At JFKfacts.org, which is the best website for keeping up with matters relating to the Kennedy assassination, the website's editor, Jefferson Morley, who used to be a reporter for the Washington Post, had two related postings.
One posting asked people to post requests at the National Archives' blog site to release the 1,100 records that the CIA continues to keep secret from the American people. That posting is here.
The other posting relates to an interview that a former staff member on the House Select Committee on Assassinations in the 1970s, Dan Hardway, recently had at Black Ops Radio. That posting is here.
Hardway was a law student when he went to work for the House Select Committee, which was reinvestigating the Kennedy assassination. He and another young staffer, Edwin Lopez, who was also a law student, were assigned to delve into CIA files relating to the assassination.
The CIA required them to do all their work at CIA headquarters. They could take notes but could not remove the notes or anything else from the building. At first the CIA was cooperative, bringing whatever records Hardway and Lopez were requesting.
At some point, however, when it became clear that the two staffers knew what they were doing and where they were going, the CIA abruptly abandoned its cooperative attitude. It instead brought in a CIA agent named George Joannides to serve as the CIA representative with whom the two staffers would now have to deal. From that point on, Joannides succeeded in blocking and obstructing the investigation being conducted by Hardway and Lopez.
Many years later, after Joannides had passed away, it was learned that Joannides was a rather interesting selection to serve as the CIA's liaison with the House Select Committee. Why? Because by that time he had already retired from the CIA. Rather than simply call on an active CIA official to serve as the CIA's contact with Hardway and Lopez, for some reason the CIA deemed it important to call Joannides out of retirement to serve as the CIA's contact man.
As people later found out, there was another interesting twist to the Joannides selection. He had actually played an interesting role in matters relating to the Kennedy assassination, a role that both he and the CIA, for some reason that is still unknown, kept secret from the Warren Commission in 1964 and from the House Select Committee in the 1970s.
When Lee Harvey Oswald moved to New Orleans in the summer of 1963, he had an interesting encounter with an anti-Castro group known as the DRE. When Oswald first met with the head of the DRE, a man named Carlos Bringuier, Oswald offered to help out the anti-communist DRE, which was a rather odd offer given that Oswald was supposed to be a devout communist.
Later, however, while passing out pamphlets for the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, a national organization that the CIA and the FBI were trying to destroy pursuant to their ardent anti-communist mindsets, Oswald got into a public altercation with Brinquier, which resulted in lots of publicity for Oswald and his affiliation with the Fair Play for Cuba Committee.
As a side note, another interesting twist to this story is that some of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee pamphlets that Oswald was distributing had the same return address stamped on them where a retired FBI agent named Guy Bannister, who had ties to U.S. intelligence, had his offices. In fact, witnesses said they sometimes saw Oswald in Bannister's offices.
One of the interesting byproducts of the Kennedy assassination was that soon after JFK's assassination, the Fair Play for Cuba Committee went out of business, in large part because of its purported affiliation with Oswald. What was also interesting is that Oswald was the only member of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee in New Orleans and, in fact, had set up the chapter himself.
So, where does Joannides fit in this tale? It turns out that in 1963, he was serving as the CIA's contact man for the DRE. Not only that, he was also responsible for delivering large sums of CIA money to the DRE to help fund its activities. Thus, there is a good possibility that Joannides was fully aware of those contacts that Oswald had with the DRE, both when he offered his services to the anti-Castro organization and when he had his much-publicized altercation with the DRE.
It gets more interesting. Immediately after Oswald was apprehended, the DRE went on the offensive, issuing statements to the press detailing Oswald's purported devotion to communism. Thus, there is a good possibility that Joannides was fully aware of the details and strategy behind that publicity campaign by the DRE.
In fact, while it has always been assumed that Joannides lived in Miami when he was serving as the CIA contact with the DRE, the CIA, according to Morley, recently admitted in a court filing that Joannides was actually living in New Orleans when Oswald made contact with the DRE in the summer of 1963.
Many years ago, Morley brought suit against the CIA under the Freedom of Information Act seeking the disclosure of the CIA's records on Joannides, especially those relating to his relationship with the DRE. The CIA fought the suit fiercely. Ultimately, the federal courts ruled in favor of the CIA, accepting the agency's representations that disclosure of the Joannides records would threaten "national security."
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• Oswald was given a nitrate test on the night after the shooting. Results showed he had not fired a rifle recently.
• Julia Ann Mercer, caught in traffic on Elm Street, saw a man get out of a truck and carry a rifle up the grassy knoll. She later identified the driver to the FBI as Jack Ruby.
• More than 500 photos were taken by 75 photographers in Dealey Plaza in the hour before, during and after the shooting. The Warren Commission examined 26 photos; the FBI examined 50.
