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John Simkin

Larry Hancock: Someone Would Have Talked

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John, Billings is interesting indeed although it's somewhat difficult to separate his personal activities from what agenda or portfolio he may have been carrying from Life magazine at any point in time. Certainly he was a major Life resource with the work he did in the Miami area in regard to Cuban affairs and his point role in coverage of the Bayo mission is further proof of that. The detail you posted on his contact with the Garrison team is new to me although through the work of Wallace Millam we do now know that there was a very serious "re-investigation" of possible conspiracy which had started either before or in conjunction with Garrison's investigation - we also know that one of the lead players was a personal friend of Shaw and apparently turned over much of the Life magazine research to him. We don't know why the Life project apparently aborted and why it's data was never used by Life. To some extent Billings remark to Garrison about Life's new interest in conspiracy may well be true, the net result though was any information turned up by Life more likely went to Shaw than Garrison.

It's speculation of course but Bethel's remarks about Billings feelings might possibly reflect that Billings had indeed been persuaded by the stories that Oswald was under Cuban/Castro influence hence the whole story had not been revealed?

It is certainly true that Life turned against Garrison and Billing may have been sincere or have been fed the party line that Garrison was not trustworthy and his motives were questionable. How much of that is Billings vs. Life magazine home office executives having been lobied by CIA is a good question - certainly we do now have extensive documentation on the efforts of the CIA Garrison task group and the assistance given to Shaw's defense team by the Justice Department.

It's certainly hard to belive that Billings did not hear the Castro/Oswald/Ruby rumors and stories out of Miami but he certainly does not seem to have ever repeated any of that to investigators. Perhaps more importantly during the Watergate affair he nor Life ever introduced any of the Bayo background material in which at least one Watergate member (Martinez) was a key player. Life had lots of photos showing Martinez on that mission and none of it was ever used in developing the Miami and Cuban exile associations of Watergate.

As to the Blakey - Billings Mob slant for Blakey's book, I'm not sure we will ever really know the purpose behind that but poor Blakey (a proven friend of the CIA) and career beauracrat was left holding the bag of an HSCA report which determined that Lee Oswald did not act alone - possibly the simplest thing to do at that time was to throw suspicion on an easy target like Marcello. However it is interesting to the extent that although Blakey prefers to focus on Marcello and New Orleans, he had totally failed to have his investigators puresue a first party convession to a conspiracy participation by Marcello which had given in two sets of testimony by Thomas Beckham. There is very good reason to discount Beckham at this date in time but I'm told by HSCA investigators that at the time there was strong support for Beckham and Blakey chose to ignore his story - strange behavior for Blakey who slanted his book in that direction.

-- Larry

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Larry, John and all

I must wedge myself in the debate on Life

John Shaw Billings (1891–1975), the first managing editor of Life magazine. ... Richard Billings logically must have come up through the ranks of his father and Luce and cronies like Pawley, Chennault and YalieSkullies establishment elite. Junior did for Life what they taught him, I think.

Andrew St. George, photographer/writer told me once: “Life Magazine told us what to believe.” That stuck with me. St. George did a final article on my father Paul Hughes see my link. This was only one story of many on topic Cuba. And LIFE was there. http://members.cox.net/chc5000/

IMHO, Life Magazine truly was the omnipresent master of propaganda. Can’t blame them-- they found a need and filled it.

There are other stories folks have about the enterprise. Some not too public, but History Channel or Discovery just did a special on Luce last week. FWIW Billings’s family library collection is here: http://www.sc.edu/library/develop/billings.html

Life sponsored paramilitary raids and photographed them. Flying Tiger and Gringo Cuba businessman, Pawley, was involved with guys like Rip and Gray Lynch. Clare had “her Cubans.” They were deep in and not just for the pictures.

When they scooped the Z film and held it from public view, that was bad but to insinuate yourself into investigations when you come from the very enterprise that should be investigated, well that’s something else.

Frontline site has some good stuff about Blakey’s realizations. But don’t get me started on Life...ha!

