excerpts from the book
A Farewell To Justice
Jim Garrison, JFK's assassination,
and the case that should have changed history
by Joan Mellen
Patomac Books, 2007, paperback
The release in the 1990s of thousands of documents, most from
the CIA and FBI, has established the truth of Garrison's lone
cry in the wilderness. To the moment of his death in 1992, Garrison
was persuaded that the CIA, the same team that had overthrown
President Arbenz of Guatemala in 1954, among them Lawrence Hon,
Richard Helms and David Atlee Phillips, had planned the assassination,
and then, with the assistance of the FBI, attempted to cover its
tracks, not always successfully. Kerry Thornley, the Marine Corps
buddy of Lee Harvey Oswald, who told the Warren Commission that
Oswald was a Marxist, turned out himself to have been a CIA employee
trained, according to a CIA document, in Washington, D.C., in
chemical and biological warfare.
Garrison's chief suspect, Clay Shaw, was
a CIA operative, who, as a director of the Centro Mondiale Commerciale
in Rome, joined fellow agents, like Ferenc Nagy, who since 1948
had worked for the CIA under the direction of Assistant Director
of Central Intelligence, Frank Wisner. Despite his denials, Shaw
knew Oswald's mentor David Ferrie so well that he cosigned a loan
for him a week before the assassination so that Ferrie could rent
a plane and fly to Dallas. When Ferrie denied he had been in Dallas
for eight to ten years, the FBI turned a blind eye to his well-documented
acquaintance with Oswald. Ferrie was never called before the Warren
Oswald not only was set up as a scapegoat,
but there were alternative scapegoats trained should he not fulfill
the job, among them Thomas Edward Beckham, whom the CIA protected
in Omaha. As for Oswald, not only was he an FBI informant and
a CIA employee working for Counter Intelligence, but he was also
an operative for United States Customs, a dual role shared by
customs officers in Miami.
Interviewing over a thousand people, I was able to demonstrate
the specifics of how the FBI and CIA, led by National Security
Agency, FBI and CIA veteran Walter Sheridan, attempted to destroy
Garrison's effort, not least by bribing his witnesses.
The decades-long campaign to silence Jim
Garrison included the participation even of "Deep Throat"
himself. Hardly interested in the "truth," as those
who laud him for providing guidance to Bob Woodward suggest, Mark
Felt on the matter of the Kennedy assassination is revealed in
documents to have been an open enemy of free inquiry, no less
than a convicted felon specializing in FBI "black-bag jobs.
[CIA] Involvement in President Kennedy's assassination has been
an open secret for these forty years. The mainstream media have
persisted in granting credence to the by now thoroughly discredited
Warren Commission Report, a document based on a scant and arbitrary
pseudoinvestigation, in actuality on no investigation at all.
On the fortieth anniversary [November 1983] of John F. Kennedy's
death [November 1963], a Gallup poll recorded that twice as many
people believed that the CIA had masterminded the assassination
as were persuaded that Lee Harvey Oswald, a man without a motive,
had acted alone in the dastardly deed.
Among the CIA's schemes to kill Castro under OPERATION MONGOOSE
was a plan concocted by Desmond Fitzgerald, chief of the Cuban
Task Force, who was encouraged by Robert Kennedy to effect the
assassination of Fidel Castro, already a CIA project.
OPERATION MONGOOSE [was] the CIA's project to assassinate Fidel
President John Kennedy
I've got to do something about those CIA
The historical record corroborates Richard Case Nagell's view
that the CIA hated Kennedy most "for planning to curb activities
of spook outfits, especially CIA." Reading an April 1966
New York Times article, "C.I.A.: Maker of Policy, or Tool?"
Jim Garrison also registered Kennedy's profound warfare with the
Agency. He circled the paragraph where Kennedy was quoted by an
insider as threatening to "splinter the C.I.A. in a thousand
pieces and scatter it to the wind." He also marked a sentence
where Kennedy countermanded President Eisenhower, who had exempted
the CIA from control by American ambassadors abroad. Kennedy reversed
that, putting the ambassadors in control.
