Porter & “the boys:”Goss Made ‘Bones’ on CIA’s Op 40 Hit Team

barry&theboys2Deposed CIA head Porter Goss was once a member of the CIA's super-secret Operation 40, an assassination squad which roamed through North and Central America during the 1960's.

Along with a number of men whose names became famous and whose lives and careers comprise a large part of America’s Secret History, Goss appears (see a comparison) in the historic photograph at right, which also appears on the cover of "Barry & 'the boys': The CIA, the Mob, and America's Secret History."

It is the only extant photograph of the members of Operation Forty, the CIA’s assassination squad, taken in a Mexico City nightclub in 1963.

untitledGCoupled with his close proximity to the terrorist hijackers who used his Congressional District in Charlotte County as one of their main bases of operations, this fact virtually shouts out for closer examination during the post-mortems dissecting his tenure as CIA chief.

When we first saw the photo, it was in the yellowed frame used by nightclub photographers back in the 60's. It bore the name of a nightclub (La Reforma) in Mexico City, and was stamped with a date, January 22, 1963, ten months to the day before the Kennedy assassination.
 

"Guido, meet the General. General, meet Guido."

The Mexico City nightclub photo reveals a mixed group of Cuban exiles, Italian wise guys, and square-jawed military intelligence types. It was discovered among keepsakes kept in the safe of the widow of CIA pilot and drug smuggler Barry Seal, where it was overlooked by a 7-man team from the U.S. State Department which showed up at her house in 1995 to comb through her records.

Barry Seal had been recruited at the age of 17, along with Lee Oswald, by CIA agent David Ferrie, at a two week summer camp of the Louisiana Civil Air Patrol in 1957.

The product of a patrician Connecticut upbringing, an elite preparatory school and Yale University, Goss entered the high-stakes espionage game being played out between the Florida Keys and the coast of Cuba after the CIA-backed coup against Castro collapsed at the Bay of Pigs.

Gossinmiddle"During his junior year, he met a CIA recruiter through his ROTC commanders,” reported the September 24, 2002 Orlando Sentinel, in a story headlined “TERRORISM FIGHT KEEPS REP. GOSS IN POLITICAL FRAY.”

“It is true I was in CIA from approximately the late 50's to approximately the early 70's,” Goss told antagonist Michael Moore.

At the time the picture was taken Barry Seal was a young-looking 24-year old. Porter Goss was the same age.
 
"They've given you a number, and taken 'way your name."

Seal is seated third from left. Sitting right next to him (second from left) is Porter Goss. Beside Goss is notorious "freedom fighter" Felix Rodriguez (front left), a Cuban vice cop under the corrupt Mob-run Batista regime in Cuba who later became an Iran Contra operative and a confidant of the first George Bush.

 barrybook3On the other side of the table is the the only spook celebrant displaying any regard for tradecraft… Covering his face with his sport coat is Frank Sturgis, famous for being one of the Watergate burglars.

Beside Sturgis (front right) is another famous spook, at least among Kennedy assassination researchers, William Seymour, the New Orleans representative of the Double-Chek Corporation, a CIA front used to recruit pilots (like Seal). Seymour is regarded by many researchers as the man who on several notable occasions is said to have impersonated Lee Harvey Oswald, when that lone nut gunman was out of the country.

At the time it was taken the CIA's covert action chief in Mexico City was David Atlee Phillips, AKA Maurice Bishop, who reportedly met with Oswald in Dallas before the assassination.

 

"You don't have the negative too do you?"

The sensitive nature of the picture was confirmed by a person who had known and worked with Seal, who incidentally had been the inspiration for the hit song "Secret Agent Man," by his buddy Johnny Rivers in the 'mid-60's.

The man, also the executor of Seal's estate, reacted with unconcealed shock when first shown the picture. “Where did you get that?” he demanded. “I didn’t know there were any… Where did this picture come from?"

spys“Yeah, Barry was Op Forty,” Jerry Patrick Hemming confirmed. “He flew in killer teams inside the island (Cuba) before the invasion to take out Fidel.”

