Following the publication of William Davy's Let Justice Be Done (Reston, Virginia: Jordan, 1999), I posted a review of the book, entitled "Davy Disappoints," explaining why I believed the book failed to live up to the promise of its subtitle, "New Light on the Jim Garrison Investigation."
It is always gratifying when a scholar the caliber of a William Davy deems my opinion worthy of comment, and it turned out that a response from Mr. Davy was soon forthcoming. It was published in Probe, the journal of Citizens for Truth in the Kennedy Assassination, Vol. 7, No. 1, Nov-Dec, 1999, where it occupies nearly five pages.
Probe's editors, Lisa Pease and James DiEugenio, introduced Davy's response in this fashion:
Bill Davy turns the tables on Dave Reitzes, an Internet propagandist for the lone nut theory [actually, as Mr. Davy himself notes more than once in his rebuttal, I was at this time rather outspoken in my belief that a conspiracy had taken John F. Kennedy's life], who wrote a "review" of Davy's recent (and excellent) book, Let Justice Be Done. Davy shows how the "facts" in Reitzes' piece are anything but, and sets Reitzes' rhetoric ablaze.
Curiously, the editors fail to mention CTKA's role in the publication of Davy's monograph, Through the Looking Glass, upon which Let Justice Be Done is based, or that James DiEugenio wrote the introduction to both publications. Coupled with the fact that Davy is a frequent contributor to Probe, sometimes in collaboration with James DiEugenio, these omissions could serve to raise some doubts about Pease and DiEugenio's objectivity in the mind of an impartial observer.
At any rate, while Davy's piece did alert me to a factual inaccuracy or two in my review, generally it only tended to affirm my impression that those who cannot argue their convictions from the evidence must often resort to personal attacks and evasions in the face of criticism.
Nevertheless, Probe has posted Mr. Davy's response in two separate locations at their Web site, and it has raised a few questions among Internet-savvy researchers of the John F. Kennedy assassination. So I shall respond, though not in the pages of Probe or at the CTKA Web site, as Pease and DiEugenio, those truth-seeking editors of Probe, have (surprise!) refused to grant me "equal time" at either venue. (Davy's rebuttal also omitted mention of my review's URL. Apparently, where Davy, Pease and DiEugenio are concerned, the quest for "the truth" involves the exclusion of all views other than their own.)
Unlike Mr. Davy's rebuttal, however, which omitted discussion of numerous seemingly significant points in my review, my response quotes Davy's text in its entirety. The quotations from Davy are italicized; quotes from other sources are not.
"DAVY DISAPPOINTS" - A REBUTTAL
by Bill Davy
I have to admit I was initially reluctant to respond to this "review" of my book for several reasons. First and foremost, I am averse to feeding into the divide-and-conquer strategy so prominently played out among the critics for so long -- a tactic that is ultimately counter-productive.
This is quite admirable of Mr. Davy.
Second, I had never heard of the author of this "critique," Dave Reitzes, and information subsequently provided to me by colleagues who regularly check the Internet has done little to assign Reitzes even a modicum of credibility. And finally, Reitzes habitually haunts something called the alt.conspiracy.jfk newsgroup on the Internet and his "review" appeared on a Web site run by someone called John McAdams. Given that the combined readership of these two electronic forums probably rivals that of the Eskimo population of Miami Beach, I was even more disinclined to respond.
Actually, were Probe to release its circulation figures, I believe it would be shown that more people visit John McAdams' Web site alone during the average week than possess a year's subscription to Probe. But that is neither here nor there.
But having waded through Reitzes' abundant medley of errors and distortions, I felt some response was warranted.
Reitzes titles his "review", Davy Disappoints. One thing I can say for Mr. Reitzes is that he does not. In fact he is quite predictable. He begins by complaining that, less the front and back matter, my book is "a skimpy 204 pages." (He chose not to include the Endnotes section in his count which runs for another 36 pages, but that's OK). Of these 204 pages, Reitzes writes, "approximately 27 are blank." It is a standard publishing convention to leave the verso page blank if the chapter ends on the recto page. But the mind boggles at Reitzes' command of the intricacies of mathematics. Of the 204 pages Reitzes mentions, only 8 chapters end on the recto page for a grand total of (Can you grasp this Mr. Reitzes?) 8 blank pages. Not 27.
I would be happy to present documentation in support of my assertion (for example, pages 33, 34, 43, 44, 56, 68, 69, 70, 74, 118, 168, and 190 are blank or nearly blank; and pages 1, 2, 3, 10, 11, 20, 21, 35, 45, 55, 57, 67, 71, 75, 83, 94, 95, 100, 101, 117, 119, 167, 169, and 191 are all approximately half blank), but I would prefer that Mr. Davy first address the more substantial issues raised in my review. Let's see if he does.
But it's a ludicrous argument anyway.
It's worse than that. It is a pitiful, laughable, insulting argument, wholly unworthy of mention among responsible adults. One can hardly fathom why Mr. Davy spends several paragraphs of his piece responding to such gibberish.
Look at some of the literature that has been published on the assassination and related events. Phil Melanson's Spy Saga is 149 pages (I won't count footnotes or front and back matter since Reitzes seems to be averse to this). Trumbull Higgins' volume on the Bay of Pigs, The Perfect Failure is 176 pages. James and Wardlaw's Plot or Politics? is 167 pages. And Peter Dale Scott's Crime and Cover-Up weighs in at a mere 49 pages. Yet would anyone deny the contributions made by these slim volumes?
Why not? Pretty marginal stuff, if you ask me. In fairness, however, Robert Morrow's 239-page Betrayal (New York: Warner Books, 1976) is a novel of admirable brevity, and no more or less grounded in reality than William Davy's relatively bloated affair. One has to wonder, in fact, why Davy's book omits mention of Morrow's imaginative pro-Garrison yarns, unlike, say, James DiEugenio's revisionist tract, Destiny Betrayed, in which Morrow serves as nothing less than a key source.
On the other hand, one gets weighed down by the gross tonnage of Harrison Livingstone's, often incomprehensible, output.
Mr. Davy is attacking Mr. Livingstone because I have praised aspects of Livingstone's High Treason 2 and Killing the Truth, though not in the article to which Mr. Davy is purportedly responding. Surely, however, Mr. Livingstone's contribution to the field of JFK assassination research requires no defense from the likes of me.
Apparently, Mr. Reitzes hasn't grasped the concept of quality over quantity.
Unfortunately, the problem may well be that Mr. Reitzes does grasp the concept. Were the quality of Davy's book more satisfying, I suspect one would feel little need to warn the consumer about the mere quantity of new information he or she can expect for their $14.95.
As those who read my review know, the quality of Mr. Davy's information is something I did indeed discuss, and Davy conveniently omits mention of a number of the points I raised.
For example, Mr. Davy states that, two months prior to the assassination, Garrison suspect David Ferrie made a long distance phone call "to the apartment complex of a Jean West in Chicago." Jean Aase, aka West, would be introduced to Jack Ruby on November 21, 1963; thus, Mr. Davy would like us to believe that this phone call to Chicago is evidence of a Ferrie-Ruby acquaintance. (Davy, p. 46.) Even as cautiously as Davy phrases this allegation, however (I didn't say Ferrie actually called Jean West herself, now did I, Mr. Reitzes?), there is no evidence whatsoever that Ferrie made this phone call at all.
Mr. Davy notes that Ferrie friend Layton Martens "relayed a message that Ferrie's library card was found among Oswald's effects" following the accused assassin's arrest. (Davy, p. 46.) Again, as carefully as Davy phrases such a contentious matter as this (I didn't say Ferrie's library card actually WAS found among Oswald's effects, did I, Mr. Reitzes?), Davy neglects to inform the reader where the library card rumor originated -- in the imagination of lovable sociopath -- and crucial Garrison witness -- Jack Martin.
