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John Simkin

Miami newspapers and the CIA

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On another thread I have looked at how Hal Hendrix of the Miami Times was a CIA asset in the late 1950s and early 1960s. It seems that at the time the CIA had a strong influence over what was published in Miami newspapers.

In August, 1975, Taylor Branch and George Criles III published an article in Harper's Magazine entitled "The Kennedy Vendetta". The article quoted a former JM/WAVE agent as saying:

"A paper like the Miami Herald would have one or two reporters with jurisdiction for Cuba, and we would give them access to the station. So we would feed them information and give them a career out of handouts. The guys learn not to hurt you. Only occasionally do you give them a big lie, and then only for a good reason. The paper was always willing to keep things quiet for us."

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On another thread I have looked at how Hal Hendrix of the Miami Times was a CIA asset in the late 1950s and early 1960s. It seems that at the time the CIA had a strong influence over what was published in Miami newspapers.

In August, 1975, Taylor Branch and George Criles III published an article in Harper's Magazine entitled "The Kennedy Vendetta". The article quoted a former JM/WAVE agent as saying:

"A paper like the Miami Herald would have one or two reporters with jurisdiction for Cuba, and we would give them access to the station. So we would feed them information and give them a career out of handouts. The guys learn not to hurt you. Only occasionally do you give them a big lie, and then only for a good reason. The paper was always willing to keep things quiet for us."

John:

The same quote appears in Hinckle and Turner's invaluable "Deadly Secrets" [an updated "The Fish Is Red], and describes a relatively innocuous practice; journalist-as-undeclared-publicist.  The same book also contributes the following CIA methodology, which is not nearly so benign:

"The CIA over the years had developed a professionally effective method of killing stories it did not wish disseminated to the nation's press.  This method was used to a high degree of success in keeping stories of the invasion planning from leaving the Miami area over the leased news wires.  The agency planted what it euphemistically called stringers in key wire service bureaus.  If an offensive story happened to clatter down the wire, the CIA's ace newsman would scurry to the keybroard and type HOLD FOR MORE.  This is wire service lingo for story not complete, more coming.  In regional and national bureaus, wire service editors would dutifully put the dispatch aside, awaiting the rest before transmitting it to subscriber newspaper.  The MORE never came.

"An inquisitive press is the CIA's natural enemy, but in this area Miami posed no special problem.  Southern Florida publishers and editors seemed to have an unusually well-developed sense of "national security" and of what was not cricket to publish.  In The Cuban Invasion, Karl E. Meyer and Tad Szulc disclosed that shortly before the Bay of Pigs "a Philadelphia editor called up a Miami publisher to ask if the rumors about Guatemala training camps were true.  He was told by his friend in Florida that there was nothing to the story."

In the first instance, CIA merely places its spin on the news by selectively feeding hand-picked media beneficiaries; in the second instance, it ensures that there is no news, at all, anywhere in the US, which seems to me a far graver transgression. 

One would be unsurprised to learn that the KGB might have exercised that degree of influence over coverage by TASS or Pravda, or that the Gestapo would utilize such strategies to keep the Germans ignorant during wartime.  These are, after all, totalitarian and fascist propaganda methods, designed to lull the populace into accepting that the false is true, or that the true is false.

That a US intelligence agency - particularly one specifically prohibited by its own enabling charter from engaging in any such activities on US soil - would violate both the letter and spirit of the US Constitution demonstrates the extent of CIA's contempt for the "free press," and the basic rights of the citizens who rely upon it to make their most fundamental decisions. 

Then again, CIA had little option but to exercise that degree of illegal prior censorship over the press.  Had it not done so, the "free press" might have reported CIA's equally illegal use of US soil, arms, personnel and materiel for a covert operation that violated the Neutrality Act, the Munitions Act, the Firearms Act, various state and federal statutes, Customs and Immigration regulations, a dozen international pacts to which the US was a signatory including United Nations resolutions, etc.  All without having the legal basis for declaring a war, or the guts to issue such a declaration. 

It is important to recall that these acts of fraud, deceit and criminal murder of innocent civilians were undertaken by persons never elected by anyone, ostensibly on the instructions of those who were elected without announcing any such intent, aided and abetted by a lapdog media more compliant to the wishes of those in power than to the interests of its own readers and viewers.

This is the twisted fun-house image of democracy that the US has busily exported around the globe since CIA's inception.  Is it any wonder that US citizens - ignorant of what has been done, and is being done, in their name - cannot fathom the international antipathy they encounter when they wander beyond their own borders into the broader, real world? 

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At the risk of being repetitive this looks like it fits in this thread as well:

An interesting document which you might order a copy of RIF 104-10072-10289 from NARA. The title is rather uninteresting e.g. "Special Activities Report on a JMWAVE Relationship" however the content has to do with a several year relationship between JMWAVE and various personnel at the Miami Harald.

