Monday, August 25, 2014

1964 Democratic National Convention - Atlantic City N.J.

The 1964 Democratic National Convention - A Half-Century Later Atlantic City Finds Itself in a Similar Situation 

– By William Kelly

The 1964 Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City – 50 Years Ago, that took place from August 24-27th, was an historic watershed event for the island resort – a crossroads that led to the revitalization of the city – and it could be a cautionary tale as Atlantic City reaches another, similar crossroads, where it must once again reinvent itself.

That such a convention could be held on the boardwalk at all was the vision of Nucky Johnson, who was a driving force behind the construction of the Convention Hall – now Boardwalk Hall – which opened in 1929, the same year that he was the host for the first major meeting of mob bosses from around the country.

                                       Nucky Johnson - Had the Boardwalk Hall Built in 1929

Some of them were business partners with Joe Kennedy, Sr., who held major ownership interests in major Canadian and European whiskey distillers, and didn’t mind doing business with the bootleggers during prohibition. Kennedy also held hidden interest in the Cal-Neva Lodge that startled the border between California and Nevada, with a casino on the Nevada side, which was purchased by Giancana and Sinatra, who brought in Atlantic City’s Skinny D’Amato as the manager.

In 1960 Joe Kennedy touched base once again with Sam Giancana, the mob boss who controlled the rackets in Chicago, Las Vegas and California, and got him to support his son Jack’s 1960 bid to be elected president of the United States.

Giancana’s good friends Frank Sinatra and Skinny D’Amato were quick to oblige, Sinatra contributing the campaign theme song “High Hopes,” and he introduced JFK to Judith Campbell Exner, who served as a mistress and courier between Kennedy and Giancana.

Skinny D’Amato and Camden attorney Angelo Malandra took suitcases full of cash to West Virginia that was liberally distributed to Skinny’s friends in the West Virginia Sheriff’s Association, who counted the votes and often visited his 500 Club when they had their annual convention in Atlantic City.

One of Kennedy’s last hurdles to being nominated as the Democratic candidate at the 1960 Convention in Los Angeles was the West Virginia primary, where the Irish Catholic Kennedy was up against Hubert Humphrey, a protestant, so that became the major issue of the primary, which Kennedy won and dispelling that as an issue.

                                          Skinny D'Amato and JFK during the 1960 Campaign 

A couple of major decisions were made at the 1960 Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles, including the addition of Lyndon Baines Johnson to the ticket as the Vice Presidential candidate, said to be done on the advice of Joe Kennedy, and naming Atlantic City as the site of the 1964 Democratic Convention, which some said was a payback to D’Amato and Sinatra for their support during the primaries.

Actually H. Hap Farley was the primary mover behind bringing the 1964 Democratic Convention to Atlantic City. As the political boss who took over after Nucky Johnson went to prison, Farley is best known for having the Atlantic City Expressway built, but he also lobbied extensively to bring both the Republican and Democratic Conventions to the boardwalk, but succeeded, despite being a staunch Republican, of only enticing the Democrats.

After winning the nomination and then the election, President Kennedy asked Sinatra to arrange for the entertainment for the Inaugural Balls, which he did, and Sinatra was looking forward to organizing a similar party for Kennedy in Atlantic City when Kennedy would be renominated for his second term at the 1964 Convention.

But then things went terribly wrong.

Kennedy appointed his younger brother Robert F. Kennedy as Attorney General and RFK targeted the mob bosses as part of a war against organized crime, and he singled out Sam Giancana, New Orleans don Carlos Marcello and Santo Traficante, of Tampa, Florida, despite their assistance in getting JFK elected and working closely with the CIA in trying to assassinate Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.

When J. Edgar Hover, the head of the FBI told RFK the attorney general that his brother the president was receiving phone calls and visits at the White House from Judy Campbell Exner, the mob moll who was also in bed with both Sinatra and Giancana, the president cut off his contacts with Giancana and began to distance himself from both Exner and Sinatra.  

Then, rather than Castro being assassinated, JFK was shot and killed while riding in an open car through the streets of Dallas, and instead of JFK being renominated for a second term, LBJ was the president who was nominated to be the Democratic candidate at the 1964 convention on the boardwalk in Atlantic City.

                           Protesters On the Boardwalk outside Convention Hall during the Convention 

After the resolution of who would represent the racially divided Mississippi delegation, the three biggest questions going into Atlantic City in August 1964 were who would be the Vice Presidential nominee, what was the still unreleased Warren Report on the assassination of President Kennedy going to say, and what was Robert Kennedy going to do?

No one knew who the Vice Presidential nominee would be until LBJ invited liberal Minnesota Senator Hubert Humphrey to accompany him on the flight to Atlantic City. Humphrey, who Kennedy defeated in the West Virginia primary, had presidential ambitions himself, but would do LBJ’s bidding, and sold his soul to resolve the Mississippi issue.

As for the Warren Commission Report, LBJ knew what was ready to go to press, and that it would conclude that JFK was killed by Lee Harvey Oswald, a deranged loner, and there was no conspiracy, so that only left one big question – what was RFK going to do?

LBJ later said that from the moment JFK was murdered, he felt that RFK didn’t think he deserved to be president, and Johnson considered the possibility that RFK would try to lead a revolt at the Convention and attempt to hijack the nomination from him. If the convention atmosphere presented the opportunity, RFK’s name could have been introduced, and if LBJ didn’t win on the first ballet, anything could happen.

In order to avert this possibility, President Johnson took some unprecedented steps. As Kennedy family historian Arthur Schlesinger wrote, “The tribute to the fallen President was originally scheduled for Tuesday night. Johnson had it moved back to Thursday, by which time the nomination would be completed. He took other precautions, the most extraordinary of which was to send Cartha DeLoach and and FBI team of thirty snoops and wire tappers to Atlantic City. The ostensible purpose was to gather intelligence ‘concerning matters of strife, violence, etc. The real purpose, according to William Sullivan of the FBI, was to gather political information useful to President Johnson, particularly bottling up Robert Kennedy – that is reporting on the activities of Robert Kennedy.”

