Garrison   Kennedy

A Farewell To Justice
Jim Garrison, JFK's assassination, and the case that should have changed history

 a book by Joan Mellen

Patomac Books, 2007, paperback

The release in the 1990s of thousands of documents, most from the CIA and FBI, has established the truth of Garrison's lone cry in the wilderness. To the moment of his death in 1992, Garrison was persuaded that the CIA, the same team that had overthrown President Arbenz of Guatemala in 1954, among them Lawrence Hon, Richard Helms and David Atlee Phillips, had planned the assassination, and then, with the assistance of the FBI, attempted to cover its tracks, not always successfully. Kerry Thornley, the Marine Corps buddy of Lee Harvey Oswald, who told the Warren Commission that Oswald was a Marxist, turned out himself to have been a CIA employee trained, according to a CIA document, in Washington, D.C., in chemical and biological warfare.

Garrison's chief suspect, Clay Shaw, was a CIA operative, who, as a director of the Centro Mondiale Commerciale in Rome, joined fellow agents, like Ferenc Nagy, who since 1948 had worked for the CIA under the direction of Assistant Director of Central Intelligence, Frank Wisner. Despite his denials, Shaw knew Oswald's mentor David Ferrie so well that he cosigned a loan for him a week before the assassination so that Ferrie could rent a plane and fly to Dallas. When Ferrie denied he had been in Dallas for eight to ten years, the FBI turned a blind eye to his well-documented acquaintance with Oswald. Ferrie was never called before the Warren Commission.

Oswald not only was set up as a scapegoat, but there were alternative scapegoats trained should he not fulfill the job, among them Thomas Edward Beckham, whom the CIA protected in Omaha. As for Oswald, not only was he an FBI informant and a CIA employee working for Counter Intelligence, but he was also an operative for United States Customs, a dual role shared by customs officers in Miami.

Interviewing over a thousand people, I was able to demonstrate the specifics of how the FBI and CIA, led by National Security Agency, FBI and CIA veteran Walter Sheridan, attempted to destroy Garrison's effort, not least by bribing his witnesses.

The decades-long campaign to silence Jim Garrison included the participation even of "Deep Throat" himself. Hardly interested in the "truth," as those who laud him for providing guidance to Bob Woodward suggest, Mark Felt on the matter of the Kennedy assassination is revealed in documents to have been an open enemy of free inquiry, no less than a convicted felon specializing in FBI "black-bag jobs.

[CIA] Involvement in President Kennedy's assassination has been an open secret for these forty years. The mainstream media have persisted in granting credence to the by now thoroughly discredited Warren Commission Report, a document based on a scant and arbitrary pseudoinvestigation, in actuality on no investigation at all.

On the fortieth anniversary [November 1983] of John F. Kennedy's death [November 1963], a Gallup poll recorded that twice as many people believed that the CIA had masterminded the assassination as were persuaded that Lee Harvey Oswald, a man without a motive, had acted alone in the dastardly deed.

Among the CIA's schemes to kill Castro under OPERATION MONGOOSE was a plan concocted by Desmond Fitzgerald, chief of the Cuban Task Force, who was encouraged by Robert Kennedy to effect the assassination of Fidel Castro, already a CIA project.

OPERATION MONGOOSE [was] the CIA's project to assassinate Fidel Castro.

President John Kennedy

I've got to do something about those CIA bastards.

The historical record corroborates Richard Case Nagell's view that the CIA hated Kennedy most "for planning to curb activities of spook outfits, especially CIA." Reading an April 1966 New York Times article, "C.I.A.: Maker of Policy, or Tool?" Jim Garrison also registered Kennedy's profound warfare with the Agency. He circled the paragraph where Kennedy was quoted by an insider as threatening to "splinter the C.I.A. in a thousand pieces and scatter it to the wind." He also marked a sentence where Kennedy countermanded President Eisenhower, who had exempted the CIA from control by American ambassadors abroad. Kennedy reversed that, putting the ambassadors in control.

By the end of 1966, [Jim] Garrison was persuaded that Kennedy was murdered as a result of his struggle with the CIA, and, behind it, the Pentagon's "war machine," which was determined to have its ground war, if not in Cuba, then elsewhere. A month after Kennedy's death, former president Harry Truman expressed on the front page of the Washington Post his dismay that the CIA he created had been running a shadow government, becoming "operational." Truman declared that the CIA was "in urgent need of correction." (Brazenly, Allen Dulles had even told a reporter to think of the CIA as "the State Department for unfriendly countries").

New York Times columnist Arthur Krock had warned of CIA malfeasance two months earlier. The CIA, Krock wrote, was a 'malignancy" on the body politic. With startling prescience, in October of 1963, Krock in his outrage all but predicted the Kennedy assassination. If the United States ever experiences an attempted coup, Krock wrote, "It will come from the C.I.A. and not the Pentagon." Between Kennedy and the CIA there was now raging "an intra-administration war," with the CIA serving the needs of the military and those corporations that stood most to gain from a ground war.

