Tuesday, June 5, 2007


I never did see Oliver Stone's crockudrama, JFucK -- I think that's the name. The reviews made it clear that it wasn't history in the slightest, and not even reasonable conspiracy speculation. The Kennedy assassination hasn't been an area of interest to me, which may seem strange given my lunatic-fringe tendencies. I don't care for conspiracies, but I love debunking them. Let me see if I can find it ... ah, here it is. Some years ago I did a bit of research, peripheral to which were the fervid ratiocinations of one Erich von Daniken, the phosphorescent effluvia of whose incandescent mind illuminated the theory that all ancient civilizations were dependent upon space aliens. Being me, I had to go off on a tangent, illustrative of the folly of how evidence is mishandled. I won't summarize, save to conclude that von Daniken was a con man and full of crap.

Again, somewhere buried within this blog, saved as a draft, is a wacky but truthful summary of what I think about Evolutionism. Oh, I'm wacky. But I once wrote a quarter of a million words on the subject, with several thousand endnotes citing peer reviewed journals that I claim support my position in detail, if not in paradigm. Follow?

So a few days ago -- or maybe it was today -- I got Bugliosi's book on the Kennedy assassination. I haven't quite finished all 1500 pages, but I've been looking through the chapter on Jim Garrison, the real life fictional hero of Stone's movie. Yeah, you heard me. Real life fictional hero. Cuz the guy in the movie was just made up. The real Garrison seems to have gone insane, or been possessed by a demon of prosecutorial misconduct. He used heroin addicts and paranoid schizophrenics as his star witnesses. Literally. He suborned perjury and payed bribes and intimidated witnesses and fabricated evidence, and made up theories in the men's room and then sent his investigators to find supporting evidence for them.

Take, for example, one Charles Spiesel, witness for the prosecution against Clay Shaw, the New Orleans businessman whom Garrison alleged was the Svengali behind the assassination. I should say falsely accused and ultimately vindicated Clay Shaw. Spiesel on the stand told of how he had been at a party where Shaw and others discussed their desire to kill Kennedy, and how it might be done. Hm. Looks bad for Shaw, doesn't it.

Alas, when asked to describe David Ferrie, one of the "conspirators", Spiesel said there was nothing unusual about him. Ferrie, however, suffered from alopecia praecox, which rendered him hairless as an amphibian -- a condition which he craftily disguised by pasting on oversized and dramatically arched thick red eyebrows and a stringy homemade wig. Of this cartoonish figure -- whom everyone described as bizarre -- Spiesel claimed to have noticed nothing unusual. Ferrie's hair? "Fairly well-groomed." His eyebrows? "A little thinner than most men's, not unusual outside of that."
Perfectly normal-looking David Ferrie

On cross examination it emerged that Spiesel -- Garrison's important witness -- believed that from 1948 to 1964 he had been the victim of a conspiracy to mentally torture him, conducted by the New York Horse Racing Association, the NY Police Dept, the Pinkerton detective agency, a NY psychiatrist, and others. Acting as his own lawyer he had filed a $16 million lawsuit against them all. Well, it could happen. The defense read Spiesel's complaint outloud with him on the stand, and all the while he made nervous stroking motions above his head, entirely missing his scalp. (It was Ferrie, remember, not Spiesel, who wore the homemade frightwig.)

Spiesel stated that during the '48 to '64 period, he had been involuntarily hypnotized "by possibly fifty or sixty" people, which caused him to suffer "hypnotic delusions" and rendered him unable to have "normal sexual relations." How did he know when he was being hypnotized? "When someone tries to get your attention, catch your eye, that's a clue right off." He testified that persons unknown had taken up residence in his home disguised as his mother and father. He speculated that it was in an attempt to spy on him, possibly a Communist conspiracy. To guard against such deceptions, he fingerprinted his daughter when she left for college and again when she returned, to make sure it was the same person each time. He had "enemies," you see, who were trying to destroy him.

Well, all that's just pathetic. The poor guy.

What does this say for Garrison? He must have been scum. His own agent had informed him that Spiesel would be an excellent witness, "if it weren't for the fact that he was crazy." Garrison, who never flinched from making stentorian declamations about his unflagging search for truth, deliberately put a crazy man on the stand so that an innocent man might be destroyed. The list could be multiplied to fill multiple volumes. Upshot is that the only facts that Garrison, and his disciple Stone, got right was that there was once an American president named Kennedy, who was killed in Dallas.

Yes, there was definitely a conspiracy somehow at play, relating to the 1968 trial regarding the assassination of President Kennedy. No, I don't think it involved the Mafia. Not Cubans. Not the CIA or the FBI or the Dallas police department. Not the Military Industrial Complex or big Texas oil millionaires. I really do have an opinion, now, about a conspiracy. I believe it originated in the office of the New Orleans District Attorney, one Jim Garrison, District Attorney, and was a conspiracy to wrongly convict an innocent man, one Clay Shaw, patsy.

The fact that liars, drug addicts and paranoids all testify to a certain circumstance does not mean that circumstance is false. A thing can be true by coincidence. But a reasonable system of law, like a reliable understanding of the natural world, depends on standards of evidence that must be respected. Certainty is the privilege of the private citizen. Public servants, like scholars and scientists, must be impartial, objective, and committed to a high and an honorable code of professional conduct. Anything less is corruption.

Garrison was reelected DA the same year Shaw was found not guilty after a 54 minute deliberation. He spent the last fifteen years of his life as a judge on the Louisiana Court of Appeal. Garrison -- portrayed by Kevin Costner as oh so very heroic in Stone's movie -- should have been strapped to a post and horsewhipped. But, as I have observed before, there is no justice.


1 comment:

Jack H said...

The Spiesel details are taken for the most part from Bugliosi's "Reclaiming History," pp. 1372-3.

To hear audio of some of the personalities involved, see:

A curious and rather interesting artifact -- Johnny Carson interviews Garrison in 1968, two parts:

A brief interview of Clay Shaw, Garrison's patsy: