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Richard Case Nagell Revisited


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Given that Nagell - and my views on his story - have come up here recently,  I thought I would share a recent blog post I made on that subject.

More importantly the post contains a link to an extended interview I did this month on Nagell with Bob Wilson.  I was pleased with it and think it gave me the time to capture enough about my research on Nagell to present why I wrote about him in Someone Would Have Talked but why he does not appear in my most recent work, Tipping Point.

If you are interested you can find the blog post and a link to the interview here:

https://larryhancock.wordpress.com/2022/02/01/richard-case-nagell-revisited/

 

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Thank you, Larry.  Did you say earlier that there was another Nagell blog post coming?

Can you remind us: what was the approximate date that Nagell tried to defect at the US Embassy in Mex City, as your blog post notes?

Edited by David Andrews
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The post I was referring to went up on my blog this morning David - the approximate time of his Mexico City visit and appearance at the Embassy would have been Fall 62 in the same general time frame as the Cuban missile crisis.   He told Dick that he had been asked to do something related to Cuba and interestingly enough Hecksher was on a special assignment to Mexico City in that same time frame - for exactly what purpose is unknown.

 

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Nagell traveled cheaply, in his own car and staying with relatives along the way...and checking into a veterans hospital in Florida as well.  Nagell intimates that the Russians had provided some funding for him to investigate Oswald but it appears that as usual he took off on his own after Dallas and visiting his own relatives.  Dick Russell might have more insight on where his money was coming from but that is an excellent question.  Its also not impossible he might have had some money left over from whatever he was asked to do in Mexico City in the fall of 62.   As for myself, I didn't run across anything that would tie down his finaces or spending - but it was clear that to some extent he was literally living out of his car during those travels.

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RCN's story has had many hours of research by Hancock and Russell. Much of it has been documented and verified. More importantly, Nagell's story line provides a possible motive for LHO's involvement in the JFK assassination. A topic the Warren Commission mightily struggled with.

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1981 letter on Nagell from Bud Fensterwald to author Jack Swike, with Nagell's notations on photocopy.  Check the reason he wouldn't talk.  Nagell also angrily wrote to Swike that the time for interested researchers (such as Swike and Dick Russell) to have questioned him was when he'd been "taken for that ride on the Texas merry-go-round and put through the wringer at Leavenworth, not now."  He apparently thought his Mexican standoff had gotten him what he wanted, and didn't want the balance disturbed.  Though researchers had persuaded him to go back on that before. 

Screenshot 2022-02-01 at 19-45-09 The Missing Chapter.png

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16 minutes ago, David Andrews said:

1981 letter on Nagell from Bud Fensterwald to author Jack Swike, with Nagell's notations on photocopy.  Check the reason he wouldn't talk.  Nagell also angrily wrote to Swike that the time for interested researchers (such as Swike and Dick Russell) to have questioned him was when he'd been "taken for that ride on the Texas merry-go-round and put through the wringer at Leavenworth, not now."  He apparently thought his Mexican standoff had gotten him what he wanted, and didn't want the balance disturbed.  Though researchers had persuaded him to go back on that before. 

Screenshot 2022-02-01 at 19-45-09 The Missing Chapter.png

Aren’t these Mr. Swike’s comments? 

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Larry, check if I have this convoluted story in order, and give me an opinion on my question, please. 

  • Harry Hecksher was "Bob," and "Bob" presented himself to Nagell as a double agent for Russia
  • "Bob" coerced Nagell into surveilling Oswald for the Soviets
  • If Nagell refused, he would face exposure for a previous action "Bob" had gotten Nagell to unwittingly perform for the Soviets

If that's all correct as we know it...is there any way "Bob"/Hecksher could have lied about being doubled by the Soviets, and was actually stage managing Nagell's pursuit of Oswald for CIA or some part of the intelligence apparatus?

Edited by David Andrews
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29 minutes ago, Paul Brancato said:

Aren’t these Mr. Swike’s comments? 

No.  Swike says Nagell "somehow got a copy of [the] letter" and that "these are his comments." 

And that "tee hee" is typical RCN.

The letter is attachment 13-10 in Swike's book The Missing Chapter: Lee Harvey Oswald in the Far East

https://books.google.com/books?id=64ji-mF2oaAC&pg=PA174&lpg=PA174&dq=richard+case+nagell+albany&source=bl&ots=0z950w9aYy&sig=ACfU3U3GG13OzipgTT-enRYNCHcgbo73mw&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjL85aD19_1AhWkY98KHWMaD5YQ6AF6BAgVEAM#v=onepage&q=richard case nagell albany&f=false

Edited by David Andrews
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David, I'm doing this from memory so it will be imperfect -

Nagell was recruited by some unknown party to go to Mexico City for some activity related to Cuba during the general time frame of the missile crisis....the only thing we know for sure that he did was to approach the embassy and express his intent to defect, providing information to a foreign government.  That was documented, there was no response from the US intelligence community but it seems likely that it was some sort of test of our personnel and a dangle to the Cubans or Russians.

Nagell was also contacted in Mexico City by someone who he had known in Tokyo, in the intel community, named Bob.  I suspect that was Hecksher.  Whether Hecksher was involved in the Embassy project or some related CI activity for Nagell is unclear,  Nagell suggests the latter...possibly follow on work to his embassy dangle.

While in MC he was contacted by someone who he said he had known in Tokyo, someone who knew that Nagell had mixed emotions about many of the things the US did in its counter intelligence work and who knew the Nagell had some level of exposure to Oswald in Tokyo, apparently in regard to Oswald's interest in the Soviet embassy there.

That person recruited Nagell to investigate a risk that Oswald was felt to represent. 

I have never been clear that Bob/Hecksher was actually the individual that  put Nagell on to Oswald,  perhaps but I deem it unlikely given Hecksher's role at the time.  Nagell may have confabulated this, he was rather upset with how the CIA had handled him.  And for that matter Hecksher left Mexico City well before Nagell did.

My guess is someone from Soviet intel followed up on Nagell's defection offer, responded to the dangle, got a file on him (the KGB was relentless with files) and realized that Nagell had been compromised in Tokyo and could be maneuvered into checking into Oswald (who I can see the KGB as being interested in since he seems to have been a mystery to them too). 

So personally I cannot directly connect Hecksher/Bob to Nagell's Oswald adventure. 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Larry Hancock
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OK, Larry - Thanks very much.

My recollection is that Dick Russell wrote that Nagell said that"Bob" revealed himself as a double and hooked Nagell into a situation where non-cooperation would get Nagell exposed for an unwitting offense.  I'll have to reread Russell for accuracy, and factor in your findings.

Edited by David Andrews
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