Welcome to the second installment in my examination of the JFK assassination. In the first installment I picked up with Oswald's return to the United States after his alleged defection to the Soviet Union. As was noted there, almost immediately upon setting foot on US soil Oswald was confronted by Spas T. Raikin, superficially of the Traveler's Aid Society, but in reality both a CIA asset and a member of the shadowy World Anti-Communist League (a powerful international right wing lobby group linked to various intelligence agencies as well as drug trafficking and international terrorism, which more information can be found on here, here, here and here). In some accounts, it was Raikin who gave Oswald the money (over $400) to return to the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
|Ruth and Michael Paine|
As I wrapped up the end of the first installment I also noted the bizarre allegations of Oswald's involvement in a 1962 assassination attempt on former general and right-wing ideologue Edwin Walker. Not only is Oswald's alleged participation in this act highly debatable, but Walker himself has been linked to the conspiracy to assassinate Kennedy.
|Oswald during the legendary FPCC leafleting incident|
|a record of the Oswald-Bringuier debate put out by the INCA|
"Many U.S. multinational supported INCA, through foundations such as the Cordell Hull Foundation. INCA's anti-Communist activities in Latin America, in practice, meant opposing all political parties advocating nationalization of U.S. corporations. Thus, INCA clearly served the economic interests of U.S. firms doing business there.
"These included not only Standard Fruit but the William B. Reily company, the coffee company that ostensibly employed Lee Harvey Oswald while he was in New Orleans. I say 'ostensibly,' because at least some of Oswald's alleged paychecks from the Reily company are apparently not genuine as transmitted to the Warren Commission; the FBI was aware they had a problem in this area; and they went out of their way to conceal the problem. The distinct possibility that these checks are artifacts, not real, draws our attention to the coincidence that the chief source of information to both the Secret Service and the FBI about Oswald at the Reily Coffee company was INCA charter member William I. Monaghan, an ex-FBI agent who left Standard Fruit to join the Reily Company about the same time Oswald did, and also left the Reily Company at about the same time as Oswald. The Reily family's engagement in Caribbean anti-Communist politics is exemplified by the fact that one Reily brother (Eustis Reily) was a backer of INCA, and another (William B. Reily) was a backer of the Crusade to Free Cuba Committee, which raised cash for the New Orleans CRC."
(Deep Politics and the Death of JFK, Peter Dale Scott, pg. 95)
|William B. Reily|
"... Oswald's sponsoring organization was the Fair Play for Cuba Committee. The Committee did exist, based in New York City, but oddly, Oswald was the only member of the New Orleans chapter. The address stamped on the literature was 544 Camp Street.
"In its multitude glaring omissions, the Warren Report never got to the bottom of the intriguing mystery of 544 Camp Street. If Oswald was the only member of the organization, why did he use that address, the Newman building? It was not his home address. If he was making about a hundred dollars a month and spinning about sixty on rent, how could he afford an office? For that is what the Camp Street address was, an office building. If he did not rent space there – as the owner of the building, Samuel Newman, said – did someone rent a room for him or lend him in office to use?
"The mystery could have been solved by looking through one of the FBI report submitted to the Warren Commission. The report is a nine-line summary of an interview with former FBI agent Guy Banister, the detective who beat up his assisting, Jack Martin, on the day of the assassination. The address given in the report for Banister's office is 531 Lafayette Street. Newman's office building was located at the corner of Lafayette and Camp. If one entered on the Lafayette side, the address was 531; if one entered on the Camp side, it was 544. In J. Edgar Hoover's (deliberately) evasive inquiry into the assassination, he tried to cover up this point from both the Warren Commission and the public. Not long after the assassination, New Orleans Special Agent Harry Maynor drafted a message that was changed before it arrived at FBI HQ. This message was directed to director Hoover. Scratched out, but still visible, are the words, 'Several Fair Play for Cuba pamphlets contain address 544 Camp Street.' Also, when the FBI forwarded its very few and skimpy reports on Banister to the Warren Commission – in which they did not question him about Oswald – they failed to use the 544 Camp Street address. They used the alternative address of 531 Lafayette. This may have some significance. For the Commission did print one flyer Oswald had been distributing that summer that included the Camp Street address. It was the famous pamphlet written by wealthy New York activist Corliss Lamont entitled 'The Crime Against Cuba. So even if the Commission had tried to connect the two addresses, they would have had a hard time doing so.
"Why did FBI director Hoover attempt to conceal any relationship between Guy Banister and Oswald? Because, as with David Ferrie, it is difficult to reconcile the politics and activism of Banister with the image of Oswald as presented in the Warren Vommission. In fact, some would say it is not possible to do so. Banister, who died of a heart attack in 1964, was a compelling character. He spent a large part of his life in law enforcement. Born in Monroe, Louisiana, 1901, he attended LSU and Soule College in New Orleans. He began his career as an investigator for the Monroe Police Department and then received an appointment as patrol officer 1929. He quickly became assistant to the Chief of Police and, a year later, he became Chief of Detectives. In 1934, Banister was sworn in as a special agent for the Bureau of Investigation, the forerunner to the FBI. At that time, this agency was run by Hoover. He was first stationed in Indianapolis. In 1935 he relocated to New York City. It was here that Banister developed his interest in surveilling and rooting out communists. This was through his colleague George Starr. Starr spoke fluent Russian, as his father had trained race horses for the Czar. For years, Starr was Hoover's designated leader in conducting investigations of communist subversion. In fact, he taught these techniques to fellow agents. One was Banister. As Banister rose in the Bureau, he began to supervise other agents doing this kind of inquiry. And what is important here, he also developed informers within leftist ranks. As he referred to them, 'they were counterspies sent into report on the activities of the Party members.' Banister was to specialize in this activity for Hoover for seventeen years.
"From New York he transferred to Newark. He then became Special Agent in Charge (SAC), that is running the office, in Butte, Montana. During the war, he juggle between Oklahoma City, Minneapolis, and Butte. In January 1954, he became SAC of the Chicago office. In a move that has never been fully explain, he retired from the FBI at the end of 1954..."
(Destiny Betrayed, James DiEugenio, pgs. 102-103)
|the mysterious 544 Camp Street|
Nor was Banister's involvement in the Dillinger affair the only curiosity that unfolded during his time with the Bureau.
"... Further, while Banister was FBI Special Agent in charge (SAC) of the Chicago field office during World War II, one of his FBI subordinates was James McCord of Watergate 'plumbers' fame, and another was Robert A. Maheu: the man who would later become head of his own investigative agency and an employee of Howard Hughes, the man whose agency was started by money won from James McInerney, the assistant Attorney General who was involved in the Jack Parsons investigation. Maheu would go on to become the man in the middle between the CIA and organized crime in the assassination plots against Castro.
"Banister was – during the time of the Arnold sighting, the Maury Island affair, and Roswell – the FBI Special Agent assigned to the Butte, Montana field office, which had responsibility for several western states, including Idaho (where Kenneth Arnold resided). A look at recently declassified FBI files for that period in 1947 show a number of telexes from Banister, some with his initials 'WGP,' all pertaining to UFO phenomena, as well as other FBI documents with the designation 'Security Matter – X' or simply 'SM-X,' the origin – the author supposes – of the 'X-Files,' which, at least in 1947, did exist at the FBI and was concerned with UFOs (as well as with the federal investigation of Wilhelm Reich, the pioneer psychoanalyst whose 'orgone therapy' had run afoul of the medical establishment and who himself was a firm believer in the existence of UFOs ).
"Usually, when Banister is referenced in connection with the Kennedy assassination, he is mentioned as having been with the FBI in Chicago for many years, which is undoubtedly true, but the period in Butte put him in the middle of the seminal UFO event of the twentieth century."
(Sinister Forces Book I, Peter Levenda, pgs. 173-174)
".... An object measuring 30.5 inches that looked 'similar to the cymbals used by a drummer in a band,' placed face to face had been recovered... by Mrs. Fred Easterbrook in Twin Falls, Idaho. Mrs. Eastbrook turned it over to an FBI agent named W. G. Banister. 'The gadget is gold plated on one side and silver, stainless steel, aluminum or tin on the other,' reported the Tacoma paper, which used only Banister as the source. The East Oregonian had covered the story of the two-and-a-half foot saucer and noted that assistant chief of Twin Falls police E. McCracken said that Army intelligence authorities had ordered his department 'not to talk' about the min-saucer. 'The object was taken into a back room at the police station and put under lock and key,' said McCracken. 'We are told to keep our mouths shut, and not describe the object to anyone.' All reference to the strong-arm tactics was left out of the next East Oregonian report, as were the names of the four boys that assistant chief McCracken claimed had made the disc from parts of an old phonograph. A clear pattern of cover-up- can be seen in the newspaper record of the sighting...
"That Banister enjoyed his double life in law enforcement and criminal conspiracy was made explicit when he testified before the Louisiana Joint Legislative Committee in March 1957 about his decision to move to New Orleans: 'I had retired, intending to get out of law enforcement, although I must say I regretted getting out of counter-espionage, counter-sabotage, counter-subversive activity work. It is a fascinating field.' He also gave that committee yet another view of the 30 inch disk he was given in July 1947, which the police identified to the newspaper as a children's prank: 'Do you remember the Japanese balloon cases that occurred in World War II? Balloons being sent over from Japan? We found the first one on land in Montana [sic; Banister worked for the headquarters of the Montana-Idaho FBI division of Butte, Montana], and I had the job of finding out where it came from. It came through the air, although a leading balloonist in this country said no balloon flies such a distance. But military geology – that branch of military services which we have – in time began to chart the exact strata in Japan they came from, because they had sandbags on them, you remember. And we found out the reason why. The winds carrying these balloons originated in Siberia. We called them now the jet air streams. They can ride one out eastward towards us. Off the coast they strike one going much faster, almost twice as fast, turning south. They can ride that until they cross another going eastward at about 350 miles per hour. It quite frequently passes over New Orleans, and they can ride it down. They can be here quicker than they can get to Chicago.'
"Interestingly, the Japanese Fugo balloon bomb is one of three balloon theories that have been used to explain the Roswell event, one championed by writer John Keel but challenged by many others."
(JFK & UFO, Kenn Thomas, pgs. 42-43)
|Banister (right) examines an alleged UFO|
"... Garrison had fought in World War II and was reactivated for Korea. In between, he worked for a short time with the FBI in the Pacific Northwest apparently at the time of the Maury Island incident and evidently with Guy Banister, the agent who recovered the 30 inch saucer near that time, who also would later be intimately connected with Lee Harvey Oswald. Garrison, in fact, discussed his FBI service in his biography, On the Trail the Assassins:
"'Upon my return to civilian life after World War II, I followed my family tradition and went to law school at Tulane, obtaining both Bachelor of Laws and Master of Civil degrees. Shortly thereafter I join the FBI. As a special agent in Seattle and Tacoma, I was very impressed with the competence and efficiency of the Bureau. However, I was extremely bored as I rang doorbells to inquire about the loyalty and associations of applicants for employment in a defense plant. So I decided to return to the law profession.'
"He also discussed his relationship with Banister:
"'I knew Banister fairly well. When he was with the police department, we had lunch together now and then, swapping colorful stories about our earlier careers in the FBI. A rubby-faced man with blue eyes which stared right at you, you dressed immaculately and always wore a small rosebud in his lapel.'
"It is difficult to imagine that the stories Banister swapped with Garrison did not include his flying saucer encounter on 1947. Did it also includes stories about Maury Island?... Did Garrison have access to the complete file on Maury Island and its investigation by Kenneth Arnold and Emil Smith? In fact, Garrison quite probably work for the FBI in Tacoma in 1947."
(ibid, pg. 76)
"... He moved back to New Orleans and was hired by Mayor DeLesseps Morrison to run Internal Affairs and clean up a corrupt police department. He was then promoted to Deputy Superintendent of Police. In 1957 Morrison appointed him to a much more natural position. He was to prepare a study on the influence of communist subversion in New Orleans. This was to be done in conjunction with rightwing Senator James Eastland Senate Internal Security Sub-Committee. It was at this time that many of Banister's worst traits began to surface. He was an extreme bigot, and his politics were near neo-Nazi. For instance, he was closely tied to the State Sovereignty Committee, a conservative group that was anti-integration and McCarthyite in its anti-Communism. In March 1957, at the Old Absinthe House in the French Quarter, Banister's violent nature ended his career on the police force. Apparently, at least a bit drunk, Banister drew his gun on a bartender and said, 'I have already killed two men, and another wouldn't make any difference.' About a year later, he set up Guy Banister Associates, his own private investigation firm.
"His business was first located in a small office on Robert E. Lee Boulevard. But Banister then moved to the Balter Building. As William Davy notes in Let Justice Be Done, that building was named after its owner, Colonel Buford Balter, who was another extreme right winger. In fact, according to a 1962 FBI report made by Banister employee Dan Campbell, Balter partly financed a trip by American Nazi leader George Lincoln Rockwell to New Orleans. One of the purposes of the meeting was to discuss a merger between the Rockwell group and the Klan. It would seem that one reason Banister's office was housed there was, since his political philosophy was in tune with Buford Balter's, he probably could get a good deal on a lease.
"For the evidence indicates that Banister did little, if any, detective work himself. This became clear at an early date. Joe Oster was a friend of Banister's from the local police force. Banister hired him as an investigator and treasurer. Oster quit when he found himself doing most of the work and Banister not taking advantage of potentially lucrative investigations. Garrison investigator George Eckert found another source that said Banister's friends never bought the ideal that he had separated himself from the government. He accepted fees for investigatory services that were well under the going rate. He then maintained 'connections with sources, which provided him technical assistance.' In that regard, Oster recalled that Banister could actually pick up the phone and talk to J. Edgar Hoover. This is an important point in regards to the FBI cover-up about Oswald's flyer mentioned above. Oster recalled that Banister also got less and less choosy about who he tired. At first he stuck with FBI veterans like himself. But he later got less discerning, since he spent most of his time building his file system of perceived Communist sympathizers in the area. For instance, Banister published something called Louisiana Intelligence Digest. This publication stated that the civil rights movement was a communist front and ridiculed President Kennedy for being soft on communism since he supported the movement. Banister testified before a Special Committee of the Arkansas State Legislature, where he claimed that Communists were behind the riots that followed the integration of the Little Rock, Arkansas, public school system...
"When Oster left, he was replaced by Vernon Gerdes. Gerdes also said he saw the American Nazi Rockwell with Banister. As noted by more than one author, Sergio Arcacha Smith's Office for the CRC was located in the Balter Building when Banister was there. Since Arcacha Smith's group was part of the Cuban exile political fronts set up by the CIA for the Bay of Pigs invasion, Howard Hunt was also seen at the Balter Building. In fact, Joe Oster later said that when he was there with Banister at the Balter Building, there were phone calls coming in from the CIA, and he heard the name Hunt mentioned. Banister employee Joe Newborough also stated that Banister was a conduit of funds for the CIA."
(Destiny Betrayed, James DiEugenio, pgs. 103-105)
|American Nazi Party founder George Lincoln Rockwell, whose name and address was found in Oswald's address book|
The above-mentioned State Sovereignty Committee that Banister belonged to was one of the various anti-integrationist organizations that were eventually rolled into the White Citizens' Councils. Of course one of the chief financial backers of these organizations, as discussed before here, was Colonel Wickliffe Preston Draper. Draper was also a major supporter of Liberty Lobby as well as an associate of Senator James Eastland, the above-mentioned head of the Senate Internal Security Division Sub-Committee (the Senate equivalent of the House Un-American Activities Committee). Indeed, Eastland even served on a committee that distributed Draper's money on "worthy scientific recipients," according to William H. Tucker in The Funding of Scientific Racism (pg. 67).
|Colonel Wickliffe Preston Draper|
"... a report from Miami that Joseph Adams Milteer, a white races with Klan connections, had in early 1963 correctly warned that a plot to kill the President 'from an office building with a high-powered rifle' was already 'in the working'? These words are taken from a tape recording of a discussion between Milteer and his friend, Miami police informant Bill Somersett. Miami police provided copies of this tape to both the Secret Service and the FBI on November 10, 1963, two weeks before the assassination, and this led to special security precautions for the president in Miami on November 18.
"Although an extremist, Milteer was no loner. Southern racists were well organized in 1963, in response to federal orders for desegregation; and Milteer was an organizer for two racist parties, the National States Rights party and the Constitution party. In addition he had attended an April 1963 meeting in New Orleans of the Congress of Freedom, Inc., which had been monitored by an informant for the Miami police. A Miami detective's report of the Congress included the statement that 'there was indicated the overthrow of the present government of the United States,' including 'the setting up of a criminal activity to assassinate particular persons.' The report added that membership within the Congress of Freedom, Inc., contained high ranking members of the armed forces that secretly belong to the organization...'
"Four days after the assassination, Somersett reported that Milteer had been 'jubilant' about it: 'Everything ran true to form. I guess you thought I was kidding you when I said he would be killed from a window with a high-powered rifle.' Milteer also was adamant that he had not been 'guessing' in his original prediction. In both of the relevant FBI reports from Miami, Somersett was described as 'a source who had furnished reliable information in the past.'
"What was the response of FBI headquarters to the second report? An order was sent to Miami to 'amend the reliability statement to show that some of the information furnished by [Somersett] is such that it cannot be verified or corroborated.' The headquarters file copy noted that 'investigation by Atlanta has indicated there is no truth in the statements by [Somersett] and that Milteer was an Quitman, Georgia, during perti[n]ent period.'
"This notation referred to an interview by the Atlanta FBI with Milteer himself, who quite understandably denied ever having threatened Kennedy, or even having 'heard anyone make such threats.' This simple denial was forwarded to the Warren Commission in December 1963...;, but the reports from Somersett (duly rewritten to make them less credible) were not forwarded until August 7, 1964, when the Commission had almost completed its work... Nothing was ever said to the Commission about the tape in the FBI's possession that proved conclusively that Somersett had reported his conversation truthfully, and that Milteer, in his denial, was lying. Nor did the Commission here about this tap his denial, was lying. Nor did the Commission hear about the tape from the Secret Service.
