"The Man Who Knew Too Much"
by LACHY HULME
There is something intrinsically dark and terrifying about
the murder of John F. Kennedy, something murky that gnaws away at our gut and
implores us to look closer. To look at something just underneath the surface.
To look at something evil.
When you move past the grainy black and white imagery of
young Lee Harvey Oswald being roughhoused down the hallways of Dallas Police
Headquarters, and when you sagely reject the accompanying "lone nut assassin"
rationale, you will part the curtains and find yourself in a parallel cosmos, a
clandestine netherworld filled with CIA rogues, Mafia wiseguys, Cuban-Exile
fanatics, cash-soaked Oil Men and seditious Cold Warriors. This is a Cimmerian
place, a grotesque place populated with its own cast of characters and its own set
of rules. This place is the shameful arena where the plot to kill Kennedy was
born, and if previous examinations of this tragedy have been told from the
outside looking in, then prepare yourself: This book is the JFK conspiracy from
the inside looking out.
This is the
true story of Richard Case Nagell.
A tough-as-nails war hero turned deep-cover spy, Nagell's
mysterious legend and oft-whispered name has floated ghost-like through the
various Kennedy assassination investigations for decades. There was the Warren
Commission, which predictably ignored him; the Garrison investigation, which
wanted him, but couldn't get him; and the House Select Committee on
Assassinations, which ran screaming in the opposite direction. But they all
knew, like many of us who have waded through this swamp for years, that Richard
Case Nagell was the nasty little hand grenade of the JFK conspiracy the man
who could blow the lid off its deepest, darkest secrets. And despite his lack
of official "recognition" from those various investigative bodies (Garrison's
attempts aside), the fact is that Nagell had never once not once
in the thirty-three years since Kennedy's death until his own in 1995 tried
to cash in on his infamy with a detailed "confession" or "tell all" book. But somebody,
somehow, had to track Nagell down and convince him to go on the record.
Somebody had to grab the hand grenade and pull the pin.
Enter Dick Russell, who in 1975 as a young, dogged, and
irresistibly incorrigible journalist,
ventured west to Los Angeles and found himself face-to-face with the man who
would intermittently consume his professional career for the next three
To say that Nagell and Russell's relationship was a complex
one would be an understatement; to say that it was by turns frustrating,
electrifying, terrifying and ultimately heartbreaking would be closer to the
mark. Theirs was a non-stop game of high stakes poker, and in a tremendous test
of Russell's mettle, Nagell was definitely, and deliberately, holding all
the cards. He was, in short, a journalist's worst nightmare. Nevertheless, the
intrepid Russell somehow constructed an unprecedented level of trust and
respect with a man too battered and bruised to trust and respect anyone. He
learned how to speak Nagell's language, and more importantly, he taught himself
how to decipher Nagell's code that remarkably calculating
idiom utilized by the veteran spy to impart his inside information on the
Kennedy case under the guise of innocuous conversation or verbal jousting. With
Nagell, every locution was another cryptic clue along the darkened path to the
final truth about who killed John F. Kennedy and why, and fortunately for that
elusive truth, Russell had the smarts to unravel Nagell's shrouded leads, and
the daring to
wade gamely back into that swamp from which Nagell had barely survived.
Russell has set forth and dredged up the secret histories of
men like Desmond FitzGerald, H. L. Hunt, John Paisley, Winston Scott, Rolando
Masferrer Rojas, Major General Charles Willoughby and, of course, Nagell's
maligned former protégé, Lee Harvey Oswald, to name but a few. Further, he has
located, confronted and cornered a veritable barrage of
participants in, and witnesses to, this sad saga, including Antonio
Veciana, James Jesus Angleton, Colonel William C. Bishop, Major General Edwin
A. Walker, John Curington, George de Mohrenschildt, and John Thomas Masen,
convincing these, and many more, to go on the record some for the first and
And, in perhaps his most outstanding journalistic
contribution, Russell has brought to light the hitherto unknown roles of two
disparate men and their involvement in this historical tragedy: The first being
Canadian correspondent Mark Julius Gayn, the second being the venerable Judge
Homer Thornberry. You will learn of their caliginous actions within.
So, too, will you learn about the enigmatic anti-hero of
this remarkable tale, and the first thing you will learn is this: Richard Case
Nagell was no Mr. Nice Guy. He was, at judicious points in his career, a
meticulous, cunning, cold-blooded operator. Trained to within an inch of his
life in everything from lock-picking to neck-breaking, Nagell was the type of
guy who could rip out your heart and show it to you while it was still beating,
such was the extent of his expertise. Yet Nagell also had one overriding
personality trait that would bless him with both his ascension and his
downfall: The man had a conscience. In another fine example of Russell's
documentation, Nagell's conscience becomes a major character
in this narrative, populated as it is with individuals possessed of no
conscience at all. It was conscience that fueled Nagell's assiduous patriotism,
seeing him emerge as the youngest American soldier promoted to captain during
the course of the Korean War. Ten years later, it was conscience again that
dictated Nagell's decision to dispatch a registered letter to the FBI, warning
J. Edgar Hoover of the burgeoning conspiracy to assassinate President Kennedy
(an audacious gamble on Nagell's behalf which, among other things, provided the
impetus for this book).
