Lectures given for Dealey Plaza, UK, Canterbury, Kent, UK. April 26th and April 27th, 2014. Canterbury Christ Church University.
By Joan Mellen
The theme of my talks is “Murder Wol Out.” I cannot resist invoking Geoffrey Chaucer, because this was what Jim Garrison believed, even in the face of the dishonesties of Robert Blakey and the House Select Committee On Assassinations. Blakey made his deal with CIA early in his tenure, and it wasn’t long before he corrupted the good investigation pursued with thoroughness and subtlety led by Miami investigative reporter, the late Gaeton Fonzi.
“Judge, this is going nowhere,” former New Orleans homicide detective L. J. Delsa told Jim Garrison.
Delsa was the New Orleans homicide detective who became part of HSCA’s Louisiana team. Delsa left the committee in disgust after he and Robert Buras were suspended for giving Thomas Edward Beckham a polygraph (an LCFLUTTER in CIA speak). Beckham passed.
“The truth will come out,” Garrison told a discouraged Delsa, echoing the great poet who catapulted this town into history.
Let me begin by offering some of the trajectory that brought me to where I am, writing at the moment about Lyndon Johnson and his involvement in the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty on June 8th , 1967.
I first set my foot on this path in May of 1969. My husband, Ralph Schoenman, who was working with Bertrand Russell at the time, sent Jim Garrison a series of articles from Paese Sera, a newspaper of the independent left in Italy. These articles were about a CIA front in Europe called PERMINDEX. One article named Clay Shaw as a member of the board of directors, noting that he had been arrested that very month by Jim Garrison in New Orleans as a participant in a conspiracy to murder President Kennedy.
Shaw had been observed traveling the Louisiana countryside with Lee Harvey Oswald, the accused assassin. With them was a CIA contract pilot named David Ferrie.
Jim Garrison invited my husband and me to meet him in New Orleans. He registered us at the Monteleone Hotel on Royal Street in the French Quarter as “Mr. and Mrs. Lyndon Baines Johnson.” Later I would discover that Jim Garrison had defined the “Sovereignty Commission” as meaning that black people were not supposed to walk down Royal Street (the Sovereignty Commission was a retrograde entity that during its brief existence was dedicated to thwarting integration).
I noticed that walking down the street on the way to Moran La Louisiane, his favorite restaurant, Jim Garrison was greeted by virtually every black person that passed us. He was so wrapped up in talking about the Kennedy assassination that it never came up in the conversation that he was District Attorney of Orleans Parish. In my research, long after his death, I would learn from Dr. Frank Minyard, a close Garrison friend, and the coroner of Orleans Parish, that when he entered the homes of black people for the purpose of taking custody of a dead person he would discover more often than not three photographs: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; John F. Kennedy; and Jim Garrison.
Another minor detail to which Garrison did not bother to refer during that weekend was that only four months earlier he had lost the case against Clay Shaw, that Shaw had been acquitted. On that day, Garrison had said, Clarence Darrow lost the Scopes case (defending the teaching of the views of Charles Darwin). Who remembers that?
Garrison was convinced that CIA was behind the assassination of John F. Kennedy. As he said, when he looked at Oswald in Louisiana during the summer of 1963, he noticed that Oswald was not only never “alone,” so much for the “lone assassin” theory, but that everyone he was seen with had some connection to CIA. So my interest in CIA which has grown over the years was connected to this foundation I received from Jim Garrison, and to the early years of my own political education.
I first decided to write a book about Jim Garrison in the early 1970s. He had been arrested on federal charges for accepting bribes from illegal gambling interests. He told us that he had been framed. I believed him. Having to defend himself in federal court effectively removed him from investigating the Kennedy assassination, which he had planned to continue.
So the federal government succeeded, at least temporarily, in slowing him down. F. Lee Bailey volunteered to represent him free of charge. By the end of the trial Garrison was representing himself. This allowed him to defend himself without being subjected to cross-examination by federal prosecutors not particularly committed to telling the truth.
The person who had framed Garrison, providing doctored tapes, was Pershing Gervais, whom he had known since he had joined the Army in 1939 and who had been his first chief investigator. Gervais had been one of those CIA had planted in his Kennedy investigation.
Then, bored with living in Canada under the witness protection program, Gervais changed his mind and told a reporter that he had lied, that Garrison had never taken a cent from the crime figures who owned the pinball machines, that he didn’t have a dime to his name, which was true. The police officer who drove Garrison, Steve Bordelon, confirmed this for me. He emptied Garrison’s pants pockets every night when he brought him home, Bordelon said. There was never any money. Dr. Minyard told me that, after Garrison’s death, he went through his desk drawers and there were old National Guard checks that Garrison had never bothered to cash.
The last perfect person walked the earth more than two thousand years ago, Garrison told the jury in his closing statement at his federal trial. His comments were so moving, so affecting, that one of his old adversaries, a law school classmate named Judge Tom Wicker, and, unlike Jim Garrison, a person from the right side of the tracks, a person who thoroughly disapproved of Jim Garrison, proclaimed it “brilliant.”
I wanted to write a book about Jim Garrison then. But it wasn’t until 1997 that I actually began to work on “A Farewell To Justice” in earnest. After that book was published, I realized that the story was not complete: the story was about “Who Rules America” in the light of the Kennedy assassination, and how power moved so decisively into the hands of the intelligences services, joining the military-industrial complex that was President Eisenhower’s shorthand for who held the power.
The most recent evidence: I closed the book with Thomas Edward Beckham, who told me that he had been prepared by CIA to be what we can call an “alternative patsy.” A scientist looked at JFK’s arrival photographs at Love Field. In the small crowd that had gathered stood – Thomas Edward Beckham. I shoed this photographic comparison between the Love Field photograph and a shot of Beckham at the same period to Judge Charles McKnight, the man to whom Beckham had confided that he had been in Dallas on November 22nd. After looking at the photographs, Judge McKnight gave his verdict on whether they were a match: “Affirmative.” I had the scientist calculate the height of the Beckham figure in the Love Field photograph. It was five foot six inches.
Now let’s return to our history of CIA.
A whole book could be written about the President’s National Security Council, for example, and how members of that august body have been involved in political decision making. Thanks to the machinations of Allen Dulles, the directives of the National Security Council have carried the weight of law.
In 1946, fresh from having run the OSS office in London, David K. E. Bruce was among President Truman’s shrewdest advisors. Bruce was an elegant Virginia lawyer, who would become the premier American diplomat of the twentieth century. His posts would include France, Germany, the Court of St. James’s, and NATO; he would be the first envoy to China. I once interviewed Arthur Schlesinger on the subject of David Bruce, and, naively, asked him how he would account for the fact that David Bruce served such disparate presidents of different parties: Roosevelt; Truman; Eisenhower; Kennedy; Johnson and Nixon.
“He respected the office, not the man,” Schlesinger said.
In an attempt to help Truman define the new intelligence agency that was being proposed by James Donovan, Allen Dulles and James Forrestal, Bruce published an article in the Summer 1946 issue of the Virginia Quarterly Review. It was titled “The National Intelligence Authority.”
Bruce is emphatic. He asserts that the function of the new agency under consideration should be the “procurement and evaluation of information of major importance.” Such efforts, Bruce wrote, would produce “jewels, the precious gems of intelligence.” Bruce lamented that the intelligence division of the Navy had “always occupied a position well below the salt,” a locution he borrowed from Henry VIII. To sit at table below the salt was not an influential place to be. Over the years it would be Admirals and officers of the Navy who would chastise CIA for its many illegal and criminal activities. Bruce came to fear that CIA might evolve into what he called an “American Gestapo.”
Bruce’s caution regarding a “national intelligence authority” was prescient. Within a year, Allen Dulles had commandeered the diplomat George Kennan, who had served in Moscow during the war, in 1948 to write a National Security Directive, known as 10/2. Famously, 10/2 enabled CIA to behave like the “American Gestapo” David Bruce had feared it might become. President Truman’s first Director of Central Intelligence, Admiral Roscoe H. Hillenkoetter, believed that even CIA’s use of psychological warfare required Congressional authorization.
No matter, 10/2 afforded to CIA powers that ranged from black propaganda, murder, assassination, and a multitude of lesser illegalities, crimes and misdemeanors that included the very psychological warfare that Admiral Hillenkoetter believed should require the approval of Congress.
CIA was granted the power to engage in “propaganda; economic warfare; preventive direct action, including sabotage, anti-sabotage, demolitions, and evaluative measures; subversion against hostile states, including assistance to underground resistance movements, guerrillas and refugee liberation groups.” Paramilitary and terrorist methods were from the start acceptable as part of covert political warfare.
Years later, Kennan was contrite: Testifying before the Church committee, he said: “It did not work out at all the way I had conceived it…I regret to say operations of this nature are not in character for this country.” (Today, of course, they are the defining norm). In 1989 Kennan told a biographer that his authorship of 10/2 was “the greatest mistake I ever made.”
By the time George Kennan wrote up National Security Council directive 10/2, CIA had already begun OPERATION GLADIO subverting the elections in Italy, and seeing to it that the Christian Democrats defeated a coalition of socialists and Communists. GLADIO included paramilitary operations, “black bag” operations, and the enlistment of veterans of Mussolini’s secret police, joined by Mafia stalwarts.
CIA chief counsel Lawrence Houston told Admiral Hillenkoetter, who had raised questions about the legality of GLADIO, “You do not have the authority.” Although Allen Dulles was not employed officially by the Agency until 1951, we can see how influential he was in shaping the identity of CIA. In 1992 a CIA apologist named F. Mark Wyatt would justify Operation GLADIO as having “save[d]” the Italians even if it meant “going beyond our charter.” 10/2 rendered GLADIO legal.
In 1948, George Kennan also suggested that Allen Dulles head the new covert action program, a reflection of how instrumental a role Dulles had been taking as the new intelligence service took shape. When Truman would not appoint him, Dulles outmaneuvered the president yet again. He pushed into prominence at CIA an old OSS colleague who shared his appetite for covert action. His name was Frank Wisner, and he was an unstable man whom Dulles knew would be malleable. Frank Wisner, became Assistant Director for Policy Coordination.
