Thursday, August 28, 2008

Yuri I. Nosenko, 81; KGB Agent Who Defected to the U.S.

by WALTER PINCUS / Washington Post

Yuri I. Nosenko, 81, a Soviet KGB agent whose defection to the United States in 1964 and subsequent three-year harsh detention and hostile interrogation by CIA officials remains immensely controversial, died Aug. 23 under an assumed name in a Southern state, according to intelligence officials. No cause of death was reported other than "a long illness."

Mr. Nosenko, a lieutenant colonel in the Soviet secret police and intelligence agency, personally interviewed Lee Harvey Oswald during his time in the Soviet Union from 1959 to 1962. When Mr. Nosenko defected in 1964, he provided the first information that Oswald, the accused assassin of President John F. Kennedy, was not a Soviet agent.

Senior CIA officers at the time, including James Jesus Angleton, the agency's counterintelligence chief, and David Murphy of the Soviet division, did not believe Mr. Nosenko was a real defector and ordered his imprisonment.

Mr. Nosenko had initially made inaccurate statements about his past, and some of his information conflicted with that provided by another KGB officer, Anatoly M. Golitsin, who had defected the year before. As a result, they considered him a plant sent by Moscow to confuse Washington about Oswald.

Richard Helms, then CIA director of operations, in 1966 ordered that a conclusion be reached in the Nosenko case. In 1967, after passing multiple polygraphs, Mr. Nosenko was released and in 1969 he was found to be a legitimate defector. He subsequently became a consultant to the agency, given a new identity and provided a home in an undisclosed location in the South.

Last month several senior CIA officials visited him and presented him with a ceremonial flag and a letter from CIA Director Michael Hayden honoring his service to the United States, a senior intelligence official said yesterday.

First word of his death came yesterday from Pete Earley, an author of books on the CIA who had been trying for four years to get an interview with Mr. Nosenko.

Earley said Mr. Nosenko was bothered by a book released last year called "Spy Wars," written by Tennent H. Bagley, a key CIA player in Mr. Nosenko's defection and arrest. The book continued to argue that Mr. Nosenko was not a bona fide defector, but in fact was sent to cover up the KGB's influence over Oswald.

"I was fascinated by Nosenko because in spite of the horrific things that the agency and government did to him -- the torture and mental deprivation -- in the only public speech that he ever gave at the CIA, he praised the United States as being the world's best hope for humanity, condemned Communism and Moscow, and said he never regretted his defection nor held a grudge against the officials who had persecuted him," Earley said.
During his incarceration, at Camp Perry, the CIA facility in Virginia, the agency kept Mr. Nosenko in solitary confinement in a small concrete cell. He often endured treatment involving body searches, verbal taunts, revolting food and denial of such basics as toothpaste and reading materials.

Last year, the International Spy Museum in Washington canceled a session during which Bagley was to speak, allegedly because CIA officials objected to having the Nosenko issue raised.

In his 1992 book "Molehunt," author David Wise wrote, "The 'war of defectors,' the conflict over Golitsin and Mr. Nosenko . . . split the Agency into two camps, creating scars that had yet to heal decades later."

Claire George, a former CIA deputy director of operations who worked in the Soviet division at the time of Mr. Nosenko's defection, said yesterday that the handling of Mr. Nosenko "was a terrible mistake." But George added, "You can't be in the spy business without making mistakes."

Yuri Ivanovich Nosenko was born in 1927, in Nikolayev, a Ukrainian town on the Black Sea.

His father, a naval engineer, rose to minister for shipbuilding under Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, while his mother arranged for private tutors to school Mr. Nosenko in classical Western literature from Virgil to Voltaire. He developed an attraction to western culture.

Mr. Nosenko served three years in naval intelligence after his 1950 graduation from the State Institute of International Relations in Moscow. He then became a leader within the KGB's Soviet internal security division.

According to Tom Mangold's "Cold Warrior" (1991), a book about Angleton, Mr. Nosenko's KGB career specialized in following U.S. agents posted in the Soviet Union and in recruiting turncoats from foreign intelligence services. Mangold's book said he also oversaw blackmail operations.

Mangold asserted Mr. Nosenko eventually grew angered by what he considered hypocrisies of the Soviet system and signaled to U.S. intelligence agents his wish to defect on ideological grounds.

He made his first successful contact with U.S. intelligence in 1962, pleading desperation after squandering KGB funds on alcohol. He asked for $200 to repay the money. He later admitted this was a fabrication, and his request later raised doubts within the CIA about his intentions. Would he really sell out his country for $200?

But his propensity to drink was not a lie, and he was fully loaded when he met CIA officials in Geneva, where he was accompanying a diplomatic mission. He revealed key information about Soviet moles working in the embassies of Western nations as well as Russian intelligence methods. According to Mangold, he pinpointed 52 microphones planted inside the U.S. embassy in Moscow and how the Soviets avoided detection of the listening devices.

But his most stunning revelations were about Oswald, notably how the Soviet agency felt Oswald was too unstable mentally to be of much service.

None of this saved Mr. Nosenko from a bitter fate. Golitsin stoked Angleton's increasing paranoia about double agents in the CIA and the veracity of defectors, and Mr. Nosenko soon began his 1,277 days in custody.

After Mr. Nosenko's rehabilitation, he looked up the disgraced Angleton's number in the phone book in 1975 to confront him.

It was a brief and fruitless exchange, with Mr. Nosenko rising in his passions and Angelton cool and adamant about his judgment.

"I have nothing more to say to you," Angelton said.

"And Mr. Angelton," replied Mr. Nosenko, "I have nothing further to say to you."

Source: Washington Post

Yuri Nosenko, KGB defector, said to be dead in U.S.

by DAVID STOUT / New York Times

WASHINGTON - Yuri Nosenko, a former Soviet agent who was at the center of some of the most dramatic espionage episodes of the Cold War, died Saturday under an assumed name, somewhere in the southern United States, a senior American intelligence official said on Wednesday. He was 81.

In a statement with fittingly sparse information, given Nosenko's earlier life as a KGB spy and his later life in the shadows, the senior official said he could provide no details about the cause of death or Nosenko's survivors, if any. The official himself would speak only on the condition of anonymity.

Only last month, several senior officials of the Central Intelligence Agency visited Nosenko to present him with an American flag and a letter from Michael Hayden, the director of central intelligence, thanking him for his service and, by implication, offering a final apology for the way he was treated after he defected to the United States in the winter of 1964.

Nosenko's defection seemed to have been motivated in part by his fondness for Western culture. He also said he needed money to repay some KGB money he had lost in Geneva after a night with a prostitute and a bottle of vodka in 1962. So he began spying in Moscow for the CIA, and eventually decided that his future lay in the United States.

He gave his American handlers vital information about Soviet agents who had penetrated American and European embassies and about microphones that Russians had planted in the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. Most important, he said he had gone over the Soviet file on Lee Harvey Oswald. Oswald, an American, lived in the Soviet Union in the late 1950s and early 1960s before traveling to Mexico City and then to Dallas, where President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on Nov. 22, 1963.

At the time of Nosenko's defection, the Warren Commission was trying to determine whether Oswald, the presumed assassin, had acted on his own. Nosenko assured his American questioners that Oswald had never been an agent of the KGB, which had considered him unstable and unfit for espionage work.

But instead of being relieved to hear that the Soviets had not been involved in the assassination, James Jesus Angleton, the CIA's legendarily suspicious counterintelligence chief, and others in the spy trade thought Nosenko's apparent defection was a trick.

"In the spring of 1964, after years of crushing failures, Angleton sought redemption," Tim Weiner, a reporter for The New York Times, recounted in 2007 in his book, "Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA." Angleton "believed that if the CIA could break Nosenko, the master plot might be revealed - and the Kennedy assassination solved."

In fact, Nosenko said and did things to arouse suspicions about himself. Had he really been a lieutenant colonel in the KGB, as he initially claimed? Had he really been able to leave behind a wife and two young daughters, assuming the family really existed?

In 1964, the CIA put Nosenko in solitary confinement at Camp Peary, its training site near Williamsburg, Virginia, where he got "the treatment his fellow Russians received in the gulag," as Weiner wrote.

After numerous lie-detector tests and many interrogation sessions, the CIA determined that Nosenko was telling the truth. He was released in 1967, given $80,000 and a new name and sent to spend the rest of his life somewhere in the South, with occasional trips to Langley, Virginia, to lecture American intelligence professionals at CIA headquarters.

Source: International Herald Tribune

Monday, August 18, 2008

YouTube Pied Pipers


I’ve gotten more than one email in the last few days asking about a video posted on YouTube over the weekend claiming to debunk my computer animation work on the validity of the single bullet theory.

This latest video posting, entitled “Dale Myers or Voodoo Geometry 101,” arrives courtesy of conspiracy advocate Robert Harris who manages to prove how little he knows about my computer work, photography and geometric relations, and the Kennedy assassination in general in less than six minutes.

The crux of Mr. Harris’ argument is that yours truly (that’s me) falsified the geometric positions of Kennedy and Connally in order to make it appear that the single bullet theory was valid and that the single bullet shot traced back to Lee Harvey Oswald’s firing position on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository. In short, according to Mr. Harris, my computer work is a transparent lie.

