David Sanchez Morales was born on 26th August, 1925. He spent his early life in Phoenix, Arizona. A Mexican-American, Morales was later to be nicknamed El Indio because of his dark skin and Indian features. As a boy his best friend was Ruben Carbajal. After his mother divorced his father he was virtually adopted by Carbajal's parents.
Morales attended Arizona State College in Tempe (now Arizona State University) during the 1944-45 school year, before moving to Los Angeles and attending the University of Southern California (1945-46).
Morales joined the United States Army in 1946 and after basic training was sent to Germany where he was part of the Allied occupation force. According to Ruben Carbajal, Morales was recruited into army intelligence in 1947. However, officially he was a member of 82nd Airborne. It was during this time he began associating with Ted Shackley and William Harvey.
In 1951 became a employee of the Central Intelligence Agency while retaining his army cover. The following year he joined the Directorate for Plans, an organization instructed to conduct covert anti-Communist operations around the world.
In 1953 he returned to the United States and after a spell at the University of Maryland he assumed cover as a State Department employee. Morales became involved in CIA's Black Operations. This involved a policy that was later to become known as Executive Action (a plan to remove unfriendly foreign leaders from power). This including a coup d'état that overthrew the Guatemalan government of Jacobo Arbenz in 1954 after he introduced land reforms and nationalized the United Fruit Company. After the removal of Arbenz he joined the staff of the US embassy in Caracas (1955-58). During this time he became known as the CIA's top assassin in Latin America.
Morales moved to Cuba in 1958 and helped to support the government of Fulgencio Batista. In 1960 Wayne S. Smith was a State Department officer in the American Embassy in Havana. Smith tells the story of being in a bar in Havana with Morales. After a heavy drinking session Morales began talking about the CIA’s secret operations that involved frog men operating out of Guantanamo Bay. Smith told Gaeton Fonzi (The Last Investigation) that Morales was very indiscrete when drunk. According to fellow CIA agent, Robert N. Wall: "He (Morales) was a rough-neck. He was a bully, a hard-drinker and big enough to get away with a lot of stuff other people couldn't get away with.”
In November, 1961, William Harvey arranged for Morales to be posted to JM/WAVE , the CIA station in Miami. Morales was operations chief for the CIA's covert operation to train and infiltrate teams into Cuba to destabilize the Castro government. Morales reported directly to veteran Agency covert operator Ted Shackley, who was the Agency’s Miami bureau chief. In May, 1962, Morales was seconded to ZR/RIFLE, the plot to assassinate Fidel Castro. During this period he worked closely with David Atlee Phillips, Tracy Barnes, William Pawley, Johnny Roselli and John Martino.
Some researchers such as Gaeton Fonzi, Larry Hancock, Noel Twyman, James Richards and John Simkin believe that Morales was involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy. It has been suggested that others involved included Carl E. Jenkins, Rafael Quintero, William Pawley, Roy Hargraves, Edwin Collins, Steve Wilson, Herminio Diaz Garcia, Tony Cuesta, Eugenio Martinez, Virgilio Gonzalez, Felipe Vidal Santiago, Theodore Shackley, Grayston Lynch, Felix Rodriguez, Thomas Clines, Gordon Campbell, Tony Sforza and William (Rip) Robertson.
According to CIA agent Tom Clines, Morales helped Felix Rodriguez capture Che Guevara in 1965. "We all admired the hell out of the guy. He drank like crazy, but he was bright as hell. He could fool people into thinking he was stupid by acting stupid, but he knew about cultural things all over the world. People were afraid of him. He was big and aggressive, and he had this mystique. Stories about him permeated the Agency. If the Agency needed someone action-oriented, he was at the top of the list. If the U.S. government as a matter of policy needed someone or something neutralized, Dave would do it, including things that were repugnant to a lot of people.”
In 1966 Ted Shackley was placed in charge of CIA secret war in Laos. He recruited Morales to take charge at Pakse, a black operations base focused on political paramilitary action within Laos. Pakse was used to launch military operations against the Ho Chi Minh Trial. In 1969 Morales moved to Vietnam where he officially worked as a Community Development Officer for the International Development Agency.
Morales moved to Chile in 1970. He was a member of the team that used $10 million in order to undermine left-wing forces in the country. Morales told friends that he had personally eliminated several political figures. He was also involved in helping Augusto Pinochet overthrow Salvador Allende in September, 1973.
After arriving back in the United States Morales moved to Washington where he became Consultant to the Deputy Director for Operations Counter Insurgency and Special Activities. Larry Hancock believes that during this period he provided advice to right-wing governments (Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay, Chile, Brazil and Argentina) as part of Operation Condor.
According to his friend, Ruben Carbajal, in the spring of 1973, Morales talked about his involvement with the Bay of Pigs operation. He claimed "Kennedy had been responsible for him having to watch all the men he recruited and trained get wiped out". He added: "Well, we took care of that SOB, didn't we?"
Another example of Morales indiscretion was allowing his photograph to be taken by Kevin Schofield at the El Molino restaurant on 4th August, 1973. The picture appeared in the Arizona Republic with the following text: “Feted by friends at a fiesta Saturday was former American counsul to Cuba, David Sanchez, left, who was in that country when Castro took over… In government service for 28 years, Sanchez is now consultant in the office of deputy director for Operations Counter-insurgency and Special Activities in Washington.”
Soon afterwards Morales left the CIA. However, he continued to make regular trips to Washington. When asked about this by his friend Ruben Carbajal, Morales replied: “Oh, they run into some problems, I have to go up there and take care of them. These people never let go of you.”
