The success and failure of various intricate plans developed by the Central Intelligence Agency relied on the oversight of its administrators, the professionalism of its employees, and the control of its assets. In such a high pressure and secretive environment, obsession and imagination can be valuable tools and deadly hindrances if one strays too far afield from the illumination provided by verifiable facts. Unfortunately, secret agendas can allow exception to be made, the bending of policies, and even the most unthinkable has been given voice for its utility with little consideration to blowback. A frequent underlying lesson regarding many intelligence operations has ever been doing unto others before they do unto you.
A seemingly endless cast of people surrounds many of the most nefarious and foreboding plots to emerge from the United States military and intelligence community. In some instances, plots can involve members of both communities with drastically varying expectations and personnel. Yet one trait shared by some of the more notable people and handed down to later members was a strong dislike for complete oversight and a want to conceal operations that could damage their respective groups if exposed. One such person with a staunch commitment to the superiority of clandestine matters over civil laws is CIA officer Bill K. Harvey.
William King Harvey was reportedly born in Cleveland, Ohio during the fall of 1915 to literature professor Dr. Sara Jewell Harvey and lawyer Drenan R. Walker. Following the death of Harvey's father in 1916 at the age of 27, William is noted to have developed a very close relationship with his mother subsequent to losing his father. Harvey spent his childhood in Danville, Indiana and later went to Wiley High School in Terra Haute and official reports consulting Harvey's school records note he was a "brilliant boy" and "a real leader".
He attends Indiana University and subsequently his later wife Clara Grace (CG) Harvey describes Bill developing a strong relationship with his godfather attorney Benjamin F. Small.i This friendship and Small's later employment as the dean of Indianapolis University Law School feasibly influenced Harvey upon his path to become versed in law. Harvey was employed by the Danville Gazette and performed reporter and printer duties in 1931. He left the newspaper and in 1934 was a publicity writer for Indiana University at Bloomington. By 1937, Harvey was practicing law and three years later the US Department of Justice would employ him.
Harvey was a supervising Special Agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation until he resigns for his behavior in 1947.ii By this time, Harvey was able to speak German proficiently and was able to use this in the service of the Central Intelligence Group (CIG). The CIG was a precursor intelligence group that when joined with other related intelligence organizations would become the CIA. The CIA was legally created mere weeks before Harvey is employed by the CIG on September 29, 1947 as the Division Chief of the Internal USSR Division.iii During Harvey's service as Division Chief from CIA Headquarters, he additionally was the Chief of Foreign Intelligence Staff E and later served on the Deputy Director of Plans Staff as well.
The Agency transfers Harvey in 1952 to Europe and he assumes a new position as Chief of Berlin Station. He came to this new job with an idea to create a secret way into the Soviet controlled zone of Berlin. Harvey oversaw the development of an underground Berlin Tunnel that connected the West Berlin to East Berlin but the project was compromised and eventually abandoned.iv He is later consulted about the series of Soviet agents that had infiltrated British Intelligence and Harvey offered suspicions regarding Kim Philby a well-placed British intelligence officer. However, some in MI6 and CIA Counterintelligence Chief James Angleton who maintained a friendship with Philby decided the British officer was not the source of the recurring Soviet penetrations. Years later when Philby fled to Moscow, it was a hollow vindication for Harvey due to Philby's long-term success in deceiving MI-6 to become its most notorious mole.
According to official records, Harvey was the Station Chief in Berlin until 1959 and following his German assignment, he transfers to CIA headquarters and is named the Chief of Foreign Intelligence Staff D. This Agency group sought to penetrate and pillage enemy signals intelligence and cryptographic materials.v However, this staff's activities would later quietly provide a plausibly deniable home for deadly plans.vi During portions of Harvey's prior assignments in Germany and future placement in Italy, he utilizes the US State Department's Foreign Service for cover.
