July 31st, 2007

New Book: THE ZENITH SECRET by Captain Bradley E. Ayers / Rebuttals to BBC piece re CIA goons at RFK murder

Posted in JFK, Reading, Sorrows of Empire by ed

1. Lisa Pease, a respected JFK researcher, responds negatively to Shane O’Sullivan’s recently unveiled alleged video evidence that CIA goons David Morales, Gordon Campbell and George Joannides were at the Ambassador Hotel in California the evening RFK was murdered. See her blog.

(Navigation note: The blog link actually takes you to the Comments to Pease’s “review” of O’Sullivan, rather than her review itself. For the latter, click the “Show Original Post” link you’ll see atop the Comments page.)

Also note that the Comments include a reply by O’Sullivan.

On its face Pease’s rebuttal lacks substance, in that she doesn’t engage the substance of O’Sullivan’s report.

Rather, she says in rather a priori fashion that she cannot believe the CIA would be dumb enough to send men involved in JFK’s murder to kill his brother. The premises underlying this statement seem to me likely false. She would do better to directly address O’Sullivan’s evidence.

She also implies guardedly that O’Sullivan’s thesis doesn’t congrue with new evidence re RFK’s death currently in her hands but unpublished. One senses this is the gist of her negative reaction.

Nevertheless, she is someone to consider seriously in these matters. Also see her journalistic website — Real History Archives.

And see the earlier, excellent, site about the JFK murder primarily — Citizens for Truth about the Kennedy Assassination, or CTKA — which came out of PROBE magazine, which Pease produced with Jim DiEugenio.

2. A stronger rebuttal has been published by Jefferson Morley (journalist well acquainted with these matters — see his article, posted as the second Comment here) and David Talbot (founder of Salon.com and author of this year’s very good book, focused on Robert Kennedy’s experience post JFK murder, entitled Brothers).

Then again, if you follow up to a great resource page you will find that O’Sullivan’s own rebuttal to Morley/Talbot also has merit.

For now I tend to agree with Sullivan that the Morley/Talbot piece is off-center of its supposedly intended target.

The O’Sullivan BBC video (12 minutes) is also linked at the resource page.

3. O’Sullivan’s video relies heavily on the career and investigations of Bradley E. Ayers — a former Army Ranger captain who was dealt by the Pentagon into the cesspool of the early 60s CIA to train the anti-Castro cubans the CIA was still organizing post Bay of Pigs to harass Cuba.

Ayers has just this year published a book — THE ZENITH SECRET. Which I have just completed reading cover to cover. Despite the microscopic type in which it was set.

ZENITH SECRET is uneven but full of important things. Must be read.

It was published by Vox Pop, a Brooklyn bookstore run by Sander Hicks, the founder of Soft Skull Press and publisher of J.H. Hatfield’s FORTUNATE SON, the must-read biography of baby Bush.)

Having just read ZENITH SECRET and the rebuttals of O’Sullivan’s BBC piece by Morley, Talbot and Pease, I’m in a bit of a Barbaric Bog, sans solid opinion. So for the moment will cease trying to have one.

Instead, a few observations:

(a) Ayers writes in his Epilogue that after

multiple viewings of the Ambassador Hotel ballroom videotapes … my initial identifications [from photos] of Morales and Campbell were confirmed for the record. (p262).

Ayers never mentions Joannides in his book, and I guess he never met him. But he was well acquainted with Morales and Campbell.

(b) Morley/Talbot write, in their short piece:

Gordon Campbell, it turns out, was not the deputy station chief in the CIA’s Miami operation, as O’Sullivan reported. He was a yachtsman and Army colonel who served as a contract agent helping the agency ferry anti-Castro guerrillas across the straits of Florida, according to Rudy Enders, a retired CIA officer, and two other people who knew him.

This contradicts a ton of detail in Ayers’ memoir.

Ayers does identify Gordon Campbell as deputy station chief at JM/Wave (the CIA Miami station), second in command to Ted Shackley, and relates many detailed encounters with both Shackley and Campbell, as superiors to whom he had to report and clear actions.

I don’t grasp why Morley/Talbot find the point worthy of such attention. Even if they are correct re Campbell’s job description, it hardly touches on the core controversy re the identities of the three men in the Ambassador footage.

And that they cite Rudy Enders as authority seems a bit ludicrous.

(c) Morley/Talbot then report, perhaps gloating, that Enders told them that Gordon Campbell died in September 1962. So he could not have been in Los Angeles in 1968, as O’Sullivan suggests. They provide a photostat death certificate.

But again — the “Gordon Campbell” who Anders says died in 1962 cannot be the deputy chief of station using that name that Bradley Ayers worked with in Miami beginning summer 1963. And this man is the one Ayers has identified in the Ambassador footage.

It seems either Ayers is spewing insane fiction, or Morley/Talbot have been fed the wrong Gordon Campbell, or similarly confused, by their CIA sources.

