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Came across this today when browsing Archive.org's very large collection of FBI FOIA requests submitted and archived by Emma Best.

It's about 900 pages of FBI documents relating to Otto Otepka.

His name may be familiar to folks here, see Jim DiEugenio's Destiny Betrayed, pp 163 

Here are the FOIA docs:

https://archive.org/details/Otepka-Otto-1-thru-11-nsia

Otepka sent a memo to Dick Bissell at CIA in late 1960 requesting information about U.S. defectors, including Lee Harvey Oswald. Not long after Otepka was subject to surveillance and his career was ruined--the suggestion being that his nosing around about Lee Harvey Oswald in 1960 caused his career to be destroyed. 

From Destiny Betrayed:

"Otepka, who had been an award winning employee, now saw his career slide downhill. And then both his career and his life become a Kafkaesque nightmare. He was first taken off of sensitive cases. Stories began to appear in the press that his job could be eliminated. He was asked to take another position in State but he declined. 81 He was then called before a Senate Committee to explain his methods for issuing security clearances. This happened four times in less than three years. He still would not resign or suspend his defector investigation. Spies, phone taps, and listening devices were then planted in his office. 82 His office started to be searched after hours and his trash was scoured for any of his notes. Even his house was being surveilled. Otepka could not understand what was happening to him. He could only conclude that the sensitive study of American defectors hidden in his safe was behind it all. That safe was later drilled into after he was thrown out of his original office and reassigned. Whoever drilled it then used a tiny mirror to determine the combination. The safecracker then removed its contents. 83 On November 5, 1963 Otepka was formally removed from his job at State.

 

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Excellent. Joan Mellen talks about Otepka too in her updated Farewell to Justice -- pp 452-455

Mellen says, "There was no doubt in Mr. otpka's mind now that Robert Kennedy and Walter Sheridan had been behind the theft of the defector files from his office safe.  She goes on to say..."he realized that Robert Kennedy's secret connection to Oswald lay 'at he root of my troubles.'"

Really unfortunate what happened to him.

Edited by Pamela Brown
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Bear in mind that all of this is according to Otepka, who himself had a cozy relationship with the Senate Select Committee that had once been McCarthy’s - sorry I can’t recall the exact name - it’s late at night as I write - maybe Internal Security. That committee was constantly up to no good, thwarted Kennedy at every turn. I respect Jim, and Mellen, but I respectfully disagree with their assessment of Otepka’s honesty and I suspect his motives. Did he uncover some defector shenanigans? Sure. But he blamed the Kennedy brothers, and it seems to me that this was Angleton’s purview, not RFK’s. This is only a short step removed from General Walker claiming that he knew Oswald had shot at him from the very night it happened, that Oswald was taken into police custody and then released on orders from - RFK himself. Otepka must have been pretty convincing when he complained about his travails. I have his book somewhere. This is one of those stories that jus5 bugs me when it comes up. The only proof of any of this is Otepka’s own word. Do I have that wrong? 

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3 hours ago, Richard Booth said:

There are a number of FBI FOIA results there "of interest"

William King Harvey is a good one. This document was found among those:

e2Hk0iJ.jpg

https://archive.org/details/WilliamKingHarvey

Declassified in 1986. I sure would like to see the still classified files, not to mention military files which appear to have been completely destroyed. 

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8 hours ago, Paul Brancato said:

Bear in mind that all of this is according to Otepka, who himself had a cozy relationship with the Senate Select Committee that had once been McCarthy’s - sorry I can’t recall the exact name - it’s late at night as I write - maybe Internal Security. That committee was constantly up to no good, thwarted Kennedy at every turn. I respect Jim, and Mellen, but I respectfully disagree with their assessment of Otepka’s honesty and I suspect his motives. Did he uncover some defector shenanigans? Sure. But he blamed the Kennedy brothers, and it seems to me that this was Angleton’s purview, not RFK’s. This is only a short step removed from General Walker claiming that he knew Oswald had shot at him from the very night it happened, that Oswald was taken into police custody and then released on orders from - RFK himself. Otepka must have been pretty convincing when he complained about his travails. I have his book somewhere. This is one of those stories that jus5 bugs me when it comes up. The only proof of any of this is Otepka’s own word. Do I have that wrong? 

