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Lone Gunman podcast: L. Fletcher Prouty a xxxx?


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I'm not sure how much anybody will convince anyone else about Prouty. But if you're hard core Prouty, when you read the ARRB transcript, you'd have to be disappointed at how Prouty continually backpedals, he's just hunkering down, to try to minimize his previous claims and position in distinction to his rather defiant attitude here, where he very authoritatively  flaunts his position and experience in this C Span symposium in 1992, where he  and John Judge are the foremost JFKA conspiracy proponents, that people should find interesting.

His tone definitely provides a rallying cry for  JFKAC  advocates. Unfortunately I can't find film of another symposium I saw Prouty was in where he sort of mocks others for their naivete. 

 

Edited by Kirk Gallaway
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I hesitate to weigh in on a heated discussion but its a subject I've tackled for years now - including publishing a CD with all the 112th and Prouty ARRB materials on it years ago -  and encouraging people to listen to the interviews - and read the documents about Reich as well as the data collected on the 112th.  Its also extremely important to read the documents we have on Prouty's staff position with the Joint Chiefs (as well as Lansdale's assignment there and how that came about) for context. 

Prouty was in a senior staff position, no doubt about that - he writes about his duties and we now have operational documents relating to some of his activities.  Basically his job was as a JCS  coordinator and CIA covert ops liaison. That meant facilitating the protocols and processing of requests to clandestinely  supply American military equipment and support for covert CIA operations. But its important to remember that itwas American equipment and support; much of the support coming from special "black" air units - such as those being used to support operations like those in Tibet. He was not involved in sourcing deniable non-American equipment and support - the CIA did that for itself with cover companies.

David Boylan and I ran across his activities in regard to the first Cuba project - and internal memos from the CIA folks complaining that he difficult to deal with and requests moved way too slowly.  I suspect that was more a part of the system than him personally, but they do help confirm his duties. Its really important to understand SACSA overall and its expanding role as JFK moved the military more into covert operations.

The real issue here is that the question of Prouty receiving staff assignments such as going to Antarctica is not really a mystery; that's why the JCS have staff. What has always puzzled me is what he thought he would have seen in his position and in his regular job duties if he had been in DC? 

He only had a view into certain officially sanctioned projects, usually those involving major equipment transfers or covert air support.  How that would translate to a paramilitary ambush in Dallas eludes me.  On the other hand he had ample reason to understand the scope of CIA covert ops and the attitudes of some of his people. 

If he had just voiced suspicions on that level - as others with similar exposure have and did - that makes sense to me.  But what specific knowledge other than a rumor from an unknown source at the 112th (which he could not corroborate and whose source he did not know personally) he could have had about Dallas eludes me.

Given that his extensive personal interview with the ARRB was voluntary and that he did recant a number of former statements, its probably more reasonable to fall back on looking at what he really had to offer other than suspicions of CIA involvement (which I'm likely the last person to reject) and an identification of Lansdale in Dallas.

Which, if you really dig into Lansdale's career and even why he was on the JCS staff at that point in time, is another issue entirely and one that has to include the fact that JFK had actually been a personal champion of Lansdale in two major venues - Vietnam and Cuba.

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Larry,

      Do you have an opinion about Prouty's self-professed role in co-authoring (with General Victor Krulak) the September 1963 McNamara/Taylor Report that JFK used in issuing NSAM263?

     Prouty also claimed that he was involved in reviewing intel related to the Honolulu conference on Vietnam at the time he was given the November 1963 assignment to escort some VIPs to Antarctica.  And he was intimately familiar with the CIA's history at Saigon Station (the Strategic Hamlet Program, etc.) that had created the debacle in Vietnam which JFK was trying to end.

     From what I have read, the focus here on Prouty's ancillary comments about Dallas security lapses is misplaced.  It misses the central point of his thesis about JFK's assassination, the CIA, and Vietnam-- i.e., that JFK had clearly decided in October of 1963 to get out of Vietnam, (NSAM263) and that his policy decision was mysteriously reversed by the NSAM273 draft written in Honolulu on November 21, 1963 and signed by LBJ on 11/25/63 at the behest of McGeorge Bundy.

