Thursday, June 17, 2021

Murder, Inc. - A Review

 MURDER, Inc. – The CIA under John F. Kennedy by James H. Johnston (Patomac Books, 2019)

Murder, Inc.: The CIA under John F. Kennedy: Johnston, James H.:  9781640121553: Books

After I read a brief interview with the author of Murder, Inc., James Johnston, I thought that from his background as a Church Intelligence Committee attorney, this book could be a game changer because it focuses on the CIA-Mafia plots to kill Fidel Castro that cuts like a scalpel to the heart of the JFK assassination story. But instead it is more like a sledge hammer against the brain and doesn’t really deal with the key elements of the Murder, Inc. story but runs rings around them.

A lot of what he says is true, but he leaves out some of the most important parts - as Paul Harvey would say, the rest of the story. 

The book takes its title from a once censored remark by former President Johnson that he didn’t believe the Warren Commission’s conclusion that a deranged lone gunman killed JFK because “we were running a damn murder incorporated in the Caribbean.”

The emphasis here is on “We,” the USA, but Johnston tries to flip the we, meaning JFK and USA, to Castro, implying that Castro used Oswald to kill JFK in retaliation for the CIA-Mafia and other plots to kill him, a black propaganda disinformation campaign that began before the assassination and continues today, and this book is a good example.

Instead of focusing on the CIA-Mafia plots to kill Castro and the CIA’s JMWAVE operations aimed at killing Castro, were the Dealey Plaza operation originated, Johnston makes a weak case for Castro being behind the assassination, the original Phase One cover-story – in Peter Dale Scott’s word. The equally false Phase Two cover-story is that a deranged lone nut killed the president for unknown reasons.

In promoting the Castro did-it Phase One cover-story Johnston follows in the footsteps of many exposed disinformation agents who promoted this black propaganda beginning even before the assassination.  I have compiled many documented examples of those who have tried to promote the false Castro Cuban Commie theory and they have one thing in common.

[  /   ]

They are all intelligence operatives, as Attorney and former House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) investigator Dan Hardway did the same as I did long before me and came to the same conclusion.          

[ ]

When Hardway finally got former CIA officer David Atlee Phillips on the stand to answer questions under oath, Phillips couldn’t explain why most if not all of those who were on Hardway’s list of Castro baiters, were also agents, operatives or aseets of Phillips. But he acknowledged they were known to him.

Then Gus Russo, who at first came across as a dedicated independent researcher,  after lunch with CIA offices, got a book contract and wrote Brothers in Arms – that promoted the notion that JFK and RFK approved or ordered the assassination attempts against Castro, and JFK was killed by Castro.

Former CIA officer Brian Latell wrote The Castro Obsession, promoting the same thing, using such lame evidence as a Cuban defector who had manned a radio listening post in Cuba who claimed that Castro himself had told him to listen to radio reports from Texas, insisting that it represented Castro’s foreknowledge of the assassination. In fact it only meant that Castro knew that JFK would be in Texas, not a state secret. Now maybe we should ask Cuba for their copy of the complete November 22, 1963 Air Force One radio transmissions. Perhaps since the Cubans were listening in, they recorded the Air Force One radio transmissions, and would be willing to share them with us, as the White House Communications Agency (WHCA) seems to have lost our copy.

Then former CIA officer Bob Baer got an unprecedented amount of money to produce a series of TV shows, all of which claim that while Lee Harvey Oswald killed the president alone, he was directed by Cuban Intelligence officers in Mexico City, who he says, probably met with Oswald at a bull fight, though that’s a big probably, as there is no evidence of it.

More recently former New York Times reporter Phil Shennon, at the urging of an anonymous former Warren Commission attorney, wrote a book A Cruel and Shocking Act, that says Oswald did his dirty deed at the behest of Cuban Intelligence officers, who he met at a Sylvia Duran Twist Party, attended by Oswald, and two other Americans and Cuban embassy officials who worked with Duran. While the other two Americans escaped Shennan, I located them and they were in Mexico City at the time of the assassination, months after Oswald had left, so Oswald could not have been at the Twist Party with them.

JFKcountercoup: A Cruel and Shocking Twist ]

Johnston says that Castro’s intelligence service was one of the best in the world and could have recruited Oswald to undertake the assassination, and probably communicated  with Oswald over short-wave radio, as Oswald had obtained such a radio in Russia that could have picked up Havana radio broadcasts.  The Cubans and Soviets built a joint electronic listening post on the north shore of Cuba and listened in to all US radio communications. And certainly radio communications come into play in various ways in the assassination story, especially in regards to the Dallas PD radios, Air Force One and Executive jet communications with the Situation Room at the White House and the Dallas Civil Defense Emergency bunker.  At Atsugi a former Marine who served with Oswald thought he was involved in radio, because he was always in the radio shack, and those on the Marion Sykes steamship that reportedly took Oswald to Europe said he was hanging out in the radio room. And radios are extremely important in regards to Collins Radio and SAC. And as seen in the first James Bond 007 movie Dr. No, British Intelligence used short wave radios to communicate with their agents in the field.

