<Photo: Carlos Bringuier and Ed Butler, c. 1963. We found no photos of Bill Stuckey as of today. These three were often together in some combination, notably at the WDSU station, testified Bringuier and Stuckey.>
Let’s spend a little extra time examining the impact of journalist William Kirk Stuckey (Bill) on the life of Lee Harvey Oswald (LHO) in New Orleans. I’ve found very little written about Bill Stuckey. The WC volumes demonstrate a working relationship between Bill Stuckey, Ed Butler, and Carlos Bringuier. In this blog post, we’ll concentrate on the WC testimony of Bill Stuckey, which seems to be rarely perused.
We found no books about Bill Stuckey, nor could we find a photograph of Stuckey, and we couldn’t even find his birthdate anywhere. (If any reader has any of these, would you please let us know? Thanks.)
Stuckey himself testified to the WC that he was born to a comfortable family in New Orleans, but he didn’t tell even his birth year. I’ll suppose that Stuckey was born around 1930, i.e., older than Ed Butler but young enough to start an equal-terms relationship with Butler in the late 1950s.
The WC TESTIMONY of BILL STUCKEY
Let’s now briefly summarize William (Bill) Stuckey’s WC testimony. The WC attorneys asked Stuckey about his background, and he replied that he graduated from Southern Methodist University in Dallas (c. 1950) with a degree in journalism. Then he joined the Marines for 2 years and got an honorable discharge. Then he took an 8-month break in Mexico and Central America, traveling around by foot, hitchhiking, and riding buses that let livestock aboard. He improved his Spanish and learned to love Latin America.
When he finally returned to New Orleans, Stuckey devoted his time to fighting communism in Latin America by writing real-life reports for New Orleans newspapers and radio stations. By 1960, Cuban refugees flooded New Orleans, enraged over Fidel Castro. Stuckey saw a major opportunity: he’d interview these refugees and make each first-person account into one journal post for a long series of 5-minute radio spots for his weekend program, Latin Listening Post.
In the course of this work, Stuckey met a refugee named Carlos Bringuier in 1961. It turned out that they both held Ed Butler in high esteem, so Stuckey and Bringuier began a relationship.
WHY STUCKEY WANTED TO MEET LHO
Next, the WC attorneys asked Stuckey how he came to meet LHO. Stuckey testified that on that day, Friday, August 16, 1963, he went to his usual bank and saw his friend Carlos Bringuier already there. Bringuier then gave Stuckey the shocking news. At his dry goods store, CasaRoca, 11 days ago (August 5th) an undercover agent of a well-known communist front group, the Fair Play for Cuba Committee (FPCC) visited him without notice or formality.
Stuckey’s reaction was something like, “What? No FPCC agent ever openly set foot in New Orleans before!” Bringuier added that this FPCC agent introduced himself as “Lee Harvey Oswald.” Yet four days later, Bringuier’s friends saw LHO passing out FPCC handbills on Canal Street! So, an enraged Bringuier and two friends went to fight LHO in the streets. Police arrested all four. On August 12th, the judge found Bringuier and his friends not guilty, while LHO was guilty of disturbing the peace, and fined. That was the end of it.
STUCKEY MEETS LHO
Stuckey gulped; this was crucial! Why did the FPCC come to NOLA now? Why did the FPCC pinpoint Carlos Bringuier and DRE, and send an agent directly to his dry goods store unannounced? Were communists moving into New Orleans? Stuckey pressed Bringuier for more details. All right, said Bringuier, here goes.
Bringuier said that LHO came into Casa Roca claiming to be a former US Marine with guerilla training. He assured Bringuier that he was on Bringuier’s side, and he could help train the DRE militia of Cuban refugees inside the US to storm Cuba and depose Fidel! Yet Bringuier was suspicious; how did LHO know so much about his store and his DRE in New Orleans?
LHO gave Bringuier his Marine Handbook, perhaps as proof of his claims. Bringuier took the book but wondered if LHO was a spy; and if so, for whom?
1. The communists would try to spy on the DRE, to learn their plans and undermine them.
2. Also, DRE was not the only leader of secret paramilitary camps for Cuban refugees. Competing camps would spy on each other, to try to climb ahead of the others as leaders of the new Cuban revolution.
3. Also, the FBI was sending agents as spies to sniff around for paramilitary militia camps, to close them down, by order of JFK and Director Hoover.
