Introduction: The program begins with the moving of Sirhan Sirhan (left) to a new prison. His counsel fears he may not be safe. Sirhan is, of course, the accused assassin of Robert F. Kennedy. There is abundant evidence that Sirhan was framed.
A former FBI agent who witnessed the autopsy on President Kennedy’s body doubts the single bullet theory and appears to feel there was a conspiracy. The essence of the Warren Commission’s untenable thesis, the single bullet theory maintains that all non-fatal wounds in both President Kennedy and Texas Governor John Connally were made by a single bullet. If more than one bullet can be proved to have made those wounds, then there has to have been more than one shooter.
LBJ apparently also thought there was a massive conspiracy behind the death of President Kennedy. On Air Force One–while the plane was still in Dallas–LBJ was apparently crying and saying that the conspirators were going to kill “us all.”
Rounding out the show is a remarkable new development concerning the fact that George Joannides, who had served as CIA liaison to the anti-Castro Cuban groups involved in the decades-long effort at destabilizing Cuba was also the CIA’s liaison to the House Select Committee on Assassinations.
Among the groups with which Joannides liaised was the DRE, the group to which Carlos Bringuier belonged. (Bringuier is pictured at right, along with Ed Butler of INCA.) Bringuier was involved in an interview on WDSU with Oswald, in which Oswald underscored his Marxist sympathies. In addition to the DRE’s stewardship by the Central Intelligence Agency, there are numerous connections between the intelligence community and the milieu that generated the interview.
The myth of “Lee Harvey Oswald the Communist” was successfully displayed and stemming from that fiction led many liberals to opt for the “Oswald the lone nut” scenario because they feared a Third World War might result from the public perception that a “commie” had killed the President. Much of the second side of the program consists of a re-broadcast of the interview that Oswald gave on WDSU in New Orleans in August of 1963. In this interview, Oswald expresses sympathy for Castro’s Cuba and discusses his sojourn in the Soviet Union.
To all outward appearances, Oswald looks like a communist sympathizer. Oswald was the sole member of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee’s New Orleans chapter, which shared an address with Guy Bannister’s detective agency, a front for various right-wing activities, including the [then] ongoing paramilitary efforts to oust Castro. (Bannister is pictured at right.) In addition to the WDSU interview, the second side features discussion—excerpted from the “Guns of November, Part I” from 11/1/1983—of the intelligence connections of Ed Butler, whose Information Council of the Americas arranged the Oswald interview. Butler’s INCA was little more than an intelligence front, with close ties to Bannister’s detective agency.
Program Highlights Include: INCA’s Ed Butler and his attendance at a press conference following Robert Kennedy’s assassination, at which Sirhan was portrayed as a communist agent; review of the single bullet theory; review of some of aspects of Robert Kennedy’s assassination; review of the House Select Committee on Assassinations’ de facto endorsement of New Orleans DA Jim Garrison’s investigation of the Kennedy assassination (Garrison is pictured at the top of this article at right); review of the HSCA’s focus on Garrison defendant Clay Shaw and David Ferrie (Shaw is pictured at right and above and Ferrie to the left, and below); review of the apparent theft of an incriminating film from the HSCA’s files; review of intelligence officer Bernardo de Torres’ apparent work as a double agent inside of Garrison’s investigation; review of de Torres’ alleged presence in Dealey Plaza on 11/22/1963; review of de Torres’ apparent participation in the assassination of Orlando Letelier.
1. The program begins with the moving of Sirhan Sirhan to a new prison. His counsel fears he may not be safe. Sirhan is, of course, the accused assassin of Robert F. Kennedy. There is abundant evidence that Sirhan was framed.
An attorney for the man who assassinated Robert F. Kennedy said Monday his client was transferred from a prison that houses high-risk offenders to a new facility where his life could be in danger.
Attorney William F. Pepper said Sirhan Sirhan opposed the move from the California state prison in Corcoran, which houses high-risk prisoners such as Charles Manson, to Pleasant Valley State Prison in Coalinga.
“Our main concern is for his safety,” said Laurie Dusek, an associate of Pepper. “We are not sure that Pleasant Valley has the ability to protect him. He is a target.”
Oscar Hidalgo, a spokesman for the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, said Sirhan, 65, had requested the transfer and wants to stay in Pleasant Valley.