"In their cover-up of the Milteer tape, the FBI and the Secret Service concealed the fact that they had both had prior warning of 'plans... to kill President John F. Kennedy.' But Milteer had predicted, correctly, not merely the modus operandi of the assassination but also the cover up:
Somersett: Boy, if that Kennedy gets shot, we have got to know where we are at. Because you know that will be a real shake, if they do that.
Milteer: They wouldn't leave any stone unturned there no way. They will pick up somebody within hours afterwards, if anything like that would happen, just to throw the public all.
"Since 1963, both Milteer, the extremes, and Somersett, the informant, have died. .."
(Deep Politics and the Death of JFK, Peter Dale Scott, pgs. 49-51)
"At 544 Camp Street, Banister amassed vast files on 'communist groups and subversive organizations.' He was a member of both the John Birch Society and the paramilitary Minutemen, and served as special advisor to the Louisiana American Legion's Committee on Un-American Activities."
(The Man Who Knew Too Much, Dick Russell, pg. 254)As noted before here, the American Legion was conscripted into the nation's industrial security apparatus around the time frame of the First World War. The John Birch Society, of which compelling evidence has emerged indicating the organization was some type of intelligence operation (as noted before here), had more than a few overlaps with the American Security Council (as noted before here), a lobby group that became deeply involved with industrial security during the 1950s and beyond. According to Peter Dale Scott in Deep Politics and the Assassination of JFK, Banister was not merely a member of the Minutemen, but the organizer of the outfit for the state of Louisiana. I've linked the Minutemen to Colonel William Potter Gale, a former military intelligence officer who would go on to found the Posse Comitatus (with the assistance of several members of the Sovereign Order of Saint John, most notably General Pedro del Valle).
Banister's connection to the Minutemen is likely most significant, as shall be examined in much greater depth during the next installment of this series, so do keep it in mind.
There was at least one other highly significant far right group Banister was linked to:
"Banister was also associated with another outlet to the OAS rebel group, local attorney Maurice Gatlin. Gatlin was an attorney who, from the 1940s, was obsessive anti-Communists. In fact, he appeared to know about the overthrow of Arbenz in Guatemala a year before it happened. He even offered to brief Assistant Secretary of State John M. Cabot about it. Gatlin had helped organize a group of communist 'pushback' organizations throughout the world. The one in New Orleans was called the Anti-Communist League of the Caribbean. Banister was a member of the group. And after Arbenz was overthrown, Banister employee Allen Campbell told the author that both Ferrie and Banister were instrumental in training the new regime's army and security forces. In fact, Banister had sent Campbell to Guatemala under the cover of conducting an airshow to check on their proficiency. And like Banister – with Allen and his brother Dan Campbell – Gatlin was active in recruiting young men to become informants on the left. One of Gatlin's recruits was Tulane student William Martin, a man who Banister also knew... Gatlin also likely new Howard Hunt since he attended an anti-Communist conference in Guatemala in 1958 arrange by him. In October 5, 1960, Gatlin wrote a letter to the New Orleans Times Picayune in which he praised Banister for the seizure of a supply of jeeps being sent into Cuba. Gatlin liked to boast about his undercover work for the CIA. He once stated to a friend that he was going to Paris to give a large amount of money to the OAS to finance an assassination attempt against de Gaulle."
(Destiny Betrayed, James DiEugenio, pg. 107)
"... Banister was also instrumental in the Anti-Communist League of the Caribbean, a pet project of Nicaragua's General Somoza, and was part of a global network of right-wing hard-liners. The Anti-communist League of the Caribbean was one of a global family that originated with the Asian People's ACL. A creature of the Nationalist Chinese, and included the pro-Batista ACL of Cuba and the Chicago-based ACL of America. Banister's associate, Maurice B. Gatlin, Sr., of New Orleans, was counsel to the ACL of the Caribbean as well as a member of the steering committee of the umbrella World ACL, along with Richard Nixon's good friend Alfred Kohlberg of the China Lobby. The ACL affiliates engaged in propaganda and lobbying and collaborated with the intelligence branches of their respective governments."
(Deadly Secrets, Warren Hinckle & William Turner, pg. 231)Regular readers of this blog should have already realized that the Anti-Communist League of the Caribbean was one of the predecessor organizations of what would become known as the World Anti-Communist League (WACL), which was not officially founded until 1966 but had been in the making for at least a decade before hand. As I noted in a prior series (which can be found here, here, here and here), the WACL was a powerful international lobby group that has long been linked to international terrorism and drug trafficking. It also had links to various intelligence services, including those of the Kuomintang (Taiwan), the Korean CIA, the BND (the chief intelligence agency of West Germany and later united Germany) along with the CIA and US military intelligence. That Banister was a member of this organization is most significant, as will become evident in the next installment.
Before finishing up with Banister his participation in covert activities in Latin America on behalf of the US intelligence services, but especially in relation to Cuba, warrant mentioning:
"A one time Banister associates described the business in a manner not easily categorized in the Yellow Pages: 'Guy participated in every important anti-Communist South and Central American revolution which came along, acting as a key liaison's man for the U.S.-Government-sponsored anti-Communist activities in Latin America.'
"During the Bay of Pigs mission, Banister collaborated with New Orleans delegate to the Cuban Revolutionary Council, Sergio Arcacha Smith, an immaculate man with a pencil mustache who had served in the Batista's diplomatic corps. Arcacha's office was located conveniently across the hall from Banister's in the 544 Camp Street building and was known as the Cuban Grand Central Station. Arcacha created the Crusade to Free Cuba in order to solicit donations in the Anglo community. With Banister as an incorporator, Arcacha also formed the Friends of Democratic Cuba with outwardly similar goals. Ronnie Caire, Arcacha's public relations coordinator at the time, has revealed that the Friends doubled as 'an undercover operation in conjunction with the CIA and FBI, which involved the shipment and transportation of individuals and supplies in and out of Cuba.'
"The building at 544 Camp Street had figured in the planned diversionary strike and provocation during the Bay of Pigs. The munitions in the Santa Ana's hold had been procured by Arcacha and Banister. A week earlier Arcacha and two CIA contract employees, David Ferrie and Gordon Novel, had picked them up at Schlumberger Well Services Company bunker outside New Orleans. Novel later described the bunker as 'a CIA staging point for munitions destined to be used as part of the abortive Bay of Pigs attack.' The munitions were stored temporarily at Novel's and Ferrie's residences – and Banister's office. A close friend of Banister's recalled seeing numerous wooden crates stenciled 'Schlumberger' in the office. 'Five or six of the boxes were open,' he said. 'Inside were rifle grenades and land mines and some little missiles I had never seen before. When a friend warned Banister the possession of the munitions might bring trouble, Banister said that no, it was all right, that he had approval from somebody. He said the stuff would just be there overnight, but somebody was supposed to pick it up. He said a bunch of fellows connected with the Cuban deal asked to leave it there overnight.'
"The Santa Ana mission failed when the rebel imposters got cold feet about attacking U.S. forces directly, which would have provided a pretext for full-scale American intervention. Banister's clandestine activities intensified after the Bay of Pigs. A frequent visitor to his Camp Street office was Colonel Orlando Piedra, the ex-chief of Batista's secret police, a highly feared man who may have been involved with Operation 40. Among their discussions were assassination plots against Castro. According to one exile who sat in on a conversation between Banister and Piedra, one of the plots under consideration involved 'putting poison in the air-conditioning ducts in the Havana Presidential Palace and killing all occupants.'"
(ibid, pgs. 229-231)
So yes, Banister was involved in any number of intrigues. The same could be said of any number of other individuals who are reputed to have been affiliated with him and found their way into his den at Camp Street. One of the most curious and hotly debated in the JFK assassination community is Kerry Thornley.
Yes, the same Kerry Thornley who co-founded (along with Greg Hill) Discordianism and who is credited by some re-inventing the V sign as the peace sign in the 1960s. Thornley also became a friend of Robert Anton Wilson's for while and may have encountered others in the Young-Puharich network (discussed briefly in part one of this series). Wilson of course famously wrote (with Bob Shea) the Illuminatus! Trilogy, which synchronicisticly featured bank robber John Dillinger as a major character. Thornley has also been credited with contributing to the zine revolution of the 1980s, making him a bona fide counterculture icon.
|Robert Anton Wilson, whom Thornley would eventually accuse of being a CIA asset|
"Thornley was a Marine Corps buddy of Oswald who's testimony to the Warren Commission was used to portray Oswald as a Communist loner. As Garrison noted in his book, Thornley's testimony is at odds with other service friends of the alleged assassin, who did not recall him as an ideologically committed Marxist. Another important fact about Thornley is that he wrote two books about Oswald, one before and one after the assassination: the novel the Idle Warriors (unpublished until 1991), and Oswald (published in 1965). Both books accomplished the same end this Thornley's Warren Commission trstimony: they portray Oswald as a committed and sociopathic communist...