     

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This is an interesting thread.  I've never given much close attention to Colonel Prouty (although its always the "colonels", as Steve Thomas cautions us).  He is of course interesting, and authored some interesting books.  He was in a unique position to see the interconnections of the military and the intelligence community ... a valuable perspective for those who want to understand what happened in Dealey Plaza.  I would try not to judge Prouty's allegations - which is what AARB was trying to substantiate in their September 1996 interview - with how he is portrayed in the movie JFK.   

The ARRB Interview summary (prepared by Christopher Barger) stated that "in his various writings, Prouty advanced several claims or theories about the assassination".  While the AARB's basic responsibility was to identify pertinent records (i.e. evidence), is wasn't just about documents.  In my reading of the interview summary, they were attempting to substantiate Prouty's allegations.   I have some experience in that regard, which I wont go into here, but that word caught my eye.  Prouty had made statements, captured in a variety of sources (not just the Stone movie) and the AARB was tasked with running these down to substantiate the claims.  The stated purposes of the ARRB interview were:

  1. Determine precisely what firsthand knowledge Prouty has regarding the assassination;
  2. Determine the extent to which his various allegations or statements regarding the assassination are based on his own personal knowledge or experience; and, should he disavow factual knowledge from his own experience, to determine whether he is aware of other factual data that could tend to prove or disprove his allegations;
  3. To ascertain whether Prouty has in his possession any original documents or other records that might be valuable to the JFK Assassination Records Collection at the National Archives, and to seek Prouty’s advice on where the ARRB might look for additional records relating to the assassination;
  4. To seek Prouty’s advice on other individuals whom the ARRB might contact in order to confirm or deny his statements and theories  

I don't think this 1996 interview destroys Fletcher Prouty's integrity or importance, nor should we ignore what he has written and talked about.  But it does weaken his credibility. 

Gene

 

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I would have to do a lot more research and see some actual documentation to make any comment on Prouty in regard to that particular report....and for that matter in regard to his role in Vietnam period.  I do know what SACSA was doing in regard to Vietnam, which was trying to manage the switchback program to move CIA covert action from the CIA to the military and that was way behind schedule and going poorly.  As for counter insurgency and covert action inside Vietnam that was a MACV responsibility and I have not studied SACSA's role in that circa 1963.

I do know a good bit about Lansdale's role in MACV in the period through 1962 but I also know he pretty much ended up with the Joint Chiefs staff because neither State nor the CIA nor the military wanted him in the positions in Vietnam that JFK tried to move him into - all of them assumed his allegiance was to one of the others.

I guess my first question is whether there is any documentation or another source to support his assertions on his activity related to 1963?  SACSA as a whole was doing a lot of study work on Cuba, I do know that because JFK had assigned it to them.  But I don't claim to know what Prouty was or was not doing in his own staff assignments other than the liaison role in supporting covert operations that he had held for a number of years.

My other thought would be that even if he was involved in the report, what about it would specifically make him suspect a plot to kill JFK was in play....just a question, not trying to start an argument. 

And....has anybody asked John Newman about Prouty's involvement in that report; seems like if anyone would know he would.

 

Edited by Larry Hancock
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3 hours ago, Gene Kelly said:

 

I don't think this 1996 interview destroys Fletcher Prouty's integrity or importance, nor should we ignore what he has written and talked about.  But it does weaken his credibility. 

Gene

 

Curious GK;

Would you be willing to qualify your assessment above with more specificity?

To what extent does the interview weaken Prouty's credibility?

Significantly, noticably, somewhat? And in what areas of his body of work and claims?

How about in regards to Prouty's suspicion of Lansdale's presence in Dealey Plaza? And Prouty's noting physical characteristics specific to Lansdale in the Tramp photo?

How about Prouty's claim that Victor Krulak agreed with Prouty that the lanky tramp photo man did look like Lansdale to him also? 

Did Prouty backtrack on his early suspicion claims regards Lansdale being the lanky business suit man in the Tramp photo?

