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Tim Gratz

The Odio Incident

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According to a telephone conversation with Gerald Patrick Hemming today, the men who visited Mrs. Odio were:

(1) Angelo Murgado, who had been close to the Kennedys for a number of years.

(2) Leopoldo was Bernardo de Torres. de Torres was being controlled by Charles Siragusa, who, Hemming says, was involved in foreign assassinations. de Torres had been given the assignment to watch Oswald.

(3) LHO.

Also according to Mr. Hemming, they visited Mrs. Odio because of her JURE connections and their ultimate objective was to find assets in Cuba to kill Fidel.

I have wondered whether what was going on in Mexico City was an attempt to put someone into Cuba (either LHO or someone using his name) to kill Fidel.

If I recall right, the HSCA indicated LHO could have visited Odio and still been in Mexico City if he had private transportation available.

Also according to Hemming LHO was loyal to our side; his involvement with American intelligence, then, necessitated the cover-up.

Comments?

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Hi Tim,

Angelo Murgado is a new name for me.

Charles Siragusa is an interesting character though. The following is from one of A.J. Weberman's Nodules.

James

*****************

CHARLES SIRAGUSA: THE CIA'S HITMAN

The CIA's initial efforts to form an assassination section involved Charles Siragusa. Siragusa (born October 28, 1913; died April 17, 1982, Office of Security # 41 82) was raised amid mob violence in New York City's Little Italy. He worked under ANGLETON in the OSS (March 1944 to December 1945), and then was an official of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics. [Winks Cloak and Gown p363] He was sent to Italy in 1951 to neutralize "Lucky" Luciano, who was sending heroin shipments to New York. [sterling, C. Octopus p79] Charles Siragusa was attached to the U.S. Embassy, Rome, where he worked with the CIA Station. A CIA document revealed: "Siragusa was of liaison interest to various components of this Agency from 1961 to 1967, including the Behavioral Activities Branch of the Technical Services Division." [HSCA Gambino/Carpenter 2.28.78] In May 1967 Charles Siragusa supplied the CIA with biographic data that stated he had been employed by the Illinois Crime Commission since 1963. As head of the Commission, Siragusa was instrumental in solving the $4.3 million Purolator theft in 1974 by planting a snitch in the suspected burglary gang. In 1974 the name of Charles Siragusa was given to the Central Cover Staff in response to a request from an individual who might work for a pharmaceutical firm as an investigator.

In October 1977, Charles Siragusa told Senator Edward Kennedy "that he was approached by a CIA employee in 1960 or 1961 who he recalls was Mr. Vincent Thill, who sought Mr. Siragusa's assistance to recruit underworld figures for assassination purposes. Mr. Thill is alleged to have said that one million dollars would be paid for a successful assassination. Mr. Siragusa also stated that in addition to Mr. Thill, he had contact with the following former CIA employees: Sheffield Edwards, JAMES ANGLETON, John Mertz and Robert Bannerman. As related to the CIA, the context of their relationship with Mr. Siragusa was not given. The SSCIA was informed of Mr. Siragusa's allegation. Mr. William Miller, SSCIA, suggested to Commander Bernard McMahon, Executive Assistant to the Director of the CIA, and Mr. John Waller, Inspector General, that CIA investigate the allegation. The Agency has initiated an investigation; following are the results to date: (Deleted)."

