Unredacted Episode 1: Transcript of Interview with Joan Mellen
Joan Mellen is the author of A Farewell to Justice: Jim Garrison, JFK's Assassination, and the Case That Should Have Changed History. This interview was conducted on 22 Feb 2006. Tyler Weaver provided the introduction, and the interview was conducted by Rex Bradford.
|Go to this Unredacted episode's main page to listen to the interview and for additional resources.|
TYLER: Hi there, and welcome to the premiere of "Unredacted," the Mary Ferrell Foundation's semi-regular interview show where we attempt to strip away the blackouts of history and look for the truth behind the JFK assassination with some of the leading authors, historians, and researchers in the field. My name's Tyler Weaver - I'm the co-host and producer of this show - and for our first time out, it's my pleasure to bring you an exclusive interview with Joan Mellen, author of the recently published "A Farewell to Justice: Jim Garrison, JFK's Assassination, and the Case That Should Have Changed History." Conducting the interview with Joan is Rex Bradford, my co-host, and the senior analyst and archivist at the Mary Ferrell Foundation. I'll be back at the end of the interview to do a bit of a wrap-up session, but until that time, I hope you enjoy the interview, and welcome to the show.
REX: I'm Rex Bradford and I'm here with Joan Mellen who is the author of a book entitled "A Farewell to Justice: Jim Garrison, JFK's Assassination, and the Case That Should Have Changed History." Joan is a professor of English and Creative Writing at Temple University, and the author of seventeen books now. Joan, I'd like to start just by asking you, you've written books that range from film criticism to biography, to sports, to other topics. What possessed you to write a book about the Kennedy assassination?
JOAN: Rex, actually, of all the books I've written, many are - involve research. The biographies of Kay Boyle and Lillian Hellman, and Dashiell Hamett certainly do. But when I look back at all these books, there's one that really stays in my mind as beginning my investigatory story, and that is "Privilege," which is a story, a true crime book, about the murder of the daughter of Ambassador David K. E. Bruce. And, I realize, when I look back, that I was preparing for doing a book about the Kennedy assassination then, looking into a murder, trying to figure out who the perpetrator was, traveling to an unknown place, in that case it was southside Virginia, it wasn't Louisiana, and in a way, although one - I didn't know it at the time, preparing to write "A Farewell to Justice..."
REX: Mmhm. You, you...
JOAN: I wrote "A Farewell to Justice" because... I... knew Jim Garrison. I knew Jim Garrison starting in 1969, because my then-husband had sent him a series of articles from Paese Sera, a newspaper, a newspaper of the independent left in Rome that had exposed a CIA front, a trade organization that was actually a funnel for CIA money to interfere in European electoral politics, and on the board of directors of that organization was Clay Shaw, whom Garrison had already indicted for participation in the murder of President Kennedy ...
JOAN: ... and after the Clay Shaw trial, Jim Garrison invited us to New Orleans, really to meet - Clay Shaw had been acquitted, Garrison behaved as if it didn't make any difference, and... he didn't even notice that Shaw was acquitted, he was just as obsessed...
JOAN: ... concerned about the assassination as if that hadn't happened, and was proceeding with, umm, his investigation. Shortly after that - and I stayed in touch with Garrison, I - Garrison's ambition was to be an author, and so I stayed in touch with Garrison, and uh...
REX: How well did you get to know him?
JOAN: He.. he was writing manuscripts - he was writing a novel at the time, and I was an English professor, and I was talking to him a lot about his novel, and discussing the literary aspects of it, with him at great length...
REX: I see.. were...
JOAN: ... mostly over the telephone, over a long period of time. And then in the early 1970s, Garrison was indicted for taking bribes from pinball interests. It was legal to play pinball in New Orleans, but it was illegal to gamble with a pinball machine, to put that device on the pinball machine that the bartender could collect after you won, or whatever. And Garrison then really was distracted from his investigation by having to defend himself against these Federal charges, and at that time, I thought, well, it would be very interesting to write a book about the odyssey of Jim Garrison, and Garrison had sent me to talk to two people, one of whom was his assistant, Andrew Sciambra, also know as Moo-Moo...
JOAN: ... and the other was a friend of Garrison's, a Philadelphia lawyer named Vincent Salandria, and I spent some time with Salandria, I lived fairly -
REX: He's the author of a book called "False Mystery" these days.
JOAN: - I, uh, somehow, after that interview, I decided not to write the book about Jim Garrison at that time, I -
REX: - What... what made you get back to it later?
JOAN: - and then many years passed, and - I suppose there's certain stories that are yours to write, that somehow belong to you, that you feel you have something to offer, and I had two long biographies by then, the Kay Boyle, and also Lillian Hellman and Dashiel Hammet, and I had the skills then, of being able to write a biography, so when I began, in 1997 now - this twenty years after ...
REX: - Mmhmm...
JOAN: ... I thought I was writing a biography of Jim Garrison, he's an interesting person, who happened to investigate the murder of President Kennedy. I was writing also about a reform District Attorney in New Orleans, and the innovations that he brought to the office, and the struggles that he had against corruption in Louisiana, and the fact that he was born in Iowa, not in the... he was not from the South, and came from a different culture, and the difficulties that he had. And as I was going on, I eventually wrote a book of fifteen hundred pages, which included both the story of Garrison in political life in Louisiana, and also a biography of his investigation of the Kennedy assassination.
REX: Well, somewhere along the way there, um, you changed from writing just biography to actually doing - not only a reappraisal of Garrison, but also investigating the assassination yourself. How, how did that all come about?
JOAN: Well, I did that, and then I realized, of course, that Garrison stopped, as I said because of the pinball trial, and then because the House Select Committee took up the investigation, and Garrison sat back and really took the position that the truth would come out, and he was going to wait and see what would happen. Of course, nothing did happen, the investigation by the House Select Committee was entirely corrupted by the CIA, which is another point we might discuss if we have time. I... when I began, when I was writing my biography of Jim Garrison's investigation, what I realized was, of course, Garrison had died in 1992, and that was the very year of the Assassination Records Act, what's called the JFK Act, and all the new documents had begun to come out, and so, what was really needed, was the story of the Louisiana portion of the conspiracy to murder President Kennedy based on all this flood of hundreds of thousands of documents from the FBI, the CIA, the New Orleans Metropolitan Crime Commission, the Office of Naval Intelligence, the Customs, the Secret Service, and many agencies that began to accumulate at the National Archives, and I was able to use documents even, that had, uh, been released only in 2005, the same year that the book was published -
REX: I was amazed when -
JOAN: And.. yes, go ahead.
