Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Judith Campbell Exner and JFK

50 years later, JFK girlfriend Judith Campbell Exner deserves an image makeover
November 21, 2013

By Patt Morrison

Judith Exner, youngest daughter of a Los Angeles architect, had her name…
The three gunshots fired in Dallas 50 years ago meant a presidential legacy unfulfilled — and a personal life unresolved.
The sorry mess of sexual exploits that President John F. Kennedy left behind took years to emerge. The supporting cast was vast, and I knew one of them, a woman who was, next to Marilyn Monroe, the most famous one, though not by her choice.

Judith Campbell Exner was the first of JFK’s lovers to be publicly identified, and so she was pilloried by a public furious at learning that at least one wing of Camelot had more in common with the Playboy Club.

When I met her, in the late 1990s, she was living in virtual seclusion in Orange County, a permanently wounded soul, first by JFK, then by a congressional committee that had promised her anonymity and then had thrown her under the bus — and ever after by a public that didn’t much want to hear what she had to say on her own behalf, and let her know it.
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“People who loved Jack,” she told me, “felt if they could degrade me, then he was just a bad boy. On the other side [his critics] felt they could destroy Jack by destroying me, by making me as bad as possible.”

She loved JFK unwisely and too well; he clearly was far more important to her than she to him, although their relationship went on for several years. And had she known then about all those other women, she told me, she would have walked out.
She was the well-off daughter of a prosperous architect. She grew up in Pacific Palisades, a Roman Catholic who married at age 18 and was divorced several years after from her philandering husband. She felt guilt-wracked for that, and then for sleeping with the president who was the star of the nightly news.

Her actor-husband had moved the couple into Hollywood circles with the likes of Frank Sinatra; it was Sinatra who introduced Judith to a Massachusetts senator who was running for president, and a man she knew as businessman Sam Flood — in fact, mobster Sam Giancana.

Here’s much more of what she told me about what she was and wasn’t — myth-busting that “mob moll” stuff, and explaining her thoughts about tawdry matters like the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky affair.

I liked her, but more than that, I felt sorry for her, fearful, ill, locked in the past. I thought she had been treated scandalously by men who purported to love her and by men who made and wrote history.

After the shock of the JFK assassination, she isolated herself from almost everyone but people she knew from her old life. She was afraid she would be killed too. She had been told the FBI was keeping tabs on her. And the day after Marilyn Monroe died, she said, her apartment had been burgled, the phone records taken but the jewels left behind.

She is a fragile vehicle for a national reassessment of political private lives, but she is that nonetheless. JFK’s sexual escapades were known in his circles and to some in the media, who kept quiet.

It was a hypocritical time, an age of double standards, the decorous, duplicitous 1960s. Later true accounts like those by Kennedy’s lovers, and fictional versions of the period like “Mad Men,” show the era for what it was: Men who got “the babes” earned the atta-boy admiration from other men; women who were the “babes” were, by definition, sluts, the topics of sniggering gossip.

Exner’s reputation deserves to be made over with contemporary understandings, not the frat-boy innuendo of the 1960s. In the 1970s, the personal started to become political. Treating women like Kleenex was no longer the mark and privilege of an important man, and what might have been just good ol’ boys’ good times 50 years ago now has public and political consequences, from Anthony Weiner to Mark Sanford to Bob Filner. Today she would hear not just insults and threats; she would find legions of women siding with her and supporting her.

Judith Exner Is Dead at 65; Claimed Affair With Kennedy
By ERIC PACE
Published: September 27, 1999

Judith Campbell Exner, who asserted in a 1988 interview in People magazine that she had been having an affair with John F. Kennedy when he was elected President, died late Friday at the City of Hope Cancer Center in Duarte, Calif., a suburb of Los Angeles.

She was 65 and lived in Orange County.

The cause was breast cancer, The Associated Press reported.

Over the years, Mrs. Exner gave varying accounts of her supposed relationship with Kennedy. But as Jeff Greenfield wrote in a review of Mrs. Exner's autobiography, ''My Story'' (1977), in The New York Times Book Review, she ''sought no publicity, at least until after a Senate committee investigating C.I.A.-Mafia connections summoned her to testify and press reports revealed her supposed connections to Kennedy'' and to Sam Giancana, a Chicago organized-crime figure.

