Plausible suspect: William K. Harvey

“William King Harvey is worthy of our attention,” writes Alan Dale. In 1962, Harvey served as chief of Task Force W, the CIA’s anti-Castro operation, and then lost his job after an argument with Attorney General Robert Kennedy. When Congress investigated JFK’s assassination in the 1970s, the CIA pulled a 123-page file on Harvey’s operational activities.

All of that file remains secret, according to the National Archives online database.

Dale writes of Harvey:

Flawed Patriot

A biography of Harvey by a former colleague.

“His role inside Staff D, as the sole proprietor of ZR/RIFLE, as a free-wheeling loose cannon who developed close professional and personal relationships with infamous Mafia executives, who controlled and dispensed unauthorized anti-Castro guerrilla teams at the peak of the Cuban Missile Crisis when any such provocations were dangerous and destabilizing to the authority of our government’s executive branch, and whose career was effectively ended by the stroke of a pen set in the hand of the 37-year-old Attorney General of the United States, [makes him], in my opinion, not a completely unjustifiable suspect in the assassination of President Kennedy.”

One CIA colleague who knew Harvey well did not disagree with that assessment. In 2006, Bayard Stockton, a former CIA officer who worked with Harvey in Berlin and went on to become a Newsweek correspondent, published a critical but fair biography of the man. Once an admirer of Harvey, Stockton concluded that he ultimately became a menace. The book offers a careful assessment of Harvey’s possible role in JFK’s assassination.

I recommend “Flawed Patriot” to anyone interested in the CIA during the Kennedy years.

 

26 comments

  1. Alan Dale says:

    According to Prof. Peter Dale Scott, the most sensitive and restricted operation by the CIA against Castro was run out of CIA’s Staff D (FI/D), headed by William King Harvey. Officially, Staff D was “a small Agency component responsible for communications intercepts.” Quoted from Inspectors General Report, 37. The very stringent restrictions on clearances for COMINT (communications intelligence) made FI/D especially well suited to house sensitive operations that CIA officials (such as Agent In Charge, Harvey) wished to conceal from the rest of the Agency. The most notorious of these projects was ZR/RIFLE, Harvey’s program for “Executive Action Capability.”

    FI/D was responsible for the LI/ENVOY program in Mexico City. LI/ENVOY reports were filed regularly from Mexico City Station to Harvey at CIA HQS. It is important to know that Ann Goodpasture, Mexico City Station officer responsible for bringing DFS intercept product into the station and who supplied false identification of Oswald as being “age 35 and balding,” was an FI/D employee. It might also be important to know that David Sanchez Morales was transferred from the Mexico City station for reassignment to jm/wave in South Florida at Harvey’s request.

    Harvey’s Staff D controlled the CIA-Mafia assassination plots and it controlled the LI/ENVOY intercept intake inside the Mexico City Station.

    While exploring the possibility that the incrimination of Oswald was piggy-backed upon authorized counterintelligence operations in Mexico City, it may be appropriate to review what we know about the DFS (Mexican Security Police which manned the CIA’s clandestine listening posts) and Chicago mob figure and electronic surveillance expert, Richard Cain. Both may be connected to LI/ENVOY which produced the infamous Oswald tapes transcribed by husband and wife team, Boris and Anna Tarasoff.

    See Deep Politics II: Essays on Oswald, Mexico, and Cuba by Peter Dale Scott, Mary Ferrell Foundation Press, 1996, 2007

    Thank you.

  2. LMB says:

    Chilling and sad in retrospect. No matter how many times I read the attached, I can’t help wonder that written and published shortly after the assassination a former President is warning us.

