"JFK Revisited" Misleads on Guy Banister
Updated: Jan 5
Oliver Stone's so-called documentary, JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass, makes the claim that Guy Banister gave Lee Harvey Oswald an office at 544 Camp Street in New Orleans.
Here is an excerpt from a transcript: (1:11:32)
Whoopi Goldberg: 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. After the assassination, when the FBI questioned Banister, a former FBI agent himself, they did not ask him about Oswald.
It's interesting that the documentary mentions the 544 Camp Street address and not Banister's address which was right around the corner at 531 Lafayette Street. This was because Oswald stamped the 544 Camp Street address on a few of his pamphlets. Note that most, if not all, of the flyers that Oswald handed out on Canal Street had either his Magazine Street address or his post office box, and not the Camp Street address. By the way, Oswald worked for two months at Reily Coffee, which was just a block away from the Camp Street address.
Joseph Newbrough was a detective who worked for Guy Banister from 1958 to 1964. He was interviewed for the PBS Frontline documentary, "Who Was Lee Harvey Oswald?" (from an unpublished transcript)
Q: Oswald handed out his leaflets as you well know, they were addressed 544 Camp
Street. Did he have an office there?
Newbrough: To my best knowledge and belief he did not have an office at 544 Camp Street, but if he did it would have not necessarily have connected him with Guy Banister who used the address 531 LaFayette Street which was around the corner.
Q: If you go through 544 Camp Street can you reach Banister's office?
Newbrough: You absolutely could not reach Banister's office unless you exited ... If you entered 544 Camp Street the only way you could have gotten to Banister's
office was to go out a window. There was no staircase, though much has been said of a staircase, it didn't exist.
Q: So they had separate entrances?
Newbrough: Totally separate entrances and probably 60 steps apart.
So, was there any relationship between Guy Banister and Lee Harvey Oswald? Did Oswald operate out of Banister's office? Did Oswald use the office to print up his literature?
There is little firm evidence to place Lee Harvey Oswald in Banister's office. Yes, there are some witnesses, but they all lack credibility. Jim Garrison talked to most, if not all, of the people who worked at Guy Banister's office and none of them remember seeing Oswald.
Here is a list of Banister employees, along with the dates and authors of corresponding memos during the Garrison investigation. I have most of these documents and none of them mention Oswald.
Since the annotated version of the script of JFK Revisited is not out yet, I had to go to James DiEugenio's book, Destiny Betrayed, to determine which witnesses placed Oswald in Banister's office.
Let's examine these witnesses one by one.
Witness: Delphine Roberts
Delphine Roberts was Guy Banister's secretary. Here are two previous blog posts that examined her statements:
Roberts was interviewed in January of 1967 and didn't say one word about seeing Oswald in Banister's office.
Mary Brengel also worked for Guy Banister and didn't say one word about Oswald.
The allegation that Oswald was using a room in Banister's office probably came from an August 27, 1978 HSCA interview with Delphine Roberts:
Does this story make any sense? Oswald was either "working or attempting to work for Banister"? Roberts doesn't know? Marina came to visit with Lee? Why would Banister yell at Sam Newman, the owner of the building, for letting Oswald use a room, if he was part of Banister's operation?
By the way, here is an excerpt from an earlier HSCA interview with Delphine Roberts on July 6, 1978 (courtesy of the Malcolm Blunt Archives):
"The committee did not credit the Roberts' testimony standing alone. It came late in the investigation and without corroboration or independent substantiation, and much of Roberts' other testimony lacked credibility."
Witness: Vernon Gerdes (page 112 of Destiny Betrayed)
"Former Banister investigator Vernon Gerdes later worked for attorney Stephen Plotkin. He told Plotkin that he had seen Oswald and Ferrie together with Banister. Plotkin later told one of Clay Shaw's lawyers he considered Gerdes a reliable witness."
Here is a blog post on Gerdes. He never told Garrison that he had seen Oswald in Banister's office and he told the HSCA he had never seen Oswald in New Orleans. DiEugenio's book is misleading since Plotkin only said that Gerdes "reportedly" had seen Oswald.
