John Simkin was born on 25th June, 1945. He worked in a factory and ran a small business before studying for his first degree at the Open University (1971-1976). He also completed a Master of Philosophy degree at the University of Sussex (1977-82).
Simkin began teaching history in 1978. The following year he became a founder member of the Tressell Publishing cooperative and was involved in designing some of the first computer programs for use in the history classroom. This included Attack on the Somme, Wagons West, Wall Street and the Russian Revolution.
In 1987 Simkin established Spartacus Educational. He is the author of several books including Ghandi (1987), The Vietnam War (1988), Race Relations in the United States (1988), Slavery: An Illustrated History of Black Resistance (1988), Hitler (1988), Stalin (1987), The Roman Empire (1991), Making of the United Kingdom (1992), Expansion, Trade and Industry (1992), The Medieval Village (1996) and The Norman Invasion (1996).
In September, 1997 he established the Spartacus Educational website. After leaving the classroom he has produced online materials for the Electronic Telegraph, the European Virtual School, the Historical Association and the Guardian's educational website, Learn.
Simkin has been interested in the assassination of John F. Kennedy for over 25 years. In 2004 he created the Assassination of JFK website. This is an attempt to provide materials for students to carry out a detailed investigation into the killing.
One thing that has always puzzled me is the behaviour of Robert Kennedy after the assassination. It must have been clear within hours of it happening that his brother had been killed by the Mafia with the support of rogue elements in the CIA and FBI. Yet, rather than calling for a full investigation into this possibility, he even took measures that attempted to cover up the conspiracy (taking control of the brain and autopsy X-rays that showed he had been hit in the front as in the back).
Robert and John Kennedy had both upset the Mafia with its policy towards organized crime in the United States. Therefore some historians have speculated that Robert knew the assassination had been carried out by the Mafia and was taking action to prevent himself being assassinated. However, I was not convinced by this portrayal of Robert Kennedy as a coward.
I came across some information yesterday that I think explains Robert Kennedy’s action after his brothers assassination. It concerns Kennedy’s attitude towards the CIA Executive Action programme.
Executive Action was run by Richard Bissell and Richard Helms of the Directorate for Plans (a CIA organization instructed to conduct covert anti-Communist operations around the world). Executive Action was 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. Other political leaders deposed by Executive Action include Patrice Lumumba of the Congo, the Dominican Republic dictator Rafael Trujillo, General Abd al-Karim Kassem of Iraq and Ngo Dinh Diem, the leader of South Vietnam. However, in the early 1960s the main target was Fidel Castro who had established a socialist government in Cuba.
In March I960, President Dwight Eisenhower of the United States approved a CIA plan to overthrow Castro. The plan involved a budget of $13 million to train "a paramilitary force outside Cuba for guerrilla action." The strategy was organised by Bissell and Helms. This eventually led to the Bay of Pigs disaster. Afterwards, Bissell, the head of Executive Action campaign, was forced to resign by Kennedy. It has been thought that was Kennedy’s way of showing he disapproved of the policy of Executive Action. However, there has always been doubts about this because Helms took over control of the Directorate for Plans. He continued to run the organization and was responsible for the killing of the democratically elected Marxist leader, Salvador Allende in Chile in September 1973.
Recently I discovered that John F. Kennedy did not in fact order an end to Executive Action. What he tried to do was to bring it under his own control. The plan to assassinate Fidel Castro now became known as Operation Freedom and was to be run by his brother Robert Kennedy. Of course he had to rely on people like Richard Helms to organize the killing of Castro but he insisted on being kept fully informed about what was taking place. I suspect that either John Kennedy, Richard Helms or J. Edgar Hoover (who was heavily involved with Execution Action) also told Lyndon Johnson about Operation Freedom.
This is what I think happened. Senior members of the Mafia and CIA involved in Operation Freedom decided to change their target from Fidel Castro to John Kennedy. By 1963 the Mafia had decided that you would not overthrow the socialist government of Cuba by assassinating Castro. The best way forward was by having a president who was willing to launch an invasion of Cuba. Kennedy would not do that (in fact he was at that time involved in negotiating a peace deal with Castro).
This is where the clever bit comes in. Helms tells Kennedy and Johnson that they have selected an agent to kill Castro. His name is Lee Harvey Oswald. They are told that efforts were being made to get Oswald into Cuba to carry out the killing. This is true although there is evidence that this was a man posing as Oswald. John Kennedy is then assassinated. Lee Harvey Oswald is quickly announced as being the killer (the original plan was for J. D. Tippit to kill Oswald but this fails and Jack Ruby is brought in to do the job).
Now consider the reaction of Robert Kennedy to the news that the man he had arranged to kill Castro had killed his brother. Any full investigation of Oswald and the Kennedy assassination would reveal details of Operation Freedom. What the CIA had cleverly done was to implicate Robert Kennedy into the killing of his brother. He could now be guaranteed to join in the cover-up.
Lyndon Johnson could also be relied on to cover up the conspiracy. Hoover had full control over Johnson as a result of what he knew about his political career in Texas (Johnson was one of the most corrupt politicians in American history).
Under the Freedom of Information Act some of the transcripts of the telephone calls between Johnson and Hoover following the assassination have recently been published. These are fascinating to read as they show the political strategy being adopted by Johnson. He is willing to go along with the cover up but rejects the idea of Oswald being exposed as a Soviet agent.
As Johnson points out, if this became public knowledge, he would be under considerable pressure from the American people to go to war with the Soviet Union. This would, according to Johnson, “chuck us into a war that can kill 40 million Americans in an hour”. In order that the world was not destroyed in a nuclear war, Johnson agrees with Hoover that it is important to establish that Kennedy had been the victim of a lone gunman and not part of a conspiracy. Johnson also refuses to invade Cuba as it would also probably lead to a nuclear war.
Over the last couple of months I have been investigating the possible role that Lyndon Johnson played in the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Several writers have pointed out that LBJ was the main beneficiary of Kennedy’s death. He was also involved in persuading Kennedy to visit Texas. At the time there was a bitter dispute going on in the Democratic Party in Texas. Johnson and John Connally were seen as the leaders of the right-wing faction, whereas Ralph Yarborough led the liberal wing committed to civil rights (so much so that Connally and Johnson accused him of being a communist). Conservatives were also concerned that Yarborough was having a growing influence on Kennedy’s views on civil rights. (Yarborough was the only member of the Senate representing a former Confederate state to vote for every significant piece of civil rights legislation during the 1950s and 1960s).
Johnson and Connally went back a long way. Connally had ran all of Johnson’s election campaigns. In 1948 Connally was accused of fraud when he discovered at the last moment the existence of 200 votes for Johnson from Jim Wells County. It was these votes that gave Johnson an eighty-seven-vote victory.
