Friday, March 24, 2017

Judge John Tunheim - CAPA Sunshine Week at NPC

Black Op Audio: Black Op Radio

Federal Judge John R. Tunheim – Former Chairman of the Assassination Records Review Board – CAPA Press Conference – National Press Club – March 16, 2017
Andrew Kreig: Please welcome our chairman Dr. Cyril Wecht.
Dr. Cyril Wecht: Thank you Andrew. I want to start by thanking Andrew Kreig for organizing this on behalf of CAPA. He has done this essentially as a one man show and we are most grateful to him. I want to welcome all of you here on behalf of CAPA and thank you for coming. This is an important year, as you will hear from all of our speakers, but I want to move along and introduce our guest of honor and principle speaker is Judge John Tunheim, who I have learned grew up a half an hour from the Canadian border, and he is subject to deportation at any time (laughter). After graduating from Concordia College, he attended the University of Minnesota School of Law, practiced privately and then became affiliated with the Minnesota court of law.
In 1994 Judge Tunheim was appointed chairman of the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB), and continued in that capacity until they finished up in 1998.
The huge community of Warren Commission critic researchers, and the huge majority 65 to 80 percent of Americans who reject the Warren Commission conclusions, owe John Tunheim a gratitude of debt. My wife is from Norway and we were discussing the correct pronunciation of Tunheim. We all owe Judge Tunheim a tremendous debt, he as chairman of the ARRB he led the way, opened the door and broadened the horizons that had been perhaps opened earlier by  outstanding critics, some of whom are here today to speak, and others of our brethren who are now regrettably have departed.
The work he did and the way in which they dealt with this in an objective, firm, dynamic but extremely honorable fashion laid the groundwork that that we are continuing to follow on that ever since, and we are delighted to have him here.
In 1995 he was appointed a federal judge by President Clinton, a kind of birthday gift, and the past several years since 2010 he has been the chief federal judge of the federal district court in Minneapolis, Minnesota. We thank you very much for coming here, and we know he has an awful lot to deal with back there and is waiting on a jury decision in a trial at which he has just presided.
So let us hear what the honorable Judge John Tunheim has to say, tell us some recollections about the ARRB and possibly, I don’t know but maybe make some predictions about what will unfold this year. Judge Tunheim.
Judge Tunheim:
Thank you very much Cyril, it’s always great to be back with so many familiar faces. I’m glad to be here with you today to talk a little bit about the records that should be released this year according to the JFK Act.
As many of you probably know the story of the Assassinations Records Review Board – really put together by an Act of Congress following up on Oliver Stone’s movie in 1991 and the demands to members of Congress to release the files, despite steadfast opposition to the law at the time by President Bush. Eventual passage of the 1992 Records Act set up a process of review of classified information that I have suggestions for improvements the next time this is done, but by and large it worked very well. There were some problems with it. I was looking back this morning on dealing with the identification documents being sent over at the time from the National Archives and recalling were sent over to us on five and a half inch floppy discs, if you remember that. It’s a look back in time to the technology we had then.
We ran the Review Board for I’d say about four years. When we were confirmed by the Senate after President Clinton nominated us in the fall of 1993, we had to go through the Senate confirmation process and were confirmed in the spring of 1994.
There were five of us who were part time, but we had no appropriation and no staff. And we had stacks of documents that were piling up from agencies who had had been required with deadlines much, much earlier to prepare assassination records for us even before we even had the opportunity to tell them what an assassination was
So fortunately I knew the White House chief of staff at the time and he came up with a half a million dollars from what we all commonly referred to as a slush fund at the White House, a slush fund for a rainy day or whatever came along and were able to get started in the fall of 1994.
We had three years to do the work with the possibility of one additional year if Congress approved. It sounded like a long time, it sounded like enough time to do the work. But we just did not anticipate just how many records that had not released concerning the Kennedy assassination.
We contributed a little bit to the problem by broadening the definition of an assassination record beyond the statuary definition through rule making, because we wanted to gather any record that could conceivably be possibly related to the assassination in any way, rather than just something that was strictly defined as an assassination record. So we were part of the problem but we wanted to get our hands on everything. 
I took the position early on that if someone suggested to us that a particular group of records existed and may be relevant, we would not pass judgement on that, and if we didn’t pass judgement on it, that’s fine, we’ll get the records in and we will find what could be released.
The standards that was set up under the law was terrific, in terms of being a statute that operated with a lot of records. There was a presumption of disclosure for every document that fit within our category of what an assassination record was, and if an agency wanted to protect information on that record or that record as a whole, had to convince us by clear and convincing evidence, which is a relatively high standard and we applied that standard carefully.
The process that we were involved in was a balancing of need for postponement of information in a record verses the public interest. We took the position early on that that all records had a strong public interest, so therefore the standard had to be really high for postponement.
The areas that we were supposed to look at for possible postponement of records included:
-          Intelligence activities, intelligence gathering activities

-          Law enforcement documents,

Also methods of protecting the president, but interesting not a single claim came forward that a document had to be protected because it would disclose a method of protecting the president.

