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  • Fred Litwin

Vernon Bundy's Lie Detector Test

One of Jim Garrison's two witnesses against Clay Shaw at the preliminary hearing in March 1967 was Vernon Bundy, a heroin addict, who claimed he saw Clay Shaw and Oswald on the shore of Lake Pontchartrain.


He was a surprise witness and he had only come forward on the day of the hearing or a day before. There was little time to vet his story. But Bundy was given a lie detector test by Captain James Kruebbe who told Garrison that he wasn't telling the truth. He was still put on the witness stand. You will find none of this in Destiny Betrayed by James DiEugenio.


On November 30, 1993, author Patricia Lambert phoned James Kruebbe and here are some excerpts from their conversation:


Lambert: My name is Pat Lambert. Edward O'Donnell gave me your phone number and suggested I give you a call. I'm from Los Angeles; I'm in New Orleans at the moment. I'm researching the Garrison case and I spoke to Edward O'Donnell when I was down here last time and I have spoken to him since, when I was back in California, and the reason I'm calling you is when I was in the Archives I found an FBI document, a memo that quotes an unnamed party making a variety of statements and one of the statements that this person made to the FBI was that Vernon Bundy -- you know who Vernon Bundy is.


[Note from Fred - that FBI memo is below]


Kruebbe: Sure, sure.


Lambert: That Bundy was given a lie detector test immediately before his testimony at the trial and that he flunked it. Now in the memo it says that Edward O'Donnell gave Bundy the test and Eddie said


Kruebbe: No -- I did.


Lambert: Oh, it was you.


Kruebbe: Yeah.


Lambert: Well Eddie [O'Donnell] said that he didn't but he said if anybody did, you would be the person who did.


Kruebbe: Uh huh. I don't think it was "immediately" before he testified. It was prior to his testimony, yes.


Lambert: Do you have any idea how long prior?


Kruebbe: No.


Lambert: But it was ...


Kruebbe: It was prior to it, yes.


Lambert: It was before he testified at the trial and is it true that he failed it?


Kruebbe: Well, there's no pass or fail. He wasn't telling the truth if that's what you mean.


....


Lambert: But all my spare time is going into it and the thing that has motivated me is the Oliver Stone film which seems to me to be a terrible falsification of history.


Kruebbe: Well, I'll tell you the truth. We were exposed to it a little bit -- we knew a little bit about it and we knew it was a -- you know (he laughs). I went to the Oliver Stone movie with the idea of just being, laughing at it and saying how awful it was and really I got lost in the entertainment value. That's all it has, is entertainment value.


Lambert: The problem that I have with the film is that young people are going to it and coming out thinking they've seen history.


Kruebbe: Right. Well, that particular test was peculiar because it came down to me and I was told to run this man and I was not given the bottom issue. The only issue was in very broad terms. Cause what's the story? Number one did anyone send him? These may not be in the order of one, two, three but basically: was he sent by anyone? Was he telling the truth? Or was he put up to do it? You know. And so then I said well what did he tell you? Well, they wouldn't tell me what he told them. So I had to word questions around it. You know: when you spoke to the District Attorney's office, to Mr. Garrison, did you tell him the complete truth? Did anybody put you up to it? Did anybody suggest that you go to him? Are you doing this for personal gain? It had to be worded around that which is a very nebulous thing to begin with because what are we talking about?


...


Lambert: Who brought him to you -- do you remember that?


Kruebbe: I remember but at this time I'd rather talk to Eddie before I talk to you about it.


Lambert: I have no problem at all about that and I appreciate your being willing to talk to me at all.


Kruebbe: It was a peculiar thing and it was shocking, you know, why they would use this guy; it was ridiculous.


Lambert: Yes. At the time I followed the case and Vernon Bundy's testimony seemed to me to be so unbelievable that you had to wonder why he used him. And one of the things that this FBI report asserts is that Garrison went against the recommendations of his own staff in using Vernon Bundy.


Kruebbe: That sounds correct to me.


...


Kruebbe: That was a travesty -- the Clay Shaw trial.


