Note:I tape recorded this panel on a small microcassette recorder.
The audio quality was fair, but there are instances where I am unable to make
out exactly what the speaker is saying. Rather than guess, I have inserted
[unintelligible]; it is hoped this does not detract too much from the meaning of
what is being said.
* * *
One of the panels at the Lancer conference which seemed to have the most
promise was, in my opinion, a qualified bust. This was the Gerry Patrick Hemming
panel, which as far as I could tell provided little more than a measure of comic
relief during a weekend that was mostly given over to the unpleasant subject of
Hemming is a murky figure, a soldier-of-fortune type, allegedly involved in
many CIA-backed activities during the late fifties, sixties and seventies. His
exact tie to the Kennedy case is a little unclear. He says that as a Marine, he
was assigned to radar operations in Japan shortly before Lee Oswald arrived. He
reports intermittent contact with Oswald, and with other figures long suspected
of involvement in the Kennedy hit. As John Newman wrote in Oswald and the
CIA files show that Hemming's background was remarkably similar to Oswald's.
His security file, OS-429-229, appears to have been generated after Oswald's
OS-351-164. It is possible that these two numbers reflect the November 1959
and October 1960 time frames, respectively, for Oswald's defection and
Hemming's debriefing by the CIA in Los Angeles.
Newman was one of three panelists to question Hemming at the Lancer conference,
before a roomful of conference attendees. The other panelists were Dr. Jerry
Rose of The Fourth Decade, and author Charles Drago. The moderator was
As the session began, we were told that no question was off-limits. Hemming's
replies, however, were another matter. We were also warned that Hemming intended
to speak frankly and freely; anyone who might be offended by a little colorful
language should leave the room. No one did. As it turned out, the language was
not too naughty.
Gerry Patrick Hemming, November 1996
With those preliminaries out of the way, Hemming said hello to the audience
in English, Spanish, German, Japanese, and Chinese. A big, barrel-chested man,
Hemming spoke in a measured, almost sleepy voice, but one that is also a basso
profundo that can surely shake the rafters, should its owner become enraged.
"I'm not big on public speaking," he said. "I'm big on
calories ... Burger King..." This didn't get the big laugh he must have
intended, for Hemming gazed about the room for several moments before adding,
"Boy, what a bunch of serious faces here."
Serious faces, yes --- appropriate for the subject at hand. We were not,
however, treated to many serious answers during the hour or so this panel
lasted. In fact, many of his answers were couched in sarcasm, and somewhat
"Everything you've read --- by Weberman ... Marita Lorenz --- could be
true. It's entertaining, too. I don't have a book. I don't speak ... I've spent
thirty years trying to get things like this [the conference] to happen. I gave
stuff to Weisberg ... Bill Turner, and others ... at a time when Turner wasn't
even interested, and others weren't even interested in this Kennedy
Hemming said one of his favorite TV shows is Jeopardy, a game where
contestants provide the questions after being given the answers. He used it to
frame this comment: "Yesterday's Jeopardy should have had, 'Who should have
been arrested in the immediate aftermath of the Kennedy assassinaton?' And the
winning answer would have been, Gerry Patrick Hemming, Mitchell WerBell ... and
a long list of other people. When that didn't happen, we knew there was a
This may have been one of the most substantive comments Hemming made this
day. Perhaps somehone should have demanded, immediately, that he explain what he
meant by that. But no one did.
"Let's start with an obvious question," Charles Drago said.
"Do you have knowledge about this case that, were you to reveal it, would
A) either put you in jail, or B) put you in a box?"
"Well, the legal stuff just costs you time, and money, and lawyers, and
harrassment, and all that," Hemming replied. "They're declassifying
fairly rapidly things that give you clues into these areas, that can cause you
to [unintelligible] conclusions as to what was going on..." From here,
Hemming's reply moved to a claim that he worked security for JFK during the
President's trip to Miami only days before Dallas. But Drago's direct question
After some more rambling from Hemming, Drago asked, "Let's jump ahead
less than a week in time [after Miami] and talk about what most people here are
interested in --- what happened in Dealey Plaza, and some directly related
issues ... you've talked about the questions that HSCA didn't ask and should
have asked ... so let me ask a couple right now, and follow up on them. Who was
Lee Harvey Oswald?"
