Thanks, Jason, for your kind encouragement -- and thanks for building this web site to pursue this line of inquiry. Let's continue with our survey of suspicious Dallas civilians within the context of their Warren Commission testimony.
Among the famous artifacts of the JFK Assassination is the “black-bordered” ad in the Dallas Morning News of November 22, 1963 (CE 1031) entitled “Welcome, Mr. Kennedy, to Dallas.” It ends with the name of Bernard Weissman, Chairman of the “American Fact-Finding Committee.” The Warren Commission subpoenaed Bernard Weissman to evaluate his possible connection with General Walker, with the Radical Right in Dallas, as well as with the “Wanted for Treason: JFK” poster that circulated throughout Dallas in late October and on November 22, 1963.
In my opinion, Bernard Weissman is a secondary figure in US history because he was merely an unwitting supporter of Barry Goldwater who fell to the temptation of adding his name to a full-page newspaper ad written by radical elements of the John Birch Society (JBS) in Dallas. Here's my summary of the WC testimony of Bernard Weissman. I will offer my detailed opinion in a following blog post.
1. Attorney Jenner knew that there was no such formal organization as the American Fact-Finding Committee. He knew it was a hasty front for an amateur political organization named CUSA (Conservatism USA). Jenner would probe CUSA through Bernard Weissman.
2. Bernard Weissman, 26 years old, appeared with his lawyer, Tom Flannery.
3. Jenner first asked about Larrie Schmidt, president of CUSA. Weissman had met Schmidt in the US Army when stationed at Munich, Germany in July 1962. Together with three other Army men, they formally registered CUSA in Munich as a partnership.
4. The CUSA dream was to move to conservative Dallas after their honorable discharge from the Army, so that they could build a political organization that could become the largest in the nation. They would peacefully infiltrate Right wing organizations in Dallas and rise in those hierarchies, so that, over time, they could take them all over, to peacefully unite them all into one Conservative Solidarity.
5. CUSA had a recommended reading list. Weissman had read only “Conscience of a Conservative” (1960) by Barry Goldwater. Larrie had also read “Atlas Shrugged” (1957) by Ayn Rand, but Weissman skipped it.
6. The CUSA founders believed that a clear US Foreign Policy was missing from the administrations of Eisenhower and JFK. The Reds were gaining ground. CUSA would back Goldwater for President. They would infiltrate Dallas political groups like the NIC, YAF and JBS, while steering clear of Radicals on the Right – bigots, anti-Semites and so forth. Yet Larrie’s letters revealed a quick connection with General Walker whom Weissman recognized as a leader of the Radical Right.
7. CUSA thought that these other organizations had grown too quickly, lacking national directors, so would be relatively disorganized and easy to infiltrate. It turned out to be true.
8. The CUSA publicity program could include typical student group activities, e.g. rallies, demonstrations, pickets, sit-downs, boycotts, lectures, songfests, talk-a-thons, telephone campaigns, or door-to-door campaigns and hangings in effigy (which was a common method of getting publicity among student groups; strictly non-violent).
9. CUSA advertising could include newspapers, radio, TV, billboards, booklets, pamphlets, brochures, publicity-letters, stationery, songs, emblems on flags, magazines, streetcars, taxicabs, blazers, stickers and match covers,
10. CUSA fund-raising could eventually include personal solicitation, getting firms to volunteer services, parties, teas, bridges, lectures, book sales, pins, buttons, flags and so on. CUSA considered everything because they were starting from zero.
11. The CUSA rationale was that one certainly could not make these organizations any worse than they were. Weissman hoped to bring them around to his way of thinking – where they were more beneficial to the country rather than detrimental.
12. Larrie was honorably discharged from the Army first, in October 1962, and he quickly moved to Dallas where he ambitiously began seeking conservative political contacts. Soon, he met Robert Alan Surrey, who directed him to General Walker. Then, Larrie’s brother, Robbie, was honorably discharged from the Army and moved to Dallas. Surrey invited Robbie to work for General Walker as a live-in chauffeur for $35 weekly with free room and board. Robbie took it. Larrie kept looking for steady office work and remained in contact with Weissman over mail and telephone.
13. By February 1963, Weissman learned from Larrie that CUSA had obtained a high post in the NIC (National Indignation Convention) of Dallas, led by Frank McGee – as planned. One of General Walker’s lawyers, Dr. Robert Morris, gave Larrie the title of “executive secretary” in another political group, YAF (Young Americans for Freedom). Two goals were now met. Morris was President of DAL (Defenders of American Liberties) and well connected in the JBS. At that time, he was running for the US Senate. Morris invited Larrie to join the JBS – and he did.