Lambert: Well, is there anything else about Vernon Bundy's polygraph that you can tell me or that you feel comfortable


Kruebbe: I was not told the information he'd given to Garrison; I was not told that. I was just told to try verify it: was the information true? You know. Did you falsify anything about the information you gave him. Actually it's the same question; it's the basic question that's stretched out: did you tell the truth? And you can't give a polygraph test structured on one thing. What you should do is give a sequence of questions leading up to something. You know it was a hard thing to begin with and when I was told what he had told them, my first response was to laugh. I mean, here's a junkie


Lambert: Oh, you finally were told.


Kruebbe: Yeah.


Lambert: Was that after you'd


Kruebbe: After I'd given him (Garrison) the report. After the test was over and I was upstairs in the district attorney's office and I was finally told what it was. I had to chuckle. Because, you know what junkie is going to go out and shoot up on cocaine on a windy day out at the lakefront. Come on, give me a break. (laughs) I wasn't the only one of that opinion.


Lambert: I always had trouble with Bundy's testimony. You know he got everything into it even Oswald's Fair Play for Cuba leaflet that supposedly fell out of his pocket.


Kruebbe: I wasn't aware of that of it just the part


Lambert: That he was out there shooting up -- yeah, that's bad enough.


Kruebbe: I mean, it's windy out there. You wouldn't go out there anyway.


Lambert: Right. And the test results on the test you did run -- even though you feel it was an inadequate test -- was that he was not telling the truth.


Kruebbe: He was not leveling.


Lambert: He was not leveling.


Kruebbe: No. That's all I simply wanted to tell them -- the man wasn't leveling. No one put him up to it; no one sent him in here. He was doing it of his own accord -- he was looking for something.


Lambert: He was doing it on his own but he wasn't tell the truth.


Kruebbe: Yeah, but he was looking for something. -- he was looking for OUT. [note from Fred - Bundy had just been jailed for violation of probation; he was released after this testimony.]


Lambert: Sure. And did you tell Jim Garrison that?


Kruebbe: Sure.


Patricia Lambert spoke again to James Kruebbe on December 2, 1993:


Kruebbe: We were talking before with reference to who was present when I gave Garrison the report.


Lambert: Right. The verbal briefing.


Kruebbe: There were three people present. Two of whom I remember. I can't put a face on the third one. Do you want them? If you want them I'll give them to you.


Lambert: Yes. If you don't mind.


Kruebbe: One is Charles Ward. W-A-R-D. You probably have that name already.


Lambert: Well, I know of him.


Kruebbe: He was an assistant district attorney.


Lambert: Right. He's been on my list. Isn't he a judge?


Kruebbe: That's right. He's an appeals court judge. An appellate judge. He was the gentleman who came down to get me to run the polygraph examination.


Lambert: So it was Charles Ward who brought Bundy to you.


Kruebbe: Right.


Lambert: I see. Okay.


Kruebbe: It was just done in -- it was somewhat of a cryptic way you know. "I can't tell you what he told us; just want to know if he's telling the truth; if anybody sent him -- if anybody put him up to it." You know. So it was an awkward examination because what I'm talking about, I have to impress upon the person, Bundy, that what I'm really talking about when I'm asking you these questions, really what I'm talking about is that which you may have told Garrison. Was that the truth" You know.


Lambert: Right.


Kruebbe: The questions were revolving around that and also whether or not anybody put him up to it. And that was a big concern apparently. I guess they were thinking that Panzeca [one of Shaw's defense attorneys] or the lead counsel for the defense put him up to it; I don't know.


Lambert: Really?


Kruebbe: Well, I don't know but why would they ask the question? Nobody verbalized that -- it just my thoughts.


Lambert: It's implied by the question.


Kruebbe: It's implied by the question.


Lambert: Right.


Kruebbe: And he was present when the results were given.


Lambert: Charles Ward?


Kruebbe: Uh huh. And the other man: Alcock.


Lambert: James Alcock.


Kruebbe: He was the prosecutor.


Lambert: Right. That's very interesting. And do you remember what Garrison's reaction was then you told him?


Kruebbe: I can give you the essence of it; obviously I don't remember what they said. When I gave the report, all three of them -- the third person, I can't remember who it was -- I can't put a face on him -- it seemed like they all chimed in: "We told you so" -- you know?


Lambert: Ah hah. So the staff had already been


Kruebbe: Yeah. They had already taken a position: this is trash, you know, you don't fool with it.


Lambert: Right.


Kruebbe: And his [Garrison's] reaction was: "We didn't put him up to it -- let the jury decide."


Lambert: So, in other words -- use him.


