ALAN DALE: We're speaking with Professor Peter Dale Scott. I've heard you say that as a young person – I mean there's so much that I would like to be able to address with you, which we cannot even begin to scratch the surface in an hour, but you're a figure whose personal story, not merely in relation to these extraordinarily complex and important subjects; your personal story is inspiring and fascinating. The fact that you began by thinking you did not intend to become an academic, you did not look forward to being a professor – Boy! How'd that work out for you?! - the idea that you…
PROFESSOR SCOTT: I didn't want to be like my father, who was a professor who wrote poetry and got into politics.
ALAN DALE: Well! Great job! And I also think that it's very valuable to look at your example about your experience; what it meant to you to have an opportunity to live in a country like Poland during the era when you lived there, and how that informed your understanding and your perceptions of contrasting mechanisms of power.
PROFESSOR SCOTT: Being followed by the Secret Police in Poland for example, very conspicuously followed. Yes, that was part of my formation. I very much enjoyed my two years in Poland, by the way. I mean – I never knew the Secret Police, but I knew some of the other politicians. I mostly knew journalists and artists, and a few political figures. Actually I knew a man who became the last communist Prime Minister of Poland and then his successor, the first Catholic Prime Minister of Poland; I knew them both. That’s what I liked about Poland; it was a bit like Canada: everybody knew everybody. I loved that!
ALAN DALE: It occurs to me, I don't know that I've ever heard anyone ask if you are working on an autobiography.
PROFESSOR SCOTT: Many people ask, and my answer is I've got other things to do first.
ALAN DALE: I understand.
PROFESSOR SCOTT: My long poems… Coming to Jakarta. It's a trilogy actually; between the three volumes there's a certain amount of autobiography in there.
ALAN DALE: When we referred to trans-national aspects to President Kennedy's assassination, which is primarily our focus here today. One of the essential centers that should be the subject of our attention is Mexico; Mexico City six and seven weeks prior to the assassination and interesting – a much better understanding now as the result of scholarship of some very, very serious and very important researchers. The relationship of what was called the DFS, a corrupt State Police – Mexico State Police, which was - susceptible to criminal influence – let me put it that way. I know you could speak about it for quite some time, and I'm curious to know, when you refer to Richard Cain, and what his areas of expertise included, which is wire-tapping and things like that, do we have any reason to believe that there was a connection between the Chicago mob and the DFS?
PROFESSOR SCOTT: Oh yes, I think so, because the DFS – Direccion Federal de Seguridad - was already at that time, in fact from its creation back in 1949-50 by – really with the help of - the FBI, and then eventually OPC, which became CIA. It was Americans helped create it and it was created out of the drug traffic – people who were drug-traffickers. So the drug traffic is the lynchpin between the DFS who – they were more like a CIA than a police force. They were an investigation/intelligence agency, and with – all of their heads were CIA assets, and they were the people who handled the investigation of the Kennedy assassination in Mexico, bringing in Sylvia Duran and so on.
But, yes, Richard Cain had worked for them because we – it would be wonderful if we'd heard that he had installed wiretaps in the Soviet and Cuban embassies. We don't know that. We do know, as a fact, that he installed wiretaps in the Czech embassy, so he was part of that whole wiretapping operation…
ALAN DALE: Right. ENVOY. LI/ENVOY.
PROFESSOR SCOTT: And it wasn't directly the CIA that was wiretapping; it was outsourced.
ALAN DALE: And it was outsourced to the DFS, which monitored the source of the recordings, which were then transcribed by Boris and Anna Tarasoff which are the original Oswald tapes, which are the subject of enormous interest and controversy.
PROFESSOR SCOTT: Exactly, and what is also interesting is that the man – an American outside the embassy that was handling all this, was one of the three people that had – his name comes up in the Watergate investigation, I don't – I've had too much about Watergate, but it's another example of the overlap. And I'm very interested in the fact that there was an Oswald "legend": the connection to Cuba was actively sort of developed in Mexico City when a man came in, identified himself as Oswald, and then made a phone call later on and so on. I don't think that was Oswald. And I think the fact that his Russian was not very good is one of the things that is pointed to as saying that it couldn't have been Oswald, but there's actually a hand-written notation in one of the documents that said that the man who was being taped spoke terrible Russian and terrible English. Terrible English?! How could he possibly have been Lee Harvey Oswald?
