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Carmine Bellino


John Simkin
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When recently investigating Lou Russell I came across the name Carmine Bellino. It seemed he was playing a double game during the Watergate investigation. The more I found out about Bellino, the more confusing it became. This is what I have so far.

Bellino was born in New Jersey in 1905. After graduating from New York University in 1928 Bellino worked as an accountant in New York City.

In 1934 Bellino joined the FBI and served as an administrative assistant to, J. Edgar Hoover until the end of the Second World War. He then served as assistant director of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation (1945-46) and War Assets Administration (1946-47). According to Robert Maheu, Bellino was also employed by Joseph Kennedy as his accountant and personal secretary.

Bellino specialized in dealing with organized crime and corrupt trade union officials and served on two congressional investigations into labour racketeering.

Robert Maheu tells an interesting story about Bellino. In 1954 he was approached to do covert work for the CIA. However, he was told he would have to move out of his current offices before he could start work for them. The reason being that at that time Maheu shared an office with Carmine Bellino. For some reason, Bellino posed a threat to CIA operations.

In 1955, Robert Kennedy became chief counsel of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. He recruited Bellino as one of his staff members. Bellino served as a consultant to various congressional committees. He also worked as an accountant in New York City and Washington.

In 1961 JFK appointed him as his special consultant until and held the post until the president was assassinated in 1963. Bellino now became a partner at Wright, Long and Company. He also worked part time for the Atomic Energy Commission and various congressional committees.

During the Watergate Scandal Bellino was appointed chief investigator of the Senate Select Committee on the 1972 Presidential Campaign Activities. Bellino had worked with Lou Russell at the FBI and the House Committee on Un-American Activities. According to Jim Hougan (Secret Agenda) Russell had helped James W. McCord to "sabotage the break-in".

Russell was interviewed by the FBI soon afterwards. He claimed that during the break-in he was in his rooming house. The FBI agents did not believe him but none of the burglars claimed he had been involved in the conspiracy and he was released.

Soon afterwards Russell received a phone call from Bellino. It is not known was was said but as a result of this conversation Russell went to stay with Bellino's friend, William Birely, on the top floor of the Twin Towers complex in Silver Spring, Maryland. Birely was also a close friend of Lee R. Pennington. Both men had been active members of the Sons of the American Revolution. John Leon later claimed that Lou Russell was working as a spy for the Democratic Party and was reporting to Bellino about the Watergate break-in.

During the Watergate investigation George Bush accused Bellino of organizing a wiretap to be placed on the phones of Engelhard Industries for John F. Kennedy during the 1960 presidential elections. It later emerged that this story was true. Charles W. Engelhard, a South African diamond merchant, had discovered that Kennedy was having an affair with a nineteen year old student at Radcliffe College. Engelhard had attempted to employ a private detective in Boston to obtain photographs of Kennedy with this student. The detective refused and informed Kennedy of what was going on and this resulted in Bellino organizing the wiretap.

Was Lou Russell really working for the Democrats? Possibly, but all the available evidence links him to the far right and he had a long history of working for Nixon.

It seems that Bellino had a long history of carrying out covert operations for the Kennedy family (Joe, John and Robert). He worked for JFK during his presidency. One of his job seems to have been to deal with blackmailers. I wonder if he was involved in paying off those blackmailing JFK just before his death in 1963. The one that Grant Stockdale was collecting money for (Stockdale officially committed suicide a few days after JFK was assassinated).

Was Bellino working for Edward Kennedy during the Watergate Scandal? Or was he working for someone else?

If Russell was working for the Democrats, why did he not reveal the full details of the break-in to the Watergate Senate Committee? In fact, the behavour of Bellino suggests that via William Birely he was trying to stop Russell from talking. This strategy worked. What is also interesting is that both Lou Russell and John Leon died of heart attacks during the Watergate investigation.

It is obviously neccessary to now carry out some research into John Leon and William Birely. Please post on the Forum any information you have on these two characters.

By the way, Carmine Bellino died on 29th February, 1990.

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Guest Stephen Turner

BELLINO CARMINE SALVATORE.

