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Robert Morrow; CIA contract agent in full


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From a previous postings of August of 2005. Reference Robert D Morrow John Simkin thread and book review

"...What do members make of Robert D. Morrow? I have just read his book, First Hand Knowledge. He explained in a speech at the State University of New York (28th June, 1991) what the motive for killing JFK:

The assassination of President Kennedy was, to put it simply, an anti-Castro 'provocation', an act designed to be blamed on Castro to justify a punitive American invasion of the island. Such action would most clearly benefit the Mafia chieftains who had lost their gambling holdings in Havana because of Castro, and CIA agents who had lost their credibility with the Cuban exile freedom fighters from the ill-fated Bay of Pigs invasion.

I also believe that this was the primary motive behind the assassination. Therefore I read the book wanting to believe his story. Briefly, this is Morrow’s story:

After attending Pennsylvania Military College Morrow became an engineer in Pittsburgh. In 1956 he joined Martin Company as a senior engineer in Baltimore, Maryland.

In January, 1958, Morrow moved to Washington where he set up an independent laboratory at his home in Hazelwood Avenue. For the next six months he worked with Stan Clark on the Doomsday Project. In July he joined the Neurology Project with Dr. John Seipel of Georgetown University.

Mario Kohly, who had been imprisoned by Fidel Castro in Cuba, escaped and arrived in the United States in February, 1959, and began organizing exile groups against Castro. Soon afterwards Kohly met Marshall Diggs. In March, 1960, Diggs recruited Morrow to work for Kohly. Three months later Morrow met Tracy Barnes and agrees to be Kohly's CIA contact.

Kohly agrees to accept help from the CIA in overthrowing Castro and in July, 1960, the Cuban Revolutionary Council (CRC) is formed. According to Morrow, the CRC informed JFK of CIA plans to invade Cuba at the Democratic National Convention. Morrow also claims that Kohly met Richard Nixon and the CIA in October. This resulted in the formation of Operation 40.

In March, 1961, Kohly's 300 man guerrilla army in the Escambray Mountains was decimated by Castro's forces. This damaged the potential success of the Bay of Pigs operation. Kohly now changed his strategy and with the help of Morrow he started a counterfeiting operation to undermine the Cuban economy.

Morrow continued to work for the CIA and he travelled to France to pick up a package for Tracy Barnes. While in Europe he bought arms for Kohly's new army.

In July, 1963, Morrow claims that Tracy Barnes "requested that I purchase four Mannlicher 7.35 mm surplus rifles. According to Barnes, the rifles were available in the Baltimore area from Sunny's Supply Stores. Upon my agreement to make the purchase, Barnes requested that I alter the forepiece of each rifle so that the rifles could be dismantled, hidden and reassembled quickly. I thought this last request odd until I was informed that the rifles were to be used for a clandestine operation."

The following day, Morrow claims that Eladio del Valle asked him to purchase four transceivers. In August 1963, Morrow delivered these rifles and transceivers to David Ferrie. Morrow believed that that the idea was to blame Fidel Castro for the assassination of JFK in order to trigger an invasion of Cuba.

In 1976 Morrow published “Betrayal: A Reconstruction of Certain Clandestine Events from the Bay of Pigs to the Assassination of John F. Kennedy”. The book was a partially fictionalized account of what Morrow experienced between 1958 and 1964. In his book, Morrow argues that Lee Harvey Oswald went to the Soviet Union as a CIA agent. On his return he became a FBI informant.

According to Morrow in 1963 Jack Ruby, Eladio del Valle, Guy Banister, David Ferrie and Clay Shaw organized a plot to kill Kennedy. This group manipulated events to make sure that Oswald would be identified as the assassin. The actual killer was an unnamed man impersonating Oswald. This man killed J. D. Tippit when he refused to go along with the plan to kill Lee Harvey Oswald who was waiting in the Texas Theatre. When Oswald was captured alive Ruby was forced to murder him in Dallas Police Station.

