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James Powell's weird interview


Guest Mark Valenti
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Guest Mark Valenti

From James Powell’s testimony to investigator Timothy A. Wray, ARRB’s Chief Analyst for Military Records on April 12, 1996, here's what he learn:

Powell was told that shots were fired from the School Book Depository - but as a trained investigator, he failed to rush inside, or alert any law enforcement personnel as to this fact.

Instead he raced away from the TSBD and admittedly only later went inside the building to make a phone call.

He took photos of the most important locations in the entire scenario but stated that the FBI wasn't terribly interested in them.

He's not sure what car he drove, where he parked, where he went after he was released from detention.

He's not sure what happened to the contemporaneous notes he took immediately following the assassination.

The first time he called his office, he said nobody believed him that JFK was shot.

In my opinion, James Powell is either a wacky, wannabe junior-type loose cannon trying to interject himself into an investigation or he is a xxxx whose presence in Dealey Plaza was somehow connected to espionage.

James Powell enlisted in the Army in 1961, and was assigned to the 112th in 1962. His duties included “running security investigations for security clearances on both military and civilian personnel that worked, for instance, on missile bases or whatever.”

Powell also “had special training in photographic investigation. Follow suspected people that we were suspicious of doing something involved in the military against us. We were trained to be able to seek these people out, to photograph, to cover, to do surveillance on them.” He performed his duties in civilian clothes and used a plain government car. He was trained to use .38’s and rifles.

Regarding the events on November 22:

He asked for time off when he heard JFK was going to visit Dallas.

No one else in his office asked for time off to see JFK.

He did not go to the office on the morning of November 22nd.

Instead he drove directly to Love Field.

He took pictures there, just three or four photos as JFK and Jackie came off the plane.

He said he couldn’t get a good picture so drove downtown.

The motorcade route had been published so he knew where to go.

On where he parked his car:

“Trying to remember where I parked. If I’m not mistaken I parked in the regular parking lot where we parked our government cars, which was near the Rio Grande Building, and then walked a few short blocks away to where the motorcade was going to be coming down Elm Street. I stationed myself there waiting for the motorcade to come by.”

On whether he drove his own car that day:

Powell: “That’s a good question. I honestly can’t say. Probably was.”

On what happened after shots were fired:

“I knew that when I got to this intersection, there were people pointing up at the TSBD indicating that they had heard shots coming from there.“At least one pointed up at the building, and another standing near that person – I think this gentleman corroborated that. I crossed the street over to the TSBD and walked on down. There police officers, a few police officers there that had just been around the area, plus some – at least a couple – from the sheriff’s department that were there. Sheriffs. In group we kind of went to the parking area behind because there were, again, a lot of civilians standing around watching the motorcade coming down who’d said they thought they heard, that they thought they heard someone running through that area. So we all went together back there but didn’t’ see anything obvious, other than just this stampede. Nobody carrying a gun or anything like that. So I left the group and went back to the TSBD, it being the closest building that looked like it might have a phone in it, and went in there to call my office.”

On when he took his famous photo of the TSBD:

“When someone pointed up at the building and said they’d heard shots coming from up there, I wheeled around with my camera and took a picture of the building at that moment.”

On why he walked away from the TSBD:

Investigator Wray: “Someone heard someone running?”

Powell: “Yes that’s my recollection, that someone was running through there. But we all walked back through there and didn’t see anybody at that point, so whoever might have was long gone.”

Investigator Wray: “Did anyone say they heard shots from there?”

Powell: “No. Not really. It’s possible. It’s been a lot of years back. And I did not stay around at that…Reading and seeing what you hear now, there was that theory. But I have to say no right now.”

Investigator Wray: “Did you show your Special Agent ID to anyone?”

Powell: “I recall that I, basically recall that I did. Because the officers were curious as to why I was joining them and I just flashed my credentials to show them and that was sufficient at the time and I put them back. I had my camera and so forth. We all sort of walked together back to that area behind the building. But then I left them in place.”

