Wednesday, December 30, 2020

The Real James Bond - A True Story of Identity Theft, Avian Intrigue and Ian Fleming

 The Real James Bond – A True Story of Identity Theft, Avian Intrigue and Ian Fleming, by Jim Wright (Schiffer Publishing, 2020)

Birds of the West Indies: Bond, James, Don R. Eckelberry and Earl L. Poole: Books

Most of the people of the civilized world are familiar with James Bond – the most famous spy in history, either from the 100 million books Ian Fleming wrote that were sold, or the literally billions of people who have seen the popular movies originally based on Fleming’s stories.

But few people know about the real James Bond, the Philadelphia ornithologist and author of the book “Birds of the West Indies.”

Jim Wright comes into the real James Bond story as a birdwatcher from Philadelphia, author of birding books – “The Nature of the Meadowlands,”Jungle of the Maya” and “Hawk Mountain,” and birding columnist for the Bergen (NJ) Record, near were he currently lives.

Although it appears he has never met the real James Bond, he did do his research and quotes extensively from the published record, especially Mrs. Bond’s books “How 007 Really Got His Name,” and “Far Afield in the Caribbean,” as well as David Contesta’s official biography of James Bond, the former curator of Birds at the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences and author of the books “Birds of the West Indies” and “Field Guide to the Birds of the West Indies.”

It just so happened that English author Ian Fleming, vacationing at his Jamaican beach house he called Goldeneye, kept a copy of “Birds of the West Indies” on his breakfast table, and when it came time for him to sit down and write the “spy story to end all spy stories,” which was to be “Casino Royale,” he took the name of the author of the book in front of him – James Bond, for his spy, who also has the moniker Double-O-Seven.

While there are many real life spies who they say were used to develop the character of 007, including Dusko Popov, Canadian Sir William Stephenson (INTREPID), Ian Fleming’s brother Peter – and Fleming himself, there is only one real James Bond, whose name is James Bond, the author of the book “Birds of the West Indies.”

I came into the story from a different direction – having read a Philadelphia Magazine article on the assassination of President Kennedy written by Michael Marlow that mentioned a man named Cummins Catherwood, and his Catherwood Foundation, though his connection to the assassination was not spelled out. I did however, notice in the book “The Invisible Government” by David Wise and Thomas Ross, that Catherwood’s Foundation was listed as a footnote among other similar foundations that were used by the CIA to secretly dispurse money for its covert operations.

So I did what I usually do when I come across a new name, and went to the Philadelphia Bulletin newspaper archives, also called the morgue, and looked up Catherwood’s newspaper clips. The Bulletin paid dozens of women to clip every article of every edition of their paper, circling each name and putting the clipping that referred to that person in an envelop with his name on it and filed it away.

Catherwood’s envelope was quite thick, and as I sat and read it the CIA connections were readily apparent – the funding of the Cuban Aide Relief to assist professional Cubans who escaped Castro’s Cuba, support for the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, a trip as a tourist to Soviet Russia, and the construction of a large sailing yacht, “The Vigilant.”

Then I came across an interesting article about how Catherwood sailed the Vigilant down to the Caribbean with four scientists aboard, including James Bond, “whose main interest is birds.”

For a moment I thought it was a joke, a CIA operative with Catherwood was using the alias of James Bond, but then I looked at the date – 1948 – years before Ian Fleming began writing his 007 books. I then went over to the Bulletin file and looked under Bond, James, and came across a much thinner envelop with articles about Bond, his book “Birds of the West Indies,” and his wife Mary Wickham, who wrote the book “How 007 Really Got His Name.”

When I got a copy of “Birds of the West Indies,” I took it up to the Bond’s apartment at Hill House in Chestnut Hill, adjacent to the train station and knocked on their door. Mrs. Bond answered and when I showed her the book and asked to have it signed by Mr. Bond she called out, “Jimmy, there’s a young man here to see you.”

Jimmy? I thought. Yes, James Bond is very American, and he appeared appropriately in a tux, as the Bonds were getting ready to go to a social ball. He graciously signed my book, and asked me to come back sometime to talk, and I did return a number of times and had pleasant conversations with him, some of which I recount in my yet unpublished manuscript – “The Mystery of Goldeneye – James Bond and Ian Fleming – The Men and the Myth,” and blog – James Bond Authenticus.

In Chapter 009, Wright notes: that John Pearson’s fictional “James Bond: The Authorized Biography of 007,” that “posited that Fleming’s real purpose in writing the 007 stories was to make his fictional Bond such a comic-book superhero that the Russians would fail to take the real Bond seriously, thereby allowing him to continue his secret work. Other theorists – notably William Kelly in his blog James Bond Authenticus – have explored that possibility, combing through Bond’s career and Mary’s memories for clues pointing to a life of espionage. Could it have been possible?” 

