Monday, July 1, 2019

John Judge Letter to ARRB Making Case for a Pentagon Coup

John Judge Letter to ARRB

Many thanks for the Assassination Archives and Research Center (AARC) to make this letter available. 

[ BK Notes: I will be annotating this letter with my comments and update on what records he requested were released since he wrote this. It is a shame that this letter comes from the AARC and not the COPA and Hidden History Museum files that are locked away in York, Pa., having been hijacked out of DC where John wanted them to remain open to researchers. ]

Timothy Wray (ARRB Staff)
April 25, 1996

Jeremy Gunn
Assassinations Records Review Board
600 E. Street, NW, 2nd Floor
Washington, DC 20530

Dear Jeremy,

Ann Buttimer requested that I set down in writing the possible sources of “assassination records” that may exist in confirmation of my working thesis of the events of November 22, 1963.

These records, if they exist, would have originated almost exclusively in the agencies of the U.S. government that have been the least forthcoming to date in cooperation with the requests and deadlines set by the JFK Act and the ARRB for document release and transfer. I refer specifically to military and military-related and miltiary intelligence agencies.

My thesis, based on 30 years of both documentary and first hand investigative research into the John F. Kennedy assassination is that the event was carried out as a covert military coup d’etat.

While this thesis is not the version most popularized in books and media presentations, it is not unknown in the research community, and has other proponents (including early researchers Penn Jones, Mae Brussell, Fletcher Prouty, Jim Garrison, and more recently Oliver Stone).

This thesis does not rule out participation by any other suspect elements (Mafia, CIA, Castro Cubans, etc.), but would rule out any Cuban or Soviet Union role. It does concern events which, if verifiable, suggest actions that are beyond any or all of these other group capabilities and control.

The mechanics of the assassination, as I understand them, also do not rule out a role by elements of the corporate or political leadership, informing or instructing the Pentagon players involved in the coup. This coup could have been initiated and sustained within the Joint Chiefs of Staff, but at some point non-military individuals had to have given assent to the cover-up, if not the crime.

As a model for such a coup d’etat, I recommend Edward Luttwak’s Coup D’Etat: A (Practical) Handbook, now out of print but accessable at the Library of congress. Many of the events of November 22 fit his description of the basic elements needed to overthrow a governmnet. That these elements were not generally recognized or discussed at the time adds the second element of a covert takeover.

There has been much public debate over motives for the murder, including the contention of researcher Peter Dale Scott, John Newman, Fletcher Prouty and Jim Garrision that Kennedy was planning to pull American troops out of Vietnam and end the war in 1963-64. Scott was forced to reconstruct the text of National Security Action memorand(a) at the time from other references. Prouty had actually helped to draft them just prior to the assassination. Eventually, the full text was released by the GPO in 1992, in State Department papers on South East Asia. Debate as to their nuance continues. Schlesinger, McNamara and others confirmed that Kennedy had these plans. McNamara recently mentioned an October 3, 1963 recording, still classified at the JFK Library, in which Kennedy can be heard discussing the withdraw plan with aides, and this should qualify as an “assassination record” in my view, and should be released.

I relied on a different source, my mother, Marjorie C. Judge was a 30-year civilian employee of the Pentagon almost since its inception (1943-1973). She retired at GS-13, and was the highest-paid women at the Pentagon for several years. She was a manpower analyst for the Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel (DCSPER), directly under the Joint Chiefs of Staff. She was 5 levels above top security clearance, and had access to the War Room for briefings. I would suggest that if personnel files no longer exist (as the Pentagon claimed to a Progressive magazine staffer recently who tried to verify her employment), her name, my father’s (John Joseph Judge) and my aunt’s name (Cyrene F. Cooley) will certainly appear in seeral DOD phone directories for the year 1963, with her phone and office number.  From the office number, and staff directories in the rear of the books, you could determine her superiors and co-workers at the time.

Her job was to project, quite accurately, national annual draft calls in advance, and to pass them on to the Selective Service System for planning purposes. She was given a current manpower force level by the Joint Chiefs, a projected force level they wanted to reach in the future (either higher or lower), and statistical tables that would help determine their need for additional personnel. She could project, in a given period, how many would die naturally or accidently, how many would retire, enlist, re-enlist, discharge in given categories, and need to be replaced. She would determine the annual totals needd to maintain force level, and then multiply them by five for the Selective Service calls. This multiplication took into account that 50-55% would disqualify at the physical, 10-15% would be deferred or exempted by local boards, and 10-15% would refuse to show or cooperate, leaving 20% available, cooperative draftees they wanted.

