Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The Real History of Gerald Ford, Watergate, and the CIA

Gerald Ford is dead. And for the last week, we’ve heard how he “healed” the nation in the wake of the Watergate crisis. Seriously, if I hear him called “healer” one more time I think I’ll scream, because Gerald Ford put a stake in the heart of America not once, but twice. He was a thief who stole our Real History from us at a time when it couldn’t possibly have been more important. Curiously, both times, he was prodded to do this, indirectly, by the man whose life is only very loosely portrayed in the film “The Good Shepherd:” James Jesus Angleton.

To frame this in the appropriate context, we have to return, temporarily, to 1947.

World War II had just ended, successfully. In fact, it was the last successful (large-scale) war the United States has ever waged, and no small portion of that was due to the actions of the officers of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), led by William “Wild Bill” Donovan. The US’s first formally-constituted covert action unit was staffed by so many sons and daughters of the establishment that OSS was said to stand for “Oh So Social.”

When the war ended, OSS operatives found themselves faced with an unexciting prospect: returning to normal lives. Having lived as spies, with large amounts of discretionary cash at their disposal, many were loathe to return to more boring peacetime careers. So several, including James Angleton, opted to stay behind in Europe, away from wives and children, to see if they could keep the covert operations, called -- significantly -- “fun and games,” going.

The Army took the former OSS operatives into its Strategic Services Unit (SSU). From that, two branches of intelligence were formed: the Office of Policy Coordination (OPC), which focused on running covert operations, and the Office of Special Operations (OSO), which, while ostensibly focused on intelligence gathering, ran a lot of operations as well. OPC officers, dubbed by journalist and CIA asset Stewart Alsop “the Bold Easterners,” included media guru Frank Wisner, future CIA Director Richard Bissell, future Operation Mongoose head Edward Lansdale, future CIA Deputy Director of Plans Desmond Fitzgerald, and more. The OSO included such luminaries as Richard Helms, Angleton, and Angleton’s career-long associate Raymond “the Rock” Rocca (pronounced “ROCK-ah”).

How the OSO and OPC were merged into the Central Intelligence Group (CIG), which was quickly reorganized as the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is a little known story. In 1947, Donovan and others were pressing for the creation of a fulltime, peacetime intelligence agency. The two big opponents to this effort were some prominent members of Congress, and J. Edgar Hoover, who felt his Federal Bureau of Investigation was the only intelligence agency the country would ever need. So, in an apparent conquer-and-divide strategy, Congress and Hoover were neutralized separately.

According to lifelong CIA operative Miles Copeland:
The CIA almost got under way without having an espionage section at all. The idea of an espionageless intelligence service was attractive not only to three secretaries of state (James F. Byrnes, George C. Marshall, Dean Acheson), but to a great many intelligence experts, including many who had stayed in the Government after serving throughout the war in key positions in the OSS. The State Department people were leery of espionage partly on moral grounds, but more because of a fear that some of our spies were bound to get caught; they felt the resulting embarrassment would case more harm to international goodwill than the information they could produce would be worth. . . .

There are several stories in the CIA's secret annals to explain how the dispute was settled, but although they "make better history," as Allen Dulles used to say, they are only half-truths and much less consistent with the ways of government than the true one. Old-timers at the Agency swear that the anti-espionage people would almost certainly have won out had it not been for the fact that an Army colonel who had been assigned to the management group charged with the job of organizing the new Agency suborned secretaries in the FBI, the State Department, and the Defense Department and organized them into an espionage network which proved not only the superiority of espionage over other forms of acquiring "humint" (i.e. intelligence on what specific human beings think and do in privacy), but the necessity for its being systematized and tightly controlled. The colonel was fired, as were the secretaries, but by that time General John Magruder, then head of the group that was organizing the CIA, had in his hands a strong argument for creating a professional espionage service and putting it under a single organization.
If you read between the lines, he was suggesting the CIA blackmailed itself into existence by collecting material on our leaders and then taking it to them saying, this is what other intelligence services might find on you. Let us protect you. Blackmail is a part of all governments, including ours, and sometimes that blackmail has unintended consequences. One of those unintended consequences made Ford president, as we shall see.

J. Edgar Hoover, who vehemently opposed the creation of a new espionage service, had to be silenced as well. According to Copeland in the same source:
[General Magruder] had enough material to silence enemies of the new Agency -- including even J. Edgar Hoover, since Magruder was among the very few bureaucrats in Washington on whom Mr. Hoover didn't have material for retaliation.
And this is where Angleton enters the picture. In his book Official and Confidential: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover, Tony Summers wrote about a photo James Angleton used to blackmail Hoover. OSS officer John Weitz claimed he had been shown the picture by the host of a dinner party in the fifties:
It was not a good picture and was clearly taken from some distance away, but it showed two men apparently engaged in homosexual activity. The host said the men were Hoover and Tolson….
Summers added in the 1994 version:
Since first publication of this book, Weitz has revealed that his host was James Angleton.
Gordon Novel also claims to have been shown this photo by Angleton. During New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison’s investigation of the Kennedy assassination, he gave an interview to Playboy, and mentioned that the man he had hired to do his security, Gordon Novel, had turned out to be CIA. Novel sued Playboy for defamation, insisting he was not working for the CIA, but during his deposition, he claimed (hilariously) that he did not have to answer questions because he was protected under the National Security Act of 1947, the act that created the CIA. Hoover wanted Novel to drop the suit but Angleton wanted Novel to pursue it. Novel says Angleton showed him the photo, and then sent him to talk to Hoover. When Novel caught up with Hoover in a New Orleans restaurant and told Hoover he had seen “the photo,” Hoover nearly choked on his food.

Gerald Ford was a trusted associate of J. Edgar Hoover’s. So when Gerald Ford was appointed to serve with former CIA chief Allen Dulles on the Warren Commission, Hoover was happy, because now he had an informant on the commission. According to FBI files I read years ago, Ford did not disappoint, and kept Hoover informed of significant developments.

Hoover insisted that all FBI information about the Kennedy assassination come directly to him from his staff. I can’t help but wonder if Hoover’s intense curiosity about the case stemmed from a desire to get counterblackmail material on the CIA that he could use to win his independence.

So how honestly did Ford serve us, the America People, on the Warren Commission, the “blue ribbon commission” set up to investigate the assassination of President Kennedy?

He was worse than Arlen Specter, who concocted the ridiculous “magic bullet” scenario that said seven wounds in two people were caused by a single (and nearly pristine) bullet.

Ford went even further. He personally falsified the record. His act was exposed in files released by the Assassination Records Review Board, a body constituted under the JFK Act, passed in the wake of public outcry from people who had seen Oliver Stone’s powerful film JFK. Here’s a snippet from the original AP story of 7-2-97:
Thirty-three years ago, Gerald R. Ford took pen in hand and changed -- ever so slightly -- the Warren Commission's key sentence on the place where a bullet entered John F. Kennedy's body when he was killed in Dallas.