ALAN DALE: It's absurd.
PROFESSOR SCOTT: So I think that, yes, Mexico City is relevant to the assassination because of the creation of Oswald's legend. I don't think Oswald was there. A more important city for me that not enough people talk about is Acapulco, because we do know that one of Mary Ferrell's suspects in the assassination, Gordon McLendon, went rushing down to Acapulco – to Mexico. We don't know for a fact where he went, very suddenly in the summer of '63. He took his family with him, and I think that he went to – he had a good friend in Acapulco who was a man called Frank Brandstetter. Have you heard that name before?
ALAN DALE: I have not. I have not.
PROFESSOR SCOTT: There are two biographies of him and I recommend them both – Frank Brandstetter. Each biography tells us a great deal, and the names that turn up, like George De Mohrenschildt! My chief, chief suspect in the phase one stage of the assassination is a man called John Crichton; you recognise that name.
ALAN DALE: Yes.
PROFESSOR SCOTT: He was the head of this 488th Army Intelligence Reserve unit in Dallas, which to me is a focal point. George Lumpkin, who was the head of the Intelligence Division in the Dallas Police, was a member of it, and they say that something like 50 police officers were in this Intelligence Reserve unit, one of them being Don Stringfellow, who sent this falsified cable about Oswald having been a card-carrying communist who'd been to Cuba.
So I see the 488th division as being very, very important in the assassination, and one of its members was Frank Brandstetter down in Acapulco, who in addition was, because of his Army Intelligence status, that his hotel, the Las Brisas, which had a bunch of villas behind it, was used by the CIA when they had guests coming from Europe, and they were shepherding them down to Mexico City. They would then go to Frank Brandstetter's hotel. So he had a secure room with a secure line to the CIA and to the embassy in his hotel and important meetings would take place there.
Also something, by the way, to encourage young people to do their own research. I went to Rex Bradford's website; it's the Mary Ferrell Foundation website; getting ready for – I did this at ten o'clock this morning getting ready for this interview, and I looked up Frank Brandstetter, and I learnt for the first time that he was a source for the FBI on the activities of Sam Giancana and Moe Dalitz and Frank Sinatra, because Moe Dalitz had one of the villas on his property and Frank Sinatra had another. In other words he had his own connections with organized crime right down there in Acapulco, so all of the ingredients that we see in the deep political background to the Kennedy assassination are right there in Acapulco where I suspect, for reasons it would take too long to give here, I suspect that the plot was hatched.
ALAN DALE: Wow! I've never heard that before; that's truly astonishing. But when you say a plot was hatched, it doesn't mean that all of the resources were local to that immediate environment, it means that employing the diverse resources for instance of South Florida JM/WAVE station and all of the complexity of whatever role Oswald may have consciously had as a – any one of a number of possibilities: an informer, a low-level provocateur, a disposable asset, a pigeon, a dangle – all of those things, that enough of these criminal elements touch upon each other in ways where one center of authority does not have to have mastery of each separate component. Is that basically correct?
PROFESSOR SCOTT: Yes. I would go along with all of that. All I'm talking about in Acapulco are connections. So the shooter, for example, it's very very unlikely I think that the shooter would have been there, and I don't know who the shooter was. And there's one other thing when we're talking about transnational connections is the French. They keep turning up over and over and over. The day of the assassination a top – he was the top French Intelligence officer in Washington. He was about to resign, or maybe he just resigned - I think he has just resigned; a man called Phillipe Thyraud de Vosjoli. He says: The president has been assassinated; my goodness, I have to get out of America immediately; I can't go to Quebec because there are too many De Gaulle agents up there so I'll go to my friend Frank Brandstetter.
And so he describes how he goes down to Frank Brandstetter in Acapulco. Actually one of the biographies of Brandstetter says that on that particular day Brandstetter was in Dallas, because he had a house in Dallas, and so that Thyraud actually went to Dallas and then the two of them went on to Acapulco. James Angleton had recruited Thyraud de Vosjoli as a double agent.
And, well the short - come back to the Kennedy assassination - we have a CIA document saying that there was a man called Souetre from France in Dallas on that day. It doesn't say he did the shooting, but we do know that Souetre, the Souetre in France that we know about – it's a very unusual name, Souetre - was not just an intelligence agent but one involved with the assassination plots against De Gaulle, so that creates in the background the possibility that the assets trying to shoot De Gaulle had been used by somebody in the CIA to shoot Kennedy.
