"JFK: Destiny Betrayed" Misleads Viewers on Oswald's "Hands Off Cuba!" Handbills
Updated: Jan 8
Oliver Stone's so-called documentary series, JFK: Destiny Betrayed, misleads viewers into believing that Oswald gave out handbills on the streets of New Orleans with the 544 Camp Street address. In fact, Oswald used his real address or his P. O. Box on those handbills, and the 544 Camp Street address was only used on Fair Play for Cuba Committee (FPCC) pamphlets by Corliss Lamont.
Here is an excerpt from a transcript: (10:55 in episode 4)
Whoopi Goldberg: Another person Oswald was seen with in New Orleans in 1963 was Guy Banister. Banister was an extreme right-winger who was close to the FBI, the CIA, and the American Nazi Party. Banister gave Oswald his own office at 544 Camp Street. Oswald now began to use his office to print up and stamp pro-Castro literature, much of it associated with the Fair Play for Cuba Committee centered in New York.
Screen shot from JFK: Destiny Betrayed
In JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass, Jefferson Morley makes a similar point about the pamphlets: (1:09:32)
Jefferson Morley: In the spring of 1963, Oswald started handing out pamphlets for the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, a pro-Castro, pro-Cuban Revolution group that was popular on college campuses and some of them he stamped 544 Camp Street which was an office in downtown New Orleans near where the CIA's offices were, right across the street, in fact. It was also the home of the Cuban Revolutionary Council which was the leading anti-Castro group. Why would a pro-Castro activist put his headquarters in the same headquarters as the leading anti-Castro group in the country? Because he was a provocateur.
According to the HSCA, the Cuban Revolutionary Council (CRC) only had offices at 544 Camp Street for about six months in 1961-1962. Sam Newman, owner of the building, told Jim Garrison that the CRC was only in the building for the last three months of 1961. This was well before Oswald had moved back to New Orleans in the spring of 1963. He also had no recollection of ever seeing Oswald in or around the building.
Oswald ordered 1,000 handbills from Jones Printing in New Orleans, and these flyers he stamped either his home address or his Post Office Box. The Corliss Lamont pamphlets that he stamped with 544 Camp Street were from a limited stock that he received from the Fair Play for Cuba Committee in New York. JFK: Destiny Betrayed moves the 544 Camp Street stamp to the 'Hands Off Cuba' handbills to increase the importance of the address stamp.
To reiterate: the handbills that Oswald gave out three times in New Orleans did not have 544 Camp Street stamped on them. He only stamped 544 Camp Street on pamphlets by Corliss Lamont.
Note that only the flyer (a.k.a. handbill) tried to lure the recipient to a destination:
“Join... Free Literature... Lectures.... Location”
If Oswald was really intending to be a provocateur, he would have tried to lure people to 544 Camp Street, no? Instead, he is luring them to his home or his Post Office Box.
What about the handbills that allegedly contain the address 544 Camp Street?
The handbill shown in JFK: Destiny Betrayed is fake, and its precursor in Oliver Stone's feature film, JFK, was also a fake. Let's start with those.
There is a fake flyer in Robert Groden's 1993 book, The Killing of a President: (page 141)
Gus Russo published a similar handbill in his 1998 book, Live By The Sword:
There are several errors in the old fakes which are obvious once you see them.
Note that the Groden and Russo handbills have a lower-case l in Literature, while the real pamphlet has an upper-case l. In addition, the word LOCATION in the real handbill starts under the i in Literature, while in the fake handbills, LOCATION starts under the t. There is also a different spacing of OC in LOCATION -- the fake flyers have more space.
These fake handbills were made for Oliver Stone's film, JFK. Now one can make a reasonable case that using such a fake handbill in a fictional film is quite ok. Keep in mind that Oliver Stone combined four real people into his composite character Willie O'Keefe, So, dramatic license does give some leeway to stretch the truth. I have argued, and I would still argue, that turning Jim Garrison into a heroic prosecutor was a bridge too far.
But to use fake handbills in a documentary is to turn fiction into fact. And that needs to be called out.
Note the small l in literature, and that the word LOCATION starts under the t in literature. This is clearly a fake handbill.