I agree with Johnston that whatever happened at Dealey Plaza, it was a covert intelligence operation, but unlike Johnston’s “obvious” question, after learning of the CIA-Mafia plots to kill Castro, did Castro retaliate?  I believe that the obvious question is whether the Murder Inc. operatives, who worked out of the CIA’s JMWAVE station in Florida, got tired of their plans and proposals to kill Castro being “disapproved by higher authority” and turned their guns on JFK instead.

As former FBI agent William Turner concluded years ago: "We now know to a fairly good degree of certainty what happened at Dealey Plaza. The motives were piling up - the Bay of Pigs, Cuban Missile Crisis, Vietnam, the back channel to Cuba, - the motives were piling up to the point they had to assassinate him. I think it’s' pretty obvious, with the compilation of the information we have today, that the mechanism of the crime came out of the allegiance between the CIA and the Mafia. They already had an assassination apparatus set up for killing Castro and they just switched targets and killed Kennedy instead."

And that’s what the records released under the JFK Act indicate.

The idea that Castro was behind the assassination was disproved by the Warren Commission, the Church Intelligence Committee, the House Select Committee on Assassinations and by independent investigation. And the idea that Castro was behind the Dealey Plaza Operation has been clearly shown to be a very distinct black propaganda and active disinformation campaign.

It is a certified established fact that Fidel Castro was not behind the Dealey Plaza operation for many reasons.

1)      The idea Castro Cuban Communists were behind the assassination is a very specific black propaganda and disinformation campaign that continues today, what they call an “active measure,” as this book clearly indicates.

2)      The reasons that disprove Castro was behind the assassination are many. For one, the National Security Agency (NSA) had Cuba covered, and was listening in and knew Castro was not behind the assassination.

3)      The CIA had Cuba’s Mexico City embassy covered, and knew what occurred there when Oswald visited and afterwards.

4)      Kennedy’s good friend and former schoolmate ambassador William Attwood was engaged in JFK-approved backchannel negotiations with Castro’s UN ambassador Carlos Lechuga at the very time of the assassination. It should be noted that Attwood introduced JFK to his paramour Mary Pinchot, who married CIA officer Cord Meyer, Jr., while Lechuga had an affair with Sylvia Duran when he was Castro’s ambassador to Mexico.

5)      JFK met with French journalist Jean Daniel shortly before Daniel visited Castro in Cuba, conveying a message, and they were together when news of the assassination reached them, giving us a close witness to Castro’s reaction to the assassination.

        Castro’s long speech on the day after the assassination clearly states his position on the matter.

7)      The HSCA and other investigators who have interviewed Castro at length have come away knowing that he was not responsible.

When Castro said that if American leaders try to assassinate others, they themselves won’t be safe, he didn’t mean he would try to kill them, he meant they could be killed by the same mechanism set up to kill others, as JFK was.

Johnston writes, “When the CIA entered the assassination business, it turned to organized crime to do the dirty work of killing Castro. This began in the last months of the Eisenhower administration…..”

Yes, it began during the Eisenhower administration, with Richard Bissell, James O’Conner and Robert Mahu, who went first to John Rosselli who brought in Sam Giancana and Santo Traficante.

“The CIA’s relationship with the mob became even more problematic after FBI director J. Edgar Hoover discovered Kennedy was having an affair with another of Giancana’s girlfriends (Judy Campbell).”

And when RFK learned about these shennigans he told the CIA that if they get involved in these sorts of things he wants them to inform the Attorney General about them. But they didn’t.

Ah, yes, Judy Campbell, the mob moll who bedded Giancana and JFK, and whose Vegas apartment was broken into by the Hale twins under the watchful eye of an FBI stakeout crew. But they did nothing because their father was I.B. Hale, a former high level FBI agent close to Hoover who was head of security at General Dynamics. Lee Harvey Oswald attended Arlington Heights high school with the Hale twins, who laughed him off the field when he tried out for football, and then dropped out to enlist in the Marines. And that’s not all, when Oswald returned from the USSR Mrs. Virginia Hale, the twin’s mother, helped Oswald get jobs at Leslie Welding and Jagges/Chiles/Stoval, as she worked for the Texas Employment Commission. But all of that goes unsaid in Murder Inc.

“The underworld operations ended with the missile crisis in October 1962….”

