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My overview of Howard Hunt’s new book


Douglas Caddy
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I purchased a copy of the book, American Spy: My Secret History in the CIA, Watergate and Beyond, at Barnes&Noble yesterday and am half-way through reading its 340 pages. This brief overview is of the first half. I hope to finish reading the second half in the next day or so.

Based on what I have read so far, I would say that the volume is most-worthwhile. Its contents bring new revelations about Hunt’s unusual life as well as reinforcing impressions of the man previously gained from the mass media. Members of the forum who are adamantly critical of Hunt will find that Watergate aside, he was a patriot who had an extremely fascinating career as an international spy, always intent on advancing America’s national interests.

There are some errors in the book. One that jumps out on page one is the author uses the name Howard Felt instead of Mark Felt in discussing Deep Throat. Hunt died in January, so he may not have had the opportunity to proof-read the book's galleys before publication.

Here are a few brief highlights gleaned from the book’s first half:

(1) Hunt in his early years was awarded simultaneously both a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Rhodes Scholarship. He chose the former.

(2) He joined the OSS under the sponsorship of Wild Bill Donovan, a family friend.

(3) After the ousting of Leftist Jacob Arbenz as president of Guatemala, “thousand of files were confiscated (but) no direct link between Arbenz and the Soviets ever emerged...Most important, the fallout resulted in a lasting legacy of anti-American bias throughout Latin America, most significantly in Cuba, Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela.” Furthermore, this led to “decades of iron-fisted military rule, under which one hundred thousand mostly impoverished Guatemalans died.”

(4) “So there are now three CIA agents who have been named in connection with Oswald – David Phillips, Cord Meyer and Bill Harvey – all with the means, motive, opportunity and some connection to kill Kennedy.”

(5) “If LBJ had anything to do with the [Kennedy assassination] operation, he would have used Bill Harvey, because he was available and corrupt.”

(6) Much of what Hunt worked on for a number of years for the CIA “was exposed in revelations about Operation Mockingbird...”

(7) Hunt was not an admirer of Angleton. “Some people have suggested that maybe Angleton was a double agent like Philby [who trained him], but I don’t think so.”

(8) LBJ ordered the CIA, who in turn ordered Hunt, to infiltrate the Goldwater campaign to gather information that could be used by LBJ against his opponent in the 1964 presidential campaign.

(9) Hunt incorrectly asserts that I was an employee of the Robert Mullen Company, handling the General Foods Corporation account. In fact, however, I was never an employee of the Mullen Company but instead of General Food Corporation, which had assigned me to work out of the Mullen Company. He writes that I “resigned [from the Mullen Company] to take up law (remember his name as it will come up later), whereupon Mullen announced that he was selling the company to Robert Bennett, son of the Republican senator from Utah.”

The second half of the book, which I shall briefly review soon, is devoted to chapters concerning activities leading up to Watergate, Watergate itself, and post-Watergate events.

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I purchased a copy of the book, American Spy: My Secret History in the CIA, Watergate and Beyond, at Barnes&Noble yesterday and am half-way through reading its 340 pages. This brief overview is of the first half. I hope to finish reading the second half in the next day or so.

Based on what I have read so far, I would say that the volume is most-worthwhile. Its contents bring new revelations about Hunt’s unusual life as well as reinforcing impressions of the man previously gained from the mass media. Members of the forum who are adamantly critical of Hunt will find that Watergate aside, he was a patriot who had an extremely fascinating career as an international spy, always intent on advancing America’s national interests.

There are some errors in the book. One that jumps out on page one is the author uses the name Howard Felt instead of Mark Felt in discussing Deep Throat. Hunt died in January, so he may not have had the opportunity to proof-read the book's galleys before publication.

Here are a few brief highlights gleaned from the book’s first half:

(1) Hunt in his early years was awarded simultaneously both a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Rhodes Scholarship. He chose the former.

(2) He joined the OSS under the sponsorship of Wild Bill Donovan, a family friend.

(3) After the ousting of Leftist Jacob Arbenz as president of Guatemala, “thousand of files were confiscated (but) no direct link between Arbenz and the Soviets ever emerged...Most important, the fallout resulted in a lasting legacy of anti-American bias throughout Latin America, most significantly in Cuba, Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela.” Furthermore, this led to “decades of iron-fisted military rule, under which one hundred thousand mostly impoverished Guatemalans died.”

(4) “So there are now three CIA agents who have been named in connection with Oswald – David Phillips, Cord Meyer and Bill Harvey – all with the means, motive, opportunity and some connection to kill Kennedy.”

