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1985: The House Select Committee (2)

Chapter 17

THE FINAL COVER UP: How The CIA Controlled
The House Select Committee On Assassinations



The final report of the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA), issued in 1979, concluded that a conspiracy existed in the assassination of President Kennedy. This news should have delighted hundreds of researchers who had disagreed with the no-conspiracy finding of the Warren Commission. The fact that it did not, is due to the HSCA conspiracy being a simple one, with Lee Harvey Oswald still firing all but one of the shots from the sixth floor window of the Texas School Book Depository Building. The existence of another shooter and another shot, from the grassy knoll, was "proved" by the HSCA, based primarily on acoustical evidence presented in the very last month of their public hearings. Dr. Robert Blakey and Richard Billings, chief counsel and report editor for the HSCA, co-authored, in 1981, a book, The Plot to Kill the President, following the publication of the HSCA's final report. The book claimed that the other shooter and Oswald were part of a Mafia plot to kill JFK.

To over simplify the current (1985) situation, most JFK researchers feel that the American public had been deceived once again. The HSCA reaffirmed all but one of the Warren Commission's findings, including even the famed single bullet theory. The simplified conspiracy finding is now subject to review by the Justice Department and the FBI because it is based on very questionable acoustical evidence. Justice commissioned the so-called Ramsey Panel[1] to review this evidence, in 1981, under the auspices of the National Academy of Sciences. It found no evidence from the acoustics that a grassy knoll shot was fired. So, we are back to no-conspiracy and Oswald being the lone assassin. And even if there was a conspiracy, Blakey claims it involved the Mafia and not the CIA. The HSCA report and all of its volumes of evidence omitting any reference to CIA involvement, concluded that the CIA was not involved, and did not reveal any evidence that the HSCA staff had collected showing that CIA people murdered JFK, and that the CIA has been covering up that fact ever since.

Any followers of CIA activities connected with the JFK assassination, since 1963, must ask the question, how did they do it? How did the CIA turn things completely around from the 1976 days when Henry Gonzalez, Thomas Downing, Richard A. Sprague, Robert Tanenbaum, Cliff Fenton and others were pursuing the truth about the assassination, to essentially the same status as when the Warren Commission finished its work? How did they produce the final cover-up? The answer is that the CIA controlled the HSCA and its investigation and findings from the early part of 1977, forward. The methods they used were as clever and devious as any they had used previously to control the Warren Commission, the Rockefeller Commission, the Garrison Investigation, the Schweiker/Hart Committee[2] and the efforts of independent researchers.

The Situation in 1976

In 1976, Henry Gonzalez, member of the House from Texas, and Thomas Downing from Virginia, were both convinced there was a massive conspiracy in the JFK assassination. They introduced a joint bill in the House which resulted in the formation of the HSCA and an investigation of the JFK and King assassinations. Gonzalez believed there were at least four conspiracies in the assassinations of JFK, MLK, Robert Kennedy and in the attempted assassination of George Wallace. He introduced an original bill to have the House investigate all four and the cover-ups and links among them. Downing was primarily interested in the JFK case and his original bill dealt only with that conspiracy. Mark Lane and his committee members and supporters around the country joined forces with Coretta King and the Black Caucus in the House to pressure Congressmen and Tip O'Neill to investigate the King and John Kennedy assassinations. The net result was a merging of the Gonzalez and Downing bills into a Final HSCA bill dealing with only two of the cases.

In the fall of 1976, with Downing as chairman, the HSCA selected Richard A. Sprague, from the Philadelphia District Attorney's office, to be chief counsel. Sprague hired four professional investigators and criminal lawyers from New York City. They were very good and completely independent of the CIA and FBI, having been trained by one of the best professionals in the business, D.A. Frank Hogan of New York.