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John,  Billings is interesting indeed although it's somewhat difficult to separate his personal activities from what agenda or portfolio he may have been carrying from Life magazine at any point in time.  Certainly he was a major Life resource with the work he did in the Miami area in regard to Cuban affairs and his point role in coverage of the Bayo mission is further proof of that.  The detail you posted on his contact with the Garrison team is new to me although through the work of Wallace Millam we do now know that there was a very serious "re-investigation" of possible conspiracy which had started either before or in conjunction with Garrison's investigation - we also know that one of the lead players was a personal friend of Shaw and apparently turned over much of the Life magazine research to him.  We don't know why the Life project apparently aborted and why it's data was never used by Life.  To some extent Billings remark to Garrison about Life's new interest in conspiracy may well be true,  the net result though was any information turned up by Life more likely went to Shaw than Garrison.

It seems that you are willing to give Billings the benefit of the doubt. However, I don’t think he deserves it. It is agreed that Billings was working closely with the CIA during Operation Tilt. He was also clearly acting on behalf of the CIA during the negotiations concerning the Zapruder Film and the Marina Oswald story. Who was he representing during the Garrison investigation, the House Select Committee on Assassinations meetings and the writing of the book, The Plot to Kill the President (1981)?

To my mind it is fairly clear that it was the CIA who encouraged Billings to get involved in the Garrison investigation. There were two reasons for this: (1) It gave them inside information on what Garrison was finding out about the case; (2) It gave them the opportunity to subvert the investigation. This he did by turning Tom Bethal. In his diary (14th March, 1968) Bethal writes: “He (Billings) does not believe that there was a conspiracy on the part of the government, the Warren Commission or the FBI to conceal the truth, but that a probability exists that they simply did not uncover the whole truth.”. This is clearly the new position of the CIA. The idea that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone can no longer be supported by the evidence available. If the people realise that there has been a conspiracy, then they cannot be allowed to know the real conspiracy. Therefore, plans are being developed to point the finger at organized crime (note the way Jack Anderson chances his stance during this period from KGB/Cuban plot to Mafia plot).

However, Billings does such a good job with undermining Garrison investigation the CIA are able to draw back from linking the assassination of JFK with organized crime.

The situation again become dangerous during the Frank Church investigations in 1975. The CIA’s role in attempting to overthrow Castro is exposed. Church also discovers that the CIA was working with organized crime in its anti-Castro activities. With the setting-up of the House Select Committee on Assassinations the CIA looked to be in trouble. Especially when Richard Sprague is appointed as chief counsel. However, Sprague is mysteriously dropped (claimed that he clashed with the chairman of the committee) and replaced with G. Robert Blakey. Soon afterwards Blakey brings in Dick Billings to help him with the task ahead. This is the same Dick Billings who up to now has been working for the CIA. Is that the reason Blakey brings him in to do the job? Or has Billings convinced him that he is now an objective investigator?

In the early stages of the HSCA investigation Blakey holds onto the idea of the lone gunman theory. However, this all changes when it is revealed that the Dallas Police had a recording of the assassination. The acoustic experts analysed the recording and were able to distinguish four rifle shots. They concluded that there was a 95 per cent probability of the third bullet was fired from the Grassy Knoll. Blakey can no longer be seen to support the conclusions of the Warren Commission. He is therefore forced to report that there were "four shots, over a total period of 7.91 seconds were fired at the Presidential limousine. The first, second and fourth came from the Depository; the third from the Grassy Knoll."

Blakey and Billings now adopt CIA Plan B. That Oswald was the killer but he was part of a conspiracy organized by the Mafia. This view is reinforced in Blakey and Billings book, The Plot to Kill the President (1981).

Some may argue that Blakey and Billings made an honest mistake by believing this theory. That their theory was based on the evidence available to them. However, we now know this was not true. Blakey had by this time seen the Edwin Juan Lopez report of Oswald’s purported stay in Mexico in September/October 1963. Lopez admitted under oath that it was his opinion that Oswald was impersonated in Mexico in an attempt to frame him for the assassination. Yet Blakey suppresses this evidence and continues to insist that Oswald took part in the assassination.

I believe that whereas in 1963 Billings played a major role in trying to convince the American public that JFK was killed by a lone gunman. From 1976 his role was to put forward the theory that JFK was killed by the Mafia.

