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  • Writer's pictureFred Litwin

Gaeton Fonzi Channels Jim Garrison...

Updated: Jan 8, 2022

Gaeton Fonzi

Here is a memo written by Gaeton Fonzi to Troy Gustavson about Kerry Thornley. This memo predates the HSCA and was written when Fonzi was doing some work for Senator Schweiker. Gustavson was Schweiker's press secretary.

There are many people who believe that Fonzi was this amazing investigator. This memo shows him to be someone who was capable of swallowing the most amazing nonsense from Jim Garrison. Documents courtesy of the Malcolm Blunt Archive.

On the first page, Fonzi mentions that it was his idea to check with the New Orleans Police Department to see if Thornley had an arrest record. Sure enough, he was arrested in 1962 for placing a poster on a telephone pole, and he was fined $15. Interestingly, Garrison tells Fonzi that "police records can be easily changed." I wonder how Garrison knew this.

Why does Garrison even mention the possibility? Because he wants the incident to have taken place in 1963 and that would have put the date just four days after Oswald was arrested for handing out Fair Play for Cuba Committee flyers.

Garrison tells the story differently in his book, On the Trail of the Assassins:

I had my staff inquiring about him and learned, to my surprise, that Thornley -- who had been in the Marines with Oswald in 1959 -- had arrived in New Orleans as far back as 1961. In a routine check of police records we found that he was also in New Orleans in 1962. He had been arrested in August for putting a sign on a telephone pole on Royal Street, in the French Quarter, in violation of a city ordinance. When questioned, however, they no longer could recall the subject of the sign Thornley had posted.

In this case, Fonzi is correct. In the transcript of Garrison's discussion with the HSCA he says that they talked to the police officers in 1977.

Fonzi then discusses the Thornley affidavit which he sent to both the HSCA and to Jim Garrison.

Here is a note that Garrison sent to Fonzi about the affidavit:

Here is a transcription:


Re: 1976 Affidavit of Kerry Thornley: In particular, Re: Banister, Ferrie, Mexico City + Rosselli)

Thornley admits:

  1. Arrives in New Orleans in "early 1961" (Bay of Pigs occurred in April, 1961. N.O. [New Orleans] was used as a logistical base + training area for anti-Castro activities by U.S. intelligence in the early 1960's. Examples: Attempted purchase of Ford pick up trucks in Oswald's name while he was still in Russia; training of anti-Castro guerillas north of Lake Pontchartrain, etc.) Thornley departs from New Orleans (for Arlington, Virginia, to await his testimony in Washington before the Warren Commission, in December, 1963).

  2. In New Orleans, in 1961, Thornley "accidentally" meets Guy Banister, discusses with him the book he is writing about Lee Oswald.

  3. In 1962, Thornley "accidentally" meets David Ferrie ("I'm nearly sure that no significant conversation transpired")

  4. In September of 1963 Thornley visits Mexico City. ("For many years I had wanted to visit Mexico City ...")

  5. Also in September 1963 Thornley is in New Orleans during same period Oswald was. (Later, he says "I began to realize that others might have good reason for suspecting me of being part of an assassination conspiracy.")

  6. From 1964 until June of 1966, Thornley worked at Glen Towers apartments, Los Angeles, where he got to know John Rosselli, who happened to live there. (They have conversations speculating about the assassination).

To put all of this in context, you have to understand that Kerry Thornley was becoming more and more paranoid. He believed that he had met Guy Banister in perhaps 1961 through Martin McAuliffe who was active in anti-Castro organizations. They talked about his book. He then 'remembered' being at a party at David Ferrie's house. All of this contributed to a growing paranoia.

In addition to his affidavit, Kerry sent the HSCA a number of other perplexing documents, which included a memo regarding an "Atlanta Friends Meeting," a group of Quakers who provided ministry and counseling sessions. In this memo, Kerry explained how he'd sought counsel through the group, which he came to believe had been infiltrated by the intelligence community. The memo itself is a rambling, manic rant that illustrates Kerry's increasing paranoia during this period and his belief that he was being spied upon -- and manipulated -- by intelligence agency spooks.