Sprague and his JFK team, headed by Bob Tanenbaum, attorney, and Cliff Fenton, chief detective, were going after the real assassins and their bosses, whether this led them to the CIA or FBI or anywhere else. Sprague had already made it clear to the HSCA that he would investigate CIA involvement, and subpoena CIA people, documents and other information, whether classified or not. He had also had meetings with several researchers, including the author, and made it known privately that he was going to use the talent and knowledge of every reliable researcher on a consulting basis. He had contacted Jim Garrison in New Orleans and informed him he would be following up on all of his information and leads. He had initiated an investigation of the CIA activities in Mexico City connected with the JFK assassination, including information supplied to Sprague by the author.[3]

R.A. Sprague and Tanenbaum were aware of the CIA connections of the individuals involved in the JFK assassination in Dealey Plaza, in Mexico City, in New Orleans and in the Florida Keys. They had, in November 1976, exposed the entire HSCA staff to all of the photographic evidence showing these people in Dealey Plaza and elsewhere. They were aware of the assassination planning meetings held by CIA people in Mexico City and knew who the higher level conspirators were. They had initiated searches for the real assassins; Frenchy, William Seymour, Emilio Santana, Jack Lawrence, Fred Lee Crisman, Jim Braden, Jim Hicks, et al. They were planning to interview CIA contract agents, Richard Case Nagell, Harry Dean, Gordon Novel, Ronald Augustinovich, Mary Hope and Guy Gabaldin. Cliff Fenton had been appointed head of a team of investigators to follow up on the New Orleans part of the conspiracy which had included CIA agents and people; Clay Shaw, David Ferrie, Guy Banister, Manuel Garcia Gonzalez, Sergio Arcacha Smith, Gordon Novel and others. They were going to contact people who had attended assassination planning meetings in New Orleans.

From the photographic evidence surrounding the sixth floor window, as well as the grassy knoll, Sprague, Tanenbaum and most of the staff knew Oswald had not fired any shots, knew no shots came from the sixth floor window, and knew there had been shots from the Dal Tex Building and the knoll. They knew the single bullet theory was not true, and knew there had been a well-planned crossfire in Dealey Plaza. They were not planning to waste a lot of time reviewing and rehashing the Dealey Plaza evidence, except as it might lead to the real assassins.

They had set up an investigation in Florida and the Keys, of the evidence and leads developed in 1967 by Garrison. Gaeton Fonzi was in charge of that part of Sprague's team. They were going to check out the people in the CIA that had been running and funding the No Name Key group and other Anti-Castro groups. Seymour, Santana, Manuel Garcia Gonzalez, Jerry Patrick Hemming, Loran Hall, Lawrence Howard, Frenchy and Cubans Rolando Masferrer and Carlos Prio Socarras were to be found and interrogated.

Tanenbaum and his research team had seen the photo collection of Dick Billings from Life Magazine which was, by 1976, deposited in the Georgetown University Library's JFK assassination collection. The No Name Key people and others showing up in Garrison's investigation appeared in these photos with high level CIA agents.

In 1977, Henry Gonzalez, who was far more supportive of a CIA conspiracy idea than Tom Downing, was to become chairman of the HSCA. Downing did not run for re-election in 1976 and was retiring. At that point, December 1976, Gonzalez and Sprague were of the same mind and getting along fine. Researchers were very pleased with the way things were going and believed Sprague would expose the CIA's involvement in the JFK cover up.

The CIA's problem

Given this background of the HSCA status in late 1976, it can easily be seen that the CIA was up against much more serious opposition than it ever had been before in the JFK murder and cover-up. They had ruined Jim Garrison's reputation and curtailed his investigation by various dirty trick means. They had been in solid control of the Warren Commission by the simple expedient of having four of the Commissioners belonging to them; Dulles, Ford, McCloy and Russell. They were also able to kill enough people who knew the truth, to slow down any truth-seeking that might have taken place. They also hid documents, destroyed and altered evidence, lied about other evidence, and bald facedly (Dulles) admitted that they wouldn't tell the President or the Commission if Lee Harvey Oswald had been a CIA agent (which he had been). In the Rockefeller Commission situation they were in complete control of that attempt to reinforce the Warren Commission's findings. And in the Church Committee investigation, the Schweiker/Hart subcommittee on the JFK case was very limited and controlled in what they could do.

But in the new situation, in Richard A. Sprague and his professionals with so much knowledge of the CIA's role in the murder and the cover-up, they faced a crisis. They knew they had to do several things to turn it around and to continue to keep the American public from realizing what was happening. Here is what they had to do:

  1. Get rid of Richard A. Sprague.

  2. Get rid of Henry Gonzalez.

  3. Get rid of Sprague's key men or keep them away from CIA evidence or keep them quiet.

  4. Install their own chief counsel to control the investigation.

  5. Elect a new HSCA chairman who would go along, or who could be fooled.

  6. Cut off all Sprague's investigations of CIA people. Make sure none of the people were found or bury any testimony that had already been found, or murder CIA people who might talk.

