If anyone was wondering where I’ve been, I’m deep into research and writing on the “deniable warfare” book I’ve mentioned earlier so I’m afraid you won’t see too many posts from me for a bit – or at least until we get closer to the Dallas conference.

It’s a fascinating subject and its taking me far deeper into not only the CIA but the NSC, the role of the Joint Chiefs and of the Office of Special Operations and the Military Assistance Command. And I’ve been doing a lot of reading int he unclassified sections of the CIA’s own intelligence journal (lots of pretty interesting stuff in there if you are an intel or even just a  history geek).  And while reading I came across a review of Don Bohning’s book by Brian Lattell, who now has his own book in print pointing the JFK assassination towards Cuba and Castro.

If you have read Nexus, you know I spend a great deal of time with Bohning’s work and with his “explosive” interviews with Easterline and Hawkins, the interviews in which they realize for the first time that Bissell not only broke his promises to him but appeared to be intentionally playing a double role, assuring him that they would get more air support and then telling JFK they could do with even less.

This stuff is so incredibly important from a historical perspective that I presented on it in Dallas last year with just a few of the following points:

•Col. Hawkins had specifically warned that the use of parachute troops and tanks would unquestionably brand the invasion as a US undertaking; Bissell remained firm in his decisions and there was no further discussion of the point.
• Esterline eventually learned that it was Bissell who had banned him from high level Washington meetings and came to the conclusion that Bissell was giving the new President assurances and commitments on deniability that were not being shared with his force commanders.
•Hawkins states that Bissell had made his own military decisions about dramatically increasing the side of the landing force, adding a parachute battalion and even a tank platoon – changes not recommended by either Hawkins or Esterline.
•Esterline also concluded that at some point, possibly even before the transition to the Bay of Pigs landing site, Bissell had given a commitment to President  Kennedy that the operation would indeed be low key and would use absolutely minimal air power – an agreement not communicated to Esterline or Hawkins
•Days before the invasion Easterline and Hawkins drove to Bissell’s home and gave him a detailed account as to why the invasion plan was not adequate to ensure complete destruction of Castro’s air force –  that if “any” of his fighters and bombers survived the first attack they would make beachhead operations suicidal. defeat the Brigade.  They also protested the fact that Air Operations were not under their control.
Both officers then stated they would resign if the invasion were not cancelled – Bissell responded by saying that was impossible but made a firm promise that he would gain Kennedy’s authorization for more aircraft and more strikes. Bissell “solemnly pledged to Hawkins and that he would ensure we would get the total number of planes, he would go to the President and explain why it simply had to be…
Within two days, completely unknown to the two officers, Bissell actually committed to Kennedy that he would cut the attacking B-26 force in half!
•Bissell was aware that post-strike intelligence confirmed that only something like half of the Cuban fighters and bombers were taken out in the first B-26 strike – he made no response to that information
Now this is major stuff and if you have gotten into the subject of Cuba and the BOP and JFK you realize how this raises a huge amount of questions about Bissell rather than JFK.
So I was certainly expecting to see this come up in the review – but instead the review drifts into the idea of blaming JFK for the missile crisis…which if you have read any of the more recent scholarly work on that, well let’s just say that’s not a big part of it.   But then again perhaps the Bohning revelations from Easterline and Hawkins are in the review and I missed it…..so, take a look for yourself and let me know, I’m reading a bunch these days and may have hit a case of eye strain and passed over it…the link below will take you to Lattell’s review.








About Larry Hancock

Larry Hancock is a leading historian-researcher in the JFK assassination. Co-author with Connie Kritzberg of November Patriots and author of the 2003 research analysis publication titled also Someone Would Have Talked. In addition, Hancock has published several document collections addressing the 112th Army Intelligence Group, John Martino, and Richard Case Nagell. In 2000, Hancock received the prestigious Mary Ferrell New Frontier Award for the contribution of new evidence in the Kennedy assassination case. In 2001, he was also awarded the Mary Ferrell Legacy Award for his contributions of documents released under the JFK Act.

