Fred Litwin's Follies!
Updated: Jun 26
“There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.”
Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray
Conspiracy theorist James DiEugenio has dubbed the week of February 14th 2021, the Fred Litwin Follies! It sounds like a musical extravaganza and who can complain about that? Actually, the follies are nothing more than an article-a-day “carpet bombing” about my books – and there’s no shortage of sour notes in its 34,000+ words.
There were already three articles about me up on his web site and so he’s now pushed the number to eight (oops, a ninth was added yesterday)! Gee, I couldn’t convince any of my dearest friends to do that! And there are also four episodes of Black Op Radio to enumerate my many misdeeds.
DiEugenio’s official title should be Protector and Defender of the Garrison Faith, and as such he must answer anybody who deviates, even if just slightly, from his conspiracy dogma. My heresy of writing an entire book critical of Jim Garrison gets me special treatment, and so the Protector and Defender of the Garrison Faith has also reviewed my other two books.
It’s quite telling that DiEugenio writes that “the problem is – and I cannot make this point forcefully enough – too many writers and interested parties think they know the Garrison inquiry and New Orleans, when they really do not.” Of course, the only person who really understands the Garrison inquiry is the Protector and Defender of the Garrison Faith – he alone can decipher and interpret the ancient scripture (Jim Garrison’s papers) and he alone can determine which high priests are allowed to add and discuss doctrine.
Unauthorized commentators – Patricia Lambert, Don Carpenter, Sylvia Meagher, Gus Russo, Paul Hoch, David Reitzes, Rosemary James, Alecia Long, Max Holland, Hugh Aynesworth, James Phelan, Fred Litwin – are deserving of scorn and ridicule. They do not have the necessary skills to understand the complex nature of the holy texts and they have not adequately studied the printed words of the Protector and Defender of the Garrison Faith. Salvation is only possible when they have repented and have memorized the full 25 episodes of the Destiny Betrayed podcast.
Indeed, many of these illegitimate poseurs have been tainted by working for the ‘deep state,’ which means everything they say or write can be safely ignored. What’s worse is that they hide their devious intent – but no matter, the Protector and Defender of the Garrison Faith can ferret out their covert connections and can safely exclude their findings from the record.
I wish I was exaggerating.
Let me start with the scorn. It’s not enough to prove people wrong, DiEugenio has to say nasty things about people. Here are just a few of the insults I have collected – give me enough time and I am sure I can find hundreds more:
Sylvia Meagher had “ignorant viewpoints”
“Litwin sounds indistinguishable from Dan Rather on a bad day.”
“the very idea that Litwin would use Paul Hoch as a kind of model for the critical community is absurd in and of itself.”
Hoch was “incontinent in his search for truth.”
“Litwin is so incontinent to smear Garrison…”
And, of course, DiEugenio’s friends, these “unskilled and untrained people” could “figure out the forensic hoaxes that physicist Hoch could not?”
“After suffering through Litwin’s phantasmagoria with Thornley, I was ready to walk the book out to the trash bin behind my apartment.”
“I was ready to walk the book out to the trash bin behind my apartment. Instead, I decided to take a few days off. I had to in order to recover my damaged sensibilities.
“By following Hoch’s advice, Litwin now has custard pie all over his face. Or as they say in the field of information technology, which both men worked in: garbage in, garbage out.”
“Litwin is so monomaniacal, so freight train locomotive obsessed…”
“Which I have spent over 50 pages exposing as literary rubbish.”
“If anyone can show me anything of value that Hoch has produced on this case in the last 30 years, I would like to see it.”
“For anyone who knows the JFK case, Litwin’s two book are not just boring, they are rather insulting.”
“I will never be in the same room with Paul Hoch again.”
Here are some key examples of what DiEugenio has gotten wrong:
DiEugenio Trashes Paul Hoch, an Important JFK Researcher
Paul Hoch is a first-generation Warren Commission critic, and his newsletter, “Echoes of Conspiracy,” provided essential commentary on books, films and documents over the years. If you read some of Paul Hoch’s prodigious correspondence with other researchers, you’ll find a level of intellectual rigor so often missing in JFK circles. Many researchers, when encountering a sticky problem, often turn to Paul for help. I know – because I often turn to Paul for answers.
DiEugenio loves to bad-mouth Hoch, and mentions him forty-two times in his article about my books. In the process, he badly mangles the published record and needlessly insults a very important JFK researcher.
For instance, in 1983 Paul Hoch gave an important speech in Chicago on how to evaluate evidence and documents. DiEugenio says that Hoch “told them to ignore any new releases that came from the Board about Clay Shaw. I wish I was kidding about that, but unfortunately I was there.” DiEugenio gets it all wrong. Hoch said that “Any post-Garrison story with Clay Shaw in it starts with a heavy burden of skepticism to overcome.” In my view, good advice, but DiEugenio turns it into a blanket prohibition.