  7. Keep the committee members from knowing what was happening and segregate the investigation from them.

  8. Create a new investigative environment whose purpose would be to confirm all of the findings of the Warren Commission and divert attention away from the who-did-it-and-why approach.

  9. Control the committee staff in such a way as to keep any of them from revealing what they already knew about CIA involvement.

  10. Control committee consultants in the same way, and staff members who might leave or who might be fired.

  11. Continue to control the media in such a way as to reinforce all of the above.

  12. Continue to murder witnesses or assassins in emergency situations if necessary.

The CIA successfully did all twelve of these things. The techniques they used were much more subtle and devious than those they had used before, although they did continue with murders of potential HSCA witnesses and with media control.

How The CIA Did It

The first step taken by the CIA was to use the media they control, along with some members of Congress they control, and two planted agents on the staff of and consulting for, Henry Gonzalez, to get rid of both Henry and Richard A. Sprague. In taking this step, they used the old Roman approach of divide and conquer. They made Gonzalez and his closest staff assistant, Gail Beagle, believe that Sprague was a CIA agent and that Gonzalez must get rid of him. They also made Gonzalez believe that some of his other associates, both in the HSCA and outside, were CIA agents. At the same time, they used the media to attack Sprague mercilessly. The key people in doing this attack on Sprague were three CIA reporters, George Lardner of the Washington Post, Mr. Burnham of The New York Times, and Jeremiah O'Leary of the Washington Star. In all HSCA committee meetings and in Rules Committee and Finance Committee meetings, these three reporters sat next to each other, passed notes back and forth, and wrote articles continually attacking and undermining both Sprague and Gonzalez, as well as the entire committee. The CIA had the support of top management in all three news organizations in doing this.

Gonzalez eventually tried to fire Sprague, was over-ruled by the committee, and then resigned from the committee. Sprague eventually resigned, because it became obvious that the CIA controlled members of the Finance and Rules Committees and other CIA allies in the House, were going to kill the committee unless he resigned. There are many more details to this story, which requires a book to describe. Suffice it to say, the CIA accomplished their first two goals by March 1977. The next steps were to install a CIA-controlled chief counsel and to get a chairman elected who could be fooled or coerced into appointing such a counsel. Lewis Stokes was a perfect choice for chairman. He was, and probably still is, a good and honest man. But he was completely bamboozled by what the CIA did and is still doing. The selection and implementation of a CIA man as chief counsel had to be done in an extremely subtle manner. It could not be obvious to anyone that he was a CIA man. Stokes and the other committee members had to be fooled into believing they had made the choice, and had picked a good man. Professor Robert Blakey, an apparently scientifically oriented, academic person, with a history of work against organized crime, was the perfect CIA choice. Once Dr. Blakey took over as chief counsel, he accomplished goals numbered 3, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 very nicely. The fourth and fifth goals having been achieved, Blakey set about the other parts of his assignment very rapidly after he arrived. For Goal 3, he fired Bob Tanenbaum, Bob Lehner, and Donovan Gay, three loyal Sprague supporters, quickly.

The Nondisclosure Agreement

The most important weapon used by the CIA and Blakey to pursue goals 9 and 10 was instituted within one week after Blakely arrived. It is by far the most subtle and far reaching technique used by the CIA to date. It is called the "Nondisclosure Agreement" and it was signed by all members of the committee, all staff members including Blakey, all consultants to the committee, and several independent researchers who met with Blakey in 1977. Signing the agreement was a condition for continued employment on the committee staff or for continuing consulting on a contract basis. The choice was, sign or get out. The author signed the agreement in July 1977, without realizing its implications at the time, in order to continue as a consultant. The agreement is reproduced in full the Appendix and is labelled Exhibit A. The author's consulting help was never sought after that and the obvious objective was to silence a consultant and not use his services.

