Bits and pieces offered for your consideration, courtesy of the Assassination Archives and Research Center. [To enlarge images, right click and select “View Image.”]
Bits and pieces offered for your consideration, courtesy of the Assassination Archives and Research Center. [To enlarge images, right click and select “View Image.”]
Following is the first in a series of commentaries by distinguished authors, researchers, and historians associated with the AARC. We begin with AARC Board member, the esteemed Malcolm Blunt.
29 August, 2017 © 2017 – Malcolm Blunt
Both the Church Committee* and the House Select Committee on Assassinations gained access to the CIA Office of Security files of Lee Harvey Oswald. In 1993, despite a directive from CIA Director Robert Gates seeking an all-encompassing search of ALL CIA components for ANY material/records relevant to the assassination of President Kennedy, the Oswald OS files remained hidden. This huge search by CIA did not surface Oswald’s security files and the Assassination Records Review Board remained uninformed about their existence. Not until 1997 when an ARRB staffer stumbled across evidence that two previous congressional investigations had access to these files did CIA “discover” them. CIA told the ARRB that the reason the Oswald security files were not previously located was because those records were not at the Agency Archival Record Center in Alexandria, VA; they were in fact at CIA HQS in Langley within Office of Security Archival Holdings. How were they missed in the Gates search of 1993?
In 1998 CIA handed over LHO’s Security files to the ARRB. Upon delivery staffers there discovered that of the 7 volume set, one volume, Volume 5, was missing. Prior to sending over the files to the ARRB the CIA’s Historical Review Group, now “consolidated” (disbanded) and reformed as part of IMS (IMG) Information Management Services (Group), also spotted this curious anomaly and had sought to try and work out some sort of explanation for the disappearance. Internal HRG memos show that they first thought that there never was a volume 5, it was simply a case of miss-numbering by clerical staff. Another thought came to mind within CIA/HRG: perhaps the absence of Volume 5 of the Oswald security file might be explained by “consolidation” of those records. In other words, Volume 5 could have been consolidated within Volume 4 and/or Volume 6.
We can detect that some concern was generated within the Agency for obvious reasons; CIA might receive much criticism and subject itself to accusations of “foul play” with regard to the missing volume. CIA eventually decided to go with the following: “Volume 5 of Oswald’s Security file may never have existed.” — Clearly the Historical Review Group, which was responsible for the release of all JFK related CIA material, found itself in an acutely embarrassing predicament. It does seem that there was genuine puzzlement within the HRG about this as they struggled to find an explanation. Some partial explanation may reside in the files of Scott Breckinridge and the OLC (Office of Legal Counsel) who acted as liaison between CIA and the HSCA in the seventies. One Breckinridge note describes the OS volumes to which Betsy Wolf, the HSCA researcher tasked with reading Oswald’s security files, had access. In this typewritten note Scott Breckinridge specifically mentions Wolf’s access to Volume 5.
So what are we to make of this? In response to official requests from the US Government and despite specific directives from CIA Directors Gates and Tenet, which were acted upon by HRG Chief John Pereira in 1993 and J. Barry Harrelson in 1997, the Oswald Security files seem to have been turned inside out and outside in. Volume 5 existed during the tenure of the HSCA as confirmed by the Chief Counsel of OLC, Scott Breckinridge and the handwritten notes of Betsy Wolf. Sometime between the HSCA closure in 1979 and the late surfacing of those files in 1997, one volume, Vol. 5 disappeared. This beggars the question; for what possible reason? The intact files were previously given to both the SSCIA and the HSCA, so why did the CIA “not find them” until a direct, specific request from the ARRB in 1997? And then, why turn them over minus volume 5? How were the files missed during the Gates search of 1993 and the Tenet search of 1997? The two DCI orders were to search ALL CIA components.
In 1977, while overseeing the process whereby CIA OGC (Office of General Counsel) received the Office of Security Oswald files, Russ Holmes documents in his inventory all 7 OS volumes on Lee Harvey Oswald. Seven volumes in — seven volumes out. As of that accounting, all volumes were present and nothing was missing.
RELATED: Important CIA comments on HSCA draft reports: Scott Breckinridge (CIA OLC) to G. Robert Blakey DOWNLOAD
RELATED: 19 March, 1998: STATEMENT CONCERNING ACTIONS TAKEN BY THE CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY PURSUANT TO THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE JFK ASSASSINATION RECORDS COLLECTION ACT OF 1992 DOWNLOAD
RELATED: OFFICE OF SECURITY DOCUMENTS PULLED FROM OS OSWALD FILES PRIOR TO REVIEW BY CHURCH COMMITTEE DOWNLOAD
RELATED: CIA and OPENNESS: Speech by Dr. Robert M. Gates, Director of Central Intelligence, Oklahoma Press Association, 21 February, 1992 DOWNLOAD
* An eight-binder index of the Church Committee is still withheld in full. Access to that material may shed light on the issues addressed within this article.
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Our second in a series of commentaries by distinguished authors, researchers, and historians associated with the AARC:
With the October releases coming up, we should keep in mind what the ARRB has already told us we will not find.
For those of us who research the Mexico City story, it has always been very frustrating to find that there is no organized way to find the cables and dispatches between Mexico City and Headquarters, or between these two entities and JMWAVE in Miami, except within carefully circumscribed dates.
What we have run into amounts to a CIA tutorial on how to avoid providing information that is mandated under the law.
Commentary and Analysis by AARC Board member Malcolm Blunt.
2 October, 2017 © 2017 – Malcolm Blunt
The CIA Historical Collections Division (HRP) for all of it’s faults was by the agency’s standards a beacon of light as far as declassification is concerned. In 2011 I was fortunate to meet CIA Review Program staffers at NARA, College Park, MD, and at the Museum of History in Raleigh, North Carolina. At these venues they were presenting packages of historical documents and one was able ask them questions one on one. Of course, I was concerned about the 2017 releases and Miss L., a senior HRP officer, told me point blank that CIA was going to appeal to the president on many documents, adding and emphasizing, “in my opinion, some of that stuff should never be released.” Miss L. felt strongly that out of all of the intelligence agencies working to comply with the ARCA, CIA had done the most in the way of releasing previously redacted documents. I have to say that to a large extent she was correct.
In relation to the dearth of releases from ONI, DIA and NSA, CIA did a hell of a lot, and looking at CIA’s internal admin files (so called Project Files) the Historical Collections Division (HRP) was trying to work within the spirit of the ARCA. One can see they had major difficulties with other CIA components like the Directorate of Operations who were strongly against letting go of some documents.
The people I met seemed genuinely interested in declassifying more documents and recognized the historical importance of their task. In 2013 this short period of CIA openness came to an abrupt end due to Washington politicians squabbling about budget issues and threatening to shut down the government (sequestration???). At that time competing forces within CIA sensed an opportunity to neutralize this “problem child” (the HCD/HRP) by closing the division down using the excuse “for budgetary reasons.” So the one part of CIA which was actually doing a good job found itself “consolidated” within IMS (Information Management Services), the part of CIA which handles FOIA’s or should I say mishandles FOIA’s; an outfit which has successfully stonewalled many researchers over the years. So once again the agency (CIA) shoots itself in the foot; we all lost what could have developed into a much improved situation on document releases and CIA lost a real opportunity to project itself in a more positive light.
By Dan L. Hardway © October 26, 2017
On April 1, 1967, the Head of the Covert Action Staff of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) sent a dispatch to many of the CIA stations and bases around the world.[i] That the document survived may be remarkable as it is clearly marked as “Destroy when no longer needed.” Or, then again, maybe it is not remarkable that it has not been destroyed because the government and intelligence community’s efforts to silence those who question the official story about John Kennedy’s murder has never succeeded and, hence, the dispatch remains needful from their viewpoint.
The dispatch lays out a plan for defending the lone nut theory first advanced as the major theme of the government cover-up of the assassination investigation. The dispatch labels people who question the lone nut theory as “conspiracy theorists”. It plainly states the purpose of the dispatch “is to provide material for countering and discrediting the claims of the conspiracy theorists…. Our play should point out, as applicable, that the critics are (i) wedded to theories adopted before the evidence was in, (ii) politically interested, (iii) financially interested, (iv) hasty and inaccurate in their research, or (v) infatuated with their own theories.” It goes on to suggest that critics be countered by advancing arguments such as they have produced no new evidence, that they overvalue some evidence while ignoring other evidence, that large scale conspiracies are “impossible to conceal in the United States,” that Oswald would not have been any “sensible person’s choice for a co-conspirator”, and by pointing out the comprehensive work of the Warren Commission which was composed of men “chosen for their integrity, experience, and prominence.”
Many of the claims in the dispatch are ludicrous in hindsight, but are still parroted by main stream media sources. We’ve seen them trotted out by lone nut theory defenders every time there has been a major breakthrough in the assassination investigation. As I’ll discuss below, we are already seeing some of these “plays” (as the dispatch calls them) already before the JFK document release and I suspect we’ll see a lot more of them in the coming days. Let’s start by looking at the possible validity of the plays.
At this point in time, fifty-four years after the assassination and fifty-three years after the publication of the Warren Report, there are researchers, analysts, historians, attorneys and many others who have been researching this case for most of that time. Many of them do not advance “theories” about what happened, but rather try to find and analyze the facts that have been hidden for so long and ask questions about what they mean. They certainly are not wedded to theories that were adopted before the evidence was in. And let’s think about that for a moment. The cover-up of the assassination began on Air Force One as it flew back to D.C. from Dallas. The seeds are there in the released transcripts of Lyndon Johnson’s telephone calls. If the standard is waiting to see all the evidence, then the Warren Commission is totally discredited as it has now been shown beyond any reasonable argument or doubt that not only did they not have all the evidence in before issuing their report, the very investigating agencies upon whom they relied actively conspire to keep evidence from them – just as they have, and still do, actively conspired to keep the evidence from the American people. Lone nut theorists appear to be the ones wedded to the theory adopted before the evidence is in and doing all they can to spin the evidence as it comes out to try to shore up support for their theories.
To try to argue that the Warren Commission members, its supporters since, and those covering up the evidence and resisting release of documentation, were not politically or financially interested in the cover-up should be accepted as facially absurd at this point. Indeed, even in 1967, the CIA dispatch openly admits to such interest, pointing out that opinion polls showing that more than half of the public was questioning the Warren Commission’s lone nut theory reflects a “trend of opinion [that] is a matter of concern to the U.S. Government, including our organization.” Questioning the rectitude and wisdom of the members of the Warren Commission would “tend to cast doubt on the whole leadership of American society.” An “increasing tendency to hint that President Johnson himself, as the one person who might be said to have benefited”[ii] could implicate him. Such concerns “affects not only the individual concerned, but also the whole reputation of the American government.”[iii] The Chief of Covert Action then acknowledges the Agency’s own interest: “Our organization itself is directly involved: among other facts, we contributed information to the investigation.” Indeed, they also covered-up information, as they have now admitted.[iv] The Agency’s concern, one that continues to this day, is plainly stated: the conspiracy theories expose them to “suspicion on our organization, for example by falsely alleging that Lee Harvey Oswald worked for us.” The CIA’s main personal, if you will, stake in covering up and countering criticism has always been to deflect any possible focus on their relationship to the purported lone-nut assassin.
Hasty and inaccurate in their research? How many documents are about to be released that have never been seen? And who is it that is sure of their theory? What can we say now about critics who for over fifty years have called for the release of all the information so that the American people can see and judge for themselves?
Arguing that there is no new evidence is like standing in front of a camel and insisting it is a horse. New evidence has dribbled out now over the decades, in small manageable doses that can be dismissed as disconnected by the lone-nut theorists. And the blatant hubris of the argument is astounding. These are people who can suppress the evidence and taunt you because you don’t have it! It’s like prosecuting attorneys in criminal cases who refuse to reveal exculpatory evidence while simultaneously shifting the burden of proof to the accused. And as for the weighing all the evidence argument, how do you expect that to go if you control the evidence and only let the evidence out that supports your theory? Convenient. And if someone else does come up with a fact that contradicts your lone-nut theory, you can always deny it even though you know your suppressed evidence supports it. No wonder there has been such resistance by the Agency to full disclosure.
Conspiracy theories can’t be hidden in America? Really? That’s why J. Edgar Hoover was able to do all that he did to undermine American civil liberties for fifty years without exposure that wouldn’t have even come then had not there been a break-in at a small FBI field office in Media, Pennsylvania.[v] MKULTRA wasn’t as successful. It was only covered up for 25 years or so, as was the CIA programs to save and use ex-Nazi scientists and intelligence officers after the Second World War. Actually, all that needs to be said in rebuttal is that for 50 years the CIA and our government vehemently denied that there was a conspiracy to keep information from the Warren Commission. It is a prime tenet and support of the lone-nut theorists. In spite of the denials, finally, three years ago, the Agency in their internal secret magazine, in an article written by their official historian, admitted there was such a conspiracy, although they called it benign[vi]. We’ll return to this in a bit.
Next, we have a point I will concede: Oswald as a co-conspirator. I agree, he’s hardly one that a rational person might choose. But, is he one a rational person might choose as a patsy? — an entirely different question. Remember, that being a patsy was Oswald’s claim in one of the few brief encounters he had with the press. That claim would have been, presumably, a major theme developed by competent defense lawyers had he lived long enough to be tried. But the lone-nut theorists dismiss that possibility out of hand. Nothing to see here, folks, just move on. There was no investigation of this in the hasty Warren Commission investigation that led to the establishment of the lone-nut theory.