Carl Oglesby wrote an interesting article about Blakey in 1988 called “Is the Mafia Theory a Valid Alternative?" This included the following passage:

As a Washington co-director of the Assassination Information Bureau, which was created early in the 1970s to build a movement for a new J.F.K. investigation, I watched Blakey from a short distance and sometimes close up over a period of about a year and a half as he prepared and presented his theory of the assassination for the committee's review and approval. At first I supported his Mafia theory for basically strategic reasons. It was at least a conspiracy theory that was not rightwing, it could command an official consensus, and it thus appeared strong enough to get the case properly reopened and activated by the Justice Department. Blakey believed the committee's then-fresh leads pointed to the Mafia. Many of us who were watching thought he was mistaken, and that the leads would punch right through the Mafia cover and track straight back to several departments of official U.S. intelligence. That was the gamble and the deal: Let the

government start pulling the Mafia string, we thought, and we will see what else it brings with it.

Then came the Reagan era and the total freeze-out from government sympathy of any project in the least memorializing of the Kennedys. Blakey did not take the offensive when the F.B.I, rudely closed the Justice Department's door in his face, basically telling him and the committee, "We don't buy it, so you're out of luck."

Why did Blakey choose not to fight harder and more publicly about it? Why did he seem to retire from the fray?

But then: Why did he try to crucify Garrison? Why did he not credit Garrison for the contribution Garrison has made to the development of this case, though working with a fraction of Blakey’s resources and under the intense pressure of an active covert opposition?

Why did Blakey ignore the evidence turned up by his own investigators that the Cuban exile community was equally well positioned to kill a President as was the Mafia? Why did he ignore the fact that this Cuban exile community was the creature of the C.I.A.'s operations directorate?

Carl Oglesby then goes on to answer these questions. He believes that Blakey was under the control of the CIA. (Blakey/Billings actually admit that their book, A Plot to Kill the President, was cleared by the CIA and FBI before publication).

Is it possible that some researchers rightly saw through CIA Plan A but have succumbed to CIA Plan B.

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http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2003/12/...s/index_np.html

Blakey seems to be re-thinking his investigation, so he picks up some points IMO.

This forum has the story on Joannides, I see.

A FOIA is now in progress to obtain the files of George Joannides, CIA infiltrator to HSCA under Blakey. Jeff Morley is working on this angle. Something was definately wrong with the HSCA. It was messed with, from the beginning.

As a child I knew we were at war in Cuba, how did a Chief Counsel not? Letters from families involved were trickling in to Washington. Disappearances, FBI and CIA visits. The Bay of Pigs was still unresolved history and the report on it and other Cuba operations were hidden. The Cuba/CIA record was there and ignored.

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John, I would probably give Billings more benefit of the doubt in some areas than others and would give Blakey none (sorry Chris, at least not until he steps up and admits he might have been a tool, at least Anderson had the guts to acknowledge that).

My logic would be that as far as I can tell in regard to "Tilt" Billings was just pursuing his orders to look for exiles doing missions, help them if it didn't cost too much and then do photo journalism. Even Pawley did not know Life was involved until the last minute and that Bayo had taken money and equipment from them. Now if someone turns up a personnel file on Billings I'll be happy to eat my words on all the above, I just don't seen the evidence to support Billings being a CIA asset in Miami - nor any contact reports for him as we see for Sturgis. It's also important to remember that Luce had basically declared war on the Kennedy administration and was using his entire publishing empire to push for an overthrow of Castro by the U.S. (sort of a Hurst sequal).

Was Billings acting for the CIA in Dallas....or with Garrison. Or was he just doing his media job? Certainly what he was telling Garrison would be consistent with what we know of him and with the investigation Life was doing at the time. For anything more I'd need some data. On the other hand it is clear that Billings elected not to provide input on a possible exile connection to the WC, the HSCA or even on Watergate. And he had to have heard the threats against Kennedy that were the street gossip in Miami and he certainly knew how key a player that Martinez was in JM WAVE infiltrations despite Helms statements. At a minimum Billings didn't help the cause, whether he activiely undermined any investigations is an open question to me.

The one extremely suggestive point that he may have been more sinister is his hiring by Blakey...if we knew the how and why of that it might resolve he whole question. Certainly there is no doubt that Blakey was manipulated by CIA if not worse....and certainly he cannot have been naive enough to think a CIA guy was breaking into their safe by mistake....yet he shows no mistrust of the CIA at all, ever. Is that because he was a career beauracrat or something more? Anyone reading Fonzi's book can see that Blakey gutted the HSCA as a real criminal investigation and that his main contribution was getting records locked out of reach for even longer than the WC. And his follow-on book is pure disinformation direction in my view, a little truth and a lot of mis-direction. All in all my speculation would be that Blakey was definitely part of an ongoing cover-up, the how and why of that cover-up may yet be revealed but I personally suspect it has nothing to do with the conspiracy per se.