This CIA weapon has several parts. First, it binds the signer, if a consultant, to never reveal that he is working for the committee (see paragraph 13). Second, it prevents the signer from ever revealing to anyone in perpetuity, any information he has learned about the committee's work as a result of working for the committee (see paragraphs 2 and 12). Third, it gives the committee and the House, after the committee terminates, the power to take legal action against the signer, in a court named by the committee or the House, in case the committee believes the signer has violated the agreement. Fourth, the signer agrees to pay the court costs for such a suit in the event he loses the suit (see paragraphs 14 and 15).

These four parts are enough to scare most researchers or staff members who signed it into silence forever about what they learned. The agreement is insidious in that the signer is, in effect, giving away his constitutional rights. Some lawyers who have seen the agreement, including Richard A. Sprague, have expressed the opinion it is an illegal agreement in violation of the Constitution and several Constitutional amendments. Whether it is illegal or not, most staff members and all consultants who signed it have remained silent, even after three and a half years beyond the life of the committee. There are only two exceptions, the author and Gaeton Fonzi, who published a lengthy article about the HSCA cover-up in the Washingtonian magazine in 1981.

The most insidious parts of the agreement, however, are paragraphs 2, 3 and 7, which give the CIA very effective control over what the committee could and could not do with so-called "classified" information. The director of the CIA is given authority to determine, in effect, what information shall remain classified and therefore unavailable to nearly everyone. The signer of the agreement, and remember, this includes all of the Congressman and women who were members of the committee, agrees not to reveal or discuss any information that the CIA decides he should not. The chairman of the committee supposedly has the final say on what information is included, but in practice, even an intelligent and gutsy chairman would not be likely to override the CIA. Lewis Stokes did not attempt any final decisions. In fact, the CIA did not have to do very much under these clauses. The fact that Blakey was their man and kept nearly all of the CIA sensitive information, evidence, and witnesses away from the committee members was all that was necessary. Stokes never knew what he should have argued about with the CIA director. It is this document which proves beyond doubt that the CIA controlled the HSCA.

The author attempted to point out to Stokes in a letter dated February 10, 1978, copy included herein, Exhibit B, the type of control the agreement gives the CIA over the HSCA. Stokes replied in a March 16, 1978 letter, Exhibit C, that he retained ultimate authority and was not bound by the opinion of the Central Intelligence Director. He also claimed that paragraphs 12 and 14, on extending the agreement in perpetuity and giving the government the right to file a civil suit in which the signer will pay all costs, were legal. He said in the letter that the purpose of the agreement was to give the HSCA control over the conduct of the investigation including control over the ultimate disclosure of information to the American public. That is a key admission about what has actually happened. The only question is, who is controlling the information in the heads of the staff investigators who discovered CIA involvement? Was Louis Stokes working for the public or for the CIA?

Examples of CIA-Control

Some specific examples will serve to illustrate how well the CIA techniques have worked and are still working.

Garrison Evidence and Witnesses Example

As mentioned earlier, when Blakey arrived, an investigating team headed by Cliff Fenton, reporting to Bob Tanenbaum, had already been hard at work tracking down leads to the CIA conspirators generated by Jim Garrison's investigation in New Orleans. This team eventually had four investigators, all professionals, and their work led them to believe that the CIA people in New Orleans had been involved in a large conspiracy to assassinate JFK. As Garrison told Ted Gandolfo, a New York City researcher, the Fenton team went much further than Garrison, in locating witnesses and other evidence of assassination planning meetings held in New Orleans, Mexico City and Dallas. In fact, they found a CIA man who attended those meetings, and who was willing to testify before the committee. The evidence was far more convincing than the testimony presented at the trial of Clay Shaw. In the Shaw Trial, CIA people were involved in meetings in addition to the one brought out in the trial. Clay Shaw, David Ferrie, William Seymour and others were involved. Fenton's team discovered a lot of other facts about how the CIA people planned and carried out the assassination. Their report about the conspiracy was solid and convincing and they were convinced. The CIA, through Robert Blakey, buried the Fenton report. Committee members were not told about the team's findings. The evidence was not included in the HSCA report, nor was it even referred to in the volumes. The witnesses in New Orleans were never called to testify. That included the CIA man at the meetings. Fenton and the other three members of his team, having signed the nondisclosure agreement, were legally sworn to secrecy, or at least they thought so. To this day they refuse to discuss anything with anybody.

