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The Hunter Leake Story


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#1 Tim Gratz

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Posted 27 August 2007 - 04:38 AM

Are people familiar with the Hunter Leake story told by Prof Kurtz in "The Assassination Debates"? Cannot remember if it has been covered here before. Does anyone know if Leake is still alive and, if so, where he lives?

#2 William Kelly

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Posted 27 August 2007 - 05:01 AM

Are people familiar with the Hunter Leake story told by Prof Kurtz in "The Assassination Debates"? Cannot remember if it has been covered here before. Does anyone know if Leake is still alive and, if so, where he lives?



Here you go Tim,

Joan Mellen mentions Leake:

http://64.233.169.10...Q...;cd=3&gl=us


That Oswald was an employee of the CIA I demonstrate in my book, a fact recently re-confirmed by a historian named Michael Kurtz. Professor Kurtz reports on an interview he did in 1981 with Hunter Leake, second in command at the New Orleans field office. Leake admitted that CIA used Oswald as a courier and that Oswald came to New Orleans in April 1963 because the CIA office there intended to use him for certain operations. Leake either was disaffected from the Agency, or, perhaps, was just an honest man. He admitted that he personally paid Oswald various sums of cash for his services. Oswald was on the CIA payroll, Leake knew. He himself paid Oswald's CIA salary.

Leake also explained in this telephone interview with Professor Kurtz why there was no documentation on Oswald's employment with CIA in New Orleans. After President Kennedy's assassination, he drove the files personally to Langley, Virginia. They were so voluminous that he had to rent a trailer to transport them. Shouldn't revelations from so credible a source have made the newspapers or CNN? I don't know why Hunter Leake, who figures prominently in A Farewell to Justice, talked to Professor Kurtz, but I discovered that the original Hunter Leake family estate, in 1927, was sold to purchase Hammond Junior College, which became Southeastern Louisiana University where Professor Kurtz teaches.

#3 Tim Gratz

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Posted 27 August 2007 - 05:38 AM

Bill, I have read the original Leake story in Kurtz's book. One thing I would add to your post is that Leake told Kurtz that he was personally ordered the drive the Oswald documents to CIA HQ by none other than your friend Richard Helms. Now I don't know about you but I find that very hard to believe: Helms testified under oath that the CIA had nothing to do with Oswald so Leake would have us believe that Richard Helms committed perjury!

One thing that does not "ring true" about the Leake story is his claim that the Oswald documents were so voluminous he had to rent a trailer to get them to Langley. I thought only Gerry Hemming caused the creation of so many documents!

In any event, any one know where Leake is now?

#4 Gary Buell

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Posted 27 August 2007 - 05:11 PM

Bill, I have read the original Leake story in Kurtz's book. One thing I would add to your post is that Leake told Kurtz that he was personally ordered the drive the Oswald documents to CIA HQ by none other than your friend Richard Helms. Now I don't know about you but I find that very hard to believe: Helms testified under oath that the CIA had nothing to do with Oswald so Leake would have us believe that Richard Helms committed perjury!

One thing that does not "ring true" about the Leake story is his claim that the Oswald documents were so voluminous he had to rent a trailer to get them to Langley. I thought only Gerry Hemming caused the creation of so many documents!

In any event, any one know where Leake is now?


Leake died. In 1983 if memory serves. Kurtz interviewed him in 1981.

#5 Alan Kent

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Posted 27 August 2007 - 06:09 PM

Bill, I have read the original Leake story in Kurtz's book. One thing I would add to your post is that Leake told Kurtz that he was personally ordered the drive the Oswald documents to CIA HQ by none other than your friend Richard Helms. Now I don't know about you but I find that very hard to believe: Helms testified under oath that the CIA had nothing to do with Oswald so Leake would have us believe that Richard Helms committed perjury!

One thing that does not "ring true" about the Leake story is his claim that the Oswald documents were so voluminous he had to rent a trailer to get them to Langley. I thought only Gerry Hemming caused the creation of so many documents!

In any event, any one know where Leake is now?



Kurtz is a very important witness for many reasons. His (and his friends') sightings of Oswald around New Orleans with Bannister and Ferrie are significant, if accurate. When Kurtz went on record with this information, he was firmly of the belief that Castro was behind the assassination, so he saw no great relevance to these associations. His claim that Bannister actually introduced Oswald to him while the two were debating civil rights at a local college strikes me as very important as well. It speaks to Bannister using Oswald to "sound out" local students, but not, IMO, to Bannister setting up Oswald as a potential patsy, as Garrison theorized. "This is Lee Oswald. Please remember that you saw him here with me after the assassination goes down..." Not plausible.

