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Mary Pinchot Meyer

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There is very little on the web on Mary Pinchot Meyer. The top ranking page of course is on the McAdams website. Written by Ben Hayes it attempts to show that there is nothing suspicious about the murder of Meyer. It concludes with the following:

Does the evidence suggest that Mary Pinchot Meyer was bumped off as part of a conspiracy involving the assassination of President John F. Kennedy? The first question we must ask in order to answer this is, could Mary have gained information that was dangerous enough to warrant her being murdered? There is little doubt that Mary was in fact Kennedy's mistress, but, as his mistress, what could she have found out from him? If John Kennedy knew something of his own assassination, he certainly would have taken protective measures to prevent it. Furthermore, those who have read her diary give no suggestion that it contained any information having to do with the assassination. There was a conspiracy to cover up the existence of the diary, but it was the sole intent of that conspiracy to cover up Mary's affair with President Kennedy.

Mary's concern over her diary could suggest that she was aware of her imminent demise, but if she had information that was dangerous to her life, why didn't she talk about it? The more she talked, the less valuable her death would become, but she apparently did not make any such statements before her death, and none were included in her diary.

As discussed previously, the CIA connection with her death is really not all that mysterious. Mary had been married to a high ranking CIA official, and as a result, she knew people associated with the CIA. Ben Bradlee, an extremely liberal journalist and a member of the group that initially broke the Watergate scandal, is most zealous in denying a CIA connection that he allegedly helped cover up. Phil Nobilem and Ron Rosenbaum quote Ben Bradlee as saying in regards to the CIA connection, "If there was anything there, I would have done it (written the story) myself" (Philip Nobilem and Ron Rosenbaum, New Times 9th July, 1976)

Perhaps the best evidence that there was nothing sinister with Mary Meyer's death is the murder itself. Even though Ray Crump was eventually found "not guilty," it is fairly obvious that he probably did commit the murder. The case is officially unsolved, but the case is also officially closed.

The testimony of Henry Wiggins also suggests that Mary was not murdered as the result of a professional hit. He said she yelled, "Someone help me, someone help me," and then she was shot. As Tuco, played by Eli Wallach, said in The Good, the Bad, the Ugly, "When you have to shoot, shoot. Don't talk." A professional hitman would not try to molest someone before they killed him or her. This would only give the victim the opportunity to yell for help. A profession hit would be quick and as silent as possible so as not to draw attention. Mary Meyer's murder was apparently a botched rape or robbery attempt, in which, as she tried to escape, or get help, was gunned down.

After extensive investigating, we can see that Mary Pinchot Meyer's death had nothing to do with the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. As with so many other mystery deaths, we find that Mary Pinchot Meyer died because of an unlucky set of events. She was brutally murdered by a disturbed young man, as was her lover, as are so many people each and every day.

As always on McAdams' website. Important information is left out of this story.

Mary Pinchot married Cord Meyer in 1945. At the time Meyer was an advocate of world government. In 1948 he attended the San Francisco Conference as an aide to Harold Stassen. After the formation of the United Nations Meyer established the United World Federalists, an organization that promoted the idea of a world without nuclear weapons.

Cord Meyer had been shocked by the dropping of the atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. After the war Meyer commissioned a film by Pare Lorentz called The Beginning or the End. Meyer wanted this film to be the definitive statement about the dangers of the atomic age.

Mary and her husband lived in Washington and became members of the Georetown Crowd. This group included Frank Wisner, Richard Bissell, Desmond FitzGerald, Joseph Alsop, Tracy Barnes, Philip Graham, Katharine Graham, David Bruce, Clark Clifford, Walt Rostow, Eugene Rostow, Chip Bohlen and Paul Nitze.

Frank Wisner was director of the Office of Policy Coordination (OPC). This became the espionage and counter-intelligence branch of the Central Intelligence Agency. Wisner was told to create an organization that concentrated on "propaganda, economic warfare; preventive direct action, including sabotage, anti-sabotage, demolition and evacuation measures; subversion against hostile states, including assistance to underground resistance groups, and support of indigenous anti-Communist elements in threatened countries of the free world."

In 1950 Meyer formed the Committee to Frame a World Constitution with Robert Maynard Hutchins and Elizabeth Mann Borgese. As a result of this work Meyer made contact with the International Cooperative Alliance, the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, the Indian Socialist Party and the Congress of Peoples Against Imperialism.

Although Cord Meyer was attacked by people such as Joseph McCarthy as being a subversive at the time, he was in reality working for the Central Intelligence Agency. Frank Wisner had recruited him as part of Operation Mockingbird, a CIA program to influence the American media. According to Deborah Davis (Katharine the Great: Katharine Graham and the Washington Post): Meyer was Mockingbird's "principal operative".

In 1956 Cord Meyer became a covert operations agent in Europe. Mary did not go with him and later that year the couple were divorced. Mary went to live with her sister, Antoinette Pinchot and her husband Ben Bradlee. The Bradlees set up Mary's apartment and art studio in their converted garage.

Mary started a relationship with the artist, Kenneth Noland. She had an active social life and in January, 1962, began an affair with President John F. Kennedy. She told her friends, Ann and James Truitt, that she was keeping a diary about the affair. The relationship lasted until his death on November, 1963.

On 12th October, 1964, Mary Pinchot Meyer was shot dead as she walked along the Chesapeake and Ohio towpath in Georgetown. Henry Wiggins, a car mechanic, was working on a vehicle on Canal Road, when he heard a woman shout out: "Someone help me, someone help me". He then heard two gunshots. Wiggins ran to the edge of the wall overlooking the towpath. He later told police he saw "a black man in a light jacket, dark slacks, and a dark cap standing over the body of a white woman."

Soon afterwards Raymond Crump, a black man, was found not far from the murder scene. He was arrested and charged with Mary's murder. The towpath and the river were searched but no murder weapon was ever found.