-          If it would affect the conduct of foreign relations – which turned out to be a much more major topic than I thought it would be. 

-          And also personal privacy which was a very small category into which only a handful of records were in.
So when we started out and it took us a while to build a staff in the fall of 1994 we were hiring a staff. We hired an executive director David Marwell and went to work building a staff, so it really took most of that first year to gear up before we could get into a position to review records.
When we started the review process it was largely a word by word review, and with the possibility and likely hood of hundreds of thousands of documents coming in, that just wasn’t going to be feasible, and what was then thought to be a three year time period, we just weren’t going to get it done.
I do think that in the end, although my fellow board members and I thought we didn’t want to ask for another year, we could have gotten another year our appropriation was minimal each year – I think our appropriation was about 11 or 12 million dollars a year, so it wasn’t a very expensive agency to run. I think in retrospect we could have used two or three more years because we had to take some short cuts near the end.
Let me tell you how we looked the review process, as it will give you some insight into the records that are coming up for review - which is a statuary deadline in the President John F. Kennedy Records Collection Act of 1992 – it specified that any records that were not released by us or any information that was redacted from a document would be reviewed for possible release in 2017, would have to be reviewed. And I understand the Archives is preparing all of those materials now for decisions. I am hopeful the agencies involved who have equity in these documents will be open to releasing these records.

We made one decision early on which I think was an important decision, we vowed that we would not protect anything that was centrally related to the assassination story regardless of who it might implicate or who it might affect. And I think that was a wise decision, particularly how we prioritized all of the documents we were going to look at.
Ultimately the board made voting decisions on twenty-seven thousand documents and many of those documents had issues relative of redacted information, so it was a fairly extensive effort to get through everything.
The core documents which occupied most of our time as a board - the documents that were more centrally related to the assassination, had some kind of a close nexus to the assassination in our view, we worked on those records word by word, we went through them very carefully. The vast majority of them were released, unless there was some reason not to release certain information. It was really a line by line review.
The Oswald file, the central file at the CIA for example, was reviewed word by word all the way through to make sure we could release all of it – and we released virtually all of that. 
We were prohibited by law from releasing Oswald’s tax records unfortunately, they were in those files, but by law would not allow us to do that, we needed Marina Oswald’s permission that she refused to give, so those records were not released.
But the other one I thought was particularly interesting -  the Lopez Report of the House Select Committee on Assassinations, which again it had been released earlier in heavily redacted form, so we released virtually all of that as well. These closely related nexus documents took up most of our time.
It became obvious after a while that we needed another process, a few hundred thousand to the four million range in numbers of records we ultimately expected to come to us.  Not that many came. Ultimately close to 3 million actually passed over our desks and went through that process.
We tried to develop a faster process after we got past the records that were centrally related. So we started to develop a faster track process after records became less centrally related.
Once we made decisions on certain categories we tried to convinced the agencies to something was called “consent releases.” When they asked for specific records to be withheld - they saw the handwriting on the wall that we were going to release that information, so there were a lot of consent releases, I think there were 35,000 consent releases where the agencies, basically for the lack of a better term, gave up, as we weren’t going to agree with their position anyway.
So we worked that process through and we also tried to develop formats for agencies to give us the information we needed to make a decision. Rather than having a two-hour meeting with 15 guys from the CIA and go over these records and them making the arguments why we shouldn’t release it – we started to focus more on a document where they could put the information they wanted on a document so we didn’t have to meet and talk ad nausea about a record.  So we tried to move from meetings to a records based set of arguments.
There were a lot of files that were caught up in Segregated files, particularly at the CIA. The earlier investigations and this includes the Church Committee investigations, HSCA, the Warren Commission where the Agency segregated files that might be relevant, they segregated huge rooms full of files, expecting them to be relevant. The put them together in one spot and we took control over them.
Once we realized that some of them were not actually related to the assassination – they might be interesting, but if it wasn’t related in any way to the assassination, we had no authority over it. Our authority was over records that had some conceivable tie to the assassination. 
So some kind overseas operation that had a secret file there that was put in the segregated file, but had nothing to do with the assassination, we didn’t feel we had jurisdiction, even though we would have wanted to release it, so we developed this category of documents we called “Not Believed Relevant,” or NBRs.
That is the bulk of the information that is coming forward now in 2017 for potential release. I think it is somewhere around 40,000 somewhere in there, I am guessing – I  haven’t talked to the National Archives people in a long time, so I don’t know exactly. It’s hard to keep track of all of them. That’s the big bulk of records, they are Segregated – part of the record, but not released in whole because we a made the determination that near the end of our time we believed they were not believed relevant.  – Now there may be some interesting stuff in there. And there may be stuff that in 2017 we realize is relevant to the assassination, but we didn’t realize it in the 1990s.
So before you believe that this stuff isn’t relevant stuff, it’s interesting, but we made a determination that we didn’t have time to review them word by word – and go through a detailed process, because we would have never finished our work. And you could argue we never finished our work anyway. But I think, if I remember correctly this is the only group of records we agreed to postpone in whole, everything else, all the other postponements were redactions of particular parts within records.
There is also a group of records, I don’t know if they are classified as NBR records – they were a segregated collection, part of earlier investigations – we reviewed them but required less evidence on protecting information, so there is information protected in there. 

