Fensterwald graduated from Harvard Law School in 1949. He entered the Georgetown University School of Advanced International Studies, a private institution, and received an M.A. in 1950. From 1951 to 1956 Fensterwald worked for the State Department as an Assistant Legal Advisor. This included defending State Department employees accused by Joseph McCarthy of being members of the American Communist Party.
In 1957 Fensterwald was hired by Thomas C. Hennings as an investigator for the Senate Committee on Constitutional Rights. Later that year Fensterwald visited the Soviet Union. According to Alan Weberman on his return the FBI stated, "Fensterwald has gone out of his way to be helpful."
Fensterwald also worked as a foreign policy advisor to Estes Kefauver. On March 12, 1961, Fensterwald became an investigator for the Senate Antitrust and Monopoly Subcommittee that was headed by Kefauver. However the two men fell out and later that year Kefauver sacked Fensterwald.
Edward V. Long selected Fensterwald as his Chief Counsel when he had been accused of being corruptly involved with Jimmy Hoffa. The two men lived in the same apartment building in Washington. Long was also connected to Robert Maheu and Sam Giancana.
In 1967 Long was called before the Senate Ethics Committee and questioned about his connections to Hoffa. As a result of this investigation Long was forced to resign in December 1968. Long's book, The Intruders, was dedicated to Fensterwald.
Fensterwald became involved with Jim Garrison and his investigation of the John F. Kennedy assassination. In January 1969, Fensterwald joined forces with Richard E. Sprague to form the Committee To Investigate Assassinations, which was mainly concerned with finding the people responsible for killing Kennedy. As a result of the investigation Fensterwald and Michael Ewing co-authored Assassination of JFK: Coincidence or Conspiracy.
In 1974 Richard Case Nagell employed Fensterwald as his lawyer. In September, 1963, Nagell had walked into a bank in El Paso, Texas, and fired two shots into the ceiling and then waited to be arrested. Nagell claimed he did this to isolate himself from the assassination plot. This was successful and Nagell was charged with armed robbery and ended up spending the next five years in prison.
On his release Nagell told Jim Garrison about his knowledge of the assassination of John F. Kennedy . He claimed that David Ferrie, Guy Banister, and Clay Shaw were involved in this plot with Lee Harvey Oswald. However, Garrison decided against using him as a witness in the court-case against Shaw.
Fensterwald employed Lou Russell as a private detective to help him with some of his legal cases. One of Russell's first tasks was to investigate the journalist Jack Anderson. Russell also purchased $3,000 in electronic eavesdropping equipment from John Leon of Allied Investigators. Russell's friend, Charles F. Knight, was told that this equipment had been purchased for James W. McCord. At the time, Russell also did part-time work for McCord. This equipment was used to tape the telephone conversations between politicians based at the Democratic Party National Committee and a small group of prostitutes run by Phillip Mackin Bailley that worked their trade in the Columbia Plaza.
On 16th June, 1972, Lou Russell spent time at his daughter's house in Benedict, Maryland. That evening Russell traveled to Washington and spent between 8.30 until 10.30 p.m. in the Howard Johnson's Motel. This was the motel where those involved in the Watergate burglary were staying. However, Russell later told FBI agents that he did not meet his employer, James W. McCord, at the motel. Russell then said he drove back to his daughters in Maryland.
Soon after midnight Russell told his daughter he had to return to Washington to do "some work for McCord" that night. It was estimated that he arrived back at the Howard Johnson's Motel at around 12.45 a.m. At 1.30 a.m. Russell had a meeting with McCord. It is not clear what role Russell played in the Watergate break-in. Jim Hougan has suggested that he was helping McCord to "sabotage the break-in".
Later that night Frank Sturgis, Virgilio Gonzalez, Eugenio Martinez, Bernard L. Barker and James W. McCord were arrested while in the Democratic Party headquarters in Watergate. McCord employed Fensterwald as his lawyer.
On 21st December, 1972, James W. McCord wrote a letter to Jack Caulfield: " Sorry to have to write you this letter but felt you had to know. if Helms goes, and if the WG (Watergate) operation is laid at the CIA's feet, where it does not belong, every tree in the forest will fall. It will be a scorched desert. The whole matter is at the precipice right now. Just pass the message that if they want it to blow, they are on exactly the right course. I'm sorry that you will get hurt in the fallout.”