“After discussing his hesitation with prison officials at Pleasant Valley, Sirhan Sirhan indicated he wanted to stay at the new facility after all,” Hidalgo said. “He can indicate if he feels unsafe at any point and the department will respond appropriately.”
Sirhan is serving a life sentence for the 1968 killing of Kennedy. He had been housed for years in the protective housing unit at Corcoran, one of the most isolated units in the state prison system.
Pepper said neither he nor Sirhan had requested the move and neither had received notice until Sirhan was actually moved Thursday.
Hidalgo countered in a written statement that the move followed numerous requests by Sirhan to be transferred from Corcoran.
“His movements there have been extremely controlled and his exposure to others extremely limited,” Hidalgo said.
At Pleasant Valley, Sirhan will be housed in a cell by himself. He will interact with a larger group of inmates in a larger yard but will not be mingling with the general population, Hidalgo said.
He said Sirhan’s lawyers were notified of the move.
Dusek said she had contacted prison officials, checking on a report from Sirhan’s brother that he might be moved. Authorities denied any knowledge of such a change, she said.
Pepper said he wrote to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger protesting the transfer. The governor’s office said it had not received any communication on the matter. . . .
2. A former FBI agent who witnessed the autopsy on President Kennedy’s body doubts the single bullet theory.
Jim Sibert has answered the questions for 46 years, ever since the night he observed the autopsy of President John F. Kennedy. The evidentiary foundation of the untenable Warren Commission hypothesis, the single bullet theory maintains that all of the non-fatal wounds in President Kennedy in former Texas Governor John Connally were made by a single bullet. If more than one bullet can be proved to have made those wounds, the “lone assassin” theory goes out the window.
Over the years, the former FBI special agent has been interviewed for books and calls and questions keep coming from teachers, authors and historians. Now, as another anniversary of the assassination arrives, Sibert, 91, was asked again about that historic day, Nov. 22, 1963.
“It started out like a normal day,” Sibert said.
At the time, Sibert was a 45-year-old FBI special agent stationed in Maryland and only a year younger than Kennedy. Late in the day, the president of the United States lay dead in front of him with a hole in his head.
“It was a piece blown out of the skull,” Sibert said.
Sibert and another agent, Frances X. O’Neill, met the casket at Andrews Air Force Base and accompanied it to Bethesda Naval Hospital. They were assigned to watch the autopsy, stay with the body and, as Sibert and O’Neill noted in a report dictated four days after the examination, “to obtain bullets reportedly in the president’s body.”
When Kennedy’s body was removed from its casket and white sheets were unwrapped from him, Sibert recalls how the one around his head was blood soaked.
“His eyes were fixed open,” Sibert recalled.
No clothing came with the slain president. The suit Kennedy wore in the open-topped limousine had been cut off in Dallas, where he was gunned down.
More than a single bullet?
What happened in Dallas that day remains contested with factions still debating whether Lee Harvey Oswald was the only shooter or if he was part of a wide-ranging conspiracy.
“I don’t buy the single-bullet theory,” Sibert said. “I won’t go as far as to say there was no conspiracy.” . . .
3. LBJ apparently thought there was a massive conspiracy behind the death of President Kennedy. On Air Force One–while the plane was still in Dallas–LBJ was apparently crying and saying that the conspirators were going to kill “us all.”
This is not the first indication that LBJ thought there was a conspiracy behind the killing.
This month will mark the 46th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. A recently declassified oral history by Brigadier General Godfrey McHugh, President Kennedy’s military aide on the Dallas trip, sheds new light on the critical hours after the shooting. McHugh makes startling claims about Lyndon Johnson’s behavior in the wake of the assassination.
The interview with McHugh, originally conducted for the John F. Kennedy Library in 1978, remained closed for 31 years. It was finally declassified in the spring of 2009. I just happened to be working at the Kennedy Library on the day the interview was opened to the public and have used it for the first time in my new book, The Kennedy Assassination — 24 Hours After.
After being informed at Parkland Hospital that Kennedy was dead, Johnson raced back to Air Force One, where he waited for Mrs. Kennedy and the body of the slain president, and made preparations to take the Oath of Office. Back at the hospital, the Kennedy group loaded the body into a coffin, forced their way past a local justice of the peace, and hurried back to Love Field for the long ride back to Washington.
