“In an era dominated by corporate journalism and an ideological right-wing media, Russ Baker’s work stands out for its fierce independence, fact-based reporting, and concern for what matters most to our democracy…A lot of us look to Russ to tell us what we didn’t know.” —Bill Moyers, author and host, Bill Moyers’ Journal (PBS)
There is probably nobody more important or laboriously multi-faceted character in all of Kennedy assassination literature than George de Mohrenschildt, the White Russian aristocrat, who met the Oswalds in Dallas, after their return form the USSR, and proceeded to introduce them to a key group of very highly connected oil and intelligence volk in the booming city's ever more influential petroleum circle. It was de Mohrenschildt who introduced to the Oswalds to the Paines, who put up Marina Oswald and her children, and who took such strange and detailed interest in the life of a professed "Marxist" defector to the Soviet Union's repatriation to the single most rightwing metropolis on the face of the earth. (Later it would be discovered that the both Paines had an immediate family history that was inseparable from US intelligence history.)
For much more on the fascinating Ruth Hyde Paine see http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/JFKpaine.htm
(SEE SPARTACUS THREAD ON DE MOHRENSCHILDT FOR MORE ON THIS KEYSTONE FIGURE. THE GREAT THING ABOUT THE SPARTACUS THREADS ARE THE NUMEROUS DIFFERENT SOURCES, WHICH ARE DIRECTLY EXCERPTED AT THE BOTTOM OF EACH PATE. INVALUABLE RESOURCE, PROVIDED BY JOHN SIMKIN http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/JF ... childt.htm
Russ Baker, in his new book Family of Secrets, has discovered a wealth of incredible detail that connects the de Mohrenschildt family with the Bush family on many different levels long before Oswald's #1 CIA handler ever met the returning marine and his Russian wife in Dallas in 1962. Baker traces these direct, high level intelligence and economic relations between the families of Bush and de Mohrenschildt right back to 1917 and shows that they also involved those at the summit of US diplomacy, including, Wilson's Secretary of State Lansing, Allen Dulles, and key Houston Anglophile (and Petrophile) Colonel Edward House, as well as the ancestors
of Bush Uber-aid, James A. Baker III.These ties are described in great detail, were not passing in nature, and are between five and seven closer than the "six degrees" type with which we have been encouraged to glaze over political history in recent years.
Then, barely into his new job as director of the CIA in 1976-- a job that he claimed was his first work for the Agency, but which is proven blatantly false by this book-- George H.W. Bush received this desperate plea for help from his old personal and family acquaintance:
Maybe you will be able to bring a solution into the hopeless
situation I find myself in. My wife and I find ourselves sur-
rounded by some vigilantes; our phone bugged; and we are
being followed everywhere. Either FBI is involved in this or
they do not want to accept my complaints. We are driven to
insanity by this situation... I tried to write, stupidly and un-
successfully , about Lee H. Oswald and must have angered
people... Could you do something to remove this net around
us? THis will be my last request for help and I will not annoy
you any more.
The writer signed himself "G. de Mohrenschildt."(1) p. 67.
The CIA assumed the latter writer to be a crank, Just to be sure, however, they asked their boss: did he by any chance know a man named de Mohrenschildt?
Bush Responded by Memo, seemingly, self-typed: "I do know this man DeMohrenschildt. I first men [sic] him in the early 40'3 [sic]. He was an uncle to my Andover roommate. Later he surfaced in Dallas (50's maybe)... Then he surfaced when Oswald shot to prominence. He knew Oswald before the assassination of Pres. Kennedy. I don't recall his role in all this."
Half a year later, de Mohrenschildt was dead. It was one of the most suspicious deaths in a very long list associated with the Kennedy assassination and its investigation. The death occurred just two days before de Mohrenschildt was scheduled to testify before the House Select Committee on Assassinations, and only around an hour after an interview with a journalist employed by Time-Life, the single most intelligence connected media company in US history, and a company present at nearly every crucial turn of the investigations long history-- including the purchase and storage of the Zapruder film by top Psychological Warfare expert and Henry Luce's Far Right hand, C.D. Jackson (see Spartacus thread). Here is more from Russ Baker's incredible book. While it is very difficult to capture how the pieces fit together in a book filled with such byzantine detail-- yet also impeccable documentation-- this passage is useful in showing that the assassination was much more than a case of spies and individuals disconnected form clear policy forks in the road. On the contrary, vast structures of political and economic power were involved in such a way as to constantly remind us of the single, vulgar reality: when Allan Dulles plaid midwife to the CIA, the manger was Wall Street.