The document describes relationships with AMCARBON-1, AMCARBON-2 ...and apparent multiple identities of individuals (which totally confuses me). Apparently AMCARBON-2 was approched in Sept 1962 at the same time AMCARBON-1 was given identity 4. Apparently AMCARBON-1 had gotten a significant promotion at the paper at that time and increasing confidence by Indentity-3 management. Someone with the crypt Reuteman made the introduction for AMCARBON-2 to JMWAVE, can't tell if he was a Harald employee or not., sounds like it though.

This document is probably our best insight to reveal the extent to which JMWAVE had working relationships with several personnel at the Harald and that Hendrix probably fits one of the CARBON crypts. Supposedly AMCARBON-1 originally

started to work for Identity 3 (the Harald?) in 1957 on the City Desk, then went on to Florida political stories.

You would probably be more interested in the fact that the memo gives a long list of sources for AMCARBON-1 and discusses how JMWAVE used him as a progaganda outlet e.g. "a propaganda outlet through which items of interest to KUBARK could be surfaced in the free world press"....the memo goes on to list specific incidents and their related stories.

There is also a variety of interesting dialog about the ground rules for using press assets and media tactics.

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A word about periodicals--have been reading some articles from late fifties early 60s in Havana press-Revolucion and Havana Post. Anybody know who owned the Post-English language paper? Many papers are available from university archives on microfilm. It is worth the time to read these accounts from Cuba. They're different from what we were getting here in this country regarding revolution and early counterrev. Much more detail is available on operations inside Cuba that US papers didn't publish.

The declass docs we get here allude to some of these articles in part but by reading the entire article from the Havana perspective fills in some gaps. One thing very clear is that the US was supportive of the revolution, 1959 was a hopeful time save for a few articles indicating the appropriations of US owned properties and arrests of counterrevolutionaries. How much of the counterrev was driven by reporters with an agenda? Who wrote the articles opposed to Castro early on? We know the names of journalists: St. George, Hendrix, Mallin, Phillips? working in Cuba but were these stories coming out of Cuba, put on the AP wire and filtered by US press? Thanks for doc. info, Larry. I'd like to see it. Do you order it over the web? I have made trips to archives to pick up copies in person but not familiar with ordering them. Cost and procedure for ordering this doc? Thanks.

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In August, 1975, Taylor Branch and George Criles III published an article in Harper's Magazine entitled "The Kennedy Vendetta". The article quoted a former JM/WAVE agent as saying:

"A paper like the Miami Herald would have one or two reporters with jurisdiction for Cuba, and we would give them access to the station. So we would feed them information and give them a career out of handouts. The guys learn not to hurt you. Only occasionally do you give them a big lie, and then only for a good reason. The paper was always willing to keep things quiet for us."

Were you aware that the CIA might have been using the Miami Herald during this period?

I did not join the Miami Herald Latin America staff until early 1964. As I say in the preface to my book, I met - at least knowingly - my first CIA agent sometime in mid-summer 1965. His name was John Dimmer [at least that is what he was introduced to me as] and he took over JMWave after Ted Shackley left [i never met Shackley until 1999, well after he retired from the Agency when I interviewed him a couple of times in Washington, D.C. for my book.]. I subsequently met Dimmer's successor, again as I say in the preface to my book, Paul Henzie and then Jake Esterline. I am well aware of the Taylor Branch/George Crile article, which is cited in my bibliography.

As for what they attribute to an anonymous CIA agent regarding The Miami Herald, that related to a period before I began covering Latin America. I do know, again as I say in the preface to my book, that in the 1960s and early 1970s, it was very common for journalists covering foreign affairs to have contact with CIA officials, just as it was for journalists to have contact with the political officers in American Embassies and desk officers at the state department.

That all changed in the early 1970s when the stories broke about CIA involvement with the international student movement, Watergate, Vietnam, etc. Journalists did not want to be associated with the CIA and the CIA did not want to be tangled up with journalists. My last known contact [to me at least] with an active CIA agent was sometime in the early 1970s.

I also know that the Miami Herald did have contact with Ted Shackley, before my time. David Corn, in his book the Blond Ghost, re Ted Shackley, quotes from a declassified document saying that my predecessor, Al Burt [who was shot accidentally by US Marines at a checkpoint in the 1965 Dominican intervention] signed by Shackley saying he had "recruited" Al Burt. I doubt that is true, but Burt did have contact with the JMWAVE Station and management at the Miami Herald was well aware of it, just as they were well of my contact with John Dimmer, Paul Henzie and Jake Esterline.

I am sure my name shows up in some declassified CIA documents as well but I have never bothered to put in a FOIA request since I do not consider anything I did as violating an journalist ethic.

It was then considered quite routine. The same was true - and particularly - for Tad Szulc, of the New York Times and was actively involved in a covert operation called Operation Amtrunk [also known as Operation Leonardo] designed to encourage Cuban military officers to defect or revolt. At the same time, [again as I note in my book] George Volsky, the NY Times stringer in Miami, was working not only for the NYTimes but also was employed by the US Information Agency in Miami [directed then by Paul Bethel] and was one of those involved in Amtrunk.