Witness: Jack Martin (page 112 of Destiny Betrayed)
"Another former Banister gumshoe, Jack Martin, said he was introduced to Oswald by Ferrie in Banister's office. With Ferrie at the time was Sergio Arcacha Smith."
Here is a blog post on this allegation. Jack Martin was not a credible witness in any way, shape, form or manner.
"Martin has also told the committee he saw Lee Harvey Oswald with Ferrie in Guy Banister's office in 1963. Nevertheless, in light of Martin's previous contradictory statements to authorities shortly after the assassination in which Martin made no such allegation about having seen Oswald, it may be argued that credence should not be placed in Martin's statements to the committee."
Witness: Tommy Baumler (page 112 of Destiny Betrayed)
"Tommy Baumler was another former student who worked for Banister. He joined left wing college groups and reported back to the former G-man. Baumler was another Banister employee who was very reluctant about talking to Jim Garrison. But many years later, after being established as a New Orleans lawyer, he spoke to researcher Bud Fensterwald and told him that there was no doubt that Oswald had worked for Banister."
Note that Baumler does not say he saw Oswald in Banister's office.
Baumler said a lot of things. Here is a memo that gives you an idea about his credibility:
Witness: Dan Campbell (page 111 of Destiny Betrayed)
"He recalled one day when he was at Banister's, a young man came in to use the phone: "I knew he was a Marine from his bearing and speech pattern the minute he walked into 544 Camp Street," The next time he saw this young man was when his image was on TV and he was accused of being the killer of President Kennedy."
DiEugenio's source is his interview of Dan Campbell in 1994.
Here is a Garrison memo on Dan Campbell:
No mention of seeing Oswald in Banister's office.
Dan Campbell was interviewed for the 2013 Frontline PBS special, "Who Was Lee Harvey Oswald?" He told them that he did see Oswald in Banister's office but both in 1962 and 1963., It would have been impossible to see Oswald in Banister's office in 1962 because he was not living in New Orleans then. The Frontline researchers did not find him a credible witness.
Witness: Allen Campbell (page 111 - 112 in Destiny Betrayed)
"Allen Campbell, like his brother, also worked for Banister. On one of the days Oswald was distributing his literature nearby, Allen recalled Delphine Roberts returning to the office and complaining to Banister about Oswald distributing pro-Castro leaflets on the street. Campbell remembered Banister trying to reassure Roberts by telling her not to worry because, "He's with us, he's associated with this office."
Once again, DiEugenio's source is his 1994 interview with Allen Campbell.
Here is a Garrison memo on Allen Campbell:
Nothing about Lee Harvey Oswald, except that the Campbell brothers were at the same Orphans Home in 1946.
Allen Campbell was interviewed for the 2013 PBS Frontline Special, "Who Was Lee Harvey Oswald?" He specifically denied ever seeing Lee Harvey Oswald. (from an unpublished transcript)
Q: No while you were working for Mr. Banister did you ever seen Lee Oswald in his offices?
Campbell: No sir, I never did, I never saw Lee in his office.
Q: Where was Lee at the time?
Campbell: I have no idea.
Q: According to a fairly authoritative book you're quoted as follows "Alan told the New Orleans authorities in a 1969 interview that he was at Camp Street on one of two occasions when Oswald passed out Fair Play for Cuba leaflets near the International Trade Mart. When somebody in the office mentioned the pro-Castro demonstration Banister might have expected to react with characteristic spleen. According to the 1969 interview Alan Campbell said Banister merely laughed."
Campbell: No sir, that's not possible. If I would have seen Lee handing out pamphlets I would have walked up to Lee and asked him what he was doing, and I would have walked back to Mr. Banister's office with this information. I would have said - Mr. Banister there is a friend of mine handing out leaflets, dealing with communism. No sir, that is a direct misquote. I did not see Lee any time after the fifties, it was impossible.
Another witness who knew Al Campbell said he never mentioned Oswald:
Note at the bottom where Sciambra writes "Williams said that Campbell never mentioned Ferrie, Oswald or Shaw. Williams said the first time he heard Oswald's name was after the assassination."
Witness: David Lewis (page 112 in Destiny Betrayed)
"David Lewis, a former investigator for Banister, stated that he once met Oswald in the summer of 1963 in a restaurant housed at the Camp Street building."
