Dennis Salvatore Cassini

Dennis Salvatore Cassini (Cossini) lived in Milwaukee. It has been claimed by Mae Brussell that Cassini was a CIA operative. According to Lisa Pease Cassini met with Arthur Bremer at the Lord Elgin hotel in Ottawa in early 1972. It has also been argued that Anthony Ulasewicz was seen with Cassini during this period.

On 15th May, 1972, Bremer tried to assassinate George Wallace at a presidential campaign rally in Laurel, Maryland. Wallace was hit four times. Three other people, Alabama State Trooper Captain E. C. Dothard, Dora Thompson, a Wallace campaign volunteer, and Nick Zarvos, a Secret Service agent, were also wounded in the attack.

Richard Nixon was deeply shocked by this event. He told Charles Colson, a member of his White House staff, that he was concerned that Bremer “might have ties to the Republican Party or, even worse, the President’s re-election committee”. Colson now phoned E. Howard Hunt and asked him to break-in to Bremer's apartment to discover if he had any documents that linked him to Nixon or his main political opponent in the presidential election, George McGovern. According to Hunt's autobiography, Undercover, he refused to carry out this order.

Bob Woodward reported in the Washington Post: "Within hours of the Wallace assassination attempt, a White House official was asked by the Washington Post about the identity of the governor's attacker. During a subsequent conversation that evening, the official raised the possibility of Bremer's connection to leftist causes and the campaign of Sen. George McGovern, through literature found in his apartment.... One White House source said that when President Nixon was informed of the shooting, he became deeply upset and voiced concern that the attempt on Gov. Wallace's life might have been made by someone with ties to the Republican Party or the Nixon campaign."

It later emerged that Federal Bureau of Investigation officers found both left-wing and right-wing propaganda in Bremer's apartment. They also found a diary where Bremer wrote about his plans to kill George Wallace or Richard Nixon. The opening sentence was: "Now I start my diary of my personal plot to kill by pistol either Richard Nixon or George Wallace." The diary was eventually published as a book, An Assassin's Diary (1973).

Local reporters later claimed that the FBI left Bremer’s home for around 90 minutes before coming back and sealing it. During this time reporters and other unidentified figures took away papers from Bremer’s apartment.

In July, 1972 Cassini died from a massive heroin overdose. Cassini, whose body was found locked in the trunk of his automobile, had no history of drug use.

In his book, The Taking of America (1976), Richard E. Sprague argued that Cassini and Donald Segretti supplied money to Bremer before he attempted to assassinate George Wallace.

Primary Sources

(1) Lisa Pease, Bremer and Wallace, Probe Magazine (May-June 1999)

1972 is most famous, however, for the Watergate break-in, which ultimately led to Nixon’s self-removal from office. The CIA played a heavy and interesting role in both the break-in and the subsequent revelations that led to Nixon’s removal. As Probe has written about in past issues, it appears the CIA operatives deliberately got themselves caught in the Watergate hotel so as not to blow other operations. Then, when Helms was removed, removing Nixon was seen as payback. Those who most contributed to exposing Nixon’s activities, such as Alexander Butterfield, James McCord, and Howard Hunt, all had relationships with the CIA. If the cumulative weight of the evidence is to be believed, it appears that the CIA ran the country’s election process in 1972, deciding which candidates would survive or fail, and participating in acts of sabotage.

Is it too far fetched to suggest they may have had an interest in controlling the political fortunes of others that year, even by such drastic means as assassination? From what we know of their presence in the assassinations of John Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, such as suggestion can hardly be called far-fetched. Therefore, we must ask that most ugly of questions: is there evidence of CIA involvement in the Wallace shooting?

According to newspaperwoman Sybil Leek and lawyer-turned-investigative-reporter Bert Sugar, the answer is yes. According to Leek and Sugar, while Bremer was at the Lord Elgin hotel in Ottawa, he met with a Dennis Cassini. Famed conspiracy researcher Mae Brussell and Alan Stang identified Cassini as a CIA operative. Cassini was found dead from a massive heroin overdose in July, 1972, just two months after the Wallace shooting. Cassini had no history of drug use.

Cassini’s address book contained the phone number of a John J. McCleary. McCleary lived in Sacramento, California, and was employed by V & T International, an import-export firm. McCleary drowned in the Pacific ocean in the fall of 1972. His father, amazingly, drowned around the same time in Reno, Nevada.

