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Lone Gunman podcast: L. Fletcher Prouty a xxxx?


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Gene, thanks for reading that four part article on Burns/Novick.  I actually bought the DVD on that so I could repeat and fast forward at my leisure.  If anyone wants it let me know since i think its pretty worthless.  Very disappointing and it has impacted my view of Burns.  A friend of mine showed it to the narrator Peter Coyote.  After a dialogue with him Coyote told him to send his complements on a job well done.

I am not an authority on Lansdale.  I did read the Currey bio but I think its a sanitized book. Lansdale did want the ambassadorship to Saigon and he and Rostow did a little trick on JFK about a week into his presidency to try and gain it.  Both men were hawks, especially Rostow, who like Nixon was a little nutty about that war seeing it as a Waterloo type situation--which it was not.

Lansdale was interested in the job because his mentor Allen Dulles had sent him there after he and his brother stopped the 1956 elections and created this new country South Vietnam. Lansdale was really CIA.  I once accompanied John Newman to the Hoover institute and we discovered a letter by Lansdale in which he admitted this. Dulles got Lansdale appointed to Brigadier General through the CIA director's relationship with Lemay.

Lansdale was very important to the creation of this ersatz country under this ersatz leader Diem.  He masterminded the scare campaign to frighten hundreds of thousands of catholics in the north to flee to the south in order to bolster Diem. He also rigged elections in the south to make it look like Diem had a massive constituency. Which he did not. Those elections were farces.  Lansdale said, OK we can get you 60 per cent; DIem would say, he wanted 90 and Lansdale would get him ninety--even though more people would vote in a district than actually lived there. When critics would complain about all this not being a democracy, Lansdale would say, that is not what I was assigned to do.

There is no doubt Lansdale was an original and imaginative guy when it came to black ops and psy war.  HIs campaign in Manila is legendary. But when it got to Mongoose, he was faced with a situation where he simply could not climb the wall since he had so few assets on the island. The other thing was that Robert Kennedy was a kind of ombudsman, and he had final approval over all operations.  And he demanded that these be in writing and they be complete, down to how many men, what they were going in with, the beach they would land at, and what the objective was. After Mongoose was pretty much dissipated, Lansdale was kind of drifting until he retired on November 1, 1963.

Newman was once going to write a book on Lansdale but did not.  He told me that Lansdale was in the Dallas/ Fort Worth area at the time of the assassination.  I have no opinion whether or not that is him in those photos.  I also do not have an opinion as to whether or not he was the master planner of the plot.

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There are a couple of early and more recent books on Lansdale that I found helpful.  I'd start with this one:

https://www.amazon.com/Edward-Lansdale-American-Cecil-Currey/dp/0395385105/ref=pd_sbs_14_3/147-1704450-1909043?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=0395385105&pd_rd_r=3fd64c12-2e97-4d6c-acd4-ddab71e05e6e&pd_rd_w=3iAwA&pd_rd_wg=fl7MJ&pf_rd_p=ff9b5089-1414-4e8f-9675-3397e98bf276&pf_rd_r=BTR781CPXFQ5GZX2MM8A&psc=1&refRID=BTR781CPXFQ5GZX2MM8A

My friend Mike Swanson is coming out with a new book on the early days in Vietnam which discusses a lot of his role there and is very good.  I cited a number of sources on him in Shadow Warfare but I can't pull them off the top of my head, several were excerpts from individuals referencing their own experiences with him.

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I certainly go with the idea of "secret teams" but I think to a large extent they were situational.  For example in Nicaragua we effectively saw a secret team formed under North which included field CIA personnel (acting against orders),  CIA paramilitary assets (some former, some still on call, the use of CIA cover companies (without their even realizing it) and the cooperation and active support of high level military officers (some retired; some still serving).

My take would be that common political beliefs and agendas tend to generate such teams (which are self organizing) rather than their existing in a straight line sense. You could find another example in the first Afghanistan experience.

However their are incubators for such teams which do exist long term, the World Anti Communist League was one that I explored in Shadow Warfare.  These days I suspect several of the neo-Conservative think tanks serve the same function of pulling people together who form their own teams and then secure their own political, financial and other assets.

My usual long winded way of saying, yes...

