Bernard Fensterwald

Bernard Fensterwald

Bernard Fensterwald, the son of a wealthy clothing merchant, was born Nashville, Tennessee, on 2nd August, 1921. Fensterwald served in the US Navy during the Second World War.

Fensterwald graduated from Harvard Law School in 1949. He entered the Georgetown University School of Advanced International Studies, a private institution, and received an M.A. in 1950. From 1951 to 1956 Fensterwald worked for the State Department as an Assistant Legal Advisor. This included defending State Department employees accused by Joseph McCarthy of being members of the American Communist Party.

In 1957 Fensterwald was hired by Thomas C. Hennings as an investigator for the Senate Committee on Constitutional Rights. Later that year Fensterwald visited the Soviet Union. According to Alan Weberman on his return the FBI stated, "Fensterwald has gone out of his way to be helpful."

Fensterwald also worked as a foreign policy advisor to Estes Kefauver. On March 12, 1961, Fensterwald became an investigator for the Senate Antitrust and Monopoly Subcommittee that was headed by Kefauver. However the two men fell out and later that year Kefauver sacked Fensterwald.

Edward V. Long selected Fensterwald as his Chief Counsel when he had been accused of being corruptly involved with Jimmy Hoffa. The two men lived in the same apartment building in Washington. Long was also connected to Robert Maheu and Sam Giancana.

In 1967 Long was called before the Senate Ethics Committee and questioned about his connections to Hoffa. As a result of this investigation Long was forced to resign in December 1968. Long's book, The Intruders, was dedicated to Fensterwald.

Fensterwald became involved with Jim Garrison and his investigation of the John F. Kennedy assassination. In January 1969, Fensterwald joined forces with Richard E. Sprague to form the Committee To Investigate Assassinations, which was mainly concerned with finding the people responsible for killing Kennedy. As a result of the investigation Fensterwald and Michael Ewing co-authored Assassination of JFK: Coincidence or Conspiracy.

In 1974 Richard Case Nagell employed Fensterwald as his lawyer. In September, 1963, Nagell had walked into a bank in El Paso, Texas, and fired two shots into the ceiling and then waited to be arrested. Nagell claimed he did this to isolate himself from the assassination plot. This was successful and Nagell was charged with armed robbery and ended up spending the next five years in prison.

On his release Nagell told Jim Garrison about his knowledge of the assassination of John F. Kennedy . He claimed that David Ferrie, Guy Banister, and Clay Shaw were involved in this plot with Lee Harvey Oswald. However, Garrison decided against using him as a witness in the court-case against Shaw.

Fensterwald employed Lou Russell as a private detective to help him with some of his legal cases. One of Russell's first tasks was to investigate the journalist Jack Anderson. Russell also purchased $3,000 in electronic eavesdropping equipment from John Leon of Allied Investigators. Russell's friend, Charles F. Knight, was told that this equipment had been purchased for James W. McCord. At the time, Russell also did part-time work for McCord. This equipment was used to tape the telephone conversations between politicians based at the Democratic Party National Committee and a small group of prostitutes run by Phillip Mackin Bailley that worked their trade in the Columbia Plaza.

On 16th June, 1972, Lou Russell spent time at his daughter's house in Benedict, Maryland. That evening Russell traveled to Washington and spent between 8.30 until 10.30 p.m. in the Howard Johnson's Motel. This was the motel where those involved in the Watergate burglary were staying. However, Russell later told FBI agents that he did not meet his employer, James W. McCord, at the motel. Russell then said he drove back to his daughters in Maryland.

Soon after midnight Russell told his daughter he had to return to Washington to do "some work for McCord" that night. It was estimated that he arrived back at the Howard Johnson's Motel at around 12.45 a.m. At 1.30 a.m. Russell had a meeting with McCord. It is not clear what role Russell played in the Watergate break-in. Jim Hougan has suggested that he was helping McCord to "sabotage the break-in".

Later that night Frank Sturgis, Virgilio Gonzalez, Eugenio Martinez, Bernard L. Barker and James W. McCord were arrested while in the Democratic Party headquarters in Watergate. McCord employed Fensterwald as his lawyer.

On 21st December, 1972, James W. McCord wrote a letter to Jack Caulfield: " Sorry to have to write you this letter but felt you had to know. if Helms goes, and if the WG (Watergate) operation is laid at the CIA's feet, where it does not belong, every tree in the forest will fall. It will be a scorched desert. The whole matter is at the precipice right now. Just pass the message that if they want it to blow, they are on exactly the right course. I'm sorry that you will get hurt in the fallout.”

Caulfield was unable to persuade Richard Nixon to leave the CIA alone. On 30th January, 1973, McCord, Gordon Liddy, Frank Sturgis, E. Howard Hunt, Virgilio Gonzalez, Eugenio Martinez, and Bernard L. Barker were convicted of conspiracy, burglary and wiretapping.

In February, 1973, Richard Helms was sacked by Nixon. The following month James W. McCord carried out his threat. On 19th March, 1973, McCord wrote a letter to Judge John J. Sirica claiming that the defendants had pleaded guilty under pressure (from John Dean and John N. Mitchell) and that perjury had been committed.

James W. McCord also gave more details about Operation Gemstone. In a statement given to Sam Ervin on 20th May he claimed that there was a plot to steal certain documents from the safe of Hank Greenspun, the editor of the Las Vegas Sun. According to McCord, the plot was organized by John N. Mitchell, Gordon Liddy and E. Howard Hunt were to carry out the break-in and that people connected to Howard Hughes were to supply them with a getaway plane.

In 1974 McCord published a book on his involvement in Watergate, A Piece of Tape - The Watergate Story: Fact and Fiction. McCord claimed that Dorothy Hunt told him that her husband, E. Howard Hunt, had "information which would impeach the President (Nixon)". McCord also wrote: "The Watergate operation was not a CIA operation. The Cubans may have been misled by others into believing that it was a CIA operation. I know for a fact that it was not."

In April 1973, Lou Russell suffered a heart attack. However, despite being unable to work, James W. McCord continued to pay him as an employee of Security International. Russell did not have a bank account and Fensterwald paid his cheques into his Committee to Investigate Assassinations.

Another of Fensterwald's famous client was James Earl Ray, the man who had been found guilty of killing Martin Luther King. In June 1974 Fensterwald filed a motion to grant Ray a new trial on the basis of alleged collusion between his former attorney and the author William Bradford Huie. In 1976 Ray dismissed Fensterwald as his lawyer. Fensterwald also represented Andrew St. George.

On 24th September, 1978, John Paisley, the former CIA official, took a trip on his motorized sailboat on Chesapeake Bay. Two days later his boat was found moored in Solomons, Maryland. Paisley's body was found in Maryland's Patuxent River. The body was fixed to diving weights. He had been shot in the head. Police investigators described it as "an execution-type murder". However, officially Paisley's death was recorded as a suicide. In June 1979 Fensterwald represented Paisley's family but was unable to solve the case.

According to Robert D. Morrow, Fensterwald in February, 1991 arranged "to interview an Air Force colonel... who I had identified as the possible bagman (responsible for paying the conspirators) for the JFK assassination". Morrow told Gus Russo that "Bud is going to get himself killed" if he went ahead with this interview.

On April 2, 1991, Bernard Fensterwald, 69, died of a heart attack at his home in Alexandria, Virginia. Robert D. Morrow is convinced he was murdered but his wife insists he died of natural causes.

Almost immediately after the issuance of the Warren Report, a spate of books and articles appeared which disputed the. Commissions basic conclusions. Many of the more responsible ones, including Sylvia' Meagher's Accessories After the Fact and Josiah Thompson's Six Seconds in Dallas, clearly demond strafed the physical impossibility of the "single' bullet" theory and the improbability of many of the other basic conclusions and remarked upon the almost endless number of strange "connections" and "leads" which were ignored by the Commission in a desireto make the facts fit their conclusions...

More recently, there have been a number of further reviews of the Warren Commission's conclusion. There was a complete whitewash of them in 1974, conducted by the so-called Rockefeller Commission; under the tutelage of David Belin, formerly counsel to the Warren Commission. Representative Don Edwards of California held hearings on the FBI's destruction of crucial evidence in the case: The Senate Intelligence Committee, chaired by Senator Frank Church, conducted an investigation of the CIA-Mafia plots against the Castro brothers and concluded that all of the facts surrounding the plots were wrongfully withheld from the Warren Commission. A subcommittee of the Church Committee, consisting of Senators Richard Schweiker and Gary Hart, conducted. a preliminary survey into the quebtioning of CIA-FBI cooperation (or lack thereof) with the Warren Commission, and they concluded that many leads were not followed and much information was withheld.

One of the major problems confronting investigators of the JFK murder is the unavailability of crucial documentary evidence. President Johnson began the process of hiding the evidence when he signed an executive order in 1965 which provided that all of the Warren Commission's materials would be kept in the National Archives but which also permitted the various government agencies, such as the CIA and FBI, to require the continual classification until the year 2039 of their records which had gone to the Commission.

The Senate investigators finally established that FBI Director Hoover not only had prepared secret "derogatory dossiers" on the critics of the Warren Commission over the years, but had even ordered the preparation of similar "damaging" reports about staff members of the Warren Commission. Whether FBI Director Hoover intended to use these dossiers for purposes of blackmail has never been determined.

Although it was not until eleven years after the murder of John F. Kennedy that the FBI's crude harassment and surveillance of various assassination researchers and investigators became officially documented, other information about it had previously surfaced.

Mark Lane, the long time critic of the Warren Report has often spoken of FBI harassment and surveillance directed against him. While many observers were at first skeptical about Lane's characteristically vocal allegations against the FBI, the list of classified Warren Commission documents that was later released substantiated Lane's charges, as it contained several FBI files about him. Lane had earlier uncovered a February 24, 1964 Warren Commission memorandum from staff counsel Harold Willens to General Counsel J. Lee Rankin. The memorandum revealed that FBI agents had Lane's movements and lectures under surveillance, and were forwarding their reports to the Warren Commission.

In March, 1967, the official list of secret Commission documents then being held in a National Archives vault included at least seven FBI files on Lane, which were classified on supposed grounds of "national security." Among these secret Bureau reports were the following: Warren Commission Document 489, "Mark Lane, Buffalo appearances;" Warren Commission Document 694, "Various Mark Lane appearances;" Warren Commission Document 763, "Mark Lane appearances;" and Warren Commission Document 1457, "Mark Lane and his trip to Europe."

In at least one documented instance, the CIA had been equally avid in "compiling" information on another critic, the noted European writer Joachim Joesten, who had written an early "conspiracy theory" book, titled Oswald: Assassin or Fall Guy (Marzani and Munsell Publishers, Inc., 1964, West Germany). A Warren Commission file (Document 1532), declassified years later, revealed that the CIA had turned to an unusual source in their effort to investigate Joesten. According to the document, which consists of a CIA memorandum of October 1, 1964, written by Richard Helms' staff, the CIA conducted a search of some of Adolph Hitler's Gestapo files for information on Joesten.

Joachim Joesten, an opponent of the Hitler regime in Germany, was a survivor of one of the more infamous concentration camps. The Helms memorandum reveals that Helms' CIA aides had compiled information on Joesten's alleged political instability - information taken from Gestapo security files of the Third Reich, dated 1936 and 1937. In one instance, Helms' aides had used data on Joesten which had been gathered by Hitler's Chief of S.S. on November 8, 1937. While the CIA memorandum did not mention it, there was good reason for the Third Reich's efforts to compile a dossier on Joesten. Three days earlier, on November 5, 1937, at the infamous "Hossbach Conference," Adolph Hitler had informed Hermann Goering and his other top lieutenants of his plan to launch a world war by invading Europe."

In late 1975, during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing that featured the questioning of top FBI officials, Senator Richard Schweiker disclosed other secret FBI surveillance of Warren Commission critics. Senator Schweiker disclosed new information from a November 8, 1966 memorandum by J. Edgar Hoover, relating to other dossiers on the critics. According to Schweiker, "Seven individuals [were] listed, some of their files... not only included derogatory information, but sex pictures to boot.

During the Senate Committee session, Schweiker also disclosed that "we came across another FBI letter several months later on another of the critic's personal files. I think it is January 30, 1967. Here, almost three months apart, is an ongoing campaign to personally derogate people who differed politically. In this case it was the Warren Commission [critics].

As will be seen in the chapter on "Links to Watergate," copies - of the FBI's "derogatory dossier" on another leading Warren Commission critic, associated with Mark Lane, were later distributed through the Nixon White House by secret Nixon investigator John Caulfield, John Dean, and H. R. Haldeman's top aides.

Still further information relating to FBI-CIA surveillance of the Warren Commission critics was disclosed in January, 1975 by Senator Howard Baker and the New York Times. On January 17, 1975, the Times disclosed that Senator Baker had come across an extensive CIA dossier on Bernard Fensterwald, Jr., the Director of the Committee to Investigate Assassinations, during the course of Baker's service on the Senate Watergate Committee. Senator Baker was then probing various areas of CIA involvement in the Watergate conspiracy. The New York Times reported that Baker believed the dossier on Fensterwald indicated that the Agency was conducting domestic activities or surveillances - prohibited by the Agency charter's ban on domestic involvement.

