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Nixon's plan to threaten the CIA on JFK's assassination


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An article by Jefferson Morley from his upcoming book "Scorpions’ Dance: The President, the Spymaster and Watergate", spotlighting a taped conversation from 1971 between Richard Nixon and Richard Helms.

Quote

“What I want, what I want, Dick,” he rasped, “regarding any understanding, regarding any information, I do not want any information that comes in from you on these delicate and sensitive subjects to go to anybody outside …”

Nixon was finally ready to tip his hand.

“The ‘Who shot John?’ angle,” he said quietly, 17 minutes into the conversation. Nixon did not dwell on the phrase. He didn’t need to. In the context of his long-standing demand for the CIA’s records, the invocation of “the ‘Who shot John?’ angle” can only refer to one thing: Kennedy’s assassination. The ambush in Dallas was the first thing on Nixon’s mind as he pressed the director for the agency’s Bay of Pigs files. The president intuited a connection between the failed invasion in 1961 and JFK’s assassination two years later.

https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2022/06/05/nixon-helms-cia-jfk-assassination-00037232

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Posted (edited)
20 minutes ago, Denny Zartman said:

An article by Jefferson Morley from his upcoming book "Scorpions’ Dance: The President, the Spymaster and Watergate", spotlighting a taped conversation from 1971 between Richard Nixon and Richard Helms.

https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2022/06/05/nixon-helms-cia-jfk-assassination-00037232

At one point, James Angleton testified:  “A mansion has many rooms, I’m not privy to who shot John.” 

But this is not necessarily a reference to the Kennedy assassination. 

In 1986, William Safire discussed the expression "Who shot John" in a NY Times article:

 

 

NOBODY REALLY cares who shot John.

That's because who shot John is inherently dismissive, always used in the sense of a question that the speaker is not about to answer because it involves loathsome finger-pointing, unworthy of the fair-minded.

When Marlin Fitzwater, press spokesman for Vice President George Bush, was asked about Bush's support of the President's policy to ship arms to Iran, he said, according to The Washington Post, ''that Bush does not want to discuss the process of 'who shot John' in making the Iran decisions.'' The reporter, David Hoffman, quoted the spokesman directly, adding, ''This is a classic example of the kind of thing for six years that George Bush has never commented on, in good times or bad.''

That derogation concerning blame-fixing has been steadily gaining currency. A 1977 recording by Nathan Page used those words as its title, and the expression must have been helped along by the ''Who Shot J.R.?'' promotion of the television drama ''Dallas.'' ''For the first three months of his campaign,'' wrote The Washington Post's T.R. Reid about Senator Edward M. Kennedy's quest for the Presidency in 1980, ''Kennedy flailed around on a sprawling spectrum of issues ranging from who-shot-John-in-Teheran to the wiretap provisions of the criminal code bill.''

Richard M. Nixon always liked the locution. In 1977, he told a reporter, Austin Scott, about the terrible personal pressures on former Attorney General John Mitchell, and concluded, ''And so, that's the human side of the story, which . . . I know that you and the press, you can't be interested in that. You can only be interested in 'Who shot John.' Well, go ahead. . . .''

Stuart Berg Flexner finds in his file of old slang citations that ''the earliest ones are British. Around 1860, there's a reference in the file to British Royal Military Academies where men sat around playing 'who shot John.' The Army phrase play who shot John might suggest its origin in a children's game, but there is simply not enough evidence.''

John was a slang term for a student at the British military schools, which might account for the origin, but this mystery never received the attention given that of an unrelated crime, ''Who killed Cock Robin?'' (to which the sparrow confessed).

Those interested in the shooter of John are likely to run up against the stone wall of disdain at finger-pointing and contempt for the bandying-about of recriminations - as if those searching for the culprit were themselves blameworthy for being cruelly houndlike.

If we must deal with this expression slanted in favor of the concealer, let's adopt a style: I prefer hyphenating, who-shot-John, to putting quotation marks around the noun clause or trying to set it off with the capitalization of Who. Thus, instead of getting into a ''who shot John'' or descending to a Who shot John, I would rather not be drawn into a who-shot-John.

 

P.S. One of the first rock n roll songs was "Who Slapped John?" by Gene Vincent. It was clearly a play on the the children's game alluded to above.

 

Edited by Pat Speer
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 I just read the article, and Jeff makes another mistake beyond his assertion the "Who shot John" reference was a clear reference to the Kennedy assassination. He writes that Hunt blamed JFK for the Bay of Pigs fiasco. Hunt wrote Give Us This day, a book on the Bay of Pigs. In it, he largely blamed Charles Cabell, who was asked point blank by Kennedy if air cover was absolutely necessary, and said "No." As I recall, Hunt also blamed the CIA chain-in-command, through which Cabell was tasked with talking to Kennedy, even though he wasn't up to snuff. 

Of course, it's also a myth that Kennedy refused to approve the air cover. After at first being told it was unnecessary, he approved it. But the CIA and Pentagon failed to coordinate watches, and the air cover wasn't there to protect the planes flying in from Nicaragua. 

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Posted (edited)

https://www.kennedysandking.com/articles/biden-trump-the-cia-reflections-in-a-dark-mirror-nixon-vs-helms-1971

 I wrote about this episode in April of last year. 

You may not like a Nixon or a Trump (and I do not)---but really, the elected President of the US can not get requested documents from the CIA? 

The CIA keep spies inside the White House? 

So...who runs America, the Deep State or an elected President? 

PS--I think the Politico article is fine, but misses that point: Nixon, as President, requested documents from the CIA and was sandbagged. That is not a tenable arrangement---does it persist to this day? 

 

 

Edited by Benjamin Cole
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Personally I would not quote Safire on anything to do with JFK.

Hunt was very bitter about what happened after the Bay of Pigs, the Taylor Commission. 

He very much resented that Bobby Kennedy went after Allen Dulles so harshly.

He and Dulles knew that Allen would be gone.  Hunt wrote the infamous article in Fortune, which blamed the failure of the Bay of Pigs on Kennedy.  And it was over the  alleged called off D Day air strikes.  They knew it was not his fault but they wanted to shift the blame for the doomed operation from Dulles to JFK.  (Destiny Betrayed, second edition, pp. 53-55)

The article went out with Charles Murphy as the reporter but Hunt and Dulles proofread the final draft.

JFK was so angry about this article he stripped Murphy of his Air Force reserve status.  Murphy said, that was Ok with him since his loyalty was to Dulles not Kennedy. That was the first time I had ever seen anyone place that kind of thing in writing.  It was kind of shocking to see it.

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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, Pat Speer said:

 I just read the article, and Jeff makes another mistake beyond his assertion the "Who shot John" reference was a clear reference to the Kennedy assassination. He writes that Hunt blamed JFK for the Bay of Pigs fiasco. Hunt wrote Give Us This day, a book on the Bay of Pigs. In it, he largely blamed Charles Cabell, who was asked point blank by Kennedy if air cover was absolutely necessary, and said "No." As I recall, Hunt also blamed the CIA chain-in-command, through which Cabell was tasked with talking to Kennedy, even though he wasn't up to snuff. 

Of course, it's also a myth that Kennedy refused to approve the air cover. After at first being told it was unnecessary, he approved it. But the CIA and Pentagon failed to coordinate watches, and the air cover wasn't there to protect the planes flying in from Nicaragua. 

While I agree with you in principal Pat, there’s just something about these “who shot John” exchanges and the fact that they are coming up like this. Given the clear context of Kennedy‘s death not that many years before, is it not possible that they were playing a spycraft game with double meanings? Even if only for their own amusement? Just a theory. 

Edited by Allen Lowe
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1 hour ago, Allen Lowe said:

While I agree with you in principal Pat, there’s just something about these “who shot John” exchanges and the fact that they are coming up like this. Given the clear context of Kennedy‘s death not that many years before, is it not possible that they were playing a spycraft game with double meanings? Even if only for their own amusement? Just a theory. 

I agree. They may have used the old expression as a code. Kinda like in Harry Potter, where they called Voldemort "He who shall not be named."

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An Idiom ... a long and involved explanation; a thing of which an explanation would be long and involved. According to William Safire, Nixon always liked the locution:

"In 1977, he told a reporter, Austin Scott, about the terrible personal pressures on former Attorney General John Mitchell, and concluded, ''And so, that's the human side of the story, which . . . I know that you and the press, you can't be interested in that. You can only be interested in 'Who shot John.' Well, go ahead ... ''

The phrase was used by John Wayne in his last film that featured a young Ron Howard, to describe another gunslinger's actions after he had a drink/got drunk. He used the term "who shot John" to describe the whiskey. It was in the scene where he was teaching Ron Howard how to shoot a pistol.