As far as the Warren Commission membership goes, I will concede their then-prominence, but I have to wonder, in light of the evidence that has come in since, about their integrity and experience as support for the integrity of their work. Allen Dulles was the head of the CIA fired by President Kennedy. His collusion with the CIA in the pendency of the Warren Commission is shown in documents that have been released in the last few years. He passed out a book to Commission members at their first meeting taking the position that American assassins are always lone-nuts. Earl Warren was coerced into serving against his will by Lyndon Johnson and the supposed threat of nuclear war. Gerald Ford was in J. Edgar Hoover’s pocket. John J. McCloy was steeped in the intelligence community and was almost single handedly responsible for the end of prosecution of Nazi war criminals and the early release of those who had already been convicted when he became the High Commissioner for post-war Germany. Richard Russell, Jr., and Hale Boggs both privately rejected the Warren Commission’s lone nut theory, as did Lyndon Johnson, Robert F. Kennedy, Jacqueline Kennedy and many, many others. But the conspiracy of silence took years to break, and when broken, the revelations came out piecemeal and were dismissed at the time as insignificant, old news – just conspiracy theorists.
And, speaking of that title, “conspiracy theorist”, is designed to be pejorative. If you can stick it to someone, then you don’t have to listen to what they say. Even if they are reporting new evidence, they’re just wacky conspiracy theorists. Just like those nuts who for years said J. Edgar Hoover was running a program to subvert dissidents illegally, or that the CIA was illegally surveilling U.S. citizens, or that the CIA had covered up information to keep it from other government entities that were investigating the Kennedy murder, right? Even if the person only reported facts and asked questions, they were (and are) labelled a “conspiracy theorist” solely for the purpose of undermining their credibility and lessening any impact they might have on public opinion. And when it comes to light that the answer to the question they raised, “is it possible there was a conspiracy?’ is, “Not only is it possible, there was indeed a conspiracy,” then even a blind bird occasionally finds a worm. And the cover-up artists say this without shame even though they have known about the conspiracy from the get-go. The next stage is to come up with a new spin such as, the cover-up was “benign”, or shifting suspicion where they want it to go. What, exactly, was covered up in other words?
As noted by Lance deHaven-Smith, a professor at Florida State University, the CIA in 1967 began a campaign to “popularize the term ‘conspiracy theory’ and make a conspiracy belief a target of ridicule and hostility.” He notes that the campaign, “must be credited, unfortunately, with being one of the most successful propaganda initiatives in all time.”[vii] He summarizes why the label has been used as a sword by those who resist the truth: “[T]he conspiracy-theory label, as it is applied in public discourse, does not disparage conspiratorial thinking or analysis in general, even though this is what the term suggests. Rather the broad-brush ‘conspiracy theory’ disparages inquiry and questioning that challengeofficial accounts of troubling political events in which public officials themselves may have had a hand. A conspiracy theory directs suspicion at officials who benefit from political crimes and tragedies. The theories are considered dangerous not because they are obviously false, but because, viewed objectively and without deference to U.S. political officials and institutions, they are often quite plausible.”[viii]
So, the first thing to remember going into the next few days is to stop when you see the label and ask, “Why is the writer of this story disparaging this idea? Who is he trying to deflect suspicion from? Why is he trying to direct my suspicion elsewhere? Can I reject the label and recover an objective view what this labeled individual has to say?” Then do your best to find out what the idea being attacked really is rather than just rejecting it out of hand because of the labelling. Remember, the term “conspiracy theory” gained prominence as a result of a CIA led propaganda initiative specifically addressed at protecting their own interests.
We see a blatant example of this dismissive labelling in CNN’s coverage of the upcoming document release. Jeremy Diamond writes, “A decision to withhold even a sliver of the documents could give conspiracy theorists more fodder to propel their claims.”[ix] So, what you are supposed to take away is that if anyone raises any questions about documents being withheld after the release date, they have to be a “conspiracy theorist” who isn’t worthy of your time or attention. Consider, what is there to hide at this point? If something is not released, why is it illegitimate to ask why, especially in view of our government’s relationship with the truth, or lack thereof, over the past six decades? What purpose is served by Mr. Diamond’s advance labelling?
The appeal to authority is also used in battling “conspiracy theories.” It is seen in the CIA dispatch’s appeal to the apparent authority of the Warren Commission created by the then-reputations of its members and the superficially extensive investigation. This technique appears again in Mr. Diamond’s article: “Historians who have closely studied the Kennedy assassination have said they do not expect the documents to … contradict the conclusion that Lee Harvey Oswald was solely responsible for killing Kennedy.”[x] Really, what historians? Why are none named? Why does he not give any consideration to people such as Dr. David R. Wrone, an emeritus professor of history at the University of Wisconsin, and Dr. John Newman, an adjunct professor of history at James Madison University, whose lifetime study of the subject has led them to the conclusion that Oswald could not have been solely responsible?[xi] I haven’t spoken to them but I would venture to guess that neither Dr. Wrone nor Dr. Newman expect the documents to support Mr. Diamond’s lone-nut theory.
Then we have Phil Shenon’s return to the fray in The Guardian this morning.[xii] Even in the title of his article, “Files will shed light on a JFK shooting conspiracy – but not the one you think”, Mr. Shenon starts to try to divert attention in the direction he wants it to go. He states plainly what he doesn’t want you to consider: first, a second assassin in Dealey Plaza even though his assertion that “most credible” evidence supports the lone-nut theory is patently not true.[xiii] Second, about a mafia plot to kill Oswald he asks “What half-way competent Mob boss would choose a delusional blabbermouth like Ruby…?” echoing the CIA dispatch’s question about what rational person would ever choose Oswald as a co-conspirator? Again, as with the CIA’s question, Shenon’s borrowed technique avoids the important questions and shuts off the possibility of objective investigation and consideration of other alternatives. It’s a form of straw-man argument, but more slanderous and pernicious – you must be crazy if you don’t accept what I say. For example, what about the possibility that Ruby was called on as an emergency stop gap measure only after an initial plan to dispose of the patsy failed? I’m not saying that is what happened, but I am asking why it should be crazy, then or now, to consider the possibility and investigate it? Third, “a sprawling coup d’état involving everyone from President Johnson” on down the chain of command. I, too, find that less credible than most. But, then again, we have to consider that the evidence is now pretty much indisputable that President Johnson led the cover-up conspiracy and that his leadership and the conspiracy to cover-up anything that didn’t support the lone nut theory began immediately after the assassination. I have to ask, “Doesn’t that raise questions in your mind that merit investigation and, if possible, answers?” Why should we accept Mr. Shenon’s belittling dismissal of any questioning or review to see what’s actually in the evidence before we dismiss it?
So, having told you what not to look for because even raising the questions can undermine proper deference to U.S. officials and institutions, he gives us the concession that we are now believed. The CIA has admitted they participated in a benign cover-up of information during the Warren Commission investigation.[xiv] Mr. Shenon acknowledges that the evidence is indisputable that both the CIA and the FBI had, at least, had Oswald under “aggressive surveillance in the months before the assassination.”[xv] Mr. Shenon then advances the spin that the CIA and FBI embarrassment over not taking action to better protect the president in Dallas in light of what they knew is the reason for the benign cover-up: “ [I]mmediately after the assassination, panicked officials at both the CIA and FBI tried, desperately, to cover up evidence of the extent of their knowledge of Oswald, fearing their bungling of the intelligence about JFK’s assassin might be exposed – and that they would be blamed for the president’s murder.” Yes sir, that certainly explains why the cover-up began immediately on Air Force One on the way back to D.C. on November 22, 1963. As ridiculous as that idea is, it’s even more ridiculous to think that this embarrassment of two agencies would lead the whole government – from the president on down — not just to cover up then, but to continue the cover-up and resist disclosure for more than fifty years of most of the documentary evidence, not to mention the massive destruction of evidence that has taken place. When an offered concession is as implausible as this, what is the questions that the concede is trying to avoid being asked? Could there have been other motivations for such a cover-up?
I am glad you asked. Remember, in the 1967 dispatch the CIA acknowledged their basis of concern and, I believe, their motivation for participating in, if not leading, the cover-up of information for all these years. Not just hiding information from the Warren Commission, but continuing to hide it and resist its disclosure even up to the present. They acknowledged that the main CIA concern was that conspiracy theories might link them to the use of Oswald in intelligence operations. This concern is still found in David Robarge’s article admitting CIA’s, or at least, Director McCone’s, participation in a conspiracy to hid information from the Warren Commission. The article talks about the anti-Castro plots and the Nosenko information that was not shared with the Commission.[xvi] This was used as an opportunity by Mr. Shenon to revive the kinda-like-maybe Castro did it theory, a theory was first raised on November 23rd in a Cuban exile publication sponsored and paid for by CIA .[xvii]
But you have to read Mr. Robarge’s article carefully. It is always wise to carefully parse CIA pronouncements to see what they are actually saying. Mr. Robarge never specifically states that the CIA was mainly concerned in suppressing Kennedy murder information in preventing information about their attempts to murder Castro getting out. Here’s what he actually says about the motivation for the cover-up: “Moreover, the DCI shared the [Johnson] administration’s interest in avoiding disclosures about covert actions that would circumstantially implicate CIA in conspiracy theories, and possibly lead to calls for a tough US response against the perpetrators of the assassination. If the commission did not know to ask about covert operations against Cuba, he was not going to give them any suggestions where to look.”[xviii] Taken in toto, the statement would draw you to infer that the Castro assassination plots were what was being covered up. But if that is the case, why has the resistance to disclosure remained so fierce even after those plots were disclosed in 1975? And earlier in the article, Robarge clearly states that electronic intercepts had, within a few days, convinced the administration and the Agency that neither the USSR nor Cuba had any complicity in the assassination.[xix] So who might the “perpetrators” be against whom “calls for a tough US response“ might be made if they already knew that neither Soviet Russia nor Cuba were complicit? Notice the specific structure of Mr. Robarge’s statement: “avoiding disclosures about covert actions that would circumstantially implicate CIA in conspiracy theories.” I submit to you that this is the same motivation that existed in 1967 as stated by the CIA Chief of Covert Action in the April 1 dispatch: “Conspiracy theories have frequently thrown suspicion on our organization, for example by falsely alleging that Lee Harvey Oswald worked for us.”[xx]
The CIA has told us what they were trying to hide. They have been trying to hide information that could implicate them as an organization participating in a conspiracy based on the fact that Oswald was not only under aggressive surveillance, but was also being utilized in some capacity by them in active intelligence operations shortly before the assassination. Those operations were directed at Cuba. The ones they didn’t want to be asked about, as Mr. Robarge states, were “covert operations against Cuba,” not covert Castro assassination plans. Please note in his article that Robarge is careful to specify the Castro assassination plots when he is talking about them. He is equally careful here to not reference them but, rather, more general “covert operations against Cuba.” We should be looking for information on Oswald’s involvement in those operations in this document release. They’ve told us where to look.[xxi]
[i] Dispatch, Countering Criticism of the Warren Report, from Chief of CA Staff to Chiefs of Certain Stations and Bases, April 1, 1967, RIF 104-10009-10022.
[ii] Que bono? Certainly not just Johnson, but the basic investigative question never seems to have even been raised, let alone considered, by the Warren Commission or the intelligence community in 1963-1964.
[iii] “L’Etat, c’est moi.” The Agency’s concern was well-founded. The JFK murder cover-up was the beginning of the unravelling of government credibility in the United States and led directly to the growth of the secrecy culture that subsequently allowed the Vietnam war, Watergate, Iran-Contra, Iraqi WMD’s, etc., etc., etc.
[iv] David Robarge, “DCI John McCone and the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy,” Studies in Intelligence, (Vol. 57, No. 3, 09/2013), Approved for Release and declassified, 09/29/2014, available at http://nsarchive.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB493/docs/intell_ebb_026.PDF.
[v] See, e.g., Betty Medsger, The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover’s Secret FBI, Knopf 2014.
[vi] One CIA officer is also on record calling Operation Phoenix in Vietnam that tortured and killed myriads of Vietnamese civilians “benign”.
[vii] Lance deHaven-Smith, Conspiracy Theory in America, University of Texas Press 2013, at p. 25.
[viii] Id., at 41. Emphasis added.
[ix] Jeremy Diamond, JFK Files: Trump teases release as deadline arrives, CNN, 26 Oct 2017, available at https://amp.cnn.com/cnn/2017/10/26/politics/jfk-assassination-files-classified-document-release-donald-trump/index.html.
[xi] See, e.g., David R. Wrone, Two Assassinations: Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy, Lincoln Fellowship of Wisconsin, Meeting (37th: 1980 : Madison), Alfred Whital Stern Collection of Lincolniana (Library of Congress); https://aarclibrary.org/board-of-directors/ ; John Newman, Oswald and the CIA: The Documented Truth About the Unknown Relationship Between the U.S. Government and the Alleged Killer of JFK, Skyhouse 2008; John Newman, JFK and Vietnam: Deception, Intrigue, and the Struggle for Power, 2nd Ed., CreateSpace Independent Publishing 2016; John Newman, Countdown to Darkness: The Assassination of President Kennedy Volume II, CreateSpace Independent Publishing 2017.
[xii] Philip Shenon, Files will shed light on a JFK shooting conspiracy – but not the one your think, The Guardian, 26 Oct 2017, available at https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/oct/26/john-f-kennedy-asssassination-documents-national-archives
[xiii] Most ear and eye witnesses on record from Dealey Plaza put a second shooter on the grassy knoll. Any fair analysis of the Zapruder film supports a finding of a shot from the front. The acoustics work of the HSCA showing a shooter on the knoll is also still supported by the best scientific evidence in spite of vigorous attempts to discredit it.
