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Corroboration for Hunt's deathbed confession?


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While browsing through a book store a few months back, I decided to pick up something that (I thought) had nothing to do with my JFK research. I picked up a book entitled The Mob and Me, about the exploits of wiseguys in the Federal Witness Protection Program, told by one of the creators of the program, John Partington. The book was easy reading, filled with lots of insight into the lives of its characters.

One detail in particular stood out, however. Partington had not only led the protection details of some famous mobsters, but of E. Howard Hunt, during Watergate. On page 216, he relates: "A couple of my marshals tried to pry information from the taciturn Hunt. There was plenty of gossip that he knew who was behind the slaying of John F. Kennedy. He never directly made any accusations but obliquely referenced the CIA and Lyndon Baines Johnson. Badly damaged by the Bay of Pigs fiasco, the CIA in turn blamed JFK for a lack of guts in rejecting a Cuban invasion to oust Castro. Hunt made no bones about the fact that he felt JFK was too faint of heart in pulling the punches on the mission and said JFK probably got what he deserved."

The book then relates that after Hunt's death his son wrote an article describing a deathbed confession in which Hunt blamed the killing on the CIA and Johnson.

Now, here's where it gets weird. News of Hunt's deathbed confession came out in 2007. Partington's book came out in 2010. So, it seems possible he added the bit about Hunt in after hearing the news about the deathbed confession.

EXCEPT...Partington died in 2006. He couldn't possibly have heard the news of the confession prior to his death. So, was this just added in by the writer tasked with finishing his book?

I don't know. The book is attributed to Partington WITH former Rhode Island Attorney General Arlene Violet. It seems hard to believe Ms. Violet would make up Hunt's "obliquely referencing" the CIA and Johnson if this wasn't mentioned in her source materials...which, in turn, suggests Partington said Hunt blamed Johnson and the CIA BEFORE word of Hunt's deathbed confession reached the public.

I suppose, then, that the next step is to track down Violet, and find out if her source materials, created BEFORE Hunt's deathbed confession, support this analysis. Correct?

P.S. I just watched a youtube video of Violet in which she explained that she worked with Partington in the writing of the book, and didn't just finish his book. This makes it even less likely, IMO, that she would just invent Hunt's "oblique references" to the assassination. She was also a former nun, a true Sister of Mercy. Hmmm...

Edited by Pat Speer
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Guest Robert Morrow

While browsing through a book store a few months back, I decided to pick up something that (I thought) had nothing to do with my JFK research. I picked up a book entitled The Mob and Me, about the exploits of wiseguys in the Federal Witness Protection Program, told by one of the creators of the program, John Partington. The book was easy reading, filled with lots of insight into the lives of its characters.

One detail in particular stood out, however. Partington had not only led the protection details of some famous mobsters, but of E. Howard Hunt, during Watergate. On page 216, he relates: "A couple of my marshals tried to pry information from the taciturn Hunt. There was plenty of gossip that he knew who was behind the slaying of John F. Kennedy. He never directly made any accusations but obliquely referenced the CIA and Lyndon Baines Johnson. Badly damaged by the Bay of Pigs fiasco, the CIA in turn blamed JFK for a lack of guts in rejecting a Cuban invasion to oust Castro. Hunt made no bones about the fact that he felt JFK was too faint of heart in pulling the punches on the mission and said JFK probably got what he deserved."

The book then relates that after Hunt's death his son wrote an article describing a deathbed confession in which Hunt blamed the killing on the CIA and Johnson.

Now, here's where it gets weird. News of Hunt's deathbed confession came out in 2007. Partington's book came out in 2010. So, it seems possible he added the bit about Hunt in after hearing the news about the deathbed confession.

EXCEPT...Partington died in 2006. He couldn't possibly have heard the news of the confession prior to his death. So, was this just added in by the writer tasked with finishing his book?

I don't know. The book is attributed to Partington WITH former Rhode Island Attorney General Arlene Violet. It seems hard to believe Ms. Violet would make up Hunt's "obliquely referencing" the CIA and Johnson if this wasn't mentioned in her source materials...which, in turn, suggests Partington said Hunt blamed Johnson and the CIA BEFORE word of Hunt's deathbed confession reached the public.

I suppose, then, that the next step is to track down Violet, and find out if her source materials, created BEFORE Hunt's deathbed confession, support this analysis. Correct?

Track her down and ask her.

William Sullivan's book on the FBI was printed posthumously. Here is one of the nuggets Sullivan had:

William Sullivan, the #4 man at the FBI, describes a high level FBI meeting in spring, 1968. "Hoover was not present, and Clyde Tolson [FBI #2 and Hoover's boyfriend] was presiding in his absence. I was one of eight men who heard Tolson respond to the mention of [RFK's] name by saying, 'I hope someone shoots and kills the son of a bitch.' This was five or six weeks before the California primary."

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While browsing through a book store a few months back, I decided to pick up something that (I thought) had nothing to do with my JFK research. I picked up a book entitled The Mob and Me, about the exploits of wiseguys in the Federal Witness Protection Program, told by one of the creators of the program, John Partington. The book was easy reading, filled with lots of insight into the lives of its characters.

