|Born||William Guy Banister
March 7, 1901
Monroe, Louisiana, USA
|Died||June 6, 1964
New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
Cause of death
|Occupation||Federal Bureau of Investigation
|Known for||Allegations made by Jim Garrison during his investigation of the John F. Kennedy Assassination|
|Part of the series on the|
investigation of the
William Guy Banister (March 7, 1901 – June 6, 1964) was a career employee of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and a private investigator. After his death, he gained notoriety from allegations made by New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison that he had been involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Prior to the assassination, Banister had worked for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and was a former Assistant Superintendent of the New Orleans Police Department.
He was an avid anti-communist, alleged member of the Minutemen, the John Birch Society, Louisiana Committee on Un-American Activities, and alleged 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"; "Friends of Democratic Cuba". 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."
Law enforcement career
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 for the FBI. 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. 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.
In March 1957, Banister was suspended after pulling a gun in public in a bar and threatening a waiter. 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
After leaving the New Orleans Police Department, Banister established his own private detective agency, "Guy Banister Associates, Inc." at "434 Balter Building". In June 1960, Banister moved his office to "531 Lafayette Street" on the ground floor of the "Newman Building". 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 assassin of President John F. Kennedy.) 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. 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).
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." The New Orleans States-Item newspaper reported an allegation that Banister served as a munitions supplier for the 1961 Bay of Pigs Invasion and continued to deal weapons from his office until 1963.
In 1962, Banister allegedly 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. 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.
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." During this period, Ferrie was frequently seen at Banister's office. Banister served as a character witness for Ferrie at his airline pilot's grievance board hearing in the summer of 1963.
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.
Over the next few days, Martin told authorities and reporters that 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. Martin also claimed that Ferrie drove to Texas on the day of Kennedy's assassination, to serve as a getaway pilot for the assassins.
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." 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.'" The House Select Committee on Assassinations investigated Roberts' claims and said that "...the reliability of her statements could not be determined."
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.
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. Garrison also believed that Banister, Shaw, and Ferrie had conspired to set up Oswald as a patsy in the JFK assassination.
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.
Banister died of coronary thrombosis on June 6, 1964. Banister's files went to various people after his death. 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.
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.
- "XIII. 544 Camp Street and Related Events". Appendix to Hearings before the Select Committee on Assassinations of the U.S. House of Representatives X. Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office. March 1979. pp. 126–127.
- New Orleans States-Item, May 5, 1967.
- Hinckle, Warren and Turner, William. The Fish is Red: The Story of the Secret War Against Castro, (New York: Harpercollins, 1981), p. 203. ISBN 0060380039
- 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).
- Appendix to Hearings before the Select Committee on Assassinations of the U.S. House of Representatives, Volume X & 1979 page 126.
- Malcolm X: Make It Plain / Full Documentary " Best MCee Ever" - Rap Music - Zimbio
- Appendix to Hearings before the Select Committee on Assassinations of the U.S. House of Representatives, Volume X & 1979 page 127.
- Summers, Anthony. Not in Your Lifetime, (New York: Marlowe & Company, 1998), p. 225. ISBN 1-56924-739-0
- David Ferrie, House Select Committee on Assassinations - Appendix to Hearings, Volume 10, 12, p. 110.
- Appendix to Hearings before the Select Committee on Assassinations of the U.S. House of Representatives, Volume X & 1979 page 123.
- Appendix to Hearings before the Select Committee on Assassinations of the U.S. House of Representatives, Volume X & 1979 pages 123-124.
- Summers, Anthony. Not in Your Lifetime, (New York: Marlowe & Company, 1998), pp. 220-221, 226. ISBN 1-56924-739-0
- Douglass, James. JFK and the Unspeakable, (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2008), pp. 61-62. ISBN 978-1-4391-9388-4
- New Orleans States-Item, April 25, 1967
- Summers, Anthony. Not in Your Lifetime, (New York: Marlowe & Company, 1998), p. 240. ISBN 1-56924-739-0
- David Ferrie, House Select Committee on Assassinations - Appendix to Hearings, Volume 10, 12, p. 111.
- Appendix to Hearings before the Select Committee on Assassinations of the U.S. House of Representatives, Volume X & 1979 page 130.
- FBI interview of Jack S. Martin, November 25, 1963 & November 27, 1963, Warren Commission Document No. 75, pp. 217-18, 309-11.
- David Ferrie, House Select Committee on Assassinations - Appendix to Hearings, Volume 10, 12, pp. 112-13.
- Appendix to Hearings before the Select Committee on Assassinations of the U.S. House of Representatives, Volume X & 1979 page 128.
- Summers, Anthony. Not in Your Lifetime, (New York: Marlowe & Company, 1998), p. 229. ISBN 1-56924-739-0
- Appendix to Hearings before the Select Committee on Assassinations of the U.S. House of Representatives, Volume X & 1979 page 129.
- Garrison, Jim. On The Trail of the Assassins, (New York: Sheridan Square Press, 1988), p. 40. ISBN 0-941781-02-X
- Jim Garrison Interview, Playboy magazine, Eric Norden, October 1967.
- 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
- 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
- Bagwell, Orlando, Malcolm X Make It Plain (1994)
- Malcolm X: Make It Plain / Full Documentary " Best MCee Ever" - Rap Music - Zimbio
- Summers, Anthony. Not in Your Lifetime, (New York: Marlowe & Company, 1998), p. 227. ISBN 1-56924-739-0
- Summers, Anthony. Not in Your Lifetime, (New York: Marlowe & Company, 1998), pp. 226-227. ISBN 1-56924-739-0
- New Orleans District Attorney's Office, interview of Mrs. Mary Banister by Andrew Sciambra, April 29–30, 1967.