Monday, February 18, 2008

Wading Through the Muck


You don’t even have to be a student of the assassination to know that the “smoking gun” in the Kennedy assassination, as some news commentators are calling a newly released document that had been locked up in the Dallas D.A.’s office safe for the past forty-one years, is nothing to get worked up over. You only have to have an Internet connection and know how to use ‘Google’ – something the Dallas District Attorney’s office apparently doesn’t have or know how to use.

This past weekend, the Dallas DA.’s office revealed that they had a transcript of an alleged conversation between Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby. Any conversation between these two individuals would be big news since no one has been able to connect the two men for more than 45 years. All of the evidence – and I do mean ALL – shows that the two men did not know each other, never met, and never had a conversation.

The transcript kept in the Dallas D.A.’s safe for more than four decades wasn’t just some ordinary conversation between Oswald and Ruby, it was the granddaddy of all conversations – a discussion about killing the President of the United States.

A FOX News commentator who wasn’t even born at the time of the Kennedy assassination gushed that it looked like “conspiracy theorists finally have their smoking gun.” While that might make great television in a world that embraces tabloid style journalism over vetted news items (a style that seems to have gone the way of covered wagons), it hardly brings us closer to the truth about the assassination. What it will bring is another layer of muck to an already mucky swamp of misinformation about this pivotal moment in American history. The sad thing is it could have all been avoided.

It took me all of five seconds to find the answers to the key questions about this alleged conversation on the Internet. The Dallas D.A.’s office, which announced today during a live news conference that they had been cataloging the items in former District Attorney Henry Wade’s safe for a year, apparently never lifted a finger to find out what the supposed transcript was and what the source for it was.

The Sixth Floor Museum’s curator Gary Mack knew instantly what the transcript was related to (as did any serious student of the assassination) and laughed when told of the transcript by the Dallas Morning News. Mack said that the transcript resembled one published by the Warren Commission and was a “re-created” conversation given to authorities by now-deceased Dallas attorney Carroll Jarnagin after he told investigators that he recognized Oswald in a newspaper photo as the man he saw talking to Ruby at the Carousel Club on the night of October 4, 1963 – seven weeks before the assassination.

Mr. Mack told the News that it's well documented that Oswald was in Irving the evening of Oct. 4, at the home of Ruth Paine where his wife was staying. He could not have been at Ruby's club. Mack suggested that the transcript in the Warren Commission report was probably used as a model for the one found in the district attorney's safe.

Did Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins, who was born four years after the assassination and who admitted to the Dallas Morning News that he is “always a conspiracy theorist” and “never believed Oswald acted alone,” check into any of this before today’s press conference? Of course not; why spoil a good story? Mr. Watkins was quoted over the weekend as saying, “"It will open up the debate again about whether there was a conspiracy.” No kidding.

It’s quite obvious that District Attorney Watkins is more interested in jumping into the international spotlight and taking credit for revealing the “smoking gun” in the Kennedy assassination to the world rather than doing his job and determining the truth about the contents of Henry Wade’s safe. It wasn’t that hard, Mr. Watkins.

On December 5, 1963, Dallas attorney Carroll Jarnagin, an admitted alcoholic who was in the middle of divorce proceedings due to his drinking, wrote a letter to J. Edgar Hoover, the head of the FBI, and claimed that on the night of October 4, 1963, he went to Jack Ruby’s Carousel Club in the company of Shirley Mauldin, a strip tease dancer who worked under the name ‘Robin Hood.’ While there, he allegedly overheard a conversation between Ruby and a man using the name ‘H.L. Lee,’ whom Jarnagin recognized as Lee Harvey Oswald after Oswald had been murdered by Jack Ruby on November 24, 1963. Ruby and ‘Lee’ were supposedly discussing the assassination of the Governor of Texas. [26H 254-59; CE 2821]

Jarnagin claimed that he anonymously telephoned the Texas Department of Public Safety the next day (Oct. 5) and warned them of the conversation they overheard. An FBI investigation later determined that the Department of Public Safety never received any such call. [26H 254-59; CE 2821]

Shirley Mauldin told authorities that on the night she was released from jail on a drunk and disorderly charge, she and Jarnagin went to Ruby’s Carousel Club. She denied that she overheard any conversation between Ruby and anyone and certainly didn’t hear anyone discussing the murder of the Governor of Texas. In short, it didn’t happen. [26H 259-60; CE 2821]

Police records show that Mauldin was arrested on September 19, 1963, for drunk and disorderly conduct after a one-car accident and fined $100. Yet, this arrest was two weeks before her alleged trip to the Carousel Club. [26H 260-61; CE 2821]

Police records also show Jarnagin had been arrested in the past for drunk and disorderly conduct. [26H 260; CE 2821]

Jarnagin subsequently gave an affidavit to Dallas District Attorney Henry Wade in which he reiterated his account of the events of October 4, 1963. A polygraph examination was given to Jarnagin by the Dallas Police on March 2, 1964 to determine the truth of the matter. Jarnagin flunked with flying colors. Here are the eleven pertinent questions asked, the answers given, and the test indicator:

(1) From here on, do you intend to answer my questions with the truth? Answer: Yes. Indication: False.

(2) Have you told the complete truth in this affidavit? Answer: Yes. Indication: False.

(3) Did you actually overhear this conversation between Jack Ruby and Lee Harvey Oswald? Answer: Yes. Indication: False.

