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CIA thought Jim Garrison would get a conviction against Clay Shaw

John Simkin

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Researchers might be interested in this CIA memorandum signed by Wistar Janney on 20th September, 1967. Its importance becomes more clear if you know the back story of Raymond Rocca.

1. Executive Director said that the Director had asked him to convene a group to consider the possible implications for the Agency emanating from New Orleans before, during, and after the trial of Clay Shaw.

2. General Counsel discussed his dealings with Justice and the desire of Shaw's lawyers to make contact with the Agency.

3. Raymond Rocca felt that Garrison would indeed obtain a conviction of Shaw for conspiring to assassinate President Kennedy.

4. Executive Director said the group should level on two objectives: (i) what kind of action, if any, is available to the Agency, and (ii) what actions should be taken inside the Agency to reassure the Director that we have the problem in focus. The possibility of Agency action should be examined from the timing of what can be done before the trial and what might be feasible during and after the trial. It was agreed that OCC and Rocca would make a detailed study of all the facts and consult with Justice as appropriate prior to the next group meeting.

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John, I discuss that and a series of follow on CIA Garrison meetings in SWHT. As it turned out the CIA spent a huge amount of legal effort on figuring out how it would protect its employees from subpoena and also went ballistic about the names of its true assets that Garrison turned over. One of the problems was that it was coming up with names that had been on Cuban infiltration and exfiltration missions and could have revealed a good deal of Agency operational information. They could also have exposed the CIA training base in La used for the BOP preparations. About the only thing worse ffrom and operational standpoint would have been a comparable investigation by a DA in Miami. Of course Angleton also initiated his own CI effort against everybody Garrison was coming up with - clearly a domestic intelligence violation.

Strangely enough though, in the end it was the FBI who worked directly and illegally with Shaw's legal staff, assisted by some of their standard former FBI private investigation companies - always willing to be helpful of course.

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The Wistar Janney memo states “Rocca felt that Garrison would indeed obtain a conviction of Shaw for conspiring to assassinate President Kennedy”. It might interest the group to know the back story of Raymond Rocca.

Rocca is a very interesting character. He was born on 22nd February, 1917. He attended the University of California at Berkeley and received his doctorate in 1942. During the Second World War he worked in the Analytical Section of the Foreign Broadcast Intelligence Service.

In April 1944, he joined the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). Rocca joined the Italian section of X-2 CI (Counter Intelligence). His boss was James Jesus Angleton. In October, 1944, Angleton was transferred to Rome as commanding officer of Special Counter-Intelligence Unit Z. Rocca was appointed as his senior staff officer. The two men were to remain close friends for the next thirty years.

In December, 1954, Allen Dulles, the new director of the CIA, appointed Angleton as the first chief of the CIA's newly created Counter-Intelligence Staff. Angleton selected Rocca as his head of the staff's new Research and Analysis Department.

James Jesus Angleton spent his time protecting the security of CIA operations through research and careful analysis of incoming information. "The task meant that considerable amounts of paper must be acquired, read, digested, filed, and refiled. Ironically, although Angleton had helped develop the CIA's central registry (where names, reports, and cases were indexed), his staff had one of the worst records of any CIA component for contributing data into the main system after 1955. This was because of Angleton's obsession with secrecy and his inability to trust the security of the CIA's main filing system. He believed there was nothing to prevent someone from stealing from the CIA's storehouse of secrets. Keeping the best files to himself also helped consolidate his bureaucratic power." Tom Mangold, Cold Warrior: James Jesus Angleton: The CIA's Master Spy Hunter (1991) page 54

The only man Angleton shared this information with was Raymond Rocca. It is therefore possible that Rocca’s comments are based on Angleton’s secret files.

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Can anyone speculate on whether Ray Rocca was predicting a conviction based on any of Garrison's known evidence at the time of Rocca's opinion, rather than Rocca projecting the conviction based on the Agency's guilty knowledge?

There is no real evidence that Ray Rocca was involved in illegal operations. However, his boss, James Jesus Angleton, definitely was. Angleton also received notification of other illegal acts being committed by the CIA. These documents were retained by Angleton and never found the way into the CIA records. Only Angleton and Rocca had access to these documents. They were destroyed when both men were forced to resign by William Colby when Seymour Hersh exposed Angleton's illegal activities in December 1973. If the CIA were involved in the assassination of JFK, Angleton and Rocca would definitely have known about it. Maybe, Rocca had seen Angleton's files concerning Clay Shaw's involvement. I would have thought that Rocca was mainly concerned about Shaw's connections with those who had been involved in the assassination.

However, the main point is that any document that shows CIA involvement in the assassination ceased to exist many years ago.

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