Bringuier wondered who truly LHO was, so he said he’d think about it.
Then, on April 9th, as Bringuier and two friends walked down Canal Street about a block from Casa Roca, they saw LHO again, but this time LHO was openly distributing Fidel’s handbills that said, “Hands Off Cuba! Join the FPCC in New Orleans, Charter Member Branch.” LHO also wore a big sign on his chest that said, “Viva Fidel!”
Now he saw! LHO was no ally; he was a liar and a spy for the FPCC! So, he and his two friends made a loud, long, shouting spectacle with LHO on Canal Street. They threw LHO’s yellow handbills high into the air by the box full. The police arrived and took everybody to jail. The judge found Bringuier and his friends not guilty and released them. The judge found LHO guilty of disturbing the peace and fined him $10. That was Bringuier’s detailed account.
STUCKEY MEETS LHO
Stuckey was shocked that an FPCC agent would visit New Orleans and quickly and specifically pinpoint Carlos Bringuier. Was Fidel himself interested in Bringuier? Stuckey decided to confront LHO himself. He asked Bringuier for LHO’s street address and phone number. Bringuier replied, “His address is 4907 Magazine Street and he has no telephone.”
Stuckey planned out his next move. He would visit LHO early the next morning, Saturday, August 17th, and briefly interview him. He would get LHO to let down his guard and even appear on Stuckey’s radio program, the Latin Listening Post. He would visit LHO at home – early and unannounced – to ensure he got there before LHO went anywhere.
AUGUST 17, 1963, at 8 a.m.
When he arrived at LHO’s door at 8 a.m., Stuckey knocked and LHO came out wearing Marine Corps fatigue trousers and no shirt. Stuckey introduced himself and asked LHO for insights into his recent arrest and his FPCC branch. LHO agreed, but he said he couldn’t invite Stuckey inside for coffee because his wife and baby were sleeping. So, they should talk on the porch.
Stuckey began with the FPCC in New Orleans. LHO began by insisting that he wasn’t the local group’s president – he was only the secretary. LHO showed Stuckey his FPCC membership card which identified him as the secretary of the New Orleans chapter of the FPCC, signed by A. Hidell, president. Stuckey had never heard of A. Hidell before, so he dismissed it.
Stuckey asked LHO about his FPCC membership and LHO said the FPCC would not say anything about the members. LHO added that he reported to perhaps a dozen people. LHO also assured Stuckey that he was a loyal American and that the FPCC was certainly not communist and had no connection with communism.
Stuckey’s notion of the FPCC didn’t fit LHO’s personality type. LHO was clean-cut, not a hippie folk singer. LHO was well-read and articulate – conscious of each move he made and every word he spoke. LHO was deliberate and confident, unlike most leftists.
Then, LHO’s young wife came to the porch and spoke to him in Russian, and LHO replied to her in Russian. Stuckey asked LHO what that was all about. LHO explained that he was taking a languages course at Tulane University, so they were practicing for LHO’s course.
Stuckey realized that he must have LHO appear on his radio show that very night at 5 p.m. He asked LHO and LHO agreed. All-day long, LHO and his FPCC in New Orleans fascinated Stuckey. He got an idea. Rather than a 5-minute interview that night, he would invite LHO to interview to fill a full 37-minute tape. (WDSU always taped such interviews to be able to censor content if necessary).
Their WDSU recording engineer, Al Campin, was also eager to hear LHO because an FPCC advocate was a rare bird in New Orleans. Why did the FPCC ever come to Canal Street?
Given a 37-minute taped interview, Stuckey could quickly excerpt his 5-minute spot. Then he twould tell the station director that WDSU could use this same tape to make another seven weekends worth of episodes. To get ready for this upcoming 37-minute tape of LHO, Stuckey wrote more than a dozen questions. He arrived at the radio station about 4:55 p.m. and waited for LHO.
AUGUST 17, 1963, at 5 p.m. – the 1ST WDSU Interview
LHO came promptly at 5 p.m. dressed like he was in the film of him passing out FPCC fliers on Canal Street: a short-sleeved dress shirt, a tie, and a black looseleaf notebook under his arm. LHO handed Stuckey an FPCC pamphlet about the Bay of Pigs, namely, The Cuban Episode and the American Press (WC Stuckey Exhibit #1, link below). They didn’t chat; they promptly went into the recording room.