[xiv] Technically, the Robarge article, see note iv above, did not concede CIA participation so much as to blame the JFK appointed Director of Central Intelligence, John McCone, of participating in a benign cover-up. See, Dan Hardway, A Cruel and Shocking Misinterpretation, 2015, available at https://aarclibrary.org/a-cruel-and-shocking-misinterpretation/; Dan Hardway, Thank You, Phil Shenon, 2015, available at https://aarclibrary.org/thank-you-phil-shenon/
[xv] A more objective and careful review of CIA documentation shows that there is even more documentary evidence that the CIA was using Oswald as a witting or unwitting asset in at least one intelligence operation. See, e.g., John Newman, Oswald and the CIA: The Documented Truth About the Unknown Relationship Between the U.S. Government and the Alleged Killer of JFK, Skyhouse 2008; John Newman, Countdown to Darkness: The Assassination of President Kennedy Volume II, CreateSpace Independent Publishing 2017; JFKFacts, Exclusive: JFK investigator on how CIA stonewalled Congress, http://jfkfacts.org/hardway-declaration-cia-stonewalled-jfk-investigation/; Declaration of Dan L. Hardway, Morley v. CIA, CA # 03-02545-RJL, D.C.D.C. 11 May 2016, Docket No. 156.
[xvi] Robarge above at n. 4.
[xvii] See, Phil Shenon, Phil Shenon, “Yes, the CIA Director was Part of the JFK Assassination Cover-Up,” Politico, 10/06/2015, available at http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/10/jfk-assassination-john-mccone-warren-commission-cia-213197; Dan Hardway, Thank You, Phil Shenon, 2015, available at https://aarclibrary.org/thank-you-phil-shenon/
[xviii] Robarge, above, n. 4, at p. 9.
[xix] The National Security Agency has never released such intercepts.
[xx] Dispatch, above at n. 1.
[xxi] This article is going out quickly and will be reviewed and supplemented in the future. One supplement will address the modus operandi of CIA cover-up and obstruction of investigations. Another will deal with what we know before the present document release about possible covert operations against Cuba that may have involved Oswald.
________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Dispatch, Countering Criticism of the Warren Report, from Chief of CA Staff to Chiefs of Certain Stations and Bases, April 1, 1967, RIF 104-10009-10022.  Que bono? Certainly not just Johnson, but the basic investigative question never seems to have even been raised, let alone considered, by the Warren Commission or the intelligence community in 1963-1964.  “L’Etat, c’est moi.” The Agency’s concern was well-founded. The JFK murder cover-up was the beginning of the unravelling of government credibility in the United States and led directly to the growth of the secrecy culture that subsequently allowed the Vietnam war, Watergate, Iran-Contra, Iraqi WMD’s, etc., etc., etc.  David Robarge, “DCI John McCone and the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy,” Studies in Intelligence, (Vol. 57, No. 3, 09/2013), Approved for Release and declassified, 09/29/2014, available at http://nsarchive.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB493/docs/intell_ebb_026.PDF.  See, e.g., Betty Medsger, The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover’s Secret FBI, Knopf 2014.  One CIA officer is also on record calling Operation Phoenix in Vietnam that tortured and killed myriads of Vietnamese civilians “benign”.  Lance deHaven-Smith, Conspiracy Theory in America, University of Texas Press 2013, at p. 25.  Id., at 41. Emphasis added.  Jeremy Diamond, JFK Files: Trump teases release as deadline arrives, CNN, 26 Oct 2017, available at https://amp.cnn.com/cnn/2017/10/26/politics/jfk-assassination-files-classified-document-release-donald-trump/index.html.  Id.  See, e.g., David R. Wrone, Two Assassinations: Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy, Lincoln Fellowship of Wisconsin, Meeting (37th: 1980 : Madison), Alfred Whital Stern Collection of Lincolniana (Library of Congress); https://aarclibrary.org/board-of-directors/ ; John Newman, Oswald and the CIA: The Documented Truth About the Unknown Relationship Between the U.S. Government and the Alleged Killer of JFK, Skyhouse 2008; John Newman, JFK and Vietnam: Deception, Intrigue, and the Struggle for Power, 2nd Ed., CreateSpace Independent Publishing 2016; John Newman, Countdown to Darkness: The Assassination of President Kennedy Volume II, CreateSpace Independent Publishing 2017.  Philip Shenon, Files will shed light on a JFK shooting conspiracy – but not the one your think, The Guardian, 26 Oct 2017, available at https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/oct/26/john-f-kennedy-asssassination-documents-national-archives  Most ear and eye witnesses on record from Dealey Plaza put a second shooter on the grassy knoll. Any fair analysis of the Zapruder film supports a finding of a shot from the front. The acoustics work of the HSCA showing a shooter on the knoll is also still supported by the best scientific evidence in spite of vigorous attempts to discredit it.  Technically, the Robarge article, see note iv above, did not concede CIA participation so much as to blame the JFK appointed Director of Central Intelligence, John McCone, of participating in a benign cover-up. See, Dan Hardway, A Cruel and Shocking Misinterpretation, 2015, available at https://aarclibrary.org/a-cruel-and-shocking-misinterpretation/; Dan Hardway, Thank You, Phil Shenon, 2015, available at https://aarclibrary.org/thank-you-phil-shenon/  A more objective and careful review of CIA documentation shows that there is even more documentary evidence that the CIA was using Oswald as a witting or unwitting asset in at least one intelligence operation. See, e.g., John Newman, Oswald and the CIA: The Documented Truth About the Unknown Relationship Between the U.S. Government and the Alleged Killer of JFK, Skyhouse 2008; John Newman, Countdown to Darkness: The Assassination of President Kennedy Volume II, CreateSpace Independent Publishing 2017; JFKFacts, Exclusive: JFK investigator on how CIA stonewalled Congress, http://jfkfacts.org/hardway-declaration-cia-stonewalled-jfk-investigation/; Declaration of Dan L. Hardway, Morley v. CIA, CA # 03-02545-RJL, D.C.D.C. 11 May 2016, Docket No. 156.  Robarge above at n. 4.  See, Phil Shenon, Phil Shenon, “Yes, the CIA Director was Part of the JFK Assassination Cover-Up,” Politico, 10/06/2015, available at http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/10/jfk-assassination-john-mccone-warren-commission-cia-213197; Dan Hardway, Thank You, Phil Shenon, 2015, available at https://aarclibrary.org/thank-you-phil-shenon/  Robarge, above, n. 4, at p. 9.  The National Security Agency has never released such intercepts.  Dispatch, above at n. 1.  This article is going out quickly and will be reviewed and supplemented in the future. One supplement will address the modus operandi of CIA cover-up and obstruction of investigations. Another will deal with what we know before the present document release about possible covert operations against Cuba that may have involved Oswald.
by Dan L. Hardway © November 4, 2017
James Angleton set the strategy in 1964. “Jim would prefer to wait out the Commission,” as one CIA memo about Warren Commission inquiries put it. They are still doing that as well as running their propaganda campaign against anyone who questions the lone-nut theory, their “best truth” according to David Robarge.
I recently published an article about the delay in releasing records under the 1992 JFK Records Collections Act. In that article I explained the CIA’s play to discredit those who question their lone-nut theory best truth and suggested that their historian, David Robarge, has told us what to look for in the documents that are still being withheld. In that article I suggested we should look for information regarding covert operations against Cuba that would “circumstantially implicate CIA in conspiracy theories” – Mr. Robarge’s words. While I doubt the existence of a “smoking gun,” the circumstantial evidence we might look for in the delayed files could show a correlation between Lee Harvey Oswald’s activities in New Orleans and Mexico City in the late summer and fall of 1963 and CIA covert operations that were occurring at that time. I specifically suggest that we look to files on operations involving George Joannides, the Directorio Revolucionario Estudiantil (“DRE”) and David Phillips. These are files, or at least some of them, that are in the JFK records that were scheduled for release.
On October 26, 1992, the U.S. Congress passed S. 3006, with only one amendment and very little, if any, opposition. The Senate bill, introduced by Senator John Glenn of Ohio, was signed the same day by the President George H.W. Bush and became Public Law 102-526, (“JFK Records Act”). Among other things the JFK Records Act provided for the collection, preservation and eventual release of all records related to the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy with minimal exceptions. It mandates, in clear and unambiguous language, “[e]ach assassination record shall be publicly disclosed in full, and available in the Collection no later than the date that is 25 years after the date of enactment of this Act.” The Act allows an exemption to this explicit mandatory requirement only if the President “certifies” that the release of each withheld document “is made necessary by an identifiable harm to” either 1) military defense; 2) intelligence operations; 3) law enforcement; or 4) the conduct of foreign relations and “the identifiable harm is of such gravity that it outweighs the public interest in disclosure.”
NARA released some of the files that I have been waiting on yesterday, November 3, 2017. The Excel spreadsheet listing the released files include four files referenced to David Atlee Phillips and one file referenced to the DRE. Of the files referencing Phillips, three are of an unspecified nature and one is listed as his Office of Personnel (OP) file. The DRE file is listed as “CIA file on DRE AMSPELL operations.”
AMSPELL is a CIA cryptonym for DRE, the anti-Castro Cuban group that was run by George Joannides in 1963, that had the encounter with Oswald in New Orleans in 1963,and published the first conspiracy theory blaming Castro in their CIA financed newspaper in Miami on November 24, 1963. The file released yesterday, for such an active group, is a very thin 87 pages of which 61 are expurgated in full. Of the remaining 26 pages, many are largely expurgated. The Phillips files are even worse. The three files of unspecified type may be some of his operational files. These files are even more highly expurgated than the AMSPELL file.
Taking the 73 page long file RIF 104-10177-10135 as an example:
3 pages are a confidential notice that the file has been processed and retired which notice is reprinted in full;
3 pages are the file’s routing sheet that has been partially released with redaction of any significant information;
2 pages are a 1975 FOIA request from The Bay City Times, a newspaper in Bay City, Michigan, reproduced in full;
1 page is a Document Transfer and Cross Reference” form indicating that records of a project apparently named “Furioso C” have been removed from this file and sent to another section of the CIA with a redaction that not only removes the substantive entry but also the name of the space on the form where the entry was made;
2 pages are partially redacted memoranda;
3 pages are Security information forms for Project Furioso C with all substantive information redacted; 2 pages are a Project Financial Data form from 1952 with no substantive information that is not redacted;
6 pages are partially redacted routing sheets for documents, none of which have the routed document attached;
1 page is a partially redacted cable from 1952;
2 pages are copies, unredacted of logs of HSCA access to the file, showing that I saw the file in 1978.
The remaining 48 pages are redacted in full.
The file that is listed as David Atlee Phillips’s OP file is not as heavily redacted as the other three Phillips files although many of the documents, mainly personnel forms, it contains have been cleansed of any significant data. That, however, is not the end of the story on this file. The file starts with a few items of post-retirement correspondence to between him and the CIA in 1975 and then proceeds chronologically backwards from his retirement in 1975. I have not yet been able to go through the 358 page file to carefully study all the documents, but I have gone through it well enough to note that all his fitness reports between 1956 and 1965 are missing – not redacted, just simply not there. Indeed, so far as I have been able to find, there is no record whatsoever of a document in the file dated between 1961 and 1965 – not redacted, just simply not there.
There has been no explanation, let alone a presidential certification, that the massive redactions in these “released in full” documents meet any of the mandatory exemptions that allow withholding. No identifiable harm is specified. No rationale is given as to why the secrets protected outweigh the public interest in disclosure. These files are not in compliance with the law no matter what the main stream media says. They are an in-your-face flipped bird to the American public. They basically tell us that the CIA is saying that they don’t have to comply with the law of the land and that they will not tell us their secrets and that there is nothing we can do about it. I’ve been here before. It was in a small room in CIA Headquarters in late 1978. I had been fighting to see a file generated by the CIA debriefing of Johnny Roselli. Scott Breckinridge and George Joannides had just handed me a highly redacted file that violated the HSCA/CIA Memorandum of Understanding mandating unexpurgated access by HSCA to CIA files. They stood by, grinning, as they watched my reaction upon opening the file to find it largely expurgated. They were grinning so hard because they knew they had waited out the HSCA and there was nothing I could do about it. The Angleton strategy still worked. It is still working today.
This release not only demonstrates that the Angleton strategy is still being applied. It also illustrates the point I have been making about what they are covering up. There may well be nothing we can do about it. It appears our lawmakers are spineless in the face of the intelligence community. Joseph Burkholder Smith, a retired CIA officer, told me and Gaeton Fonzi in 1978, “You represent Congress. What the f*** is that to the CIA? You’ll be gone in two years and the CIA will still be there.” To paraphrase that to fit the situation in which we now find ourselves: “You are the people that Congress supposedly represents. What’s that to the CIA? You’ll forget about it in a few weeks or so.”
But I won’t. I wrote a letter to my Senator yesterday before I saw the travesty that was the day’s release of JFK documents by NARA. Probably a futile gesture, but one I had to take anyway. Here’s what I told him:
“Please allow me first to introduce myself a bit. While I am your constituent, I do not believe we have ever met. I was born and raised in Webster County, West Virginia, and still reside on the farm my grandfather purchased in the 1940’s outside of Cowen. I am a graduate of WVU – 1976 – and while there got to know some of the members of your family. I had the privilege of running your first cousin Tim Manchin’s campaign for a seat on the WVU student government Board in the mid-70’s. I am a 1980 graduate of Cornell Law School and a former law clerk for Justice Tom McHugh of the West Virginia Supreme Court. I took a year and a half leave of absence from law school to work as a researcher for the U.S. House of Representatives Select Committee on Assassinations in 1977-1978. My primary area of responsibility in the Committee’s work was to investigate the Central Intelligence Agency and Lee Harvey Oswald in Mexico City. Most of the work I produced for the Committee remains classified. I am presently registered to vote in Webster County with an Independent affiliation.
