As Nagell told it, he became aware of Lee Harvey Oswald in November 1957, when Oswald and another American ostensibly visited the Soviet embassy in Tokyo. According to Nagell, Oswald was photographed by the Japanese as he entered the embassy.(4) Nagell claimed that he and Oswald met soon after this, when each allegedly played a role in a CIA operation to convince Soviet colonel Nikolai Eroshkin to defect to the US.(5) He also claimed that he and Oswald had together frequented the Queen Bee, a Tokyo nightclub rumored to have been a hotbed of KGB activity.(6)
Nagell claimed that in the fall of 1962, he began working undercover in Mexico City for one "Robert Graham,"(7) described to Dick Russell as a "'subordinate' CIA officer whose ultimate reporting reached all the way up to Desmond FitzGerald in the CIA hierarchy."(8) When an agency of the USSR purportedly offered Nagell an intelligence assignment related to the Cuban Missile Crisis, he allegedly consulted Graham for advice. According to Nagell, Graham instructed him to "take the bait," signifying that Nagell would ostensibly be infiltrating the Soviet agency under Graham's supervision.(9) At about this same time, Nagell was allegedly given an assignment concerning Lee Harvey Oswald, though Nagell specified that the task was in no way related to the JFK assassination.(10)
According to Nagell, "Graham" subsequently gave him instructions to "initiate certain action against Mr. Oswald, who was the indispensable tool in the conspiracy" to try to persuade Oswald "that the deal was phony and if that didn't work . . . to get rid of him."
"Graham" allegedly also assigned Nagell to infiltrate Alpha 66, a militant group of anti-Castro Cuban exiles, in order to verify whether there was any truth to the rumor that members of the group were planning an assassination attempt on President John F. Kennedy.(11) Nagell claimed he had infiltrated the group and determined that it was planning an assassination attempt for the last week of September, probably the 26th, "presumably" in Washington, DC.(12) Nagell claimed that two members of this group had posed as agents of Castro's G-2 intelligence service and had recruited Lee Harvey Oswald into the alleged plot under the pretense that killing JFK would make Oswald a hero in the eyes of Castro and his followers.(13)
According to Nagell, "Graham" subsequently gave him instructions to "initiate certain action against Mr. Oswald, who was the indispensable tool in the conspiracy" to try to persuade Oswald "that the deal was phony and if that didn't work, and it looked like things were going to progress beyond the talking stage, to get rid of him."(14) As onetime Nagell attorney, Bernard Fensterwald, Jr., recalled, "The USSR ordered Nagell to eliminate Lee Harvey Oswald because they thought it might be an extreme embarrassment to them if he was caught, not because he was one of them, but because of his history."(15)
Nagell said that he refused to go through with the final stage of the plan the assassination of Lee Harvey Oswald at which time "Graham" allegedly revealed himself to be not simply an officer of the CIA, but actually a double agent in the employ of the Soviet government. "Graham" purportedly threatened that if Nagell did not carry out his alleged assignment to eliminate Oswald, he would reveal to the FBI that Nagell had been performing services for the Soviet Union all along.(16) For reasons Nagell consistently refused to explain to assassination researchers, instead of carrying out this alleged assignment, he entered the State National Bank in El Paso and discharged his revolver.
Nagell named a number of individuals as Oswald's "handlers" during the months preceding the assassination. One of them, Nagell said, was he himself.(17) Others, he alleged, were men who later became suspects in Jim Garrison's New Orleans-based investigation: Clay Shaw,(18) David Ferrie,(19) Guy Banister,(20) and Sergio Arcacha Smith.(21) The Cubans who ostensibly lured Oswald into the plot were named as "Angel" and "Leopoldo," the two men reportedly seen in Oswald's company by eyewitnesses Silvia and Annie Odio in late September 1963.(22)
Nagell alleged that on or about September 17, 1963, shortly before his arrest, he dispatched from Texas a registered letter warning J. Edgar Hoover of the FBI that Lee Harvey Oswald and unnamed others were planning to assassinate John F. Kennedy at the end of September, in Washington.(23) He hinted that he had in his possession the receipt for that letter, a letter the FBI denied ever receiving.(24)
Nagell assured assassination researchers that he possessed other evidence that would support his story. He claimed that sometime between August 23 and 27, 1963, he made "a tape recording of four voices in conversation concerning the plot which ended in the assassination of President Kennedy."(25)
On or about September 15, 1963, Nagell said he met with Oswald one last time, in New Orleans' Jackson Square. He claimed to have arranged for a street vendor to snap a Polaroid photograph of the two men while they were talking, which he said he retained as evidence of their relationship.(26)
|Next: The Validity of Nagell's Claims|
One easily accessible source for many of the documents cited below is a three-part collection of documents compiled by Anna Marie Kuhns-Walko from releases under the JFK Records Act of 1992 and marketed commercially by such organizations as JFK/Lancer. As the collection appears to be circulating in slightly differing formats and its pages are not numbered, documents available in the collection will be distinguished simply by the notation "AMKW."