On the morning of the assassination Johnson attempted to get the seating arrangements changed. For some strange reason he wanted Connally to be in his car and for Yarborough to go with Kennedy. This was a surprising idea as this would have given extra status to his political opponent. Connally clearly was not part of the conspiracy as he insisted in going in Kennedy’s car.
The first person to accuse Johnson of being involved in the conspiracy was a historian and failed politician called James Evetts Haley. His book ‘A Texan Looks at Lyndon’ was a best seller and it is claimed that in Texas only the Bible outsold Haley's book in 1964. In the book Haley attempted to expose Johnson's corrupt political activities. This included a detailed look at the relationship between Johnson and Billie Sol Estes. Haley pointed out that three men who could have provided evidence in court against the corrupt activities of Estes, George Krutilek, Harold Orr and Howard Pratt, all died of carbon monoxide poisoning from car engines.
Haley also suggested that Johnson might have been responsible for the death of John F. Kennedy: "Johnson wanted power and with all his knowledge of political strategy and his proven control of Congress, he could see wider horizons of power as Vice-President than as Senate Majority Leader. In effect, by presiding over the Senate, he could now conceive himself as virtually filling both high and important positions - and he was not far from wrong. Finally, as Victor Lasky pointed out, Johnson had nursed a lifetime dream to be President. As Majority leader he never could have made it. But as Vice-president fate could always intervene."
The book received little publicity outside Texas (Haley had published it himself rather than use a national company). The journalist, Joachim Joesten, read the book and quoted extensively from it in his book ‘The Dark Side of Lyndon Baines Johnson’ (1968). Joesten argued that Johnson was embroiled in two major scandals in 1963 (the cases of Billie Sol Estes and Bobby Baker). Johnson was now a political liability and was seriously considering replacing him as his running mate in 1964. This appeared to be the case as Robert Kennedy had already started briefing against Johnson concerning the cases of Billie Sol Estes and Bobby Baker.
Joesten also took the view that Texas oil barons led by Haroldson L. Hunt and Clint Murchison had helped to fund the assassination. In 1963 Kennedy was talking about bringing an end to the oil depletion allowance (27.5 per cent). It remained unchanged during the Johnson presidency. This resulted in a saving of over 100 million dollars to the American oil industry. Soon after Johnson left office it dropped to 15 per cent.
Joesten’s book could not find a publisher in America but it eventually found a small company in England to take a chance with the book. In America Joesten was accused of working for the KGB (Joesten had been a member of the Communist Party in Germany before leaving the country when Hitler gained power). It was claimed by the extreme-right that Joesten’s book was an attempt to cover-up KGB’s role in the assassination.
Although James Evetts Haley and Joachim Joesten are able to explain why Johnson and his backers wanted Kennedy dead, they were unable to provide any actual evidence that he was involved in the assassination.
The campaign against Johnson as the man behind the assassination of Kennedy appeared to come to an end by the end of the 1960s. However, there was one man who was still working on the case. His name was Clint Peoples. As a Texas Ranger he was involved in the original investigation of Billy Sol Estes. He retired from the force in March, 1974 but continued to work on the case. He was especially interested in the death of a Department of Agriculture official called Henry Marshall. He was the official who originally approved Billie Sol Estes' cotton allotments. Officially he had committed suicide but rumours began to circulate that Marshall had been killed because he had become aware of Estes' scam. Officially he had committed suicide but Peoples suspected he had been murdered.
In 1984 Peoples convinced Estes to give evidence before the Robertson County Grand Jury. Estes testified that Lyndon B. Johnson, Mac Wallace, Cliff Carter and himself met several time to discuss the investigation being carried out by Henry Marshall. According to Estes, Johnson eventually said: "Get rid of him," and Wallace was given the assignment. In 1984 the Grand Jury changed the verdict on the death of Henry Marshall from suicide to death by gunshot.
On 9th August, 1984, Estes' lawyer, Douglas Caddy, wrote to Stephen S. Trott at the US Department of Justice. In the letter Caddy claimed that Billie Sol Estes, Lyndon B. Johnson, Mac Wallace and Cliff Carter had been involved in the murders of Henry Marshall, George Krutilek, Harold Orr, Ike Rogers, Coleman Wade, Josefa Johnson, John Kinser and John F. Kennedy. Caddy added: "Mr. Estes is willing to testify that LBJ ordered these killings, and that he transmitted his orders through Cliff Carter to Mac Wallace, who executed the murders."
The problem with this evidence is that Billie Sol Estes is a convicted conman and very few people took his claims seriously. Once again the attempts to link Johnson to the assassination appeared to have come to a halt. Although the publication of the transcripts of Johnson’s telephone conversations revealed that he was heavily involved in the cover-up. The conversations between Johnson and Hoover are particularly illuminating. (For more details see Michael R. Beschloss’s book, Taking Charge: The Johnson White House Tapes: 1963-64, Simon & Schuster, 1997). An interesting aside, the Johnson and Hoover friendship dated back to the FBI investigation of the 1948 ballot-rigging case.
On 24th February, 1992, Madeleine Brown gave an interview on the television show, A Current Affair. Brown claimed that on the 21st November, 1963, she was at the home of Clint Murchison. Others at the meeting included J. Edgar Hoover, Clyde Tolson, John J. McCloy, Richard Nixon and Haroldson L. Hunt. At the end of the evening Lyndon B. Johnson arrived: "Tension filled the room upon his arrival. The group immediately went behind closed doors. A short time later Lyndon, anxious and red-faced, re-appeared. I knew how secretly Lyndon operated. Therefore I said nothing... not even that I was happy to see him. Squeezing my hand so hard, it felt crushed from the pressure, he spoke with a grating whisper, a quiet growl, into my ear, not a love message, but one I'll always remember: "After tomorrow those goddamn Kennedys will never embarrass me again - that's no threat - that's a promise."
Brown’s story was investigated and Gary Mack’s research was particularly damaging: "Could LBJ have been at a Murchison party? No. LBJ was seen and photographed in the Houston Coliseum with JFK at a dinner and speech. They flew out around 10pm and arrived at Carswell (Air Force Base in northwest Fort Worth) at 11:07 Thursday night. Their motorcade to the Hotel Texas arrived about 11:50 and LBJ was again photographed. He stayed in the Will Rogers suite on the 13th floor and Manchester (William Manchester - author of The Death of a President) says he was up late. Could Nixon have been at Murchison’s party? No. Tony Zoppi (Entertainment Editor of The Dallas Morning News) and Don Safran (Entertainment Editor of the Dallas Times Herald) saw Nixon at the Empire Room at the Statler-Hilton. He walked in with Joan Crawford (Movie actress). Robert Clary (of Hogan’s Heroes fame) stopped his show to point them out, saying “. . . either you like him or you don’t.” Zoppi thought that was in poor taste, but Safran said Nixon laughed. Zoppi’s deadline was 11pm, so he stayed until 10:30 or 10:45 and Nixon was still there."