I believe Larry Hancock is involved in putting together either an appearance or a video interview with Kurtz for this year's NID. Should be fascinating.

I agree with your observation re: Helms, Tim. The thought that he would perjure himself is silly, and that implication clearly renders Leake's account absurd!!

#6 Pat Speer

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Posted 27 August 2007 - 07:01 PM

Yeah, Helms would never perjure himself. I hope everyone realizes we're joking.

But Leake????

When people tell people what they WANT to hear, they tend to lose all reason. There's simply no reason to believe Kurtz and/or Leake. As a history professor Kurtz knows damn well that saying someone told him something 25 years ago means nothing. Mellen should also know better.

1. Do we even know for sure Leake was CIA? Outside of Kurtz's words, that is? I suspect not.

2. Supposing Leake was CIA, is there any evidence Kurtz ever met him or talked to him? That is, outside Kurtz's say-so, 25 years on? I suspect not.

3. If Leake had in fact told Kurtz this important info, why did he wait so long to write about it?

The whole thing smells, in my opinion. Kurtz's book is a profound disappointment, in many ways. He referees the battle between LN's and CTs with some insight, but then periodically throws in his own 2 cents, most always based on some personal contact with someone somewhere. But he offers no proof these contacts actually happened.

If Bugliosi wrote

"Oh yeah, I spoke to Smokey Stover before he died, and he admitted that the entrance wound was in the cowlick, as purported by the HSCA. Stover said that Humes, Boswell, and Finck had conspired to lie about the entrance wound location, because they thought it would make the Kennedy family feel better to think the head shot was on target, as opposed to almost missing. Later, when asked to create drawings for the Warren Commission, they BEGGED me not to make them look at those horrific autopsy photos, because it would only remind them of the horror, and their lies. I reluctantly agreed, and BEGGED Earl Warren not to make them look at those horrible photos. Arlen Specter then created some fake memos to protect the doctors' reputations, and make it look like they'd actually wanted to look at the photos and testify accurately."

or something equally out there we'd all call him a liar. I'd like to believe Leake's/Kurtz's story. But am unable to do so.

#7 Tim Gratz

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Posted 27 August 2007 - 07:54 PM

Pat, I do tend to agree with you. Like I said one thing that does not ring true is Leake's statement that there was a "truckload of documents re LHO/CIA."

I too am disappointed in Professor Kurtz. He interviewed Leake BEFORE he wrote "Crime of the Century"???

Pat wrote: "Helms would never perjure himself? I hope everyone knows we are kidding!" I am sure they do. That after all is a whopper that beats the biggest one sold in any Burger King! I do think he may have been a tad more credible than E. Howard, though.

Edited by Tim Gratz, 27 August 2007 - 07:59 PM.


#8 Alan Kent

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Posted 28 August 2007 - 02:13 AM

Yeah, Helms would never perjure himself. I hope everyone realizes we're joking.

But Leake????

When people tell people what they WANT to hear, they tend to lose all reason. There's simply no reason to believe Kurtz and/or Leake. As a history professor Kurtz knows damn well that saying someone told him something 25 years ago means nothing. Mellen should also know better.

1. Do we even know for sure Leake was CIA? Outside of Kurtz's words, that is? I suspect not.

2. Supposing Leake was CIA, is there any evidence Kurtz ever met him or talked to him? That is, outside Kurtz's say-so, 25 years on? I suspect not.

3. If Leake had in fact told Kurtz this important info, why did he wait so long to write about it?

The whole thing smells, in my opinion. Kurtz's book is a profound disappointment, in many ways. He referees the battle between LN's and CTs with some insight, but then periodically throws in his own 2 cents, most always based on some personal contact with someone somewhere. But he offers no proof these contacts actually happened.

If Bugliosi wrote

"Oh yeah, I spoke to Smokey Stover before he died, and he admitted that the entrance wound was in the cowlick, as purported by the HSCA. Stover said that Humes, Boswell, and Finck had conspired to lie about the entrance wound location, because they thought it would make the Kennedy family feel better to think the head shot was on target, as opposed to almost missing. Later, when asked to create drawings for the Warren Commission, they BEGGED me not to make them look at those horrific autopsy photos, because it would only remind them of the horror, and their lies. I reluctantly agreed, and BEGGED Earl Warren not to make them look at those horrible photos. Arlen Specter then created some fake memos to protect the doctors' reputations, and make it look like they'd actually wanted to look at the photos and testify accurately."

or something equally out there we'd all call him a liar. I'd like to believe Leake's/Kurtz's story. But am unable to do so.