 

Edited by Joe Bauer
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As I understand it - and this is from pieces of various interviews over the years - Prouty was part of an informal group of former national security officials who held suspicions about the JFK murder, and communicated with each other on this topic in the late 1960s or early 1970s. They had privileged access to photos from Dealey Plaza for discussion purposes, and these included the “tramp” photos. I don’t believe Prouty harboured any suspicions about the purpose of his November ’63 Antarctica trip until his ID of Lansdale in one of those photos.

Prouty’s valuable contributions to Cold War history are “The Secret Team” book, and the interviews with Dave Ratcliffe known as “Understanding Special Operations.” He is prone to speculation on the JFK assassination, but prior to the massive document release spurred by the ARRB, speculation was the order of the day. 

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In regard to the report, I checked with my friend Mike Swanson who had been researching the most current information on the evolution of the Vietnam War and is close to having a new book out on events through 1961.  He referenced Howard Jones book Death of a Generation. 

While the full report was written by a committee under Bundy, Krulak did contribute at least part of it and as Prouty's boss may well have given him notes from the meeting and asked him to do a rough draft for Krulak's review. That would be a regular staff duty.

Prouty may have exaggerated a bit but it seems likely he did read materials from the meeting in Hawaii and did do at least some writing related to the report.

....and I think Jeff's post above seems a pretty good synopsis.  Certainly several people were suspicious of the CIA (RFK very possibly the first the afternoon of the assassination).


 
Edited by Larry Hancock
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2 hours ago, Larry Hancock said:

I would have to do a lot more research and see some actual documentation to make any comment on Prouty in regard to that particular report....and for that matter in regard to his role in Vietnam period...

 

My other thought would be that even if he (Prouty) was involved in the report, what about it would specifically make him suspect a plot to kill JFK was in play....just a question

 

    Based on his own detailed writings, Prouty was perplexed about the abrupt reversal of the NSAM263 policy that took place in Honolulu during JFK's fateful trip to Dallas.  Having co-authored the McNamara/ Taylor Report, he knew that JFK had fully resolved to get out of Vietnam.

So, his inquiry into the assassination was prompted by the curious reversal of NSAM263, and also by ancillary observations about an apparent black op/ psy op-- e.g., the early news wires (and photos) identifying Oswald as a lone assassin, the bizarre security lapses in Dealey Plaza, and the photos of his long-time colleague, Ed Lansdale, in Dealey Plaza.

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On 10/24/2020 at 7:35 AM, Kirk Gallaway said:

I'm not sure how much anybody will convince anyone else about Prouty. But if you're hard core Prouty, when you read the ARRB transcript, you'd have to be disappointed at how Prouty continually backpedals, he's just hunkering down, to try to minimize his previous claims and position in distinction to his rather defiant attitude here, where he very authoritatively  flaunts his position and experience in this C Span symposium in 1992, where he  and John Judge are the foremost JFKA conspiracy proponents, that people should find interesting.

His tone definitely provides a rallying cry for  JFKAC  advocates. Unfortunately I can't find film of another symposium I saw Prouty was in where he sort of mocks others for their naivete. 

 

Thanks for sharing Kirk, it was a good watch/ 

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I'm halfway through viewing the video posted above regarding the panel discussion of Stone's film JFK.

How in the world have I never come across this fascinating, thought provoking, informative and important debate?

Just one quick point that struck me in this debate.

Congressman Henry Gonzalez stated that in the deep content of the WC volumes, it was revealed that Jack Ruby was a "hit man" for organized crime during his time working for the Waste Paper Handler's Union ( run by Paul Dorfman) in Chicago.

Really?    

 

Edited by Joe Bauer
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Just viewed the 2nd half of the JFK film panel discussion.

Prouty doesn't come across to me a disinformation agent, nor less credible than anyone else on that panel.

He does seem to exhibit a slight cognitive decline in hearing and even slighter in his response time to questions presented to him.

Dan Moldea pressed Prouty about what Moldea claimed was Jim Garrison's connection to Carlos Marcello. A paid and controlled one.

All three times Moldea directed this Garrison/Marcello connection claim to Prouty and asked Prouty if this connection gave him any concern.

Prouty totally avoided answering Moldea's Garrison, Marcello

questions.

