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Tuesday, 29 April 2014 15:56

Master Class with John Hankey, IV: Corson, Trento, Hankey, and Their Zhou En-Lies

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The final installment of Seamus Coogan's extended critique of John Hankey and Dark Legacy / JFK II.


The frustrating thing about being a writer is sometimes things don't make the final cut. Such was the case when I wrote up a mini article for Jim DiEugenio to use in his review of Dark Legacy. I recall; I sent it to him after the horse had bolted. This was not helped by my decision to exclude it in my second article “Onward and Downward With John Hankey.

I had wanted to expand on a point made by Jim during his Murder Solved forum back and forth with John Hankey (JH) (a very revealing insight into his solipsistic mind). One of the angles Hankey has used to stump his “Prescott Bush the real power of the CIA” myth is the CIA’s 1955 attempt on the life of Chinese leader Zhou Enlai (for background on the CIA’s operation against EnLai click here). He believes Prescott Bush (PB) ran the CIA because he supposedly denied Allen Dulles information from the committee reviewing the attempted assassination of Mr En-Lai.

As we shall see Hankey is distorting this scenario; hence, exaggerating once again. He is also exposing the shallowness of his reasoning and research for the umpteenth time.

Hankey Pankey at Murder Solved

After my Hankey piece, I ended my stint at the Murder Solved Forum. I still hold the vast majority of the people there in high regard, and they were great fun. Indeed, while I do not share Wim Dankbaar’s take on several things (PB in particular) their tolerance of my positions was humbling. Indeed, Murder Solved stands as the only current staging point for any moderated debate between a CTKA representative, (Jim, who stepped in after I left) and John Hankey.

What piqued my interest at the time was a comment made by Hankey below.

“Prescott Bush was sent to investigate. And, says Trento, Dulles asked for an update, and was told that he didn't have sufficient clearance. My points are two-fold: 1) the fact that Dulles was director, and therefore in the public spotlight, suggests that he would have been a figurehead so that things could go on behind the scenes, directed by truly powerful parties unknown, and 2) this story of Trento's suggest that Prescott was the power behind the scenes.”

This is a gross misappropriation of the author (Trento) and his comments by Hankey. It also opened up a can of worms that Hankey, in his desperation to distort for his own purposes, missed.

Trento and Corson Translated for Mr Hankey

Let us now re-examine Hankey’s rather game changing sentence…

“And, says Trento, Dulles asked for an update, and was told that he didn't have sufficient clearance.”

Trento actually wrote the following, and the parallels with Hankey’s absurd fantasies with the Bush/CIA document are all too obvious.

“Bush pressed Corson about whether there had been any out of the ordinary communications preceding the ill-fated assignment. Corson told Bush that Allen Dulles had made attempts to find out what Truscott’s operatives were doing. I explained to him that I thought Dulles was unhappy because he was not told operational details when his agency had to provide logistical support. That seemed to satisfy Bush.”

If PB really did fly to Hong Kong and discuss the operation with Corson, then he made it very clear he wanted to find out about Dulles. Dulles, for his part, purportedly wants to know about what Colonel Lucian Truscott’s operatives were doing. The last part is so straightforward it is mind –boggling that Hankey could have distorted it as he did. Dulles only wants to know what was happening so he could supply the expertise and equipment. There is no indication of Dulles being cut out of the loop, and there is no indication of Bush being in on it. Nor is there any evidence of some banal committee meeting. In fact, it is just the opposite, the “that seemed to satisfy Bush” line indicates Corson had brushed him off. No matter what Hankey has said, he clearly is wrong about this. Just as he distorted the McBride/Hoover/Bush memo. However, as we will see, Trento was conned, as well.

Bill Corson: Angleton’s Rebellious Limited Hangout Truth Teller William Corson is an intriguing figure. While he posed as something of a rebel, I liken him to James Bamford. He is essentially a guy cut loose to be a limited hangout exponent. Corson worked for Dulles, and while maintaining his stance as a CIA outsider, he introduced Trento to James Angleton.

