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Watergate plotter may have a last tale

Two of E. Howard Hunt's sons say he knew of rogue CIA agents' plan to kill President Kennedy in 1963.

Los Angeles Times

By Carol J. Williams

Times Staff Writer

March 20, 2007

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/na...=la-home-nation

EUREKA, CALIF. — Howard St. John Hunt remembers the night of the Watergate break-in as a bonding experience with his father.

A sweating and disheveled E. Howard Hunt roused his 19-year-old son from a dead sleep to help him wipe fingerprints from the burglars' radios and pack the surveillance equipment into a suitcase. Then, father and son raced to a remote Maryland bridge, where they heaved the evidence into the Potomac River just before dawn on June 17, 1972.

"From that point on I felt relevant in his life, that I was the one he could count on," said Howard St. John Hunt, now 52, who is called St. John.

It also was a turning point for St. John's brother and two sisters. They learned that their father wasn't just a Washington advertising executive and former diplomat. He was an ex-CIA agent and veteran of the ill-fated Cuban Bay of Pigs operation who worked for the Nixon White House as part of a secret team of "plumbers" that fixed information leaks.

The unmasking of Hunt, who was convicted in 1973, sent his family into a tailspin: His first wife, Dorothy, was killed in a plane crash in 1972 while carrying $10,000 in hush money from the White House to the burglars' families; son David was sent to live with his militant Cuban godfather in Miami; St. John later became a drug addict and daughters Kevan and Lisa became estranged from their father.

But before his death at age 88 in January, E. Howard Hunt had reconciled with his children and left the sons one last tantalizing story, they say. The story, which he planned to detail in a memoir and could be worth big money — was that rogue CIA agents plotted to kill President Kennedy in 1963, and that they approached Hunt to join the plot but he declined.

Unfortunately, when the old spy's memoir appeared this month, there was something missing.

*

Before Watergate

Before the break-in at Democratic Party headquarters in the Watergate office complex, the Hunt family of Potomac, Md., was, to outward appearances, fairly typical for a beltway power player. Their father was in advertising; the mother worked at the Spanish embassy; and the four children, ages 8 to 23, attended private schools.

Watergate was a bomb that detonated under the family.

"Our life as we knew it came to an explosive end," recalls daughter Kevan Hunt Spence, now 54, of Pioneer, 50 miles east of Sacramento. "Our home was lost. Our financial security was lost. Our mother was dead. Our father was in prison.''

Kevan, who was 20 at the time, and her sister Lisa, then 23, distanced themselves from a father they blamed for their mother's death and took refuge with friends, away from the besieged family home.

Kevan played her own role in the Watergate fallout. Instead of burning records of White House payoffs as her father had asked, she hid them in her Smith College dorm room for a nearly a year, when her father's lawyer needed them to prove White House complicity to get her father a reduced sentence.

David, the youngest of Hunt's children with Dorothy and 8 at the time of the break-in, was effectively orphaned when Hunt went to prison in 1973. At his father's request, lifelong friend William F. Buckley Jr. spirited David from the house to get him away from Lisa and St. John, who, Hunt notes in a posthumous memoir, were furious with their father.

David left his privileged life to spend three years at the crowded Miami home of his Cuban exile godfather. A Bay of Pigs veteran and anti-communist militant, Manuel Artime would take David on gun-running missions to Central America, letting the boy fire pistols with the bodyguards of right-wing dictators the exile visited.

Hunt's daughters headed west to create new lives. Kevan came to California, where she has practiced law for 25 years. Lisa became a fundamentalist Christian and runs an insurance firm in Las Vegas.

St. John was estranged from his father from the late 1970s to the start of this decade.

He was convicted twice on felony drug charges in the Bay Area but served no prison time. When he became homeless, he renounced his drug habit, renewed ties with his father and siblings and moved to this Pacific Coast timber and fishing town. He now works assisting elderly patients in their homes and is a student at College of the Redwoods.

David, now 43, also abused drugs after his mother's death and the years he spent in the violent milieu of Cuban exile politics. He now sells Jacuzzis at a West L.A. spa shop.

The sisters remain estranged from the brothers but all were on good terms with Hunt and his widow Laura and their children, Austin and Hollis, when the veteran CIA operative and spy novelist died.

Hunt had been preparing for publication of "American Spy: My Secret History in the CIA, Watergate and Beyond," released this month.

St. John says it was he who suggested the idea of a memoir when he convinced his father that it was time to reveal anything he knew about the Kennedy assassination.

It had always been suspected that Hunt shared his Cuban exile friends' hatred of Kennedy, who refused to provide air cover to rescue the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion that Hunt helped organize.

"He told me in no uncertain terms about a plot originating in Miami, to take place in Miami," said St. John. He said his father identified key players and speculated that then-Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson was responsible for moving the venue to Dallas, where the Texan could control the security scene.

But the memoir's published passages about the assassination have an equivocal tone. Hunt provides only a hypothetical scenario of how events in Dallas might have unfolded, with Johnson atop a pyramid of rogue CIA plotters.

The brothers insist their father related to them a detailed plot to assassinate Kennedy. Hunt told them he was approached by the conspirators to join them but declined, they say.

That information was cut from the memoir, the brothers say, because Hunt's attorney warned he could face perjury charges if he recanted sworn testimony. Hunt also had assured Laura before they married in 1977 that he had nothing to do with the assassination.

St. John said he respected his father's wishes while he was alive but felt no obligation now. He is writing a script about his father, and David is shopping for a publisher for their father's account of CIA involvement in the Kennedy shooting.

Despite the brothers' efforts, their father's role will probably never be known.

The materials they offer to substantiate their story, examined by the Los Angeles Times, are inconclusive.

