by Trowbridge H. Ford
Deceptive aka ‘false flag’ operations by real or potential combatants are almost as old as spying itself. While spying was originally intended to find out what other parties, enemies and possible ones, were doing, and planning, it wasn’t long before participants in such matters were trying to fool other parties about what was happening, and who was responsible for it. Assassinations of opponents or potential competitors were almost immediately added to the mix of possible means of gaining the upper hand either at home or abroad.
As human organizations became increasingly bigger, and better organized, culiminating in the formation of states of one sort or another, the opportunities for all these activities, especially ‘false flag’ operations, became even more desireable and effective. Their numerous bureaucracies became targets of choice to infiltrate in order to deceive a real or possible enemy of one’s real aims, methods, and agents. The ideal operations, ‘false flag’ ones, are to make one’s opponents or allies think that a third party is responsible for what you really are doing, so much so that it does your dirty work for you – whether it be taking some kind of action against them, changing their whole strategy for dealing with a problem, or simply getting rid of the biggest impediment to whatever you want.
The great trouble in researching such projects is that they are almost impossible to discover if carried out properly. It is only the failed, imaginary, and minor ones that we are sure about. The Lavon Affair – where Iraeli intelligence was discovered to be behind the bombing of an American consulate in Egypt, not Arabs, thanks to the premature explosion of one of them which permitted the capture of one of Tel Aviv’s agents – certainly is a good example of a failed ‘false flag’ operation. Then the Trojan Horse Affair, the alleged grand daddy of all ‘false flag’ operations, is the leading example of imaginary ones, unless one is prepared to believe what Homer wrote in The Iliad, and Virgil in the Aeneid. It seems much more likely poetic fancy about an earthquake rather than the Trojans being the first suckers of Greeks bearing gifts.
And then there are lesser actions, like the KGB, it seems, blowing up apartments in Russia during the second Chechan War to secure Vladimir Putin’s election, and now the killing of Alexander Litvineniko to secure the election of a hand-picked successor. And then there are all kinds of lesser ‘false flag’ claims about British Q-boat operations during the WWI against German U-boats, how the Japanese managed to instigate expanding wars in the Far East during the 1930s, and Reinhard Heydrich’s dirty tricks at Poland’s expense to start WWII, and Otto Skorzeny’s last-dtich efforts against the Americans in the Battle of the Bulge to keep it going during its last days – what seem to be true but lack the crucial strategic component which would make them the genuine article.
Of course, when there really is a most successful ‘false flag’ operation in progress, its victims are hardly in a position to even recognize it, much less stop it, and do something dramatic in response for fear of the consequences. It’s hard enough to get anyone to change their mind about anything, much less about a matter of national security about which they are charging madly off in the wrong direction to suit the interests of an enemy or an ally of dubious trust. And once the operation is over, the victim is hardly in a position to acknowledge it, much less react in any serious way. The failure is just too embarrassing for the injured state to admit, so it just acts as it were not in any way responsible for what happened, and goes on as if everything is okay. The only exception to this general rule is when a great power is injured by lesser ones – like when Britain, Israel, and France deceived the USA about what was happening in the Suez during the 1956 war, and what gave the USSR the excuse to reciprocate in kind when the Hungarian uprising proved to be more than Moscow had bargained for.
There is also a pervasive scepticism against such operations in the West because their whole rationale runs counter to the basic empiricism one follows in observing, and explaining what happens in the world – logical analysis. While philosphy was slowly ridding itself of ancient pretensions of a religious and mathematical nature by generally following the maxim of Occam’s razor – if something in the world can be explained without asssuming some hypothetical entity of either a secular or sacred nature is somehow responsible for it, then there is no reason for using the assumption – the idea that man, as he developed more and more complicated forms of human existence, would deliberately go to the great lengths to deceive others about what was really going on was an anathema. When one attempts to explain such operations to normal people, they almost invariably give a conditioned reflex of contempt, complaining about another “conspiracy theory”.
Given this seemingly irrational basis of ‘false flag’ operations, it was hardly surprising that the Bolsheviks, a tiny group of revolutionaries in the vast Russian empire, quickly resorted to them when it started collapsing in 1917.´The only hope they had of seizing power was that the Great Powers would so destabilize the country through demands for action, and intrusions when it didn’t happen that they could fill the power vacuums which ensued. It was as if the idealism that political philosophers like Hegel had predicted for Europe after the Napoleonic Wars – what Karl Marx had completely reversed for the benefit of the urban proletariat, and Lenin had tailored to fit the capabilities of his vanguard – had been completely stood on its head again by bands of rootless revolutionaries. Stealth had replaced the dictates of reason.
