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William Guy Banister
Born March 7, 1901
Monroe, Louisiana, USA
Died June 6, 1964(1964-06-06) (aged 64)
New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
Cause of death coronary thrombosis
Nationality American
Occupation Federal Bureau of Investigation
Private Investigator
Known for Allegations made by Jim Garrison during his investigation of the John F. Kennedy Assassination

William Guy Banister (March 7, 1901 – June 6, 1964)[1] was a career employee of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and a private investigator. He gained notoriety from the allegations made by New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison, after Banister's death, that he had been involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Prior to the assassination he had also worked for the Office of Naval Intelligence, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and was a former New Orleans police department Assistant Superintendent.

He was an avid anti-communist member of the Minutemen, the John Birch Society, Louisiana Committee on Un-American Activities and publisher of the Louisiana Intelligence Digest. He also supported various anti-Castro groups in the New Orleans area: "Cuban Democratic Revolutionary Front"; "Anti-Communist League of the Caribbean"; "Crusade to Free Cuba"; "Cuban Revolutionary Council"; "Frente Revolucionary Democratica"; "Friends of Democratic Cuba".[2] According to the New Orleans States-Item newspaper, "Guy [Banister] participated in every anti-Communist South and Central American revolution that came along, acting as a key liaison man for the U.S. government-sponsored anti-Communist activities in Latin America."[3]

Early life Edit

Banister was born in Monroe, Louisiana, the oldest of seven children. After studying at the Louisiana State University, he joined the Monroe Police Department.[4][5] According to the Naval Office of Veteran Affairs, Banister served with the Office of Naval Intelligence during World War II and maintained contacts after the war.[6]

Law enforcement career Edit

In 1934, Banister joined the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He was present at the killing of John Dillinger. Originally based in Indianapolis, he later moved to New York City where he was involved in the investigation of the American Communist Party. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover was impressed by Banister's work and, in 1938, he was promoted to run the FBI unit in Butte, Montana. He also served in Oklahoma City, Minneapolis and Chicago. In Chicago, he was the Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau’s counter-insurgency unit, Division Five where one of his associates, Robert Maheu, was later to serve as liaison between the Central Intelligence Agency and the Mafia, regarding the various assassination plots against Fidel Castro.[7] He retired from the FBI in 1954.

Banister moved to Louisiana and, in January 1955, became Assistant Superintendent of the New Orleans Police Department, where he was given the task of investigating organized crime and corruption within the police force. It later emerged that he was also involved in looking at the role that left-wing political activists were playing in the struggle for civil rights in New Orleans.[8] On the campuses of Tulane University and Louisiana State University, he ran a network of informants collecting information on "communist" activities. He submitted reports on his findings to the FBI through contacts.[9]

In March 1957, Banister was suspended after pulling a gun in public in a bar and threatening a waiter.[10] His suspension ended in June of that year. However, when he refused to be transferred to the N.O.P.D.'s Planning Department, he was dismissed from the force.

Private Investigation, Cuba, Oswald, Marcello Edit

After leaving the New Orleans Police Department, Banister established his own private detective agency, "Guy Banister Associates, Inc." at "434 Balter Building".[11] In early 1962, Banister moved his office to "531 Lafayette Street" on the ground floor of the "Newman Building".[12] Around the corner but located in the same building, with a different entrance, was the address "544 Camp Street". (The address "544 Camp Street" would later be found stamped on one of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee leaflets, distributed by Lee Harvey Oswald, the alleged assassin of President John F. Kennedy.)[13] The "Newman Building" housed militant anti-Castro groups, including the Cuban Revolutionary Council (October 1961 to February 1962), as well as Sergio Arcacha Smith's Crusade to Free Cuba Committee.[14] Banister's office was within walking distance of the New Orleans offices of the FBI, CIA, Office of Naval Intelligence and the Reily Coffee Company (Lee Harvey Oswald's employer and a supporter of anti-Castro Cubans).[15][16]
File:Guy bannister 1959 advertisement.png

Banister was implicated in a 1961 raid on a munitions depot in Houma, Louisiana, "...in which various weapons, grenades and ammunition were stolen ... which were reportedly seen stacked in Banister's back room by several witnesses."[17] The New Orleans States-Item newspaper reported that Banister served as a munitions supplier for the 1961 Bay of Pigs Invasion and continued to deal weapons from his office until 1963.[18]

In 1962, Banister dispatched an associate, Maurice Brooks Gatlin — legal counsel of Banister's "Anti-Communist League of the Caribbean" — to Paris to deliver a suitcase containing $200,000 for the French OAS.[citation needed] In 1963, Banister and anti-Castro activist David Ferrie began working for a lawyer named G. Wray Gill and his client, New Orleans Mafia boss Carlos Marcello. This involved attempts to block Marcello's deportation to Guatemala.[19][20]

