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Interesting article by Mark Stout titled:

"The Pond: Running Agents for State, War, and the CIA, The Hazards of Private Spy Operations"


I have drifted into information concerning "The Pond" over the past few weeks and have began to cross check information that I have gathered over the years with these new revelations. Just scratching the surface it seems.

The Pond was the name given to a super secrete spy organization ran by John V. "Frenchy" Grombach for a period of about 13 years between 1942 and 1955. This organization originally worked under the auspices of Military Intelligence although Grombach was on loan to OSS at times during WWII and the information points to the fact that John J. McCloy, if not the father of the Pond was in fact its wetnurse.

After the war Grombach's group worked for the military, the State Department, the CIA and provided information to Joseph McCarthy during the days of the Red Scare and the McCarthy hearings. Grombach led crusades against Alfred MacCormick, Allen Dulles, William Donovan and even John J. McCloy, depending upon his priotities at the time. He fought for the abolition of the OSS and tried to destroy the CIA after he was bypassed for the leadership position within that organization.

While much about The Pond remains a mystery what is for sure is that Grombach was a powerful person in the field of intelligence and continued to peddle his wares, information and influence beyond what would be officially considered his time of usefullness.

Some areas that are of interest for myself:

Grombach was closely associated with the creation of OSS/SI which was headed by Whitney Shepardson (I have started a topic on Shepardson that I hope to continue adding to).

OSS/SI seems to have been the group that watched over OSS Stockholm Station during WWII and Grombach can be/is being tied to members of the OSS Stockholm team. This was a surprize so I reviewed Anthony Cave Brown's book "Wild Bill Donovan the Last Hero" (Times Books, 1982). Stockholm receives no mention whatsoever from the OSS Chief/Brown although that particular station can be credited with some very important successes of the OSS. For example, Fortitude North (allied deception planning prior to the D-Day landings), Himmler's peace feelers to the Allies in 1944, negotiations leading to the survival of 100-200,000 Hungarian Jews, tracking of ball bearings into Germany, German production of oil and synthetic fuels, piece feelers from Japan, etc. including the interception of the Finnish Intelligence corp and cryptological team that began the Venonal Project (ie. Frank Rowlett and Meredith Gardner, Oswald investigators).

A member of this OSS Stockholm team was Richard "Dick" Helms. When I cross checked Grombach to the book by Peter Grose (Gentleman Spy, the Life of Allen Dulles, Houghton Mifflin, 1994) I found five entries dealing with this mysterious fellow. Each entry sparked interest but two really caught my eye.

First, on pages 276-279 we have a discription of the testimonys three men gave at a secret hearing in congress on June 27, 1947. The three men, in order, were Hoyt S. Vandenber, then head of the Central Intellligence Group, followed by John V. "Frenchie" Grombach who is described by the author as a "shadowy freelancer under contract" but whose invitation to this hearing shows obvious importance within the intelligence community. The final speaker was Allen Dulles who, "minced no words in puncturing the simple-minded prescriptions of the freelance sleuths and the notion that collection of intelligence and its analysis could be so neatly disconnected....Allen worried about 'these private collectors of information...I think it is impossible to continue with a series of agencies engaged in the work of secret inteligence...You are going to cross wires, and you are going to find that these various agents will become crossed.' he urged that control of secret collection operations be assigned exclusively to theproposed central agency..

"Vanenberg, though loyal to the uniformed services, whet even further that Allen in complaining about contract entrepreneurs like Grombach....."

Two paragraphs later (page 279)we read..."a loosely defined Central Intelligence Agency was established by law on July 26, 1947. The new agency assumed the functions of the galtering CIG, and absorbed the few OSS veterans remaining in the field - the PERSONAL NETWORKS (capital letters mine) NUTURED BY THE LIKES OF (RICHARD) HELMS and (JAMES JESUS) ANGLETON, who had been conserving their intelligence assets in Germany and Italy under the supervision of the War Department."

The use of the phrase "PERSONAL NETWORKS" says a lot considering the information that I am researching dealing with Helms at this time.

The second piece of information that I found most interesting upon cross checking Grombach in this context was on pages 405 - 408 of Grose's book. It deals with Dulles fight to maintain control of the U-2 within the hands of the CIA vs the Airforce. "General Curtis LeMay, chief of the Strategic Air Command and renowned in his day for tough-talking bravado, told a staff meeting, 'We'll let them develop it (the U-2) and then we'll take it away from them.' They tried; even a year later, in July 1955, as a prototype U-2 was checked out for its first test flight, Bissell warned Allen that the air force still had designs on the project. As the CIA men left the briefing room, Bissell remembers giving a final message to the director: 'Don't let Le-May get his cotton-picking fingers on the U-2.' Having brought his agency this far, Allen needed no such reminders."