In this most fluid environment, it was hardly surprising that Feliks Dzerzhinsky’s craftiness soon resulted in the creation of the Cheka, the Bolsheviks’ first intelligence and security agency. Its primary mission was to infiltrate all the enemies, domestic and foreign, and destroy them by any means. During the civil war, it destroyed the many conspiracies that Western governments connived against them. The most important one was the Lockhart plot, organized by the leading British diplomat in Russia, Robert Bruce Lockhart, the War Office’s George Hill, Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) agent Paul Dukes, and the French counsul-general, and led by SIS agent Sidney Reilly, which planned to so infiltrate the Bolshevik leadership that it could assassinate Lenin and others. The plot was given 1,200,000 roubles – a mighty sum that rogue agents could not have cobbled together – to create so many threats against the Soviet leaders that the Cheka would be unable to counter them all.
The plot managed to kill the Cheka head in Petrograd, Trotsky’s friend Moisei Uritsky, on August 17, 1918, and two weeks later Fanny Kaplan nearly killed Lenin. Reilly had given the money to Cheka agent Colonel Eduard Berzin of the Latvian Special Light Artillery Division to whom Lockhart assigned the task of assassinating Lenin, but he used it to finance Lenin’s strategic plans rather than providing for his security. This gave bitter Social Revolutionaries, especially Kaplan, the chance they needed to settle scores with the treacherous Bolsheviks who had siezed power at the expense of the Constituent Assembly that they controlled. Besides, Kaplan was hardly seen as a threat since she could barely see, as the assassination demonstrated when she only managed to hit Lenin in the jaw, and shoulder with three shots fired at almost point blank range – leading conspiracy theorists, like ín the assassination of RFK in LA a half century later, to suspect that another shooter was involved.
Dzerzhinsky responded by rounding up all the conspirators who Berzin and fellow agent Yan Buikis had identified in the ‘envoys’ plot’, and had urged on by false claims of support with the money that the plotters had supplied – what instigated the wounded Lenin to call for a campaign of terror aka the Red Terror against the Bolsheviks’ opponents, starting with Hill’s whole assassination network. From 1918 until 1920, the Cheka used its new powers of summary justice to eliminate much opposition to the Bolshevics, especially among landowning class. It brought home to every individual in the area that they could suffer the same fate as the Tsar’s family met in that cellar in Ekaterinburg if circumstances so required. The culmination of this whole process occurred seven years later when the OGPU, the Cheka’s successor, created so successfully The Trust, ostensibly a White Russian opposition group, to infiltrate pro-monarchist émigré groups, that Reilly, who had escaped the backlash to Lenin’s assassination, was persuaded to meet its leaders back in Russia, while serving in Finland, where he was executed.
While the Bolshevik consolidation of power in the Soviet Union led to a decease in the use of ‘false flag’ operations, though there were still aspects of them during the Great Terror when all of Stalin’s opponents were branded as traitors of some sort, working for foreign powers. As for Berzin, during the Spanish civil war when he was a military intelligence advisor working for the republicans to consolidate power in the hands of the communists, he ended up sounding and acting like a Trotskyist rather than a Trust man in his dealing with Catalan anarchists and syndicalists, leading to his recall to Moscow, and his own execution. And when the Soviets again managed to expand their power during the end of WWII, they did infiltrate agents into more émigré groups, but their efforts proved unnecessary, given the presence of the Red Army and Beria’s security network. Stalin never trusted his immediate subordinates enough to allow real ‘false flag’ operations for fear that he would be their first target.
It was only after Nikita Khrushchev consolidated power after The Boss’s apparent murder that ‘false flag’ efforts became again real possibilities. Once Khrushchev had cut down the KGB, Red Army, and the bureaucracy to size, the Party’s General Secretary thought seriously of using them to expand the communist world, especially after American intelligence agencies started exploring their use in preventing it. To head the KGB after General Ivan Serov was exposed for having stolen the Belgian crown during its Smersh clean-up of Germany after the collapse of the Nazis, he chose Alexander Shelepin, the most ambitious head of the Young Communist League, to be its new director, making the security service the closest instrument of the CPSU. Shelepin saw the post as the ideal stepping stone for becoming the chief himself.
Shelepin’s plan was based upon the comings and goings of ex-Marine Lee Harvey Oswald, of all people! Oswald was an eager beaver, despite all the trashing of him after it proved necessary to make him JFK’s assassin, who avidly studied Russian while in the service in California, got hooked up with the CIA’s U-2 progam while stationed in Japan when it was trying to provoke some kind of showdown with the Soviets, and was “recruited from the military,” former Agency finance officer James Wilcott testified before the House Select Committee on Assassinations in 1978, “for the express purpose of becoming a double agent assignment to the USSR.” (Quoted from Anthony Summers, The Kennedy Conspiracy, p. 129.) Victor Marchetti led Summers to believe that Oswald had been part of the Office of Naval Intelligence’s program to use fake defectors, some three dozen or so, to infiltrate Soviet security services for various purposes.