LBJ also thought that Robert Kennedy would try to wire tap his boardwalk hotel room, so he secretly moved to a more secure location – the nearby Margate beach house of Carroll Rosenbloom, the owner of the Baltimore Colts football team. Rosenbloom, a gambler, was partners with Mike McLaney in the purchase of the Hotel Nacional casino in Havana from Meyer Lansky a few months before Castro took over, and they lost their investment. Rosenbloom hoped, with LBJ in the White House, he might get his hotel and casino back, but knowing what happened to his predecessor, LBJ didn't want to have anything to do with Cuba or Castro. LBJ was confident that at he was more secure at Rosenbloom's house than anywhere on Absecon Island, and the amenities were better. 

As for Atlantic City's image, the convention backfired as the thousands of delegates and media reporters from around the world complained of the shoddy accommodations as the boardwalk hotels that were first class facilities in the 1920s and 30s were now run down, so the plumbing and electricity didn't always work and the media reports gave the resort a black eye that hurt until casino gambling legislation was approved over a decade later. Convention Hall however, had been upgraded and was air conditioned and comfortable when the climax of the proceedings finally came on the last day of the convention.  

When RFK joined his family and the other dignitaries on stage, Jackie Kennedy handed him a note.

As Schlesinger relates, “Finally Senator Henry Jackson, who was presiding, motioned him (RFK) to the rostrum. When Scoop introduced him, it hit, I mean it really hit, it just went on and on. I stood on the floor in the midst of the thunderous ovation. I had never seen anything like it. Ordinarily an organ in the background controls the pandemonium of a convention. This time they stopped the organ after a moment or so. But the demonstration roared on, reaching a new intensity every time that Robert Kennedy, standing with a wistful half-smile on his face, tried to bring it to an end. As Kennedy once more raised his hand to still the uproar, Jackson whispered to him, ‘Let it go on, just let them do it Bob, let them get it out of their system.’ He repressed his tears. Many of the audience did not. He seemed slight, almost frail, as the crowd screamed itself hoarse. It went on for twenty-two minutes. Finally he began to speak. At the end, the quotation: ‘When he shall die, take him and cut him out in little stars, and he will make the face of heaven so fine, that all the world will be in love with night, and pay no worship to the garish sun.’”

Bobby Kennedy Convention Speech About John F. Kennedy 1964 ElectionWallDotOrg - YouTube

These words, from Romeo and Juliet, were handed to him by Jackie, and preceded a short film about the life of John F. Kennedy, who would have certainly been renominated for a second term if fate and destiny did not intervene.

To commemorate the occasion, the city of Atlantic City named the plaza in front of the hall “Kennedy Plaza,” and a bust of JFK by renown sculpture Evangelos Frudakis was unveiled, a bust that is now partially hidden behind a stage where summer concerts are held.

Though young people today know Kennedy Plaza as the scene of free concerts and a nightly lightshow, the statute that stands there remains the last vestige of another era and a reminder of what might have been if Kennedy had lived to serve a second term.

William Kelly is a freelance writer and regional historian from Browns Mills, N.J. He can be reached at

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Garrison and the Still Secret Assassination Files - Followup

Jim Garrison and the Still-Secret JFK Assassination Files

Bill Kelly

In regards to Jim Garrison requesting his son to be at the National Archives when the government finally gets around to releasing the still secret records on the assassination, I tried to discover what records remain sealed, but there are so many they can’t tell us how many there are.

I did learn however, that most of the documents that Garrison specifically referred to have already been released, and what remains withheld should be released to the public in late September 2017, unless the President orders otherwise.

In 1996 Garby F. Leon asked the NARA about the status of these records and intimidated that he was going to mention them during a Assassinations Records Review Board (ARRB) hearing, but he is not listed among those who testified at the public hearings, but he did correspond with them. [ARRB files ]

Besides having a unique name, Garby Leon was an interesting person, with a doctorate in music from Harvard, he was a Fox film producer whose helped develop the Matrix, and recently passed away [obit ].

Many thanks to Rex Bradford at for making these documents and other significant records available, and I have added the relevant links.


On April 9, 1996 Martha Murphy of the NARA responded to the inquiry from Garby Leon and wrote:

“This is in response to your e-mailed request for information regarding
the status of Warren Commission Documents. The income tax forms of Ruth and Michael Paine CD 713 and CD 848 have been withheld for privacy and are referred to the Internal Revenue Service for review. These documents are not security classified, as would be suggested by the description of them as ‘secret’ in the book ‘On the Trail of the Assassins.’”

Garby Leon commented: “But they're fudging a bit, because the Paine's tax information, are also 'referred' to the IRS, hence unavailable.  I was amused at how testy the archivist's response was to my quote from Garrison...”

And I agree, whether they are being withheld for reasons of national security or personal privacy reasons, they are sealed from the public and are therefore still ‘secret.’

CD 218 - relating to Michael Paine LALC Los Angeles Local Correspondence
CD 258 - relating to Michael Paine
CD 508 - relating to Michael Paine's sister
CD 600 through CD 629, regarding relatives of Michael Paine.

Of the 51 documents you listed in your letter, three
are still withheld pending review by another agency,

10 CDs are released in part, with information redacted on some pages.  All of the other 38 CDs listed in your letter have been released in full. 