Never mind that Mr. Harris’ charges have been made numerous times in the past by equally ignorant detractors and rebutted in detail on my own website (see, FAQ: Computer Reconstruction of the JFK Assassination) and here in this forum (see, Con Job: Debunking the Debunkers).

The modern day pied pipers of the YouTube generation count on the short attention spans and general ignorance of their audience to sell their own brand of snake-oil and promote themselves as reliable purveyors of truth via video on the Internet.

Of course, anyone can point a webcam at their own mug a pretend to be someone of knowledge and responsibility. Hence, the wisdom of the ancient axiom, “You get what you pay for.”

In this case, those who buy Mr. Harris’ free offerings are getting a pig in a poke.

For instance, Mr. Harris makes the foolish claim that he can measure a two dimensional still frame of a computer rendering of the presidential limousine and it’s occupants (as culled from the Discovery Channel program, “Beyond the Magic Bullet”) and determine the angle of a three-dimensional trajectory from the sniper’s nest.

Apparently Mr. Harris never heard of (or understands) the underlying principle of photogrammetry, which in essence shows that it is impossible to project three dimensional lines in space onto two dimensional photographs without taking into account the location and angle of both known vantage points. By some wizardry unknown to human science, Mr. Harris is able to do both.

Conspiracy guru Jack White found out the lessons of photogrammetry the hard way when he took a beating in 1978 while trying to convince the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) that multiple press photographs of Oswald’s Mannlicher-Carcano rifle depicted multiple rifles of differing lengths. The “proof” Mr. White offered of the multiple rifle cover-up were measurements he made on two-dimensional press photographs.

As the HSCA photograph experts called to rebut Mr. White rightly pointed out, the former advertising photographer failed to take into account the relationship between the camera making the photograph and the tilt of the rifle in three dimensional space. In fact, White had never heard of the principle of photogrammetry.

Apparently, Mr. Harris never heard of Jack White’s boo-boo, because he makes the same error. And he makes it more than once.

For instance, Mr. Harris claims that a comparison of a photograph of the presidential limousine made early in the parade route with a computer rendering of my limousine model shows that “Myers has jammed the two men much more closely together than they really were.” Mr. Harris claims that the distance between the back seat where the president was seated and Governor Connally’s jumpseat were compressed in my computer model by “a little over fifty percent.”

What is the evidence for the charge that I manipulated the dimensions of the limousine to better serve the single bullet theory?

Mr. Harris offers nothing more that his own self-proclaimed expertise at visually aligning two different photographs made from two completely different angles in three dimensional space – a virtual impossibility – along with an unsupported declarative statement: “There is no way JFK’s legs could have been up against the back of Connally’s car seat.”

In fact, Mr. Harris’ credibility on this last point is effectively destroyed by the existence of numerous photographs taken throughout the motorcade (a photograph on the back dust jacket of Bill Sloan’s JFK: Breaking the Silence to name one) which shows exactly the opposite to be true – Kennedy’s knees were comparatively tight to the back of Connally’s jump seat.

In addition, Mr. Harris’ claim that “when the House Select Committee on Assassinations depicted the victims they had to move Connally considerably [more] to his left” than he appeared to be in other photographs suggests that Mr. Harris doesn’t know that the HSCA Photographic Panel mistakenly based Connally’s position on a line of sight as seen in a photograph made by Hugh Betzner and that the HSCA analysis failed to take into account the fact that Connally’s right shoulder was below Betzner’s line of sight (as proven by the Altgens’ photograph) and hence Connally might have been seated further right than the HSCA believed. My three dimensional analysis of the Zapruder film bares this fact out.

Most importantly, Mr. Harris states, “The next scene from [Mr. Myers’] presentation includes an amazing sleight of hand or pixels or whatever. Watch closely folks, as Mr. Myers tries to hide the evidence of his deception by slipping the victims back into a proper position.”

Here, Mr. Harris shows a clip from the Discovery program which features my computer work in which the moment of the single bullet is shown in wireframe and in solid form as the camera circles the limousine and its occupants.

Mr. Harris then adds this, “Okay, notice two things here. First the car and the background are all wireframes. Also, he still has Kennedy and Connally close together, so that 18 degree bullet trajectory looks pretty reasonable. But as the car rotates, notice that something happens. The wireframes disappear and right in the middle of the rotation, Mr. Myers switches to a totally different video. In this video he positions President Kennedy and Governor Connally correctly.”

What Mr. Harris doesn’t know is that the two renderings (wireframe and solid form) depict the same model.

That’s right folks, the wireframe model that he claims has been “jammed together” in order to mislead the American public and perpetuate the cover-up, is the exact same model (and in the same position) as the solid form model which Mr. Harris says depicts Kennedy and Connally correctly.

