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.