(Files relating to Oswald):

CD 321 - Chronology of Oswald in USSR (Secret)
CD 347 - Activity of Oswald in Mexico City (Secret)
CD 384 - Activity of Oswald in Mexico City

CD 384 “ACCESS RESTRICTED – The item identified below has been withdrawn from this file: File Designation CD 384...In the review of this file this item was removed because access to it is restricted. Restrictions on records in the National Archives are stated in general and specific record group restriction statements which are available for examination. The item identification above has been withdrawn because it contains: X Security – Classified Information

CD 528 - re: Allegation Oswald interviewed by CIA in Mexico City
CD 631 - re: CIA dissemination of information on Oswald
CD 674 - Info given to the Secret Service but not yet to the WC
CD 692 - Reproduction of CIA official dossier on Oswald
CD 698 - Reports of travel and activities of Oswald & Marina
CD 871 - Photos of Oswald in Russia (Secret)
CD 931 - Oswald's access to information about the U-2 (Secret)
CD 943, "Allegations of Pfc. Eugene Dinkin re Assassination Plot"
CD 971, "Calls to U.S. Embassy, Canberra,… re:Planned Assassination."
CD 1216 - Memo from Helms entitled "Lee Harvey Oswald" (Secret)
CD 1222 - Statements by George de Mohrenschildt re: assassination
CD 1273 - Helms re:inconsistencies in info provided by CIA(Secret)
CD 1551, "Conversations Between Cuban President and Ambassador";

Garb Leon: “In sum, 15 of the 51 Warren Commission items which Garrison wanted to see are still secret, or redacted. That's roughly 30% secrecy maintained, a third of a century later. A question I have: has the ARRB reviewed the 'redactions' these documents are 'released' with? Finally, if I have the opportunity, I intend to ask the ARRB board members if Garrison's wish-list will be fulfilled - or not. This would seem only the very most basic starting point for the release of government documents, pursuant to the ARRB's mandate.  And, a good benchmark for testing how good the USG's word is on their promise to fulfill the intent of the law.”

October 24, 2017 –it’s a Tuesday. Mark it on your calendar – as that’s the day that one of two things will happen.
Either the AOTUS – Archivist of the United States will announce to the President, Congress and the American people that the last government record on the assassination of President Kennedy has been released to the public or the POTUS – the President of the United States – whoever is elected in the next election, will announce that he/she has agreed with the requests by agencies of government and will continue to withhold certain records for reasons of national security.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Jim Garrison and the Still Secret JFK Assassination Files

Jim Garrison and the Still Secret JFK Files – Bill Kelly

When it was suggested that a conference be held in New Orleans on the 2017 anniversary of the Garrison investigation into the New Orleans aspects of the assassination, I thought New Orleans a great place to hold a conference, as I look forward to visiting all of the French Quarter bars that are mentioned in Garrison’s book “On the Trail of the Assassins,” some of which are featured in Oliver Stone’s JFK movie, which is based in part on that book.

There’s Tortorich’s on Royal Street, where Garrison watched the breaking news of the assassination on TV, the Katzenjammer Bar on Camp Street where Guy Bannister and Jack Martin got drunk at the same time, the Bourbon House at Bourbon and St. Peter Streets where Barbara Reid sat down with ex-marine buddies Kerry Thornley and Lee Oswald over burgers and beers, Ryder’s Coffee House at Vieux Carre where Thornley hung out, Broussard’s Restaurant where Garrison had lunch with Dean Andrews, Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop where Garrison investigated the background of “Clem Bertrand,” Cosimo’s on Burgandy Street where “Bertrnad” was identified as Clay Shaw, the Masquerade Bar on St. Louis Street where Shaw was known by the “Bertram” alias, and the Absinthe House, where Shaw and David Ferrie were seen together. I was in New Orleans when Stone was filming JFK and visited some of these haunts, but the Habana Bar, where Oswald was also known to drink lemonade with the Cubans, is no longer there.

The suggested date of a New Orleans conference – 2017, I noted, is also when, according to the JFK Act of 1992, the still-sealed government records on the assassination are scheduled to be released, and I recalled Garrison saying he asked his son to be there when the secret records are released.

In response, Don Carpenter wrote: “Bill, Just to add a little context, Garrison died in Fall of 1992, before ARRB even began to crank up its very basic operations. Garrison may have made the statement about all the still-sealed documents as of 1992, or probably years before when he made the statement (probably in the 1967-69 period), but most of whatever he was talking about has already been released. He was not talking specifically about what is left to be declassified, although I think we all are anxious to see if there is anything in there.”

Carpenter also said that he didn’t think “Garrison was on to something,” though he is willing to be persuaded otherwise.

Well I don’t think that the New Orleans crew that Garrison “was on to” – the same Yahoos who carried out the Houma Bunker raid [], could have successfully pulled off the relatively complex Dealey Plaza covert operation, which included the framing of Oswald, a professional Level One sniper taking the head shot, a Northwoods-type disinformation twist to blame Castro and the officially sanctioned cover-up that continues today. That’s a very sophisticated operation, one well planned out in advance and not one that some New Orleans Yahoos or the Mafia could have successfully pulled off. The Dealey Plaza operation was successfully conducted by a domestic anti-Communist intelligence network closely affiliated with the military-industrial complex that continues to function today.

And I think that what Garrison was “on to,” wasn’t the Bannister, Ferrie, Clay Shaw and the Yahoos, but rather Garrison eventually realized was that Kennedy wasn’t killed by a deranged lone nut, or even by the New Orleans contingent he tried to prosecute – but what happened at Dealey Plaza was a covert coup conducted by JFK’s rich and powerful enemies in Washington who were beyond his jurisdiction.