I am sure what Crile and Branch say about the Miami Herald could well apply at that time to any major US newspaper that covered foreign affairs.

I don't think the CIA was using the Miami Herald during that period any more than The Miami Herald was using the CIA.

Several authors, for example, Seth Kantor (Who Was Jack Ruby?), David Corn, (Blond Ghost), Gaeton Fonzi (The Last Investigation) and Warren Hickle/William Turner (Deadly Secrets) have put forward convincing evidence that Hal Hendrix was a CIA asset in the late 1950s and early 1960s. I believe you knew Hendrix. Did you have any idea he was a CIA agent?

Re Hendrix, I do know Hal, although as a foreign reporter I was at least a half generation behind him. We were friendly but now close. As you I don't if he was a CIA "asset," and in fact not quite sure what that means. I do know that he had close ties to the Agency and to Shackley.

I also think the quote in the Crile/Branch article from the anonymous CIA official was a bit overstated, at least from my experience in later years.

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It was then considered quite routine. The same was true - and particularly - for Tad Szulc, of the New York Times and was actively involved in a covert operation called Operation Amtrunk [also known as Operation Leonardo] designed to encourage Cuban military officers to defect or revolt. (Don Bohning)

Don,

Do you know if it is true (or not) that Ted Szulc was given the cryptonym AMCAPE-1?

James

Edited by James Richards

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Re Hendrix, I do know Hal, although as a foreign reporter I was at least a half generation behind him. We were friendly but now close. As you I don't if he was a CIA "asset," and in fact not quite sure what that means. I do know that he had close ties to the Agency and to Shackley.

 

I also think the quote in the Crile/Branch article from the anonymous CIA official was a bit overstated, at least from my experience in later years.

My understanding is that a journalist who is a “CIA asset” is someone who will in certain conditions publish information in articles that is in the interest of the CIA. Sometimes this information is true and sometimes it is untrue.

Hal Hendrix is a good example of a CIA asset. Information from the CIA enabled Hendrix to write in 1962 several articles on the presence of Soviet missiles in Cuba. According to William Pawley, Hendrix was fed information by Ted Shackley, the CIA chief in Miami (quoted by David Corn in his book, Blond Ghost: Ted Shackley and the CIA's Crusades).

As Hendrix found, it could be very helpful being a CIA asset. Hendrix won the Pulitzer Prize for Journalism in 1963 as a result of his CIA inspired Cuban reports. In September, 1963, Hendrix joined Scripps-Howard News Service as a Latin American specialist. Instead of moving to Washington he remained in Miami "where his contacts were". In an article on 24th September, 1963, Hendrix was able to describe and justify the coup that overthrew Juan Bosch, the president of Dominican Republic. The only problem was the coup took place on the 25th September. Once again, being a CIA asset helped him get a scoop. However, it also confirmed that he was relying on information from CIA. His attempts to justify the coup undermined his credibility as a independent journalist.

Hendrix’s involvement with the intelligence agencies was further highlighted when JFK was assassinated. A few hours after Kennedy had been killed, Hendrix provided background information to a colleague, Seth Kantor, about Lee Harvey Oswald. This included details of his defection to the Soviet Union and his work for the Fair Play for Cuba Committee. This surprised Kantor because he had this information before it was released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation later that evening.

Hendrix left the Scripps-Howard News Service in 1966 and went to work for the International Telephone & Telegraph Corporation, as director of inter-American relations in Buenos Aires. Officially, Hendrix worked in public relations but according to Thomas Powers, "he was something in the way of being a secret operative for the company".

Hendrix moved to Chile. It later emerged that Hendrix worked with the CIA in the overthrow of Salvador Allende. His CIA contact during the Chile operation was David Atlee Phillips.

On 20th March, 1973, Hendrix appeared before Frank Church and his Multinational Corporations Subcommittee. He denied that he ever been a paid agent of the CIA. However, an investigation by Justice Department lawyer Walter May discovered documents that showed that Hendrix had lied under oath.

Hendrix was allowed to plead guilty to lying under oath (which cost him a $100 fine and a one-month suspended sentence) in return for his cooperation with the Justice Department in its pursuit of perjury charges against higher-ranking ITT and CIA officials in the Chile matter.

As you have admitted, you have received information from the CIA. Did you assume this information was always accurate? Did you ever think you were being manipulated by the CIA?

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Re Hendrix, I do know Hal, although as a foreign reporter I was at least a half generation behind him. We were friendly but now close. As you I don't if he was a CIA "asset," and in fact not quite sure what that means. I do know that he had close ties to the Agency and to Shackley.

 

I also think the quote in the Crile/Branch article from the anonymous CIA official was a bit overstated, at least from my experience in later years.

My understanding is that a journalist who is a “CIA asset” is someone who will in certain conditions publish information in articles that is in the interest of the CIA. Sometimes this information is true and sometimes it is untrue.