There may also have been threats of physical violence against them. There is no way to determine this. However, Fenton and the others are well aware of the witnesses that the CIA murdered just before they were about to testify before the HSCA. These included: William Sullivan, the FBI deputy under J. Edgar Hoover, who headed Division V, the domestic intelligence division; George de Mohrenschildt, Oswald's CIA contact in Dallas; John Roselli, the Mafia man involved in the CIA plots to assassinate Castro; Regis Kennedy, the FBI agent who knew a lot about Clay Shaw, alias Clay Bertrand, in New Orleans and who was one of Lee Harvey Oswald's FBI contacts; Rolando Masferrer, an anti-Castro Cuban murdered in Miami; and Carlos Prio Socarras, former Cuban premier, killed in his garage in Miami.

With the knowledge of these murders, Fenton and his team would not have required any more than a gentle hint, to keep quiet.

Frenchy Example

The "tramp," Frenchy, who appears in seven photos taken in Dealey Plaza, is one of the most important CIA individuals in the JFK assassination. Researcher Bill Turner discovered that Frenchy had been in the Florida Keys working with CIA sponsored anti-Castro groups. Richard A. Sprague and Bob Tanenbaum knew about his role, and intended to go after him when the HSCA restored its subpoena power and obtained enough money. They were aware of the evidence that Frenchy fired the fatal shot from the grassy knoll. They had assigned a team of investigators to follow a lead to Frenchy provided by the author in the early part of 1977.

Unfortunately, the CIA managed to keep both the subpoena power and the funds away from the committee until after they had forced the resignations of Gonzalez, Sprague and Tanenbaum. The power and funds were restored after Stokes was elected and after they installed their own man, Blakey. The investigative team remained, however, and they did search for and find Frenchy. But Blakey and the CIA suppressed that fact, and suppressed anything they may have learned from Frenchy. He is not mentioned in the report and was not called as a witness. The author dares not reveal the source of the above information because of the danger to staff people from the nondisclosure agreement.

Nagell, Dean, Novel, and Augustinovich

The Garrison investigation and a subsequent series of investigations by the author and other members of the Committee to Investigate Assassinations in 1967 to 1973, turned up several witnesses who were willing to talk privately about the CIA assassination team that murdered JFK. Harry Dean and Richard Case Nagell had been Lee Harvey Oswald's CIA contacts while he was in Mexico City and knew about assassination planning meetings held in Guy Gabaldin's apartment. Dean knew about William Seymour, CIA contract agent, attending those meetings and how Seymour had been pretending to be Oswald on many occasions. Gordon Novel knew how the CIA had covered up the truth about the assassination and how they went to extreme lengths to ruin Jim Garrison and his investigation. Novel had been employed by the CIA in this effort. Ronald Augustinovich and his friend, Mary Hope, had attended some of the Mexico City meetings.

Richard Russell and the author tracked down all four of these witnesses prior to the arrival of Robert Blakey at the HSCA. Russell interviewed them and knew they would be willing to talk, given protection and some form of immunity. The author presented their names and their involvement to Richard A. Sprague, Henry Gonzalez, Lewis Stokes and Robert Tanenbaum in the fall of 1976. This was done as part of the author's consulting assignment for the HSCA. The names were in a memorandum to Sprague, which outlined the overall JFK conspiracy and the CIA's role, along with a recommendation of the sequence in which witnesses should be called. The idea was to base each witness interrogation on what had been established from interviewing prior witnesses, working slowly from cooperative witnesses, to non-cooperative witnesses, to actual assassins, to higher level CIA people.[4] The highest level people, E. Howard Hunt and Richard Helms, would be faced with accusers.

As indicated earlier, Sprague and Tanenbaum could do nothing and did nothing up to the day they left. By early 1978 it became obvious that Blakey had done nothing about calling these CIA witnesses. The author initiated a series of letter exchanges with Blakey and Stokes, reminding them of these witnesses, and the possibility that their lives could be in danger prior to their being interviewed by HSCA. Dick Russell had obtained an agreement from Nagell to meet with the committee, but no contact had been made up to April 5, 1978, the date of the author's first letter to Stokes on this subject, Exhibit D. Nagell was hiding in fear of his children's lives, not so much his own life. He was a real CIA agent and knew how they operated. Russell was the only person who knew where Nagell was. In the April 5th letter, a recommendation was given to Stokes that the committee contact Nagell through Russell, and contact the other witnesses on the original list. Stokes wrote on May 15, 1978, Exhibit E, that the Nagell matter had been referred to Blakey for follow-up. Blakey never mentioned it by telephone or by letter.