The next breakthrough in the case came when Mark Collum met a Native American named Loy Factor. At the time Factor was serving a 44 year sentence for murder. Foy confessed to Collum that he had been involved in the assassination of Kennedy. He claimed that he carried out the killing with Mac Wallace. Mark Collum and the writer Glen Sample in the self-published book, The Men on the Sixth Floor (1995).
Once again Mac Wallace had been named as one of the gunmen who killed Kennedy. Wallace had been left-wing student activist in Texas during the 1940s. This changed after he met Lyndon B. Johnson and in October, 1950, he found him a job working with the United States Department of Agriculture in Texas.
On 22nd October, 1951, Wallace murdered John Kinser. It is believed that Kinser had been killed to stop him talking about a scandal that involved Lyndon Johnson's sister, Josefa. At his trial in February, 1952, Wallace was found guilty of murder. Eleven of the jurors were for the death penalty. The twelfth argued for life imprisonment. The judge overruled the jury and announced a sentence of five years imprisonment. He suspended the sentence and Wallace was freed.
Wallace was defended by a man called John Cofer. This is the same man who represented Lyndon B. Johnson when he was accused of ballot-rigging when elected to the Senate in 1948. He also represented Billie Sol Estes when he was charged with fraud. According to a member of Cofer’s legal firm:
“Estes tried to get rid of Cofer as his attorney. Cofer refused to be fired, saying he had already been paid. The next unpublicized issue between lawyer and client was whether Estes should testify or not. Estes was ready to talk, believing he could still charm anyone. Cofer was just as determined to keep Estes quiet, for the sole purpose of protecting Johnson. Estes might say too much and make things worse. On the other hand, Estes might convince the jury and get off. Like it was with Wallace in the Kinser case, there was no alternative, Estes had to be found guilty. Then anything he said later could be discredited. Estes grudgingly agreed. Cofer stayed with Estes.”
On 7th January, 1971, Malcolm Wallace was killed while driving into Pittsburg, Texas. He appeared to have fallen asleep and after leaving the road crashed his car. Wallace, like so many people involved in this case, died while in a car. (This includes Clint Peoples who was killed in a car accident in Texas in 1992.)
In May 1998 Walt Brown called a press conference in Dallas to discuss a previously unidentified fingerprint at the "sniper's nest" in the Texas Book Depository. According to Brown this fingerprint had now been identified as belonging to Mac Wallace.
Billie Sol Estes is still claiming he is the one who really knows who killed Kennedy. Last year he published in France his book, JFK, the Last Standing Man. In an interview with Pete Kendall, Estes said: “He (Johnson) told me if I wouldn’t talk, I would not go to jail.” Estes has had no contact with LBJ’s other long-ago associates, he said, since the book’s publication. “About all of them are dead, really. I think I’m about the last one standing.” That’s partly why, he said, he wasn’t interested in doing a book sooner. “I’ve been accused of being dumb,” he said, “but I’m not stupid.”
Last year saw the publication of Barr McClellan’s book Blood, Money & Power: How LBJ Killed JFK. I have only just hold of a copy (it is currently not available in England). McClellan has an interesting story to tell.
As a student McClellan was a strong supporter of John F. Kennedy. After qualifying as a lawyer he went to work for the administration of President Lyndon B. Johnson. Initially he worked for the National Labor Relations Board but in 1964 he became an attorney for the Federal Power Commission.
It was while working for Johnson that he met Edward A. Clark. In 1966 McClellan joined the legal firm of Clark, Thomas and Winters, based in Austin, Texas. At that time the firm was run by the partners Edward Clark, Sam Winters, Don Thomas and Frank Denius. Clark had been working with Lyndon Johnson since the 1930s. Clark also represented prominent figures in the Texas oil industry. Soon after joining the company McClellan was told by colleagues that it was believed that Clark had organized the assassination of Kennedy.
In 1972 McClellan became a full partner in the legal firm. It was only at this stage that he was told about the illegal activities of the firm. John Cofer (yes the same man who had defended Lyndon Johnson, Mac Wallace and Billie Sol Estes) explained how the partners dealt with criminal activity: "In short, we helped plan crimes and keep the clients out of trouble."
McClellan eventually resigned from the firm after a dispute with Edward Clark. In 1977 he established his own law firm. Over the years he clashed several times with Clark. This is partly the motivation for publishing the book. There is also another reason. He still seems fairly committed to the political idealism that had encouraged him to support JFK in 1960.
McClellan attempts to provide the evidence that Edward A. Clark planned the Kennedy assassination on behalf of Lyndon Johnson. This includes a documents section at the back of the book. However, there is nothing in these documents that really proves that Clark and Johnson were behind the assassination. What Barr McClellan and Billie Sol Estes have done is to provide a story that makes sense. This is probably the best we can hope for. I suspect that we will never find enough evidence to be certain who planned and carried out America’s first Coup d’Etat.
John Simkin: The idea that David Phillips was involved in the assassination appeared in several of the early conspiracy books. Looking at the evidence you provide (in Someone Would Have Talked) this is not surprising. However, I have always had severe doubts about this.
Phillips was a skilled operator. If he had been involved in planning this operation I am sure it would have been done in such a way that would not have raised so many doubts about Oswald acting as a lone gunman. For example, Phillips would have been aware that the Oswald impostor would have been captured on film in Mexico City. Therefore, why did they select someone who clearly did not look like Oswald. The setting up of Oswald seems a very amateur operation. Phillips might have been aware of what was going on, but I cannot believe that he played a major role in the assassination.
If Phillips had been organizing the conspiracy would he not have made sure there was no link between himself and the assassination. For example, would Phillips be the CIA’s direct contact with Antonio Veciana? (MI5 and MI6 defintely don't behave like this). Surely he would have used someone else to have met Veciana in public. Also Veciana claims that in August, 1963, he saw Bishop and Lee Harvey Oswald in Dallas. If Phillips knew that Oswald was being set-up to be blamed for the assassination of JFK he would not have got anywhere near him that summer.
Another reason why I do not believe Phillips was involved in the assassination is the interview he gave to Kevin Walsh. If he had been part of a conspiracy would he really have said: "My private opinion is that JFK was done in by a conspiracy, likely including American intelligence officers." If he had been guilty of such a crime he would have kept on denying any possibility that the CIA could have been involved in such an event.
When he died on 7th July, 1988, Phillips left behind an unpublished manuscript. The novel is about a CIA officer who lived in Mexico City. In the novel the character states: "I was one of those officers who handled Lee Harvey Oswald... We gave him the mission of killing Fidel Castro in Cuba... I don't know why he killed Kennedy. But I do know he used precisely the plan we had devised against Castro. Thus the CIA did not anticipate the president's assassination, but it was responsible for it. I share that guilt."
I suspect that this extract reveals Phillips’ true involvement in the assassination of JFK. Maybe that was the real reason Oswald was chosen as the patsy. When the CIA realised that one of their agents recruited to kill Castro had killed (or been made to look like he had killed) JFK, they had no option but to try and cover up the crime. The same goes for Robert Kennedy, who was likely to have been told as part of Operation Freedom, that Oswald was the agent being trained to kill Castro.
Larry Hancock: John, I certainly do not see Phillips as either the organizer of the Dallas conspiracy nor as the prime mover in building any sort of a frame of Lee Oswald. My current belief is that Phillips was very likely manipulating Lee Oswald in a relatively minor role in a new CIA propaganda project targeting the FPCC outside the United States, specifically in Mexico. As to the mechanics of that and whether it involved Oswald himself, an impersonator or perhaps even both are beyond me.... several different scenario's are possible. I think it's pretty safe to say that whatever the plan was it was built on the "performance" and image that Oswald had built in NO only a short while before and which had been well documented by Phillips covert "media network'. There is also some reason to think that this game involved CI/SIG assets in MC and at HQ which were independent of the other MC office staff. Whatever it was though became hugely dangerous for Phillips and the CIA as a whole after Nov. 22.
At a minimum, Phillips - as others in the CIA and FBI and individuals in New Orleans - knew there was a lot more to Oswald than the official Lone Nut story. It's also pretty clear that Phillips jumped on the "lets tie Oswald to Castro" bandwagon with the whole Alvarado incident (which Phillips undoubtedly knew to be bogus) and had the nerve to cover up his games in MC (his letter to the FBI stating that as of February 64 the CIA had full photo files on every American entering the Cuban embassy in Sept and Oct of 63 is raw hubris, almost daring them to ask for the photos of Oswald going in and out). The fact that such photos were never provided certainly does raise the issue of an imposter or of an Oswald associate/handler.
Whether or not Phillips had shared information on Oswald in advance with Morales, whether or not he had signed up for some propoganda/media role in promoting Castro as a conspiracy sponsor is an open question. Remember, his speciality was propaganda/media control/counter intel not black ops or tactical matters, he had no military experience at all. I think it's safe to say that Phillips knew all along that the WC story was bogus, at a minimum he knew there had been a conspiracy and that his final words point in the right direction.
Beyond that it's also important to remember that much of his work - such as with Veciana - was on his own initiative. He was not Veciana's CIA case officer, his manipulation of Veciana and Alpha 66 and other groups he was in contact with was at on his own agenda and generally directily opposed to that of Headquarters and certainly the Administration.
I thought it might be a good idea to start a thread where we vote and speculate on who killed JFK. I will start the ball by suggesting the Military Industrial Complex. The operation was a complete success and the group achieved all its objectives. This includes the cover up that involved the implication of several groups and individuals in the plot. One reason for this was to guarantee the help of these individuals and groups in the cover up. This involved implicating LBJ, the CIA, the FBI and the Secret Service. It also involved implicating the Kennedy brothers in other terrible events. This ensured that the Kennedy family and its close associates joined in the cover up. This cover up included both the Warren Commission and the House Select Committee of Assassinations (this involved a change in tactics with the finger now being pointed at the Mafia).
It also included a far more sinister cover up that will have long term implications for the history of the world. I believe that the CIA and FBI were involved in destroying a large number of documents relating to the assassination in November and December, 1963. These were replaced with false documents that have yet to be released. These documents will only become available when all those who are referred to are dead. These documents, because of the fact they have been held back, will be believed to be genuine. They will do two things: (1) They will show that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone gunman. (2) They will link the Kennedy brothers with a series of crimes and wrongdoings, including the murder of Marilyn Monroe. Others smeared will be those associated with what the Military Industrial Complex would refer to as dangerous radicals (Martin Luther King, etc.)
I believe that the people behind the assassination were representatives of what Eisenhower called the Military Industrial Complex. The main objective was to ensure the continuance of the Cold War. To achieve this they had the convince the American public that they faced a real communist threat. The presence of a revolutionary communist government on its doorstep (Cuba) was permanent evidence of this. So also was the presence of WMD in the Soviet Union and China. As in Iraq, we now know the CIA and MI5 exaggerated this threat.
Therefore we have to identify the representatives of the Military Industrial Complex in the government. Their main man was John McCone, Director of the CIA. That is not to say that the assassination of JFK was a CIA operation (although it did use a CIA agent, David Morales, to organize the assassination).
McCone is a classical case of a representative of the Military Industrial Complex. The owner of a small engineering company before the war, between 1942-45 his new company, California Shipbuilding, made $44 million in profits from an investment of $100,000.
After the war McCone was brought into the government and served as Deputy to the Secretary of Defense (1948) and Under Secretary of the Air Force (1950-1951). What did he know about these matters? Only that it was in the best interests of MIC to spend increasing amounts of money on the arms trade. McCone was an ardent Cold War warrior and in 1956 attacked the suggestion made by Adlai Stevenson that there should be a nuclear test ban. McCone accused American scientists of being "taken in" by Soviet propaganda and of attempting to "create fear in the minds of the uninformed that radioactive fallout from H-bomb tests endangers life." Read that quote again if you did not get it the first time. Now that is what I call disinformation.
In 1958 Eisenhower appointed McCone as Chairman of the Atomic Energy commission. After the Bay of Pigs disaster, President John F. Kennedy sacked Allen W. Dulles as Director of the CIA. Under pressure from right-wingers in the intelligence community, Kennedy appointed McCone as the new director.
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 believe one or two of these survived. They, like me, took out an insurance policy. They recorded what they knew about the case and placed the information with lawyers, solicitors, etc. These documents, tapes, etc. were only to be released in event of their dying in suspicious circumstances. These people have become untouchable. They are the only ones who will ever be able to provide any hard evidence of this conspiracy. Even if they do talk, they will only have evidence of a small part of the plot. No one will have information that implicates anyone higher than Morales. The conspiracy was a complete success. Or can we fight back?