Caulfield was unable to persuade Richard Nixon to leave the CIA alone. On 30th January, 1973, McCord, Gordon Liddy, Frank Sturgis, E. Howard Hunt, Virgilio Gonzalez, Eugenio Martinez, and Bernard L. Barker were convicted of conspiracy, burglary and wiretapping.
In February, 1973, Richard Helms was sacked by Nixon. The following month James W. McCord carried out his threat. On 19th March, 1973, McCord wrote a letter to Judge John J. Sirica claiming that the defendants had pleaded guilty under pressure (from John Dean and John N. Mitchell) and that perjury had been committed.
James W. McCord also gave more details about Operation Gemstone. In a statement given to Sam Ervin on 20th May he claimed that there was a plot to steal certain documents from the safe of Hank Greenspun, the editor of the Las Vegas Sun. According to McCord, the plot was organized by John N. Mitchell, Gordon Liddy and E. Howard Hunt were to carry out the break-in and that people connected to Howard Hughes were to supply them with a getaway plane.
In 1974 McCord published a book on his involvement in Watergate, A Piece of Tape - The Watergate Story: Fact and Fiction. McCord claimed that Dorothy Hunt told him that her husband, E. Howard Hunt, had "information which would impeach the President (Nixon)". McCord also wrote: "The Watergate operation was not a CIA operation. The Cubans may have been misled by others into believing that it was a CIA operation. I know for a fact that it was not."
In April 1973, Lou Russell suffered a heart attack. However, despite being unable to work, James W. McCord continued to pay him as an employee of Security International. Russell did not have a bank account and Fensterwald paid his cheques into his Committee to Investigate Assassinations.
Another of Fensterwald's famous client was James Earl Ray, the man who had been found guilty of killing Martin Luther King. In June 1974 Fensterwald filed a motion to grant Ray a new trial on the basis of alleged collusion between his former attorney and the author William Bradford Huie. In 1976 Ray dismissed Fensterwald as his lawyer. Fensterwald also represented Andrew St. George.
On 24th September, 1978, John Paisley, the former CIA official, took a trip on his motorized sailboat on Chesapeake Bay. Two days later his boat was found moored in Solomons, Maryland. Paisley's body was found in Maryland's Patuxent River. The body was fixed to diving weights. He had been shot in the head. Police investigators described it as "an execution-type murder". However, officially Paisley's death was recorded as a suicide. In June 1979 Fensterwald represented Paisley's family but was unable to solve the case.
According to Robert D. Morrow, Fensterwald in February, 1991 arranged "to interview an Air Force colonel... who I had identified as the possible bagman (responsible for paying the conspirators) for the JFK assassination". Morrow told Gus Russo that "Bud is going to get himself killed" if he went ahead with this interview.
On April 2, 1991, Bernard Fensterwald, 69, died of a heart attack at his home in Alexandria, Virginia. Robert D. Morrow is convinced he was murdered but his wife insists he died of natural causes.
Almost immediately after the issuance of the Warren Report, a spate of books and articles appeared which disputed the. Commissions basic conclusions. Many of the more responsible ones, including Sylvia' Meagher's Accessories After the Fact and Josiah Thompson's Six Seconds in Dallas, clearly demond strafed the physical impossibility of the "single' bullet" theory and the improbability of many of the other basic conclusions and remarked upon the almost endless number of strange "connections" and "leads" which were ignored by the Commission in a desireto make the facts fit their conclusions...
More recently, there have been a number of further reviews of the Warren Commission's conclusion. There was a complete whitewash of them in 1974, conducted by the so-called Rockefeller Commission; under the tutelage of David Belin, formerly counsel to the Warren Commission. Representative Don Edwards of California held hearings on the FBI's destruction of crucial evidence in the case: The Senate Intelligence Committee, chaired by Senator Frank Church, conducted an investigation of the CIA-Mafia plots against the Castro brothers and concluded that all of the facts surrounding the plots were wrongfully withheld from the Warren Commission. A subcommittee of the Church Committee, consisting of Senators Richard Schweiker and Gary Hart, conducted. a preliminary survey into the quebtioning of CIA-FBI cooperation (or lack thereof) with the Warren Commission, and they concluded that many leads were not followed and much information was withheld.
One of the major problems confronting investigators of the JFK murder is the unavailability of crucial documentary evidence. President Johnson began the process of hiding the evidence when he signed an executive order in 1965 which provided that all of the Warren Commission's materials would be kept in the National Archives but which also permitted the various government agencies, such as the CIA and FBI, to require the continual classification until the year 2039 of their records which had gone to the Commission.