If the CIA was somehow involved, that could explain both E. Howard Hunt’s immediate interest in the case, as well as the role of CBS in filming Bremer in the act of shooting. CBS and the CIA shared a particularly close relationship. CIA involvement might go far in explaining the following connections as well.

Bremer’s brother, William Bremer, was arrested shortly after the Wallace shooting for having bilked over 2,000 Miami matrons out of over $80,000 by signing them up for non-existant weight-loss sessions. Curiously, Bremer’s lawyer was none other than Ellis Rubin, the man who had defended many anti-Castro activists and who defended the CIA men who participated in the Watergate break-in.

Even more curious is Bremer’s half-sister Gail’s relationship with the Reverend Jerry Owen (ne Oliver Brindley Owen), who figures prominently in the RFK case. Owen’s bible-thumping show was cancelled from KCOP in Los Angeles when evidence surfaced showing he had a possibly sinister relationship with Sirhan Sirhan just prior to the assassination of Robert Kennedy. After the assassination, Owen had gone to the police with a strange tale of having picked Sirhan up as a hitchhiker. But other witnesses claimed Owen had given Sirhan cash, and had more of a relationship with Sirhan that he had admitted.

(2) David Wallechinsky & Irving Wallace, The People's Almanac (1985)

Artie Bremer was described time and again as a "loner." Despite that description by certain of his acquaintances and by Life magazine, Bremer was constantly in the company of several individuals just prior to the assassination attempt.

One of these individuals has been identified as Mr. Dennis Cassini. Before any officials could question Cassini after the murder attempt on Wallace, he was found dead of a heroin overdose, his body locked in the trunk of his automobile. The Milwaukee officials reported this incident to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. No attempt was made by the Federal authorities, then under the direction of L. Patrick Gray, to investigate this matter further.

Bremer was also seen with an older, heavyset gentleman in the waiting room of the Chesapeake and Ohio Ferry in Ludington, Mich. He was described by the attendant as having a "New Joisey brogue." Mr. Roger Gordon, a former member of the Secret Army Organization (SAO), a government intelligence agency, identified Bremer's ferry contact as a Mr. Anthony Ulasewicz, a White House operative who would become well-known in the Watergate hearings. Gordon has since left this country.

It has been reported that Charles W. Colson ordered E. Howard Hunt (both also of Watergate fame) to break into Bremer's apartment within an hour of the shooting, and plant Black Panther party newspapers and Angela Davis literature there. A small news service employee carried out the Colson assignment.

(3) Eric Norden, The Shooting of George Wallace-Who Really Wanted Him Dead (April 1984)

Tim Heinan, a Marquette University student who moonlighted as an undercover agent for the Milwaukee Police Department's Special Assignment Squad, learned that Arthur Bremer had ties to a CIA operative named Dennis Salvatore Cossini, a federal "counter terrorist" who specialized in the infiltration and control of radical organizations including the local SDS chapter the gunman had joined. The agent was fired after Heinan confessed his links to Bremer. Cossini headed for Toronto and was next seen dead, slouching in a parked car with an overdose of heroin in his veins. One of the police investigating the death mused: "Somebody gave him a hot shot."

(4) Mae Brussell, Why Is the Senate Watergate Committee Functioning As Part of the Cover-Up? (July 1973)

H.R. Haldeman gave the approval for $400,000 to "defeat" George Wallace. Supposedly it went to a Democratic candidate for Governor, but Haldeman didn't know his name. Couldn't it also go to part of an assassination team? He only allocated the cash from a special, secret White House safe but didn't inquire the use when it was handed over? Hardly possible! Only an intelligence operation, working on a need-to-know basis, behaves in such a manner...

Mrs. Dorothy Hunt, at the time of her death on the sabotaged flight to Chicago on December 8, 1972, had the name of two neurosurgeons with her. An accomplished CIA agent on her own, would these persons perform for the accused a service that would save paying blackmail money the rest of their lives?

Dennis Salvatore Cossini - Contact man from CIA with Arthur Bremer. Could have provided the money, like Mrs. Hunt, be the cut-off.

(5) Richard E. Sprague, The Taking of America (1985)

In 1972 the Power Control Group was faced with another set of problems. Again the objective was to insure Nixon's election at all costs and to continue the cover-ups. Nixon might have made it on his own. We'll never know because the Group guaranteed his election by eliminating two strong candidates and completely swamping another with tainted leftist images and a psychiatric case for the vice presidential nominee. The impression that Nixon had in early 1972 was that he stood a good chance of losing. He imagined enemies everywhere and a press he was sure was out to get him.