On how he identified himself:

Powell: “Well, I’m Jim Powell and I’m with the, with the military intelligence corps. I’m a special agent with military intelligence. And show my credentials. It seemed like the logical thing to do at the time (laughs) It worked that time. It didn’t work the second time, but anyway – when I was coming out of the building, but that’s something else altogether.”

On going inside the TSBD:

“I went back to the TSBD and I went inside to use the phone to call my office and tell them what had happened. I went in there, made one phone call, came back out. There was a gentleman standing there who claims to have seen shots fired from a window above and I talked to him briefly. But then another policeman came up – he looked like a fairly high ranking policeman, he got out of a car, like a chief or whatever – and literally took the guy away from me. I told him I was interviewing him, showed him my credentials, but he had authority which superceded mine because this was his town. So he took the man before I even had a chance to get his name. I’d just talked to him briefly for just a couple of moments , so I didn’t get a lot of information out of him. After that I went back into the TSBD to call my office again, and when I came back down there were more police and sheriffs there with firearms, with shotguns, and they were detaining everybody that was in the building at that point. They were pretty well convinced that something had happened directly from that building and they wanted to make sure they got everybody who came out of there. So I showed them my credentials, and they kept, they took my credentials. They didn’t disbelieve me, but that was just their procedure. They took my credentials, they called my office and I’d say within a half hour or 45 minutes Wilson Page from my office came down and identified me and they let me go.”

On being detained:

“We all knew that the President had been shot and we didn’t know his status at that time, because we were cut off from anything – that this had happened, and he had been shot, and that’s what was being recounted all over the place but nobody had heard a radio or anything official. So until we all got home or with our friends, or whatever, or had access to a TV or radio, we didn’t know exactly what had happened.”

On what happened after Wilson Page came to pick him up:

“I’m pretty sure I went back to the office. I went to the office with him briefly because that was there that I did the report. I wanted to put that together while it was fresh in my mind. And I went home after that.”

On the reaction from those in the office:

“They were as surprised to hear it as I was to have, more or less, witnessed it. The first time I called them nobody, from the colonel on down, believed that it had really happened because ‘you must be kidding or something.’”

On being interviewed by the FBI:

“I don’t recall an interview by the FBI, strange as that may seem…I sent them the report and that was, yeah, pretty much it. Which is a little surprised, but I guess they’ve got a lot of…I wouldn’t call it an interview. I would say that I did the report, and I sat down, as I recall, with Colonel Frindell, possibly a couple of other people, and just sort of went over the report and let them know this was as much as I had seen. There’s nothing more to it than that. I don’t recall anybody taking any specific notes or carrying it, the situation, any farther than that.”

On whether the FBI asked him for his historic pictures:

“Yes. They, you know, it was like, you don’t have to rush to do it but if you want to send it in kind of thing, go ahead. I told them, of course, it didn’t show any individuals, it just showed the window. It showed the building, actually, pretty much in total. But they still seemed pleased to get anything they could at the time.”

On how long after the final shot he took his photo of the TSBD:

“I’d say less than five minutes. A few minutes. Because I was only a hundred feet or so away from that intersection and ran down there after I heard the shots. And someone pointed at the building and I wheeled around and took the picture, so it was a matter of moments.”

On interviewing witnesses:

“I started taking notes. Don’t ask me what happened to them. (laughs) At the moment, I don’t know. We didn’t get very far along. Didn’t even get the gentleman’s name. But he, you know, he sort of volunteered. I showed him my credentials and he started volunteering information that was, that he’d been standing right there to watch the motorcade, and he heard the shots – heard shots coming from above so he pointed up, not toward a specific window or anything, but just above him. And I started making notes of that, as I recall, and that’s about as far as we got. Really, just a couple of minutes, as I really didn’t have a chance to even get his name. Other than the fact that I knew he was a construction worker, he had a uniform on. And I did put that in my notes, what company he worked with, who he works for. So, the sheriffs took it from there. (laughs) And got a lot more information than I did. But I was trying to make a valiant effort to get something, which I would have turned over.”