 

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1 hour ago, James DiEugenio said:

Gene, thanks for reading that four part article on Burns/Novick.  I actually bought the DVD on that so I could repeat and fast forward at my leisure.  If anyone wants it let me know since i think its pretty worthless.  Very disappointing and it has impacted my view of Burns.  A friend of mine showed it to the narrator Peter Coyote.  After a dialogue with him Coyote told him to send his complements on a job well done.

I am not an authority on Lansdale.  I did read the Currey bio but I think its a sanitized book. Lansdale did want the ambassadorship to Saigon and he and Rostow did a little trick on JFK about a week into his presidency to try and gain it.  Both men were hawks, especially Rostow, who like Nixon was a little nutty about that war seeing it as a Waterloo type situation--which it was not.

Lansdale was interested in the job because his mentor Allen Dulles had sent him there after he and his brother stopped the 1956 elections and created this new country South Vietnam. Lansdale was really CIA.  I once accompanied John Newman to the Hoover institute and we discovered a letter by Lansdale in which he admitted this. Dulles got Lansdale appointed to Brigadier General through the CIA director's relationship with Lemay.

Lansdale was very important to the creation of this ersatz country under this ersatz leader Diem.  He masterminded the scare campaign to frighten hundreds of thousands of catholics in the north to flee to the south in order to bolster Diem. He also rigged elections in the south to make it look like Diem had a massive constituency. Which he did not. Those elections were farces.  Lansdale said, OK we can get you 60 per cent; DIem would say, he wanted 90 and Lansdale would get him ninety--even though more people would vote in a district than actually lived there. When critics would complain about all this not being a democracy, Lansdale would say, that is not what I was assigned to do.

There is no doubt Lansdale was an original and imaginative guy when it came to black ops and psy war.  HIs campaign in Manila is legendary. But when it got to Mongoose, he was faced with a situation where he simply could not climb the wall since he had so few assets on the island. The other thing was that Robert Kennedy was a kind of ombudsman, and he had final approval over all operations.  And he demanded that these be in writing and they be complete, down to how many men, what they were going in with, the beach they would land at, and what the objective was. After Mongoose was pretty much dissipated, Lansdale was kind of drifting until he retired on November 1, 1963.

Newman was once going to write a book on Lansdale but did not.  He told me that Lansdale was in the Dallas/ Fort Worth area at the time of the assassination.  I have no opinion whether or not that is him in those photos.  I also do not have an opinion as to whether or not he was the master planner of the plot.

Jim,

     What you and John Newman describe here seems consistent with Prouty's observations and theories about Lansdale. 

     But it seems rather curious to me that Lansdale's alleged role in JFK's assassination-- including the Dealey Plaza photos-- has not been scrutinized in greater detail by historians.

      For example, what was Lansdale doing in November of 1963?

      Perhaps there isn't much available data.

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Was Prouty the source that military intelligence was ordered to stand down in Dallas?

I myself have never seen any corroboration for this. I have seen information that the 112th MID was told that they were not needed, but no information that they were specifically told not to lend support; and it was the local Secret Service who told them they weren't needed.

Steve Thomas

Edited by Steve Thomas
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In Prouty's March 6, 1990 letter to Jim Garrison,* he pans Cecil Currey's biography of Lansdale as a CIA production, and describes his perspective on Lansdale's history in considerable detail-- including his putative role in the JFK assassination.

This letter is worth reading in its entirety.

It has probably been discussed in detail on this forum, but I didn't find it on a search today.

Here's a Spartacus link to the Garrison letter.  (Footnote #3)*

https://spartacus-educational.com/COLDlansdale.htm

"...I have heard him brag about capturing random Vietnamese and putting them in a Helicopter. Then they would work on them to make them "confess" to being Viet Minh. When they would not, they would toss them out of the chopper, one after the other, until the last ones talked. This was Ed's idea of fun...as related to me many times. Then Dulles, Adm. Radford and Cardinal Spellman set up Ngo Dinh Diem. He and his brother, Nhu, became Lansdale proteges.

At about 1957 Lansdale was brought back to Washington and assigned to Air Force Headquarters in a Plans office near mine. He was a fish out of water. He didn't know Air Force people and Air Force ways. After about six months of that, Dulles got the Office of Special Operations under General Erskine to ask for Lansdale to work for the Secretary of Defense. Erskine was man enough to control him.

By 1960 Erskine had me head the Air Force shop there. He had an Army shop and a Navy shop and we were responsible for all CIA relationships as well as for the National Security Agency. Ed was still out of his element because he did not know the services; but the CIA sent work his way.

