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John Curington interview


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I have an interview of John Curington, aide to Dallas oilman H.L. Hunt. Curington says the night before Ruby shot Oswald, HL Hunt had him, Curington, go to the Dallas police station and get the layout of the inside of the building and security information, then relay that information, that night, to local Dallas mobster Joseph Civello.

"Billionaire Logic and the Fate of JFK: Interview with John Curington, Right-hand Man and Attorney to H.L. Hunt of Dallas, Texas (the Richest Man in the World in 1963), Concerning the Assassination of President Kennedy". https://www.academia.edu/37779052/BILLIONAIRE_LOGIC_AND_THE_FATE_OF_JFK_Interview_with_John_Curington_Right-hand_Man_and_Attorney_to_H.L._Hunt_of_Dallas_Texas_the_Richest_Man_in_the_World_in_1963_Concerning_the_Assassination_of_President_Kennedy._2018_ .

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There was a Dallas newspaper article that mentioned that Joseph Civello had visited Ruby in the Hospital (where I think he was being held under observation) shortly after he had killed Oswald.

I understood the moment I read this that it was a "message" to any local witnesses to keep their mouths shut and that Ruby had done the deed for the mob.

Thanks for the great interview, Greg.

p.s. I wonder if Marina's visit to H.L. Hunt is the reason her testimony seemed to change over time?

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Chris N., I am not as knowledgeable as some here but I think it was Joe Campisi who was the friend and visitor of Ruby in jail immediately following the killing of Oswald (I don't recall Ruby being in a hospital until much later). Campisi, a restauranteer, was maybe #2 or #3 resident mobster below #1 Civello in Dallas. 

However Civello was not only linked to Ruby but someone on the Warren Commission appears to have intentionally altered a document publication to conceal that. From David Scheim, Contract on America (1988), 98-99, with attention to the final two paragraphs below.

“In an FBI interview on January 14, 1964, [Dallas Mob boss Joseph] Civello stated that he had known [Jack] Ruby casually ‘for about ten years.’ Like fellow Mafioso Joseph Campisi, however, Civello was being modest about the extent of his association with Ruby.

“The Ruby-Civello relationship was illuminated by Bobby Gene Moore, who grew up in Dallas and worked for Ruby at various times between 1952 and 1956 as a pianist in the Vegas Club. After the assassination, Moore was prompted to contact the FBI by a statement on television that his former employer had no gangster connections. He was interviewed by agents on November 26, 1963 in Oakland, California.

“Moore told the FBI of deals involving Ruby, two Dallas policemen, and local underworld figures; several of his allegations were verified years later by arrests for the activities he described. But most interesting was Moore’s report about an Italian importing company at 3400 Ross Avenue in Dallas, where Moore was employed during the early 1950s. Moore was characteristically accurate when he told the FBI he suspected that his employers, Joseph ‘Cirello’ and Frank LaMonte, might have been importing narcotics. For the Dallas directory listed the store at 3400 Ross Avenue to a brother of Mafia boss Joseph Civello. The Joseph “Cirello” transcribed by the FBI was thus Joseph Civello, whose business fronts included import-export, olive oil and cheese, and whose criminal activities did in fact include narcotics dealings.

“Given Civello’s top Mob status, an additional statement of Moore is quite significant. Moore told the FBI in his November 1963 interview that Ruby was ‘a frequent visitor and associate of Cirello and LaMonte.’ Interviewed in 1964 by the FBI, LaMonte admitted having known Ruby since the early 1950s, further corroborating Moore’s assertions. Additional confirmation was provided by author Ovid Demaris, who reported that Civello told him, ‘Yeah, I knew Jack—we were friends and I used to go to his club.’

“Bobby Gene Moore’s FBI interview, spanning two pages in National Archives files, was published by the Warren Commission as Exhibit 1536. But the Commission’s published version gave no inkling of Ruby’s frequent visits with Dallas Mafia boss Joseph Civello. Also excluded was Moore’s expressed belief that Ruby ‘was connected with the underworld in Dallas.’

“In fact, the entire second page of the original National Archives report was omitted in Commission Exhibit 1536. And three paragraphs of the original’s first page, mentioning Joseph ‘Cirello,’ were blanked out from an otherwise perfect photocopy of that page. In this fashion, with seven of the original nine paragraphs omitted or excised, Moore’s account became almost compatible with the Warren Commission’s denial of a ‘significant link between Ruby and organized crime.’”

On pp. 174-175 of the Scheim book, a visually striking comparison can be seen of photographs side by side of the complete version of the FBI interview in the National Archives, and the earlier published shortened version in the Warren Commission Exhibit with final paragraphs inexplicably missing.

This unmarked deletion of those paragraphs--through photocopying and whiteout undetectable to a reader of the WC Exhibit--agrees with Warren Commission tendenz in other cases. For example, I noticed that the very name of Carlos Marcello of New Orleans, believed to control Dallas and Civello, I noticed does not even appear in the index of the WC report. Curington's account of his middle-of-the-night in-person visit to Civello, on instruction from Hunt, to give Civello intelligence after casing the police station's physical security, hours before Ruby killed Oswald the next morning in that building, also is not in the WC report but that would be because Curington's story was not known prior to 1977. 

Incidentally, speaking strictly conjecturally on my own here, I would not consider Hunt's action that evening with tasking Curington to assist Civello with finding information in this way, per Curington's account, as necessarily meaning Hunt would have been directly involved in the killing of either JFK or Oswald. There are independent reasons to suppose there was Mob intent to kill Oswald, and it is easy to imagine Hunt via Curington responding to or offering Civello (with whom Hunt otherwise was friendly, per Curington) that form of assistance, without necessarily implying further culpability (beyond knowledge that some kind of hit of Oswald looked like it may be in the works, though the reason why such information was sought need not have been asked or told). Nor is it clear that the information Curington provided Civello, per Curington, was or was not used in the Ruby killing of Oswald.

Curington simply tells his story; it was first reported in a National Enquirer interview of Curington in 1977; National Enquirer claimed in their 1977 story that they verified that the arrested person Curington said he went to visit that evening as his cover for being at the Dallas city jail, was in the jail that evening; Curington was Hunt's aide as he says he was; it is consistent with other known and independent indicators of Ruby/Mob, Ruby/Civello, and Ruby/intent-to-kill-Oswald; and I saw no indication that Curington was fabricating this story. It has not received much attention, relatively speaking, I assume because it was not picked up by either of the two major investigations (WC, and House Select Committee on Assassinations) nor featured in Garrison's, and because Curington has lived mostly in obscurity.

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10 hours ago, Chris Newton said:

There was a Dallas newspaper article that mentioned that Joseph Civello had visited Ruby in the Hospital (where I think he was being held under observation) shortly after he had killed Oswald.

I understood the moment I read this that it was a "message" to any local witnesses to keep their mouths shut and that Ruby had done the deed for the mob.

Thanks for the great interview, Greg.

p.s. I wonder if Marina's visit to H.L. Hunt is the reason her testimony seemed to change over time?

Hi Chris, great to see you post, as always relevant.  I think Greg is right about Campisi vs Civello visiting Ruby in jail.  This is from memory though I re read part of it in the last year.

If I remember right no one came to visit Ruby in jail after his arrest for several days.  Not his sister Eva in Dallas, employee's, not "friend's".  Becoming despondent after his "heroic killing of the president's killer" so to speak,  he espoused his worries to jailers or deputy sheriff's.  Sheriff Decker then contacted Campisi on Jack's behalf regarding his deteriorating state of mind (relating to the "official" story?) .  Campisi brought along his wife for cover.

Jmho but Campisi reminded him we will take care of Eva and the rest of your family, we will pay lawyers (which somebody did), we'll take care of you, we'll get you off in the end.  So keep your trap shut, or else.  Which did send a message to others as well. 

Which worked until Warren rebuffed him, he was then convicted of murder and Jolly West came along.

Edited by Ron Bulman
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Chris N., on the Marina visit to HL Hunt, if Curington's account of the HL Hunt/Civello interaction the night before Oswald was killed is correct, Hunt either knew or played a contributing role in Oswald being hit. I interpret it as Hunt would meet to give money or set up some financial arrangement for the widow, and the reason for the personal meeting, as Curington speculated, was for Hunt to see what Marina thought or knew.

That HL Hunt had some idea of the truth of what had happened with JFK--whether or not he knew specifics--is the interpretation of Curington as reported in the 1977 National Enquirer story (http://jfk.hood.edu/Collection/Weisberg Subject Index Files/C Disk/Currington John W/Item 01.pdf ).

"When the Warren Commission was established, Hunt made sure he knew its every move, said Curington. 'H. L. was very interested in the Warren Commission investigation', he said. 'We had an intelligence system set up so that we received daily reports from Washington on the commission's activities.'

