Cord Meyer, the son of a senior diplomat, was born on 10th November, 1920. The Meyer family was extremely wealthy and had made its money from sugar in Cuba and from property on Long Island.
The family settled in New York City . Cord and his twin brother, Quintin, attended private school in Switzerland and then St. Paul's preparatory school in New Hampshire. In 1939 Meyer went to Yale University to study literature and philosophy. After graduating in 1942 he joined the US Marines.
Meyer was sent to the South Pacific and wrote articles about his experiences for The Atlantic Monthly. Meyer was a machine-gun platoon leader and took part in the assault on Guam. He later wrote: "As we buried our dead I swore to myself that if it was within my power I should see to it that these deaths would not be forgotten or valued lightly. No matter how small a contribution I should happen to make it would be in the right direction."
On 21st July, 1944, a Japanese grenade was thrown into his foxhole. He was so badly injured that when he was found he was initially declared to be dead. In fact, his commanding officer sent a telegram to his parents announcing he had died. Although he lost his left eye he was eventually well enough to be sent home. Soon afterwards his twin brother, Quentin, was killed at Okinawa.
While recovered in New York City Meyer met the journalist, Mary Pinchot. The couple married on 19th April, 1945. The couple then went to San Francisco to attend the conference that established the United Nations. Cord went as an aide to Harold Stassen, whereas Mary, who was working for the North American Newspaper Alliance at the time, was one of the reporters sent to cover this important event.
Meyer told te New York Times that although the United Nations was a step in the right direction "that the veto power was just another alliance of the great powers and one that would surely lead to another war." Cord proposed that the UN be granted authority to oversee nuclear power installations inside member countries. He also argued that the UN should be given the authority to prevent war and "the armed power to back it up."
While at the San Francisco Conference he met John F. Kennedy for the first time. They disagreed about the merits of the United Nations. Kennedy was far more hopeful of its long-term success and disliked Meyer's ideas on world government. Meyer also objected to Kennedy's relationship with his new wife.
Meyer had been shocked by the dropping of the atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. After the war Meyer commissioned a film by Pare Lorentz called The Beginning or the End. Meyer wanted this film to be the definitive statement about the dangers of the atomic age. Cord wrote at the time: "Talked with Mary of how steadily depressing is our full realization of how little hope there is of avoiding the approaching catastrophe of atomic warfare."
The following year he published a book about his war experiences, Waves of Darkness. Meyer expressed his pacifist views in the book: "The only certain fruit of this insanity will be the rotting bodies upon which the sun will impartially shine tomorrow. Let us throw down these guns that we hate."
Meyer became an advocate of world government. In May, 1947, Cord Meyer was elected president of the United World Federalists. Under his leadership, membership of the organization doubled in size. Albert Einstein was one of his most important supporters and personally solicited funds for the organization. Mary Meyer was also active in the organization and wrote for its journal, The United World Federalists.
In 1949 Meyer and his family moved to Cambridge. He was showing signs of becoming disillusioned with the idea of world government. He had experienced problems with members of the American Communist Party who had infiltrated the organizations he had established. It was about this time that he began working secretly for the Central Intelligence Agency.
In 1950 Meyer formed the Committee to Frame a World Constitution with Robert Maynard Hutchins and Elizabeth Mann Borgese. As a result of this work Meyer made contact with the International Cooperative Alliance, the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, the Indian Socialist Party and the Congress of Peoples Against Imperialism. It is almost certain that this had been done on behalf of the CIA.
Allen W. Dulles made contact with Cord Meyer in 1951. He accepted the invitation to join the CIA. Dulles told Meyer he wanted him to work on a project that was so secret that he could not be told about it until he officially joined the organization. Meyer was to work under Frank Wisner, director of the Office of Policy Coordination (OPC). This became the espionage and counter-intelligence branch of the CIA. Wisner was told to create an organization that concentrated on "propaganda, economic warfare; preventive direct action, including sabotage, anti-sabotage, demolition and evacuation measures; subversion against hostile states, including assistance to underground resistance groups, and support of indigenous anti-Communist elements in threatened countries of the free world."
Meyer became part of what became known as Operation Mockingbird, a CIA program to influence the American media. According to Deborah Davis (Katharine the Great: Katharine Graham and the Washington Post): Meyer was Mockingbird's "principal operative".
One of the most important journalists under the control of Operation Mockingbird was Joseph Alsop, whose articles appeared in over 300 different newspapers. Other journalists willing to promote the views of the Central Intelligence Agency included Stewart Alsop (New York Herald Tribune), Ben Bradlee (Newsweek), James Reston (New York Times), Charles Douglas Jackson (Time Magazine), Walter Pincus (Washington Post), William C. Baggs (Miami News), Herb Gold (Miami News) and Charles Bartlett (Chattanooga Times). These journalists sometimes wrote articles that were unofficially commissioned by Meyer was based on leaked classified information from the CIA.
Mary and the family now moved to Washington where they became members of the Georgetown Crowd. This group included Frank Wisner, George Kennan, Dean Acheson, Thomas Braden, Richard Bissell, Desmond FitzGerald, Joseph Alsop, Tracy Barnes, Philip Graham, Katharine Graham, David Bruce, James Reston, James Truitt, Alfred Friendly, Clark Clifford, Walt Rostow, Eugene Rostow, Chip Bohlen and Paul Nitze. The Meyers also socialized with other CIA officers or CIA assets including James Angleton (Cicely Angleton), Wistar Janney (Mary Wisnar), Ben Bradlee (Antoinette Bradlee) and James Truitt (Anne Truitt).
