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John Simkin

Jean-Pierre Lafitte

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Part of Anthony Frewin's review of A Terrible Mistake: The Murder of Frank Olson and the CIA’s Secret Cold War Experiments:

http://www.lobster-magazine.co.uk/free/lob...9/lobster59.pdf

On Thursday 19 November 1953 Olson attended a meeting at Deep Creek Lake with several of his colleagues and was slipped LSD laced with a ‘truth drug’ before being interrogated. He began to display strange behaviour, extreme anxiety, and feelings of paranoia. The loose cannon was now ricocheting about like the ball in a pinball machine. He was taken up to New York to see the CIA-approved Dr Abramson who seems to have realised that there was going to be no easy fix here. Then it was decided that Olson should be taken away to a secure CIA-approved asylum and the forcible removal of Olson from the Hotel Statler was entrusted to two ‘goons’. Things got out of hand in the hotel room and Olson was precipitated out the window with the goons probably thinking, they’ll thank us for this (indeed, they might even

have been instructed to do same). The two goons were Pierre Lafitte and Francoise Spirito. Who they?

Spirio and Lafitte

Spirito has been dubbed the father of modern heroin traffickers. He was born in Sicily in 1898 and spent his formative years in Marseilles. The 1970 French film Borsalino was largely based on his life but left out much of his less pleasing side, such as his Nazi collaboration during the war.

Just before the Olson business Spirito had been released from Atlanta’s Federal Penitentiary where he had been serving a

sentence for drug trafficking. Less than three weeks later he was picked up by the US Immigration and Naturalization Service and deported back to France where he died in 1967.

Spirito had known Lafitte since about 1939 and they had first met in Marseilles. It was Lafitte who engaged him for the job.

Now let’s turn to Lafitte. In 1952 nine large framed paintings including The Flaying of St. Bartholomew, believed to be by Mattis Preti, a famous Neapolitan artist, were stolen from St Joseph’s Cathedral in Bardstown, Kentucky. In April 1953 FBI agents arrested three people in Chicago in connection with the theft: Norton I Kretske, an attorney, Joseph DePietro, a deputy bailiff for a Chicago court, and an individual identified as Gus Manoletti. The case went to trial in October and the government’s second prosecution witness answered to the name of Jean-Pierre Lafitte but as he approached the stand he was recognised as Gus Manoletti.

Lafitte said he lived in San Diego and had been employed for the last three years as a special investigator for the Federal Bureau of Narcotics. Before that he had been employed overseas on ‘special missions for the United States government.’ He explained that he had been engaged by the FBI to locate the stolen paintings and had posed as a buyer in the art world and after months of undercover work had purchased the stolen paintings from Kretske and DePietro for $35,000. They were then arrested in a sting operation.

Since Lafitte was the government’s star witness, the attorneys for the defendants made strenuous efforts to find out more about his background. The prosecutors objected and the judge sustained their objections citing public interest issues and forbidding any disclosure. So, here we have a man trusted by government agencies and seemingly employed by

them over many years. It’s unclear when and where Lafitte was born; possibly Corsica in the early 1900s. He certainly grew up in Marseilles and in his early teens, either having run away from home or having been abandoned by his mother, was working in restaurant kitchens where he discovered a natural aptitude for cooking, a talent that would stand him in good stead throughout his peripatetic life.

His involvement in the Marseilles underworld parallels his restaurant work. The late 1930s found Lafitte travelling back

and forth between New York, Montreal, Boston, Paris and Marseilles, probably facilitating drug deals. During the 1939-45

war he is thought to have been involved in a number of OSS operations in Nazi-occupied Europe.

Sometime after the war he hooked up with George Hunter White, a buccaneering agent of the Federal Narcotics Bureau, who would provide plenty of work for him. (White had free access to LSD in the early 1950s and was dosing unwitting subjects left, right and centre in the many safe houses he ran for the FNB and other agencies).

In 1951 White enlisted Lafitte’s help in a major narcotics case. A Joe Dornay, an alias of Joseph Orsini, was arrested in

New York for drug trafficking. When he was placed in a cell on Ellis Island prior to deportation who was his cellmate? None

other than Lafitte, put there by the FBN to gather information about Orsini’s network. Orsini spilled the beans thinking that

Lafitte could mind the store while he was away. As it was, Orsini effectively handed the network on a plate to the FBN

and the FBI via Lafitte.

Lafitte’s career as a ‘non-attributable’ agent for various government agencies is described in great detail by Albarelli and includes the remarkable story of Joe Valachi, the Mafia song-bird, who had murdered John Joseph Saupp in the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary yard. The US Attorney there had sought the death penalty but Valachi, through a go-between,

got a message concerning his predicament through to Robert Morgenthau who was then the US Attorney for the Southern

District of New York. The message was that he was prepared to tell all about the mob, as he subsequently did, in exchange

for the death penalty going away.4 Albarelli reveals Lafitte was that go-between.

In 1953 Lafitte had been working undercover doing lowly work in several New York hotels, probably for the FBN, certainly for George White. He was working at the Hotel Statler when Olson exited the window.

Shaw, Oswald, New Orleans

Now we’ll go to a contemporary ‘parallel’ universe: Clay Shaw, Lee Harvey Oswald, and New Orleans.

In 1967 the New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison arrested Clay Shaw for conspiracy in the assassination of John

F Kennedy. Shaw was a prominent New Orleans businessman and a leading director of the World Trade Center, a ‘non-profit association fostering the development of international trade, tourism and cultural exchange.’ In 1969 Sidney Gottlieb

announced at a staff meeting that the FBI had arrested Lafitte in New Orleans where he was working as the manager-chef of the Plimsoll Club within the World Trade Center5 (Shaw had praised him as ‘the best chef in New Orleans’ (Others who sang his praises included the Louisiana Governor John McKeithen and Mrs Lyndon Baines Johnson who sent him a letter from the White House. See ‘The Gourmet Pirate’, Time magazine, 19 December 1969.). Richard Helms, now director of the CIA, wanted to know what was going on and ordered an inquiry.

It transpires that the Feds had little choice but to pick Lafitte up as six years earlier he had swindled a businessman

out of $400,000 in an elaborate scam that involved diamond mines in South Africa.

However, Lafitte’s ‘interfacing’ with the Kennedy assassination and its aftermath do not end there. Earlier, in 1967 or 1968, with Allan Hughes, a CIA operative who had attended the Deep Creek Lake meeting where Olson had been dosed, and the reporter James Phelan, Lafitte burgled Garrison’s office to retrieve papers relating to Shaw.

And there’s an even more intriguing connection. On 9 May 1963 Lee Harvey Oswald applied for work at the William B Reily Coffee Company in New Orleans. The eponymous Reily was a rabid anti-communist who gave financial support both to Sergio Arcacha Smith’s Crusade to Free Cuba Committee and Ed Butler’s partially CIA-funded propaganda outfit, the Information Council of the Americas (INCA). The Reily vice-president, William Monaghan, was a former FBI agent and was a charter member of INCA. Jim Garrison believed that Reily’s was part of an intelligence apparatus. A view bolstered somewhat by Gerry Patrick Hemming’s claim that William Reily had worked for the CIA for years.

Oswald worked for Reily May through July, and Albarelli notes that ‘Around the time of JFK assassination’ Lafitte too

was working for the Reily company. The world gets smaller and smaller.

Lafitte is unknown in the literature of the JFK assassination. I checked the indices of some ten works. He’s obviously a person for whom further and better partics are needed.

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I thought I would bring up this old thread in light of the fact that Jean Pierre Lafitte is mentioned in the promotional chapter by Hank Albarelli posted by Doug Caddy.

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Is Frewin saying that Phelan and Lafitte burgled Garrison's office to take files on Shaw?  

The construction of the sentence is weird.

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On 6/8/2010 at 2:22 AM, John Simkin said:

Earlier, in 1967 or 1968, with Allan Hughes, a CIA operative who had attended the Deep Creek Lake meeting where Olson had been dosed, and the reporter James Phelan, Lafitte burgled Garrison’s office to retrieve papers relating to Shaw.

My take is  Allan Hughes, James Phelan and Lafitte burgled Garrison's office to retrieve papers relating to Shaw.

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Yes that is what I thought it said Richard.

If that is so, then this is really full exposure on Phelan.

Because he told me first, that he never informed on Garrison to the FBI.  That turned out to be false.

But then his fallback was, he never worked for the CIA, he said he had nothing but disdain for them.

Well, then it turned out he works with the CIA.

 What a xxxx.

 

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14 hours ago, James DiEugenio said:

Yes that is what I thought it said Richard.

If that is so, then this is really full exposure on Phelan.

Because he told me first, that he never informed on Garrison to the FBI.  That turned out to be false.

But then his fallback was, he never worked for the CIA, he said he had nothing but disdain for them.

Well, then it turned out he works with the CIA.

 What a xxxx.

 

Jim - thanks for your perspective on James Phelan. I had forgotten that he was the author of the 1967 Saturday Evening Post article on Garrison and his Investigation, an article that was more hit piece than legitimate journalism. This new info on the burglary makes clear Phelan’s role. I googled Phelan and came across the wiki article on Garrison’s trial. I still remember how disappointed I was at the time to read that Garrison thought the assassination was a ‘homosexual thrill killing’. Those are Phelan’s words!!

Suggest anyone reading this look at the wiki article. The Phelan hit piece is linked in the sources at the end of the wiki article. It is a real steaming pile. This reinforces the view that Garrison was close, that he was thwarted in every possible way because of that. I would go so far as to suggest that the Ferrie suicide was misdirection, that Russo was a plant, that everything was done to move the investigation away from Shaw.

 

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Wouldn't you love to know the documents that they were trying to steal?

I can tell you one thing that not very many people know about.

Every Monday morning, Garrison would make out a lead sheet.  I saw one of them.

I will never forget that it had on it a description of a film someone had taken that depicted Shaw with Oswald.  

 

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It’s amazing to me how little interest is shown by posters here on this subject. I think Garrison was so effectively lampooned by guys like Phelan that we wrote him off. I would say that the French/Corsican connection suffered a similar fate, with all the deliberate name confusion i.e. Souetre/Mertz. Yet if we follow more recent revelations about Shaw, such as his real connection to CMC/Permindex, we can begin to see threads that tie these two theories together. Hank Albarelli, who brought us the info on Jean-Pierre Lafitte, has apparently zeroed in on Otto Skorzeny. I’m very curious what else he has found, whether William Harvey is in the mix, or Souetre. Readers dismiss the Nazi connection too readily because, in my opinion, they haven’t really looked at the post war enlistment of Nazis by the CIA. If Skorzeny was the mastermind it could only be because he was hired and protected. It looks to me like the conspiracy was above top secret, and defied organizational boundaries. 

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