"You never know what he might do once he gets enough of that "who shot John" in him, Pilgrum!

Gene

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The "accepted" version of Watergate would have Hunt portrayed as a low-level bumbler,but I find it interesting that in HSCA researcher handwritten notes the following information is recorded:

Subject's security file reflects that Hunt,in the past,has been of operational interest to Mr. James Angleton.

Hunt soft file-early [19]70 proposed for Intelligence Medal of Merit for "sensitive [work] in Spain for DDP and DCI"

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34 minutes ago, Robin Finn said:

The "accepted" version of Watergate would have Hunt portrayed as a low-level bumbler,but I find it interesting that in HSCA researcher handwritten notes the following information is recorded:

Subject's security file reflects that Hunt,in the past,has been of operational interest to Mr. James Angleton.

Hunt soft file-early [19]70 proposed for Intelligence Medal of Merit for "sensitive [work] in Spain for DDP and DCI"

Any idea what sensitive CIA work Hunt did in Spain? 

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Any idea what sensitive CIA work Hunt did in Spain? 

The official version was that he was making contacts with individuals who would be influential in a post-Franco Spain. There has been speculation that this was just cover for  Castro assassination planning.

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Posted (edited)
11 hours ago, Robin Finn said:

Any idea what sensitive CIA work Hunt did in Spain? 

The official version was that he was making contacts with individuals who would be influential in a post-Franco Spain. There has been speculation that this was just cover for  Castro assassination planning.

I suspect that Hunt was working with Earl Williamson as part of the AMLASH project. AMLASH-1 was Rolando Cubela. Cubela's contact in Madrid was COS Williamson. Cubela did not like Williamson and considered him a drunk. The AMLASH operation was considered a political operation, so who else but Hunt? The CIA put Hunt's friend, Manuel Artime in touch with Cubela to work on the details of the plot. Another of Hunt's friends, Jack Stewart, also worked closely with Cubela and Williamson. Hunt and Bernard Barker would later ask Jack Stewart to join in the Watergate operation. Stewart was to coordinate things from Florida. This would be one of the other things about Hunt that Nixon was referring to.

Some notes and refs below:

Stewart's sister being interviewed by FBI. She hadn't seen him in years. He worked for the State Department.

Mr. Hunt then approached a “Mr. Stewart,” otherwise unidentified by Mr. Silbert, and on Feb. 1 Mr. Stewart spent much of the day in Miami with Bernard L. Barker, a real estate agent who is one of the defendants.  

During the Democratic convention in Miami Beach, Mr. Silbert said, there would be a “communications center” on a houseboat in nearby Biscayne. Bay and Mr. Stewart would work there.

Returning to his real estate office, Mr. Barker was alleged to have shown his visitor Democratic party records, unspecified by Mr. Silbert, that had already been “obtained.”

Mr. Stewart also turned down Mr. Hunt.

Jack Stewart living with Earl Williamson and Ellis Marshall. Stewart getting phone calls from "Bernie Barker." Williamson moving to Puerto Rico. Earl J Williamson also lived in Virginia. Stewart working with Hunt's group in the DNC break in.

Barker was handled by Stewart. Sturgis knew Jack Stewart. Tepedino knew Stewart in true name. 
 
Earl J Williamson back working as AC/WH/COG dealing with Garrison accusations.
Edited by David Boylan
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David - thanks for the links. I remember reading that Hunt had been appointed to a CIA post in Spain in 1964, so this must refer to pre Watergate. I also recall Fensterwald saying he had eye witness testimony to Hunt’s presence in Madrid in 1962. What connection does AMLASH have with Spain? 

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11 hours ago, Paul Brancato said:

David - thanks for the links. I remember reading that Hunt had been appointed to a CIA post in Spain in 1964, so this must refer to pre Watergate. I also recall Fensterwald saying he had eye witness testimony to Hunt’s presence in Madrid in 1962. What connection does AMLASH have with Spain? 

If I recall that's where the 11/22 meeting took place where Desmond Fitzgerald offered him a poison pen.

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