Meyer worked under Thomas Braden, the head of International Organizations Division (IOD). This Central Intelligence Agency unit helped established anti-Communist front groups in Western Europe.The IOD was dedicated to infiltrating academic, trade and political associations. The objective was to control potential radicals and to steer them to the right.
Meyer oversaw the funding of groups such as the National Student Association, the Congress of Cultural Freedom, Communications Workers of America, the American Newspaper Guild and the National Educational Association. He also provided the money for publishing the journal, Encounter. Meyer also worked closely with anti-Communist leaders of the trade union movement such as George Meany of the Congress for Industrial Organization and the American Federation of Labor.
In 1953 Frank Wisner and the CIA began having trouble with J. Edgar Hoover. He described the Office of Policy Coordination (OPC) as "Wisner's gang of weirdos" and began carrying out investigations into their past. It did not take him long to discover that some of them had been active in left-wing politics in the 1930s. This information was passed to Joseph McCarthy who started making attacks on members of the OPC. Hoover also passed to McCarthy details of an affair that Wisner had with Princess Caradja in Romania during the war. Hoover, claimed that Caradja was a Soviet agent.
Joseph McCarthy also began accusing other members of the Georgetown Crowd as being security risks. McCarthy claimed that the CIA was a "sinkhole of communists" and claimed he intended to root out a hundred of them. His first targets were Chip Bohlen and Charles Thayer. Bohlen survived but Thayer was forced to resign.
In August, 1953, Richard Helms, Wisner's deputy at the OPC, told Meyer that Joseph McCarthy had accused him of being a communist. The Federal Bureau of Investigation added to the smear by announcing it was unwilling to give Meyer "security clearance". However, the FBI refused to explain what evidence they had against Meyer. Allen W. Dulles and both came to his defence and refused to permit a FBI interrogation of Meyer.
The FBI eventually revealed the charges against Meyer. Apparently he was a member of several liberal groups considered to be subversive by the Justice Department. This included being a member of the National Council on the Arts, where he associated with Norman Thomas, the leader of the Socialist Party and its presidential candidate in 1948. It was also pointed out that his wife, Mary Meyer, was a former member of the American Labor Party. Meyer was eventually cleared of these charges and was allowed to keep his job.
J. Edgar Hoover and Joseph McCarthy did not realise what they were taking on. Wisner unleashed Operation Mockingbird on McCarthy. Drew Pearson, Joe Alsop, Jack Anderson, Walter Lippmann and Ed Murrow all went into attack mode and McCarthy was permanently damaged by the press coverage orchestrated by Wisner.
Meyer became disillusioned with life in the CIA and in January, 1954, he went to New York City and attempted to get a job in publishing. Although he saw contacts he had made during his covert work with the media (Operation Mockingbird) he was unable to obtain a job with any of the established book publishing firms.
In the summer of 1954 the Meyer family's golden retriever was hit by a car on the curve of highway near their house and killed. The dog's death worried Cord. He told colleagues at the CIA he was afraid the same thing might happen to one of his children.
In the summer of 1954 the Meyers got new neighbours. John F. Kennedy and his wife Jackie Kennedy purchased Hickory Hill, a house several hundred yards from where the Meyers lived. Mary became good friends with Jackie and they went on walks together.
In November, 1954, Meyer replaced Thomas Braden as head of International Organizations Division. Meyer began spending a lot of time in Europe. One of Meyer's tasks was to supervise Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty, the United States government broadcasts to Eastern Europe. According to Nina Burleigh (A Very Private Woman) Meyer was "overseeing a vast 'black' budget of millions of dollars channeled through phony foundation of a global network of associations and labor groups that on their surface appeared to be progressive".
On 18th December, 1956, Cord's nine-year-old son, Michael, was hit by a car on the curve of highway near their house and killed. It was the same spot where the family's golden retriever had been killed two years earlier. The tragedy briefly brought the couple together. However, in 1958, Mary filed for divorce. In her divorce petition she alleged "extreme cruelty, mental in nature, which seriously injured her health, destroyed her happiness, rendered further cohabitation unendurable and compelled the parties to separate."
Meyer's career continued to prosper and was now high enough in the CIA hierarchy to be involved in covert operations. This included working with people like Richard Bissell, Frank Wisner, Tracy Barnes, Jake Esterline, David Atlee Phillips, William (Rip) Robertson and E. Howard Hunt. Bissell, who was now head of the OPC, described Meyer as the "creative genius behind covert operations".
As chief of the CIA's International Organizations Division, Meyer met with President John F. Kennedy and his staff. On 18th October, 1961, Kennedy consulted Meyer about the possibility of replacing Allen W. Dulles with John McCone. In his journal he reported that Kennedy was "much more serious and less arrogant than I'd known him before." He added that Kennedy "still yearns for a respect that eludes him from such as myself."
It is assumed that Cord was involved in the plot to assassinate Fidel Castro but so far no documents have been released to confirm this. Cord also met Robert Kennedy several times after the failed Bay of Pigs operation.
