C.G. Harvey, widow of CIA’s Bill Harvey, denounced JFK and loved a mobster

In this world-exclusive video, JFK Facts presents a fascinating interview with C.G. Harvey, the widow of legendary CIA officer William King Harvey. Clara Grace Harvey was a CIA officer herself who worked on Operation Paperclip, the agency’s program to evacuate scientists from Nazi Germany.

Filmed at an Indianapolis senior citizens home in 1999 by Scott and Andy Alderton, Clara Grace Harvey’s comments provide a unique first-hand testimony about how Harvey viewed President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy. C.G. Harvey expresses disdain for Robert F. Kennedy and describes the warm friendship she and her husband enjoyed with with Johnny Rosselli, a Las Vegas crime boss.

(The interview was recorded with C.G. Harvey’s permission. The footage was provided to JFK Facts by the Aldertons and is used with their permission. )

Who was Bill Harvey?

Harvey was considered one of the the best, if not the very best, operations officer in the CIA in the early 1960s. He was a squat, balding tank of a man with eyes that bulged because of a thyroid condition.

Richard Mahoney, a diplomat who wrote a penetrating history of the Kennedy years, described him like this:He was a rough man for rough assignments, a “boom and bang” type. He drank martinis to excess, packed a .45 wherever he went, and freely resorted to obscenity in all kinds of company With his aspect of an insolent fat plumber, he was not considered especially bright among the better born, but the appearance was misleading. Trained as an attorney, he had a penetrating command of intelligence work, with ten years experience in the field, and was a former FBI agent who understood the Hoover method of disguising tracks and disposing of enemies bureaucratically or otherwise.

Harvey tarted joined the CIA upon its creation in 1947 and served as its first chief of counterintelligence. According to Mahoney he also “began assembling a squad of assassins recruited from the ranks of organized criminals in Europe.” He went on to run the CIA’s Berlin base in the 1950s, and was credited with a great triumph of digging a tunnel under Soviet military headquarters and tapping their communications, a feat the CIA still celebrates. Along the way, he divorced his first wife and married Clara Grace Harvey, a fellow CIA officer who worked on Operation Paperclip, the agency’s program to evacuate scientists from Nazi Germany.

In 1960 Harvey was put in charge of ZR-RIFLE, the agency’s assassination program, mainly because of his connections to the Italian and Corsican crime syndicates. At the same time he ran Task Force W, the CIA’s project to overthrow Fidel Castro’s leftist government in Cuban. After a shouting match with Robert Kennedy during a tense meeting amid the Cuban missile crisis, Helms transferred him to the Rome station where he was known to win arguments by pointing his pistol at the head of his interlocutor. In The Devil’s Chessboard, David Talbot cites the account of a State Department official who served in Roman saying he saw Harvey on a domestic flight to Dallas in the fall of 1963, and wondered why he would go there. In his memoir, CIA director Richard Helms praised him as “wily, informed perceptive and deeply patriotic, adding “He was deliberately blunt and loudly outspoken, qualities that, with his heavy drinking were eventually to catch up with him.” Before his death in June 1976, he told C.G. Harvey to burn his personal papers when he passed. In handwritten notes on the ZR-RIFLE program, Harvey said that one key in assassination operations was to make sure a  communist took the blame.

In 1978 John Whitten, a senior CIA official who worked with Harvey in Berlin, told  the House Select Committee on Assassinations that Harvey was “gun nut” and “dangerous. Asked why Harvey might have told his wife to destroy his personal paper, Whitten replied. “He was too young to have assassinated McKinley or Lincoln. It could have been anything.”

That was Bill Harvey, a plausible JFK suspect.

In the two years following Harvey’s death, some investigators on the House Select Committee on Assassinations regarded him as a prime suspect in the assassination of President Kennedy, because of his harsh criticism of JFK’s Cuba policy and the role of Bobby Kennedy in it. Although no proof that Harvey was involved in JFK assassination has ever surfaced, his hostility to the Kennedys bordered on insubordination, as this video shows.

Hundreds of pages of Harvey’s still-secret operations files are due to be released in October 2017.


The Ghost: The Secret Life of CIA Spymaster James Jesus Angleton.

The Ghost by Jefferson Morley

The Ghost is the compulsively readable, often bizarre true-life story of American spymaster James Jesus Angleton – the CIA’s poetry-loving, orchid-gardening mole-hunter for almost 20 years. Capturing the extent of Angleton’s eccentricity, duplicity and alcohol-fueled paranoia would have challenged the writing skills of a Le Carre or Ludlum, and Jefferson Morley has done it with flair. This important book depicts the trail of wreckage left behind by Angleton in a CIA career that involved him in virtually every major spy-versus-spy drama of the Cold War and drew him deeply into the mysteries of the Kennedy assassination and the murder of one of JFK’s mistresses.”
—Philip Shenon, author of A Cruel and Shocking Act

Click here to pre-order: The Ghost: The Secret Life of CIA Spymaster James Jesus Angleton.

52 thoughts on “C.G. Harvey, widow of CIA’s Bill Harvey, denounced JFK and loved a mobster”

  1. So how did the Harvey’s come to know about LHO? G.C Harvey was employeed by the CIA worked in HTLingual, the international mail opening program run by the CIA.

  2. So happy to find this. CG is my great great Aunt. I never knew her or Bill but it’s awesome to finally see her on video! Thanks Andy!

  3. Chief of Station

    There is no way in this day in age a man like this would be able to maintain a Top Secret/Comp Security Clearance, it goes to show you how flawed the system was in those days.

  4. Jeff,

    In addition to the 1,100 key unreleased files, there may be another person to add whose has withheld files in the National Archives JFK database. The individual is Johnny Roselli.

    When searching the database for the Term “Roselli” and Restrictions “referred”, 66 records are listed. Many of these are currently categorized as Top Secret or Secret, Referred and Postponed in Full, which is more proof that key files need to be released. In addition, the listing of subjects included in these 66 files outlines topics such as William Harvey and anti-Castro groups.

    1. Flawed Patriot, pg. 222 “DAN HARDWAY REDUX”. “After Joannides shut down HSCA access to CIA files…started requesting documents which gave the CIA time to be careful. Previously they hadn’t had the time to vet the documents.”
      “One of the documents was Sheffield Edwards debriefing of Johnny Rosseli. It was two inches thick. When I first saw it whole pages of it were blanked out…not blackened as they usually are. Blanked. We never got that version. When we got it, it had been totally re-typed.”
      “When I asked the CIA in May 2002 for a copy of the interrogation report under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), I was told that a search of the files had failed to reveal any such document.”

      1. What do the Readers know about Sheffield Edwards? As I search the National Archives database for the Term- “Edwards” and Restrictions “referred”, 30 records are listed. Over half of these are currently noted as Top Secret and Postponed in Full.

  5. Just to give it some context JFK visited Rome on the 1st and 2nd July 63 and Harvey would have arrived at virtually the same time to take up his new position as COS Rome, possibly a day or two earlier.As of June 27th he was still winding up his headquarters responsibilities in preparation for assignment for Rome.

  6. There is evidence of Harvey’s involvement in the JFK assassination via Eugene Dinkin, and E. Howard Hunt’s deathbed confession (no quotations) corroborates this.

  7. Great article, thanks a lot for sharing and also for the additional info posted. Would be great to see the entire thing, this woman’s mindset is simply staggering.