Hunt answers questions on a videotape using speculative phrases, observing that various named figures were "possibly" involved. A chart Hunt sketched during one conversation with St. John shows the same rogue CIA operation he describes in the memoir. None of the accounts provides evidence to convincingly validate that their father disclosed anything revelatory.

Hunt's widow and her two children, 27-year-old Austin and 23-year-old Hollis, dismiss the brothers' story, saying it is the result of coaching an old man whose lucidity waxed and waned in his final months.

Kevan bitterly accuses her brothers of "elder abuse," saying they pressured their father for dramatic scenarios for their own financial gain. Hunt's longtime lawyer, Bill Snyder, says: "Howard was just speculating. He had no hard evidence."

St. John, who sports a mustache and longish graying coif combed back from a receding hairline, has a more personal reason to believe in his father's disclosures. He said he was instructed by Hunt in 1974 to back up an alibi for his whereabouts on the day Kennedy died, 11 years earlier.

"I did a lot of lying for my father in those days," St. John said.

The brothers, who both possess Hunt's piercing pale-blue eyes, concede they would like to profit from their father's story but insist he meant them to.

"My father died utterly unapologetic about anything he did," David said.

"People do that kind of thing all the time," St. John said of the prospect of making money from his father's deeds. Nor does he think the story will reflect badly on their father. "I don't think it was terrible that he was approached [with the assassination plot] and turned them down."

That Hunt, a skilled obfuscator, might have left contradictory accounts of the Kennedy plot to protect friends and preserve the mystery is not lost on his sons.

"That's the way spies are," David says with a wry smile, remembering a father he never really knew.

"They lead double lives and maintain cover."

carol.williams@latimes.com

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He said he was instructed by Hunt in 1974 to back up an alibi for his whereabouts on the day Kennedy died, 11 years earlier.

"I did a lot of lying for my father in those days," St. John said.

If Hunt turned down the offer to participate in the assassination, one wonders why he had to have his son lie about where he was on 11/22/63.

Just the usual old spook stuff, I guess. Lie about anything and everything.

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He said he was instructed by Hunt in 1974 to back up an alibi for his whereabouts on the day Kennedy died, 11 years earlier.

"I did a lot of lying for my father in those days," St. John said.

If Hunt turned down the offer to participate in the assassination, one wonders why he had to have his son lie about where he was on 11/22/63.

Just the usual old spook stuff, I guess. Lie about anything and everything.

I will be the first to mention that it is just my opinion, but after hotly skimming over the pages of American Spy in my local bookstore last week (and NOT buying it) this post I would venture to say, is more interesting than anything that is written in what was Hunt last word on the subject. Although the book is ostensibly valuable in getting some type of perspective of Hunt's life overall, I felt his account of his wife Dorothy's death had a "sanitized" quality to it, but again, everyone has their opinions......I wish Sherman Skolnick had lived to see the book, he would undoubtedly have had some interesting observations to make.....

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He said he was instructed by Hunt in 1974 to back up an alibi for his whereabouts on the day Kennedy died, 11 years earlier.

"I did a lot of lying for my father in those days," St. John said.

If Hunt turned down the offer to participate in the assassination, one wonders why he had to have his son lie about where he was on 11/22/63.

Just the usual old spook stuff, I guess. Lie about anything and everything.

I will be the first to mention that it is just my opinion, but after hotly skimming over the pages of American Spy in my local bookstore last week (and NOT buying it) this post I would venture to say, is more interesting than anything that is written in what was Hunt last word on the subject. Although the book is ostensibly valuable in getting some type of perspective of Hunt's life overall, I felt his account of his wife Dorothy's death had a "sanitized" quality to it, but again, everyone has their opinions......I wish Sherman Skolnick had lived to see the book, he would undoubtedly have had some interesting observations to make.....

I finally got my copy of American Spy yesterday, along with Stockton's book on William Harvey. I just bought them for background. It turns out that both books have entire chapters on the Kennedy assassination. This is a huge step forward for the conspiracy community, in my opinion. Both Stockton (a former CIA man himself) and Hunt take the possibility of CIA involvement seriously, and discuss it rationally. And, while neither embraces this possibility as a probability, neither of them dismisses it as ludicrous either. Hunt, for his part, is dismissive that Oswald acted alone. Surprisingly, he is also dismissive of Castro's involvement.

I think it says a lot that ex-CIA men like Stockton and Hunt, towards the ends of their lives, were willing to concede the possibility that Oswald did not act alone in killing Kennedy (if at all) and that their fellow CIA agents could have been in on the hit. But will anyone in the media notice? Or are they saving their limited attention span for Bugliosi's upcoming case-closer?

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I finally got my copy of American Spy yesterday, along with Stockton's book on William Harvey. I just bought them for background. It turns out that both books have entire chapters on the Kennedy assassination. This is a huge step forward for the conspiracy community, in my opinion. Both Stockton (a former CIA man himself) and Hunt take the possibility of CIA involvement seriously, and discuss it rationally. And, while neither embraces this possibility as a probability, neither of them dismisses it as ludicrous either. Hunt, for his part, is dismissive that Oswald acted alone. Surprisingly, he is also dismissive of Castro's involvement.

I think it says a lot that ex-CIA men like Stockton and Hunt, towards the ends of their lives, were willing to concede the possibility that Oswald did not act alone in killing Kennedy (if at all) and that their fellow CIA agents could have been in on the hit. But will anyone in the media notice? Or are they saving their limited attention span for Bugliosi's upcoming case-closer?

I agree. I have only read one chapter so far (the one on the assassination of JFK). Hunt completely rejects the lone gunman theory and argues that William Harvey and David Morales were both capable of organizing the assassination of JFK. I suspect that Hunt's son is right, he does know who organized the assassination.

Rolling Stone will be publishing an article about David Morales this Friday (they have contacted me about Morales). With David Talbot's book about to be published, I think we might be getting into a new media interest into the assassination.

