Bill Harvey, armed and dangerous

Bill Harvey
William King Harvey

Since we published the first on-camera interview with CIA widow, CG Harvey, I’ve been getting grief for publishing her allegedly false statements about John, Jackie and Robert Kennedy.

I don’t see anything demonstrably false in what CG Harvey said. I believe the story that JFK had invited Italian prostitutes into his bed two at a time but I can’t prove that it’s true. I agree that CG Harvey’s comments need more context.

Who was William K. Harvey?

He was the CIA’s best. While fat and alcoholic, he was also agile, energetic, and blessed with a phenomenal memory. He was deeply versed in espionage techniques and audacious in his secret operations. He was “America’s James Bond” (though hardly as svelte or debonair as the fictional British spy).

I am not alone among JFK scholars in thinking Harvey is a plausible suspect in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.


  • Harvey was openly contemptuous and insubordinate to Robert Kennedy during the Cuban missile crisis. RFK demanded the CIA remove him from Cuba policy and Harvey was sent to Rome where he stewed in alcohol and played with guns.
  • He was a dangerous man. More than one person who encountered Harvey in Rome recalled how he liked to settle arguments: by taking out a favorite handgun, loading it, pointing it at the head of the other person, and asking if they perhaps agreed with him after all.
  • His colleagues regarded him as dangerous. John Whitten, a senior CIA officer who worked with Harvey for many years both in Berlin and Langley, described him as a “hard-boiled, unsubtle, ruthless guy who was in my opinion, a very dangerous man.”
  • Harvey was involved in the CIA’s plot to kill Fidel Castro in the fall of 1963. The latest CIA releases show that Harvey had a role in the AMLASH operation in October 1963, long after he had supposedly been banished from Cuba operations. In other words, Harvey pursued an assassination conspiracy outside of his job assignment.
  • Harvey had something to hide. When Congress re-opened the JFK assassination investigation in 1976, Harvey was dying and knew they would come looking for him. He told CG to destroy all of his personal papers after his death. She complied.

With all that in mind, watch the CG Harvey interview again.

Other interesting facts: CG’s initials stood for Clara Grace. She was also a CIA officer and participated in the operation to bring Nazi rocket scientists to America. She died in 2000 at age 86.

CIA Suspicions

By the way, Whitten, who retired as the chief of the CIA’s Mexico and Central America desk, knew CG Harvey and thought she was “a fine person.” Her husband was a different matter.

“Harvey was a man who did great damage to the agency,” Whitten said. (See HSCA testimony of “John Scelso,” May 17, 1978, p. 151.)

CIA officer John Whitten

Whitten’s candid comments about Harvey, made under oath, show that JFK conspiracy suspicions, while sometimes scoffed at in the media, permeated to the highest levels inside the CIA.

When asked why Harvey might have told his wife to destroy his papers, Whitten’s reply was sardonic and telling.

“He was too young to have assassinated McKinley and Lincoln,” Whitten said. “It could have been anything.”

Whitten was not accusing Harvey of being involved in a conspiracy. But he clearly didn’t think such suspicions were far-fetched.

(Whitten was cashiered from the CIA for trying to mount a normal counterespionage investigation of accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald, a revealing story that I told  in “The Good Spy,” for the Washington Monthly.)

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, entitled “Flawed Patriot.” Once an admirer of Harvey, Stockton concluded that he ultimately became a menace. The book offers a careful assessment of Harvey’s role in JFK’s assassination story. Stockton found no proof of involvement but didn’t exclude the possibility.

JFK co-Conspirator?

Without all the evidence, questions about Harvey cannot be answered definitively.

The CIA retains 123 pages of material on Harvey’s secret operations that have never been made public. These operations took place more than 50 years ago, yet the CIA says they cannot be released until October 2017, at the earliest — for reasons of “national security.

Do these records concern Oswald or the assassination of JFK?

Some people will dismiss the possibility. But the CIA does not dismiss the possibility, so I do not dismiss it. The CIA won’t say anything about what’s in those files. So it is possible that they will shed light on Oswald, or JFK, or the Castro assassination plots. If so any conclusions drawn now would be premature.

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