Hal Hendrix is a good example of a CIA asset. Information from the CIA enabled Hendrix to write in 1962 several articles on the presence of Soviet missiles in Cuba. According to William Pawley, Hendrix was fed information by Ted Shackley, the CIA chief in Miami (quoted by David Corn in his book, Blond Ghost: Ted Shackley and the CIA's Crusades).

As Hendrix found, it could be very helpful being a CIA asset. Hendrix won the Pulitzer Prize for Journalism in 1963 as a result of his CIA inspired Cuban reports. In September, 1963, Hendrix joined Scripps-Howard News Service as a Latin American specialist. Instead of moving to Washington he remained in Miami "where his contacts were". In an article on 24th September, 1963, Hendrix was able to describe and justify the coup that overthrew Juan Bosch, the president of Dominican Republic. The only problem was the coup took place on the 25th September. Once again, being a CIA asset helped him get a scoop. However, it also confirmed that he was relying on information from CIA. His attempts to justify the coup undermined his credibility as a independent journalist.

Hendrix’s involvement with the intelligence agencies was further highlighted when JFK was assassinated. A few hours after Kennedy had been killed, Hendrix provided background information to a colleague, Seth Kantor, about Lee Harvey Oswald. This included details of his defection to the Soviet Union and his work for the Fair Play for Cuba Committee. This surprised Kantor because he had this information before it was released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation later that evening.

Hendrix left the Scripps-Howard News Service in 1966 and went to work for the International Telephone & Telegraph Corporation, as director of inter-American relations in Buenos Aires. Officially, Hendrix worked in public relations but according to Thomas Powers, "he was something in the way of being a secret operative for the company".

Hendrix moved to Chile. It later emerged that Hendrix worked with the CIA in the overthrow of Salvador Allende. His CIA contact during the Chile operation was David Atlee Phillips.

On 20th March, 1973, Hendrix appeared before Frank Church and his Multinational Corporations Subcommittee. He denied that he ever been a paid agent of the CIA. However, an investigation by Justice Department lawyer Walter May discovered documents that showed that Hendrix had lied under oath.

Hendrix was allowed to plead guilty to lying under oath (which cost him a $100 fine and a one-month suspended sentence) in return for his cooperation with the Justice Department in its pursuit of perjury charges against higher-ranking ITT and CIA officials in the Chile matter.

As you have admitted, you have received information from the CIA. Did you assume this information was always accurate? Did you ever think you were being manipulated by the CIA?

----------------------

Y'all:

Some of what was removed from my HSCA deposition was my reference to Hal Hendrix tieing up the telephones [with another CIA asset, Mary Louise Wilkenson] at the Miami News Editorial Room, where I rushed to see the late editor Bill Baggs immediately after the first news of the JFK murder. Baggs ordered them both OFF of the phones in order that I might call Logue and others -- to determine the facts-on-the-ground in Dallas that sad day.

Moreover, one of the reasons that Kantor's FOIA tlephone bill documents were redacted was: That while he had dialed Hendrix's home phone, it rang at Hal's Miami News desk. CIA had "Call Forwarding" [courtesy of ITT] long before us peons were given access to same, and they wanted to cover up said [CIA/TSD]technological advances. The same with regard to the ability to make calls to Cuba [as a "local call"] , rather than going through the Habana & ATT&T International Operators. We used this technique on many occasions as well, much to the chagrin of JM/WAVE, who really never had anybody to call in Cuba anyway !!

[that is, outside of 2 snitches they had in the Brazil & Argentine embassies]

During the 1970s, Aerocondor [Colombian airline] controlled the offices where these links were situated, and thus we were able to not only make "local calls" to Cuba, but to Colombia and all other Western Hemishphere locales.

[Aerocondor was then owned by our buddy "Georgie" Barco, who later was "elected??" to the presidency in Colombia]

Hendrix's "Pulitzer" should be rescinded, as his articles were jam-packed with JM/WAVE hand-outs, and was designed to cover CIA's ass-full of failures during the M/Crisis !!

Cheers mates,

GPH

--------------

"What, me worry !!" -- Alfred E. Neumann, 1953.

________________________

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I don't doubt that Ted Shackley fed information to Hendrix. I do know they were close. Regarding the definition of a CIA "asset," I just don't know. He did win a Pulitzer Prize in 1963 for the Miami News for his reporting on the missile crisis, as you state.

I have inquired of a lot of my friends who Hendrix got his information. I think some of it may well have come from the CIA, but a mutual friend who worked for the overt CIA office in Miami told me that he came to them and suggested they talk to a Cuban exile who had just arrived in Miami from Cuba with information about strange goings on in Cuba. The overt officer - which had responsibility for questioning incoming Cuban refugees - talked to the guy Hendrix had suggested and it helped lead to the over flight which identified the missiles.