Finally, in this regard, I must comment on the book's treatment of JFK and Mary Meyer. I was quite surprised that, as with Sheridan, Talbot swallowed the whole apple on this one. As I have written, (The Assassinations pgs 338-345), any serious chronicler has to be just as careful with this episode as with Judith Exner -- and to his credit, Talbot managed to avoid that disinformation filled land mine. Before criticizing him on this, and before I get smeared by people like John Simkin, I want to make a public confession. I actually believed the Meyer nonsense at one time. In fact, to my everlasting chagrin, I discussed it -- Timothy Leary and all -- at a talk I did in San Francisco about a year after Oliver Stone's JFK came out. It wasn't until I began to examine who Leary was, who his associates were, and how he fit into the whole explosion of drugs into the USA in the sixties and seventies that I began to question who he was. In light of this, I then reexamined his Mary Meyer story, and later the whole legerdemain around this fanciful tale. Thankfully, Talbot does not go into the whole overwrought "mystery" about her death and her mythologized diary. But he eagerly buys into everything else. Yet to do this, one has to believe some rather unbelievable people. And you then have to ignore their credibility problems so your more curious readers won't ask any questions. For if they do the whole edifice starts to unravel.
Foremost among this motley crew is Leary. As I was the first to note, there is a big problem with his story about Meyer coming to him in 1962 for psychedelic drugs. Namely, he didn't write about it for 21 years previous --until 1983. He wrote about 25 books in the meantime. (Sort of like going through 25 FBI, Secret Service, and DPD interviews before you suddenly recall seeing Oswald on the sixth floor.) Yet it was not until he hooked up with the likes of Gordon Liddy that he suddenly recalled, with vivid memory, supplying Mary with LSD and her mentioning of her high official friend and commenting, "They couldn't control him any more. He was changing too fast" etc. etc. etc. Another surprising source Talbot uses here is none other than CIA counter-intelligence chief James Angleton, the guy who was likely handling Oswald until 1962. Talbot actually quotes the nutty Cold Warrior, Kennedy antagonist and Warren Commission cover up artist waxing poetic about Kennedy being in love with Mary: "They were in love ... they had something very important." (p. 199) This from a man who, later on, Talbot admits loathed JFK and actually thought he was a Soviet agent.! (p. 275). A further dubious source is Jim Truitt, the former friend of Ben Bradlee who used to work for him at the Washington Post and was also friends with Angleton. Consider: Truitt had been trying to discredit President Kennedy while he was alive by saying he was previously married and had it covered up. In fact, he had pushed this fatuous story on Bradlee. And it appears that Truitt then started the whole drug angle of the story as a way of getting back at Bradlee and the Post for firing him. By 1969 he was so unstable that his wife sought a conservatorship for him and then divorced him in 1971. Truitt tried to get a job with the CIA and when he did not he moved to Mexico into a colony of former CIA agents. There he grew and smoked the mescaline-based hallucinogenic drug peyote. This was his sorry state when he first reported to the press about the "turned on" Meyer/JFK romance. He then shot himself in 1981. Here you have a guy who was a long-time Kennedy basher, became mentally unstable, was a CIA wannabe, and was planting and taking hallucinogenics with other CIA agents-- and then accuses JFK of doing the same, 14 years after the fact. Some witness, huh? I don't even want to mention the last major source Talbot uses to complete this rickety shack. I have a hard time even typing his name. But I have to. Its sleazy biographer David Heymann. Heymann wrote one of the very worst books ever published on Bobby Kennedy, and has made a lucrative career out of trashing the Kennedy family. For me, Heymann is either a notch above or below the likes of Kitty Kelley. But when you're that low, who's measuring?
There is someone else who is relentlessly pushing the Meyer-as-mysterious-death story. Jon Simkin runs a web site with a JFK forum on it. It is hard to figure out his basic ideas about President Kennedy's assassination. But if you look at some of his longer and more esoteric posts, they seem to suggest some vast, polyglot Grand Conspiracy. He calls it the Suite 8F Group -- which resembles the Texas based "Committee" from Farewell America. And when he discusses it, he actually uses the Torbitt Document as a reference. In a long post he made on 1/28/05 (4:51 PM) he offers an interpretation of Operation Mockingbird that can only be called bizarre. He actually tries to say that people like Frank Wisner, Joe Alsop, and Paul Nitze (who he calls members of the Georgetown Crowd), were both intellectuals and lefties who thought that -- get this -- FDR did not go far enough with his New Deal policies. (One step further, and the USA would have been a socialist country.) At another point, he writes " ... the Georgetown Group were idealists who really believed in freedom and democracy." This is right after he has described their work in the brutal Guatemala coup of 1954, which featured the famous CIA "death lists". He then says that Eisenhower had been a "great disappointment" to them. This is the man who made "Mr. Georgetown" i.e. Allen Dulles the CIA director and gave him a blank check, and his brother John Foster Dulles Sec. of State and allowed him to advocate things like brinksmanship and rollback. He then claims that JFK, not Nixon, was the Georgetown Crowd's candidate in 1960. Allegedly, this is based on his foreign policy and his anti-communism. Kennedy is the man who warned against helping French colonialism in Algeria in 1957. Who said -- in 1954 -- that the French could never win in Vietnam, and we should not aid them. Who railed against a concept that the Dulles brothers advocated, that is using atomic weapons to bail out the French at Dien Bien Phu. (Kennedy actually called this idea an act of lunacy). The notion is even more ridiculous when one considers the fact that, according to Howard Hunt, Nixon was the Action Officer in the White House for the CIA's next big covert operation: the Cuban exile invasion of Cuba. Which Kennedy aborted to their great dismay. Further, if Kennedy was the Georgetown Crowd's candidate for years, why did the CIA put together a dossier analysis, including a psychological profile of JFK, after he was elected? As Jim Garrison writes, "Its purpose ... was to predict the likely positions Kennedy would take if particular sets of conditions arose." (On the Trail of the Assassins, p. 60) Yet, according to Simkin, they already knew that. That's why they backed him. At the end of this breathtaking post, he advocates for a Suite 8F Group and Georgetown Crowd Grand Conspiracy (i.e. somewhat like Torbitt), or a lower level CIA plot with people like Dave Morales, Howard Hunt, and Rip Robertson (a rogue operation). Mockingbird was unleashed on 11/22/63 not because the CIA was involved in the assassination -- oh no -- but to cover up for the Georgetown/Suite 8F guys, or a renegade type conspiracy....
When I reviewed David Talbot's book Brothers, I criticized his section on Mary Meyer. Someone posted a link to my review on Simkin's forum. Simkin went after my critique of Talbot's Meyer section tooth and nail. (I should add here that Simkin has a long history of doing this. He goes after people who disagree with him on Meyer with a Bill O'Reilly type intensity. Almost as if he is trying to beat down any further public disagreement about his view of what happened to her.) In my review I simply stated that Talbot had taken at face value people who did not deserve to be trusted. And I specifically named Timothy Leary, James Truitt, James Angleton, and David Heymann. And I was quite clear about why they were not credible. At this time, I was not aware of an important fact: it was Simkin who had lobbied Talbot to place the Mary Meyer stuff in the book. Further, that he got Talbot in contact with a guy who he was also about to use to counter me. His name is Peter Janney...
