James DiEugenio first became interested in history while at film school. Later he studied Contemporary American History from California State University, Northridge.
His first book, Destiny Betrayed (1992) took a close look at the Jim Garrison investigation of the assassination of John F. Kennedy. In 1993, he became a co-founder of Citizens for Truth about the Kennedy Assassination. The following year he was co-founder of the Coalition on Political Assassinations (COPA).
DiEugenio and Lisa Pease co-edited COPA's journal, Probe Magazine (1993-2000). DiEugenio is also the co-editor of The Assassinations (2002), a book that covers the deaths of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Robert Kennedy, and Malcolm X.
According to some of the sources I have in Washington, some of the executive session transcripts of the Warren Commission have yet to be declassified. That was a couple of months ago. I don't know what the situation is now. But those are very important, because I think a lot of them -- the ones that were declassified since 1993 show that the Warren Commission had a problem. I don't know what Mr. Liebeler or Mr. Belin had to say about this, but the Warren Commission definitely had a problem with this single-bullet theory. And I think if you look at the transcript Mr. Rankin actually says it in those exact words. So if there are still executive session hearings that are not declassified yet, I think that they would have those kind of interesting tidbits bits in them which I think go right to the heart of the problem.
Also, the executive sessions of the House Select Committee should also be next on the agenda. And because these are some very interesting people like Richard Helms and James Angleton and Robert Maheu, that the public needs to look at. Also, all of the communications between Robert Blakey and his chief aid, Gary Cornwall, need to be declassified. These would be like, I imagine, the working papers going towards the final draft of the HSCA report. And if they aren't there then Mr. Cornwall and Mr. Blakey should be subpoenaed because they would most likely have them. I find it very hard to believe that they would just be destroyed. Any other documents that especially Mr. Cornwall took with him -- I don't think Mr. Blakey took anything with him because the last days of the Committee he was actually calling CIA and asking them to come over and give him documents. So Mr. Cornwall probably did take some stuff. I don't think Mr. Blakey did.
As time goes on, the figure of Clay Shaw becomes more and more fascinating, and even the official record on Clay shaw is incomplete. In 1967 the CIA answered a query by Ramsey Clark. In this communication they stated that they had -- that Mr. Shaw had filed 30 reports with the CIA as of a DCAS agent, Domestic Contacts. According to my sources at the Archives there's nine of those reports. What happened to the others? And if there is no written record is there any notation of any kind of oral communications.
Also, since JFK came out, the story about Clay Shaw being solely a Domestic Contact agent has completely collapsed. And we have Shaw working in some top secret projects like ZR Cliff and also something called QKENCHANT. And Victor Marchetti has since said that in his opinion if Shaw had a high covert security clearance, as it appears that he did, he was not working in DCS, he was probably working in DOD, Domestic Operations under Tracy Barns.
To figure that puzzle out the documentation on QKENCHANT needs to be thoroughly declassified and analyzed. And what makes this even more curious is, which is kind of ironic, we have the documentation of E. Howard Hunt's QKENCHANT clearance, that was declassified. And according to those documents that clearance went all the way up to the Director of Central Intelligence. So I don't understand why we don't have Shaw's documentation on his clearance. And after we have the documentation someone has to get more documents explaining what the purpose of this program was, and I wouldn't ask the CIA.
Staying with Clay Shaw. Shaw was also on the board of a mysterious trade organization called Permanex, and the CIA has a file on this in DDP. Which is interesting in itself because directorate of plans is an operational kind of organization. So I would like to get that declassified. The present state department cables on permanex are incomplete in two senses, in that the state department documents we have are redacted. And then they stop at 1959 although Permanex continued at least into 1965 in Rome and Johannesberg, and I find it hard to believe they would only have documents when it was in Switzerland. So I'd like to see that extended.
Also, on the intelligence, who seems to be very reluctant about cooperating with the Review Board, is supposed to have a file on Permanex, which would make sense since Shaw looks like he was an Army intelligence officer during World War II. So I would ask for both from Army intelligence, that is the file on Permanex and Shaw's military intelligence file. Only the military file was declassified to my knowledge.
About Lee Harvey Oswald. I strongly urge the Board to interview John Armstrong about some of his new discoveries about who, what or whatever Lee Harvey Oswald was because he's becoming a more and more complex kind of a figure.
The FBI seemingly knew about this and the Bureau attempted to cover up Oswald's espionage role with what looks like a forgery of the films -- the photos of the evidence discovered at the Paine household and taken over to the Dallas jail. And John has actual -- I mean, pretty undeniable evidence that this was the case. And of course this concerns the mysterious Minox Camera.
All the tax records on Lee Harvey Oswald, the ones that he filed and the W2s that were supposed to be filed by his employees, have to be collected in one place and analyzed. Armstrong has evidence that the W2 that was submitted is a false one. It was made up in 1964, which of course is impossible. And the overwhelming evidence that Oswald was an FBI informant is I think has gotten to a critical mass. So I would suggest that the Review Board depose James Hosty and Warren DeBrueyes. And I would use John Newman's book as a guide to question James Hosty. And I have some interesting letters that Mr. DeBrueyes wrote to the FBI when he was being called on to testify by the House Select Committee, which I think the Board should see if you don't have them already. He seems to be kind of nervous about a certain set of files that pertain to Lee Harvey Oswald. And DeBrueyes is important -- and I think he's still alive because I interviewed him in 1994 -- because he was the FBI's contact with the Cuban exiles in New Orleans, which from other witnesses that you've heard, is a pretty important connection. He was chosen by Hoover to do the FBI's first examination of the Kennedy assassination. And also it was DeBrueyes who after talking to Marina, it was him who figured out that Oswald shot General Walker. And his logic was, since Oswald shot Kennedy in the head and the shot of Walker was aimed at his head, they must have been the work of the same man.
Every single file on Ruth and Michael Paine has to be located and declassified in its total entirety. And there's a reason why Ruth Paine was asked more questions than anybody else by the Warren Commission. And there's a reason why there is no record of her being interviewed by the House Select Committee. There's evidence that Michael Paine bought a car for Oswald that he tried to apply the payments on. There's this Minox Camera controversy. The Paines had told differing stories about this Minox Camera over time and they don't coincide with each other.
And recently declassified FBI documents says there was an Oswald sighting in 1963 in Antioch, Ohio. That's where Ruth Paine attended college. Curiously the guy who stepped forward and said that wasn't Oswald, it was me, is a guy called Carl Hyde, this guy is Ruth Paine's brother. Then there's this mysterious surfacing of the third backyard photograph supposedly at a meeting between De Mohrenschildt and the Paines in 1965. And most analysts agree that it's this particular photograph that shows strong evidence that defers to was forgeries. Once files are declassified that refer to Michael Paine, they should be called in for depositions and try and explain these curious events and the different remarks they have made through time on this case.
In the declassified version of the Lopez report there is a reference in that report to a supposedly complimentary report that was supposed to be contained within it or right next to it, and when I interviewed Eddie Lopez on this point he thumbed through the report for a few seconds and said, "It's not here anymore." In fact, there's even a footnote in the note section of that report that is blanked out. It's not blacked out, it's blanked out. And Eddie said to me words to the effect, well, if I'd have been them I'd have taken it out also. The title to that report is, "Was Oswald an Agent of the CIA."
Robert Blakey should be asked about this particular point since he stayed on after most of the workers left and took part in rewriting the report and some of the volumes. And Robert Blakey is another guy I think he merits doing a deposition with if for nothing else his behavior about the Regis Blahut affair, which I'm sure most of you are aware of where a CIA liaison was caught with his prints on the autopsy photographs.
I would also like to try to get to the bottom of how Mr. Blakey got this job in the first place. If it turns out to be true that Chris Dodd played a role in this I think that is significant.