The Senate investigators finally established that FBI Director Hoover not only had prepared secret "derogatory dossiers" on the critics of the Warren Commission over the years, but had even ordered the preparation of similar "damaging" reports about staff members of the Warren Commission. Whether FBI Director Hoover intended to use these dossiers for purposes of blackmail has never been determined.
Although it was not until eleven years after the murder of John F. Kennedy that the FBI's crude harassment and surveillance of various assassination researchers and investigators became officially documented, other information about it had previously surfaced.
Mark Lane, the long time critic of the Warren Report has often spoken of FBI harassment and surveillance directed against him. While many observers were at first skeptical about Lane's characteristically vocal allegations against the FBI, the list of classified Warren Commission documents that was later released substantiated Lane's charges, as it contained several FBI files about him. Lane had earlier uncovered a February 24, 1964 Warren Commission memorandum from staff counsel Harold Willens to General Counsel J. Lee Rankin. The memorandum revealed that FBI agents had Lane's movements and lectures under surveillance, and were forwarding their reports to the Warren Commission.
In March, 1967, the official list of secret Commission documents then being held in a National Archives vault included at least seven FBI files on Lane, which were classified on supposed grounds of "national security." Among these secret Bureau reports were the following: Warren Commission Document 489, "Mark Lane, Buffalo appearances;" Warren Commission Document 694, "Various Mark Lane appearances;" Warren Commission Document 763, "Mark Lane appearances;" and Warren Commission Document 1457, "Mark Lane and his trip to Europe."
In at least one documented instance, the CIA had been equally avid in "compiling" information on another critic, the noted European writer Joachim Joesten, who had written an early "conspiracy theory" book, titled Oswald: Assassin or Fall Guy (Marzani and Munsell Publishers, Inc., 1964, West Germany). A Warren Commission file (Document 1532), declassified years later, revealed that the CIA had turned to an unusual source in their effort to investigate Joesten. According to the document, which consists of a CIA memorandum of October 1, 1964, written by Richard Helms' staff, the CIA conducted a search of some of Adolph Hitler's Gestapo files for information on Joesten.
Joachim Joesten, an opponent of the Hitler regime in Germany, was a survivor of one of the more infamous concentration camps. The Helms memorandum reveals that Helms' CIA aides had compiled information on Joesten's alleged political instability - information taken from Gestapo security files of the Third Reich, dated 1936 and 1937. In one instance, Helms' aides had used data on Joesten which had been gathered by Hitler's Chief of S.S. on November 8, 1937. While the CIA memorandum did not mention it, there was good reason for the Third Reich's efforts to compile a dossier on Joesten. Three days earlier, on November 5, 1937, at the infamous "Hossbach Conference," Adolph Hitler had informed Hermann Goering and his other top lieutenants of his plan to launch a world war by invading Europe."
In late 1975, during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing that featured the questioning of top FBI officials, Senator Richard Schweiker disclosed other secret FBI surveillance of Warren Commission critics. Senator Schweiker disclosed new information from a November 8, 1966 memorandum by J. Edgar Hoover, relating to other dossiers on the critics. According to Schweiker, "Seven individuals [were] listed, some of their files... not only included derogatory information, but sex pictures to boot.
During the Senate Committee session, Schweiker also disclosed that "we came across another FBI letter several months later on another of the critic's personal files. I think it is January 30, 1967. Here, almost three months apart, is an ongoing campaign to personally derogate people who differed politically. In this case it was the Warren Commission [critics].
As will be seen in the chapter on "Links to Watergate," copies - of the FBI's "derogatory dossier" on another leading Warren Commission critic, associated with Mark Lane, were later distributed through the Nixon White House by secret Nixon investigator John Caulfield, John Dean, and H. R. Haldeman's top aides.
Still further information relating to FBI-CIA surveillance of the Warren Commission critics was disclosed in January, 1975 by Senator Howard Baker and the New York Times. On January 17, 1975, the Times disclosed that Senator Baker had come across an extensive CIA dossier on Bernard Fensterwald, Jr., the Director of the Committee to Investigate Assassinations, during the course of Baker's service on the Senate Watergate Committee. Senator Baker was then probing various areas of CIA involvement in the Watergate conspiracy. The New York Times reported that Baker believed the dossier on Fensterwald indicated that the Agency was conducting domestic activities or surveillances - prohibited by the Agency charter's ban on domestic involvement.