For you tech junkies, the model of the single bullet moment was simply rendered in a 360 degree rotational view multiple times with a variety of surface settings (wireframe, solids, etc.), and then combined with simple dissolves pulled between the various layers.

At the end of his presentation, Mr. Harris proudly boasts, “People like Myers have been playing this same game for years, misconstruing the positions of the President and Governor Connally to make it appear that the shot was fired from the sixth floor of the depository. But the angles from there just don’t work.”

Of course, the only game players in this case are the conspiracy diehards like Mr. Harris who refuse to accept the reality of what happened in Dealey Plaza and prefer instead to prey on the young and na├»ve who are more than happy to follow any video pied piper willing to tell them whatever they want to hear about the Kennedy assassination – truth be damned.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Gerald Ford, the Warren Commission, and the Media


Last weekend, the Associated Press (AP) reported that newly released records from Former President Gerald R. Ford 's FBI file show that Ford secretly advised the FBI that two of his fellow members on the Warren Commission doubted the conclusion that John F. Kennedy was shot from the sixth floor of the Texas Book Depository in Dallas.

At least, that’s what the vast majority of the press reported in the wake of the AP story, leading to these sensationalistic headlines:

Doubts in JFK Assassination; Ford told FBI about panel’s doubts on JFK murder; Mole Exposed JFK doubts…

The nation was also treated to details like these:

“… Newly released documents show that Ford told FBI agents that two people on the seven member commission doubted [Oswald acted alone] ...”

“…Documents show Gerald Ford, then a congressman, secretly advised the FBI that two of his fellow members on the Warren Commission doubted JFK had been shot from the sixth floor of the Texas Book Depository …”

If one didn’t know better, you might be led to believe that the Commission members who expressed doubts about Oswald’s sole guilt did so after the Commission’s exhaustive 10-month investigation.

However, the details of the new document release weren’t reported by the vast majority of the 10-second sound bite media crowd, and of those few media outlets that did, how many in their audience understood the significance of those details? Not many, I’ll venture.

For instance, the AP reported that on December 17, 1963, then-Congressman Ford told the FBI’s Assistant Director Cartha "Deke" DeLoach that “Two members of the commission brought up the fact that they still were not convinced that the President had been shot from the sixth floor window of the Texas Book Depository” and that “These members failed to understand the trajectory of the slugs that killed the President. He stated he felt this point would be discussed further but, of course, would represent no problem.”

You’ll note that the date was December 17, 1963, - less than a month after the assassination, just twelve days after the Commission met for the first time, eight days after the FBI submitted it’s own preliminary report which concluded Oswald was the sole assassin, a month before the Commission even looked at the Zapruder film, and nine months before the Warren Commission delivered it’s own final report on the assassination.

In effect, any doubts that the two unnamed Commission members expressed could only have been based on early newspaper reports and the FBI’s preliminary report – both awash in misstatements of fact. None of this is new, of course.

The fact that Ford even met with the FBI during the Commissions earliest days has been known for 33 years, having been reported in 1975 by former assistant FBI director William Sullivan. Sullivan, who had a bitter break with FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, told investigators that “Hoover did not want the Warren Commission to conduct an exhaustive investigation for fear that it would discover important and relevant facts that we in the FBI had not discovered in our own investigation, [since] it would be greatly embarrassing to him and damaging to his career and the FBI as a whole.” [11HSCA53] Sullivan’s remarks were supported by the Church Committee, which found that Hoover repeatedly told others that the Warren Commission was seeking to criticize the FBI. [Church Committee Report, p.46]

In 1978, Ford himself testified to the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) under penalty of perjury that he only met with DeLoach on two occasions, December 12 and 17, 1963, both of which times were “during the organizational period of the Commission and before any investigations or hearings were undertaken by the Commission.” [3HSCA576-577]

Despite the charge that Ford was a stoolie for the FBI, which conjures up images of some ragged snitch meeting with government agents in back alleys, it is highly significant to note that no one has been able to show that Ford had any contact with the FBI other than the two dates which Ford testified to. The 500 pages of recently declassified documents turned over to the news media under the Freedom of Information Act last week only strengthens this fact.

Long ago declassified transcripts of the Commission meeting held on December 16, 1963 (the day before Ford met with DeLoach), show that the Commission as a whole was dissatisfied with the FBI’s 384-page, five volume report delivered to the Commission a week earlier.