Morales built a new house at El Frita, which is about half-way between Willcox and the Mexican border. Morales told another friend, Robert Walton, that he had put in the best security system in the United States. Walton said, “What do you need so much security for? You're still thirty miles from the Mexican border.” Morales replied, “I'm not worried about those people, I'm worried about my own."
Gaeton Fonzi, staff investigator for the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HUCA) found out about Morales from CIA asset, Paul Bethel, who worked for David Atlee Phillips. It was suggested that Morales might have been the “Latin-looking” man seen with Lee Harvey Oswald in New Orleans during the summer of 1963.
Fonzi had also read David Phillips’s autobiography, The Night Watch: 25 Years of Peculiar Service. It includes a reference to a CIA agent who used the code-name Hector (William (Rip) Robertson) and his “sidekick ‘El Indio’, a massive American of Mexican and Indian extraction I had seen only briefly during the revolt (the CIA-stage 1954 Guatemala coup) but was to work with in other operations over the years.” El Indio was Morales.
When Fonzi interviewed David Atlee Phillips on behalf of the HSCA he asked him about Morales. Phillips said that Morales was an unimportant figure in the CIA and suggested that he might have died as a result of his heavy drinking. At this stage Morales was still alive. What is more, Morales was far from being an important figure, he had in fact been Chief of Operations at JM/WAVE in 1963 and at the centre of the operation to kill Fidel Castro. Fonzi also discovered that Morales had worked very closely with John Rosselli, who also played a key role in the plots against Castro. Rosselli was to be one of the first people to be interviewed by the HSCA but went missing in July 1976. His body was later discovered in the Intracoastal Waterway in North Miami. He had been cut up and stuffed into a 55-gallon steel drum.
Morales began to worry about his own health during the HSCA investigations. Rip Robertson had died in 1970 and could not be interviewed. William Pawley committed suicide in 1977 when he was asked to appear before the HSCA. The other key figure, in the assassination of John F. Kennedy, CIA officer, Carl E. Jenkins, had remained deeply undercover and was not being investigated by the HSCA.
David Sanchez Morales made his last trip to Washington in early May, 1978. Ruben Carbajal had a drink with Morales a few days later. Carbajal told him he looked unwell. He replied: “I don’t know what’s wrong with me. Ever since I left Washington I haven’t been feeling very comfortable”. That night he was taken to hospital. Carbajal went to visit him the next morning. As Carbajal later recalled: “They wouldn’t let no one in, they had his room surrounded by sheriff’s deputies.” Later that day (8th May) the decision was taken to withdraw his life support. Morales’s wife, Joanne, requested that there should not be an autopsy.
In a letter sent to John R. Tunheim in 1994, Bradley E. Ayers claimed that nine people based at JM/WAVE "have intimate operational knowledge of the circumstances surrounding the assassination" of John F. Kennedy. Ayers named David Sanchez Morales, Theodore Shackley, Grayston Lynch, Felix Rodriguez, Thomas Clines, Gordon Campbell, Rip Robertson, Edward Roderick and Tony Sforza as the men who had this information.
Bradley E. Ayers was interviewed by Jeremy Gunn of the Assassination Records Review Board in May, 1995. According to Gunn: “Ayers claims to have found in the course of his private investigative work, a credible witness who can put David Morales inside the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles on the night of June 5, 1968 (RFK’s assassination)."
In January 2004, E. Howard Hunt gave a taped interview with his son, Saint John Hunt, claiming that Lyndon Baines Johnson was the instigator of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and that it was organised by Morales, Cord Meyer, David Atlee Phillips and Frank Sturgis.
While researching a documentary, Shane O'Sullivan discovered a news film of the Ambassador Hotel on the day Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated. Bradley Ayers and other people who knew them, identified David Sanchez Morales, Gordon Campbell and George Joannides as being three men in the hotel that day. An article about this story appeared in The Guardian and on BBC Newsnight on 20th November, 2006.
From 1971-1975, I served as a counterinsurgency advisor for Latin American matters to the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington, D.C. During this period I traveled extensively throughout Latin American countries, primarily Argentina, Panama Paraguay and Uruguay. In all these assignments I worked directly with senior officials of the government of the country to which I was assigned. In all cases my responsibility was one of insuring that U.S. Government policies were understood and, insofar as possible, coordinated supported, and carried out.
It was while sitting in the El Molino one night, that Ruben Carbajal told Bob Dorff and me about the times he and Bob Walton had gone to Washington to meet Morales and about the trip on which they met other high-ranking CIA officials. To obtain more details about those meetings, I suggested we talk to Walton. The next morning, a Saturday, Carbajal called him and Walton agreed to drive down from his home in Scottsdale to meet the three of us at the Holiday Inn.
Walton is in his mid-fifties, a pleasant, ruddy-faced fellow with Irish good looks and an easy, straightforward manner. He remembers their first trip to Washington as being in the spring of 1973. "I had had a coronary in November of 1972 and Rocky and I started talking about getting into business shortly after that. When you're from a dry climate like Arizona and you go back there in the summer you're just sweating like a pig. But I don't remember being uncomfortable, so I think it was early in the spring of 1973."
Walton corroborates the reason for the trip and the meeting with Morales: "We felt, or at least Rocky felt, that he could give us an inside track on who were the people who were for real and who were not. That was a big concern of mine because I had already been on one wild goose chase, spent an expensive week in Nassau waiting for a transaction to close and it never did."
Their evening with Morales, Walton remembers, was both very pleasant and, in more than one way, especially memorable. "We all went out for dinner, which was very nice. It was Rocky and his wife, me and my wife and Rocky's mother and father."
Morales, not someone who trusted strangers or even associates easily, obviously was impressed by Walton's character and, although their commodities business never took hold, he later called on Walton to represent him on a few matters back in Phoenix. It was something Morales said at one of those subsequent encounters in Phoenix that makes Walton put what had happened in Washington in a very special perspective.
"Morales was building a big, new house out near Willcox," Walton says. "Actually, it was in a little town called El Frita, which is about half-way between Willcox and the Mexican border. It's a remote area, I've only driven that road once in my life. It's an agricultural area, they grow the famous jalapenos peppers there. I never got to see the house, but he had just finished it and was describing it to me when he mentioned that he put in it the best security system in the United States. And I remember asking him, thinking he was worried about burglars or being robbed, 'What do you need so much security for? You're still thirty miles from the Mexican border.' And he said, 'I'm not worried about those people, I'm worried about my own.' "
That struck Walton as curious. "What do you mean?" he asked.
"I know too much," Morales said, then quickly dropped it.
Remembering that now, Walton views his first meeting with Morales in Washington as being far more significant than he realized. After dinner, the whole party went back to the Dupont Plaza Hotel. It was late and Carbajal's parents and his wife returned to their rooms and Ruben and Morales returned to the Waltons' room with them. "Didi ended up staying all night," Walton recalls. "My wife went to sleep somewhere around two in the morning and Rocky and I and Didi drank and talked from when we got back from dinner - maybe that was about eleven o'clock at night - until about six in the morning. "
The drinking got heavy. "We had consumed quite a bit of alcohol," remembers Walton. "At one point, between the three of us we had gone through a fifth of Scotch and we had to re-order. It was a real contest." He pauses and smiles. "Ah, my younger days, my misspent youth!" And as the night and the drinking go on, defenses come down and candid truths emerge. "You know," says Walton, "you get in a kind of position where you say, 'All right, I told you everything about me, what are you all about?' "
Morales began with his war stories. Walton remembers him talking about the killing in Vietnam and Laos, about being involved in the capture of Che Guevara in Bolivia, of hits in Paraguay and Uruguay and Venezuela. ("He said his wife was [in the country] with him and they had real trouble getting him out of town. They almost bought the farm on that one.")
The drinking and the talking continued. At one point, Morales began probing Walton for a bit of his own background. Walton had gone to Amherst College in Massachusetts and, as part of his developing interest in political science and politics, he had done some volunteer work for Jack Kennedy's Senatorial campaign. Later, at Harvard Law, Walton was head of a student group which invited then Senator Kennedy to speak at Cambridge.
Walton never got to explain the details of that association. At the first mention of Kennedy's name, he recalls, Morales literally almost hit the ceiling.
"He flew off the bed on that one," says Walton. "I remember he was lying down and he jumped up screaming, 'That no good son of a bitch motherf*****!' He started yelling about what a wimp Kennedy was and talking about how he had worked on the Bay of Pigs and how he had to watch all the men he had recruited and trained get wiped out because of Kennedy."
Walton says Morales's tirade about Kennedy, fueled by righteous anger and high-proof booze, went on for minutes while he stomped around the room. Suddenly he stopped, sat back down on the bed and remained silent for a moment. Then, as if saying it only to himself, he added:
"Well, we took care of that son of a bitch, didn't we?"
I looked at Ruben Carbajal, who had remained silent while Walton was telling me this. Carbajal looked at me and nodded his head. Yes, he was there, it was true. But, in all the long hours we had spent together and all the candid revelations he had provided, it was a remembrance he couldn't bring himself to tell me about his friend Didi.
It's also clear that like many of the men directly involved with the Bay of Pigs, Morales felt that John Kennedy was a coward and very likely a traitor to his country. Morales expressed his tremendous anger about seeing his friends butchered in remarks to both Carbajal and his lawyer and business partner, Robert Walton.
David Morales felt especially strongly about John Kennedy. At one point while in Walton's office. Morales noticed a small Kennedy ceramic decal and immediately offered to break it into pieces for Walton.
However, on one special evening after approximately eight hours of extremely heavy drinking, Morales went a good deal farther than that. It was in the spring of 1973, five years before his death. Morales entered into a heated exchange with Robert Walton while Reuben Carbajal and Walton's wife listened. The subject was John Kennedy.
At some point, Walton began to talk about himself, his background, his interest in politics and doing volunteer work for Kennedy's campaign. At that point. Morales literally flew off the bed of the hotel room in which they were drinking and started screaming curses against Kennedy and talking about how Kennedy had been responsible for him having to watch all the men he had recruited and trained get wiped out.
Several minutes later after he had worn himself out. Morales sat back on his bed and after a minute of silence simply said to himself, "Well, we took care of that SOB, didn't we?" Not bragging, no bluster, just talking to himself.
When a man of David Morales' rank, position, experience and reputation makes a first person remark about "taking care of the President of the United States, it deserves to be taken seriously - when the man in question can be shown to have been in the same location at the same time and with an established association with John Martino, a man who confessed to his personal participation in a conspiracy to murder the President, Morales' remarks become extremely significant.
