An Interview with Joan Mellen - Oct. 4th, 2008

(Last weekend, I traveled to the Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA, to attend the Making Sense of 60s conference. On Saturday, I had a chance to speak with author Joan Mellen about Jim Garrison, and the pioneering work he did revealing Oswald's links to the CIA. Mellen has authored two books on Jim Garrison. The first, A Farewell to Justice (2005), won the critical acclaim of such JFK researchers as Gaeton Fonzi and Gary Aguilar, and director Oliver Stone. It focused on Garrison's JFK investigation and the Trial of Clay Shaw. Mellen has now followed up with a prequel bio of Garrison, Jim Garrison: His Life and Times - The Early Years. Throughout this short interview, 9/11 researchers should be able to see parallels between what they are doing, and what has been experienced by JFK researchers.)

Joan, why did you feel that there was a need for a Garrison bio?

The reason I had the prequel published is that many people didn't understand Jim Garrison's motivation. Why would he investigate the Kennedy assassination? Why would he risk his political career? Why would he give up his entire political career just for this? What did he get out of it?

It must be that he's covering up for the mafia... it must be that he's getting paid... it must be something. So, the book is a biography of Jim Garrison's life apart from the assassinations investigation, and is meant to answer that question.

Many people were introduced to Jim Garrison by Oliver Stone's JFK. Did it seem like the real Jim Garrison to you, up on the screen?

It didn't. However, Oliver Stone created a marvelous film, I think. He did an extraordinary thing, and he too took a tremendous risk, he risked his entire career as a film director, and suffered for years as a result of it. Stone's film is about the investigation, much more than it is about Jim Garrison the man, so it didn't really matter. I asked Stone the question, is this really Jim Garrison? Because I know things about Garrison's life that are not in this film... and Stone said, 'Well, I could have added 15 minutes about his life...' but it didn't make any difference, what counts is the dynamic of the investigation in that film, and also how it all played out in the city of New Orleans.

Some of the best scenes in that film have nothing to do with Jim Garrison. They were in Guy Banister's office, they have to do with the pistol-whipping of Jack Martin, because Martin knew about Banister's associations with Lee Harvey Oswald... and for those not familiar with this aspect of the case, Martin was the one who went to Garrison and told him about David Ferrie, a contract CIA pilot who lived in New Orleans and knew Lee Harvey Oswald, and really helped Garrison get his investigation going.

In my prequel, I've added an appendix; 'Who Was Jack Martin?' Because new documents have come out, CIA documents, which explain that they used the name Jack Martin "in a generic way". They had so many 'Jack Martins' that nobody could know, if they really were to investigate what happened, which was the correct 'Jack Martin'. One of the Watergate burglars was referred to sometimes as a 'Martin'.

When Stone's movie first came out, there were so many attacks on him, including attacks from the New York Times, Stone called up the publisher of Garrison's book, 'On the Trail of the Assassins' and said, 'Why didn't you tell me so many people hated Jim Garrison?' That was humorous, but I think he might not have been prepared for what happened.

Garrison really broke ground back in 1969, exposing the links that Oswald had to the CIA. Over the course of time, despite heavy criticism from the press and some JFK researchers, he has been shown to be on the right path. How has his research been vindicated?

Jim Garrison died just about the time the JFK Act was passed. These 4 million documents that emerged from the CIA and FBI were not available to Garrison. But Garrison knew that Clay Shaw was with the CIA. He had confirmation of it from David Ferrie before Ferrie died, but Ferrie was unable to be a witness at Clay Shaw's trial because he was dead.

After the JFK Act was passed, we got some of Clay Shaw's operations files. And we see that he was linked to 5 different components of the CIA. The Documents released under the JFK Act vindicate Garrison.

Even today, at conferences like this here in 2008, I can't quite understand why, people aren't prepared to draw the obvious conclusion; the overwhelming evidence is Garrison really was right and he had nothing to do with the mob. And that's another reason I did the biography of Garrision, because I wanted to show what his relationship with Carlos Marcello and the mob really was. Marcello told John Tarver, assistant to Louisiana Governor McKeithen, that he wanted Garrison out of office, because Garrison was "unreliable". He was unreliable for the mob.

When he did his Bourbon Street raids, raiding bars in the French Quarter for "B Drinking", he equally busted the bars that were owned by Mafia people. And some of those bars were owned by the Marcello family through [an intermediary], a person who owned three of those bars, one called The 500 Club, and several of the others. Garrison was not tainted by the Mafia, it just plain isn't true.


