On May 16, 1996, Buttimer followed up the telephone call with a letter to Wheaton in which she offered to meet with Wheaton should he find himself in the Washington D.C. area. We have also a copy of another letter from Buttimer to Wheaton in which she refers to a personal meeting with him in July 1996, at which time Wheaton delivered additional reference material to Buttimer. Unfortunately no contact report has been found for this meeting.
There is no further record of any contact by Buttimer or anyone else from the ARRB with Wheaton. In March, 1998 he again faxed the Board and noted that Buttimer seemed to have departed from the Board. He was never contacted again and only received generic Board news releases. The only response to his effort at follow-up is a very general reply from Eileen Sullivan, Press and Public Affairs Officer. In this "form letter" response, she refers to the Board as having received thousands of leads and suggestions and not being able to link any document releases to information provided by a particular individual.
Apart from this generic "thank you," there is no expression of further interest from the Board. And there was no further record of any comment from Gene Wheaton on the subject until Malcolm Blunt located the Wheaton ARRB files and brought them to the attention of this author, who then pursued the matter with the help of William Law. Law contacted and interviewed Wheaton in 2005, where he confirmed what was in the ARRB records.
A good deal of background research has been done on the Wheaton documents and on the names which Wheaton eventually disclosed to the ARRB in the documents submitted to Buttermer. These include the CV which Wheaton eventually identified as that of Carl Elmer Jenkins; a copy of Jenkin's passport circa 1983; and business cards for Carl Jenkins (ECM Corporation - International Security Assistance Specialists, New York, Washington DC, California, PO Box in Falls Church Va., Consultants for Human Development, Falls Church Va., identified as a mail drop and National Air, Liaison Officer). The National Air card has a note on it indicating that Jenkins had connected Wheaton to Raphael "Chi Chi" Quintero, Nestor Sanchez, Nestor Pino, Bill Bode, Rob Owen, and Vaughn Forrest.
Research confirms that beyond a doubt, Carl Jenkins was indeed a senior CIA officer who worked on paramilitary activities in support of the Bay of Pigs project and that by 1963-64 he was indeed directly involved with the AM/WORLD project, with Artime (AM/BIDDY) and Quintero (AM/JAVA-4).
In September, 1963 Jenkins wrote a general memo describing Artime's operational philosophy and concepts. This summarized his views about commando teams, infiltration teams, and guerrilla actions. The memo addresses military operations as Artime conceives them to be organized and conducted under a single organization (AM/WORLD) in which the Cubans can have faith. In a section on Commandos, there is discussion of the use of abductions and assassinations targeted against Cuban G-2 intelligence informants, agents, officers, and foreign Communists to raise the morale of people inside Cuba.'
In December, 1964, Jenkins prepared a summary report of Quintero's visit to Europe for a dialogue with Rolando Cubela in preparation for further meetings with Artime. The goal of this meeting was to develop contacts with a group inside Cuba which was capable of "eliminating Fidel Castro and of seizing and holding Havana, at least for an appreciable time that would be sufficient to justify recognition."'
There seems to be no doubt that Jenkins was indeed involved in a very special project in 1963-64 just as the CV Wheaton provided to the ARRB indicates. It should be noted that these AM/ WORLD activities were completely segmented from JM/WAVE and communications from Jenkins and Hecksher were not run through JM/WAVE. In fact ' the AM/ WORLD group operated its own facility in Miami (cryptonym "LORK")...
There seems some reason to at least speculate that both Quintero (who became second in command to Artime) and Rodriguez (who also joined Artime's offshore autonomous effort in 1963) may have been associated with CIA paramilitary officer Carl Jenkins before the Bay of Pigs. It also seems possible that Rodriguez may have been involved with the assassination project described in the NPIC memo and that the project was overseen by Carl Jenkins-this being the operation described by the NPIC personnel.
It appears that Carl Jenkins' paramilitary activities in support of Cuban operations were exactly as described to Gene Wheaton and exactly as summarized in the Jenkins CV submitted to the ARRB. There is also no doubt that Jenkins was very closely associated with Quintero in this period, as described by Wheaton. There are two books in print that also confirm these descriptions of Jenkins.
