My Interviews With David Slawson Of The Warren Commission

June 28, 2015

David Slawson

By John Titus

There are researchers that spend every day digging deeply into the 50 year-old unsolved mystery of the Kennedy assassination. It’s hard to understand the motivation until you realize that Kennedy’s death in Dallas on November 22nd 1963 provides a road map to unlocking nearly every covert plot since then. We’re talking about the Bobby Kennedy assassination, Martin Luther King, Watergate and Nixon, the killing off of the Black Panthers and the American Indian movement, Iran-Contra, and the wars in the Middle East. At a time when the United States was overthrowing governments around the globe, the country fell victim to an internal coup that changed the course of history. The entire leadership of the political “left” in the United States was wiped out in a decade.
I was very young on the day of John F. Kennedy’s assassination. I remember my father lying on our couch not feeling well. I asked my mother why he was upset, and she told me that the President had been killed. Later I watched as a young John Kennedy junior saluted his father’s casket as it rolled by in the funeral procession. Years later, as a teenager I watched the movie “The Parallax View” and was rocked to the core. I went home and told my father about the films assassination conspiracy and he thoughtfully reminded me that many people thought Kennedy was killed by a similar plot.
After reading a number of books on the Kennedy assassination, I had put the subject to rest in my mind. It was painfully obvious that JFK had been killed by powerful interests within our own government, with a cover-up led by the members of The Warren Commission. My research interests were directed to more contemporary subjects like the 9/11 attacks, the middle-east wars, the Boston Marathon Bombing and the U.S.-backed Nazi coup in Ukraine. That is, until I was sitting in a local tavern reading James Douglass’s superb book “JFK And The Unspeakable; Why He Died and Why it Matters”. A friend happened to sit with me and asked if I had ever met David Slawson, an attorney for The Warren Commission who, though very old, was still alive and living in our community. Our mutual friend said he could arrange a meeting if I was interested.
Hell yes, I’m in.
My first meeting with David Slawson was on April 2nd 2015. Our mutual friend knew Slawson because they both sat on the board of a local rural medical clinic. The three of us had lunch in an upscale but very noisy restaurant near the seaside on a bright, sunny day. David Slawson, at 85 or so, is moving a little slow but has all his mental capacity and humor. Slawson had lived in Colorado and campaigned for John Kennedy during his election. He was a Harvard trained physicist and corporate attorney when he was called by Howard Willens to see if he would serve as an attorney/investigator for the Warren Commission, established to supposedly solve the mysteries surrounding the assassination of President Kennedy. Slawson’s polite, gentile demeanor belies the complex experiences he had in the past, but like other commission investigators who supported the government’s pre-destined conclusion about the assassination, Slawson went on to be a law professor at The University of Southern California. His speaking method is soft, deliberate and provocative. In the noisy restaurant, I felt like I was dining with my grandfather.
I had prepared a dozen questions that I wanted to run past Slawson, subjects ranging from Lee Harvey Oswald’s intelligence connections to the false conclusions about the rifle ballistics, to evidence of a conspiracy. But nearly as soon as David Slawson sat down, he began a running synopsis of his experiences with the Warren Commission that left brief moments to interject questions or comments from my friend and I. The pre-arranged questions were out for now. I opted to take his experiences in and plan for a second interview which would come later. Over the 2- 1/2 –hour lunch, people around us strained to listen in as Slawson wove his experiences with the CIA and The Warren Commission into a comfortable conclusion that The Commission had indeed got it right- that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone, deranged assassin, case closed.
David Slawson had recently come back into the public eye after being interviewed by former New York Times reporter Philip Shenon. In a well-written but totally implausible book titled “A Cruel And Shocking Act: The Secret History Of The Kennedy Assassination”, David Slawson played an important role. Shenon profiles Slawson as he is hired by the Commission, is sent to Mexico City on leads that Oswald was dealing with The Russian and Cuban embassies, and nearly every convenient explanation that Oswald must have been the lone assassin. Shenon, as well as Slawson, clearly promotes the lone gunman theory, but Shenon was able to pull a little trick. In publicized articles supporting his book, Shenon got Slawson to say that maybe the Warren Commission got it a little wrong.
