For example, Clay Shaw whom Garrison arrested and charged with conspiring to murder John Kennedy,was former General Manager of the International Trade Mart, one of the city's most important business institutions. Garrison claimed that Shaw had personally been associated with Lee Harvey Oswald and had helped Kennedy's killers by setting up Oswald to take the fall for Kennedy's death. Shaw of course, claimed he never knew Oswald and had never worked for the CIA.(Today, both Shaw's association with Oswald and his association with the CIA have been established.2 But at the time both Shaw and the CIA denied it.)
Particularly baffling was Garrison's inability to get the press on his side, especially the local press. The whole situation was very confusing, even embarrassing at times. Garrison was under a gag order. We all waited for the trial.On Sunday March 1,1969, the jury acquitted Clay Shaw of all charges in less than one hour. Everyone was stunned. After two solid years of heavy publicity and waiting for the evidence to come out in the trail, it seemed like it should have taken more than one hour for the jury to decide the verdict. What was going on? Was Garrison really crazy as his critics claimed, or had he been successfully shut down by forces inside the federal government.
In the days following the announcement of the "not guilty" verdict, I went to school as usual. There was a remarkable silence. From Monday morning to Friday afternoon, I did not hear the names, Kennedy, Garrison or Shaw once from any student or teacher! Then on Friday afternoon all that changed.
In one of my classes there was a student named Nicky, his father was Dr.Nicolas Chetta, the coroner of Orleans Parish(an office know as Medical Examiner in many locales) who was involved with Garrison's investigation. Dr Chetta was somewhat of a local celebrity for us. Not only was he an elected politician whose name was frequently in the press, but he was the team physician for our football team. Once he even took our class on a memorable field trip to the city morgue.
Nicky, the son, was well liked. He was a friendly modest boy next door who was well intentioned and sincere. He did not strive for any "star" position and certainly did not trade on his father's reputation. I never knew anybody that did not like him. He and I were friends, but we were not what you would call "close." We went to the same school, lived in the same neighborhood, and both had fathers who were doctors.
So, I was sitting in class at Jesuit High School in early March of 1969. The lesson finished early, and the teacher asked the class if anyone had any thoughts on the Clay Shaw verdict.
Nicky erupted, saying in a loud, tense voice that Garrison had gotten a "raw deal". We all knew Nicky to be quiet and even keeled. This outburst seemed quite out of character. But we all respected his sincerity. We knew who his father was, and we all seen the same ridiculous news coverage night after night. We were all confused, and we all wanted to hear what he had to say. No one counterattacked. The room was quiet. We waited to see what would happen next. The teacher said patiently, "What do you mean?"
Then Nicky started talking. He held the class spellbound for fifteen minutes with information about the investigation, much of which had either not been revealed to the press or which they had basically ignored. We all listened carefully. His points included.
- That someone, presumably the FBI or the CIA had bugged Garrison's office and conference rooms, had stolen and/or photocopied his files concerning Clay Shaw, and had turned them over to Shaw's attorneys,
- that all of Garrison's extradition requests for witnesses from other states had been turned down, as had all of his requests to subpoena former federal officials , preventing him from assembling the pieces of his puzzle in a court of law,
- that an ex- airline pilot named David Ferrie and a former high ranking FBI official named Guy Bannister had been training anti-Castro Cubans for paramilitary assaults against Cuba at a secret training camp across Lake Pontchartrain and,
- that Ferrie and Bannister had stolen weapons for that operation from a company in Houma, Louisiana which was operating as a CIA front. Nicky said he couldn't pronounce the name of the company, but said the name "looked German, but sounded French"(It turns out he was referring to the Schlumberger Tool Company pronounced locally "Slum-ber-jay.")
Then Nicky started talking about Ferrie's apartment, which his father had seen the day Ferrie died. Ferrie lived alone. But in his closets they had found both women's clothing and priest robes. They also found a small medical laboratory with a dozen mices in cages which he used for medical experiments. His medical equipment included microscopes, syringes, surgical tools, and a medical library. When they talked to Ferrie's other landlords, they were told of a full scale laboratory in his apartment with thousands of mice in cages. It seemed clear that he was inducing cancer in the mice! Ferrie claimed he was looking for a cure for cancer, but Garrison's investigators thought that he was trying to figure out a way to use cancer as an assassination weapon, presumably against Castro and his followers. Nicky added, almost as an aside, that Garrison's investigators thought this might be how Jack Ruby died, murdered by induced cancer to silence him.
