Fletcher Prouty Re-Considered
I think Col. Fletcher Prouty sometimes gets a bad rap, especially from the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB) and those Lone Nutters who are threatened by what he has to say. But there are certain undisputable things you can’t take away from him.
Prouty is a part of the composite character “Mr. X,” portrayed by Donald Sutherland in Oliver Stone’s “JFK.”
Prouty was a Colonel in the Air Force, and he most certainly worked in the Pentagon, with an office just down the hall from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as the focal point officer (1955-1963) responsible for coordinating special operation activities between the Pentagon and the CIA. He was a close associate of General Victor “Brute” Krulak, a major player in the JFK assassination story.
After he retired Prouty wrote an important book The Secret Team (Prentice-Hall, 1973-1992-1997, Skyhorse 2008-2011)in which he describes how the CIA was originally established to serve as a government Think Tank, analyzing intelligence, but quickly became involved clandestine and covert operations. The Secret Team, or ST, is a phrase coined by L. Fletcher Prouty in 1973, alleging a covert alliance between the United States' military, intelligence, and private sectors to influence political decisions.
I first met Prouty through my Committee for an Open Archives (COA) and Coalition on Political Assassinations (COPA) associate John Judge, and my knowing Prouty played a big part in obtaining the cooperation of Ralph Cox in writing the story of the CIA propriety airlines – CIAir.
Back in 1992, with the impending release of Oliver Stone’s “JFK,” the media blitz sparked an American University professor to host a conference of the subject of films and politics, and when one of the speakers couldn’t make a planned panel on the subject, the moderator asked John Judge to fill in.
That was a major boost for our fledging organization the Committee for an Open Archives (COA), as John Judge certainly stood out and his opinions were widely appreciated, especially so because the event was carried live and archived by C-SPAN TV.
Shortly thereafter National Public Radio host Diane Rehm whose show was then broadcast from studios at American University, asked John to be a guest, and John brought Fletcher Prouty along with him, another successful media boost for COA.
American University is also the home of history professor Peter Kuznick, who worked with Oliver Stone in making a series of alternative history programs.
One of the Assassination Records Review Board members Anna Kasten Nelson, also taught there, as well as Max Holland’s wife, Professor Alana Holland, who once advised him “to look for patterns,” something that Max doesn’t seem to bother doing. But I certainly do – as seeing such patterns has led me to Collins Radio, Bell Helicopter, Civil Air Patrol, Defense Language Institute, Pan Am Bank of Miami, and other such subjects that reoccur throughout the JFK assassination story. I will later outline how these subjects fit into the assassination story.
As for Colonel Prouty, he appears to be a sort of like the Colonel
Martin Casey, “Jiggs” character in Seven Days in May, who begins to perceive what he believes is a coup d’etat in the works and blows the whistle on it.
Prouty believed that because he was out of the loop on the JFK assassination plans, he was sent on a mission to the South Pole, and was on his way home in New Zealand when the assassination occurred. There he read of the basic background of Lee Harvey Oswald – Civil Air Patrol, USMC, stationed at Atsugi U2 base, learned Russian language, defector to Soviet Union, returns with no consequences, Fair Play for Cuba Committee, visits to Cuban and Soviet embassies in Mexico City, etc., and like most intelligence analysists worth their salt, concluded Oswald was some sort of covert operative, and therefore the assassination was a covert intelligence operation.
Unlike most conspiracy theorists who try to pin the blame for the assassination squarely on the shoulders of the CIA, Prouty believed the plan for the assassination originated at the Pentagon. John Judge used to say that, “I started from the ground up and Prouty started from the top and worked down and we met at the Pentagon.”
While I don’t dismiss the role of the CIA in the assassination, especially what came out of their Miami JMWAVE station, they worked closely with the military that supported their covert operations, especially those against Cuba.
The Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB) interviewed Prouty and tried to discredit him, focusing on his allegation that military intelligence agents were often used in presidential security, as they were in Mexico City when the president visited there, and an phone call Prouty received from a former military intelligence agent sometime after the assassination, which Prouty himself says was an almost “Irrelevant issue,” as reflected in their published reports.
Those who poo-poo any conspiracy in the assassination often use those reports to discredit Prouty, and illogically conclude that if he was wrong about one thing everything else he says is invalid. Well that’s just not the case.
Military intelligence may not be directly involved in domestic presidential security, they are required to keep the Secret Service informed of any threats against the President they are aware of, and they just didn’t do that. And military intelligence was all over Dealey Plaza that day, as Army Intelligence agent James Powell took photos of the TSBD and was caught inside during the dragnet. As the ARRB was informed at a public session, an Army intelligence officer from Fort Sam Hood said that he was part of a communications unit that filmed or video taped the assassination as an assignment, so they must have had foreknowledge of not only the assassination but when and where it would occur, as Phil Ochs put it, “national security observers.”
And it was an Army intelligence officer who notified the Dallas Police that they had a file on Oswald that included the alias Alec Hidel.
The whole military intelligence angle needs to have it’s own article, and will.
Prouty wrote another post-JFK movie book - JFK – The CIA, Vietnam and the Plot to Assassinate John F. Kennedy (Skyhorse, 2013), with an introduction by Oliver Stone and a Foreward by Jesse Ventura.
He also confirmed the CIA’s propriety ownership of ostensibly commercial airlines like Air America, but there were others – as I wrote about in CIAir and Gene Wheaton confirmed as he was named president of one of them – National Cargo, where he worked closely with Carl Jenkins, one of the Bay of Pigs and JMWAVE trainers.
It is indisputable that Prouty was a Colonel in the Air Force and personally knew and worked closely with others who are entwined in this story, Generals Edwin Lansdale and Victor “Brute” Krulak to name two.
I had never heard of Krulak until Prouty mentioned him, but now recognize that he was very much in the thick of things as Special Assistant for Counter-Insurgency Activities – responsible for military support for the CIA covert ops against Cuba. Krulak worked directly for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, but had an office in the White House where he refused to wear a suit and tie instead of his military uniform. A personal friend of the President, JFK’s PT-109 took some of Krulak’s marines off an enemy held beach under fire, as portrayed in the book and film PT-109.
[ For more on Krulak see: https://jfkcountercoup.
It was Krulak’s deputy – Colonel Walter Higgins, who wrote the memo of the September 1963 meeting when the head of CIA’s Cuban desk – Desmond FitzGerald briefed the Joint Chiefs of Staff – the document that I consider the most significant smoking record released under the JFK Act.
When Prouty first saw the photos of the Dealey Plaza tramps he thought he recognized then recently retired Gen. Lansdale walking in the background, and sent the photo to Krulak, who wrote back to Prouty that it most certainly was Lansdale, same haircut, same walk, same ring, and wondered what he was doing there? I think that is something we should be wondering too.
[ Krulak letter: https://prouty.org/letter.html ]
I don’t put much faith in photo identification evidence, as they are all controversial and subject to opinions, but then John Newman told me that when he was researching the background of Lansdale at that time, he traced Lansdale to Fort Worth, Texas, where he was a few nights before the assassination, as was the President. So he was in the area at the time.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the fact that Prouty sometimes gave talks to some questionable groups, as many others have, and you can’t be judged by those you share a stage with – as those who have with Fetzer, JV Baker, LaRouche and Roger Stone.
So Colonel Fletcher Prouty gave us a lot of good leads that can be independently corroborated, and while he may have exagerated certain aspects of the story and came to some wrong conclusions, many of the leads panned out and far exceed those negative things.
[Spartacus on Prouty: https://spartacus-educational.
One of Prouty’s biggest supporter, Len Osanic has some of his interviews archived on line including two with John Judge one of which may be the NPR talk show:
Collected Works of Fletcher Prouty: