Edward T. Haslam was born in Kansas in 1951. Soon afterwards, his father was appointed to a teaching position at Tulane Medical School in New Orleans. As a child he got to know one of his father's colleagues, Mary Sherman.
Haslam was educated at the Jesuit High School in New Orleans. Haslam had teachers, classmates and friends whose family members were involved in the investigation carried out by Jim Garrison. As Haslam himself points out this gave him an "insider perspective" of these events.
In the 1970s Haslam worked with the piano-player Professor Longhair. When he died in 1980 Haslam got out of the music business and pursued a career in advertising. This included the managing the advertising campaigns for the Chrysler Corporation. As he pointed out: "I went from Professor Longhair to Lee Iacocca in 8 years".
Haslam continued his research and in 2007 he published Dr. Mary's Monkey. In the book he looks at the connections between Mary Sherman, Alton Ochsner, Patrick J. Frawley, Ed Butler, David Ferrie, Guy Banister, Lee Harvey Oswald and the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
Haslam argues that "Ochsner's hospital was one of the 159 covert research centers which the CIA had admitted to setting up." Haslam believes that Ochsner recruited Mary Sherman to run the research operation The basic project was set up March 23, 1962, using conventional facilities, which then expanded out of the loop for its final phases. Haslam believes that Sherman was involved in carrying out secret research into developing a vaccine to prevent an epidemic of soft-tissue cancers caused by polio vaccine contaminated with SV-40. This work included using a linear particle accelerator located in the Infectious Disease Laboratory at the Public Health Service Hospital in New Orleans. According to Haslam there was a second-lab working on this project. This was being run by David Ferrie on Louisiana Avenue Parkway.
For me, writing this book was difficult, stressful and dangerous. What began as an investigation into this single murder morphed into consideration of epidemics which killed millions of people and which cost billions of dollars. It became an investigation into an underground medical laboratory that was accidentally discovered during an investigation into the JFK assassination - a laboratory which secretly irradiated cancer-causing monkey viruses to develop a biological weapon.
This story seems to have followed me throughout my life, and its recurring pattern is eerie indeed. Had I realized its importance, I would have paid closer attention. What I do remember are fragments that I pieced together later in life: a name here, an incident there, pieces of a puzzle often separated by years of unrelated distractions. I even remember sitting on Mary Sherman's lap once as a child. She and my father worked together at Tulane Medical School in New Orleans. They had taken a British doctor out to dinner and then to our family's home for an after-dinner drink.
When she died in the summer of 1964, I saw my father cry for the first time. As a Navy doctor during World War II, my father had seen more than his share of burned and broken bodies. Someone (I don't know who) had asked him to go to the morgue to look at Mary Sherman's body to get a second opinion on her unusual death. He came home from the morgue that day, fixed himself a drink, sat down in his chair, and cried silently. I wondered what was wrong. My mother told me that a woman he knew from the office had died. It was only later that I learned it was Mary Sherman.
In March 1967 Garrison arrested New Orleans businessman Clay Shaw for conspiring to assassinate President Kennedy. At first Garrison called the assassination a crime organized by extremist elements of the anti-Castro community, and to prevent any misinterpretation, he specifically pointed out that his team had not found any evidence of involvement by the CIA itself. But in May 1967, all that changed.
Garrison upped the stakes by announcing on national television that Kennedy's death was a coup d'etat organized by elements inside the CIA, particularly in its Plans Division.' What followed was two years of heavy character assault on Garrison.
The heart of Garrison's case was that he had associated Clay Shaw with Lee Harvey Oswald during the summer of 1963. Garrison believed Shaw's contact with Oswald was part of a deliberate attempt to set up Oswald to take the blame for Kennedy's impending assassination. In particular, Garrison claimed that Shaw tried to help Oswald get a job at a mental hospital in Jackson, Louisiana, near the town of Clinton. According to Garrison, Shaw drove Oswald to Clinton so Oswald could register to vote in hopes of improving his chances of getting the job at the hospital.
As luck would have it, the Congress for Racial Equality was sponsoring a voter registration for black voters that day. When a black Cadillac drove into the center of the small Louisiana town, folks watched closely and curiously. Were these FBI agents? The press? Outside agitators? A young white man emerged from the back of the Cadillac and got in line to register. He made a memorable impression, since he was the only white person in the line and since he was not a resident of the area. Numerous eyewitnesses identified the person who got out of the Cadillac as Oswald, and, of course, the man had given his name to the registrar of voters as Lee Harvey Oswald.
The more difficult question: Who was driving the car? Witnesses said he looked like Clay Shaw, a white male in his fifties with wavy gray hair and a stern face. This described Shaw well enough, but it also described other people equally well. There was less difficulty identifying the other passenger in the car. His orange hair and painted-on eyebrows made seeing David Ferrie a truly unforgettable experience for anyone. Since it was already established that Ferrie knew Guy Banister and Oswald (all of whom were dead by '69), it was difficult for Garrison to prove that the man driving the car was actually Clay Shaw and not someone else, like Banister. Shaw, of course, claimed he never knew Oswald or Ferrie and had never been to Clinton. Garrison failed to prove the connection to the satisfaction of the jury. Shaw was acquitted.