But not with John Rosselli. While Giancana and Traficante were dropped off the operation, Rosselli got a new case officer – William Harvey, who ran ZR/RIFLE, the assassination out fit. Rosselli went to JMWAVE where he was known as Colonel Rawlston. U.S. Army Ranger Captains Ed Roderick and Bradley Ayers were sent by General Brute Krulak to assist CIA trainers Rip Robertson, John I.F. Harper, and Carl Jenkins to prepare the Pathfinder snipers at Point Mary off Key Largo, Florida to kill Castro. 

The anti-Castro Cuban commandos were known as the Mambasis for their hatred of Castro, and later JFK, and they included the Pathfinder teams, the best of the lot who according to CIA NPIC technicians, were assigned the Pathfinder plan to kill Castro with a high powered rifle as he drove by in an open jeep. That’s the plan that was “disapproved by higher authority,” and I believe turned on JFK at Dealey Plaza.

It was originally under the command of William Harvey, but was later transferred to Desmond FitzGerald when Harvey was ordered relieved and reassigned by RFK.

Harvey remained Rosselli’s case officer even after he was transferred to Chief of Station in Rome, Italy, where James Jesus Angleton had served and Clare Booth Luce had been ambassador.  Harvey continued to meet with Rosselli in Florida and arranged for the CIA to provide his team of anti-Castro commandos with a U-Haul truck full of weapons that none of the other JMWAVE teams received.

As Johnston sasy, Harvey was replaced as head of the Cuban operations by Desmond FitzGerald.

“By the next April,” Johnston writes, “the CIA had a new head of Cuban operations, Desmond FitzGerald. He proposed a coup in Cuba. Orchestrating a coup was a conventional way to bring about regime change, FitzGerald argued. Given a green light by the President, The CIA recruited Castro’s friend Rolando Cubela, who felt Castro had to be eliminated at the start of the coup. He wanted the CIA to give him assassination weapons.”

Yes, and it was Desmond FitzGerald who briefed the Joint Chiefs of Staff on CIA covert Cuban operations in late September, 1963, when he told them the CIA was “studying in detail” the German military plot to kill Hitler – the Valkyrie plan, a study the CIA has since lost and has no record of. But if you do study that plot designed by disenchanted high level German military officers, there are five aspects of that plan that can be seen in action in Dealey Plaza, two of which are dealt with in this book.

The first is to get the intended victim to sign off on the operation, while the other is blaming the murder on the opposition – Castro Cuban Commies, a black propaganda and disinformation plot that was proven false, but is still on-going.

Getting the victim’s approval is another thing all together - as Hitler did approve and signed Col. Von Staufenberg’s Valkyrie plan to have the home guard take over key installations if there was a sudden uprising by slave laborers, or the sudden death of the Fuhrer.  And they tried very hard to get JFK or even RFK to approve the assassination of Castro, but they refused. The Pathfinder plan to kill Castro with high powered rifles as he drove by in an open jeep, was “disapproved by higher authority,” and when RFK learned about the CIA-Mafia plots, said he would like to be informed of such things, and later when accused of approving them, said no, “I tried to stop them.”

The so-called Hemingway Plot to kill Castro is the closest thing those Kennedy baiters and haters have to JFK or RFK implying they wanted Castro dead, and that is a joke. If they had more they would use it but they don’t.

[     ]

But Johnston ignores the official records on this point and says: “Having a direct hand in murder gave the agency pause, but after off-the-record meetings with Attorney General Robert Kennedy and the president on November 19, 1963, the CIA made the decision to give Cubela the weapons. It was working out the details with him at the very moment the president was murdered three days later.”

Johnston says: “The obvious question at the time should have been whether Castro had retaliated.”

No, the obvious question now is whether the US Murder Inc. mechanism of death set up to kill Castro was redirected to JFK at Dealey Plaza.

Desmond FitzGeral was the point man in getting Rolando Cubella (AMLAS) to organize a coup against Castro, the first stage of which would be his assassination.

While FitzGerald told the Joint Chiefs of Staff that they had identified as many as ten disgruntled Cuban military officers who didn’t like Castro or Communism, they were not yet communicating with each other, and it appears Cubella could not get them organized. That wasn’t a problem with the US military, as the Joint Chiefs of Staff – other than Taylor, were passionately hateful of the President.

While Johnston gives a lot of details to the AMLASH-Cubella plot, he fails to mention one key aspect of it. While FitzGerald himself met with Cubella, another case officer met with him on numerous occasions, sometimes in Paris, they met with him once in Brazil, and implied that JFK and RFK were knowledgeable and supported the operation. The very next day Castro met with AP reporter Daniel Hargress at a reception at the Brazilian embassy where he said that US leaders who intend to assassinate foreign leaders will themselves not be safe.

