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Legacy of Secrecy

Legacy of Secrecy: The Long Shadow of the JFK Assassination

by Lamar Waldron with Thom Hartmann
Publisher: Counterpoint, 2008

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Ultimate Sacrifice

The successor to Lamar Waldron and Thom Hartmann's Ultimate Sacrifice, Legacy of Secrecy recaps some of that book and then begins a lengthy exploration of the period following JFK's assassination. From Johnny Roselli's pushing of the "Castro blowback" theory to the Garrison investigation to the murders of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy, the book provides a detailed retelling through the authors' lens of a Mafia conspiracy which infiltrated and used personnel from a JFK-approved Cuban coup plan to provide cover and generate a national security cover-up.

The coup plan itself, involving Cuban Army Commander Juan Almeida whose assassination of Castro would be backed up by U.S. forces, set for December 1 1963, is detailed in the Ultimate Sacrifice. For more on that book, see an accompanying book resource page (note that that resource page refers to the hardcover edition of Ultimate Sacrifice, prior to the paperback edition wherein Commander Almeida was first named).

A major focus of the present work is the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., said by the authors to be initiated by right-winger Joseph Milteer and brokered through Mafia chieftain Carlos Marcello. The book develops in some detail evidence that James Earl Ray engaged in drug-running after his escape from prison, which put him into a network controlled by Marcello.

Legacy of Secrecy continues the call for release of additional documents related to AMWORLD and other matters. Author Lamar Waldron has called attention to a 2000 OMB Watch report entitled A Presumption of Disclosure, which reviewed the performance of the Assassination Records Review Board, noting accomplishments but also making the claim that "'well over a million CIA records' are still outstanding."

As with the previous book, the documentation for the book rests in part on voluminous government records, many declassified only in recent years, as well as many author interviews, some with unnamed sources. As an aid to readers interested in digging deeper, the Mary Ferrell Foundation is pleased to provide a walkthrough of some of the more important primary source materials cited in the book.

The Almeida Coup Plan

The early chapters of the book recap the Cuban coup plan which Waldron and Hartmann say was planned for December 1, 1963. In the paperback version of the book, the authors named Cuban Army Commander as the coup leader. The authors stress that this plan was distinct from the AMLASH (Rolanda Cubela) assassination/overthrow plot, which they maintain was unauthorized by Kennedy (see Church Committee).

Below are some documents about Almeida and others related to the alleged coup plan which were not included in the resource page for Ultimate Sacrifice.

198-10004-10011: TRAINING OF CUBAN REFUGEES IN NICARAGUA (Chapter 7, note 3). This Army report discusses Cuban exile leader Manuel Artime's efforts in Nicaragua (supported by CIA's operation AMWORLD). It notes a meeting between Robert Kennedy and Artime, Jose San Roman, and Enrique "Harry" Williams on November 17, 1963 (view a sample RFK phone log entry noting a call with Harry Williams and an AP article from 10 May 1963 which names Williams and notes his friendship with RFK).

104-10163-10258: AMCLATTER-1 IN 8 NOV 63 REPORT 121 RECEIVED 13 NOV (Chapter 2, note 53). Cuban exile leader and future Watergate burglar Bernard Barker (AMCLATTER-1 - see the MFF's CIA Cryptonym Project) is quoted as saying that the defection of Cuban journalist Carlos Franqui was "part of operation including Juan Almeida" and others. Later Barker talks of "rumors" of an overthrow of Castro, and Legacy of Secrecy notes that Barker and E. Howard Hunt, allegedly part of the coup plan, were close. Though note that rumors describe a "US-Soviet deal backing AMTHUG (Castro) overthrow and establishment Tito-type Commie government to be recognized immediately by ODYOKE (US)."

104-10308-10113: Cable: AMPALM-4 SAID FRANCISCO CHAO ATTENDED... (Chapter 12, note 47). In this post-assassination cable from early December 1963, informant AMPALM-4 passed along information regarding "Plan Judas" which involved "autenticos inside PBRUMEN (Cuba)." The cable adds the claim of Harry Williams that he, Williams, would lead Cuba and had been so named by GPFOCUS (Robert Kennedy). It further reported a meeting between Miguel "Cuco" Leon and the head of ODBEAT (Defense Intelligence Agency head Gen. Carroll), wherein Carroll was said to have "spoke against KUBARK (CIA) because they interfering with Plan Judas."