From another office, above her level of clearnce (Daniel Ellsberg revealed there were at least 15 levels above top secret), my motehr would receive combat death and disabling projections. This was a “plans office” at the Pentagon, but I don’t know its exact designation. The Pentagon phone books may again be helpful. These figures would also be calculated into her projections. She had to project annual national draft calls, broken down in those days into state and local board quotos by Selective Service. I belived one place record might be found that reflect these events is at the Selective Service System Headquarters, or their archives. My story will show you why I feel they are “assassination records.”

My mother had to project these national, yearly figures accurate to within 100 people  either way, in years when hundreds of thousands of people were being drafted. She had to come up with that level of accuracy five years in advance. I remember her fretting each year as the real figures came in, but she was always on target. After she retired, I asked her about plans for the Vietnam war, since she would have been among the first to know them. She told me that in the spring of 1963 she was told to project a phased with drawl of troops, with all troops out by the end of 1964, a with drawl plan. I then asked her when they told her they would escalate in Vietnam.

“Late Novemer of 1963,” she said tersely. I asked her if it was the last week in November, since Kennedy was killed on Friday, the 22nd. “The Monday following the assassination,” she replied. I asked if it was a few more advisors, how large an escalation. “I couldn’t believe the figures,” she told me. “I took them back to the Joint Chiefs office, and I said, “These can’t be right.” And they said, ‘Those are the figures and you’ll use them.’”

This was, effectively, the first civilian protest to the Vietnam war. This was November 25, 1963, with Kennedy barely in the grave. The NSAM’s that are under debate were signed by LBJ over that weekend. This was a complete reversal of policy, and it shocked my mother enough to question the accuracy of the projected combat figures to her superiors. The figures they gave her were for a full-scale war. “A ten-year war, with fifty-seven thousand dead,” she told me. Exactly on target, and exactly the opposite of what John F. Kennedy was planning. This was the war that LBJ carried out.

I don’t know enough about the Pentagon process to tell you where you would find such records about this, or whether they would be willing to release them. This kind of projection may itself be a classified process. But somewhere, records should exist that show there was an immediate and massive change in policy following the Kennedy assassination.

This policy originated, at least in part, at special meetings of the Kennedy cabinet members in Honolulu that same weekend. Any and all records concerning that meeting should also fit your definition, and should be sought for release. Moving almost all the major operational heads of state outside the country  the day of the assassination also fits the pattern of a coup.

In addition, I have indications that their most critical communications link to the President was cut. Pierre Salinger relates in his book on the Kennedy years that the “code book” was missing on the military flight bringing the cabinet members back to this country, when they learned of the assassination. This “code book” is a decryption or deciphering manual for verifying and understanding “command and control” messages from the President and other authorized communications to critical government officials and military operational commands and personnel, especially in times of emergency.

During the Vietnam war years, I worked as a civilian counselor to enlisted and drafted members of the military, and to veterans. As part of my work, I met with enlisted men and officers at Wright Patterson AFB in Dayton, Ohio. Several disaffected pilots spoke to me in 1973 on the base who had been with the Strategic Air Command on the day of the Kennedy assassination.

These pilots were in the air, as part of a three-shift, 24-hour readiness pattern, at the time Kennedy was killed. They picked up “radio chatter” that the President had been shot in Dallas. Assuming that an alert of some kind would be ordered, or that instructions would be given, one pilots and his co-pilots used a simultaneous key procedure to open the locker containing decrypting code books for use in such emergency situations. They were surpised to find the code book missing from the locker. They spoke to other pilots on the same shift once they landed at SAC headquarters ( I believe this was in Omaha, Nebraska at the time), and other reported the same situation, no code books aboard.

My understanding from them is that these code books were changed on a regular basis, and carefully handled by a chain of command and control that went from the Pentagon down to the plane. Verification of the message is the first step in the process, since false communications or codes could be sent in a wartime situation, and this relies on the decryption sequence in the book. Effectively, if this story is true, the nuclear defense of the United States was compromised at the hour of the JFK murder.