Then in the Fall of 1960 something happened that fired him up. Kennedy was elected over Nixon. Right away Lansdale figured out what he was going to do with the new President. Overnight he left for Saigon to see Diem and to set up a deal that would make him, Lansdale, Ambassador to Vietnam. He had me buy a "Father of his Country" gift for Diem...$700.00.

I can't repeat all of this but you should get a copy of the Gravel edition, 5 Vol.'s, of the Pentagon Papers and read it. The Lansdale accounts are quite good and reasonably accurate.

Ed came back just before the Inauguration and was brought into the White House for a long presentation to Kennedy about Vietnam. Kennedy was taken by it and promised he would have Lansdale back in Vietnam "in a high office". Ed told us in OSO he had the Ambassadorship sewed up. He lived for that job.

He had not reckoned with some of JFK's inner staff, George Ball, etc. Finally the whole thing turned around and month by month Lansdale's star sank over the horizon. Erskine retired and his whole shop was scattered. The Navy men went back to the navy as did the Army folks. Gen Wheeler in the JCS asked to have me assigned to the Joint Staff. This wiped out the whole Erskine (Office of Special Operations) office. It was comical. There was Lansdale up there all by himself with no office and no one else. He boiled and he blamed it on Kennedy for not giving him the "promised" Ambassadorship to let him "save" Vietnam.

Then with the failure of the Bay of Pigs, caused by that phone call to cancel the air strikes by McGeorge Bundy, the military was given the job of reconstituting some sort of Anti-Castro operation. It was headed by an Army Colonel; but somehow Lansdale (most likely CIA influence) got put into the plans for Operation Mongoose...to get Castro...ostensibly.

The U.S. Army has a think-tank at American University. It was called "Operation Camelot". This is where the "Camelot" concept came from. It was anti-JFK's Vietnam strategy. The men running it were Lansdale types, Special Forces background. "Camelot" was King Arthur and Knights of the Round Table: not JFK...then.

Through 1962 and 1963 Mongoose and "Camelot" became strong and silent organizations dedicated to countering JFK. Mongoose had access to the CIA's best "hit men" in the business and a lot of "strike" capability. Lansdale had many old friends in the media business such as Joe Alsop, Henry Luce among others. With this background and with his poisoned motivation I am positive that he got collateral orders to manage the Dallas event under the guise of "getting" Castro. It is so simple at that level. A nod from the right place, source immaterial, and the job's done.

The "hit" is the easy part. The "escape" must be quick and professional. The cover-up and the scenario are the big jobs. They more than anything else prove the Lansdale mastery.

Lansdale was a master writer and planner. He was a great "scenario" guy. It still have a lot of his personally typed material in my files. I am certain that he was behind the elaborate plan and mostly the intricate and enduring cover-up. Given a little help from friends at PEPSICO he could easily have gotten Nixon into Dallas, for "orientation': and LBJ in the cavalcade at the same time, contrary to Secret Service policy.

He knew the "Protection" units and the "Secret Service", who was needed and who wasn't. Those were routine calls for him, and they would have believed him. Cabell could handle the police.

The "hit men" were from CIA overseas sources, for instance, from the "Camp near Athena, Greece. They are trained, stateless, and ready to go at any time. They ask no questions: speak to no one. They are simply told what to do, when and where. Then they are told how they will be removed and protected. After all, they work for the U.S. Government. The "Tramps" were actors doing the job of cover-up. The hit men are just pros. They do the job for the CIA anywhere. They are impersonal. They get paid. They get protected, and they have enough experience to "blackmail" anyone, if anyone ever turns on them...just like Drug agents. The job was clean, quick and neat. No ripples."

Edited by W. Niederhut
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I'd say the first part of that - before he gets into Mongoose/Camelot and the conspiracy material - is pretty accurate and consistent with the source I recommended as well as other materials on Lansdale that I've examined.  However its pretty clear that anything that doesn't fit Prouty's personal narrative, his views on Lansdale or the conspiracy is not going to be well received in this thread so I'll just butt out once again....

However having said that, I should repeat that I personally consider him a valuable source on the activities he was directly involved with, including the practices and protocols for providing support to various CIA covert actions.

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My favorite part of the film JFK is the walk Mr X takes with Garrison through the park with the overhanging tree branches.

