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John Simkin

Distorting History: A Reply

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Distorting History

In his recent article “Distorting History” (The Intelligencer: Journal of U.S. Intelligence Studies: Volume 16 – Number 2 – Fall 2008) Don Bohning makes many assertions about me and my websites. I shall ignore his accusations about me personally, for now, save one. Mr. Bohning alleges that I am a "former member of a militant leftwing organization, the politics of which are now rejected by the mainstream British Labor (sic) Party," which he fails to name. I have only ever been a member of the British Labour Party, which gave the world the likes of Tony Blair and a right of centre government over the last 12 years. One presumes that if Mr. Bohning had credible evidence for this assertion he would have provided it.

Perhaps he refers to the fact that, despite never being a CND member, I marched in support of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament over 40 years ago. It has recently been revealed that the intelligence agencies kept protesters against nuclear weapons under close observation during this period. Maybe the author of this attack on me has access to my MI5 files?

Given that CND’s central raison d’etre is now the official position of the current US government, as articulated by your president, Mr. Bohning is perhaps accusing me of being prematurely correct on a key issue. But again, such activity hardly qualifies as the radical militancy to which Mr. Bohning alludes, yet fails to disclose.

I found the tone of Mr. Bohning’s article highly unpleasant. He seems to be a product of the McCarthy Era where the main tactic is to smear the person who you disagree with by making unfounded accusations. He appears to have the idea that if you can convince the reader that your “target” is a “left-winger” than anything they say must be wrong. Luckily, I come from a country that rejects this approach to intellectual debate. Hopefully, the readers of “The Intelligencer” have also moved on from the dark days of the 1950s.

Mr. Bohning should be reminded that the CIA itself was at one time a victim of McCarthy smears. With the help of J. Edgar Hoover, McCarthy discovered that Frank Wisner, head of the Office of Policy Coordination (OPC), the espionage and counter-intelligence branch of the CIA, had been romantically involved with Tanda Caradja in Romania during the war. (1)

Hoover, claimed that Caradja was a Soviet agent and this information was passed to McCarthy. (2) However, as Evan Thomas pointed out, “Wisner had too many friends“ and this information was never made public, but it is clear from a letter that Allen Dulles sent to Hoover on 19th April 1954 that the CIA had carried out a full investigation into Wisner’s relationship with Caradja.” (3)

Joseph McCarthy then began accusing Wisner's associates of being security risks. McCarthy claimed that the CIA was a "sinkhole of communists" and claimed he intended to root out a hundred of them. His first targets were Chip Bohlen and Charles Thayer. Bohlen survived but Thayer was forced to resign. (4)

In August, 1953, Richard Helms, Wisner's deputy at the OPC, told Cord Meyer, who worked under Thomas Braden, the head of International Organizations Division (IOD) that Joseph McCarthy had accused him of being a communist. (5) The FBI added to the smear by announcing it was unwilling to give Meyer "security clearance". The FBI eventually revealed the charges against Meyer. Apparently he was a member of several liberal groups considered to be subversive by the Justice Department. This included being a member of the National Council on the Arts, where he associated with Norman Thomas, the leader of the Socialist Party and its presidential candidate in 1948. It was also pointed out that his wife, Mary Meyer, was a former member of the American Labor Party. Meyer was eventually cleared of these charges and was allowed to keep his job. (6)

Interestingly, Mary Pinchot Meyer, was having an affair with John F. Kennedy at the time he was assassinated. She was herself murdered on 12th October, 1964, as she walked along the Chesapeake and Ohio towpath in Georgetown. (7) In February, 2001, the writer, C. David Heymann, asked Cord Meyer about the death of his former wife: "My father died of a heart attack the same year Mary was killed, " he whispered. "It was a bad time." And what could he say about Mary Meyer? Who had committed such a heinous crime? "The same sons of bitches," he hissed, "that killed John F. Kennedy." (8)

Of course, it would have been acceptable for Mr. Bohning to have pointed out something in my past that was having undue influence on my comments on the activities of the CIA. For example, if I had been an agent of an unfriendly intelligence service. However, that is not the case, and my only motivation is to discover if there is any truth in the allegation that the CIA and others were involved in assassination plots.

It is also important that Mr. Bohning explains what his motivation is for writing an article for “The Intelligencer” about my work. It is in the interests of precisely such transparency that Mr. Bohning might also have alerted readers to the fact that he served the CIA under the cryptonym AMCARBON-3. A CIA document dated 14th June, 1968, reveals that Bohning received his Provisional Covert Security Approval as a CIA confidential informant on August 21, 1967, then Covert Security Approval itself on November 14th “for use as a confidential informant with natural access to information about news companies and personalities.” (9) It seems safe to assume that the CIA vetting process revealed that Mr. Bohning could be relied on to present the activities of the agency in a positive and relatively supportive and uncritical light.

Another CIA document dated 14th June, 1968, shows that Bohning was providing information concerning the Jim Garrison investigation. This included references to Rolando Masferrer and Winston Smith. (10) On July 31st, the Deputy Director of Plans (DDP) approved the use of Bohning in the CIA's Cuban operations. He was given the code-name AMCARBON-3. Of course certain other issues are also raised when reporters begin to function as intelligence sources.

This information originally appeared in Joan Mellen’s book, “A Farewell to Justice” (10). While working on his book, “Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years” (11), the journalist David Talbot contacted Bohning to ask him about his reported ties to the CIA. Bohning denied that he was paid for the work he did for the CIA. However, as Talbot pointed out: "The fact that Bohning was given a CIA code as an agency asset and was identified as an agency informant is a relevant piece of information that the readers" of his books and articles have a right to know.”

