‘Treason doth never prosper,’ wrote an English poet, ‘What’s the reason? For if it prosper, none dare call it treason.’ The American public has yet to see the Zapruder film. Why? The American public has yet to see the real X-rays and photographs of the autopsy. Why? There are hundreds of documents that could help prove this conspiracy. Why are they being withheld or burned by the government? Each time my office or you the people have asked those questions, demanded crucial evidence, the answer from on high has always been ‘national security.’ What kind of national security do we have when we’ve been robbed of our leaders? What national security permits the removal of fundamental power from the hands of the American people and validates the ascendancy of an invisible government in the United States? That kind of national security, gentlemen of the jury, is when it smells like it, feels like it, and looks like it, you call it what it is: Fascism! I submit to you that what took place on November 22, 1963 was a coup d’etat. Its most direct and tragic result was a reversal of President Kennedy’s commitment to withdraw from Vietnam. The war is the biggest business in America worth $80 billion a year. President Kennedy was murdered by a conspiracy that was planned in advance at the highest levels of our government and it was carried out by fanatical and disciplined cold warriors in the Pentagon and CIA’s covert-operation apparatus. Among them, Clay Shaw, here before you. It was a public execution and it was covered up by like-minded individuals in the Dallas Police Department, the Secret Service, the FBI, and the White House – all the way up to and including J. Edgar Hoover and Lyndon Johnson, whom I consider accomplices after the fact.
The assassination reduced the President to a transient official. His job, his assignment is to speak as often as possible of this nation’s desire for peace, while he acts as a business agent in the Congress for the military and their hardware manufacturers. Now some people say I’m crazy, a southern caricature seeking higher office. Well, there is a simple way to determine if I am paranoid. Let’s ask the two men who have profited the most from the assassination – your former President Lyndon Baines Johnson and your new President, Richard Nixon – to release the 51 CIA documents pertaining to Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby, or the secret CIA memo on Oswald’s activities in Russia that was ‘destroyed’ while being photocopied. All these documents are yours – the people’s property – you pay for it, but because the government considers you children who might be too disturbed or distressed to face this reality, or because you might possibly lynch those involved, you cannot see these documents for another 75 years. I’m in my early 40’s, so I’ll have shuffled off this mortal coil by then, but I’m already telling my 8 year-old son to keep himself physically fit so that one glorious September morning in the year 2038, he can walk into the National Archives and find out what the CIA and the FBI knew. They may even push it back then. Hell it may become a generational affair, with questions passed down from father to son, mother to daughter. But someday, somewhere, someone may find out the damned Truth. We better. We better or we might just as well build ourselves another government like the Declaration of Independence says to when the old one ain’t working – just – just a little farther out West.
An American naturalist wrote, ‘A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against its government.’ I’d hate to be in your shoes today. You have a lot to think about. You’ve seen much hidden evidence the American public has never seen. You know, going back to when we were children, I think that most of us in this courtroom thought that justice came into being automatically, that virtue was its own reward, that good would triumph over evil. But as we get older we know that this just isn’t true. Individual human beings have to create justice and this is not easy, because the truth often poses a threat to power and one often has to fight power at great risk to themselves. People like S.M. Holland, Lee Bowers, Jean Hill, Willie O’Keefe. They’ve all taken that risk. They’ve all come forward. I have here some $8,000 in these letters sent to my office from all over the country – quarters, dimes, dollar bills from housewives, plumbers, car salesmen, teachers, invalids. These are people who cannot afford to send money but do. These are the ones who drive the cabs, who nurse in the hospitals, who see their kids go to Vietnam. Why? Because they care, because they want to know the truth, because they want their country back, because it still belongs to us, as long as the people have the guts to fight for what they believe in! The truth is the most important value we have because if the truth does not endure, if the government murders truth, if we cannot respect the hearts of these people, then this is not the country in which I was born and this is certainly not the country I want to die in.
Tennyson wrote, ‘Authority forgets a dying king’. This was never more true than for John F. Kennedy, whose murder was probably one the most terrible moments in the history of our country. We, the people, the jury system sitting in judgment on Clay Shaw, represent the hope of humanity against government power. In discharging your duty, in bringing the first conviction in this house of cards against Clay Shaw, ‘ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.’ Do not forget your dying king. Show this world that this is still a government ‘of the people, for the people, and by the people’. Nothing as long as you live will ever be more important.
It’s up to you.
JFK, Jim Garrison