Garrison accused the CIA of complicity in the Kennedy assassination. That was his main idea. Oswald was a low-level CIA agent, he made a joke about the fact that not only was he not the 'lone assassin', he was not the assassin, but he was also never alone! And who was he with? He wasn't with anyone who wasn't with the CIA, which is typical of Garrison's sardonic humor, (there were one or two who weren't), but it's true... David Ferrie, Clay Shaw, the people that Oswald was with in New Orleans all had something to do with CIA.


Garrison made a joke about the FBI, if you want to know about what's going on this office, (I'm paraphrasing here), ask the FBI, this is an outpost of their office. The FBI didn't see the humor in this at all, but it was true. His office was under surveillance, there were wiretaps, his office was infiltrated. One of the people who infiltrated his office was Gordon Novel, who reported on a daily basis to the FBI, and those documents have been released by the national archives. He stole documents, he gave them to the Clay Shaw people, and he was a creature of Walter Sheridan who had been sent down to New Orleans to scuttle the Garrison investigation, I think, by Robert Kennedy.

It's very interesting to me, to sit here at this conference about Robert Kennedy, and hear all the talk about how Robert Kennedy wanted the assassination of his brother to be investigated, when here's Jim Garrison, who's a public official, the New Orleans Parish DA, trying to investigate the assassination of his brother, and Bobby Kennedy trying to stop him.

Why did Bobby Kennedy try to stop Jim Garrison? What was it that Bobby Kennedy was trying to hide, that's my question. In 'A Farewell to Justice', I interview a Cuban named Angelo Murgado, who worked for Bobby Kennedy, who went up to New Orleans to see what was going on, they looked at Oswald... they saw that Oswald was training in the anti-Castro camps... they found out that Oswald was an informant for the FBI, and Bobby Kennedy said if the FBI has him under control then they don't have to worry... obviously they didn't. Or they did! However you want to look at it.

Both Kennedys were out of their depth. They had no idea of the forces arrayed against them, just no idea at all.

The Kennedys were politicians. They were in a field of other politicians. They were not saints. They were not role models. There were not your dad.

Norman Mailer was at a meeting that was broadcast on C-SPAN, and someone got up and said, 'What do you think accounts for the interest in JFK all these years later?' And Norman Mailer, who knew the Kennedys, just looked at the person and said, 'He looked like a ski instructor'.

Which means, if he looked like Henry Kissinger, maybe there wouldn't be this adulation of the Kennedys.

You actually met with Garrison back in the late 1960s... how did that come about?

My husband (Ralph Schoenman) at the time had been living in London, he was working for Bertrand Russell, and he was friendly with the correspondent in London for an Italian newspaper called Paese Sera. Paese Sera had printed a series of articles about a CIA front organization called Permindex. Permindex was an organization that was interfering with the political processes in several European countries. On the board of directors was Clay Shaw.

Garrison had arrested Shaw just at that time, so, my husband sent the articles to Garrison. Garrison was grateful for the articles, and so after the Shaw trial, he invited us to come and meet him in New Orleans. Garrison talked and talked about the investigation, even though he had lost the Shaw trial.

The last time I saw him was in 1989, Stone's movie was in the works and his book had been a big success, and he was still talking about the Kennedy assassination, and the motorcade, and the fact that the Mayor of Dallas (Earle Cabell) was the brother of the former deputy director of the CIA, Gen. Charles Cabell, and just mulling it over... what does this mean, what does this mean?

Because Garrison was not one to dwell endlessly on minutiae. Evidence is important, after all, he was a prosecutor, but then you have to draw conclusions.

Tomorrow at this conference there is a panel, 'Where Do We Go From Here?' ... not the media. Not the Law Courts. But just to take a look at the evidence that we have up to this point, and it is considerable, and to sit down quietly and draw conclusions. Where are we? What does this mean? What does what we know mean?

In my new book, Jim Garrison: His Life and Times, I write about an interview I did with someone who saw the documents that meant the CIA debriefed Lee Harvey Oswald after his return from the Soviet Union. Well, what does that mean? What does that tell us about who Oswald was, what his role in all this was, and above all, who planned this murder?

9/11 researchers want justice for this newer crime. Looking at the JFK researchers, it's been 45 years that they have been researching, and only 7 for the 9/11 crowd. What do you have to say about comparing JFK and 9/11?

