H. P. Albarelli Jr., is a writer and investigative journalist who has written among others, the highly praised book, A Terrible Mistake: The Murder of Frank Olson and the CIA's Secret Cold War Experiments. There, he examined the involvement of CIA, FBI and Federal Bureau of Narcotics agents in the CIA mind control experiments between the 50s and 70s, widely known as the MK/ULTRA program.
With that in mind, I was looking forward to reading his new book, A Secret Order: Investigating the High Strangeness and Synchronicity in the JFK Assassination. The description offered on the book's back cover promises to reveal "amazingly fresh insights into alleged assassin Lee Harvey Oswald and his much ignored sojourn in New York City, as well as unique and mesmerizing portraits of many of the overlooked characters surrounding the assassination ... revelations about Lee Harvey Oswald's time in Mexico City are intriguing and further explain what actually occurred there. Also revelatory is the author's astounding information on the nexus between behavior modification and assassinations.
Michael Petro's Foreword provides us with a clue as to what to expect from this book. "A Secret Order ... is an exploration of the many curious scraps of information the author compiled while building his compelling case against our Government in the murder of its own (A Terrible Mistake: The Murder of Frank Olson and the CIA's Secret Cold War Experiments) ... many of the characters involved in Olson's murder had shockingly close connections with the events of November 22, 1963 (p. 2). I had a feeling that the MK/ULTRA nexus would be a recurrent theme of this book. And I was right.
The book consists of eleven chapters in the form of essays that deal with topics that are not necessarily connected to each other. Chapter one tries to shed light into the time that Oswald spent in NY City as a kid along with his mother. Chapter two examines the case of Rose Cheramie, who had fore knowledge of the assassination. Chapter three tells the strange encounter of Adele Edisen with a Doctor named Jose Rivera who seemed to have an uncanny knowledge about Lee Harvey Oswald and the assassination long before it happened. Chapter four narrates the strange tale of an obscure character that is hardly mentioned when discussing the assassination, Dimitre Dimitrov, a Bulgarian who claimed to know who had ordered and committed the assassination. Chapter five deals with Oswald's return home from the USSR and another Bulgarian, Spas Raikin, who assisted Oswald and his wife. Chapter six moves forward to a different theme, the life and times of the infamous CIA officer, David Sanchez Morales. Chapter seven presents the conviction of a certain Dale E. Basye that Oswald was a psychologically disturbed man who had been placed under hypnotic control by Russian intelligence. Chapter eight examines Oswald's connections with Cuba and the Fair Play for Cuba Committee (FPCC), the strange multiple Oswald sightings and the life of Thomas Eli Davis III, a soldier of fortune that have used the alias "Oswald." Chapter nine refers to the bizarre diary of Eric Ritzek, a hypnotist who allegedly controlled and directed Oswald to murder John Kennedy. Chapter ten examines the story of Charles Thomas, a State Department employee who investigated the Oswald visit in Mexico and Elena Garro's allegations regarding the Duran party and Oswald's presence in that party. Finally, Chapter eleven attempts to shed light to the mysterious life of the beautiful June Cobb, a CIA asset, and her connection to Oswald and the JFK assassination. This last chapter ends with the story of an American bullfighter in Mexico, who is convinced that he met Oswald there in late September 1963. The bullfighter is Robert Buick and the story is not told completely in the first volume. The author of the book informs us that its conclusion will be revealed in more detail in Volume Two of this book. Although it's hard to believe that Albarelli does not know that Buick has a web site and has also written a book on the subject.
I understand that the book was too long. After their first experience with Albarelli, the publishers have decided to split this one into two volumes to keep each volume below five hundred pages. I believe they made a mistake. They have not concluded the Mexico incident in the first volume, so we'll have to wait for volume Two. It would have been better if they had dealt completely with the Mexico incident in either the first or the second volume. It is difficult to judge its author's views about the alleged Oswald visit to Mexico if they are not presented on their totality. Volume Two promises more revelations about George Hunter White, the FBN and CIA officer who was involved in MK/ULTRA and the CIA killer with the code name QJ/WIN.
Volume I, ends with a list of end notes and this is where I will have to disagree with both the author and the publisher regarding their format. Strangely enough, the notes are not numbered, so it is very difficult to follow them. One has to go back in the respective chapter and try to read it carefully to find out what a particular note is referring to. The process is tiresome and confusing, and after a while I gave up trying to match a note to the main body of the book. I really cannot understand why an experienced writer like Albarelli did not go the extra length to number his notes.
Looking through the chapter six notes, one cannot fail to meet the name of Gerry Patrick Hemming. One could also justifiably ask why Albarelli would trust Hemming for anything valuable, since he was a man who had a reputation as a disinformation agent. And this was from the respected and incorruptible Gaeton Fonzi. It is a mistake that other authors have made in the past, most notably Noel Twyman.
Having discussed in summary the contents of the book it is time to proceed now to analyze the main body of the book.
II. MK/ULTRA and the JFK Assassination
Several authors have discussed the fact that, in the early fifties, Lee and his mother Marguerite visited New York City and stayed awhile with Lee's stepbrother John Pic e.g. Jim DiEugenio, John Armstrong. Well Albarelli does this too. Except he very quickly introduces a topic they did not. It's a leftover from his last 900 page book: Project MK/Ultra. Marguerite Oswald worked at Lerners Dress Shop at 45 East and 42nd Street. Albarelli notes that it is interesting that Albertine Hunter – George Hunter's wife – shopped at Lerners and had friends there. Then Marguerite left Lerners and "went to work for Martin's Department store in Brooklyn, a very short walk from where Albertine worked. Again we find that Albertine had close friends who worked at Martin's." (p. 14-15). It is my understanding that Albarelli continuous his efforts to somehow implicate Oswald with George Hunter White and the MK/ULTRA program.
Albarelli then moves on to examine another familiar topic: Oswald's truancy problem at school in New York City. Young Oswald did not seem to enjoy school in the Big Apple and he missed 75 days in a 12 month period. As a result Oswald was sent to Youth House in Manhattan where he was placed under psychiatric observation for three weeks, from April 16 to May 7, 1953 (p.17). Two of the psychiatrists that examined Oswald were Dr. Renatus Hartogs and Dr. Milton Kurian. John Armstrong wrote in his book Harvey and Lee that each doctor gave a different description of young Oswald. And he also concluded that there were two Oswald who lived parallel at the same time: one, Lee Oswald, an American and Harvey Oswald of Hungarian descent.
Dr. Kurian concluded that "the youngster was withdrawn from the real world and responded to outside pressures to a degree necessary to avoid disturbance of his residence in a fantasy world. Kurian would later say that he felt Oswald was "mentally ill" and should have been hospitalized in a facility for children." (p. 18-19).
Dr. Renatus Hartogs told the court after examining Oswald that he "has superior mental resources and functions only slightly below his capacity level in spite of chronic truancy from school ... no findings of neurological impairment or psychotic mental changes could be made" and he recommended that the boy needed a child guidance clinic to treat his psychological disturbances due to poor family life. (p. 21). However the same doctor changed his diagnosis in front of the Warren Commission and he said that "he found him to have definite traits of dangerousness. In other words, this child had a potential for explosive, aggressive, assaultive acting out" (p. 20-21).
It is fairly clear that both doctors were instructed by the FBI to change their diagnosis to make it seem that Oswald was falling within the profile of the lone nut assassin. The question that is then raised is: Why did the two doctors, who, according to the author had probable MK/ULTRA connections, did not conclude in the first place that Oswald was a dangerous psychotic. Why is there the suggestion that others had to intervene after the JFK assassination to make them change their statements about Oswald's mental condition? Albarelli then goes into details about Dr. Hartogs and his dispute with a former patient of his, Julie Roy who claimed that the good doctor had mentally and physically abused her. Again, this was written about back in 1975 in Time. Then a book was published in 1977 called Betrayal after Roy successfully sued Hartogs. No matter how interesting this may be to someone who is not aware of it, I cannot see it as being very relevant to the JFK assassination.
Does Albarelli believe that Oswald was a victim of the MK/ULTRA experiments that eventually turned him into an assassin who killed President Kennedy? He notes that he is not easily given to wild speculation and conspiracy theories. And to begin with, it was not his intention to conclude the above scenario. However, after learning that the CIA and the U.S. Army had conducted behavioral modification experiments on children, he no longer considers such speculation to be outside the realm of possibility. (pgs. 35-36). He states that "While there remains little direct evidence that Oswald was some sort of programmed assassin or covert operative, there certainly are enough circumstantial facts that nudge this possibility into areas for serious consideration" (p. 36).
I would agree with him that he was not a programmed assassin, although if one accepts John Armstrong's thesis about the existence of two Oswald, then we can conclude that Lee was a possible assassin and Harvey the patsy. I certainly would not agree with him that there is not evidence that Oswald was a covert operative. If one reads John Newman's Oswald and the CIA, DiEugenio's second edition of Destiny Betrayed and The Assassinations. George Michael Evica's A Certain Arrogance, Peter Scott's Deep Politics I and II, and Bill Simpich's essays "The Twelve Who Made the Oswald Legend", among other respected authors, most would definitely conclude that Oswald was very likely a CIA agent provocateur and/or informant of the FBI. It was not MK/ULTRA or George Hunter White that sent Oswald to Soviet Union. White did not send him into New Orleans and Mexico, nor did he place him in the TSBD. But we have plenty of evidence that CIA officials and assets like E.H. Hunt, David Phillips, James Angleton and J. Walton Moore were those who orchestrated Oswald's intelligence moves and then helped place him above the President's route with the help of Ruth Paine. For instance, we know that Phillips was trying to infiltrate the Fair Play for Cuba Committee and planning operations against the organization since 1961. And we now know that Angleton, Phillips and Anne Goodpasture helped organize the Mexico City charade. Not the MK/ULTRA gang.
The author provides the useful information that Atsugi in Japan was one of two U.S. bases abroad at which the CIA kept LSD supplies. Even if Oswald came in contact in some way with the MK/ULTRA program, we do not now know the how and why of it. Or how it figures in the JFK murder. This writer happens to think that Oswald was selected as a youth to participate in the false defectors program to the USSR, and he was prepared for such task linguistically. Could he have been given LSD to train him to get used to interrogation by the Soviets if get caught or to conceal his cover? Maybe, maybe not. But the evidence adduced today strongly indicates that Oswald was some kind of covert operative who was then framed as a patsy, rather than being a Manchurian candidate a la Sirhan Bishara Sirhan.
III. Oswald the Manchurian Candidate?
But in spite of the above, a question that is repeatedly asked through the book is whether Lee Harvey Oswald was a Manchurian Candidate. For those unfamiliar with the term, Albarelli provides the answer in Chapter One: " ... The Manchurian Candidate – published in 1959 by author Richard Condon, and released as a major feature film in 1962, during the Cuban Missile Crisis ... Sergeant Shaw is an unwitting sleeper agent and hypnosis induced assassin who had been brainwashed by the communists during the Korean War to murder the U.S. President ... Buried deep within the consciousness of Sergeant Raymond Shaw is the mechanism of an assassin – a time bomb ticking towards explosion, controlled by the delicate skill of its communist masters ... Raymond has been successfully brainwashed. His subconscious mind is controlled by a man in Red China who has primed him to become a deadly instrument of destruction." (pgs. 62-63).
Well, Albarelli sees an interesting connection between Oswald and the fictional character of Raymond Shaw. When Oswald was in Russia he used to attend his favorite Tchaikovsky opera, titled The Queen of Spades. In fact, Oswald on his 22nd birthday – while in the Soviet Union – spent that day alone at the opera watching his favorite it. The opera theme is about a man who wanted to perform a heroic act, so to impress a woman that did not respond to his love. Oswald wrote on his diary "I am ready right now to perform a heroic deed of unprecedented prowess for your sake" (p. 62). Similarly, Raymond Shaw was triggered by a playing card, the Queen of Diamonds which energized his assassin persona to take over him.
Is this evidence that Oswald was triggered by this particular opera to become an assassin to win a woman's heart? Of course not, this relation between fiction and life is simplistic. I cannot see a connection. Especially if one thinks as most of us do that Oswald the defector never fired a shot at anyone the day of the Kennedy assassination.
In Chapter Seven, the relationship between Oswald and a Manchurian Candidate is examined even further thanks to the untimely wisdom of Dale E. Basye. This is an obscure character that Albarelli stumbled upon by accident. A friend of his suggested to him that he should buy children books for his grandson Dylan, written by someone that Abarelli was not familiar with. The author was named, Dale E. Basye Jr. The same day Albarelli was shocked to see the same name in an FBI document about Oswald, dated 12/24/1963. Later he realized that this man must have been the father of the book writer.
Mr. Basye, a newsman, was convinced that "Lee Harvey Oswald was possibly a psychologically disturbed man who had been placed under hypnotic control by Russian intelligence experts" (p. 270). Basye asked a series of questions about Oswald as a programmed assassin that parallel the behavioral pattern of Raymond Shaw, in the novel and movie, The Manchurian Candidate. Basye asks whether Oswald was brainwashed by the Soviets, if he had been given a post-hypnotic suggestion to shoot the President that will be triggered by Soviet agents acting undercover in the U.S. and whether Oswald was under hypnosis when he shot the President.
Basye argued that Oswald was a perfect Manchurian Candidate since he had defected to USSR, had renounced his citizenship and had a deep hatred for authority. Basye also had knowledge of Oswald's youth in New York City where he had demonstrated that he was "a psychologically disturbed young man, an ideal subject for mind control" (p. 271).
Basye believed that Oswald did not have an escape plan and was destined to die resisting arrest as his Russians controllers had planned so he would not be captured alive and subjected to psychological tests. If the gun that Oswald drew inside the theater has not misfired, then the policemen would have killed him on sight. He even theorized that when Oswald shouted "it's all over", well it was a post-hypnotic suggestion to make him forget his crimes. That was the reason he denied that he had shot the President and a policeman. And since Oswald was in Mexico in September it was possible that the hypnotic suggestion was given to him when visited the Cuban embassy (?)
Basye speculated that the Russians had planned to kill JFK because they thought that the next President would oppose the Soviets less, or the assassination would become a warning that the Russians can murder any U.S. President. Finally he asks if both JFK and LBJ were targeted to paralyze the U.S. before the Russians attacked. And since LBJ and Connally looked similar Oswald made a mistake and shot Connally.
He questions why the Russians permitted Oswald to work in a Soviet factory, marry a Russian girl and allow him to take her with him back to U.S. if he was an American agent? Was Marina the person who was to trigger the post-hypnotic suggestion?
Basye sent a summary of his questions to a psychiatrist, Dr. Erickson, to advise him if Oswald could have been a Manchurian Candidate; and if drugs could have been used to induce a hypnotic state. Dr. Erickson wrote back to Basye saying that he as an expert in hypnosis, disagreed completely with his theory and that The Manchurian Candidate, both the book and movie were complete nonsense.
Albarelli points out that Dr. Erickson forgot to mention in his reply that he was a long-time CIA consultant on hypnosis, and that the agency was trying hard to create Manchurian Candidates based on hypnosis experiments. Dr. Erickson had experimented in hypnosis back in 1939, long before he worked with the CIA. In other words Dr. Erickson was lying to Basye when he assured him that mind control, hypnosis induced assassins and Manchurian Candidates were fiction.
If all that rather desultory stuff – the Russians killed Kennedy? – isn't enough for you, the search for Oswald as a Manchurian Candidate continues on in Chapter Nine. Here we are treated to the bizarre diary of Eric Ritzek, a self-proclaimed great hypnotist, who called himself "the master craftsman." The diary was found in August of 1964, at the ticket counter of the Continental Trailways bus station in LA. The FBI and the CIA received copies of this strange diary. The CIA labeled the diary: "Alleged Diary of ERIC RITZEK reflecting he caused Lee Harvey Oswald to Commit Assassination and Oswald's Subsequent Murder by Jack L. Ruby by Hypnosis" (p. 327).
According to the diary, Eric Ritzek and his friend Charles (surname unknown), were studying political science and human psychology at a college in some undisclosed foreign country. An FBI memorandum noted that "As of September 10, 1963, the alleged diary indicates that Eric Ritzek and Charles obtained visas to the United States and Mexico. An entry on September 11, 1963, indicated that the goal of Eric Ritzek and Charles was to kill President Kennedy" (p. 328).
Eric claimed that Charles received money from someone in Texas but Charles refused to name that person. He continued that they traveled to New Orleans to meet a Lee Harvey Oswald and that they worked with him for a week. On September 26, he claimed they were on a bus to Mexico and that Oswald was on the very same bus. On September 29 he described Oswald: "I find Lee Harvey Oswald an intelligent person. Surely, hateful and at odds with the Universe ... his thoughts are confused. I will put them in order to my satisfaction. The American President will die in Dallas, Texas ... he has no choice, I am his master, the skilled craftsman ... a glorious Frankenstein monster I have created" (p. 329-330).
"The Master Craftsman" and Charles returned to the U.S.A. via Laredo by bus. And the story is that they received $100,000 in cash by the same unnamed benefactor. On November 22nd he writes that they managed to secure a picnic lunch box from their hotel and pretended to eat lunch in the park, sitting in a prearranged vantage point.
Eric finally described the assassination of President Kennedy by Oswald. He worries because Oswald was captured alive, something that was not supposed to happen. So, quite naturally, for that reason they picked a random club owner who happened to be Jack Ruby and they hypnotized him to kill Oswald.
Albarelli concludes that Ritzek's diary is the product of a confused and bizarre mind and wonders why it was written. One of the copies of the diary that Albarrelli obtained had a hand written note on its second page that read: "Ritzek-Albert Schweitzer College, Switzerland, enrolled/files" (p. 328). Albarrelli notes that he does not want to cloud or complicate matters by pointing this reference to the Albert Schweitzer College. However any serious student of the JFK assassination will be alarmed by the very name of the college, since it was the college that Oswald applied on March 1959 to enroll and attend the college's third term, from April 12 to June 27, 1960. Oswald never appeared at the college and instead traveled to Moscow to defect and tried to denounce his American citizenship. (A Certain Arrogance, Evica, Essay One). Oswald's mother told the FBI that, while her son was en route to Switzerland, he had his birth certificate with him. Oswald was temporarily missing according to her, and FBI Director Hoover wrote to the State Department that "an impostor might be using Oswald's birth certificate."
We do not have proof that Ritzek and Charles were studying at the Albert Schweitzer College, but it is possible, since they were attending a college in a foreign country, and the name of that particular college was written on the second page of a copy of the diary. If not, then why was the above mentioned college written on the diary?
The problem is: Where is the evidence, let alone proof, that any of this happened? Namely that the financial transaction was genuine, that Oswald was hypnotized, and that Ruby was hypnotized then to kill Oswald. And further that Ritzek was actually aware of the plot as it occurred?
Most researchers would agree that James Jesus Angleton, the CIA's Counter-Intelligence Chief was a great promoter of what is termed, Phase I stories, namely that the Soviets had kill President Kennedy. Most of them will also agree that Angleton was involved in on the conspiracy to kill JFK, as John Newman and Lisa Pease have demonstrated. Angleton was the man who invented the term a "Wilderness of Mirrors" in the spy operations. Meaning that anything is possible but nothing is certain. Conflicting evidence creates a cognitive dissonance that confuses and frustrates researchers, until they are forced to give up. After reading all of this, I am of the opinion that Oswald's portrayal as a Manchurian Candidate, Basye's conviction that Oswald was controlled by Soviet agents and the bizarre diary of Eric Ritzek were part of a Wilderness of Mirrors operation to impose cognitive dissonance and obfuscate the truth. Eric Ritzek was labeling himself as a master craftsman, a title that is usually referring to Masons. Could it be possible that the writer of the diary was implying that Masons have committed the murder and this was another try to falsely sponsor Masonry in order to confuse matters and create false leads?
In other words, I cannot see how the Manchurian Candidate angle and mind programmed assassins had anything to do with the JFK assassination. And the best I can say, giving the author every benefit of every doubt, is that their role has been exaggerated with no real proof of involvement in the assassination for the purpose of confusing matters even more.
IV. Oswald, Cuba & Mexico
Oswald's possible connection to Cuba is first documented by examining the four letters sent to Dallas from Cuba by Cuban nationals with names Pedro Charles, Mario del Rosario Molina and Miguel Galban Lopez. All letters were written to show that the Cubans were conspiring with Oswald prior to the assassination to kill the American President. All four letters were dismissed by Hoover because "they were prepared on the same typewriter ... and all four letters represent some type of hoax, possibly on the part of some Anti-Castro group seeking to discredit the Cuban Government" (p. 292). Albarelli concludes that although the letters were dismissed, their existence fueled many disputes between the members of the Warren Commission, as to whether Oswald had any ties to Cuba and if he had traveled there.
A deeper and more detailed analysis of the letters can be found on Fabian Escalante's book JFK: The Cuba Files and specifically the chapter titled "Oswald and the Cuban Secret Service" (pgs. 134-145). Escalante was the former head of Cuban counterintelligence and believed that the letters constituted "a crude attempt to blame Castro." Escalante continues that "If Oswald had managed to travel to Cuba, then the fabricated letters might have become concrete evidence ... The letters are irrefutable evidence of a plan of incrimination prior to the crime ... the conspirators hoped to provoke a response against Cuba ... the letters were fabricated before the assassination occurred and by somebody who was aware of the development of the plot, who could ensure that they arrived at the opportune moment and who had a clandestine base in Cuba from which to undertake action."
These letters were also part of the phase I stories that had the purpose to implicate Cuba and Castro in the assassination and push the U.S. government to invade Cuba as a retaliation. These would be cancelled by the Phase II stories of the lone nut.
There were CIA reports in June 1964 warning that Lee Harvey Oswald was seen in Tangier, Morocco during 1962 and 1963. A soldier of fortune and gunrunner by the name Thomas Eli Davis III was connected to Oswald, when the CIA reported that "Davis often used the alias "Oswald," and was a gunrunner who reportedly had close ties to the infamous CIA assassin QJ/WIN" (p. 307-308). On December 9, 1963 the U.S. Consulate in Tangiers sent a priority cable to Dean Rusk, the CIA and ONI regarding Thomas Eli Davis who was arrested a day before trying to sell two Walter pistols and having in his possession an unsigned letter in his handwriting referring to "Oswald" and the JFK assassination. According to Seth Kantor, "Thomas Davis was released from his Tangier jail cell through the intervention and assistance of the mysterious CIA contract assassin known only by his Agency cryptonym QJ/WIN. A U.S. State Department declassified letter stated that the draft letter referred only to "Oswald" and to Lee Harvey Oswald. The December 30, 1963 State Department cable informed that the Davis letter contained a short sentence that read "I've seen Oswald" and the phrase, this the first Sunday AK (after Kennedy). According to the cable "Oswald" was Victor Oswald, a Swiss born international weapons trafficker (p. 318).
The most important information about Davis is, according to his wife, he was using the alias "Oswald" and he was involved with Jack Ruby in gunrunning activities. It is of no surprise when a panicked Ruby in jail said "They are going to find about Cuba, the guns, New Orleans and everything." It is interesting to note that Oswald had a mysterious listing in his address book, that of "1318½ Garfield, Norman Oklahoma." Strangely enough, two infamous characters also lived briefly in Norman, Oklahoma before the JFK assassination, Thomas Davis and Loran Hall. People who knew Davis said that he and Hall were conducting gunrunning operations with Jack Ruby in 1962-1963 (pgs. 87-88). Another person who was reportedly seen at that address was an African-American with reddish hair. Anyone who is familiar with the Mexico incident will know that Alvarado saw a similar featured person outside the Cuban embassy paying Oswald $6,500 to kill Kennedy. According to Albarelli, another person involved in the JFK case that lived at that address was Paul Gregory, son of Peter Gregory. Peter was a Russian petroleum engineer who taught Russian and who was once approached by Oswald for assistance in obtaining employment. Paul Gregory had taken Russian lessons from Marina Oswald. What Albarelli does not include in his book is that Peter Gregory and Ilya Mamantov were chosen to translate Marina's testimony about her husband's rifle. Gregory distorted Marina's answers that her husband owned a dark rifle, something she never said. Why was this detail significant? Because after the assassination there were allegations that JFK was killed by a dark rifle which Oswald had used earlier in the Soviet Union. All this can be found in Peter Dale Scott's book Deep Politics I, chapter 17, p. 267-272)."
Another interesting fact is that Davis knew Jean Pierre Laffite who, according to Albarelli's previous book, was one of Frank Olson's killers. Laffite also allegedly worked for Clay Shaw in the Trade Mart. Not surprisingly, the MK/ULTRA theme is appearing again since Albarelli connects Davis to the program through his psychiatric treatment in facilities related to MK/ULTRA. One has to read Philip Melanson's article on the Third Decade, titled Dallas Mosaic: The Cops, the Cubans and the Company to find an Oklahoma connection. On pages 8-9 Melanson says that the leader of the Dallas Alpha-66 branch was one Manuel Rodriguez who was known to be "violently anti-President Kennedy" ... he also bore a strong resemblance to Lee Harvey Oswald ... After the assassination the FBI received a report that "Oswald" had been in Oklahoma on November 17th. Upon investigation, the Bureau discovered that the Oklahoma witnesses had seen Rodriguez." Melanson does not name which city in Oklahoma "Oswald" visited, but it shows that the multiple sightings of Oswald were not a definitive proof that he has been where they claimed they had seen him.
Albarelli is trying to shed light to Oswald's visit to Mexico by examining 1.) Elena Garro's allegations, a mysterious woman 2.) CIA asset June Cobb and 3.) Robert Buick, an American bullfighter, who lived in Mexico City during 1963.
This is where I started to have serious objections to Albarelli's work. Regarding the presence of Oswald in Mexico, he opens Chapter 10 with a small introduction (p. 341) where he states his belief that Oswald traveled to Mexico City and stayed there for 5 days. He acknowledges that many conspiracy theorists believe that Oswald was never in Mexico City. I know many good researchers who will be offended by the demeaning term "conspiracy theorist", and do not consider themselves to be as such. I am surprised that Albarelli uses the above term to label other researchers who have done much more work on this case and Mexico City than he has. It was arrogant and disrespectful to do so. Especially since elsewhere Albarelli has said he "detests" infighting among authors. But somehow this kind of thing by him is OK?
Anyway, Albarelli is absolutely certain that Oswald was in Mexico. He even presents the Elena Garro story as a proof to further support his view. He states "Additionally, those writers who discount, or write off, the claims of Elena Garro are simply ill-informed, meaning they have not examined the full record, as well as all its complexities, or perhaps they hold biased agendas of their own" (p. 341). Really? That is a bold statement since respectful writers like John Newman, Peter Scott and John Armstrong would not fit the category of the ill-informed. Further, was Eddie Lopez, the man who wrote the incredible Mexico City report ill-informed also? In an interview with Jim DiEugenio at his home in Rochester, New York, Lopez told Jim that he thought he spent too much time tracking down Elena Garro's stories and if he had to do it again, he would not have spent nearly that much time. We will presently see why. Suffice it to say, to affirm that Oswald was definitely in Mexico City one would need a chart balancing all the evidence he was there, against all the evidence he was not. As we shall see, most researchers would state that Buick and Garro don't really count for much in the balancing act.
