Sunday, December 29, 2019

Walking the Razor's Edge - The Dutchman and the Barron

Walking the Razor's Edge - The Dutchman and the Barron 

Walking The Razor's Edge: The Dutchman and The Baron

Walking the Razor’s Edge – The Dutchman and the Barron (2019) By Tommy and Hilde Wilkens

Anyone interested in the life of the Patsy, the accused assassin of President Kennedy – Lee Harvey Oswald, knows all about George deMohrenschildt, the eccentric oil geologist who patronized Oswald when he returned to Texas from the Soviet Union. 

The tall, enigmatic White Russian Barron was probably the most influential person in Oswald’s life and has been the subject of much interest, and I didn’t think there could be much more said about him today, but boy was I wrong.

The Wilkens’ “Walking the Razor’s Edge” is chock full of new names, incidents and deep background events that puts a lot of what we knew previously in context, and what a context it is.

“The Razor’s Edge” title comes from the Somerset Maugham book of the same name, and it’s no coincidence that Maugham was a secret British agent and spy as well as novelist, and so was George deMohrenschildt.

Shortly after his third marriage deMohrenschildt and his wife took a walk about hike through Central America and made a 8 mm home movie of their travels, which included a stop at the remote training camp where the anti-Castro Cubans were preparing for the Bay of Pigs. DeMohrenschildt showed the film at house parties, one of which included CIA Dallas Domestic Contacts Division chief J. Walton Moore, and another time Lee Harvey Oswald. Trying to locate that film was the first request I made to the National Archives, but Marion Johnson, then curator of the JFK collection, said they didn’t have it and didn’t know where it was.

The Wilkens got access to the extensive private papers of the late Willem Oltmans, a Dutch journalist who befriended deMohrenschildt and probably learned more about him than anyone, and they synthesize the extensive archives into the a very well written, readable and concise text that adds a lot to the JFK assassination story without getting into the acoustics, ballistics, films and forensics that bogs down so many other researchers.

While I thought this would be a quick read of rehashed material I was already familiar with, I was quite shocked to learn what I have through Oltman’s perspective.

For starters, if you believe the New York Times or any of the mainstream media reports on Oltmans he was a money hungry third rate reporter who exaggerated and promoted deMohrenschildt as the svengali behind the assassination for his own profit, when in fact, as his papers reveal, he was a very thorough and respected Dutch journalist who had previously worked as a foreign correspondent in the Far East.

He worked closely with his editors and NOS TV producers, and how he became entwined in the JFK assassination story is a story in itself.

On March 8, 1964 Oltmans accidentally crossed paths with Lee Oswald’s mother Marguerite at the Dallas-Fort Worth airport, and they sat next to each other on a flight to New York, where Marguerite was to sell letters her son had written to her from Russia to Esquire Magazine.

She mentioned that she was disappointed Lee didn’t graduate from Arlington Heights high school in Fort Worth, where he was enrolled when he enlisted in the Marines on October 24, 1956, shortly after his birthday.

She told Oltmans, “I have never been able to pinpoint it, but once Lee had been in the Marine Corps for some time, there was a clear, noticeable change in my son. He just acted strange, it seemed, and was so very secretive. Once he had left the Marine Corps and gone to Russia, I was just sure as a mother who knows her son that Lee was some sort of agent.”

Back in the Netherlands, Oltmans told his editor about the chance meeting with Mrs. Oswald, and Oltmans was assigned to return to the United States on a whirlwind tour with “The World Wonder Gerard Croiset,” also known as “The Amazing Dutchman,” a clairvoyant, and the subject of a biography by Jack Harrison Pollack (Doubleday), that had popularized him worldwide.

As Croiset explains, “Everyone has the same gifts I have. Within me, they are a bit more developed. Everyone is in contact with other people. I just feel these contacts a bit more intensely.”

As Wilkens notes, “Oltman’s personal notes tell of the incredible mind power that Croiset displayed and how he himself would be awestruck by the accuracy of his visions. Over and over, from one stop to the next, Croiset left people shocked and astonished by his mental abilities.”

“Well-known to police and private investigators,…Croiset had become a valuable asset in locating missing persons and helping to solve murder cases. Law enforcement agencies all over Europe and the United States and as far away as Japan had called upon him to utilize his unusual powers. As with most paragnosts, he did not solve every case. But many, many times, his visions proved to be correct and helpful.”

After returning to Europe from their American tour, on February 2, 1967, Croiset told Oltmans that he had a very strong and clear vision concerning the assassination of President Kennedy. “He explained that what he had seen was a man who was behind the actions of Lee Harvey Oswald – someone with whom the accused assassin had a very close friendship….even an intimate father-to-son relationship. This individual had a double name with the letters “O” and “SCH” in it. He had dealings with the oil world and was probably a geologist.” 

“The vision was one of his clearest ever, Croiset told them. He had seen multiple people shooting at Kennedy from opposite directions and seen a white car that was positioned behind a wooden fence.”

“The mysterious man had ‘pushed’ Lee Harvey Oswald to set in motion this huge, historical event for political purposes. He was, simply, the driving force behind the killing.”

A month later Oltmans returned to the United States on other business and stopped in Texas to visit Mrs. Oswald on March 11, 1967.  Without mentioning Croiset’s vision, Oltmans asked Mrs. Oswald if Lee had a friendship with an older person in the leadup to the assassination.

Of course she immediately thought of de Mohresnschildt, and asked, “Why is this man around my son so much and what did he want from Lee?....I have many times wondered if this was a real friendship or was this man George de Mohresnchildt just out to use Lee in some form?”

