking about law and protocol in Court Rooms. He knew a lot about a lot of subjects. He was well read and well thought through and he said this and it was dramatic because he used on word that coupled it to his own death."

He said, "Did you want to pull off the perfect murder?" I said, "How would that be, Dave?" He said, "Well, you would need - he had a tendency to get a chalkboard or piece of paper and he began to write down these chemical equations which I don't know if they were accurate or truthful or not--C-6, H-12, you know, and all these other letters and I don't know if they even work. He said, "Now get this. What this does is you either ingest or inject it." He says, "if you ingest it over a period of time, it does damage and if you inject it, it will do it rather quickly. He said the person then dies and he says the chemicals will break down in the system. He says, "What does he die of?" "He dies of an aneurysm in the brain." I said, "what is an aneurysm, Dave?"

And Dave said, "That's where you have an artery and it explodes and fills the brain. It's weak wall in the artery. It causes the weak wall. I said it would show up in the autopsy. He (Dave) said, "No, after 72 hours, the chemical will have broken down and it would appear to be normal unless you have it injected and they would find a hole for an injection" "If it was ingested", he said, "it would come out as an aneurysm. And he says the person would look like he dies of natural causes." I said to Russo, "isn't that something." "On his death certificate", Perry said, "died of stroke brought on by aneurysm of the brain.

" Flooding the brain, the cranial wall, you know, the chamber" "His death", I asked Russo, "happened not long before it hit the papers that he was involved in the Garrison Case, right?" "Yeah", Russo said, "and so Garrison then quickly called Dr. Cheda, who was a Coroner and asked for a second autopsy. They went through elaborate toxicology tests that were state of the art in 1963. Not exactly the state of the art in 1993", Perry said. "So they did another autopsy. And it didn't show anything. So officially, he dies of natural causes. The movie, "JFK", plays the fact that he was murdered as a possibility. It was a possibility. The same one that someone forced him to take this; that they forced this stuff into his system. "He left a typed suicide note", Perry continued, "because it wasn't signed. Perry said, "I could type it right up right there on his typewriter". I told Russo, "I'm in the midst of trying to get some of the stuff (files) on Ferrie and the Garrison Case". Perry said to me "I have access to Garrison's files through his family--his personal files of his thing and if I knew in advance when you were coming and also the addresses of those you know of my background--so if you were to plan to come and bring a video camera and some sound equipment, we could talk." I said, "I am planning to get down there."

"Perry said to me, "we can work something out." Sadly, it never happened. I called Perry again in 1995 when I was finally ready to make the trip to New Orleans for what I had hoped to be a full-blown taped interview. And, with Perry's help, a chance to meet some of Jim Garrison's family and, of course, access to the Garrison files. When I called Perry and reminded him of our previous conversation, "Oh, William, yeah", he said, "listen I haven't been feeling too well; give me a few days, will you?" I promised to call him back. I waited too long. I heard of Perry's death through another JFK researcher and sure enough, when I called Perry's number, it had been disconnected. He must have passed away shortly after I last talked to him. Was Perry Russo telling the truth when he said he was at a party where he, Clay Shaw, David Ferrie and some anti-Castro Cubans discussed on how to kill Castro and then the conversation turned on how to kill Kennedy? No one will ever know for sure but sitting here in 1998 listening to Perry on the tapes saying, "why didn't you run out of the building and tell somebody they're going to kill Kennedy? Because those people thrilled me when they talked." It sends a chill up my back, just as it did in 1993.


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