The Bay of Pigs first appeared to be a bizarre blunder than one author has termed it "A perfect failure." And as time goes on there's pieces of evidence that emerge from the record that indicate that there's elements of subterfuge to help insure it was a failure. And there's indications that some of these people that were involved in this deliberate botching of the Bay of Pigs also resurfaced at the time of the Kennedy assassination. So I think it's important that the Board get the top secret internal report on the Bay of Pigs. And I know someone who knows the author of that report and he's struggling with the CIA right now to get it declassified and I wouldn't -- I would urge you to try and subpoena it from him rather than struggle from the CIA over getting it.
Relating to that, there's a tape by a suspect who surfaced during the Garrison investigation. And this guy resurfaced during the House Select Committee. Two of this guy's interviews have been declassified. The audio tape itself has not yet been declassified according to my sources. Now, this tape is important because it's supposed to have been recorded during the polygraph examination, and during this polygraph examination he talks about a connecting point between the New Orleans and the Dallas parts of the conspiracy involving such people like Sergio Acachas Smith. Although that tape was made during the House Select Committee inquiry, the investigator, Lawrence Dulsa actually paid to have the polygraph examiner do it. So you might be able to simplify it since it was not paid for by government funds, that might be a point of getting it declassified as fast as possible. And in fact you might want to go back to the polygraph guy himself, he might have a copy of it.
There's another tape that is held by a private party. And this is an audio tape of another suspect, Loran Hall. And this was made during the time of the Garrison investigation when Hall was under intense pressure and being actually harassed and some people say physically harassed to stop him from talking. At this time Hall went to this guy and presented him an audio tape. And he said, keep this in case anything happens to me and then release it to the press if something does. Well nothing happened to Loran Hall and this man still has the audio tape, which he says he has never listened to. So I strongly suggest that you subpoena that and get that in the National Archives.
And I hope some day that the Board actually get into the National Security Agency because I think -- I would like to see all the files on Walter Sheridan who is supposed to have been a counter-intelligence chief at the NSA and who was a chief obstructionist at the time of the Garrison investigation.
The Board has the HSCA transcript of the Shaw trial. But according to what I've looked at, there are still witness' testimony that you don't have and that's because these were recorded in stenographic notes. The stenographic notes are not part of the record or else the Board has not had them transcribed yet. If you don't have the stenographic notes then I think you should send Mr. Montague down to Miss Helen Dietrich's son down in New Orleans who probably still has the stenographic notes and those should become a part of the record.
I don't have to tell the Board that Guy Banister is an important figure in all this intrigue. There's two leads outstanding pertaining to Guy Banister's files. One is a man named Allen Campbell who is a former employ of Guy Banister who is still alive and who recently moved from New Orleans to California. His brother Dan Campbell told me that Allen actually has some of the original files removed from Banister's office at 544 Camp Street. And also Ed Hazland relates that in his book he was actually shown these files by Ed Butler down in New Orleans when Butler and Al Knoxer, Jr. were part of the contra-resupply effort going to New Orleans in the 1980s. So I would strongly suggest that you subpoena both of those people to see if they still have any of these files. Dan Campbell told me Allen still has them, and Allen Campbell confirmed this with me in an interview I did with him in 1994.
In a recent memo found in the Garrison's files it's revealed that William Walter, a former employee of the FBI, told Garrison in 1973 that the FBI through Wackenhut, the Metropolitan Crime Commission and Aaron Kohn, had wire tapped his office.
Listening to the media accompaniment surrounding the release of Gerald Posner's 600 page volume Case Closed, one was reminded of the trumpet blare which sounded when the Warren Report was released 29 years ago. Reading U.S. News and World Report, a usually staid and reserved publication, one would have expected an investigatory effort worthy of Scotland Yard or the Mossad. What emerges after all the sound and fury is an effort more comparable to the Dallas or Los Angeles Police Departments.
Before getting to the main focus of this essay, one needs to comment on some general matters regarding Mr. Posner and his book. Reportedly, like John McCloy and Allen Dulles, Mr. Posner is a Wall Street lawyer. Based on three interviews with sources who read his previous book on Mengele, Posner whitewashed that notorious Nazi's ties to the Hitler regime before his McCloy-aided escape to South America after World War II. This may help explain Posner's quite questionable use of sources.
About the first half of Case Closed deals exclusively with the life and careers of Lee Oswald. Like the Warren Commission and the five volume FBI report on the assassination, Posner's focus is on Oswald and it is in extreme close-up since it is always easier to portray, a man as a lone nut if you draw him in a virtual vacuum. But to rig the apparatus even further, Posner uses the most specious witnesses imaginable in his single-minded prosecutorial proceeding. Scanning his footnotes for the first ten chapters, a rough approximation would estimate that about 75% of them originate from the Warren Commission volumes. In turn, many of these citings come from the testimony of Marina Oswald who, as lawyer Posner must know, could not have testified at Oswald's trial. Also, Posner never reveals to the reader how Marina was abducted and then stowed away at the Inn of the Six Flags Hotel and how she was virtually quarantined while she was being threatened with deportation. Posner never points out any of the problems and inconsistencies with her Warren Commission testimony, which even some of the Commission members had reservations about, and which a skillful defense lawyer would be able to exploit to great advantage. If that were not enough, Posner quotes liberally from the testimony of both Ruth Paine and George DeMohrenschildt, two people who - to say the least - have questionable motives in this case and both of whom have direct and indirect ties to the CIA. Again, Posner ignores those ties and actually states that DeMohrenschildt had no connection to American intelligence (p. 86), when the CIA admitted those connections over 15 years ago. Posner also uses Oswald's "Historic Diary" against him when everyone, even Edward Epstein, admits that it was not a "diary" at all, but was composed in 2 or 3 installments, probably as part of Oswald's cover as an espionage agent. Finally, Posner quotes liberally from the work of Priscilla Johnson McMillan, the newspaper correspondent who interviewed Oswald in Russia, then helped the Warren Commission find Oswald's tickets to Mexico after the FBI could not. She then locked up Marina Oswald for 13 years with a book contract until Marina and Lee, the mother of all "Oswald-did-it" books appeared in 1977. The working papers of staff lawyer David Slawson reveal that even the Warren Commission suspected Ms. McMillan had ties to the CIA.
This is all prelude to what the author does when his book reaches the locale of New Orleans. Posner seems all too aware that the city and Oswald's actions there in the summer of 1963 pose a serious threat to the main thesis of his book. Perhaps this is why his bibliography lists all of Harold Weisberg's books except Oswald in New Orleans. For to admit that Oswald was associating with clandestine operatives like Clay Shaw, David Ferrie and Guy Banister poses a big problem for a man intent on painting Oswald as a demented communist zealot. Consequently, Posner shifts into a denial mode and sustains it by any means necessary. For instance, Posner begins Chapter 7 by stating that, according to Marina, Oswald was home early every evening for the couple's entire stay in New Orleans. Posner has often stated that he had access to the late Jim Garrison's files. If he did he would have found out that Oswald stayed overnight on more than one occasion in a room adjacent to the French Quarter restaurant "The Court of the Two Sisters". The room was arranged by a mutual friend of Shaw and Ferrie. Posner mentions that Oswald worked at Reily Coffee Company while in New Orleans but leaves out the facts of the Reily family's connections to Cuban exile groups and the peculiar coincidence of Oswald's colleagues being transferred from Reily to the NASA complex at nearby Michaud Air Force Base. Posner states that Oswald's expenditures of nearly $23.00 on pro-Castro leaflets was not exorbitant even though it was about 1/6 of what he was making per month. or the equivalent of a man making $3,000 per month spending about $500 on political flyers. On page 157, Posner writes that the altercation between Carlos Bringuier and Oswald on Canal Street in August of '63 and which resulted in Oswald's conspicuous arrest, was not staged. Yet he never asks the logical follow up question: if it was not staged then why did Oswald write about it days in advance? Of William Gaudet, one of the CIA agents who escorted Oswald off on his strange tour of Mexico, Posner writes that he had no relation to the case outside of being next to Oswald when in line to buy a tourist card for south of the border. He adds that Gaudet was a "newspaper editor". Posner does not write that the newspaper Gaudet edited was a right wing propaganda sheet about South American politics, that one of his reporting duties was supplying information to the CIA, that one of the men he worked for early in his career was a business associate of Shaw's, and that Gaudet has a virtually rent-free office in the International Trade Mart which was provided to him by Shaw.