When asked if members of the 112th investigated some weapons thefts from Fort Hood:

“I can’t honestly answer that. Again, I had no part in that, and I can’t speak for something that might have happened higher up. It’s possible, but I honestly don’t know, I can’t corroborate that one way or the other.”

On whether he recalled the name Jack Revill:

“This is interesting. I’ll be again very candid with you, I don’t recollect the name.”

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An important question is WHERE ARE ALL THE OTHER POWELL PHOTOS

AND WHAT DO THEY SHOW?

Jack

Jack, I have the utmost respect for your knowledge of circumstances surrounding the murder of President Kennedy. The insights you have shared over the years are appreciated by me, and so many others. You have made invaluable contributions to this case and I know you have inspired countless others.

I wish I could spend a couple of hours in Dealey Plaza with you, just listening to what you had to say about that day in November so long ago.

My thanks for what you've done.

You're a fine man, Jack. Merry Christmas to you and your family and may the New Year bring you good health, and much happiness and satisfaction.

Mike

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Thanks for the kind words, Mike...all to rare on this forum.

Jack

The activities of the 112th M.I.G. based in San Antonio, but whose membership included individuals who lived and/or resided in Dallas, are, in relation to the JFK Assassination, one of the most important aspects of the whole assassination. While the CIA had personnel in the area [at the very least AN opinion of several Forum members, i.e. E.H. Hunt, John Adrian O'Hare, Rip Robertson] the overall assessment of Army Intelligence is a few notches lower it seems on the interest barometer. A few facts to chew on; THE Powell photo, which shows the Westernmost window of the 6th Fl of the TSBD, in un-cropped versions under computerized photographic analysis shows 'movement' in the window, although there will be naysayers galore, no doubt [i would think they would get a very-strong counter-argument]

The second point is that, the HSCA's [half-hearted] attempt to determine with clarity, whether the 112th was officialy told to stand down or not, was met with the collective he-said...he-said syndrome, not unlike the same dynamic that presented itself when the FBI was being asked about the Oswald note. If you contrast the testimonies of agent Powell side by side with the head of the 112th MIG in San Antonio...Col Robert E Jones, it is my view that, they cannot get their collective story straight, but that is,.......just my opinion.

In the vein of radioman, shooter, spotter....and who was running the shooters and who was in the mode of not so innocent bystander, just watching the fireworks, my nod would go to Army Intelligence playing some role as bystander's.

The declaration on the part of the HSCA [to their discovery that Army Intelligence had 'routinely destroyed' their file on Lee Harvey Oswald] that they found said news "very troubling" makes for great sound bite journalism,because it coddles the mentality of those who so desperately want to believe that the US government wouldn't engage, un-officially or otherwise in a coup d'etat responsible for the forcible disposal of a US President.

43 years later, we have the "Dept. of Homeland Security," have had "Shock & Awe," and are collectively wondering what's next.

It is worth asking what kind of world would we have if a certain US President had been able to de-fang an agency of the US government that one former US President called an "American Gestapo," if freedom of speech as the phrase is commonly understood does not include the previously worded reflections, then this isn't the country I was born in, and it sure as hell isnt the one I want to die in.

Cheers

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The activities of the 112th M.I.G. based in San Antonio, but whose membership included individuals who lived and/or resided in Dallas, are, in relation to the JFK Assassination, one of the most important aspects of the whole assassination. While the CIA had personnel in the area...... the overall assessment of Army Intelligence is a few notches lower it seems on the interest barometer.

After reading Larry Hancock's Someone Would Have Talked and seeing numerous references to Army Intelligence, I thought the same thing.

At one time there was a thread about a "William Bishop," who told Dick Russell that "he'd first gotten involved with the CIA after his service in the Korean War, using a Military Intelligence Cover." According to Russell, Bishop was in Dealey Plaza on November 22. It seems likely to me that many US intel agencies were cross-infiltrated.

According to Russell, "it was customary for the Secret Service to receive protective assistance from elements of Military Intelligence on presidential trips," although why "Powell was in the vicinity at all was never ascertained by investigators." (This was written pre-AARB.)