By this time you could have heard a pin drop in the room. Back in 1969, we(and presumably the public)were taught that cancer was "a spontaneous disease", meaning it could not be created, transferred, caught or induced. Words like "carcinogenic" and "cancer causing chemicals" were not yet part of the popular American vocabulary. Viral cancers were not discussed.The idea of inducing cancer was very strange indeed, and scientifically we(the students) considered it somewhere between "questionable" and "impossible."
A student asked, "How could they induce cancer?" The question was sincere, but doubting. I remember hoping, for both Nicky's sake and Garrison's that the answer made some sort of common sense. Garrison's case already looked like Mardi Gras to the rest of the country. It did not need another bald, right wing, counter-revolutionary contraband pilot wearing a wig and a dress and saying the Catholic mass in Latin. And this particular claim, about inducing cancer, was not only out of John Q. Public's experience, it was also over the edge of what we understood to be scientific reality. Nicky sensed the doubt. You could see he felt it. He remained calm. Slowly and cautiously, he said that they had been "injecting mice with monkey viruses."
Monkey Viruses! The room groaned. I rolled my eyes and dropped my forehead into my hand. Why did it have to be monkey viruses? Garrison was already misunderstood because his plot was stranger than jazz, too complex, too subtle and too bizarre for the American TV audience. Why couldn't have been something simpler, like injecting rats with radiation. Cancer from plutonium! The public might follow that. But cancer from monkey viruses? The rest of the country would never buy it. The very words conjured up a dar collage of alienating images, diseases imported from tropical jungles in the bellies of insects and mixed with monkey heads boiled in voodoo rituals on the edge of the Louisiana swamp at midnight. It was all "so New Orleans"
You could feel that everyone in the room wanted to believe Nicky, but it was hard to know what to say. Then somebody said: "I don't get it. How could a monkey virus cause cancer?" Nicky said he did not understand that part either. My brain was about to bust, but I wasn't about to bring Tulane into the conversation.
Then another kid blurted out that there was a "kid" down at Tulane Medical School who was dying from the total collapse of his immune system. They couldn't figure out what was causing it. They gave him every antibiotic they had, and nothing was worked. He would get better for a while, and then he would get worse. While this comment was interesting, it sounded "off the wall". Two thoughts raced through my head. First what did the uncontrollable collapse of an immune system have to do with our discussion about monkey viruses? And I also said to myself, I'm obviously not the only student at Jesuit that has a family member working at Tulane Medical School. I was certain this was "inside information". It was the first time I had ever heard it(But not the last).
Then another student jumped into the exchange. "That means they were developing a biological weapon! What happens if it escapes into the human population?"
The room fell to a new level of silence. Lets call it fear. No one breathed. The Jesuits drilled social responsibility into us until it came out of ours ears. Everybody knew that developing a biological weapon was high taboo. Twenty teenagers sat in dead silence pondering this mind boggling question for a moment that hung like an hour. Then the bell rang.
In a routine voice, the teacher thanked Nicky for sharing his thoughts and dismissed the class. As i gathered my books together, I turned to the student next to me and made that nervous remark:, "Well the good news is, if there is a bizarre global epidemic involving cancer and a monkey virus thirty years from now, at least we will know where it came from."
I left the class and went back to my homeroom. I didn't talk to anyone else for the rest of the day. All I could think about were the monkey viruses, and I wasn't about to try to explain that to anyone.
When I got home that afternoon, I put my books away and called to my mother who was in the other end of the house. I said:,"Do you have time for some useless information?'" These were code words we frequently used for discussing things of interest."Useless information was one step above gossip. It could be anything from a new scientific theory about how the dinosaurs died, to speculation on who was going to get indicted next in the growing grain scandal.Her voice rang out down the hall. She would be right there.
When she came into the room, I told her that Dr. Chetta's son was in one of my classes and that he told us an amazing story about Garrison's investigation. "Oh yes", she said, "I know who he is." I recapped Nicky's comments and ploughed through the story of Ferrie's wigs, his dresses, and his religious vestments. She listened attentively, acknowledging each point as I went, but exhibiting no surprise whatsoever. Frankly I was expecting a little bit more of a reaction, but New Orleans is a very tolerant place. If the transvestite stuff didn't get a reaction out of her, I was sure the medical stuff would. So I told her about the medical experiments and the laboratory with the thousands of white mice and waited for a response. Nothing. She was unfazed. I was getting frustrated. So I told her about the monkey viruses, expecting it to fall on her like a bombshell, like it had on me. Still nothing.