"In 1967, Curington said, Hunt told his senior aides he knew there was a conspiracy to assassinate JFK and that Oswald did not act alone.

"Hunt stressed this belief in a remarkable conversation with several top aides four years after the assassination, said Walter Tabaka, 56, a Washington lobbyist for Hunt for nine years.  Tabaka recalled:

"'One of us suggested to Hunt that he put up a $100,000 reward for any information leading to the Kennedy assassination. Hunt said, 'If I do that I'll be a marked man within 48 hours.'

"'I said, "Mr. Hunt, do you mean there was a conspiracy?" His two words were, "sure was".' 

"Curington told The Enquirer, 'This was confirmation for me that Hunt didn't just think there was a conspiracy--he knew.'"

This would be parallel to the recounting of Curington at the end of my interview, of HL Hunt's refusal to assist Garrison financially in Garrison's attempt to solve the JFK case. 

Edited by Greg Doudna
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Dallas Don Joe Civello was powerful and respected enough to be invited to the 1957 "Apalachin" meeting of the top members of organized crime in the U.S. including a few members from Cuba and Italy.

Civello was among the 60 meeting members who were caught, detained, questioned and fined by the state police there after they raided the meeting.

Others managed to run away through the open country around this estate meeting place.

Joe Campisi was known as the #2 Mafia man in Dallas.

Sounds as if New Orleans based Mafia Don Carlos Marcello had more power than Civello though, even in Texas.

 

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Ron Ecker, on the "Dear Mr. Hunt" letter, the 1977 National Enquirer article (6/14/77) reported that Curington gave a copy of that letter to the FBI to investigate, and the FBI made the letter public.

"Curington recently turned over to the FBI a copy of a letter that he's convinced was written by Oswald to H. L. Hunt. After questioning Curington for several hours, the FBI made the letter public. 

"The handwritten letter--dated Nov. 8, 1963, exactly two weeks before the assassination--states: "Dear Mr. Hunt, I would like information concerning my position. I am asking only for information. I suggest we discuss the matter fully before any steps are taken by me or anyone else. Thank you, Lee Harvey Oswald."

"Three handwriting analysts--all certified with the International Graphoanalysis Society--certified that 'the letter is the authentic writing of Lee Harvey Oswald and was written by him'."

I have read the documents of the FBI investigation of that letter, including the FBI interview of Curington and other relevant persons, on the Mary Ferrell Foundation website (they can be found at that site starting p. 17 at "Admin Folder-N2: HSCA Administrative Folder, 1/27/77 Inquiry, R#6330). The FBI investigation documents trace the origin of the letter to its mailing from Mexico City to three JFK assassination researchers, one of whom, Penn Jones of Midland, TX, showed it to a Dallas reporter who asked Curington for his opinion about it. Curington then brought the letter to the attention of an official in the Dallas Internal Revenue Intelligence Division with whom Curington was in an informant relationship, and the IRS official in turn reported it to the FBI, and then the letter became public and the FBI did its investigation. To my knowledge there is no evidence of the existence of this letter before the mailing of the copies from Mexico City in 1976. An early story from 1977 on the three handwriting analysts' assessment that the writing was Oswald's is here: http://jfk.hood.edu/Collection/Weisberg Subject Index Files/O Disk/Oswald Lee Harvey Mexico/014.pdf. In 1983 a Soviet-bloc spy chief defecting to the UK claimed that the letter had been a Soviet forgery intended to implicate E. Howard Hunt of CIA and Watergate fame (not H.L. Hunt) as part of Cold War disinformation, in Andrews and Mitrokin, The Sword and the Shield. 

Curington today, and in his recent book, Motive and Opportunity (2018), gives an account of the "Dear Mr. Hunt" letter which differs on the timing. Curington claimed to me that the letter was shown to H. L. Hunt., by him, Curington, personally, in 1963. (And H. L. Hunt died in 1974.) Curington told me the letter was delivered anonymously, left on the desk of a secretary at the Hunt Oil offices, in the days or weeks immediately following the JFK assassination. Curington says the letter came to him, he showed the letter to H. L. Hunt, and Hunt said give it to the FBI, which Curington says he did. 

