Sunday, March 3, 2013

The Resurrection of Bradley Ayers

The Resurrection of Bradley Ayers

In early 1963 US Army Ranger Captain Bradley Ayers was transferred to the CIA to train anti-Castro Cuban commandos out of the JMWAVE station in Miami, Florida.

Wayne Smith was a US Embassy attaché in Havana Cuba when Batista fled and Fidel Castro took over power in Cuba.

Over 40 years later Ayers and Smith were shown a photograph taken from a film of a group of men at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, California on the night that Robert F. Kennedy was killed there. Among the men in the photos Ayers and Smith identified two of them as being David Morales and Gordon Campbell, CIA officers who had worked on Cuban operations at the JMWAVE base.

Wayne Smith was working at the US Embassy in Havana where David Morales and David Atlee Phillips were also stationed. I met Wayne Smith at the first COPA national conference in Washington D.C. and he acknowledged knowing David Atlee Phillips from his Havana days, and recalled acting in plays with Phillips in an amateur theater group. Smith later put together two meetings to exchange research on the assassination of President Kennedy between COPA researchers and Cuban intelligence officials in Brazil and the Bahamas

Ayers wrote a book about his JMWAVE experiences “The War that Never Was,” which was published by Bobs Merrell, where former JMWAVE officer William Harvey worked as a legal advisor, ensuring that certain details of Ayers book were not published, including the names of many of the participants, including Gordon Campbell. 
Ayers later wrote an uncensored book “The Zenith Secret” (VoxPop 2006) that details the inner workings of the JMWAVE station while Ayers was there – May 1963 – December 1964, as well as many of the interesting characters he met – including the top boss Ted Shackley, chief of operations David Morales, and the head of maritime operations Gordon Campbell.
William Turner had previously identified Gordon Campbell as the CIA’s maritime chief who delivered the orders to the Captain of the Rex, the CIA raider ship that was docked at West Palm Beach. And Bayard Stockton, in his biography of William Harvey, (Flawed Patriot) confirms many of the observations Ayers makes in his “Zenith Secret,” including the presence of mafia boss “Colonel Rosselli,” and his case officer William Harvey after Harvey was fired by RFK, as well as the presence of RFK himself, in the field meeting with commando and giving them approval and encouragement.
As one of a number of US Army Rangers detailed to JMWAVE to train the Cubans as commandos, Ayers worked closely with the Cubans and the JMWAVE and CIA staff, so his unfiltered descriptions and characterizations are important, especially as they relate to the assassination of President Kennedy.
Ayres described Gordon Campbell as having a “polished, slightly flamboyant executive manner,” and his style, having visiting him on his yacht.
Ayers: “I stole a few hours’ extra sleep the next morning, then went out to Coconut Grove, where I was to meet Gordon Campbell. He and his wife lived on a yacht moored at the Diner Key marina. I walked down a long concrete pier, past sleek, expensive cruisers, and finally found Gordon’s boat. Both he and his wife – an attractive bikini-clad silver-haired women – were well into their Sunday afternoon martinis. As he mixed me a drink, he asked, “What do you think of the men? How do they look – morale, interest – you know, guts for the job?”
“They look very good so far,” I replied, “but there’s one big problem, the commandos have no real leader. The team is split into two distinct, separate groups of five and six men each…and they seem to want to stay that way. As long as I give orders, there’s no problem, but when they’re on the their own, the so-called leader makes suggestions and the other two follow only if they feel like it. It’s too lose to be effective under pressure.”
“Goddamnit, if a leader is a problem, then you find one! The case officer for these boys will be down from Washington in a few weeks. He’s been with the Cuban desk studying the situation and he’s well-read. Porter is young bu the knows his stuff. I’ve assured him you’d have the team ready to do.”
The mission was to destroy some oil storage facilities on the south central coast of Cuba, one of five strategic, economic targets planned in April and approved by the Special Group in June, 1963, that would be carried out in the fall, and included the Rex mission that was exposed by the New York Times on November 1, 1963.
Ayers quotes Gordon Campbell as saying: “You’ll be happy to know that the Special Group has finally given us permission to use two-man submarines to strike Castro’s ships in the harbors. Some of your UDT people will be involved in that. And next week Rip’s boys are going to Elgin for parachute training, so an airborne commando raid may not be far off. But right now we’ve to a go-head to hit one of the major oil refineries from on the island. All we’ve got to do is get a commando force in shape to do the job.”
Campbell personally introduced Ayers to attorney general Robert F. Kennedy, who Ayers says was brought to the Everglades training base to meet some of the Cuban commandos. Campbell also introduced Ayers to “Karl,” Campbell’s “outside man,” who handled all contacts with Cubans and those outside of the JMWAVE headquarters, and Tony Sforza, the commando team contact man.