CHARLES SIRAGUSA AND VINCENT THILL

Charles Siragusa told journalist Jack Anderson: "After a few minutes of chitchat, the CIA man [Vincent Thill] made this startling suggestion: that Siragusa, drawing on his underworld knowledge and contacts, recruit a crew of mafia torpedoes for standby assassination duty. They would be paid $1 million in fees and expenses for each kill. The CIA would assign the missions and underwrite the payoffs from secret funds." Siragusa, who had underworld and mafia connections because of his position with the Bureau of Narcotics, said that he refused to cooperate. Some evidence, however, indicated Charles Siragusa proposed that narcotics traffickers be utilized as assassins. On December 19, 1960, Harold Meltzer was considered as a possible CIA assassin. Meltzer was an associate of Meyer Lansky. The CIA: "Attached is a rather comprehensive six page biographical history which supplies not only all the information you requested, but many additional facts which will facilitate your evaluation of his potential. Meltzer owns and operates Fried Sportswear Company, Los Angeles, California. On August 3, 1959 he was convicted at Federal Court at Los Angeles for failure to register as a previously convicted narcotics law violator at the time of his travel abroad. He was fined $1,000 and placed on three years probation. Meltzer appeared before a Federal Grand Jury at Los Angeles on March 24, 1960, under subpoena, but invoked the Firth Amendment throughout questioning. Although he was threatened with contempt proceedings, this action never materialized. In the Spring of 1959 he furnished information to our California Office, but has not since cooperated with us. He has the background and talent for the matter we discussed but it is not known whether he would be receptive. Also attached is a copy of his FBI criminal record and an old Wanted Notice which bears a good likeness of him. I have never met Meltzer." [Los Angeles Times 5.3.78; CIA Enc. 12.1960

JAMES ANGLETON AND CHARLES SIRAGUSA

JAMES ANGLETON was interviewed on October 13, 1977, regarding his relationship with Charles Siragusa: "He knows Siragusa from World War II days. Following the war, during the 1950's, Mr. Siragusa was assigned to Rome as the U.S. representative on narcotics matters for Western Europe. ANGLETON had several official contacts with him but none since. Mr. ANGLETON states he was never associated with assassination plotting."

CHARLES SIRAGUSA AND JOHN MERTZ

When CI Director JAMES ANGLETON wanted his own Counter-Intelligence shop in Vietnam he ordered former Pretoria Chief of Station, John Mertz, to set one up. John Mertz told this researcher: "During World War II when ANGLETON was in Italy working for Allen Dulles he made an arrangement where he ran a Counter-Intelligence Unit in Italy. These men were in uniform, and did not report to the military. That was a peculiar situation in Italy for a short period of time. In July 1965 ANGLETON got the idea that he could do the same in Vietnam. They knew at that time that the American forces were thoroughly penetrated by the North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong. He sent me over to talk to General Joseph A. McChristian. He was top intelligence officer in Vietnam. [McChristian was General Westmoreland's intelligence chief from 1965 to 1967.] He later became DIA Chief, when he came back to the States. McChristian sent me over to confer with him to see if it would be possible for the Agency to set up a Counter-intelligence Unit in uniform, not reporting to the military. McChristian kicked me out the country. He said, 'No way, get the hell out of here. Tell ANGLETON, no.' Our Chief of Station was Gordon L. Jorgensen. I came back and made a report to ANGLETON. He sent a couple a guys over there and they got kicked out. [Gordon Jorgensen was succeeded as Chief of Station of Saigon by John Limond Hart.] That's as far as that went. I went to Africa a year and a half after that."

Mr. John Mertz was interviewed at his retirement home in Florida on October 6, 1977 in regard to Charles Siragusa's allegations. "Mr. Mertz related the following regarding his contacts with Mr. Siragusa. In 1960 or 1961, three CIA employees were arrested in Havana, Cuba, while engaged in an intelligence audio operation directed at a third country. They were tried, convicted and sentenced to ten years in prison. Their CIA affiliation was not revealed. Mr. Mertz was tasked with devising a means to free the prisoners. Mr. ANGLETON was Siragusa's OSS Supervisor in Italy during World War II, and suggested to Mr. Mertz that he contact Siragusa...Mr. Mertz states he was never associated with assassination plotting nor did he deal with Mr. Siragusa on any matters other than those discussed above...Mertz says he was never associated with assassination plotting."