In an article published on the Education Forum on 6th August 2007, David Talbot, argued that AMCARBON was the cryptonym that the CIA used to identify friendly reporters and editors who covered Cuba. Talbot found a declassified CIA memo dated 9th April, 1964 that showed that the CIA’s covert media campaign in Miami aimed “to work out a relationship with [south Florida] news media which would insure that they did not turn the publicity spotlight on those [CIA] activities in South Florida which might come to their attention...and give [the CIA’s Miami station] an outlet into the press which could be used for surfacing certain select propaganda items.” (12)

On 6th October 2005, Don Bohning admitted in reply to Larry Hancock on the Education Forum: "I have obtained the document about the JMWave relationship with the Miami Herald and references to AMCARBON-2, AMCARBON-3, etc., etc. As you noted, it is very confusing but it seems quite clear to me that AMCARBON-2 was probably Al Burt, my predecessor as Latin America editor at the Miami Herald. I have no idea who might have been AMCARBON-1 or Identity, 2, etc. even what they refer to. I also have obtained documents that clearly state that I was AMCARBON-3, something I was not previously aware of." (13)

AMCARBON-1 was in fact Hal Hendrix of Miami News. In 1961, when David Atlee Phillips was handling the propaganda desk for the Bay of Pigs operation he was in constant contact with Hendrix. As Gaeton Fonzi pointed out; “In 1962, Hendrix’s coverage of the Cuban missile crisis was so penetrating and insightful it garnered his paper a Pulitzer Prize. The next year Hendrix got himself promoted to a more prestigious job, covering Latin America for the Scripps-Howard News Service. Still based in Miami, Hendrix’s sources remained quite extraordinary. In a piece for Scripps-Howard dated September 23rd, 1963, Hendrix wrote a colorful and detailed description of the coup that toppled Juan Bosch, the leftist president of the Dominican Republic. If Hendrix’s report didn’t come from inside sources, it was an amazing display of clairvoyance – the coup didn’t take place until the following day.” (14)

Don Bohning argues in the article: “While some websites are reliable and valuable research tools, others can be tendentious advocates for a point of view, twisting or ignoring information that does not support that point of view. One need look no further for the latter than two websites based in Great Britain, run by John Simkin, a former member of a militant leftwing organization, the politics of which are now rejected by the mainstream British Labor Party. The two sites, Spartacus Educational (http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/) and a related, but badly misnamed, website called the Education Forum (http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?act=idx), are obviously more interested in promoting a political agenda than providing facts… Unfortunately for the sake of history, the only sources Simkin references - undocumented as they may be - are those that bolster his political agenda. Contrary and documented views, as I have personally discovered, are ignored.”

Anyone who visits the pages referenced by Mr. Bohning will discover just how wrong he is when he says the “only sources Simkin references – undocumented as they may be – are those that bolster his political agenda”. Let us first take the example of my Spartacus Educational website. (15) The reason it was created in September 1997 was to support the British government’s introduction of the National History Curriculum. As this document produced by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) points out: “As they develop their understanding of the nature of historical study, pupils ask and answer important questions, evaluate evidence, identify and analyse different interpretations of the past, and learn to substantiate any arguments and judgements they make. They appreciate why they are learning what they are learning and can debate its significance.” (16)

Students in Britain are assessed on their ability to evaluate evidence and to assess different interpretations of the past. To help them do this virtually every one of my Spartacus Educational pages has a documents section. If Mr. Bohning had really read the pages that he refers to in the article he would have seen these documents. This includes passages from books and articles that have written by Mr. Bohning. This includes attacks by him on me. Since the publication of his article in “The Intelligencer”, passages that attack my interpretation of events, have been added to the relevant pages on my website. The students who use my website will be able to use this disagreement on the interpretation of sources in their studies.

Mr. Bohning also claims that I am “obviously more interested in promoting a political agenda than providing facts” on my Education Forum. (17) The original reason for creating the forum was to enable visitors to my Spartacus Educational website to post public messages about its content. It is an acceptance of the argument that history is not just made up of facts. As the historian Lucien Febvre pointed out: “A mere collector of supposed facts is as useful as a collector of matchboxes.” The task of the historian is to interpret the past. The Education Forum provides a means for people, including historians, to debate the past. Bohning cannot pretend ignorance of this because he is himself a member and he has been allowed complete freedom to explain why he disagrees with historians who have claimed that he is a spokesman for the CIA.

Among Mr. Bohning’s assertions against my websites is that they lack official documentation regarding Operation 40 that would certify the truth of the contentions contained therein. It is most astonishing that Mr. Bohning would so insult the intelligence of the sophisticated readers of this periodical by suggesting all official intelligence business is committed to history in writing, that if having been written it is easily accessible and abundantly available, or that if it exists in writing it is necessarily a true and accurate reflection of events.

The record-keeping and disclosure by the Agency is not good, as the recent court case involving release of the George Joannides CIA papers serves to underscore. (18) The Agency has also recently been castigated in some quarters for an executive decision to destroy audio-visual tapes of waterboarding sessions. (19) These actions are not new. Throughout its history, the Agency has indulged in a pattern of refusal to disclose, and subsequent destruction of its own documents.

In making his case regarding “Operation 40,” Mr. Bohning cites both the 1967 CIA Inspector General’s Report and the report authored by the Church Committee in 1975, neither of which mention “Operation 40.” Mr. Bohning concludes from this omission that such an operation couldn't have been devoted in any respect to killing Castro, or it would have merited mention. The reasoning here is self-evidently specious, for it ignores a long Agency history of tradecraft that includes partial admissions, limited hangouts and washing the record of particularly thorny information, as though such things have never existed.

The first of these, the IG Report, was not intended for release, and was the Agency investigating The Agency and finding itself largely innocent. Legend tells us it was written for only the highest level internal consumption and was even denied to Presidents who sought to read it. Given how closely held this information was, despite having received some newspaper play, how does one credit Mr. Bohning's expectation to read about a similar, but even more clandestine operation, when even US Presidents were denied the right to read less self-implicatory information?

Whether or not it was ever intended for public dissemination, the IG Report was unlikely to reveal all operational aspects of the Bay of Pigs and assassination-related missions. If it didn’t contain a reference to an Agency sponsored assassination team, are we really expected to feign surprise?

In the second instance, we find some additional disclosures courtesy of the Church Committee, which serves to illustrate that the IG Report was anything but comprehensive, but nothing compared to the wealth of information that has subsequently been written about or declassified, much of it under the auspices of the Assassination Records Review Board. Neither work cited by Mr. Bohning can be considered the last word on the topic.

When first contemplating assassinating Fidel Castro, the CIA outsourced the task to various Mafiosi to serve as its proxy agents. It did so to maintain plausible deniability in the event the plans were discovered. Despite the Agency taking such elaborate precautions in the first instance, Mr. Bohning would have us assume that a similar, albeit directly-connected CIA-sponsored unit, would be the subject of plentiful official documentation. Indeed, some of what Mr. Bohning cites offers proof contrary to his own central contentions.

