Electronic Assassinations Newsletter

Issue #2 New Discoveries in the Recently Released Assassination Files



Jerry D. Rose

This article originally published in The Fourth Decade Vol. 4, #3, Mar. 1997.

Oh, what a tune! - in the words of an old Jimmy Durante song. The Information Council of the Americas played an interesting "tune" in both the foreground and the aftermath of the JFK assassination. This article explores the exploits of INCA at three critical times: during the "communizing" of Lee Harvey Oswald in New Orleans in the summer of 1963; in helping to create, immediately after the assassination, a climate of fear that the murder was a "communist conspiracy"; and its continuing effort to promote that scenario of the assassination, especially at the time of the Garrison investigation circa 1967-69.

A bit of historical background on INCA will bring us up to speed on this interesting organization. A useful source for this historical thumbnail is an article on INCA by Arthur Carpenter in the magazine Louisiana History. (1) As Carpenter describes it, INCA was created to protect the interests of the New Orleans economic elite, including the fruit companies and the shipping and other industries that were highly dependent on a stable situation in Latin America and were, of course, aghast at the economic instability introduced by the Castro regime in Cuba. The founding lights of INCA were Alton Ochsner, the legendary physician/surgeon founder of the Ochsner Clinic, which catered particularly to an elitist Latin American medical clientele; and a youthful Edward Scannell Butler, a professional public relations man. After a rather abortive attempt in 1961 to promote Latin American anti-communism through a Free Voice of Latin America (with headquarters in the International Trade Mart), (2) Butler later that year teamed with Ochsner to form INCA. Butler claims to have conceived of INCA while he was still in Army,"in the quiet little town of Alexandria, Virginia." (3) When INCA was formed, Butler did not, of course, emphasize the organization's role in protecting the economic interest of the city's elite. Rather, INCA's aims were couched in patriotic anti-communism. INCA's "truth tapes" (30 minute broadcasts produced and furnished to Latin American radio stations), said Butler, "will be one of the best ways of staving off communism until the Alliance For Progress [the Kennedy administration's Latin American policy] gets underway." (4)

A glorious opportunity for an INCA "truth tape" presented itself in August of 1963 when Lee Harvey Oswald, the former Soviet defector and the one member of the New Orleans branch of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, became embroiled in a highly publicized series of involvements with INCA operatives. I refer, of course, to Oswald's pro-Castro leafleting activities on New Orleans streets, during one of which episodes he was arrested after a scuffle with the anti-Castro activist Carlos Bringuier, after which he engaged in a WDSU radio "debate" with Bringuier and Butler-which resulted in a vivid public identification of Oswald as a Soviet defector and pro-Castro disloyalist.

The role of INCA in arranging both the leafleting activity and the debate (the transcript of which furnished the basis of a famous "truth tape") is well known in the research community, but is perhaps more profound than has been generally recognized. The degree of WDSU interest in such seemingly mundane demonstrations has been suggested as problematical by Melanson and others. (5) As Carpenter notes, (6) Edgar Stern who (with his wife Edith) was a co-owner of WDSU, was an active member of INCA. Also relatively little known, I think, are Bringuier's connections to INCA. He was a member of INCA, at least in 1967, (7) and his sympathy and support for the organization go back to pre-assassination times. After their "debate" in August 1963, when Bringuier was calling for a "congressional investigation" of Oswald and the FPCC, he also, in a press release, urged people to "help those organizations such as 'INCA' directed by Mr. Edward Butler, whose lives are dedicated to fight communism all over the world and especially in Latin America." (8) Apparently Butler and INCA reciprocated the admiration because Bringuier was the guest speaker at INCA's Second Truth Forum on November 19, 1963. (9) During his speech, he provided a scenario of communist propaganda techniques in Argentina that seems remarkably similar to the way Oswald was manipulated by anti-communists in the summer of 1963. He describes a pattern of "two communists starting a street corner debate ... One will defend capitalism and the other communism. When a large enough crowd congregates, the one defending democracy will concede that the pro-Communist speaker is right." (10) This suggests that Bringuier and his collaborators learned from the enemy, and that the 'disaster" for the FPCC in New Orleans (and Dallas) was fully planned for and done with the connivance of Oswald.