Morales, we knew him in 1960. He was another from the United States Embassy in Havana and he was linked to another official, an American official from the embassy Robert Van Horn. He was a major in a conspiracy with Rolando Masferrer and a North American citizen Geraldine Chapman. This was a plot to kill Fidel Castro to promote an armed uprising. This plot started in 1959 and our agent, which is already dead was a man that had lived many years in New Orleans and then lived in Miami in 1959, and he was named Luis Tacornal. And also there was another agent that was his partner in New Orleans and had always things to do with the case.
The plot had as a main operative to kill Fidel Castro in Ramiro Valdez house at that time he was the head of the security service. In February 1960 there was an official from the (CIA) headquarters called Luis C. Herber to supervise the operation. Of course we made this operation fail. We have penetration of all the organizations and in November all the people in the plot were arrested except for the diplomatic, of course. And this was published in the Cuban press. They were on trial in it.
There is another moment when we knew about David Morales. In 1973 we arrested one of the CIA agents that used to be a member of the Batista police he was recruited in 1958. He was called Francisco Munoz Olivette and he told us about the official that was in charge but of course he had a different name... We didn't know who he was. However, he was sure that it was someone who had worked in the embassy. So we showed him the photographs of the people working in the embassy... and he identified David Morales as Moralma. He told us in those days, I mean, I mean Francisco Munoz Olivette, but in several moments Morales or Moralma had told him about a plot against Fidel Castro's life that he had headed in 1959. And that this plot was going on, to be carried out in the headquarters of the military air force. We never knew who this person was. But after having so much information in our hands we think that this could be Frank Sturgis because Frank Sturgis was in a plot with Fidel in the Air Force with Jerry Hemming and with Pedro Luis Diaz Lanz and the last information on Morales. We have it from Cubela. Cubela told us when he was arrested that he had interviews with at least three CIA officials from Latin origin. In different moments we didn't know who they were but in 1978 in Havana there was a youth festival and there was an activity that had to do with an explanation to the youth about the CIA activities against Cuba. Cubela agreed on going to this meeting to explain which were his activities with the CIA in those days. It was published by the Grama magazine newspaper several histories about CIA activities, one of them was this one about Francisco Munoz, where David Morales photograph was shown.
Morales was put in charge of the assassination. He employed people he had been working with in Miami to undermine the government of Cuba. This included figures in the ant-Castro Cuban community. It also involved American military advisers to groups like Alpha 66. The Cubans believed that the reason for this plot was that after the assassination of JFK, LBJ would order the invasion of Cuba. In fact, this was never the objective. It was part of the overall conspiracy to keep Castro in power. The presence of a communist state so close to the United States helped to reinforce the communist threat and the need for massive arms spending.
The Cubans would obviously feel betrayed when they realised Castro would not be toppled. Those Cubans who knew anything about the assassination had to be got rid of. Soon after the assassination most of this group were sent on a mission to kill Castro and create a reason for the United States to invade Cuba. This group was betrayed to the Cuban Secret Service. As a result they were executed in Cuba. A few Cubans remained. Some of these were the victims of hit men (who had no idea why they were killing them).
I think David Morales was the one who put together the Dealey Plaza operating cells via the use of cutouts. I don't think (David) Phillips had any direct operational imput but he may have played a part in shuffling Oswald around. (William) Harvey I don't think was directly involved but I'm sure he knew what was happening. Who the controlling elements above Morales were, I can only guess at.
According to Tom Clines, Morales helped capture guerrilla leader Guevara in 1965. Along with Anthony Sforza, another Agency operative about whom little has been written publicly, Clines says he and Morales were the three-some that Shackley relied on most often for difficult and potentially messy assignments. “He pretty much used us to do whatever he wanted done,” Clines says.
Morales in particular, could be counted on to get the job done, Clines says, no matter how difficult. Usually, he handled the dirty work himself. “He’d take off on the spur of the moment to fulfil some obligation without spending three weeks getting ready to go," Clines says. “And he came through. In the Dominican Republic in the 1965 campaign (in which the Agency helped lay the groundwork for an invasion by U.S. Marines) we needed a radio station taken out. We sent Dave. He told us when he would have it off the air, and when the time came ‘snap’ it was gone. He had dressed like one of the locals and gone in and blown it up.”
“We all admired the hell out of the guy. He drank like crazy, but he was bright as hell. He could fool people into thinking he was stupid by acting stupid, but he knew about cultural things all over the world.
“People were afraid of him. He was big and aggressive, and he had this mystique. Stories about him permeated the Agency. If the Agency needed someone action-oriented, he was at the top of the list. If the U.S. government as a matter of policy needed someone or something neutralized, Dave would do it, including things that were repugnant to a lot of people.”
Former CIA agent Edwin Wilson also credits Morales with the capture of Guevara. “He was a hard-drinking SOB, but he was the best operator the Agency ever had,” Wilson told author Richard Billings in an as-yet unpublished 1988 interview (Billings is writing a book about the CIA and the Iran-contra affair).
Morales was in Southeast Asia during the late Sixties, where the Agency ran some of the biggest covert operations of the Cold War. A 1968 state department roster says he was stationed in Vientiane, the Laotian capital, in 1967. He was a “community development administrator” with the Agency for International Development, which was frequently used as cover by CIA agents. Clines says he ran one of the Agency’s regional headquarters in Laos while Morales ran another.
From ‘68-‘69, Morales was one of four regional CIA directors in South Vietnam and over-saw the Agency’s component of the bloody Phoenix program. It was portrayed by its supporters as an aggressive effort to buttress the political support for the U.S.-backed South Vietnam government by converting skeptical Vietnamese into faithful followers of the U.S.-backed South Vietnam government. The motto was “if you grab them by the balls, their hearts wil1 follow.” But William Colby, who later became CIA director, acknowledges the Phoenix program turned into a mass assassinations program in which suspected Vietcong were killed by the thousands.