In early 1962, Banister assisted David Ferrie in a dispute with Eastern Airlines regarding "...charges brought [against Ferrie] by the airline and local New Orleans police of crimes against nature and extortion."[21] During this period, Ferrie was frequently seen at Banister's office.[22] Banister served as a character witness for Ferrie at his airline pilot's grievance board hearing in the summer of 1963.[23][24]

JFK Assassination Edit

On the afternoon of November 22, 1963, the day that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, Banister and one of his investigators, Jack Martin, were drinking together at the Katzenjammer Bar, located next door to 544 Camp Street, New Orleans. On their return to Banister's office, the two men got into a dispute. Banister believed that Martin had stolen some files and drew his .357 magnum revolver, striking Martin with it several times. During the altercation Martin yelled: "What are you going to do — kill me like you all did Kennedy?" Martin was badly injured and treated at Charity Hospital.[25]

Over the next few days, Martin told authorities and reporters that Banister and anti-Castro activist David Ferrie had been involved in the assassination. He claimed that Ferrie knew Oswald from their days in the New Orleans Civil Air Patrol, and that Ferrie might have taught Oswald how to use a rifle with a telescopic sight.[26] Martin also claimed that Banister had often been in the company of Ferrie, and that Ferrie drove to Texas on the day of Kennedy's assassination, to serve as a getaway pilot for the assassins.[27]

Witnesses interviewed by the House Select Committee on Assassinations "... indicate Banister was aware of Oswald and his Fair Play for Cuba Committee before the assassination."[28] Banister's secretary, Delphine Roberts, told author Anthony Summers that Oswald "...seemed to be on familiar terms with Banister and with [Banister's] office." Roberts said, "As I understood it, he had the use of an office on the second floor, above the main office where we worked.... Then, several times, Mr. Banister brought me upstairs, and in the office above I saw various writings stuck up on the wall pertaining to Cuba. There were various leaflets up there pertaining to Fair Play for Cuba.'"[29] The House Select Committee on Assassinations investigated Roberts' claims and said that "...the reliability of her statements could not be determined."[30]

The alleged activities of Banister, Ferrie and Oswald reached New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison who, by late 1966, had become very interested in the New Orleans aspects of the assassination. In December 1966, Garrison interviewed Martin about these activities. Martin claimed that Banister, Ferrie and a group of anti-Castro Cuban exiles were involved in operations against Castro's Cuba that included gun running and burglarized armories.[31]

As Garrison continued his investigation, he became convinced that a group of right-wing activists, including Banister, Ferrie and Clay Shaw, were involved in a conspiracy with elements of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to kill Kennedy. Garrison would later claim that the motive for the assassination was anger over Kennedy's attempts to obtain a peace settlement in both Cuba and Vietnam.[32][33] Garrison also believed that Banister, Shaw, and Ferrie had conspired to set up Oswald as a patsy in the JFK assassination.[34]

Post JFK Edit

Banister's publication, the Louisiana Intelligence Digest, maintained that the civil rights movement was part of an international communist conspiracy and was treasonous. A black reporter, Louis E. Lomax, investigating the possible connection of Banister to the assassinations of Kennedy, and Malcolm X, died in a car accident shortly after signing a contract to help with a movie about the assassination of Malcolm X.[35][36]

Death Edit

Banister died of coronary thrombosis on June 6, 1964 just prior to the closing of the Warren Commission investigation into the assassination. Investigators had intended to question him regarding the following topics: "CIA", "Ammunition and Arms", "Civil rights program of JFK", "Fair Play for Cuba Committee" and "The International Trade Mart". Banister's files went missing after his death.[37] Later, New Orleans Assistant District Attorney Andrew Sciambra interviewed Banister's widow. She told him that she saw some Fair Play for Cuba leaflets in Banister's office when she went there after his death.[38][39]

Fictional portrayals Edit

Banister also is a character in Oliver Stone's 1991 movie JFK, in which he is portrayed by Edward Asner. He is also central to the plot of Don DeLillo's novel Libra. Guy Banister appears as a character in James Ellroy's 1995 novel American Tabloid and its sequel The Cold Six Thousand. In American Tabloid, Banister organizes John Kennedy's assassination, which is based on Ward Littell's original plan. Littell is one of the story's main characters. In The Cold Six Thousand, Guy Banister is murdered by Chuck Rogers under orders from Carlos Marcello. Chuck tells Pete Bondurant, a main character, how he used excess digitalis and jokes Carlos gave the job to Chuck instead of Pete because he wanted to give Pete a break.