Former aides maintained that Kennedy had not had an affair with Mrs. Exner, who was then Judith Campbell. Dave Powers, a Kennedy aide who Mrs. Exner said had assisted in setting up her encounters with the President, said in 1991, ''The only Campbell I know is chunky vegetable soup.''

In the 1988 interview, Mrs. Exner also said Kennedy had her arrange more than 10 meetings with Giancana, whom she said was also her lover. She said the meetings concerned, among other things, Kennedy's need for Giancana's help in the Democratic Presidential primary in West Virginia.

But Giancana's daughter, Antoinette, said that Giancana disliked Kennedy and that he never mentioned any contact with Kennedy while he was President.

Mrs. Exner also said that while Kennedy was in the White House she shuttled messages -- on topics including a plan to kill President Fidel Castro of Cuba -- between him and Giancana.

Kitty Kelley, who interviewed her for People, said Mrs. Exner received about $50,000 for the interview.

In Vanity Fair in 1996, Mrs. Exner said she had ended the affair, which she said had lasted two years, because she did not like being dubbed ''the other woman.''

She also said she had an abortion after becoming pregnant with Kennedy's baby, almost a year before Kennedy was assassinated.

A native New Yorker, Mrs. Exner was born Judith Immoor and was reared in California. Her marriage to an actor, William Campbell, which ended in divorce after six years, helped her make contacts within the entertainment industry.

After her divorce, she dated Frank Sinatra, and through him she met Kennedy in 1960 in Las Vegas, Nev., said her lawyer, James Lesar of Washington.

She married a professional golfer, Dan Exner, in the mid-1970's and moved to Orange County. They reportedly divorced several years ago.

Mrs. Exner is survived by a son, David Bohrer; two brothers, Allen and Fred Immoor; and a sister, Joan Collingwood.
Photo: Judith Campbell Exner (Associated Press, 1977)


The Exner Files: Judith Campbell Exner, JFK and the Mob

A beautiful woman is introduced to a handsome, charismatic Senator running for President by an Academy Award winning movie star. They fall into an affair. Meanwhile, the beautiful woman is also introduced to the head of the Chicago mob by the same man. The beautiful woman carries messages and arranges meetings between the now President of the United States and the Chicago mobster. Sounds like the plot of a thriller, or a conspiracy theorists wet dream doesn’t it? However in this case, it happens to be true. Allegedly.

This much can be proved.

Fact #1: Judith Campbell as she was known then was introduced to John F. Kennedy in Las Vegas by Frank Sinatra.

Fact #2: Several months later, Judith was introduced to ‘Sam Flood’ in Miami by Frank Sinatra. Later on she learned that he was actually Sam Giancana, the head of the Chicago mob.

Fact #3: Judith and JFK carried on an affair for almost three years, meeting in hotel rooms, the Georgetown house he shared with Jackie, and even the White House (in her autobiography, Judith gives the phone numbers of both Evelyn Lincoln, JFK’s secretary as well as the phone number of the Georgetown house.

Fact #4: While she was seeing JFK, Judith was also seeing Sam Giancana, platonically she claims until the relationship with JFK was over.

Fact #5: J. Edgar Hoover had lunch with JFK in March of 1962, where he allegedly handed him the FBI report detailing Judith’s relationship with Giancana.

The whole story came to light in 1975 during the Senate Select Committee to study Governmental Operations to Respect to Intelligence Activities (aka the Church Committee) in its report on CIA assassination attempts. The report stated that a ‘close friend’ of JFK had also been a friend of mobsters Sam Giancana as well as Johnny Roselli, an associate of Giancana. It was the first time that JFK’s rampant infidelities had been revealed to the public. When Exner’s name was finally revealed, she gave a press conference claiming that while she had had a personal relationship with JFK, she denied that she had any knowledge of mob activities.

How did an ordinary woman find herself involved not only with the leader of the free world but also one of the most notorious gangsters in mob history? Nothing in Judith Campbell’s background seemed to suggest that she had a penchant for taking a walk on the wild side. She was born Judith Immoor on January 11, 1934 on the East Coast but she grew up in tony Pacific Palisades in California. Her father was an architect, and her family was well off if not quite wealthy. When Judith was 14, her mother was in a serious car accident, which traumatized Judith so much that she dropped out of high school and was privately tutored.

At the age of 16, Judith met William Campbell, a minor contract player through her sister Jackie who had started a movie career under the name of Susan Morrow. They married when Judith turned 18 in 1952, but the marriage was over by 1958. Judith claimed in her autobiography that Campbell cheated on her repeatedly, which he denies. Whatever the case, Judith was footloose and fancy free and indulging in the single life that she felt that she had been denied by marrying so young. With an inheritance from her grandmother and her alimony, Judith was free to spend her days getting ready for her nights out on the town.

In 1959 she began a brief romance with Frank Sinatra that ended when he tried to get her to participate in a threesome. Still, she accepted his invitation to come to Las Vegas to see him at the Sands hotel, where he was filming Oceans 11 and performing at night with the Rat Pack consisting of Dean Martin, Sammy Davis jr., Joey Bishop and Peter Lawford, brother-in-law of JFK (he was married to JFK’s sister Patricia). It was there that she met JFK in February of 1960. Judith claimed not to know who he was or that he was running for President of the United States. Apparently spending three hours a day getting ready didn’t leave much time for reading newspapers of newsmagazines. Although there were other people at the table, Judith wrote that JFK spent all his time focused on her. “It was as if every nerve and muscle in his whole body was poised at attention. As I was to learn, Jack Kennedy was the world’s greatest listener.”

Soon they were trysting whenever JFK had a spare moment. In the meantime, Frank Sinatra introduced Judith to Giancana while she was attending his show in Miami. Soon when she wasn’t traipsing across the country to see JFK, she was spending time with Giancana in Chicago. Despite the fact that he was a mafia kingpin and was blatantly racist, Judith liked the way that Giancana treated her, and the fact that he didn’t press her into a sexual relationship. Judith and JFK’s relationship petered out sometime in June of 1962. Judith claimed that after awhile, the relationship no longer felt right. She felt that JFK had become too demanding, wanting her to fly to be with him at a moment’s notice, and that she was expected to service him during sex.

After her relationship with JFK was over, Judith and Giancana drifted into a sexual relationship that ended when she turned down his marriage proposal. By 1963, the relationship was over. Still the FBI continued to hound her because of her associations with Giancana and Johnny Roselli. Judith began dating Eddie Fisher and a pitcher for the Angels. She suffered health problems from the injections she had received from Dr. Max Jacobson, also known as ‘Dr. Feelgood.’ Jacobson was notorious in the 60’s for giving celebrities shots filled with not just vitamins but also amphetamines. In 1965, Judith gave birth prematurely to a son who she later gave up for adoption. She never revealed the name of the father.

In her autobiography, Exner also managed to include photographic evidence of plane tickets, tickets to JFK’s inauguration and other pieces of evidence to bolster her claim that she and JFK had an affair. However, in 1988, she changed her tune and in an article in People magazine written by Kitty Kelley, Exner claimed for the first time that she was ferrying information and money back and forth between Kennedy and Giancana.
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In fact she claimed that the only reason that she spent time with Giancana at all was because JFK had asked her to. Later she claimed that Robert F. Kennedy knew that she was carrying money and information back and forth between JFK and Giancana.

Exner claimed that she lied to the Church Committee and in her autobiography because she was afraid for her life. Both Giancana and Johnny Roselli had been killed, their murderers never found. Now that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer and it was terminal, Exner felt she needed to come clean. She repeated her story in a 1997 article written by Liz Smith for Vanity Fair, and also to Seymour Hersh for his book The Dark Side of Camelot. She also claimed that she had become pregnant by JFK and had an abortion in early 1963.