At that conference, Hoch told DiEugenio that he thought former Warren Commission Counsel Burt Griffin gave a better speech than former Deputy Chief Counsel for the HSCA Robert Tanenbaum. DiEugenio then makes an unwarranted leap of faith – “which would mean, by deduction, that he bought the Single Bullet Theory.”
It’s important to note that James DiEugenio did not comment on the exchange of letters in my book between Paul Hoch, Jim Garrison, and Ted Gandolfo (pages 256-258). Besides raising the issue of homosexuality, Hoch asked Garrison a direct question about the evidence in his possession when he charged Shaw. It’s telling that Garrison not only totally evaded the question in his reply, but refers to Hoch’s letter as “strident” and that he would not reply to a “gratuitous critique.” And, then Garrison notes that “Mr. Hoch has a finely tuned aggression and is wonderfully ferocious.”
And, not surprisingly, DiEugenio ignores the entire exchange.
That correspondence might possibly explain DiEugenio’s “Two Minutes Hate” of Paul Hoch in his articles, which were ostensibly about Fred Litwin. “Little Jim” always echoes “Big Jim” – and so the Garrison denunciation of Hoch means that excommunication is the only option available to DiEugenio.
DiEugenio Ignores the context of my book, I Was a Teenage JFK Conspiracy Freak
DiEugenio is the master of taking things out of context. His review of I Was a Teenage JFK Conspiracy Freak ignores the fact that it is not a book about the JFK assassination per se, but a book about conspiracy thinking, and a memoir on why my thinking has evolved over the years. You wouldn’t know that from reading DiEugenio’s review. Several chapters of my books have been totally ignored, and like the earlier review by David Mantik on his website, only a small portion of what I have written is discussed. My complete history of conspiracy thinking in the assassination – from Mark Lane to Dick Gregory – is ignored.
Here’s a specific example of DiEugenio removing context. He takes great exception to the trajectory diagram, prepared for the HSCA by Thomas Canning of NASA, on page 174 of my book.
What he neglects to tell the reader is that I used these diagrams in a chapter about the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and their one-sided JFK assassination conspiracy documentaries. In 1983, they featured Dr. Cyril Wecht as an expert and they showed his diagram of the single-bullet theory:
Here is what I wrote – “What they didn’t show the Canadian public was the trajectory analysis performed by Thomas Canning, staff engineer for the Space Projects Division of the NASA Ames Research Center for the HSCA in 1979.” And so even if you have issues with the Canning diagram – for instance, I believe he used the wrong Zapruder frame – it was intellectually dishonest of the CBC not to show their audience a trajectory diagram that was commissioned by the second investigation into the JFK assassination. DiEugenio’s interest lies solely in criticizing Canning and the HSCA, and thus he removes the context from the illustration.
DiEugenio Ignores the Context of my book, Conservative Confidential: Inside The Fabulous Blue Tent
The subtitle of my book is Inside the Fabulous Blue Tent. DiEugenio does not tell the reader what this is – even though there is a whole chapter on the Fabulous Blue Tent [it was a party I started, with two colleagues, for gay conservatives & friends held at Conservative Party conferences]. In fact, DiEugenio ignores my two chapters on gay politics, my chapter on the film Iranium, my chapter on Islam, and virtually everything else. He does fixate on David Horowitz – I only mention him seven times in my book, while DiEugenio mentions him thirty-seven times in his series of articles.
DiEugenio Distorts the Testimony of Witnesses
John Stringer was the photographer of the JFK autopsy and DiEugenio presents him as a witness to help prove that the JFK autopsy photographs were either altered or substituted. Using Stringer as a witness to bolster that allegation is ridiculous – several times, during his testimony, he was shown various photographs and he confirmed, every single time, that he took the photographs. You can find his testimony here.
Stringer was systematically asked about all the autopsy photographs and he thought they were all authentic and that none were altered.
Page Number Autopsy Photographs
161 29. 30, 31
162 1, 2, 3, 4
164 5,6, 26, 27, 28
168 7,8,9,10, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37
173 11, 12, 38, 39
188 13, 14, 40, 41
192 15, 16, 42, 43
206 17, 18, 44, 45
216 19, 21, 22, 46, 47, 48. 49 (brain photographs)
222 20, 27, 24, 25, 50, 51, 52 (brain photographs)
In terms of the brain, DiEugenio states the following: “When asked directly by Gunn if he would say these were the photos he took of Kennedy’s brain, Stringer replied “No, I couldn’t say that they were President Kennedy’s.” But he leaves out the next line, in which Stringer says, “I mean, there’s no identification.” He was then asked if the photographs were consistent with the brain as he remembered it. Stringer replied, “Well, it has to be, if that’s Mr. Kennedy.”