Posner frequently uses character assassination when he finds testimony contrary to his thesis. Orest Pena had stated to Harold Weisberg that he had seen Oswald at his bar, the Habana. That tavern was a frequent watering hole for Ferrie, Bringuier, Shaw, and other militant Cuban exiles. Posner states (p. 167), that Pena recanted his story at his first FBI interview and vacillated before the Warren Commission. Posner does not state that Pena was visited by both Bringuier and FBI agent Warren DeBrueys and warned about his official testimony. Posner tries to finish off Pena by adding that he was later charged with managing prostitutes out of his establishment and was aided in his legal defense by "leading conspiracy buff Mark Lane." What he faiIs to add is that his legal problems come about after his testimony before the Warren Commission and that the charges were so weak they never came to trial.
Posner's most breathtaking balancing act relates to Oswald's relationship with Ferrie and Banister. On page 143, he states that the many Civil Air Patrol cadets who testified to Oswald being in Ferrie's CAP before he joined the Marines must be either mistaken or lying since Ferrie was thrown out of the CAP in the mid-fifties when Oswald was supposed to be in his unit. Posner's blinders keep him from telling the reader that, at this time, Ferrie formed his own CAP unit in Metairie and it was this unit that Oswald was a member of. This information is available in the invaluable Southern Research Company investigation of Ferrie commissioned by Eastern Airlines during his dismissal hearings. These papers are on file at the AARC. Posner states he spent many hours there. Did he skip the Ferrie file? On page 428, Posner states that "there was no evidence that connected Ferrie and Oswald". In Garrison's files it is revealed that Ferrie stated this himself to two people - Ray Broshears and Lou Ivon. He also told them he worked for the CIA. If Posner needs further evidence of the Ferrie-Oswald friendship he should ask Gus Russo who he credits in his acknowledgments. Russo found a photo of the two together from a friend who knew the pair in Ferrie's CAP.
Posner's efforts to keep Oswald away from 544 Camp Street have a touch of the ludicrous about them. He tries to discredit the reliability of every witness that places Oswald there: Delphine Roberts and her daughter, David Lewis, Jack Martin, Oswald himself and the HSCA. He portrays Roberts as off her rocker and says she now states she lied to Tony Summers in the late 70's about Oswald being in Banister's office. She says today that Summers gave her some money to appear on camera for a TV special and this is why she said what she did. Posner ignores the following: 1.) Roberts told her story to Summers before he even mentioned anything about a payment 2.) On her own and without any promise of money, Roberts told essentially the same story to Earl Golz of the Dallas Morning News in a story that ran in December of 1978 3.) Her story about seeing a "communist" outside the office leafletting the area, telling Banister, and him laughing and saying that he was one of them is partly corroborated by an interview with a third party in Banister's office at the time. Again this is in the Garrison files that Posner says he had access to.
In his desperation to discredit anyone associated with either the Garrison or HSCA investigation of the New Orleans part of the conspiracy, Posner occasionally winds up swinging at air. On page 138, he writes that Gaeton Fonzi was the HSCA investigator on the issues of Banister, 544 Camp Street, and David Ferrie. He smears Fonzi and the validity of these reports by saying "he was a committed believer in a conspiracy." Fonzi's name does appear on the reports in Volume X of the House Select Committee appendices. But in those reports related to the New Orleans part of the investigation his name appears along with the names of Pat Orr and Liz Palmer. If Posner would have talked to any of these people before smearing Fonzi, he would have found out that Fonzi only edited the New Orleans reports. Orr and Palmer did the actual field investigations and original writing in these sections, something that Fonzi has no problem telling anyone. I know of no books, articles or interviews by Orr or Palmer which would show them to be a "committed believer in a conspiracy." In fact, both have reputations for reserved judgment and objectivity.
Posner's depiction of the Clinton episode in the late summer of 1963 and which connects Shaw, Ferrie and Oswald epitomizes his stilted, fundamentally dishonest approach. He obtained some of the original memorandums made by the Garrison probe into the incident and attempts to show that since the eyewitness testimony does not jibe, then the witnesses are lying and therefore Garrison coached them into telling a coherent story at the trial. First, let us note that it is Posner in his section on Dealey Plaza writes that eyewitness testimony to the same event often differs (funny how his standards constantly shift). Second, I would like to know if Mr. Posner asked Shaw's attorneys - lrvin Dymond and Bill Wegmann - how they got these memos. But more to the point, Posner either doesn't know or doesn't think it important to inform the reader that the incident under discussion took place in two different towns. Oswald was first seen in Jackson, about 15 miles east of Clinton. Two of the witnesses who testified at the Shaw trial saw Oswald, or a double, in Jackson and in a different car than the one that appeared in Clinton later. Henry Palmer, one of the witnesses who talked to Oswald in Clinton - and it was Oswald there - interviewed him away from the voter ralIy - and did not get a good look at the car which contained Shaw and Ferrie. Oswald's last appearance in the area was at the hospital back in Jackson where two personnel secretaries took his application for a job.
What Posner does with all this is worthy of a cardsharp. By implying that all the elements - the car, the passengers, the rally, the witnesses - are in one place at one time, he tries to cast doubt on the witnesses and aspersions on Garrison's use of them. It would be the equivalent of having a couple drive a different car into a service station, having a different car leave and go to another station, and then the original car returns with only the husband driving. Would we expect the two sets of witnesses to see the same thing? On the contrary, if they did we would have doubts about them. If this tactic would have seemed effective, wouldn't Dymond and Wegmann have used it at the trial? Posner lists the transcript of the Shaw trial in his bibliography. If he really read it he would say that Dymond's cross-examination of these people was quite gentle, he barely touched them. And when he tried to get tough, it backfired.
Posner writes of Clay Shaw that no one knew him as Bertrand (pp. 430, 437). I have been about half way through Garrison's files and related FBI files. There are 11 different references to Shaw as Bertrand. Posner passes out the old chestnut about Shaw being only a lowly "contract" agent who "like thousands of other Americans" was interviewed by the Agency about his foreign travels (p. 448). Posner does not state that Shaw filed 30 reports with the CIA over a six year period, that this relationship likely extended beyond the time period recognized by the CIA; that Shaw's connections to the European front organizations Permindex and Centro Mondiale Commerciale are, to say the least, suspect, that in the August 1993 CIA release made available at the National Archives, a document reveals that Shaw had a covert clearance for a top secret CIA project codenamed QKENCHANT.