How many CIA rebellious “outsiders” recommend authors to people like Jim Angleton? Corson also cooked up the story to Trento that Dulles petitioned LBJ to be on the Warren Commission (Trento "Secret History of the CIA" pages, 268-269). Although, as Donald Gibson brilliantly surmised in "The Assassinations", the data indicates there would not have been a Warren Commission without a guarantee of Dulles on it. Dulles clearly wasn’t begging anyone.

Corson, for all of his CIA critiques, was a dyed in the wool Angleton supporter. In the 80’s, he co-wrote a book with Robert Crowley, Angleton’s friend at the CIA. This book was called "The New KGB: Engine of Soviet Power". It argued that, contrary to what many thought was going on in the Soviet Union at the time—the ascension of Mikhail Gorbachev—nothing had changed at all, and the KGB was actually running the country. Which, as we know today, is so wrong as to be ludicrous and dangerous. Corson was putting out a propaganda line, with some help from Crowley and Angleton. Still, Hankey somehow cannot see how this throws backward light on the Hong Kong story.

Really, Corson like any limited hangout specialist, was more than prepared to distribute BS and spread a little bit of truth when he could. His angle concerning GHWB being moulded by Dulles, is one of his more credible claims. Although, I have to be careful of cherry picking here. Corson spoke a lot of BS. There is nothing outside of him to indicate any special status bestowed upon GHWB by Dulles. Allen already had his own beautiful children: Dick Helms and Jim Angleton. As for PB, as one will see throughout this article there is little verification, even anecdotal, for the role Corson puts him in. Indeed, the roots of the bogus all-powerful PB angle today seem to stem solely from his direction.

The Dubious Meeting with Prescott in Hong Kong

John Hankey, who never figured this out on his own, is likely to try and say we are defending the Bush family (again). This is stupid. PB was a blue blood of his age. He had no problems with Nazi money, was an ardent supporter of the CIA, and he was a Bonesman, which gave him some useful contacts. He only was never as high up the chain of command as John Hankey fantasizes, not even close. The comment below from Corson is more important and more dubious than anything JH has said about PB and EnLai.

“I was unaware that the senator was at that altitude. I didn’t know anyone outside the White House who knew about these operations. That’s how I learned that he (Prescott) was Ike’s adviser on the most secret covert operations.” (Page 11)

Corson is referring to the Senate Armed Services Committee, which Prescott Bush allegedly sat on. Yet, this committee is not White House brass; it is made up entirely of bipartisan groups of politicians of which even a cursory glance on Google will tell you Bush was not even a chair. If perchance Bush were involved, this hodgepodge group would have been out of their league in dealing with the CIA. Their monitoring of the agency was not even in their mandate for starters.

Thus, I find it hard to believe Corson, a veritable alley cat, would not have known about the NSC (National Security Council) NSC 5412/1 and 2 committees set up in 1955 not to mention the rather more secretive “President's Board of Consultants on Foreign Intelligence Activities.” Nevertheless, this kicked off in early January of 1956 . (John Ranelagh, "The Agency", page 279).

The reprinted version of "The Secret History of the CIA" which came out in 2005 does not mention PB, while GHWB barely gets any coverage. When Trento discusses En-Lai in the former, he uses an interview with Donald Denesyla, "Corsons Armies of Ignorance", and Miles Copeland's "Game of Nations: The Amorality of Power Politics". Corson’s account is the only one that mentions PB. Hence, what I find interesting in Trento’s "Prelude to Terror", which was also released that year, is Trento, who was obviously coy on Corson’s PB story, in "The Secret History of the CIA". He seems to have noted “evil and discredited Bush family” books sold like hot cakes. He simply added the PB story he initially ignored due to its implausibility to make a buck in "Prelude to Terror".

Therefore, I must give credit to Russ Baker here. He too dealt with the Zhou En-Lai angle and got sucked into Corson’s PB line. However, he never really tried definitively pushing the PB insider angle as much as Trento had. Besides, he was nowhere near as off the wall as Hankey was.

A Suspicious Mind is Never Satisfied

Here are just a few things that bug me about Corson’s account.

  • Regardless of their being no evidence anywhere in any Eisenhower biography, or in the Eisenhower Library concerning PB being intelligence adviser to Eisenhower, why not just send Corson home or get someone else to debrief him in Washington?
  • Why didn’t PB simply call up Truscott?
  • Why didn’t he take a stroll and have a cup of tea with Allen?
  • While it is feasible, PB may have snuck into Hong Kong, the idea of a well-known and highly visible 6 foot 4, U.S. Politician, playing a game of golf on a popular course after a very important clandestine event with a known covert operator 6km across from Red China is simply stupid.
  • Bush taking a journey of some 7,892 miles (11,265,408 km) for a ridiculously short chat and a round of golf is worse than anything Hankey could dream up.

These queries further detract from Corson’s dubious tale. Furthermore, if Dulles were not waiting on Truscott for anything. If there were not some mythical committee that somehow held Dulles accountable. If PB were never in this mystical group or partook, in the,NSC1-2 meetings, it stands to reason the people chasing the evidence were not getting anything substantial. Why, because Corson is having a yarn.

Sympathy for the Hankey

I can understand Hankey’s confusion here, Trento, and Baker, the two blokes who have made the most of the tale in recent years, for whatever reason, ignored the bigger picture. Hence, Hankey can legitimately blame people for leading him astray (to a small degree) for once. This is a small consolation for gross ineptitude, and incompetence.

The aforementioned General Lucian Truscott was not part of some Eisenhower group watching over Dulles. Nor was he the loyal General fearing for Eisenhower being embarrassed by a Dulles operation as Corson and Trento claim (Trento, "Secret History of the CIA", page 494). What no one will tell you is Truscott was CIA all the way, and a close associate of Dulles. He was a no bullshit guy, and he wouldn’t have taken any crap from a minor league politician like PB. In his biography, "Dog Face Soldier", the Zhou operation is discussed (Page 281), but there is no mention of Corson’s stroll on the green with Bush. Which Truscott would certainly have heard about; indeed, there is no mention of PB anywhere in the book.

As said, there are no credible sources anywhere for PB’s ascension to Eisenhower’s inner intelligence sanctum. Corson is the alpha and omega on the issue, and as we have seen the man is someone to be extremely cautious of. None of the (or for that matter the worst) studies of the CIA mention PB, nor do any of the intelligence investigations of the 70’s. Moreover, the “worst” point really says something about Trento, and Hankey on this PB angle. How bad does one have to be to get smashed by Phil Nelson? I’ll say something for his horrific "LBJ did it" book (which I have the equally horrific job of reviewing). That fool never went down this road either.

Prouty, another of Hankey’s misquoted and abused heroes, appeared to be interested in, but generally paid PB little notice. This is significant since his insights into Dulles and the CIA, and the Cold War is extensive. Moreover, Prouty’s work on Dulles is amongst his most verifiable, valuable, and accurate work. I’d trust him way before Corson, yet oddly Hankey does not. Yet, if we take Hankey to his most pathetic extreme. Is he now saying people like Prouty are wrong for not buying into the PB kingpin angle?

Don’t worry, he will make up some absurd and lame excuse. Please read on as I have a lovely little angle – ton (pardon the pun) he can use for free.

Forget Hankey, Remember Angleton

Everyone is overlooking the fact that Corson’s book came out in 1977 at the time when the HSCA was convening. It was also some months after Bush retired from as DCI of the CIA. So let us look at what Angleton was doing.

  • Corson hooked Trento up with Angleton. Via this relationship, the story of Hunt in Dealey Plaza trying to prevent a Russian hit was let slip.
  • During the HSCA, Angleton was also fooling around with Epstein pressuring George DeMohrenschildt to go with an oil men plot.
  • Trento, unwittingly or not, created another layer to the Prescott Bush intelligence guru angle by quoting a dubious story by an old mate.