Looking at the line of cover up and subterfuge above poses an obvious question: Why would one spend so much time confusing and concealing something if one was not involved in it? (Or, as Harry Truman noted in another context: How many times do you have to get knocked down before you realize who's hitting you?) In my view, the Meyer story fits perfectly into the above framework. Angleton started it through his friend Truitt in 1976. And then either he had Leary extend it, or Leary did that on his own for pecuniary measures in 1983. Angleton meant it as a character assassination device. But now, luckily for him, Simkin and Janney extend it to the actual assassination itself: The Suite 8F Group meets Mary and the UFO's.
James Angleton was good at his job, much of which consisted of camouflaging the JFK assassination. He doesn't need anyone today giving him posthumous help.
It is true that I do believe that Mary Pinchot Meyer is a “mysterious-death story”. If I am guilty of “relentlessly pushing” this story, I am also guilty of doing the same for a whole range of suspicious deaths. I doubt if 1% of my posts on this forum have dealt with the subject of Meyer.
I have my doubts about how much time he has spent reading my posts as he still does not know how to spell my name.
It is true that I have spent a fair amount of time investigating the Suite 8F Group - in my opinion, a much under-researched group. My main interest in this group concerns its involvement in the Military Industrial Congressional Complex. The founders of this group, George Brown and Herman Brown were the owners of Brown & Root, the company that later evolved into Halliburton. Members of the Suite 8F Group were financial supporters of Lyndon Johnson since 1937. They were totally opposed to JFK’s proposal to tackle the oil deprecation allowance and the issue of civil rights. They also hoped to make their fortunes from a war in Vietnam. Thanks to LBJ they did. I have suggested that members of the Suite 8F Group might have sponsored the assassination of JFK. I have included what little evidence I have on my page on the Suite 8F group and the pages on the individual members of the group.
As you can see, I make little use of the William Torbitt document (Nomenclature of an Assassination Cabal). According to Jim Marrs the document was written by a lawyer named David Copeland. It does include a lot of dubious information. However, it does include some important details about people like Bobby Baker, George Smathers, Fred Black, Grant Stockdale, Lewis McWillie and Fred Korth. For example, his information about the relationship between Grant Stockdale and Bobby Baker has since been discovered to be true. Further research has shown that the death of Grant Stockdale on 2nd December, 1963, after his visit to see Robert and Edward Kennedy, might well have been related to the assassination...
James DiEugenio is not putting my comments in any historical context. Several members of the “Georgetown Crowd” were on the left during the 1930s. In some cases, they accepted the arguments of the American Communist Party who felt the FDR did not go far enough with his New Deal policies.
Like many left-wing intellectuals, Wisner, etc. became very hostile to communism because of their experiences during the Second World War. In Wisner’s case it was his work with the OSS that revealed the way Stalin manipulated events in Eastern Europe in 1945. Like most liberals, Wisner was horrified by the way that the Allies betrayed the people of Eastern Europe by allowing them to be transferred from a fascistic dictatorship to one run by someone who called himself a communist.
It is my understanding that most of the leaders of the CIA when it was formed in 1947 still held liberal opinions on domestic subjects. However, as a result of their experiences during the war they were passionately anti-communist. They also believed in democracy but their crusade against communism took over completely and by 1954 they fully supported the overthrow of a democratically elected government in Guatemala because it was not considered anti-communist enough.
I think I should define what I mean by the Georgetown Set. This was a group of journalists, politicians and government officials based in the Georgetown area of Washington who used to get together at parties to discuss politics. This included Frank Wisner, George Kennan, Dean Acheson, Richard Bissell, Desmond FitzGerald, Joe Alsop, Stewart Alsop, Tracy Barnes, Tom Braden, Philip Graham, David Bruce, Clark Clifford, Walt Rostow, Eugene Rostow, Chip Bohlen, Cord Meyer, James Angleton, William Averill Harriman, Felix Frankfurter, John Sherman Cooper, James Reston, Charles Thayer, Allen W. Dulles and Paul Nitze. Most were supporters of the Democratic Party but some, like Cooper was a Republican.
Most men brought their wives to these gatherings. Members of what was later called the Georgetown Ladies' Social Club included Katharine Graham, Mary Pinchot Meyer, Sally Reston, Polly Wisner, Joan Braden, Lorraine Cooper, Evangeline Bruce, Avis Bohlen, Janet Barnes, Tish Alsop, Cynthia Helms, Marietta FitzGerald, Phyllis Nitze and Annie Bissell.
The Georgetown Set included several senior members of the CIA. For example, Frank Wisner, Richard Bissell, Desmond FitzGerald, Tracy Barnes, Tom Braden, Cord Meyer, James Angleton and Allen W. Dulles.
The Republicans saw the CIA as being under the control of the Democratic Party. This included J. Edgar Hoover who in 1953 described Frank Wisner’s Office of Policy Coordination (OPC) as "Wisner's gang of weirdos" and began carrying out investigations into their past. It did not take him long to discover that some of them had been active in left-wing politics in the 1930s. This information was passed to Joseph McCarthy who started making attacks on members of the OPC. Hoover also passed to McCarthy details of an affair that Wisner had with Princess Caradja in Romania during the war. Hoover, claimed that Caradja was a Soviet agent.
Joseph McCarthy also began accusing other members of the Georgetown Crowd as being security risks. McCarthy claimed that the CIA was a "sinkhole of communists" and claimed he intended to root out a hundred of them. His first targets were Chip Bohlen and Charles Thayer. Bohlen survived but Thayer was forced to resign.
In August, 1953, Richard Helms, Wisner's deputy at the OPC, told Meyer that Joseph McCarthy had accused him of being a communist. The Federal Bureau of Investigation added to the smear by announcing it was unwilling to give Meyer "security clearance". However, the FBI refused to explain what evidence they had against Meyer. Allen W. Dulles and both came to his defence and refused to permit a FBI interrogation of Meyer.
The FBI eventually revealed the charges against Meyer. Apparently he was a member of several liberal groups considered to be subversive by the Justice Department. This included being a member of the National Council on the Arts, where he associated with Norman Thomas, the leader of the Socialist Party and its presidential candidate in 1948. It was also pointed out that his wife, Mary Meyer, was a former member of the American Labor Party. Meyer was eventually cleared of these charges and was allowed to keep his job.
Of course the CIA, like any organization, was divided by the merits of Kennedy and Nixon. Senior members who had dealings with Nixon found him unreliable and too pragmatic. Of course, they were right, as he was to show later with his policy towards China. As newspaper reports show at the time, JFK was seen as the one who was seen as more of a hard line cold warrior. Read his speeches where he attacks Eisenhower/Nixon for not removing Castro from power. Richard Bissell, also a member of the Georgetown Set, briefed JFK during the election about the CIA plot to remove Castro that had been operational since March 1960. However, JFK was free to attack Nixon for his inaction over Cuba as he was unable to publicly admit what was really going on.