Chapter 10 examines the life and death of Charles Thomas, a State Department employee who wrote to the U.S. Secretary of State William Rogers on July 25, 1969 regarding the allegations of Elena Garro Paz, a famous Mexican novelist, that she had attended a party at the house of Ruben and Silvia Duran where she met Lee Harvey Oswald. According to Garro, present at the party were also Cuban Consul Azcue and a Latin American Negro man with red hair. She also stated that Oswald was accompanied by two American beatnik-looking boys. We all know who Silvia Duran was, a secretary at the Cuban Consulate that came in contact with Oswald. After the assassination, she was arrested by the Mexican Intelligence Service, DFS who tortured her to admit that she have met Oswald and they were both part of a communist conspiracy to kill the American President. Well, Garro later alleged that Silvia Duran was Oswald's mistress while he was in Mexico. Albarelli seems to believe her story that she met Oswald, although he knows that both Garro and Charles Thomas worked for the CIA.
John Newman in his book Oswald and the CIA gives a detailed analysis of the Garro allegations and he notes that on October 5, 1964, eleven days after the publication of the Warren Commission Report, a CIA memo brought attention to the Elena Garro allegations. The Lopez report identified June Cobb as the author of the October 5 memo. She was a CIA asset. Jefferson Morley discusses Cobb in his book Our Man in Mexico, saying that she was one of David Phillips' most valuable assets in Mexico City in 1963, who specialized in penetrating the FPCC by romancing its leaders.
Thomas was not only working for the Branch 4 of the Covert Action Staff, but his previous assignment had been to Haiti, at the same time that George DeMohrenschildt was also there. In the fall of 1969, Thomas became involved in DeMohrenschildt's business deals with the Haitian government. Thomas was also one of the key players in 1965 to spread the false story that Silvia Duran and Oswald had a sexual affair. Newman concluded that the sex story may have been invented after the Warren Commission investigation to falsely implicate the Cuban government in the Kennedy assassination.
Peter Scott drew attention to the fact that Elena Garro's story coincided with that of Alvarado who saw Oswald taking money from a Negro with red hair in the Cuban embassy. Remember that she also saw a Negro with red hair at the twist party with Oswald. Scott concluded that "Garro's anti-communist story, soon modified, was part of a larger phase I assassination scenario that also incriminated Silvia Duran and Eusebio Azcue..." All phase I scenarios had the purpose of implicating the Cuban government in the assassination of Kennedy. I therefore am of the belief that that Elena Garro's allegations cannot be taken at face value and certainly do not prove that Oswald was in Mexico as Albarelli want us to believe. To support his case he then presents the story of Robert Buick, the bullfighter who claimed that he met Lee Harvey Oswald in late September of 1963. Buick was in hotel Luma when a young American who introduced himself as Alek Hidell asked if he was a bullfighter and how he could join the bullfighting business.
Hidell told Buick that he wanted to return to Russia via Cuba. The conversation soon turned over to Cuba and Castro. Hidell accused Kennedy of being responsible for Cuba's problem since the Bay of Pigs invasion was no friendly gesture toward Cuba and Castro. Hidell announced to Buick that Kennedy would pay for this and the machinery was in motion to kill Kennedy. Hidell explained to him that revolutions do not solve problems and you had to remove the head of a state by assassination and replace him with someone else. On the day of the assassination, Buick recognized Hidell as the alleged assassin of President Kennedy and is convinced that the man pretending to be Hidell was Lee Harvey Oswald. Sadly enough, the book ends at this point and Albarelli promises to reveal the rest of Buick's story in volume II.
The Buick story is not new, as Dick Russell first examined his tale in his book The Man Who Knew Too Much. Albarelli writes that "Several prominent conspiracy theorists, best exampled most recently by attorney Mark Lane, staunchly maintain that Oswald was never in Mexico, despite overwhelming evidence that he was there for at least three visits. Lane, of course, is wrong, as any serious student of the assassination knows. Acting to cement his false claims the account of Robert Clayton Buick, who, as chance would have it, met Lee Harvey Oswald in Mexico City in late September 1963, and a note typed by June Cobb in October 1963 (the note bears no specific day-date) and is addressed to "DP". The note reads: "The day after LO in Comercio, encountered Buick, The American bullfighter, at H. Luma. Warren (Broglie) says Buick is drawing attention there" (p. 418-419).
This is the second time that Albarelli insults the assassination researchers as "Conspiracy Theorists." He even makes the statement that "any serious assassination researchers know that Oswald was definitely in Mexico." Is that a fact? I know many researchers who will disagree with him. Many serious researchers believe that Oswald probably never visited Mexico City. The evidence is ambiguous at best. You could argue both ways but there is no proof to say that he was there. There are no photos of him there, an imposter pretending to be him talked and visited the Cuban and Russian embassies, FBI agents who heard the CIA tapes after the assassination were of the opinion that the voice was not that of Oswald. There were no credible records of his travel in any bus company or the customs offices. Much later suspect evidence surfaced to prove that he was in Mexico, via characters like Ruth Paine and Priscilla Johnson. If one reads the Lopez Report you cannot find any certain evidence to prove that he was there. And further, Azcue, the man Garro testified about produced photos to CBS in the seventies depicting an imposter as Oswald in the Cuban consulate. Should we believe June Cobb, David Phillips's asset that she saw Oswald with Buick? Why? Especially when there is evidence that it was Phillips who was involved in the arrest of Duran. (See Harvey and Lee by John Armstrong, p. 675)
Should we take Buick's story as an absolute truth that Oswald was in Mexico? Of course not. Could it be possible that Buick saw some Oswald imposter or Lee the other Oswald as Armstrong believes? Was this another phase I story to saw that the Cubans were controlling Oswald in order to put the blame for the assassination on Castro? Probably not even that once one visits Buick's web page. When one reads his page, the reader will see that Buick is one of those characters who can tell you the entire story of the JFK assassination. Replete with the names of John Roselli – who happened to confess to him in 1971. And further, he knows who the guy on the grassy knoll was who killed President Kennedy. It was a guy he talked to all the time named Jimmy Sutton. Go ahead and cringe. Because, reputedly, Sutton is an alias for James Files. But Buick still isn't done. He knows how many members of the hit team there were and how many shots were fired. And Mac Wallace was firing from the Book Depository. Buick says he knows more than anyone about what happened in Dallas that day. Talk about a conspiracy theorist. Did Albarelli ask him how John Roselli got mixed up with LBJ? (Click here.) As noted, to affirm that Oswald was definitely in Mexico City one would need a chart balancing all the evidence he was there, against all the evidence he was not. Most serious writers would state that Buick and Garro Paz don't really count for much of anything in the balancing act.
