Tuesday, August 27, 2019

The Significance of the Higgins Memo

The Significance of the Higgins Memo – The Most important Document Released Under the JFK Act, 
So Far

By Bill E. Kelly billkelly3@gmail.com 

There have been a number of serious attempts to determine exactly what we have learned from the millions of documents and records released under the JFK Act of 1992 – the Assassination Archvies and Research Center (AARC), Mary Ferrell, Black Vault,  Rus Baker’s WWW, CAPA, and even Microsoft have contributed to reviewing them. I have reviewed their results, and can report that many are more confused than ever over the wind fall of JFK assassination records, that no one person can ever read in full.

As someone who is familiar with all of the published literature on the assassination as well as the records relased under the JFK Act at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) I can attest that while there are no “Smoking Gun” document that proves there was a conspiracy, there are many significant documents, and many hundreds and thousands that give us a greater insight into the inner-workings of the Kennedy government at the time of the assassination. And they provide many clues as to who killed JFK, how they did it, why they did it, and how they got away with it.

From my perspective the Higgins document is not a “Smoking Gun” but is certainly a “Smoking Document,” and is what I consider the single most important document so far released under the JFK Act for a number of reasons.

When asked exactly why this is such an important document I decided to write this analysis.

For starters, the date – September 25, 1963 – is a key time in the master chronology – as a lot of pieces were being moved around what David Talbot callas “The Devil’s Chessboard.” 

[See: Assassination Chronology September 1963 - https://jfkcountercoup.blogspot.com/2019/08/jfk-assassination-chronology-september.html  )

Then there’s the Document Source: ACSI – which most people won’t recognize as the Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence – one of the most ubiquious but least known military intelligence agency with offices in the Pentagon. 

[See: Colonels at Dealey Plaza - http://jfkcountercoup.blogspot.com/2019/01/following-acsi-colonels-around-board-dp.html ]

Colonel Walter Higgins, the author of this report – meeting minutes –was an aide to General Victor “Brute” Krulak. If you look at Krulak’s career, he spent one year in the Pentagon with a unique title of Special Assistant for Counter-Insurgency Activities under the Joint Chiefs of Staff with the job of providing the military support to the CIA’s covert intelligence operations, especially in Cuba.

The purpose of the meeting is for the Joint Chiefs of Staff to be briefed on those very operations by the CIA’s Demsond FitzGerald, head of Task Force W – the Cuban covert policy making body with offices in the basement of the CIA’s new Headquarters. FitsGerald took over Task Force W in October 1962 from William Harvey, who was sent to Rome as the CIA’s Chief of Station.

Probably the most significant aspect of this meeting is the fact that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Maxwell Taylor – was absent, on a special mission for the President to Vietnam, so Air Force Chief of Staff General Curtis LeMay was temporary chairman and ran the meeting.

According to Higgins, the meeting got right down to the key aspects of the US policy and CIA covet operations against Cuba in discussing the relative merits of the anti-Castro guerrilla commando attacks on Cuban economic targets run out of JMWAVE, the CIA’s base in Florida.

Higgins wrote: “General LeMay opened the meeting by referring to papers recently discussed by the Joint Chiefs on policy and actions concerning military support of the CIA for operations against Cuba. General LeMay expressed the JCS position as had been reflected in the memoranda to Mr. Vance which in effect is that the Joint Chiefs do not believe that the operations to date are of a size and importance enough to justify the use of military support for protection.”

“Mr. FitzGerald then discussed his personal feelings as to changed conditions in Cuba. Essentially, he believes that Castro's hold in Cuba has been seriously weakened since last July. He believes that the minor raids conducted by the CIA have contributed to this deterioration in Castro's influence and stability. He is firmly convinced that Castro will fall at some future, not too distant, date, and that such actions as the CIA are conducting, as well as those of exiles, are contributing to unrest and unsettlement.”

“Mr. FitzGerald, in commenting upon criteria as to when the military support should be provided, offered the following. The greatest danger from his point of view is that the mother ships may be captured rather than be sunk. This will result in the capture of crewmen who have too much information and which could result in dangerous publicity for the United States. The location of these raids contributes to the possibility of capture. Hence, only when the raids are conducted in the more vulnerable areas from that point of view, is it likely that the CIA will request military support. He further stated that CIA has no intention of requesting aid for the coming raid.”

[BK Notes: On November 1, 1963 the New York Times ran a photo of the CIA raider ship REX on its front page and a story of Castro’s complaints that the Rex deposited a team of assassins with high powered rifles, who were captured and confessed to have been trained by the CIA.]

“General LeMay questioned the danger of capture in view of the capabilities of Cubans and ridiculed the idea that small motor boats should have the capability of such a ship. General LeMay and others gave opinions concerning such technicalities as the capability of radar both on land and in the air, capability of ship radar of the U.S. and Cuba, the speed of the mother ship, which was cited as 10 to 12 knots, and other related items.”

 “In responding to the question concerning the non-attributality of U.S. equipment, he stated that all equipment they use could be bought on the open market in many countries, even though it was of American origin. He stated that intelligence was not as good yet as they would like to have; however, they are having greater success in having agents enter and depart Cuba.”