It was standard practice for the plane to take off as soon as the commander-in-chief was onboard. Even after McHugh had ordered the pilot to take off, however, “nothing happened.” According to the newly declassified transcript, Mrs. Kennedy was becoming desperate to leave. “Mrs. Kennedy was getting very warm, she had blood all over her hat, her coat...his brains were sticking on her hat. It was dreadful,” McHugh said. She pleaded with him to get the plane off the ground. “Please, let’s leave,” she said. McHugh jumped up and used the phone near the rear compartment to call Captain James Swindal. “Let’s leave,” he said. Swindal responded: “I can’t do it. I have orders to wait.” Not wanting to make a scene in front of Mrs. Kennedy, McHugh rushed to the front of the plane. “Swindal, what on earth is going on?” The pilot told him that “the President wants to remain in this area.”
McHugh, like most members of the Kennedy entourage, did not know that Johnson was onboard. They believed that the new president was on his own plane flying back to Washington. If LBJ was on the plane, McHugh wanted to see for himself. Since he had not seen Johnson in the aisle — and at 6’4″ Johnson would be tough to miss — McHugh assumed that he must then be in the bedroom. When he checked there Johnson was nowhere to be seen. The only place on the plane he had not inspected was the bathroom in the presidential bedroom.
What McHugh claimed to have witnessed next was shocking. “I walked in the toilet, in the powder room, and there he was hiding, with the curtain closed,” McHugh recalled. He claimed that LBJ was crying, “They’re going to get us all. It’s a plot. It’s a plot. It’s going to get us all.’” According to the General, Johnson “was hysterical, sitting down on the john there alone in this thing.”
I soon discovered that McHugh had told a similar story when he spoke by phone with Mark Flanagan, an investigator with the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA). Ironically, McHugh gave the interview to the HSCA a week before he sat down with the Kennedy Library in May 1978. “McHugh had encountered difficulty in locating Johnson but finally discovered him alone,” Flanagan wrote in his summary to the Committee. Quoting McHugh, the investigator noted that the General found Johnson “hiding in the toilet in the bedroom compartment and muttering, ‘Conspiracy, conspiracy, they’re after all of us.’” . . .
4. A remarkable new development concerns the fact that George Joannides, who had served as CIA liaison to the anti-Castro Cuban groups involved in the decades-long effort at destabilizing Cuba was also the CIA’s liaison to the House Select Committee on Assassinations.
Among the groups with which Joannides liaised was the DRE, the group to which Carlos Bringuier belonged. Bringuier was involved in an interview on WDSU with Oswald, in which Oswald underscored his Marxist sympathies. In addition to the DRE’s stewardship by the Central Intelligence Agency, there are numerous connections between the intelligence community and the milieu that generated the interview.
The myth of “Lee Harvey Oswald the Communist” was successfully displayed and stemming from that fiction led many liberals to opt for the “Oswald the lone nut” scenario because they feared a Third World War might result from the public perception that a “commie” had killed the President. Much of the second side of the program consists of a re-broadcast of the interview that Oswald gave on WDSU in New Orleans in August of 1963. In this interview, Oswald expresses sympathy for Castro’s Cuba and discusses his sojourn in the Soviet Union. To all outward appearances, Oswald looks like a communist sympathizer. Oswald was the sole member of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee’s New Orleans chapter, which shared an address with Guy Bannister’s detective agency, a front for various right-wing activities, including the [then] ongoing paramilitary efforts to oust Castro. In addition to the WDSU interview, the second side features discussion—excerpted from the “Guns of November, Part I” from 11/1/1983—of the intelligence connections of Ed Butler, whose Information Council of the Americas arranged the Oswald interview. Butler’s INCA was little more than an intelligence front, with close ties to Bannister’s detective agency.
Interestingly and perhaps significantly, Butler was also present in Los Angeles in 1968 when an interview was staged in which participants attempted to link Sirhan Sirhan to Castro.
Probably not. But you would not know it from the C.I.A.’s behavior.
For six years, the agency has fought in federal court to keep secret hundreds of documents from 1963, when an anti-Castro Cuban group it paid clashed publicly with the soon-to-be assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald. The C.I.A. says it is only protecting legitimate secrets. But because of the agency’s history of stonewalling assassination inquiries, even researchers with no use for conspiracy thinking question its stance.