By the end of 1966, [Jim] Garrison was
persuaded that Kennedy was murdered as a result of his struggle
with the CIA, and, behind it, the Pentagon's "war machine,"
which was determined to have its ground war, if not in Cuba, then
elsewhere. A month after Kennedy's death, former president Harry
Truman expressed on the front page of the Washington Post his
dismay that the CIA he created had been running a shadow government,
becoming "operational." Truman declared that the CIA
was "in urgent need of correction." (Brazenly, Allen
Dulles had even told a reporter to think of the CIA as "the
State Department for unfriendly countries").
New York Times columnist Arthur Krock
had warned of CIA malfeasance two months earlier. The CIA, Krock
wrote, was a 'malignancy" on the body politic. With startling
prescience, in October of 1963, Krock in his outrage all but predicted
the Kennedy assassination. If the United States ever experiences
an attempted coup, Krock wrote, "It will come from the C.I.A.
and not the Pentagon." Between Kennedy and the CIA there
was now raging "an intra-administration war," with the
CIA serving the needs of the military and those corporations that
stood most to gain from a ground war.
Liberal journalist Walter Lippmann could
not help but note that the CIA was bursting the bounds of its
mandate. Forty years later, historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr.,
a Kennedy adviser, would remark quietly to Jim Garrison's old
classmate Wilmer Thomas that they had been at war with "the
National Security people." That the CIA exacted its revenge
on Kennedy has been an open secret since 1963.
After the CIA in 1954 had overthrown President
Arbenz in Guatemala, its first "solo flight" as a policy-maker,
President Eisenhower recognized that the Agency was dangerously
out of control. He established a "President's Board of Consultants
on Foreign Intelligence Activities." Its conclusion was that
the CIA's clandestine services were "operating for the most
part on an autonomous and free-wheeling basis in highly critical
areas," in direct conflict with State Department policy;
its recommendation was that Eisenhower fire Allen Dulles, or at
the very least force him to accept an administrative deputy. Eisenhower's
reward was that the clandestine services, then run by Richard
Bissell, former assistant of Frank Wisner, sabotaged the May 1,
1960 foray of the U-2 flown by Francis Gary Powers. The U-2 fleet
had been dubbed "RBAF," which stood for "Richard
Bissell's Air Force," one more indication of CIA arrogance.
The Agency lied directly to Eisenhower, insisting that should
the plane be shot down, neither the aircraft nor the pilot would
survive. So Bissell would lie to John F. Kennedy and insist that
"failure was almost impossible" at the Bay of Pigs.
Despite Eisenhower's reluctance, the CIA
insisted upon a flight close to the time of Eisenhower's scheduled
May 16th summit with Khrushchev, de Gaulle and Macmillan, arguing,
with no discernible evidence, that this last flight was urgent.
Years later, the CIA would admit in hearings before the Senate
that this flight wasn't particularly necessary at all. The issue
of CIA malfeasance in the failure of Powers' mission was not even
Eisenhower, reluctantly, had declared
that the cut-off date for U-2 flights was May 1st, assuming that
meant the CIA would organize the flight during the last two weeks
of April. But it was on May 1 that Francis Gary Powers was sent
aloft. In insisting on that one additional overflight, Bissell
succeeded in making policy, which meant destroying detente and
with it Eisenhower's desire to cut the country's defense budget.
Rapprochement with the Soviet Union meant for Eisenhower a subsequent
redirecting of the country's resources to its domestic needs.
This was not to be.
Powers' mission seems to have been doomed.
Both the circumstantial and the direct evidence that Powers' flight
was interfered with by those in charge are overwhelming. "Powers
came down because his aircraft was fixed to fail," stated
retired Air Force Colonel L. Fletcher Prouty, who was in charge
of providing military support for the clandestine services, and
whose data should not be disregarded because of his speculations
about a "secret team." Powers' flight was made to fail
by a shortage of the proper fuel, Prouty concluded. Prouty was
also alarmed that the flight violated standard procedure. Powers
was laden with identification, not least a Department of Defense
identification card. The U-2 itself bore identifying marks, violating
a National Security Council edict. Whereas Powers should have
been bearing no identity, he was possessed of enough for the Soviets
promptly to announce that he was a "spy" from the United
States. "That is why Powers survived and why they landed
in good shape," Prouty reasoned. "They' equals Powers
and the U-2."