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Watergate plotter may have a last tale

Two of E. Howard Hunt's sons say he knew of rogue CIA agents' plan to kill President Kennedy in 1963.

Los Angeles Times

By Carol J. Williams

Times Staff Writer

March 20, 2007

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/na...=la-home-nation

David, the youngest of Hunt's children with Dorothy and 8 at the time of the break-in, was effectively orphaned when Hunt went to prison in 1973. At his father's request, lifelong friend William F. Buckley Jr. spirited David from the house to get him away from Lisa and St. John, who, Hunt notes in a posthumous memoir, were furious with their father.

David left his privileged life to spend three years at the crowded Miami home of his Cuban exile godfather. A Bay of Pigs veteran and anti-communist militant, Manuel Artime would take David on gun-running missions to Central America, letting the boy fire pistols with the bodyguards of right-wing dictators the exile visited.

I don't believe this was at E.Howard Hunt's request. Buckley knew that Hunt was aware that Artime was involved in the JFK assassination. Giving David to Artime was a means of keeping Hunt from saying what he knew about the assassination. David was a hostage.

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Watergate plotter may have a last tale

Two of E. Howard Hunt's sons say he knew of rogue CIA agents' plan to kill President Kennedy in 1963.

Los Angeles Times

By Carol J. Williams

Times Staff Writer

March 20, 2007

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/na...=la-home-nation

David, the youngest of Hunt's children with Dorothy and 8 at the time of the break-in, was effectively orphaned when Hunt went to prison in 1973. At his father's request, lifelong friend William F. Buckley Jr. spirited David from the house to get him away from Lisa and St. John, who, Hunt notes in a posthumous memoir, were furious with their father.

David left his privileged life to spend three years at the crowded Miami home of his Cuban exile godfather. A Bay of Pigs veteran and anti-communist militant, Manuel Artime would take David on gun-running missions to Central America, letting the boy fire pistols with the bodyguards of right-wing dictators the exile visited.

I don't believe this was at E.Howard Hunt's request. Buckley knew that Hunt was aware that Artime was involved in the JFK assassination. Giving David to Artime was a means of keeping Hunt from saying what he knew about the assassination. David was a hostage.

_________________________________

John,

I think that your theory on this is very plausible!

--Thomas

_________________________________

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I finally got my copy of American Spy yesterday, along with Stockton's book on William Harvey. I just bought them for background. It turns out that both books have entire chapters on the Kennedy assassination. This is a huge step forward for the conspiracy community, in my opinion. Both Stockton (a former CIA man himself) and Hunt take the possibility of CIA involvement seriously, and discuss it rationally. And, while neither embraces this possibility as a probability, neither of them dismisses it as ludicrous either. Hunt, for his part, is dismissive that Oswald acted alone. Surprisingly, he is also dismissive of Castro's involvement.

I think it says a lot that ex-CIA men like Stockton and Hunt, towards the ends of their lives, were willing to concede the possibility that Oswald did not act alone in killing Kennedy (if at all) and that their fellow CIA agents could have been in on the hit. But will anyone in the media notice? Or are they saving their limited attention span for Bugliosi's upcoming case-closer?

I agree. I have only read one chapter so far (the one on the assassination of JFK). Hunt completely rejects the lone gunman theory and argues that William Harvey and David Morales were both capable of organizing the assassination of JFK. I suspect that Hunt's son is right, he does know who organized the assassination.

Rolling Stone will be publishing an article about David Morales this Friday (they have contacted me about Morales). With David Talbot's book about to be published, I think we might be getting into a new media interest into the assassination.

I too just got American Spy, and read the Mexico City and JFK Assassination Chapters. Together, with Flawed Patriot, Zenith Secret and the Cuban G2 Executive Action, give a in interesting portrait of the covert operations that became entwined with what happened at Dealey Plaza.

Books by Talbot, Doug Horne and even the Bug's book should shed further light on the situation, indicating we are indeed in another period of onion pealing.

As for the recent opinions of Hunt's son St. John in the newspapers and RS, I think William Buckley's Foreward to American Spy is telling: "Howard Hunt now has a new family, who loves and dote on him. I can say of his two oldest daughters that they are exemplary human beings and citizens and represent the best of their two parents."

Are we to read into what's not said that his sons are less than exemplar human beings and represent the worst of their parents?

BK

Edited by William Kelly
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I finally got my copy of American Spy yesterday, along with Stockton's book on William Harvey. I just bought them for background. It turns out that both books have entire chapters on the Kennedy assassination. This is a huge step forward for the conspiracy community, in my opinion. Both Stockton (a former CIA man himself) and Hunt take the possibility of CIA involvement seriously, and discuss it rationally. And, while neither embraces this possibility as a probability, neither of them dismisses it as ludicrous either. Hunt, for his part, is dismissive that Oswald acted alone. Surprisingly, he is also dismissive of Castro's involvement.

I think it says a lot that ex-CIA men like Stockton and Hunt, towards the ends of their lives, were willing to concede the possibility that Oswald did not act alone in killing Kennedy (if at all) and that their fellow CIA agents could have been in on the hit. But will anyone in the media notice? Or are they saving their limited attention span for Bugliosi's upcoming case-closer?

I agree. I have only read one chapter so far (the one on the assassination of JFK). Hunt completely rejects the lone gunman theory and argues that William Harvey and David Morales were both capable of organizing the assassination of JFK. I suspect that Hunt's son is right, he does know who organized the assassination.

Rolling Stone will be publishing an article about David Morales this Friday (they have contacted me about Morales). With David Talbot's book about to be published, I think we might be getting into a new media interest into the assassination.