REX: - when I saw that in your book, I noticed that there's certainly a wide breadth of materials that you call upon... at the Mary Ferrell website actually, we have some of those materials there. There's, uh, from the Russ Holmes Work File of CIA documents, and New Orleans Parish Grand Jury transcripts and so forth, which also came out in the nineties, um -
JOAN: Well I would even mention that one of the - some of the best finds, of course, what you love most are the documents that come last -
REX: Hah, sure.
JOAN: - and one of the documents that I especially enjoyed that came only in 2005, just to give one example, was a CIA document of Guy Bannister, whom the listeners to this tape will be able identify easily, ran the detective agency in New Orleans that, where Oswald congregated, and whose side door at 544 Camp Street he put on one of his leaflets - well, this document revealed that Guy Bannister had been recruited under project QKENCHANT, which was a CIA project of which the person in New Orleans who was responsible for that project was, in fact, Clay Shaw. And here, so with that - the document does not mention the name Clay Shaw, but on the other hand, here's Bannister being cleared for QKENCHANT. Now, what QKENCHANT meant was the if, if somebody was cleared, as Clay Shaw was, for QKENCHANT, he was able to recruit people who were not officially employees of the CIA to participate in CIA projects.
REX: Sure. Actually -
JOAN: And he was -
REX: Joan, I'd like to actually get back to that. What I want to do is wind us back a little bit in time to the Garrison probe, but why don't we start with Clay Shaw, in fact, because, the, the - one of the points of contention in the trial was Shaw's CIA connections, which he denied on the stand in the trial. I think there's still people, to this day, arguing that what's come out since just shows a, sort of straight businessman, traveling businessman's connection, and both in Bill Davies' book, "Let Justice Be Done", and, to a greater extent, I think, even in your book, there's now documentary record that it goes beyond that, in particular, this project QKENCHANT. Can you describe a little about - what do we know about that project? What was it?
JOAN: Well, let's look in general, as you say Rex, and look at the many documents that have emerged of Clay Shaw's CIA records, and show - and I think they, both the clearance of Clay Shaw for QKENCHANT, and also all the records of Shaw's that we have, and we - we're not pretending that we have everything. One of the things, if you read these documents, you can see that Clay Shaw was no mere businessman being debriefed after trips to Latin America as has been said by a variety of writers, starting with James Phelan, Max Holland, Patricia Lambert, and I don't even remember all of them, but one after the other, they use - I thought this was very interesting - in my book, they use same phrase, and every one of them, they say either "routine" or "routinely." "He was a businessman routinely debriefed." Well, when you look at these documents - what you find is that isn't the case at all. What you find is that the CIA is giving Clay Shaw an assignment, he's - they're asking him to go to whatever country it is, do this, and come back and give us the result. So far from just debriefing, here he is actually taking on active assignments for the CIA, which he did willingly. He owed the CIA his entire career, and it was a small price to pay for Shaw to do these favors for the CIA.
REX: Right, and QKENCHANT also apparently involved some kind of recruiting role. Do we know much about that?
JOAN: QKENCHANT, yes. The CIA documents that we have describe the various people who were cleared for QKENCHANT, among them was Monroe Sullivan, the person Clay Shaw visited during the weekend of the Kennedy assassination. And what we know - well the word "enchant" suggests it does - what the CIA said that that project was, was that you could - if you were cleared for QKENCHANT as a CIA employee or asset - and we have to go back, I want to stop a minute here, and look back at the House Select Committee interview with John Whitten, who was the CIA, part of the CIA Clandestine Services, explaining how the words "employee," or "agent," or "asset" were really, really are interchangeable. So I think that, you, whatever you want to call Clay Shaw, he certainly was operational. He was an operative, or an asset, or an employee, and these people who were cleared for QKENCHANT were enlisting people who were not employees of the CIA to participate in CIA run projects or operations.
REX: Ok, so -
JOAN: So that was only one of the things that Clay Shaw did, and the other part about the Clay Shaw and his role in the CIA is that - and I have the documentation in "A Farewell to Justice," - that when you look in the CIA's files, for the, for the files of Clay Shaw, who was cleared for five different components of the CIA - so clearly it wasn't just domestic contact - you find that most of the files for Clay Shaw reside in operations -
REX: Ok, so -
JOAN: - so it was very clear that Clay Shaw worked for the Clandestine Services. Now, in New Orleans, it was - according to a CIA document - I think they say that it was only 1967 that the Clandestine Service and the domestic contact merge, and are organized by the same people. But it's pretty clear that this has been the case throughout the entire postwar period.
REX: Sure. I, I think we'll probably end up coming back to Shaw, but what I want to do is spend a little bit of time hitting a few of the highlights of the Garrison investigation, in particular, I'd like to focus on something that seems to have come out more lately over the years, which is the extent to which not only the Federal government, but allies in the press, conducted a coordinated campaign against Garrison. And, I'd, um, like to start actually by talking about something that's in your book a fair amount, which is people infiltrating the investigation itself. Names in your book include people like William Martin, Bill Boxley, William Gervich, Bernardo de Torres. One thing that struck me is, I think a lot of people - including myself - I think, end up being a little confused about just who's playing what side because the facts end up complex and controversial. I'd like to bring up an example of this, which is a man named Alberto Fowler, who you treat as genuine in your book, despite the fact that other people don't think that way about him. He, um, brought Bernardo de Torres onto the team, and according to a memo that I believe is mentioned in your book, he lived in Clay Shaw's house in 1966 for three months. Can you explain how you went about trying to find the truth of the matter with people like Fowler?