(5) “If LBJ had anything to do with the [Kennedy assassination] operation, he would have used Bill Harvey, because he was available and corrupt.”

(6) Much of what Hunt worked on for a number of years for the CIA “was exposed in revelations about Operation Mockingbird...”

(7) Hunt was not an admirer of Angleton. “Some people have suggested that maybe Angleton was a double agent like Philby [who trained him], but I don’t think so.”

(8) LBJ ordered the CIA, who in turn ordered Hunt, to infiltrate the Goldwater campaign to gather information that could be used by LBJ against his opponent in the 1964 presidential campaign.

(9) Hunt incorrectly asserts that I was an employee of the Robert Mullen Company, handling the General Foods Corporation account. In fact, however, I was never an employee of the Mullen Company but instead of General Food Corporation, which had assigned me to work out of the Mullen Company. He writes that I “resigned [from the Mullen Company] to take up law (remember his name as it will come up later), whereupon Mullen announced that he was selling the company to Robert Bennett, son of the Republican senator from Utah.”

The second half of the book, which I shall briefly review soon, is devoted to chapters concerning activities leading up to Watergate, Watergate itself, and post-Watergate events.

All of Hunt's statements are necessarily self-serving. His veracity is doubtful.

Jack

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I purchased a copy of the book, American Spy: My Secret History in the CIA, Watergate and Beyond, at Barnes&Noble yesterday and am half-way through reading its 340 pages. This brief overview is of the first half. I hope to finish reading the second half in the next day or so.

Based on what I have read so far, I would say that the volume is most-worthwhile. Its contents bring new revelations about Hunt’s unusual life as well as reinforcing impressions of the man previously gained from the mass media. Members of the forum who are adamantly critical of Hunt will find that Watergate aside, he was a patriot who had an extremely fascinating career as an international spy, always intent on advancing America’s national interests.

There are some errors in the book. One that jumps out on page one is the author uses the name Howard Felt instead of Mark Felt in discussing Deep Throat. Hunt died in January, so he may not have had the opportunity to proof-read the book's galleys before publication.

Here are a few brief highlights gleaned from the book’s first half:

(1) Hunt in his early years was awarded simultaneously both a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Rhodes Scholarship. He chose the former.

(2) He joined the OSS under the sponsorship of Wild Bill Donovan, a family friend.

(3) After the ousting of Leftist Jacob Arbenz as president of Guatemala, “thousand of files were confiscated (but) no direct link between Arbenz and the Soviets ever emerged...Most important, the fallout resulted in a lasting legacy of anti-American bias throughout Latin America, most significantly in Cuba, Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela.” Furthermore, this led to “decades of iron-fisted military rule, under which one hundred thousand mostly impoverished Guatemalans died.”

(4) “So there are now three CIA agents who have been named in connection with Oswald – David Phillips, Cord Meyer and Bill Harvey – all with the means, motive, opportunity and some connection to kill Kennedy.”

(5) “If LBJ had anything to do with the [Kennedy assassination] operation, he would have used Bill Harvey, because he was available and corrupt.”

(6) Much of what Hunt worked on for a number of years for the CIA “was exposed in revelations about Operation Mockingbird...”

(7) Hunt was not an admirer of Angleton. “Some people have suggested that maybe Angleton was a double agent like Philby [who trained him], but I don’t think so.”

(8) LBJ ordered the CIA, who in turn ordered Hunt, to infiltrate the Goldwater campaign to gather information that could be used by LBJ against his opponent in the 1964 presidential campaign.

(9) Hunt incorrectly asserts that I was an employee of the Robert Mullen Company, handling the General Foods Corporation account. In fact, however, I was never an employee of the Mullen Company but instead of General Food Corporation, which had assigned me to work out of the Mullen Company. He writes that I “resigned [from the Mullen Company] to take up law (remember his name as it will come up later), whereupon Mullen announced that he was selling the company to Robert Bennett, son of the Republican senator from Utah.”

The second half of the book, which I shall briefly review soon, is devoted to chapters concerning activities leading up to Watergate, Watergate itself, and post-Watergate events.

All of Hunt's statements are necessarily self-serving. His veracity is doubtful.

Jack

Oh thank you for saying that Jack.

As I've often said, books by the professional murderers and liars in the CIA have no credibility. I don't see how they can have any value to researchers, or to truth buffs.

They might, however, be useful to gardeners with compost piles.

