Monday, 15 April 1996 18:38

Case Distorted: Posner, Connick, and the New York Times

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Bill Davy rebuts the New York Times article by Gerald Posner claiming that the Garrison files reveal his case against Shaw to be a fraud.

From the March-April, 1996 issue (Vol. 3 No. 3) of Probe

When the New York Times published Gerald Posner's article entitled, "GARRISON GUILTY: Another Case Closed" (New York Times Magazine, August 6, 1995), they managed to convict a second person without benefit of a trial-the first being Lee Harvey Oswald, whose guilt the Times has trumpeted over the years by virtue of its unwavering support of the Warren Report. The Times certainly picked the right person for the job of ferreting out contradictions in the late Jim Garrison's files. Posner's book, Case Closed, is rife with contradictions, sloppy research, and distortions. What is surprising is that the Times found all of this newsworthy. The contradictions found in the files of the Warren Commission and the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) would fill volumes. Where were the Times and Posner when the HSCA released their files in 1993? Had they been at the National Archives they would have found suppressed evidence supporting the Garrison case. Was Posner too busy at the time to examine these files? Apparently he now has more time on his hands to allow him to first attend the Assassination Records and Review Board hearings in New Orleans and then to examine Garrison's files.

The $64,000 Question

Why was Posner allowed access to these files? New Orleans District Attorney, Harry Connick, is on record as stating only representatives of the government would be allowed to review these records. Does Posner qualify under this criteria? According to his article, Posner was personally invited by Connick to review the files. [For more on Connick's role in this affair, see Probe Vol. 2, No. 5].

It is difficult to comment on the specific allegations that Posner raises without benefit of actually seeing the files. However, it is possible to rebut some of the most egregious distortions. First it might be instructive to look at what Posner claims he examined.

Tracking the Garrison Files

In 1978 two investigators from the HSCA were dispatched to Connick's office to inventory the Garrison files. It took the HSCA staffers four days to inventory the five-drawer file cabinet. The inventory list itself is 23 pages long. Assuming Posner did not graduate Summa Cum Laude from Evelyn Wood, did he have enough time to adequately review all of the files? Even if he did, the Connick files represent only a small portion of the entire Garrison probe output. The Garrison family had approximately a dozen boxes of the late DA's files. (These were turned over to the ARRB). Garrison himself submitted hundreds of pages of documents to the HSCA in the late 1970's (available at the National Archives since 1993). Additional Garrison materials fill several file cabinets at the Assassination Archives and Research Center in Washington, D.C. The Georgetown University Library is home to the Richard Billings Papers, yet another vast collection of Garrison work product. This, combined with the 3,000+ page transcript of the Clay Shaw trial and the newly found Grand Jury testimony, amounts to an avalanche of investigative materials. Did Posner examine all of the above mentioned materials in order to put the Connick files in the proper context? Doubtful.

The Posner Spin

Posner begins his article by confidently informing the reader that "on the eve of the public release of some of Garrison's files, it is finally possible to settle whether the case against Shaw was a fraud." Consider what Posner is saying here. He can finally settle the case by looking at some of the files. One wonders if he employed this same methodology while writing Case Closed.

Continuing with the article, we are told:

Garrison persisted in following leads even when they were quickly discredited: that an eccentric homosexual, David Ferrie, taught Oswald how to shoot and had visited Texas on the evening of the assassination; and that Oswald, together with some flamboyant homosexuals, had visited a local attorney, Dean Andrews, who claimed his legal bill was paid by a man known only as "Clay Bertrand." Using these assertions, Garrison soon said the plot to kill the President was "a homosexual thrill-killing." (He claimed that Oswald was a "switch-hitter" and that Jack Ruby was gay.

Assertions? It is now a documented fact that Oswald was in Ferrie's Civil Air Patrol unit. A photograph showing the two at a CAP barbecue was presented during a PBS documentary [Frontline 11/16/93, "Who Was Lee Harvey Oswald?"] Furthermore, Ferrie would occasionally drill his cadets in the use of firearms. It is a matter of public record that Ferrie visited Texas on the evening of the assassination. Ferrie, himself, admitted this. Oswald's visits to attorney Dean Andrews' office are not taken from Garrison, but rather from Andrews' sworn testimony before the Warren Commission. The bit of business about the plot being a "homosexual thrill-killing" is from an article by James Phelan supposedly quoting Garrison. Readers of Probe will recall that Phelan has some credibility problems. I don't doubt that Garrison suspected Oswald was a "switch-hitter." Given his association with aggressive homosexuals like Clay Shaw and David Ferrie, one would have to at least consider the hypothesis. Norman Mailer certainly gave it serious consideration in Oswald's Tale. There also appears to be indications that Ruby was indeed gay, but so what.


The full article from Probe

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Last modified on Monday, 12 June 2017 21:46
William Davy

Bill Davy has been writing and researching the JFK case, with an emphasis on the Jim Garrison inquiry, since the early 1990s.  He became a contributor to Probe Magazine and then did a monograph on Clay Shaw.  That long essay turned into his fine book, Let Justice Be Done: New Light on the Jim Garrison Investigation.  Thereafter he continued to write essays and reviews for CTKA, and has also spoken at various conferences on the JFK case.

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