Among the items contained in the CIA dossier on Fensterwald was an Agency report of May 12, 1972 titled "#553 989." The CIA report indicated that this detailed surveillance was conducted under the joint auspices of the CIA and the Washington, D. C. Metropolitan Police Intelligence Unit. D. C. Police involvement with the CIA, which in some cases was illegal, subsequently erupted into a scandal which resulted in an internal police investigation in 1975 and 1976, as well as a Congressional investigation.
In the mid-1960's Senator Edward V. Long was approached by Teamster Union boss James Hoffa, who was shopping for a congressional committee to investigate the tactics of United States Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy. Jimmy Hoffa was intent on retaliating against United States Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy for having exposed the connections of the Teamsters Union to organized crime, and for having indicted him on wiretapped evidence. Senator Edward V. Long agreed to take up Jimmy Hoffa's fight against Robert F. Kennedy's alleged violations of civil liberties - for a price.
Senator Edward V. Long was connected to Jimmy Hoffa through Attorney Morris Shenker, who worked on a five-figure retainer for Jimmy Hoffa. Senator Edward V. Long had received $48,000 from Morris Shenker for having referred Jimmy Hoffa to him. Senator Edward V. Long admitted living in the same Washington, D.C., apartment building as Jimmy Hoffa and said he had met him on several occasions.
Senator Edward V. Long selected Bernard Fensterwald as his Chief Counsel. Bernard Fensterwald was described as a heavy John F. Kennedy financial supporter who harbored a grudge against the Kennedys for having failed to give him the Ambassadorial post he had coveted. Bernard Fensterwald demanded the FBI reveal the names of organized crime figures who were the Subjects of mail covers.
Senator Edward V. Long planned to call Robert Maheu to testify about invasions of privacy by private investigators. The CIA feared that its involvement with Robert Maheu and Johnny Rosselli would have surfaced during these hearings. The CIA reported: "Upon notification for appearance before the Subcommittee, Mr. Maheu contacted his attorney, Edward Morgan of Washington, D.C. Mr. Morgan in turned contacted Mr. Morris Shenker, an attorney in Saint Louis, Missouri, who personally knows Senator Edward V. Long. It is reported that a meeting was arranged to discuss the appearance of Mr. Maheu before the Subcommittee which meeting was attended by Senator Long, his staff assistant Mr. Bernard Fensterwald (who is performing the staff work for the Subcommittee hearings) Mr. Morgan and Mr. Shenker."
On June 6, 1966, Robert Maheu told Director of Assistant Deputy Director of Security, (IOS) James P. O'Connell, that he got "the impression from Morgan, who is still dealing with the Saint Louis attorney, a personal friend of Senator Long, that the Committee has done some additional checking, and earlier information regarding Maheu's activities may not be as solid as earlier believed. I next asked Robert Maheu if Bernard Fensterwald had actually identified Sam Giancana, Onassis, Niarchus etc. by name as he had previously indicated to Colonel Sheffield Edwards and myself. He replied in the affirmative, and speculated that this convinced him someone has been 'talking.' He conjectured that several people knew about the bug on Onassis's New York office, including Taggart who, to date, has not contacted him. (Deleted) former CIA employee, and a John Geraghty (phonetic), a free lance newspaperman who was employed by him at the time. In the case of Sam, Ed Dubois and a couple of his technicians were aware of Maheu's tie-in with Giancanna. While Bob was not identified in the press as being involved, he was definitely linked as a result of the technicians identified in the press as being involved, he was definitely linked as a result of the technician, who, when arrested and detained at the Sheriff's office in Las Vegas, failing to locate Dubois, telephoned Maheu directly at the Kennelworth Hotel, Miami Beach, in the presence of Sheriff's personnel, to advise him of his compromise. According to Maheu, neither Dubois nor his employees, were aware of the true relationship between Maheu and Sam." The CIA then reported: "According to Maheu, Shenker has some strong hold on Senator Long and also has Bernard Fensterwald indebted to him as he got Fensterwald his job...Maheu claims that this case could be "closed-up" if we merely approach Senator Long, and say that the questioning of Maheu might be harmful to the national security. He implies that while Senator Long has agreed not to call him, the Senator is looking for something on which to base this decision and our approach would be sufficient to clinch the situation." The CIA felt "...Fensterwald will approach us about any problem areas from our point of view." [CIA Memo DD/CIA from Houston 6.21.66]
The CIA reported: "In 1966 information was received by the Agency indicating that the Senate Administrative Practices Subcommittee, under the chairmanship of Senator Edward Long, had advised Maheu that his testimony was desired concerning his relationship with Onassis, Savros Niarchos, Sam Giancanna and (Deleted). The Subcommittee interest was invasion of privacy and particularly the use of audio devices by private investigators. In July 1966, Senator Long was alerted to the fact that the Agency had had sensitive operational contacts with Maheu. Senator Long was told that the Agency had used Maheu over the years, on a number of occasions, but that he never had been asked to engage in any wiretapping and had never engaged in any such activities on our behalf. Office of Security files do not indicate whether or not Maheu did appear before this Subcommittee, although it appears that he did not."