His next book was First Hand Knowledge (1992). Morrow claimed it was an autobiographical account of what he knew about the assassination of JFK. According to Morrow, the major players in the plot included Tracy Barnes, William Harvey, Marshall Diggs, Carlos Marcello, Santos Trafficante, Guy Banister, David Ferrie, Clay Shaw, Mario Kohly, Eladio del Valle, Sergio Arcacha Smith, Rolando Masferrer, Michel Mertz and Thomas Davis.

Morrow account implicates people who have already been named in other books. However, three people figure prominently who do not fit into this category: Mario Kohly, Marshall Diggs and Tracy Barnes. I have to admit that I do not know a great deal about Kohly or Diggs. However, I have spent sometime studying Tracy Barnes. Some researchers have mentioned his name as a possible figure in the JFK assassination conspiracy. Barnes was a member of Operation Success, the plot to overthrow Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala in 1954. Others involved in this operation were Frank Wisner, David Atlee Phillips, E. Howard Hunt, David Morales and Rip Robertson.

in 1960 Barnes joined the Directorate for Plans and helped Richard Bissell to organize the Bay of Pigs operation. Lyman Kirkpatrick, the CIA's inspector general, wrote a report on the failed project. Kirkpatrick was highly critical of both Bissell and Barnes. He claimed that they had misled JFK and that "plausible deniability was a pathetic illusion".

Unlike Bissell and Dulles, Barnes survived the Bay of Pigs disaster and according to Morrow, in 1962 Barnes was placed in charge of Domestic Operations Division. It was this unit that organized the assassination of JFK.

Morrow claims that Barnes had a motive. The Bay of Pigs operation failed because of JFK. However, it was the CIA who got the blame. Barnes was getting revenge on JFK and at the same time was guaranteeing a successful invasion of Cuba by setting up Lee Harvey Oswald as the assassin.

My main objection to this is that this does not fit Barnes’ personality. Barnes was a left of centre Democrat. Although very anti-communist (like other senior members of the CIA this view was based on his experiences in Europe during and soon after the Second World War) he held liberal views on domestic issues.

Morrow’s portrait of Barnes is totally unconvincing. From what we know of how the CIA worked, Barnes would never have exposed himself in the way that Morrow suggests. Why would Barnes personally recruit Morrow to buy the weapons to kill JFK? Why would Barnes then involve Eladio del Valle in asking Morrow to buy the four transceivers. Then Barnes gets Morrow to deliver the rifles and the transceivers to David Ferrie. It is all very convenient for the plot of Morrow’s book, but it is not the way senior officials in the CIA worked. Why would Barnes be so convinced that Morrow would never tell his story? If Barnes had been foolish enough to let Morrow know about the conspiracy, surely he would have had him killed soon after the event took place?

The book reads like a poorly written novel (the dialogue is appalling). That is what it is – a work of fiction. ...". (end)

post reply fm Ron:

"... The problem with dismissing Morrow is that one can't entirely dismiss Morrow. Morrow was an associate of Kohly's. They were arrested together in the 60's. Morrow names some of Kohly's associates such as Marshall Diggs and Owen Webster. He also claims Kohly had Nixon's support. The recently released Pfeiffer history of the Bay of Pigs reveals that Nixon supported Kohly, and that, guess what, Kohly was associated with Marshall Diggs and Owen Brewster. Unless you're willing to believe Morrow was Pfeiffer's source for this information, this means Morrow's fiction had a basis in fact.

His portrait of Barnes is also interesting. When Morrow first wrote about Barnes, was Barnes widely known? Could Morrow have possibly guessed that books by Richard Bissell and Richard Helms would confirm his depiction of Barnes as a wreckless covert operative, given to bold and daring acts? Could Morrow have peformed the research necessary to see that Barnes was involved in assassination from the early fifties, with Boris Pash in Europe, with Rip Robertson in Guatemala, and with God knows who--Op 40?--in Cuba. It's possible Morrow gained his insights from Church Committee testimony, but, if so, who was his source?