But was she telling the truth or just trying to embellish her story for money? After her story was revealed, Judith was called everything from a party girl, to a call girl in various biographies of JFK. What better way to bolster her reputation than to claim that her real reason for hanging out with mobsters was because she was a go-between for the President of the United States? Sounds much better than just being a woman who fell for inappropriate men, who liked to walk a little bit on the wild side doesn’t it? Her story also dovetailed neatly with the conspiracy theorists who believe that the mob was involved with JFK’s death. The revelations that the CIA had hired Roselli and Giancana to help assassinate Castro also lent credence to her story.
The plot to Assassinate Castro
In the 1960's, the CIA contacted Johnny Roselli, Sam Giancana and Salvatore Trafficante to help them assassinate Castro. Why the Mafia? Well Castro's rise to power had destroyed the Mafia's hold on the Casino's which they had controlled during the previous regime. They had lost millions of dollars when the Casino's were confiscated when Castro took over. Also, most of them still had contacts with disgruntled anti-Castro associates who would be happy to help them with the job. The CIA offered Giancana and Roselli a $100,000 to do the job, which they refused, happy to do it for free. Unfortunately, the Three Stooges could have done a better job. Despite the resources of both the Mafia and the CIA, they were never able to get the job done, despite repeated attempts. Everything was tried from poisoning his food to his cigars. In the meantime, Giancana used the services of the CIA, to have comedian Dan Rowan's dressing room and hotel bugged in Las Vegas to see if Rowan was having an affair with his girlfriend, singer Phyllis McGuire. The man sent to the job ended up arrested which almost blew the whole operation sky high. The revelations of the CIA plot to kill Castro was revealed in the 'Family Jewel' papers that were released. Roselli had actually tried to use the information to keep from being deported but the CIA didn't care. The attempts continued while Johnson was President. The question still remains whether JFK or RFK knew of the plot.

However there are also a few holes. Why would JFK personally meet with mobsters when he must have known that they were being bugged and spied on by the FBI? He had minions to do stuff like that, to keep his hands clean. His brother, the attorney general, Robert F. Kennedy, was publicly waging a war against the mob. And why would JFK trust a woman he hardly knew, a woman that he was sleeping with, to not only ferry money and important documents, but to also accept payoffs for him from defense contractors in California?(another Exner embellishment). Exner claimed that JFK didn’t trust the CIA, and that he felt that no one would suspect a woman.

The one potential witness, a man named Martin Underwood, who initially claimed that he had followed Exner on the train to Chicago in April of 1960 to make sure that she delivered the money to Giancana, recanted his statement. Seymour Hersh in The Dark Side of Camelot even claimed that JFK was blackmailed into giving a defense contract for a new plane. They threatened to expose his relationship with Exner. Critics of her story claim that Exner is an unreliable witness, that she had a history of depression, she’d been addicted to alcohol and amphetamines, and she’d been hounded and harassed by the FBI. Instead she invented a role for herself out of John le CarrĂ© thriller.

Judith Campbell Exner died at the age of 65 on September 24, 1999, still insisting that she played a bigger role in history. She has her detractors and her defenders on either side. Historians will probably never know the truth unless some new evidence pops up that bolsters her claims. However, she will be remembered as one of the first people to pop the bubble that was the Camelot myth about JFK.

Power and Beauty– starring Natasha Henstridge as Judith Campbell Exner, Kevin
Anderson as JFK, Peter Friedman as Sam Giancana. 2002, Produced by
Showtime. Three years after her death, Showtime produced a movie based on
Exner’s story. Despite the salacious material, the movie was incredibly
dull. The biggest problem is that Exner’s role in the story is basically
passive. Occasionally she stands up for herself, when Giancana pays her
bill for her in Miami soon after they meet, and Judith insists on paying him
back. Henstridge isn’t a good enough actress to make the viewer either
sympathize or care about Exner and the voice-over narration is distracting.

Sources include:

My story: Judith Campbell Exner and Ovid Demetrias
The Dark Side of Camelot, Seymour Hersh.
Mafia Moll: The Judith Campbell Exner Story by Sam Sloan

You might also like:

The Myth of Mob Gallantry
BY Mark Gribben
The Myth of Mob Gallantry
BY Mark Gribben

Judith Exner: From the Outfit to the Oval Office

Gossip columnist Liz Smith once called Judith Campbell Exner "one of the most maligned people in American history."
In an interview with CNN's Larry King, Smith recalled the woman who would finally put the Camelot myth of President John F. Kennedy to rest, describing Exner as "a deluded 25-year-old girl who was in love with the president of the United States."

"But no dummy, Judith?" King asked.

"No," Liz replied. "I mean, terribly, terribly misunderstood, maligned, misbelieved because, you know, she did lie a lot, Larry, because she was fearful for her life. And I think what people don't remember about Judith Exner was she didn't talk or blab or anything until they made her, a congressional committee made her talk."

