Monday, 15 February 2021 18:00

Fred Litwin, On the Trail of Delusion – Part Two

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Litwin’s Follies about Pierre FInck, Shaw/Bertrand, the FBI cover-up of Clay Shaw, the lies of Kerry Thornley, and James Angleton’s Black Tape operation.

As noted at the end of Part 1, the excisions Litwin makes to whitewash David Ferrie from accusations of perjury and suspicion in the JFK case extends to key information that implicates the FBI in the JFK cover-up. In my view, what he does to exculpate Clay Shaw from any suspicion, and to eliminate his perjury, might be even worse.

To show Litwin’s plastic surgery, let us take his treatment of Shaw’s trial. One would think that if anyone were to write about that proceeding today, two things would have to be paramount in the discussion. One would be the testimony of Pierre Finck. The prosecution’s medical expert, Dr. John Nichols, had done a good job using the Zapruder film to indicate a crossfire in Dealey Plaza. In fact, this part of the case was so effective that the defense decided to call in one of the three pathologists––Dr. Finck––who performed the very questionable autopsy on President Kennedy. The author quotes Sylvia Meagher as saying that Garrison was inept and ineffective in challenging the Warren Report at Shaw’s trial. (Litwin, p. 129) Which shows how out to lunch Meagher was on the subject of anything dealing with Jim Garrison. The reason he can include that embarrassing statement by Meagher is simple: in his entire chapter on Shaw’s trial there is no mention of Finck’s testimony. I wish I was kidding. I’m not.

Finck’s testimony alone burst open the Warren Report. All one has to do to understand that is to read the reaction to his testimony in Washington. As Doug Horne and others on the ARRB revealed, Finck’s testimony was so devastating to the official story it rocked the Justice Department back on its heels. As revealed by the ARRB, the two men in the Justice Department who were supervising the disguise over Kennedy’s criminally bad autopsy were Carl Belcher and Carl Eardley. In 1966, under the direction of Attorney General Ramsey Clark, they were responding to requests by Warren Commission lawyers David Slawson and Wesley Liebeler. Those two Commission counsels requested aid in order to somehow, some way, do something to counter the mounting criticism of the Warren Report. (“How Five Investigations Got It Wrong”, Part 2) The Justice Department seemed amenable. For instance, in a photographic inventory review in that year, Belcher knew that certain autopsy pictures were missing. He got two of the pathologists and the official autopsy photographer to sign a document in which they knowingly lied about this fact. He then had his own role erased from the charade by taking his name off the document. (Horne, Inside the ARRB, Vol. 1, pp. 146-47)

Realizing what the game was, upon hearing what Finck was saying on the stand in New Orleans, Eardley hit the panic button. In the second edition of Destiny Betrayed, I spend four pages describing some of Finck’s shocking disclosures at the Shaw trial. (pp. 300-03) One of the most compelling is that the pathologists were prohibited from dissecting President Kennedy’s back wound, since they were told by one of the many military higher ups in attendance not to. Because of that failure, no one will never know if that wound transited the body, or be certain what its trajectory was through Kennedy.

According to Dr. Thornton Boswell, when Eardley heard that Finck was actually telling the truth about what happened the night of JFK’s autopsy, he was really agitated. He called another of Kennedy’s pathologists, Boswell, into his office and said, “Pierre is testifying and he’s really lousing everything up.” (DiEugenio, p. 304) The idea was to send Boswell to the Shaw trial and have him discredit Finck as “ a strange man.” Boswell actually did fly to New Orleans. When ARRB Chief Counsel Jeremy Gunn heard this testimony from Boswell, he asked: “What was the United States Department of Justice doing in relationship to a case between the district attorney of New Orleans and a resident of New Orleans?” Boswell replied that clearly, “the federal attorney was on the side of Clay Shaw against the district attorney.” (ibid) As the reader will understand by now, this crucial part of the story is missing from this book. In fact, as we shall later see, Litwin is buddies with a man, Harry Connick, who was part of the hidden political machinery that arranged it.

Connick was the US Attorney in New Orleans at the time. At Eardley’s request, Connick reserved a hotel room for Boswell. Boswell was then escorted to Connick’s office and shown Finck’s disastrous two days of testimony. The doctor spent the evening studying it, but ultimately was not called. As Gary Aguilar has said, that was probably because Finck was better qualified in forensic pathology than Boswell, and Garrison would have pointed that out with both men under oath. (DiEugenio, p. 304)


The other point that is extremely relevant about Shaw’s trial today is the provable perjuries that Shaw recited under oath. Many of these corresponded to things he said to the press in the lead up to his trial. One was that he did not use the alias of Clay or Clem Bertrand. What Litwin does to help Shaw escape from this lie would be funny if it were not painful to read.