By September 1978, when the public hearings had begun, there was no indication that Blakey was going to call the CIA witnesses. Nagell was standing by but had not been contacted. The published, intended witness list did not contain any of these CIA names. The author wrote to Representative Yvonne Burke and Cc'd a copy to Stokes on September 22 and 23, 1978, Exhibit F, expressing dissatisfaction with the committee's failure to call the CIA witnesses, and suggesting that if they did not not, history would eventually catch up with them. The names were repeated in the letter to Burke, and specific mention made that the committee had never contacted Richard Case Nagell. Louis Stokes sent back a letter dated October 10, 1978, Exhibit G. It is what one might call a non-answer, stating "that the committee will make every effort to tell the whole story to the American people." Seven years later (1985) it can be said that the committee did not make an effort to call the most important witnesses and therefore did not tell the whole story. Nor did their report even mention these witnesses or any of the evidence exposed earlier by the CTIA or Jim Garrison. Louis Stokes was either totally fooled or he is part of the CIA's cover-up.

The author responded to Stokes' non-answer letter of October 10th with two more letters, dated October 30, 1978 and November 24, 1978, Exhibits H & I. Stokes finally answered them on December 4, 1978 with another non-answer letter, Exhibit J. He says the committee cannot reveal the procedure of the investigation or the names of those persons who will be called to testify before the committee. This implies they were planning to call more witnesses in December 1978. The committee's life ended on January 1, 1979. The CIA witnesses were never called nor ever mentioned right up to the very end and the report was silent about them.

The Umbrella Man

One last example illustrates the way the CIA and Blakey worked together to cancel-out any evidence linking the CIA people and/or techniques used in the JFK assassination. For many years, various researchers, including Josiah Thompson[5] and the author, had speculated about the role of a man appearing in the photographs in Dealey Plaza with an open umbrella. He became known as "The Umbrella Man," or TUM for short. Thompson speculated that TUM had been giving the various shooters in Dealey Plaza visual signals with the umbrella, and the author agreed this could have been true.

In 1976, the Church committee took the public testimony of Charles Senseney, a CIA contract weapons employee at the Army Chemical Center in Ft. Detrick, MD. Senseney described a system used by the CIA in Vietnam and elsewhere, for killing or paralyzing people with poisons carried in self-propelled Flechette darts. The darts were self-propelled like solid fuel rockets and launched silently and unobtrusively from a number of devices, including an umbrella. A CIA catalog of available secret weapons shows a photograph of the umbrella launching device and photos of the Flechettes which were self-propelled from one of the hollow spokes of the umbrella. They could even be launched through soda straws.

Researcher Robert Cutler, former Air Force Liason officer, L. Fletcher Prouty, and the author did some additional research on the photographic evidence and the weapon system, especially research on the movements of JFK in the Zapruder film and various photos of TUM and a friend he had with him in Dealey Plaza. The friend had a two-way radio device. As a result of this research, an article was published in Gallery magazine in June, 1978. The article presented the hypothesis that TUM launched, from his umbrella, a poison Flechette at JFK, which struck him in the throat at Zapruder frame 189, causing complete paralysis of his upper body, hands, arms, shoulders and head, in less than two seconds. The photos show this paralysis and the timing matches the testimony given by Senseney about how fast the CIA poison works and what its paralyzing effects look like.

Whether one agrees with this hypothesis or not is incidental to what Blakey and the HSCA did in reaction to it. Until the summer of 1977, official investigators for the HSCA, or any of its predecessors, had shown no more than passing curious interest in TUM. They just paid no attention and did not take the researcher's ideas seriously. On August 8, 1977, the author informed Robert Blakey, in a letter of that date, about the TUM hypothesis. The letter concerned a discussion the author and Blakey had on July 21, 1977, two days after the nondisclosure agreement had been signed. Blakey had said that if there was a conspiracy it would not have involved a very large number of people. He was probably already laying the foundation for a small, Mafia type, conspiracy involving Oswald and a Mafia friend, backed by a few Mafia Dons.