I am aware that the Republicans in this state are trying to mount a serious challenge to you in the upcoming election and I am presently considering whether to become involved in the campaign and, if I do, who I am going to support. In that regard, and in view of your position on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, your position on an issue that is very important to me will influence whether I decide to actively support you in the upcoming election. That issue is the release – or I should say, the failure to release – the records currently held in the JFK Records Collection by the National Archives and Records Administration. While the records, and access to them, is of great interest to me, the real issues raised by the failure to release them are much more fundamental than just access to the assassination records. It is these fundamental issues that I want to explain and upon which I wish to hear your opinion.
On October 26, 1992, the U.S. Congress passed S. 3006, with only one amendment and very little, if any, opposition. The Senate bill introduced by Senator John Glenn of Ohio was signed the same day by the President George H.W. Bush and became Public Law 102-526 which is codified at 44 U.S.C. § 2107 note (“JFK Records Act”). Among other things the JFK Records Act provided for the collection, preservation and eventual release of all records related to the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy with minimal exceptions. Among its other provision, the JFK Records Act, at § 5(g)(2)(D), mandates in clear and unambiguous language “[e]ach assassination record shall be publicly disclosed in full, and available in the Collection no later than the date that is 25 years after the date of enactment of this Act.” The Act allows an exemption to this explicit mandatory requirement only if the President “certifies” that the release of each withheld document “is made necessary by an identifiable harm to” either 1) military defense; 2) intelligence operations; 3) law enforcement; or 4) the conduct of foreign relations and “the identifiable harm is of such gravity that it outweighs the public interest in disclosure.” [Emphasis added.]
I note that this is a law duly enacted and adopted by the democratic processes of this country in 1992 – a country where we supposedly pride ourselves on being a nation of laws, a nation where the law applies to each and to all regardless of status or position. On October 26, 2017, as I am sure you are aware, President Donald Trump, at the request of the Central Intelligence Agency and other intelligence community members, disregarded the clear provisions of the law and postponed release of ninety percent of the remaining withheld documents in the JFK Records Collection for an additional six months. In doing this, the President made no findings, issued no orders and certified nothing, merely issuing a statement through the press office saying that all documents will be released “with redactions only in the rarest of circumstances” by April 26, 2018.
The President’s action was not only without authority in law, it was also taken in patent violation of the clear, unambiguous and mandatory terms of a law that your institution passed. In this situation, I would be tempted to file a suit against the President if it were not for the facts that: 1) the Courts have already held that the JFK Records Act does not provide a basis for any private cause of action for U.S. citizens, Assassination Archives and Research Center v. Dep’t. of Justice, 43 F.3d 1542, 1544 (D.C. Cir. 1995); 2) Federal Court litigation is too expensive to allow access to a normal citizen trying to hold his government accountable; and 3) it would take more than six months to get a case through to a decision in Federal Court so the action would represent no type of check or correction to the problem.
The real problem that this presents is that it is showing to the nation that the intelligence agencies of our nation are not subject to the laws of the nation. They are effectively above the law. At their request, or pressure, the President of the United States will violate the clear mandates of enacted legislation. And, to date, the reaction of our elected representatives in Congress seems to reinforce the fact that no one is willing to stand up to such blatant disregard of the clear provisions of the duly enacted laws of the nation. I understand that it is the executive branch that is charged with the enforcement of the laws your branch enacts and, in this case, it is the executive branch that is violating the law so there can be little realistic expectation of enforcement from them. But this is the heart of the problem and why it is incumbent upon the Congress to act. At a minimum, there should be oversight hearings. At a minimum, the Congress should not be seen to willingly acquiesce in executive contempt for the Legislative branch of government and the law of the land.
This action on the part of the intelligence community, the National Archives, and the Executive is only the latest in a long string of actions that disregard the provisions of the JFK Records Act that also subvert and cover up the information related to the assassination of our 35th president. Those other actions are beyond the present scope of this letter, but are things about which I would be glad to speak with you if you have any interest, so I will not go into them here.
To my knowledge there has been no coverage or explanation of why the intelligence community has requested this delay of the President. It was made in secret. What reason have they given for the delay? What kind of pressure have they brought to bear? How can they force a president to so blatantly disregard the law? If they can do this in regard to disclosure of fifty-year-old records, in what else can they exercise a like secret influence that corrupts the laws of the nation? What affect does the existence and use of such secret power have on our democracy? If these things – not just the documents but the method of influence – remain always secret, then how can a citizenry be sufficiently informed so as to exercise their franchise to any real purpose? How can we have faith in our democracy, let alone our government, if this kind of practice is allowed to continue unchallenged? These are the questions that I would like to have answered. But, to make it easier for you, I note you are in a unique position in regard to these issues due to your membership on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Are you at least going to call and press for public hearings on any of these issues? Or are you going to join the vast majority of our representatives and once again cower before the intelligence agencies? Will you stand up for your constituents’ right to participate in their government on an informed basis? Will you stand for holding our government to a standard of open honesty before its citizens and against allowing the real affairs of state to be conducted in secret and in disregard of the laws enacted by the peoples’ representatives?
I anxiously await your answer.”
The questions I asked Joe Manchin in that letter are even more pressing today. I don’t know if he’ll even answer, let alone do anything. Maybe like Chuck Grassley, he’ll send out an apparently frustrated tweet. Or maybe, like the main stream press, he’ll tout the release of the documents, hoping no one will look to see what a travesty the “release” is because of the massive redactions. At this point all I can do is try to tell the truth about this whole state of affairs. I also encourage you to not take this insult to your intelligence and ability to govern yourselves without reaction. Do something. If nothing else, circulate this article to everyone you know. Refuse to accept the cancer of secrecy that destroys our liberty and ability to govern ourselves. Get involved. Get informed. Stay informed. Read and follow http://2017jfk.org/home/ and http://jfkfacts.org/. Join the AARC at https://aarclibrary.org/aarc-membership/. Join CAPA at http://capa-us.org/membership/. If those who exercise the power in this country have such blatant contempt for the law, then the time for serious peaceful civil disobedience may be upon us. Get the word out. Don’t be silent any longer. This is not an issue of the left or the right. Do something. Say something. And don’t stop until you are heard.
. Raymond Rocca to Richard Helms, Memo Re Response to Rankin, 5 Mar 1964, NARA Record No. 1993.06.24.14:59:13:840170, available at https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=98075#relPageId=1&tab=page
. David Robarge, “DCI John McCone and the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy,” Studies in Intelligence, (Vol. 57, No. 3, 09/2013), Approved for Release and declassified, 09/29/2014, at page 20. Available at http://nsarchive.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB493/docs/intell_ebb_026.PDF. Robarge wrote: “The DCI was complicit in keeping incendiary and diversionary issues off the commission’s agenda and focusing it on what the Agency believed at the time was the ‘best truth’: that Lee Harvey Oswald, for as yet undetermined motives, had acted alone in killing John Kennedy.” For my commentary on the CIA’s “best truth”, see Thank You, Phil Shenon available at https://realhillbillyviews.blogspot.com/2015/10/. Note that the “best truth” was conditioned by “at the time” leaving open the real possibility that alternative cover stories may have to be brought to play in the event that time undermined what the Agency considered to be the best truth for them.
. Dan Hardway, What Were They Hiding and What Should We Look For, 30 Oct 2017, available at https://realhillbillyviews.blogspot.com/2017/10/what-were-they-hiding-and-what-should_30.html
. Robarge, n. 2 above, at p. 9.
. This is addressed in more detail at JFKFacts, Exclusive: JFK investigator on how CIA stonewalled Congress, http://jfkfacts.org/hardway–declaration–cia–stonewalled–jfkinvestigation/; Declaration of Dan L. Hardway, Morley v. CIA, CA # 03-02545-RJL, D.C.D.C. 11 May 2016, Docket No. 156.
. 44 U.S.C. § 2107 note § 5(g)(2)(D). Emphasis added.
. https://www.archives.gov/research/jfk/2017-release, RIF Nos. 104-10176-10121, 104-10177-10135, 104-10177-10134, 104-10194-10026, and 104-10170-10121.
Between August 2010 and January 2015 Bill Simpich produced 12 articles on the JFK case which became the backstory to his invaluable work, STATE SECRET: WIRETAPPING IN MEXICO CITY, DOUBLE AGENTS, AND THE FRAMING OF LEE OSWALD. Following are all twelve of his original chapters. An upcoming epilogue will be published this year.
By Bill Simpich, Reader Supported News, 05 June 18
“The key question is to pass beyond the facts of CIA’s operations to the reasons they were established – which inexorably will lead to economic questions:
Preservation of property relations and other institutions on which rest the interests of our own wealthy and privileged minority.
— Phillip Agee, CIA Officer
t was 1968.
Bobby Kennedy was running for President.
He offered the opportunity to redeem the terrible slaying of his brother.
Bobby blamed himself for Jack’s death. If it hadn’t have been for the machinations around Cuba, Jack might have still been President.
Bobby was in the middle of those machinations. He had been giving advice to the CIA on how to do its job in Latin America and elsewhere. Many Agency officers did not appreciate his efforts, and said so.
He had his own ideas on how to overthrow Castro – while ordering the Agency to stop working with the Mafia to assassinate the Cuban leader.
He had his own ruthless side. Historian Evan Thomas has described how Bobby considered manufacturing an incident to justify an American invasion in the midst of the Cuban missile crisis.
He also supported his brother when Jack changed tactics and tried to reach rapproachement with Fidel in the summer and autumn of 1963.
In the days after Jack’s death, both Bobby and Jackie Kennedy reached out to the Russians and told them that they believed that JFK had been killed due to a domestic operation.
LBJ didn’t want any part of Cuba after what happened to JFK. He turned to Vietnam.
The escalation of civil rights struggles in the midst of a war economy resulted in a social explosion. LBJ was forced to step down. Bobby found himself being forced to step up.
The question of “who had what” and “who had how much” was on the table.
The Black Panthers were seen doing security at his big city rallies.
He traveled to the Mississippi Delta to learn more about poverty.
Cesar Chavez and Bobby stood together in the Central Valley fields.
Working-class white people embraced RFK as one of their own. He was Irish. His father was a bootlegger.
Religious leaders welcomed him. He was a devout Catholic, fiercely ecumenical.
He was determined to bring an end to the Vietnam War.
In a divisive time, a terrible time, he offered the possibility of healing.
“…there are different ways of thinking of Oswald as an asset.”
A timely reminder from our ultimate scholar: Following is a 5 minute audio excerpt from Alan Dale’s telephone conversation with Professor Scott recorded December 2017:
The AARC is currently seeking the full and unredacted release of the following report which helped to establish the foundation for subsequent abuses of power and intervention through often illegal covert actions by U.S. intelligence agencies throughout the Cold War and beyond. This official report opened the door for “hitherto acceptable norms of human conduct…” such as not engaging in political assassinations, to be accepted as no longer applicable to the United States of America in its opposition to international communism.
Hitherto acceptable norms of human conduct do not apply.
The Report on the Covert Activities of the Central Intelligence Agency, also referred to as The Hoover Report and, more commonly, The Doolittle Report, is a 69-page formerly classified comprehensive study on the personnel, security, adequacy, and efficacy of the Central Intelligence Agency written by Lieutenant General James H. Doolittle. United States President Dwight Eisenhower requested the report in July 1954 at the height of the Cold War and following coups in Iran and Guatemala. The report compares with other contemporary Cold War documents such as George Kennan‘s “X” article in Foreign Affairs, which recommended a policy of “containment” rather than direct confrontation with the Soviet Union, and NSC-68, the secret policy document produced in 1950, which recommended a similarly restrained policy of “gradual coercion.” Doolittle wrote with an abandon-all-principles approach that conveyed the national fear that the United States faced the prospect of annihilation at the hands of the Soviet Union: “It is now clear that we are facing an implacable enemy whose avowed objective is world domination by whatever means and at whatever cost,” Doolittle wrote. “There are no rules in such a game… If the United States is to survive, long standing concepts of ‘fair play’ must be reconsidered.”
At the time the report was commissioned the role of the CIA, formed in 1947, was still not clear. President Harry Truman viewed the CIA as an intelligence gathering organization that should have limited power and that should not be used to overthrow foreign governments. President Eisenhower’s global security strategy relied on nuclear deterrence and the overthrow of foreign governments by covert means with the goal of saving the lives of soldiers and maintaining international stability by supporting governments favorable to the US. He had seen the power of intelligence in his role as Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe. Code breaking and other covert projects had been crucial to the Allied war effort.
It is hard to overstate the fear of the spread of communism that was present in the early Cold War period. The Czechoslovakian “constitutional coup” of 1948 sparked fears that any communist presence in government or civic society posed an imminent threat. In Czechoslovakia, the communist party had not been able to secure many government positions, but leveraged a position inside the cabinet to stage a legal coup and install a communist regime. The Berlin Blockade of 1948-1949 reinforced the Soviet threat as both a credible and imminent threat unlike any the United States had faced before. Mao Zedong took control of China in 1949. An armistice was agreed to in the Korean War in 1953, which heightened fears that America was willing to compromise with communists. In August 1953, the Soviet Union exploded a hydrogen bomb. These events severely jolted American confidence and led Eisenhower to commission a report on how the CIA should respond.
Doolittle was a heroic figure as a result of the air raid he led on the Japanese home islands after the attack on Pearl Harbor. He was awarded a Medal of Honor for his service. After the war, Doolittle returned to civilian life. He served as Vice President of Shell Oil, and worked with a variety of government commissions. Doolittle’s honorable service record and wide range of experience beyond simple operations were notable factors that led Dwight Eisenhower to entrust him with the report.