That I can't prove of course, but it is a matter of record that Thyraud de Vosjoli was Angleton's agent and Thyraud de Vosjoli was one of these people who had become very anti-De Gaulle. His reasons: he's written a book about it called Lamire, which I recommend, where he talks about going to Frank Brandstetter. De Gaulle had become involved with the communists and the communists had now penetrated De Gaulle's network, and by the way, other documents; well, it's in one of the Brandstetter biographies that the same man, Thyraud de Vosjoli, suspected that the communists had penetrated Kennedy's government, which establishes him as being therefore very anti-Kennedy.
And furthermore – this is all so important – one of the Brandstetter biographies shows that Brandstetter shared these political views of De Gaulle, and not only that, talked about Kennedy's complete failure first at the Bay of Pigs – well, there's no debating that – but, more controversially, Kennedy's total failure at the Missile Crisis! Now that is a very, very significant opinion, because that is what some of the top generals - particularly the air force general, General Le May – they felt that a great opportunity had been so totally missed in the Missile Crisis - the opportunity to invade Cuba; that Kennedy's behavior on it was at the best abject, but more possibly traitorous – the word traitorous does come up.
So we're dealing with a state of mind which was – Jim Douglass in his book JFK and The Unspeakable explores that very persuasively. One of the people – two of the people who shared this were Frank Brandstetter and Thyraud de Vosjoli: that Kennedy had let the country down.
ALAN DALE: Let them down and relinquished, basically, the opportunity to make up for the debacle at the Bay of Pigs – that if he wasn't going to go in, if regime change wasn't going to happen, and maybe not only regime change but take advantage of what the Chiefs were desperately encouraging President Kennedy to do, which was…
PROFESSOR SCOTT: Well, yes, people point at this point to the Northwoods documents. Actually the Northwoods documents were not commissioned by the Joint Chiefs of Staff; the Northwoods documents were commissioned by General Lansdale in his capacity as Chief of Operation Mongoose. But they were – for people who haven't heard of them - they're very scary plans; the Joint Chiefs signed off on them in the sense that they forwarded them to Lansdale for Mongoose: that they would stage mock events, including shooting down a plane and killing people.
And so these documents: a lot of people don't know, but they're all there by the way on the Mary Ferrell Foundation website, you can read them for yourself. They don't stop in 1960; the ones that were approved in March. There are other documents, and the thinking continued; it's contingency planning, it's not: we're going to do this; it's more: well, we could do this; this is what we would do if we decided to do something else. But I see a real – as I've said in one of my last books, American War Machine, that Northwoods-type thinking I think went into the Tonkin Gulf incidents - provocations and that some of the Northwoods-type documents were under General Maxwell Taylor who replaced Lemnitzer; the famous ones were under Lemnitzer, and he served out his term and then Kennedy put someone in who he thought was a friend, but actually was really very friendly…
ALAN DALE: I agree completely, and I wonder if Robert Kennedy regretted naming one of his sons after Maxwell Taylor.
PROFESSOR SCOTT: Yes, this is what has to be explored, because Maxwell Taylor was certainly a hawk on Vietnam and I think he was a hawk on Cuba. And the contingency plans could – here again Lamar Waldron has written, not one but actually two books, and I think that he's misguided in thinking that it was a plan to invade – a Plan C - and I've taken him to task for this: there are contingency plans which exist – and they're there on the Mary Ferrell website – but the contingency plans are not actual plans, but they do betray the state of mind of the people who were writing them up and it is very clear, as you yourself said, that the Joint Chiefs haven't let go of the idea of invading Cuba and I do agree by the way with the idea underlying what Roselli leaked to Jack Anderson in '67: that there's an overlap between those plans and what happened in Dallas.