Now I want to go through some of the examples of the redactions that we did, as I think that will be an interesting part of the records to be released.
I also want to point out some of the obstacles we faced long the way.
The FBI appealed I think the first five hundred and seventy decisions that were adverse to them and the appeals went to the president, – this was not a process that was going to court – it went to the President, and they simply started to appeal everything. It was drowning us because we had to write legal briefs to the White House for everyone. It took a lot of time before eventually they were convinced to withdraw all of their appeals because the president did not overturn us once, but it still involved a lot of work.
We spent a lot of time with the part of the law that required us to look for additional records in private hands or the bands of state or local governments.
We held hearings around the country looking for additional records, and a lot of additional records were caught up in the sweep, although there were organizations that were fighting us over records, they contested us for records over whether they should get it or we should get it.
I always argued - think in 200 years from now what agencies will still be around? I think probably the National Archives will be around rather than some local organization. But it was sometimes difficult.
One example is The Sixth Floor in Dallas, which has a wonderful museum, I like it very much, but they were a tough competitors for documents.
I think there was some unlawful withholding of records by agencies. I mean I don’t know that for a fact. We tried to sweep as widely as possible as we could.
The Agency people we worked with worked in good faith. The CIA people were largely retired CIA people, contractors. At the end of the process I think they realized that it was good to get some of these records released, where they could not so it.
The CIA always has trouble releasing records because it might set a precedent for other records they don’t want to release, even if something was innocuous, so since we were actually doing the declassification was actually very helpful to them. I will say we found their filing system to be less than organized.
The FBI was the opposite, the FBI was as organized as you could be, they just never thought anyone would be looking around their card files in their basement, but they were very difficult agency.
Actually the Secret Service was probably the most difficult agency – they were the only agency who tried to reclassify material after we took office in an effort to keep the information away from us. And it wasn’t information that was all that important.
They fought us on the release of the Threat Sheets from 1963, which I thought was highly relevant in the fact that the president who had been threatened at various times throughout that year was assassinated that fall, so the Threat Sheets would be relevant, but they fought us on that.  I’m not clear as to what actually happened there because it was after we left office.
There’s also the possibility and still the likelihood that records had been destroyed – thirty years had passed since the assassination and when we were working. The1960s was an era that was notorious for people bringing home records government files when they left office.
When the son of the staff director of the Warren Commission called us to say you know my dad is dead but we have these 18 boxes of Warren Commission stuff in the basement, do we want it? Well, yes we do. They should have been government records but they weren’t because he took them home. They were all obstacles.                        
I want to run though the categories that are part of the redactions. We did a lot of redactions, I don’t know how many in the end. There were a lot of redactions we put a release date on it.
We were engaged in the awkward task of predicting when someone would no longer be alive and therefore it was safe to release their name which appeared in a document, whether it was an intelligence document or law enforcement record. If we felt there was some possibility danger would come to them if their name was released while they were still alive.
This had to be proven us. We had to have it proven to us. If an FBI informant didn’t want his name released - We needed to get in contact with these people or their family and if the person was dead we released their name. We decided that there was no need to continue protecting a person if they were dead. If the person was no longer living there was no reason to protect them, although we heard plenty of arguments. They said, if our little town knows that our dad was an FBI informant we will be ruined forever. Well I don’t think they had to be protected after the person was dead, so we released it.
If someone wanted to know when it would be released it would be on there what day they would be released. That part has gone by now after all these years.
Some examples of the categories of redactions
-          The names of intelligence agents that appear everywhere in these documents everywhere.

-          The CIA asked us for a blanket postponement of the names of agents who appear in these records and we felt there is a high degree of public interest in who worked on these documents related to the assassination. We virtually released all of these names, unless there was a real strong danger of disclosure that was pointed out to us then they would come up on a redaction that will come up this year.

-          We added some dates but by and large we released all of those names unless it was pointed out to us by and large.

-          There were a lot of names of NSA staff- we did not find any names in there that was particularly relevant so we postponed most of those names.

-          CIA sources. Foreign government sources where there was some evidence that they could be prosecuted for treason for having cooperated with the US government by providing information. Those names will come up this year those that we postponed.

-          The pseudo names that the CIA uses we released – I think we released all of them, and I remember the debates on some of those and they gave the argument that if you release it here someone can track the name all the way through the documents – and my response to that was well that’s the point isn’t it? If it’s the same person or not who was doing this kind of work.

-          We had a big fight with the CIA over Crypts, which is a little device they use in their documents not to disclose names and places.