By the time Oswald arrived in the Soviet Union in October 1959, Washington was still suffering from a “wave of near-hysteria” because the successful orbiting of the earth by Sputnik I two years earlier, fearing that the Soviets would have 10 ICBMs operational by then, and radarman Oswald was to determine if this were true by apparently divulging what the U-2s were capable of doing during their overflights of the USSR. Moreover, William King Harvey, its ‘Executive Action’ director, had apparently had Charles Siragusa aka QJ/WIN of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics recruit Oswald as a covert assassin just in case this most unlikely one – a person with no criminal record, had not worked for any US gov’t agency, and was free to travel as he pleased – could work his way so into Moscow’s confidence that he could bag someone like Shelepin or Nikita himself with little possiblity of blowback at the Agency’s expense.
If this were the case, Harvey’s known effforts to assassinate Fidel Castro by known underworld figures – Antonio de Varona, underlings of Johnny Rosselli, Santos Trafficante, and Sam Giancanna, etc. – could have been mere diversions to protect the identity of more deadly assassins, like Oswald, for more serious game as the destruction of the Cuban leader and its most shaky regime seemed just a matter of time by either some clownish murder or by an anti-Castro invasion. While still a Marine, Oswald showed most unusual interest in the Cuban revolution, writing to the Cuban Embassy, visiting its consulate in LA, and apparently meeting Cuban diplomats on several occasions – so much so that the CIA apparently created a false Cuban file on him . This was all apparently done to fool Cuban counter intelligence about who Oswald, and what his mission was. But events proved it was far better than the Agency and its allies ever expected in getting things straight, starting with Oswald’s mission to Moscow.
Oswald’s two and one/half years in the USSR, especially after the settlement of Gary Powers’ problems, have been brushed over with surprising quickness in almost all accounts, and it seems because he so failed in his mission that Western intelligence agencies suspected that the KGB had made him into a double agent. No sooner had Oswald turned in his passport to the American Embassy in Moscow three weeks after he arrived than the Soviets started treating him as a most prized possession, giving him all he could reasonably expect in Minsk from the workers’ paradise – even a pretty wife with close intelligence connections – in return for all the information he could provide about the Agency’s U-2 flights. He, it seems, told the KGB how the spy plane could be shot down despite its being out of range on any Soviet anti-aircraft weapon, and the Agency arranged for this to happen before Powers left from Pakistan, having the engine ‘flameout’ as he reported while the plane was approaching Sverdlovsk during the May Day celebrations.
The only trouble with the ruse was that Powers survived the crash – what was not supposed to happen since the plane had self-destruct mechanisms if it either crashed or was shot down – and told his Soviet captors all about it in the hope of being exchanged after a deceptive trial – what happened nearly two years later when he was returned to the States for the prized Soviet spy, Colonel Rudolf Abel. The shooting down of the unauthorized flight was just to give substance to the false American claims about a ‘missile gap’, but Powers, of course, then and later in a book, was most willing to make out that Oswald’s information, especially “something of a special interest” (Quoted from Anthony Summers, The Kennedy Conspiracy, p. 174.), was responsible for the Soviets somehow shooting down the U-2. Powers then claimed that Oswald was probably observing his interrogations, and making sugggestions as to how to proceed!
Of course, if this were true, why would Oswald then have asked the American Embassy to return his passport, as he wanted to return home? Oswald would certainly have seen his status in the Soviet Union improved if he had had any serious role in the shooting down of the U-2. The Soviets, though, were not permitting him to go anywhere until the Powers affair was settled for fear that he could ruin it, once back in the States. It was while Oswald was in this limbo that he was suspected by Soviet authorities of spying for Washington, and apparently tried most feebly to commit suicide in the hope of forcing Moscow’s hand about his case. It finally agreed to the Oswalds returning to Lee’s home town, Fort Worth in Texas, with money Uncle Sam provided with no questions asked, as the Cuban Missile Crisis started shaping up. On June 10, 1962, the Presidium of the CPSU voted unaminously in favor of Marshal Malinovsky’s Operation Anadyr, the plan to place nuclear-armed MRBMs and cruise missiles on Castro’s Cuba.
