Bill Harvey: ‘Phoney 201 [file] … all documents therein forged and backdated’

“Should have phoney 201 in RI [Records Integration] to backstop this, all documents therein forged & backdated. Should look like a CE file …. Cover: planning should include provision for blaming Sovs or Czechs in case of blow.”

Excerpt from “Project ZRRIFLE” notes, created in December 1960, by Bill Harvey, the CIA officer in charge of this assassinations project.

A 201 file, also known as a “personality” file, is a standard CIA record. So Harvey is proposing that the agency’s own internal records be doctored.

Harvey’s comment also shows that falsely implicating communists in assassinations perpetrated by the CIA was not a conspiracy theorist’s delusion. It was a tactic recommended by one of the CIA’s most formidable operators.

See the House Select Committee Assassinations writeup on ZRRIFLE.


  1. Jason L. says:

    Jean – thanks, that’s interesting info, and I haven’t seen it in discussions of this topic by Newman, et al. My statement was apparently erroneous if all these people were true defectors.

    Still, it’s possible that these other defectors with late blooming 201 files were part of the very same program as Oswald. I also wonder whether any of these other defectors threatened to give the Soviets classified information in the presence of a CIA officer? You’d think that would have immediately triggered the creation of a counterintelligence file.

  2. Jason L. says:

    The comments have gone on a tangent a little bit. The story is evidence that 201 files were forged/manipulated to cover intelligence activity, and specifically to cover assassination programs. There is strong evidence that Oswald’s 201 file was at least manipulated, and details inside the file were probably intentionally made to be incorrect (his physical description, name, etc.). In addition, his 201 file was not opened until a year after he defected to the USSR, something that is basically unthinkable if he was a true defector. This is evidence not so easily dismissed that Oswald had a CIA affiliation.

  3. Photon says:

    The Gehlen organization was riddled with East German agents as any serious student of history knows.
    Why bring up a topic that has absolutely no connection with the assassination? Leslie has a habit of throwing out loads of information that has absolutely nothing to do with the assassination nor even the topic at hand.
    The funny thing is that none of the posters here have even discussed this so-called assassination memo for what it is- a note with no context signifying nothing.

    • Dan says:

      CIA liason with the Gehlen Organization was conducted out of a Munich CIA office, rather than the Berlin station. The Gehlen Organization was very important to CIA operations against the Soviet Union, as CIA essentially had none of its own and used the Gehlen Org for that purpose. Allen Dulles and Reinhardt Gehlen had a close and personal relationship that continued to Gehlen’s retirement as head of BND in 1968.

      • leslie sharp says:

        I’m not familiar with the limitations imposed on CIA offices with regard to their counterparts just down the road. If nothing else, I would think there was a lot of gossip between Pullach, Munich and Berlin. Certainly Gehlen had been an influence during the air lift; why would he suddenly drop off the radar of the Berlin station where Harvey spent time? It’s a stretch, I recognize that, but the hypothesis is that this was a collective effort involving elements within the CIA more aligned with Gehlen (rather than vice versa) than perhaps anyone wants to admit.

        • Dan says:

          From my reading, the reason the Gehlen Org was not handled through Berlin station was the risk of Berlin being overrun by the Soviets. The documentation on Gehlen could not be subject to such a risk of capture. In fact this is why the Gehlen Org was situated at Pullach, due to the relative insecure status of Berlin. By the way, the Gehlen Org headquarters was the old Nazi Party headquarters compound at Pullach, later taken over by Martin Bormann as a compound for the Nazi elite.

          • Photon says:

            Gehlen was a legend in his own mind, nothing more. The value of his intelligence was vastly overstated and was repeatedly compromised by East German and Soviet disinformation. His wartime intelligence was limited to accurately predicting Soviet advances while the Eastern Front was collapsing and even a blind man could see the handwriting on the wall.
            Perhaps his most over-the-top claim was being a secret member of the July Plot to kill Hitler- a claim never proven or confirmed. People in the know were highly displeased by “Der Dienst” and the ridiculous claims by a phony who gave more information inadvertently to Markus Wolf than he ever did to the CIA. It is doubtful that he even knew the significance of Cottbus before informed by American (and U.K.) sources.

          • leslie sharp says:

            And three men from Wanssee ended up with Gehlen in Pullach.

    • Mitch says:

      The ZR/RIFLE notes literally signify that the CIA was developing a new assassination capacity, headed by a man who hated the Kennedy’s. I’m pretty sure that’s potentially relevant to the assassination of the Kennedy’s. Harvey’s concurrent operational and personal relationship with Johnny Rosselli along with a directive to falsify files really undercuts many of the “lone nut” criticisms.

      • Photon says:

        What evidence do you have that Harvey hated JFK, or even disliked him?
        Even if that was true ( it isn’t) how could you jump from hatred to murder?
        As the attempt to enlist the Mafia to get Castro was a colossal failure, what makes you think that the could pull off a more difficult task- getting the President?