During the trial Wiggins was unable to identify Raymond Crump as the man standing over Meyer's body. The prosecution was also handicaped by the fact that the police had been unable to find the murder weapon at the scene of the crime. On 29th July, 1965, Crump was acquitted of murdering Mary Meyer. The case remains unsolved.

In March, 1976, James Truitt gave an interview to the National Enquirer. Truitt told the newspaper that Mary Pinchot Meyer was having an affair with John F. Kennedy. He also claimed that Meyer had told his wife, Ann Truitt, that she was keeping an account of this relationship in her diary. Meyer asked Truitt to take possession of a private diary "if anything ever happened to me".

Ann Truitt was living in Tokyo at the time of the murder. She phoned Ben Bradlee at his home and asked him if he had found the diary. Bradlee, who claimed he was unaware of his sister-in-law's affair with Kennedy, knew nothing about the diary. He later recalled what he did after Truitt's phone-call: "We didn't start looking until the next morning, when Tony and I walked around the corner a few blocks to Mary's house. It was locked, as we had expected, but when we got inside, we found Jim Angleton, and to our complete surprise he told us he, too, was looking for Mary's diary."

James Angleton, CIA counter-intelligence chief, admitted that he knew of Mary's relationship with John F. Kennedy and was searching her home looking for her diary and any letters that would reveal details of the affair. According to Ben Bradlee, it was Mary's sister, Antoinette Bradlee, who found the diary and letters a few days later. It was claimed that the diary was in a metal box in Mary's studio. The contents of the box were given to Angleton who claimed he burnt the diary (this was later found to be untrue).

Leo Damore claimed in an article that appeared in the New York Post that the reason Angleton and Bradlee were looking for the diary was that: "She (Meyer) had access to the highest levels. She was involved in illegal drug activity. What do you think it would do to the beatification of Kennedy if this woman said, 'It wasn't Camelot, it was Caligula's court'?"

There is another possible reason why both Angleton and Bradlee were searching for documents in Meyer's house. Meyer had been married to a leading CIA operative involved in a variety of covert operations in the early 1950s. Were they worried that Meyer had kept a record of these activities? Was this why Mary Pinochet Meyer had been murdered?

Is it a coincidence that the two women closest to JFK died in the years following his assassination. Did JFK tell Mary Meyer and Florence Smith something that was not good for their health?

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Nice post John!

There are some interesting references to Mary in Timothy Leary's semi-autobiographical account, 'Flashbacks.'

According to Leary, Mary Meyer had approached him while he was still teaching at Harvard. Leary had been experimenting with LSD.

Page 128 - 129

"I'm Mary Pinchot. I've come from Washington to discuss something very important. I want to learn how to run an LSD session.... I have this friend who's a very important man. He's impressed by what I've told him about my own LSD experiences and what other people have told him...."

Page 130

"You poor things,' she murmered. "You have no idea what you've gotten into. You really don't understand what's happening in Washington with drugs, do you?"

"We've heard some rumors about the military," I said.

"It's time you learned more. The guys who run things -- I mean the guys who really run things in Washington -- are very interested in psychology, and drugs in particular. These people play hardball, Timothy. They want to use drugs for warfare, for espionage, for brainwashing, for control."

Page 154

"You may not know that dissident organizations in academia are also controlled. The CIA creates the radical journalists and student organizations and runs them with deep-cover agents."

Leary doesn't believe this.

Interesting aside on The FPCC.


11. In early 1961, the CIA ran a domestic destabilization operation against the FPCC under the direction of David Atlee Phillips and future Watergate conspirator, James McCord. After the CIA’s operation wound down, the FBI picked up the reigns and ran their own operations to infiltrate the FPCC. See John Newman, Oswald and the CIA (New York: Carroll and Graf, 1995), pp. 236-244.

By Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan

(updated 2001)

David Phillips, who rose to become head of the division, has long been a controversial figure in the assassination story. He was in charge of anti-Castro operations in Mexico in late 1963, and would one day run into trouble with Congress’Assassinations Committee. Chief counsel Blakey later said dryly that the committee had been “less than satisfied with his candor.”

A former C.I.A. Clandestine Services officer who worked with Phillips, Joseph Smith, told us that the Agency’s attitude toward the Fair Play for Cuba Committee – the F.P.C.C. – was “one of great hostility…We did everything we could to make sure it was not successful – to smear it and I think to penetrate it. I think Oswald may have been part of a penetration attempt.”

Members of the F.P.C.C. wondered constantly whether their colleagues were government stool pigeons. One former New Jersey member, Hal Verb, recalled that suspicion even fell on one of the group’s founding directors, a CBS Radio journalist named Richard T. Gibson. While Gibson has staunchly denied any disloyalty, recently released C.I.A. documents include a letter in which – more than a decade later – the Agency formally asked a commercial company “to assist C.I.A. by placing on retainer Mr. Richard T. Gibson.” “How would that have come out? …,” said Gibson, when we told him about the document, “I’m amazed. It sounds a little bit like disinformation to me.” He suggested that the letter might be about a different man with the same name and middle initial.

"...Do you remember the American Veterans Committee, that liberal GI group you belonged to after the war? The CIA started that. Just like Teddy Roosevelt started the American Legion after the first World War. Remember your friend Gilbert Harrison? He ran the radicals out of AVC. And later he bought the New Republic -- that so-called progressive magazine -- from Michael Straight, your hero. Do you know why Michael Straight backed Henry Wallace for president in 1948? To siphon liberal votes away from Truman?"

"How do you know all this? How did you know I knew Michael Straight?"

"I knocked you with those facts to get your attention. It's a standard intelligence trick. I could tell you a hundred stories like that."

Page 194

Ever since the Kennedy assassination I had been expecting a phone call from Mary. It came around December 1.

I could hardly understand her. She was either drunk or drugged or overwhelmed with grief. Or all three. "They couldn't control him anymore. He was changing too fast."