Among the items contained in the CIA dossier on Fensterwald was an Agency report of May 12, 1972 titled "#553 989." The CIA report indicated that this detailed surveillance was conducted under the joint auspices of the CIA and the Washington, D. C. Metropolitan Police Intelligence Unit. D. Police involvement with the CIA, which in some cases was illegal, subsequently erupted into a scandal which resulted in an internal police investigation in 1975 and 1976, as well as a Congressional investigation.

In the mid-1960's Senator Edward V. Long was approached by Teamster Union boss James Hoffa, who was shopping for a congressional committee to investigate the tactics of United States Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy. Jimmy Hoffa was intent on retaliating against United States Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy for having exposed the connections of the Teamsters Union to organized crime, and for having indicted him on wiretapped evidence. Senator Edward V. Long agreed to take up Jimmy Hoffa's fight against Robert F. Kennedy's alleged violations of civil liberties - for a price.

Senator Edward V. Long was connected to Jimmy Hoffa through Attorney Morris Shenker, who worked on a five-figure retainer for Jimmy Hoffa. Long had received $48,000 from Morris Shenker for having referred Jimmy Hoffa to him. Long admitted living in the same Washington, D.C., apartment building as Jimmy Hoffa and said he had met him on several occasions.

Senator Edward V. Long selected Bernard Fensterwald as his Chief Counsel. Bernard Fensterwald was described as a heavy John F. Kennedy financial supporter who harbored a grudge against the Kennedys for having failed to give him the Ambassadorial post he had coveted. Bernard Fensterwald demanded the FBI reveal the names of organized crime figures who were the Subjects of mail covers.

Senator Edward V. Long planned to call Robert Maheu to testify about invasions of privacy by private investigators. The CIA feared that its involvement with Robert Maheu and Johnny Rosselli would have surfaced during these hearings. The CIA reported: "Upon notification for appearance before the Subcommittee, Mr. Maheu contacted his attorney, Edward Morgan of Washington, D.C. Mr. Morgan in turned contacted Mr. Morris Shenker, an attorney in Saint Louis, Missouri, who personally knows Senator Edward V. Long. It is reported that a meeting was arranged to discuss the appearance of Mr. Maheu before the Subcommittee which meeting was attended by Senator Long, his staff assistant Mr. Bernard Fensterwald (who is performing the staff work for the Subcommittee hearings) Mr. Morgan and Mr. Shenker."

On June 6, 1966, Robert Maheu told Director of Assistant Deputy Director of Security, (IOS) James P. O'Connell, that he got "the impression from Morgan, who is still dealing with the Saint Louis attorney, a personal friend of Senator Long, that the Committee has done some additional checking, and earlier information regarding Maheu's activities may not be as solid as earlier believed. I next asked Robert Maheu if Bernard Fensterwald had actually identified Sam Giancana, Onassis, Niarchus etc. by name as he had previously indicated to Colonel Sheffield Edwards and myself. He replied in the affirmative, and speculated that this convinced him someone has been 'talking.' He conjectured that several people knew about the bug on Onassis's New York office, including Taggart who, to date, has not contacted him. (Deleted) former CIA employee, and a John Geraghty (phonetic), a free lance newspaperman who was employed by him at the time. In the case of Sam, Ed Dubois and a couple of his technicians were aware of Maheu's tie-in with Giancanna. While Bob was not identified in the press as being involved, he was definitely linked as a result of the technicians identified in the press as being involved, he was definitely linked as a result of the technician, who, when arrested and detained at the Sheriff's office in Las Vegas, failing to locate Dubois, telephoned Maheu directly at the Kennelworth Hotel, Miami Beach, in the presence of Sheriff's personnel, to advise him of his compromise. According to Maheu, neither Dubois nor his employees, were aware of the true relationship between Maheu and Sam." The CIA then reported: "According to Maheu, Shenker has some strong hold on Senator Long and also has Bernard Fensterwald indebted to him as he got Fensterwald his job...Maheu claims that this case could be "closed-up" if we merely approach Senator Long, and say that the questioning of Maheu might be harmful to the national security. He implies that while Senator Long has agreed not to call him, the Senator is looking for something on which to base this decision and our approach would be sufficient to clinch the situation." The CIA felt "...Fensterwald will approach us about any problem areas from our point of view." [CIA Memo DD/CIA from Houston 6.21.66]

The CIA reported: "In 1966 information was received by the Agency indicating that the Senate Administrative Practices Subcommittee, under the chairmanship of Senator Edward Long, had advised Maheu that his testimony was desired concerning his relationship with Onassis, Savros Niarchos, Sam Giancanna and (Deleted). The Subcommittee interest was invasion of privacy and particularly the use of audio devices by private investigators. In July 1966, Senator Long was alerted to the fact that the Agency had had sensitive operational contacts with Maheu. Senator Long was told that the Agency had used Maheu over the years, on a number of occasions, but that he never had been asked to engage in any wiretapping and had never engaged in any such activities on our behalf. Office of Security files do not indicate whether or not Maheu did appear before this Subcommittee, although it appears that he did not."

Robert Maheu never testified. The subcommittee held widely publicized hearings and damaged Robert F. Kennedy, but not the CIA. The CIA compiled a dossier on Senator Edward V. Long.

The Internal Revenue Service leaked word of Morris Shenker's payment to Senator Edward V. Long to William Lambert of Life magazine. When William Lampert's piece appeared, Bernard Fensterwald came to the defense of Senator Edward V. The FBI stated: "A review of data regarding certain of Long's legal clients (deleted) shows connections with the hoodlum element and activities of questionable legality." (FBI 92-6054-2227) In January 1975 Bernard Fensterwald testified on behalf of Morris Shenker at a Hearing of the Gaming Control Board in Nevada.

In 1967 Senator Edward V. Long was called before the Senate Ethics Committee and questioned about his connections to Jimmy Hoffa. In 1967 Frederick Praeger published The Intruders by Senator Edward V. The book was dedicated to Fensterwald. Long was forced to resign in December 1968. The government service of Bernard Fensterwald ended with the downfall of Senator Edward V. (FBI WFO 112697-1; NYT 3.28.73)

Committee Vice Chairman Rep. Henry Gonzalez, the Texas Democrat who introduced the first resolution calling for an assassination inquiry, has privately voiced his strong opposition to Fensterwald having any role on the committee, even as an unofficial advisor... In a telephone interview Fensterwald first acknowledged that he had connections with the CIA and then scoffed at the suggestion. 'I am on the payroll,' he said. However, when pressed, he said he had 'nothing to do with the CIA. There us absolutely no reason to think I am a member of the CIA, absolutely no vestige of evidence of any kind.

Michael J. Satchell: "The Committee To Investigate Assassinations has long been suspected by some people of being somehow connected with the CIA and you yourself being labeled possibly a CIA agent or CIA plant. Are you in fact a CIA agent of any sort?"

Bernard Fensterwald: "No, I'm a full-time lawyer. Neither I, nor my partner, have ever been affiliated with the CIA, or worked for the CIA ,either with, or without, pay in any way, shape or form. I have no idea where the rumor started. I don't know anyone that knows anything about my history that has ever made such an accusation. On the converse side, going back to the early 1960's, when I worked for the Senate, as counsel for one of its committees, I did an investigation on the CIA, and since then I have represented a number of clients in cases against the CIA, to the extent that if there's any evidence at all, it points in the other direction."

A few days after the August 6, 1990, news conference, a friend of mine noticed a document in the office of Bud Fensterwald, who was the head of the Assassination Archives Records Center in Washington. Fensterwald had a report on his desk, an interview that had been conducted by Kevin Walsh with a man named Philip Jordan. Philip Jordan was the mysterious Mr. X who Ricky White kept referring to. Philip Jordan was in a position to know whether that story was true or not, and what he told Kevin Walsh was the story was not true. Yet Fensterwald and others stood by as Ricky White claimed that his father killed Kennedy. It is just absolutely outrageous to me that these kind of things go on.

I am not sure there can be legislation to prevent it, but if that is part of your work, I would very, very highly, strongly urge you to come up with some legislation that would provide some criminal penalties for these people who come up with these phony stories.

According to Alch, he first met Fensterwald at a meeting with McCord on March 23. At that meeting Fensterwald turned to McCord, saying, "The reporters have been asking me whether or not you or I had ever had any past relationship. I told them that we had." McCord, according to Alch, "looked up with a surprised expression.

"Well, after all," Fensterwald said, "you have, in the past, submitted to me checks which were donations to the Committee for Investigation of the Assassination of the President." Mr. McCord smiled and said, "Oh, yes, that's right."

In fact, McCord does not seem to have made any such "donations." As Fensterwald recalls, he sometimes converted to cash Lou Russell's payroll checks from McCord Associates. He did so, he says, as a favor to Russell, a sometime employee of Fensterwald's. This was necessary, according to the lawyer, because Russell did not himself have a bank account, and so had trouble cashing his checks from McCord. In the course of translating McCord's checks into cash on Russell's behalf, Fensterwald would deposit them in his own personal account or, on occasion, to an account belonging to the Committee to Investigate Assassinations. The practice involved an estimated six to ten checks, and had been current at the time of the Watergate arrests.

In the context of McCord's dramatic turnabout and whispers suggesting that Fensterwald was himself a deep-cover CIA agent,' the affair was at once complicated and controversial. No one could be certain precisely what the matter involved. On the one hand, it appeared that Russell, or McCord, was a "contributor" to the Committee to Investigate Assassinations-if true, an exotic interest for a Nixon security agent such as McCord. On the other hand, Fensterwald's explanation suggested that there had been an exchange of checks for the simple convenience of Lou Russell-that is to say, it was "a wash" without being "a laundry." In the climate of the time, however, there were some who voiced the opinion that the checkcashing procedure meant that Russell was actually in the employ of Fensterwald while technically on the payroll of McCord and working at the Committee to Re-elect the President.

The Senate did its best to learn the truth, questioning both Alch and Fensterwald, but proved unable to resolve the matter. Indeed, Senate questioning served only to deepen the mystery. In its interrogation of Russell's patron, William Birely, the Senate inquired about Russell's financial condition. Despite the detective's full-time employment by McCord, and his occasional work for other clients, he appeared to have been in a state of virtual poverty until Birely's intervention after the Watergate arrests, whereupon, as we have seen, Russell's material condition improved by quantum leaps. In November 1972, three days after Nixon's election, Russell purchased more than $4,000 in stock of the Thurmont Bank, a bank in which Birely was then a director. Five months later, on March 23, 1973, Russell purchased an additional 274 shares in the Thurmont Bank, paying for them with a check in the amount of $20,745. A few days later, Russell sold those same shares at a profit of $2,445. The first transaction had been handled by Birely's son-in-law, and the second by Birely himself. Birely insisted that the transactions were entirely lawful, and perhaps they were. What was more to the point, however, was the question of Russell's sudden wealth-and the disappearance of that money upon his death. Senate investigators privately concluded that Russell had served as a "straw man" in the stock transactions and that the money had not in fact been his own. They were convinced that the matter was somehow connected to Russell's relationship with McCord, but no one could say just how. In the confusion, the investigators appear to have overlooked a startling coincidence: the improbable stock transaction, involving more than $zo,ooo that Russell plainly did not have, took place on March 23, 1973, the same day that James McCord's Watergate-busting letter to Judge Sirica was made public in open court.

When McCord came out with the March 19 letter to Sirica he simultaneously dropped Alch and picked up a new lawyer, Bernard Fensterwald. Fensterwald is a subcanyon in the McCord sidecanyon and I do not mean to guess what one might come upon at the end of it, but it is worthy of brief, reconnaissance.

The given version is that McCord got to know about Fensterwald when Fensterwald appeared as a volunteer in the bail-raising committee run by'McCord's wife, Ruth. This committee was active in December when McCord was first considering making his move against Alch, and Fensterwald was working with it at that time.

Fensterwald is a serious figure in assassination conspiracy research circles. He was the founder, main moneybags, and only executive officer of a small Washington organization set up in 1969 called the Committee to Investigate Assassinations. Fensterwald was more or less closely associated with New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison. Garrison was at that moment well embarked on a legal campaign against the late Clay Shaw that actually threatened to expose in open court a real corner of the Kennedy assassination cabal and its strange CIA ties. Fensterwald's committee was presumably formed as a kind of PR instrument of Garrison's operation at a moment when the chances seemed strong that Garrison would actually win a conviction - and from it, a string of convictions ultimately exposing the truth of Dallas.

