Sunday, December 1, 2013

Oliver Stone's Mercedes and the ONI Files Revisited

ONI Records Revisited

By William Kelly
                                               ONI RECORDS REVISITED

               The Blind Men & the Elephant - Oliver Stone’s Harlem Mercedes
          Dallas Police detective Paul Bentley escorts Lee Harvey Oswald out of the Texas Theater

When we first began the lobby effort seeking the release of the government’s records on the JFK assassination, my uncle Stephen “Skip” Haynes, a Catholic priest, gave a sermon on the subject, comparing the secret files to the story of the blind men who tried to describe an elephant, each feeling and describing a different part of the beast. I sometimes get the feeling that's what we are doing with the JFK assassination records. 

Oliver Stone, after he became the champion of the JFK Free the Files movement, was asked to testify at a Congressional hearing, where he was asked what he thought he would find in the files, which it was pointed out to him, most certainly had been cleaned out, vetted, some destroyed, others hidden?  

Stone replied that he didn’t expect there to be any “smoking guns” among the government’s records on the assassination, and they certainly will be cleaned out of any compromising documents, comparing the government's JFK assassination files with a Mercedes-Benz left in Harlem for years - decades – now going on fifty years. Stone said it will be stripped of its radio, chrome, tires and engine parts, but its frame would still be there and you would be able to recognize it as a Mercedes. And besides, it’s not necessarily what’s in the files, but the principal of the thing – these records are the history of our country, the death of our president, they were paid for by taxpayers and they belong to the people and not to some secret agency. [1]

                                             The ONI Letter Authenticated

Shortly after the murder of Lee Harvey Oswald, the chief suspect in the murder of President Kennedy, U.S. Navy Commander Robert Steel wrote a letter to Dallas Police Detective Paul Bentley, one of the officers who arrested Oswald at the Texas Theater.

November 24, 1963
Robert D. Steel,
Commander, USNR-R
7960 June Lake Drive,
San DiegoCalifornia.


Perhaps you are aware that ONI has quite a file on Oswald, which no doubt has been made available on the Washington level. If not, I am certain that this information can be obtained for you through our resident special agent in charge of the Dallas office, A. C. Sullivan, who is a wonderful agent, and whom I hope you know. As a personal friend, I congratulate you, wish you continued success, and pray that your guardian angel will remain close at hand and vigilant, always.

 Robert D. Steel

[2] ONI Letter Steel, Robert D.

The legitimacy of this document was at one time questioned because it was not among the official Warren Commission or Dallas city records, but was instead located among the private papers of a former Dallas policeman. The letter’s authenticity has now been confirmed by its author Robert D. Steel.

[3] Steel, Robert D. Oral History interview transcript w/Steel. (Attached)

Steel recently confirmed the contents of the letter - that he personally knew both Arthur C. Sullivan, whom he identified as the head of the Dallas ONI office, as well as Dallas detective Paul Bentley, and that his agency, the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI), did indeed have “quite a file on Oswald.”

Paul Bentley, the person the letter is addressed to, was the chief operator of the Dallas police department's polygraph unit and was head of the Texas Association of Polygraph Examiners. Bentley was one of Oswald's arresting officers, was photographed escorting Oswald out of the theater, sat next to him in the back seat of the police car, searched Oswald's wallet and in his report stated, "On the way to City Hall, I removed the subject's wallet and obtained his name."

Retired Dallas Police Detective Paul Bentley passed away after a lengthy illness on July 21, 2008.

[4] Bentley Background.

A.C. Sullivan - Arthur Carroll Sullivan, Jr. was a 27 year veteran of ONI, had previously worked for the FBI and as an investigator for the Dallas District Attorney and lived in Denton, Texas, where Lee Oswald’s brother Robert Oswald, former USMC, also resided.

[5] Sullivan, A.C. Background.

The Mary Ferrell Files Data Base includes the note: SULLIVAN, ARTHUR C.

Sources: CD 7, p. 150 Mary's Comments: Research Analyst in Charge, Naval Intelligence, 1114 Commerce, Rm. 204, DallasTX 

Note: This document (copied in full below) makes no reference to 1114 Commerce, but instead is an FBI report on Sullivan’s knowledge about the enlistment of Oswald’s half-brother John Pic in the US Marine Corps. Lee followed his older brother Robert into the USMC, but his half-brother Edward John Pic served in the Coast Guard. Like Sullivan, Robert Oswald lived in Denton, Texas, where the company he worked for (ACME Brick) was also located. The Warren Commission reported that John Pic served in the US Coast Guard when Oswald and his mother visited him in New York and relocated there for a year. Pic then joined the US Air Force and was stationed at Lackland, AFB in Texas at the time of the assassination. If this document is accurate, then Pic had previously enlisted in the USMC Reserve after serving in the Coast Guard.


Date 11/26/63 

Special Agent A. C. SULLIVAN, Office of Naval Intelligence, advised EDWARD JOHN PIC, half-brother of LEE HARVEY OSWALD, enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, however, he did not actually serve on active duty. He subsequently served two tours in the U.S. Coast Guard, dates not available. PIC enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in 1956, and gave his address c/o M. OSWALD, 3006 Bristol Road…, Ft. Worth, Texas. He listed his wife as MARGARET DOROTHY FUHRMAN, 104 Ave. C., East MeadowNew YorkNew York (apparently her current address). Captain ROBERT JACKSON, Deputy Director, Naval Intelligence, Washington, D.C., advised Mr. SULLIVAN that this information was furnished FBI, Washington D.C. on November 23, 1963

11/24/63 DallasTexas File # DL 89-43

by Special Agent ROBERT P. GEMBERLING 


[7] Commission Document 7, p 150 – FBI Gemberling Report of 10 Dec 1963 re: Oswald. Current Section: D. Background – Relatives.

