Jim Garrison: The Uninquisitive District Attorney
Updated: Sep 21
Was Jim Garrison really after the truth in his JFK assassination probe? Here are three instances in which he was incredibly uninquisitive.
1. The Black Cadillac in Clinton, Louisiana.
Let's start with Clinton, Louisiana where several witnesses claimed to have seen Lee Harvey Oswald, Clay Shaw, and David Ferrie together in late August or early September.
John Manchester, the Town Marshall of Clinton, said in his statement to Jim Garrison that the black Cadillac seen in Clinton was identified as being with the International Trade Mart.
Here is his statement:
There seems to be some ambiguity as whether Manchester did run a 1028 license registration check on the Cadillac. Henry Earl Palmer, the Registrar for Clinton, testified at the Shaw trial that he did ask Manchester to run a 1028. Manchester testified he just asked the driver who told him he was with the International Trade Mart.
However, there is some documentary evidence that a 1028 was indeed run on the car.
Here is an excerpt from an Andrew Sciambra memo on Clinton:
Here is an excerpt from another memo from May 25, 1967:
Here Palmer and Manchester claim that a 1028 was done through Essie C. Watson, radio operator for the Sheriff's office.
The next paragraph in the memo adds to the confusion. confirms that the 1028 was run, although the date is in error -- it must be May 22, 1967.
And here is an excerpt from the notes of Anne Dischler, who investigated the Clinton witnesses in 1967:
Jonathan Blackmer was the HSCA staffer who questioned the Clinton witnesses. He realized that there was an issue regarding the black Cadillac. Here is his very telling memo:
Quite the answer from Garrison -- that Manchester's testimony was sufficient and that there had been no check on whether the Trade Mart had registered a Cadillac.
Donald Carpenter, in his magisterial biography of Clay Shaw, Man of a Million Fragments, writes that: (page 365-366)
"Shaw testified at trial that the International Trade Mart had never owned any vehicles. A review of balance sheets and other financial records for the Mart, from its inception through the 1960s, also shows no evidence of vehicle ownership or leasing by the Mart."
So, why didn't Garrison investigate this back in 1967? Why was Manchester's testimony "sufficient"? Was a 1028 run on the Cadillac? If so, were there records about the 1028 in Baton Rouge? Perhaps the 1028, at the time, pointed to an FBI car, which might have been in Clinton because of the CORE voting drive. Perhaps that is why Garrison intimated that the Cadillac belonged to Clay Shaw's friend Jeff Biddison.
This is just one element regarding Clinton that wasn't fully investigated. More to come later on this.
2. The Identity of Clay Bertrand
A key part of Jim Garrison's probe was the identity of Clay Bertrand, the person who supposedly called Dean Andrews and asked him to represent Lee Harvey Oswald.
Clay Shaw was in San Francisco at the St. Francis Hotel on the 22nd and the 23rd of November. He then went to Portland, Oregon.
And Jim Garrison knew exactly where he was:
In March 1967, Garrison met with Jim Dondson, the man that Shaw spent a large part of the November 22nd weekend, in Las Vegas with. Did he not ask if Shaw made any phone calls to New Orleans?
For more on Dondson and Clay Shaw, click here. Here is a picture of Garrison and Dondson together in Las Vegas:
And Garrison did take an interest in tracing long distance phone calls:
Here is an excerpt of a memo regarding long distance phone calls of Nancy Perrin Rich:
Perhaps Garrison did not want to know the real answer.
3. Why Didn't Garrison Go to Montreal?
A major part of the Garrison conspiracy story centers on Permindex/CMC - a failed attempt at building a world trade center that would make Rome a European trading hub. Clay Shaw was on the board of directors and, after his arrest, a communist-controlled newspaper, Paese Sera, ran a series of articles alleging that CMC was a CIA-front organization that funneled money to extreme rightists in Italy.
Paese Sera also alleged that Louis Bloomfield, a banker living in Montreal, was also a very large shareholder. This was not exactly true. Bloomfield was a lawyer in Montreal who represented some of the shareholders in Permindex.
In September 1967, Playboy Magazine published an interview with Jim Garrison. To help convince the editors that he was for real, he gave some confidential information, not for print, to interviewer Eric Norden. Here is one of his memos (I am including the whole memo, but only the first two entries are about Bloomfield and CMC):
In a terrible mashup of conspiracy nonsense, Garrison mixes Bloomfield with the allegations of Richard Giesbrecht, who claimed to have seen David Ferrie at the airport in Winnipeg. The whole memo is nuts - but I've already discussed this in two other blog posts - here, and here.
The point is that Garrison recognized in July 1967, that Bloomfield lived in Montreal.
In November 1967, Garrison sent a letter to Paris Flammonde:
Then in December 1967, a letter was sent to Garrison by a professor at Sir George Williams University (which is where I did my undergraduate studies):
Professor Herrmann actually gives Garrison Bloomfield's address and informs him that "He is the donor of the Bloomfield Stadium in Israel and president of the Canadian HISTADRUTH (the principal Israeli labor union), for whose charitable and other projects he does great good."
A few months later, Bill Turner received a letter from an editor at the Montreal Star, the afternoon newspaper, which he forwarded to Jim Garrison:
Bill Turners adds a note to Garrison: "This man might be a potential sleuth in Montreal. I've answered his letter." Unfortunately, I don't have a copy of Turner's reply. But here was another person who could help Garrison learn more about Bloomfield.
On September 21, 1968, Garrison had a conference with a few of his investigators. They start to talk about Albert Osborne (who went to Mexico at the same time as Oswald, but was from Montreal):
G = Jim Garrison; T = Bill Turner; Box = Bill Boxley.
Garrison says "They've got different modes of transportation but Montreal comes up too often. Remember, that's where Bloomfield is who is in this association with Clay Shaw. Now he's a banker in Montreal. He's probably more than a banker. He's in Montreal and everything happened in Montreal."
In a March 1967, letter Harold Weisberg wrote to an editor at the National Guardian that a reporter had spoken to Louis Bloomfield's brother, Bernard.
Surely, Weisberg would have passed this information on to his friends in New Orleans, no?
For some reason, Garrison believed that Montreal was a major center of operation for the CIA. Here is an excerpt from a memo Garrison wrote in 1968:
Garrison writes that "Furthermore, it is to be noted that the contact points for supervision of the assassination appear to have been Montreal and Mexico City, both of which cities necessarily contain major CIA headquarters."
So, with all this interest in Montreal, why didn't Garrison pick up the phone or send an investigator up north?
Perhaps Garrison knew the allegations in Paese Sera series were nonsense. Perhaps he knew there was no reason to go to Montreal. Or perhaps he did send someone to Montreal - but couldn't bear to tell everybody the news that Louis Bloomfield was nothing more than a corporate lawyer and that CMC was really just a failed attempt at a world trade center.
Finally, it's interesting to note that Jim Garrison claimed that he had never heard of Permindex/CMC until after the Clay Shaw trial. Here is an excerpt from page 87 in On The Trail of the Assassins:
A few pages later (page 90), Garrison claims that limited staff and budget meant he was not able to investigate further.
But Montreal was far closer than Europe. And one phone call would have given him everything he needed to know about Permindex/CMC.
I suspect Garrison didn't need to visit or phone Montreal to know that the Permindex/CMC allegations were nonsense.
Jim Garrison wasn't running a real investigation. He wanted his investigators to confirm his ever-increasing suspicions and, when necessary, to manufacture evidence. The fact that he believed that Clay Shaw and Edgar Eugene Bradley were JFK assassination conspirators tells you all you need to know.