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Brian Schmidt

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  1. Brian Schmidt

    The Shooters

    Below is the Frank Sturgis section from my (unfinished) essay on Hunt's confession: Frank Sturgis gained brief fame during the Watergate scandal by being one of the burglars, but he was also involved in CIA exploits much earlier – in the 1950’s and 60’s. Sturgis (born Frank Fiorini) was born in Norfolk, Virginia and served in the Pacific as a Marine during the Second World War. He did a stint in the Norfolk Police Department and U.S. Army before moving to Latin America in the mid-50’s. Sometime in 1958, Sturgis made contact with the CIA through the U.S. consulate in Santiago and went on to become to a contract agent and informant in the intelligence world for the next 12 years. Unlike most of the other conspirators named by Hunt, Sturgis was never an actual CIA agent. The best word to describe Sturgis’ role would be that of a mercenary. Indeed during his time working as an intelligence asset, Frank was involved in gun running and had well known mob connections. In 1958, he was arrested for illegal possession of arms in Cuba but was released without charge. He went on to become Castro’s gambling czar in the nascent communist state before gambling was outlawed and Castro was revealed to be a communist. Subsequent to these revelations, Sturgis formed the Anti-Communist Brigade, which was funded in large part by gambling interests and hotel owners linked to Batista. It was around this time it was alleged that Sturgis became a member of Operation 40, a Richard Nixon-backed CIA in-house assassination program to dispose of unfriendly leaders around the world. As part of this work, he became involved with Marita Lorenz, a 19 year old American who was having an affair with Fidel Castro. In January 1960, Sturgis passed along poison to Lorenz in an unsuccessful assassination attempt on Castro. Lorenz would later accuse Sturgis and Hunt of being involved in a plot to kill President Kennedy, which will be covered at greater length later in this essay. Frank Sturgis was associated with some unsavory characters in the anti-Castro Cuban community around the time of JFK’s murder including Felipe Vidal Santiago, Virgilio Gonzalez (future Watergate co-conspirator), Felix Rodriguez (of Iran Contra fame), Nestor Sanchez, Rafael Quintero, and John Martino. These same cast of characters would become of interest to researchers as potentially involved in the JFK assassination. Other soldiers of fortune Sturgis worked with, including Roy Hargraves and Gerry Patrick Hemming, were interviewed by the FBI following the assassination as potential suspects and we now know their names were actually in the Secret Service Protective Research File. Sturgis himself was questioned by the FBI two weeks following Kennedy’s murder over a December 4th article in the Florida Sun Sentinel claiming he had met Lee Harvey Oswald in Miami shortly prior to the assassination. Its author, Jim Buchanan, also claimed Oswald had tried to infiltrate the Anti-Communist Brigade, both of which claims Sturgis denied. One of the people with whom Sturgis worked extensively around the time of the assassination was Bernard Barker. Barker, who would also later turn up at the Watergate, was a Cuban American who worked as an undercover FBI agent and later as a CIA agent responsible for recruiting Cubans who eventually took part in the Bay of Pigs invasion. He was also Sturgis’ case officer during the time immediately prior to the assassination. Barker’s boss in 1962 was E. Howard Hunt. During the Watergate trials, Hunt denied knowing Sturgis prior to 1971 when they became acquainted as part of the ‘plumbers unit.’ This is almost certainly false, given Barker’s close connection to Sturgis as well as Hunt’s prominence in the anti-Castro Cuban community, where he was known as Eduardo. Interestingly, in Hunt’s 1949 novel Bimini Run, the main character’s name is Hank Sturgis whose biography closely mirrors the early adventures of Frank Sturgis. When assessing Sturgis’ possible involvement in the conspiracy, it is important to note that David Morales didn’t trust Sturgis or Barker to not gossip about big missions and questioned their competency in paramilitary operations. In fact, Morales didn’t even trust Hunt, a career CIA officer. It is therefore hard to imagine a cautious operator and senior officer like Morales working alongside Sturgis on something as sensitive as killing a sitting president. Furthermore, knowing the names of some of the conspirators and their seniority in the CIA, one can reasonably infer a chain of command and how a plot might materialize. In this light, a soldier of fortune and low level informant bringing in a top CIA assassinations expert to an existing plot is comical at best. As is Sturgis and Morales purportedly offering Hunt a role in the plot, which he turned down and walked away with no consequence. The CIA as an institution was skeptical of Sturgis and in internal documents doubt some of the information he relayed, and in others expressed concern over his Mafia connections. Nevertheless, Sturgis was undeniably involved in some very serious activities throughout his career. It is possible that Sturgis may have played some role in the assassination, given his contacts in the early 1960’s. It is unlikely that he played the role described by Hunt, however. It is important to note that in Hunt’s audio confession, he names Frank as a conspirator but in American Spy he said Sturgis was too simple minded to be trusted to be part of any conspiracy. Sturgis was among those in the immediate aftermath of the assassination to push the story that Lee Harvey Oswald was a Castro agent, which he continued to do throughout the 1970’s and 80’s up until his death. In John Martino’s confession to a journalist, he named someone who “wasn’t well known at the time but would become famous years later,” implying that someone was Sturgis. Whenever Kennedy was mentioned in Frank’s presence, he liked to joke, “You mean that guy I killed?” Notoriously unreliable, Sturgis liked to tell wild stories but by the 1980’s he was reportedly making outrageous claims in the hopes a journalist would publish them so he could turn around and sue the publication under libel laws. Sturgis died in 1993.
  2. Brian Schmidt

