New Orleans DA Jim Garrison’s prosecution of Clay Shaw–accused of organizing and directing the death squad that killed John F. Kennedy in 1963–was countered by influential conservatives who shaped public opinion with heaps of unctuous praise for the suspect in the public print. Shaw’s well-heeled advocates spoke highly of his spotless character, his inspiring patriotism … somehow neglecting to mention his background as a post-WW II Nazi recruiter for the American intelligence community.
Garrison staffer Tom Bethell abetted the psyop with leaks to the press, including Garrison’s intention to file charges against Shaw, and unsupported allegations to discredit the probe. The New Orleans Advocate‘s obit traces Bethell’s career after the Kennedy assassination as a far-right propagandist whose dodgy work product was closely aligned with CIA media manipulations of the Nixon and Reagan eras. Bethell edited right-wing journals, joined the American Enterprise Institute (under Reagan, a CIA and military intelligence front) even won a fellowship at the ultra-conservative Hoover Institute. From humble origins (undermining an investigation of far-right gunplay), to lucrative positions in the mass deception industry–and all he had to do was stab Garrison in the back. Bethell’s life represents the American Dream gone black. — AC