The CIA and "Clay Bertrand"In Let Justice Be Done, William Davy attempts to link Clay Shaw to the name, "Clay Bertrand," through the issue of the Eastern Airlines VIP Room guest register. It provides two fine examples of the way Mr. Davy interprets documents for the benefit of his readers.
At the trial of Clay Shaw, the New Orleans District Attorney's Office produced a December 14, 1966, page from the Eastern Airlines VIP Room guest register sporting the handwritten "Clay Bertrand" at the bottom of the page. They also produced a witness, former VIP Room employee Mrs. Jessie Parker, who testified that she saw a man sign the name, and that man she identified as Clay Shaw. (During cross-examination she admitted that she had initially refused to identify Shaw as this individual.)(1)
Bill Davy writes, "Another guest who signed the VIP register that day was a New Orleans resident named Alfred Moran. On November 13, 1967, Garrison's office questioned Moran and he adamantly stated that Shaw was not at the VIP room on the day in question. Moran knew Shaw, he said, and clearly would have recalled his presence. However, newly discovered documents reveal a different story.(2)
"The day after Moran's interview," Davy continues, "he hosted a cocktail party at his suburban New Orleans home. In attendance was Moran's close friend, Hunter Leake of the New Orleans CIA office. During the course of the evening, Moran took his CIA friend aside and told him of his contact with Garrison's office. Moran recalled the occasion at the VIP [room] and said he identified Clay Shaw's presence there."(3)
The documents in question are a November 12, 1967, CIA memo from Lloyd Ray of the New Orleans CIA office to the Director of the Domestic Contact Service in Washington, and several memoranda generated in response.
Compare Davy's account of the Moran-Leake conversation to what Lloyd Ray's memo reports:
On the evening of 14 November 1967, Hunter C. Leake of this office attended a cocktail party at the home of a very good friend of his, Alfred J. Moran, who has had some past dealings with the Agency. During the course of the evening, he took Hunter aside and told him that he had been contacted by a member of Jim Garrison's staff in connection with the conspiracy charges against Clay Shaw. From Mr. Moran's narration, it appears that the Assistant D.A. had the name of several individuals who happened on one occasion to be together in the Eastern Airlines VIP room at the New Orleans International Airport. One of these names was Clem [sic] Bertrand; another was Moran's. Mr. Moran recalled the occasion and positively identified to the Assistant D.A. the presence there of Clay Shaw at that time. Since Mr. Moran is no admirer of Shaw, he could be a very hostile witness at Shaw's trial.(4)
So it seems pretty obvious that either Lloyd Ray or Hunter Leake misreported Moran's account. But that's not quite the impression I receive from Davy's version.
As noted in my review of Davy's book, Davy also attempts to bolster Jim Garrison's theory that Clay Shaw used the alias "Clay Bertrand" with a document that, according to Davy, "appears to be a computer printout from the 1960's [sic] . . . written in indecipherable 'CIA-ese,'" released from Shaw's CIA file in 1994. The printout contains virtually no intelligible information, but does include a line reading, "/A [presumably "alias"] Bertrand, Clay."(5) The implication is that this item substantiates the charge that Shaw was "Bertrand" -- and the CIA knew it -- where it more likely passes along information received from the field, i.e., from press accounts of the Garrison investigation.
For some reason, Davy does not refer back to the Hunter Leake memo, which continues:
Because of the caveat on discussing this case, Hunter merely listened and was noncommittal, but wanted very badly to ask Mr. Moran: (a) the date of the occasion; (b) the identities of all those present (i.e., Clay Shaw and Clem Bertrand might have been both present); (c) whether they had to sign a guest register in the VIP room; (d) whether Eastern Airlines keeps a log on all VIP room guests; (e) the source of the Assistant DA's information and whether his interview with Mr. Moran was by telephone or in person.(6)Why would Davy refrain from demonstrating that the CIA's Lloyd Ray describes Clay Shaw and "Clem Bertrand" as two different people?
In connection with Alfred Moran, Davy also cites a CIA document of November 30, 1967, from General Counsel Lawrence Houston. But when it comes to the issue of Shaw's alleged alias and the CIA's supposed knowledge of it, Davy declines to cite the following passage from Houston's memo:
Most interested para 3 of reference which states conversation between Hunter C. Leake and Alfred S. Moran on the Garrison matter. Agree with Hunter's desire to question Moran further. Since Moran has in past always been most helpful and cooperative with the agency, we believe in this case an exception might be made to the caveat on discussing the Clay Shaw case. It makes no sense for Clay Shaw to use the name Clem Bertrand at such a meeting so we assume they were two different people, but if Moran could confirm this it might be a very important point.(7)As with Lloyd Ray, Davy just doesn't seem interested in Lawrence Houston's opinion that "It makes no sense for Clay Shaw to use the name Clem Bertrand at such a meeting," nor Houston's report that "we assume they were two different people . . ."