I too just got American Spy, and read the Mexico City and JFK Assassination Chapters. Together, with Flawed Patriot, Zenith Secret and the Cuban G2 Executive Action, give a in interesting portrait of the covert operations that became entwined with what happened at Dealey Plaza.

Books by Talbot, Doug Horne and even the Bug's book should shed further light on the situation, indicating we are indeed in another period of onion pealing.

As for the recent opinions of Hunt's son St. John in the newspapers and RS, I think William Buckley's Foreward to American Spy is telling: "Howard Hunt now has a new family, who loves and dote on him. I can say of his two oldest daughters that they are exemplary human beings and citizens and represent the best of their two parents."

Are we to read into what's not said that his sons are less than exemplar human beings and represent the worst of their parents?

BK

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The following are from two separate sessions/interviews with Gaeton Fonzi.

[Note: Obviously these are rather old interviews, and I cannot confirm that information developed since then may or may not have changed the perceptions of Fonzi accordingly, still they provide an interesting addendum of sorts to the revelations contained in the Rolling Stone interview with Saint John.]

The first concerns E Howard Hunt and significant others and is from a 1980 issue of the Washingtonian.

........One of the factors that led the Central Intelligence Agency to believe it could topple Castro was the success it had enjoyed in Guatemala in 1954. Using a force of only 150 exiles and a handful of World War II P-47 fighters flow by American contract pilots, the CIA brought down the Communist-leaning Guatemalan government in less than a week, firing hardly a shot, and installed the Agency's hand-picked leader, Castillo Armas. When covert operations boss Richard Bissell was selecting Agency personnel to run the Bay of Pigs scheme, he told them that the plan was based on "the Guatemala scenario."

Because of the success of that scenario, Bissell picked veterans of it for the key slots in the Cuban operation. For instance, appointed the Agency's political liaison chief to the multitude of Cuban exile groups in Miami was a dapper, pipe-smoking Ivy Leaguer (Brown, '40) and prolific author of spy thrillers named E. Howard Hunt. Among Agency personnel, Hunt had -- and still does have -- a curious reputation. To some he is the caricature of the Hollywood spy -- indeed, Hunt did serve a stint as a Hollywood script writer -- given to overplaying the cloak and dagger role. One of the more earnest of the Agency professionals liked to say that Hunt was consistent in his judgment: "always wrong." Yet down through the years and right up through the Watergate fiasco, Hunt was inevitable chosen to be on the front lines of dirty trick operations,. Despite the fact there appeared to be so many ostensible failures among those operations, Hunts star continually rose. He also remained strangely close to the one man whose markedly unflamboyant character seemed in such contrast to his, the one deemed the shrewdest and most coldly professional of all Agency bosses: Richard Helms.

It didn't take long for E. Howard Hunt to inject himself into the labyrinthine world of Cuban exile politics in Miami. With his faithful sidekick, Bernard Barker, Hunt set up a series of 'safe" houses for Clandestine meetings, moved through the shadows of Little Havana and doled out packets of money from dark doorways. (Hunt carried as much as $115,000 in his briefcase.) Although Hunt attempted to keep 2 separate identity ("Just call me 'Eduardo,'" he told the Cubans) and the source of the funds a mystery, the exiles soon began referring to their benefactors as "Uncle Sam."

It was Hunt's job to form the Frente, the coalition of Cuban exile groups which would serve as the political umbrella for the military army of the invasion. It was early apparent, however, that Hunt's own conservative right-wing political view colored his handling of the exile groups and he and Barker, wheeling and dealing among the politicians, started as many squabbles as they mediated. In fact, immediately before the actual invasion, Hunt was removed -- he says he quit -- as the Agency's political liaison because he wouldn't go along with including in the exile coalition a group headed by a democratic socialist named Manolo Ray. Fidelisimo sin Fidel, Hunt said, and called him a Communist. Ray's name would also later pop up in the Kennedy assassination investigation.

Hunt's principal contribution to the Bay of Pigs invasion was his selection of the military brigade's political leader, a fiery physician-tuned-politician named Manuel Artime. Flamboyant had effective, Artime helped stop a political insurrection at the exile training camp. Years later, he would become wealthy as a business partner of former Nicaragua dictator Luis Somoza. His relationship with Howard Hunt would grow into a extremely close friendship. They bought homes across the street from each other in Miami Shores and Hunt served as the godfather for one of Artime's children. (In 1975, an informant called the office of Senator Richard Schweiker and said that a friend of Artime's in Mexico City claimed that Artime had "guilty knowledge" of the Kennedy assassination. Artime, moving in and out of the country on business, was unable to be contacted before Schweiker's mandate expired. Later, the House Assassinations Committee contacted Artime and planned to take his sworn statement. Suddenly, Artime went into the hospital and was told he had cancer. Two weeks later, Artime died. He was 45.)

Another major contribution Hunt made to the Bay of Pigs operation was his help in selecting an old friend from the Guatemala scenario for an extremely important Agency role. Pulled from his post as a covert operative in Havana was a tall, articulate, charmingly diffident counterintelligence expert named David Atlee Phillips. It was Phillips' enormous and primary task to create the Big Lie. As head of the Agency's "propaganda shop" for the invasion, Phillips had to bend the ranting of the exile groups into an effective symphony, set up broadcast stations that would rally guerrillas with Cuba to join the invaders, and establish communications links that would provide secret codes to trigger the actual invasion. Most of all, it was Phillips' job to create the impression to the world that the invasion was all a spontaneous action by anti-Castro forces and that neither the United States nor the CIA had anything to do with it. Phillips obviously had to be ingenious.

