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John Simkin

CIA Disinformation

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The Question I would like to ask the panel is:

1. Is it possible that the CIA have deliberately circulated conspiracy theories in order to muddy the waters surrounding the death of JFK?

The CIA were involved in the cover-up of the Kennedy assassination. Some investigators have claimed that the CIA was only trying to cover-up its own incompetence and was not involved in any conspiracy to assassinate JFK. The CIA obviously did what it could to disguise the fact they were working with the Mafia in a plot to kill Fidel Castro (Executive Action).

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/JFKexecutiveA.htm

If the CIA was involved in the assassination they would of course have used their power to spread stories that distanced themselves from the crime. For example, spreading stories that the assassination had been organized on behalf of the Texas oil industry.

The CIA agent most often mentioned as a likely candidate to be involved in the assassination of JFK is David Atlee Phillips.

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/JFKphillips.htm

Phillips joined the Central Intelligence Agency in 1950. Over the next few years Phillips was involved in clandestine operations in Guatemala and helped to overthrow the government of Jacono Arbenz Guzman in 1954. He also worked undercover in Cuba. He returned to the United States in 1960 and was involved in the organization of the Bay of Pigs operation. During this period he worked with E.Howard Hunt in the attempts to have Fidel Castro murdered.

Phillips denied being involved but did tell Kevin Walsh, a former investigator with the Select House Assassinations Committee: "My private opinion is that JFK was done in by a conspiracy, likely including rogue American intelligence people."

David Atlee Phillips died of cancer on 7th July, 1988. He left behind an unpublished manuscript. The novel is about a CIA officer who lived in Mexico City. In the novel the character states: "I was one of those officers who handled Lee Harvey Oswald... We gave him the mission of killing Fidel Castro in Cuba... I don't know why he killed Kennedy. But I do know he used precisely the plan we had devised against Castro. Thus the CIA did not anticipate the president's assassination, but it was responsible for it. I share that guilt."

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The Question I would like to ask the panel is:

1. Is it possible that the CIA have deliberately circulated conspiracy theories in order to muddy the waters surrounding the death of JFK?

Several CIA agents appear to have been involved in providing information that suggested that Oswald was part of a KGB/Castro plot to kill JFK.

The most important figure in this was John Martino? He was an electronics expert employed by Santos Trafficante. He also worked as a CIA agent and took part in its Black Operations. This involved a policy that was later to become known as Executive Action (a plan to remove unfriendly foreign leaders from power). Martino played a role in the a coup d'état that overthrew the Guatemalan government of Jacobo Arbenz in 1954 after he introduced land reforms and nationalized the United Fruit Company.

In the 1950s Martino was sent to Cuba to work for Havana casino owned by Santos Trafficante. In 1959 Martino was arrested by the new revolutionary government and was imprisoned for three years. On his release he published a book called “I Was Castro's Prisoner”.

Martino returned to the United States where he worked for Johnny Roselli and became a close associate of former United States Ambassador, William Pawley. He later claimed that during this period he became aware of various plots against Fidel Castro and his communist government in Cuba. In an article published in January, 1964, Martino argued that in 1963 Castro discovered an American plot to overthrow his government. He retaliated by employing Lee Harvey Oswald to kill President John F. Kennedy.

Shortly before his death in 1975 Martino confessed to a Newsday reporter, John Cummings, that he had been guilty of spreading false stories implicating Oswald in the assassination. Cummings added: "He told me he'd been part of the assassination of Kennedy. He wasn't in Dallas pulling a trigger, but he was involved. He implied that his role was delivering money, facilitating things.... He asked me not to write it while he was alive."

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/JFKmartino.htm

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John, I think you may have some incorrect information about Martino, or at least information that requires qualification. Unfortunately there is a good deal of that in certain books, especially those written before access to some of the internal CIA documents we now have available.

Martino was a "technician" who worked on everything from gambling "wires" to games to "bugs". He did live in Miami which placed him nominally under the Trafficante organization and he did work in Havana for at time. However he also ran his own independent scams while in Miami, most having to do with gambling wires and bookmaking. Martino was not a "CIA" covert operative or asset in the accepted sense and certainly did not work in the Guatamala opertion in the 50's although he did business there and elsewhere in Latin America after the assassination. It's a good bet that some of his Latin American introductions and business can be directly traced to David Morales whom he may have met in Havana and whom he most certainly knew in Miami circa 1963.