US Army Chief of Staff, “General Wheeler injected that he sympathizes with such planners as Mr. FitzGerald because he realizes that many good ideas are never accepted by the cautious policy makers. However, Mr. FitzGerald reported that he believes he had a clearer go-ahead on these operations than he has ever had in his past experience.”

The US Marine Corps Chief of Staff Gen Shoup chips in: “In response to a comment by General Shoup regarding the sabotage of mines Mr. FitzGerald said there had been a recent case of internal sabotage in a mine. He then explained how the success of his operations can only be measured when internal sabotage is increased. In response to a question, he admitted that there was not any coordination as yet with the internal sabotage program.”

The Key Paragraph in Higgins Memo that I have tried to follow up on is:

 “He (FitzGerald) commented that there was nothing new in the propaganda field. However, he felt that there had been great success in getting closer to the military personnel who might break with Castro, and stated that there were at least ten high-level military personnel who are talking with CIA but as yet are not talking to each other, since that degree of confidence has not yet developed. He considers it as a parallel in history; i.e., the plot to kill Hitler; and this plot is being studied in detail to develop an approach.”

FitzGerald said that “this plot is being studied in detail” – yet, when Washington D.C. FOIA attorneys Jim Lesar and Dan Alcorn requested this detailed study, the CIA was unable to locate any reference to the July 20, 1944 German military plot to kill Hitler, but when sued in civil court, they came up with a single document from 1954 that blamed the failure of the plot on communists.

In applying Professor Peter Dale Scott’s “Negative Template” theory – that the most significant records were destroyed, missing or still being withheld – the CIA’s “detailed study” of the Valkyrie plot to kill Hitler must then certainly be significant.

While the reference to the CIA’s study of the July 20, 1944 German military plot to kill Hitler “to develop an approach” to be used against Castro is the most important aspect of this meeting, the Higgins memo also mentions other interesting things that can and should be studied further, such as the radio communications technique that Air Force officer McElroy knew of.
“General LeMay then questioned the advisability of utilizing a communication technique to install a radio capability which would permit break-in on Castro broadcasts. He stated that an Air Force officer named McElroy was available to talk to Mr. FitzGerald on the matter, and Mr. FitzGerald accepted this offer.”

“The conference closed with General LeMay directing that Mr. FitzGerald's planners meet with General Krulak's people and work out the details as to how the military can assist in supporting these operations. After Mr. FitzGerald departed, General LeMay gave added directions to Colonel Higgins to initiate necessary steps for planning.”


Then there’s Admiral Riley’s read-only letter regarding secrecy and security measures related to CIA Cuban operations.

“After the JCS meeting Admiral Riley called Colonel Higgins into his office and read a letter from Mr. McGeorge Bundy which discussed secrecy measures necessary related to Cuba CIA operations. Admiral Riley directed Colonel Higgins to have the nature of this letter put out through SACSA control to SACSA contact points to insure an adequate system for secrecy within the military services. Admiral Riley stated he was returning the letter to Mr. Gilpatric as he did not want written communication by SACSA, but to put this out orally. This was transmitted to Colonel Wyman who will take the action to prepare an appropriate memorandum for the record to be filed with General Ingelido in accordance with further direction by Admiral Riley.”

While Gilpatric is familiar, Colonel Wyman and General Ingelido are new names to me and should have more detailed profiles. There are documents released under the JFK Act from the files of McGeorge Bundy that may reflect on these secrecy and security measures.

“General Wheeler, Chief of Staff of the Army, called and questioned us concerning SACSA's access for the knowledge of such operations as mentioned in the McGeorge Bundy letter. I advised him that our Pendulum system was in being but that I would look into it in greater detail to determine that it met the letter as well as the spirit of the memorandum. I stated I believed this was so but had not had reason to do it until this date and therefore did not give him a positive answer at that time.”

“Our Pendulum system was in being” – must refer to a security measure that I have not seen anywhere else. What is it?


The JFK Presidential Library in Boston has a web site with an interactive JFK Oval Office desk top with a calendar of dates – so I looked up September 25, and found that it is the date JFK left on his conservation tour – first stop being a visit with his longtime friend and paramour Mary Pinchot Meyer to her mother’s house in Northeast Pennsylvania. 

Mary had married and was separated from Cord Meyer, Jr., the CIA officer responsible for the International Organizations Division, and son of airplane pioneer Cord Meyer, Sr., who co-founded the Civil Air Patrol with D. Harold Byrd, the owner of the Texas School Book Depository.

But a few days earlier, on September 23, 1963 the White House Diary notes that on this date JFK signed a Natonal Security Action Memo written by McGeorge Bundy that reads: “President Kennedy assigns the highest national priority to Project FOUR LEAVES to develop and produce a military communications system.”

Although the Pendelum security system and Project Four Leaves – military communications system, are only mentioned once – they appear to be important – yet we have no published references to either of them, and like the CIA’s “detailed study” of the German military plot to kill Hitler, to be developed for use against Castro, the lack of published references only increases their potential value in understanding the Kennedy presidency and his assassination.

Related Links
JFKcountercoup: Valkyrie At Dealey Plaza - Updated
JFKcountercoup: VALKYRIE at Dealey Plaza III - The Saga Continues
JFKcountercoup: AARC v. CIA Re: The CIA's Detailed Study of the Hitler Plot
JFKcountercoup: Kelly Declaration AARC v. CIA Re: Detailed Study of Hitler Plot

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