Jamesbondauthenticus  ]

Wright mentions a few of the clues – Bond attended St. Paul’s School, that provided numerous OSS agents during World War II, and Cambridge Trinity College, home of the Cambridge spy ring, and was a member of the Pitt Club, a hunting and dining club that also included Sir Anthony Blunt and Guy Burgess, two of the most notorious double agents of our time. He neglects to mention Bond’s voyage on a ship with Somerset Maughan, an important literary figure and British Intelligence agent, his trip with CIA bagman Cumming Catherwood, his birding tour of the Bay of Pigs shortly before the CIA invasion and numerous other cluesq.

But my hypothesis is not just to theorize on whether the real James Bond was a spy, though there’s much evidence of it, but that most if not all of the fictional characters Fleming writes about are based on real people known to Fleming – including Bond, 007’s CIA sidekick Felix Leiter, Quarrel the Cayman islander, “M” and “Q,” Pussy Galore, even Catherwood himself is parodied in one of Fleming’s short stories.

At first I was a bit leery about Wright’s book, as I was familiar with the previously published literature, and was afraid Jim Wright would have easily appropriated some of my work much as Fleming had appropriated the name for his secret agent from James Bond. But no worries, Wright puts together a very detailed and photographically illustrated biography of the real Bond, but he doesn’t appropriate any of my work, so I still have a chance of getting published some day.

The closest my manuscript came to getting published was when an editor for Turner Books in Atlanta called to say they were going to discuss publishing my manuscript at a board meeting that day, but I was later informed that when the subject came up it was dismissed because they had already agreed to publish Andrew Lycette’s second official biography of Ian Fleming (after John Pearson), and the Lycette’s book and mine would clash.

The one good thing that Jim Wright’s book “The Real James Bond” does is put to rest the false impression given by both official biographies of Ian Fleming – that the real James Bond took the whole thing as a joke, when in fact he deeply resented the invasion of his privacy and the problems that the whole 007 phenomenon caused him. 

As Wright puts it, "....The tale of Ian Fleming and the real James Bond has developed a life of its own, gradually accumulating embellishments and inaccuracies - beginning with the oft-repeated assertion that Bond gave Fleming permission to take his name and that Bond enjoyed the fame. In fact, Bond grew to hate the 007 connection even as his wife, Mary, did her best to promote it. And although the appropriation of his identity caught Bond by surprise, there is a long tradition of ornithologist spies - including at least seven of his contemporaries. Some people have even speculated that the real James Bond was a spy as well." 

When they finally met at Goldeneye, in February 1964, six months before Fleming's death, Bond told him right off, "'I don't read your books. My wife reads them, but I never do.' I didn't want to fly under false colors." To which Fleming responded, "I don't blame you." 

The problems included lonely girls finding his name in the public phone book and calling him at all hours of the night. It also made it hard getting across borders with the three main tools of his trade - shotgun for shooting bird specimens, scalpel for cleaning them, and arsenic for curing them. The 290 bird specimens he collected over the decades are now enshrined at the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences, where he was curator of Birds. 

Wright’s chapter on whether the real James Bond was a spy skips over all of the evidence I had uncovered, but it does get a response from the CIA on the question. Michael Lavergne, the CIA’s information and policy coordinator, wrote a response to Wright's Freedom of Information Act request: 

“After conducting a search reasonably calculated to uncover all relevant documents, we did not locate any responsive records that would reveal an openly acknowledge CIA affiliation with the subject. To the extent your request also seeks records that would reveal a classified association between the CIA and the subject, if any exist, we can neither confirm or deny having such records, pursuant to Section 3.6(a) of Executive Order 13526, as amended. If a classified association between the subject and this organization were to exist, records revealing such a relationship would be properly classified and require continued safeguards against unauthorized disclosure.”

So if James Bond was a real CIA operative they wouldn't tell you anyway. 

Jim Wright’s book is a clear, concise, and graphic portrait of James Bond, American ornithologist, from whom Ian Fleming appropriated the name for his secret agent 007. While those billions of people who are thrilled with the stories and movies will probably not be interested in him, the real James Bond did live a life even more interesting than the fictional 007. Those naturalists interested in birds, and real 007 aficionados will find this book fascinating, especially since the other published works on the subject are out of print or hard to find.

With the recent death of Sean Connery, and the impending release of the next 007 film, this book is timed right, and I hope people read it and enjoy the story, as it gives life to the possibility of my manuscript - The Mystery of Goldeneye - James Bond and Ian Fleming - the Men and the Myth, will eventually be published someday.