References Edit

  1. http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=banister&GScid=571496&GRid=18533329&
  2. 544 Camp Street and Related Events, House Select Committee on Assassinations - Appendix to Hearings, Volume 10, 13, pp. 126-7.
  3. New Orleans States-Item, May 5, 1967.
  4. HSCA: Material received from files of New Orleans district attorney's office pertaining to investigation and trial of Clay Shaw, 1967-69, attachment D, section 5, regarding Guy Banister, "Biographical Sketch" (JFK Document 007271).
  5. 544 Camp Street and Related Events, House Select Committee on Assassinations - Appendix to Hearings, Volume 10, 13, p. 126.
  6. Summers, Anthony. Not in Your Lifetime, (New York: Marlowe & Company, 1998), p. 225. ISBN 1-56924-739-0
  7. 544 Camp Street and Related Events, House Select Committee on Assassinations - Appendix to Hearings, Volume 10, 13, p. 126.
  8. Malcolm X: Make It Plain / Full Documentary " Best MCee Ever" - Rap Music - Zimbio
  9. 544 Camp Street and Related Events, House Select Committee on Assassinations - Appendix to Hearings, Volume 10, 13, p. 127.
  10. Summers, Anthony. Not in Your Lifetime, (New York: Marlowe & Company, 1998), p. 225. ISBN 1-56924-739-0
  11. David Ferrie, House Select Committee on Assassinations - Appendix to Hearings, Volume 10, 12, p. 110.
  12. David Ferrie, House Select Committee on Assassinations - Appendix to Hearings, Volume 10, 12, p. 110.
  13. 544 Camp Street and Related Events, House Select Committee on Assassinations—Appendix to Hearings, vol. 10, 13, p. 123.
  14. 544 Camp Street and Related Events, House Select Committee on Assassinations - Appendix to Hearings, Volume 10, 13, pp. 123-4.
  15. Summers, Anthony. Not in Your Lifetime, (New York: Marlowe & Company, 1998), pp. 220-221, 226. ISBN 1-56924-739-0
  16. Douglass, James. JFK and the Unspeakable, (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2008), pp. 61-62. ISBN 978-1-4391-9388-4
  17. 544 Camp Street and Related Events, House Select Committee on Assassinations - Appendix to Hearings, Volume 10, 13, p. 127.
  18. New Orleans States-Item, April 25, 1967
  19. 544 Camp Street and Related Events, House Select Committee on Assassinations - Appendix to Hearings, Volume 10, 13, p. 127.
  20. Summers, Anthony. Not in Your Lifetime, (New York: Marlowe & Company, 1998), p. 240. ISBN 1-56924-739-0
  21. 544 Camp Street and Related Events, House Select Committee on Assassinations - Appendix to Hearings, Volume 10, 13, p. 127.
  22. David Ferrie, House Select Committee on Assassinations - Appendix to Hearings, Volume 10, 12, p. 111.
  23. David Ferrie, House Select Committee on Assassinations - Appendix to Hearings, Volume 10, 12, p. 111.
  24. 544 Camp Street and Related Events, House Select Committee on Assassinations - Appendix to Hearings, Volume 10, 13, p. 127.
  25. 544 Camp Street and Related Events, House Select Committee on Assassinations - Appendix to Hearings, Volume 10, 13, p. 130.
  26. FBI interview of Jack S. Martin, 25 November 1963 & 27 November 1963, Warren Commission Document No. 75, pp. 217-18, 309-11.
  27. David Ferrie, House Select Committee on Assassinations - Appendix to Hearings, Volume 10, 12, pp. 112-13.
  28. 544 Camp Street and Related Events, House Select Committee on Assassinations - Appendix to Hearings, Volume 10, 13, p. 128.
  29. Summers, Anthony. Not in Your Lifetime, (New York: Marlowe & Company, 1998), p. 229. ISBN 1-56924-739-0
  30. 544 Camp Street and Related Events, House Select Committee on Assassinations - Appendix to Hearings, Volume 10, 8, p. 129.
  31. Garrison, Jim. On The Trail of the Assassins, (New York: Sheridan Square Press, 1988), p. 40. ISBN 0-941781-02-X
  32. Jim Garrison Interview, Playboy magazine, Eric Norden, October 1967.
  33. Garrison, Jim. On The Trail of the Assassins, (New York: Sheridan Square Press, 1988), pp. 12-13, 43, 176-178, 277, 293. ISBN 0-941781-02-X
  34. Garrison, Jim. On The Trail of the Assassins, (New York: Sheridan Square Press, 1988), pp. 26-27, 62, 70, 106-110, 250, 278, 289. ISBN 0-941781-02-X
  35. Bagwell, Orlando, Malcolm X Make It Plain (1994)
  36. Malcolm X: Make It Plain / Full Documentary " Best MCee Ever" - Rap Music - Zimbio
  37. Summers, Anthony. Not in Your Lifetime, (New York: Marlowe & Company, 1998), p. 227. ISBN 1-56924-739-0
  38. Summers, Anthony. Not in Your Lifetime, (New York: Marlowe & Company, 1998), pp. 226-227. ISBN 1-56924-739-0
  39. New Orleans District Attorney's Office, interview of Mrs. Mary Banister by Andrew Sciambra, April 29-30, 1967.

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