Testimony of Daniel Alcorn

Hearing of 10/11/94 -- Washington, DC.
CHAIRMAN TUNHEIM: We will resume the hearing.

The next witness that we would like to hear from this morning is Mr. Daniel Alcorn of Vienna, Virginia.

Good morning, Mr. Alcorn.

MR. ALCORN: I am very pleased to be here and very pleased that you are having this presentation. I am a practicing attorney here in the D.C. area. In fact, we had a discussion about scheduling, and I have a legal case that is awaiting my attention, so I am sorry I was not able to honor the request to let someone go next here, but I do need to get back. I serve on the Board of the Assassination Archive and Research Center, which Jim Lesar serves as President, and I serve on the Board of the new COPA organization, and I co-chaired the National Conference that was held this weekend, along with John Newman who just spoke to you.

My interesting in addressing you today is to sort of shift from the general to the specific, and to give you some idea of some of the research and investigation which I am familiar with on the case, and I think when you hear about it briefly, you will understand some of the breadth of the definitions that Mr. Lesar presented, and the breadth derives not from a fishing expedition, the breadth derives from the evidence and indications about the case.

I have given you some materials. The first one, I just want to reemphasize what Jim Lesar said about the issue of public confidence in our country. We discussed this at the COPA Conference. The graph is from the new book by Kevin Phillips entitled Arrogant Capital, which is his new work on American politics, but he uses this chart to show how we have arrived at the point we are in 1994 in terms of public confidence in the Federal government. What was striking to me was how the confidence level peaked out in the year 1964 on this graph, and it has been a rather startling and serious and troubling deterioration in the polling data from 1964.

I think that defines to us some of the importance of the work that you are doing. All of us who were together this weekend would like to see a future in which that trend line reverses itself and goes back the other way. In fact, we would be happy to do everything we can to bring it back to the levels of the early 1960s, and that is part of our interest in doing this, and we think you have some input you can put into that.

I wanted to address you on the area of Cuban exile activities, CIA operations and Mafia and organized crime. I have spent a lot of my spare time reviewing the release last year, the CIA made a supplemental release to us of materials that they were going to try to keep postponed indefinitely, and I wanted to see what was in the 10,000 pages that initially they had intended to postpone. Under pressure of publicity, they made a rereview and a lot of that material was released to us after the initial release.

I found that the largest single item of material was related to a raid against Cuba that was conducted in June 1963, which is known as the Bay O'Pawley Affair. It is something that has been publicly known since 1975, but the amount of detail contained in these files was never known about the raid.

It was a raid which was originated by an individual named William Pawley who had been a high official in the Defense Department, the State Department, he had been an ambassador, and was extremely well-connected politically in the country. He had originated, along with a fellow named John Martino, a raid against Cuba, supposedly to obtain two Russian defectors from Cuba who would then state that there were still missiles in Cuba after the Cuban Missile Crisis, and that the U.S. policy in the Cuban Missile Crisis had been ineffective in removing the missiles from Cuba.

Mr. Pawley used his connections to obtain the assistance of the CIA. So the JM Wave Station in Miami provided logistical assistance for this operation in June 1963. We have a photograph of Mr. Martino, which I have provided you, which was a result of Life Magazine participating in the raid. Life Magazine participated by providing some money and then were allowed to go along on the raid.

The interest that we had in this particular item is that Mr. Martino, in 1975, shortly before he died, told a close associate of his that there had, in fact, been plot against JFK. That it originated from anti-Castro Cuban exiles, that Oswald had been involved in such a plot, but that he did not know who he was working for, did not know or understand the nature of the activity, and that the murder plot that he described was the one that was in retaliation for what was seen as JFK's softness in relation to activities to dislodge Fidel Castro and replace his government in Cuba.

That report from 1978, actually, by a Dallas reporter had lain uncorroborated for a long period of time. When I saw these records this year, I did some further investigation, found a journalist who was very intimate with Mr. Martino back in 1963. In fact, he had been invited to go on this raid in 1963, and he had kept in touch with Mr. Martino over a period of time, and this journalist confirmed to me that, in fact, before Mr. Martino's death he did describe such a plot to this journalist, but he had withheld the information in order to protect the family, and he had an obligation up until now to do that.

