Note: The Letter-to-the-Editor below first appeared in the Baltimore Sun on April 17, in response to a review of False Witness.

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Patricia Lambert Replies


I'm writing to respond to Joan Mellen's March 14 review of my book, False Witness: The Real Story of Jim Garrison's investigation and Oliver Stone's Film JFK. I'd like to address some of the review's misrepresentations.

Most of my sources are not "unidentified," as Ms. Mellen claimed; my book contains 42 pages of notes identifying them. They are not "primarily" Clay Shaw's attorneys; indeed, they include six key individuals from Jim Garrison's own camp. As for my alleged overuse of the word "fraud," in discussing Garrison, it's impossible to use the word too often.

Ms. Mellen's cites Dean Andrews' statements, but Mr. Andrews repeatedly admitted he invented the "Clay Bertrand" story. FBI Agent Regis Kennedy was not "looking for Clay Bertrand" before Dean Andrews invented that story. The Department of Justice's statement about "Bertrand" was a mistake, and it publicly retracted the statement.

A string of witnesses refuted the Shaw "alias," including three police officers; it was so incredible the judge said in open court that he didn't believe it.

I located a previously unknown Garrison investigator whose information and notes challenge the testimony of the witnesses from Louisiana that Ms. Mellen cites.

Garrison did find support on both sides of the civil rights struggle. But I did not say, nor do I believe those witnesses were trying "to frame Clay Shaw."

I did not "admit" Clay Shaw "lied" about his contacts with the CIA. Shaw denied working for that agency, and that's what I reported. (According to a 1967 internal CIA document, the CIA "never remunerated" Shaw.) As for the CIA project QK/ENCHANT, at this point what it was is unknown and that's what my book says.

I do not believe, nor did I say, that film director Oliver Stone was "no better than 'a believer in Hitler.'" Mr. Stone defended Leni Riefenstahl, and I reported it. The quote used in the review refers to Riefenstahl. Mr. Stone said it, not me; the review makes it appear otherwise.

For the sake of fairness, perhaps The Sun intends to invite me to review Ms. Mellen's forthcoming biography of Jim Garrison.

Patricia Lambert Woodland, Calif.
[Originally published on Apr 17 1999]

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