  8. I’m Andy Alderton (not Doug) the video has my correct name but not the story (we have asked Jeff to correct it) and I am the one who is asking the questions. This was over 15 years ago and my brother Scott who was operating the camera worked at the retirement village she was living at in Indianapolis. CG was a real interesting lady and staunchly conservative. He had told me about Mrs. Harvey for a while and she mentioned her husband has lived in our hometown of Terre Haute. I asked our local historian to do some digging on him and found out his mom worked at Indiana State Teachers college (now Indiana State university) I went there with info for her about WKH family and I just wanted to hear some of her great stories (working at the White House, Eleanor Roosevelt, she knew Jesse Owens) she truly led an incredible life all the JFK stuff was almost a secondary thought. This was 1999 so the JFK info I kind of learned on the Internet just before I met her. we are not professionals but my brother decided to bring a camera along for history purposes. She was kind to my brother and we just were going to archive her stories. When I first brought up operation Mongoose I remember her starring at my brother a little perturbed like “what the hell are you doing?” “Why did you bring him in here? if I recall she was upset at the portrayal of her husband in the “Wilderness of Mirrors” and wanted to defend him. I then realized the more I “agreed” with her views the more she talked to us. RFK was not an idiot by any stretch and in fact I am a big admirer. I believe I recall her mentioning destroying some of his papers. And showed us stuff she did not want on camera. The only thing she gave me (which I still have) is a rough draft of a resume with his handwritten annotations. She showed us letters from Angelton but did not want them photographed. Only wish I would have had more time to prepare. As I said I had never even heard of WKH till Just a few weeks before an in ’99 internet did have near the info it does now. She was a fascinating woman and clear headed and sharp. Just a fierce defender of her husband. I do recall vividly her saying that WKH intentionally did not kill Castro and misled RFK but made it look like he was ” trying”. My brother may recall a little better but she mentioned the passing of poison pills to someone for show and that if he wanted Castro dead he would be dead. But WKH did not believe in killing heads of state. And again my brother knew her much better than I did but one thing that stood out that she said is that WKH found out about the missles in Cuba and alerted Bobby who didn’t deem it worthy of telling JFK so, on his own dime, he flew to Chicago where JFK was and knew a man in JFK’s secret service detail and was able to get to JFK and told him to start the blockade. I think she said JFK left Chicago taking “sick” and flew back to DC that night and as they say the rest is history. She Was probably full of shit but I was convinced she believed it. Though in her eyes WKH walked in water.
    All the credit needs to go to Scott he and CG hit off and became friendly. he filmed it and always thought that it could be insightful. Held on to it all these years and found this site. And decided to give it to Jeff. Hope it can give some insight.

    1. Oh I forgot that she beamed when talking about Rosselli and it appeared to me they (CG & WKH) as well as Rosseli and his wife/or girlfriend I can’t remember, genuinely had a great time with each other and seemed close like dear friends and spent many times together.

    2. Hello Andy,

      Thanks to you, Scott, and Jeff Morley for sharing this unexpected little gem.

      I’m curious to know if the entire conversation has been transcribed, and if that might be available?

      1. We have not transcribed the full conversation. Let me talk to Scott and see what he thinks. Most of the conversation was as about her life (she went to Ohio state and took square dancing with Jesse Owens, worked with General Marshall, was witness to many historical events). Well let you know.

    3. Why on earth would an anti-communist like Bill Harvey not want to assassinate Castro? Hard to believe, as stated above, he didn’t believe in killing heads of state. Curious.

  9. Wow great job Jeff you come up with the classic videos. I would love to see an interview with Anne Goodpasture.

  10. CG doesn’t help with JFK case. It’s no news she and her hubby held JFK and RFK in low esteem. The Roselli connection is not news.

    The most interesting part of the vid is CG herself. Assertive, clear in her expression, unafraid. She and Bill Harvey must have been quite the pair.

    I rate close to zero the probability CG or Bill had anything to do with the JFK assassination.

    I’m far more interested in Ruth Paine.

      1. Yes. ZR/RIFLE is a distraction, I believe, as are all other CIA-guys-did-it theories. It’s clear to me the framing of Oswald was the framing of the CIA and ensured the CIA would cover up its relationship with Oswald and obstruct the search for truth.

