The CIA’s secret files on Jim Garrison, the prosecutor celebrated in the ‘JFK’ movie

Jim Garrison
Jim Garrison, New Orleans DA, and object of CIA attention. (Credit: LYNN PELHAM/TIMEPIX )

The CIA retains two secret files on New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison, the crusading prosecutor who inspired Oliver Stone’s hit movie “JFK.”

The files–whose existence was first reported by JFK Facts- are among the 3,600 secret U.S. government records related to JFK’s assassination that are scheduled to be released in October 2017. Earlier this week,  Politico and NOLA,com reported on the existence of the 3,600 records, which was first disclosed on May 12 by JFK Facts.

The Garrison files contain 16 pages of undated and unclassified material, according to  the  National Archives’ online database of JFK assassination records

One file– labelled  “CIA File on Garrison, James”–contains ten pages of material. The other–described as “Illegible Document, Garrison Investigation”–has six pages.

The CIA says that both files are “Not Believed Relevant” to the JFK’s assassination.

How a CIA file on Jim Garrison could not be relevant to the JFK story is one of those questions that only the metaphysicians of Langley can answer.

Richard Helms
Richard Helms, CIA director, targeted ‘conspiracy theorists.”

‘Highly-paid CIA source’ on trial

In the early 1960s Jim Garrison was a crusading local prosecutor dedicated to the Sisyphean task of stamping out the engrained vices of the city they call “The Big Easy.” His law enforcement work was of no conceivable interest to the CIA–until February 1967. That’s when Garrison made headlines around the world by announcing he was investigating a possible conspiracy behind JFK’s assassination,

Until that point no one had ever charged with the murder of the 35th American president, who was shot dead in front of a friendly crowd in Dallas on November 22, 1963.

Top CIA officials worried about what Garrison might find as he started his probe.

On April 1, 1967, CIA director Richard Helms launched a secret world-wide campaign, entitled “Countering Warren Commission critics,” which sought to discredit JFK ‘conspiracy theorists” with newspaper editors and reporters.

James Angleton
James Angleton, counterintelligence chief, targeted Jim Garrison

At  the same time, James Angleton, chief of the agency’s Counterintelligence Staff, established a secret committee, which monitored Garrison’s investigation for the next two years.  Declassified documents show that Angleton’s “Garrison Group” identified scores of CIA assets and sources who figured in the New Orleans investigation.

While intensely suspicious of the CIA, Garrison actually underestimated the extent of the agency’s interest in accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald before JFK was killed.

Angeton’s staff had monitored Oswald for four years after his defection to the Soviet Union in November 1959, according to declassified records released in 1990s. Jane Roman, an aide to to Angleton, told the Washington Post that certain CIA officials had “keen interest” in Oswald in late 1963.

Six senior CIA officers reporting to Helms and Angleton in the fall of 1963 were informed about Oswald’s travels, political activities, and foreign contacts six weeks before JFK was killed. (The names of these officers are found on the last page of this pre-assassination cable on Oswald, dated October 10, 1963.)

Another undercover officer reporting to Helms, George Joannides, the chief of psychological warfare operations in Miami, maintained a residence in New Orleans un 1963-1964, according to a sworn 2013 affidavit filed in federal court by Ron Machen, U.S. Attorney for Washington D.C.

While CBS News, the Washington Post and other national news organizations scoffed at Garrison’s investigation in the late 1960s, the high-level CIA interest in his investigation went undetected and unreported.

So did the agency’s pre-assassination interest in Oswald.

Shaw acquitted

In January 1969 Garrison brought charges against Clay Shaw, a prominent New Orleans businessman, alleging he was a CIA asset who had conspired to assassinate President

Clay Shaw
Clay Shaw, acquitted

Kennedy. At the time, the CIA denied any connection to Shaw, and Shaw denied any animus against Kennedy. After a trial featuring several less-than credible witnesses, Shaw was acquitted.

But a declassified 1992 document revealed that Shaw did work for the agency. One official who reviewed the agency’s records on Shaw described him as a “highly paid CIA contract source” (The quote is found on the the bottom of page 2 of the document.)

For some reason, Shaw’s documented relationship with the CIA is not mentioned on Wikipedia.

Question for 2016

Garrison died in 1992, less than a year after the release of Stone’s Oscar-winning movie in which he was portrayed by Kevin Costner. Twenty three years later, the CIA is still concealing the information it collected about him–for reasons that have yet to be explained.