CHARLES SIRAGUSA AND ROBERT BANNERMAN

Robert Bannerman, who was Deputy Director, Office of Security, during the early 1960's, and later the Director of the Office of Security "remembers Siragusa as a Office of Security covert contact/informer. He says that when an Office of Security investigation turned up information related to narcotics, Siragusa might be contacted to see if he could provide assistance. Bannerman says he is not aware of any other contacts with Siragusa nor was he involved in any assassination plotting. He says he now knows that Sheffield Edwards was involved in Castro assassination plotting, but was not aware of it at the time." [CIA OGC 77-6457 10.11.77 Robert S. Young]

The Office of the Inspector General of the CIA determined that there was no basis for Siragusa's allegations. William K. Harvey took over the assassination project from Charles Siragusa. Notes on ZR/RIFLE stated: "Maximum security. Kubark [CIA Station] only. e.g. What does Siragusa now know?"

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Hemming said most definitely that Siragusa was involved in foreign assassinations. As James posting indicates, Harvey took over ZR rifle from Siragusa.

According to several sources, shortly after the assassination, RFK called Harry Williams and asked him accusingly, "One of your guys did it". According to Gerry Hemming, RFK made that statement (question) because he thought LHO did it and because of the association of LHO with the anti-Castro Cubans.

Speculation of course but query whether the CIA was trying to get LHO into Cuba so he could kill Castro (or perhaps someone posing as LHO)--using LHO's leftist credentials. It is also possible (again speculative) whether the CIA sent LHO or an LHO imposter into the embassies in Mexico City to determine if there was a Castro plot against JFK in the works.

Edited by Tim Gratz

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Tim, here’s my coffee-fueled two cents in response to your posts. Good to hear you are talking to GPH. He and Tosh have been a great help to me. I never know what to make of all the fascinating stuff I hear. Digesting takes a while, no?

No matter who “did it” in Dallas, the gun experts on this forum (Carrier and others) have me convinced of the stupidity of the lone gunman scenario. Snipers near and far don’t believe it either—I’m with the experts. I stood in the window at Sixth Floor Museum and it looked like a long shot to me, one guy, crappy weapon... But I know nothing of guns.

We know Dallas FBI knew of LHO-- Shanley, Hosty or whomever-LHO was a tailed man. LHO was in midst of something FBI wanted to know about and had an inkling. FBI knew so much about Castro ops by then. Our families have collected reams to prove it. We knew firsthand of the counterrev. activities.

Everybody knew Kennedy was being stalked. Kennedy knew himself. A brave fellow to go to Dallas (earlier facing off in Miami) in ’63 he was a leader. I wish he had worn that hat the Texans gave him. Perhaps it would have saved his life, but JFK said he’d wear it “next time.”

CIA knew of LHO in Russia and beyond. At home, Joannides is close to the NO incident and a powerhouse of exiles. He is CIAs man among others in exile community. Joannides later reports to duty for the HSCA along with Billings and Life who tucked away Zapruder film for all those years. Facts all and just part of story.

The Military knew LHO. They had all his records. Gerry has him at Odio’s (and in California around Cubans) inquiring about her dad, Castro’s prisoner and exile hero. Tosh places LHO at an airfield in Texas and at Nags Head counterintelligence training. LHO’s in HI with Roscoe if I’m not mistaken from Tosh’s account. LHO is from base at Atsugi with minor clearances. Newman and Melanson place LHO smack in US intelligence. Paines and their relationship to Russian and US Intel community notwithstanding, LHO was everywhere you could say. A real intelligence genius, I think. In some ways he was truly a “lone” operator, going rather bravely to his grave giving only a hint of his involvement.

Tosh and Gerry both agree I think that there were operations in Dallas going on concurrent to assassination. The US was not done dealing with Castro. Men that died like my father, many others BOPs vets, and among them Rorke and Sullivan, Swanner/Thompson were precursor of things to come. Add the strange death of Lisa Howard the handpicked go between with Atwood. Walt Brown has me convinced that there was ongoing operation in the works. Cuba was definitely a “Line in the Sand” in 1963.