"According to both Thornley and Jim Garrison, the Secret Service swept down on Thornley on November 23, and in short order, he was on a plane to Washington with his manuscript The Idle Warriors. Thornley reveals in his later, nonfiction book that he talked to Warren Commission counsel Albert Jenner on a number of occasions about his testimony. According to Garrison, Thornley stayed in the Washington, D.C., area for almost a year. He then moved out to California where his parents resided. Ironically, he worked in an apartment complex which housed, of all people, CIA-Mafia-Castro assassination plots intermediary Johnny Roselli. Around this time, David Lifton was going through the Warren Commission volumes and noted Thornley's testimony. He looked him up in person and they became friends. During the early part of Garrison's investigation, Lifton popped in to help out, and discussed Thornley with the DA. It was this event which marked the beginning of the falling out between Garrison and Lifton. For, from the evidence adduced by the new file releases, Thornley was a much more suspicious character than the one Lifton has always presented.
"First, as should have been apparent from the beginning, Thornley was an extreme right winger who had an almost pathological hatred of Kennedy. This could have provided a reason for him to characterize Oswald as he did for the Commission. Thornley worked briefly for right-wing publisher Kent Courtney in New Orleans and was a friend of New Orleans-based CIA journalist Clint Bolton. According to an article in New Orleans Magazine, Thornley was also once employed by Alton Ochsner's INCA outfit, the CIA-related radio and audiotape outfit which sponsored Oswald's famous debate with Cuban exile leader Carlos Bringuier. According to former Guy Banister employee Dan Campbell, Thornley was one of the young fanatics who frequented 544 Camp Street. Additional facts make the above acquaintances even more interesting. Thornley tried to deny that he knew Bringuier, yet his girlfriend Jeanne Hack described an encounter between Thornley and a man who fit Bringuier's description to Bill Turner in January 1968. And as Thornley notes in his introduction to the 1991 issue of The Idle Warriors, he should that manuscript to Banister before the assassination, back in 1961."
(Destiny Betrayed, James DiEugenio, pgs. 187-188)
A few points need to be made. First, while Thornley was certainly a right winger, he was not a fanatic (in that he did not embrace fascistic or racist ideology). Like Robert Anton Wilson, Thornley identified as a libertarian for much of his life, but he was also an Objectivist and a diehard fan of Ayn Rand's in general. Thornley was indeed fanatically anti-Kennedy in the early 1960s due to the US-backed UN involvement in Katanga (which was a major passion of the John Birch Society as well) during that period. What's more, Thornley was reportedly quite jubilant about the assassination when informed of it.
"News of Kennedy's assassination broke during the lunch hour, when a waiter who'd been taking a break outside came into report that the cops had picked up a suspect in the assassination identified as a former Marine. The waiter couldn't remember the name, but the suspect in question had defected to Russia for a couple of years before returning to America. When Kerry guessed the suspect's name, all hell broke loose among the serving staff. Someone even went so far as to ask Kerry if he'd had a hand in the assassination. 'One cretinous individual,' Kerry remembered, 'even began gossiping, behind my back, that I was in fact Lee Harvey Oswald's brother.'
"In response to the news, Kerry celebrated the national tragedy in his own irrelevant way, reveling while others grieved aloud. As Kerry recalled in an interview:
I was in Arnaud's restaurant in New Orleans waiting tables, and when the news came through that Kennedy had been killed, I started singing 'This then is Texas, Lone Star State.' [Laughing] I was just ecstatic – I was so happy, and I hated him because of the Katanga Massacre. I hated him because he was like Wesley Mooch in Atlas Shrugged... he was trying to impose price controls, and all that... I thought he was going to plunge the whole world into starvation, you know, including the United States first.
"Kerry's jubilance turned to horror when Oswald was shot dead two days later..."
(The Prankster and the Conspiracy, Adam Gorightly, pg. 53)
"Shortly thereafter, McAuliffe arranged another meeting at the Bourbon House, this time with a friend named Guy Banister, who was introduced to Kerry as 'a man with a great interest in literature.' Although Kerry later remembered nothing particularly monumental coming out of these conversations, Banister did seem 'favorably impressed' with The Idle Warriors..."
(ibid, pgs. 48-49)Needless to say, Banister does not generally come off as a man with a great love for literature. If former Banister employee Dan Campbell is correct about Thornley working for Banister, then this would seem to indicate that Thornley was involved in Banister's efforts to infiltrate and monitor leftists. He would have been an especially idea candidate to work college campuses.
But moving along. Over the years there has been much dispute between the supporters of Thornley and Jim Garrison as to who Thornley associated with New Orleans, most notably Oswald. Garrison supporters insist Thornley hung out with Oswald in New Orleans and interacted with Banister and associated individuals regularly.
"... Two memos... in February 1968 revealed that Thornley denied knowing Banister, Dave Ferrie, Clay Shaw, and Shaw's friend Time-Life journalist David Chandler. Garrison, however, had evidence that revealed the opposite to be the case. And years later, on the eve of the House Select Committee investigation, Thornley admitted to knowing all these shady characters. Then, of course, there was the issue of Thornley's association with Oswald himself in the summer of 1963. Thornley denied before the New Orleans grand jury that he associated with Oswald in New Orleans in 1963. This seemed improbable on its face since, as noted above, both men knew each other previously and both men frequented some of the same places in 1963. But further, consider Thornley's rather equivocal denial on the witness stand:
Q: Did she [Barbara Reid] see you with Oswald?
A: I don't think she did because the next day I started asking people...
Q: You don't think so?
A: I don't know whether it was Oswald, I can't remember who was sitting there with me...
"The above statement earned Thornley a perjury indictment from Garrison. But there was much more. Garrison had no less than eight witnesses who said they had seen Oswald with Thornley in New Orleans that summer of 1963. An event denied by Thornley to both Lifton and to Garrison. And some of these witnesses went beyond just noting the association between the two. Two of these witnesses, Bernard Goldsmith and Doris Dowell, both said that Thornley told them Oswald was not a communist. This is amazing, since, as noted earlier, the Warren Commission featured Thornley as its key witness to Oswald's alleged commie sympathies. This indicates that Thornley himself 1.) knew the truth about Oswald's intelligence ties and 2.) was probably involved in creating a false cover – a 'legend,' in intelligence parlance – for the alleged assassin."
(Destiny Betrayed, James DiEugenio, pg. 189)
|a young Kerry Thornley|
"To counter Kerry's denials of involvement in a JFK assassination conspiracy, Garrison's investigators produced a witness who placed Kerry and Oswald together New Orleans in 1963. The witness, in this instance , was Barbara Reid, a Bohemian-styled voodoo worker and scene-maker – equipped with sunglasses, beret, and cigarette holder – known endearingly in the French Quarter as 'Mother Witch.'
"In his book On the Trail of the Assassins, Jim Garrison pointed out that Kerry normally wore his hair quite long during this period, but when he returned to New Orleans in September 1963 – and Barbara Reid saw him at the Bourbon House – he just got a short-cropped buzz-job, not unlike Oswald. Kerry had also shaved his beard, leading Garrison to speculate that he had adopted this new looked to more resemble his old Marine buddy. To Reid, the two young men appeared to be mirror images of one another, so much so that she said to them when she saw them at the Bourbon House: 'Who are you guys supposed to be? The Gold Dust Twins?'
"Within weeks of the assassination, Kerry visited Barbara Reid's house on a number of occasions, usually because he was trying to track down his friend Clint Bolton, who spent a lot of time there.
"During one of Kerry's visits, Barbara brought up the Bourbon House incident, and Kerry replied that it was impossible for her to have seen him and Oswald together there, because – as Kerry understood the timeline – they hadn't been in New Orleans at the same time. However, Reid produced various newspaper clippings that demonstrated that Kerry and Oswald had been in New Orleans at the same time, during September 1963. When Kerry asked Barbara why he didn't remember meeting Oswald, she replied: 'Maybe you were drugs so you couldn't remember.'
"The next morning, over breakfast with Clint Bolton, Kerry repeated Barbara Reid's allegation that she'd seen he and Oswald together at the Bourbon House. Clint's reply was: 'Dear sweet Mother Witch, whom I love dearly, and whose friendship I've enjoyed for a good many years, but whose conception of reality is entirely flexible, has been seeing notorious figures everywhere in the Quarter for as long as she's been here.'
"Clint brought up the time that he and Barbara had witnessed a barroom brawl at Pat O'Brien's pub, and how the following day Barbara was going around telling everyone she saw about a man getting killed there during the melee. The next day, Clint showed Barbara a story in the newspaper, reporting the disturbance at Pat O'Brien's, although nothing was reported about someone being killed. Using circular reasoning, Barbara concluded that the 'murder' had been suppressed. As time went by, Kerry would hear similar tales about Barbara's imaginings, directly and indirectly. Because of this, he could no longer entertain her notion that he'd been 'drugged' and/or 'brainwashed' in regards to his purported Bourbon House meeting with Oswald.
"By late 1967, Kerry – then in Tampa – received news from French Quarter friends that Reid was 'busy being some kinda snoop for Garrison... and his den mother to aging hippies.' According to Kerry sources, Reid had gathered around her a loose-knit following dedicated to her worldview regarding a Kennedy assassination conspiracy and, in particular, Kerry's involvement therein. Kerry, in his own irreverent way, promoted this mythology during his final days in New Orleans when he went around introducing himself in the following manner: 'I'm Kerry Thornley. I masterminded the assassination – how do you do?'