This is too long to explore other related matters that Posner mangles. But let me briefly mention three of the "mysterious deaths" that Posner tries to set us straight on. On page 496, Posner insinuates that the death of Mary Sherman was neither mysterious nor relevant and that "she was killed in an accidental fire." Like John Davis, he lists the year of her death as 1967. Mary Sherman died on July 21, 1964, the same day that the Warren Commission began taking testimony in New Orleans. Posner could have checked the local newspapers on this because her death made headline news for days after. To this day her case is listed as an unsolved murder by the New Orleans police. There was a small fire in her apartment and some smoke, but they were certainly not the cause of death. Her severed arm probably had more to do with it; along with her discarded yet blood-drenched gloves (think about that one), and also the hack marks made from a butcher knife on her torso. In the same section, Posner writes that there is no source for the claim that Gary Underhill was a former CIA agent, and "no corroboration that he ever said there was CIA complicity in the assassination." I hate to plug my own work, but in Destiny Betrayed, Posner would have learned there are several sources for Underhill's wartime OSS career and his later CIA consulting status, including Underhill himself. As for his accusations about the CIA and the murder of JFK, he related them quite vividly to his friend Charlene Fitsimmons within 24 hours of the shooting. She then forwarded a letter to Jim Garrison relating the incident in detail. On the same page in which he discusses the Underhill case, Posner describes the murder of Mary Meyer in two sentences: "Mary Meyer (murdered) was allegedly one of JFK's mistresses. Except for her reported liaison with the President, she was not associated with any aspect of the case." Posner does not include Katherine the Great by Deborah Davis in his bibliography. If he would have read it he would have learned that Mary Meyer had been married to former CIA counterintelligence officer Cord Meyer. That several acquaintances stated that Kennedy was quite taken with the pretty and bright Meyer. And that since she had been married to a CIA officer, he confided in her about his plans to reorganize the Agency in his second term. When she died, Mary's former brother-in-law, and CIA asset Ben Bradlee opened her apartment to CIA counterintelligence chief James Angleton and he pilfered the diary in which Mary reportedly recorded Kennedy's future reorgainization plans. Needless to say, the poor wretch accused of her murder was acquitted on weak evidence.
I have only dealt with a small part of Posner's work I am sure if other specialists critiqued it they could come up with similar summaries in other fields of evidence. Suffice it to say that when an author evinces these kinds of tendencies, all exculpative of the CIA, all incriminating of Oswald, one has the right to question his bona fides. Posner is this year's version of the Breo and Lundberg show. And again the media has heralded him without a critical eye. Upon scrutiny, his work, like JAMA's is revealed to be a sham, maybe worse. And as with JAMA, two people are contemplating lawsuits against Random House and Mr. Posner. No doubt, the press will ignore the progress and revelations of those lawsuits.
For the rest of us, the ones who care enough to be serious, the struggle to reopen this case continues. No matter how many Moores, Breos, and Posners come down the trail, we must never lose sight of that aim. Perhaps then we can swear in Mr. Posner and ask him who exactly were the CIA confidential sources he consulted and why - 30 years after the fact - they still demand anonymity.
Thankfully, the Assassination Records Review Board has declassified many of the files of the House Select Committee on Assassinations. This process is ongoing as it winds down to its termination date of October 1, 1998. But there is quite enough now available to begin to get an accurate gauge on the performance of that committee, more specifically the record of its controversial second Chief Counsel, G. Robert Blakey...
This essay will not pretend to be the comprehensive history and analysis that now cries outscreamsto be done on the HSCA. It is written as a stepping stone, an indication of what could and should be written on that topic. In the immediate aftermath of the release of the HSCA Final Report in 1979, two books were being written that proposed to perform this critical analysis. One, to be written by Ted Gandolfo, to my knowledge, never got past the unpublished manuscript stage. Another book, Beyond Conspiracy, an anthology by Peter Scott, Russell Stetler, Paul Hoch, and Josiah Thompson, progressed further toward publication than Gandolfos. This too was never published. And from the version of the volume I have, it does not take on the function of critical analysis that Mark Lane or Sylvia Meagher did in the previous decade. In fact, the tone is not really critical at all. This can be seen by reading Thompsons discussion of the HSCAs version of the single bullet theory. This celebrated critic actually seems to accept what he was so skeptical about in his 1967 Warren Commission critique, Six Seconds in Dallas. As we shall see in part two of this essay, Blakeys version of the magic bullet theory is, in some ways, even more strained than the Warren Commissions.
In the wake of the HSCA Final Report, finally issued in the summer of 1979, there were three books published on the JFK case in 1980 and 1981. David Lifton released Best Evidence, Anthony Summers authored Conspiracy, and Blakey (with co-author Dick Billings) wrote The Plot to Kill the President. Both Summers and Lifton seemed to take their cues from Blakeys post press conference press conference. After the Final Report was issued, Blakey called his own press conference to say that although the HSCA had come up with a finding of "probable conspiracy" without pointing the finger directly at any one, he knew that the real culprit was the Mob. His book, published by a subsidiary of the New York Times, reiterated that verdict in (unconvincing) detail. In the books preface, Blakey again stated that "the evidence . . . established that organized crime was behind the plot to kill John F. Kennedy." Although the Lifton and Summers books discuss the HSCA, they are in no way rigorous anlayses of that body. In fact, both books rely on some of the information published by the HSCA and both writers were privy to leaks since they had contacts inside the committee. With the benefit of hindsight, this has proven to be at least a partly questionable practice. As HSCA investigator Gaeton Fonzi once told me, the HSCA was so compartmentalized that only those people at the top really knew what the entire body was doing. These would include Blakey, his deputy on the JFK side, Gary Cornwell, and the Final Reports co-author, Billings. Relying on informants inside the committee only gave these writers a glimpse of the gestalt. With the release of the raw files of the HSCA, it seems that both Summers and Lifton were too deferential to certain important aspects of the HSCA, a point to which we will return. (An interesting sidelight should be noted at this point. Nearly all the authors mentioned thus far - Summers, Scott, Hoch, Lifton - have all been muted in their criticism of Blakey. Yet, when the subject of Jim Garrison is brought up, they have no problem venting their spleens at length on the late DA.)
As noted earlier, Jim Truitt gave this curious tale its first public airing in 1976, on the heels of the Church Committee. From there, the Washington Post (under Bradlee) picked it up. There had been an apparent falling out between Truitt and Bradlee, and Truitt said that he wanted to show that Bradlee was not the crusader for truth that Watergate or his book on Kennedy had made him out to be. In the National Enquirer, Truitt stated that Mary had revealed her affair with Kennedy while she was alive to he and his wife. He then went further. In one of their romps in the White House, Mary had offered Kennedy a couple of marijuana joints, but coke-sniffer Kennedy said, "This isn't like cocaine. I'll get you some of that."
The chemical addition to the story was later picked up by drug guru Tim Leary in his book, Flashbacks. Exner-like, the angle grew appendages. Leary went beyond grass and cocaine. According to Leary, Mary Meyer was consulting with him about how to conduct acid sessions and how to get psychedelic drugs in 1962. Leary met her on several occasions and she said that she and a small circle of friends had turned on several times. She also had one other friend who was "a very important man" whom she also wanted to turn on. After Kennedy's assassination, Mary called Leary and met with him. She was cryptic but she did say, "They couldn't control him any more. He was changing too fast. He was learning too much." The implication being that a "turned on" JFK was behind the moves toward peace in 1963. Leary learned about Meyer's murder in 1965, but did not pull it all together until the 1976 Jim Truitt disclosure. With Leary, the end (for now) of the Meyer story paints JFK as the total '60s swinger: pot, coke, acid, women, and unbeknownst to Kennedy, Leary has fulfilled his own fantasy by being Kennedy's guide on his magical mystery tour toward peace.
But there is a big problem with Leary, his story, and those who use it (like biographers David Horowitz and Peter Collier). Leary did not mention Mary in any of his books until Flashbacks in 1983, more than two decades after he met Mary. It's not like he did not have the opportunity to do so. Leary was a prolific author who got almost anything he wanted published. He appears to have published over 40 books. Of those, at least 25 were published between 1962, when he says he met Mary, and 1983, when he first mentions her. Some of these books are month-to-month chronicles, e.g., High Priest. I could not find Mary mentioned, even vaguely, in any of the books. This is improbable considering the vivid, unforgettable portrait that Leary drew in 1983. This striking-looking woman walks in unannounced, mentions her powerful friends in Washington, and later starts dumping out the CIA's secret operations to control American elections to him. Leary, who mentioned many of those he turned on throughout his books, and thanks those who believed in him, deemed this unimportant. That is, until the 20th anniversary of JFK's death. (Which is when Rosenbaum wrote his ugly satire on the Kennedy research community for Texas Monthly, which in turn got him a guest spot on Nightline.) This is also when Leary began hooking up with Gordon Liddy, doing carnival-type debates across college campuses, an act which managed to rehabilitate both of them and put them back in the public eye.