But long after the Garrison campaign was crushed, Fensterwald kept the CTIA open. Out front, it existed to collect and selectively spread information on the assassinations of JFK, RFK, and King. Before it folded in 1975, the CTIA maintained relationships, generally based on information, not politics, with many of the small band of writers, investigators, and random eccentrics who got actively drawn into the puzzle of the presidential assassinations. Fensterwald is also attorney of record in James Earl Ray's suit for a new trial in the King case. He was alongside Andrew St. George when St. George appeared before an executive session of Symington's Senate Armed Forces Committee growing out of his Harper's piece to which we have several times referred. He was a State Department lawyer for six years (Harvard 1942, Harvard Law 1949) with a minor role in the Joe McCarthy drama. He was briefly attached to RFK's staff then and more extensively later in the RFK-vs.Hoffa phase. He worked for Kefauver's anticrime committee in the 1950s. He reputedly has independent means through a family business in Nashville and is something of a political adventurer with a penchant for cases involving the hypothesis of conspiracy.

The scent of a prior relationship and a larger purpose shared between.McCord and Fensterwald first arose when McCord's CREEP lawyer, Alch, came before Ervin on May 23, 1973, to defend himself against McCord's testimony that Alch had tried to involve McCord in a conspiracy to obstruct justice and hang the CIA for Watergate and so save Nixon.

At no time," said Alch, "did I suggest to Mr. McCord that the so-called CIA defense be utilized for the defense... I merely asked him whether or not there was a factual basis for this contention. McCord's allegation that I announced my .ability to forge his CIA personnel record's with the cooperation of then acting CIA Director Schlesinger is absurd and completely untrue."

Thus secured as to salient, Alch marched to the front attack. The hearts of conspiracy nuts everywhere beat faster : as they heard at last one of their own questions about, Watergate actually being popped in prime time, for Alch was asking what our friend Fensterwald was doing suddenly at the side of McCord...

Alch told the senators that Fensterwald had volunteered to him the information that Fensterwald and McCord had "a past relationship" going before Watergate. Alch said Fensterwald referred to contributions, in fact, that McCord had made to the CTIA. What could be going on?

Two days after Alch told the world this story I visited the 'dilapidated downtown Washington office of Fensterwald's CTIA and tried to get some reaction to Alch's testimony' from Fensterwald's (then) aide and office manager Bob Smith, a small, overwrought, pale, exasperated man of middle age, who was sarcastic and impatient with the idea of a prior McCord-Fensterwald relationship or that something between them might be hidden. Then what about the contributions Alch says Fensterwald says McCord made to, the CTIA? Were there any such contributions? To my surprise, Smith sputtered and said that there were of course no contributions, but that there had been certain irrelevant, money transactions involving McCord, Fensterwald, and the CTIA going back well before Watergate.

Oh?

Smith's story was that Fensterwald's old friend Russell materialized in McCord's ambit when he was hired by McCord's Security International to help handle convention security on contract to the Republican National Committee. When Russell found it difficult to cash his paychecks from McCord's security firm, said Smith, he got into the habit of bringing them around to Fensterwald's office at the CTIA. Russell would sign his McCord check over to the CTIA and Fensterwald would write him a personal check for the like ' amount, which Russell could then easily cash around the corner at Fensterwald's bank. Russell brought the first such check around, recalled Smith, in March 1972. The practice was current as of Watergate. There were, as Smith remembered, about a dozen such checks. The larger, he thought, were for about $500.

Lou Russell was in the Howard Johnson Motel at the very time of the Watergate break-in. He lied to the FBI, about why he was there. Someone set him up after that in a penthouse with a car. He lived on Q St. 7 or 8 blocks from Fensterwald's office when he started exchanging checks in March 1972. He worked for General Security Services Co., which was protecting Watergate at the time of the break-in. Lou Russell was Nixon's chief investigator when Dirty Dick went after Hiss. Nixon - knew Russell very well.

We come now to a man who died under extremely suspicious circumstancesright in the midst of the House Assassinations Committee's investigation. Early in October 1978 I received a clipping from Richard Nagell in the mail. It was from the front page of the October 3 Los Angeles Herald-Examiner and headlined "CIA Mystery Death-Ex-Deputy Director's Body Found Floating in Bay." The subject was John Arthur Paisley, then fifty-five, whose decomposed torso had floated into the mouth of Maryland's Patuxent River and been discovered by a passing pleasure boat. The body, allegedly identified as Paisley's through dental records, was affixed to diving weights. There was a bullet wound in his head, with police investigators speculating on either a suicide "or an execution-type murder." Paisley had last been seen alive aboard his motorized sailboat the Brillig on Chesapeake Bay on September 24. The boat was found aground near his home mooring in Solomons, Maryland, the day after that.

Below the headlines about Paisley, Nagell had inscribed a typed message: "Was he nash? He was nash!" Nagell had drawn a box around one sentence in the article: "Paisley, who lived in Washington, retired in 1974 as deputy director of the CIA's Office of Strategic Research."

Only a few months before this, I had been sitting with Nagell in a West Los Angeles bar when he suddenly said, "Do you know what 'nash' means? The Russians used to use that phrase. It meant he was 'ours' and nobody else's.

When I mentioned "nash" to a couple of sources familiar with the intelligence community, they expressed surprise that I had even heard the term, but reiterated the Russian meaning. Now, in sending the clipping, Nagell appeared to be revealing that John Paisley was "nash" - a Soviet spy inside the CIA.

Officially, Paisley's death was ruled a suicide. But speculation about the activities of this hitherto-publicly unknown CIA official would be rampant among the media in the months ahead. At the time he disappeared, Paisley had been working under a CIA contract to coordinate a Top-Secret government reevaluation of Soviet strategic capabilities and intentions. Now there were grave questions about the sophisticated communications equipment on his boat designed for secret transmissions, and about Paisley's earlier role in the CIA's debriefings of Soviet defectors.

Paisley's widow, Maryann, decided to hire a lawyer to "find out what really happened to my husband." Her choice was Bernard Fensterwald, Jr. Fensterwald had a reputation for taking on controversial cases and clients (including Nagell and Watergate burglar McCord), and I had no reason to suspect that this was anything other than part of his penchant for rattling the skeletons in the CIA's closets.

According to Robert Morrow, Bud Fensterwald was another suspicious death. On page 300 of his book First Hand Knowlege, Morrow wrote that Gus Russo had been interviewing a former Air Force Colonel in Florida whom Morrow had identified as "a possible CIA bag-man in the (JFK) conspiracy." Russo felt that "the man was ready to talk about the assassination," and based on this assessment Fensterwald was planning to go to Florida and interview the Colonel. Morrow warned both Russo and Fensterwald that Fensterwald would be killed if he tried to interview the man. Russo believed him, but Fensterwald laughed it off and asked Morrow to set up a luncheon date with the Colonel. Morrow set up the luncheon for April 11, 1991. "Just days before I was to meet Bud," Morrow says, "I received a call from Bud's secretary that he had died the previous night. Before I could do anything, Bud's body was cremated and an autopsy had not been performed."

Who was the Air Force Colonel in Florida whom Fensterwald was dying to interview? Morrow doesn't name him in the book, but says he was "a good friend and former business associate of Col. Howard Burris," who was LBJ's military aide.

In a 1999 Probe article entitled "Who Is Gus Russo?", Jim DiEugenio says that Russo and John Newman gave a talk at the 1992 ASK conference, and though DiEugenio didn't attend the presentation he heard that Russo's part "centered on some aspects of military intelligence dealing with the assassination. Specifically it concerned Air Force Colonel Delk Simpson, an aquaintance of both LBJ military aide Howard Burris and CIA officer David Atlee Phillips, about whom some significant questions had been raised."

I checked the index of Russo's book Live by the Sword, and found no references to Simpson or Fensterwald, and only one to Morrow, relating to the Cuban exile Mario Kohly.

I found nothing on Delk Simpson in Walt Brown’s Global Index, but the Mary Ferrell Database lists him as O’Wighton Delk Simpson, 1208 Marine Way, Apt. 701-A, North Palm Beach, Florida 33408, date of birth 8/27/11.

He was in the Air Force from 1942 to 1961, “attained rank of Colonel in 1945 (not promoted in 16 years – invited to retire).” From 1948 to 1950 he was Chief of Intelligence, 5th Air Force, Japan. 1959-1961, Special Assistant to Commander-in-Chief Samuel E. Anderson, Air Material Command, Dayton, Ohio. 1961-63, “in charge of industrial intelligence for Martin Aerospace (traveled throughout Europe, headquartered in Paris).” 1963-66, on Washington staff of Martin Marietta Corp.

Ferrell states, “His son, Wighton Delk Simpson, Jr., died "under suspicious circumstances" Dec. 31, 1982, in West Palm Beach, Florida, at age 39. Son had claimed his father was ‘bagman’ for Kennedy assassination. ‘Payoff’ took place in Haiti (remember deMohrenschildt was in Haiti 1963-64). Check Burris and the claim that he was in import-export business with Simpson in Paris.”


Talk:Bernard Fensterwald

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Dialogue: Assassination #5 (1971-07-28)

Mae Brussell Archive Show Notes

Audio for this broadcast available here.

Part of an effort to provide a searchable database of Mae Brussell’s life work. More info on Mae can be found here.

Dialogue: Assassination #5 (1971-07-28) Show Notes

Main Subject(s): Multiple.

– Update on Jim Garrison and his further harassment and discrediting, including a Black Panther’s prison riot in New Orleans which demanded Garrison be removed from his job.

– Mae discusses Ted Kennedy and the Chappaquiddick Incident, as well as her opinion that it was a frame-job to keep Kennedy from running for office.

– Update on DeWayne Wolfer lawsuit involving LAPD and allegations of evidence tampering in RFK assassination.

– Mae touches on examples where evidence was destroyed in the JFK, RFK, and Huey Newton cases.

– Discussion of the Nation Magazine Article “Assassination Investigations: The Irregulars Take the Field” and Bernard Fensterwald and his Committee to Investigate Assassinations.


The CIA’s Mystery Man

The CIA’s extraordinary reporting of Lee Harvey Oswald’s visit to the Soviet Embassy in Mexico City [NYR, April 3] raises several important questions which should be pursued by current Congressional investigations of the Agency. The CIA’s unexplained attribution of Oswald’s name to photographs of a clearly different person is only one of these questions and indeed the CIA could quite conceivably have been the victim, rather than the author, of this misrepresentation.

It would seem however that the CIA itself must accept responsibility for another misrepresentation in its strange message of October 1963 about the unidentified visitor—the erroneous reporting of Oswald’s name as Lee Henry Oswald. Trivial as this admitted error might seem, it was almost certainly not accidental, but the consequence of the bureaucratic decisions some years earlier to open an ongoing file under this incorrect name.

The CIA had compiled a fairly lengthy and essentially correct memo on Lee Harvey Oswald in 1960. But when the State Department asked in October 1960 for information about American defectors living in the Soviet bloc, the CIA replied on November 3 with a radically reduced summary of this memo under the name “Lee Henry Oswald.” The summary was further falsified in two other important respects. Oswald was said to have “visited his mother in Waco, Texas” (rather than Fort Worth—a change that could have protected the Lee Henry Oswald story from being pursued by vigilant investigators).

Oswald was also said to have “renounced his US citizenship” in Moscow—despite State Department reports and a recent official ruling (in a different office of the State Department) that there was no evidence Oswald had done so. As the earlier CIA memo had noted correctly, “The American Embassy wanted him to think it over before hearing his oath renouncing American citizenship.” The issue of Oswald’s “renunciation” had already become, and would continue to be, the subject of controversy between different offices of the US Government and State Department it seems highly likely therefore that the CIA’s falsifications of its own memo may have been deliberate. By substituting a new name—Lee Henry Oswald—it had created the pretext for opening a new file, where unwelcome contrary evidence about the “renunciation” could simply be ignored.

For whatever reasons, the CIA, on December 9, 1960, then did just this—it opened a new file on Lee Henry Oswald. The six lines for “name variants” were left blank, despite the clear instructions on the file request form that “all known aliases and variants (including maiden name, if applicable) must [my italics] be listed.” This suggests that the file, or a computerized summary of it, carried no reference to either Lee Harvey Oswald or the CIA’s original report about his uncompleted renunciation (Commission Document 692).

Other administrators outside the CIA appear to have been alert to this subtle bureaucratic game. In the State Department, where up to now a voluminous correspondence had been conducted under the name “Lee Harvey Oswald,” the next memorandum (of January 26, 1961, Commission Exhibit 2681) refers twice in uncustomary fashion to “Lee Oswald.” The CIA copy of this memo is duly amended to read “Lee Henry Oswald,” even though the same copy also carries on it in large letters the superimposed State Department file stamp of “OSWALD, LEE HARVEY.” Thus the allusion in the October 1963 CIA teletype to “Lee Henry Oswald” seems unlikely to have been a momentary slip or accident, but rather part of an ongoing bureaucratic mystery.

It is of course not at all clear why, as late as October 1963, the CIA perpetuated the fiction of a Lee Henry Oswald. The Rockefeller Commission has now rejected Tad Szulc’s claim that the then Acting Chief of the Mexico City CIA Station—for a six-week period covering Oswald’s visit—was none other than E. Howard Hunt. But there are other questions to be raised about Oswald’s possible connections with Hunt and the CIA.