Former Army officer Paul Ogg, who was assigned to the CIA and worked under Morales during ‘68-‘69, recalls him as a hard-working and demanding superior, but also someone he liked working for. “He supported me in every way,” Ogg recalls. “I’d trust him with my life. We used to play volleyball. He was very pleasant around me, but I suspect there was also a lot about his work with the Agency that he wasn't willing to share.”
Morales never made a big secret of his Agency work. He even introduced two of his closest Arizona friends to his fellow CIA agents, including Sforza and Wilson. Long-time friend Carbajal says Sforza told him he considered Morales his brother. They were both stationed in Cuba when Castro took power, he said.
Carbajal and Scottsdale, Arizona, lawyer Robert Walton say they were introduced to Wilson by Morales during a business trip to Washington D.C. in 1973. They say Morales had agreed to help them launch a commodities business. During their meeting at Morales’ Arlington, Virginia apartment, Wilson encouraged Carbajal and Walton to get into the weapons business, instead. He offered to sell them arms, and suggested they, in turn, sell them in Mexico, where Carbajal had a business.
“Wilson showed me a list with everything from hand-grenades to tanks,” Walton recalls. “It wasn’t the kind of high-tech stuff you’d use to go up against the Israeli’s with, but it would have been very useful in places like El Salvador.”
Morales’ Arizona friends say they never did buy any arms from Wilson. A few, years later Wilson was convicted of selling arms to Libya illegally. He’s still in prison; he didn't respond to a request for comment.
Walton says he also recalls one long night during which Morales drank a lot of alcohol and reminisced about his days doing dirty work for the CIA around the globe. Morales talked about helping launch the Bay of Pigs invasion, capturing Guevara, killing guerrillas in Uraguay, and personally assassinating political leaders in Venezuela and Laos. “I don’t trust anybody else to do it,” Walton recalls Morales saying. “I do it.”
Says Walton, “I got the impression he was the Agency’s number one hit man.”
Carbajal says Morales claimed credit for having killed dozens of Tupamaro guerrillas in Uraguay in a door-to-door search of the apartment building where many of them lived. Morales took a matter-of-fact approach to killing, Cabajal says. “He was all business when it came to taking care of his government,” Carbajal recalls. “His attitude was ‘This is my duty. We’re going to do it.’”
Shackley kept a tight rein on the PM squad. He demanded to be informed of all the details of a mission. He ordered the station's cowboys to submit detailed operational plans. Case officers dreaded the time when they had to brief Shackley on a proposed action. Rocky Farnsworth, chief of covert operations, resented the intrusions of Shackley, who had no experience in this field. After a short time of wrangling with Shackley over specifics of various missions, Farnsworth dropped an ultimatum: if you don't quit interfering, I'm out of here. Shackley responded, you're out now. He replaced Farnsworth with Dave Morales, a large, mean-talking veteran of the CIA's coup in Guatemala. Morales was devoutly loyal to Shackley. "He would do anything, even work with the Mafia," Tom Clines recalled. Morales hated communists, and years later bragged to an Agency colleague how he had once in South America parachuted out of an airplane with men he suspected of being communists. Before they all leaped, the story went, Morales sabotaged the parachute packs of the Reds. He had the pleasure of waving good-bye to them, as they plummeted to death.
I make reference to your letter of February 23d and my subsequent communications with your staff in preparation for our meeting which is scheduled for 10.00 CDT this morning. I appreciate the opportunity to visit with you concerning matters relating to the assassination of President Kennedy and your appointment as a member of the board that will oversee the release of documents pertaining thereto.
Over the past several months I have furnished your staff with details of my background and other materials which I trust have provided you with some perspective for the information I hope to personally convey. Assuming you have read or been briefed on the essence of this history, I will not dwell upon it here. However, I take this opportunity to convey copies of two documents which I recently received that relate directly to our discussion of this date. They are self-explanatory.
With the context of our meeting hopefully established, I wish to call your attention to the following specifics which I urge you and the Board to be alert for and to pursue within the framework of your mandate. These areas of interest and individual identifications are recommended as adf.rect result of my experience with the CIA/JMWAVE Miami station during the period immediately preceding and following the death of JFK and my synthesis of other information developed since that experience.
I believe the following living individuals have intimate operational knowledge of the circumstances surrounding the assassination and the possible role of the persons and/or operations listed in the paragraph which follows:
Theodore Shackley - Chief of Station, JMWAVE Robert Wall - Deputy Chief of Operations, JMWAVE
Grayson Lynch - Contract paramilitary trainer/agent, JMWAVE
Felix Rodriguez - Contract paramilitary agent (Cuban born), JMWAVE
Thomas Clines - CIA paramilitary case officer, JMWAVE
Above named persons with reference to:
Gordon Campbell (current status unknown) - Deputy Chief of Station, JMWAVE
David Morales (deceased) - Chief of Operations, JMWAVE
"Rip" Robertson (deceased) - Contract paramilitary agent JMWAVE
Edward Roderick (current status unknown) - U. S. Army Major, explosives expert/Corp of Engineers, attached to JMWAVE and later CIA employee upon retirement from Army
Tony Sforza (deceased) - Contract paramilitary agent, JMWAVE
Operation (code name) "Red Cross" - JMWAVE, Fall 1963
Further, I invite your attention to the forthcoming issue of Vanity Fair Magazine (October issue) which I am advised will contain an article by Tony Summers, a highly credible journalist/author (CONSPIRACY) that will offer certain revelations complimenting the recommendations made in this communication.