In The Death Merchant: The Rise and Fall of Edwin P. Wilson, author Joseph Goulden presents information from the CIA officer whom Quintero went to when he became suspicious of an assassination assignment being promoted to Quintero and other exiles by Ed Wilson. The officer (given the pseudonym "Brad Rockford") talks about entering the CIA on detached duty from the Marines, being career paramilitary, and running CIA paramilitaries out of JM/WAVE. It seems clear that Rockford was in fact Carl Jenkins.
In his book Manhunt: The Incredible Pursuit of a CIA Agent Turned Terrorist, Peter Maas mentions Carl Jenkins by name as the case officer for Quintero prior to the Bay of Pigs. Quintero was part of an advance team sent in before the invasion by Jenkins. After the landing failed, he hid out in Cuba for six weeks before making his way back to Florida. Afterwards Clines would assume a case officer role for Quintero, who would go on make to a number of sabotage and assassination missions into Cuba."
It seems worth pointing out that Jenkins' name has never been mentioned in any of the numerous works on the Bay of Pigs, the Miami station, or the secret war against Castro. Prior to this investigation of Wheaton's ARRB communications, Carl Jenkins had a far lower profile than even David Morales.
Interestingly, Gene Wheaton recommended that William Law read these books in a 2005 interview. Wheaton suggested that they would describe the individuals he had been associating with or had source information on from what has become known as Iran-Contra.
Additionally, it is of interest that Ted Shackley and Tom Clines (who was to succeed Jenkins as Quintero's case officer) would be familiar names from both JM/WAVE and the Wilson affair. It is also of interest that David Morales's long time friend Ruben independently mentioned that Morales had introduced him to Shackley, Clines and Wilson on a trip to Virginia-and later, to Artime.
Another name mentioned in Wheaton's communication with the ARRB was that of Irving Davidson. Wheaton implies no direct role for Davidson in the conspiracy, however he seems to suggest that Davidson may have unwittingly served as a sort of cut out, bagman, or facilitator. Davidson was a very long time "arranger" in Washington, a registered lobbyist for clients including the Samozas of Nicaragua, the Trujillos of the Dominican Republic, and the Murchisons of Dallas.
In Chapter 16 we examined Davidson's role as the broker of a Murchison deal involving a Haitian meat packing plant in which Bobby Baker had been involved. Baker and VP Johnson had traveled to the Dominican Republic in 1963 and Baker had gone back shortly afterwards, possibly leveraging Johnson's name in regard a casino deal involving his Las Vegas business partners. During the Dominican crisis, tapes record President Johnson and Abe Fortas discussing an intermediary involved in discussions with potential leaders. The name used in the conversation is "Davidson."
Murchison had introduced Davidson to FBI Director Hoover (Anthony Summers relates an interview with Davidson, who lived only a block away from Hoover, in which he describes frequent visits to Hoover and Tolson).'
Davidson represented Carlos Marcello in Washington and was running information between Murchison and Marcello in 1963: it was a government sting of a Murchison/Marcello project that resulted in Marcello's arrest. Reportedly Davidson had also been in contact with Marcello after his forced deportation by Robert Kennedy, helping him to covertly return to the United States. In Interference, Dan Moldea writes that Murchison had gotten Teamster investments for California land development and that there were many connections between Murchison and Marcello, including their joint use of Davidson. Moldea also describes Robert Kennedy's major 1963 Justice Department initiative against sports gambling and its potential impact on both Marcello and Murchison, both heavily involved with professional sports gambling.'
Davidson also had a history as an intermediary in arms transactions, as a collaborator with Cuban exile activities, and as an informant (apparently a protected informant) to both the FBI and CIA. One 1959 FBI memorandum concerns a report by Davidson about a purchase of military weapons. Howard Davis was seeking Davidson's assistance in obtaining quantity of 50 caliber machine guns to be used by Cuban counter revolutionaries. A 1959 CIA report describes Davidson being involved with Cuban exiles interested in forming a government in exile, shows Davidson making introductions for them in Washington.' Other memos show Davidson under FBI electronic (ELSUR) surveillance. And in November - December 1963, Davidson was the subject of NSA monitoring, apparently at the request of the FBI. The NSA made reports to the FBI on November 17, 19, and 27, 1963.
