Saturday, October 22, 2011

ONI & the Assassination of JFK

and the Assassination of President Kennedy

The CIA has always taken the heat for the assassination of President Kennedy, mainly because people recognize that what happened at Dealey Plaza was a covert intelligence operation – and that's the kind of thing the CIA does.

But the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) is also suspect for being somehow involved, not for any one reason but for an increasingly accumulating body of evidence that implicates it in the assassination drama and the subsequent cover-up of what really occurred.

For starters, the two victims – John F. Kennedy and John Connally, as well as the alleged assassin Lee Harvey Oswald, had Navy backgrounds.

John F. Kennedy served as an officer in the ONI during World War II before being transferred to the Pacific. Connally was the Secretary of Navy when Lee Harvey Oswald defected to the Soviet Union after serving in the Marine Corps, which comes under the Department of Navy.

From the Soviet Union, Oswald wrote Connally a letter to straighten out his undesirable discharge, but Connally had left his post as Navy Sec to become Governor of Texas, and passed the letter on to his successor Fred Korth. Korth, like Oswald, was from Fort Worth, and had represented Oswald’s stepfather in the divorce case against his mother.

The Office of Naval Intelligence
is the oldest (1881), smallest, most influential and least publicized of all official U.S. government intelligence agencies. The ONI mission statement says, “Naval Intelligence is part of the ‘corporate enterprise’ of military intelligence agencies working within the Intelligence Community. Naval intelligence produces and services support the operating forces, the Department of the Navy, and the maritime intelligence requirements of national level agencies. The Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI), located primarily in the National Maritime Intelligence Center in Suitland, Maryland, is the national production center for global maritime intelligence.”

“ONI is the center of expertise for every major maritime issue – from the analysis of the design and construction of surface ships to the collection and analysis of acoustic information on foreign sensor systems, ocean surveillance systems, submarine platforms and undersea weapons systems. Its analysis of naval air warfare ranges from appraisals of opposition combat tactics to analysis of rival missile signatures, making it the authorative resource for maritime air issues.”

“…Naval intelligence is under the command of the Director of Naval Intelligence, who also serves as the staff advisor on intelligence matters to the Chief of Naval Operations. The Office of Naval Intelligence is an echelon two command. The DNI also oversees the operations of the Naval Security Group (NSG), which is also an echelon two command.”

“ONI’s missions are established by law, serving the Secretary of the Navy by providing the intelligence needed to train and equip naval forces. The Office works closely with the Joint Intelligence Centers of the United and Specified Commands to ensure that they have the detailed background information needed to enhance their support to the joint operating forces.”


The Office of Naval Intelligence was established on March 23, 1882, founded by a linguist, Lieutenant Theodorus B. M. Mason. He was named the first Chief Intelligence Officer after he recommended the Navy “assign naval attaches to embassies and Negations throughout the world to collect intelligence on advances in naval science.” He also recommended that a section be created in the Office of the Secretary of the Navy “to assemble, correlate, and distribute reports on the intelligence gathered.”

According to the official history, “When Theodore Roosevelt became Assistant Secretary of the Navy in 1897, he quickly let it be known that he was going to work closely with office personnel. He believed Chief Intelligence Officers should provide advice and assistance to Department heads, as would Admiralty Board members in England’s Royal Navy.”

“In 1939, Rear Admiral Walter Anderson became the DNI. Anticipating the outbreak of war in Europe, he established a section to keep track of the world’s merchant shipping routes, a strategic information center to gather and furnish information on request, and a secret intelligence section to handle confidential agents….There were four different DNIs in the year prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor…The DNI and the Director of Communications disagreed over who would control the dissemination of communications – derived intelligence; the transcript of the Japanese Navy operational code was broken by the Office of Naval Communications, but the translation work was done by intelligence linguists. The conflict was resolved in the DNI’s favor.”

