Transcript of Milteer-Somersett Tape
Note: This is a transcript of a tape recorded on 9 Nov 1963 by Miami Police informant William Somersett, recording a conversion with right-wing extremist Joseph Milteer. The transcript is taken from Harold Weisberg's essay The Milteer Documents in the book The Assassinations: Dallas and Beyond (in this version, INFORMANT has been replaced with SOMERSETT, and SUBJECT with MILTEER). Portions referring to Kennedy are in bold.
SOMERSETT: Now we are going to, you are going to have to take, Kenney, what do you call his last name?
MILTEER: Kenneth Adams.
SOMERSETT: Yeah, you are going to take him in, he is supposed to be one of the hard-core of the underground, are you going to invite him into that, too? What about Brown, now, are you going to invite Brown in? You are going to have Brown in it?
SOMERSETT: Now, I will tell you between me and you, because we are talking, we aren't going to talk to everybody like we are talking here. Now, you know this, I like Brown, he is a good fellow, you know him, now here is something, when we was in his house, now, he knows me and you, but he didn't know Lee McCloud, well I think he done too much talking in front of a man he didn't know. Brown trusts a lot of people, he figures everybody is good.
SOMERSETT: And you know when he was telling her [or him, not legible] about blowing up all those churches and, you know, I don't think he should have said all that in front of McCloud.
MILTEER: That is exactly the way I feel about it, too. And I didn't talk about it any more after we left there.
SOMERSETT: No, I see you didn't, you see, these things come to my mind, I don't know McCloud well, and Brown never seen him before in his life, that I know of, now you seen this boy, Jackie, didn't open his mouth, he just sit there and listened. Jack Caulk [phonetic] he is a very quiet boy, Brown it just seems, well, he, I guess he has gotten by with so much he just don't care. He come out with all that about going over to Atlanta carrying that stuff, and showing them how to operate, I didn't want to say anything to him, but I don't think it is a good idea for people to discuss things like that in front of strangers. What do you think about it?
MILTEER: No, I - He should operate that, the same as he does the rest of it.
SOMERSETT: That's right, damn right that is right. Now you take like the Birmingham ... [Milteer breaks in]
MILTEER: Any conclusion they come up with, that's them, not him.
SOMERSETT: That is true.
MILTEER: He didn't give them anything.
SOMERSETT: Well, he didn't give them nothing.
MILTEER: Just like me at home there folks want to know, "Joe, where do you get all of your information?" "Well, I get it, that is all you are interested in," and that is as far as it goes, see. And the same guy will turn around and give me some information, but he doesn't know where I am getting my information. The same guy who asks me where I get my information, will turn around and give me information.
SOMERSETT: Well, sure, of course, I realize that.
MILTEER: That is the way you have got to operate.
SOMERSETT: Well, that is what I say, if you are going to take Brown in, and Brown is going to be one of the head men, the man behind you, then you have got to talk to Brown a little bit, and tell him, you know, "You have got to be a little more conscientious, especially on these bombings, and killings," after all he comes right out with it.
MILTEER: We have got to let him understand, that, that is his operation, and not ours.
SOMERSETT: Yeah, that is true. We don't care, if he wants to go to Birmingham and blow up a church, let him.
MILTEER: If he wants to blow up the National Capital, that is alright with me. I will go with him, but not as a party though, as an individual.
SOMERSETT: Well, if you want to go with him and help him blow it up, that is not the party, it is an individual, you are going to have to make him understand that.
MILTEER: There is a party movement, and there is also an individual movement.
SOMERSETT: Yeah, that is right.
MILTEER: And they are distinct and separate.
SOMERSETT: Well, you are going to have to make him understand that, right there, he didn't exactly admit it, but Jesus Christ, he intimated, he indicated right there, he backed the bombings of killing the negroes in Birmingham, well, you know damn well we don't want anybody talking like that.
MILTEER: Can't afford it.
SOMERSETT: Well, you damn well that is bad talk especially to somebody he don't know. He could have said that to me, and you would have been alright, it would have been between you and me then.
MILTEER: That is true.
SOMERSETT: But to go ahead and say it in front of Lee McCloud, what that [sic] hell ... [Milteer breaks in]
MILTEER: Well, I think he thought that he would [not] have been with us, if he had not been alright. But that is still not enough.
SOMERSETT: No, hell no, that is no good, at least before he made all those statements, he should have called you outside, or consulted about this man a little bit.
MILTEER: You have to have reservations, you know.
SOMERSETT: That is right. Hell, he didn't say these things in any way to try to get us into trouble, because the only one who could be in trouble would be him, he was confessing on his damn self, he wasn't confessing on us, because we hadn't done a damn thing.
MILTEER: You and I would not get up there on the stand and say that he told us a cotton picking thing either.
SOMERSETT: Well, he knows that, but how about the other man.
MILTEER: Well, that is what I say.
SOMERSETT: Yeah, hell yes. I tell you something, you take Kenneth Adams over there, he is a mean damn man, like Brown was saying, the guy he was sending him to, well Kenneth is real mean, and the way Brown indicated they [not legible] the negroes, well, we don't care anything about that. I would rather he wouldn't tell us those stories.
MILTEER: You sure can't repeat them.
SOMERSETT: Yeah. That is the set-up we are in now, I mean, we have to work with them, but let them operate their grollings [phonetic], like you say, if you want to go with them, that is your opinion, you go with him up to Washington and blow with him, if you want to go ... [Milteer breaks in]
MILTEER: I have a man who is the head of his underground of his own up there in Delaware, and since I worked on the Supreme Court, he wanted me to give him the lay-out there so they could go over there and do some things there, you know. But he called it off, I don't know why, I didn't even ask him why. That was his affair, but he called it off. But I was ready to go with him. I gave him the damn information he wanted.
SOMERSETT: You worked on the Supreme Court.
MILTEER: Yeah, three and a half years.
SOMERSETT: Well, that is why he wanted you to go, then, well, them things have got to be done, but outside the Party, we have got to be mighty careful who the hell we let know anything. Now, here is one thing you have got to realize, transporting dynamite across the state line is a federal offense, well you better let them know that.
MILTEER: Well, there is a way to beat that, you know. All you have to do is pull up to the state line, unload it there, slide it across the line, get in the car and load it again, and they can't accuse you of transporting it then, because you didn't do it. I have done the same thing with a woman. I had one, then I had a woman frame me on it. I got to the state line, and I said, "Listen, Toots, this is the state line, get out, and I will meet you over there," she got out, walked across the line, got in my car in the other state, I didn't transport her, there wasn't a fucking thing she could do about it, I had her ass for a long time.
SOMERSETT: I was talking to a boy yesterday, and he was in Athens, Georgia, and he told me, that they had two colored people working in that drug store, and that them, uh, they went into the basement, and tapped them small pipes, I guess that they are copper together, and let that thing accumulate, and blowed the drug store up. He told me that yesterday, do you think that is right?
MILTEER: It could have happened that way.
SOMERSETT: Well, that is what he told me, and he is in town right now.
MILTEER: Does he know who did it? Do they think these negroes did it?
SOMERSETT: Oh, no, they killed the negroes, because they had two negroes working in the place, that is what he told me. He is in town now, he is from Chattanooga. He knows Brown, he knows all of them, his uncle is in the Klan there. He is a young boy, he has been in the Marines, and he really knows his business. He went there, he went down and looked, and he told me that is what happened. So he has been involved in quite a little bit of stuff, according to his story about Nashville, Chattanooga, and Georgia. I have no reason not to believe him, because he told me too much about Brown's operation, that is the reason I [not legible].
MILTEER: Yeah. You take this boy, Connor McGintis [phonetic], boy up there in Union, N.J., of course he doesn't go to anything like that, but he is on our side, he is the one that puts out that Common Sense. He is an ex-Marine. He is all man, too.
SOMERSETT: Now, you see, we will talk to these other people, you have made up your mind that you are going to use the Constitutional Party as a front.
MILTEER: Yeah, Constitutional Party States Rights.
SOMERSETT: Yeah, and it will be strictly secret, and nobody will be exposed except you.
SOMERSETT: Because when we talk to them today, you want to know exactly what to tell them, how it operates.
MILTEER: Yeah, and we have got to set up a little fund there to get it operating.
SOMERSETT: Oh, yeah, sure.
MILTEER: And I am going to devote my time to it, I don't have any idea of getting elected to that City Commission, but I am just making it cost them bastards it cost them as it is, cost them between $1,500 and $2,000 to beat me before, so I want to make it cost them another couple of thousand dollars. If they want to get rid of me, they can buy my fucking property, and I will get out of the damn town. In other words, they will save me money. I am going to put that out in one of the damn bulletins there, see. We put, the way I operate, put out these little bulletins, like a typewriter page, eight and a half by eleven, and brother don't you think they ain't waiting for them, when I don't put them out, "Joe, where is the bulletin?" Bill, that could go all over the country the same way. That was just a trial proposition, if it will work in a little stinking town like that, it will work anywhere.
SOMERSETT: I don't know, I think Kennedy is coming here on the 18th, or something like that to make some kind of speech, I don't know what it is, but I imagine it will be on the TV, and you can be on the look for that, I think it is the 18th that he is suppose to be here. I don't know what it is suppose to be about.
MILTEER: You can bet your bottom dollar he is going to have a lot to say about the Cubans, there are so many of them here.
SOMERSETT: Yeah, well he will have a thousand bodyguards, don't worry about that.
MILTEER: The more bodyguards he has, the easier it is to get him.