Neither of the secret Garrison files is classified according to the Archives’ database, indicating they do not contain sensitive national security information.

Martha Murphy, chief of the National Archives’s JFK collection, told Politico that her staff is preparing to make all of the records public by October 2017.. However, the CIA and other federal agencies have the right under the law ask the president to postpone release of the records beyond 2017.

The CIA declines to say if the agency will request postponement of any of the 1,100 CIA records that have never been seen by the public.

“We are aware of the process and will work judiciously within that process, ”Dean Boyd, a CIA spokesman, told Politico.

Translation:: If the CIA thinks it can get away with keeping some, or all, of its JFK record secret past October 2017, it will.

Which begs a question for 2016 presidential candidates: “Do you favor the immediate release of the CIA’s files on Jim Garrison?”


Garrison files
The Garrison files, as listed in the National Archives online database



43 thoughts on “The CIA’s secret files on Jim Garrison, the prosecutor celebrated in the ‘JFK’ movie”

  1. Jim Garrison is a clear thinking lawyer. After reading all the JFK material, you cannot help but return to Jim Garrison’s conclusions.

  2. On January 19, a new “Comment of the week” was selected and the comments submitted in response to it are closely related to details
    covered in Jeff’s above article and in many of the comments in reply to it. Please visit the “Comment of the week” article located at this link:

    I’m confident many of you will look over the comments displayed at the link above and will think it was worth your time and may have a comment to contribute.

  3. They will not let any thing get released garrison was a great friend to my great grandfather but everything he said was and is true I have seen the files my self

  4. Excuse me if I have misunderstood, but the article on this post seems to suggest that Oswald was a defector and, because of it, was placed under surveillance by the CIA, when, in fact, Jim Garrison. and others subsequently, were able to show that Oswald had been trained by, and worked for the CIA in Tokyo and elsewhere, and that, notwithstanding his supposed defection and membership in the Fair Play for Cuba committee, he was reporting back to Guy Bannister, formerly of the FBI who by then was working for the CIA. The evidence also suggests that Oswald was also and informant for the FBI, working through secret contact, and that after his arrest he tried to get through to the contact so that he might be cleared. Instead, he seems to have been sheep dipped to be sold to the public as a sole crazed assassin.

    Garrison was a true patriot, with a stellar military and FBI background (though you wouldn’t know it by reading the Wikipedia entry on him). So is the gentleman who has done the most to stand by Garrison and bear witness to his work- namely John Barbour.

    1. Yes, don’t buy it. It’s junk compared to the website of the same name at the time of it’s release. Pages have since been deleted from the website regarding Lee Bowers testimony about stopping a train and DPD Officers taking 3 tramps off a grain car about 2:00 on 11/22. The book does not talk about this, it’s mainly about Frank Sturgis stories. It has no table of contents, references, end notes or index.

      1. Once again I embarrass myself. Pg. 24 of the Oswald Code does show Warren Commission Exhibit Number 1974.

  5. There is no doubt in my mind about the importance of Jim Garrison’s only trial of anybody in the whole history of the JFk Assassination.
    It brought about (finally) the realization that the CIA participated in the prevention of a fair trial, thus the fact the had something to hide.
    His first target,David Ferrie conveniently died a day or two after formally being accused. Then his office was infiltrated by the FBI/CIA.
    Read Destiny Betrayed for a better understanding of Garrison and the trial.

  6. Pingback: The CIA’s secret files on Jim Garrison, the prosecutor celebrated in the ‘JFK’ movie | Scoop Feed

  7. Merle Kinsman

    After years the specifics of the Presidents murder remain unclear. No clear explanations and proofs has convinced a world of certainty. And, perhaps that is all anyone would want to accomplish. What does remain clear is the pursuit of civilization has taken another deviation. Any objective point of view can see government and industry pursuing short term goals leave the standard for any real pursuit of the higher goals of civilization lost.

  8. “For some reason, Shaw’s documented relationship with the CIA is not mentioned on Wikipedia.”

    It does now.

    1. Ramon F Herrera

      “Garrison later authored a book about his investigation of Clay Shaw and the subsequent trial called On the Trail of the Assassins. In the book, Garrison states that Shaw had an “extensive international role as an employee of the CIA”.[17] Shaw denied any such connections.[18]

      “In 1979, Richard Helms, former director of the CIA, testified under oath that Clay Shaw had been a part-time contact of the Domestic Contact Service of the CIA, where Shaw volunteered information from his travels abroad, mostly to Latin America.[19]”

  9. “For some reason, Shaw’s documented relationship with the CIA is not mentioned on Wikipedia.”