“In January, 1944, it assumed control of the Photographic Interpretation Center from the Deputy CNO’s Air Intelligence Center (NPIC)…Immediately after the war, the CNO was reorganized; and the DNI was titled Chief of Naval Intelligence, heading the Office of Naval Intelligence…In August, 1946, ONI was shifted to the Operations Division of OPNAV and absorbed the Operations Chartroom, which became the Operations Intelligence Branch; ONI then became formally involved in operational intelligence. At the same time, part of ONI’s organization, the Office of Naval Records and Library, was removed, combined with the Office of Naval History and placed under the Deputy CNO for Administration.”

“The National Security Act of 1947 required unification of military services and provided for greater coordination between intelligence activities of the various armed forces…the Chief of Naval Intelligence again became the DNI in November, 1948….The outbreak of hostilities in Korea dramatically increased ONI’s workload, resulting in authorization of new billets and the recall of Naval Reserve intelligence officers…”

“The Defense Intelligence Agency (DNI) was created in October 1961 to improve the effectiveness and responsiveness of Department of Defense intelligence products and activities…”

“Until 1963, it had been Navy policy to fill the DNI billet with an unrestricted line officer. Rear Admiral Rufus Taylor was the first Intelligence Specialist to hold the position of DNI….”


Other than the official history, the most authorative independently researched history of ONI is the two-volume work by Rutgers University (Camden, N.J.) professor Jeffrey M. Dorwart, “The Office of Naval Intelligence 1865-1919,” and “Conflict of Duty, The U.S. Navy’s Intelligence Dilemma 1919-1945,” (Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, Md., 1983).

[Note: Dorwart mentions that for interested researchers, ONI records are held at the National Archives Records Group 38, but they are generally restricted, classified and unavailable to the public.]

According to Dorwart, ONI agents, “….broke into safes, eavesdropped, vandalized private property and consorted with unsavory characters in pursuit of domestic pacifists and radicals. Still others interfered in the internal affairs of Latin American nations, dabbed in Asian politics, and accompanied Fascists Black Shirts into Africa. These men were not covert agents of the CIA, FBI or some elite American espionage team. They were U.S. naval and marine officers attached, between 1919 and 1945, to the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI), a relatively obscure bureau whose primary mission was to provide strategic and technical information for the U.S. Navy.”

“Dorwart explains the intense rivalry that developed among the military intelligence agencies during the war, how President Roosevelt utilized his own private espionage network outside the military and state department, and how the British tutored Roosevelt’s most important private spy, William “Wild Bill” Donovan.

Dorwart: “Successful information gathering trips for the president to Britain and to the Balkans and Middle East prepared the way, while his (Donovan’s) appointment in June as Coordinator of Information secured his place. As COI, he hired brilliant, creative and controversial assistants. He became close friends with (Ian) Fleming (assistant to Director, British Naval Intelligence) and Churchill superspy (Sir William) Stephenson, achieving unprecedented access to the very good British secret services. He stepped on the toes of other intelligence agencies, bypassed regular channels, and created interdepartmental jealousies – the kind of approach understood and admired by FDR…ONI appeared most perturbed by the competition from the fast moving civilian…”

The conclusion reached is the increasing reliance on crypto, cipher and communication and code intercepts and their translation, and the failure to properly analyze it, led to the intelligence failure at Pearl Harbor.

Though ignored in the official history, Dorwart manages to give credence to the Mafia connections with the U.S. intelligence community, which were first established by the ONI in New York. As Dorwart reports, “The sensational fire on the converted ocean liner NORMANDIE in New York harbor on 17 February accelerated security measures, especially waterfront control, port security and boarding patrols to interrogate passengers and search incoming vessels. In cooperation with other agencies ONI prepared a joint survey of New York harbor, and in a less covert operation began to send agents into the city’s seamy world of prostitution, organized crime, and racketeering in search of America’s enemies. Reportedly from March 1942 ONI cooperated with local crime syndicate leaders including Charles “Lucky” Luciano and Joseph “Socks” Lanza to locate leaks of convoy information along the waterfronts and infiltrate the fishing industry with ONI agents….”

The ONI’s flirtation with the Mafia, which was originally established to protect the Northeast ports from Nazi saboteurs, blossomed into a full fledged marriage when a deal was struck with the imprisoned “Lucky” Luciano to obtain Mafia assistance in preparing for the invasion of Sicily, which became known as Operation Lucky.