-- Larry

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Larry,

I ordered your book yesterday, so perhaps I should have waited to post until I have had the chance to read it, but coincidentally I have just finished 'Mob Lawyer' by Frank Ragano, Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, 1994.

The book is interesting, but doesn't provide concrete information. There is quite a lot of intelligent speculation, based upon Frank Ragano's understanding of the 'corporate' culture.

'Omerta' - don't talk. That's the rule, and Trafficante never broke it, even at the last when he had his final private conversation with Ragano, demonstrating his potential complicity in JFK affair.

To what extent were Trafficante and Marcello involved? My impression, having finished the book, is that there was collusion, but the involvement of these specific individuals was of a lesser percentage than Giancana and Roselli.

In any event, quoting from the book, an interesting hypothesis from Ragano as to the hit on both Giancana and Roselli, from pages 324 and 325:

"In testimony before the Senate committe, Roselli recalled the session as having taken place in late 1960 or early 1961..."

"Of the Mafia trio, only Roselli testified before the State committee. On July 19, 1975, the night before he was going to be questioned by committee members, Sam Giancana was preparing a supper...when a person he evidently trusted and had invited to share the meal ended his life by firing a .22 caliber handgun equipped with silencer into the back of his head. The killer followed up by discharging six more rounds into Giancana's neck and mouth.

Some organized-crime experts theorized that Giancana's murder was unrelated to the Senate inquiry, and that he was killed by rivals to stop him from regaining supremacy of Chicago's Mafia clan. From what I had picked up over the years about mob executions, the nature of Giancana's death contradicts that theory. In a traditional Mafia hit, a bullet in the throat signifies that the victim had been 'talking,' and a bullet in the mouth means he will never 'rat' again. Undoubtedly, Giancana was murdered to prevent him from talking about the CIA-Castro plot or any other Mafia secret.

Almost exactly on the first anniversary of Giancana's death, another layer of mystery was added to the coincidence of his slaying and the Senate's CIA investigation. After years of seemingly cooperating with congressional committees and talking rather freely with newspaper columnists about Mafia affairs, Johnny Roselli became extremely cautious, almost reclusive...

In late July 1976, Roselli made a dinner date. He was seen with his old friend Santo Trafficante at The Landings, a restaurant in Fort Lauderdale. Two days after dining with Santo, Roselli disappeared.

Twelve days later, on Augst 7, 1976, a fifty gallon drum containing the legless body of a silver-haired man....The corpse was Johnny Roselli.

The manner of Roselli's death also fit a Mafia pattern. He was beguiled to his death by someone he trusted. The dumping of his body in the bay was another message: The killers either wanted to give the impression that he had deliberately vanished or they wanted to punish his relatives for his misdeeds, perhaps his violation of omerta.

...One fact, however, was indesputable: Santo Trafficante was the only survivor of the three mobsters recruited by the CIA to kill Fidel Castro."

- lee

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This forum has the story on Joannides, I see.

A FOIA is now in progress to obtain the files of George Joannides, CIA infiltrator to HSCA under Blakey. Jeff Morley is working on this angle. Something was definately wrong with the HSCA. It was messed with, from the beginning.

I suspect the investigation of George E. Joannides will end up at a dead-end. Why? Because on 18th December, 2003, G. Robert Blakey, John McAdams and Gerald Posner had a letter published in the New York Review of Books.

As published authors of divergent views on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, we urge the Central Intelligence Agency and the Department of Defense to observe the spirit and letter of the 1992 JFK Assassination Records Act by releasing all relevant records on the activities of a career CIA operations officer named George E. Joannides, who died in 1990.

Joannides's service to the US government is a matter of public record and is relevant to the Kennedy assassination story. In November 1963, Joannides served as the chief of the Psychological Warfare branch in the CIA's Miami station. In 1978, he served as the CIA's liaison to the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA).

The records concerning George Joannides meet the legal definition of "assassination-related" JFK records that must be "immediately" released under the JFK Records Act. They are assassination-related because of contacts between accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald and a CIA-sponsored Cuban student group that Joannides guided and monitored in August 1963.