Davy devotes three pages of his tract to the possibility that a purported flight plan is evidence that Clay Shaw knew Lee Harvey Oswald and Dave Ferrie. (Davy, pp. 90-93.) Davy doesn't bother to inform his reader that on the date -- April 6, 1963 -- that a Mr. "Lambert" (purportedly Clay Shaw) and a Mr. "Hidell" (purportedly Oswald) supposedly flew with David Ferrie from Hammond, Louisiana to Garland, Texas, Lee Harvey Oswald actually reported to his job at the Jaggars-Chiles-Stovall company in Dallas, where he was fired that very day. (Warren Commission Report, p. 794.)
Mr. Davy relates a hearsay account from a Garrison informant to bolster suspicions that Clay Shaw "was a CIA agent who had done work, of an unspecified nature, over a five year span in Italy." (Davy, p. 100.) He doesn't bother to inform the reader that internal CIA memoranda, released under the Freedom of Information Act, indicate that not only was Shaw never a CIA agent, but that he hadn't even been in Italy.
(I never said he WAS, did I, Mr. Reitzes? FBI AGENT REGIS KENNEDY did! No, Mr. Davy, a Garrison informant, Betty Parrott, made that claim, and it has never been substantiated in any way. How exactly would an FBI agent come to have access to such information anyway, Mr. Davy? Aren't you aware that all the evidence suggests that the source of the "Shaw in Italy" rumors -- a disreputable, crypto-Communist tabloid called Paese Sera -- just invented the story out of whole cloth, as it often did with anti-American, specifically anti-CIA stories it printed? Or do you have evidence to support this fable, evidence you somehow neglected to include in your book?)
Reitzes dazzles us further with his mastery of math . . .
Still on the math, are we? I seem to have struck a nerve.
. . . by writing this bizarre calculation, "Davy provides us with an estimated 5 1/2 chapters of new information, or and estimated 67.1 pages (177 divided by 14 chapters total times 5 1/2 chapters). By my estimation, then, only about a fifth of Davy's book produces the promised new information, while about four-fifths provide what Davy calls context." Allow me to correct this bit of misinformation. Of the over 700 citations in the Endnotes section, approximately 425 of them have (to the best of my knowledge) never been published in print before. This includes many documents from the intelligence agencies, the HSCA, Garrison's files (culled from numerous sources), interviews, and miscellaneous other collections. This doesn't take into account the hard-to-find books and manuscripts I cite including William Turner's unpublished manuscript, The Garrison Investigation, Arthur Carpenter's Ph.D. dissertation, Gateway to the Americas, and rare books such as Menshikov's Millionaires and Managers and Scheflin and Opton's, The Mind Manipulators. Not even counting those volumes the amount of new material is roughly 64%.
Let's look at just one example of the good use to which Mr. Davy puts such unpublished sources. Though there may be another citation or two I'm missing, I notice exactly one reference to William Turner's unpublished manuscript in the endnotes. This relates to Davy's infelicitous attempt to redeem the testimony of Perry Raymond Russo, which Mr. Russo himself admitted on several occasions was nothing but perjury from start to finish.
Curiously missing from [James] Phelan's Post article, entitled "Rush to Judgment in New Orleans," was the visit Phelan paid to Russo in Baton Rouge shortly after the [Sciambra] memorandum "controversy." At that meeting Russo confirmed to Phelan that he had indeed told Sciambra about the Bertrand/Ferrie/Oswald assassination conversation and that he had ID'ed Shaw as Bertrand. When questioned on this crucial omission by Mark Lane, Phelan weakly complained that he was bucking a tight deadline and that naturally a point or two may have been lost. As Lane quipped, "It was a Rush to Judgment in New York."
The endnotes indicate the source for this passage: "William Turner, The Garrison Investigation (Unpublished manucript), 1968, p. 52." (Davy. p. 303 fns. 10-11.)
First of all, let's consult James Phelan's own version of his meeting with Russo in Baton Rouge:
Boy, that's quite a different story than the one told by William Turner, isn't it? How come Bill Davy doesn't give even the slightest indication that there is another side to this story? And how come Davy is ridiculing James Phelan for his alleged omission, when by Davy's account, his own witness, Andrew Sciambra, left Russo's entire assassination plot out of a memorandum he drafted that was ostensibly on the subject of Russo's alleged assassination plot!The two things [Jim Garrison] gave me were the memorandum of [assistant DA Andrew] Sciambra's when he first interviewed Russo in Baton Rouge and the second one was a transcript of Russo's answers when he was hypnotized by Dr. Fatter.
Russo tells two different stories. Up in Baton Rouge he, one, doesn't say anything about knowing Clay Shaw as Clem Bertrand, two, he says nothing about Shaw knowing Oswald and, three, he says nothing about Shaw and the party at which the assassination talk supposedly -- he doesn't mention the assassination! So I took them back and I read them and I read them and read them and read them. I kept reading them, thinking I've missed something here. I read each one of them very carefully about three or four times and then I realized how they had procured Perry Russo. Either he was a born liar or a suggestible witness. One or the other. Most important, he hadn't had anything at all of any incriminating nature when he appeared and then he was processed into this other thing.
Then I attend the preliminary hearing and I sit there and listen to Russo tell this marvelously detailed story about the party that he'd not mentioned when he first appeared as a witness. The following day I called Garrison at his home and told him there something deeply troubling me and he said, "Come out here and tell me about it." I went out to his house and he was there with his wife and children and shortly after I got there Bill Gurvich and his wife came out and I told Garrison that -- I said, "How come Perry Russo told two different stories? How come when he first appeared he did not identify Shaw as Bertrand, he did not say Shaw knew Oswald, and he said nothing at all about an assassination plot at any party." His mouth kind of dropped open and he said, "He didn't?" At that point I realized Garrison had not read the memos he'd given me. He said, "Well, I'll have to get Moo-Moo [Sciambra] out here and explain it."
Sciambra comes out there -- they shoo the women out of the room -- and sat down and Garrison said, "Okay, tell him your problem." I did, and Sciambra came back at me real hard and said, "Mister, you don't know what the shit you're talking about!" I said, "Look, I've got some bad news for you, Moo." I said, "I've read your memo, I've got a copy of your memorandum, and I've read it six, seven, eight times. I can almost recite it from memory and there ain't nothing in there about the assassination plot. I'll tell you how sure I am." I said, "I'll make a deal with you. If that memo isn't the way I've described it, I'll resign from the Saturday Evening Post tomorrow -- if it is the way I described you, you resign from the DA's office tomorrow. We'll shake hands and then read the memo and tomorrow one of us is going to be out of work." At that point he immediately backed off, like that [Phelan snapped his fingers]. I said, "Jim, get a copy of the memo" -- because I'd left mine in the safe down at the hotel -- so Garrison is rummaging around in the drawer alongside his desk trying to find the memo.
Then Sciambra changed his story. Now he says, Well, he wrote the memo in a big hurry and he said maybe he forgot to put in about the assassination plot. And I told him to come down off the wall! I said, "Come on, now, you found a witness to the crime of the century and you come down and write a 3,500-word memo and leave the crime out of it -- put in all this other chicken-shit stuff -- but you leave the crime out!" I said, "Nobody can be that stupid. . . . Besides, this hypnosis transcript shows how the thing was pulled out of him." So we ding-donged it back and forth and Gurvich sat there and never said a word, over in the corner. I said, "You know the thing that really hangs me up is that you said Russo said he saw the man [Clay Shaw] twice and named the two times, once on the Nashville Wharf and once in a car with David Ferrie. So if he told you about the party you not only had to forget to leave out about the party but you also had to change the number of times to conform with what you told here, and that won't work." Sciambra was pretty hostile. We broke up and nobody was very friendly with anybody else. I said, "I'll call a cab and go back." And Gurvich says, "No, I'm going back to town, I'll drive you back."