• Sixteen of the 20 Dallas sheriff's deputies in Dealey Plaza believed shots came from the knoll and ran in that direction.
• Connally's clothes were dry cleaned, destroying evidence.
• Oswald's mother insisted that he was an intelligence agent.
• There was more metal in Connally's body than was missing from Commission Exhibit 399, which is known as the “magic bullet.” Connally died in 1993.
• Kennedy's brain is missing from the National Archives.
They were born a year apart to Jewish immigrants in rural towns as the Great Depression took hold.
Both served in the Air Force during the Cold War, studied law, went into politics. They nearly served together in the Senate. They wrote books and fought public battles.
Yet 3 centimeters of copper-jacketed lead forever separated Dr. Cyril Wecht of Squirrel Hill and the late Sen. Arlen Specter of Philadelphia.
When gunfire in Dallas 50 years ago this Friday ended the life of President John F. Kennedy, Wecht and Specter were on different professional trajectories.
“What I've done and who I am, in Pittsburgh, for better or worse, I don't think you can link to JFK,” said Wecht, 82, a forensic pathologist who was elected Allegheny County coroner and county commissioner around a decades-long medical-legal consultant business.
Exhibit 399 — the single bullet — made Wecht and Specter national names.
As a junior attorney for the Warren Commission, Specter developed the single-bullet theory of the assassination. He concluded the 161-grain slug fired by Lee Harvey Oswald entered and exited the bodies of Kennedy and Texas Gov. John Connally a combined seven times as the president's convertible rolled through Dealey Plaza.
“It began as a theory, but when a theory is established by the facts, it deserves to be called a conclusion,” Specter wrote in his 2000 book, “Passion for Truth.”
Wecht poked holes in the commission's findings during a 1965 meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences. He has spent 48 years explaining how Specter's “conclusion” fails, and with it the commission's finding that Oswald acted alone in Dallas.
“It was an American conspiracy,” Wecht said. “It was a coup d'etat.”
‘Impossible to explain'
On a recent October night in Oakmont, about 240 people pay $10 each to hear Wecht discuss the case.
Wecht's voice starts low with a clinical tone. He then starts pacing and describing the president's horrifying wounds in a louder, staccato style. Halfway through his description of a botched autopsy in Bethesda Naval Hospital, he is yelling.
“How does it grab you as an American citizen?” he asks the crowd that had just heard that two Navy doctors called to examine the leader of the free world had never performed a bullet-wound autopsy.
The crowd gasps upon seeing frame 313 of bystander Abraham Zapruder's film of the assassination. They murmur when Wecht mentions “a fairly young attorney, a junior legal counsel for the Warren Commission, Arlen Specter.”
They ask, given the evidence he just described, how anyone can believe the commission's findings.
“It's impossible to explain,” Wecht said.
“If they heard him talk, everybody would know the truth,” said Jannie Saxon, 48, of Oakmont, one of dozens who asked Wecht to sign their books after the speech.
Case a ‘launching pad'
Wecht said he did not set out to become famous for this case. A series of consultations led to what he called an “unplanned launching pad.”
Los Angeles County Coroner Thomas Noguchi called Wecht to consult on slain Sen. Robert Kennedy's autopsy in 1968. Work on other famous cases followed.
Back home, Wecht started his first term as coroner. When he got access to evidence at the National Archives in 1972 and found the president's brain was missing, a front-page article in The New York Times introduced him to America. So did Geraldo Rivera, who invited Wecht to appear on TV with him for an airing of the Zapruder film. Then came testimony before the House Select Committee on Assassinations.
“I was always into politics,” Wecht said recently in his Strip District office, where a wall contains a half-dozen photos of the Kennedy brothers. “But on a national level, it's certainly possible that I began to get these cases because of the name, the attention.”
After losing a Senate race to John Heinz in 1982, Wecht stayed active in Democratic politics and returned to the coroner's office from 1995 until 2006. Federal investigators accused and later dropped charges alleging he used his elected office to conduct his high-profile consulting career.
“He bucked the system and paid for it,” said longtime Warren Commission critic Robert J. Groden, who like Wecht served as an adviser on Oliver Stone's 1991 controversial film, “JFK.”
Specter was an assistant district attorney in Philadelphia when Howard Willens, Robert Kennedy's deputy at the Justice Department, asked him to work for the Warren Commission. Specter said he initally balked at the request because he was fighting the Teamsters in City Hall and considering a run for state Senate. His friends urged him to join.
In his book, Specter described missteps by the commission, the ways politics and Chief Justice Earl Warren pushed members to cut corners, and a few outright mistakes — such as the commission's failure to review autopsy photos and X-rays.
He defended the commission's conclusion, though.
In his book, he said he nearly sued Stone for libel because of the movie.