The next spate of INCA/Oswald propaganda activism occurred in the few hours and days following the assassination. Butler and Bringuier were again among the principal actors. Near the beginning of the Garrison investigation (on February 21, 1967), Butler issued a press release in which he said he "debated Oswald 93 days before the assassination and was called to Washington within 48 hours after the tragedy to testify to the [Senate Internal Security Subcommittee]." (11) Actually he misrepresents somewhat both the time frame of his visit to D.C. and the claim that he was "called" there, as opposed to having gone there on his own initiative. As I have indicated in an "updates" section of The Fourth Decade, (12) Butler was in the Washington office of Congressman Hale Boggs on the very day of the "tragedy," and presented Boggs (later to be a Warren Commissioner) with enough Oswald-as-communist material that Boggs came out as a believer in the Butler scenario. It was, however, on November 24 that Butler made an extraordinary visit to the red-hunting lair of Senator Thomas Dodd, chairman of the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee or SISS. (13)

Widening the audience for its propaganda to the general public, INCA operatives like Bringuier were feeding the press its first stories about Oswald's "communist" activities in New Orleans in the summer of 1963. Apparently the chosen instrument of this propaganda was the Directorio Revolucionario Estudiantil (DRE), of which Bringuier was the New Orleans delegate. The House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA), in investigating a story told by Clare Booth Luce about having been contacted by Cuban exiles the night of the assassination with the "information" that Castro was behind the assassination, interviewed Jose Antonio Lanusa, a Miami DRE leader and reported the following result:

"Jose Antonio Lanusa was interviewed by the committee on April 22, 1978. Lanusa said that on November 22, 1963, he and a small group of DRE members were at a Miami Beach hotel when they heard the news of the assassination of the President. When Oswald's name was broadcast, Lanusa recalled the name as that of someone who had something to do with one of the DRE delegates, so Lanusa and those who were with him went to the Miami DRE office to search the files to determine if Lanusa's suspicion was right. By late afternoon, they had found delegate Bringuier's report from New Orleans detailing his encounter with Oswald. Along with it was a sample Fair Play for Cuba (FPCC) leaflet and a tape recording of the radio debate. With this discovery someone immediately called a CIA contact. This person told them not to do anything or contact anyone else for at least an hour. He said he needed time to contact Washington headquarters for instructions. Nevertheless, Lanusa said, he was so anxious to release the information that Oswald was associated with a pro-Castro group that he contacted the major news organizations before the hour was up.

That delegate Bringuier's "report" contained a recording of the Bringuier/Butler/Oswald debate was fortunate indeed for the propaganda purposes of INCA's ally, the DRE.

Finally, I come to the intensive activity of INCA in the era of 1967-1969 as related to the investigations of District Attorney Jim Garrison. Apparently INCA had hoped at an early stage to co-opt the investigation. Shortly after the first publicity surfaced in the Garrison case, on February 21, 1967, Butler wrote Garrison to "offer INCA's facilities, contacts and know-how in the area of communist psycho-warfare." (15) Apparently Garrison did not accept the offer since, by June of 1967, Butler had moved INCA files from New Orleans to Los Angeles and Ochsner, at first having questioned the move, finally granted its wisdom. In a letter to Butler dated June 29, 1967, Ochsner reported that William Gurvich had just resigned from Garrison's staff and had provided the information that Garrison planned to arrest "a doctor," possibly himself, and accuse INCA of assassination involvement. (16) This INCA paranoia had mellowed by November of 1967 to a form in which Butler was claiming, in a letter to California supporter Patrick Frawley, that "INCA will be attacked by Garrison, with distortion, innuendo and 'evidence' during the Shaw trial, when the eyes and ears of the world will be [small section of text missing at this point in the article] debacle from Garrison, it was ready to counter-attack. When Ochsner became a "little suspicious" of one of Garrison's investigators, Tom Bethel, he wrote Congressman Hebert of Louisiana to find out if the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) had any "subversive" information on Bethel (it didn't). (18) The cause of Ochsner's "suspicion?" Bethel "is an Englishman, who apparently went to Washington to see if the CIA had anything on Oswald." When Mark Lane began making speeches in the New Orleans area, Ochsner complained to the President of the Young Businessmen's Club at the Roosevelt Hotel (owned by INCA member Seymour Weiss) that Lane was "affiliated with communistic front organizations" and that his writings indicated that "he apparently had concluded that because Oswald was a communist, he did not do it." (19) He also wrote Tulane University President Herbert Longenecker (also an INCA member) with the same complaint, saying that he had hoped that "Tulane is one place that there would be some control" of people the likes of Garrison and Lane. (20) When he went again to HUAC, the result was more productive than in the case of Bethel, as HUAC sent along a lengthy resume of Lane's "communist front" memberships, including the National Lawyers Guild and (of course!) the New York Council to Abolish HUAC. (21)