Later, there would be many an autopsy done on the Bay of Pigs operation and many valid conclusion reached about why it was such a dismal failure. One of the major reasons, however, had to be the fact that the most ambitious clandestine project ever concocted and supervised by the world's most technically proficient experts in deception and secrecy was, in the end, anything but a secret. Just nine days before the invasion, a New York Times reporter in Miami wrote: "Men come and go quietly on their secret missions of sabotage and gun- running into Cuba, while others assemble at staging points here to be flown at night to military camps in Guatemala and Louisiana. Since a mobilization order was issued ten days ago...contingents of men have been leaving here nightly for the camps of the new revolutionary army. They will be followed next week by professional men and intellectual who are to be concentrated at an undisclosed spot in the Caribbean area to prepare to serve as military government officials if the revolutionaries gain a foothold on Cuban soil." The next day, Castro must have at least glanced at the story before checking the sports news.

President Kennedy told the world that he assumed "sole responsibility" for the Bay of Pigs. Privately, he turned to his special counsel, Theodore Sorensen, and asked: "How could I have been so stupid to let them to ahead?" Yet many in the top echelon of CIA officers involved in planning the Bay of Pigs did, indeed, feel strongly that Kennedy was responsible of its failure. There would have been no slaughter of the exiles, no 1200 brave man captured, if Kennedy had not at the last moment rejected the proposal of massive air support. That was the word that filtered down to the field operatives, the Cuban exile community and the remnants of the invasion Brigade. It produced an incredible bitterness on every level. The military leader of the Brigade, Pepe San Roman, captured and imprisoned by Castro, later revealed the depth of his reaction: "I hated the United States," he said, "and I felt that I had been betrayed. Every day it became worse and then I was getting madder and madder and I wanted to get a rifle and come and fight against the U.S."

The Agency operatives who had led the exiles expressed the same deep bitterness. The ever-eloquent E. Howard Hunt, monitoring the effect at CIA headquarters until the end, later noted: "I was sick of lying and deception, heartsick over political compromise and military defect.... That night, laced through my broken sleep, were the words Sir Winston Churchill had spoken to a British Minister of Defense: 'I am not sure I should have dared to start; but I am sure I should not have dared to stop.' ...I saw in his words a warning for those Americans who had faltered at the Bay of Pigs."

Hunts close associate, David Phillips, would also reveal, years later, the incredible emotional impact of the defeat. Writing in his memoirs, The Night Watch, he too, detailed the end:

I went home. I peeled off my socks like dirty layers of skin -- I realized I hadn't changed them for a week.... I bathed, then fell into bed to sleep for several hours. On awakening I tried to eat again, but couldn't. Outside, the day was sheet spring beauty. I carried a portable radio to the yard at the rear of the house and listened to the gloomy newscasts about Cuba as I sat on the ground, my back against a tree.

Helen came out from the house and handed me a martini, a large one. I was half drunk

when I finished.. Suddenly my stomach churned. I was sick. My body heaved.

Then I began to cry....

I wept for two hours. I was sick again, then drunk again...

Oh xxxx! xxxx!

The second is from the interview with Gaeton Fonzi

from October 8, 1994......

See

http://cuban-exile.com/doc_001-025/doc0006.html

Question: Why did you discount Marita Lorenz's experiences based on a personal anecdotal incident that had absolutely nothing to do with the activities she described in Florida pre-November 1963 and in Dallas during November 1963? If she was so unbelievable, why was her testimony taken in executive session and not published in the reports?

GF: First of all, executive sessions were determined by one of two things. Whether or not the Committee itself felt that the information that was being provided by the witness might endanger the witness' life, or be made prematurely public so as to hamper any additional investigation. Or at the request of the individual. I think that the decision to take Marita Lorenz' testimony in executive session was to avoid giving her the publicity, I believe, she was after and why she went through this whole scenario of getting herself all this newspaper publicity in order to get the Committee to call her. I had been telling the Committee, really, that it wasn't necessary to call Marita Lorenz as a witness because of the discrepancies in the stories she was telling. And the fact that she kept changing her stories. And why I discounted her experiences, although I think there's some validity to her earlier reports of exactly what she was doing here in Miami working with anti-Castro people. As far as the connection to the Kennedy assassination, I discounted that on far more than what's described here as a personal anecdotal incident. It was discounted as a result of specific information we developed and, regarding the individuals she said were involved. And we couldn't find any proof that they were in that caravan * going to Dallas. And she kept changing the names and number of people in the caravan.

Question: How many cars were there in that?

Fonzi: Eventually? Originally?

Question: Eventually.

Gaeton Fonzi: Eventually, I think two or three cars. I don't recall. Originally there was one.

END

Also interesting is that at one point Fonzi recounts a conversation he had with Mitch Werbell in which [a drunk, or trying to seem drunk] Fonzi mentions the following...in his answer to the question........

Question: What roll, if any, did WerBell have in the assassination of JFK?

GF: Well, we certainly looked into that and wasn't really able to develop very much. We got, initially, when I was working for Schweiker, we got reports from someone who was close to WerBell who indicated that there was a link. Werbell had perhaps some knowledge. And we spent an awful lot of time with WerBell and looking into his connections and associations. And because they were so convoluted and so, in many cases, so very, very deep, involved in covert operations, we weren't really able to come up with anything in terms of any kind of linkages. Though, in my interview with him, at one point he said he received a call from Ruby. Incoming, as he said. And then refused to get specific about exactly what that call was. But he was half bombed when I was talking to him. And it may have been something that either he made up, or he slipped. And I thought it was interesting.

Addendum (not on video) to answer 71 by Gaeton Fonzi:

[i don't mean to give the impression I didn't attempt to follow up on WerBell's reference to Ruby. At the time, however, it was difficult to get WerBell to respond coherently to questions I asked, either because he was getting drunker or, more likely, pretending he was getting drunker. He simply became evasive and mumbled more when I repeatedly tried to pin him down to details, [b]so it's still difficult to decide whether his reference to Ruby was a true slip or an attempt to add a touch of disinformation.]