Curington says H. L. Hunt never knew or had contact with Oswald and that he and Hunt assumed the letter was one of many crank type of letters that came their way. Therefore although the main point of Curington's book is basically a circumstantial case drawing from his experiences that H. L. Hunt was involved in if not a prime mover in the assassinations of JFK, MLK, and RFK, this particular document--which would be made to order in support of his argument--Curington rejects. 

Here is Curington's present (2018) published account, as told to writer Mitchel Whitington (Motive and Opportunity, 120-122):

"Let me say again that I'm not interested in addressing all of the conspiracy theories surrounding hte JFK assassination that involve--or clear--H.L. Hunt. But there has been a lot of discussion and speculation over the years about a letter that Lee Harvey Oswald supposedly wrote to Mr. Hunt, and because that theoretically involves him directly, I thought that I would mention it. A letter surfaced during the investigation into the Kennedy assassination that simply read: <text of letter>.

"This letter showed up in our interoffice mail system after the assassination, and that in and of itself wasn't peculiar. The 1960s were a more innocent age; people will find the stories in this book of getting on an airplane with a briefcase full of money or using an airline ticket in someone else's name to be altogether unbelievable. In reality, the idea of security was nothing even close to what it is today. By the same token, people would often drop off an envelope at the front desk of Hunt Oil, and it would get put into the mail system for delivery to the addressee. That is exactly how the 'Dear Mr. Hunt' letter came in, and since it did, in fact, involve Mr. Hunt, and did, in fact, suggest a meeting with Oswald, we elected to turn it over to the FBI and never saw it again. In private, Mr. Hunt did raise the question as to whether Lee Harvey Oswald could be a Life Line listener, something that I think might have been a concern for him.

"This letter has become legendary over the years. Some say it came from an anonymous source, or from Mexico, or from this person or that. It has been said that it was definitely written by Oswald because o[f] one particular curlicue on a letter, or that it couldn't have been written by Oswald because of another paritcular curlicue on another letter. Personally, I have no idea whether it was written by Oswald or not. I only know that it showed up in our office and we gave it to the FBI. What they did with it, or how they funneled it to whoever is something that I have no idea about."

I questioned Curington about the discrepancy in timing with the FBI interview report of him. According to the FBI interview report, they asked Curington (and others) if they had ever seen the letter prior to their recent receipt of it in 1976-1977, and, according to the FBI interview report, Curington answered he had not. I sent Curington a copy of the interview report, which I do not think until then he had any idea existed. His book had not gone to press and I urged Curington to recheck his facts and memory on this point because it was important (as to the timing), and  if he had perchance erred in his memory to get it corrected before his book went to press (it had not yet gone to press). Obviously if he was certain of his facts, that would be the only reason to keep it as is. Curington's answer to me was, he did not remember the FBI interview (two agents visiting him) at all! He told me he honestly did not remember anything about it. But since the FBI agents' interview was reported in the National Enquirer story in 1977, and Curington knew the Enquirer story about himself well, it seems more likely that Curington's memory is faulty than that the FBI fabricated an interview. I wanted to ask Curington about the details of what the FBI report said (in light of stories of witnesses claiming that they were misreported in FBI agents' field reports to their offices), but that was not possible since he remembered nothing of it at all. He did say, upon reading it, that one thing the FBI had was certainly wrong: they had in that report Curington saying his office was next to Bunker Hunt's (son of H. L. Hunt). Curington said Bunker Hunt's office was at the other end of the building, and his office was next to H. L. Hunt's office (and he drew me a diagram of the Hunt Oil offices to illustrate). Curington stuck to his story and Motive and Opportunity appeared in print unchanged on this point. As for why the National Enquirer would have Curington "recently", in 1977, turning the letter over to the FBI in agreement with the timing in the FBI investigation documents, Curington said the National Enquirer had gotten things wrong in its story of him. Curington said people have sent him copies of the letter over the years and so he did not deny that in 1977, but said the letter first became known to him in 1963.

The obvious question is: has he gotten his timing confused over time on this? That is what I suspected. One other possible detail of interest. When I visited him in person for the interview I talked to him more about the letter. He seemed to struggle to check his memory and said he thought he remembered his and H. L.'s friend on the Dallas police force, Lt. George Butler, as who he may have given the letter to, and Lt. Butler then gave it to the FBI. Lt. Butler died in 1980. 