David Lewis was another crackpot who disappeared after making some ridiculous allegations in 1967. When first interviewed Lewis said he had seen Oswald at Mancuso's in 1961, when Oswald was in Russia.
Further Jack Mancuso ran the restaurant at the corner of Camp and Lafayette and did not remember seeing Oswald:
There are a few more witnesses mentioned by DiEugenio. Consuela Martin supposedly worked for Banister as a translator. She said Oswald "came to see her more than once to drop off things to be translated." (page 111). But the source is conspiracy theorist Michael Kurtz whose reliability is suspect. The other witness is Delphine Roberts' daughter who is quoted in Anthony Summers' book, The Kennedy Conspiracy. She supposedly saw Oswald using a room for his pamphlets and books, but never saw Oswald talking to Banister. She also spoke to Gerald Posner and told him that Oswald "lived there [544 Camp Street], had an apartment there, for two or three months." She also said she had met Marguerite Oswald (page 141 in Cased Closed).
No witness came forward in 1964 to claim that Oswald was hanging out in Banister's office. If Oswald did really operate out of Banister's office, surely someone would have talked, and word would have gotten out. The only person coming forward with such a story when Jim Garrison was investigating was the crackpot Jack Martin.
The preponderance of the evidence leads me to conclude that there was no connection between Oswald and Banister. It's hard to prove a negative, but until someone comes out with some hard and credible information, I'll leave it at that.
"Thus, the committee could find no documentary proof that Banister had a file on Lee Harvey Oswald nor could the committee find credible witnesses who ever saw Lee Harvey Oswald and Guy Banister together."
Guy Banister's brother, Ross, told the HSCA that they discussed Oswald:
I can't vouch for his veracity, but it is interesting that Guy Banister, in conversation with his own brother, said nothing about any connection to Oswald. Perhaps he did see Oswald leafletting. However, his theory is a bit convoluted. Banister's involvement with the jeeps was in 1960, well before Oswald arrived in New Orleans.
Here is what Ross Banister was talking about:
New Orleans States-Item, October 1, 1960
To buttress their case of a relationship between Oswald and Banister, JFK Revisited includes a short clip of William Gaudet saying that he them talking together during the leafletting incident. An upcoming blog post will take a comprehensive look at Gaudet and his credibility. Stay tuned.
Oliver Stone and James DiEugenio might find the evidence that Oswald had a room in Banister's office persuasive. The evidence does not sustain their conclusions.
Previous Relevant Blog Posts on JFK Revisited
Dr. Robert Kirschner's consultation with the ARRB explains a mystery in the documentary.
JFK Revisited makes a big deal about the weight of JFK's brain and ignores a non-conspiratorial explanation.
Oliver Stone's so-called documentary makes it sound like the autopsy photographer said that he did not take the photos of JFK's brain that are in the current inventory,
Oliver Stone took to Twitter last weekend to bemoan the fact that the mainstream press is ignoring his so-called documentary, JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass.
There is something really obscene about Oliver Stone once again going after Clay Shaw.
You won't learn everything you need to know about Connally's position on the shots from Oliver Stone's so-called documentary.
Oliver Stone tries to make it seem like Marina Porter has denied taking the backyard photographs of Lee Harvey Oswald.
Oliver Stone once again raises the issue of the legitimacy of the backyard photographs of Lee Harvey Oswald.
This post debunks every witness that ever claimed Shaw was Bertrand.
He cannot imagine any sort of non-conspiratorial explanations for any of the suspicious pieces of evidence in his film.
No, Clay Shaw was not a "contract agent."
Steve Roe Blog Posts on JFK Revisited
JFK Revisited: Again, Caught Creating False Mysteries "Stone/DiEugenio hatch another Bogus Mystery with Sinister Strap/Sling Mounts on Oswald's Rifle"
Oliver Stone claims that Oswald could not have been in the sniper's nest on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository. Steve Roe exposes Stone's mistakes.
In an interview on RT [Russia Today], Oliver Stone says that the throat wound might have been made by a flechette.
Steve Roe presents some examples of Oliver Stone's 'creative' abilities.
Oliver Stone distorts the testimony about Oswald's palmprint on the Mannlicher-Carcano rifle.