Sometime in this period, The Miami News, which was owned by Cox Newspapers, sold its building and leased space and moved its operation into a new Miami Herald Building on Biscayne Bay, which means that Hendrix would have been working in The Herald Building, but not for the Herald. Hendrix subsequently went to work for Scripts Howard, as you note, and The Herald gave him a desk in the Herald newsroom in exchange for publication rights in Miami to his Scripps Howard material.

There is no question that he had great contacts with the CIA in those days, as did Jules Dubois, a correspondent for the Chicago Tribune, and Jerry O'Leary [and ex-marine or army colonel], a Washington Start [now defunct] correspondent.

I am not exactly sure about his role in the Dominican coup, but do recall that Juan Bosch, in one of his memoirs, basically blamed Hendrix for the coup.

I think I remember a picture of some sort when Hendrix comes in from behind a curtain in the National Palace as one of the military coup leaders tells Bosch he is out.

Regarding Hendrix, Chile & ITT, I am familiar with it mostly from news accounts but know he [and an ITT colleague named Bob Berrellez, a former AP Latin America correspondent who died several years ago] actively working with the CIA, something that has been well documented. I suspect Powers may be right in his assessment, especially when Hendrix was working with ITT. That is quite clear.

I do not know if he was working with Dave Phillips re the Allende coup. If memory serves correctly, Ted Shackley was head of the CIA's Western Hemisphere Division at the time of the 1973 coup. I do know that Hal was extremely bitter about his indictment, feeling that he was working to oust Allende in collaboration with the CIA in the best interests of the US government. Unfortunately, in his memoirs, Shackley barely mentions Chile, except to say he had nothing to do with Allende's death.

[You might be interested to know that The Herald within the past week carried a story from information contained in a new book by a British author - name I don't remember - citing newly available KGB documents, saying that the KGB funnelled some $400,000 plus to Allende].

Now, regarding AMCARBON, The Herald contact with CIA etc. From your description, I suspect that AMCARBON1 may have been Al Burt, my predecessor at The Herald. He did begin work about 1957 on the Herald city desk, then became Latin America editor in the early 1960s, when the Herald decided it needed to set up way to deal with all the crazy Cuban exiles coming in and talking to any reporter they could find, then such stories would get in the paper.

It was before my time, but I am told [and I give this to you as hearsay and appreciate it if you do not post it on the internet] that the way The Herald and the CIA contact is as follows:

Sometime after he had been named Latin America editor, Al Burt, my predecessor was having lunch with George Beebe, the Miami Herald's then managing editor - which was the top newsroom job at the time sometime in the early 1960s [it would had to have been in early 1962 after Shackley became chief of JMWave]. Also lunching in the same restaurant at the time were Bill Pawley and Shackley. Pawley and Beebe were good friends and Pawley came to Beebe and said he was having lunch with someone The Herald should be in touch with. The result was that Al Burt established a connection with Shackley.

In Shackley's book he brags that he has "recruited" Al Burt. I am inclined to doubt that and Burt denies it. I think there may be a matter of semantics involved, but I don't know. Shackley was known to embellish things to further his advancement. That is why I say there may be a matter of semantics involved.

I joined The Herald's Latin America staff in early 1964, when Al Burt was still The Herald's Latin America editor. He got shot accidentally and badly injured by the Marines during the April 1965 invasion of the Dominican Republic. He recovered somewhat but left The Herald sometime that year. He introduced me to Shackley's successor, John Dimmer in June - or possibly July - of 1965, the first CIA person I had contact with in my life. That is why I say it is important for me to know what the date of the AMCARBON document is.

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I joined The Herald's Latin America staff in early 1964, when Al Burt was still The Herald's Latin America editor. He got shot accidentally and badly injured by the Marines during the April 1965 invasion of the Dominican Republic. He recovered somewhat but left The Herald sometime that year.  He introduced me to Shackley's successor, John Dimmer in June - or possibly July - of 1965, the first CIA person I had contact with in my life. That is why I say it is important for me to know what the date of the AMCARBON document is.

The date on the Miami Harald document is 3/19/64

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At the risk of being repetitive this looks like it fits in this thread as well:

An interesting document which you might order a copy of RIF 104-10072-10289 from NARA. The title is rather uninteresting e.g. "Special Activities Report on a JMWAVE Relationship" however the content has to do with a several year relationship between JMWAVE and various personnel at the Miami Harald.

The document describes relationships with AMCARBON-1, AMCARBON-2 ...and apparent multiple identities of individuals (which totally confuses me). Apparently AMCARBON-2 was approched in Sept 1962 at the same time AMCARBON-1 was given identity 4. Apparently AMCARBON-1 had gotten a significant promotion at the paper at that time and increasing confidence by Indentity-3 management. Someone with the crypt Reuteman made the introduction for AMCARBON-2 to JMWAVE, can't tell if he was a Harald employee or not., sounds like it though.