In 1961 James Jesus Angleton asked Ben Bradlee to suggest to John F. Kennedy that Meyer should become ambassador to Guatemala. Bradlee, who disliked Meyer, refused. Bradlee later claimed that he did not respond to this request because he knew that Kennedy would reject the idea. Meyer also asked Charles L. Bartlett, another journalist friend of Kennedy to suggest he should be given a political appointment. Bartlett did as requested but reported back that "due to some incident that occured at the U.N. conference in San Francisco in 1945 there was no possibility".
On 12th October, 1964, Mary Pinchot Meyer was shot dead as she walked along the Chesapeake and Ohio towpath in Georgetown. Henry Wiggins, a car mechanic, was working on a vehicle on Canal Road, when he heard a woman shout out: "Someone help me, someone help me". He then heard two gunshots. Wiggins ran to the edge of the wall overlooking the towpath. He later told police he saw "a black man in a light jacket, dark slacks, and a dark cap standing over the body of a white woman."
Soon afterwards Raymond Crump, a black man, was found not far from the murder scene. He was arrested and charged with Mary's murder. The towpath and the river were searched but no murder weapon was ever found.
The media did not report at the time that Meyer had been having an affair with John F. Kennedy. Nor did it reveal that her former husband was a senior figure in CIA's covert operations. As a result, there was little public interest in the case.
During the trial Wiggins was unable to identify Raymond Crump as the man standing over Meyer's body. The prosecution was also handicapped by the fact that the police had been unable to find the murder weapon at the scene of the crime. On 29th July, 1965, Crump was acquitted of murdering Mary Meyer. The case remains unsolved.
At the end of 1966 Desmond FitzGerald, head of the Directorate for Plans, discovered that Ramparts, a left-wing publication, had discovered that the CIA had been secretly funding the National Student Association. FitzGerald ordered Edgar Applewhite to organize a campaign against the magazine. Applewhite later told Evan Thomas for his book, The Very Best Men: "I had all sorts of dirty tricks to hurt their circulation and financing. The people running Ramparts were vulnerable to blackmail. We had awful things in mind, some of which we carried off."
This dirty tricks campaign failed to stop Ramparts publishing in March, 1967. The article, written by Sol Stern, was entitled NSA and the CIA. As well as reporting CIA funding of the National Student Association it exposed the whole system of anti-Communist front organizations in Europe, Asia, and South America. It named Meyer as a key figure in this campaign. This included the funding of the literary journal Encounter.
In May 1967 Thomas Braden responded to this by publishing an article entitled, I'm Glad the CIA is Immoral, in the Saturday Evening Post, where he defended the activities of the International Organizations Division unit of the CIA.
In 1967 Meyer became assistant deputy director of plans, a post in which he worked with spymaster Thomas H. Karamessines. However, the publicity brought about by the Ramparts revealations did not help his career.
Meyer role in Operation Mockingbird was further exposed in 1972 when he was accused of interfering with the publication of a book, The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia by Alfred W. McCoy. The book was highly critical of the CIA's dealings with the drug traffic in Southeast Asia. The publisher, who leaked the story, had been a former colleague of Meyer's when he was a liberal activist after the war.
During the Watergate Scandal President Richard Nixon became concerned about the activities of the Central Intelligence Agency. Three of those involved in the burglary, E. Howard Hunt, Eugenio Martinez and James W. McCord had close links with the CIA. Nixon and his aides attempted to force the CIA director, Richard Helms, and his deputy, Vernon Walters, to pay hush-money to Hunt, who was attempting to blackmail the government. Although it seemed Walters was willing to do this, Helms refused. In February, 1973, Nixon sacked Helms. His deputy, Thomas H. Karamessines, resigned in protest.
James Schlesinger now became the new director of the CIA. Schlesinger was heard to say: The clandestine service was Helmss Praetorian Guard. It had too much influence in the Agency and was too powerful within the government. I am going to cut it down to size. This he did and over the next three months over 7 per cent of CIA officers lost their jobs.
On 9th May, 1973, Schlesinger issued a directive to all CIA employees: I have ordered all senior operating officials of this Agency to report to me immediately on any activities now going on, or might have gone on in the past, which might be considered to be outside the legislative charter of this Agency. I hereby direct every person presently employed by CIA to report to me on any such activities of which he has knowledge. I invite all ex-employees to do the same. Anyone who has such information should call my secretary and say that he wishes to talk to me about activities outside the CIAs charter.
There were several employees who had been trying to complain about the illegal CIA activities for some time. As Meyer pointed out, this directive was a hunting license for the resentful subordinate to dig back into the records of the past in order to come up with evidence that might destroy the career of a superior whom he long hated. Meyer also suffered during this period and James Schlesinger moved him to London where he became CIA chief of station in England.
In March, 1976, James Truitt gave an interview to the National Enquirer. Truitt told the newspaper that Mary Pinchot Meyer was having an affair with John F. Kennedy. He also claimed that Meyer had told his wife, Ann Truitt, that she was keeping an account of this relationship in her diary. Meyer asked Truitt to take possession of a private diary "if anything ever happened to me".
