Looking for "Clay Bertrand"



Jerry Shinley has posted:

Jim Garrison, OTTOA, p. 86 (Sheridan Square 1988 edition [p. 99 in the Warner Books, 1991 edition])

       Gradually my men began encountering one person after another in the French Quarter who confirmed that it was common knowledge that "Clay Bertrand" was the name Clay Shaw went by. However, no one would authorize the use of his name or even sign a statement to be kept confidential. No one wanted to get involved. This was quite curious considering Shaw's reputation throughout the city as a man of decorum and distinction.

Curious, indeed, because in reality, no one identified Clay Shaw as "Bertrand," or even could confirm that a "Clay Bertrand" had ever existed.

On February 25, 1967 -- four days prior to Clay Shaw's arrest -- key NODA investigator Lou Ivon filed a written memorandum stating that he could find no one to verify the existence of a "Clay Bertrand" in New Orleans.

NODA investigator Andrew Sciambra told Edward Jay Epstein the same thing. (Edward Jay Epstein, The Assassination Chronicles (New York: Carroll and Graf, 1992), p. 196.) Dean Andrews confirmed to Epstein that he had used the fictitious "Bertrand" name as a cover for a friend of his, the owner of a gay bar in the French Quarter. [Ibid., p. 196 fn.] This was Gene Davis.)

Dean Andrews told Garrison himself that there was no "Bertrand," as Garrison confided to journalist Richard Billings. (Richard Billings, investigative notes, February 23, 1967 [p. 13].) Andrews would repeat this under oath to the New Orleans Grand Jury and at the trial of Clay Shaw.

Even one of Garrison's most ardent supporters and personal friends, Mark Lane, says, "I never saw credible evidence which convinced me that [Clay Shaw] had ever used the ["Bertrand"] alias." Lane blasted Oliver Stone for implying otherwise.

In his memoirs, Jim Garrison claimed that one day in late 1966, at the very beginning of Garrison's investigation, at "Cosimo's, a small, crowded tavern deep in the Quarter" -- "we had our first break." (Garrison, 1991 ed., p. 98.) Cosimo's was the bar where Dean Andrews told the Warren Commission's Wesley Liebeler he believed he'd once seen "Bertrand." According to Garrison, the bartender "could not understand what the mystery was" about "Bertrand" -- that as "far as he was concerned, everyone in that part of the Quarter knew Bertrand." Yet the bartender, for some reason, refused to sign a statement to this effect, or to the effect that "Bertrand" was Clay Shaw -- and Jim Garrison did not deem it important enough to insist, or to subpoena the man before the Grand Jury or at the trial of Clay Shaw.

Richard Billings' NODA journal tells a different story. It demonstrates that the NODA had no witnesses who had confirmed that Shaw was "Bertrand," or even that "Bertrand" existed. Billings' entry of April 15-16, 1967, notes that Garrison's "interest in [Dean] Andrews [is] higher than ever," and that Pershing Gervais is checking [Andrews'] hangouts . . . put Cosimo's on list . . ." (Curiously, in his memoirs, Garrison denies that Pershing Gervais ever was part of his JFK investigative team at all. [Garrison, 1992 ed., p. 147 fn.])

So a month and a half after the arrest of Clay Shaw, Garrison is sending his favorite renegade investigator to Cosimo's, as an apparent afterthought. If any witnesses turned up, no record was ever made of it -- not even with the informant's name kept confidential.

On May 18, 1967 (over ten weeks after Clay Shaw's arrest), NODA associate Richard Billings noted in his journal that Jim Garrison had told him "that he will detach Lynn Loisel for the purpose of working only on making a connection between Shaw and Bertrand." (Richard Billings, investigative notes, May 18, 1967 [p. 65].)

Billings records his own opinion: "This is the one area that would seem to require the most ambitious searching at the present time." (Ibid.)


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