I do wonder why Prouty avoided answering Moldea's questions regards this supposed organized crime connection to Jim Garrison.

Perhaps Prouty felt the premise on Moldea's part was not worth discussing?

The audience members were rapt in their engagement with the debate forum.

Their questions well informed and sharp.

One younger man pressed Prouty about Prouty's attendance at high intelligence meetings where the murder of foreign country leaders was planned, okayed, whatever.

Prouty assumed a tough military officer tone and said he wasn't going to discuss whether he was or was not in attendance in such meetings.  Pressed further Prouty then mentioned one name only ...Trujillo.

Great discussion video.

Edited by Joe Bauer
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Joe

I don't know too much about Fletcher Prouty, and never thought too deeply about his opinions until reading this AARB transcript.  For me personally, he has always seemed too good to be true.  He authored a number of dramatic books (none of which I've read) which apparently experienced difficulty getting published.  That he raised suspicions at the time is to his credit, and could be viewed as courageous.  I would note however that he is an "insider" as far as intelligence operations and military liaison are concerned ... so (as many in the JFK community), I try to keep an open mind, but harbor some skepticism.  Trust but verify, as we used to say in my former profession (i.e. nuclear plant inspection).  I do not belive the AARB staff were trying to discredit him in any way, as they were attempting to identify verifiable sources and documents.  But they came away with very little, other than speculation and opinion:   

Under scrutiny and close questioning, Prouty basically concedes that he has no personal knowledge of anything sinister, and that the basis of his statements are his own personal beliefs only. Prouty also admits that he has never read or even seen the Warren Commission Report.  His statements, coming from someone who was verifiably in a position to know, sound plausible, and would appear to carry the credibility of an insider’s knowledge. Under more careful analysis, it becomes clear that ... many of Prouty’s allegations are not based on interpretations of actual events, but merely his feelings or general beliefs. Given the opportunity to document these allegations or in some other fashion uncover the truth, however, Prouty declined to do so, and often retreated from or contradicted his published claims.

He did have a 23-year military career, much of it in the Pentagon. In 1955 he was appointed a "Focal Point" officer between the CIA and the Air Force for Clandestine Operations. He prepared briefings for the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  His website states that "at times he would be called to meet with Allen Dulles and John Foster Dulles at their home on highly classified business".   Those are some strange bedfellows.  

Gene

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Joe,

If you watch that panel carefully, its pretty clear that the guy hosting it had arranged for Moldea to be there and wanted him to go after Prouty as a symbol of the film.  Note the host's use of the word "factoid".

To me, Dan Moldea is one of the worst things that ever happened to the JFK critical community.  His haranguing the panel about this Garrison/Marcello mythology  is a venture into a cul de sac. As Bill Davy and myself later discovered this was all BS, set up in part by Walter Sheridan/ Clay Shaw ally Aaron Kohn, who used to work for Hoover.  There was no such connection.  Plus Moldea's later praise for the likes of Frank Ragano shows how much credibility he had or has on the subject.  Which is very little. 

What makes him look even worse today is the reversal he did on the murder of RFK.  That is simply an utter disgrace.  And his attempt to twist the evidence was almost humorous if it was not so pernicious.

Edited by James DiEugenio
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As per Prouty: he was involved with Krulak and Krulak was working on Vietnam policy.   To the point that Krulak was one of the guys who, at the end, was  trying to yank the withdrawal plan out of the McNamara Taylor report in October of 1963. This is in the update of Newman's book.

And that is not a factoid, as the host on the panel said.  The reversal of Kennedy's policy is a fact.  And we now have tapes of LBJ admitting he did this and also tried to cover it up.  BTW, Prouty was also correct on the point that NSAM 273 was not the  real major alteration.  That came with NSAM 288 in March. Because that formed the basis for the attack on the north after the Gulf of Tonkin.  Which I am now, pretty much convinced, was all planned out for in advance, as was Johnson's escalation to a land war in Indochina.

The Anarctica journey did occur and I have seen photos of it. The key part of that story is the newspaper angle.  That has never been adequately explained.

Edited by James DiEugenio
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