This document is probably our best insight to reveal the extent to which JMWAVE had working relationships with several personnel at the Harald and that Hendrix probably fits one of the CARBON crypts. Supposedly AMCARBON-1 originally

started to work for Identity 3 (the Harald?) in 1957 on the City Desk, then went on to Florida political stories.

You would probably be more interested in the fact that the memo gives a long list of sources for AMCARBON-1 and discusses how JMWAVE used him as a progaganda outlet e.g. "a propaganda outlet through which items of interest to KUBARK could be surfaced in the free world press"....the memo goes on to list specific incidents and their related stories.

There is also a variety of interesting dialog about the ground rules for using press assets and media tactics.

1. I have obtained the document about the JMWave relationship with the Miami Herald and references to Amcarbon2, Amcarbon1, etc., etc.

As you noted, it is very confusing but it seems quite clear to me that AMCARBON2 was probably Al Burt, my predecessor as Latin America editor at the Miami Herald. I have no idea who might have bee AMCARBON1 or Identity, 2, etc. even what they refer to.

2. I also have obtained documents that clearly state that I was AMCARBON3, something I was not previously aware of.

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Article from Miami Herald on April 20, 2008 quotes Mr. Bohning regarding newspaper cooperation.

http://www.miamiherald.com/home/v-print/story/499585.html

Posted on Sun, Apr. 20, 2008

For sale: House of spies

BY JENNY STALETOVICH

The house at 6312 Riviera Dr. in Coral Gables is grand by almost any measure. It has a 33-foot long living room with dragons carved into its marble fireplace, vases that once belonged to Umberto I, King of Italy, a dance patio, mini-Olympic pool, an elevator, a tidewater pond, more than a dozen bathrooms, two roomy boathouses and a pedigreed architect. Batista once considered buying it and Billy Graham left behind a signed Bible.

In recent years, passing motorists have pulled through its noble wrought-iron gates, mistaking it for a country club.

Given its extreme curb appeal, it seems incredible that the CIA used the house for secret operations at the height of its covert war against Fidel Castro in the 1960s. Then again, this is Miami -- no stranger to the high jinks of history.

CIA operatives would stride across the lush lawn in broad daylight, past the pink cupola and into the boathouse where they would board a souped-up boat, part of an armada that then amounted to the Caribbean's third largest naval fleet. Once armed, and sometimes hooded, they would motor down the Coral Gables Waterway to launch one of hundreds of missions carried out against Cuba's Communist government.

Now, after almost 50 years in the same family, the house is being sold. Asking price? A cool $22 million, which includes an island, also a former CIA outpost.

''We used to feel very uncomfortable because of the appearance of ourselves with the house,'' said Rolando Martinez, 85, a spy who used the house but is more famously known as one of the five Watergate burglars. ``When we returned from some operations, I remember we were walking from the house and neighbors walking dogs would call us insurrectos.''

For Wirt Maxey, then a preoccupied kid of 14 or 15, the house was home. If his father was having company in the boat house, he had no idea it was the Company.

''I remember people coming and going at rather odd hours and I was basically told that these people were renting the boathouse and had a right to come and go and leave them alone,'' he said.

In his quasi-factual novel Harlot's Ghost, Norman Mailer called the mansion ``a nice, cool, handsome house when all is said.''

For most of the last half century, Maxey's father, Tom, an attorney, maintained the house meticulously, keeping it much the same as when Martinez and the spooks who directed him hatched their missions. The boathouse locker room, where the men showered after missions, remains a cradle of polished yellow tile, a sign with carved iron sea horses distinguishing the men's from the women's locker room.

DECISION TO SELL

After Tom Maxey died nearly two years ago, Wirt, who had moved back in with his family to care for his ailing father, and his two younger sisters decided to sell the house, along with the island, a 45-wminute boat ride away, which the CIA also leased.

Situated in the middle of a chain known as the Ragged Keys, it is officially Ragged Key #3, although Ragged Key #2 is just an outcropping of coral rock. Ragged Key #3, the one with the CIA past, is the only Ragged Key that's inhabited. It includes a two-story home, caretaker's cottage, mini-power plant, pool and dock house and resident dogs who for years have noisily announced the presence of any nearby boaters. The stark white buildings, visible to anyone who has ever tried to navigate the channels and flats of Biscayne Bay, reflect the sun like beacons. Except for the lighthouse on nearby Boca Chita, the island's towering flag pole is the tallest thing in sight.

In 1960, when Tom Maxey acquired the house from Edward Christiansen in exchange for legal work, he also got the island. He later told his son the CIA used it to monitor Castro.

Originally, the island had a small house. Christiansen built a more modern house with an upstairs that served as a bunk room, said his daughter, Karen Davis, who now lives in Miami Shores.

''He put the pool in, too, and my brother says he had to get an act of Congress to dredge so we could get our boat into the island,'' she said.

Wirt Maxey only learned of the CIA deals years later. He can't remember now how it came up, but one day his father told him that the men he'd seen coming and going from the boat house had indeed been running covert operations to Cuba. And the television company that leased the island was a CIA cover.

