One of the things that makes dealing with the Ultra-Right difficult is that it is ubiquitous. You can find people to name in Texas, in California, across the nation in fact. It that respect it’s a good deal like discussing organized crime Godfathers. It’s easy to find individuals threatening JFK, individuals with motive, even some taking credit for the murder afterwards. The problem is that both those groups talk to leverage their reputation and consistently hype themselves. These days we might call it “street cred” but that’s nothing new, talking big and looking “bad” draws followers and is standard practice in both circles.

 

In regard to JFK’s murder, one particular ultra-right group stand out, simply because it is connected to specific threats against JFK. One threat came into the FBI from San Antonio on Nov. 15 and specifically mentioned the NSRP and the Texas trip. The warning message stated that “a militant group of the NSRP plans to assassinate the president and other high level officials. That language is an almost exact match for the controversial William Walter incident in the New Orleans FBI office where Walter described a Nov. 17 teletype with a warning that “a militant revolutionary group may attempt to assassinate President Kennedy on his trip to Dallas, Texas”.  While the FBI later denied the Walter teletype there are a number of points which corroborate Walters and I find him convincing…especially given the actions taken by the FBI to cover up the existence of the teletype – that is detailed in Chapter 14 of SWHT.

 

Both of those warnings followed the FBI recording and investigating a threat which surfaced during a sting operation being conducted against Joseph Milteer (connected to many ultra-right groups, the NSRP being the most action oriented) in Miami on Nov. 9. Stu Wexler and I explore Milteer and the FBI informant involved in that sting in considerable detail in the Awful Grace of God. What is often not discussed is that the FBI did advise the Secret Service of the Milteer threat, the FBI did notify several regional offices about it and contacted the individuals named by Milteer and Milteer himself about a possible threat to the President – all prior to the assassination. The Secret Service passed the threat info along to Washington D.C., partially because Milteer had mentioned an attack taking place there and himself had worked in Washington.

 

Beyond that, we also found that the FBI had received several independent reports that the NSRP was training rifle groups for an attack on JFK, on other leaders and on major Jewish financial figures. Those reports came out of California, Florida, and Georgia – actual target lists for the attacks were being circulated. It seems possible the breadth of those NSRP related threats, and the fact that they were not consolidated and shared with the Secret Service may also explain the need for Hoover to suppress the teletype warning that Walters described seeing in New Orleans. Given Hosty’s remarks about Oswald being observed with subversives and the note, it could all have wrapped into a story of FBI negligence which would have been more than a little embarrassing.

 

Now to the “afterwards”.  One of our problems with investigation those groups after the fact is  that although Hoover initially ordered a broad based investigation which would have included militant group informants, he shut that down within 24 hours.  It is safe to say that there is little sign of any of the ultra-right folks associated with the NSRP immediately toning down there activities, going under cover or becoming less aggressive – if anything they became more violent over the following months and  years.

 

There is only one documented instance of an NSRP associate actually expressing an involvement in the assassination, taking credit for the ultra-right and openly bragging about it (openly within certain regional racist groups at least). That would be the same Joseph Milteer mentioned above. That has made Milteer sort of a poster boy for the ultra-right and the JFK assassination, the only single individual that could be tied directly to Dallas, based on a photo of someone greatly resembling him on Houston street and his remarks to the FBI informant in the Miami sting about having gone to Dallas.

 

I have to say the fellow on Elm looks like Milteer to me, although the HSCA investigated and concluded it was not him. On the other hand Milteer traveled across the nation constantly, was known to have been in Dallas in 1963 and could well have been there on Nov. 22 since his ilk certainly hated JFK – he told the same FBI informant from Miami that he had been and that the ultra-right had used Oswald, clearly taking claim for the assassination.

 

On the other hand, Milteer had been warned about the FBI informant, had been visited by the FBI about a threat to JFK and would later plant a great deal of misinformation with the same FBI informant, ultimately compromising him as an FBI source. On top of that Milteer’s private papers contain a receipt for Nov. 22 for a motel room in South Carolina. All of which complicates matters nicely.

 

Of course the problem is that Milteer could have been in Dallas, observing the motorcade to check out security practices…and certainly if he was he made no effort to disguise himself or to avoid being right up front and filmed on Houston Street.  Other than Milteer himself, I’ve found no particular guilty behavior of other NSRP folks or even of Minutemen immediately following the assassination, nor many outright claims of victory or involvement within their circles.

 

Looking at Milteer with some of my own “vetting” factors, I find him talking beforehand (to a possibly known informant) which would be stupid. That talk appears not to have been unique to Milteer, others in his same circles and within the NSRP across the country were all talking about attacks on JFK (picked up in reports in California, Nevada and Texas at a minimum); those reports very likely produced an FBI warning that had to be suppressed after the fact.

 

After considerable study of the real inner circle types within these groups – who did kill people – I can say they generally had extremely good security and some very sophisticated tactical practices; this doesn’t sound like one of their actions.  Beyond that, and most importantly, it must have been clear once the FBI showed up at his door following the Miami incident, Milteer would have very specifically known he had been snitched on and who the informant was – meaning that any post assassination information passed to the informant has to be considered as disinformation.