It is true, as DiEugenio says, that Stringer thought photographs of the superior view of the brain were taken with a different film, but he wasn’t entirely sure. For instance, he was asked, “Did you use Ansco film in the – taking of the autopsy?” and Stringer replied, “Not as far as I know.” He then added he had “no recollections of using a film pack.”
One thing is for sure, Stringer never said any of the photographs were altered and the photographs were exactly as he remembered from the autopsy.
DiEugenio Relies on Dubious Single-sourced Anecdotes
DiEugenio also uses single-source anecdotes which are dubious. He writes that someone asked Hoover if Oswald was the assassin and he replied, “If I told you what I really know, it would be very dangerous to this country. Our whole political system could be disrupted.” He wrote that his source was Destiny Betrayed, page 246; but the actual source is from Anthony Summers book Official and Confidential: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover. Summers quoted Billy Bryars, a student who had a conversation with Hoover in the summer of 1964. But, did this really happen? Was Hoover perhaps thinking the Soviets were involved? Well, we don’t really know.
DiEugenio tells a whopper of a story about Clay Shaw. An interior designer, Phil Dyer, met with Shaw in 1972 and Shaw admitted that he not only knew Oswald fairly well, but that Oswald was a double agent. When this supposedly happened, Shaw was in the middle of his damages lawsuit against Jim Garrison. A strange time for a statement that could be used against him. Perhaps, Shaw was pulling his leg. Or, perhaps this never happened. DiEugenio is suspicious of just about anything the government does or says, but in this case, he finds no need for any skepticism. Indeed, DiEugenio says Dyer “certifies the defendant’s knowing perjury.”
DiEugenio Misinterprets Documents Related to Clay Bertrand
Of course, the lynchpin of DiEugenio’s thesis is that Clay Shaw was the elusive Clay Bertrand. He takes issue with my assertion that Garrison was looking for Bertrand in late 1963. The search for Clay Bertrand in 1963 was extensive. The FBI, the Secret Service, and the New Orleans Police Department were actively looking for Bertrand. In the process, they contacted their confidential informants, the New Orleans Police Department, Tulane University, the Narcotics Squad, the Vice Squad and even the New Orleans Retailers’ Credit Bureau. Dean Andrews contacted Raymond Comstock who worked for Garrison – and he was then in touch with the FBI. It’s certainly conceivable that Garrison did not know about the search for Clay Bertrand, but given his knowledge and interest in David Ferrie, and given that one of his own key investigators was involved in the search, I find it unlikely.
And Raymond Comstock was no ordinary investigator in the D.A. office. He was part of the inner circle:
Garrison writes in his book about visiting Dean Andrews in the fall of 1966 to discuss Clay Bertrand. He seemed surprised about Andrews’ 1964 Warren Commission testimony. Perhaps, he was surprised because he knew that Clay Bertrand could not be found in 1963.
DiEugenio Relies on Unreliable Witnesses
DiEugenio brings up Ricardo Davis as a witness who told Harold Weisberg that the FBI showed him a picture of Clay Shaw right after the assassination. Unfortunately, Davis said nothing about it when he was interviewed by William Gurvich of Garrison’s office.
We just have Weisberg’s word of what Davis said. Is it possible that Davis was winding up Weisberg? Here’s an excerpt from an FBI report from July 20, 1967.
DiEugenio Gets His Facts Wrong on Permindex/CMC
My chapter on Permindex/CMC debunked a number of longstanding conspiracy theories regarding the organization. I am fortunate to live in Ottawa and have been able to go through the papers of Louis Bloomfield, a lawyer from Montreal, who represented some of the shareholders of Permindex/CMC. Unfortunately, DiEugenio relies upon poor sources for his material on Permindex/CMC:
1. “…it was later booted out of the country due to a crescendo of negative newspaper articles.”
Permindex was not booted out of the country, they left because they could not raise enough capital.
State Department Despatch, May 28, 1958.
There were also many negative newspaper articles – almost all from one socialist newspaper - about George Mantello, largely due to antisemitism and his history in saving Jews during WWII. I explain all this in my book.
2. “The State Department intervened and did some investigatory work. They found out that the true principal funding was through J. Henry Schroder’s, a bank that was closely associated with Allen Dulles and the CIA.”
This is also not true. Management of Permindex approached Schroder, but the bank provided no funding.
State Department Despatch, February 1, 1957
State Department Despatch, October 8, 1957
There are several hundred letters from Bloomfield to George Mantello in Italy amongst his papers. Many of them discuss financing as Permindex/CMC was always short of funds. There is not one mention of Schroder’s Bank in any letter.
3. “Litwin makes reference to a 1959 CIA document saying that Nagy offered to place a CIA agent on the staff. He then says that since Shaw joined the board in 1958, the dates do not match. (Litwin, p. 293) First, placing someone on the staff is not the same as a member of the Board, and I have a hard time believing Litwin does not understand this. Secondly, we don't know from the document when Nagy first wrote the CIA about the employment offer.”
