Robert G. Klause, another resident of Dallas in 1963, joins Robert Alan Surrey as a major figure in US History. The Warren Commission (WC) exposed Klause as the actual printer of the mugshot “WANTED FOR TREASON: JFK” poster (CE 996). Though Surrey took the 5th more than twenty times when asked about these posters, Robert Klause did not take the 5th. Instead, Klause promptly named Surrey as the designer and paymaster for the posters.
There is, of course, more. Here is the substance of his WC testimony.
1. Robert Klause, 32, lived in Dallas with his wife and their three children.
2. For the past two years, Robert and his wife worked for his mother, Dorothy Anna Mercer, who had a printing business in Dallas with her husband, Clifford Mercer. It was a small business named, Lettercraft Printing Company. Klause was a printer and his wife was a receptionist.
3. Before that job, Klause worked for Johnson Printing Company in Dallas. There he met Robert Alan Surrey for the first time.
4. Klause’s mother allowed him to manage a few small accounts on his own, on the side, so to speak, as long as he did it at night, and as long as it did not interfere with work during the day.
5. Klause had never met with Surrey in any other context than as a fellow printing professional, i.e. as a fellow employee at Johnson Printing Company.
6. Klause didn’t know the resigned General Edwin Walker, personally. Nor did he know that Robert Surrey was associated with General Walker at that time.
7. Klause had heard of the American Eagle Publishing Company, but he never worked for them. The topic came up when Surrey mentioned it in the lunchroom at Johnson Printing. American Eagle did mainly small jobs with a low commission. They preferred volunteers over employees.
8. Klause had no idea that Surrey and General Walker were partners in American Eagle Publishing Company. As far as Klause knew, Surrey was sole owner.
7. The business about CE 996, the “Wanted for Treason: JFK” poster, began about one month before the JFK visit to Dallas. Surrey called Klause at Lettercraft, and asked him to run a special job himself, as a side job, outside the normal business of Lettercraft.
8. Klause agreed to shoot the negatives and run the printer. So they set up a meeting. .
9. Klause claims that he couldn’t remember where they met. It wasn’t at Lettercraft (since it was a side job) and Surrey had never been to Klause’s home. It was some other place – he couldn’t remember.
10. Surrey told Klause that he had “a customer” that wanted it done. That’s all. They never talked about the customer’s purpose for these posters. Klause didn’t ask.
11. Surrey gave Klause some camera-ready words, and two photographs of JFK, like mug shots, clipped from magazines. By using his mother’s Lettercraft camera, Klause tried to make negatives, but failed. Magazines use dot patterns and most cameras cannot make negatives of those.
12. So Klause sent the mug shots to Monk Brothers Lithography Servic, which had the highest grade cameras in Dallas. J.T. Monk and his son Junior received $4 cash for these negatives.
13. The words that Surrey gave Klause were already in a professional format, ready for Klause to make negatives and join them with the mug shot negatives. Klause made a single plate from those negatives and went to print.
14. Surrey had ordered about 6,000 posters. Klause printed them by using Lettercraft printing equipment, after hours.
15. Klause claims that he never read the single page of words on the poster. He claims he never even noticed the words, “Wanted for Treason.” Klause ran it late at night and didn’t bother to look at any of it. Nor did any employees help him. Nor did Klause tell his parents about the Surrey job. It was a big secret, because he wanted to keep all the money for himself.
16. Klause boxed somewhat over 5,000 posters the next day. This was sometime between November 4th and November 8th, claimed Klause -- as well as he could remember.
17. Klause claimed that he didn’t know at that time that JFK was coming to Dallas. Klause was so busy with his own family that he didn’t read the papers or watch the news.
18. Klause called Surrey to tell him the posters were ready. Surrey asked, “Where can I meet you?” Klause said, “I’m going out for coffee. Meet me at Pal’s.” They met alone at Pal’s Waffle Shop, about five blocks from his mother’s company.