I suspect Morrow was involved with Kohly and overheard a lot of stuff. He wrote about his suspicions, and made the rest up. Not unlike too many others. ...". (end post)Plumlee reply:

Most of Morrows inside information came from the Miami Station. Tracy Barns was one of my case officers. Morrow put bits and pieces together and obtained some info from previous Havana Mafia, Martino and Vorona. Morrow WAS a CONTRACT Operative, not an AGENT. Morrow's main job was to infiltrate varios spring-up organizations and report back to Langley via a series of cut-outs. I was attatched to OPS-40 as well as OMC TFW-W, Pentagon MI (JCS2) as well as Morrow. Our pay came from army, not CIA. From from time to time Morrow was seen with Robertson and Barns, but not at the level of operation that Morrow would later claim. I flew Morrow to pick up equipment in California and we had a safe house (rooms) at the Thunderbird INN at Las Vegas. Morrow as well as I did have associations with Roselli and others from Havana before the fall of Batista and after.

Morrow was an interesting man and knew a lot about the inter workings of the Cuban underground... BUT his book was written in such a way that the CIA would not want to read it because they told him what they wanted to see in it... Morrow did write the book and he did change the facts around to protect some of the players who had not yet died and was still on payroll. However, he did get crossways with the CIA after he joined Congressman Thomas Downing's staff before the HSCA was even formed, 1975 and after his close door testimony to the Church Committee 1974, I think.

Do not rule out Morrow because of a very bad book... I feel the book was a sheild... a throw away.., with just enough in it to draw some old players out that were working counter to CIA ..., Rouges if you like... Morrow told me in 1975 that LBJ was behind the whole assassination but there were hundereds of cut-out between him and Justice. (DoJ) and it would take a life time to "Strip Um, and get to his boys". He told me in Congressman Downing's office, that Bobby was going after LBJ, in a Big way and his brother wanted him to back of LBJ until they could get Justice tolook into the matter. He never told me what matter was being looked into. After the assassinations I could pretty well guess. And, today? Well we know the rest of that story. Two factions fighting it out for turf, in my opinion and Dallas became the battleground, as well as LA.

Edited by William Plumlee
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From a previous postings of August of 2005. Reference Robert D Morrow John Simkin thread and book review

"...What do members make of Robert D. Morrow? I have just read his book, First Hand Knowledge. He explained in a speech at the State University of New York (28th June, 1991) what the motive for killing JFK:

The assassination of President Kennedy was, to put it simply, an anti-Castro 'provocation', an act designed to be blamed on Castro to justify a punitive American invasion of the island. Such action would most clearly benefit the Mafia chieftains who had lost their gambling holdings in Havana because of Castro, and CIA agents who had lost their credibility with the Cuban exile freedom fighters from the ill-fated Bay of Pigs invasion.

I also believe that this was the primary motive behind the assassination. Therefore I read the book wanting to believe his story. Briefly, this is Morrow’s story:

After attending Pennsylvania Military College Morrow became an engineer in Pittsburgh. In 1956 he joined Martin Company as a senior engineer in Baltimore, Maryland.

In January, 1958, Morrow moved to Washington where he set up an independent laboratory at his home in Hazelwood Avenue. For the next six months he worked with Stan Clark on the Doomsday Project. In July he joined the Neurology Project with Dr. John Seipel of Georgetown University.

Mario Kohly, who had been imprisoned by Fidel Castro in Cuba, escaped and arrived in the United States in February, 1959, and began organizing exile groups against Castro. Soon afterwards Kohly met Marshall Diggs. In March, 1960, Diggs recruited Morrow to work for Kohly. Three months later Morrow met Tracy Barnes and agrees to be Kohly's CIA contact.

Kohly agrees to accept help from the CIA in overthrowing Castro and in July, 1960, the Cuban Revolutionary Council (CRC) is formed. According to Morrow, the CRC informed JFK of CIA plans to invade Cuba at the Democratic National Convention. Morrow also claims that Kohly met Richard Nixon and the CIA in October. This resulted in the formation of Operation 40.

In March, 1961, Kohly's 300 man guerrilla army in the Escambray Mountains was decimated by Castro's forces. This damaged the potential success of the Bay of Pigs operation. Kohly now changed his strategy and with the help of Morrow he started a counterfeiting operation to undermine the Cuban economy.

