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Larry Hancock, Someone Would Have Talked (2nd edition)


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John, you are certainly correct on the source of information on Sforza's death. I have nothing further on it and

no separate corroboration.

On the other point, I see no particular reason to go to that length to protect him from the HSCA, actually if they

could not unearth Morales I doubt very much they could have located Sforza...and clearly the CIA was in no

mood to bring forth any of its covert officers for the HSCA. Frankly their real sin in my eyes was holding people

like Sforza, Morales and Jenkins back from the Church Committee since all three could have spoken to specifics

on Castro assassination attempts.

Which brings me to a general conclusion that the Agency was so busy protecting itself against disclosure of its

foreign assassination activities and its domestic activities sucha as CHAOS that it's very difficult to say that

it was giving a whole lot of thought to a JFK cover-up. Which I'm sure is something that occured to the actual

CIA personnel involved in the conspiracy; how better to cover-up a conspiracy than to embed it in within an Agency

that cannot under any circumstances allow any of its dirty laundry to be aired...and which has National Security as a final

and overriding arguement when its back is against a wall. We have yet to see a Judge override that arguement

have we?

-- Larry

Important point. Do you think that Allen Dulles would have been aware of the CIA involvement in the assassination? Was this his role on the Warren Commission?

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John, a very high level question that's virtually impossible to answer. Certainly there is no evidence of

Dulles being personally close to most of my tactical suspects, he was not of the same social strata/class as a

Morales for example and its difficult to see the two men ever "connecting". Certainly the "old boys" of the Agency

were of a different circle than people such as Morales, Phillips or Roselli. I would be much more likely to think

that Shackley would have suspected CIA personnel complicity than Dulles.

On the other hand I firmly suspect that if he had known he would have done whatever it took to protect the

agency including totally covering it up. There is little doubt in my mind that senior and career officers felt that

the Agency and its war against Communism and the KGB was far more important than any single life, including

that of a President. Helms lied under oath, Dulles would have done the same. But given Dulles sophistication,

he would be far more likely to use simple misdirection and disinformation.

Then again, there is that Dulles book project with E. Howard Hunt... Larry

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I wish we all knew the full truth of the conspiracy, however since we do not it seems strange to characterize my view of it with the term “tilt”. That implies that someone does know the exact truth and can measure the degree to which others are “tilting” their version of it. The book reflects my research, the sources I found most credible and my own conclusions. I have intentionally introduced certain chapters (including “End Game”) as theory and identified specific segments (including the analysis of Johnson’s actions) as speculation.

In 1963 Martino was demonstrably associating with and known to CIA officers and military operations staff including David Morales, Rip Robertson and Eugenio Martinez. He played a seminal role in instigating and participating in a risky Cuban penetration mission involving former ambassador William Pawley (the mission also had documented CIA support, not to mention Life magazine photo coverage). After the assassination he was extremely active in promoting the “Castro did it, Oswald was working for Castro” propaganda and aggressively promoted that story to the FBI (at the time only his family knew that was a total creation, shortly before his death he shared it with a business partner and a friend). Unlike Nagel, we have considerable specific information on Martino’s associates and CIA contacts; we also have family members that are living and willing to share first hand information about his activities before and after the assassination.

Nagell’s story had already been told in detail by Dick Russell and others. Martino’s full story had not been told before, indeed nobody had realized that Martino was closely connected to CIA officer David Morales, even mentioning Morales by his real name in his book about Martino’s Cuban imprisonment. More importantly, Martino identified himself as being involved in the conspiracy, described his rather minor role and made a series of very specific statements about the conspiracy – which can be tested. A good portion of the book is structured to explore and evaluate those statements. In contrast Nagel made no direct observations about the Dallas conspiracy. He did state that he had become aware of a general plan to kill JFK and blame it on Castro a full year earlier in Mexico, that he observed Cuban exiles impersonating Castro agents in contact with Oswald and tried to warn Oswald off from them. The plot known to Nagell involved something planned to happen in September in or around Washington D.C.; Nagell himself was first on the run from Cuban exiles and then in jail in the weeks before Dallas.

Martino himself described his participation in the conspiracy, his role as a courier and his prior knowledge of the conspiracy. A good deal of the book is devoted to testing his statements to that effect. I will acknowledge that there is ambiguity in my specific wording as to his telephone calls on November 22,, certainly his family was convinced that he was talking to Cuban friends, some in Miami and some most likely in Dallas. One of his good exile friends was admittedly in Dallas that day and Martino himself traveled to Dallas that fall. I will qualify this point in the next edition.