Declassified portions of Joannides's personnel file confirm his responsibility in August 1963 for reporting on the "propaganda" and "intelligence collection" activities of the Directorio Revolucionario Estudantil (DRE), a prominent organization known in the North American press as the Cuban Student Directorate.

George Joannides's activities were assassination-related in at least two ways.

(1) In August 1963, Oswald attempted to infiltrate the New Orleans delegation of the DRE. The delegation—dependent on $25,000 a month in CIA funds provided by Joannides—publicly denounced Oswald as an unscrupulous sympathizer of Fidel Castro.

(2) After Kennedy was killed three months later, on November 22, 1963, DRE members spoke to reporters from The New York Times and other news outlets, detailing Oswald's pro-Castro activities. Within days of the assassination, the DRE published allegations that Oswald had acted on Castro's behalf.

The imperative of disclosure is heightened by the fact that the CIA has, in the past, failed to disclose George Joannides's activities. In 1978, Joannides was called out of retirement to serve as the agency's liaison to the House Select Committee on Assassinations. The agency did not reveal to the Congress his role in the events of 1963, compromising the committee's investigation.

In 1998, the Agency again responded inaccurately to public inquiries about Joannides. The Agency's Historic Review Office informed the JFK Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB) that it was unable to identify the case officer for the DRE in 1963. The ARRB staff, on its own, located records confirming that Joannides had been the case officer.

This is not a record that inspires public confidence or quells conspiracy-mongering. To overcome misunderstanding, the CIA and the Defense Department should make a diligent good-faith effort to identify and release any documents about George Joannides.

The government should make these records public in conjunction with the fortieth anniversary of the Kennedy assassination on November 22, 2003, so as to help restore public confidence and to demonstrate the agencies' commitment to compliance with the JFK Assassination Records Act.

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Chris, some excellant observations....and the quote on St. George is very revealing.

Given the common Luce family and Pawley attitudes towards JFK, very close to considering him a traitor or at least a unwitting tool of the Commists - and given the Luce personal relationship with David Phillips, it is certainly possible to speculate that at the very highest levels Life magazine had an agenda. First to try and force JFK into action against Cuba, second to make sure he did not get re-elected and then possibly later to make sure nobody looked at the Cuban connections.

There is some anecdotal evidence to suggest that after the assassination Pawley had some suspicions about some of the people he had supported being involved and perhaps so did the Luces (given Claire Booth's rabid politics she may not have cared much though). It's not at all hard for me to see Life a) doing its own investigations just to be first to see what potentially explosive stuff might be found by any real investigation and B) then making sure it got buried. That certainly seems to be the case in the Life reinvestigation circa 1966-67 that Wallac Millam turned up. Except in that case one of the principals was old friends with Shaw so his defense team got some of the intelligence.

And if some day I learned there had been a Luce - Phillips meeting were both parties agreed that JFK had to go one way or the other it would not be a major shock to me.

-- Larry

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Lee, you make some good points and I sure don't know enough to make the call, I do know the FBI investigators thought it could be either way - either somebody in the syndicate was tired of Roselli's visibility or thought he was still trying to keep his hand in certain deals (especially in LA) or that it might have been some of the guys associated with him during the Castro assassination attempts. Points in support of each are:

1) Some high level syndicate boss or bosses just got tired of the amount of press Roselli had been getting and Giancana had gotten through Roselli or might get when called to testify. I did read one book written by a mob guy (sorry, can't remember the name) who claimed to be relatively close to Roselli as an underling and stated that he had been harassed by a syndicate leader about the guy having put the contract out on Roselli and essentially bragging about it. Roselli had told this fellow that he and Giancana took the CIA offer on their own to try to get some leverage with the Government (which didn't work) and that they had no approval. The guy also says that Roselli suggested the whole thing might have been a scam on the CIA (sort of supporting the theory of Trafficante playing both sides with Castro). Obviously Harvey had been suspicious of that which is why he kicked Giancana and Trafficante out of the project when he took over with Roselli). Anyway, both Giancana and Roselli were "retired" and somebody may have decided they were simply a PR liability what with Anderson reporting on the CIA and the mob.

2) Some of the folks associated with the actual tactical activities against Castro or in Cuba may have decided they didn't want Roselli dropping names, or Giancana for that matter - after all the barrel thing and the shots around the mouth are as much TV Mob signatures as anything else, almost like somebody was trying to suggest the mob was behind it.