The August 8th letter maintained that the CIA had been involved and that it had been a massive intelligence operation, rather than a conspiracy in the sense Blakey was using the term. The CIA Flechette, umbrella launching weapons system, if indeed it had been used by TUM, the letter pointed out, would be solid proof of high level CIA involvement, since that system would not have been available to lower level agents or contract people.

Blakey did not respond right away to this letter and the author decided to make the TUM hypothesis public by publishing it with Cutler as co-author, in the spring of 1978, in Gallery magazine. Contact was also made with Senator Richard Schweiker who had been the member of the Church Committee responsible for interrogating Charles Senseney. Schweiker agreed to try and find out from Senseney what had happened to the umbrella launchers he had constructed for the CIA; that is, who in the CIA had had access to a launcher.

The information to be published in Gallery had been generated by Bob Cutler and the author independently of any information obtained from the HSCA, but the safest approach seemed to be an application to them for permission to print the article under the terms of the nondisclosure agreement. So, on January 9, 1978, the author submitted a draft of the Gallery article to Blakey and, on January 16, 1978, he wrote back stating that publishing the article would not violate the terms of the nondisclosure agreement, Exhibit K. The article was published in the June 1978 issue of Gallery which actually appeared in May 1978. Blakey knew in advance when it would appear.

On August 3, 1978, the author wrote to Blakey stating that photographic evidence showed a high probability that TUM was actually Gordon Novel, the CIA contract agent from New Orleans, who had been hired to ruin the Garrison investigation, Exhibit L. The reason that some new photo evidence was just then coming to light was that the committee had discovered a never-before seen film of TUM and had released a frame from this film to the press in July 1978. Shortly after the TUM photo was released by the HSCA, with an appeal to him to come forward, an unknown caller contacted Penn Jones in Texas to tell him he knew who TUM was. Penn visited Louis Witt, having been given his address, and upon seeing him, jumped to the conclusion that he was TUM. This led to Mr. Witt appearing before the committee in their televised hearings and making the claim he was TUM. He showed the umbrella on TV that he claimed he used.

It was immediately obvious to Bob Cutler and the author that Witt was not TUM. He displayed the umbrella he said he had used in Dealey Plaza and it contained the wrong number of spokes. His height, weight and facial appearance did not match TUM's, and his description of his actions did not match at all the actions TUM took, as shown in the photos. On November 24, 1978, the author wrote to Stokes telling him he had been fooled by a CIA plant, or by his own staff, planting Mr. Witt, and that he should call Gordon Novel as a witness because it was likely that Novel was TUM. HSCA never did call Novel as a witness. Novel had visited the HSCA during the days Richard A. Sprague was still there, but he had not mentioned being in Dealey Plaza or that the CIA had hired him to ruin Garrison. Blakey and Stokes avoided contacting Novel.

Now, the important thing to focus on, in this example, is the sequence of events. The HSCA had done nothing about TUM until they were faced with the possibility of a public article linking TUM to the CIA through a CIA weapons system and through Gordon Novel. They also found out that Senator Schweiker was looking into the CIA end of it. At about the time the Gallery article was being widely read, the HSCA suddenly released to the press a photo of TUM and asked that people identify him or that he come forward. The photo did not show his umbrella or where he was sitting in Dealey Plaza, nor did the release mention the umbrella or the theories about it. Just his photo. An earlier photo used by Cutler and the author to identify Novel as TUM was not released.

In a surprisingly short time after the photo appeared, an unknown person calls a well-known researcher and leads him to Louis Witt. Witt in turn lies about who he was and where he was, by claiming to be TUM. Blakey and the committee put Witt on center stage as though it was a play, and eliminate the TUM problem by pulling off a charade. The fine hand of the CIA can be seen in this whole series of linked events. Blakey had to have known what was going on, and he knows today that Witt was not TUM and the high probability that TUM was Gordon Novel, CIA agent.

The extreme lengths that the CIA and Blakey went to in this charade, made one believe that the umbrella probably was the Charles Senseney weapon. Otherwise, why bother with TUM?