Members of he Georgetown Set were mainly supporters of JFK over Nixon. That was due to social, political and partisan reasons. Interestingly, they were also keen that LBJ should become his running-mate. The idea was first suggested by Philip Graham of the Washington Post. Graham, the key figure in the CIA’s Operation Mockingbird, had been campaigning strongly for Johnson to get the nomination. However, when Graham arrived at the Democratic Party Convention in Los Angeles on 8th July, Johnson told him that Kennedy would win by a landslide. Graham then had a meeting with Robert Kennedy and was finally convinced that Johnson had indeed lost his race to be the presidential candidate.
According to Katharine Graham, her husband and Joe Alsop (another key member of the Georgetown Set), arranged a meeting with John Kennedy on 11th July. Alsop started the conversation with the following comment: “We’ve come to talk to you about the vice-presidency. Something may happen to you, and Symington is far too shallow a puddle for the United States to dive into.” Graham then explained the advantages that Johnson would “add to the ticket”. What is more, it would remove Johnson as leader of the Senate. (Katharine Graham, Personal History, pages 282-283).
Once in power, Kennedy appeared to support the foreign policy established by Dwight Eisenhower. The historian, David Kaiser, argues that Eisenhower’s policies “called for a military response to Communist aggression almost anywhere that it might occur”.
This policy began with the overthrow by the CIA of President Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán in Guatemala in the summer of 1954. According to one historian: “The Agency had learned a lesson from the Guatemalan revolution in the early 1950s, when a nationalist government expropriated the land and the public service enterprises of U.S. monopolies to the benefit of the peasants and the population in general. This experience gave rise to a program of infiltrating agents into countries convulsed by communist ideas.” (Fabian Escalante, CIA Covert Operations 1959-62: The Cuba Project, page 12)
In the final months of his administration, Eisenhower was mainly concerned with trying to overthrow the government of Fidel Castro in Cuba. He was also worried about events in Laos and Vietnam. However, Kaiser convincingly argues that Kennedy subtly changed foreign policy after he gained office. “Ironically, while Eisenhower’s supposedly cautious approach in foreign policy had frequently been contrasted with his successors’ apparent aggressiveness, Kennedy actually spent much of his term resisting policies developed and approved under Eisenhower, both in Southeast Asia and elsewhere. He also had to deal with the legacy of the Eisenhower administration’s disastrous attempts to create a pro-Western rather than a neutral government in Laos – a policy he quickly reversed, thereby avoiding the need for American military intervention there.” (David Kaiser, American Tragedy: Kennedy, Johnson and the Origins of the Vietnam War, page 2)
Kaiser admits that he the Kennedy administration did increase the number of American military personnel in South Vietnam from 600 in 1960 to 17,500 in 1963. However, although he sincerely wanted to help the South Vietnamese government cope with the Viet Cong he rejected war as a way to do so. Kennedy’s view of America’s involvement in Southeast Asia was expressed clearly at his first ever press conference. When asked about Laos he expressed his intentions to help create “a peaceful country – an independent country not dominated by either side but concerned with the life of the people within the country.” (Howard W. Chase and Allen H. Lerman, Kennedy and the Press: The News Conferences, page 25) This was a marked departure from Eisenhower’s policy of supporting anti-communist military dictatorships in Southeast Asia and the Americas.
This analysis of Kennedy’s foreign policy is supported by two of his most important aides, Kenneth P. O’Donnell and David F. Powers. In their book, Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ye: Memories of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, they describe how on 19th January, 1960, Eisenhower briefed Kennedy on “various important items of unfinished business”. This included news about “the rebel force that was being trained by the CIA in Guatemala to invade Cuba.” O’Donnell and Powers claimed that: “Eisenhower urged him to keep on supporting this plan to overthrow Castro. But Eisenhower talked mostly about Laos, which he then regarded as the most dangerous trouble spot in Southeast Asia. He mentioned South Vietnam only as one of the nations that would fall into the hands of the Communists if the United States failed to maintain the anti-Communist regime in Laos.” Kennedy was shocked by what Eisenhower told him. He later told his two aides: “There he sat, telling me to get ready to put ground forces into Asia, the thing he himself had been carefully avoiding for the last eight years.” (Kenneth P. O’Donnell & David F. Powers, Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ye: Memories of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, page 281-282)
Kennedy continued to resist all attempts to persuade him to send troops to Vietnam. His policy was reinforced by the Bay of Pigs operation. Kennedy told his assistant secretary of state, Roger Hilsman: “The Bay of Pigs has taught me a number of things. One is not to trust generals or the CIA, and the second is that if the American people do not want to use American troops to remove a Communist regime 90 miles away from our coast, how can I ask them to use troops to remove a Communist regime 9,000 miles away?
In April, 1962, Kennedy told McGeorge Bundy to “seize upon any favourable moment to reduce our involvement” in Vietnam. (Memorandum written by McGeorge Bundy’s aide, Michael Y. Forrestal, dated 26th April, 1962) In September, 1963, Robert Kennedy expressed similar views at a meeting of the National Security Council: “The first question was whether a Communist takeover could be successfully resisted with any government. If it could not, now was the time to get out of Vietnam entirely, rather than waiting.” (Roger Hilsman, To Move a Nation, page 501).
No wonder the CIA saw JFK as someone who betrayed them. JFK’s crime was to change his views on foreign policy while in power. He was indeed a hard-line cold war warrior in 1960, but he was very different by 1963. Ironically, JFK still had his reputation as a cold war warrior. This had been reinforced by the way the Cuban Missile Crisis was reported. Of course, the general public was not told about the secret agreement that JFK had made with the Soviets about the removal of missiles in Italy and Turkey.
For some reason DiEugenio objects to this passage from Heymann’s book. As he claims that Heymann is unreliable source I assume DiEugenio is suggesting that Carol Delaney never told him this or this interview with Cord Meyer never took place. Is Heymann so unreliable that he would have made up the contents of an interview? Why would he do this? He does not develop points raised in the interview. As I said before, the book is not about the assassination of JFK. Unless you knew a great deal about the case, you would not be aware of the significance of Cord Meyer’s comments. Even so, it is only Cord Meyer speculating about the death of his wife. Nor does he name the people who carried out the crime. However, if he is indeed referring to the CIA as being behind the deaths of JFK and Mary Meyer, this comment is very interesting. He is one of the few individuals within the CIA who might have known about the people behind the plot to kill JFK. Meyer knew that the CIA would not hesitate to arrange the death of someone if it suited their overall strategy.
