Mary Pinchot was born on 14th October, 1920. Her father Amos Pinchot, was a wealthy lawyer who helped fund the radical journal, The Masses. He was also a key figure in the Progressive Party. Her mother, Ruth Pinchot, was a journalist who worked for worked for magazines such as The Nation and The New Republic. (1)
In 1920 Amos joined forces with Norman Thomas, Roger Baldwin Jane Addams, Chrystal Eastman, Clarence Darrow, John Dewey, Abraham Muste, Rex Stout, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn and Upton Sinclair to form the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). "Always outspoken, Amos was a champion of causes, no matter what it might cost him politcally or socially." (2)
As a child Mary and his sisters, Antoinette and Rosamund were brought into contact with left-wing intellectuals. People like Mabel Dodge, Crystal Eastman, Max Eastman, Louis Brandeis, Robert La Follette and Harold Ickes were regular visitors at their Grey Towers home in Milford, Pennsylvania. According to Nina Burleigh: "At Grey Towers the women were practicing nudists, and they often wandered the grounds near the pool and waterfall naked, to the great delight of the servants." (3)
Mary attended Brearley School and Vassar College. According to Deborah Davis: "Mary was the most brilliant and beautiful girl in her class at Vassar." (4) In 1938 she began going out with William Attwood. It was while with Attwood at a dance held at Choate that she met John F. Kennedy for the first time. (5) While at college Mary became interested in left-wing politics. This did not seem to upset her father, Amos Pinchot, who wrote to his brother Gifford Pinchot: "Vassar seems to be very interested in communism. And a great deal of warm debating is going on among the students of Mary's class, which I think is an excellent thing. People of that age ought to be radical anyhow." (6) Mary Pinchot, like her parents, was also a committed pacifist. During this period she became a member of the American Labor Party. This insured that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) started a file on Meyer's political activities.
After leaving Vassar she obtained work as a journalist at United Press International. "She was immediately designated as a success and assigned to go out and interview people when most women and men her age were consigned to the desk." A fellow worker, Barbara Gair Scheiber commented: There was an element of defiant fearlessness to her. She had this very throaty big laugh and a smile. There was this enjoyment, a twinkle and a laugh, but also a sort of coolness. There was some removal, like someone living in her own tower." (7)
In 1944 Mary met Cord Meyer, a lieutenant in the US Marines who was recovering from serious shrapnel injuries that had resulted in him losing an eye. Meyer recorded in his autobiography, Facing Reality: From World Federalism to the CIA (1980): "From Hawaii, I was flown to a hospital in the San Francisco area and finally back to New York City in September of 1944. I lived with my parents and commuted to the Brooklyn Naval Hospital, where I was fitted with a reasonably convincing glass eye. After some minor plastic surgery, I was ready to face the world and began seeing a lot of Mary Pinchot." (8)
Mary Pinchot's biographer points out: "During the long nights the young couple talked for hours. They discussed the catastrophe of war, the meaning of death, and the human capacity for peace. Cord had an intensity that intrigued Mary and the deep seriousness she thought she wanted in a man. He was a literary talent whose writing was already being published in national magazines. He was also a man of action who had emerged from war deeply committed to peace... As Mary watched his face and listened to him talk with an almost religous zeal about the wrongness of war, there was no doubt in her mind that here was a man who had the courage to put his ideals - so similar to her own - into action." (9)
The couple married on 19th April, 1945. Soon afterwards the couple went to San Francisco to attend the conference that established the United Nations. Cord went as an aide to Harold Stassen, whereas Mary, who was working for the North American Newspaper Alliance at the time, was one of the reporters sent to cover this important event. "As the conference got under way, I watched with growing concern the construction of the foundations and scaffolding of the new international organization that was to replace the defunct League of Nations." (10)
Cord Meyer had been shocked by the dropping of the atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In an essay published in the New York Times Meyer described the bombb's belittling effect on veterans such as himself: "The pillar of smoke over Japan on August 8 spelled in large letters for all who dared to read, not only the end of that war, but the end of our own security, no matter what our military strength." (11) Cord wrote in his journal: "Talked with Mary of how steadily depressing is our full realization of how little hope there is of avoiding the approaching catastrophe of atomic warfare."(12) The following year Meyer published a short-story about his war experiences, Waves of Darkness. Meyer expressed pacifist views in the book: "The only certain fruit of this insanity will be the rotting bodies upon which the sun will impartially shine tomorrow. Let us throw down these guns that we hate." (13)
For a while Mary worked as an editor for the Atlantic Monthly. Her first child Quentin was born in 1945. After the birth of Michael in 1947 she became a housewife but still managed to attend classes at the Art Students League in New York City. Mary began to take her art more seriously and came into contact with the abstract expressionists working in the city. One of her life drawing classes was taught by a Russian artist named Nahum Tschacbasov, who "encouraged his students to invent freely and examine underlying organic structure." (14)
Like her husband, Mary became an advocate of world government. In May, 1947, Cord Meyer was elected president of the United World Federalists. "My reason for making such an abrupt change in my career was a conviction that the United States, through its atomic monopoly, had for a brief period the opportunity to lead the world toward effective international control of the bomb." (15) Under his leadership, membership of the organization doubled in size. Albert Einstein was one of his most important supporters and personally solicited funds for the organization. Mary wrote for its journal, The United World Federalists.
The family now moved back to Cambridge. Cord was showing signs of becoming disillusioned with the idea of world government. He had experienced problems with members of the Communist Party of the United States who had infiltrated the organizations he had established. He pointed out that in an article in the New Masses condemned "the reactionary utopianism of the world state project" and stated that "by seeking solutions in abstract reason and justice rather than in the actual class forces in society, it (world government) weakens the struggle for progress and strengthens the hand of reaction." (16)
Mary's third child, Mark, was born in 1950. Soon afterwards Allen W. Dulles made contact with her husband. "Allen Dulles, who was at the time deputy director for plans of the Central Intelligence Agency... He was kind enough to give me more than an hour of his time, and we had a fasinating discussion. In a serious and careful way, he spelled out the nature of the world situation as he saw it and the complex challenge with which we were confronted by Stalin's regime... At the end of the meeting, he made me a firm offer of a job with the Agency at a middlelevel of executive responsibility and assured me that the work would be suited to my abilities and past experience, although for security reasons he could not describe the job in any detail." (17)
Cord Meyer accepted the invitation to join the Central Intelligence Agency. Dulles told Meyer he wanted him to work on a project that was so secret that he could not be told about it until he officially joined the organization. Meyer was to work under Frank Wisner, director of the Office of Policy Coordination (OPC). This became the espionage and counter-intelligence branch of the CIA. Wisner was told to create an organization that concentrated on "propaganda, economic warfare; preventive direct action, including sabotage, anti-sabotage, demolition and evacuation measures; subversion against hostile states, including assistance to underground resistance groups, and support of indigenous anti-Communist elements in threatened countries of the free world." As David Corn, the author of Blond Ghost (1994) pointed out: "The OPC was let loose and frantically moved to slip $1 million in secret funds to pro-American, noncommunist political parties... Under the leadership of Frank Wisner... the OPC grew into... a grand instrument that could... mount operations, rig elections, control newspapers, sway opinion." (18)
Meyer became part of what became known as Operation Mockingbird, a CIA program to influence the mass media. According to Deborah Davis, the author of Katharine the Great: Katharine Graham and the Washington Post (1979) Meyer was Mockingbird's "principal operative". Richard Bissell called Cord Meyer "the creative genius behind convert operations". (19) Davis claims that "By the early 1950s, Wisner had implemented his plan and 'owned' respected members of the New York Times, Newsweek, CBS, and other communications vehicles, plus stringers, four to six hundred in all... Whether the journalists thought of themselves as helpers of the agency or merely as patriots, agreeing to run stories that would benefit their country." (20)
In August, 1953, Joseph McCarthy accused Cord Meyer of being a communist. The Federal Bureau of Investigation added to the smear by announcing it was unwilling to give Meyer "security clearance". Suspicion also fell on Mary at this time and it was revealed that the FBI had been investigating her activities. Meyer was told "Your wife, Mrs Mary Pinchot Meyer, is alleged to have registered as a member of the American Labor Party of New York in 1944 at which time it was reportedly under extreme left-wing of Communist domination." (21)
It seemed that the FBI objected to Meyer being 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. Allen W. Dulles and Frank Wisner both came to Meyer's defence and refused to allow him to be interrogated by the FBI. "I wondered who it was in the FBI who had spent so much time and effort in researching every corner of my past to weave together this tapestry of unrelated incidents designed to prove my disloyalty." (22) Meyer was eventually cleared of these charges and was allowed to keep his job.
Mary and Cord Meyer moved to Georgetown. Their friends included Frank Wisner, George Kennan, Dean Acheson, Thomas Braden, Richard Bissell, Desmond FitzGerald, James Jesus Angleton, Joseph Alsop, Tracy Barnes, Philip Graham, Katharine Graham, David Bruce, Ben Bradlee, James Truitt, Clark Clifford, Walt Rostow, Eugene Rostow, Chip Bohlen and Paul Nitze. According to Nina Burleigh, the author of A Very Private Woman (1998): "The Angletons, Truitts, and Meyers grew very close, and they were especially bound together by their mutual interest in art and culture." (23)
Cord Meyer became disillusioned with life in the CIA and in January, 1954, he went to New York City and attempted to get a job in publishing. Although he saw contacts he had made during his covert work with the media (Operation Mockingbird) he was unable to obtain a job with any of the established book publishing firms. "I intend to pursue the search and be out of the government by June... I have been buried long enough in the anonymity of the federal bureaucracy." (24) In the summer of 1954 the Meyer family's golden retriever was hit by a car on the curve of highway near their house and killed. The dog's death worried Cord. He told colleagues at the CIA he was afraid the same thing might happen to one of his children. (25)
In August 1954, Mary Pinchot Meyer and her sister, Antoinette Pinchot Pittman, went on holiday to Europe. While they were in Paris they met an old friend, Ben Bradlee, who was working for Newsweek. Bradlee later recalled: "The weekend that changed my life forever came in August of 1954, when our friends the Pinchot sisters hit town. Mary Pinchot Meyer, mother of three and wife of Cord Meyer, war hero turned World Federalists president and CIA biggie, and Antoinette Pinchot Pittman, mother of four, wife of Steuart Pittman, a Washington lawyer. They were both members of our Washington crowd - on the last leg of a European tour, to which they had treated themselves after seven years of diapers and dishes." (26) Bradlee fell in love with Antoinette and they later got married.