The Warren Commission consisted of Justice Earl Warren, Senator John Cooper, Senator Richard Russell, Congressmen Gerald Ford and Hale Boggs, and two of the most powerful men in the world – John J. McCLoy and former CIA Director Allen Dulles. McCloy had overseen the supposed “de-nazification” of post-war Germany and went on to become president of The World Bank, among other things elite. Both Dulles and McCloy were up to their elbows with Nazi involvement through the Gehlen Organization and the Nazi ratlines to the Middle East, North and South America. Dulles and Kennedy were bitter enemies and Dulles had been fired by Kennedy after the Bay of Pigs debacle. Hale Boggs and Richard Russell were known to have been at odds with the Warren Commission conclusions, and Boggs was killed in a plane crash in Alaska, one of the many deaths surrounding the Kennedy assassination.
Philip Shenon’s slick publicity move with David Slawson was to show Slawson information about a State Department employee, Charles William Thomas, who had been driven to suicide after being drummed out of the State Department. It seems that Thomas had been investigating a lead that Lee Harvey Oswald had been influenced by a beautiful female employee of the Mexico City Cuban Consulate, Sylvia Duran. Nobody, and I mean nobody wanted this State Department official looking into the strange events surrounding Oswald’s alleged visit to Mexico City, whatever conclusions he arrived at. His career was ruined, he was destitute and broke, and he killed himself. Shenon was able to squeeze an admission out of Slawson that – if Oswald had indeed been influenced by Cuban spies to shoot Kennedy then that was an overlooked mistake made by the Warren Commission. The problem was, the whole premise was complete bullshit, as we shall see. The reader must understand that if one holds to the storyline that the Cubans or Russians motivated Oswald to kill Kennedy (Oswald was, in his own words, “a patsy”) then the premise of the cover-up is continuously maintained. Commies bad. Warren Commission good. Shenons book “A Cruel And Shocking Act” is a complete farce that is intended to provide cover against the upcoming release of more Kennedy assassination documents in 2017. But he did get Slawson to crack open the door to alternative explanations of the assassination, something that is rarely reported from members of that “investigative” body, and that is where I wanted to go.
David Slawson and William Coleman were assigned to investigate evidence of a foreign conspiracy to kill the President, and part of their investigation took them to the CIA station in Mexico City. The Warren Report contends that Oswald visited the Soviet Embassy and the Cuban consulate that was housed in the same building. Slawson believes this to be true and accurate, something that we disagreed about. Slawson, through the encouragement of author Shenon, speculates that Oswald may have been influenced to kill Kennedy as an act of support for Fidel Castro, who was the target of CIA assassination plots. There is absolutely no proof whatsoever that this was the case, but it served well to frame more covert action against Cuba. Oswald of course, had been to the Soviet Union as part of what we now recognize as a false defector program. Like Charles William Thomas, State Department official Otto Otepka was also drummed out of his job for attempting to seek the names of false defectors sent to infiltrate Russian intelligence. There were a half dozen men, including former military personnel and a guy named Robert Webster from The Rand Corporation (often used as a CIA front) that were suspected to be in the program. Oswald was there at the same time.
Slawson does provide some “inside baseball” about the operation of the Commission, for instance Earl Warren refused to let Slawson and Coleman interview Cuban consulate employee Sylvia Duran because she “was a Communist”. Duran had been arrested by Mexican security services at the behest of the CIA, interrogated and tortured until she admitted she had an affair with Oswald, something she denied repeatedly afterward. Warren also did not want the investigators to send a letter of inquiry to Cuba and Russia about Oswald’s alleged embassy visit, but Dick Frank of the State Department (someone we will re-visit later) sent it through the Swiss government. Both nations denied any involvement in the assassination, of course. Slawson’s partner Bill Coleman also had a top-secret meeting with Fidel Castro and came away believing there was no Cuban involvement.