-          The location issue was particularly sensitive, and we ended up releasing the locations within a certain window of time, and not outside that window, so that’s coming up.

-          Some of the locations diagraphs we postponed at their request – we didn’t postpone any of the headquarters ones or Mexico City location diagraphs for the crypts.

-          Surveillance methods, we agreed early on that we would postpone something identifying a method of gathering intelligence only if they could prove that it was related to a current operations - and there were some of those and they will come up in the redactions this year.

-          Station Locations was a fight – we had a small window of time where we released all the station locations, it was the first time the CIA had stations released, even though everyone knows they have them all over the world.

-          I mentioned the Secret Service Threat Sheets – I don’t really know what happened to that, no one was able to tell me if that was ever resolved or if it was still protected, if it was protected, it will come out this year.

-          Personal privacy area, we protected some there. The personal privacy issues remain so I don’t know what will happen with them.

-          Two of the most cumbersome things, one was that a lot of FBI and some CIA documents had foreign government cooperation included – and the agencies would insist we had to have the approval of the foreign governments in order to release the information, and that took an enormous amount of time. So there’s probably more redactions in this category than there should be just because it was hard to get the right official in the right country to say that it’s okay with us to release that.

-          A good example is the famous J E Hover document that had the subject of Lee Harvey Oswald internal security, from early 1960 when they were following what he was doing on his trek to the Soviet Union. Parts of it had been released in the past in a FOIA law suit. Still a lot of it was protected.

-          In the end we could not get the name of the Swiss federal police officer who investigated at the FBI request the Swiss College where Oswald said he was at, and that remained redacted, but that’s an example of the kinds of things that was difficult for us. Some of it was because we had requested out but just ran out of time.

                                So what’s out there besides all of these redactions? And I think the redacted information will be interesting to people –one thing that will help is you will be able to follow the course of these documents a little bit better without having the redactions in them, and I hope they all get released. I don’t know if the agencies will start a campaign to not release information. I have no idea what’s going to happen. It’s a little bit different now. We don’t have a board like us sitting there saying no, we are going to declassify, and the Archives has decided they don’t have the authority we formally had.

-          There are files I want to see out at some point - the Oswald KGB file, which is in Minsk. I was there – I came very close to getting that entire file released. Or a copy of it all. It stands about five feet high when the files sit on top of each other. It is an in depth file of what Oswald did when he was in the Soviet Union, they are fascinating, and I spent a lot of time with these files, of course they are all in Russian but I had some read to me.

-          Norman Mailer was there earlier than me and had some released to him, he bought some of them, and I was ready to pay for photo copies, but our relationship with Belarus got worse and worse and in the end we just couldn’t get them out. I would like to get them out.

-          There is said to be a full copy in the Kremlin as well.  The original was sent to Belarus when the Soviet Union broke up. The KGB files were sent to the country or primary area of origin rather than kept in Moscow.

-          Speaking of KGB files, I think there is a huge cache of KGB records in Moscow dealing with the assassination of President Kennedy in Moscow –at the time the Russians were very concerned because of Oswald’s time there, there was strong suspicions that they were involved, so  they had what everyone agrees was a pretty extensive investigation.

-          I didn’t get any help from the State Department on this subject even though they were required to by law to assist us.

-          We did get some help from Vice president Gore who got some records released by asking the Prime Minister at the time. But my attempts over there didn’t work – I had the US Ambassador with me, but they knew my government didn’t support me so they weren’t either. 

                 I didn’t get the support I needed so they didn’t support me. I was used to getting asked a question in return to my question - “What is your time frame on release of the records” and they would say,  “What makes you think we have records.”

          That didn’t work. I’d like to see that, and it will probably come out so researchers have access to that, we paid someone to keep negotiating that.

-          We had the Jack Ruby files from the WC, HSCA and the FBI – but not much beyond that. The prosecution files were recently discovered in a closet I think in the last year or two, after they told us they had nothing else down there what so ever. There are files out there we don’t really know about because no one has bothered to check. Ruby’s lawyers files – I have never seen them but something I think that is something that would be very interesting as well.

-          There are categories of individuals we know more about today. George Joannedes, is a good example. Our staff was told that he was just a liaison to the House Select Committee, that’s all, a kind of a flunky so they tossed it in the NBR files. We messed up on that, but we were clearly misled by them, and I think there may be others as well,

                We also worked out with the agencies – we had a contract signed by them going forward – we were afraid that when we stopped working the impetus would stop. None of the agencies have really followed those requirements they agreed to at the time we finished our work, and I don’t suppose that’s much of a surprise.

                  I wanted to give you a flavor of what we did and what will happen when they take a review now, a lot of it depends on whether the people in charge of these agencies that are looking at these records are going to be cooperative in this or not.

               This is all stuff from fifty years ago folks, I mean it’s not that important to keep protecting it, and it could be valuable to researchers., it may be like looking for a needle in a haystack, I think it important and it may be interesting information once it gets out, and I hope we don’t follow the latest line of protecting everything these days.