In the summer of 1954 the Meyers got new neighbours. John F. Kennedy and his wife Jackie Kennedy purchased Hickory Hill, a house several hundred yards from where the Meyers lived. "Soon Mary befriended the senator's dark-haired wife, ten years younger than she. One of the things the two women had in common was that Jackie Kennedy and her sister, Lee Radziwill, had also taken a parent-financed, sisters-only trip to Europe together... Jackie was often left alone. The senator was intensely ambitious and angling for a national nomination in 1956. He was also incorrigible in his skirt-chasing." (27)
In November, 1954, Meyer replaced Thomas Braden as head of International Organizations Division. Meyer began spending a lot of time in Europe. One of Meyer's tasks was to supervise Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty, the United States government broadcasts to Eastern Europe. "I became head of one of the major operating divisions of the Directorate of Plans, with a growing budget and a wide policy mandate under a new National Security Council directive to counter with covert action the political and propaganda offensive that the Soviets had launched through their control of a battery of international front organizations." (28)
On 18th December, 1956, Mary's nine-year-old son, Michael, was hit by a car on the curve of highway near their house and killed: "Mary heard the screech of tires and the screams of her oldest son. She raced down the hill toward the awful scene. The driver who had struck Michael had become hysterical. An ambulance arrived, but it was too late. Mary would for the last time, hold and accompany Michael to the hospital, but not before she paused to comfort the driver who had struck her son, her rare compassion anchored in some deeper dimension." (29)
The tragedy briefly brought the couple together. A year after his son's death, Cord Meyer agreed to leave the family home and begin the separation required for a divorce. He moved into an apartment in Georgetown. In 1958, Mary filed for divorce. In her divorce petition she alleged "extreme cruelty, mental in nature, which seriously injured her health, destroyed her happiness, rendered further cohabitation unendurable and compelled the parties to separate." Cord Meyer was furious at the legal description since he believed himself to be in the right. (30)
Mary continued to live with her two sons in the family home of Langley Commons. She took up art and her sister, Antoinette Pinchot Bradlee and her husband Ben Bradlee, allowed her to set up a studio in their converted garage. Mary also began a relationship with the abstract artist, Kenneth Noland. Mary also got to know Robert Kennedy, who had moved in to his brother's house, Hickory Hill, after John F. Kennedy and Jackie Kennedy moved out in 1960.
It has been claimed by Nina Burleigh that CIA's head of counter-intelligence, James Jesus Angleton, began bugging Mary's telephone and bedroom after she left Cord Meyer. This information came from an interview with Joan Bross, the wife of John Bross, a high-ranking CIA official. (31) Angleton became a regular visitor to the family home and took Mary's sons fishing.
In January, 1962, Mary began a sexual relationship with President John F. Kennedy. (32) Charles Bartlett, a journalist who ran the Washington bureau of the Chattanooga Times, and a close friend of Kennedy's became concerned about the affair: "I really liked Jack Kennedy. We had great fun together and a lot of things in common. We had a very personal, close relationship... Jack was in love with Mary Meyer. He was certainly smitten by her, he was heavily smitten. He was very frank with me about it, that he thought she was absolutely great.... It was a dangerous relationship." (33)
In April 1962 Mary Meyer began visiting Timothy Leary, the director of research projects at Harvard University. According to his biography, Flashbacks: "She appeared to be in her late thirties. Good looking. Flamboyant eyebrows, piercing green-blue eyes, fine-boned face. Amused, arrogant, aristocratic." Leary goes on to claim that she said "I want to learn how to run an LSD session... I have this friend who's a very important man. He's impressed by what I've told him about my own LSD experiences and what other people have told him. He wants to try it himself." (34)
Nina Burleigh has argued: "Kennedy's sexual escapes were legendary in Georgetown. To the rest of America he was a family man with a beautiful wife, a man of caution, wit, and strategy. In private he was dazzlingly reckless.... Some of his most infamous sexual liaisons were with real actresses on the West Coast, women procured with the help of his brother-in-law, the actor Peter Lawford. Lawford ran with Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, who converged with Kennedy and various actresses and prostitutes for wild parties at the Lawford beach house in Santa Monica." (35) Bobby Baker claims that Kennedy told him: "You know, I get a migraine headache if I don't get a strange piece of ass every day." (36)
White House gate logs show Mary Meyer signed in to see the president at or around 7.30 p.m. on fifteen occasions between October 1961 and August 1963, always when Jacqueline Kennedy is known to have been away from Washington, with one exception when her whereabouts are not verifiable by White House records or news reports. "The gate logs do not tell the entire story of who was in the White House, because there were other entrances and many occasions when people have said they were inside the White House without being signed... The fact that Mary Meyer's name is so often entered means she was not hidden and was probably there more often than the logs indicate." (37) Kenny O'Donnell told Leo Damore, that in October 1963 Kennedy told him that he "was deeply in love with Mary, that after he left the White House he envisioned a future with her and would divorce Jackie." (38)
Ben Bradlee later insisted that he knew nothing of Kennedy’s sex life at the time, including his affair with his sister-in-law. (39) In his autobiography, The Good Life (1995) he claimed: "like everyone else, we had heard reports of presidential infidelity, but we were always able to say we knew of no evidence, none... Of course, I had heard reports of girlfriends. Everyone had. Even my father, who was trying to get up the nerve in 1960 to vote for a democrat for the first time in his life, asked me about rumors circulating among his friends that Kennedy was a 'fearful girler'." (40)
Bradlee admits that he did once talk to Kennedy about these rumours. It was at the time that journalists were investigating a story that he was still involved with Florence Pritchett Smith, a woman he had nearly married in 1944. (41) She was married to Earl E. T. Smith, a family friend. Seymour Hersh has argued: Many historians have said that Kennedy had a long-standing romance with Smith's wife, Florence." (42) When Bradlee asked Kennedy about this denied it, "They're always trying to tie me to some story about a girl, but they can't - there are none." (43)
In January, 1963, Philip Graham, the publisher of the Washington Post, attended a convention of American newspaper editors in Phoenix. Graham, who was suffering from alcoholism, disclosed at the meeting that John F. Kennedy was having an affair with Mary Meyer. No newspaper reported this incident but Kennedy decided to bring an end to the affair. However, they continued to see each other at social functions.
Ben Bradlee was in the lobby of the National Press Building when he heard the news that John F. Kennedy had been shot. He returned to his office in Newsweek: "Colleagues were crowded around the ticker, dazed, watching the deadly bursts of unbelievable, wrenching news, worsening every few seconds... And then, so suddenly, he was dead. Life changed, forever, in the middle of a nice day, at the end of a good week, in a wonderful year of what looked like an extraordinary decade of promise. It would take months before we would begin to understand how, but the inevitability of wrenching change was plain as tears." (44)
Timothy Leary has claimed that a few days after John F. Kennedy had been killed he received a disturbing phone call from Mary Pinchot Meyer. He wrote in his autobiography, Flashbacks (1983): Ever since the Kennedy assassination I had been expecting a call from Mary. It came around December 1. I could hardly understand her. She was either drunk or drugged or overwhelmed with grief. Or all three." Meyer told Leary: "They couldn't control him any more. He was changing too fast. They've covered everything up. I gotta come see you. I'm afraid." (45)
On 12th October, 1964, Mary Pinchot Meyer was shot dead as she walked along the Chesapeake and Ohio towpath in Georgetown. Henry Wiggins, a car mechanic, was working on a vehicle on Canal Road, when he heard a woman shout out: "Someone help me, someone help me". He then heard two gunshots. Wiggins ran to the edge of the wall overlooking the towpath. He later told police he saw "a black man in a light jacket, dark slacks, and a dark cap standing over the body of a white woman." (46)
Mary appeared to be killed by a professional hitman. The first bullet was fired at the back of the head. She did not die straight away. A second shot was fired into the heart. The evidence suggests that in both cases, the gun was virtually touching Mary’s body when it was fired. As the FBI expert testified, the “dark haloes on the skin around both entry wounds suggested they had been fired at close-range, possibly point-blank”. (47)
Ben Bradlee points out that the first he heard of the death of Mary Pinchot Meyer was when he received a phone-call from Wistar Janney, his friend who worked for the CIA: "My friend Wistar Janney called to ask if I had been listening to the radio. It was just after lunch, and of course I had not. Next he asked if I knew where Mary was, and of course I didn't. Someone had been murdered on the towpath, he said, and from the radio description it sounded like Mary. I raced home. Tony was coping by worrying about children, hers and Mary's, and about her mother, who was seventy-one years old, living alone in New York. We asked Anne Chamberlin, Mary's college roommate, to go to New York and bring Ruth to us. When Ann was well on her way, I was delegated to break the news to Ruth on the telephone. I can't remember that conversation. I was so scared for her, for my family, and for what was happening to our world. Next, the police told us, someone would have to identify Mary's body in the morgue, and since Mary and her husband, Cord Meyer, were separated, I drew that straw too." (48)