Slawson and Coleman’s investigation in Mexico City was less than stellar. While in the U.S., Slawson was provided a “minder” by the CIA named Ray Rocca. Slawson didn’t know, but Rocca was deputy to James Angleton, one of the agency’s spookiest of spooks that ran counterintelligence operations, and was one of the few officials that were tracking or handling Oswald. In Mexico City, the investigation labored through markets, hotels and restaurants producing no useful information. But there was one significant event that occurred; CIA station chief Winn Scott took Coleman and Slawson into a sub-basement well below his office. Inside, Scott turned on a radio to shield their voices from listening devices. Scott told them that this was top secret, they were held to a code of silence to what was about to happen. In the safe room, Winn Scott had tape recordings allegedly of Oswald inside the Soviet and Cuban embassies. What Slawson told me next blew my mind, and I still don’t know what to make of it. As the story goes, Coleman stayed in the basement safe room and listened to the recordings, while Slawson returned upstairs to another part of the building. Slawson claims he never listened to the recordings. When I reviewed my notes from this first meeting, I simply could not believe this. How could Slawson be sent on a mission to Mexico City to solve the assassination of the President, only to leave when the most important piece of top secret information is being revealed to them? I just didn’t buy it and would go over this again in our second 2-1/2 hour lunch meeting.
There were long periods where Slawson steered the discussion to more mundane trivia, and was dismissive about alternative theories of the assassination. He had met both Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld for instance, and they were both assholes. We discussed Oswald’s interview with journalist Pricilla Johnson in Russia (he thought that Johnson, like Sylvia Duran, was attracted to Oswald), and his unwavering adherence to the single-bullet theory. Slawson, who was trained in Physics at Harvard before getting his law degree, stubbornly contends that the magic bullet, CE 399, had what he calls “a soft landing”. This is a hallucinatory idea considering the seven wounds in two men (Kennedy and Governor Connolly) the completely intact bullet made. Without this concept, the premise of the Commission that there was one, lone shooter completely falls apart.
I chose to bite my tongue on some of these subjects and arrange for a second meeting where I could come prepared with actual documents. No sense in arguing with an 85 year-old man in a crowded restaurant, as people were already listening in on our conversation. My friend asked him if he could go back and do it again, what would he like to do? Slawson replied that he would have liked to interview Sylvia Duran, the woman from the Cuban Consolate. I asked him if he had reviewed any of the documents that had been released in the ‘90’s, since they contained a great deal of relevant information. He told me that the only documents he had seen were the few that author Philip Shenon showed him. A-ha, I thought, time to pull up some documents from The House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) which concluded there was a probable conspiracy. With that, I asked about a second meeting, we said pleasant goodbyes and Slawson left the restaurant.
Our next meeting – Slawson, myself and our mutual friend was at a quieter restaurant on June 19th. I had prepared and sent about thirty pages of documents to both Slawson and our friend, and spent quite a bit of time on research. It was time well spent on my behalf, but I don’t think Slawson dug into them too deeply. In fact, the packet of documents and questions I had sent him was lost in his office somewhere, but we had copies of everything and brought them.
I began by relating two first-hand pieces of information that I had found out. The first was regarding President Kennedy’s personal doctor, George Burkley. I had spoken to a family member of Dr. Burkley’s and they told me some interesting details; Burkley had believed there was indeed a conspiracy to kill Kennedy. There was a dark humor the family remembered, that people had thought that Dr. Burkley had been in possession of Kennedy’s brain, which actually is missing. That seems unlikely, but something very interesting happened. Something relating to the assassination – something very important – was stolen from Dr. Burkley as he traveled between airports on his way to Denver. What that item is we will never know. I imagine it had to do with the autopsy records, or perhaps it could even have been a bullet. Through the HSCA records, I obtained a document showing that through his attorney, Dr. Burkley had contacted investigators and claimed he had proof of a conspiracy. This memo to file, from Richard Sprague was never followed-up on, as Sprague was replaced by Robert Blakey who nearly destroyed the investigation. I asked Slawson what he thought of the document, and he wasn’t impressed. My point was, hey, Dr. Burkley was in the