MILTEER: The more bodyguards he has the more easier it is to get him.
SOMERSETT: Well how in the hell do you figure would be the best way to get him?
MILTEER: From an office building with a high-powered rifle, how many people [room noise--tape not legible] does he have going around who look just like him? Do you know about that?
SOMERSETT: No, I never heard that he had anybody.
MILTEER: He has got them.
SOMERSETT: He has?
MILTEER: He has about fifteen. Whenever he goes any place they [not legible] he knows he is a marked man.
SOMERSETT: You think he knows he is a marked man?
MILTEER: Sure he does.
SOMERSETT: They are really going to try to kill him?
MILTEER: Oh, yeah, it is in the working, Brown himself, Brown is just as likely to get him as anybody. He hasn't said so, but he tried to get Martin Luther King.
SOMERSETT: He did.
MILTEER: Oh yes, he followed him for miles and miles, and couldn't get close enough to him.
SOMERSETT: You know exactly where he is in Atlanta don't you.
MILTEER: Martin Luther King, yeah.
SOMERSETT: Bustus Street [phonetic].
MILTEER: Yeah 530.
SOMERSETT: Oh Brown tried to get him huh?
SOMERSETT: Well, he will damn sure do it, I will tell you that. Well, that is why, look, you see, well, that is why we have to be so careful, you know that Brown is operating strong.
MILTEER: He ain't going to play you know.
SOMERSETT: That is right.
MILTEER: He is going for broke.
SOMERSETT: I never asked Brown about his business or anything, you know just what he told me, told us, you know. But after the conversation, and the way he talked to us, there is no question in my mind about who knocked the church off in Birmingham, you can believe that, that is the way I figured it.
MILTEER: That is right, it is about the ony way you can figure it.
SOMERSETT: That is right.
MILTEER: Not being there, not knowing anything.
SOMERSETT: But just from his conversation, as you and me know him, but if they did, it is their business, like you say [Milteer breaks in].
MILTEER: It is up to the individual.
SOMERSETT: That is right. They are individual operators, we don't want that within the party. Hitting this Kennedy is going to be a hard proposition, I tell you, I believe, you may have figured out a way to get him, you may have figured out the office building, and all that. I don't know how them Secret Service agents cover all them office buildings, or anywhere he is going, do you know whether they do that or not?
MILTEER: Well, if they have any suspicion they do that of course. But without suspicion chances are that they wouldn't. You take there in Washington, of course it is the wrong time of the year, but you take pleasant weather, he comes out on the veranda, and somebody could be in a hotel room across the way there, and pick him off just like [fades out].
SOMERSETT: Is that right?
MILTEER: Sure, disassemble a gun, you don't have to take a gun up there, you can take it up in pieces, all those guns come knock down, you can take them apart.
SOMERSETT: They have got a damn, this boy was telling me yesterday about, they have got an explosive that you get out of the army, it is suppose to be like putty or something, you stick it up, and use a small fuse, you just stick it like that, he told me, and I think that is what happened in the church in Birmingham, they stuck this stuff, somebody stuck it under the steps with a short fuse, and went on home. This boy is pretty smart, demolition is that what you call it?
MILTEER: Demolition, that is right.
SOMERSETT: I am going to talk with him some more.
MILTEER: Yeah I would.
SOMERSETT: I am going to talk with him some more, and find out a lot more about his operation, because he knows a hell of a lot.
MILTEER: You need a guy like that around, too. Where we can put our finger on him, when we want him.
SOMERSETT: Yeah. Well, you have got somebody up there in that country now, if you need him.
MILTEER: Well, we are going to have to get nasty first [not legible].
SOMERSETT: Yeah, get nasty.
MILTEER: We have got to be ready, we have got to be sitting on go, too.
SOMERSETT: Yeah, that is right.
MILTEER: There ain't any count down to it, we have just got to be sitting on go. Count down they can move in on you, and on go they can't. Count down is alright for a slow prepared operation, but in an emergency operation, you have got to be sitting on go.
SOMERSETT: Boy, if that Kennedy gets shot, we have got to know where we are at. Because you know that will be a real shake, if they do that.
MILTEER: They wouldn't leave any stone unturned there no way. They will pick up somebody within hours afterwards, if anything like that would happen just to throw the public off.
SOMERSETT: Oh, somebody is going to have to go to jail, if he gets killed.
MILTEER: Just like that Bruno Hauptmann in the Lindbergh case you know [Dials telephone].
SOMERSETT: "Hello, is Jim there?" "Has he gone to the office?" "Uh, huh, well, is he coming back home?" "Alright, I will do that, thank you." He has gone out to one of those apartment houses, and he will be back later. We will go see whatamacallit, he closes at 1:00 o'clock. We will go up and see Andrew, and we will double back to Jim's [room noise].
MILTEER: Actually the only man we are interested in up at that place [room noise - not legible - door closes].