“We seek a free flow of information...We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts...For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.”
JFK (February 26, 1962)
In his book, De Dallas à Montréal, Screenwriter and video director, Maurice Phillipps explored the phenomena of coincidence in many pieces of information concerning the assassination of John F. Kennedy leading to Montreal and to Canadian characters. He deduced that his conclusions reveal the ignorance of Americans to the importance of the Montreal Mafia and it's connections to the American Cosa Nostra. Let's examine Phillipps list of trails leading from Dallas to Montreal:
A 1964 FBI document (CE 2195) revealed that on a bus trip to Mexico City in September 1963, Lee Harvey Oswald was accompanied by an ex-chaplain in the Canadian Army using the alias Jack Bowen.1 Once back in the United States, this Montreal resident was issued a passport at the Canadian Consulate in New Orleans. The name on the passport was that of Albert Alexander Osborne. Canadian officers granted him this passport even though no one could testify to his true identity. Even stranger, the address he gave the authorities was in reality that of the Montreal YMCA. Another interesting coincidence is that the Canadian Consulate in New Orleans was conveniently located in Clay Shaw's International Trade Mart.
Who was Albert Osborne?
Documents unearthed in the 1970s show the FBI had suspected Osborne as a major suspect in its massive JFK assassination investigation. Bob Gemberling, a leading FBI investigator, stated that Osborne was one of the few men we had a separate file on. Albert Alexander Osborne, a soldier turned Soviet spy, was also known as John Howard Bowen. Bowen claimed to be an itinerant preacher and missionary, raised in an orphanage in Pennsylvania. He made frequent trips to and from Mexico to Texas, Alabama and beyond. Osborne was described elsewhere as the head of an assassination squad based in Mexico.
Newly released US government documents show that the Cambridge News received a call shortly after 6pm on November 22, 1963, warning "Call the American Embassy in London for some big news." Six pm in Great Britain is noon in the United States. The call was made from Grimsby, England 25 minutes before JFK was shot. Grimsby was the birthplace of Albert Osborne and he was living there at the time with his sister.
The Garrison investigation revealed that, as an agent of the CIA, Clay Shaw associated with Mortimer Bloomfield,2 a Montreal lawyer and former Major in the OSS. Both were on the board of directors of CMC PERMINDEX. PERMINDEX at one time was based in Montreal. According to Garrison witness Jules Ricco Kimble, Ferrie invited Kimbell to accompany him on a flight to Monteal in the summer of 1963.3 Clay Shaw was also a passenger on that flight. Kimble later admitted to have furnished, in 1968, a false identity to James Earl Ray, the patsy in Martin Luther King assassination. The passport given to Ray had been forged in a Montreal office used as a front by the CIA.
Montreal businessman, Norman Le Blanc, was heard discussing the purchase of a cheap carbine sold in a magazine as one that would be “good to kill Kennedy.” This occurred in New Orleans months before the assassination. Le Blanc, later implicated in Watergate with his friend Robert Vesco, was close to Giuseppe Cotroni, a Montreal gangster and associate of Jack Ruby's close friend, Lewis McWillie, as well as Santo Trafficnte, Meyer Lansky, and Norman Rothman.
Three months before the JFK assassination, Canadian office of the US. Customs reported that Lee Harvey Oswald was seen in Montreal and positively identified distributing Fair Play for Cuba Committee pamphlets with a group of FPCC members.4 The Royal Canadian Mounted Police perceived this report serious enough to make further inquiries and attempted to identify Oswald's pro-Castro companions even though the FBI tried to dismiss the Customs report as hearsay. In his book, JFK: The French Connection, Peter Kross wrote that Corsican drug kingpin and OAS assassin, Micheal Victor Mertz, was also arrested for passing out leaflets on a street in Paris, was involved in a brawl and arrested. This was three months before Oswald played out the same scenario in New Orleans....trade-craft. In Oswald's case, he actually described the incident in a letter to V.T. Lee, the National Chairman of the FPFC before the event took place.
