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John Whitten and his CIA investigation into Oswald


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Here is the opening section of Jefferson Morley's The Good Spy:

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/...ley.html#byline

It was 1:30 in the morning of Nov. 23, 1963, and John F. Kennedy had been dead for 12 hours. His corpse was being dressed at Bethesda Naval Hospital, touched and retouched to conceal the ugly bullet wounds. In Dallas, the F.B.I. had Lee Harvey Oswald in custody.

The lights were still on at the Central Intelligence Agency's headquarters in Langley, Va. John Whitten, the agency's 43-year-old chief of covert operations for Mexico and Central America, hung up the phone with his Mexico City station chief. He had just learned something stunning: A C.I.A. surveillance team in Mexico City had photographed Oswald at the Cuban consulate in early October, an indication that the agency might be able to quickly uncover the suspect's background.

At 1:36 am, Whitten sent a cable to Mexico City: "Send staffer with all photos of Oswald to HQ on the next available flight. Call Mr. Whitten at 652-6827." Within 24 hours Whitten was leading the C.I.A. investigation into the assassination. After two weeks of reviewing classified cables, he had learned that Oswald's pro-Castro political activities needed closer examination, especially his attempt to shoot a right-wing JFK critic, a diary of his efforts to confront anti-Castro exiles in New Orleans, and his public support for the pro-Castro Fair Play for Cuba Committee. For this investigatory zeal, Whitten was taken off the case.

C.I.A. Deputy Director of Plans Richard Helms blocked Whitten's efforts, effectively ending any hope of a comprehensive agency investigation of the accused assassin, a 24-year-old ex-Marine, who had sojourned in the Soviet Union and spent time as a leftist activist in New Orleans. In particular, Oswald's Cuba-related political life, which Whitten wished to pursue, went unexplored by the C.I.A. The blue-ribbon Warren commission appointed by President Johnson concluded in September 1964 that Oswald alone and unaided had killed Kennedy. But over the years, as information which the commission's report had not accounted for leaked out, many would come to see the commission as a cover-up, in part because it failed to assign any motive to Oswald, in part because the government's pre-assassination surveillance of Oswald had been more intense than the government ever cared to disclose, and finally because its reconstruction of the crime sequence was flawed.

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John Whitten has been virtually ignored by the JFK research community. For example, this is what Namebase says about references to the man who carried out the CIA's initial investigation into the assassination of JFK.

http://www.namebase.org/main2/John-M-Whitten.html

Burleigh,N. A Very Private Woman. 1999 (295-6)

Denton,S. Morris,R. The Money and the Power. 2001 (254)

DiEugenio,J. Pease,L. The Assassinations. 2003 (163-4, 166, 173, 180-3)

Lobster Magazine (Britain) 2004-#47 (32)

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

Newman,J. Oswald and the CIA. 1995 (402, 405-6, 412)

State Dept. Biographic Register. 1969

Gerald McKnight's Breach of Trust should also be added to this list (84, 87-88, 308, 310, 327, 346-9, 359).

John Moss Whitten was born in Annapolis, Maryland in 1920. After graduating from the University of Maryland he served as a captain in U.S. Army Intelligence during the Second World War.

In 1945 he began studying law at the University of Virginia and two years later joined the newly formed CIA. He served in Washington and Vienna where, according to Jefferson Morley "he built a reputation as an effective, if sometimes abrasive, officer and a skilled interrogator".

In March 1962 Whitten joined the CIA's Western Hemisphere Division. The following year he was promoted to be chief of all CIA covert operations in Mexico and Central America.

When JFK was assassinated in Dallas, Richard Helms initially appointed Whitten to undertake the agency's in-house investigation. After talking to Winston Scott, the CIA station chief in Mexico City, Whitten discovered that Lee Harvey Oswald had been photographed at the Cuban consulate in early October, 1963. Nor had Scott told Whitten, his boss, that Oswald had also visited the Soviet Embassy in Mexico. In fact, Whitten had not been informed of the existence of Oswald, even though there was a 201 pre-assassination file on him that had been maintained by the Counterintelligence/Special Investigative Group.

Whitten and his staff of 30 officers, were sent a large amount of information from the FBI. According to Gerald D. McKnight "the FBI deluged his branch with thousands of reports containing bits and fragments of witness testimony that required laborious and time-consuming name checks." Whitten later described most of this FBI material as "weirdo stuff". As a result of this initial investigation, Whitten told Richard Helms that he believed that Oswald had acted alone in the assassination of JFK.