    Many of the major JFK-related articles on Wikipedia seem to be monitored pretty closely in order to quash any edits that might be suggestive of a conspiracy, even seemingly innocuous ones.

    A few weeks ago, while checking something on the Wiki page for Marina Oswald, I noticed that the opening paragraph referred to Lee Oswald as “the assassin of President John F. Kennedy.” I changed it to “accused assassin.” I returned to the page a few days later to discover that my change had been reversed by an editor within, literally, two minutes. Glancing through the “view history” page, I noted that several other Wiki users had attempted to make the same change, with the same results. Most of the time, no explanation was given for the reversal of the changes. (One of the few notes an editor deigned to give was “Oswald killed Kennedy, FYI.”)

    This may seem like a very minor issue, but I don’t think it is. When most people Google terms like “JFK assassination” and “Oswald,” the first thing they’re likely to click on is the Wikipedia page. If the first articles they see assure them that the major facts regarding Kennedy’s death have long been established and are not seriously contested, they’re likely to continue to believe the official story and scoff at its skeptics.

    1. Ramon F Herrera


      We need to understand that Wikipedia should try to be close to the Official Version.

      I have done something similar to what you did, I wrote “the purported assassin” and it was not modified.

      If I were a Wikipedia big shot, I would tell you:

      “Look, sir, just have Congress open another investigation and we will be thrilled to re-write all JFK pages. We cannot be seen as pushing agendas, however well intentioned they may be.”

      BTW: Similar things can be said about MSM (which obviously has wider latitude than an encyclopedic web site).

      1. That’s why Wikipedia has no credibility among the cognoscenti. Wikipedia is just an amplification of the mainstream media’s misrepresentations and lies.

        But then, so are all encyclopedias. My gosh, I was told in fifth grade never to consider an encyclopedia a research “source” – it was on a place to start – to get ideas of avenues to pursue. I would have been docked in high school and college papers had I ever cited such a source.

  10. I was stationed at McDill AFB in Tampa, Florida when Kennedy was assassinated. Kennedy was in Tampa just before going to Dallas and we were asked to volunteer for guard duty along his route. At the time a friend was dating a legal secretary from Santo Trafficante Jr’s (head of the Florida Mafia) lawyer’s legal office and she told my friend that Kennedy was supposed to have been assassinated in Tampa. My friend had the impression that the Mafia stopped the plot in Tampa from happening.

    1. Author Lamar Waldron in a book published in 2005 described a set of three mafia plots planned to take place in 1963 to coincide with JFK’s visits to Chicago, Tampa, then Dallas (in that order). In this book Waldron details that JFK was warned about the assassination plan in Tampa. The mafia is said to have gained knowledge of RFK’s coup plan for Castro at the time. Shortly after JFK’s assassination Secret Service agent Abraham Bolden who had gone to Washington to inform Warren Commission staff about the mafia plans in Chicago and Tampa, also about Secret Service “laxity”, was framed, arrested and inprisoned for six years.

    2. Ramon F Herrera


      “My friend had the impression that the Mafia stopped the plot in Tampa from happening.”


      They sure did!

      It went down like this:

      “Hey, boss, the Kennedy people got wind of our attempt and instead of using the presidential limousine, he will be transported on Marine One (one of 3 flying choppers, just to make it harder). So, unless we can procure some SAMs to replace the Carcanos, like pronto, the Big Event will have to be postponed again.”.

      In a nutshell, Bob: It was not out of the goodness of their little hearts.

  11. Garrison, courageous, insightful, and troubled by the corrupt core of America : CIA, FBI, military intelligence, corporations, mass media, Congress, and the Dallas Police Department, took a stand for the truth and justice.

    The CIA trembled with fear at what Garrison might reveal about the true nature of the CIA and the extent to which Americans were being deceived about JFK’s assassination, and about the manifestly corrupt nature of almost every sector of power and influence.

    The CIA spent vast tax payer funds to obvuscate and handicap any independent attempts at investigating JFK’s assassination.
    People need to be aware of the utter waste of precious resources the CIA imposed/s on the tax payer to hide the truth from the world.

    The CIA to the present day are trembling with fear as to the revelations Garrison so valiantly attempted to provide the nation, the world, in the name of truth and justice.