In September 1948, Wisner requested the “cooperation and assistance of the FBI,” promising to keep the FBI informed of CIA’s domestic activities. “Going back to OSS days,” James Angleton admitted to the Church committee in 1975, “we’ve had operations that were domestic.” CIA never was what David Bruce had suggested it should be: an organization dedicated to the collection of foreign intelligence.
The pretext for CIA independence then was the threat of “Soviet expansion and aggression,” as terrorism has more recently justified CIA torture and pre-emptive murder by drones and otherwise. In the early years of the Col War, only the Navy protested, and a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of State, Admiral Arthur W. Radford stated that “in almost every respect…there has been an almost hysterical assumption of great capabilities on the part of the Communists, some of which, in my opinion, do not exist.”
President Eisenhower feared and loathed the clandestine services of CIA, but he did not dare, even in his second term as President, to name them in his farewell address warning. Uneasy with both Dulles brothers, Foster, his Secretary of State, and Allen, President Eisenhower appointed General James Doolittle, a pilot famous for having bombed Japan in 1942 in retaliation for Pearl Harbor, to write a “Report on the Covert Activities of the Central Intelligence Agency.”
In 1954, Doolittle produced a 69 page text written “with the very active support and cooperation of Allen Dulles.” The import of the text was that CIA should enjoy carte blanche, financial and otherwise.
“Hitherto acceptable norms of human conduct do not apply,” Doolittle wrote. He argued that American history was “stained with blood” and that America had been created by “fundamentally repugnant wars” such as Indian wars, the American Revolution, the Mexican War and the Civil War. The CIA-engineered wars were no different.
Not surprisingly, the report submitted by Doolittle justified all manner of CIA skullduggery on the ground that American history is dotted with violence going back to the wresting of the land from native Americans and James K. Polk’s forays into Mexico to grab all the land from Texas to California. There were no limitations on what CIA could do, and no accountability.
When we think of CIA’s later antics, the assassination of foreign leaders, its complicity in the Kennedy assassination, and its participation in the cover-up of the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty, we need to be reminded of Kennan/Dulles’ National Security Directive “10/2” and by Dulles’ efforts over the years to run a CIA that resembled what David K.E. Bruce had warned might become an “American Gestapo.”
Appalled by the Doolittle report, Eisenhower appointed a Board of Consultants on Foreign Intelligence Activities. To this committee, he appointed the aforementioned David K. E. Bruce. Then Eisenhower re-assigned this task of writing a report on the clandestine services to David Bruce, whom he was about to appoint to be Ambassador to Germany.
The Bruce-Lovett Report (Robert Lovett, Truman’s Secretary of Defense worked on the report with Bruce) is devastating in its condemnation of the clandestine services. Bruce excoriates “the increasing mingling in the internal affairs of other nations” by CIA in its “King-making propensities” and its “rogue elephant” operations. He corrects the Cold War mythology about the Soviets, to noting that the Soviet Union, which had lost twenty-eight million people to Hitler, was less about expansion than about survival. Then Bruce argues that under the guise of “frustrating the Soviets, almost any [covert] action can be and is being justified.”
Bruce deplores CIA secrecy. “No one, other than those in the CIA immediately concerned with their day-to-day operations, has any detailed knowledge of what is going on,” he wrote. Meanwhile – and this was something President Kennedy would oppose too, CIA was enjoying “almost unilateral influence…on the actual formulation of our foreign policies.” Ambassador Bruce knew from his own experience that CIA’s activities were “sometimes completely unknown to the Ambassador or anyone.”
He adds that supporters of George Kennan’s 10/2 “could not possibly have foreseen the ramifications of the operations which have resulted from it.” The Directorate for Plans was operating “on an autonomous and free-wheeling basis in highly critical areas,” its actions “in direct conflict with the normal operations being carried out by the Department of State.”
Bruce concluded that CIA’s clandestine services had led America to a “virtual abandonment of the international golden rule” and were “responsible for stirring up the turmoil and raising the doubts about us that exist in many countries of the world today.” He could have been thinking of the Islamist movement day when he asked: “Where will we be tomorrow?”
It was in 1961 before a Cuban Board of Inquiry relating to CIA and the Bay of Pigs that Robert Lovett recalled David Bruce’s indignation as he was writing up the report. “What right have we to go barging into other countries buying newspapers and handing money to opposition parties or supporting a candidate for this, that or the other office?” CIA’s clandestine services had committed “outrageous interference with friendly countries” that was “beneath the dignity and principles of the United States.”
The Bruce-Lovett report concluded that Congress had never intended to grant a United States Intelligence Agency authority to conduct operations all over the earth.” Their recommendation was that CIA should “confine itself to its mandate, the harder and more tedious work of collecting intelligence.”