I know for a fact that Summers has been diligently pursuing lines of inquiry that may be relevant to the work of the Board and may be useful in unscrambling and evaluating the JFK related documents produced by the CIA and other government agencies.
I hope the information I've provided is helpful to the Board and I remain prepared to testify under oath to any aspect of my activities should that be desired.
The purpose of this memo is to give you background on who Brad Ayers is and the story he tells. His story is accepted to differing degrees, depending on who one talks to, but the basics of his story check out, according to our research.
Ayers was an infantry officer in the U.S. Army during the early 1960's, specializing in paramilitary training. In early 1963, (records checks indicate it was in early April) Ayers was "loaned" by the Army to the CIA, which assigned him to the JMWAVE station. Ayers' job was to train Cuban exiles and prepare them for an invasion of Cuba. This much of his story is borne out by checks of his military and CIA files.
From here, the veracity of Ayers' claims are less easy to discern. He claims to have seen many figures at JMWAVE who were not there, according to the official record; these include Johnny Roselli and William Harvey (former Task Force W /SAS chief for CIA, who was removed from that position by Kennedy after Harvey overstepped his authority after the Missile Crisis). Ayers also claims to have gone on several raiding missions with his proteges, and to have come under fire from Castro's forces in the summer of 1963. This is significant because according to the official record, all government sanctioned action against Castro had ceased by that point.
Ayers says that many of his colleagues at the JMWAVE station built up a strong resentment of President Kennedy, and says that he believes several of them to have played roles in the assassination. Foremost among these, he says, was David Morales, the operations officer for CIA in Miami.
The HSCA interviewed Ayers, and performed searches for his records. In doing so, they discovered five sealed envelopes in his file, which HSCA staff was not allowed access to. The envelopes have ben the source of some speculation among those in the research community who believe Ayers' story.
On May 12, I interviewed Ayers at his home outside of St. Paul, Minnesota. At that point, the questions were based on information obtained from open sources only, as few of the staff had their clearances yet.
Ayers claims to have found in the course of his private investigative work, a credible witness who can put David Morales inside the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles on the night of June 5, 1968 (RFK’s assassination). Ayers offered to put me (and the Board) in touch with this unnamed person, who he feels would be willing to work with the Board.
I interviewed former US Army captain and CIA employee Bradley Ayers on May 12, 1995, at Ayers' home in Woodbury, Minnesota. The interview lasted from 10.00 a.m. to 3.00 p.m. The following is a summary and report of the interview...
Q. Did Morales ever try and pass himself off as Cuban?
A. Not to Ayers' knowledge, but "he could easily pass for Cuban." Morales was allegedly a very good actor, and "could pull off lots of roles." Here the conversation drifted into a discussion of David Morales and his emotional makeup. Ayers charged that Morales was a "mean" man who "paraded around the station like a tyrant." Everyone was apparently afraid of him. Morales hung with what Ayers called the "circle" - Morales, Roselli, Tony Sforza, Manuel Artime and Rip Robertson. The four were drinking buddies and of like mind on politics. Ayers said they were vicious, too. "If anyone put together a sniper team to hit the President, Morales, Rip, Rosselli and Sforza would have done it." Ayers noted that Artime, Robertson, Rosselli and Sforza all died just as the HSCA began investigating. He suggests checking for Morales' whereabouts during the late seventies, especially on the times these men were killed.
At first, it seems an open-and-shut case. On June 5 1968, Robert Kennedy wins the California Democratic primary and is set to challenge Richard Nixon for the White House. After midnight, he finishes his victory speech at the Ambassador hotel in Los Angeles and is shaking hands with kitchen staff in a crowded pantry when 24-year-old Palestinian Sirhan Sirhan steps down from a tray-stacker with a "sick, villainous smile" on his face and starts firing at Kennedy with an eight-shot revolver.
As Kennedy lies dying on the pantry floor, Sirhan is arrested as the lone assassin. He carries the motive in his shirt-pocket (a clipping about Kennedy's plans to sell bombers to Israel) and notebooks at his house seem to incriminate him. But the autopsy report suggests Sirhan could not have fired the shots that killed Kennedy. Witnesses place Sirhan's gun several feet in front of Kennedy, but the fatal bullet is fired from one inch behind. And more bullet-holes are found in the pantry than Sirhan's gun can hold, suggesting a second gunman is involved. Sirhan's notebooks show a bizarre series of "automatic writing" - "RFK must die RFK must be killed - Robert F Kennedy must be assassinated before 5 June 68" - and even under hypnosis, he has never been able to remember shooting Kennedy. He recalls "being led into a dark place by a girl who wanted coffee", then being choked by an angry mob. Defence psychiatrists conclude he was in a trance at the time of the shooting and leading psychiatrists suggest he may have be a hypnotically programmed assassin.
Three years ago, I started writing a screenplay about the assassination of Robert Kennedy, caught up in a strange tale of second guns and "Manchurian candidates" (as the movie termed brainwashed assassins). As I researched the case, I uncovered new video and photographic evidence suggesting that three senior CIA operatives were behind the killing. I did not buy the official ending that Sirhan acted alone, and started dipping into the nether-world of "assassination research", crossing paths with David Sanchez Morales, a fearsome Yaqui Indian.