Mr. Bohning writes: "Essentially, the only references to it as described by Simkin are contained in books and other works by conspiracy theorists, including Fabian Escalante, an official in Cuban State Security." Yet, later in his own work, the author cites an Arthur Schlesinger memo to Richard Goodwin on June 9. 1961 which includes the following observation:

“The ostensible purpose of Operation 40 was to administer liberated territories in Cuba. But the CIA officer in charge, a man known as Felix, trained the members of the group in methods of third degree interrogation, torture and general terrorism. The liberal Cuban exiles believe that the real purpose of Operation 40 was to kill Communists' and, after eliminating hard-core Fidelistas, to go on to eliminate first the followers of (Manuel) Ray, then the followers of (Tony) Varona and finally to set up a rightwing dictatorship, presumably under [Manuel] Artime.” (20)

Attributed by Schlesinger to Time Magazine’s Sam Halper, who by Schlesinger’s own analysis “has excellent contacts among the Cuban exiles,” the story was given currency, according to Schlesinger’s memo, because “One of Miro's comments this morning reminded me that I have been meaning to pass on the following story as told me by Halper....” If Juan Miro hadn’t told a similar story to Schlesinger, why would Miro’s comments have reminded him of what Halper had told Schlesinger? And who was Juan Miro? According to Don Bohning, “... head of the Cuban exile political front created by the CIA for the Bay of Pigs invasion.” Mr. Bohning then goes on to greatly disparage Time Magazine’s correspondent, Sam Halper, while failing to address that CIA’s own hand-picked proxy Miro had trafficked in similar tales to Mr. Schlesinger. Mr. Bohning likewise ignores that the story seems to have originated with "liberal Cuban exiles [who] believe that the real purpose of Operation 40 was to kill Communists'," and wasn't an invention of Halper's own imagination.

Nor does Mr. Bohning disclose to your readers an equally important part of the Schlesinger memo: “Halper says that Lt Col Vireia Castro (1820 SW 6th Street, Miami; FR 4 3684) can supply further details.” Far easier to simply impugn the integrity of a dead correspondent via the criticisms of his fellow Time Magazine colleagues than to acknowledge Halper provided the identity of a corroborating witness for his story. For reasons best known to himself, Mr. Bohning omitted this critical detail as though unworthy of consideration by your readers.

Mr. Bohning cites other members of Operation 40 to vouch for its purity, as though expecting a freely volunteered confession by someone who, according to Mr. Bohning’s own proffered testimony, “asked that he not be identified by name in my book because of Operation 40's controversial nature in South Florida's Cuban community.” The cause of that controversy? According to Mr. Bohning’s own witness, the blackmail and extortion of fellow Cuban-American citizens. But the murder of a foreign leader considered anathema by CIA and those self-same Cuban-American citizens, even when there was a bounty on Castro's head? Of that, Mr. Bohning assures us, Operation 40 is innocent.

There is little point in denying Raphael Quintero plotted the murder of Fidel Castro, because while alive he freely admitted doing so, instead, Mr. Bohning assures us that Quintero was never a member of Operation 40, because Mr. Quintero told him this. Once again, we have one Agency functionary [bohning] clearing another Agency functionary [Quintero] based on nothing more substantive than Quintero's own assurances.

Mr. Bohning is less charitable toward Frank Fiorini/Sturgis and Gerry Patrick Hemming, both now dead, claiming that both were fabricators, that neither man worked for the CIA, and, hence, would have never been considered for a role in killing Castro. In doing so, Mr. Bohning seems to ignore that Messrs. Giancana, Trafficante, Marcello, et al, were likewise self-serving fabricators when it suited their purposes, and were never officially on the Agency payroll, yet were the first people to whom the Agency turned when it wished Castro dead.

Mr. Bohning doesn't address whether either Fiorini or Hemming were ever useful to the Agency in any capacity. Instead, he uses Fiorini's Rockefeller Commission testimony - in which he denied being a CIA agent, informant or operative – to counter Fiorini's other assertions that he was a witting participant in Operation 40.

There are three things to bear in mind here. The first is that when Fiorini offered this testimony, he had been out of prison on Watergate-related charges for less than a year. Mr. Bohning would have us believe that Fiorini would voluntarily confess under oath to another crime that could only serve to place him back in prison. The second consideration is that Fiorini was demonstrably of some use to CIA, if only by virtue of his having once fought alongside Castro, making him a source of inside information of value to CIA. The third and most obvious one is that, despite Mr. Bohning's characterization of Fiorini as an unreliable fabricator, he was nevertheless selected by CIA's E. Howard Hunt to participate in the clandestine crimes of Watergate. A mere journalist like Mr. Bohning assures us that Fiorini was of no utility in intelligence matters, yet a seasoned Agency careerist operative like E. Howard Hunt clearly felt otherwise, presumably based upon Fiorini's past utility to Hunt in other matters.

In Don Bohning’s article in “The Intelligencer”, he argues:

“The Simkin website then goes on to claim that "Operation 40 was not only involved in sabotage operations. In fact it evolved into a team of assassins." He quotes one alleged member, the late Frank Sturgis, claiming that "this assassination group (Operation 40), would upon orders, naturally, assassinate either members of the military of the political parties of the foreign country that you were going to infiltrate, and if necessary some of our own members who were suspected of being foreign agents… we were concentrating strictly on Cuba at that particular time."

There are two problems with that. As a reporter for The Miami Herald during that period, I knew quite well the late Frank Sturgis - or Frank Fiorini, the name he then went by - as a "soldier of fortune" floating around Miami. As other journalists who knew Sturgis, I would listen to him but rarely - if ever - found him believable. The other and more significant problem is that Sturgis always attempted to leave the impression that he somehow worked for the Central Intelligence Agency. In fact, he never did in any capacity, according to the 1975 Rockefeller Commission Report to the President on CIA activities.

The Report states categorically: "Frank Sturgis was not an employee or agent of the CIA either in 1963 or at any other time. He so testified under oath himself and a search of CIA records failed to discover any evidence that he had ever been employed by the CIA or had ever served it as an agent, informant or other operative." That would mean that even if there were such an Operation 40, as described by Simkin, Sturgis was not part of it.”