"He was a young Marine that in his career went through boot camp the
same place as I did, sixteen months behind me," Hemming said. "Went to
airman preparatory school [unintelligible] Jacksonville, sixteen months behind
me. Instead of going to Olathe, Kansas for air control school, where I went, he
went to Biloxi, Mississippi [unintelligible] to do GCI --- Ground Control
"What's the significance of this air controller school, and what kind of
privileges do air controllers have that might impact on Oswald's Intelligence
"First," Hemming replied, "[unintelligible] Atsugi, the
highest security area on a Marine Corps Naval installation is the ground control
intercept radar. Strange people wander around there in khakis with no insignia
on them; they're called tech reps ... they're CIA people and they're nuclear
weapons specialists. Because it's a high security area, that's where the nukes
were stored in Atsugi and [unintelligible] ... that's where the U-2's flew out
of. So all the U-2 people, they stayed in the GCI compound too. So you're
sitting around --- they got problems getting chow passes; sometimes we'd have to
forge chow passes so they could get a meal..."
"Okay, let me jump in, and maybe rephrase the question," Drago cut
in. "Thirty three years ago, who did Oswald think he was?"
"Why was he sent to the Soviet Union?" Hemming asked, in an
apparent non-sequiter. "Did he ever discover that? No. He was sent there to
be the fall guy when they dumped the U-2. So they'd get the financing for the
satellites. And the U-2 was coming back with nothing. All those pictures were
embarrassing. There was no honor gap. They had contacts --- their big time
contact was an MGB General, and a couple of colonels, one of them in Minsk. But
as somebody said, How the hell did they get the U-2 profile? Well, let's see.
There's this Marine Corps corporal, and we got this Captain in the Navy, and a
couple of other suspected people that were hanging around with Japanese
communists or something ... and that's where it ends! But he wouldn't have known
After several lengthy answers to questions that only peripherally dealt with
the JFK assassination, John Newman said: "To keep on task here, we're not
talking about 1963, we're talking about the summer of ---"
"This is '62!" Hemming said.
"We're talking about the Lake Pontchartrain training area," Newman
continued. "And there, in that locale, you saw Oswald in a hangar. At an
"Not to --- the little hairs on the back of my neck stood up,"
"And what happened when you saw him?" Newman asked. "Did you
speak to him? What was he doing?"
"I warned [a comrade], he's got a problem with his pilot."
"What was the airfield?"
"It was the old N.A.S. New Orleans, turned into a civilian
"This is what you said earlier," Charles Drago cut in. "You
felt Oswald was dogging you, or following you around. Do you mean that as a
series of coincidences, or do you mean to tell us that there was some kind of
connective tissue between the two of you?"
"One encounter is impolite. Two is rude. Three encounters gets your ass
"What would you perceive to be the purpose, or function of Oswald being
on your tail?"
"They pegged him as a Soviet agent. Who knows what's in these peoples'
heads, what they had him doing." Here, Hemming hammed it up in a voice
suitable for Mad Magazine's Spy versus Spy: "I want you to penetrate
these exile groups, kid, and I'll give you an extra Snickers bar!"
When the general laughter subsided, Drago observed, "I think the Warren
Commission established that it was Three Musketeers..."
Ten or fifteen minutes later, after more non-linear questions and answers,
Drago asked: "Addressing the concerns of a lot of the people in this
audience, about what happened in Dealey Plaza ... when --- what [sic] were you
recruited to take part in a plot to kill the president, specifically, in Dallas?
When, and where, and by whom?"
"Prior to, probably, March or April, '62, it had always been, Fidel. The
money's available," Hemming began. "The first time the conversation
shifted, was gonna 'do the guy that has to be done' --- a euphemism for Kennedy
--- was at that point in time. But, the conversation was killed, very quick. The
first big one, with someone that was persistent, was with Banister, at
[unintelligible] house. Frank Bartes was there, Howard Davis was there. And I
stepped off to one side. Banister wanted to yak on this JFK business ---"
"When it switched from hitting Castro to hitting JFK, what precipitated
the change? Was that timeframe coincident with any change of perceptions on
anyone's part, or any event, political or otherwise?" Drago asked.
"Mr. Banister, like his boss, [William] Harvey, was a psychopath. So I
took him to one side, over by the fireplace, and I was a little bit perterbed
--- and I knocked off one of them Dresden porcelain dolls? Actually I was
looking for a place to put his body, for coming up with the subject! I asked
him, 'Are you goddam crazy?' Because Bartes ... was connected with Bill Pawley.
And I figured this guy is some kind of agent-provocateur. First, we don't like
gringos around the Cubans ---"
"Did you say Banister's boss was Harvey?"
"Yeah!" Hemming replied, matter-of-factly.
"The Harvey we know---"
"Yeah! They served together when, FBI had Western hemisphere, kept OSS
out. They worked together. Former Bureau. One of the Bureau wanks that played
both sides of the fence."