To CIA counter-intelligence experts, that meant that Cubella was a double-agent and informing Castro himself of every move the CIA made, and encouraged FitzGerald to break off contact with him, but he didn’t.  Why leave out that important key element to the story?

Johnston also quotes and considers reliable some of the more pronounced disinformation agents promoting the Castro story – CIA media asset Hal “The Spook” Hendrex, CIA agent Brian Latell, CIA historian David Robarge, and Desmond FitzGerald’s assistant Samuel Halpern, who has consistently and falsely said that CIA Training officer Charles Ford was RFK’s personal liaison to the mobsters as part of the CIA-Mafia plots to kill Castro. Professor John Newman dedicates a whole chapter in one of his JFK series of books to Halpern, and conclusively destroys him as a valid source.

As for Hal Hendrix of Scripps Howard News Service (SHNS), fellow SHNS reporter in Dallas Seith Kantnor was told to call him from Parkland Hospital, and Hendrix, known as “The Spook” for his intelligence connections, gave Kantnor in Dallas a complete rundown of the background of Lee Harvey Oswald from Miami.  As a friend of Jack Ruby, one of his sources, Kantnor tried to get copies of his phone records in order to write a book about Ruby, but his call to Hendrix from Parkland hospital was sealed for reasons of national security.

The CiA’s official historian Robarge, wrote a still highly redacted biography of former CIA director John McCone, and it must be one of the redacted sections that includes the briefing he got from the NPIC who reviewed the Zapruder film and made two briefing boards from blown up still frames, and told McCone their analysis indicates two gunman fired on the president.

Johnston does mention that Halpern and FitzGerald were together having lunch at a private Georgetown club when they learned of the assassination and left immediately. And while Johnston misquotes FitzGerald as wondering out loud if the Cubans were involved, he actually wondered if HIS Cubans were involved – the Mambasis Pathfinders.

It isn’t the pro-Castro Cubans who had the means, motive and opportunity to kill the President, it was the anti-Castro Cubans paid and trained to kill Castro by the CIA at JMWAVE, who did have the means, motive and opportunity, and took it.

So by the end of this book, it is quite clear that the full and complete story about Our Murder, Inc. in the Caribbean has yet to be written.

In order to fully appreciate what Johnston’s book gives us, and what’s wrong with it, I will be posting annotated excerpts from it at

For More Info on:

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Letter to Public Interest Declassification Board and Response


April 26, 2021

Hon. Ezra Cohen, Chairman

Public Interest Declassification Board

c/o Information Security Oversight Office

National Archives and Records Administration

700 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., Room 100

Washington, D.C. 20408-0001

Re: President John F. Kennedy Records Collection Act

Dear Mr. Cohen:

We, the undersigned, respectfully request that the Public Interest Declassification Board (“PIDB”) add to its proposed agenda for its upcoming meeting scheduled for May 17, 2021, the topic of the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Act of 1992 (“JFK Act”), 44 U.S.C.#2107 (Supp. V, 1994) and related declassification issues.

The JFK Act, which was enacted by Congress in 1992, required all government agencies to search for records in their possession concerning the assassination and place them in the National Archives. A Review Board (“ARRB”) was established to identify and retrieve all assassination records but its existence terminated in 1998, with its work not having been fully completed. The AARB’s Final Report set forth ten recommendations which have never been the subject of any meaningful oversight, analysis or implementation in the two decades since they were issued. See:

The PIDB is the appropriate forum to evaluate whether and to what extent those recommendations, especially #7, have been fulfilled or should be pursued.

But more importantly for now is that the JFK Act mandated tat each “assassination record” be publicly disclosed in full and be available no later than the date that is twenty-five years after the date of the enactment of the JFK Act. Any request for postponement of a record by an agency required “clear and convincing evidence” that one of five enumerated harms would occur if the assassination records were disclosed and that harm would outweigh the public interest in disclosure. While the original deadline for all records to be disclosed in full was October 26, 2017, President Trump postponed that obligation until October 26, 2021. See Memorandum of President of the United States, “Certification for Certain Records Related to the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy” (April 26, 2018), 83 F.R. 19157 (May 2, 2018), available at

Two additional deadlines are in play right now. President Trump’s memorandum required that “(a)ny agency that seeks further postponement beyond October 26, 2021, shall, no later than April 26, 2021, identify to the Archivist the specific basis for concluding that records (or portions of records) satisfy the standard for continued postponement under section 5(g)(2)(D) of the Act.” Additionally, the Archivist shall recommend to the President, no later than September 26, 2021, whether continued withholding from public disclosure of the identified records is warented after October 26, 2021.”