Navy Ensign John F. Kennedy was assigned to the ONI and was working as an ONI officer when he met his sister’s college roommate Inga Arvad of Denmark. As Miss Denmark 1931 Arvad attended the propaganda tinged 1936 Olympics in Berlin where she “charmed Adolph Hitler and his cohorts so much that she gained access to their inner circle, and was Hitler’s guest” at the Olympics.

As a 1940 student at the Columbia School of Journalism [which later received funding from the CIA front Catherwood Foundation], Arvad lived with JFK’s sister Kathleen when they both worked for the New York Times Herald. At the time JFK dated Arvad, she worked for the ubiquitous North American Newspaper Alliance (NANA), which also employed Ernest Hemingway when he liberated Paris with the OSS, Priscilla Johnson McMillan when she interviewed Oswald in Moscow and Virginia Prewett when she covered Alpha 66 operations in Cuba.

Kennedy and Arvad spent some time together in a Charleston, South Carolina hotel that was bugged by the FBI, and when Arvad’s background as a possible spy was established, Kennedy was transferred out of ONI to the PT boat squadron in the Pacific.

We do know that the ONI played a major role in the study of assassination and various ways, means and methods to accomplish it. At a NATO conference in Norway on the subject of stress in combat, U.S. Navy Lt. Commander (LCDR) Thomas Narut was quoted in the London Sunday Times as saying that such research is continuous, on going and operational.

According to Narut, “...combat readiness units…include men for commando-type operations and...for insertion into U.S. embassies under cover,…ready to kill in those countries should the need arise….U.S. Navy psychologists specially selected men for these commando tasks, from submarine crews, paratroops, and some were convicted murderers from military prisons...Research on those given awards for valor in battle [ie. Audie Murphy] has shown….that the best killers are men with ‘passive-aggressive’ personalities...Among the tests used is the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory. This consists of hundreds of questions, and rates personality on many traits including such things as hostility, depression, psychopathy...” The Times reported that, “The men selected were brought either to the Navy’s neuropsychiatric laboratory in San Diego, California (which also trains spys in techniques to counter interrogation), or to the laboratory where Narut works in the U.S. Naval Medical Center in Naples.”


Gerald Posner’s “Case Closed” (Random House, 1993), noted that when Oswald was tested by Dr. R. Hartog as a New York City delinquent, “Hartog’s diagnosis [of Oswald] was that of a ‘personality pattern disturbance….and passive-aggressive tendencies,” - just what the Navy psychs were looking for in potential assassins.

Following in the footsteps of his older brother, Lee Harvey Oswald joined the USMC as soon as he was legally of age, and was twice stationed in San Diego, California, home of the Navy’s “neuropsychiatric” lab where they taught counter-intelligence and interrogation resistance techniques.

Trained as a radar operator, Oswald was also stationed at Atsugi, Japan, where he occasionally stood guard duty at the U2 hanger. In 1956, Edwin P. Wilson was assigned to a sixty man detachment responsible for U2 security, which was based at North Las Vegas, Nevada, abut assigned overseas under cover of the Maritime Survey Associates, of 80 Boylston St., Boston, Mass. For some time Wilson served in Japan but he also was stationed at Adana, Turkey when Francis Gary Powers was flying out of there. Wilson would later, in 1971, serve in ONI’s Task Force 157, which was established by RA Rufus Taylor, who was director of ONI at the time of the assassination.

Oswald may have become involved in ONI counter-intelligence operations in Japan, (when DONI Rufus Taylor was also there) and where he is said to have been the target for recruitment by KGB assets. Although the Navy has refused to even admit that such a program existed, and some, like Otto Otepka of State Dept. Security, lost their jobs over it, there apparently was a Navy run defector program that included Oswald.

When Oswald left the USMC he returned to his hometown of New Orleans, from where he obtained, from a travel agency at the World Trade Mart, passage on a tramp steamer to Europe, the first leg of his journey to Russia. On his passport was stamped his occupation: “Import-Export Agent.”

In New Orleans at the same time, and the only time and place their careers and travels have thus far shown to overlap, Col. Jose Rivera, USAR was teaching at a local medical college. When Oswald was stationed at San Diego before his defection, although in the Army Reserves, Rivera was stationed at a Naval Research Center near San Francisco, California.