As Bill Davy, Joan Mellen and I myself have enumerated, not only did Jim Garrison have witnesses to show Shaw was Bertrand; so did the FBI. When combined together, the number is in the teens. For Garrison, and others, the interest in this came through the issuance of the Warren Commission volumes and the testimony of New Orleans attorney Dean Andrews. Andrews said Oswald had been in his office with some gay mexicanos. The latter had been sent to him by a man named Clay Bertrand. (WC Vol. 11, p. 326) He was then called on 11/23/63 by Bertrand to go to Dallas to defend Oswald.

Hoover and the FBI used every trick in the book to make this phone call go away. Even though these have been discredited, on cue, Litwin rolls them back out. As Bill Davy showed with hospital records, Andrews was not drugged at the time of the call. (Davy, p. 52). The call was also not imaginary, since three witnesses who Andrews talked to corroborated that he had told them about it. These witnesses not only said that Andrews seemed familiar with Bertrand, but Oswald had been in his office also. (Davy, pp. 51-52) Further, Andrews could not have been so familiar about details concerning Lee and Marina Oswald unless someone had told him about them. (Sylvia Meagher, Accessories After the Fact, pp. 375-76) It is true that Andrews changed his story about his description of Bertrand, once saying he was married with four kids, but this was clearly because of the pressure the FBI had placed on him, plus the fact his life had been threatened. (Mellen, A Farewell to Justice, p. 197) Andrews relayed that threat to both Mark Lane and Anthony Summers, in addition to Garrison. (Bill Turner, “The Inquest,” Ramparts 6/67: 24; Summers, Conspiracy, p. 340; Garrison, On the Trail of the Assassins, p. 82). I don’t see how that repeated threat can be discounted. Because Andrews obviously did not.

But, beyond that, it appears the FBI was looking for Bertrand before their interview with Andrews. (Davy, p. 194) Further, in declassified FBI documents, the FBI has admitted that Shaw’s name came up in their original Kennedy inquiry back in December of 1963. That memo, written by Cartha DeLoach, said that several parties had furnished them information about Shaw at that time. (FBI Memorandum of March 2, 1967) Ricardo Davis, active in the Cuban exile community in New Orleans, told Harold Weisberg that the FBI had shown him a picture of Shaw the day after the assassination. (DiEugenio, p. 265) In a March 2, 1967 memo, the FBI admits that on February 24th, they had gotten information from two sources that Shaw is identical with Bertrand. Larry Schiller, an FBI informant on Mark Lane, told the Bureau that he had gay sources in two cities––San Francisco and New Orleans––who said that Shaw used aliases, one of them being Bertrand. (FBI memo of March 22, 1967)

Harold Weisberg wrote an unpublished book in which he stated that Andrews told him that Shaw was Bertrand. But, consistent with the death threats, he swore him to secrecy about it. This is contained in the manuscript “Mailer’s Tales of the JFK Assassination.” (see Chapter 5, p. 13, available at the Hood College Weisberg archives) What Litwin does with this information is, even for him, bracing. He writes that Joan Mellen once wrote to Weisberg and the critic did not say this nearly as clearly as he wrote in his unpublished book. (Litwin, p. 313) What Litwin does not reveal is that one sentence later, Weisberg does make it clear. (Mellen, A Farewell to Justice, p. 197; see p. 551 for the separate references) Did Litwin stop reading before that one sentence? Mellen sources this to an interview she did with Weisberg on July 27, 2000, which Litwin ignores. I have not seen this kind of Rafael Nadal topspin since the days of Gerald Posner.

But in the Kennedy case, things are always worse than you think they are. And thanks to Malcolm Blunt, we now know the depths of dreadfulness that Shaw’s legal team was steeped in. There has long been available an FBI memo of March 2, 1967, referred to above, issued the day after Shaw was arrested. But it had only been released in redacted form. The memo was from William Branigan to Bill Sullivan. It contained a brief biography of Shaw and said the Bureau had information in their files about Shaw’s sexual tendencies, including sadism and masochism. What had been redacted was the following information: Aaron Kohn knew that Shaw was Bertrand! In fact, in this unredacted version of the memo the FBI handprinted below the first paragraph that Shaw was also known as Clay Bertrand.