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As I've often said, books by the professional murderers and liars in the CIA have no credibility. I don't see how they can have any value to researchers, or to truth buffs.

They might, however, be useful to gardeners with compost piles.

Au contraire, Myra. Hunt was true blue CIA. He went to court to deny his involvement in the Kennedy assassination. For him to belatedly acknowledge that other CIA officers may have been involved, and for him to acknowledge that one of his and the agency's biggest "succcesses", Operation Success in Guatemala, was in the long run a disaster, is quite a confession. As a result, I suspect future historians will put quite a bit of weight on Hunt's final words.

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As I've often said, books by the professional murderers and liars in the CIA have no credibility. I don't see how they can have any value to researchers, or to truth buffs.

They might, however, be useful to gardeners with compost piles.

Au contraire, Myra. Hunt was true blue CIA. He went to court to deny his involvement in the Kennedy assassination. For him to belatedly acknowledge that other CIA officers may have been involved, and for him to acknowledge that one of his and the agency's biggest "succcesses", Operation Success in Guatemala, was in the long run a disaster, is quite a confession. As a result, I suspect future historians will put quite a bit of weight on Hunt's final words.

It seems to me Myra carefully worded her statement in terms of her perception of the book's value to researchers and/or truth buffs, not future historians. The terms are not always necessarily mutually inclusive, in my opinion.

Is the characterization of Operation Success as a "long run disaster" Howard Hunt's? Here is what he told Slate magazine in 2004:

Slate:
You started the CIA's first bureau in Mexico in 1949. Did you first start working on Guatemala from there?

Hunt:
In Mexico, I had a few agents from Washington with me, and I had recruited a few others … [including] a young Catholic priest. So the priest came to me one time, and he said, "I'm sending down several young men to Guatemala to get a view of the situation there. It's not good." He said, "My people were beaten up and put into jail, and then exiled from the country." And he sort of sat back expectantly. And I said, "That's certainly not right. I'll let Washington know what's going on in Guatemala." So I retold the story of Guatemala and the treatment of my young Catholic friend. I found that there was a lot of intense interest in what I had to say.

Slate:
We're talking about the time after 1952, the year Jacobo Arbenz was elected president of Guatemala.

Hunt:
He was in power then, yes. But his wife was by far the smarter of the two and sort of told him what to do. She was a convinced communist. … I waited for orders [from Washington]. A couple of [CIA and military] officers came down to join me, and it became apparent that there was going to be an effort to dislodge the communist management [laughs] of Guatemala. Which indeed happened. We set up shop and had some very bright guys working against Arbenz, and the long and short of it was that we got Arbenz defenestrated. Out the window. [Laughs]

Slate:
But President Arbenz ended up in exile—not really out the window?

Hunt:
Yeah. In Czechoslovakia. With his very bright and attractive wife.

Slate:
So it seems you were the architect for the Guatemalan operation?

Hunt:
It was mine because nobody else knew more than I did. I would say that I had more knowledge about it than anybody did. I knew all the players on both sides.

Slate:
How did you run the Guatemalan operation?

Hunt:
We set up the first Guatemalan operation/shop at Opa-Locka [airport in Miami, formerly an Army base]. There were three barracks, and we used the airstrip to fly in people from Guatemala and to send our people into Guatemala. These were known as "the black flights." They always occurred at night; they are a secret and officially do not exist as having happened.

Slate:
Do you think the Guatemala coup went well?

Hunt:
Yes—it did
. (Bold added) And I'm glad I kept Arbenz from being executed.

Slate:
How did you do that?

Hunt:
By passing the word out to the people at the airport who had Arbenz to "let him go."

Slate:
To whom did you give the word?

Hunt:
It was a mixed band of CIA and Guatemalans at the airport and their hatred for him was palpable.

Slate:
You were worried they would assassinate him right there?

Hunt:
Yeah. … And we'd [the CIA and the United States] get blamed for it.

Slate:
Some 200,000 civilians were killed in the civil war following the coup, which lasted for the next 40 years. Were all those deaths unforeseen?

Hunt:
Deaths? What deaths?

Slate:
Well, the civil war that ensued for the next 40 years after the coup.

Hunt:
Well, we should have done something we never do—we should have maintained a constant presence in Guatemala after getting rid of Arbenz.

Slate:
Did you ever actually meet Jacobo Arbenz?

Hunt:
They [he and his wife] were neighbors of mine—years later—on the same street in Montevideo, Uruguay.

Slate:
What were you doing there?

