TILT and the “Phase Three” Story of Clare Boothe LuceBy Prof Peter Dale Scott
Global Research, November 29, 2012
...This reference resurrects the unresolved allegation of Pawley’s close friend and political ally Clare Boothe Luce, about a story from her “young friend,” the skipper of one of the anti-Castro raider boats she and Pawley were sponsoring. Luce claimed that her friend (to whom she gave the pseudonym “Julio Fernandez”), told her the night of Kennedy’s assassination that he “had these tape recordings of Oswald” in New Orleans, tapes which included Oswald’s “bragging that he could shoot anyone, even the Secretary of the Navy.”
This story, never explained, supplies an alternative to the FBI and Warren Report account of Oswald’s contact in early August 1963 with New Orleans DRE delegate Carlos Bringuier in his shop Casa Roca, a remarkable visit even before this new information.
It is important to note that both Philip Geraci and Vance Blalock, the two witnesses to Oswald’s visit to Bringuier’s shop, testified (in divergent and mutually exclusive versions) that, after Oswald left, they “started following him home.” In Luce’s version as she told a journalist in 1975, “Fernandez”’ contacts “followed him and found he was in a Fair Play for Cuba Communist cell.”
We seem to have two different accounts of the same event. The FBI and Warren Commission version, as we might expect, is what I have called a “phase two version,” in which nothing conflicts with the picture they present of Oswald as a lone assassin.
Geraci and Blalock were interviewed by the Warren Commission but said nothing about having taped him (10 WH 76, 82). The Luce-Hernandez version, in contrast, is a “phase one” story, in which Oswald appears as a hired gun working ultimately for Castro: “The young Cuban who called me,” Mrs. Luce continued, “said that there was a Cuban Communist assassination team working somewhere – in Dallas, New Orleans, or wherever … [and] Oswald was their hired gun.”
Luce’s Cuban added, somewhat paradoxically, that Oswald, before deciding to work for Castro, “had tried to report the Communist plans to the FBI some time before the assassination.” This switch from anti-Castro to pro-Castro roles for Oswald, unlikely as it may sound, closely mirrors the Warren Report’s account of Oswald between August 5 and August 9, 1963. Bringuier himself told the Washington Post after the assassination that on August 5 “I thought he might be an agent for the FBI or the CIA,” before Bringuier caught him on August 9 distributing leaflets from the Fair Play for Cuba Committee.
[Today I shall skip what the taping of Oswald implies about the Lake Ponchartrain training camp that Oswald asked about, and go directly to what I say about the so-called Bayo-Pawley plot, the CIA-backed operation TILT that brought in Jerry Hemming and Frank Sturgis, the two men behind the Lake Ponchartrain training camp.]...
I want to close with some remarks from my concluding section, Why Did Clare Boothe Luce Not Release Her Oswald Story Until 1975?
Pawley and Luce were enthusiastic supporters of Nixon in his 1968 campaign to be elected president, and Pawley joined the “Ambassadors for Nixon Committee.” But their support predictably waned with Nixon’s moves in 1971-72 to redefine America’s relationship to China and the Soviet Union. Pawley wrote in his unpublished memoir, “Russia is Winning,” that “The whole pattern is now colored with a thin, pasty coating called ‘detente,’ a Communist tactic to prepare the trusting democracies for the kill…It can end only in surrender.”
After Nixon’s resignation in 1974, Pawley was even more uncomfortable with the foreign policy of his successor Gerald Ford. In 1975 the John Birch Society publication American Opinion quoted Pawley as stating that Kissinger, whom Ford had retained as Secretary of State, “scares me to death.” Pawley was particularly incensed to learn that Ford and Kissinger might lend support to a move in the Organization of American States (OAS) to lift economic and diplomatic sanctions against Cuba.
It was inevitable that Pawley’s political preference in 1976 would be for his friend, and Ford’s primary opponent, Ronald Reagan, whom Pawley had urged Nixon to consider as his vice-presidential choice in 1968. Clare Boothe Luce was also a supporter of Reagan in both 1976 and 1980. Moreover she was a member of two important neocon groups that helped prepare for the 1980 “Reagan Revolution,” by lobbying for an end to détente and an increase in defense spending: the Committee on the Present Danger (1976) and the Coalition for Peace through Strength (1978, of which Reagan also was a member). In 1981 Reagan rewarded Luce for her efforts with a seat on the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB).