A CIA memo dated November 6, 1959 reports the Nagy offer of placing a businessman on the Board and a CIA agent on the staff. Shaw was already on the Board. But, here’s the important point that DiEugenio doesn’t mention – that in a memo written on March 24, 1960, the CIA was not impressed with Permindex/CMC and that a major determinant of whether to place someone in the company should consider the fact that “no contracts are claimed with any Soviet Bloc countries.” It does not appear that the CIA took up the Nagy offer.
4. “Secondly by going through the Louis Bloomfield archives in Canada, he found out that corporate lawyer Bloomfield served as a legal representative of the company and was soliciting funds for Permindex. What made that even more fascinating was, in doing so, he was in contact with the wealthiest families in the world at that time e.g., the Rockefellers and the Rothschilds.”
Actually, if you go through the Bloomfield archive you will find only perfunctory letters to the Rothschilds and only one or two references to the Rockefellers. You can read Bloomfield’s letters to Baron Edmund de Rothschild here.
There are a few letters that mention David Rockefeller. I have posted two on my blog – and they were not for financing, but for collaboration.
5. “And although Litwin writes that Bloomfield was not in the OSS, John Kowalski, who has been through the Bloomfield archives, says he did see letters between the legendary World War II Canadian/British intelligence officer William Stephenson and Bloomfield.”
DiEugenio Uses a Crackpot Book to Buttress his Permindex/CMC Claims
James DiEugenio relies upon Michele Metta’s book, On The Trail of Clay Shaw: The Italian Undercover CIA and Mossad Station and the Assassination of JFK, to make the case that Permindex/CMC was involved in unsavory activities.
Metta's book is poorly translated from Italian and it is very hard to read. I challenge anybody to buy the book and see if you can finish it. Most of the book is just “six degrees of separation” – linkages without meaning and context. There is no hard information in the book on Permindex/CMC, and what it does have is inaccurate.
Here are some examples:
1. “Bloomfield had tremendous power inside CMC, because he was the majority shareholder of this company. In other words, he had the power to do things that even all the other shareholders combined couldn’t, especially the authority of replacing corporation officers or board of directors.” (page 154)
This is completely untrue. Bloomfield was a corporate lawyer who represented some of the shareholders. As you go through his archives, it is clear that Permindex/CMC was run by George Mantello and his son Enrico. Almost 100% of Bloomfield’s letters to Permindex/CMC are to the Mantellos, and, in many of them, Bloomfield is requesting additional information on the operations of the company.
2. ‘In fact, if we dig deep enough about the Carcano, the rifle that Oswald allegedly used, we come once again across elements that are fully in turn with a conspiracy involving the CMC.” (page 68)
Metta tries to tie the Carcano rifle to Clay Shaw. Here’s how he does it: The Mannlicher-Carcano rifle was part of surplus army stock from WWII. Adam Consolidated Industries bid on a stock of rifles in 1960. Adam used another company, Crescent Firearms, to sell the Carcanos. The “factotum” of Crescent was Joseph Saik, an anti-Communist who had worked with General Eisenhower in Europe. And one of Eisenhower’s “collaborators” was General Charles Thrasher, whose aide-de-camp was Clay Shaw. Got it?
3. “The point is that there are many undeniable clues showing H.L. Hunt’s involvement right in the middle of the international plot which led to the death of the 35th President of the USA.” (page 105)
Once again, this is convoluted. Paolo Marella met with H.L. Hunt in 1966. Marella was a relative of Giuseppe Azzaretto, who was a member of the CMC [I am not sure what he means by a member] and thus the linkage.
4. “Finally, there existed a dense and long correspondence between Bloomfield, founder of Permindex-CMC, and George H. Bush. This correspondence is kept in the previous mentioned documents submitted by Bloomfield himself, as explicitly expressed in his will, to the Library and Archives Canada. However, they are still inaccessible…”
The correspondence between Bloomfield and Bush is completely open to any researcher. And, guess what – the letters are completely mundane. Here is a link to the complete collection of Bloomfield-Bush correspondence.
5. “This too cryptic conduct gave reason to the assassination scholars Sprague and Cutler to make an analysis and reach the conclusion that the umbrella was used to fire a dart with a paralyzing agent at JFK to restrain his muscles and make him an immobile target far easier to kill. An explanation fully endorsed by Fletcher Prouty, one of the most relevant Dallas ambush whistleblowers.” (page 159)
6. “Gershon Peres was on the Board of Permindex from 1967-1970. Peres was the brother of Shimon Peres.”
I don’t know if this is true – but if it is, so what? I should add that some of the Bloomfield letters from 1968 talk about winding down Permindex. He was anxious to be rid of the operation.