Fred Black could probably break the tie between the two options, I don't know of any way to make the call.

-- Larry

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Obviously Harvey had been suspicious of that which is why he kicked Giancana and Trafficante out of the project when he took over with Roselli). Anyway, both Giancana and Roselli were "retired" and somebody may have decided they were simply a PR liability what with Anderson reporting on the CIA and the mob.

I thought that was because Robert Kennedy ordered Harvey to remove Santos Trafficante and Sam Giancana from the project to kill Castro. Although he did not seem to mind Johnny Roselli remaining on board.

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John, as far as we know from the records, when RFK was told about the CIA using mob assets against Castro he became very upset and ordered that he be informed if anybody even thought about doing that sort of thing again. However at that point nobody informed him that Harvey was in the progress of restarting the project and nobody went back to tell him that Roselli was being used again (and Verona for that matter as well as other Trafficante network assets). And indeed it was the 1962/63 activities that Roselli did not talk about in his first visit to the Committee and which were rumored to have been the focus of the next round of questionin...which was pre-empted by his murder.

All I can say is that according to the documents Bobby did not know about the project restart with Roselli and also did not know that Harvey had indeed been given permission to refund and continue ZR/Rifle through 1963 for that matter. If anybody has some different data I've certainly got an open mind on the subject.

-- Larry

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Thanks, Larry.

How do you see Tom Dunkin fitting into the Billings scenario? We known that Dunkin photographed many of the Interpen and anti-Castro guys and in fact developed a friendly relationship with several them - guys like Roy Hargraves, Dennis Harber, Bernardo De Torres and William Seymour.

We also know that Dunkin wrote direct to Billings. At the very least, one would have to say that Billings knew exactly what was going on regarding anti-Castro activity in South Florida.

James

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James, I would think that Dunkin would be in somewhat the same mold but probably much less "connected" inside Life itself....he had orders for the same sorts of stories and photo journalism. He must have heard the same gossip and some of the same rumors afterwards - but he surely didn't go running to the WC. not that it would have done any good. I can't help but belive that many people who heard the rumors in Florida, New Orleans and Dallas caught a quick drift of the way the "wind was blowing" and decided just to keep their suspicions to themselves. Certainly we have quotes from FBI agents who could clearly see their jobs depending on following the official story and we know Mann said the same thing about many personnel in Mexico City.

I guess that's my cut on Dunkin unless anyone can come up with some further insights - which I would certainly welcome.

-- Larry

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Thanks, Larry.

I believe Dunkin had a genuine soft spot for some of the anti-Castro guys and their cause. I get the feeling that he was being pulled in both directions. His photo collection and what it really contained being the source of much interest and speculation.

I agree that Dunkin had no interest in divulging any 'thoughts' he may have had. In fact if I remember correctly, it was Dunkin who floated the story that William Seymour was disillusioned with the whole anti-Castro cause and headed back to Arizona in early November of 1963. Not exactly an alibi but it's a start.

James

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I would probably give Billings more benefit of the doubt in some areas than others and would give Blakey none...

Was Billings acting for the CIA in Dallas.... or with Garrison.  Or was he just doing his media job?  Certainly what he was telling Garrison would be consistent with what we know of him and with the investigation Life was doing at the time.  For anything more I'd need some data.  On the other hand it is clear that Billings elected not to provide input on a possible exile connection to the WC, the HSCA or even on Watergate.  And he had to have heard the threats against Kennedy that were the street gossip in Miami and he certainly knew how key a player that Martinez was in JM WAVE infiltrations despite Helms statements.    At a minimum Billings didn't help the cause,  whether he activiely undermined any investigations is an open question to me. 

The one extremely suggestive point that he may have been more sinister is his hiring by Blakey...if we knew the how and why of that it might resolve he whole question.  Certainly there is no doubt that Blakey was manipulated by CIA if not worse....and certainly he cannot have been naive enough to think a CIA guy was breaking into their safe by mistake....yet he shows no mistrust of the CIA at all, ever.  Is that because he was a career beauracrat or something more?  Anyone reading Fonzi's book can see that Blakey gutted the HSCA as a real criminal investigation and that his main contribution was getting records locked out of reach for even longer than the WC.  And his follow-on book is pure disinformation direction in my view, a little truth and a lot of mis-direction.  All in all my speculation would be that Blakey was definitely part of an ongoing cover-up, the how and why of that cover-up may yet be revealed but I personally suspect it has nothing to do with the conspiracy per se. 

