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It is my view that Tracy Barnes had nothing to do with the assassination of JFK. Does anyone disagree with me?

Tracy Barnes, like many senior members of the CIA, was a member of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) during the war. Barnes was sent to London where he served under David Bruce, the head of SOS operations in England. While in London he spent time with his old friend Paul Nitze.

On 3rd December, 1944, Allen W. Dulles wrote to David Bruce: "I have met Tracy Barnes here today and am anxious to get him to Switzerland as soon as possible... We can find useful work for him." Barnes worked under Dulles until the end of the war.

After the war Barnes returned to work for the Carter Ledyard, law firm in New York. In June 1950, Barnes was recruited by Frank Wisner to join the CIA. His first job was as deputy director of the Psychological Strategy Board.

Barnes was eventually placed in charge of what became known as Operation Success. David Atlee Phillips was appointed to run the propaganda campaign against Arbenz's government.

The CIA propaganda campaign included the distribution of 100,000 copies of a pamphlet entitled Chronology of Communism in Guatemala. They also produced three films on Guatemala for showing free in cinemas. David Atlee Phillips, along with E.Howard Hunt, was responsible for running the CIA's Voice of Liberation radio station. Faked photographs were distributed that claimed to show the mutilated bodies of opponents of Arbenz. William (Rip) Robertson was also involved in the campaign against Arbenz.

The CIA began providing financial and logistic support for Colonel Carlos Castillo. With the help of resident Anastasio Somoza, Castillo had formed a rebel army in Nicaragua. It has been estimated that between January and June, 1954, the CIA spent about $20 million on Castillo's army.

On 18th June 1954 aircraft dropped leaflets over Guatemala demanding that Arbenz resign immediately or else the county would be bombed. CIA's Voice of Liberation also put out similar radio broadcasts. This was followed by a week of bombing ports, ammunition dumps, military barracks and the international airport.

Carlos Castillo's collection of soldiers now crossed the Honduran-Guatemalan border. His army was outnumbered by the Guatemalan Army. However, the CIA Voice of Liberation successfully convinced Arbenz's supporters that two large and heavily armed columns of invaders were moving towards Guatemala City.

The CIA was also busy bribing Arbenz's military commanders. It was later discovered that one commander accepted $60,000 to surrender his troops. Ernesto Guevara attempted to organize some civil militias but senior army officers blocked the distribution of weapons. Jacobo Arbenz now believed he stood little chance of preventing Castillo gaining power. Accepting that further resistance would only bring more deaths he announced his resignation over the radio.

Castillo's new government was immediately recognised by President Dwight Eisenhower. Castillo now reversed the Arbenz reforms. In July 19, 1954, he created the National Committee of Defense Against Communism and decreed the Preventive Penal Law Against Communism to fight against those who supported Arbenz when he was in power. Over the next few weeks thousands were arrested on suspicion of communist activity. A large number of these prisoners were tortured or killed.

The removal of Jacobo Arbenz resulted in several decades of repression. Later, several of the people involved in Operation Success, including Barnes and Richard Bissell regretted the outcome of the Guatemala Coup.

In November, 1954, Barnes replaced General Lucian Truscott as head of CIA headquarters in Frankfurt. Several other CIA agents worked in Germany at this time including William Harvey, Ted Shackley, David Morales and Tom Parrott.

After working in Germany (1954-1956) Barnes was made CIA station chief in London (1957-1959). He returned to the United States in 1960 to serve with the Directorate for Plans (the CIA's clandestine service and covert action arm) and helped Richard Bissell organize the Bay of Pigs operation. Within seventy-two hours all the invading troops had been killed, wounded or had surrendered.

As Evan Thomas points out in The Very Best Men: "Bissell had been caught in his own web. "Plausible deniability" was intended to protect the president, but as he had used it, it was a tool to gain and maintain control over an operation... Without plausible deniability, the Cuba project would have turned over to the Pentagon, and Bissell would have have become a supporting actor."

