Cartha (Deke) Deloach

Cartha (Deke) Deloach

Cartha (Deke) DeLoach, the son of Cartha Calhoun DeLoach, was born in Claxton, Georgia, on 20th July, 1920. His father died in 1930 and “left the family in a whole lot of debt”. According to relatives, DeLoach worked in cotton fields to help his mother pay the bills. A talented sportsman he went to Stetson University in Florida, on a football scholarship.

DeLoach joined the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 1942 as a clerk in the Identification Division. In 1948 DeLoach replaced John Doherty as FBI's liaison officer to the Central Intelligence Agency. His main source of contact was Sheffield Edwards. According to Mark Riebling (Wedge) DeLoach had to persuade Frank Wisner to stop some of the CIA more outlandish operations. Riebling quotes Deloach as saying: "Guys, you can't do that. Your operation just won't work, it's gonna blow. People suspect you. They know damn well you're not defense. You aren't properly backstopped."

In 1953 J. Edgar Hoover asked DeLoach to join the American Legion to "straighten it out". According to the journalist, Sanford J. Ungar, he took the assignment so seriously that he became national vice-commander of the organization: "DeLoach became chairman of the Legion's national public relations commission in 1958 and in that position and in his other Legion offices over the years, he exercised a great deal of influence over the organization's internal policies as well as its public positions."

Deke DeLoach became friends with Lyndon B. Johnson in the 1950s. It was DeLoach who arranged with Johnson, who was the Senate majority leader, to push through legislation guaranteeing J. Edgar Hoover, a salary for life. DeLoach later recalled: “There was political distrust between the two of them, but they both needed each other." However, he denied that the two men worked together to blackmail politicians. In his book, Hoover's FBI (1995), DeLoach argued: "The popular myth, fostered of late by would-be historians and sensationalists with their eyes on the bestseller list, has it that in his day J. Edgar Hoover all but ran Washington, using dirty tricks to intimidate congressmen and presidents, and phone taps, bugs, and informants to build secret files with which to blackmail lawmakers." According to DeLoach this was not true.

Ronald Kessler, the author of The Bureau: The Secret History of the FBI (2002) has suggested that DeLoach was involved in blackmailing Senator Carl T. Hayden, chair of the Senate Rules and Administration Committee, into following the instructions of Hoover. J. Edgar Hoover. In April 1962, Roy L. Elson, Hayden's administrative assistant, questioned Hayden's decision to approve the $60 million cost of the FBI building. When he discovered what Elson was saying, DeLoach "hinted" that he had "information that was unflattering and detrimental to my marital situation... I was certainly vulnerable that way... There was more than one girl... The implication was there was information about my sex life... I interpreted it as attempted blackmail."

FBI Special Agent Arthur Murtagh also testified that DeLoach was involved in the blackmail of politicians on government committees. He claimed that DeLoach told him: "The other night, we picked up a siuation where this senator was seen drunk, in a hit-and-run accident, and some good-looking broad was with him. We got the information, reported it in a memorandum, and by noon the next day, the senator was aware that we had the information, and we never had trouble with him on appropriations since."

The day following the assassination of John F. Kennedy, President Lyndon B. Johnson, called J. Edgar Hoover and requested that DeLoach be assigned to the White House. DeLoach was involved in the investigation of the assassination of Kennedy. In one memo sent to Clyde Tolson, DeLoach claimed that Johnson "felt the CIA had something to do with the plot" to kill Kennedy. According to David Talbot, DeLoach "dismissed the president's dark mutterings as simply his efforts to reassure himself that the Warren Report was correct." Richard Helms added: "I didn't know whether (Johnson's conspiracy talk) was just like the fly fisherman flick over the water to see if he has any takers, or whether he really believed it."

DeLoach claimed in an interview with Michael L. Gillette on 1st November, 1991, that President Johnson had asked him if the CIA or Fidel Castro were behind the assassination of Kennedy: "I told him no, that the investigation had been very thorough, that the Warren Commission had confirmed the conclusions of the FBI, that there was no conspiracy involved and that Lee Harvey Oswald - and Oswald alone did it, and the matter should rest. But the President wanted to make certain that he had done everything to make sure that the proper conclusions, or the right conclusions, the truthful conclusions, were found and the record should be established. That's why he was adamant that, even though Mr. Hoover and I were against it, that the Warren Commission should be established, and that there should be both Democrats and Republicans on the Warren Commission, and that they have access to all FBI reports. He wanted the whole matter to be examined most thoroughly. And they did. But the Warren Commission was the President's idea."

William C. Sullivan argued in The Bureau: My Thirty Years in Hoover's FBI (1979): "Since Johnson felt he had to protect himself against any last minute surprises from the Kennedy camp, he turned to the FBI for help. He asked Hoover for a special security team of a dozen or so agents to be headed by Cartha D. ("Deke") DeLoach, Courtney Evans's successor to the job of White House liaison. Ostensibly the agents would be there to guard against threats to the president, but this security force was actually a surveillance team, a continuation of the FBI's surveillance on Martin Luther King in Atlantic City. By keeping track of King, LBJ could also keep track of RFK. With the help of the FBI, Johnson spied on Teddy Kennedy during a trip Kennedy made to Italy."