"How long did the relationship continue?" Drago asked. "Did it
continue through '63? Between Harvey and Banister?"
"Started in World War Two."
"What kind of contact did Harvey have with Banister in the spring,
summer and fall of '63?"
"I wasn't too bright back then," Hemming replied, "and I had
Harvey ... pegged as a hood. [unintelligible] kept telling me he was FBI. [But I
said] This guy is a thug! Watch your wallet! And I figure Banister, at
the same time --- these are Mob guys that have come in with the Batista Cubans,
and they've talked about doin' this, and there's money for this --- same thing
with Giancanna and the Fontanbleu! They're all picking up the contract to do
Fidel, right? No! Wrong! They're setting up so they can burn the team, and gain
credits down in Havana!"
"Gerry," Dr. Jerry Rose cut in, "did you ever work for Jim
Garrison? And if you did, what did you do?"
"Four weeks. Then I got checks from Truth or Consequences, Incorporated
[sic]. But he screwed me out of the twenty-six volumes, so I don't like him
anymore." The exact meaning of this is not clear to me.
"Okay. What did you investigate?" Rose asked.
"Everything he wasn't!"
"Well, what wasn't he investigating?" Rose pressed on, adding,
"We're going to get you on this one."
"He was hired by Marcello to prove that people associated --- can you
imagine --- okay, here's Garrison. Okay? He's District Attorney. And here's this
David Ferrie, who's been sitting right alongside Marcello in the courthouse, on
a hard wooden bench getting slivers in his ass? And somebody's pointing his
finger, to hook up Ferrie? Garrison's gonna hook up Ferrie with the
assassination? And automatically hook up Marcello? No! Not at all. The whole
deal was to clear Marcello."
"I think in the time we have left," Charles Drago said a short time
later, "I want to address the issue of credibility. I think a lot of the
people here have mixed emotions, mixed thoughts, about what you're talking
about. And I want to get back to something you said at the very begining of this
thing --- that you've waited thirty years for this kind of inquiry to start.
That allows me to draw the inference that you weren't pleased with what happened
on November 22, 1963, and you've wanted someone to step forward and do something
about it. Why did you wait for someone else? Why didn't you come forward as
early as November 19, '63, to talk about what had almost happened in Miami, to
try to put an end to this thing? And, post- 11-22-63, why did you keep your own
counsel when you had this information?"
Without a moment of hestitation, Hemming replied, "Well, for about, oh,
eight milliseconds I thought about, 'Where's the nearest cop? Maybe I should
call J. Edgar Hoover, and tip him off that his boys may be involved in
something.' But see, there was no traffic cop around. When the government people
have been trying to recruit you to assassinate a president, you really don't go
to them and turn yourself in, now, do you?"
"Had you considered, over the years, going to either the public via the
"Which ones --- the damage control boys, like Posner?"
"All right --- you mention Posner --- you described him, accurately I
think, as damage control boy. And you've also said that within the ostensible
research community of Kennedy assassination scholars, that there are damage
control boys for the Intelligence community---"
"I've rolled over more than one. They're no longer damage control."
"Want to give us some initials?"
"Well --- these people, uh..." Hemming began. Then he appeared to
address the audience in general, his tone shifting to one of ironic sarcasm.
"Don't you people realize you're undermining confidence in your government?
That we face terrorists today, that could shut this country down with less than
two hundred ragheads? And a couple of Molotov cocktails? And that we've got to
allow this business to continue?"