After Oswald defected, his honorable discharge was changed to “undesirable,” which infuriated him once he learned of it, and indeed, how could he be declared “undesirable” after he had already left the service. Another Catch-22.

Writing a letter to the Secretary of the Navy John Connally, Oswald compared his trip to Minsk was “like Hemingway went to Paris.” Now Priscilla Johnson McMillan, who knew Oswald in Moscow, wrote that Oswald compared his stay in Russia to when Hemingway went to Paris in the 1920s. But Oswald didn’t say the 1920s, when Hemingway lived there with the Lost Generation. He could have instead been referring to Hemingway’s liberation of Paris in 1944.

While working in liaison with the ONI in the Caribbean, Hemingway kept watch for Nazi subs and ships while fishing aboard his boat the Pilar, the fuel for which was supplied by the ONI. After D-Day however, Hemingway went to England, where his son was a British Special Operations trained JEDBERG. He was dropped behind the lines where he was captured and held prisoner until the war’s end. After D-Day, Hemingway obtained correspondent credentials and went to France, where he hooked up with an OSS contingent led by Col. David Bruce. Bruce would later become Hemingway’s best man and serve as John F. Kennedy’s ambassador to the Court of St. James (UK). After the fight for Paris was mainly over, Hemingway, Bruce and their commandos liberated the bar of the Ritz Hotel, which had been occupied by the German General command earlier that morning. Hemingway took a head count of his party and ordered sixty vodka martinis, shaken-not-stirred.

Oswald’s letter to Connally that mentioned “Hemingway in Paris” was received by the new Secretary of the Navy, Fred Korth, a Fort Worth attorney who knew Oswald’s family. Korth had to resign as Navy Sec in the weeks before the assassination because he was entwined with the controversial TFX jet fighter contract negotiations with General Dynamics and the Continental National Bank of Fort Worth. Korth was also present at the Hotel Cortez meeting when JFK and LBJ hashed out the details of the Texas trip.

When Oswald returned to Texas with his Russian wife, he met George DeMohrenschildt, who became a close friend. One of the more bizarre incidents between Oswald and DeMohrenschildt is the story of how DeMohrenschildt tried to get Oswald a job at Collins Radio by introducing him to a Collins executive - retired US Navy Admiral Chester Bruton.

DeMohrenschildt came knocking at Bruton’s door saying that he knew the previous owners of the house, and using his well-honed charm, managed an invitation to use Bruton’s pool, and invited Marina to use it as well. One day, while Marina and DeMohrenschildt were lounging by the pool with Bruton, Oswald arrived unannounced and stayed for lunch. Oswald didn’t get along very well with the Admiral, an officer and “lifer” and needless to say, he didn’t get a job at Collins. DeMohrenschildt tried to sell him on the fact that after all, Oswald did work in a radio factory in Russia. But the Collins Radio connections would later multiply and require closer examination [See: The Collins Radio Connections].

Bruton was a former nuclear submarine commander who was hired by Collins after he retired from the Navy. He was reportedly working on a new electronics system for communicating with nuclear submarines at sea. Operating under the code names “Binnacle” and “Holystone,” the ONI began using nuclear subs, not only for nuclear Polaris missile deterrent, but for electronic espionage. As mentioned in “Blind Man’s Bluff – The Untold Story of American Submarine Espionage” (By Sherry Sontag and Christopher Drew, Harper, 1998), “Congress okayed these popular proposals and offered up funding that caught the attention of the Office of Naval Intelligence. The Navy might have been promising an era that mirrored Jules Verne, but a few submarine espionage specialists now saw the means to launch a new age of spying that would be much closer to James Bond.”

“In addition to these operations off the Soviet Coast, some diesel subs carried Russian émigrés back to the Soviet Union to spy for the United States, and other diesel subs were landing commandos in places like Borneo, Indonesia and the Middle East to track the expanding Soviet influence. [Shortly after the failed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961, Navy commandos used diesel submarines to engineer the escape of prominent Cubans from Castro’s regime. Over several weeks, commandos slipped from the subs and rowed to shore in inflatable rafts. The Cubans who were piloted back to the subs often had to dive 15 to 30 feet through dark waters to enter the submerged craft through special pressurized compartments. May of those rescued likely would have been jailed or executed for plotting to overthrow Castro, according to former U.S. sailors involved in the operation.”