I get in the car with Gurvich, who was his chief investigator, and this thing made a terrible impact on him. He said, "Man, you have just blown up the only witness we've got." He said, "I'll never forget Sciambra sitting there lying to you." He said, "This little son of a bitch, this [memo] was his little magnum opus and he sits there telling you he had a half-dozen other things to do. This was the one big thing that this little SOB did and he sat there saying, "Maybe I forgot!" Gurvich said, "Man, he worked that memo over and polished it and repolished it." Gurvich was terribly upset.
I went over to the [District Attorney's] office in the afternoon, I looked up Sciambra and said, "Look, we can resolve this thing very simply. If he told you about the three missing points, particularly about the assassination plot," I said, "you made notes up there, just show me your original notes and if you can show me where it is in your notes -- then I'll agree you forgot it and didn't put it down in your memo." He told me he'd burned his notes, didn't have them. I said I wanted to talk to Russo. Sciambra said Russo wouldn't talk to anybody without their permission. I said, "Well, call him up and tell him I'm coming to talk to him." He made a call in my presence but was unable to get Russo. I called Sciambra later on in the day and he said he'd been able to reach Russo and he'd see me if I came up there. I said, "Did you tell him what the problem was?" And he said, "Yes, I told him." I said, "Well, that's a dumb thing to do -- you tip off a guy who's screwed up his testimony how he screwed up and he's got a lot of time to think up an answer." I raised this point with Garrison. I said, "For Christ's sake, Sciambra told him what's wrong!" Garrison said, "Well, why bother to go up?" But I decided to go. I thought it was a futile trip and in all probability Moo -- well, Moo probably didn't really understand how he screwed up so he probably couldn't explain it to Perry -- and I went up with Matt Herron, who was a photographer with the Post.
I told Russo, "Look, I got a copy of the memo Sciambra wrote about the interview with you and I'm going to use it for the article in the Saturday Evening Post. I want you to read it and tell me whether it's an accurate account of your interview with Sciambra."
So Russo sat down there and read that thing line by line and made two or three corrections on it. And none of them had to do with Shaw. They were just peripheral matters. I had underlined the statement where Sciambra had written, "I then showed him a picture of Clay Shaw and Russo said he'd seen this man twice." I had a ballpoint pen and when I'd read it I'd underlined that because that to me was the key to the whole thing. So it was the only thing underlined in the whole memo. When Russo got down to it, he said, "Well, I should have said three times, counting the party. I'm usually pretty careful about what I say, but maybe I only said two times." Then he shrugged and went on and finished the memo. I said, "Other than the corrections you've made, is this an accurate account of what you told Sciambra?" He said, "Well, we talked for a long time, talked about a lot of different things." And I said, "No, I mean in terms of this case and what you knew about it." He said, "Yes." I said, "Then you first mentioned the assassination plot and the party when?" He said, "Down in New Orleans."
At that point, I'd verified the whole thing. I was so astonished actually that he'd say this, especially after Sciambra had called him. I couldn't believe it. As soon as we got out in the car I said to Matt Herron, "Did you hear that?" He said, "Yeah." I said, "Burn it in your head, kid. I mean, right now, burn it in your head because someday you're going to be in court on this and I'm going to have to tell this story and you're my witness."
That alleged omission doesn't bother Davy at all. Davy isn't even bothered by the fact on the date when his witness, Mr. Sciambra, says he completed this alleged "second memorandum" -- the one that allegedly explains Sciambra's apparent confusion -- Jim Garrison already had a copy of it in Las Vegas and was sharing it with James Phelan.
I suppose Davy would like us all to believe that Life editor -- and longtime Garrison supporter -- Richard Billings was simply lying when he jotted down in his contemporaneous notes that Andrew Sciambra mentioned nothing about any assassination plot when he briefed Jim Garrison on his interview with Russo, and that Russo admitted to both Billings and Garrison -- after discussing "Bertrand" under hypnosis -- that he didn't know anyone by that name. Russo certainly had not discussed Clay Shaw, "Clem Bertrand" or Lee Harvey Oswald during any of his numerous interviews with the media prior to his interview with Sciambra.
And now for the punchline. William Davy would like his reader to believe that Mark Lane supports Perry Russo's story. But does he?
Russo's story hinges on the allegation that Clay Shaw was supposedly introduced to him as "Clem Bertrand" (a claim that first arose while Russo was under hypnosis).
Yet in a 1992 foreword to Rush to Judgment, Mark Lane writes, "Was 'Bertrand' really Clay Shaw, Garrison wondered. Shaw consistently denied that he had ever used that pseudonym. I never saw credible evidence which convinced me that he had ever used the alias."
One hopes that the rest of Mr. Turner's unpublished manuscript dwells a little closer to reality than the passage singled out for citation by Mr. Davy. Without both Turner and Lane, as I have written previously, Jim Garrison could not have succeeded to as great an extent as he did in deceiving the research community all these years.
Davy's rebuttal continues:
Back when I went to school 1/5 did not equal 64%, Mr. Reitzes. His convoluted formulas cause Reitzes to ponder; "One wonders what [Lisa] Pease makes of Bill Davy's math." Better yet, one wonders what the reader will now make of your math, Mr. Reitzes.
While I have few illusions about the relative luminescence of either my mathematical abilities or my skills in the forensic arts, Mr. Davy isn't being entirely fair. By removing several statements of mine from their original context, Mr. Davy manages to do a disservice to even these abysmal artifacts of a stunted mind.
In his preface, Davy assures the reader, "I have tried to use as much new information as possible and have only fallen back on previous research where necessary in order to provide context" (Davy, xxiii).
In that case, Davy's book has an awful lot of context.
Let Justice Be Done weighs in at 341 pages. Subtract the afterword and appendices, which Davy did not write and do not provide new information, and the endnotes [Any reason we should not exclude these from our count?], index, and miscellaneous front matter, and we're left with a skimpy 204 pages, approximately 27 of which are blank.
Flipping through the book page by page, one finds that only two of its fourteen chapters (Chapter 3 and Chapter 9) are based primarily on new information. Chapters 2, 4 and 5 contain virtually no new information at all, while I would estimate the remainder to consist of roughly half new information and half prior research. Therefore, Davy provides us with an estimated 5 1/2 chapters of new information, or an estimated 67.1 pages (177 divided by 14 chapters total times 5 1/2 chapters).
By my estimation, then, only about a fifth of Davy's book produces the promised new information, while around four-fifths provide what Davy calls context.
Granted, this "argument" of mine is garbage that would be honored even by the designation of "trivia," but there was a point to it. I wrote:
As mind-numbingly infantile as my "criticism" is, it is, at least, based on an actual remark of Ms. Pease's. Back in December 1998, when Ms. Pease was criticizing my views at alt.conspiracy.jfk as "utter bullshit" that could only be the product of a liar, a disinformationist, and a "spook posing as researcher" ("Who pays you to post here?" Mr. Davy's friend wrote), I noted that I eagerly awaited Ms. Pease's rebuttal to my post, Who Speaks for Clay Shaw?" -- my first, and, I assumed at that time, last article dealing with the Garrison fraud. Pease responded, "You may as well await my rebuttal to your post 'Two + Two = Three.'" "I've never found much point in arguing with people who can't (or won't) deal in reality," she continued.Curiously, Lisa Pease, who has published Davy's work in Probe and praised him in newsgroup posts, likes to state that she would no sooner debate one of Garrison's critics than someone who posits the equation 2 + 2 = 3. One wonders what Pease makes of Bill Davy's math.