"But Mom." I said in an exasperated and serious tone, "weren't they researching monkey viruses down at Tulane Medical School? Do you think there could be a connection"?
"Well" she said,"one of the doctors from Tulane was involved with that lab."
Now I was stunned. "Wait a second", I countered and tried to get my bearings. "Are you telling me that a professor from Tulane Medical School was involved in David Ferrie's underground medical laboratory? The one with the thousands of mice?"
"Oh yes", she said matter of factly. "Everybody down at the medical school was talking about it. It was in that Playboy interview with Garrison that you had around here a couple of years ago. I took it to Boston with me that Christmas to see your sister."
"Who was the doctor"? I muttered, I could barely get the question out.
"Her name was Mary Sherman. Daddy knew her. He had a lot of respect for her. I think she was a pathologist. You know, she was more of a researcher than a physician. A cancer researcher I think."
"What happened to her?"I asked, resigning myself to the fact that some terrible fate must have befallen her.
"She was killed. Murdered, A terrible thing. Slashed with a knife, dismembered and set on fire. It looked like a sexual killing, you know. But the grapevine said that whoever killed her,knew what they were doing with a knife...maybe they even had a high level of medical knowledge, just judging by the way the cuts were done. What a terrible way to go!"
"Did they figure out who did it?" I queried hopefully.
"No, the investigation was shut down all of a sudden. It was all very hush-hush, like it had been shut down from above. But they think she knew her murderer and probably let them into her apartment."
"You said Daddy knew her?"
"Oh yes. They worked together for years. She was older and considerably higher up the ladder than he was, but Daddy always said that she was one of the top people in her field. He had a lot of respect for her. Professional respect I mean."
"Did you ever meet her?"
"Yes we had dinner at her apartment one night. A strange woman, but very sophisticated and very well travelled. And very into theater and literature. I felt very out of place. All I could talk about was my children. I remember that her friends were very strange."
"What do you mean by strange?"
"Oh, they were not the type of people we were used to associating with. They lived in the French Quarter and were involved in the theater and all that. Mary was somewhat an outcast at the medical school. Most of the doctors we knew had wives and children. Everyone respected Mary professionally, but she ran in different social circles. I remember driving home after dinner, the normal protocol, like we used to do in the Navy, said the next step would have been for us to invite her over to our house for dinner. So I asked your father if he wanted to do that. He thought about it for a while and said, No, adding that Mary's social circle was a little weirder than he wanted to be associated with. That was the last time we discussed it."
Suddenly I felt exhausted. I shook my head in dismay and breathed deeply. This was stranger and more disturbing than even Nicky's story had been. It's one thing for a crackpot to be doing home-brewed cancer experiments in his apartment, but it's something else to have the involvement of a highly respected and professionally competent cancer researcher working in the crackpot's lab. What was going on here? And to have it all so close to my family! I didn't know what else to say. I thought again about my wisecrack: "If there's a bizarre global epidemic...at least we'll know where it came from". I was depressed. We were silent. My mother went back to her task down the hall. I changed clothes and walked over to a friend's house, trying to forget about it.
Jim Garrison was born in Iowa in 1921.1 His father abandoned his family when he was three. His mother moved to Chicago and then to New Orleans. His original name was Earling Carothers Garrison. He changed it to "Jim" in 1946. His nickname Jimbo was a friendly corruption of the words "Jim" and "jumbo",based on his enormous size, six feet six inches. His other nickname, "The Jolly Green Giant"2, was also based on his size, but was intended to ridicule him in the press.
In 1940 Garrison joined the U.S.Army at the age of nineteen, and became a pilot. During WWII he flew missions over Germany and France, acting as a forward observer for artillery units. At the end of the war, his unit liberated the infamous Dachau Concentration Camp, where he witnessed the horrors of Nazi incarceration first hand. It was there he came to understand what one human being was capable of inflicting upon another in the name of a flag. It solidified his hatred of fascism, and his fear of autocratic governments.