Ironically, while GHWB was CIA, DeM was contacting him to call off Angleton’s harassment campaign. GHWB effectively gave him his burn notice. Yet, being a master plotter and shooter GHWB decided to keep his contact with DeM in the records. Clever guy that Bush isn’t he? Hankey drops the GHWB dart gun in Hoover's office angle to make him an arrested shooter in the depository (amongst other hilarity discussed in Parts 1-3). The aforementioned lack of documentation for Bush being in Eisenhower’s intelligence apparatus will lead some excitable folk like John to say documents have been destroyed. The reality is if an acolyte of Angleton like Corson is pimping Bush with next to no evidence, he is clearly not doing it for the cause of truth.

However, JH will likely now seize the opportunity to leap in, as there is an angle here. Furthermore, seeing as JH likes debating inanimate recordings and putting words in people’s mouths they never said, I have taken it upon myself to have this little debate. Unlike JH, I have even given him the last word.

Seamus Coogan’s point of view concerning Angleton, Corson and PB.

“Angleton was probably making a veiled threat to Bush, via this phoney story to enforce on GHWB how far back his ties to the agency really went. Bush was moving into the political sphere and in years would be the vice President. His CIA role would always bug him. Angelton knew all the scabs to pick. Yet, it was not just GHWB (who obviously feared Angleton immensely, by the way) Angleton targeted. His limited hangout stooges took punts right across the bow of U.S politics and intelligence. Not all of his targets necessarily had anything to do with JFK. Angleton, was involved in and knew of numerous criminal activities across the gamut of Washington and beyond.”

John Hankey’s take on Angleton, Corson and PB

“Angleton, like Hoover, also knew those Bush scumbags killed Kennedy. So what does he do? He tells Corson; that’s he does. And by doing that he’s saying to Bush “I know you killed JFK you little bastard. And I know your Nazi Dad was really running the CIA. Why? Because I was working for Dulles, and we all knew about PB’s secret security group he ran for Eisenhower.”

Were this one of his God-awful videos, one can imagine the shooting script. Cue: Cheap, shitty, Flash animations of Angleton with a pythonesque mouth jabbering away. Fade in picture of Bush family with Hitler moustaches, swastika,’s holding poorly photo shopped dildo’s in their hands. I shall leave it up to you the reader to decide who is in charge of the facts.

A Little Something Extra

Here is part of Jim’s reply to JH, which also adds another nail in his arguments’ coffin. Whichever shape it may be. It is from their exchange at Murder Solved Forum:

“As Seamus showed in his essay, there is no mention of this Bush for Dulles substitution in either of the two standard reference books on the CIA. So what does Hankey now do? He says that Prescott Bush was on a committee of inquiry in the Chou En Lai assassination affair. Dulles asked him for the status of the inquiry and Prescott declined to tell him. Therefore, Prescott was really the power behind Dulles at CIA. This is a totally illogical deduction. Every so often, there is an internal inquiry at CIA. During the Dulles years, there were, for example, the Bruce-Lovett report and the Lyman Kirkpatrick report on the Bay of Pigs. If Dulles has asked David Bruce, Robert Lovett or Kirkpatrick to divulge anything from their reports before it was done, and they had refused, would that mean that these three men were really in charge at CIA and not Allen Dulles? Of course not. The very question seems ridiculous. But these are the illogical lengths that Hankey will go to in twisting evidence to buttress his baseless theory.”


Part 1

Part 2

Part 3


"The Dark Legacy of John Hankey"

"Onwards and Downwards with John Hankey"

Hankey/DiEugenio Debate Murder Solved

DiEugenio's Review Update of "Dark Legacy"

Coogan Reply to Fetzer at Deep Politics Forum

Last modified on Saturday, 22 October 2016 18:29
Seamus Coogan

Seamus Coogan is one of a number of JFK assassination researchers hailing from New Zealand and Australia.  He has devoted considerable effort to ferreting out and exposing unfounded and sensationalistic or far-fetched conspiratorial hypotheses.  His most notable contributions include those on John Hankey's JFK II, on Alex Jones, and on the Majestic Papers.  He  has also reviewed numerous books for this site.

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