On 6th December, Nicholas Katzenbach invited John Whitten to read CD1, the report that the FBI was writing on Oswald. Whitten now realized that the FBI had been withholding important information on Oswald. He also discovered that Richard Helms had not been providing him all of the agency's available files on Oswald. This included Oswald's political activities in the months preceding the assassination.

Whitten had a meeting with Helms where he argued that Oswald's pro-Castro political activities needed closer examination, especially his attempt to shoot the right-wing General Edwin Walker, his relationship with anti-Castro exiles in New Orleans, and his public support for the pro-Castro Fair Play for Cuba Committee. Whitten added that has he had been denied this information, his initial conclusions on the assassination were "completely irrelevant."

Helms responded by taking Whitten off the case. James Jesus Angleton, chief of the CIA's Counterintelligence Branch, was now put in charge of the investigation.

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In 1965 Whitten was moved sideways into an unimportant post reviewing operations. Despite being awarded the Distinguished Intelligence medal in 1970, the CIA's highest honour, Whitten's never received further promotion. He therefore took early retirement and moved to Austria, where he pursued a new career as a singer with the Vienna Men's Choral Society.

In 1975 the Senate Foreign Relations Committee began investigating the CIA. Senator Stuart Symington asked Richard Helms if the CIA had been involved in the removal of Salvador Allende. Helms replied no. He also insisted that he had not passed money to opponents of Allende.

Investigations by the CIA's Inspector General and by Frank Church and his Select Committee on Intelligence Activities showed that Helms had lied to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. They also discovered that Helms had been involved in illegal domestic surveillance and the murders of Patrice Lumumba, General Abd al-Karim Kassem and Ngo Dinh Diem. Helms was eventually found guilty of lying to Congress and received a suspended two-year prison sentence.

In its final report, issued in April 1976, the Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities concluded: “Domestic intelligence activity has threatened and undermined the Constitutional rights of Americans to free speech, association and privacy. It has done so primarily because the Constitutional system for checking abuse of power has not been applied.” The committee also revealed details for the first time of what the CIA called Operation Mockingbird.

The committee also reported that the Central Intelligence Agency had withheld from the Warren Commission, during its investigation of the assassination of JFK, information about plots by the Government of the United States against Fidel Castro of Cuba; and that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had conducted a counter-intelligence program (COINTELPRO) against Martin Luther King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

In 1976 Thomas N. Downing began campaigning for a new investigation into the assassination of JFK. Downing said he was certain that JFK had been killed as a result of a conspiracy.

Coretta Scott King, was also calling for her husband's murder to be looked at by a Senate Committee. It was suggested that there was more chance of success if these two investigations could be combined. Henry Gonzalez and Walter E. Fauntroy joined Downing in his campaign and in 1976 Congress voted to create a 12-member House Select Committee on Assassinations to investigate the deaths of Kennedy and King.

On 16th May, 1978, Whitten appeared before the HSCA. He criticised Richard Helms for not making a full disclosure about the Rolando Cubela plot to the Warren Commission. He added " I think that was a morally highly reprehensible act, which he cannot possibly justify under his oath of office or any other standard of professional service."

Whitten also said that if he had been allowed to continue with the investigation he would have sought out what was going on at JM/WAVE. This would have involved the questioning of Ted Shackley, David Sanchez Morales, Carl E. Jenkins, Rip Robertson, George Joannides, Gordon Campbell and Thomas G. Clines.

As Jefferson Morley has pointed out in The Good Spy: "Had Whitten been permitted to follow these leads to their logical conclusions, and had that information been included in the Warren Commission report, that report would have enjoyed more credibility with the public. Instead, Whitten's secret testimony strengthened the HSCA's scathing critique of the C.I.A.'s half-hearted investigation of Oswald. The HSCA concluded that Kennedy had been killed by Oswald and unidentifiable co-conspirators."

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In 1996, Whitten's 192-page deposition to the House Select Committee on Assassinations was finally declassified by the Assassination Records Review Board. The board's chairman, federal judge John Tunheim, describes the deposition as "one of the most important" of the new JFK records. At Whitten's request, however, the board did not then declassify his true name and he continued to be known as John Scelso.

John Moss Whitten died in a Pottstown nursing home in January 2000.

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John Whitten also told the HSCA that James Jesus Angleton involvement into the investigation of the assassination of John F. Kennedy was "improper". Although he was placed in charge of the investigation by Richard Helms, Angleton "immediately went into action to do all the investigating". When Whitten complained to Helms about this he refused to act.

Whitten believes that Angleton's attempts to sabotage the investigation was linked to his relationship with the Mafia. Whitten claims that Angleton also prevented a CIA plan to trace mob money to numbered accounts in Panama. Angleton told Whitten that this investigation should be left to the FBI. When Whitten mentioned this to a senior CIA official, he replied: "Well, that's Angleton's excuse. The real reason is that Angleton himself has ties to the Mafia and he would not want to double-cross them."

Whitten also pointed out that as soon as Angleton took control of the investigation he concluded that Cuba was unimportant and focused his internal investigation on Oswald's life in the Soviet Union. If Whitten had remained in charge he would have "concentrated his attention on CIA's JM/WAVE station in Miami, Florida, to uncover what Gworge Joannides, the station chief, and operatives from the SIG and SAS knew about Oswald."

When he appeared before the HSCA Whitten revealed that he had been unaware of the CIA's Executive Action program. He added that he thought it possible that Lee Harvey Oswald might have been involved in this assassination operation.

In 1996, Whitten's 192-page deposition to the House Select Committee on Assassinations was finally declassified by the Assassination Records Review Board. At Whitten's request, however, the board did not then declassify his true name and he continued to be known as John Scelso.

John Moss Whitten died in a Pottstown nursing home on January 2000. Minnesota federal judge John Tunheim, the chairman of the JFK Assassinations Records Review Board, argued that John Scelso's 1978 testimony "was perhaps the single most important document we uncovered". However, this statement was not released until 2001. The year after Whitten had died. Richard Helms died on 22nd October, 2002. Seven days later, the CIA declassified John Whitten's name.

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I have a question and an observation.

How did John M. Whitten end up in a nursing home in Pottstown, Pennsylvania? Which is not far from Philadelphia.

And during his post-CIA time singing in the Vienna choir, did he know Henry Plesants? Originally from Philadelphia, Plesants is the former OSS-CIA officer, Bonn COS who debriefed Gehlen, wrote "The Agony of Modern Music" reviewed opera, classical music and jazz for the New York Times and NANA, later lived in London but attended the Vienna music festivals regularly.

Was there an obituary for Whitten published in Vienna?

It could contain a few clues.

BK

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I have a question and an observation.

How did John M. Whitten end up in a nursing home in Pottstown, Pennsylvania? Which is not far from Philadelphia.

And during his post-CIA time singing in the Vienna choir, did he know Henry Plesants? Originally from Philadelphia, Plesants is the former OSS-CIA officer, Bonn COS who debriefed Gehlen, wrote "The Agony of Modern Music" reviewed opera, classical music and jazz for the New York Times and NANA, later lived in London but attended the Vienna music festivals regularly.

Was there an obituary for Whitten published in Vienna?

It could contain a few clues.

John M. Whitten was 50 when he retired from the CIA and moved to Austria. The main reason he went to Austria was to sing. I expect he retired from this in his sixties and I assume he moved back to the US. He died aged 80 in 2000. The important point about this is that at this time no one knew that John M. Whitten worked for the CIA. All the CIA records gave his name as John Scelso. It was two years after his death that the CIA declassified John Whitten's name (29th October, 2002).

You will find what I have on John M. Witten here:

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

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John,

this part of Morley's article on Whitten jumps out:

Accounting for Oswald’s Cuba-related activities proved especially difficult, he testified. In early December 1963 Whitten was writing up what he had gleaned from CIA files, when he was invited to the White House for a look at the FBI’s preliminary report on Oswald. Reading the report, Whitten was shocked. The FBI had all sorts of information about Oswald that had never been given to him. Whitten went back to his office realizing that deputy director Dick Helms and counterintelligence chief James Angleton had been withholding “vital information” about the accused assassin from him.

“Could you give us some examples of that?” his interrogator asked.

Whitten remembered quite clearly.

“Yes,” he said. “Details of Oswald’s political activity in the United States, the pro-Cuban activity…” Later on he reiterated the point: “Oswald’s involvement with the pro-Castro movement in the United States was not at all surface[d] to us in the first weeks of the investigation,” he said.