Mrs. Oswald then called attention to de Mohrenschildt’s 118 pages of testimony before the Warren Commission, and brought out a copy of a personal letter of condolence from de Mohresnchildt to Mrs. Janet Lee (Bouvier) Auchincloss, the mother of Jacqueline Kennedy, who deMohrenschildt knew personally.

“I have always found this friendship between Lee and George de Mohrenschildt so very strange and unusal,” Marguerite said, “How did my son fit in with this man? And now a letter like this showing he knew Jackie Kennedy’s mother. It’s so very strange. I just have a very strong feeling he has, in some way, put my son in the position as he ened up, concerning the assassination of President Kennedy.”

Shortly after returning to Texas from the USSR with his Russian wife Marina and their baby girl, Oswald obtained an apartment at 2300 Mercedes St., in Fort Worth, and a job at Leslie welding company through the Texas Employment Commission and the efforts of Mrs. Virginia Hale, wife of an FBI agent and mother to twin sons who had attended Arlington Heights high school with Oswald.

It was at the Mercedes Street apartment where George de Mohrenschildt visited the Oswalds, accompanied by a friend Colonel Lawrence Orlov. For some reason de Mohrenschildt at first introduced himself as George Bouhe, another wealthy Russian expatriate who they said, “kept the files on newcomers.”

Colonel Orlov, we later learn, frequently played racket ball with J. Walton Moore, the head of the Dallas CIA Domestic Contacts Division. Moore had known deMohrenschildt since he first debriefed him on his return from Yougaslova in 1957, and according to Wilkens, they often had dinner together.

The day after their meeting the Oswalds visited the de Mohrenschildts for dinner, and Oswald was introduced to the other White Russians in exile in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, some of whom began to assist the Oswalds in various ways.

After de Mohrenschildt obtained a oil geologist job in Haiti, in February 1963, he arranged for a party at the home of some friends who worked at Magnolia Oil, a party set up for the expressed purpose of introducing Oswald to Michael Paine, who de Mohrenschildt thought expressed an ideology similar to Oswald.

While Paine’s wealthy New England family was related to the Forbes and Cabots, his father Lyman Paine was a founder of the Trotskyite communist party in the United States, and he was known as a “cocktail communist.” Michaels Paines’ mother, Ruth Forbes Paine Young had married Arthur Young, the eccentric inventor of the Bell Helicopter, and he arranged for Michael to work as at the Bell Helicopter plant in Texas.

I wish Arthur Young were alive today so I could call him and tell him about Croiset and his psychic abilities, as Young told me he was extremely interested in ESP. And he would have enjoyed knowing another ESP event in relation to the assassination, when his step son Michael Paine, at the very moment of the assassination, was at the Bell Helicopter cafeteria talking with a co-worker about political assassinations!

To me those to ESP events are quite astonishing, but I don’t know what they mean. They make me think of the fact that Dear Abby also expressed foreknowledge of the assassination, but she had confidential confidants who tipped her off. Croiset and Paine are birds of a different feather.

Michael Paine was apparently sick the night of the house party, but his wife Ruth H. Paine met Marina and they became fast friends, while Lee met Volkmar Schmidt, who told Oswald he thought right wing General Walker should be killed as Hitler should have been before he got to powerful.

Shorlty thereafter Oswald ordered the rifle in the mail under the Hidel alias, and had Marina take a photo of him with the rifle, a pistol he also obtained through the mail, and two communist publications he subscribed to, one being the Militant, the official publication of the Trotskyite Party. On April 10, 1963 someone took a pot shot at General Walker through a window, and a few days later, when deMohrenschildt and his wife visited Oswald for the last time before leaving for Haiti, deMohresnchildt saw the rifle and kiddingly remarked, “How did you miss Walker?”

At that point, some conspiracy theorists believe, deMohrenschildt, Oswald’s “babysitter,” handed him off to the Paines, who then became the Oswald’s chief patrons.

Enroute to Haiti, deMohrenschildt stopped in New York city where he met some CIA officials at the offices of John Train, who handled some of the CIA’s propriety businesses, and then went to Washington D.C. where, according to Wilkens, on May 7, 1963 he met with a CIA officer Tony Czaikowski and Dorothe K. Matlack, whose title was Assistant Director of the Office of Intelligence, U.S. Army, under the Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence (ACSI).

For those keeping up with John Newman’s latests research on Antonio Veciana, ACSI is an obscure military intelligence agency we are only now just becoming familiar with.

And it makes me wonder if deMohrenschildt told either the CIA or ACSI the single most important intelligence information he possesed – Lee Harvey Oswald had a rifle and that he may have tried to kill General Walker.

Although he didn’t find it until he returned from Haiti in 1966, among his belongings deMohrenschildt discovered one of the photos Oswald had Marina take of him in the backyard with the rifle, pistol and communist magazines. While Wilkens tells us that it was inscribed “To my friend George deMohrenschildt,” he neglects to mention that it was also inscribed in Marina’s handwriting, “Hunter of Fascists, Ha, Ha!”

And that’s my only major criticism of this book. To me, Marina’s “Hunter of Fascists, Ha, Ha!” salutation is an important clue to Oswald and the Walker shooting.

DeMohrenschildt told Oltmans that he thought Oswald may have taken the pot shot at Walker and missed, he certainly didn't kill President Kennedy, as he admired him too much. He was what he said he was, and deMohrenschildt called his important manuscript "I'm a Patsy! I'm a Patsy!". 