Maybe they're not not ready in terms of the evidence. But I think still, they're on the right track. I think they should look very carefully at the 9/11 Commission and see what wasn't said, who wasn't interviewed, what wasn't brought out and considered, as we do the same thing with the Warren Commission. In my case, how come David Ferrie wasn't interviewed by the Warren Commission, there was every opportunity to do so. Some people say the case is closed, but I just came across some new evidence recently.

You have to be patient and I think one of the things that the Warren Commission teaches you about the 9/11 case is that you don't look to the government for justice. You don't look to them to solve this, to put people in jail, to put people on trial... there's a cover-up. That's what a cover-up means. You don't ask the fox to guard the henhouse.

You can order Mellen's books at her website:


Fantastic job...

"I think they should look very carefully at the 9/11 Commission and see what wasn't said, who wasn't interviewed, what wasn't brought out and considered, as we do the same thing with the Warren Commission."

Do these people deserve to know how and why their loved ones were murdered? Do we deserve to know how and why 9/11 happened?

Great stuff.

Also -- see Jim Garrison explain the Kennedy investigation in his own words (3 youtube videos from NBC).

70 Disturbing Facts About 9/11

John Doraemi publishes Crimes of the State Blog

johndoraemi --at--

interesting interview. thanks for posting it.

what wasn't said, who wasn't interviewed, what wasn't brought out and considered?

One of the key similarities

is the notion of a transparent conspiracy. Meaning the MO seems designed to make it obvious that the named perp could not have been solely responsible for committing the crime. OTOH, the coverup seems intended to withhold evidence leading to other perps. One obvious question--why would the MO call for transparency if that meant the government/media would have to work so hard to coverup the truth? Why not just make it look like a lone nut or 19 al Qaeda operatives did it by themselves? After all, isn't it beneficial for the perps to fool the public into believing all is well in their democratic state? For whatever reason it seems the objectives of the tranparent MO are more important than any complications related to the coverup.

Objectives of the transparent MO: Intimidate, demoralize and confuse anyone who refuses to be fooled by the media or succumb to fake patriotism.

Perhaps the contradictory objectives (transparency vs. coverup) are intended to further demoralize anyone who is aware of the transparency. For example, watching as nobody is held accountable and the political/media establishment turns their back on the truth and betrays the public.

Confusion, indeed

"Objectives of the transparent MO: Intimidate, demoralize and confuse anyone who refuses to be fooled by the media or succumb to fake patriotism."

I agree, and I've noticed a similar phenomenon on online forums. "Debunkers" will sometimes make good points, but just as readily make an absurd argument or transparently mis-characterized claim. This seems not to bother them, at all.

Now, it could be that they like arguing, just for the sake of arguing. Or, it could be that their ego is so big that they can't admit that they don't have a point, or that a 10 -year old child would show more discernment or curiosity than they do.

However, I've come to the conclusion that for at least some of them, their purpose is to demoralize and intimidate. They are being deliberately, psychologically manipulative.

I have also hypothesized that they are deliberately attempting to induce something akin to cognitive dissonance, because such a state leads to sort of a paralysis (which, in turn, might lead to the afore-mentioned demoralization). By "paralysis", I don't mean a physical paralysis. Rather, I mean a state similar to the in between state between dreaming and waking, where you are are first beginning to suspect that you are dreaming. During the dream, you may have been chased by a nasty dragon, but as you begin to suspect it may be just a dream, you become less concerned or frightened about the dragon, pause to get your bearing, and sort of freeze while you sort things out.

According to the wikipedia page on cognitive dissonance, the theory states that because cognitive dissonance is so uncomfortable, there is a tendency to reject one of the contradictory ideas. I can believe that that alone is sufficient motivation for manipulators of society. However, I don't believe that this is an all-encompassing explanation, and certainly for many people, no amount of ludicrous "debunker" arguments is going to create the juxtaposition of contradictory beliefs, within the SAME individual, necessary for cognitive dissonance to occur.

Consequently, the dissonance I hypothesize about will be between contradictory beliefs between 2 individuals - oneself and the "debunker". One keeps asking oneself "How could anybody be so stupid, obtuse, incurious, and/or unfair in their pronouncements and judgements? Is this person crazy?" Such a dissonance leads to a sense of disorientation, like at the dream/awake boundary. I don't experience that as demoralizing, per se - it soon becomes obvious that the "debunker" has an axe to grind, and grind it they will. Why be demoralized about convincing somebody of something, when it's clear that will never happen?