[/b]

See

http://cuban-exile.com/doc_001-025/doc0006.html

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The following are from two separate sessions/interviews with Gaeton Fonzi.

[Note: Obviously these are rather old interviews, and I cannot confirm that information developed since then may or may not have changed the perceptions of Fonzi accordingly, still they provide an interesting addendum of sorts to the revelations contained in the Rolling Stone interview with Saint John.]

The first concerns E Howard Hunt and significant others and is from a 1980 issue of the Washingtonian.

........One of the factors that led the Central Intelligence Agency to believe it could topple Castro was the success it had enjoyed in Guatemala in 1954. Using a force of only 150 exiles and a handful of World War II P-47 fighters flow by American contract pilots, the CIA brought down the Communist-leaning Guatemalan government in less than a week, firing hardly a shot, and installed the Agency's hand-picked leader, Castillo Armas. When covert operations boss Richard Bissell was selecting Agency personnel to run the Bay of Pigs scheme, he told them that the plan was based on "the Guatemala scenario."

Because of the success of that scenario, Bissell picked veterans of it for the key slots in the Cuban operation. For instance, appointed the Agency's political liaison chief to the multitude of Cuban exile groups in Miami was a dapper, pipe-smoking Ivy Leaguer (Brown, '40) and prolific author of spy thrillers named E. Howard Hunt. Among Agency personnel, Hunt had -- and still does have -- a curious reputation. To some he is the caricature of the Hollywood spy -- indeed, Hunt did serve a stint as a Hollywood script writer -- given to overplaying the cloak and dagger role. One of the more earnest of the Agency professionals liked to say that Hunt was consistent in his judgment: "always wrong." Yet down through the years and right up through the Watergate fiasco, Hunt was inevitable chosen to be on the front lines of dirty trick operations,. Despite the fact there appeared to be so many ostensible failures among those operations, Hunts star continually rose. He also remained strangely close to the one man whose markedly unflamboyant character seemed in such contrast to his, the one deemed the shrewdest and most coldly professional of all Agency bosses: Richard Helms.

It didn't take long for E. Howard Hunt to inject himself into the labyrinthine world of Cuban exile politics in Miami. With his faithful sidekick, Bernard Barker, Hunt set up a series of 'safe" houses for Clandestine meetings, moved through the shadows of Little Havana and doled out packets of money from dark doorways. (Hunt carried as much as $115,000 in his briefcase.) Although Hunt attempted to keep 2 separate identity ("Just call me 'Eduardo,'" he told the Cubans) and the source of the funds a mystery, the exiles soon began referring to their benefactors as "Uncle Sam."

It was Hunt's job to form the Frente, the coalition of Cuban exile groups which would serve as the political umbrella for the military army of the invasion. It was early apparent, however, that Hunt's own conservative right-wing political view colored his handling of the exile groups and he and Barker, wheeling and dealing among the politicians, started as many squabbles as they mediated. In fact, immediately before the actual invasion, Hunt was removed -- he says he quit -- as the Agency's political liaison because he wouldn't go along with including in the exile coalition a group headed by a democratic socialist named Manolo Ray. Fidelisimo sin Fidel, Hunt said, and called him a Communist. Ray's name would also later pop up in the Kennedy assassination investigation.

Hunt's principal contribution to the Bay of Pigs invasion was his selection of the military brigade's political leader, a fiery physician-tuned-politician named Manuel Artime. Flamboyant had effective, Artime helped stop a political insurrection at the exile training camp. Years later, he would become wealthy as a business partner of former Nicaragua dictator Luis Somoza. His relationship with Howard Hunt would grow into a extremely close friendship. They bought homes across the street from each other in Miami Shores and Hunt served as the godfather for one of Artime's children. (In 1975, an informant called the office of Senator Richard Schweiker and said that a friend of Artime's in Mexico City claimed that Artime had "guilty knowledge" of the Kennedy assassination. Artime, moving in and out of the country on business, was unable to be contacted before Schweiker's mandate expired. Later, the House Assassinations Committee contacted Artime and planned to take his sworn statement. Suddenly, Artime went into the hospital and was told he had cancer. Two weeks later, Artime died. He was 45.)

Another major contribution Hunt made to the Bay of Pigs operation was his help in selecting an old friend from the Guatemala scenario for an extremely important Agency role. Pulled from his post as a covert operative in Havana was a tall, articulate, charmingly diffident counterintelligence expert named David Atlee Phillips. It was Phillips' enormous and primary task to create the Big Lie. As head of the Agency's "propaganda shop" for the invasion, Phillips had to bend the ranting of the exile groups into an effective symphony, set up broadcast stations that would rally guerrillas with Cuba to join the invaders, and establish communications links that would provide secret codes to trigger the actual invasion. Most of all, it was Phillips' job to create the impression to the world that the invasion was all a spontaneous action by anti-Castro forces and that neither the United States nor the CIA had anything to do with it. Phillips obviously had to be ingenious.

Later, there would be many an autopsy done on the Bay of Pigs operation and many valid conclusion reached about why it was such a dismal failure. One of the major reasons, however, had to be the fact that the most ambitious clandestine project ever concocted and supervised by the world's most technically proficient experts in deception and secrecy was, in the end, anything but a secret. Just nine days before the invasion, a New York Times reporter in Miami wrote: "Men come and go quietly on their secret missions of sabotage and gun- running into Cuba, while others assemble at staging points here to be flown at night to military camps in Guatemala and Louisiana. Since a mobilization order was issued ten days ago...contingents of men have been leaving here nightly for the camps of the new revolutionary army. They will be followed next week by professional men and intellectual who are to be concentrated at an undisclosed spot in the Caribbean area to prepare to serve as military government officials if the revolutionaries gain a foothold on Cuban soil." The next day, Castro must have at least glanced at the story before checking the sports news.