                  Our recommendations on secrecy obviously have not been followed.

         We were lucky to operate in the 1990s between the fall of the Soviet Union and 9/11. After -9/11 all this changed again and things got very protective of information and if that kind of attitude still holds – they won’t be released and that will be a shame since its time to release them after so many years.

-          One more example I thought of is there is a bunch of stuff on Mexico City largely to do with our cooperation with the Mexican government. We received a full court press from not only from the State Department but the CIA and actually other agencies as well, not to release, because it was thought to be detrimental to our relationship with the Mexican government at the time. I guess we don’t have much of relationship with the Mexican government today (laugh), it doesn’t matter much anymore. As the political party in charge then is not the one in power today. The rational for protecting the intelligence gathering activities of the 1960s – there’s no real reason to protect that anymore. 

               So that is a good example of the large group of material that should be coming out and there’s no real reason to protect that now.

[Editor's note - I am working on the Q & A and other panelist's presentations now. Please send any corrections or comments to]

Monday, March 13, 2017

John Newman's Countdown to Darkness - Volume II in a Series

Countdown to Darkness: The Assassination of President Kennedy Volume II (January, 2017)
Image result for john newman jfk

"I truly think we are in new territory in terms of understanding the case" - John Newman 

John Newman's first two installments in a series of books on the deep political and historic background to the assassination of John Kennedy are block busters that destroy the official myth that the president was killed by a deranged lone nut.

The first volume "Where Angels Tread Lightly," sets the historical backdrop to what happened at Dealey Plaza leading up to the election of JFK, while "Darkness" continues the chronology up to the Bay of Pigs fiasco in April 1961.

Each chapter and every statement are meticulously footnoted to government documents and personal interviews that clearly show how the accused assassin and ex-Marine defector was wittingly used in a counter-intelligence trap to catch a Soviet mole who had burrowed deep in the US government intelligence apparatus.

This mole exposed the U2 spy plane and a CIA spy Vladamir Popov to the Soviets and while there are suspects - Kim Philby, Donald McLean and Robert Lipka, he was never officially identified.

While Oswald’s operational intelligence role as a defector and his escapades in New Orleans and Mexico City do not prove he was acting as an agent in Dallas it certainly increases the chances that what happened at Dealey Plaza was a covert intelligence operation regardless of his role, but we haven’t gotten that far yet in Newman’s serial, and knowing what we have learned from the records already released, we look forward to seeing what will come out on October 26, to fill in the blanks.

Building on his first two well received histories - "JFK and Vietnam" and "Oswald and the CIA," Newman's new series will establish beyond a reasonable doubt that whatever you believe happened in Dallas that day it wasn't the work of one man alone, but "operational use" of the accused assassin in previous exploits increases the probability he was also utilized in what Bill Simpich calls "The Dealt Plaza Operation," as we shall henceforth refer to it.

Simpich wrote "State Secret," the definitive book on Oswald's ostensible visit to Mexico City, that you can read free on line at Of "Countdown to Darkness" Simpich wrote, "This important new work on the roots of the JFK assassination delves deeply into the deception and intriques during the buildup to the ill-fated Bay of Pigs invasion. Newman examines the shocking conflict between President Kennedy and the Joint Chiefs of Staff over Laos and Cuba, and offers a dramatic introduction of Lee Harvey Oswald and his probable role as a false defector to the Soviet Union."

While Newman, a former US Army intelligence officer himself, knows how to read a document, he first spent years dissecting aliases, codes and ciphers used to hide the true identities of the major players in this drama - many new names to even the most widely read assassination buffs.

It was in search of some CIA aliases, codes and ciphers in my own research that led me to Newman’s Countdown to Darkness, that had the answers to most of my questions. Though I had read Where Angels Tread Lightly and excerpted a chapter in the first edition of the CAPA Newsletter, I had yet to get to Countdown to Darkness when I learned about a group of former Warren Commission lawyers meeting in Washington DC last year.

From among them I did not recognize one – Samuel Stern, whose House Select Committee on Assassinations interview is astounding for its candor and revelations, what I call Smoking Document #2 (After the Higgins Memo.)

In his HSCA interview Stern is shocked when shown what is called the “Casasin Memo” (Smoking Doc #3 redacted and unredacted of November 25, 1963 that indicates the CIA had OI “operational interest” in Oswald, a document Stern had never seen and what gave him consternation – “They said they gave me everything.”

Most of the redactions in the Thomas Casasin Memo of 25/11/63 are alias and crypts, so even if you get past the redactions there’s another layer of secrecy and deception, which led me to Newman’s book where in Chapter 18 – Opening Oswald’s 201 File, he decodes the aliases and crypts – Redwood is Soviet and Eastern Block Division of CIA, KUDOVE is Deputy Director of Plans, LPOVER is Paris, ODACID is State Department, BI is Background Info and OI is Operational Interest, and he quotes the most pertinent parts of the memo – “We showed operational interest in the Harvey story.”

