Sometime later, Jim Garrison took a long-distance call in his New Orleans office. The caller identified himself as the traveling representative of the Frontiers Publishing Company of Geneva. That firm had, the caller said, an important four volume original work on the Kennedy assassination which was about to be published in Europe. Would Mr. Garrison be interested in seeing the manuscript? Yeah, sure, send it, Garrison said, hanging up. Another nut.
The United States mails deposited a fat package in the New Orleans District Attorney's office. It contained three thick volumes of manuscript, each bound in black.
When this manuscript later emerged in book form, its title was Farewell America. The author, according to the book jacket, was James Hepburn, a thirty-four-year-old writer, former acquaintance of Jacqueline Bouvier, and former student at the London School of Economics and the Institute of Political Studies in Paris.
Garrison took one look, and called Ramparts to say that the Miracle of Fatima had occurred. Instead of a lovely lady, the creator had sent down something to read.
The next day a courier arrived from New Orleans lugging a Xerox of the sign from the KGB. It was a heavy sign: a thousand-odd pages of flawless typescript, as if part of an IBM demonstration at a convention of old-maid office managers, or from the Pope. Book manuscripts normally have at the minimum a few peanut butter and jelly stains on them, not to mention hen scratchings and other placental alterations. No author since the dawn of movable type has got himself together enough to dam the babbling brook of creativity, settle the last word and position the final comma, and then had the time or the money to completely and perfectly retype his manuscript before sending it to the publishers, or they to the printers. This masterpiece of the touch system was patently the product of some boiler-plate rewrite bank in the basement of an intelligence factory.
The content of the manuscript confirmed the validity of that superficial assessment of its origin. Garrison was amazed that the unheard-of Geneva publishing outfit had as well developed and documented a conspiracy theory as Garrison's own-with many of the same villains by name, and others of the same faces, but different aliases. The shock waves were equally as great at Ramparts. The mystery manuscript was as sprinkled with details as an ice cream cone dipped in chocolate jimmies. There were names and addresses, where relevant, about the clandestine operations of the Central Intelligence Agency. Much of the information was of the type that could only come from the CIA's own files or from the dossiers of a rival intelligence network. For instance, it was revealed that the CIA maintained a training center for saboteurs on Saipan Island in the Marianas, and that the Agency had exactly 28 agents in Iceland, working out of two offices, one at the American Embassy in Reykjavik, the other at the U.S. military base at Keflavik.
A Ramparts team of New Left researchers had been digging into the internal operations of the CIA for the better part of a year and had scavenged numerous scraps of available information, save whatever was tattooed on the inside of John McCone's belly button. A large part of the material in our files was unknown to the general press or public. But these manicured pages so inexplicably handed down from the mountain repeated, in a matter-of-fact manner, many of our zealously acquired CIA super secrets and revealed many more, all of which subsequently checked out. Whoever James Hepburn was, he had reliable sources of information about the inner workings of American intelligence.
The poop on the CIA was plotted in with the subtlety of a Vincent Price movie. The book's text gasped for breath as it crawled through hills and valleys created by mountainous footnotes, which were as jam-packed as a lifeboat with whole file drawers full of classified data. The manuscript revealed the locations of secret CIA schools for sabotage; exposed CIA-owned newspapers, radio stations and publishing houses in Cyprus, Beirut, Aden, Jordan, Kenya and other countries in Africa, the Middle East and the Far East; named the CIA's clandestine commercial "covers" in the United States, and recorded the Agency's role as co-director of the Eisenhower Administration, and examined its links-through Kermit Roosevelt in the fifties and John McCone in the sixties-to the oil industry. Among other epithets, the manuscript alleged that former "specialists" for the CIA's DCA (Department of Covert Activity) were members of an assassination "team" at Dallas.
Similar working details were disclosed about the KGB, the assessments being quite favorable. "In the domain of pure intelligence, the KGB is superior to the CIA." This supported our belief that the manuscript had been typed on Russian typewriters fitted with American characters.
Many sections of the book were non sequiturs which reminded me of Groucho Marx's line in Duck Soup: "A child of five would understand this. Send somebody to fetch a child of five." The gratuitous mention of a 1931 Paris detective story by an author who used the premonitory pseudonym "Oswald Dallas" made at least impish sense. But I couldn't figure the humor of numerous out-of-context references to Roy Cohn, the former boy witch hunter, whose selected quotations merited several vague footnotes with citations such as, "Roy Cohn, at the Stork Club in 1963."
Later, after we had gone scuba diving in the black waters of the manuscript's authorship, much of this strangeness was to be cleared up somewhat, as was the motivation behind a puzzling chapter alleging shocking Secret Service foul-ups which made the Dallas assassination almost a pushover. The critique amounted to a white paper on the deficiencies of the Secret Service, and was obviously prepared by someone very much on the Inside. There was a rather bitter attack on the competence of Kennedy White House aide Kenny O'Donnell, who supervised the security arrangements. The unsubstantiated attack made little sense as the mystery book went on to provide a lengthy analysis of the demonstrably superior security arrangements of other nations, particularly France and Russia, for protecting the lives of their chief executives. There was a puzzling hurrah for Daniel P. Moynihan, a professional thinker of moderate means, who so far as I knew had zero to do with guarding the President: "Only Daniel P. Moynihan, a former longshoreman, had some idea of such things."
The thesis of the mystery text was that of John F. Kennedy as the good guy-golden boy of American democracy, whose honest policies were so at odds with the power-mad and corrupt CIA and its billionaire oilmen kingmakers that he was accordingly snuffed. But by whom?