To be kind, Albarelli's examination of Oswald's presence in Mexico City lacks depth, substance and scope. Further, it relies upon some rather questionable sources. There are several other books out there that explain the Mexico City incident much better than the author does. Albarelli does not seem to have consulted them.
V. Knowledge of the Assassination
The chapters that deal with Rose Cheramie and Adele Edisen are two of the more interesting chapters in the book. The Cheramie story is well known and I'll return to it later. On the other hand, Adele Edisen's story is not widely known and this is the first time that it is presented in a book. Some researchers are aware of her story through personal interaction with Adele on the Deep Politics Forum, where she is a member. I have exchanged posts with her on that forum and I can say that Adele is sincere, and intelligent with a very good knowledge of the JFK assassination. Edisen's story is about her contact with a U.S. Army doctor, Jose Rivera who knew of Oswald and said to her strange things about him that scared her. Some of his remarks were "What will Jackie do when her husband dies?" and if she knew a lawyer by the name of John Abt, and he asked her if she knew Oswald. Dr. Rivera gave her Oswald's number and told her to call him and "Tell him to kill the Chief." Rivera explained that they were playing a little joke on Oswald.
He also told her "Oswald is not what he seems ... we're going to send him to the library to read about great assassinations in history ... after it's over, he will call Abt to defend him ... after it's all over, the men will be out of the country, but someone will kill Oswald, maybe his best friend ... "
Rivera warned Adele if she repeated any of this to someone else she may get hurt. When Adele returned to New Orleans, she called Oswald and asked him if he knew Dr. Rivera. But he answered that he did not know him. Adele did not tell him to kill the chief. After the assassination Adele informed the Secret Service about Rivera but she was never called by the Warren Commission to testify. Later she tried to contact the Church and HSCA committees, but they never replied back. On July 2011 Adele sent a letter to President Obama regarding Dr. Jose Rivera and her views on the JFK assassination. Who was Jose Rivera? It seems that he had some interesting connections to the CIA and the MK/ULTRA.
Coming back to Rose Cheramie, I won't repeat her story since it is well documented in other books, like Bill Davy's Let Justice be Done and Jim DiEugenio's second edition of Destiny Betrayed. The main thing is that Cheramie had foreknowledge of the assassination and she was travelling to Dallas with two men who were going to kill Kennedy. Jim Garrison, years later asked State Trooper Lt. Francis Fruge, who had interviewed Cheramie, to locate her. But unfortunately she had been killed in a car accident. Fruge who had interviewed Rose back in 1963 tried to find the identity of her companions. He visited the Silver Slipper Lounge where Rose was seen with the two men. He spoke to its owner Mac Manual who said that Rose had visited his lounge on the November 20, 1963 with two men who he identified as Sergio Arcacha Smith and Emilio Santana. They were Cuban exiles fighting against Castro. They were also associated with the CIA and Arcacha Smith was the leader of Cuban Revolutionary Council, an anti-Castro organization in New Orleans that was created by E.H. Hunt. Now, the Silver Slipper had a reputation as a pick up spot for women of ill repute. And the HSCA report uses the word "pimp" in it on the Cheramie report. Albarelli now uses this word and the reported use of the word "Italian" to try and discount the story. Incredibly, he actually tries to say that 1.) Arcacha Smith had no connection to Oswald, and 2.) Neither Arcacha Smith nor Santana had anything to do with the assassination, and further that 3.) It's unlikely that Santana and Arcacha Smith knew each other.
The problem with this is that there are many witnesses who place Sergio Arcacha Smith at Guy Banister's office in New Orleans. There is indisputable evidence that connects Arcacha Smith to David Ferrie, who was also in Banister's office in 1963. And there are even more witnesses who place Oswald in that office. (See Chapter 6 of Destiny Betrayed, Second Edition for documentation of all of this.) Further, there is testimony that places Emilio Santana at Ferrie's apartment several times. And since Arcacha Smith and Ferrie were extremely close – they watched films of the Bay of Pigs invasion together – it would seem quite logical that the two did know each other. (See The Assassinations edited by James DiEugenio and Lisa Pease, pgs. 232, 236)
But beyond that, Arcacha Smith was a close friend of Carlos Quiroga and Carlos Bringuier. Anyone who knows anything about Oswald in New Orleans in the summer of 1963 understands that Oswald was involved with both men in street incidents which were meant to raise his profile as a Castro sympathizer. These incidents would then be used to incriminate him on the day of the assassination. When Santana was asked by Jim Garrison if Bringuier cashed a check for him to put him up in a New Orleans hotel in the summer of 1963, Santana denied it. The polygraph indicated he was lying. (Ibid, p. 236) When Quiroga was polygraphed by Jim Garrison, the DA asked him if he was aware that Oswald was not really pro-Castro and that his activities that summer were a ruse. Quiroga answered no and the polygraph indicated deceptive criteria. (Destiny Betrayed, p. 162) He was also asked if he knew Arcacha Smith. Quiroga said no, and again the machine indicating he was not telling the truth. Finally, Quiroga was asked if he had seen the weapons used in the Kennedy assassination prior to Dallas. Quiroga said no. The machine again indicated he was not telling the truth. (ibid, p. 329) Now, much of the above intrigue is left out by the author. But he does put one thing in that perfectly jibes with it. Albarelli writes that FBI files on Santana reveal that he "was alleged to own a Mannlicher Carcano rifle like Oswald's and to have been in Dealey Plaza at time of assassination on orders of ... Sergio Arcacha Smith." (Albarelli, p. 120) It would seem only natural to ask if the rifle Quiroga saw was the one Santana had?