104-10308-10040: Dispatch: Alleged Plan to Overthrow Fidel Castro. Cuban exile informant Valentin Diaz, located in Venezuela, said that "An operation called 'Plan Judas' is being constructed inside Cuba" and included Juan Almeida as one of the "key figures." Note that Diaz said this on 24 Feb 1964, after JFK's assassination. According to Waldron and Hartmann, the Almeida coup plan ended after JFK's death.

CIA Folder on Rolando Cubela Secades (Chapter 25, note 24). In 1966, after the capture of Cubela (AMLASH), the CIA was "most interested ascertaining Almeida's current status view AMLASH-1 and current arrests," interpreted in Legacy of Secrecy as a fear that Almeida's "highest asset in Cuba might be exposed."

124-10305-10003. A major thesis of Ultimate Sacrifice and Legacy of Secrecy is that the Mafia infiltrated the coup plan, and with the help of some CIA officers and others, killed JFK and invoked a national security cover-up. Jose Aleman, a Trafficante associate and FBI informer, in 1964 reported "plans of Cuban hoodlums," including Herminio Diaz, to assassinate Castro. See also 124-10211-10098, which shows that Aleman was reporting as early as September 1963 on Trafficante. Herminio Diaz is said to be Trafficante's bodyguard and the subject of 104-10215-10316, a CIA cable from September 1963 showing Diaz' inside knowledge of Cuban affairs, including Juan Almeida's involvement in a "pro-US anti-Commie group" in the Cuban army.

CIA MEMO ON REQUEST FROM DADE COUNTY FLORIDA, LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS. In the wake of Johnny Roselli's gruesome 1976 murder, Miami police officials made information requests to the CIA. A comment in an internal CIA document related to these requests notes that "Artime and his group were supported by CIA. also was used by the Mafia in the Castro operation. This information should not be released.". Artime is not mentioned in the CIA's 1967 Inspector General's Report in the context of CIA-Mafia plots, only appearing in pages covering 1964 and 1965.

For additional context, ere are a few CIA documents in which Almeida appears. There are many more - use the MFF's search engine to locate all of them.

104-10102-10060: POSSIBLE DEFECTION OF ARMY CHIEF ALMEDIA. This March 1961 report notes a source advised that "Major Juan Almeida, Chief of Staff of the Cuban Army, has been approaching certain Latin Ambassadors in Havana to determine whether he would be accepted as a political asylee."

104-10102-10044: POSITION AND INFLUENCE OF MAJOR JUAN ALMEIDA BOSQUE. This November 1964 report says that Almeida "has no real influence in the Armed Forces," owing his position to Fidel Castro's brother Raul, but also that "Almeida is popular with men in the Armed Forces, and throughout the country as a whole."

DESPAIR EXPRESSED BY MAJOR JUAN ALMEIDA BOSQUE. This fascinating report from December 3, 1963, reports great fear in Cuba over impending U.S. action against Cuba, presumably in response to various allegations that Cuba was behind the JFK assassination. Almeida is said to have told a subordinate that "the Cuban government was prepared with secret and atomic weapons which would greatly surprise the Americans," a claim that is almost certainly untrue, possibly said in order to bolster the subordinate's confidence.

For more on the Almeida coup plan, see the Ultimate Sacrifice book resource page. Important documents there include the internal CIA memo announcing AMWORLD in June 1963, and a draft State-Defense contigency plan for a coup in Cuba, plus many others.

Assassination Aftermath and Cover-Up

A major part of Legacy of Secrecy concerns the aftermath of the assassination, the concerns of officials, and actions of cover-up. The authors maintain that some of these cover-ups were to protect Almeida and national security, but Richard Helms and others covered up for other reasons, including keeping secret the unauthorized AMLASH initiative.