This is startling in more than one way. First, as mentioned previously, the memo reveals that Kohn, along with another source, had told them Shaw was Bertrand on February 24, 1967. Did Kohn know that Shaw was going to be arrested? Secondly, this reveals that Shaw’s team had to know their client was lying. Because, as anyone who knows that case understands, Kohn was an integral part of that defense. It simply is not credible that he would not inform Shaw’s attorneys, the Wegmanns and Irvin Dymond, of this key fact. Third, this shows that, as I long suspected, Kohn created the whole Clem Sehrt mythology: that a lawyer Marguerite Oswald knew was known as Bertrand. He did this in consultation with the HSCA in order to detract from the fact that he himself knew Shaw was Bertrand. (see HSCA Vol. IX, pp. 99-101)

In other words, today it is a fact that Shaw was Bertrand. The problem with the classification of the information, the lying about it, and the threats to Andrews was that Garrison could not ask Shaw the key question: Why did you call Andrews and ask him to defend Oswald? Because of this new revelation I have a question for Litwin: Did he think he was going to find this crucial information in Aaron Kohn’s files?


I am not going to go through all the perjury that Shaw committed under oath. But I want to point out another instance of the HSCA trying to conceal key information about Shaw in order to bring Garrison into question. In the HSCA Final Report, the authors vouch for the Clinton/Jackson witnesses––that is, the people who saw Oswald with Ferrie and Shaw in those two villages in the late summer of 1963 about 115 miles northwest of New Orleans. Oswald first visited two persons in the area, Edwin McGehee and Reeves Morgan. He then was seen by numerous people in line to register to vote. He was then witnessed by at least four people inside the hospital at Jackson applying for a job there. This has all been established beyond a shadow of a doubt by Garrison’s inquiry, the HSCA’s further investigation, and by private interviews done by Bill Davy, Joan Mellen and myself.

But to show what the HSCA was up to, in that same report, a couple of pages later, out of the blue, they try and question whether it was really Shaw that was seen there. (HSCA Final Report, p. 145) That report was co-authored by Dick Billings, a man Litwin trusts and freely uses in his book. Originally, the HSCA secret files were classified until 2029. The furor around Oliver Stone’s film JFK opened them in the mid-nineties. What the HSCA report does not reveal is that the identification of Shaw was quite solid. And it is hard to comprehend how the authors of the report didn’t know it. This is due to a fact that, like other important evidentiary points, the HSCA decided to classify at the time. There was an HSCA executive session interview held with one of the key witnesses to the voter registration. Sheriff John Manchester testified that he approached the driver of the car and asked him to identify himself. The driver gave Manchester his license and told him he worked for the International Trade Mart. The license corresponded to the name the driver gave Manchester, which was Clay Shaw. (HSCA Executive Session of 3/14/78)

Litwin’s pal, Hugh Aynesworth––who worked for Shaw’s lawyers for two years––understood just how credible these witnesses were. Through his plants in Garrison’s office, he had a copy of Manchester’s statement to the DA. Hugh drove up to Clinton with his partner, FBI informant Jim Phelan. (DiEugenio, pp. 244-45; Mellen, A Farewell to Justice, p. 235). They located Manchester. Litwin’s “great reporter” Mr. Aynesworth attempted to bribe the sheriff. He offered him a job as a CIA handler in Mexico for $38,000 per year, quite a ducal sum back then. That offer suggests who the “great reporter” was connected to. Manchester replied negatively in a rather terse and direct manner: “I advise you to leave the area. Otherwise I’ll cut you a new asshole.” (Mellen, p. 235)

Because the HSCA found the Clinton/Jackson incident so credible, Litwin tries to say such was not the case. Like Lambert, he has to find a way to question the picture Garrison investigator Anne Dischler found. This depicted a car in proximity to the voter registration office with the New Orleans crew in it. Like Lambert, he says it could have been used as a “powerful brainwashing tool.” (Litwin, p. 121) This is ridiculous. First, that picture had to have been taken by one of the bystanders at the time of the voter registration. Under those circumstances, how could it be termed a brainwashing tool? Second, the Clinton/Jackson witnesses did not surface for Jim Garrison. They talked about the incident previously for congressman John Rarick and publisher Ned Touchstone of The Councilor. (Mellen, A Farewell to Justice, p. 227; Davy, p. 115) Reeves Morgan who, along with his two children, was the second witness to meet Oswald, called the FBI and informed them about it right after the assassination. The reply was that the Bureau was already aware of this incident. (Davy, pp. 102-03) There was clearly an agreement from the top down in the Bureau that they would deny the episode in order not to bolster Garrison and continue to hide their own negligence. But today there is little doubt that this guilty Bureau knowledge is how Oswald’s application at the hospital rather quickly disappeared. And we have this now from people in the FBI. (Mellen, A Farewell to Justice, pp. 232-34). No less than four people saw Oswald inside the hospital, directed him to the personnel office, saw him inside the office, and actually saw the employment application he filled out. (DiEugenio, p. 93)