motorcade when JFK was shot. He was in Parkland hospital with the body. He was on Air Force 1, and at the hospital at Bethesda. And he had some important evidence stolen from him in the airport. Slawson’s answer was very unusual; he remarked that Burkley should have brought it to the commission. I replied that he must have feared for his reputation and his family, or didn’t trust the commission. Slawson stated that Burkley could have been considered an accessory after the fact for withholding evidence. I found that response less than sincere. I showed him documents that show, in his own handwriting, where Gerald Ford changed the entry location of the bullet in Kennedy’s back (below the shoulder) to higher up on his neck. This was done to change the path of the bullet to conform with the magic bullet theory. Nada. No response.
The next bit of first-hand information I had was pertaining to Oswald’s alleged shooting at other peoples targets at a Texas shooting range, making a scene as to be clearly recognized. Years earlier, I had a source named Gary Eitel, a former helicopter combat pilot from the Vietnam war. Eitel had, at various times, been a contract pilot for the CIA and was involved in a federal whistleblower case. After Eitel left the military, he had worked as a law enforcement officer in Texas. Out of curiosity he went to that same shooting range to interview the owner. At first, the guy was scared to death and didn’t want to talk about Oswald. Eitel assured him he wasn’t there on official business, and the guy loosened up. It seems that the person at the shooting range was not Oswald, it was a completely different person – a double. This was a good lead-in to a discussion about the multiple Oswalds. Now armed with the HSCA’s “Lopez report”, a piece of really good investigative work I ran through the many descriptions of someone posing as Oswald. At nearly the same time, Oswald was with two Cubans at the house of a woman named Sylvia Odio, at the shooting range, on the bus to Mexico City, and even spotted in Austin. There were simply too many Oswalds in too many places. The Lopez report has testimony that the person posing as Oswald in Mexico City was 5’ 6” and about 135 pounds with blond hair. The Oswald killed in Dallas by Jack Ruby was about 5’ 10” and 165 pounds. These descriptions came from Sylvia Duran and Mr. Azcue at the Cuban consulate, as well as a number of university students that witnessed the imposter. According to Slawson, it’s all a case of mistaken identity, he doesn’t buy it. I said they should have put more stock in Sylvia Odio’s story about Oswald and the Cubans but Slawson dismissed it by saying that Odio was under the care of a doctor and was unstable. Dead end.
Finally, I returned to the topic of the CIA station in Mexico City and the alleged recordings of Oswald. I asked him again, did he listen to the tapes? I told him that Winn Scott, the station chief had ordered a copy of Oswald in a radio debate with anti-Castro Cubans, and had done a voice comparison. Further, it is known that Hoover’s FBI did a voice comparison and said the voice on the tapes were not Oswald. Hoover didn’t even believe Oswald was in Mexico City at all. What Slawson told me next was unbelievable; He did indeed leave the safe room and went upstairs. Why would he do that? Slawson said he went up to talk to the FBI. He told them how important it was to take notes of literally everything that witnesses said. He told them that for instance, he wondered how Oswald could travel so cheaply. Marina Oswald told him that he lived on bananas while traveling. Slawson told the FBI that one of the witnesses on the bus to Mexico said some guy on the bus ate nothing but bananas, so Slawson concluded that was indeed Oswald. I couldn’t believe it. You’re on a mission to the CIA station, the CIA station chief Winn Scott is playing a top-secret tape and you go upstairs to talk to the FBI about bananas. Could there be a reason that Slawson does not want to talk about listening to the tape? It doesn’t seem like he lied about it but the banana story is a bridge too far. He does say however, that he believes the tapes were altered or there is an imposter on them. How can he know that if he didn’t hear the tapes? I remind him that if there is an imposter on the tape, why does he reject the testimony that the “Oswald” seen in Mexico City was himself an imposter? Slawson says it’s way different having an imposter on tape as opposed to an imposter in person. I tell him I don’t agree and he shrugs.
