Business as usual or meet the lone gunman(UA-66627984-1)

Manning Clements.

 

Manning Clements (1927).

Son of J. T. Clements and Margaret Louisa (Lou) Chamberlain, of Burnet Co., TX. Husband of Winn M. (Winnie) Blankenship, whom he married in 1962. He graduated with a B.A. from Southwestern University, Georgetown, TX, in 1929, and in 1938 he received an L.L.B. degree from the University of Houston Law School. The same year, he was admitted to the Texas bar. Two years later, Manning Clements became a special agent for the FBI, serving in this capacity from 1940 to 1970. Some more biographical data can be found here (with thanks to Phil Hopley).

Manning Clements in 1961.

Manning Clements in 1961.

Manning Clements arrives in the evening of Nov 22nd and sees James Bookhout, and asks him if anyone has, to his knowledge, taken a detailed physical description and background information from Lee Harvey Oswald. Bookhout tells him that such description and background data had not been obtained, and suggests that Clements do it. It is a bit odd when you consider the bylines to the pictures on this page where Clements is photographed and reported upon while being in the capacity of a training officer in the years 1955 to 1961, and yet is allowed to speak alone with Lee Harvey Oswald. This could, in part, be due to the fact that Will Fritz, Bill Alexander, Henry Wade and a few others had all retreated outside City Hall for dinner to discuss the case. But why was James Bookhout who was there, not present as well?  Clements does not recall the two DPD officers who kept Oswald under guard in that interrogation room either. Clements talks with Oswald over a period of just about half an hour, during which time Oswald is taken out for a line-up (which would be the Davis Sister’s line-up). In his Warren Commission testimony Clements says that he questioned Oswald at about 10 PM, but this wrong. Thanks to a report by M.G. Hall, who is very precise with his timings. he makes mention of Clements’ arrival at 19:40. Which is very close to the “I’m just a patsy” scene in the corridor.

During Oswald’s absence Clements spends time going through the evidence laid out on a table outside the interrogation room. While going through these he allegedly notices the Selective Services Card of Alek James Hidell. That not one person of the DPD, FBI and Secret Service makes any mention of this card and its alias during the three interrogations prior to his own with Lee Oswald is nothing short of remarkable.

James Bookhout and Will Fritz (who has trouble spelling Hidell correctly) bring it up the next morning of the 23rd at the end of the first interrogation that morning which is close to 11:30. This is reported by Will Fritz, Thomas J Kelley and James Bookhout at the end of their reports and notes. That alleged whopper is kept under wraps for more than 15 hours!!!

In Manning Clements’ report from the 23rd on Oswald there is the mention of the Hidell ID, and only this item is getting a mention of Oswald’s wallet content laid out. See the first page of this five page report below.

My research, at this time, points to the DOJ/FBI inserting the Hidell ID in its reports earlier on Nov 22nd 1963 and making it look like that Robert E. Jones of the 112th INTC passed this information on. These FBI documents and the 112th INTC documents were never passed on to the Warren Commission! Jones denied mentioning the Hidell ID to the DOJ/FBI during his HSCA interview. I will go into depth about the Hidell ID matter at a later time in 2021.

Clements indicates that during his Warren Commission testimony Oswald was not at all hostile or resentful. And answered all questions, except when asked about the Hidell ID.

Mr. STERN. Will you now tell, Mr. Clements, as much as you can recall of your interrogation of Oswald at that time?
Mr. CLEMENTS. I informed him of the purpose of my interview. He made no objection. I proceeded to get his name in full. I asked him questions as to his date and place of birth, height, weight, color of his hair and eyes, and as to the existence of any permanent scars or marks. As to the identities of close relatives, their addresses and occupations, and asked him as to his own occupation, residence, attempting to get them in chronological order, and asked as to his past occupations.
Mr. STERN. Did you review with him the contents of his wallet and ask him questions on any of it?
Mr. CLEMENTS. I questioned him as to the fictitious, and obviously fictitious selective service card, which I found in his wallet. I recognized it as being fictitious card from the fact that the photograph was mounted on the card, and that there were obvious erasures in typing of information on the card itself. The card was in the name of an Alek James Hidell, but bore the photograph of Oswald.
Mr. STERN. What did he say about that card?
Mr. CLEMENTS. He declined to answer any questions as to the reason of his possession of it.
Mr. STERN. Were there any other questions you put to him that he refused to answer?
Mr. CLEMENTS. Toward the conclusion of the interview and after he had been absent and returned I continued with the questions of past residence and past occupations. He responded to my questions. At a time when I asked him as to his present occupation he hesitated and told me that he thought the obtaining of his description and background information had become somewhat prolonged. He said that he had refused to be interviewed by .other law enforcement officers previously, and that he had no intention of being interviewed by me. He continued that he knew the tactics of the FBI. He stated there was a counterpart or a similar agency in Russia, that I was using the soft touch, where the approach of a Russian agency would be different, but the tactics would be the same.
Mr. STERN. At that point did he stop answering questions?
Mr. CLEMENTS. No; at that point I asked the same question that I had asked previously, and he answered.
Mr. STERN. Did the interview continue beyond that?
Mr. CLEMENTS. That was substantially the end of the interview.
Mr. STERN. Were there other persons present besides the two Dallas police officers who were guarding him?
Mr. CLEMENTS. No.
Mr. STERN. At either time, either before or after he had been withdrawn from the lineup?
Mr. CLEMENTS. No.
Mr. STERN. Did he seem hostile or resentful or irritated by the fact that you were an FBI agent?
Mr. CLEMENTS. He did not state that, if that were the case. He was courteous, responsive as to any question. Volunteered little information.
Mr. STERN. But volunteered very little information. Did he seem a person in command of himself?
Mr. CLEMENTS. He seemed to be in command of himself both physically and mentally. He had what appeared to me to be a slightly haughty or arrogant attitude.
Mr. STERN. Did he complain to you about the treatment he was receiving?
Mr. CLEMENTS. No.
Mr. STERN. Did he say anything to you about obtaining counsel, whether he had tried to?
Mr. CLEMENTS. He said nothing whatsoever in that regard

 

 

Manning Clements in the Dallas Morning News (1960).

 

 

manning-clements1

 

Manning Clements in the Grand Prairie Daily News Nov 8 1955. From Newspapers.com.  Screen grab B.K. Click pic to enlarge.

 

Manning Clements 1966

Manning Clements 1966

After retiring from the FBI, he served as assistant attorney general for the Texas state division of crime prevention in Austin.

Thanks to Linda Giovanna Zambanini, Steve Roe and Denis Morissette for some of the pictures.