"In time, more second-hand stories trickled back to Kerry about Barbara Reid, to the effect that she was 'screening witnesses' with her psychic powers for Garrison's investigation. In fact, Reid became a de facto member of Garrison's Gestapo, as upon occasion she'd make the rounds of various French Quarter haunts in the company of a Garrison investigator, Harold Weisberg. (Kerry like to refer to Weisberg as 'Harold Half-Truth' on account of his propensity to stretch, or distort, the truth.)
"Interestingly enough, Greg Hill dated Barbara Reid at one time. But wait – there's more: According to Greg, Barbara claimed she had had an affair with Garrison. As Greg noted in June 1968: [Barbara] told me the Garrison was an ex-lover of hers... Like everything else she told me, I didn't know if I should believe it or not. And so, like everything else she did and said, I just enjoyed the circus and didn't bother believing or disbelieving. I think she said the affair was sometime ago, before Garrison became prominent.'
"At the very least, Garrison did – on one occasion – attend a party at Reid's bohemian/voodoo-style pad in late January 1968, along with other members of his staff. One little-known fact is that Reid was an active member in the New Orleans chapter of the Discordian Society, and even went so far as to claim that she was the Goddess Eris incarnate!"
(The Prankster and the Conspiracy, Adam Gorightly, pgs. 98-100)
So yes, the credibility of Reid should certainly be questioned, especially if she was in fact a friend of Clint Bolton, a journalist DiEugenio alleged was linked to the CIA. As for the other eight witnesses that DiEugenio cites, they are equally dubious, but for a very different reason.
"In addition to Barbara Reid, others connected Kerry to Oswald in New Orleans. In March 1968, Harold Weisberg and Andrew Sciambra interviewed an acquaintance of Kerry's name Bernard Goldsmith, who informed them that Kerry was friends with Roger Lovin, who Goldsmith claimed had been involved in the Bay of Pigs invasion. Goldsmith said that he 'vaguely' remembered Lovin telling him that he had been a roommate of Lee Oswald's. Furthermore, Goldsmith recalled being in the Bourbon House on the night after the assassination, and at the time Kerry allegedly told him that he'd known Oswald in New Orleans.
"During the course of Garrison's probe, his investigators came across another witness, Doris Dowell, an assistant manager at the Shirlington house, where Kerry later lived and worked, in Arlington, Virginia.
"According to Dowell, Kerry told her that he and Oswald were reunited in New Orleans in 1963, at a place 'in the French Quarter she probably wouldn't have approved of.' Curiously enough – for several months prior to the assassination – Kerry lived only a few blocks from Oswald, and throughout this period talked often about his former Marine pal, in particular to Clint Bolton.
"Garrison also claimed that Kerry was seen in the company of Marina Oswald in New Orleans, information that came courtesy of a letter received from John Schwegmann, Jr. of Schwegmann Bros. Super Markets...
"Recently, Oswald researcher John Armstrong uncovered FBI documents at the National Archives which purportedly demonstrated that other neighbors of Oswald had identified photos of Kerry as a frequent visitor to Oswald's New Orleans apartment. The problem with these witnesses, who identified Kerry by way of photographic identification, was illustrated in a series of incidents where Garrison's investigators went around showing prospective witnesses half a photograph in which Kerry appeared, informing them that the missing half was of Marina Oswald. A Los Angeles Free Press staffer later identified this photo as the same one that appeared in an addition of the January 1968 Tampa Times, showing Kerry standing outside the courtroom after his extradition hearing with his arm around his wife Cara. The negative had been flopped in the print used by Garrison's investigators, but even the Jolly Green Giant's most fanatical supporters had to admit it was the same photo that appeared in The Tampa Times.
"It is also been documented the Garrison investigator Harold Weisberg had photos of Kerry altered to make him appear more Lee Harvey Oswald, photos which were later used to persuade witnesses to make allegations against Kerry."
(ibid, pgs. 104-106)
"... Jim Jones was on the attack. He had invited veteran conspiracy theorist and attorney Mark Lane to Guyana, ostensibly to lecture on the life (and the assassination?) of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. But when he arrived back in the States after his visit to Jonestown, Lane immediately embarked on a legal campaign against the US government over its alleged persecution of Jonestown, the Peoples Temple, and Jim Jones. Jones' paranoia about the CIA, FBI, IRS and other government agencies found a receptive ear in Mark Lane, whose work on the assassination of President Kennedy was well-known. It seems incredible that Lane would have visited Jonestown and not come away with serious misgivings about what was going on there, but his visit was short – only a few days – and Jones typically rehearsed his congregation beforehand and created a festive atmosphere for guests, as he would with the visit of Congressman Ryan in 1978. In addition, Mark Lane was first an attorney, and one specializing in unpopular cases, it would seem. The Peoples Temple had deep pockets, and Lane could have been looking at this as any other legal gig. Who was he'd argue with the State Department officials, who found nothing sinister in the Jonestown commune?"
(Sinister Forces Book II, Peter Levenda, pg. 216)
So yes, there is more than a bit of a dispute over what involvement Thornley had, if any, with Oswald in New Orleans in the summer of 1963. Further muddying the waters are claims made by Judyth Vary Baker in her highly, highly controversial work Me and Lee that not only did Oswald and Thornley meet one another in New Orleans, but that Thornley was having an affair with Marina Oswald!
|I hope for Marina's sake that rumors of her affair with Thornley are false given the numerous STDs Kerry picked up over the years...|
"The other 1963 incident that makes Thornley even more fascinating was his trip to Mexico in July/August. As Jeanne Hack noted in an interview, Thornley was usually a quite talkative individual, but when it came to this Mexico trip, he was quite reluctant to speak about it. According to his February 25, 1963 FBI statement, Thornley said 'that he made this trip by himself and emphatically denied that Oswald had accompanied him from New Orleans to California or from California to Mexico.' Doth Thornley protest too much? In another FBI memo written the same day Thornley was interview, the following statement appears: 'Thornley is presently employed as a waiter in New Orleans and has recently been in Mexico and California with Oswald. Secret Service has been notified.' Again, if this is so, it is very interesting to say the least. But even if it were so, the Secret Service probably followed up about as vigorously as it did the Jones Print Shop incident."
(Destiny Betrayed, James DiEugenio, pg. 190)There have of course long been reports that strange things were happening in Mexico under the auspices of the US intelligence services in relation to the JFK assassination and numerous other curious happenings in the twentieth century. For this reason Thornley's trip is especially interesting in light of the view he began to take on his affiliation with Oswald and his involvement with the JFK assassination later in life: That he was the victim of Nazi mind control.
"As Kerry delved even deeper into his own conspiracies, an increasingly bizarre picture began to emerge. Initially, in the mid-70s – when these sinister figures first started flitting in the shadows – Kerry came to the conclusion that he'd been 'wired' (or implanted with a mind control device) during his service in the Marines. Later, Kerry came to believe that this insidious mind zap had started much earlier, perhaps even before birth, and that he was the product, of what he termed, a 'German breeding experiment'; an experiment that presumably used both him and Oswald as guinea pigs.
"In time, Kerry even came to suspect his own parents were Axis spies would cut a deal with Nazi Occultists conducting these eugenics experiments, the ultimate purpose of which was to create a Manchurian candidate. However, Kerry claimed he became 'what they called a mutant, because I didn't turn out to be a racist... I wasn't turning out to be the good Nazi they hoped I would be.'
"As Kerry told SteamShovel Press editor Kenn Thomas in a 1991 interview:
It's been indicated to me... that I am the son of Admiral Donitz and this is one of the reasons I've been getting all this attention over the years... and they refer to Oswald as my 'brother,' and your brother is someone who comes from a breeding experiment. I've heard him referred to many times in Cant Language as my brother...
I thought it all started when I met Oswald in the Marines, but the more I investigated, the more I realized to piece it together, the more I realized it had to start earlier than that... They weed people out in the breeding experiments. They pick two of them, and they kill one of them... They take two of them, and they observe them for a number of years, then they get rid of one of them, and that's what I think they were doing with me and Oswald.
"While Kerry occasionally addressed his alleged mind control in a lighthearted and/or Zen-like manner, I don't believe that his mind control revelations were total put-ons, although at times Kerry probably felt that all the metaphysical jokes he'd played on others over the years had come back to bite him.
"Kerry once submitted that – in some surreal way or another – he owed everything he became to the ominous specter of mind control – and this wasn't necessarily a bad thing, either. For good or ill, this arcane path that Kerry had been led down (or which he believed that he been led down) had made him, in essence, all that he was. And had not these benevolent behind-the-scenes machinations transpired, Kerry quite obviously would never have written The Idle Warriors and Oswald and gone on to lead such a colorful, though complicated, life. So, in this respect, mind control had been a blessing in disguise..."
(The Prankster and the Conspiracy, Adam Gorightly, pgs. 218-219)
Thornley's claims of mind control will be further examined in a future installment of this series. Before leaving Thornley, however, I would like to note the events that seem to have convinced Kerry he had been a part of some type of intelligence operation in New Orleans. They consisted of a series of encounters he had with two figures, one of whom Thornley referred to as Slim Brooks, the other as Gary "Brother-in-law" Kirstein. If Thornley is to be believed, these two individuals were quite a pair of characters.