Hi Paul,

Otepka was associated with Julian Sourwine and his Senate Internal Security Subcommittee. Sourwine was involved with Operation Tilt along with William Pawley.

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1 hour ago, David Boylan said:

Hi Paul,

Otepka was associated with Julian Sourwine and his Senate Internal Security Subcommittee. Sourwine was involved with Operation Tilt along with William Pawley.

Yes - thanks - exactly what I was referring to. So what do you make of Otepka’s tale? 

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11 hours ago, Paul Brancato said:

Bear in mind that all of this is according to Otepka, who himself had a cozy relationship with the Senate Select Committee that had once been McCarthy’s - sorry I can’t recall the exact name - it’s late at night as I write - maybe Internal Security. That committee was constantly up to no good, thwarted Kennedy at every turn. I respect Jim, and Mellen, but I respectfully disagree with their assessment of Otepka’s honesty and I suspect his motives. Did he uncover some defector shenanigans? Sure. But he blamed the Kennedy brothers, and it seems to me that this was Angleton’s purview, not RFK’s. This is only a short step removed from General Walker claiming that he knew Oswald had shot at him from the very night it happened, that Oswald was taken into police custody and then released on orders from - RFK himself. Otepka must have been pretty convincing when he complained about his travails. I have his book somewhere. This is one of those stories that jus5 bugs me when it comes up. The only proof of any of this is Otepka’s own word. Do I have that wrong? 

Paul,

You may be right about Otepka, but let's not beg the question he raised.  Did RFK have anything to do with the gutting of Jim Garrison's case, and, if so, why? What motive could he possibly have had?

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11 hours ago, Paul Brancato said:

But he blamed the Kennedy brothers, and it seems to me that this was Angleton’s purview, not RFK’s. 

Based solely on the level of harassment he was facing, I seriously doubt that Robert Kennedy had anything to do with Otepka's troubles. Looking at these documents it becomes clear that Otepka upset someone, or some people, who were more powerful than RFK. 

My speculation is that James Angleton suspected that Otepka was a Soviet asset. Pure speculation, no proof.

Reading through the FBI files it becomes very apparent that Otepka was subject to far more scrutiny and trouble than his alleged offense deserved. For example, he was accused of leaking information to a Senate Internal Security Subcommittee. However, the resulting level of scrutiny and troubles he faced greatly outweighed what would be appropriate if his crime was leaking information to that committee. What he faced was truly, as Jim DiEugenio described, a "kafkaesque" nightmare. Just read the documents and it becomes clear he seriously had the screws put to him.

The level of harassment and trouble put in Otepka's path leads me to conclude that there was more at play here than the guy having been suspected of leaking information. 

I disagree with the notion that RFK had anything to do with it. It just doesn't make sense. 

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11 hours ago, Paul Brancato said:

Declassified in 1986. I sure would like to see the still classified files, not to mention military files which appear to have been completely destroyed. 

What I like about this document is that, in one document, you have a lot of sensitive things disclosed. For a 1-page document that's uncommon.

You've got:

* Confirmation of CIA working with the mafia
* Confirmation of CIA working on assassination plots
* Some specifics -- Roselli/Giancana both named, both said to be working with CIA through William Harvey and Robert Maheu

The other thing about the William Harvey FBI file that I found interesting was a sort of passive-aggressive emotional pettiness on display in multiple FBI files, showing a very clear and obvious level of petty dislike for Harvey by J. Edgar Hoover. Hoover was constantly clutching his pearls and complaining about Harvey not being respectful enough to the bureau. You could almost sense the level of anger on Hoover's part, the image of him angrily sitting a typewriter blasting out memos to try to get Harvey in trouble at CIA. It truly was petty and stupid, there are at least 5 or 6 memos in the FBI file that are essentially the FBI having a hissy-fit over Harvey and complaining to his bosses.