Peter Janney, the author of Mary's Mosaic (2012) has questioned this account of events provided by Bradlee. "How could Bradlee's CIA friend have known 'just after lunch' that the murdered woman was Mary Meyer when the victim's identity was still unknown to police? Did the caller wonder if the woman was Mary, or did he know it, and if so, how? This distinction is critical, and it goes to the heart of the mystery surrounding Mary Meyer's murder." Janney even questions if it really was his father who phoned Bradlee. He points out that Wistar Janney had died a year before Bradlee published his account of events. (49)
That night Antoinette Pinchot Bradlee received a telephone call from Mary's best friend, Anne Truitt, an artist living in Tokyo. She told her that it "was a matter of some urgency that she found Mary's diary before the police got to it and her private life became a matter of public record". (50) Mary had apparently told Anne that "if anything ever happened to me" you must take possession of my "private diary". Ben Bradlee explains in The Good Life (1995): "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." (51)
James Jesus Angleton later claimed that he had also received a telephone call from Anne Truitt. His wife, Cicely d'Autremont Angleton, confirmed this in an interview given to Nina Burleigh. (52) However, an article by Ron Rosenbaum and Phillip Nobile, in the New Times on 9th July, 1976, gives a different version of events with the Angleton's arriving at Mary's house that evening to attend a poetry reading and that at this stage they did not know she was dead. (53)
Joseph Trento, the author of Secret History of the CIA (2001), has pointed out: "Cicely Angleton called her husband at work to ask him to check on a radio report she had heard that a woman had been shot to death along the old Chesapeake and Ohio towpath in Georgetown. Walking along that towpath, which ran near her home, was Mary Meyer's favorite exercise, and Cicely, knowing her routine, was worried. James Angleton dismissed his wife's worry, pointing out that there was no reason to suppose the dead woman was Mary - many people walked along the towpath. When the Angletons arrived at Mary Meyer's house that evening, she was not home. A phone call to her answering service proved that Cicely's anxiety had not been misplaced: Their friend had been murdered that afternoon." (54)
Mary appeared to be killed by a professional hitman just after midday. The first bullet was fired at the back of the head. She did not die straight away and her screams were heard by several people. While she was down on the ground and probably in severe shock from the head wound, the gunman shot her in the back. The bullet severed the aorta, which carries blood to the heart, and came out of her chest on the other side. (55) The evidence suggests that in both cases, the gun was virtually touching Mary’s body when it was fired. As the FBI expert testified, the “dark haloes on the skin around both entry wounds suggested they had been fired at close-range, possibly point-blank”. (56)
Soon afterwards Raymond Crump, a black man, was found not far from the murder scene. He was arrested and charged with Mary's murder. Police tests were unable to show that Crump had fired the .38 caliber Smith and Wesson gun. There were no trace of nitrates on his hands or clothes. Despite an extensive search of the area no gun could be found. This included a two day search of the tow path by 40 police officers. The police also drained the canal near to the murder scene. Police scuba divers searched the waters away from where Mary was killed. However, no gun could be found. Nor could the prosecution find any link between Crump and any Smith and Wesson gun. (57)
The trial of Crump began on 19th July, 1965. Crump’s lawyer, Dovey Roundtree, was convinced of his innocence. A civil rights lawyer who defended him for free, she argued that Crump was so timid and feeble-minded that if he had been guilty he would have confessed everything while being interrogated by the police. "Dovey Roundtree would stake her professional life on defending a victimized, dirt-poor young black man. For Roundtree, it wasn't just the life and future of one man that was at stake. She believed Crump was being conveniently scapegoated." (58) Roundtree later recalled: "I was caught up in civil rights, heart, body, and soul, but I felt law was one vehicle that would bring remedy." (59)
None of the newspaper reports of the trial identified the true work of her former husband, Cord Meyer. He was described as a government official or an author. A large number of journalists knew that Meyer had been married to a senior CIA officer. They also knew that she had been having an affair with John F. Kennedy. None of this was reported. In fact, the judge, ruled that the private life of Mary Meyer could not be mentioned in court. (60)
The trial judge was Howard Corcoran. He was the brother of Tommy Corcoran, a close friend of Lyndon B. Johnson. Corcoran had been appointed by Johnson soon after he became president. It is generally acknowledged that Corcoran was under Johnson’s control. His decision to insist that Mary’s private life should not be mentioned in court was very important in disguising the possible motive for the murder. (61) This information was also kept from Crump’s lawyer, Dovey Roundtree. Although she attempted to investigate Mary's background she found little information about her: "It was as if she existed only on the towpath on the day she was murdered." Peter Janney argues: "There were rumblings swirling all over Washington and elsewhere about CIA involvement in President Kennedy's assassination, and Corcoran likely sought to steer clear of any mention of the Agency altogether." (62)
Bradlee was the first witness called to the stand, Alfred L. Hantman, the chief prosecutor, asked him under oath, what he found when he searched Mary's studio. "Now besides the usual articles of Mrs. Meyer's avocation, did you find there any other articles of her personal property?" Bradlee replied that he found a pocketbook, keys, wallet, cosmetics, and pencils. He did not tell the court that he found a diary that he had passed on to James Jesus Angleton. (63)
During the trial Wiggins was unable to positively identify Raymond Crump as the man standing over Meyer's body. The prosecution was also handicapped by the fact that the police had been unable to find the murder weapon at the scene of the crime or to provide a credible motive for the crime. In her closing argument, Dovey Roundtree, had asked why the police had been unable to find the murder weapon? "She answered her own question: Obviously the gun was nowhere near the towpath if those experts could not locate it. The real killer had walked out of the park with it." (64) On 29th July, 1965, Crump was acquitted of murdering Mary Meyer. The case remains unsolved.
James Truitt gave an interview to the National Enquirer that was published on 23rd February, 1976, with the headline, "Former Vice President of Washington Post Reveals... JFK 2-Year White House Romance". Truitt told the newspaper that Mary Pinchot Meyer was having an affair with John F. Kennedy. He also claimed that Mary had told them that she was keeping an account of this relationship in her diary. Truitt added that the diary had been removed by Ben Bradlee and James Jesus Angleton. (65)
The newspaper sent a journalist to interview Bradlee about the issues raised by Truitt. According to one eyewitness account, Bradlee "erupted in a shouting rage and had the reporter thrown out of the building". Nina Burleigh claims that it was Watergate that motivated Truitt to give the interview. "Truitt was disgusted that Bradlee was getting credit as a great champion of the First Amendment for exposing Nixon's steamy side in Watergate coverage after having indulgently overlooked Kennedy's hypocrisies." Truitt was also angry that Bradlee had not exposed Kennedy's affair with Mary Pinchot Meyer in his book, Conversations with Kennedy. Truitt had been close to Meyer during this period and had received a considerable amount of information about the relationship. (66)
Ben Bradlee, who had gone on holiday with his new wife, Sally Quinn, gave orders for the Washington Post to ignore the story. However, Harry Rosenfeld, a senior figure at the newspaper, commented, "We're not going to treat ourselves more kindly than we treat others." (67) However, when the article was published it included several interviews with Kennedy's friends who denied he had an affair with Meyer. Kenneth O'Donnell described her as a "lovely lady" but denied that there had been a romance. Timothy Reardon claimed that "nothing like that ever happened at the White House with her or anyone else." (68)
Ben Bradlee and James Jesus Angleton continued to deny 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. (69) In an interview with Jay Gourley, Bradlee's former wife, and Mary's sister, Antoinette Pinchot Bradlee admitted that her sister had been having an affair with John F. Kennedy: "It was nothing to be ashamed of. I think Jackie might have suspected it, but she didn't know for sure." (70)
Two journalists, Ron Rosenbaum and Phillip Nobile, decided to carry out their own investigation into the case. After interviewing James Truitt and several other friends of Mary Pinchot Meyer, including the Angletons, they published an article, entitled, "The Curious Aftermath of JFK's Best and Brightest Affair" in the New Times on 9th July, 1976. According to this version, the search for the diary took place on Saturday, 17th October, five days after her murder. As well as Antoinette (Tony) Bradlee, James and Cicely Angleton, Cord Meyer and Anne Chamberlain, were also present. The search party found nothing. (71)
Later that same day, Tony Bradlee was said to have discovered a "locked steel box" in Mary's studio. Inside it was one one of Mary's artist sketchbooks, a number of personal papers and "hundreds of letters". Peter Janney, the author of Mary's Mosaic (2012) points out: "Tony Bradlee later claimed that the presence of a few vague notes written in the sketchbook - allegedly including cryptic references to an affair with the president - persuaded her that she'd found her sister's missing diary. But Mary's artist sketchbook wasn't her real diary. It was just a ruse." (72) 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".
Leo Damore claimed in an interview with Peter Janney in 1992 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". Damore told Janney that certain forces within the government had targeted her for "termination". (73)
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 the highly secret Operation Mockingbird, a CIA program to influence the mass media. Angleton and Bradlee were both involved in this project. Were they worried that Meyer had kept a record of these activities? Was this why Mary Pinochet Meyer had been murdered?