(4) Were you drinking that night? Answer: Yes. Indication: True.

(5) Did you actually see Oswald and Ruby at that table on the night of October 4, 1963? Answer: Yes. Indication: False.

(6) Did you hear this conversation between these two men on that night? Answer: yes. Indication: False.

(7) Did you hear the name of H.L. Lee in this conversation? Answer: Yes. Indication: False.

(8) Is any part of this affidavit false? Answer: No Indication: False.

(9) Did you deliberately make up this affidavit to get some publicity? Answer: No Indication: False

(10) Were you drunk that night? Answer: Yes Indication: True

(11) Did you hear everything that you put in this affidavit? Answer: Yes. Indication: False.

[John F. Kennedy Archive, Dallas City Archives, Box 13, Folder 4, Item 45 - Polygraph Transcript, by P. L. Bentley. Polygraph examination of Carroll Jarnagin, (Photocopy), 03/02/64. 00002690 2 pages 2690-001.gif 2690-002.gif]

The only two questions that Jarnagin answered truthfully were that he had been drinking and he was drunk. What a surprise. The results of this polygraph were obtained from the Dallas City Archives online with a simple search. Someone should show the current Dallas District Attorney Mr. Watkins where that is and how to do it.

Henry Wade told Dallas journalist Hugh Aynesworth that after failing the polygraph, Jarnagin grinned and said, “Well, some things you remember and others you don’t,” and walked out. [Aynesworth, Hugh, JFK: Breaking the News, International Focus Press, 2003, p.217, 231]

Jarnagin was a bit more forthcoming with the Dallas Police when questioned about his flunking the polygraph exam and admitted that he made the whole thing up and said that he felt that the police would connect Ruby and Oswald sooner or later and just wanted to get in on the ground floor and get a little extra publicity. [Dale K. Myers Collection, Interview of James R. Leavelle, April 7, 1983, p. 24]

Former Dallas Morning News city editor Johnny King described Jarnagin as “a nice-enough guy, but a bad lush.” King said that Jarnagin had told the News other tales, “One about LBJ that we would have loved to believe, another about John Tower. The guy gets around – especially in his own mind.” [Aynesworth, Hugh, JFK: Breaking the News, International Focus Press, 2003, p.223]

But the Jarnagin story doesn’t end there. Jarnagin later approached Forth Worth Star-Telegram reporter Waldo Thayer with a new claim that he witnessed Bernard Weissman (who was the signer of the infamous black-bordered advertisement that appeared in the Dallas Morning News on November 22), Jack Ruby, and Dallas police officer J.D. Tippit meeting in the Carousel Club on November 14, 1963, just a few days before the assassination. Later investigation showed that the meeting never happened. Thayer later told conspiracy author and attorney Mark Lane about the claim which became a featured part of Lane’s 1966 book Rush to Judgment, although Lane didn’t reveal the name of the informant who he considered a reliable and responsible person. [Aynesworth, Hugh, JFK: Breaking the News, International Focus Press, 2003, p.231; Lane, Mark, Rush to Judgment, Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1966, p.249]

In his December 5 letter to J. Edgar Hoover, Jarnagin ‘re-created’ the conversation he heard between Ruby and ‘Lee’. That transcript contains phrases similar to the alleged “transcript” found in Henry Wade’s safe, including the alleged Ruby statement, “…the Feds would get into everything…” [Jarnagin] “…it would get the Feds into everything…” [Wade safe ‘transcript’].

According to Terri Moore, Dallas District attorney Craig Watkins' top assistant, she believes the transcript is part of a movie that Henry Wade was working on with producers.

"It's not real. Crooks don't talk like that," she said. Mr. Wade wrote about the movie, Countdown in Dallas, in letters also found in the safe.

“I believe it important for the film to be factually correct, that it come from official files, that the witnesses who in any way were participants should appear in person in the film, and in my opinion, will result in an excellent film not only of interest at present but the record of events for history,” Mr. Wade wrote.

You would think that Dallas District Attorney Craig Watson would have spent a few minutes to find out what the Wade transcript was all about before crowing to the world that he had discovered something of significance. Instead, he managed to further muck up the works.

No doubt, in twenty years time, we’ll be still dealing with this current round of lunacy brought on by the Dallas D.A.’s office. I can hear the question now, “Didn’t they discover a transcript that proves Ruby and Oswald knew each other?”

“No, little Johnny,” I’ll have to say. “It was just some nincompoop in the D.A.’s office who was overloading it and everyone jumped on the bandwagon.”

Which only goes to prove, that it never ends.


The Nal said...

Great article chief. Thought this was pretty silly myself when I heard it first, I was half expecting to hear James Files had recorded the conversation.

Debra Conway said...

Who is jumping on the band wagon? Everyone I work with on JFK assassination research recognized the transcript at once also. I agree that Watkins could asked someone before giving the press the transcript. I've been on the radio for two days trying to straighten things out.


Debra Conway
JFK Lancer

Jen said...

Everyone worked so hard to discredit my grandfathers eye witness account but, he did have attempts on his life so that would change any testimony when it's life or death. I think there is much more than anyone in Dallas wanted to admit. Corruption and greed contacted to the underworld and Carroll may have had an alcohol issue but, it is not logical to label him a liar. Especially when the lie detector tests are not admissible in court. This was character assignation on Carroll for stepping up and being the only man to report what he witnessed. Putting his life after truth and justice! That's who Carroll Jarnagin was from those who really knew him.