In 1962 Barnes was placed in charge of Domestic Operations Division. Robert Morrow later claimed that Barnes recruited Richard Case Nagell and sent him to New Orleans in the summer of 1963. Barnes also asked Morrow to purchase several weapons: "I was told specially to get good ones, 7.35mm Mannlicher-Carcanos. A 6.5mm was not an accurate rifle at all, and not to be considered. I remember going to Sunny's Surplus up in Towson, Maryland. They had a whole wall of Mannlichers, Mausers, and other rifles. I picked out four, which I felt were pretty good." Morrow claimed that the rifles were picked up by David Ferrie in a private plane and taken to New Orleans.

The main evidence against Barnes comes from Robert Morrow. Is Morrow reliable? Barnes is obviously not helped by the fact that he worked closely with other suspects like William Harvey, Ted Shackley, David Morales, David Atlee Phillips and Rip Robertson.

Does anyone have anything more on Barnes?

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Namebase entry for Tracy Barnes

http://www.namebase.org/main4/Scott-Tracy-Barnes.html

Borjesson,K. Into the Buzzsaw. 2002 (327)

Canadian Covert Activity Analyst 1984-W (12-3, 19-20)

Canadian Covert Activity Analyst 1985-08 (1-38)

Covert Action Information Bulletin 1982-#17 (32-42)

Gritz,J. Called to Serve. 1991 (208-9, 547-8)

Jensen-Stevenson,M. Stevenson,W. Kiss the Boys Goodbye. 1990 (85-8, 121-7, 165-7, 193, 300-7, 316-26)

Kessler,R. The FBI. 1993 (162)

Kurtz,H. Media Circus. 1994 (291)

Los Angeles Times 1992-10-27 (A16)

Peake,H. Reader's Guide to Intelligence Periodicals. 1992 (208)

Soldier of Fortune 1993-03 (68-73, 76, 81, 90)

Spotlight Newspaper 1984-07-16 (18)

Spotlight Newspaper 1984-07-30 (3)

Stich,R. Defrauding America. 1994 (368-9)

Stich,R. Russell,T.C. Disavow: A CIA Saga of Betrayal. 1995 (238-45, 267-8, 371-2)

Vankin,J. Whalen,J. The 60 Greatest Conspiracies. 1998 (271-2)

Washington Post 1984-11-22 (A17)

Washington Post 1984-11-27 (A18)

Washington Post 1985-01-11 (A24)

Washington Times 1992-10-27 (A8)

Washington Times 1992-10-29 (E1, 4)

Washington Times 1997-03-29 (A4)

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Guest Stephen Turner

I think Dulles, Bissell & Cabell, are far more likely suspects than Tracer Barnes. They had personel scores to settle.

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More on Barnes:

From The Very Best Men (p.311) it's clear that post BOP, Barnes, while running the Domestic Operations Division

1. had to pay off the widows of the sheep-dipped Alabama National Guard pilots killed at the Bay of Pigs.

2. did the ops no one else wanted (not explained)

3. sold off unwanted CIA assets (which means he was managing a number of paper companies--which could have been used to cover official CIA involvement in any number of schemes)

4.was put in charge of a couple of agents in India and Switxerland, who were just drawing expenses (it doesn't say what Barnes arranged for them to do)

Thomas also quotes Hunt as saying that Barnes "wanted a real station doing ops in the United States."  If the CIA proper was involved in the assassination, it certtainly sounds like Barnes could be the man.

I also found a few tidbits on Barnes in Bitter Fruit, by Stephen Scleshinger and Stephen Kinzer, about the 1954 coup in Guatemala.  While much is made of Hunt's and Phillps' roles, it's not widely reported that they both were hired by Barnes.  On page 217 it details a cocktail party thrown for the CIA "heroes," attended by Eisenhower and Nixon.  The heroes included Barnes, Rip Robertson and David Phillips.  Hunt had already been re-assigned in Asia.  Anyhow, I find it intriguing that the authors quote Phillips as claiming that Nixon asked the most incisive questions, and "demonstrated a thorough knowledge of the Guatemalan political situation."  This would indicate that Nixon was well aware of Hunt and his abilities as early as 1954, seeing as Hunt was the political action officer of the coup.