Six months later, when I again noted Ms. Pease's refusal to debate with me the evidence concerning her hero, Jim Garrison, she responded, "Would anyone here debate someone who keeps refusing to admit that 2+2=4, and insists instead that 2+2=17?"
But perhaps we can turn to more substantial matters.
Reitzes continues his "review" by acknowledging that the longest chapter in my book is the chapter dealing with the concerted efforts of the media and the intelligence agencies to spread disinformation about Garrison and subvert due process.
Unsurprisingly, Mr. Davy fails to even acknowledge the possibility that the media response to Jim Garrison's statements and actions were based on legitimate concerns with his methods -- such as his staff's alleged use of bribery and intimidation as means of coercing witnesses, or his use of sodium Pentothal and hypnosis to "objectify" testimony.
This chapter is indeed the longest because of the massive amount of supporting documentation affirming the attacks. Reitzes finds this all irrelevant contending that the reason Garrison lost his case "would hardly seem to be related to any alleged resistance from the CIA and/or the media." His conclusion doesn't surprise me since I doubt that he has studied any of the documents I cite.
This strikes me as an awfully odd thing for Mr. Davy to say. What was Davy's purpose in writing this chapter if not to inform the reader of what these documents say? If Mr. Davy would care to post these documents online, I would be happy to study them. But I was under the impression that Davy would adequately summarize their most salient points in the book of his I purchased. Otherwise, one might ask, why bother writing the book in the first place?
Also, despite the liberal use of "context" in Mr. Davy's work, he again has denied me some of my own. Despite Mr. Davy's denial that the issue of "quality" ever arises in my review of his book, I asked:
As intellectually impoverished as this observation is, it's unfortunate Mr. Davy couldn't bring himself to address it, rather than grumbling that I haven't "studied any of the documents" he cites. After all, it really isn't my responsibility to validate Mr. Davy's thesis, is it?How valuable is the 67.1 pages of new information Davy provides?
Here's a hint: The longest chapter by far, at 50 pages, is Chapter 12, "Fourth Estate or Fourth Reich: The CIA/Media Attack on Jim Garrison." (The chapters average 13.1 pages; the second-longest chapter, that dealing with the Shaw trial, is 22 pages.)
So Davy is telling us, before we've even started the book, that the vast majority of the new information he's developed concerns what he calls "the CIA/media attacks" on Garrison, and not evidence supporting or affirming Garrison's 1969 case, a case the DA lost badly, for reasons that would hardly seem to be related to any alleged resistance from the CIA and/or the media. [Big Jim, did, after all, have the opportunity to present all the evidence with which he had obtained Shaw's indictment, plus a fair amount of new information, such as the testimony of Charles Spisel and the Clinton/Jackson witnesses.] (After a 28-month investigation and a month-long trial, the jury acquitted in 54 minutes.)
It is not the critic's place, of course, to tell an author how to compose his manuscript. But one would think Mr. Davy would be receptive to such an obvious criticism of his work as the absolute dearth of evidence, old or new, implicating any of Jim Garrison's suspects in John F. Kennedy's death, not to mention Davy's unseemly focus on making excuses for a prosecutor who indicted a respected New Orleans businessman and civic leader for one of the most heinous crimes imaginable on no evidence whatsoever but the unsupported claims "made by a single witness while he was in a drugged and semi-conscious condition," as Patricia Lambert concisely summarizes the matter in False Witness (New York: M. Evans & Co., 1998), p. 9, and helped drive another man to an early grave, again on no evidence whatsoever.
If Davy cannot demonstrate that Jim Garrison ever had a legitimate case against anybody to be wrecked, how can he expect anyone to believe that it was in fact necessary for the Secret Team to wreck it -- much less that any such case was actually wrecked? Isn't this a rather obvious case of putting the cart before the horse?
Later Reitzes asks incredulously why haven't I read his Internet masterpiece, Who Speaks For Clay Shaw? I know this might be a little difficult for someone like Reitzes to understand, but not everybody spends their life on the Internet.
Davy is not being especially accurate in his representation of my review. I wrote:
Granted, if one does not spend "their life on the Internet," one cannot be humanly expected to read an article posted there and take note of its contents, before or after publishing misinformation debunked therein. Such a task would reduce even Sisyphus to tears, and Davy is right to rebuke me for suggesting such a thing.And what does the remainder of Davy's "new information" consist of? Almost entirely information from Garrison's files that was clearly not credible enough for Garrison to use in the first place, plus a few hearsay items of dubious value. Oddly enough, a number of Davy's "new" items have already been debunked on-line, in an article of mine called "Who Speaks for Clay Shaw?" Has no one pointed this out to Davy? Or, if he disagrees, why does he not explain his reasoning?
I must confess, however, that were his role and my own reversed, I doubt that anyone would be able to restrain me from demolishing the "evidence" advanced against the wisdom of Jim Garrison. But Mr. Davy does not feel this way at all, and I respect his position.
This concept [that of someone not spending his or her life on the Internet] is obviously foreign to someone who apparently spends all of his waking hours on-line. Consider the following usenet post from Jim Hargrove, dated January 10, 1999:
"According to the results a DejaNews "power Search," posts made to alt.conspiracy.jfk by Dave Reitzes as email@example.com totalled [sic] "about 15,000." Posts made by Dave Reitzes as ERXF03A@prodigy.com SINCE JUST BEFORE LAST CHRISTMAS totalled [sic] "about 14,000" posts. Since DejaNews breaks up long posts and counts then as multiple instances, these numbers are too high. Nevertheless, they are astronomical, and represent abuse of Usenet." [Emphasis in original]
"But don't take my word for it. There is a long-established newsgroup devoted to the very topic of spamming and net abuse, and Dave Reitzes is a real fixture there. In just the last two months of 1998, his name appears on 19 different news.admin.net-abuse hit lists."
"Switching over to Prodigy on the account of "Marc Reitzes," Dave Reitzes has also been fingered by news.admin.net-abuse three times since last Christmas."
Net abuse, as I learned from these posts of Mr. Hargrove's, is the posting of more messages to Usenet groups than is considered reasonable or proper.
Two months later, Reitzes was still at it, causing David Lifton to comment in a March 10, 1999 post that Reitzes is: "Completely divorced from reality, and, according to DejaNews, posting over 5,000 posts this year (that's right, 5,000 posts)"
These observations, obviously, fill me with shame, so much so that I almost fail to notice that Davy is resorting to personal attacks against his critic in lieu of evidence with which to bolster his book's thesis. Nevertheless, allow me to offer a typically meager response to the good-natured characterization of myself as "Completely divorced from reality," by David Lifton, respected author of Best Evidence.
Mr. Lifton writes:
There is no getting around the issue -- I, David Reitzes, made an erroneous statement when I posted the claim that Harrison Livingstone was present for the Assassination Records Review Board's deposition of Drs. James J. Humes, J. Thornton Boswell and Pierre Finck. Because of this, I will forevermore have to acknowledge that serious doubt exists about precisely "what reality" I inhabit, and I have no one but myself to blame.For starters: In a recent post, Dave Reitz [sic]---attempting to push the credibility of Harry Livingstone--- makes the preposterous assertion about Livingstone's relationship to the ARRB:
"Livingstone was present when the autopsy pathologists were questioned. Was Lifton?"