Eisenhower often brought in outsiders to assess government projects and agencies. One similar case was the Committee on International Information Activities. This group, known as the Jackson Committee for its chairman William Harding Jackson, an attorney and investment banker, recommended a stronger commitment to propaganda and psychological warfare. Similarly, the Gaither Report, produced by a committee led by Horace Rowan Gaither, urged stronger civil defense in preparation for a possible nuclear attack.
Eisenhower sought an outside opinion on the CIA for various reasons. In 1954, several US Senators were rallying to create a committee that would oversee the CIA and keep Congress informed about the CIA’s projects. If any reforms to the CIA were necessary, however, Eisenhower wanted to execute them in secret. Further, he was waiting for the results of an “overall appraisal” of US intelligence as part of the Second Hoover Commission’s study of the executive branch from his close friend General Mark Clark. Then, in May 1954, Eisenhower received a letter from longtime CIA operative Jim Kellis that complained about the supposed incompetency of the CIA and the many faults of its Director of Central Intelligence, Allen Dulles. Although Eisenhower and Dulles shared many views on security, Eisenhower wanted an independent review. In July 1954 he commissioned Doolittle to write a report assessing the CIA.
The Doolittle Report advocated policies not usually associated with democratic countries. The tense security fears of the Cold War were reflected on a domestic level, exemplified by McCarthyism. Americans were seized by a fear of communism. Doolittle echoed this sentiment in his report: “We must develop effective espionage and counterespionage services and must learn to subvert, sabotage and destroy our enemies by more clever, more sophisticated and more effective methods than those used against us. It may become necessary that the American people be acquainted with, understand and support this fundamentally repugnant philosophy.” This mindset is present throughout Doolittle’s general observations about the CIA’s role and its impact on American society. He also produced specific recommendations for changes in the CIA.
DOWNLOAD THE DOOLITTLE REPORT HERE.
Read more HERE.
William Shirer closed his 1960 masterpiece, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, with the judgment that the Nazi regime “had passed into history,”1 but we cannot be so confident today. On the contrary, the evidence as of 1990 is that World War II did not end as Shirer believed it did, that Nazism did not surrender unconditionally and disappear, that indeed it finessed a limited but crucial victory over the Allies, a victory no less significant for having been kept a secret from all but the few Americans who were directly involved.
The Odessa and its Mission
Hitler continued to rant of victory, but after Germany’s massive defeat in the battle of Stalingrad in mid-January 1943, the realists of the German General Staff (OKW) were all agreed that their game was lost. Defeat at Stalingrad meant, at a minimum, that Germany could not win the war in the East that year. This in turn means that the Nazis would have to keep the great preponderance of their military forces tied down on the eastern front and could not redeploy them to the West, where the Anglo-American invasion of Italy would occur that summer. Apparently inspired by the Soviet victory, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill announced at Casablanca, on January 24, 1943, their demand for Germany’s unconditional surrender and the complete de-Nazification of Europe. 2
Within the German general staff two competing groups formed around the question of what to do: one led by Heinrich Himmler the other by Martin Bormann.3 Himmler was chief of the SS (Schutzstaffel, “protective echelon”), the blackshirted core of the Nazi party that emerged as Hitler’s bodyguard in the late 1920s and grew into the most powerful of the Nazi political institutions. After the failure of the attempted military coup of July 20, 1944, which wounded but did not kill Hitler, the SS seized all power and imposed a furious blood purge of the armed services in which some seven thousand were arrested and nearly five thousand executed. 4 The SS was at that point the only organ of the Nazi state.
Himmler’s plan for dealing with the grim situation facing Nazism found its premise in Hitler’s belief that the alliance between “the ultra-capitalists” of the U.S. and “the ultra- Marxists” of the Soviet Union was politically unstable. “Even now they are at loggerheads,” said Hitler. “If we can now deliver a few more blows, this artificially bolstered common front may suddenly collapse with a gigantic clap of thunder.”5 Himmler believed that this collapse would occur and that the U.S. would then consider the formation of a new anti-soviet alliance with Nazi Germany. The Nazis would then negotiate “a separate peace” with the United States, separate from any peace with the USSR, with which Germany would remain at war, now joined against the Soviets by the United States.
But Martin Bormann, who was even more powerful than Himmler, did not accept the premise of the separate-peace idea. Bormann was an intimate of Hitler’s, the deputy fuhrer and the head of the Nazi Party, thus superior to Himmler in rank. Bormann wielded additional power as Hitler’s link to the industrial and financial cartels that ran the Nazi economy and was particularly close to Hermann Schmitz, chief executive of I.G. Farben, the giant chemical firm that was Nazi Germany’s greatest industrial power.
With the support of Schmitz, Bormann rejected Himmler’s separate-peace strategy on the ground that it was far too optioptimistic.6 The Allied military advantage was too great, Bormann believed, for Roosevelt to be talked into a separate peace. Roosevelt, after all, had taken the lead in proclaiming the Allies’ demand for Germany’s unconditional surrender and total de-Nazification. Bormann reasoned, rather, that the Nazi’s best hope of surviving military defeat lay within their own resources, chief of which was the cohesion of tens of thousands of SS men for whom the prospect of surrender could offer only the gallows.
Bormann and Schmitz developed a more aggressive self-contained approach to the problem of the looming military defeat, the central concept of which was that large numbers of Nazis would have to leave Europe and at least for a time, find places in the world in which to recover their strength. There were several possibilities in Latin America, most notably Argentina and Paraguay; South Africa, Egypt, and Indonesia were also attractive rear areas in which to retreat.7
After the German defeat in the battle of Normandy in June 1944, Bormann took the First external steps toward implementing concrete plans for the Nazis’ great escape. An enormous amount of Nazi treasure had to be moved out of Europe and made safe. This treasure was apparently divided into several caches, of which the one at the Reichsbank in Berlin included almost three tons of gold (much of it the so-called tooth- gold from the slaughter camps) as well as silver, platinum, tens of thousands of carats of precious stones, and perhaps a billion dollars in various currencies. 8
There were industrial assets to be expatriated, including large tonnages of specialty steel and certain industrial machinery as well as blue-prints critical to the domination of certain areas of manufacturing. Key Nazi companies needed to be relicensed outside Germany in order to escape the reach of war-reparations claims. And tens of thousands of Nazi war criminals, almost all of them members of the SS, needed help to escape Germany and safely regroup in foreign colonies capable of providing security and livelihoods.
For help with the first three of these tasks, Bormann convened a secret meeting of key German industrialists on August 10, 1944, at the Hotel Maison Rouge in Strasbourg. 9 One part of the minutes of this meeting states:
The [Nazi] Party is ready to supply large amounts of money to those industrialists who contribute to the post-war organization abroad. In return, the Party demands all financial reserves which have already been transferred abroad or may later be transferred, so that after the defeat a strong new Reich can be built.10
The Nazi expert in this area was Hitler’s one-time financial genius and Minister of the Economy, Dr. Hjalmar Horace Greeley Schacht, available to Bormann even though he was in prison on suspicion of involvement in the anti-Hitler coup of 1944. According to a U.S. Treasury Department report of 1945, at least 750 enterprises financed by the Nazi Party had been set up outside Germany by the end of the war. These firms were capable of generating an annual income of approximately $30 million, all of it available to Nazi causes. 11 It was Schacht’s ability to finesse the legalities of licensing and ownership that brought this situation about. 12
Organizing the physical removal of the Nazis’ material assets and the escape of SS personnel were the tasks of the hulking Otto Skorzeny, simultaneously an officer of the SS, the Gestapo and the Waffen SS as well as Hitler’s “favorite commando. “13 Skorzeny worked closely with Bormann and Schacht in transporting the Nazi assets to safety outside Europe and in creating a network of SS escape routes (“rat lines”) that led from all over Germany to the Bavarian city of Memmingen, then to Rome, then by sea to a number of Nazi retreat colonies set up in the global south.
The international organization created to accommodate Bormann’s plans is most often called “The Odessa,” a German acronym for “Organization of Veterans of the SS.” It has remained active as a shadowy presence since the war and may indeed constitute Nazism’s most notable organizational achievement. But we must understand that none of Bormann’s, Skorzeny’s, and Schacht’s well-laid plans would have stood the least chance of success had it not been for a final component of their organization, one not usually associated with the Odessa at all but very possibly the linchpin of the entire project.
This final element of the Odessa was the so-called Gehlen Organization (the Org), the Nazi intelligence system that sold itself to the U.S. at the end of the war. It was by far the most audacious, most critical, and most essential part of the entire Odessa undertaking. The literature on the Odessa and that on the Gehlen Organization, however, are two different things. No writer in the field Of Nazi studies has yet explicitly associated the two, despite the fact that General Reinhard Gehlen was tied politically as well as personally with Skorzeny and Schacht. Moreover, Gehlen’s fabled post-war organization was in large part staffed by SS Nazis who are positively identified with the Odessa, men such as the infamous Franz Alfred Six and Emil Augsburg of the Wannsee Institute. An even more compelling reason for associating Gehlen with the Odessa is that, without his organization as a screen, the various Odessa projects would have been directly exposed to American intelligence. If the Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC) and the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) had not been neutralized by the Gehlen ploy, the Odessa’s great escape scheme would have been discovered and broken up.
At 43, Brigadier General Reinhard Gehlen was a stiff, unprepossessing man of pounds when he presented himself for surrender at the U.S. command center in Fischhausen.
But there was nothing small about his ego. “I am head of the section Foreign Armies East in German Army Headquarters,” he announced to the Gl at the desk. “I have information to give of the highest importance to your government.” The Gl was not impressed, however, and Gehien spent weeks stewing in a POW compound before an evident Soviet eagerness to find him finally aroused the Americans’ attention. 14
Gehlen became chief of the Third Reich’s Foreign Armies East (FHO), on April 1, 1942. He was thus responsible for Germany’s military intelligence operations throughout Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. His FHO was connected in this role with a number of secret fascist organizations in the countries to Germany’s east. These included Stepan Bandera’s “B Faction” of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN/B),15 Romania’s Iron Guard, 16 the Ustachis of Yugoslavia, 17 the Vanagis of Latvia18 and, after the summer of 1942, “Vlassov’s Army, “19 the band of defectors from Soviet Communism marching behind former Red hero General Andrey Vlassov. Later on in the war, Gehien placed one of his top men in control of Foreign Armies West, which broadened his power; and then after Admiral Wilhelm Canaris was purged and his Abwehr intelligence service cannibalized by the SS, Gehien became in effect Nazi Germany’s over-all top intelligence chief.
The Great Escape
In December 1943, at the latest, Gehlen reached the same conclusion about the war that had come upon Bormann, Schacht, Skorzeny, and Himmler. Germany was losing and could do nothing about it. Several months later, Gehlen says, he began quietly discussing the impending loss with a few close associates. As he writes in his memoir: “Early in October 1944 I told my more intimate colleagues that I considered the war was lost and we must begin thinking of the future. We had to think ahead and plan for the approaching catastrophe. “21
Gehlen’s strategic response to Gotterdammerung was a kind of fusion of Himmler’s philosophy with Bormann’s more pessimistic Odessa line: “My view,” he writes, “was that there would be a place even for Germany in a Europe rearmed for defense against Communism. Therefore we must set our sights on the Western powers, and give ourselves two objectives: to help defend against Communist expansion and to recover and reunify Germany’s lost territories. “22
Just as Bormann, Skorzeny, and Schacht were beginning to execute their escape plans, so too was Gehien: “Setting his sights on the Western powers,” and in particular on the United States. Gehien pursued the following strategic rationale: When the alliance between the United States and the USSR collapsed, as it was bound to do upon Germany’s defeat, the United States would discover a piercing need for a top-quality intelligence service in Eastern Europe and inside the Soviet Union. It did not have such a service of its own, and the pressures of erupting East-West conflict would not give it time to develop one from scratch. Let the United States therefore leave the assets assembled by Gehien and the FHO intact. Let the United States not break up Gehlen’s relationship with East European fascist groups. Let the United States pick up Gehlen’s organization and put it to work for the West, the better to prevail in its coming struggle against a Soviet Union soon to become its ex-ally.
Gehlen brought his top staff people into the planning for this amazing proposal. Together, during the last months of the war, while Hitler was first raging at Gehlen for his “defeatist” intelligence reports, then promoting him to the rank of brigadier general, then at last firing him altogether (but promoting into the FHO directorship one of Gehlen’s co-conspirators), Gehlen and his staff carefully prepared their huge files on East Europe and the Soviet Union and moved them south into the Bavarian Alps and buried them. At the same time, Gehlen began building the ranks of the FHO intelligence agents. The FHO in fact was the only organization in the whole of the Third Reich that was actually recruiting new members as the war was winding down. 23
SS men who knew they would be in trouble when the Allied forces arrived now came flocking to the FHO, knowing that it was the most secure place for them to be when the war finally ended. 24 When Gehlen’s plans were complete and his preparations all concluded, he divided his top staff into three separate groups and moved them (as Skorzeny was doing at the same time) into prearranged positions in Bavaria. Gehlen himself was in place before the German surrender on May 7, hiding comfortably in a well-stocked chalet in a mountain lea called Misery Meadow. Besides Gehlen, there were eight others in the Misery Meadow group, including two wounded men and three young women. For three weeks, maintaining radio contact with the two other groups, Gehlen and his colleagues stayed on the mountain, waiting for the American army to appear in the valley far below.