Goal Number Eight

What has been presented so far in this article represents direct actions by the CIA to cover-up CIA involvement. Blakey played another important role and that was to achieve the eighth goal on the list, namely to change the public impression of HSCA's main effort. Researchers who concentrated on attacking the Warren Commission's Dealey Plaza or Tippit shooting findings had created a big problem. If Oswald had fired no shots, then he must have been framed. If Oswald was framed, the evidence against him was planted, and multiple gunmen were involved. All of this line of reasoning would point to a very well-organized and very well-planned conspiracy, which would in turn point to an intelligence style involvement.

So, Blakey set out from the beginning to create an investigative environment and image that appeared to be based on a highly scientific, objective study of the Dealey Plaza evidence. The overall objective of this approach was to prove "scientifically" that the Warren Commission was right, and that Lee Harvey Oswald fired all the shots that had struck John Kennedy, Governor Connally and policeman Tippit. That required scientific proof of the single bullet theory, among other things. Blakey did just that. Right up to the moment when the acoustical evidence on the Dallas police tape reared its ugly head, only one month from the end of the life of the committee, Blakey managed to control and manipulate the Dealey Plaza evidence to back up the Warren Commission completely. The author described how Blakey did this in chapter 16. One of his "magical" methods was to split up the scientific work into subcommittees or panels of advisors, and various staff groups, and keep them all from communicating with each other. Thus, even though the medical panel gave testimony showing an upward trajectory of the single bullet (399) shot, the trajectory panel turned it into a downward trajectory. The photographic panel was so isolated they never did see the most important evidence of the sixth floor window, inside and outside.

The photo panel had a number of government and military people on it, as did all of the other panels. Thus it was not surprising that they testified that the fake photos of Oswald holding a rifle were not fakes. Blakey rode roughshod over the evidence that these photos were fakes, presenting only one witness, Jack White, to show why they were fakes, and giving him a very rough time. Other researchers, like Fred Newcomb and the author, who had done a lot of work on the fake photos, were not called and not consulted by the photo panel or Blakey and his staff. There are many more examples of how Blakey managed this magic show on public TV, too numerous to describe here.

One important result of this drastic change of investigative environment compared to that existing under Richard A. Sprague, was to draw the attention of the public during the hearings away from the evidence and the witnesses pointing to the real assassins, and to the fact that Oswald was framed and did not fire any shots. It thus provided an additional shield for the CIA and in effect, completed the cover-up.


Now, in the spring of 1985, the CIA appears to have under control the final cover-up engineered by Robert Blakey with the support of a few murders of key witnesses and the existence of the insidious, illegal, nondisclosure agreement silencing the HSCA staff, committee members, and consultants. The situation for the American public appears to be hopeless. The CIA effectively controlled all three branches of government when the chips were down, and have had no problems controlling the fourth estate, the media, or the independent researchers. By what means could the American public combat this awesome power? It is hard to see that there is any means available. And we have now reached and passed 1984. Would an election of Edward Kennedy to the presidency in 1988 change anything? If he lived through a presidency following an election campaign, it probably would. Most Americans react to that by saying, "he would be assassinated." Somehow they have received the messages about what has gone wrong with the United States.

  1. Chaired by Prof. Norman Ramsey of M.I.T.

  2. Senators Richard Schweiker of Penn. and Gary Hart of Colo. formed a sub-committee of the Church Committee.

  3. The author became an advisor to Richard A. Sprague as soon as he was appointed counsel to the HSCA.

  4. The names of the witnesses in the memo were:

    Cooperative Witnesses:
      Louis Ivon (Jim Garrison's chief investigator), Richard Case Nagell, Harry Dean, James Hosty, Carver Gaten, Warren du Bruys, Regis Kennedy, Victor Marchetti, Gordon Novel, Manuel Garcia Gonzalez, Harry Williams, Jim Garrison, George de Mohrenschildt, Charles Senseney, Mary Hope and Jim Hicks.

    Non-Cooperative Witnesses or Assassins or Planners:
      Ronald Augustinovich, Guy Gabaldin, Frenchy, William Seymour, Emilio Santana, Jack Lawrence, Jim Braden, Sergio Arcacha Smith, Fred Lee Crisman, William Sullivan, Carlos Prio Socarras, Rolando Masferrer, Major L.M. Bloomfield, E. Howard Hunt, and Richard Helms.

  5. In his book, Six Seconds in Dallas Thompson showed photos of TUM.

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