The interview questions covered a wide range of issues about Cuba, for example: (1) about Cuban refugees flooding into the US; (2) whether Fidel was merely the head of a Russian colony; (3) what happened to the Cuban economy after Fidel took over; and so forth.
Then Stuckey asked LHO to define “democracy.” Stuckey soon saw that LHO was adept at taking any question and smoothly twisting it to say what LHO wanted to say.
“Well, the definition of democracy – that’s a very good one. That viewpoint is controversial; it used to be clear, but not anymore. When our Founding Fathers drew up the Constitution, they considered that democracy was creating an atmosphere of freedom of discussion, of argument, of finding the truth.
“The classic rights of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness – in Latin America they have *none* of those rights at all! So, my definition of democracy is the right to be in a minority and not be suppressed; the right to see for yourselfwithout government restrictions on such countries as Cuba.”
Instead of answering his question, LHO twisted it into the US/Cuba passport ban instead. At least 6 times in this tape LHO would say, ‘What a great question,’ and then twist it his way.
They ended their interview around 5:40 p.m., and then they played it back. LHO approved. Around 6:20 p.m., Stuckey told LHO that he’d ask the news director if he wished to use the entire 37-minute tape in later shows. LHO thought that was great for publicity, and agreed, so Stuckey gave LHO his phone number and the best times to reach him. Then LHO left.
Stuckey now began to excerpt clips of LHO’s statements for his 5-minute broadcast. He especially liked LHO’s definition of democracy, and also LHO’s comments about Fidel being a free and independent leader of a free and independent state. The rest was largely Stuckey summarizing the whole 37-minute interview. The 5-minute broadcast aired exactly at 7:30 p.m.
AUGUST 18, 1963, Sunday
The next day, Sunday the 18th, Stuckey called the WDSU director and asked if he was interested in using his full 37-minute tape. (Transcript of this tape is WC Stuckey Exhibit #2, link below).
The director replied: ‘Instead of this tape, there’d be more public interest in arranging a debate panel with some local anti-communists to refute LHO’s claims.’ Stuckey knew the director meant the daily 25-minute WDSU radio program called, ConversationCarte Blanche. Stuckey agreed. The director wanted it soon – next Wednesday, August 21st, at 5:30 sharp. Stuckey agreed.
AUGUST 19, 1963, Monday
Early Monday morning, Stuckey visited LHO again to bring him up-to-date and ask him to debate Bringuier on live radio for 25 minutes. LHO was pleased for another chance to be on the air, advocating the FPCC against Bringuier. Good. Stuckey told LHO that the director wanted this to occur in only two more days, i.e., on Wednesday, August 21st at 5:30 p.m. LHO agreed.
As Stuckey planned out the sequence of events, he worried that Bringuier spoke in broken English while LHO was an expert in spoken English. So, Stuckey decided he’d join the debate on Bringuier’s side. Soon, however, Stuckey wondered if he himself could keep up with the articulate LHO. Therefore:
1. Stuckey called his good friend, Ed Butler (INCA), to be a 3rd panelist.
2. Butler accepted.
3. Stuckey let Butler hear LHO’s 37-minute tape from August 17th.
4. Stuckey asked Butler to call their friends in Washington DC for any dirt on LHO.
5. Stuckey and Butler agreed to attack LHO on live radio with everything they had.
Bringuier (who had led Stuckey directly to LHO) would add a “Cuban flavor” to the debate. He would not mind, either, as long as Stuckey took LHO down.
AUGUST 21, 1963, Wednesday, 9 a.m.
According to Stuckey’s WC testimony, on the morning of August 21st, he and Butler received fresh, amazing news from their contacts in Washington DC. “Did you know that LHO had lived in Russia for 3 years!?” What!? What a bombshell!
Stuckey remembered that only five days ago LHO briefly summarized his life story but secretly omitted his Russian period, as follows:
LHO said he grew up in Texas, New York, and Louisiana. He said that for 2 years he attended Beauregard Junior High in NOLA; then for 1 year he attended Warren Easton High School in NOLA; then his family moved back to Texas; then he joined the US Marines in 1956 and spent 3 years working up to the rank of buck sergeant; then he worked for a photography and printing company in Texas. Finally, LHO moved to New Orleans with his wife and child only 4 months ago.