In Nina Burleigh’s biography of Mary Pinchot Meyer she claims that the couple suspected that the CIA might have been behind the death of their son. At the time, Cord Meyer was very disillusioned with the work he was doing with the CIA and was trying to get a job in publishing. He discovered that the CIA was stopping him from getting another job. As he was the main figure running Operation Mockingbird at the time, the CIA was extremely worried about this proposed job change. After the death of his son he stopped looking for another job. It also marked the beginning of the end in their marriage. Cord and Mary shared the same political ideals when they met during the Second World War. By continuing to work for the CIA, Cord Meyer revealed to his wife he had sold out. Given this background, I think it is highly likely that Cord Meyer made these comments to Heymann and that it tells us something very important about the deaths of JFK and Mary Pinchot Meyer.
It was of course James Truitt who first broke the story about James Angleton and Ben Bradlee’s search and discovery of Mary Pinchot Meyer’s diary in October 1964. In March, 1976, James Truitt, a former senior member of staff at the Washington Post, gave an interview to the National Enquirer. Truitt told the newspaper that Meyer was having an affair with JFK when he was assassinated. He also claimed that Meyer had told his wife, Ann Truitt, that she was keeping an account of this relationship in her diary. Meyer asked Truitt to take possession of a private diary "if anything ever happened to me".
Ann Truitt was living in Tokyo at the time that Meyer was murdered on 12th October, 1964. She phoned Bradlee at his home and asked him if he had found the diary. Bradlee, who claimed he was unaware of his sister-in-law's affair with Kennedy, knew nothing about the diary.
Leo Damore claimed in an article that appeared in the New York Post that the reason Angleton and Bradlee were looking for the diary was that: "She (Meyer) had access to the highest levels. She was involved in illegal drug activity. What do you think it would do to the beatification of Kennedy if this woman said, 'It wasn't Camelot, it was Caligula's court'?" Damore also said that a figure close to the CIA had told him that Mary's death had been a professional "hit".
There is another possible reason why both Angleton and Bradlee were searching for documents in Meyer's house. Meyer had been married to Cord Meyer, a leading CIA operative involved in a variety of covert operations in the early 1950s. This included running Mockingbird, an operation that involved controlling the American press. Phil Graham, another former OSS officer, who owned the Washington Post, was brought into this operation by Frank Wisner, Meyer's boss. Graham committed suicide just before the death of JFK. Was the CIA worried that Meyer had kept a record of these activities? We do know that Mary disapproved of her husband’s covert activities and this was a major factor in the break-up of the marriage. Was this why Mary Pinochet Meyer had been murdered?
DiEugenio dismisses James Truitt as a unreliable source and cites the fact that he was upset with Ben Bradlee over his sacking in 1969. As part of his settlement he took $35,000 on the written condition that he did not write anything for publication about his experiences at the Washington Post that was "in any way derogatory" of the company. He clearly upset Bradlee by breaking that agreement with his story about how he and Angleton searched and found Meyer’s diary.
At first Bradlee and Angleton denied the story. Some of Mary's friends knew that the two men were lying about the diary and some spoke anonymously to other newspapers and magazines. Later that month Time Magazine published an article confirming Truitt's story. Antoinette Bradlee, who was now living apart from Ben Bradlee, admitted that her sister had been having an affair with JFK. Antoinette claimed she found the diary and letters a few days after her sister's death. It was claimed that the diary was in a metal box in Mary's studio. The contents of the box were given to James Angleton who claimed he burnt the diary. Bradlee and Angleton were now forced to admit that Truitt's story was accurate.
Bradlee later recalled what he did after Truitt's phone-call: "We didn't start looking until the next morning, when Tony and I walked around the corner a few blocks to Mary's house. It was locked, as we had expected, but when we got inside, we found Jim Angleton, and to our complete surprise he told us he, too, was looking for Mary's diary."
James Angleton, CIA counterintelligence chief, admitted that he knew of Mary's relationship with JFK and was searching her home looking for her diary and any letters that would reveal details of the affair. According to Ben Bradlee, it was Mary's sister, Antoinette Bradlee, who found the diary and letters a few days later. It was claimed that the diary was in a metal box in Mary's studio. The contents of the box were given to Angleton who claimed he burnt the diary. Angleton later admitted that Mary recorded in her diary that she had taken LSD with Kennedy before "they made love".
These confessions were very embarrassing for both Bradlee and Angleton. They were guilty of hiding importance evidence from police who were investigating a murder case. What is more, Angleton admitted destroying this evidence so we now only have his account of what this diary contained.
I am not sure what it is about Truitts’ account that James does not believe. In 1981 James Truitt committed suicide. According to Nina Burleigh (A Very Private Woman) Truitt's wife, Evelyn Patterson Truitt, claimed that her husband's papers, including copies of Mary's diary, had been stolen from the home by an CIA agent called Herbert Burrows.
Leo Damore, who worked on the Mary Pinchot Meyer story after Truitt’s story was published, committed suicide in 1995.
Ben Bradlee is still alive but I am sure he has no desire to talk about this story. Nor is he very keen to talk about his work for the CIA in the 1950s when he worked as assistant press attaché in the American embassy in Paris. In 1952 Bradlee joined the staff of the Office of U.S. Information and Educational Exchange (USIE), the embassy's propaganda unit. USIE produced films, magazines, research, speeches, and news items for use by the CIA throughout Europe. USIE (later known as USIA) also controlled the Voice of America, a means of disseminating pro-American "cultural information" worldwide. While at the USIE Bradlee worked with E. Howard Hunt.
According to a Justice Department memo from a assistant U.S. attorney in the Rosenberg Trial Bradlee was helping the CIA to manage European propaganda regarding the spying conviction and the execution of Ethel Rosenberg and Julius Rosenberg on 19th June, 1953.
Bradlee was officially employed by USIE until 1953, when he began working for Newsweek. While based in France, Bradlee divorced his first wife and married Antoinette Pinchot. At the time of the marriage, Antoinette's sister, Mary Pinchot Meyer, was married to Cord Meyer. Antoinette Bradlee was also a close friend of Cicely d'Autremont, who was married to James Angleton. Bradlee worked closely with Angleton in Paris. At the time Angleton was liaison for all Allied intelligence in Europe. His deputy was Richard Ober, a fellow student of Bradlee's at Harvard University.
Bradlee was very angry when this information appeared in Deborah Davis' book "Katharine the Great". Bradlee managed to persuade the publisher to withdraw the book. Another claim made by Davies was that Richard Ober, Bradlee’s CIA buddy, was “Deep Throat”. If that is the case, the Watergate story pushed by the Washington Post was nothing more than a CIA “limited hangout” operation.