The Power Control Group realized this too. They began laying out a strategy that would encourage the real nuts in the Nixon administration like E. Howard Hunt, G. Gordon Liddy and Donald Segretti to eliminate any serious opposition. The dirty tricks campaign worked perfectly against the strongest early Democratic candidate, Edmund Muskie. He withdrew in tears, later to discover he had been sabotaged by Nixon, Liddy and company.

George Wallace was another matter. At the time he was shot, he was drawing 18% of the vote according to the polls, and most of that was in Nixon territory. The conservative states such as Indiana were going for Wallace. He was eating into Nixon's southern strength. In April the polls showed McGovern pulling a 41%, Nixon 41% and Wallace 18%. It was going to be too close for comfort, and it might be thrown into the House - in which case Nixon would surely lose. There was the option available of eliminating George McGovern, but then the Democrats might come up with Hubert Humphrey or someone else even more dangerous than McGovern. Nixon's best chance was a head-on contest with McGovern. Wallace had to go. Once the group made that decision, the Liddy team seemed to be the obvious group to carry it out. But how could it be done this time and still fool the people? Another patsy this time? O.K., but how about having him actually kill the Governor? The answer to that was an even deeper programming job than that done on Sirhan. This time they selected a man with a lower I.Q. level who could be hypnotized to really shoot someone, realize it later, and not know that he had been programmed. He would have to be a little wacky, unlike Oswald, Ruby or Ray.

Arthur Bremer was selected. The first contacts were made by people who knew both Bremer and Segretti in Milwaukee. They were members of a leftist organization planted there as provocateurs by the intelligence forces within the Power Control Group. One of them was a man named Dennis Cossini.

Bremer was programmed over a period of months. He was first set to track Nixon and then Wallace. When his hand held the gun in Laurel, Maryland, it might just as well have been in the hand of Donald Segretti, E. Howard Hunt, G. Gordon Liddy, Richard Helms, or Richard Nixon.

With Wallace's elimination from the race and McGovern's increasing popularity in the primaries, the only question remaining for the Power Control Group was whether McGovern had any real chance of winning. The polls all showed Wallace's vote going to Nixon and a resultant landslide victory. That, of course, is exactly what happened. It was never close enough to worry the Group very much. McGovern, on the other hand, was worried. By the time of the California primary he and his staff had learned enough about the conspiracies in the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King that they asked for increased Secret Service protection in Los Angeles.

If the Power Control Group had decided to kill Mr. McGovern the Secret Service would not have been able to stop it. However, they did not, because the election was a sure thing. They did try one more dirty trick. They revealed Thomas Eagleton's psychiatric problems, which reduced McGovern's odds considerably.

What evidence is there that Bremer's attempt on Wallace was a directed attempt by a conspiratorial group? Bremer himself has told his brother that others were involved and that he was paid by them. Researcher William Turner has turned up evidence in Milwaukee and surrounding towns in Wisconsin that Bremer received money from a group associated with Dennis Cassini, Donald Segretti and J. Timothy Gratz. Several other young "leftists" were seen with Bremer on several occasions in Milwaukee and on the ferry crossing at Lake Michigan.

The evidence shows that Bremer had a hidden source of income. He spent several times more than he earned or saved in the year before he shot at Wallace. Bremer's appearance on TV, in court and before witnesses resembled those of a man under hypnosis.

There is some evidence that more than one gun may have been fired with the second gun being located in the direction opposite to Bremer. Eleven wounds in the four victims that day exceeds the number that could have been caused by the five bullets Bremer fired. There is a problem in identifying all of the bullets found as having been fired from Bremer's gun. The trajectories of the wounds seem to be from two opposite directions. All of this - the hypnotic-like trance, the possibility of two guns being fired from in front and from behind, and the immediate conclusion that Bremer acted alone - sounds very much like the arrangement made for the Robert Kennedy assassination.

Another part of the evidence sounds like the King case. A lone blue Cadillac was seen speeding away from the scene of the shooting immediately afterward. It was reported on the police band radio and the police unsuccessfully chased it. The car had two men in it. The police and the FBI immediately shut off all accounts of that incident.

E. Howard Hunt testified before the Ervin Committee that Charles Colson had asked him to go to Bremer's apartment in Milwaukee as soon as the news about Bremer was available at the White House. Hunt never did say why he was supposed to go. Colson then said that he didn't tell Hunt to go, but that Hunt told him he was going. Colson's theory is that Hunt was part of a CIA conspiracy to get rid of Nixon and to do other dirty tricks.