But for me, the capper that certifies this strange but powerful episode is this: Oswald knew the names of at least one, and more likely two, of the doctors who worked at the Jackson State Hospital. And again, the HSCA secret files proved such was the case. When Oswald was questioned by registrar of voters Henry Palmer, Palmer asked him if he had any associates or living quarters in the area. As a result of the JFK Act, amid all the documentation released on the incident, we know that Oswald replied with two names: Malcolm Pierson and Frank Silva. When the HSCA retrieved the 1963 roster of treating physicians at the hospital, both those names were on the list. (Davy, p. 107) How could Oswald have known this? One way would have been through Shaw’s well established relationship with CIA asset Dr. Alton Ochsner, who had a connection to the Jackson hospital. (Davy, p. 112)


As I said above, I am not going to go through the entire litany of lies that Shaw uttered in order to mislead the public prior to his trial, and the jury in his testimony under oath. If the reader is interested in that aspect, he will not find the discussion in Litwin’s book. But you will be able to find it here.

Please note that the majority of material used in that presentation was made available by the ARRB. In other words, the FBI and CIA were concealing much information which would have been valuable to Garrison. In fact, in the case of the FBI, they literally verified what Garrison was saying about both Ferrie and especially Shaw. So here is my question to Litwin: if the FBI confirmed what Garrison was investigating, then how could Garrison have been “deluded”? Was the FBI also “deluded”? Was the CIA also “deluded”? In fact, the CIA was so desperate to conceal their relationship with Shaw that they altered and destroyed much of his file. (Davy, p. 200; ARRB memo of 11/14/96 from Manuel Legaspi to Jeremy Gunn) Question: Did Litwin think he was going to find that kind of information in the files of Dick Billings or George Lardner? I think the readers can make up their own mind on that score.

But let me pose the question in a more concrete manner. As we can see from above, Jeremy Gunn was surprised by the fact the Department of Justice was interfering with a local trial conducted by a DA. The reason being that such is usually not the case. Usually, when asked, the federal authorities will do what they can to aid a local investigation. Because of the cover-up instituted by the FBI and the CIA in the Kennedy case, that did not happen here. As the reader can see from that linked PowerPoint presentation, that cover-up applied to Shaw directly.

Now, with all that in the record––which the author could not find in the papers of Irvin Dymond––here is my question to Fred: What if the circumstances had been normal? That is, what if Washington had been helping the DA instead of obstructing him? For example, consider Shaw saying he never used the alias of Bertrand. If Garrison had the FBI document referred to above and showed it to Shaw on the stand, can one imagine the reaction? Can one imagine the follow-up questions? “Mr. Shaw, would you say that Mr. Kohn has been aiding your defense?” And the follow up to that would be: “And he did so knowing you were lying?” The culminating question would have been: “Now that we know you are lying: Why did you call Andrews and tell him to go to Dallas to defend Oswald?” In this author’s measured and informed opinion, under those normal circumstances, Shaw would have been convicted. The problem with the JFK case is that the political circumstances around it make it so radioactive that it clouds the standard rules of evidence and procedure. In fact, as far as the normal rules of investigation and evidence go, the JFK case is the equivalent of the Bermuda Triangle.

My interview with Phil Dyer certifies the defendant’s knowing perjury even further. After Shaw was safe, that is after the judge had thrown out Garrison’s subsequent perjury case against Shaw––which Garrison would have likely won––Shaw met up with an interior designer he knew early one Sunday afternoon in late 1972. Dyer went along with his designer pal to meet Shaw and a female friend. Phil knew a bit about the JFK case and recalled the Shaw trial. Realizing he was out of the woods, Shaw felt free to admit what had really happened. When Phil asked him if he knew Oswald, Shaw replied yes he knew him fairly well, and he was kind of quiet around him. When asked about Oswald’s culpability, and if he could have gotten those shots off as the Warren Commission said he did, Shaw replied that Oswald was just a patsy, and also a double agent. This alone demolishes Shaw’s entire defense at his trial. And Litwin’s book along with it.