    The CIA has not in any way shape or form signalled any intention to be accountable to the nation, the American tax payers, nor to the truth of JFK’s assassination.

    The CIA is a band of traitors of the highest order, with zero loyalty to America’s interests and zero commitment to truth and justice.

  12. What say thee photon?!?! Why did the CIA lie about Shaw being on the payroll? Why did the CIA go after garrison and others who had the brains to know this wasn’t as seemed?

  13. Why on earth has the CIA got a file on an American citizen which does NOT involve issues of national security?

    Isn’t that the only reason that the CIA should have a file on an American citizen?

    1. Because “National Security” simply means “the National Security State,” i.e., the military-industrial-intelligence complex.

  14. Jim Garrison had some pretty rough things to say about both Lyndon Johnson and the CIA in press conferences in 1967 and 1968:

    New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison at his press conference on 12/26/67:

    “President Johnson is currently the most active person in the country in protecting the assassins of John Kennedy.”

    “President Johnson must have known by the time of the arrest that Oswald did not pull the trigger.”

    “You are being fooled. Everyone in America is being fooled. The whole world is being fooled.”

    “Why? Because of power – because if people knew the facts about the assassination they would not tolerate the people in power today. Keep in mind who profits most. Who appointed the Warren Commission? Who runs the FBI? Who runs the CIA? The President of the United States.”

    UPI dispatch from New Orleans dated 2/20/68, Jim Garrison:

    Jim Garrison accused Attorney General Ramsay Clark “doing his best to torpedo the case of the state of Louisiana” because “apparently it is felt in Washington that if the truth of President Kennedy’s murder can be kept concealed, President Johnson’s promotion to the presidency will appear more legitimate.”

    2/21/68 Netherlands Television broadcast and interview of Jim Garrison

    Jim Garrison: “President Kennedy was murdered by CIA elements. Those who were involved in the murder worked laboriously to give such a presentation that the suspicion would rest on others. This manner of organizing a murder is standard procedure within the CIA.

    Joachim Joesten, The Dark Side of Lyndon Johnson, p. 267: “Garrison also said in this context that he had to assume that President Johnson knew that the CIA killed Kennedy because he appointed an investigation committee composed of mainly pro-CIA persons.”

    Joachim Joesten (p. 267): “Garrison was quoted in the Dutch interview as saying that he had to speak out in Europe ‘because it is impossible in America. The U.S. press is controlled to such an extent by the CIA that we no longer can say the truth. They throttled us.’”

    Joachim Joesen (p. 268): Garrison stated early in his inquiry, that in due course ‘every individual involved,’ including all accessories after the fact, would be arrested and brought to trial.
    ‘The only way they can escape is to kill themselves,’ he added significantly. He wasn’t just thinking of David Ferrie.

    1. I think Garrison was very prescient for the most part. I wonder however about who runs the CIA, the FBI. It seems to me that, powerful as Johnson was, he was more in league with J. Edgar, and with the CIA’s ideas certainly than Kennedy, although he didn’t invade Cuba. It looks like more of a partnership of convenience, a very deadly one for both John and Robert Kennedy, which allied against them. But then the country moved on, and although Lyndon left office, for a short time J. Edgar stayed in power, until his death. He had the goods on everyone. Nixon’s downfall may have been engineered (setting Nixon up for a fall was not too difficult because Dick Nixon was greedy enough to take the Watergate bait). If you look at Presidents Carter, Clinton, and Obama, I doubt they have “run” CIA. I think it runs them, or at least no president can completely dominate that agency. Presidents come and go. Institutions, unelected, stay forever. That is a serious balance of power problem Kennedy tried to address, but failed. I think it would probably require a new constitutional convention, a la 1787, to fix this problem of institutional (and corporate lobby) power in Washington, both of which are choking our democracy to death.

      1. “…a la 1787, to fix this problem of institutional (and corporate lobby) power in Washington, both of which are choking our democracy to death.”

        Republic. Not a democracy.

  15. gerry campeau

    I see the revision of history is allready started with Jims profile on Wikipedia, last changed on = This page was last modified on 27 May 2015, at 23:48.
    Real history of Jim flying single engine plane spoting enemy targets
    In 1941, Jim Garrison joined the U.S. Army, and in 1942, he was commissioned as a lieutenant in the field artillery. After receiving tactical flight training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, he served during World War II as an artillery pilot in France and Germany. After World War II, he attended Tulane Law School in New Orleans, where he obtained both Bachelor of Laws and Master of Civil Laws degrees.