Garrison counterattacked, claiming that Shaw had lied under oath and charged him with thirteen counts of perjury, confident that he would win the perjury conviction in the next trial. The federal government intervened, however, and dismissed the perjury charges; thus with the acquittal of Clay Shaw in 1969, Garrison was neutralized as a political force.
A decade later, the U.S. Congress's House Select Committee on Assassinations took a second look at the Clinton incident. On March 14, 1978, they took the testimony of Clinton town marshal John Manchester in Washington. Manchester said that he approached the black Cadillac from which Oswald had emerged that summer day in 1963 and, acting as the town's law enforcement officer, instructed the driver to identify himself and to produce his driver's license, The driver gave his name as "Clay Shaw from the International Trade Mart" and produced a driver's license which matched. For some reason, the HSCA took his testimony in "Executive Session" and kept this information secret from the American public for sixteen years.
We only know about it today because of documents released through the JFK Assassination Materials Act of 1992! With information of this magnitude continuing to come to light, it will be tomorrow's historians, and not yesterday's press, who will have to judge Jim Garrison and his assassination theory. To call him "discredited" is extremely premature, despite the numerous attempts to make him appear so. We may owe Garrison an apology before it's all over.
Jim Garrison: After the assassination, as a matter of fact, something psychologically curious happened to Ferrie: He dropped out of anti-Castro exile activities, left the pay of the CIA, and drifted aimlessly while his emotional problems increased to the point where he was totally dependent on huge doses of tranquilizers and barbiturates. I don't know if Ferrie ever experienced any guilt about the assassination itself, but in his last months, he was a tortured man.
I had nothing but pity for Dave Ferrie while he was alive, and I have nothing but pity for him now that he's dead. Ferrie was a pathetic and tortured creature, a genuinely brilliant man whose twisted drives locked him into his own private hell. If I had been able to help Ferrie, I would have; but he was in too deep and he was terrified. For a long time afterward, Ferrie kept the remaining mice in hutches in his dining room, nursing plans for attaching small incendiary flares to them and parachuting them into Cuba's sugar cane fields.
David Ferrie perennially was being defrocked, first of his priesthood, then of his hair, then of his Civil Air Patrol captaincy and then of his position as an Eastern Air Lines pilot. It is unlikely that he was unaffected by this accumulation of bitter experience. This man with a brilliant mind and a face like a clown was a dangerous man.
On the second day, we went to see a man named Ed Butler, who had debated Oswald on the radio in August 1963. It was Butler who re-exposed Oswald's "defection" to the American public. Butler's job, both in 1963 and in 1993, was Executive Director of INCA.
We met him in the elevator of his office building and rode to the top floor. The entrance to INCA was a grandiose facade at the end of the hall, reminiscent of large law offices with their thick walnut doors. Upon closer inspection, it became obvious that this was not thick walnut. The facade was made of thin plywood panels nailed to a wooden frame erected in front of the old door. Screw-mounted brass letters from the local hardware store spelled out INCA. But we did not enter through this august entrance. Butler took us to a side door on the north side of the hall. There we entered a small functional office. A Frank Sinatra-era microphone sat on his desk like a paper weight. Audio and video tapes were neatly organized on the shelves. We sat down and exchanged business cards. He looked at Gus Russo's Frontline card, then at mine.
"Haslam" he mused. "Where do I know that name from?"
I offered some mumbo-jumbo to distract him. I did not want him to remember who I was at that moment, He might clam up. He furrowed his brow in concentration and stared at my card.
No, that's not it. The word 'Egyptologist' keeps coming to mind:' he mulled. I shrugged aimlessly, while Gus started questioning him about Oswald.
This brought Butler to life. He started banging on the desk with his fist, calling Oswald one of the "world's great revolutionaries," the "first New Leftist," the "first hippie," the "spearhead of world revolution" who set in motion a chain of events that led to the collapse of the Iron Curtain, He even called Oswald an "avatar," a Hindu word for a deity who becomes a human to accomplish some divine purpose, In the middle of his Oswald theories, he took time to criticize the Warren Commission critics for grasping at straws, and ridiculed all the reports connecting Oswald to Banister as meaningless speculation. Gus and I listened.
Then Butler proudly told us how, immediately after the assassination, he carried a reel-to-reel tape player over to Congressman Hale Boggs's office and played the tape of his radio debate with Oswald, so that Boggs could hear Oswald say, "I am a Marxist:' As Butler told it, upon hearing the recording, Boggs called Lyndon Johnson to tell him he had just heard evidence that Oswald was a Communist. If this story is true, it means that President Johnson knew Boggs' position on Oswald before appointing him to the Warren Commission.