The early Dec date mentioned was the 6th. Had he been carrying out his investigation in a sealed vacuum up to that time? It seems to be the only way he could have avoided finding out about Oswald's FPCC activities and other matters he complains were withheld by Helms. Why? Because all of that information was constantly in the media in the weeks prior to the date he claims he first became aware of it.

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John,

this part of Morley's article on Whitten jumps out:

Accounting for Oswald’s Cuba-related activities proved especially difficult, he testified. In early December 1963 Whitten was writing up what he had gleaned from CIA files, when he was invited to the White House for a look at the FBI’s preliminary report on Oswald. Reading the report, Whitten was shocked. The FBI had all sorts of information about Oswald that had never been given to him. Whitten went back to his office realizing that deputy director Dick Helms and counterintelligence chief James Angleton had been withholding “vital information” about the accused assassin from him.

“Could you give us some examples of that?” his interrogator asked.

Whitten remembered quite clearly.

“Yes,” he said. “Details of Oswald’s political activity in the United States, the pro-Cuban activity…” Later on he reiterated the point: “Oswald’s involvement with the pro-Castro movement in the United States was not at all surface[d] to us in the first weeks of the investigation,” he said.

The early Dec date mentioned was the 6th. Had he been carrying out his investigation in a sealed vacuum up to that time? It seems to be the only way he could have avoided finding out about Oswald's FPCC activities and other matters he complains were withheld by Helms. Why? Because all of that information was constantly in the media in the weeks prior to the date he claims he first became aware of it.

Greg:

A couple of points struck me about the Whitten "investigation" that might explain away the peculiar "sealed vacuum." I think the point of Whitten's task was a forensic audit of CIA's internal files; in part an effort to determine what CIA had actually known about Oswald prior to the event [with so many sequestered nooks and crannies outside the central files], and in part a pre-emptive CYA exercise in anticipation of some tough questions. Hence, media reports were superfluous to his task.

As Morley indicates - "In early December 1963 Whitten was writing up what he had gleaned from CIA files" - when Whitten was given the chance to contrast and compare those files with what FBI had on the purported assassin. What "shocked" Whitten was the massive disconnect between what FBI clearly knew about Oswald prior to the event, and what little had been disclosed about Oswald in the CIA files Whitten had been given by Helms and Angleton.

By specifying an example of what was withheld in the CIA files - Oswald's stateside support for the FPCC - Whitten seems to be saying that one of two things was true. Either CIA:

* had no knowledge of Oswald's correspondence with FPCC and his arrest in New Orleans,

* or had such details in its files but that these hadn't been provided to Whitten.

Either scenario would explain Whitten's "shock," since the first doesn't seem conceivable, and the second must have made Whitten question why he was given such a task, only to have those who tasked him keep him in the dark.

Given the peculiar anomalies about Oswald documents we now know existed within CIA's files, and how they were disseminated or sequestered [no mention of Mexico City contacts with Cubans, only the Soviets, until after the assassination; the disappearance of 30-plus documents from his 201 file, etc.], we know there was some strange hanky-panky going on with CIA files. Whitten realized this decades before we had the chance to come to this realization, and that was the cause of his "shock," as well as Whitten's removal from that task and his subsequent flatlined career arc.

Rather than make Whitten seem hopelessly inept, I think the above makes it clear that Whitten was among the first to realize that CIA was hiding something, even from the very CIA man charged with its internal investigation. Now, what did CIA have to hide that was so explosive it required Helms and Angleton to fudge the facts to the very man they had appointed to conduct the investigation?

Clearly, some within the Agency were trying to hide something [or things] from others within the Agency. What? And why?

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Greg:

A couple of points struck me about the Whitten "investigation" that might explain away the peculiar "sealed vacuum." I think the point of Whitten's task was a forensic audit of CIA's internal files; in part an effort to determine what CIA had actually known about Oswald prior to the event [with so many sequestered nooks and crannies outside the central files], and in part a pre-emptive CYA exercise in anticipation of some tough questions. Hence, media reports were superfluous to his task.

As Morley indicates - "In early December 1963 Whitten was writing up what he had gleaned from CIA files" - when Whitten was given the chance to contrast and compare those files with what FBI had on the purported assassin. What "shocked" Whitten was the massive disconnect between what FBI clearly knew about Oswald prior to the event, and what little had been disclosed about Oswald in the CIA files Whitten had been given by Helms and Angleton.

