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.”

‘The centrality of Nixon and Helms to so many pivotal moments in history.’

Book List on Scorpion’s Dance:

“As the Senate Intelligence Committee prodded the CIA over all sorts of issues, including the JFK assassination and attempts on the life of Fidel Castro, Helms became increasingly defensive of his agency’s conduct over the years. The centrality of Nixon and Helms to so many pivotal moments in history makes Morley’s revelations about their sparring even more intriguing.”

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The Ghost

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Excerpt: How James McCord’s road to Watergate began

“Helms was also a man of action. Three agency operatives had been arrested in Havana in September 1960, while mounting an audio operation against the offices of the Chinese news service. They were sentenced to ten years in jail, though not identified as CIA agents. Helms asked John Mertz, deputy chief of the Counterintelligence Staff, to come up with a plan to free the prisoners. Mertz consulted with his boss, James Angleton, counterintelligence chief, who supplied him with some “underworld” connections in Havana.

“Mertz then tasked James McCord, deputy chief of the Security Research Staff in the Office of Security, to scope out the prison and execute the escape. As McCord later explained, his agents “gained entry to the prisons and returned to the United States “with data acquired. However, the captured men were freed in a prisoner exchange before any rescue operation could be mounted. McCord was credited with being “an actual case officer for Cuban agents” from 1960 to 1962. Helms surely knew of his work, at least in passing. McCord’s road to Watergate had begun.” –From Scorpions’ Dance by Jefferson Morley

Publisher’s Weekly on Scorpions’ Dance 

In this eye-opening investigation, journalist Morley (The Ghost) scrutinizes the CIA’s involvement in the Watergate scandal. Drawing on taped conversations between Richard Nixon and CIA director Richard Helms, Morley claims that “the Watergate affair originated in the clandestine collaborative relationship” between the two men.

Source: Nonfiction Book Review: Scorpions’ Dance: The President, the Spymaster, and Watergate by Jefferson Morley

Talking JFK in the desert

Valerie Plame
L to R: Mary Beth Long, Valerie Plame, Jonna Mendez, Lucy Kirk (Jeff Stein photo)

This was an educational experience for me. I thought I was going into the proverbial lions’ den. I was wrong. The secret intelligence professionals in the room were quite open to the way Mowatt-Larssen and I described and explained the events of November 1963.

Russia, Russia, Russia was on our minds, of course, but the talks also included a fascinating discussion on the activities of “rogue” CIA agents surrounding the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy, presented jointly by investigative journalist Jefferson Morley and former senior CIA officer Rolf Mowatt- Larssen. The audience at the Hacienda del Sol, a hillside luxury resort that once hosted John Wayne, Spencer Tracy. Katharine Hepburn and other Hollywood stars filming Westerns nearby, was also treated to presentations by former female CIA operatives Mary Beth Long, Plame, Jonna Mendez and Lucy Kirk (left to right, above).

Source: A Gathering of Spies in the Desert – by Jeff Stein

Abe Bolden speaks: they framed me for warning of a JFK plot

WhoWhatWhy has an exclusive interview with Abraham Bolden, the falsely convicted Secret Service agent who was pardoned by President Biden last week

Bolden explains what most people don’t know–that it was his professional response to JFK’s assassination that got him fired, framed, and falsely imprisoned.

“They don’t have the details of what occurred and what it had to do with the assassination of President Kennedy, how I was treated, the reason for my incarceration, the effort to declare me insane. Or the fact that I wrote a book that explained everything. That’s not before the public.”

Source: Black Secret Service Agent, Jailed for JFK Plot Warning, Cleared: The Full Story – WhoWhatWhy

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