Using another CIA memorandum pertaining to Moran, Davy makes yet another interesting claim. "The CIA's underhandedness is further illustrated," Davy writes, "in the previously mentioned internal memorandum I discovered. The Agency was so concerned about Moran's involvement with the DD/P becoming known that it suggested that his 201 file be modified. A subsequent CIA memo notes that since November 19, 1964, Moran's 'contacts for the DDP have been handled by the DCS.' This should serve as a bright red flag for researchers. This is direct evidence that the CIA can easily modify anyone's 201 file to make it look like they may have had innocuous DCS contact or perhaps no Agency contact at all."(8)
Heady stuff. Does Davy have his facts straight?
Let's go to the document.
In the document cited by Davy, a November 24, 1967, memorandum, we learn first that "An examination of subject's [Alfred Moran's] 201 file has disclosed that he became a DD/P asset on or about 15 December 1962."(9)
Further along, the author of the memo, Donald Pratt, expresses curiosity about whether or not Moran has been a contact for the New Orleans DCS office. Pratt quotes a statement of Lloyd Ray's, that Moran "has had some past dealings with the Agency." Pratt asks, "Is this statement a reference to his DD/P role, mentioned above, or is it based upon contacts with the New Orleans office of the DCS?" "If the latter," Pratt continues, "we should be grateful for answers to the usual questions: when did such contacts start, how many occurred, what reports resulted, has contact ceased, and if so what is the terminal date? (We are not referring to personal contacts resulting from Subject's friendship with Mr. Leake but solely to DCS business contacts.)"(10)
In other words, Pratt at CIA headquarters wants to know all that DCS knows about Moran. But he also has another concern. "If the reference was in the DD/P contact," Pratt asks, "how did Mr. Leake know about it? Did Subject tell him?"(11)
Mr. Pratt wants to know whether Hunter Leake knew about Moran's relationship with DDP, and if so, how did he find out? The DCS chief is not supposed to know the DDP's business. (A later CIA memo of January 12, 1968, authored by Lawrence Houston, would state that Moran was indeed a DCS contact. His name is deleted, but the description is very clearly of Moran, described as a friend of Hunter Leake's who had "been questioned by Garrison's staff. DDP contact from December 21, 1962, to present.")(12)
Why Bill Davy omitted this fascinating inside glimpse of CIA operations I'll never understand.
But Davy does report the memo's concluding passage. Sort of.
"As usual," the memo says, "it is requested that these queries be forwarded to New Orleans separately and without specific reference to the DD/P or to components or personnel thereof. It is suggested that the information in para. 1, above, be modified, in the version prepared for New Orleans, to state that subject's 201 shows that he has been in touch with another element of the agency."(13)
So the memo does not state that Moran's 201 file should be "modified." It states that the information in paragraph one of Pratt's memo should be routinely modified before being transmitted to New Orleans, so that it did not contain any information about DDP. Paragraph one reads, in its entirety: "1. An examination of subject's [Moran's] 201 file has disclosed that he became a DD/P asset on or about 15 December 1962. Inquiry about his current status is under way."(14)
The meaning should be clear: As far as the CIA is concerned, it is none of DCS employee Hunter Leake's business whether Alfred Moran was a DDP asset or not, and such information would routinely be omitted from correspondence with DCS.
Moran was re-interviewed about the VIP Room incident, and, as Davy reports, the Agency concluded that "Actually, Moran had not seen Clay Shaw in the VIP room on the occasion in question . . ." Just as he told the NODA, as recorded in another document cited by Davy.(15)
Davy's book continues with more intriguing information about the VIP Room guest register issue, but I'll leave that for another time.
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1. James Kirkwood, American Grotesque (New York: Harper Perennial, 1992), p. 349. Davy also adds, for reasons about which one could only speculate, "He [Moran] further expressed the opinion to Leake that Garrison had an 'ironclad case against Shaw.'" Hope springs eternal.
2. William Davy, Let Justice Be Done (Reston, Virginia: Jordan, 1999), p. 178.
3. William Davy, Let Justice Be Done (Reston, Virginia: Jordan, 1999), p. 178.
4. CIA Memorandum from Lloyd Ray, New Orleans to Chief of Domestic Contact Service, Washington, November 15, 1967.
5. Davy, 196-7.
6. CIA Memorandum from Lloyd Ray, New Orleans to Chief of Domestic Contact Service, Washington, November 15, 1967.
7. CIA Memorandum from Lawrence Houston, General Counsel, to New Orleans, November 30, 1967. Instead of quoting the information about "Bertrand," Davy makes much of the memo's following sentences: "Would it be possible for Hunter to inquire casually of Moran along this line? If so, we have means of getting this information on to Dymond for use in preparing Shaw case without involving Hunter or Agency." Regarding this, Davy unsurprisingly hits the ceiling, though it seems pretty innocuous, particularly in comparison to the numerous allegations made about the Agency elsewhere in Davy's volume.
8. Davy, 179.
9. CIA Memorandum from Donald E. Pratt to George Musulin, November 24, 1967.
10. CIA Memorandum from Donald E. Pratt to George Musulin, November 24, 1967.
11. CIA Memorandum from Donald E. Pratt to George Musulin, November 24, 1967.
12. CIA Memorandum from Donald E. Pratt to George Musulin, November 24, 1967.
13. CIA Memorandum from Donald E. Pratt to George Musulin, November 24, 1967.
14. CIA Memorandum from Donald E. Pratt to George Musulin, November 24, 1967.
15. Davy, 180.
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