In an interview DeLoach gave in 1991 he claimed: "Mr. Hoover was anxious to retain his job and to stay on as director. He knew that the best way for the F.B.I. to operate fully and to get some cooperation of the White House was for him to be cooperative with President Johnson... President Johnson, on the other hand, knew of Mr. Hoover’s image in the United States, particularly among the middle-of-the-road conservative elements, and knew it was vast. He knew of the potential strength of the F.B.I. - insofar as being of assistance to the government and the White House is concerned. As a result it was a marriage, not altogether of necessity, but it was a definite friendship caused by necessity.”

William C. Sullivan pointed out that by 1964 Deloach was a "member of Johnson's inner circle... and had a direct line to LBJ's White House". This included providing information from FBI files on Barry Goldwater during the presidential campaign of 1964. Tim Weiner, the author of Enemies: A History of the F.B.I. (2012) has argued: “DeLoach was always at L.B.J.’s beck and call, night and day... He was a talented political hatchet man, a trusted deputy to Hoover. He was also crucial to intelligence investigations conducted during the Johnson presidency.”

In 1965 DeLoach was promoted to deputy director of the FBI. He held this position until he resigned in 1970 to work for Donald M. Kendall, who was a close friend of Lyndon B. Johnson. Later he worked in banking in South Carolina. In 1995, he published a memoir, Hoover's FBI: The Inside Story by Hoover's Trusted Lieutenant. In a 2007 DeLoach argued: “In my humble opinion, despite the good job the F.B.I. has done, it has not received anywhere near sufficient credit for doing all the tremendous investigative work, all the sacrifice, the labor, the blood, the sweat, the tears, to put it proverbially, that we have done. We have not been given credit.”

Cartha (Deke) DeLoach died aged 92 on 13th March, 2013.

© , September 1997 - April 2014

Primary Sources

(1) William C. Sullivan, The Bureau: My Thirty Years in Hoover's FBI (1979)

If Jack Kennedy's death shocked and worried Johnson, it also made him warier than ever of Bobby and Teddy Kennedy. Johnson believed that both surviving Kennedy brothers had presidential ambitions, and as president he saw himself as their natural enemy and acted accordingly. Threatened by Bobby in particular, he was afraid that there would be a groundswell of support for Kennedy's nomination as vice-president at the Democratic convention in Atlantic City where LBJ, an "accidental president," sought the unanimous support of his party. Johnson wanted to choose his own running mate, and Bobby Kennedy was definitely not on his list of possible choices.

Since Johnson felt he had to protect himself against any last minute surprises from the Kennedy camp, he turned to the FBI for help. He asked Hoover for a special security team of a dozen or so agents to be headed by Cartha D. ("Deke") DeLoach, Courtney Evans's successor to the job of White House liaison. Ostensibly the agents would be there to guard against threats to the president, but this security force was actually a surveillance team, a continuation of the FBI's surveillance on Martin Luther King in Atlantic City. By keeping track of King, LBJ could also keep track of RFK.

With the help of the FBI, Johnson spied on Teddy Kennedy during a trip Kennedy made to Italy. One of our agents heard that Lucky Luciano, the American mob boss who had been deported to his native Italy by the federal government, had carried on a conversation with Kennedy in a restaurant in Rome. Actually, we learned that the conversation was completely innocent on Kennedy's part. Luciano had approached Kennedy in an effort to get help in his plea to be allowed to return to the United States to die, and Kennedy had refused. The agent, who knew that Hoover would be interested in anything on the subject, reported the incident to Washington. Hoover used that report as an excuse to investigate Kennedy to see if he had any ties to organized crime. We conducted a discreet but massive investigation and found out what everyone had known all along: that Kennedy was opposed to organized crime in every way, and always had been.

In 1965 Johnson used the FBI to set up Teddy Kennedy. Teddy had come to Johnson seeking a federal judgeship for Frank Morrissey, a Kennedy family friend and former aid to JFK. Johnson agreed to nominate Morrissey, but as soon as Kennedy was out the door of the Oval office, LBJ was on the phone to DeLoach ordering an all-out FBI investigation of the Boston lawyer. It was one of the most exhaustive investigations of its kind we ever conducted, far more so than our puny investigation of G. Harrold Carswell when he was nominated to the Supreme Court. We went all out on Morrissey, but we didn't find much. The worst that anyone could say about Morrissey was that he had an average reputation as a lawyer. As the courts were filled with mediocre judges who had attended undistinguished law schools, many of them put there by Johnson, Morrissey seemed to be in the clear. But a few days after Johnson received the FBI report on Morrissey, stories began appearing in newspapers and magazines calling him unqualified for the job, stories that were leaked to the press by the White House, citing his unimpressive legal and academic background as proof. It was a deliberate smear and it worked. An embarrassed Teddy Kennedy was forced to ask LBJ to withdraw the nomination.