The effect of Ford's change was to strengthen the commission's conclusion that a single bullet passed through Kennedy and severely wounded Texas Gov. John Connally -- a crucial element in its finding that Lee Harvey Oswald was the sole gunman.

A small change, said Ford on Wednesday when it came to light, one intended to clarify meaning, not alter history.

''My changes had nothing to do with a conspiracy theory,'' he said in a telephone interview from Beaver Creek, Colo. ''My changes were only an attempt to be more precise.''
Here is the critical passage, from the altered document itself. Ford’s inserts are in bold:
A bullet had entered his the back of his neck....
Ford’s change clearly distorted where the bullet had entered. The obvious purpose, Ford’s protestations to the otherwise, is clear: this change was necessary to support the “single bullet theory.” Oswald was supposed to have shot Kennedy in the back from a height. A bullet in Kennedy’s back could not exit the neck except at an upward angle, which would rule out anyone shooting from Oswald’s alleged position.

Here are the clothes Kennedy was wearing, taken from the Warren Commission’s exhibits. The bullet holes are clearly visible in the first, and clearly indicated in the second. See for yourself how dishonest Ford’s change was:

Ford’s big lie allowed Americans to believe that the appropriate criminal had been apprehended, that all was well in their country, when the truth was that our vote had been stolen. A man we elected had been removed by private coup. (An aide to President Lyndon B. Johnson reported to the FBI that LBJ suspected the CIA was behind the plot. See “LBJ Reportedly Suspected CIA Link in JFK's Death,” Washington Post, December 13, 1977.)

Why do I say Ford lied? Couldn’t Ford have been naive enough to believe what he had been told? I think the answer to that lies in an outburst Ford made in 1974, a shocking statement that the press either missed the implications of or deliberately twisted to suit a more palatable explanation. To explain Ford’s statement, and the significance thereof, we have to first wend our way through the Watergate era.

The real story of Watergate has never been fully told, although in my opinion, Jim Hougan’s excellent book Secret Agenda comes closest. He opens by noting that E. Howard Hunt was, at the time of Watergate, on his third retirement from the CIA, implying, of course, that Hunt never really left the agency. (On a side note -– I find great irony in E. Howard Hunt being called a “plumber” because, as Richard Helms once described, the first step in coup plotting was “putting in the plumbing.” Hunt was ostensibly brought to the White House to plug leaks, hence the overt meaning of the term plumber. But I believe he was working under Helms’ definition as well.)

Hougan also describes how improbable it was that James McCord, a 40-year veteran of CIA’s Office of Security -– the in-house police agency that taps, follows, and spies on CIA employees to ensure sure they don’t spill agency secrets -- got caught). McCord was a skilled break-in artist, and a skilled placer of taps. So it’s inconceivable that he bungled the Watergate burglary unless he planned on getting the operatives caught. McCord’s secretary told the FBI McCord seemed to be saying a permanent goodbye to her when he left the office that day, thanking her for all her work over the years, a very strange thing to say if just going home for the night. McCord’s secretary also noted that he kept a picture of Richard Helms on his desk at the Republican National Committee, his ostensible employer that was personally inscribed by Helms to McCord.

To me, the most interesting and least discussed piece of the Watergate puzzle is the piece related to Howard Hughes. By the early sixties, the Hughes corporation was already enmeshed with the CIA. Hughes had selected Robert Maheu to run his organization. Maheu had been a CIA asset for years, and was their chosen “go-to” guy when the Agency decided to kill Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

Howard Hughes knew before President John Kennedy and his brother Robert Kennedy did that the CIA was trying to kill Castro. Hughes found out when Maheu had to ask for a leave of absence to run the operation.

The Kennedy brothers found out about the plots shortly after the FBI uncovered a bugging operation in Las Vegas. Sam Giancana, one of the Mafia members hired to kill Castro, had suspected his mistress Phyllis McGuire was having an affair with Dan Rowan (of the Rowan and Martin “Laugh-In” comedy team). Maheu, as a favor to Giancana, hired a Florida detective to bug Rowan’s hotel room. But the detective left his equipment in plain sight, and the maid reported the equipment to the police, who contacted the FBI. The CIA admitted to Hoover that CIA was directly involved in the bugging and convinced Hoover not to further investigate. The CIA then told Robert Kennedy about the CIA’s use of Giancana in a plot to kill Castro. Given that Robert Kennedy had faced Giancana down in a courtroom (where he famously accused Giancana of giggling like a little girl), trying to prosecute him for Mafia activities, Robert was understandably furious at CIA for using the Mob, and furious at them trying to kill Castro.

In its own Inspector General Report, the CIA reported that while they told Kennedy about the plots that had already concluded, they never divulged that additional plots that were continuing. I’ll do a separate post on the Castro plots at some point -– but my conclusion will be the same as that in the CIA’s internal study, which no proponent of the Kennedys' guilt in this matter ever cites: the Kennedys never approved any plots to kill Castro. The CIA, by its own admission, had no executive authority for these plots.

In 1968, John Meier, who worked for Howard Hughes, learned inadvertently of the CIA’s relationship with Howard Hughes when Maheu told Meier that Michael Merhage was going to be working with them in South America, asking Meier to help Merhage with contacts in Ecuador. Meier did, not knowing that Merhage was not really a Hughes employee, but a CIA employee using Hughes’ company for cover. Merhage assumed that Meier was himself CIA, and spoke openly to Meier about the Agency’s interest. (Merhage was so bumbling that one of Meier’s Ecuadoran contacts told Meier they had figured Merhage for an agent right away.)

Merhage’s next bumble takes us right back to the primary subject of this article. Thinking Meier was a CIA man like himself, Merhage gave Meier a directive from the CIA to Hughes dated September 2, 1968, containing a list of American politicians the CIA wanted funded through the Hughes corporation. Among the names Strom Thurmond, Wallace Bennett, Paul Laxalt, James Eastland, and many others, was the name Gerald R. Ford. The CIA wanted Hughes to give money to Ford’s campaign. (Source: “Hughes, Nixon, and the CIA: The Watergate Conspiracy Woodward and Bernstein Missed,” by Larry DuBois and Laurence Gonzales, Playboy, September, 1976.) Was the agency rewarding Ford for his service on the Warren Commission?

Shortly after the assassination of Bobby Kennedy, John Meier had occasion to speak with J. Edgar Hoover, whom he knew personally. Hoover told Meier that the FBI knew that Maheu had been responsible for the hit on Bobby Kennedy, but that he was powerless against the CIA. He was, of course, powerless, so long as that blackmail photo was out there. (For more on this episode, see my articles on the Robert Kennedy assassination in The Assassinations: Probe Magazine on JFK, MLK, RFK and Malcolm X. And while Meier’s credibility is shaky on some issues, I believe it was more than a coincidence that Robert Maheu called John Meier out of the blue, after ten years, the very day I was en route to see Meier. And when I met Meier, it was to talk about a different topic, not the RFK case, which I had not yet written about. This came up tangentially, which made his assertion all the more credible, I felt.)