In that brief four minutes, the American public got their first look at what the secret government really did for about 15 years in the name of democracy.

That role was to be played by Brando.  He wanted too much money, plus he could have never memorized all those lines, and there was nowhere to write the monologue down.  Unless you wanted to put a truck in front of them with revolving huge cue cards.

Brando declining was a blessing in disguise. Sutherland was just excellent.  If Costner had been anywhere up to his level, that scene would have been a textbook in an acting class.  But according to my sources, Stone tried and tried but could not really get Costner to deliver.  Once, when Sutherland walked out of earshot, he said, "Maybe if he understood what he was saying he'd be more convincing." That is how smart Sutherland is.

 

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2 minutes ago, James DiEugenio said:

My favorite part of the film JFK is the walk Mr X takes with Garrison through the park with the overhanging tree branches.

In that brief four minutes, the American public got their first look at what the secret government really did for about 15 years in the name of democracy.

That role was to be played by Brando.  He wanted too much money, plus he could have never memorized all those lines, and there was nowhere to write the monologue down.  Unless you wanted to put a truck in front of them with revolving huge cue cards.

Brando declining was a blessing in disguise. Sutherland was just excellent.  If Costner had been anywhere up to his level, that scene would have been a textbook in an acting class.  But according to my sources, Stone tried and tried but could not really get Costner to deliver.  Once, when Sutherland walked out of earshot, he said, "Maybe if he understood what he was saying he'd be more convincing." That is how smart Sutherland is.

 

Sutherland is brilliant in that scene, it's a very convincing monologue. Movies have the opportunity to tell or retell history, in a way that's even more impactful than the any fudged and contrived school history textbooks or wiki page. A good example is Braveheart, a couple of decades on you had a country asking for a referendum. I'd imagine the big challenge for Stone was making it all fit into a palatable timescale for cinema, today it would be a series on Netflix, I think he did a very good job with all considered and has undoubtably suffered for taking on this issue that we are all passionate about. I wonder how long it will be until we get flawless CGI, imagine how good a film about this could be and how much further it could go to change public perception. 

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I should add this though.

If I had been advising Oliver at that time, I would have told him not to go that route.  I would have said, have Sutherland play Nagell.  And you can still get in most of the Cuba angle.  

I would have then said, after Garrison gets home, have him open up a letter from a college professor from Ohio University. 

Have Garrison cut it open at his desk, and start reading it. Its night, and he lights up his pipe, puts on a desk light. As he reads on the voice track you can cut from him, to the letter, to the escalation in VIetnam that the author describes.  That way you can get the Vietnam angle in.

The difference is that both of these two things happened at the the time Garrison was investigating the case. That professor was writing about the escalation of the war that was accomplished through JFK's murder. To my knowledge, he was the first person to do that.  I have seen the letter.That is how Garrison got onto that issue. 

I don't think Oliver's research team was aware of that letter. 

Edited by James DiEugenio
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On 10/29/2020 at 5:24 AM, James DiEugenio said:

Ron:

I went over this at length and in depth in my book.  In fact I wrote a whole chapter about the Bay of Pigs.  

From Trumbull Higgins, until today, everyone understands that the longer JFK looked at the operation, the more he did not want it to seem like a WW 2 American attack.  So this is why he wanted the D Day air attack to come from the island.  I gave so many sources for this that I don't think its debatable any more. Kennedy even asked Bissell, "Do you really. have to have these air strikes?" (Kornbluh p. 296)

Peter Kornbluh says it on page 288 of his book Bay of Pigs Declassified.

The CIA admitted they understood this in their March 15th plan.  They mentioned it three times there. (DiEugenio, Second Edition, Destiny Betrayed, pp.45-46)

BIssell admitted this to one of the planners, Hawkins. (Ibid, p. 46)

In the Taylor Report, it says that Bundy told Cabell, the night before, that there would only be D Day strikes from a captured beachhead. (ibid, p. 46)

In a conversation with McNamara, the SecDef told Noel Twyman that the CIA came back to them about the D Day air strikes, they were not in the revised plan. (My phone conversation with Twyman in 1997)

When this came up on April 16th, with Rusk and Stevenson, Kennedy said this himself. (Schlesinger, A Thousand Days, p. 273)

Cabell and Bissell argued with Rusk about it.  He declined the request.  When he asked them if they wanted to talk to Kennedy they said no. (Ibid)

Cabell then tried again right before the operation landed.  This time he asked if the planes could fly off Burke's aircraft carrier. Rusk declined. (ibid)

In Howard Hunt's book he himself says, everyone at CIA was urging Cabell to launch the strike himself.  He did not. (Give Us this Day, by Hunt, p. 197)

I really don't see how one can dispute that many sources, its at least 6 high level ones. But also, if Bundy was acting on his own, why was he not called before the Board?  Why was he not then fired?  Why instead did Kennedy fire Cabell, Dulles and Bissell?