Long pause. Hysterical crying. I spoke reassurance. She sobbed. "They've covered everything up. I gotta come see you. I'm afraid. Be careful."

The line went dead. Worried, I could do nothing.

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Ever since the Kennedy assassination I had been expecting a phone call from Mary.  It came around December 1.

I could hardly understand her.  She was either drunk or drugged or overwhelmed with grief.  Or all three.  "They couldn't control him anymore.  He was changing too fast."

Long pause.  Hysterical crying.  I spoke reassurance.  She sobbed.  "They've covered everything up.  I gotta come see you.  I'm afraid.  Be careful."

The line went dead. Worried, I could do nothing.

Very interesting. Is this a quote from "Flashbacks"?

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John, as far as I know, Angleton was never asked why he wanted the diary. Bradlee makes it sound like Angleton went after it purely as a favor to his wife, one of Meyer's close friends. Furthermore, I've never understood why the Bradlees would give it to Angleton to destroy when they could have done it themselves. The only thing I can think of is that Angleton was hoping to use it against Robert Kennedy, with Bradlee's blessing. When Angleton's safe was opened, the CIA found a complete autopsy report on Robert Kennedy's death, with autopsy photos. This has never been explained. (One possibility is that Angleton, the CIA's liaison with Mossad, suspected Sirhan was a Palestinian or KGB operative.) Anyhow, maybe you can get Joe Trento to pipe in on this thread with his impressions.

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This one was new for me. Some pieces exact, other pieces a bit different than 'Flashbacks.'


Mary Pinchot Meyer 9 comments

From 1960 to 1967 I was director of research projects at Harvard University and Millbrook, New York which studied the effects of brain-change drugs. During this period a talented group of psychologists and philosophers on our staff ran guided "trips" for over 3000 volunteers. These projects won world-wide recognition as centers for consciousness alteration and exploration of new dimensions of the mind.

Our headquarters at Harvard and Millbrook were regularly visited by people interested in expanding their intelligence -poets and writers like Allen Ginsberg, Charles Olsen, Jack Kerouac, Robert Lovell; musicians like "The Grateful Dead," Charles Mingus, Miles Davis, John Lennon, Jim Morrison; philosophers like Aldous Huxley, Arthur Koestler, Alan Watts; swamis, gurus, mystics, psychics by the troops. Scores of scientists from top universities. And occasionally steely-eyed experts, from government and military centers also participated.

It was not until the Freedom of Information Act of the Carter administration that we learned that the CIA had spent 25 million dollars on brain-change drugs, and that the U.S. Army at Edgewater Arsenal in Maryland had given LSD and stronger psychedelic drugs to over 7000 unwitting, uninformed enlisted men.

The most fascinating and important of these hundreds of visitors showed up in the Spring of 1962. I was sitting in my office at Harvard University one morning when I looked up to see a woman leaning against the door post, hip tilted provocatively, studying me with a bold stare. She appeared to be in her late thirties. Good looking. Flamboyant eye- brows, piercing green-blue eyes, fine-boned face. Amused, arrogant, aristocratic. "Dr. Leary," she said cooly,"I've got to talk to you."

She took a few steps forward and held out her hand. "I'm Mary Pinchot. I've come from Washington to discuss something very important. I want to learn how to run an LSD session."

"That's our specialty here. Would you like to tell me what you have in mind?"

"I have this friend who's a very important man. He's impressed by what I've told him about my own LSD experiences and what other people have told him. He wants to try it himself. So I'm here to learn how to do it. I mean. I don't want to goof up or something."

"Why don't you have your important friend come here with you to look over our project for a couple of days. Then if it makes sense to all concerned, we'll run a session for him."

"Out of the question. My friend is a public figure. It's just not possible."

"People involved in power usually don't make the best subjects."

"Don't you think that if a powerful person were to turn on with his wife or girlfriend it would be good for the world?"

"Nothing that involves brain-change is certain. But in general we believe that for anyone who's reasonably healthy and happy, the intelligent thing to do is to take advantage of the multiple realities available to the human brain."

"Do you think that the world would be a better place if men in power had LSD experiences?"

"Look at the world," I said,"Nuclear bombs proliferating. More and more countries run by military dictators. No political creativity. It's time to try something, anything new and promising."

I offered her some California sherry from a half gallon jug, but she made a cute little face and invited me out for champagne. She continued asking me questions as we sat in the cocktail lounge.

Then I saw her face go tense.

"You poor innocent thing," she murmured. "You have no idea what you've gotten into. You don't really understand what's happening in Washington with drugs, do you?"

"We've heard some rumors about the military," I said.

"It's time you learned more. The guys who run things- I mean the guys who really run things in Washington- are very interested in psychology, and drugs in particular. These people play hardball, Timothy. They want to use drugs for warfare, for espionage, for brainwashing, for control."

"Yes," I said. "We've heard about that."

"But there are people like me who want to use drugs for peace, not for war, to make people's lives better. Will you help us?"


"I told you. Teach us how to run sessions, use drugs to do good." I felt uneasy. There was something calculated about Mary, that tough hit you get from people who live in the hard political world.

I asked once again, "Who are these friends of yours who want to use drugs for peace?"

"Women," she said laughing. "Washington, like any other capital city in the world, is run by men. These men conspiring for power can only be changed by women. And you're going to help us."

I drove Mary to the airport the next day and loaded her with books and papers about our research.

"I don't think your quite ready to start running sessions," I told her. "I agree. I'll be back soon for more practice. And don't forget," she said, "The only hope for the world is intelligent women."

The next contact with Mary Pinchot, my mysterious visitor from Washington, came about six months later. She phoned me from across the river in Boston. "Can you meet me right away in Room 717, Ritz Hotel?"