Other evidence suggests that the CIA deliberately
routed Powers into the path of nests of Soviet missiles it knew
could shoot him down if he was flying too low. That Powers' top
secret camera had been removed suggested that someone knew this
plane was not coming home. It was a catastrophe timed to thwart
the May 16th summit with Premier Khrushchev that Eisenhower hoped
would cap his presidency.
Seizing the high road, Khrushchev immediately
demanded that Eisenhower admit he had no knowledge of the flight
and fire Dulles and Bissell. The CIA had forced Eisenhower's hand,
realizing that he "could not honestly say that he didn't
know what was going on," Prouty writes in The Secret Team.
"At the same time he had to announce to the world that he
had known about the flight." "The White House and the
other agencies did not so much approve the flights as hold a veto
power over them," David Wise and Thomas B. Ross write in
their very cautious little book, The U-2 Affair When Eisenhower
in his much-quoted farewell address warned of the dangers of the
military-industrial complex, Prouty speculates, he had in mind
his own Political sabotage at the hands of the CIA in the U-2
fiasco. During the summit that failed, a trigger-happy Pentagon
man even put the U.o military on alert for ten hours, fanning
the flames of Cold War belligerence Eisenhower had intended the
summit to defuse.
Within a month of Kennedy's inauguration, the CIA had ... defied
him, meeting on February 16, 1961, without his knowledge, with
assassins planning the murder of President Trujillo in the Dominican
Republic. Kennedy's policy was that the United States should not
initiate the overthrow of Trujillo, at least not before we knew
what government would succeed him. Concealing its actions from
the president and defying his expressed wishes, the CIA went ahead
anyway. It had attempted the assassination of Patrice Lumumba
in the Congo without clearing the idea with Eisenhower, and saw
no reason to relinquish its power to the new young president.
A CIA cable on the Trujillo assassination reads: "This matter
is not to be discussed with State Department."
Four months into his presidency, John Kennedy, whom onetime CIA
asset Gerald Patrick Hemming calls "the last President to
believe he could take power," refused to submit to CIA blackmail
and commit land troops to Brigade 2506 about to land at the Bay
of Pigs [Cuba]. He cut short the expected air cover.
President Dwight Eisenhower
Any person who doesn't clearly understand
that national security and national solvency are mutually dependent
and that permanent maintenance of a crushing weight of military
power would eventually produce dictatorship should not be entrusted
with any kind of responsibility in our country.
After Brigade 2506's inevitable defeat [Bay of Pigs] and Kennedy's
refusal to be blackmailed into invading Cuba, he fired [CIA Director]
Allen Dulles, which also meant the departure of his subordinate,
General Charles Cabell, whose brother, Jim Garrison would often
note, was mayor of Dallas at the moment Kennedy was murdered.
John F. Kennedy set himself on a course of eviscerating the power
of the CIA. He began to cut away at its operational jurisdiction.
He reevaluated the CIA budget and the Agency's financial autonomy.
As Norman Polmar points out in Spyplane, "under a law passed
on June 20, 1949, the Director of Central Intelligence was designated
the only U.S. government employee who could obligate federal funds
without the use of vouchers."
In May of 1961, only a month after the Bay of Pigs, Kennedy formed
his own "Special Group," meeting as the president's
Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. Its express purpose was to
bring the CIA under the control of the president. "Covert
action programs of the CIA may not have been worth the risk nor
worth the great expenditure of manpower and money," Kennedy
told the group on May 15th. CIA should continue its "intelligence
gathering." He, however, was Undertaking a "total reassessment
of U.S. covert action policies and programs.