19. Klause had used the cheapest paper he could find, from Olmstead Kirk Paper Company, and he paid cash, about $20. His labor was $40. Surrey paid it in cash. (Roughly speaking, 1963 dollars were worth ten times more than they are today).
20. Klause claimed that he had no further contact with Robert Alan Surrey until mid-December, when Lettercraft had a big job and needed Johnson Printing Company to help. Klause then expressed his annoyance about the JFK poster.
21. The Secret Service interviewed Klause about it, and at first Klause refused to tell them the facts. Klause claimed that the reason was that it involved his parents, and they were enraged at him for that.
22. Later, Klause saw that the Secret Service was relentless, so he met Surrey for advice. Surrey advised Klause to get a lawyer, stand by his rights and refuse to talk. But the pressure was too great, so Klause told Surrey he would just tell the truth -- and Surrey replied, “Well, that’s the way the ball bounces.”
23. Klause claimed that, uUp to the enormous publicity of November 22, 1963, he had never even heard the name, Lee Harvey Oswald, in any context whatsoever.
24. Klause claimed to have no idea that Robert Alan Surrey was connected with General Walker.
25. As for Walker-Surrey book, “The Assassination Story” (1963) Klause owned a copy, but he claims he never opened the book, nor even read the back cover to notice that Robert Alan Surrey and General Walker were partners in the American Eagle Publishing Company.
26. Klause claimed that he felt very guilty about CE 996. He said he was “just a poor country boy who got caught up in the mess,” and that he had learned his lesson. He especially regretted hurting his parents.
28. Klause said that if he had taken the time to read the poster, he would have refused to print it. But it was late at night and rushed because he needed the money.
There is the substance of Klause’s WC testimony. There were also two side issues which I consider irrelevant, namely: (a) Klause denied any knowledge of Jack Ruby until Ruby appeared on TV for killing Oswald; and (b) Klause denied any knowledge of Lettercraft Printing doing any work for Jack Ruby’s Carousel Club. These are mere distractions.
I’ll offer my opinion about the substance of his WC testimony. I will also cite some opinions by Jason Ward that he posted last year on the JFK Education Forum.
Klause admitted that he initially deceived the Secret Service about the posters. Jason rightly notes that this proved that Klause was capable of deception to US authorities. Thus, it is likely that his WC testimony also merits our suspicion, as follows:
(i) Klause portrayed himself “just a poor country boy who got caught up in the mess.” Yet Klause was far too close to the very center of Dallas’ JFK plot (Walker and Surrey) to be truly naive. In my opinion, Klause knew more than he admitted. His pose as a “poor country boy” was a part of his deception.
(ii) Klause claimed that Surrey urged him to take the 5th, but Klause decided to tell the whole truth. The whole truth? In my opinion, that was another part of his deception.
(iii) I doubt Klause’s claim that he was fuzzy on about when Surrey called upon him to print this poster. Klause claimed that it was somewhere between “14 and 18 days” before the JFK parade, i.e. between November 4 and November 8, 1963. Yet Chris Cravens (1993) revealed that this WANTED FOR TREASON: JFK poster had circulated in Dallas on “US Day” October 23, and on “UN Day” October 24, 1963 – the day when Adlai Stevenson was prevented from finishing a speech, struck by a placard, spat upon, and narrowly escaped a crowd trying to tip his car over. So, this poster was printed before October 23rd – long before November 4th. By deceiving the US authorities about the actual dates, Klause kept more secrets about the Radical Right in Dallas.
(iv) Klause claimed that he couldn’t remember where he had met Robert Surrey in preparing to print these posters. Jason rightly doubted this – it was most likely a politically sensitive meeting place. This part of his deception reveals Klause as a member of a secret political association – perhaps a meeting place of the Minutemen, an armed militia which practiced warfare maneuvers.
(v) Klause claimed that he never read the large three-word caption under JFK’s photos on this one-page print job, namely, Wanted for Treason. Klause spent days with this single page, taking negatives, engaging other printers – and examining the results for 5,000 copies. I sincerely doubt that Klause (the poor country boy) overlooked those three simple words in large print on all 5,000 copies.
(vi) Klause denied connecting Robert Alan Surrey with General Walker, but I sincerely doubt it. Walker was more than Surrey’s business partner; he was Surrey’s obsession. Surrey went everywhere with General Walker – at Ole Miss University in September 1962 when Walker was arrested, and at Walker’s own home during the shooting of April 1963. To imagine that Surrey had an associate with whom he had neglected to preach about General Walker is unbelievable.
(vii) WC attorney Jenner ended with questions about the Minutemen’s Khrushchev poster. This poster had exactly the same format as our JFK poster – a frontal and side angle mug shot, and the caption, “Wanted for Murder,” and then a brief list of his crimes, all on a single page. The authorship of that poster was openly admitted – the Minutemen. Jenner rightly questioned Klause about it. Yet the Minutemen group was also a secret organization. In my opinion, Klause would keep quiet about it.
With this orientation in mind, I will offer my opinion about the WC testimony of Robert G. Klause.
1. Klause told the truth that he and his wife worked for his mother’s company, Lettercraft, a small family business – a printing company in Dallas.
2. Klause told the truth when he said he had worked briefly for Johnson Printing Co. in Dallas, where he met Robert Alan Surrey for the first time. Yet I suspect that Klause and Surrey discovered at that time that they shared the same Radical Right politics.
3. Klause told the truth when he said this his mother allowed him to manage a few small accounts on the side, as long as he did it at night and it didn’t interfere with work during the day.
4. Klause told the truth when he said that Surrey called Klause at Lettercraft, and did asked him to do a side job, and to refrain from telling anybody, not even his parents (i.e. his employer). It was money under the table; but it also was more than that; it was a secret job, to be concealed from anybody outside a secret political circle which centered on General Walker – as WC attorney Jenner consistently alluded.
5. Klause deceived the WC (I opine) when he claimed that he and Surrey never discussed the customer’s purpose for these posters. This must remind us of his absurd claim that he never read the three large words on the face of the poster, “Wanted for Treason;” and his absurd claim that he forgot when and where he met Surrey to plan the poster. In my opinion, Klause knew exactly what he was printing and why; and which groups in Dallas would want 5,000 of these posters. It is more likely that Klause was selected to print these posters because he was known to this group – as a member.
6. Klause claimed that he printed the posters late and night, and didn’t tell anybody, because he “wanted to keep all the money for himself.” Yet he contradicted himself, because he also said that his mother allowed him to use her printers to take jobs on the side! More likely, the job was done secretly for political reasons – not for business reasons.
7. Klause claimed that he didn’t know that JFK was coming to Dallas. Actually, if he printed his first batch in mid-October (as Cravens implies) then yes – nobody in Texas in mid-October was certain whether JFK would visit. In November, however, after the date was formalized, groups in Dallas, like the Minutemen (of which Robert Alan Surrey was a leader) would constantly discuss it.
8. When Klause called Surrey to tell him the posters were ready, they agreed to meet at a nearby café – neither at Lettercraft nor at Johnson printing companies. This underscores the secret nature of these political posters. There could be no accounting record of this poster.
9. Klause claimed that he had no further contact with Robert Alan Surrey until five weeks later – for a business transaction after the JFK Assassination. Yet, if Klause was a member of the Minutemen, then they would have surely met at the regular meetings of Minutemen. Yet the Minutemen organization and members were secret, and all their meetings would also be secret.
10. As for Walker-Surrey book, “The Assassination Story” (1963), it commemorated the death of JFK with local Dallas newspaper clippings about the Assassination weekend, including clippings about Oswald's April 10, 1963 shooting at General Walker. Surrey himself wrote the back cover notes, which had already condemned the Warren Commission for “muzzling” the mouth of General Walker. Walker relentlessly insisted that the Communists killed JFK, not some Lone Nut. But the WC would never listen. Klause knew all this. But he would not share his honest political opinions with the enemy – with the Warren Commission.
There’s my opinion.