Ayers said that among those he saw at the JMWAVE base were William Harvey, who had supposedly been fired from the JMWAVE operation by RFK himself, and Harvey’s Mafia sidekick John Rosselli, who was known around the JMWAVE base as “Colonel Rosselli.”
Major Edward Roderick was another Army Ranger who was brought in with Ayres to train the Cuban commandos, and like his CIA case officer William Harvey, Roderick became a close, personal friend and drinking partner with Rosselli, as confirmed by Harvey’s biographer and former CIA officer Bayard Stockton (in Flawed Patriot, Potomic, 2006).
After the assassination of President Kennedy and LBJ’s refusal to buy into the original cover story that Castro was behind the plot, all of the Cuban operations that were associated with what happened in Dallas were drawn down and closed, as described in the memo memorializing the early 1964 meeting between the President’s national security advisor McGeorge Bundy and Desmond Fitzgerald, the CIA officer responsible for the covert Cuban operations. (See: Dear Mac from Des Re: Those Cubans)
This change in policy is reflected in Ayers’ description of how he was ordered to close up his training shop after the assassination.
Ayers: “The order to disband came first to the commando groups that were hidden around southern Florida. Gordon Campbell asked me to meet him for dinner at Black Caesar’s Forge. (BK notes: Owned by Meyer Lansky associate Alvan Malik).”
“This would be our first face to face meeting since well before the assassination and I looked forward to it. Campbell was at a table near the rear of the lower level dining room. He greeted me cordially, asked about my family and, for a few minutes, made small talk as we ordered our meal. Something about Campbell had changed. I had never seen this smooth, polished man ill at ease. But this night, he seemed edgy, a worried look on his face, and his hands shook a bit as he lit a cigarette. Despite his troubled appearance, speaking to me, he was his usual matter-of-fact, unemotional self, a man who was never out of control.”
Campbell explained major foreign policy changes had been made by President Johnson, and the paramilitary effort developed by the CIA under the previous administration was being phased out. The commando group I was responsible for would be given a security debriefing and be terminated with one month’s pa in advance. Administrative help would be terminated in the same fashion and sent home. All equipment would be removed, and the safehouse would be thoroughly ‘swept’ for security items, documents, and so on. I had one week to get the job done. Then I was to return to the training branch to supervise the closedown of my other training bases. Were there any questions?”
“What do I tell the Cubans, Gordon?”
“You don’t have to tell them a damn thing. Just tell them you’re carrying out orders. Your company has lot its government contract. You know nothing more than that.”
“He excused himself from dinner early, leaving half of a thick, rare filet mignon. I drank what was left of his double-martini while anger boiled inside me. My country couldn’t do this. But my country had! I never again saw or communicated with Gordon Campbell.”
When Bradley Ayers Bobs-Merrell, who maintained an office at the Texas School Book Depository, published his first book “The War that Never Was,” it was vetted by the CIA through the former JMWAVE boss William Harvey, who was John Rosselli’s case officer and personally fired from his job by RFK.
This published version left out all mention of Gordon Campbell, but retained the references to RFK’s visits to JMWAVE safe-houses to personally meet the Cuban commandos and approve their covert missions into Cuba.
Shortly after VoxPop published the unexpurgated “Zenith Secret,” Shane O’Sullivan came across the photos and film of the group of men at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles at the time RFK was murdered there in 1968, and he got Wayne Smith and Bradley Ayers (as well as some former HSCA investigators), to identify two of the men as David Morales and Gordon Campbell.
Of course if two high ranking CIA officers who had been stationed at the notorious JMWAVE station, which has been connected to the assassination of President Kennedy, were also at the scene of the murder of RFK, then that would certainly be sensational news. This was also the case with Jim Braden, whose presence at Dealey Plaza in Dallas at the time JFK was killed and in LA on the day RFK was murdered, was sensationalized as well, but later shown to be just a coincidence.
When Anthony Summers was shown the photos and told of the tentative identification of Morales and Campbell, he said it was all rubbish, and that such photo identification was known to be totally unreliable. But Shane O’Sullivan went on to produce a documentary film “tying the CIA to the assassination of RFK” using the identification of Morales and Campbell that were provided by Wayne Smith and Bradley Ayers.
As these allegations were being thrown about, two reputable journalists - David Talbot, (author of Brothers), and Jefferson Morley, (author of Our Man in Havana), convinced a major mainstream magazine to support their research for an investigative piece, but they quickly discovered a 1962 death certificate for Gordon Campbell, so he could not have been at the Ambassador Hotel in 1968.