Records concerning November 22-23 at SAC headquarters and the Pentagon should be sought to confirm these matters. The person who developed the SAC procedures and implemented the program was General Curtis LeMay, then Secretary of the Air Force and parat of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

One of the first released JFK files I sought out was the NSA file on DEFCON, or Defense Condition on the day of the assassination. Only a few sheets were included, but they are significant I believe. This “condition” relates to stages of national security alert and readiness for war. These range from 5, a standard readiness level, to 1, a full alert level. 

Within CONUS, or “Continental United States” military commands and bases, the national DEFCON did not change that day, according to these records. Nor did it change in USAREUR (Europe), SOUTHCOM (South and Central America), or elsewhere, save in Vietnam, which was switched from a 5 to a 4. DEFCON status, which is a listenin alert, preparing for added readiness commands.

I found it curious that, with the President just assassinated, and with a prime suspect identified later that day as a “Communist,” known defector, and a “pro-Castro” activist, that there would not have been some sort of alert on a national, if not international level. If the Joint Chiefs had no idea about who had killed the President, or if they had reason to suspect the Soviet Union was involved, would there not have been reason to go to a readiness alert? Apparently the message the SAC pilots expected to get never came through.

I did learn subsequently from several sources, including G.I.’s, that base alerts were implemented on November 22, 1963, including full readiness for combat deployment and transport at some locations. Planes at some bases were wheeled out onto runways, readied for takeoff, engines running, and then called down near the end of the day. Active duty personnel were called back to base at the time of the assassination was announced, and in some cases were readied for overseas deployment, then released after a few hours.

Once source of these reports is the Ann Lander’s book  “Where Were You?” which includes hundreds of letters from readers around the country describing the memories of the moment they heard about the assassination and their activities that day. One such report, in a section on people in the military, refers to such base report orders, and a planned invasion of Cuba.

You might want to consider asking Ann Landers to donate the tens of thousands of letters she received on this topic which were the basis for the book. Especially the military and government  employee letters would be of interest to researchers.

I have also gotten several other indicators that there was a planned invasion of Cuba that day. At our public event in Dallas last year, a man spoke to me in private about his activities the day Kennedy was killed. He had dropped his wife off to see our films and presentations, and refused to sign-in on our registration forms. He returned to pick up his wife, and then called me aside. He asked me who I thought was responsible for the assassination, indicating that he had heard the “Mafia” was mentioned. I said the planning, in my view, came from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the mechanical level involved the Office of Naval Intelligence. At that point, he told me he was with ONI back then, a with a SEAL (sic - Frogman) team that had been prepared and scheduled to go into Cuba and kill Fidel Castro that day.

If my thesis is correct, the planners of the assassination had hoped to use Oswald’s “pro-Castro” identification as an excuse to blame Cuba and Castro for the murder, providing an excuse to invade. These plans may have been cancelled because Oswald survived and might have talked from jail or blown the cover story.

Records from the existing NSC (National Security Council) section working on Cuba at that time, and any special operations regarding Cuba from that week might be revealing. Pentagon and CIA records on Cuba and Fidel Castro and U.S. planning and response from that day would reveal such preparations, if not the relation to Oswald. Also, base records must exist for November 22 at large military installations that still exist. Ft. Ord is the base from which the invasion plan was apparently being launched, for example. Have these records been requested at any point? All Dallas area and Texas base records and military intelligence records should be sought as well.

Also, if my thesis is correct, it could explain the lack of an alert DEFCON status that day. If members of the Joint Chiefs were planning the assassination coup, they would realize there was no external threat. They may have wanted to be sure that no one outside the “need to know” circle would respond inappropriately, though. This would be especially true if Oswald was planted as the patsy consciously, to make the link to Communism and Cuba for the public and policy planners outside the loop. However someone, might have over-reacted to this, and might have called for war with the Soviet Union. Disarming the SAC bombers prevented that, and prevented anyone else in the chain of command from interfering with the coup itself.

This is speculative, of course. However, records may exist that document, or perhaps even explain the events of that day at the level of military operations. I believe the A.R.R.B. should seek these records. General Curtis LeMay, according to the same DEFCON files, was rumored to have died in a plane crash that afternoon, and the Pentagon press office was responding to that rumor. Was this a cover story intentionally planted for some reason?