Following the leads provided by Croiset and Mrs. Oswald, Oltmans eventually located de Mohrenschildt, and since they were very similar men in attitude and style, and bisexual, they formed a decade long friendship. At one point Oltmans convinced de Mohrenschildt to accompany him to Europe, where Oltmans had arranged for the publication of de Mohresnchildt’s manuscript “I’m a Patsy, I’m a Patsy!,” that was published in the volumes of the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA).

Wilkens says that the manuscript was vetted by the CIA before it got to the HSCA, but one thing that caught my interest in the manuscript is deMohrenschilt’s story of introducing Oswald to his friend retired Admiral Chester Bruton, a Collins Radio executive who declined deMohrenschildt’s request to give Oswald a job.

While meeting for lunch at a hotel, deMorhenschildt excused himself and disappeared, leaving all his belongings in the hotel room he shared with Oltmans. It was the last time Oltmans would see deMohrenschildt

Apparently deMohrenschilt returned home, where he was visited by an unnamed doctor who gave him a shot of something that drove him crazy. After a few suicide attempts deMohrenschildt was checked into Parkland Hospital where he was treated by a new doctor Dr. Charles Mendoza, and a Dr. Deloach, a cousin to Asst. FBI director Cartha “Deke” DeLoach, he was given drugs and electro shock therapy.

Eventually going to West Palm Beach, Florida, where he was staying with Mrs. Nancy Tilton, the sister of his first wife Dorothy Pierson, with whom he had a daughter Alexandra, who on their divorce, was given custody to Mrs. Tilton. From there deMohrenschildt contacted Oltmans and told him where he was.

In the meantime, the HSCA had been established by Congress to investigate the assassination, and the Chief Counsel Richard Sprague and his chief investigator Robert Tannenbaum had taken a particular interest in deMohrenschildt and were also talking to Oltmans about testifying before their committee. So Oltmans notified them of deMohrenschildt’s whereabouts and they sent their Florida investigator Gaeton Fonzi to visit deMohrenschildt.

Unfortunately deMohrenschildt was being interviewed by a reporter from Readers Digest, Edward J. Epstine, so Fonzi left his card with Alexandra.

DeMohrenschildt had Fonzi’s card on him when he was found dead shortly thereafter, sitting in a chair in a second floor bedroom, a shotgun by his side.

While no one heard the gunshot, Mrs. Tilton had a tape recorder recording the audio of a soap opera in a nearby room that recorded the sound of footsteps and the shot. As can be seen in a photo of the dead deMohrenschildt however, he is just wearing socks and no shoes, so whose footsteps were recorded on the tape?

Dr. Cyril Wecht makes a brief appearance in this book, visiting deMohrenschildt and his wife in Texas. When asked by his wife why he was interested in deMohrenschildt, Dr. Wecht replied, “I only want to orientate myself better about Lee Harvey Oswald.”

As Dr. Wecht recently did a review of a number of autopsies of suspicious deaths related to the JFK assassination at the CAPA conference in Dallas last November, I will ask him to take a look at DeMohresnchildt’s autopsy report to see if everything is kosher. It looks suspicious to me, especially since the tape recording was destroyed by the Florida sheriff and other reports on his death are missing.

Whether murdered or suicide, Richard Sprague and Tannenbaum of the HSCA had suspicions that deMohresnchildt was the victim of some sort of MKULTRA brainwashing, but their investigation suddenly ended around the same time when Sprague was fired and Tannenbaum and Fonzi were put out to pasture, and the deMohresnchildt part of the HSCA investigation ended.

Oltmans did testify before the HSCA, and then said he was through with the Kennedy assassination, but lucky for us he kept his papers and his archives were the treasure trove that gave Wilkens the fascinating material for this book.

This book answers many questions, but it asks even more, questions that we should at least try to answer, as the Wilkens have tried to do.

And it requires a more in-depth look at deMohrenschildt, what he was all about, and who ran him, as he, at least for a while, ran Oswald. 

BK NOTES: For an additional twist on this story see:

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Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Seven Days In LeMay

By William Kelly


Was the assassination of President Kennedy the act of a deranged loner, a group of renegade covert operators and mobsters or a full fledged coup d’etat?

That is the question. 

Seton Hall film Professor Christopher Sharrett addressed the issue years ago when he wrote, “We should not view the assassination as a coup in the traditional sense --- obviously there was no imposition of martial law, no prolonged period of bloodletting (discounting murdered witnesses and such). Such a blow against the public would have been intolerable in a major Western democracy after European fascism, and the issue in any event was not about suppressing a popular movement…, but about resolving a disagreement within the state at a time when financial stakes were extremely high.”

With the impending release of JFK assassination records in 2017, Sharrett was asked what he thought would be in the files and replied: “For any organization, if they’re smart, they don’t put their most volatile stuff in the filing cabinet. If you take the trouble to carry out a killing at that level of state, you won’t leave anything behind with a file saying – here’s the way we set it up.” 

IF it was a full fledged coup then there should be evidence of it among the mass of government documents released under the JFK Act, even if they were stripped to the frame like Oliver Stone’s Mercedes. And it would be reflected in the words, behavior and actions of the principle characters, all of whom we know because if it was a coup, the primary suspects are certainly limited to those who took over the government and changed national policy. We know who they are.

There are those who say that the conspiracy to kill the president was conducted by a group of “renegade” covert operators and mobsters, as portrayed in movies “Executive Action” and Oliver Stone’s “JFK,” while those who lean towards the full fledged coup scenario say that “Seven Days in May” is a more accurate movie model of what actually occurred.