By commission, LHO lied about attending Beauregard Junior High for 2 years – it was only 1 year. LHO lied about going to Warren Easton High School for “over a year” – it was only two months. LHO lied about being a buck sergeant in the Marines; he was only a private. (Stuckey wondered, why would anybody lie about having a higher Marine rank?)
Yet most importantly, by omission, LHO lied by hiding his three years of residence in Russia
The WC testimony of Stuckey and Bringuier says they never realized that LHO’s New Orleans FPCC was a FAKE! This lie was the mother of his other lies. Where would all these lies lead?
Stuckey became worried that LHO had lied to him. In politics, lies suggest spies. Could LHO be a KGB spy? Could his wife? Stuckey resolved to put an end to all the lies. Stucky himself would drop the bombshell during his opening radio introduction of LHO. He kept it all secret until the host asked Stuckey to introduce LHO. It surprised LHO when Stuckey’s introduction went, wham! on a live radio audience!
AUGUST 21, 1963, Wednesday, 5:30 p.m.
A bit before 5:30 p.m. Stuckey arrived alone at the station. Then LHO appeared, on time as usual. They shook hands and exchanged pleasantries, but nothing serious. The other two arrived a little later. Both had arms full of report folders. LHO recognized Bringuier but not Butler. Stuckey introduced them briefly, then LHO drew Stuckey aside to ask about Butler’s INCA organization. Stuckey replied, “Well, it’s just like your organization; it’s a propaganda outfit, just on the other side of the fence!” That labeled him well enough for LHO.
Bringuier needled LHO, saying, “When I first met you, I thought you were a very nice boy,” referring to LHO’s visit to Bringuier’s store when LHO posed as an anti-Castro zealot.
* Bringuier added, “I can’t understand how you let yourself become entangled with this group...I don’t think you know what you’re doing.”
* LHO replied, “I don’t think *you* know what *you’re* doing.”
* Bringuier added, ‘Anytime you want to get out of your organization and join mine there is a place for you…I hope one day you will see the light.’
`* LHO again replied, “I hope one day *you* see the light.”
That was how these two interacted in general. Ed Butler said nothing to LHO aside from, “How do you do.” Stuckey then helped their official host, Bill Slatter, gather the panel guests into the broadcast room. Slatter oriented the show by saying that he and Stuckey were two station people talking to three panelists. Slatter gave a brief description of LHO and his FPCC in New Orleans and then he turned the show over to Bill Stuckey.
Stuckey gave a longer intro of the FPCC and a longer intro of LHO and his activities in New Orleans. Then, Stuckey let the bomb fall: “In my previous interview, Mr. Oswald told me his background, yet he left out some facts. Today I learned that Mr. Oswald has lived in Russia for 3 years! Is this true, Mr. Oswald?’ And LHO replied, “Yes.”
Stuckey then read from a 1962 news clipping: “Mr. Oswald had returned from the Soviet Union with his wife and child after having lived there since 1959.” Stuckey asked LHO if this was correct. LHO responded, ‘That is correct.’
Bullseye; LHO was now 90% exposed.
The whole panel could see that this exposure had wounded LHO. Stuckey, Butler, and Bringuier then traded off pressuring LHO for an answer: “Why don't you admit that you are a communist?” LHO kept answering, “I already told you that I belong to no organization other than the FPCC!” Finally, Stuckey shot back, “Well, then, are you a Marxist?” And to this LHO replied, “Yes.”
Bullseye; LHO was 100% exposed.
LHO remained calm, although his answers were shorter after that forceful exposure. The program increasingly became Butler’s speeches with Bringuier chiming in. Butler asked LHO the difference between a Marxist and a communist. LHO evaded the answer, saying that the West African nations of, ‘Ghana and Guinea aren’t communist though they adhere to Marxist principles. Even Great Britain has socialized medicine.” Stuckey found that answer to be weak.
The Associated Press transcription of this 25-minute debate is now WC Stuckey Exhibit #3. The AP removed the “ums” and “ers” of all the speakers except LHO. (Stuckey thought that was unfair).
Stuckey remained impressed by the wide reading of LHO on Marxism, democracy, communism, fascism, and socialism. Stuckey testified that LHO was never superficial in his eyes. LHO knew a wide body of facts about Cuba and Marxism, while Stuckey himself didn’t know as much.