"...Eisenhower had more confidence in the CIA than the Pentagon....

"Notably on the offense against CIA was Frenchie Grombach, pursuing his eight-year vendetta against the presumptuous civilian intelligence service. The agency, having tired of Grombach's flow of unevaluated barroom gossip, had canceled the contract that had kept him in business for the past three years, and he was seeking new buyers for the secrets uncovered by his private networks."

Grombach then passed information to "Major General Arthur Trudeau, an engineer and gifted battle commander from WWII and Korea, who had no particular background in intelligence. An admirer of MacArthur, he fell easily into his service's suspicions of CIA. Numerous reports were coming in from Grombach...Trudeau had asked the West German ambassador in Washington for an opportunity to discuss intelligence concerns with a couterpart from Bonn's armed forces... (Trudeau) was escirted into the embassy garden and introduced to the ambassador's house guest, Konrad Adenauer. Trudeau plunged in, confiding to the West German Chancellor his concers...and the dangers of NATO secrts being passed to Moscow. He pulled a packet of seven index cards from his uniform jacket and read out some of the derogatory reports coming in to military intelligence. Adenauer heard him out, then asked to have the general's cards for his own review.'

"Returning to Bonn, Adenauer and his aids went throug Trudeau's file cards with the local CIA station chief, James Critchfield, who recognized familiar half-baked accusations (from Grombach) that had already been checked out and dismisssed. He cabled a report to Allen, who reacted with a rate burst of outrage...at the audacity of the Pentagon general in passing unevaluated field reports, on his own initiative, to a foreign head of state. In July the new army chief of staff, GENERAL MAXWELL TAYLOR, summoned Trudeau for an explanation, and they went over the same seven index cards....A power struggle between a journeyman chidf of army intelligence and the revered head of the CIA was no contest at all, and within days Trudeau was transferred to another command in the Far East."

(I might point out that, according to Grose, six years later the information passed by Grombach to Trudeau/Adenhauer proved to be correct)

Private intelligence organizations controlled by the Grombachs, Helms and Angeltons of the world along with Military Intelligence infighting with CIA over projects like the U-2.......

What are we to make of this?

I will admit that this area is opening so many doors for me that it is overwelming my time and limited mental capabilities, It does seem that this long dusty trail that I am following continues to lead to the same people...McCloy, Taylor, Helms, Dulles, U-2, Signals Communications, etc., etc.

Thoughts about the Pond?

Jim Root

Edited by Jim Root
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  • 5 years later...

This doesn't have much to do with JFK except for maybe two details.

1. What I boldfaced in the paragraph.

2. Unless I missed it, Allen Dulles isn't mentioned once in the piece. Maybe that's not important though.

Kind of mind-blowing anyway.....

"Ruth Fischer, code-named "Alice Miller," was considered a key Pond agent for eight years, working under her cover as a correspondent, including for the North American Newspaper Alliance. She had been a leader of Germany's prewar Communist Party and was valuable to the Pond in the early years of the Cold War, pooling intelligence from Stalinists, Marxists and socialists in Europe, Africa and China, according to the newly released documents."

I wonder if Fischer knew Priscilla Johnson....Marina Oswald.....

Full article: http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/US-Spy-Agency-The-Pond/2010/07/29/id/366034

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Guest Tom Scully

Richard, you have brought this to the right place.

I recently attempted to bring near the top of the Forum list several previous threads I had started that came about as reflextions upon areas of my research over the past several years.

They are:

Oswald letter to SWP

CIA letter to David W. Belin

Did the "Big Fish" know

The "Raleigh Call"

Japanese linguist John Hurt

In addition a thread that I wrote some years ago that is posted in the JFK Seminars titled:


A few years ago James Richards introduced me to an OSS Operation that occured near the end of WWII. After 1000's of miles of travel and countless hours of research and interviews I have been able to piece together an interesting picture of an event that revolves around several names that are associated with the assassination of JFK and the investigation that was conducted leading to the Warren Commission Report.

Based upon information that I had gathered I began to suspect that I could identify the "cut-out" that Lee Harvey Oswald called just hours prior to his own death. The assassination research community refers to this call as the "Raleigh Call." Within the cache of material I was able to recover from the files of this suspect person were several documents which have provided me with a great deal of information and a few surprises. But it was not until I found a question that was asked 10 years ao in an article by Louis Kruh (Cryptologia, Oct. 1998) that I understood the answer that was sitting in front of me.

Kruh's article is titled "Another Herbert O. Yardley mystery?" and deals with a statement that can be found in John V. Grombach's book, "The Great Liquidator" (a book that contains some interesting information located in the center of the work). Grombach takes credit for being the Head of the Secret Intelligence Branch of the OSS, "I owe a great deal of credit to Major genreral Charles G. Stevenson, my executive officer in World War II, Colonerl John Bakeless, Colonel Walter D. O'Brien, Fletcher Pratt, Colonel Harry Ryan, Colonel George Converse, Colonel Donald Forster, HERBERT O. YARDLEY, Rosario Cadela - all members of the Secret Intelligence Branch, which I directed from January 2, 1942 to January 1, 1955, for the War and State Departments."

Herbert O. Yardley was the head of the American "Black Chamber" (Code Breaking Group) until it was disbanded. He was considered the primeir American code breaker of his time but his organization was replaced by William Friedman's team of cryptologists (of which John B. Hurt and Frank Rowlett were both original members).

John Grombach's organization in outlined in an article by Mark Strout written for the CIA titled, "The Pond: Running Agents for the State, War, and the CIA" so I will not attempt to describe it in to much detail here. But let me point out that in January of 1942, John J. McCloy was in charge of all intelligence activities in the War Department putting Grombach's organization under his control. Grombach, deepending upon how one wishes to read into the information, would be used to save McCloy from later being investigated by Congress during the McCarthy period (but that is a separete story).

First contridiction: Whitney Shepardson, the man who started the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), claimed credit as being the man in charge of the Secret Intelligence (SI), in his bio that is found in the CFR website. Shepardson's postition is also mentioned in Bill Donovan's bio as being the head of SI as well. Leaving us with a contridiction of the CIA placing Grombach in charge and Shepardson and Donovan placing Shepardson in charge.

Grombach's background was in radio, radio transmissions and interceptions. He wrote a paper that described how commercial radio broadcasts could be used to transfer intelligence to agents in the field during the 1930's. Shepardson would, along with Demitri De Morhrenschildt (brother of George De Mohrenschildt) begin Radio Free Europe (Radio Liberty) to whom Lee Harvey Oswald would send a note to relating that he could pick up their broadcasts while in Russia). But I digress....

In the cache of material that I recently uncovered we find Whitney Shepardson bringing together the 'old boys' from the Stockholm OSS station in June of 1959, just months prior to Oswald's entry into the Soviet Union from Helsinki.

Second Conridiction: Shepardson does not refer to the OSS Station in Helsinki by that name. He refers to the mission as the SI Stockholm Station. With a little research we find that Donavon does not refer to the Stockholm Station in his OSS memoirs. Several recent articles tie the Stockholm Station to Grombach organization mentioning names found in the cache of papers that I recovered.

More importantly though is the FACT that Richard Helms is a player within this group and seems to be coordinating the collection of information in June of 1959. It seems an easy connection....Richard Helms was a working member of "The Pond" whose boss (Grombach) had a codebreaker working a parellel code breaking operation from Friedman's group that became the NSA. Stockholm station ran Operation Stella Polaris which leads to the breaking of Soviet Codes and Helms was a player in that operation. Another player in Stella Polaris, the man who got the ball rolling so to speak, is John B. Hurt.

In Allen Dulles biography Richard Helms is mentioned as a man who continued to maintain his private intelligence organization even as he worked for the CIA! Was Helm's operating Grombach's organization? We know that offficially Grombach's organization continued till 1955 but I have gathered information that suggests that it continued as a private organization for years after. Grombach, as an Olympic official was in a great posititon to travel the world, into any country, with total and complete diplomatic immunity....an ideal situation for a person to continue to operate a contract spy agency.

Every step of Oswald's life (begining with a letter to the SWP which may well have been intercepted by the CIA mail opening program ran in part by Richard Helms) seems to have been monitored by Richard Helms. After the assassiantion of Kennedy and the death of Oswald, the chief coverup man is once again Richard Helms who withheld information from the begining. Most importantly for myself is FBI agent Hosty's third note which stated exactly where LHO was working yet has never appeared on any CIA list of documents in there possession while we know for a fact that Hosty's previous two notes made it to the office of Richard Helms.

I have a great deal of detail information that it is difficult to put into a simple thread on this forum but I would like to open this discussion to see what questions it generates from other forum members.

