Gordon Novel

Gordon Novel

Gordon Novel was born in New Orleans in 1938. According to Alan J. Weberman: "In his youth, Gordon Novel belonged to a neo-Nazi group and was arrested and charged with bombing a Metairie, Louisiana, theater that admitted blacks". In the early 1960s Novel ran an electronics firm which specialized in selling equipment used for bugging.

It was claimed by Jim Garrison that Novel was formerly a member of the Central Intelligence Agency and was an associate of Sergio Arcacha Smith, David Ferrie and Guy Banister. It was also reported that Novel worked with the Cuban Revolutionary Front during the Bay of Pigs operation via the CIA proprietary, the Evergreen Advertising Agency.

According to William Torbitt Novel had been seen by a Dallas attorney having meetings with Jack Ruby and William Seymour in the Carousel Club during October and November, 1963. Another author, Paris Flammonde (The Kennedy Conspiracy), claims that Novel was questioned on five separate occasions following the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

Jim Garrison discovered that Sergio Arcacha Smith, David Ferrie and Guy Banister had been involved in a CIA operation to pick up "war material" for the Bay of Pigs attack at from the Schlumberger Well Company. Garrison subpoenaed Novel but he fled to Ohio. However, the James Rhodes, the Governor of Ohio, refused to extradite him unless Garrison agreed not to question him on the assassination.

A few weeks after Novel fled from New Orleans a woman cleaning his old apartment found a penciled draft of a letter wedged under a plastic cover alongside the kitchen. The letter was addressed to a Mr. Weiss. This letter was passed to Jim Garrison who concluded that it was a letter to Novel's CIA contact. "I took the liberty of writing you direct and apprising you of current situation, expecting you to forward this through appropriate channels. Our connection and activity of that period involves individuals presently about to be indicted as conspirators in Garrison's investigation."

Novel also said in the letter: "We have temporarily avoided one subpoena not to reveal Double Chek activities or associate them with this mess. We want out of this thing before Thursday 3/67. Our attorneys have been told to expect another subpoena to appear and testify on this matter. The fifth amendment and/or immunity (and) legal tactics will not suffice." Alan J. Weberman has pointed out that E. Howard Hunt worked for Double Chek in Miami.

In an article in Ramparts Magazine, William Turner claims that Novel admitted that the pick up at the Schlumberger Well Company was one of "the most patriotic burglaries in history." Novel is also said to have confessed that on the day the munitions were picked up, he "was called by his CIA contact and told to join a group which was ordered to transport munitions from the bunker to New Orleans."

In 1974 Jack Anderson reported that as a result of Watergate break-in, Charles Colson asked Novel to build a "degaussing gun" to erase tapes stored at the CIA and the White House that would incriminate Richard Nixon.

In an interview in 2006 Novel rejected the claims that he was a CIA agent: "I’m not a CIA agent. I’m affiliated, I work with, and we have a mutual admiration society based upon my relationship with the individuals I work with.... The CIA has multiple sides but it’s been my experience over the years that they’re basically the only good guys in the entire United States government. They’re really patriots. Most of ‘em are patriots and I’ve never known... I personally have never known them to do anything criminal, ever. And they didn’t kill John Kennedy and they didn’t kill a lot of people that they’ve been accused of causing the death of but I don’t know that to be true. So I can tell you that my experience with ‘em has been like dealing with Eagle Scouts."

Gordon Novel died on 4th October, 2012.

© , September 1997 - April 2014

Primary Sources

(1) Jim Garrison, On the Trail of the Assassins (1988)

I learned that the Agency was actually attempting to obstruct our investigation. This only added to my suspicions that the C.I.A. - or some part of it-had been deeply involved in the assassination. The Agency's attempted obstruction of our investigation became increasingly perceptible when we tried to extradite Gordon Novel from Ohio. This legal maneuver grew out of the clandestine visit by some of Guy Banister's associates to the blimp base at Houma, Louisiana. They had removed munitions from the Schlumberger bunker in the middle of the night and brought them into New Orleans.

Some time after we learned about this jaunt, an informant advised us that Novel had taken a photograph of the truck used in picking up the munitions. Subsequently, Novel had sold the photograph to Walter Sheridan of N.B.C. I discussed this unusual case with the D.A. of Houma, and he insisted that as far as his jurisdiction was concerned, the removal of the munitions from the Schlumberger bunker had been a burglary. In my judgment, the transport of the burglarized material into New Orleans had been a felony, and the disposal of evidence relating to the offense (sale of the photograph to NBC) also was a crime committed in New Orleans.

However, before I could question Novel about this latest adventure involving Guy Banister and his personal war against Cuba, Novel picked up word that I was looking for him (probably from one of the half dozen CIA men I had naively embraced as associates) and hit the road.

We located Novel in Ohio and moved for his extradition in April 1967. We wanted to know why the ammunition had been taken from the Schlumberger bunker, why it had been brought into New Orleans, and why the photograph of the truck had been sold to Walter Sheridan.

In the following weeks, Gordon Novel, through interviews and press conferences in Ohio, began providing the public with more enlightenment about some of the C.I.A.'s activities than we had been able to develop in the previous several months. Among other things, he announced that the Schlumberger bunker business had been a CIA enterprise all the way.