After leaving the CIA in 1977 Cord Meyer wrote several books including an autobiography, Facing Reality: From World Federalism to the CIA. In the book Meyer commented on the murder of his wife: "I was satisfied by the conclusions of the police investigation that Mary had been the victim of a sexually motivated assault by a single individual and that she had been killed in her struggle to escape." (74) Carol Delaney, the longtime personal assistant to Meyer, later admitted: "Mr. Meyer didn't for a minute think that Ray Crump had murdered his wife or that it had been an attempted rape. But, being an Agency man, he couldn't very well accuse the CIA of the crime, although the murder had all the markings of an in-house rubout." (75)
Ben Bradlee retired as executive editor of the Washington Post in 1991, but continued as a vice president of the company. In 1995 he published his memoirs, A Good Life: Newspapering and Other Adventures. In the book he confessed that he had indeed, like Deborah Davis had said, worked for Office of U.S. Information and Educational Exchange and had been involved in distributing CIA propaganda. He also admitted that Davis was right when she said that Robert Thayer, the CIA station chief in Paris, had paid him money to pay for travelling expenses. Bradlee described how "he (Thayer) reached nonchalantly into the bottom drawer of his desk and fished out enough francs to fly me to the moon." (76)
However, the most surprising confession was that he had lied during the trial of Raymond Crump, the man accused of killing Mary Pinchot Meyer. Bradlee admitted in the book that he had searched for Meyer's diary with James Jesus Angleton: "We (Bradlee and his wife) asked him (Angleton) how he'd gotten into the house, and he shuffled his feet. (Later, we learned that one of Jim's nicknames inside the agency was 'the Locksmith,' and that he was known as a man who could pick his way into any house in town.) We felt his presence was odd, to say the least, but took him at his word, and with him we searched Mary's house thoroughly. Without success. We found no diary. Later that day, we realized that we hadn't looked for the diary in Mary's studio, which was directly across a dead-end driveway from the garden behind our house. We had no key, but I got a few tools to remove the simple padlock, and we walked toward the studio, only to run into Jim Angleton again, this time actually in the process of picking the padlock. He would have been red-faced, if his face could have gotten red, and he left almost without a word. I unscrewed the hinge, and we entered the studio." (77) However, according to Ron Rosenbaum, when he interviewed Angleton, he described Bradlee as a liar and denied he had ever been in Mary's studio. (78)
Bradlee claims that his wife found the diary in a later search: "Much has been written about this diary-most of it wrong since its existence was first reported. Tony took it to our house, and we read it later that night. It was small (about 6" x 8") with fifty to sixty pages, most of them filled with paint swatches, and descriptions of how the colors were created and what they were created for. On a few pages, maybe ten in all, in the same handwriting but different pen, phrases described a love affair, and after reading only a few phrases it was clear that the lover had been the President of the United States, though his name was never mentioned. To say we were stunned doesn't begin to describe our reactions. Tony, especially, felt betrayed, both by Kennedy and by Mary." (79) It has been claimed that the Bradlee's also found love letters sent by Kennedy to Meyer and these were destroyed. (80)
The following day Antoinette Pinchot Bradlee gave the diary to Angleton and expected him to destroy it: "But it turned out that Angleton did not destroy the document, for whatever perverse, or perverted, reasons. We didn't learn this until some years later, when Tony asked him pointblank how he had destroyed it. When he admitted he had not destroyed it, she demanded that he give it back, and when he did, she burned it, with a friend as witness. None of us has any idea what Angleton did with the diary while it was in his possession, nor why he failed to follow Mary and Tony's instructions." (81)
After the publication of his book, The Good Life (1995), Cicely d'Autremont Angleton and Anne Truitt wrote a letter to the New York Times Book Review to "correct what in our opinion is an error" in Bradlee's autobiography: "This error occurs in Mr. Bradlee's account of the discovery and disposition of Mary Pinchot Meyer's personal diary. The fact is that Mary Meyer asked Anne Truitt to make sure that in the event of anything happening to Mary while Anne was in Japan, James Angleton take this diary into his safekeeping. When she learned that Mary had been killed, Anne Truitt telephoned person-to-person from Tokyo for James Angleton. She found him at Mr. Bradlee's house, where Angleton and his wife, Cicely had been asked to come following the murder. In the phone call, relaying Mary Meyer's specific instructions, Anne T'ruitt told Angleton for the first time, that there was a diary; and in accordance with Mary Meyer's explicit request, Anne Truitt asked Angleton to search for and take charge of the diary." (82)
At the trial of Raymond Crump, Bradlee was the first witness called to the stand, Alfred L. Hantman, the chief prosecutor, asked him under oath, what he found when he searched Mary's studio. "Now besides the usual articles of Mrs. Meyer's avocation, did you find there any other articles of her personal property?" Bradlee replied that he found a pocketbook, keys, wallet, cosmetics, and pencils. He did not tell the court that he found a diary that he had passed on to James Jesus Angleton. (83)
On 2nd December, 2011, The Washington Post published a letter from Angleton's children. They also questioned the account provided by Ben Bradlee: "Anne Truitt, a friend of Tony Bradlee and Bradlee's sister, Mary Meyer, was abroad when Meyer was killed in the District. Truitt called Bradlee and said that Meyer had asked her to request that Angleton retrieve mid burn certain pages of her diary if anything happened to her. James and Cicely Angleton were with Ben and Tony Bradlee at the Bradlees' home when Tony Bradlee received the call. Cicely, our mother, told her daughter Guru Sangat Khalsa, "We all went to Mary's house together." She said there was no break-in because the Bradlees hat a key. The diary was not found at that time. Later, Tony Bradlee found it and gave it to James Angleton. He burned the pages that Meyer had asked to be burned and put the rest in a safe. Years later, he gave the rest of the diary to Bradlee at her request." (84)
Some researchers have questioned this account. Anne Truitt knew that Mary Pinchot Meyer was highly critical of the CIA covert activities. James Jesus Angleton would have been the last one Mary would have wanted to know about the diary. Peter Janney, the author of Mary's Mosaic (2012) has argued that his research into the case suggests that it is highly unlikely that the Angleton's children story is true: "Is it now to be believed not only that Mary Meyer entrusted the safekeeping of her diary to Jim Angleton, but that she had also specifically instructed him to 'burn certain pages of her diary if anything happened to her'? Nothing could be further from the truth... It is not known (nor likely ever will be) how Angleton twisted the arm of Anne Truitt to declare that on the night of Mary's murder she should call the Bradlees and inform them that such a diary existed and that Mary had told her to make sure Angleton took charge of it, should anything happen to her. The answer to the question of who called the Truitts in Tokyo to inform them of Mary's demise now becomes more obvious: It was Angleton himself." (85)
The writer, C. David Heymann, began writing a book that was eventually published as Georgetown Ladies' Social Club (2004). The book concerned the group of women that had been part of this group that existed in the 1950s and 1960s. This included Mary Pinchot Meyer. Heymann became interested in her death and in February, 2001, he requested an interview with Cord Meyer, who at the time, was himself dying of lymphoma. Heymann asked Meyer if he had told the truth in his book, Facing Reality: From World Federalism to the CIA (1980) "I was satisfied by the conclusions of the police investigation that Mary had been the victim of a sexually motivated assault by a single individual and that she had been killed in her struggle to escape." (86). Meyer replied: "My father died of a heart attack the same year Mary was killed, " he whispered. "It was a bad time." And what could he say about Mary Meyer? Who had committed such a heinous crime? "The same sons of bitches," he hissed, "that killed John F. Kennedy." (87)
In 1952 Cord Meyer showed up as a CIA official in Washington knowing the names and activities of these same trade union and national liberation organizations, and the public story was that he had defected from the one-world movement because he had suddenly seen that world government was in danger of being Communistic. This transformation, so out of character for a man of his methodical intellect, caused people within the movement to believe that World Federalism may have been a lengthy intelligence assignment.
It is 1956, then, and Ben Bradlee's brother-in-law is stationed as a covert operations agent in Europe. He travels constantly, inciting "student" demonstrations, "spontaneous" riots and trade union strikes; creating splits among leftist factions; distributing Communist literature to provoke anti-Communist backlash. This localized psychological warfare is ultimately, of course, warfare against the Russians, who are presumed to be the source of every leftist political sentiment in Italy, France, the entire theater of Meyer's operations. In Eastern Europe his aim on the contrary is to foment rebellion. Nineteen fifty-six is the year the CIA learns that the Soviets will indeed kill sixty thousand agency-aroused Hungarians with armored tanks.
All of this goes on quite apart from his marriage. Mary does not have a security clearance, so he cannot tell her what he is doing most of the time. They begin to drift apart, and Mary draws closer to her sister and to Ben. When in the late fifties her marriage to Cord ends, she goes to live with Tony and Ben in Washington, where Newsweek has transferred him, and sets up her apartment and art studio in their converted garage.
Jane Barnes, the daughter of CIA officer Tracy Barnes, a man who was deeply involved in the Bay of Pigs invasion and plots to assassinate Castro, believed that her mother was silenced by the sheer enormity of what was happening during the cold war. "Practically the hardest thing for my mother to do was hold a strong opinion. She knew there was this dire world horror going on, and it scared her." Wives and children regarded the men as unassailable authorities. "We thought of Daddy as James Bond," Barnes said. Like many CIA men, Barnes loved the works of Ian Fleming and John le Carre. A neighbor once said to Barnes, "These books must be nonsense," and he replied, "On the contrary, they're understated."
Mary Meyer did hold opinions and she was not afraid to express herself. Wives like Mary picked up tidbits here and there, through dinner conversation or listening to their husbands talk on the telephone. They were only half in the dark, whereas the rest of the country during the fifties was completely unaware of the agency and its work. Mary knew generally that her husband was fighting Communism within organizations such as the American Veterans Committee and labor unions. As the years passed she learned enough about the methods and aims of her husband and his colleagues to become openly critical of the CIA in a way that upset some of the other wives. Peter Janney recalled his mother becoming upset about Mary's anti-CIA remarks. But she was never a politically strident woman and, like the other wives, probably never knew the full extent of the CIA's activities or the details of highly classified matters such as assassination plots and coups.
From 1960 to 1967 I was director of research projects at Harvard University and Millbrook, New York which studied the effects of brain-change drugs. During this period a talented group of psychologists and philosophers on our staff ran guided "trips" for over 3000 volunteers. These projects won worldwide recognition as centers for consciousness alteration and exploration of new dimensions of the mind.
Our headquarters at Harvard and Millbrook were regularly visited by people interested in expanding their intelligence - poets and writers like Allen Ginsberg, Charles Olsen, Jack Kerouac, Robert Lovell; musicians like "The Grateful Dead," Charles Mingus, Miles Davis, John Lennon, Jim Morrison; philosophers like Aldous Huxley, Arthur Koestler, Alan Watts; swamis, gurus, mystics, psychics by the troops. Scores of scientists from top universities. And occasionally steely-eyed experts, from government and military centers also participated.
It was not until the Freedom of Information Act of the Carter administration that we learned that the CIA had spent 25 million dollars on brain-change drugs, and that the U.S. Army at Edgewater Arsenal in Maryland had given LSD and stronger psychedelic drugs to over 7000 unwitting, uninformed enlisted men.
The most fascinating and important of these hundreds of visitors showed up in the Spring of 1962. I was sitting in my office at Harvard University one morning when I looked up to see a woman leaning against the door post, hip tilted provocatively, studying me with a bold stare. She appeared to be in her late thirties. Good looking. Flamboyant eye- brows, piercing green-blue eyes, fine-boned face. Amused, arrogant, aristocratic. "Dr. Leary," she said coolly,"I've got to talk to you."
She took a few steps forward and held out her hand. "I'm Mary Pinchot. I've come from Washington to discuss something very important. I want to learn how to run an LSD session."
"That's our specialty here. Would you like to tell me what you have in mind?"
"I have this friend who's a very important man. He's impressed by what I've told him about my own LSD experiences and what other people have told him. He wants to try it himself. So I'm here to learn how to do it. I mean. I don't want to goof up or something."
"Why don't you have your important friend come here with you to look over our project for a couple of days. Then if it makes sense to all concerned, we'll run a session for him."
"Out of the question. My friend is a public figure. It's just not possible."
"People involved in power usually don't make the best subjects."
"Don't you think that if a powerful person were to turn on with his wife or girlfriend it would be good for the world?"
"Nothing that involves brain-change is certain. But in general we believe that for anyone who's reasonably healthy and happy, the intelligent thing to do is to take advantage of the multiple realities available to the human brain."
"Do you think that the world would be a better place if men in power had LSD experiences?"