Meanwhile, Shelepin’s KGB learned from a NATO liaison officer within CIA that while the Soviets did not have enough nuclear missiles to destroy all its stragetic bases, the USA had the capability to destroy the Soviet ones with its bomber forces, but the window of opportunity was rapidly closing – what Powers’ U-2 flight indicated preparation for, and what rendered Oswald’s apparent input mere Western deceptions. There were also an uncorroborated claims from Cuba that the USA was planning to overthrow Castro’s regime by an invasion. To counter these threats – what the Red Chinese were making more pointed by supporting calls for wars of national liberation throughout the Third World – Khrushchev declared that Cuba was covered by the Soviet nuclear umbrella, and started shipping modern weapons to the island bridgehead for its defense – what the CIA had helped trigger by blowing up the Belgian arms shipment on La Coubre in Havana harbor the previous March.
Still, the Soviets were having second thoughts about supporting the Cuban revolution since it was so far away, so expensive, and of such little strategic importance to Moscow. While the Soviets could hit America with its ICBMs if war broke out, it was a far more difficult matter to develop communism there, and in the surrounding Americas, especially since the Cuban leaders were so pushy about what was required. The island really only made sense as a pawn in the Cold War struggle, something to be sacrificed for something closer to home, like Berlin, if the Americans decided on some kind of showdown in the Carribbean. Moscow just had to support Castro enough for ideological purposes in order to keep up with the Red Chinese, as the most limited budget the KGB was provided for developing the area demonstrated.
In this context, the growing importance of Moscow’s leading spy in the West, MI5’s Peter Wright, became increasingly relevant to the solution of the Cuban problem. Thanks to his most eye-catching pursuit of alleged moles, spies, and subversives, he was seen as the manager of the necessary countermeasures to keep matters from getting worse, especially after the Bay of Pigs invasion ended up on the rocks despite the fact that the KGB had failed to supply the necessary counterintelligence to easily defeat it. What Wright had told a five-day conference at Fort Meade in 1959 about how to deal with Colonel Grivas in the solving the Cyprus problem – locate him, isolate him, and neutralize him before seeking any political settlement (Spycatcher, p. 154) – became the CIA’s order of the day after Attorney General Robert Kennedy tried to stop all such efforts in October 1961 when Wright repeated the message for Harvey’s benefit. (Ibid., p. 145ff.) Without Castro, the message went, there would be no Cuban revolution.
While Harvey then redoubled his efforts to kill the Cuban leader, KGB Major Anatoli Golitsyn defected to the West in order to strengthen Wright’s efforts. Of course, the Center went through all the motions that it was most detrimental to its operations – stopping apparently all its current ones temporarily, and assassinations outside the Soviet bloc permanently – and openly condemned his apparent treachery, apparently even putting a price on his head. To gain credibility with his debriefers, Golitsyn did provide the names of some spies who had outlived their usefulness, and leads for identifying some of the serials in encrypted messages. “The KGB, Golitsyn insisted, would send a series of bogus defectors in an attempt to discredit him and his sensational ‘revelations’.” (Christopher Andrew, For The President’s Eyes Only, p. 313)
Golitsyn’s most important revelation was that Shelepin was engaged in another Trust aka ‘false flag’ operation to achieve worldwide, communist control. To achieve this result, Department D was created within the KGB’s First Chief Directorate, and it was made operational, once the GRU’s Colonel Popov who had helped Wright in the Berlin Tunnel operation, was exposed, and executed. According to Golitsyn before he defected, Shelepin told him that the KGB had “so many sources at its disposal” (Op. cit, p. 205) that it could effect worldwide what Dzerzhinsky had been able to achieve within the USSR. Clearly, Shelepin was alluding to persons like Labour’s Harold Wilson, Sweden’s Olof Palme, West Germany’s Willy Brandt, and many other alleged ‘false flag’ operatives yet to be determined, but Golitsyn’s critics, even Wright himself, stressed the bona fides of subsequent defectors, like Oleg Penkovsky and Yuri Nosenko, and of the Sino-Soviet split rather than the former.
Given this disinformation campaign, the task for Western counterintelligence was to determine who were the real agents of influence aka those waving false flags, the real defectors, the real scope and objectives of the disinformation campaign, the real leaders and regimes the KGB was seriously trying to eliminate, retain, or obtain, etc. The scene for the showdown was set when the Soviets discovered yet more plots to assassinate the three top Cuban leaders (Operation Condor) – what would trigger an invasion by its Latin American neighbors – and a CIA one to kill both Castro and astronaut Yuri Gagarin when he visited Havana after the assassins had shelled the US naval base at Guantánamo Bay from nearby Cuban territory. Shelepin responded by calling for actions in kind in Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala, followed by Khrushchev ordering the construction of the Berlin Wall to stem the flood of East Germans to the West.