The files in question, some released under direction of the court and hundreds more that are still secret, involve the curious career of George E. Joannides, the case officer who oversaw the dissident Cubans in 1963. In 1978, the agency made Mr. Joannides the liaison to the House Select Committee on Assassinations — but never told the committee of his earlier role.
That concealment has fueled suspicion that Mr. Joannides’s real assignment was to limit what the House committee could learn about C.I.A. activities. The agency’s deception was first reported in 2001 by Jefferson Morley, who has doggedly pursued the files ever since, represented by James H. Lesar, a Washington lawyer specializing in Freedom of Information Act lawsuits.
“The C.I.A.’s conduct is maddening,” said Mr. Morley, 51, a former Washington Post reporter and the author of a 2008 biography of a former C.I.A. station chief in Mexico.
After years of meticulous reporting on Mr. Joannides, who died at age 68 in 1990, he is convinced that there is more to learn.
“I know there’s a story here,” Mr. Morley said. “The confirmation is that the C.I.A. treats these documents as extremely sensitive.”
Mr. Morley’s quest has gained prominent supporters, including John R. Tunheim, a federal judge in Minnesota who served in 1994 and 1995 as chairman of the Assassination Records Review Board, created by Congress to unearth documents related to the case.
“I think we were probably misled by the agency,” Judge Tunheim said, referring to the Joannides records. “This material should be released.” . . .
On the Kennedy assassination, the deceptions began in 1964 with the Warren Commission. The C.I.A. hid its schemes to kill Fidel Castro and its ties to the anti-Castro Directorio Revolucionario Estudantil, or Cuban Student Directorate, which received $50,000 a month in C.I.A. support during 1963.
In August 1963, Oswald visited a New Orleans shop owned by a directorate official, feigning sympathy with the group’s goal of ousting Mr. Castro. A few days later, directorate members found Oswald handing out pro-Castro pamphlets and got into a brawl with him. Later that month, he debated the anti-Castro Cubans on a local radio station.
In the years since Oswald was named as the assassin, speculation about who might have been behind him has never ended, with various theories focusing on Mr. Castro, the mob, rogue government agents or myriad combinations of the above. Mr. Morley, one of many writers to become entranced by the story, insists he has no theory and is seeking only the facts.
His lawsuit has uncovered the central role in overseeing directorate activities of Mr. Joannides, the deputy director for psychological warfare at the C.I.A.’s Miami station, code-named JM/WAVE. He worked closely with directorate leaders, documents show, corresponding with them under pseudonyms, paying their travel expenses and achieving an “important degree of control” over the group, as a July 1963 agency fitness report put it.
Fifteen years later, Mr. Joannides turned up again as the agency’s representative to the House assassinations committee. Dan Hardway, then a law student working for the committee, recalled Mr. Joannides as “a cold fish,” who firmly limited access to documents. Once, Mr. Hardway remembered, “he handed me a thin file and just stood there. I blew up, and he said, ‘This is all you’re going to get.’ ”
But neither Mr. Hardway nor the committee’s staff director, G. Robert Blakey, had any idea that Mr. Joannides had played a role in the very anti-Castro activities from 1963 that the panel was scrutinizing.
When Mr. Morley first informed him about it a decade ago, Mr. Blakey was flabbergasted. “If I’d known his role in 1963, I would have put Joannides under oath — he would have been a witness, not a facilitator,” said Mr. Blakey, a law professor at the University of Notre Dame. “How do we know what he didn’t give us?” . . .
5. Most of the second side of the program consists of a re-broadcast of the interview recorded on WDSU.
6. Concluding with information reviewing aspects of New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison’s investigation of the Kennedy Assassination. The program highlights parts of the HSCA’s investigation that support Garrison’s thesis.
HSCA Chief Counsel, G. Robert Blakey, once referred to the Committee’s work as ‘the last investigation.’ As such, it is only proper that the HSCA have the last word on Clay Shaw. On September 1, 1977, staff counsel Jonathan Blackmer, authored a 15-page memorandum addressed to Blakey, as well as staff members, Gary Cornwell, Ken Klein, and Cliff Fenton. Blackmer was the lead counsel for team 3, the HSCA team responsible for the New Orleans and Cuban angles of the investigation. After an investigative trip to New Orleans, Blackmer concluded in his memo: ‘We have reason to believe Shaw was heavily involved in the anti-Castro efforts in New Orleans in the 1960’s and [was] possibly one of the high level planners or ‘cut out’ to the planners of the assassination.’