This note takes on added significance when it is learned that a reported post-assassination investigation by the US Marine Corps was said to have been confused with an actual investigation of Oswald’s half-brother John Pic, who had served in the US Coast Guard and was in the Air Force at the time of the assassination, but according to this memo, had also enlisted in the US Marine Corp.


It is also significant that it appears that the ONI had two official offices in Dallas, one at 1114 Commerce Street (Rm. 204) and the other at the Post Office Annex on the South Side of Dealey Plaza, one possibly a regular ONI office while the other for the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (CIS). It’s possible a third Dallas office is referred to in records as the “Dallas Field Office.” (See: Lankford)


                                                   Oswald’s ONI File


     The Warren Report mentioned that “….the Commission has reviewed the complete files on Oswald, as they existed at the time of the assassination, of the Department of State, the Office of Naval Intelligence, the FBI and the CIA.” 


Using that reference, Paul Hoch requested and acquired a 300 page ONI file in 1967, which he says is definitely not one of the USMC files that the Warren Commission published (two USMC files, personnel and medical, as the Folsom and Donabedian Exhibits).  The files obtained by Hoch include a reference to Oswald’s Soviet Embassy visit in Mexico and: “Information presently available to the Office of Naval Intelligence does not indicate what significance, if any, this contact may have represented, and no other information on OSWALD was received until 22 November 1963.”


The file also included the (Adml. Rufus) Taylor memo to McDonald about Patterson, which establishes the fact that Admiral Taylor, the director of ONI, took a keen personal interest in the ONI affairs in Dallas immediately after the assassination.  He suspected an association between Oswald and Ruby, as indicated in the following memo dated November 27, 1963.


Hoch, Paul. 1988 EOC


                                               THE TAYLOR MEMO


To: Admiral McDonald 27 Nov. 1963
From: Rear Admiral Taylor

Oswald Killing

1.Information from our Dallas office provides names of several persons connected with Ruby and Oswald. Robert Kermit Patterson, admitted 6J (homosexual), contacted resident agent Dallas about 1330 CST yesterday and said he had information in regard assassination of President Kennedy. Patterson said he and one Donald C. Stuart operated Contract Electronics, 2533 Elm StreetDallas. About two weeks ago, Jack Ruby/aka/Rubenstein and subject Oswald visited Contract Electronics and wanted work done on a microphones at Ruby Carousel Night Club, Dallas. On this occasion Ruby told Oswald to write names of Patterson and Stuart in Carousel guest book. Contract Electronics did the requested mike work at the Carousel and were paid by Negro employee. The Senior Resident Agent at Dallas has taken Patterson to the FBI Dallas for further interrogation. Neither Stuart nor Patterson has discussed above information with anyone else, according to Patterson. The files at DIO 8ND are negative on Stuart.

2. In this office we have a file on Patterson and another person not mentioned in the above message by the name of Tracy Thurio Pope. Pope is the one that first pointed out Patterson. Patterson was in the Navy and is now out. Pope was in the Navy and is out, Service No. 599 29 44, AA, USN. There is no Navy record on Stuart. This morning we had a meeting here to make sure that everybody is informed and that the FBI is getting everything it needs.

3. The above information certainly raises questions as to Ruby’s real motives in killing Oswald. We have all been interested in what seemed to us to be a look of recognition on Oswald’s fact when he spotted Ruby.

4. BuPers is being kept currently informed of information of the sort contained in paragraph 1 and 2 above.

Very respectfully, Rufus L. Taylor

On 12-17-93  



[9] Taylor Memo Nov. 27, 1963




It is interesting that Admiral Taylor thought it worth mentioning that the ONI’s Dallas informant Robert K. Patterson was a homosexual, especially in light of what we know from Donald P. Norton – that the military targeted homosexuals and got them to inform on other homosexuals in the service, especially officers and those with access to special information.


The case of defectors Martin and Mitchell also comes to mind, as it was suspected that the former Navy officers and National Security Agency (NSA) defectors to the Soviet Union were homosexuals (even though it later was determined that they were not.) Most interesting is the way Martin and Mitchell made their escape - from the United States to Mexico City to Havana and by ship to the Soviet Union, the same odd route that Oswald reportedly spoke about and apparently tried to replicate in Mexico in late September 1963.


[10] Norton, Don:; Patterson – Homosexual – Martin & Mitchell:

A subsequent FBI investigation of the Patterson allegation – that Oswald and Ruby were pre-assassination associates, positively determined that it was not Oswald who visited the electronics shop with Ruby, but one Lavern “Larry” Crafard, an ex-serviceman and Texas State Fair carnival roustabout who is certainly a person of interest (and is still a living witness/suspect). There are at least three incidents in which Crafard was mistaken for Oswald, one may have been intentional.


[11] Oswald-Crafard; Case of mistaken identity.

The ARRB notes that this Taylor memo was not found among the records of ONI but came from another agency, though it was furnished to the Warren Commission and released as an FOIA request as early as 1967, so it must have been removed after it was furnished to WC and Hoch.


This Taylor document strongly indicates that Admiral Rufus Taylor, the Director of ONI, took a keen and active interest in the information coming from the Dallas ONI office, where A. C. Sullivan worked closely with J. Mason Lankford.


                                                 J. MASON LANKFORD


In another FBI report it is noted that it was J.M. Lankford who ran Robert K. Patterson:


At approximately 1:00 PM, on November 26, 1963, J. M. LANKFORD, Special Agent, Office of Naval Intelligence, DallasTexas, personally appeared at the Dallas Field Division. Mr. LANKFORD advised SA John J. FLANAGAN that approximately fifteen minutes previously an informant of his had contacted him concerning JACK RUBY and LEE HARVEY OSWALD.

LANKFORD stated that his informant, ROBERT KERMIT PATTERSON, an admitted homosexual, has been furnishing information to ONI for some time. He has, in the past, furnished signed statements to the Office of Naval Intelligence setting forth his homosexual activities with young servicemen….