In October 1962, shortly before the Cuban Missile Crisis, President Kennedy read the novel by Fletcher Knebel and Charles W. Bailey II, related to it, and approved of John Frankenheimer making the movie, allowing them to film a riot scene outside the White House and some scenes inside the White House when he wasn’t there. While the movie was filmed during the Kennedy administration, it wasn't released until 1964.

Kirk Douglas as US Marine Col. "Jiggs" Casey and Burt Lancaster as General Scott. 

Staring Burt Lancaster as the right-wing Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General James Mattoon Scott, the movie has Kirk Douglas as his adjunct US Marine Colonel “Jiggs” Casey, while Frederick March is a liberal, unpopular President who signed a nuclear test ban treaty with the Ruskies. Kirk Douglas had a lot to do with making sure the movie got done. 

Rod Serling, of Twilight Zone fame, wrote the riveting screenplay, and also became involved in the assassination investigation when someone impersonating him wrote letters to major publications. 

JFK talked about the possibility of a military coup d’etat in America on at least two occasions, once with journalist Joseph Alsop and the other with his old Navy shipmate Red Fay. Of a military coup JFK said: “It could happen If there was an incident like the Bay of Pigs, and a crisis like the Cuban Missile Crisis. It could happen if there was a third similar event.” 
And there was – the Top Secret Back channel negotiations with Cuban Premier Fidel Castro that were on-going at the time of the assassination. 

JFK adviser and historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. said that if the anti-Castro Bay of Pigs Cubans knew JFK was negotiating with Castro it would be enough to motivate them to kill. And the fact the negotiations were going on between JFK and Castro was revealed to the anti-Castro Cubans by Henry Cabot Lodge, JFK’s Republican Ambassador to Vietnam. 

So JFK’s three requirements for a military coup were met.

To continue the Seven Days in May analogy, the fictional General Scott is more akin to Air Force Chief of Staff General Curtis LeMay than it is to General Maxwell Taylor, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who JFK brought out of retirement to lead the military arm of government after he read a book that Taylor wrote critical of the prevailing military strategy, “The Uncertain Trumpet” (Jan. 1960).  

As Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Taylor replaced General Lyman Louis Lemnitzer, who had been appointed by President Eisenhower in October 1960. Whethering the failure of the Bay of Pigs, Lemnitzer established the U.S. Strike Command in 1961 on the recommendation of Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara, and the Special Studies Group to advise the Joint Chiefs.  But after disagreeing with the President over the use of special forces and counter-insurgency operations over the regular army, and advocating a “false flag” –Northwoods fake instigation to invade Cuba – ala the USS Maine, Lemnitzer was not re-appointed but demoted to Commander in Chief of the US European Command (CINCEUR), where he served until 1969. In retirement Lemnitzer served on the 1975 Commission on CIA Activitie within the United States and on the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. 

Becoming the fifth Chief of Staff of the Air Force in 1961, LeMay’s basic biography notes that “LeMay clashed repeatedly with Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, Air Force Secretary Eugene Zuckert, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army General Maxwell Taylor,” to say nothing of his tangles with President Kennedy.

After pleading ignorance of the CIA’s plans for the Bay of Pigs, objecting to the use of ICBMs instead of B-52 bombers to deliver nuclear weapons, arguing against the combined Air Force-Navy TFX fighter-bomber and otherwise ignoring the orders of the Secretary of Defense and Secretary of the Air Force, LeMay was infuriated with Kennedy that during the Cuban Missile Crisis the unanimous advice of the Joint Chiefs to bomb the Soviet missiles in Cuba and invade the island was ignored, and a peaceful resolution obtained.

LeMay compared the resolution to Munich, when the President's father supported appeasement with Hitler in order to avoid an unavoidable World War. 

In the heat of the Cuban Missile crisis, in a meeting in the Oval Office, LeMay told JFK that “Mr. President - you are in a pretty bad fix.” After the President asked LeMay to repeat the remark, he told LeMay, “Well, you are in it with me!”

After one conversation with LeMay JFK said, “And we call ourselves human beings.” After another he said he didn’t want to see LeMay again.

JFK knew the true feelings of LeMay and the Joint Chiefs because after one heated meeting he left the room but left the recording devices on, so he later heard their unabashed feelings towards him.

The movie “Thirteen Days,” staring Kevin Costner, accurately portrays LeMay during the crisis, and serves as a sort of a prequel to the assassination movies “Executive Action” and “JFK.”

While Burt Lancaster does look a lot like Gen. Maxwell Taylor as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and LeMay’s pudgy, bull dog looks are portrayed well in “Thirteen Days,” LeMay did serve for awhile as the temporary chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff when General Taylor was sent to Vietnam on a special mission for the President.

And it was while LeMay served as temporary chair on September 25, 1963 when the CIA’s Desmond FitzGerald briefed the Joint Chiefs on the need for U.S. military support for CIA covert operations, especially in Cuba.

The man responsible for such military assistance to the CIA was US Marine General “Brut” Krulak, whose official title was Assistant Chief Counter-Insurgency and Special Activities. Krulak knew JFK from the South Pacific during World War II when Kennedy’s PT-109 helped rescue one of Krulak’s marine units from a Japanese occupied island under fire, as portrayed in the movie “PT-109.”

Krulak then promised Lt. Kennedy a bottle of whiskey but didn’t deliver it until after hours at the White House, where they toasted their mutual veteran heritage.

Krulak’s adjunct, Colonel Walter Higgins attended the meeting of the JCS when FitzGerald briefed them on the CIA’s covert Cuban operations, taking detailed notes that survived the purge of many similar records. U.S. Marine Colonel Higgins may even be considered comparable to Marine Colonel “Jiggs” Casey, who became suspicious a military coup was in the works.

