Monday, November 22, 2010

From Kentucky to Kennedy

Today is the anniversary of the still-not-fully-explained assassination of John F. Kennedy.

And yes, you need not be a conspiracy-theory type to consider it not fully explained - we do not know and can never know what really motivated Lee Harvey Oswald to do what he did, nor what motivated Jack Ruby in turn to do what he did. Guy Banister died in 1964, David Ferrie in 1967, and Clay Shaw in 1974, so with every major player in the story dead, there's really no chance we can ever really know just what the hell really happened in America on this day in 1963, or why.

In 1979, the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) found both the original FBI investigation and the Warren Commission Report to be seriously flawed. The HSCA also concluded that there were at least four shots fired, that there was a "high probability" that two gunmen fired at the President, which therefore, by definition, is a conspiracy. After the HSCA findings, however, nothing further was done by law enforcement or congress. The Reagan administration didn't seem interested in reopening the case. (Perhaps not coincidentally, the Reagan administration also quashed serious organized crime investigations it had inherited from the Carter-era Justice Department.)

A couple years ago, I here examined allegations about David Ferrie and Jack Martin living in Louisville for a short time, supposedly on some sort of nefarious secret mission. Some say they were here as private investigators to expose a "phony priest" scam, while others maintain they they themselves were behind the scam all along. Knowing how these kinds of spooks work, it wouldn't surprise me if both stories were true - that Ferrie and Martin were double-dipping and getting funding to investigate a crime ring that they were actually members of.

Not much new info has come to light, at least from my meager efforts, since that blog post. Joan Mellen, in her JFK-conspiracy book A Farewell to Justice, takes some pains to drag an ex-CIA "flim flam artist" from Louisville named Thomas Edward Beckham (aka Eggleston Zimmerman) into the matter, but ends up with the same problem as those who investigated Ferrie and Martin - when you're dealing with shady characters like these, it's almost a given that the things they tell you are a mix of truth and lies, and it's up to you to sort them out like a bucket of nightcrawlers.

According to researcher Peter Levenda, Beckham was a Bishop in the Universal Life Church (you know, that bunch popular during the Vietnam War for conferring religious titles to anyone for a small donation) and was not only pals with Ferrie, Oswald and Banister, but with Fred Lee Crisman. Crisman is a bizarre figure who, like Kentuckian Alfred M. Hubbard, seemed to have a knack for being connected to more than his share of spooky goings-on. Crisman's name turns up in connection with The Shaver Mystery, the Maury Island UFO Incident, the "NASA, Nazis & JFK" Torbitt Document, and the totally mind-melting mess that was Inslaw, PROMIS, Kentuckian Charles Hayes, and the death of Danny Casolaro.

And then there's a man named Carl Stanley (aka "Saint Christopher Maria") who was born in Massachusetts in 1902, and died in Kentucky in 1967. Levenda again:

On January 11, 1941, however, and for reasons known only to him, Stanley enlisted in the Canadian Army for the duration of World War Two, being discharged on June 20, 1945 and becoming a Canadian citizen on August 5, 1946. He could not stay out of trouble in Canada, however, finding himself arrested once again this time in Ontario in 1947, receiving a six months’ suspended sentence for theft.

Then, in April of 1950, Stanley attempted to enter the United States via Miami, Florida and deportation proceedings began against him. He did not have a US passport or an immigrant’s visa. Since he was a naturalized Canadian citizen – even though he was born in the United States – and lied about his citizenship, the US government decided to deport him. Deportation procedures took a lot of time, but he was eventually deported on February 28, 1954, only to re-enter (illegally) in April of that year...

From 1964 to his death, he was a bishop of the newly-formed American Orthodox Catholic Church, having been consecrated by Bishop Earl Anglin James of Canada among others...Ferrie had been introduced to Stanley by Jack Martin, an investigator with Guy Banister’s detective agency in New Orleans. Martin has been portrayed as a hopeless drunk in Oliver Stone’s film of the assassination, and has been given short-shrift in other studies of the New Orleans connection. Martin himself ratted out Banister, Stanley and Ferrie to the FBI after the assassination when it became clear that District Attorney Jim Garrison was investigating the case. We should not take this all at face value, however, for Martin – even though he pretended to be investigating Carl Stanley – remained a bishop of the American Orthodox Catholic Church for many years after the assassination and until the day he died, even participating in the consecration of Thomas Jude Baumler – a self-admitted fascist and attorney who also worked briefly as an investigator for Guy Banister and as a New Orleans politician in his own right – as late as 1974.

Martin first attempted to have David Ferrie consecrated by another bishop on the East Coast, but the bishop felt that there was something “unholy” about Ferrie, and he declined. Ferrie then went on to Stanley where he was more successful. This occurs in the three year period before the Kennedy assassination.

Then something strange happened.

Immediately after the assassination of President Kennedy in November of 1963, Stanley himself alerted authorities that he thought David Ferrie and Jack Martin were involved. This was what prompted the entire investigation into both Ferrie and the wandering bishops that became the crux (no Latin puns intended) of the Garrison investigation. Why would Stanley have done this? Spite is one possibility, for if Martin’s statements to the authorities are true – and that’s a big “if” – then Stanley had reason to go after Martin since Martin was “investigating” him.

Carl Stanley died in Louisville of an apparent heart attack on March 8, 1967 - just a few days after Garrison arrested Clay Shaw and made a noisy spectacle about how he was about to crack the JFK case wide open.

Does your head hurt yet? Mine sure does. Such is the way of the endless hedge maze that is the JFK conspiracy. Better minds than ours have burned out their brains and devoted their entire lifetime to the matter, convinced that it's a solvable problem and that it must be solved. I say, just enjoy the ride - and it is just a ride. No one understood this more than John Kennedy himself, from the way he lived to, literally, the way he died.

1 comment:

Melissa said...

The fictionalized (?) assassination scene in Wilson/Shea's Illuminatus! Trilogy is one of those brilliant moments where an author made something funny (and/or inextricably weighted in destiny) which I thought never could be. But reading this post, I wonder if they might not have been closer to the truth than I ever suspected.

Perhaps I am naive, but I still feel President Kennedy's death cheated us all. On the 'why?' I lean toward the William Cooper camp, but there would be some satisfaction in knowing. Or, at least, I think so . . .