The key points I take away from this are (a) Curington was the source of the "Dear Mr. Hunt" letter to the FBI and its becoming public knowledge; (b) apart from Curington's own recent claim, there is no evidence verifying the existence of any copies of that letter prior to 1976; (c) Curington NOT citing this letter as in support of his own belief that H.L. Hunt did the JFK assassination--when it would serve his argument beautifully to do so--could be interpreted as an argument in favor of Curington's honesty, as distinguished from infallibility in relative chronology of memory. But in the end, on this story I do not know, and this is about all I know on that. 

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On 4/29/2020 at 5:15 PM, Greg Doudna said:

Chris N., I am not as knowledgeable as some here but I think it was Joe Campisi who was the friend and visitor of Ruby in jail immediately following the killing of Oswald (I don't recall Ruby being in a hospital until much later). Campisi, a restauranteer, was maybe #2 or #3 resident mobster below #1 Civello in Dallas. 

Thank you for that correction. I was working "from memory" but I still have the same feeling that the Campisi meeting was more about sending a message to people, a "warning", than it was about paying respects to Ruby.

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Interesting Chris N. It is probably only coincidence that 260 pounds is the weight of a corpse, but my favorite detail re Campisi is this: In his House Select Committee testimony in 1978, in the context of being questioned about his relationship to Marcello of New Orleans:

Campisi: ...He [Carlos Marcello] has called me and asked me if I needed any crab claws or softshell crabs, and every year I send them [Marcello family] sausage, 260 pounds of Italian sausage that I send to them for Christmas to give to all of the brothers [of Carlos Marcello] and what friends I have there. I send like 260 pounds of sausage every year that I make special with walnuts and celery.
Q. Is there some reason why you send him 260 pounds to divide between everybody?
Campisi: No. No. I send each [Marcello] brother, and then I have a lot of cousins there. I have a lot of relatives there, and I send sausage to all of them.

While in my interview with Curington, in commenting on Ruby shooting Oswald, Curington, who knew Civello, Campisi, and had met Marcello, happened to use this figure of speech:

"I don't think that Ruby wanted to do the shooting. But then he had no other choice. You know, somebody told him what needs to be done. And he knew if he didn't do it, he could very well have been ground up in a sausage grinder, and all his brothers and sisters and everybody else there. So its not that simple to just say, 'well I don't believe I'll load my gun this morning and go down and shoot somebody.' You don't have, you know, you don't have that choice there."

 

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I would like to add this regarding the "Dear Mr. Hunt" Oswald note dated Nov. 8, 1963, and Mr. Curington's claim that he remembered that note had come in to the Hunt Oil offices around the time of the JFK assassination. This was the one point of Curington's reminiscences which most troubled me. While I still do not know what to make of that note, here are some considerations. 

A first point is that the handwriting is seemingly authentic Oswald. This does not exclude forgery since some forgeries can be very good and fool experts. But it is not excluded as forgery in terms of being shown forgery on handwriting grounds. 

A second point is the story of Mitrokhin--the Polish high intelligence official who defected to the West (UK) with a mother lode of information on Soviet intelligence files which were published in narrative form in The Sword and The Shield (1983)--has its own set of issues. From reviews I have read of this work, the main criticism from the point of view of historians and Cold War scholars is that no documents are presented or cited; it is entirely taking the word of the defector, Mitrokhin. While Mitrokhin's narrative is loaded with details and much of it is plausible and/or confirmed, there is little way of knowing whether it is all true. The two claims in Mitrokhin most relevant to the JFK assassination are a claim that Mark Lane was funded with KGB money, and a story of forgery in Moscow of the "Dear Mr. Hunt" Oswald letter. A footnote gave a certain box number in an archive held at the Churchill Archives Center at Churchill College, UK. I attempted to find the underlying information or documentation. I wrote the Churchill Archives Center, explained I could not afford a trip to England and did not know Russian, and asked for assistance in accessing and translating the underlying documentation, offering to pay for time and expenses. In reply I received a referral to a private party, a woman who had some experience doing research and translation of the Mitrokhin materials. I contacted her and arranged for this to be done. She prepared and sent me a translation of a text from the location cited. After spending my money and her labor on this, I realized that it was nothing more than a translation of a draft manuscript of Mitrokhin of the section in Sword and the Shield! It contained no new or different information, still no reference to or presentation of any document. So that was a deadend. Mitrokhin himself is deceased, and to my knowledge no other information from Soviet-era files is known which corroborates or sheds further light on this.