    Ted Kennedy

    I’ve been “locked out” of the forum because I couldn’t remember my password and the ‘forgot password’ function wasn’t working but I somehow got logged on, on my other computer. In any event, I’m glad this topic came up because I was going to start a new topic on it. My boss was Ted Kennedy’s chief economist in the late 80’s. I’ve never discussed Chappaquiddick with him previously, but about three weeks ago we went out for drinks and the topic came up because of the Chappaquiddick movie that recently came out. According to him, what really happened at Chappaquiddick was something of an open secret in Ted Kennedy’s office and Kennedy’s longtime personal bodyguard told my boss the following: Ted Kennedy was having an affair with one of the women there that night, but it wasn’t Mary Jo Kopechne. At the dinner party, Kopechne had too much to drink and wandered out to lie down somewhere, and the closest place she found was the backseat of Kennedy’s car. A while later, Kennedy and his mistress left the party after having some drinks. It was dark out when they got in the front two seats of the car and neither one noticed Kopechne, who was in the back seat passed out. After he crashed in the water, both him and his mistress swam to shore, but Kopechne was still in the backseat and not having known she was back there, didn’t think to rescue her. They didn’t call for help or report it immediately because they didn’t even know she was there. Later on, dinner guests must have realized she was missing. Once it started to become clear to Kennedy and his confidants what had happened, it was all cover-up because he didn’t want it coming out that he was having an affair while his wife was pregnant. He could have said he didn’t know Kopechne was in the car, but it wouldn’t have been very believable considering the deputy saw him in the car with a female in the passenger seat, so he said he was driving Kopechne home. (This last sentence is my interpretation – my boss ended with “it was all cover up after that”). This scenario doesn’t preclude any kind of meddling, however. It seems like the perfect storm of events, which raises the possibility that Kopechne was drugged and/or encouraged to go into the backseat. Perhaps once she was, a car then drove Kennedy off the road to ensure he ended up in the water.
  3. I know, it’s quite ironic
  4. At the time, I found it odd that Trump’s first official visit as president was to CIA headquarters for a speech to its officers. It seemed obvious it was meant as an olive branch to mend fences after Trump had publicly criticized them. But I wondered whose idea it was. I’m in the process of reading Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury and in it he talks about all the calls Trump got after he won the election from influential people inside and outside government warning him about the “deep state” and telling him not to piss off the intelligence agencies, who will get revenge on him (a lot of stuff similar to that Chuck Schumer quote from earlier this year). But what struck me was that Henry Kissinger called Jared Kushner and told him Trump needed to make nice with the CIA and that’s why Trump went there immediately after becoming president.
  5. This has been known to researchers for decades (and published in books about the assassination). It's funny how the mainstream meadia picks up on stories like this that have been out there for a long time. Imagine what kind of stories there could be if the MSM were actually fair and paying attention.
  6. Brian Schmidt

    Delay in release of records.

