Nagell’s name is known to most people with any long time interest in the JFK assassination; the extensive details of his story were first brought to general attention by researcher/author Dick Russell in the first edition of his book The Man Who Knew Too Much.
I personally did extensive early research on Nagell related documents, and published hundreds of pages of them along with my analysis of Nagell’s correspondence and his remarks over time (which were quite situational) on CD through JFK Lancer.
I also wrote about Nagell at some length in Someone Would Have Talked, and in the 2010 edition, added new research, establishing a probable association between Nagell and CIA officer Henry Hecksher. Hecksher had served as CIA station chief in Japan when Nagell and Lee Oswald were in that country, and in 1962 had recently served under cover in Cuba, going on to be involved in a still mysterious CIA activities during the period of the Cuban missile crisis, at a time when Nagell was also in Mexico.
Given that history, readers may wonder why Nagell does not appear in my new Tipping Point work, especially as his story does provide credible verification that Cuban exiles presenting themselves as Castro agents were in contact with Lee Oswald in New Orleans late in the summer of 1963. The answer to that is in two parts, first I have no new information about Nagell that I didn’t introduce back in 2010. Second, I very much tried to keep Tipping Point in a tight focus, specifically looking at conspiracy specifically as it related to the attack on JFK in Dallas.
Still, I certainly don’t want to abandon Nagell and his information. In that regard, the following is a brief list of what I feel Nagell has to tell us:
….Nagell provides some very worthwhile insights into the longer Oswald backstory, about his probable visits to the Russian embassy in Tokyo (monitored by military intelligence and the CIA) and his earliest encounters with the intelligence community. That is important to Oswald’s overall personal story, but that is not the subject of Tipping Point.
….Nagell tells us a great deal about how the CIA managed to use volunteers for what might be called “vest-pocket” activities, the sorts of things never documented in the master files – at best existing in “soft” files residing officer’s personal desks. Nagell’s visit to the American embassy in Mexico City in 1962, and his offer to defect, taking information to an American adversary nation, sounds quite familiar. Even more interestingly, although that was reported inside the system, absolutely no follow on inquiry or documents are in evidence. Given that Nagell had a career in Army Intelligence, in particular counter intelligence (including overseas service), the lack of a formal investigation following his claim to be in the process of providing security related information to a foreign power reflects a larger story, one which remains a total mystery.
….Nagell reported observing Oswald in contact with suspicious Cuban exiles in New Orleans, being recruited for some sort of action in the area of Washington D.C. planned for September, 1963. That claim is supported by a series of letters written by Oswald to the Socialist Workers Party and the Communist Party USA discussing such a move, volunteering his services and even requesting advice about “going underground”. That information certainly does corroborate the fact that certain Cuban exiles were active in the late summer of 1963, pursuing action against the President. It also suggests that Oswald’s new visibility as a Castro supporter, had led to his being targeted him as a potential patsy in any such action.
The problem is that Nagell gives us word of a potential action involving the East Coast, but then relates that his own visibility to the Cubans forced him to flee New Orleans pursued by the Cubans. In order to escape their attention, he was decided to commit a fake bank robbery in El Paso, Texas. In doing so he was arrested and remained in jail beginning in September and through November 22. That provided protection from the people who had been pursing him, but effectively gave him no further knowledge of their contacts with Oswald or of anything that occurred after his arrest.
Following the assassination he did attempt to communicate that other individuals had been involved with Lee Oswald, that Oswald might have been set up as a patsy, and that there was likely a Cuban exile element related to the JFK assassination. He took that story to the FBI, to Congressman and in an abortive approach to District Attorney Garrison. The outreach to Garrison aborted because Nagell suspected the Garrison investigation had been penetrated by the CIA and anything he said would be compromised (that concern was later demonstrated to be quite accurate).
So – yes, Richard Case Nagell has things to offer, just nothing new for me to relate in Tipping Point, and nothing that would go beyond the point of corroborating suspicious Cuban exiles in contact with Lee Oswald in New Orleans. Exiles masquerading as Cuban agents and acting with the intent of using Oswald to a purpose in September, but not an action related to Dallas, Texas. And not necessarily the same individuals who were ultimately brought into that plot.
Nagell’s story is a fascinating one nonetheless, if you are interested in the details either Dick Russell’s books or my exposition in Someone Would Have Talked 2010 will take you further into the world of a very complex individual – whose life was convoluted in the extreme.