Saturday, April 6, 2019

Double Identities in JFK Research

Double Identities

Double identities are the bane of all historical researchers, as we know, and have seen in the first few case studies.


While researching the background of John Barry, the first flag officer of the U.S. Navy, I found another John Barry who was also born in Ireland, lived in the same Philadelphia neighborhood, went to the same church, belonged to the same Irish Hibernian society and knew many of the same people, but rather than a sea captain he was a school master and author of the first book copyrighted in the United States.

John Barry – Father of US Navy

John Barry – Schoolmaster

There’s another Bill Kelly, besides me, who lived in Ocean City, N.J. when I lived there, and I’m lucky he is such a nice guy and now a Facebook friend, or I could blame him for getting me in trouble all the time.

There’s also another Bill Kelly involved in the investigation of the Kennedy assassination, a Florida policeman who is prominently mentioned in the book “The Tomali Squad,” because of his work with the Cuban refugees, and indexed in Vincent Bugliosi’s Reclaiming History.

Bill Kelly – Journalist
Bill Kelly – Florida Cop

My long time college mate and research associate John Judge – the director of COPA, once met another John Judge – a heavy metal rock guitarist, and they both looked remarkably alike, similar to the ZZ-Top guitarists. 

John Judge – COPA Director

John Judge – Guitarist

In the course of a Watergate era inquiry I called a retired military officer who was identified as William Gulley, a former White House Communications Agency (WHCA) officer, but Mr. Gulley told me that was his name and he was an military officer of the same rank, but a different guy, - he never worked for the WHCA. But that, he said as an afterthought, explains how he got all those invitations to White House social functions.

William Gulley – WHCA officer
William Gulley – US military officer

This problem wrecks havoc in JFK research.

As we have seen in the first few case studies, this is a recurring problem.

There were dozens of Cubans with the name Julio Fernandez, and two who come into play, both entirely different men - one a journalist and the other a JMWAVE maritime commando team leader.

Eugene Hale Brading changed his name to Jim Braden and a guy named Jim Braden I called in LA was really pissed off at me for disturbing him and said I wasn't the only one looking for the other Jim Braden - ala the Big Lebowski.

Then there were two Betty Mcdonalds, one a Ruby dancer and the other a Magnolia oil secretary.

And there were three Don Nortons - Don O. Norton a fisherman, the other a gay piano player in the military officer's club - Don P. Norton. A third one wrote a book on a major defense contractor.

John Armstrong has made a career out of describing two different Lee Harvey Oswalds, and has also found two Margaretes, his - their mothers.

Although their names are spelled slightly different, they have a similar law enforcement background so at first I was confused by Jack Revill, the Dallas police officer in the Special Services Squad who worked informants, and Jack Revell, the ex-USMC and FBI agent who became the head of the Dallas FBI office for many years. 

Jack Revill – Dallas Cop

Jack Revell – FBI Agent

There are so many Jack Martins that I can’t even count them all, but a few stand out, especially the “Jack Martin” who worked for Guy Bannister, the character played by Jack Lemon in the movie “JFK,” whose real name is Edward Stewart Suggs.

There’s also the Jack Martin who was an early suspect in the assassination, a religious fanatic from northern Louisiana who the Dallas Secret Service sent Special Agent In Charge (SAIC) of the New Orleans Secret Service office John Rice to investigate immediately after the assassination.

Jack Martin – aka Edward Stewart Suggs
Jack Martin – Northern Louisiana early suspect in assassination

Then there’s:

Jack Martin – Took films of Oswald handing out leaflets in New Orleans and Walker
Juan Martin – South American arms dealer in Dallas
John Martin – Chicago Union officer affiliated with Jack Ruby
John Barlow Martin – Interviewed RFK for JFK Library

There’s also a “Mr. Martin” who was frantically looking for Ruby on the night before the assassination, and a few other Martins turn up as well.

To confuse matters even further there were two Secret Service Agents in New Orleans named John Rice, John W. Rice, the aforementioned Special Agent in Charge and another federal agent involved in the assassination - J. Calvin Rice.

John W. Rice – SAIC New Orleans SS

J. Calvin Rice – SS Agent

There’s two Robert Morrows, one a former covert operative crank from Baltimore who wrote two books on the assassination, and the other a Texas assassination enthusiast who promotes the idea that LBJ was behind the assassination.

Robert Morrow – Baltimore, Maryland

Robert Morrow – Texas

From the files alone there are a number of cases of mistaken identity - including two Priscilla Johnsons, one the reporter, a CIA asset who knew both JFK and Oswald and another of the same name who got entwined in OSS intrigue during World War II.

Priscilla Johnson – American CIA

Priscilla Johnson – OSS Europe

There may be two Joe Campisis, one who served in the OSS during World War II and the other who owned a Dallas restaurant frequented by Jack Ruby, though it’s possible they may be one and the same person. If a researcher with the time could straighten that out it may prove worthwhile.