    Yeah it's real, Paul. I wonder what changed. We all know Trump is impulsive but it was just announced that apparently Mueller is filing charges Monday. Kinda makes you go "hmmm..."
  7. Brian Schmidt

    Delay in release of records.

    Trump's taking advice from CIA and FBI and withholding/redacting some of the files for a six month review period. Official statement to come from the White House soon.
  8. Brian Schmidt

    Delay in release of records.

    Supposedly it's documents from the 1990's that refer to people who are still alive, but I'm skeptical. Then there's this: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/ct-jfk-assassination-files-20171026-story.html "Clearly there are documents, plural, files, plural, being appealed to him," said University of Virginia historian Larry Sabato, an authority on Kennedy. Of the pressure on Trump, Sabato said, "I'm told reliably that it continues and that it has intensified." The historian said documents generated in the 1990s that could contain the names of people who are still alive are of particular concern to those who want files held back. It just makes it so obvious that Sabato is a shill.
  9. Brian Schmidt

    Delay in release of records.

    https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/onpolitics/2017/10/26/jfk-files-where-are-they/804060001/
  10. Brian Schmidt

    Delay in release of records.

    Big surprise. This is ridiculous. The law requires the files be completely released today unless the president intervenes. It doesn't say anything about waiting for different agencies to maybe want to have some things withheld or redacted. A little late for that anyway--they've only had 25 years...
  11. Brian Schmidt

    Key Documents to Stay Concealed?

    Agreed, James. I've always thought there is probably something pretty damning in those reports. Maybe not a smoking gun, but with operational files of Harvey, Phillips, Morales, etc., there's probably a lot for researching to dig their teeth into. Probably even a handful of shocking things even a lay person would understand. Why else would they create this spectacle and not release everything? It's infuriating nonetheless.
  12. Brian Schmidt

    The Umbrella Man Feature Film

    Paul, That's been my long standing belief as well. I'm agnostic as to whether the Umbrella Man was really Louie Steven Witt. I've done a bit research on him. He just died a few years back. I've interviewed some of his coworkers and his niece. His niece said he was a strange guy who didn't talk much. He worked for the Rio Grande Insurance Company, which had connections to Carlos Marcello (which is actually referenced in the movie), at the time of assassination. I checked his criminal record but it was clean. After that, he was a warehouse manager. I found a guy who worked for him but he said he never mentioned the Kennedy assassination or that he was there at all. The guy didn't find out he was the Umbrella Man until years later during the HSCA. Also, it turns out Witt was a union representative--so much for being such a right-winger like he said during his testimony (although to be fair, back in the day before the hyper polarization, some conservatives were union supporters).
  13. Brian Schmidt

    Edward Lansdale

    Ron, Lansdale and Harvey ran Mongoose and knew each other well, although they didn't have the greatest relationship.
  14. Thanks, Chris. It seems they've redone the whole collection and it's less user-friendly than it used to be. I remember being able to view the documents at ease but now you have to scroll through a whole series of documents just to get to the later years' correspondences. I found an interesting letter Allen Dulles sent to Charles on December 10, 1963: "Many thanks for your note of December 2. As you know, I tried to get you to tell you of my trip to Dallas and meeting with your brother and sister-in-law. The Mayor was busy with another meeting during my brief stay in Dallas. Since then there have been new tragedies and new problems, and I shall want to talk with you about them as soon as our Commission gets really organized. Clover and I are just back from a few days in Florida, which were interrupted by the first meeting of our Commission. In any event, we had several delightful days - and I had to give an address - at a beautiful resort called Ponte Verde, near Jacksonville. Clover joins me in sending Jacklyn and you all best wishes."
  15. Where specifically did you find the correspondence with Earle Cabell? When I search the Princeton Collection's correspondence section nothing comes up; all I can find is his correspondence with Charles.
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