    The Washington Post
    December 22, 1963 – page A11

    Harry Truman Writes:
    Limit CIA Role
    To Intelligence

    By Harry S Truman
    Copyright, 1963, by Harry S Truman

    ——————————————————————————–

    INDEPENDENCE, MO., Dec. 21 — I think it has become necessary to take another look at the purpose and operations of our Central Intelligence Agency—CIA. At least, I would like to submit here the original reason why I thought it necessary to organize this Agency during my Administration, what I expected it to do and how it was to operate as an arm of the President.
    I think it is fairly obvious that by and large a President’s performance in office is as effective as the information he has and the information he gets. That is to say, that assuming the President himself possesses a knowledge of our history, a sensitive understanding of our institutions, and an insight into the needs and aspirations of the people, he needs to have available to him the most accurate and up-to-the-minute information on what is going on everywhere in the world, and particularly of the trends and developments in all the danger spots in the contest between East and West. This is an immense task and requires a special kind of an intelligence facility.
    Of course, every President has available to him all the information gathered by the many intelligence agencies already in existence. The Departments of State, Defense, Commerce, Interior and others are constantly engaged in extensive information gathering and have done excellent work.
    But their collective information reached the President all too frequently in conflicting conclusions. At times, the intelligence reports tended to be slanted to conform to established positions of a given department. This becomes confusing and what’s worse, such intelligence is of little use to a President in reaching the right decisions.
    Therefore, I decided to set up a special organization charged with the collection of all intelligence reports from every available source, and to have those reports reach me as President without department “treatment” or interpretations.
    I wanted and needed the information in its “natural raw” state and in as comprehensive a volume as it was practical for me to make full use of it. But the most important thing about this move was to guard against the chance of intelligence being used to influence or to lead the President into unwise decisions—and I thought it was necessary that the President do his own thinking and evaluating.
    Since the responsibility for decision making was his—then he had to be sure that no information is kept from him for whatever reason at the discretion of any one department or agency, or that unpleasant facts be kept from him. There are always those who would want to shield a President from bad news or misjudgments to spare him from being “upset.”
    For some time I have been disturbed by the way CIA has been diverted from its original assignment. It has become an operational and at times a policy-making arm of the Government. This has led to trouble and may have compounded our difficulties in several explosive areas.
    I never had any thought that when I set up the CIA that it would be injected into peacetime cloak and dagger operations. Some of the complications and embarrassment I think we have experienced are in part attributable to the fact that this quiet intelligence arm of the President has been so removed from its intended role that it is being interpreted as a symbol of sinister and mysterious foreign intrigue—and a subject for cold war enemy propaganda.
    With all the nonsense put out by Communist propaganda about “Yankee imperialism,” “exploitive capitalism,” “war-mongering,” “monopolists,” in their name-calling assault on the West, the last thing we needed was for the CIA to be seized upon as something akin to a subverting influence in the affairs of other people.
    I well knew the first temporary director of the CIA, Adm. Souers, and the later permanent directors of the CIA, Gen. Hoyt Vandenberg and Allen Dulles. These were men of the highest character, patriotism and integrity—and I assume this is true of all those who continue in charge.
    But there are now some searching questions that need to be answered. I, therefore, would like to see the CIA be restored to its original assignment as the intelligence arm of the President, and that whatever else it can properly perform in that special field—and that its operational duties be terminated or properly used elsewhere.
    We have grown up as a nation, respected for our free institutions and for our ability to maintain a free and open society. There is something about the way the CIA has been functioning that is casting a shadow over our historic position and I feel that we need to correct it.

    • Bill Pierce says:

      LMB: The timing of Truman’s letter was interesting, to say the least. Wonder what he was hearing from insiders? Only a dozen years earlier, he had fired General MacArthur, top guy in Korea, to prove that the civilian government was still in charge.

      Truman’s successor Eisenhower began his administration with the so-called “Chance for Peace” speech (1953) characterizing military expenditures as “theft” and contrasting the costs of military hardware with the costs of important domestic priorities. Eight years later in his Farewell Address, Ike slapped the military again. Doubtless both of those speeches – coming from the former Supreme Allied Commander and top representative of the ‘War Party’ – were deeply galling to military brass, contractors and political hardliners.

      Eisenhower’s MIC speech was intended to alarm complacent Americans and pave the way for his successor to make the politically unpopular decisions necessary to restrain the military. How else to interpret it?

      Putting it mildly, the civilian government appears to have had reasonably strong anxieties about military overreach. After all, Truman and Eisenhower – representing both Parties – had taken politically uncomfortable positions relative to the histrionic military-political propaganda of those days . . . propaganda that had gullible Americans believing that the Dirty Commies were only microns away from poisoning their precious bodily fluids if the Rooskies weren’t nuked first.