Cuba Si, Cuba No
During the 1950's, as petroleum reserves in the Southwest declined, oilmen there were looking to the southern hemisphere for new opportunities. George de Mohrenschildt, who always seemed to move at the behest of people of higher rank than himself, turned to Cuba. He later told the Warren Commission that he left the Buckley's [as in William F.] Pantepec Oil back in 1946 after a falling-out with a company vice president. Yet by 1950 he was working with his former boss, Pantepec president Warren Smith, on the latter's new firm called the Cuban-Venezuelan Oil Voting Trust Company (CVOVT). In passing, de Mohrenschildt mentioned to the commission that the CVOVT had managed to obtain leases covering nearly half of Cuba. He appears to have been telling the truth, but Warren Commission counsel Albert E. Jenner Jr. did not find this remarkable fact interesting. (21)
This showed that de Mohrenschildt was no rogue operator or bohemian-- as Jenner repeatedly sought to characterize him. Rather he was at the center of a major corporate effort, involving many of America's largest institutions. Through connections in the Batista regime, the CVOVT had managed to corner exclusive exploration rights to millions of acres on the island. Like all foreign businesses operating in Cuba, it had to work through the dictator's American intermediaries, notably, the mobster Meyer Lansky, who was de facto representative of American "interests" on the island(22).
The CVOVT never amounted to much besides promising reports and modest production(23) Still it became a Wall Street darling. Though now almost completely forgotten, on many days in the mid-1950's, it was one of the four or five most actively traded issue on the American Stock Exchange. By November 30, 1956, the New York Times had this announcement:
The Cuban Stanolind Oil Company, an affiliate of the Standard Oil
Company (Indiana), has signed an agreement with the Cuban Ven-
ezuaelan Oil Voting Trust and Trans-Cuba Oil Company for the
development of an additional 3,000,000 acres in Cuba. This is in
addition to the original agreement covering 12,000,000, acres.
Stanolind has agreed to start drilling within 120 days and maintain
a one-rig continuous drilling program [for] three years (24)
This was apparently a big deal for companies like Stanolind, which had no foreign production at all until it went into Cuba. Affording to its filing, it was formed in Havana in 1950 "to assure continuity of management and stability of policy for shareholders of twenty-four oil companies in South America" (25) That is it was some kind of holding company with a focus on "Stability" in Latin American countries, which could reasonably be assumed to refer to creating conditions of political stability favorable to the exploration activities.
The Empire Trust Company, a New York-based bastion of power and wealth, appears to have played a key role in the financing of the Cuban venture. A short item in the New York Times of May 14, 1956, noted:
Election of Charles LEslie Rice, a vice president of the Empire
Trust Company of New York, as a voting trustee of the Cuban-
Venezuelan Oil Voting Trust, was announced over the week-end.
Empire Trust's John Loeb had a network of associates that amounted to "something very like a private CIA," wrote Stephen Birmingham in Our Crowd: The Great Jewish Families of
New York.(26) Empire worked hard to protect its foreign investments and especially its stake in the defense contractor General Dynamics. Empire entrusted its affairs in Texas to Baker Botts, the law firm of James Baker's family(27) Besides Rice, another Empire Trust director was Lewis MacNaughton, a Dresser Industries board member from 1959 to 1967.
[Dresser industries, as Baker shows earlier in the book, was an oil drilling equipment company with global intelligence connections that in some ways remind one of Howard Hughes Hughes Tool Co. The company connected the Harriman, Bush, Walker and Mallon families, and was a key platform for both H.W. Bush's political career in Taxes and, in the more literal sense, for CIA operations against Fidel Castro's Cuba in the late 1950's and the early (but how late??) 1960s --N.H.]
