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  • Writer's pictureFred Litwin

Did Thomas Breitner Meet Clay Bertrand?

Updated: Oct 9, 2021

In March 1967, a lab technician came forward to say that he met Clay Shaw at Berkeley on the day before the JFK assassination, or on the day of the assassination. Here is the first report from Garrison investigator William Turner:

Turner then issued a second memo:

Researcher Paul Hoch, who was a student at Berkeley, did some of his own investigating and wrote this memo:

Hoch sensibly concluded that this was most likely a case of mistaken identity. Edward Keating, mentioned in the last line, was the founder of Ramparts, for whom Turner was a writer. Hoch was making a joke about witness identification.

That might have been the end of the story, but Breitner called Turner in September 1967 with additional information. Now, he remembered that Shaw introduced himself as Clay Bertram.

It seems clear that Breitner was just getting his information from the press. The only person to use Clem as the first name of Bertrand was Perry Russo. Breitner could only have gotten that name from the press - and its not surprising that the memo says he was keeping abreast of the Garrison investigation - in fact, it was the press reports that "refreshed his memory."

This was enough to put Breitner on the list of witnesses for the Clay Shaw trial. Here is one page from a memo that listed all the witnesses - the memo that Tom Bethell leaked to the Shaw defense team.

Once the Shaw defense team had this memo, their private detective did some research and submitted the following reports on Breitner.

Needless to say, Thomas Breitner did not testify at the Shaw trial.

By the way, here is a page from an HSCA document listing individuals from the Secret Service registry from 1977 on Thomas Breitner:

Of course, Thomas Breitner is now a witness that conspiracy authors use to try and prove that Clay Shaw was Clay Bertrand. On page 387 of Destiny Betrayed, James DiEugenio writes that "William Turner talked to a man named Thomas Breitner who said that, on Shaw's trip to San Francisco, he visited the University of California and he introduced himself as Clay Bertram." On page 122 of A Farewell To Justice, Joan Mellen writes that "In California, William Turner said he discovered a man named Thomas Breitner who claimed that on the day after the assassination Shaw was introduced to him as 'Bertrand.'"

Later in her book, on page 299, she admits that "Turner had not included Thomas Breitner's claim that Shaw had been introduced to him as "Bertrand" in California in his first report of their interview. Garrison was dubious about using Breitner..."

It's a good thing for Garrison that he did not use Breitner as a witness - had he done so, Breitner would have been a second Charles Spiesel.


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