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The spymaster on November 22

Excerpted from Scorpions’ Dance: The President, the Spymaster and Watergate (St Martin’s Press, 2022

“Richard Helms disliked the term spymaster, but no other word captures his extraordinary—and invisible—position in the wake of Kennedy’s assassination. The deputy director had one hand-picked case officer in Miami, George Joannides, running the AMSPELL network, which was generating headlines across the country and around the world that Kennedy had been killed by a communist

How CIA propaganda assets shaped JFK headlines

Excerpted from Scorpions’ Dance: The President, the Spymaster and Watergate (St Martin’s Press, 2022

“I waited fifty minutes,” Lanuza recalled. “Then I started to call my list.” Decades later he could still rattle off the reporters’ names and publications from memory. “I called Hal Hendrix. He was the most important person in Miami News.” Hendrix, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of the missile crisis, would later a corporate executive and CIA asset in Chile. Lanuza called Mary Louise Wilkinson, a sympathetic reporter at the Miami News. He called John Dille, a writer at Life Magazine who had written a laudatory cover story on the DRE.

The CIA’s favorite Cubans linked Oswald to Castro

[Excerpted from Scorpions’ Dance: The President, the Spymaster and Watergate (St Martin’s Press, 2022)]

“At ten past six that evening, Miami station chief Ted Shackley sent a cable to Des Fitzgerald with a copy going to Helms’ office. The station had heard from Luis Fernandez Rocha, the secretary general of the Cuban Student Directorate, whom Helms had grilled in his office almost exactly one year before. The DRE boys said they knew all about the suspected assassin.

The CIA’s reaction to Kennedy’s assassination

[Excerpted from Scorpions’ Dance: The President, the Spymaster and Watergate (St Martin’s Press, 2022)]

“Dick Helms was having a sandwich lunch with John McCone in the director’s suite on the 7th floor of the CIA building when an aide burst into the room. “The president’s been shot,” he cried. McCone turned on a television and watched the news bulletins. Then, Helms recalled, the director “clapped his hat on his head and left to meet Bob Kennedy at his home at Hickory Hill, not far from the agency Headquarters.”

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