MacNaughton was the employer of George Bouhe, the Russian emigre who would later introduce George de Mohrenschildt to Lee Harvey Oswald. Perhaps the most curious of the Empire Trust figures was Jack Crichton, a longtime company vice president who joined Empire in August 1953 and remained through 1962. (28)
Crichton, who had been hired soon after leaving the military in 1946 by oil industry wunderkind Everette DeGolyer, quickly, quickly became a go-to guy for numerous powerful interests seeking a foothold in the energy arena. He started and ran a baffling array of companies, which tended to change names frequently. These operated largely bellow the radar, and fronted for some of North America's biggest names, including the Bronfmans (Seagram's liquor), the Du Ponts, and the Kuhn-Loeb family of financiers. According to his former lawyer Crichton traveled to the Middle East on oil-related intelligence business. On behalf of prominent interests, he was involved with George de Mohrenschildt in his oil exploration venture in Pre-Castro Cuba. In a 2001 oral history, Crichton volunteered that he was a friend of George de Mohrenschildt's: "I liked George. He was a nice guy." (29)
By 1956, in addition to his other duties, Crichton started a military intelligence reserve unit on the side. (30) On the day of Kennedy's assassination, as will be elaborated upon in Chapter 7, he would arrange for a member of the Dallas Russian Community to rush to Marina Oswald's side and provide translations for investigators--which were far from literal translations of her Russian words and had the effect of implicating her husband in Kennedy's death. Shortly after the assassination, Crichton would become the GOP nominee for governor of Texas in a race against the incumbent John Connally, who had recovered from his wounds of November 22. On the same ticker was the Republican nominee for the United States Senate, Poppy Bush. Unfortunately for the rich and powerful behind the Cuban oil venture in the 19560s, just as the possibility of extracting vast wealth from that small island drew increasing interest from Wall Street, Fidel Castro's revolution was gaining strength. At the same time, what look to have been intelligence operations under oil industry cover were moving into position, as Poppy Bush began moving his rigs to Howard Hughes's Cay Sal Bank in the Bahamas.
On January 1, 1959, Fulgencio Batista fled Cuba, and the next day Casto's Army marched into Havana.
On November 22, 1959, the New York Times reported that the new Cuban government had approved a law that would reduce the size of private companies. These claims were now limited to twenty thousand acres, a major setback for companies such as CVOVT, with its fifteen million acres. (31).
According to the Times, big foreign oil companies had already spent more than thirty million dollars looking for oil over the preceding twelve years. The article cited petroleum industry sources speculating that nationalization of the refining industry was soon to come. The government also imposed a 60 per cent royalty on oil production believed to be the highest anywhere. Standard Oil of New Jersey had, according to the article invested thirty-five million dollars in a Cuban refinery, and other companies had invested comparable sums. (32)
Among other things, the new law put an end to the go-go days of the Cuban-Venezuelan Oil Voting Trust stock. That story was summed up neatly in William A. Doyle's syndicated advice column, the Daily Investor," on August 14, 1961:
Q.I bought some shares of Cuban-Venezuelan Oil Voting Trust a couple years ago.
This stock was listed on the American Stock Exchange but I never see it quoted
there any more. What's the trouble?
A. The trouble is spelled C-a-s-t-r-o.When that bearded dictator took over the
government in Cuba, he started kicking American investors smack in the pocket-
book. The Cuban-Venezuelan Oil Voting Trust story is somewhat involved. But
its chief cause of grief came when the Communist-oriented Cuban government
refused to explore its concession to explore for oil. That just about wrecked this
outfit. The stock's price dropped. You won't find the shares quoted on the
American Stock Exchange, because this stock was de-listed from that exchange,
as of Dec. 1, 1960. Technically, it is still possible to buy and sell these shares in
the over-the-counter market. But you'll be lucky if you can get 10 cents a share.(33)
Brown Brothers Harriman [very very close Bush-Malon ties discussed earlier in book] also had a stake in Cuban affairs that went back at least to the 1920's. ITs affiliate, the Punta Alegre Sugar Corporation, controlled more than two hundred thousand acres in the province of Cameguey (34). Officials of the firm served on the board of Punta Alegre up to the moment that Castro expropriated its land-- and even afterward, as the sugar company began moving its remaining assets to the United States.