  11. To refer to a mobster as a ‘patriot’ is very revealing. I am quite amazed that Roselli is not referred to as a useful contact, but as a friend. Harvey’s files need releasing and will presumably confirm activity with Phillips and Joannides.

  12. Great interview. The vitriol drips from this woman’s mouth! Wonder if she was Bircher. Kudos to Scott and Doug Alderton for sharing this enlightening interview. Roselli was a patriot huh? hahaha! Patriots that conspire to shoot our President…uh, I mean Castro.

  13. For those interested in Harvey’s career aside from how it relates to the JFK years, he’s a major player in the recent book about Kim Philby entitled “A Spy Among Friends.” Both Harvey and his wife were very heavy drinkers, and there’s a very interesting anecdote about an incident between the Harveys and Guy Burgess at a drunken dinner party Philby hosted in the early 1950s.

  14. “those people were scum” – unlike her husband who consorted with sociopathic murderers and drug dealers; as for the 2-prostitutes in JFK’s bed, I continue to emphasize the source – complete b.s. Especially coming from someone whose husband’s Mafia friends were in the business of pimping as well.

    1. Allan I suggest you go to the 21 minute mark of Lawrence Wright’s speech about the atmosphere of Dallas in 1963. Lawrence Wright’s father was a banker in Ponca City, Oklahoma in the year 1950 when Sen. Kennedy came to visit. The advance people for JFK said that he required the services of a prostitute for his trip to Oklahoma.


      JFK would often require prostitutes to be provided to him whenever and wherever he traveled. This was true for pretty much his entire political life.

      Mrs. Harvey is telling us the 100% truth about JFK demanding two hookers on his trip to Rome. Standard operating procedure for JFK.

  15. Very interesting interview. I wonder if the interviewer asked Mrs Harvey if she had read the documents her husband kept, before burning them after his death? Strange comments about Jackie Kennedy, to call her “scum” is ludicrous. Mrs Harvey seems to detest President Kennedy because of his personal life, this is very difficult to take at face value. The Kennedys were hated primarily because of their politics and success. The interview also confirms the extremely dangerous and powerful close personal relations between Harvey and Roselli.

    It is not important, but why did the interviewer agree with Mrs Harvey that Robert Kennedy was an “idiot”? RFK was no idiot.

    1. GM November 7, 2014 at 7:40 am

      I wonder if the widow Harvey’s distain for the Kennedy bunch isn’t actually due more to the treatment of her husband by Bobby than it is due to the personal life of JFK. From accounts I’ve read Bobby was very rough on Harvey for not getting things done in Cuba as per Operation Mongoose. Operation Mongoose being rather silly and ill-considered to begin with.

      And while Bobby was certainly no idiot I believe he was, in the words of LBJ, a “shit ass”. He certainly lacked the intellect, the calmness under pressure and the charm of his older brother. Even Ted Sorenson had some rather unkind words to say about Bobby.

      1. @Bill Clarke

        In regards to RFK: I think he had the intellect all right. I think he was very passionate, he was extremely driven, determined, and there was perhaps a mercurial side to his personality (which maybe accounts for the negative views that some people held of him ). In his younger days in politics I think RFK was hot headed, I don’t think there is much doubt about that. I am not an admirer of LBJ. I would not necessarily endorse his views on Robert Kennedy, lets be honest they hated each other. I think RFK’s assassination was a disaster for America, he was maturing and really developing. I reckon his developing political vision has stood the test of time, particularly in its focus on poverty and inequality. It is easy to forget with the passage of time that Robert Kennedy was only around 43 years old when he was assassinated, which in political terms is very young.

      2. @Bill Clarke

        I don’t know much about Bill Harvey. However, it does appear as though he was becoming more and more of a loose cannon as the Kennedy administration progressed (particularly in regards to his actions during the Cuban Missile Crisis). I think you are right about why Bill Harvey and his wife hated the Kennedys, although I don’t think JFK/RFK’s politics would have gone down too well with them either!).

