Saturday, December 06, 2008

From the JFK assassination to spying for Israel?

This is not and will never be a blog primarily (or even secondarily) devoted to rehashing the controversies of the 1960s. We have plenty of current paranoia-fodder to keep us busy, thank you very much.

Even so, Covert History inspired me to look at a new aspect of the JFK assassination. The larger assassination story carries within it a multitude of sub-stories -- paranoid pericopes, if you will. This one seems -- well, just weird. Weird enough to intrigue even those readers who consider the case ancient history.

The central figure in this story is one Frederick S. O'Sullivan, who gave testimony before the Warren Commission. You can read that testimony here. At the time, he was all of 26.

In essence, he says that he is a New Orleans vice cop detective (you may remember that Jim Garrison was once adoringly profiled in a story titled "The Vice Man Cometh") who had once known Oswald in school. More than that: He invited Oswald to join the Civil Air Patrol unit headed by suspected conspirator David Ferrie. Ferrie, as you may know from books or cinema, was the bizarre mobbed-up and spooked-up pilot who had a laughable alibi for his whereabouts on the day of the assassination. He later confessed his intelligence affilations to Assistant D.A. Lou Ivons.

A lot of people have long suspected that Ferrie recruited Oswald into intelligence work during their days in the Civil Air Patrol. O'Sullivan told the Warren Commission that Ferrie and Oswald did not interact at that time. That claim seems rather suspect, to say the least.

(Frankly, I am little surprised to see Commission attorney Liebeler asking about Ferrie, who did not become a figure of public note until later.)

Turns out that Mr. O'Sullivan had a hidden side, or so claims his son Arieh, a journalist living in Israel. (If you think "Arieh O'Sullivan" is a rather improbable name -- well, we'll get to that part soon.) Here's Arieh:
I’d always known my father had been acquainted with Oswald. They had not only grown up half a block away from each other, but had shared homerooms at school. Sitting alphabetically, my old man Fred sat in front of Oswald for years. O’Sullivan next to Oswald.

Sifting through my Dad’s papers I came upon a letter from Jacqueline Kennedy thanking my father for appearing before the commission. It wasn’t something he spoke of often — just a tidbit of information in a life that went on to greater adventures.
Standing before the Warren Commission then, I am sure that young man never fathomed his life would soon become one with a people settling accounts with Nebuchadnezzar, Titus and Hitler.

Growing up, I recall how my father used to say there was more to the JFK assassination than met the eye. He never elaborated and I was brought up not to prod. While we were close, he had his private side too and kept secrets better than anyone I have ever known. Once I stumbled upon a Lebanese driver’s license in his desk drawer with his photo and the mysterious foreign name. He shrugged it off, telling me it was for my own good I not know.

But just before he passed away, I summoned up the courage to ask him: “Who killed JFK?” As if he personally held the secret to the Holy Grail of America’s most puzzling enigma.

“Just Lee,” he said. “By himself.”
We'll take that last statement with a grain of salt.

(Inicidentally, if you go on to read the comments engendered by this story, you'll see a lot of blowhards pontificating about Who Killed JFK while ignoring the rather interesting details in Arieh O'Sullivan's story. That's why I've used boldface. If you speed down the highway intent on your destination, you'll miss diamonds by the roadside.)

The HSCA investigation, conducted in the 1970s, came up with some paperwork on the elder O'Sullivan, to which Covert History links. (Here and here.)

In essence, the very Catholic Frederick O'Sullivan -- identified here as the "Commanding Officer" of the New Orleans PD intelligence division -- converted to Judaism and became a passionate Zionist. He even kept a map of Israel on the wall in his office.
Sergeant O'Sullivan plans to depart the US for Israel during October 1973 and will attend school in that country for six months. He has obtained official leave of absence from his post for six months to one year. [Long redaction] The source believes that the school may be an intelligence school of some sort. The sergeant stated that he has had "a good offer" from Israel and that he may not return to the US.

5. The sergeant's particular interests seem to be terrorist tactics and letter bombs. [Long redaction.]

6. The sergeant told the source that he has to obtain a new US passport before departing the US for Israel. The source reminded the sergeant that he (the sergeant) had been to Israel in 1972 and that his passport is still valid. The sergeant replied: "Yes but they [the passports] were stamped last time". The reference to more than one passport suggests that the sergeant is married and that his wife will accompany him to Israel. The source does not know to what "stamp" the sergeant was referring.
I can answer that last part. Every time you exit or enter a foreign country, your passport will receive a stamp. If your passport has a stamp indicating that you have been to Israel, you may be refused admission to certain Arab countries. Therefore, visitors to Israel who plan to visit other nations often receive a second passport. (At least, this is the way it used to be; I'm not sure if a new system is in place.)

O'Sullivan obviously planned to go not just to Israel but to an Arab country. Obviously, Mossad had recruited him to spy for Israel. That is the only explanation for the mysterious driver's license, which was part of a "legend" designed to portray him as a Lebanese. (Israel was on good terms with Lebanon in those days; the license may not have been fake.)

Did O'Sullivan spy for Uncle Sam before he spied for Israel? We don't have ironclad proof, but that's the way to bet. The passport stamp situation tells us that he had made plans to do espionage work even before he went back to Israel for "spy school." That fact suggests that he had already received training.

The CIA had a program of seeding Agency personnel into the police departments of America's larger cities. This practice was against the CIA's charter, but it was done nonetheless. Armed with that information, re-read this line:
He has obtained official leave of absence from his post for six months to one year.
Two obvious conclusions:

1. In 1973, O'Sullivan was keeping his options open; he was not yet committed 100% to relocation to Israel.

2. It's highly unusual for a cop to be granted a year's leave. I think it is fair to presume that O'Sullivan had friends in Washington (or Langley) who helped him with these arrangements.

James Jesus Angleton -- convincingly fingered by John Newman as the mastermind of the JFK assassination -- was not just the CIA's chief of counterintelligence; he also was the CIA's primary liaison to Israel.

I think that one other piece of evidence is suggestive. O'Sullivan rose to prominence within the NOPD with extreme rapidity. I suspect that he had what the Israelis call "a horse" -- i.e., someone pulling for him.

What does it all mean? Obviously, I am not trying to imply that Israel had anything to do with JFK's murder. (Both pro- and anti-Israel fanatics may nevertheless miscontrue my words in that direction; I am not responsible for their foolishness.) However, I consider it of some interest that someone with O'Sullivan's "spooky" resume would have introduced Lee Harvey Oswald to Dave Ferrie's Civil Air Patrol Unit. This man's history suggests the possibility -- a strong possibility, in my view -- that Ferrie was the person who recruited the adventure-seeking Frederick O'Sullivan into the world of intelligence.

Perhaps O'Sullivan was not the only one.

What, I wonder, was O'Sullivan's role during the Garrison investigation?


Anonymous said...

Back in the 50's and 60's there were some weird, incestuous relationships between the CIA, FBI, the military, the police, organized crime, the oil business, Cuban refugees, United Fruit and Ivy League universities. There were also connections to some mysterious organizations as well as groups like the Klan.

Over and over in Congressional and other official investigations you see guys like Ferrie turn up in unusual places with powerful friends.

Most of those investigations have classified stuff they still won't release. But the stuff they have released is bizarre and scary.

Our tax dollars at work.

Anonymous said...

So wise Joe, figure this one out (it's easier than JFK's assassination). What is the blueprint of here:

It took me a few seconds to figure it out. When I did, the names on the blueprint checked out with the same names in The Washington Post arrticle Thursday.