Patterson, a former Navy man, lived at the YMCA, was an associate Donald C. Stuart and operated a TV and radio repair shop with Charles Arndt, who also lived at the YMCA. Two weeks previous Ruby and a man who appeared to be Oswald visited Contract Electronics 2533 Elm St Stuart also worked at KLIF. [12]


From this report we learn that Lankford’s ONI informant Robert K. Patterson was living at the Dallas YMCA, where Oswald also lived on occasion, and where Ruby worked out, and that Patterson was affiliated with Stuart, who also worked at KLIF, the Dallas radio stationed owned by Gordon McLendon, who also had ties to both Ruby and ONI. [13]


John Mason Lankford Jr. (1921-1997), better known as Mason Lankford, besides being a special agent of the Dallas ONI, was also the Fire Marshal of Tarrant County (Fort Worth), Texas, and worked for General Dynamics/Convair Division as Director of Security (from 1948 to 1972), where Robert Oswald was employed at Convair in 1956.


Two other General Dynamics Security officers were I. B. Hale and Max Clark. Hale was ex-FBI agent whose wife got Oswald jobs though her position at the employment office. Their sons broke into the Las Vegas apartment of Judith Campbell Exner under the watchful eyes of an FBI stakeout team, but were never investigated because their father was such a respected ex-FBI agent.


Max Clark knew Oswald from his association with the George deMohrenschildt crowd and was personally acquainted with the FBI agent assigned to investigate him.


In addition to being special agent of the ONI, chief firefighter of Denton, Texas and director of security at Convair, Lankford was the chairman of the Texas Board of Private Investigators and Private Security Agencies, and through that association was probably acquainted with DPD Detective Paul Bentley, who was head of the Texas association of polygraph operators.


Detective Bentley was the close personal friend of San Diego ONI Commander Robert Steel, and recipient of the letter that informed Bentley of the large file ONI had on Oswald.


Lankford was also an old acquaintance of Texas-based Secret Service agent Mike Howard. Lankford assisted Howard in making Fort Worth secure for JFK’s visit and on Sunday morning, November 24th, Howard called him to request that he accompany him as part of the security team protecting Marina and Marguerite Oswald at the Inn of the Six Flags, a site said to have been chosen by Lankford. Also present was Robert Oswald, who refers to Lankford as “Mason,” suggesting the two had known each other, possibly from being neighbors in Denton or their work together at Convair.


Mason Lankford’s father, John Mason Lankford Sr. worked at Temco in the early 1950s and could have known David Harold Byrd, owner of the TSBD building.


[14] Lankford, Mason. Background.

                                             PAUL HOCH and P.D. SCOTT


Harold Weisberg specialized in reviewing FBI records, John Newman and Jeff Morley have focused on CIA records related to the assassination, while the relevant ONI records have been reviewed closely by Paul Hoch and P.D. Scott, both interested in the military and intelligence records.


Hoch concluded his early analysis with the hope that the outstanding questions could be cleared up by the Assassinations Records Review Board (ARRB), when he wrote, “One can hope that the ARRB did a (John) Newman-like analysis to pin down the identity of additional files. Not actually that likely, though.”


[15] Hoch, Paul.; EOC Echos of Conspiracy 2 (1988), pp. 1-10:] 


Peter Dale Scott addressed the subject of the ONI Records in a 1990 conference presentation in which he spoke, and later wrote in part:  


P.D. Scott:

“The special handling of Lee Harvey Oswald by the State Department….swiftly aroused…suspicions of FBI, ONI and Marine Intelligence personnel, and Hoover’s allies (notably Otto Otepka) We know this chiefly from Oswald’s ONI records, where we also learn that there were considerable ONI messages on Oswald (alias Harvey Lee Oswald), stored in Marine G-2 (intelligence) files that were never seen by the Warren Commission….The charade of Oswald’s discharge from the Marine Reserve in 1960 was an operation coordinated by Marine G-2 and ONI Counterintelligence…”


              Oswald’s Suppressed ONI and Marine G-2 Records


“Lee Harvey Oswald’s defection to the Soviet Union in 1959 was immediately described as an “intelligence matter’ by the Navy’s Office of Naval Intelligence….In the ensuring years the military intelligence agencies continued to collect information about him. Since the publication of the Warren Report we have seen the belated release of documents on Oswald from ONI (the Office of Naval Intelligence), from Army G-2 (Intelligence) and even OSI (Air Force Intelligence), the first of the military agencies to consult Oswald’s security file in the State Department.”


“Oswald however, did not serve in the Navy, Army or Air Force; like his brother Robert he was a Marine. In October 1959, at the time of this defection, he was no longer on active duty, but had transferred six weeks earlier to the Class III Ready Marine Corps Reserve. We shall see that over three years Marine G-2 (Intelligence) both received and disseminated records concerning Oswald, regionally and at Marine HQ. Nevertheless, despite Marine G-2, all unclassified, and presumably a tiny fraction of the whole.  (These large gaps in what is available suggests the existence of a second system of classified records.)”


“We know further that the Marine G-2 HQ did receive classified intelligence on Oswald. The CIA on October 10, 1963, sent a secret cable to the Navy, reporting that someone identifying himself as Lee Oswald had been in contact with the Soviet Embassy in Mexico City. Like the first Navy cable about Oswald’s defection, the action copy of this cable was referred to ‘92’ (the Office of Naval Intelligence). Handwritten on this copy are the words, “Passed to G-2 – USMC 10/11/63.”


                ONI and the Deception of the So-Called ONI “File on Oswald”


“In response to the Warren Commission request of February 18, 1964, John McNaughton’s office supplied what it referred to as ‘the complete file of the Office of Naval Intelligence on Lee Harvey Oswald.In fact this file was not complete. More importantly, it was only created on November 22, 1963, from Oswald records which apparently were stored earlier in two or three files, some of which possibly had a different subject or subjects.”


“In the Archives version of this ONI file, we find clues to its own creation on November 22, 1963. A memo to file of that date by the duty officer in the ONI Support Center refers to both an ‘ONI investigative file’ ….and a ‘supplemental file,’... Later the duty officer learned ‘of a request being prepared from General Carroll of DIA [the Defense Intelligence Agency, a McNamara creation] to see the file on Oswald.’ Advised of this request, ONI Chief Admiral Rufus Taylor gave instructions ‘to prepare a file for him to be passed to General Carroll.”


“Something analogous may have happened at Marine HQ G-2 as well. A House Committee staff report says that the HSCA “contacted Lt. Col. Bill Brewer of the Intelligence Division of Marine Corps Headquarters on August 1, 1977. Brewer had been in charge of compiling the Oswald military file for the use of the Warren Commission” This report adds ambiguously that according to Brewer, “his records check had only individual local records within the individual commands where Oswald had served and did not include records that were classified secret or top secret.”


“The details of this file-preparation suggests conscious deception by ONI on November 22, both of General Carroll (The Kennedy-McNamara appointee as head of DIA), and subsequently of DOD General Counsel John McNaughton. It was reviewing the ONI “file on Oswald” that McNaughton requested three documents, referred to in the file, which he never got to see.]…Some of the post-November 22 alteration of this “file on Oswald” appears to be the work of the Archives itself, when the curator of these records was Marion Johnson. This alteration, which even if innocently inspired could be construed as tampering with evidence, should be investigated by the Review Board, and the November 22 file as far as possible.


“As we look more closely at this ONI-G-2 collaboration, we shall see that it has the marks of a counterintelligence operation, indeed of an official ‘deception’ (to use an intelligence term of art) with respect to Oswald. There is of course nothing in this fact per se to link either ONI or Marine G-2 to the assassination.”


“What is more alarming is the refusal by ONI on November 22, to share their actual records with even Joseph Carroll, the Air Force General and former FBI agent who in 1961 was appointed by Kennedy to be the first head of the Defense Intelligence Agency. Particularly alarming is the deceitful withholding at the time of three records which (unlike most of the others) constituted strong clues to the existence of the counterintelligence collaboration.”


“In suggesting to their superiors that the three withheld records added no information, senior naval officers were deceptive. Admiral Taylor’s decision to have a file prepared, rather than share raw data, is further evidence that the original files with Oswald records contained truths quite different than those eventually given to the public.”


“In 1963 Oswald’s personnel file was stored at the Federal Records CenterSt. Louis; and forwarded to Washington by November 23…”

[BK – Emphasis added]


Like Hoch, Scott also had high hopes that the ARRB would review the matter closely, utilized their subpoena power and determine what was really going on when he wrote:


“The Review Board should also question, and if necessary depose, those in ONI who on November 22 ‘prepared a file’ for DIA and their civilian overseers in the Pentagon. It is unlikely that whatever case existed for secrecy about Oswald on the day of the assassination would still prevail against the standards for release established I 1994 by passage of the JFK Records Act.”





                                  THE ARRB AND THE ONI FILES   


While the CIA has taken most of the heat for refusing to make public their records on the assassination of President Kennedy, the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) has been just as just as obstinate, not only for refusing to turn over relevant records, but for denying the very existence of certain records that are or were known to exist and skirting the law - the JFK Assassination Records Act of 1992 – technically known as 44 United States Code 2107. [17]


With the passage of the act by Congress, the temporary Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB) was created, with five non-governmental citizen-academics recommended by national historic and archival associations, and led by Federal Judge John Tunheim. They hired a staff whose job was not to reinvestigate the assassination but to identify and assemble all of the government records related to the assassination in one place – the JFK Collection at the National Archives and Records Administration, which is located at Archives II on the beltway in College ParkMaryland.


Since it was just a temporary organization without any future many veteran government and military officials refused to cooperate, especially since any association with the subject of the assassination was considered toxic to anyone’s governmental career, there was a high turnover of Review Board personnel, including two staff directors and two chief counsels. At least one of these resignations was due to a scandal and differences between the Board and Staff which has yet to be revealed.


                                              The HSCA and ARRB


Although the task of the ARRB was not to investigate the assassination but only locate records, before the ARRB (1996-98) there was the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA 1977-78), which was authorized to investigate the assassination, but was also compromised by those who wanted certain information to remain secret, including two reports of official military investigations of Oswald, one before and one after the assassination. [18]                              




When USAF navigator Lawrence Huff  told the HSCA that he flew to San Diego and Japan with a US Marine Corps team that was investigating Oswald’s military records after the assassination, the USMC claimed that no such investigation occurred and that Huff was confusing it with an actual investigation of Oswald’s half-brother John Pic.


Huff didn’t get the hint, and denied this and it is very clear from the HSCA reports that there was a post assassination USMC investigation of Oswald, as there should have been.


[19] Huff Report. HSCA, USMC post-assassination investigation of Oswald.


Staff Repot HSCA March 1979  Volume XI, p. 539 (MF p. 549)


The ARRB Final Report notes: “The question of whether the Marine Corps conducted a post-assassination investigation and produced a written report on former Marine Private Lee Harvey Oswald, circa late 1963 and early 1964, has never been resolved to the satisfaction of the public…. During its investigation the HSCA learned from a former officer (Huff) that the USMC sent a special investigations team to San Diego and Japan. According to an officer who flew on the same plane, they wrote a report on Oswald’s activities when he was there.”


According to Huff the “for USMC eyes only” report concluded that “Oswald was incapable of committing the assassination alone.” But that report has never been acknowledged let alone released, even though the HSCA investigators were supplied with the name of the plane’s pilot, the plane’s tail numbers, precise flight data and the names of others aboard.


Nearly twenty years later the ARRB Final Report concluded: “The Review Board asked the Marine Corps to search for any records relating to post-assassination investigations that the U.S. Marine Corps might have completed, as some researchers believe.”


[Note: It is not some researchers who believe that such an investigation took place, it is the USAF officer, a navigator who held a Top Secret clearance and read the report that concluded that Oswald “was not capable of committing the assassination alone.” It was not in response to researchers, but to the testimony of the USAF officer.]


“The U.S. Marine Corps searched files at both U.S. Marine Corps HQ in Quantico, and at the Federal Records Center in SuitlandMaryland, but the Marine Corps did not locate evidence of any internal investigations of Lee Harvey Oswald, other than correspondence already published in the Warren Report.”


[20] ARRB Final Report on USMC post-assassination investigation of Oswald.




The Final Report of the ARRB also notes that:  “….many have wondered whether the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) conducted a post-defection "net damage assessment" investigation of Lee Harvey Oswald circa 1959 or 1960…”


[Note here too the Final Report of the ARRB uses the wording “many have wondered,” which makes it appear the Review Board staff was responding to the questioning of “many wondering” researchers, when in fact the one person “who wondered” whether the ONI conducted a post-defection net-damage assessment was the Navy officer - Fred Reeves, who oversaw the investigation and read the reports. Commander Steel also confirmed that he worked closely with Reeves and may have been the officer who conducted the investigation and wrote the reports.]


ARRB Final Report: “Various former Oswald associates and military investigators have recalled separate investigations…The Review Board became aware of an individual named Fred Reeves of California, who was reputed to have been in charge of a post-defection "net damage assessment" of Oswald by the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) shortly after Oswald's defection to the U.S.S.R. The Review Board contacted Reeves, interviewed him twice by telephone, then flew him to WashingtonD.C., where the Review Board staff interviewed him in person. In 1959, Reeves was a civilian Naval Intelligence Operations Specialist. (Reeves served in the District Intelligence Office of the San DiegoCalifornia 11th Naval District.)”


“Reeves told the Review Board that a week or so after Oswald defected to the U.S.S.R., two officers from ONI in WashingtonD.C. called him and asked him to conduct a background investigation at the Marine Corps Air Station in El ToroCalifornia Oswald's last duty station before his discharge from the Marine Corps. (6 One of the officers who called Mr. Reeves was Rufus Taylor, who was Director of Naval Intelligence in 1964.)…Reeves said that he went to El Toro, copied Oswald's enlisted personnel file, obtained the names of many of his associates, and mailed this information to ONI in WashingtonD.C.


“He said that ONI in Washington ran the post-defection investigation of Oswald, and that the Washington officers then directed various agents in the field. Although Reeves did not interview anyone himself, he said that later (circa late 1959 or early 1960), approximately 12 to 15 "119" reports concerning Oswald (OPNAV Forms 5520119 are ONI's equivalent of an FBI FD302 investigative report), crossed his desk. Reeves said he was aware of "119" reports from Japan and Texas, and that the primary concern of the reports he read on Oswald was to ascertain what damage had been done to national security by Oswald's defection. Reeves reported that he also saw eight to ten "119" reports on Oswald after the assassination, and that he was confident he was not confusing the two events in his mind.”


“In the spring of 1998, Review Board staff members met with two Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) records management officials, one of whom personally verified that he had searched for District Intelligence Office records (with negative results) from the San Diego, Dallas, and New Orleans District Intelligence Offices in 1996 with negative results. This search included "119" reports from the time period 1959-1964, during an extensive search of NCIS record group 181. The search included any records that would have been related to Oswald's defection. Thus, the Review Board ultimately located no documentary evidence to substantiate Reeves' claims.”





Those few paragraphs from the Final Report of the ARRB – that they searched ONI files but failed to locate the relevant records, - belies what actually occurred – the ONI stonewalled the Review Board and blackballed one of its own officers who attempted to cooperate with the ARRB staff and actually tried to conduct a complete search of the ONI files for the relevant records.



The problem, as seen from the perspective of the HSCA and the ARRB, was the ONI claimed they could find no documents from these official investigations in their files, even though both described in detail by officers who read official reports that should be in the files. These are official investigations that should have taken place and did take place according to the military officers involved, but for which we now have no official reports or records, other than the recollections and testimony of the officers.


When the Assassinations Records Review Board staff first informed the Office of Naval Intelligence of the JFK Act and its requirements, the director of ONI simply responded by saying they didn’t have a thing.


On Nov 14 1995 the Assassinations Records Review Board (ARRB) sent the Navy Office of General Counsel a letter outlining the JFK Act law requirements and on Nov. 27 1995 the Director ONI responded by letter, stating that “the Office of Naval Intelligence holds no records responsive to the tasking of 14 Nov 1995…..” 

[23] ONI response to ARRB Request.


Two years later, Christopher Barger of the ARRB staff “met with the ONI team responsible for heading the search for records under the JFK Act,” and noted in his report that, “This team is directed by Lieut. Cmdr. Terri Pike; LCDR Doolittle works in the ONI FOIA office; Pike reports to Capt. Peiaec; LCRD Bastein is the JAG.”  As he noted, “For reason not entirely clear to either the ONI team or ARRB, the tasking for this project only trickled down to them on Friday, March 7, 1997. They were a little confused as to why they were only being tasked with this now, but expressed a willingness to do everything they possibly could to achieve the objectives of the Act.”


[24] ARRB Staff Meeting Report, March 11, 1997 


For awhile it was “Gung Ho!” and they went all out to find the relevant records. Intended searches would begin at Suitland at the Federal Records Center, but would later include district offices within CONUS (Continental United States) and that, “Pike then presented us a small written briefing package detailing what they had identified that they are required to do and the process they will use to go about the review. She noted that their first priority was to identify the records collections they need to search, then determining the physical location of the records. Most of these will be at Suitland, she said, but there will be others located in district offices round the country in locations like Chicago, Atlanta, San Francisco, New Orleans, St. Louis and Boston. They have also identified a need to determine standard subject identification codes which should cause a document to be searched, and she concluded by detailing the records disposition procedures within ONI.” 