Book tells the story of ornithologist James Bond - BirdWatchingBond … James Bond, ornithologist

William Kelly

December 31, 2020

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

The Life and Deaths of Cyril Wecht

 The Life and Deaths of Cyril Wecht - Memoirs of America's Most Controversial Forensic Pathologist - by Cyril H. Wecht, M.D., J.D. and Jeff M. Sewald (Exposit, Jefferson, N.C., 2020) 

Dr. Wecht is the best educated, smartest, wisest, passionate, and most honorable and interesting person I have known, and I've met my share of interesting personalities in my fifty years as a reporter and journalist. I have worked closely with him on the JFK case since the early 1990s, first with COPA - the Coalition on Political Assassinations, and now serving on the board of directors with CAPA - Citizens Against Political Assassinations. Along with Professor Peter Dale Scott, I consider him a primary mentor, and seek his advice on issues I think are important, and he's never let me down. After all these years I thought I knew everything about him, but this autobiography brings out the details and the best of the man I thought I knew. 

You can't know Dr. Wecht without knowing that his hometown is his beloved Pittsburgh, and he tells his story to Pittsburgh writer and filmmaker Jeff Sewald, whose films include "Gridiron and Steel," a documentary focusing on the spiritual relationship between the sport of football and the people of southwest Pennsylvania, and "We Knew What We Had: The Greatest Jazz Story Never Told," that chronicles the history of jazz music in Pittsburgh. 

After writing  45 professional books for doctors and lawyers, this is Dr. Wecht's ninth popular book, and a tenth is on the way that will deal exclusively with his role in the JFK assassination. That is one case of many, some of which are dealt with in this book, that depicts the major events of his life and career, including the deaths of a number of celebrities - Elvis Presley, Nicole Brown Simpson, JonBenet Ramsey, Laci Paterson, et al, that the readers of tabloid magazines will find fascinating. And he gives just as much attention to detail to little people, whose deaths don't make headlines. It is his life however, that intrigues me, and his role in the investigation of the assassination of President Kennedy that I am most interested. 

Now 89 years old, Dr. Wecht has not slowed down, works every day, still conducting forensic autopsies of those who have passed away, been murdered or have died suspiciously, averaging 500 a year, - that's more than one a day. He also responds to requests for interviews from students, reporters and television media, especially when a celebrity dies. He also makes presentation before various community and professional groups, invariably asked about the topic he is most known for - the assassination of President Kennedy, and he talks to any group that asks him, much to the chagrin of his associates and peers. 

In Washington D.C. a few years ago, Dr. Wecht left the Assassinations Archives and Research Center (AARC) conference in Bethesda to talk to a competing conference that included Republican dirty trickster Roger Stone, who had written a book blaming the assassination of JFK on LBJ, and disgraced professor James Fetzer, who had denied the Sandy Hook massacre ever occurred. While Dr. Wecht didn't actually share the stage with them or endorse their beliefs, and had some profane words to describe them when asked, he stuck to his policy of talking to any group who asks. He later caused a major riff in his own organization, CAPA, for which he is chairman, when he left a Dallas CAPA conference to address a competing conference run by a women who claimed to be Lee Harvey Oswald's girlfriend. "I don't care whether it is true or not," Wecht said, "it doesn't matter whose screwing around with who." So he addressed the conference without endorsing the beliefs of any of the other speakers, explaining how he became involved in the JFK case, and where it stands today. 

It is how Dr. Wecht got to where he is today that I found most interesting. It was while a full-time resident in pathology at Pitt 1957-1959 when he also began to study law, and became involved in Committee for the Medical Examiner System that he began to compile information on new developments in forensic pathology and examined the inner workings of the Allegheney County Coroner's office, "which we found incredibly backward, and said so - publicly." 

The office, run by those incompetent to do so professionally, didn't have a proper autopsy table or even a microscope. But that was before he could do anything about it. In the meantime, he was called for military service, and was enlisted in the Air Force. 

"As a man in uniform," Wecht explains, "I caught a break by being stationed at the Air Force's largest hospital, Maxwell Air Force Base, in Montgomery, Alabama. Comprising more than 400 beds and staffed with specialists in a variety of medical fields, it was the Air Force's hub when it came to pathology. Approximately 28 Air Force bases throughout the Southeast regularly sent us specimens for study, and the workload kept me and my military colleague plenty busy - yet, typically not busy enough for me. But before long, the full-court press of my professional life and personal ambition was tamed ever so slightly by a young, attractive Norwegian-born women: Sigrid Ronsdal, Airman First Class." 