It is indisputable that Oswald in New Orleans stamped his pro-Castro literature with the 544 Camp St. address which had formerly been used by the Cuban Revolutionary Council (Report, p. 408). This was an anti-Castro front that had been organized by Hunt. (See Hunt, Give Us This Day, pp. 40-44, 182.) Oswald in addition met at least four members of the New Orleans CRC, as well as its registered foreign agent Ronny Caire (22 H 831). One notes moreover that Oswald’s Mexican travel permit followed in numerical sequence that of editor William G. Gaudet, who later volunteered information to the FBI about Jack Ruby in New Orleans (26 H 337), and later still identified himself as a former “employee of CIA” (CD 75.588).

The CIA was also linked to an anti-Castro Cuban who lived in Dallas and who allegedly looked so much like Oswald that he was mistaken for him (CD 23.4). This Cuban, Manuel Rodriguez Orcarberrio, was both a member of the DRE, a CIA front contacted by Oswald, and the Dallas president of Alpha 66, a group implicated in the ongoing plans of the CIA (and specifically, if Szulc can be believed, of Hunt) to assassinate Castro. A Treasury Agent told the Warren Commission about Rodriguez’s attempts to buy arms for Alpha 66. He discovered these while investigating what he called “the right-wing group in Dallas most likely to have been associated with any effort to assassinate the President.” The Warren Commission then obtained an entire file on Manuel Rodriguez Orcarberrio (CD 853) which is still withheld.

These and other closely-related matters should be explored by the Church Committee. For the CIA’s name games in its own files, the activities of Oswald in New Orleans, and the still unexplained story of his alleged Dallas “double” suggest that Oswald was more than a disgruntled loner, persistently neglected and ignored.

Bernard Fensterwald and George O’Toole replies:

Dr. Scott has raised an important issue which parallels the question of the mystery man. We were unaware of the possible significance of the CIA’s substitution of “Henry” for “Harvey” as Oswald’s middle name, and we are grateful to Dr. Scott for calling it to our attention. We certainly agree that the question he has raised should be added to the list of issues to be explored by the Senate and House Committees now investigating the Central Intelligence Agency.

Shortly after publication of our piece, Dr. Paul Hoch, a researcher who has done extensive work on the JFK assassination, obtained a previously classified CIA document from the National Archives bearing on the case of the mystery man. The document, CD 1287, is the memorandum of transmittal from Richard Helms to the Warren Commission which accompanied his affadavit regarding one photograph of the mystery man. The memo refers to the man in the photograph only as “an unidentified individual,” and asks that “this photograph not be reproduced in the Commission’s report, because it would jeopardize a most confidential and productive operation. In addition, it could be embarrassing to the individual involved who as far as this Agency is aware, had no connection with Lee Harvey Oswald or the assassination of President Kennedy.”

The newly de-classified document does nothing to clear up the question of why the CIA believed Oswald and the mystery man were one and the same during an eight-week period prior to November 22, 1963, or why the Warren Commission was eventually satisfied that the incident was a case of mistaken identity and not imposture. The memo seems to imply that protection of the “unidentified individual” from embarrassment took precedence in the CIA’s priorities over the possibility of learning who he really was.

After publication in the April 3 issue of The New York Review, the story and photographs were picked up by the wire services and appeared in scores of newspapers across the country. The photographs have been shown repeatedly on television and one was published in the June 2 issue of U.S. News and World Report. To date we have received no creditable identification of the man.

A copy of The New York Review piece was furnished to Mr. David Belin, Executive director of the Rockefeller Commission, who promised the authors he would comment on the question. To date we have not received his comment. No reference to the matter was made in the Rockefeller Commission’s report, which contained an extensive review of questions recently raised concerning possible involvement of the CIA in the JFK assassination and allegations of CIA ties to Lee Harvey Oswald.

Copies of the article have been furnished to the House and Senate committees currently investigating the CIA and we hope they will be able to obtain additional information on the matter.


What Americans Can Learn From Their Isolationist Past

Excavating the tension between isolationism and internationalism can help restore prudence to U.S. statecraft. Kupchan seeks to do just that in his new book. We present here two timely excerpts.

Editor's Note: The following are two excerpts from Charles Kupchan's recent book Isolationism: A History of America's Efforts to Shield Itself from the World.

From Chapter 2:

That it took from the nation’s birth until 1941 for Americans to abandon their isolationist roots speaks to its long dominance of American politics and statecraft. . . . From its founding until 1898, the United States refused to take on strategic commitments outside North America. Between 1898 and 1941, it defended hemispheric hegemony, but strayed beyond the Western Hemisphere only on a limited and exceptional basis. It is this abstinence that marks the nation as isolationist and makes its rise historically distinctive. While Europe’s great powers were building and defending far-flung empires, the United States for the most part held back. While its peers were seeking to maximize their influence and strength by projecting their power abroad, the United States was building its power only at and close to home. Even after the United States became a country of the top rank by the turn of the twentieth century, it generally shunned rather than strived for geopolitical sway commensurate with its material strength.

Such restraint amid ascent made America’s rise truly exceptional. Moreover, in a country distinguished by its intractable partisan divisions and deep ideological divides, isolationism’s bipartisan support was a rarity. As historian Selig Adler has noted, “Few policies in American history were so fixed and so stable as non-intervention.”

From Chapter 1:

[A] main objective of this book is to refurbish isolationism’s reputation and rediscover the strategic advantages it afforded America during its impressive ascent. This study does not call for the United States to return to isolationism. On the contrary, it maintains that the country should continue to uphold its core strategic commitments in Europe and Asia. But this book does argue that the United States needs to retrench from an excess of foreign commitments in the strategic periphery. In making the case for doing so, it draws lessons from the nation’s isolationist past—exposing its dangers, but also rediscovering its considerable benefits. Rehabilitating isolationism will help ensure that grand strategies of restraint again enter the mainstream of American debate. Contrary to conventional wisdom, limiting foreign entanglement long served America well—and, if pursued in measured fashion, can do so again. In today’s world of economic interdependence, cybernetworks, and aircraft and ballistic missiles, no nation can enjoy strategic immunity. Nonetheless, it is time to reclaim the enduring truth that standing apart from trouble abroad often constitutes wise statecraft.

Rehabilitating isolationism is a tall order given the heavy beating it has taken since the nation’s dangerous and irresponsible bout of passivity during the interwar era. Beginning soon after the country’s entry into World War II in 1941, American officials and opinion makers regularly unleashed unflinching condemnations of isolationism, setting the tone for the generations that followed. President Franklin Roosevelt warned that, “there could be no safety in passivity no sanctuary in isolation.” His successor, Harry Truman, was more strident, referring to isolationism as “a confession of mental and moral bankruptcy,” a “counsel of despair,” and a “futile and vulnerable shield.” Truman’s secretary of state, Dean Acheson, quipped that isolationists wanted to “pull down the blinds and sit in the parlor with a loaded gun, waiting.” As the scholar Robert Tucker wrote in 1972, “in the American political vocabulary there are few terms carrying greater opprobrium than isolationism.”

Through the end of the Cold War and into the twenty-first century, isolationism and its few adherents have continued to be vilified in the harshest of terms. As Secretary of State Kerry was making the case for air strikes against the Syrian regime to retaliate for its use of chemical weapons, he admonished reluctant senators that “this is not the time for armchair isolationism.” Bret Stephens, then a columnist for the Wall Street Journal, wrote that Republican resistance to U.S. strikes was “exposing the isolationist worm eating its way through the GOP apple,” and Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) labeled Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) and other isolationists “wacko birds.” Many members of the Republican foreign policy establishment signed “Never Trump” letters during the 2016 campaign—due in part to Trump’s isolationist and unilateralist leanings. As the scholar Andrew Bacevich has noted, the isolationist label has been a powerful political pejorative since the 1940s—and remains so:

The term isolationism is not likely to disappear from American political discourse anytime soon. It’s too useful. Indeed, employ this verbal cudgel to castigate your opponents and your chances of gaining entrée to the nation’s most prestigious publications improve appreciably. Warn about the revival of isolationism and your prospects of making the grade as a pundit or candidate for high office suddenly brighten.

While opprobrium toward America’s interwar strategy is fully warranted, the broader indictment of isolationism is not. Indeed, aversion to foreign ambition enabled the United States to rise in virtually unmolested fashion over the course of the nineteenth century. As the chapters that follow make clear, isolationism was born of sound strategic logic, not delusion steering clear of foreign entanglement allowed the United States to advance democracy and prosperity at home and to avoid war abroad. This strategy rested on self-evident geographic realities assuming the United States could succeed in getting Europe’s imperial powers to quit its neighborhood, the nation would indeed enjoy relative isolation. As Thomas Jefferson put it, “America has a hemisphere to itself. . . . The insulated state in which nature has placed the American continent, should so far avail it that no spark of war kindled in the other quarters of the globe should be wafted across the wide oceans which separate us from them.” The Founders, and the generations of statesmen that followed, recognized that the United States was blessed with a natural—even if imperfect—security afforded by flanking oceans and weaker and relatively pacific neighbors to its north and south. The lawyer and State Department official Bernard Fensterwald observed as much in 1958: “‘Isolationism’ was a marked success during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries by adhering to this policy, we expanded across the continent and became the strongest single power in the world.”

America’s interwar retreat admittedly constituted a naïve denial of the dangers posed by Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. American policy makers took isolationism way too far their search for strategic immunity ended in strategic delusion. But the isolationist excesses of the interwar era do not justify the blanket indictment of isolationist thinking that has prevailed since World War II. A strategy of detachment has been too thoroughly rejected, preventing Americans from considering and benefiting from its potential merits. Americans counseling pullback should not dismissed as unpatriotic they need to be heard and their arguments carefully considered. Most candidates for high office still feel the need to promise a new American century and the indefinite extension of Pax Americana. Instead, they should feel free to speak forthrightly about how the United States can best navigate a changing global landscape. As historian Christopher Nichols notes, isolationism continues to be denigrated, but its “inherent caution serves as a bulwark against hasty interventions and their likely unintended consequences.”

So, too, would it be a mistake to dismiss the merits of isolationism on the grounds that globalization and interdependence make geopolitical detachment obsolete and infeasible. To be sure, Washington’s “great rule” of nonentanglement emerged when flanking oceans provided a significant measure of strategic immunity and before the United States had emerged as a major power. Times and conditions have indeed changed. In an era of intercontinental missiles and transnational terrorism, adjoining oceans are less protective than they used to be. The United States is currently far more powerful in economic and military terms than it was in the nineteenth century, meaning that many quarters of the globe have become dependent upon an American presence as a source of stability. Globalization has dramatically advanced commercial and financial interdependence, giving the United States a vested interest in defending an open trading order and damping down potential geopolitical disruptions to the flow of goods and finance.


Cuba Libre

In the early days of the Kennedy administration, Cuban exiles reserved their contempt for Castro, who had taken away their homeland. But after the Bay of Pigs invasion, they felt equally betrayed by Kennedy, who had withheld air support during the operation, leaving 1,500 Cuban soldiers stranded and at the mercy of Castro&rsquos army. After Kennedy thwarted subsequent plans to invade, enraged exiles orchestrated the president&rsquos murder with help from their CIA associates, either in retaliation for the deaths of their brothers-in-arms or to frame Castro for Kennedy&rsquos murder, thereby forcing a full-scale U.S. invasion. Oswald, who had tried to infiltrate the anti-Castro movement in New Orleans, was either the exiles&rsquo agent or their patsy.

Believers

HSCA investigator Gaeton Fonzi, authors Bernard Fensterwald (Coincidence or Conspiracy?) and Sylvia Meagher (Accessories After the Fact), and CBS newsman Peter Noyes.

Strange Details

In August 1963 Oswald approached Carlos Bringuier, a New Orleans shopkeeper active in the anti-Castro movement, and asked to join his organization. Four days later Oswald was arrested for disturbing the peace while passing out pro-Castro leaflets&mdashan elaborate scheme, some say, to deflect attention from his involvement in the anti-Castro conspiracy.

Reasons to Believe

&bull Cuban exile Sylvia Odio told the HSCA that in late September 1963, three men showed up at her Dallas apartment and convinced her and her sister that they were members of the cause. Two of the men, &ldquoLeopoldo&rdquo and &ldquoAngelo,&rdquo were Cubans, while the third, &ldquoLeon Oswald,&rdquo was an American, described later as a former Marine, a man who thought Kennedy should be assassinated because of the Bay of Pigs, a good shot, and &ldquokind of nuts.&rdquo Two months later Odio and her sister were shocked when they recognized the president&rsquos assassin: Leon was Lee Harvey Oswald. The HSCA later termed Odio a &ldquocredible&rdquo witness.