Morales was a legendary figure in CIA covert operations. According to close associate Tom Clines, if you saw Morales walking down the street in a Latin American capital, you knew a coup was about to happen. When the subject of the Kennedys came up in a late-night session with friends in 1973, Morales launched into a tirade that finished: "I was in Dallas when we got the son of a bitch and I was in Los Angeles when we got the little bastard." From this line grew my odyssey into the spook world of the 60s and the secrets behind the death of Bobby Kennedy.
Working from a Cuban photograph of Morales from 1959, I viewed news coverage of the assassination to see if I could spot the man the Cubans called El Gordo - The Fat One. Fifteen minutes in, there he was, standing at the back of the ballroom, in the moments between the end of Kennedy's speech and the shooting. Thirty minutes later, there he was again, casually floating around the darkened ballroom while an associate with a pencil moustache took notes.
The source of early research on Morales was Bradley Ayers, a retired US army captain who had been seconded to JM-Wave, the CIA's Miami base in 1963, to work closely with chief of operations Morales on training Cuban exiles to run sabotage raids on Castro. I tracked Ayers down to a small town in Wisconsin and emailed him stills of Morales and another guy I found suspicious - a man who is pictured entering the ballroom from the direction of the pantry moments after the shooting, clutching a small container to his body, and being waved towards an exit by a Latin associate.
Ayers' response was instant. He was 95% sure that the first figure was Morales and equally sure that the other man was Gordon Campbell, who worked alongside Morales at JM-Wave in 1963 and was Ayers' case officer shortly before the JFK assassination.
I put my script aside and flew to the US to interview key witnesses for a documentary on the unfolding story. In person, Ayers positively identified Morales and Campbell and introduced me to David Rabern, a freelance operative who was part of the Bay of Pigs invasion force in 1961 and was at the Ambassador hotel that night. He did not know Morales and Campbell by name but saw them talking to each other out in the lobby before the shooting and assumed they were Kennedy's security people. He also saw Campbell around police stations three or four times in the year before Robert Kennedy was shot.
This was odd. The CIA had no domestic jurisdiction and Morales was stationed in Laos in 1968. With no secret service protection for presidential candidates in those days, Kennedy was guarded by unarmed Olympic decathlete champion Rafer Johnson and football tackler Rosey Grier - no match for an expert assassination team.
Trawling through microfilm of the police investigation, I found further photographs of Campbell with a third figure, standing centre-stage in the Ambassador hotel hours before the shooting. He looked Greek, and I suspected he might be George Joannides, chief of psychological warfare operations at JM-Wave. Joannides was called out of retirement in 1978 to act as the CIA liaison to the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) investigating the death of John F Kennedy.
Ed Lopez, now a respected lawyer at Cornell University, came into close contact with Joannides when he was a young law student working for the committee. We visit him and show him the photograph and he is 99% sure it is Joannides. When I tell him where it was taken, he is not surprised: "If these guys decided you were bad, they acted on it.
We move to Washington to meet Wayne Smith, a state department official for 25 years who knew Morales well at the US embassy in Havana in 1959-60. When we show him the video in the ballroom, his response is instant: "That's him, that's Morales." He remembers Morales at a cocktail party in Buenos Aires in 1975, saying Kennedy got what was coming to him. Is there a benign explanation for his presence? For Kennedy's security, maybe? Smith laughs. Morales is the last person you would want to protect Bobby Kennedy, he says. He hated the Kennedys, blaming their lack of air support for the failed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961.
We meet Clines in a hotel room near CIA headquarters. He does not want to go on camera and brings a friend, which is a little unnerving. Clines remembers "Dave" fondly. The guy in the video looks like Morales but it is not him, he says: "This guy is fatter and Morales walked with more of a slouch and his tie down." To me, the guy in the video does walk with a slouch and his tie is down.
Clines says he knew Joannides and Campbell and it is not them either, but he fondly remembers Ayers bringing snakes into JM-Wave to scare the secretaries and seems disturbed at Smith's identification of Morales. He does not discourage our investigation and suggests others who might be able to help. A seasoned journalist cautions that he would expect Clines "to blow smoke", and yet it seems his honest opinion.
As we leave Los Angeles, I tell the immigration officer that I am doing a story on Bobby Kennedy. She has seen the advertisements for the new Emilio Estevez movie about the assassination, Bobby. "Who do you think did it? I think it was the Mob," she says before I can answer.
"I definitely think it was more than one man," I say, discreetly.
Morales died of a heart attack in 1978, weeks before he was to be called before the HSCA. Joannides died in 1990. Campbell may still be out there somewhere, in his early 80s. Given the positive identifications we have gathered on these three, the CIA and the Los Angeles Police Department need to explain what they were doing there. Lopez believes the CIA should call in and interview everybody who knew them, disclose whether they were on a CIA operation and, if not, why they were there that night.
Today would have been Robert Kennedy's 81st birthday. The world is crying out for a compassionate leader like him. If dark forces were behind his elimination, it needs to be investigated.
On November 20, 2006 - the day that would have been Robert Kennedy's eighty-first birthday -- the BBC program Newsnight aired a startling report alleging that three CIA operatives were caught on camera at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles on the night of Kennedy's assassination. The story suggested that they were involved in his killing. The BBC broadcast, produced by filmmaker Shane O'Sullivan, identified the three CIA operatives as George Joannides, David Morales and Gordon Campbell. All three were known to have worked for the Agency in Miami in the early 1960s when the White House ordered up a massive, not-so-secret effort to overthrow Fidel Castro's communist government in Cuba...