A few highlights are included here.

180-10142-10036: CHRONOLOGY. This chronology, produced by the 1970s Congressional investigation, is cited in several places. Page 58 notes FBI Director Hoover's 11-22-63 dispatch of a "cable to all field offices ordering utilization of all informants and to resolve all allegations." The next page notes that on the following day "FBI HQ cables all field offices rescinding its 11/22 order to use all informants."

104-10018-10052: VARIOUS MEMOS CONCERNING LEE HARVEY OSWALD (Chapter 20, note 11). CIA Soviet Russia Division officer Thomas B. Casasin wrote on 11-25-63 that he had considered "laying on of interviews" with Oswald upon his return from the Soviet Union. Controversy remains on why the CIA didn't debrief Oswald, of whether indeed they did. See Joan Mellen's Who Was Lee Harvey Oswald? for much more on the Casasin memo and this issue.

Telephone Conversation Between the President and J. Edgar Hoover, 29 Nov 1963, 1:40 PM. In this fascinating phone call, LBJ runs the names of the Warren Commissioners by Hoover, and then they discuss the case. On the page 6 of the transcript, LBJ asks Hoover "whether he (Oswald) was connected with the Cuban operation, with money..." (play audio)

Telephone Conversation Between the President and Senator Russell, 29 Nov 1963, 8:55 PM. Over Russell's objections, LBJ tells him that "it's already been announced" and he will be serving on the Warren Commission, telling Russell that "40 million Americans" are at stake (i.e., in the event of a nuclear confrontation over the JFK assassination). At the end of the call, LBJ tells Russell how he finally convinced a recalcitrant Warren to serve when "I just pulled out what Hoover told me about a little incident in Mexico City." (play audio)

Surveillance of Marina Oswald (Chapter 22, notes 5,6). Following her Warren Commission testimony and release from protective custody, the FBI began bugging Marina Oswald. Bug location included her living room, kitchen, and bedroom, and required use of eight FBI agents, in addition to another eight agents supplying physical surveillance. The Warren Commission was aware of this surveillance. Marina was also under surveillance during her stay in Washington while testifying before the Commission.

104-10404-10376: COUNTERING CRITICISM OF THE WARREN REPORT (Chapter 23, notes 2,3) (. This lengthy dispatch in January 1967 to various CIA stations gave detailed instructions for how to counter criticism of the Warren Report. See also the Church Committee's writeup on Covert Relationships with the United States Media.

See these other related resources:

Walkthrough - Formation of the Warren Commission. Details some of the most important documents, phone calls, and actions taken in the week following the assassination, culminating in the announcement of the Warren Commission.

Katzenbach Memo. The Assistant Attorney General's Nov 25 memo announcing that "the public must be satisfied that Oswald was the assassin, that he had no confederates who are still at large...", also noting that "Unfortunately the facts on Oswald seem about too pat--too obvious (Marxist, Cuba, Russian wife, etc.)."

Destruction of the Oswald Note. One of the more well-documented instances of FBI cover-up is the destruction of a note delivered to the Dallas office by Oswald in November 1963.

Stories of Communist Conspiracy in Mexico City. The push for cover-up was intensified in response to allegations about Oswald coming from Mexico City, in addition to stories pushed by John Martino (see Commission Document 657), Frank Fiorini, and others discussed in the book.

Possible Military Investigation of the Assassination. The House Select Committee on Assassinations investigated the possibility that the Marines conducted a post-assassination investigation whose findings have never been made public. Legacy of Secrecy authors write about a separate Naval Intelligence investigation, based on their interviews with a confidential Naval Intelligence source and an unnamed Navy Admiral's son.

Rose Cherami. Rose Cherami predicted the assassination, and her story and her involvement in organized crime drug-running is discussed in the book. See in particular the House Select Committee's write-up. Legacy of Secrecy includes information about Cherami's ties to the Marcello-Trafficante heroin network.