Judith Campbell Exner

Long before the Clinton sex scandal, it wasn't just the fact that Exner had had an affair with one of America's most beloved presidents that prompted a congressional committee to issue her a subpoena and get her to break her silence. It was the fact that Exner had served as go-between for Kennedy and one of the Underworld's most feared leaders, the head of the Chicago Outfit: Sam "Momo" Giancana. What's more, while Exner was carrying on her affair with Kennedy in the Oval Office, she was still romantically involved with Momo.

Frank Sinatra

Exner's story begins in 1960, when Frank Sinatra, whom she had met through her ex-husband's Hollywood connections, invited her to Las Vegas, where he was filming the original Ocean's 11. While she was there, the Elizabeth Taylor look-alike, known then as Judith Campbell, met an up-and-coming United States senator from Massachusetts, who had just announced he was seeking the Democratic nomination for president. The Exner-Kennedy relationship started right there in Las Vegas, and Judith told interviewers that because she was in such constant contact with Kennedy, she didn't know he was married for several weeks.

Sam Giancana

It was Frank Sinatra who brought in the final side of this bizarre love triangle, by introducing Judith to Sam Giancana, who she knew as "Sam Flood." Exner said that she was not dating Kennedy and Giancana at the same time, but that she maintained a platonic friendship with Momo while Kennedy was seeking the presidential nomination. She also said she didn't know of Giancana's mob ties when she was introduced to him, but in hindsight, Kennedy obviously did.
"[We] were talking about the campaign, of course, and toward the end of the dinner, Jack asked me, could I set up a meeting with Sam for him," Exner told CNN's Larry King in 1992. "And I said, yes, if you want to, but why, or should I ask why? And he said, I think he can help me with the campaign."

President John F. Kenned

The evening where Kennedy asked Judith to set up the meeting with "Sam Flood" she said he gave her a satchel filled with cash that she was to give to Momo. Years later, she learned that the money was taken to West Virginia, where Giancana's operatives used it to help Kennedy win a come-from-behind victory in the primary against Hubert Humphrey. From 1960 to 1963, while Judith carried on her relationship with Kennedy, she often acted as a go-between for Kennedy and Giancana, and revealed that she delivered top secret intelligence on Fidel Castro that Giancana used to set up a botched assassination attempt.

J. Edgar Hoover

Exner's affair with Kennedy ended in 1962 shortly after FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover brought a top secret agency memo about her to a lunch with the president. As New York Times columnist William Safire wrote shortly after Exner's death from cancer in 1999, "That must have been some lunch."

Judith had unwittingly given Hoover the ammunition he needed to blackmail the president, wrote Scripps-Howard News Service journalist Dan Thomasson.

"When they were apart, she often called the president from Giancana's Chicago home, completely unaware that the FBI was tapping that telephone," he wrote in a memorial to Exner.

"J. Edgar Hoover, who had little regard for President Kennedy or his brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, lost no time in warning the Kennedys that he was aware of the affair. The implication was obvious and Hoover got pretty much what he wanted after that, including authorization to eavesdrop on Martin Luther King, Jr.,whom he claimed had communist connections."

As the affair between Exner and Kennedy soured, she briefly had a physical relationship with Momo, but that ended when he proposed marriage and she turned him down.

In 1974, she was summoned before the Church Committee, a Senate investigation of assassinations and under oath, testified about her relationship with Jack Kennedy. She did not, however, tell them everything she knew, which would damage her credibility somewhat. Having moved in the circles of the top echelons of government and organized crime, Judith believed she had a good reason for keeping secrets.

"She said (it was) because everybody around her had been murdered- Giancana, his lieutenant Johnny Rosselli, Marilyn Monroe, both the Kennedy brothers. Judith claimed to the end she feared for her life," Smith wrote.

Judith Campbell Exner would likely have been relegated to the sealed files of the nation's classified archives, had not Thomasson, his partner Dan Wyngaard and later Safire, looked deeper into a brief footnote in the 1974 Church Committee Report that summarized the Kennedy-Mafia relationship and made several references to an unnamed "friend of the president" who acted as courier for information. While the Church Committee had promised Judith anonymity, someone leaked her identity to the Scripps Howard team who spent months trying to get her to go on the record with her story.
Fearing for her life from mafia hitmen if she talked, Exner was at first reluctant, but when it was clear that the Church Committee could no longer keep her name out of the papers, she talked. While she was not a target of the mob, the publicity destroyed her life.