Senator Richard Russell complained that “practically everything in there has come out in the press at one time or another.” John McCloy attributed the deficiency of the FBI’s report on the speed with which it had been put together. Representative Hale Boggs and Senator John Cooper noted that there was nothing in the report about Governor Connally “and whether or not they found any bullets in him.” McCloy added, “This bullet business leaves me confused.” Boggs told fellow members that the FBI report “raises a lot of new questions in my mind.” Warren Commission head, Chief Justice Earl Warren opined, “It’s totally inconclusive.”

Even Gerald Ford is on record as saying, “[The report] was interesting to read but it did not have the depth that it ought to have.” So much for Ford being the FBI’s man on the Commission.

It was during that December 16 meeting that the Commission decided not to rely solely on the FBI report or on the reports from any other federal agencies, but instead would examine the raw materials that went into the reports and make their own appraisal.

In fact, the Warren Commission took the sworn testimony of 498 witnesses, independent of the FBI, and directed much of the FBI’s later investigation.

In an effort to further link the former President with the Warren Commission’s mythical cover-up, assumed by many uninformed citizens as a matter of gospel, the AP noted that “Warren Commission records released in 1997 revealed that in the final report Ford changed the staff's original description of one of Kennedy's wounds. Ford said then he only made the description more precise. Skeptics said Ford's wording falsely made the wound seem higher on the body to make the panel's conclusion that one bullet hit both Kennedy and Texas Gov. John Connally more plausible.”

This was a reference to a July 3, 1997, news story that Ford had changed an early draft of the Commissions final report from the language that the bullet had entered Kennedy’s “back at a point slightly above the shoulder,” to its entering “the back of the neck.”

While conspiracy theorists were quick to charge that Ford’s language changes were part of the big “cover-up,” none of the language used in the Warren Report changes the measurements provided in the autopsy report nor does it alter the location of the back/neck wound as seen in the actual autopsy photographs. Apparently, only the most rabid of conspiracy theorists are able to believe that Ford’s early draft changes would be sufficient to contain the government “cover-up”.

This latest round of Warren Commission bashing adds nothing new to the assassination debate. About the only thing it manages to accomplish is to feed the public’s apparently insatiable appetite for a diluted and abhorrently delusional version of American history.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Gerald Ford, JFK and the FBI


Two members of the Warren Commission were initially not convinced that President John F. Kennedy had been shot from the sixth floor window of the Texas Book Depository, according to confidential FBI files released this week to The Post's Joe Stephens.

The files detail the inner workings of a secret back channel that Gerald R. Ford, then a Michigan congressman who was one of seven members of the Warren Commission, opened in 1963 to J. Edgar Hoover's FBI. The declassified FBI memos are among scores of documents in the file on President Ford, who died in December 2006. At the request of The Post, the FBI this week released 500 pages of the bureau's voluminous file.

Although it has long been known that he secretly spoke with the FBI, the newly obtained, previously classified records detail one visit Ford made to one of Hoover's deputies just three weeks after joining the panel.

A December 1963 memo recounts that Ford told FBI Assistant Director Cartha D. DeLoach that two members remained unconvinced that Kennedy had been shot from the sixth floor window of the Texas Book Depository. In addition, three commission members "failed to understand" the trajectory of the slugs, Ford said.

Ford told DeLoach that commission discussions would continue and reassured him that those minority points of view on the commission "of course would represent no problem," one internal FBI memo shows. The memo does not name the members involved and does not elaborate on what Ford meant by "no problem."

Ford also told DeLoach that Chief Justice Earl Warren, who headed the commission, had told its members that "they should strive to have their hearings completed and the findings made public prior to July 1964, when the Presidential campaigns will begin to get hot. He stated it would be unfair to present the findings after July." They missed their deadline, concluding in a report issued on September 24, 1964, that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in the assassination.

Much of the material in the overall FBI file on Ford concerns intelligence about his political adversaries when he was president, especially organizations that the bureau thought might disrupt Ford's appearances around the country. But the file also sheds light on the investigation into Kennedy's assassination and the FBI's relationship with Ford, and shows how the bureau strove to curry favor with powerful politicians.

Another memo in the file, previously released with Warren Commission materials in 1978, details how Ford approached DeLoach in 1963 and offered to secretly inform the bureau about the inner workings of the then-ongoing Warren Commission investigation.

"Ford indicated he would keep me thoroughly advised as to the activities of the Commission," DeLoach wrote. "He stated this would have to be done on a confidential basis, however he thought it should be done."

Five days later, DeLoach had a second meeting with Ford and filed another confidential memo. DeLoach recounted that he "carefully" informed Ford that the FBI had released none of its investigative findings to the media. Instead, he said, it looked as though commission members were beginning to leak portions of the FBI report.