    1. Ramon F Herrera

      [Gerry Campeau:]

      “I see the revision of history is already started with Jim’s profile on Wikipedia, last changed on […]”


      Last changed by me, Gerry. See where it says that JFK researcher Gerry Campeau defends Jim Garrison.

      Note to all the Wikipedia critics:

      That site has the credibility of We The People. I always tell people in forums: if you disagree with a Wikipedia entry, pray tell: by when should we expect YOUR corrections and additions?

      By the time you read this, I will try to add the missing part that Jeff has correctly identified:

      “For some reason, Shaw’s documented relationship with the CIA is not mentioned on Wikipedia.”

      1. Ramon F Herrera

        Furthermore, Gerry, as a spokesperson for Wikipedia (*) it is my pleasure to inform you that in the last decade or so, the material about the JFK case has grown dramatically.

        When I first noticed it, I was flabbergasted to see the quantity and the amount of detail.

        EACH Wikipedia page has its own mini-forum as well. Just click on “Talk”:

        (*) Self-appointed, but genuine nonetheless.

      2. Ramon, I consider this Garrison bashing to be nonsense and nonproductive. If you are looking for perfection, turn to Jesus. Whether mythical or real He is the only one you got.

        1. I’m a Garrison supporter, too, for all his faults. He had major cajones.

          People forget he was an LNer until his suspicions were raised by a U.S. Senator.

          I have a feeling most of Garrison’s statements on the CIA and Oswald will be proven correct.

          1. Robert C. Smeby

            I have had the same suspicions about Garrison since 1968 or 1969. Some body shut him up and hung him out to dry. There are reliable books out about CIA involvement, so you can bet the farm if they are true the CIA will NEVER turn loose!

        2. Ramon F Herrera

          Willy: If you listen to the preachings of the Religious Right, Jesus was actually a very defective person: tolerant, compassionate and forgiving, for starters, not to mention brown and Jew, hung out with the wrong crowd. (*)

          In any event, the JFK plotters (ideologically aligned with the group above) made extensive use of job and political pressure from above. That’s a technique as true and tried as it is effective.

          What they did not foresee was an extremely popular DA, war hero, elected on his own merits, and thus immune to partisan extortion.

          (*) “If English was good enough for Jesus Christ, it is certainly good enough for Texas!”

          1. Mr Herrera, I was not speaking to the issue from a “Christian” perspective, as I am not a Christian or a “believer” of any other organized religion.

            Perhaps I mistook your position on Garrison?

            I fully support Garrison, I think his early work was an essential first step in dismantling the official lie of the “lone gunman”.

    2. Wikipedia is a disaster on so many fronts. Certain subjects are largely the personal fiefdoms of small groups of authors who do their best to editorially exclude all other thinking. Isn’t it amazing that, in this “democratically crowd-sourced encyclopedia” the articles on JFK should give 100% credence to the Warren Commission which only 20% of the American people believe in? If one looks into articles about the US Left, the New Deal (a personality like Vice President Henry Wallace, for example) there is great cause for despair. The way the right has been able to subvert truth with that site is shocking. When it comes to political matter, it is a total dead zone as far as I am concerned.

      One example – on the HSCA recording evidence for four shots being fired, it says something like “this has today been debunked” and then lists six footnotes which all go back to books by WC promoters. Now, I’m all for independent research, but how in the world can Wikipedia give more weight to what is in some books on the subject, and not what was determined by a Congressional Committee? It doesn’t pass the sniff test. Wikipedia, like social media in general, is as prone to manipulation as the regular media – if not more. The danger is that people perceive it as “crowd-sourced” and “democratic” when it is not by any means.

      1. I’ve made corrections to Wikipedia that have been “disappeared.” That’s why I know it’s a BS site. No chance to defend my edits. Just quietly removed. I don’t have time to play that game.

  16. “Translation:: If the CIA thinks it can get away with keeping some, or all, of its JFK record secret past October 2017, it will.”

    Translation? We’re SCREWED. If this information is as damning to the CIA’s reputation as I think it probably is, no way in hell will it get released, and no presidential candidate or even new president will be able to change that. I think Obama learned this lesson the hard way when he got elected and learned that he had to work WITH the security state if he wanted to get anything done. The only way this stuff gets out is if there is another Snowden. CIA is treating us like Lucy with Charlie Brown, promising that THIS TIME she will hold the football so he can kick it.

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