"In December 1961, Gary 'Brother-in-law' Kirstein took Kerry, his girlfriend, Jessica Luck, and Slim for a ride in the country in a fancy black limousine. The following day, Kerry paid a visit to Kirstein's house in the nearby town of Kenner. Apparently, Kirstein was also an aspiring author, for it was on this occasion that he talked of a book he was writing called Hitler Was a Good Guy, which was to be a study of what the policies of members of the Third Reich would have been if they'd succeeded in their attempt to seize power from Hitler.
"It was Kirstein's contention that out of the whole Third Reich, Hitler was the lesser of many evils. In fact, Kerry was paid to do research for Kirstein's Hitler book, which consisted of going to the New Orleans Public Library and transcribing the thoughts of various Nazi leaders. The most useful source Kerry found in these regards was a diary by Joseph Goebbels containing the types of quotes Kirstein wanted for his book; things that sounded far worse than anything Hitler ever uttered.
"Sometime around Christmas, Slim told Kerry: 'I've got a Christmas present for you: you have ridden in Carlos Marcello's car.' This referred to the fancy black limo, the owner of which was now revealed to be the New Orleans mob boss. At the time, the incident held little significance to Kerry, although later it would be magnified several-fold during Jim Garrison's JFK assassination probe when Marcello would be linked to a prime suspect in the case, David Ferrie. (Gary Kirstein, it should be noted, also worked for Mafia Don Poppa Joe Comforto, or at least brag as much to Kerry...)
(ibid, pgs. 49-50)
Thornley believed that at one point he had even had a conversation with Slim and Kirstein about assassinating Kennedy.
"In late 1962 – in a conversation between Kerry, Slim, and Gary Kirstein – somehow the topic of assassinating President Kennedy came up, which appeared, at first, to be nothing more than a morbid intellectual exercise. To friends and associates, Kerry never minced words about his distaste for Kennedy, and he firmly believed that the world would be a better place without him around. Due to the influence of Ayn Rand, Kerry now considered himself a 'capitalist revolutionary' and had no qualms whatsoever about wishing Kennedy dead.
"Gary Kirstein quizzed Kerry about how he would off the president, and Kerry came up with a couple of suggestions, one of which entailed using a poison that could 'blow his stomach apart,' as well as another scenario involving the use of a remote control plane with a bomb in it, ostensibly blowing Kennedy to smithereens. After Kerry finished with his ideas, Gary added, 'And next will get Martin Luther King.'
"Toward the end of their conversation, Kirstein said, 'I think the best way to pull off a political assassination and get away with it would be to have many people involved, but under the illusion that they were pursuing other goals.'
"Kerry suggested that if one intended to pull off a conspiracy of such magnitude, they'd need 'to send someone out to lead the opposition around in circle so an assassination would not be solved. Kerry had lifted this idea from the Talent Scout by Romain Gary, a novel about a Latin American dictator who recruits an agent provocateur to lead a revolution against himself in the prospect of infiltrating and gathering information on his enemies. Kirstein said that the problem with this idea was that whomever you would send out on such a mission would invariably switch over to the other side. Kerry interjected that if he were to take part in assassination, he would afterwards have himself hypnotized so that he would forget his participation, words that later – like a lot of carries conversations with the enigmatic 'Brother-in-law' – would come back to haunt him.
"As Kerry and Slim stood at the door, preparing to leave, Kirstein added: 'Only one problem remains: who to frame. I figure some jailbird.' When Kerry asked why, Kirstein's response was something to the effect that people who are caught for crimes are weak and don't deserve any breaks. Kerry objected to this line of reasoning, and suggested that a communist would make a better patsy.
"To this suggestion, Kirstein smiled and nodded his head knowingly."
(ibid, pgs. 51-52)
Even more curious than this reputed conversation are the two men who Thornley came to believe had been his friends Slim and Gary Kirstein in New Orleans. That is, of course, if either man even existed in the first place.
"The key question in unraveling what transpired in New Orleans prior to the Kennedy Assassination is this: Were Kerry's meetings with 'Brother-in-law' and Slim Brooks nothing more than confabulations?
"David Lifton contends that all of Kerry's post-Garrison investigation memories should be discounted because they were the product of unbalanced mind. And although Lifton considers Thornley's Dreadlock Recollections – Kerry's retailing of his Brother-in-law meetings in New Orleans during the early 60s – pure confabulation (and Garrison's investigation a monumental crock of horsewater) he just the same believes that Oswald was an intelligence agent who got sucked into a Kennedy assassination conspiracy...
"One of the few people who could have verified Kerry's mythic meetings with Brother-in-law was Greg Hill, who met both Gary Kirstein and Slim Brooks while in New Orleans. But, alas, this confirmation will not be forthcoming, as Greg has shed the mortal coil.
"When I asked Grace (Calinger) Zabriskie if she'd met Brother-in-law or Slim Brooks in New Orleans, she replied:
I met Slim several times, didn't really feel I knew him. All the things Kerry writes about Slim don't tally with anything I was privy to in him. All I ever saw was the laconic, sort of 'country' affect he cultivated... I THINK I may have heard about Brother-in-Law back then, but it's possible I only heard about him later, in letters from Kerry. You know, though, it's also a fact that the mention of Brother-in-Law gives me a dark feeling, the kind it's hard to imagine I got without ever setting eyes on him. It's possible we were introduced at the Bourbon House, or somewhere around the Quarter.
"While Kerry might have actually met an individual named 'Brother-in-law' who made all kinds curious statements – which included a theoretical plot to kill Kennedy – it may have been Kerry's own paranoid worldview that took what Brother-in-law told him and blew it out of proportion, turning it into a conspiratorial cosmology.
"With that being said, I don't entirely rule out the possibility that Brother-in-law may have been E. Howard Hunt, because if anyone could pull off a Brother-in-law-type impersonation, it would have been the enigmatic Mr. Hunt, who was a renowned master of disguise, as well as one of the spookiest apparitions in espionage history.
"So if Hunt was Brother-in-law, then who exactly was Slim Brooks? Kerry later speculated that Slim Brooks was, in reality, a fellow named Jerry Milton Brooks, a former Minuteman and employee of Guy Banister. Furthermore, Kerry suspected that Slim acted as navigational adviser for the Bay of Pigs invasion, and had been assigned to keep an eye on Kerry at the behest of the intelligence community."
(ibid, pgs. 221-22)
|E. Howard Hunt|
Nor was this the only involvement Thornley had with the Minutemen. Upon returning to California Thornley befriended a woman named Becky Glaser. According to Gorightly, she first became politically active via the John Birch Society. Like Thornley, she attended the libertarian-centric Freedom School in Colorado, which had a profound effect on her life. From there she became deeply involved with the Minuteman.
"After her Freedom School experience, Becky became involved with the paramilitary right-wing group the Minutemen. At the time, she felt that society was primed for collapse, and thus was attracted to the survivalist mentality of the group. In due time, Becky became heavily involved in Minutemen operations, as she worked out of their national headquarters in the Ozarks and ran paramilitary training sessions. Much of her interactions with the Minutemen revolved around 'cops and robbers games,' which included 'helping line up relationships to run machine guns.' As Becky recalled: 'They were some of the craziest fuckers I've ever run into in my entire life!'
"At one point, the leader of the Minutemen encouraged Becky to infiltrate some left-wing organizations, and during the course of her covert infiltration of these groups, Becky discovered she enjoyed hanging out with the very same people she'd been sent to spy on. Around this time, Becky began attending Kansas University, and found herself drawn to the war protesters on campus. In due time, Becky help start a Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) chapter at the university, acting as chief secretary for the group, and in time drifted away from the far-right influence of the Minutemen."
(ibid, pgs. 77-78)It's also interesting to note that the above-mentioned Grace Zabriskie's father owned the famed French Quarter gay bar Cafe Lafitte in Exile, which makes it entirely possible she had encountered the homosexual Clay Shaw, a man of whom much will be said in just a moment, a time or two. By all accounts Zabriskie was quite a lady and is thought by some to be the inspiration for Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone." In this vein, the lines "You used to be so amused/At Napoleon in rags and the language that he used' from the song may be an allusion to Thornley.
In the early 1970s Zabriskie would begin appearing in films, eventually making over 40 movies. Probably her most famous role, however, was as Sara Palmer, Laura Palmer's mother, in David Lynch's cult TV series Twin Peaks. Thus, both The X-Files (via Banister) and Twin Peaks appear synchroniciticly against the backdrop of the JFK assassination, a prospect this author finds quite amusing as these two series are Recluse's all time favorite TV shows.
|Zabriskie as Sara Palmer|
Of course there is much dispute as to whether or not Banister and Shaw knew one another, but they certainly seem to have traveled in the same circles. Beyond Banister's employee David Ferrie (there can be little doubt that Shaw and Ferrie knew one another due to the numerous witnesses who saw the two men together in Clinton, Louisiana, along with Oswald, during a Congress of Racial Equality voter drive there in August of 1963), they both also counted "reserve" naval intelligence officer Guy Johnson (Banister himself had served in the ONI during WWII) and Dr. Alton Ochsner (a major backer of the Information Council of the Americas, which sponsored Oswald's debate with Carlos Bringuier) as mutual friends. All of this seems to indicate some type of working relationship between Banister and Shaw. Some JFK assassination researchers have even gone so far as to allege that Shaw, Banister, and Guy Johnson were the top three US intelligence assets in the New Orleans during the early 1960s.