Kruebbe: They used him.


Lambert: But I meant at that moment that's what he was saying.


Kruebbe: Right. That they were going to use him? Absolutely. Because the staff members were saying, you know,


Lambert: "We told you so."


Kruebbe: In essence saying, "we told you so." I can't remember what the verbiage was but they weren't impressed by his [Bundy's] credibility.


Lambert: Right. And who would be?


Kruebbe: But obviously the people who were involved in the prosecution. they were dictated the plan of action by Garrison.


Lambert: Of course.


There was another conversation the next day, December 3, 1993.


Kruebbe: I wanted to call you up to correct one inaccuracy in what I gave you.


Lambert: Okay.


Kruebbe: I found my work memorandum to Garrison.


Lambert: So you did write something on this.


Kruebbe: Yeah. But this is just a work copy. So ... okay. Here we go. It was on March 18, 1967.


Lambert: March 18, `1967


Kruebbe: Around noon. Okay. It says, "Around noon Charles Ward requested a polygraph examination be given to Vernon Bundy as he may be used in connection with a court appearance on that date." Well, the record would verify that.


Lambert: Then it was the date he testified.


Kruebbe: I was told that he "may be used in connection with a court appearance on that date."


Lambert: Right.


Kruebbe: And again, it's just "certain information, certain information " (he seemed to be scanning the memorandum and here I think he was referring to the language used by Ward in referring to Bundy's story, i.e., instead of telling Kruebbe what it was, Ward referred to it as "certain information") Oh, this is the part that I wanted to tell you about. My misinformation was that I did not learn it [Bundy's statement] from Garrison. I think I learned it from the newspaper. Let me read this once real fast and I'll be able to


Lambert: Sure -- that's all right.


Kruebbe: Yeah. [Reading:] There was a discussion between Garrison and Ward and Alcock relative to the use of the witness [indecipherable] attorneys discussion of strategy, i.e. if Bundy's {?} testimony was required at the time to {establish} probable cause. They thought he wasn't necessary. {stops reading} So that was a difference of opinion as to whether or not they should use him. Apparently Garrison thought they would. But I don't think I was told what went on. In fact, it's only a two-page thing. {laughs, sounds nervous} Oh, here it is, yeah. "I was not given the benefit of this certain information." Here it is. "Mr. Ward conveyed that the D.A.'s office was primarily interested in learning if Bundy was a plant encouraged by the defense or if he was coming forward on his own. He indicated that Bundy had given certain information as to Garrison, certain information [indecipherable]. I was not given the benefit of this certain information; in fact, only learned of this certain information in the local press. That certain information related to alleged actions by Mr. Clay Shaw and Lee Harvey Oswald."


Lambert: So the change in what you told me is that you weren't told by the DA or his staff what Bundy's testimony was even after the test -- you got it from the press. Well, that isn't really germane to the main point which is ...


Kruebbe: But if you're going to use any part of the information, I wish you'd correct that.


Lambert: Oh absolutely. What I'm saying is that it's a minor thing but I appreciate your calling it to my attention. Is there any possibility -- would you feel comfortable letting me have a copy of that report?


Kruebbe: I don't think so, ma'am. Because this was a report given to him and although I shared a lot of it with you ... I don't think .. this is a work report .. it's not the final finished product


Kruebbe tells Lambert that he "just sat down at a typewriter and I typed double-spaced two pages," and added the date March 18. 1967 in pen. Lambert inserted a note after the transcript:

"This is incorrect. The 18th was a Saturday and Bundy testified the day before, on Friday 3/17/67. So, this penciled date must be one of two things: 1) the date that Kruebbe typed the report; or 2) he typed the report, as he suggested, two or three days later and this penciled date is a guess on his part as to the date of the polygraph. We know Bundy came forward and volunteered his services AFTER the Preliminary Hearing began on March 14 and ran 15,16 & 17. That means the polygraph occurred sometime between March 14 and March 17, the day he testified.

Kruebbe was adamant during the interview that Bundy's polygraph "pre-dated his testimony."


During the Christenberry hearings in January 1971, Jim Garrison was called to testify, and he was asked about Vernon Bundy:


Edward O'Donnell was also called to the stand, and he was asked about Vernon Bundy:




Here is the FBI report that Lambert mentions in her conversation with James Kruebbe:













Here is another version of this memo without the redactions:







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