With his book Brothers David Talbot has improved as a commentator on both the Kennedy presidency and JFK's assassination. For those unfamiliar with Talbot's earlier foray into the field, let me provide some background.
On March 29,1992, on the eve of the Oscar presentations, Talbot wrote an article on the film JFK for a periodical he edited called Image Magazine, published by the San Francisco Examiner. In the first paragraph (p. 17) he ridiculed Stone's thesis -- that Kennedy was cut down by those in government who were opposed to his goals of peace and social justice-- as a "story" that "Stone and company" were peddling (he mentioned others in the "company" as Mark Lane and Jim Garrison). He then offered up an alternative view of the assassination that he wrote "has been quietly gaining credibility. According to this school of thought, Jack Kennedy met a violent end because he was as much a prince of darkness as he was of light." (Ibid) He then spent seven pages offering up what was basically the idea behind that ridiculous book Double Cross: that far from being an enemy of the Mob, " John Kennedy's links with the underworld are well-established." But this did not stop him from "unleashing his brother ... to hound the godfathers of organized crime ... The supremely confident Jack Kennedy thought he could have it both ways. He couldn't, and he paid the ultimate price for his hubris." (p. 18) Talbot knew a guy who was savvy about the case and would steer his readers straight. His name was Robert Blakey and his book Fatal Hour presented " a compelling case for a darker interpretation of Camelot." (Ibid) He also had another talismanic book in hand. It was on Marilyn Monroe and her death: Goddess by Anthony Summers. ( In deference to Summers, part of the article included a defense of the Warren Commission.) Talbot also praised Mafia Kingfish by John Davis and described the three mentioned books as "careful and thorough" and "of a far higher grade than that of the wild-eyed theorists who are grabbing the spotlight." Just when you thought the piece could not get any worse, it did. Talbot has "intriguing new evidence", the claims of Mafia lawyer Frank Ragano:
Blakey ... says flatly, "I believe Frank Ragano. He was in a position to know." Investigative journalist Dan Moldea, whose 1978 book on Hoffa was the first to draw a link between organized crime and the assassination, says, "The Ragano story is the most important breakthrough on the case since the House report." (p. 23)
About John Newman's then important new work on JFK's intent to withdraw from Vietnam and Stone's use of it, Talbot quotes Summers thusly: "There is as much evidence that JFK was shot because of his Vietnam policy as that he was done in by a jealous mistress with a bow and arrow."(p. 24) Blakey further contravenes Stone by saying that both the CIA and FBI "loved Jack Kennedy" since many were Irish Catholics.
I am not misrepresenting the piece in any way. Quite the contrary. Talbot even gave space to two of the very worst and dishonest Kennedy chroniclers, namely Ron Rosenbaum and Thomas Reeves. But the good news is that in Brothers Talbot has largely reversed field. Today he criticizes people who write like he formerly did about the Kennedys, e.g. Christopher Hitchens. But the bad news is that he can't quite go the last yard. He can't quite let go of some of the empty baggage above. And this mars the good work in the volume.
There is someone else who is relentlessly pushing the Meyer-as-mysterious-death story. Jon Simkin runs a web site with a JFK forum on it. It is hard to figure out his basic ideas about President Kennedy's assassination. But if you look at some of his longer and more esoteric posts, they seem to suggest some vast, polyglot Grand Conspiracy. He calls it the Suite 8F Group -- which resembles the Texas based "Committee" from Farewell America. And when he discusses it, he actually uses the Torbitt Document as a reference. In a long post he made on 1/28/05 (4:51 PM) he offers an interpretation of Operation Mockingbird that can only be called bizarre. He actually tries to say that people like Frank Wisner, Joe Alsop, and Paul Nitze (who he calls members of the Georgetown Crowd), were both intellectuals and lefties who thought that -- get this -- FDR did not go far enough with his New Deal policies. (One step further, and the USA would have been a socialist country.) At another point, he writes " ... the Georgetown Group were idealists who really believed in freedom and democracy." This is right after he has described their work in the brutal Guatemala coup of 1954, which featured the famous CIA "death lists". He then says that Eisenhower had been a "great disappointment" to them. This is the man who made "Mr. Georgetown" i.e. Allen Dulles the CIA director and gave him a blank check, and his brother John Foster Dulles Sec. of State and allowed him to advocate things like brinksmanship and rollback. He then claims that JFK, not Nixon, was the Georgetown Crowd's candidate in 1960. Allegedly, this is based on his foreign policy and his anti-communism. Kennedy is the man who warned against helping French colonialism in Algeria in 1957. Who said -- in 1954 -- that the French could never win in Vietnam, and we should not aid them. Who railed against a concept that the Dulles brothers advocated, that is using atomic weapons to bail out the French at Dien Bien Phu. (Kennedy actually called this idea an act of lunacy). The notion is even more ridiculous when one considers the fact that, according to Howard Hunt, Nixon was the Action Officer in the White House for the CIA's next big covert operation: the Cuban exile invasion of Cuba. Which Kennedy aborted to their great dismay. Further, if Kennedy was the Georgetown Crowd's candidate for years, why did the CIA put together a dossier analysis, including a psychological profile of JFK, after he was elected? As Jim Garrison writes, "Its purpose ... was to predict the likely positions Kennedy would take if particular sets of conditions arose." (On the Trail of the Assassins, p. 60) Yet, according to Simkin, they already knew that. That's why they backed him. At the end of this breathtaking post, he advocates for a Suite 8F Group and Georgetown Crowd Grand Conspiracy (i.e. somewhat like Torbitt), or a lower level CIA plot with people like Dave Morales, Howard Hunt, and Rip Robertson (a rogue operation). Mockingbird was unleashed on 11/22/63 not because the CIA was involved in the assassination -- oh no -- but to cover up for the Georgetown/Suite 8F guys, or a renegade type conspiracy....
When I reviewed David Talbot's book Brothers, I criticized his section on Mary Meyer. Someone posted a link to my review on Simkin's forum. Simkin went after my critique of Talbot's Meyer section tooth and nail. (I should add here that Simkin has a long history of doing this. He goes after people who disagree with him on Meyer with a Bill O'Reilly type intensity. Almost as if he is trying to beat down any further public disagreement about his view of what happened to her.) In my review I simply stated that Talbot had taken at face value people who did not deserve to be trusted. And I specifically named Timothy Leary, James Truitt, James Angleton, and David Heymann. And I was quite clear about why they were not credible. At this time, I was not aware of an important fact: it was Simkin who had lobbied Talbot to place the Mary Meyer stuff in the book. Further, that he got Talbot in contact with a guy who he was also about to use to counter me. His name is Peter Janney...
Looking at the line of cover up and subterfuge above poses an obvious question: Why would one spend so much time confusing and concealing something if one was not involved in it? (Or, as Harry Truman noted in another context: How many times do you have to get knocked down before you realize who's hitting you?) In my view, the Meyer story fits perfectly into the above framework. Angleton started it through his friend Truitt in 1976. And then either he had Leary extend it, or Leary did that on his own for pecuniary measures in 1983. Angleton meant it as a character assassination device. But now, luckily for him, Simkin and Janney extend it to the actual assassination itself: The Suite 8F Group meets Mary and the UFO's.
James Angleton was good at his job, much of which consisted of camouflaging the JFK assassination. He doesn't need anyone today giving him posthumous help.