An important part of my book detailed the contribution of George Mantello in saving up to 15,000 Jews during the Holocaust. He smuggled out papers regarding Auschwitz, and he got himself a job at the El Salvadorean Embassy, as first Secretary, and, along with the Consul, gave out citizenship papers wherever he could. Here is an example:
Many conspiracy books, including DiEugenio’s, smear Mantello by saying he was involved with the “refugee protection racket.” DiEugenio says that “In what is probably the only positive contribution by Litwin in his entire book, he appears to clear Permindex member George Mandel of being in the Jewish refugee racket.” Of course, DiEugenio could have done some research and determined the truth about Mantello. But then, DiEugenio goes on to say, “The problem with this is that Metta shows that Mandel was working with the Israeli spy service for years and years.”
Here is the excerpt from a CIA document, that I included in my book, that discusses this:
There was nothing nefarious about Mantello working with Israeli intelligence – after all, few people knew as much as he did about Jewish refugees in Europe. It appears he cooperated with Asher Ben-Natan who worked for the intelligence service of the Israeli foreign ministry. One CIA document, dated November 1951, notes that “Ben Natan … is surrounding himself with former IIS personnel,” and the list included Mantello. This would seem to confirm the paragraph above that Mantello, by then, was separated “from their service.” Natan was deeply involved with the Jewish Brichah, an organization dedicated to bringing Jewish survivors to Israel.
DiEugenio strains the limits of credibility when he writes that “perhaps the most important, at least to me, is that another CMC member was instrumental in the rise of Licio Gelli, the infamous leader of the utterly fascist Propaganda Due (P2) lodge. But further, CMC and P2 shared the same office space! Suffice it to say that with these kinds of revelations, Robert Willans, an expert on Operation Gladio, now entertains the possibility that P2 and Permindex may have been a part of that concealed “stay behind” NATO network. Which puts it above the level of the CIA.”
Here’s how this one works. The Italo-American Hotel Corporation (IAHC) was a subsidiary of Permindex – and its Board meetings were held in “the office of the lawyer Roberto Ascarelli.” Ascarelli was instrumental in the rise of Licio Gelli, the leader of Propaganda Due (P2) lodge. Therefore, Permindex is linked to P2. And, as DiEugenio tells us, it is “above the level of the CIA.” I should add that I have seen no references to IAHC in the Bloomfield files, or any references to Ascarelli or Gelli.
DiEugenio Downplays Antisemitism and Homophobia
DiEugenio claims that “the other way Litwin tries to distract from all this is by picking up his second dog whistle. The first is homophobia; his second is anti-Semitism. Because Bloomfield was Jewish, he uses that to play the anti-Semite card.” The only times I use the world “anti-Semitic” in my Bloomfield chapters is in relation to the harassment meted out to George Mantello in Switzerland during and after the war by Heinrich Rothmund, who was the antisemitic head of the Swiss Alien Police. Does DiEugenio dispute that Rothmund was antisemitic? Secondly, I used the term antisemitic to describe the Lyndon LaRouche organization. Again, does DiEugenio believe this organization was not antisemitic?
As for homophobia, DiEugenio writes that “there is not one memo I have read that Garrison ever outlined such a homosexual-oriented plot.” I never claimed there was such a memo. Garrison told Hugh Aynesworth, Jim Phelan, and Merriman Smith about a homosexual plot; and Richard Billings wrote in his diary that Garrison believed that Shaw’s sadism was at the heart of the case. DiEugenio doesn’t comment on the March 17, 1967 memo [page 81 in my book] from John Volz to Jim Garrison that Shaw’s motive “could very well have been rooted in his sadistice [sic], homosexual abnormality.”
DiEugenio also dismisses my discussion of homophobia in Oliver Stone’s film JFK. He says “Getting to Stone’s film itself, taking out his dog whistle, Litwin calls it a depiction of a homosexual conspiracy. (Litwin, p. 254) Which, again I think is a bizarre statement. Because, after watching the film several times, I don't see it as that.” I included transcriptions of four scenes in my book which are completely ignored by DiEugenio. In addition, he doesn’t comment on the protest, at the time, against Stone’s film by the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), or the articles in the Advocate about the film’s homophobia.
DiEugenio Uses Lame Excuses and Lies for Fletcher Prouty
Fletcher Prouty was interviewed by the ARRB on September 24, 1996. In a 14-page report, the ARRB concluded that “many of Prouty’s allegations are not based on interpretations of actual events, but merely his feelings or general beliefs.” In addition, “given the opportunity to document these allegations or in some fashion uncover the truth, Prouty declined to do so, and often retreated or contradicted his published claims.”
DiEugenio’s response is fairly lame – “Prouty understood from the first couple of questions what the agenda was. So he decided to play along and give them what they wanted.” The ARRB document discussed every Prouty allegation and found no evidence to back them up. I challenge everybody to go read not only the ARRB interview with Prouty, but also their 16-page memo on Army Intelligence in Dallas, which also refutes Prouty’s allegations.