Also, as previously noted, Davidson was Jack Anderson's office mate and may have helped focus Anderson's attention on the bombshell lead from John Roselli that JFK had been killed by a team originally formed and trained to kill Castro. Anderson's "scoop" helped undercut Jim Garrison's early focus on CIA officers and anti-Castro exiles as the main actors in the conspiracy.
Carl Jerkins was a senior CIA officer with exactly the background described by Wheaton to the ARRB. Rafael Quintero was a well respected, covert operations activist associated with anti-Castro and anti-Communist activities over several decades. He was taken seriously at the highest levels of the Kennedy administration. Indeed, DDP Richard Helms himself once commented on an Operational Plan drafted by Quintero to Thomas Parrott, Executive Assistant to the Military Representative of the President in June of 1962."
Quintero had presented the plan to Attorney General Robert Kennedy and General Maxwell Taylor. Beyond that, Quintero was one of only a handful of exiles to be brought into both the AM/ WORLD and AM/LASH (Cubela) projects, initiated by Fitzgerald and eventually turned over the Artime autonomous group project. Quintero was well enough respected to be brought into the secret "extra-governmental" Contra effort, and was eventually solicited by Edward Wilson for an assassination project. In both cases Quintero eventually determined that improper activities were going on and informed on them, in the case of Wilson through his old friend Carl Jenkins.
Gene Wheaton claims that he heard discussions of the conspiracy that killed John Kennedy in Dallas during the time when he was in close personal touch with both Jenkins and Quintero. He never raised this issue when he himself attempted to blow the whistle on various aspects of the Contra supply project. He only raised it confidentially to the ARRB-and was quite surprised to find that his correspondence had been released to public view.
However when interviewed in 2005, he continued to stand by his story that he heard from people involved in the "secret war," who knew that Cuban exiles were incited to execute President Kennedy. These individuals had their own agendas. The exile shooters considered themselves above all as patriots. They had been trained to assassinate Fidel Castro, but in the end they turned their guns on John Kennedy.
Rafael Quintero died October 1, 2006, in Baltimore at the age of 66. A New York Times obituary by Tim Weiner notes that his fellow veteran, Felix Rodriquez, attended the memorial service. The obituary describes Quintero's insertion into Cuba prior to the Bay of Pigs and his escape afterwards. It also states that after his escape from Cuba, Quintero continued working on operations against Fidel Castro, including assassination plots and eventually was paid $4,000 a month to support clandestine arms shipments to the Contras in Nicaragua (despite the Congressional ban on direct U.S. support).
Gene Wheaton's name is not unknown to writers and readers of more recent conspiracy material. As Nick Schou related in an 1997 Orange County Weekly newspaper article, "although he said he was never a CIA employee, Gene Wheaton s experience has brought him into the murky world of agency-connected public-private partnerships."
After a long career with the U.S. Army's Criminal Investigations Division, including several years in Vietnam and Iran, Wheaton went to work for the Anaheim-based autonetics division of Rockwell International in 1976 (the company is now based in Costa Mesa). Three company executives had just been murdered in Tehran, Iran, and Rockwell needed Wheaton to direct its security operations for Project IBEX, a top-secret airborne electronic-surveillance system the company was building for the CIA in Iran.
At Wheaton's disposal were several other Rockwell officials with either CIA or NSA clearances and an elaborate encoding system provided by the CIA." Schou concluded that whatever else may have been written about Wheaton, his "credentials as a onetime covert operative are impossible to deny.""
The reason that Wheaton's name has appeared in print began with his and Carl Jenkins conversations with Paul Hoven in 1985. Hoven worked with a non-profit group devoted to exposing waste in government and the two had some interesting remarks to him about illegal arms shipments and government money being spent for things definitely not approved by Congress. As other leaks eventually began to occur over the North arms deals in the Middle East and Latin America, Hoven introduced Wheaton and Jenkins to Daniel Sheehan. Sheehan was engaged in an attempt to expose a variety of such activities and was happy to receive new sources."
David Corn writes that Wheaton s bottom line for Sheehan was that a "rogue element of the U.S. government was engaged in a host of nefarious activities including assassinations." Corn also describes the names that Wheaton offered to Sheehan. These included: Wilson, Secord, Clines, Hakim, Singlaub, Shackley and Bush.