Ann Truitt was living in Tokyo at the time of the murder. She phoned Ben Bradlee at his home and asked him if he had found the diary. Bradlee, who claimed he was unaware of his sister-in-law's affair with Kennedy, knew nothing about the diary. He later recalled what he did after Truitt's phone-call: "We didn't start looking until the next morning, when Tony and I walked around the corner a few blocks to Mary's house. It was locked, as we had expected, but when we got inside, we found Jim Angleton, and to our complete surprise he told us he, too, was looking for Mary's diary."
James Angleton, CIA counterintelligence chief, admitted that he knew of Mary's relationship with John F. Kennedy and was searching her home looking for her diary and any letters that would reveal details of the affair. According to Ben Bradlee, it was Mary's sister, Antoinette Bradlee, who found the diary and letters a few days later. It was claimed that the diary was in a metal box in Mary's studio. The contents of the box were given to Angleton who claimed he burnt the diary. Angleton later admitted that Mary recorded in her diary that she had taken LSD with Kennedy before "they made love".
Leo Damore claimed in an article that appeared in the New York Post that the reason Angleton and Bradlee were looking for the diary was that: "She (Meyer) had access to the highest levels. She was involved in illegal drug activity. What do you think it would do to the beatification of Kennedy if this woman said, 'It wasn't Camelot, it was Caligula's court'?" Damore also said that a figure close to the CIA had told him that Mary's death had been a professional "hit".
There is another possible reason why both Angleton and Bradlee were searching for documents in Meyer's house. Were they looking for material that Meyer had been collecting on CIA's covert activities?
After leaving the CIA in 1977 Meyer became a a nationally syndicated columnist. He also wrote several books including an autobiography, Facing Reality: From World Federalism to the CIA. In the book Meyer commented on the murder of his wife: "I was satisfied by the conclusions of the police investigation that Mary had been the victim of a sexually motivated assault by a single individual and that she had been killed in her struggle to escape." Carol Delaney, the longtime personal assistant to Meyer, later admitted: "Mr. Meyer didn't for a minute think that Ray Crump had murdered his wife or that it had been an attempted rape. But, being an Agency man, he couldn't very well accuse the CIA of the crime, although the murder had all the markings of an in-house rubout."
In February, 2001, the writer, C. David Heymann, asked Cord Meyer about the death of Mary Pinchot Meyer: "My father died of a heart attack the same year Mary was killed , " he whispered. "It was a bad time." And what could he say about Mary Meyer? Who had committed such a heinous crime? "The same sons of bitches," he hissed, "that killed John F. Kennedy." Cord Meyer died of lymphoma on 13th March, 2001.
In January 2004, E. Howard Hunt gave a taped interview with his son, Saint John Hunt, claiming that Lyndon Baines Johnson was the instigator of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and that it was organised by Cord Meyer, David Atlee Phillips, Frank Sturgis and David Sanchez Morales.
Looking back, I think that the impression Allen Dulles made on me was the decisive factor in my final decision to join the CIA. Behind his jovial and bluff exterior, he struck me as having a searching and undogmatic mind and a cosmopolitan and sophisticated knowledge of the world.... It seemed to me that an organization that had such a man in one of its top positions was one well worth working for. In the years that followed, I was to learn that in addition to his other qualities, he was a loyal and courageous friend in time of trouble.
In 1952 Cord Meyer showed up as a CIA official in Washington knowing the names and activities of these same trade union and national liberation organizations, and the public story was that he had defected from the one-world movement because he had suddenly seen that world government was in danger of being Communistic. This transformation, so out of character for a man of his methodical intellect, caused people within the movement to believe that World Federalism may have been a lengthy intelligence assignment.
It is 1956, then, and Ben Bradlee's brother-in-law is stationed as a covert operations agent in Europe. He travels constantly, inciting "student" demonstrations, "spontaneous" riots and trade union strikes; creating splits among leftist factions; distributing Communist literature to provoke anti-Communist backlash. This localized psychological warfare is ultimately, of course, warfare against the Russians, who are presumed to be the source of every leftist political sentiment in Italy, France, the entire theater of Meyer's operations. In Eastern Europe his aim on the contrary is to foment rebellion. Nineteen fifty-six is the year the CIA learns that the Soviets will indeed kill sixty thousand agency-aroused Hungarians with armored tanks.
All of this goes on quite apart from his marriage. Mary does not have a security clearance, so he cannot tell her what he is doing most of the time. They begin to drift apart, and Mary draws closer to her sister and to Ben. When in the late fifties her marriage to Cord ends, she goes to live with Tony and Ben in Washington, where Newsweek has transferred him, and sets up her apartment and art studio in their converted garage...
It is only a matter of time, Angleton feels, until Bradlee makes a serious mistake, as he eventually does with the publication of Conversations with Kennedy, in which he mentions that Mary Meyer was murdered, but only in a footnote. A former Post editor named James Truitt is enraged at this; according to Truitt, Bradlee has forced him out of the paper in a particularly nasty fashion, with accusations of mental incompetence, and now Truitt decides to get back at Bradlee by revealing to other newspapers his belief that Bradlee's story on the Cord Meyers in Conversations with Kennedy was not the whole story; that Mary Meyer had been Kennedy's lover and that the day of her murder, James Angleton of the CIA searched her apartment and burned her diary. Their feud unnecessarily implicates Angleton, to his disgust and bitterness.