After the war, he returned to New Orleans and earned a law degree from Tulane University. Soon he started working for the FBI, knocking on doors for background checks in the Northwest. Preferring combat to boredom, he re-enlisted in the Army for the Korean War and, when that was over, returned to New Orleans. There he joined the National Guard and like many young attorney's in New Orleans, became an assistant DA for a few years before starting a private practice.
In 1960, Garrison mounted his first political campaign to become a judge in Criminal District Court, he lost. In 1961, he mounted a second political campaign, for the District Attorney of Orleans Parish, and surprised the political establishment by winning. Re-elected twice, he held that position for twelve years, until 1974 when he was defeated by Harry Connick, father of the popular singer/musician Harry Connick Jr.
As D.A, Garrison positioned himself as "a tough on crime enforcer." He cracked down on prostitution and gambling in the French Quarter. Self righteous and outspoken, he criticized the police for being soft on crime and criminal court judges for refusing to finance his investigations into organized crime. His moralistic stance made him popular with some groups and unpopular with others.[The drummer in Jack Ruby's nightclub told me,"Garrison was a terrible man who ruined a lot of people).
Perhaps his most important contribution to American law was a landmark victory in the U.S.Supreme Court in 1964. The New Orleans criminal court judges he criticized for being soft on crime had sued him for defamation. Garrison countered sued on the grounds that he, as a citizen had the right to criticize public officials. It was, as he called it, "the essence of self government." The high court agreed.
A second indication of Garrisons penchants for rights of the individual against the state was his intervention in a racial-integration crisis on behalf of a New Orleans merchant who had been arrested for selling books by black author James Baldwin. The New Orleans Police Department felt the book, Another Country , violated the prevailing political and racial sensibilities, and should not be sold.To Garrison it was just another book burning. Politically this event solidified his support among the black population in New Orleans, since they had never seen anyone from the District Attorney's office intervene on their behalf before.
These actions gave Garrison strong political visibility across all of Louisiana. He was a potential candidate for any statewide office, such as State Attorney General, Governor, or U.S.Senate.
Garrison moved swiftly into the JFK probe. The day after Kennedy's death, the press announced that Lee Harvey Oswald had spent the summer before the assassination in New Orleans.Before Oswald was even buried, Garrison was tracking down New Orleanian David Ferrie on a tip that Ferrie was a getaway pilot in a larger assassination plot. Garrison's office raided David Ferrie's apartment, picked up Ferrie for questioning and turned him over to the FBI. The FBI promptly released him, and Garrison dropped the matter.[why?DC]
Three years later in November 1966, Garrison was persuaded to reopen his investigation into the JFK assassination by U.S. Senator Russell Long. Senator Long arranged to finance Garrison's inquiry secretly through an Organization called Truth and Consequences, formed specifically for that purpose at Long's request by New Orleans oil man Joe Rault. In February 1967 , a press leak concerning Garrison's secret investigation into the JFK assassination, followed immediately by the death of his prime suspect David Ferrie, catapulted Jim Garrison into the world media spotlight overnight. If it was fame he sought, he got it. And with it, the focus of assassination speculation shifted from Dallas to New Orleans.
In March of 1967 Garrison arrested New Orleans businessman Clay Shaw for conspiring to assassinate President Kennedy. At first Garrison called the assassination a crime organized by extremist elements of the anti-Castro community, and to prevent any misinterpretation, he specifically pointed out that his team had not found any evidence of involvement by the CIA itself. But in May 1967, all that changed.
Garrison upped the stakes by announcing on national television that Kennedy's death was a coup d'etat organized by elements inside the CIA, particularly in it's Plans Division.3 What followed was two years of heavy character assault on Garrison.
The heart of Garrison's case was that he had associated Clay Shaw and Lee Harvey Oswald during the summer of 1963. Garrison believed Shaws contact with Oswald was part of a deliberate attempt to set up Oswald to take the blame for Kennedy's impending assassination.4 In particularly Garrison claimed that Shaw tried to help Oswald get a job at a mental hospital in Jackson Louisiana near the town of Clinton. According to Garrison Shaw drove Oswald to Clinton, so Oswald could register to vote in hopes of improving his chances of getting the job at the hospital.
