Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Case Studies No. 12 and 13 Cummins Catherwood and James Bond

Case Studies No.12 and 13 - Cummins Catherwood and James Bond

I first heard of Cummins Catherwood in a Philadelphia Magazine article on the many Philadelphia connections to the assassination of President Kennedy on a mid-1970s anniversary. Most JFK assassination researchers know that Gaeton Fonzi got his start writing for Philadelphia Magazine, but this particular article was written by Mike Malowe, and included an interview with Ruth Paine, who lived in Philadelphia at the time.

According to the story, Catherwood had a foundation that was suspiciously associated with the CIA, but at first, I couldn’t figure out how the Catherwood Fund was associated with Ruth Paine or the assassination.

Then I read in “The Invisible Government,” by Thomas Ross and David Wise, a footnote that included the Cahterwood Fund as one of the many foundations used by the CIA to dispense covert intelligence operational funds.

So the next time I visited the clipping morgue at the now defunct Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, I checked out what they had on Cummins Catherwood and found a thick envelope of newspaper articles that referred to Catherwood.

Among them was an article that described him establishing the Catherwood Fund the same year the CIA was established and how he used the fund to build a boat – the schooner Vigilant, which he used for scientific expeditions that he wrote off as a tax expense. Another article concerned an expedition Catherwood took on the Vigilant to remote Caribbean islands and included four scientists – including James Bond, “whose main interest is birds.”

At first I thought it was a joke, and that one of the scientists used the alias of the world’s most famous spy as a prank, but then I looked at the date line of the article – 1948, years before Fleming wrote his book about James Bond – 007.

That night I visited a friend – Bill Vidka – the news director of the popular rock music radio station WMMR. As we sat around his living room playing records and drinking wine, I told him about reading Catherwood’s CIA affiliation, the Vigilant trip to the Caribbean and James Bond being aboard.

Vitka recalled having read that Ian Fleming took the name for his 007 hero from an American ornithologist – and when I got a copy of John Pearson’s official biography “The Life of Ian Fleming,” it contained the key reference that Fleming took the name for 007 from the author of the book “Birds of the West Indies,” a field guide by James Bond. It was a book Fleming kept on the breakfast table of his Jamaican retreat he called “Goldeneye,” where he wrote all of his 007 novels. Fleming said he chose the name because it sounded boring enough, but there is much more to the story.

So Ian Fleming took the name for his 007 spy from the author of the “Birds of the West Indies” book who sailed around the Caribbean with CIA bagman and covert operational bursar Cummings Catherwood.

I then read the Bulletin clipping file on James Bond and found that his wife Mary Wickham Bond had written a book on the subject – “How 007 Got His Name,” and obtained a copy of that book and Bond’s own “Birds of the West Indies.”

When I located him I took my copy of his book to his Chestnut Hill apartment, knocked on the door and was greeted by Mrs. Bond and asked if I could get Mr. Bond to sign my book.

She smiled and said, “Jimmy, there’s a young man here to see you.” Jimmy? I thought. Of course he is very American and not a British James.

I got to know James Bond pretty well, visiting him a half dozen times. When I asked him about Catherwood, he looked a little suspicious, and said he was a typical millionaire. From Mrs. Bond’s book I learned that Bond had been to Haiti during World War II and came across a German living in the mountains, and reported that to the FBI, but they seemed more suspicious of Bond being in Haiti than the German.

Bond was also at the Bay of Pigs a few months before the invasion in April of 1961, and from a bus driver, learned that there were many new roads leading to the swampy area, and I thought of this again when I saw British troops being briefed by a bird watcher about the local terrain of the Faulklands before they invaded those British island that had been taken over by Argentines. The CIA was probably negligent if they hadn’t queried Bond before the Bay of Pigs invasion.

In the end I came to realize that the real James Bond was a really good guy.

The same couldn’t be said for Catherwood.

Reading his clipping file I could tell what activities he was engaged in that were at the behest of the CIA. 

Catherwood and his wife went behind the Iron Curtain and visited the Soviet Union around the same time as Oswald was there.

Then there was the Catherwood Foundation’s sponsorship of the Cuban Aide Relief (CAR), that supported anti-Castro Cuban refugees – specifically professionals who had also opposed Batista. I believe that Julio Fernandez, (Case Study #1) the newspaper publisher who was relocated to Martinsburg, Pa. was one of those the CAR assisted.

According to the newspaper reports, Catherwood also supported the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia – a parish that Oswald’s wife was affiliated with in Dallas, and where she had her daughter baptized.

Catherwood also financially backed Catholic Cuban Welfare that established medical clinics for Cuban refugees in Miami, New Orleans and Dallas, the operation that Father Walter Machann was affiliated with when he associated with Silvia Odio and John Martino.

So Cummins Catherwood – the CIA’s bagman, was in the thick of things. 

JFKcountercoup: Catherwood Fund

JFKcountercoup: Cuban Aid Relief

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