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  • Writer's pictureFred Litwin

The HSCA and the Clinton/Jackson Witnesses, Part One

Updated: Dec 13, 2023

The HSCA's investigation of the Clinton/Jackson witnesses was extremely poor and incomplete. Many witnesses were not called to testify, and those that did were not asked important questions. If you can believe it, the HSCA never determined that Anne Dischler was one of Garrison's main investigators of the Clinton/Jackson witnesses.

Aware that Garrison had been fairly criticized for questionable tactics, the committee proceeded cautiously, making sure to determine on its own the credibility of information coming from his probe. The committee found that the Clinton witnesses were credible and significant. They each were interviewed or deposed, or appeared before the committee in executive session. While there were points that could be raised to call into question their credibility, it was the judgment of the committee that they were telling the truth as they knew it.

Telling the truth as they knew it?

If the witnesses were not only truthful but accurate as well in their accounts, they established an association of an undetermined nature between Ferrie, Shaw and Oswald less than 3 months before the assassination.

That is quite an "if," no?

As noted, the committee believed the Clinton witnesses to be telling the truth as they knew it. It was, therefore, inclined to believe that Oswald was in Clinton, La., in late August, early September 1963, and that he was in the company of David Ferrie, if not Clay Shaw.

Robert Blakey reiterated this point in his book, Fatal Hour: (page 194 in the paperback edition)

During the summer of 1963 Clinton was targeted by the Congress of Racial Equality in a voting rights drive, and it was during demonstrations in late August or early September that Oswald came to town, accompanied by two older men, one of whom was Ferrie. While the other might have been Shaw, that was not so clearly established.
The committee was puzzled by Oswald's apparent association with Ferrie, a person whose anti-Castro sentiments were so distant from those of Oswald, the Fair Play for Cuba campaigner. But the relationship with Ferrie may have been significant for more than its anti-Castro aspect, in light of Ferrie's connection with G. Wray Gill and Carlos Marcello.

Unfortunately, the HSCA's investigation was flawed and incomplete. Here is an overview of what they missed:

  • None of the six witnesses deposed by the HSCA (Reeves Morgan, John Manchester, Henry Earl Palmer, Lee McGehee, William Dunn, and Bobbie Dedon) were asked about the political environment of Clinton. No questions were asked about the KKK.

  • Jonathan Blackmer, the HSCA attorney in charge of the Clinton/Jackson witnesses, did not discover that Anne Dischler was one of Garrison's major investigators in Clinton. And so, the HSCA did not have access to her notes and did not take her testimony. Not one of the Clinton witnesses mentioned her name.

  • It does not appear that the HSCA received the files of Jack Rogers which might have been extremely relevant.

  • Blackmer told investigative staff to see if the Trade Mart had leased any vehicles. I can find no evidence of the results of that inquiry and the HSCA final report is silent about the car that was seen in Clinton.

  • Many witnesses were not deposed or interviewed. John Rarick, the Judge in Clinton in 1963, the DA Richard Kilbourne, and the sheriff of the county, Arch Doughty [whom nobody talks about], were not called.

  • There was no attempt to investigate Estes Morgan and his relationship to the witnesses.

  • Andrew Sciambra and other Garrison staffers could also have been deposed.

A very good illustration of the lackluster HSCA investigation is the way they treated Lt. Francis Fruge of the Louisiana State Police. Fruge worked with Anne Dischler investigating the Clinton/Jackson witnesses.

When Fruge was first contacted by the HSCA he was asked very little about Clinton. Here is the only paragraph on Clinton from his outside contact report:

I am not sure why this was so interesting to Fruge. While Dunn did indeed commit suicide, he was hardly a credible witness. Here is a Garrison report about Andrew Dunn. He clearly would not have been helpful to Garrison in a trial:

Jack Ruby was the driver? Banister was in the back seat? And Oswald was not identified.

