As mentioned in a previous blog post, my presentation at the November in Dallas Lancer conference dealt with new research by myself and David Boylan into the possible names that my have been in play during the “war stories” talk heard by Gene Wheaton. Names associated with direct knowledge of the attack on President Kennedy in Dallas.
In an hour of conference time I was barely able to provide an introduction to the subject, including the vetting of Wheaton and his two sources – CIA paramilitary officer Carl Jenkins and long time CIA anti-Castro operative, Rafael Quintero. Exactly how and when the dialogs heard by Wheaton occurred is covered in the 2010 edition of SWHT and is supported by the papers and correspondence Wheaton provided to the ARRB. The failure of the ARRB to respond in any proactive or positive fashion is also discussed in that book.
It should be noted that Wheaton tried to take both men to a US Senator, with negotiated grants of immunity. That offer was rejected and Wheaton was told if he pursued the matter his credibility would be undermined – a threat which indeed appears to have been carried out.
Much later, Quintero – a close personal friend of Wheaton, Quintero – confirmed that the dialogs and discussions had occurred as Wheaton described but that Wheaton had simply “misunderstood”.
What has become clear in the intervening years is that there is independent, if circumstantial, corroboration for the scenario and motives which Wheaton described hearing – discussed in front of him simply as a trusted third party.
That corroboration, and the possibilities it opens are discussed in the following monograph. For the sake of brevity sources are included directly in the monograph rather than footnoted; there are a few footnotes but virtually all the research is embedded in the text.
Debra Conway has been kind enough to archive the full paper which was presented at the conference and you can find it here:
I’d be happy to take questions on it here or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Certainly it is an ongoing project and while it can only take us so far, its implications are significant. As are the possible connection between certain of the individuals mentioned and New Orleans, Dallas Texas and Lee Oswald.
This is very interesting. Can I ask if it is possible to say the group you identify were the only people involved with Jenkins and Quintero in both the early 60s and also in the later Contra operations? If so that becomes a really quite small list (although others could well have been involved also who were not in Nicaragua in the 1980s). Very interesting how these leads connect right back to much the same group of persons of interest you and others had previously highlighted. That sort of internal consistency across different lines of evidence is rarely coincidence.
It is very impressive how such incredibly detailed analysis of the documents that have come out over time has been undertaken and is moving our understanding forward. Thank you (and the other serious researchers) for your ongoing efforts.
Certainly more individuals were trained under Jenkins in Panama and then Guatemala. However the group we focused on appear to have been rather unique in a) their connection to Quintero and b) the fact that not only did they have advanced training but that they were among a limited number of individuals used in pre-landing maritime “pathfinder” type missions. All proved especially skillful at infiltration and even more importantly exfiltration. And almost all worked under Robertson – and that was an increasingly small number of personnel whose ranks dwindled during 62 and 62 as missions decreased. They certainly are not the only names, we do have those from ops reports and David has parsed though a great number of those.
What is unusual is the consistency with which certain names show up in those missions, then in AMWORLD, in Nicaragua and even the Congo and finally in Contra logistics operations.
The other point, highly speculative, is that we have always sort of floundered about looking for how a team might have been developed and funded, essentially off the CIA grid. As it turns out the AMWORLD recruits of Q4 1963 give us something very much like that. It also turns out that Rip Robertson was known to and apparently had access to all of them, either in his day job or apparently on his own time – just as he had with Martino.
Its truly a slog and in this case the credit goes to David, I just hang around and try to tie loose ends together.
You are too modest. You did an incredible job tying all this info together. 🙂 We did leave some areas unfinished due to lack of corroborating details. We suspect that Felix Rodriguez was Russell Sambora aka “The Mexican” aka Manuel Gomez during his time with Artime and the AMWORLD project.
Thanks David, its probably a good time to note that I’ve been informed that someone has talked to Jenkins recently and he still literally denies “everything” (although I don’t know exactly what that means) and says that Wheaton was telling lies.. Strangely even Quintero refused to go that far, simply saying Wheaton “misunderstood”.
I should point out that anyone involved in this had best get their terminology and details precisely correct – reportedly Jenkins said he had never worked at JMWAVE and that would be correct. Prior to the BOP he actually ran Cuba Project bases in Panama and Guatemala, he also ran oversaw certain maritime missions into Cuba…all of that independent from JMWAVE. After his return from Vietnam he was in AMWORLD which was a totally separate operation from JMWAVE even though it obtained support from the Miami station in terms of training – but even its few personnel stationed there were compartmentalized. As usual, the devil is in the details.