&bull Cuban exiles viewed the Bay of Pigs as nothing less than unforgivable treachery on Kennedy&rsquos part. At the end of 1962 he added fuel to the fire when he shut down Operation Mongoose (a CIA program that was preparing Cuban pilots and soldiers for another invasion) in exchange for Khrushchev&rsquos dismantling of Russian missiles on the island. By 1963 the Kennedy administration was cracking down on Cuban exiles, raiding their paramilitary training camps in Louisiana and Florida.

Reasons Not to Believe

&bull Oswald was in Mexico City on the day Odio says he visited her.

&bull Why would virulent anti-communists trust Oswald, a known Red?

Recent Developments

In 1994 Florence Martino told writer Anthony Summers that on the morning of November 22, 1963, her husband, John&mdashan anti-Castro activist&mdashsaid, &ldquoFlo, they&rsquore going to kill him. They&rsquore going to kill him when he gets to Texas.&rdquo Then, she said, John got a bunch of phone calls from Texas. &ldquoI don&rsquot know who called him, but he was on the phone, on the phone, on the phone&hellip&rdquo John Martino, who had once worked for Santos Trafficante, had been imprisoned by Castro from 1959 to 1962. (He later wrote a book, I Was Castro&rsquos Prisoner.) After his release he threw in with Cuban exiles and later claimed that they had framed Oswald. He died in 1975.


Angry Old White Guys

I am thinking about a certain type of man. (The type of person I am thinking about is nearly always a man.)

He is a man of a certain age and, having weathered the trials of life (he will tell you he weathered those trials through grit and determination), he finds it pleasing to appoint himself to a position of superiority over others.

(No one asks him to do this. He simply does it because feeling superior provides some balm against the aches and pains of aging. His friends and family, if he has any, will tell you privately, and with more than a hint of disapproval, that he has always been prone to pass judgment on others.)

I am talking, of course, about Angry Old White Guys. Why are they angry? Because the world is changing without their permission — and they can’t do anything about it.

For the purposes of this post, I’m thinking about two Angry Old White Guys in particular: John McAdams and Bill O’Reilly.

An odd pairing, perhaps. One is an academic (albeit tenuously, as far as we can tell) the other is an author and newspaper columnist best known as host of “The O’Reilly Factor” on Fox.

What makes them fair game for my purposes is that each man has a high profile in the ongoing debate over the assassination of President Kennedy.

McAdams has made a name for himself in the online community as a tireless defender of the Warren Commission’s theory of the assassination.

O’Reilly has co-authored a book, “Killing Kennedy.” (He has also co-authored “Killing Lincoln,” “Killing Jesus,” and “Killing Patton.”)

Each man finds himself in trouble. McAdams attacked a female graduate student by name on his blog and now his job at Marquette appears in jeopardy. (The student has since left Marquette.)

O’Reilly told a lie (Mark Twain would call it a stretcher) about his whereabouts when George de Mohrenschildt died, according to a Jan. 13, 2013 post by Jefferson Morley on his blog, JFKfacts.org.

(De Mohrenschildt was a Russian emigre in Dallas who befriended Lee Harvey Oswald.)

In his post, Morley quotes the passage in “Killing Kennedy” where O’Reilly, then a reporter for a Dallas TV station, claims to have heard the shotgun blast “that marked the suicide of the Russian, assuring that his relationship with Lee Harvey Oswald would never be fully understood.”

De Mohrenschildt died in a house in Manaplan, Florida, according to the Wikipedia entry on de Mohrenschildt. In his post, Morley does a convincing job of establishing that O’Reilly was in Dallas when de Mohrenschildt died.

(De Mohrenschildt had just learned that he would be called to testify before the House Select Committee on Assassinations. The coroner ruled the death a suicide, according to the Wikipedia entry.)

McAdams claims that Marquette is infringing on his free speech rights as a blogger, if the blog he posted on his Warrior blog Feb. 4 is any indication. I’ve been unable to find any response by O’Reilly and/or Fox to the de Mohrenschildt controversy.

But if his vindictive response to the questions raised about O’Reilly’s embellishment of his coverage during the Falklands conflict is any indication (O’Reilly threatened a New York Times reporter), O’Reilly will probably attack the messenger and not the message.

What we have here are two Angry Old White Guys who are in the unaccustomed position of having to account for themselves — something they usually do to others.

But their personal situations are not the point here. The point is that McAdams and O’Reilly have played prominent roles in the JFK debate and that those roles, in my opinion, have been negative. These latest episodes just underscore that.

McAdams’ goal seems to be to shore up the Warren Commission’s conclusions at all costs, as if all of the new information that has come out in the half-century since Dallas has been of no value. He’s like a fundamentalist preacher who rails against all who reject a literal interpretation of the Bible.

And, as I’ve said before, the unscrupulous methods McAdams used in this episode involving Cheryl Abbate (and the episode involving her was not an isolated incident) raise questions about his integrity as a researcher on the Kennedy assassination.

McAdams seems to have vanished from JFKfacts in the wake of the Marquette controversy but that doesn’t absolve Morley for having previously defended McAdams and effectively handing over the blog to him.

If Morley didn’t know about McAdams’ history of unscrupulous conduct at Marquette, he should have.

O’Reilly is a more complex case. As Steve Buttry suggests, https://stevebuttry.wordpress.com/2015/02/23/why-brian-williams-lies-matter-and-bill-oreillys-may-not/, it may be unfair or beside the point to expect the truth from a paid bloviator such as O’Reilly.

But as Buttry also suggests, repeated lying may ultimately exact a price from O’Reilly. (Update: The Huffington Post has a story about allegations that O’Reilly lied about witnessing the murder of four nuns in El Salvador.)

I certainly hope O’Reilly pays a price for lying but I won’t be surprised if he emerges unscathed, as Buttry suggests.

And I won’t be surprised if McAdams winds up alongside O’Reilly on Fox. I say that because McAdams continues to publicly criticize Marquette on his Warrior blog.

His last two posts have been about campus date rape (he faults Marquette for exaggerating the problem) and the perceived problem of political bias at Marquette, as seen by the son of right-wing Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who is a Marquette student, according to McAdams’ post.

McAdams and O’Reilly are part of a trend that is carrying us to a place where facts will matter less than opinion, informed or not. They are not really journalists but that doesn’t mean they have a right to mislead.


Bernard Fensterwald - History

As Nagell told it, he became aware of Lee Harvey Oswald in November 1957, when Oswald and another American ostensibly visited the Soviet embassy in Tokyo. According to Nagell, Oswald was photographed by the Japanese as he entered the embassy. (4) Nagell claimed that he and Oswald met soon after this, when each allegedly played a role in a CIA operation to convince Soviet colonel Nikolai Eroshkin to defect to the US. (5) He also claimed that he and Oswald had together frequented the Queen Bee, a Tokyo nightclub rumored to have been a hotbed of KGB activity. (6)

Nagell claimed that in the fall of 1962, he began working undercover in Mexico City for one "Robert Graham," (7) described to Dick Russell as a "'subordinate' CIA officer whose ultimate reporting reached all the way up to Desmond FitzGerald in the CIA hierarchy." (8) When an agency of the USSR purportedly offered Nagell an intelligence assignment related to the Cuban Missile Crisis, he allegedly consulted Graham for advice. According to Nagell, Graham instructed him to "take the bait," signifying that Nagell would ostensibly be infiltrating the Soviet agency under Graham's supervision. (9) At about this same time, Nagell was allegedly given an assignment concerning Lee Harvey Oswald, though Nagell specified that the task was in no way related to the JFK assassination. (10)

According to Nagell, "Graham" subsequently gave him instructions to "initiate certain action against Mr. Oswald, who was the indispensable tool in the conspiracy" — to try to persuade Oswald "that the deal was phony and if that didn't work . . . to get rid of him."

"Graham" allegedly also assigned Nagell to infiltrate Alpha 66, a militant group of anti-Castro Cuban exiles, in order to verify whether there was any truth to the rumor that members of the group were planning an assassination attempt on President John F. Kennedy. (11) Nagell claimed he had infiltrated the group and determined that it was planning an assassination attempt for the last week of September, probably the 26th, "presumably" in Washington, DC. (12) Nagell claimed that two members of this group had posed as agents of Castro's G-2 intelligence service and had recruited Lee Harvey Oswald into the alleged plot under the pretense that killing JFK would make Oswald a hero in the eyes of Castro and his followers. (13)

According to Nagell, "Graham" subsequently gave him instructions to "initiate certain action against Mr. Oswald, who was the indispensable tool in the conspiracy" — to try to persuade Oswald "that the deal was phony and if that didn't work, and it looked like things were going to progress beyond the talking stage, to get rid of him." (14) As onetime Nagell attorney, Bernard Fensterwald, Jr., recalled, "The USSR ordered Nagell to eliminate Lee Harvey Oswald because they thought it might be an extreme embarrassment to them if he was caught, not because he was one of them, but because of his history." (15)

Nagell said that he refused to go through with the final stage of the plan — the assassination of Lee Harvey Oswald — at which time "Graham" allegedly revealed himself to be not simply an officer of the CIA, but actually a double agent in the employ of the Soviet government. "Graham" purportedly threatened that if Nagell did not carry out his alleged assignment to eliminate Oswald, he would reveal to the FBI that Nagell had been performing services for the Soviet Union all along. (16) For reasons Nagell consistently refused to explain to assassination researchers, instead of carrying out this alleged assignment, he entered the State National Bank in El Paso and discharged his revolver.

Nagell named a number of individuals as Oswald's "handlers" during the months preceding the assassination. One of them, Nagell said, was he himself. (17) Others, he alleged, were men who later became suspects in Jim Garrison's New Orleans-based investigation: Clay Shaw, (18) David Ferrie, (19) Guy Banister, (20) and Sergio Arcacha Smith. (21) The Cubans who ostensibly lured Oswald into the plot were named as "Angel" and "Leopoldo," the two men reportedly seen in Oswald's company by eyewitnesses Silvia and Annie Odio in late September 1963. (22)

Nagell alleged that on or about September 17, 1963, shortly before his arrest, he dispatched from Texas a registered letter warning J. Edgar Hoover of the FBI that Lee Harvey Oswald and unnamed others were planning to assassinate John F. Kennedy at the end of September, in Washington. (23) He hinted that he had in his possession the receipt for that letter, a letter the FBI denied ever receiving. (24)

Nagell assured assassination researchers that he possessed other evidence that would support his story. He claimed that sometime between August 23 and 27, 1963, he made "a tape recording of four voices in conversation concerning the plot which ended in the assassination of President Kennedy." (25)

On or about September 15, 1963, Nagell said he met with Oswald one last time, in New Orleans' Jackson Square. He claimed to have arranged for a street vendor to snap a Polaroid photograph of the two men while they were talking, which he said he retained as evidence of their relationship. (26)

A Note on Sources

One easily accessible source for many of the documents cited below is a three-part collection of documents compiled by Anna Marie Kuhns-Walko from releases under the JFK Records Act of 1992 and marketed commercially by such organizations as JFK/Lancer. As the collection appears to be circulating in slightly differing formats and its pages are not numbered, documents available in the collection will be distinguished simply by the notation "AMKW."

1. Dick Russell, The Man Who Knew Too Much, 109. Field Operations Intelligence (FOI) was a division of the Army's Counter Intelligence Corps see Russell, 101-7.

3. Richard Case Nagell, addendum accompanying letter of January 28, 1970, to the editor of The Family US Department of Justice, Bureau of Prisons, Classification Study, June 29, 1966 Secret Service Richard Case Nagell Potential Threat File, RIF #154-10002-10330, p. 53. Documents contained in this file will hereafter be designated by the notation "SS" and the page number(s) AMKW.

5. Russell, 136. Eroshkin was the military attache to the Soviet embassy and, according to Nagell, suspected of being the legal Soviet military intelligence (GRU) representative in Japan (Russell, 136-7). According to Nagell, he was informed that this project was being guided by CIA officer Desmond FitzGerald (Russell, 151).

7. Richard Case Nagell, addendum accompanying letter of January 28, 1970, to the editor of The Family SS 54 AMKW . In both the statement of October 8, 1967, and his April 1967 interviews with New Orleans Assistant DA William Martin, Nagell named the Soviet Union as the government directing his alleged investigations at that time. "Graham" is the Soviet double agent within the CIA referred to in his letter of October 8, 1967, under the code-name "Abe Greenbaum" (Richard Case Nagell, letter to Arthur Greenstein "The Private Correspondence of Richard Case Nagell," Probe, Vol. 3, No. 1, November-December 1995).

12. The modifier "presumably" is used in Nagell's sworn affidavit of November 21, 1975, reproduced in the photo section of Russell.

16. Richard Case Nagell, addendum accompanying letter of January 28, 1970, to the editor of The Family SS 53 AMKW.

17. Noel Twyman, Bloody Treason, 614.

18. Jim Garrison, On the Trail of the Assassins, 1991 ed., 216, 267 Richard Case Nagell, letter to Arthur Greenstein, September 30, 1967, "deciphered" by Bernard Fensterwald ("Clay Shaw will probably be convicted, as he is guilty.") AMKW.