You can argue over whether Garrison was “on to something” or not, but what he says rings true –
“More than anything,” Garrison wrote, “what has changed in the years since President Kennedy’s assassination is our national consciousness. We have been through so much. There were, for example, the assassinations of Medgar Evers, MLK, RFK and Malcolm X. There were assassination attempts on presidential candidate George Wallace and presidents Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan. We lived through nine horrifying years of the Vietnam War, the trauma of Watergate, the revelations during the 1970s about the CIA, and more recently the Iran/contra affair. This extraordinary succession of events has ended our innocence. Looking back today with new information and new insights, it is possible to put together an informed historical speculation of what happened to President Kennedy and why. I believe that what happened at Dealey Plaza in Dallas on November 22, 1963 was a coup d’etat. I believe that it was instigated and planned long in advance by fanatical anticommunists in the U.S. intelligence community, that it was carried out, most likely without official approval, by individuals in the C.I.A.’s covert operations apparatus and other extra-governmental collaborators, and covered up by like-minded individuals in the F.B.I., the Secret Service, the Dallas Police Department, and the military, and that its purpose was to stop Kennedy from seeking détente with the Soviet Union and Cuba and ending the Cold War.”

“This coup d‘etat had accomplished its objective with clock-work precision. The life had been ripped from the chief executive of the United States government, and major changes in American foreign policy would be arriving not in months or weeks, but in the next several days. Meanwhile, the cover-up was progressing…As soon as the non-participating elements in the intelligence community saw that a coup d’etat had occurred, they moved quickly to support the official story. Motivated in some instances by self-preservation and in others by a belief that Kennedy  had brought the assassination on himself by compromising too often with the Soviets, the remainder of the government – from high elected officials to heads of departments and agencies – lined up to add their solemn voices to the growing chorus chanting the great lie.”

“With the murder plainly unsolved, a succession of Presidents and attorneys general, each with the resources of the F.B.I. and the entire federal government at their command, made no effort to get to the truth. …dissemination of disinformation is the last element necessary for a successful coup d’etat, and it also happens to be one of the specialties of the C.I.A. For many years the Agency secretly had on its payroll journalists ostensibly working for the major media but in fact disseminating propaganda for consumption by the American people…”

“The original false sponsor was the scapegoat himself, Lee Harvey Oswald…formally endorsed by the Warren Commission…However, over time it became increasingly apparent that the lone assassin fairy tale had fallen apart, and most of its supporters simply fell silent…One of the most intriguing false sponsors is Fidel Castro…Of course, the primary and most lasting false sponsor has been organized crime, the Mafia, the mob….Upon close examination,…the false sponsors all fall of their own weight. What remains as the only likely sponsor with both the motive and the capability of murdering the President is the covert action arm of the Central Intelligence Agency. Invisible as it is dangerous, the covert operations apparatus of the C.I.A. has become the most powerful element in the intelligence community….Is all of this possible? It might not have seemed so 25 years ago. However, now that we know some of the true history of the C.I.A. and its covert operations, the answer is a distinct yes. Assassination is precisely what the Agency knows how to do and what it has done all over the world for policy ends.”

“With the passage of time, we can see the enduring results of President Kennedy’s assassination…The Justice Department, knowing all that we know now, still refuses to conduct an honest investigation intot he most important political assassination of our time….It may be too late. However it is not too late for us to learn the lessons of history, to understand where we are now and who runs this country…”

From “On the Trail of the Assassins” (Chapter 20, The Secret Sponsors, p. 320-347)

While I disagree with Garrison in that the C.I.A.’s covert operational branch was the only intelligence network capable of such covert operations – the military is also proficient at such tactics, recognizing the assassination as a coup d’etat and the Modus Operandi of the murder as that of a covert intelligence operation are significant steps in figuring out what really happened and determining the truth.

And what Garrison says about the sealed government files is pertinent and significant, and I quickly found the correct quote thanks to Dave Reitzes, who also thought important enough to quote and try to denigrate when wrote “The JFK 100 – Suppressed Investigative Files”, where he refers to the part of Oliver Stone’s JFK film where Garrison mentions the secret files. Reitzes specifically quotes the part I was referring to when New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison (Kevin Costner) delivers a monologue about evidence being concealed by the federal government: 

           “Let’s ask the two men who have profited the most from the assassination – your former President Lyndon Baines Johnson and your new President, Richard Nixon – to release 51 CIA documents pertaining to Lee Oswald and Jack Ruby, or the secret CIA memo on Oswald’s activities in Russia that was ‘destroyed’ while being photocopied. All these documents are yours – the people’s property – you pay for it, because the government considers you children who might be too disturbed to face this reality, because you might lynch those involved, you cannot see these documents for another 75 years. I’m in my 40s, so I’ll have shuffled off this moral coil by then, telling my 8-year old son to keep himself physically fit so that one glorious September morning in 2038 he can walk into the National Archives and find out what the CIA and FBI knew. They may even push it back then. It may become a generational affair with questions passed down from father to son, mother to daughter, in the manner of the ancient runic bards. Someday, somewhere, someone might find out the damned Truth. Or we might just build ourselves a new Government like the Declaration of Independence says we should do when the old one ain’t working....” (1)  Oliver Stone and Zachary Sklar, JFK: The Book of the Film (New York, Applause, 1992), p. 178.

Rather than pushing the release date back, as Garrison surmises, public pressure generated by Stone’s filim made them move it forward, so the 75 years the Warren Commission records were sealed, and the 50 years the HSCA records were sealed, have been superseded by the JFK Act of 1992 that stipulates all the records be released by 2017 – or withheld only by an order from the president, whoever she may be.
So Garrison’s son doesn’t have to wait as long as Big Jim thought.

And I like Garrison’s suggestion that we ask the President to release the still secret records, something Obama can easily do with a simple Executive Order.

In his article Reitzes asks, “Has the government really been withholding evidence of conspiracy?”
And the answer clearly is yes, even if one sticks only to the Warren Commission era records Garrison was talking about – and I will only mention three – the document that the Warren Commission lawyer was reading when he was recorded as saying: “We’ll have to find out what Oswald studied at the Monterey Institute” (now the Defense Language Institute), and the ONI and USMC investigative records and reports, but there are others.