Enchanting as before, she motioned to a silver ice bucket with a bottle of Dom Perignon tilting out. "I'm here to celebrate." she said. I twisted the bottle to make the cork pop gently "Your hush hush love affair is going well?"

"Oh yes, everything is going beautifully. On all fronts in fact. I can't give details, of course. But top people in Washington are turning on. You'd be amazed at the sophistication of some of our leaders. And their wives. We've gotten a little group together, people who are interested in learning how to turn on. "Really, I thought politicians were to power-oriented."

"You must realize, implausible as it may seem, there are a lot of very smart people in Washington. Especially now with this administration. Power is important to them. And these drugs do give a certain power. That's what it's all about. Freeing the mind."

She held out her glass for more champagne."Until very recently control of American consciousness was a simple matter for the guys in charge. The schools instilled docility. The radio and TV networks poured out conformity."

"No doubt about it." I agreed.

"You may not know that dissident organizations in academia are also controlled. The CIA creates the radical journals and student organizations and runs them with deep-cover agents."

"Oh come on, Mary." I said. "That sounds pretty paranoid to me."

Mary sipped at her glass and shook her head."I hate to be the one to break the news to you. Don't you know what these guys are most interested in right now?"

"Drugs, I suppose."

"You got it. A few years ago they became absolutely obsessed with the notion that the Soviets and the Chinese were persuading our POWs in Korea to defect by brainwashing them with LSD and mescaline."

"That's certainly possible. With what we've discovered about set and setting, we know that almost anyone's mind can be changed in any direction."

"Any direction?"

"With a minimum of information about the subject's personal life and two or three LSD sessions, you could get the most conventional person to do outrageous things."

"Suppose the person wanted to be brainwashed in a certain direction...wanted to change himself?"

"Easier yet. Our research is conclusive on this. Changing your mind, developing a new reality fix, is a simple and straight forward proposition. Of course altering your mind is one thing. Changing the outside world to conform to your new vision remains the difficult problem for us..."I struggled for a word. "Utopiates."

Mary clapped her hands together like a birthday girl. "Utopiates! Beautiful. That's what it's all about, isn't it? Make it a better world." She sat down next to me and held my hand.

"I told you the first time we met, I want to learn how to brainwash."

"That doesn't sound very ladylike."

At this she burst into laughter. "If I can teach the use of utopiates to the wives and mistresses of important people in our government then we can...well xxxx Timothy, don't you see what we can do?"


"We can do on a bigger scale what you are already doing with your students - use these drugs to free people. For peace, not war. We can turn on the cabinet. Turn on the Senate. The Supreme Court. Do I have to explain further?"

Her proposal was scary. But come to think of it, it was close to what we Harvardites in our session rooms, lazily architecturing hopeful futures, had spelled out as the goal of psychedelic research.

I looked at myself in the reflection of the windows: a forty-two-year-old man, being lured into a feminist plot to turn on the leaders of the United States government to the idea of world peace. She lay on the bed, pleased with herself, awaiting my reaction, knowing I was going to agree.

"Okay. What do you want from me? The drugs?"

"Just a little bit to get started. With our connections we'll be able to get all the supply we want. And all you need too. Mainly I want advice on how to run sessions. And how to handle any problems that come up."

We spent the next four hours on a cram course on psychedelic sessions. Set and setting. Centering. Room service brought more champagne and then dinner. I drove her to Logan to get a night plane back to Washington. The next day I mailed off a stack of session reports. Since she had sworn me to secrecy, I told no one but Michael Hollingshead, the British agent working on our staff.

A few weeks later another call came from Mary. Could I meet her at the Ritz? She sounded tense.

For the next few months I was too busy with my own problems to think much about Mary Pinchot. In May 1963 I got fired from Harvard because of the controversial drug project. Then a large research center we had established in Mexico got shut down; American pressure on the Mexican government.

The phone call from Mary Pinchot came a week after our return from Mexico. She was at the Boston airport. She could spend only the afternoon. We met at a seafood restaurant downtown.

"Oh, you reckless Irishman. You got yourself in trouble again. It's magnificent, these headlong cavalry charges of yours. Mais ce n'est pas la guerre."

"What'd I do wrong?"

"Publicity. I told you they'd let you do anything you want as long as you kept it quiet. The plan to set up psychedelic training centers around the country was ingenious from all sides. They would have infiltrated every chapter to get some of their people trained. But their not going to let CBS film you drugging people on a lovely Mexican beach. You could destroy both capitalism and socialism in one month with that sort of thing."

I was struck again by the brittleness this aristocratic woman had picked up from those stern-eyed business-suited WASPs who shuttle from home to office in limousines- the information brokers, editors, board members, executive branch officers- youngish men with oldish eyes (faces you used to see on the Harvard Square or in the Yale quad), initiated early into the Calvinist conspiracy, sworn to be forever reliable; working for Wild Bill Donovan in Zurich, for Allen Dulles in Washington, for Henry Luce as bureau chiefs and then shuffling from Newsweek to the Post, manipulators of secret documents, facts, rumors, estimates, arms inventories, stock margins, voting blocs, industrial secrets, gossip about the sexual and drug preferences of every member of Congress, trained to grab and maintain what they can, all loyal to the Protestant belief that the Planet Earth sucks.

"Never mind all that," said Mary, "while you've been goofing around, I've been working hard. My friends and I have been turning on some of the most important people in Washington. It's about time we had our own psychedelic cell on the Potomac, don't you think?"

"So you need more drugs? That's going to be a problem. My plans for chemical plants in Mexico got wiped out."

Mary laughed. "Oh that's no problem. I can give you a contact in England. They'll sell you everything you need. And if things go the way I hope," she said emphatically, "we'll be seeing lots of good drugs produced here at home."

I pressed her but she declined to say more.

Late in November 1963 a phone call came from Mary Pinchot. Her voice was tight-roping the wire of hysteria. She had rented a car at La Guardia and was somewhere in Millbrook. She didn't want to come to the estate. Could I meet her in the village?