"Look at the world," I said,"Nuclear bombs proliferating. More and more countries run by military dictators. No political creativity. It's time to try something, anything new and promising." ....
The next contact with Mary Pinchot, my mysterious visitor from Washington, came about six months later. She phoned me from across the river in Boston. "Can you meet me right away in Room 717, Ritz Hotel?"
Enchanting as before, she motioned to a silver ice bucket with a bottle of Dom Perignon tilting out. "I'm here to celebrate." she said. I twisted the bottle to make the cork pop gently "Your hush hush love affair is going well?"
"Oh yes, everything is going beautifully. On all fronts in fact. I can't give details, of course. But top people in Washington are turning on. You'd be amazed at the sophistication of some of our leaders. And their wives. We've gotten a little group together, people who are interested in learning how to turn on. "Really, I thought politicians were to power-oriented."
"You must realize, implausible as it may seem, there are a lot of very smart people in Washington. Especially now with this administration. Power is important to them. And these drugs do give a certain power. That's what it's all about. Freeing the mind."
She held out her glass for more champagne."Until very recently control of American consciousness was a simple matter for the guys in charge. The schools instilled docility. The radio and TV networks poured out conformity."
"No doubt about it." I agreed.
"You may not know that dissident organizations in academia are also controlled. The CIA creates the radical journals and student organizations and runs them with deep-cover agents.
Late in November 1963 a phone call came from Mary Pinchot. Her voice was tight-roping the wire of hysteria. She had rented a car at La Guardia and was somewhere in Millbrook. She didn't want to come to the estate. Could I meet her in the village?
Driving out the gate I saw a green Ford parked down Route 44. It followed me. I slowed down. It pulled up behind me. Mary. She climbed in beside me motioning me to drive on.
I turned down a side road through an unforgettable Autumn scene - golden fields, herds of fat, jet-black cows, trees turning technicolor, sky glaring indigo - with the bluest girl in the world next to me.
"It was all going so well." She said. "We had eight intelligent women turning on the most powerful men in Washington. And then we got found out. I was such a fool. I made a mistake in recruitment. A wife snitched on us. I'm scared." She burst into tears.
"You must be very careful now." She said. "Don't make any waves. No publicity. I'm afraid for you. I'm afraid for all of us."
"Mary." I said soothingly. "Let's go back to the Big House and relax and have some wine and maybe a hot bath and figure out what you should do."
"I know what you're thinking. But this is not paranoia. I've gotten mixed up in some dangerous matters. It's real. You've got to believe me." She glared at me. "Do you?"
"Yes I do." Her alarm was convincing me.
"Look. If I ever showed up here suddenly, could you hide me out for a while?"
"Good." Now drive me back to my car. I'll stay in touch. If I can."
As I watched her drive away, I wondered. She wasn't breaking any laws. What trouble could she be in?
The next call from Mary came the day after the assassination of Jack Kennedy. I had really been expecting it.
I could hardly understand her. She was either drugged or stunned with grief. "They couldn't control him any more. He was changing too fast. He was learning too much."
"Who? You mean Kennedy?" Long pause. Hysterical crying. I spoke reassuringly. She kept sobbing. "They'll cover everything up. I gotta come see you. I'm scared. I'm afraid. Be careful."
The line went dead. Her words kept repeating in my mind.
On the evening of October 12, 1964, Angleton and his wife, Cicely, were invited to a poetry reading at the house of an old friend, the artist Mary Meyer. Meyer's dreams had died in Dallas, too.
Twenty years earlier, just out of Vassar, Mary Pinchot as she was then, had married a promising young man, Cord Meyer, who later became one of Allen Dulles's top clandestine executives at the CIA. Mary Meyer came to hate her husband's job, and in 1956, she divorced him and moved to Georgetown to start a new life. That new life included a love affair with John Kennedy, which ended only with his murder. While Kennedy had many affairs while in the White House, Angleton insisted that the president and Mary Meyer "were in love. They had something very important."
The day of the poetry reading, Cicely Angleton called her husband at work to ask him to check on a radio report she had heard that a woman had been shot to death along the old Chesapeake and Ohio towpath in Georgetown. Walking along that towpath, which ran near her home, was Mary Meyer's favorite exercise, and Cicely, knowing her routine, was worried. James Angleton dismissed his wife's worry, pointing out that there was no reason to suppose the dead woman was Mary-many people walked along the towpath.
When the Angletons arrived at Mary Meyer's house that evening, she was not home. A phone call to her answering service proved that Cicely's anxiety had not been misplaced: Their friend had been murdered that afternoon. The Angletons went to the nearby home of Mary's sister, Antoinette, then married to Newsweek's Washington bureau chief, Benjamin C. Bradlee. They comforted the family and helped them make funeral arrangements.
As police later reconstructed that day's events, Mary had painted in the morning and at about noon had set off on her daily walk. It was cool outside. When the police were called to the murder scene, they found her dressed in slacks and an angora sweater. A detective commented that she was beautiful, even after the gunman had put two bullets into her. She was two days shy of her forty-fourth birthday. The D.C. police, always willing to cooperate with the government on potentially embarrassing matters, quickly arrested a local black man for killing Meyer.
A police officer had found the man, Raymond Crump, Jr., soaking wet, not far from the murder scene. Crump claimed that he had drunk some beer and fallen asleep and that he woke up only when he slid down the bank of the canal into the water. A jacket fished out of the canal after the shooting fit him. An eyewitness said the killer was black and was wearing that very windbreaker.
The next weekend, the Angletons, along with others of Mary's friends, began searching through her townhouse. They were frantically looking for a diary she had kept - really a sketchbook - which included details of her love affair with John Kennedy. Despite an exhaustive effort, they failed to find it.
A few days later, Antoinette Bradlee found the diary and many personal letters in a metal box in her sister's studio. It was hard to see how the earlier searchers could have missed it. Had it been removed and then replaced? James Angleton, who was close to Meyer's sons, was given the diary and letters for safekeeping. He allowed some people to reclaim letters they had written to Meyer, but he told everyone that he had burned the diary. He had not. In July 1978, he said, "I kept it for her children.... You must understand that it was a personal, not a professional, responsibility."
When Cord Meyer's ex-wife Mary was murdered while exercising on the path next to the Potomac canal, one bystander alleges, Angleton had already let himself into her house with a key he kept to the place even before the cops turned up. I think he was after paper he knew she kept in her bedroom which had to do with her affair with John Kennedy.
In the months that followed I kept waiting for Mary to call back. I tried the Washington phone book for her number but she wasn't listed: not in Virginia or Maryland either.
My life was humming along. I got married and went on a round-the-world honeymoon. A few months later the marriage broke up. In my yearning for an ally, a friend, a woman, I found myself thinking a lot about Mary Pinchot.
Directory assistance in Washington,DC had numbers for several Pinchots but none for Mary. Then I remembered that she was a Vassar graduate and phoned the alumni office in Poughkeepsie. The cheery voice of the secretary became guarded when I asked for the address of Mary Pinchot.
"Mary Pinchot?" A long pause. "The person about whom you were asking... ah, her married name is Meyer. But I'm sorry to say that she is, ah, deceased. Sometime last fall, I believe."
"I've been out of the country. I didn't know."
"Thank you for calling." said the alumni secretary.
In shock I climbed out a third-floor window and up the steep copper roof of the Big House. There I leaned back against a chimney and tried to think things over. Michael Hollingshead, who sensed my malaise, scrambled up to join me, carrying two beers. When I told him about Mary, he brushed away a tear.
"I wonder what happened." I said.
"Next time we go to New York, let's see what we could find out," said Michael.
So off we went, Michael and I, down the Hudson to New York to meet the light-artists and sound wizards who were popping up on the Lower East Side. And to find out what happened to Mary Pinchot Meyer.
I cabbed over to Van Wolfe's apartment, drank a beer, and asked him if he could get any material on Mary Pinchot Meyer. He made a phone call to a friend who worked on the Times. An hour later a messenger was at the door with a manila envelope full of clippings, and WHAM - there was Mary's picture, the pert chin and nose, the deep intense eyes. Above, the headline read:
WOMAN PAINTER SHOT AND KILLED ON CANAL TOWPATH IN CAPITAL MRS. MARY PINCHOT MEYER WAS A FRIEND OF MRS. KENNEDY. SUSPECT IS ARRAIGNED
Mary had been shot twice in the left temple and once in the chest at 12:45 in the afternoon of October 13, 1964 as she walked along the Old Chesapeake and Ohio Canal towpath in Georgetown. A friend told reporters that Mary sometimes walked there with her close friend Jacqueline Kennedy.
Mary's brother-in-law, Benjamin C. Bradlee, Newsweek's Washington bureau chief, identified her body. Ben Bradlee was described as having been an intimate of the late President Kennedy. The article also mentioned Mary's ex-husband, Cord Meyer,Jr., former leader of the American Veterans Committee and the World Federalists, now a government employee, position and agency not specified. Police said that the motive was apparently robbery or assault. Her purse was found by Ben Bradlee in her home. The suspect, a black male, was being held without bail.
My head was spinning with ominous thoughts. A close friend of the Kennedy family had been murdered in broad daylight with no apparent motive. And there had been so little publicity. No outcry. No call for further investigation. I felt that same vague fear that came when we heard about JFK's assassination.
Violence as a fact of my life had begun only with Kennedy's assassination. Even that monstrous act, my brain tried to convince my soul, was a random aberration. But violence came closer a few short months later with the murder of Mary Pinchot Meyer in the bright sunlight of a beautiful early fall afternoon in October. She was walking along the towpath by the canal along the Potomac River in Georgetown, when she was grabbed from behind, wrestled to the ground, and shot just once under her cheekbone as she struggled to get free. She died instantly.
My friend Wistar Janney called to ask if I had been listening to the radio. It was just after lunch, and of course I had not. Next he asked if I knew where Mary was, and of course I didn't. Someone had been murdered on the towpath, he said, and from the radio description it sounded like Mary. I raced home. Tony was coping by worrying about children, hers and Mary's, and about her mother, who was seventy-one years old, living alone in New York. We asked Anne Chamberlin, Mary's college roommate, to go to New York and bring Ruth to us. When Ann was well on her way, I was delegated to break the news to Ruth on the telephone. I can't remember that conversation. I was so scared for her, for my family, and for what was happening to our world.