JOAN: My dear, I have to tell you that a psychiatrist whom I know also rented Clay Shaw's house, and his name is Dr. (unclear), and he um - and my gynecologist knew Clay Shaw. I think that New Orleans was a very small town, and Clay Shaw was a social figure who often - you know, was in real estate - and rented his house, rented other houses. There's absolutely no significance to people renting property from Clay Shaw, including Clay Shaw's own house. So, I think that - and I'd like to raise a larger issue here in connection with a question like that Rex -
JOAN: - and that's I really lament the fact that the professional historians, and I number among them from Arthur Schlesinger to Michael Beschloss and other people of - respected in the field, for example Taylor Branch, in his new biography - third volume of his biography of Martin Luther King refuses to discuss the assassination of his subject, which is just about the - Robert Dallek did the same thing in his biography of John F. Kennedy - that, because of professional historians have refused to discuss the death of their subjects unheard of. Well, the amateurs have taken over here, and have - without the skills, really, of research and scholarship - do not know how to deal with information and get a - I think - and make much of nothing, and don't have any perspective, don't know how to assess a witness, don't know how to assess whether a witness is telling the truth, are confused by the fact that a witness may lie at sometimes and not lie at others, are confused by the fact that a witness may have done illegal actions, done criminal actions, and they get so confused that they can't tell who's a good witness and who is not, and -
REX: Sure -
JOAN: - a big mess occurs. I just, I'm speaking in general there. I'm speaking obviously of Thomas Edward Beckham, I'm speaking of other witnesses here who have been - uh, even Carlos Marcello - I'm speaking of the misuse of the words of Carlos Franqui, which has been outrageous. I'm speaking of so much distortion of witness testimony that I understand, when people come to my book with a thousand plus interviews in it, that people become confused, and I wish my book were two thousand pages long, and I could give so much context that people could understand how one goes about assessing who a credible witness is, and who isn't. So -
REX: I... I -
JOAN: I didn't interview Alberto Fowler, he was dead before I started, but I want to say what I have to say about Alberto Fowler, and that is the people who criticize Albert Fowler are liars - I'm just going to go right out and say that -
REX: Ok, Ok -
JOAN: - because it's outrageous. Absolutely outrageous. The way I - how did find out about Alberto Fowler? I talked to everyone who knew Alberto Fowler from every side I could. I was interested in Alberto Fowler because he was such an unlikely person to have worked with Jim Garrison as he did - he was totally loyal to Jim Garrison - and, which, um, would not be the case of Pershing Gervais, William Martin, and any of the - Bill Boxley and Tom Bethel - and any of the people who appear on the CIA list of plants in Jim Garrison's office.
Now, Alberto Fowler, yes, brought Bernardo de Torres into Jim Garrison's investigation, and that was a mistake, but you have to remember that Angelo Murgado traveled with Bernardo de Torres to the home of Sylvia Odio, where Oswald was set up for the murder of President Kennedy, and Angelo Murgado did not know that de Torres was part of the plot to kill President Kennedy and -
JOAN: - that two days after they visited Sylvia Odio, Bernardo de Torres would telephone Sylvio Odio and say "this Leon Oswald, he's talking about killing President Kennedy." If Angelo Murgado had known that, you can imagine that he would have raised holy hell, that he was totally loyal to the Kennedys -
REX: I -
JOAN: - and certainly greatly devoted to Robert Kennedy - he told me that he vomited when he was watching television on the weekend of the assassination, and saw the, Oswald being arrested for the murder of President Kennedy.
REX : I'd actually like to get back -
JOAN: So, I'm going back, I want to go back - so I just want to say that, again, the fact that Alberto Fowler knew Bernardo de Torres because both of them had been in the Bay of Pigs. Now I want to go back to the people that I talked to about Alberto Fowler, since you mentioned - I'm very upset about this because I think Alberto Fowler was a very tragic figure in the history of Cuba, and in the history of the - in a way - partly, the Kennedy assassination, but also in the whole anti-Castro history, which really has not been told properly yet to this day, and that so many distortions have been presented about this that it's - it's really very upsetting. I spoke about Alberto Fowler to his nephew, George Fowler. Now, George Fowler was high up in the Cuban-American Foundation, which is one of the most militant anti-Castro organizations. I also spoke to the family of Alberto Fowler, and that means all his children, nephews, his niece, the married relations. I spoke to his best friend, who was named Antonio Navarro, who wrote a book called (unclear) - again, a great - I think he worked for the CIA in Miami, as a matter of fact, for the radio station there.
JOAN: And I talked to everyone - and I also talked about Alberto Fowler and his role in the Garrison investigation to the Garrison Chief Investigator, Louis Ivon -
REX: Sure, Ok -
JOAN: - and I actually - if I have to spend the whole hour on Alberto I'm going to do it -
REX: (laughs) OK - I think that -
JOAN: - because you can -
REX: - Joan, Joan -
JOAN: - because you can use Alberto Fowler, Rex, as a microcosm of the lies that are told about the Garrison investgation -
REX: Ok -
JOAN: - so we can go into this, we can do an hour on Pershing Gervais, or we could do an hour on whomever, but I want to say, um - don't get me started on Alberto Fowler -
REX: (laughing) Sure, sure, OK -
JOAN: I just asked because after Bernardo de Torres, we know who, what he was. When I went to Louis finally when I was doing my own investigation, and I said "tell me everything about Alberto Fowler," Louis - a very tactiturn individual, he just looked at me and said "nothing bad." And believe me, Louis knew everybody that was disloyal to Jim Garrison.
REX: Ok, well that's interesting. OK, well, I'm sure we could spend an hour on many of the characters in the story. I actually picked his name mostly at random to portray, I think the confusion that a lot of people still bring to the Garrison matter, and not to pick his name out in particular. I'd like to actually move on and talk some more about - there's some heroes you mention in your book. Francis Fruge and Robert Buras come to mind, and your book's dedicated to Buras, and I wonder if you might say a few words about him.
JOAN: Robert Buras was, I almost think of - was kind of a partner to me. I went to, naturally, when I was looking for people to talk to, I found the Louisiana team, people who worked for the House Select Committee doing the Louisiana investigation into the part of the assassination in Louisiana. They were L.J. Delsa and Robert Buras. Now, L.J. was an extremely friendly, gregarious fellow, no difficulty in finding L.J. However, Robert Buras was not about to talk to anybody. He had no interest in people, and - it's very strange to know which witnesses will talk, sometimes people don't talk. One of the witnesses said to me last night - this is a slight digression - a kind of an assassination buff named Steve Jones had found one of my witnesses first, before I knew about him, and asked him about what he knew about - was a friend of David Ferrie's, who was the pilot who Garrison was about to indict before he suddenly died. And, so Steve Jones got onto this character, and - Steve Jones is a preacher, has something to do with religion. Well, this fellow said to me "I'm an atheist, and the last thing I'm gonna do is talk to a preacher."
JOAN: And so he told him nothing, and Steve Jones then - who was stymied - only then -called me, and said "there's this witness friend of David Ferrie's." Now, if I, if the witness had talked to Steve Jones, I never would have gotten him, and I wouldn't have been able to corroborate to the extent that I could the testimony of Garrison's chief witness, Perry Russo.
REX: Ok -
JOAN: Because this witness told me about how he had seen Oswald with David Ferrie, confirming what Perry Russo had said, which was that Leon Oswald was present on the night that David Ferrie and Clay Shaw discussed the assassination in Perry Russo's presence.
REX: Ok, is this the mys -
JOAN: Now, I, I forgot the question that we're on now -
JOAN: - that's not the question.