The PIDB as the opportunity to play an important role in ensuring that the public has the fullest access to a thorough, accurate, and reliable documentary record of the assassination of our 35th President. Given that your Board’s role is to advise the President of the United States regarding issues pertaining to national declassification and declassification policy, we cannot think of a more appropriate endeavor for the PIDB to engage in over the next few months as these deadlines loom and faithful execution of the law is imperative.

Some of the undersigned have studied the Kennedy assassination for decades. Others helped work on the JFK Act and cooperated with the ARRB. We represent different views of what happened on November 22, 1963, but we all concur that the fullest possible disclosure of the documentary record is long overdue. The terms “conspiracy” and “theory” have no place in this discussion. We are focused on declassification, transparency and compliance with the law.

We hope the PIDB agrees to address this historic undertaking.


Mark S. Zaid

Cc: PIDB Members

David S. Ferriero, Archivist, NARA

Gary Stern, Esq., NARA General Counsel

Mark Bradley, Esq. , ISOO Director/PIDB Secretary


Mark E. Adamczyk

Daniel S. Alcorn

Mark Allen

Alec Baldwin

G. Robert Blakey

Bernard Festerwald, III

Dan Hardway

Paul L. Hoch

Max Holland

David S. Lifton

Fred Litwin

Edwin J. Lopez-Soto

Dan E. Moldea

Dale K. Myers

Gerald Posner

Gus Russo

Charles J. Sanders

David E. Scheim

Lawrence P. Schnapf

William M. Simpich

Anthony Summers

David Talbot

John R. Tunheim

David R. Wrone


Public Interest Declassification Board

The PIDB Issues Strong Statement in Support of Releasing JFK Assassination Records

On April 26, 2021 the Public Interest Declassification Board (PIDB) received a letter (click below to open letter) signed by several researchers and members of the public interested in the declassification and public release of records previously ‘postponed’ in 2017 and 2018. President Donald J. Trump previously certified agency postponement requests in accordance with the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992 (the Act) that established this collection and defined reasons agencies could request postponing the public release of specific information.

The PIDB remains interested in ensuring that the provisions of the Act are implemented and as much information as possible is declassified and made public. In 2017, the PIDB wrote a blog post about agency requests to postpone release of records in this collection. At that time, the members expressed their disappointment that so many records continued to be withheld from public access.  

The Act mandated that all records in the collection be released to the public by September 26, 2017 unless agencies requested specific delays, called ‘postponements’ in the Act, from the President, and the President certified that each postponement was warranted and met standards found in section 5 of the Act. The Act mandated that agencies had to request postponements from the President every four years until such time as all records are declassified and made available to the public.

The latest deadline was April 26, 2021. Importantly, the National Archives which serves as the custodian of the assassination collection can challenge agency requests. It has until September 26, 2021 to complete its assessment of agency requests.

The members call on the National Archives to exercise its authority in the Act to challenge all requests that do not strictly meet the Congress’ intent to release as much information as possible and only postpone the most sensitive records that meet the standards in section 5(g)(2) of the Act.

The members of the PIDB take its responsibility to promote a “thorough, accurate, and reliable documentary record of significant United States national security decisions and significant United States national security activities in order to…respond to the interest of…Congress…and respond to the interest of the public” seriously. As the National Archives begins its analyses of the agency requests, the PIDB will continue pressing for maximum transparency. In the coming months leading up to the September 26 deadline and the President’s October 26 certification deadline, the PIDB will remain engaged and advocate for the public release of these records.


Thursday, May 20, 2021

Committees of Correspondence Re: JFK Act

During the American Revolution the Committee of Correspondence was credited with helping to spark the Revolution against British rule over the American colonies. After the publication of the Warren Report the first generation of critics began to correspond among themselves. Then following the release of Oliver Stone's JFK movie so many people wrote their representatives complaining about the sealed JFK assassination records that Congress passed the JFK Act of 1992. 

Now we need another wave of letters directed not only to our representatives in Congress but to those who are on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, to get them to hold open public hearings on the JFK Act. While Larry set two deadlines - Sunshine Week in March and April 26, both of them are now passed and the best we can hope for is that they will hold such hearings before October 26, when the President must decide whether to release or continue to with hold the records. 

Other letters that have been sent to other relevant committees and agencies of government and the president, will be published later this week. But Larry got the ball rolling, and while it is an advantage to be a constituent of a member of the Oversight Committee, you don't have to be, as their position on the Committee requires them to listen to all citizens. The address Larry includes is that of the Oversight Committee office in the Rayburn House Office Building that should be used. Keep the letters short - one page should be enough, and don't be insulting. 

Now it's your turn. 

Larry Schnapf’s letter to Maloney

VIA Email and Overnight Delivery

February 22, 2021

Hon. Carolyn B. Maloney

Chair-House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform

2308 Rayburn House Office Building

Washington D.C. 20515

Dear Congresswomen Maloney

I am writing you as a long-term constituent and in your capacity as the chairwomen of the House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (“Committee”).