Guests watch a JFK speech at a ceremony commemorating the 50th anniversary of his Cold War declaration "Ich bin ein Berliner", on June 26, 2013. His wife Jackie reportedly told Monroe she was welcome to move into the White House.
Every day, people are charged with criminal conspiracy in courtrooms around the country. In those cases, a “conspiracy” merely describes a criminal act involving two or more individuals. Also every day, the establishment media reports on various criminal conspiracies — including racketeering, insider trading, political corruption, sex scandals and murder plots.
Murder plots are their favorite, particularly when a husband or wife or crazed lover hires an assassin to knock off a troublesome or inconvenient spouse for personal gain. The details and facts of those conspiracies attract a great deal of attention from journalists and news personalities who pore over police blotters, always looking for a good hook to a shocking story with “legs” and, therefore, a long life with lots of details and great ratings.
Yet, over the last 50 years, the simple, descriptive word “conspiracy” has taken on a double life. On one hand, a feverish “true crime” obsession has spread around the news business, turning newsmagazine shows into banal police procedurals, and transforming entire cable broadcasts into tabloid mimics fixated upon mysteries, cover-ups and conspiracies.
The media literally spent years on the case of Chandra Levy and never stopped asking “Who killed JonBenét Ramsey?” They’ve obsessed on Amanda Knox’s convoluted story and eagerly entertained various theories about the death of Princess Diana. And they even jumped headfirst into the feeding frenzy around the murder of J.R. Ewing!
On the other hand, when faced with the crime of the 20th Century — the murder of President John F. Kennedy — those selfsame establishment mediacrats have relentlessly and effectively mutated the term “conspiracy” into a dismissive, all-purpose epithet: the “conspiracy theory.”
Instead of handling JFK’s murder like a criminal case, they’ve treated it like an urban legend. Rather than examining eyewitness accounts or reporting on the facts and notable names associated with the murder, they’ve become a pool of official stenographers. They simply ignore conspiracy facts and make offhanded remarks about conspiracy theories.
Take note that it is always the plural: “theories.” It colors every critique or suspicion of the official story with the taint of alien autopsies, Bigfoot sightings and faked moon landings. Even worse, they’ve established a blockade around experts and researchers and best-selling authors who have — over the last 50 years — uncovered reams of new information and documents relating to the case.
No, the establishment media prefers to consult with news personalities and pulp-trade historians who opine about the “myth” and “legend” and psychological “meaning” of JFK’s life and death. This is an interesting, self-serving distraction. It avoids tough questions, replacing them with predictable intonations on the tragic fall of Camelot, with epic paeans to JFK’s charisma and Jackie’s panache, and with somber reflections on a nation’s shock and awe.
And it is all punctuated with the perennial question of “What if?” “What if Jack had lived?” Alas, it is no replacement for the far more relevant question of “How did Jack die?”
Ironically, the establishment media incessantly theorizes about “what ifs” and groans about conspiracy theories while the people they accuse in absentia of being “theorists” dutifully, often heroically, gather and share conspiracy facts.
Tune into CBS or NBC or ABC or anywhere around the dial, and you do not see James DiEugenio (Preview) or David Talbot or James Douglass. Instead you get Chris Matthews and Rob Lowe and, most disappointingly of all, Ken Burns. They speak like people who haven’t read. They embrace a theory they haven’t questioned. And they explain away “the people” who believe in conspiracy theories with callow psychobabble.
In spite of all their talk, they literally say nothing. There is no mention of the House Select Committee on Assassination’s determination that JFK was likely killed by a conspiracy or the invaluable book by Committee investigator Gaeton Fonzi. There is no mention of the information uncovered by the Assassination Records Review Board or that it was established because Oliver Stone did what many “journalists” and “mainline historians” refused to do. And, perhaps most significantly, completely absent is Jim Garrison’s prosecutorial dismantling (Preview) of the Warren Commission.
It is as if none of it happened.
Just imagine if the blood, hair and brain tissue splattered and still preserved on Jackie’s pink dress elicited the same scrutiny and attention as did that tiresome little semen stain left on Monica’s blue dress. Perhaps then the New York Times would ask why, if Oswald shot JFK from the rear with a non-exploding bullet, the woman sitting to the left of him was so thoroughly sprayed by the fatal shot.
Alas, after leading with “Let them see what they’ve done” — Mrs. Kennedy’s famous response to the suggestion that she clean up prior to LBJ’s hasty inauguration — the Times’ story blathers on about fashion, archival ethics and, of course, “the rifle used by Lee Harvey Oswald.” The reporter never mentions, if only to dispute it, that it has been shown repeatedly that neither the rifle northe bullet could have created those “iconic” stains in the first place.