Driving out the gate I saw a green Ford parked down Route 44. It followed me. I slowed down. It pulled up behind me. Mary. She climbed in beside me motioning me to drive on.

I turned down a side road through an unforgettable Autumn scene- golden fields, herds of fat, jet-black cows, trees turning technicolor, sky glaring indigo- with the bluest girl in the world next to me.

"It was all going so well." she said. "We had eight intelligent women turning on the most powerful men in Washington. And then we got found out. I was such a fool. I made a mistake in recruitment. A wife snitched on us. I'm scared." She burst into tears.

"You must be very careful now." she said. "Don't make any waves. No publicity. I'm afraid for you. I'm afraid for all of us."

"Mary." I said soothingly. "Let's go back to the Big House and relax and have some wine and maybe a hot bath and figure out what you should do."

"I know what you're thinking. But this is not paranoia. I've gotten mixed up in some dangerous matters. It's real. You've got to believe me." She glared at me. "Do you?"

"Yes I do." Her alarm was convincing me.

"Look. If I ever showed up here suddenly, could you hide me out for a while?"

"Good." Now drive me back to my car. I'll stay in touch. If I can."

As I watched her drive away, I wondered. She wasn't breaking any laws. What trouble could she be in?

The next call from Mary came the day after the assassination of Jack Kennedy. I had really been expecting it.

I could hardly understand her. She was either drugged or stunned with grief. "They couldn't control him any more. He was changing too fast. He was learning too much."

"Who? You mean Kennedy?" Long pause. Hysterical crying. I spoke reassuringly. She kept sobbing. "They'll cover everything up. I gotta come see you. I'm scared. I'm afraid. Be careful."

The line went dead. Her words kept repeating in my mind.

"They couldn't control him any more. He was changing too fast." I've never forgot those words.

In the months that followed I kept waiting for Mary to call back. I tried the Washington phone book for her number but she wasn't listed: not in Virginia or Maryland either.

My life was humming along. I got married and went on a round-the-world honeymoon. A few months later the marriage broke up. In my yearning for an ally, a friend, a woman, I found myself thinking a lot about Mary Pinchot.

Directory assistance in Washington,D.C. had numbers for several Pinchots but none for Mary. Then I remembered that she was a Vassar graduate and phoned the alumni office in Poughkeepsie. The cheery voice of the secretary became guarded when I asked for the address of Mary Pinchot.

"Mary Pinchot?" A long pause. "The person about whom you were asking...ah, her married name is Meyer. But I'm sorry to say that she is, ah, deceased. Sometime last fall, I believe."

"I've been out of the country. I didn't know."

"Thank you for calling." said the alumni secretary.

In shock I climbed out a third-floor window and up the steep copper roof of the Big House. There I leaned back against a chimney and tried to think things over. Michael Hollingshead, who sensed my malaise, scrambled up to join me, carrying two beers. When I told him about Mary, he brushed away a tear.

"I wonder what happened." I said.

"Next time we go to New York, let's see what we could find out," said Michael.

So off we went, Michael and I, down the Hudson to New York to meet the light-artists and sound wizards who were popping up on the Lower East Side. And to find out what happened to Mary Pinchot Meyer.

I cabbed over to Van Wolfe's apartment, drank a beer, and asked him if he could get any material on Mary Pinchot Meyer. He made a phone call to a friend who worked on the Times. An hour later a messenger was at the door with a manila envelope full of clippings, and WHAM- there was Mary's picture, the pert chin and nose, the deep intense eyes. Above, the headline read:


Mary had been shot twice in the left temple and once in the chest at 12:45 in the afternoon of October 13, 1964 as she walked along the Old Chesapeake and Ohio Canal towpath in Georgetown. A friend told reporters that Mary sometimes walked there with her close friend Jacqueline Kennedy.

Mary's brother-in-law, Benjamin C. Bradlee, Newsweek's Washington bureau chief, identified her body. Ben Bradlee was described as having been an intimate of the late President Kennedy. The article also mentioned Mary's ex-husband, Cord Meyer,Jr., former leader of the American Veterans Committee and the World Federalists, now a government employee, position and agency not specified. Police said that the motive was apparently robbery or assault. Her purse was found by Ben Bradlee in her home. The suspect, a black male, was being held without bail.

My head was spinning with ominous thoughts. A close friend of the Kennedy family had been murdered in broad daylight with no apparent motive. And there had been so little publicity. No outcry. No call for further investigation. I felt that same vague fear that came when we heard about JFK's assassination.

"Can you get more information?" I asked Van.

Van came up to Millbrook the next weekend. I took him on a walk to Lunacy Hill. We sat smoking grass, watching the Hudson Valley tint purple in the sun set.

"My friend in police intelligence knew all about the Mary Pinchot Meyer case. Apparently a lot of people are convinced it was an assassination. Two slugs in the brain and one in the body. That's not the MO of a rapist. And a mugger isn't going to shoot a woman with no purse in her hand."

Van pulled out a Lucky Stripe and lit it. His tremor was more pronounced than usual. "It's gotta be one of the biggest cover-ups in Washington's history. It's too hot too handle. Everyone comes out looking bad. Some people say dope was involved. So the truth could hurt everyone, all those powerful people. No one wants the facts known."

As it turned out, it was some time before the facts were known.