Pursuant to House Rule X, clauses 2, 3 and 4 (1) and consistent with House Resolution 556 which was referred to the Committee on October 4, 2017, I am requesting that the Committee conduct oversight hearings on the failure of the Executive Branch to comply with the requirements of the President John F. Kennedy Assassinations Records Collection Act of 1992 (“JFK Act”). I ask that the Committee hold these hearings during “Sunshine Week” or no later than April 26 – the date that the Archivist of the United States has set as the deadline for the security agencies to object to the release of the remaining JFK Records.

Specifically, I ask the Committee to:

- Conduct an oversight hearing before the April 26th deadline established by the Archivist for the agencies to request further postponement.

- Instruct any agency requesting further postponement to provide a Vaughn Index setting forth specific explanations on a document-by-document basis why the particular document needs to be withheld as required by Section 4 (3)(c) of the JFK Act.

- Require all agencies to provide and publish in the Federal Register explanations for each and every postponed document (or portion of document) and

- Investigate if certain records were properly categorized as “Not Believed Relevant” (NBR).

1.       House Rule X, clause 2(b) provides that the Committee shall review and study on a continuing basis…(C) any conditions or circumstances that may indicate the necessity or desirability of enacting new or additional legislation addressing subjects within its jurisdiction. ….

Very Truly Yours

Lawrence Schnapf



Just wanted to give you update. The letter was delivered to Maloney’s office last week as well as by email.

I was advised that it would be more effective to deliver the letter to committee counsel. It took some effort but I cobbled together a list of counsel from Linked-in since the annual publication listing congressional staff has not yet been published. I emailed the letter to several committee counsel earlier today will follow-up at end of week.

I am now in process of drafting letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee and will send next week to Grassley and Leahey (co-sponsors of the 2017 Senate resolution along with appropriate committee counsel).

A Canadian lawyer contacted me about filing writ of mandamus. I have to look into this. It might be an option if there is no action. Also evaluating if there is a way to compell the PIDB to review the release the records under the theory that the Obama executive order and the 2016 FOIA Improvement Act  may have implicitly overrode the more restrictive provisions of the JFK Records Act…  - Larry Schnapf 

Monday, May 10, 2021

The Lansdale Memo - Re-evaluated

 The Lansdale Memo 16 March 1962 Re-evaluated

Edward Lansdale - WikipediaFive Highlights From the Marvelously Messy Life of Ernest HemingwayFinal JFK assassination files due for release – it will be a bumper year  for conspiracy theorists

The recent PBS documentary series on Ernest Hemingway reminded me of The Nation article The Old Man and the CIA. 

After re-reading David Corn and Gus Russo’s article in The Nation – The Old Man and the CIA – in which they imply a single paragraph of an important memo is proof that President Kennedy and RFK wanted to kill Fidel Castro, I decided to read the entire memo and Larry Haapanen, who supplied it to Corn and Russo, was kind enough to give me a copy. 

The purpose of the meeting the memo concerns was to review the revised “Guidelines for Operation Mongoose,” – an operation that General Lansdale was in charge of.  The purpose of Mongoose was the overthrow of the Castro regime in Cuba.

Present: The President, General Taylor, the Attorney General, McGeorge Bundy, Mr. Gilpatrick, General Lemnitzer, Mr. McCone, Alexis Johnson, myself. At the White House 1600 hours, 16 March, 1962. ]

This memo is significant for more than what they write about in The Nation.

It’s timing 16 March 1962 is a year after the Bay of Pigs and seven months before the October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.

But Corn and Russo only quote from one paragraph from the memo, and don’t bother to provide a link or the full memo for you to read.  I for one don’t trust Gus Russo, whose book Brothers at Arms falsely portrays JFK and RFK and pushes the blatantly false cover-story that Fidel Castro was behind the assassination of the President.

The memo, written by Lansdale, begins with him asking CIA director John McCone if Richard Helms and William Harvey, the top two CIA operational officers, could join the meeting as they were waiting outside the Oval Office in the hall of the White House.

McCone asked Lansdale if he had any differences of opinion with them, and Lansdale replied, “we were in agreement on operational procedures, as far as the guidelines would permit operations. McCone then said they should stay outside.

McCone asked Lansdale if he was in agreement with the concept contained in the “Guidelines,” and he replied that the guidelines “…didn’t fit the conditions inside Cuba that were becoming more apparent to the operational people, including operatives for whom I had respect; the chances of fracturing te regime and creating a valid revolution is becoming more feasible. I felt that we needed much more freedom to work on the revolutionary possiblities than is possible under the guidelines.”

So Lansdale thinks the Mongoose Guidelines are too strict, and he wants more freedom of action. 