Bohning insists that Sturgis/Fiorini did not perform tasks for the CIA. However, declassified documents suggest that this was not the case. A FBI memorandum from S. B Donahoe to Alan Belmont and William Sullivan, dated 22nd December 1961, states that (21):

Press reported on 12/19/61 that two planes from unidentified Caribbean base had flown over Cuba on 12/17/61 and had dropped over 250,000 anti-Castro leaflets and two parachutists with radio equipment…

On 12/21/61 Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Headquarters advised it was financing Sergio Rojas, former Cuban Ambassador to Great Britain, who was engaged in this type of anti-Castro propaganda activity and that Rojas could have engineered the 12/17/61 leaflet-dropping without CIA cognizance since CIA does not oversee his detailed activities…

On 12/19/61 Border Patrol, Miami, which has been keeping close watch on Florida-Cuba flights, advised our Miami Office that the 10/21/61 flight was apparently CIA operation. Border Patrol identified the participants and planes involved and stated that planes were flown from island in Bahamas to Cuba. It is noted one of the participants was Frank Fiorini, former Castro follower engaged in anti-Castro activities who, in October, 1959, participated in anti-Castro leaflet-dropping raid over Cuba with Pedro Diaz Lanz, former chief of Cuban Air Force. This raid received considerable press coverage and was thoroughly investigated by us.

Border Patrol further advised that another leaflet drop from the Bahamas had been scheduled for 12/8/61 by Fiorini and his associates. However, this was not carried out apparently because of arrest of member of group by Bahamas authorities for illegal entry. Fiorini’s group claimed proposed leaflet drop had been authorized and sponsored by CIA in New York. Border Patrol learned that CIA had furnished the leaflets; however, CIA stated it did not know if it had sponsored the proposed flight but thought that it had. In this connection, Border Patrol noted that one CIA group does not know what the other is doing with result there is considerable confusion.

Border Patrol, in addition, advised it believed the 12/17/61 flight had also been sponsored by CIA and that it had been made by Fiorini and his associates in some planes they used in 10/21/61 flight. Border Patrol doubted that any radio operators had parachuted into Cuba.

It appears foregoing flights were financed by CIA and we are conducting no investigation. It also appears that CIA is giving money to Rojas to carry out these flights, as he sees fit and that CIA is unaware of and does not want to know the details. In this way CIA can in theory claim it was not involved in the flights and did not know they were scheduled.

In a second FBI Memorandum dated 22nd June 1962, it was claimed that Alexander Rorke had been interviewed by the FBI. (22) The report claims that:

Rorke advised that on the last leaflet-dropping flight over Cuba, he was with Fiorini and that one of the two planes they used were lost, and the pilots of this lost plane were identified as Bob Swannee of Mississippi and Bob Thompson of Melbourne, Florida. Rorke stated that this leaflet-dropping operation was entirely supported by the CIA.

In connection with the flights over Cuba, Rorke stated that Fiorini does not pilot the planes and acts for the most part as a co-pilot. The planes are rented in the United States and flown to bases outside the United States such as the Bahamas. In making the contract for the rental of the planes, usually someone other than Fiorini signs the contract, although Fiorini is in contact with local CIA agents in Miami relative to the details of the flight. Rorke stated that Fiorini has instructions that on these flights, if he is arrested or stopped, he is to notify the officers that they should telephone a number which is the number of the CIA office in the Miami area. Fiorini has also been informed, according to Rorke, that if anyone arrests him, CIA will get him out. Rorke identified the CIA contact in Miami as one “Barker”. Rorke stated that he did not know whether this was an assumed name or the individual’s real name.

Rorke advised that he could not understand why the Bureau was interested now in the activities of Fiorini as all of Fiorini’s actions are fully known to CIA in Miami and there should be a record of his activities on file with CIA in Washington, D.C. Rorke stated he knows for a fact that Fiorini has not done anything on his own and that whatever he has done in the past he has done on instructions from CIA…

Rorke advised that he originally made contact with CIA regarding Fiorini and recommended the use by CIA of Fiorini and his group. Rorke identified Commander Anderson of the United States Navy, who is assigned to CIA overt office in New York, as his original contact. He further advised that additional contacts had been made in Washington, D. C. and activities of Fiorini and his group had been discussed through intermediaries with Colonel King and Deke James of CIA headquarters, Washington, D.C….

Rorke advised that in the event Fiorini would be arrested for his anti-Castro activities, he, Rorke, having good connections with a well-known newspaper chain, will make plenty of trouble for those involved.

For the information of the Bureau, the newspaper chain, will make plenty of trouble for those involved.

Rorke claims that his contact was “Commander Anderson of the United States Navy, who is assigned to CIA covert office in New York”. His name appears on a declassified document that has been sent from Anderson’s CIA office in New York to Robert Trumbull Crowley, Assistant Deputy Director of Clandestine Operations. It is a report of an interview with Frank Fiorini that had taken place on 3rd March. The document includes details of Fiorini’s plans to enter Cuba and organize resistance to Castro. At the end of the interview Anderson “requested Fiorini write up concept of this operation covering logistics requirements, personnel required, intelligence set up, etc.” (23)

The document also reveals that Alexander Irwin Rorke attended the CIA interview with Anderson. Rorke was himself killed on what his family believed was a CIA operation against Cuba on 24th September, 1963. (24)

Another CIA document that was declassified in 1993 makes it clear that Fiorini/Sturgis was a paid operative of the agency. The document dated 9th February, 1975, has the subject heading: "Telephone Call from John Dean". The memo is signed JRS (James Rodney Schlesinger) and is for the attention of General Vernon Walters, the Deputy Director of the CIA at the time. The memo includes the following: "I discussed these matters with Bill Colby, who indicated that Sturgis has not been on the payroll for a number of years and that whatever his allegations about the Chilean Embassy, the Agency has no connection at all." (25) Joe Trento, the author of “The Secret History of the CIA”, claimed that Colby told him that Sturgis was a “contract operative for the Agency for more than a decade.” (26)

Don Bohning also argues that: “The Simkin website provides a list of CIA officials and freelance agents who allegedly belong to Operation 40. Among the Americans cited is the late Gerry Hemming, another soldier of fortune type who had even less credibility than Sturgis did among those who knew him, me included.” Once again Mr. Bohning misreads the text on my website. The passage relating to the claim that Hemming was a member of Operation 40 is a quote from Daniel Hopsicker, which is clearly referenced as coming from “Mad Cow Morning News” (27).