“Couriers met returning submarines at the dock, ready to whisk the intelligence directly to NSA headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland,” so it is interesting that Oswald met and leafleted the crew when the USS Wasp put into port at New Orleans.

After the shooting of Gen. Edwin Walker Lee Harvey Oswald took a bus from Dallas, Texas to his hometown of New Orleans, where through the efforts of an old family friend, Mrs. Myrtle Evans, he obtained an apartment on Magazine Street and then got a job at the Riley Coffee Company.

Two weeks earlier, in Washington, D.C., Dr./Col. Jose Rivera, USAR, gave Adele Edisen Oswald’s New Orleans Magazine street phone number - that’s two weeks before Oswald himself knew where he would be living. At the time, Dr./Col. Rivera, although in the U.S. Army Reserves, was officially stationed at the U.S. Naval Biological Lab at the University of California, Berkeley.

The ONI offices in New Orleans were in the same building where Oswald kept his Post Office box, just across the street from 544 Camp Street, the central base of various nefarious operations run by Guy Bannister. Although his record does not indicate he ever served in the Navy, Bannister is said to have worked with the FBI in New York when they were working with the Mafia in liaison with the ONI.

Bannister did have a friend, Guy Persac Johnson, served in ONI in the Pacific and later became Jim Garrison’s law partner and for awhile, Clay Shaw’s attorney. Guy P. Johnson was alleged to have a copy of the elusive “Homme Report” that ostensibly proves that RFK had a contract out to kill Castro.

Garrison mentions in a footnote to On The Trail of the Assassins, that the Louisiana State Police found a book in Guy Bannister's office on Naval Intelligence, by Admiral Ellis Zacharias.

One of Zacharias' literary collaborators was Ladislas Farago, who wrote a series of articles in 1963 on the woeful state of U.S. anti-submarine warfare preparation. He said they were lacking Congressional backing which hampered weapon research and the improving of technology and that the cautious spending would also result in mechanical deficiencies. About two months after Farago's material was published, the Thresher went down.

From New Orleans, Lee Harvey Oswald returned to Texas, via Mexico City around the same time that three men visited Sylvia Odio and her sister, one of whom was “Leon Oswald, an ex-Marine who could kill anyone, like the Secretary of the Navy.”

Around the same time, Edward Bray was visited by three men in suits who claimed to represent JFCOTT – Justice for the Crew of The Thresher, the nuclear sub that went down with all hands, ostensibly because of faulty hardware made by the Bendix corporation, for whom Bray worked. Like Odio’s visitors the JFCOTT visiters to Bray also threatened the President and Governor Connally, the former Secretary of the Navy. Bray even wrote to Connally to warn him of the threats. After the assassination, some people, like James Reston, Jr., son of the NY Times reporter, speculated that Oswald actually intended to shoot Connally rather than Kennedy.

In his book “Reasonable Doubt” Henry Hurt attributes some shady “bagman” activities in New Orleans to an unnamed former Navy man and Notre Dame alumni, while former D.A. Jim Garrison recalled being approached and threatened about his investigation into the Kennedy assassination and by Colorado oilman John Miller, who had attended the U.S. Naval Academy.

A number of Oswald’s former USMC shipmates return to action in the drama, including G.P. Hemming in San Diego, Kerry Thornley and A. Hiedell in New Orleans and Roscoe White in Dallas. Roscoe White, who sailed to Japan with Oswld, and later worked for the Dallas Police Department, allegedly worked under cover for ONI. According to documents obtained by his son, he received ONI typed orders:

Navy Int.
Code A. M R C
Remark data
- 1963

Remarks Mandarin : Code A :
C. Bowers
Re-rifle Code AAA destroy / on /

While this document has been questioned by some, it is very similar to two other documents that I have confirmed were official ONI documents, without a logo or official masthead, and a former Navy officer named C. Bowers was located living in New Orleans.