This is completely false and total nonsense. Harrison Livingstone was not present when the autopsy pathologists were questioned, and if Reitzes ever made such a statement in the presence of any board member or staffer of the ARRB, their eyes would just roll up towards the ceiling and they would probably wonder what reality Reitzes inhabits.
This assertion that Livingstone was present when the autopsy doctors were questioned is a "fact" only in the fevered imagination of Mr. Dave Reitzes.
Mr. Livingstone's alleged presence at these ARRB depositions was not precisely a product of my "fevered imagination," however. I had read that Mr. Livingstone was present in researcher Tim Smith's article, "Humes: 1964, 1978 and Now." (JFK/Deep Politics Quarterly, Vol. 4, No. 1, October 1998, p. 24.) Author Smith and editor Walt Brown retracted the error at a later date (Walt Brown, "Errata," JFK/Deep Politics Quarterly, Vol. 4, No. 4, July 1999, p. 39), but too late to conceal the deranged nature of my psyche. I have corresponded with both Tim Smith and Walt Brown on occasion, and I am certain that either man would be horrified to learn that he has unwittingly contributed to my unhinged mental state and/or the process by which it was revealed to the world.
Reitzes certainly gives new meaning to the expression "get a life."
Reitzes later complains that I didn't report that an HSCA document that concludes that Clay Shaw may have been involved in the planning of the assassination, "did not reflect the opinions of its author, but rather the statements of its interview subject: Judge Jim Garrison." True, the title of the document reads "Interview with Jim Garrison in New Orleans" but even a casual reading of the memo shows that it contains more information than what was gleaned from an interview. In fact, the "interview" was actually a series of conferences that ran from July 29th through August 6th, 1977 between Garrison and several members of Team 3 of the HSCA, including Gaeton Fonzi, Jonathan Blackmer, Cliff Fenton, and L.J. Delsa. The subsequent memo contains not just the highlights of the Garrison interviews, but information gained from Garrison's files and separate research already conducted by Team 3, independent from Garrison. This content was confirmed to me by two of the HSCA staffers involved. Tell us Mr. Reitzes, how many HSCA people have you interviewed? Since the document concludes "We have reason to believe that Shaw was heavily involved in the anti-Castro efforts in New Orleans in the 1960's and [was] possibly one of the high level planners or "cut out" to the planners of the assassination," it is quite apparent that Blackmer is stating his team's conclusions, not Garrison's. (Since when does Garrison refer to himself in the plural form?)
Unfortunately, despite the care he takes elsewhere to introduce "context," Davy does not take this opportunity to quote further from the document in question, a step which would undoubtedly help settle the matter of precisely whose opinion is reflected in Jonathan Blackmer's memorandum. I am grateful, then, to researcher Jerry P. Shinley for posting the relevant portion of this document to the Usenet group alt.conspiracy.jfk on October 13, 1999, along with some commentary of his own.
There is another issue that seems worth mentioning here. Here is what I wrote previously:
AGENCY : HSCA RECORD NUMBER : 180-10100-10054 AGENCY FILE NUMBER : 002097 ORIGINATOR : HSCA FROM : GARRISON, JIM [sic, Jonathan Blackmer] DATE : 09/01/77
To: G. Robert Blakey
From: S. Jonathan Blackmer
Date: September 1, 1977
Re: Interview with Jim Garrison in New Orleans
CLAY SHAW: Brief Overview
At the present time, Garrison is putting together a file on Clay Shaw which he will forward to the Select Committee upon completion.
[Davy: "The ... memo contains not just the highlights of the Garrison interviews, but information gained from Garrison's files ... ." How can this memo be based on files which hadn't yet been forwarded to the committee?]
Briefly, Shaw was indicted by Garrison in 1967 and brought to trial in January of 1969. After a lengthy trial, he was acquitted. Garrison believes Shaw was a part of a conspiracy whose ultimate goal was the assassination of JFK.
["Garrison believes ..."]
Shaw was a former high ranking C.I.A. operative in Italy, and according to Garrison, a contract employee in the New Orleans area from the late 1950's until his death in the early 1970's.
[ "... according to Garrison ..." ]
Shaw was the "queen bee" of the homosexual element of the New Orleans operation, using the alias of "Clay or Clem Bertrand." Among Shaw's close associates were: David Ferrie, Guy Banister, and G. Wray Gil [sic]. [The allegation of Shaw associating with Banister and Gill was an assertion of witness Thomas Beckham, whom even Garrison disregarded as a crackpot.--DR] Shaw was the manager of the International Trade Mart in New Orleans, the building Oswald was photographed beside during one of the instances where he passed out Fair Play for Cuba leaflets.
[Davy's book contains several mentions of G. Wray Gill, but he does not repeat or support the claim that Gill was "[a]mong Shaw's close associates." Why not? Shaw is a main focus of his book.]
Shaw was identified in two meetings with Oswald and Ferrie where discussions of JFK were overheard [possibly referring to some of Beckham's allegations--DR]. He was also identified with Oswald and Ferrie in Clinton, Louisiana in September, 1963.
We have reason to believe that Shaw was heavily involved in the anti-Castro efforts in New Orleans in the 1960's [another unsubstantiated allegation--DR] and possibly one of the high level planners or "cut out" to the planners of the assassination.
Further information about Shaw will be developed as we receive it from Garrison, through our discussions with Thomas Beckham and as we delve deeper into the Banister operation.
["... as we receive it from Garrison ..." Davy's book contains one mention of Thomas Beckham, in connection with a report that a Clinton witness identified him as a passenger of the fabled black limousine. If Beckham was a key HSCA witness on Shaw, why didn't he include a complete discussion?]
We are still developing a partial witness list for Shaw.
[Even though this memorandum says it is based on interviews with Garrison conducted at various times between July 29 and August 26, it also seems to incorporate information obtained from Thomas Beckham. For instance here's a blurb about G. Wray Gill from p2:]
G. Wray Gil [sic] -- attorney for Marcello. Beckham stated Gill attended meetings in the mission with Shaw, Ferrie, etc. Funneled money to the "group." Often gave Beckham large amounts of money to distribute.
[Again, Davy doesn't discuss the claim that Gill provided funds to Beckham and attended meetings with "Shaw, Ferrie, etc." Why not?]
Let's look at Davy's most notable items of new information. Does a single one of them indicate that Garrison's defendant, Clay L. Shaw, or anyone else Garrison targeted might have been involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy?Davy, as we have seen, contests that the opinion expressed is solely that of Jim Garrison. But Davy does not deny that one of the crowning glories of his book, as I put it, and the only item in the entire volume that even vaguely approaches the ostensible subject matter of Davy's purported thesis -- that new evidence supports Jim Garrison's assertion that Clay Shaw was guilty of conspiracy to assassinate John F. Kennedy -- consists of nothing but somebody's unsubstantiated opinion.
One might be inclined to name as an exception one of the crowning glories of Davy's book, his quotation of a September 1, 1977, HSCA report written by Jonathan Blackmer: "We have reason to believe Shaw was heavily involved in the anti-Castro efforts in New Orleans in the 1960s and possibly one of the high-level planners or 'cut out' to the planners of the assassination" (Davy, 202).
Davy doesn't mention, however, that this report does not reflect the opinions of its author, but rather the statements of its interview subject: Judge Jim Garrison (see part four of "Who Speaks for Clay Shaw?"). Therefore, Davy's lone example of "evidence" that Garrison had uncovered a real live assassination conspirator is nothing more than Garrison's own opinion.
If "[w]e have reason to believe" that Clay Shaw was "possibly one of the high-level planners or 'cut out' to the planners of the assassination," what was this "reason"? Davy doesn't say, nor does he even raise the question.