President Eisenhower appointed David Bruce in 1957 to be Ambassador to Germany. As soon as he arrived at Bonn, Bruce summoned CIA station chief John Bross, an “old DDP operator,” as his CIA colleague Ray Cline described him. (DDP stands for Deputy Director for Plans, a synonym for the clandestine services).
“I don’t want to hear the sound of a single CIA spade digging without my approval,” Bruce warned Bross.
CIA ignored all criticism. When President Kennedy stood up to them, and attempted to redefine CIA’s mandate by cutting its budget and limiting the powers of the Director of Central intelligence, when Kennedy proposed the appointment of a Director of National Intelligence to minimize the power of the Director of Central Intelligence, he didn’t live to tell the tale. (It would be George W. Bush who would attempt to limit CIA by creating a Director of National Intelligence; by then it was too late. CIA re-asserted itself and the Director of National Intelligence became a powerless non-entity as CIA slid back into its old powerful role.
That John F. Kennedy dared to suggest that he would remove even the Special Forces he so admired from Vietnam, that he consistently refused to engage a ground war in Vietnam, despite the pleadings of such friends of CIA as his own national security advisor McGeorge Bundy, by 1963 meant that, from the point of view of CIA John F. Kennedy was violating HIS mandate.
The United States was firmly planted in Indochina even before the French took their leave, certainly by 1954, the moment of Dien Bien Phu. Thanks to Philippe de Vosjoli, the French clandestine services officer assigned to liaison with CIA, the United States had been funding the French war in Indochina. The transition was all but seamless, and it may well have been Vietnam that Eisenhower had in mind when he authored those familiar words in his farewell address about a “military industrial complex.” Even before the Kennedy assassination, even before John F. Kennedy became president, Eisenhower knew enough not to add CIA to his equation of whom the American body politic had to fear.
By appointing such a cabinet, Dean Rusk, Robert McNamara, Bundy, and other friends of CIA like Walt Rostow, Kennedy in history reveals that only late in his presidency did he properly perceive the threat CIA posed to the country, as to himself. Those appointments also suggest that soldier of fortune Gerald Patrick Hemming was onto something when he remarked, to me as to others, that John F. Kennedy was the last president who thought he could take power.
The threat of assassination was a reality for every president thereafter. A small digression: it was John F. Kennedy who brought Walt Rostow into the government, and a conservative, Otto Otepka, running State Department Security, who attempted to deny Rostow clearance, a prescient decision indeed. (See the long essay on Otepka in the Updated version of A Farewell To Justice). Rostow, of course, prevailed, and we can observe his virulence during the Johnson administration.
As for the Bruce-Lovett report, it has vanished without a trace. All we have is the pale, heavily redacted fragment printed by Tim Weiner in “Legacy of Ashes” and the quotations in Arthur Schlesinger’s biography of Robert F. Kennedy. Schlesinger read the Bruce-Lovett Report in the Robert Kennedy papers at the John F. Kennedy presidential library. This document was quickly withdrawn. The Virginia Historical Society, which houses David Bruce’s papers, does not contain a copy. Nor is there a copy among President Eisenhower’s papers. Nor is there a copy at the National Archives. Nor is there one at City University of New York which hosts Schlesinger’s papers. Nor does the Bruce-Lovett report reside among Robert Lovett’s papers.
“The NYT [New York Times] computer can be monitored,” reads a document signed by Theodore C. Poling and issuing from the Counter Intelligence Research & Analysis branch of the Agency. By 1975, CIA was bragging that it could hack into the New York Times’ computers. This Agency has shown no hesitation in destroying inconvenient records.
It is through Jim Garrison’s investigation and through the activities of Lee Oswald in Louisiana that we have our best evidence for CIA involvement in the assassination of President Kennedy. We can observe CIA infiltrating Garrison’s investigation through at least nine plants placed within Jim Garrison’s office to report on his witnesses and attempt to subvert them, to steal documents. These plants, among them Pershing Gervais, Raymond Beck, Tom Bethel, William Gurvich and William Martin created such mayhem and disarray in the office that Jim Garrison began to spend most of his time working at home. Garrison was more likely to appear in the office on a Saturday than any other day. An elevator big enough to carry only one person, himself, delivered him to his private bathroom so he never had to walk in to his office through the front door.
High on the list of priorities of the plants who had burrowed into Garrison’s investigation was to make it impossible for him to convict Clay Shaw. This was important because, as we now know beyond a doubt, but Garrison only surmised, Shaw was, to quote a document issuing from CIA’s History Review Group, a “highly paid CIA contract source.”
That the infiltration of these plants into Garrison’s office was an Agency initiative is revealed in a document released under the John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act. This document is dated June 20, 1975 and is addressed to CIA’s Inspector General Via Deputy Director for Administration. Its author is Charles W. Kane, then Director of Security” and its subject is the hiring of “private investigative firms.” It names, in particular, Robert Maheu, long a CIA asset, as well as director of security for Howard Hughes, himself a CIA asset.
In this document, CIA admits that “since 1950 the Office of Security has engaged in a program whereby a number of qualified individuals throughout the United States have been employed as independent contractors to conduct background investigations on behalf of the Agency.” (Remember, as I mentioned earlier, Angleton’s admission that CIA had always operated domestically, whatever the charter reads).
