JFK Killing: Deathbed Confession From Key CIA Figure Implicated LBJ
E. Howard Hunt was a key political figure during the 1950s and 60s. He graduated from Brown University, served in WWII, and joined the CIA in 1949. Stationed in Mexico City, he supervised conservative William F. Buckley. In Guatemala, he helped overthrow the government, partly by airing radio broadcasts from Florida but pretending to be in the jungle with a guerrilla army.
St. John Hunt St. John Hunt in 1972, "the week of Watergate," he says.
After stints in Japan and Uruguay, Hunt was sent to Cuba to help organize rebels to take over the government once the CIA ousted Castro in the Bay of Pigs invasion -- except, the Bay of Pigs failed.
This had two big consequences for Hunt: (1) He came to resent John F. Kennedy for not being more committed to overthrow Castro, and (2) His job changed to focus on domestic issues -- he became "the first Chief of Covert Action for the CIA's Domestic Operations Division," under the Kennedy Administration. Part of his job was to give false information to and mislead news organizations.
In 1970, he retired from the CIA and joined Nixon's White House, as part of the "President's Special Investigations Unit, also known as the "White House Plumbers." In 1972, he and G.Gordon Liddy recruited five men (most Cubans) to break into the offices of the Democratic National Committee at the Watergate building, thus igniting one of America's biggest scandals.
After Hunt served 33 months in prison (he pleaded guilty right after his wife died in a mysterious plane crash), he wrote spy novels and lived in Miami. Because of his clandestine past, conflicting testimony he gave during Watergate investigations, and his professional truth-fudging, there is still a lot of mystery around things he said and did in his life. One of the biggest questions is: Where was he when JFK was killed, and what did he know about it?
We talked to his son, Saint John Hunt, who wrote a book called Bond of Secrecy, about his father. The younger Hunt moved to Fort Lauderdale a few months ago.
Saint John says he worked in health care for 12 years but is seeking work in the hotel business now.
Says Saint John: "My book is more of a story of my life with my father -- what it was like growing up with my dad. We never got along very well. He was deeply, deeply embedded and entrenched in political action. Until I was 16, I was led to believe he was in the State Department."
He remembers his governess in Japan and his French school in Uruguay. "My father was absent; my mother was a socialite. Some people alleged that she was CIA also, and I find that very credible."
The family returned to D.C. in 1960 or '61, and "my father was organizing the Bay of Pigs in South Florida. He spoke a few languages, was good at organizational skills, knew how to recruit. William F. Buckley is my godfather, although when Watergate blew up, he distanced himself from my dad."
St. John says his dad's work in Guatemala was genius: "The radio beamed messages in Guatemala as though troops were descending in the capital. My dad had just prerecorded those tapes in his office. Machine guns, aircraft --- none of it was real. But he freaked out the military in a three-day period -- he cut into all the radio stations. He was a mastermind. In fear of lives, the military government, they surrendered -- they just gave up. He was gifted in psychological warfare. He overthrew an entire country with tape loops. He was the CIA's number-one genius."
Then, when the U.S. was having "a little problem with Cuba," Hunt Sr. "organized the first anti Castro movements." Guerrillas he recruited would later reappear as burglars in the Watergate scandal.
Says St. John: "Kennedy in his first year of office" learns of the CIA plan to overthrow Castro -- he and his brother Bobby went over the Cuba project and said, 'This is just appalling!' There were training camps in New Orleans and South Florida training mercenaries to attack Cuba -- Mafia/CIA plots -- and they said, "This is insane; it's gotta stop.' So Bobby Kennedy ordered FBI raids in Miami and New Orleans -- they busted these CIA-funded training camps.
"Bobby said, 'I will splinter the CIA into a thousand pieces -- he fired Allen Dulles, my dad's boss, and my dad was demoted after the failed invasion of Cuba. [Kennedy did go along with the Bay of Pigs, but he didn't want the USA linked]... A lot of people had a lot of reasons to get rid of JFK. He was hated by everybody in the military-industrial complex -- warmongers, big business, oil guys."
Kennedy wanted to "end the war in Vietnam, go back to the gold standard, reduce military expenditures. He was a visionary and had to be gotten rid of."