‘There was nothing rogue’ about the CIA’s Bill Harvey

When people ask ‘Who killed Kennedy?’ one plausible answer is William King Harvey, a tough and much-praised CIA officer in 1963. In the most popular video ever on JFK Facts  Harvey’s widow, CG Harvey, says on camera that JFK and Jackie were “scum.”

Bill agreed. In Salon.comDavid Talbot, author of The Devil’s Chessboard, unpacks the documentary record of Bill Harvey’s role in the events of 1963:

All the stories that came spilling out of the agency about Harvey’s wild ways—his love of guns, his fondness for birdbath-size martinis, his eruptions of black fury at the Kennedys—they were all meant to show that he was the type who could blow his top and do anything. But Harvey’s consistently glowing CIA fitness reports tell a different story. There was nothing rogue about Bill Harvey in these pages—he was portrayed as a dedicated and highly valued professional. Even after Harvey had enraged Bobby Kennedy with his Cuban antics, he continued to win enthusiastic reviews from his superiors. “It is difficult to prepare a fitness report on this outstanding officer, largely because forms do not lend themselves to measuring his many unique characteristics,” began Harvey’s October 1962 report, which cited his “professional knowledge . . . toughness of mind and firmness of attitude.”

Source: Inside the plot to kill JFK: The secret story of the CIA and what really happened in Dallas – Salon.com




  1. Ramon F Herrera says:

    [Logistic note, not for publication]

    “Rouge” is red, in French. Also, cosmetic.

  2. Dennis Murphy says:

    “Rogue,” unless the rouge is blood red?

  3. Anna Quandt says:

    Thanks for highlighting this part of David Talbot’ s book. I read the book, thinking he couldn’t convince me that Allen Dulles was involved. I believed it was a “rogue” CIA officer. Harvey looked like the guy. I was stunned by the revelation that Harvey consistently received glowing ratings from his bosses. Suddenly I thought of Abu Graib and how the low level people were blamed. Really? So I think Talbot’s view is plausible.

  4. Charles says:

    It is fun go look at the William King Harvey hotlink and read this comment from Photon:

    November 4, 2013 at 7:05 am
    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?

    Then go to the hotlink of the interview with his King’s widow a year later.

  5. After leaving the CIA Harvey worked as legal counsel for a mid-west publisher Bobs-Merrell – who distributed books through the TSBD and published US Army Ranger Brad Ayers’ book on JMWAVE maritime operations – that was severely edited by the CIA.


    • leslie sharp says:

      Bill K. I can always depend on you to bring it back. TSBD was a hot bed of publishing firms including Bobs-Merrill, many of whom can be thought of as the ‘victors’ in charge of writing history. This is why the concept that the Kennedy assassination is little more than an historical event is so obnoxious. Also, has anyone considered what could pass as boxes of books thru that warehouse?

      • Ronnie Wayne says:

        Yes Leslie. Not to distract from the thread topic of Harvey, but connected in a roundabout way… Thank you Mr. Kelly for a possible connection to something I’ve wondered about for a few years now. With the the CIA’s interest in shaping our thoughts by what we read through Operation Mockingbird (google it beginners, please) I’ve wondered about their possible presence in the Texas School Book Depository in 1963. Given owner oil man Harold “Dry Hole” Byrd’s founding of the Civil Air Patrol (see LHO/David Ferrie, New Orleans) and his membership in the Dallas Petroleum Club with among others operation 40/Zapata’s recruiter/operative George Herbert Walker Bush I wonder further.
        If the CIA had access to the TSBD on 11/21/63 or well before they had the ability to get the Carcano, people, other rifles, radios etc, in there well in advance. And time to plan an immediate evacuation. As well as set up one of their own as a patsy. Speculation, yes. Unfounded? You tell me.

        • Ronnie Wayne says:

          Oh yes, this JFK FACTS. It is a Fact Byrd was a right wing Dallas conservative member of the Dallas Petroleum Club with GHWB that hated JFK for his proposed reduction of the oil depletion allowance (a huge tax break for oil men) among many other things.
          Per author Russ Baker it’s a Fact Bush recruited for (and later protected killers in it as President) and coordinated funding for Operation 40 (google it) that was in essence the organizational force for the CIA planned failure, the Bay of Pigs.
          Fact is Bush and Nixon were in Dallas on 11/22/63.

        • Well, The CIA did in Fact have Daily Access to the Texas Book “DepositORy in 1963. Ironically Oswald’s Boss Shelly I believe, the man with the Tie and Watch who always was asking people what time is is for a Radio Lab Code, admitted to being ex CIA in the 80/2 before working for Mr Byrd’s Tennant.