7 responses »

  1. Mark Groubert says:

    Larry: Regarding the infamous June 5th Cortez Hotel meeting cited by Cliff Carter’s and John Connally’s HSCA testimony. One question: Connally says Kenny O’Donnell was in the room (pge 14 volume 1). I think he’s lying, trying to suggest one of Kennedy’s men was there so don’t blame me for convincing him to come here. It was JFK’s idea, which is Connally’s defense. Is there any way to verify that?

    He also absurdly says that Kennedy was unpopular at the time:

    “I MUST SAY THAT AT THAT POINT IN TIME, I DON’T REMEMBER THE FIGURES EXACTLY, BUT THE PRESIDENT WAS NOT EXTREMELY POPULAR IN TEXAS, NOR WAS HE IN THE COUNTRY.” JOHN CONNALLY HSCA TESTIMONY. (again to prove Kennedy wanted to come there). http://voices.washingtonpost.com/behind-the-numbers/2007/07/approval_highs_and_lows.html
    (60-80% approval rating)

    But you know all that. My question is – Was Kenny O’Donnell in that room at the Cortez (or as Connally calls it – the Casa Del Norte Hotel) It would catch Connally in another bald faced lie. Carter says he and Korth left the room. (I think to get himself off the hook on any potential “conspiracy” charge). Some dispute on Judge Thornberry being in there as well – what say thee o’ wise one?

  2. Mark Groubert says:

    Regarding your Castro post: Larry who is Col Hawkins? Is he related to this guy:
    Wrote psy-ops warfare manual a few years back. Recently retired.

    • Mark, Col. Hawkins joined the Cuba operation in Sept 1960, to train the guerrilla force – which was what the op was supposed to
      be before Bissell turned it into something entirely different. Hawkins had extensive combat experience in WWII and in Korea and
      was highly regarded for his bravery and leadership…graduate of the Naval War College, held numerous combat medals and was senior
      US adviser to the Cuban Brigade. He was military working on a CIA project.

      On your Cortez hotel meeting, I know of no way to verify that but I can tell you that a trip to Texas was very important politically –
      Kennedy was not at all popular in the south (I know, I was in high school and lived down here at the time and he was widely
      disliked), he needed to reach out to the South – Johnson had been on the ticket for that earlier but it was questionable as to
      whether Johnson could or would help him that much. And I have to say that as popular as JFK appears now, a whole bunch of folks
      didn’t like him at all back then…..the 64 election was going to be no walk over as things stood in fall 63.

      — Larry

      • Mark Groubert says:

        Larry: I think the answer to the Castro obsession is partly that he is still in power and the propaganda war against him continues because of that reason. So they continue to throw anything they can think of against him – including the old stand by – that he was involved in the JFK assassination IMHO.

  3. Mark Groubert says:

    Larry: On a side note, your book should be a movie! Has anyone optioned if from you – if not – they should. Great, great book.

    • Mark, thanks for the comment on the book – I think combining Nexus and SWHT would make a powerful movie that
      could be told from several “cut to” views simultaneously. It would probably be to politically incorrect though; of course
      Stone’s movie was fantastic but it was also relatively safe from the standpoint that Bannister, Ferrie and Shaw were
      strong characters but all within a very local context.

      In any event, no approaches have ever been made on it and I’m not waiting in anticipation…grin.

      On the Castro thing, one of the reasons we still see it being floated speaks to the sophistication of the plot, you don’t
      just use some patsy with no connection to anybody but rather somebody that already has an existing connection that among
      other things raises lots of questions that the powers that be will have to deal with (and of course you make sure there
      is a deep poison pill planted that ensures they won’t). The sophistication of the Dallas plot sill has an impact all these
      decades later….they gave some people just what they wanted to see and then gave the folks at the very top some strong
      reasons not to go along with the obvious.

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