But the worst part of all of this Litwinian/Wegmann/Dymond mystification is that people in New Orleans understood it was such at the time. For example, Carlos Bringuier knew that Garrison was on to something big, and that high persons were involved in the assassination. He also knew something else. That Shaw felt confident because “he knew that these high persons would have to defend him.” (DiEugenio, p. 286) Which, as I have proven above, the FBI and CIA did. Here is the unfunny irony: Litwin uses Bringuier as a witness against Garrison in his book. (see Chapter 11: “A Tale of Three Cubans”)

This is one reason why I fail to see the point of Litwin using early Commission critics like Paul Hoch, David Lifton and Sylvia Meagher to knock Garrison (one could add Josiah Thompson to this list). To my knowledge, at that time, none of them had access to Garrison’s files, none of them had visited New Orleans to do any field investigation, and none of them could have possibly had access to the secret FBI and CIA files that were valuable to Garrison’s case. To top it off, to my knowledge none of them later used the Freedom of Information Act to try and attain them. With those qualifications, their comments amount to sheer bombast. Therefore, what was or is the forensic value of Litwin using them in his book? Very early, actually in grade school, students learn the basic axioms of arithmetic. One of them is that since zero has no value, it does not matter how many of them you add to each other: The sum at the end of the addition is still zero. Adding Hoch to Meagher to Lifton, one still comes up with the forensic value of nothing.

But in some ways, the use of these early critics is worse than that, because they not only bought into the MSM line on New Orleans, but with Meagher and Lifton, they contributed to it.


Which brings us to Litwin’s writings on Kerry Thornley. Litwin’s chapter on Thornley is one of the worst chapters I have read in recent years. And I don’t just mean about Thornley. It’s the worst about any subject in the recent JFK literature that I have read. The majority of his references here come from the writings of Thornley’s friend David Lifton, Adam Gorightly’s pathetic apologia for Thornley, Caught in the Crossfire, and the writings of Thornley himself. Again, what did Litwin think he was going to get from these sources? When you add in the author’s own massive bias, it makes it all the worse. For instance, Litwin tries to explain away Thornley’s extreme rightwing political views by calling him a libertarian. (p. 179) Calling Thornley a libertarian would be like calling Marjorie Taylor Greene a Republican. Thornley was so far right that an acquaintance of his in New Orleans, Bernard Goldsmith, refused to discuss politics with him. (Joe Biles, In History’s Shadow, p. 57)

Litwin also does a neat job of downplaying Thornley’s testimony before the Commission. He doesn’t quote any of it. That’s a good way to make something of important evidentiary value disappear. No one who knew Oswald in the service supplied anywhere near the psychological/pathological/political disposition for Oswald to kill Kennedy as Thornley did––no one was even close. Thornley’s deposition in Volume 11 was 33 pages long and it was separated from the affidavits of those who knew Oswald in the service, both in Japan and at Santa Ana, California. In fact, Thornley’s highly pejorative testimony was grouped with that of New Orleans radio host Bill Stuckey, who––as we have seen––helped bushwhack Oswald in a radio debate; an affidavit by Ruth Paine, whose home produced so much incriminating evidence against Oswald; and another by Howard Brennan, the man the Commission used to place Oswald in the sixth story window of the Texas School Book Depository. That should tell the reader just how the Commission viewed Thornley––what with his depiction that Oswald wanted to die knowing he was a somebody, and Oswald wanted to go down in history books so people would know who he was 10,000 years from now. (Vol. 11, pp. 97, 98)

This is what Kerry was there to do, and Commission lawyer Albert Jenner admitted it with Thornley right in front of him. (Vol. 11, p. 102) Jenner said he wanted Thornley to give them a motivation for Oswald. Which Kerry supplied in excelsis. To excise this is another example of Litwin’s plastic surgery. But in addition to milking Thornley to smear Oswald, the Commission also covered up areas that they should have investigated about the witness. This included topics like: did Thornley communicate with Oswald after they left each other in the service; did Thornley tell Oswald about Albert Schweitzer College in Europe, a place where Oswald was supposed to have applied to, but never attended; did Oswald meet with Thornley in New Orleans; and why did Thornley suggest that Oswald was about five inches shorter than he was when, in fact, they were approximately the same height? You will not find any of these key evidentiary points in Litwin’s chapter. But they help explain why Thornley was tracked down by both the FBI and Secret Service within about 36 hours of the assassination. Thornley himself said that the agencies had just cause to suspect he was involved in the assassination, though that line of inquiry was quickly dropped. But incriminating Oswald so thoroughly before the Commission gave him the opportunity to urinate on Kennedy’s grave at nearby Arlington Cemetery. (Garrison, On the Trail of the Assassins, p. 78)