As for the handbill used in JFK: Destiny Betrayed, DiEugenio also used it in a PowerPoint presentation:
I will discuss his allegation that FBI agent Harry Maynor "whited out" the 544 Camp Street address in an upcoming post. It was not done by the FBI, and it was not done for nefarious reasons. Stay tuned.
In addition, DiEugenio's quotation is just plain fiction derived from JFK. (see page 34 in JFK: The Book of the Film)
DiEugenio: Banister was very upset when he learned Oswald was arrested with his address on a pamphlet. "How is it going to look for him to have the same address as me?"
JFK (1991): Guy Banister intercepts him on the sidewalk, holding a leaflet and pointing to "544 Camp Street" stamped on it. Guy seems miffed at Oswald, tells him something quickly, and then moves on. Banister: "See this? What the hell is this doing on this piece of paper? ... (he moves away) Asshole.”
While the flyer is more carefully done there is one unambiguous proof of fakery. The size of the L.H. Oswald stamp, in relation to the handbill. Here is the real thing:
And here is the DiEugenio handbill:
The size is all wrong. On the fake flyer, the stamp takes up most of the space between LOCATION and EVERYONE WELCOME. On the real flyer, the stamp is much smaller. Compare the size of "L. H. OSWALD" and "LOCATION" in each of the two flyers.
You can easily see the size differences between the real handbill (on the top) and the fake handbill (on the bottom):
In addition, Lee Harvey Oswald put a period after LA on his handbills and pamphlets. The fake flyers do not have a period after the LA.
Oswald might have changed his punctuation just as he changed the content of his stamp, but he could not have changed the type size.
And James DiEugenio has used his fake flyer on more than one occasion.
It's one thing for Oliver Stone to use a fake flyer in JFK. It's quite another for James DiEugenio to continually use a fake flyer on his website. And, for James DiEugenio and Oliver Stone to use a fake flyer in a documentary film turns it into the transubstantiation of fiction into fact.
James DiEugenio and Oliver Stone owe us an explanation.
Perhaps someone found out that Oswald did not use 544 Camp Street on any of the handbills in the archival record. John Newman suggested an explanation for their absence from the official record in JFK: Destiny Betrayed: (12:28 in episode 4)
John Newman: At some point, the FBI, I think probably after the assassination, decided they wanted to disconnect Oswald from the FBI. And of course, Banister, who's associated with the FBI would have to be disconnected as well. The problem with that, many of those handbills had the 544 Camp Street address on them. There was a message from New Orleans to the bureau written by a special agent Maynor, who actually mentioned pamphlets that had the 544 Camp Street address on it. And before that message was sent, it was scratched out.
The crossed-out notation at the top reads as follows:
Several Fair Play for Cuba pamphlets contained address 544 Camp St.
There is no evidence that the note was written by special agent Maynor. The note might have been added after the message was sent.
There is a sentence in the above document about Sam Newman, owner of the Newman building on the corner of Camp and Lafayette, who "does not have any recollection of any individual by that name [Oswald] ..."
A more precise version of the scratched-out sentence was added:
ON AUGUST EIGHT SIXTYTHREE, OSWALD FURNISHED A PAMPLET ENTITLED CRIME AGAINST CUBA BY CORLISS LAMONT. PAGE THIRTYNINE OF PAMPLET BORE STAMPED IMPRESSION QUOTE F P C C FIVE FOUR FOUR CAMP ST. NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA. UNQUOTE.
The document cited by John Newman was a draft; various edits marked there were implemented when the text was sent to FBI HQ.
There is no evidence that 544 Camp Street was stamped on any of the handbills that Oswald handed out on the streets of New Orleans. But it was important to the producers of JFK: Destiny Betrayed to have a strong Oswald link to that address. Thus, they decided to use fake handbills to bolster their incredibly weak case.
A big thank you to Paul Hoch who contributed most of the research on this blog post.
Over the past several months, I have shown in multiple blog posts how Oliver Stone's documentary series, JFK Revisited and JFK: Destiny Betrayed, misleads viewers. In fact, despite months of work, there are still many more misleading segments that need to be addressed. It's no wonder that the fact checkers of Netflix nixed the airing of the films.
There is a choice between four hours of tendentious nonsense (JFK: Destiny Betrayed) and two hours (JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass). As a handy guide for viewers, here are all those posts in order of their appearance in JFK: Destiny Betrayed and JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass, preceded by some general critiques