When Casasin was interviewed by the HSCA in 1978 he claimed not to know what the “Harvey Story” was all about, but in his memo he uses it in the same sentence as Lee Harvey Oswald, and it was the juxtaposition of “Harvey” and “Henry” in the CIA CI – Counter-Intelligence files and the opening of the Oswald 201 file that provides proof of the intentional deception and mole trap.

On other fronts, Newman exposes the charade of Oswald’s defection and the roles of John McVicker and Priscilla Johnson (McMillan), who was officially working for the North American Newspaper Alliance (NANS) at the time of her interview with Oswald in Moscow and was working for Ian Fleming of MI6 and Ivor Bryce, former OSS officer, then owners of NANA.

Newman also identifies, as far as can be determined, QJWIN – the European assassin recruited by the CIA to work on ZRRIFLE as Mavie Jose Mankel, who plays a role in a number of operations, including possibly Dealey Plaza.

Brick by brick Newman removes the wall of secrecy and deception, giving real names to aliases, identifying agents and their crypts, unredacting the white outs, and reassembling them in a way that corrects the record, so we can now rebuild the truth as to what really happened at Dealey Plaza.

When Sam Stern was asked by the HSCA what would have happened if the Warren Commission knew about the Mafia-CIA plots to kill Castro, he said that they would have looked a lot more closely at the Mafia and the CIA and their relation to Cuba and Oswald, and now John Newman is doing just that.

Alan Dale's interview with John Newman:    JFK Lancer

Monday, February 27, 2017

Capt. Bradely Ayers - US Army Ranger 1935-2017

                             Bradley Ayers

Image result for Bradley ayers jfkImage result for Bradley Ayers books The War That Never Was

When I first picked up Bradley Ayers' book "The War that Never Was" in the pivotal summer of 1976 I knew that he had a lot of key secrets and could answer a lot of questions about the assassination of President Kennedy. So I wasn't surprised when he said the same thing. 

Then, decades later, I read some of what was left out of the "The War" in "The Zenith Secret," - a first hand account of the goings on at JMWAVE - the CIA's anti-Castro Cuban base in Florida. 

After tracking Ayers down to a remote lake cabin in Wisconsin, we had a few long telephone conversations, exchanged letters and clippings via snail mail, and eventually became friends after he got past his initial paranoia, - and he had a lot to be paranoid about. We both had a few things in common - we live on lakes, take in stray cats and dogs, have both worked training soldiers in the military and as street reporters. 

Ayers was a US Army Ranger Captain when he and another Ranger were cross assigned to the CIA on orders of Gen. Victor H. "Brute" Krulak, the Special Assistant for Counterinsurgency and Special Activities (SACSA) at the Pentagon. 

Krulak was a Marine but SACSA was a special joint operation that came under the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and he was responsible for the US military assistance to the CIA, especially Cuban covert operations. In May 1963 Ayers began training anti-Castro Cuban commandos in small arms and small craft operations, while the other Ranger Captain trained them in explosives and marksmanship. 

The Cuban commando teams Ayers trained included a team leader named Julio Fernandez, and they conducted raids against Cuban industrial targets, boat docks and oil terminals that they blew up and escaped in small motor boats that were launched from a larger mother ship, The Rex. Ayers even gives an account of his experience aboard the Rex and a sample raid. 

These violent attacks against Cuban industrial targets were officially approved by the CIA and the Special Group (Augmented with RFK) of the National Security Council (NSC). 

The details Ayers provides include the Germans and those from the Berlin desk that William Harvey had brought in and were still around, including the secretaries, like Maggie, secretary of Gordon Shanklin, the JMWAVE chief, who had previously worked as William Harvey's secretary at Task Force W (in the CIA HQ basemen) and before that in Berlin.

Ayers tells us about Gordon Campbell, his boss as head of the Maritime Section, David Morales and John Rosselli - "Colonel Rosselli," who had his own team of commandos.

Ayers also recounts how RFK himself visited a JMWAVE safehouse on a golf course, where he mingled with JMWAVE case officers, and then a helicopter visit by RFK to a remote commando base in the Everglades, where RFK personally met some of the commandos who were attacking or infiltrating Cuba.

I checked out much of what Bradley Ayers said and what I could check out did, but I knew that what he was saying was going to get him into trouble. That's why I was glad he was holed up in a Wisconsi cabin.

Then it happened. Another journalist hot on a story about the RFK murder got to Ayers, and showed him a photo of some people at the Ambassador Hotel at the time of the shooting, and Ayers and another respectable and reliable source - Wayne Smith, both identified two men they knew from JMWAVE - David Morales and Gordon Campbell.

While I recognized that none of the photo evidence has ever been positive of anything, if true it was sensational, and two reputable journalists - David Talbot and Jeff Morley got a magazine assignment to track it down, and they did. They discovered Gordon Campbell had died in 1962 and presented an authorized death certificate.