I share Mr. Bohning’s view that Gerry Hemming was an unreliable witness. It was a subject that I discussed with him for several years on the Education Forum. One of my more reliable sources told me that he was “paid by the word” by the CIA for his disinformation campaign. However, I do believe he was telling the truth when he denied he was a member of Operation 40.

Mr. Bohning discounts Hemming’s utility to the Agency by referring to his conviction for drug smuggling, as though Richard Helms and other much-admired Agency personnel were not also found guilty of criminal acts, without it necessarily impeaching their general veracity.

As Mr. Bohning well knows, another court was asked to consider – in a libel case launched and lost by E. Howard Hunt – whether Hunt had been libeled by an article, based upon a CIA document alleging that Hunt, Fiorini and Hemming were involved in murdering President Kennedy. A jury of Hunt's peers found that he had not been so libeled, and that all three named individuals had likely participated in the assassination. If Mr. Bohning wishes to use court records to argue his case, it would help to note the court records that also impeach his case. (28)

The main thrust of Don Bohning’s article is to deny CIA involvement in Operation 40. David Sanchez Morales was without doubt in charge of training and preparation of the intelligence and operations groups of exiles which were to be taken into Cuba to assist in a transition of government after a successful overthrow of Castro. Carl Jenkins and other paramilitary trainers assisted in the military preparation and of special groups of exiles. It is doubtful that we will ever know specifically what assignments were given to what individuals, including the probable targeting of “black listed” Castro cadre.

According to the research carried out by Larry Hancock, Morales and Jenkins, were both involved in training members of Operation 40. “New documents also reveal that there was a separate paramilitary effort involving select exiles who were trained and infiltrated into Cuba in advance of the invasion – for military intelligence purposes as well as more radical activities, apparently including one or more projects to assassinate Fidel Castro prior to the invasion. These highly select small teams and individual agents appear to have been managed by Carl Jenkins, long time CIA paramilitary trainer and infiltration specialist.” (29)

Larry Hancock goes on to point out that Joaquin Sanjenis Perdomo, the “individual in charge of Operation 40, was actually the number one exile in the AMOT organization trained and prepared by David Morales.” (30) In their book “Deadly Secrets”, Warren Hinckle and William W. Turner argue: “After the Bay of Pigs, the CIA kept Operation 40 intact in Miami, and Sanjenis and Gutierrez became noncoms in the agency’s new Secret War. They continued to inform on their Cuban exiles, and played out the dirtiest hands in the CIA’s deck.” (31)

As Hancock explains: “This political action team was established for use in support of the Bay of Pigs invasion and was apparently hijacked for bombing, assassination and political intimidation activities in Florida for years afterwards. Operation 40 maintained an existence and agenda of its own and was apparently used by CIA officers for their own purposes for years, even after JM/WAVE had been disbanded.” (32)

While it's certainly possible that Operation 40 has been much maligned, and was designed to penetrate into Cuba and blow things up, but not assassinate anyone, it is quite clear that certain Cubans were to be singled out and detained after the Bay of Pigs invasion. It is willfully and woefully naive to believe that at least some of these men were not ordered to be killed. The CIA's own internal history would not rule this out, and even printed a "must go" list found in the files.

In his article, Mr. Bohning refers to Manuel Ray’s testimony before a board of inquiry appointed by President Kennedy to look into the Bay of Pigs failure. He points out that Ray was asked: "What was Operation 40?" and that his response was: "Operation 40 was a group that followed the invasion force, or it was planned for them to follow the invasion force, to organize each of the cities. It was outside of our organization."

This is of course true, but Ray had a lot more to say about Operation 40, that Mr. Bohning decides to ignore. On 19th May 1961, J. C. King, Chief of the CIA's Western Hemisphere Division, sent a memorandum to Allen Dulles, Director of the CIA, which included a report of an interview with Manuel Ray that had taken place the previous day. It included the following: “He said that his own people, the members of the MRP, were afraid that if the invasion was successful they, too, would be executed by the invading forces or the succeeding governments. This, he emphasized, limited any support which could have been given to the invading forces. Much later in his presentation the Subject came back to the point saying that he and his people had learned about “Operation Forty” as a “mopping-up” operation, which was to have eliminated his followers in Cuba.” (33)

So, if not Operation 40, what was the name of the team picked to round up and control those on the "must-go" list, or whatever expanded list they were provided, prior to the Bay of Pigs? No invasion could have been successful without such a group. No "penetration" of a few thousand troops could possibly have hoped to succeed without a concurrent operation designed to minimize an effective response. Perhaps Mr. Bohning can use his considerable contacts within the CIA and anti-Castro Cuban communities, and identify just who these men were, and who trained them, if they were not the men identified by researchers and historians.

In his article, Don Bohning, reveals that he had two interviews with Carl Jenkins on 28th August and 6th September, 2007, where he admitted he was involved in the Bay of Pigs but denied he had ever worked for Ted Shackley and never worked with him, “in either Miami or Laos." I tried to arrange an interview with Carl Jenkins to check these facts via his granddaughter. However, she told me that he was not at liberty to discuss his work with the CIA. It seems that he has now changed his mind about his freedom to do this.