Two year later, Hoover cut off all communication between the FBI and the CIA. I know Hoover couldn’t have done that without risking the exposure of that photo unless he had, by then, put together counterblackmail material. I wonder if Hoover’s independence from CIA came, at least in part, from something Hoover could prove about the assassination of Robert Kennedy in 1968.

After Robert Kennedy’s assassination, the CIA’s relationship with the Hughes organization became even closer. Hughes ordered Maheu to seize the moment and hire away Robert Kennedy’s political organization. Hughes, ever Machiavellian, knew that Larry O’ Brien and other top lieutenants from Bobby’s campaign would be jobless. Maheu was tasked with hiring them into the Hughes organization. If the CIA was behind the assassination of Robert Kennedy, what better way to keep Kennedy’s closest associates dependent for their lives and careers on the CIA? In any case, this simple act paved, in many ways, the start of the road to Watergate.

When Nixon took office as President, Hughes ordered Maheu to give Nixon either $100,000 or $1,000,000, depending on whose story you believe. (The official version is $100,000. It makes no difference – both were egregious sums, and both amounts were equally illegal for the President to have accepted.) So when Larry O’Brien, after working for Hughes, moved over to head the Democratic National Committee, Nixon worried very much what O’Brien might know about the Hughes loan.

Terry Lenzner, an investigator for the Watergate committee, told CBS on a Sixty Minutes segment last year that he wrote an entire section for the Watergate report suggesting that Nixon’s concern over the Hughes loan was the main motivation for the break-in at Watergate. Lenzner did not remember being given an explanation as to why this was omitted, but CBS noted speculation that the omission was due to the fact that Republicans and Democrats alike had received similar payoffs. Remember that Gerald Ford himself received money from Hughes. And undoubtedly, the CIA would not have wanted their role in the Hughes corporation to be exposed. Their connection with Hughes was not public knowledge at the time of the Watergate investigation.

In addition, R. Spencer Oliver, who worked at the DNC, was the son of an operative at the Mullen Company, the PR firm for the Hughes organization. So Nixon wanted to know what Oliver knew, as well.

Now, to layer this, because the truth is rarely a simple story, the CIA had its own operations to protect. First of all, the Mullen Company was also a CIA front, and bugging Oliver’s phone might well have revealed that. In addition, Hougan reported Oliver’s phone was used for a sex ring, one that appears to have been used for both satisfying and blackmailing people in high-level governmental positions. Frank Terpil, a longtime CIA employee, detailed one of the jobs of another CIA employee, Ed Wilson, to Hougan:
Historically, one of Wilson’s Agency jobs was to subvert members of both houses [of Congress] by any means necessary. . . . Certain people could be easily coerced by living out their sexual fantasy in the flesh. . . . A remembrance of these occasions [was] permanently recorded via selected cameras, I’m sure for historical purposes only. The technicians in charge of the filming . . . [were] TSD [Technical Services Division – a unit of the CIA] personnel. The unwitting porno stars advanced in their political careers, some of [whom] may still be in office. You may now realize the total ineffectiveness of the ‘Watchdog Committee’ assigned to oversee clandestine operations.
While Hougan, as a responsible reporter, notes that Terpil’s allegations are not proven, they map to all I’ve read elsewhere about how the CIA operates, including the story of how the CIA came about, as we saw at the start of this piece. Blackmail has always been the simplest way for the agency to get what it wants. Former CIA Director Richard Helms once said that an agent could not be trusted unless you owned him “body and soul,” a clear implication that the only people who could be trusted to do your bidding were the ones you had blackmail power over. Neither Terpil nor Hougan says anything about the sex ring organized from Oliver’s phone being a CIA operation. But if it was, the Watergate story puzzle pieces all fall neatly into place.

I think Lenzner was right. Nixon’s Chief of Staff H. R. (Bob) Haldeman shared the Hughes theory as well, in his book The Ends of Power:
The Haldeman Theory of the break-in is as follows: I believe Nixon told Colson to get the goods on O’Brien’s connection with Hughes at a time when both of them were infuriated with O’Brien’s success in using the ITT case against them. [A memo from PR person Dita Beard suggested Nixon was taking $400,000 from ITT to support the Republican convention in exchange for the government dropping an anti-trust charge against ITT. E. Howard Hunt, in disguise, went to Beard’s bedside and obtained a confession that the memo was a forgery, but no one in DC believed that. Larry O’Brien made political hay out of the whole episode.]

I believe Colson then passed the word to Hunt who conferred with [G. Gordon] Liddy who decide the taps on O’Brien and Oliver, the other “Hughes” phone, would be their starting point. . . .

I believe that the CIA monitored the Watergate burglars throughout. And that the overwhelming evidence leads to the conclusion that the break-in was deliberately sabotaged.
Whatever the reasons, we know this much. James McCord, the CIA’s longtime expert tap placer and break-in artist, planted a bug that didn’t work on O’Brien’s phone, and taped a door open during the break-in. A security guard found and removed the tape. McCord then re-taped the door. Normally, if you don’t want to get caught, and your tape is removed, you leave. You don’t risk drawing attention by taping the door a second time. But when the guard found the tape again, after having removed it, he did exactly what McCord must have known he would do: he called the police. And a policeman who was very close to someone at the CIA happened to have skipped his own birthday celebration to sit in a plainclothes police car nearby that night, as if just waiting for this particular call. The “burglars,” who were all CIA operatives, were arrested and taken to court. And the rest is history, but not necessarily the one you’ve read.

The FBI started investigating the operation immediately, and reporting back to the White House. Can you imagine Hoover’s glee had he been able to pin the break-in on a bunch of CIA operatives –- James McCord, E. Howard Hunt, Frank Sturgis, and the rest? Perhaps the CIA could have imagined that as well. J. Edgar Hoover died of a heart attack in May of 1972. The break-ins began in June. Carl McNabb, a former CIA agent, now deceased, once told me that James McCord, who he said had the nickname in the Agency of “Zap Man,” had killed Hoover. He said McCord used a poison gas pen that would induce a heart attack and be undetectable. There’s no way to verify that, and I have no idea if that’s true. But given the animosity between the agency and Hoover, and Hoover’s recently won independence from his own blackmail, the only one who could have made the CIA operatives’ lives hell on earth in the aftermath would have been Hoover. By assassination or natural death, Hoover was no longer a problem.