Litwin is so incontinent to smear Garrison that he recites the whole mildewed rigamarole about the DA suspecting that somehow John Rene Heindel––who talked to Oswald once at Atsugi air base in Japan––was lying to him and the DA was laying a perjury trap for the man through Thornley. (Litwin p. 177) This idea was furthered by Gorightly. If one reads the grand jury transcript of Heindel, it is exposed as pure bunk. What was really happening is that Thornley was so off in what he was saying about Heindel that it caused Garrison to suspect that Thornley was part of the cover-up––which he was. And Thornley did not just do his act before the Commission. In one of his many perjuries before Jenner, Thornley said that he had seen the Butler/Bringuier debate tape with Oswald while he just happened to be standing in a TV studio in New Orleans. (Volume 11, p. 100)

Wisely, Jenner did not pursue that statement. Because it turned out to be a lie. Through the testimony of radio program director Cliff Hall, Garrison discovered that Thornley was not just loitering around WDSU TV in the wake of the assassination. He was doing the same thing his pals Bringuier and Butler were doing in the immediate aftermath of Kennedy’s murder. He was smearing Oswald as a communist in a TV interview at the station. Around this opportune time, Thornley made similar pejorative statements to the New Orleans States Item newspaper. He said Oswald was made a killer by the Marines and the accused assassin was also schizophrenic and a “little psychotic.” (New Orleans States Item, 11/27/63) This is months before his appearance before the Commission.

But Cliff Hall said something that is probably even more relevant to the subject at hand, and it exposes Litwin’s avoidance even further. He said that he and Thornley went out for a drink after that TV interview. Before the Commission, Kerry told Jenner he had not seen Oswald in New Orleans in the summer of 1963. (WC Vol. 11, p. 109) He confessed to Hall that this was another lie. He had seen Oswald in New Orleans that summer. When Hall asked if he knew Oswald well, Thornley––like Clay Shaw––replied that he did. (Hall interview with Richard Burness, January 10, 1968)

But in the Kennedy case, just when you think they can’t, things always get worse. And it reveals another perjury by Thornley. As I have indicated above, Thornley’s raison d’être for testifying before the Commission was to dutifully produce his portrait of Oswald as the dedicated Marxist. He came through in spades. Yet Thornley knew that this was also false. He told two witnesses that Oswald was not a communist. (see Biles, pp. 58, 59)

As per the idea that Thornley could have been the model used in the infamous backyard photographs, no one will ever really know the truth about that aspect. But the idea that it could be Thornley was not just Garrison’s. Many years ago, in Las Vegas, it was told to a reporter for Probe magazine, Dave Manning. The information was supplied by none other than Jack Ruby’s acquaintance Breck Wall. Ruby called Wall––the local head of the American Guild of Variety Artists––four times in November of 1963. (Michael Benson, Who’s Who in the JFK Assassination, p. 469) As Bill Davy writes, “Ruby’s last long distance phone call during a weekend of frenzied phone call activity was to Breck Wall in Galveston.” (Davy, p. 46) Wall had arrived in Galveston just a few minutes after David Ferrie.

The above points out one of the worst aspects of this book. To anyone who knows New Orleans, Litwin’s portraits of important personages are simply not realistic. They are in fact cheap caricatures. This is acceptable for someone like the late Steve Ditko, who drew Marvel comic books. It is not acceptable for someone who is passing his book off as a work in the non-fiction crime genre. This caricaturing also underlines that, as others have alerted me, Litwin likes to troll on certain forums. One message he left is that Garrison did not give his files to any archives since it would have exposed them as being empty. This is a doubly false statement. Garrison gave many of his files to Bud Fensterwald at the Assassination Archives and Research Center (AARC). Secondly, the materials used above to impeach Thornley came from Garrison’s files. Besides Hall, there are four other witnesses who saw Oswald with Thornley that summer in New Orleans. (For a further demolition of this chapter, with more of Garrison’s files, see this article)

Thornley was lying about his association with Oswald. He was also lying about his association with those in the network around Oswald that summer in New Orleans. What is important from what I have demonstrated so far about Ferrie, Shaw and Thornley is this: When someone is lying under oath in order to exculpate themselves, those statements are not supposed to be set aside or ignored. Leaving the chimerical world of Litwin/Hoch behind, let us quote a real life colloquy from two experienced professionals on the subject:

Q: False exculpatory statements are used for what?

A: Well, either substantive prosecution or evidence of intent in a criminal prosecution.

Q: Exactly. Intent and consciousness of guilt, right?

A: That is right. (CNBC story by Arriana McLymore, 7/7/2016)

That piece of dialogue was between two veteran prosecutors: the questioner was Trey Gowdy, the respondent was James Comey. Comey was a federal prosecutor for about 18 years and then Director of the FBI. Gowdy was a federal and state prosecutor for a combined 16 years. Through their provable lies, the consciousness of guilt was there in the cases of Thornley, Shaw and Ferrie. I don’t see how it gets worse than looking for evidence that places you with Oswald, or your own defense team covering up the truth about your alias. The point was that Garrison never got to show what the intent of the lies were. But that exchange reminds us all of what proper legal procedure is, and how it has been utterly lost in the JFK case. It was distorted beyond recognition by people with political agendas. And it began with J. Edgar Hoover and those on the Commission, like Thornley’s pal Mr. Jenner.