As luck would have it, the Congress for Racial Equality was sponsoring a voter registration for black voters that day. When a black Cadillac drove into the center of the small Louisiana town, folks watched closely and curiously. Were these FBI agents? The press? outside agitators? A young white man emerged from the back of the Cadillac and got in line to register. He made a memorable impression, since he was the only white person in the line and since he was not a resident of the area. Numerous eyewitnesses identified the person who got out of the Cadillac,as Oswald, and of course the man had given his name to the registrar of voters as Lee Harvey Oswald.
The more difficult question; Who was driving the car.Witnesses said it looked like Clay Shaw, a white male in his fifties with wavy grey hair and a stern face. This described Shaw well enough, but it also described other people equally well. There was less difficulty identifying the other passenger in the car. His orange hair and painted on eyebrows made seeing David Ferrie a truly unforgettable experience for anyone. Since it was already established that Ferrie knew Guy Bannister and Oswald(all of whom were dead by 1969), it was difficult for Garrison to prove that the man driving the car was actually Clay Shaw and not someone else, like Bannister. Shaw of course , claimed he never knew Oswald or Ferrie and had never been to Clinton. Garrison failed to prove the connection to the satisfaction of the jury. Shaw was acquitted.
Garrison counter attacked, claiming that Shaw had lied under oath and charged him with thirteen counts of perjury, confident that he would win the perjury conviction in the next trial. The federal government intervened, however, and dismissed the perjury charges [of course it did...DC],thus with the acquittal of Clay Shaw in 1969, Garrison was neutralized as a political force.
A decade later, the U.S. Congress's House Select Committee on Assassinations took a second look at the Clinton incident.On March 14,1978 they took the testimony of Clinton town marshall John Manchester in Washington.5 Manchester said that he approached the black Cadillac from which Oswald had emerged that summer day in 1963 and acting as the towns law enforcement officer, instructed the driver to identify himself and to produce his driver's license. The driver gave his name as "Clay Shaw from the International Trade Mart", and produced a driver's license which matched. For some reason the HSCA took his testimony in "Executive Session" and kept this information secret from the American public for sixteen years.[Executive Session=the fix is in. DC]
We only know about it today because of documents released through the JFK Assassination Materials Act of 1992.6 With information of this magnitude continuing to come to light, it will be tomorrow's historians , and not yesterday's press, who will have to judge Garrison and his assassination theory. To call him discredited is extremely premature, despite the numerous attempts to make him appear so. We may owe Garrison an apology before it is all over.
In 1971, Garrison's life grew still more entangled . Based on information from a disgruntled former DA office employee named Pershing Gervais, attorney's for the federal government charged Garrison with accepting kickbacks in exchange for not prosecuting illegal pinball operations. The trail lingered until August of 1973. Garrison defended himself, arguing that the charges against him were fabricated and that the evidence had been tampered with. The jury found him not guilty.7
The federal attorney's immediately struck back, charging Garrison with failing to pay income taxes on the same alleged kickbacks. Again Garrison defended himself and was found not guilty. But the years of negative publicity had been too much for any publicly elected official to survive. He was politically destroyed, and subsequently lost the 1974 election.
After four years of low visibility in private practice, he ran for a prestigious(yet lower profile)office, a judgeship on Louisiana's 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. He won the ten year term and was re-elected in 1988.
During these post investigation years, he wrote several books about the JFK assassination, the last of which was On the Trail of the Assassins, which Oliver Stone used as one basis for his movie JFK. Garrison even made a cameo appearance in JFK, ironically playing the role of U.S.Chief Justice Earl Warren.
Jim Garrison died in 1992 after a long illness,at the age of 71.
At the height of the media visibility in 1967, Playboy magazine offered Garrison an interview.8 Distrustful of the press and their motives, Garrison accepted the interview on the condition that Playboy present his whole story unedited. The 12 hour interview covered 25 pages, and presented his complex case to the American public for the first time. Playboy cannot be accused of being sympathetic. They began their interview with a series of questions, not about the assassination, but about the accusations that Garrison had bribed, drugged and threaten witnesses. Even the title of the interview referred to him as the embattled district attorney[italics and lower case in the original]
We find the first mention of the Ferrie-Sherman cancer experiments in this interview in the midst of a barrage of questions concerning Jack Ruby.9 Garrison was busy baffling his interviewers with answers like: "In Jack Ruby's case, his murder of Lee Harvey Oswald was the sanest act he ever committed" We pick up the interview there, right before the critical section.