Morrow continued to work for the CIA and he travelled to France to pick up a package for Tracy Barnes. While in Europe he bought arms for Kohly's new army.

In July, 1963, Morrow claims that Tracy Barnes "requested that I purchase four Mannlicher 7.35 mm surplus rifles. According to Barnes, the rifles were available in the Baltimore area from Sunny's Supply Stores. Upon my agreement to make the purchase, Barnes requested that I alter the forepiece of each rifle so that the rifles could be dismantled, hidden and reassembled quickly. I thought this last request odd until I was informed that the rifles were to be used for a clandestine operation."

The following day, Morrow claims that Eladio del Valle asked him to purchase four transceivers. In August 1963, Morrow delivered these rifles and transceivers to David Ferrie. Morrow believed that that the idea was to blame Fidel Castro for the assassination of JFK in order to trigger an invasion of Cuba.

In 1976 Morrow published “Betrayal: A Reconstruction of Certain Clandestine Events from the Bay of Pigs to the Assassination of John F. Kennedy”. The book was a partially fictionalized account of what Morrow experienced between 1958 and 1964. In his book, Morrow argues that Lee Harvey Oswald went to the Soviet Union as a CIA agent. On his return he became a FBI informant.

According to Morrow in 1963 Jack Ruby, Eladio del Valle, Guy Banister, David Ferrie and Clay Shaw organized a plot to kill Kennedy. This group manipulated events to make sure that Oswald would be identified as the assassin. The actual killer was an unnamed man impersonating Oswald. This man killed J. D. Tippit when he refused to go along with the plan to kill Lee Harvey Oswald who was waiting in the Texas Theatre. When Oswald was captured alive Ruby was forced to murder him in Dallas Police Station.

His next book was First Hand Knowledge (1992). Morrow claimed it was an autobiographical account of what he knew about the assassination of JFK. According to Morrow, the major players in the plot included Tracy Barnes, William Harvey, Marshall Diggs, Carlos Marcello, Santos Trafficante, Guy Banister, David Ferrie, Clay Shaw, Mario Kohly, Eladio del Valle, Sergio Arcacha Smith, Rolando Masferrer, Michel Mertz and Thomas Davis.

Morrow account implicates people who have already been named in other books. However, three people figure prominently who do not fit into this category: Mario Kohly, Marshall Diggs and Tracy Barnes. I have to admit that I do not know a great deal about Kohly or Diggs. However, I have spent sometime studying Tracy Barnes. Some researchers have mentioned his name as a possible figure in the JFK assassination conspiracy. Barnes was a member of Operation Success, the plot to overthrow Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala in 1954. Others involved in this operation were Frank Wisner, David Atlee Phillips, E. Howard Hunt, David Morales and Rip Robertson.

in 1960 Barnes joined the Directorate for Plans and helped Richard Bissell to organize the Bay of Pigs operation. Lyman Kirkpatrick, the CIA's inspector general, wrote a report on the failed project. Kirkpatrick was highly critical of both Bissell and Barnes. He claimed that they had misled JFK and that "plausible deniability was a pathetic illusion".

Unlike Bissell and Dulles, Barnes survived the Bay of Pigs disaster and according to Morrow, in 1962 Barnes was placed in charge of Domestic Operations Division. It was this unit that organized the assassination of JFK.

Morrow claims that Barnes had a motive. The Bay of Pigs operation failed because of JFK. However, it was the CIA who got the blame. Barnes was getting revenge on JFK and at the same time was guaranteeing a successful invasion of Cuba by setting up Lee Harvey Oswald as the assassin.

My main objection to this is that this does not fit Barnes’ personality. Barnes was a left of centre Democrat. Although very anti-communist (like other senior members of the CIA this view was based on his experiences in Europe during and soon after the Second World War) he held liberal views on domestic issues.