By this point, the Gerry Patrick Hemming panel had nearly concluded. A few
more questions were asked, and answers --- indirect or otherwise was not plain
to grasp --- were provided. The "Angelo" described in the Silvia Odio
incident once saved Hemming's life, he said, and later played touch football on
Hickory Hill with Bobby Kennedy's kids (!). Silvia Odio was a double agent,
working for Castro trying to get her parents out of jail. Oswald was indeed
outside of her place in Dallas --- so was Angelo --- but, "I'm not rude
enough to ask these people why, even today." He was not in the "Marita
Lorenz Caravan." He has taken a human life on more than one occasion --- no
Hemming left the
Marines in October 1958 and the following year traveled to Cuba
where he gave help to Fidel
Castro and his revolutionary forces. In January 1959 Hemming met Lee
Harvey Oswald at the Atsugi Naval Air Station in Japan. Hemming
complained that Oswald boasted too much about his inside knowledge. For
instance, upon their first meeting; Oswald tried to impress Hemming by
showing off how much he knew about Hemming's background and mission -
somebody in an intelligence capacity had briefed Lee Harvey Oswald, and
Oswald sort of teased Hemming with this information. So, Hemming did not
particularly enjoy the company of Oswald from the start.[citation
Like many young
Americans, including Frank
Ferrie and Harry Dean, Hemming joined an American effort to overthrow
regime through the efforts of Fidel
Castro. When Castro proved to be a Communist, and subjected some
Americans to firing squads, most Americans "switched sides" and
this included Gerry Patrick Hemming.[citation
needed] who, in 1961, established Interpen
as a means to attack and weaken the Castro regime. Other members of Interpen
reportedly included Loran Hall, Roy Hargraves, William Seymour, Lawrence
Howard, Steve Wilson, Howard K. Davis, Edwin Collins, James Arthur Lewis,
Dennis Harber, Bill Dempsey, Dick Whatley, Ramigo Arce, Ronald
Augustinovich, Joe Garman, Edmund Kolby, Ralph Schlafter, Manuel Aguilar
and Oscar Del Pinto.[citation
Hemming was a
leader of Interpen,
or Intercontinental Penetration Force, a group of anti-Castro
guerrillas who trained at No
Name Key in the early 1960s.
files show that the agency had an informer within Interpen. His code name
was MM T-1. In one document dated June 16, 1961, it said that MM T-1 had
"been connected with Cuban revolutionary activities for the past
three years". One document dated May 12, 1961, claims that Allen
Lushane of Miami
"had made a trip to Texas
to recruit Americans for some future military action against the
Government of Cuba". The document adds that the "first training
camp was established by Gerald Patrick Hemming with Dick Watley and Ed
Colby running the camp." In an interview that he gave to John
M. Newman on January 6, 1995, Hemming claimed that the FBI informer
was Steve Wilson.
This group of
experienced soldiers were involved in training members of the anti-Castro
groups funded by the Central
Intelligence Agency in Florida
in the early 1960s. When the government began to crack down on raids from
Florida in 1962, Interpen set up a new training camp in New
Orleans, Louisiana. When this work came to an end in 1964 Hemming was
employed in the construction industry in Miami.
Gerry Hemming was
arrested on August 23, 1976 for the illegal transfer of a silencer and
drug smuggling. It seems that this was the point that he began talking
about his past work with the CIA. He told one reporter: "All of a
sudden they're accusing me of conspiracy to import marijuana and cocaine.
Hey, what about all the other things I've been into for the last 15 years,
lets talk about them. Let's talk about the Martin
Luther King thing, let's talk about Don Freed, Le
Coubre, nigger-killers in bed with the Mafia, the Mafia in bed with
the FBI, and the goddamn CIA in bed with all of them. Let's talk about all
the people I dirtied up for them over the years."
Hemming was convicted by a Miami jury of conspiracy to import
marijuana. In 1978 he was sentenced to six months in prison by U.S.
District Judge William M. Hoeveler. Hemming was released on appeal bond
and the conviction was later overturned.
On April 14,
1980, Hemming was arrested and charged with drug trafficking. He was held
on $200,000 bond in Palm
Beach County, Florida. He claimed that he had not smuggled Quaaludes,
but was establishing his bona fides with drug traffickers so he could
penetrate their networks. Hemming told Alan J. Weberman that he was
working for Mitchell
Werbell III and Lucien
Conein. Hemming was sentenced to 35 years in prison with a minimum
mandatory sentence of three years but the conviction was later overturned
did not publish this CIA memo linking its agents to the assassination of
John F. Kennedy. Hunt now decided to take legal action against the Liberty
Lobby. In December, 1981, he was awarded $650,000 in damages. Liberty
Lobby appealed to the United States Court of Appeals. It was claimed
that Hunt's attorney, Ellis
Rubin, had offered a clearly erroneous instruction as to the law of
defamation. The three-judge panel agreed and the case was retried. This
Lane defended the Liberty
Lobby against Hunt's action.
discovered Marchetti’s sources. The main source was William
Corson. It also emerged that Marchetti had also consulted James
Angleton and Alan
J. Weberman before publishing the article. As a result of obtaining
depositions from David
Atlee Phillips, Richard
Gordon Liddy, Stansfield
Turner, and Marita
Lorenz, plus a skillful cross-examination by Lane of E.
Howard Hunt, the jury decided in January, 1995, that Marchetti had not
been guilty of libel when he suggested that John F. Kennedy had been
assassinated by people working for the CIA. Lane states that during a
later meeting they had, Hemming corroborated the details of the
assassination which were outlined during the trial.