Harold Weisberg on Jim Garrison
Updated: Oct 11, 2021
The Girl on the Stairs blog has an interesting interview of Harold Weisberg by author Barry Ernest from 1999:
What about Garrison. What happened to him?
I don’t know. I don’t know if he became crazy or just irresponsible. I think that as a district attorney he was a good district attorney. He was insensitive to what reflected on him personally. I can tell you stories about that. He got his start with what I wrote in Whitewash. He said it was Senator [Russell] Long who gave him the idea about the assassination. But Long was interviewed by George Lardner of the [Washington] Post and said the first time he [Long] heard about it, it was over the radio. So why does a man do this? He [Garrison] would tell a lot of people rubbish in telephone interviews and on talk shows. And he would do this while I was sitting there. I said, “Jim, why are you going through all that crazy stuff?” He said, “I’m fighting fire with fire. They’re giving me trouble, I’m giving them trouble.” I believed it too long. Great tragedy. Great tragedy.
Was Clay Shaw involved? Was he Clay Bertrand?
I don’t know. But from what Dean Andrews told me and without using those words, he was. But one thing you’ve got to remember: he [Andrews] is one of the most accomplished liars. But don’t underestimate him. I’ll tell you a story about Dean Andrews. I was in his office on a Saturday afternoon when the telephone rings. It was from one of his homosexual clients calling and saying that he was coming up from Texas to kill him. I won’t try to imitate his [Andrew’s] accent—nobody could—but he says to me, “When he comes to New Orleans he’ll be on my turf.” This was on a Saturday. In the papers on Monday or Tuesday, the evening paper, had a banner headline across the whole top of the page that this guy was captured in New Orleans. A remarkable coincidence that Dean knew what he was talking about. That’s impressive.
What was [Bill] Boxley’s role in all of this?
That’s a strange story. He was recommended to Garrison and Garrison hired him as an investigator rather than as a semi-employee on the Garrison payroll that these people were contributing to. Because he had been in the CIA. And because he was bright. And he was a dedicated man; he was really dedicated to Garrison. He would have never come up with some of those memos, never even thought of it if they weren’t in support of Garrison. And he made them up. He was always very secretive about everything. I caught him lying once. And he apologized and said it was just a simple mistake.
Was Garrison legitimate?
He may have believed he was. I don’t know how sick he was. But he was a great disappointment. A great disappointment. Because he impressed me very much to begin with. And even when he was lying, he was very impressive. And I told you what his explanation was when I pointed out these things to him that were not true. He was a plagiarizer, I’ll tell you. There is an unknown story about Garrison. One day when Garrison was in town, I got a call that woke me up and said, “The boss wants you to come out to the house and talk with you for a while. Can you do it?” And I said, “Oh sure.” So I drove down there and he was preparing a speech. To be delivered to the press association in Los Angeles. And he wanted my opinion of it and he read something to me. The one thing he plagiarized from was the introduction to, the forward to Photographic Whitewash . And I looked at him and said, “Jim. Do you have Photographic Whitewash?” “Wouldn’t be without it,” he said. He turned around and there it was on the wall behind him. He gives it to me. And, he plagiarized it from page 9. He said, “I knew I read it someplace.” And I said, “Well, Jim, I don’t mind your using it. I’d like you to use it. It’s a good line.” I can remember approximately what he was talking about: people thinking Johnson was behind the assassination. I said, “Jim, you’ll never have proof on that. Write it down and use it. You’re going to fluff it again.” And that’s exactly what he did.
[The line Weisberg is referring to is: “No matter how pure his motive, no matter how humble his gathering of fagots (if it is humble he is), they stoke a witch’s cauldron and he is thought MacBeth.”]
So, he not only plagiarized what I wrote in Whitewash on [Dean] Andrews, he plagiarized the concept of Oswald. He’d just take on things and improvise on them, and sometimes they couldn’t be recognized by the time he got finished improvising.
But he made wild statements though, didn’t he?
Wild as hell. Unbelievable.
That did more damage than it did good?
It did. It damaged everybody’s credibility. It damaged any lingering media interest in the assassination, and there wasn’t very much, but there was by some individual reporters.
Didn’t he know that that was damaging?
If he did, he didn’t care. He must have figured he’d get a conviction. He had no case at all. When it came to the hard evidence, he let other people worry about that.
What about Clinton, Louisiana?
They [witnesses in Clinton] were impressive. I met them. I spent part of the day with them. But it could not have been Shaw [supposedly identified as driving the car containing Ferrie and Oswald]. I was up in Clinton, and Oswald did in fact apply for a job there. But they have no record of it. At least they told me they had no record of it. But, it doesn’t make sense. If Shaw wanted to get him [Oswald] a job anywhere, including New Orleans, all he had to do was pick up the phone.
Why would Oswald have wanted a job in Clinton, Louisiana?
The story is that Clay Shaw was getting him a job. He would not have wanted one in Clinton. He would have been lost there. It’s a small town. The streets weren’t even paved when I was there. It doesn’t make sense. They’re making up a story that’s not going to be questioned; they knew that to begin with. So, they don’t worry about it.
Other Blog Posts about Harold Weisberg
Harold Weisberg Writes Oliver Stone
The Outline for a George Lardner/Harold Weisberg Book on Jim Garrison/Oliver Stone