Two days after the assassination Det. Paul Bently of the Dallas Police Department received a letter from Robert D. Steel, Commander, USNR-R, of 7960 June Lake Drive, San Diego, California. Steel wrote Bently, “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.”

Paul Bentley was the chief operator of the department's polygraph unit. He and Allan Sweatt headed up the Texas Association of Polygraph Examiners. Bentley was of Oswald's arresting officers, had searched Oswald's wallet on way back to station and in his report stated, "On the way to City Hall, I removed the subject's wallet and obtained his name." No mention of "Hidell whatsoever. Ditto the other four cops in the car, who never called to testify by Warren Commission.

As for A. C. Sullivan, his full name is Arthur Carroll Sullivan, Jr. , who was in ONI 27 years, and also worked for the FBI and as an investigator for the Dallas DA.

During its investigation the HSCA learned from a former officer 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. The USMC investigators reportedly concluded that Oswald was incapable of committing the assassination alone. But that report has never been acknowledged let alone released, even though the officials were supplied with the plane’s tail numbers, flight data and the names of others aboard. The Assassination Records Review Board’s Final Report merely notes that, “the Marine Corps did not locate evidence of any internal investigations of Lee Harvey Oswald, other than correspondence already published in the Warren Report.”

Oswald had used A. Hidel and J. Evans as references on a document, and in the same page of the Warren Report they deny that either person exists, yet acknowledge that Oswald served with a Heindell in the USMC who lived in New Orleans at the time. And there was a Hidel bartender in Baton Rouge who knew the McCurley brothers, two of the guys who helped Oswald hand out FPCC literature. Then there was Julian - J. Evans, the husband of the women who knew the Oswald family for many years and helped Oswald find the Magazine St. apartment.

At 1:30 a.m. on 11/24/63, Mr David Kerr Office of Naval Intelligence, contacted SAIC Rice (New Orleans) by telephone, advising that a thorough search had been made of the Marine Corps records with the following results: There are four persons on active duty by the name of J. Evans, and twelve on inactive duty . . . He said that there was only one officer, Lieutenant John Stewart Evans . . . who might be associated with Oswald's reference. He further advised that there is no record of a "Hidell" either on active duty or inactive; and that the only similar name is John R. Heindel, age thirty-eight, born in Louisiana, who is not active, his record being available at the Federal Records Center, St. Louis. CE.” Heindel had served with Oswald in the Marines.

Adele Edisen had called New Orleans Secret Service SAIC Rice before the assassination to warn him about the threats Col. Jose Rivera had made against the President, and called again afterwards. She was interviewed by Rice and FBI liaison to the Secret Service Orrin Bartlett, but no records of this interview are known to exist.

Lamar Waldron and Tom Hartmann (in Ultimate Sacrifice/Legacy of Secrecy) have numerous confidential sources, one of whom they identify as a former ONI officer. (Ultimate Sacrifice p. 164)

"...Our confidential Naval Intelligence source - who had helped to compile the reports resulting from the 'tight surveillance' of Oswald since his return to this US from Russia - said that 'on the day of the assassination,' he and a coworker 'were called back to their office in Washington.' After receiving the orders from their commander, they 'destroyed and sanitized lots of the Oswald file.' Confirmation for such document destruction comes from FBI memos, which describe their own interviews with Marines who had served with Oswald. However, the FBI agents discovered that some of the Marines had earlier been interviewed by Navy Intelligence - but those Naval Intelligence reports are all missing, leading an FBI agent to say in a memo, 'Perhaps they have been destroyed.'"

The Naval Intelligence file our source handled in the fall of 1963 concerned only the close surveillance of Oswald, not any operational duties Oswald might have had. Those were apparently being handled by, or coordinated with, the CIA. Our source said there was 'a note on the top of the file jacket [that] said to contact the CIA if Oswald was arrested or got into trouble. There was a name and some sort of code given for someone at the CIA.' 43. The one person at the CIA who is alleged to have been in contact with Oswald is David Atlee Phillip. In his later autobiographical novel outline, Phillips wrote that Oswald was part of the effort to assassinate Castro and had 'used [against JFK] precisely the plan we had devised against Castro."