I found another tidbit in Presidents' Secret Wars, by John  Prado.  This is supported as well by Thomas' book.  And that is that Barnes came from the same lawfirm as Frank Wisner and Gordon Gray, who headed the Psychological Strategy Board.  In fact, Barnes' introduction to the high levels of the intelligence community came at Gray's side, after being hired as Gray's assisitant.  Of course the reason this is relevant now is that the Gray family is thoroughly connected to the Bush family, with Gordon having been one of Prescott's golf buddies and his boy Boyden (Boy) being George H.W."s personal attorney.

So, if Barnes was involved as the point man for a right-wing coup, there's no telling where it leads.

Excellant post and extremely thought provoking.  Especially so because  obviously Evan Thomas couldn't dig up much on what Domestic Operations really meant and because Domestic Operations were inherently against the CIA charter.  The examples provided read much like David Phillips description of his role in Mexico City,  which he significantly downplayed into a minor security staff position.  The mere fact that Barnes wanted a US Station for operations says a lot.  The question is how far CIA went down that road.  We know they did go a long ways with Angleton's MKCHOS operation targeting the Viet Nam anti war effort.  Perhaps that leveraged something Barnes had already put in place.  Fighting perceied enemies (or perhaps dupes of foreign powers as they would be considered) at home would have been a fine duty for a US station.

However there were serious domestic operations going on in the United States,  they included both counter intelligence activities and operations against designated organizations seen to support US enemies - the project against the FPCC jumps to mind.  Given a relationship between Phillips and Barnes and Veciana's observaton of someone looking like Oswald with Phillips in Dallas in the same time period as Oswald's trip to Mexico City the implications get significant. 

And certainly if resources were needed for a conspiracy against JFK where better to find them than among the secret proprietary companies and surplus assets that Barnes seems to have been assigned to manage. 

Barnes,  Phillips,  Robertson,  (you have to add in Morales from the heros of Guatamala, he was in the Eisenhower visit as well) an operation against the FPCC,  access to secret assets and proprietaries...and all parties carrying personal grudges and trauma from the BOP failure. 

Perhaps Barnes is a very important piece of the puzzle.  And Domestic Operations, whatever it really did. 

-- Larry

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After the above exchanges with Larry Hancock about Barnes I did quite a bit of reading on the Domestic Operations Division, the Division created specifically for Barnes after Dulles and Bissell went bye-bye. I found that among its other duties the DOD was responsible for the recruitment of foreign nationals while on American soil. Since Hunt was the covert ops chief for the DOD this means that Hunt was responsible for buddying-up to, or finding persuasive information on, Cuban and Russian employees at the U.N. I asked myself if it was a coincidence then that the woman Oswald supposedly had an affair with in Mexico, Duran, was the purported mistress of Cuba's ambassador to the U.N., Lechuga In light of the Angleton memo about Hunt, I couldn't rule out a connection. Perhaps Phillips told Hunt about Oswald and perhaps Hunt was using Oswald on missions completely separate from the assassination. Perhaps someone in the know turned the whole thing around.

It's also worthwhile to note that Barnes was in fact the one who wrote Bissell's response to Kirkpatrick's scathing IG report on the BOP. Barnes blamed Kennedy for its failure, and felt the CIA was largely blameless. He must have been pretty upset to sit by and watch not only his mentor Dulles, but his closest associate Bissell, be pushed aside, and have his greatest rival, Helms, take over the Dirty Tricks Dept. Barnes so loved. Barnes was no coward and no bureaucrat and was considered rather reckless. He was probably the CIA's top advocate for assassination, having advocated and/or planned its use in Guatemala, Iraq, the Dominican, Cuba, and the Congo. He sent guns to Trujillo's assassins and ordered the transfer to be kept from the State Dept. Bissell lamented Barnes' influence in his memoirs. When you take into account that Barnes was instrumental in the careers of Hunt, Phillips, Robertson, and Morales, it's just hard to write this guy off as a suspect. He may even have been the ring-leader.