America heard often about Bill Clinton’s crooked member. But it is strictly verboten to mention the Mannlicher-Carcano’s notoriously skewed gun-sight. Instead, the murder is treated like a moment frozen in time and consecrated by some preternatural force beyond the power of mortal men.
On ”Face the Nation,” a recalcitrant and almost fanatical Bob Schieffer pronounces that Kennedy was killed by a “madman.” On “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” Rob Lowe compares criticism of the Warren Commission (Preview) with Charlie Sheen’s belief that the moon is hollow. And the New York Times’ Executive Editor Jill Abramson takes over the Sunday Book Review to declare JFK’s life and death to be “elusive” without mentioning a single book detailing the facts that are, of course, elusive to those who choose to ignore them.
In this case, the use of the word “elusive” is a stark example of psychological projection. As David Talbot points out, it is exactly what the establishment media have been over the last 50 years. They’re elusive about their bungled reporting on a sloppy criminal conspiracy of epic proportions.
It is a failure that has metastasized over the five decades since, with those entrenched behind the privileged walls of network news, major newspapers and sanitized pulp-history continually doubling-down on a discredited theory that has them perpetually out of step with the majority of Americans who, not coincidentally, also distrust them.
Perhaps it is forgivable that many reporters and editors didn’t ask questions when faced with the rapid-fire public executions of a sitting president and his accused killer. The Cold War was hot. The Cuban Missile Crisis was fresh in the minds of many. Everything seemed dangerous and tenuous. It’s even reasonable to sympathize with Chief Justice Earl Warren, who LBJ forced — practically against his will — into an untenable situation.
But that was then. And this is now. Now there is no excuse for what journalist Jefferson Morley calls “JFK denialism,” or for the establishment’s growing track record of repeated “failures” just like it, with the lead-up to the Iraq War standing out in a crowded field of errors and supposed ignorance.
Perhaps the anniversary of JFK’s death is also the anniversary of a birth — of the establishment media’s ultimate cover-story for ignorance and complicity. By dismissing “conspiracy theories” it is instantly possible to elude conspiracy facts. Ultimately, the real conspiracy may be the criminal contempt our media elites have for open inquiry and how it allows others to get away with murder.
Jackie Kennedy believed Lyndon B Johnson was behind the 1963 assassination of her husband President John F Kennedy.
In the sensational tapes recorded by the First Lady months after the President’s death, broadcast by ABC, Kennedy revealed her belief that Johnson and a cabal of Texas tycoons orchestrated the murder of her husband by gunman Lee Harvey Oswald.
Kennedy, who later became Jackie Onassis, claimed that the Dallas murder was part of a larger conspiracy to allow Johnson to become American President in his own right.
Johnson, who served as a member of Congress, completed Kennedy’s term after the assassination and went on to be elected president.
Leading historian Arthur Schlesinger Jnr recorded the tapes with Jackie Kennedy within months of her husband’s death.
They have been stored in a sealed vault at the Kennedy Library in Boston after orders from Mrs Kennedy that they would remain secret for 50 years after her death.
Years after her mother died from cancer, daughter Caroline has opted to release the tapes early.
She has entered an agreement with the ABC network in the States who will air the tapes after agreeing to cancel their Kennedys drama series which upset Caroline and the Kennedy family.
The $10 million series starred Tom Cruise’s wife Kate Holmes as Jackie Kennedy and critically charted the family’s political and personal trials and tribulations since the 1930s. It has now been dropped in a deal with Caroline concerning these tapes.
ABC executives have confirmed that the revelations in the tapes are ‘explosive’ with Jackie Kennedy allegedly blaming President Lyndon Johnson for the death of JFK, according to the Daily Mail reports.
It is believed the tapes also include the suggestion that President Kennedy was having an affair with a 19-year-old White House intern with his wife even claiming that she found underwear in their bedroom.
Jackie Kennedy also admits to several affairs of her own in the tapes - one with Hollywood star William Holden and another with Fiat founder Gianni Agnelli - in retaliation for the President’s indiscretions.
There are also claims that the couple had discussed having more children in the weeks before his death.
Noted Kennedy family historian and author Edward Klein said: “Jackie regarded the pretty young things in the White House as superficial flings for Jack. She did retaliate by having her own affairs.
“There was a period during which she was delighted to be able to annoy her husband with her own illicit romances.”