My question at the time of my inquiry to the Churchill Archives was whether somehow the Soviets had come into possession of an authentic Oswald document, and the activity in Moscow involved their own checks for authenticity of it, rather than de novo preparation of a forgery out of whole cloth. Mitrokhin said the "Dear Mr. Hunt" letter was for the purpose of linking E. Howard Hunt, then of Watergate fame (1970s), as part of Cold War. However, I noticed that the USSR seemed to have no prior or other history of forging documents of this nature; that the "Dear Mr. Hunt" letter is so ambiguous that if the intent were to seriously damage the US with an Oswald document it would have been done with more specifics to it; and of course the somewhat equivocal nature of the unconfirmed source for it in the first place.

Another dissonant detail in the Mitrokhin story to me was the part in that story of the Soviets getting authentic paper for use in the forgery, as if the Soviets somehow got paper from Texas ca. 1963. But nothing was ever circulated other than photocopies, nor did the Soviet government ever openly disclose that they had found this document and produced it.

Now I leave what is "known" (very little) to a conjecture. I set this forth not because I am sure it is correct but just as a possibility. The "Dear Mr. Hunt" letter emerged late 1976/early 1977 in a context of (among other things) a series of accusations against HL Hunt and Bunker Hunt (son of HL) from Paul Rothermel, HL Hunt's ex-assistant who apparently had intelligence agency connections. Rothermel was feeding JFK-assassination conspiracy materials to assassination researchers. In the documents of the FBI investigation of the "Dear Mr. Hunt" letter on the Mary Ferrel Foundation website, the interview with Bunker Hunt has Bunker Hunt denying any knowledge of the "Dear Mr. Hunt" letter (at this point his father, HL, was dead; he died in 1974) and told the FBI he suspected Rothermel himself had produced that. So that was Bunker Hunt's first thought: this looked like one more thing coming from Rothermel. 

Rothermel would have been in a position to have had a copy of such a document if one had come in to the Hunt Oil offices in 1963. There is no credible allegation or reason to suppose Oswald had anything to do directly with HL Hunt. However it could just be possible that the "Mr. Hunt" of the "Dear Mr. Hunt" letter could be, not HL Hunt, but Bunker Hunt, the son. Not that Oswald need ever have met Bunker Hunt either. But Bunker Hunt was one of the financiers of the black-bordered anti-JFK ad or flyer put out by Weissman and Larrie Schmidt. There is the story in Dick Russell's The Man Who Knew Too Much (pp. 325-29 of the 1992 edition), of Bradford Angers, who says he used to work for HL Hunt and that HL Hunt called him and told him to employ Larrie Schmidt; then Angers' claim that he discovered by accident that Larrie Schmidt and his wife had been beaten up badly by unknown persons warning them to say nothing of either the JFK assassination or HL Hunt; and that he (Angers) had learned from Larrie Schmidt that both Schmidt brothers (Larrie and Bob, who was employed by Edwin Walker) had rode around in a car with Oswald the night that Oswald took a shot at Walker (so Angers' story). 

Nov. 8, 1963, the date on the Oswald "Dear Mr. Hunt" letter, is a Friday, a Friday which was the one Friday that LHO came out to the Paine residence to visit Marina one day later than normal--on Saturday that weekend instead of Friday. It was the day before Oswald typed his letter to the Soviet embassy in D.C. at the Paine residence (Nov. 9). Nov. 8, Friday, is also possibly when LHO either wrote or even delivered the famous hostile note to the FBI office for Hosty, leaving it there since Hosty was gone from the office when Oswald was there. (Although I think most studies reconstruct the Oswald appearance in the FBI office with the hostile note as having occurred maybe Tue Nov. 12). According to Curington--who is adamant that HL Hunt never had any knowledge or anything to do with Oswald and that the note had come in to the office left with a receptionist and was regarded by HL Hunt (whose right-hand assistant Curington was, and claims to remember this) as a crank note, one among hundreds of crank notes they routinely received--but which crank note was then turned over to the FBI at HL Hunt's instruction after the assassination (per Curington)--according to Curington the m.o. of Oswald's method of delivery with the "Dear Mr. Hunt" handwritten letter was exactly the same as Oswald's method of delivery of the (later FBI-destroyed) "Dear Mr. Hosty" handwritten letter: in both cases walked in in person to the respective buildings in downtown Dallas, presumably during Oswald's lunch hour from work, and handed to a receptionist upon failing to get access to the addressee in person.