Robert Maheu never testified. The subcommittee held widely publicized hearings and damaged Robert F. Kennedy, but not the CIA. The CIA compiled a dossier on Senator Edward V. Long.
The Internal Revenue Service leaked word of Morris Shenker's payment to Senator Edward V. Long to William Lambert of Life magazine. When William Lampert's piece appeared, Bernard Fensterwald came to the defense of Senator Edward V. Long. The FBI stated: "A review of data regarding certain of Long's legal clients (deleted) shows connections with the hoodlum element and activities of questionable legality." (FBI 92-6054-2227) In January 1975 Bernard Fensterwald testified on behalf of Morris Shenker at a Hearing of the Gaming Control Board in Nevada.
In 1967 Senator Edward V. Long was called before the Senate Ethics Committee and questioned about his connections to Jimmy Hoffa. In 1967 Frederick Praeger published The Intruders by Senator Edward V. Long. The book was dedicated to Fensterwald. Senator Edward V. Long was forced to resign in December 1968. The government service of Bernard Fensterwald ended with the downfall of Senator Edward V. Long. (FBI WFO 112697-1; NYT 3.28.73)
Committee Vice Chairman Rep. Henry Gonzalez, the Texas Democrat who introduced the first resolution calling for an assassination inquiry, has privately voiced his strong opposition to Fensterwald having any role on the committee, even as an unofficial advisor... In a telephone interview Fensterwald first acknowledged that he had connections with the CIA and then scoffed at the suggestion. 'I am on the payroll,' he said. However, when pressed, he said he had 'nothing to do with the CIA. There us absolutely no reason to think I am a member of the CIA, absolutely no vestige of evidence of any kind.
Michael J. Satchell: "The Committee To Investigate Assassinations has long been suspected by some people of being somehow connected with the CIA and you yourself being labeled possibly a CIA agent or CIA plant. Are you in fact a CIA agent of any sort?"
Bernard Fensterwald: "No, I'm a full-time lawyer. Neither I, nor my partner, have ever been affiliated with the CIA, or worked for the CIA ,either with, or without, pay in any way, shape or form. I have no idea where the rumor started. I don't know anyone that knows anything about my history that has ever made such an accusation. On the converse side, going back to the early 1960's, when I worked for the Senate, as counsel for one of its committees, I did an investigation on the CIA, and since then I have represented a number of clients in cases against the CIA, to the extent that if there's any evidence at all, it points in the other direction."
A few days after the August 6, 1990, news conference, a friend of mine noticed a document in the office of Bud Fensterwald, who was the head of the Assassination Archives Records Center in Washington. Fensterwald had a report on his desk, an interview that had been conducted by Kevin Walsh with a man named Philip Jordan. Philip Jordan was the mysterious Mr. X who Ricky White kept referring to. Philip Jordan was in a position to know whether that story was true or not, and what he told Kevin Walsh was the story was not true. Yet Fensterwald and others stood by as Ricky White claimed that his father killed Kennedy. It is just absolutely outrageous to me that these kind of things go on.
I am not sure there can be legislation to prevent it, but if that is part of your work, I would very, very highly, strongly urge you to come up with some legislation that would provide some criminal penalties for these people who come up with these phony stories.
According to Alch, he first met Fensterwald at a meeting with McCord on March 23. At that meeting Fensterwald turned to McCord, saying, "The reporters have been asking me whether or not you or I had ever had any past relationship. I told them that we had." McCord, according to Alch, "looked up with a surprised expression.
"Well, after all," Fensterwald said, "you have, in the past, submitted to me checks which were donations to the Committee for Investigation of the Assassination of the President." Mr. McCord smiled and said, "Oh, yes, that's right."