Liberal journalist Walter Lippmann could not help but note that the CIA was bursting the bounds of its mandate. Forty years later, historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr., a Kennedy adviser, would remark quietly to Jim Garrison's old classmate Wilmer Thomas that they had been at war with "the National Security people." That the CIA exacted its revenge on Kennedy has been an open secret since 1963.

After the CIA in 1954 had overthrown President Arbenz in Guatemala, its first "solo flight" as a policy-maker, President Eisenhower recognized that the Agency was dangerously out of control. He established a "President's Board of Consultants on Foreign Intelligence Activities." Its conclusion was that the CIA's clandestine services were "operating for the most part on an autonomous and free-wheeling basis in highly critical areas," in direct conflict with State Department policy; its recommendation was that Eisenhower fire Allen Dulles, or at the very least force him to accept an administrative deputy. Eisenhower's reward was that the clandestine services, then run by Richard Bissell, former assistant of Frank Wisner, sabotaged the May 1, 1960 foray of the U-2 flown by Francis Gary Powers. The U-2 fleet had been dubbed "RBAF," which stood for "Richard Bissell's Air Force," one more indication of CIA arrogance. The Agency lied directly to Eisenhower, insisting that should the plane be shot down, neither the aircraft nor the pilot would survive. So Bissell would lie to John F. Kennedy and insist that "failure was almost impossible" at the Bay of Pigs.

Despite Eisenhower's reluctance, the CIA insisted upon a flight close to the time of Eisenhower's scheduled May 16th summit with Khrushchev, de Gaulle and Macmillan, arguing, with no discernible evidence, that this last flight was urgent. Years later, the CIA would admit in hearings before the Senate that this flight wasn't particularly necessary at all. The issue of CIA malfeasance in the failure of Powers' mission was not even raised.

Eisenhower, reluctantly, had declared that the cut-off date for U-2 flights was May 1st, assuming that meant the CIA would organize the flight during the last two weeks of April. But it was on May 1 that Francis Gary Powers was sent aloft. In insisting on that one additional overflight, Bissell succeeded in making policy, which meant destroying detente and with it Eisenhower's desire to cut the country's defense budget. Rapprochement with the Soviet Union meant for Eisenhower a subsequent redirecting of the country's resources to its domestic needs. This was not to be.

Powers' mission seems to have been doomed. Both the circumstantial and the direct evidence that Powers' flight was interfered with by those in charge are overwhelming. "Powers came down because his aircraft was fixed to fail," stated retired Air Force Colonel L. Fletcher Prouty, who was in charge of providing military support for the clandestine services, and whose data should not be disregarded because of his speculations about a "secret team." Powers' flight was made to fail by a shortage of the proper fuel, Prouty concluded. Prouty was also alarmed that the flight violated standard procedure. Powers was laden with identification, not least a Department of Defense identification card. The U-2 itself bore identifying marks, violating a National Security Council edict. Whereas Powers should have been bearing no identity, he was possessed of enough for the Soviets promptly to announce that he was a "spy" from the United States. "That is why Powers survived and why they landed in good shape," Prouty reasoned. "They' equals Powers and the U-2."

Other evidence suggests that the CIA deliberately routed Powers into the path of nests of Soviet missiles it knew could shoot him down if he was flying too low. That Powers' top secret camera had been removed suggested that someone knew this plane was not coming home. It was a catastrophe timed to thwart the May 16th summit with Premier Khrushchev that Eisenhower hoped would cap his presidency.

Seizing the high road, Khrushchev immediately demanded that Eisenhower admit he had no knowledge of the flight and fire Dulles and Bissell. The CIA had forced Eisenhower's hand, realizing that he "could not honestly say that he didn't know what was going on," Prouty writes in The Secret Team. "At the same time he had to announce to the world that he had known about the flight." "The White House and the other agencies did not so much approve the flights as hold a veto power over them," David Wise and Thomas B. Ross write in their very cautious little book, The U-2 Affair When Eisenhower in his much-quoted farewell address warned of the dangers of the military-industrial complex, Prouty speculates, he had in mind his own Political sabotage at the hands of the CIA in the U-2 fiasco. During the summit that failed, a trigger-happy Pentagon man even put the U.o military on alert for ten hours, fanning the flames of Cold War belligerence Eisenhower had intended the summit to defuse.