"I referred to this week's issue of 'Newsweek' magazine which contains a rather clear analysis of the report," DeLoach wrote. "I told Congressman Ford that 'Newsweek' was owned by the 'Washington Post' and that apparently some one was trying to curry favor. I told him we, of course, did not get along very well with either the 'Washington Post' or 'Newsweek.' He [said] that he was in the same boat, that he liked neither one of these publications."

The conversation, which has apparently not been previously reported, concluded with Ford saying he would like to take a confidential FBI report on the assassination with him on a family ski trip to Michigan. DeLoach offer to loan him an "Agent briefcase" with a lock, so Ford could safeguard the document.

Elsewhere in the FBI file on Ford, records show that as a young man, in 1942, Ford had applied to become an FBI agent. A background check at the time was favorable, the file says, "except for information that he was an isolationist and active in organizing an American First committee while at Yale University." Ford later withdrew his application.

In 1965, Ford asked FBI technicians to check the phone line at his home in Northern Virginia for tampering; they found none. In another instance, Ford asked the FBI to look into the background of his personal maid; she came up clean.

The FBI file shows Hoover routinely tried to ingratiate himself with Ford by sending him personal notes -- congratulating Ford on his re-election or his winning of an award, offering condolences on the death of Ford's parents, thanking Ford for saying nice things about the bureau on the floor of Congress. There are repeated references in the file to Ford having "enjoyed cordial relations" with the bureau, and notes pointing out that the FBI had named Ford to the bureau's "Special Correspondents List."

One memo notes: "Though we did experience some difficulty with all the members of the Warren Commission, Ford was of considerable help." It points out Ford once requested an 8-by-10-inch photograph of Hoover, although its intended use was unknown.

The intensity with which Hoover's FBI sought to gain favor with those who could later be of use is made clear in one memo written by a subordinate in 1963.

"In view of Congressman Ford's friendly attitude toward the FBI, and the fact that he is a member of the House Appropriations Committee and will probably be reappointed to this Committee in the next session of Congress, it is felt he should be presented a copy of the Director's new book, 'A Study of Communism.' The House Appropriations Committee, of course, is very important to us, and it is felt such a gesture would be very beneficial in connection with our Hill contact program."

Before presenting the book to Ford, the file shows, Hoover autographed it.

In 1964, Ford and his wife, Betty, attended a party at DeLoach's home. The next morning, Hoover followed up with an obsequious note, delivered by special messenger:

"My dear Congressman: I want to let you know how much I enjoyed talking to Mrs. Ford and you during the party at DeLoach's home last night. Particularly, I was very pleased to discuss in this informal manner some vital issues of interest to you as well as the FBI. Let me say that I found your observations to be both helpful and germane. It is always encouraging to know that we have alert, vigorous Congressmen, such as you, who are aware of the needs and problems confronting our country, and I wish you every success in meeting your grave responsibilities.

Whenever you have an opportunity, I would be happy to have Mrs. Ford and you drop by FBI Headquarters for a special tour of our facilities, and of course, I would like you to feel free to call on me any time our help is needed or when we can be of service.

With kind personal regards,
Sincerely yours,
J. Edgar Hoover."

Source: The

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Robert A. Maheu: Dead at 90

by ED KOCH / Las Vegas Sun

On his deathbed, Robert Maheu reminisced with his longtime friend Gordie Margulis about several moments in his life, but perhaps none as poignant as what happened on April 16, 1960, the night before the doomed invasion of Cuba.

“He didn’t mention it by name — the Bay of Pigs — but he said he went home that night and told his wife, Eve, to go to bed and then he put on some classical music,” Margulis said.

“Bob sat in his chair all that night and through the next day and did not move or say a word. He was despondent because he knew the United States was not going to back the invasion he helped put together. He knew those men were going to die and he couldn’t do anything about it.”

Margulis said his friend of 40-plus years was an honorable man who put love of family and friends and patriotism above all else.

“He was a giant, this guy — a giant with a heart,” Margulis said.

Margulis was at Maheu’s bedside when Maheu, best-known as the alter-ego of billionaire businessman Howard Hughes, died of congestive heart failure Monday night (Aug. 4) at Kindred Hospital on Flamingo Road at age 90. “Everything he did he did with enthusiasm and loyalty.”

Services for Robert Amie Maheu, a Las Vegas resident and businessman for 42 years, will be at noon Saturday at St. Viator Catholic Church, 4150 S. Eastern Ave.

In the late 1960s, Maheu helped the reclusive Hughes acquire Las Vegas Strip hotel-casinos, which began to rid the town of its mob influence and usher in the corporate age of gaming in Southern Nevada.

Maheu also was every bit the quintessential American spy — our version of the mythical British superspy James Bond.