“These days of living in the arms of nature were truly enchanting,” he wrote. “We had grown accustomed to the peace, and our ears were attuned to nature’s every sound. “25
Destruction of the OSS
Gehlen was still communing with nature when William Donovan, chief of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), arrived in Nuremberg from Washington, dispatched by the new president to assist Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson. Harry S. Truman had made Jackson the United States’s chief prosecutor with the International Military Tribunal (IMT), established to try the Nazis’ principal military leaders. Donovan’s OSS was to function as an investigative arm of the IMT.
By the last half of the war if not before, President Roosevelt and Donovan were convinced that the U.S. needed a permanent intelligence service and that this service, like the OSS, should be civilian rather than military. They were convinced too that the OSS should be its foundation. On October 31, 1944, Roosevelt directed Donovan to prepare a memo on how such a service should be organized. 26
Donovan consulted on this assignment with his colleague Allen Dulles, a force unto himself as wartime chief of OSS operations in Bern. Dulles advised Donovan to placate the military by proposing that the new agency be placed automatically under military command in time of war.27 Donovan’s proposal incorporated this idea, 28 but only in order to state all the more strongly the case for civilian control and for making the OSS the basis of the new organization. As he wrote in his memo to Roosevelt of November 18, 1944, “There are common-sense reasons why you may desire to lay the keel of the ship at once…. We now have [in the OSS] the trained and specialized personnel needed for such a task, and this talent should not be dispersed. “29
Donovan proposed establishment of a civilian intelligence service responsible directly to the President and the Secretary of State, the chief mission of which would be to support the President in foreign policy. Except for the civilian Secretaries of War and the Navy, Donovan’s plan did not even include a place for military representation on the advisory board, and he was careful to specify that the advisory board would merely advise and not control. The new service was to be all-powerful in its field, being responsible for “coordination of the functions of all intelligence agencies of the Government.” The Donovan intelligence service, in other words, would directly and explicitly dominate the Army’s G-2 and the Navy’s ONI. 30.
Naturally, therefore, the Donovan plan drew an intense attack from the military. One G-2 officer called it “cumbersome and possibly dangerous. “31 Another referred to the OSS as “a bunch of faggots. “32 Nor was the FBI’s J. Edgar Hoover silent. Hoover had fought creation of the OSS perhaps more bitterly than the military and had insisted throughout the war on maintaining an FBI intelligence network in Latin America despite the fact that this was supposed to be OSS turf. 33
Certain elements within Army intelligence were not only opposed to Donovan’s plan but were also beginning to formulate their own notions of what a post-war intelligence system should be like. Roosevelt sent the Joint Chiefs of Staff ultra-secret copies of Donovan’s proposal along with Roosevelt’s own draft executive order to implement it. On January 1, 1945, the Chiefs formally reported to Roosevelt their extreme dissatisfaction with this scheme and leaked Donovan’s memo to four right-wing newspapers, which leapt to the attack with blaring headlines accusing FDR and Donovan of conspiring to create “a super Gestapo.” This attack put the Donovan plan on hold, and the death of FDR on April 12, 1945 destroyed it. 34
In early May 1945, president for less than a month, Truman made the OSS the American component of the investigative arm of the IMT. It is one of the fascinating conjunctions of this story that Donovan should have left for Nuremberg just as Gehlen was coming down from his mountain. It is one of its riper ironies that Donovan would soon resign from Jackson’s staff in a disagreement over trying German officers as war criminals, which Donovan objected to but Jackson and Truman supported. 35
Had Donovan lent his energies to the trial of Nazis within the German officer corps, he might have confronted the very adversaries who would shortly take his place in the American intelligence system, not only militarizing it, but Nazifying it as well.
Gehlen Makes his Move
Gehlen had been on the mountain for exactly three weeks and the war had been over for almost two weeks when he decided on May 19 that it was time to make contact. He left the three women and the two wounded men at Misery Meadow and with his four aides began the decent to the valley town of Fischhausen on Lake Schliersee.
On the same day Soviet commissioners far to the north at Flensburg demanded that the United States hand over Gehlen as well as his files on the USSR. This was the first the U.S. command had heard of Gehlen. 36 Gehlen and company took their time, staying three days with the parents of one of his aides and communicating by radio with those who had remained at Misery Meadow.
On May 22, Gehlen at last decided the moment was right. He and his aides marched into the Army command center and represented themselves to the desk officer, a Captain John Schwarzwalder, to whom Gehlen spoke his prepared speech:
“I am head of the Section Foreign Armies East in German Army headquarters. I have information to give of the highest importance to your government.”
Schwarzwalder had Gehlen and his group jeeped to Miesbach where there was a[n] OSS detachment. There Gehlen once again gave his speech, this time to a Captain Marian Porter: “I have information of the greatest importance for your supreme commander.”
Porter replied, “So have they all,” and shunted him and his cohorts off to the prison camp at Salzburg. Gehlen’s disappointment at this reception was keen and his biographers all say he never forgot it, “lapsing,” as one puts it, “into near despair” as he “presented the strange paradox of a spy-master thirsting for recognition by his captors. “37
Recognition was inevitable, however, since the CIC was trying to find him. By mid June at the latest, his name was recognized by a G-2 officer, Colonel William H. Quinn, who had Gehlen brought to Augsburg for his first serious interrogation. Quinn was the first American to whom Gehlen presented his proposal and told of his staff dispersed at several camps in the mountains as well as the precious buried archives of the FHO.
Unlike Captain Porter, Colonel Quinn was impressed. He promptly passed Gehlen up the command chain to General Edwin L. Sibert. Sibert later recalled, “I had a most excellent impression of him at once.” Gehlen immediately began educating him as to the actual aims of the Soviet Union and its display of military might.” As Sibert told a journalist years later, “With her present armed forces potential, he [Gehlen] continued, Russia could risk war with the West and the aim of such a war would be the occupation of West Germany.”38
Acting without orders, Sibert listened to Gehlen for several days before informing Eisenhower’s chief of staff, General Walter Bedell Smith. 39 Smith and Sibert then continued to develop their relationship with Gehlen secretly, choosing not to burden Eisenhower with knowledge of what they were doing “in order not to compromise him in his relations with the Soviets. “40
Eisenhower in fact had strictly forbidden U.S. fraternization with Germans. Gehlen was encouraged to resume contact with his FHO comrades who were still at large in Bavaria, releasing them from their vow of silence. Gehlen was sufficiently confident of his American relationships by this time that he dug up his buried files and, in special camps, put his FHO experts to work preparing detailed reports on the Red Army for his American captors.
Well before the end of June he and his comrades were “discharged from prisoner of war status so that we could move around at will. “42 They were encouraged to form a unit termed a “general staff cell” first within G-2’s Historical Research Section, then later in the Seventh Army’s Intelligence Center in Wiesbaden, where they worked in private quarters and were treated as VIPs. 43
Indeed, a partly declassified CIA document recapitulated this story in the early 1970s, noting at this time:
Gehlen met with Admiral Karl Dognitz, who had been appointed by Hitler as his successor during the last days of the Third Reich. Gehlen and the Admiral were now in a U.S. Army VIP prison camp in Wiesbaden; Gehlen sought and received approval from Doenitz too!44
In other words, the German chain of command was still in effect, and it approved of what Gehlen was doing with the Americans. Gehlen’s biographers are under the impression that it took six weeks for someone in European G-2 to notice and recognize Gehlen in the POW cage, that Sibert did not tell Smith about finding him until the middle of August, and that it was much later still before Sibert and Smith conspired to circumvent Eisenhower to communicate their excitement about Gehlen to someone at the Pentagon presumably associated with the Joint Chiefs of Staff.45 But documents released in the 1980s show that this part of Gehlen’s story raced along much more quickly. Already on June 29, in fact, the Pentagon had informed Eisenhower’s European command that the War Department wanted to see Gehlen in Washington. 46
It was a fast time. By no later than August 22, one of Gehlen’s top associates, Hermann Baum was forming what would become the intelligence and counterintelligence sections of Gehlen’s new organization. Gehlen himself, with retinue, was departing for Washington in General Bedell Smith’s DC-3 for high-level talks with American military and intelligence officials. And the whole concept of the deal he was about to offer his conquerors had been approved by a Nazi chain of command that was still functioning despite what the world thought and still does think was the Nazis’ unconditional surrender.47
Gehlen arrived in Washington on August 24 with six of his top FHO aides and technical experts in tow. 48 World War II had been over about a week, the war in Europe about three and a half months.
The Secret Treaty of Fort Hunt
As Gehlen and his six men were en route from Germany to Washington, Donovan’s OSS troubles became critical. On August 23, Admiral William Leahy, chief of the JCS, the President’s national security adviser and a man who despised Donovan, advised Truman to order his budget director Harold Smith to begin a study of the intelligence question. Stating: “this country wanted no Gestapo under any guise or for any reason. “49 Truman may not have known that the Gestapo’s Odessa heirs were landing in the lap of the Pentagon even as he spoke. Smith in any case responded to Truman’s directive by asking Donovan for his OSS demobilization plans. Now, too late,. Donovan tried to fight.
The Gehlen party, “Group 6,” was checking out its very comfortable accommodations at Fort Hunt at the very moment at which Donovan, writing from a borrowed Washington office, fired back a memo to Smith defending the OSS and its right to live: “Among these assets [of the OSS] was establishment for the first time in our nation’s history of a foreign secret intelligence service which reported information as seen through American eyes. As an integral and inseparable part of this service, there is a group of specialists to analyze and evaluate the material for presentation to those who determine national policy.”50
Much more significant than the question of the adequacy of U.S. intelligence on the Soviet Union, however, was the question of civilian versus military control of the intelligence mission. Germany and England had fought this battle in the 19th century, the military capturing the intelligence role in Germany and the civilians maintaining a position in England. Throughout the summer and fall of 1945, this same battle raged in the U.S. government. 51 The battle for intelligence control was indeed the background for the arrival of Gehlen and his six aides at Fort Hunt, where Gehlen’s party was housed and Gehlen himself provided with an NCO butler and several white-jacket orderlies. 52
A momentous relationship was established at Fort Hunt, one that had the profoundest effects on the subsequent evolution of United States foreign policy during an exceptionally difficult passage of world history. The period of the Cold War as a whole, and more especially its early, formative years – from Gehlen’s coming aboard the American intelligence service until he rejoined the West German republic in 1955 — was laden with the peril of nuclear war. On at least one occasion, in 1948,53 Gehlen almost convinced the United States that the Soviet Union was about to launch a war against the West and that it would be in the U.S. interest to preempt it.
Clearly it is important to know who made and authorized the decisions that led to our national dependency on a network of underground Nazis, yet because the relevant documents are still classified this central part of the Gehlen story still cannot be reconstructed.
From the handful of published books about the Gehlen affair (none of which cite their sources on this point) we can list only seven Americans who were said to be involved with Gehlen at Fort Hunt: Admiral William D. Leahy, chief of staff end Truman’s national security advisor. Allen Dulles, OSS station chief in Bern during the war. Sherman Kent, head of OSS Research and Analysis Branch and a Yale historian. General George V. Strong, head of Army G-2. Major General Alex H. Bolling of G-2. Brigadier General John T. Magruder, first head of the Army’s Strategic Services Unit, a vulture of OSS. Loftus E. Becker, a lawyer assc. with G-2 and the Nuremberg war-crimes operation; the CIA’s first deputy director.
We do not know if these people were involved as a committee, if they talked with Gehlen and his six aides a lot or a little, separately or all at once, or if they sent their own aides to work out the details. We do not know how a POW-interrogation was transformed into a bargaining process. Above all, we do not know what kind of communication the U.S. participants in the Fort Hunt-Gehlen talks had with the political authorities to whom they were responsible. Leahy is the only one who had obvious contact with President Truman. But there is nothing in the revealed record to indicate that he ever discussed Gehlen or the Fort Hunt deal with Truman, or took the least trouble to explain to Truman the implications of hiring a Nazi spy network. We have no idea, for that matter, how Leahy himself saw it.
What we do know is the outlines of the Gehlen deal itself, however it was hammered out and however it was or was not ratified by legal, political authority. That is because Gehlen himself laid out its terms in his autobiography, The Service. Gehlen says in this work (which has been attacked for its inaccuracies) that the discussion ended with “a gentleman’s agreement,” that the terms of his relationship with the United States were “for a variety of reasons never set down in black and white.” He continues, “Such was the element of trust that had been built up between the two sides during this year of intensive personal contact that neither had the slightest hesitation in founding the entire operation on a verbal agreement and a handshake. “54
According to Gehlen, this agreement consisted of the following six basic points. His language is worth savoring. “I remember the terms of the agreement well,” he wrote:
“1. A clandestine German intelligence organization was to be set up. using the existing potential to continue information gathering in the East just as we had been doing before. The basis for this was our common interest in a defense against communism.”
“2. This German organization was to work not ‘for’ or ‘under’ the Americans, but ‘jointly with the Americans.”
“3. The organization would operate exclusively under German leadership, which would receive its directives and assignments from the Americans until a new government was established in Germany.”
“4. The organization was to be financed by the Americans with funds which were not to be part of the occupation costs, and in return the organization would supply all its intelligence reports to the Americans.” (The Gehlen Organization’s first annual budget is said have been $3.4 million. 55)”
“5. As soon as a sovereign German government was established, that government should decide whether the organization should continue to function or not. But that until such time the care and control (later referred to as ‘the trusteeship’) of the organization would remain in American hands.”