Within a month of Kennedy's inauguration, the CIA had ... defied him, meeting on February 16, 1961, without his knowledge, with assassins planning the murder of President Trujillo in the Dominican Republic. Kennedy's policy was that the United States should not initiate the overthrow of Trujillo, at least not before we knew what government would succeed him. Concealing its actions from the president and defying his expressed wishes, the CIA went ahead anyway. It had attempted the assassination of Patrice Lumumba in the Congo without clearing the idea with Eisenhower, and saw no reason to relinquish its power to the new young president. A CIA cable on the Trujillo assassination reads: "This matter is not to be discussed with State Department."

Four months into his presidency, John Kennedy, whom onetime CIA asset Gerald Patrick Hemming calls "the last President to believe he could take power," refused to submit to CIA blackmail and commit land troops to Brigade 2506 about to land at the Bay of Pigs [Cuba]. He cut short the expected air cover.

President Dwight Eisenhower

Any person who doesn't clearly understand that national security and national solvency are mutually dependent and that permanent maintenance of a crushing weight of military power would eventually produce dictatorship should not be entrusted with any kind of responsibility in our country.

After Brigade 2506's inevitable defeat [Bay of Pigs] and Kennedy's refusal to be blackmailed into invading Cuba, he fired [CIA Director] Allen Dulles, which also meant the departure of his subordinate, General Charles Cabell, whose brother, Jim Garrison would often note, was mayor of Dallas at the moment Kennedy was murdered.

John F. Kennedy set himself on a course of eviscerating the power of the CIA. He began to cut away at its operational jurisdiction. He reevaluated the CIA budget and the Agency's financial autonomy. As Norman Polmar points out in Spyplane, "under a law passed on June 20, 1949, the Director of Central Intelligence was designated the only U.S. government employee who could obligate federal funds without the use of vouchers."

In May of 1961, only a month after the Bay of Pigs, Kennedy formed his own "Special Group," meeting as the president's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. Its express purpose was to bring the CIA under the control of the president. "Covert action programs of the CIA may not have been worth the risk nor worth the great expenditure of manpower and money," Kennedy told the group on May 15th. CIA should continue its "intelligence gathering." He, however, was Undertaking a "total reassessment of U.S. covert action policies and programs.

President John Kennedy

I've got to do something about those CIA bastards.

It was the independence and power of the CIA that John Kennedy fought, its undermining of his authority, and its secret alliance with the military. With one particular virulent policy, the assassination of Fidel Castro, he did not disagree, as the record amply reveals. Robert Kennedy, representing his brother before the Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, began openly to encourage the assassination of Fidel Castro.

In June 1963, President Kennedy approved "a broad economic sabotage program directed against refineries, shipping facilities and other areas of the Cuban economy."

Bobby [Kennedy] instructed ... General Edward Landsdale to send a memo to CIA's William Harvey to come up with assassination contingency plans" and to plan "concrete action against Cuba."

... Unknowingly Bobby was enlisting the CIA's murder apparatus ("executive action" capability), the very apparatus soon to be turned against his brother. So Bobby Kennedy fell into a CIA trap that would render him silent about the murder of his brother for the rest of his life. Facilitating that macabre double-cross, not yet aware that it had already been accomplished, the White House itself had requested that the CIA "create an Executive Action (assassination) capability."

... Bobby requested that the CIA at least inform him if they were to continue to use Mafia elements in the assassination attempts on Castro. The CIA ignored him and went ahead anyway. Feeling no loyalty toward Bobby, Lansdale informed the FBI and the National Security Agency that both John and Robert Kennedy were deeply involved in the schemes to kill Castro.

... Someone on his [Bobby Kennedy's] staff, whom ... he believed he could trust, was betraying him to the enemy from whom he and his brother had the most to fear, and which, in their youthful inexperience, they underestimated. This was the Central Intelligence Agency, which had been charting the Kennedy brothers' every move.

In October of 1962, as Kennedy was negotiating with Khrushchev over the missiles the Soviet Union had placed in Cuba, [David Atlee] Phillips timed raids into Cuba by the terrorist group Alpha 66. At a Washington press conference, Phillips' asset Antonio Veciana announced that Alpha 66 had just attacked a Russian ship in a Cuban harbor, and had engaged in a firefight with Russian troops. It was Eisenhower and the U-2 all over again. Kennedy fought back, and the CIA failed once more in its ongoing effort to provoke a ground war in Cuba.

In the intra-government warfare that exploded in the murder of John F. Kennedy, the president represented not a white knight for peace and brotherhood, but a different economic perspective. In Vietnam, he wanted not the ground war that would lead to a catastrophic death toll and an insupportable deficit, but the use of Special Forces, aided by an indigenous military. Castro he wanted dead not by the military invasion the CIA pressed for throughout his presidency, but by "clandestine means."

"They're going to throw our asses out of there at almost any point," Kennedy had feared, referring to Vietnam, as he signed National Security Memorandum (263) mandating the withdrawal of one thousand soldiers from Vietnam. But long before he decided against a ground war in Vietnam, Kennedy's fate had been sealed.