Robert, Morley may be right. But according to Gerald McKnight, the FBI deluged his branch with thousands of reports containing bits and fragments of witness testimony that required laborious and time-consuming name checks. He apparently later described this as "weirdo stuff". If true, he wasn't only looking at CIA files during the investifgation phase. On the basis of what he had, (again according to McKnight), he reported to Helms that Oswald had acted alone. It wasn't until he saw the FBI investigative report on Dec 6 that he alleges he became aware of certain data relating to Oswald. He further claimed that had he been provided with this data earlier, he would have looked very closely at those angles -- hinting at the possibility he may have come to a different finding.

By specifying an example of what was withheld in the CIA files - Oswald's stateside support for the FPCC - Whitten seems to be saying that one of two things was true. Either CIA:

* had no knowledge of Oswald's correspondence with FPCC and his arrest in New Orleans,

* or had such details in its files but that these hadn't been provided to Whitten.

Either scenario would explain Whitten's "shock," since the first doesn't seem conceivable, and the second must have made Whitten question why he was given such a task, only to have those who tasked him keep him in the dark.

Well, that's the crux of my problem with this. Whitten had a staff of 30. That's 31 people under a self-imposed media blackout between Nov 24 and Dec 6. It would only have taken one of those 31 to look at a newspaper or turn on a TV or radio during that period to know about Oswald's NO shenanigans. I just find that such a blackout is so remote as to be unworthy of consideration. In short, I believe he had to know about it before reading it in the FBI report on Dec 6 (hell, the rest of the world knew about before then) - and therefore (1) had the ammunition to confront Helms well before he said he did and (2) could have come to a finding other than the one he made. Claiming years later, he didn't know about the FPCC etc until Dec 6 sounds like CYA to me - regardless of whether or not Helms had witheld it.

Given the peculiar anomalies about Oswald documents we now know existed within CIA's files, and how they were disseminated or sequestered [no mention of Mexico City contacts with Cubans, only the Soviets, until after the assassination; the disappearance of 30-plus documents from his 201 file, etc.], we know there was some strange hanky-panky going on with CIA files. Whitten realized this decades before we had the chance to come to this realization, and that was the cause of his "shock," as well as Whitten's removal from that task and his subsequent flatlined career arc.

Rather than make Whitten seem hopelessly inept, I think the above makes it clear that Whitten was among the first to realize that CIA was hiding something, even from the very CIA man charged with its internal investigation. Now, what did CIA have to hide that was so explosive it required Helms and Angleton to fudge the facts to the very man they had appointed to conduct the investigation?

At this time, I see no reason to believe he was hopelessly inept. I'd like to read Whitten's HSCA testimony before I comment further.

Clearly, some within the Agency were trying to hide something [or things] from others within the Agency. What? And why?

Absotutely true. But I would include asking "who" in the agency was doing the hiding to your "what" and "why". "Who" may seem clear-cut to everyone else. To me, that verdict seems almost entirely based on possible self-serving statements.

Edited by Greg Parker
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  • 2 weeks later...

Richard Helms took John Whitten off the investigation of the JFK assassination and replaced him with James Jesus Angleton. However, this extract comes from MI5's Peter Wright's book Spycatcher (after a long court battle it was eventually published in 1987). It shows that Angleton was deeply involved in the plans to kill Castro. As it is now believed that the team employed to kill Castro were turned on JFK, this seems to be highly significant.

Harvey listened to my Cyprus experiences, he was struck by the parallel between the two problems: both small islands with a guerrilla force led by a charismatic leader. He was particularly struck by my view that without Grivas, EOKA would have collapsed.

"What would the Brits do in Cuba?" he asked.

I was a shade anxious about being drawn into the Cuban business. Hollis and I had discussed it before I came to Washington, and he made no secret of his view that the CIA were blundering in the Caribbean. It was a subject, he felt, to steer clear of if at all possible. I was worried that if I made suggestions to Angleton and Harvey, I would soon find them being quoted around Washington by the CIA as the considered British view of things. It would not take long for word of that to filter back to Leconfield House, so I made it clear to them that I was talking off the record.

I said that we would try to develop whatever assets we had down there-alternative political leaders, that kind of thing.