Thanks Larry and David for all the work. I really wanted to be there in Dallas to see your presentation, but I could not. Some of the names are not a surprise, and they keep appearing over and over again. Some names are completely new, at least to me, so I look forward to hearing more about them. Do you see others attached to Jenkins that are not mentioned here? I’m specifically thinking about names like Richard Cain. He, by all accounts, appears to be deeply involved in the dark quadrant of CIA/mob/Cuba/corporate interests Bill Simpich wrote about in State Secret. Sometimes he’s mentioned as a wire tap specialist, other times as a skilled sharpshooter. So many times I see his name mentioned along with people like Charles Nicoletti, Jean Soutre, Mac Wallace, or William Seymour and Steve WIlson of Interpen… I see where some connect to Cubans, and others connect to William King Harvey, but I didn’t see them mentioned in your Wheaton presentation. If some combination of Harvey/Morales/Hecksher/Hunt/Landsdale were the key planners, and used the Jenkins/Robertson (Roselli also?) team of Cubans, then is it enough to say that others involved were brought in by somebody like Harvey? Or are these names peppered throughout the research as red herrings that keep researchers arguing amongst themselves about conflicting stories? Were the AMWORLD operations cover for the most virulent, close knit, CIA/mob/Cubans to operate under, with the Wheaton names being just one facet of? Thanks again, sorry to ramble.
Brandon, you’ve well described some of the confusion (and baggage) that plagues us. Take Cain for example, I’ve gone through his FBI and CIA documents from Mexico City and while he did have some level of wire tap expertise that he tried to sell in consulting to Mexican law enforcement, what he offered to the CIA was not that but rather general “strategic” level intelligence collection i.e. human intelligence. And they passed on him. Cain’s only significant use seems to have been as a very early courier to take poison into Cuba in the Roselli plot and that effort aborted with a Cuban being substituted. Cain comes up again in discussions of the Oswald rifle, but that’s confusion because the intel on the rifle showed up in a large FBI file that contained rifle info and a lot of other misc reports and someone make a link that was not there. The problem is that a lot of names have come out over the decades and just hang in there forever.
Having said that it is possible that people like Harvey and Roselli could have brought in other assets, including low level ones like Ruby and possibly even a second team of shooters. However if that were true the two teams would have to have been heavily compartmentalized, and potential kill zones kept separate.
One of the standard caveats (profile the attack) in this sort of thing (sort of like “follow the money”) is to focus on people that have been trained in the sort of attack we see in Dallas (which was a classic commando type ambush), have a serious history in such operations and as a team would have reason to trust each other and the field commander. That’s why these new names are important, they meet those criteria.
A lot of other names that have come up in the past were mysterious, sort of fascinating, but in truth never did meet that criteria. Only a few would match the roles we see them performing in Dallas – that would include Jack Ruby, John Martino, Felipe Vidal and Roy Hargraves. None of them would fit on an attack team per se, but all fit the bill for minor support roles.
As to the AMWORLD operation, no it was not a cover per se – it was a very serious project which indeed continued into 1965. However that does not mean that people recruited for it might not have been convinced to participate in something else while they were on hold and waiting to go operational with AMWORLD, which did not happen prior to Jan/Feb, 1964.
Hope that addresses at leas parts of your questions.
Larry, yes, it answers a lot. The Cain question in particular. When I see reports of him being sent into Cuba early on a Castro hit I start to wonder about his capabilities… knowing he was trained in the Army and Chicago PD, then sent to Casinos for electronic surveillance… I start to wonder if he crossed paths with people like Tony Sforza or Morales which then got him into the Bay of Pigs era raid crews. Otherwise I just don’t see how he fits. To hear that he was sent in to deliver poison (or at least was intended to) makes a lot more sense.
I could see a figure like Soutre being brought in, through Harvey’s connections, but, like you said, being compartmentalized in his own crew separate from the Pathfinders. He at least fits the profile of a fanatic, career soldier with lots of trigger time, and the ability to follow a tightly organized and disciplined plan.