Hoover’s replacement at FBI was Patrick Gray. Gray warned John Dean, White House Counsel, about what needed to be covered up. As H.R. (Bob) Haldeman reported in his book The Ends of Power:
June 23, 1972. . . . I picked up my telephone and was told John Dean was on the line. In an instant my serenity was shattered, as the young voice spoke urgently, beginning with these upsetting words:

“Bob, the DNC break-in is becoming a real problem. They’re out of control over at the Bureau. Gray doesn’t know what the hell to do, as usual.”

“What have they found so far?”

“They traced one check to a contributor named Ken Dahlberg. And apparently the money was laundered out of a Mexican bank, and the FBI has found the bank. If that’s true, they’ll know how the depositors are today.” . . . “But our problem now is to stop the FBI from opening up a whole lot of other things. I don’t know where that money trail is going to lead from that Mexican bank if they start checking.” . . . “They say we have to turn off that investigation of that Mexican bank fast, before they open up everything and spread this mess a lot wider than it is.” . . .

Now I said: “Fine, just tell me the bottom line and keep it brief. Who does the FBI think did the break-in? Have they got a theory?”

Dean said, “Well, that’s the good news. The FBI is convinced it’s the CIA. McCord and the Cubans are all ex-CIA people. Practically everyone who went in there was connected to the agency. And now the FBI finds a Mexican bank involved which also sounds like the CIA.”
Regarding Mexico, As CIA officer David Atlee Phillips wrote in his book The Night Watch, Mexico was, in cold war terms, essentially the Berlin of the West:
The CIA station in Mexico is one of the most important in the world. . . . The reason for a large CIA contingent in Mexico City is to conduct what are known as “third party operations.” . . . [Opportunities for gathering international intelligence] spawned a conglomeration of intelligence officers, agents, spies, provocateurs, and the shadowy figures of those who manage financial and communication nets to support international intrigue. Each intelligence service in Mexico City plays the cat-and-mouse game of attempting to penetrate the other’s organization. In short, the Mexican capital is a hugger-mugger metropolis of cloak-and-dagger conspirators.
No wonder FBI assumed the Mexican bank transaction was likely a CIA operation.

Haldeman read Nixon his notes on the above conversation with John Dean, and Nixon agreed that the only way to stop the FBI’s further investigation would be to have someone high level at CIA call the FBI and ask them to stop. It was during this conversation that Nixon famously mused:
Well, we protected Helms from one hell of a lot of things.
What things, Haldeman wondered? Nixon continued:
[E. Howard] Hunt . . . will uncover a lot things . . . tell them we just feel that it would be detrimental to have this thing go any further. This involves these Cubans, Hunt, and a lot of hanky-panky that we have nothing to do with ourselves.”

I didn’t know what hanky-panky he was talking about, but Nixon wasn’t finished. He gazed out of the window, then turned to me. “When you get the CIA people in say, ‘Look, the problem is that this will open up the whole Bay of Pigs thing again. So they should call the FBI in and for the good of the country don’t go any further into this case. Period.”

Later in a one-o’clock meeting just before I saw [Richard] Helms and [Vernon] Walters, Nixon expanded on this theme: “Tell them that if it gets out, it’s going to make the CIA look bad, it’s going to make Hunt look bad, and it’s likely to blow the whole Bay of Pigs which we think would be very unfortunate for the CIA.”

Dean had suggested a blatant political move by calling in the CIA -— now Nixon showed how much more astute he was by throwing a national security blanket over the same suggestion.
By giving this direction, Nixon sealed his fate on two counts. He was suggesting an obstruction of justice, and he was attempting to blackmail the CIA with some information. The latter action guaranteed that the former action would get exposed.

Haldeman’s account of his attempt to do as Nixon asked bears repeating:
John Ehrlichman and I were to meet the CIA officials. I went to John’s office to await their arrival. “Guess what,” I said to John. “It’s Bay of Pigs time again.”

“The man will never quit,” Ehrlichman said.

He thought about it and added, “Well, the President has a point. It will put pressure on Helms. But this time you’re going to push the red button, not me. I’ve had it on that route.”
Haldeman pressed the “red button,” and told Helms what he had been asked. The famously cool and composed Helms suddenly lost it:
“The President asked me to tell you this entire affair may be connected to the Bay of Pigs, and if it opens up, the Bay of Pigs may be blown." . . .

Turmoil in the room, Helms gripping the arms of his chair leaning forward and shouting, “The Bay of Pigs had nothing to do with this. I have no concern about the Bay of Pigs.”

Silence. I just sat there. I was absolutely shocked by Helms’ violent reaction. Again I wondered, what was such dynamite in the Bay of Pigs story?
Helms slowly settled, and acquiesced, to a degree. Walters later testified that Helms told him to remind Gray of the informal agreement between FBI and CIA to notify each other if their operations and investigations ran into the business of the other. And the seeds of Nixon’s ouster had been planted.

Haldeman came to believe that the reference to the Bay of Pigs was some sort of code for the Kennedy assassination. He read in Daniel Schorr’s book Clearing the Air of the plots against Castro, and wondered, as Schorr did, if those plots might have led, indirectly, to Kennedy’s own assassination. Haldeman even suggested to Nixon that, now that they were in office and had the power to do so, they should get to the bottom of who really killed Kennedy. Nixon rejected this idea.

Haldeman speculated about what Nixon knew about the assassination, and how he might have found out what he knew:
In a chilling parallel to their cover-up at Watergate, the CIA literally erased any connection between Kennedy’s assassination and the CIA. No mention of the Castro assassination attempt was made to the Warren Commission by CIA representatives. In fact, Counterintelligence Chief James Angleton of the CIA called Bill Sullivan of the FBI and rehearsed the questions answer answers they would give to the Warren Commission investigators, such as these samples:

Q. Was Oswald an agent of the CIA?

A. No.

Q. Does the CIA have any evidence showing that a conspiracy existed to assassinate Kennedy?

A. No.

And here’s what I find most interesting: Bill Sullivan, the FBI man that the CIA called at the time, was Nixon’s highest-ranking loyal friend at the FBI (in the Watergate crisis. He would risk J. Edgar Hoover’s anger by taking the 1969 FBI wiretap transcripts ordered by Nixon and delivering them to Robert Mardian, a Mitchell crony, for safekeeping).