19. Richard Case Nagell, letter to Arthur Greenstein, October 8, 1967 "The Private Correspondence of Richard Case Nagell," Probe, Vol. 3, No. 1, November-December 1995.

20. Jim Garrison, On the Trail of the Assassins, 1991 ed., 216.

21. Russell, 395 William R. Martin, Assistant District Attorney, Memorandum to Jim Garrison, District Attorney, April 18, 1967 AMKW.

23. Russell, 55, 58, 442, 722 William W. Turner, "The Garrison Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy," Ramparts, January 1968. (The full article used to be posted on-line, but currently there only seems to be a zipped file of three out of four sections. The fourth part is the least significant, however, dealing primarily with the slaying of J. D. Tippit and theories about Jack Ruby.)

24. Russell, 58. "I have the receipts for almost every letter that I've ever sent by registered mail," Nagell stated in reference to his alleged letter of September 1963.


Fensterwald v. US CENT. INTELL. AGCY., 443 F. Supp. 667 (D.D.C. 1977)

*668 Bernard Fensterwald, Jr., pro se.

Michael J. Ryan, Asst. U. S. Atty., Washington, D. C., for defendant.

This Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C.A. § 552 (1977) suit [1] aptly illustrates the problems of proof and procedure confronting trial courts in determining whether claims of exemption are factually supported. The difficulty arises chiefly because, unlike in traditional litigation, the outcome of FOIA litigation turns on narrowly drawn factual determinations that are not the product of adversarial give and take. In traditional litigation, adversaries are equally in a position to get at the basic facts that are necessary for resolving contested issues. But this balanced situation simply does not exist in the FOIA context. FOIA litigation, in sharp contrast to other cases, poses a situation of severe adversarial imbalance. As the Court of Appeals stated in Vaughn v. Rosen, 157 U.S.App.D.C. 340, 484 F.2d 820 (1973), "only one side to the controversy (the side opposing disclosure) is in a position confidently to make statements categorizing information." Id. at 343, 484 F.2d at 823-24. And as the Court further noted, "This factual characterization may or may not be accurate. It is clear, however, that [plaintiff] cannot state that, as a matter of his knowledge, this characterization is untrue." Id.

The difficulties stemming from the adversarial imbalance inherent in FOIA suits are heightened when the policies of the Freedom of Information Act are taken into account. Running through the FOIA is the broad and insistent objective of rooting out governmental secretiveness by mandating prompt disclosure of requested information unless the particular items being sought are shown to come within the terms of restrictively drawn exceptions. Yet despite this emphasis on disclosure, the nature of FOIA litigation paradoxically makes adverse parties dependent on the withholding authority for the very information they need to dispute the asserted claims of exemption.

To correct this inherent inconsistency and to restore some measure of adversarial proceeding to FOIA cases, the courts have adopted the practice of requiring the withholding agency to furnish particularized justifications to support asserted claims of exemption. Vaughn, supra, at 346-47, 484 F.2d at 826-27. [2] This approach is designed to make sure that adversary parties will obtain at least a sketch of the factual information necessary for contesting claimed exemptions. But this procedure is not altogether satisfactory. Requiring the withholding authority to come forward with adequately detailed and particularized justifications runs the risk of requiring the agency to disclose the very information that *669 is claimed to be protected. This danger is particularly grave in instances where the requested material is withheld on the basis of the national security exemption. [3] The FOIA does not afford astute litigants a license to use the indexing and justification procedure in order to discern the contents of potentially exempt materials.

One way to overcome this difficulty is to employ the procedure of in camera examination. The FOIA expressly provides for in camera inspection of withheld items to assess whether claims of exemption are accurate. [4] Yet in camera review, like the indexing and justification method of proceeding, is not without inherent defects. One shortcoming implicit in the procedure lies in the fact that in camera inspection is generally conducted [5] "without [the] benefit of criticism and illumination by a party with the actual interest in forcing disclosure." Vaughn, supra, at 345, 484 F.2d at 825. A more glaring problem results from the fact that in camera examination entails an awesome "investment of judicial energy" where numerous documents are subject to dispute. Id. This problem is compounded where the particular items being withheld are claimed to be protected by a variety of different statutory exemptions.

The difficulties associated with in camera review were recently recognized in Weissman v. CIA, 184 U.S.App.D.C. 117, 565 F.2d 692 (1977). In that case, the Court of Appeals for this jurisdiction upheld a decision denying plaintiff's request for in camera proceedings. Plaintiff had requested the trial court "to check the truthfulness of Agency claims under each exemption, and to conduct a line-by-line analysis of documents withheld under each exemption to cull out any non-exempt material." Id., at 121, 565 F.2d at 696. But the Court of Appeals held that intensive review of that kind is to be the exception rather than the rule in national security cases. As the Court stressed: "neither the legislative history [of the FOIA], nor [relevant] court decisions, have indicated that it [is] appropriate for the District Courts to undertake line-by-line analysis of agency records in each [national security] case." Id., at 122, 565 F.2d at 697. Only where "the record is vague" or where the agency's claims are "sweeping" or "suggestive of bad faith" is in camera inspection required "to look for segregable non-exempt matter." Id., at 123, 565 F.2d at 698.

The meaning of Weissman is plain. Weissman counsels strongly against conducting in camera examination for the purpose of winnowing out potentially non-exempt tidbits from the documents of which they are part. But by the same token, Weissman does not rule out the procedure for reviewing a small yet representative sample of withheld materials in order to determine whether the agency's sketchy justifications are substantially overstated. The benefits of this limited and narrowly directed kind of examination are obvious and compelling. Foremost is the fact that this kind of limited review permits the court to test the validity of the agency's general theories of exemption by means of a sampling technique without requiring the agency to furnish highly detailed justifications at the risk of exposing potentially protected national security information. Furthermore, once the review is completed, the Court will then be in a position to extrapolate its conclusions from the representative sample to the larger group of withheld materials.

In the Court's view, this procedure commends itself for application in this case. Where, as here, the agency has tendered only skeletal justifications to support broad claims of exemption and where, as in this case, the withholding authority runs the distinct risk of compromising protected national *670 security secrets if required to particularize its justifications in greater detail, the prudent course is to make a limited in camera review of a sampling of the withheld items. [6] Proceeding in this way will allow the fact-finder to render an informed judgment regarding the agency's general claims of exemption. [7]

An order in accordance with the foregoing will be issued of even date herewith.

Consistent with the Memorandum issued of even date herewith, it is by the Court this 22nd day of December, 1977,

ORDERED that defendant's motion to dismiss the action on the grounds of mootness be, and the same hereby is, denied and it is

FURTHER ORDERED that defendant's motion for summary judgment be, and the same hereby is, held in abeyance pending the in camera review required by this Order and it is

FURTHER ORDERED that plaintiff's motion for in camera inspection be, and the same hereby is, granted, as follows:

(A) Defendant shall, within thirty (30) days from the date hereof, deliver to the Court in a sealed unit a true copy of each of the items listed in Schedules A and B of plaintiff's motion to compel in camera inspection, with the exception of those documents that, as of the date of delivery, have already been disclosed to plaintiff in their entirety [*]

(B) Defendant shall, with respect to each item delivered, identify those documents or particular portions thereof that, as of the date of delivery, remain classified

(C) Defendant shall, with respect to each item delivered, place brackets around those portions that the agency deleted from the documents when it previously released them to plaintiff in part

(D) Defendant shall attach to each item delivered a copy of the justification for withholding that document filed in its Document Disposition Index PROVIDED THAT, in the event no justification has yet been filed for particular items because defendant has deferred to another agency for that purpose, defendant shall obtain that agency's justification and affix it to the appropriate withheld item. In that event, defendant shall file and serve upon plaintiff a copy of any justifications so obtained

(E) Defendant shall immediately notify plaintiff when delivery of items for in camera inspection has taken place and plaintiff shall have twenty (20) days within which to file a statement of his views with respect to the justification offered for withholding each of the items delivered. Plaintiff shall state his views with respect to each separate justification on individual sheets of paper so that each statement may be attached to the pertinent justification.

[1] At issue in this litigation is the exempt status of several hundred separately identified documents relating to the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Suit was originally brought to obtain computer printouts that plaintiff requested as a prefatory step to obtaining the materials identified on the printouts. The agency later produced these printouts and, because it was aware of plaintiff's broader interests in the subject of the assassination, defendant included plaintiff among others who had earlier requested access to assassination-related materials. Treating plaintiff's request in this manner has led the agency to identify a discreet number of items that went beyond the scope of plaintiff's original request. To this extent, the agency has correspondingly enlarged the scope of this lawsuit. Viewed in this way, plaintiff's suit was not mooted by the agency's production of the sought after computer printouts. By the same token the present scope of this lawsuit need not be further enlarged by plaintiff's unilateral request beyond the currently identified materials.

[2] See also EPA v. Mink, 410 U.S. 73, 93, 93 S. Ct. 827, 35 L. Ed. 2d 119 (1973).

[3] 5 U.S.C. § 552(b) (1). Similar concerns arise where the claim of exemption is based on 5 U.S.C. § 552(b) (3) in tandem with 50 U.S.C. §§ 403(d) (3) & 403g.

[5] But see Rural Housing Alliance v. United States Department of Agriculture, 164 U.S. App.D.C. 46, 502 F.2d 1179 (1974) (Bazelon, C. J., concurring).

[6] See Ash Grove Cement v. FTC, 167 U.S.App. D.C. 249, 511 F.2d 815 (1975). In the Court's view, the items listed in schedules A and B of plaintiff's motion for in camera inspection appear representative of the several categories of withheld materials.

[7] It is true that proceeding in this manner leaves counsel for plaintiff, who is the adversary party, more or less out of the picture. But nothing prevents counsel from conveying his views on the disclosure of each sample item based on the justifications that are presently part of the record.

[*] See, e. g. document identified as 957-927 AC on plaintiff's Schedule B which, according to defendant's Index, was released in its entirety.


Bernard Fensterwald - History

The Truth is Too Terrible

by Fred J. Cook

Originally published in Fred J. Cook, Maverick: Fifty Years of Investigative Reporting. New York: G.P. Putnam&rsquos Sons, 1984, pp. 273-282, 285-291. Reprinted by permission of the author.

Since so much has been written about the Kennedy assassination, I shall tell here only about my own involvement in efforts to bring about a thorough investigation. Early in December 1963 1 went to Washington on a magazine assignment, and I learned from a number of sources that many veteran newsmen were as concerned as I about the lightning fast wrap-up of the case.

One of my contacts, who had been talking to a CBS news executive, told me that the executive was deeply disturbed and frustrated. His team in Dallas, he said, had uncovered leads that seemed to require further digging, but had run into the stone wall of network indifference. No one was pursuing obvious leads, and the official investigations seemed concerned with proving the official version without looking into any discrepancies.

Two of the best national reporters on the scene, Richard Dudman and Ronnie Dugger, had expressed doubts about the lone-assassin verdict. They were suspicious, for example, about the unbelievable speed with which the Dallas police had radioed an almost perfect description of Oswald just ten minutes after the lethal shots had been fired. Unless there was a setup, this seemed miraculous in the midst of so much turmoil and confusion.

Also while I was in Washington, a friend of mine who was working as an investigator for a Senate committee and had close ties to the National Rifle Association led me to stumble upon another unexplained angle:

The Mannlicher Carcano that Oswald allegedly used to kill the President was one of the crankiest rifles ever invented its bolt action most peculiar (as I later found out the one time I handled it). The old World War I Springfield, with which I had had a passing association in ROTC in college, had a smooth bolt action &mdash you pulled the bolt straight back to eject the spent cartridge, then slammed it straight forward to seat a new charge. With the Mannlicher Carcano, which had been the principal weapon of the Italian infantry, the bolt had a squirreling action that slowed its rate of fire and sometimes got stuck, to the frustration of the marksman. This was later established during test firing that the Warren Commission conducted. Although only championship marksmen were used, one of them, even after practicing with Oswald&rsquos rifle, became so entangled with the squirreling bolt action that he could not get a shot off at all during one round.

This squirrefing bolt was not the only defect of the weapon: the ammunition was equally recalcitrant. Bullets tended to swerve and swoop instead of speeding unerringly to their target. When Italian resistance collapsed at the end of World War II, hundreds of thousands of these balky guns fell into American hands, and we had an immediate use for them if they could ever be made to work properly. Communist guerrillas were threatening to overrun Greece the Greeks opposing them, whom we supported, needed arms. If the Mannlicher Carcano could be turned into an effective weapon, the vast numbers we had captured would be invaluable in the Greek civil war.

Nothing could be done about that awkward bolt action, but experts from the National Rifle Association and an Army ordnance team conducted extensive experiments at the Aberdeen proving grounds in Maryland. &ldquoAnd they came up with one of the most perfect bullets ever designed,&rdquo my source said. &ldquoIt could be fired from the Carcano, and it would go straight to its target every time. That had a lot to do with chasing those Communist guerrillas out of Greece.&rdquo

And with the killing of our own president?

