Nolan furthers the research of leading forensic scientists, historians, and scholars who agree that there remain serious unanswered questions regarding the assassinations of John F. Kennedy fifty years ago and Robert F. Kennedy in 1968. He revisits and refutes what is currently known about Lee Harvey Oswald and Sirhan Bishara Sirhan, and offers readers a compelling profile of the CIA’s Richard Helms, an amoral master of clandestine operations with a chip on his shoulder.
Bolstered by a foreword by Dr. Henry C. Lee, one of the world’s foremost forensic authorities, CIA Rogues and the Killing of the Kennedys is an unmatched effort in forensic research and detective work. As the fiftieth anniversary of the JFK assassination approaches, Nolan has made a significant contribution to the literature on that fateful day in Dallas as well as shed light on that dark night at the Ambassador Hotel. Readers interested in conspiracy, the Kennedy family, or American history will find this book invaluable.
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Richard Helms, The Strategist
Richard Helms walked briskly from a hearing room in Washington, DC, on April 28, 1975. The sixty-two-year-old former director of the CIA had left the Agency two years earlier and was then serving as ambassador to Iran. As he stepped into the hallway, he came face-to-face with CBS newsman Daniel Schorr. Suddenly Helms exploded, "You sonofabitch! You killer! You cocksucker! 'Killer Schorr' — that's what they ought to call you."
For the normally reserved bureaucrat, publicly unleashing such a bizarre verbal assault seemed out of character. The hearing from which he had exited had consisted of four hours of questioning before the Rockefeller Commission regarding CIA attempts to assassinate foreign leaders. Schorr had been broadcasting news stories about the CIA — Mafia assassination conspiracies and was seeking a response from the director himself.
Clearly, newsman Schorr's presence alone had touched a nerve in the no-nonsense ex-director. Unaccustomed to such public scrutiny, Helms's cool demeanor had cracked under the pressure. Although he proved to be a master at keeping secrets, his outburst revealed an angry, violent side to his character. Another telling public reaction from Richard Helms that adds insight into his character was delivered during a lecture for students at Johns Hopkins University in the fall of 1972. Helms was asked if the CIA had tried to interfere in the election of Chilean president Salvador Allende in 1970. He responded to the student, "Why should you care? Your side won." The elected Marxist leader was eventually overthrown and died in a CIA-assisted coup in 1973.
Another nonanswer from Helms — and again, one that showed his arrogance when involved in discussions related to the assassinations — transpired during the House Select Committee on Assassinations hearings in 1978. According to the Washington Post's George Lardner, during a break in the testimony, Helms got into a conversation with several reporters, one of whom asked Helms if he knew anything about a connection between Lee Harvey Oswald and the CIA or the KGB. Helms replied, "I don't remember." And then he added, "Your questions are almost as dumb as the Committee's."
Helms's belligerent language and his practice of defending himself by going on the offensive were tools he used to protect himself and his secrets, for he was a man with much to hide. The Man Who Kept the Secrets, the title of author Thomas Powers's biography of Richard Helms, is a fitting description of his subject. Beneath Helms's outward appearance of restraint (the Daniel Schorr outburst being a major exception), the career spymaster was the embodiment of ambition. Tall, lean, and an avid tennis player, Helms also was intellectually gifted. His autobiography, A Look Over My Shoulder: A Life In The Central Intelligence Agency, leaves the impression that he spent much of his time putting out fires; the fact that most were of his own making is left untold.
By the same token, Helms writes that key CIA actions were always carried out with presidential approval. Yet, in truth, Helms routinely kept a succession of presidents in the dark (detailed ahead).
Helms's unauthorized use of the Mafia in various operations was typical, particularly his attempts to eliminate Cuba's Fidel Castro. As Deputy Director of Plans, Helms hid this information from President Kennedy and his CIA director John McCone. Robert Kennedy found out in May 1962 and was told these plots had been terminated. In reality, Helms's field coordinator for the Castro assassination plots, William Harvey, continued to use the Mafia into 1963. When questioned about these CIA-mob assassination conspiracies in the 1975 Senate investigation, Helms replied, "I'm really surprised I did not discuss it with him (Director McCone) at the time." According to Helms's assistant, George McManus, the main reason Helms did not tell his boss about mob involvement in assassination conspiracies was because McCone would have considered it "morally reprehensible."
Helms was born Richard McGarrah Helms on March 30, 1913, in St. Davids, Pennsylvania, outside of Philadelphia. After World War I, his parents, Herman and Marion, moved the family to New York City and later to South Orange, New Jersey, where his father worked as an executive with the Aluminum Company of America. Young Richard attended Carteret Academy. In 1929, when Richard was sixteen, his family — including Richard, his older sister Elizabeth, and younger brothers Pearsall and Gates — departed for Europe. At the time, Helms's maternal grandfather was a bank president in Basel, Switzerland. Helms was enrolled in Le Rosey, a private preparatory school on Lake Geneva. This is the same school the Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, attended. Although the Shah was six years younger than Helms, the fellow alumni became very close in their later lives, and particularly when Helms was appointed ambassador to Iran by President Richard Nixon in March 1973.
