I’ve read enough of Jim Garrison over the years to form an educated opinion.
Without getting too close to the trees so as to miss the forest, let us say that Jim Garrison was first and foremost a politician. He thought like a politician. He acted like a politician. Politicians play by a different set of rules than the rest of us. He played by the same set of rules as did his opponents in the federal government.
Jim Garrison knew what he was up against.
Was he overzealous? Yes. Did he engage in prosecutorial misconduct? It seems so. Did his opponents in the federal government play the same game? Yes they did. Is what he did turnabout fair play? Yes.
Here’s another point: Jim Garrison didn’t kill the President of the United States; his opponents in the federal government did.
With that stated, I do not believe Clay Shaw plotted out the assassination of JFK, nor do I think he was hanging out in Clinton, Louisiana with Oswald and Ferrie. Clay Shaw was too busy and too organized a man to waste five hours hanging out at a voter registration booth. He had better things to do; and that wasn’t the way he rolled. Winging it wasn’t his style.
You might conceivably make the case that Shaw, Ferrie and Oswald, as supporters of the oppressed, were there to loan their support to CORE, but if they were there for that purpose, why not just step out of the car and say so? Why beat around the bush? And why linger for hours?
Clay Shaw was a facilitator. He called people up and got things done. He wrote letters; he made introductions.
Clay Shaw was LHO’s guardian angel, his caretaker, in New Orleans. He was the man who helped to facilitate his movements. He got him his job at Reily Coffee, his job at Michoud (which LHO never took), and he made the introductions and reintroductions to Bringuier, Bannister and Ferrie. Of course, we’re never going to find a memo that will illustrate such, but by doing basic detective work, we can come up with a strong circumstantial case. I think this is what Jim Garrison figured out early on. He kept asking questions, and the name Clay Shaw kept coming up on his lists. You can read an earlier post that discusses this.
Where Jim Garrison went wrong was fitting thin testimony around a suspect in order to get a conviction. He began reaching for things that were not there. Still what he did was enough, and he should have left it at that. It was enough to establish that LHO was involved with intelligence services and the business community. It was enough to establish that LHO was not a communist.
The Jackson sightings are not solid enough. That sighting of Oswald in the barber shop could have been any young man. And while I want to believe the barber, Edwin McGehee, and Reeves Morgan, the lure and reward of being an integral witness to JFK’s assassination is likely to make anyone believe anything. I’m sure these men really do believe that Oswald was there.
The same could be said of the Clinton sighting. And as I have stated previously, Clay Shaw isn’t going to waste his time (five hours) waiting outside a voter registration office.
As for Judyth Vary-Baker’s story and the cancer cocktail, why would they need to go to the prison in Angola and the mental hospital near Jackson to inject a cancer cocktail? I’m sure Alton Ochsner had a few private rooms at his clinic. Plus, he had all the political power in the world. It would’ve been no problem to bring a prisoner into the clinic. It’s done all the time. When I was in my training program, prisoners were brought into the hospital all the time.
Now, that doesn’t mean that Ochsner didn’t try to invent a cancer cocktail. I wouldn’t put it past him. These were the early 60s. There was still a fair amount of quackery that was going on in the United States up to the 1960s. Let’s not forget about the Hoxsey clinics that were available for cancer treatment. One still exists today in Tijuana, Mexico. You can read about it here.
It seems totally logical that the CIA did attempt to construct a cancer cocktail. And, you can put a lab anywhere, so I am not dismissing the idea that David Ferrie was involved in some type of program involving such a concoction. The idea that you need a gleaming glass building reinforced with concrete to the sky to accomplish such is not tenable.
Detractors of Jim Garrison love to point out his mistakes, and there are plenty. But he did enough by highlighting Oswald’s newfound friends in New Orleans, and this is what scared the federal government. Clay Shaw, you see, was only one step removed from them. Clay Shaw was a portal straight into the refined living rooms of the elites.
Who was Clay Shaw? He was an urbane, refined, intelligent, cultured individual who was New Orleans’s ambassador to the business world. Clay Shaw knew everybody, and everybody knew him, and not just in New Orleans. From the end of WWII into the mid-1960s Clay Shaw traveled the world visiting top-level businessmen, politicians and artists. He was, more than any other New Orleanian, Mr. New Orleans.
That was his job.
Furthermore, Clay Shaw was not just Clay Shaw. He was an extension of the monied interests in New Orleans. Those monied interests were in turn an extension of the monied interests in the nation and the world. If we view Clay Shaw as just Clay Shaw, we miss the point. The splitters, the mathematicians, the discrete logicians, and the tree gazers would have us do just that.
Look at the big picture. Clay Shaw was a stroke in a Dufy painting. Up close, there is nothing to see; stand across the room, and you can see that he is part of something much bigger.
What is causality?
Perhaps the world we see as discrete objects is an illusion created by our sensory apparatus. Maybe we don’t live in a digital, binary world, but an analogue stream of slime posing as separate objects. Just because we see it as separate doesn’t mean it exists that way.
Maybe we are defining causality the wrong way. Maybe we need to view it the other way around. Maybe separateness has to be proven. Can Clay Shaw prove separateness from Oswald? I can. I lived in a different city. I wasn’t part of the business community in New Orleans. I was nine years old.
If we view causality as a starting block from which we chip away, a la Michaelangelo, then what is left after attempting to proving separateness is something solid. It becomes much more difficult to say that there is no connection at all. Something tenuous always resides.
In the case of Oswald, many figures then loom important. In the Garrison affair, Ferrie and Bannister were not charged because they were dead. If we redefine the charges against Shaw and charge him with aiding and abetting a suspected assassin, LHO, before the fact, then we might achieve a different outcome if we view causality as described above. Many other characters might be so similarly charged and convicted.
Of course, that is not how the legal system works in theory or practice. In America we are presumed innocent until proven guilty. The operative word here is presumed. Presumed doesn’t mean we are.
Additionally, we live in an unfair and uncivil world where the rules we are taught in school are not always applied in real life. Brutes abound.
Jim Garrison understood what his detractors did not, and do not: that politics is what Senator Lloyd Bentsen said it was – a contact sport.
What he faced was a federal army that engaged in mole insertion, witness intimidation, and electronic eavesdropping. Those Feds have a lot of money, and money talks.
Jim Garrison played the game the same way his opponents did.
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