This program was “known within the Office of Security as the Confidential Correspondent Program.” Those hired were mostly retired U.S. Government investigators. It was a way of the Agency keeping itself at one remove from its own operations. “Each Confidential Correspondent is carefully selected and security approved before any investigative tasks are assigned,” the document goes on to say. Sometimes the “Confidential Correspondent was issued U.S. government credentials. At other times they received “commercial cover credentials.” Headquarters approval was required before an individual was permitted to use his own cover.
Maheu, the document acknowledges, was utilized by the Office of Security in connection with several sensitive assignments during the period 1954 through 1962. Having been paid a salary of $500.00 a month from February through July 1954, Maheu was then reimbursed on a “case-by-case basis.” The Agency admits it had proprietary investigative firms of its own. Or CIA used private investigative firms as cover for their own employees.
William Gurvich, who with his brothers ran a private investigative firm specializing in the Port of New Orleans, and who infiltrated Garrison’s investigation, fits this profile exactly. Gurvich’s chain of communication with CIA went through Hugh Aynesworth, a CIA media asset writing for both The Dallas Morning News and Newsweek. Aynesworth used his Newsweek column to ratchet up the cover of Walter Sheridan who went down to New Orleans – he admitted this openly – to “discredit” Jim Garrison’s investigation under cover as an NBC correspondent. Aynesworth wrote about how fine a “journalist” operative Sheridan was.
It has recently emerged that the Office of Security had an office of its own in every city where CIA had a field office.
Among the CIA people dealing with Oswald in New Orleans – that we know of, were Guy Banister, of course; Kent Courtney, with whom Oswald traveled to Baton Rouge; David Ferrie, who had known Oswald since his days in the Civil Air Patrol; and Clay Shaw, who obviously was assigned by CIA to maneuver Oswald both in New Orleans, where Oswald, Shaw and Ferrie were spotted together at Shaw’s house on Dauphine Street, and, of course in Clinton and Jackson, north of Baton Rouge. Garrison was unable to use those Paese Sera articles in court since he could not verify their facts. To cover CIA’s tracks, Richard Helms would later lie and say that Paese Sera was a conduit for the views of the KGB. The editors to whom I spoke were livid about this, declaring that they despised KGB and CIA equally. One declared that he would like to see both abolished if not in his lifetime, than in that of his son.
Only after Garrison’s death did a document surface that unequivocally admitted to Shaw’s service to the Agency. I was able to discuss it only in the Updated edition of A Farewell To Justice that was published in September 2003 by Skyhorse.
This document, dated February 10, 1992, is from J. Kenneth McDonald, then the Chief of CIA’s History Review Group. It’s part of the result of the history staff’s survey of CIA records from the House Select Committee. On page two, under number 7, “CIA Complicity?” while denying “any CIA involvement with Oswald,” CIA includes the following: “These records reveal, however, that Clay Shaw was a highly paid CIA contract source until 1956.” (Another CIA document, more accurate with regard to the end date of Shaw’s service, and dated June 28, 1978, describes Clay Shaw’s service to CIA as running from 1949 through 1972. This document emerged from the Office of Security, that most sensitive of CIA components).
Socialite and snob, Clay Shaw would never have traveled around the state of Louisiana with the likes of a nondescript ex-Marine had he not been on assignment. Indeed, early in the investigation, Garrison assistant named Richard Burnes had telephoned Shaw and asked for a “John Shaw.”
“Who are you from? Who sent you?” Shaw said. Clay Shaw was a man accustomed to strangers finding their way to his door.
It is irrefutable that Shaw did for Oswald in New Orleans what George de Mohrenschildt, that international man for sale, did in Dallas and Fort Worth. Two large CIA Office of Security files resting at the National Archives are of interest in this regard. They date from 1967 and are brimming with more than two hundred documents and photocopies of clippings pertaining to the Garrison case and Clay Shaw. The file jackets, however, are not marked “Garrison” or Shaw.” Instead they read: “George de Mohrenschildt.” It is in the Garrison investigation that CIA left ineradicable footprints.
Just to complete the point, and these facts have long been part of the record, J. Walton Moore, who headed up the Dallas field office of CIA, was the person who recruited George de Mohrenschildt to, in de Mohrenschildt’s words, “keep tabs on” Oswald. Moore had long been acquainted with de Mohrenschildt as the recipient of de Mohrenschildt’s reports for the International Cooperation Administration, a CIA entity abroad. We know, famously, from Victor Marchetti’s revelation, Richard Helms’ remark, are we doing enough for that guy down there? referring to Shaw, that Shaw was well known to at least two CIA components, the clandestine services and also the Office of Security.
Since some doubts have been raised about George de Mohrenschildt’s connection to CIA, allow me to add what has also been long known. In Haiti, where de Mohrenschildt moved after he was done with Oswald, CIA, along with the 902nd Military Intelligence Group, kept de Mohrenschildt on what looks like twenty-four hour surveillance. His dinner parties, which were frequent, were attended by CIA’s man, “Conrad V. Rubricius,” a pseudonym, I believe. Rubricius’ reports to CIA’s Port au Prince station chief have been released to the National Archives.