One disassociated fact that Higgins tells us about is the CIA’s “detailed study” of the July 20, 1944 Valkyrie plot to kill Hitler, actually a continuity of government coup that was planned in advance in detail.

One of Higgins’ memo bullet points says: “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. 

Although the German military plot to kill Hitler and take over the Nazi government was not successful when the bomb failed to kill Hitler, the CIA was studying it in detail and apparently using the German military coup plan to “develop an approach” to use against Castro, a study they have since lost.

While the CIA had trouble finding disgruntled Cuban military officers to stage a coup and possibly kill Castro, that wasn’t a problem in the U.S. military, as the Joint Chiefs of Staff were united in their opposition to the President, his policies and his plans.

As Colonel “Jiggs” Casey put together the facts as he saw them, indicating there was some shenanigans in the works, General Scott sent him on vacation, much like Col. Fletcher Prouty felt like he was being sent off to Antarctica to be away from the Pentagon when JFK was killed.

And just as Gene Wheaton visited CIA director William Casey to inform him of the Iran-Contra scandal before it became public knowledge, Colonel “Jiggs” Casey goes to the Oval Office to inform the President of his suspicions. While Wheaton realized that Casey was in on the deal, the Hollywood President gives him a listen. When the President asks him to get to the point, Jiggs says, “I’m not sure, Mr. President, just some possibilities, what we call, uh ‘capabilities’ in military intelligence. I’m suggesting, Mr. President, there’s a military plot to take over the government.”

One of the tips "Jiggs" discovers is a bet among the top brass on the Preakness horse race, a cover code for the coup.

As the admiral who refused to make a bet was told: “The bet is that there are members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who are involved in treason. We know who they are, we know the essence of the plan. Now from you, Admiral, I want a signed statement indicating at what moment you first heard of this operation and your complicity in the entire matter.”

And ala the Preakness bet used as a cover for the coup messages, there was a bet in the JFK assassination narrative as well, one that could have a bearing on uncovering the essence of the conspiracy and coup.

Desmond FitzGerald                                  
Rolando Cubella (AMLASH) 


As the CIA officer responsible for covert operations against Cuba, Des FitzGerald was the person who briefed the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the CIA's "detailed" study of the Valkyrie plot to kill Hitler. FitzGerald was also the case officer for Rolando Cubela (AMLASH), one of the military officers they were recruiting to kill Castro. So it is interesting that FitzGerald, like the military officers in the fictional "Seven Days in May" used a bet and a gamble on the Preakness stakes as a way of communicating their willingness to go along with the coup plans. 

In “The Very Best Men” – Four Who Dared: The Early Years of the CIA" Evan Thomas writes: “…Halpern, FitzGerald’s assistant, regarded him (Cubela) as an assassin and claims that FitzGerald did as well.” 

It just so happens that Cubela had an apartment near Veradero, on the northern shore of Cuba where Castro was known to visit frequently. Cubela’s apartment was to be the staging area and sniper’s perch from where the Pathfinder snipers were to shoot Castro in the head with a high powered rifle as he rode by in an open jeep.

Sam Halpern: “Des was really more interested in starting a coup, and he hoped that Cubela could organize other army officers. But in coups, he understood, people die. The way to start a coup is to knock off the top man. Des felt it was a long shot, but it might work. We were desperate. Des was willing to try anything.” 

Evan Thomas writes: “FitzGerald did not think it was such a long shot that he was unwilling to make a small bet, giving reasonable odds.”

“Just six days before he formally signed off on a high-powered rifle for AMLASH (Cubela),” writes Thomas, Fitzgerald, “accepted a little wager from Michael Forrestal, an official on the National Security Council staff who was a member of the Georgetown crowd (his father, James V. Forrestal, had been the first secretary of defense). A memo in FitzGerald’s personal files records a $50 bet with Forrestal on ‘the fate of Fidel Castro during the period 1 August 1964 and 1 October 1964. (Apparently, Fitzgerald saw a window of vulnerability for the Cuban leader that was roughly coincidental with the 1964 U.S. presidential election campaign.)”

“Mr. Forrestal offers two-to-one odds ($100 to $50) against Fidel’s falling (or being pushed) between the dates 1 August and 1 October 1964. In the event that such a thing should occur prior to 1 August 1964 the wager herein cancelled. Mr. FitzGerald accepts the wager on the above terms.”

The memo is dated November 13, 1963, “One day after FitzGerald briefed Kennedy on the progress of the Cuban operation and one day before the Special Group approved his plan of continued covert operations against the Castro Regime.”

Thomas: “Nine days later the assassination of John F. Kennedy dramatically increased the odds that FitzGerald would lose his bet.”

There was no way that Castro was going to be killed while the President was engaged in direct back channel negotiations with him. 

“Higher Authority” had “disapproved” the Pathfinder plan to shoot Castro when he driving in an open jeep on his way to Veradero. And those who were planning on redirecting the Pathfinder plan to JFK in Dallas needed Castro alive on November 22, 1963 because the plan called for what was thought to be acknowledged as a multiple gunman ambush and conspiracy to be blamed on Castro and Cuban Communists.

And on November 22, Castro was hosting French journalist Jean Daniel at his Veradero retreat when word of the assassination came in.

According to Thomas, “On November 22, 1963, Des FitzGerald had just finished hosting a lunch for an old friend of the CIA, a foreign diplomat, at the City Tavern Club in Georgetown, when he was summoned from the private dining room by the maĆ®tre d’. FitzGerald returned ‘as white as a ghost,’ recalled Sam Halpern. Normally erect and purposeful, FitzGerald was walking slowly, with his head down. ‘The President has been shot,’ he said.”