"... Shaw began his intelligence career in the Army during World War II. As he admitted in his entry in Who's Who in the Southwest for 1963-64, Shaw served as aide-de-camp to General Charles Thrasher. As discovered in an Army manual by the superb archives researcher Peter Vea, Thrasher's unit fell under Special Operations Section, or SOS, a branch of military intelligence. When he returns New Orleans after the war, Shaw became a friend of Ted Brent, a self-made millionaire and 'Queen Bee' of the local homosexual underground. It was Brent who became Shaw's benefactor and aided him in his move up into the business world in New Orleans. This is from International House to Mississippi Shipping Company to the founding of the International Trade Mart. And it was in this phase of his career were Shaw's association with the CIA began. As Jim Garrison once noted, the CIA used Mississippi Shipping as a conduit for intelligence gathering in Latin America. Once the ITM was established, Shaw began his work as an overseas informant to both Latin America and Eastern Europe. This part of his agency career lasted – officially at least – from 1948-1956. I use the phrase' officially at least' because the CIA considered Shaw such an important and valued asset that they created a 'Y' file for him. William Davy discovered a handwritten note in the CIA declassified files saying that one of those files have been destroyed...
"Peter Vea discovered a very important document while at the National Archives in 1994. Attached to a listing of Shaw's numerous contacts with the Domestic Contact Service, a listing was attached which stated that Shaw had a covert security approval in the Project QKENCHANT. This was in 1967 and the present tense was used, meaning that Shaw was an active covert operative for the CIA while Garrison was investigating him. When William Davy took this document to former CIA officer Victor Marchetti, an interesting conversation ensued. As Marchetti looked at the document he said, 'That's interesting... He was... He was doing something there.' He then said that Shaw would not need a covert security clearance for domestic contacts service. He then added, 'This was something else. This would imply that he was doing some kind of work for the Clandestine Services.' When Davy asked what branch of Clandestine Services would that be, Marchetti replied, 'The DOD (Domestic Operations Division). It was one of the most secret divisions within the Clandestine Services. This was Tracey Barnes's old outfit. They were getting into things... uh.' The former CIA officer stopped to seemingly catch himself. 'Uh... exactly what, I don't know. But they were getting into some pretty risky areas. And this is what E. Howard Hunt was working for at the time.' And in fact, Howard Hunt did have such a covert clearance issued to him in 1970 while he was working at the White House.
"The next step in the CIA ladder after his high-level overseas informant service was his work with the strange company called Permindex. When the announcement for Permindex was first made in Switzerland in late 1956, its principal backing was to come from a local banker named Hans Seligmann. But as more investigation by the local papers was done, it became clear that the real backer was J. Henry Schroder Banking Corporation. This information was quite revealing. Schroder's had been closely associated with Alan Dulles and the CIA for years Allen Dulles's connection to the Schroder banking family went back to the thirties when his law firm, Sullivan and Cromwell, first began representing them through him. Later, Dulles was the bank's General Counsel. In fact, when Dulles became CIA director, Schroder's was a repository for a fifty million dollar contingency fund that Dulles personally controlled. Schroder's was a welcome conduit because the bank benefited from previous CIA overthrows in Guatemala and Iran. Another reason that there began to be a furor over Permindex in Switzerland was the fact that the bank's founder, Baron Kurt von Schroeder, was associated with the Third Reich, specifically Heinrich Himmler. The project now became stalled in Switzerland. It now moved to Rome. In a September 1969 interview Shaw did for Penthouse Magazine, he told James Phelan that he only grew interested in the project when it moved to Italy. Which was in October 1958. Yet a State Department cable dated April 9 of that year says that Shaw showed great interest in Permindex from the outset.
"One can see why. The board of directors was made up of bankers who had been tied up with fascist governments, people who worked the Jewish refugee racket during World War II, a former member of Mussolini's cabinet, and the son-in-law of Hjalmar Schact, the economic wizard behind the Third Reich, who was a friend of Shaw's. These people would all appeal to the conservative Shaw. There were at least four international newspapers that exposed the bizarre activities of Permindex when it was in Rome. One problem was the mysterious source of funding: no one knew where it was coming from or going to. Another was that its activities reportedly included assassination attempts on French Premier Charles de Gaulle. Which would make sense since the founding member of Permindex, Ferenc Nagy, was a close friend of Jacques Soustelle. Soustelle was a leader of the OAS, a group of former French officers who broke with de Gaulle over his Algerian policy. They later made several attempts on de Gaulle's life, which the CIA was privy to. Again, this mysterious source of funding, plus the right-wing, neo-Fascist directors created another wave of controversy. One newspaper wrote that the organization may have been 'a creature of the CIA... set up as cover for the transfer of CIA... funds in Italy for illegal political-espionage activities.' The Schroder connection would certainly suggest that."
(Destiny Betrayed, James Di Eugenio, pgs. 384-386)Thus Shaw, like so many individuals already considered in this piece, had ties to military intelligence, the Dulles clique within CIA and WWII-era fascists and their descendants. Permindex is surely one of the most compelling aspects of the JFK assassination yet it has rarely been explored by many researchers despite its links not only to the JFK assassination, but also various plots hatched by the OAS to assassinate Charles de Gaulle. Its especially interesting to note that, according to Warran Hinkle and William Turner in Deadly Secrets, Anti-Communist League of the Caribbean general counsel and Banister associate Maurice Gatlin claimed to have paid $100,000 to the OAS for de Gaulle's assassination and that he may have transferred these funds to the OAS via Permindex.
More will be said about Permindex in the next installment. For the time being I would like to focus on some of the lesser reported aspects of Shaw. Like many individuals we've already encountered, he seemed to have operated in the sphere of UFOs and super patriot groups from time to time. In fact, his involvement with both revolves around his reputed friendship with the mysterious figure of Fred Lee Crisman.
Crisman was himself involved with Maury Island incident along with his employee, Harold Dahl. Then, some 20 years later, his name came up during Jim Garrison's investigation. Indeed, Garrison even brought Crisman down to New Orleans from his home in Tacoma to testify before the grand jury in his case against Clay Shaw for about an hour. Crisman was reportedly the first man Shaw called after he had been arrested for the murder of JFK. This combined with Crisman's long reputed links to the US intelligence community (reportedly he joined the OSS during WWII and was later brought inot the CIA, but this has never been definitely proven) no doubt sparked Garrison's interest, some of Crisman's other associations also caught Big Jim's attention.
"Jim Garrison, however, was not only interested in Crisman's intelligence community links, but also his connection to right-wing and anti-Castro groups and causes.
"One particular interest involved a Los Angeles resident name G. Clinton Wheat, an activist in American Nazi Party and rightist Christian movements like the Christian Defense League in the Church of Jesus Christ-Christian. According to one source, after he defied one of Garrison's subpoenas, Garrison tracked him down to Crisman's Oregon ranch.
"Wheat and Crisman had attended meetings where speakers included Christian Defense League founder William Gale, a former guerrilla fighter under Douglas MacArthur who joined the Anti-communist Liaison group started by MacArthur's intelligence chief Charles Willoughby. Gale retired from military service at age 33 to work for Howard Hughes and thereafter hooked up with evangelist Wesley Swift and the Ku Klux Klan. More importantly, however, he also became a founder of the California Rangers, an offshoot of a group called the Minute Men...
"Many years later, the name of the Minute Men would re-emerge in the Maury Island story. A founder of the national Minute Men group headquartered in Missouri, the Reverend Bob LeRoy claimed in 1996 that his deceased brother, Bernard Ramey LeRoy, was fishing off Finer Point at the island in 1947 when he witnessed the same UFO event as Harold Dahl..."
(JFK & UFO, Kenn Thomas, pgs. 91-92)
|Fred Lee Crisman|
Before wrapping up with Shaw, however, I would like to consider the origins of his infamous alias, Clay (sometimes Clem) Bertrand. Of it, James DiEugenio notes:
"The reason Shaw would pick this particular name is very likely because it derives from Pope Clement V, whose surname was Bertrand D'Agout. (It would also explain why in some instances he used the first name Clem.) This pope had sheltered homosexuals in the fourteenth century. His legacy lived on in the cloistered homosexual community. So much so that there developed a Clement Bertrand Society which helped homosexuals with legal problems. That Shaw/Bertrand sent the gay Latinos to Dean Andrew suggests that Shaw was aware of this bit of history."
(Destiny Betrayed, James DiEugenio, pg. 211)
|Pope Clement V|
"A man named David Ferrie also worked as a private investigator for Banister. Ferrie was a bizarre character indeed. He wore a red wig and false eyebrows to compensate for a rare ailment, alopecia, which left him bereft of all body hair. He founded his own church, conducted experiments looking for a cancer cure in a laboratory above his garage, and spoke out vehemently against the Kennedy administration's policies. After the Bay of Pigs, when Ferrie gave a speech on Cuba to the New Orleans chapter of the Military Order of World Wars, his attack was so vituperative that he was asked to leave the podium.