But further, what does this have to do with anything?  As Lyman Kirkpatrick said, what if the D Day attacks had occurred and were successful? What difference would it have made?  (DiEugenio, p. 45) You still had 1400 guys on a beach, with their ammo boat sunk, with no element of surprise, with no defections coming to their aid, facing state of the art Soviet mortar, artillery, and tanks. With thousands of Cuban regulars swarming to the front, and thousands more in reserve. (ibid, p. 40, p. 45)

This whole D day controversy I think, as I argue in my book, was created by Dulles and Hunt in order to cover the CIA's perfidy and mendacity in their presentation of the operation to Kennedy. (DiEugenio, p. 54)

 

 

 

I re read the chapter in Destiny Betrayed on the Bay of Pigs for the first time since the second edition came out in 2012 last night.  I tend to forget details over the years if I don't discuss or read about them.

I realize JFK wanted no airstrikes during the operation other than from the beach air strip.  Though he had agreed to the pre operation strikes from Nicaragua using Cuban pilots that took out the seven T-36's.  Technically the strikes on the remaining three were supposed to happen before the landing began, but yet on the day of it.  Thus the problem.

I also now understand this would have not made a difference, as Prouty asserted it might have.  As Kilpatrick pointed out, per DB, with 32,000 troops and 200,00 militia, Soviet tanks, mortars and other armament against 1500 invaders it would have only delayed the inevitable.  (I.E. was it a plan to fail?)  

But regarding what does this have to do with anything I wonder about Bundy.  The Bundy's were part of the east coast establishment power élite Dulles and the CIA worked for.  Would Mac have sabotaged any chance of success to force JFK to invade Cuba or suffer an embarrassment early in his presidency, trying to force him into the fold so to speak?   Upon advisement from Rusk?  Would Dulles have blamed the failure for carrying out the air strike on Cabell to cover for Bundy?  What did JFK really know, or what was he told at the time? 

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2 hours ago, Larry Hancock said:

However its pretty clear that anything that doesn't fit Prouty's personal narrative, his views on Lansdale or the conspiracy is not going to be well received in this thread so I'll just butt out once again....

 

That's not true, Larry.  You're a great corrective of extremity.

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12 hours ago, Larry Hancock said:

I'd say the first part of that - before he gets into Mongoose/Camelot and the conspiracy material - is pretty accurate and consistent with the source I recommended as well as other materials on Lansdale that I've examined.  However its pretty clear that anything that doesn't fit Prouty's personal narrative, his views on Lansdale or the conspiracy is not going to be well received in this thread so I'll just butt out once again....

 

Larry,

    Anything that is true about the history of JFK's assassination would be "well received" by me on this forum.  If Prouty was wrong about Lansdale's history after 1961, so be it.  I'm not invested in defending Prouty, if he was mistaken.

    Can you be more specific about your disagreement with Prouty's beliefs about what Lansdale was doing from 1961-63?

     Inquiring minds want to know.

     

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I don't know that I disagree at all about Lansdale's activities in that period, I actually thought I had said that earlier but maybe not....what I do find questionable are Prouty's remarks about presidential protection, about the activation of the 112th and its then being shut down etc...the points he appears to me to have recanted in his ARRB remarks.

That has little to nothing to do with his identification of Lansdale in Dallas or of his speculation about Lansdale and a conspiracy.  I'm ambivalent about that; if somebody can prove that it was Lansdale in Dallas (I did dabble in that for a time, fruitlessly) and in the photo that would be very interesting...but then you need to take that and work it into a full hypothesis on his role, his contacts, the larger picture of the conspiracy.

Which is why I don't really have anything to contribute beyond that point other than personal opinions...when I hit that point in a thread it seems a good time for me to move on.

 

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