The specification for Oswald’s first involvement with Cuban exiles and some sort of plot is based in statements made by Richard Nagell and supported by Nagell’s claim to have warned Director Hoover about a September incident and about Oswald. The corroboration is a series, not just one, of letters by Oswald on the subject of his planned relocation to the Baltimore area. Further corroboration comes from the FBI’s very early interrogation of Marina on Oswald’s possible travel not only to Mexico but also to the Northeast.

Certainly Oswald did a lot of things in New Orleans. I do mention a number of them which seem relevant to his “use” in CIA propaganda efforts, ones well known to Guy Bannister and even the fact that Bannister’s agency had been evaluated as a front for CIA activities before the Bay of Pigs. In addition I present remarks by Oswald to a Cuban doctor at the hospital Jim mentions. I think all of that was quite key but I make no pretense of fully understanding everything that went on during Oswald’s time in New Orleans and focused on the elements that related to his contacts with Cubans, both pro- and anti- Castro Cubans. As to the exact timing of when Oswald’s manipulation began, that is not my speculation, rather it is specific information from Richard Nagell. My effort was to bring in information that would corroborate Nagell by investigation of exiles who would be possible matches for the types of people described by Nagell. Especially ones coming from Miami to New Orleans, as had Nagell himself.

I disagree with certain conclusions in “Ultimate Sacrifice”, something that I’ve discussed personally with Lamar. However, I do find new information in it – including the private statements by Harry Ruiz Williams about a backchannel approach to Cuban army commander Almeida ( an approach known only to Williams and the Kennedy brothers) credible and informative.. Clearly JFK and his brother were very much involved in looking for paths to trigger a coup against Castro – we have more than enough hard information to document that. And I see no reason to call Mr. Williams a xxxx, especially as the documented call for Williams from RFK on the afternoon of his- JFK’s- assassination suggests there was something very important going on between the Kennedy’s and Williams.

My source for the Ruby meeting with Roselli is not all “American Mafioso” nor is that book the source for the fact that Roselli confessed his involvement in a conspiracy against JFK to his lawyer (that comes from “Sons and Brothers” by a reputable Kennedy historian, Richard Mahoney). Obviously I try to pick and choose the information I consider consistent or reasonable but certainly”American Mafioso” contains a great deal of research which it would be unreasonable to totally disregard. To be specific, I view Roselli and various criminal elements, including Ruby, in a strictly support role – not as organizers or instigators but rather as advisors and accessories available because of Roselli’s connections to key CIA officers.

My reference to Phillips and Morales as “generals” was to the ultimate degree of influence and positions of the two individuals. At the time of his early self- retirement, Phillips next promotion in the agency would have to have had Congressional approval, as do generals. However, as of 1963, both individuals were indeed simply in very key positions. As I demonstrate in the book, both were also very independent and would engage in actions during their careers that went far beyond their apparent charters and orders – Phillips was specifically cited in that regard by the Church Committee.) I’ll concede this point though and change my wording on this in the next edition.

Actually it’s Roselli who described himself as a “strategist” and given his business dealings that seems fair. I certainly can visualize that he could have added a good deal of strategy to a criminal conspiracy where the key tactical people were experienced paramilitary. I do not see Roselli as the master conspirator nor the initiator - working from the bottom up with Martino’s information, I can only take it to a certain level and certain people.

From what we now know of his phone calls, contacts and activities immediately following the assassination (starting with the calls that night from Johnson’s aide to a variety of law enforcement people, including orders not to file any charge of conspiracy against Oswald) it seems to me that Johnson immediately began to suppress any suggestion of a conspiracy. His motive for doing that is debatable and I present two scenarios: ii) that Johnson was manipulated by events and i) that Johnson had some level of pre-knowledge and was a willing or at least partially willing participant.

For the second, speculative, scenario which does mention Fred Black, I use sources other than Baker’s book on the Baker scandal (certainly I would not consider him a reliable source on his own sins. More importantly, I discovered and present independent documentation of a possible connection between the Baker scandal, Fred Black and Johnson. That documentation is in the form of a Presidential Diary entry showing a meeting between Baker, Black, Johnson and a senior officer of the firm that was at the heart of the Baker influence pedaling scandal – the meeting occurred in Vice President Johnson’s office and there is no question that it connected Johnson to Black and presented the possibility of blackmail if the matter had been discussed with Black’s close personal friend, Johnny Roselli.

I present Johnson’s efforts to first simply accept the Hoover FBI report with no independent investigation at all. Then I describe his effort to convene a Texas Court of Inquiry which would certify the FBI report. Both those efforts occurred well before Johnson was forced into the concept of a Congressional committee and much of it is recorded in meetings and telephone calls in his own office diary. Johnson, in dialog with Hoover, was certainly responsible for the FBI’s marching orders but I will certainly revisit the wording in this area and see if I can improve it. My view is that Johnson was very heavily involved in ensuring that the “lone nut” view was presented to the American public and that the FBI “conclusion” of Oswald acting as the sole participant ended up as the official history of the murder.. It was inaccurate of me to suggest that he personally controlled all the elements of the investigation.