One evening while lying in my cell in the Federal Prison in San Diego reading the paper a headline in the San Francisco Chronicle caught my eye:


James Truitt, the source for this sensational story, was identified as a former assistant to Philip Graham, publisher of The Washington Post. In interviews with "The National Enquirer, Associated Press and The Washington Post Truitt revealed that a woman named Mary Pinchot Meyer had conducted a two-year love affair with President John Kennedy and had smoked marijuana with him in a White House bedroom. A confident of Mary Meyer, Truitt told a Post correspondent that she and Kennedy met about 30 times between January 1962 and November 1963, when Kennedy was assassinated. Mary Meyer told Truitt that JFK had remarked, "This isn't like cocaine, I'll get you some of that." Truitt claimed that Mary Meyer kept a diary of her affair with the president, which was found after her death by her sister Toni Bradlee and turned over to James Angleton, chief of CIA counter-intelligence who took the diary to CIA headquarters and destroyed it. According to the Post another source confirmed that Mary Meyer's diary was destroyed. This source said the diary...contained a few hundred words of vague reference to an un-named friend.

Mary Meyer's sister was quoted by the Associated Press as saying, "I knew nothing about it when Mary was alive."

The article also revealed that the former husband of Mary Pinchot Meyer was Cord Meyer Jr. one of the most influential officials in the CIA- the only agent who had been awarded the Distinguished Intelligence Medal three times.

I lit a Camel cigarette and walked across my cell to the window and looked through the bars out to San Diego Bay. My mind was reeling with questions. Why was the fact that Cord Meyer Jr. was a top CIA agent covered up in the first stories about Mary's assassination? How come Ben Bradlee, publisher of the Post, brother-in-law of Mary gave her diary to the CIA? Why did James Truitt, top official of the Post break his silence after all these years? What did Mary mean when she said, after Jack Kennedy's assassination, that he knew too much, that he was changing too fast?

I resolved that when I was released from prison I would uncover the truths about Mary Pinchot Meyer and the reasons for her assassination.(To be continued)

Timothy Leary was an award winning social scientist, psychologist, spiritual seeker, and former prisoner. He was the author of more than 100 books and articles. (Portions of this article are reprinted from Flashback by Timothy Leary. Published by J.P. Tarcher Inc.)

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This is fascinating stuff Lee. Timothy Leary’s book would have been the last place I would have looked for information on Mary Meyer. What happened is now becoming much clearer.

Mary married Cord in 1945. Cord had lost an eye in Guam and his twin brother, Quentin, had been killed at Okinawa. In 1946 Cord published a book about his war experiences called Waves of Darkness. Meyer expressed pacifist views in this book. He began associating with Norman Thomas, America’s most important pacifist. He was also the leader of the Socialist Party and had been its presidential candidate in 1940, 1944 and 1948.

Meyer had been shocked by the dropping of the atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. After the war Meyer commissioned a film by Pare Lorentz called The Beginning or the End. Meyer wanted this film to be the definitive statement about the dangers of the atomic age.

Meyer became an advocate of world government. In 1948 he established the United World Federalists, an organization which sought to avoid nuclear war by a loose federation among nations.

I assume Mary shared Cord’s views on world politics (I have ordered but not yet read Nina Burleigh A Very Private Woman: The Life and Unsolved Murder of Presidential Mistress Mary Meyer).

Understandably, Cord Meyer’s activities brought him to the attention of the FBI. He was also in contact with the CIA via Frank Wisner. The Georgetown Crowd also held idealistic views about the post-war world. They believed that the real threat to world peace was the activities of the Soviet Union. I suspect that in around 1948 Meyer began working for the CIA.

For example, in 1950 Meyer formed the Committee to Frame a World Constitution with Robert Maynard Hutchins and Elizabeth Mann Borgese. As a result of this work Meyer made contact with the International Cooperative Alliance, the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, the Indian Socialist Party and the Congress of Peoples Against Imperialism.

Officially Meyer joined the CIA in 1951 (by this time his cover had been blown). Interestingly, his first job was working with Thomas Braden, the head of International Organizations Division. This CIA unit helped established anti-communist front groups in Western Europe.

Meyer was also working with Wisner on Operation Mockingbird, a CIA program to influence the American media. According to Deborah Davis (Katharine the Great: Katharine Graham and the Washington Post): Meyer was Mockingbird's "principal operative".

By this stage Cord Meyer was a very important figure in the CIA covert activities.

In the early months of 1953, Joseph McCarthy began accusing members of the Georgetown Crowd as being security risks. McCarthy claimed that the CIA was a "sinkhole of communists" and claimed he intended to root out a hundred of them. His first targets were Chip Bohlen and Charles Thayer. Bohlen survived but Thayer was forced to resign.

In August, 1953, Joseph McCarthy accused Meyer of being a communist. The FBI added to the smear by announcing it was unwilling to give Meyer "security clearance". However, the FBI refused to explain what evidence they had against Meyer. Allen W. Dulles and Frank Wisner both came to his defence and refused to permit a FBI interrogation of Meyer.

The FBI eventually revealed the charges against Meyer. This included the claim that he had been a member of several liberal groups considered to be subversive by the Justice Department. He was also accused of being associated with subversives like Norman Thomas. Meyer was eventually cleared of these charges and was allowed to keep his job.

I suspect Mary disapproved on the way Cord had betrayed his ideals. This was a major factor in their divorce in 1956.

Mary did not desert the “Georgetown Crowd”. She was aware that these men had considerable influence on world politics. Here is an extract from Katharine Graham’s autobiography, Personal History, that illustrates the views of women in the “Georgetown Crowd”.

President Kennedy's charm was powerful. His intense concentration and gently teasing humor, and his habit of vacuum-cleaning your brain to see what you knew and thought, were irresistible. The Kennedy men were also unabashed chauvinists, as were the great majority of men at the time, including Phil. They liked other bright men, and they liked girls, but they didn't really know how to relate to middle-aged women, in whom they didn't have a whole lot of interest. This attitude made life difficult for middle-aged wives especially, and induced or fed feelings of uncertainty in many of us in those years. Though the men were polite, we somehow knew we had no place in their spectrum. My ever-present terror of being boring often overwhelmed me in social situations with the president and at the White House, particularly whenever I was face to face with the president himself or one of his main advisers, and my fear was a real guarantee of being boring, since it paralyzed and silenced me.