Bellet G Age of secrets 1995

Burnham D A law unto itself 1989

Hersh S The dark side of Camelot 1997

Honegger B October surprise 1989

Hougan J Secret agenda 1989

"" "" Spooks 1979

Lasky V It didnt start with Watergate 1976

Mader J Who's who in the CIA 1988

Maheu R Next to Hughes 1993

Moldea D The Hoffa wars 1978

Neff J Mobbed up 1989

Summers A The arrogance of power 2000

Trento J The secret history of the CIA 2001

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Guest Stephen Turner

BIRELY WILLIAM.

Hougan J Secret agenda 1984

Summers A The arrogance of power 2000

Tarpley WG Chaitkin A George Bush 1992

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Guest Stephen Turner

LEON JOHN W.

Bellet G Age of secrets 1995

Hougan J Secret Agenda 1984

Lasky V It didnt start with Watergate 1978

Scott P D Deep Politics 1993

Summers A The arrogance of power 2000

Tarply W G Chaitkin A George Bush 1992

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Here is the Namebase entry for Carmine Bellino:

http://www.namebase.org/main1/Carmine-Salvatore-Bellino.html

Bellett,G. Age of Secrets. 1995 (136, 139)

Burnham,D. A Law Unto Itself. 1989 (244-5)

Covert Action Information Bulletin 1990-#33 (4)

Hersh,S. The Dark Side of Camelot. 1997 (111, 236)

Honegger,B. October Surprise. 1989 (84)

Hougan,J. Secret Agenda. 1984 (236, 310)

Hougan,J. Spooks. 1979 (98, 262-4)

Lasky,V. It Didn't Start With Watergate. 1978 (46-53, 66-8, 340)

Mader,J. Who's Who in CIA. 1968

Maheu,R. Next to Hughes. 1993 (47)

Moldea,D. The Hoffa Wars. 1978 (73, 182)

Mollenhoff,C. The Pentagon. 1967 (182)

Neff,J. Mobbed Up. 1989 (96)

Scott,P.D. Crime and Coverup. 1977 (34)

Summers,A. The Arrogance of Power. 2000 (51-2, 144-5, 212)

Tarpley,W.G. Chaitkin,A. George Bush. 1992 (253-60)

Trento,J. The Secret History of the CIA. 2001 (495)

Washington Times 1990-03-01 (B4)

I have the books by Seymour Hersh (The Dark Side of Camelot), Jim Hougan (Secret Agenda), Bob Maheu (Next to Hughes), Tony Summers (The Arrogance of Power) and Joe Trento (The Secret History of the CIA). Grateful to know what the other books said about Bellino.

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I have just found out this interesting information. JFK aide, Richard Goodwin, was unconvinced by the Warren Report. Soon after it was published Goodwin held a meeting with Robert Kennedy at his UN Plaza apartment, Goodwin recounted his doubts about the Warren Commission.

Goodwin said to Kennedy that: "I think we should find our own investigator - someone with absolute loyalty and discretion."

Kennedy replied: "You might try Carmine Bellino. He's the best in the country."

I wonder if Bellino carried out that investigation.

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I have placed what I have found out about Carmine Bellino here:

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/JFKbellino.htm

_______________________________

Excellent posts. The Dallas to Watergate to today connections are just massive here.

I wonder if McCord would be willing to talk today. When Carl (Oglesby) interviewed him for Yankee Cowboy McCord denied all, but time has a way of making one wish to cleans one's soul, prior to departing this life.

Has he ever admitted to anyone that he was-imo- at the Watergate in a dual role?

Hs anyone, aside from Carl, attempted to discuss this with him?

I am NOT surprised that "Wood-stein" did not dig deeper into what Russell et all could tell.

Dawn

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I have now discovered more information about John W. Leon. It is indeed a very complicated story. Leon worked as a private detective for Carmine Bellino (JFK)during the 1960 presidential election. Leon bugged the phones of Engelhard Industries. Charles W. Engelhard, a South African diamond merchant, had discovered that Kennedy was having an affair with a nineteen year old student at Radcliffe College. Engelhard had attempted to employ a private detective in Boston to obtain photographs of Kennedy with this student. The detective refused and informed Kennedy of what was going on and this resulted in Bellino organizing the wiretap.