An investigator for the federal government said there was "reason to believe" that Clay Shaw "possibly" was guilty. Apparently, that's good enough for Davy.
Am I being unfair to Mr. Davy? Are these examples of Davy's distorted and irresponsible use of documents the exception, not the rule? Let's look at another case.
Davy quotes a CIA memorandum of February 6, 1967, as evidence of how the Agency "regarded the Garrison investigation." He notes that the memo's author, New Orleans DCS chief Lloyd Ray, writes, "We believe that there is some truth in the allegation of the Garrison investigation and that the matter the matter is under a discreet and sensitive investigation by the FBI." (Davy, pp. 62-63.)
By this, did "Mr. Ray of the CIA" mean to suggest that -- two weeks prior to the public announcement of Garrison's investigation -- he believed Jim Garrison to be substantially correct in some aspect of his thinking about the JFK assassination, as William Davy would have us believe?
No, Mr. Davy is omitting some of that notorious "context" of his just when he needs it most. What the memo actually reports is that a DCS "[s]ource [Carlos Bringuier] . . . said that the New Orleans District Attorney, Jim Garrison, is conducting his own investigation of Oswald's role in President Kennedy's assassination . . . In this connection, source [Bringuier] said that he was interviewed by two men from the District Attorney's office, whom he was unable to identify, and that a friend of his by the name of [Carlos] Quiroga had been subpoenaed and personally interrogated by Garrison. We believe that there is some truth in the allegation of the Garrison investigation [i.e., that Garrison had launched an investigation into the John F. Kennedy assassination] and that the matter is under a discreet and sensitive investigation by the FBI." (CIA Memorandum, February 6, 1967, from DCS Chief, New Orleans, Lloyd Ray, to Director, Domestic Contact Service, NO-43-67.)
More of Mr. Davy's document distortions will be detailed in Part Two of this article.
Reitzes also incorrectly claims that I "take on faith" that other Vieux Carre denizens identified Shaw as "Bertrand" and that "these alleged witnesses would not speak for the record." Wrong. I name two of the witnesses in my book, William Morris and David Logan, both of whom were interviewed by the DA's office for the record.
Of course, Mr. Davy is aware that I devoted no less than three paragraphs of my review to a discussion of these two witnesses. (I trust that Mr. Davy will allow the mathematical possibility that three paragraphs could indeed be utilized for the purpose of discussing a mere two witnesses.) Mr. Davy does not respond to my comments about these witnesses. Let's see if we can figure out why.
For starters, David Logan didn't say a thing to the New Orleans District Attorney's Office about any "Clay Bertrand." The significance of Logan's statement is that he claimed to have been at a party at which both Clay Shaw and David Ferrie were in attendance, though -- contrary to a statement in Jim Garrison's memoirs -- Logan did not describe seeing the two men together. (Transcript of telephone interview between David Logan and James Alcock, April 13, 1968. In On the Trail of the Assassins [New York: Warner Books, 1991], Jim Garrison states that "Ferrie had introduced" Logan to Shaw [p. 138]; this is completely false.)
No response from Davy. I can't imagine why.Davy not only avoids the issue of why Logan was not called to testify against Shaw [could it have anything to do with, say, the issue of Logan's credibility?], but does not mention that Jim Garrison would later avoid making public the contents of Logan's story by claiming -- falsely -- that Logan's statement was stolen from his office ([Garrison, p. 377;] Patricia Lambert, False Witness, pp. 218, 281). The document is now available at the National Archives.
Regarding alleged witness William Morris, I wrote:
No response from Davy. How can this be?Davy regurgitates Garrison's claim that one William Morris was introduced to Shaw/"Bertrand" by New Orleans resident Gene Davis (Davy, 120), though Davy does not explain why Garrison did not call Morris to testify at the Shaw trial, why Garrison claimed to have taken Morris' statement before Shaw was arrested (Garrison, 99) when it actually wasn't taken until over four months later (Davy, 302 fn.), why defense [sic -- prosecution] witness Gene Davis was not asked by the prosecution to verify or refute Morris' statement at the Shaw trial, or why DA's office records contain no indication that Morris' statement was ever followed up in any way, not even with Gene Davis.
Nor does Davy mention even once that only weeks prior to the Morris statement, Gene Davis was the individual named by attorney Dean Andrews as the person he in fact was covering for when he came up with the name "Clay Bertrand" (see part two of "Who Speaks for Clay Shaw?").
(Andrews explained at the trial that Davis had called him while he was in the hospital for pneumonia about a bill of sale for an automobile, and that the two had briefly discussed the fame that would await the lawyer who represented Oswald. Soon enough, Andrews was telling people that he had been phoned in the hospital by someone who asked him to represent Oswald in Dallas. Under the influence of his pneumonia and heavy sedation, Andrews seems to have actually believed this story for a time, recanted it once the FBI expressed a serious interest, then revived it for the Warren Commission. Davy tries weakly to discredit this story by claiming Andrews was not under sedation when he first came up with the tale. Not only is this contrary to the December 1963 FBI reports, but it also presumes a particular reconstruction of the day's events, a presumption that is far from certain [Lambert, 32, 297]. It also presumes that Andrews' pneumonia alone was not necessarily strong enough to warrant the administration of sedatives, something about which the record is unequivocal.)
Despite his apparent desire to demonstrate that a "Clay Bertrand" existed in New Orleans, and was not a creation of Dean Andrews' imagination -- as Andrews testified before the New Orleans Grand Jury and at the trial of Clay Shaw -- Bill Davy also declines to respond to several other points in my review. Allow me to repeat some of them here.
As I've written elsewhere, not only did key Garrison investigator Andrew Sciambra tell Epstein that no "Clay Bertrand" could be found by the DA's office, but Assistant DA James Alcock confirmed this numerous times to investigator Tom Bethell and NODA insider Richard Billings.Davy makes much of a recently declassified FBI report that reads, "On February 24, 1967, we received information from two sources that Clay Shaw reportedly is identical with an individual by the name of Clay Bertrand . . ." (Davy, 193). Davy notes that one of these informants had previously given this information to Garrison investigator Lou Ivon, and that "Ivon would not confirm this information" to the FBI (Davy, 120). Davy does not mention the memorandum that Lou Ivon wrote to Jim Garrison the very next day, stating that despite Ivon's best efforts, "I'm almost positive from my contacts that they would have known or heard of a Clay Bertrand. The information I received was negative results" (see part two of "Who Speaks for Clay Shaw?").
In this memo, Ivon went on to relate a report from one informant, "Bubbie" Pettingill, that the originator of the "Bertrand" story, Dean Andrews, had confided to him that "Clay Bertrand" had never existed, confirming the later statements of Andrews at the Shaw trial -- that he had thought up the name simply to protect his friend Gene Davis, who would otherwise be in danger of being falsely implicated by Andrews' fictitious story, in which "Bertrand" purportedly called Andrews about representing Lee Harvey Oswald in Dallas. This is also consistent with what Andrews told NBC, as well as author Edward J. Epstein in June 1967 (see part two of "Who Speaks for Clay Shaw?".
Dean Andrews told Garrison himself that there was no "Bertrand," as Garrison confided to Billings. Even one of Garrison's most ardent supporters and a personal friend, Mark Lane, says, "I never saw credible evidence which convinced me that [Clay Shaw] had ever used the ["Bertrand"] alias." Lane even blasted Oliver Stone for implying otherwise.