LeMay, no friend of the Kennedy brothers, was also seen a the Kennedy autopsy, sitting in the bleecher section by Paul O’Conner and reportedly by Humes. Are there Bethesda Hospital records or witnesses who could tell us who was there that day?

Public reports show that United States Marine Corps Commandant Shoup was at Bethesda for his annual physical at the time of the assassination. Was he outside the loop?

In later years LeMay suported the war in Vietnam. Shoup opposed it. Do we have any record of their positions in 1963? Have day records been sought from the office of the Joint Chiefs, the Secretary of Defense, or the various Defense Secretary offices for each branch?

Both my mother and my aunt related to me at different times the events at the Pentagon that day. The government phone system, an inter-agency system that was securable for private or classified discussions, went out of operation that afternoon at the same time news of the assassination reached their offices. It was down for approximately two hours. This was not the commercial system, but the inter-agency communication lines that would haave been most likely to be used during such an emergency. 

Most of the heads of the cabinet-level agencies were out of the country at the time as well. These lines were maintained by some branch of government or some subcontractor. Can records be located concerning this problem? Such control would have been modus-operandi for a coup.

Army intelligence agents appear to have played a role in Dallas during the assassination. Surveillance of Oswald by local Army Intelligence preceded the event  James Powell, one agent, was on the scene and in the Book Depository following the shooting. Recently released files indicate that the “Secret Service agents” on the knoll were in fact from Army Intelligence. One witness to the ARRB in Dallas suggested that Army Intelligence filmed the assassination that day.

The 112th Military Intelligence Command, stationed nearby, seems to have played a role. Army Intelligence files have been located concerning Oswald, but not yet released. These records should be pursued actively, especially at the local base level  and unit level.

Office of Naval Intelligence must have records. Among the assassination related characters with reported ONI links are Oswald, Bannister, Ruby, Nixon, Gordon Novel, William Sullivan and Cartha Deke DeLoach of the FBI and others.

I spoke with the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and the director of their FOIA program at a public event. Both claimed that an agency search for assassination related records had been done, but nothing had been located. I have reason to believe that this is a deception, and that files do exist there which were intentionally not located. This agency has 100 times the budget of the CIA and FBI combined, yet Senator Otis Pike was unable to get a copy of their legal charter on the grounds of “national security.”

Additional records may be found at subcontracting agencies of the Pentagon and CIA, used to carry out national security functions, or as cover for convert operations and military support. One such agency, whose personnel apear at many points during the events of November 22 and subsequently, is Collins Radio, now called Collins Communications and is a subsidiary of Rockwell International .

Jack Crichton, a military officer, was conversant with the Oswalds, and helped Marina get dental care at Baylor University dental school, (and later used for the forensic evaluation of the re-interred Lee Oswald.
Kenneth Porter, Marina’s second husband, was an employee of Collins Radio. Collins owned a ship, The Rex, which was used in a covert raid against Cuba in 1963. Collins Radio also had a contract for secured radio communications ground-transfer to and from Air Force One on November 22, which would also have been critical for a coup operation.

During the recent flap in Washington over the secret funding of a new building in Virginia to house the  National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), it was revealed that the rental checks were being sent to Collins Communications in Richardson, Texas.

Other sub-contracting firms of importance in my view include the Sam Bloom Advertising Agency (Puterbauch and Elizabeth Harris ) which did advance work on the Dallas motorcade and also contracted out their equipment to Jaggers Chiles Stoval for use by their employee Lee Harvey Oswald. Jaggers Chiles Stoval is also of interest, since they provided analysis for photographs taken by the U-2 spy craft that led to the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, when Oswald  was working for them. Schlumberger in New Orleans, and the companies used by Shaw, including the World Trade Center, Centro Commerciale Mondiale, Permindex and Double-Chek.

The removal of the President’s body to Bethesda Naval Hospital, preventing a local autopsy and inquest, and confusing the evidentary trail for years, also reflects possible military planning and cover-up. It may be only coincidental but the Naval Museum of Medicine, established at the site which now houses the Bethesda Naval Hospital, was the site for the autopsy of Abraham Lincoln by military doctors, and the funeral company that embalmed Lincoln, Garrow’s in D.C., also prepared JFK for the grave.