By the early 1970s Leon was running a detective agency called Allied Investigators Incorporated in Washington. Lou Russell was one of the men Leon employed.

In March, 1972, Russell purchased $3,000 in electronic eavesdropping equipment from Leon. Russell's friend, Charles F. Knight, was told that this equipment had been purchased for James W. McCord. This equipment was used to tape the telephone conversations between politicians based at the Democratic Party National Committee and a small group of prostitutes run by Phillip Mackin Bailley that worked their trade in the Columbia Plaza.

It is not clear what role Lou Russell played in the Watergate break-in. Jim Hougan (Secret Agenda) has suggested that he was helping McCord to "sabotage the break-in".

Russell was interviewed by the FBI soon afterwards. He claimed that during the break-in he was in his rooming house. The FBI agents did not believe him but none of the burglars claimed he had been involved in the conspiracy and he was released.

According to Jerris Leonard, a supporter of Richard Nixon, Leon told Carmine Bellino, who at the time was working for Edward Kennedy and the Senate Administrative Practices Committee, about Russell's problems. Bellino phoned Russell. It is not known was was said but as a result of this conversation Russell went to stay with Bellino's friend, William Birely on the top floor of the Twin Towers complex in Silver Spring, Maryland. Birely was also a close friend of Lee R. Pennington. Both men had been active members of the Sons of the American Revolution.

Leon claimed that Russell had been a spy for the Democratic Party within CREEP and that he had tipped off Carmine Bellino and the police about the Watergate break-in. At the time Leon was working on a counter-investigation for the Republican Party. Leon claimed that Watergate was a set up and the operation had been sabotaged from within.

On 2nd July, 1973, Lou Russell died of a heart attack. Leon now began contacting others who had worked with him for Carmine Bellino during the presidential campaign. This included former CIA officer John Frank, congressional investigator Edward M. Jones and Joseph Shimon, a former inspector for the Washington Police Department. Leon and the others provided affidavits claiming that the JFK had ordered the bugging of Richard Nixon during the 1960 presidential election. Leon now passed this information to Jerris Leonard, an attorney working for the Republican National Committee (RNC).

George Bush, the chairman of the RNC announced there would be press conference on 13th July, 1973. John Leon was to be the star witness. However, Leon suffered a heart-attack and died on the day he was due to appear at the press conference.

The press conference took place but minus its key witness, John Leon. John Frank, Edward M. Jones and Joseph Shimon all testified that Carmine Bellino had been involved in wire-tapping. However, eventually it was decided that there was not enough evidence to charge Bellino with any crimes. At the time, it was believed that George Bush was trying to direct attention towards Democrat dirty tricks.

Lou Russell had a long history of working on behalf the Republican Party. It is possible he was a man for hire and that he willingly sabotaged the operation from within. If he did, then McCord was part of the same plot. Yet all the evidence is that McCord was working on behalf of Helms and the CIA in the struggle with Nixon. Is it possible that Watergate was a CIA/Democrat set up? If so, it could be argued that Leon, who was close to Russell, went to the Republicans with the story. However, there is a problem with this scenario. It is recorded that when Russell was pulled in by the FBI after the Watergate break-in, Leon contacted Carmine Bellino about it. It is true that Russell and Leon had both worked for Bellino. However, Bellino had employed them on behalf of the Democratic Party.

The next stage is also confusing. Bellino puts Russell into contact with William Birely, who hides him away in top floor of the Twin Towers complex in Silver Spring, Maryland. Birely, was a right-wing Republican. If Bellino wanted to help the Democrats and hurt the Republicans, he would have wanted Russell to a deal like the one obtained by Alfred Baldwin. This would have ensured an early end to Nixon. Instead, Bellino and Birely successfully kept Russell from testifying. The death of Russell and Leon completed this process.

One possible answer to this riddle is that the Republicans and Democrats would have been both hurt by the testimony of Russell and Leon. It was therefore in both their interests to keep them quiet.

