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The Two Sciambra Memos

The truth serum memo, the one I've published here with the reference to Bertrand being at Ferrie's during the assassination talk - was actually written BEFORE the infamous 'Sciambra memorandum' that Phelan, Kirkwood, Shaw's lawyers and of late McAdams and Hixon have tried to use against Russo/Garrison.

Not only was this one written first, but it was made clear by Sciambra in the trial that he was purposely keeping seperate the talk under serum about Bertrand, and the non-party aspects of Russo's testimony. He makes clear that the party was only ever meant to be described in the FIRST memo, not the second which became the one that Phelan took to his CIA assassination-coordinator friend Maheu (who curiously Kirkwood misspells as "Mayhew") to copy (I guess Vegas had a dearth of copiers, or a dearth of CIA advice - one of the two!).

Here is the relevant part of his testimony, followed (for the few of you who haven't seen it a dozen times by now) by the text from the FIRST Sciambra memo, taken BEFORE the hypnosis sessions, where Russo was asked to confirm what he had already told Sciambra while under the effects of the truth serum/sodium pentathol.

The famous "Sciambra Memo" was in fact written AFTER this memo, as Sciambra made clear in the trial of Clay Shaw.

At the end of this - I will include some of Phelan's transcript from the trial - VERY interesting - so don't skip until you've read the ending part!

In his testimony, Sciambra blamed himself for leaving the Shaw episode out of the second memo because he was concentrating initially on getting the data into the first memo. Here is his trial testimony to this effect:

Sciambra: These omissions and errors and inaccuracies would be the result of my trying to report in words what Perry Russo told me on February 25 and plus physically not as concerned with the descriptions in the second memorandum as the first memorandum being that the first memorandum also handled the Ferrie, the party that took place in Ferrie's apartment.


Sciambra: When I say first memorandum I am referring to the memorandum pertaining to the sodium pentathol interview dictated on the morning of February 28. When I say second, I am referring to the one that began that morning and ended by the arrival of Perry Russo and which was completed seven to ten days later. That memorandum is the one the Mr. Dymond has labeled the Sciambra memorandum.

So below, is the FIRST accounting of Shaw at Ferrie's during the talk of the assassination. Written separately from the other memo, which was never intended to deal with all the aspects of the party, as Sciambra made clear in court. This is what Russo said - before the hypnosis.

This is the text relating to Clay Bertrand/Shaw from the text of Sciambra's first memorandum regarding Russo's truth serum (sodium pentathol) session, taken on February 27, 1967. This was a mere three days after Russo had told a reporter from the Baton Rouge State Times, the Baton Rouge Morning Advocate as well the WBRZ-TV evening news about being at Ferrie's place in the presence of others while Ferrie discussed assassination plans for President Kennedy. THIS is what caught Garrison's attention, and why he sent Sciambra up to interview Russo.

The below is from the memo of Sciambra's that specifically regarding Russo's recounting of Clay Bertrand at Ferrie's while the assassination was discussed.

This is BEFORE the hypnosis sessions. It was written BEFORE the infamous 'Sciambra Memorandum.'

I'm skipping the rest for now - most of it is about Oswald and Ferrie. Hopefully I'll have time in the not so distant future to post the full text here...

But picking up near the top of the third page of this three page memo on legal size paper:

[caps are from the original.]

"I then asked him if he knew CLAY SHAW. He said that he did not know CLAY SHAW. I then asked him if he knew CLAY BERTRAND and he said that he did know a BERTRAND and he is a queer. RUSSO said that FERRIE had introduced him to Bertrand while he was at FERRIE's apartment on Louisiana Avenue Parkway. I then asked him to describe CLAY BERTRAND and he said that CLAY BERTRAND was a tall man with white kinky hair, sort of slender and that he had seen BERTRAND on two other occasions. Once occasion when his car had some trouble and he pulled into FERRIE's service station on the Veterans Highway and on another occasion when he went to see President Kennedy speak at the Nashville Street Wharf. He said that he remembered Bertrand because Bertrand was hawking some kid who was not too far from him at Kennedy's speech.

"I then asked him if he could remember any of the details about CLAY BERTRAND being up in FERRIE's apartment and he told me that he was in FERRIE's apartment with CLAY BERTRAND and FERRIE and the roommate and he remembers FERRIE telling him that "We are going to kill John F. Kennedy" and that "it won't be long". He said FERRIE again repeated his earlier statement that he could plan the perfect assassination of the President because he could fly anything that had wings on it and he had perfect availability of exit out of the country. When I asked him who FERRIE was referring to when he said "we", he said "I guess he was referring to the people in the room". He said this was not the first time that FERRIE had talked to him about how easy it would be to assassinate the President. He said that FERRIE, in September and October of 1963, became obsessed with the idea that he could pull off a perfect assassination.