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9 hours ago, Paul Brancato said:

Yes - thanks - exactly what I was referring to. So what do you make of Otepka’s tale? 

Paul,

I'm not sure what to make of Otepka. I do know he was associating with enemies of the Kennedys most of his "career." He was with an organization, can't remember the name off-hand, that had as its members - Robert Morris (see Larrie Schmidt and Loran Hall), Ray Rocca (JJA's assistant), Julian Sourwine,  and more that I can't recall at this time. I think my brain might be full... 🙂

Edited by David Boylan
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The Otepka story is not what it seems ... the entire thing is "off" and smells of a smear strategy against RFK.  I agree with previous assessments that Joan Mellen may have been taken-in by Otepka when she interviewed him, and that he is not as innocent or aggrieved as it appears. Mellen argues that Oswald was on RFK’s radar from early on because he was part of an RFK/JFK plan to eventually take out Castro ... with all that we now know, this is very difficult to believe. There is however speculation that Otepka caught on to the process of rinsing poopoo’s into White Russians, and that the CIA did not need Otepka revealing their poopoo rat line. In hindsight, that RFK put Walter Sheridan in charge of watching Otepka, makes it look like a CIA operation, since Sheridan was a CIA cut-out all along. That also seems to be the case with Charles W. Lyons ... years later, it would be Walter Sheridan that pushed the narrative that RFK and JFK were planning to kill Castro (with Oswald involved) and that the blow-back is what eventually caused Castro assassins to turn their guns on JFK instead.  As many have pointed out, blaming RFK for his brother’s death was a good way for the CIA to deflect  blame.

Material later released shows Otepka as supplying information to Julian Sourwine, chief counsel for the Senate's Internal Security Subcommittee (SISS).  William Gill's book, "The Ordeal of Otto Otepka" (and interesting title) alleges that the Kennedy administration maneuvered Otepka to the sidelines.  Then, for good measure, Gill describes how Walter Rostow and Dean Rusk laid out JFK's goals for American foreign policy:  unilateral disarmament and accommodation with Communism.  Finally, Gill asserts that Rostow and  Rusk engineered the Bay of Pigs disaster as well as the Vietnam War ... but (heroically) "one man stood in their way, Otto Otepka".  Notably, Otepka's biographer (Gill) was married to a former poopoo Abwehr spy, Countess Mechtilde Podewils who spied in Spain in 1937 and was interrogated for her role in the July 1944 plot to assassinate Hitler. She came to the U.S. under Operation Paperclip. A 1972 article by Peters & Branch describes Otepka as a right-wing martyr and the first whistleblower in the modern period. Peter Dale Scott's assessment pulls it all together:

At least one of the key figures handling Oswald records, Otto Otepka in the State Department Office of Security, became in 1963, before the assassination, the focus of a major conflict between the Kennedy Administration and the more hawkish Senate Internal Security Subcommittee looking for subversives in the government. This conflict had arisen in 1959 over Cuba policy, but came to embrace Kennedy initiatives towards the Soviet Union and over Vietnam. This conflict inside Washington reflected a larger conflict in the country: between doves with civilian priorities seeking to modify Cold War strategies by accommodations with Khrushchev, and hawks with military priorities seeking a more aggressive strategy (and larger defense budget) to fight Communism. This larger conflict was particularly acute in the Kennedy years (as again under Nixon during Watergate). But it was only a phase in an enduring struggle between "America Firsters" and "New World Order" globalists, pitting, through nearly all of this century, the industry-oriented (e.g., the National Association of Manufacturers) against the financial oriented (e.g., the Council on Foreign Relations), two different sources of wealth.