My participation in this struggle provided a unique opportunity to learn at first hand the strengths and weaknesses of Communist organizational strategy. As nothing else could, it gave me an understanding of how formidable is that dedicated man, the Communist true believer, and it taught me never to underestimate the potential strength of a disciplined Communist minority. It revealed the techniques of covert infiltration and control, through which Communists have too often captured organizations from those who awoke too late to these dangers. In microcosm, our struggle was an extension of the political battle being waged then in Western Europe between the democratic left and the mass Communist parties of Italy and France. My role in this small skirmish made me realize how much was at stake on the larger stage.
In late August 1953, just after Bissell had finished advising Frank Wisner and the CIA on how it might "roll back" communism in Eastern Europe, he had an experience that made him want to join the agency full-time. Taking a few weeks off from the Ford Foundation, he went cruising in Maine on his yawl, the Sea Witch, with Tom Braden and his wife, Joan. Braden was the head of the International Organizations Division at the CIA, in charge of running anti-Communist front groups in Western Europe.
The Sea Witch was anchored in a harbor in Penobscot Bay when Braden received an urgent message informing him that the McCarthyites had discovered a Red at the CIA. The man in question was Braden's deputy, Cord Meyer, a young war hero from St. Paul's and Yale, who had lost an eye in combat in the Pacific. The Bradens immediately abandoned their vacation and drove through the night back to Washington to stand by young Meyer. The FBI was unwilling to give him a security clearance, although typically refusing to say why. Dulles, Wisner, and other top agency officials refused to permit an FBI interrogation of Meyer. Eventually, they forced the FBI to reveal the charges against Meyer, which were flimsy at best (he had once appeared on the same speaking platform as a leftist professor and joined liberal groups deemed subversive by the Justice Department). In fact, Meyer was a staunch anti-Communist. After some procedural foot-dragging, he was cleared just before Thanksgiving and allowed to keep his job.
Tom Braden later revealed that when he was head of the IOD, he had passed money to American labor leaders to fight Communist labor unions in Italy and Germany. Columnist Drew Pearson wrote, "Jay Lovestone, sometimes called (AFL-CIO president George) Meany's minister of foreign affairs... takes orders from Cord Meyer of the CIA." Lovestone, who was appointed executive secretary of the AFL Free Trade Union Committee after World War II and a dedicated cold warrior, needed little prodding from Braden and Meyer in opposing Communist influence in the international labor movement. At about the time that Meyer took charge of expanded operations in international organizations as chief of the Covert Action staff, Lovestone helped create the American Institute of Free Labor Development (AIFLD) for the purpose of training labor leaders in Latin America in labor organizing techniques and tactics. The AIFLD was one of several AFL-CIO entities that received covert funding from the CIA; Philip Agee alleged that its collaboration with CIA stations abroad was extremely close, amounting to a "country-team effort."
All of Washington was dying to be part of the new in crowd, and she was there. She was more inside than most men, including her exhusband, who would never find his name on a White House guest list even though he was at the very pinnacle of the intelligence community. When Kennedy was elected, Cord Meyer had hoped that his long wait in bureaucratic obscurity during the Eisenhower years would end with the advent of a Democratic administration. But that was not to be. The bad blood between him and Kennedy precluded that, as did the president's apparent fascination with his ex-wife.
First Cord tried for a diplomatic post. Jim Angleton asked Ben Bradlee to recommend Cord to Kennedy as ambassador to Guatemala. But Bradlee, who disliked Cord Meyer and for whom the feeling was returned (probably as a result of Bradlee's role in the European husband-dumping trip), never passed on the recommendation to Kennedy. Bradlee later wrote that he knew Kennedy did not like Cord and neither did he, owing to Cord Meyer's "derisive scorn for the people's right to know." In the book where he mentions his and Kennedy's dislike for Cord, he fails to mention the anecdote, widely discussed in Georgetown, about the night a drunken Cord Meyer lunged for Bradlee's neck across a dinner table.
As chief of the CIA's International Organizations Division, Cord Meyer sometimes met personally with Kennedy and his staff. Cord might have been involved in the anti-Castro plots, although his direct involvement was not revealed in public documents available as of 1997. He was certainly aware of them. In his private journal he described a 1960 meeting with a man named Pepe Figueres (probably Jose Figueres, president of Costa Rica, whose nickname was "Don Pepe") at which they "talked about what to do about Castro/Trujillo." He met often with Robert Kennedy after the Bay of Pigs. In October 1961 President Kennedy called Cord into the Oval Office to privately ask how to gain agency support for replacing CIA director Dulles with John McCone. Cord came away from that meeting feeling Kennedy was "much more serious and less arrogant than I'd known him before."
Cord was aware as early as October 1961 of Kennedy's interest in his ex-wife. Jim Angleton was paying keen attention to the young president's personal life and he had obliquely warned his old friend, although it doesn't appear he told Cord all he knew at the time. He later told Joan Bross, whose husband, John, was a high-ranking CIA official, that his bugging revealed that when Kennedy first called Mary, she went to the White House and found herself alone, and she asked to be taken home again. In his journal, Cord wrote that Angleton had told him Mary "baffles" Kennedy and that even with money and power, Kennedy "still yearns for a respect that eludes him from such as myself."