REX: (laughs) Ok -
JOAN: The question was about -
REX: I'm just curious about the story about Buras, because it ties into the House Select Committee -
JOAN: Oh, Robert Buras. So anyway, finally, L.J. gave Robert Buras my number, and finally Buras said OK to my getting his beeper number, and I called it, and he called me, and we've been talking ever since. And, so I think that I was just very fortunate to come upon somebody who's extremely intellectual, likes ideas, and very open-minded. He was a wonderful witness for me, because he didn't come with predisposition toward Jim Garrison. In fact, he and Jim Garrison were not buddies - I think L.J. and Garrison got along much better. Buras was a religious man, by the way, it turned out, and very straight-laced, very puritanical. Garrison was much more flamboyant and easy-going, and they, they were not a match in personality - Buras had his doubts about Garrison when he began the investigation. But one of the things I found out about Buras - who ended up poor by the way, ended up homeless, as a victim in St. Bernard's Parish, a victim of Hurricane Katrina, so he epitomizes much, in a way, of what happened in New Orleans. He really could gain nothing, he just really wanted to talk - and as a police officer, he had gone through a whole career in the New Orleans police, is an entirely honest individual, a person of integrity. He also served in New Orleans Police Intelligence. That is why I think L.J. brought him on the team - 'cause L.J. was homicide, and Buras was intelligence. The two of them together formed a perfect team for doing this kind of investigation.
REX: And, and you write -
JOAN: He has been a - so I - he helped me, we would be in touch on a daily basis for years, mostly emails, and he, he helped me to navigate - also to navigate much of the background, the New Orleans background, from a point - from the streets - in a way that I could never have known it as an outsider.
REX: I -
JOAN: I couldn't have known, for example, that the police shorthand for the FBI was (unclear) street and the reason for that was that (unclear) street is one way, which meant, that yes, you give information to the FBI, but you never get any back. But there were so many things, and he was able to describe for me the drinking and Bourbon Street, the role of Linda (Brouchette?) because he actually arrested Linda (Brouchette?), and so forth, so -
REX: Ok -
JOAN: Enormous, he was sort of the zelig of this story. He appears in so many aspects of it - up to the House Select Committee, and of course, he was able to expose for me the corruption of Robert Blakey, and how Robert Blakey had refused, when the Louisiana investigators were getting very close to the truth about the Kennedy assassination, they were suspended, and because the House Select Committee did not want to allow the truth about the CIA's involvement in the assassination.
REX: You - you also tell your story -
JOAN: They were suspended.
REX: You - you also tell the story in your book about Buras having to be shepherded around with a witness list describing which witnesses the House Select Committee would allow him to interview, right?
JOAN: Well, at a certain point - that's right Rex - at a certain point, of course, the House Select Committee - Blakey and Cornwell - said, "no, do not follow any of the Garrison leads." But at that time, when the, uh - first of all, immediately, Buras and Delsa were separated, and Buras was allowed to go up to Clinton and Jackson, but only in the presence of this woman, Patrica Orr, who was really a mouthpiece for Blakey and Cornwell and they were given a list, and they were not allowed to interview anyone who was not already interviewed, and - Buras was very upset because he was not allowed to see the original statements that the witnesses had made, which meant that he couldn't compare - any police officer knows, "let's compare what they said before and what they're saying now, and see if the stories mesh." And they were not permitted to see those documents. So, it was really a farcical situation.
REX: Joan, I'd like to, um, back up in time again, back to the time of the Garrison investigation, because a couple years ago, I had read Grand Jury - the Grand Jury testimony, when the it became available, and one thing that really struck me, um, I think at that point, I had been still in the muddled middle, I guess about the back-and-forth charges about, from people in the press, and people like Walter Sheridan, who weren't really press people per se, but took on that role. And there's - a fair amount has come out about people like James Phelan, Hugh Aynesworth, Walter Sheridan, and I wanted to zero in on Walter Sheridan for a couple reasons.
One, there's a story in the Grand Jury testimony told by three different parties involving Sheridan when he came out to do his NBC White Paper, having a meeting set up with an organized crime figure named Zachary Strate that was apparently set up by either Malcolm O'Hara, a judge who was a political enemy of Garrison's, and a lawyer named Edward Baldwin. I wonder if you might tell that story about what that meeting was all about?
JOAN: Well, I think one of the things that Sher - what you have to understand what Sheridan's purpose was. Sheridan went down to New Orleans - he admitted this, and his assistant, Richard Townley, who worked with WDSU in New Orleans, the NBC affiliate - their job was to discredit Jim Garrison. They figured that the best way that they could do that was to use Pershing Gervais - because Pershing Gervais was a corrupt police officer who'd been Garrison's Chief Investigator. And we have to remember that years later, when Walter Sheridan went after Jim Garrison again in the early 1970s, the person whom he used to try to destroy Jim Garrison was Pershing Gervais.
JOAN: And the way that he was trying to do it was through Zachary Strate, and he was going to bribe - if they could deliver Pershing Gervais to help them - then somehow Zachary Strate would somehow, you know, get off on charges that had been filed against him, and -
REX: I - I think -
JOAN: - when Baldwin was present, he was a CIA asset, his brother worked for the International Trade Mart and Clay Shaw, David Baldwin, and these, these are CIA people. Malcolm O'Hara is sitting there - he doesn't know what hit him - and eventually Strate did not cooperate, and he went up there, and he attacked Sheridan - of course, Sheridan had immunity - nothing anyone could say about Sheridan whether in court, affidavits signed against Sheridan, Sheridan had immunity as a National Security Agency asset, cleared for FBI work, cleared for CIA work, working for the Department of Justice - and we have to bear in mind that although Robert Kennedy was ostensibly, you know, the person to whom Sheridan reported, Sheridan continued in his attacks on Jim Garrison even after the death of Robert Kennedy because - obviously Robert Kennedy died in 1968 - here's Sheridan still trying to destroy Garrison in the early 1970s.
Sheridan is a criminal, and uh, people who really looked at the methods that he used to convict Jimmy Hoffa - deceit, bribery, wiretapping, blackmail, I - every kind of violation of the civil liberties of the defendant, I mean, any - I, how they convicted Hoffa, the thing was totally corrupt, and, as I write in the book - and as I think I say many times - please look at the three part series by Fred Cook in "The Nation" magazine to see the extent of Sheridan's - he, he - he was a criminal.
REX: Is, is -
JOAN: They actually finally indicted him in the state of Louisiana, there was no - two witnesses, Sheridan tried to corrupt two of Garrison's witnesses - one was Perry Russo, one was Marlene Mancuso. These people then went up and signed affidavits against Sheridan that, you know - at that time, in the late 1960s, there was no law in the state of Louisiana against obstruction of justice. So Sheridan had to be indicted for petty bribery and other charges, and Garrison did indict him - charge him - but of course, Sheridan was immune because of his role in the - high up in the Federal government - he easily got Federal judges to let him off. He was a figure of the - Walter Sheridan was a scandalous figure, and uh - I was astonished - absolutely astonished at one of the conferences in November when Peter Dale Scott got up and said that I wasn't fair to Walter Sheridan - and the truth about Walter Sheridan hasn't even begun to be scratched, and I certainly did - with the limited amount of space that I had in my book that I really - I was working on a very, very strict word count - I could have gone on and on in describing Walter Sheridan -
REX: Well, is -
JOAN: I, I worth it -
REX: Well, well, is there more to the story, to be fair to the other side I suppose - Malcolm O'Hara and Edward Baldwin, in their Grand Jury testimony said they weren't privy to the details of the conversation between Strate and Sheridan. I'm curious is there's more corroboration for the story, or what the full picture is?
