Wednesday, February 29, 2012
James Douglas & Wes Wise
From: JFK & The Unspeakable – Why He Died & Why It Matters by James Douglas (Orbis 2008, p. 292-294)
...Butch Burroughs, who witnessed Oswald’s arrest, startled me in his interview by saying he saw a second arrest occur in the Texas Theater only “three or four minutes later.” 449
He said the Dallas Police then arrested “an Oswald lookalike.” Burroughs said the second man “looked almost like Oswald, like he was his brother or something.” 450
When I questioned the comparison by asking, “Could you see the second man as well as you could see Oswald?” he said, “Yes, I could see both of them. They looked alike.” 451
After the officers half-carried and half-dragged Oswald to the police car in front of the theater, within a space of three or four minutes, Burroughs saw the second Oswald placed under arrest and handcuffed. The Oswald look-alike, however, was taken by police not out the front but out the back of the theater.” 452
What happened next we can earn from another neglected witnesses, Bernard Haire. 453
Bernard J. Haire was the owner of Bernie’s Hobby House, just two doors east of the Texas Theater. Haire went outside his store when he saw police cars congregating in front of the theater. 454 When he couldn’t see what was happening because of the crowd, he went back through his store into the alley out back. It, too, was full of police cars, but there were fewer spectators. Haire walked up the alley. When he stopped opposite the rear door of the theater, he witnessed what he would think for decades was the arrest of Lee Harvey Oswald.
“Police brought a young white man out,” Haire told an interviewer. “The man was dressed in a pullover shirt and sacks. He seemed to be flushed, as if he’d been in a struggle. Police put the man in a police car and drove off.” 455
When Haire was told in 1987 that Lee Harvey Oswald had been brought out the front of the theater by police, he was shocked.
“I don’t know who I saw arrested,” he said in bewilderment. 456
Buctch Burroughs and Bernard Haire are complimentary witnesses. From their perspectives both inside and outside the Texas Theater, they saw an Oswald double arrested and taken to a police car in the back alley only minutes after the arrest of Lee Harvey Oswald. Burroughs’ and Haire’s independent, converging testimonies provide critical insight into the mechanics of the plot. In a comprehensive intelligence scenario for Kennedy’s and Tippit’s murders, the plan culminated in Oswald’s Friday arrest and Sunday’s murder (probably a fall back from his being set up to be killed in the Texas Theater by the police).
There is a hint of the second Oswald’s arrest in the Dallas police records.
According to the Dallas Police Department’s official Homicide Report on J.D. Tippit, “Suspect was later arrested in the balcony of the Texas Theater at 231 W. Jefferson.” 457
Dallas Police detective L.D. Springfellow also reported to Captain W. P. Gannaway, “Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested in the balconyh of the Texas Theater.” 458
To whom are the Homicide Report and Detective Springfellow referring? Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested in the orchestra, not balcony. Are these documents referring to the Dallas Police Department’s second arrest in the Texas Theater that afternoon? Was Butch Burroughs witnessing an arrest of the Oswald look-alike that actually began in the balcony? That would have likely been the double’s hiding place, after he entered the theater without paying, thereby drawing attention to himself and leading the police to the apprehension of his likeness, Lee Harvey Oswald (who was already inside). As Butch Burroughs pointed out, anyone coming in the front of the theater could head immediately up the stairs to the balcony without being seen from the concession stand.
The Oswald double, after having been put in the police car in the alley, must have been driven a short distance and released on higher intelligence orders. Unfortunately for the plotters, he was seen again soon. With the scapegoat, Lee Harvey Oswald, now safely in custody, we can presume that the double was not supposed to be seen again in Dallas – or anywhere else. Had he not been seen, the CIA’s double-Oswald strategy in an Oak Cliff shell game might have eluded independent investigators forever. But thanks to other key witnesses who have emerged, we now have detailed evidence that the double was seen again – not just once but twice.
[BK Notes: I don't believe, as JD apparently does, that the man who resembled Oswald and was taken into custody by the Dallas PD out the back of the Texas Theater is the same person who resembled Oswald and seen by T. H. White in a 57 Plymouth with Texas License plate PP 4537, as there apparently were more than two individuals who resembled Oswald in Oak Cliff at that time.]
JFK & The Unspeakable (p. 294-298)
...Also at about 2:00 P.M., a man identified as Oswald was seen in a car eight blocks away from the Texas Theater, still very much at large and keeping a low profile. 460 A sharp-eyed auto mechanic spotted him.
T.F. White was a sixty-year-old, longtime employee of Mack Pate’s Garage in the Oak Cliff section of Dallas. While White worked on an automobile the afternoon of the assassination, he could hear police sirens screaming up and down Davis street only a block away. He also heard radio reports describing a suspect then thought to be in Oak Cliff. 461 The mechanic looked out the open doors of the garage. He watched as a red 1961 Falcon drove into the parking lot of the El Chico restaurant across the street. The Falcon parked in an odd position after going a few feet into the lot. The driver remained seated in the car. 462. White said later, “The man in the car appeared to be hiding.’ 643 White kept his eyes on the man in the Falcon.
[BK Notes: According to Wise's first report to the FBI and in his interview with me, T.F. White first told him the car was a 57 Plymouth, not a Ford Falcon, and the car turned out to be a 57 Plymouth. It is also unlikely that a 60 year old mechanic would misidentify a Plymouth and a Ford. While Wise did mention the color red, according to the FBI report, the first mention of a Ford Falcon is when the FBI agent returned from Mather's home after eyeballing the 57 Plymouth in the Mather driveway, and he interviews T.F. White after White requested Wise not to involve him. So the "red" and the "Falcon" discrepancy only appear in the FBI reports and not in White's original statements to Wise. Those interested in following a suspicious red Ford in Oak Cliff that afternoon are referred to the long Esquire Magazine article that develops information on Igor Vaganov. As for White, his original statement that it was a 57 Plymouth and the note with the license plate number he gave to Wise, which Wise still maintains, is the evidence that implicates Mather's car in the murder of his good friend, J.D. Tippit. See original FBI reports reproduced below in earlier thread and view the originals at Greg Parker's web site ReopenJFKcase.]
When Mack Pate returned from his lunch break a few minutes later, T.F. White pointed out to his boss the oddly parked Falcon with its waiting driver who seemed to be hiding. Pate told White to watch the car carefully, reminding him of earlier news reports they had heard about a possible assassination attempt against President Kennedy in Houston the day before involving a red Falcon. 464
T. F. White walked across the street to investigate. He halted about ten to fifteen yards from the car. He could see the driver was wearing a white t-shirt. 465 The man turned towards White and looked at him full face. White stared back at him. Not wanting to provoke a possible assassin, White began to retreat to the garage. However, he paused, took a scrap of paper from his coveralls pocket, and wrote down the Texas license plate of the car: PP4537. 466
That night, while T. F. White was watching television with his wife, he recognized the Dallas Police Department’s prisoner, Lee Harvey Oswald, as the man he had seen in the red Falcon in El Chico’s parking lot. White was unfazed by what he had not yet known – that at the same time he had seen one Oswald sitting feely in the Falcon, the other Oswald was sitting handcuffed in a Dallas police car on his way to jail. Mrs. White, fearing the encompassing arms of a conspiracy, talked her husband out of reporting his information to the authorities. 467 Thus, the Oswald sighted in the parking lot might have escaped history, but for the fact White was confronted by an alert reporter.
On December 4, 1963, Wes Wise, a Dallas newscaster whose specialty was sports, gave a luncheon talk to the Oak Cliff Exchange Club, at El Chico’s restaurant. At the urging of his listeners, he exchanged his topic from sports to the president’s assassination, which Wise had covered. He described to his luncheon audience how he, as a reporter, had become a part of Jack Ruby’s story. Wise’s encounter with the man he knew as a news groupie came on the grassy knoll, the day before Ruby shot Oswald. Wise had just completed a somber, day-after-the-assassination radio newscast from the site banked with wreaths.
While he sat in his car in silent reflection beside the Texas School Book Depository, he heard a familiar voice calling out, “Hey, West!”
As Wise told the story, “I turned to see the portly figure of a man in a dark suit, half-waddling, half-trotting, as he came toward me. He was wearing a fedora-style hat which would later become familiar and famous.” Jack Ruby was making his way along the grassy knoll “from the direction of the railroad tracks,” precisely where the day before, as Ed Hoffman watched, another man in a suit had fired a rifle at the president – an hour and a half after Julia Ann Mercer saw a man, dropped off by Jack Ruby, carry a rifle up the same site.
Ruby leaned into Wise’s car window and said, his voice breaking and with tears in his eyes, “I just hope they don’t make Jackie come to Dallas for the trial. That would be terrible for that little lady.” 468
In retrospect, Wise wondered if Ruby was trying to set him up for a radio interview – to go on record the day before with his famous “motive” for murdering Oswald. Although Wise had no interest then in interviewing Jack Ruby, he had already just been told enough for him to be called as a witness in Ruby’s trial. He would be subpoenaed as a Ruby witness by both the prosecution and the defense. 469 His testimony at the trial, quoting what Ruby said to him the day before. Ruby murdered Oswald, would then be cited in Life magazine. 470
At the end of Wise’s talk to his absorbed audience at the Oak Cliff Exchange Club, Mack Pate, who had walked across the street from his garage to listen, gave the newscaster a new lead. He told Wise about his mechanic having seen Oswald. Wise asked to go immediately with Pate to speak with his employee. 471
As Wise told me in an interview four decades later, he then “put a little selling job on Mr. White” to reveal what he had seen. Wise said to the reluctant auto mechanic, “Well, you know, we’re talking about the assassination of the President of the United States here.” 472
Convinced of his duty, T. F. White took Wise into El Chico’s parking lot and walked him step by step through his “full face” encounter with Oswald. Wise realized the car had been parked at the center of Oswald’s activity in Oak Cliff that afternoon: one block from where Oswald got out of the taxi, six blocks south of his rooming house, eight blocks north of his arrest at the Texas Theater, and only five blocks from Tippit’s murder on a route in between. 473
Taking notes on his luncheon invitation, Wise said, “I just wish you had gotten the license number.”
White reached into his pocket and took out a scrap of paper with writing on it. He handed it to Wise.
“This is it,” he said. 474
Newscaster Wes Wise notified the FBI of White’s identification of Oswald in the car parked in the El Chico lot, and cited the license plate number. FBI agent Charles T. Brown, Jr. reported from an interview with Milton Love, Dallas County Tax Office: “1963 Texas License Plate PP4537 was issued for a 1957 Plymouth automobile in possession of Carl Amos Mather, 4309 Colgate, Street, Garland, Texas.” 475 Agent Brown then drove to that address. He reported that the 1957 Plymouth bearing license plate PP 4537 was parked in the driveway of Mather’s home in Garland, a suburb of Dallas. 476 Thus arose the question of how a license plate for Carl Mather’s Plymouth came to be seen on the Falcon in El Chico’s parking lot, with a man in it who looked like Oswald.
The FBI had also discovered that Carl Amos Mather did high-security communications work for Collins Radio, a major contractor with the Central Intelligence Agency. Three weeks before Kennedy’s assassination, Collins Radio had been identified on the front page of the New York Times as having just deployed a CIA raider ship on an espionage and sabotage mission against Cuba. 477 Collins also held the government contract for installing communications towers in Vietnam. 478 In 1971, Collins Radio would merge with another giant military contractor, Rockwell International. 479 In November 1963, Collins was at the heart of the CIA-military-contracting business for state-of-the-art communications systems.
Carl Mather had represented Collins at Andrews Air Force Base by putting special electronics equipment in Vice President Lyndon Johnson’s Air Force Two plane. 480 Given the authority of his CIA-linked security clearance, Carl Mather refused to speak to the FBI. 481 The FBI instead questioned his wife, Barbara Mather, who stunned them. Her husband, she said, was a good friend of J.D. Tippit. In fact, the Mathers were such close friends of Tippit and his wife that when J.D. was murdered, Marie Tippit phoned them. According to his wife, Carl Mather left work that afternoon at 3:30 and returned home. 482 Carl and Barbara Mather then drove to the Tippit home, where they consoled Marie Tippit on the death of her husband (killed by a man identical to the one seen a few minutes later five blocks away in a car bearing Mathers’ license plate number).
Fifteen years after the assassination, Carl Mather did finally consent to an interview for the first time – with the House Select Committee on Assassinations, but on condition that he be granted immunity from prosecution. 483 The electronics specialist could not explain how his car’s license number could have been seen on the Falcon with its Oswald-like driver in the El Chico lot. 484
The HSCA dismissed the incident as “the Wise allegation,” 485 in which a confused auto mechanic had jotted down a coincidentally connected license plate, as “alleged” by a reporter. The odds against White having come up with the exact license plate of a CIA-connected friend of J.D. Tippit were too astronomical for comment, and were given none.
What kept “the Wise allegation” from sinking into total oblivion over the years was the persistent conscience of Wes Wise, who in 1971 was elected mayor of Dallas. During his two terms as mayor (1971-76), Wise guided Dallas out from under the cloud of the assassination and at the same time saved the Texas School Book Depository from imminent destruction, preserving it for further research into the president’s murder. 486
In the fall of 2005, I interviewed Wes Wise, who recalled vividly T. F. White’s description of his confrontation with a man looking like Oswald in the El Chico parking lot. Wise said he was so struck by the incident that he returned to the El Chico lot on a November 22 afternoon years later to reenact the scene with similar lighting and a friend sitting in an identically parked car. Standing on the spot where T. F. White had and with the same degree of afternoon sunlight, Wise confirmed that one could easily recognize a driver’s features from a “full face’ look at that distance, irrespective of whether the car’s window was up or down. 487
The possible significance of what he had learned stayed with Wise during his years as a reporter and as Dallas mayor, in spite of its repeated dismissal by federal agencies. Knowing the value of evidence, Mayor Wise preserved not only the Texas School Book Depository but also the December 4, 1963, luncheon invitation on which he had immediately written down T.F. White’s identification of the license plate on the Oswald car. Producing it from his files during our interview, Wise read to me over the phone T.F. White’s exact identification of the license plate, as the auto mechanic had shown it to the reporter on the scrap of paper taken from his coveralls pocket, and as Wise had then copied it down on his luncheon invitation: “PP 4537.” 488
At the end of our conversation, Mayor Wise reflected for a moment on the question posed by Lee Harvey Oswald’s presence elsewhere at the same time as T.F. White saw him in El Chico’s parking lot (in a car whose license plate could not be traced, thanks to the scrupulous note-taking of White and Wise, to the employee of a major CIA contractor).
“Well,” he said, ‘You’re aware of the idea of two Oswalds, I guess?” 489
433 – Warren H. “Butch” Burroughs interview. The Men Who Killed Kennedy, Part 5.
434 – WCH, vol. 7 p. 15
435 – Butch Burroughs tried to explain to the Warren Commission why Lee Harvey Oswald, on entering the theater, must have gone directly up the stairs to the balcony. If so, it was impossible for Burroughs to see his entry from the concession stand. Burroughs said he was in the process of counting stock candy and putting it in his candy case: “if he had come around in front of the concession out there, I would have seen him, even though I was bent down, I would have seen him, but otherwise I think he sneaked up the [balcony] stairs real fast.” Burroughs knew that, if he had not seen Oswald come in, he must have gone immediately up the balcony stairs on entering the theater. Ibid. Julia Postal, the ticket-seller for the Texas Theater, also tried to explain this logistical fact in her Warren Commission testimony: “You can go up in the balcony and right straight down, those steps come back down, and that would bring you into [the orchestra seating]. He wouldn’t have to go by Butch at all.” WCH, vol. 7, p. 13.
436 – Author’s interview of Warren H. “Butch” Burroughs, July 16, 2007.
437 – Warren Report, pp. 6-7
438 – Jack Davis interview by Jim Marrs, fall 1988, Crossfire, p. 353. Author’s interview of Burroughs, July 16, 2007.
439 – Jack Davis interview by John Armstrong, Harvey & Lee, p. 841.
440 – Warren H. “Butch” Burroughs interview by Jim Marrs, summer 1987, Crossfire, p. 353. Author’s interview of Jim Marrs, January 14, 2006.
441 – Burroughs interview by Jim Marrs, Crossfire, p. 353. Author’s interview with Burroughs, July 16, 2007.
442 – Ibid. It is possible the pregnant women gave Oswald the sign he seemed to need, confirming that she was the contact he was seeking. He apparently sat by her longer than he did by anyone else. It was she, not he, who got up and left. Burroughs said of her, “I don’t know what happened to that women. I don’t know how she got out of the theater. I never saw her again.” Marrs, ibid.
443 – Davis interview by Marrs, Crossfire, p. 353.
444 – WCH, vol. 3, pp. 298-99.
445 – Myers, With Malice, pp. 172-73.
446 – WCH, vol. 3, pp. 299
447 – Warren Commission member Senator John Sherman Cooper was especially puzzled by Officer McDonald’s circuitous way of approaching the suspected murderer and questioned him closely about it. WCH, vol. 3, p. 303.
448- Ibid., p. 300. Also WCH, vol. 7, pp. 32, 39.
449 – Author’s interview of Burroughs, July 16, 2007. Butch Burroughs is a man of few words. When asked a question, he answers exactly what he is asked. Burroughs told me no one had ever asked him before about a second arrest in the Texas Theater. In response to my question, “Now you didn’t see anybody else [besides Oswald] get arrested that day, did you?” he answered, “Yes, there was a lookalike – an Oswald lookalike.” In response to further questions, he described the second arrest, that of the “Oswald lookalike.” Ibid. Because Butch Burroughs saw neither Oswald nor his lookalike enter the Texas Theater, each must have gone directly up the balcony stairs on entering. Oswald crossed the balcony and came down the stars on the far side of the lobby. There he entered the orchestra seats and began his seat-hopping, in apparent search of a contact. His lookalike sneaked into the theater at 1:45 P.M. and, like Oswald, went immediately up the balcony stairs. By the time Burroughs witnessed the Oswald double’s arrest, he had als come down the balcony stairs on the far side of the lobby, either on his own or already accompanied by police who had been checking the balcony.
450 – Ibid.
451 – Ibid.
452 – Ibid.
453 – In the data base on the JFK Records Act at the National Archives, there is no record of Bernard Haire. Archivist Martin E. McGann to James Douglas, July 20, 2007.
454 – In a photo taken about 1:50 P.M., November 22, 1963, that shows people gathering around the police cars in front of the Texas Theater, Bernard Haire can be seen at the edge of the crowd, leaning on a parking meter and trying to see. Photo by Stuart. L. Reed; on p. 68, Myers, With Malice.
455 – Beranrd J. Haire interview by Jim Marrs, summer 1987, Crossfire, p. 354.
456 – Ibid.
457 – Dallas Police Department Homicide Report on J.D. Tippit, Novemer 22, 1963. Reproduced in With Malice, p. 447 (emphasis added).
458 – Letter from Detective L.D. Springfellow to Captain W. P. Ganaway, Novemver 23, 1963, Dallas City Archives. Cited in Harvey & Lee, p. 871 (emphasis added)
459 – Reporter Seth Kantor jotted down in his notebook Oswald’s November 22 remark, “I’m just a patsy,” and the time he made it: 7:55 P.M. Kantor Exhibit 3, WCH, vol. 20, p. 366.
460 - Memorandum by Dallas Special Agent Charles T. Brown, December 14, 1963. Warren Commission Document 205, JFK Record Number 180-10108-10231.
461 - Author’s interviews with Wes Wise, October 31 and November 13, 2005.
462 – Bill Pulte interview with Mack Pate, October 1989. Notes and map from Bill Pulte/Gary Shaw interview with Mack Pate, October 10, 1989. I am grateful to Bill Pulte for alerting met to these interviews and Gary Shaw for sharing with me his records of them.
463 – Wes Wise citing mechanic T. F. White, “The Wise Allgation,” in “Oswald-Tippit Associates, “ Staff Report of the House Select Committee on Assassinations (March, 1979), Appendix to Hearings, p. 38.
464 – Ibid. Mack Pate identified the vehicle T. F. White had spotted I the El Chico parking lot as a 1961 red Falcon in his October 10, 1989 interview with Gary Shaw and Bill Pulte.
465 – HSCA Memorandum from Andy Purdy to Bob Tanenbaum, February 19, 1977, p. 3 JFK Record Number 180-10108-10134.
466 – Wise interviews, October 31 and November 13, 2005
467 – Wise interview, November 13, 2005
468 – Wes Wise retold the story of his encounter with Jack Ruby in a book he published in 2004, co-authored with three other Dallas newscasters who also covered the Kennedy assassination, Bob Huffaker, Bill Mercert, Geroge Phenix, and Wes Wise, When the News Went Live: Dallas, 1963. (New York: Taylor Trade Publishgin, 2004), pp. 125-26.
469 – Ibid., p. 126
470 – Ibid.
471 – Wise interviews, October 31 and November 13, 2005
472 – Wise interview, October 31, 2005
473 – Wise interviews.
474 – Ibid.
475 – Report by FBI Special Agent Charles T. Brown, Jr., December 14, 1963. JFK Record Number 180-10108-10237.
476 – Report by FBI Special Agent Charles T. Brown, Jr. December 14, 1963, JFK Record Number 180-10108-10235
477 – “Castro Says C.I.A. Uses Raider Ship,” New York Times (November 1, 1963), p. 1
478 – Harvey & Lee, p. 872
479 – “Rockwell Collins, Inc. Company Timeline,” www.collinsclubs.com/history/timeline.html At the Rockwell Collins merger in 1971, Art Collins, the founder of Collins Radio, was named president and board chairman of Rockwell International. Ibid.
480 – HSCA interview with Carl Amos Mather, March 20, 1978, p. 4. JFK Records Number 180-10087-10360.
481 – Wise interview, October 31, 2005
482 – HSCA Memorandum from Purdy to Tanenbaum, February 19, 1977, p. 3.
483 – In a May 31,1978 letter to the HSCA chief counsel G. Robert Blakey, the U.S. Attorney General’s Ofice extended a grant of immunity to Carl Amos Mather. Reproduced in CD-ROM for Harvey & Lee, Tippit-33.
484 – Mather interview, p. 3
485 – “Wise Allegation,” pp. 37-44. Given T.F. White’s identification of the license plate and his and Mack Pate’s identification of the red Falcon driven by the Oswald double, a question arises concerning the government’s “counter evidence.” The disassociation of license plate PP 4537 and the Falcon arose from the FBI’s and the Dallas County Tax Office’s “official verification” that PP4537 was issued instead for a 1957 Plymouth owned by Carl Mather. However, we have reached a point in this story where the FBI, and other sources subject to FBI pressures (such as a county tax office), cannot simply be assumed to be telling the truth in anything relating to President Kennedy’s assassination. As we shall soon see, the FBI lied and even destroyed vital evidence, when it cam to Oswald’s note to FBI agent James Hosty. Given the FBI’s consistent record in covering up, falsifying, and destroying evidence that might incriminate the government in the assassination, it is reasonable to ask if that may be going on again here. After the Oswald double’s quick release following his Texas Theater arrest by the Dallas Police, he may have been given a Mather car to use that had a state-of-the-art Collins Radio for effective communications. The Oswald double keeping a low profile in the El Chico parking lot was apparently waiting to receive an order. Thanks to T.H White’s jotting down the license plate that was on the double’s car, the government then had to disassociate that license as much as possible from Mather. But fortunately it was done clumsily, and White’s documentation of the license plate provided a trail that led back to the CIA.
486 – Huffaker, Mercer, Phenix, and Wise, When the News Wnet Live, pp. 129-139.
487 – Wise interview, October 31, 2005.