But further, the author seems to have accepted the HSCA Report on Cheramie in Volume X at face value. This report was written by Patricia Orr. Orr was brought in after Chief Counsel Robert Blakey decided to blow up the original New Orleans investigation. (DiEugenio and Pease, pgs. 85-86) Therefore, when Orr wrote her report she had not done any firsthand inquiry into the matter. For instance, the whole idea that the two men were "Italians" seems caused by the fact that when Fruge testified to the HSCA, he mispronounced Santana as "Osanto". (ibid, p. 230) Well, Orr did not understand this point since she was not around for the original deposition of Fruge, which was done by Jon Blackmer. Blackmer had corrected this point by having Fruge indicate the actual photos Manual had identified ... (ibid) Further, in Orr's report, she writes that Manual said that the two men were pimps, not that they were Rose's pimp. But further, Albarelli discounts the fact that the trio was actually involved in a drug deal. And that Fruge then checked out the details of this deal. And the deal was just as Rose Cheramie said it was. Further, Douglas Valentine has confirmed in his book, The Strength of the Wolf, that this route the three were running was protected by the Customs Department with help from the CIA. This was done since President Kennedy was cutting off stipends to the Cuban exile veterans, who were now getting into shipping contraband in order to make up the loss.
Finally, the author also discounts the evidence that it was not just Fruge who heard this story about the upcoming JFK hit from Cheramie. It was also Dr. Victor Weiss at the hospital in Clinton, Louisiana who heard it directly, and intern Wayne Owen, who heard it indirectly. (Destiny Betrayed, p. 78) But further, in Todd Elliott's new work on the subject, A Rose by Many other Names, he uncovered a new witness. This was Dr. Louis Pavur of Moosa Hospital, the first place Rose was taken to, and the place where Fruge picked her up from. Pavur said that on the day of the assassination, he was told that Cheramie had predicted this would happen while she was there. (Elliott, p. 14) But further, Pavur said that very soon after this, the FBI came to Moosa and began scouring through records about Cheramie. This testimony was backed up by the widow of L. G. Carrier who was with the Eunice Police Department at the time. Jane Carrier, said that he also recalled the FBI going to Moosa and visiting the police station shortly after the assassination. Further, Jane said her husband actually heard Rose talking about the Kennedy assassination while she was temporarily incarcerated before Fruge picked her up. (ibid, p. 15) So here you have a woman involved in a drug deal with two Cuban exiles. One of whom was likely involved with setting up Oswald in New Orleans, and who may have actually seen the weapons used in the murder. The other may have actually had a similar weapon. And she says she heard them talking about the culmination of this set up. And five people either heard her say it in advance, or were told she did so. Maybe Albarelli thinks this all a coincidence that does not qualify for "high strangeness and synchronicity" in the JFK case?
Albarelli introduces another interesting character, Dimitre Dimitrov, a Bulgarian emigre who claimed to know who killed President Kennedy and why. He said that he met his killers while imprisoned by the U.S. Government in Panama where he was subjected to torture and was given drugs during interrogation. He revealed that David Sanchez Morales was one of his interrogators and he was very scared of him. He implied that Morales was one of the men involved in the assassination, although he never revealed what he exactly knew and who the actual killers were.
Albarelli then goes to examine the life and associates of Morales, but this is something that has already been done previously by other researchers and is not ground breaking information. He also discusses people like General Lansdale and Lucien Conein although he sees no evidence that they were involved in the JFK assassination.
Although, the writer tried to write a book about the JFK assassination, I found that his book is more about the CIA's nefarious and illegal operations, including the MK/ULTRA project. If you are interested in learning more about the shadowy world of the CIA, this is a good book. If you are interested in learning more about what happened to JFK and why he was assassinated, I believe there are many books out there that do a better job in answering your questions. It would have been better if Albarelli had tied together all the different bits of information to reach a conclusion. You could argue that he showed that there was high strangeness and synchronicity in the JFK assassination but this can be explained since most of the CIA characters worked together in various projects and it was natural to bump to each other all the time. The wilderness of mirrors strategy and its purpose in spreading cognitive dissonance among researchers, plus the creation of false sponsors and false leads, could explain this synchronicity.
Albarelli gave a recent radio interview to Joe Quinn and Niall Bradley in July (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LCIPqC_7xGU). There he said that he is not interested in solving the JFK assassination and he thought that the case will never be solved. Why then bother to write a book about the JFK assassination? Why did James Douglass bother to write JFK and the Unspeakable and Jim DiEugenio his Destiny Betrayed book? Those are books that do bring us closer to solving the case. Much more than Albarelli's book does.
I wish Gaeton Fonzi was alive to ask Albarelli his famous cry: "We know who killed President Kennedy. Why don't you?"
Then again, Albarelli is not a conspiracy theorist like the rest of us.