After suffering through Litwin’s phantasmagoria with Thornley, I was ready to walk the book out to the trash bin behind my apartment. Instead, I decided to take a few days off. I had to in order to recover my damaged sensibilities. I gutted it up and got a second wind. I then managed to finish the book. I hope the reader appreciates that sacrificial effort.


In the second part of the book, besides Thornley, the author deals with Carlos Bringuier, Sergio Arcacha Smith, Carlos Quiroga, Clyde Johnson, Edgar Eugene Bradley, Thomas Beckham and Robert Perrin.

All one needs to know about the first three is this: I could detect no mention of Rose Cherami in the book. Why is that important? Because Arcacha Smith was later identified as being one of the two men in the car who disposed of Cherami near Eunice, Louisiana on the way to Dallas right before Kennedy was killed. As everyone knows, including Litwin, Cherami predicted the JFK assassination before it happened. That uncanny prognostication was based upon what Smith and his cohort, fellow Cuban exile Emilio Santana, were discussing in the car. (DiEugenio, p. 182) What made this even more fascinating was that the HSCA learned that the Dallas Police had found diagrams of the sewer system under Dealey Plaza in Arcacha Smith’s apartment after the assassination. (The Assassinations, edited by James DiEugenio and Lisa Pease, p. 237) In a 1998 Coalition on Political Assassinations conference, John Judge revealed that Penn Jones actually did crawl through that sewer system in the sixties. One should then add in the evidence that Ferrie had a map of Dealey Plaza in his desk drawer at work. (DiEugenio, p. 216) To most people, right there you have more evidence of a conspiracy. All of it made possible by Garrison’s investigation. Which leads to the question one has to ponder: Who the heck is deluded here? As we shall see, it’s not Garrison.

Quiroga and Bringuier were associated with Oswald through the famous Canal Street confrontation between Oswald and Bringuier. The latter was the head of the DRE in New Orleans and Quiroga was his aide-de-camp. In early August, Oswald met Bringuier at his retail clothing store, insinuating he could help his anti-Castro organization. (John Newman, Oswald and the CIA, pp. 323-24) Later, when Bringuier heard Oswald was leafleting pro-Castro literature on Canal Street, he rode over and violently confronted him about this alleged betrayal. Oswald and Bringuier were arrested. Even though it was Bringuier who accosted Oswald, he posted bail, pleaded innocent and eventually walked. Oswald pleaded guilty, was booked and jailed, and was later fined in court. One of the flyers Oswald passed out on Canal was stamped with the address 544 Camp Street, Guy Banister’s office. Further, the DRE was conceived, created and funded by the CIA under the code name AMPSPELL. (Newman, pp. 325, 333)

As indicated above, the episode is much more interesting, much more multi-layered, than what Litwin presents it as. First off, Oswald wrote about it on August 4th, five days before it happened. (Tony Summers, Conspiracy, p. 303) Second, Bringuier maintained that he had sent Quiroga over to Oswald’s apartment to return a couple of dropped leaflets and to infiltrate his group. Both Quiroga and Bringuier screwed up the timing of this mission to the Warren Commission. They said this event occurred after Oswald’s next street leafleting episode, on August 16th in front of the International Trade Mart. It happened before that. (Ray and Mary LaFontaine, Oswald Talked, p. 162) This is made more interesting by another misrepresentation. Oswald’s landlady said that when Quiroga arrived, he did not just have one or two leaflets. She described what he had as a stack perhaps 5 or 6 inches high. (LaFontaine, p. 162)

As noted previously, things always get worse in the JFK case. When Richard Case Nagell, who tried to stop the assassination from happening, was first interviewed by Garrison’s office, he made a rather compelling revelation. He told Garrison’s representative, William Martin, that he had an audiotape of four men in New Orleans talking about an assassination plot against Kennedy. He named one of them as Arcacha; he would only describe another of the men as “Q”. Which would strongly denote Quiroga. (NODA Memo of 4/16/67 from William Martin to Garrison)