On the other hand, it may be that when things aren’t broken, you don’t have to fix them.The bitter, long argument between the Secret Service and GWU Hospital officials on whether or not President Reagan should be moved to Bethesda instead, and the insistence of the chief of the trauma section that kept him at GWU (“no mater how much the Navy yells?” asked the ABC commentator), as well as the original reported route of limousine towards Bethesda give me similar reasons for suspicion in this regard.

Any and all records, privately or publicly held, concerning the Bethesda autopsy and operations should be aggressively pursued. Dennis David, a Bethesda employee who was recently interviewed by Nigel Turner, suggests that a film of the autopsy, and other photographs of “slides” (smear or other physical evidence glass slides?) existed in the possession of Lt. Pitzer that are not mentioned in the official inventories. Chain of custody of evidence records may still exist in the files for items collected, or tested by the staff members.

The U.S. military had motive, means and opportunity for such a coup and assassination, in ways that other groups blamed with the murder did not. The emerging “military-industrial-complex” of the post-war economy was perceived as a potential threat by President Eisenhower. These other groups may have been involved intentionally at the mechanical level, to allow them to take credit at first and blame later, concealing the real planners. Both the FBI and the CIA heavily relied on information and technical support from the Pentagon for their spying and covert operations.

The earliest known arrangements between organized crime and U.S. intelligence were not the CIA/Mafia assassination plots against Castro, but World War II arrangements for assistance in the invasion of Sicily by Patton’s Third Army set in motion by Lucky Luciano (later honored for his “wartime services” and released from prison by Thomas Dewey, who had earlier convicted him), and Don Caligaro Vizzini in the Mafia enclaves outside Palermo, who led the way for Patton’s unopposed thrust into the mountains. From then on, the Third Army was nicknamed “Lucky Forward.” Other arrangements were made between the Mafia at the docks in New York and the Office of Naval Intelligence, ostensibly to prevent sabotage, in 1942, tagged “Operation Luciano.”

CIA plots against Castro and Cuba inevitably involved military operations as back-up or as an actual invasion force. Pentagon planners, like General Edward Lansdale, were at the center of Operation Mongoose and related groups. Elements of the paramilitary right wing groups were also provided weapons and even weapons training by military intelligence and base personnel over the years. The players and organizations most commonly named as suspects in the JFK assassination had historical ties to and roots in military intelligence operations.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff and the emerging southern-rim economy of the military-intelligence-complex would fall immediately under any “qui bono” analysis of the Kennedy murder and subsequent militaray build-up and continuation of the Cold War. The architects of that Cold War sat as members of the Warren Commission , and not least among them Allen Dulles, John J. McCloy, Earl Warren, and John Sherman Cooper.

In the final analysis, you do not have to posit or believe my thesis to search out these records, but I hope my facts and analysis at least suggests to you that there may be “assassination-related” records, even if not pursued as part of the earlier investigations. The records of activities of all government agencies in the window surrounding November 22, 1963, both before and after the event, seem to qualify as such to  I do not suggest that you limit your search and collection to this area or even to the suggested files my research might point to, but that you sweep as broadly as you are able. It does not bode well, in my view, that the agencies I feel may be the most complicit in this crime are the same ones that are the least cooperative with the JFK Act.

Thank you for your time and consideration in this matter. I know I am only one of many researchers that have written or called you in a similar vein. In fact, I am probably more responsible than others for what must be a deluge of correspondence by these people. I do not “know” what happened on the day Kennedy was killed, but I think I have found a truthful hypothesis about the event. Even with all government records released the historical truth may not be revealed to us. We may learn, to some extent, what did not happen instead. But, until we can look, we cannot see clearly.

I hope I have not added to your burdens unduly. I support the work you have done to date, applaud your level of organization and success, and promote your further efforts while you still have legislative life and funding. Were it up to me, you would be a more permanent fixture, or at least a model for future ones. Your impermance, however, has allowed for certain dynamics that promise your success. The research community, for all its faults, and despite it’s dissonant elements, is made up in large part by honest people who want to find the truth about our own history. The Review Board is contributing immensely to that process, and whether we seem critical at times, or fail to praise at others, we know it.

Signature John Judge

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