One of the things that actually hooked me on digging deeply into the Kennedy assassination was the realization that actual people, with real names and personal histories were involved, and that those people operated within a knowable historical context of work and social relationships. Up to that point I had read a few books, Jim Marrs’ Crossfire being one of the first, and lurked in the CompuServe JFK chat area (yes, it was that long ago). OK, you might be laughing but even today if you just browse YouTube or visit a few forums you could easily get sucked into the Zapruder film debates, the extensive dialogs and arguments over film and move footage from Nov 22, 1963, the unending exchanges over Oswald’s rifle, the back yard photographs, the infamous paper bag or even whether Oswald was holding a Dr. Pepper, a Coke or anything at all when first encountering motorcycle officer Baker that day – all activities focused on things/evidence rather than groups and individuals either as suspects or accessories.
I got mired down in all that myself…but one day in a Dallas airport, coming back from a business trip, I happened to buy a JFK book that talked about very specific people, their connections to each other and their personal involvement in the assassination. Of course it took me a few years to determine that book and its scenario were both as totally bogus but it definitely sent me off on a different tangent, one dealing with people rather than things.
That was exciting but after a few years I began to realize that most people discussing or even writing about people and groups as suspects painted with very broad brush strokes. You had the Mafia and Godfathers, or the ultra-right, the CIA or perhaps even larger and more nebulous groups such as the Military Industrial Complex or the Eastern Establishment (or maybe it was even more generic – the Cowboys or the Yankees). Later, the Aliens and then the Alien/MJ 12/JFK conspiracy jelled, but the Majestic 12 were relatively late comers as villians.
The problem is that operating with such broad categories of suspects doesn’t take you all that far…well tends to leave you with basic sociology and the six levels of association, or perhaps 12 levels etc. At some level of association almost everybody can be linked to everyone else (which works in genetics as well). Not that social network diagraming and dynamics are not important, they are – but when you start looking at individuals as suspects, you need to understand their day jobs as well. More specifically what were they doing in 1963, who were they were talking to, what official and unofficial sources of information did they have and who did they really trust vs. who were in competition with. In other words what were they really hearing that would evolve not just a general motive but push them into actual steps towards something as mind-blowing as a conspiracy to kill the President of the United States. Not just talking about him, cursing him, hating him – but actually committing to the capital crime of killing him.
So where am I going with this rather than just sharing (we called it that in the 70’s, this Century it’s become less friendly and more bitter – with a lot fewer hugs). As most of you reading this know, my own path led to suspects inside or at least provably associated with the CIA. Not the CIA as some generic entity but specifically within the Operations Directorate (Plans) and the Office of Security. A years and a few thousand documents later I felt I was almost beginning to understand that area of the Agency, focusing on the PP staff (psyops and paramilitary staff), a few more years and I gained a grasp on Technical Services, CI, Staff C and Staff D. In more recent years I’ve ranged much further afield, moving from upwards to the analysts, the Intelligence Board, Joint Chiefs, etc as well as more broadly throughout the intelligence community, the NSA, DIA, military services groups and their extensions. And in pursuing a broader view I often come across something that leads me back to JFK, my suspect’s day jobs in 1963 and what they may really have known that motivated or aided them.
If you have read NEXUS you know that I focus in on James Angleton and William Harvey as principal suspects in regard to the higher level origins of the conspiracy that evolved to the point of the Dallas attack. Over the past few years my friend Bill Simpich and I have spent a good deal of time looking at Lee Oswald in Mexico City, the spy games going on there and the role of Oswald impersonation in regard to the conspiracy. One of the key points to pursue in regard to Mexico City, in terms of our suspects, is to establish what connections Harvey and Angleton might have had to the intelligence sources and methods being used to collect covert intelligence in Mexico City – giving them insights into how to manipulate and use that information (or advise others on how to do so). The collection in question would have involved the targeting of the Cuban and Soviet diplomatic missions in Mexico City – both associated with Oswald and with impersonations.
As it turns out both men had been involved with a CIA group designated as Staff D, Harvey most recently. Finding information on Staff D has been challenging, you don’t find it called out even in some of the best books on the intelligence community (such as Richelson’s). You do find division D/staff D as a function under the Foreign Intelligence Staff – and if you dig you find that its activities ranged from bugging foreign embassies and burglarizing diplomatic missions to bribing or strong arm work with diplomatic staff and couriers. In more polite terms that’s a mix of signals intelligence and human intelligence. And of course in those days signals intelligence was a main point of both cooperation and contention between the CIA and the NSA (primarily in regard to satellite based collections).
What gets really interesting is the extent to which both the CIA local station staff, the headquarters and field Staff D staff, and the NSA might all have been involved in collecting and sharing (or not) information coming off the phone taps, building bugs, radio transmissions, cable traffic and telephone trunk calls into Cuba (all a mix of both CIA and NSA collections). It would also be interesting to know specifically what targets or individuals NSA was being tasked to collect information on during 1963.  Both Bill and I discuss parts of that in our writing but it poses serious and ongoing questions in regard to what extent Lee Oswald (ex military, ex Soviet “defector” and suspected Fair Play for Cuba chapter head) was being talked about by the Cubans and Soviets during his time in Mexico City. David Phillips wrote that Oswald was simply not “on the radar” during his visit – that is a provable lie. The real question is how many radars he was on and who was really tracking him. What is clear is that with their former connections and longtime “friends” in place, both men would have had access to whatever information they wanted from Mexico City collections – all as part of their day jobs and with no questions asked.
For more detailed background on CIA and NSA joint activities, and some minimal references to Staff D, check out the following link:


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.

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