It is true that I do believe that Mary Pinchot Meyer is a “mysterious-death story”. If I am guilty of “relentlessly pushing” this story, I am also guilty of doing the same for a whole range of suspicious deaths. I doubt if 1% of my posts on this forum have dealt with the subject of Meyer.
I have my doubts about how much time he has spent reading my posts as he still does not know how to spell my name.
It is true that I have spent a fair amount of time investigating the Suite 8F Group - in my opinion, a much under-researched group. My main interest in this group concerns its involvement in the Military Industrial Congressional Complex. The founders of this group, George Brown and Herman Brown were the owners of Brown & Root, the company that later evolved into Halliburton. Members of the Suite 8F Group were financial supporters of Lyndon Johnson since 1937. They were totally opposed to JFK’s proposal to tackle the oil deprecation allowance and the issue of civil rights. They also hoped to make their fortunes from a war in Vietnam. Thanks to LBJ they did. I have suggested that members of the Suite 8F Group might have sponsored the assassination of JFK. I have included what little evidence I have on my page on the Suite 8F group and the pages on the individual members of the group.
As you can see, I make little use of the William Torbitt document (Nomenclature of an Assassination Cabal). According to Jim Marrs the document was written by a lawyer named David Copeland. It does include a lot of dubious information. However, it does include some important details about people like Bobby Baker, George Smathers, Fred Black, Grant Stockdale, Lewis McWillie and Fred Korth. For example, his information about the relationship between Grant Stockdale and Bobby Baker has since been discovered to be true. Further research has shown that the death of Grant Stockdale on 2nd December, 1963, after his visit to see Robert and Edward Kennedy, might well have been related to the assassination...
James DiEugenio is not putting my comments in any historical context. Several members of the “Georgetown Crowd” were on the left during the 1930s. In some cases, they accepted the arguments of the American Communist Party who felt the FDR did not go far enough with his New Deal policies.
Like many left-wing intellectuals, Wisner, etc. became very hostile to communism because of their experiences during the Second World War. In Wisner’s case it was his work with the OSS that revealed the way Stalin manipulated events in Eastern Europe in 1945. Like most liberals, Wisner was horrified by the way that the Allies betrayed the people of Eastern Europe by allowing them to be transferred from a fascistic dictatorship to one run by someone who called himself a communist.
It is my understanding that most of the leaders of the CIA when it was formed in 1947 still held liberal opinions on domestic subjects. However, as a result of their experiences during the war they were passionately anti-communist. They also believed in democracy but their crusade against communism took over completely and by 1954 they fully supported the overthrow of a democratically elected government in Guatemala because it was not considered anti-communist enough.
I think I should define what I mean by the Georgetown Set. This was a group of journalists, politicians and government officials based in the Georgetown area of Washington who used to get together at parties to discuss politics. This included Frank Wisner, George Kennan, Dean Acheson, Richard Bissell, Desmond FitzGerald, Joe Alsop, Stewart Alsop, Tracy Barnes, Tom Braden, Philip Graham, David Bruce, Clark Clifford, Walt Rostow, Eugene Rostow, Chip Bohlen, Cord Meyer, James Angleton, William Averill Harriman, Felix Frankfurter, John Sherman Cooper, James Reston, Charles Thayer, Allen W. Dulles and Paul Nitze. Most were supporters of the Democratic Party but some, like Cooper was a Republican.
Most men brought their wives to these gatherings. Members of what was later called the Georgetown Ladies' Social Club included Katharine Graham, Mary Pinchot Meyer, Sally Reston, Polly Wisner, Joan Braden, Lorraine Cooper, Evangeline Bruce, Avis Bohlen, Janet Barnes, Tish Alsop, Cynthia Helms, Marietta FitzGerald, Phyllis Nitze and Annie Bissell.
The Georgetown Set included several senior members of the CIA. For example, Frank Wisner, Richard Bissell, Desmond FitzGerald, Tracy Barnes, Tom Braden, Cord Meyer, James Angleton and Allen W. Dulles.
The Republicans saw the CIA as being under the control of the Democratic Party. This included J. Edgar Hoover who in 1953 described Frank Wisner’s Office of Policy Coordination (OPC) as "Wisner's gang of weirdos" and began carrying out investigations into their past. It did not take him long to discover that some of them had been active in left-wing politics in the 1930s. This information was passed to Joseph McCarthy who started making attacks on members of the OPC. Hoover also passed to McCarthy details of an affair that Wisner had with Princess Caradja in Romania during the war. Hoover, claimed that Caradja was a Soviet agent.
Joseph McCarthy also began accusing other members of the Georgetown Crowd as being security risks. McCarthy claimed that the CIA was a "sinkhole of communists" and claimed he intended to root out a hundred of them. His first targets were Chip Bohlen and Charles Thayer. Bohlen survived but Thayer was forced to resign.
In August, 1953, Richard Helms, Wisner's deputy at the OPC, told Meyer that Joseph McCarthy had accused him of being a communist. The Federal Bureau of Investigation added to the smear by announcing it was unwilling to give Meyer "security clearance". However, the FBI refused to explain what evidence they had against Meyer. Allen W. Dulles and both came to his defence and refused to permit a FBI interrogation of Meyer.
The FBI eventually revealed the charges against Meyer. Apparently he was a member of several liberal groups considered to be subversive by the Justice Department. This included being a member of the National Council on the Arts, where he associated with Norman Thomas, the leader of the Socialist Party and its presidential candidate in 1948. It was also pointed out that his wife, Mary Meyer, was a former member of the American Labor Party. Meyer was eventually cleared of these charges and was allowed to keep his job.
Of course the CIA, like any organization, was divided by the merits of Kennedy and Nixon. Senior members who had dealings with Nixon found him unreliable and too pragmatic. Of course, they were right, as he was to show later with his policy towards China. As newspaper reports show at the time, JFK was seen as the one who was seen as more of a hard line cold warrior. Read his speeches where he attacks Eisenhower/Nixon for not removing Castro from power. Richard Bissell, also a member of the Georgetown Set, briefed JFK during the election about the CIA plot to remove Castro that had been operational since March 1960. However, JFK was free to attack Nixon for his inaction over Cuba as he was unable to publicly admit what was really going on.
Members of he Georgetown Set were mainly supporters of JFK over Nixon. That was due to social, political and partisan reasons. Interestingly, they were also keen that LBJ should become his running-mate. The idea was first suggested by Philip Graham of the Washington Post. Graham, the key figure in the CIA’s Operation Mockingbird, had been campaigning strongly for Johnson to get the nomination. However, when Graham arrived at the Democratic Party Convention in Los Angeles on 8th July, Johnson told him that Kennedy would win by a landslide. Graham then had a meeting with Robert Kennedy and was finally convinced that Johnson had indeed lost his race to be the presidential candidate.
According to Katharine Graham, her husband and Joe Alsop (another key member of the Georgetown Set), arranged a meeting with John Kennedy on 11th July. Alsop started the conversation with the following comment: “We’ve come to talk to you about the vice-presidency. Something may happen to you, and Symington is far too shallow a puddle for the United States to dive into.” Graham then explained the advantages that Johnson would “add to the ticket”. What is more, it would remove Johnson as leader of the Senate. (Katharine Graham, Personal History, pages 282-283).
Once in power, Kennedy appeared to support the foreign policy established by Dwight Eisenhower. The historian, David Kaiser, argues that Eisenhower’s policies “called for a military response to Communist aggression almost anywhere that it might occur”.