Maheu infiltrated the German lines during World War II, providing misleading information to Adolf Hitler; spied on Hughes’ starlet girlfriends, and worked with the CIA and the Mafia to try to kill Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

The mark Maheu left on Las Vegas is indelible.

“Bob Maheu had as much to do with the transformation of Las Vegas as practically any other person who called Las Vegas home,” said Brian Greenspun, president and editor of the Las Vegas Sun.

“When he came here in 1966, Bob spearheaded Howard Hughes’ efforts to buy up a number of mobbed-up hotels on the Strip. Only men with Mr. Hughes’ money and vision and Bob Maheu’s tenacity could have succeeded in ridding Las Vegas of mob influence.”
That, Greenspun said, led to corporate expansion of the Las Vegas Strip, fueled by Wall Street and legitimate banks around the world.

“Without Bob Maheu, Las Vegas would be a very different and a far less successful place today,” Greenspun said.

Margulis, 76, Hughes’ longtime bodyguard, recalled that Maheu and Hughes, who never met face to face, would talk for hours on the phone.

“The others in the room got so jealous because Bob was Howard’s eyes and ears,” Margulis recalled.

“They tried to gain Howard’s favor and pitched their ideas to him, like banning smoking and the consumption of alcoholic beverages in Howard’s casinos. Howard got on the phone with Bob and said, ‘You’re not going to believe what they asked me to do now.’”

Maheu then had to spend hours on Hughes’ behalf arguing with the caregivers as to why outlawing smoking and drinking in Las Vegas casinos was not a good business move, Margulis said.

Maheu, also on Hughes’ behalf, delivered large sums of cash to high-ranking politicians to secure favors. Hughes’ memos to Maheu about one cash gift from Hughes to President Richard M. Nixon and the subsequent break-in of Sun Publisher Hank Greenspun’s office to try to steal those documents became part of the Watergate scandal that led to Nixon’s political demise.

Peter Maheu, the eldest of Maheu’s four children and a private investigator in Las Vegas, said Tuesday, “My father was a pioneer in so much history, not just in Las Vegas but around the world — and he was proud of that.”

Peter Maheu recalled his father’s work in sabotaging the deal that had given billionaire shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis a monopoly on shipping Saudi Arabian oil.

“If you think paying $3 or $4 a gallon for gasoline today is bad, you can imagine what we would be paying if my father did not play a major role in scuttling that deal,” Peter Maheu said
By one report, Robert Maheu was even given a license to — if necessary — assassinate Onassis.

After one meeting with Maheu, then-Vice President Nixon shook Maheu’s hand and, according to the 1986 Onassis biography “Nemesis” by Peter Evans, said: “And just remember, if it turns out we have to kill the bastard don’t do it on American soil.”

Bill Maheu, Robert’s youngest son, said his father was a man of “strong values and ethics who always acted in a manner he felt was in the best interest of his country.” Still, he believes Robert Maheu would want to be remembered for something much more basic than that.

“My father’s legacy is his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren,” said Bill Maheu, a retired police officer who lives in San Diego. “The historians will write the rest.”

Maheu was born in Waterville, Maine, on Oct. 30, 1917, and graduated from Holy Cross in 1940.

While studying law at Georgetown in 1941, he was hired by the FBI as a counterintelligence officer. He posed as a Canadian businessman and Nazi sympathizer to gather valuable information on the Germans.

One of his missions was to feed false information to two German spies who reported directly to Hitler. Maheu later was involved in the arrest of the two men whose confidence he had gained.

After the war, Maheu established his own investigative agency whose clients included the Central Intelligence Agency.

Maheu’s work for the CIA primarily was covert operations in which the agency could not be officially involved. They included the proposed assassination of Cuban dictator Castro and the Bay of Pigs invasion.

In 1960, the CIA directed Maheu to conspire with the Mafia to kill Castro, who had angered the mob by shutting down its casinos after coming to power.

Maheu contacted longtime Las Vegas Mafia henchman Johnny Rosselli to set up a meeting with mob bosses Santo Trafficante and Sam “Momo” Giancana to discuss how to pull off a gangland-style killing. Maheu told the gangsters the CIA was willing to pay $150,000 to have Castro killed.

But the CIA eventually shelved its assassination plan and Rosselli was killed to cover the conspirators’ tracks.

In testimony before the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in 1975, Maheu defended his role in the assassination scheme as an act of patriotism, saying he felt the United States “was involved in a just war.”

In his 1993 book, “Next to Hughes,” Maheu wrote of that part of his life:

“Though I’m no saint, I am a religious man, and I knew that the CIA was talking about murder. They (CIA bosses) used the analogy of World War II: If we had known the exact bunker that Hitler was in during the war, we wouldn’t have hesitated to kill the bastard ...
“But in my mind, justified or not, I would still have blood on my hands ... If anything went wrong, I was the fall guy, caught between protecting the government and protecting the mob, two armed camps that could crush me like a bug.”