Rubricius was particularly interested in de Mohrenschildt’s relationship with a Haitian banker and seeming Duvalier supporter, named Clemard Joseph Charles. Those dinner parties at the home of George and Jeanne de Mohrenschildt make fascinating reading, and I tried to include as much detail of the conversations as I could in my book Our Man In Haiti. The subtitle of that book is “George de Mohrenschildt and the CIA in the Nightmare Republic.” I wanted to leave off the definite article “the” from that subtitle because the correct locution is “CIA,” not “the CIA,” but the publisher thought it might seem like an error to the uninitiated. (In its internal review of A Farewell To Justice, CIA pooh-poohed this caution about the use of the definite article, but in fact no one at CIA uses it. See CIA.gov for this article).
As is well known by now, James Angleton saw to it that every piece of de Mohrenschildt’s mail in Haiti was copied to the Agency. Some letters turned out to be from the new husband of one of de Mohrenschildt’s ex-wives. Then each of de Mohrenschildt’s correspondents was subjected to an investigation by the FBI. Hoover was irritated at having to perform this task, but the FBI complied.
As former Congressman Ron Paul would complain, CIA was soon “everywhere.” The cover-up of the Kennedy assassination by CIA is matched by CIA’s role in covering up the assault on the USS Liberty, a surveillance ship that was attacked on June 8, 1967 by unmarked mirage jets firing rockets and dumping napalm on unarmed sailors on a clearly marked American vessel situated off the coast of Israel and Egypt. I mention this incident here because the BCC did a strong documentary on the subject called “Dead In The Water.”
The entire U.S. government, led by Lyndon Johnson, participated in the betrayal of the men on the USS Liberty. If you wonder what role CIA played, in this film Richard Helms, then the Director of Central Intelligence, is interviewed. As was typical for Helms, he gave up nothing.
“You ask McNamara about that,” Helms says with a sneer. Helms doesn’t deny that he knows some considerable detail about what happened to the Liberty. Rather he says “I don’t have to answer questions.” This holds true for CIA in its history: they have been accountable to no one and have never had to answer for their actions, let alone those that were unilateral.
The “Top Secret” document released by CIA on “The Israeli Attack on the USS Liberty” is riddled with lies. It claims that the Liberty “apparently was not able to establish communications with other units of the US Sixth Fleet,” which was false. Its claim that the Commander of the US Sixth Fleet “sent attack aircraft from the carriers America and Saratoga to protect the Liberty” was false. Planes were sent off, but they were called back – twice – and the second time Lyndon Johnson himself came on the telephone lest there be no mistake: no help was to be sent to the Liberty.
CIA declares that “none of the communications of the attacking aircraft and torpedo boats is available,” which is false. CIA says that intercepted conversations “leave little doubt that the Israelis failed to identify the Liberty as a US ship before or during the attack” “The Israeli offer of assistance was declined because of the sensitive mission of the ship” is a particularly infuriating misstatement. In fact, the Captain, furious when one of the Israelis attacked asked if they needed anything and wanted to board the Liberty, the Captain said “go to hell.” I go into the issue of the Liberty today because it so clearly reveals the brazenness with which CIA was making policy decisions, sometimes as in the case of the USS Liberty in concert with the President of the United States, and sometimes on its own.
We can see power shifting from the President to CIA in the last year of John F. Kennedy’s term. In the midst of its warfare with President Kennedy, CIA convened a “working group” to strengthen the power of the Agency. Among its recommendations was “more effective support” to the Director of Central Intelligence, the very opposite of what John F. Kennedy was proposing.
More power was to go to each of the personal assistants to the DCI and a Comptroller’s officer to report directly to the DCI and have “full authority for total fiscal control of the Agency.” The General Counsel’s staff was to report directly to the Director of Central Intelligence.
CIA wanted a new entity, the “Special Task Force Operations” that would report directly to the DD/P, a “command mechanism” that would handle such projects as the Cuban operation. The 35 page document is titled MEMORANDUM FOR: Director of Central Intelligence. It’s dated 6 April 1962 and its SUBJECT is: “Final Report of Working Group on Organization and Activities,” which sounds innocent enough, but is anything but.
Simultaneous with the writing of this report, let us look in on a formidable CIA asset of the time and see what he is up to and how CIA exercised power over U.S. foreign policy through its assets at the moment of the Kennedy assassination. His name is Michael J. P. Malone, and he enters the story as a vice-president of the Czarnikow-Rionda sugar brokerage based on Wall Street, and in Cuba. Before that, Malone had been the most favored of the personal assistants of the Archbishop of New York, Francis, Cardinal Spellman.
Cardinal Spellman was the recipient of multiple intelligence contacts and made himself available both to CIA and to the FBI, enlisting priests in Latin American countries as spies. As his biographer put it, Cardinal Spellman worked “as an agent of the United States government.”