Then there is this revelation

It was in June 1963, after the Lafayette incident, and after the Walker shooting, that Otepka’s files on Oswald were stolen from his safe. The culprits, Otepka wrote in a 1976 letter to author Edward J. Epstein at “Reader’s Digest” magazine, were his superiors, people close to Attorney General Robert Kennedy. Otepka’s crime had been his studying Oswald, as it had been his responsibility to do.

Otepka was reportedly close to Julien Sourwine, Robert Morris, and Ray Rocca, and defended Willis Carto and Liberty Lobby. He was associated with Senators Dodd and Eastland ... all strange bedfellows. Previous EF threads point out that the American Defense Fund (a fund with the John Birch Society association) gave $22,000 to Otepka for his legal costs, and that Otepka allegedly spoke to gatherings at the homes of Birch Society activists. He also spoke at a large meeting in the auditorium of the Flick-Reedy Education Enterprises, an ultra-conservation organization. Last (but not least), he was a member of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers.

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6 hours ago, Richard Booth said:

What I like about this document is that, in one document, you have a lot of sensitive things disclosed. For a 1-page document that's uncommon.

You've got:

* Confirmation of CIA working with the mafia
* Confirmation of CIA working on assassination plots
* Some specifics -- Roselli/Giancana both named, both said to be working with CIA through William Harvey and Robert Maheu

The other thing about the William Harvey FBI file that I found interesting was a sort of passive-aggressive emotional pettiness on display in multiple FBI files, showing a very clear and obvious level of petty dislike for Harvey by J. Edgar Hoover. Hoover was constantly clutching his pearls and complaining about Harvey not being respectful enough to the bureau. You could almost sense the level of anger on Hoover's part, the image of him angrily sitting a typewriter blasting out memos to try to get Harvey in trouble at CIA. It truly was petty and stupid, there are at least 5 or 6 memos in the FBI file that are essentially the FBI having a hissy-fit over Harvey and complaining to his bosses.

Richard - maybe I’m blind - where does this file come from? FBI? 
I

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3 hours ago, Gene Kelly said:

The Otepka story is not what it seems ... the entire thing is "off" and smells of a smear strategy against RFK.  I agree with previous assessments that Joan Mellen may have been taken-in by Otepka when she interviewed him, and that he is not as innocent or aggrieved as it appears. Mellen argues that Oswald was on RFK’s radar from early on because he was part of an RFK/JFK plan to eventually take out Castro ... with all that we now know, this is very difficult to believe. There is however speculation that Otepka caught on to the process of rinsing poopoo’s into White Russians, and that the CIA did not need Otepka revealing their poopoo rat line. In hindsight, that RFK put Walter Sheridan in charge of watching Otepka, makes it look like a CIA operation, since Sheridan was a CIA cut-out all along. That also seems to be the case with Charles W. Lyons ... years later, it would be Walter Sheridan that pushed the narrative that RFK and JFK were planning to kill Castro (with Oswald involved) and that the blow-back is what eventually caused Castro assassins to turn their guns on JFK instead.  As many have pointed out, blaming RFK for his brother’s death was a good way for the CIA to deflect  blame.

Material later released shows Otepka as supplying information to Julian Sourwine, chief counsel for the Senate's Internal Security Subcommittee (SISS).  William Gill's book, "The Ordeal of Otto Otepka" (and interesting title) alleges that the Kennedy administration maneuvered Otepka to the sidelines.  Then, for good measure, Gill describes how Walter Rostow and Dean Rusk laid out JFK's goals for American foreign policy:  unilateral disarmament and accommodation with Communism.  Finally, Gill asserts that Rostow and  Rusk engineered the Bay of Pigs disaster as well as the Vietnam War ... but (heroically) "one man stood in their way, Otto Otepka".  Notably, Otepka's biographer (Gill) was married to a former poopoo Abwehr spy, Countess Mechtilde Podewils who spied in Spain in 1937 and was interrogated for her role in the July 1944 plot to assassinate Hitler. She came to the U.S. under Operation Paperclip. A 1972 article by Peters & Branch describes Otepka as a right-wing martyr and the first whistleblower in the modern period. Peter Dale Scott's assessment pulls it all together:

At least one of the key figures handling Oswald records, Otto Otepka in the State Department Office of Security, became in 1963, before the assassination, the focus of a major conflict between the Kennedy Administration and the more hawkish Senate Internal Security Subcommittee looking for subversives in the government. This conflict had arisen in 1959 over Cuba policy, but came to embrace Kennedy initiatives towards the Soviet Union and over Vietnam. This conflict inside Washington reflected a larger conflict in the country: between doves with civilian priorities seeking to modify Cold War strategies by accommodations with Khrushchev, and hawks with military priorities seeking a more aggressive strategy (and larger defense budget) to fight Communism. This larger conflict was particularly acute in the Kennedy years (as again under Nixon during Watergate). But it was only a phase in an enduring struggle between "America Firsters" and "New World Order" globalists, pitting, through nearly all of this century, the industry-oriented (e.g., the National Association of Manufacturers) against the financial oriented (e.g., the Council on Foreign Relations), two different sources of wealth.

Then there is this revelation

It was in June 1963, after the Lafayette incident, and after the Walker shooting, that Otepka’s files on Oswald were stolen from his safe. The culprits, Otepka wrote in a 1976 letter to author Edward J. Epstein at “Reader’s Digest” magazine, were his superiors, people close to Attorney General Robert Kennedy. Otepka’s crime had been his studying Oswald, as it had been his responsibility to do.

Otepka was reportedly close to Julien Sourwine, Robert Morris, and Ray Rocca, and defended Willis Carto and Liberty Lobby. He was associated with Senators Dodd and Eastland ... all strange bedfellows. Previous EF threads point out that the American Defense Fund (a fund with the John Birch Society association) gave $22,000 to Otepka for his legal costs, and that Otepka allegedly spoke to gatherings at the homes of Birch Society activists. He also spoke at a large meeting in the auditorium of the Flick-Reedy Education Enterprises, an ultra-conservation organization. Last (but not least), he was a member of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers.

Hi Gene - nice summary. Pamela asked the question about RFK interfering with Garrison’s investigation. Do you think this falls under the same heading - that something is off about this? It seems clear that Sheridan did that. I haven’t dug down enough to know for sure if that is well documented. Assuming it is, how good is the evidence tracing Sheridan’s anti-Garrison actions to RFK?
After more thought something occurred to me. It seems possible that General Walker’s claim - that he knew Oswald had shot at him, had been taken into custody that night, had been released on orders from RFK, none of which was ever stated by Walker until after 11/22 - could have come from Robert Morris, through Otepka. 

Edited by Paul Brancato
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1 hour ago, Paul Brancato said:

Richard - maybe I’m blind - where does this file come from? FBI? 
I

Hey Paul,

It's FBI. I pulled it from a FOIA request for William King Harvey that was submitted by voluminous FOIA requester Emma Best (who has uploaded millions of pages online from her thousands of requests).

You can find the Harvey file here. Some interesting reading in there:

https://archive.org/details/WilliamKingHarvey

There are a few ways to tell it's from FBI. Easiest is probably seeing at the top where it says "To: Belmont" -- that's Alan Belmont. If you've seen a lot of FBI files you can also tell it's FBI by the way "Memorandum" looks at the top.

Another way you can tell it's FBI is the tone, and by how brazenly and openly it just airs CIA dirty laundry. CIA would not be putting things like this on paper. Whereas at FBI, due to their institutional rivalry, they have no compunction writing about perceived CIA misadventures. At the time of that FBI memo was written, Hoover is still in charge and he hated William K. Harvey. If you review the Harvey FOIA above you'll find memo after memo with Hoover and his minions (Belmont, Tolson, any of the top Hoover boys) vociferously complaining about Harvey to CIA. Really petty stuff.

Anyhow, yes, it's FBI. Rather surprising to find so many details all in a single memo, especially given how highly classified those details were at the time this memo was written (summer of '63)

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