Joseph Campisi – OSS

Joseph Campisi – Dallas restaurant owner

When it was alleged that former JMWAVE CIA officer Gordon Campbell was at the Ambassador Hotel the night that RFK was assassinated, David Talbot and Jeff Morley determined that Gordon Campbell died in 1962, so it couldn’t have been him. But Army Ranger Captain Bradley Ayers remembers Gordon Campbell at JMWAVE a year after his death certificate says he died. Then I found another Gordon Campbell who worked for the Wright Company and had served in the Navy, so there were two Gordon Campbells with similar backgrounds.

Gordon Campbell – CIA JMWAVE
Gordon Campbell – USN

There are two Robert Steels among the Kennedy assassination records, one Navy Commander Robert Steel of San Diego who investigated Oswald’s defection and role in the assassination and Robert Steel from Pennsylvania, who reported on his sister’s neighbor Julio Fernandez, a Cuban newspaper editor who was acting suspiciously. When the HSCA asked the CIA for files on Julio Fernandez, they sent the files of twelve individuals with that name, but not the one they wanted.

Robert Steel - USNR ONI investigator in San Diego
Robert Steel – Brother of Pennsylvania neighbor of journalist Julio Fernandez


This brings us to Richard A. Sprague, the Philadelphia attorney and first chief counsel to the House Select Committee on Assassinations who was relieved of his job after it was realized that he was conducting a real investigation, and the case of mistaken identity that sparked this essay.

Richard A. Sprague, Esq. may be the most significant case study, and the one related to the assassination that deserves the most attention, because two official bodies – the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB) and the National Archives (NARA) apparently confused him with Richard E. Sprague, a JFK assassination researcher who collected photos, assisted New Orleans D.A. Jim Garrison in his investigation and contributed articles to Computers and Automation magazine in the 1970s.

And the result of this confusion has led to the fact that the files of the first chief counsel to the HSCA are not among the assassination records of the JFK Collection at the NARA, as the JFK Act of 1992 intended and requires.

Unlike the massive files of his replacement G. Robert Blakey, there are no personnel records on file in the JFK Collection at the NARA Archives II regarding Richard A. Sprague, Esq., first chief counsel to the HSCA. When Blakey took over he was determined to write a “final report,” and then declared his HSCA records “Congressional Records,” not subject to the Freedom of Information Act (FOA) saying, “I’ll rest on the judgment of historians in fifty years.” This required Congress to pass the JFK Act to spring them.

When he left Washington Richard A. Sprague, Esq. took his HSCA files with him back to Philadelphia, where they remain part of his private records, not open to the public as the JFK Act requires.

So while the complete record of Blakey’s tenure at the HSCA is pretty much open for the public to read, there are no records for Sprague’s tenure at the HSCA among the JFK Collection at the NARA, even though I called attention to them in my testimony at the first public hearing of the ARRB. This clearly indicates that the Review Board members and its staff did not listen closely to those who testified at the public sessions and certainly their staff did not follow up on what was clearly presented to them. This was not an isolated case.

When I more recently notified the NARA that I couldn’t locate Sprague’s records among the JFK Collection today, I was politely referred to the records of one Richard E. Sprague, but as I responded to them, that Richard Sprague was not a lawyer but a researcher from New England whose extensive photo collection and papers are included in the JFK Collection at NARA.

The NARA archivist wrote to inform me that:: 

 “Mr. Kelly, Thanks for bringing Mr. Richard A. Sprague’s files to our attention.  We searched the collection and concur that the collection does not contain a record series of Sprague’s files as Chief Counsel of the HSCA.  We also searched the records of the ARRB and did not find evidence that the review board discussed acquiring his records.  We’re contacting Mr. Sprague at the address you provided regarding a potential donation of his files.”   -  Best, A. D.  Archivist Special Access and FOIA Branch

Since I was previously referred to the records of independent researcher Richard E. Sprague when I requested the records of the chief counsel to HSCA Richard A. Sprague, Esq., it is apparent that the ARRB and NARA staff checked the name file and found the quite extensive records of the independent researcher Richard E. Sprague, and assumed they were the files of Richard A. Sprague, Esq., the first chief counsel to the HSCA, but in fact they are the files of the researcher, not the lawyer.

Despite the passage of the JFK Act and fifteen years after the ARRB disbanded, Richard A. Sprague, Esq. still has his HSCA files because historical archivists were confused by the files of someone else with the same name.

The NARA then politely asked Mr. Sprague about donating his HSCA files to the JFK Collection, and Sprague was also contacted by a group of independent researchers from CAPA who requested that Sprague allow them to copy the relevant records and release them to the public, but Sprague has not yet responded to either request.


1 comment:

SummerKaren said...

Not to mention the two unrelated George Bush es. The CIA often does this, they will intentionally hire people with identical names of celebrities, or help the careers of people with the same names to confuse people. They want to make every situation as confusing as possible so any place where the CIA is to blame gets harder and harder to explain.