However, I can see where such encounters would be disempowering, nonetheless. Just as you do not fight or flee the dragon so vigorously when you're trying to figure out if the dream is real or not, you will not be as effective an activist when you are wondering if the people you encounter are crazy or not. The people you encounter likely are very much unlike the unbalanced "debunkers" one encounters on forums, but just believing something consciously doesn't mean that unconsciously, the manipulative experience you had online will not influence your behavior, anyway.

Confusion leading to disempowerment

To emphasize this point further: I used to listen a lot to the Randi Rhodes show. Randi Rhodes is a liberal, Democrat-loving talk show hosts. She does a very good job criticizing Republicans, but rarely utters a peep of criticism of the Democrats.

Well, many people would call in to her show and begin their comments with statements like "I thought the world had gone crazy until I discovered your talk show." (Radio is dominated by right-wing talk show hosts.) They kept hearing lies emanating from the US Government, and media that creating a sympathetic, but ultimately unbelievable pseudo-reality supporting the government lies. Apparently, they had adapted to this dissonance not by adopting government/media narratives, nor by clinging to their own beliefs more strongly, but rather by coming to suspect that the world had gone crazy (as opposed to being deliberately manipulated to appear so.)

The question is: Is a belief that the world has gone mad disempowering? I think the answer is obvious.

I think you and Naomi Wolf

are on the same page:


I have a section in the book about how lies in a fascist shift serve a different purpose than they do in a democracy. In a democracy, people lie to deceive. In a fascist shift, lies serve to disorient. Lies in the service of a fascist shift make it hard for citizens to trust their own judgment about what's real and what's not. Once citizens don't know what's real and what's not real, they are profoundly disempowered. The Bush administration seems to have learned that lesson, and they regularly name things the opposite. And there's a long historical precedent for making people feel that there is no such thing as truth.

Buzzflash interview with Naomi Wolf

IMO, the Bush crowd has attempted to redefine patriotism as authoritarianism. This is bewildering for many people as they cannot believe fellow citizens are basically cheerleading for fascism.

Appealing to a shared sense of nationalism is a key aspect of the propaganda. We are supposed to believe that our leaders couldn't possibly have an ulterior agenda that is not in the best interests of the county as a whole. Bush's patriotism was never up for review. It still isn't so far as the media is concerned...he has made mistakes, he was given bad intel, at worst he is incompetent, etc.

Falling into the rabbit hole...

I think this idea that the obviousness falsity of the official theory is some kind of a deliberate psyop goes too far down the rabbit hole. There is no evidence to support this theory, and it contradicts "common sense" principles like "keeping it simple stupid (KISS) and "Occam's Razor".

However, I have no doubt that the minority of the population who see through the illusions live in a special kind of hell which has the features you describe: intimidation, demoralization and confusion. I would probably add depression and delusion to this list of problems which face those raised to believe in good faith whom have learned what is really going on in the world.

The conspirators certainly take advantage of these psychological conditions in people exposing the truth, but that is only necessary or possible to the extent that their operation becomes transparent. In short, I would characterize this idea that the conspirators design their operations with a certain level of transparency as being a product of intimidation and delusion itself.

Intelligence services do think and chatter about this...

In Norman Mailer's "Harlot's Ghost" - a 'fictional' CIA story, Mailer's protagonist muses about how the Company will leave just a 'hint of spoor' behind, so that other intelligence services (and researchers and investigators) will spend (hopefully hours) spinning their wheels chasing phantoms.

Depending on the analyst, they would see the evidence of a sister agency at work immediately, or eventually. Mailer's book is based on much published fact dealing with the CIA specifically. I don't think he is making up the bit about building a fabricated event with operational obviousness built-in.

9/11 leaves so many crumb trails that it is taking a while to find the right trail(s). But it reeks of Western intel, especially on the level of operatives who have multiple links to the CIA and the FBI specifically.

"Crumbs trails" are not psyops.

This "crumb trail" theory is merely misinformation, it is not the same idea as deliberately making parts of a major covert operation obvious for psychological effect on what appears to be a politically irrelevant minority of the population.

Are people here really suggesting that WTC 7 was overtly demolished as a psyop to intimidate and demoralize people? I am sorry, but that is hard to swallow.