It’s possible that Nixon learned from Sullivan something about the earlier CIA cover-up by Helms. And when Nixon said, “It’s likely to blow the whole Bay of Pigs” he might have been reminding Helms, not so gently, of the cover-up of the CIA assassination attempts on the hero of the Bay of Pigs, Fidel Castro -- a CIA operation that may have triggered the Kennedy tragedy which Helms desperately wanted to hide.
Angleton, of all people, knew that Oswald did indeed have a relationship with the CIA. He had a very curious pre-assassination file on Oswald. Rather than keeping Oswald’s file in the general Counterintelligence department where, one could conceivably argue, it could have innocently belonged, Angleton instead secreted the file to his tiny mole-hunting group, the Special Investigations Group, CI/SIG. There, only a handful of people would recognize the name Lee Oswald before the assassination. SIG was so secretive it was the part of Angleton’s empire designated to work with “Staff D,” Bill Harvey’s “Executive Action” (assassination) unit in CIA. Oswald’s file shows that not only was the CIA keeping track of Oswald, they were lying about him to other agencies before Kennedy was assassinated. For these and many other reasons I detailed in my long two-part article on Angleton in the book The Assassinations, I believe Angleton knew he was lying to the Warren Commission. The fact that he felt the need to coordinate with Sullivan suggests strongly that Sullivan knew the truth as well.

Whatever the meaning of the Bay of Pigs reference, the conversations of June 23, 1972, produced the “smoking gun tape,” showing Nixon was attempting to stop the wheels of justice, or specifically, the Justice Department’s Federal Bureau of Investigation, from pursuing the truth. Had that tape never surfaced, Watergate would have gone down in the history books the way it was first reported: as a “third rate burglary.”

So what happened to bring Nixon’s actions to light? Intrepid investigative reporting? In the fairy tale version of America, we all want to believe that. But as ever, the truth is a bit darker.

First, where did the information about the Watergate break-in come from? And second, how did it get reported in a way that was favorable to the CIA?

Haldeman worried about reports of CIA plants in the White House:
On July 10, 1975, Chairman Carl Nedzi of the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee released an Inspector-General’s Report in which the CIA admitted there was a “practice of detailing CIA employees to the White House and various government agencies.” The IG Report revealed there were CIA agents in “intimate components in the Office of the President.”

Domestic CIA plants are bad enough, but in “intimate components of the office of the President?”

I was “intimate,” Ehrlichman was. [Henry] Kissinger was. Who else was intimate in an official sense? Alex Butterfield, who sat right outside the President’s office? (Rose Mary Woods to this day believes he was a CIA plant. . . .)

I leave the question to rest as a part of a great mystery the significance of which may one day overshadow even Watergate: the manipulation of this nation by members of an intelligence agency.
Enter Bob Woodward. A former ONI operative, a staunch conservative, and a former intelligence briefer, Woodward was the perfect person for Washington Post chief and CIA-asset Ben Bradlee to assign to Watergate. Woodward would eventually report data directly from Robert Bennett of the Mullen Company (Hughes’ PR firm, E. Howard Hunt’s ostensible employer, and a CIA front), and Bennett reported back to his CIA handler that Woodward was “suitably grateful” for the information and ran the information without exposing Bennett as the source. If Mark Felt was Deep Throat, he was not Woodward’s only source.

Carl Bernstein was added to the team because Woodward was not, at that time, deemed a compelling writer. Bernstein later went on to write the single best exposé that has ever been done of the CIA’s control of the media (Rolling Stone, October, 1977). I’m guessing Bernstein figured out how he and Woodward had been manipulated, and that his article was, to some degree, an apology to us for having been so gullible during the Watergate reporting.

Nixon grew increasingly dissatisfied with “Helms’ careful distancing of the agency from Watergate, his refusal to allow it to be used in the cover-up,” according to William Colby in his book Honorable Men: My Life in the CIA

At this point, the dominos started to fall.

James McCord wrote a CIA officer, from prison, saying if Helms was fired, “every tree in the forest would fall.”

Nixon called Helms to Camp David in December of 1972 and essentially fired him from his role as CIA director, encouraging him to accept instead an appointment as Ambassador to Iran. (Oddly enough, the Shah and Helms had attended prep school together in Switzerland.)

After Helms was ousted, his second-in-command, Thomas Karamessines, resigned in protest. Nixon then appointed James Schlesinger to head the agency, who in turn appointed William Colby head of the “black ops” part of the CIA, the Directorate of Plans, by then called the Directorate of Operations.

Schlesinger saw right away how huge a problem the whole Watergate episode represented for the Agency. The CIA was forbidden, by its charter, to operate domestically. Spying on Americans was absolutely illegal, and what else were E. Howard Hunt and the Watergate burglars doing but exactly that? Schlesinger knew, from his longtime experience in government, that these activities were likely the tip of the iceberg. So on May 9, 1973 Schlesinger sent a memo to all CIA employees asking that anyone with any knowledge of illegal activities should come forward:
. . . All CIA employees should understand my attitude on this type of issue. I shall do everything in my power to confine CIA activities to those that fall within a strict interpretation of its legislative charter. I take this position because I am determined that the law shall be respected and because this is the best way to foster the legitimate and necessary contributions we in CIA can make to the national security of the United States. . . .

[I request that] all the senior operating officials of this Agency [report] to me immediately on any activities now going on, or that have gone on in the past, which might be construed to be outside the legislative charter of this Agency.
The resulting report prepared from responses came to be known as “the family jewels.” Colby preferred to call them, more accurately, “our skeletons in the closet." And as proof that some secrets can be kept forever, in 2005, former Senator Gary Hart, who had actually seen this report, says most of what’s in there has never reached the public.

The very day Schlesinger sent his request, Alexander Haig, the new White House Chief of Staff now that Haldeman had been forced out, called Bill Colby and asked if Colby would take over at CIA.

Meanwhile, in the spring of 1973, after the Watergate burglars were convicted and media coverage was dwindling, McCord followed through on his threat. He nearly single-handedly reopened the case when he wrote Judge Sirica a letter saying that the defendants had confessed under pressure from higher ups, and that “perjury had been committed.”

In June, 1973 John Dean said Nixon had been in on the cover-up, and suggested Nixon may have made tapes of key conversations.

In July of 1973, Alexander Butterfield (who did, as Nixon’s secretary suspected, have ties to the CIA) confirmed the presence of a White House taping system.

Vice President Spiro T. Agnew was forced out of office by an investigation into his money in his former role as Governor of Maryland revealed tax evasion and other unseemly activities. When Agnew stepped down, Nixon picked former Warren Commission member Gerald Ford to be his Vice President. I can’t help but wonder who suggested Ford, initially.

By August of 1974, Nixon saw that he would indeed be impeached, and stepped down to avoid that embarrassment, leaving Ford as President. Ford then recommended Nelson Rockefeller, son of the infamous John D. Rockefeller who built the Standard Oil empire, to be Vice President. Rockefeller’s top competitor for the post was George H. W. Bush.

In September, 1974, Ford gave us a peek into his character, when he spoke at a press conference regarding evidence that the CIA, at the request of the Nixon administration, had helped overthrow the democratically elected Salvador Allende in Chile, installing instead the fascist dictator General Augusto Pinochet Ugarte.

