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Seymour Hersh

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Terrific post, for which thanks. Two points suggest themselves.

First, one finds mainstream US press descriptions of CIA-run pseudo-gangs active in Vietnam as early as 1961. From memory, Joe Alsop was the Agency hack, and they appeared in, doubtless among other places, the Washington Post in January or February. Colby was what in 1961 - chief of station?

Second, on the subject of Indonesia, worth looking at the memoirs of the US Ambassador to Indonesia during Kennedy's presidency. John M. Allison's Ambassador from the Prairie: Or Allison in Wonderland (Houghton Mifflin Co., 1973) contains some brief but fascinating glimpses of his strained relationship with the Agency. The president's loyal tool, Hersh would have us believe.


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  • 5 years later...

The book's biggest crime was BOREDOM. Page after page of Old Joe Kennedy's alleged mob ties and shady business dealings. The opening chapter is little more than stale, rehashed pillow talk from an aging Kennedy bimbo. SS agents going on the record was Hersh's biggest coup, I suppose. JFK lackey Dave Powers comes across as little more than a presidential pimp, with Ken O'Donnell not far behind. I seem to recall a particularly outrageous story about a party that occurred at Bing Crosby's estate in the California desert. The upshot is that the Prez was lax, and so was his security detail. He coopted them. Yes, some agents were disgusted, but others were all too happy to join the traveling road party.

The book does contain some very important information about the JFK assassination. This includes this passage:

His (Grant Stockdale) reward was to be appointed in 1961 as ambassador to Ireland. The post had obvious sentimental value for Kennedy, and Stockdale was flattered. Once in Ireland, he went all out to represent the new administration and lavishly spent his personal money on embassy entertaining. Eighteen months later, he told Kennedy he was broke and had to go back to his real estate business in Miami.

The president understood. Stockdale appealed to Kennedy, perhaps, because he was all the things Kennedy was not: a self-made man who was precisely what he seemed to be. He had been a football star in college before serving in the war as a marine intelligence officer in the Pacific. "His life was an open book," Stockdale's son, also named Grant, told me in a 1996 interview. "When he got back to Miami, he told his friends he was broke. He was happy to have served, but happy to get back to his business."

Stockdale also knew how to keep his mouth shut. He had joined Kennedy in 1962 at one of his private parties in the Carlyle Hotel in New York, and later told his son that "there were women, beautiful women there." It was a world, Grant said of his father, "that was too fast for him. He was completely out of his league." He did not go back.

But now it was November 1963 and Stockdale was in the Oval Office. Grant told me the story his mother, Adie, had told him. Kennedy said, "I need you to raise some dough - fifty thousand dollars: "Why me?" "Because I need it and I can count on you to keep it quiet."What's it for?"It's for personal use."'

The president's request made his father very uneasy, Grant said. "He raised money," Grant told me. "That's what he did for the Democratic National Committee. But not for personal use. Stockdale asked the president, his son said, "How are you going to acknowledge this money [to donors]?" Kennedy said, 'It's never going to be acknowledged." His father returned to Miami and did what Kennedy asked - he raised $50,000 in cash, telling contributors that the money was for Jack Kennedy. "He hated it," Grant told me, "but he felt, xxxx, it's the president: He was very distressed about being asked to raise cash for the president's personal use when he's got his own money problems. The clincher was the part about no acknowledgment. There was something wrong with the whole thing. He knew he was being used, and my mother knew he was being used. She really resented it. 'It's the craziest thing I've ever heard,' she said. `Don't do it. Turn it down.' But he felt he couldn't."

"So," Grant continued, "my father went around and collected money. I think he did it not believing that Kennedy wouldn't acknowledge it (as a loan or contribution) in some way. He couldn't believe it was so underhanded." There was no secret in Miami about Stockdale's money needs. "All of his buddies knew he was broke," Grant said, "because he was open about it: "Hey guys, I'm broke." He had trouble raising the $50,000 in cash, Grant told me. "Some of the people he approached were as incredulous as my mother was. They were simply disbelieving, and turned down the request:" Word began spreading in Miami, Grant added, that Stockdale was really raising the money for himself - that there was no Kennedy connection. "My father was devastated when he heard that story," Grant told me. "It got to his core. My father was still trying to figure out how he could get Kennedy to acknowledge the contributors when November twenty-second came."

A family friend had gone with his father, Grant said, to the Kennedy compound to deliver the money. "Kennedy said, Thank you, opened a nearby closet door, and threw the briefcase in there," Grant was told. "The closet was full of briefcases."

Kennedy's assassination devastated the Stockdale family, and left Stockdale with a serious problem, his son recalled. "He told everyone that the money he had collected was for Kennedy, but now he had no proof." Grant said that his father "was very worried about Bobby Baker. Why would my father be worried about Bobby Baker?"

Edward Grant Stockdale committed suicide by jumping from his office window in downtown Miami ten days after the president's murder. He was forty-eight years old. His son still wants to know why Kennedy needed the money.



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