The recent revelation that the missing Coral Springs man, Robert Levinson, was on a CIA mission when he disappeared in Iran, comes as a surprise to everyone except those who knew him. His reputation at the FBI was that of an excellent agent with unusually valuable contacts. But he was also something of an adventurer. Insiders did not believe he was a private eye chasing cigarette change on an island off Iran.
Some people, however, may be surprised that Levinson was not working directly for the CIA, but rather a rogue group of analysts within the agency that had no authority to send him off doing whatever he was doing. Others would not be surprised at all. They would not even be surprised if the “rogue” story itself is bogus, to conceal involvement of those higher up in the agency. Several people involved were fired, so the CIA can say it canned those whack jobs, let the case rest.
If one wonders about the cynicism here, note that this comes close to the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s assassination, which over the years has been increasingly linked to the CIA. Almost from the time the Warren Commission Report appeared, cynics suspected a government conspiracy, followed by a second conspiracy to cover it up. Among them was Pennsylvania Sen. Richard Schweiker. He, and others in Washington, had been shocked to learn that the CIA, in theory an intelligence gathering agency, had made itself an action arm of the government, facilitating the overthrow of governments, and causing people to be murdered. Without authority.
His position on a Senate intelligence committee gave him grounds for suspicion that Lee Harvey Oswald was a U.S. intelligence figure. In 1976 he hired Gaeton Fonzi, at the time a partner in Gold Coast magazine, to try to prove it. As we reported recently, Fonzi, working in Florida with the anti-Castro Cuban community, found a link between Oswald and a high-ranking CIA officer. The same CIA man, Fonzi learned, was also connected to assassinations of foreign political leaders, and the coup in Chile that resulted in thousands of deaths of political dissidents. He also worked with Fonzi’s main source in attempts to kill Castro, attempts which the CIA said at the time it knew nothing about.
Other researchers jumped on Fonzi’s discovery, and over the years, bolstered by gradually declassified documents, and testimony of witnesses long silent in fear, what once seemed unthinkable has become believable. If the CIA did not orchestrate a presidential murder, it did everything it could to cover it up, including lying repeatedly to Congress and its authorized investigators such as Fonzi. Would the CIA lie? Did it lie for years about Robert Levinson, until his distraught family forced the truth into the open?
The word “rogue” was used 40 years ago to describe the group, all CIA types whose names have been widely published (now that they are all dead), who were suspected in the JFK murder. John McCone, the man at the head of the CIA at the time, told Robert Kennedy himself that the CIA was not involved. The truth is he was appointed by the Kennedys to replace Allen Dulles, who the Kennedys distrusted, and McCone surely didn’t know. He would be the last to know. He was only the boss, and a boss the rogues could not trust. But not so Allen Dulles. He helped launch the CIA and ran it for eight years. He had to know what it was doing. He wound effectively running the Warren Commission and pinning the blame on an alleged lone nut, ignoring any evidence to the contrary. He thus protected the “rogue” element in his own agency. That’s just being loyal, covering for people who had no authority to murder a president.
At least in the Levinson case, people got fired. In the Kennedy case, they got promoted.