The culmination of this process, of course, was the Cuban Missile Crisis which was far more problematic than recent historians have made out. While Alexandr Fursenko and Timothy Naftali, for example, have claimed in their book, The Secret History of the Cuban Missile Crisis: ‘One Hell of a Gamble’ , it was just that from the Soviet point of view, it could have easily turned out far differently if it had not been for President Kennedy, a somewhat ambiguous player in the process up until then. Moscow was so sure that it had nothing to lose by the confrontation that Shelepin left the KGB for a seat on the Presidium so that he would be in a better position to get it to go along with whatever risks cropped up, leaving the management of the intelligence agency of his protégé Vladimir Semichastny. The question was really how JFK would react to the challenge when he fully realized who was involved, and what was at stake.
Up until then, the President had indicated that he was most desirous of keeping up with Khrushchev for thinking that he was somehow a soft touch. JFK had accepted a summit with the Soviet leader only after he had agreed to the Bay of Pigs operation (code name Zapata) going ahead – what completely ruined the only one they ever had in Vienna. Then Kennedy’s criticism of the Cuban fiasco sounded to many, especially before the assistance by covert American sources was learned, like he was angry for not having done more for the invasion rather than too much. And the assassination plots against the Cuban leadership, and Operation Mongoose to destroy its infra-structure – whatever role the President had in their origin and scope – hardly seemed like policies based upon the continuance of Castro’s regime. Preparing for the military option seemed like the likely result as the ships and munitions aboard them made their way across the Atlantic in Operation Anadyr.
As The Kennedy Tapes show, the President was the most inclined of all officials in the White House Cabinet Room to contain the crisis as much as possible, provided the nuclear.armed MRBMs and tactical ones were somehow taken out of Cuba. In return, the President was willing to give private assurances that the US Jupiter missiles in Turkey would be removed in due course, and that the United States would not invade Cuba – what Khrushchev claimed he had authorized the use of nuclear weapons to prevent – as long as the missiles stayed removed. Once JFK determined what was going on, and what was really at stake in the showdown on an almost hour-by-hour basis, starting on October 16th, he increasingly guided his colleagues about the likely outcome of various strategies, and what should be done. The high point in JFK’s leadership occurred on the 27th when he held back his colleagues who wanted to go to war over the shooting down of a U-2 over the island, and over the continued presence of the obsolete Jupiter missiles in Turkey. The non-invasion pledge, though, would be the undoing of both JFK and Khrushchev.
The non-invasion pledge gave Khrushchev the chance to redeem Anadyr if JFK still backed down on the commitment or was killed because of it – provided that Moscow was not seen as responsible for it. It was because of these possibilities that the Presidium allowed Nikita to stay on as its General Secretary. During the Kennedys’ Christmas holiday in Palm Beach, the President assured the Joint Chiefs of Staff that Castro’s removal was still just a matter of time, and he acted as if it might be quite a short interval when three days later he assured 40,000 Cubans in Miami’s Orange Bowl that the flag of Brigade 2506 which led the Bay of Pigs invasion would soon be returning to “a free Havana”. Many of those cheering had been released from Cuban jails by ransom aid that the President had paid to the Cuban government. Castro had neither forgiven nor forgotten Nitika’s withdrawal of the nuclear-armed missiles from the island without even consulting him.
As time passed, JFK’s commitment to Castro’s overthrow became increasingly doubted. No sooner was Operation Mongoose ended at the end of 1962 than Oswald, now relocated in Dallas with a job that the CIA’s George de Mohrenschildt had arranged, was back in business as a hunter of communist leaders while posing as a rededicated Marxist. The Oswalds sent the employees of the Soviet Embassy in Washington a New Year’s greeting, and Marina became pregnant again, hoping that this would induce Soviet authorities to allow them to return so that the seemingly strapped. isolated couple could take advantage of its benefits. To improve Oswald’s credentials as a hitman, he purchased with unaccounted funds a revolver and a Mannlicher-Carcano rifle, and apparently fired a shot which narrowly missed the retired, rabid, right-wing General Edwin Walker to prove the point – what he apparently commenorated by having Marina take his photo, holding the rifle in his right hand, communist publications in his left, and the revolver strapped at his hip.
In doing all this, Lee was following directions by American intelligence sources who were embroidering upon it. For example, the famous photo, portraying Oswald as a hunter of fascists, which de Mohrenschildt had a copy of, had an inscription on its back in someone else’s handwriting, making fun of the claim. When the car apparently used in mock assassination of General Walker was found near where Officer J. D. Tippitt was killed shortly after the JFK assassination, the photograph of it that Oswald had allegedly taken had the part where the license plate was located removed in order to prevent connecting the assassinations. Then one has to assume that Oswald sent the photograph of his being a hunter of fascists to Soviet and Cuban authorities – it was simply not intended for some family photo album.