This of course, went against the grain of what Bradley Ayers said and wrote about - that Gordon Campbell was head of JMWAVE Maritime operations and was his superior in the training of the Cuban commandos, was alive at the time of JFK's assassination, and was responsible for the winding down and closing of the JMWAVE base in 1964.

Then I found another Gordon Campbell who had the same former Navy, maritime background who did live a lot longer, so maybe there were two different men with the same name, or maybe, as Ayers explains in the strange death of Campbell's assistant and outside man - a German operative who fell out of a helicopter, these guys supervised their own deaths and then moved on to other covert ops somewhere else in the world.

In any case, I have found Bradley Ayers' story credible, and even the most outlandish aspects of it fit into the Dealey Plaza scenario: a team of anti-Castro Cuban commandos, paid by the CIA and trained at JMWAVE to kill Castro, turn around and kill JFK at Dealey Plaza using the same plan they had intended to use against Castro.

While we have seen this scenario as a distinct probability from an historical and strategic standpoint, Bradley Ayers provides the first hand detailed descriptions that fill in the blanks and missing pieces of the puzzle. And they are the most colorful pieces on the board.

God Bless Bradley Ayers.

- Bill Kelly - Feb. 27, 2017

Published February 20, 2017 at 12:45 pm
Stillwater Gazette, MN
Bradley E. Ayers, age 81, of Frederic, Wisconsin, passed away on Friday, February 10, 2017 at his cabin home on Somers Lake.
Born in St. Paul, Minnesota on March 7, 1935, he was the son of Earl and Josephine Ayers. He was raised in Stillwater, Minnesota and graduated from Stillwater High School in 1953, where he was a three sport letterman. During high school, Bradley worked for the Stillwater Gazette as a reporter.
Following graduation, he enlisted in the U.S. Army. He served as an Airborne Ranger and was promoted through the ranks from private to captain. In early 1963, he was temporarily assigned to the CIA to train anti-Castro exiles in South Florida. He was honorably discharged from the Army in 1964. He graduated from Metro State University in 1976 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in individualized studies.
Over the course of his lifetime, Bradley had a fascinating and varied career. During the 1980s, he worked as an undercover operative with the DEA’s South Florida Task Force. He also worked as a licensed commercial pilot and flight instructor, a private investigator, a real estate broker and journalist. He published two books: “The War that Never Was” and “Zenith Secret,” and wrote a number of articles on a variety of topics for local and national publications.
He loved adventure (making his 301st parachute jump at age 79), was an avid environmentalist and always made a home for stray cats and dogs.
Bradley was preceded in death by his parents, his brother, David Ayers and nephew, Doug Ayers.
He is survived by his brothers, Mike and Joe, sons Dan, Brad and Steven, and several grandchildren, great grandchildren and nieces and nephews.
Bradley’s life will be celebrated on Thursday, February 23, 2017, at 12:30 p.m., with visitation from 12-12:30 p.m. at Ft. Snelling Memorial Chapel in St. Paul. Interment will follow at 1:30 p.m. at Ft. Snelling National Cemetery. Arrangements were entrusted to Swedberg-Taylor Funeral Home, Webster, WI. Online condolences can be made at

Spartacus: Bradley Ayers

Re: Gordon Campbell and Vox Pop: Ayers_Sworn_Statement_8-6-07.pdf

Image result for Bradley Ayers books The War That Never WasImage result for Bradley Ayers books The War That Never WasImage result for Bradley Ayers books The War That Never Was

Under a CIA letterhead dated 3 August 2005: 

“….According to our records, (Capt. Bradley Ayers) was detailed (From US Army Rangers) to work with the CIA (training Cubans commandos at JMWAVE) from May of 1963 to December 1964. Because he never was an Agency employee and, as such, never signed a prepublication agreement with us – any suggestion that the CIA tried to censor or suppress his writings is incorrect…”
The War that Never Was - An insider's account of CIA covert operations against Cuba Hardcover – (Bobbs-Merrill, 1976)

Employees of the CIA have never been allowed to publish uncensored accounts of their activities. But Bradley Earl Ayers was never in the CIA. As a Regular Army officer, he was attached to the CIA on orders, and consequently was never required to sign a secrecy agreement. This is Captain Ayers's account of his top secret assignment to the CIA, training anti- Castro guerrilla fighters at hidden bases in the Caribbean and leading them on raids into Cuba. Ayers tells how he was chosen by the Pentagon in 1963 for his background in commando operations, then turned over to the CIA for indoctrination as an undercover operative. Ayers describes the chaotic condition of the CIA Cuban paramilitary training effort and tells of the steps that were taken to reorganize and revitalize the program. He found the men he was training highly dedicated but totally inexperienced. Under almost intolerable physical conditions, and with inadequate equipment and inferior weapons, they conducted raids against specific targets in Cuba, working from secret bases in the Florida Everglades and the Bahamas. Ayers accompanied them. There were speeding boats in the darkness, clandestine rendezvous on the high seas and in steaming subtropic jungles. And there was violent death.