Michael J. P. Malone enters into my book The Great Game In Cuba as the right hand man of Robert J. Kleberg, Jr., president of King Ranch, the largest in the United States. Kleberg hired Malone to manage his ranch in Cuba, a satellite of King Ranch called Compania Ganadera Becerra. There he performed such functions as spiriting people out of prison and out of danger. Among those he rescued was CIA’s David Atlee Phillips. Through one of his manifold contacts, Malone discovered that Castro had targeted Phillips. CIA then quickly moved him out of Cuba.
CIA had awarded Malone his own cryptonym, AMPATRIN. Malone was so close to the Agency that he mimicked them, creating his own code names for people: Robert J. Kleberg, Jr, whose identity had to be protected, was “Uncle.” Fidel Castro was “Giant.” Allen Dulles, who was very close to both Kleberg and Malone, was “the man with the pipe.” Malone also awarded U.S. government agencies with their own codes: AID, high in CIA machinations, was 001.
My favorite scene in The Great Game In Cuba depicts a meeting between Malone and David Atlee Phillips. Malone’s code name for Phillips was “my Chivas Regal friend,” for the Scotch whiskey. You can see from the memorandum that Malone wrote of their meeting how CIA was conferring with its favored assets to determine U.S. foreign policy, to the chagrin of President Kennedy. The year was 1962. It had long been a distant remedy for CIA to abide by David Bruce’s suggestion that it “confine itself to its mandate, the harder and more tedious work of collecting intelligence.”
Robert J. Kleberg, Jr. sheltered under the radar of notoriety. It was Malone who lobbied CIA officials to come up with policies acceptable to defense contractors, industrialists, and figures highly placed in American business. Malone and Kleberg in their conversations had no respect for the President, either for his power or for his abilities. They sometimes called John F. Kennedy “Little Boy Blue,” someone child-like, naïve and way out of his depth.
Indeed President Kennedy knew that the Agency was his enemy, but obviously he did not realize that this was a mortal enemy. He sent Richard Goodwin down to the Caribbean to ask INTERPEN, Gerald Patrick Hemming and his associates, to take control of RADIO SWAN, a CIA communications entity created by David Atlee Phillips. Hemming, to Howard K. Davis’s surprise, turned him down. The loyalty of these people was to CIA and not to the President. (My source was not Hemming, with whom I spent many hours – he didn’t mention it – but Howard K. Davis, who disagreed with Hemming’s decision).
When Michael J. P. Malone met with David Atlee Phillips on March 30, 1962, among the topics on the agenda was whether Kennedy would commit troops to another invasion of Cuba. Two weeks earlier, on March 15th, Kleberg had summoned Lyndon Johnson to King Ranch. Kleberg despised Lyndon Johnson for good reasons which you can read about in The Great Game In Cuba. Still, Kleberg needed information now and so he brought Johnson to the ranch for a report on John F. Kennedy’s intentions with respect to Cuba.
“Will Kennedy act against Castro and commit U.S. troops to Cuba?” Kleberg said.
Kennedy will not commit troops to Cuba, Johnson said. Kennedy’s position had been set six months before he learned of the presence of Soviet missiles in Cuba. He would not invade again.
Malone wanted to be certain and so he asked for Phillips’ assessment of Johnson’s claim that President Kennedy would not commit troops to another invasion of Cuba. In Malone’s report, he writes: “If Little Boy Blue was confronted with a situation he would act with firmness despite Vietnam and Berlin.” History suggests that Phillips was wrong about that. But CIA moved in its own realms.
At that meeting with Malone, Phillips praised the successor to Richard Bissell as DD/P, Deputy Director for Plans, “a very good man.” This was Richard Helms, about whom we might disagree with Phillips. Both Phillips and another of Malone’s CIA contacts, Raford Herbert, held out the hope, or so they said, that “an appropriate climate” would soon be created in Cuba “favorable to some type of activity to overthrow the Castro government.”
The memorandum of this meeting is fascinating because we can see what CIA was really about, and that was protecting the interests and opportunities of American business in the countries of Latin America. Phillips remarked that nothing should be done for Brazil “until they are straightened out.” The military was divided; CIA “hoped to get them together.” Goulart was a “son of a gun.” Indeed, when John F. Kennedy asked Robert J. Kleberg, Jr. to invite Goulart to King Ranch during a visit to the United States, Kleberg had no choice but to agree, but he absented himself from the ranch on that day.
Phillips remarked that the US must punish Argentina’s Arturo Frondizi because he had voted against the exclusion of Cuba from the Organization of American States. His successor, Jose Maria Guido, who was backed by the military and supported armed action against Cuba, was more acceptable to CIA.
Military juntas were preferable to democratically elected presidents because they could be bribed into protecting the interests of American business. Operations against Cuba would go on, Phillips said, but they would have to take place from an off-shore area because of “security of the operation.”
Malone’s memos were copied to Frank O’Brien of the FBI’s field office in New York. Malone operated as if the FBI and CIA were on the same team, a position that recalls the 1948 agreement that Frank Wisner, heading the clandestine services of that day, had forged. It was an agreement of “mutual cooperation” and was as old as the Agency itself. These documents have been released to the National Archives, but with Phillips’ name redacted.