          Willy BovA

          • “ex CIA” … I have always thought that term an oxymoron, said as a joke in the Intelligence community. Usually said with a ‘wink of the eye’ as it were.

  6. Anthony Martin says:

    There are a number of ways to approach problem solving. A shotgun approach is one, e.g. “Who killed Kennedy. Harvey is plausible.” This line of reasoning doesn’t take a ‘big picture” viewpoint. From Prouity’s book “JFK” (pg. 137): For a coup d’etat: “1) the decision & power to do it, 2) the professional mercenaries or “mechanics” to carry it off precisely as a team effort, and 3) the application and maintenance of the cover story
    scenario to assure continuuing ncontrol of the government of the USA thereafter.” Using this as a model, and from Talbot’s book, one would put Dulles in group #1 above and Harvey in group #2, i.e the latter being, plausibly, one of the men who may have been involved in the killing of Kennedy.

  7. LRG says:

    Harvey was canned from the CIA. A drunk and an embarrassment to the agency. He got his pension but little else. No recognition for the jobs that he had done well. Fitness Reports in that era were a joke. Not reflective of the truth. So the fact that he had excellent Fitness Reports should not be surprising. Even with “glowing” fitness reports he was shown the door. I think it unlikely that he conspired to assassinate JFK. He could not stay sober long enough to do that.

    • “Harvey was canned from the CIA. A drunk and an embarrassment to the agency.”~LRG

      Harvey was the fall guy, a scapegoat as committies such as the one lead by Frank Church began to probe what was really going on with the Cult of Intelligence around the world.

      “I think it unlikely that he conspired to assassinate JFK. He could not stay sober long enough to do that.”~LRG

      “At the secret Miami meeting, Morales told Hunt that he had been recruited for an “off-the-board” operation by Bill Harvey, with whom El Indio had worked closely on the ZR/Rifle project to kill Castro. The aim of this “off-the-board” operation, it soon became clear, was to assassinate President Kennedy. Morales and Sturgis referred to the president’s planned demise as “the big event.”

      In his account of the meeting, Hunt presented Harvey and Morales as the key operational figures in the plot; Harvey did not attend the meeting but seemed to loom over it. Hunt suggested that Harvey was in charge of hiring the sharpshooters to kill Kennedy and transporting the weapons to Dallas. According to Hunt, the gunmen were likely recruited from the Corsican underworld. As Harvey once indicated, when it came to highly delicate assignments, working with Corsican gangsters was preferable because they were harder to trace back to the CIA than Italian or American Mafia hit men.

      To Morales, Kennedy was “that no good son of a bitch motherfucker” who was responsible for the deaths of the men he had trained for the Bay of Pigs mission. “We took care of that son of a bitch, didn’t we?” Morales told his attorney, Robert Walton, in 1973, after an evening of drinking loosened the CIA hit man’s tongue. It was one more confession that the media ignored, even after it was reported by one of their own, Gaeton Fonzi, a Philadelphia investigative journalist who, after going to work for the House Select Committee on Assassinations, unearthed some of the most important information related to the Kennedy case.

  8. Kimber Wilkes says:

    How was he able to keep his clearance with a clear drinking problem?

    • Charles says:

      In that era, the only drinking problem anyone took notice of was how to decide which drink to drink.

    • Fearfaxer says:

      James Jesus Angleton, who succeeded Harvey as the CIA’s top counterintelligence man, had an even worse drinking problem, yet stayed on the job until 1974. His search for nonexistent moles paralyzed the Agency for years. Aldrich Ames used to pass out at his desk dead drunk for years. His All-Day/Every-Day boozing didn’t prevent him from passing the names of many CIA agents and assets to the Soviets. He was assigned to one of the most sensitive CI posts in the Agency in spite of the fact his superiors had known of his extreme alcoholism for years.

  9. Ronnie Wayne says:

    Back to Harvey himself. Flawed Patriot is a must read, one of his own questioning him. Attorney General RFK wanted him fired for disobeying JFK’s orders to stop CIA assassination attempts on Castro. Instead he was transferd to Rome Italy by the CIA.
    As head of the CIA operation ZR Rifle (google it if you are new!!!) to assassinate Castro, with multiple failed attempts he was the principle contact with Johnny Rosselli of the Mafia. Of whom Mrs. Harvey is glowing as a “patriot”. While stationed in Italy in April 63, he went on a fishing trip off the coast of Florida with Roselli. What might they have discussed? Roselli was found with legs and arms cut off stuffed in an oil drum floating in the ocean off Florida shortly before his scheduled testimony about the JFK assassination to the HSCA in the late 70’s. His former boss in the mafia Sam Giancana was also scheduled to testify. Shot 5-6-7 times around the mouth to shut him up.

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