Tom Bethell wrote in his diary that Garrison was "hypnotised" by Thornley's supposed relationships to other principals in the case (or should I have said propinquity?): Here is an excerpt from his diary entry of February 9, 1968:

Garrison in the office today, in one of his talkative, performing moods. He kept calling me, and others, into his office on pretexts. He is also considering charging Kerry Thornley, who was also in the office today. Alcock said "He'd better not," (charge Thornley) as there was no evidence against him, with which I agree. But Garrison is hynotised by the fact that Thornley (a) admits having met Clay Shaw. (b) showed the ms of his (first) book to Martin McCauliffe [sic], professor at LSU who helped found Friends of Democratic Cuba, an anti-Castro outfit including Sergio Arcacha Smith, "who was involved with Oswald," according to Garrison. (c) Picked up unemployment checks at Julia St., near Camp St. (d) met Guy Banister. (e) Moved to Arlington, Va. soon after the assassination. (f) Lived at one point on Dauphine St, a couple of blocks from Clay Shaw, and one or two other points.

But to Fonzi, all of these coincidences mean something:

Of course, the coincidences that Thornley emphasizes as the key connections -- his association with some Nazi-leaning conspirators -- are not the ones that Garrison feels are significant. From my perspective, I find the affidavit as a whole especially interesting because it fits precisely into a model which I have come to believe represents modules of misinformation fed to me over the past year from representatives of the intelligence community. Here again we have a checkerboard pattern, some blocks of which are filled with exquisite details, precise chronological recollection and a cornucopia of investigative leads and possibilities; while other blocks are difficult to pinpoint chronologically and are passed over in haste and with fuzzy recollection. However, all in all, it is designed to leave the impression of exhaustive comprehensiveness (sort of like the Warren Report itself) and, therefore, truthfulness.

What a revealing paragraph! He refers to some of Thornley's acquaintances (probably Banister and Ferrie) as Nazi-leaning conspirators. Banister was certainly Nazi-leaning, but neither Ferrie nor Banister were conspirators. Certainly, it would have been premature to call them conspirators in 1976 at the start of the HSCA investigation. The rest of the paragraph is just gobbledygook. And it was also premature to reach any conclusions about the Warren Report.

But what upsets Fonzi the most is that Thornley had the temerity not to mention his arrest in his affidavit:

What makes Thornley's affidavit even more important than its substance is, I feel, this: Although he professes to recall the most minute details of his New Orleans experience, he doesn't mention anything at all about his being arrested.

Really? This is what gets you upset?

Finally Vic got a job with a theatre group called "Way Off Broadway" here in the Quarter. This Bill Schmidt was a real con man but Vic knew this as he had worked for him before, so he warned me and said just make sure you get your money and make sure he pays you in cash. He offered me $80 dollars a week to put out posters for him and I started working for him too.

Fonzi also buys into the Oswald impersonation nonsense:

Garrison feels that since this took place when the real Oswald was supposedly in Russia, it indicates the first known instance of what would later become a pattern of impersonation. (It strikes me that right from the beginning Oswald's main assignment, or MOS, in the intelligence community may have been as a decoy. Isn't it possible that certain individuals, possessed of certain malleable characteristics and not particularly distinguishing features, are deliberately recruited to play the role, probably without their knowledge, of decoy, which so many intelligence operations seem to require?)

This is from an HSCA crack investigator?

Was Gaeton Fonzi suffering from Stockholm Syndrome?

Previous Blog Posts Regarding Garrison-HSCA Interviews

Exclusive: Jim Garrison Tells the HSCA that Kerry Thornley Impersonated Lee Harvey Oswald... Garrison tells the HSCA all sorts of stories about Kerry Thornley

Yes, Garrison believed that Fred Crisman was one of the tramps.

Garrison only has one witness that places Oswald in Banister's office and even he is not too sure about his credibility.

Garrison tells the HSCA that Kerry Thornley might be the body in the backyard photographs.

Other Kerry Thornley Blog Posts

The first writings from Thornley on November 27, 1963, about Oswald.

Jim Garrison was convinced that Thornley was the only Marine to describe Oswald's left-wing politics.

Sylvia Meagher was a big supporter of Kerry Thornley and here is some of their correspondence.

Garrison writes a memo to the HSCA alleging that Thornley was the second Oswald.

An interview with another prisoner is more evidence to Jim Garrison that Thornley is the second Oswald.

Was Kerry Thornley gay?


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