For all these and other instances of Garrison-bashing by INCA, there is nothing in the published record (that I know of) to indicate that Garrison ever did contemplate prosecution and/or public vilification of INCA. In neither of Garrison's two books on the assassination is there any mention of INCA, Butler or Ochsner (and even the name Bringuier does not appear in the index to the second book). (22) Are we dealing, then, with a case of severe paranoia (or a guilty conscience) on the part of INCA; or, perhaps, with an actual co-optation of the Garrison investigation by INCA? Let us explore for a bit this second possibility.

My comments in this direction revolve largely around the unusual composition of the group of New Orleans "citizens" who, in early 1967, formed a group called Truth and Consequences (T&C) which would provide private funding for Garrison in his investigation. (23) Peter Dale Scott long ago pointed out the anomaly that two of the three leaders of T&C, Willard Robertson and Cecil Shilstone, were in fact founding members of INCA. (24) Robertson was an especially active member. When INCA opened its 'truth tapes" operation in 1961, Robertson was prominent in the dedication ceremonies and had donated, for INCA's use in local fund-raising, a "bright red, sound-equipped station wagon." (25) (presumably a Volkswagen, since Robertson had the VW dealership in the New Orleans area). For this generosity (and, no doubt for other services rendered), he was given an INCA Fighter for Freedom Award at an INCA ceremony on December 11, 1963. (26) Actually, the INCA ties to T&C (and to Jim Garrison) go considerably beyond the Robertson/Shilstone connection noted by Scott. The third (and usually considered the leading) founder of T&C, oil tycoon Joseph Rault, Jr., arguably had ties to INCA as well ... he certainly was close to Ochsner. Although I have not found that Rault was an INCA member, there is a letter in the Ochsner papers soliciting Rault for a contribution. (27) In 1965, when Ochsner was chairman of the New Orleans Inter-American Municipal Organization, he brought in Rault as a temporary director. (28) The man who ultimately replaced Rault was a Bay of Pigs veteran, Cuban exile Alberto Fowler, has been described as a sometime investigator for Jim Garrison. (29) Finally, Rault was, in one account, (30) present with Senator Russell Long when the idea was planted in Garrison's mind that the Warren Commission had done a faulty investigation. The Long connection to Garrison and Ochsner is an interesting one. A biography of Ochsner shows a surprising friendship between Ochsner and Long - surprising considering that, early in Ochsner's career in the Tulane Medical School (around 1930), Ochsner had a bitter confrontation with Long's father Huey Long over questions of leadership at the Charity Hospital in New Orleans. (31) Surprising, then, that Russell Long once praised Ochsner in noting a controversy about Huey's medical treatment at the time of his assassination, saying to Ochsner "You know, if my father had had you to take care of him, he would be alive today." To this, Ochsner "modestly" replied "I didn't know Russell realized this." (32)

Beyond the T&C connections to INCA represented by Robertson, Shilstone and Raul, there is at least one other likely connection. In reporting the formation of T&C, James and Wardlaw mention a few additional members, namely Eberhard Deutsch, John Mmahat, Edmond G. Miranne, Harold Cook and Lawrence Merrigan. (33) The name of Deutsch jumps out of that list, since he is an attorney whose name appears on the letterhead of the Directors of INCA. (34) Deutsch has been described by Scott (who was probably unaware of his T&C connection) as the General Counsel of Standard Fruit and as "Jim Garrison's former law partner and political mentor." (35)

Do we start to get the picture? INCA, which was supposedly in mortal combat with the Garrison investigation, has at least 4 of its associates among the leaders of Truth and Consequences, the money bag outfit for the Garrison investigation. Did T&C "get" what it may have been "paying" for? - i.e., immunity for INCA from Garrison prosecution? Certainly those INCA people who were T&C-involved were not ostracized by INCA for "sleeping with the enemy." In fact, two of them - Robertson and Shilstone - were re-elected as INCA directors in September, 1968, after T&C had been operating for a year and a half. (36) Certainly, I haven't proven that the Garrison investigation was INCA co-opted, but there seems to be quite a bit pointing in that direction.