Frank Sturgis, a member of the team that broke into Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate complex in 1972, later admitted to having been part of Operation Forty.

Other famous names who belonged to Operation Forty include Thomas Clines,  Edwin Wilson and "Blond Ghost" Ted Shackley.

Colonel William Bishop showed author Dick Russell a series of photographs of Latin-looking individuals who belonged to the group. On the backs of the pictures were the words "Special talent 1960-65, Ice pick man … Butcher… Sniper and demo [demolition] expert … Propaganda … Knife man… Pilot and navigator … Mutilator."

“Bishop said, ‘We weren't playing a nice game.’”

When nephew Chuck Giancana wrote about Mob Boss Sam Giancana’s strategic move to Mexico in early 1963, he wrote this about Operation Forty…

"It was to be an all-out, no-holds-barred Latin American push. Mooney (Giancana) settled into a lavish Mexico City apartment and went right to work, drawing on the expertise and mammoth resources of the recently-formed CIA team of assassins and operatives specifically trained for Latin American clandestine operations. CIA insiders jokingly dubbed the team the White Hand, an allusion to the Mafia killer progenitors the Black Hand."

"You're not cleared for that information."

Although the photo was available at the time of his confirmation as head of the CIA, the major media showed no inclination to press Goss on the matter. In fact, the party line rang out everywhere.

G2 copy"Rep. Porter J. Goss has disclosed precious few details of his CIA employment from roughly 1960 to 1971,” reported a profile in the Associated Press. Reuters called him a “mystery man,” and said he had been “close-mouthed about his past.”

“He worked in Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Mexico-tumultuous countries during that decade of the Cold War,” Reuters reported.

During a 2002 interview with The Washington Post, Goss joked that he performed photo interpretation and "small-boat handling," which led to "some very interesting moments in the Florida Straits."

He acknowledged he had recruited and run foreign agents and said he would be uncomfortable traveling to Cuba but wouldn't say more.

“With a prep-school education and a Greek major at Yale, Goss passed up the conventional life to be a CIA spook,” reads one typical wire service account.

Actually, the facts lean heavily towards the proposition that with “a prep school education and a Greek major at Yale,” Goss’s choice to become a CIA spook in the early 60's was an entirely conventional one.
 

"Closed orders and secret societies"

The appointment of Porter Goss revealed that what passes for American civic life may in reality be just an elaborate game of Inside Baseball. Goss found himself paired often with fellow Floridian, Democratic Sen. Bob Graham, then the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, leading the joint congressional inquiry into the attacks.

The two men share another unique distinction: both were having breakfast on the morning of September 11th, 2001  with a man who reportedly wired $100,000 to Mohamed Atta.

"When the news [of the attacks on the World Trade Center] came, the two Florida lawmakers who lead the House and Senate intelligence committees were having breakfast with the head of the Pakistani intelligence service.”

In testimony before Congress on February 9, 2004, Chief Weapons Inspector David Kay noted, "Closed orders and secret societies, whether they be religious or governmental, are the groups that have the hardest time reforming themselves in the face of failure without outside input."

When was the last time anyone heard a weapons inspector mention secret societies?

Do you ever get the feeling there's something they're not telling us?
 

“Man in a trench coat, Badge out, laid off, 
Says he's got a bad cough… Wants to get paid off. 
The pump don't work, 'Cause the Vandals took the handles

Daniel Hopsicker

Daniel Hopsicker is an investigative journalist and the author of two books on transnational crime, Welcome to Terrorland and Barry & the Boys.

1 Response

  1. October 22, 2015

    […] from “”Barry & ‘the boys,” and again without attribution—my discovery of the now-famous nightclub picture taken in Mexico City in 1963 showing Seal sitting next to a man who would later become George W. […]