14. Weissman was honorably discharged in August 1963 and moved to New Jersey, soon to be joined by another CUSA member, William Burley. Larrie urged them to come to Dallas, but Larrie still had no steady job, and Weissman’s first goal was money. Also, Weissman was disappointed that Larrie had diverged from the original CUSA plan to avoid General Walker, the JBS and their anti-Jewish rhetoric.
15. Larrie persisted. On October 1, 1963, he sent a letter (CE 1033) to Weissman, telling him that in less than four weeks, Adlai Stevenson would come to Dallas for “UN Day,” and the Dallas Rightists were planning to humiliate Adlai on that evening. Larrie wrote: “Plans already made, strategy being carried out.” Larrie added that his brother, Robbie, was now working full-time for General Walker.
16. That month, Larry Jones, 21, another member of the CUSA from Germany, moved to Dallas with his girlfriend. This increased the appearance that Dallas was buzzing with promise for the CUSA. However, in perhaps three weeks, Larry and his girlfriend left, having found no work in Dallas.
17. On October 24, 1963, Larrie participated in the public humiliation of Adlai Stevenson in Dallas. Larrie had been at the Dallas Memorial Auditorium the day before, and he saw how Walker trained his hecklers and how the auditorium was prepared. Larrie’s specific role was to recruit 11 college students to protest Adlai’s speech outside the auditorium.
18. As planned, Walker’s people successfully prevented Adlai from completing his speech. It made national news, although only local Dallas news named Walker. Larrie called Weissman to boast that he had helped organize this demonstration, that it went off beautifully; that there would be national publicity, and that he was the only one in Dallas bold enough to give statements to newspapers, radio and TV. Larrie urged Weissman to move to Dallas quickly, to capitalize on this momentum to infiltrate conservative groups in Dallas to eventually seize control of all of them.
19. Weissman still worried that Robbie worked directly for General Walker. Yet, on October 28, 1963, in view of all this tangible progress, Weissman and Burley decided that they would join Larrie Schmidt in Dallas. They arrived on November 4, 1963 (only 18 days before the JFK Assassination). They were flat broke and had to find a job right away. They thought of buying a bar in Dallas (the Beachcomber Club) by using their GI loans, but they didn’t have the down payment. They decided on carpet sales.
20. As for General Walker’s organization, Larrie’s brother, Robbie, age 29, drank too much, and didn’t pay attention to politics. Content with his $35 a week with room and board as Walker’s chauffeur and general aide, Weissman saw that Robbie offered no facility to infiltrate Walker’s group.
21. Weissman claimed that he never met General Walker personally. Also, the NIC had just filed bankruptcy. Further, the chairman of the YAF didn’t like Larrie. So, plans were moving slower than Weissman had hoped.
22. While in Dallas, Weissman concluded that the JBS was unacceptable. They wasted volunteer time pasting up “Impeach Earl Warren” stickers. Although they were clearly Anticommunist, most of them seemed to be racist, bigoted and anti-Jewish. Larrie and Larry even asked Weissman to change his name. Weissman refused. Larrie then seriously advised Weissman to convert to Christianity – as a cynical strategy. Weissman was offended.
23. Even in Germany, Weissman had warned Larrie about associating CUSA with anti-Semites – because CUSA might acquire a bad reputation and never live it down. Yet Weissman never saw CUSA as Fascist or Nazi. Weissman saw CUSA members as US super-patriots.
24. To explain the contradiction – Weissman with the CUSA agreed to infiltrate these groups that Weissman had opposed politically – in the interest of an opening gambit; a necessary starting point.
25. The key CUSA financial plan was to seize control of these groups, and then seize control of their treasuries and membership dues, and thereby obtain the money needed to pursue politics full-time.
26. CUSA members also considered asking for financial support from famous citizens of Dallas who had appeared in LIFE, LOOK and TIME magazines – people like H.L. Hunt. JBS leader Joe Grinnan, for example, got the money to pay for the 1963 black-bordered ad ($1,462, about $14 thousand today) from rich JBS members like Lamar Hunt.
27. As Weissman recalled, Joe Grinnan first mentioned a newspaper ad to Larrie. After the Adlai Stevenson incident, conservatives were mocked by liberals in Dallas. The goal was to rebuild conservative morale in Dallas. Larrie and Weissman got on board one week before JFK was to be in Dallas. Larrie brought out a list of 50 “Why” questions written by some Goldwater supporter. They would select 12 as their starting point.