In fact, McCord does not seem to have made any such "donations." As Fensterwald recalls, he sometimes converted to cash Lou Russell's payroll checks from McCord Associates. He did so, he says, as a favor to Russell, a sometime employee of Fensterwald's. This was necessary, according to the lawyer, because Russell did not himself have a bank account, and so had trouble cashing his checks from McCord. In the course of translating McCord's checks into cash on Russell's behalf, Fensterwald would deposit them in his own personal account or, on occasion, to an account belonging to the Committee to Investigate Assassinations. The practice involved an estimated six to ten checks, and had been current at the time of the Watergate arrests.
In the context of McCord's dramatic turnabout and whispers suggesting that Fensterwald was himself a deep-cover CIA agent,' the affair was at once complicated and controversial. No one could be certain precisely what the matter involved. On the one hand, it appeared that Russell, or McCord, was a "contributor" to the Committee to Investigate Assassinations-if true, an exotic interest for a Nixon security agent such as McCord. On the other hand, Fensterwald's explanation suggested that there had been an exchange of checks for the simple convenience of Lou Russell-that is to say, it was "a wash" without being "a laundry." In the climate of the time, however, there were some who voiced the opinion that the checkcashing procedure meant that Russell was actually in the employ of Fensterwald while technically on the payroll of McCord and working at the Committee to Re-elect the President.
The Senate did its best to learn the truth, questioning both Alch and Fensterwald, but proved unable to resolve the matter. Indeed, Senate questioning served only to deepen the mystery. In its interrogation of Russell's patron, William Birely, the Senate inquired about Russell's financial condition. Despite the detective's full-time employment by McCord, and his occasional work for other clients, he appeared to have been in a state of virtual poverty until Birely's intervention after the Watergate arrests, whereupon, as we have seen, Russell's material condition improved by quantum leaps. In November 1972, three days after Nixon's election, Russell purchased more than $4,000 in stock of the Thurmont Bank, a bank in which Birely was then a director. Five months later, on March 23, 1973, Russell purchased an additional 274 shares in the Thurmont Bank, paying for them with a check in the amount of $20,745. A few days later, Russell sold those same shares at a profit of $2,445. The first transaction had been handled by Birely's son-in-law, and the second by Birely himself. Birely insisted that the transactions were entirely lawful, and perhaps they were. What was more to the point, however, was the question of Russell's sudden wealth-and the disappearance of that money upon his death. Senate investigators privately concluded that Russell had served as a "straw man" in the stock transactions and that the money had not in fact been his own. They were convinced that the matter was somehow connected to Russell's relationship with McCord, but no one could say just how. In the confusion, the investigators appear to have overlooked a startling coincidence: the improbable stock transaction, involving more than $zo,ooo that Russell plainly did not have, took place on March 23, 1973, the same day that James McCord's Watergate-busting letter to Judge Sirica was made public in open court.
When McCord came out with the March 19 letter to Sirica he simultaneously dropped Alch and picked up a new lawyer, Bernard Fensterwald. Fensterwald is a subcanyon in the McCord sidecanyon and I do not mean to guess what one might come upon at the end of it, but it is worthy of brief, reconnaissance.
The given version is that McCord got to know about Fensterwald when Fensterwald appeared as a volunteer in the bail-raising committee run by'McCord's wife, Ruth. This committee was active in December when McCord was first considering making his move against Alch, and Fensterwald was working with it at that time.
Fensterwald is a serious figure in assassination conspiracy research circles. He was the founder, main moneybags, and only executive officer of a small Washington organization set up in 1969 called the Committee to Investigate Assassinations. Fensterwald was more or less closely associated with New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison. Garrison was at that moment well embarked on a legal campaign against the late Clay Shaw that actually threatened to expose in open court a real corner of the Kennedy assassination cabal and its strange CIA ties. Fensterwald's committee was presumably formed as a kind of PR instrument of Garrison's operation at a moment when the chances seemed strong that Garrison would actually win a conviction - and from it, a string of convictions ultimately exposing the truth of Dallas.