      3. I would agree with that. She seemed to have way more disdain for RFK than JFK. And was very upset at how her husband was treated by RFK.

      4. I think in terms of being a “real shit ass” the cake has to go to LBJ. Bobby didn’t make people go into the bathroom with him while he took a dump. Regarding stability under pressure, it was Bobby who, along with his brother, JFK, and only a tiny minority of others (Ted Sorensen for ex.) opposed a first strike on Cuba in October of 1962. We can thank Jack and Bobby for preventing a nuclear war. Bobby wasn’t a saint, but his hatred of Hoover (which was mutual) rested in a frustration with J. Edgar’s unwillingness to recognize that organized crime really existed in the USA (J. Edgar was an “organized crime denier”). Finally, it was Bobby who came to realize that Vietnam was a massive failure and waste of US resources by the mid-sixties, while LBJ continued to plod onward like a dumb mule, until it ruined his chances for trying to run again in 1968.

        I’d say this widow’s disdain was for JFK and RFK, just as the “Wanted for Treason” poster put up in the Dallas newspaper on Nov. 22 aimed its vitriol at the President. Bobby was of course hated as well by these extreme right wing nuts like the Harveys.

        1. JSA November 9, 2014 at 8:35 am

          Oh I don’t think there is any doubt that both men could be labeled as “shit asses”. The nasty character of LBJ is well documented. Bobby, since he looked like a Kennedy and since he talked like a Kennedy, often escapes such critical review. About the worst you hear about Bobby is that he was ruthless and abrasive and often this is turned into a good thing by the Camelot crowd to keep Bobby looking like a Kennedy.

          I believe we can thank JFK and Khrushchev for not blowing up the world during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Bobby served his brother well here but I’m not so sure he gets a large share of the credit for the happy ending.

          Have you ever thought that Bobby hated JEH because Hoover had so much dirt on his brother that Bobby couldn’t fire Hoover? Many others have.

          Bobby wasn’t anti-war when it was his brother’s war and didn’t become so until it became politically expedient to do so. That takes some of the shine off of Bobby being anti-war.

          Even some of the Camelot crowd didn’t care for Bobby either. Here is what one member has to say about him. “Ted Sorensen remembered him (Bobby) as “militant, aggressive, intolerant, opinionated, and somewhat shallow in his convictions…..more more like his father than his brother.”

          “Camelot’s Court; Inside the Kennedy White House”, page 44.

          This coming from one of the biggest Kennedy apologist to walk down the road. Now you might like old man Joe as well but he was a very sleazy guy.

    2. [GM:] “It is not important, but why did the interviewer agree with Mrs Harvey that Robert Kennedy was an “idiot”? RFK was no idiot.”


      It seems that the senile Mrs. Harvey wasn’t even aware that she was being recorded. The interviewer was astutely loosening her tongue.

      1. She was not senile! And she was absolutely aware she was being filmed. She asks more than a few times to turn off the camera off. She was very smart and I was surprised at how sharp she was. Well aware of what was going on in the world at that time. Ferociously anti communist and extremely conservative. Scott and I are very liberal. Yes I absolutely tried to loosen her tongue by “agreeing” with her on issues but as I said below, she seemed to open up the more I did this. She hated the Clintons because she felt they would sell out to China. I feel she wanted to do her best to defend her husband and that is why she agreed to let us record her.

  16. Freudian slip: “[Rosselli] had been recruited for assassination purposes on Kennedy — on Castro.” She references him being recruited by another guy from the FBI.

    Wondering if that could be Guy Banister? Former FBI agent in charge Chicago.

      1. Interestingly enough when the CIA were looking for a cutout to deal with the Mafia in assassinating Castro in 1960, I believe they were considering Guy Bannister. They checked him out and weren’t too impressed. By this time Jim O’Connell had decided to go with Robert Maheu.