Reitzes is a one-time Conspiracy Theorist who is now a Lone Nutter, and like many religious converts, he is a true believer who quotes Gus Russo and John McAdams.  And I take exception to John McAdams’ statements about Garrison, specifically the comparison of Garrison’s reference to “51 CIA documents pertaining to Oswald and Jack Ruby” and Joe McCarthy’s bogus communists in the State Department, as McCarthy’s number was made up and the communists boogey men didn’t really exist, while the secret records Garrison refers to do exist, and in fact he lists some of them. Rather than Joe McCarthy, Garrison’s role in the Kennedy assassination is more comparable to the cases of Sacco and Vanzetti or the Dreyfus Affair, in which the truth eventually emerges over time, as it is with the assassination of President Kennedy.
Reitzes also quotes McAdams’ examples of the NARA declassification of other government records, specifically those of the Fish and Game Commission, but I wonder if Reitzes, McAdams or any JFK researcher has investigated the presence of Texas Fish and Game officers in the Texas School Book Depository within minutes of the assassination, and whether or not any of them testified or wrote reports of what they were doing and what they discovered there?

                                             SOMETHING FISHY IN THE FILES

As for Garrison’s references to the secret records, in his books Heritage of Stone and On the Trail of the Assassins (p. 54-55), Garrison lists a series of Warren Commission documents that were still sealed away from public view when he wrote those books, including:
CD 321 Chronology of Oswald in USSR (Secret)
CD 347 Activity of Oswald in Mexico City (Secret)
CD 384 Activity of Oswald in Mexico City (Secret)
CD 528 re: Allegations Oswald interviewed by CIA in Mexico City (Secret)
CD 631 re: CIA Dissemination of information on Oswald (Secret)
CD 674 info given to the Secret Service but not yet to the Warren Commission (Secret)
CD 698 Reports of travel and activities of Oswald & Marina (Secret)
CD 871 Photos of Oswald in Russia (Secret)
CD 931 Oswald’s access to information about the U2 (Secret)
CD 1216 Memo from Helms entitled “Lee Harvey Oswald” (Secret)
CD 1222 Statement by George de Mohrenschildt re: assassination (Secret)
CD 1273 Memo from Helms re: apparent inconsistencies in info provided by CIA (Secret)

Garrison also writes (On the Trail of the Assassins, p. 72) that, “As a routine matter, I wanted to examine the income tax records of Ruth and Michael Paine, but I was told that they had been classified secret. In addition to the Paine’s income tax reports, Commission documents 212, relating to Ruth Paine, and 218, relating to Michael Paine, also had been classified as secret on the grounds of national security. Classified for the same reason were Commission documents 258, relating to Michael, and 508, relating to Michael Paine’s sister, as well as Commission documents 600 through 629, regarding relatives of Michael Paine. What was so special about this particular family that made the federal government so protective of it?”

“This provocative listing,” Garrison wrote, “made it appear more to me than ever that something was fishy. Next I decided to focus on Oswald’s movements immediately after he left the Marines.”

Now I’m pretty sure some of these “secret” records have been released under the JFK Act, and will check with Mary Ferrell Archives and NARA to see if they are now available, but I too am interested in focusing on Oswald’s movements immediately after the assassination, which I will get to.

But first, it should be noted that Reitzes falsely answers his question “Has the government really been withholding evidence of conspiracy?” by quoting longtime researcher and JFK movie consultant Gus Russo, who says that the film he consulted on is “misleading,” and Russo has since been exposed as a witting CIA asset who continues to promote the discredited original operational cover story that Castro was behind the assassination.

Reitzes quotes Russo as saying that when he heard Stone talk about “the sinister sealing of the Warren Commission records for seventy-five years. I was stunned. Although that had been President Johnson’s original intention, public pressure had actually forced the release of most of the Commission’s records within three years of the 1963 murder.”

Actually, it wasn’t public pressure – like that generated by Stone’s film that resulted in the JFK Act, but many of the Warren Commission records were released because of the single letter from Cedar Rapids, Iowa mayor Johnson that led to the reversal of the seventy-five year policy.

A disgruntled Allen Dulles reluctant said, “Go ahead and release them, nobody will read them anyway.”
Russo relates in his book, how he “managed to pull Stone aside, and informed him that the records we investigators really coveted were the HSCA’s sealed files, numbering hundreds of thousands of pages, as well as those of other federal agencies whose holdings could be in the millions of pages….”

I was among those infuriated when HSCA chief counsel G. Robert Blakey declared the committee records “Congressional records,” which sealed them for fifty years and since Congress exempted itself from the FOIA Act, kept them from the public. Blakey did this while saying, “I’ll rest on the judgment of historians in fifty years.”

Indeed, “we investigators” weren’t going to rest on the judgment of historians in fifty years, and particularly coveted the House Select Committee (HSCA) records, and devised congressional legislation specifically to get the HSCA records exempted from the congressional rule that mandated all congressional records be sealed for fifty years.

When I asked Marion Johnson, the NARA archivist then responsible for the JFK assassination records, - why fifty years? Why not thirty five or seventy years?, Johnson replied “that is the estimated amount of time the people mentioned in the documents would be dead.”

So they time the release of these documents so that the people mentioned in them are dead and can’t be questioned.

But under public pressure sparked by the release of the JFK movie, which mentions the secret and sealed records at the end of the film, Congress passed a law that released not only the House Committee records we asked for, but all government records related to the assassination, which is much more than we had requested. That was still limiting though, as the HSCA MLK records remain sealed to this day.

But yes, we investigators coveted the HSCA records more than the Warren Commission documents, most of which have been released, but those that are still withheld are among the most sacred secret records that are still threatening to our national security today, over fifty years after the assassination.

Russo says that he conferred with respected Washington investigator, the late Kevin Walsh, who gave him a letter that “corroborated” what Russo had been saying, a letter Russo hand delivered to Stone – but not shared with us. And it is a shame on Russo that we can’t take his word for it.

BK Notes: Is Kevin Walsh’s letter to Oliver Stone about the still secret assassination records on the public record and available today? Someone sent me scans of dozens of letters written by Walsh, and I will check to see if that one is among them, but I don’t think it is.

And to show why the HSCA records are more valuable than the Warren Commission records I refer to the one HSCA document that I am working on at the moment, a once sealed document that indicates Lee Oswald, USMC flew to Europe on a Military Air Transport flight out of McGuire Air Force Base NJ in on his way to defect to the Soviet Union in October 1959, which contradicts the official version of events that he took a tramp steamer.

But incredibly enough, the records of that flight may still exist, and two of the people mentioned in the official congressional report may still be alive to confirm this story, over fifty years after it occurred.

In any case, the HSCA records are much more valuable than the Warren Commission records and the still secret Church Committee documents are probably even more enlightening, but we have to wait until 2017 to see them, and as Garrison says, when 2017 rolls around, their release may be pushed back even further by the sitting president.

Reitzes also quotes Michael R. McReynolds, of the NARA Textual Reference Division, who said that as of 1992, 98 percent of the Warren Commission records had been released.

Of course the 98 percent of the Warren Commission records released so far don’t include the Monterey Language Institute document or the ONI and USMC investigative reports we seek, and they are now saying the same thing about all of the government records released under the JFK Act - millions of them - 98 percent of all government records on the assassination are now in the public domain, but they don’t tell you that there are so many documents still being withheld that they can’t tell us how many there are.

“Since that time, of course,” Reitzes falsely writes, “some may have noticed that Oliver Stone hasn’t said a word about those files. That’s because they prove his JFK monologue to be little more than hot air, there were no documents withheld because they were ‘smoking guns’ proving the existence of a conspiracy.”

If Garrison’s monologue is little more than hot air, then Reitzes’ is hog’s breath, and only proves that he hasn’t bothered to read the documents released so far. Of course Stone has talked about those files – he testified before Congress about them [ ] and continues to talk about them [See: Stone at Wecht Conference]. Stone said he didn’t expect any “smoking gun” documents to be found, but instead thought that the existing records would be like the frame of a Mercedes Benz left on a street in Harlem for thirty years, stripped of all its value, which is exactly what we found.

And even though Reitzes is unaware of them, there certainly are “smoking” documents among the secret and once-sealed records that support, if not prove the fact there were criminal conspiracies committed – such as ONI Director Rufus Taylor’s November 27th memo.

It indicates there is a large and still missing ONI file on the assassination and Col. Higgins’ report of the September 24 1963 CIA briefing of the Joint Chiefs of Staff 

It confirms that the military was giving support to the CIA Cuban operations and that they were conducting a Valkyrie type plot aimed at Castro – one based on the German generals’ plan to kill Hitler, the specific operation that I believe was diverted to Dealey Plaza. 

Where there’s smoke there’s fire, not fish, and if they’ve released such smoking documents already, you can be sure the records still being withheld for reasons of national security will certainly threaten the very nature of the state.

As for Don Carpenter saying “we’re all anxious to see what’s there,” well we pretty much know what’s there, as we have all of the denials of requests for documents – such as the ONI Defector file, the documents on Ruth and Michael Paine, Collins Radio, Air Force One and not dozens, but hundreds of similar records that have been denied researchers since the passage of the JFK Act. 

So now I’m going to try to take Garrison’s advice and try to stay healthy so in late September 2017 I can stand with his son and if the president will let us, we will finally get to read some of the records that the government refuses to let us see today.

William Kelly is a freelance writer and historian, author of “300 Years at the Point” and “Birth of the Birdie,” co-founder of the Committee for an Open Archives (COA) and an original member of COPA – the Coalition On Political Assassinations [COPA | Coalition on Political Assassinations ]. He can be reached at

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Dueling DC Warren Report Conferences

Dueling DC Conferences

Two Warren Commission Conferences in DC this September – so far – more are expected.

By William E. Kelly, Jr. 

Sept.  24, 1964 - Earl Warren presents the Commission's Report to LBJ, who said,  "It's heavy." 

         Friday, September 26 - Saturday, September 27 - Sunday, September 28 2014

Just when we thought that the 50th anniversary of the JFK Assassination would put an end to the public interest in the subject, along comes the September 2014 anniversary of the release of the Warren Commission Report, which will surely drum up more media attention and revive the debates once again.

With the apparent end to JFK Lancer November in Dallas [] and annual COPA Dallas regional conferences [], but here we go again with two conferences on the Warren Report – 50 years later. 

Only the location has changed from Dallas to D.C. and rather than the assassination itself, the new focus will be on the continuing cover-up, which should make things relevant today and not just stale history.

The two conferences announced so far, and there may be more, were organized separately by different people without apparent knowledge of each other – the JFK Historical Group (JFKHG) and the Assassination Archives and Research Center (AARC).

These two conferences will be held at the same time in the same city a few miles apart by different people, but are joined at the hip by the distinguished Pittsburgh forensic examiner Dr. Cyril Wecht, who will serve as a keynote speaker at the JFKHG conference and a primary speaker at the other.  

                                                     JFK Historical Group Conference 

The first conference announced is being organized by the JFK Historical Group,  led by David Denton and Ed Tatro and called: “The Warren Report 50 Years Later: A Critical Examination - What we know now, that we didn’t know then,” and will be held at the Crowne Plaza East Hotel, Alexandria, VA. Their web site is at:

[Conference fee is $115 before August 1 - $125 thereafter and rooms are $119 single - $129 double per night plus Banquet and Keynote $53. David Denton, JFK Historical Group, 1305 Hall St., Olney, Il 62450]
David Denton is an Olney, Illinois history teacher who gave a 2013 JFK LANCER conference presentation [] on the topic of the significance of the 50th Anniversary of the assassination, and he organized an academic conference on the assassination at Olney Central (Illinois) College last fall.