President Kennedy told the world that he assumed "sole responsibility" for the Bay of Pigs. Privately, he turned to his special counsel, Theodore Sorensen, and asked: "How could I have been so stupid to let them to ahead?" Yet many in the top echelon of CIA officers involved in planning the Bay of Pigs did, indeed, feel strongly that Kennedy was responsible of its failure. There would have been no slaughter of the exiles, no 1200 brave man captured, if Kennedy had not at the last moment rejected the proposal of massive air support. That was the word that filtered down to the field operatives, the Cuban exile community and the remnants of the invasion Brigade. It produced an incredible bitterness on every level. The military leader of the Brigade, Pepe San Roman, captured and imprisoned by Castro, later revealed the depth of his reaction: "I hated the United States," he said, "and I felt that I had been betrayed. Every day it became worse and then I was getting madder and madder and I wanted to get a rifle and come and fight against the U.S."

The Agency operatives who had led the exiles expressed the same deep bitterness. The ever-eloquent E. Howard Hunt, monitoring the effect at CIA headquarters until the end, later noted: "I was sick of lying and deception, heartsick over political compromise and military defect.... That night, laced through my broken sleep, were the words Sir Winston Churchill had spoken to a British Minister of Defense: 'I am not sure I should have dared to start; but I am sure I should not have dared to stop.' ...I saw in his words a warning for those Americans who had faltered at the Bay of Pigs."

Hunts close associate, David Phillips, would also reveal, years later, the incredible emotional impact of the defeat. Writing in his memoirs, The Night Watch, he too, detailed the end:

I went home. I peeled off my socks like dirty layers of skin -- I realized I hadn't changed them for a week.... I bathed, then fell into bed to sleep for several hours. On awakening I tried to eat again, but couldn't. Outside, the day was sheet spring beauty. I carried a portable radio to the yard at the rear of the house and listened to the gloomy newscasts about Cuba as I sat on the ground, my back against a tree.

Helen came out from the house and handed me a martini, a large one. I was half drunk

when I finished.. Suddenly my stomach churned. I was sick. My body heaved.

Then I began to cry....

I wept for two hours. I was sick again, then drunk again...

Oh xxxx! xxxx!

The second is from the interview with Gaeton Fonzi

from October 8, 1994......

See

http://cuban-exile.com/doc_001-025/doc0006.html

Question: Why did you discount Marita Lorenz's experiences based on a personal anecdotal incident that had absolutely nothing to do with the activities she described in Florida pre-November 1963 and in Dallas during November 1963? If she was so unbelievable, why was her testimony taken in executive session and not published in the reports?

GF: First of all, executive sessions were determined by one of two things. Whether or not the Committee itself felt that the information that was being provided by the witness might endanger the witness' life, or be made prematurely public so as to hamper any additional investigation. Or at the request of the individual. I think that the decision to take Marita Lorenz' testimony in executive session was to avoid giving her the publicity, I believe, she was after and why she went through this whole scenario of getting herself all this newspaper publicity in order to get the Committee to call her. I had been telling the Committee, really, that it wasn't necessary to call Marita Lorenz as a witness because of the discrepancies in the stories she was telling. And the fact that she kept changing her stories. And why I discounted her experiences, although I think there's some validity to her earlier reports of exactly what she was doing here in Miami working with anti-Castro people. As far as the connection to the Kennedy assassination, I discounted that on far more than what's described here as a personal anecdotal incident. It was discounted as a result of specific information we developed and, regarding the individuals she said were involved. And we couldn't find any proof that they were in that caravan * going to Dallas. And she kept changing the names and number of people in the caravan.

Question: How many cars were there in that?

Fonzi: Eventually? Originally?

Question: Eventually.

Gaeton Fonzi: Eventually, I think two or three cars. I don't recall. Originally there was one.

END

Also interesting is that at one point Fonzi recounts a conversation he had with Mitch Werbell in which Fonzi mentions the following...in his answer to the question........

Question: What roll, if any, did WerBell have in the assassination of JFK?

GF: Well, we certainly looked into that and wasn't really able to develop very much. We got, initially, when I was working for Schweiker, we got reports from someone who was close to WerBell who indicated that there was a link. Werbell had perhaps some knowledge. And we spent an awful lot of time with WerBell and looking into his connections and associations. And because they were so convoluted and so, in many cases, so very, very deep, involved in covert operations, we weren't really able to come up with anything in terms of any kind of linkages. Though, in my interview with him, at one point he said he received a call from Ruby. Incoming, as he said. And then refused to get specific about exactly what that call was. But he was half bombed when I was talking to him. And it may have been something that either he made up, or he slipped. And I thought it was interesting.

Addendum (not on video) to answer 71 by Gaeton Fonzi:

[i don't mean to give the impression I didn't attempt to follow up on WerBell's reference to Ruby. At the time, however, it was difficult to get WerBell to respond coherently to questions I asked, either because he was getting drunker or, more likely, pretending he was getting drunker. He simply became evasive and mumbled more when I repeatedly tried to pin him down to details, [b]so it's still difficult to decide whether his reference to Ruby was a true slip or an attempt to add a touch of disinformation.]

[/b]

See

http://cuban-exile.com/doc_001-025/doc0006.html

Edited by Robert Howard
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  • 1 year later...

E. H. Hunt's son David responds to the March 20, 2007 L.A. Times story about Hunt's confession (reprinted above).

http://weblog.timoregan.com/2007/04/medias...-hunts-jfk.html

david hunt screeched...

here is how the la times did a job on us.