Instead of the above, what does the author give us? More sludge from writers like Gus Russo, Shaw’s lawyers and Aaron Kohn. This includes nonsense like the claim Gordon Novel was hired by Walter Sheridan to introduce the TV producer to people in the city, and smears of Garrison’s inquiry by FBI informant Merriman Smith, who Litwin does not reveal is working with the Bureau against Garrison. (see the letter by Smith to Cartha DeLoach of 3/6/67) Or bizarre material about Garrison’s attempt to interview Arcacha Smith in Dallas, which leaves out the prime role of Aynesworth in protecting the suspect. (see LaFontaine, pp. 341-45) The capper to it all is that Litwin writes that Ferrie’s anti-Castro activities ended in 1961, when, in fact, Ferrie admitted he was involved with Operation Mongoose, which began in 1962. (NODA Interview with Herbert Wagner 12/6/67)

As far as Clyde Johnson’s meeting with Shaw under the alias of Alton Bernard in Baton Rouge, Litwin relies on––I am not joking––Aynesworth to say Ruby was not in the city at the proper time. His other source for this, and again I am serious, is Ruby’s sister Eva Grant. (Litwin, p. 196) He also adds that there is no proper source for Johnson being beaten to a pulp on the eve of his taking the stand at the Shaw trial. In fact, the source for this is an unpublished manuscript by a former Garrison volunteer named Jim Brown. His manuscript, titled Central Intelligence Assassination, was full of inside information on the workings of Garrison’s office, including the fact that Garrison was so worried about Johnson being attacked before his appearance that he hid him outside the city at a college dormitory.

The surveillance on Garrison’s office was so thorough that, even under those conditions, the witness was located and beaten. This may have been due to either the previously noted FBI wiretapping, or the CIA’s ultra-secret ‘black tape’ operation. This was a project originating from the office of counter-intelligence chief James Angleton. It began in September of 1967 and continued until March of 1969, at the trial’s completion. According to Malcolm Blunt, the heading ‘black tape’ indicates that it was very closely held at CIA HQ––on a need-to-know basis––and there was no field office access. The folders originally stated they would not be moved from counter-intelligence (CI) and, incredibly, not released to the public until 2017––and then only with CI approval. Which means, they were most likely deep-sixed. This is a sorry part of the story that Litwin avoids at all costs: namely the surveillance and assaults on Garrison’s witnesses before, during and immediately after the trial. This included Johnson, Nagell, police officer Aloysius Habighorst, two of the Clinton/Jackson witnesses and Dealey Plaza witness, Richard Randolph Carr. (DiEugenio, p. 294; Alex P. Serritella, Johnson Did It, p. 279)

The cases of Perrin and Bradley were faux pas that were largely the result of another facet of the infiltration which permitted the harassment just described, and which again Litwin discounts. This would be the horrendous influence on Garrison by CIA infiltrator William Wood aka Bill Boxley. In fact, one can pretty much say that without Boxley those two episodes would not have occurred. There is little doubt today that Boxley was an agent. And in my review of his role in my book, where I included the Perrin and Bradley cases––along with other areas––I proffered substantial evidence that such was the case. (DiEugenio, pp. 278-85)

As per Thomas Beckham and his cohort Fred Crisman, no one will ever know the truth about them. Larry Haapanen, who––surprisingly––wrote a blurb for Litwin, was not the only investigator of the duo. Former CIA pilot Jim Rose also did work on them, especially Crisman. The problem with this subject area is a common theme with the Garrison inquiry––those files, like many others, have largely disappeared. Garrison said that Boxley had taken them. (Litwin, p. 216). The DA also referred to this in the fine John Barbour documentary The Garrison Tapes. But the late JFK photo analyst Richard Sprague told this reviewer that this was not the end of their exit from the record. Sprague said that in the cache of documents the DA donated to Bud Fensterwald and the AARC, the Crisman records also managed to walk away. (1993 personal interview with Sprague in Virginia)

I must add that I did get to see some of the late Jim Rose’s documents about Crisman and Beckham when Lisa Pease and I interviewed him in San Luis Obispo in 1996. To say the least, Crisman appeared to be an interesting character. I saw no indication in Litwin’s text describing Crisman, or in his related notes, that he ever saw these documents. Which means, to put it kindly, his analysis and conclusions in the area are incomplete. As we have seen, for Litwin, that is actually an improvement.

Click here for Fred Litwin, On the Trail of Delusion – Part One.

Click here for Fred Litwin, On the Trail of Delusion – Part Three.

Last modified on Sunday, 21 February 2021 06:35
James DiEugenio

One of the most respected researchers and writers on the political assassinations of the 1960s, Jim DiEugenio is the author of two books, Destiny Betrayed (1992/2012) and The JFK Assassination: The Evidence Today (2018), co-author of The Assassinations, and co-edited Probe Magazine (1993-2000).   See "About Us" for a fuller bio.

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