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Garrison's Case for Conspiracy

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The only person to ever bring anyone to trial for conspiracy in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy was New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison.

Jim Garrison Chases the Tiger

After serving his country in WWII and winning a landmark case that went to the Supreme Court, giving citizens the right to criticize public officials, Garrison suddenly found himself at the center of a firestorm when he arrested prominent and well-liked New Orleans businessman Clay Shaw on charges of conspiracy to assassination the president.

Longtime residents were shocked, to say the least. The case very much polarized the citizenry. Up until that time, Garrison was a remarkably popular DA, who had never lost a case.

After a prelimary hearing at which three judges decided there was enough evidence to bring Clay Shaw to trial, the fires started. The local and national media started innundating the public with stories about the, as the media termed Garrison, "Jolly Green Giant", using the range of options from selective quoting to innuendo and sheer falsehoods.

NBC did a one hour hatchet job on Garrison that was so one-sided Garrison was able, under the then-existing Fairness Doctrine, to press for "equal time" to respond to his critics. He was granted a half-hour which he spent discussing what he could of his case. Garrison believed that a group of anti-Castro Cubans and the CIA conspired to assassinate President Kennedy in retaliation for his anti-war policies both in Cuba and Vietnam.

Excellent books that give much credence to this claim include

Destiny Betrayed: JFK, Cuba and the Garrison Case by James DiEugenio, published by Sheridan Square Press; JFK and Vietnam, by John Newman, published by Carroll & Graff; On the Trail of the Assassins, Jim Garrison's own book of his journey to the center of conspiracy, published by Sheridan Square Press; The Kennedy Conspiracy, by Paris Flammonde (out of print but check your local library); and Newman's new book Oswald and the CIA, published by Carroll & Graff.

The CIA's Interest in Garrison's Case

Once Garrison started looking into the case, people affiliated with the CIA kept popping up over and over. Garrison came to believe the CIA had direct involvement in the assassination. Garrison's interest in the CIA was returned in kind. This file from the Assassination Archives in Washington demonstrates the CIA's keen interest not just in the defendent Clay Shaw, who had covert security clearance to operate with the CIA, but in a man solely called to testify about the impossibility of the "single bullet theory".

That Counterintelligence Director for the CIA Jim Angleton would find it necessary not only to spy but to work with Hoover's FBI in an attempt to dig up dirt on this innocent man's background is key to understanding the nature of (and perhaps reason for) the CIA's intense interest in wrecking Garrison's case.

The Perry Russo Story

Perry Russo became a key witness for Garrison. Russo, upon the death of David Ferrie whom he had known and of whom he was afraid, went to the press and told them how David Ferrie had been talking of killing President Kennedy. Russo told Garrison's staff that one of the men involved in this planning was Clay Bertrand. In the Warren Commission evidence, a Clay Bertrand was reported to have telephoned New Orleans attorney Dean Andrews the night of November 22, 1963, asking Dean Andrews to represent Lee Harvey Oswald. When Perry Russo said Clay Bertrand was really Clay Shaw, a monumental effort began to discredit Perry Russo.

Journalist and intelligence asset James Phelan combed through a long memo that young staff attorney "Moo Moo" Sciambra had written after talking to Perry Russo. Phelan noticed one key thing: in the whole "Sciambra Memorandum", there was no reference to Clay Shaw! Sciambra was stunned, as he had already written about Russo in an earlier memo (partially included below) and could not understand what the fuss was about. Each item below references information from Garrison's files on Russo, as well as some of the testimony from the trial.

Garrison Refutes His Critics: The Famous Playboy Interview

Most of the people who attack Garrison won't let his case and his own words speak for themselves. They quote convicts in jail and journalists who tried to bribe Garrison's witnesses in their attempts to discredit Garrison. Hear from Garrison in his own words and decide for yourselves whether this was a crazy man or a man who "had something":

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