Fifty years ago, the JFK assassination diminished and weakened American pride and spirit. Our national spirit and purpose have not been the same since Nov. 22, 1963. We were left confused and shocked by this one tragic, seemingly senseless murder. Consequently, the presidential assassination became a national nightmare. As years went by, we were lied to and truth was hidden. “Truth” was fabricated for us to consume because we were not willing to challenge it and too naïve to understand. The media played along and were unwilling to pursue those who were responsible. A patsy was held up to us as the alleged assassin only to have his life taken. A false summary report was presented to us by the new president that did not correspond to the evidence found in the official 26 volumes of the Warren Commission testimony. As a result, our national nightmare continued to be haunted by the lack of clear answers to the assassination. Over the decades a majority of Americans refused to believe that one lone gunman was the assassin. Researchers discovered that witnesses were intimidated, presidential security protocol measures were violated, state laws were broken, evidence destroyed, evidence planted, evidence fabricated, incompetent medical physicians were used to perform the presidential autopsy, and the result was a rush to judgment without regard to the truth. Feelings of disbelief, discouragement and doubt continued. We felt this way because no motivation could be established by government authorities for the alleged assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald.
Files are still hidden from the American people, so the truth will not emerge. Our national spirit was weakened because those in power did not accept the American constitutional way to change power. As a result, future trust in government authority diminished. Conspiracy theories emerged because legal forensic examination of the evidence was faulty and controlled by external government authorities. If the JFK assassination was simply one “lone nut” being killed by another “lone nut,” then why erect an immediate wall of secrecy? If the case was as simple as the government said, then why the delay of the release of all the files? Why should forensic researchers experience so much frustration to gain access to all the files?
More troubling questions have emerged since the Warren Commission Report (1964), House Select Commission on Assassinations (HSCA, 1979), and the Final Report of the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB, 1998) released their reports. Questions such as:
1) Why has there been a delay and difficulty to get at all the JFK files released since the passage of the JFK Record Act of 1992?
2) Why was the motorcade photographer’s position moved further back in the line-up instead of being located traditionally in front of the presidential limo?
3) Why did only one Secret Service agent react to the shooting on Elm Street?
4) Why was the military aide to the president not sitting traditionally in the front seat of the presidential limo between the Secret Service driver William Greer and Secret Service agent Roy Kellerman?
5) Why did Kennedy’s body show up in Bethesda with head wounds that contradicted Dallas doctors’ written medical reports?
6) Why was Kennedy’s body forcibly taken by the Secret Service before a legal autopsy could be performed by medical examiner Dr. Earl Rose at Parkland Hospital?
7) Why didn’t the FBI warn the Secret Service of their knowledge that a assassination hit team was in route to Dallas prior to JFK’s arrival?
8) Why did the Secret Service not allow the public to see Dallas doctors’ JFK news conference?
9) Why was the Zapruder film withheld from the American public and finally shown on Geraldo Rivera’s talk show, “Good Night America” in 1975?
10) Why was the presidential limo allowed to make that zig-zag turn through Dealey Plaza that violated Secret Service motorcade protocol instead of going straight down Main Street?
11) Why were two Secret Service agents waved off the rear bumper of JFK’s Limo by Secret Service agent Emory Roberts just as the presidential limo leaves Love Field?
12) Why did President Johnson order all evidence not released in the 26-volume Hearings and Evidence of the Warren Commission classified for 75 years?
13) Why would the HSCA close their investigation with much of the evidence considered secret and sealed for 50 years by congressional rules?
14) Why were witnesses intimidated in advance by the FBI and by the Warren Commission counsel?
15) Why was there no explanation for a photo showing the presence of another rifle found on the sixth floor of Texas School Book Depository building?
16) Why did Emory Roberts, the Secret Service agent in the follow-up car, prevent his fellow agents from reacting to the sound of gunfire and attempt to reach the president?
17) Why were Secret Service agents in Dealey Plaza immediately after the assassination seen confiscating and removing evidence from the crime scene?
18) Why did communications between the Pentagon and all other agencies go dead at the moment of the assassination for two hours?
19) Why was the nuclear command “Black Box” missing for a period of time following the assassination?
20) Why was JFK’s limo sent back to Hess & Eisenhardt of Cincinnati, Ohio, before a forensic examination could be completed?
Who could orchestrate something like this? Who could exert power to conceal from the American people what really happened and why? Only a few had to know the truth. Others were unknowingly manipulated to comply with direct commands. A conspiracy was created to hide the truth and to ensure a successful assassination. So why haven’t these questions been addressed? The answer is obvious. Because very high-level government officials were complicit in organizing, concealing and promoting falsehoods to cover their participation in the assassination plot. Various government intelligence, security and military agencies went along because they were told to do so.
Without answers for the tragedy of Dallas, the pain will continue to haunt the souls of thoughtful Americans. Justice delayed is no justice at all to find those responsible and the American soul remains anguished. As JFK so accurately stated, “A nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.” Americans want answers and are owed an answer for an assassinated leader who was constitutionally elected!
Warren Claude de Brueys, a managing director of the Metropolitan Crime Commission who also was an FBI agent whose duties included deciphering Japanese codes in World War II and compiling the first report on President John F. Kennedy's assassination, died Dec. 21 in Mandeville. He was 92.