Cord eventually became troubled by the situation, although he never grasped the real nature of the relationship between his ex-wife and the President. In a long and melancholy journal entry in 1963 in which he listed his problems one by one, he wrote of "the peculiar relationship that exists between me and the President." Charles Bartlett, a mutual friend of Cord and the president, had spoken to Kennedy about a political appointment for Cord but "was told by JFK that due to some incident that occurred at the UN. conference in San Francisco in 1945 there was no possibility."
In February 1967, vice president Hubert Humphrey told a Stanford University audience that recent revelations of CIA activities represented "one of the saddest times, in reference to public policy, our Government has had." He was referring to the momentous exposures, then exploding across the front pages, of CIA meddling in the nation's largest student group, the United States National Student Association (NSA). The 1967 investigations, initially prompted by the editors of Ramparts magazine and authorized by various liberal-minded figures in corporate media and government, brought forth some of the most fully-disclosed operations regarding CIA influence over academia and a host of other domestic groups. Only after a presidential directive and promises by federal agencies to end covert support of domestic groups did the scandal subside. The damage control ultimately allayed such figures as Humphrey, Senator Robert Kennedy, and New York Times editorial page editor John Oakes. Yet subsequent failures to properly regulate covert actions along with legal loopholes and lack of clear policies within academic institutions have left persisting doubts regarding the use to which the CIA has put student groups and the academic community.
By most accounts, the relationship between the CIA and the NSA dates back to the early fifties, when both organizations were still in their infancies. As Tom Braden, who headed the agency's International Organization Division between '51 and '54, recounts in an article titled "I'm Glad the CIA is 'Immoral'," the NSA operation began after Allen Dulles, then in line for directorship, authorized Braden to provide support to domestic organizations in an all-out effort against the "international Communist front." Secret CIA funds were provided in 1952 to then NSA president William Dentzer, who later went on to become AID director in Peru. The New York Times also identified Cord Meyer, Jr. as having headed the NSA operation. However, the ties between the CIA and the National Student Association may actually stretch back to 1950, when, according to a New York Times interview with Frederic Delano Houghteling, then NSA secretary, the CIA gave him several thousand dollars to pay traveling expenses for a delegation of 12 representatives to a European international student conference.
It was poetic that on June 17- the day of the Watergate break-in Ted Shackley was in charge of the Western Hemisphere Division. Three of the five men who broke into the Democrats' office were Cuban exiles, past foot-soldiers in the covert war against Castro; another was an American veteran of the anti-Cuba campaign. They had been enlisted for the Watergate job by Hunt, who helped organize the Bay of Pigs invasion and now was part of the Nixon White House's undercover, dirty-tricks Plumbers unit. One of the five, Eugenio Rolando Martinez, was still on Shackley's payroll-another headache for Shackley and the Agency.
The day after the break-in, Shackley received a cable on Martinez from Jacob Esterline, his chief of station in Miami. The previous November, Martinez had mentioned his association with Hunt to the Miami station. But Martinez did not disclose the full extent of his contact-most notably, that he had participated with Hunt and the Plumbers in the breakin at the office of Daniel Ellsberg's psychiatrist. And in March of 1972, Martinez had told Esterline that Hunt was skulking about Florida for the White House and asked if the chief was aware of all the Agency activities in the Miami area. Clearly, Martinez thought Hunt was still with the Company - and that Esterline might be out of the loop. A worried Esterline wrote headquarters requesting information on Hunt's ties to the White House. The March 27, 1972, reply from Cord Meyer, the assistant deputy director for plans, was brusque: don't worry about Hunt in Miami; the ex-spy is on White House business. "Cool it," Meyer ordered.
In his dispatch to Shackley after the Watergate break-in, Esterline sought to preserve a cover story. The chief of station noted, accurately, that Martinez currently had two responsibilities for Shackley's division: reporting on maritime operations against Cuba and gathering intelligence on possible demonstrations at the Republican and Democratic conventions, both scheduled to be held in Miami. But Esterline deliberately kept out of his report information about Martinez's prior-and worrisome-references to Hunt's suspicious activities. Esterline did not reveal that the CIA had caught a whiff of the scandal to come and did nothing.
The day before yesterday Dick Helms, Tom Karamessines and I met with Nixon, his new Secretary of State, Rogers, and Henry Kissinger, his aide for National Security Affairs, in the cabinet room of the White House. Nixon was very self-assured, quick to ask the relevant questions and put us at our ease in talking to him. The taut and withdrawn young man whom I first met at the junior Chamber of Commerce awards dinner in Chattanooga, Tenn., more than twenty years ago was replaced by a man who struck me as confidently in possession of the enormous power of that office. We shall see what successive crises do to him, but I suspect he will be a far better President than I or my liberal friends ever expected. We shall see.
Many Deep Throat theorists have guessed that Deep Throat was an FBI or White House official, but it is possible that a CIA official would have had access to the same information. In his 1994 book, "Wedge: The Secret War Between the FBI and the CIA," author Mark Riebling suggests two prime suspects from the agency's ranks.
Cord Meyer: Meyer joined the CIA in 1951 at the behest of Allen Dulles, director of central intelligence, after a stint as president of the U.N.-centric United World Federalists, a post which got him denounced by Moscow Radio as "the fig leaf of American imperialism" and accused of Communist activity by Wisconsin Sen. Joseph McCarthy. At the CIA, Meyer adopted a strident anti-Soviet stance and became a top aide to Richard Helms, director of central intelligence under presidents Johnson and Nixon. Helms was fired from his post in 1973 after he refused to help Nixon use the CIA to stall the FBI's Watergate probe.