GARRISON...and he (Ruby)became the prisoner of the Dallas police, forced over a year later to beg Earl Warren to take him back to Washington, because he wanted to tell the truth about "Why my act was committed, but it can't be said here... my life is in danger here." But Ruby never got to Washington, and he joined the long list of witnesses with vital information who have shuffled off this mortal coil.
PLAYBOY...Penn Jones, Norman Mailer and others have charged that Ruby was injected with live cancer cells in order to silence him,do you agree?
GARRISON... I can't agree or disagree, since I have no evidence one way or the other. But we have discovered that David Ferrie had a rather curious hobby in addition to the study of cartridge trajectory, cancer research. He filled his apartment with white mice, at one point he had almost 2000, and neighbors complained, wrote a medical treatise on the subject and worked with a number of New Orleans doctors on means of inducing cancer in mice.After the assassination, one of these physicians Dr Mary Sherman was found hacked to death with a kitchen knife in her New Orleans apartment. Her murder is listed as unsolved. Ferrie's experiments may have been purely theoretical and Dr. Sherman's death completely unrelated to her association with Ferrie, but I do find it interesting that Jack Ruby died of cancer a few weeks after his conviction for murder had been overruled in appeals court, and he was ordered to stand trial outside of Dallas, thus allowing him to speak freely if he so desired. I would also note that there was little hesitancy in killing Lee Harvey Oswald in order to prevent him from talking, so there is no reason to suspect that any more consideration would have been shown Jack Ruby if he had posed a threat to the architects of the conspiracy.
Lets go back through this passage carefully. First, who are Penn Jones and Norman Mailer?
William Penn Jones Jr. was a retired U.S.Army officer who became an editor of a local newspaper in a small town outside of Dallas. He was famous for his "stir the shit" editorial style, particularly when it came to the JFK assassination. I asked two people who worked for him over the years if they knew anything about this claim. They said they did not, adding that Penn frequently said things that he could not back up. I tried to contact him, but was told that due to his frail health, his wife no longer let anyone interview him. He died in 1998.
Norman Mailer was a New York based writer whose strand of credibility traces back to a Pulitzer Prize he won for WWII combat novel, The Naked and the Dead. He was a colorful character who was as famous for his personal behavior as for his stunning prose style. He died in 2007.
I did contact Mailer and asked him what was behind his comment about Ruby's cancer. He emphatically, thoroughly, and completely denied ever having made any such comment. So either Playboy's interviewer was operating from bad information , or perhaps Mailer forgot what he said[where my money is at DC]Either way,I was not able to gain any helpful information by tracking down Penn Jones and Norman Mailer.
Back to the interview
GARRISON...But we have discovered that David Ferrie had a rather curious hobby in addition to his study of cartridge trajectories,and cancer research.
Cartridge trajectories? Isn't a cartridge the part of the bullet that stays in the gun after the slug flies out the barrel? Yes it is. And doesn't trajectory mean the flight path of the projectile? Yes it does. And when you pull back the bolt to clear the chamber before inserting another bullet, the empty cartridge flies out of the rifle, to the right and to the rear. So what was Garrison talking about?
Earlier in the same interview, Garrison discussed some of the materials they found in Ferrie's apartment. His investigators found unusual notations in the margins of one of his books, a reference manual on high powered rifles. It showed that Ferrie had measured exactly how many feet an empty cartridge flew when ejected from that rifle and in what angle.10 Hence the apparent oxymoron "cartridge trajectory".
Why would someone what to measure cartridge trajectory's ? One reason is it would facilitate removing undesired evidence from a sniper's nest.On the other hand, if you wanted to construct a phony sniper's nest, you would know exactly where to place the cartridges.
But for this investigation the important words in that sentence are the last two,"cancer research." It is widely reported by people who knew Ferrie personally that he was actively involved in cancer research. For example one of Ferrie's friends said:"Ferrie was going to fix everything. Find a cure for cancer.Get rid of communism."11 This activity stretched from his days as an airline pilot(late 1950's) until his death in 1967.
Continuing with the Interview: Garrison states that Ferrie wrote a medical treatise. Ferrie wrote a medical treatise? What did it say about viral cancer experiments? Did it talk about testing x-rays? Where is it today?
When I started this investigation, we did not know the answers to any of these questions. But today we do, and it is an important link the chain of evidence, as we shall see.