A native New Orleanian who had lived in Covington more than 20 years, Mr. de Brueys joined the Metropolitan Crime Commission as its managing Director in 1979, two years after retiring from the FBI. He held that post for a decade, during which he was a member of the Governor's Commission on Criminal Justice, the Governor's Task Force on Drug Enforcement, the New Orleans Mayor's Citizens' Commission Against Crime and the Juvenile Courts Subcommittee of the Judicial Planning Committee. He also was chairman of the Subcommittee on Police, Courts and Corrections.
He returned to his hometown after an FBI career that began during World War II, when he worked undercover with the FBI in Mexico City. During that period, he met Mary Louise Henderson; they were married in New Orleans.
It was in the sun-drenched Albuquerque study of one of America's most prominent historians—a Guggenheim Fellow and a National Book Award winner—that I first heard what I later came to think of as "The Question."
Enroute from Los Angeles to New Orleans, where I would spend the next two years researching and writing a book about renowned CIA pilot-turned-infamous drug smuggler Barry Seal, I stopped to visit Dr. Roger Morris and Sally Denton, the writers who first brought serious national attention to the CIA operation in Mena, Arkansas led by Oliver North, and Barry Seal.
We were drinking cokes in the warm sun and exchanging tidbits of information each of us had gleaned about our common subject, when at one point Morris leaned forward.
“What have you heard,” he asked, “about Barry Seal having flown a get-away plane out of Dallas after the Kennedy assassination?”
I stared at him blankly. I replied that I didn’t know there had even been a get-away plane. And that was the end of it. The conversation quickly moved on. But the moment changed my life. In the two years of research which followed, I never forgot the question.
Months later, while collecting old news clippings in Barry’s hometown of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, I struck up a conversation about Seal with the morgue librarian at the Baton Rouge Advocate. She had a kind of smoky whiskey voice you generally don't associate with librarians.
"Hell, she said, “a good 20 years. I've been remarried for ten."
Later, after I heard a story about Barry Seal from John Odom, a friend and classmate of Seal’s in high school, I began to realize that the rumor might be something more than that. While it wasn’t common knowledge, in certain circles in Louisiana it is what is known as an “open secret.”
Even if you’re not a JFK assassination researcher—and I wasn’t—you know who Ferrie was. Everyone’s seen Joe Pesci’s brilliant portrayal of Ferrie in Oliver Stone’s JFK. Many recall that Ferrie – just forty-eight hours after Kennedy died—was brought in for questioning on suspicion that he had been involved in the assassination.
Odom watched them confer, he said, and saw Ferrie point to the 50-or-so wooden crates staged next to the tarmac.
On the way back to Baton Rouge, Barry Seal told him that he was working for Ferrie, who he said was "CIA.” (Ferrie's CIA link was confirmed by Victor Marchetti, former Deputy Assistant to Richard Helms, who testified that Helms disclosed, in executive discussions during the Garrison investigation, that Ferrie had in fact been employed by the CIA.)
“Seal said he making $400 a week flying "runs" of crates of weapons and ordinance for Ferrie,” said Odom. He asked me, How'd you like to make that kind of money?”
Odom said he told Barry, 'I'll think about it.' But they never discussed it again. Decades later, the incident remains puzzling to Odom. "Our dad made about $400 a month back then, and we weren't poor, but I was stunned and didn't know what to say.”
Translated into today's money, Barry Seal was making $2500 weekly…on the weekends.
Then a fortuitous happenstance brought me a photograph that spoke volumes about Barry Seal's career, and the people involved in the JFK assassination.
Seal left it to his wife, Debbie, now his widow. And despite the 7-man "clean-up crew" from the State Department that came down from Washington to her home and combed through all of Barry's records in early 1995, it is still in her possession. The photo, which she considered a keepsake, remained untouched in her safe.
The photo was in a cardboard frame of the kind used by nightclubs and tourist attractions, with the date it was taken, January 22,1963, stamped on the back. It was taken in the nightclub of the Aristos Hotel in Mexico City’s Zona Rosa.
At the time the photo was taken, the CIA's covert action chief in Mexico City was David Atlee Phillips. Philips, AKA Maurice Bishop, reportedly met with Oswald in Dallas before the assassination.
The photo shows a group of ten men, wearing black suits and skinny ties, drinking around a table. They appear to be a mixed group of Cuban exiles, Italian wise guys, and square-jawed military intelligence types.
Identifying the men in the photo took months. And when I had, I realized that it is the only extant photograph of the members of the CIA’s super-secret assassination squad known as “Operation Forty."