Let Justice Be Done by Bill Davy; Jordan Publishing [SC] p. 202.
7. Clay Shaw was, of course, the individual tried by Garrison for Kennedy’s assassination. The first suspect investigated by Garrison was David Ferrie. In its final report, the House Select Committee also recommended that the Department of Justice investigate Ferrie and his anti-Castro Cuban associates in the New Orleans area. Ferrie had operated as an investigator for Guy Banister’s detective agency in New Orleans. The Banister operation, in turn, had served as an apparent intelligence front for covert operations against Cuba. Ferrie was instrumental in running a training facility at Lake Ponchartrain (Louisiana), at which Cuban exiles received guerilla training for operations against Castro.
The House Select Committee appears to have obtained a film of this facility, which connects some very interesting people.
It is possible that a film once existed of this training camp. The former Deputy Chief Counsel of the House Select Committee on Assassinations, Robert Tannenbaum, recalled that the committee viewed the film and to Tannenbaum it was a shock to the system. ‘The movie was shocking to me because it demonstrated the notion that the CIA was training, in America, a separate army,’ he said. ‘It was shocking to me because I’m a true believer in the system and yet there are notorious characters in the system, who are funded by the system, who are absolutely un-American! And who knows what they would do, eventually. What if we send people to Washington who they can’t deal with? Out comes their secret army? So, I find that to be as contrary to the Constitution as you can get.’ What is even more shocking is what the film reveals. According to Tannenbaum, depicted in the film among the Cuban exiles were Guy Banister, David Atlee Philips and Lee Harvey Oswald. Inexplicably, the film would later disappear from the Committee’s files.
Ibid.; p. 30.
8. While investigating Eladio del Valle, Ferrie’s associate in covert operations against Cuba, Garrison’s investigating team was infiltrated by an anti-Castro Cuban with strong ties to the intelligence community. This operative, Bernardo de Torres, may well have been involved with the assassination itself. His name later cropped up in connection with the assassination of Orlando Letelier.
On the day Ferrie died, del Valle was found brutally murdered in his car in the parking lot of a Miami shopping center. Prior to that, Garrison had sent a part-time investigator named Bernardo de Torres to question del Valle. De Torres was a military coordinator for the Brigade 2506 part of the exile landing force during the Bay of Pigs invasion. He was captured by Castro’s forces and detained until Christmas Eve of 1962. He eventually found his way to New Orleans where, according to de Torres, he was approached by Sergeant Duffy of the NOPD and asked to join Garrison’s staff. As with many other investigators and volunteers at Tulane and Broad, de Torres’ bona fides are suspect. First of all, it was de Torres who showed up at the D.A.’s office in New Orleans very early in Garrison’s investigation claiming he had important information. He said he was a private detective who wanted to help and dropped the name of Miami D.A. Richard Gerstein as an entrée. Shortly after de Torres was given the assignment to question del Valle, del Valle’s brutalized body was discovered in the vicinity of de Torres’ Miami apartment. It was later determined that de Torres was filing reports on Garrison to the Miami CIA station, JM/WAVE. Not long after he left Garrison’s staff, de Torres went to work for Mitch Werbell’s Military Armament Corporation, a large supplier of weaponry to the CIA. The HSCA developed evidence that de Torres was actually a CIA officer with links to Military Intelligence. A well connected anti-Castro Cuban, Arturo Cobos told the FBI that de Torres was ‘the man to call with contacts on a high level with the CIA in Washington, D.C.’ The HSCA also came into possession of investigative information, which indicated that de Torres may have been in Dealey Plaza at the time of the assassination, and further, that he may have been involved in an assassination conspiracy, charges which de Torres denies. As for Garrison he later came to believe that de Torres was one of his earliest sources of misinformation and recalled that whatever information de Torres provided never went anywhere. In the late 1970’s, de Torres would be linked to the bombing assassination of Chilean leader Orlando Letelier in Washington, D.C.
Ibid.; pp. 148–149.