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book: Secret World of Kennedy-era CIA

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Stillwater native writing book about secret world of Kennedy-era CIA


STILLWATER — When Stillwater native Brad Ayers was in the Army during the early 1960s, he got a call beckoning him to the White House for a volunteer assignment he knew nothing about.

He would soon learn, however, that he would be training CIA agents and exiled Cubans for covert missions to disrupt the stability of the post-Bay of Pigs Cuban government.

Working in a secret facility outside Miami, under the codename Zenith Technical Enterprises, Ayers was a key figure in what he called the CIA’s “clandestine war” against communist Cuba.

Making connections that ranged from Robert Kennedy to Mafia hitmen, Ayers gained a knowledge of the U.S. government’s underbelly that has given him insight into the “darker” realms of American policy toward Cuba in the ’60s.

He was chosen to lead this team of covert operatives because he “had the skills that would be useful” in training individuals for dangerous commando missions into the island 90 miles off the Florida coast.

After a book he wrote in 1976 about his experiences was heavily edited and scrubbed by the government of its more provocative stories, Ayers is once again writing — but this effort will include all the “spicy” details omitted almost 30 years ago.

Ayers, 70, recently signed a deal to write two books — the first will recount his life working with the CIA and his ideas about the assassinations of both John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy.

“The Zenith Secret” will tell of Ayers’ thoughts on the CIA’s involvement in plots to assassinate the Kennedys, civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., and Fidel Castro.

His experience in writing started in Stillwater, when in 1951 he was asked to cover sports for the Gazette while still in high school.

Still feeling “very much part of the community,” Ayers has run in the Lumberjack Days race 28 times and has children living in neighboring communities.

“I grew up in Stillwater — it’s still my home town,” he said.

Ayers, a former Army Ranger and paramilitary expert, has spent much of the past 10 years researching people and places, trying to put together a complete picture of the events surrounding the Kennedy assassinations.

However, many of those involved with the events have since died, several under “questionable causes,” Ayers said.

As a known gadfly in the ointment of government agencies, Ayers has had problems dealing with the federal government, having his cabin home in Frederick, Wis., searched and his manuscripts inspected by government officials.

“I brought a lot of heat upon myself, I can tell you that,” he said. “Subtle harassment ... questioning my patriotism.”

By cooperating with media outlets and going public with his story, Ayers said he “bought myself some life insurance.”

As a licensed private investigator in Florida and Arizona, Ayers has been putting together a “compilation of facts submitted in journalistic form” for “The Zenith Secret.”

The hardest part of writing the book has been “bridging” his own experiences with the CIA — where his group’s actions were under the supervision of Robert Kennedy — with his subsequent research.

Ayers’ second book — which like “The Zenith Secret” will be printed by VOX Publishing — will focus on America’s War on Drugs in the 1980s and is dubbed “Out of Pocket — Rotten Deals.”

“The Zenith Secret” is scheduled to be released in the fall and “Out of Pocket — Rotten Deals” will be distributed next year.

Seemingly far removed from the “seaborne commando” missions into Cuba during the 1960s, Ayers keeps busy at his typewriter, producing page after page of the “black operations” he was involved in and the CIA’s involvement in high-profile assassinations.

A section of the prologue to his book reads as follows:

“I was one of the men selected to perform this top-secret mission. What follows is an account of my experiences with the CIA and the aftermath, including my diligent pursuit of truth as a contribution to the complete and accurate history of our time.”

• • • •

Kris Janisch covers Washington County and the cities of Stillwater and Bayport for the Gazette. He can be reached by phone at 651-796-1111.


Don Roberdeau

U.S.S. John F. Kennedy, CV-67, "Big John" Plank Walker

Sooner, or later, the Truth emerges Clearly



T ogether

E veryone

A chieves

M ore



"The people will recognize that the CIA was behaving during those years like a rogue elephant rampaging out of control . . ."

---- Senator FRANK CHURCH, Chairman of Select Committee on Intelligence, July 1975

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I would have thought it was very dangerous for a 70 year old to announce that he is going to write about the CIA and the assassination of JFK. Will his death be seen as suspicious?


This book by Ayers 'The Zenith Secret' was originally copyrighted in 1997 so it has been floating around for some time. Given how he offers an insight into the goings on at JM/WAVE and some personal knowledge of guys like Helms, Morales, Robertson and Roselli, it will be interesting to see how widespread distribution will be.


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