Could Hunt and the Power Control Group have had in mind placing something in Bremer's apartment rather than taking something out? The "something" could have been Bremer's diary, which was later found in his car parked near the Laurel, Maryland parking lot. Hunt did not go to Milwaukee, because the FBI already had agents at the apartment. Perhaps Hunt or someone else went instead to Maryland and planted the diary in Bremer's car. One thing seems certain after a careful analysis of Bremer's diary in comparison to his grammar, spelling, etc., in his high school performances in English. Bremer didn't write the diary. Someone forged it, trying to make it sound like they thought Bremer would sound given his low IQ

One last item would clinch the conspiracy case if it were true. A rumor spread among researchers and the media that CBS-TV had discovered Bremer and G. Gordon Liddy together on two separate occasions in TV footage of Wallace rallies. In one TV sequence they were said to be walking together toward a camera in the background. CBS completely closed the lid on the subject.

The best source is obviously Bremer himself. However, no private citizen can get anywhere near him. Even if they could he might not talk if he had been programmed. Unless an expert deprogrammed him, his secret could be locked away in his brain, just like Sirhan's secret is locked within his mind.

(6) Gary Buell, Dennis Salvatore Cassini, International Education Forum (13th May, 2003)

This is from "The Wallace Contract and the Watergate Connection" by Si Ross (Jed Morse Press, 1974)

Mr. Ross gives as his sources:

Timothy Heinan, "Stopping the Conspiracy of Silence," Review of the News, Sept. 27, 1972

Timothy Heinan, "Watergate and the Shooting of Wallace," Review of the News, July 11, 1973.

Alan Stang, "Arthur Bremer, the Communist Plot to Kill George Wallace," American Opinion, October 1973

Alan Stang, "Watergators, Some Tracks in the Dismal Swamp," American Opinion, September 1973

"Review of the News" and "American Opinion" were both publications of The John Birch Society.

Here is a summary of the information in this book, particularly concerning Cossini.

Ross gives the name as Dennis Salvatore Cossini, alias Kushmann, alias Cuzman, alias Cousins.

Timothy Heinan was a student back in November 1968, who was recruited by the Milwaukee Police Department "Special Assignment Squad" to infiltrate the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). The leader of his local chapter of SDS was Mike Coffman.

In November 1968 Bremer was observed on at least 3 occassions at SDS meetings - Heinan later recognized Bremer from published photos. He later joined with Alan Stang of JBS to research the Wallace attempted assassination.

Michael McHale was general secretary of the Marquette SDS. He took over Arthur Bremer as his personal responsibility.

Michael D. Cullen, a member of the Milwaukee 13 who burned draft files, took Bremer under his wing

July 1971 Cullen met with Bremer at a Milwaukee bar. He referred to him by a code name of "the Dawn". The meeting was observed by a federal agent. Bremer overheard calling Wallace a "hate-monger." Cullen told Bremer that "being arrested is nothing to fear."

April 1972 Bremer seen with Cossini- appeared to be his boss. They were seen together by Earl S. Nunnery who ran the Milwaukee Stations of the C & O. Bremer told Cossini "I told you I know what to do."

Three separate agents identified Cossini as being connected to the CIA. Cossini was a member of the Weathermen, went to Cuba as a member of the Veceremos Brigade, was a member of the Mao-Communist Progressive Labor Party, a member of the Revolutionary Union.

Timothy Heinan noted that Cossini's ability to penetrate mutually exclusive groups is "typically the mark of an intelligence operative."

Less than 2 weeks after Stang began asking questions about Cossini he was found dead in a parked car in Toronto (not in the trunk). Overdose of heroin which he was never reported using. An undercover agent told Heinan "sombody have him a hot-shot." The body was picked up by 3 Americans believed to be CIA. On the body were draft cards under different aliases and a fake Wisconsin driver's license. Several phone numbers were found on the body. One was for John McLeary, a frequent California contact of Cossini. He died suddenly shortly thereafter.

A federal agent in Milwaukee received orders to remove every file which contained the name Dennis Cossini.

(7) Robert Charles-Dunne, Tim Gratz and Donald Segretti, International Education Forum (15th July, 2003)

Unable to find much more on Cassini than rumour and innuendo, I had all but dismissed him as an urban legend. Yet, I reasoned that if Turner was quoted accurately on the facts, then either Turner knew them to be true or had been told it was by somebody whose purpose is open to question.