P.S. I recently remembered that Gordon Novel was tied to the Double-Chek corporation, a CIA front. Double-Chek was run by Barnes.

Edited by Pat Speer
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  • 1 month later...

I have just read Robert D. Morrow's book, First Hand Knowledge. He explained in a speech at the State University of New York (28th June, 1991) what the motive for killing JFK:

The assassination of President Kennedy was, to put it simply, an anti-Castro 'provocation', an act designed to be blamed on Castro to justify a punitive American invasion of the island. Such action would most clearly benefit the Mafia chieftains who had lost their gambling holdings in Havana because of Castro, and CIA agents who had lost their credibility with the Cuban exile freedom fighters from the ill-fated Bay of Pigs invasion.

I also believe that this was the primary motive behind the assassination. Therefore I read the book wanting to believe his story. Briefly, this is Morrow’s story:

After attending Pennsylvania Military College Morrow became an engineer in Pittsburgh. In 1956 he joined Martin Company as a senior engineer in Baltimore, Maryland.

In January, 1958, Morrow moved to Washington where he set up an independent laboratory at his home in Hazelwood Avenue. For the next six months he worked with Stan Clark on the Doomsday Project. In July he joined the Neurology Project with Dr. John Seipel of Georgetown University.

Mario Kohly, who had been imprisoned by Fidel Castro in Cuba, escaped and arrived in the United States in February, 1959, and began organizing exile groups against Castro. Soon afterwards Kohly met Marshall Diggs. In March, 1960, Diggs recruited Morrow to work for Kohly. Three months later Morrow met Tracy Barnes and agrees to be Kohly's CIA contact.

Kohly agrees to accept help from the CIA in overthrowing Castro and in July, 1960, the Cuban Revolutionary Council (CRC) is formed. According to Morrow, the CRC informed JFK of CIA plans to invade Cuba at the Democratic National Convention. Morrow also claims that Kohly met Richard Nixon and the CIA in October. This resulted in the formation of Operation 40.

In March, 1961, Kohly's 300 man guerrilla army in the Escambray Mountains was decimated by Castro's forces. This damaged the potential success of the Bay of Pigs operation. Kohly now changed his strategy and with the help of Morrow he started a counterfeiting operation to undermine the Cuban economy.

Morrow continued to work for the CIA and he travelled to France to pick up a package for Tracy Barnes. While in Europe he bought arms for Kohly's new army.

In July, 1963, Morrow claims that Tracy Barnes "requested that I purchase four Mannlicher 7.35 mm surplus rifles. According to Barnes, the rifles were available in the Baltimore area from Sunny's Supply Stores. Upon my agreement to make the purchase, Barnes requested that I alter the forepiece of each rifle so that the rifles could be dismantled, hidden and reassembled quickly. I thought this last request odd until I was informed that the rifles were to be used for a clandestine operation."

The following day, Morrow claims that Eladio del Valle asked him to purchase four transceivers. In August 1963, Morrow delivered these rifles and transceivers to David Ferrie. Morrow believed that that the idea was to blame Fidel Castro for the assassination of JFK in order to trigger an invasion of Cuba.

In 1976 Morrow published “Betrayal: A Reconstruction of Certain Clandestine Events from the Bay of Pigs to the Assassination of John F. Kennedy”. The book was a partially fictionalized account of what Morrow experienced between 1958 and 1964. In his book, Morrow argues that Lee Harvey Oswald went to the Soviet Union as a CIA agent. On his return he became a FBI informant.

According to Morrow in 1963 Jack Ruby, Eladio del Valle, Guy Banister, David Ferrie and Clay Shaw organized a plot to kill Kennedy. This group manipulated events to make sure that Oswald would be identified as the assassin. The actual killer was an unnamed man impersonating Oswald. This man killed J. D. Tippit when he refused to go along with the plan to kill Lee Harvey Oswald who was waiting in the Texas Theatre. When Oswald was captured alive Ruby was forced to murder him in Dallas Police Station.

