A few months ago, in March, there was a meeting at CIA headquarters in Langley, Va., the plush home of America's super spooks overlooking the Potomac River. It was attended by several high-level clandestine officers and some former top officials of the agency.
The topic of discussion was: What to do about recent revelations associating President Kennedy's accused assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, with the spy game played between the U.S. and the USSR? (Spotlight, May 8, 1978.) A decision was made, and a course of action determined. They were calculated to both fascinate and confuse the public by staging a clever "limited hangout" when the House Special Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) holds its open hearings, beginning later this month.
A "limited hangout" is spy jargon for a favorite and frequently used gimmick of the clandestine professionals. When their veil of secrecy is shredded and they can no longer rely on a phony cover story to misinform the public, they resort to admitting - sometimes even volunteering some of the truth while still managing to withhold the key and damaging facts in the case. The public, however, is usually so intrigued by the new information that it never thinks to pursue the matter further.
We will probably never find out who masterminded the assassination of JFK - or why. There are too many powerful special interests connected with the conspiracy for the truth to come out even now, 15 years after the murder.
But during the next two months, according to sensitive sources in the CIA and on HSCA, we are going to learn much more about the crime. The new disclosures will be sensational, but only superficially so. A few of the lesser villains involved in the conspiracy and its subsequent coverup will be identified for the first time - and allowed to twist slowly in the wind on live network TV. Most of the others to be fingered are already dead.
But once again the good folks of middle America will be hoodwinked by the government and its allies in the establishment news media. In fact, we are being set up to witness yet another coverup, albeit a sophisticated one, designed by the CIA with the assistance of the FBI and the blessing of the Carter administration.
A classic example of a limited hangout is how the CIA has handled and manipulated the Church Committee's investigation of two years ago. The committee learned nothing more about the assassinations of foreign leaders, illicit drug programs, or the penetration of the news media than the CIA allowed it to discover. And this is precisely what the CIA is out to accomplish through HSCA with regard to JFK's murder.
Chief among those to be exposed by the new investigation will be E. Howard Hunt, of Watergate fame. His luck has run out, and the CIA has decided to sacrifice him to: protect its clandestine services. The agency is furious with Hunt for having dragged it publicly into the Nixon mess and for having blackmailed it after he was arrested.
Besides, Hunt is vulnerable - an easy target as they say in the spy business. His reputation and integrity have been destroyed. The death of his wife, Dorothy, in a mysterious plane crash in Chicago still disturbs many people, especially since there were rumors from informed sources that she was about to leave him and perhaps even turn on him.
In addition it is well known that Hunt hated JFK and blamed him for the Bay of Pigs disaster. And now, in recent months, his alibi for his whereabouts on the day of the shooting has come unstuck.
In the public hearings, the CIA will "admit" that Hunt was involved in the conspiracy to kill Kennedy. The CIA may go so far as to "admit" that there were three gunmen shooting at Kennedy. The FBI, while publicly embracing the Warren Commission's "one man acting alone" conclusion, has always privately known that there were three gunmen. The conspiracy involved many more people than the ones who actually fired at Kennedy, both agencies may now admit.
A.J. Weberman and Michael Canfield, authors of Coup d'Etat in America, published pictures of three apparent bums who were arrested at Dealy Plaza just after President Kennedy's murder, but who were strangely released without any record of the arrest having been made by the Dallas police. One of the tramps the authors identified as Hunt. Another was Frank Sturgis, a long time agent of Hunt's.
Hunt immediately sued for millions of dollars in damages, claiming he could prove that he had been in Washington D.C. that day-on duty at CIA. It turned out, however, that this was not true. So, he said that he had been on leave and doing household errands, including a shopping trip to a grocery store in Chinatown.
Weberman and Canfield investigated the new alibi and found that the grocery store where Hunt claimed to be shopping never existed. At this point, Hunt offered to drop his suit for a token payment of one dollar. But the authors were determined to vindicate themselves, and they continued to attack Hunt's alibi, ultimately completely shattering it.
Now, the CIA moved to finger Hunt and tie him to the JFK assassination. HSCA unexpectedly received an internal CIA memorandum a few weeks ago that the agency just happened to stumble across in its old files. It was dated 1966 and said in essence: Some day we will have to explain Hunt's presence in Dallas on November 22, 1963 - the day President Kennedy was killed. Hunt is going to be hard put to explain this memo, and other things, before the TV cameras at the HSCA hearings.
Hunt's reputation as a strident fanatical anti-communist will count against him. So will his long and close relationship with the anti-Castro Cubans, as well as his penchant for clandestine dirty tricks and his various capers while one of Nixon's plumbers. E. Howard Hunt will be implicated in the conspiracy and he will not dare to speak out-the CIA will see to that. In addition to Hunt and Sturgis, another former CIA agent marked for exposure is Gerry Patrick Hemming, a hulk of a man-six feet eight inches tall and weighing 260 pounds. Like Sturgis, Hemming once worked for Castro as a CIA double agent, then later surfaced with the anti-Castro Cubans in various attempts to rid Cuba of the communist dictator. But there are two things in Hemming's past that the CIA, manipulation HSCA, will be able to use to tie him to the JFK assassination.
First, Castro's former mistress, Marita Lorenz (now an anti-Castroite herself), has identified Hemming, along with Oswald and others as being part of the secret squad assigned to kill President Kennedy. And secondly, Hemming was Oswald's Marine sergeant when he was stationed at CIA's U-2 base in Atsugi, Japan-where Oswald supposedly was recruited as a spy by the Soviets, or was being trained to be a double agent by the CIA.
In any event, Hemming's Cuban career and his connection with Oswald make the Lorenz story difficult for him to deny, particularly since the squad allegedly also included Hunt and Sturgis.
Who else will be identified as having been part of the conspiracy and/or coverup remains to be seen. But a disturbing pattern is already beginning to emerge. All the villains have been previously disgraced in one way or another. They all have "right wing" reputations. Or they will have after the hearings.