"... Ferrie probably first encountered Oswald in 1955, when Ferrie commanded the Louisiana Civil Air Patrol in which the teenager took part. In the summer of 1963, according to Delphine Roberts, one at least one occasion Oswald and Ferrie went together to a Cuban exile training camp near New Orleans to take rifle practice. Further, many other witnesses would come forward during a Frontline 1993 investigation, also claiming to have seen Oswald and Ferrie together at a Cuban exile paramilitary base that summer.
"Born in Cleveland in 1918, Ferrie had originally studied theology in hopes of becoming an ordained priest, but departed seminar school because of 'emotional instability.' Hired as a pilot by Eastern Airlines in 1951, he soon moved to New Orleans.
"In August 1961. Ferrie was arrested twice by Jefferson Parish, Louisiana police and charged with 'indecent behavior with three juvenile boys.' The New Orleans States-Item reported that 'authorities claim he used alcohol, hypnotism and the enticement of flying toward the youngsters into committing indecent acts.'
"Sergio Aracha-Smith, Ferrie's partner in anti-Castro activities, sought to intervene on his behalf. But Eastern Airlines removed Ferrie from its payroll, and the Federal Aviation Administration opened an investigation into the charges. That was when Ferrie turned to G. Wray Gill, a lawyer for Carlos Marcello in the mobsters fight against conspiracy and perjury charges brought by Robert Kennedy. Gill agreed to represent Ferrie in exchange for his investigative work 'on other cases.'
"Ferrie simultaneously made an arrangement with Banister in February 1962. Ferrie's work included analyzing autopsy reports in exchange for Banister's investigative services on his behalf. According to another of Banister's secretaries, Mary Brengel, Banister was also assisting Carlos Marcello in his fight to stop the Kennedys from deporting him. Aracha-Smith, too, had a relationship with Marcello. An FBI report of April 1961 indicated that when Aracha-Smith began seeking funds for anti-Castro activities, Marcello offered a 'substantial donation' in exchange for a guarantee of gambling rights in Havana after Castro was overthrown."
(The Man Who Knew Too Much, Dick Russell, pgs. 256-257)
Opinions concerning Ferrie seem to very widely within the JFK assassination research community, with some feeling he played a crucial role in the conspiracy while others believe that he was a patsy. Judyth Vary Baker's Me and Lee further stirred the pot by depicting Ferrie as a patriot and Kennedy supporter who had been working to infiltrate the cabal plotting Kennedy's assassination. Few, however, dispute the fact that Ferrie was an arch pedophile.
"... in July 1961, New Orleans police detectives begun an investigation into Ferrie's activities with young boys he had contact through the Civil Air Patrol Squadron he operated. This investigation, apparently the second of several into Ferrie's activities, began after New Orleans police were assigned a case involving a 15-year-old 'runaway juvenile' named Alexander Landry, Jr. Young Landry, according to his parents and police reports, had run away from home, but was found 24-hours later 'at the home of Capt. Dave Ferrie, a pilot with Eastern Air Lines.
"Detectives who met Landry's parents quickly discovered that Ferrie was not only sexually molesting young Landry, but also was allowing several other young boys, who were members of his CAT squad, to live in his home. Investigating officers visited the homes of these boys, and at least two of these young teens told police that Ferrie had sexually molested them. Additionally, both boys stated that Ferrie 'was a hypnotist' and that they once saw Ferrie put [another boy] under hypnosis and tell him that he should 'forget his girlfriend.' The two boys also told investigating detectives 'Ferrie hated women,' and that he 'could not stand being around them.'
"Investigators also learned that David Ferrie had an 'untoward, crimes against nature' relationship with another boy named Layton Martens, who, according to police reports, was working in the Balter Building at 434 Camp Street in downtown New Orleans. There, Martens was employed by a 'Cuban organization helping Cuban refugees' and headed by Mr. [Sergio] Arcacha Smith. The same police reports state that both Ferrie and Layton Martens had volunteered their services to Arcacha Smith 'after the Cuban situation broke...'
"The investigation into David Ferrie's unlawful and perverse activities with young boys would quickly become extremely complex, involving well over 20 boys, and Ferrie and Arcacha Smith, as well as several unidentified Cubans, making strong-arm efforts to suppress evidence and threatening bodily harm to several of the young boys interviewed by detectives. Indeed, Arcacha Smith and an unidentified Cuban, according to police files, visited at least one boy at his place of work, telling the young teen that he would seriously regret talking any further to investigators about Ferrie. The convoluted case would also provoke a number of issues that, today, remain unexplained and strange.
"First, a number of the boys interviewed by New Orleans police stated that they had traveled to Cuba with Ferrie and others a number of times after the island's takeover by Fidel Castro. One youth, Al Landry, according to police reports, said 'that he had been to Cuba on several occasions since the revolution and stated that America should wake up because the Russians are 90 miles away.' Unknown is why Ferrie took these youths to Cuba 1960 and 1961, and what they did in Cuba while there.
"Another youth told police the David Ferrie had taken several boys to Honduras 'to do some mining' and that additional trips to Latin America were planned by Ferrie... Why was very taking young boys to hunt doors? What sort of 'mining' were they doing there?
"David Ferrie, when questioned by the police on August 21, 1961, said that he had 'a degree in psychology, but only gave advice'' to people and treated nobody. Neighbors who lived near Ferrie's home told detectives that they 'understood that Ferrie was a psychologist' and that 'a steady stream of boys were in and out of Ferrie's home' for what some thought was help with problems.
"A number of the boys sexually molested by Ferrie were taken by law enforcement authorities to the Youth Study Center in New Orleans. The Center is a division of the city's Human Services Department, chartered 'to provide secure detention to youth, ages 8-16 that have been arrested and are in pre-trial status.' The Center, which remains open today, also provides educational classes for housed youth. Since some of these boys molested by Ferrie had not been arrested, the reason for taking them to the Center is unclear and unexplained by police reports.
"According to a former New Orleans resident, who is closely related to two of the boys sexually molested by Ferrie and today lives in northern New York: 'The Youth Study Center has been a hotbed of corruption, sexual abuse, police brutality, and God only knows what else for decades. I understand that it all still goes on today. [David] Ferrie used to go there posing as a doctor of some sort, some sort of sham, to recruit kids... He [Ferrie] took a lot of kids to Cuba, Guatemala and Honduras. Why? I don't know... He was an amateur hypnotist, learned out of a book, I guess, and he practiced trance stuff on a lot of boys. I understand that, besides Youth Study Center visits he went to the East [Louisiana] State Hospital a lot, where some of his boys were taken for treatment. There were rumors and stories for years before I left [Louisiana] that Ferrie was in bed, no pun intended, with one of the doctors there, who was a drug addict... Ferrie wanted the doctor to not treat the boys... the crazy rumor was that the hospital was treating the boys with LSD to stop them from becoming homosexuals and Ferrie hated that.'"
(A Secret Order, H.P. Albarelli, Jr., pgs. 78-80)
|a teenage Oswald (far right with circle around head) in David Ferrie's (far left, wearing helmet) Civil Air Patrol unit|
"There has been much speculation over the past several decades, based on seemingly credible information, that Jack Martin greatly disliked David Ferrie and that he fabricated the story about Oswald having Ferrie's library card. However, the alleged fabrication seem strange, as it would be so easily disproved by Ferrie, producing his library card, which Ferrie did with the FBI agents on November 27, 1963. Martin was clearly aware that Ferrie had known Oswald from as far back as 1954-1955 and had also informed FBI agents that on one of his visits to Ferrie's home years before, he had seen CAP group photos on the wall that included Oswald in some of them, so why not simply emphasize that relationship if Martin's objective had been to tie Ferrie to Oswald and JFK's murder.
"There is also overlooked issue that Martin may not have been who he claimed to be. In 1963 and beyond, Jean Pierre Lafitte, an asset and sometimes contractor for the CIA and FBI since 1952, often frequented and worked in New Orleans. Using the aliases 'Jean Martin,' 'Jack Martin,' a 'John Martin.' Additionally, Lafitte had mysterious dealings with Guy banister and Clay Shaw.... Not to complicate matters, but it should be noted that Jack S. Martin had in early 1957 spent time in the psychiatric ward at New Orleans' Charity Hospital, were some patients from the East Louisiana State Hospital were transferred after that have been used as subjects in LSD and other experiments."
(ibid, pgs. 81-82)
Even more bizarre is the possibility that Ferrie and Jack Martin were both ordained bishops in a church known as the American Orthodox Catholic Church. Some have alleged that Ferrie was the only one ordained in the AOCC (Judyth Vary Baker insists, however, the Ferrie was never ordained and that Martin was the member of the church, but her account is highly dubious) while Martin was a member of the Universal Life Church (which some believe Fred Lee Crisman was also a member of). Regardless, the appearance of these bizarre, fringe Christian sects throughout the JFK assassination will take on a truly sinister air in a future installment. Stay tuned.