Russell discusses the whole Harvey Lee Oswald and 605 Elsbeth information and concludes: "Thus the probability arises that (Jack) Revill, and therefore the Dallas police, obtained their first data on Oswald from Military Intelligence."

Russell adds:

"Nagell has offered a number of hints about a Pentagon role in the conspiracy. The CIA, as Nagell wrote to Arthur Greenstein, would have done well to check in with a certain 'right-wing clique in the Pentagon' concening Oswald. Nagell has also written: 'It is no secret in the intelligence community that this clique has been pressing for some time to have the DIA [Defense Intelligence Agency], the CIA's chief competitor, take over the black operations of the CIA.'

Thanks to Mark Valenti for this and the other threads he begins. Always interesting.

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I'd suggest that anyone considering this subject needs to look at all the pieces - for example Powell gave statements to the Secret Service, the FBI and eventually was interviewed by the ARRB. He also filed a report on the incident with his military supervisor. A close read of all these will answer the question as to all his photos and will also show that he was quite consistent in his remarks.

In addition the ARRB interviewed all the other members of the Dallas MIG unit they could locate as well as a senior office for the 112MIG (not Jones) and took testimony form Fletcher Prouty.

You can obtain all these records from NARA or you will find them and my anaysis on a CD available from JFK Lancer on the subject of the 112th....all also contains an great deal of background material that the ARRB collected on the 112th, its duties, tasks and organization structure.

Just to cut to the chase, I do find some very suspicious things associated with the 112th but they primarily have to do with Col Jones and his statements to the HSCA rather than Powell. I'd very much like to know who and why the HSCA selected Jones to testify as it was his testimony that essentially allowed them to cover up the issue of mysterious people with credentials in DP.

-- Merry Christmas everyone, Larry

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Russell discusses the whole Harvey Lee Oswald and 605 Elsbeth information and concludes: "Thus the probability arises that (Jack) Revill, and therefore the Dallas police, obtained their first data on Oswald from Military Intelligence."

Russell adds:

"Nagell has offered a number of hints about a Pentagon role in the conspiracy. The CIA, as Nagell wrote to Arthur Greenstein, would have done well to check in with a certain 'right-wing clique in the Pentagon' concening Oswald. Nagell has also written: 'It is no secret in the intelligence community that this clique has been pressing for some time to have the DIA [Defense Intelligence Agency], the CIA's chief competitor, take over the black operations of the CIA.'

I hope I don't sound like a broken record, repeating things over and over. However, a brief xxxxx of NARA holdings indicates an interest by the 112th MIG in odd little things like the CORE voter registration thicket into which one LHO wandered in the summer of '63. And, if we assume that LHO did after the assassination what was attributed to him by the WC - walk a half dozen blocks east to catch a westbound bus - we find LHO boarding that bus immediately outside the 112th MIG office in the Rio Grande building, the self-same building in which Mr. Powell was situated.

It's an admittedly scant basis upon which to posit that LHO was working for MI, but a review of his service record, his receipt of Russian language books and mags while in the service, his testing in Russian aptitude while a Marine, MI's subsequent knowledge of his purported alias [per the Robert Jones HSCA testimony], DPD's apparent knowledge of an Elsbeth address with no known means of obtaining same, when combined with MI's apparent interest in the CORE efforts when and where LHO appeared, and LHO's beeline for the 112th building in Dallas after the assassination, do tend to pique one's interest in this direction. That an "off-duty" Powell just happened along to photographically record the events at the time of Oswald's departure from the TSBD [and Powell's subsequent inability to recall for the HSCA anything beyond his name, rank and serial number] only heightens one's interest in this angle of things.

Edited by Robert Charles-Dunne
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Guest Mark Valenti
I'd suggest that anyone considering this subject needs to look at all the pieces - for example Powell gave statements to the Secret Service, the FBI and eventually was interviewed by the ARRB. He also filed a report on the incident with his military supervisor. A close read of all these will answer the question as to all his photos and will also show that he was quite consistent in his remarks.