One skeptical marksman had written an article about his experiments with the Mannlicher Carcano. He had purchased a rifle just like Oswald&rsquos, had bought the right ammunition for it, and then on the firing range, he found that shot after shot turned out to be duds hardly any went straight to the target. When I returned to New York, I visited several Lower Manhattan gunshops and asked about ammunition for the Marinlicher Carcano. All I could find was the old Italian-made ammunition, deteriorated from age and unreliable at best none of the shops had the American-perfected cartridges.

Carey McWilliams [editor of The Nation] was not enthusiastic about the trend of my researches. He checked out the bullet angle with the district attorney&rsquos office in Dallas and was told (falsely, as it turned out) that Oswald had been using the original Italian-made ammunition. That was as far as Carey was willing to go just then.

President Johnson, the calculating political manipulator, had twisted the arm of Chief Justice Warren, persuading him to head a special commission to investigate the assassination. Norman Redlich, with whom Carey had been allied in civil-rights causes, was one of the senior counsels, as was Joseph A. Ball, whom Carey had known in California from law school days and for whom he had a great deal of respect.

&ldquoWith Earl Warren heading the commission, this is going to be a thorough investigation,&rdquo Carey told me. &ldquoNothing is going to be covered up. Let&rsquos just wait until the commission has time to make its investigation and file its report.&rdquo

I was still more skeptical and more impatient. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover was using every stratagem at his disposal to determine what the verdict of the commission would be. In a memorandum to Carey on December 3, 1963, 1 spelled out my doubts about the kind of report that would be produced. I was especially disenchanted with the composition of the commission, all solid Establishment types who could be almost guaranteed to uphold the Establishment view. Gerald Ford had long been noted in Washington as a strong FBI partisan and as for Allen Dulles, I wrote: &ldquoNaming Allen Dulles to the commission was about as suspect a thing as could be done.&rdquo (Long after the commission&rsquos work was finished, it would be disclosed that Dulles sat there silently, not letting any of his fellow commissioners know that his CIA had already entered into partnership with the Mafia in plots intended to kill Fidel Castro, certainly a vital bit of information.)

As for Hoover, referring to articles that had appeared in the press, I wrote that &ldquothe old authoritative leak system at which the FBI is especially adept was used. Day after day we were treated to stories that contained only a smidgeon of new information in their leads &mdash stories that went on to point out that the FBI report, whose details nobody was permitted to know, concluded definitely and positively that Oswald was the killer that he acted alone that there was no conspiracy. By the time the public is permitted to get a peep at the FBI details that justify this conclusion, the conclusion will have been so drummed into us, so thoroughly accepted, that it will be a bold man indeed &mdash and where the hell does one find them today &mdash who questions the details.&rdquo

This turned out to be an uncannily accurate forecast, for once the Warren Commission got organized it found its case &mdash a case it was expected to accept &mdash had already been made by the FBI. Some members of the staff resented the way in which they had been boxed in. But Carey&rsquos faith in Earl Warren and the commission was unshakable. I could not move him. And since I had contracts for two major books that had to be finished not too many months down the road, I had to shelve my concern with the Kennedy assassination and get on with my work.

I have never seen an official report greeted with such universal praise as that accorded the Warren Commission&rsquos findings when they were made public on September 24, 1964. All the major television networks devoted special programs and analyses to the report the next day the newspapers ran long columns detailing its findings, accompanied by special news analyses and editorials. The verdict was unanimous. The report answered all questions, left no room for doubt. Lee Harvey Oswald, alone and unaided, had assassinated the President of the United States.

The chorus of acclaim impressed me. I watched television program after program. I waded through the massive columns of The New York Times &mdash and even I was finally convinced. My earlier conviction that there must have been a conspiracy obviously had been wrong. The Warren Commission after months of investigation had found no trace of conspiracy, and all of the best news and editorial brains in the nation were hailing its conclusions. I accepted the verdict and turned to other things.

Two months later, left alone one evening with nothing else to do, I decided to take a closer look at the Report. I had purchased the Doubleday Edition, with an impressive foreword by the eminent attorney Louis Nizer. The television programs I had seen at the time the report was issued had left two vague, nagging questions in my mind.

The first stemmed from what I had heard in Washington the year before about the suspiciously fast description of the gunman. According to the report, these details had come apparently from Howard L. Brennan, a forty-five-year-old steamfitter, who had been sitting on a concrete retaining wall opposite the Texas School Book Depository at the corner of Elm and Houston Streets, where the presidential motorcade made a slow left-hand turn into Elm. Brennan told police that he had seen a man in the sixth-floor southeast window of the depository before the motorcade arrived and that he had seen him in the act of discharging his final shot.

The initial shot had been fired at 12:30 P.M. the Dallas police description, according to the Warren Report, had apparently been based on Brennan&rsquos almost instantaneous account to police. Brennan had described the gunman as white, slender, about 165 pounds, 5 feet 10 inches tall, in his early thirties. Oswald was white, slender, about 150 pounds, 5 feet 9, twenty-four years old. It was a fantastic match. I wondered whether it was possible.

The sixth-floor window of the sniper&rsquos nest had been only partially open the room behind it was dark, unlighted cartons had been piled up behind the window as a screen, and one had been placed on the window ledge as a gun rest. Was it possible that, from 120 feet away, gazing up at what must have been a shadowy figure against this dark background, Brennan could have come up with a nearly letter-perfect description of Oswald?

I had doubted Brennan&rsquos ability and had tested my doubts. I walked around New York streets, looking up at lighted fifth- and sixth-floor windows in which men were working. Even in these circumstances, only a portion of a man&rsquos body would be visible and I found I couldn&rsquot tell how tall the men were or what they looked like. Yet the commission had accepted Brennan&rsquos description, despite the physical difficulties involved. Brennan&rsquos accuracy was difficult to explain, unless Oswald had been pointed out to Brennan in advance &mdash but that is something we will never know.

Next, I turned my attention to a second question that had been nagging me. Texas Governor John Bowden Connally, Jr., who had been riding on the jump seat in front of the President, had been struck by a bullet that entered his back, passed downward through his chest, exiting below his right nipple, then passing through his right wrist, which had been in his lap, and finally inflicting a wound in his left thigh. The Warren Commission had concluded that the first shot fired by the sniper had entered &ldquothe base of the back of his [the President&rsquos] neck, had passed through his neck and had continued downward,&rdquo wounding Connally. In other words, both the President and Connally had been wounded by this same bullet.

Connally told a clear, cogent, convincing story. He said he had been familiar with guns all his life, and he had instantly recognized the first shot as a rifle shot. He knew it had come from behind him he had turned his head to the right in the direction of the book depository then he had started to turn to his left, trying to get a look at the President, when he himself was hit and collapsed in his wife&rsquos arms. In shock, he never heard the final, fatal shot that tore off the top of the President&rsquos head, but he was positive that he had been wounded not by the first shot that had hit Kennedy but by a second, separate shot.

Connally&rsquos calm, step-by-step, explicit recital had the ring of complete truth. Why, then, I wondered, had the Warren Commission discounted this best possible eyewitness evidence? Why had it insisted so strongly that Governor Connally had to be mistaken? To answer these questions, I hunted in the report&rsquos index and went directly to the sections dealing with Connally and the commission&rsquos interpretation of the shot sequence. It took me perhaps an hour, and I found the Warren Commission Report &mdash so wholly accepted &mdash falling to pieces in my hands.

The key, I quickly discovered, was the film of the assassination taken as it was happening by amateur photographer Abraham Zapruder with his 8mm movie camera. Zapruder&rsquos camera took 18.3 frames a second so, by numbering the frames, it could be determined just how many seconds elapsed between shots. The sequence seemed to show that the President could not have been hit before frame 210, when he disappeared momentarily behind a Sternmons Freeway sign. When he emerged into view again at frame 225, his hands were just beginning to jerk upward toward his throat, a movement that was completed by frame 227. Yet at this time, the film showed, Governor Connally was facing forward, face serene it was simply impossible to believe that his whole body had already been furrowed by a nearly lethal bullet.

Connally showed no visible reaction until frames 231-34 expert witnesses before the Warren Commission held that he could not have been hit after frame 240. Now another factor, firing speed, had to be added to the equation. The commission had determined that the fastest trigger finger in the FBI could not get off shots from Oswald&rsquos Mannlicher Carcano in less than 2.3 seconds between shots. On the basis of no evidence whatsoever, the commission had rationalized that Oswald, no champion marksman, could match the fastest gun in the FBI, but even this did not solve its problems with the lone assassin thesis. Even assuming that the President had been hit at the earliest possible instant, at frame 210, there would have had to be another 42 frames before the lone gunman could have gotten off the second shot at frame 252. But the Zapruder film showed that Connally had been wounded much earlier, no later than frame 240 &mdash and so not even the fastest gun in the FBI could have gotten another shot off by that time. The whole lone-assassin theory foundered on this time rock, and the only way of resurrecting it was to theorize, as the Warren Commission had, that the first shot that hit the President must also have wounded Governor Connally.

But this was theory this was rationalization this was not hard judgment based on solid facts as everyone had supposed. As soon as I found this flaw, I saw that the report throughout was a tissue of rationalizations in which the most credible testimony (as in the case of Connally) had been discarded because it did not fit the lone-assassin hypothesis, and the most suspect word was accepted as valid and ultimate truth because it did.

I felt the hair prickle on the back of my neck with excitement at this discovery, and I hurried upstairs to my typewriter to start writing a memorandum tearing at the guts of the Warren Report. And that was the beginning of my trouble.

Knowing that I was challenging a verdict that was considered almost as holy as the Bible, I spelled out the firing sequence and the evidence of the Zapruder film in great detail. My memorandum ran some seven pages. Once it was finished, I was confronted with the problem of what to do with it. I knew Carey McWilliam&rsquos views, but I also felt that The Nation was the only magazine with sufficient independence and nerve to print the kind of article I wanted to write. In hopes that my reasoned analysis would persuade Carey, I sent him the memorandum.

There followed three weeks of silence. Then Carey rejected the idea, telling me that he and others could find no flaw in my reasoning, but The Nation didn&rsquot want to criticize the Warren Report. I gathered that he was influenced by one overriding fear: if the assassination proved to be the work of a conspiracy, it might start another irresponsible witch-hunt comparable to that of the detested McCarthy era.

I didn&rsquot agree. The most credible evidence seemed to me to point to a conspiracy and if conspirators could get away with murdering a president as popular as Kennedy, there was no guarantee that they would not repeat the deed any time a leading politician&rsquos program posed a threat to their interests. Still, everywhere I encountered opposition. My literary agent, Barthold Fles, shuddered when he read the memorandum. Like Carey, he could find no flaw in it, but he had difficulty believing it. &ldquoYou may be right, Fred,&rdquo he told me, &ldquobut I wish you wouldn&rsquot do this.&rdquo I told him I felt I had to, and I wanted him to try for publication. Reluctantly, he raised the issue with Peter Bittner, then my editor at Macmillan. &ldquoOh, my God,&rdquo Bart reported Peter&rsquos saying, &ldquoFred has exposed the CIA, the FBI, and the military-industrial complex. All he needs now is to attack the Warren Report!&rdquo

On the domestic front, I was also getting a lot of flak. Julia had never questioned my writing decisions, but she did now. &ldquoWhy don&rsquot you just forget it?&rdquo she asked. &ldquoKennedy is dead, and nothing can be done about it.&rdquo I explained my fear that an evil, dangerous precedent might have been set. &ldquoWell, who are you to challenge the Warren Commission?&rdquo Exasperated, I snapped, &ldquoWell, God gave me a brain to reason with, and just plain common sense says they were wrong. It&rsquos like adding two and two and getting six. It just doesn&rsquot make sense. Goddamn it!&rdquo

We never agreed, and I continued to press Bart Fles. He showed the memorandum to Esquire, but Esquire had already assigned Dwight Macdonald to write an assassination feature &mdash an article, as it turned out, that was filled with philosophical words adding up to nothing. True magazine had run articles on the controversy arising from Abraham Lincoln&rsquos assassination, so I&rsquod hoped it would prove receptive for my story. True weighed my little bombshell for almost a month, but finally decided it wouldn&rsquot go ahead because, well, who knew what might happen by the time the magazine got out? An editor at Playboy had expressed some interest in my writing, so my suggestion went there. There was another month&rsquos delay, and back it came with an excuse similar to True&rsquos. No one could find anything wrong with my analysis, but no one was going to publish an article based on it either.

I took the memorandum back from Bart and decided to see if I could do something with it on my own. Finally, in summer 1965, 1 sent it off to Edward J. Keating, then the editor of Ramparts. Silence. Then, about 10:30 on an August night, just as my wife and I were about to set out on a three-week vacation we&rsquod planned for some time, the telephone rang. Keating had studied my memorandum, he said he had shown it to others everybody agreed the analysis was solid. Could I turn it into a blockbuster article for Ramparts for the December issue? There went our vacation.