As for army intelligence, DiEugenio just flat out contradicts the source he cites. He brings up Col. Bill McKinney and says that he “called Prouty about it [a detachment for Dallas] since Fletcher would likely have arranged the air transportation for the unit.” If you read the actual interview with William McKinney, you find out that at the time he was just a PFC “who had just completed basic training and was attending intelligence training in Ft. Holabird, MD. It is important to note that McKinney had not yet reported to the 316th on November 22, 1963 and was not in Texas.” What’s worse is that McKinney did talk to Prouty, as DiEugenio claims, except that the call was in 1977 or 1978 and it was about a story he was working regarding train track conditions [Prouty worked for Amtrak].
DiEugenio Won’t Show His Readers the Important Underlying Documents
DiEugenio says that I have misunderstood Harold Weisberg - who said that Dean Andrews told him that Shaw was Bertrand. He claims I missed what he wrote in his unpublished book. Here is a blog post that uncovers exactly what Andrews said. Andrews never really came out and said that Shaw was Bertrand. He said, "If the Green Giant gets past that, he is home clear." I think that Weisberg read just a little too much into Andrews' words.
DiEugenio is Incapable of Real Research
DiEugenio cites an FBI memo from William Branigan to Bill Sullivan which he believes proves that Shaw was Bertrand. It is a “new revelation” for DiEugenio and he thinks I am unaware of this document. In fact, I have been discussing this document for months and believe it does nothing of the sort. My blog post has the actual document, as well as additional information unknown to DiEugenio.
DiEugenio Ignores Criticism of His Work, Part One
Now, while still on the topic of Shaw and Bertrand, it is interesting to note that DiEugenio has not responded to what I wrote in my Conclusion about some of his witnesses. So, let me repeat what is in my book.
Another DiEugenio witness is Leander D’avy, whose interview with Garrison’s staffers he found to be “utterly fascinating.” He worked at a restaurant and bar, The Court of the Two Sisters, and claimed that Oswald walked in one night and asked for Clay Bertrand and that Clay Shaw frequented the place. In 1977, D’avy was deposed by the HSCA, and he recalled that about two weeks before the assassination, he had gone in on a Saturday morning to pick up his check. He was sent to the storeroom, which he said was actually a little apartment, and guess who was there? Lee Harvey Oswald was lying across the bed. David Ferrie was there, and yes, the three tramps were there as well.
He saw other people too. Jack Ruby once parked in a loading zone in front of the restaurant and slapped D’avy in the face when he complained. Fred Crisman came around “almost every week” in 1963. Even Thomas Beckham was in the restaurant. It’s not surprising that HSCA investigators thought there were “serious questions about his credibility.”
Then there is William Morris who “signed an affidavit he knew Shaw as Clay Bertrand.” Morris was interviewed in 1967 while an inmate at the Wynne State Prison Farm in Texas. He claimed that Shaw worked for General Electric and that he lived with his mother, which were both untrue. Morris was six feet tall but said he was taller than Bertrand, forgetting that Shaw was quite tall at 6’4”. Further, he claimed that Bertrand brought had Jack Ruby to his apartment. Is there any wonder why he didn’t testify at the Shaw trial?
DiEugenio claims that Clay Shaw’s maid Virginia Johnson said that “a man who stayed with Shaw on several occasions told her that Shaw had used the name of Bertrand.” However, Johnson’s statement says something quite different: yes, she had heard the name Bertrand, but she wasn’t quite sure of the details. Lots of people were talking to her; she had conversations at a fabric class about the case, but “When asked if Mr. Formadol [sic] [she was clearly talking about Shaw’s friend William Formyduval] referred to Mr. Shaw as Bertrand, she stated no.” Garrison’s investigators went back several months later for another interview, and this time she said that “she had never heard the name, Bertrand.”
Then there is Mrs. Jessie Parker, who testified that she had seen Shaw at the Eastern Airlines VIP Room at Moisant Airport and that he had signed the guest book as Clay Bertrand. But DiEugenio neglects to tell his readers that Shaw was supposedly with a group of visitors from Venezuela who were accompanied by U.S. State Department employees and a military escort. The military man did not recognize a photo of Shaw as the man in the VIP room. One of the State Department employees did recognize Shaw’s picture but only because he knew Shaw professionally, and he said Shaw was not at the airport.
Yet another DiEugenio witness is Thomas Breitner, who “said that, on Shaw’s trip to San Francisco, he visited the University of California and he introduced himself as Bertram.” You can see Turner’s report below—you have to love the last paragraph. Breitner could only have gotten the name Clem from the media since Perry Russo was the only person to use that name for Clay Bertrand.
Breitner called the Berkeley Police Department in April 1965 insisting that his wife had attempted to kill him by means of putting “a poisonous powder” in his soup. He made a series of phone calls in February 1968 to the FBI claiming that his life had been threatened by people who were manufacturing miniature darts treated with poison. He wrote another letter in 1969 about CIA harassment. Of course, Garrison did not dare put Breitner on the witness stand.