In other words--while I am not claiming this is actually correct, because I do not know--I can envision a possibility that the LHO "Dear Mr. Hunt" letter of Nov. 8, 1963 is authentic (in agreement with handwriting analysts at the time); that it was prepared and delivered at about or at the same time and delivered in the same way as the "Dear Mr. Hosty" letter; that both originals ended up in custody of the FBI which may have had both--not just one--destroyed; and that the "Mr. Hunt" addressee was Bunker Hunt, not HL Hunt or E. Howard Hunt. The reason Oswald might write such a note to Bunker Hunt--this is just speculation here, but anyway--would be via some renewed LHO contact with the circles being funded by Bunker Hunt in publishing the anti-JFK ad. If the note is genuine, it could further read as Oswald attempting to get information as an informant.

In the 1970s FBI investigation of the "Dear Mr. Hunt" letter, those documents show the FBI themselves as suspecting Bunker Hunt as the "Mr. Hunt" of the letter, in keeping with other serious allegations Rothermel was making at the time against Bunker Hunt. The theory would be that the note had come in to the Hunt Oil offices, had ended up in Rothermel's hands, for use later after Rothermel had his falling-out with the Hunts. Curington as the other right-hand man to HL Hunt besides Rothermel in the early 1960s would know of the note. To the FBI, Rothermel at first seemed to say he may have heard of the note in the 1960s but Rothermel later clarified that to the FBI saying he could not remember for certain anything of the note before its known appearance in the mid-1970s. The FBI reported that Curington denied he had ever seen or knew anything of the note before the mid-1970s--that was the fundamental discrepancy which troubled me--but in the end that could be equivocal, in light of other known disputes over he-says/she-says genre disagreements over what witnesses said to FBI agents and what FBI agents heard and/or wrote up in their reports. 

The method of dissemination of the "Dear Mr. Hunt" note--from a fake address in Mexico City mailed to three (three known anyway) JFK-assassination researchers--would correspond to Rothermel's interactions with JFK assassination researchers and knowledge of who they were. Of course minimally the disseminator of the "Dear Mr. Hunt" letter would involve knowledge of Spanish and physical presence at some point in Mexico City, from where the photocopies of the letter were mailed. 

So this long chain of conjecture returns to the original issue for me of the assessment of Curington's living testimony. There is no OTHER instance in which I have found a sign of fabrication of a story on the part of Curington. If there were other instances, that would weigh in favor of dismissing Curington's testimony on the "Dear Mr. Hunt" letter. But there are not other clear instances weighing against his credibility. The line of analysis I have given above I believe, to me, renders the whole issue of the "Dear Mr. Hunt" note sufficiently equivocal that although it is possible Curington's memory is confused with the passage of time, another possibility is that Curington's story regarding the "Dear Mr. Hunt" note could in the end be approximately correct after all. 

Edited by Greg Doudna
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On the claim of Curington that he witnessed Marina Oswald at the Hunt Oil building visiting HL Hunt shortly after the JFK assassination, according to National Enquirer denied by Marina Oswald, I was surprised recently to discover in the original 1992 first edition of Dick Russel's The Man Who Knew Too Much, pp. 602-603, this, which in my interpretation, if this report is accurate, removes the force of the denial from Marina published in National Enquirer:

(D. Russell) "In June 1992 I spoke with Marina--remarried to Kevin Porter and still living in Dallas--by phone. 'I was taken to somebody's office, but I have no idea what I went there for. I don't think it was the FBI that took me. Yes, it is very possible I went to see the oil millionaire, but I can't remember the face. Everything is so vague about that time. I was a walking zombie. I just know that all the different agencies were fighting with each other. What it was all about, I don't know.'"

Curiously, I found that the second edition of this Dick Russell book, published 2003, has that (above) deleted, with the surrounding paragraphs and material intact.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Another on the Curington story: in Joan Mellen, Our Man in Haiti (2012), p. 374f, Mellen basically situates Curington's account of casing the Dallas Police station, the night before Oswald was killed by Ruby, as well as the HL Hunt meeting with Marina, as part of a CIA plot to implicate HL Hunt, and therefore to be disregarded. Mellen's logic is that the Curington story appeared in National Enquirer, National Enquirer has a CIA disinformation history, therefore the Curington story can be disregarded. I submit the #3 conclusion of this syllogism does not follow from the preceding statements #1 and #2.