        • JSA says:

          CIA man Harvey couldn’t have pulled off a domestic US coup on his own. That’s absurd. He would have had to have had the full support of other key CIA people (Dick Helms, James Angleton, and ex-CIA chief Allen Dulles). He would have had to have had the support of the Joint Chiefs, J. Edgar Hoover at FBI, and of course, Lyndon Johnson. I think he had their support and help. The hit wasn’t the most difficult thing to pull off, although it required a lot of coordination. The most difficult part was covering it up. This required an incredible amount of work, a commission had to be set up and the media had to be brought along, no easy task. After that, the script of one lone communist sympathizer who, if reporters dug too deeply into his leftist connections, might lead to a nuclear war—that was the perfect cover. Keeping McNamara and the Kennedy cabinet in the dark was also not an easy task, but it was handled masterfully, by removing them from Washington, on a flight over the Pacific Ocean. McNamara remained in the Pentagon, but was kept out of the coup planning loop, as was of course Bobby Kennedy, the President’s brother.
          CIA assets in the media helped push the scripted story, and the accused assassin was murdered conveniently before he could go to trial.

          Did I leave anything out, Photon?

          • Photon says:

            The question should be did you leave ANYBODY out?
            Your scenario would entail literally hundreds of conspirators. That is simply not rational.

        • Paula says:

          How do you jump from Oswald’s alleged hatred of Kennedy to murder? The fact is the intelligence world had a lot of trained killers who hated Kennedy and thought nothing of using assassination to bring about the world government they desired. Why wouldn’t they kill Kennedy?

          The Mafia killed a lot of people in the US, where they live and operate relatively freely. And JFK had a lot less security than Castro.

        • david thurman says:

          Re: Photon, November 4, 2013, “What evidence do you have that Harvey hated JFK, or even disliked him?”

          How about the youTube vid of C.G. Harvey, widow of Bill.

    • leslie sharp says:

      Why would the CIA be throwing money and man hours at Gehlen if he was such a buffoon? Some of Wisner s ten-slash-two directive “unvouchered funds” ended up underwriting Gehlen’s hitherto unfunded operations. Why would Stuart Symington direct Ackerman (significant role in the NSA from 1953) to work closely with Gehlen just as the Air Force was establishing its own intelligence operation? Why risk that progress by aligning with a fool if you consider Gehlen as such? Could Robert Webster and LHO have been caught up in an upgraded version of one of those operations? Why would US private interests choose to help fund RFE – which relied on the “great transmitter,” the brainchild of Wisner and Gehlen when the funds were either drying up or being challenged behind the scenes? Why would the CIA assign as liaison between Gehlen and Dulles/Wisner, a man like James H. Critchfield who would be promoted to a CIA power position in the Near East after Gehlen’s Organization was successfully incorporated into NATO; and later serve as liaison between the oil industry and the CIA? Why waste talent like Critchfield on Gehlen if his operations were meaningless as you suggest?

      • Dan says:

        As noted, the Gehlen Org was central to CIA operations against the USSR and East bloc. It could be said that the CIA was built around the Gehlen Org. Gehlen is reported to have had his own agenda- to determine Germany’s international alliances and to rehabilitate the German General Staff. In 1961 General Adolph Heusinger, formerly of the WWII German General Staff, was named head of the NATO military committee at a ceremony in Washington attended by President Kennedy. Heusinger had been known as “Hitler’s favorite general”, and was in the room with Hitler when the bomb went off on July 20, 1944.

      • Photon says:

        Beggars can’t be choosers. By the end of the fifties it was evident that Gehlen’s organization was hopelessly penetrated.It wasn’t the first time the agency threw good money after bad.Fortunately U.K. Sources took up the slack.

    • Dan says:

      If Gehlen was such a “phony” as you say, why was Allen Dulles dispatched by CIA to attend Gehlen’s retirement dinner in 1968? And why did Dulles report back that it was good to see all of the old friends gathered?

  4. Alan Dale says:

    There seems to be very little commentary whenever reference is made to William King Harvey.

    Why is that?

    Wilderness of Mirrors by David C. Martin
    Flawed patriot by Bayard Stockton
    State Secret: Wiretapping in Mexico City, Double Agents, and the Framing of Lee Oswald by Bill Simpich
    Nexus by Larry Hancock
    Spycatcher by Peter Wright
    The Strength of the Wolf by Douglass Valentine
    Bloody Treason by Noel Twynan

    That’s only a partial list of materials which refer to Harvey’s actions. I’d appreciate the addition of anything that anyone else would care to recommend.

    • Kemper says:

      It ain’t non-fiction, but the Bill Harvey character is central to Norman Mailer’s Harlot’s Ghost.