A young (24-year old) Barry Seal is seated third from left. Seated to Seal’s right is former CIA chief Porter Goss. Front left, beside Goss, is the notorious Cuban "freedom fighter" Felix Rodriguez. Rodriguez, a vice cop under the corrupt Mob-run Batista regime in Cuba, later became an Iran Contra operative and a confidant of the first George Bush.
Felix Rodriguez has long been known to be one of the CIA's most vicious assassins. According to law enforcement authorities, he keeps Che Guevara's hands in a jar atop his dresser.
On the other side of the table, the only celebrant displaying any regard for tradecraft is covering his face with his sport coat. However, his swept-back “Big Wave in Hawaii” pompadour made him fairly easily identifiable as Frank Sturgis. Sturgis has often been mentioned in connection with the JFK assassination.
Sturgis will later become famous as one of the Watergate burglars.Beside him, front right, is a man well-known among Kennedy assassination researchers. William Seymour was the New Orleans representative of the Double-Chek Corporation, a CIA front used to recruit pilots (like Seal). Researchers identify Seymour as the man said to have impersonated Lee Harvey Oswald, while Oswald was out of the country.
It is certainly a well-connected group. Just the fact that the man who will become the biggest drug smuggler in American history had been consorting back in 1963 with a man whose job was recruiting pilots for the CIA makes allegations of CIA involvement in the drug trade far more than just another conspiracy theory.
So, if there had been a get-away plane flown out of Dallas after the Kennedy assassination—and assuming there had been an authentic investigation into the assassination, which there was not—Barry Seal would have been high on the list when authorities told the police to call in the “usual suspects.”
But that puts the cart somewhat in front of the horse. Is there evidence that there was a get-away plane? The answer is yes.
At about 1:00 P.M. that same afternoon, half an hour after the president was shot, neighbors who lived along the road that runs by the Redbird Airport, about 10 miles southwest of downtown Dallas, began calling the police. A small private plane, they reported, was behaving very strangely.
For an hour it had been revving its engines, not on the runway, as per usual, but parked at the end of the airstrip on a grassy area next to the fence. The noise was so loud it prevented nearby residents, glued to their TVs for the news about the terrible event downtown, from hearing.
The police, perhaps understandably, were too busy to check it out. The question became moot when shortly thereafter the plane took off.
An FBI file of March 10, 1967, describes statements made by Louis Gaudin, the government's air traffic control specialist at Redbird airport, who recalled observing three men in business suits board a Comanche-type aircraft at about 2:00 P.M.
Thirty-seven years later, I tracked down Louis Gaudin in retirement in the tiny town of Long Branch, Texas. “I filed that report in ’67 for only one reason,” Gaudin told me. “Sometime in 1967 I received a visit from an Assistant District Attorney in (New Orleans District Attorney) Jim Garrison’s office.”
“He showed me pictures of four possible pilots involved in the incident that day. One was a weird-looking character with a funny-looking wig. Then, shortly thereafter I saw on the news that David Ferrie had committed suicide, said Gaudin.
“That’s when I smelled a rat.”
Redbird Airport (today Dallas Executive Airport) is a small airfield between Dallas and Fort Worth. But it wasn’t just any old airport.
“The FAA had its general aviation headquarters there, said Gaudin. “Howard Hughes had a huge old WWII hanger there, with heavy security. People from Wackenhut all over the place. And there were the Porter planes from General Harry Byrd’s outfit.”
General D. Harry Byrd’s links to the Kennedy assassination begin with the fact that he owned the building, the Texas School Book Depository, from which Kennedy was supposedly gunned down.
Then, too, he founded an aircraft company that became one of the largest U.S. defense contractors during the Vietnam War, Ling-Temco-Vought (LTV), which also—and perhaps not coincidentally?—tested missiles at the Venice Airport in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s.
“What had happened was this,” he continued. “I was an air traffic controller working in the tower at Redbird that day. When I came on shift at 2 PM, we received a bulletin to report any suspicious activity immediately to an FAA Security number. And we kept calling that number all afternoon, but got nothing but a busy signal. And then, after we heard they had caught the ‘lone gunman,’ I guess they called it, we stopped calling, and let the matter drop.”
From his perch atop the control tower, Mr. Gaudin, between handling twenty or thirty flights into and out of the airport an hour, had noticed something suspicious about three well-dressed men in business suits standing, along with several suitcase, beside a Comanche painted green-and-white.
So suspicious was he, Mr. Gaudin related, that when the plane took off on runway 17, he asked the pilot if he needed any assistance. The pilot said no. Gaudin asked which way the plane was heading. The pilot stated south.
Gaudin watched as the plane flew south for two miles, then made a hard left, and then flew north to Love Field.
The pilot had lied.
Suspicions aroused, Gaudin went over to the control tower’s receiver and listened as the plane made an approach and landed at Love Field, eight miles north of Redbird.