“Despite the fact that they had only learned of this tasking on Friday, they had located and designated approximately 125 cubic feet of documents that directly relate to subjects we mentioned in our letter to the Navy. These will be reviewed page by page. She anticipated being able to complete the review by the stated deadline set by the Navy and ARRB of April 30, 1997.”

“In addition, she said that ONI had identified about 950 cubic feet, or approximately 2.4 million pages of records which might be related to the topics we were interested in, but that we had not specifically mentioned…LCDR Pike stressed that she, and ONI, understood that all information, even negative result, is important to our process, and that they will be providing reports on everything they search, whether relevant documents are found within or not. Pike provided us with a ‘flow chart’ documenting the normal records disposition process within ONI, explaining what each step of the process is and where documents go during each phase of the process. The final page of her briefing package was a sample of the ‘clue sheets’ being provided to each reviewer for the April 30 documents. Approximately two dozen subject headings are listed along with ‘clues’ or keywords for each subject, and a time window for each subject….In closing, it should be reported that this team, and LCDR Pike in particular, are very impressive, they appear very much to have their act together on this project. They provided details and planning we have rarely seen from other agencies, yet they have had this project assigned to them for less than a week. They were extremely helpful, and have taken an aggressive and proactive approach to complying with the JFK Act. We can expect more impressive work from this team.”

Another ARRB memo says that, “LCDR Pike is our main point of contact in the ONI records review. She works for the Information Management Department…She said that they have completed their review of about 40 cu. ft. of the 127 cu. ft. ONI has committed to having reviewed for us by the April 30 deadline. She also said that they have found one box based on our SF 135 requests. This box has to do with defections, both Cuban and Soviet; they plan on turning this box over to us “in toto.” She said that most of the records in that box are CIA originated or have CIA equities, so they will need to be coordinated with CIA. She ended the call by telling me that if we want to come out there at any point and personally review any of their work, we are welcome.”

On April, 21 1997 ARRB staffers met with LCDR Pike and LCDR Doolittle of ONI and reported that, “LCDR Pike stated that review of the first 123 cubic feet of ONI records had been completed, and that as a result .8 cubic feet of records (18 district files) on defectors had been identified as responsive to the CNO tasking; these records were presented to ARRB staffers at the meeting for cursory review. Completion of declassification review and delivery of the original records to the ARRB was tentatively promised within 2 – 4 weeks. LCDR Pike also mentioned that approx. 950 cubic feet of additional records had been identified which –might- be responsive to the topics the ARRB was interested in, and said that review of this material would take approximately 6 months. (ARRB Meeting Report memorializes the result of this meeting.)….Pike explained that most of the relevant records they found were discovered ‘by accident;’ that is to say, they were misfiled in boxes outside where they should have been. This is important for two reasons. 1) If they had been filed where they ‘should’ have been, they would have been routinely destroyed by this point, and 2) as they continue their review of the approximately 900 cu feet of records they have self-identified, they expect they might well continue to discover records of interest to us….There are a total of 18 folders of material which ONI has determined should go into the JFK collection and have earmarked for delivery to us….”

In August, 1997, after learning that Fred Reeves had prepared “119 Reports” on Oswald, ARRB staffer Doug Horne called Terri Pike and requested that she look for “119 Reports” covering an alleged ONI investigation of Lee Harvey Oswald’s October, 1959 defection to the Soviet Union. LCDR Pike accepted the tasking, but according to their reports the ARRB never received any feedback on the results.


In a “Description of the Call: Summary” Doug Horne wrote – “I left a voice mail telling Terri Pike about Fred Reeves and his claim to have conducted a post-defection investigation of Oswald at MCAS El Toro in late 1959 or early 1960 at the request of ONI in Washington (Rufus Taylor); I specifically mentioned ‘119 Reports,’ which Fred Reeves said were filed. I asked her to search for those files or a copy of that investigative report, and also asked her to pass to us the name and phone number of the person at ONI most knowledgeable today about such matters/such records.”

In a Memo to the ARRB Pike eventually reported back that, “…I was relieved from the leadership position on this project in late August (1997) by the ONI Reserve Directorate Head….As you know, it was my responsibility to identify all records required under 44 U.S.C. 2107 (The JFK Act). I felt a personal commitment to ensure this effort was conducted ‘with vigor’ and as thoroughly as possible…”

For her efforts she was charged with “fraudulent” official travel as her “tasking did not say to search regional record centers.” 


T. Jeremy Gunn, the ARRB senior counsel who became Executive Director, took a personal interest in the Pike case, and his notes indicates that he believed she discovered certain special information and wanted to know, “When was she transferred? Who were her superiors? How long after she discovered this info was (she) terminated? What were the reasons given for her termination?” On Dec. 3, 1997, Gunn sent a fax to Pike’s attorney David Sheldon, asking to speak to Pike to learn of, “any discussions she had with ONI officials regarding the content and disposition of records for which she was searching and…any information she might have regarding the location of ONI records and of ONI record-keeping policies.”

In a Jan. 7 1998 Fax and US Mail letter Ex. Dir. ARRB T. Jeremy Gunn wrote to Pike’s attorney. Dear Mr. Sheldon, I would like to thank you for returning my call and for your willingness to consider our request. As I mentioned, we would like to speak, on an informal basis, with your client, LCDR Terri Pike. We anticipate that the discussion would likely take no more than one to one and one half hours. There are two principle issues that we would like to discuss: first, any records she located or pursued that were relevant to the assassination or to requests made by the ARRB; second, any discussions she had with ONI officials regarding the content and disposition of the records for which she was searching; and third, any information she might have regarding the location of ONI records and of ONI record-keeping policies. We do not anticipate any need to discuss issues other than these with LCDR Pike, although you or she may know of other issues that might be of interest to us. The two people from our office who would meet with her are Doug Horne, Chief Analyst for Military Records (who Ms. Pike knows) and Kim Heard, a Senior Attorney…..