That is, I think, one big possibility, just as the fact that Angleton was in touch with anti-Gaullist members of the French Intelligence, and that they had, apparently, a representative in Dallas on November 22nd. Those are also a possibility, and of course when we come back to Acapulco they overlap, because Thyraud de Vosjili is in Acapulco after the assassination and he - with Frank Brandstetter – and he is French Intelligence, but Frank Brandstetter met Thyraud de Vosjili when they were both in Cuba before Castro took over and Thyraud stayed on in Cuba and claims to have been one of the first warners about Soviet missiles turning up in Cuba, so he is in the background of the Cuban Missile Crisis. It's all one big enchilada to paraphrase… So if you go to Acapulco you haven't given up on the French, you haven't given up… All of them are connected in Acapulco.
ALAN DALE: With regard to the Northwoods mentality, as late as – I mean who knows – it would only be speculation on my part about anything in terms of our modern era, but as late as 1967 some of the principal participants in making executive decisions, who were still on the scene, were engaged in this thing pertaining to the USS Liberty, which they called Operation Cyanide, and USS Liberty was this intelligence ship with no armaments whatsoever. It was off the coast of Egypt and then was attacked, and it's a very vulgar and very ugly and very despicable and terrible and tragic story. And it has, it certainly superficially anyway, looks like exactly one of these false flag kinds of operations. to cover...
PROFESSOR SCOTT: That was a by-product of the Six-Day War, of course. It was in wartime conditions. It was inexcusable but it wasn't, shall we say, totally gratuitous, because Israel did not want Americans to know what they were doing on the mainland so they attacked a US ship. They did.
ALAN DALE: Exactly, yes. With regard to this thing about Souetre, or someone named Michel Michael Mertz using the name Souetre.
PROFESSOR SCOTT: I think Mertz is a scramble to cover for Souetre: I don't think it's Mertz, I think it is Souetre.
ALAN DALE: Well, that's very interesting. And so do we have reason to connect William King Harvey and his QJ/WIN subject - his - one of his ZR/RIFLE employees on salary; $7,200 annually plus expenses – with that figure in Dallas that was picked up and deported either the day of or two days after?
PROFESSOR SCOTT: Well, this is not my area of great strength, but yes, I do think that the fact that the CIA had developed a sort of – in waiting assassination capability in ZR/RIFLE is relevant. The fact that they hid it in the communications section – ZR normally refers to communications, and that's why these various wiretaps down in Mexico City are also a ZR-type operation; a different one, obviously, in the same category, and that Harvey had done that. Yes, Harvey's a suspect in many, many, many ways, and it comes down, actually, that the two top suspects in the CIA, both dead now, were Angleton and Harvey. I don't think they were on the same team, actually, because I think Angleton certainly acts as if he too is suspicious of Harvey, and it is Angleton whose investigations are the source for our knowing that Harvey was seeing Roselli – as late as June of 1963. A little personal note here, I told you that Bobbs-Merrill told me not to have anything about the assassination in my book?
ALAN DALE: Yes
PROFESSOR SCOTT: At the time Bobbs-Merrill's legal adviser was William Harvey.
ALAN DALE: Oh my God! Unbelievable! Truly astonishing.
PROFESSOR SCOTT: What goes around, comes around. Now that doesn't, of itself, again prove anything. It's possible that it was only Harvey in the CIA, and possibly only Angleton, possibly the two of them. But of the two, Angleton certainly had the better connection to Brandstetter, because they both were very – Angleton was the point man on looking for the Soviet mole in the CIA, but Brandstetter was feeding - using his secure line to Mexico City and then Washington from his hotel to communicate information about moles in the CIA, so he and Angleton are on the same team in that department. And there's a very bad book about the Kennedy assassination by a man also called Douglas, but a different Douglas, but it has what purports to be a DIA document in it about Kennedy's behavior, and that they suspected – the DIA suspected Kennedy himself of improper relationships to the KGB, and I think it is true, you see, I mean because of the terrible mistrust between Kennedy and the CIA, and the FBI in 1963, it is true that Kennedy was using his own channels to communicate to Khrushchev because he was trying to defuse the Cold War, starting conspicuously with his June 10th speech, where he said "We are all mortal" and that we cannot go on planning to kill each other because some day, if we don't watch out, we will.