While skepticism is certainly in order here, I am hesitant to simply toss Kurtz out as a (potentially) important witness. It is possible that he was simply well-placed/well-connected in New Orleans. Is it possible that he has inserted tall tales into otherwise serious work? Sure; stranger things have happened. I would want to see something of a contemporaneous nature corroborating his interview with Leake. Still, fabrication of evidence would be a pretty devastating charge against a professor of history!

The followup question that comes to mind is: If Leake did tell Kurtz this stuff, what do we know about Leake's reliability. That he was CIA in New Orleans (and I believe that we have agency documentation to that effect, though I don't have it in front of me) would not, of course, rule out the possibility that he had an agenda that led him to spread mis/dis-information. Part of the problem we have in trying to evaluate witnesses from New Orleans (both pro and anti-Garrison) is that they ALL seem to have agendas!

Let's see what we get from Kurtz through Lancer this year. Or, perhaps he would like to comment on these issues, if he follows our discussions!

#9 Stuart Wexler

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Posted 28 August 2007 - 04:20 AM

I bought Kurtz's book at the last Lancer conference and was taken aback by the revelations within it. It extends beyond Leake (who definitely was CIA and was part of one of the most well-documented efforts to subvert Jim Garrison) to apparent revelations from Helms, Gaudet and many, many others. If Leake's book were verified, it would probably be the most significant book ever written on the case. But the problem, as is implied in Pat's post, is with the nature of how Kurtz reveals his information.

For example, Kurtz did his Leake interview in 1981. I have little problem believing that Leake may have been more tempted to reveal significant findings toward the end of his life than at the height of his career. But Kurtz wrote a book in 1993. He testified before the Assassination Records and Review Board. As a historian, I cannot conceive of why he would not reveal that Leake material with one of those two opportunities... The same applies for other revelations. For instance, he has Robert Shaw revealing, for the first time anywhere, that there was a wound collar on Connally's back wound. If true, this would strongly imply that Connally was shot with a separate round from CE399. Yet the Shaw interview was in the 80s, and although Kurtz argued against the SBT in his 1993 book Crime of the Century, he did not use that revelation in that book.

On the other hand, several things speak in Kurtz's favor. For instance, he clearly does/did not like Jim Garrison. The material from Leake, Gaudet and Helms (as well as Connie Martin and Henry Morris) go about as far in confirming Garrison's case as anything ever written. It seems unlikely that Kurtz would make up material or insert himself into history in a way that would help Garrison. Furthermore, Kurtz leaned towards Castro as the chief sponsor of the assassination and yet, his revelations are almost all in the other direction. Moreover, as a chaired professor at a university, he would have to worry about his career. Finally, if his goal is to insert himself into history, he does/did very little to promote his own work.

At the end of the day it is vital that we try and verify the background details for these interviews, including notes (which he promises will be placed in a special archive at his university) and context.

-Stu


Yeah, Helms would never perjure himself. I hope everyone realizes we're joking.

But Leake????

When people tell people what they WANT to hear, they tend to lose all reason. There's simply no reason to believe Kurtz and/or Leake. As a history professor Kurtz knows damn well that saying someone told him something 25 years ago means nothing. Mellen should also know better.

1. Do we even know for sure Leake was CIA? Outside of Kurtz's words, that is? I suspect not.

2. Supposing Leake was CIA, is there any evidence Kurtz ever met him or talked to him? That is, outside Kurtz's say-so, 25 years on? I suspect not.

3. If Leake had in fact told Kurtz this important info, why did he wait so long to write about it?

The whole thing smells, in my opinion. Kurtz's book is a profound disappointment, in many ways. He referees the battle between LN's and CTs with some insight, but then periodically throws in his own 2 cents, most always based on some personal contact with someone somewhere. But he offers no proof these contacts actually happened.

If Bugliosi wrote

"Oh yeah, I spoke to Smokey Stover before he died, and he admitted that the entrance wound was in the cowlick, as purported by the HSCA. Stover said that Humes, Boswell, and Finck had conspired to lie about the entrance wound location, because they thought it would make the Kennedy family feel better to think the head shot was on target, as opposed to almost missing. Later, when asked to create drawings for the Warren Commission, they BEGGED me not to make them look at those horrific autopsy photos, because it would only remind them of the horror, and their lies. I reluctantly agreed, and BEGGED Earl Warren not to make them look at those horrible photos. Arlen Specter then created some fake memos to protect the doctors' reputations, and make it look like they'd actually wanted to look at the photos and testify accurately."

or something equally out there we'd all call him a liar. I'd like to believe Leake's/Kurtz's story. But am unable to do so.