CIA and its LHO had a Mexico Story and the Cuba connection and some strange “Russian” photographed coming out of embassy. It was a bind CIA found itself in when the tracing was afoot, congress went snooping. The CIA station chief Win Scott had his memoirs confiscated by Angleton while a grieving family looks on. Too much there to be ignored. June Cobb and Juan Orta are figures in Havana and Mexico City. Duran all of this is not to be taken lightly in intelligence part of investigation.

LHO didn’t actually defect in Russia. Try as he did, his passport was returned and he came home with a stipend and a pretty Russian with her own intelligence story. He was given connections to make in US before he left. He was there on the heels of some very interesting political events: the Penkovsky incident and Powers shoot down. He resurfaces among the next hotspot in US political events? The dog doesn’t hunt and the glove doesn’t fit.

After the criminal investigation was cut short by the mobster Cuban operator Ruby. The cover up was in place more to protecting missions and methods I think. US was still hot on the Castro trail and Kennedy’s were in it too. It didn’t go away in 1959 post Castro victory but deepened in Washington.

This is the confusion in the murder of Kennedy IMHO. Perhaps the cover up is the key to understanding the US offical involvement in Dealey. What was happening in covert operations involving the Kennedys at the time? Kennedy’s secret meetings with Castro and such? The Kennedy brothers were players as they were victims in the end of a dangerous deal. Perhaps in understanding the records we have to accept CIA found itself revealing too much relating to all this Dallas/Cuba stuff that others like the Joannides FOIA case are still fighting to reveal. Truly self-preserving on intelligence part.

About James photo of “Conein and GPH.” What does Gerry say to this?

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As noted above, Gerry Hemming told us a few weeks ago that the Angel who visited Odio with Leopoldo (who he identified as Bernardo de Torres) was Angelo Murgado who later changed his name to Angelo Kennedy. We believe we found a reference to Angelo Murgado in Russo's "Live By the Sword". Russo calls him Angelo Kennedy; herein I will call him Murgado, which was obviously still his name in 1963. Murgado was a close aide to Manuel Artime. In a 1997 interview with Russo, Murgado (then Kennedy) stated that he was with Artime in early 1963 when Artime received a call from the White House. Murgado sat in the ante room of the Oval Office while Artime met privately with President Kennedy (not clear how many others were present). Murgado knew the topic of discussion was the authorization to train a new invasion force. When Artime emerged from the meeting he hugged Murgado and said, "We got it! We got everything!" (Everything Artime had requested of JFK.)

JFK has, of course, met Artime at the Brigade rally at the Orange Bowl in late December of 1962.

Apparently RFK was not in the meeting because JFK told Artime to contact RFK. According to Murgado, by January of 1963 Artime and other exile leaders were being treated to ski vacations in New Hampshire with RFK. Murgado says that Artime and Bobby became so close that Artime stayed at RFK's house in McLean, VA ("Hickory Hill") so frequently he wondered if Artime even keys to Hickory Hill.

Hemming suggested to us that RFK may very well have known Oswald's name and even seen his photograph, which is certainly possible if LHO was "hanging" with one of Artime's closest aides. That, Hemming suggested, may explain a call Hemming made to another Cuban exile Harry Williams after he learned of his brother's assassination and said to the newsman who was with Williams, "One of your guys did it!" It is easy in retrospect to attribute this remark to a conspiracy. At the time it may have only been that RFK recognized Oswald's name as an associate of the anti-Castro Cubans (assuming his call came after the arrest of Oswald.)

Does anyone have any other information re Murgado/Kennedy?

It is also interesting that Artime died at a very early age in November of 1977 (in the middle of the HSCA investigation) two weeks after being diagnosed with cancer. It perhaps seems hard to characterize Artime's death as "mysterious" but he certainly died at a young age.

There is a performing arts center in Miami named after Artime.

Edited by Tim Gratz

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Angelo Kennedy who apparently is also known as Angelo Murgado is very prominent in a group called the Bay of Pigs Dead and Missing in Action Recovery Committee. Another member within this group is Alfredo Duran.