Here is Mellen's critical argument for dismissing the Curington story: "Along the way the Agency vetoed some [CIA-relevant news] articles and planted others, as seems to be [no evidence cited] the case with the Curington article blaming H.L. Hunt for the Kennedy assassination. So the National Enquirer joined Reader's Digest, Conover Mast Publications, to which CIA assigned the cryptonym LP/OVER, and respectable publishing houses like Farrar, Straus & Giroux, as media entities cooperatin with CIA."

In other words, she establishes a past history of this behavior for CIA; argues that the Curington story "seems" to be another example of this pattern; therefore it is; therefore Curington's story can be dismissed. However, Curington has repeated his story, both in the Dick Russell book and in Curington's own book, and in the interview with me. Whatever his activities in younger years, Curington comes across today as a straight shooter, keeps his word, loyal to family and friends, reclusive, computer-illiterate, and in my opinion not intentionally fabricating anything. Also, to repeat, Curington does not claim any fact or certainty that pins any of the assassinations on HL Hunt. He tells what he knows and experienced, and ends with suspicion that his old boss HL Hunt was involved, but never claims to have heard a confession or know of smoking-gun evidence re HL Hunt culpability even secondhand or from hearsay. Curington tells me the reason he had his story told in National Enquirer, which he realizes being a tabloid tended to diminish the impact of his story, is because they paid him a very large sum of money to tell his story, which I interpret as paying him to go from silence to talking, but do not interpret as buying invention of the story itself. HL Hunt's other right-hand man, Rothermel, looks spooky and perhaps an intentional purveyor of disinformation, but Rothermel is not Curington. 

Mellen follows similar logic on p. 377 re de Mohrenschildt:

"In 1976 and 1977, it wasn't only Rothermel and Curington who suggested that H.L. Hunt and/or his sons were complicit in the Kennedy assassination. CIA asset and former 'friend' of Lee Harvey Oswald, George de Mohrenschildt, began to tell anyone who would listen that 'H.L. Hunt and the bunch were behind the assassination,' with Hunt bearing a major role 'with the conspiracy.' It was as if de Mohrenschildt were reading from the text of Farewell America. He had known Hunt for twenty years, de Mohrenschildt told Dutch journalist Willem Oltmans. Hunt's address, and separately, that of Hunt Oil, do appear in de Mohrenschildt's address book. He had gone to all of Hunt's parties, de Mohrenschilt claimed. The trajectory of the assassination traveled 'upwards to Hunt and downwards to Oswald.' So he followed the CIA's script."

The problem there is Mellen is getting all of that, so far as I can tell, channeled second-hand through Oltmans, who is not entirely credible in his claims. I am unaware of a verifiably genuine de Mohrenschildt statement purporting to pin the assassination on HL Hunt in the way that Oltmans claims the dead de Mohrenschildt orally told him, Oltmans. Oltmans' hearsay MIGHT mean de Mohrenschildt said that but it could be total invention on Oltmans' part. That de Mohrenschildt had a history with CIA as informant, minimally, or more is clear and not disputed here. Only Mellen's assertion that de Mohrenschildt himself pinned the assassination on HL Hunt is what I challenge as unclear--given that the only source claiming de Mohrenschildt ever said that has known truthfulness issues. I am skeptical that de Mohrenschildt said what Oltmans claimed re HL Hunt (I would change on this if evidence from de Mohrenschildt, or credible second-hand from a wife or family member were shown).

I close this with a question to the JFK assassination research community: is there a mechanism or resource by which Curington could be polygraphed, while he is alive and in sound mind, as one of the few surviving witnesses with first-hand testimony arguably highly relevant to the history of JFK and MLK (if it is true)? Is there funding and professional expertise for such a polygraph examination--also professional oral history-collection and archiving--especially concerning: (a) his story of visiting the Dallas police station casing for LHO's security at HL Hunt's direction, then reporting this information to Dallas mob boss Civello, the night before Ruby shot LHO; and (b) Curington's account that he personally conveyed at HL Hunt's direction--who was in very frequent and close communication with J. Edgar Hoover immediately following the MLK assassination--a briefcase of a huge amount of cash, from HL Hunt to defense attorney Percy Foreman, to influence and/or reward Foreman to have James Earl Ray plead "guilty" so that there be no trial where facts were brought out in discovery and testimony. 

I would think these two testimonies as to facts would be relevant to future generations looking back on this history. Curington is now 94. Is there a mechanism (funding and professional expertise) to get a polygraph done, while this is still possible?

 

Edited by Greg Doudna
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