      Then came Kennedy. He fired General Walker. Resisted CIA manipulation during the Bay of Pigs fiasco. Fired the top guys at CIA. Stood up to the military during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Wanted to disengage Vietnam. The rest is history.

  3. Alan Dale says:

    ^ Well said.

  4. William King Harvey was named as participant by E.H. Hunt.
    He can actually be seen in Dealey Plaza (Willis) as probable indicator (Zapruder frames) for the fire stairs shooter as described in my Ibook ‘JFK High Noon in Dallas’. He seems to be wearing a bullet proof west (apron shaped) and his conduct in the seconds after the incident is revealing.
    Just to confirm: He is indeed a key person in the assassination.

  5. Jonathan says:

    I don’t dismiss the possibility Harvey had fore-knowledge of some sort but find it hard to believe he would have had a direct hand in killing JFK. His hatred for the Kennedys was open and notorious. While that establishes motive, it also ensures Harvey wouldn’t want to leave his fingerprints on any aspect of an assassination plot.

    That means either he didn’t lay hands on a plot to kill JFK or he did, but we’ll never know. I lean toward the former view. Besides, there were plenty of other dangerous characters who had the motive and means to kill JKF.

    • Paul says:

      Harvey may have been one of the two grassy knoll shooters seen by witnesses Ed Hoffman and the man in the railroad tower.

      • John McAdams says:

        Lee Bowers didn’t not see any shooters. He saw two men, who were not together. Neither of them was shooting.

        After the shots, he said one of them stayed around. He could not tell about the other, since his clothing blended in with the foliage.

    • Darwin says:

      Everyone involved was known to have hated Kennedy. Why do you think Harvey wasn’t involved for just this reason?

  6. Sam Browning says:

    In 1963 Harvey was morbidly obese, and in poor enough health, that such problems helped prevent him from getting the station chief slot in Laos. Assuming for the sake of argument that a shot was fired from the grassy knoll, whoever did it, cleared out fast, and managed to quickly hide the rifle. Harvey would have probably not been capable of even jogging at this point.

    Secondly Harvey, was formally FBI, and was known by other members of this oganization. Had he been in Dallas, he would have run the risk that a former collegue would have recognized him.

    Even had he been involved in the JFK assassination in some manner, (which I don’t believe) It is not logical that Harvey would have placed himself in a role where he could have been recognized, and which he would have had serious problems escaping.

    • Darwin says:

      Everyone commonly believed to have been involved in the assassination fits your description. Why does Harvey stand out as different then.

  7. Kennedy63 says:

    I’ve always been wary of Harvey and goose bumps rose on my skin when I read he was given ZR/RIFLE and colluded with KENNEDY’S enemies to assassinate CASTRO. Jonathan may have his reservations about HARVEY, but to have a highly closed operation, compartmentalized, and unaccountable, with direct ties to MAFIA and CUBAN assassins, with electronic and photographic operations in Mexico City and control of OSWALD’S 201 file – well…let’s just say he seems like the “fingerprints of intelligence” Oswald had all over him.

  8. Saxond says:

    Add John Martino’s name to that “plausible” list. He was picked up on wiretap, saying the following: “The anti-Castro people put Oswald together. Oswald didn’t know who he was working for–he was just ignorant of who was really putting him together. Oswald was to meet his contact at the Texas Theatre. They were to meet Oswald in the theatre, and get him out of the country, then eliminate him. Oswald made a mistake…There was no way we could get to him. They had Ruby kill him.” What is significant about Martino is that he was one of those circles that overlapped: mob, intelligence, business. In other words, the poster boy for Peter Dale Scott’s “deep politics.”

  9. Ronnie Wayne says:

    Flawed Patriot is good in as far as it goes. And it does deal with some of the suspicions about Harvey but concludes he would have never participated. It also deals with his notes on ZR Rifle. Write nothing down, written in his notes. Never use the word assassinate (or shoot, kill, whatever it was). Use Corsican, not Sicilian/Italian, they could be traceable to the Mafia. Note here: Soutre or whoever he was in Dallas 11/22/63, expelled from US that day. Use no one with an arrest record. And more.
    His meeting at sea for two days with Roselli in April 63′ is noteworthy.
    Could he run an operation from afar? I.E. did he still have secure communications links with say Angleton, Phillips, Morales? Could he say hop a ride on a military plane without showing up on the manifest?
    Would directing or coordinating from Italy give him plausible deniability. IMO, yes.
    Too much to ignore. Not enough to say yes he participated.
    Its not questionable that he sat up and ran an assassination program.