Davy also avoids discussing what would seem to be a rather obvious point of mine -- that in order to accept Jim Garrison's claim that Shaw's use of the alleged alias was an open secret in the French Quarter, not only do we have to disregard the contemporaneous statements from the members of his investigative staff, but "we are forced to believe that Garrison would attempt the arrest of witnesses and/or suspects in far-flung places like Ohio, Nebraska, Iowa and California, but he would not subpoena a single one of the Shaw-'Bertrand' witnesses in his own parish."
Perhaps such an argument is simply too speculative for Mr. Davy to engage.
Or too dangerous.
In any case, where one might expect Davy to present credible evidence to support his thesis, instead Davy chooses to present the following argument:
William Morris is a name Reitzes should be more than familiar with. For months, Reitzes hammered away on the Internet claiming that William Morris never existed and that Garrison invented him out of whole cloth. When confronted by Jim Hargrove's posting of the July 12, 1967 NODA interview of Morris (an interview that has been available at the AARC or its precursor for almost 30 years, by the way), Reitzes beat a hasty retreat, posting this mea culpa on January 9th; "I did, of course, assert on this NG that Morris never existed, a reckless statement I have fully retracted and for which I apologize." Apologizing for his inaccuracies is something Reitzes must be quite used to by now.
Absolutely. I find it infinitely preferable to the alternative.
Given the fact that Garrison concealed the existence of Morris' statement for over two decades, however, it's difficult to feel too embarrassed about leaping to the conclusion that there was something fishy about it.
Unfortunately for Davy, no number of errors on my part can ever establish that a "Clay Bertrand" existed, nor that such an individual was Clay Shaw, not a single one of whose known associates ever knew him to use an alias of any kind.
I would also note one minor factual error of Mr. Davy's in the above-quoted passage of his. Contrary to what Davy says, I was never "confronted" with William Morris' statement, and the alleged instance of "Jim Hargrove's posting" of the document never occurred. In fact, I requested that Mr. Hargrove be so kind as to post the document, and -- not unexpectedly -- Mr. Hargrove refused. Mr. Davy also refrains from posting the document.
It's true that Mr. Davy and Mr. Hargrove's reluctance to share this evidence with the Internet research community may not be related in any way to the fact that "star witness" William Morris merely claimed to have once met someone named "Bertrand" in 1958 -- nine years earlier -- and that Clay Shaw -- seen on television by Morris -- "resembled" this person. And Hargrove's behavior may also be wholly unconnected with the fact that Morris claimed to have been introduced to "Bertrand" (who told Morris he worked for General Electric) by Gene Davis and to have then had sex with "Bertrand" at Davis' apartment, despite the fact that Davis testified under oath, "I have never spoke [sic] one word to Clay Shaw in my life," and this testimony was never challenged in any way.
William Davy and Mr. Hargrove's desire to conceal the evidence may also have nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that when NODA investigators William Martin and Bill Boxley interviewed Mr. William Morris, he was serving time in a Texas prison. Nor is it necessarily related to the fact that Morris claimed someone who resembled Jack Ruby once came to his apartment looking for Clay Shaw. It may not be the case at all that Davy and Hargrove would intentionally conceal such damaging information about as important a witness as this.
That does seem to be the obvious inference, though, doesn't it? It's reminiscent of the way Davy insists that witness Vernon Bundy was serving time in the New Orleans Parish Prison voluntarily (as Bundy claimed to the NODA and under oath at Shaw's preliminary hearing) instead of because he violated a previous parole of his by committing a theft. (He pleaded guilty to this charge on May 25, 1966.)
Davy continues with his ad hominem arguments:Absolutely. I should have investigated as serious an allegation as the one I encountered regarding Lifton and the Newcomb-Adams manuscript before repeating it as fact. I greatly regret leveling such a serious and unfounded charge against Mr. Lifton.
After falsely alleging that David Lifton cribbed Best Evidence from an unpublished manuscript by Newcomb and Adams, Reitzes had to post this retraction on March 11, 1999: "I retract the charge and I apologize for alleging it. It was a cheap shot." He made another false claim about Harrison Livingstone's presence during the ARRB deposition of Dr. Humes [see above] and once again Reitzes had to atone, writing, "I humbly retract the statement."
None of this really accomplishes much in the way of validating Davy's thesis, but if it makes him feel better, who am I to object?
I won't rehash Reitzes' attempted defense of Dean Andrews, since it is simply a regurgitation of Patricia Lambert's nonsense. [The reader is invited to consult Lambert's volume and judge for him- or herself whether it makes more sense than Jim Garrison's revisionist history, which Davy is content to repeat.] However, I would refer the interested reader to my and Jim DiEugenio's review of Lambert's book in PROBE Vol. 6, No. 4, as well as the Dean Andrews section of my book. I will comment on one claim made by Reitzes though. He says that my revelation that Andrews was not under sedation at the time of the Clay Bertrand call is not borne out in the December 1963 FBI reports. On the contrary, as anyone who has read my book would know, the December 1963 FBI reports are the source for this revelation.
I invite the reader to consult the documents in question, which are posted at my Web site, and reach his or her own decision.
If Bill Davy has any credible evidence that a "Clay Bertrand" existed and that this individual was the person Jim Garrison theorized him to be -- Clay Shaw -- why doesn't Davy simply produce this evidence? Why all this beating around the bush?
Reitzes is right about one point. An FBI report does mention that Metropolitan Crime Commission Director Aaron Kohn was one of the FBI's sources who had information about Clay Bertrand. But Reitzes finds it suspicious that I didn't explain why Kohn "would pass along this potentially helpful information -- at a time it was common knowledge in the French Quarter that Garrison was seeking "Bertrand" -- instead of sitting on the allegedly dangerous stuff." What Reitzes leaves out is that Kohn countered this revelation with another in which he said he received information that Clay Bertrand is actually a real-estate broker living in Lafayette, Louisiana -- clearly disinformation. Maybe I should have included this in my chapter on the disinformation campaign.
This is a fine theory. But what evidence does Bill Davy possess that either item was a deliberate deception on the part of Aaron Kohn? He presents none.
Also, it seems fair to ask, is there not a single item in my review more worthy of a response than this?
Not my observation that the Shaw trial testimony of Davy witness Officer Aloysius Habighorst (Davy, p. 123) was demolished at the Shaw trial?
Or that when Davy states that Lee Harvey Oswald used Guy Banister's address on some of his pro-Castro literature (Davy, p. 37), he is simply repeating a completely erroneous claim of Jim Garrison's?
Or that Davy's claim that four of Oswald's Reily Coffee co-workers moved to positions at NASA following Oswald's departure (Davy, p. 36) is just another Garrison fabrication?
Or my modest observation that something is seriously amiss if the District Attorney of New Orleans is appearing on television to defend mob boss Carlos Marcello as "a respectable businessman"?
Or my assertion that field notes from a newly discovered former Garrison investigator completely destroy the Clinton witnesses, to whom Davy devotes an entire chapter?
Reitzes' prosaic attempt at critiquing the final chapter in my book is equally ridiculous.
He apparently doesn't like my choice of titles as he feels it necessary to add his air of incredulity by referring to it as "The Hidden(!) Record." His emphasis on the word "hidden" is certainly appropriate since approximately 85% of the material in that chapter was suppressed until at least 1993.
Forgive me if I decline yet another discussion of mathematics. Mr. Davy is aware that the specific subject whose "hidden" nature I was questioning was a statement of Ramsey Clark's publicized by the major news media in March 1967.
Regarding a March 2, 1967 FBI memo which Cartha DeLoach wrote to Clyde Tolson stating that "Shaw's name had come up in our investigation in December, 1963, as a result of several parties furnishing information concerning Shaw," Reitzes takes on the role of apologist for the FBI asking, "DeLoach couldn't be mistakenly referring to that FBI report of February 24, 1967, could he?" Let's see, the number 3 man at the FBI is writing a memo to the number 2 man, knowing full well it will also be read by Hoover, and he gets something like that wrong? I don't think so.