While skepticism is certainly in order here, I am hesitant to simply toss Kurtz out as a (potentially) important witness. It is possible that he was simply well-placed/well-connected in New Orleans. Is it possible that he has inserted tall tales into otherwise serious work? Sure; stranger things have happened. I would want to see something of a contemporaneous nature corroborating his interview with Leake. Still, fabrication of evidence would be a pretty devastating charge against a professor of history!

The followup question that comes to mind is: If Leake did tell Kurtz this stuff, what do we know about Leake's reliability. That he was CIA in New Orleans (and I believe that we have agency documentation to that effect, though I don't have it in front of me) would not, of course, rule out the possibility that he had an agenda that led him to spread mis/dis-information. Part of the problem we have in trying to evaluate witnesses from New Orleans (both pro and anti-Garrison) is that they ALL seem to have agendas!

Let's see what we get from Kurtz through Lancer this year. Or, perhaps he would like to comment on these issues, if he follows our discussions!



#10 Pat Speer

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Posted 28 August 2007 - 09:14 AM

Thanks, Stu. It's good to know that Kurtz's notes exist and will one day be available. I tend to think some of his interviews were more like informal chats, and that many of the questions come from communication difficulties, and memory difficulties. The notes might help to clear up some of these questions.

#11 Stephen Roy

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Posted 28 August 2007 - 03:10 PM

I bought Kurtz's book at the last Lancer conference and was taken aback by the revelations within it. It extends beyond Leake (who definitely was CIA and was part of one of the most well-documented efforts to subvert Jim Garrison) to apparent revelations from Helms, Gaudet and many, many others. If Leake's book were verified, it would probably be the most significant book ever written on the case. But the problem, as is implied in Pat's post, is with the nature of how Kurtz reveals his information.

For example, Kurtz did his Leake interview in 1981. I have little problem believing that Leake may have been more tempted to reveal significant findings toward the end of his life than at the height of his career. But Kurtz wrote a book in 1993. He testified before the Assassination Records and Review Board. As a historian, I cannot conceive of why he would not reveal that Leake material with one of those two opportunities... The same applies for other revelations. For instance, he has Robert Shaw revealing, for the first time anywhere, that there was a wound collar on Connally's back wound. If true, this would strongly imply that Connally was shot with a separate round from CE399. Yet the Shaw interview was in the 80s, and although Kurtz argued against the SBT in his 1993 book Crime of the Century, he did not use that revelation in that book.

On the other hand, several things speak in Kurtz's favor. For instance, he clearly does/did not like Jim Garrison. The material from Leake, Gaudet and Helms (as well as Connie Martin and Henry Morris) go about as far in confirming Garrison's case as anything ever written. It seems unlikely that Kurtz would make up material or insert himself into history in a way that would help Garrison. Furthermore, Kurtz leaned towards Castro as the chief sponsor of the assassination and yet, his revelations are almost all in the other direction. Moreover, as a chaired professor at a university, he would have to worry about his career. Finally, if his goal is to insert himself into history, he does/did very little to promote his own work.

At the end of the day it is vital that we try and verify the background details for these interviews, including notes (which he promises will be placed in a special archive at his university) and context.

-Stu


I'm with Stu on this. If true, the Leake material (and a few other Kurtz nuggets) would be very important. But I, too, wonder why he didn't reveal this in his earlier book or before ARRB. I sometimes wonder about Kurtz: He claims to be anti-Garrison, but seems to come up with material supporting Garrison's case (hmmmmm). And he claims to be an objective historian, but his own biases are easy to detect in his writing. Even smart people with good bonafides can have agendas. But I reserve judgment.

In response to Pat Speer, yes, Leake was with the small NO CIA office, as can be seen in many released documents.

BTW, I was a witness to Stu's discovery of Kurtz's book! Having never met him, I arrived at Lancer 2006 and first stumbled into the book sale room. There was some guy rhapsodizing about how significant Kurtz's Leake material was. A little later, Stu Wexler was introduced as a speaker, and it was the same guy. A very smart, guy, too.

Edited by Stephen Roy, 28 August 2007 - 03:13 PM.





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