The RCMP also conducted an investigation into Oswald's revolver. Although officially mail ordered in California, really came from Montreal through a subsidiary of Century International Arms, which coincidentally was the same CIA Montreal company implicated in the Iran-Contra arms-for-drugs scandal.5
One of Castro's prisoners visited by Jack Ruby in 1959 was Lucien Rivard. A member of Montreal Cotroni family, a branch of Joe Bonanno's New York organization, Rivard was arrested in 1964 in a large heroin raid. Paul Mondolini furnished the drug via Mexico City to Rivard, a Corsican trafficker and accomplice of Micheal Victor Mertz. According to a CIA document, Mertz, using the name of rival OAS terrorist Jean Souetre, was expelled from Dallas by the Immigration and Naturalization Service on November 23, 1963. While detained in Montreal's Bordeaux jail and awaiting extradition to the United States, both Rivard and his superior Joe Bonanno had important figures of the Canadian government intercede for their release. The result was the Rivard Affair, one of the biggest scandals in Canadian history. Rivard escaped Bordeaux and thus became a folklore hero. The Rivard Affair finally forced the Canadian Minister of Justice to resign.
The same Canadian government which helped Rivard also gave a new identity to Oswald's companion, Bowen/Osborne, on his trip to Mexico. Did the Montreal Mafia as well as Canadian intelligence operatives, who are also OSS veterans and accomplices of the CIA, play a role in the JFK assassination?
A November 1967 article in Winnipeg Free Press reported that an FBI man named Merryl Nelson was told a story by a local businessman (name withheld for security reasons). A Canadian magazine, Maclean's also covered this event and identified the businessman informant as Richard Giesbrecht, father of four, and according to the article, a devout sincere and sensible Mennonite.6 To summarize an article written by Paris Flamonde in 1969,7Giesbrecht's story follows:
Giesbrecht reported a conversation he overheard on February 13, 1964 in the Horizon Room, a cocktail lounge at the Winnipeg International Airport. Giesbrecht was seated near and overheard two men discussing the assassination of President Kennedy. He described one of the men as having “...the oddest hair and eyebrows I’d ever seen. The eyebrows were wide and sort of streaky. The hair was very shiny and it started quite far back on his head.” The man also had heavy-rimmed glasses and reminded Giesbrecht of comedian Stan Laurel. Later he identified this man as David Ferrie. He described the man Ferrie was speaking to as middle to late forties, reddish blond hair and a badly pockmarked neck and jaw. His accent sounded Latin and he wore a hearing aid. The men's clothing was casual. They wore light colored tweed suits and loafers. He perceived both as homosexuals. The thrust of the conversation revolved around how much Oswald had told his wife about the “plot” to kill JFK. The name Isaacs was mentioned and his relationship with Oswald discussed. The men wondered how a man like Isaacs could have gotten himself involved with a “psycho” like Lee Oswald. It seems that Isaacs was caught on television video near the President when he arrived in Dallas. Presumably this was at Love Field. They further related that Isaacs was under surveillance by a man named Hoffman, or Hochman, who was to “relieve” him of and destroy a 1958 model automobile Isaacs possessed. Ferrie added that “we have more money at our disposal now than at any other time.”
The conversation then turned to another topic and the two began speaking of a meeting to take place at the Townhouse Motor Hotel in Kansas City, Missouri, on March 18th. Giesbrecht overheard that they mentioned that a rendezvous in the banquet room that would be registered under the name of a textile firm. They added that there had been no meeting held since November, 1963. Ferrie mentioned that an “aunt” (or “auntie”?—gay patois for an older homosexual) named what sounded like “Romeniuk” would be flying in from California. The name was mentioned several times; Ferrie asked about some merchandise coming out of Nevada and the other man indicated that things had gotten too risky and that the house, or shop, at a place called Mercury had been closed down. He further explained that a “good shipment” had reached Caracas from Newport. The Warren Commission was discussed and it was felt that it's investigation would continue weather or not Oswald was found guilty.
As the conversation abated, Giesbrecht became a little “jittery or excited,” and decided to leave and contact the police. The last thing he overheard was a remark by Ferrie that he had flown a plane like the one standing outside the window of the cocktail lounge.
As Giesbrecht departed he noticed another man had been watching him for some time from another table. The man was about thirty-five, light hair, flushed-cheeked, Six feet tall and two hundred pounds, with a slightly deformed nose. His left hand appeared to be tattooed or scarred.
When Giesbrecht left he was followed. When he attempted to visit the Royal Canadian Mounted Police office on the next floor of the airport, his path was blocked by a large man. Getting to a telephone, he began relating the situation to an RCMP corporal at the downtown headquarters. However, noticing that the man following him was rapidly approaching, he hung up and raced off. Finally he successfully eluded the man, or being abandoned by him. He telephoned his lawyer who contacted the United States Consulate which in turn notified the FBI.
The Maclean’s article mentions Geisprecht's confusion at the Bureau’s behavior. Initially FBI agent Merryl Nelson's reaction was “This looks like the break we’ve been waiting for.” However, a few months later, he remembered being informed that he should forget about the entire episode as it was “too big,” and that “we can’t protect you in Canada.”8 It was on February 23, 1967 that Giesbrecht saw a photograph of David Ferrie in a newspaper. He thought the picture looked familiar; then he realized it was one of the men he had overheard in the airport.9
Soon after the Winnipeg Free Press broke the story, one of Jim Garrison’s aides got in touch with Geisbrecht. At last there was an official who actually wanted to pursue his evidence. Telephone calls were exchanged, including conversations between Giesbrecht and Garrison.10 In September, according to Maclean’s, he tentatively agreed to testify at Clay Shaw’s forthcoming trial.11
Garrison accepted that Ferrie, who was easily recognizable because of his red wig and false eyebrows, as one of the Winnipeg men. Some believe that the other man was Maj. L.M. Bloomfield, former OSS officer, living in Montreal. Like Clay Shaw, Bloomfield was a board member of the CIA-sponsored Centro Mondiale Commerciale in Rome.
Flamonde felt the incident was of sufficient importance to warrant a personal inquiry and he called Giesbrecht in Winnipeg from New York. Giesbrecht agreed to answer a few questions. That conversation, between the witness and the Flamonde, went as follows:
Q. Is there any doubt in your mind that the conversation you overheard [at the Winnipeg Airport] referred to the conspiracy relating to the assassination of the President? A. Oh, yes. Most definitely [it was]. Q. There is no doubt in your mind? A. No, none at all.
Q. From the photographs you have seen of David Ferrie, how certain are you that he was one of the two men talking? A. Well, I’ll put it this way. It was a photo three years after—that I’d seen this man— three years after—without even seeing a story on it, that immediately this stuck out. And I had identified this man three years previous, but not knowing it was a man by the name of Ferrie, you know. Q. When was the first time you ever saw a photograph of Ferrie? A. About five or six months ago. Q. Therefore there would have been a three-year lapse between seeing the man and the photograph? A. Right, right. Q. Yet, on the basis of that, what would you say your certainty that it was Ferrie was? Fifty percent? Eighty percent? A. I would say a hundred percent.
Flamonde thought that Giesbrecht's mention of the name sounding like “Romeniuk,” might be Romanian or at least eastern European. He asked Giesbrecht whether any mention had been made of the Old Catholic Church, or related religious bodies, to which the businessman replied “No comment.”12
Flamonde sought more information regarding the mysterious men at Winnipeg Airport. Giesbrecht continued:
A. I don’t know the size of them. I didn’t see either one of the two standing up. The color of the hair? The one that I thought was Ruby [sic; Ferrie?] would have been a very light brown or red, and the other fellow, he would be blondish, grayish, you know, blond-gray, between red and blond, turning gray.
Q. Right. Do you have any idea who the man was, other than Ferrie? A. At that time, or now? Q. Now. A. Well, I again would say “no comment” there. Q. Right. But you have no doubt about the one man being Ferrie? A. No, no doubt in my mind. Q. So, in summation, we may say that in your mind there is no question that it was Ferrie, you have no comment at this time on who the second man might have been, you have no comment on whether you have been contacted by any intelligence agencies recently. A. Right.
What's going on here?
“Some are born more equal than others.”
The pig, Animal Farm, George Orwell
So what can be deduced from this incident? It doesn't seem Geisbrecht had any reason to make up a story like this. He seemed to be a respected businessman and family man as well. He reported it to authorities immediately. I believe him. The only individual in his story that can be identified with any assurance is David Ferrie. His unmistakable appearance makes him a poor choice for clandestine work. It has also been established that Ferrie made trips to Canada. Garrison witness Jules Ricco Kimble accompanied him and Clay Shaw and picked up a Latin or Cuban on such a trip in the summer of 1963. In addition he was asked by Ferrie to accompany him again a month or so later. Kimbell turned him down on that occasion. Could the man conversing with Ferrie have been Shaw? It's not likely. The man had a Latin accent and wore a hearing aid. Louis Bloomfield13 has been suggested, but again the Latin accent doesn't fit. Ferrie was known to be close friends with Eladio Del Valle. It could have been him. But that is speculation.