In this image below, that is Angelo Kennedy on the far right.

James

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I need to correct my post above.

Of course Artime met JFK at the Orange Bowl rally for the returned BOP prisoners.

But there is information that JFK had met Artime even before his election as president. I have read this before and was reminded of it when I read John's "page" on Artime which states that JFK (first?) met Artime at the 1960 Democrat National Convention in LA.

See John's Artime page (Artime is under "Suspects") for a good photo of Artime with JFK at the Orange Bowl rally.

Edited by Tim Gratz

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According to a telephone conversation with Gerald Patrick Hemming today, the men who visited Mrs. Odio were:

(1)  Angelo Murgado, who had been close to the Kennedys for a number of years.

(2)  Leopoldo was Bernardo de Torres.  de Torres was being controlled by Charles Siragusa, who, Hemming says, was involved in foreign assassinations.  de Torres had been given the assignment to watch Oswald.

(3)  LHO.

Also according to Mr. Hemming, they visited Mrs. Odio because of her JURE connections and their ultimate objective was to find assets in Cuba to kill Fidel.

I have wondered whether what was going on in Mexico City was an attempt to put someone into Cuba (either LHO or someone using his name) to kill Fidel.

If I recall right, the HSCA indicated LHO could have visited Odio and still been in Mexico City if he had private transportation available.

Also according to Hemming LHO was loyal to our side; his involvement with American intelligence, then, necessitated the cover-up.

Comments?

Tim

CHICAGO TRIBUNE, TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 26,1963

MEXICO PAPER

SAYS OSWALD WENT TO REDS

Reveal Visit to Russ,

Cuban Consulates

MEXICO CITY, Nov. 25

{UPI} - The newspaper Excelsior said today Lee Harvey Oswald

spent several days in Mexico City in late September, calling on

consulates of the Soviet Union and Cuba.

Excelsior said Oswald crossed the border at Larado,Tex,on September

26 {AND DROVE TO MEXICO CITY} ,where on Sept.28 he called on the consulate

general of Cuba and ask for a transit visa to Moscow via Havana.

The United States customs service at Larado confirmed the crossing. A

spokesman said, "There are records to establish this" The records also showed Oswald reentered the United States Oct.3.

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What was the actual original source of the Odio story? Was it Clare Boothe Luce - or did she just add wood to the fire?

Edited by JL Allen

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CHARLES SIRAGUSA AND ROBERT BANNERMAN

Robert Bannerman, who was Deputy Director, Office of Security, during the early 1960's, and later the Director of the Office of Security "remembers Siragusa as a Office of Security covert contact/informer. He says that when an Office of Security investigation turned up information related to narcotics, Siragusa might be contacted to see if he could provide assistance. Bannerman says he is not aware of any other contacts with Siragusa nor was he involved in any assassination plotting. He says he now knows that Sheffield Edwards was involved in Castro assassination plotting, but was not aware of it at the time." [CIA OGC 77-6457 10.11.77 Robert S. Young]

The Office of the Inspector General of the CIA determined that there was no basis for Siragusa's allegations. William K. Harvey took over the assassination project from Charles Siragusa. Notes on ZR/RIFLE stated: "Maximum security. Kubark [CIA Station] only. e.g. What does Siragusa now know?"

End quote

This is intriguing. I re-read the 1967 IG report on the attempts on Castro only yesterday, and Bannerman was listed as one of those in the loop. When it came time to pay Varona, it turned out O'Connell had no budget to do so, so they briefed Esterline so he could take the money from the Bay of Pigs project, and went to Edwards to okay the money, only Edwards was out of town, so they briefed his assistant Bannerman, and got the money. Or something like that. Anyhow, the top secret 67 report said that Bannerman was in the loop, and here he lied about it ten years later.

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Guest Stephen Turner
What was the actual original source of the Odio story?  Was it Clare Boothe Luce - or did she just add wood to the fire?

