MURDER, Inc. – The CIA under John F. Kennedy by James H. Johnston (Patomac Books, 2019)
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.
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 http://JFKCountercoup2.blogspot.com
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