David Chandler on Why Garrison Believed Clay Shaw was Clay Bertrand...
Updated: Oct 11, 2021
David Chandler was a stringer for Life Magazine, and knew Garrison quite well. In fact, Garrison was the best man at his wedding. Chandler was in Garrison's office quite often in the early part of his investigation. That all changed after he reported on organized crime in New Orleans.
New Orleans States-Item, August 9, 1967
David Chandler was also interviewed by James Kirkwood for his book American Grotesque. Here is an excerpt from that unpublished interview:
Kirkwood: Were you around him at all in the early part of this thing?
Chandler: I was around from the -- best I've been able to pin down is -- any sort of terminal date for starting this thing -- was November 25 of '66. I think that's the date. Whatever the date is, I think it's the 25th, it's the date on which he issued the instructions to his staff. For my purposes I count that as the beginning. So from that evening through December the 22, I was in almost daily contact with him on the case ... They broke off at that point because (Trish and I) ... going down to Guatemala. And shortly after we came back is when I got involved in -- with asking these questions about bribery in his office. I didn't have any contact with him after that.
Kirkwood: What was he like then, at the early part?
Chandler: Seemed mad. He was -- well, it's in this early part he first comes up with the Ferrie business.
Kirkwood: From the original '63 arrest.
Chandler: Yes, And the mug shot, and physically -- deterioration, there seemed to be deterioration from when I'd just seen him last, which was about three or four months prior, September of '66. And he'd put on more weight, his nails were black -- which in his situation was rather striking. Because he used to be fairly well groomed ... drinking -- I've never seen that before, he put in the refrigerator in his office ... Sego -- S E G O, it's a Metrecal, sort of, ... and ... physical differences at the time.
Kirkwood: Well now, how did -- he first got wind of Clay Shaw through -- in the meantime then someone must have pointed up the Dean Andrews --
Chandler: No, I subsequently learned from Dean Andrews that Garrison had been talking with him casually on the subject, as early as October. And intensively in the middle part of November. And that's where he got onto the Clay Bertrand theory, and those other names. That Andrews said he made up. And it is in the course of Garrison's cataloguing Oswald's connection in New Orleans -- that he came onto Clay Shaw's name and ... the connection, all that business. At the time he was also interested -- no, he became interested ... coffee company in January. Shaw almost immediately he figured was part of it, because Oswald had demonstrated in front of the building and he had this syllogistic reasoning about Bertrand = Shaw.
Kirkwood: Did anybody ask him early on about --- if someone wanted to use an alias ... why anyone would use their first name? Which was unusual. I mean Clay is not a usual first name like Joe or Fred.
Chandler: I don't think so, because my instructions from Billings at the time were to just let Garrison go along and at least I didn't nor Billings nor anyone else in my presence ever subjected him to any sort of critical questions. At that period. So when he came up with the Shaw business, I just laughed. It was embarrassing, it was so idiotic. I wasn't quite sure that he was serious.
Jim Garrison had no good reason to suspect Clay Shaw was Clay Bertrand. But that didn't stop him. Garrison also had no serious evidence that Clay Shaw was a conspirator in the JFK assassination before he was arrested.
Anybody up for the challenge? Please feel free to email me your answer - what serious evidence did Garrison have, at the time Shaw was arrested, that he had conspired with anybody to kill JFK?