Another possible solution to this mystery is that Bellino and Birely were working for another organization, the CIA. Maybe they were the real beneficiaries of the deaths of Leon and Russell.

I think that there is a good chance that Bellino was a CIA asset. When Robert Maheu was first recruited by the CIA they insisted he stopped sharing an office with Bellino. Why? Maheu gives the lame excuse that Bellino and the Kennedys had been associated with Joe McCarthy and the House Committee on Un-American Activities and the CIA were still upset by the way some of their officers (Frank Wisner, Cord Meyer, etc.) had been treated during this period. This is a ridiculous explanation. Maybe the CIA were protecting themselves. It would not do to have two CIA cut-outs working in the same office. If one was exposed, people would start asking questions about the other one.

If Bellino was CIA, then that raises issues about his relationship with the Kennedy family. For example, Robert Kennedy suggested to Richard Goodwin that Bellino should carry out the “Kennedy family” investigation into the assassination of JFK. Maybe it was Bellino who first suggested this. This would have been like LBJ commissioning the Warren Report. Bellino would have come up with the report that the CIA would have wanted. RFK, who had great respect for Bellino, would have been convinced by the report. That of course would not have been true if he realized that Bellino was a CIA asset.

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John, I think you're way off to suggest that Bellino was CIA. He was a Kennedy family loyalist, through and through. The CIA excuse to Maheu makes perfect sense. McCarthy was shaking everyone up, and Bobby was, at least for awhile, in bed with him. What I think is hard to grasp is the nature of the private spooks, the cut-outs. They were not CIA employees. They would just as soon work for a Latin-American dictator, Howard Hughes, or the mob, as for the CIA. And they would often play both sides. That is what is so interesting to me about Maheu. And Howard Hunt, later on. While working for Hughes, they used their government connections to do his dirty work, and made it look like it was in the national interest.

These men were all up for grabs. We will never know where their real loyalties lay. Consider that Frank was working for Maheu during the Galindez disappearance, which may or may not been at the request of the CIA. Consider that Shimon was with Maheu during his supposedly top secret meetings with Giancana. While you can make the connection then that Maheu and the CIA were conspiring with Kennedyand Bellino to overthrow Nixon in 72, where does that leave these men? By talking about Bellino's wire-tapping they are clearly co-operating with Nixon, and are therefore against Maheu and the CIA. Why would they do this? I believe it all came down to who was buttering their bread that week.

Edited by Pat Speer
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John, I think you're way off to suggest that Bellino was CIA.  He was a Kennedy family loyalist, through and through.  The CIA excuse to Maheu makes perfect sense.  McCarthy was shaking everyone up, and Bobby was, at least for awhile, in bed with him. What I think is hard to grasp is the nature of the private spooks, the cut-outs.  They were not CIA employees.  They would just as soon work for a Latin-American dictator, Howard Hughes, or the mob, as for the CIA.  And they would often play both sides.  That is what is so interesting to me about Maheu.  And Howard Hunt, later on.  While working for Hughes, they used their government connections to do his dirty work, and made it look like it was in the national interest.

These men were all up for grabs.  We will never know where their real loyalties lay.  Consider that Frank was working for Maheu during the Galindez disappearance, which may or may not been at the request of the CIA.  Consider that Shimon was with Maheu during his supposedly top secret meetings with Giancana.  While you can make the connection then that Maheu and the CIA were conspiring with Kennedy and Bellino to overthrow Nixon in 72, where does that leave these men?  By talking about Bellino's wire-tapping they are clearly co-operating with Nixon, and are therefore against Maheu and the CIA.  Why would they do this?  I believe it all came down to who was buttering their bread that week.

Another excellent post by Pat! (IMO.)

Pat, you have obviously got Tim’s approval, for your views on Carmine Bellino. That is not surprising as there is evidence that Bellino was working for the Republican Party.