On the American side, Ochsner accumulated many celebrities in his patient portfolio, from golf legend Ben Hogan to movie star Gary Cooper to the mega-wealthy Clint Murchison of the Texas oil family.
Murchison's involvement with Ochsner seems to me to have been as political as medical. Yes, he was a personal patient of Alton Ochsner and gave him a Cadillac as a "thank you" present, but he also donated $750,000 to the Alton Ochsner Medical Foundation as seed money for Ochsner's new hospital.
Meanwhile, Murchison purchased 30,000 acres of Louisiana swamp land and prepared it for a real estate development now known as New Orleans East, which covers about one-third of the land in the city of New Orleans. I have always heard that Murchison bought it from Lady Bird Johnson. When LBJ announced the construction of Interstate 10 through the middle of this newly drained tract of land, plus the construction of NASA's largest facility on the same site, property values rose as fast as any in American history. Murchison made a fortune.
Ochsner was personally active in Louisiana politics, He served as campaign manager for INCA board member Dave Treen's successful bid for the U.S. House of Representatives and Lt. Governor Jimmy
Fitzmorris' unsuccessful bid for Governor.
Ochsner was always very close to Congressman F. Edward Hebert, with whom he shared an ultra-right, hard-line, anti-Communist sentiment. On the other hand, Ochsner had an off and-on friendship with liberal Congressman Hale Boggs, whose photo appeared alongside Ochsner's on the back of INCA's phonograph album featuring the voice of Lee Harvey Oswald....
It is interesting to note the comments of Admiral Stansfield Turner, who testified to Congress as the Director of the CIA about the extent of the CIA's domestic activities. One of the Congressional questions was whether the CIA conducted its own medical research here inside the United States, and if so, how were they funding it? Turner said that the CIA had funded 159 medical facilities around the country for the purpose of conducting covert medical research. The funding was done in conjunction with Congress' Hill-Burton Fund. The CIA supplied seed money through blind third parties, and then the facility received matching funds as a Hill-Burton grant. When the facility was completed, the agency had access to a portion of the hospital's bed space for its purposes. It has been suggested to me that the Murchison donation might have been the seed money for the project, and that Congressman Hebert's influence on the CIA budget may have been the real force that provided the Hill-Burton funding. It is probable that Ochsner's hospital was one of the 159 covert research centers which the CIA has admitted to setting up.
The FBI maintained a file on Dr. Alton Ochsner which we now have access to through the Freedom of Information Act. It shows his long relationship with the U.S. military, the FBI and other U.S. government agencies.
The Kennedy assassination literature has produced some oddities over the years but this takes the biscuit. A sense of this is conveyed by what must be one of the longest subtitles in publishing history:
"How the unsolved Murder of' a doctor, a secret laboratory in New Orleans and cancer-causing monkey viruses are linked to Lee Harvey Oswald, the JFK assassination and emerging global epidemics"
Kennedy assassination initiates will glimpse a little bit of the story from that subtitle. Cancer and New Orleans? Wasn't David Ferric keeping thousands of mice in his apartment? Yes, he was. And he was, apparently, doing cancer research on the mice. In his apartment when lie died was found an anonymous treatise on cancer. (Haslam thinks he has identified the author.) Skip to page 329 and the author provides a handy summary of his story so far:
"In the morning, the young cancer-researcher rides the bus to work with the "detector" who is about to be accused of assassinating the President. In the afternoon, she goes to the underground medical laboratory run by a known Mafia asset to develop a biological weapon. In between the two, she works at a cover-job under the supervision of an ex-FBI agent, who sends her on errands to deliver "envelopes" to the office of the Congressman who chairs the House Committee on Un-American Activities."
The "young cancer researcher" is Judyth Vary Baker who has claimed for years to have been the lover of Lee Harvey Oswald. The underground lab is "known Mafia asset" David Ferrie's mouse research where, says Baker, they were trying to develop a rapid-acting cancer with which to kill Fidel Castro (which is just - within the extant parameters of the attempts to kill him, not much crazier than some of the CIA's other wheezes). The "cover-job" was at the Reilly Coffee Company " where Lee Harvey Oswald also had a "cover-job".
A surprising amount of this is sort of stood up by Haslam but an awful lot of it hangs on the story of Baker, whose status in the JFK world is ambiguous at best; and there are a great many connecting suppositions between the bits Haslam has stood up and the wider thesis. This involves: the unsolved and very strange death (murder? freak accident?) of another cancer expert, Dr Mary Sherman; a particle accelerator at a nearby university lab which may or may not have been the cause of Sherman's death and which may or may not have been used to modify viruses; not to mention the final layer of the cake, the strange tale of the monkey-viruses in the polio vaccines and their possible links to the epidemic of soft tissue cancers in America.
Is this enormous thesis linking JFK's death to a rise in cancer America credible? No, it isn't. There are just too many places in the story where guesswork takes the place of evidence. But oddly fascinating this profusely illustrated account certainly is.