Merriman Smith on Jim Garrison, and the Saga of David Lewis (Part One)
Updated: Oct 25, 2021
Merriman Smith was the UPI journalist in the press car in the motorcade who first reported that shots were fired at JFK. He won the Pulitzer Prize in 1964 for his coverage of the assassination.
He also wrote about Jim Garrison. He interviewed Garrison in late February 1967, and before he wrote his article, he called the FBI to tell them what he had learned:
This is a good early view of Garrison's thinking. You can see the homosexual angle played up where Garrison claims a "group of local perverts" infiltrated, and then took over, the anti-Castro training camp.
Here is his article from March 5, 1967 - in this case from the Boston Record American - note this is a UPI article and it appeared in many newspapers across the country.
Smith then wrote to the FBI with a copy of his wire story:
After Merriman Smith's article appeared, a complaint was filed by David Lewis:
Here is a picture of David Lewis:
I doubt this went anywhere.
Here is David Lewis' statement from December 1966:
David Lewis sure saw Lee Harvey Oswald a lot. At Mancuso' Restaurant, in Banister's office, and even at David Ferrie's apartment. He realized he had seen Oswald right after he was killed by Jack Ruby. But, he never came forward until the Jim Garrison investigation.
Then in January 1967 he was back in Garrison's office, and David Chandler, a local reporter who was friendly with Garrison, was there:
A couple of points, first, note that Lewis now claims he saw Oswald with Quiroga in 1962 - which is impossible because Oswald had just returned from the Soviet Union, and was living in Ft. Worth. Second, he now claims he was just shot at. A future blog post will examine the supposed shooting in more detail. But, they administered a lie detector test on Lewis and he failed. That was enough to finish him off as a potential witness.
Here is what Tom Bethell wrote in his diary about David Lewis:
I asked Garrison what he thought about David Lewis as a witness; he didn't seem to have much of an opinion. I then pointed out that Lewis was one of the few linking Oswald and Ferrie. He didn't know this, or at least pretended not to realize it, and I then pointed out the trouble with the dates. (When David Lewis was originally interviewed in the DA's office, Dec14, 1966, he had been quite positive that the date he saw "Lee Harvey" at Mancuso's restaurant was in 1961, when Oswald was in Russia. I was in Ivon's office with Lewis on that day, the day I was hired.) Garrison then said something about Lewis later correcting the date.
Alcock discussed Ferrie and pointed out he saw no reason to believe Ferrie was involved. I asked him if we had any witnesses other than Jack Martin or David Lewis who linked Ferrie and Oswald. He said no, and then added that Lewis was "a liar", and that anyway Martin didn't ever claim seeing Oswald and Ferrie together. (Not so. At one point, Martin did make such a claim. He might have added that it was surely more than coincidence that Martin and Lewis both came into the DA's office with matching stories on the same day, Dec 14, 1966, incidentally the date in the guest book at the VIP Lounge. Also, later on Matin and Lewis were sharing an apartment together.)
David Lewis met with the press in late February:
Boston Traveler, February 23, 1967
Not surprisingly, David Lewis is not mentioned in Jim Garrison's book, On The Trail of The Assassins. But, guess who actually believes Lewis is a credible witness? Yup, James DiEugenio, in his book Destiny Betrayed, writes:
"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. With Oswald was Sergio Arcacha Smith."
James DiEugenio doesn't even source primary documents - his source is Henry Hurt's book, Reasonable Doubt. And, besides the fact that Lewis has no credibility (and he was not an investigator for Banister) - DiEugenio should know that Sergio Arcacha Smith was not living in New Orleans in the summer of 1963.
Smith wrote another article about Garrison in 1969: