DISC side Seven: The Return of Lee Harvey Oswald


The Return of Lee Harvey Oswald

he Bolton Ford episode was not the only event to indelibly link Guy Banister with the accused assassin. In April of 1963, Oswald returned to the city of his birth. By May 9th he had found work at the Reily Coffee Company, conveniently located two blocks from Banister’s offices. Its owner, William B. Reily, was yet another right-wing reactionary. Reily provided financial support to such groups as Arcacha’s Crusade to Free Cuba and Ed Butler’s propaganda outfit, INCA.(1)

Oswald’s employment at Reily’s lasted until July 19th, when he was let go, supposedly for spending too much work time next door at Adrian Alba’s garage. The Crescent City Garage was home to the local government agencies’ motor pools. One day Alba recalled observing an FBI agent handing a white envelope to Oswald, who was standing in front of Reily’s. Alba watched as Oswald clutched the envelope close to his chest and walked back into Reily’s.(2)

One of the things about Reily’s that later aroused Garrison’s suspicions was the number of employees that left shortly after Oswald’s departure to begin careers in the aerospace industry. For example, Oswald’s superiors, Alfred Claude and Emmett Barbee both left Reily’s in July and went to work for NASA in eastern New Orleans.(3) Two of Oswald’s co-workers, John D. Branyon and Dante Marachini, were also later hired by NASA.(4) Marachini is of particular interest since he was a self-described friend of David Ferrie’s as well as Clay Shaw’s next door neighbor.(5) A vice-president of Reily’s who testified before the Warren Commission, William Monaghan, was a former career FBI man who left the bureau to become an executive with Standard Fruit.(6)After his stint at Reily’s he, along with William Reily’s brother, Eustis, show up on the board of directors of Aaron Kohn’s Metropolitan Crime Commission.(7) According to an INCA bulletin from 1962, Monaghan is listed as a charter member of that organization as well.

All of this peculiar activity led Garrison to surmise that Reily’s was part of an intelligence apparatus. Recent file releases seem to bear out Garrison’s suspicions. A CIA memo dated January 31, 1964 reads, “this firm [Reily’s] was of interest as of April 1949.”(8) Also according to this memo, Reily’s was assigned Agency number EE-334.(9) In addition, career soldier-of-fortune and CIA contract employee, Gerry Patrick Hemming confirmed that William Reily had worked for the CIA for years.(10)

After his departure from Reily’s, Oswald began what Bill Turner wittily describes as his “guerrilla theater” on the streets of New Orleans—touting his one-man Fair Play for Cuba Committee and distributing pro-Castro literature amid this hotbed of anti-Castro sentiment.(11) On August 9th, Oswald was attacked by Carlos Bringuier and other Cuban exiles as he was handing out his literature, complete with pro-Castro placards, on Canal Street. Oswald had visited Bringuier’s clothing store four days earlier offering to train members of Bringuier’s exile group, the CIA funded Cuban Student Directorate or DRE. Oddly, at approximately the same time Oswald was engaging in his gratuitous picketing, Ferrie, along with several anti-Castro Cubans, was taking part in his own “counter” demonstration, also on Canal Street.(12)

After the Canal Street fracas Oswald was arrested and taken to the police station where he promptly asked to speak to an FBI agent. The following morning John Quigley was dispatched and interviewed Oswald at some length.(13) Quigley also retained some of Oswald’s one-sheet Fair Play For Cuba flyers and other materials. Oswald normally rubber-stamped these sheets with either his name or “FPCC” and also his home address or a post office box number. However, on this occasion he also handed out a 40-page pamphlet written by Corliss Lamont, entitled, The Crime Against Cuba. The usual rubber stamp adorned this literature as well, except it read:

544 Camp Street
New Orleans, LA

What the FBI and the Secret Service would later discover (and what Quigley must have surely known) was that 544 Camp was the side entrance to 531 Lafayette. In the summer of 1963, 544 Camp housed just three tenants: a restaurant worker’s union, a railway union, and Guy Banister Associates. Strangely, this was the only incident where Oswald used the Banister address. Another curious sidebar to this affair is that Oswald wrote to the FPCC headquarters in New York informing them of his street altercation. In his letter Oswald wrote, “Through the efforts of some exile “gusanos” [a derogatory term for anti-Castro exiles, literally translated as “worms”] a street demonstration was attacked and we were officially cautioned by police. This incident robbed me of what support I had leaving me alone. Nevertheless thousands of circulars were distributed and many, many pamphlets which your office supplied…” The problem with this letter was that it was written on August 4th, five days before the incident actually occurred.(14)

What is also odd about this affair is the pamphlet itself. Written by a well-known New York peace activist, the tract was critical of the Bay of Pigs invasion. In 1963 the pamphlet had already gone through four printings. However, the copies that Oswald distributed were from the first printing of June of 1961, a period that found Oswald still in Russia. In 1961 a large bulk order for this first printing came directly from the Central Intelligence Agency.(15)

On August 16th Oswald once again hit the streets, this time distributing his FPCC materials in front of the International Trade Mart, then managed by Clay Shaw. However, the supposedly impecunious Oswald had hired two individuals from the local employment agency to assist him.(16) Local news cameramen captured this event for posterity on film. Curiously, Clay Shaw’s right hand man, Jesse Core, had summoned the cameras.(17)

Prior to this incident and just after the Canal Street demonstration, Oswald received a visitor at his home. Carlos Quiroga was a mutual associate of both Carlos Bringuier and Sergio Arcacha. Bringuier stated he sent Quiroga to Oswald’s home in an effort to “infiltrate” Oswald’s communist cell. According to Bringuier, Quiroga brought with him a couple of the sheets Oswald had dropped on Canal Street. But there are two reasons why this incident is suspicious. First, both Bringuier and Quiroga lied to the Warren Commission by telling them this event occurred after the Trade Mart demonstration.(18) Secondly, Oswald’s landlady, Mrs. Garner observed Quiroga when he arrived at the Oswald home. According to Garner, Quiroga did not have one or two “Hands Off Cuba” sheets, but rather a stack five to six inches thick.(19) As journalists Ray and Mary La Fontaine and others have noted, it seems more likely Quiroga was delivering the pamphlets rather than attempting to infiltrate the FPCC. In fact, Quiroga was given a polygraph exam by Garrison’s office and sent the needle off the chart when he answered “No” to the question, “You have said you tried to infiltrate Oswald’s “organization.” Isn’t it a fact that you knew that his “Fair Play for Cuba” activities were merely a cover?”(20)

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