“The lunch immediately broke up. On the way out the door Halpern anxiously said, ‘I hope this has nothing to do with Cubans.’ FitzGerald mumbled, ‘Yea, well, we’ll see.’ In the fifteen minute car ride back to Langley, FitzGerald just stared straight ahead. He was well aware that in Paris, at almost the moment Kennedy was shot in Dallas, one of his case officers had been handing a poison pen to a Cuban agent to kill Castro. It was at the very least a grim coincidence. FitzGerald knew that, in September, Castro threatened to retaliate against attempts to kill him. ‘United States leaders should think that if they are aiding in terrorist plans to eliminate Cuban leaders, they themselves will not be safe,’ the Cuban leader had publicly declared.”

“The warning that Cubela might be a ‘dangle,’ that he might be secretly working for Castro, took on an ominous new meaning. Now FitzGerald had to wonder: Had Castro killed Kennedy before Kennedy could kill him?” 

Or more likely, as William Turner has suggested, one of the plans to kill Castro was turned on Kennedy at Dealey Plaza.

Then, in the immediate aftermath of the assassination, as no “Jiggs” came forward to halt the operation, another potential “Jiggs” appears as General LeMay’s adjunct Colonel Dorman, who like “Jiggs,” and Fletcher Prouty, was kept out of the loop. He couldn’t even get in contact with his boss, who was in the nuclear chain of command, to give him an important message.

While we don’t yet know exactly where LeMay was at the time of the assassination, we do know that he was incommunicado, much like General Scott wanted the President to go with him to a remote, nuclear proof bunker that would place him out of contact with everyone.

Although the details have yet to be determined, I think that it can be said with some authority that the death of the president was not the result of a lone gunman or a group of rogue covert operatives and mobsters, as portrayed by Hollywood in “Executive Action” and “JFK.”

But rather, the more we learn the more it appears that the assassination of the President was a full fledged coup d’etat, more like “Seven Days in LeMay,” and that we know there were high level officials and military officers engaged in treason, we know who they are, and we know the essence of the plan. We are just now figuring out the sad details. And as Christopher Sharrett put it, it wasn't a typical coup, but "about resolving a disagreement within the state when stakes were extremely high." 

William Kelly – Wednesday, December 25, 2019.
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Tuesday, December 24, 2019

General LeMay on 11-22-63


Air Force Chief of Staff General Curtis LeMay and Arthur Collins of Collins Radio

One of the prerequisites of a coup d'etat is to control communications. 

After recently receiving three requests for information on General Curtis LeMay concerning his whereabouts on November 22, 1963 and the references to him on the Air Force One radio transmission tapes, I decided to bring that issue back to the table, so it here goes.

For starters, I received three cassette tapes of the AF1 radio transmissions from Larry Howard at the old Assassination Information Center on the third floor of the West End Mall in Dallas, and learned they had originated from the LBJ Library in Texas in the late 1970s.

It took me a few months but I patiently transcribed them and noted how highly edited they were, and they did not include most of the quotes from transcripts made available to Theodore White (Making of a President 1964), William Manchester (The Death of a President) and Pierre Salinger (On Orders of My President). White and Manchester were permitted to read a transcript at the LBJ White House, while Salinger says he obtained his copy of the transcript from the JFK Library, and each make references to aspects of the tape that are not on the existing recording, as Vincent Salandria called attention to many years ago.

Max Holland also wrote a book The Kennedy Assassination Tapes that quotes excerpts from the Air Force One tapes but fails to mention the most significant aspects on the recordings – especially the repeated references to “Liberty Station,” which is mis-identified in the official LBJ Library transcript as the White House, when it is actually the Collins Radio company relay station in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

While Holland, who also worked with the Miller Center on the Presidential Recordings project, had secretaryies compose the transcripts that he used, I transcribed the three cassette tapes from the LBJ Library myself, and made them available on the internet for everyone to review, as I tried to do.

The LBJ Library cassettes begin with an introduction from a White House Communications Agency (WHCA) officer who notes that this is an edited version of the tapes made for public consumption, and it does include some riveting conversations, but not the ones quoted by the three writers. They were apparently given a transcript of the unedited version that they quote from. Neither the unedited tape or transcript are available today from the LBJ Library or the JFK Library, where Salinger said he obtained  his and returned it. It is now missing.

Then, years later, two identical reel to reel tapes of the Air Force One radio transmissions were discovered among the effects of General Chester Clifton, the President’s military aide who was aboard Air Force One when the tapes were recorded.

One of the two tapes was put up for auction by a Philadelphia auction company (Raab) and the other donated to the National Archives, who put it on line for anyone to hear.

I made a copy of the Clifton tape as well as a transcript, noting that while it is slightly – twenty minutes or so longer than the LBJ Library cassette tapes, the Clifton tape is still highly edited, as acoustical forensic expert Ed Primeau confirmed when he reviewed it.

I first heard of Primeau on a PBS news radio broadcast when he was consulted as a forensic audio expert in a Florida murder that involved a cell phone recording. I found him over the internet, emailed him, and talked with him on the phone. He was very interested in the Air Force One radio transmissions, and so I sent him a copy of my combined transcripts of the two tapes, a copy of the LBJ Library tape and a link to the NARA Clifton tape and asked him if he could combine them as I had combined the transcripts.

Ed Primeau, with the help of his small staff, not only combined them, but cleaned the combined version of static and noise so it is the most complete and clearest of the various versions of the Air Force One radio transmission tapes.