DiEugenio is silent on all of the above – and these are his witnesses! So, yes, in terms of numbers, as DiEugenio keeps reminding us – there are lots of witnesses he can find to identify Shaw as Bertrand. But once you look closely, they all fall apart.
DiEugenio Ignores Criticism of His Work, Part Two
DiEugenio makes a big deal out of an entry in Clay Shaw’s notebook: “Although the entire book listed addresses and phone numbers, on one otherwise blank page were scrawled two abbreviations ‘Oct.’ and ‘Nov.’ and next to those, the word ‘Dallas.’” This claim was taken, almost word-for-word, from Garrison’s book. The actual page from Shaw’s notebook is shown below, and it’s not quite as advertised. Is there something nefarious that I am missing?
He ignored this criticism as well.
DiEugenio Sources Non-Existent Evidence
DiEugenio likes to source documents that are either missing or were never in existence. He says he did get some of “the late Jim Rose’s documents about Crisman and Beckham,” and criticizes me for not seeing these documents. Yet, he won’t tell us what was in those documents, and, of course, he won’t publish any.
He writes that “Bob Tanenbaum saw documents from Helms’ office that directed Garrison’s witnesses to be surveilled and harassed. Which they were.” Unfortunately, Tanenbaum says those documents cannot be found.
DiEugenio then claims that Richard Case Nagell “told Garrison’s representative, William Martin, that he had an audiotape of four men in New Orleans talking about an assassination plot against Kennedy. He named one of them as Arcacha; he would only describe another of the men as “Q”. Which would strongly denote Quiroga.” Again, this tape has never surfaced, and yet that is enough for DiEugenio to convict both Arcacha Smith and Carlos Quiroga.
James DiEugenio is seriously auditioning to become the Marjorie Taylor Greene of JFK conspiracy theorists – Garrison is his “Q.” The only difference is that DiEugenio lacks Greene’s charm.
DiEugenio says that the “HSCA learned that the Dallas Police had found diagrams of the sewer system under Dealey Plaza in Arcacha Smith’s apartment after the assassination.” This is not true. Francis Fruge, a Louisiana State police officer, heard that Captain Will Fritz of the Dallas Police might have been told that…but he wasn’t too sure.
DiEugenio Cites Few Primary Documents
My book On The Trail of Delusion includes many primary documents, and I have included many links to such documents so that readers can check them themselves. The raw material of Garrison’s investigation makes it extremely hard to take his methodology, and thus his investigation seriously.
Only fifty Garrison documents are cited in Destiny Betrayed. I include thirty Garrison documents in my book, and I have 229 links to online memos and documents. My blog also now has hundreds of pages of Garrison memos and documents.
DiEugenio Can’t Properly Source His Allegations
DiEugenio is proud that there are 1,800 footnotes in his book The JFK Assassination. But, a lot of his footnotes just refer back to his previous books or to Probe Magazine - and if you don’t have those, then you have no idea what he is referring to. Here’s some specifics – his chapter 7, “Bugliosi vs. Garrison and Stone,” has 91 footnotes:
27 – DiEugenio, Destiny Betrayed
11 – Mellen, A Farewell to Justice
9 – Davy, Let Justice Be Done
4 – Probe Magazine
2 – John Armstrong
2 – Jim Garrison
1 – Anthony Summers
And so, most of his footnotes source back to other conspiracy authors. One has no idea of any underlying documentation. Footnote 60 (about the Howard Hunt’s cover story) sources back to page 363 in Destiny Betrayed. If you go to Destiny Betrayed, you’ll find it refers to a memo that has not been found. Footnote 61 (was Dave Phillips in Dallas?) sources back to page 364 of Destiny Betrayed, which refers to another conspiracy book, The Man Who Knew Too Much by Dick Russell. And his source is dubious – an alleged conversation between Phillips, on his death bed, and his brother.
In his book, Destiny Betrayed, 208 footnotes source back to Probe Magazine. Since most issues of Probe Magazine are not online, one has no idea of the underlying source. And, how many libraries have the entire set of Probe Magazine?
DiEugenio also criticizes my footnoting writing that “the proper method is to annotate the information to a box number and folder titles at that archives.” Yet, he does not do that in his books. Here is an excerpt from Destiny Betrayed – NODA refers to the New Orleans District Attorney’s Office.
DiEugenio Doesn’t Tell His Readers What Archives He Has Visited
In researching my book, On The Trail of Delusion, I visited archives in Frederick (Maryland), Dallas, New Orleans, Montreal, Ottawa, Waco, Boston, and Washington D.C. I list all of these archives in the beginning of my notes and sources section.
James DiEugenio does not list any of the archives he has visited.