According to Riebling, Meyer fits the Deep Throat profile that Bob Woodward has sketched: intellectual, combat veteran, heavy drinker and chain smoker. Like Woodward, Meyer attended Yale. He described his experiences in a 1983 book, "Facing Reality: From World Federalism to the CIA."
Meyer also personifies the uniquely Washington phenomenon of the intermingling of government and the press. Meyer's wife, Mary Pinchot Meyer, was the sister of Washington Post executive editor Ben Bradlee's second wife, Tony Pinchot Bradlee. Meyer was estranged from his wife at the time of her murder on the towpath along the C&O Canal in Georgetown in 1964. The case has never been solved.
William E. Colby: Remembered as one of the last great "gentleman spies," Colby served as CIA director from 1973 to 1976. During Colby's tenure, the agency supported opponents of Chilean President Salvador Allende, a Marxist, who was killed during a 1973 military coup. While CIA station chief in Vietnam during the 1960s, Colby had directed Operation Phoenix, pooling U.S. intelligence resources to identify and "neutralize" Viet Cong leaders, ultimately resulting in as many as 20,000 deaths.
Colby is perhaps best known for telling Congress about the CIA "family jewels" -- detailed accounts of extensive covert operations that in 1975 prompted Sen. Frank Church (D-Idaho) to compare the agency to "a rogue elephant on the rampage." After leaving the CIA, Colby practiced law at Reid & Priest in Washington, D.C., and later at Donovan, Leisure, Newton & Irvine in Los Angeles. He also had a consulting business and spoke on the lecture circuit. In 1994 Colby signed on with Activision, an entertainment and video game publisher, to develop spy thriller video games.
Riebling counts Colby as a suspect because one of his given roles while working for Helms at the CIA was to protect the agency's image and thus to prevent it from being tarnished by the Nixon administration's troubles. According to Riebling, Woodward first met with Deep Throat within hours of Colby's damage-control assignment, and Colby was also "rumored to use underground parking structures for secret meetings."
Colby became the subject of a different mystery in April 1996 when he disappeared while canoeing on the Potomac River. He was missing for nine days before his body was found in a tributary. An autopsy revealed that Colby, age 76, had possibly suffered a stroke or heart attack before falling into the water and drowning.
The prospects that William E. Colby was Deep Throat dim considerably in light of Woodward's assertion that he would reveal Deep Throat's identity upon his death. Colby's widow, Sally Shelton-Colby, a top official at the US Agency for International Development, characterized the idea of her husband as the secret Watergate source as "preposterous." "My husband wasn't Deep Throat," she said. "Bill just didn't have it in him."
Cord Meyer Jr., an articulate and passionate strategist who helped guide the young Central Intelligence Agency's efforts to contain Soviet communism at home and abroad, died here on Tuesday. He was 80.
Mr. Meyer, whose career took extraordinary turns, from soldier to author to liberal activist to spy to newspaper columnist, died of lymphoma and other ailments at the Washington Home, a long-term health care facility.
In his 26 years at the C.I.A., where he held management positions in the covert operations branch, Mr. Meyer drew criticism from many liberals for his role in efforts to subsidize student and labor groups in this country as counterweights to Soviet-backed groups in Europe.
Yet, for all his ardent anti-communism, which associates said was a lifelong principle, Mr. Meyer faced accusations at the height of the McCarthy era that he was a Communist sympathizer.
George J. Tenet, the CIA director, released a statement calling Mr. Meyer "a passionate defender of freedom around the world."
"Cord defined the concept, doctrine and implementation of covert action on behalf of the security and interests of our nation," Mr. Tenet said....
As Soviet influence grew in the postwar era, Mr. Meyer spread his hopes for arms control and a democratic world government led by the United Nations.
"He was young and idealistic and very much involved in the one world movement," said Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, a former American delegate to the United Nations. But, she added, "he was a consistent anti-Communist" who did not trust the Soviets.
Mr. Meyer was a founding member of the United World Federalists, where he fought for controls on the use of atomic weapons. He also helped establish the American Veterans Committee, a liberal group that sought to deny preferential treatment for veterans. While in that organization, he came in direct contact with Communist infiltration techniques, said his son, Mark Meyer. Mr. Meyer's moves to thwart Soviet agents helped exonerate him from accusations that he would soon face, his son said.
With the explosion of an atomic bomb by the Soviet Union in 1949, Mr. Meyer saw his hopes for arms control dissipate and was troubled by the Berlin blockade and the invasion of South Korea. He left his postgraduate work at Harvard and signed up with the CIA
Two years after joining the spy agency, Mr. Meyer was accused by the F.B.I. of Communist sympathies. A CIA hearing board eventually acquitted him of all charges...
While at the CIA, Mr. Meyer eventually became second-in-command of worldwide clandestine services. But, in the public mind, he was more associated with a number of domestic activities, some of which were denounced as "dirty tricks" by his critics and are prohibited today.
In 1967, the leftist magazine Ramparts disclosed that the CIA, under Mr. Meyer's direction, had provided money to American student groups and a literary magazine as part of an anti-Communist campaign.
Cord Meyer Jr., 80, a figure central to many of the Central Intelligence Agency's covert operations during the Cold War, including the secret funding of student, labor and literary groups, died March 13, 2001, at the Washington Home. He suffered from a variety of ailments, including lymphoma.
Mr. Meyer, who was with the CIA from 1951 to 1977, joined as a prominent young liberal who was active in the world government movement. He advanced to become the top deputy in a section of the agency called the "dirty tricks department" by detractors because of its elaborate activities aimed at curbing communist influence.
Mr. Meyer gained notoriety in 1967 when it was revealed in the radical magazine Ramparts that, under his direction, the CIA had been subsidizing groups such as the National Student Association and the literary journal Encounter.
In a 1978 interview, Mr. Meyer said of the controversy, which was investigated by a presidential panel, that "the object was not to subvert students, of course, but to make it possible for the American point of view to be represented." At the time, Soviet operatives were having success recruiting student organizers around the world.
Mr. Meyer again made headlines in 1972, when it was revealed that he had asked an old friend from the world government movement, who was then in the publishing business, to allow the CIA to review the galley proofs of a book critical of the agency's dealings with the drug traffic in Southeast Asia.
The instances offered rare glimpses into the internal mechanics of a shadowy agency that was coming under increasing scrutiny by critics of its tactics. In both cases, Mr. Meyer said he had not run afoul of the law and had the nation's security interests at heart. In a statement yesterday, CIA Director George J. Tenet called Mr. Meyer "a passionate defender of freedom around the world."
Mr. Meyer's official title from 1967 to 1973 was assistant deputy director of plans, a post in which he worked with legendary spymaster Thomas H. Karamessines, also known as "The Greek." Among Mr. Meyer's duties was the CIA's management of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty.
It was assumed that Mr. Meyer would eventually advance to Mr. Karamessines's position, but the public disclosure about the book deal and the subsidization of the National Student Association apparently dampened his prospects. Over the years, colleagues had described him as intelligent, but also hard to get along with. He retired from the agency in 1977 after a posting as the London station chief.
Cord Meyer gave expression to his support of Angleton in, "Facing Reality," an autobiography subtitled, "From World Federalism to the CIA." In the same volume, he comments briefly on the murder of his wife: "I was satisfied by the conclusions of the police investigation that Mary had been the victim of a sexually motivated assault by a single individual and that she had been killed in her struggle to escape." Carol Delaney, a family friend and longtime personal assistant to Cord Meyer, observed that, "Mr. Meyer didn't for a minute think that Ray Crump had murdered his wife or that it had been an attempted rape. But, being an Agency man, he couldn't very well accuse the CIA of the crime, although the murder had all the markings of an in-house rubout."
Asked to comment on the case, by the current author (C. David Heymann), Cord Meyer held court at the beginning of February 2001 - six weeks before his death - in the barren dining room of a Washington nursing home. Propped up in a chair, his glass eye bulging, he struggled to hold his head aloft. Although he was no longer able to read, the nurses supplied him with a daily copy of The Washington Post, which he carried with him wherever he went. "My father died of a heart attack the same year Mary was killed , " he whispered. "It was a bad time." And what could he say about Mary Meyer? Who had committed such a heinous crime? "The same sons of bitches," he hissed, "that killed John F. Kennedy."
I heard from Frank that LBJ had designated Cord Meyer, Jr. to undertake a larger organization while keeping it totally secret. Cord Meyer himself was a rather favorite member of the Eastern aristocracy. He was a graduate of Yale University and had joined the Marine Corps during the war and lost an eye in the Pacific fighting.
I think that LBJ settled on Meyer as an opportunist... and a man who had very little left to him in life ever since JFK had taken Cord's wife as one of his mistresses. I would suggest that Cord Meyer welcomed the approach from LBJ, who was after all only the Vice President at that time and of course could not number Cord Meyer among JFK's admirers - quite the contrary.
As for Dave Phillips, I knew him pretty well at one time. He worked for me during the Guatemala project. He had made himself useful to the agency in Santiago, Chile where he was an American businessman. In any case, his actions, whatever they were, came to the attention of the Santiago station chief and when his resume became known to people in the Western hemisphere division he was brought in to work on Guatemalan operations.
Sturgis and Morales and people of that ilk stayed in apartment houses during preparations for the big event. Their addresses were very subject to change, so that where a fellow like Morales had been one day, you'd not necessarily associated with that address - the following day. In short, it was a very mobile experience.
Let me point out at this point, that if I had wanted to fictionalize what went on in Miami and elsewhere during the run up for the big event, I would have done so. But I don't want any unreality to tinge this particular story, or the information, I should say. I was a benchwarmer on it and I had a reputation for honesty.
I think it's essential to refocus on what this information that I've been providing you - and you alone, by the way - consists of. What is important in the story is that we've backtracked the chain of command up through Cord Meyer and laying the doings at the doorstep of LBJ. He, in my opinion, had an almost maniacal urge to become President. He regarded JFK, as he was in fact, an obstacle to achieving that. He could have waited for JFK to finish out his term and then undoubtedly a second term. So that would have put LBJ at the head of a long list of people who were waiting for some change in the executive branch.