Hunt:
I was the CIA chief of station. They had come from [exile in] Czechoslovakia, and nobody in Washington had told me they were coming and so it was a big surprise to me, to my wife and me. We went to the country club for dinner one evening and lo and behold, the Arbenzes were seated a few tables away.

Slate:
What did you do?

Hunt:
Well, nothing. I sent a cable to Washington saying, "In the future when we have important arrivals, please let me know." It's the least they could do.

Future historians are more likely to rely on declassified CIA documents than the memoirs of Howard Hunt.

"After years of answering Freedom of Information Act requests with its standard "we can neither confirm nor deny that such records exist," the CIA has finally declassified some 1400 pages of over 100,000 estimated to be in its secret archives on the Guatemalan destabilization program."

http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB4/index.html

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I'm going to jump into this one with Jack and Myra - whatever his loyalties to individuals within the Agency, Hunt was

known as much for his ability to write fiction and make a buck on the side as his notoriously poor tradecraft and

security (from Miami to Spain).

Not many active Agency employees manage to make money on the side by promoting spy stories.

Given Hunt's history of money problems, poor health late in life and his well known practice of

"shopping" his name (after Watergate) along with purported secret knowledge about the Kennedy

assassination (telling more than one interviewerer what he knew was worth a million bucks) I would

tread very carefully in supposing this book was his effort to come clean with the world vs. a last effort

to market his name and make some money for his kids.

Not that he might not have heard some gossip, many did, but Hunt was a good fiction writer and I see

no reason why he could not come up with the names to throw into a book that a publisher

couldn't resist.

-- Larry

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a last effort to market his name and make some money for his kids.

Did he ever get his kids straightened out about where he was on 11/22/63? He testified that he had trouble convincing them that he wasn't in Dallas, when he had testified earlier that the kids were with him that day. I imagine this only confused the kids more than ever.

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a last effort to market his name and make some money for his kids.

Did he ever get his kids straightened out about where he was on 11/22/63? He testified that he had trouble convincing them that he wasn't in Dallas, when he had testified earlier that the kids were with him that day. I imagine this only confused the kids more than ever.

ego is a fascinating human fraility and I would suggest that it often drives people to admit things they would have denied in saner moments. Friends of mine who were contemporaries of Hunt at CIA have little good to say about him and one argues that Hunt was told disinformation because he often could not keep his mouth shut.

One said that he had no idea who killed Kennedy and admitted there were some folks inside the organization who were capable and probably willing to kill JFK, BUT Hunt would screw up a one car funeral on a one way street.

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Friends of mine who were contemporaries of Hunt at CIA have little good to say about him and one argues that Hunt was told disinformation because he often could not keep his mouth shut.

Interesting. I tend to believe that the short "tramp" arrested at Dealey Plaza was Gus Abrams as the FBI claims. However, I wonder if the conspirators arranged to have this "tramp" who looked like Hunt arrested, not just to muddy the waters but as a good joke on Hunt. (A joke extended by Angleton with his "memo" to Helms about Hunt being in Dallas.) All work and no play makes Morales a dull boy.

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An interesting article: http://www.tapsns.com/blog/?p=38

And an interesting comment to it from David Hunt, E.Howard Hunt's son: http://www.tapsns.com/blog/?p=38#comment-1272

Look for an article soon to be in the LA times that will piece a good portion of the JFKA together. EHH confided this information to his sons 4 years before his death. All information was verified by ERIC HAMBURG and a real book will be out with in a year. American Spy was ghost written and has no real value.

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a last effort to market his name and make some money for his kids.

Did he ever get his kids straightened out about where he was on 11/22/63? He testified that he had trouble convincing them that he wasn't in Dallas, when he had testified earlier that the kids were with him that day. I imagine this only confused the kids more than ever.

Ron

As you know, Mark Lane's PLAUSIBLE DENIAL tells the story in detail.

Hunt claimed to sue the newspaper because the suggestion he was part of the Kennedy

assassination was hurtful to his children, who saw him in Washington on 11/22/63.......

but when put on the stand the kids said he was gone all weekend, so he had no alibi.......

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As I've often said, books by the professional murderers and liars in the CIA have no credibility. I don't see how they can have any value to researchers, or to truth buffs.

They might, however, be useful to gardeners with compost piles.

Au contraire, Myra. Hunt was true blue CIA. He went to court to deny his involvement in the Kennedy assassination. For him to belatedly acknowledge that other CIA officers may have been involved, and for him to acknowledge that one of his and the agency's biggest "succcesses", Operation Success in Guatemala, was in the long run a disaster, is quite a confession. As a result, I suspect future historians will put quite a bit of weight on Hunt's final words.