If the communist intelligence services were not informed of the double agent’s reactivation as the Kennedy administration slowly tighted the screws on the anti-Castro Cubans and their supporters in America’s covert government committed to Castro’s overthrow, they soon were, as Oswald wrote a letter to the Fair Play for Cuba Committee (FPCC) in New York City which he had been communicating with since his return from the USSR, stating that he publicly protested in Dallas against American threats to the Cuban regime while passing out their pamphlets to passersbys. He requested more of them. Then the Oswalds moved to New Orleans where they was soon occupied in establishing a FPCC branch, and Lee was demonstrating in July on its docks against the presence of the aircraft carrier, USS Wasp. More suspicion was aroused by the fact that its office was actually at the same address as that of Guy Bannister Associates, the ex-Bureau agent who had made the building the home of the Cuban Revolutionary Council (CRC).
By this time, Golitsyn and Wright had so fired up America’s rabid anti-communists in government about the communist menace that they were beginning to think that the Kennedy administration, especially the President, was part of it too. As the so-called Soviet defector ran out of leads of suspected Soviet spies, the CIA’s James Angleton and MI5’s Wright gave him free access to their files to refresh his memory of the KGB’s in the hope he would determine the real Moscow moles in their midst. And MI5 maintained direct contacts with Hoover and Angleton. In making the case, Soviet Naval Attache Yevgeny Ivanov helped out by bedding the necessary hookers, particularly Christine Keeler and Mariella Novotny, in the sex ring Stephen Ward ran for the Security Service – what brought about the resignation of Britain’s War Secretary John Profumo, and later the Macmillan government itself – and Director Hoover amassed a new file on JFK’s sexual exploits, code-named ‘Bowtie’. (N. B. that he usual wordy Wright had nothing essentially to say about either the sex ring or the Dallas shooting.)
JFK had rightly compared the overly loyal Macmillan’s problems with Profumo to his own, claiming:”If they shoot you down, they’ll shoot us down too.” (Quoted from Curt Gentry, J. Edgar Hoover, p. 508.) This use of prostitutes by the Kennedys was far more important than the use of Judith Campbell,
Marilyn Monroe, and other Mafia-connected ‘party girls’ as it called into question their loyalty, not just their honesty and integrity, as the President was now calling for a re-examination of the Cold War, and how it was being conducted.
When Jack’s sexual relations with East German refugee Ellen Rometsch, starting just when Golitsyn defected, and the best JFK ever had, were finally exposed in July – thanks to her gossipping about her Washington relationships – he did everything he could to see that the Bureau hushed up the scandal with the probable communist plant. Then his brother, the Attorney General, ordered the ‘sexy spy’ and her husband deported back to West Germany. Even so, Bobby Baker, at whose Quorum Club she had been consorting, and who had arranged the trists with the President, boasted that he had letters from her which could prove most embarrassing to the Kennedys. And if this wasn’t bad enough, Hoover forced JFK to see that Martin Luther King dropped Jack O’Dell and Stanley Levison from the civil rights movement, claiming that they were following orders from the Kremlin, like former Soviet illegal Colonel Rudolf Abel.
The mere mention of Golitsyn’s claims about the President’s unreliability when it came to national security being apparently true – what could force his resignation if officially investigated – was good enough for his opponents in covert government, especially those in CIA who had worked so hard to eliminate Castro’s Cuba, to start planning his assassination. Harvey, broken by the settlement of the Missile Crisis, and officially relegated to Rome because of his continuing Mafia associations, immediately put together a team to rapidly hypnotize Oswald, who had just asked for new visas for his family to return to the USSR. (John Marks has described the effort in The Search for the ‘Manchurian Candidate’, pp. 202-3, and MKULTRA Subproject 129, Notes, p. 244.)
Langley’s Angleton apparently asked the Mexico City station chief Winston Scott to find a suitable candidate, and it came up with a low-level unnamed agent who the Soviets had apparently doubled, almost assuredly Oswald, and Harvey, it seems, staged the attempt but it failed. A member of Angleton’s Counterintelligence Staff who observed the test claimed that the hypnotic consultant, apparently Dr. George White, assigned to doing the task froze, but it seems much more likely that it didn’t take because of Oswald’s opposition to killing the President despite his desire for the money. The Agency settled for making Lee the programmed “patsy” for the assassination, while Giancana’s underlyings Felix (Milwaukee Phil) Alderisio, Richard Cain, and Chuckie Nicoletti actually did it under Jack Ruby’s direction..
For corroboration of Oswald playing this role, just read about what he – and others conveniently acting for him – did subsequently – see, e. g., Summers, p. 288ff. – and compare it with what Angleton’s agent said about setting up a programmed “patsy” who a hypnotist “…could walk through a series of seemingly unrelated events – a visit to a store, a converseation with a mailman, picking a fight at a political rally. The subject would remember everything that happened to him and be amnesic only for the fact the hypnotist ordered him to do these things. There would be no gaping insonsistency in his life of the sort that can ruin an attempt by a hypnotist to create a second personality. The purpose of this exercise is to leave a cricumstantial trail that will make the authorities think the patsy committed a particular crime. The weakness might well be that the amnesia would not hold up under politce interrogation, but that would not matter if the police did not believe his preposterious story about being hypnotized or if he were shot resisting arrest.” (Quoted from Marks, p. 204, note +.)
With this being the case, it is then essential to determine if the Cubans and Soviets knew about the plot to assassinate JFK, to blame it on Oswald at their expense, and to let it still go ahead as long as they could easily escape blame. The record shows that the CIA was well primed for Lee’s famous September 1963 visit to Mexico City where he and others impersonating him made such a fuss about his immediately getting the necessary visas to go the USSR because of his connection with the FPCC – what so completely turned them off about his going to Moscow via Havana for fear that it was a provocation – while the Agency completely recorded his visits and conversations with their embassies, and duly informed the Bureau of his planned defection. Instead of determining that this was the reinforced work of a programmed “patsy”, both the Warren Commission, and the House Select Committee on Assassinations were only interested in deciding what activities were done by the real Oswald, and what was done by others – what forced both sides of the conflict to change their stories when the plot went so badly awry in Dallas.
Little wonder that Win Scott anticipated Oswald’s trip to the Mexican capital even before he arrived, and made the most of it when he did, thanks apparently to the help of Sylvia Duran, a Mexican woman working in the Cuban consul’s office, and also apparently a CIA informant. She let Oswald run wild in the trying to achieve the impossible result of obtaining an immediate visa to travel to the island within three days, and stay there for a few weeks before moving on to the USSR. During his three attempts, Duran informed the Soviet Embassy of his intentions, and was told that Moscow was still considering the troublemaker’s request for one. Duran then relayed the conversations to her Agency handler, confirming what its taps and bugs had obtained about the meetings from inside the Embassy.
In the Texas city at the same time Oswald was on his way to Mexico City, Silvia Odio was visited by three men, the leader of which, “Leopoldo”, wanted her to translate letters into English, calling for businessmen to support the CRC’s efforts to overthrow Castro. While she declined, two days later he called again requesting help, adding that one of the men with him when he visited was “Leon Oswald”, a ex-Marine marksman who was so unstable that he could kill either the Cuban leader or JFK – who he thought should have been assassinated long ago. While she suspected some kind of plot, she never apparently expressed her concern to her lover, Carlos Lechuga, the Cuban delegate to the UN who was then consulting most secretly with US Special Adviser to the American Ambassador there, William Attwood, about establishing new relations between the two republics. It seems most suspicious that Lechuga never got round to informing Attwood about the visit by “Leon Oswald” to Ms.Odio in the last weeks that JFK had to live.
It didn’t seem as if Khrushchev also had much interest either in JFK keeping alive, though he did admit that he was the best President the Soviets could hope for in the near future. While the General Secretary was hopeful about Kennedy’s speech at the American University about conducting the Cold War in a more sensible fashion – what the signing of the Limited Test-Ban Treaty seemed to augur – he was still most unhappy about Kennedy’s steadfastness on Berlin, as his speech about his being a Berliner demonstrated. Given the contact that a false Oswald had made with the Soviet Embassy in Mexico City when he real one was visiting the Cuban one – especially his dealings with Valeriy Kostikov, allegedly a member of the KGB’s infamous Thirteenth Department, tasked with sabotage and assassinations – his failure to use the just establsihed “hot line” to warn the President of what was afoot, what it was specifically created for dealing with, indicated that he had higher priorities.
JFK sealed his fate when he refused to go along with various tests that the rogue elements in the CIA confronted him with, particularly reviving with Missile Crisis when Captain Glenn Hyde’s U-2 plane was apparently shot down over Cuba in contravention to the terms of its settlement on November 20th, the President preferring to stand up to the personal challenges to his courage by former Vice President Nixon, and Texas Governor John Connally in Dallas. And the President’s enemies, foreign and domestic, would have gotten their way in Cuba and Berlin by his assassination if it had not been for the wounding of the latter in the process, what led him to cry out as he was apparently dying that he had been double crossed. Fortunately, he survived, and he vowed to get those who had done so – what converted the whole conspiracy into a monumental cock-up.