Denton works closely with Ed F. Tatro, a long time Boston high school teacher and respected JFK researcher who testified before the ARRB  [ARRB Testimony of Edgar Tatro: served as a consultant to Nigel Turner’s TV documentaries “The Truth Shall Set You Free” and “The Men Who Killed Kennedy.”

Other than Dr. Wecht [], there seems to be only a few overlapping speakers - Russ Baker and Bill Simpich, so each conference should be pretty unique and appeal to a different audience, and if presentations at both conferences are properly streamed live over the internet, recorded and archived on line, as they should be, people can pick and chose which conference to attend and catch the online taped video of anything they missed.

Among those confirmed for the JFK Historical Group conference are a number of people I have worked closely with - Doug Horne, the Chief Analyst for Military Records for the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB) and author of the five volume “Inside the ARRB,”  [ /] and Russ Baker, a detail oriented researcher, journalist and Bush family biographer who is always digging and working on some significant newsworthy angle on history. [Russ Baker’s web site:]

Phil Nelson, author of “LBJ – Mastermind of JFK’s Assassination” [] is part of the continuing drumbeat of conspiracy theorists biased enough to believe LBJ was capable of “masterminding” the Dealey Plaza operation (See: Joe Green’s review at ). They nonetheless have a place at the JFKHG conference and I’m sure there will be others along shortly.

More important than those who espouse a conspiracy theory are the witness to history. A number of important witnesses are also on the JFKHG agenda including Gary Powers, Jr., the son of the U2 pilot [], James Wagenvoord - former Life Mag editor and whistleblower [], and Peter Janney, the son of a CIA officer who wrote a recent book on the murder of JFK paramour Mary Pinchot Meyer.[]. 

The JFKHG conference will also include Brian Edwards, who will talk about the 26 Volumes of Warren Commission Testimony and Exhibits that were published with the report, Russ Baker, who will talk about evidence of cover-up, Richard Bartholomew on the conflicts in the official accounts, Patrick Nelson, who will give his presentation on James Jesus Angleton, David Scheim on the Mob connections, and I am particularly looking forward to Casey Quinlan's talk on the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the time of the assassination. 

There’s also Rick Russo [], who was also a key consultant on the Nigel Turner documentary, and not to be confused with Gus Russo, the CIA-Disinformation asset, who continues to promote the original cover-story that Castro was behind the assassination , which will certainly be propagated by Frank Wisner’s Wurlitzer over this upcoming 50th anniversary Warren Commission media blitz. [Gus Russo’s Disinformation can be found at:]

Although confirmed to give a presentation, it’s sad to learn that former FBI agent Don Adams recently passed away, so he definitely won’t be there, but we should pay renewed attention to his book “From An Office Building With A High-Powered Rife” – A Report to the Public from an FBI Agent Involved in the Official JFK Assassination Investigation.” (Trinday 2013

Professor Gerald McKnight, who helped save Harold Weisberg’s papers and wrote one of the best retrospective books on the Warren Commission  “Breach of Trust: How the Warren Commission Failed the Nation and Why” [], is temporarily tentative, and we hope he can make both conferences, as any symposium on the Warren Report would be remiss without him.

                                  Assassination Archives and Research Center Conference 

While the JFKHG conference is underway at the Crown Plaza in Alexandra, Virginia, the AARC conference will be getting underway on the other side of the river at the Bethesda Hyatt Hotel in Northwest Washington, not far from the Bethesda Naval Hospital where President Kennedy’s controversial autopsy was conducted.

THE WARREN REPORT 50 YEARS LATER is a major conference being organized by Jerry Policoff, the Executive Director of the Assassination Archives and Research Center – AARC  [ 962 Wayne Ave. Suite 910 Silver Spring, Md. 20910  (717) 295-0237].

Among those confirmed for AARC Conference are the lead FOIA attorney on the JFK case - AARC Director Jim Lesar, Mary Ferrell Archivist Rex Bradford 
[], medical evidence specialist Dr. Gary Aguilar,  widow of reporter and congressional investigator Gaeton Fonzi - Marie Fonzi,[], HSCA attorney Dan Hardway, and the Unsinkable Molly Brown of the JFK Assassination Joan Mellen [].

Highly anticipated are updates on the continuing work of DC journalist Jefferson Morley [“Our Man in Mexico” /] and former Army intelligence analyst John Newman, author of “Oswald and the CIA” and “JFK and Vietnam” [], who has been working diligently on some more extremely reveling details of intelligence related aspects of the assassination that will knock our collective socks off.

South Carolina teacher Mel Hyman may give a talk on the media and the assassination, which is also a favorite topic of conference organizer Jerry Policoff.  

Andrew Kreig, author of “Presidential Puppety” will focus on Operation Northwoods and Dr. Randy Robertson, MD, a Tennessee radiologist looks at the medical evidence.  

Also confirmed is David Wrone, professor of history and author of  “The FOIA and Political Assassinations – Legal Proceedings of Harold Weisberg v. General Services Administration" (1978) and “The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy – A Comprehensive Historical and Legal Bibliography," 1963-1979 (1980); “The HSCA, The Zapruder Film, and the Single-Bullet Theory” (1993) and “The Zapruder Film: Reframing the JFK Assassination" (U. Kansas, 2003).

Dr. Ernest Titovets, M.D. [], Ph.D. Professor (1953-1963 Minsk State Medical Institute, Minsk, Belarus, recorded Oswald reading literature when they were socializing together, which can be heard here:

Author of “Oswald: Russian Episode” Titovets  had trouble getting a visa to make a presentation at the last Dallas COPA, was probably Oswald’s oldest and closest friends behind the Iron Curtain, portrays Oswald as a human, rather than demonizing him as others try to.

One highlight of the AARC conference should be the message of Nancy Soderberg the chair of the Public Interest Declassification Board (PIDB) who recently spoke out on the release of the still secret CIA assassination records. [Public Interest Declassification Board (PIDB) []

John Newman has a lot of new information on Oswald and the CIA, Joan Mellen will talk about her recent research and trilogy of books and Dan Hardway will discuss his HSCA work, which received a lot of attention at the Wecht Conference in Pittsburgh last October.