More importantly, in 1964 both Pawley and Mrs. Luce had been important figures in the campaign to elect their friend Barry Goldwater as president. Clare Boothe Luce seconded the nomination of Goldwater at the Republican Convention, and thereafter co-chaired a Citizens group (with General James Doolittle) to elect him. Pawley meanwhile had served as chairman of Florida Citizens for Goldwater-Miller. After Goldwater’s ignominious defeat in 1964, Mrs. Luce continued to be close to him, dining with him at least twice (in 1965 and again in 1967) with their mutual friend William Buckley.
With the unprecedented resignation of Nixon in 1974, American politics were left in disarray, with both left and right struggling (and expecting) to prevail in the post-Nixon era. Major topics, usually too sacred for public discussion, were briefly debated in both Congress and the media, including the size of the post-Vietnam defense budget, the future of the CIA, and even the CIA’s past role in assassinations. At the time there was an unprecedented outpour of books attacking the CIA from both the left and the right.
In this post-Watergate turmoil Democrats and Republicans in the Senate agreed to the formation of the Church Committee to investigate the CIA and FBI. On this Committee the Republicans were represented by Senator John Tower as Co-Chair, and also Senator Goldwater.
Inside the Church Committee a bitter contest, between the advocates or a more open America versus the advocates of a more authoritarian one, became crystallized about the question of who had been responsible for past assassinations: the Kennedys or the CIA. In his massive defense of the “phase three” retaliation story, Gus Russo sums up the positions of Republican Senators Schweiker and Goldwater:
Senator Richard Schweiker headed the Church Committee’s investigation into the Kennedy assassination’s possible connection to intelligence activities. He has said, “My impression is that the presidents not only knew but ordered these policies by and large… Past presidents have used the CIA as their secret police at home and their secret army abroad.”
Perhaps the most forthright Committee member was Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona. At the time of the hearings, Goldwater remarked that there was friction on the Committee between “those who want to protect the Kennedys and those who want to tell the truth.” Years later, he stated it more succinctly, saying, “We spent nine of the ten months trying to get Kennedy’s name out of it.” When asked by the press who was behind the attempts on Castro’s life, Goldwater motioned towards the White House and said, “Everything points right down there.”
Goldwater’s description of the Democrats’ behavior in the 94th Congress is corroborated by the Democrats’ subsequent behavior in the 95th. A new House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA), first set up in 1976, was severely reorganized by Democrats in 1977 and put in the hands of Robert Blakey, who had been a former close ally of Robert Kennedy in the Justice Department. Although the HSCA achieved much of value, it also studiously avoided the Bayo-Pawley story. The HSCA Report did not mention it, nor did it point out that the Report’s author, HSCA editorial director Richard Billings, had himself been a participant in the Bayo-Pawley mission.
But the CIA appears to have been as industrious in protecting its secrets as the Kennedy loyalists. The CIA gave an undercover assignment to one of its officers, psychological warfare expert George Joannides, and assigned him to work as its liaison officer with the HSCA. The Committee never learned that Joannides had also been the case officer for the Cuban exile group DRE, whose publicity director Carlos Bringuier had been repeatedly in contact with Lee Harvey Oswald.
In the course of their debates, the Church Committee established a subcommittee “to review the role of federal agencies in investigating the Kennedy assassination.”
Goldwater’s viewpoint was represented on the subcommittee by Senator Richard Schweiker, a Republican from Pennsylvania. According to Church Committee investigator Gaeton Fonzi , the subcommittee was established on September 8, 1975.
Schweiker’s move coincided almost exactly in time with Clare Boothe Luce’s decision to go public with her “phase three” story that Oswald had been “turned” by Castro. In Fonzi’s words.
Right after Schweiker announced the formation of his Kennedy assassination Subcommittee, he was visited by Vera Glaser, a syndicated Washington columnist. Glaser told him she had just interviewed Clare Boothe Luce and that Luce had given her some information relating to the assassination. Schweiker immediately called Luce and she, quite cooperatively and in detail, confirmed the story she had told Glaser.