Gordon S. Campbell Death Certificate RIP 1962 | JFKCountercoup

At that point David Talbot and Jefferson Morely apparently took a kill fee for the story, posted the death certificate and a short report on what they had learned, and appeared satisfied that the idea that Morales and Campbell were at the scene of RFK’s murder was officially debunked.
But it isn’t Gordon Campbell’s presence in LA after his official death that is important, what is most significant is Gordon Campbell’s work as the head of maritime operations at JMWAVE before he died, and the determination of who replaced him in that position.
And who was that guy, Ted Shackley’s deputy chief of station at JMWAVE, that Bradley Ayers knew as “Gordon Campbell” in 1963 if the real Gordon Campbell had died in 1962?
And then there is the question of whether there is any connection with the other Gordon Campbell, the former Navy officer who worked for the Wright Machine Company until he retired in 1963?
It was also determined that the man both Wayne Smith and Bradley Ayers misidentified as Gordon Campbell was actually an executive for the Bulova watch company, and part of a convention at the hotel at the time. [Documents released under the JFK Act indicate that one Joseph Campisi, veteran of OSS, worked for Buliva for over 25 years, serving as link between Buliva and the CIA, and who may or may not be related to Joe Campisi who was a close personal friend of Jack Ruby. But that link has yet to be properly investigated.]
Whether intentional or not, the false identification of the men at the Ambassador succeeded in discrediting the reliability of both Wayne Smith, a respected Cuban-American diplomat who served in Havana when Castro took over and Bradley Ayers, the former US Army Ranger who trained Cuban commandos at JMWAVE.
Smith’s work in bringing Castro Cuban intelligence officers together with COPA assassination researchers and Ayers detailed description of the JMWAVE operations certainly qualified both of them as targets for such character assassination. But the misidentification of Campbell and Morales at the Ambassador certainly doesn’t take away from the established fact that they are witnesses to the events in Havana and JMWAVE. Smith was stationed at the US Embassy in Havana with both David Morales and David Atlee Phillips and Capt. Bradely Ayers was a US Ranger who trained the Cuban commandos at JMWAVE.
And they both have important and unique knowledge of the assassination of President Kennedy, though they themselves might not recognize exactly what it is.

Among the things that appear significant in Bradley Ayers’ “The Zenith Secret” include the presence of RFK at JMWAVE, as well as William Harvey, after he was fired by RFK, and John Rosselli (aka “Colonel Rosselli”).
Ayers also makes mention of the head of training, Ernie Sparks, and “Porter” being the CIA case officer for one of the teams of Cubans he trained, ostensibly the same Porter Goss who became head of the CIA?
There’s also Maj. Edward Roderick, who was also reassigned with Ayers, from US Army Rangers to the CIA to train the Cubans, and trained Rosselli’s commandos, and some of the Cubans – Tony Sforza and Julio Fernandez, the leader of the commando team sponsored by Clare Booth Luce, who may have been profiled in a Life Magazine article.

JFKcountercoup: A Mission on the CIA Raider Ship Rex

JFKCountercoup2: Excerpts from The Zenith Secret

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