(2) Gordon Novel, letter to his CIA contact (January, 1967)

I took the liberty of writing you direct and apprising you of current situation, expecting you to forward this through appropriate channels. Our connection and activity of that period involves individuals presently about to be indicted as conspirators in Garrison's investigation.... Garrison has subpoenaed myself and an associate to testify before his grand jury on matters which may be classified TOP SECRET. Actions of individuals connected with DOUBLE-CHEK CORPORATION in Miami in first quarter of 1961.

We have no current contact available to inform of this situation. So I took the liberty of writing you direct and apprising you of current situation. Expecting you to forward this through appropriate channels.

Our connection and activity of that period involves individuals presently about to be indicted as conspirators in Mr. Garrison's investigation.

We have temporarily avoided one subpoena not to reveal Double Chek activities or associate them with this mess. We want out of this thing before Thursday 3/67. Our attorneys have been told to expect another subpoena to appear and testify on this matter. The fifth amendment and/or immunity (and) legal tactics will not suffice.

Mr. Garrison is in possession of unsworn portions of this testimony. He is unaware of Double-Chek's involvement in this matter but has strong suspicions. I have been questioned extensively by local FBI recently as to whether or not I was involved with Double-Chek's parent holding corporation during that time. My reply on five queries was negative. Bureau unaware of Double-Chek association in this matter. Our attorneys and others are in possession of complete sealed files containing all information concerning matter. In the event of our sudden departure, either accidental or otherwise, they are instructed to simultaneously release same for public scrutiny in different areas simultaneously.

Appropriate counteraction relative to Garrison's inquisition concerning us may best handled through military channels vis a vis D.I.A. man. Garrison is presently colonel in Louisiana Army National Guard and has ready reserve status. Contact may be had through our attorneys of current record, Plotkin, Alverez, Sapir.

(3) J. Edgar Hoover, memo to SAC, New Orleans (27th April, 1967)

On 4/25/67 Mr. Howard Osborn, Director of Security, CIA, informed the Bureau's liaison representative that Gordon Novel's alleged claim that he was associated with is completely false. Mr. Osborn stated that Gordon Novel, David William Ferrie and Sergio Arcacha Smith have never been of operational interest to CIA. He also stated that the Evergreen Advertising has no connection whatsoever with CIA.

(4) Alan J. Weberman, Coup D'Etat in America: The CIA and the Assassination of John F. Kennedy (1975)

Novel ran an electronics firm in New Orleans which specialized in selling equipment used for bugging. s' His lawyer claimed he held a position identical to that of Hunt, an intermediary between the Cuban exiles and the CIA." After initially denying that he had had any part in the burglary, he stated that "It was one of the most patriotic burglaries in history," and that it was done under the direction of the CIA as part of the Bay of Pigs operation. Novel confessed he had been given a key to the bunker and that the people he had met there, Arcacha Smith and David Ferrie were also working for the CIA."

Note the fact that the munitions bunker that was burglarized was owned by the Shlumberger Corporation, the same people DeMohrenschildt approached for help in his Haitian venture. The New Orleans States Item reported that a reliable source informed them that there were crates marked "Shlumburger" in Guy Bannister's office soon after the burglary.

Novel also worked with the propaganda end of the invasion. As a director of a CIA front called the Evergreen Advertising Agency, he was responsible for transmitting cryptographic messages to alert the exiles to the invasion date. Hunt was in charge of domestic propaganda for the Bay of Pigs operation and was probably Novel's superior.

After Garrison indicted him, Novel eventually ended up in McLean, Virginia, where he took a lie-detector test from a retired Army Intelligence agent, which, of course, proved he was innocent. While he was away from New Orleans, two women who had taken over Novel's apartment discovered a note written in his hand which was seemingly addressed to his CIA contact...

During the planning of the Bay of Pigs invasion, Howard Hunt also worked for Double-Chek, a dummy electronics firm located just outside Miami. "Headquarters proved to be an office building converted for our use and disguised as an electronics firm," Hunt stated. Novel's lawyer said his client's work at DoubleChek had "little or nothing to do with the assassination of President Kennedy," although he admitted that "...everything in the letter as far as Novel is concerned is actually the truth."

(5) Dave Reitzes, Gordon Novel: CIA Agent or Con Artist? (2004)

Gordon Novel has claimed at times to be or to have been involved with the CIA. No evidence supports this - in fact, Novel's been caught in any number of lies - and CIA internal memoranda from the time of the Garrison probe deny any connection with or knowledge of Novel.

Here's a repost of some assorted notes on Novel, beginning with the subject that brought Novel his original notoriety - his claim that a munitions burglary he participated in had actually been a CIA operation. (The 1961 heist consisted of explosives and possibly other arms from a Houma, La., bunker owned by Schlumberger Well Surveying Corporation. Other participants in the robbery included Sergio Arcacha Smith and David Ferrie, and the booty was sent to some of Arcacha's anti-Castro buddies for use against El Jefe.)

Contrary to later claims by participant Gordon Novel (a self-proclaimed electronics expert who was working with Garrison until Garrison decided that Novel's associations were suspicious and subpoenaed him as a witness, whereupon Novel left the state), the heist appears to have been, in fact, a simple burglary, not the CIA "weapons transfer" alleged in many conspiracy books.