I only felt secure when Phil, whom the president liked, was with me and could do the talking. Douglas Dillon's wife, Phyllis, who I thought was the height of sophistication, confided to me that she felt the same way: she complained that she was always left on the sidelines with Rose Kennedy at parties in Palm Beach.

One notable exception to the chauvinist tradition was Adlai Stevenson. Women enjoyed Adlai. In the end, my mother, my daughter, and I all had close friendships with him. Clayton Fritchey once told me a story that helps explain Adlai's appeal - and that contrasts it with what many of us felt about other men in the Kennedy administration, including the president himself. About three weeks before Kennedy was assassinated, Clayton saw the president in New York, at a time when Adlai was the ambassador to the United Nations and Clayton was his deputy. The three men were together at a party, and Clayton was helping himself to a drink on the balcony overlooking Central Park when the president came up behind him and said, "We haven't had a chance to talk much tonight, but we've got a good subject in common," meaning Adlai. The president then told Clayton he didn't understand the hold Adlai had over women, commenting on how much Jackie liked and admired him and confessing that he himself didn't have the ease with women that Adlai had. "What do you suppose it is?" he asked, adding, "Look, I may not be the best-looking guy out there, but, for God's sake, Adlai's half bald, he's got a paunch, he wears his clothes in a dumpy kind of way. What's he got that I haven't got?"

Clayton's response hit on what I think women saw in Adlai and what they shied away from in other men of that era. "Mr. President, I'm happy to say that for once you have asked me a question I'm prepared to answer, one I can answer truthfully and accurately. While you both love women, Adlai also likes them, and women know the difference. They all respond to a kind of message that comes across from him when he talks to them. He conveys the idea that they are intelligent and worth listening to. He cares about what they're saying and what they've done, and that's really very fetching."

The president's response was: "Well, I don't say you're wrong, but I'm not sure I can go to those lengths."

JFK attempted to have an affair with Mary Meyer in December, 1961. She turned him down (she was in a relationship with the artist Kenneth Noland). However, in January, 1962, she changed her mind. One of the things we now know is that Mary introduced JFK to LSD. The quotation from Timothy Leary’s book suggests that she had indeed retained the idealism of the late 1940s. Mary knew how the CIA infiltrated and betrayed left-wing groups. Mary was using the same tactic with the JFK administration. What is more, as she told Ann Truitt, she intended to keep a record of her activities.

Who knows what Mary discovered while JFK was under the influence of drugs. No doubt it was all written down in her diary. However, she made a mistake in confiding in Ann Truitt. She told her husband, James Truitt, who worked for Ben Bradlee at the Washington Post. It is probably not a coincidence that Bradlee sent James Truitt to work in Japan just before Mary was murdered (Ann went to Japan with her husband). This enabled James Angleton to get hold of Mary’s diary.

It would have all been kept a secret. However, in 1976, Bradlee sacked James Truitt. He was furious and gave an interview to the National Enquirer. Truitt told the newspaper that Mary Pinchot Meyer was having an affair with JFK. He also claimed that Meyer had told his wife, Ann Truitt, that she was keeping an account of this relationship in her diary. Meyer asked Truitt to take possession of a private diary "if anything ever happened to me".

Bradlee and Angleton now had to come up with another story. They admitted they found the diary but it only included insignificant details of Mary’s relationship with JFK and it was destroyed. Operation Mockingbird was activated and James Truitt was portrayed as someone with mental problems.

Articles were also planted in leading newspapers about the murder of Mary Meyer. The message was that Raymond Crump was guilty and that he had only got off because he had a clever lawyer. In reality, the case against Crump was extremely weak. He was arrested at the scene of the crime but the police could not find the murder weapon. What was his motive? The prosecution claimed that Crump had exposed himself to Mary (his flies were open when he was arrested). She screamed and he panicked by shooting her twice in the head. This is of course complete nonsense but Operation Mockingbird, like in the case of JFK assassination, worked successfully.

We now live in a world where people get their information from the web. However, Operation Mockingbird still exists. It is therefore John McAdams website where people go when they are searching for information on the death of Mary Meyer. I will be uploading my page on Mary Meyer later today. By next week, it should be ranked either one or two at Google. (Although I have no doubt it will not enter the MSN database).

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Jim DiEugenio is skeptical of Leary's story. Here's Jim's take:

From "The Posthumous Assassination of John F. Kennedy"

by James DiEugenio (reprinted in The Assassinations)

As noted earlier, Jim Truitt gave this curious tale its first public airing in 1976, on the heels of the Church Committee. From there, the Washington Post (under Bradlee) picked it up. There had been an apparent falling out between Truitt and Bradlee, and Truitt said that he wanted to show that Bradlee was not the crusader for truth that Watergate or his book on Kennedy had made him out to be. In the National Enquirer, Truitt stated that Mary had revealed her affair with Kennedy while she was alive to he and his wife. He then went further. In one of their romps in the White House, Mary had offered Kennedy a couple of marijuana joints, but coke-sniffer Kennedy said, "This isn't like cocaine. I'll get you some of that."

The chemical addition to the story was later picked up by drug guru Tim Leary in his book, Flashbacks. Exner-like, the angle grew appendages. Leary went beyond grass and cocaine. According to Leary, Mary Meyer was consulting with him about how to conduct acid sessions and how to get psychedelic drugs in 1962. Leary met her on several occasions and she said that she and a small circle of friends had turned on several times. She also had one other friend who was "a very important man" whom she also wanted to turn on. After Kennedy's assassination, Mary called Leary and met with him. She was cryptic but she did say, "They couldn't control him any more. He was changing too fast. He was learning too much." The implication being that a "turned on" JFK was behind the moves toward peace in 1963. Leary learned about Meyer's murder in 1965, but did not pull it all together until the 1976 Jim Truitt disclosure. With Leary, the end (for now) of the Meyer story paints JFK as the total '60s swinger: pot, coke, acid, women, and unbeknownst to Kennedy, Leary has fulfilled his own fantasy by being Kennedy's guide on his magical mystery tour toward peace.