Martino's sole CIA association was in regard to the Bay/Pawley/Rec Cross project which JM WAVE and Shackley supported but which was initiated by Pawley not by the CIA. The concept was brought to Pawley via Martino and certain of Martino's press contacts in Miami after his release from prison. We have a record of Shackley and Pawley discussing having Martino participate but Shackley speakingly negatively of him because of his crime network association. Martino certainly did have CIA connections in 1963, primarily Morales and Rip Robertson. However he did not work for Roselli and in fact (contrary to Hinckle and Turner) there is a rather small window in which they might have associated in Miami (based on what we have of Roselli's FBI surveillance records). That window would have been in the August -September time frame.

Martino very likely was a disinformation source for the conspiracy after the assassination but that does not mean he was acting for the CIA. On the other

hand we know from David Phillips book that he spread a great deal of information, especially about Oswald in Mexico City. However there is still a question of how much of that was CIA party line and how much might have involved Phillips own agenda or CYA. It's very clear that both CIA and FBI knew much more about Oswald's activities and contacts in Mexico City than they ever wanted to become public knowledge. Especially in 1963 while the Warren Commission was seated.

-- Larry

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Good stuff, Larry.

John Martino also had very close associations with two of the Watergate burglars, Eugenio Martinez and Virgilio Gonzalez - both men participating in the Bayo/Pawley mission.

FWIW.

James

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Thank you for correcting me on these points. Could you recommend a good book that covers what is known about Executive Action?

Is the full confession made by Martino available on the web?

In 1994 Daniel Alcorn, a member of the Board of the Assassination Archive and Research Center, said:

“The interest that we had in this particular item is that Mr. Martino, in 1975, shortly before he died, told a close associate of his that there had, in fact, been plot against JFK. That it originated from anti-Castro Cuban exiles, that Oswald had been involved in such a plot, but that he did not know who he was working for, did not know or understand the nature of the activity, and that the murder plot that he described was the one that was in retaliation for what was seen as JFK's softness in relation to activities to dislodge Fidel Castro and replace his government in Cuba.”

The statement suggests there is some doubt about what Martino knew about the assassination of JFK.

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John, as to a good book on Executive Action, actually I would recommend first hand historical material including the Church committee report which is now available on the WEB at and on CD. There are also a great number of internal memos on ZR Rifle available from the CIA's segretated files that are available on CD. I'm not sure I know of a current book which has really gone to these historical resources and put it all together but I'll check into it. Oh, State Department documents are also available on the internet also give a great deal of detail about the ZR Rifle project and Meheu's testimony is available as is Roselli's.

I don't know that Martino's remarks are on the WEB anywhere. The HSCA reports might be - certainly they are available on my book CD. Further corroboration has been done by interviews with his family members by Summers (that's is in his latest book edition and in his Vanity Fair article), by Bill Kelly (unpublished, notes currently missing...sigh) and by myself. I'm currently working at making a CD available which is a copy of a book related record that Martino himself made back in 1963, a fascinating original historical source but mostly an elaboration in his own words of what was in his book.

The reference you give in your email is most likely in regard to the fact that the HSCA did a fairly minimal job in investigating Martino - although in their defense they simply did not have the leads that we do now. Gaeton Fonzi has read the additional material now available and in my book and is really disappointed that they didn't have the data we have now back during the investigation - the Martino/Morales connection alone would have driven his investigation in a major way. So you have a quote from someone in 1994 looking back at HSCA data which is indeed only suggestive; without additional investigation he is absolutely correct - but of course the ARRB was not an investigative body. If they had gone to talk with the surviving family members he would perhaps feel differently but again the ARRB largely restricted themselves to document hunting or primary evidence investigation such as Horne drove in the medical arena.

-- Larry

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The Question I would like to ask the panel is:

1. Is it possible that the CIA have deliberately circulated conspiracy theories in order to muddy the waters surrounding the death of JFK?

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The Question I would like to ask the panel is:

1. Is it possible that the CIA have deliberately circulated conspiracy theories in order to muddy the waters surrounding the death of JFK?

It's possible. They put out (as John writes) "...information that suggested that Oswald was part of a KGB/Castro plot to kill JFK."

Consequently a great deal of effort goes into disproving this. See the subsequent posts, books, films, careers up till today.

By promoting a notion that is readily demonstrably false, those who do that investigation will come across documentation that tells another story. This is the 'blind'. It appears to show that the CIA (are so dumb that they) think they can fool people. Or obversely, we have in the process found this documentation 'proves' the opposite. Nothing conclusive of course as that doesn't seem to exist, but sufficiently tempting to engage a significant number of researchers. (Throw in the usual expectations of royalties and you have a self perpetuating 'beast'.) This is the function of the room of mirrors or Angletons Orchids. It deceives and exhausts the searcher.

The CIA are NOT stupid. They have a job to do and they do it. With sufficient aplomb to drive tha agenda one way or the other. It's the room beyond the room of mirrors and smoke that's of interest.

Edited by John Dolva

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