Okay. NOW let's look at what James Phelan of the Saturday Evening Post and god knows what else had to say at the trial under cross examination of the veractiy of Sciambra's account:

I love this - because Alcock uses Phelan's own 'logic' against him. Phelan's argument with what we can now call the SECOND Sciambra memo was that it did not contain the reference to the assassination party - even though both Russo and Sciambra confirmed it was discussed, and Sciambra, as we have now seen, explained that he specifically reserved that topic for the first memo and didn't mention it in the second.

Phelan claimes (and btw Russo denied) that Russo said he first mentioned the assassination talk to Sciambra in New Orleans - not in Baton Rouge at their first meeting. He cites the absence of reference as 'proof' that this conversation did not take place.

Alcock reverses this logic on Phelan - showing that in his 6000 page article, Phelan is the one who neglects to mention Russo saying he had not told Sciambra this originally, implying that it is Phelan who is misrepresenting here! :)

Q: Isn't it a fact, Mr. Phelan, that Perry Ruso never denied telling or that in fact he did tell Mr. Sciambra about this party or meeting or conspiratorial meeting?

A: His whole comment was what I testified to. [he said and Russo denied that Russo had told him the first time he told Sciambra of the assassination party was in New Orleans, not Baton Rouge.]


Q: In other words, Mr. Sciambra assured you before you left while he was making arrangements for you to see Mr. Russo that Mr. Russo had in fact told him about the party or the gathering where the plot was hatched. Is that correct?

A: Yes.

Q: All right. Now, you say Russo said that the first time he mentioned anything about it was in New Orleans. Is that correct?

A: Yes.

Q: Now, my question is did you not think that this was in effect saying that Mr. Sciambra was a liar if he said otherwise?

A: Yes.

Q: All right. Now, how many words was your article, do you recall?

A: Oh, probably around 6,000.

Q: Would say [sic] that is an article critical of the investigation?

A: I certainly do.

Q: Now, do you have mentioned in that article anywhere where Russo in effect called Mr. Garison a liar and Mr. Sciambra a liar?

A: No.

Q: you don't mention that in your article?

A: That Russo called him a liar?

Q: In effect by making the statement that the first time that he mentioned anything about the plot was in New Orleans.

MR. DIAMOND: We object to that, asking this witness to pass upon and interpret an article. If the State wants to introduce it, the article speaks for itself.

MR. ALCOCK: We are not introducing the article, Your Honor.

THE COURT: I overrule the objection. I think it is legitimate cross-examination.


Q: Is there any reference in your article to Mr. Russo saying that he did not say that --he did not tell Mr. Sciambra in Baton Rouge anything about the meeting with Leon Oswald, the Defendant, and David Ferrie?

A: No sir, there is not.

Q Well, can you expalin that for us?

A Why, certainly. It merely confirms what I learned from Mr. Sciambra's memorandum, and I made the statement in the article that Perry Russo had told two different stories and this information confirmed it, and I said it in small words in the article.

Q And you did not put in your article that Perry Russo confirmed that when you went to him in Baton Rouge?

A I did not.

Q And that is your explanation?

A Oh, you want an exaplanation?

Q I want an explanation as to why you did not put that critical thing in your article since your finding fault with Mr. Sciambra's memorandum.

A Because the information that Mr. Russo gave me confirmed the accuracy of what I printed. Now, I talked to many people, I covered the whole range of the investigation, there was only a small portion of this devoted to the Sciambra memorandum, and it was simply an editorial judgment. We had confirmed the truth of what I was printing, and the article ran much lnger than the space given for it, it had to be cut, it was put in the Post, and there was a matter that I had evidence of the statements that I made in the article and I kept this in reserve in case the article should be challenged or if we were to be sued, which we were not.

Q You kept what in reserve?

A The statement that Mr. Russo made in Baton Rouge.

Q And you relegated this most important memorandum to a small portion of your article. Is that your testimony?

A No, sir.

Q That is what you just testified to, was it not?

A I said I had the -- to cover the entire investigation in 6,000 -- this article is about the whole investigation, sir, and the background on it, my conversations with Mr. Garrison, and the background on the whole assassination story, and I had to tell quite a long story in 6,000 words. This is not an article about the Sciambra memorandum.

Q But this is a critical article of the investigation. Is that not your testimony?

A Indeed it is.

Q I see. And don't you, did you not deem this an extremely important and criticle piece of eviidence for your article?

A No, sir, it simply confirmed the statements that I made there.