Of course, the first task was to get rid of Oswald, once he had been arrested, thanks to a tip off about his whereabouts shortly after the assassination by those in the plot who were planning to take him to Cuba to implicate Castro in the killing. While Ruby tried to save the connection during the press conference regarding his arrest, correcting the District Attorney when he said that Oswald belonged to the Free Cuba Committee rather than the FPCC – just making matters worse as it threatened to make his dealings with it a matter of the greatest inquiry when the assassination was investigated – he was then forced to assassinate him to make sure that the reason for his becoming a “lone nut” was not determined, as the CIA veteran had explained for Marks about minimizing the weaknesses of using programmed “patsies”. Besides, Oswald had an alibi for the shooting, as he was standing at the base of the TSBD when the President was assassinated, as the photograph of it by AP photographer James Altgens established.
Ruby’s correction of the Dallas DA about Oswald’s association with the FPCC forced Gilberto Lopez to flee across the border to Mexico the next day, and he was flown a few days later on a special flight which only carried himself from Mexico City to Havana. When Langley still called off investigating the Mexico City angle to the assassiantion for obvious self-serving reasons Win Scott went ballistic, writing a memorandum about the whole affair, including apparently a photograph of the real Oswald there and possibly others, which he placed in his safe. When he died, Angleton went out of his way to recover them, and the Agency still refuses to divulge their contents. “There is no justifying such suppression of the facts,” Summers concluded, “and the CIA should, even now, be forced to explain itself to Congress.” (p. 523.)
Khrushchev and Castro showed a similar economy with the truth when it became their turn to explain any possible involvement in the assassination. While immediately assuming that the killing would be followed by a devastating attack upon Cuba, they never explained why they thought they would be blamed, and they protested a bit too loudly about their innocence to be completely believed, given their actions. Nikita, after putting Soviet forces on maximum alert in anticipation of an American attack, refused to go to Washington for JFK’s funeral, and cancelled his plans yet again to visit Castro. It seems that he was not sure that they would accept his claims, and possibly there would be difficult repercussions. Castro was too eager to make light of Oswald’s association with the FPCC, and his being one of his admirers.
It was only after Jim Garrison started talking about a possible right-wing plot that the Soviets induced Yuri Nosenko to defect, so that he could clear up the remaining suspicions about Oswald, and the KGB added to the clamor about those in Dallas and New Orleans who wanted JFK killed. Angleton believed that Nosenko could be stressed enough, tortured, into admitting that the Soviets had killed the President, but he only knew about what Oswald had done for the KGB during his defection to the USSR – essentially nothing. When the Warren Commission so reported, Khrushchev was off the hook too, allowed to retire rather than face some international tribunal for the ‘false flag’ operation which would have changed the world if it had not been for one small oversight – the test firing of Oswald’s alleged rifle which almost killed Connally when Richard Cain fired it at JFK from the sixth floor on the TSBD.
Trowbridge Ford (1929 – 2021) was the son of William Wallace Ford, the father of the US Army’s Grasshoppers.
He attended Phillips Exeter Academy, and Columbia University where he received a Ph.D. in political science after a stint in the Army’s Counter Intelligence Corps as a draftee during the Korean War, and after being discharged, worked as the sports editor and a reporter for the now-defunct Raleigh Times.
Thought academia was the thing for him. He was quite satisfied teaching all kinds of courses about European and American politics while writing his dissertation about an under-appreciated British politician, Henry Brougham, who became the Lord Chancellor of the famous Reform Government (1830-34).
At the same time, Trowbridge became most interested in the role that A. V. Dicey, a famous Oxford legal professor, played in settling the Irish question – another figure that historians didn’t think did much about. It was while he was doing research on the dissertation at the British Museum in London that President Kennedy was assassinated, and it slowly led him to take a dimmer view of academic life, especially when joined by campus protests over the growing Vietnam War. He was fired by two institutions of higher learning because of his protests against the war.
When the Vietnam War finally ended, he got involved in researching the Dallas assassination, and his first serious efforts about it appeared in Tom Valentine’s The National Exchange in 1978 – what Fletcher Prouty thought was quite good, just urging him to go higher in the Agency and the political world for the main culprits.
He slowly started doing this, ultimately deciding to retire early in 1986, planning on finishing his Brougham biography while living in Portugal. While he did this, he had made too many enemies with the White House not to be punished – first by attempts to establish that he maliciously tried to destroy Richard Nixon during Watergate by libeling him, and when he died, DCI George Tenet tried to have me killed by poisoning – what would make his death look like a suicide or a natural one.
As a result of this, once he had finally determined the cause, he moved to Sweden to not only save his skin but also investigate and write about assassinations, covert operations, ‘false flag’ deceptions, preventive wars, weapons development, and their use, etc. He passed away in 2021.
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