28. Larrie came up with the first draft, but Joe Grinnan’s connections in the JBS controlled all changes. Yet the JBS refused to sign the ad in the name of the JBS. Larrie refused to sign it in the name of CUSA. So, they all agreed on an ad hoc group, the American Fact-Finding Committee, to pay for the ad.
29. The members of the American Fact-Finding Committee were Weissman, Bill Burley, Larrie Schmidt and Joe Grinnan. Weissman could suggest only one other individual – a final proofreader: Joe’s older brother, Robert Grinnan. Weissman and Burley did go with Larrie to Joe Grinnan’s office a few times and ate in the cafeteria and meet a few of his friends. But this was only in passing – without any further personal contact.
30. Weissman never asked Joe where this money came from. Joe did not tell. But Weissman knew that Joe had to get $300 here and $400 there – so it wasn’t Joe’s own money.
31. Weissman had strongly objected to two questions. The first was: “Why has the foreign policy of the USA degenerated to the point that the CIA is arranging coups and having stanch Anticommunist allies of the US. bloodily exterminated?” Joe got this from an unknown source and insisted, “This has to go in.” It was a reference to the early November assassination of South Vietnam President Diem.
32. The second was: “Why have you ordered or permitted your brother Bobby, the Attorney General, to go soft on Communists, fellow travelers, and ultra-leftists in America, while permitting him to criticize loyal Americans, who criticize you, your administration, and your leadership?” Joe insisted on this, over Weissman’s objections.
33. One question made Weissman waver: “Why has Gus Hall, head of the US Communist Party, praised almost every one of your policies and announced that the Reds will endorse and support your reelection in 1964?” It was harsh, yet he thought that JFK might read it and choose to change his reputation; so Weissman approved it.
34. The only question that Weissman originated was the last one: “Why have you scrapped the Monroe Doctrine in favor of the spirit of Moscow?” It was about Cuba. It was unanimously accepted.
35. Larrie designed the headline. Weissman, Bill and Larrie took out the post office box that appears under his name on the ad. Weissman requested the quarter inch black border from an advertising composer at the Dallas Morning News named Dick Houston. For $1,463 the committee got two editions – the evening edition of the 21st and the morning edition of the 22nd.
36. Weissman signed his name to the ad, but the contributors controlled the final selection of the text. If Weissman had not signed it, Larrie would have. Larrie didn’t want to, because his life had been threatened due to the Adlai Stevenson demonstration. But if necessary, Larrie would have signed it. Weissman didn’t want Larrie to get the upper hand, so he signed it.
37. Yet, Weissman admitted that this ad was conceived with stimulation from an outside organization, namely, the JBS, on the occasion of JFK’s visit. Weissman concluded this because everything they did had to be passed by Joe Grinnan, a known JBS coordinator.
38. Weissman concluded that, in the final analysis, the JBS printed that ad, not CUSA. Joe Grinnan was the only man in the hierarchy of the JBS that Weissman ever met. Weissman and Burley chose not to join. Weissman hoped against hope that CUSA would one day control the JBS by taking over their leadership.
39. Early on Friday, November 22, 1963, Weissman was at work at a sales meeting. He left the meeting at 12:30, when Bill picked him up to go to the Ducharme Club to meet Larrie and Joe. Weissman turned on the radio and heard the first rumors that JFK had been shot. It sounded like fiction, except that the news was incessant.
40. Outside the Ducharme Club (which was closed) Larrie was waiting on the corner, but not Joe Grinnan. The news announcers, even before it was known that JFK was really shot, continually gossiped about a Right-wing plot. Emotions ran high.
41. The CUSA group went to another bar a few blocks away, drank beer and watched TV. After about an hour, the TV news reported that Officer JD Tippit had been shot, and they had captured a suspect inside a movie theater. About a half hour later the TV announced the suspect’s name: Lee Harvey Oswald. Weissman had never heard the name before in any context.
42. The CUSA group strongly hoped that the assassin was not one of Walker’s men. Soon it was reported by the news that he was a Marxist – so the news abandoned their attacks on the Right-wing and started going after the Left-wing. Weissman was very relieved.
43. Around 5 PM, the party broke up and they all went home – except Larrie, who was afraid to go home. So, they drove him to the Ducharme Club, which was now open. Weissman and Burley feared that because of the newspaper ad, they themselves were going to be a target. So, they just waited.