Little did I know I was about to get the worst double-cross I have ever had from a publisher. Ramparts agreed in a letter to Bart Fles to pay $1000 for my article. Keating sent me a number of sensible editorial suggestions, which I accepted. The December 1965 Ramparts did not include my piece. We queried. When January and February came and passed, we protested. Then in March 1966 Ramparts made the incredible claim that it had never agreed to publish the article in the first place &mdash this despite the fact that I had in my files a flier the magazine had sent out in the fall soliciting new subscribers and promising it would have among its upcoming exposes &ldquoFred J. Cook&rsquos massive re-evaluation of the Warren Commission Report on President Kennedy&rsquos assassination.&rdquo Finally, in April, 1966, after holding the article in cold storage for six months, Ramparts made me a token payment of $500 and returned the manuscript.

After over a year of struggle, I was more angry and frustrated than I had ever been. In desperation, I sent the article off to Carey McWilliams. Though I knew his views, I hoped that once he saw the finished product he might have a change of heart. Another month-long silence ensued. Then I read in one of the gossip columns that Edward J. Epstein had written a book, Inquest, a critical look at the Warren Report that was about to be published. I called Carey&rsquos attention to the item, warned him that time was running out and that if he ever intended to do anything with my article, he had to get a move on. So finally he did. The Nation published the article in two installments, June 13 and June 20, 1966, more than a year and a half after I had first proposed it. The editors prefaced it with a disclaimer that this was just my view.

Soon after the publication of my Warren Commission articles, there came a series of strange events in startling succession. I reported on the first of these in a letter to Carey on July 13, 1966. Bart Fles had received a cablegram just the previous Friday from a Japanese magazine that wanted to purchase rights to my Warren Commission articles the matter was &ldquourgent,&rdquo the cablegram said, and an immediate reply was necessary. We accepted the offer in a cablegram that same night.

The next day, Saturday, Fles received a second cablegram: the magazine had called the deal off without explanation of any kind. &ldquoI&rsquod like to be able to read the State Department cables on that one,&rdquo I wrote Carey.

Next a devious attack was made on me in my own favorite publication, The Nation. A concerned Carey telephoned me one afternoon, saying he had an article written by a professor who reported that the Warren Commission had never seen the X-rays and photographs taken of the President&rsquos body at the autopsy because the Kennedy family had prohibited the use of this basic evidence. Carey wanted to know if it was all right with me if he ran the piece. I said I had no objection I certainly didn&rsquot have any exclusive rights to everything about the Warren Commission and if he had a good legitimate article from someone else, he should run it.

When I saw the article in the July 11, 1966 issue of The Nation, I blew my stack at Carey for the first time ever. The legitimate point of the article that Carey had mentioned to me was there, buried deep in the body of the piece. The whole approach, the whole tone, however, was slanted to ridicule critics of the Warren Report. The article was filled with snide references to me and to Vincent Salandria, a Philadelphia lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union and one of the first critics of the report, and it was speckled with lines like: &ldquoHas it come to this, then &mdash the doctors&rsquo word against the word of Cook, Epstein, Salandria, et al.?&rdquo

The rapidity with which the attack had been made &mdash only twenty-one days had elapsed after my second Nation article &mdash indicated to me that it must have been hatched almost the instant my articles appeared, and I began to smell a rat. Why Carey hadn&rsquot caught the odor, why he hadn&rsquot exercised rudimentary editorial judgment, I&rsquoll never know but I was so furious I wrote a reply and delivered an ultimatum: unless Carey printed my answer to the academic character word for word, I would never write again for The Nation. The author of the back-stabbing exercise that so infuriated me had announced that he was going to withdraw from the ivy halls, become a full-time free-lance writer, and produce a book that would silence all critics and vindicate the Warren Commission. In my reply, I pointed out that I knew how extremely difficult it was to make a living by free-lance writing. I didn&rsquot believe it could be done by someone who hadn&rsquot established a broad reputation in the field, and I was convinced that the man who had done the job on me must be privately financed by some government agency like the CIA.[1]

There never was a rebuttal to this accusation. A couple of reactions came from other sources: from Tom Katen, who had been a professor at Monmouth College, in West Long Branch, New Jersey, and Vince Salandria. Their feeling was that, once the report was exposed and the assassination issue raised, agencies were going to have to take out after somebody. They had both met the back-stabbing author of The Nation article and asked him why he had gone out of his way to take such vicious potshots at me. He told them that he had done it &ldquofor that very reason&rdquo because he wanted to discredit me in my own forum.

Katen and Salandria also told me about the reaction of Allen Dulles during a tape-recorded session with students at a California university. The students had copies of The Nation expose and asked Dulles about it. &ldquoThe Nation?&rdquo Dulles exclaimed &mdash and then he went off into a fit of hyenalike laughter. The students, grim-faced, began to press him about aspects of the assassination, and Dulles abruptly broke off the exchange, remarking that if they didn&rsquot have anything better to discuss, he was going to bed.

Sometime later in that summer of 1966, 1 got a late-night telephone call from Vince Salandria. He was in Boston, where he had just had a debate with my Nation back-stabber. Salandria was excited. &ldquoFred, I told him that you had accused him of being a CIA front &mdash and he did not deny it. He did not deny it!&rdquo

After the debate, Salandria said, he and his opponent had a long, private bull-session. &ldquoHe&rsquos a very disturbed person,&rdquo Salandria told me, &ldquoand I wound up feeling sorry for him. He has a lot of conflicts within himself, and he finally admitted that he knows we are right, but he said: &lsquoThe truth is too terrible. The American people would never be able to stand it.&rsquo In the end, however, he said he was not going to write the book.&rdquo And he never did.

I got another strong personal indication from inside the Warren Commission itself that there were those who thought the critics could be right. In late July, 1966, over a telephone hookup, I did battle with Burt W. Griffin, who had been an assistant counsel to the commission and is now a judge, on Harv Morgan&rsquos Cleveland &ldquoContact&rdquo show.

Griffin did his best to defend the report. He ridiculed my conclusion that a shot, or shots, had come from the grassy knoll overlooking Dealey Plaza at the right front of the motorcade. There was some exceptionally hard evidence, as well as the wounding of a spectator by a bullet splinter, to indicate shots had come from this direction. Griffin insisted that the first shot that hit the President had followed the downward trajectory necessary to wound Governor Connally. I told him what an expert pathologist had told me, and he conceded that if the one-shot, multiple-wound theory was invalid, the commission&rsquos whole lone-assassin case had to fall by the wayside.

Interestingly, it seemed to me, he admitted that there might have been too much haste in closing out the conspiracy angle. Warren had been impatient, he said the commission was being pressured to get out a fast report proof of conspiracy wasn&rsquot easy and if anything had been overlooked, Griffin thought it was due to this impatience.

We discussed the very real possibility that Oswald had been an FBI informer. A Dallas deputy sheriff had told a reporter that he knew this was so the Warren Commission had been thrown into a flap by what Warren called &ldquothis very disturbing&rdquo rumor &mdash but the whole matter had been dropped on J. Edgar Hoover&rsquos word that Oswald hadn&rsquot been on the FBI payroll. Harv Morgan asked Griffin the direct question: Did he think Oswald was connected with the FBI? Griffin replied that he thought no one was ever going to know. I asked him if this wasn&rsquot a pretty horrible admission: here we had a very popular president assassinated &mdash and we weren&rsquot going to be permitted to know about such an important link if it existed? &ldquoI am just stating a fact of life,&rdquo Griffin said. He added that he was certain that if anyone from any of our great federal agencies had been involved, the record would have been covered up so thoroughly that no one could ever find out.

After the radio program was over, Griffin asked to speak to me personally. &ldquoI admire what you people are trying to do,&rdquo he told me, &ldquobut I have to tell you that you&rsquore not going to get anywhere.&rdquo He thought, he said, that the critics were performing &ldquoa public service&rdquo because he hoped that if anything like this happened again &mdash and he prayed it wouldn&rsquot &mdash &ldquoit certainly never ought to be investigated in this way.&rdquo

Harv Morgan was as surprised as I was. &ldquoFred, did you hear that?&rdquo he exclaimed after Griffin had gone. &ldquoMy God, did you hear that!&rdquo

I wrote some additional, minor articles about the assassination and the Warren Report during the next few years, and in 1968 1 joined the Committee to Investigate Assassinations formed by Bernard Fensterwald, Jr., a Washington attorney who had served as a counsel to different Senate committees. I had met Bud when he was chief counsel for Senator Edward Long, of Missouri, in an investigation into official invasions of privacy, an inquiry that was aborted after some of the federal agencies being investigated leaked stories to the press about the senator&rsquos receipt of legal fees from his private law firm, which was connected with the Teamsters.

Leaving government service, Fensterwald decided to devote his time to probing assassinations not just that of President Kennedy, but also the 1968 slayings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert F. Kennedy. The &ldquolone-gunman&rdquo solutions of each had raised just as many questions as the assassination of the President. Bud&rsquos convictions stemmed in part from a personal encounter with the rabid Radical Right in Dallas. As the principal aide and speechwriter for Senator Estes Kefauver, he had accompanied Kefauver to Dallas during the 1960 presidential campaign. Kefauver had made a rousing speech in support of John F. Kennedy&rsquos candidacy. Afterward, a high police spokesman told Bud, &ldquoYou know we have some pretty fanatical people here, and I think it would be a good idea if you and the senator didn&rsquot stay in town overnight, but left right away.&rdquo

Bud had relayed the warning to Kefauver, who inquired, &ldquoDo we have enough bourbon?&rdquo Bud assured him the liquor cabinet was well-stocked, and Kefauver agreed to the change of plans, saying, &ldquoAll right, then, let&rsquos go.&rdquo

Fensterwald&rsquos hope in forming the committee was that it would be able to keep the assassination issue alive, help to mold public opinion, and bring enough pressure on public officials to force a genuinely thorough investigation, and several members of the committee worked extremely hard toward this end. I remember especially Mary Ferrell, of Dallas, a legal secretary and one-time secretary to a governor of Texas. She collected and analyzed every scrap of material pertaining to the President&rsquos assassination she even had a separate air-conditioned room built on her home to house the collection, which remains probably the most thorough in the nation. Yet an orchestrated campaign was mounted in books and magazine articles to label all who questioned the validity of the Warren Report mere &ldquoscavengers&rdquo who were out to make a fast buck by preying on the trauma of the American people. No propaganda campaign was ever more vicious or more untrue some of those engaged in the research spent thousands of dollars of their own money, almost bankrupting themselves in the process.

Yet the door of the media remained firmly closed. The New York Times, with one of the best journalistic staffs in the nation, ran a month-long investigation into the bona fides of the Warren Report. When it was all over, the Times deep-sixed the whole project. The paper&rsquos attitude became obvious in 1971 when its op-ed page included an essay by David W. Belin, one of the Warren Commission counsels, upholding all the findings of the report &mdash and, at the same time, it refused to print a responding letter from Fensterwald. The op-ed page is supposed to be a free forum in which opposing points of view can be discussed &mdash but not where the Warren Report was concerned.

One of Fensterwald&rsquos arguments merited attention. He pointed out that Police Chief Jesse Curry, who had been in charge of the Dallas force when the President was assassinated, had developed serious doubts about the validity of the Oswald case. He had described these in a small book, JFK Assassination File, in which he had disclosed that scientific tests had not shown what they would have to have shown if Oswald had fired a rifle: after such a firing, powder residues are left on the cheek of the gunman. These may be detected by analysis of a paraffin cast. The FBI had made such a test of the side of Oswald&rsquos face, but had failed to find any residues. The Bureau had argued ambiguously that such tests were not always infallible &mdash so the Warren Commission had disregarded the evidence. There was, however, a more sophisticated and infallible test: neutron activation analysis. The FBI, as Fensterwald pointed out, had performed this test &mdash and had failed to find any trace of residues that would show Oswald had fired a rifle. This negative finding, which seemed, as Fensterwald wrote, to show that &ldquoOswald did not fire a rifle on November 22,&rdquo was what had shaken the faith of Police Chief Curry in the Warren Commission verdict. But it did not make any difference to the Times.

The efforts of the committee continued for years. Gradually, I devoted less and less time to it, mainly because I had a freelance living to make and couldn&rsquot make it if I didn&rsquot stick to the typewriter. Finally, in 1976, partly as a result of the committee&rsquos efforts, a Congressional committee was appointed to investigate the assassinations of President Kennedy and Dr. King. Unfortunately, the probe became snarled at the outset with personality conflicts, and it never did get itself on the track. The internal wrangling gave dubious members of Congress the only excuse they needed to scrimp on funds and cut the inquiry short. However, through acoustic tests the committee did establish that a fourth shot had been fired from the grassy knoll overlooking Dealey Plaza, as I and many other critics of the Warren Report had contended.

The findings of the Congressional committee were forwarded to the Department of Justice for further action but, if the experience of the past is any criterion, they can be expected to rest in peace in Justice &mdash forever.


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