Gunn then heard from ONI, who wrote: “The Department of the Navy strongly objects to LCDR Pike’s cooperation in the investigation being conducted by Mr. Jeremy Gunn of the JFK Assassinations Records Review Board. ONI is unaware of any unauthorized investigation regarding this issue. If Mr. Gunn wishes to conduct an investigation or inquiry, such an effort should be coordinated through the Office of Naval Intelligence.” 


LCDR Pike was brought up before an Article 32 hearing to determine if she should be court-martialed.  [Article 32 a):  No charge or specification may be referred to a general court-martial for trial until a through and impartial investigation of all the matters set forth therein has been made. This investigation shall include inquiry as to the truth of the matter set forth in the charges, consideration of the form of charges, and recommendation as to the disposition which should be made of the case in the interest of justice and discipline. (b) The accused shall be advised of the charges against him and of his right to be represented at that investigation as provided in section 838 of this title (article 38) and in regulations prescribed under that section...]

Just like in film “A Few Good Men” (“You can’t handle the truth!”) and the TV show JAG, an Article 32 hearing was held in a courtroom in Building 200, Washington Navy Yard, 2nd floor, and commenced at 0900 on Monday, 16, March, 1998, but the results are unknown. It is known however, that Pike’s attorney (Shelton) “wanted to get the Government privilege lifted in order to discuss SCI and Top Secret Materials. Sheldon stated that the prosecutors needed to make this stuff go away because he was planning on dragging it all out and it would hit the newspapers, etc. Sheldon stated that there was some feeling that ONI was trying to shuffle some of the JFK stuff to the side.” 


The case was being made that Pike was being reprimanded, not for fraudulent travel, but because she had found some important records that the ONI wanted to keep from being made pubic.


The JAG officer who was responsible for signing off on the ONI records responsive to the JFK Act was Lt. Commander (LCDR) D. Bastien. In a letter from Doug Horne to LCDR R. D. Bastien, Horne makes note of some of the fires Pike started that Bastien was trying to stamp out: “The purpose of this letter is to memorialize for the record our meeting….You suggested a correction in my summation of information provided by LCDR Pike…in which I quoted her as saying that ONI searches would include district offices within CONUS. You advised that although ONI had district offices in the past, there are no longer any district offices within CONUS, subsequently to the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) splitting away from ONI as a separate entity. You further clarified that the only locations where you would expect to find ONI records today would be at the Federal Records Center in Suitland, at the Naval Historical Center, or at Archives II in College park….you were confident that ONI had searched for and had not located any files for the Director of ONI,…Although LCDR Pike had promised delivery of the originals of those documents, ….the Review Board was still not in receipt of these documents….LCDR Pike had recently mentioned to our staff that she had located Naval Attache Records responsive to the JFK Act during her searches of RG 289, and had placed them in a box that she had labeled ‘44 USC 2107.’ It was unclear from our conversation with her whether this box was left at the FRC in Suitland, or whether it was located at ONI headquarters…Please confirm for me, in writing, whether….ONI conducted search of records centers in San Francisco, Atlanta, and San Diego, and if documentation exists of the dates and results of those searches….”

An ARRB staffer who dealt with Bastien described him as, “...a real bastard, the nastiest individual I encountered within the military structure. He seemed actively opposed to what we were doing at the ARRB...He was a Navy legal officer, a military attorney, acting as the pit bull guard dog protecting the ONI family jewels.”

LCDR Bastien, R.D. Jagg Officer who replaced Pike, signed off on ONI compliance with JFK Act, under penalty of perjury, days before the “defector file” was to be turned over to the ARRB. [25]


After leaving the ARRB under a cloud two months before it was finished with its work, its chief counsel and Executive Director T. J. Gunn began working for the ACLU and then at a University in Morocco. [26]


In the Final Report of the ARRB, Chapter 8 Compliance with the JFK Act by Government Offices - a. Office of Naval Intelligence: “6. The Review Board pursued the matter of ONI records separately. Accordingly, the Board requested that ONI submit its own certification of its compliance with the JFK Act. In its Final Declaration of Compliance, ONI stated that it conducted an extensive review of ONI records held at Federal Records Centers throughout the country. ONI did not identify any additional assassination records. ONI was unable to find any relevant files for the Director of ONI from 1959 to 1964. ONI also acknowledged that there were additional ONI records that were not reviewed for assassination records, but that these records would be reviewed under Executive Order 12958 requiring declassification of government records.”


So in the end, ONI could not find any relevant assassination records on the assassination from its Dallas Office(s), no “119 Reports” on Oswald or any pre-assassination, post-defection or post-assassination investigation reports, and no relevant records whatsoever from the office of the Director of ONI. And there’s some confusion as to whether turned over the Defector records Pike discovered and whether ONI turned over all of its records or kept some back so they can be reviewed under Ex Or. 12958.

The Office of Naval Intelligence submitted its Final Declaration of Compliance dated May 18, 1998, signed by LCDR R. D. Bastien.

The Navy confirmed that it did not locate any relevant 1959-1964 files for the Director of ONI.


[27] ARRB Final Report, Chapter 8, 14. Dept. of Navy 5. ONI. Also see: Railroading of LCDR Terri Pike and related ONI-ARRB Records; Chronology prepared by ARRB Staff.





The footnote of the Final Report of the ARRB in he reports on Fred Reeves notes that, “One of the officers who called Mr. Reeves (to initiate the post-defection inquiry into Oswald) was Rufus Taylor, who was Director of Naval Intelligence in 1964…”

In a March 4 1997 – Meeting Report – Topic – Disposition of ONI, NCIS Records 5.  AARC staff “provided extract from HSCA Staff Report regarding alleged Marine Corps CID post-assassination investigation into activities of Lee Harvey Oswald [aka Huff Report], and asked for any advice or assistance they might be able to provide regarding where such records might presently be stored, if they exist. Best recommendation: personal papers of the Marine Corps Commandant, Marine Corps CID records. Subject investigation, if authentic, may have been handled outside normal investigative channels.” 