As before, make your own decisions…I’ll be moving on to another group which nobody really blamed at the time, which the FBI and the CIA both specifically backed off from in terms of leads but who did some very interesting things in the months immediately after the assassination.

 

 

 

 

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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. Matt says:

    I may be jumping ahead of you here…but Milteer is an interesting figure in the case…
    I’ve always imagined that Milteer was repeating gossip that crept into his circle via Guy Banister. Additionally, I sense that Milteer loved ‘being in the loop’ and couldn’t help but talk. James Ellroy’s American Tabloid novels play with this angle (Banister is portrayed as a big mouth and somewhat incompetent).

    There is a passage in ‘Deep Politics and the Death of JFK’ where, if memory serves me, Peter Dale Scott tries to modulate the characterization of Banister as a player with his feet in many pools – as a bridge figure whose usefulness might have come out of his socialite style (interestingly, Scott might even imply that Banister and Ferry were as disposable as Oswald…though I could be projecting that, it’s been awhile). That said, Scott’s impulse seems to be in response to the flurry of ‘mafia-did-it’ literature that often streamlined Guy’s profile. Old debates…My take is that Guy’s heart was with the Ultra-right, the rest of him is all over the place and likely drunk.

    Did you read ‘American Tabloid’ and ‘Cold Six Thousand’ by any chance? I’ve always been curious what Ellroy’s preferences in the literature are… I’m somewhat confident that Turner and Hinkle were big for him… some of the pleasure of novels on the assassination is imagining the libraries behind them.

    Matt

    • That’s an interesting point Matt and we do know that Milteer visited New Orleans, just as he did Texas, California and a number of other states. Milteer also attended virtually every right wing conference and gathering and in addition to his travels his mail correspondence (in which he sometimes used a variety of fairly simplistic name games as codes) was extensive. There is also a sign that somebody ransacked his house after his death, removing a great deal of that correspondence. Certainly any visit to NO during the summer or later would have surfaced the name Oswald. It could also have surfaced the gossip that Oswald was working out of Bannister’s office and was one of his “guys” – that seems like something that was known among a number of Bannister’s associates. So having Milteer simply know about Oswald, about his possible connection to Bannister would probably lead him to some of the conclusions he expressed after the assassination – Milteer was big on wishful thinking. That makes a lot of sense although I’m not sure how we can ever truly know. I’d say its the most logical thing I’ve heard so far – I like it as a hypothesis.

      As to Bannister himself, I think your characterization is very much on the money. Bannister was fundamentally an anti-communist but he had to make a living and his most likely clients were anti-communist groups like the citizens councils, INCA etc. He appears to have been quite social when sober and a nasty drunk. Generally my attitude towards Bannister and NO is that it was a place where one can begin to connect the dots to Oswald being manipulated for various propaganda purposes and in contact with Cuban exiles who could have been dangerous leads back to both the CIA and the assassination. I tend to think Bannister panicked over potentially being associated with Oswald and that any investigation would have brought in some of his rabid comments about JFK, causing him a world of hurt – rather than the risk being related to his personal involvement in the Dallas attack.

      I’m afraid I’ve not read the books you mention, for the last few years my research type reading has been more in intelligence, national security and military areas. What I read for pleasure is all over the place.

  2. Paul Harris says:

    Larry,
    Great stuff as always. It seems I recall reading years ago that after the assassination, H. L. Hunt ordered an investigation of his own of the assassination. Is this story true, or am I getting senile? If it is true, why do you think he ordered the investigation? And do you have any ideas as to what his investigation results may have concluded? Do you think Hunt may have suspected he was being set up?

    • Hi Paul, good to hear from you. Actually I covered Hunt and I think most of your questions in Ultra Right part 1 so you might want to take a look at that. Basically Hunt was afraid that some of the verbal “offers” he and his sons had made might actually have spurred some action and that an investigation might lead back to him. I would not say so much being “set up” as suddenly realizing what some people might say and that it would point the investigation to him. Even Hemming commented that people like Hunt and others were worried that “claims” for payment might be made, essentially blackmailing Hunt for his macho talk about paying for JFK’s death. He immediately panicked and left Dallas for a time, becoming worried again after the Garrison investigation became public.

  3. Jim Stubbs says:

    Off topic a bit here Larry, but do you know if JFK Lancer has completed the DVD of the complete interview with Gene Wheaton? Thanks!

    • Debra does have the complete interview, we showed part of it again at last fall’s conference, thanks to Mark Sobel. She plans to get it up on the Lancer web site but doing the conference CD’s came first and now she is in the midst of a a couple of new book publishing projects which are on deadline. One of them is mine so I sort of hate to divert her but I will mention it to her. She has the complete Wheaton interview plus she has scanned my complete set of primary documents on Chrisman and Beckham, both should be available some time this year as her time permits.

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