But there is a big problem with Leary, his story, and those who use it (like biographers David Horowitz and Peter Collier). Leary did not mention Mary in any of his books until Flashbacks in 1983, more than two decades after he met Mary. It's not like he did not have the opportunity to do so. Leary was a prolific author who got almost anything he wanted published. He appears to have published over 40 books. Of those, at least 25 were published between 1962, when he says he met Mary, and 1983, when he first mentions her. Some of these books are month-to-month chronicles, e.g., High Priest. I could not find Mary mentioned, even vaguely, in any of the books. This is improbable considering the vivid, unforgettable portrait that Leary drew in 1983. This striking-looking woman walks in unannounced, mentions her powerful friends in Washington, and later starts dumping out the CIA's secret operations to control American elections to him. Leary, who mentioned many of those he turned on throughout his books, and thanks those who believed in him, deemed this unimportant. That is, until the 20th anniversary of JFK's death. (Which is when Rosenbaum wrote his ugly satire on the Kennedy research community for Texas Monthly, which in turn got him a guest spot on Nightline.) This is also when Leary began hooking up with Gordon Liddy, doing carnival-type debates across college campuses, an act which managed to rehabilitate both of them and put them back in the public eye.

There is another problem with Leary's book: the Phil Graham anecdote. In his book, Leary has Mary tell him that the cat was out of the bag as far as she and JFK were concerned. The reason was that a well-known friend of hers had blabbed about them in public. This is an apparent reference to Post owner Phil Graham's outburst at a convention in Phoenix, Arizona in 1963. This famous incident (which preceded his later alleged mental breakdown) included--according to Leary--a reference to Kennedy and Mary Meyer. The story of Graham's attendance at this convention and what he did and said has been described in different ways in different books. Unfortunately for Leary, his dating of the convention does not jibe with any that I have seen. In 1986, Tony Chaitkin tracked down the correct date, time, and place of the meeting. No one had done it correctly up to that time. But Chaitkin and his associates went one step further. They interviewed people who were there. None of the attendees recalled anything said about Mary Meyer.

To me, this apocryphal anecdote and Leary's book seem ways to bolster a tale that needed to be recycled and souped up before its chinks began to show. Leary's reason for being a part of the effort may be because he was never enamored of the Kennedys' approach to the drug problem, which was antagonistic to Leary personally and a lot less liberal in its approach. Leary was quite frank about this in his book High Priest (p. 67), and later in the book, Changing My Mind (pp. 143 ff.). Whatever his motives, Leary's retroactive endorsement is just not credible.

Edited by Roger Fong
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Jim DiEugenio is skeptical of Leary's story. (Roger Fong)

The problem is that Jim DiEugenio is hardly an objective observer. Along with his pal, Lisa Pease, he is always quick to defend the Camelot myth. Two points about this passage:

(1) Timothy Leary had a good reason not to publish the story about Mary Meyer. Fear. Maybe he needed to wait until 1983 before he had the courage to publish this story.

(2) The story about Phil Graham getting drunk at the conference in Arizona and talking about JFK and Mary Meyer first appeared in Deborah Davis’ Katharine the Great (1979 pages 163-64). As a result of this claim (and others including details of Operation Mockingbird), Katharine Graham (probably under instructions from the CIA) persuaded the publishers William Jovanovich, to pulp 20,000 copies of the book. Davis filed a breach-of-contract and damage-to-reputation suit against her publishers. The court case was due to take place in 1983. Graham was no longer willing to support her claims that Davis’ book was full of inaccuracies and the publishers were forced to pay Davis compensation for pulping the book.

Does anyone know what happened to Deborah Davis? I have searched the internet and can find no information of her journalist activities since the publication of this remarkable book. She had worked on Ramparts when in 1967 it revealed details of Cord Meyer’s role in Operation Mockingbird.

We now know that as a result of this article, Desmond FitzGerald, head of the Directorate for Plans, ordered Edgar Applewhite to organize a campaign against the magazine. Applewhite later told Evan Thomas for his book, The Very Best Men: "I had all sorts of dirty tricks to hurt their circulation and financing. The people running Ramparts were vulnerable to blackmail. We had awful things in mind, some of which we carried off."

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Lest we not forget the acid dropping of guys like Luce. My post mortem q&a of him would be:

Who'd he trip with? Who supplied him? Ivy Leaguers Alpert and Leary? The CIA, Mil? the Grateful Dead? What did Luce prefer, Purple Haze, Windowpane or Orange Sunshine? Oh to be a fly on that wall.

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John and others, read the story in Bill Turner's "Rearview Mirror" an excellent account of his tales. Ramparts breakin story (on which pages don't recall) from Hinckle and Turner is a hoot. That fine rag was destroyed no doubt about it.

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DiEugenio doesn't accept all of Timothy Leary's story but he doesn't actually dispute that Mary was Kennedy's mistress or that they might have done drugs together. The principals, like the characters in Rashômon, do seem to have mutually irreconcilable versions of what happened after Mary's death: who was there, how the diary was discovered and what happened to it afterwards. There is even a report that some of those involved got together years later to participate in a seance to commune with Mary's departed spirit.

What's most interesting to me is Angleton's involvement. It's not clear whether it was Mary's wish that Angleton end up with the diary. Depending on who's tellling the story, Angleton either found the diary himself or had it handed over to him; he was supposed to destroy it right away, but he apparently did not. He either destroyed it later or gave it back to Mary's sister Tony who destroyed it. Angleton does seem to make a habit of descending vulture-like after a death to sweep up documents. He did that in Mexico City after Winston Scott's death to confiscate Scott's manuscript, The Foul Foe.

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