It not such a wild idea that the pre-assassination investigation into Oswald the defector and post assassination investigation of Oswald the assassin were ordered and “handled outside normal investigative channels” by those at the very top - the Commandant of the Marine Corp and Director of Office of Naval Intelligence. We know these files were there at one time, and it is inconceivable that ONI has lost the most significant records of its director, and that they have not undertaken the routine CI investigation to determine what became of them and to make sure they didn't fall into the hands of the enemy or opposition - the Russians, Chinese, Wikileaks or the American public. 


Taylor is recognized as the first real intelligence officer to hold the office of Director of Office of Naval Intelligence. Here’s what researcher Mae Brussell has to say about Rufus Taylor;: “….Taylor...was a very important witness who died a week before Helms was to testify (before Congress). Rufus Taylor, Annapolis graduate, studied in Japan from 1938 to 1941, was a native of St. LouiseMissouri, and was with General Macarthur after the war in Japan. Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence for the entire Pacific fleet, he was in Japan from 1941 to 1959 and in Navy Intelligence at the time that Lee Oswald was over there in 1959 in the Philippines, at the Atsugi Air bases and was involved with the U2. Oswald served in the Marines with top secret security clearance at the time that Rufus was Pacific Intelligence Chief. Oswald went to the Soviet Union and Rufus went to Washington, D.C. Oswald said, "I'm going to give away radar secrets." Rufus then became the Director for Foreign Intelligence in the Soviet Union. Rufus was the Director of Navy Intelligence in 1963 up until the time Kennedy was killed - from 1963 to 1966."

During 1967 through 1969, Rufus Taylor was the Deputy Director of the CIA- the number two post under Helms….When Congress questioned former CIA chief Richard Helms about Oswald's intelligence work, he said, "Why ask me? Call Navy Intelligence.”


As director of ONI, Taylor established Task Force 117 – a world wide intelligence network ostensibly responsible for keeping track of international shipping, and included Ed Wilson of the CIA. When Wilson told Bobby Inman, a successor to Taylor, of the existence of Task Force 117, Inman ordered it disbanded.



          Reconstructing the Oswald ONI File

[29] Reconstructing the ONI Assassination Files. Kelly Essay.


So it now can be said for certain that the Director of the Office of Naval Intelligence Rufus Taylor took a personal interest in Oswald both before the assassination by personally ordering the investigation of his defection to the Soviet Union in 1959, and after the assassination by suggesting an alleged association between Oswald and Ruby, citing local Dallas ONI undercover agents.


San Diego ONI investigator Commander Robert Steel confirmed that Fred Reeves was in charge of the San Diego Navy CIS office and he (Steel) had probably carried out the actual Oswald investigation for Reeves, as ordered by Taylor, and wrote the “119 Reports” that are now among the missing ONI records.


The missing ONI records may have been destroyed, but more than likely are either misfiled or being intentionally and illegally withheld, in which case it might be possible to persuade ONI to acknowledge them and release them to NARA.

The appropriate oversight committee of Congress should hold hearings on the enforcement of the JFK Act, twenty years after, obtain the appropriate testimony that establishes the existence of certain records, get LTDR Pike and others who had identified requested records to go back through the files and find them, and ensure that all of the relevant records are located and turned over to the NARA for inclusion in the JFK Records Collection. 


Oswald’s non-classified military file was kept at the military records center in St. Louis, where there was a major fire and many of the military records of those who served in World War II were destroyed. Because these records were necessary for the veterans to receive the GI Bill and medical and insurance service, the destroyed records were “reconstructed” from other files.


Oswald’s ONI file can be reconstructed in much the same way, and while it may have been stripped clean of all incriminating and embarrassing information, like Oliver Stone’s Mercedes left in Harlem for fifty years, we still have the basic skeleton frame and the testimony of those officers who have seen the entire file, or most of it, and can reconstruct the ONI file from those recollections and the records of other agencies.


[1] Stone, Oliver. Testimony before Congressional Oversight Committee.

[2] ONI Letter Steel, Robert D.

[3] Steel, Robert D. Oral History interview transcript w/Steel. (Attached)

[4] Bentley Background.

[5] Sullivan, A.C. Background.

[7] Commission Document 7, p 150 – FBI Gemberling Report of 10 Dec 1963 re: Oswald. Current Section: D. Background – Relatives.

Hoch, Paul. 1988 EOC

[9] Taylor Memo Nov. 27, 1963

[10] Norton, Don:; Patterson – Homosexual – Martin & Mitchell:

[11] Oswald-Crafard; Case of mistaken identity.


[13] YMCA

[14] Lankford, Mason. Background.

 [15] Hoch, Paul.; EOC Echos of Conspiracy 2 (1988), pp. 1-10:] 



[18] The HSCA and ARRB

[19] Huff Report. HSCA, USMC post-assassination investigation of Oswald.


Staff Repot HSCA March 1979  Volume XI, p. 539 (MF p. 549)

[20] ARRB Final Report on USMC post-assassination investigation of Oswald.

[23] ONI response to ARRB Request.

[24] ARRB Staff Meeting Report, March 11, 1997 

[25] LCDR Bastien, R.D.

[26] Executive Director T. J. Gunn

[27] ARRB Final Report, Chapter 8, 14. Dept. of Navy 5. ONI. Also see: Railroading of LCDR Terri Pike and related ONI-ARRB Records; Chronology prepared by ARRB Staff.

[29] Reconstructing the ONI Assassination Files. Kelly Essay.


1 comment:

gerald campeau said...

Well done Bill,You gave us 3 more month of home work