"Naval Intelligence and its close counterpart, Marine Intelligence (G-2) were components of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) headed by General Joseph Carroll. A journalist told former Senate investigator Bernard Fensterwald that 'Oswald had connections to an 'intelligence service...called the Defense Intelligence Agency...The General who...supposedly made the arrangements [was] General Joe Carroll, founder of the DIA...The Arm was going nuts over Oswald's part in the assassination.' Army Intelligence destroyed its entire Oswald file in 1973."

Among the ONI records requested by the ARRB, and located in ONI files by LCDR T. Pike were ONI records on American defectors to Communist block countries. Among those records should be files on Oswald and two NSA code clerks who had been based at Fort Meade defected to Russia. Before their joining the ranks of NSA Vernon F. Mitchell and William H. Martin served together in the Navy. Just after their defections, NSA Director Lt. Gen. John Samford retired citing health problems. He was replaced by the then Director of Naval Intelligence, Laurence Frost.

But those ONI defector records were never turned over to the ARRB.

It is also interesting to note that in the course of their defections Mitchell and Martin traveled to New Orleans and then on to Mexico and to Cuba where they boarded a Soviet fishing boat out of Havana, all familiar locations to assassination researchers.

In his Washington Post article on the dissolution of the ARRB, George Lardner, Jr. wrote a story headlined “JFK Assassination Board Closes on Critical Note.” (September 29, 1998)

“The Assassination Records Review Board, created out of a broad public conviction that the government was hiding important information, winds up its work this week after collecting and releasing thousands of previously secret records about President John F. Kennedy's murder -- and concluding that aggressive efforts are needed to pursue still more.”

“Required by law to close its doors Sept. 30, the small but independent agency said in a final 236-page report that its aggressive efforts frequently paid off, but that it is still worried that "critical records may have been withheld" from its scrutiny. The agency said it did not secure "all that was 'out there.’ The board also scolded the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board for insisting that ‘unique information’ in its files was not ‘assassination-related’ and demanding an ‘unnecessary [and] burdensome’ document-by-document justification.”

“The Kennedy presidential library in Boston was ranked as a disappointment for delays in sought-after papers from Robert F. Kennedy's files, even though they contain ‘a wealth of Cuba material,’ wrote Lardner, especially noting that, “The Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) was described as a puzzle, if not a black hole.”

“Oswald was a Marine before he defected to the Soviet Union and the board said a former naval intelligence specialist recalled how ONI conducted a post-defection investigation that produced at least a dozen reports about Oswald that crossed his desk. The specialist, Frank Reeves, said ‘the primary concern of the reports he read on Oswald was to ascertain what damage had been done to the national security by Oswald's defection.’ The board said it was unable to locate any such documents. Apparently the only ONI document on Oswald that the board mentioned was a Sept. 21, 1964, affidavit in the files of then-ONI Director Rufus Taylor, declaring that ONI ‘never utilized Lee Harvey Oswald as an agent or an informant.’”

But according to ARRB records, their official contact with ONI had reported to them that she had located defector records, reviewed them page by page and placed them in a special box marked for the ARRB, but the ONI officer was replaced, reprimanded and the records never released to the Review Board.

When the CIA director Richard Helms was asked by the HSCA about their interests in Oswald after his defection, Helms said that, “It would have been considered a Navy matter,” and recommended they talk to Rufus Taylor, who just happened to have died two weeks previous.

In the Final Report of the Assassinations Records Review Board it is noted “for the record” that ONI couldn’t locate any dcouments whatsoever of Admiral Taylor when he was director and that: “ONI stated that it conducted an extensive review of ONI records held at the 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 these records would be reviewed under Executive Order 12958 requiring declassification of government records. The Office of Naval Intelligence submitted its Final Declaration of Compliance dated May 18, 1998.”

[Note: I wrote most of this many years ago and included it in my unpublished manuscript The Divine Skein (cica 1994), and just now updated it to include some new information. I will try to footnote it asap.]

1 comment:

Mark A. O'Blazney said...

Absolutely riveting. Thank you.