Morrow’s portrait of Barnes is totally unconvincing. From what we know of how the CIA worked, Barnes would never have exposed himself in the way that Morrow suggests. Why would Barnes personally recruit Morrow to buy the weapons to kill JFK? Why would Barnes then involve Eladio del Valle in asking Morrow to buy the four transceivers. Then Barnes gets Morrow to deliver the rifles and the transceivers to David Ferrie. It is all very convenient for the plot of Morrow’s book, but it is not the way senior officials in the CIA worked. Why would Barnes be so convinced that Morrow would never tell his story? If Barnes had been foolish enough to let Morrow know about the conspiracy, surely he would have had him killed soon after the event took place?

The book reads like a poorly written novel (the dialogue is appalling). That is what it is – a work of fiction. ...". (end)

post reply fm Ron:

"... The problem with dismissing Morrow is that one can't entirely dismiss Morrow. Morrow was an associate of Kohly's. They were arrested together in the 60's. Morrow names some of Kohly's associates such as Marshall Diggs and Owen Webster. He also claims Kohly had Nixon's support. The recently released Pfeiffer history of the Bay of Pigs reveals that Nixon supported Kohly, and that, guess what, Kohly was associated with Marshall Diggs and Owen Brewster. Unless you're willing to believe Morrow was Pfeiffer's source for this information, this means Morrow's fiction had a basis in fact.

His portrait of Barnes is also interesting. When Morrow first wrote about Barnes, was Barnes widely known? Could Morrow have possibly guessed that books by Richard Bissell and Richard Helms would confirm his depiction of Barnes as a wreckless covert operative, given to bold and daring acts? Could Morrow have peformed the research necessary to see that Barnes was involved in assassination from the early fifties, with Boris Pash in Europe, with Rip Robertson in Guatemala, and with God knows who--Op 40?--in Cuba. It's possible Morrow gained his insights from Church Committee testimony, but, if so, who was his source?

I suspect Morrow was involved with Kohly and overheard a lot of stuff. He wrote about his suspicions, and made the rest up. Not unlike too many others. ...". (end post)Plumlee reply:

Most of Morrows inside information came from the Miami Station. Tracy Barns was one of my case officers. Morrow put bits and pieces together and obtained some info from previous Havana Mafia, Martino and Vorona. Morrow WAS a CONTRACT Operative, not an AGENT. Morrow's main job was to infiltrate varios spring-up organizations and report back to Langley via a series of cut-outs. I was attatched to OPS-40 as well as OMC TFW-W, Pentagon MI (JCS2) as well as Morrow. Our pay came from army, not CIA. From from time to time Morrow was seen with Robertson and Barns, but not at the level of operation that Morrow would later claim. I flew Morrow to pick up equipment in California and we had a safe house (rooms) at the Thunderbird INN at Las Vegas. Morrow as well as I did have associations with Roselli and others from Havana before the fall of Batista and after.

Morrow was an interesting man and knew a lot about the inter workings of the Cuban underground... BUT his book was written in such a way that the CIA would not want to read it because they told him what they wanted to see in it... Morrow did write the book and he did change the facts around to protect some of the players who had not yet died and was still on payroll. However, he did get crossways with the CIA after he joined Congressman Thomas Downing's staff before the HSCA was even formed, 1975 and after his close door testimony to the Church Committee 1974, I think.

Do not rule out Morrow because of a very bad book... I feel the book was a sheild... a throw away.., with just enough in it to draw some old players out that were working counter to CIA ..., Rouges if you like... Morrow told me in 1975 that LBJ was behind the whole assassination but there were hundereds of cut-out between him and Justice. (DoJ) and it would take a life time to "Strip Um, and get to his boys". He told me in Congressman Downing's office, that Bobby was going after LBJ, in a Big way and his brother wanted him to back of LBJ until they could get Justice tolook into the matter. He never told me what matter was being looked into. After the assassinations I could pretty well guess. And, today? Well we know the rest of that story. Two factions fighting it out for turf, in my opinion and Dallas became the battleground, as well as LA.

I enjoyed the book.

But, why would he have been hung out to dry on the counterfeiting charges?

I suspect that there was a Company reason for it.

The whole counterfeiting operation seems like a perfect cut-out, and also something I could see the CIA or some anti-Castro group doing to destabalize the economy (ala Bernanke).

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