This policy began with the overthrow by the CIA of President Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán in Guatemala in the summer of 1954. According to one historian: “The Agency had learned a lesson from the Guatemalan revolution in the early 1950s, when a nationalist government expropriated the land and the public service enterprises of U.S. monopolies to the benefit of the peasants and the population in general. This experience gave rise to a program of infiltrating agents into countries convulsed by communist ideas.” (Fabian Escalante, CIA Covert Operations 1959-62: The Cuba Project, page 12)
In the final months of his administration, Eisenhower was mainly concerned with trying to overthrow the government of Fidel Castro in Cuba. He was also worried about events in Laos and Vietnam. However, Kaiser convincingly argues that Kennedy subtly changed foreign policy after he gained office. “Ironically, while Eisenhower’s supposedly cautious approach in foreign policy had frequently been contrasted with his successors’ apparent aggressiveness, Kennedy actually spent much of his term resisting policies developed and approved under Eisenhower, both in Southeast Asia and elsewhere. He also had to deal with the legacy of the Eisenhower administration’s disastrous attempts to create a pro-Western rather than a neutral government in Laos – a policy he quickly reversed, thereby avoiding the need for American military intervention there.” (David Kaiser, American Tragedy: Kennedy, Johnson and the Origins of the Vietnam War, page 2)
Kaiser admits that he the Kennedy administration did increase the number of American military personnel in South Vietnam from 600 in 1960 to 17,500 in 1963. However, although he sincerely wanted to help the South Vietnamese government cope with the Viet Cong he rejected war as a way to do so. Kennedy’s view of America’s involvement in Southeast Asia was expressed clearly at his first ever press conference. When asked about Laos he expressed his intentions to help create “a peaceful country – an independent country not dominated by either side but concerned with the life of the people within the country.” (Howard W. Chase and Allen H. Lerman, Kennedy and the Press: The News Conferences, page 25) This was a marked departure from Eisenhower’s policy of supporting anti-communist military dictatorships in Southeast Asia and the Americas.
This analysis of Kennedy’s foreign policy is supported by two of his most important aides, Kenneth P. O’Donnell and David F. Powers. In their book, Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ye: Memories of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, they describe how on 19th January, 1960, Eisenhower briefed Kennedy on “various important items of unfinished business”. This included news about “the rebel force that was being trained by the CIA in Guatemala to invade Cuba.” O’Donnell and Powers claimed that: “Eisenhower urged him to keep on supporting this plan to overthrow Castro. But Eisenhower talked mostly about Laos, which he then regarded as the most dangerous trouble spot in Southeast Asia. He mentioned South Vietnam only as one of the nations that would fall into the hands of the Communists if the United States failed to maintain the anti-Communist regime in Laos.” Kennedy was shocked by what Eisenhower told him. He later told his two aides: “There he sat, telling me to get ready to put ground forces into Asia, the thing he himself had been carefully avoiding for the last eight years.” (Kenneth P. O’Donnell & David F. Powers, Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ye: Memories of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, page 281-282)
Kennedy continued to resist all attempts to persuade him to send troops to Vietnam. His policy was reinforced by the Bay of Pigs operation. Kennedy told his assistant secretary of state, Roger Hilsman: “The Bay of Pigs has taught me a number of things. One is not to trust generals or the CIA, and the second is that if the American people do not want to use American troops to remove a Communist regime 90 miles away from our coast, how can I ask them to use troops to remove a Communist regime 9,000 miles away?
In April, 1962, Kennedy told McGeorge Bundy to “seize upon any favourable moment to reduce our involvement” in Vietnam. (Memorandum written by McGeorge Bundy’s aide, Michael Y. Forrestal, dated 26th April, 1962) In September, 1963, Robert Kennedy expressed similar views at a meeting of the National Security Council: “The first question was whether a Communist takeover could be successfully resisted with any government. If it could not, now was the time to get out of Vietnam entirely, rather than waiting.” (Roger Hilsman, To Move a Nation, page 501).
No wonder the CIA saw JFK as someone who betrayed them. JFK’s crime was to change his views on foreign policy while in power. He was indeed a hard-line cold war warrior in 1960, but he was very different by 1963. Ironically, JFK still had his reputation as a cold war warrior. This had been reinforced by the way the Cuban Missile Crisis was reported. Of course, the general public was not told about the secret agreement that JFK had made with the Soviets about the removal of missiles in Italy and Turkey.
For some reason DiEugenio objects to this passage from Heymann’s book. As he claims that Heymann is unreliable source I assume DiEugenio is suggesting that Carol Delaney never told him this or this interview with Cord Meyer never took place. Is Heymann so unreliable that he would have made up the contents of an interview? Why would he do this? He does not develop points raised in the interview. As I said before, the book is not about the assassination of JFK. Unless you knew a great deal about the case, you would not be aware of the significance of Cord Meyer’s comments. Even so, it is only Cord Meyer speculating about the death of his wife. Nor does he name the people who carried out the crime. However, if he is indeed referring to the CIA as being behind the deaths of JFK and Mary Meyer, this comment is very interesting. He is one of the few individuals within the CIA who might have known about the people behind the plot to kill JFK. Meyer knew that the CIA would not hesitate to arrange the death of someone if it suited their overall strategy.
In Nina Burleigh’s biography of Mary Pinchot Meyer she claims that the couple suspected that the CIA might have been behind the death of their son. At the time, Cord Meyer was very disillusioned with the work he was doing with the CIA and was trying to get a job in publishing. He discovered that the CIA was stopping him from getting another job. As he was the main figure running Operation Mockingbird at the time, the CIA was extremely worried about this proposed job change. After the death of his son he stopped looking for another job. It also marked the beginning of the end in their marriage. Cord and Mary shared the same political ideals when they met during the Second World War. By continuing to work for the CIA, Cord Meyer revealed to his wife he had sold out. Given this background, I think it is highly likely that Cord Meyer made these comments to Heymann and that it tells us something very important about the deaths of JFK and Mary Pinchot Meyer.
It was of course James Truitt who first broke the story about James Angleton and Ben Bradlee’s search and discovery of Mary Pinchot Meyer’s diary in October 1964. In March, 1976, James Truitt, a former senior member of staff at the Washington Post, gave an interview to the National Enquirer. Truitt told the newspaper that Meyer was having an affair with JFK when he was assassinated. He also claimed that Meyer had told his wife, Ann Truitt, that she was keeping an account of this relationship in her diary. Meyer asked Truitt to take possession of a private diary "if anything ever happened to me".
Ann Truitt was living in Tokyo at the time that Meyer was murdered on 12th October, 1964. She phoned Bradlee at his home and asked him if he had found the diary. Bradlee, who claimed he was unaware of his sister-in-law's affair with Kennedy, knew nothing about the diary.
Leo Damore claimed in an article that appeared in the New York Post that the reason Angleton and Bradlee were looking for the diary was that: "She (Meyer) had access to the highest levels. She was involved in illegal drug activity. What do you think it would do to the beatification of Kennedy if this woman said, 'It wasn't Camelot, it was Caligula's court'?" Damore also said that a figure close to the CIA had told him that Mary's death had been a professional "hit".
There is another possible reason why both Angleton and Bradlee were searching for documents in Meyer's house. Meyer had been married to Cord Meyer, a leading CIA operative involved in a variety of covert operations in the early 1950s. This included running Mockingbird, an operation that involved controlling the American press. Phil Graham, another former OSS officer, who owned the Washington Post, was brought into this operation by Frank Wisner, Meyer's boss. Graham committed suicide just before the death of JFK. Was the CIA worried that Meyer had kept a record of these activities? We do know that Mary disapproved of her husband’s covert activities and this was a major factor in the break-up of the marriage. Was this why Mary Pinochet Meyer had been murdered?
DiEugenio dismisses James Truitt as a unreliable source and cites the fact that he was upset with Ben Bradlee over his sacking in 1969. As part of his settlement he took $35,000 on the written condition that he did not write anything for publication about his experiences at the Washington Post that was "in any way derogatory" of the company. He clearly upset Bradlee by breaking that agreement with his story about how he and Angleton searched and found Meyer’s diary.