The second half of Hunt's book, which deals with events immediately preceding the Watergate break-in, the scandal itself and its aftermath, provides little new information that is already not known.

There is ample evidence in the public record that Hunt attempted to persuade Liddy and McCord not to go back into the Democratic National Committee headquarters the final time. However, he lacked the will to back out of the operation on his own, apparently because he was enraptured with having direct access to the White House where he had his own office in the Executive Office Building.

He is scathing in his assessment of McCord, whom he blames for the debacle of the final break-in.

He is even more scathing of Thomas Gregory, a young GOP operative who had infiltrated the campaigns of several Democratic candidates for the presidency. Gregory had the common sense to sever his ties to Hunt and Liddy in the weeks preceding the final break-in. Hunt several times calls Gregory a “Gutless Wonder,” when in fact Gregory was merely a college student who got caught up in the mess because of family ties to Robert Bennett. Gregory today must be thanking his lucky stars that he had the intellectual fortitude to take the step of backing out when he did.

Hunt is also extremely critical of Nixon, whom he terms the conspirator in chief.

Hunt’s final chapter, which is concerned with post 9/11 events, finds him taking both sides of the issue of whether personal liberty in the U.S. should be sacrificed in Bush’s war against terrorism.

Some final observations:

The book is co-authored by Greg Aunapu, whose skillful writing is evident. However, based on my own personal knowledge, much of the book is vintage Hunt, who in his final years of ill health undoubtedly needed Aunapu’s assistance.

As to David Hunt’s cryptic hint in a forum member’s posting about a forthcoming book on the Kennedy assassination in an exploitive vein akin to “Daddy Dearest,” it should be noted that Hunt on a number of occasions remarks on how Watergate drastically affected his family members. He writes in his introduction that “It isn’t going to be easy to relive my life by writing this book. As a result of Watergate, my wife was killed in a plane crash, during a flight she would never have been on if the failed Watergate operation had been aborted as I had requested a number of times. My children were left almost as orphans for three years while I was on my ‘government sponsored vacation,’ doing hard labor along with murderers. My two oldest daughters blame me for the catastrophe of their lives, while my two older sons had difficulties before straightening out their lives in recent years.” David Hunt, during his father’s incarceration, in fact was raised in the Miami family of Manual Artime, a Cuban-American who was a long-time friend of Hunt.

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a last effort to market his name and make some money for his kids.

Did he ever get his kids straightened out about where he was on 11/22/63? He testified that he had trouble convincing them that he wasn't in Dallas, when he had testified earlier that the kids were with him that day. I imagine this only confused the kids more than ever.

Ron

As you know, Mark Lane's PLAUSIBLE DENIAL tells the story in detail.

Hunt claimed to sue the newspaper because the suggestion he was part of the Kennedy

assassination was hurtful to his children, who saw him in Washington on 11/22/63.......

but when put on the stand the kids said he was gone all weekend, so he had no alibi.......

I don't believe that Lane ever put Hunt's kids on the stand.

What won the case for Lane is that Hunt's defense was entirely based on Hunt's whereabouts on Nov 22, '63.

They managed to get some BS "alibi" from other CIA spooks that they saw him in DC that day, not in Dallas.

So Lane brilliantly decided to focus on proving Hunt was in Dallas the night of Nov 21.

He got a deposition from CIA asset Marita Lorenz placing Hunt (and Sturgis) in Dallas, handing out money or weapons or both to various thugs at some motel hours before the murder.

The jury found that there was sufficient proof that Hunt was in Dallas on Nov 21, '63. Therefore, the CIA was involved in President Kennedy's murder. We don't hear much about that in the media do we?

The jury forewoman Leslie Armstrong stated to reporters:

"Mr. Lane was asking us to do something very difficult. He was asking us to believe that John Kennedy had been killed by our own government. Yet when we examined the evidence closely, we were compelled to conclude that the CIA had indeed killed President Kennedy."

http://www.skepticfiles.org/socialis/jfklane.htm

(Oh, and I don't believe Hunt ever got his own kids to believe his lie about his Nov 22 whereabouts. I think it remained a big issue between them.)

Edited by Myra Bronstein
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but when put on the stand the kids said he was gone all weekend, so he had no alibi.......

I don't think his kids took the stand, at least not in the case Lane handled. And I've seen no public comments from the kids about his whereabouts. Even the Rockefeller Commission couldn't find out where Hunt was. Did it ask the kids?

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