Returning to the Lopez report, I show Slawson that there is absolutely no proof that Oswald was even in Mexico City. No photos from the surveillance cameras, none. Slawson says there were budgetary constraints and the station couldn’t run all their surveillance cameras at once. That’s just plain wrong. I remind him that Lopez and Hardway from the HSCA wanted to indict both David Atlee Phillips and Anne Goodpasture of the CIA. Phillips was likely a handler of Oswald and Goodpasture was caught lying about the camera surveillance. In fact, the Cubans themselves had a copy of a photo of the alleged Oswald, and it is the short, lighter, blond imposter, not the historic Oswald as we know him. Making the point that Oswald was being handled by intelligence agents, I show him the William Gaudet interview document, in which Gaudet (a CIA operative) saw Oswald in deep conversation with Guy Bannister. Bannister was running anti-Castro Cuban mercenary operations in New Orleans. I showed him Antonio Veciana’s testimony that he witnessed Oswald with Maurice Bishop, who was actually David Atlee Philips of the CIA. What was Slawson’s response? That Oswald was probably trying to infiltrate them. Unbelievable.
At some point I wonder if Slawson actually believes this fantasy. What would make him have so much cognitive dissonance about all this contrary information? He knows he was lied to by the CIA. They lied about the assassination plots against Castro, they lied about everything. Here’s something interesting though. Slawson said two men removed Oswald’s files about his trip to Russia from the State Department. That’s the first I had heard about this. One man was Abe Chayes. Chayes, it turns out was General Council to the State Department and was actually one of Slawson’s law professors. Chayes would later be remembered for representing Nicaragua in the mining of the harbors by the U.S. during the Contra war. The other man was Richard “Dick” Frank, who Slawson says became a lifelong friend. Dick Frank was the State Department council to the Warren Commission. Frank would later run “Population Services International”, a reproductive health NGO that operates in Africa and Asia. This organization is so spooked up its very likely a CIA front. Super spook, Former defense secretary and deputy CIA director Frank Carlucci sits on the board. I find it very likely that Dick Frank may have had very close association with the CIA, those guys didn’t just decide to remove Oswald’s Russia files from the State Department on their own.
So what are we to make of all this? On one hand David Slawson is a very genuine, sweet old guy. But there is a huge disconnect with the facts about the Kennedy Assassination as we know it now. This isn’t 1964 anymore, there is just too much new information out there and more to come in 2017.
One last item may explain this disconnect. After the conclusion of the Warren Commission a researcher had discovered a memo that states that someone was using Oswald’s name and identification while he was in Russia. Howard Willens took a poll of the investigators as to how many of them thought this aspect should be re-investigated. Slawson said he was the only one that said yes, we should look into it. On a Sunday morning Slawson received a phone call at his house. It was none other than James Angleton, the creepy head of CIA counterintelligence. Angleton began with a pleasant greeting and asked Slawson to please say hello for him to the President of USC, where Slawson taught law. That man had been CIA station chief in India, and Angleton knew him. Then Angleton got to the point; He said “Are you still loyal to us”? I asked Slawson what he thought Angleton meant by “us”. Slawson said “The CIA. Am I still loyal to the CIA”.
He told Angleton – Yes. It scared Slawson’s wife to death. Slawson said he was too cocky to think they would try and kill him, but he knew that if he had crossed them they would destroy his reputation and career.

For more information, please check these websites:

Citizens For Truth In The Kennedy Assassination
http://www.ctka.net/

Black Op Radio
http://www.blackopradio.com/

The Mary Farrell Foundation
http://www.maryferrell.org/pages/Main_Page.html

JFK Facts
http://jfkfacts.org/

Burkley record

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2 Responses to My Interviews With David Slawson Of The Warren Commission

  1. […] He told Angleton – Yes. It scared Slawson’s wife to death. Slawson said he was too cocky to think they would try and kill him, but he knew that if he had crossed them they would destroy his reputation and career. (original article here.) […]

  2. Jerry Kroth on January 1, 2018 at 4:40 pm

    In LBJ: the Mastermind of the JFK assassintion, it is alleged that Mr. Slawson listened to the tapes of Oswald-the-Imposter. A newly released document (3 wks ago) reports that Oswald spoke very poor Russian. Oswald was more than fluent in Russian. So Slawson listened to the imposter and no mention of this is made in the Warren Commission report. What does Slawson say about all this? Jerry Kroth, Ph.D Please contact me through my email: JKroth@scu.edu
    I have published 2 books on this subject and would be very interested in your clarification.

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