"We've done all that," said Harvey impatiently, "but they're all in Florida. Since the Bay of Pigs, we've lost virtually everything we had inside . . ."

Harvey began to fish to see if I knew whether we had anything in the area, in view of the British colonial presence in the Caribbean.

"I doubt it," I told him, "the word in London is steer clear of Cuba. Six might have something, but you'd have to check with them." "How would you handle Castro?" asked Angleton. "We'd isolate him, turn the people against him ..."

"Would you hit him?" interrupted Harvey.

I paused to fold my napkin. Waiters glided silently from table to table. I realized now why Harvey needed to know I could be trusted.

"We'd certainly have that capability," I replied, "but I doubt we would use it nowadays."

"Why not?"

"We're not in it anymore, Bill. We got out a couple of years ago, after Suez."

At the beginning of the Suez Crisis, M16 developed a plan, through the London Station, to assassinate Nasser using nerve gas. Eden initially gave his approval to the operation, but later rescinded it when he got agreement from the French and Israelis to engage in joint military action. When this course failed, and he was forced to withdraw, Eden reactivated the assassination option a second time. By this time virtually all MI6 assets in Egypt had been rounded up by Nasser, and a new operation, using renegade Egyptian officers, was drawn up, but it failed lamentably, principally because the cache of weapons which had been hidden on the outskirts of Cairo was found to be defective.

"Were you involved?" Harvey asked.

"Only peripherally," I answered truthfully, "on the technical side."

I explained that I was consulted about the plan by John Henry and Peter Dixon, the two M16 Technical Services officers from the London Station responsible for drawing it up. Dixon, Henry, and I all attended joint M15/MI6 meetings to discuss technical research for the intelligence services at Porton Down, the government's chemical and biological Weapons Research Establishment. The whole area of chemical research was an active field in the 1950s. I was cooperating with M16 in a joint program to investigate how far the hallucinatory drug lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) could be used in interrogations, and extensive trials took place at Porton. I even volunteered as guinea pig on one occasion. Both M15 and M16 also wanted to know a lot more about the advanced poisons then being developed at Porton, though for different reasons. I wanted the antidotes, in case the Russians used a poison on a defector in Britain, while M16 wanted to use the poisons for operations abroad.

Henry and Dixon both discussed with me the use of poisons against Nasser, and asked my advice. Nerve gas obviously presented the best possibility, since it was easily administered. They told me that the London Station had an agent in Egypt with limited access to one of Nasser's headquarters. Their plan was to place canisters of nerve gas inside the ventilation system, but I pointed out that this would require large quantities of the gas, and would result in massive loss of life among Nasser's staff. It was the usual M16 operation-hopelessly unrealistic and it did not remotely surprise me when Henry told me later that Eden had backed away from the operation. The chances of its remaining undeniable were even slimmer than they had been with Buster Crabbe.

Harvey and Angleton questioned me closely about every part of the Suez Operation.

"We're developing a new capability in the Company to handle these kinds of problems," explained Harvey, "and we're in the market for the requisite expertise."

Whenever Harvey became serious, his voice dropped to a low monotone, and his vocabulary lapsed into the kind of strangled bureaucratic syntax beloved of Washington officials. He explained ponderously that they needed deniable personnel, and improved technical facilities-in Harvey jargon, "delivery mechanisms." They were especially interested in the SAS. Harvey knew that the SAS operated up on the Soviet border in the 1950s tracking Russian rocket signals with mobile receivers before the satellites took over, and that they were under orders not to be caught, even if this meant fighting their way out of trouble.

"They don't freelance, Bill," I told him. "You could try to pick them up retired, but you'd have to see Six about that."

Harvey looked irritated, as if I were being deliberately unhelpful. "Have you thought of approaching Stephenson?" I asked. "A lot of the old-timers say he ran this kind of thing in New York during the war. Used some Italian, apparently, when there was no other way of sorting a German shipping spy. Probably the Mafia, for all I know ..."

Angleton scribbled in his notebook, and looked up impassively. "The French!" I said brightly. "Have you tried them? It's more their type of thing, you know, Algiers, and so on."

Another scribble in the notebook.

"What about technically - did you have any special equipment?" asked Harvey.

I told him that after the gas canisters plan fell through, M16 looked at some new weapons. On one occasion I went down to Porton to see a demonstration of a cigarette packet which had been modified by the Explosives Research and Development Establishment to fire a dart tipped with poison.

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