These sorts of ideas seem related to the Pentagon "honey pot" theory, I do not buy that one either. At best, I would say that a "Flight 93 was shot down" crumb trail might have been deliberately left to mislead.

If not transparency

then what would you suggest accounts for all the circumstantial evidence leading to the Bush White House, the CIA, FBI, etc.? If the overriding priority was concealment (of complicity) then one would think the 9/11 truth movement would have had much less to work with.

I would say that it is not

I would say that it is not possible to either plan or execute an operation like 9/11 or JFK that frames pasties without leaving behind trails of bone fide evidence. More complicated crimes will generate more evidence and 9/11 was extremely complex. Furthermore, as both 9/11 and JFK clearly demonstrate, the real evidence of the crime just does not matter. The conspirators know they control the government and the media, so they do need need to worry about the impossible job of leaving behind absolutely no evidence. On the contrary, they expect to mount intensive cover-up operations after the fact as necessary to maintain the popular illusion.

The only question I have is: why blow WTC 7? It is the only part of 9/11 that seems to be unnecessarily transparent.

I think that the question to ask is not "why blow WTC 7?",

but "why blow WTC when they did?"

The 9/11 operation was incredibly complex and things went wrong, starting with planes that were delayed, this threw the timing off early on and they were working through their contingency plans throughout the day. This meant that it was not the smooth, seamless operation that it had been designed to be.

As for WTC 7, my working hypothesis is that they had to bring the Twin Towers down before they had planned to and were not yet ready to bring WTC 7 down while it was shrouded in dust or that the detonation system in WTC 7 failed the first time they tried to bring it down and it took hours to fix.

The 1993 WTC bombing and the Oklahoma City bombing gave them the opportunity to test their ability to control the investigations and the mainstream media reporting, so they were confident that they could cover their tracks adequately.

Of course the only way to really know is to get the complete and independent investigation we seek.

The truth shall set us free. Love is the only way forward.

I agree in regards

to a tendency to chalk up every questionable aspect to a deliberate intent.

OTOH, there are aspects of the MO that point to a transparent theory:

Vince Salandria:

I'm afraid we were misled. All the critics, myself included, were misled very early. I see that now. We spent too much time and effort microanalyzing the details of the assassination when all the time it was obvious, it was blatantly obvious that it was a conspiracy. Don't you think that the men who killed Kennedy had the means to do it in the most sophisticated and subtle way? They chose not to. Instead, they picked the shooting gallery that was Dealey Plaza and did it in the most barbarous and openly arrogant manner. The cover story was transparent and designed not to hold, to fall apart at the slightest scrutiny. The forces that killed Kennedy wanted the message clear: 'We are in control and no one - not the President, nor Congress, nor any elected official - no one can do anything about it.' It was a message to the people that their Government was powerless. And the people eventually got the message. Consider what has happened since the Kennedy assassination. People see government today as unresponsive to their needs, yet the budget and power of the military and intelligence establishment have increased tremendously.

Salandria speaking to Fonzi in The Last Investigation

«My husband (Ralph Schoenman) at the time...»

By the way, please take a look at one of Schoenman's contributions too:

A critical review of A Farewell to Justice

Please check out Jim DiEugenio's review of Mellen's book here:

This is from another proponent of conspiracy in the JFK assassination research community. He was at the conference as well.

How much should we read?

"We must face the fact -- not waste any more time microanalyzing the evidence. That's exactly what they want us to do. They have kept us busy for so long. And I will bet, buddy, that is what will happen to you. They'll keep you very, very busy and eventually, they'll wear you down."
Vincent Salandria to Gaeton Fonzi (
And this:
"What is the Goal in the 9/11 Truth Community? Debates, or Justice?" (
OK, I am afraid we can forget about justice as long as the money party rules. (
The empire is not democratic, let us face that. Some of the doublethink is due to people's illusions of democracy. We should fight against corruption and fascism and power abuse, but with not too many illusions.
I do also think that some of the point about all the silly theories (no planes, Illuminati, etc.), is not only to make us look silly, but also to wear us down by endless debates and speculation. Let's follow the advice of Arabesque et al. and focus on our best evidence.
I think we should restrict our reading a little bit, considering what will be useful and what superfluous. Jim DiEugenio has perhaps done something for us here. He has a list of Top Ten JFK Books:
I am not sure we need to read all ten, but considering that there is thousands of titles out there, it might be good to take advice by people like DiEugenio.