His next book was First Hand Knowledge (1992). Morrow claimed it was an autobiographical account of what he knew about the assassination of JFK. According to Morrow, the major players in the plot included Tracy Barnes, William Harvey, Marshall Diggs, Carlos Marcello, Santos Trafficante, Guy Banister, David Ferrie, Clay Shaw, Mario Kohly, Eladio del Valle, Sergio Arcacha Smith, Rolando Masferrer, Michel Mertz and Thomas Davis.

Morrow account implicates people who have already been named in other books. However, three people figure prominently who do not fit into this category: Mario Kohly, Marshall Diggs and Tracy Barnes. I have to admit that I do not know a great deal about Kohly or Diggs. However, I have spent sometime studying Tracy Barnes. Some researchers have mentioned his name as a possible figure in the JFK assassination conspiracy. Barnes was a member of Operation Success, the plot to overthrow Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala in 1954. Others involved in this operation were Frank Wisner, David Atlee Phillips, E. Howard Hunt, David Morales and Rip Robertson.

in 1960 Barnes joined the Directorate for Plans and helped Richard Bissell to organize the Bay of Pigs operation. Lyman Kirkpatrick, the CIA's inspector general, wrote a report on the failed project. Kirkpatrick was highly critical of both Bissell and Barnes. He claimed that they had misled JFK and that "plausible deniability was a pathetic illusion".

Unlike Bissell and Dulles, Barnes survived the Bay of Pigs disaster and according to Morrow, in 1962 Barnes was placed in charge of Domestic Operations Division. It was this unit that organized the assassination of JFK.

Morrow claims that Barnes had a motive. The Bay of Pigs operation failed because of JFK. However, it was the CIA who got the blame. Barnes was getting revenge on JFK and at the same time was guaranteeing a successful invasion of Cuba by setting up Lee Harvey Oswald as the assassin.

My main objection to this is that this does not fit Barnes’ personality. Barnes was a left of centre Democrat. Although very anti-communist (like other senior members of the CIA this view was based on his experiences in Europe during and soon after the Second World War) he held liberal views on domestic issues.

Morrow’s portrait of Barnes is totally unconvincing. From what we know of how the CIA worked, Barnes would never have exposed himself in the way that Morrow suggests. Why would Barnes personally recruit Morrow to buy the weapons to kill JFK? Why would Barnes then involve Eladio del Valle in asking Morrow to buy the four transceivers. Then Barnes gets Morrow to deliver the rifles and the transceivers to David Ferrie. It is all very convenient for the plot of Morrow’s book, but it is not the way senior officials in the CIA worked. Why would Barnes be so convinced that Morrow would never tell his story? If Barnes had been foolish enough to let Morrow know about the conspiracy, surely he would have had him killed soon after the event took place?

The book reads like a poorly written novel (the dialogue is appalling). That is what it is – a work of fiction.

Richard Helms became director of the Central Intelligence Agency in June, 1966. He immediately put Desmond FitzGerald under pressure to sack Barnes. The following month FitzGerald told Barnes his CIA career was over.

The one thing that all the people that Morrow named had in common was that they were all dead. I doubt very much if Morrow would have named Barnes if had not died on 18th February, 1972.

Photograph of Robert D. Morrow:

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  • 5 years later...
Guest Tom Scully

It is my view that Tracy Barnes had nothing to do with the assassination of JFK. Does anyone disagree with me?

Tracy Barnes, like many senior members of the CIA, was a member of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) during the war. Barnes was sent to London where he served under David Bruce, the head of SOS operations in England. While in London he spent time with his old friend Paul Nitze. ....