On March 20, the Los Angeles Times ran a story titled “Watergate plotter may have last tale”. I wasn’t surprised because I had initiated the interview and had been waiting for three weeks from the original print date. I hand picked journalist Carol J. Williams because her piece on my fathers’ life and death was impartial and fair. She flew to Eureka for a 5 hour interview with my brother St. John and then 2 hours with me in L.A. What surprised and angered me was the absence of critical information and the presence of disinformation meant to discredit myself and my brother. The following are excerpts taken from the article followed by factual accounting and how it was twisted.

Spin: Hunt's daughters headed west to create new lives. Kevan came to California, where she has practiced law for 25 years. Lisa became a fundamentalist Christian and runs an insurance firm in Las Vegas. Reality Notice positive introduction of our sisters who later in the story discredit us. All of their skeletons, for which there are many, are left in the closet.

He was convicted twice on felony drug charges in the Bay Area but served no prison time. When he became homeless, he renounced his drug habit, renewed ties with his father and siblings and moved to this Pacific Coast timber and fishing town.

Spin: St. John is introduced as a homeless, drug addict and felon. These are all true but he had been sober many years before starting this project.

David, now 43, also abused drugs after his mother's death and the years he spent in the violent milieu of Cuban exile politics. He now sells Jacuzzis at a West L.A. spa shop.

Spin: I am a partner in a successful Los Angeles business and reside in Beverly Hills. The years I spent with my godfather and second family were some of the happiest and most loved times of my life. It sounds as if I was in some crazed military camp to make my involvement look suspect and desperate.

The materials they offer to substantiate their story, examined by the Los Angeles Times, are inconclusive.

Spin: The writer briefly looked over hand written notes from my father and viewed less than 5% of video interviews conducted by Eric Hamberg. As far as I know Carol Williams is not an expert in hand writing analysis, JFK Assassination study or relevant history. She lacks any expertise on any level to render the materials inconclusive.

None of the accounts provides evidence to convincingly validate that their father disclosed anything revelatory. Hunt answers questions on a videotape using speculative phrases, observing that various named figures were "possibly" involved. A chart Hunt sketched during one conversation with St. John shows the same rogue CIA operation he describes in the memoir.

Spin: At no time were we attempting to prove to Miss Williams anything other than we have in our possession information from a person who has long been believed to hold the answers to some of our countries most debated questions. Our position is to provide this information which we believe to be truthful and accurate to the people that have researched the topic thoroughly.

Hunt's widow and her two children, 27-year-old Austin and 23-year-old Hollis, dismiss the brothers' story, saying it is the result of coaching an old man whose lucidity waxed and waned in his final months. Spin: Unfortunately neither Austin nor Hollis were present during the interviews. This was a condition set by my father who kept his second family isolated from his previous life. It was an opportunity for a second chance. He had gotten out of jail, married an innocent civilian and spent his remaining 27 years trying to live a normal life. Hollis and Austin had a very secure environment and a father that was easily accessible. I believe he saw the damage his previous lifestyle imposed on his first set of children and he was determined not to repeat it. Neither my brother nor I were allowed to mention anything from my fathers past when they were present. He had told me many times that if Laura, his second wife, thought he had anything to do with JFK that she would leave him. My brother and I have a huge amount of respect for what our step mother had to put up with caring for my father in his last years. She is nothing short of a saint, unselfish and a completely devoted wife.

Kevan bitterly accuses her brothers of "elder abuse," saying they pressured their father for dramatic scenarios for their own financial gain. Hunt's longtime lawyer, Bill Snyder, says: "Howard was just speculating. He had no hard evidence."

Spin: Kevan had little involvement with our father after Watergate and the death of our mother. She had no knowledge or interest in our fathers well being. She remained bitter to the end and didn’t even attend our fathers’ funeral. This statement is particularly damaging to St.John who makes his living assisting the elderly. Anyone who truly knows my brother including the people he currently cares for would tell you he is honest, kind and devoted to their well being and comfort.

"That's the way spies are," David says with a wry smile, remembering a father he never really knew. Spin: I was the only one of his children that was alive during Watergate and JFK assassination that lived with him after he was released from jail. We had a very close relationship until the last two years of his life. His hearing condition made it impossible to communicate via telephone. I was at the hospital visiting with him and left on a Sunday night. He died Tuesday morning

Perhaps the biggest omission from the L.A Times article is that I had the foresight to know that people would discredit me and St. John because of our pasts. I was even doubtful when St. John said he had all the info on paper written by our father. This is precisely why I brought Eric Hamberg in. I met Eric on the movie set of Nixon. I accompanied my father to meet with Oliver Stone. Oliver and Eric grilled my father for hours about anything and everything they suspected my father of knowing. The reason why Eric stuck out in my mind is that my father liked him. I found it peculiar because my father didn’t like anyone. It was the first time I had ever heard my father say something nice about someone with opposing political views. Eric Hamberg has devoted years to uncovering the truth behind the JFK assassination. He was responsible for getting the John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992 passed. He is a respected authority on historical facts of that era. He is beyond suspicion of fabricating evidence for financial gain. I knew if he met with my father and wanted to be part of the project than it was the truth. Eric Hamberg was the original writer that started and secured the book deal for the recently released American Spy novel. It was only in the final stages of the book when my father bowed to pressure from his wife and attorney and changed his mind about going public with this information. At that point Eric knew the truth and ended his involvement with American Spy. It was finished by a ghost writer. The O.J style” If I did it” section was adapted to appease the publisher who was deeply invested in the project.

For me the upcoming book is business. We have a valuable legitimate story to share with people who are interested. People write books for money it is as simple as that. For my brother St. John it is more personal. It was during his generation that these events took place. I believe for Eric it is the quest for the truth. If more people that were even remotely involved came forward with what they know we would finally be able to put the subject to rest. But this is a dangerous subject. As of the date the LA Times article came out my brother has been run off the road and his house ran sacked.

08 April, 2007 23:04

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