I wrote the AMWORLD question quickly, so maybe I was misunderstood. My understanding was that AMWORLD was a tightly controlled project, post-Mongoose, post Missile Crisis, where experienced, dedicated teams trained for select missions approved of at the highest level (with RFK even visiting Elliot Key in July ’63). I was wondering if these official missions provided cover for some of the same individuals to redirect their planned (but not approved) Castro hit back at Kennedy. From what you wrote, it sounds like you say yes, or at least that it seems probable.
Thanks for the quick reply, and keep fighting the good fight.
I’m open to a separate group being brought in and can envision it happening through either Harvey or Roselli. However what I’ve been learning about Soutre really does not fit the profile that well; even the one prior assassination attempt he was charged with being involved with (as a planner, not a team member) that attack was a brute force machine gun effort which amazingly was ineffective. In 1963 he was allowed to come to the US by CIA contacts to pitch the OAS story about Paris and DeGaulle being under communist influence, a platform for gaining US support for ousting DeGaulle. The FBI became aware of the visit and went after him and Hoover was irate about it (hence his remarks about not trusting the CIA).
On your point about AMWORLD, definitely yes, you characterized it better than I had…
Larry, I have another Pathfinder follow up question. How specifically were the Pathfinder teams selected prior to the Bay of Pigs Invasion, and how did they differ from Brigade 2506 or Operation 40.
You’ve called them the CIA’s alpha team (of Anti-Castro Cubans), and indicated that they were hand picked for the most complicated/daring assignments. Were they former Cuban military? Was there a vetting process where Anti-Castro Cubans were sorted based on aptitude, passion, skill and intelligence? Who ran this process, and who helped? Was it Morales and Robertson? Grayston Lynch or Carl E. Jenkins? Artime and Quintero? Does Joaquin San Jenis factor in here at this point or is he post Bay of Pigs AMOT selection?
If teams were selected and trained, and some of them inserted into Cuba just prior to the invasion, did they all make it out? If some were caught and executed does this represent the ultimate motive for revenge by their closely trained brothers in arms?
While its still early days in some of these areas, here’s what I think we know at this point:
Initially personnel from the earliest training (under Jenkins in Panama) were taken to Belle Chase for advanced training, a select number of them were separated and moved to the Keys for maritime missions. Those would be the Pathfinder cadre (Pathfinder being standard terminology for advanced reconnaissance and preparing for the main force). As a type of special force (somewhat comparable to U.S. Army Recon/Scouts) these folks would be highly trained, skilled and first in, infiltrated in advance. The vetting process came though through their basic and advanced training combined with the fact that they had been among the very first volunteers – heavily committed and with many of them having prior experience in Cuba as part of the armed revolution against Castro. As far as we can tell so far Carl Jenkins played a key role in this.
What all those folks had in common was going into Cuba in advance. It is also possible that some of the AMOTS were inserted in advance for intelligence collection and Castro leadership targeting – although that is less clear. If I knew exactly how Felix Rodriquez came through the pipeline we would know but that remains unknown at this point.
Some of the work David Boylan is now doing with the AMHAZE crypts also suggests that some of the maritime personnel were intended to work directly with on island resistance groups, in support of an uprising that the landings would reinforce. Its pretty clear the uprising was supposed to follow the assassination of Castro – and all those efforts (paramilitary and poison) failed. Artime was supposed to have been inserted in advance to help lead that resistance; since it all aborted he ended up going in with the Brigade.
The other forces and names that you mention were all part of the Brigade landings, San Jenis’s team as diversion and Lynch and Robertson going in with the Brigade at the BOP. Later, after that disaster, Jenkins went off to Vietnam and Robertson became a key operations figure in maritime operations against Cuba, working with some of the same Pathfinder team members.
On your last question, it looks like several of the Pathfinder personnel did manage to avoid the round ups after the landings failed – Felix Rodriquez, Nestor Izquierdo, Carlos Hernandez. Some were not on island at the time. We are still trying to track what may well have been one assassination team out of Guatemala that appears to have literally disappeared.
What is clear from all of this is that the full story of the Bay of Pigs is far more complex than what is in the history books. That story suggests that key elements – a) Castro assassination, b) Island wide uprising and c) broad military action by resistance groups – was definitely part of the plan and apparently was not communicated to JFK. Worse yet there were so many failures in the last two months that the whole operation should certainly have aborted. Of course that full story makes Helms, Barnes and Bissell look even more culpable..not surprising it was suppressed.
Hope that helps, that’s the best picture we have at the moment.
it helps a lot, much obliged. I agree on Felix Rodriguez’s story… knowing what he did before, and exactly how he was recruited, selected and deployed is a fascinating topic. To think that there were several others very much like him, who maintained a deeper cover/lower profile is equally interesting.