ALAN DALE: No, you're exactly right and a lot of the most thoughtful researchers – a lot of the most thoughtful historians - note that the point at which there is a peaceful resolution to the Cuban Missile Crisis basically freed President Kennedy to pursue the things that he considered to be to the advantage of humanity over the coming decades, and that included not merely the extraordinary admission on June 10th of '63 that we should re-evaluate our attitudes towards the people of the Soviet Union, whose great achievements in everything: in art, in literature, in valor – including losing 20 million people in their opposition to Hitler during World War II, but that wasn't the only thing. He also negotiated and installed a direct line between his desk in the Oval Office and Nikita Khrushchev's desk at the Kremlin, and bypassed some of those Machiavellian necessities of the intelligence agencies and the State Department and all of that. So he was really going out on his own, and in terms of having the…
PROFESSOR SCOTT: Don’t forget the third one, and it doesn't sound like a big deal now, but it was then, he concluded a treaty with the Soviet Union to end open-air testing. The important thing about that was this was the first treaty signed between the United States and the Soviet Union since the treaty in 1955 which neutralized Austria, which was in the interests of both countries. And the reason there had been no treaties is you still had people in the US Government who were planning for the ending of the Soviet Union, and in fact it we had them down to the 1980s, when they were successful. So that for him to have done that was a great shock at the time.
And to come back to this alleged DIA document, which I think could be genuine, to do these things Kennedy had to go outside his regular agencies and that absolutely was a red flag inside the CIA, inside Army Intelligence and for all I know, inside the FBI: enough to make all three of them just say "We have a president here who's out of control and we have to do something about it". So it may have been a very – it may not have involved a great many people, the plot to kill the president, but I think it could very plausibly have involved a great many agencies, because of the fact the Kennedy was operating outside agencies, and that's not normal behavior for a president and is not going to go unnoticed.
ALAN DALE: I understand. Before we conclude, I would like to ask: there's something that I've repeated to a number of people; some of the people with whom I speak away from this program: kind of a startling revelation; not to suggest that any of us know exactly what to make of it, but you are the source, at least for me, of the news that James Angleton delivered the sole eulogy at Howard Hughes' small private memorial service. When you learned about this was it as odd and as – was it in any way unsettling, disturbing to you? How did you react when you learned this?
PROFESSOR SCOTT: Well I reacted – it re-affirmed my basic notions of how this country is run, you know, yes, it's disturbing in the sense that there was that connection but – let me expand a bit on that. You know that the man they called Scelso, whose real name was John Whitten – how he wanted, he was asked, essentially asked by Bobby Kennedy – by one of his people, because he was responsible not only for Mexico but also Panama – to give information from the CIA on the banks which were handling the hot money coming – the skim – coming out of Las Vegas.
And Whitten was going to do this, and JC King, his boss, head of Western Hemisphere, told him "You can't do that,” because – that the FBI should do that, and it was Angleton who gave that order, essentially. Angleton was protecting the casinos in Las Vegas because they were his assets. And so Bobby Kennedy – one of the theories that really triggered it; looking at Kennedy – John Kennedy - and Moscow and peace and so on, but you could also say that Bobby Kennedy, in going after the Mafia, was treading – he was messing up with James Angleton's assets, so it may have been as much on that level as on the other level. But for him to have eulogized Howard Hughes – for me it's good news, in a way: that I'm not totally mad to think that there's a connection! But for people not aware of the connection it would probably be very unsettling, yes.
ALAN DALE: It's truly astonishing, and it is simply the kind of evidence which is most elusive in this kind of undertaking to come to a deeper, better understanding. It is right there: it is right there, and then it's left for us to interpret as best we can. But the fact that someone such as – such a unique, and such a supremely influential figure as James Angleton should have that kind of intimacy with a figure as unique and as I think mysterious and maybe not properly understood, as Howard Hughes, especially in terms of Hughes' role as both a beneficiary and a benefactor to the CIA and as an inevitable source of unlimited $100 bills in the case of how things get done on the street level. I think that this is one of the very real kind of – what would you call it? Not a juxtaposition but a nexus point, where elements of the deep political state are unambiguously connected.
PROFESSOR SCOTT: And it just makes us conclude that to solve the case and to change the government of this country are really one and the same, because the make-up of the power structure in the country at this time is too interwoven with what made the Kennedy assassination happen.
ALAN DALE: Thank you, Professor, for allowing us an extraordinary opportunity: sincerely grateful to you.
PROFESSOR SCOTT: You know this was a good interview. I enjoyed it. You asked wonderful lead questions.
ALAN DALE: Thank you. You've been listening to Conversations, a JFK Lancer production. Good evening.