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  • Writer's pictureFred Litwin

Did the HSCA Say that Clay Shaw was a High-Level Planner of the JFK Assassination?

Updated: Oct 11, 2021

In the summer of 1977, Garrison was interviewed by the HSCA. Here is the first page of a fifteen-page memo regarding the interview as well as one page on Clay Shaw:

Some conspiracy theorists (James DiEugenio, Destiny Betrayed, page 332) cite this memo as 'proof' that the HSCA concluded that Shaw was a conspirator. Jonathan Blackmer had just spent over a week interviewing Jim Garrison and the memo is a mixture of what Garrison told him, and what he internalized from Garrison.

They were right at the beginning of their investigation in to what happened in New Orleans. They had yet to go through Garrison's files, and were "still developing a partial witness list for Shaw." The HSCA Final Report did not name Shaw as a conspirator.

When I posted this document last week, James DiEugenio complained on Facebook:

"Litwin never gets tired of misrepresenting what I wrote. Which is why he cannot be trusted with evidence or testimony. Even when the words are right in front of him. I did not write that the Blackmer memo was proof of Shaw as a conspirator. This is what I wrote, "Blackmer authored a long memo which included the following statement, "We have reason to believe Shaw was heavily involved in the anti-Castro efforts in New Orleans in the 1960's and [was] possibly one of the high level planners or "cut out" to the planners of the assassination. " That is from the memo and I make that clear. And he had the book in front of him. Therefore this must have been deliberate."

Here is DiEugenio's exact quote from Destiny Betrayed:

"After a series of conferences in the late summer of 1977, between Fonzi, Delsa, Blackmer, Garrison and others, Blackmer authored a long memo which included the following statement, "We have reason to believe Shaw was heavily involved in the anti-Castro efforts in New Orleans in the 1960s and [was] possibly one of the high level planners or 'cut-out' to the planners of the assassination." By the time this memorandum was written, the participants in this series of meetings didn't really understand that everything had been changed. Whether or not Shaw was a planner or "cut out" for the assassination did not matter. Because both Sprague and Tanenbaum were now gone...."

DiEugenio removes all the context from the quote in the memo. The memo wasn't written after a series of conferences, but after a week of interviewing Jim Garrison. Nor does he tell the reader that they were at the front end of the investigation and that they were still putting together their files. They still were working on their witness list.

James DiEugenio added much more context in a letter he sent to journalist David Snyder. DiEugenio implied that the sentence was an HSCA conclusion. Here is the letter:

DiEugenio says in the letter that:

"Much new information has come out that has vindicated Garrison's case against Shaw. Witnesses to the House Select Committee on Assassinations, in files newly declassified, were so compelling that it led the HSCA's team to note in a memo:"

This was not true. The memo was not written by the HSCA's "team." It was written by

Jonathan Blackmer after a week of interviewing Jim Garrison. The so-called "much new information" was just the words from Garrison's mouth. The witnesses could not have been "compelling" because they had yet to finalize their witness list.

For instance, here an excerpt from the memo on David Ferrie:

As you can see, Patricia Orr was still indexing the files on David Ferrie when the memo was written.

In addition, the use of the word "cut out" in the Blackmer memo is pure Garrison. Check out this post where I include a Garrison memo to Blackmer where he uses the term "cut-out" to describe Fred Crisman.

And what is a cut-out? Here is Garrison's description:

"A "cut-out" as you will appreciate, is in intelligence terminology an insulated contact for an operation between higher level decision makers or other individuals and lower echelons where the day-to-day machinery is actually in motion. Essentially, his role is that of a key contact man. His function may be supervision or it may be merely observation and monitory with regard to a particular mission. One of his customary chosen assets for such an assignment will be his personal geographical remoteness from the general area of the operation -- hence the term "cut-out." His prompt removability provides -- especially when the circumstances are sensitive -- a high degree for the group of clique using him as its "cut-out" and helps keep the enterprise clandestine and frustrating to routine inquiry procedures."

Whether that describes Shaw or Crisman, it is completely off-the-wall bonkers.


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