*Revision of a paper delivered at the First Research Conference of the Fourth Decade at Fredonia, New York, June, 1996.


1. Arthur E. Carpenter, "Social Origins of Anti-Communism: The Information Council of the Americas," Louisiana History, Spring, 1989, pp.117-143. In writing this article Carpenter, an archivist at Loyola University in New Orleans, made extensive use of the Alton Ochsner papers in the Historic New Orleans Collection, 533 Royal St. in New Orleans. I have examined many of the same papers and, at every point of intersection of my interests with those of Carpenter, I have found his interpretation of these papers to be quite reliable. In this paper, all references to the material in this collection are cited in the format: Ochsner Papers, Box _Folder_.

2. New Orleans Times-Picayune, January 5, 1961. All references to Times-Picayune articles in this paper were furnished courtesy J.P. Shinley.

3. Peter Dale Scott, Crime and Cover-Up (Santa Barbara: Open Archive Press, 1993) (originally published in 1977), p. 14.

4. New Orleans Times-Picayune June 8, 1961.

5. Philip Melanson, Spy Saga, (New York: Praeger, 1990), p. 66. 6. Carpenter, "Social Origins of Anti-Communism," p.129.

7. Ochsner Papers, Box 105, Folder 1.

8. Warren Commission Hearings and Exhibits, vol. 19, p. 175, Bringuier Exhibit no. 3.

9. New Orleans Times Picayune , November 20,1963, p. 17.

10. New Orleans Times Picayune, November 20, 1963, p. 17.

11. Ochsner Papers, Box 105, Folder 2.

12. The Fourth Decade vol. 1, #6 September, 1994, p. 19.

13. FBI #105-82555-209, Wannall to Sullivan, 11/29/63.

14. House Select Committee on Assassinations, Hearings, vol. X, p. 85. It is not clear whether one of these "major news organizations" may have included the Miami News, one of whose reporters, Hal Hendrix, was feeding New Orleans summer of 63 material as early as 6 P.M - to Seth Kantor of the Scripps-Howard newspaper syndicate. Seth Kantor, The Ruby Cover-Up (New York: Kensington Publishing Company, 1978) p. 378.

15. Ochsner Papers, Box 105, Folder 2.

16. Ochsner Papers, Box 105, Folder 4.

17. Ochsner Papers, Box 105, Folder 2.

18. Ochsner Papers, Box 105, Folder 2.

19. Ochsner Papers, Box 105, Folder 1.

20. Ochsner Papers, Box 105, Folder 1.

21. Ochsner Papers, Box 105, Folder 3.

22. Jim Garrison, A Heritage of Stone (New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1970, p. 7); Jim Garrison, On the Trail of the Assassins (New York: Warner Books, 1988).

23. Rosemary James and Jack Wardlaw, Plot or Politics? (New Orleans: Pelican Publishing House, 1967), pp. 38, 39.

24. Scott, Crime and Cover-Up, p. 54.

25. New Orleans Times-Picayune June 8, 1961, p. 11.

26. New Orleans Times-Picayune December 12, 1963, p. 6.

27. Ochsner Papers, Box 105A, Folder 6.

28. New Orleans Times-Picayune, April 6, 1965, p. 6.

29. Anthony and Robbyn Summers, "The Ghosts of November," Vanity Fair , December 1994, p. 110.

30. James DiEugenio, Destiny Betrayed (New York: Sheridan Square Press, 1992, p. 124.

31. John Wilds and Ira Harkey, Alton Ochsner: Surgeon of the South (Baton Rouge: LSU Press, 1990).

32. Wilds and Harkey, Alton Ochsner .

33. James and Wardlaw, Plot or Politics? p. 38.

34. For example, see the letterhead of the Butler-to Frawley letter cited in fn 17.

35. Scott, Crime and Cover-Up, p. 16.

36. New Orleans Times-Picayune September 10, 1968, sec. 3, p. 4.

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