1. Dick Russell, The Man Who Knew Too Much, 109. Field Operations Intelligence (FOI) was a division of the Army's Counter Intelligence Corps; see Russell, 101-7.
2. Russell, 715.
3. Richard Case Nagell, addendum accompanying letter of January 28, 1970, to the editor of The Family; US Department of Justice, Bureau of Prisons, Classification Study, June 29, 1966; Secret Service Richard Case Nagell Potential Threat File, RIF #154-10002-10330, p. 53. Documents contained in this file will hereafter be designated by the notation "SS" and the page number(s); AMKW.
4. Russell, 136, 715.
5. Russell, 136. Eroshkin was the military attache to the Soviet embassy and, according to Nagell, suspected of being the legal Soviet military intelligence (GRU) representative in Japan (Russell, 136-7). According to Nagell, he was informed that this project was being guided by CIA officer Desmond FitzGerald (Russell, 151).
6. Russell, 145-6, 749 fn. 33.
7. Richard Case Nagell, addendum accompanying letter of January 28, 1970, to the editor of The Family; SS 54; AMKW. In both the statement of October 8, 1967, and his April 1967 interviews with New Orleans Assistant DA William Martin, Nagell named the Soviet Union as the government directing his alleged investigations at that time. "Graham" is the Soviet double agent within the CIA referred to in his letter of October 8, 1967, under the code-name "Abe Greenbaum" (Richard Case Nagell, letter to Arthur Greenstein; "The Private Correspondence of Richard Case Nagell," Probe, Vol. 3, No. 1, November-December 1995).
8. Russell, 241.
9. Russell, 241.
10. Russell, 253.
11. Russell, 250-1.
12. The modifier "presumably" is used in Nagell's sworn affidavit of November 21, 1975, reproduced in the photo section of Russell.
13. Russell, 369-70.
14. Russell, 429.
15. Russell, 438.
16. Richard Case Nagell, addendum accompanying letter of January 28, 1970, to the editor of The Family; SS 53; AMKW.
17. Noel Twyman, Bloody Treason, 614.
18. Jim Garrison, On the Trail of the Assassins, 1991 ed., 216, 267; Richard Case Nagell, letter to Arthur Greenstein, September 30, 1967, "deciphered" by Bernard Fensterwald ("Clay Shaw will probably be convicted, as he is guilty."); AMKW.
19. Richard Case Nagell, letter to Arthur Greenstein, October 8, 1967; "The Private Correspondence of Richard Case Nagell," Probe, Vol. 3, No. 1, November-December 1995.
20. Jim Garrison, On the Trail of the Assassins, 1991 ed., 216.
21. Russell, 395; William R. Martin, Assistant District Attorney, Memorandum to Jim Garrison, District Attorney, April 18, 1967; AMKW.
22. Russell, 334.
23. Russell, 55, 58, 442, 722; William W. Turner, "The Garrison Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy," Ramparts, January 1968. (The full article used to be posted on-line, but currently there only seems to be a zipped file of three out of four sections. The fourth part is the least significant, however, dealing primarily with the slaying of J. D. Tippit and theories about Jack Ruby.)
24. Russell, 58. "I have the receipts for almost every letter that I've ever sent by registered mail," Nagell stated in reference to his alleged letter of September 1963.
25. Russell, 425.
26. Russell, 441, 722.
27. Russell, 47.