You argue that Blakey was a more important figure in the cover-up than Billings. Therefore you seem to be saying that Blakey was the senior partner in writing up the HSCA report and the book A Plot to Kill the President.

Yet by the time Billings joins the HSCA in 1976 he has form.

(1) Billings participated in CIA covert operations against Cuba.

(2) “Billings would later head the LIFE team in Dallas which purchased the Zapruder film of the Kennedy assassination, as well as Marina Oswald's story rights (neither of which saw public exposure under LIFE auspices)” (Someone Would Have Talked).

(3) Billings subverted the Garrison investigation.

Blakey on the other hand was a respected lawyer who had worked as a Special Attorney at the Department of Justice in the Organized Crime & Racketeering Section and as a professor of law and director of the Cornell Institute on Organized Crime at Cornell Law School. In the 1960s Blakey campaigned for and helped write much of the anti-racketeering legislation that helped undermine the activities of the Mafia. This included the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act (1970).

Blakey seems to me to have been the ideal person to bring in to put forward the idea of an organized crime conspiracy. What was needed was someone like Billings at his side to push him in the right direction. Given his previous history, psychologically, Blakey would have wanted to believe this story. Once committed to the theory he could be relied on suppressing any evidence that went against this view (for example, the Lopez Report).

I can’t agree that Billings' behaviour during the Garrison investigation suggested that he was just doing his “media job”. The most revealing evidence is Tom Bethal’s diary. There is no doubt that Billings seduced Bethal with his charm (he did the same with Garrison). In doing so he manipulated Bethal into betraying Garrison.

The complete diary can be read here:

Billings also attempts to push Garrison towards the “organized crime” theory. When Garrison refuses to accept this he is turned on and articles appear in Life magazine that claim Garrison is in under the control of organized crime.

Blakey and Billings return to this theme in their book, The Plot to Kill the President (1981).

It would require the surprising disclosure of the findings of a Senate committee on intelligence in 1976 to prevent Garrison's probe from effectively ending any hope that the federal government would take a second look at the work of the Warren Commission. In short, Garrison's case was a fraud...

As for the organized-crime aspect of Oswald's associations in New Orleans, where it had been overlooked by the F.B.I, and the Warren Commission, it had been studiously avoided by the District Attorney for reasons we believed had become apparent...

Garrison was tried but acquitted in 1971 of federal charges of taking payoffs from underworld pinball operators, despite evidence that included incriminating tape recordings of Garrison and the seizure of $1,000 in marked money from Garrison's home.

In his article Is the Mafia Theory a Valid Alternative (1988) Carl Oglesby compares Garrison and Blakey/Billings theories:

Garrison:

(1) Rabidly anti-Communist elements of the C.I.A.'s operations division, often moving through extra-governmental channels, were deeply involved at the top of the assassination planning and management process and appear to have been the makers of the decision to kill the President.

(2) The conspiracy was politically motivated. Its purpose was to stop J.F.K.'s movement toward détente in the Cold War, and it succeeded in doing that. It must therefore be regarded as a palace coup d'etat.

(3) Oswald was an innocent man craftily set up to take the blame. As he put it, "I'm a patsy."

Blakey/Billings

(1) Oswald alone did shoot and kill J.F.K., as the Warren Commission deduced.

(2) An unknown confederate of Oswald's, however, also shot at the President, firing from the celebrated "grassy knoll." This shot missed.

(3) Apart from the question of the number of assailants in the attack, Oswald acted as the tool of a much larger conspiracy.

(4) The conspiracy behind Oswald was rooted in organized crime and was specifically provoked by J.F.K.’s anti-crime program. Singly or in some combination, prime suspects are Carlos Marcello and Santos Trafficante, godfathers respectively of the New Orleans and Tampa Mafias, and Teamster racketeer James Hoffa. Each one had the motive, means, and opportunity to kill J.F.K.

I would argue that Garrison’s theory is closest to the truth and that Blakey/Billings (or should it be Billings/Blakey) theory reflected what the CIA/FBI wanted the public believe at the time. It is therefore just a question about who was controlling who. My money is on Billings.

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