"A myth-loving public, steeped in the idea of Camelot, reviled her. The press piled on. As a result, Exner was labeled a "Mafia mistress," and found herself hounded by the FBI and others," wrote Liz Smith in Exner's obituary.
Even after the affair had been independently confirmed, Kennedy defenders continued to belittle Judith Exener. In her New York Times obituary, the paper's headline read "Judith Exner Is Dead at 65; Claimed Affair With Kennedy" and included this comment from the Kennedy camp:

"Former aides maintained that Kennedy had not had an affair with Mrs. Exner, who was then Judith Campbell. Dave Powers, a Kennedy aide who Mrs. Exner said had assisted in setting up her encounters with the President, said in 1991, "The only Campbell I know is chunky vegetable soup."

Three days later the Times issued the following correction:

Judith Campbell Exner

"The article reported that aides of President Kennedy's, including Dave Powers, denied the affair. But it should also have reflected what is now the view of a number of respected historians and authors that the affair did in fact take place. The evidence cited by various authorities in recent years has included White House phone logs and memos from J. Edgar Hoover."

Judith Exner said she had been destroyed by her experience as the messenger between the parallel powers of government and organized crime; even in the end, when the evidence and media culture made it acceptable to reveal the personal failings of a president, she continued to pay a high price for loving two powerful men.

Judith Exner: From the Outfit to the Oval Office

Gossip columnist Liz Smith once called Judith Campbell Exner "one of the most maligned people in American history."
In an interview with CNN's Larry King, Smith recalled the woman who would finally put the Camelot myth of President John F. Kennedy to rest, describing Exner as "a deluded 25-year-old girl who was in love with the president of the United States."

"But no dummy, Judith?" King asked.

"No," Liz replied. "I mean, terribly, terribly misunderstood, maligned, misbelieved because, you know, she did lie a lot, Larry, because she was fearful for her life. And I think what people don't remember about Judith Exner was she didn't talk or blab or anything until they made her, a congressional committee made her talk."

Judith Campbell Exner

Long before the Clinton sex scandal, it wasn't just the fact that Exner had had an affair with one of America's most beloved presidents that prompted a congressional committee to issue her a subpoena and get her to break her silence. It was the fact that Exner had served as go-between for Kennedy and one of the Underworld's most feared leaders, the head of the Chicago Outfit: Sam "Momo" Giancana. What's more, while Exner was carrying on her affair with Kennedy in the Oval Office, she was still romantically involved with Momo.

Frank Sinatra

Exner's story begins in 1960, when Frank Sinatra, whom she had met through her ex-husband's Hollywood connections, invited her to Las Vegas, where he was filming the original Ocean's 11. While she was there, the Elizabeth Taylor look-alike, known then as Judith Campbell, met an up-and-coming United States senator from Massachusetts, who had just announced he was seeking the Democratic nomination for president. The Exner-Kennedy relationship started right there in Las Vegas, and Judith told interviewers that because she was in such constant contact with Kennedy, she didn't know he was married for several weeks.

Sam Giancana

It was Frank Sinatra who brought in the final side of this bizarre love triangle, by introducing Judith to Sam Giancana, who she knew as "Sam Flood." Exner said that she was not dating Kennedy and Giancana at the same time, but that she maintained a platonic friendship with Momo while Kennedy was seeking the presidential nomination. She also said she didn't know of Giancana's mob ties when she was introduced to him, but in hindsight, Kennedy obviously did.
"[We] were talking about the campaign, of course, and toward the end of the dinner, Jack asked me, could I set up a meeting with Sam for him," Exner told CNN's Larry King in 1992. "And I said, yes, if you want to, but why, or should I ask why? And he said, I think he can help me with the campaign."

President John F. Kennedy

The evening where Kennedy asked Judith to set up the meeting with "Sam Flood" she said he gave her a satchel filled with cash that she was to give to Momo. Years later, she learned that the money was taken to West Virginia, where Giancana's operatives used it to help Kennedy win a come-from-behind victory in the primary against Hubert Humphrey. From 1960 to 1963, while Judith carried on her relationship with Kennedy, she often acted as a go-between for Kennedy and Giancana, and revealed that she delivered top secret intelligence on Fidel Castro that Giancana used to set up a botched assassination attempt.

J. Edgar Hoover

Exner's affair with Kennedy ended in 1962 shortly after FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover brought a top secret agency memo about her to a lunch with the president. As New York Times columnist William Safire wrote shortly after Exner's death from cancer in 1999, "That must have been some lunch."

Judith had unwittingly given Hoover the ammunition he needed to blackmail the president, wrote Scripps-Howard News Service journalist Dan Thomasson.

"When they were apart, she often called the president from Giancana's Chicago home, completely unaware that the FBI was tapping that telephone," he wrote in a memorial to Exner.

"J. Edgar Hoover, who had little regard for President Kennedy or his brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, lost no time in warning the Kennedys that he was aware of the affair. The implication was obvious and Hoover got pretty much what he wanted after that, including authorization to eavesdrop on Martin Luther King, Jr.,whom he claimed had communist connections."

As the affair between Exner and Kennedy soured, she briefly had a physical relationship with Momo, but that ended when he proposed marriage and she turned him down.

In 1974, she was summoned before the Church Committee, a Senate investigation of assassinations and under oath, testified about her relationship with Jack Kennedy. She did not, however, tell them everything she knew, which would damage her credibility somewhat. Having moved in the circles of the top echelons of government and organized crime, Judith believed she had a good reason for keeping secrets.

"She said (it was) because everybody around her had been murdered- Giancana, his lieutenant Johnny Rosselli, Marilyn Monroe, both the Kennedy brothers. Judith claimed to the end she feared for her life," Smith wrote.

Judith Campbell Exner would likely have been relegated to the sealed files of the nation's classified archives, had not Thomasson, his partner Dan Wyngaard and later Safire, looked deeper into a brief footnote in the 1974 Church Committee Report that summarized the Kennedy-Mafia relationship and made several references to an unnamed "friend of the president" who acted as courier for information. While the Church Committee had promised Judith anonymity, someone leaked her identity to the Scripps Howard team who spent months trying to get her to go on the record with her story.
Fearing for her life from mafia hitmen if she talked, Exner was at first reluctant, but when it was clear that the Church Committee could no longer keep her name out of the papers, she talked. While she was not a target of the mob, the publicity destroyed her life.

"A myth-loving public, steeped in the idea of Camelot, reviled her. The press piled on. As a result, Exner was labeled a "Mafia mistress," and found herself hounded by the FBI and others," wrote Liz Smith in Exner's obituary.
Even after the affair had been independently confirmed, Kennedy defenders continued to belittle Judith Exener. In her New York Times obituary, the paper's headline read "Judith Exner Is Dead at 65; Claimed Affair With Kennedy" and included this comment from the Kennedy camp:

"Former aides maintained that Kennedy had not had an affair with Mrs. Exner, who was then Judith Campbell. Dave Powers, a Kennedy aide who Mrs. Exner said had assisted in setting up her encounters with the President, said in 1991, "The only Campbell I know is chunky vegetable soup."

Three days later the Times issued the following correction: 

"The article reported that aides of President Kennedy's, including Dave Powers, denied the affair. But it should also have reflected what is now the view of a number of respected historians and authors that the affair did in fact take place. The evidence cited by various authorities in recent years has included White House phone logs and memos from J. Edgar Hoover."

Judith Exner said she had been destroyed by her experience as the messenger between the parallel powers of government and organized crime; even in the end, when the evidence and media culture made it acceptable to reveal the personal failings of a president, she continued to pay a high price for loving two powerful men.


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Garrison and the Still Secret JFK Assassination Files

Jim Garrison and the Still-Secret JFK Assassination Files

Bill Kelly

In regards to Jim Garrison requesting his son to be at the National Archives when the government finally gets around to releasing the still secret records on the assassination, I tried to discover what records remain sealed, but there are so many they can’t tell us how many there are.

I did learn however, that most of the documents that Garrison specifically referred to have already been released, and what remains withheld should be released to the public in late September 2017, unless the President orders otherwise.

In 1996 Garby F. Leon asked the NARA about the status of these records and intimidated that he was going to mention them during a Assassinations Records Review Board (ARRB) hearing, but he is not listed among those who testified at the public hearings, but he did correspond with them. [Series 5: Press and Public Contact Files  ]

Besides having a unique name, Garby Leon was an interesting person, with a doctorate in music from Harvard, he was a Fox film producer whose helped develop the Matrix, and recently passed away [Garby Francis Leon, Fox Executive Who Developed ‘The Matrix’ at Silver Pictures, Dies at 66 ].