Larry,

As I mentioned above, Powell's interview is strange -- his answers are cavalier and imprecise, his recollection seems sparse. So he either attached little importance to being an eye/earwitness to and recorder of one of the most shattering events of the 20th century, or he's lying about some/all of it. Is this macho swagger? Or an attempt to aw-shucks his way out of more intense scrutiny?

If he's not lying, then he might have been a Barney Fife type of wannabe, injecting himself in the action of the day.

If he is dissembling, his presence could indicate anything from mere surveillance to participation as a possible assassin of LHO.

His actions, based on his testimony, aren't sufficiently explained, in my opinion. The story he tells doesn't hold water.

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Mark, my only point is that you should judge his remarks to the ARRB....some 30 years after the fact....in context of his very early interviews with the Secret Service, the FBI and his internal remarks to his MI supervisor.

And its important to keep in mind that in 1963 his job was primarily doing background checks for military security clearances - that sort of investigation. You can also judge his remarks by the sort of language and descriptions used by his fellow MI personnel who were also interviewed by the ARRB.

I just don't think the one interview should be judged in isolation and wanted everyone to know the other material that

is available.

-- Larry

I'd suggest that anyone considering this subject needs to look at all the pieces - for example Powell gave statements to the Secret Service, the FBI and eventually was interviewed by the ARRB. He also filed a report on the incident with his military supervisor. A close read of all these will answer the question as to all his photos and will also show that he was quite consistent in his remarks.

Larry,

As I mentioned above, Powell's interview is strange -- his answers are cavalier and imprecise, his recollection seems sparse. So he either attached little importance to being an eye/earwitness to and recorder of one of the most shattering events of the 20th century, or he's lying about some/all of it. Is this macho swagger? Or an attempt to aw-shucks his way out of more intense scrutiny?

If he's not lying, then he might have been a Barney Fife type of wannabe, injecting himself in the action of the day.

If he is dissembling, his presence could indicate anything from mere surveillance to participation as a possible assassin of LHO.

His actions, based on his testimony, aren't sufficiently explained, in my opinion. The story he tells doesn't hold water.

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Robert,

The declaration on the part of the HSCA [to their discovery that Army Intelligence had 'routinely destroyed' their file on Lee Harvey Oswald] that they found said news "very troubling" makes for great sound bite journalism,because it coddles the mentality of those who so desperately want to believe that the US government wouldn't engage, un-officially or otherwise in a coup d'etat responsible for the forcible disposal of a US President.

You might want to view MI's interest in Lee Harvey Oswald in light of the Army Spy Scandal of 1970, and what they claimed to have done with the data collected on U.S. individuals.

This is a good article:

http://cmhpf.org/senator%20sam%20ervin.htm

Steve Thomas

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Robert,

The declaration on the part of the HSCA [to their discovery that Army Intelligence had 'routinely destroyed' their file on Lee Harvey Oswald] that they found said news "very troubling" makes for great sound bite journalism,because it coddles the mentality of those who so desperately want to believe that the US government wouldn't engage, un-officially or otherwise in a coup d'etat responsible for the forcible disposal of a US President.

You might want to view MI's interest in Lee Harvey Oswald in light of the Army Spy Scandal of 1970, and what they claimed to have done with the data collected on U.S. individuals.

This is a good article:

http://cmhpf.org/senator%20sam%20ervin.htm

Steve Thomas

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  • 3 years later...
Robert,
The declaration on the part of the HSCA [to their discovery that Army Intelligence had 'routinely destroyed' their file on Lee Harvey Oswald] that they found said news "very troubling" makes for great sound bite journalism,because it coddles the mentality of those who so desperately want to believe that the US government wouldn't engage, un-officially or otherwise in a coup d'etat responsible for the forcible disposal of a US President.

You might want to view MI's interest in Lee Harvey Oswald in light of the Army Spy Scandal of 1970, and what they claimed to have done with the data collected on U.S. individuals.

This is a good article:

http://cmhpf.org/senator%20sam%20ervin.htm

Steve Thomas

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