The President then came in.

JFK had read the revised Mongoose Guidelines the night before, so when he was handed a copy he put it down on a table. There is also a mention of a meeting the previous November. I will get copies of both the November meeting minutes and the revised Mongoose Guidelines.

The President then listened to General Taylor give a brief report on developments, and asked Lansdale what was being done.

Lansdale said, “I gave him a quick summary of the intelligence-collection plan through July, telling him that this was the Special Group’s plan, and describing the work so far of CIA and Defense. I told him that we finally were starting to get a really good team together for the operation, after much effort to get the U.S. pointed in the right direction. I noted that agents were to be trained or experienced in guerrilla warfare, that we needed U.S. military participation for support, including air-resupply and maritime actions.”

He asked for details. Both General Lemnitzer and I told him about “sheep-dipping” U.S. military personnel, “sanitizing” equipment, and use of U.S. bases.

Please see a definition of “sheep-dipping” U.S. military personnel. - According to the Urban Dictionary - Sheep dipping is "commonly used in intelligence circles is a way of saying someone has been given an alternate identity. The best known example being Air America, but also in many other covert ops applications....Stripping a soldier of is military uniform and identification so he can pose as a civilian during a covert mission." 

The example given is "Lee Harvey Oswald was 'sheep dipped' in order to carry on his involvement in the CIA's clandestine activities." 

Another example from the JFK Assassination records is Ralph Meyers, a relation to Jack Ruby's Chicago friend Larry Meyers, who visited Dallas on the weekend of the assassination. Ralph served in the Army and was assigned to a NSA position at a U2 and nuke missile base in Turkey. He was then relieved of his military service, worked as a bus driver in Chicago before working as a journalist in Mexico when Oswald was there.  

Lansdale continues: “I pointed out that PT boat silhouettes required a Navy base as a cover, even if we called it “R & E,” that air re-supply would be done at night from about 800-feet which entailed some risk which the Air Force was now assessing. He asked about maritime runs of the PT-boats; I explained our problems of “mother” ships, the LSD’s and 200-300 man crews, which we are trying to lick.”

“I remarked that the thesis of creating a revolution inside Cuba looked just as valid as ever, and that CIA professionals were now agreeing more and more that both resistance and the possibility of fracturing the regime pointed to some real opportunities. I noted that we were checking out a number of leads, including relatives of Fidel Castro, to assess the practical opportunities for splitting away some of the regime. If we could get some of the top Cuban leaders, and some units of the Cuban security forces to take to the hills, we would have conditions which would need quick exploitation – and we would have to be ready for this. I noted that we would have to supply arms and equipment; it is possible that this could be done without U.S. military intervention, but we must be ready to intervene with U.S. forces, if necessary.”

The President asked if U.S. military intervention was an issue which the Special Group was posing to him now. Taylor and the Special Group promptly said, “no.”

“General Lemnitzer commented that the military had contingency plans for U.S. intervention. Also, it had plans for creating plausible pretexts to use force, with the pretexts either attacks on U.S. aircraft or a Cuban action in Latin America for which we would retaliate." 

So Lemnitzer pitches his Northwoods Plan for staging a fake attack on US base or ship - ala Remember the Maine, in order to establish a pretext to attack Cuba, for which he was later fired for. 

"The President said bluntly that we were not discussing the use of U.S. military force, that General Lemnitzer might find the U.S. so engaged in Berlin or elsewhere that he couldn’t use the contemplated 4 divisions in Cuba. So, we cannot say that we are able not to make a decision on the use of U.S. military force.”

As they discuss during the meeting, one of the problems with formenting a revolt in Cuba and getting disenchanted Cuban government administratiors and military officers to revolt and form a coup d’etat was the fact that most of those disenchanted with Castro had left or were leaving Cuba for the United States.

“The President was then asked about immigration. Wouldn’t it be better to shut our doors to the people trying to get out, so they would be forced to stay and take action against the regime? I pointed out that we were still giving them only two choices: either to escape to the U.S. and freedom, or to stay as slaves. Once we are committed to helping them stage a revolt, provide arms, and are willing to go all the way in being sure that they win, ten we might consider closing out doors – because we then will be helping them gain teir freedom at home.   Now with 2,000 people fleeing every week, we would be foolish to remove this symbol of our sympathy and cut off the source of intelligence information and recruits. We must give the Cubans the chance and the help to free themselves.”

Then there’s the key paragraph that Corn and Russo say is proof of JFK and RFK desire to have Castro killed.

“The Attorney General then mentioned Mary Hemingway, something on reports that Castro was drinking heavily in disgruntlement over the way things were going, and the opportunities offered by the ‘shrine’ to Hemingway.”