    • Dan says:

      Spy novelist Robert Littell wrote a fiction book in 1986 or so titled “Sisters” that is said to feature Angleton-like and Harvey-like characters in the context of the JFK assassination. Littell published a novel last year titled “Young Philby” that contains a non-fiction chapter that involves Angleton and Philby.

    • Russ Tarby says:

      David Talbot’s forthcoming book about the life of Allen Dulles, ‘The Devil’s Chessboard,’ suggests that Dulles himself admired Harvey as a , clever, talented and ruthless intelligence operative.
      Page 469:
      Dulles impressed by Harvey’s Berlin tunnel…
      November 1961 ZR Rifle puts Harvey together with Johnny Rosselli.
      Talbot interviewed Harvey’s widow, CG Harvey – herself an ex-spook who accompanied Werner von Braun to the U.S. – who confirmed Bill’s hatred for RFK & love for Johnny Rosselli. Harvey disdained Col. Edw. Lansdale who helmed the Kennedy brothers’ “Operation Mongoose,” the anti-Castro operation that Harvey thought was all for show.
      Bill Harvey was sent to Rome after angering RFK by sending a series of raiding parties into Cuba at the height of the Missile Crisis. Rome was JJ Angleton’s idea.
      Mark Wyatt, Harvey’s deputy officer in Rome, gave a 1998 interview with journalist Fabrizio Calvi. Wyatt said he saw Bill Harvey on a plane heading to Dallas in early November 1963. “I’m here to see what’s happening,” Wyatt remembers him saying, in essence.
      Talbot quotes HSCA’s Dan Hardway: “I wouldn’t be surprised if Bill Harvey was in Dallas in 1963. We considered Harvey to be one of our primary suspects from the very start.” Harvey’s travel records remain classified.

  5. leslie sharp says:

    Reference to the National Security Agency in this document is fascinating. WK Harvey was stationed in Berlin in the early 1950’s at the same time that the Gehlen Org, comprised of former Third Reich espionage agents, was collaborating with the CIA to establish a specialized intelligence operation during the Cold War. The Berlin/Gehlen/CIA thrust was in collaboration with Frank Wisner of the OPC (the mini-CIA) and the newly formed Department of the Air Force under W. Stuart Symington. John B. Ackerman, Symington’s conduit in the acquisition of aerial intelligence operations involving Wisner and Gehlen, was employed by the National Security Agency through 1960 when he retired from his San Antonio, TX assignment as the head of Air Force Security and Intelligence.

  6. George Simmons says:

    From the HSCA:
    “Even though Mr Harvey personally had a motive, and had access to the means and the opportunity to kill Kennedy, the above discussion represents the sum of the investigation conducted by this committee into any possible connections between ZRRIFLE and the assassination”

    In other words, there was no investigation at all.
    For there to be an open and thorough investigation of the assassination, the CIA have to be treated as suspects with the means and opportunity.
    It is ludicrous that the CIA decided what documents to show the investigation. They were suspects and should have been compelled to hand over all documents.
    50 years after the assassination and a thorough investigation has still not taken place. It is small wonder that people still search for answers.

  7. Dan says:

    There is a CIA analysis in the Oswald 201 file after 11/22/63 of how the KGB would organize an assassination. KGB would use an assassin whose connections were entirely to the opposite of the ideological spectrum- a favorite background for a KGB assassin would be a rightist from Western Europe with no ties to the USSR or east bloc. CIA concluded that Oswald’s numerous and conspicuous ties to the USSR and Cuba eliminated him as a possible KGB assassin (and that the KGB had trained the Cubans). Some of this “false flag” intelligence technique is apparent in the Harvey notes cited in this post.

  8. Paula says:

    The resistance to the “conspiracy” theories of JFK’s murder seems to stem from the premise that such things don’t or can’t happen in the US, because we’re not some banana republic. Surely the most powerful politician on earth couldn’t be murdered by his subordinates, no?

    But the history of the intelligence agencies suggests otherwise. They murdered heads of state in a lot of places, why would they stop outside our borders? Certainly not for any moral or principled reasons.

    One of the ironies here is that lone gunman proponents usually cite Oswald’s (totally unproven) hatred of JFK as a motive. Yet the much more deep abiding hatred of intelligence officials, anti-Castro exiles and mafioso dons — who had a lot of experience in planning and executing murders, and much more to gain from the president’s death than Oswald — is dismissed by those same people. Because, of course, that kind of thing doesn’t happen here….

    • James says:

      Spot on Paula.

    • Joseph says:

      I agree with you Paula. As Americans we tend to believe an overthrow couldn’t happen here. But the history of coups d’états show that between 1952 and 2000 33 countries experienced just such an event. Three of them occurred in 1963, the year that President Kennedy was assassinated. Guatemala, Ecuador and Honduras. Human nature being alike all over the world, it’s not impossible to believe it could have happened here, if only on a more secretive level.

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