Jack Alston Crichton was born on a cotton plantation in Crichton, Louisiana, on 16th October, 1916. After leaving Byrd High School in Shreveport in 1933 he attended the Texas A&M University. Fellow students included Harvey Bright and Earle Cabell. He graduated with a degree in Petroleum Engineering in 1937.
During the Second World War he served with the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) in Europe. In 1946 Everette DeGolyer recruited Crichton. According to Russ Baker: "He started and ran a baffling array of companies, which tended to change names frequently. These operated largely below the radar, and fronted for some of North America's biggest names, including the Bronfmans (Seagram's liquor), the Du Ponts, and the Kuhn-Loeb family of financiers."
In 1952 Jack Crichton joined a syndicate that included Everette DeGolyer and Clint Murchison to use connections in the government of General Francisco Franco to acquire rare drilling rights in Spain. The operation was handled by Delta Drilling, which was owned by Joe Zeppa.
In August 1953 Crichton joined the Empire Trust Company. He eventually became a vice-president of the organization. According to Stephen Birmingham, the author of Our Crowd: The Great Jewish Families of New York (1962) the company had a network of associates that amounted to "something very like a private CIA". The Empire Trust was also a major investor in the defence contractor General Dynamics.
In 1956 Crichton started up his own spy unit, the 488th Military Intelligence Detachment. Crichton served as the unit's commander under Lieutenant Colonel George Whitmeyer, who was in overall command of all Army Reserve units in East Texas. In an interview Crichton claimed that there were "about a hundred men in that unit and about forty or fifty of them were from the Dallas Police Department."
In the 1950s Jack Crichton became involved with several oil men who began negotiating with Fulgencio Batista, the military dictator of Cuba. A key figure in this was George de Mohrenschildt, who at that time worked for a company called Cuban-Venezuelan Oil Voting Trust Company (CVOVT) that had been established by William Buckley Sr. Crichton later remarked that "I liked George. He was a nice guy." It is argued by Russ Baker that Crichton's Empire Trust Company played a major role in the financing of the Cuban venture.
On 30th November, 1956, The New York Times reported that: "The Cuban Stanolind Oil Company, an affiliate of the Standard Oil Company (Indiana), has signed an agreement with the Cuban-Venezuelan Oil Voting Trust and Trans-Cuba Oil Company for the development of an an additional 3,000,000 acres in Cuba. This is in addition to the original agreement covering 12,000,000 acres." George de Mohrenschildt later told Albert E. Jenner that CVOVT had managed to obtain leases covering nearly half of Cuba in the 1950s. As Russ Baker pointed out in Family of Secrets (2008): "Though now almost completely forgotten, on many days in the mid-1950s, it was one of the four or five most actively traded issues on the American Stock Exchange."
On 1st January, 1959, Fulgencio Batista fled Cuba. The following day Fidel Castro and his revolutionary army marched into Havana. The New York Times reported on 22nd November 1959, that Castro's government had approved a law that would reduce the size of claims for oil exploration and halt large-scale explorations by private companies. These claims were now limited to 20,000 acres. This was a major problem for the Cuban-Venezuelan Oil Voting Trust Company that had signed an agreement with Fulgencio Batista for 15,000,000 acres.
Jack Crichton also had a close association with George H. W. Bush. According to Fabian Escalante (The Secret War: CIA Covert Operations Against Cuba, 1959-62), in 1959, Crichton and Bush raised funds for the CIA's Operation 40. Originally it was set up to organize sabotage operations against Fidel Castro and his Cuban government. However, it evolved into a team of assassins. One member, Frank Sturgis, claimed: "this assassination group (Operation 40) would upon orders, naturally, assassinate either members of the military or the political parties of the foreign country that you were going to infiltrate, and if necessary some of your own members who were suspected of being foreign agents... We were concentrating strictly in Cuba at that particular time."
The failure to assassinate or overthrow Fidel Castro caused tremendous problems for the Cuban-Venezuelan Oil Voting Trust Company and other foreign oil companies that had already invested more than $30 million looking for oil in Cuba. In December 1960, CVOVT was de-listed from the American Stock Exchange.
Critchton was appointed head of the intelligence component of the Dallas Civil Defence. The conservative radio commentator Paul Harvey wrote in his syndicated column in September 1960: "The Communists, since 1917, have sold Communism to more people than have been told about Christ after 2,000 years." He urged his readers to support the "counter-attack that had been mounted in Dallas."
In 1961 Crichton joined forces with other right-wing figures in Dallas to establish a program called "Know Your Enemy". This was to combat communist influence that "was undermining the American way of life". The following year Crichton opened an underground command post under the patio of the Dallas Health and Science Museum that was intended for "continuity-of-government" operations during a communist attack.
In 1963 Crichton was nominated by the Republican Party for the post of Governor of Texas. He joined forces with George H. W. Bush, who was the nominee for the U.S. Senate. As Crichton later recalled, he and Bush "spoke from the same podiums" that year. However, Crichton was defeated by John Connally and he later wrote a book about his failed attempt to become governor, The Republican-Democrat Political Campaigns: In Texas in 1964.
In November 1963 Crichton was involved in the arrangements of the visit that President John F. Kennedy made to Dallas. His close friend, Deputy Police Chief George L. Lumpkin, and a fellow member of the the 488th Military Intelligence Detachment, drove the pilot car of Kennedy's motorcade. Also in the car was Lieutenant Colonel George Whitmeyer, commander of all Army Reserve units in East Texas. The pilot car stopped briefly in front of the Texas School Book Depository, where Lumpkin spoke to a policeman controlling traffic at the corner of Houston and Elm.
In the Warren Commission Report it stated that Crichton arranged for a member of the local Russian community, Ilya Mamantov, to work for the Dallas Police Department as a translator for Russian-born Marina Oswald shortly after the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Crichton's volunteer translated for Oswald during her initial questioning by the Dallas authorities in the hours immediately after her husband Lee Harvey Oswald had been arrested. According to Russ Baker, the author of Family of Secrets (2009), there "were far from literal translations of her Russian words and had the effect of implicating her husband in Kennedy's death."
Crichton was president of Nafco Oil and Gas. He also owned a company called Dorchester Gas Producing. A fellow director was David Harold Byrd who along with Clint Murchison, Haroldson L. Hunt and Sid Richardson, was part of the Big Oil group in Dallas. Barr McClellan (Blood, Money & Power) argues that "Big Oil would be during the fifties and into the sixties what the OPEC oil cartel was to the United States in the seventies and beyond". One of the main concerns of this group was the preservation of the oil depletion allowance.
Jack Crichton who was President of the Dallas Petroleum Engineers Club, also served as a Director to Florida Gas Company, Clark Oil and Refining, Whitehall Corporation, Transco Energy and the Consolidated Development Corporation.
Jack Alston Crichton died in Dallas on 10th December, 2007.