We do know the name of a person they were discussing however. A man named “Isaacs.” Let's take a look at who this might be. There are several men with the name Isaacs that had associations with Oswald.
When the Oswald's returned from the Soviet Union in June of 1962, they appeared at the Special Services Welfare Center in New York City. There they received help from a social worker named Martin Isaacs. Isaacs interviewed Oswald's family. He granted the Oswald's a loan, put them up overnight in a Times Square hotel, and booked them on a commercial flight to Dallas, via Atlanta.14 It seems quite unlikely that this is the Isaacs Ferrie and his friend were speaking of.
Charles Isaacs was a customer service manager for American Airlines. Interviewed Jan. 6, 1964 due to fact that his name, phone number and place of employment had been listed in Jack Ruby's notebook. It seems that Mrs. Isaacs had at one time worked for Ruby as a wardrobe designer and had confronted Ruby in regard to a “check that bounced.” The Ruby connection is interesting.
The Isaacs Apparatus
A man who fits the bill best, however, is Professor Harold Isaacs, a former Communist spy, later become a paid agent of the Japanese. An ex-editor of Newsweek, who worked in the United States at MIT in 1953, he also maintained a network in Japan and possibly throughout the world specializing in youth movements. Since 1950, he had also been involved in classified projects for the CIA. Originally a Trotskyite, he was a journalist in Shanghai in the 1930's and had a direct link to Charles Willoughby, the Intelligence chief under General Douglas MacArthur.15 Isaacs wrote articles for The Militant, the organ of the Socialist Worker Party, which certainly made him known to a subscriber named Lee H. Oswald. Effectively a triple agent, men like Isaacs were never what they appeared to be. It was never quite clear whom he might be working for.
The CIA funded a project out of MIT through the 'Isaacs apparatus' to bring over a group from Japan to embark on a study of the Japanese 'Science of Thought.' More likely than not it was a part of the MKULTRA Project. In Nippon, they were called 'Thought Police'. Were the Japanese able to take known communists and turn them into fascists? Sounds like something Willoughby would champion enthusiastically. Dr. Isaacs, it seems, had close ties with a linguistics-oriented group of Japanese in Tokyo led by Chikao Fujisawa. The goal of this CIA project was the same as that of Isaacs and Fujisawa; the indoctrination of student radicals around the world. An author and a linguist, Fujisawa was fluent in five languages including Russian. He authored “A Prophecy of the Dawn of a New Age,” “The Great Shinto Purification Ritual” and “On the Divine Mission of Nippon.” On the one hand, it was known that Fujisawa was a purged war criminal hired by the U.S. Army to indoctrinate Americans.16 On the other hand, that the same man worked for Soviet intelligence. The contradiction was unsettling.
During Oswald's tour of Japan, it is known that he became involved with a group of Japanese Communists. Was this the Isaacs apparatus? Did his cousin Marilyn encourage this contact? Was she on a CIA mission to arrange contacts for possible defectors to the Soviet Union? Was she chosen because of her relationship with Oswald? Was she infiltrating the Isaacs apparatus or was she working for Isaacs? Was Oswald a 'dangle'?
CD1080 tells of Isaacs' international travels and concentration on study in India. Strangely, although this WC document is entitled “Marilyn Dorthea Murret,” it makes no mention of her. FBI document CD942 links Murret to Isaacs revealing that Murret traveled extensively in the Far East and spent long periods of time in India.17
Could Isaacs have been involved with Oswald? Could he have been in Dallas on November 22, 1963 as Ferrie's conversation indicated? An independent researcher at MIT discovered that Isaacs taught the course, “Changing Outlook and Identities in the World,” every year throughout the 60's except for 1963-64. Thus he could have been in Dallas at the right time. In addition, Mary Ferrell found listings for Harold R. Isaacs as well as Charles R. Isaacs in Dallas directory for the years 1961-63. Being that Oswald was known to have been involved with communists is Japan and that his cousin Marilyn Murret was linked by the FBI to Isaacs, the connection is possible. The links to Oswald, Murret and Isaacs and the CIA are extensive.
