As we continue to see JFK document releases one of the things that is quite obvious is that we are not going to get the level of information we want – and what Congress had mandated in the JFK act. Yesterday’s batch demonstrates that even if key documents are released, especially CIA files and even more especially anything having to do with Lee Harvey Oswald, Congressional intent and public interest is being obfuscated through the use of extensive redactions – including numbers of literally blank pages. That is not only in conflict with the intent of the law but with statements that continue to be made by the White House.
The practical result of that is twofold, first the media is going to grab information and make sensational headlines off it that are simply tangential. Such headlines may seem new to them but in reality are old news based on previous releases and research. Today’s headlines about Hoover persecuting MLK are seriously old news, serving only as a diversion for what is not being released due to the fact that the reading public will accept them as true news and generally does not have a historical background in these subjects.
The second result is that experienced and historically versed researchers are actually going to find new leads and new information in what is being released – just as they have for decades. We have reached a point where a body of knowledge has developed on the events involved. We know the internal communications practices of agencies and even the identity of crypts, aliases and pseudos’ used in the documents as far as what offices, people and operations are being discussed. But you truly have to have that context to find the “devils in the details”. For example, in my last post I cited a document with a remark on Alpha 66 that came to my attention through the efforts of one of my friends who has that sort of expertise – Mick Doherty.
Those of us in the community tend to think of John Newman, Rex Bradford, Jeff Morley or Malcolm Blunt when we talk about document experts but the good news is that there is a much larger body of people well versed in these matters, with people like Mick, Bill Simpich, Debra Conway, Stu Wexler, Anna Marie Kuhns-Walko, Doug Campbell, Deb Galentine and a goodly number of others who have put in the sheer grunt work which allows them to scan documents and see what is new, and what may very well be significant. I can’t list all the names here but I know a number of those folks and these days what I learn about this subject area comes largely from them given that I’ve wondered away from a total focus on JFK. Fortunately they remain focused and are indeed finding things.
To expound a bit on Mick’s find, with a deep enough read on these matters it’s clear that officially and operationally there was not only any direct tie between Mongoose (Lansdale) or for that matter CIA Task Force W (William Harvey) and Alpha 66. If anything the CIA station in Miami (JM/WAVE) was supposed to be collecting intelligence through its Cuban intelligence group which would allow such independent/not Special Group approved military actions against Cuba to be stopped (how quickly this all goes deep into context and terminology).
In fact in SWHT I write about the fact that JM/WAVE was doing just that and through their sources was well aware of Alpha 66 missions in advance – that comes directly from David Morales, the JM/WAVE operations officer. And in 1962 it was Harvey who was making decisions on what missions would be sanctioned and which would be not, and Morales that was making it happen. And the strange thing is that during that same year, more successful missions were being run and more damage inflicted by Alpha 66 than the sanctioned missions under the Kennedy Administration. Indeed Alpha 66 had begun to focus on Russian shipping and even shore facilities, making attacks that could well have demanded a Russian response. And with prior intelligence and extensive resources, neither JM/WAVE nor anyone else was interdicting those attacks.
In my own writings I’ve gone further and explored this disconnect, suggesting that certain officers within the CIA were actually allowing those attacks, and possibly even covertly manipulating Alpha 66 in targeting them. That’s a deep story and a long one. But if you have that full picture, as Mick does, and you look at the releases coming out and you see that Lansdale seems to feel he can issue an order which somehow automatically stops Alpha 66 in its tracks (and at the same time does not mention any of the known and actually sanctioned exile groups the CIA was supporting) you have something truly interesting and just possibly a smoking gun pointing towards either a deeply buried CIA project with Alpha 66 – or a total lack of situational knowledge on the part of the head of the nation’s unified anti-Castro effort, Mongoose.
It’s the sort of thing no NARA reviewer, no WH reviewer and actually no contemporary CIA reviewer could catch, but that Mick did…kudos. And no doubt we will see more of this given the body of expertise that had developed. In short, this time we’re ready, no matter how hard they try.