Now that’s the end of the Kennedy’s statements about this – Mary Hemingway mentioned that Castro was drinking heavily in disgruntlement over the way things were going, and we only have Lansdale’s interpetation of “the opportunities offered by the “shrine” to Hemingway.

What opportunities could there be? To kill him there? I don’t think Mary Hemingway, a friend of Castro, would apprecitate that, and there are no other documents in the CIA records that reflect on this or their making plans for any opportunities the shrine presented.

But to Corn and Russo – this begs the question: “Did John and Robert Kennedy plot murder? For decades, a clear answer to that dicey question has evaded historians, while Kennedy loyalists have fought hard to prevent such a stain from befouling the memory of the brothers.”

“But a thirty-nine-year-old Pentagon memorandum–found three years ago by a college professor…” – A College professor who disagrees with their intepretation that  to them “….–suggests that Jack and Bobby discussed and apparently sanctioned the development of a possible assassination attempt against Fidel Castro during a 1962 meeting in the Oval Office. And–in a weirder-than-fiction twist–the scheme they considered involved Ernest Hemingway’s farm outside Havana.”

What? Where is that “suggestion”? Nowhere. And where is the “apparently sanctioned the development of a possible assassination attempt against Fidel Castro”?

Now we know that the CIA had a number of plans to kill Castro with a high powered rifle as he drove in an open jeep by areas he was known to frequent – two are mentioned in the Pathfinder Plan – Castro’s frequeting the Bay of Pigs, where he apparently kept a boat – and the duPont’s Xandau estate where he was known to frequent. But both of those plans called for the NPIC National Photo Interpeteration Center technicians contribute to the plans with U2 and ground photos of the area, and blueprints of the buildings in the area. No such thing was done with Hemingway’s farm or shrine.

Lansdale continues: “I commented that this was a conversation Ed Morrow had with Mary Hemingway, that we had similar reports from other sources, and that this was worth assessing firmly and pursing vigorouslly. If there are grounds for action, CIA had some invaluable assets which might well be committed for such an effort.”

First off, the event at Hemingway’s farm, where Mary met Castro, was eight months previous, and there were no indications Castro would ever return there, and apparently didn’t. What other opportunities were there? None.

“McCone asked if his operational people were aware of this:

Now his two top “operational people” – Helms and Harvey, were right outside the door, but McCone wouldn’t allow them in, and according to Lansdale, later told the president this.

Lansdale said, “I told him that we had discussed this, that they agreed the subject was worth vigorous development, and that we were in agreement that the matter was so delicate and sensitive that it shouldn’t be surfaced…

Lansdale’s description of the Hemingway plan as “so delicate and sensitive” that its specifics should be hidden from the Special Group is another tip-off that the operation involved assassination.

But that’s Lansdale’s description of the Hemingway plan – a plan that doesn’t exist on paper, not JFK’s plan or RFK’s plan.

Corn and Russo write, “It is not clear what specific operation Robert Kennedy was referring to at the March 16 meeting.” Robert Kennedy never referred to a specific operation – he brought up the subject of Morrow and Mary Hemingway, it is Lansdale who mentions operations.

And they agree, “Neither Halpern nor Shackley recalls receiving orders for a mission involving the Hemingway farm. Those Mongoose records that have been declassified do not refer to an assassination attempt at the Hemingway home,” ….and “Assassinating Castro at the Hemingway site does seem far-fetched. But in the secret war against Castro, the US government entertained many bizarre ideas, including dusting his shoes with a chemical that would cause his beard to fall out.”

“That’s the giveaway,” says Peter Kornbluh, a senior analyst at the National Security Archive and a specialist on US documents regarding Cuba.

“This is the closest thing to a smoking gun that has been declassified. Only assassination would be taboo for open discussion at the Special Group, which routinely planned sabotage, violence and chaos to undermine Castro.”

If this is the “closest thing to a smoking gun that has been declassified, indicating that JFK approved a plan to kill Fidel Castro, then there is no smoking gun.

Samuel Halpern, who was the number-two to the officer who ran the CIA end of Operation Mongoose, calls the document “as close as we’re likely to get” to conclusive proof. And a former CIA director says, “The language of the memo speaks for itself. The only thing Robert Kennedy can be referring to is the assassination of Castro. This paragraph should never have been written.”

Well Samuel Halpern was an assistant to CIA official Desmond FitzGerald, who was encouraging AMLASH to kill Castro – with a high powered rifle. Halpern and FitzGerald were having lunch together in Geogetown when they learned of the assassination, and as they were leaving FitzGerald remarked that he wondered wheather “his Cubans” – the Pathfinder Cubans trained at JMWAVE, were invlved, as they were the ones paid and trained to kill Castro.

And I think we should be wondering the same thing.