Howard L. Brennan was standing at the corner of Houston and Elm facing the Texas Book Depository in Dealey Plaza when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Brennan claims he saw Lee Harvey Oswald at the window of the 6th Floor.
He later recalled: "My first instinct was to look back up to that man on the sixth floor... By now the motorcade was beginning to speed up and in only a couple of seconds the President's car had disappeared under the triple underpass. To my amazement the man still stood there in the window! He didn't appear to be rushed. There was no particular emotion visible on his face except for a slight smirk. It was a look of satisfaction, as if he had accomplished what he had set out to do."
Howard Brennan died in 1984. Three years later his account of the assassination, Eyewitness to History was published.
My first instinct was to look back up to that man on the sixth floor. "Was he going to fire again?" I wondered. By now the motorcade was beginning to speed up and in only a couple of seconds the President's car had disappeared under the triple underpass. To my amazement the man still stood there in the window! He didn't appear to be rushed. There was no particular emotion visible on his face except for a slight smirk. It was a look of satisfaction, as if he had accomplished what he had set out to do. He seemed pleased that no one had realized where the shots were coming from. Then he did something that puzzled me. Very slowly and deliberatley he set the rifle on its butt and just stayed there for a moment to savor what he had done, like a hunter who had "bagged his buck." Then, with no sense of haste, he simply moved slowly away from the window until he disappeared from my line of vision.
Files said he first met Lee Harvey Oswald in early 1963, in connection with gun-running, in Clinton, Louisiana, via David Atlee Phillips. Both were doing CIA work at the time. There was obviously some government involvement in the assassination, as otherwise they wouldn't have gotten the Secret Service identifications Ruby gave them. Phillips had given him the Remington Fireball for an earlier job.
Files said he saw Frank Sturgis among the crowd of people on Elm Street. He also saw Eugene Brading, whom he had seen at the Cabana with Nicoletti and Rosselli. Files knew Sturgis from anti-Castro activities, as did Rosselli. Files didn't see Oswald at all that day. He and Oswald never discussed the assassination plan.
He would not comment on the murder of J.D. Tippit, except to say that Oswald didn't kill Tippit, and the man who did was still alive at the time of the interview (a later reference possibly referring to the same man indicated he is now in his '80s), and had originally been assigned to kill Oswald. The man came to see Files in Mesquite after the assassination, saying there was a screwup and he had killed a cop...
Problems with the James Files "Confession":
(1) David Atlee Phillips, CIA propaganda expert, would seem an unlikely case officer for a Mob driver and hit man on No Name Key. This seems to be an attempt to tie Files credibly in with Oswald (the Veciana sighting in Dallas of Oswald and Phillips, as Bishop, together), but is doubtful. Also, although John Rosselli was active in Florida preparations for the Bay of Pigs, it is likely that someone other than Phillips introduced him to Files, if Files was at No Name Key. The only thing that sounds much like the real Phillips is the quote near the end about the power of the typewriter.
(2) Lee Harvey Oswald as tour guide.
(3) The plaid reversible coat and the bitten shell casing seem, on the surface, to provide confirmation, but both were details known prior to Files telling his story to anyone. I had heard about the shell well before Files says the fact that it was bitten was discovered (he says 1994). Some people seem to have confused the bitten casing found in the Plaza with the dented casing found in the Depository - these are two separate shell casings.
(4) In connection with Oswald, Clinton and gun-running, David Atlee Phillips again seems inserted artificially into the story here. Oswald and Ruby were both connected to New Orleans people involved in gun-running, but inserting Phillips into the Clinton story is, again, highly doubtful. This is not to say Phillips' role was an innocent one, just that Files seems to be inventing things, or perhaps he was fed inventions.
(5) Files overlooks the fact that the Elm Street crowd was well-photographed. Frank Sturgis was not among the crowd; nor at that point was Eugene Brading in that area; nor was Jack Ruby on the sidewalk below the knoll. None of this is difficult to check. All the relevant photos are in Groden and Trask.
(6) The Secret Service man on the knoll now becomes two men in suits turning people away. There were men turning people away in the area BEFORE the assassination, but not after. It sounds as though Files flubbed some of his borrowed details.
(7) He had documentary evidence, but he destroyed most of it. How convenient.
(8) My guess is that Files was, indeed, Charles Nicoletti's driver, and was involved in the preparations for the Bay of Pigs, but that he is also a good con artist, skillled at blending fact and fiction, which is what I believe he has done here.