Next, the police told us, someone would have to identify Mary's body in the morgue, and since Mary and her husband, Cord Meyer, were separated, I drew that straw too. There had to be two witnesses, and so I grabbed our family druggist and friend, Doc Dalinsky, for help, as I always did.
When I got home, the house was filling up with friends. A reporter from the Post showed up and I bit his head off, and slammed the door in his face. Later, I called managing editor Al Friendly to apologize, and asked him to send the reporter back. Teddy White showed up to keep a long-standing date for drinks, unaware of what had happened. He left when he saw we couldn't cope. The phones rang, the doorbell buzzed. Food and drink materialized out of nowhere.
Two telephone calls that night from overseas added new dimensions to Mary's death. The first came from President Kennedy's press secretary, Pierre Salinger, in Paris. He expressed his particular sorrow and condolences, and it was only after that conversation was over that we realized that we hadn't known that Pierre had been a friend of Mary's.
The second, from Anne Truitt, an artist/sculptor living in Tokyo, was completely understandable. She had been perhaps Mary's closest friend, and after she and Tony had grieved together, she told us that Mary had asked her to take possession of a private diary "if anything ever happened to me." Anne asked if we had found any such diary, and we told her we hadn't looked for anything, much less a diary. 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.
Now, James Jesus Angleton was a lot of things, including an extremely controversial, high-ranking CIA official specializing in counterintelligence, but he was also a friend of ours, and the husband of Mary Meyer's close friend, Cicely Angleton. We asked him how he'd gotten into the house, and he shuffled his feet. (Later, we learned that one of Jim's nicknames inside the agency was "the Locksmith," and that he was known as a man who could pick his way into any house in town.) We felt his presence ' was odd, to say the least, but took him at his word, and with him we searched Mary's house thoroughly. Without success. We found no diary.
Later that day, we realized that we hadn't looked for the diary in Mary's studio, which was directly across a dead-end driveway from the garden behind our house. We had no key, but I got a few tools to remove the simple padlock, and we walked toward the studio, only to run into Jim Angleton again, this time actually in the process of picking the padlock. He would have been red-faced, if his face could have gotten red, and he left almost without a word. I unscrewed the hinge, and we entered the studio. Mary was part of the Colorist school of Washington painters, led by Morris Louis and Kenneth Noland. Her paintings and paints in the palest colors, and simplest shapes, pretty much covered the studio. We missed the diary the first time, but Tony found it an hour later.
Much has been written about this diary-most of it wrong since its existence was first reported. Tony took it to our house, and we read it later that night. It was small (about 6" x 8") with fifty to sixty pages, most of them filled with paint swatches, and descriptions of how the colors were created and what they were created for. On a few pages, maybe ten in all, in the same handwriting but different pen, phrases described a love affair, and after reading only a few phrases it was clear that the lover had been the President of the United States, though his name was never mentioned.
To say we were stunned doesn't begin to describe our reactions. Tony, especially, felt betrayed, both by Kennedy and by Mary. She knew Jack liked her. Jackie had once said in our presence, "Jack, you always say Tony is your ideal woman." She liked Kennedy back, but had never done anything to encourage more than friendship. Kennedy had obviously sought more than friendship with Mary, and had found it with her encouragement.
Like everyone else, we had heard reports of presidential infidelity, but we were always able to say we knew of no evidence, none. We were quick to say the obvious: that the Bradlees saw the Kennedys almost always as a foursome, and under those conditions, Kennedy's extracurricular carrying on did not come up as a point of discussion. Of course, I had heard reports of girlfriends. Everyone had. Even my father, who was trying to get up the nerve in 1960 to vote for a Democrat for the first time in his life, asked me about rumors circulating among his friends that Kennedy was a "fearful girler." Kennedy had once looked over the guests dancing at a White House party and said to me, "If only we could run wild, Benjy." Another time he said, "They're always trying to tie me to some story about a girl, but they can't-there are none." (This was during the time of the story known to the press as "John's Other Wife," a false report that he had been married once before Jackie. ) And another time he referred to Mary Meyer as someone who would be "hard to live with." But it never occurred to me that these might be scraps of evidence of adultery.
Some time before she died, Mary Meyer confided to her friends James and Anne Truitt that she was having an affair with the President and keeping a diary about it. Truitt was then vice president of the Washington Post; his wife Anne was a sculptor and confidante of Mary. Following the 1963 suicide of Phil Graham, Truitt was sent to the Tokyo bureau of Newsweek, a Post company Before they left for Japan, Mary discussed the disposition of her diary in the event of her death. She asked the Truitts to entrust it to James Jesus Angleton, chief of counterintelligence for the CIA.
The Truitts were still in Tokyo when they received word of the towpath murder, but the Saturday after Mary Meyer's murder, five other friends, including Angleton and his wife Cicely, gathered at her Georgetown home to search for her diary.
They knew that Mary usually left her diary in the bookcase in her bedroom, where she also kept clippings about the assassination of JFK, but the diary was not there.
Drawing on his training and all the specialized tools at his disposal, Angleton combed her deep, narrow town house. But it was her sister, Tony, who finally found the diary in Mary's studio, locked in a steel box filled with hundreds of letters. She turned it over to Angleton and asked him to burn it. According to a November 12, 1995 letter to the New York Times Book Review jointly signed by Cicely Angleton and Anne Truitt, Angleton followed this instruction in part by burning the loose papers. He also followed Mary Meyer's instruction and safeguarded the diary. Years later, he honored a request from Tony Bradlee that he deliver it to her. Subsequently, Tony Bradlee burned the diary in the presence of Anne Truitt...
Fourteen years after the murder, the National Enquierer a story headlined JFK 2 YEAR WHITE HOUSE ROMANCE ... SOCIALITE THEN MURDERED AND DIARY BURNED BY CIA. The main source for the story was James Truitt. The former publishing executive had been motivated, he said, by Ben Bradlee's lack of candor in his own book, Conversations with Kennedy. "Here is this great crusading Watergate editor who claimed to tell everything in his Kennedy book," said Truitt, "but really told nothing,"
The Poses reaction to the story was to smear Truitt in a February 23 story that cited a doctor's certifications contained in court records that Truitt had suffered from a mental illness "such as to impair his judgment and cause him to be irresponsible." It quoted an anonymous Washington attorney to the effect that Truitt had threatened Bradlee and others in recent years with exposure of the "alleged scandals."
Journalists Ron Rosenbaum and Philip Nobile wrote about the mystery in New Times and concluded that: "the Post, while giving admirable play to an extremely touchy subject, created the hard impression that Truitt was an unreliable source-even though Bradlee knew that Truitt was essentially truthful about Mary Meyer and JFK."
Two telephone calls that night from overseas added new dimensions to Mary's death. The first came from President Kennedy's press secretary, Pierre Salinger, in Paris. He expressed his particular sorrow and condolences, and it was only after that conversation was over that we realized that we hadn't known that Pierre had been a friend of Mary's. The second, from Anne Truitt, an artist/sculptor living in Tokyo, was completely understandable. She had been perhaps Mary's closest friend, and after she and Tony had grieved together, she told us that Mary had asked her to take possession of a private diary 'if anything ever happened to me.' Anne asked if we had found any such diary, and we told her we hadn't looked for anything, much less a diary. 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.
It is only a matter of time, Angleton feels, until Bradlee makes a serious mistake, as he eventually does with the publication of Conversations with Kennedy, in which he mentions that Mary Meyer was murdered, but only in a footnote. A former Post editor named James Truitt is enraged at this; according to Truitt, Bradlee has forced him out of the paper in a particularly nasty fashion, with accusations of mental incompetence, and now Truitt decides to get back at Bradlee by revealing to other newspapers his belief that Bradlee's story on the Cord Meyers in Conversations with Kennedy was not the whole story; that Mary Meyer had been Kennedy's lover and that the day of her murder, James Angleton of the CIA searched her apartment and burned her diary. Their feud unnecessarily implicates Angleton, to his disgust and bitterness.
Does the evidence suggest that Mary Pinchot Meyer was bumped off as part of a conspiracy involving the assassination of President John F. Kennedy? The first question we must ask in order to answer this is, could Mary have gained information that was dangerous enough to warrant her being murdered? There is little doubt that Mary was in fact Kennedy's mistress, but, as his mistress, what could she have found out from him? If John Kennedy knew something of his own assassination, he certainly would have taken protective measures to prevent it. Furthermore, those who have read her diary give no suggestion that it contained any information having to do with the assassination. There was a conspiracy to cover up the existence of the diary, but it was the sole intent of that conspiracy to cover up Mary's affair with President Kennedy.
Mary's concern over her diary could suggest that she was aware of her imminent demise, but if she had information that was dangerous to her life, why didn't she talk about it? The more she talked, the less valuable her death would become, but she apparently did not make any such statements before her death, and none were included in her diary.
As discussed previously, the CIA connection with her death is really not all that mysterious. Mary had been married to a high ranking CIA official, and as a result, she knew people associated with the CIA. Ben Bradlee, an extremely liberal journalist and a member of the group that initially broke the Watergate scandal, is most zealous in denying a CIA connection that he allegedly helped cover up. Phil Nobilem and Ron Rosenbaum quote Ben Bradlee as saying in regards to the CIA connection, "If there was anything there, I would have done it (written the story) myself" (Philip Nobilem and Ron Rosenbaum, New Times 9th July, 1976)
Perhaps the best evidence that there was nothing sinister with Mary Meyer's death is the murder itself. Even though Ray Crump was eventually found "not guilty," it is fairly obvious that he probably did commit the murder. The case is officially unsolved, but the case is also officially closed.
The testimony of Henry Wiggins also suggests that Mary was not murdered as the result of a professional hit. He said she yelled, "Someone help me, someone help me," and then she was shot. As Tuco, played by Eli Wallach, said in The Good, the Bad, the Ugly, "When you have to shoot, shoot. Don't talk." A professional hitman would not try to molest someone before they killed him or her. This would only give the victim the opportunity to yell for help. A profession hit would be quick and as silent as possible so as not to draw attention. Mary Meyer's murder was apparently a botched rape or robbery attempt, in which, as she tried to escape, or get help, was gunned down.