At the November 22, 1963, meeting of the Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board," McCone demanded that President Kennedy "try to correct the CIA's public image." McCone wanted the president himself to refute Arthur Krock's charge that the CIA functioned as a "third government in South Vietnam." The clandestine services, however, which had managed the murder of President Diem and plotted against Lumumba, had its own idea of how to deal with John F. Kennedy.

After the death of his brother, Robert Kennedy, viewing the CIA as his chief suspect, immediately confronted [CIA Director] John McCone. "Did the CIA kill my brother?" he demanded.

The Agency [CIA] [Jim]Garrison was firmly convinced, was behind the assassination [of JFK].

a former CIA accountant with "top secret" clearance named James Wilcott who knew Lee Harvey Oswald

Ruby was paid by CIA to do away with Oswald, [the plan being to] kill Kennedy, link Oswald to Castro and use this pretext to invade Cuba.

a former military affairs editor at Life [magazine] named J. Garrett Underhill, a CIA informant. "A small clique in the CIA" killed President Kennedy, he told his friends. He knew the people involved and they knew what he knew. As he prepared "to blow the whistle on the CIA," Underhill was found in bed with a bullet wound behind his left ear. The date was May 8, 1964.

The CIA maintained a "target file" of people the agency considered to be hostile. According to Chester Vigurie, who worked as a file clerk for the CIA field office in New Orleans in the late 1960s, and later as a probation officer in Jefferson Parish, "Jim Garrison and everyone connected to his probe of the JFK case were in the target file."

During Jim Garrison's investigation, Bobby Kennedy fought hard to maintain the secret of his having known about Lee Harvey Oswald in advance of the death of his brother. To ensure the possibility of his becoming president, he had, no less, to keep secret his own involvement in plots to murder Fidel Castro.

... One of the Cubans whom Garrison had targeted, and was attempting to extradite from Dallas, Sergio Arcacha Smith, knew that Bobby's people were aware of Oswald. So Bobby unleashed Walter Sheridan to ensure that his two secrets be kept: that he was attempting, independently of the CIA, the avowed enemy of his brother, to assassinate Fidel Castro and that Oswald had come to his attention...

Destroying Garrison's investigation became Bobby's obsession. He kept a dossier on Garrison...

By the summer of 1963 Bobby suspected that a plot against the life of his brother was emanating out of New Orleans, as Jim Garrison concluded two years later.

"Jim Garrison was closer to the truth about the conspiracy than anybody has ever been," agrees Donald P. Norton, the "Donald" P. Norton of Garrison's investigation and another witness Garrison did not utilize. Dr. Robert McClelland ... observed that the back of Kennedy's skull had been blown out and that he could only have been shot from the front; he concludes that the assassination was "a high level plot to kill the president by the CIA and FBI, at the upper and middle levels. A lot of people in the CIA and FBI thought their fortunes were not attached to the Kennedys." These included those corporations for whom a burgeoning national deficit was a small price to pay for the revenues that would roll in once oil, helicopters, airplanes and other war materiel went streaming toward Vietnam

Asked to speculate on the peculiar absence of CIA documents mentioning his DRE [Revolutionary Cuban Student Directorate - one of _the largest and most effective anti-Castro groups in the United States] handler, George Joannide DR military strategist Isidro Boria concludes, "The CIA had to be involved in the assassination of President Kennedy." The DRE had met with Richard Helms and sensed that the assassination issued from a faction inside the government, where it was decided that "we can't let that man remain in power." The lax security at Dallas police headquarters alone told you that.

Borja's colleague Josť Antonio Lanuza, concurs. "After a while, I thought it could be the CIA," he says. "Who can cover their rear ends so well? Castro could not. The Mafia could not. Who has a reason to kill him? Who is trying to cover up? I would say very high up in government." Oswald, Lanuza speculates, was a plant in the Soviet Union, "then deactivated, like many CIA agents and assets who keep their contacts later. Lanuza points to Watergate.

That CIA was in the murder business there is no doubt. Watergate conspirator James McCord was with the CIA's Office of Security in 1963. "When you have violated every federal statute up to and including murder," he told Martin F. Dardis, "what's breaking into a doctor's office?" a reference to the break-in of Daniel Ellsberg's psychiatrist.

Warren Commission historian Mary Ferrell reflected near the end of her life: "I had such contempt for Garrison, and now, as the years pass, he was so close and they did everything in the world to him."

The CIA's efforts in the cover-up continue. At the millennium a committee of archivists and librarians was convened by the National Archives. Its purpose was to examine some sealed records relating to the Kennedy assassination and to recommend whether they should be opened to the public. Before the group could make any determinations, they were visited by a man identifying himself as a representative of the CIA. He warned them that under no circumstances must they ever reveal to anyone what they had viewed in those documents. His visit was perceived as a threat by them all. No one talked.