Maheu’s spy work brought him in phone contact with Hughes in 1955. Hughes was fascinated by undercover operations and hired Maheu to do counterintelligence work.
Hughes, a renowned playboy and filmmaker who discovered movie goddesses Jane Russell and Jean Harlow and married actresses Jean Peters and Terry Moore, also paid Maheu to spy on Hollywood beauties Hughes had designs on as well as on business rivals.

Hughes wasn’t Maheu’s only jealous client. Mobster Giancana hired Maheu to wiretap the room of Giancana’s girlfriend Phyllis McGuire, lead singer of the McGuire Sisters and a longtime Las Vegan.

In the 1995 film “Sugartime,” about the McGuire-Giancana relationship, Maheu was portrayed by actor Bill Cross.

Hughes stayed at the Desert Inn when he came to Las Vegas in 1966 and had Maheu buy it for him when the owners threatened to evict him after he turned a 10-day stay in their best suites into three months.

The purchase helped reduce Hughes’ tax burden from interest income generated by selling his stock in Trans World Airlines for $546.5 million.

Hughes then ordered Maheu to find him more hotel-casinos to buy to further shelter his windfall. Soon after, Maheu bought for Hughes the Sands, the Castaways, the Frontier, the Silver Slipper and the Landmark.

When Hughes and Maheu were finished buying, Hughes’ Nevada empire was valued at $300 million and included nearly every vacant lot along the Las Vegas Strip and 25,000 acres of prime real estate where the Hughes-built Summerlin master-planned community is now.

In 1969 and 1970, years when Hughes was seeking federal approval for airline acquisitions, Maheu delivered two bundles of $50,000 each in cash to Charles G. “Bebe” Rebozo, a Nixon confidante, as a supposed campaign contribution.

Nixon was paranoid about being linked to any gift from Hughes because in 1956, Hughes made a controversial $205,000 loan to Nixon’s brother Donald. Details of the loan were leaked during the 1960 presidential campaign and Nixon believed it cost him the election to John F. Kennedy.

Watergate burglars attempted to break into Greenspun’s safe at the Sun offices to get the Maheu-Hughes memos about that gift. They damaged the safe’s door but never broke it open.

Nixon also was concerned that Maheu had told one of his former employees, then-Democratic National Committee Chairman Larry O’Brien, about the cash donations from Hughes. O’Brien’s Watergate office was broken into, but the burglars were caught.
Maheu’s other business dealings included lobbying on behalf of Hughes to conserve Southern Nevada’s precious water resources and stop nuclear weapons testing at the Nevada Test Site.

Twice Hughes sent Maheu to Washington with briefcases containing $1 million in cash to secure promises from President Lyndon B. Johnson and Nixon to end nuclear testing in Southern Nevada.

But as Hughes became a bedraggled hermit, a rift developed between Maheu and Hughes’ caregivers, who answered to Hughes Corp. executive Bill Gay, with whom Maheu did not always see eye to eye.

(Hughes’ caregivers and aides were nicknamed the “Mormon Mafia” because the majority were members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.)

Maheu was fired by Hughes Corp. in 1970 and started his own consulting business, Robert A. Maheu and Associates.

In November 1970, Hughes was taken in a van by his caregivers from the Desert Inn to Nellis Air Force Base, where they boarded a jet for the Bahamas. Hughes never returned to Las Vegas.

After Hughes left town, many of Hughes’ memos to Maheu wound up on the front page of the Sun, accompanied by definitive stories about the reclusive billionaire and his mysterious ways.

“In Bob’s darkest days following the Hughes shake-up he had one true friend — that was my father, Hank Greenspun,” Brian Greenspun said. “And Bob returned that friendship to my family for the rest of his life.”

Hughes died April 5, 1976, aboard a plane from Mexico to his hometown of Houston at age 70. Though the official cause was kidney failure, Maheu maintained till the end that Hughes died of neglect.

“My heart still bleeds for what happened to Howard Hughes,” Maheu said in 2004. “I often said after I got off the phone with him that I just finished talking to the poorest man in the world. He was so unhappy.”

Maheu’s remains will be cremated and his ashes will be interred alongside those of his wife, Eve, at the family plot in Waterville.

Other Maheu survivors include his son Robert Maheu of Newport Beach, Calif.; daughters-in-law Rosemary Maheu of Las Vegas and Jane Maheu of San Diego; 10 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his daughter Christine.

Sun reporter Mary Manning contributed to this report.

Source: Las Vegas Sun