After meeting on a double-date, they were married in Pittsburgh, have three sons and a daughter, each successful in their professions.

As I was reading Dr. Wecht's service at Maxwell Air Force Base, where he met his wife Sigrid, I was working on another story, one about how Air Force Chief of Staff General Curtis LeMay led a two day conference of Air Force generals at Maxwell a week before President Kennedy was killed. I was corresponding with a Maxwell base historian, which I thought was another of those interesting and quirky coincidences. 

In 1964 Dr. Wecht was asked to address the 1965 AAFS meeting on the Warren Report conclusions from the perspectives of pathology, toxicology, psychiatry, criminalistics, anthropology, etc., so he went to the Carnegie Library in Pittsburgh to review the Warren Report and accompanying 26 volumes. "To my astonishment," he says, "I found that, other than a small and incomplete one at the tail end of Volume 15, it had no index. My contention has always been that the Feds had done this deliberately so that neither the American public nor the news media would bother to read let alone research the report. But no matter. Eventually, I was able to pull together the information that I needed, prepare my presentation and deliver it at the annual conference of the AAFS, in February 1965. And I've been up to my eyeballs with the JFK assassination ever since." 

In 1978 Dr. Wecht served on the forensic-pathology panel for the U.S. House of Representatives Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA), reviewing and analyzing the Warren Commission Report regarding the assassination of President Kennedy, in which he filed a minority report, disagreeing with the majority of those on the panel. He was also granted the opportunity to be the first non-governmental forensic scientist to review the autopsy materials of John F. Kennedy. 

Dr. Wecht was known to be honest and truthful about his analysis, and couldn't be paid to say something he didn't believe, and that is the reason I think he was intentionally excluded from key meetings and interviews the rest of the panel kept him ignorant of, just like the two primary autopsy doctors Humes and Boswell, kept Dr. Pierre Finck from a post autopsy review of what was left of JFK's brain. Neither Humes nor Boswell, US Navy doctors, had never conducted an autopsy of a gunshot wound before, and while Army doctor Finck had, he was late and arrived at the autopsy after the brain had been removed. Dr. Wecht thinks his exclusion from the HSCA meetings and Finck's exclusion from the brain exam and subsequent exile were intentional. When Wecht was given permission to examine the autopsy material, he found that the remnants of the brain were missing, and unaccounted for. 

As Dr. Wecht concludes: "For me, when it comes to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the arrow on the dial of guilt keeps pointing to the CIA, for a host of reasons. The CIA was at loggerheads with Kennedy about his approach to handling Fidel Castro and Cuba, which the agency saw as appeasement, or being 'soft on communism.' The CIA also resented the President's refusal to provide (air) cover for the Cuban exiles brigade, which had been trained and funded by the U.S. government and the CIA for the invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs in 1961...." 

When he gets annoyed or passionate about something, Dr. Wecht's profanity explodes, and he doesn't hide it in this book, as he says, "I'll tell you another thing: JFK was not killed by the Mafia. They wouldn't have had the balls to knock off a sitting President...." 

"My adversarial attitude toward government - and, at times, the press - is what always made me appear dangerous to the establishment (and sometimes to myself). In my opinion, the level of paranoia in America knows no bounds, and this includes the criminal justice system and corporate media. When you're a professional person considering the murder of a sitting president - I'm talking about my colleagues in forensic science and the press - and you chose to stand by the official government version of events, how can you reverse that later on, even when new evidence accrues against it? You can't. You're stuck, and so are they." 

As he quotes Joseph Conrad saying, "You shall judge a man by his enemies as well as his friends," and they they have certainly retaliated. As the newly released JFK assassination records reveal, he was intentionally kept out of key interviews and meetings of the House Select Committee on Assassination (HSCA) pathology panel, undoubtedly because they knew he would not just agree to go along with their cover up. 

Those who hire Dr. Wecht as a special witness on a case know going in he will not just say what they want him to say but what his analysis concludes after a detailed review of the evidence. 

In 2008 those his enemies with the power to do so went after him with a vengeance, accusing him of abusing the office he had been repeatedly elected to, including, among other things, of having his secretary attend to non-official business, something every CEO could be accused of. 

As Jeff Sewald puts it in his introduction: "At an age when many American men have either already left us or are spending their time playing golf or sunning themselves in Florida,... Cyril Wecht found himself confronting a ginned-up 84-count federal indictment for 'abuse of public office.' The trial that followed had an undercurrent of local political skullduggery and a gallery of colorful supporting players, including a hard-nosed defense attorney; a kindly Catholic nun who described the government agents who were seated in the courtroom during the trial as a 'pack of mad dogs'" Mephistophelian federal prosecutors; a discredited FBI agent; and a conniving and soulless district attorney. Had our protagonist been caught in a vast and sticky web of dirty politics, professional opportunism and personal revenge? We'll present Cyril's case." 