  10. LUCIEN SARTI says:

    HARVEY WAS TOO FAT TO DO ANY SHOOTING. ACTUAL SHOOTING DONE BY CUBANS WITH LOGISTICAL SUPPORT FROM CIA ROUGES AND LANDSDALE’S OFFICE.

    • Ronnie Wayne says:

      Your still alive? How old are you? You or Soutre, to your knowledge were not in Dallas on 11/22/63. Neither of you shot at Kennedy?

  11. echelon says:

    Paul said – “Harvey may have been one of the two grassy knoll shooters seen by witnesses Ed Hoffman and the man in the railroad tower”.

    No, whatever Harvey’s involvement was he wasn’t standing in DO with a rifle. As Larry Hancock points out in an interview with Brent Holland, CIA officers do not do the deed:

    BH: Do you think CIA operatives were in Dealey Plaza that day and did they pull the trigger?

    LH: CIA officers never pull the trigger. CIA officers never pull the trigger. That’s right. CIA employees never pull the trigger. It couldn’t be deniable if they did, that’s not the way … The paradigm that’s in place for 30-40 years is in place there. Might there be a CIA officer in Dallas? You bet. Is he the person with the weapon? No way. It just doesn’t work that way.

    BH: They would outsource it again.

    http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=6IBGMDrKWfc

  12. Arnaldo M Fernandez says:

    Bill Simpich has thoroughly analyzed the right stuff in State Secrets: “Two Guns” Harvey ran 1) the Staff D for SIGNINT (LHO was impersonated at least telephonically in Mexico City), the Cuba Task Force W (Harvey never recovered from being demoted to COS at Rome by the Kennedy Bros before he could overthrow Castro), and the ZR-RIFLE program (Harvey brought together a CIA team of assassins who were given to hate John for his refusal to invade Cuba with U.S. troops and also Bobby for meddling directly in CIA operations). This triple nest around Harvey is the most likely place to find who impersonated LHO in Mexico City and who killed JFK in Dallas.

  13. GM says:

    Does anyone know the identities, and the activities, of the anti-Castro Cubans who worked with Bill Harvey? I know that Harvey was very close to Johnny Roselli, but I assume he had access to a significant network of organised crime figures and anti-Castro Cubans in America.

    • Arnaldo M Fernandez says:

      About November 1961, Bissell appointed Harvey as team leader for killing Castro. Harvey immediately asked to transfer David Sanchez Morales to JMWAVE. He and Roselli were drinking partners in the Florida Keys along with Rip Robertson, the favorite CIA boom&bang guy among the Cuban exiles. Sanchez Morales was involved in the seminal anti-Castro Operation 40. His deputy for dealing with several hundred Cuban agents in JMWAVE was Tony Sforza, who had Cuban chief Joaquin Sanjenis as subordinate. According to Castro´s General Fabian Escalante, Operation 40 included Felix Rodriguez (the CIA officer involved in the hunt of Che Guevara), the well-known Luis Posada Carriles and Orlando Bosch, Rafael Quintero, Virgilio Paz Romero, Pedro Luis Diaz Lanz…

      • GM says:

        Thanks for the reply. If there was a plot against Kennedy, these are the type of people who could probably pull it off, given their involvement in assassination attempts against Castro. Are all of these individuals dead (I know Morales, Harvey died decades ago? Is there any files on them that have not been released (excluding Harvey, Morales)?

    • Neil says:

      Tony Varona was one of the Cuban Exile leaders who worked with Harvey.

      • Arnaldo M Fernandez says:

        Right! Rosselli passed the poison pills to Varona in a second attempt against Castro. Varona allegedly would be paid $150,000 if he succeeds in passing the pills to Juan Orta, an employee at Castro ‘s office, who ended up not killing Castro, but seeking asylum short before Bay of Pigs invasion.

  14. JG says:

    I thought it was clay shaw ?

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