Michael J. P. Malone’s name appears on documents discussing the activities of Alexander Rorke, a solider of fortune involved in infiltrations of Cuba. He had been involved with Pedro Diaz Lanz, a crack Cuban aviator, and they were supplicants at Robert J. Kleberg’s door. It was only after the FBI released Rorke files revealing that Malone was assisting him with plans and funds courtesy of CIA that CIA felt compelled to share the name “Michael J. P. Malone” with history.
Malone reappears in The Great Game In Cuba in the story of Gustavo de los Reyes, another Cuban who was the recipient of Robert J. Kleberg’s support, and who died in March at the age of one hundred. When after four years he was released from Castro’s prison on the Isle of Pines and came to the United States, de los Reyes was determined to write an article about his experiences. Michael J. P. Malone recommended Reader’s Digest which my research revealed was accessible to CIA and under its control. CIA officers became the intermediaries between de los Reyes and Reader’s Digest.
Among them was one Al Rodemeyer, who put Malone in touch with Ken Gilmore, the editor based in Washington, D.C. and was closest to the Agency. I learned that Reader’s Digest had operated under the sway of CIA from the early days of the Agency when it printed disinformation on behalf of Operation GLADIO. From then on, Readers’ Digest had enjoyed “most favored status” with CIA.
Malone arranged for de los Reyes to fly to Washington and in June 1964 Rodemeyer sent him a typewriter so he could write the article in his hotel room. Another CIA officer in on the project was Charles Matt.
Before it was over, de los Reyes had been subjected to the blue pencil of CIA censorship. CIA cut a passage in which de los Reyes described how the U.S. government had known that the prison on the Isle of Pines had been mined to blow up should there be another armed invasion of Cuba. (There’s an echo here of the callousness of the U.S. government’s abandonment of the sailors of the USS Liberty).
CIA censored several other passages. The Agency objected to de los Reyes’ contrast between the “superior classes” who fled Cuba and the “humble classes without the means to escape,” but who “had to remain in Cuba and fight.”
These cuts suggested CIA was objecting to the implied criticism of its betrayal of people appalled by the Agency’s hypocrisy and sabotage of their efforts. This is the central theme of The Great Game In Cuba, which reveals that CIA had far less interest in deposing Fidel Castro than its rhetoric implied.
De Los Reyes had met with Allen Dulles to ask for his help in the cattlemen’s plot to overthrow Castro; CIA cut all references to this meeting, which had been described at length in the article. Dulles had revealed that he was willing to help de los Reyes – only if CIA had control of the operation, and if de los Reyes accepted CIA money, something de los Reyes refused to do.
Kleberg himself was appalled when he learned how deeply CIA had censored the article. Then he told de los Reyes, “Let them do what they want because it’s better to tell the public something of what is happening on the island than to tell them nothing.” Kleberg sent Michael J. P. Malone to persuade de los Reyes to accept a compromise. “It’s against my honor to accept this,” de los Reyes said. “Everything in there is a lie.” Then he signed an agreement, allowing Readers’ Digest to publish the article.
As a key to understanding the Kennedy assassination, after the publication of A Farewell To Justice I had decided to write a book called “The Texas Robber Barons and CIA.” Kleberg would have been a major figure in that story, along with Herman and George Brown. My research led to a document out of CIA’s Office of Security that stated unequivocally that Herman and George Brown, as well as a long list of Brown & Root executives, were assets of CIA’s clandestine services. I was able to show the connections of defense contractors with CIA.
I recommend this eight page document, dated December 20, 1967. Its subjects are: “RAMPARTS” and “BROWN AND ROOT.” The first page lists nine Brown & Root employees who were approved for Agency contact use, and the dates of their clearances.
Only on the fifth page do first George, and then his older brother, Herman Brown, the founder of Brown & Root, appear with the dates of their clearances. Herman’s Covert Security Approval is listed as beginning on 3 December 1953 and continuing until 15 February 1966. The end dates of CIA service on these documents, as we have seen from the documents outlining the dates of Clay Shaw’s service to the Agency, are always questionable. That end date of 1966 notwithstanding, Herman Brown died in December 1962, the month that the sale of Brown & Root to Halliburton was finalized.
Then the publisher balked. This was too much. CIA has become a taboo subject on many television stations and in newspapers, unless a segment of the government is behind the criticism. So I published two of the sections separately. The chapter on Robert J. Kleberg, Jr., and the one on George de Mohrenschildt in Haiti, each became separate books. The chapter on H. L. Hunt and his sons became an “Addendum” to Our Man In Haiti.
Another of the chapters of “Texas Robber Barons and CIA” was to explore the relationship between Lyndon Johnson and a man named Malcolm Everett Wallace. Of all the chapters, this was the one that most intrigued the publisher. It seemed to promise an answer to who sponsored the Kennedy assassination and that’s the book I’m completing now. I’ll talk about Lyndon Johnson and Mac Wallace tomorrow.