Here is what he says about my visits to various archives:
“What most of these archives have in common is that they house the papers of Garrison’s critics; for instance. Life reporter Dick Billings, Washington Post reporter George Lardner, and Shaw’s friend, author James Kirkwood.”
First off, Richard Billings became a critic only after working with Garrison. His papers contain many primary Garrison documents and many memos he wrote about the investigation. Secondly, James Kirkwood transcribed many of his interviews with witnesses, jurors on the Shaw trial, and even Judge Haggerty - why on earth would I not go through those papers? What proper researcher would avoid these archives? Did DiEugenio not visit these archives?
Here is a Smorgasbord of DiEugenio Inanities
“John Judge revealed that Penn Jones actually did crawl through that sewer system in the sixties.” Perhaps we could use a source on that. Jerry Dealey has written on the Dallas Sewer System and does not believe this would be possible.
DiEugenio can’t even dismiss Garrison’s theory that Kerry Thornley’s body was in the Oswald backyard photographs. Information supporting the allegation was “supplied by none other than Jack Ruby’s acquaintance Breck Wall.” This is absurd on its face – how on earth would Breck Wall know anything about this? To make this even worse, if you go to DiEugenio’s book, Destiny Betrayed, he writes that when he interviewed Wall in 1993 that “Wall reneged on the claim.”
DiEugenio claims that “many of the lawyers for the other side were being paid by the CIA.” This is simply not true. In an answer to interrogatory, Gordon Novel said that “he understood” his two early lawyers were “clandestinely remunerated by a party of parties unknown to me.” The fees were $1,633 each. Elmer Gertz, Novel’s lawyer for his libel action, clarified this further:
In fact, they might not have been paid. I have about fifty letters from Elmer Gertz to Gordon Novel demanding payment and threatening to end his lawsuit.
Lee Harvey Oswald’s money order used to purchase his rifle was sent from Dallas to Chicago and it arrived one day after it was sent. DiEugenio believes this was impossible and to test the premise, sent a letter which then took five days to arrive. But, as Steve Roe has shown, back in the early sixties, the U.S. Postal system had “Rocket Run” boxes in major cities which promised next day delivery for air mail letters.
My book discusses an article in Confidential Magazine by Joel Palmer, an investigator for Garrison. DiEugenio disputes this saying “Having gone through Garrison’s extant files, I can find no evidence for that statement [that Palmer worked for Garrison].” Yet, I have eight memos to Jim Garrison from Joel Palmer, and one memo from Steve Jaffe asking Palmer to interview a witness. Perhaps DiEugenio should read Palmer’s statement about the Garrison investigation on my blog.
DiEugenio writes that “Harry Connick is a major reason we have such an incomplete record of the Jim Garrison investigation into the JFK assassination.” Actually, Jim Garrison could have released all of his investigative records before he left office. Tom Bethell wondered back in 1969, “When is he [Garrison] going to publish his 26 volumes?”
DiEugenio writes about Gordon Novel and his supposed links to the CIA: “In that sworn deposition, he also admitted he communicated by telegram with Richard Helms.” I have put that telegram on my blog – it was a joke because of the Garrison allegations that the CIA was paying his lawyers.
James DiEugenio writes that “As per Thomas Beckham and his cohort Fred Crisman, no one will never know the truth about them.” This allows DiEugenio to ignore Garrison’s insistence that they were both important suspects in the assassination – so much so that he wrote several memos about them to the HSCA. DiEugenio is silent about Beckham’s laughable deposition to the HSCA.
And, there are more disappearing files – James DiEugenio writes that Garrison said Bill Boxley took the Fred Crisman files. His source is my book – and indeed, Garrison wrote on a Boxley memo that the Crisman file “departed with Boxley.” But, lots of files were disappearing – check out the memo from Tom Bethell on other missing files that I posted on my blog. Garrison was extremely sloppy with file management. DiEugenio also claims that Garrison’s Crisman records in the Assassination Archives and Research Center (AARC) have also disappeared. And, to top it all off, DiEugenio claims to have seen Jim Rose’s documents about Crisman back in 1996 – but won’t tell us what was in those documents. Since I haven’t seen them, he believes my analysis is incomplete.
What James DiEugenio Will Not Comment On
What’s really interesting in DiEugenio’s 34,000+ words is what he leaves out. For instance, he doesn’t say a word about Garrison’s kooky memos to the HSCA; there’s nothing about Garrison’s crazy theory of propinquity; Garrison’s ridiculous attempts at cryptography are not worthy of comment; the three tramps are nowhere to be found in his review; Perry Russo’s lie detectors tests are absent; Garrison’s crazy beliefs about a second Oswald aren’t worthy of a comment; not a sentence about Rev. Clyde Johnson’s crazy story about Shaw and Ruby; and he has nary a word about Fletcher Prouty’s antisemitism.
Blog Links to Debunked DiEugenio Allegations