Greetings

According to tony summers,When the odio sister's saw Oswald on tv after

being arrested, it scared the bejaysus out of them,& they agreed not to mention

the visit to the authorities.Sylvia however confided in a friend, who reported

it to the FBI.They took a suspiciously long time to investigate(July 1964 if

memory serves)

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What was the actual original source of the Odio story?  Was it Clare Boothe Luce - or did she just add wood to the fire?

Sylvia Odio was born in Cuba in 1937. Her father was involved in the struggle against Fulgencio Batista. However, he disagreed with Fidel Castro about certain issues and in 1962 he was arrested and sent to the Isle of Pines. Soon afterwards Odio left Cuba and settled in Dallas. Odio became active in the anti-Castro movement and helped form an organization called Junta Revolucionaria.

On 25th September, 1963, Odio had a visit from three men who claimed they were from New Orleans. Two of the men, Leopoldo and Angelo, said they were members of the Junta Revolucionaria. The third man, Leon, was introduced as an American sympathizer who was willing to take part in the assassination of Fidel Castro. After she told them that she was unwilling to get involved in any criminal activity, the three men left.

Odio became convinced that after the assassination of John F. Kennedy that Leon was Lee Harvey Oswald. Odio gave evidence to the Warren Commission and one of its lawyers commented: "Silvia Odio was checked out thoroughly... The evidence is unanimously favorable... Odio is the most significant witness linking Oswald to the anti-Castro Cubans."

Research carried out by the Federal Bureau of Investigation on behalf of the Warren Commission suggested that the three men were Loran Hall, William Seymour and Lawrence Howard. These were all members of Interpen. Hall later claimed Leon was not Lee Harvey Oswald.

The author, Anthony Summers, suggests that the visit had "been a deliberate ploy to link Junta Revolucionaria, a left-wing exile group, with the assassination". However, G. Robert Blakey interviewed Loran Hall, William Seymour and Lawrence Howard and claims that they did not visit Odio.

Loran Hall gave evidence before the Select House Committee on Assassinations and denied he had told the FBI that he had visited Odio on 25th September, 1963.

This is what John Kelin had to say about it in the Fair Play Magazine (November, 1994)

Many readers are no doubt familiar with the Silvia Odio story, but a short refresher is still in order. Briefly, Silvia Odio was the daughter of a prominent anti-Castro activist who was jailed in Castro's Cuba. In September of 1963 she was living in Dallas when three men, whom she did not know, came to her apartment out of the blue one evening. They told her they too were involved in the anti-Castro movement and wanted her help. Two of the men, Odio later said, appeared to be Cuban or Mexican, and identified themselves by their "war names," Leopoldo and Angelo (or Angel). The third was an American introduced as Leon Oswald.

Uneasy with these men, Silvia Odio declined any involvement with them, and sent them away. A day or two later, Leopoldo called her on the phone and, among other things, said that Leon Oswald was a former marine, a crack shot - and that he thought President Kennedy should be assassinated.

After the President was indeed slain, Silvia Odio was horrified to recognize Lee Harvey Oswald as the same "Leon Oswald" who had been outside her apartment. This identification was corroborated by her sister Annie who also saw and spoke with the three strangers.

Silvia Odio gave this story to the Warren Commission. But the Commission decided she was mistaken in her identification of Oswald, in part because Oswald was, by the Commission's reckoning, in Mexico City at the time Odio said she was visited.

This story - the conventional "Odio incident" - is explosive enough, tying Oswald to the idea of killing Kennedy several months before it happened. Sylvia Meagher called it "the proof of the plot." Anthony Summers said it represents "the strongest human evidence." And Gaeton Fonzi, who investigated this episode for the House Select Committee on Assassinations, wrote that "the Odio incident absolutely cries conspiracy."

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However, G. Robert Blakey interviewed Loran Hall, William Seymour and Lawrence Howard and claims that they did not visit Odio.

Ive always been wondering where William Seymour's testimony/interview has been??? anyone know where I could find this?

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