Many thanks to Rex Bradford at MaryFerrell.org for making these documents and other significant records available, and I have added the relevant links.



JIM GARRISON'S LIST OF WARREN COMMISSION DOCUMENTS WHICH HE SOUGHT AND WAS UNABLE TO OBTAIN:

On April 9, 1996 Martha Murphy of the NARA responded to the inquiry from Garby Leon and wrote:

“This is in response to your e-mailed request for information regarding the status of Warren Commission Documents. The income tax forms of Ruth and Michael Paine CD 713 and CD 848 have been withheld for privacy and are referred to the Internal Revenue Service for review. These documents are not security classified, as would be suggested by the description of them as ‘secret’ in the book ‘On the Trail of the Assassins.’”

Garby Leon commented: “But they're fudging a bit, because the Paine's tax information, are also 'referred' to the IRS, hence unavailable.  I was amused at how testy the archivist's response was to my quote from Garrison...”

And I agree, whether they are being withheld for reasons of national security or personal privacy reasons, they are sealed from the public and are therefore still ‘secret.’

CD 218 - relating to Michael Paine LALC Los Angeles Local Correspondence
CD 258 - relating to Michael Paine
CD 508 - relating to Michael Paine's sister
CD 600 through CD 629, regarding relatives of Michael Paine.

Of the 51 documents you listed in your letter, three
are still withheld pending review by another agency,

10 CDs are released in part, with information redacted on some pages.  All of the other 38 CDs listed in your letter have been released in full. 


(Files relating to Oswald):

CD 321 - Chronology of Oswald in USSR (Secret)
CD 347 - Activity of Oswald in Mexico City (Secret)
CD 384 - Activity of Oswald in Mexico City

CD 384 “ACCESS RESTRICTED – The item identified below has been withdrawn from this file: File Designation CD 384...In the review of this file this item was removed because access to it is restricted. Restrictions on records in the National Archives are stated in general and specific record group restriction statements which are available for examination. The item identification above has been withdrawn because it contains: X Security – Classified Information
1/16/80”

CD 528 - re: Allegation Oswald interviewed by CIA in Mexico City
CD 631 - re: CIA dissemination of information on Oswald http://www.maryferrell.org/mffweb/archive/viewer/showDoc.do?docId=11030
CD 674 - Info given to the Secret Service but not yet to the WC
CD 692 - Reproduction of CIA official dossier on Oswald
CD 698 - Reports of travel and activities of Oswald & Marina
CD 871 - Photos of Oswald in Russia (Secret)
CD 931 - Oswald's access to information about the U-2 (Secret)
CD 943, "Allegations of Pfc. Eugene Dinkin re Assassination Plot"
CD 971, "Calls to U.S. Embassy, Canberra,… re:Planned Assassination."
CD 1216 - Memo from Helms entitled "Lee Harvey Oswald" (Secret)
CD 1222 - Statements by George de Mohrenschildt re: assassination
CD 1273 - Helms re:inconsistencies in info provided by CIA(Secret) http://www.maryferrell.org/mffweb/archive/viewer/showDoc.do?docId=11668
CD 1551, "Conversations Between Cuban President and Ambassador";

Garb Leon: “In sum, 15 of the 51 Warren Commission items which Garrison wanted to see are still secret, or redacted. That's roughly 30% secrecy maintained, a third of a century later. A question I have: has the ARRB reviewed the 'redactions' these documents are 'released' with? Finally, if I have the opportunity, I intend to ask the ARRB board members if Garrison's wish-list will be fulfilled - or not. This would seem only the very most basic starting point for the release of government documents, pursuant to the ARRB's mandate.  And, a good benchmark for testing how good the USG's word is on their promise to fulfill the intent of the law.”

October 24, 2017 – it’s a Tuesday. Mark it on your calendar – as that’s the day that one of two things will happen.


Either the AOTUS – Archivist of the United States will announce to the President, Congress and the American people that the last government record on the assassination of President Kennedy has been released to the public or the POTUS – the President of the United States – whoever is elected in the next election, will announce that he/she has agreed with the requests by agencies of government and will continue to withhold certain records for reasons of national security.