I’m still getting some of the terms straight. Is AMOT simply a code name group, similar to AMHINT? Is there a hierarchy within the code name groups, with one being deemed more valuable than another? So someone could be Brigade 2506, or Operation 40 and also have a code name that appears to lump them in with another group? So the progression would be recruitment/selection, code name, training, mission(s)? The code name stays with you for the duration, regardless of the number of missions you were sent on?
Thanks for your time.
Confusion on the names is a problem we all face. The crypt/code system is intended as a security measure – to defeat foreign intelligence and preserve operational security. It’s taken us decades of document release and study to understand enough crypts to effectively read the documents we now have available. We are building a growing encyclopedia of crypts at the Mary Ferrell Foundation:
Basically you have personal crypts for individuals….and if those individuals are acting within a particular operation that operation has a crypt as well. So you have AM/HAZE as an operation and AM-HAZE 1 – N as individual crypts. You have AM/MOT as an operation and AMOT 1- N as individuals . Some individuals are involved in ongoing projects over time (not just individual operations) and significant enough to have their own independent crypt (Manuel Artime as AMBIDDY).
In regard to AMOT, it refers to a set of individuals trained to be the new Cuban intelligence service upon the removal of Castro – that was the AMOT program. There were collateral programs for other roles, such as AMCHEER.
Certain of the AMOT trainees were taken into special projects and others became part of the group designated to support the landing and move on with the anticipated overthrow, targeting and removing Castro and Communist leaders as resistance removed the Castro regime. The AMOTS traveled with the Cuban Expeditionary Force to the Bay of Pigs but due to the failure of the landings they were never debarked and ultimately ended back in Florida.
It appears that the role of the AMOTS in essentially eliminating the Communist leadership inside Cuba was designated as Operation 40 (over time that term got used in a variety of different ways). At this point it is unclear that it was an official CIA designation at all or simply a term used to describe that effort and the individuals being used in it …some of the nastier activities in regime change don’t get fully on record.
The Brigade became the public terminology for the large group of exiles officially designated as the Cuban Expeditionary Force. Its members were initially trained in Panama, later in Guatemala and a limited number of them at other bases in the U.S. So an individual could be trained for the Brigade but used in various operations….most stayed in Guatemala with the main force, however the individuals in the Wheaton Names studies were tasked with special missions, moved to the sites supporting those missions and operated as part of them.
Its definitely not simple and it is confusing…but then again it was designed for that purpose.
Larry, what is not clear to me is the story concerning CIA Document Number 632-796. (I don’t have the RFI #). If we’re sure it was Michel Roux and not Souetre or Mertz that was in Texas that day, what was his assignment? Was there a Corsican hit team or not? Or is this just another diversionary lead?
My take is that it’s neither. A sensationalist French reporter met Roux while Roux was returning from an effort to find work in the US; there was drinking and Roux began talking about being in Texas at the time JFK was killed.
The reporter turned it into a conspiracy that got published in a small newspaper and French Security – who was interested in Souetre at that point in time, and whether he might be in Mexico where DeGaulle was going to travel – queried the FBI as a routine protective security matter. They also interviewed Roux in person and established the basics of his story, which was confirmed by the FBI inquiry. At that point they simply dropped the matter but years later the release of a document concerning their inquiry triggered what became yet another JFK urban myth.
The first researchers to investigate it did so in good faith but like many other incidents, what was mysterious and suspicions to them has been reconciled by the release of the full chain of documents (as well as by their own investigations). You could consider it a diversion but its one we do to ourselves.
This reply is actually to Jim because for some reason WordPress did not notify me of the polka dot dress girl comment and won’t let me reply to it directly? I am aware of the Patricia Elayn Neal claim but I saw no details published on how they built their photo comparison or what the protocol was (I’ve been privy to another photo show to Serrano based on a very well constructed protocol and she identified a different person). As to the rest of it, honestly its so nebulous I can’t give much of an opinion (I’ve found that with a good bit of Valentine’s information, fascinating but not anything that can be corroborated, rumors and gossip). The best I can say is that Stu and I are still working the RFK story and the leads that have emerged certainly don’t point to anything like that, or to MKULTRA for that matter. If you want to email me we can discuss it further; I’m not exactly sure where this response is going to register.