The three-volume manuscript was accompanied by a cryptic note: If we were interested in seeing the fourth volume, we should cable a law firm in Geneva, and arrangements would be made. An obvious deduction, Watson: The fourth volume would name the murderers.
We cabled. We waited. A week later Garrison telephoned: "You know that fourth volume? Well, it just walked in the door."
There was to be a further complication. The messenger who had arrived in New Orleans from Geneva did not have the final volume with him. We would have to send a representative to Geneva to inspect it in person.
At that, I began to wonder if this was a present from the KGB, or a booby trap from somebody else.
Garrison immediately dispatched an emissary to Geneva to collect the tainted goods. Selected for this delicate task was Steve Jaffe, the peach fuzz side of twenty-five, who had already established a reputation as a professional photographer and was envied by other assassination sleuths because he had credentials from Garrison authorizing him a special investigator for the District Attorney's office, and was so registered in Baton Rouge.
In Geneva, Jaffe discovered that the office of Frontiers Publishing was a desk in a large Swiss law firm that specialized in representing Swiss banks. The most concrete information the law firm would provide was that Frontiers was a Liechtenstein corporation. The real headquarters, Jaffe was told, were in Paris. Jaffe went to Paris.
The Paris editorial offices of the elusive Frontiers were in the modern offices of a famous international law firm. Nobody was minding the store but lawyers. It was explained to Jaffe that important "financial interests" were behind the publishing of the book. At one point, the smarmy suggestion was dropped that the Kennedy family itself had underwritten part of the costs.
Jaffe had been asked to interview the author, James Hepburn, and question him about his sources.
The answer came from Paris: It is impossible to meet the author. The author is a "composite."
As my friend Tupper Saussy, the composer, once wrote, "I turned on the Today show and wished it were yesterday." Additional communications across the Atlantic weaved back and forth like carrier pigeons drunk on elderberries. Such facts or suppositions of fact as emerged made only one thing clear to me: we were shadowboxing with a high-level intelligence operation-although no longer necessarily the KGB. French intelligence was suddenly in the running; even the ubiquitous CIA became suspect.
Farewell America was published in Germany, with fanfare but without the missing final volume, and became a moderate best seller. The phony book was syndicated in Bild, Germany's largest daily newspaper, which is owned by Axel Springer, who is not exactly a raving Bolshevik. Why would Springer authenticate such a KGB plant? The inevitable suspicion arose that this might be a triple-decker CIA cake with Ian Fleming icing to somehow entrap Ramparts.
Further investigation revealed that Frontiers Publishing Company of Vaduz, Liechtenstein, had never published a book before, and had no apparent plans to publish anything else in the future.
Farewell America was then published in France in a handsome edition by Frontiers. The review in L'Express was quoted on the book's jacket ". . . . the most violent indictment ever written by a man about his country, out of love for that country." Not a bad notice for a composite.
Jaffe reported that he had tracked down the publisher of Frontiers. He identified him as one Michel. According to the curriculum vitae supplied to Jaffe, Michel had been the publisher of a French women's magazine, in the early sixties. Before that, he had been a combat officer in the French army in Indochina, had studied at Harvard for a time, and had attended the French Diplomatic Training School. Jaffe said that Michel was the key to the preparation of the mystery book and added his opinion, which he said was not totally unconfirmed by Michel, that the "Publisher" was highly placed in French intelligence.
Whoever he was, the "Publisher" knew his way around the Elysee Palace.
When Jaffe asked him for some authentication of the material in the book, Michel whisked him into the Elysee Palace and into the private office of the Director of the French Secret Service, Andre Ducret.
Ducret was most gracious to the young American. He said that the Secret Service of France had indeed provided certain information for parts of Farewell America. He gave Jaffe photographs and diagrams hand-drawn on his personal stationery supplementing the criticisms of the American Secret Service made in the book. Ducret also told Jaffe that he had knowledge of the weapon that had actually been used in the Kennedy assassination-which was not the dime store rifle the Warren Commission said Oswald fired.
Jaffe asked the Secret Service head if there was any chance of getting a letter to General de Gaulle. Ducret said it was certainly possible, although he had no way of knowing if the General would have time to send an answer. Jaffe gave Ducret a letter stating the gist of his mission, and inquiring into whatever clarification was possible on the role of the French government in the publication of the book.
Ducret said he would personally take .Jaffe's letter to General de Gaulle. He returned about fifteen minutes later and handed Jaffe De Gaulle's engraved card, with a personal note scribbled on it: " GENERAL DE GAULLE, Je suis tres sensible a la, confiance que vous m'exprimez."
The head of the French Secret Service also told jaffe in so many words, just how important that he, too, thought both Jaffe's mission and Garrison's investigation were, and how France appreciated their efforts. Jaffe left the Elysee Palace, equally impressed and puzzled.
Michel indicated that the "documents" on which the book was based were locked up for safekeeping in a Liechtenstein bank vault. However, he said Jaffe was in luck as one of the sources, a French intelligence agent known as "Phillipe," was in town. Michel said that Phillipe had interviewed a member of the paramilitary sharp shooting team that had murdered Kennedy at Dealey Plaza. At midnight, Michel drove Jaffe to the Club Kama, a dingy Latin Quarter bar, to have a drink with the spook.
Phillipe spoke only in metaphor. Most of his metaphors were about the Hotel Luna in Mexico City, which he implied had-in the assassination year of 1963-a "Cuban band," whose musicians had dangerous "instruments."
Then Michel said there was just one little thing more before we got to see the fourth volume with the yellow pages listing Kennedy's murderers. Frontiers was anxious to publish Farewell America in America-and wanted Ramparts to publish it, just as Axel Springer had been so kind to have done in Germany.