My presentation will be an update on the latest developments in the on-going forensic analysis of the Air Force One tapes, and the release to the public a new high-fidelity FM broadcast quality recording in which dead air was removed so that the entire tape contains useful information and is edited down to just under 2 hours and sectioned into fifteen minute parts for broadcast purposes.

Jerry Policoff, who has monitored the media’s reporting on the assassination, is the primary point man in the coordination of the AARC conference and he promises to keep the presentations at a high level and provide some newsworthy revelations. His specialty is the mainstream media coverage of the assassination and will make a presentation on that subject, which is not history but ongoing today.

Among those who are said to have been invited but have yet to confirm are “Six Seconds in Dallas” author Josiah Thompson, Deep Political thinker Peter Dale Scott and Bill Simpich, whose recent and remarkable work “State Secret” is posted at the Mary Ferrell Archives site.[ ]

Also invited are Larry Hancock, author of “Someone Would Have Talked” and more recently a book on the MLK assassination with Stu Wexler []
Longtime assassination researcher and photo specialist Robert Groden, as well as Robert Kennedy, Jr., son of the Senator slain in 1968, wowed the world when he announced on a TV special that his father believed the President was slain by more than one gunman and the mob and CIA were somehow involved. []

Philadelphia attorney Vince Salandria, whose landmark speech at the 2003 Dallas COPA conference ['] still rings true today.
Former HSCA Chief Counsel Richard Sprague was also invited to the Wecht Conference in Pittsburgh but couldn’t make it, but it would certainly make big waves if he puts in an appearance here.

“Who Killed JFK and Why It Matters” author James Douglas, also gave a landmark Dallas COPA speech [] and his book, promoted by Oliver Stone and RFK, Jr., is the first conspiracy book to resonate with the common man and not just history buffs

Tony Summers, author of the definitive “Not In Your Lifetime,” [], has moved on to other projects but keeps an eye on whatever new information comes out about the JFK case and may show up to promote his popular book. 

Original whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, who released the Pentagon Papers, and inspired others to do the same is also invited, along with former Senators Gary Hart and Richard Schweiker, whose Church Committte Subcommitte investigated some aspects of the JFK assassination and sparked the House Select Committee on Assassinations. They have both spoken out publicly about the assassination, denouncing the official investigations as inadequate and compromised.

One of their most trusted investigators, Gaeton Fonzi, was also hired by the HSCA and his widow,  Marie Fonzi will undoubtedly speak about her husband’s work and she may be accompanied by two of Fonzi’s prized and trusted sources Sylvia Odio [ ] and Antonio Veciana [ / ], who were persuaded to testify before Congress in 1977 but were prevented from doing so.

Former Cuban G2 chief Fabian Escalante [], who had access to the Cuban files on the assassination, and wrote a number of books on the subject, participated in the two conferences between researchers and Cuban intelligence officials may also be there, if the State Department lets him in. 

Also invited is Wayne Smith [], the former State Department attaché assigned to the Havana embassy at the time of the Cuban revolution, personally knew and worked with both David Atlee Phillips and David Moralles, and organized the two conferences with the Cubans.

Citizens for the Truth on JFK Assassination (CTKA founder and publisher of Probe Jim DiEugenio and renowned researcher Lisa Peasae [] should each make passionate and convincing presentations, as they did in Pittsburgh.

If they all accept the invitation to speak, Hollywood will be well represented with actor Ed Asner, Z – director Costa Gavras [], Oliver Stone of JFK fame, his researcher Jane Rusconi and former Minnisotta Governor, Navy SEAL and wrestler Jesse Ventura and his Mexican bar pal Dick Russell, author of The Man Who Knew Too Much and On the Trail of the JFK Asssassins. [ ].

Also invited are FOIA attorney Dan Alcorn, researcher Brenda Brody, Pamela Brown, who has done extensive research into the history of the limo, Walt Brown, author of a number of JFK books and the mammoth JFK Chronology, along with Barry Ernest, author of “The Girl On The Stairs”  [ ], and Sherry Feister – professional forensic crime scene investigator whose blood splatter analysis precludes the fatal head shot from originating from the TSBD [].

Longtime researcher Larry Happenen, who adds a clear head to the proceedings, Gail Nix Jackson, grand -daughter and author of “Orvil Nix: The Missing JFK Assassination Film,” David Kaiser, former Naval War College professor and author of  “The Road To Dallas,” HSCA attorney Ed Lopez, Dr. Grover Proctor, former University Dean who is best known for his investigation of the phone call Lee Harvey Oswald allegedly made from the Dallas jail to Raleigh, North Carolina, should all be there. 

Also invited are Nina Rhodes-Hughes, witness to RFK assassination and Ben Rogers, W.R. Poage Legislative Library Director at Baylor University Dallas Baylor University || Poage Library, where many of the assassination records of chief researchers are ending up.

To be fair and balanced, and to present the official side of the cover story will be Warren Commission defenders and apologists John McAdams [JFK / The Kennedy Assassination Home Pageand Max Holland and [Washington Decoded: RFK OK’d Sabotage Against Cuba in November 1963; Overruled by JFK  ]  possibly Warren Commission attorney Burt Griffith.

The AARC Conference in Bethesda is expected to have a pricing scheme similar to the JFKHG Conference, and will soon have a dedicated web site with much more information at: AARC - Assassination Archives and Research Center.

Hopefully both conferences will be different, and not just present the same old, stale information, and be live streamed over the internet, filmed, recorded and archived on line so people can view the presentations at their convenience, as I suspect these conferences and this anniversary will have a more important impact on the legal status of the case and significant ramifications on the disposition of the remaining sealed government records on the assassination.