I told the story of the two versions of the Air Force One radio transmission tapes at the Wecht Institure of Forensic Pathology and Law at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh in November 2013, where the Primeau version of the combined and cleaned up tape premiered. I did a followup presentation at the Assassination Archives and Research Center (AARC) conference in Bethesda the following year.

I was also proud to receive the 2013 Mary Ferrell Award for historical research for my work on the Air Force One radio tapes, and am proud to share that award with Ed Primeau, who did all of his work Pro Bono, saying that it was an historical necessity.

While there are a half-dozen conversations on the Clifton tape that are not on the officially released LBJ Library version, the one thing that most people seem interested in are the references to General Curtis LeMay, the Air Force Chief of Staff.

Besides the two (three including the pilot’s) high frequency single sideband radios aboard Air Force One, another radio on the Cabinet plane over the Pacific, there were a number of base stations hooked up to the same system – one in White House Communications Agency base at their suite at the Dallas Sheraton Hotel, the White House Situation Room, another at the chief of the Secret Service in the Executive Office Building, the SAM – Strategic Air Mission (Andrews AFB), Strategic Air Command (SAC – Omaha) another at the Pentagon and the “Liberty” relay station at the headquarters of Collins Radio, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the manufacturer.

I write about these things in more detail at:

The first reference to LeMay comes from a Colonel Hornbuckle, OPS, who expresses a concern from the Chief of Staff (Gen. LeMay?) as to whether President Johnson and the President’s body were on board AF1.

In the course of multiple conversations that will be discussed elsewhere, a Colonel Dorman interrupts the proceedings with the announcement that he is General LeMay’s aide and needs to get an urgent message to the General, who was then aboard an special Air Force executive jet bound for Washington D.C. from Canada.

- Andrews Sideband. Sir?
- This is Colonel Dorman, General LeMay’s aide.
- Right.
- General LeMay is in a C-140
- The last three numbers are 497 SAM 497
- 497 last three numbers.
- Right. He is in bound. His code name is Grandson, and I want to talk to him.
- Grandson. Okay sir, we'll see what we can do. We’re really busy with Air Force One right now.
- Okay. You don’t have the capability to work more than one?
- We're running Air Force One with two different frequencies.
- We're running two patches at once and that's all we can do.
- I see.
- What is your drop sir? Are you on the drop off the Washington switch?
- Yes. Either or seven, nine, two, two five.
- Seven Nine two two five.
- But if you can’t do it now it will be too late because he will be on the ground in a half hour.
- Okay, and what is your name again sir?
- Colonel Dorman. D-O-R-M-A-N
- Okay, I’ll get back to you...if we can get him right away sir.....

We don’t get to hear the message, though it might be on the unedited tape, but we do know from the Andrews Air Force Base Log for November 22, 1963 that LeMay requested a jet to pick him up at a Canadian base to return to Washington.

Apparently, from LeMay family sources, the General was at a family lake cabin hunting or fishing at the time of the assassination, and traveled to the Canadian base, as it was the closest to where he was located.

In his book "LeMay- The Life and Wars of General Curtis LeMay," (Regnery History, 2009, first paperback edition- 2011-page 356.) Warren Kozak writes, "On November 22, 1963, while on a hunting trip in Michigan, Curtis LeMay heard that President Kennedy had been assassinated in Dallas. He immediately flew back to Washington." 

But then Kozak brings up the issue at hand and attempts to discount the idea of the assassination being part of a coup by saying, "LeMay remembered a lot of people in Washington worrying that the entire series of events might be some type of attempted coup, a theory he never took seriously. LeMay was just too practical and, knowing the military as he did, he believed the United States was the least susceptible country in the world to a military takeover "because the military profession is itself steeped in the tradition of civilian supremacy over the military... [and] the armed forces of the United States have repeatedly fostered and protected this principle."

LeMay's official biography (p.430, "Iron Eagle: The Turbulent Life of General Curtis LeMay," by Thomas M. Coffey) says he was visiting his wife's family in Michigan when the news arrived about JFK's assassination.

According to the Andrews Air Force Base Log book turned over to the Assassinations Records Review Board (ARRB), LeMay returned to Washington D.C. from Wiarton, a Canadian military air base.

The Andrews Log Book itself is strange as it only covers two shifts – the days President Kennedy and Robert Kennedy were killed, and was apparently ordered destroyed because it was retrieved from the trash by an alert Andrews employee, possibly a janitor – named Chuck Holmes.

It’s official Records Identificantion File is labeled:
RIF: 161-10002-10000

And the relevant excerpt says:





COMMENTS: Special Log of Events found by Air Force civilian employee, Mr. Chuck Holmes, and transferred to ARRB by USAF. Cover stamped 1254 ATW Command Post.

COVER REMARKS: Special Unclassified
J.F.K. Assassination - 22 Nov. 63 & RFK Assassinations 5 June 68.
1254th ATW Command Post

9 pages long, it is written in long hand, apparently by the duty officer at the time who thought it wise to begin a special log when it was learned the President was assassinated, and the same log was filed away but used again when RFK was killed.

It begins at 1400 hours [2 pm] when “Col. Hornbuckle Heard News Report on the President being shot at Dallas. Put Wing on Alert.”