Helms completed his schooling in Europe at age eighteen in 1931 and returned to the United States after his acceptance at Williams College in western Massachusetts. He graduated second in his class in 1935 and decided to go into the field of journalism. In part because of his foreign language skills, he was able to hook up with the United Press in London and soon after was sent to Berlin. In 1936, he was with a small group of reporters who interviewed Adolf Hitler in Nuremberg. The newsmen had been invited to a luncheon with the Führer during a weeklong Nazi Party Congress meeting. Helms notes in his autobiography that this was two years before the terror of the Nazi's plans became clear with the outbreak of anti-Semitic violence known as Kristallnacht on November 9, 1938. On that night, more than two hundred synagogues were set aflame, ninety-one people were killed, and twenty thousand were arrested and taken to concentration camps. The following year in September 1939, Germany attacked Poland, starting World War II.
Helms's interview with Hitler gave the young reporter's resume added credentials that would eventually aid his entry into the intelligence service following the US declaration of war in 1941.
When twenty-four-year-old Helms left Germany in 1937, he decided he wanted to become a newspaper publisher and realized that the best route to this goal would be to learn the business side of the industry. He joined the Indianapolis Times and soon moved up to the position of advertising manager. In September 1939, Helms married Julia Bretzman Shields, a local divorcée who had two children from a previous marriage, James and Judith. After the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Helms joined the Navy and moved his family to his parents' home in South Orange, New Jersey. Helms and his wife Julia had one child, a son named Dennis.
During his war service in the US Navy, Lieutenant Helms was initially assigned to track enemy submarines off the coast of New York. Soon after, he was transferred to the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the precursor of the Central Intelligence Agency, under the command of General William J. Donavan. Helms trained at an OSS farm in Maryland and was sent to Washington, DC. Later in the war, Helms worked in intelligence offices in London and Paris. He and his fellow officers were the beneficiaries of the most successful espionage operation of World War II in Europe — the breaking of the German code by allied cryptologists — an operation code-named ULTRA.
For a short time, Helms worked closely with Allen Dulles, a World War I spymaster who would eventually become CIA director (1953 — 1961). Helms and Dulles, who was then Chief of Mission in Berne, Switzerland, met at General Dwight Eisenhower's headquarters when Germany surrendered on May 8, 1945.
It was Helms's fluency in the German language that helped him earn the position of station chief in post-World War II Berlin. There, his spy career focused on Russian KGB activities in Germany and Eastern Europe, tracking down former Nazi spies, and appropriating intelligence from them that the Axis powers had collected regarding the Soviet Union. Helms remained with the OSS after his discharge from the Navy in 1946 as the Cold War began in earnest.
When the CIA was formed in 1947 with the passage of the National Security Act, Helms stayed on under the new umbrella agency. James Angleton, another master spy who had spent World War II working with the OSS in Italy, also stayed. Together, Angleton and Helms would form a twenty-five-year partnership in covert operations. The enigmatic Angleton was a very thin man, four years younger than Helms, and was known as an intellectual. He had graduated from Yale before the war and attended Harvard Law School for a year. His father, Lt. Col. James H. Angleton, had worked for a US firm in Italy and, with the outbreak of war, the elder Angleton also wound up working in intelligence under General Donovan. By 1946, his son Jim went on to become the OSS station chief in Rome.
Meanwhile, his friend Richard Helms was also on a fast track. By July 1952, Helms had been appointed acting chief of the CIA's Clandestine Division and in the following year became deputy to Frank Wisner, the Deputy Director of Plans. In this position, Helms was in charge of all covert action operations.
With the appointment of Allen Dulles as Director of Central Intelligence in 1953, Helms began to lay the groundwork for a program that became known as operation MKULTRA. The "ULTRA" is no doubt a nod to the great contribution of the operation that broke the Nazi code in World War II. As for the initials "MK," the words "mind control" come to mind, though the origin of this code name has never been found.
The Agency's behavior control program was built upon research experiments carried out during the Korean War (1950–1953). At that time, North Korea had developed so-called "brainwashing" techniques for use in obtaining "confessions" from American prisoners of war. In the face of the Communist challenge, the US military sought to prepare its soldiers for survival in the event they were captured by the enemy. Research on hypnosis was conducted to attempt to protect America's intelligence services from such tactics being used against them. Indeed, CIA Director Allen Dulles did not take Soviet and Chinese Communist threats lightly; he intended for his behavioral research specialists to break new ground in the quest for mind control knowledge.
Helms in the directorate of plans (covert operations) and Angleton in counterintelligence guided this new mission. Together they formed the "perfect storm." Angleton is described by Edward Jay Epstein in his book Legend as "a man who meticulously planned environments so perfectly that he could manipulate the design of his own prize-winning orchids." Indeed, Helms and Angleton's goal was much more than just defensive techniques and truth serums; they were intent on finding out if a human could be programmed to carry out "executive action" operations, which in CIA terminology meant assassination.