JOAN: I don't think that, well, I don't think that Malcolm O'Hara wanted any part of it. I don't think Edward Baldwin can be trusted for a word that he - I don't really see that uh, that has any bearing whatsoever here. I think all you have to do is to look at the tapes that are made, and see that, oh we don't need that - see, we have tapes of Sheridan and Phelan trying to subvert the witnesses. These were people, were wired, there are actual transcripts of the tapes of tampering with Garrison's witnesses. I - I - we, we are privy to those conversations, we don't need any second hand information from the likes of Edward - Edward Baldwin.
REX (laughs) Ok -
JOAN: There is no other side to this - I happen not to believe that there are always two sides, I just don't. I'm very - I - I just don't believe that. In the case of Walter Sheridan - it's a scandal.
REX: Let's move on in - I'd like to move on. There's so much to talk about here. The trial itself, after all was said and done, and Clay Shaw was acquitted after less than an hour of deliberation. I wanted to get your perspective on how solid the case was against Shaw, from your standpoint, and what went wrong?
JOAN: Well, I don't think that Garrison had the evidence that he needed to convict Shaw, because - strictly speaking, he did. And that is all you had to show to convict Shaw - because I think, by the way, this says something about the jury system. The conspiracy law says that all you need is to show the participation of a person in the conspiracy with knowledge of the crime - they don't have to be at the crime, they don't have to participate in the crime - so if you can establish Perry Russo's credibility - and also Charles Spiesel - because Charles Spiesel's story was a good story, just because whatever else he did eccentrically, and I think this again too is the amateurs at work - because the fact - whether or not Spiesel had these paranoid attitudes about his daughter and fingerprinting his daughter did not mean that the testimony that he gave about seeing - you know, hearing Shaw and Ferrie discuss the Kennedy assassination was not true -
REX: Well - well let's -
JOAN: - and there were many things that Spiesel said that were true -
REX: Well, let's talk about him for a second though -
JOAN: - so let's leave Spiesel out of it for a second -
REX - Ookay.
JOAN: - and going back to Perry Russo's testimony - there's nothing that happened at the Clay Shaw trial or at the preliminary hearing that shook Perry Russo's testimony. Nothing. After all, Perry Russo established that Clay Shaw and Ferrie - what their alibis would be in September, and there it turns out these are exactly what their alibis would be. Corroborative witnesses show - as I said before - that Oswald was indeed at Ferrie's house, so those who attack Perry Russo on the ground that he said Oswald was there and that was outrageous - that - that's false.
Furthermore, the idea that he didn't discuss Clay Shaw - Clem Bertrand, if you like - at the first meeting with Andrew Sciambra is also easily proven to be false. The idea that Shaw was Bertrand was proven a hundred times over -
REX: Sure -
JOAN: - I mean, I don't know how many times you have to prove it. So when we look - we examine - Perry Russo's testimony, we can say that this is a very good witness. Now, if we then see that what Perry Russo says is true, Shaw is guilty. Shaw's collaboration with Ferrie, and with Oswald, discussing the Kennedy assassination before the fact. Oswald later is shown to have something to do with the Kennedy assassination, whether he fired the fatal shot - or any shots at all, notwithstanding - he certainly had been drawn into this plot, obviously was set up to -
REX: But if I -
JOAN: - take responsibility -
REX: But if I could jump in Joan -
JOAN: Yes -
REX: I think that - I mean doesn't it - I mean, it really hangs on Russo then because even if there's other evidence that Clay Shaw used the alias Bertrand, even that he had tried to hire Dean Anderson to defend Oswald -
JOAN: See, I - you misunderstand me. I'm only mentioning Bertrand in the light of Russo.
REX: I see.
JOAN: I'm not mentioning the Bertrand in itself. In itself, anybody can call anybody and say go to Oswald and represent my friend Lee Oswald - go to Dallas, I mean. That, that's not what I'm saying. I'm using the Bertrand only insofar as Russo's testimony has Bertrand in it. What I'm doing is saying that if we examine each aspect of Russo's testimony, we can see that on Russo's testimony alone- plus, the corroborative testimony of the Clinton witnesses, of other witnesses, we certainly can see - and we examine exactly what Clay Shaw was doing with Lee Oswald, plus we can see Clay Shaw doing assignments for the CIA - now that he lied and said he had no association with the CIA - and that's easily proven. He perjured himself on the stand, when his lawy - whether he suborned perjury, or whatever, whether the lawyers were cynical, that of course, we can't read their minds. Salvatore Panzeca told me - one of Clay Shaw's lawyers - he told me that Shaw was open with them, and told them everything - it's hard to believe if that's true, and he suborned perjury, there's no question about that.
REX: Mmhm. Let's go back to Spiesel for a minute, though. I must say that when I had read about the Clay Shaw trial, and what went on there, I had made the assumption that Garrison and his team must have been sideswiped because it seems like despite his being able to identify an apartment building and so forth, still the fact that he could easily be made to look like such a fool because of the crazy beliefs that he held, that he would have ended up just being a terrible witness, and I -
JOAN: No, no. He would have been a wonderful witness. The problem was Alcock. The problem - and I don't mean that they didn't know about this, because everybody knew. The problem was, that when you have a witness who has some unusual aspect about him shall we say, it's up to the prosecution to bring it out himself, and not leave the witness out there for the defense to lay waste.
REX: I, I see.
JOAN: If Alcock had brought it up himself, and laid it out before, it would have been - everything would have been fine. It's just that he thought he was playing Russian Roulette - any lawyer right out of law school knows that if you - you bring it out yourself. You don't rely on the fact the other side doesn't know about it. So, I think that would have completely - it would have completely neutralized the whole thing and there would have been no big deal about it.
REX: Do you -
JOAN: Yes, I think it's just an example of, um - you see these people were in over their heads -
REX: At - at this juncture, do you think Spiesel possibly was fed information, like where the apartment was, and it was actually a plant?
JOAN: No. No. No - I don't think so. I don't know. One of the things I want to say about my book is there's no theory, there's no speculation. When I don't know, I don't know. Or, when I do, you know - I - I just present what I found out, and I - what I've judged to be credible, and what's connected to what else.