Maybe Mr. Bohning could ask Carl Jenkins about the memo he wrote in September, 1963, about the activities of Manuel Artime (AM/BIDDY-1) and Rafael Quintero (AM/JAVA-4). In a section on Commandos, there is discussion of the use of abductions and assassinations targeted against Cuban G-2 intelligence informants, agents, officers, and foreign Communists to raise the morale of people inside Cuba.” (34)

The declassified documents on the AM/WORLD project reveals that Carl Jenkins is right to say that he did not work for Ted Shackley in Miami in 1963. As Larry Hancock points out: “There seems to be no doubt that Jenkins was indeed involved in a very special project in 1963 just as the CV Wheaton provided to the ARRB indicates. It should be noted that these AM/WORLD activities were completely segmented from JM/WAVE and communications from Jenkins and Hecksher were not run through JM/WAVE. In fact, the AM/WORLD group operated its own facility in Miami (cryptonym “LORK”). (35)

Mr. Bohning then goes on to deal with my claims that Quintero and Jenkins were linked to the assassination of John F. Kennedy. He argues: “It's uncertain from where Quintero's alleged link to the November 1963 assassination of John F. Kennedy - along with Carl Jenkins, another of his onetime CIA case officers - originated. The most likely source is Gene Wheaton, a strange duck who surfaced around the time of the Iran-Contra scandal, with which Quintero, Jenkins and Wheaton all became entangled.” Mr. Bohning is being disingenuous. I make it very clear in my pages on Quintero and Jenkins that this information comes from Wheaton’s testimony to the Assassination Records Review Board in 1995 and the filmed interview he gave to William Law and Mark Sobel in the summer of 2005. (36)

Mr. Bohning then goes onto claim that:

“Jenkins, a previous acquaintance of Wheaton, who had been sleeping in his car, provided him a place to sleep in a Washington DC area apartment that Jenkins kept during the Iran-Contra period. Jenkins, in a telephone interview, described Wheaton "as a piece of work," and cautioned me that "you should read a book on paranoia before you do any more. He (Wheaton) is a paranoid character of grandiosity and conspiracy. He's got to be in the middle of everything. Always seems to be one of these little guys on the fringe ...everything is a conspiracy."

Let us look at what we really know about Gene Wheaton during this period. In 1985 Wheaton became vice president of a cargo airline called National Air. He asked Carl Jenkins to become the company's representative in Washington. He agreed and Jenkins introduced Wheaton to George H. W. Bush and Oliver North. Later Wheaton was to receive Presidential commendation for his anti-drug work. (37)

As Pete Brewton has pointed out: “Jenkins is mentioned in a number of places in North’s notebooks, including one memorable list by North that reads ‘Gene Wheaton, Carl Jenkins, (John) Hull, (Rob) Owen, (Oliver) North.’ This list was compiled by North on April 18, 1986, apparently during a telephone conversation with Alan Fiers, director of the CIA’s Central American task force, who would later plead guilty to misleading Congress on the Contra affair. Almost every time Jenkins appears in North’s notebooks, he is in the company of Wheaton.” (38)

In October, 1985, Congress agreed to vote 27 million dollars in non-lethal aid for the Contras in Nicaragua. However, members of the Ronald Reagan administration decided to use this money to provide weapons to the Contras and the Mujahideen in Afghanistan.

Wheaton was recruited to use National Air to transport these weapons. (39) He agreed but began to have second thoughts when he discovered that Richard Secord was involved in the project and in May 1986 Wheaton told William Casey, director of the CIA, about what he knew about this illegal operation. Casey refused to take any action, claiming that the agency or the government was not involved in what later became known as Irangate. (40)

According to David Corn (Blonde Ghost: Ted Shackley and the CIA Crusade) in 1985 Carl Jenkins introduced Gene Wheaton to Paul Hoven. (41) Jenkins and Wheaton were at this time involved in trying to "win federal contracts to transport humanitarian supplies to anticommunist rebels, including the Mujahedeen of Afghanistan and the Contras". They failed in this venture and then complained to the State Department about the activities of Richard Secord, Oliver North, Ted Shackley, Edwin Wilson and Tom Clines.

Hoven arranged for Wheaton to meet with Daniel Sheehan, a left-wing lawyer. Wheaton told him that Tom Clines and Ted Shackley had been running a top-secret assassination unit since the early 1960s. According to Wheaton, it had begun with an assassination training program for Cuban exiles and the original target had been Fidel Castro.

Paul Hoven also put Wheaton into contact with Newt Royce and Mike Acoca, two journalists based in Washington. The first article on this scandal appeared in “The San Francisco Examiner” on 27th July, 1986. (42) As a result of this story, Congressman Dante Fascell wrote a letter to the Secretary of Defense, Casper Weinberger, asking him if it "true that foreign money, kickback money on programs, was being used to fund foreign covert operations." Two months later, Weinberger denied that the government knew about this illegal operation.

On 5th October, 1986, a Sandinista patrol in Nicaragua shot down a C-123K cargo plane that was supplying the Contras. Eugene Hasenfus, an Air America veteran, survived the crash and told his captors that he thought the CIA was behind the operation. He also provided information on two Cuban-Americans running the operation in El Savador. This resulted in journalists being able to identify Rafael Quintero and Felix Rodriguez as the two Cuban-Americans mentioned by Hasenfus. It gradually emerged that Clines, Oliver North, Edwin Wilson and Richard Secord were also involved in this conspiracy to provide arms to the Contras.

On 12th December, 1986, Daniel Sheehan submitted to the court an affidavit detailing the Irangate scandal. He also claimed that Thomas Clines and Ted Shackley were running a private assassination program that had evolved from projects they ran while working for the CIA. Others named as being part of this assassination team included Rafael Quintero, Richard Secord, Felix Rodriguez and Albert Hakim. It later emerged that Gene Wheaton and Carl Jenkins were the two main sources for the Secord-Clines affidavit. (43)

It was eventually discovered that President Ronald Reagan had sold arms to Iran. The money gained from these sales was used to provide support for the Contras, a group of guerrillas engaged in an insurgency against the elected socialist Sandinista government of Nicaragua. Both the sale of these weapons and the funding of the Contras violated administration policy as well as legislation passed by Congress.

On 23rd June, 1988, Judge James L. King ruled that some of Sheehan's allegations were "based on unsubstantiated rumor and speculation from unidentified sources with no firsthand knowledge". Despite the fact that the majority of allegations were demonstrability true, in February, 1989, Judge King ruled that Sheenan had brought a frivolous lawsuit and ordered his Christic Institute to pay the defendants $955,000. This was one of the highest sanction orders in history and represented four times the total assets of the Christic Institute.

Writing about the covert activities of the CIA is a difficult process. Many of the documents that you would wish to use are still not declassified. Also, one would not expect people carrying out covert and possibly illegal activities, to keep a documentary record of their actions. Therefore, those writing about this subject have to rely to a certain extent on the testimony of “whistleblowers” like Gene Wheaton and Frank Sturgis. It is for the reader to decide if these men are more likely to be telling the complete story than Carl Jenkins and Rafael Quintero.