The behavior control program was initiated under the auspices of the CIA's Office of Security. In addition to researching information based on North Korean field work, the CIA dug deeper, researching experiments found in captured Nazi documents. At the close of World War II, top German spy Commander Reinhard Gehlen escaped the approaching Russians and fled to the Americans, bringing with him a treasure trove of Nazi and Russian intelligence files. Richard Helms worked closely with the Gehlen network of former German spies to penetrate Soviet intelligence and uncover Communist activities in West Germany. It was not until June 2006 that the National Archives in Washington released twenty-seven thousand pages of declassified post-World War II documents revealing the extent of the CIA's collaboration with ex-Nazis. For example, memos from the 1950s show that the CIA hid knowledge of the whereabouts of notorious Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann who had escaped to Argentina. The reports indicate that the CIA feared that his capture would expose their use of former Nazis, and that he would reveal the CIA's efforts to undermine Communist influence in West Germany. Eichmann was captured by Israeli intelligence in 1960, tried, and executed.
Helms's intelligence gathering in Germany focused on Soviet activities, but at the same time, he explored in earnest the newly discovered ex-Nazi files, in particular those studies and reports that contained data on what the German scientists had learned about the subject of human programming. Helms and Angleton would use this information to plan their future in the world of espionage.
The captured Nazi research documents showed that the most gruesome Nazi experiments conducted at death camps were the so-called "aviation series" in which prisoners were used to test various survival factors for the military. For example, at Dachau, inmates were immersed in cold water to determine how long a downed pilot would last in frigid seas. Other inmates died in pressure chambers designed to simulate high-altitude environments. Less horrific experiments carried out by Nazi scientists were conducted in order to find ways in which to control prisoners and make them reveal secret information. This psychopharmacological research involved the combined use of mescaline and hypnosis. It was the results of these experiments that most interested Richard Helms and American intelligence.
Under Helms's guidance, behavioral medicine scientists from across the US were recruited to investigate a curious mix of concepts: creating amnesia, understanding bioelectrics, and attempting to harness parapsychology. Soon, this newly contracted legion of psychiatrists began to test mind-altering drugs in conjunction with hypnosis.
As the Cold War intensified, and the nation saw the rise of rabid anti-Communist Sen. Joseph McCarthy, a sense of paranoia emerged regarding the Soviet Union and Communist efforts in the field of mind control. The so-called "mind control gap" would provide a strong impetus for greater CIA funding. However, in later years, it was publicly revealed that in reality the Soviets' work in this area had been much exaggerated.
The Agency's MK experiments started out in 1950 as project BLUEBIRD. Day-to-day tasks were run by the CIA's Sheffield Edwards, who several years later would become a key player in Helms's CIA — Mafia operations involving Cuba. The leadership of BLUEBIRD changed hands soon after when Morse Allen, a rigid anti-Communist from Naval Intelligence, was brought in to run the program. After consulting with various psychiatrists, Allen introduced the use of electroshock treatments to the mind control repertoire. Gradually, the agency learned to use combinations of various methods to achieve amnesia in its subjects.
The CIA's mind control research program was renamed ARTICHOKE in 1952. Such code words are typically meaningless except to the originator. In this case, it is interesting to note that a vegetable is also the term for what could happen if an experiment went awry and the subject's memory was lost permanently. Most of the subjects tested did not know the nature of the tests being given to them. This was considered an important requirement by the experimenters in order to produce dependable results.
Hypnosis and drugs were central elements of the programs that encompassed CIA mind control and behavior modification research of this era. Much of the records of this work have been destroyed, but it is estimated that the CIA may have used thousands of subjects in its behavior modification experiments. The subjects chosen by the CIA included prisoners, foreigners, prostitutes, mental patients, and drug addicts. These individuals were picked because, due to their social and economic circumstances, they typically would have little recourse if they discovered the true nature of their predicament. They were also the types of subjects who would not be prone to question if they had been unwittingly drugged, because drugs were a normal part of their culture anyway.
For several years, the CIA had tested the use of hypnosis in interrogations and on unwitting subjects under Operation ARTICHOKE.
At the time of this writing, several US congressmen and veterans' groups are sponsoring a bill that will provide medical care for American military personnel who unknowingly took part in military research between 1954 and 1973. Paralleling the CIA's experiments, it is estimated that thousands of US soldiers were exposed to dangerous chemicals, biological weapons experiments, and radioactive agent tests sponsored by the Pentagon in operations worldwide.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "CIA Rogues and the Killing of the Kennedys"
Copyright © 2013 Patrick Nolan.
Excerpted by permission of Skyhorse Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Foreword by Dr. Henry C. Lee,
Chapter 1: Richard Helms, The Strategist,
Chapter 2: The Sociopathy Test,
Chapter 3: James Angleton, The Tactician,
Chapter 4: Assassinations Past,
Chapter 5: Lee Harvey Oswald, An Unwitting Patsy,
Chapter 6: November 22, 1963, the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy,
Chapter 7: Sirhan Bishara Sirhan, an Involuntary Pawn,
Chapter 8: June 5, 1968, the Assassination of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy,
Chapter 9: Conclusion,