At first Bradlee and Angleton denied the story. Some of Mary's friends knew that the two men were lying about the diary and some spoke anonymously to other newspapers and magazines. Later that month Time Magazine published an article confirming Truitt's story. Antoinette Bradlee, who was now living apart from Ben Bradlee, admitted that her sister had been having an affair with JFK. Antoinette claimed she found the diary and letters a few days after her sister's death. It was claimed that the diary was in a metal box in Mary's studio. The contents of the box were given to James Angleton who claimed he burnt the diary. Bradlee and Angleton were now forced to admit that Truitt's story was accurate.
Bradlee later recalled what he did after Truitt's phone-call: "We didn't start looking until the next morning, when Tony and I walked around the corner a few blocks to Mary's house. It was locked, as we had expected, but when we got inside, we found Jim Angleton, and to our complete surprise he told us he, too, was looking for Mary's diary."
James Angleton, CIA counterintelligence chief, admitted that he knew of Mary's relationship with JFK and was searching her home looking for her diary and any letters that would reveal details of the affair. According to Ben Bradlee, it was Mary's sister, Antoinette Bradlee, who found the diary and letters a few days later. It was claimed that the diary was in a metal box in Mary's studio. The contents of the box were given to Angleton who claimed he burnt the diary. Angleton later admitted that Mary recorded in her diary that she had taken LSD with Kennedy before "they made love".
These confessions were very embarrassing for both Bradlee and Angleton. They were guilty of hiding importance evidence from police who were investigating a murder case. What is more, Angleton admitted destroying this evidence so we now only have his account of what this diary contained.
I am not sure what it is about Truitts’ account that James does not believe. In 1981 James Truitt committed suicide. According to Nina Burleigh (A Very Private Woman) Truitt's wife, Evelyn Patterson Truitt, claimed that her husband's papers, including copies of Mary's diary, had been stolen from the home by an CIA agent called Herbert Burrows.
Leo Damore, who worked on the Mary Pinchot Meyer story after Truitt’s story was published, committed suicide in 1995.
Ben Bradlee is still alive but I am sure he has no desire to talk about this story. Nor is he very keen to talk about his work for the CIA in the 1950s when he worked as assistant press attaché in the American embassy in Paris. In 1952 Bradlee joined the staff of the Office of U.S. Information and Educational Exchange (USIE), the embassy's propaganda unit. USIE produced films, magazines, research, speeches, and news items for use by the CIA throughout Europe. USIE (later known as USIA) also controlled the Voice of America, a means of disseminating pro-American "cultural information" worldwide. While at the USIE Bradlee worked with E. Howard Hunt.
According to a Justice Department memo from a assistant U.S. attorney in the Rosenberg Trial Bradlee was helping the CIA to manage European propaganda regarding the spying conviction and the execution of Ethel Rosenberg and Julius Rosenberg on 19th June, 1953.
Bradlee was officially employed by USIE until 1953, when he began working for Newsweek. While based in France, Bradlee divorced his first wife and married Antoinette Pinchot. At the time of the marriage, Antoinette's sister, Mary Pinchot Meyer, was married to Cord Meyer. Antoinette Bradlee was also a close friend of Cicely d'Autremont, who was married to James Angleton. Bradlee worked closely with Angleton in Paris. At the time Angleton was liaison for all Allied intelligence in Europe. His deputy was Richard Ober, a fellow student of Bradlee's at Harvard University.
Bradlee was very angry when this information appeared in Deborah Davis' book "Katharine the Great". Bradlee managed to persuade the publisher to withdraw the book. Another claim made by Davies was that Richard Ober, Bradlee’s CIA buddy, was “Deep Throat”. If that is the case, the Watergate story pushed by the Washington Post was nothing more than a CIA “limited hangout” operation.
Michael Paine did not just work at Bell Helicopter. He did not just have a security clearance there. His stepfather, Arthur Young, invented the Bell helicopter. His mother, Ruth Forbes Paine Young, was descended from the Boston Brahmin Forbes family -- one of the oldest in America. She was a close friend of Mary Bancroft. Mary Bancroft worked with Allen Dulles as a spy during World War II in Switzerland. This is where Dulles got many of his ideas on espionage, which he would incorporate as CIA Director under Eisenhower. Bancroft also became Dulles' friend and lover. She herself called Ruth Forbes, "a very good friend of mine." (p. 169) This may explain why, according to Walt Brown, the Paines were the most oft-questioned witnesses to appear before the Commission.
Ruth Paine's father was William Avery Hyde. Ruth described him before the Warren Commission as an insurance underwriter. (p. 170) But there was more to it than that. Just one month after the Warren Report was issued, Mr. Hyde received a three-year government contract from the Agency for International Development (AID). He became their regional adviser for all of Latin America. As was revealed in the seventies, AID was riddled with CIA operatives. To the point that some called it an extension of the Agency. Hyde's reports were forwarded both to the State Department and the CIA. (Ibid)
Ruth Paine's older sister was Sylvia Hyde Hoke. Sylvia was living in Falls Church, Virginia in 1963. Ruth stayed with Sylvia in September of 1963 while traveling across country. (p. 170) Falls Church adjoins Langley, which was then the new headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency, a prized project of Allen Dulles. It was from Falls Church that Ruth Paine journeyed to New Orleans to pick up Marina Oswald, who she had been introduced to by George DeMohrenschildt. After she picked Marina up, she deposited her in her home in Irving, Texas. Thereby separating Marina from Lee at the time of the assassination.
Some later discoveries made Ruth's itinerary in September quite interesting. It turned out that John Hoke, Sylvia's husband, also worked for AID. And her sister Sylvia worked directly for the CIA itself. By the time of Ruth's visit, Sylvia had been employed by the Agency for eight years. In regards to this interestingly timed visit to her sister, Jim Garrison asked Ruth some pointed questions when she appeared before a grand jury in 1968. He first asked her if she knew her sister had a file that was classified at that time in the National Archives. Ruth replied she did not. In fact, she was not aware of any classification matter at all. When the DA asked her if she had any idea why it was being kept secret, Ruth replied that she didn't. Then Garrison asked Ruth if she knew which government agency Sylvia worked for. The uninquiring Ruth said she did not know. (p. 171) This is the same woman who was seen at the National Archives pouring through her files in 1976, when the House Select Committee was gearing up.
When Marina Oswald was called before the same grand jury, a citizen asked her if she still associated with Ruth Paine. Marina replied that she didn't. When asked why not, Marina stated that it was upon the advice of the Secret Service. She then elaborated on this by explaining that they had told her it would look bad if the public found out the "connection between me and Ruth and CIA." An assistant DA then asked, "In other words, you were left with the distinct impression that she was in some way connected with the CIA?" Marina replied simply, "Yes." (p. 173)
Douglass interpolates the above with the why and how of Oswald ending up on the motorcade route on 11/22/63. Robert Adams of the Texas Employment Commission testified to having called the Paine household at about the time Oswald was referred by Ruth -- via a neighbor-- to the Texas School Book Depository (TSBD) for a position. He called and was told Oswald was not there. He left a message for Oswald to come down and see him since he had a position available as a cargo handler at a regional cargo airline. Interestingly, this job paid about 1/3 more than the job Oswald ended up with at the TSBD. He called again the next day to inquire about Oswald and the position again. He was now told that Lee had already taken a job. Ruth was questioned about the Adams call by the Warren Commission's Albert Jenner. At first she denied ever hearing of such a job offer. She said, "I do not recall that." (p. 172) She then backtracked, in a tactical way. She now said that she may have heard of the offer from Lee. This, of course, would seem to contradict both the Adams testimony and common sense. If Oswald was cognizant of the better offer, why would he take the lower paying job?