PLAYBOY INTERVIEW: JIM GARRISON

PLAYBOY MAGAZINE

‘On February 17, 1967, the New Orleans States-Item broke a story that would electrify the world and hurl district attorney Jim Garrison into a bitter fight for his political life. An enterprising reporter, checking vouchers filed with the city by the district attorney's office, discovered that Garrison had spent over $8000 investigating the assassination of President Kennedy. ‘Has the district attorney discovered valuable additional evidence,’ the States-Item asked editorially, ‘or is he merely saving some interesting new information that will gain for him exposure in a national magazine?’ Stung, Garrison counter-attacked, confirming that an inquiry into Kennedy's assassination was under way and charging that the States-Item's ‘irresponsible revelation has now created a problem for us in finding witnesses and getting cooperation from other witnesses and in at least one case has endangered the life of a witness.

‘On February 18, newsmen from all over the World converged on New Orleans to hear Garrison announce at a press conference: ‘We have been investigating the role of the city of New Orleans in the assassination of President Kennedy. And we have made some progress… I think substantial progress… What's more, there will be arrests.’ As reporters flashed news of Garrison's statement across the world, a 49-year-old New Orleans pilot, David Ferrie, told newsmen that the district attorney had him ‘pegged as the getaway pilot in an elaborate plot to kill Kennedy.’ Ferrie, a bizarre figure who wore a flaming-red wig, false eyebrows and make-up to conceal burns he had suffered years before, denied any involvement in a conspiracy to kill the President. Garrison, he said, was out to frame him. Four days later, Ferrie was found dead in his shabby three-room apartment in New Orleans, ostensibly of natural causes—though he left behind two suicide notes.

The press had greeted Garrison's initial claims about a conspiracy with a measure of skepticism, but Ferrie's death was front-page news around the world. Garrison broke his self-imposed silence to charge that Ferrie was ‘a man who, in my judgment, was one of history's most important individuals.’ According to Garrison, ‘Mr. Ferrie was one of those individuals I had in mind when I said there would be arrests shortly. We had reached a decision to arrest him early next week. Apparently we waited too long,’ But Garrison vowed that Ferrie's death would not halt his investigation, and added, ‘My staff and I solved the assassination weeks ago. I wouldn't say this if we didn't have the evidence beyond a shadow of a doubt. We know the key individuals, the cities involved and how it was done...

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