''It was pretty cool to me,'' he said. ``I remember a boat. Not a fancy boat at all, but kind of a crappy looking boat from the outside. I learned later on from my father that that crappy-looking boat would go 70 mph.''

Other than the crappy boat and men traipsing across the lawn at strange hours, Maxey doesn't remember much. The rest of the tale falls to the countless books and articles inspired by the era. And of course the spy, Martinez, now retired on Miami Beach and spending his time caring for his wife, 82, who suffers from Alzheimer's.

Martinez said he came to Florida in 1941 and enrolled at Florida Southern College in Lakeland. At the time, Miami ''was nothing. Later on, I came back. I came in the '50s,'' he said.

Officially, he was recruited by the CIA in 1960. All these years later, he remains vague about details, sometimes recounting only what has been officially declassified. He says Watergate -- for which he received a presidential pardon and praise for a distinguished record -- left him wary. Later, he was prosecuted for lying about his involvement with the CIA, even though the agency had sworn him to secrecy.

Altogether, Martinez says he ran 354 operations from the house and other bases throughout South Florida.

In a 1975 article for Harper's magazine, he described one tense episode to historians Taylor Branch and George Crile III:

``Once a Castro gunboat came after my boat on a mission on the north coast of Cuba and I radioed for help. Before we could even decode the return message, there were two Phantom jets and a Neptune flying over us. It's a trademark of the American forces in general. You have seen how in Vietnam if a helicopter goes down, ten other helicopters will fly in to get the pilot out. That was the same spirit that prevailed in our operations.''

SPIES EVERYWHERE

At the time, the CIA was everywhere in Miami: recruiting spies at the Sears on Douglas Road and Coral Way and tossing back drinks at 27 Birds, their name for the Big Daddy's at Southwest 27th Avenue and Bird Road, reports a 2004 study commissioned by the National Park Service.

''Only in a city like Miami could the clandestine empire of (the CIA operations) escape public attention. In the early years of the secret war, Miami already resembled wartime Casablanca,'' Branch and Crile wrote in the Harper's story, which included a photo of the Riviera Drive house.

A year after Castro's takeover in 1959, CIA director Allen Dulles had already introduced a plan to President Dwight Eisenhower to overthrow Castro, the Park Service study reported. Eisenhower, in turn, authorized $13 million -- which eventually rose to $50 million a year -- to train and recruit an army of about 1,500 exiles.

The study included a list of locations inside and out of National Park boundaries that serves as a kind of tour map. The boathouse, the report says, ``offered a location where infiltration vessels could be hidden from plain view, thus shielding their extensive modifications and true nature from prying eyes.''

Eventually, the CIA's station in Miami, housed on the south campus of the University of Miami (and now Miami MetroZoo), grew to be the largest outside its headquarters in Langley, Va., Don Bohning wrote in his book, The Castro Obsession. About 400 agents oversaw ''thousands of Cuban exiles added to the payroll for everything from propaganda to sabotage,'' and created between 300 and 400 front companies to cover its tracks.

With so many exiles and the Communist threat fueling patriotism, recruiting was not difficult, even among private citizens like Tom Maxey, who ran his own law practice along with a real estate investment firm.

''They would openly go up to someone, like at The Herald, (managing editor) George Beebe, and say we need your help. That was not uncommon. I'm sure there were dozens of legitimate companies in Miami that were cooperating. Here you have a major academic institution (UM) cooperating with them, so you can imagine,'' said Bohning, a former Herald reporter and editor. ``The atmosphere was completely different.''

And most would readily agree to help.

''So long as Cuba was a target for intelligence gathering, Miami was the natural starting point for those operations,'' said historian Timothy Naftali, author of One Hell of a Gamble and curator of the Nixon Library. ``Miami has played a key role in the secret history of the United States. In Cold War Miami, the CIA would not have had a hard time recruiting.''

Wirt Maxey does not know how the CIA contacted his father. However, his uncle, Jackson Maxey, worked for the agency in Washington, he said. Years later, Maxey's father told Wirt he informed his brother, Jackson, that he'd been leasing the house and island to Jackson's employer. And his brother never knew.

That doesn't surprise Martinez.

''There is something they call compartmentation and they have a good cover,'' he said. ``I'm sure the people who bought the house at the time were well-connected with the government because they had to have national security clearance.''

Back to the house. Built in 1937, it was designed by the architectural firm of Paist and Steward, whose founding partner, Phineas Paist, was supervising architect for Coral Gables at its incorporation in 1925. Initially hired by George Merrick as a colorist, Paist gained fame for his monumental buildings, said historian Arva Moore Parks. His work includes the Colonnade Building, Coral Gables City Hall, the city's old police and fire station and its original Arts Center, now the sales office for the upscale Old Spanish Village project.