And he does. As did the Republican governor of Pennsylvania who came to his aide at the time, and even Senator Arlen Specter, the Pennsylvania senator who remained friends with Dr. Wecht over the years, despite their very public and heated arguments over the single-bullet-theory. Specter even attended and made a presentation at a JFK assassination Conference hosted by the Wecht Center for Forensic Science and Law at Duquesne University. 

"I have been speaking about the JFK assassination for decades, on TV and in the press, and at many venues including the Cyril H. Wecht Institute  of Forensic Science and Law, and at conferences sponsored by Citizens Against Political Assassinations (CAPA), an organization for which I am Chairman. Through CAPA, my colleague and I remain in pursuit of the release of the remaining records related to the assassination. Our goal is to find the truth, once and for, and to seek justice." 

As the Research Coordinator for CAPA and serving on the board of directors, I have been participating in twice monthly conference calls with Dr. Wecht, who runs the meetings smoothly, confidently and occasionally spiced with humor, getting things done and not beating around the bush. 

From my research into the historical and detailed circumstances of the assassination, and his extensive analysis of the forensic pathology aspects, we have both come to the same conclusion, while we don't know exactly who killed the President, what occurred at Dealey Plaza at 12:30 pm on November 22, 1963 was a covert intelligence operation designed to deceive and a coup d'etat, the violent change in government power. 

And I believe we will soon obtain the remaining sealed government records and we will obtain our goal of finding the truth, though at this point in time, justice will be fleeting. 

Bill Kelly 

The Life and Deaths of Cyril Wecht: Memoirs of America's Most Controversial Forensic Pathologist: J.D., Cyril H. Wecht, M.D., Jeff Sewald: 9781476684246: Books

Citizens Against Political Assassination


Thursday, December 3, 2020

Dear President Trump - Please Release the JFK Files



As suggested by my friend and associate William Paris, President Trump has the disposition and temperament to release the remaining sealed JFK assassination records - as a parting shot of his administration. And I agree, so I wrote this letter and intend to plant the seed of this idea in the minds of three of his know associates - Roger Stone, Michael Caputo and Rep. Jeff Van Drew. Stone of course, is the Republican dirty trickster, pardoned by the president and author of a book blaming the assassination of JFK on LBJ. Caputo is a Stone protege and associate of mine on other issues, while Jeff Van Drew is the former democrat elected to represent the 2nd District of New Jersey who switched parties and was re-elected as a Republican by a slim margin over Amy Kennedy. If this doesn't work we may have to start a mass movement and flood the White House with letters, emails, faxes and phone calls, and if that doesn't work, do the same for Joe Biden, though I think his national security team will recommend the continued with holding of these records. 

President Donald Trump

1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW,

Washington, D.C. 20500

(202) 456-1111 / 1414


November 22, 2020

Dear President Trump,

According to the JFK Act of 1992, you are the only one who can order the release or continue to withhold the government files on the assassination of President Kennedy.

Unanimously passed by Congress and signed into law by President G. H. W. Bush on October 26, 1992, the JFK Act [44 USC c21/2107] provides for the expeditious disclosure of the records relevant to the assassination of President Kennedy. It required the full release of all such records by October 21, 2017, unless withheld by the President.

Although you repeatedly said that you would release these important records at that time, then White House Chief of Staff Gen. John Kelly and CIA director Mike Pompeo convinced you otherwise, and you agreed to continue to withhold many records. Since it is now apparent that General Kelly is not a friend, and the continued withholding of these records is no longer in the public interest, it is now time for you to order their release.

According to the law the Act remains in effect until the Archivist of the United States informs the President, the Congress and the public that the last withheld assassination record has been released. So it is still the law of the land.

This is not a liberal - conservative, right wing - left wing, Democrat or Republican, conspiracy or non-conspiracy issue, it is one that everyone wants, except those in the Deep State with something to hide. As Federal Judge John Tunheim and former chairman of the Assassination Records Review Board said, there is no reason for any record to be withheld any longer.

Will you please see to the enforcement of the JFK Act of 1992, and order the release all of the government’s records on the assassination of President Kennedy, as only you can do?

Thank you,

William Kelly

Research Coordinator –

Citizens Against Political Assassinations (Dr. Cyril Wecht, chairman) 

William Kelly 

P.O. Box 250

New Lisbon, New Jersey



Cc: Roger Stone, Michael Caputo, Jeff  VanDrew