IMO, this is a rich vein needing to be mined.....

http://www.nytimes.com/1995/01/01/magazine/lives-well-lived-elizabeth-paepcke-eve-in-the-garden-of-aspen.html

LIVES WELL LIVED: ELIZABETH PAEPCKE; Eve in the garden of Aspen

By Ted Conover

Published: January 01, 1995

1902-1994 The Chicago philanthropist Elizabeth Paepcke helped transform Aspen into a world-famous resort, but her vision was more idealistic than commercial. With her husband, Walter, Paepcke founded the Aspen Institute and the Aspen Music Festival, which attracted legions of writers, composers, scientists and intellectuals to share their work. But Aspen had changed by the end of Paepcke's life and become a Hollywood playground; her next-door neighbor was Jack Nicholson. By TED CONOVER...

Assisted by her brother, the arms-control adviser Paul Nitze, and friends like Robert Hutchins, president of the University of Chicago, and the philosopher Mortimer Adler, the Paepckes soon laid the foundation for a ski town with a highbrow cultural life -- an "Athens of the West," Adler liked to call it......

(Page 2 of 3)

....Elizabeth, who had studied painting at the Art Institute of Chicago, was a pillar of that city's cultural life and worked as a decorator and theater designer -- and teacher to her husband. When Walter was contemplating an advertising campaign for the Container Corporation, Elizabeth pushed him to use distinguished designers instead of commercial artists. The resulting "Great Ideas of Western Man" campaign became an advertising milestone. The two combined culture and commerce again in Adler's first Great Books group (the "fat man's group" it was called, for all the prominent business members) and later in the Aspen Institute.....

http://books.google.com/books?id=q9sCAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA41&lpg=PA41&dq=francis+plimpton+board+cia+houghton&source=bl&ots=5yAHGZlRdT&sig=fCR-07LxzC-bHQ1OynQBuuVcewo&hl=en&ei=LmcTTtOYA_S70AGR5OnrCw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&ved=0CCQQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q&f=false

New York Magazine - Dec 8, 1969 - Google Books Result

books.google.com/books?id=q9sCAAAAMBAJ...Vol. 2, No. 49 - 88 pages - Magazine

Francis TP Plimpton — father of George Plimpton, a lawyer and former Deputy US ... Houghton's Foundation for Youth and Student Affairs, once linked to CIA.

http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2000-04-26/news/0004270191_1_aspen-institute-elian-gonzalez-houghton

Cuban boy moves to Md. Shore

Elian, his father and stepmother in seclusion at Wye

Boy's playmates to visit

Senate GOP leader orders hearings into armed entry of home

April 26, 2000|By Jean Marbella, Karen Hosler and Chris Guy | Jean Marbella, Karen Hosler and Chris Guy,SUN NATIONAL STAFF

.....Elian, his father, Juan Miguel Gonzalez, his stepmother, Nercy, and his baby half-brother, Hianny, were surreptitiously moved into a quiet home belonging to Nina Rodale Houghton, about two miles north of the Aspen Institute's Wye River Conference Centers, which was initially thought to be their destination.

Houghton is the widow of Arthur A. Houghton Jr., a wealthy industrialist and arts patron who donated his more than 1,100-acre estate on the Wye River to the Aspen Institute in 1979 and died in 1990. Nina Houghton, a legendary, low-key hostess on the Shore, is chairman of the Wye Institute, which is part of the Aspen Institute. The institute is a nonprofit center for education and conferences on world issues. She was recently appointed to the Board of Regents that governs the University System of Maryland....

Edited by Tom Scully
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  • 2 years later...
Guest Robert Morrow

Tracy Barnes, with his background, has to be considered a major suspect in the JFK assassination. I may have more on this later. I think Barnes was involved in many assassinations.

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John,

I'm not sure that "left of center Democrat" is enough to base a personality profile on.

My own father is a conservative Democrat that I would consider "left of center" on domestic issues and, as far as my last conversation with him on the subject goes, an unabashed supporter of the Warren Commission. It may be a generational thing, I don't know. There was a feeling, maybe a naiveté, that the government of the US was composed of mostly good people doing the "right" thing that prevails in generations that grew up pre- WW2.

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