Johnny Roselli and the "Cuban Blowback" Theory

Several chapters of Legacy of Secrecy are devoted to Johnny Roselli's advancement of a story that JFK was killed by a hit team which had been sent to Cuba to assassinate Fidel Castro, but then captured and "turned" by Castro. Through lawyer Edward Morgan, Roselli floated this story to several recipients including journalist Jack Anderson.

Church Committee: 1967 Allegations of Cuban Involvement in the Assassination. The Church Committee recounted a limited part of the Roselli-Morgan blowback story.

CIA's 1967 Report on Plots to Assassinate Fidel Castro. This report was created due to inquiries by President Johnson, in response to the allegations brought by Johnny Roselli through attorney Edward Morgan.

Letter from Rowley to Rowley, 13 Feb 1967. The Roselli-Morgan story reached Chief Justice Earl Warren, who turned it over to the Secret Service to investigate.

Edward Morgan Interview of 8-26-76. In this FBI interview during the Church Committee era, Morgan recounted the meetings he had with Robert Maheu, who was looking for help getting a subpoena quashed related to the Long Committee's wiretapping hearings, because it impinged on the CIA-Mafia assassination plots. Maheu described these plots to Morgan, who subsequently met on multiple occasions with Johnny Roselli, who advanced the "Castro blowback" theory.

Church Committee Interview of Edward Morgan, 19 Mar 1976. See also interviews with Robert Maheu on 9 Jun 1975, 29 Jul 1975, 30 Jul 1975, 23 Sep 1975, and 28 Apr 1976, and with Johnny Roselli on 24 Jun 1975, 22 Sep 1975, and 23 Apr 1976.

124-10204-10205 (Chapter 26, note 13). Mob bosses Carlos Marcello and Santo Trafficante met multiple times in the summer of 1966 an engaged in "several lengthy private conversations" according to this FBI report. The report quotes an informant stated that "Marcello is worried over Trafficante" and his possible business move into Louisiana; Waldron and Hartmann say that during these talks concerned "plans they developed to aid Rosselli and Hoffa...over the next several months and into early 1967."

For more on the Roselli-Morgan story, see Peter Dale Scott's The Inspector General's Report: An Introduction.

1986 Marcello Confession

Lamar Waldron supplied a page from an FBI report on a confession Mafia chieftan Carlos Marcello allegedly made while in prison in Texas. According to the report, Marcello said of President Kennedy, "Yeah, I had the son of a bitch killed. I'm glad I did. I'm sorry I couldn't have done it myself." The book contains more information on this confession. The MFF does not have the full report.

Lamar Waldron on Legacy of Secrecy

Legacy of Secrecy Video

About the Book

(from the dust jacket)

"The rifle fire in Dallas that killed John F. Kennedy didn't just start a frantic effort to find his assassins. JFK's murder also launched a flurry of covert actions by officials like Robert F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, and Richard Helms to hide the fact that the United States was on the brink of invading Cuba as part of a JFK-authorized coup only ten days away. The plan's exposure could have cost the life of JFK's coup leader, Cuban Army Commander Juan Almeida, and led to a nuclear confrontation with the Soviets, just a year after the Cuban Missile Crisis. But the cover-ups by these top officials also had the tragic effect of preventing a full investigation of JFK's assassination, spawning a legacy of secrecy that would impact Presidents, Congress, and U.S. foreign policy for the next forty-five years.

Legacy of Secrecy details the secret attempts of Robert F. Kennedy and his aides to expose his brother's killers, while protecting Commander Almeida. It shows how RFK continued his war against the Mafia by focusing increased attention on the Mafia bosses behind JFK's assassination, until his own murder. RFK's associates continued his quest, almost exposing the truth several times. But like a deadly, high-stakes chess game - at the height of the Cold War - they were blocked each time by three Mafia chiefs and a handful of CIA operatives. Legacy details each step taken by mob bosses Carlos Marcello, Santo Trafficante, and Johnny Roselli to hide their involvement in JFK's murder, and the tragic results that followed. The long shadow of secrecy surrounding both JFK's murder and the coup plan set the stage for the murder of Martin Luther King, ultimately driving two Presidents from office, and bringing about the murders of five Congressional witnesses in the mid-1970s."

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