After extensive investigating, we can see that Mary Pinchot Meyer's death had nothing to do with the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. As with so many other mystery deaths, we find that Mary Pinchot Meyer died because of an unlucky set of events. She was brutally murdered by a disturbed young man, as was her lover, as are so many people each and every day.
One evening while lying in my cell in the Federal Prison in San Diego reading the paper a headline in the San Francisco Chronicle caught my eye:
NEW JFK STORY-SEX, POT WITH ARTIST
James Truitt, the source for this sensational story, was identified as a former assistant to Philip Graham, publisher of The Washington Post. In interviews with "The National Enquirer, Associated Press and The Washington Post Truitt revealed that a woman named Mary Pinchot Meyer had conducted a two-year love affair with President John Kennedy and had smoked marijuana with him in a White House bedroom. A confident of Mary Meyer, Truitt told a Post correspondent that she and Kennedy met about 30 times between January 1962 and November 1963, when Kennedy was assassinated. Mary Meyer told Truitt that JFK had remarked, "This isn't like cocaine, I'll get you some of that." Truitt claimed that Mary Meyer kept a diary of her affair with the president, which was found after her death by her sister Toni Bradlee and turned over to James Angleton, chief of CIA counter-intelligence who took the diary to CIA headquarters and destroyed it. According to the Post another source confirmed that Mary Meyer's diary was destroyed. This source said the diary contained a few hundred words of vague reference to an un-named friend.
Mary Meyer's sister was quoted by the Associated Press as saying, "I knew nothing about it when Mary was alive."
The article also revealed that the former husband of Mary Pinchot Meyer was Cord Meyer Jr. one of the most influential officials in the CIA- the only agent who had been awarded the Distinguished Intelligence Medal three times.
I lit a Camel cigarette and walked across my cell to the window and looked through the bars out to San Diego Bay. My mind was reeling with questions. Why was the fact that Cord Meyer Jr. was a top CIA agent covered up in the first stories about Mary's assassination? How come Ben Bradlee, publisher of the Post, brother-in-law of Mary gave her diary to the CIA? Why did James Truitt, top official of the Post break his silence after all these years? What did Mary mean when she said, after Jack Kennedy's assassination, that he knew too much, that he was changing too fast?
On September 25, 1964, when the final copy of the Commission's report was delivered to the Bureau, it would be sans any questionable information regarding Cuban exiles, the Mafia, or the CIA. Hoover was pleased, Helms relieved, Kohly upset that Castro was not blamed, Masferrer and the Mafia dons delighted, and a host of other U.S. citizens-such as myself-puzzled. This was a condition that would not, however, last much longer for me.
Seventeen days after Hoover received the Warren Commission Report on September 25, 1964, I found out just how deeply I was involved in the Kennedy assassination. The unexplained October 12,1964 murder of Mary Meyer, former wife of Richard Helms' number-two man, and James Angleton's deputy, Cord Meyer, on the towpath of the C & O Canal in Georgetown, would confirm my revelation.
Mary Meyer, aside from being a good friend of Angleton and Robert Kennedy, had been the favorite mistress of John F. Kennedy. Unfortunately for Angleton, Mary was also the sister of Tony Bradlee, wife of Washington Post editor, Ben Bradlee. According to Tony, the friendship between Mary and Ben Bradlee ceased six months prior to her murder. It was due to an article Bradlee had published in Newsweek magazine alluding to her affair with the President.
After her murder, Bradlee claimed he discovered Angleton breaking into Mary's studio with a pick lock in an attempt to find her personal diary. Tony Bradlee, now divorced from Ben, says she found the diary among Mary's personal papers and turned it over to Angleton. Angleton maintained that he burned it along with other personal correspondence of the dead woman.
Angleton would be forced into retirement in late 1974 as a result of his involvement in the CIA's illegal "Operation Chaos," a secret domestic spy program that had been greatly enlarged under the Nixon administration.
Shortly prior to Mary Meyer's murder and after the release of the Warren Commission Report to the American public, I was contacted by Marshall Diggs who requested an urgent meeting. I had not heard from Diggs for nearly nine months and was alarmed by the urgency of his request. He suggested that we meet for lunch - at Paul Young's Restaurant in Washington. I arrived promptly,
Diggs looked much older than I had remembered him. What we discussed during the course of the next hour also aged me. After the waiter had taken our order and served our drinks, he discreetly retired. Then Diggs, without any preamble, informed me there could be a possible attempt on my life. My attention was immediate, focused and complete.
"There is a very prominent lady here in Washington who knows too much about the Company, its Cuban operations, and more specifically about the President's assassination."
Cautiously, I remarked, "So?"
"What my friend claims to know could frankly mean a lot of trouble for Kohly's people, myself, the former Vice President and especially you. If you remember, the President was killed shortly after Robert closed down your counterfeiting operation.."
"I remember, but ... Cuban involvement? We all thought that was a dead issue. Seriously, we never heard anything about such a possibility from the Warren Commission."
"Forget that," he said, shaking his hand at me impatiently, "and listen carefully. The Commission was suspicious, and had they been allowed to pursue certain leads.... well, it's probable you and I wouldn't be sitting here."
"Damn it, Marshall, if you're trying to frighten me, you are. It's over... and not one mention of Cubans, any Cubans, or the CIA. There isn't a hint of anything, other than that Oswald got up one morning and decided he didn't like the President."
"I wish his brother thought that," Diggs said, shifting his sad gaze from his plate to my eyes.
"You mean RFK?"
"Yes, RFK. Now damn it, listen. As I said, there's a certain lady in town who has an inside track to Langley, and most importantly, to Bobby. Fortunately, an intimate friend of mine is one of her best friends..."
I interrupted, "Marshall, who the hell are you talking about?"
I had caught him off guard. He stopped for a moment, pondering. Then he replied, "The woman in question is Cord Meyers' ex-wife, Mary"
"Mary Meyer. . . ." At first it didn't ring a bell, then it struck me. "You mean Cord Meyer of the CIA?"
"The same," he replied, "except Mary divorced Cord in 1956. Then, after lack Kennedy was elected, she started spending nights in the White House."
"Well, well, well," was all I could say.
"To get to the point, Meyer claimed to my friend that she positively knew that Agency-affiliated Cuban exiles and the Mafia were responsible for killing John Kennedy. Knowing of my association with Kohly, my friend immediately called me."
Trying to curb the fear that started my stomach churning, I tentatively asked, "Well, Marshall.... did Mario have anything to do with it?"
Soberly, he answered, "I don't know about Mario directly. If I were to hazard a guess I'd say del Valle, possibly Prio, because of Jack Ruby. I do know Mario had a lot to do with trying to pin the blame on Castro."
"Uh huh, del Valle, and are you trying to tell me lack Ruby is the gun runner we dealt with in buying Kohly's arms in Greece?" "The same."
At that point I could only expect the worse. I was starting to get that old feeling of total anxiety that gripped me last fall and winter. In almost a daze I said, "Well, it doesn't surprise me. So, why don't you warn him about Meyer?"
"That's the whole point. I don't know where he is and don't want to know. He's been told he's going to lose his appeal; so, he's preparing to jump bail and disappear."
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.
Mr. Meyer had married the former Mary Pinchot, a free-lance writer and editor, in 1945. One of the couple's three sons, Michael, died at age 9 in a car accident. Soon after that, the couple divorced.
Mrs. Meyer was fatally shot in 1964 as she walked along the towpath of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal in Georgetown. A day laborer found hiding in the bushes along the canal was acquitted of the crime, and it remains unsolved.
After her death, Mrs. Meyer's sister and brother-in-law said they saw the top C.I.A. counterintelligence officer, James J. Angleton, try to break into her home and take her diary.
Mrs. Meyer's brother-in-law, Benjamin C. Bradlee, later became executive editor of The Washington Post. The diary, which Mr. Bradlee and his wife found later that day, disclosed an affair between Mrs. Meyer and President John F. Kennedy.
Cord Meyer had married the former Mary Pinchot shortly after the war. Their 9-year-old son, Michael, was killed in an automobile accident in 1959. Shortly afterward, the couple divorced. Mary Meyer was slain along the C&O Canal towpath in 1964.
In the days after her death, her sister, Tony Pinchot, and Pinchot's then-husband, Benjamin C. Bradlee, observed CIA counterintelligence chief James Jesus Angleton, a colleague of Cord Meyer, attempting to break into Mary Meyer's house and recover a diary. Mr. Bradlee would later become executive editor of The Washington Post.
The diary, discovered later that day by Mr. Bradlee and Ms. Pinchot, revealed a romantic connection between President John F. Kennedy and Mary Meyer.
Kenn Thomas: This is an extraordinary story to me considering the flap that one hears about JFK's liaisons with Marilyn Monroe and Judith Exner, Mary Pinchot Meyer's name it's not a name that's brought up a lot. You indicate in the book that she had a diary and that it may still exist, that James Angleton took it. There's so much to this story that never gets talked about. May we explore it a little bit more?
Deborah Davis: Mary Pinchot Meyer, after she divorced Cord Meyer, moved to Washington and she was living in Ben Bradlee's garage, which had been made into an art studio and this is where she was living. And when she was killed on this tow path, James Angleton showed up at the garage at the studio. There's two versions of the story that I've heard. One is that he searched for the diary and found it and took it away, and the other is that Ben Bradlee handed it to him and he took it away. Supposedly he burned it, but people that knew Angleton say he never burned anything, he saved everything. So supposedly it still exists. Angleton is dead now, so if anybody has it it's probably his widow.
Kenn Thomas: There's no Freedom of Information way of accessing it I guess.
Deborah Davis: Not unless it's in official government files. It's a sketchbook. Bradlee talked about this in an interview with David Frost a couple of months ago and he said that it was just a sketch book and he's seen it and it only has sketches in it and a few pages of writing, but it wasn't a diary per se. Now I trust Bradlee about as far as I can throw him.
Kenn Thomas: NBC did a series on the JFK assassination this week and the last thing they did was roll a list of people who had been killed that were somehow connected to the JFK assassination and there Mary Meyer's name rolled by.
Deborah Davis : She was alive for another year. I don't know what went on in that year. Maybe she was trying to expose something. That's something that also worth looking into. There's a man right now doing a book on Mary Meyer which should be very interesting. His name is Leo Damore and I'm very much looking forward to reading that book. I'm sure it's going to have a lot of new information in it. It's not out yet but it will be soon.