The BBC report also was apparently wrong about David Morales, a swaggering paramilitary expert known for his counterintelligence network in Cuban Miami and for his hatred of both John and Bobby Kennedy. Family members insisted that the man caught on TV news cameras at the Ambassador was not Morales, pointing out that the man in the news footage looked more like a light-skinned African-American than a Mexican-American. The man said to be Morales appears only in the background of video footage from a TV camera on the other side of the hotel ballroom. The image is both small and blurred making reproduction, comparison and indentification difficult. New photos of Morales, taken in the late 1960s and early 1970s, shows a distinctly different-looking man than the one in the Ambassador footage, with grayer hair and the strong Indian features that gave Morales his nickname, "El Indio."
Morales, who died in 1978, is a legitimate figure of interest in the Kennedy assassination story. Morales' former lawyer, Robert Walton, has said in unpaid interviews that his client boasted of involvement in the assassinations of both Kennedys. Even admiring former CIA colleagues and friends acknowledge Morales was involved in the roughest of assignments, such as the notorious Operation Phoenix program in South Vietnam which targeted suspected communists for capture, torture and execution. In his recently published posthumous memoir, American Spy, legendary CIA operative Howard Hunt called Morales a "cold-blooded killer" who was "possibly completely amoral." The CIA declined to provide Morales' travel records for June 1968, but there is no evidence he was at the Ambassador Hotel.
Morales and Jenkins had been the first of the JM/WAVE alumni to move to the Latin American fight against Communist expansion. By the early 1970's the list would include Tom Clines at the Chile desk in CIA HQ, while David Phillips had moved to Washington to become Chief of the Cuban Operations Group Western Hemisphere covering all of Latin and South America. He would remain in this position during the CIA's effort to remove Chilean President Allende, eventually being named by the Church Committee as the CIA officer in charge of Track 2 of the Allende project-the track involving CIA efforts to produce a military coup.
Henry Hecksher became Chief of Station in Chile during the CIA's massive effort against the Allende government. He retained his outspoken manner, taking exception to the lack of resources being allocated to the project against Allende and calling for sterner measures. One of his particular targets was a supporter of Allende within the Chilean armed forces, a General Schneider. He also worked separately with the DIA on coup plots against Allende. Reuben Carbajal relates that his friend Dave Morales spoke of having arrived in Chile just in time to support the CIA move against Allende; Morales also spoke of personally killing a Chilean General. Although it may be sheer coincidence, General Schneider was mysteriously killed in the midst of Hecksher's crusade against him.
Following his return from SE Asia, Morales was assigned to Latin America and served as a counterinsurgency advisor to the ultra rightwing military establishments in Argentina, Panama, Paraguay and Uruguay in the period 1971 to 1975. It was during this period that the infamous Condor alliance of right wing governments emerged -involving Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina, Brazil-and eventually Chile.
Henry Hecksher retired in 1971 after his Chilean service. David Phillips was promoted to Chief of Western Hemisphere (replacing Ted Shackley) but took early retirement in 1975, at the peak of his career.
David Morales also retired in 1975 and died in 1978, shortly before Tony Sforza. Sforza is known to have operated within Cuba and to have conducted JM/WAVE exfiltration missions for Morales. His contact for one such mission involved passing information to David Phillips in Mexico City. Sforza (cryptonym SLOMAN) had been a major CIA covert operative inside Cuba and there is reason to speculate that he used the alias Frank Stevens, known as Enrique inside Cuba, where he operated under the cover of being a professional gambler. If so, he is associated with at least one major CIA Castro assassination attempt and at one point he served as case officer for Morales' AMOT group an attempt verified in a newly located document and one which was apparently withheld from the Church Committee.
I heard from Frank that LBJ had designated Cord Meyer, Jr. to undertake a larger organization while keeping it totally secret. Cord Meyer himself was a rather favorite member of the Eastern aristocracy. He was a graduate of Yale University and had joined the Marine Corps during the war and lost an eye in the Pacific fighting.
I think that LBJ settled on Meyer as an opportunist... and a man who had very little left to him in life ever since JFK had taken Cord's wife as one of his mistresses. I would suggest that Cord Meyer welcomed the approach from LBJ, who was after all only the Vice President at that time and of course could not number Cord Meyer among JFK's admirers - quite the contrary.
As for Dave Phillips, I knew him pretty well at one time. He worked for me during the Guatemala project. He had made himself useful to the agency in Santiago, Chile where he was an American businessman. In any case, his actions, whatever they were, came to the attention of the Santiago station chief and when his resume became known to people in the Western hemisphere division he was brought in to work on Guatemalan operations.
Sturgis and Morales and people of that ilk stayed in apartment houses during preparations for the big event. Their addresses were very subject to change, so that where a fellow like Morales had been one day, you'd not necessarily associated with that address - the following day. In short, it was a very mobile experience.
Let me point out at this point, that if I had wanted to fictionalize what went on in Miami and elsewhere during the run up for the big event, I would have done so. But I don't want any unreality to tinge this particular story, or the information, I should say. I was a benchwarmer on it and I had a reputation for honesty.
I think it's essential to refocus on what this information that I've been providing you - and you alone, by the way - consists of. What is important in the story is that we've backtracked the chain of command up through Cord Meyer and laying the doings at the doorstep of LBJ. He, in my opinion, had an almost maniacal urge to become President. He regarded JFK, as he was in fact, an obstacle to achieving that. He could have waited for JFK to finish out his term and then undoubtedly a second term. So that would have put LBJ at the head of a long list of people who were waiting for some change in the executive branch.