Asked under what international law the US had the right to attempt to destabilize the constitutionally elected government of another country, Ford responded:
I am not going to pass judgment on whether it is permitted or authorized under international law. It is a recognized fact that historically as well as presently, such actions are taken in the best interest of the countries involved. (Source: Time, September 30, 1974.)
As Time magazine noted:
That blunt response by President Gerald Ford at his press conference last week was either remarkably careless or remarkably candid. It left the troubling impression, which the Administration afterward did nothing to dispel, that the U.S. feels free to subvert another government whenever it suits American policy. In an era of détente with the Soviet Union and improving relations with China, Ford's words seemed to represent an anachronistic, cold-war view of national security reminiscent of the 1950s. Complained Democratic Senator Frank Church of Idaho with considerable hyperbole: "[It is] tantamount to saying that we respect no law save the law of the jungle." (Source: Ibid.)
Ford’s comments bothered commentators:
[T]here was an unsettlingly disingenuous quality to Ford's words. Was the intent of the Chilean operation really to preserve freedom of the press and opposition political parties, as he insisted, or simply to undermine Allende? In this context, it is worth noting that after the coup, the U.S. did not object when the new military regime banned all political parties and shut down all opposition publications.

There were other disquieting notes in the statement. Ford described the operation as being "in the best interest of the people of Chile" -- a throwback to an America-knows-what's-best-for-you line of years past that was particularly offensive to many countries. In addition, Ford did not make the small but crucial distinction between intelligence gathering and covert operations, which led some critics to suspect that he was not wholly familiar with the subject.

. . . West Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung predicted that "the disconcerting naiveté with which President Ford enunciated his secret service philosophy" would have a "provocative" effect. (Source: Ibid.)
By December, the family jewels were bubbling just under the surface. Schlesinger had learned of Operation CHAOS – Angleton’s large, domestic, and very illegal domestic spying operation, and told Angleton, “this thing is not only breaking the law, but we’re getting nothing out of it.” (See Cold Warrior, by Tom Mangold.) Despite both fearing and respecting Angleton, Schlesinger put an instant end of the program. But when the baton was passed to Colby, the issue didn’t end there.

Colby was concerned that Angleton had sole responsibility with liaison with the Mossad, the Israeli intelligence force, and wanted to take that from Angleton. Angleton argued the relationships were too sensitive to give up. Colby was afraid to do direct battle with Angleton at this point, so he chipped away at his authority around the edges, cancelling programs, defunding some of Angleton’s favorite assets such as Jay Lovestone. Colby urged Angleton to retire several times, but Angleton refused.

Next, Colby either gave to Sy Hersh or confirmed to Sy Hersh, depending on whose account you believe, some of the information about the CIA’s domestic activities that Angleton had been running. Hersh’s story went off like a bomb on the front page of the New York Times on December 22, 1974. There were follow-up stories for the next several days. Colby used Hersh’s story as the opportunity to get rid of Angleton.

And that’s when Ford stabbed Democracy in the heart for a second time.

President Ford learned about the CIA’s illegal activities while in Vail. He had called Bill Colby at CIA and asked to be briefed immediately. Colby forwarded to Ford, via Kissinger, the “family jewels” report. When Ford returned to DC on January 3, 1975, he called Colby over to the White House for a private meeting. The next day, he announced he was forming a “blue ribbon” commission to be headed by Vice President Nelson Rockefeller that would conduct an inquiry into the CIA’s domestic activities. As Daniel Schorr noted in his book Clearing the Air:
The administration seemed anxious to seize the initiative, perhaps to head off a potentially more troublesome congressional investigation -- a standard defensive tactic.
Having served on the Warren Commission, Ford must have known what he was doing would produce more cover-up than revelation. Indeed, when the appointments were made, the press yelled immediately that the fix was in. The other Commission members were John T. Connor, C. Douglas Dillon, Erwin N. Griswold, Lane Kirkland, Lyman L. Lemnitzer, Ronald Reagan, and Edgar F. Shannon, Jr. Ford’s fellow Warren Commission member David W. Belin was given the role of Executive Director. The formal Commission title was “U.S. President's Commission on CIA activities within the United States.” It’s important to remember, as you read what follows, that the focus of the commission was on CIA activities within the United States.

At a White House luncheon for New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger and its editors, Ford made a blunder so egregious it launched four separate investigations of the CIA:
Toward the end of the conversation, the subject of the Rockefeller commission came up. One editor, noting the predominantly conservative and defense-oriented membership of the commission, asked what credibility it would have. President Ford explained that he needed trustworthy citizens who would not stray from the narrow confines of their mission because they might come upon matters that would damage the national interests and blacken the reputation of every President since Truman.

“Like what?” asked the irrepressible Times managing editor, A. M. Rosenthal.

“Like assassinations!” President Ford shot back, quickly adding, “That’s off the record!”

The Times executives went into a huddle in their Washington office and agreed, after a spirited argument, to keep the President’s confidence.
This secret, however, got out, and word got around that Ford had been concerned about revealing assassinations. Daniel Schorr went to Colby and asked what was meant. Colby said Ford’s comments referred to foreign assassination plots, and Schorr satisfied himself that’s what Ford was referring to.

It bears repeating that the Rockefeller commission was only to look into the CIA’s domestic activities. If that were the case, why should Ford worry that an investigation of the CIA domestic activities would reveal information about foreign assassinations? Of course, the unasked question was this: Was there some domestic assassination the CIA have been involved with that Ford knew about? As a member of the Warren Commission, was Ford worried about exposing the CIA’s role in the Kennedy assassination? I’ve been disappointed, over the years, that most commentators on the commission never point out this other probable explanation for his strange outburst. To me, it seems likely Ford feared the exposure of a domestic assassination conspiracy. I believe strongly that Bill Colby revealed details of foreign assassination attempts in order to draw attention away from the one assassination that should have been on everyone’s mind after Ford’s outburst: the assassination of President Kennedy.

In terms of foreign assassination possibilities, Schorr’s instincts on this matter are interesting. “Hammerskjold?” Schorr asked. (See my article “Midnight in the Congo” for details of Hammerskjold’s mysterious plane crash, and the CIA operative who claimed responsibility for it to government officials.) “Lumumba?” Schorr asked next. (See my same article, as I also talk about a CIA officer’s published admission that he drove around with Lumumba in the trunk of his car for a few days, wondering what to do with his body.) Schorr appears to have been on the right track, in terms of CIA operations internationally. Naturally, however, Colby refused to confirm or deny any of Schorr’s suspicions.

The House and Senate, convinced that the Rockefeller Commission would be little more than a whitewash, convened their own bodies to investigate the CIA’s activities. The House’s official body was called the U.S. House Select Committee on Intelligence, and was chaired by Congressman Otis Pike. It was informally called the Pike Committee. The Senate’s committee was called the U.S. Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, but was informally known as the Church Committee, because its leader was Senator Frank Church.