Nevertheless, Mr Morley in particular is somone whose views in these matters I respect.

4. Another GORDON CAMPBELL Curiosity: His adjutant KARL

(a) Karl in High Company

Ayers reports at length on Gordon Campbell’s Man Friday at JM Wave — a francophone (native french or belgian, he seemed) named Karl.

Ayers had several close encounters with Karl. And reports once seeing him having lunch, at a remote roadhouse between Miami and the Keys, with David Morales, David Atlee Phillips (senior CIA Psy Ops dude, protege of E. Howard Hunt) and Johnny Roselli (mobster hired by high CIAist Bill Harvey to get ihis lame-brained Castro assassination program off the ground).

Recall: Morales, Roselli, Harvey and Phillips are already all near the center of the JFK murder mystery.

At the time Morales was covert ops chief at the Miami station.

Phillips, much senior, had supposedly stepped down to be chief of the Mexico City station, where, he confessed publicly in 1977, he had something to do with the falsification of evidence putting Oswald at the Soviet embassy in October 1963. See Lane’s Plausible Denial.

Harvey had come back from Europe a few years before to be Deputy to Angleton at counterintelligence HQ in Langley, where inter alia they solicited help from MI5′s Peter Wright in assembling an assasination team, mentioning Castro by name. See Wright’s Spycatcher. Harvey was then dispatched to Miami, where Ayers encountered him several times from summer ’63 on, often accompanied by Roselli.

Ayers writes that he wondered immediately how it was that Karl ranked to be found in such elevated Company company. He did not see Karl’s superior, deputy station chief Campbell, at the lunch.

(b) Karl Murdered by, it seems, CIA

A few months later — Ayers was compelled to be in attendance at Karl’s murder.


Ayers writes that he and Karl were taken in a helicopter to reconnoiter the Florida coast, looking for new training grounds for the angry and teeming cubanos.

But then the unknown (to Ayers) leader of the flight pulled a pistol — and forced Karl out the copter door, sans parachute, to his death. Over the wide empty spaces of Eglin Air Force base.

Ayers speculated at the time that he was chosen to witness the execution because his superiors were beginning to worry abou his (Ayers’) attitude: a caution to shut his mouth and get back to work. Since he did not go to the police about the murder, he became, technically, an accessory to it, which he felt left him open to blackmail thenceforth.

(c) Karl a Doppelganger for Lee Oswald

Shortly after Karl’s murder Ayers had his mind blown when he saw replays of the press conference and murder of Lee Harvey Oswald on TV — and realized that Karl was a doppelganger for Oswald. (Recall that an Oswald imposter seems to have been central to the creation of the CIA cover story.)

5. It was only years later, when Ayers read the Warren Commsision Report and realized it was a pack of lies, that he began a career as an investigor of JFK’s murder. The second half of ZENITH SECRET is about this.

His evidence and conclusions, such as they are, in a nutshell:

– Morales was a protege of right-wing Senator Barry Goldwater, the leading militarist in the Senate of the day and GOP presidential candidate in 1964.

Morales grew up dirt poor in Arizona. But found work as a teenager in the Goldwater family empire, and came to Barry’s notice. Goldwater then paid to put Morales through college in Arizona and California.

– In 1963, Morales was a flamboyant visitor to Goldwater’s senate offices. Bursting in without appointment. Embracing the staid Senator …

– Goldwater participated in JFK’s murder by ordering the transport of two suitcases of campaign contribution cash from Las Vegas (given to the courier by Robert Maheu (ie Howard Hughes) and mobster Joe Bannano), one suitcase to a man using the name Gordon in a Dallas motel and the other to David Morales in a New Orleans motel.


Note that Ayers is the primary researcher of Morales’s life and career, upon whom the likes of Noel Twyman (Bloody Treason), Pease and now Shane O’Sullivan have all relied.

Morales was Director of Operations (dirty work) in the Miami CIA station during the 18 months or so Ayers was there as director of combat training for cubano insurgents. Morales was the infamous leader on the ground of the 1954 CIA coup in Guatemala and of Bay of Pigs martyrs on the beach in 1961.

Ayers reports that Morales was also one of the first six men hired, in 1948, as black ops operatives by the fledgling CIA. And that he was a fearsome figure in Miami 14 years later — that even Shackley, chief of station, often withered in his presence.

Morales was subpoenaed to appear before the House of Representatives Select Committe on Assassinations in 1978. Instead he died, at age 53.

Ayers gently doubts this story, noting that Morales’s gravesite in Arizona seems to have been fiddled with.

Possible, perhaps, then, that Morales’s death was faked in 1978 to avoid the HSCA subpoena and to ease his transit into retirement and another identity.

Which brings to mind Rudy Enders telling Talbot/Morley that “Gordon Campbell” died in 1962, and waving a piece of paper in their faces to prove it.