In any event, by implying that Turner might have good reason to believe what Sprague cited, I in no way intend to suggest that you (Tim Gratz) had any involvement with Bremer. But, clearly, your name has been thrown into the milieu that allegedly surrounded Bremer, and I'd like to know for what purpose. If one takes careful note of the language employed, the contention is not that you associated with Bremer; only that "Bremer received money from a group associated with Dennis Cassini, Donald Segretti and J. Timothy Gratz." What "group" might that be?

[I've already suggested you may have been pre-emptively patsified by fellow Republicans. Based on your disclosure to Karl Rove, the CREEPs had good reason to think you posed a potential threat, particularly when a similar report arrived from New Hampshire, to which you alluded. By laying a false evidentiary trail that tied you to Bremer, no matter how tenuously, the Creeps could discredit you and whatever you chose to reveal about them and their other machinations....

I've heard nothing about Segretti going after Sprague in the courts, or Lisa Pease; I think you'd have far less concern than Sprague, et al, since you can reveal nothing more than you have thus far.

This doesn't mark the end of the road, however. A brief browse through some old tomes has raised some interesting questions, and may yet reveal a deep game which some suspected, but none has proved.

Segretti was recruited in June '71, by Nixon's appointments secretary Chapin, while the former was still in the service. Segretti began work for Nixon immediately, while still in the military. As you noted, Tim, Segretti and Chapin had been USC students together, along with Haldeman and a handful of others who ended up in the White House.

They were part of a USC political team called the Trojans, and indulged in all the stuff that would later make them famous: destroying opposition signs and pamphlets; the substitution of their own counterfeit pamphlets and fliers; stuffing ballot boxes; rigging the makeup of the student court, etc. When Chapin was tasked to find a recruiter of political espionage, Segretti naturally came to mind.

Unlike yourself, Tim, Segretti offered other of his initial recruits $150 per week, plus $75 per week for each assistant. (By the way, you were neither the first nor the only to decline Segretti's offer. That happened in the summer of '71 when Segretti approached a lawyer with whom he'd served in Viet Nam, and a half dozen more declined, that we know of, prior to Segretti's advances toward you.) Segretti seems to have approached lawyers and law students almost exclusively, always stipulating that nothing illegal was planned, before outlining schemes that weren't just illegal, but brazenly so, to the extreme. A requirement, Segretti told them, was the procurement of false ID, such as he used and such as was allegedly found upon Cassini's body, post-OD.

To give some indication of scope of the WH campaign: Wood-Stein reported in Oct. of '72 that FBI files indicated "at least 50 undercover Nixon operatives traveled throughout the country trying to disrupt and spy on Democratic campaigns." It has since been established that there is no mention of this number of "Nixon operatives" in any known FBI Watergate-related file. (An odd mistake for Mark Felt to make, as FBI's Number Two, assuming he was Deep Throat).

However, we have a common sense reason to suspect it may nevertheless be true. Tim Gratz of our forum met two such men, Donald Segretti and Ken Reitz, while Tim was a muckety-muck in the Young Republican movement. Just how many such operatives must there have been roaming the country if a single Young Republican can encounter two such recruiters for dirty tricks while working in a state of lesser importance to the WH?

Long story short: A phone call from a New Hampshire Republican campaign factotum to CREEP inquiring about a "Donald Simmons" aroused suspicion (either before or after Tim's similar call had the same result.) In turn, Magruder learned that Simmons was Segretti, and was Chapin's man.

Subsequently, responsibility for running Segretti was moved from Chapin to E. Howard Hunt , using the alias Ed Warren, who received weekly updates from Segretti in a public place across the street from Hunt's office. Segretti only learned that Ed Warren was actually Hunt upon seeing newspaper photos after Hunt's arrest as a WH burglar. Segretti admitted that Hunt "scared" him, no doubt more so once Segretti learned his true identity, ex-CIA, and all.

This is where the tale may take on a darker hue than mere campaign pranks. It is while Segretti was demonstrably under Hunt's control that Segretti is allegedly seen in the company of Arthur Bremer. If it seems too fantastic that Hunt's little Ratf***** was dispatched for such a purpose, we should recall that Nixon lawyer Chuck Colson, immediately after the attempted assassination of Wallace, instructed Hunt to break into Bremer's apartment and plant false evidence to implicate somebody other than the Republicans. This seemed a rather odd concern.