  17. This is the kind of ultra-reactionary POV i assumed was going on among the top suspects in the JFK conspiracy – Harvey, Morales, Phillips, et al. This is a greaf validation of the visceral, irrational hatred of JFK held by top intelligence employees of our government during that time. The open embrace of a mobster ‘patriot’ who also clearly figures in the conspiracy is just icing on the cake.

  18. Growing up in the D.C. suburbs during the sixties, I heard lots of these kind of people’s rantings. Many of the people who were CIA lectured about the importance of being for “God and Country” and not questioning authority. I actually heard at my parents’ cocktail parties one drunken rant by a CIA friend of my dad’s, one of the more rabid, “gung ho” types who said “Kennedy was a coward who should have sent the tanks right into the Berlin Wall just as it was being built [in the summer of 1961]”. He HATED the Kennedy’s and wasn’t shy about his passionate hatred, once he had had a couple glasses of scotch. Kennedy was like Lincoln in that he had enemies who wanted him DEAD—or out of power ends justify the means, no questions asked. All this post-modern revisionist rubbish I keep hearing about how “everyone loved JFK” is just total B.S. He was controversial in his day. He was not popular with the cowboy right wing nuts, many of whom had established themselves in CIA and the military after WW2. I was witness as a kid to some of the same rantings as Mrs. Harvey.

  19. Interesting slip of the tongue by this “patriot” lover–“Rosselli was recruited for the “assassination of Kennedy…ugh..Castro.”

    Her husband, a noted drunk,was involved in killing other people as his profession and befriended a crook and thug; perhaps extra-marital activity isn’t something to praise, but what qualifies more as being “scum”?

  20. That’s quite a Freudian slip: “[Rosselli] had been recruited for assassination purposes on Kennedy — on Castro.”

    1. Yes when she said that my brother and I looked at each other with the “holy shit” look. I am confident that it was a simple slip of the tongue. According to her WKH never had any intention of killing Castro. He simply made it appear that he was trying to. She said that he testified to this on some committee and said something along the lines ” if I wanted to kill Castro he would be dead and we would not be having this conversation now” did WKH testify in a government hearing of some sort?

  21. Wow! Very revealing to those of us who believe there is a relatively high probability that W.K. Harvey became involved after the Robert Maheu-Johnny Roselli connection that Jack Anderson reported in his expose’ back in 1988. Her slip of the tongue at the very end of the clip almost blew my mind!

  22. Wow!

    Thanks for sharing. In the rest of the interview, I wonder if Mrs. Harvey refers to either her husband’s disposition after being removed from Cuban operations (whereupon he was transferred to Rome) or makes any reference to burning the contents of her husband’s safe?

    Wilderness of Mirrors by David C. Martin is essential on Harvey (and Angleton). Bayard Stockton’s “Flawed Patriot” is worth reading. Bill Simpich has a lot of good material relevant to understanding who Bill Harvey was in “State Secret.” Also, Douglas Valentine has some valuable information on WKH in his “The Strength of the Wolf.”

    The first call Mrs. Harvey received expressing sympathy after the death of her husband was from an obviously bereaved Johnny Rosseli.

    1. Christopher V. Pike

      Do any of the authors and their works indicate whether Harvey was in the U.S. on the weekend of the assassination? Likelihood is that Harvey was in Rome.

  23. S.r. Dusty Rohde

    Bill Harvey was also one of the Key people blocking information being made public that related to the assassination and CIA operations.

    “pass on in the strongest terms the CIA’s position….we would write no document pertaining to this operation (Mongoose) and would participate in no
    open meeting discussing it. Our contract agents in Miami and Los Angeles have
    been assured that no reference to this operation appears in our central files”.

    This includes contract agents working both sides of the fence.

    Operation Mongoose:

    “Objective: To provide for a covert support base in Los Angeles to liason with Roselli, Giancana, Licavoli group and to establish a fixed base operation that will provide air logistic capabilities for Cuban groups controlled by JM/WAVE”.

    Per William King Harvey, Chief, Task Force M.

    This is but one example.

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