Ultimately, he became emotionally involved in the cause of the Cuban "freedom fighters." But after the assassination of President Kennedy, the program began to lose impetus. Increasingly, Washington favored a policy of neutrality in Cuban affairs. Disagreement with this new passivity, and loyalty to the original ideas on which the mission was based, forced Ayers to reach a radical decision: to leave the CIA mission and resign from the Army. That he did so is a measure of his profound disillusionment with official policy and a testament to his singular and abiding loyalty. With Cuba back in the headlines today this book is especially timely, affording the reader a historical perspective not available anywhere else.

                         Brad Ayers - Bobbs-Merrill - William Harvey 

“…As Bill and CG established a new life in Indiana, Sally Harvey grew into her teenage years. Today she recalls, “Bill found the job editing law decisions for Bobbs-Merrill drudgery! He needed stimulation – a challenge. And he didn’t have that in Indianapolis…There was no one here for him to connect with.”  - Bayard Stockton - (Flawed Patriot, 2008)

- Flawed Patriot was written by a former CIA agent who had the CIA officially approve the book, and then died of natural causes before the book was published. The photo section of the Flawed Patriot contains William Harvey’s Bobbs-Merrill Photo ID.

BK Notes: So William Harvey is replaced at Task Force W by Desmond FitzGerald - who briefs the Joint Chiefs on CIA Covert Ops against Cuba and meets with Rolando Cubella to get him to kill Castro. Harvey is assigned to Rome, but some of his operations were kept going under FitzGerald, and Harvey retains his friendship with John Rosselli. After leaving the CIA William Harvey gets a job as legal counsel to book publisher Bobbs-Merrill, Bradley Ayers' publisher of "The War that Never Was," and the names and identities of key players are changed or removed, including that of Gordon Campbell, the head of Maritime operations - responsible for depositing infiltrating assassins in Cuba. And Bobbs-Merrill had an office and employees in the Texas School Book Depository. 

Bradley Ayers, in The Zenith Secret (VoxPop, 2006, p. 175) wrote: “…only the Bobbs-Merrell Company of New York and Indianapolis was interested (the book about JM/WAVE - The War that Never Was). In 1973, the manuscript was under review by the managing editor, Tom Gervasi. Unbeknownst to me was that upon retirement from the CIA, Bill Harvey went to work for Bobbs-Merrell. Apparently, my manuscript was intercepted and the book’s contents carefully reviewed by the agency and some of its entities. For the next two and a half years, I made revisions and rewrites of the manuscript at the suggestion of Gervasi. The pattern was one of whittling away at those parts that were the most sensitive or potentially embarrassing to the agency. Gervasi explained that Bobbs-Merrill could not accept the libel risks that portions of the book presented. One of the requirements set by Gervasi was that I change all the names of major figures. Also excised was text on David Morales, Rosselli, (and Gordon Campbell), the use of toxic chemical agents against Cuba, Karl’s death, and Ferrie’s presence at JMWAVE. By 1974 I was beaten down trying to make a living and hold my life together. With my marriage to Lee falling apart, I agreed to what Gervasi asked. After all that it had cost, just getting the book into print was better than no book at all… Bobbs-Merrill’s interest in promoting The War That Never Was diminished, and it was left to me to arrange publicity for the book on my own….Now, as I was doing my best to promote The War That Never Was, in an effort to bring the JMWAVE perspective to public attention, Rosselli disappeared…In August, his body was found in a steel drum, floating in a Florida canal…Baffled by Bobbs-Merrill’s handling of my book, and now reconsidering what I’d agreed to in the ‘editing’ process, I pondered why the publisher went ahead with the contract and book in the first place. My contemplation led me in a rather sinister direction…My eyewitness account of the Kennedy White House Special Group having authorized and micromanaged JMWAVE covert paramilitary operations put the CIA in a different light. Attorney General Robert Kennedy’s presence at JMWAVE on two occasions that I observed in 1963 flew in the face of the notion the CIA was engaged in unauthorized activities. Kennedy’s presence showed that the agencies activities were fully sanctioned by the White House.” 

Bayard Stockton in Flawed Patriot: 

"Dan Hardway, was a first year law school student when he joined HSCA in July 1977,…Hardway readily admitted he was gunning for Harvey from the get-go. “…Harvey was a natural suspect. He had the assassination teams. He was in charge of JMWAVE. I was convinced that Bill Harvey was involved in the assassination. I wanted to investigate Harvey vigorously…I was determined to prove his complicity in the assassination, if I could. … We had operational action information… operational criteria which didn’t fit into the rules of evidence but, I thought, were enough to make probable cause.”

Hardway now says,…”It was an active disinformation operation. [The CIA] moved so fast after the assassination (it) must have been planned in advance.” Suddenly, the scent he had been following so avidly dissipated when the Agency simply shut down Hardway’s access to documents of the time…The key to the sudden shutdown was the CIA liaison officer who had at first been so forthcoming to the young investigators but then stonewalled them. The officer’s name was George Joannides."