It was CIA funds that setup the MIT Center for International Studies. Like Langley, a guard watched the door and the participating academicians must show badges when entering or leaving. The center was founded by Walt Whitman Rostow, economics professor who served in OSS in WWII and later was chief of the State Department's Policy Planning Staff in the Kennedy and Johnson Administrations. A book entitled The Dynamics of Soviet Society (1953) was produced by Rostow and colleagues and financed by the CIA. It was published in two versions. One classified for circulation within the intelligence agencies and a sanitized version for public consumption. Clearly, the MIT Center for Intrernational Studies was a CIA think tank.18
The man said to be watching Isaacs was named Hoffman, or Hochman. A possibility here is Troy Hauckman of the Minutemen. This man was to “relieve” Isaacs of and destroy a 1958 model automobile Isaacs possessed. A possible tie in here is the transfer of weapons from a Dodge to a Thunderbird involving Jack Ruby associates, Donnell Whittier and John Elrod. They were arrested but the driver of the vehicle fled the scene. Was this Ruby associate Charles Isaacs?
As for the reference to “sales meeting” at the Townhouse Motor Hotel in Kansas City, Missouri, on March 18th, is there any hint of what this might mean? The reservations made were in the name of a textile firm. It seems an odd coincidence that Watergater burglers were allegedly attending a sales meeting of a dummy corporation in a hotel banquet room the night they were caught breaking into the offices of the Democratic Party National Committee. The Town House Motor Hotel was located on the corner of Kellogg and Broadway, the main street of Witchita, KS. (FBI report). Or was it Town House Motor Inn also located in K.C. This was the Inn where the Minutemen held their first national conference. It's known that David Ferrie made six phone calls to an oil producer living in Witchita, KS in the fall of 62. Visa versa, he also made several calls from Witchita to New Orleans in early 63. Of course another place of business with the name Town and Country is the one in New Orleans, operation center of Carlos Marcello.
Geibrecht also mentioned that Ferrie asked about some merchandise coming out of Nevada. The man he was conversing with indicated that things had gotten too risky and that the house, or shop, at a place called Mercury had been closed down. He further explained that a “good shipment” had reached Caracas from Newport.19
Was this a shipment of arms? What was Mercury? A possibility is that this refered to a right-wing periodical called the American Mercury. The military editor of this publication in 1963 was none other than Gen. Edwin Walker. He had replaced Gen. Charlies Willoughby.
In checking out this information, the FBI's LV office discovered there was a shop in Mercury Nevada, (location of the Atomic Energy Commission's testing site).
The research of Flamonde, Weberman, Whitmey is intriguing. Is it a link to a conspiratorial cabal involving Ferrie, Shaw, Ruby's gun running associates, Isaacs and Oswald? Or is it possible the Winnipeg Airport escapade was merely CIA disinformation? The event conveniently occurred just as Garrison was getting his investigation underway.
As for the Philipps hypothesis that the murder of JFK was the result of a conspiracy uniting both Mafia and intelligence people, it seems more convincing. Could Rivard and Bonanno be the missing link between the powerful Hoffa-Marcello-Trafficante-Giancana circle that ordered JFK's execution? Were Corsicans executioners rewarded with heroin? It appears that Lucien Rivard, and thus Joseph Bonanno and the New York Mafia, were solidly linked with Canadian political figures.20 The usual suspects in assassination literature that have links to Montreal include Dave Ferrie, Clay Shaw, Micheal Victor Mertz, L.M. Bloomfield, Lee Oswald, James Earl Ray and Albert Osborne, alias Jack Bowen.
“Truth crushed to earth, will rise again.”
The Winnipeg Airport Incident, Paris Flammonde, The Kennedy Conspiracy, Meredith Press, New York, 1969.
Coup D'Etat in America, Alan J. Weberman and Michael Canfield, Quick American Archives1992.
Who's Who in the JFK Assassination, Michael Benson, Citadel Press, 1993.
The Winnipeg Airport Incidents, Peter Whitmey, The Fourth Decade, November 1995.
The Winnipeg Airport Incident Revisited, Peter Whitmey, The Fourth Decade, March 1999.
The Invisible Government, David Wise and Thomas B. Ross, Bantam Books, 1964.