We’re coming up on the anniversary and Dallas is calling, so its about time for my last couple of posts to finish out this series. I imagine some of you who have followed it all the way through are wondering about people that I haven’t mentioned to this point. So in a bit of recap, to date I’ve covered the fact that official reports and a variety of sources – several of which appear to have been sanitized or just flat disappeared in the days after the assassination – demonstrate that JFK was considered to have been at risk in the fall of 1963 and the primary threat was with a set of Cuban exiles traveling from Miami through New Orleans and up into both Chicago and out to Dallas, looking for weapons. These were individuals who were definitely not part of the new RFK initiative that began that summer, instead they were exactly the figures that both the CIA and FBI were trying to crack down on to prevent further raids against Cuba from U.S. territory. We also have good indications that members of this network became aware of Oswald and his value while traveling to New Orleans and that people in Miami were very much aware of his movements from then on, including to Mexico City and to Dallas.
In addition, we know something else that happened in the summer of 63 and that was the cancellation and disbanding of the highly compartmentalized Castro assassination team that had been run by William Harvey, John Rosselli and David Morales up to that point. Indeed there was a meeting in late spring in Florida to wrap out that project, which had actually been funded through the rest of the year. At least ostensibly that was the explanation for the expense reports Harvey filed. We don’t know the exact composition of his special team, we do know it was a sniper group and included some very hard core exile fighters – my guess is that they would have been screened by Morales, Robertson and Roselli, possibly some were old time Havana security types that Roselli had used in the initial stages of the Castro assassination when poison was the tool of choice, Hermonio Diaz Garcia comes to mind for a number of reasons.
Now if members of a team like this were pulled together for an attack on JFK, it would be a very experienced and well trained group – trained for a much tougher task than going after JFK in Dallas. Interestingly enough some of these same folks would go after Castro repeatedly in Latin America in later years, in one exercise in Chile, according to Anthony Veciana, they used basically the same tactics that had been fielded in Dallas….it didn’t work there but then Castro’s security folks were well sensitized to sophisticated assassination attempts.
Now am I making this story and scenario up just to be creative, actually not. What I’m doing is repeating an explosive message that John Roselli himself took to Earl Warren, the Secret Service, the FBI and ultimately President Johnson beginning in December, 1966. Now why would Roselli do that, while at the time leading the high life in LA and Vegas with a different starlet on call in either location. Especially when he should have been maintaining a very low profile being under FBI surveillance for his various business dealings with organized crime figures. Well its a long story, if you have a copy of SWHT you can follow it beginning on page 124.
It appears that the real motivation was that someone had provided Roselli with the word that an investigation of the Kennedy murder was underway – Bernardo de Torres being the prime candidate there – and that New Orleans DA Garrison was focused on Cuban exiles who had been in contact with Oswald in New Orleans. That would indeed have been something to worry about and Roselli’s outreach served two purposes. First he offered up what was supposedly first hand information that a CIA prepared Castro assassination team, sent into Cuba in a sniper attack to kill Castro, had been the ones to kill Kennedy in Dallas. Given that it was absolutely true that Roselli had worked with such teams, with Harvey and the operations people at JMWAVE, that would be about as credible an inside source as you could get. Of course Earl Warren totally refused to pursue it, as did basically everyone else other than Johnson. It worried Johnson a lot especially since he forced the CIA to personally confirm the assassination project to him.
Of course this preemptive move on Roselli’s part alerted Washington about Garrison, allowing everyone to move to fully blown CYA quickly, and triggering a variety of moves against Garrison’s inquiries. Bernardo de Torres helped a lot too, going to the press and setting Garrison up for a media barrage way too early. Secondly, Roselli spun his story a bit, stating that it was a CIA team that was in Dallas but that it had been “turned” in Cuba and was working for Castro. Now how that would happen is a bit hard too follow but it did pull the old Cuban angle in again and between that and blowing the Castro assassination plot into national news….it made the story of a CIA sniper team something everybody wanted to be very far away from, not only then but pretty much forever. Indeed when the HSCA later got around to interviewing Roselli they focused on the early poison plots and seemingly forgot to pursue the sniper team thing – although they may have recalled that when they decided to have him back for another round…before which time he ended up in pieces floating in an oil drum.
So, there seems to be a very interesting series of dots that join into the story at this point…which would connect in Roselli, William Harvey, the ZRRIFLE sniper team and of course a variety of “assets” that Roselli would have access to out of his bases in LA and Vegas, people who might contact and visit Jack Ruby in Dallas for a bit of onsite assistance and local intelligence. And of course with his Mexico City connections, Morales would have plenty of resource to track Oswald and perhaps do a bit more than track…but that’s another story.
The ultimate point here being that there is no earthly reason for Roselli to do what he did in the winter of 66/67 unless there was a very strong motivation for him to insert himself into the Kennedy assassination story….and it was certainly not to his profit in any way to do so. What he needed most at the time was for his name not to be bandied about in any Federal agency. Now I have to ask, how many places have you folks read the Roselli/Jack Anderson/Johnson story? Have you seen it come up in any of the recent series of JFK specials? Wouldn’t it be more entertaining if not explosive than most everything else you’ve seen?
Next time we will tackle another source that offers us come credible first hand information, and look at the reception he received by the ARRB. That probably gives it away but if it didn’t we’ll get there in the next day or so..