Ironically, Ford’s Rockefeller Commission did end up having to deal with the Kennedy assassination after all. During the course of their investigation, some researchers on the JFK case insisted that the famous “tramp photos” showed E. Howard Hunt and Frank Sturgis in Dealey Plaza at the time of the Kennedy assassination. Given the high visibility of Hunt and Sturgis from the recently concluded Watergate investigation, the Rockefeller Commission felt it necessary to devote a portion of their report to refuting these allegations. But in the course of that tiny portion of their investigation, others had stepped forward with additional allegations, such as Jack Ruby being tied to the CIA, which would give new importance to his role in killing Oswald. The Rockefeller report published a very limited refutation of anything at variance with the findings of the Warren Commission. And given that Warren Commissioner Ford had appointed them, had they concluded otherwise, does anyone really think they would have revealed that?

When the Castro assassination plots were exposed, there were public cries for a reinvestigation of the Kennedy assassination. Schorr expressed what columnist Jack Anderson and others were also voicing at the time:
It would be comforting to know that Oswald acted on his own -- not as part of some dark left-wing or right-wing plot to strike down a President. It is less comforting to realize that the chain of events may have started with the reckless plotting of the CIA against Castro, perhaps in pursuit of what it thought to be Kennedy’s aim. An arrow launched into the air to kill a foreign leader may well have fallen back to kill our own.
The findings of the Rockefeller Commission and the Church Committee never fully satisfied the public on the JFK assassination, and after Geraldo Rivera aired the Zapruder film for the first time on national television, in 1975, the snowball of public interest resulted in the creation of the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA), which investigated the CIA yet a fourth time, among other possible suspects. The committee’s report concluded that John Kennedy was probably killed by a conspiracy.

It’s ironic how Ford bookends the investigations of the Kennedy assassination. The first investigation, the Warren Commission, could not have pushed the lone nut conclusion without his crucial edits. The last investigation, the HSCA, may never have existed had it not been for Ford’s bumbling.

Bottom line, Ford was not bothered, it appears, by coups and killings. He authorized them, essentially, when he allowed Kissinger to give Indonesian leader Suharto the greenlight to take over East Timor, an act which resulted in from 60,000 to 100,000 people being killed. As the National Security Archives concluded, Ford’s words telling Suharto the US would not oppose an invasion were “unambiguous:”
We will understand and will not press you on the issue. We understand the problem and the intentions you have.
Ford was a nice man, from what I hear. He was certainly more of a true conservative than a neocon. He was not our worst president. But as the brilliant Stephen Sondheim notes in his musical “Into the Woods:”
“Nice” is different than “good.”
Ford was no healer. By helping to obscure our real history, he helped bring our democracy to its knees. By condoning and institutionalizing the mechanism of cover-up, Ford helped make possible a President unaccountable to the law, and a war based entirely on lies, because our leaders and the press are so conditioned now not to challenge the government. And although Ford opposed the Iraq war himself, characteristically, he chose silence over truth, and loyalty to his party over loyalty to his people. That is the Ford I remember. That is the Ford I cannot mourn. He was a nice man. But he was not a good man.


Blogger Unknown said...

Good work, Lisa! I believe you have put the matter in wholly truthful terms. That was amazing about Ford's edits.
The sad thing is that "nice" people in some ways do more harm than actually evil ones - by not loving truth and valuing sufficiently the difference between truth and falsehood. They set up a long slide into mediocrity and not facing problems.
Ford's withholding of critique of Bush's Iraq war until after his death is another example of how we have acquired bad habits - refusing to confront real issues and to take the heat for them, refuse to take clear stands that can create clear corners, turns- create the future. An example would be: what if Clinton had resigned and Gore had become President? We might have been able to pick ourselves up out decades of bad habits and turn a corner.
It happened in Russia-Yeltsin resigned and that is what allowed Putin to come in- who I believe is a stateman, a very shrewd and patriotic leader.
Unlike what we have - as far as I can tell, an entrenched class of criminals and opportunists.
Thanks, Lisa, for your great work.
Best wishes-

1:40 PM  
Blogger Real History Lisa said...

Thanks, Caryl. I've been stewing this information over many years. I'm glad you appreciate it.

And I think that distinction between 'nice' and 'good' is so important, both on the personal level and on the international level. Of course, we'd like people to be both. But if I had to choose between leaders who were "nice" versus leaders who were "good" I'd definitely choose the latter.

Interesting thought re if Clinton had resigned. Sigh, missed opportunities. I wonder too what would have happened had the people woken up and taken to the streets to protest the stealing of the election from Gore in 2000. What a different path we'd be on, by now.

Anyway - thanks. I remember you from earlier comments. Thanks for popping back again!

1:56 PM  
Blogger Real History Lisa said...

I forget to mention that Ford vetoed the Freedom of Information Act as well. He was no friend of Real History.

7:09 PM  
Blogger Dawn Meredith said...

Too bad the Operation Mockingbird press is turning him into a hero. Typical though. His forgery on the Warren Commission should have landed him in prison. But it put him in the White House instead, where he could be trusted, by the CIA.

Great article Lisa.


5:25 AM  
Blogger Real History Lisa said...

On the other hand, had the press not been so lavish with their one-sided approbations, I would not have been motivated to give up my Christmas vaction to write this.

Ironic, isn't it?

Thanks, Dawn!

6:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


In memoriam: Gerald Ford
[27 december 2006 | 14.50]

It can now be conclusively shown that both Gerald Ford and Arlen Specter (now a senator for Pennsylvania) tampered with the medical evidence of JFK’s autopsy and put these lies in the Warren Report. “On March 19, 1934, Prescott Bush handed Averell Harriman a copy of that day’s New York Times. The Polish government was applying to take over Consolidated Silesian Steel Corporation and Upper Silesian Coal and Steel Company from “German and American interests” because of rampant “mismanagement, excessive borrowing, fictitious bookkeeping and gambling in securities.” The Polish government required the owners of the company, which accounted for over 45% of Poland’s steel production, to pay at least its full share of back taxes. Bush and Harriman would eventually hire attorney John Foster Dulles to help cover up any improprieties that might arise under investigative scrutiny.” Source: “Heir to the Holocaust” by Toby Rogers.

Prescott Bush advised Eisenhower to run for President and then launched Richard Nixon into the Vice Presidency. Subsequently he and a young Congressman named Gerald Ford, were major supporters/financers of Nixon’s presidential campaign against John F. Kennedy. Prescott Bush was an avid JFK opponent and Nixon has always been a puppet for the interests of the Bush family. To read the details click here.

John Foster Dulles was the brother of Allen Dulles, the later CIA director, who was the architect - together with Vice President Richard Nixon and George Bush - of the Bay of Pigs invasion to overthrow Fidel Castro’s Cuba. Allen Dulles was fired by President Kennedy because of the fiasco of the Bay of Pigs. Yet Allen Dulles and Gerald Ford were appointed by Lyndon Johnson to serve on the Warren Commission to “investigate” JFK’s death.