One detail in particular stood out, however. Partington had not only led the protection details of some famous mobsters, but of E. Howard Hunt, during Watergate. On page 216, he relates: "A couple of my marshals tried to pry information from the taciturn Hunt. There was plenty of gossip that he knew who was behind the slaying of John F. Kennedy. He never directly made any accusations but obliquely referenced the CIA and Lyndon Baines Johnson. Badly damaged by the Bay of Pigs fiasco, the CIA in turn blamed JFK for a lack of guts in rejecting a Cuban invasion to oust Castro. Hunt made no bones about the fact that he felt JFK was too faint of heart in pulling the punches on the mission and said JFK probably got what he deserved."

The book then relates that after Hunt's death his son wrote an article describing a deathbed confession in which Hunt blamed the killing on the CIA and Johnson.

Now, here's where it gets weird. News of Hunt's deathbed confession came out in 2007. Partington's book came out in 2010. So, it seems possible he added the bit about Hunt in after hearing the news about the deathbed confession.

EXCEPT...Partington died in 2006. He couldn't possibly have heard the news of the confession prior to his death. So, was this just added in by the writer tasked with finishing his book?

I don't know. The book is attributed to Partington WITH former Rhode Island Attorney General Arlene Violet. It seems hard to believe Ms. Violet would make up Hunt's "obliquely referencing" the CIA and Johnson if this wasn't mentioned in her source materials...which, in turn, suggests Partington said Hunt blamed Johnson and the CIA BEFORE word of Hunt's deathbed confession reached the public.

I suppose, then, that the next step is to track down Violet, and find out if her source materials, created BEFORE Hunt's deathbed confession, support this analysis. Correct?

Mr. Speer

Very interesting. Good work.

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Pat, I wish you luck in tracking down the lead...but its important to remember that Hunt had been making "oblique" references to having insider knowledge of the assassination for years before the so called death bed confession. I discuss this briefly in Chapter 20 of SWHT and David Giamarco presented for almost 2 hours on his and Kevin Costner's offer and attempt to get Hunt on record for literally years before his death. Indeed what he told his son was simply what he had been "shopping" to them for some time - at first for money and later for their agreement to fund his putting it in a book. Problem was he could never offer anything solid in the way of corroboration.

I only offer this to point out that the death bed confession was far from unique and Hunt had been talking to a variety of folks about having valuable knowledge - worth a million dollars - on the Kennedy assassination. And of course naming the CIA and Johnson as principals had been bandied about for decades.

-- color me skeptical of Mr. Hunt...its too bad Giamarco's story isn't available in print but a room ful of folks heard the details he provided, Larry

I probably should add a qualification to the above, certainly I'm not arguing the point that David Morales was involved in the conspiracy nor that Hunt had some valid insights into the assassination, what I'm trying to point out is that would be far different from his "death bed" confession story and how that came about - which relates to his multi-year shopping of the story to Giamarco and Costner. In that story Hunt was very specific about how Morales recruited him, how he turned Morales down and just walked away from him, etc. Its the specific "death bed" confession scenario that I'm addressing here...

Edited by Larry Hancock
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Thanks, Larry. I agree that Hunt's latter-day claims can't be swallowed whole. But Partington is a bit different, in that he'd had no contact with Hunt after the Watergate period. IF Hunt was hinting to people in 1973 and 74 that the CIA and LBJ had killed JFK, that would explain a whole lot, including Nixon's using Hunt to threaten the CIA, and have them help cover up that the break-in was done for political reasons. It might also explain Haldeman's belief that Nixon's reference to the "Bay of Pigs thing" was code for the JFK assassination.

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Can't argue that at all Pat, will be quite interesting to see what Hunt might actually be suggesting that early. As to the Bay of Pigs thing, I've always had a bit different view. I suspect that Nixon was very well aware that there had been talk and perhaps more than talk about assassinating Castro. Given his pre-JFK administration position he may well have picked up further gossip about those efforts. And we know Hunt had suggested the same thing and had been assured it was being taken care of.,.. Given Nixon's concern for political dirt, I can certainly see his being concerned about just what Hunt might provide the media on Castro assassiantion plans and even on the Operation 40 effort. That's a particularly nasty little tid bid given the existence of black lists and targeted political eliminations.

-- speculative of course but I think an alternative for the "Bay of Pigs" thing...

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One source for research on this matter may be "Bond of Secrecy: My Life with CIA Spy and Watergate Conspirator E. Howard Hunt" by Saint John Hunt. There are interesting bits and pieces on this issue scattered throughout the work. For example, on pages 125-126 there is a quote from a handwritten memo to St. John from his father in which Hunt describes his conversations with Frank Sturgis when they were both incarcerated in Danbury Federal Prison after Watergate. In the paragraph before the quote Eric Hamburg, who wrote the Afterword, prefaces the quote by saying in connection with the audio tape that accompanied the handwritten memo, "Of course, Hunt could have been minimizing his role [in the JFK assassination], as might be expected of a career spook."

In his handwritten memo to St. John that accompanies his audio tape, Hunt added this: "Like the rest of the country, NADA [Hunt] is stunned at JFKs death and realizes how lucky he is not to have a direct role. In Danbury federal prison [after Watergate], Epsilon [sturgis] and NADA [Hunt] reflect on the 'Big Event.' Oswald is dead so the feds have nobody to prosecute. Epsilon [sturgis] speculates that Jack Ruby was selected to kill Oswald by the mob. Epsilon [sturgis] reveals that one of the Dallas shooters was a foreigner." Hamburg goes on to write that "Hunt informed St. John and me that the foreigner was a French Corsican gunman named Sarti. This could have only been Lucien Sarti, as Hunt suggests in American Spy."

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