It is also clear from his interview that Garrison thought that there was more than one doctor working with David Ferrie. Who were the other doctor's? What was this claim based upon? If a group of doctors were working with Ferrie, it might be safe to assume that it was really their lab and not Ferrie's. This is an important point. If Ferrie was simply an executor, instead of the main instigator, the dimensions of the project change dramatically. It also means that the lab may have continued operating after Ferrie's death in 1967.
It should noted that in the summer of 1967, Garrison was talking about arresting one particular New Orleans doctor Dr Alton Ochsner 12(William Gurvich, one of Garrison's staff who resigned from the case, is said to have disclosed this fact to Ochsner). Was Ochsner one of the other doctors Garrison was referring to in his interview when he said " a number of New Orleans doctors"? And if so, was Garrison saying this as a threat to get Ochsner, a political enemy, to stop his anti-Garrison activities? Or did he have information that he could not(or would not) disclose about Ochsner? I will say, speaking as a political observer, that if Garrison had attacked Ochsner openly in 1967, it would have been very bad for him. He needed all the support he could get from the people of New Orleans. Attacking the city's most famous doctor would have cost him significant political support. He did not need to open another front in his war.
The most incredible thing about this interview from our current perspective is the reaction from the press.Or should we call it "the non-reaction from the press"? First, after being told that a District Attorney of a major American city who was investigating a murder in his jurisdiction had accidently discovered an underground medical laboratory which was inducing cancer, and was run by a known political extremist with a history of violent political activities and with no formal medical training, the interviewer did not even ask a follow up question! Then, the members of our national press, the so called Watchdogs of Democracy, simply continued to bash Garrison from coast to coast.
Had they bothered to read about Garrison had to say for himself? Had they read it and then somehow discredited it without bothering to tell anyone? Or did they think, "What's wrong with having a couple of thousand mice full of cancer viruses in your apartment?" Or perhaps, "This is too weird for my audience"? Whatever the reason, the press did nothing. Now Garrison is dead, and we cannot ash him any more questions.
But two important questions remain. Who was Dr Mary Sherman? And what was she doing in David Ferrie's underground medical laboratory?
The few JFK researchers who remembered the cancer passage in Garrison's Playboy interview assumed that Dr Mary Sherman was a local doctor, and therefore, that she was not significant. This was based on the assumption that no one of any measure would be associated with David Ferrie's cancer research, since Ferrie had no formal medical training. But this was not the case.
Dr Mary Sherman was one of America's leading cancer experts and had all the credentials to prove it. The newspaper articles about her after her death refer to her as "an internationally known bone specialist"13 She was an Associate Professor at a prominent medical school engaged in monkey virus research, director of a cancer laboratory at an internationally famous medical clinic, and Chairman of the Pathology Committee of one of the most elite medical societies in America. The medical articles she wrote were quoted for half a century. So we ask the question again. What was a highly trained medical professional with impeccable credentials doing in an underground medical laboratory run by a political extremist with no formal medical training?
This question is so vexing that it puts enormous importance on the credibility of this one passage. What other evidence of the Ferrie-Sherman experiments do we have? Unfortunately for many years, this interview was the single document connecting Sherman to Ferrie's cancer experiments.Perhaps even more unfortunately, however, this link has now been corroborated.
But back in the early stages of my investigation, I tried to find out what Garrison's claim was based upon. I succeeded in talking to a number of people who knew Garrison personally, but they did not know anything about the matter. In the process, I determined that the person most likely to know the answer was Lou Ivon. Garrison's chief investigator, who personally handled Ferrie. What did Lou know about the Ferrie-Sherman connection?
I wrote Lou Ivon letters, explaining the questions I wanted to ask, called his house, donated to his political campaign, even offered him royalties on this book, but I could not get Ivon to talk to me about the Ferrie-Sherman cancer experiments.14 I finally gave up.
Therefore I have never known what Lou Ivon knows(or does not know) about the Ferrie-Sherman cancer experiments, but my guess is that he probably knows more than anyone else about the basis for Garrison's claim that Dr Mary Sherman worked with David Ferrie in his underground medical laboratory. I hope he will talk about it on the record one day. In the meantime, all I can say is that the investigator who probably knows the most about this important subject would not discuss with me. He may also know who the other doctors were that Garrison had linked to Ferrie....
Collage Daze 67