LHO was the first career Marxist that Stuckey had ever met. He was impressed by LHO’s knowledge of the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Regardless, Stuckey believed that his radio program had successfully destroyed LHO’s political career in New Orleans. After tonight, any FPCC in New Orleans had no future! Stuckey had publicly linked the FPCC with the man LHO who had lived in Russia for 3 years and was an admitted Marxist! Game over!
Stuckey thought that LHO’s voice usually sounded wooden and stiff and that LHO preferred 6-syllable words to 2-syllable words. But that was common among such quasi-legal types. This pathetic ambush was necessary, testified Stuckey because articulate LHO posed a danger of accumulating countless new FPCC members because of his intelligent, polite, believable personality.
As evidence, Stuckey noted that LHO’s FPCC chapter collapsed only weeks after this edition of Conversation Carte Blanche.
STUCKEY AND LHO GO TO A BAR
After the broadcast was over, everyone left except Stuckey and LHO who looked dejected. Stuckey said to LHO, “Well, let’s go out and have a beer,” and LHO agreed. They went to Comeaux’s Bar, just five doors down from station WDSU.
This was the first time that Stuckey saw LHO relax from his usual, quasi-legal, wooden speech. LHO opened up a bit. They conversed for about an hour. Stuckey joked and told LHO his suit was a gawky cut. LHO replied that he bought that suit in Russia and that Russia knew little about fine clothes. They laughed.
LHO had been reading about Indonesian Communism – everything he could get his hands on. He said Sukarno was no communist, rather, he was an opportunist exploiting communists!
They discussed alcohol. Stuckey noticed that LHO was nursing his beer on a hot night. He asked about it and LHO replied, “Well, I’m not used to drinking beer. I’m a vodka drinker...My father-in-law taught me how to drink vodka...He was a Russian Army colonel. Army colonels earn quadruple what factory workers, like me, earned in Russia, so they can afford all the vodka they want.” That was how LHO learned to drink vodka – according to Stuckey.
Up to this point, LHO had only referred to Marina as “my wife” but never by name. But now, LHO spoke more about her and baby June.
LHO showed Stuckey his Marine discharge card which read, “Honorable Discharge.” Stuckey, a former Marine, had one exactly like it. So, he saw no reason to doubt it. Stuckey asked LHO how a former Marine became interested in Marxism in the first place. LHO replied that there are so many books on Marxism in any public library. He began to read them at the age of 15.
Yet LHO’s decisive experience was his military service in Japan. Poor living conditions there convinced him that something was wrong with the system and that possibly Marxism could help. That’s when LHO finally decided to go to Russia to see for himself how a Marxist society operates.
In his relaxed state at Comeaux’s Bar, LHO admitted that after 3 years in Russia he became disappointed with Russian life. Russian factories were like US factories – anybody with authority would exploit it to the fullest to get their friends extra privileges. There was lots of dishonesty, padding of production figures, and so forth.
LHO told Stuckey that Russian life was bland and homogenized. Everybody seemed alike in Russia because the Communist Party had eliminated the dissenting elements. LHO added that Russia would never let a radical organization like the FPCC operate there!
At the end, Stuckey supposed that LHO appeared relieved by the fact that hiding his Russian residence was over. It was a load off his shoulders. And that was the last time that Stuckey ever met with LHO. From August 17 to August 21, Stuckey met LHO for only five days. But these five days were significant for LHO’s personal goals with the FPCC.
As a final observation, Stuckey noted that LHO’s FPCC chapter collapsed only weeks after this edition of Conversation Carte Blanche.
In our next blog post, we’ll take a closer look at the educated Ed Butler, the good friend of both Carlos Bringuier and Bill Stuckey. Was LHO the only one lying in these radio productions?
© Copyright 2022 by Paul Edward Trejo. All Rights Reserved.
The WC testimony of William Kirk Stuckey taken on June 6, 1964
WC Exhibits, Stuckey Exhibit No. 1. An FPCC pamphlet.
WC Exhibits, Stuckey Exhibit No. 2. This is a transcript of LHO’s first radio interview by Stuckey
WC Exhibits, Stuckey Exhibit No. 3 – Transcript of LHO’s second radio interview by Stuckey, Butler, Bringuier