An hour later, the plane was back at Redbird. This time only two people were aboard. The third passenger—let’s call him the shooter–had been left at Love Field.
And that’s where the matter rested until Garrison’s investigator’s came calling.
Then, after Gaudin became alarmed at the death of a man whose picture he had just recently been shown, he called the FBI, and filed the report which, he said, became something of a burden to him for the rest of his life.
“There was no Freedom of Information Act back then,” he says today. “That’s what’s created some problems for me.”
This would be just a ‘suspicious sighting’ except for something that happened later, which clearly indicated to Gaudin that he was a witness to something he had no business seeing.
From the control tower, he says, he was too far away to be able to identify anyone who boarded the plane. But there was one person who could: Merrit Goble, who ran the fixed-wing operation, TexAir, at Redbird Field.
“Merrit and I were friends,” Gaudin relates. “So one day, after filing the FBI report, I went down to see if the FBI had been by to visit him as well. They hadn’t, he told me. So I asked him if he had anything, any gas receipts, any record of the fueling of the plane in question. And Merit acted very strangely. He told me, in effect, that it was none of my business. He said, ‘I will only answer questions from a bonafide law enforcement authority.’”
“I always thought that was strange: ‘I will only answer questions from a bonafide law enforcement authority.’ Because like I said, we were friends.”
Merrit Goble died last year, taking any secrets he possessed about the suspicious plane to his grave.
Was Barry Seal at the controls of the plane that took off from Redbird Airport on November 22 1963? We’ll never know for sure. But lacking an eyewitness willing to come forward and enough of a survivalist to live to tell his tale, we base a “yes” answer on his association with—and proximity to—the major players whose names get bandied about in connection with the assassination.
The central thesis of most writers on the assassination is that the Kennedy assassination was the work of the Mafia, elements of the CIA, and right-wing Cuban exiles aligned with Guy Banister, Clay Shaw, and David Ferrie, all of whom were CIA-connected. Not to mention Lee Oswald, who had formed an alliance with the U.S. intelligence community as a young man in the Civil Air Patrol with David Ferrie.
Barry Seal knew them all.
He was a known associate of the ‘usual suspects’: David Ferrie, Carlos Marcello, Guy Banister, and Grady Partin. He was a gunrunner to Cuba, and a veteran of the Bay of Pigs. And his participation in Operation 40, the CIA’s assassination squad, the blackest of black ops, as attested by the photo taken in Mexico in January 1963.
About one longtime associate of Banister and Ferrie (Murray Kessler) who was busted with Barry in 1972, one DEA agent said, “He (Kessler) had a lot of familiarity with that group of ‘yahoos’ in New Orleans; that’s how I figure he met Barry, who was known to have been involved with Guy Banister and Ferrie back then too.”
Moreover, Barry Seal was a spectacular pilot, one of the best alive.
I believe Seal flew that ‘getaway’ plane out of Dallas; and that during his often-acrimonious dealings with his superiors, his participation in the JFK hit remained his ‘ace in the hole’ for the rest of his life.
But where did the shooters come from? I’ll take that up tomorrow, in “The Camp in Lacombe.” As far as I know, I’m the only investigator in recent times who was able to locate—and visit—the site of the CIA’s secret camp for assassins in Lacombe, Louisiana.
Mis-direction. On 9/11, New York City was where most of the killing took place. It took maybe an hour. In Venice, Florida, where the key conspirators got together, they spent more than a year. Yet there’s been endless talk—leading absolutely nowhere—about thermite, about holograms, about Building 7. And its all hooey, or, to use the technical term, disinformation.
Why I’m so sure is because I was the only investigative reporter at the biggest 9/11 crime scene—Venice—that wasn’t reduced to rubble. And I was continually made aware that I didn’t belong—and wasn’t wanted—there.
The Kennedy assassination set the pattern. Debating the minutiae of Dallas—the ‘magic bullet theory,’ the changing parade route, the standing down of military intelligence, and dozens of other unexplained anomalies—has proven only that a conspiracy had indeed taken place.
But it was never going to put anyone in jail. Because the conspiracy was elsewhere. In New Orleans, Chicago, Miami, on No Name Key, and. most especially, in Lacombe, Louisiana, where the CIA kept a secret camp which trained assassins.
Moreover the conspirators were pros. The Kennedy assassination was their calling card. Unlike the “big find” about the identity of the second shooter which one prominent author is currently using to flog his book—who was told by a friend of a friend of a guy who had it on good authority that so-and-so, who’s now, regrettably, dead, was in on the hit— they didn’t disappear from history after November 23, 1963.
For the next several decades, the people who killed JFK made history. In Laos, and Cambodia, at the Watergate complex, and in the drug trafficking scandal that was mis-named Iran Contra.
They were people like Barry Seal.
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