But long after the Garrison campaign was crushed, Fensterwald kept the CTIA open. Out front, it existed to collect and selectively spread information on the assassinations of JFK, RFK, and King. Before it folded in 1975, the CTIA maintained relationships, generally based on information, not politics, with many of the small band of writers, investigators, and random eccentrics who got actively drawn into the puzzle of the presidential assassinations. Fensterwald is also attorney of record in James Earl Ray's suit for a new trial in the King case. He was alongside Andrew St. George when St. George appeared before an executive session of Symington's Senate Armed Forces Committee growing out of his Harper's piece to which we have several times referred. He was a State Department lawyer for six years (Harvard 1942, Harvard Law 1949) with a minor role in the Joe McCarthy drama. He was briefly attached to RFK's staff then and more extensively later in the RFK-vs.Hoffa phase. He worked for Kefauver's anticrime committee in the 1950s. He reputedly has independent means through a family business in Nashville and is something of a political adventurer with a penchant for cases involving the hypothesis of conspiracy.
The scent of a prior relationship and a larger purpose shared between.McCord and Fensterwald first arose when McCord's CREEP lawyer, Alch, came before Ervin on May 23, 1973, to defend himself against McCord's testimony that Alch had tried to involve McCord in a conspiracy to obstruct justice and hang the CIA for Watergate and so save Nixon.
At no time," said Alch, "did I suggest to Mr. McCord that the so-called CIA defense be utilized for the defense... I merely asked him whether or not there was a factual basis for this contention. Mr. McCord's allegation that I announced my .ability to forge his CIA personnel record's with the cooperation of then acting CIA Director Schlesinger is absurd and completely untrue."
Thus secured as to salient, Alch marched to the front attack. The hearts of conspiracy nuts everywhere beat faster : as they heard at last one of their own questions about, Watergate actually being popped in prime time, for Alch was asking what our friend Fensterwald was doing suddenly at the side of McCord...
Alch told the senators that Fensterwald had volunteered to him the information that Fensterwald and McCord had "a past relationship" going before Watergate. Alch said Fensterwald referred to contributions, in fact, that McCord had made to the CTIA. What could be going on?
Two days after Alch told the world this story I visited the 'dilapidated downtown Washington office of Fensterwald's CTIA and tried to get some reaction to Alch's testimony' from Fensterwald's (then) aide and office manager Bob Smith, a small, overwrought, pale, exasperated man of middle age, who was sarcastic and impatient with the idea of a prior McCord-Fensterwald relationship or that something between them might be hidden. Then what about the contributions Alch says Fensterwald says McCord made to, the CTIA? Were there any such contributions? To my surprise, Smith sputtered and said that there were of course no contributions, but that there had been certain irrelevant, money transactions involving McCord, Fensterwald, and the CTIA going back well before Watergate.
Smith's story was that Fensterwald's old friend Russell materialized in McCord's ambit when he was hired by McCord's Security International to help handle convention security on contract to the Republican National Committee. When Russell found it difficult to cash his paychecks from McCord's security firm, said Smith, he got into the habit of bringing them around to Fensterwald's office at the CTIA. . Russell would sign his McCord check over to the CTIA and Fensterwald would write him a personal check for the like ' amount, which Russell could then easily cash around the corner at Fensterwald's bank. Russell brought the first such check around, recalled Smith, in March 1972. The practice was current as of Watergate. There were, as Smith remembered, about a dozen such checks. The larger, he thought, were for about $500.
Lou Russell was in the Howard Johnson Motel at the very time of the Watergate break-in. He lied to the FBI, about why he was there. Someone set him up after that in a penthouse with a car. He lived on Q St. 7 or 8 blocks from Fensterwald's office when he started exchanging checks in March 1972. He worked for General Security Services Co., which was protecting Watergate at the time of the break-in. Lou Russell was Nixon's chief investigator when Dirty Dick went after Hiss. Nixon - knew Russell very well.
We come now to a man who died under extremely suspicious circumstancesright in the midst of the House Assassinations Committee's investigation. Early in October 1978 I received a clipping from Richard Nagell in the mail. It was from the front page of the October 3 Los Angeles Herald-Examiner and headlined "CIA Mystery Death-Ex-Deputy Director's Body Found Floating in Bay." The subject was John Arthur Paisley, then fifty-five, whose decomposed torso had floated into the mouth of Maryland's Patuxent River and been discovered by a passing pleasure boat. The body, allegedly identified as Paisley's through dental records, was affixed to diving weights. There was a bullet wound in his head, with police investigators speculating on either a suicide "or an execution-type murder." Paisley had last been seen alive aboard his motorized sailboat the Brillig on Chesapeake Bay on September 24. The boat was found aground near his home mooring in Solomons, Maryland, the day after that.