(1) Why did Ben Bradlee (a journalist and family member) hand over Mary’s diary and letters to the CIA for destruction. Surely he must have realized that the contents of the diary and letters could have helped the police to solve the case. Also, these documents did not belong to the CIA, they should have gone to Mary’s two sons. The existence of these materials were not disclosed during cross-examination of Bradlee in the witness box. When he was asked what items of Mary private property he found in her house he mentioned a pocketbook. He did not mention the diary and letters. Nor did he tell the court that he found James Angleton in her house searching for documents.
(2) Why was James Angleton still spying on Mary in 1964? Why did he think it was necessary to break-in to Mary house soon after the murder to search for the diary and letters? He says it was to protect JFK’s reputation. If so, why was it so important for him to protect JFK’s reputation after his death. Anyway, Washington was full of women who had affairs with JFK. If this protection of the Camelot Myth was so important to Angleton, what did he intend to do to keep all the others quiet?
(3) The behaviour of Anne Truitt is very strange. One can understand why she phoned up Antoinette Bradlee on the night of the murder in order to get hold of the diary. But why would she ask Ben Bradlee to do this? Also, why would Anne phone James Angleton about the diary? Anne knew that Mary was highly critical of the CIA covert activities. Angleton would have been the last one Mary would have wanted to know about the diary.
(4) Is there any connection between Angleton searching for Mary’s diary and his stealing of Winston Scott’s manuscript in 1971. Scott was former CIA station chief in Mexico City who died suddenly while trying to get his memoirs published. According to Scott’s son, a CIA photograph of Lee Harvey Oswald at the Cuban embassy in Mexico City was taken away at the same time.
(5) All JFK’s friends have argued that he was unlikely to have spoken much about politics to his numerous girlfriends. However, several have said, if he discussed these matters with any woman, it would have been with Mary. Did JFK tell Mary anything of importance? As the former wife of a senior CIA official, Mary would have had other information to put together with this information. Is it a coincidence that Mary was murdered within days of the publication of the Warren Report? Would Mary have been able to testify that she had information that contradicted the Warren Report.
(6) Without the testimony of James Truitt in 1976 it is possible that this story would not have ever emerged. Truitt was probably Mary’s lover. They were definitely very close. As Philip Graham’s right-hand man, Truitt was almost certainly involved in Operation Mockingbird while working for the Washington Post. It was also a member of the Georgetown Crowd. In 1969 he was fired from his senior position at the Washington Post. At the time he was paid a large sum of “hush money”. In 1976 this was discovered by Washington Post reporter, Timothy Reardon, Ben Bradlee refused to allow the story to be published.
(7) Like others involved in Operation Mockingbird, Truitt became a heavy drinker. Like Wisner and Graham, he committed suicide with a gunshot to the head. His widow, Evelyn Truitt, claims that CIA agent Herbert Burrows stole all his documents. According to Evelyn these papers “covered thirty years of close work with government”. Was Truitt also murdered?
Cord Meyer gave expression to his support of Angleton in, "Facing Reality," an autobiography subtitled, "From World Federalism to the CIA." In the same volume, he comments briefly on the murder of his wife: "I was satisfied by the conclusions of the police investigation that Mary had been the victim of a sexually motivated assault by a single individual and that she had been killed in her struggle to escape." Carol Delaney, a family friend and longtime personal assistant to Cord Meyer, observed that, "Mr. Meyer didn't for a minute think that Ray Crump had murdered his wife or that it had been an attempted rape. But, being an Agency man, he couldn't very well accuse the CIA of the crime, although the murder had all the markings of an in-house rubout."
Asked to comment on the case, by the current author (C. David Heymann), Cord Meyer held court at the beginning of February 2001 - six weeks before his death - in the barren dining room of a Washington nursing home. Propped up in a chair, his glass eye bulging, he struggled to hold his head aloft. Although he was no longer able to read, the nurses supplied him with a daily copy of The Washington Post, which he carried with him wherever he went. "My father died of a heart attack the same year Mary was killed , " he whispered. "It was a bad time." And what could he say about Mary Meyer? Who had committed such a heinous crime? "The same sons of bitches," he hissed, "that killed John F. Kennedy."
Finally, in this regard, I must comment on the book's treatment of JFK and Mary Meyer. I was quite surprised that, as with Sheridan, Talbot swallowed the whole apple on this one. As I have written, (The Assassinations pgs 338-345), any serious chronicler has to be just as careful with this episode as with Judith Exner -- and to his credit, Talbot managed to avoid that disinformation filled land mine. Before criticizing him on this, and before I get smeared by people like John Simkin, I want to make a public confession. I actually believed the Meyer nonsense at one time. In fact, to my everlasting chagrin, I discussed it -- Timothy Leary and all -- at a talk I did in San Francisco about a year after Oliver Stone's JFK came out. It wasn't until I began to examine who Leary was, who his associates were, and how he fit into the whole explosion of drugs into the USA in the sixties and seventies that I began to question who he was. In light of this, I then reexamined his Mary Meyer story, and later the whole legerdemain around this fanciful tale. Thankfully, Talbot does not go into the whole overwrought "mystery" about her death and her mythologized diary. But he eagerly buys into everything else. Yet to do this, one has to believe some rather unbelievable people. And you then have to ignore their credibility problems so your more curious readers won't ask any questions. For if they do the whole edifice starts to unravel.
Foremost among this motley crew is Leary. As I was the first to note, there is a big problem with his story about Meyer coming to him in 1962 for psychedelic drugs. Namely, he didn't write about it for 21 years previous --until 1983. He wrote about 25 books in the meantime. (Sort of like going through 25 FBI, Secret Service, and DPD interviews before you suddenly recall seeing Oswald on the sixth floor.) Yet it was not until he hooked up with the likes of Gordon Liddy that he suddenly recalled, with vivid memory, supplying Mary with LSD and her mentioning of her high official friend and commenting, "They couldn't control him any more. He was changing too fast" etc. etc. etc. Another surprising source Talbot uses here is none other than CIA counter-intelligence chief James Angleton, the guy who was likely handling Oswald until 1962. Talbot actually quotes the nutty Cold Warrior, Kennedy antagonist and Warren Commission cover up artist waxing poetic about Kennedy being in love with Mary: "They were in love ... they had something very important." (p. 199) This from a man who, later on, Talbot admits loathed JFK and actually thought he was a Soviet agent.! (p. 275). A further dubious source is Jim Truitt, the former friend of Ben Bradlee who used to work for him at the Washington Post and was also friends with Angleton. Consider: Truitt had been trying to discredit President Kennedy while he was alive by saying he was previously married and had it covered up. In fact, he had pushed this fatuous story on Bradlee. And it appears that Truitt then started the whole drug angle of the story as a way of getting back at Bradlee and the Post for firing him. By 1969 he was so unstable that his wife sought a conservatorship for him and then divorced him in 1971. Truitt tried to get a job with the CIA and when he did not he moved to Mexico into a colony of former CIA agents. There he grew and smoked the mescaline-based hallucinogenic drug peyote. This was his sorry state when he first reported to the press about the "turned on" Meyer/JFK romance. He then shot himself in 1981. Here you have a guy who was a long-time Kennedy basher, became mentally unstable, was a CIA wannabe, and was planting and taking hallucinogenics with other CIA agents-- and then accuses JFK of doing the same, 14 years after the fact. Some witness, huh? I don't even want to mention the last major source Talbot uses to complete this rickety shack. I have a hard time even typing his name. But I have to. Its sleazy biographer David Heymann. Heymann wrote one of the very worst books ever published on Bobby Kennedy, and has made a lucrative career out of trashing the Kennedy family. For me, Heymann is either a notch above or below the likes of Kitty Kelley. But when you're that low, who's measuring?
Mary Pinchot Meyer had been married to senior CIA official Cord Meyer. The day following the murder, CIA counterspy chief James Angleton was found inside her Georgetown house hunting for her diary, thought to have included sensitive information about Kennedy. When the diary was finally found some time later, it was given to Angleton. It was subsequently said to have been destroyed by CIA.
Various researchers and observers have examined the case. Their opinions are divided. Some have tried to tie Meyer's murder to the assassination of Kennedy the previous year, and a few even suggest that the CIA was involved in both. However, there is another explanation.
When this writer was serving in the Department of State in the 1980s, a CIA officer told him that the KGB had murdered Kennedy's girlfriend. The KGB had made the murder look like a sexual attack that went awry, but CIA found out that in fact it was a KGB job.
How CIA learned this is not clear. The information could have come from a Soviet defector. CIA was evidently reluctant to reveal what it knew, so the case has gone officially unsolved for 43 years. Now this writer has taken a closer look at the case and considers that the American public's right to know its own history overrides any lingering concerns about revealing sources and methods, both very old by now.
The simplest, most telling explanation would be that Meyer knew something very damaging to the KGB, so it decided to eliminate her. A KGB contact in a D.C. neighborhood would serve as a cut-out who hired Crump to murder Meyer in a way that looked like a sexual assault that went bad. Crump was instructed to act dumb and even like a plausible sexual attacker, yet could remain confident that no D.C. jury would find him guilty as long as he safely disposed of the murder gun. Crump would presumably never know that it was the KGB that was paying for his work as a contract killer.
There is no specific reason to think that the Meyer murder was connected to the assassination of Kennedy. It would seem much more likely to be linked to what Meyer had been doing as a confidante of Kennedy during his presidency. However, the Meyer case suggests that the KGB was engaged in some way in Kennedy's personal life--to spy on him, to influence him, to blackmail him, or to get revenge on him for the humiliation of the Soviet Union in the Cuban missile crisis of 1962. This last motive could also have led the KGB to arrange for the assassination of Kennedy, and the use of a cut-out and contract killer in that case would have paralleled their use in the Meyer murder. However, the Kennedy assassination is a notoriously tangled and controversial affair, so it seems more prudent to treat the Meyer case as related only to Kennedy's time in office.
The theory that the KGB hired Crump to murder Meyer makes excellent sense of the available evidence regarding the case. Crump was a violent, ruthless man. His lingering in the vicinity of the crime strongly suggests that he wanted to be arrested. His weeping and other behavior were nothing more than acting. He was a contract killer who, according to this theory, did the bidding of the KGB.
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.