44. Perhaps 10 PM, Weissman and Burley went to Larrie’s apartment to ponder their next move. Larrie said he had spoken with Joe Grinnan, who said, “Don’t say anything, don’t do anything, don’t get any more involved than you have to. Lay low, keep out of it; it’s going to be pretty bad.”
45. The next day, Saturday the 23rd, the financier of the Nieman Marcus group, Stanley Marcus, added his editorial in the Dallas Times Herald, blaming the Right-wing for the JFK murder. The Dallas Morning News also printed these rumors – even though Oswald had been named as a Marxist. Weissman and Burley stayed at home all day – except to walk down the street for a hamburger.
46. On Saturday night they met at Larrie’s and then drove to the bus station to pick up an Army buddy from Munich and a friend of CUSA, namely, Kenneth Glazbrook. Ken had arrived in Dallas by bus that night. Ken was a world traveler with an MA degree in political science from UCLA. He was on his way to California and would stay only a couple of days.
47. The next day, Sunday the 24th, Weissman, Burley and Glazbrook went to pick up the mail at 8 or 9 AM. It was about 60 letters. They returned to their apartment and read the letters, counting the pros and cons, by postmark time stamp. About 20 were postmarked before the JFK slaying, and were mainly favorable. One included a check for the American Fact-Finding Committee in the amount of $20. He kept it as a souvenir. The rest of the letters, postmarked afterward, were unfavorable and even threatening. A girl named Lynn came over and discussed the letters with them for a while. Then Larrie came over for a few hours and left with Lynn to the Ducharme Club.
48. Then, Larrie called Weissman from the Ducharme Club. Larrie had been watching TV at the Ducharme Club with Lynn and told them that Jack Ruby had just killed Lee Harvey Oswald on live TV. Weissman now told Larrie, Joe and Burley that he considered calling the FBI and telling them everything. Joe said, “If they want you, they’ll find you. They know where you are.” So Weissman waited.
49. On Monday, when Weissman returned to work, he asked his boss, sales manager, Frank Demaria, if the FBI had been around. Frank answered, yes. Weissman asked, “What did you tell them?” Frank said, “We told them you had left about noon.” Weissman was mortified – because it accidentally made him look like a suspect in the JFK shooting.
50. As for the WANTED FOR TREASON: JFK posters, Weissman heard the following week from Larrie and Robbie Schmidt that these posters had circulated in North Dallas on the University of Dallas campus. They did not speak of the date of that circulation. Larrie denied being involved with that poster.
51. Seven nights after the JFK Assassination, in front of the Ducharme Club, Robbie Schmidt drove up in General Walker’s station wagon. Weissman noticed one of the “WANTED” posters crumpled up in the back seat. Weissman assumed that this “WANTED” poster had something to do with General Walker, details unknown. He didn’t ask because he only wanted to forget now, and to leave town.
52. Weissman knew no further details about the WANTED FOR TREASON: JFK poster, or about those named by Attorney Jenner as involved: Robert Alan Surrey, Robert Klause, Clifford Mercer, Dorothy Mercer, the Monk Brothers Printing company, Lettercraft Printing company or Johnson Printing company.
53. Weissman again denied ever meeting General Walker at any time while he was in Dallas.
54. Weissman did not recognize any names, or persons regardless of the names, from the 60 or so letters he obtained from the mailbox that Sunday morning. He received letter from Jack Ruby that he knew of.
55. Weissman never considered his ad as possibly inciting to violence. Nobody ever mentioned it.
56. Weissman left Dallas on the following Wednesday – just skipped town. Larrie wrote to Weissman – at first in insulting tones, even anti-Semitic, and then he toned that down as the weeks went forward – as he shared letters that he had received in support of the ad.
57. Weissman had never met or heard of Jack Ruby until the evening of November 24th, when Larrie called and told them that Oswald was shot.
58. Weissman had never met or heard of Lee Harvey Oswald until the afternoon of November 22nd, on the radio, with Bill Burley.
59. Weissman testified that nobody in CUSA knew or had heard of Officer Tippit until Friday, November 22nd, when the TV news told of his death. As far as he knew, Grinnan had no connection with Tippit.
60. Weissman swore under oath that neither he or any CUSA member ever met or sat in the Carousel Club with Officer Tippit – at any time. Weissman was repeatedly asked, because Mark Lane had broadcast over radio on February 28, 1964 about some evidence that Weissman had met Tippit on November 14, 1963, in the Carousel Club. Weissman added that Lane ceased these rumors after Weissman had threatened to sue him, because Lane could not produce a witness.