Thank You,

Jim Root

Newsmax, the source of your link, is not a news organization and its founder, Ruddy, is a Ken Starr clone, backed by Scaife. I have posted about

Newsmax board member, De Borchgrave. De Borchgrave is the son of "head of Belgium's military intelligence for the government-in-exile during World War II,"


......''Presidents come and go,'' President Clinton said today. ''But Helen's been here for 40 years now.''

Ms. Thomas, 79, said in a statement released by U.P.I.: ''I do not intend to stay. United Press International is a great news agency. It has made a remarkable mark in the annals of American journalism and has left a superb legacy for future journalists. I wish the new owners all the best, great stories and happy landings.''

Ms. Thomas's statement said nothing about U.P.I.'s acquisition by News World Communications Inc., which was founded by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, leader of the Unification Church. News World Communications publishes The Washington Times, a favorite of conservative readers in Washington.

Both Mr. de Borchgrave and News World Communications said U.P.I. would continue to have editorial independence under the new ownership. U.P.I. said Ms. Thomas planned to pursue new ventures. Ms. Thomas could not be reached for comment.

But Lee Michael Katz, who quit today as U.P.I.'s international editor, said he was not surprised by Ms. Thomas's departure and had no doubt about the reasons. ''Look at the timing of this, and Helen's devotion,'' Mr. Katz said.

Mr. Katz called his own decision to resign ''a no-brainer'' and said, ''I cannot work for the new owners.''....

Miss Ritschel Bride I Of Magazine EditorI

New York Times - Apr 1, 1959
The best man was Osborn Elliott. Mr. de Borchgrave is a senior editor at Newsweek magazine. Formerly a foreign correspondent for Newsweek in Europe , Africa

The news media--a service and a force - Page 26
Howard Kingsbury Smith, Osborn Elliott, A. Merriman Smith - 1970

.....As it happened, Newsweek's chief reporter on the trial had spent literally thousands of man-
hours investigating the assassination itself and was considered a leading authority on the events that
followed. He had witnessed the assassination from close to the Texas School Book Depository and joined
the chase for Lee Harvey Oswald. He interviewed several of the witnesses at the Tippitt murder scene
and was in the Texas Theatre watching when Oswald was apprehended. He was just a few feet from Jack
Ruby when he shot Oswald, and he later interviewed Oswald's widow several times. It was he who
uncovered Oswald's Russian diary in mid-1964.
He covered the entire Ruby trial and was the only
reporter inside at Ruby's funeral. In short, quite an expert— and someone that District Attorney Jim
Garrison was anxious to enlist on his side. But this reporter soon became convinced that Garrison had
no case whatsoever, and he made it his business to publicize this fact......

Associated Press distributed the 2010 report, and in this version, the AP reporters are named.:


updated 7/29/2010 2:09:


CIA didn't think much of the Pond
On April 15, 1953, Grombach wrote that the idea behind his network was to use "observers" who would build long-term relationships and produce far more valuable information than spies who bought secrets. "Information was to be rarely, if ever, bought, and there were to be no paid professional operators; as it later turned out some of the personnel not only paid their own expenses but actually advanced money for the organization's purposes."

The CIA, for its part, didn't think much of the Pond. It concluded that the organization was uncooperative, especially since the outfit refused to divulge its sources, complicating efforts to evaluate their reports. In an August 1952 letter giving notice that the CIA intended to terminate the contract, agency chief Gen. Walter Bedell Smith wrote that "our analysis of the reports provided by this organization has convinced us that its unevaluated product is not worth the cost." It took until 1955 to completely unwind the relationship.

Mark Stout, a former intelligence officer and historian for the International Spy Museum in Washington, analyzed the newly released papers and said it isn't clear how important the Pond was to U.S. intelligence-gathering as a whole. "But they were making some real contributions," he said.

Matthew Aid, an intelligence historian and author of "The Secret Sentry: The Untold History of the National Security Agency" who has reviewed some of the collection, said there was no evidence the Pond's reports made their way to decision-makers. "I'm still not convinced that Grombach's organization was a worthwhile endeavor in World War II and even less so when it went off the books," he said.

What it may have lacked in quality and influence, however, the Pond certainly made up with chutzpah.

One of the outfit's most unusual informers was a French serial killer named Marcel Petiot, Grombach wrote in a 1980 book.

The Secret Intelligence Branch, as he referred to the Pond, began receiving reports from Petiot during the war. He was a physician in Paris who regularly treated refugees, businessmen and Gestapo agents, but he also had a predilection for killing mostly wealthy Jews and burning their bodies in a basement furnace in his soundproofed house. He was convicted of 26 murders and guillotined in 1946.....

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