Don Bohning concludes the article with the comment: “The tragedy is that Simkin, and others like him who are interested only in promoting their own political point of view and ignoring any evidence that might contradict it, are doing a great disservice to the historical record. More serious researchers need to be aware of such charlatans.” It is up to the reader to decide who is really guilty of this charge.

Notes

1. http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/JFKwisner.htm

2. Evan Thomas, The Very Best Men: The Early Years of the CIA, 1995 (pages 138-39)

3. Allen Dulles, letter to J. Edgar Hoover (19th April 1954).

4. Thomas, The Very Best Men: The Early Years of the CIA, 1995 (page 100)

5. http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/JFKmeyerC.htm

6. Cord Meyer, Facing Reality: From World Federalism to the CIA, 1980 (pages 67-74)

7. C. David Heymann, The Georgetown Ladies' Social Club, 2003 (pages 167-168)

8. http://www.maryferrell.org/mffweb/archive/...bsPageId=807257

9. http://www.maryferrell.org/mffweb/archive/...amp;relPageId=1

10. Joan Mellen, A Farewell to Justice, 2005 (page 253)

11. David Talbot, Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years (2007)

12. http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?showtopic=10654

13. http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?showtopic=4908

14. Gaeton Fonzi, The Last Investigation, 1993 (page 325)

15. http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/

16. http://curriculum.qca.org.uk/key-stages-3-...tory/index.aspx

17. http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?act=idx

18. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jefferson-mo...al_b_69414.html

19. New York Times (28th March, 2008) http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/28/washingt...nyt&emc=rss

20. Arthur Schlesinger, memo to Richard Goodwin (9th June, 1961)

21. FBI memorandum from S. B Donahoe to Alan Belmont and William Sullivan, dated 22nd December 1961.

22. FBI Memorandum dated 22nd June 1962, it was reported that Alexander Rorke had been interviewed by the FBI.

23. CIA memorandum from Commander Anderson of the CIA New York office to Robert Trumbull Crowley of the OSB (3rd June, 1961). Document: 1993.07.16.11.56:14: 250590

24. http://cuban-exile.com/doc_051-075/doc0064.html

25. CIA Memorandum from JRS to General Vernon Walters (9th February, 1975)

26. Joe Trento, email to John Simkin (13th May, 2009)

27. Daniel Hopsicker, Mad Cow Morning News (24th August, 2004)

28. For a detailed account of this libel case see Mark Lane’s book, Plausible Denial: Was the CIA involved in the Assassination of JFK? (1991)

29. Larry Hancock, Someone Would Have Talked, 2006 (pages 131-32)

30. RIF 104-10113-10082, memo from Anthony R. Ponchay (Miami Field Office)

31. Warren Hinckle and William W. Turner, Deadley Secrets, 1992 (page 366)

32. J. C. King, Chief of the CIA's Western Hemisphere Division, memorandum to Allen Dulles, Director of the CIA (19th May, 1961) Ref: 61-4296 DD/P 1-2731

33. Larry Hancock, Someone Would Have Talked, 2006 (page 378)

34. RIF 104-10308-10094, Carl Jenkins, AM/BIDDY-1’s Operational Philosophy and Concepts, September, 1963

35. Larry Hancock, Someone Would Have Talked, 2006 (page 485)

36. http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/JFKwheaton.htm

37. Deposition of Milton Gene Wheaton to the Christic Institute, March 1-3, 7-8, 1988

38. Pete Brewton, The Mafia, CIA and George Bush, 1992, page 112

39. Joel Bainerman, The Crimes of a President, 1992 (page 37)

40. Barbara Honegger, October Surprise, 1989 (page 205)

41. David Corn, Blonde Ghost: Ted Shackley and the CIA Crusade, (pages 381-83)

42. Newt Royce and Mike Acoca, San Francisco Examiner, 27th July, 1986.

43. Declaration of Plaintiffs’ Counsel filed by the Christic Institute. U.S. District Court, Miami, Florida, March 31, 1988

Edited by John Simkin

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John,

as we know, CIA cryptonyms have particular meaning. Sometimes the meaning is difficult to discern. In this case, it seems fairly obvious what AMCARBON means. Carbon [paper] is used to copy type. AM = Cuba.

I take this to mean he "wrote" whatever the CIA wanted him to write regarding the little island.

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John,

as we know, CIA cryptonyms have particular meaning. Sometimes the meaning is difficult to discern. In this case, it seems fairly obvious what AMCARBON means. Carbon [paper] is used to copy type. AM = Cuba.

I take this to mean he "wrote" whatever the CIA wanted him to write regarding the little island.

I concur. And the AM could have meant "Assets Media" or "American Media". Seymour Hersch was one of these CIA media assets.

John, I will review your article later this week to see if I have something of value to contribute. If you want a sworn statement

regarding my knowledge of Frank Sturgis' and E. Howard Hunt's presence at a location in Miami where the JFK plot was actually

discussed just let me know. My attorneys already have such a document in their possession to validate my assertions and to

protect and cover my assets.

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Joe Trento, the author of The Secret History of the CIA, sent me an email today claiming that William Colby told him that Sturgis was a “contract operative for the Agency for more than a decade.”

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I have now edited my reply to Don Bohning's article and have sent a copy to the Association of Former Intelligence Officers.

I would like to thank the following for providing advice and information in this reply: Peter Dale Scott, Larry Hancock, Robert Charles-Dunne, Malcolm Blunt, Jeffferson Morley, Joe Trento, Peter Lemkin, Gerald McKnight, Pat Speer, Jim Hougan, Russ Baker, Bill Kelly, Rex Bradford, Dick Russell, Martin Shackelford and John Bevilaqua.

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Don Bohning has sent me this email in response to my reply to his article:

"I have suggested to the AFIO folks that they file a counter defamation suit against you for undocumented claims against such folks as Carl Jenkins, Rafael Quintero and others of involvement in the JFK assassination as well as the dozens of factual errors and - in my case - fabrication of a quote about Rafael Quintero."

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Don Bohning has sent me this email in response to my reply to his article:

"I have suggested to the AFIO folks that they file a counter defamation suit against you for undocumented claims against such folks as Carl Jenkins, Rafael Quintero and others of involvement in the JFK assassination as well as the dozens of factual errors and - in my case - fabrication of a quote about Rafael Quintero."