Twenty minutes later, at 1420 [2:20], “092488 & 2493 CANX. 4197 Set-up
To Dept To Plu Gen Lemay at Toronto, Canada. Trip #1602

Change Gen Lemays Plu from Toronto To Wairton Canada 44.45N 0981.06W

1625 [4:25pm] 24197 Gen Lemay Dept Wairton 1604 ETA DCA 1715, Driver & Aide at DCA ETA changed 1710, Secy Zuckert Will Meet Lemay at ADW. (notified AC f t )

1700 [5:00pm] =09 Gen Lemay Will land DCA NOT ADW……

Now Air Force Secretary Zuckert is an interesting character himself, who I address in an article on CIAir 
         [  ]

Just across Lake Huron from Michigan is Wiarton, where there is an airport that had a 6,000 foot long runway that could handle jet planes. Wiarton, Canada is a community in Bruce County, Ontario, at the western end of Colpoys Bay, an inlet off Georgian Bay, on the Bruce Peninsula. The community is part of the town of South Bruce Peninsula, Ontario. 

LeMay departed Wiarton at 4:04pm (Eastern) and arrived in Washington at 5:12 pm and some think it significant that he disobeyed Air Force Sec. Zuckert's orders to meet him at Andrews Air Force Base before Air Force One arrived with JFK's body. Instead, LeMay insisted his military plane land at the civilian Washington National Airport.

Those who put LeMay close to Bethesda do so to boister the theory that LeMay attended the autopsy and may have had a hand in directing it. Paul O’Conner, a Navy technician who was there recalled one of the autopsy doctors being annoyed that someone was smoking a cigar, a LeMay trademark.

There is also speculation that LeMay could be the four star general who directed one of the autopsy doctors not to probe the back wound, or conduct a forensic autopsy but just, by law, determine the cause of death – gunshot wound to the head.

While LeMay’s name is not on the list of those who were officially present at the autopsy, there are those on the list who were not there so the list is not complete.

There's still the question of what was the important message Col. Dorman wanted to get to Gen. LeMay before he landed in Washington and both Colonel Carl G. Hornbuckle or Colonel George Stanton Dorman could tell us. But Hornbuckle died in 1997 in Texas, while Dorman was killed in action on 4 August, 1969 in an air battle near Ch Lai, South Vietnam.

When I learned that Col. Dorman’s widow lived nearby outside of Trenton, N.J., I found her phone number and called her. I told her that her husband’s voice is on the Air Force One radio tapes that I was transcribing, and asked her about him.
Does she remember what happened on November 22, 1963?

“Of course, how could I forget that day?” she said.

At the time she worked at the White House Historical Office, responsible for the renovations of the building that were overseen by the President’s wife and first lady, Jacqueline Kennedy, while her husband was the aide to Air Force General Curtis LeMay, the chief of staff of the Air Force.

On the day of the assassination, Mary Dorman recalled that with news of the assassination of the President, “My husband called me at the White House and told me to get home immediately. I was at the White House Historical Association office. There were only three of us and the man in charge, his name was Mr. Castro, he pulled he shades and we all knelt and prayed.”

“We lived at Fort Myer on General’s Row, so going past Arlington National cemetery, I stopped at the Chapel to pray. The news was so fresh nobody knew, so I knelt and prayed and didn’t know whether to tell them.”

“I went home and I remember sitting around crying,” she relates. “I went down to the White House when they brought the body there, and it was a mob scene. Everything was in chaos. Everybody was devastated.”

Did she did discuss the assassination with her husband?

Although Colonel Dorman was very busy that weekend, she said, “I did talk to my husband about it, but I can’t remember what he said. We talked about it, and I think there was a sense of fear, is this the beginning of something, of what?”

“For the most part we watched the stupid tube and cried. I was in the kitchen cooking, but maybe he told my sons, George Jr., William, and Robert and they remember what he had to say about it.”
Of her three sons, I talked with George, Jr. who recalled being a young boy at the time and watching the funeral of President Kennedy from a tree in Arlington cemetery.

While George Dorman, Jr. said that he didn’t know what the message was, “it probably had something to do with the changing of the alert levels, their initial response in preparation for the funeral, or where LeMay had to go next.”

Where would that be? I asked.

“Back to work,” said Dorman, “the office at the Pentagon,” or where ever LeMay went. Dorman said wherever LeMay went his father usually went with him, and the fact that he wasn’t with LeMay at the time of the assassination is itself something.

Others familiar with how close a adjunct Colonel is to a General say that there is no way Dorman would not be in constant contact with LeMay. The fact that Dorman was having trouble getting a very important message to LeMay is – as Dorman’s son noted, something in itself. It’s an indication Colonel Dorman is out of the loop, much like Colonel Jiggs in Seven Days in May.

The fact that LeMay disobeyed a direct order from the Secretary of the Navy to land at Andrews and meet him there, and instead landed at the commercial National Airport, is also telling of something, though I’m not sure what. LeMay was a pretty obstinate guy who pretty much did what he wanted.

George Dorman, Jr. also noters that the C-140 was a brand new plane at the time, and it was rare for LeMay to use that plane when he had a 707 – code named “Speckled Trout,” that he more frequently used.
General LeMay, besides being Chief of Staff of the Air Force, whose code name was Grandson, was a close, personal friend of Art Collins, founder of Collins Radio, whose company made the sideband radios used on Air Force One and all SAC bombers. LeMay was also a HAM radio buff who had his own radio and could possibly have monitored the Air Force One radio transmissions if he had the frequencies they used.

If the assassination of President Kennedy was a covert intelligence operation and coup d’etat, then those responsible conducted the successful operation according to standard operating procedures, and all such communictions would have to be not only monitored but controlled, according to Ed Ludwak’s “Coup d’etat – A Practical Handbook.”

Who had the capability of doing that?

Certainly Art Collins was a key to the Communications Nexus, and General LeMay a pivitol player in the Chain of Command.


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