Not surprisingly, most of Fruge's deposition was about Rose Cherami, but here are the relevant pages about the Clinton/Jackson witnesses:

I don't know what memo Fruge is referencing. He was in Clinton in May 1967 with Anne Dischler interviewing witnesses. Fruge says that "Chambre [sic; Sciambra] has received information that Clay Shaw and David Ferrie and one other unidentified white male had been seen in Clinton ..." Why didn't Blackmer ask him about how Sciambra received that information.

Blackmer asks Fruge if anybody had interviewed these witnesses before he did, and he says, "not that I can remember." No mention of Anne Dischler, and as we have seen in a previous post, Dischler believed that someone did interview some of the witnesses before she got involved.

That's the extent of the questioning of one of the chief investigators that Garrison sent to Clinton and Jackson. Fruge just repeats some base level testimony of the witnesses. Blackmer seems totally uninterested - he doesn't ask Fruge for other documents relevant to Clinton, who else he should interview, no probing of the KKK, and no questions about his dealings with Garrison's office.

I should point out that Blackmer was the attorney who questioned Jim Garrison for several days, and as far as I can tell, never brought up the topic of Clinton.

Previous Relevant Blog Posts about the HSCA and Jonathan Blackmer

Jonathan Blackmer's words are taken out of context by conspiracy theorists.

Garrison sends Jonathan Blackmer a ridiculous memo.

A tape recording of Garrison being interviewed by Jonathan Blackmer of the HSCA.

The Series on the Clinton/Jackson Witnesses

Part One: The witnesses testify at the trial of Clay Shaw.

Part Two: A response to the allegations made by the Clinton/Jackson witnesses.

Part Three: A look at racism and the politics of the early 1960s.

Part Four: Many of the witnesses were either members of the KKK or sympathizers.

Part Five: None of the Clinton/Jackson witnesses came forward in 1963-1964.

Part Six: Just where did the Clinton/Jackson witnesses come from?

Part Seven: Dischler was an investigator for Garrison who was teamed up with Lt. Francis Fruge of the Louisiana State Police.

Part Eight: The evidence that David Ferrie was in Clinton is poor.

Part Nine: Lee McGehee, the barber in Jackson, claimed that the racist newspaper The Councilor wrote about the Clinton/Jackson witnesses in 1966. No one has been able to find the article.

Part Ten: Corrie Collins continually changed his story about what happened in Clinton.

Part Eleven: Reeves Morgan claimed he called the FBI right after the JFK assassination. But did he really?

Part Twelve: Henry Earl Palmer told a ridiculous story about Oswald claiming he was living with a doctor in Jackson.

Part Thirteen: All the physical evidence that could corroborate the Clinton/Jackson witnesses has vanished. I wonder why.

Part Fourteen: Henry Earl Palmer told Andrew Sciambra that Judge John Rarick was there when the black Cadillac visited Clinton. Author Don Carpentered emailed Rarick in 2007 to ask him. His answer is revealing.

Part Fifteen: Corrie Collins identified Estus Morgan as one of the people who exited the black Cadillac to go and register. Winslow Foster might have been the other person in the car.

Part Sixteen: Some witnesses saw other people in Clinton that day; Manchester's poor memory; and a look at whether the Cadillac's registration was checked in Baton Rouge.

Previous Relevant Blog Posts on the Clinton/Jackson Witnesses

Three case studies on how Garrison was less than inquisitive, including the possible check of the Cadillac in Clinton.

Why didn't Garrison check out whether the Trade Mart in New Orleans had leased a Cadillac?

An interview with Weisberg in which he discusses the Clinton witnesses.

Two of the Clinton witnesses claimed they were intimidated. But were they really?

Some background material on Clinton.

William Dunn initially said that Thomas Beckham was with Shaw and Oswald.

Andrew Dunn said Jack Ruby was in Clinton.

None of Garrison's witnesses, including the witnesses from Clinton/Jackson, came forward in 1963 -1964.


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