Further, Nagell's conscience translated directly into
heroism, and it was this rare and heady combination of killer instinct, moral
probity and unwavering courage that made Richard Case Nagell the most
fascinating and human character in the Kennedy assassination lexicon.
From 1963 to
1995, however, it also made him the most dangerous.
Over the past forty years since John F. Kennedy was killed,
the most common question regarding Nagell has become: "If he knew so damned
much about who killed Kennedy, then why wasn't he silenced long ago?" Indeed,
as anyone who knows anything about the JFK conspiracy jigsaw will tell you, the
roster of so-called "Mysterious Deaths" in this case is a daunting pile of
bloody corpses that cannot be squared away. The amount of recorded "suicides"
alone confirms that the participants and witnesses to this conspiracy were
either the most depressed group of individuals to ever walk the face of the
earth, or something sinister was afoot. Moreover, this monumental body
count which reads like the casualty list from a small war is our best
indication that the confederates responsible for Kennedy's murder were a very
powerful assembly indeed. They had the resources and personnel not only to
eliminate a president, but to track down, monitor and execute any
dissenting link in the chain who reared his or her talkative head.
Yet Nagell somehow endured, in itself an astonishing display
of adroitness when one considers the sheer arrogance and audacity of these witness
Immediately following publication of the laughable Warren
Report and its intriguing appendices and at precisely the same time
that independent researchers began questioning the Report's preposterous conclusions
this first wave of witnesses were forever wiped from the face of the
Earth. They had names that you may or
may not know lives that have been reduced to historical footnotes but they
were men and women yanked down into this quagmire all the same: Gary Underhill,
Rose Cheramie, Betty McDonald, and Lieutenant Commander William Bruce Pitzer
were just some of those eliminated. During Jim Garrison's rollercoaster
investigation a mere two years later, the swaggering D.A. wrapped his paws
around a clutch of middle-management conspiracy bit-players like Jack Ruby,
Eladio "Yito" del Valle, General Charles Cabell, and everybody's favorite human
Halloween costume, David W. Ferrie. None of these suspects or
roughly twenty other individuals relevant to Garrison's case would
have their day in court either. Six years after Garrison's prosecution of CIA
cut-out Clay Shaw disintegrated, Senator Frank Church's unprecedented inquiries
into the U.S. intelligence community and its resultant House Select Committee on
Assassinations would unleash an authentic bloodbath that spanned the better
part of a decade. And this time the targets were hardly the peripheral grunts
of the JFK conspiracy; rather, it was the seemingly omnipotent command level
that started turning up deceased if, of course, their bodies turned up at all.
This conspiracy-connected death toll from the 1970s
is far too diverse and extensive to list in full here, but consider just some
of the power brokers lugged away in body bags: The Mob triumvirate of Jimmy
Hoffa, John Rosselli, and Sam "Momo" Giancana; the CIA's assassination overlord
William Harvey (a sweltering mound of alcoholic blubber that many consider to
be the vindictive mastermind behind the ambush in Dallas); and perhaps more
intriguingly, the aforementioned John Paisley, a high-ranking CIA analyst, and
Rolando Masferrer Rojas, a drug-dealing waste of oxygen who was intimately
involved with the Cuban-Exile underground. Nagell would place great
significance on the murders of these last two men, sending the dauntless
Russell down yet more precarious paths. The results of those inquiries are
recorded fastidiously herein.
But how do you kill a man like Richard Case Nagell? From the moment he was baptized into the
surreptitious underbelly of intelligence work, Nagell would possess an
unparalleled edge over his pursuers, proving himself a far more difficult
quarry than the handful of names listed above. As you will soon discover, the attempts on his life were extensive and
well-documented, and further, they demonstrated an increasing level of outright
to kill him as the years went by. As Russell amply demonstrates, however, these
murderous efforts ran parallel to the U.S. government's far more damaging
stratagem: Namely, to assault Nagell's credibility, to incarcerate him and
demand his submission, and to reduce his reputation to that of a caricatured
mental patient. This unceasing effort to defame and disgrace a one-time
favorite son almost succeeded in tainting virtually anything and everything
that Nagell knew about the inner-workings of the Kennedy conspiracy which, of
course, was precisely the point.
But there were two almost intangible factors that his
attackers didn't count on: The first being Nagell's almost Lazarus-like powers
of resurrection; the second being Dick Russell, who has hammered through the
cracks of official cement to bring you this remarkable story in a revised and
expanded edition. And in a testament to the integrity of this book's original
publication, not one iota of the new testimony or recently declassified
material presented inside contradicts Russell's original findings; in fact,
they only serve to strengthen them.
And if you somehow remain unconvinced that the journey you
are about to embark upon won't prove to be the most galvanizing study of the
Kennedy assassination you've ever encountered, then ask yourself one simple
What would you
do if you could stop the assassination of JFK?
Would you forego your family? Your honor? Would you
sacrifice your respect and reputation? Would you relinquish your freedom,
your safety, and further, your very sanity, to save the life of a man
you've never met?
In 1963, one
awaits you within . . .
Australia, March 2003
Lachy Hulme is
an actor and screenwriter. His credits include Men With Guns, Four
Jacks, Let's Get Skase, The Matrix Reloaded, The
Matrix Revolutions, and the forthcoming When We Were Modern, as
Australian artist Albert Tucker.
Foreword ©2003 by Lachy Hulme. All Rights (by all media)