Mr. Davy's opinion is not without value, of course, but it's not really a suitable substitute for evidence.
First of all, if one follows Davy's reasoning, it would be utterly impossible for the Number One man at the FBI -- J. Edgar Hoover himself -- to deliver false information to the President of the United States. Yet in a memorandum of November 29, 1963, Hoover writes, "The President asked how many shots were fired, and I told him three. . . . I stated that our ballistic experts were able to prove the shots were fired by this gun; that the President was hit by the first and third bullets and the second hit the Governor; that there were three shots; that one complete bullet rolled out of the President's head [sic!]; that it tore a large part of the President's head off; that in trying to massage his heart on the way into the hospital they loosened the bullet which fell on the stretcher [sic!] and we have that."
Is this more "disinformation"? Or perhaps Mr. Davy would allege that Hoover's allegations were correct. Or, inexplicably, are government officials just fallible human beings like the rest of us?
If Clay Shaw's name ever came up in the FBI's 1963 investigation of the John F. Kennedy assassination, why cannot Mr. Davy cite a single 1963 document affirming this? Did the FBI carefully expunge all such "dangerous" material from their files? When was this done -- before or after the DeLoach-Tolson memorandum in question was written? If such information was so dangerous, why was it being discussed in writing at all? How did the DeLoach-Tolson document escape destruction at the hands of the Secret Team? Why does another internal memorandum from this same time period affirm that the FBI was unable to turn up any indication of such an earlier investigation of Clay Shaw?
If Clay Shaw was investigated by the FBI in 1963, why can't Mr. Davy name a single informant whom the Bureau contacted about Shaw at that time? For starters, did the Bureau not question a single person at the New Orleans District Attorney's Office about Shaw? Nor the New Orleans Police Department? Did the FBI not question a single criminal informant about Shaw, and did not a single one of these individuals ever mention this to anyone else in New Orleans? Was not a single one of Clay Shaw's own friends, relatives, neighbors, associates, acquaintances, employers, or co-workers contacted about Shaw? What sort of investigation was this? And when the Justice Department accidentally (oops) held a press conference and announced to the world that Shaw had secretly (oops) been investigated, why on Earth did Shaw's lawyers initiate legal action to compel the federal government to release the complete results of this alleged investigation?
Furthermore, is Mr. Davy so quickly conceding that there is not the slightest shred of evidence that Clay Shaw was involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy? If even the slightest bit of credible evidence existed, would Mr. Davy be trying so ardently to prove that there must have once existed such evidence, and the FBI must have completely obliterated every trace of it from the record -- except when it was discussed in writing by senior FBI officials (oops), passed along to the acting Attorney General (oops), and immediately disseminated by the acting Attorney General to the news media (oops) at a press conference?
Even if Shaw had been investigated in 1963, so what? Are we to assume that such an investigation would represent proof positive of Shaw's guilt? That is precisely the inference one draws from Mr. Davy's book.
As noted above, the Clark allegations do not even constitute an example of the new "evidence" promised by Davy. Honestly, is this the best Mr. Davy can do to shed "new light" on the DA who tried to put a respected businessman behind bars for allegedly conspiring to murder the President of the United States?
Davy is correct; page 191 of his book does not cite the New York Times and a Justice Department official as stating that Clay Shaw and "Clay Bertrand" were "the same guy." That is my mistake; page 191 of Davy's book cites the New York Times and a Justice Department official as stating that Clay Shaw and "Clay Bertrand" were "the same man." Words cannot express my embarrassment over this crucial error, and I would like to thank Mr. Davy for setting me straight.Reitzes thinks he's really on to something as he writes, "Unfortunately, Davy disdains hunting for primary sources to support his theory when he can simply misquote the anonymous Justice Department informant who told the New York Times that "Bertrand" and Shaw were "the same guy" (Davy, 191)." It's interesting that Reitzes cites page 191 of my book for the Justice Department "it's the same guy" quote, because nowhere on page 191 or anywhere else in the book do I mention the "it's the same guy" quote!
Even though that quote is nowhere to be found in my book, that doesn't stop Reitzes from his pathetic attempt at discrediting. He writes, "What the Justice Department source actually said was, "We think it's the same guy."" Reitzes cites the New York Times of March 3, 1967 as his primary source and Lambert as his backup. A quick look at Lambert's book shows she doesn't cite the New York Times at all, but rather the New Orleans Time-Picayune of March 3, 1967 and a Washington Post article some three months later. So, does Reitzes' main source, the New York Times of March 3, 1967 mention the "We think it's the same guy" quote? Well, I don't know what edition Mr. Reitzes has, but I have the New York Times, March 3, 1967 article in front of me right now and the Justice Department is quite unequivocal on the matter. I quote verbatim:
"A Justice Department official said tonight that his agency was convinced that Mr. Bertrand and Mr. Shaw were the same man, and that this was the basis for Mr. Clark's assertions this morning." And this is precisely what I cite in my book, not the, "it's the same guy" or "we think it's the same guy" quotes that Reitzes erroneously attributes to the New York Times and me. Just who is misquoting the Justice Department here, Mr. Reitzes? It is also interesting to note that in his "review" Reitzes tries to downplay the Justice Department conclusion by saying I misquote an anonymous Justice Department informant. As the reader can see, the Times article (and my book) clearly states that it is a Justice Department official making the statement.
Davy's nailed me cold. I mistakenly attributed the newspaper article cited by Lambert to the New York Times, when I should have referenced the New Orleans Times-Picayune or the Washington Post. I thank Mr. Davy for calling this error to my attention, and I have made the correction in my review of his book. It now reads, "What the Justice Department source actually said was, 'We think it's the same guy' (New Orleans Times-Picayune, March 3, 1967; Washington Post, June 3, 1967; Lambert, 82)."
In response to Mr. Davy's characterization of the Clark/Shaw/"Bertrand" issue, allow me to quote the relevant passage of my review in full.
Falling back on "previous research," Davy dwells upon Ramsey Clark's faux pas of March 1967, when he erroneously told the press that Shaw had been investigated and cleared by the FBI in 1963 (Davy, 191, leading off Davy's final chapter, "The Hidden [!] Record"). The Justice Department eventually retracted the statement (Davy, 192), but that's not good enough for Davy, who quotes an undated item from Clark reaffirming that Shaw had been investigated by the FBI (Davy, 192). Davy seems to think that Clark -- who had not yet even been sworn in as Attorney General -- was privy to what Davy no doubt believes to be one of the federal government's most pernicious secrets.
But Davy knows this is not true. He himself reports on what would seem to be the source of Clark's misunderstanding, a March 2, 1967, FBI memo from Cartha DeLoach to Clyde Tolson: "The AG [sic] then asked whether the FBI knew anything about Shaw [who'd been arrested the day before]. I told him Shaw's name had come up in our investigation in December 1963 as a result of several parties furnishing information concerning Shaw" (Davy, 192).
Where are the reports of this 1963 information from "several parties" to which DeLoach refers? No one has ever found a single 1963 FBI report mentioning Shaw, even an unconfirmed one. DeLoach couldn't be mistakenly referring to that FBI report of February 24, 1967, could he?
Of course, no FBI or Justice Department employee would ever lend his name to an unconfirmed tip like the one given to the Times; but then again, none did. (How do Garrison advocates account for the fact that Clark was apparently knowledgeable about the government's deep, dark secrets, but didn't seem to be the slightest bit aware that they were secrets?)
Again, Mr. Davy did not respond.
Continued . . .
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