Not any - I do not know if Spiesel was sent in there - many people have said so, but since I don't know it I don't say it.
REX: Ok. You'd mentioned Robert Kennedy earlier in the context of Walter Sheridan, and I would like to get back to that because I think for a lot of people, Robert Kennedy's role has been puzzling over the years. You know, his conspicuous silence on the Warren Commission, followed by his - I guess you'd have to say at minimum acquiesence in the torpedoeing of Garrison by associates of his. What do you think was going on there?
JOAN: Well, as you say Rex, one thing we do know is that the Kennedy family, and that was represented by Robert Kennedy, did not want an investigation into the murder of John F. Kennedy. We see it at Bethesda, we don't need Jim Garrison's investigation and the destruction of that to see that. They did not want (unclear) testified in New Orleans that it was the Kennedy family (unclear) didn't want a full autopsy and so forth -
REX: If I - If I could jump in there. Could I jump in there though? Because I, while I would not dispute Kennedy interference in the autopsy per se, I think every single witness that describes it, it's heresay on their part. They're being told by someone else that it's Kennedy family -
JOAN: Well, yes -
REX: - interference.
JOAN: Well, then we have further corroboration of this active role of Robert Kennedy in trying to stop the Garrison investigation. So, we have the Kennedy family trying to stop the release of the x-rays and autopsy records -
REX: Sure -
JOAN: - even when Garrison goes into Federal Court shortly before the Shaw trial. So it's not heresay when we have example after example - if it were just one example, ok - but we get example after example of it.
REX: Ok, Ok, sure -
JOAN: Even in the day when the House Select Committee telephoned Edward Kennedy, he refuses even to speak to them. So I think it's pretty clear that the Kenn - even to this day, in fact - we have heard nothing from them, and not only that, we hear nothing from Schlesinger, Sorenson, or Goodwin.
REX: So what's the meaning of all this silence?
JOAN: So what is all this? They're covering up something. The question is - what could it possibly be? I think here, and I just try to show the - what Robert Kennedy was up to, and how close Jim Garrison was getting to Robert Kennedy's own plots and involvement with General Edward Lansdale and without him - in the assassination of Fidel Castro. And, what Robert Kennedy feared was that the people that he was involved with - the anti-Castro people that were in his team to - that were going murder Fidel Castro - that some of those people were organized into the murder of his brother. In particular, Lee Harvey Oswald.
REX: I -
JOAN - And that's why it was extremely important to me to find that Robert Kennedy was fully aware of Oswald - that, as Angelo Murgado - an absolutely terrific witness for me, and with absolutely no question in my mind whatsoever as to his credibility - he had no reason to lie - nothing he said contradicted any other fact, everything he said made sense to me - he didn't say it reluctantly - he was - and again, there just wasn't - what he said may not please people, but it just - everything - it all - if it didn't fit with every other piece of evidence that I did over seven years, I wouldn't have listened to him, but everything they said (unclear)
It's absolutely inconceivable that Sylvia Odio would not have identified those two people that were with the Latin seeming people - I mean that she would start talking and not know who those people were - she kept silent for a reason - she was terrified of those people, in particular, of course de Torres, which she had good reason to be -
REX: I - I'd like to actually get back to -
JOAN: But anyway, getting back to Robert Kennedy if you will, the idea that you see that the -and this made perfect sense when Angelo Kennedy, now Kennedy, told me that he had discovered -you see they had Oswald under surveillance - that was something that certainly Robert Kennedy did not want the world - certainly could easily be misunderstood that he knew about Oswald months before the assassination, had him on his radar. Now they find out - which is a hundred percent true, no question - that Oswald was working for the FBI in New Orleans. The evidence there is overwhelming.
REX: Who - who -
JOAN: So of course they found that out -
REX: Murgado was presumably part of a team of people? Who else was doing this with him?
JOAN: Well, he had Manuel Artime, he had Manolo Rebozo, he others that were - there was a whole group of Cubans there, they'd go up to New Orleans - so why are they in New Orleans?
REX: Artime was -
JOAN: They were in New Orleans because they understand that - as Angelo said - that that was where they were sent there - something was happening and I think Robert Kennedy had a feeling that if there was going to be some Cubans that were going to be involved in the murder of his brother, they were very likely to be in New Orleans. Now I have to say on Bobby Kennedy's behalf that when he discovered that Oswald was so close to the FBI field office in New Orleans, he breathed a sigh of relief and he said to himself, "well, if the FBI had.." he just misunderstood completely what was going on here. But he said "if the FBI has him under control, then he's no threat." Well, of course, he was a threat, but not for the reasons that - he was a threat because he was being used. Robert Kennedy - and I think the Kennedys had an enormous amount of hubris, they thought that they could control situations that were way out of their control, which is no criticism of them. I mean, the forces that were against them were a juggernaut. I mean, after all, the cul - at that time the Clandestine Service of the CIA was operational, was running as President Truman said - was quoted many times - a shadow government. They were running their own show - operational, and nobody was going to tell them what to do. They were one step ahead of John F. Kennedy every which way. They were involved with trying to assassinate Trujillo, without telling President Kennedy - Diem, they - I mean, you could go on and on.
REX: I'd like to get back to that bigger picture. Can we finish - I'm curious about - to tell a little bit more about Murgado. First of all, were you able to talk to any associates of his? Are they all dead at this point? I - I'm curious -
JOAN: Artime's dead. I tried to do that. I was not able. I was only able to get to Angelo Murgado at the end, in June. Now, now this is June. I'm reading the proofs of this book in August. I had - I just felt this Japanese feeling "kee ga suminai" - something isn't finished. I was just always disturbed - as Jim Garrison was - by why Robert Kennedy - and you use the word, Rex, "torpedo" - why Robert Kennedy - and it's Garrison's word - was going to torpedo his investigation. And so, when I had the opportunity to interview, at last, Angelo Murgado - the other one, Rebozo's in Nicaragua, I couldn't get to him - but, I thought "well, this is an opportunity that I had to uh, you know, see what I could find out, and um -
REX: I - I'm curious to -
JOAN: - so I went to - it was really - and of course, it broke open an enormous amount of information. Again, I spoke to other people who supported th - one of them was a soldier of fortune named Edward Arthur, now whom I spoke to right after I saw Murgado. And then I also interviewed again (unclear), I interviewed Howard K. Davis, and other people associated with Murgado, who knew him well. Then I was able to see right after that to corroborate what he said. So I really, I did talk to quite a lot of the people out of that Miami anti-Castro and Florida anti-Castro area.