The house was built for Roy Page, said Gables' Preservation Officer Kara Noelle Kautz. In 1945, owner Larry Hughy was given permission to add the dock, records show, and in 1952, Christiansen added the side wings that include, among other things, the guest house, game room and servant quarters. A year later, he added the pool and boathouses.

In the 1950s, Fulgencio Batista, who had a home in Daytona Beach, visited when he was considering buying it as a retreat, said Davis, Christiansen's daughter.

Having a house from the era largely intact and in such good shape is rare, Parks said. ``It's a gift.''

Despite its grand scale, Martinez said it worked remarkably well for the spies.

''You could go through the channel to the open seas and return and keep it very silent. No one would suspect that house was used in the operations against the Communist regime of Cuba,'' he said. ``It was a very good house. It was beautiful. And we behaved very according to the house.''

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

© 2008 Miami Herald Media Company. All Rights Reserved.

http://www.miamiherald.com

Edited by Steve Rosen

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I thought that considering Don Bohning's attack it might be worth taking a look at this thread where he admits to being AMCARBON-3.

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Rather than attack him for being a CIA asset, probably considered an honorable side job at the time, I'd rather engage in a dialog with Mr. Bohning, whose book The Castro Obsession is an important reference in understanding the Cuban connections to the assassination of President Kennedy.

Bohning could give deep background on many players, especially Cubans. Rather than argue with him, I'd rather sit down with a bottle of rum, Cuban cigars and talk about the hey days. who was who and who was working for who, or thought they were.

I think Simkin should politely ask Bohning to return here, like the authors of other books have, and answer some of our more reasonable questions.

For instance, at the Mary Ferrell archives, Bohning added his comments for the record, making note of the fact that there were two Jim Buchanans and the one that worked at the Miami Herald was not the misadventurer, but another Jim Buchanan.

The bane of every researcher is to have two subjects with the same name, as we have already seen with Richard Sprague, Don Norton, John Martin, Betty McDonald, Luis Castillo and

Rachel Oswald.

And my comment is: I remember an article in an obscure news magazine in the 70s, called Fidel on the Grassy Knoll, co-written by two respected, independent journalists, which detailed some of the orchestrated efforts to blame the assassination of Castro, and prominently mentions the brothers Buchanan.

http://www.maryferrell.org/mffweb/archive/...?commentId=1755

Comment

jim buchanan

by don bohning on Sun, Mar 29, 2009, 5:02 PM EDT (#1755)

Comment on Mary's Database Record: BUCHANAN, JAMES

this file is incorrect regarding the buchanan brothers. Neither Jerry nor James "Jim" Buchanan worked for the Miami Herald as this file says.

There was a Jim Buchanan - and my good friend who I worked with in South Dakota and later got me the job at the Miami Herald - but he was not Jerry's brother. That was another Jim Buchanan, who played off the reputation of the real Jim Buchanan.

The Herald's Buchanan was a good solid reporter who was jailed in Cuba for two weeks at Christmas time. He also covered the Garrison investigation in to the JFK murder and thought Garrison was nuts. The two Buchanan Brothers were part of the crowd of mercenaries and would-be mercenies who flocked to south florida in the early 1960s. Both were "pseudo journalists" who worked at both the ft. lauderdale news [as it was known in those days] and hollywood sun-tattler.

It caused all sorts of trouble for my friend, the real Jim Buchanan, because the other Jim Buchanan was going about the area claiming he worked for the Miami Herald and cashing checks that would bounce.

don bohning

Edited by William Kelly

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WOW! Fascinating thread I'd not read when it was active. So, he admits to being AMCARBON-3 and even seems to know who was AMCARBON-1. He seems to downplay his and other's contracts with the Agency as rather harmless journalistic 'opportunities' to get a story one would otherwise not get. That is how the Agency played it - inside scoop and close to power. But there was more, as John mentioned and has been demonstrated time and again - telling a story fed to them and either explictly not checking the facts or knowing they were wrong [often the opposite of the truth], planting the story anyway as part of a covert op or psyop. That is not journalism - that is being a willing asset and accomplice to the intelligence agency in their deeds. Would be nice idea Bill, but I think Mr. Bohning will not likely grace this Forum again for a host of reasons......

And apparently, and we can assume is the case for everybody with such a cryptoname, Bohning didn't know he was AMCARBON-3 until he saw the documents himself.

Of course, Hal Hendrix, aka the "Spook," was the archtypical faux journalist spy of that melue.

Also, as I mention in the Venezuelan Arms Cache thread, the CIA pulled out all the stops to make the Venezuelan Arms Cache a story and in the media, pushing it and trying to play it up big time, as Joe Smith details in his book Portrait of a Cold Warrior.

One CIA report says that the news media were picking up the story, and gave examples, including the Miami Herald, which is identified as being a "non-WAVE asset," publishing an editorial.

I'd like to get a copy of this Miami Hearld editorial on the Venezuelan Arms Cache, published on December 5, 1964, if anybody has access to their back issues.

BK

Edited by William Kelly

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