Ayers produces a source — a smart and circumspect Phoenix woman named Pearl, daughter of a man on Goldwater’s business staff for nearly 30 years — who at length details the alleged involvement of Goldwater in the JFK murder.

She says that her father — Pepe — told her, shortly before his death, that he was asked by Goldwater in November 1963 to drive up to Nevada to collect a large cash campaign contribution. (Goldwater was running for Pres in 1964.)

Pepe did so — collecting two suitcases of cash from Robert Maheu (infamous mysterious US intelligence agent then serving as chief exec of Howard Hughes’s business empire in Las Vegas) and Las Vegas mobster Joe Bananno.

Pepe then drove to Dallas, called a phone number, and delivered one suitcase to a man in a Dallas motel going by the name of Gordon, the day before JFK’s murder.

(Recall: Morita Lorenz, the woman at the heart of attorney Mark Lane’s PLAUSIBLE DENIAL case — in which Howard Hunt sued a magazine for libel (without success) for running a story that placed him in Dallas during the JFK murder …

Recall, I say, that Lorenz testified in court that she drove from Florida with CIA assassin Gerry Hemming, CIA and mob goon Frank Sturgis, and several cubans, with two trunk-loads of guns, and that they were paid by E. Howard Hunt for those guns with lots of cash in a Dallas motel the night before the murder.

(The obvious tasty speculation, of course, is that the cash Pearl’s father delivered to Gordon [Campbell? Or Hunt using that name?] in a Dallas motel the day before the murder was the cash that Hunt gave Hemming, Lorenz & co for their guns in a Dallas motel the evening before the murder.)

Pepe then drove to New Orleans and delivered the second suitcase to David Morales in a motel there early on November 22, 1963.



Too tired however to try to make more of this at the moment.

One has to read Ayers’ book to develop confidence in his reportage. It does seem however that to dismiss him in toto — as Lisa Pease does — would be to conclude he is a raving maniac writing whole-cloth fiction.

And that is certainly not my impression.

Rather, he reminds me of Col. Fletcher Prouty, whom I admire and whose writings have not only withstood the test of time, but become more and more apt to our increasingly unhinged sociopolitical landscape.

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  1. Lisa Pease says:

    I just stumbled upon this post. I have actually met Brad Ayers. I found him to be sincere, but a tad, well, gullible. I mean, you’d have to be somewhat gullible to join up with the CIA and think they were the good guys, right? I’m not trying to put him down. I think he’s been honest. I just don’t think he’s been correct. And he, like so many others, desperately wants to solve the case. I want to find the truth, which is not quite the same thing, if you know what I mean. There may not be any easy answers.

    I talked to David Talbot several times during the course of his and Morley’s investigation, and wanted to add that both Talbot and MOrley originally believed there may be truth to Shane O’Sulllivan’s assertions. I never did, and challenged them to prove it to me. In the end, they came to conclude as I did, after a very serious, in-depth investigation of documents and interviews with people.

    I fear Shane is so wedded to this he cannot now get proper perspective.

    I’ve never found photo IDs a good way to approach this case, because I have a photo of me from the late 1800s. Only I wasn’t alive then. But the woman in the photo looks just like me when I was younger. It’s really quite astonishing. So there you go. Photos really can’t be used as proof of anything – only as leads. And under further investigation, I’m persuaded that this lead did not pan out.

    October 24th, 2007 at 9:33 pm

  2. ed says:

    Hello Lisa,

    Thank you very much for comemnting. I’ve read your thoughts about these matters for many years, and heard you chat on radio recently, touching on the Ayers book.

    Please respond specifically to the points discussed in sections 3(b) and 3(c) of my post above. The focus there is on Gordon Campbell.

    October 27th, 2007 at 10:26 am

  3. Lisa Pease says:

    I’m only just now seeing this again, a couple of years later, to the day, by chance! Re 3(b) I don’t find that woman’s story the least bit credible. Again, I think Ayers found something he could believe. He didn’t find something he could confirm though, and that’s the point.

    In addition, I’d note that Shane himself has long since retracted his identification, and downplays his original certainty in his book, which followed his documentary.

    October 28th, 2009 at 12:01 am

  4. RFK: Outing the CIA at the Ambassador* | Intrepid Report.com says:

    [...] sentiments were expressed by his co-editor, Lisa Pease, who even wrote in her blog that she could not believe the CIA would send those who were involved in his brother’s murder to [...]

    March 9th, 2011 at 10:36 pm

  5. RFK: Outing the CIA at the Ambassador | SHOAH says:

    [...] sentiments were expressed by his co-editor, Lisa Pease, who even wrote in her blog that she could not believe the CIA would send those who were involved in his brother’s murder to [...]

    August 14th, 2011 at 9:44 am

  6. u of miami says:

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    [...]Conversation » New Book: THE ZENITH SECRET by Captain Bradley E. Ayers / Rebuttals to BBC piece re CIA goons at RFK murder[...]…

    October 1st, 2011 at 4:30 am

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