“6. Should the organization at any time find itself in a position where the American and German interests diverged, it was accepted that the organization would consider the interests of Germany first. “56 Gehlen acknowledges that the last point especially might “raise some eyebrows” and make some think that the U.S. side “had gone overboard in making concessions to us.” He assures his readers that actually “this point demonstrates better than any other Sibert’s great vision: he recognized that for many years to come the interests of the United States and West Germany must run parallel. “57 Gehlen and his staff left Fort Hunt for Germany on July 1, 1946, having been in the United States for almost a year. They were temporarily based at Oberursel then settled into a permanent base in a walled-in, self-contained village at Pullach near Munich. Gehlen set up his headquarters in an estate originally built by Martin Bormann.58
There a start-up group of 50 began to turn the “gentlemen’s agreement” of Fort Hunt into reality. The first order of business being staff, Gehlen’s recruiters were soon circulating among the “unemployed mass” of “former” Nazi SS men, the Odessa constituency, to find more evaluators, couriers and informers. 59 Gehlen had “solemnly promised in Washington not to employ SS and Gestapo men, “60 although it will be noted that Gehlen includes no such provision in his list of terms. There is not the least question that he did recruit such men, supplying them with new names when necessary. Two of the worst of them were Franz Six and Emil Augsburg. Six was a key Nazi intellectual, and both Six and Augsburg were associated with the Wannsee Institute, the Nazi think-tank in Berlin where SS leader Reinhard Heydrich, in January 1942, announced “the Final Solution to the Jewish Question.” Both of them had commanded extermination squads roving in East Europe in pursuit of Jews and communists, and both had gone underground with the Odessa when the Third Reich crumbled. Augsburg hid in Italy, then returned in disguise when Gehlen called. Six was actually captured by Allied intelligence, tried at Nuremberg and imprisoned, only to be sprung to work with Augsburg running Gehlen’s networks of East European Nazis. 61
From the edge of total defeat Gehlen now moved into his vintage years, more powerful, influential and independent than he had been even in the heyday of the Third Reich. Minimally supervised first by the War Department’s Strategic Services Unit under Fort Hunt figure Major General John Magruder, and then by the SSU’s follow-on organization, the Central Intelligence Group under Rear Admiral Sidney Souers,62 the Org grew to dominate the entire West German intelligence service. Through his close ties to Chancellor Konrad Adenauer’s chief minister, Hans Globke, Gehlen was able to place his men in positions of control in West Germany’s military intelligence and the internal counterintelligence arm. When NATO was established he came to dominate it too. By one estimate “some 70 percent” of the total intelligence take flowing into NATO’S military committee and Allied headquarters (SHAPE) on the Soviet Union, the countries of East Europe, the rest of Europe, and indeed the rest of the world was generated at Pullach.63
Not even the establishment of the CIA in 1947 and the official transfer of the Pullach operation into the West German government in 1955 (when it was retitled the Federal Intelligence Service, BND) lessened the reliance of American intelligence on Gehlen’s product.64 From the beginning days of the Cold War through the 1970s and beyond, the United State’s, West Germany’s, and NATO’s most positive beliefs about the nature and intentions of the Soviet Union, the Warsaw Pact, and world communism would be supplied by an international network of utterly unreconstructed SS Nazis whose primary purposes were to cover the escape of the Odessa and make the world safe for Naziism.
The Cost of the Fort Hunt Treaty
Gehlen’s story has many branchings beyond this point. These include several spy scandals that exposed his operation as dangerously vulnerable to Soviet penetration. They include the pitiful spectacle of U.S. CIC agents pursuing Nazi fugitives on war- crimes charges only to see them summarily pardoned and hired by Gehlen. They include the dark saga of Klaus Barbie, the SS “Butcher of Lyon” who worked with the Gehlen Organization and boasted of being a member of the Odessa. They include assets of Operation Paperclip, in which right-wing forces in the U.S. military once again savaged the concept of de-Nazification in order to smuggle scores of SS rocket scientists into the United States. They include continuation of the civilian-vs. -military conflict over the institution of secret intelligence and the question of politically motivated covert action within the domestic interior. They include above all the story of the enormous victory of the Odessa in planting powerful Nazi colonies around the world — in such countries as South Africa where the enactment of apartheid laws followed; or several countries in Latin America that then became breeding grounds for the Death Squads of the current day; and indeed even in the United States where it now appears that thousands of wanted Nazis were able to escape justice and grow old in peace.
In making the Gehlen deal, the United States did not acquire for itself an intelligence service. That is not what the Gehlen group was or was trying to be. The military intelligence historian Colonel William Corson put it most succinctly, “Gehlen’s organization was designed to protect the Odessa Nazis. It amounts to an exceptionally well-orchestrated diversion. “65 The only intelligence provided by the Gehlen net to the United States was intelligence selected specifically to worsen East-West tensions and increase the possibility of military conflict between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. It was exactly as the right-wing pairs had warned in 1945 when they were aroused by Donovan’s proposal for a permanent intelligence corps, warning their readers that a “super spy unit” could “determine American foreign policy by weeding out, withholding or coloring information gathered at his direction. “66 It was exactly as Truman had warned when he demobilized the OSS with the observation that the U.S. had no interest in “Gestapolike measures.” The fact that this lively concern for a police-state apparatus should have been focused on the relatively innocuous OSS while at the same time the red carpet was being rolled out for Gehlen’s gang of SS men must surely count as one of the supreme wrenching ironies of the modern period.
Another dimension of the cost the Gehlen deal is the stress it induced within American institutions, weakening them incalculably. The Gehlen Organization was the antithesis of the Allied cause, its sinister emergence on the scene of post-war Europe the very opposite of what the western democracies thought they had been fighting for.
Perhaps at least we can say that, despite Gehlen and despite the military, the United States did after all finally wind up with a civilian intelligence service. The National Security Act of 1947 did embody Donovan’s central point in creating a CIA outside the military. But in fact the Gehlen Org substantially pre-empted the CIA’s civilian character before it was ever born. The CIA was born to be rocked in Gehlen’s cradle. It remained dependent on the Org even when the Org turned into the BND. Thus, whatever the CIA was from the standpoint of the law, it remained from the standpoint of practical intelligence collection a front for a house of Nazi spies.
The Org was not merely military, which is bad, not merely foreign, which is much worse, and not merely Nazi, which is intolerable; it was not even professionally committed to the security of the U.S. and Western Europe. It was committed exclusively to the security of the Odessa. All the Gehlen Org ever wanted the U.S. to be was anti- communist, the more militantly so the better. It never cared in the least for the security of the United States, its Constitution or its democratic tradition.
It is not the point of this essay that there would have been no Cold War if the Odessa had not wanted it and had not been able, through the naive collaboration of the American military Right to place Gehlen and his network in a position that ought to have been occupied by a descendant of the OSS. But it was precisely because the world was so volatile and confusing as of the transition from World War II to peacetime that the U.S. needed to see it, as Donovan put it in his plaintive appeal to Truman in the summer of 1945, “through American eyes.” No Nazi eyes, however bright, could see it for us without deceiving us and leading us to the betrayal of our own national character. Second, there was no way to avoid the Cold War once we had taken the desperate step of opening our doors to Gehlen. From that moment on, from the summer of 1945 when the Army brought him into the United States and made a secret deal with him, the Cold War was locked in.
A number of Cold War historians on the left (for example D.F. Fleming and Gabriel Kolko) have made cogent arguments that from the Soviet point of view the Cold War was thrust upon us by an irrational and belligerent Stalin. The story of the secret treaty of Fort Hunt exposes this “history” as a self-serving political illusion. On the contrary, the war in the Pacific was still raging and the United States was still trying to get the Soviet Union into the war against Japan when General Sibert was already deep into his relationship with Gehlen.
The key point that comes crashing through the practical and moral confusion about this matter, once one sees that Gehlen’s Organization was an arm of the Odessa, is that, whether it was ethical or not, the U.S. did not pick up a Gift Horse in Gehlen at all; it picked up a Trojan Horse.
The unconditional surrender the Germans made to the Allied command at the little red schoolhouse in Reims was the surrender only of the German armed services. It was not the surrender of the hard SS core of the Nazi Party. The SS did not surrender, unconditionally or otherwise, and thus Nazism itself did not surrender. The SS chose rather, to seek other means of continuing the war while the right wing of the United States military establishment, through fears and secret passions and a naivete of its own, chose to facilitate that choice. The history that we have lived through since then stands witness to the consequences.
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References: Carl Oglesby is the author of several books, notably The Yankee and Cowboy War. He has published a variety of articles on political themes. In 1965 he was the President of Students for a Democratic Society. He is the director of The Institute for Continuing de- nazification. For information on the Institute write to: 294 Harvard Street, #3, Cambridge. MA 02139.
William Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1960), p. 1140. Ibid., p. 1033 fn. Enunciation of this policy surprised and upset some U.S. military leaders who feared it would prolong the war. See, for example, William R. Corson (USMC ret.), The Armies of Ignorance: The Rite of the American Intelligence Empire (New York: Dial Press, 1977), pp. 8-10. William Stevenson, The Bormann Brotherhood: A New Investigation of the Escape and Survival of Nazi War Criminals (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1973). Op. cit. n. 1, p. 1072. Ibid., pp. 1091-92
This discussion of Bormann’s strategy is based mainly on Glenn B. Infield, Skorzeny: Hitler’s Commando (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1981); and op. cit., n. 3. My summary of the Nazi survival plan is based on op. cit., n. 3; Infield, op. cit., n. 6; Ladislas Farago, Aftermath: Martin Bormann and the Fourth Reich (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1974); Charles Higham, American Swastika (New York: Doubleday, 1985); Brian Bunting, The Rise of the South African Reich (New York: Penguin, 1964); and Simon Wiesenthal, The Murderers Among Us (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1967). On “neo- Nazi” colonies in the Near and Middle East and South America, see Wiesenthal, pp. 78- 95. Infield, op. cit., n. 6. p. 192. Ibid., p. 179; and Wiesenthal, op. cit., n. 7. pp. 87-88. Wiesenthal, op. cit., n. 7, p. 88. Also quoted in Infield, op. cit., n. 6, p. 183. Infield, op. cit., n. 6, p. 183.
Schacht, who had lost favor with Hitler in 1938, was acquitted of war-crimes charges by the Nuremberg Tribunal. He was later convicted of being a “chief Nazi offender” by the German de-Nazification court at Baden-Wurttemberg, but his conviction was overturned and his eight-year sentence lifted on September 2, 1 948. Infield, op cit., n. 6.
Infield, op cit., n. 6, p. 16.
Heinz Hohne and Hermann Zoliing, The General Was A Spy (New York: Richard Barry, Coward McCann & Geoghegan, 1973), p. 54; and E.H. Cookridge, Gehlen, Spy of the Century (New York: Random House, 1971), p. 120. Christopher Simpson, Blowback (New York: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1988), p. 160 ff. Simpson’s is the best book on the Gehlen matter so far published.
Ibid., pp. 254-55.
Ibid., pp. 180, 193.
Ibid., pp. 10, 207-08.
Ibid., pp. 18-22. Also see Hohne and Zoliing, op. cit., n. 14, pp. 35-37; Cookridge, op. cit., n. 14, pp. 56-58.
Cookridge op. cit., n. 14, p. 79. Reinhard Gehlen, The Service (New York: World, 1972), ‘ p. 99.
Ibid., p. 107.
Cookridge, op. cit., n. 14, pp. 103, 106. I do not know of an estimate of the size of the Foreign Armies East (FHO) as of the end of the war. Cookridge, op. cit., n. 14, p. 161, says that by 1948, when the Gehlen Organization was probably back up to war-time speed, its key agents “exceeded four thousand.” Each agent typically ran a net of about six informants, Cookridge, op. cit., n. 14, p. 167. Thus, the total Gehlen net might have numbered in the range of 20,000 individuals.
Op. cit., n. 21 , p. 1 15.
Corson, op. cit., n. 2, pp. 6, 20; Anthony Cave Brown, The Last Hero, Wild Bill Donovan (N.Y.: Vintage Books, 1982), p. 625; U.S. Senate, “Final Report of the Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities,” Book IV, Supplementary Staff Reports on Foreign and Military Intelligence (known as, The Church Report), p. 5.
Cookridge, op. cit., n. 14, p.130.
Brown, op. cit., n. 26, p. 626.
Cookridge, op. cit., n. 14, p. 131.
William M. Leary, ed., The Central Intelligence Agency: History and Documents (Atlanta: University of Atlanta Press, 1984), pp. 123-25; Corson, op cit., n. 2, pp. 214-17; Brown, op. cit., n. 26, p. 625. Brown, op. cit., n. 26, p. 627.
Ibid., p. 170.
Thomas Powers, The Man Who Kept the Secrets: Richard Helms and the CIA (New York: Pocket Books, 1 981 ), p. 31 .
Brown, op. cit., n. 26, p. 744. This account of Gehlen’s surrender is based on Hohne and Zoliing, op. cit., n. 14, pp. 52-56; Cookridge, op cit., n. 14, pp. 118-21; op. cit., 3, pp. 89-90; op cit., n. 15, pp. 41- 43; and the BBC documentary, Superspy: The Story of Reinhard Gehlen, 1974. There are many trivial discrepancies in these four accounts but they are in perfect agreement as to the main thrust.
Cookridge, op. cit., n. 14, p. 120.
Hohne and Zolling, op. cit., n. 14, p. 58. As to breaking orders, Gehlen is effusive in his praise of “Sibert’s great vision…. I stand in admiration of Sibert as a general who this this bold step — in a situation fraught with political pitfalls — of taking over the intelligence experts of a former enemy for his own country…. The political risk to which Sibert was exposed was very great. Anti-German feeling was running high, and he had created our organizations without any authority from Washington and without the knowledge of the War Department.”
Op. cit., n. 21, p. 123.