In 1976, George H.W. Bush was appointed CIA director by president and former Warren Commission member Gerald Ford at the exact time that newly erected investigative committees were probing the possible role of the CIA into the assassination plots to kill Fidel Castro, Martin Luther King and John F. Kennedy. Bush appoints his old friend from JM/Wave and the Bay of Pigs, Theodore Shackley, as his deputy director for Special Operations, the CIA’s most important division. The above-mentioned investigations are heavily stonewalled by the CIA, holding back crucial documents and witnesses. Nevertheless, the House Select Committee on Assassinations concludes its investigation with a 95% probability that at least 4 shots were fired and Kennedy was killed as a result of a conspiracy, along with the recommendation to the Justice Department to follow up with a further investigation. This recommendation was never honored.

There are numerous indications and allegations that Nixon’s Watergate scandal had a direct connection with the Kennedy assassination and that every time that Nixon is talking about the danger that the “Bay of Pigs thing” might be exposed because of Watergate, he was actually covertly referring to the Kennedy assassination. None of these rumours could solidify, because shortly before his resignation, Nixon replaced Spiro Agnew by Gerald Ford as his vice president, who promptly pardoned him from further prosecution. The allegations of a direct connection with Dallas are certainly not unfounded, considering the incomplete official story and the preponderance of Watergate individuals connected to the Bay of Pigs and the Kennedy assassination. When it became clear that Watergate may not be kept under the lid, Nixon fires and replaces his entire administration with the exception of George H.W. Bush, because “he will do anything for our cause”.

The plot to kill JFK originates from the very same forces that were working together on the Bay of Pigs and the plots to assassinate Fidel Castro: All these forces had their own reasons to recapture Cuba and to hate Kennedy, whom they also blamed for the failure of the Bay of Pigs.

These groups were 1) The CIA with the approval of some of the highest government officials (like Johnson, Hoover, Ford and Nixon) 2) The anti Castro Cuban exiles 3) Mafiabosses Sam Giancana , Carlos Marcello and Santos Trafficante and 4) wealthy industrialists and Texan oilmen like H.L. Hunt, Syd Richardson and Clint Murchison. George H.W. Bush has documented connections to all four groups.

Sam Giancana states in his biography that he knew Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon personally (to read the page click here), as well as the aforementioned oil millionaires and George Demohrenshildt (to read the page click here), and that they planned the JFK assassination together. James Files, the confessed grassy knoll assassin who fired the fatal shot into JFK’s head, did not only work for Sam Giancana, but was recruited in the CIA to train Cuban exiles for the Bay of Pigs, by none other than David Atlee Phillips. He claims that one of his later senior supervisors in covert operations was George H.W. Bush. Lyndon Johnson told his mistress Madeline Brown: “It was the CIA and the Oilboys”. Bush was both! In addition he was up to his neck in the Bay of Pigs and the anti Castro movement. What is the chance he could not have known about the plot?

10:51 AM  
Blogger walkshills said...

A fine narrative which fills in some of the many blanks in our secret history.

BTW the first link to the doc Ford changed didn't work for me.

Good luck in churning out all the essential connections.

2:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bless you, Lisa! This is all I've been asking for over a week as I taped news show after news show looking for any mention of the part he played in allowing the SBT take hold in the American psyche.

Somewhere in my library of video tapes I have him admitting that he changed the position of the back enry wound.

I thought Larry King Live was finally going to do it last night, but when the Warren Commission came up, the imbecile who answered King's question about Ford' part in it gave an inane response that never addressed this issue.

4:44 PM  
Blogger starviego said...

C. Douglas Dillon was on the Rockefeller Commission? I didn't know that. As the head of the Treasury Department and thus the Secret Service, the one that performed so admirably at Dealey Plaza, you can be sure he wouldn't have wanted to dig too deep. Great article.

6:49 PM  
Blogger Real History Lisa said...

Thanks, all.

Btw, Walkshills - I did fix that link to the Ford doc. Try it now. That's key, of course!

8:27 PM  
Blogger Real History Lisa said...

And Wim - you know, I think, that I disagree with your assessment.

You list four groups, but the CIA controlled #2 and #3 pretty tightly. It's not like they would have or could have operated on their own. And although much rumored, much hinted at, most of the evidence linking the right wing industrialists is pretty thin, based more on innuendo than evidence.

And I have to say - I don't consider Mob biographies scholarly sources that we should take seriously! That's my beef with researchers. When you mix good sources and bad sources, you pollute the evidence, making it that much harder for others to figure out what happened. (Some suggest that is exactly the point.)

Many of Mafia were in trouble with the government somewhere along the way, and said/wrote whatever was expedient. To cite that as a reliable is simply not appropriate. To use it as a lead is a different matter. Nearly anything can be a lead. But that's not really evidence, much less proof, of anything.

8:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"When Agnew stepped down, Nixon picked former Warren Commission member Gerald Ford to be his Vice President. I can’t help but wonder who suggested Ford, initially."

I listened to Stanley Kutler's "Abuse of Power - The New Nixon Tapes" Not a very authoritative work I am sure, but I remember a passage of one of the conversations that included GHW Bush, then the RNC Chairman, where I believe he suggested Ford to Nixon as an Agnew replacement.

5:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for your nice post!

6:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

nice post

10:43 PM  
Anonymous Peter Venkman said...


Great summary. What do you make of Colby's mysterious death? David Atlee Phillips wrote that he told Colby that many people in the Agency were sure that Colby had revealed too much, although DAP claimed he agreed with Colby.
Colby himself validated your thesis in DAP's book, admitting that ("stonewalling) wouldn't have worked. . . The bad secrets were going to come out anyhow. There was no other way. For a while I didn't think we were going to make it . . ."

6:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like the [General Magruder].

6:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

great article. great job. These stubborn morons really have created their own internal state. it really seems like the 60's the mafia took over, or CIA and state decided they prefer those operating procedures.

10:47 AM  
Blogger Robert Kirkendall said...

Fascinating and detailed article. I read in the Ronald Reagan biography Dutch by Edmund Morris that Reagan had been offered the Vice Presidency after Agnew's resignation. Reagan turned it down because he still had a year and a half left in his second term as governor of California and was going to run for the presidency in 1976. So when Nixon ended up resigning and Reagan realized that he could have been president if had accepted the VP role he became so upset that he threw a ring of keys at Michael Deaver.
I wonder how different history would have been had Reagan become president sooner instead of later?

11:57 AM  
Blogger Purple muse said...

Absolutely fabulous! What a great article written in such a forthright way. "Polluting the evidence" is a phrase I intend to use often. I only pray that I am not doing the same thing with the many interviews I have completed for the book I'm finishing now. Thank you!

Gayle Nix Jackson

10:41 PM  

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