You are right to suggest that I cannot prove that Bellino was a CIA asset. After all, it is only in rare cases like Maheu, that CIA assets are exposed. In his case, it was necessary as the CIA were trying desperately to link the assassination with the Mafia. This meant that they had to reveal that Maheu had also been working as a CIA asset. Over the years he has attempted to cash in on this by writing about some of his CIA activities (although I am sure that he has not told the full story of his work with the CIA).

You are probably right that John Leon and Lou Russell were mainly motivated by money during the Watergate Scandal. The same of course could be said of Carmine Bellino. Just because it was in his interest to work for the Kennedy family in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, does not mean that he was unwilling to work for the Republican Party or the CIA in the 1970s. After all, he was quite willing to work for Hoover and the FBI in the 1930s.

I think most people would agree that people are motivated by two important factors: money and ideology. Tim Gratz has been accused of being paid to take part in some sort of disinformation campaign on this forum. I disagree with this argument. I believe Tim is very much like myself, he is motivated more by ideology than money.

History shows that most people are motivated primarily by money. However, a small minority are so ideologically committed that they cannot be bought (Fidel Castro fits into that category and that is why the CIA have found it so difficult to deal with him).

However, I do not agree that Carmine Bellino's career suggests he was motivated primarily by money. In the 1930s he was willing to serve the right-wing ideology of J. Edgar Hoover. In the 1940s and 1950s he was willing to serve the Kennedys, who at the time also embraced this right-wing, fanatical anti-communist, ideology. Bellino was adaptable and by the 1960s was willing to work for John and Robert Kennedy when they moved to the left. In the 1970s Bellino was working for Edward Kennedy, who was following in the tradition of the 1960s liberal agenda. If Bellino was a Kennedy loyalist one would expect him to have been doing everything he could to have destroyed Richard Nixon.

Some aspects of his behaviour suggests this was the case. Leon, for example, believes that Lou Russell was in the pay of the Democratic Party via Bellino. But is this true? The behaviour of Bellino does not support this.

According to Jerris Leonard, it was Leon who told Bellino that Lou Russell was being questioned by the FBI. Bellino then contacts Russell. We have no idea of what was said but if he was working for Edward Kennedy and the Democratic Party he would surely have told him to give the necessary evidence that would hurt Nixon. If he did do this, Russell does not follow Bellino’s orders. What we do know is that Bellino put Russell into contact with William Birely, who arranges for him to stay on the top floor of the Twin Towers complex in Silver Spring, Maryland. Birely says he does this because he felt sorry for Russell after Bellino told him about his problems. Birely was obviously looking after Russell and I assume was trying to persuade him to give certain information about Nixon and the Watergate Scandal.

As it was Bellino who persuaded Birely to take this action, if Pat is right about this, Birely would have been working on behalf of Edward Kennedy and the Democratic Party. However, an examination of Birely’s past shows this to have been unlikely. Birely had been a close friend of Richard Nixon since 1947. He had a long record of being a supporter of far-right causes. In the early 1970s he was a leading figure in the Sons of the American Revolution. Interestingly, Lee R. Pennington, the CIA asset who also plays an important role in the Watergate cover-up, was involved with Birely in this organization.

Another interesting fact is that Birely was also very friendly with Nixon’s secretary, Rose Mary Woods. Rose also had another friend called Tony Ulasewicz, the chief operative of Operation Sandwedge. Ulasewicz got to know Rose via her brother, Joseph Woods, a private detective who did work as part of Operation Sandwedge. I think it is possible that Birely was one of the operation's paymasters.

The most suspicious aspect of the behaviour of Bellino and Birely during this period is that they did not encourage Russell to give evidence against Nixon. In fact, the opposite seems to be the case.

John Leon definitely seems to have been working on behalf of the Republican Party at this time. His information about the wiretapping activities of Bellino and JFK that he gave to George Bush definitely hurt the Democrats and helped to hamper the Watergate investigation. However, Leon, like Russell, was a dangerous figure to the Republicans. Neither men could be guaranteed to tell only part of the story. In the past, both men had been involved in carrying out dirty tricks for Nixon and the Republicans. It was in the interests of the Republicans, rather than the Democrats, that both Leon and Russell were silenced by having heart attacks.

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