Below the headlines about Paisley, Nagell had inscribed a typed message: "Was he nash? He was nash!" Nagell had drawn a box around one sentence in the article: "Paisley, who lived in Washington, retired in 1974 as deputy director of the CIA's Office of Strategic Research."
Only a few months before this, I had been sitting with Nagell in a West Los Angeles bar when he suddenly said, "Do you know what 'nash' means? The Russians used to use that phrase. It meant he was 'ours' and nobody else's.
When I mentioned "nash" to a couple of sources familiar with the intelligence community, they expressed surprise that I had even heard the term, but reiterated the Russian meaning. Now, in sending the clipping, Nagell appeared to be revealing that John Paisley was "nash" - a Soviet spy inside the CIA.
Officially, Paisley's death was ruled a suicide. But speculation about the activities of this hitherto-publicly unknown CIA official would be rampant among the media in the months ahead. At the time he disappeared, Paisley had been working under a CIA contract to coordinate a Top-Secret government reevaluation of Soviet strategic capabilities and intentions. Now there were grave questions about the sophisticated communications equipment on his boat designed for secret transmissions, and about Paisley's earlier role in the CIA's debriefings of Soviet defectors.
Paisley's widow, Maryann, decided to hire a lawyer to "find out what really happened to my husband." Her choice was Bernard Fensterwald, Jr. Fensterwald had a reputation for taking on controversial cases and clients (including Nagell and Watergate burglar McCord), and I had no reason to suspect that this was anything other than part of his penchant for rattling the skeletons in the CIA's closets.
According to Robert Morrow, Bud Fensterwald was another suspicious death. On page 300 of his book First Hand Knowlege, Morrow wrote that Gus Russo had been interviewing a former Air Force Colonel in Florida whom Morrow had identified as "a possible CIA bag-man in the (JFK) conspiracy." Russo felt that "the man was ready to talk about the assassination," and based on this assessment Fensterwald was planning to go to Florida and interview the Colonel. Morrow warned both Russo and Fensterwald that Fensterwald would be killed if he tried to interview the man. Russo believed him, but Fensterwald laughed it off and asked Morrow to set up a luncheon date with the Colonel. Morrow set up the luncheon for April 11, 1991. "Just days before I was to meet Bud," Morrow says, "I received a call from Bud's secretary that he had died the previous night. Before I could do anything, Bud's body was cremated and an autopsy had not been performed."
Who was the Air Force Colonel in Florida whom Fensterwald was dying to interview? Morrow doesn't name him in the book, but says he was "a good friend and former business associate of Col. Howard Burris," who was LBJ's military aide.
In a 1999 Probe article entitled "Who Is Gus Russo?", Jim DiEugenio says that Russo and John Newman gave a talk at the 1992 ASK conference, and though DiEugenio didn't attend the presentation he heard that Russo's part "centered on some aspects of military intelligence dealing with the assassination. Specifically it concerned Air Force Colonel Delk Simpson, an aquaintance of both LBJ military aide Howard Burris and CIA officer David Atlee Phillips, about whom some significant questions had been raised."
I checked the index of Russo's book Live by the Sword, and found no references to Simpson or Fensterwald, and only one to Morrow, relating to the Cuban exile Mario Kohly.
I found nothing on Delk Simpson in Walt Brown’s Global Index, but the Mary Ferrell Database lists him as O’Wighton Delk Simpson, 1208 Marine Way, Apt. 701-A, North Palm Beach, Florida 33408, date of birth 8/27/11.
He was in the Air Force from 1942 to 1961, “attained rank of Colonel in 1945 (not promoted in 16 years – invited to retire).” From 1948 to 1950 he was Chief of Intelligence, 5th Air Force, Japan. 1959-1961, Special Assistant to Commander-in-Chief Samuel E. Anderson, Air Material Command, Dayton, Ohio. 1961-63, “in charge of industrial intelligence for Martin Aerospace (traveled throughout Europe, headquartered in Paris).” 1963-66, on Washington staff of Martin Marietta Corp.
Ferrell states, “His son, Wighton Delk Simpson, Jr., died "under suspicious circumstances" Dec. 31, 1982, in West Palm Beach, Florida, at age 39. Son had claimed his father was ‘bagman’ for Kennedy assassination. ‘Payoff’ took place in Haiti (remember deMohrenschildt was in Haiti 1963-64). Check Burris and the claim that he was in import-export business with Simpson in Paris.”