Q Oh, I see. You had a time and space problem. Is that essentially it?

A No, that is not essentially it.

Q Did you not tell Mark Lane that you had a space problem?

A I don't what [sic] I told Mark Lane.

Q Would you deny it?

A Do I deny what?

Q That you made the statement to Mr. Lane that you had a space problem, that is why you left that critical piece of evidence out.

A I made that statement to you, sir.

Q Well --

A We had to cut the article.

Q So you had a space problem.

A Yes.

Q Now, Mr. Phelan, when you next saw Perry Russo, that would be in May, I think, of 1967, for whom were you working?

A For National Broadcasting Company.

Q how long had you been working for the National Broadcasting Company?

A How long had I been?

Q YEs.

A I was hired for a specific White Paper documentary that they were doing on the Garrison investigation.

Q Who hired -- Go ahead, I am sorry.

A I worked five weeks.

Q You worked five weeks on that paper?

A Yes.

Q On the White Paper?

A Yes.

Q And who hired you for that?

A The producer.

Q Did you work with Walter Sheridan during the course of that?

A He was working on -- he was a part of the White Paper team and he was working on the same story, yes.

Q And what was the purpose of this White Paper?

A It was a report on the Garrison investigation.

Q A report on it or to wreck it?

A To report on it.

Q When you came to New Orleans and you were employed by NBC. Is that correct?

A The second time, yes.

Q Now, where did you stay when you came down here?

A At the Maison deVille.

Q Did you come down here with anyone?

A No, I came alone.

Q And what was your assignment in New Orleans when you came down here?

A To explore the discrepancies in Mr. Russo's story.

Q To what?

A To explore the discrepancies in Mr. Russo's story.

Q Hadn't you already done that in Baton Rouge?

A yes.

Q In other words, you still had that in reserve, that --

A No.

Q Had that been printed by that time?

A I did not understand the question.

Q I said did you still have that little piece of evidence in reserve at this time?

A Well, it still existed.

Q Now, did you work with anybody in this particular area, that is, exploring the statements of Perry Russo?

A I did not understand that question?

Q Did you work with anyone down here beside Mr. Freed [the producer], did he come down here with you?

A He was here.

Q Did you work with anyone?

A Mr. Freed and Mr. Sheridan.

Anyway - I think the picture is clear. We know about Sheridan's NSA, ONI and FBI connections. We've heard from Jules Kimble how Sheridan edited down his statement to take out any confirmation of Shaw's connections with Ferrie. We know Phelan and Sheridan were both trying to get Russo to change sides - Phelan even admitted on the stand telling Russo "that a lawyer would be provided for him" even while claiming all he ever told Russo to do was to tell the truth.Here's the extended version of his statement a few questions later:

A I relayed the information that Mr. Russo was interested in getting a lawyer to Mr. Freed, and Mr. Sheirdan told me after Russo raised this and said he did not have enough money for a lawyer [btw - Russo was asked by Garrison to speak to Phelan to see how far Phelan would go with him and Russo willingly complied], he said that there was a well-knwon lawyer who would take his case without a fee [CIA lawyer??] and this was what I was referring to when I spoke to Mr. Russo.

[...] Q Now, did you have occassion at any time you were talking to Perry Russo at this time for NBC to have any conferences with the Defense Counsel in this case?

A Yes.

Q How often?

A Once.

Q Well where did this take place?

A Mr. Wegmann's office.


Q How many times did you mention your ability to get Perry Russo a lawyer to him?

A Oh, we discussed it four or five times.

Q Four or five. Do you feel that is the most?

A He kept bringing the subject up.

Q Did you tell Perry Russo that if the Defendant were not convicted, he would be a patsy?

A Sir?

Q Did you tell Perry Russo that if the Defendant were not convicted, he would be a patsy?

A Yes.


Q Did you interview anybody when you were donw here for this NBC White Paper?

A One or two other people.

Q Can you recall their names?

A I talked to Layton Martens, I talked to a Marilyn -- I think it is Marcuso (?), she was identified to me as the former wife of Gordon Novell [sic.]


Q Did you know, as a matter of fact, that during the conversations with Perry Russo that you were being led on?

A Absolutely not.

And by this comment, Phelan is either a perjurer, or just a plain old liar. Because in his book he says he DID know he was being led on. So at which point did he lie? Before, or after the trial?? :)

Can we finally admit that Phelan was in fact hired to destroy Garrison's case against Shaw?

Can we admit that Phelan's status with the FBI and friendship with Maheu surely were of more interest to him than in letting Garrison get to the truth in this case?

Can we admit that Garrison did not get a fair trial in his case against Shaw?

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