Hohne and Zolling, op. cit., n. 14, p. 58. Ibid., pp. 58-59. Op. cit., n. 21 , p. 120.
Hohne and Zolling, op. cit., n. 14, p. 58. Undated CIA fragment with head, “Recent Books,” apparently published circa 1972, partly declassified and released in 1986 in response to a Freedom of Information (FOIA) suit.
Hohne and Zolling, op. cit., n. 14, pp. 56, 58-59.
U.S. Army document SHAEF D-95096, September 15, 1946, declassified FOIA release. The routing of this cable through SHAEF HQ raises a question as to whether Eisenhower was really kept in the dark about Gehlen. As Gehlen was about to leave for the United States, he left a message for Baun with another of his top aides, Gerhard Wessel: “I am to tell you from Gehlen that he has discussed with [Hitler’s successor Admiral Karl] Doenitz and [Gehlen’s superior and chief of staff General Franz] Haider the question of continuing his work with the Americans. Both were in agreement.”
Hohne and Zolling, op. cit., n. 14, p. 61. There is variance in the literature concerning how many assistants Gehlen took with him to Washington.
John Ranelagh, The Agency: The Rise and Decline of the CIA (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1986), p. 92;
Cookridge, op. cit., n. 14, p. 125; and op. cit., n. 15, p. 42, say it was three while Hohne and Zolling, op. cit., n. 14, p. 61, say four. A U.S. Army note of August 28, 1945 (a 1986 FOIA release) refers to “the 7 shipped by air last week” and that no doubt is the correct number. Another FOIA release, an unnumbered Military Intelligence Division document dated September 30, 1945, originated at Fort Hunt, labels the Gehlen party as “Group 6” and names seven members: Gehlen, Major Alberg Schoeller, Major Horst Hiemenz, Colonel Heinz Herre, Colonel Konrad Stephanus, and two others whose rank is not given, Franz Hinrichs and Herbert Feukner. The number is important for what it says about the nature of Gehlen’s trip, Three might be thought of as co-defendants but six constitute a staff. Cookridge, op. cit., n. 14, p. 125, says Gehlen made the trip disguised in the uniform of a one-star American general, his aides disguised as U.S. captains. Hohne and Zolling, op. cit., n. 14, pp. 60-61, inflate the rank to two stars but then call the story spurious. Gehlen’s memoir says nothing about it.
Corson, op. cit., n. 2, p. 239.
Ibid., p. 240.
Ranelagh, op. cit., n. 48, p. 102ff.
BBC documentary, Superspy, op. cit., n. 36. Corson, in an interview with the author, said the butler and the orderlies must have been CIC agents. Still, the detail rankles.
Cookridge, op. cit., n. 14, 203; op. cit., n. 15. p. 1 36.
Op. cit., n. 21 , p. 1 21 .
Hohne and Zolling, op. cit., n. 1 4. p. 64, say that the details of this “gentlemen’s agreement” were put into writing by the CIA in 1949.
Hohne and Zolling, op. cit., n. 14, p. 65.
Op. cit., n. 21 , p. 122. Ibid., pp. 122-23.
Hohne and Zolling, op. cit., n. 14, p. 119;
Cookridge, op. cit., n. 14, p. 155,
BBC documentary, Superspy, op. cit., n. 36.
Hohne and Zolling, op. cit., n. 14, p. 67.
Cookridge, op. cit., n. 14, p. 144.
Op. cit., n. 15, pp. 17, 46-47, 166, 225;
Cookridge, op. cit., n. 14, pp. 242-43.
Hohne and Zolling, op. cit., n. 14, p. 133.
Cookridge, op. cit., n. 14, p. 218.
Ibid., p. 128.
Author’s interview with Corson, May, 1986.
Cookridge, op. cit., n. 14, p. 131.
(This article was originally from CovertAction Information Bulletin, Fall, 1990)
The genesis of JFK’s affair with Judith Campbell began with a 1960 plot by Chicago Mafia chieftain Sam Giancana to ensnare the senator into a relationship with her. Giancana’s original motive was to increase his leverage over the Kennedy family. He used his lieutenant Johnny Roselli to engineer this sordid scheme. The exposition of Giancana’s plan led to appalling and tragic unintended consequences when it became entangled in the Central Intelligence Agency’s plan to use him to assassinate Fidel Castro. Those consequences included the assassination of President Kennedy on 22 November 1963, the assassination of Giancana on 19 June 1975—the day before his and Judith Campbell’s scheduled appearances before the Church Committee—and the assassination of Roselli in August 1976.
Only Judith Campbell lived to tell the story about her role as a courier between JFK and Giancana. But years passed before she dared to discuss it. She gave a detailed accounting of her courier work to investigative journalist Sy Hersh about two years before her death from breast cancer in 1999. Because Hersh’s track record includes several examples of questionable (to say the least) reporting, his publication of Campbell’s courier role in his book The Dark Side of Camelot has not been well received by the public and by some of the JFK research community whom I both know and respect. It is well known that a month before publication of Hersh’s book, a segment about legal documents allegedly containing JFK’s signature was removed from the galleys. That segment was based on fraudulent documents created by a paralegal, Lawrence Cusack, alleging that JFK had arranged for hush money to keep details of an affair with Marilyn Monroe quiet.
I am aware of Sy Hersh’s 1968 role as press secretary to Eugene McCarthy, Richard Goodwin’s defection to join the Kennedy campaign on the eve of the Indiana Primary, and of Hersh’s bitterness that came as the result of Robert Kennedy getting into the race after assuring Kennedy loyalists and antiwar leaders that he would not challenge the Democratic Party nominee. In spite of the drawbacks to Hersh’s take on JFK, I realized that in researching and writing Countdown to Darkness there was no way around evaluating three of Hersh’s claims in The Dark Side of Camelot: 1) the Campbell courier role between JFK and Giancana, 2) the Clarence B. Sprouse fall 1960 briefing for JFK about the CIA plan for the exile invasion (and Alabama Governor John Patterson’s warning to JFK about the same subject), and, 3) with just two weeks to go before Election Day, JFK’s alleged note to himself to talk to Allen Dulles to make sure nothing would be done about Cuba before the election.
The alleged courier role played by Campbell between JFK and Giancana cannot be casually dismissed simply because Hersh wrote about it. Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan also realized they had to vet the courier story for their 2005 biography Sinatra: The Life. Summers and Swan offered this observation:
Yet much of what Campbell claimed is credible. A good deal of it is supported by phone records, White House logs, and other documentation. Interestingly, some of her more controversial claims, suspect because she did not make them publicly until many years had passed, were first made contemporaneously as private confidences.
I agree that there is supporting documentation that supports the credibility of her claim. It needs to be further evaluated, and I will deal with this documentation in greater detail in Volume III, Into the Storm. I also agree that only speaking contemporaneously about her courier work in private helps the claim’s credibility. Yet, I would also think that keeping it private until many years had passed makes it more likely, not less, that Campbell’s claim might be true. If she made up this story for money, we would expect to have seen it used in her autobiography My Life. But she didn’t.
It is sensible to point out that Judith Campbell had good reason to keep her courier role secret for many years after her appearance before the Church Committee. In that appearance she was not under oath, and she denied having done anything for John Kennedy. As I mentioned above, the evening prior to her appearance before the committee, one end of the courier operation, Sam Giancana, had been assassinated. JFK, the other end of that operation, had already been assassinated in 1963.
All of the books about Campbell that I have searched—and I make no claim to having seen all that have been published—have failed to point out that Campbell gave details of her courier role publicly on national television five years before her interviews with Hersh. During a 4 February 1992 interview on Larry King’s television show, Campbell told the astonished talk show host that, during a 6 April 1960 dinner, Kennedy had asked her to set up a meeting with Giancana and take a “satchel” to him containing “a great deal of money.” I watched the interview live when it took place in 1992, and I reprinted the relevant extract from the transcript in Countdown to Darkness.
Had the only source of Judith Campbell’s role as a courier between Kennedy and Giancana been Sy Hersh, then I would look upon this allegation with suspicion. But there is much more than Sy Hersh to consider in this matter. If her affair with JFK had taken place outside of the context of the CIA’s plot to use Giancana to assassinate Fidel Castro, then I would not have delved so deeply into the matter. However, given the way events unfolded in the fall of 1960, there was no way to avoid it.
What I offered in the present volume is only the beginning of the CIA-Mafia entanglement with this affair. The Giancana-Roselli relationship that developed out of these events has long legs looking forward in my plans for further investigation of the assassination of President Kennedy.
 I have submitted a FOIA request to the CIA for any documents made in connection with the Sprouse briefing.
 I have submitted research requests with the JFK Library about this and plan spending time there looking for this and other important documents that might help explain the raw hatred for Kennedy that followed his handling of the Bay of Pigs.
 Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan, Sinatra the Life (New York: Vintage Books, 2006), p. 265.
 See p. 204.
Author: Susan Williams
Publisher: Public Affairs Books | 9 August, 2016
An important new book has just been published by Susan Williams, author of the 2011 work “Who Killed Hammarskjöld?” that has led to the United Nations reopening the investigation of the death of Dag Hammarskjöld. Williams’ new book is titled “Spies in the Congo: America’s Atomic Mission in World War 11”. It reveals previously little known information about the US atomic bomb project, the Manhattan Project. The story opens with Albert Einstein’s 1939 letter to President Franklin Roosevelt warning of a possible Nazi program to build an atomic bomb. Einstein, writing also on behalf of other atomic scientists, alerted Roosevelt to the three potential sources of uranium ore for a bomb- small and less concentrated deposits in Canada and Czechoslovakia, and the best source for almost unbelievably concentrated uranium ore, in the Belgian Congo.
Williams describes how FDR soon established U.S. bases in West Africa, as well as air and sea routes from the U.S. to the region. Gen. Groves, head of the Manhattan Project, designated obtaining the uranium from the Congo mines a top priority. Williams describes the Manhattan Project as a secret ‘state within the state’, known to a select few government officials and financed through secret accounts.
The Office of Strategic Services (OSS), predecessor to the CIA, was assigned a highly secret task of preventing smuggling of uranium from the Congo to Germany. OSS opened offices in West Africa, the Belgian Congo and Portuguese East Africa, and operated under a cover story of preventing the transfer of industrial diamonds to Germany for its war effort. Williams had access to released OSS records, which tell a previously unknown story of top priority U.S. intelligence activity in Africa during World War II.
It may not surprise students of Cold War struggles in the Congo to learn that the uranium mine in the Congo was located in the Katanga province. Katanga was the site of prolonged and violent clashes backed by the Cold War adversaries, not to mention its relevance to the murder of Congolese nationalist leader Patrice Lumumba on January 17, 1961. Control of the uranium mine is a likely cause of these events.
Williams writes of OSS personnel who are virtually unknown even to students of intelligence, and may have as yet unknown significance. An emerging story is that of Huntington Harris, who served as the head of OSS in West Africa, as well as its principal in Portuguese East Africa (Mozambique). In 1945 he was sent to Rome by OSS as part of a ‘special Vatican project’. James Angleton was chief of station for OSS in Italy at this time and involved in Vatican projects.
According to released OSS records available at the National Archives, in Portuguese East Africa, Huntington Harris was case officer for Werner von Alvensleben, a German who was a valued double agent for OSS, and a subject of a pending Freedom of Information Act lawsuit in the federal court in Washington D.C. Harris tried mightily to get von Alvensleben and wife admitted to live in the U.S. after the war, but was blocked by the U.S. Department of State. Von Alvensleben’s personal history included serving as an assassin for the Nazis in 1933 in the Austrian Tyrol while he was a member of the Bavarian Military Police headed by Heinrich Himmler. Von Alvensleben remained in Portuguese East Africa after World War II where at first he worked for the U.S. consulate and later established the largest big game hunting operation in Africa, Safarilandia.
Of interest to Americans in particular is that von Alvensleben journeyed to Dallas, Texas in late 1963 as the guest of D. Harold Byrd, owner of the Texas School Book Depository building. Byrd was reported to be at Safarilandia on the date in November 1963 on which President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, allegedly as a result of shots fired from Byrd’s Texas School Book Depository building. Byrd, an oil producer and defense contractor, is also a subject of a pending Freedom of Information Act lawsuit in federal court in Washington, D.C.
Werner von Alvensleben was widely known in big game hunting circles for his proficiency with the Mannlicher-Schoenauer rifle, described by firearms experts as the “World’s Finest Rifle”. Kennedy was said to have been assassinated by shots from a Mannlicher-Carcano rifle which used ammunition virtually identical to that fired in the Mannlicher-Schoenauer. Warren Commission member (and former High Commissioner for Germany) John McCloy, in the official investigation of Kennedy’s assassination, questioned the FBI’s firearms expert as to whether the ammunition of the two rifles could be fired interchangeably. The FBI expert said he did not know the answer as he was unfamiliar with the Mannlicher-Schoenauer rifle.
“Spies in the Congo” is a major work that significantly broadens our understanding of World War II and the Cold War in Africa, and opens up the possibility of other major breakthroughs in our knowledge and understanding of the period.
– Review by Dan Alcorn, AARC Board member
Spies in the Congo: America’s Atomic mission in World War II may be ordered HERE.
By ALAN COWELL
LONDON — A few days from now, the anniversary of one of the most enduring international mysteries will slide by, hardly likely to be marked by those in Britain and the United States accused of withholding the secret clues to its resolution.
On the night of Sept. 17-18, 1961, an airplane carrying Dag Hammarskjold, the United Nations secretary general, crashed near the airport in Ndola in what was then called Northern Rhodesia, now Zambia. Mr. Hammarskjold was on a mission to end a secessionist war next door in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo. All 16 people aboard the plane perished.