This whole episode -- I won't go any further, it is the subject of a journalistic investigation which is ongoing currently, and I expect a major piece to be published on this very shortly, and I don't want to go further, and have been asked, in fact, not to completely scoop their journalistic endeavor.

But in order to give you an understanding of this, Mr. Martino is particularly well known for the fact that he was a technician in organized crime. He was very close to Santos Trafficante, who was an organized crime leader in Florida, and he was rooming with Johnny Roselli in the summer of 1963, Roselli being the organized crime figure that the CIA went to to organize the CIA-Mafia plots to assassinate Fidel Castro.

So it is this kind of report and this kind of now corroborated information coming to the surface which is so troubling to the research community and defines the broad nature of some of the definitions that we are asking for because we know from the files that have been released in the past year that the elements of organized crime, Cuban exiles, the CIA, were in operations together in Florida in June of 1963. It is that kind of now corroborated and documented episode that is so troubling to the research community, and asks us to ask you to have a definition which will encompass all of these different areas.

It is very troubling to me that the CIA, for example, would not want to release all of the materials they provided the House Select Committee. The House Select Committee made a pass at this area to look at it in their investigation, and they did request these files of the Cuban exile activities, and if the CIA does not want to provide those to this Board, I think that is a very troubling issue, and I think you need to take them to the mat on that.

Similarly, if the FBI is, as I understand they are, taking a position that organized crime files are not relevant to this issue, I would take great issue with that statement as well because, as we see, we have information deriving from operations in which organized crime figures were working hand-in-glove with Cuban exiles and with the CIA in that period of time, and that is what makes it particularly relevant to what we are undertaking here.

At the end of the presentation of the documents I gave you, I have some concerns about the process of disclosure, and I have provided you some record sheets. I have stapled them. The cover sheet, which is the National Archives' cover sheet, along with an access restriction sheet, which refers to that document, and these are documents on the subject of John Martino, CIA, organized crime, those types of issues. My concern is that the National Archives' cover sheet indicates that the document was reviewed in 1993, just before the record release date, and it was decided to be opened in full, no restrictions, unclassified, but there is an access restricted sheet for two of these documents, and it is dated after the determination to open in full.

In fact, it is dated August 22, 1993, which is the day before the due date for release of documents which was August 23rd, 1993, and I happen to remember very well because I was paying attention to the release. The release occurred on a Monday, which means that these access restricted sheets were dated on a Sunday, and it was the day before the release of the documents to the National Archives.

Maybe there is some explanation for that, but there is an anomaly in these records indicating that a determination was made to open them in July and early August of '93, but on the day before the release, on a Sunday before the release of the records, the documents were restricted by both CIA and FBI. So I would call your attention to that. That is certainly a specific item that we are wondering what that means, and would be very interested in getting the subject material that underlies that material.

One final item I would call to your attention, on the CIA files, there is a -- and John Newman is very knowledgeable about this, I won't go deeply into it so that I can preserve his book opportunity, but on the CIA file on Oswald there is a tremendous anomaly about the opening of that file. The CIA informed the Warren Commission, upon request of the Warren Commission, that the file on Oswald was opened on December 9th, 1960, and the letter from Richard Helms, Deputy Director of Plans, at that time stated that the dossier, as he called it, on Oswald opened December 9th, 1960, was being provided to the Warren Commission. He said in the letter, we have taken the liberty of deleting the file indicia from the records because we do not believe that is something that would interest the Warren Commission.

Well, as is clear from this release, it should have interested them, if they would have known, because there are other file numbers that predate the 201 file opening on records involving Oswald. These go back to 1959 and early 1960. I would call your attention to those records and would ask you, as part of your effort to get an explanation about what these records are, where were they maintained, the circumstances under which they were maintained, if they are files which are not Oswald files but files on other issues in which Oswald material was held, I think you should ask for that surrounding material so that you can understand that that is what happened.

But I do have to tell you that I was rather shocked two weeks ago when I read the CIA transmittal letter to the Warren Commission, having seen the actual documents that lead up to it, because there is no way to characterize it other than misleading to the Warren Commission about the CIA files on Oswald going back as far as October 1959.

So with that, I would conclude my remarks, and I would be happy to take any questions.

CHAIRMAN TUNHEIM: Thank you, Mr. Alcorn.

Any questions from the Board members?

[No response.]


Thank you very much for your testimony.

MR. ALCORN: Thank you.

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