The CIA's Allen Dulles responded quickly to developments on the island. He created the Cuban Task Force, with teams in charge of clandestine operations, psychological warfare, and economic and diplomatic pressure. Out of these emerged Operation 40, an elite group of Cuban exiles who, after specialized training, were to infiltrate Cuba and deal a mortal blow to the revolution, including the assassination of its principal leaders.
The chief of the task force was Tracy Barnes, a Yale graduate and Dulles's wartime OSS comrade who was related to the Rockefeller clan by marriage. More than a decade earlier, Barnes's first CIA job had been as deputy director of the Psychological Strategy Board, a little-known entity that explored everything from the use of psychotropic drugs as truth serum to the possibility of engineering unwitting assassins, i.e. Manchurian Candidates. Later, he worked on the successful 1954 operation to overthrow the democratically elected president of Guatemala, Jacobo Arbenz. Barnes had received propaganda support form David Atlee Phillips and E. Howard Hunt, including the distribution of faked photographs
purporting to show the mutilated bodies of Arbenz opponents.
Phillips and Hunt would be hounded by allegations that they had been present in Dallas on November 22, 1963. Both men consistently denied it. But according to his son St. John Hunt, E. Howard began confessing knowledge of a plot against Kennedy near the end of his life and named Phillips as one of the participants.(35)
Hunt and Phillips attended the first meeting of the Cuba Task Force, held January 18, 1960 in Barnes office. Barnes spoke at length on the objectives. He explained that Air Force General Charles Cabell, a Texan (and brother of Dallas's mayor), would be in charge of air cover for an invasion, and that VIce President Richard Nixon, whose brief included some national security areas, was the administration's Cuba "case officer."
In his memoirs, former Cuban intelligence official Fabian Escalante asserted that Nixon had met with an important group of Texas businessmen to arrange outside funding for the operation. Escalente, whose service was vaunted for its U.S. spy network, claimed that the Texas group was headed by George H.W. Bush and Jack Crichton. Escalente's assertion cannot be easily dismissed: Crichton's role in covert operations, about which extensive new information is provided in chapter 7 was little understood at the time Escalante published his memoirs. (36)
In March 1960, the Eisenhower administration signed off on a plan to equip and train Cuban exiles, and drills soon began in Florida and Guatemala. One of Dulles's top three aides, the covert operations chief Richard M. Bissell (Yale '32), was made director. Around this time, George de Mohrenschildt happened to take a business trip to Mexico City , where the CIA station was deeply involved in the coming attractions.
By the fall of 1962, when de Mohrehschildt was devoting much of his time to squiring Lee Harvey Oswald, he had gained entree to the creme de la creme of the petroleum world. One longtime buddy of his and of Poppy Bush's, offshore drilling expert George Kitchel, would tell the FBI in 1964 that de Mohrenschildt counted among his good fiends the oil tycoons Clint Murchison, H.L. Hunt, John Mecom, and Sid Richardson. Other commission testimony revealed that in the couple of years prior to the Kennedy assassination, de Mohrenschildt had traveled frequently from Dallas to Houston, where he visited with figures such as George Brown of Brown and Root, the construction and military contracting giant that helped launch LBJ's career, and Jean de Menil of Schlumberger, the huge oil services firm.
Several of these men had even sent de Mohrenschild abroad on business; one could be forgiven for wondering if these trips were in fact what the CIA calls "commercial cover." George Brown had dispatched him to Mexico, where his mission seemed to be heading off a Mexican government oil deal with the Soviet deputy premier Anastas Mikoyan, who arrived at the same time. (37) Murchison dispatched him to Haiti on several occasions. In 1958, he went to Yugoslavia on what was said to be business for Mecom--whose foundation, the San Jacinto Fund, was later identified as a CIA funding conduit.
The Warren Commission knew at least pieces of all this. Yet in 1964, after two and a half days of testimony by George de Mohrenschildt and his wife Jeanne, the commission would conclude that George was essentially an eccentric if well-connceted figure whose life encompassed a series of strange coincidences. (Family of Secrets: The Bush Dynasty, The Powerful Forces That Put It Into the White House, and What Their Influence Means For America) p. 79-84)