REX: I found one aspect of that story interesting in your book. You describe he and Bernardo de Torres going to visit Sylvia Odio with a twist on the story, which is that Oswald was already in her apartment -
JOAN: Well, you see there, that's what Angelo said. Now, if you notice, I say "he said." Now I don't really - and again, there I had to say "he said" because that's what he did say, he wanted to make that understood. Whether it's true or not there - to me, finally, it doesn't make any difference whether Oswald was in the car, or whether Oswald was already there. I - I - he was there.
REX: Well, I guess -
JOAN: It doesn't make any difference. I'm not a hundred percent sure - as I say, that's why I attribute that to the witness.
REX: Well -
JOAN: That's what the witness wanted me to write, that's what I wrote.
REX: Sure. I mean - it probably -
JOAN: I'm not positive.
REX: It would probably make a bit of a difference to the story of who Murgado was and what he was actually doing, but I was more curious -
JOAN: It doesn't make any difference because he admitted to me that he was close to Oswald throughout the whole New Orleans period, that he knew him in New Orleans, that he surveilled him in New Orleans, and particularly, he even said to me -
REX: So he -
JOAN: - that there was no-one - Angelo Murgado said to me - there was no-one Oswald knew in the city of New Orleans that he did not know Oswald knew. And so we got into this discussion about Juan Valdez, who was this Cuban orchid grower who knew Oswald well. And I know this because the witness there was also an unimpeachable witness - which, you know, some of these witnesses, like Oswald, for example, were utterly impeachable. But this was an unimpeachable witness, the wife of a close friend of Clay Shaw's, and I - when I said that - Angelo Murgado looked at me and he said "oh, well I don't know about that." And if, you know, he didn't know about that the implication was nobody Oswald knew he did not know about. So whether Oswald - so to the idea that he did - he never denied that he really was - he was just really up to the minute on Oswald, whether he was in the car, not in the car, he certainly knew everything about Oswald.
REX: Sure, ok. I just found the aspect of whether Oswald was in her apartment or not interesting because it recalls earlier reports from a person that Sylvia told her story to - a friend of hers - who reported to the FBI that Oswald was giving talks to Cubans at meetings, and was active there in Dallas.
JOAN: In the Dallas area, right -
REX: So, it reminded me -
JOAN: Could have been either way. It doesn't make any difference because the point Angelo certainly never denied that he knew Oswald well.
JOAN: Bernardo de Torres? Of course, even knew him better.
REX: Let's back up to the bigger picture at this point. Your book points a pretty long, accusing finger at the CIA, as did Garrison himself, for involvement in the assassination. I must say that there's one thing in my mind that I - there's two versions that I'm trying to put together. On the one hand, there's this plot cooking in New Orleans that has a variety of characters, some of them kind of strange including guys who get ordained in oddball religions and will talk about assassinating the President in front of younger people who aren't part of the plot. And then on the other hand, what we have is the CIA - who's known at that point to have been involved in some pretty nasty assassination plotting, having set up an executive action capability. Some of this stuff - Castro plots have sort of been laughed at as being "Keystone Cops" in history, like exploding seashells and so forth - but it was a pretty serious business. And I guess I'm wondering how you put together these two elements of a, you know, an agency with tight control with part - one aspect of its mission now - to take out people that don't agree with the policy, and on the other hand, this collection of some of the flamboyant characters in New Orleans. Are they organized -
JOAN: Well, the idea that the operatives that work for the CIA on the ground are wearing Ivy League suits and went to Yale isn't very credible. I -
REX: (laughs) Ok, but but but - I'm just curious for you to talk about the connection. How are those two things connected in practice? I - any thoughts on that?
JOAN: Well you know that in - that people are given a limited roles with a need-to-know basis - separate tasks. They're never told the whole picture. I think if you want to look at the - how this works - the best is the fictional version of it which was written by Don DeLillo in the novel "Libra." There are people involved in the doing that actually only know their part. The people that are enlisted are actually the very people that we see. Jack Martin, a CIA asset. David Ferrie, flying. Clay Shaw, who you know, owes them so much. When I look at the bigger picture, as you put it, I can't imagine anyone but the CIA's Clandestine Services that could have pulled this off. And I have to just remind - I want to add to this picture - that during the Garrison investigation, Garrison was getting awfully close, as you say, to the CIA's role in the assassination. J. Edgar Hoover had the idea that he would raise the issue that the Mafia must have done it. That was a Hoover plan, and then books began to appear - like "Mafia Kingfish," and others - which were going to - took Hoover's point of view. Sandy Smith's articles in "Life" magazine would be another example - and Sandy Smith worked for the FBI - the best story in my book has Richard Billings - who was the editor at "Life" magazine - for Sandy Smith, and realizing that Sandy Smith had sources that no man can have, and called the FBI headquarters in Washington and asked to speak to Sandy Smith, and they say "he's not in right now." He's working right out of FBI headquarters to do his articles on the Mafia in "Life" magazine - and that was a Hoover plan. As Rolando Otero told about Gaeton Fonzi, at the time of the Garrison investigation, the FBI insinuated the Mafia was behind the assassination of President Kennedy.
REX: Sure. Well -
JOAN: If we remove that idea - you know, as a Hoover maneuver. It worked pretty well - we have a book to this day that has just come out, that you know says the same thing - that Hoover lives, even though he's dead.
REX: (laughs) Well, for some people -
JOAN: When we look at that, we can see that - who else could possibly, after all, could have been behind this cover-up? With assets in the media, - we look at the documents, we see the CIA presenting its media assets with the answers to give to Garrison and to - you know, because this is a 1967 document - what to say to people who criticize the Warren Commission.
REX: Sure, well, I understand that. But it's also true that the FBI and other Federal agencies - the Kennedy family, for that matter - had been involved in cover-up activities here, and silence -
JOAN: The FBI aided the CIA in the cover-up of the Kennedy assassination - there's absolutely no question about that.
REX: Where does Jack Ruby fit in? For many people, he was the link to organized crime, of course, that put the thought -
JOAN: I like to give Jim Garrison's quote there, that Jack Ruby was a member of the "mafia branch of the CIA." We have a long history of the CIA enlisting Mafia people to do some of its dirty tricks and its dirty work, and Ruby was one of them. We know Ruby was, with his murder charge up there in Chicago, Ruby as an FBI informant, we have those documents. And we see that Ruby is moving between the organized crime and Federal agencies.