I guess Bohning won't be dropping by the forum to answer any of our questions then, huh?

John, the AFIO folks won't file any suit against you because if they do take you to court you can call Bohniing as a witness, along with Carl Jenkins, Rafael Quintero and anybody else still alive who are mentioned in the articles, and they would have to answer your questions they won't answer now, in court under oath with a penalty for perjury.

Every independent researcher should want another round of sworn witness testimony, which would advance the case by light years, and a libel case would do it, but they won't let that happen.

Bill Kelly

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Don Bohning has sent me this email in response to my reply to his article:

"I have suggested to the AFIO folks that they file a counter defamation suit against you for undocumented claims against such folks as Carl Jenkins, Rafael Quintero and others of involvement in the JFK assassination as well as the dozens of factual errors and - in my case - fabrication of a quote about Rafael Quintero."

Don Bohning needs to consult with legal counsel. In order to launch an action against you, John, the AFIO would need to demonstrate it has standing to do so: i.e., it has become an injured party as a result of your actions. There is nothing in your postings that defames AFIO. Bohning is bluffing. Mind you, I'm sure AFIO has the financial resources to covertly underwrite an action against you should one of the parties you named wish to pursue it. However, that would require their individual willingness to face hostile questions about their background in open court.

AFIO founder David Atlee Phillips was among the most litigious former Agency personnel. However, if memory serves, not one of those cases he launched ever reached open court. This demonstrates Phillips was unwilling to have his dirty linen aired in open court. Rather, a settlement was reached in each case, the terms of which were kept secret by non-disclosure language written into the settlement. He was often successful as a nuisance through intimidation and superior financial resources, but never did prevail based upon the facts or merits of a case, because those were never heard, let alone adjudicated.

In point of fact, nothing you've posted reaches the level of libel contained in Bohning's own contribution, accusing you - as he does - of being an underhanded charlatan whose motivation is more determined by militant leftist ideology than a pursuit of the truth. If defamation has occurred, it has not been by you citing the writing and testimony of others, but by Bohning in his quest to discredit those who seek the resolution of this historical event. If anyone should fear a legal action, it is Bohning and the AFIO's own Intelligencer for having published Bohning's libel.

Edited by Robert Charles-Dunne

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Reply from the President of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers:

Mr. Simkin,

We do not respond to letters to the editors about articles but have referred your email and attachment to Mr. Bohning. His reply, if any, will appear in the next issue

Gene Poteat

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Guest Tom Scully

Gene Poteat,

The man who believes the congress's duty to keep government agencies accountable to it, and to the law, was

a "KGB plot".:

.....“the Church and Pike Committees bought into the KGB perception

management campaigns to discredit American intelligence and proceeded to limit

the activities of the intelligence community ...”

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Reply from the President of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers:

Mr. Simkin,

We do not respond to letters to the editors about articles but have referred your email and attachment to Mr. Bohning. His reply, if any, will appear in the next issue

Gene Poteat

[Translation]: We only provide one side of any story - 'our side'!

John, I say 'Let her 'rip'' and put it up on this site and ask others to post it far and wide. I'd only add a final paragraph pointing out that the Journal refuses to let attacked persons reply or present their side. They even go so far as to allow the original attacker to have a second 'go'. What can one expect from the US 'intelligence' [an oxymoron] community. One of their main functions is propaganda and propaganda doesn't admit to equal time or rebuttals, nor playing fair.

Thank goodness for the internet. I have linked Bohning's article and my reply to my home page. I will also place it on my JFK assassination page. It will have far more readers than the AFIO journal ever receives.

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It apparently has not sunk into Don Bohning that political labeling is passé---the new generation deals with facts. It was well known in Miami in the mid-1970s when I was researching Deadly Secrets that Bohning was a CIA media asset. As I published in the book, I interviewed Frank Sturgis extensively. Bohning may not have known about it but Frank did work for the CIA. His case officer was Joaquim Sanjenis, chief of Operation 40. When Sanjenis would call him, Frank would go to an airport and take off in a small plane. He would penetrate Cuban air space and set off electronic defenses. The signals given off would be picked up by a spy ship (Oxford or Pocono) and analyzed in planning raids or infiltrations.

Gerry I also interviewed extensively. He knew better than to BS me. What info was susceptible to cross-checking I cross-checked. Not once was there a fabrication. Gerry told me about the assassination plots against Fidel when he visited Chile long before Alpha 66 admitted them.

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It apparently has not sunk into Don Bohning that political labeling is passé---the new generation deals with facts. It was well known in Miami in the mid-1970s when I was researching Deadly Secrets that Bohning was a CIA media asset. As I published in the book, I interviewed Frank Sturgis extensively. Bohning may not have known about it but Frank did work for the CIA. His case officer was Joaquim Sanjenis, chief of Operation 40. When Sanjenis would call him, Frank would go to an airport and take off in a small plane. He would penetrate Cuban air space and set off electronic defenses. The signals given off would be picked up by a spy ship (Oxford or Pocono) and analyzed in planning raids or infiltrations.

Gerry I also interviewed extensively. He knew better than to BS me. What info was susceptible to cross-checking I cross-checked. Not once was there a fabrication. Gerry told me about the assassination plots against Fidel when he visited Chile long before Alpha 66 admitted them.

As always, a pleasure to read!

Tom Purvis

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It apparently has not sunk into Don Bohning that political labeling is passé---the new generation deals with facts. It was well known in Miami in the mid-1970s when I was researching Deadly Secrets that Bohning was a CIA media asset. As I published in the book, I interviewed Frank Sturgis extensively. Bohning may not have known about it but Frank did work for the CIA. His case officer was Joaquim Sanjenis, chief of Operation 40. When Sanjenis would call him, Frank would go to an airport and take off in a small plane. He would penetrate Cuban air space and set off electronic defenses. The signals given off would be picked up by a spy ship (Oxford or Pocono) and analyzed in planning raids or infiltrations.

It is interesting to know that by the mid-1970s Bohning was already considered a be a CIA asset. It is surely significant that the CIA still want to distance themselves from Sturgis and any Cuban-exile assassination plots.

Bohning has just sent me another message via Facebook: "I am researching another article on you and your website, that will include your attacks on and apologies to John McAdams and Dan Moldea."

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