President John Kennedy
I've got to do something about those CIA
It was the independence and power of the CIA that John Kennedy
fought, its undermining of his authority, and its secret alliance
with the military. With one particular virulent policy, the assassination
of Fidel Castro, he did not disagree, as the record amply reveals.
Robert Kennedy, representing his brother before the Foreign Intelligence
Advisory Board, began openly to encourage the assassination of
In June 1963, President Kennedy approved "a broad economic
sabotage program directed against refineries, shipping facilities
and other areas of the Cuban economy."
Bobby [Kennedy] instructed ... General Edward Landsdale to send
a memo to CIA's William Harvey to come up with assassination contingency
plans" and to plan "concrete action against Cuba."
... Unknowingly Bobby was enlisting the
CIA's murder apparatus ("executive action" capability),
the very apparatus soon to be turned against his brother. So Bobby
Kennedy fell into a CIA trap that would render him silent about
the murder of his brother for the rest of his life. Facilitating
that macabre double-cross, not yet aware that it had already been
accomplished, the White House itself had requested that the CIA
"create an Executive Action (assassination) capability."
... Bobby requested that the CIA at least
inform him if they were to continue to use Mafia elements in the
assassination attempts on Castro. The CIA ignored him and went
ahead anyway. Feeling no loyalty toward Bobby, Lansdale informed
the FBI and the National Security Agency that both John and Robert
Kennedy were deeply involved in the schemes to kill Castro.
... Someone on his [Bobby Kennedy's] staff,
whom ... he believed he could trust, was betraying him to the
enemy from whom he and his brother had the most to fear, and which,
in their youthful inexperience, they underestimated. This was
the Central Intelligence Agency, which had been charting the Kennedy
brothers' every move.
In October of 1962, as Kennedy was negotiating with Khrushchev
over the missiles the Soviet Union had placed in Cuba, [David
Atlee] Phillips timed raids into Cuba by the terrorist group Alpha
66. At a Washington press conference, Phillips' asset Antonio
Veciana announced that Alpha 66 had just attacked a Russian ship
in a Cuban harbor, and had engaged in a firefight with Russian
troops. It was Eisenhower and the U-2 all over again. Kennedy
fought back, and the CIA failed once more in its ongoing effort
to provoke a ground war in Cuba.
In the intra-government warfare that exploded in the murder of
John F. Kennedy, the president represented not a white knight
for peace and brotherhood, but a different economic perspective.
In Vietnam, he wanted not the ground war that would lead to a
catastrophic death toll and an insupportable deficit, but the
use of Special Forces, aided by an indigenous military. Castro
he wanted dead not by the military invasion the CIA pressed for
throughout his presidency, but by "clandestine means."
"They're going to throw our asses out of there at almost
any point," Kennedy had feared, referring to Vietnam, as
he signed National Security Memorandum (263) mandating the withdrawal
of one thousand soldiers from Vietnam. But long before he decided
against a ground war in Vietnam, Kennedy's fate had been sealed.
At the November 22, 1963, meeting of the
Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board," McCone demanded that
President Kennedy "try to correct the CIA's public image."
McCone wanted the president himself to refute Arthur Krock's charge
that the CIA functioned as a "third government in South Vietnam."
The clandestine services, however, which had managed the murder
of President Diem and plotted against Lumumba, had its own idea
of how to deal with John F. Kennedy.
After the death of his brother, Robert
Kennedy, viewing the CIA as his chief suspect, immediately confronted
[CIA Director] John McCone. "Did the CIA kill my brother?"
The Agency [CIA] [Jim]Garrison was firmly convinced, was behind
the assassination [of JFK].
a former CIA accountant with "top secret" clearance
named James Wilcott who knew Lee Harvey Oswald
Ruby was paid by CIA to do away with Oswald,
[the plan being to] kill Kennedy, link Oswald to Castro and use
this pretext to invade Cuba.
a former military affairs editor at Life [magazine] named J. Garrett
Underhill, a CIA informant. "A small clique in the CIA"
killed President Kennedy, he told his friends. He knew the people
involved and they knew what he knew. As he prepared "to blow
the whistle on the CIA," Underhill was found in bed with
a bullet wound behind his left ear. The date was May 8, 1964.
The CIA maintained a "target file" of people the agency
considered to be hostile. According to Chester Vigurie, who worked
as a file clerk for the CIA field office in New Orleans in the
late 1960s, and later as a probation officer in Jefferson Parish,
"Jim Garrison and everyone connected to his probe of the
JFK case were in the target file."
During Jim Garrison's investigation, Bobby Kennedy fought hard
to maintain the secret of his having known about Lee Harvey Oswald
in advance of the death of his brother. To ensure the possibility
of his becoming president, he had, no less, to keep secret his
own involvement in plots to murder Fidel Castro.
... One of the Cubans whom Garrison had
targeted, and was attempting to extradite from Dallas, Sergio
Arcacha Smith, knew that Bobby's people were aware of Oswald.
So Bobby unleashed Walter Sheridan to ensure that his two secrets
be kept: that he was attempting, independently of the CIA, the
avowed enemy of his brother, to assassinate Fidel Castro and that
Oswald had come to his attention...
Destroying Garrison's investigation became
Bobby's obsession. He kept a dossier on Garrison...
By the summer of 1963 Bobby suspected that a plot against the
life of his brother was emanating out of New Orleans, as Jim Garrison
concluded two years later.
"Jim Garrison was closer to the truth about the conspiracy
than anybody has ever been," agrees Donald P. Norton, the
"Donald" P. Norton of Garrison's investigation and another
witness Garrison did not utilize. Dr. Robert McClelland ... observed
that the back of Kennedy's skull had been blown out and that he
could only have been shot from the front; he concludes that the
assassination was "a high level plot to kill the president
by the CIA and FBI, at the upper and middle levels. A lot of people
in the CIA and FBI thought their fortunes were not attached to
the Kennedys." These included those corporations for whom
a burgeoning national deficit was a small price to pay for the
revenues that would roll in once oil, helicopters, airplanes and
other war materiel went streaming toward Vietnam
Asked to speculate on the peculiar absence of CIA documents mentioning
his DRE [Revolutionary Cuban Student Directorate - one of _the
largest and most effective anti-Castro groups in the United States]
handler, George Joannide DR military strategist Isidro Boria concludes,
"The CIA had to be involved in the assassination of President
Kennedy." The DRE had met with Richard Helms and sensed that
the assassination issued from a faction inside the government,
where it was decided that "we can't let that man remain in
power." The lax security at Dallas police headquarters alone
told you that.
Borja's colleague José Antonio
Lanuza, concurs. "After a while, I thought it could be the
CIA," he says. "Who can cover their rear ends so well?
Castro could not. The Mafia could not. Who has a reason to kill
him? Who is trying to cover up? I would say very high up in government."
Oswald, Lanuza speculates, was a plant in the Soviet Union, "then
deactivated, like many CIA agents and assets who keep their contacts
later. Lanuza points to Watergate.
That CIA was in the murder business there
is no doubt. Watergate conspirator James McCord was with the CIA's
Office of Security in 1963. "When you have violated every
federal statute up to and including murder," he told Martin
F. Dardis, "what's breaking into a doctor's office?"
a reference to the break-in of Daniel Ellsberg's psychiatrist.
Warren Commission historian Mary Ferrell
reflected near the end of her life: "I had such contempt
for Garrison, and now, as the years pass, he was so close and
they did everything in the world to him."
The CIA's efforts in the cover-up continue.
At the millennium a committee of archivists and librarians was
convened by the National Archives. Its purpose was to examine
some sealed records relating to the Kennedy assassination and
to recommend whether they should be opened to the public. Before
the group could make any determinations, they were visited by
a man identifying himself as a representative of the CIA. He warned
them that under no circumstances must they ever reveal to anyone
what they had viewed in those documents. His visit was perceived
as a threat by them all. No one talked.