It makes strong political sense that Luce would be anxious to launch her version of a “phase three” story in 1975. Nixon was no longer there to be protected; the president who would be injured by it was now Gerald Ford; and Ford, besides being a member and spokesman for the Warren Report, was the leader of the anti-Reagan forces in the Republican Party, and perhaps above all the ally and protector of Henry Kissinger with his hated policy of detente.
But if Luce’s motives for launching her story at this time were political, she badly underestimated the political explosiveness of the “phase three” story. Eventually the Church Committee would document how both the Secret Service and the FBI found Jack Anderson’s story too hot to handle (5 AH 80-82). The reaction of the CIA was quite different: after LBJ asked DCI Richard Helms about it (having been alerted by Earl Warren, who had heard about it from Drew Pearson before the March 1967 story), the CIA produced an Inspector-General’s Report of over 100 pages, which even then dealt only obliquely and evasively with Anderson’s story.
Buried near the end of the Report was a section headed with the ominous question, “Should we try to silence those who are talking or who might later talk?” The Report’s response to the question was low-keyed and quite benign, ending two pages later with the sentence, “There might be some value to be gained from endorsing [Robert Maheu’s] suggestion that he approach [Edward P.] Morgan and perhaps Roselli and urge discretion.”
But in 1975, after Nixon’s two CIA directors (James Schlesinger and William Colby) had demanded an accounting of the CIA’s past illegalities, the CIA was in a far more desperate plight than it had been back in 1967. We have to ask whether it is only coincidental that the years 1975-78 saw so many violent deaths among those involved in the CIA-mafia plots, and more specifically with the Bayo-Pawley plot.
On June 19, 1975, “a week before his scheduled appearance before the Church Committee to be questioned about the CIA-Mafia plots…Sam Giancana [was] shot in the back of the head with a .22-caliber pistol.” John Martino also died in May 1975, allegedly after telling his wife, a business partner, and a journalist friend that he had been peripherally involved in the plot to kill Kennedy. After John Roselli had testified to the Church Committee, his mutilated body, on August 7, 1976, was discovered in Biscayne Bay, floating in an oil drum. Committee investigator Gaeton Fonzi records the deaths of three other witnesses he had planned to question: George de Mohrenschildt by alleged suicide, Carlos Prio by suicide, and Manuel Artime, weeks after his diagnosis with cancer.
Extensive as it is, Fonzi’s list of questionable deaths is not complete. William Harvey, the CIA officer who was also a friend of Roselli and one of the three sources Anderson named for his “backfire” story, testified to the Church Committee in 1975; on June 8, 1976, he died suddenly, at age 60, from a heart attack. William C. Sullivan, head of the FBI’s Intelligence Division that so strangely handled (or mishandled) Oswald’s FBI files in the weeks before the assassination, was shot in November 1977 with a high-powered rifle, by a hunter who claimed to have mistaken him for a deer. Journalist Robert Novak, a friend of Sullivan, later wrote, “Bill told me I would probably read about his death in some kind of accident but not to believe it. It would be murder.” On May 8, 1978, David Morales, the CIA Operations officer who is said to have selected his close friend Mickey Kappes for Operation TILT, died, after having reportedly told friends, “I was in Dallas when I, when we got that mother fucker, and I was in Los Angeles when we got the little bastard.”
But there is one death in particular that could suggest that Clare Booth Luce may have underestimated the political explosiveness of “phase three” stories. It can be seen also as an ironic comment on the fluidity of the dark forces underlying American politics, and the danger of dabbling with them. I shall close with a quote from Gaeton Fonzi’s description of how in early 1977 he began to continue his investigations on behalf of the recently created House Select Committee on Assassinations:
On my official first day, I sent to Washington a list of witnesses I planned to interview… William Pawley was near the top of that list. Exactly one week later [on January 7, 1977], William Pawley, in bed in his mansion on Miami Beach with a nervous ailment [shingles], put a gun to his chest and committed suicide.
Although I have never hear of any other person committing suicide because of shingles, Pawley’s death by itself proves nothing at all. However I believe that the story of a story I have been telling you today, of a “phase three” story that was indeed a political H-bomb, makes at least two things clear. The first is that President Kennedy was not assassinated by a marginal neglected loner who was quickly killed, but by some deep enduring force in our society, with the power to affect bureaucratic behavior.
And despite their lip service to the findings of the Warren Report, a lot of public figures knew this, and felt very threatened.http://www.globalresearch.ca/william-pa ... ce/5313486