I present a number of incidents which implied that Oswald was either a paid agent of Castro or a political follower who was acting to somehow protect the Cuban revolution and Castro. As an example, the infamous Pedro Charles letters clearly suggest Oswald was following orders, had been in Cuba, that the Chief was well pleased and he would be rewarded when he made it back there. Hoover was initially very interested in that view and was for holding out for a possible Cuban involvement in the FBI report – that can be seen in FBI internal communications. Martino had tried the same pitch directly to the FBI immediately after the assassination. Later, in 1966, Roselli tried to float the story of Castro operatives and a hit team sent into the U.S. by Castro.

My remarks about the Dallas attack requiring local intelligence was in regard to details of the motorcade, police assignments, security plans – and possibly even the identification of police who could be used for certain minor tasks. That sort of intelligence could only come from someone with a broad exposure to the force, including experience with officers considered “dirty” or open to supplying information for money or favors. Obviously, Jack Ruby was a perfect fit for such tasks.

The fact that the extensive problems with the medical evidence remained obscure does not alter the fundamental problems with the official autopsy conclusions. Problems so severe that the Justice Department had to covertly prepare one of the autopsy doctors as a “backup” witness and hold him in readiness in New Orleans during the Garrison medical testimony. The point is that there are glaring problems which argue against a smoothly planned cover-up integrated with a well- oiled conspiracy. It’s also important to remember that in the face of gag orders, security oaths, burned notes and missing reports, individuals such as David Lifton and Harold Weisberg had been fighting through the quagmire for decades before the revealing work of the ARRB.

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  • 3 weeks later...
Guest John Gillespie

"There is little doubt in my mind that senior and career officers felt that

the Agency and its war against Communism and the KGB was far more important than any single life, including

that of a President."

________________________________________________________________________________

____________

Larry,

I wanted to read into that highlighted text a bit, but thought I would simply ask, after all. And by the way it's nice to correspond with an admired fellow of this Forum and elsewhere and who owns a deserved reputation.

When one reads that portion can one conclude it is also about the Agency's purported war against Communism and the KGB? Also, in your view were there two sets of books, so to speak, regarding mission and operation or regarding ostensible (not necessarily chartered) mission and de facto mission? Hope that's not too muddled.

Regards,

John G

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Hi John, thanks for the kind words.

As to the highlighted text, all my studies suggest to me that there were certain officers whose convictions and pure

hatred of anything they considered "Communist" that murder was certainly permitted, just as it would be in war - they certainly felt they were in a live, hot war - not a cold one. Morales is an example of such an officer. And these folks felt very strongly about "treason" as well.

You have to assume that if senior officers were willing to eliminate foreign leaders who they felt were merely Communist dupes or enablers, they would have felt equally as strongly against any US leader they suspected would put the country itself at risk. It's back to the equation that for these folks national security becomes a moral imperative.

On your "two sets of books" question. My best guess is that it was not nearly that structured.

Legal and sanctioned missions were "deniable" but documented. After all we do have files on ZRRIFLE which

was an executive action project. We might disagree with them but they were authorized.

Then there were two other categories of operation:

Vest Pocket - where a senior officer would merely give some rather vague directions, perform no documentation and then rely on subordinates to make it happen "off the book" - no project, no crypt, no documents. Well maybe a few documents but all in so called "soft files" sitting in an officers desk and not circulating throughout the system.

Rogue - I believe but cannot document that certain officers were more than willing to wage their own private

opearations, using untracable money and not agency resources (no vouchers, no documents). In these projects

they used non-agency resources and non-employees (not even contract folks) - and often implied that they

were real agency projects. I think we run into individuals who may well think they were working for the agency

on real projects when it most certainly was not.

Sorry for the long winded answer but that's the best insight I can offer, Larry

"There is little doubt in my mind that senior and career officers felt that

the Agency and its war against Communism and the KGB was far more important than any single life, including

that of a President."

________________________________________________________________________________

____________

Larry,

I wanted to read into that highlighted text a bit, but thought I would simply ask, after all. And by the way it's nice to correspond with an admired fellow of this Forum and elsewhere and who owns a deserved reputation.

When one reads that portion can one conclude it is also about the Agency's purported war against Communism and the KGB? Also, in your view were there two sets of books, so to speak, regarding mission and operation or regarding ostensible (not necessarily chartered) mission and de facto mission? Hope that's not too muddled.

Regards,

John G

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