(2) Donald Gibson, The Kennedy Assassination Cover-Up (2000)

At the outset of this conversation, LBJ emphatically asserted that the investigation would be the responsibility of Texas authorities, but with a significant role played by the FBI. LBJ referred to efforts of unidentified lawyers, implying they were in the Justice Department, to get a commission established and he stated that this would not happen. He was probably referring to Katzenbach, perhaps only Katzenbach. The investigation, he said, would be handled by the FBI and the State of Texas.

Alsop then launched an effort to change LBJ's mind, employing a mixture of tactics, including self-deprecation, praise for LBJ, giving advice, argumentation, and manipulation. He also employed the names of other people to buttress his position and to convince Johnson that this commission idea was going to have support from significant people. Along the way he told Johnson that "it isn't Justice Department lawyers who are carrying on this." That observation is consistent with Katzenbach's 1978 testimony that the idea for a commission came from people outside the government. Alsop's assertion also fits with what we have already seen in the intercession by Eugene Rostow.

It is also of interest that Alsop says he has already spoken with Bill Moyers about the commission idea. That means that in less than 24 hours following Oswald's death, both Rostow and Alsop have decided to intervene and they both have chosen Moyers as a channel to the President. Is this a coincidence or were Rostow and Alsop acting as part of a coordinated effort? Their suggestions on the make-up of the commission are different, but neither is definite on this issue.

Alsop indicated that one of the people he has discussed this with was former Secretary of State Dean Acheson. He did not say when he talked with Acheson; it had to be less than 22 hours after Oswald's death. Was Acheson's involvement independent of Rostow's? Alsop's use of Acheson's name seems to be a way of impressing upon Johnson that this idea came from or with the endorsement of heavy-hitters. Alsop also told LBJ that [Alfred] Friendly of the Washington Post had come to the same idea on his own and that the Post will promote the idea. An internal FBI memo from C. D. DeLoach to John P. Mohr, dated November 25, 1963, shows that Washington Post editor James Russell Wiggins was actually the individual pushing for a commission. The memo also mentions, correctly, that James Reston had suggested the creation of a Presidential Commission in the New York Times on November 25.

(3) Cartha (Deke) DeLoach, interviewed by Michael L. Gillette (1st November, 1991)

Michael L.Gillette: Did the President talk to you about the Kennedy assassination and his thoughts on it or explanations for it?

Cartha DeLoach: Yes, from time to time, he would refer to it. He referred to the fact that he moved that

blood-red rug out of his office because it reminded him of the President being assassinated and put another rug in the Oval Office with the presidential seal on it.

He, at times, rambled about somewhat as to who may have caused it. He indicated that, "Could it have been the CIA?" And I said, "No, sir." And he didn't think so himself, he was just rambling in his conversation. "Could it have been Castro? Could it have been the Soviet Union?" And I told him no, that the investigation had been very thorough, that the Warren Commission had confirmed the conclusions of the FBI, that there was no conspiracy involved and that Lee Harvey Oswald - and Oswald alone did it, and the matter should rest. But the President wanted to make certain that he had done everything to make sure that the proper conclusions, or the right conclusions, the truthful conclusions, were found and the record should be established. That's why he was adamant that, even though Mr. Hoover and I were against it, that the Warren Commission should be established, and that there should be both Democrats and Republicans on the Warren Commission, and that they have access to all FBI reports. He wanted the whole matter to be examined most thoroughly. And they did. But the Warren Commission was the President's idea.

(4) Bruce Weber, The New York Times (15th March, 2013)

Mr. DeLoach headed the bureau’s crime records division, which was also in charge of public affairs. He was a principal spokesman for the bureau in the investigation of the murders of James Earl Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, three civil rights workers who were killed by the Ku Klux Klan in Mississippi in the early summer of 1964. Their bodies were not discovered until that August; it was Mr. DeLoach who called the president to deliver the news.

Johnson called on the bureau to perform tasks that caused friction with other agencies. Fearful of assassination, he added F.B.I. agents to his security detail, infringing on the territory of the Secret Service. And he drew the bureau into the political arena, requesting investigations into political opponents and reporters.

Mr. DeLoach was the main conduit between Johnson and Hoover, and though he acknowledged that he knew the president occasionally asked the F.B.I. to overstep its authority, he said that other presidents had done the same, and that when the president of the United States asks for something, it is difficult to say no.

“DeLoach was always at L.B.J.’s beck and call, night and day,” said Tim Weiner, a former New York Times reporter and the author of “Enemies: A History of the F.B.I.,” published last year. “He was a talented political hatchet man, a trusted deputy to Hoover. He was also crucial to intelligence investigations conducted during the Johnson presidency.”

Mr. DeLoach became head of F.B.I. investigations in 1965, leading the bureau’s assault on the Klan after the 1964 killings in Mississippi. He supervised the investigation of the murder of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968. But he had also been part of the bureau’s scrutiny of the civil rights movement and was aware of the bureau’s secret surveillance of Dr. King in his private life. In Mr. Weiner’s book, Nicholas Katzenbach, an attorney general under Johnson, said he believed that Mr. DeLoach had offered reporters the chance to listen to tapes of Dr. King having sex with a woman who was not his wife.

Mr. DeLoach denied that accusation.