Sheehan would include Wheaton's (and reportedly Jenkins') information about illegal arms deals and the names of those involved in his crusade and later legal actions.
In 1988 Wheaton offered an affidavit in support of Sheehan s legal action; Jenkins, another source for Sheehan, refused to give a similar affidavit and when questioned asserted that Sheehan must have totally misunderstood any conversations they might have had.
In a 2005 interview with William Law, Wheaton related the following: At some time in 1985/1986 (while he and Jenkins were beginning to talk to parties about illegal arms deals) Wheaton brought up the earlier discussions he had heard in regard to the JFK conspiracy and broached the subject of disclosure of that as well. He states that after a short time the pair declined and told him that if he ever raised the issue they would make him look totally unreliable and ruin his career as a security consultant. It is this author's speculation that once Wheaton was known to his friends as a "whistle blower", they may immediately have begun providing dis-information which would damage his credibility and undermine any remarks he might make in regard to their earlier conversations about the JFK assassination.
Eventually the Contra portions of Wheaton's assertions seem to have been substantially verified. North's own notebook confirms all the names except Shackley. Shirley Brill, a former CIA official, submitted an affidavit with the same names and claimed she heard Clines, Secord, Quintaro and Shackley plotting to frame Wilson.
Cameron Holmes, a Congressional investigating committee lead investigator, was convinced that Shackley was deeply involved in the Iran-Contra scandal. As he explained when he was interviewed by David Corn: "How could Shackley be the one person in this mob unaware of what was going on? Why was he so insistent he had not picked up a single whiff of the Contra operation or the Iran initiative? There was no crime in knowing. Shackley proclaimed his ignorance too much." Holmes was shocked when special counsel Lawrence Walsh decided not to pursue Shackley. He was not even called as a witness. Walsh did not even take Shackley's deposition until after Congress had finished its hearings on the affair.
However, many of Sheehan's assertions became highly controversial. In particular these seem to relate to a grand elaboration of the "secret team" assertions involving Shackley as the leader of a secret COA "wet ops" unit which had been created as far back as 1976. Sheehan also introduced another crime, the La Penaca, bombing and made it part of his overall case and cause. Clearly Wilson's information and the La Penaca bombing helped raise Sheehan's claims to that of extreme, global conspiracy and had a good deal to do with his losing his legal action. It is also clear that Wheaton's basic information about illegal arms sales, extra-legal "secret teams" and even about sanctioned assassinations dating back to the Cuban secret war have been validated as of 2005.
By virtue of his visibility in Iran-Contra and as virtually the only experienced security person to ever serve as a "whistle blower", Wheaton become sought after for comment in virtually every case to follow where it appeared that the Government might be covering up covert activities. As an example, families from the 1985 Gander crash hired Wheaton to investigate rumors that the government was not telling the full truth about the crash. He concluded the plane was operated by Arrow Airlines which had served as a CIA front company and that the airlines had transported arms from Israel to Iran as part of North's Contra project. Wheaton posited that the bombing of the plane was a form of retaliation by the Iranians for North's arms sale scam.
Eventually mainstream media sources, including Time magazine, reached the same general conclusion that the crash was extremely questionable and that Middle Eastern interests of some sort were behind it. Wheaton is even quoted in one Time article on Gander."
Wheaton's views, his goal of exposing secret agendas and secret teams plus his willingness to comment result in reporters and writers calls (and citations) whenever anything possibly terrorist associated happens-such as the OKC bombing. For the mainstream press and for some researchers, the fact that Wheaton has become a "lightning rod" for conspiracy commentary and speculation certainly affects his perception as a source. Interestingly there is only one subject he has never addressed in his public remarks, that of the Kennedy assassination. That he saved only for confidential disclosure to the ARRB.
At present, Wheaton's reports of the individuals and conversations he heard discussing the attack on JFK (heard prior to his and Jenkins involvement with people investigating Iran-Contra) appear consistent and credible. However it is reasonable to speculate that virtually anything shared with him following his proposal that Jenkins and Quintaro go on the record about the Kennedy matter may have been "contaminated".
Wheaton himself may have become a target for disinformation at that point, cultivated to ensure that he would be greeted with skepticism if he ever chose to disclose the conversations he had heard.