REX: Yeah, there's some things that have come to light over the years about gun running, which even some Warren Commission -
JOAN: Cuba bought some (unclear) jeeps in Cuba, and and Perrin - Nancy Rich Perrin, and all this. There's several people, including Angelo Murgado, who said that the next book you should write should be about Jack Ruby. Jack Ruby as a figure is crying out for a book. I mean, it's an unpleasant task to have to undertake because it's a sleazy character, but there' - there's an approach to understanding the Kennedy assassination if we could get the information about Ruby. I found people - so many of the Louisiana witnesses were well-aquainted with Ruby, and I'm talking about (Bornsteen?) who was not the nephew of Leon Trotsky, as they said he was - to these women who plied highway 190 from Appaloosas to Beaumont, Texas and Dallas and worked for Jack Ruby, and so many witnesses who saw Ruby with Oswald, including Thomas Edward Beckham - who on the day of the assassination - I quote that in the book - said "how could Jack do that to me?" So there's all - and I think if we get all that information out into the public, I think really the truth about the Kennedy has been known - it's been an open secret since 1963. Certainly since 1967. I want to quote Mark Lane, who told Cyril Wecht at one point, "it's not flat, it's not flat."
JOAN: It's not flat, we don't have to reinvent the wheel, we really do know the truth about the Kennedy assassination. We don't have to an endless amount of neutron activation analyses - the truth is really - it's a political assassination, we look to the political forces behind it.
REX: Joan, you had earlier brought up the issue of historians, and the silence they've had. I mean, there's a lot of books about the Kennedy presidency you can read that pretty much skip from October 1963 to December 1963. I wonder if you might speak to that phenomenon, that hole in history we seem to have over this affair.
JOAN: Well Rex, I think what happened is that the media assets of the CIA - and the CIA itself - have let people know that should they raise these issues, certain rewards will be forever denied to them. Pulitzer prizes, National Book Awards, reviews in the New York Times - that all of these - shall I say aspects - of authorship will be denied to anybody who even discusses any challenge to the Warren Report. And certainly, the New York Times has not published a single word challenging or discussing any of the voluminous evidence that has come out suggesting that the Warren investigation was no investigation at all.
So when we look at the official historians, people who are in the mainstream and want to be rewarded for their work - quite understandable - we can under - they understand that if they raise these issues, they will be forever denied the rewards of authorship. And that includes money, if they have families, it includes professorships if they're younger. It includes - I mean, the people that work on this case have to have the attitude that they have nothing to lose. So, in all fairness, we have to understand that why they do what they do - they know that they will be punished should they even raise the issue, and I think that they're not honest enough even to say that. During Taylor Branch's discussion on CSPAN last week where a caller, obviously I think an African-American caller, was outraged at Taylor Branch in his third volume of a biography of Martin Luther King Jr. does not raise the issue of how he died, and the answer is that somehow his movement had ended before he died, which wasn't true, or I don't know what kind of pyrotechnics was involved in there, but it was certainly very shabby indeed, and people noticed it. It was a call-in show, a three hour call-in show. But I think if you look - I'm just wondering about Robert Caro's new, final volume of the biography of Lyndon Johnson, which will, of course, take in the period of the Kennedy assassination - how far will Robert Caro go? When I have to tell you that a friend of his, speaking to me today, she was wanting to send books - copies of my book - to various friends, and his name came up, and I hesitated a moment, because I really don't think he's prepared to lose the National Book Award over the Kennedy assassination. I could be wrong, I hope I am.
REX: Do you know some of these people? I mean, I've always been curious to what extent this is an overt process versus just internalized at this point - and internalized -
JOAN: Certainly, self-censorship. Nobody comes along and says "now you must not." The people understand exactly what will happen to them, and they would be right. I mean, you can see the way Jim Garrison was treated as an abject lesson. Jim Garrison was very funny. When his book, On the Trail of the Assassins" came out, and one of the people who had hurt Jim Garrison was a television interviewer named Larry King. Larry King stole thousands of dollars that were earmarked by a financeer named Louis Wilson. King has perjured himself that he was going to deliver this money to Garrison, and he stole it instead. And Garrison was very funny, he couldn't get on any talk shows, and said Garrison laughed, and said "I'd even go on Larry King." Of course, Garrison didn't go on Larry King, and Larry King would never talk to me, although a mutual friend of ours, one of the great people who was the real Deep Throat of the Watergate case, Martin F. Dardis. Anybody in Miami knows Marty, played by Ned Beatty in a very distorted way in "All the President's Men." Marty fingered Larry King, and was on the paper trail, an absolutely open and shut case. Well, King was charged, he was fingerprinted, this is a matter of public record in the city of Miami.
REX: Joan, you're giving talks nowadays about your book and the investigation behind it. I'm curious if you've "fallen down the rabbit" hole like many people, or whether you think you're pretty much done with this? Do you think you'll write more about the case?
JOAN: I know I'll write more. I'm about - I am writing more. I'm in the process of a new book that - it comes at it in a different way, but I think it also - it discusses some of the questions that you're raising. Certainly people have wanted to know more about Angelo Murgado, more about Thomas Edward Beckham, more about how one investigates a case like this. What happens on the way? How do you get the information? How do you figure out whether the witness is credible? I really want to go back over that and help people to understand the process, because my book - as I say - should have been twice as long and really gone over all of this, so I'm going to come back it in another way.
REX: Ok, well, we will look forward to that. It's been a great pleasure talking with you, Joan. I wonder if you have any last thoughts for our listeners before we close the interview?
JOAN: Well, I appreciate it Rex. I hope that people at least - one thing that they do is to try to have an open mind about Jim Garrison. He was discredited by government agencies, government officials - we now have a government with Patriot Acts, National Security Agency, domestic surveillance, destruction of information by the 9/11 Commission. I wrote this op-ed piece "9/11 & 11/22" because I wanted to show how the lies of the Warren Commission came back and permitted the Philip Zelikow, the distortions, and really subverting information of the Able Danger Defense team, which knew about Mohammed Atta a year before the 9/11 bombing. So much - we have the Gulf of Tonkin case earlier - but nothing like we're going through today. I hope that people will reassess Jim Garrison and what he tried to do, the great courage that he showed.
REX: Ok, well thanks very much, it's been nice talking with you.
JOAN: You too, Rex. Thank you.
TYLER: Hi, it's Tyler again, and I just want to extend my thanks to Joan for taking time out of her schedule to have a chat with us, and for providing us with such an insightful and thought-provoking interview. If you'd like to dig deeper into Garrison-related materials, be sure to check out the Mary Ferrell Foundation's document collections, which include the Clay Shaw trial transcripts, the Orleans Parish Grand Jury transcripts - including interviews with some of the individuals prominent in "A Farewell to Justice," and also the Russ Holmes Work File, which includes several documents relating to QKENCHANT as well as assorted CIA memos that their monitoring of Jim Garrison's investigation.
Coming up on our next show, I'll be talking with Jim Lesar and Jeff Morley about their case against the CIA for release of documents pertaining to George Joannides, so be sure to join us for that interview. So, once again, thank you for tuning in, and we'll see you next time on Unredacted.