Deputy Director of Plans Richard Bissell subsequently tasks William Harvey with the development of "Executive action", a euphemism for political assassination capabilities in February of 1960. Chief of Luxembourg Station Arnold M. Silver recruits espionage agent, spotter, and potential assassin Jose Marie Andre Mankel (QJWIN) in Europe.vii Silver had a conversation with Richard Bissell and was informed of plans to possibly use Mankel for a potential assassin operation. The target suggested by Richard Bissell was the Prime Minster of the Congo Patrice Lumumba who had resisted American attempts to influence the control of Congo's natural resources and openly accepted the aid of Soviet and Communist groups. Staff D member Justin O' Donnell approaches William Harvey and recounts Bissell ordering him to "undertake an operation in the Congo, one of the objectives of which was the elimination of Patrice Lumumba."viii
By August of 1960, the Eisenhower administration's Special Group of advisers discussed potentially removing enemy foreign leaders using assassination, Lumumba is mentioned by name. November 2, 1960 Richard Bissell dispatches Justin O'Donnell under the pseudonym Oliver Altman to meet the Agency's new potential assassin in Paris. O'Donnell claims he refused to participate but he does later venture to meet Jose Mankel in Europe to assess him. Officials hire Mankel to spot potential sabotage agents, useful criminals, and perform clandestine operations. Yet another purpose officials' note for Mankel is political assassination but the Agency refrains from telling Mankel the full details of his potential assignment and eventually sends Mankel to the Congo.
Evidence suggests the Agency did not assassinate Patrice Lumumba directly because local CIA Station Chief Larry Devlin refused. However, Devlin did choose to influence the leader of Congolese military forces to consider Lumumba a lethal security threat. These Congolese forces soon captured Patrice Lumumba and murder him in January 1961. By February 28, 1961, Mankel signed a contract with the Agency to continue his spotting activities. William Harvey later that year designs operational notes for Project ZRRIFLE to spot, recruit, and use sabotage agents and assassins.
Jose Mankel is designated the primary agent of ZRRIFLE but he was only a single method of dispatching the CIA's enemies. Among those who discussed other means of assassination with Harvey by utilizing virulent poisons was the Agency's Technical Services Director Sidney Gottlieb.ix Gottlieb is another notorious Agency officer who among his duties created and studied biological and chemical weapons for the Agency. In the early stages of the Project, Harvey begins in some instances to combine the related cryptonyms and this incites confusion during later official investigations. Additionally, Harvey claimed that his varying designations were for record keeping purposes to separate ZRRIFLE from other connected plots but his record keeping does not consistently reflect his assertion.
In 1962 Harvey becomes the CIA representative for Operation Mongoose, an organization of collaborating US government agencies and military groups seeking to overthrow the Cuban regime. He additionally is the leader of the Task Force W a group undertaking operations targeting Cuba's leadership conducted from Agency headquarters; the W denotes the group as under the leadership of William. Justin O'Donnell who had acted earlier to assess Jose Mankel for Richard Bissell was also serving on Staff D under the command of Harvey.
Richard Bissell and Agency Director of Security Sheffield Edwards brief Harvey on prior aborted plans seeking to displace Fidel Castro via assassination using Mafia leaders. Harvey leads Phase II of the Castro assassination plots and retains the help of gangster Johnny Roselli. William Harvey led or is connected to every related official group contemplating assassination plots by 1962. As his responsibilities mount so too do the pressures, Harvey's temperament worsens and he launches a Cuban mission without the full approval or knowledge of the Kennedy administration. After no significant progress had been made and with notable past failures to adhere to the chain of command Harvey is removed from his many posts and sent to Italy in the summer of 1963.
Officials reassign the staunchly opinionated Harvey to the position of Chief of the CIA's Rome Station and he serves roughly two years before his removal from the CIA's Italian operations. Harvey returns to Agency headquarters and voluntarily accepts retirement amid drinking concerns in 1967. Harvey maintains a relationship with Johnny Roselli despite warnings from his superiors to desist and this damages his official credibility. Rumors about Harvey and Roselli, the CIA, Mafia, and the Kennedy assassination persistently circulate in the media, books, and the public.
His involvement in multiple assassination projects eventually placed William Harvey in the path of subsequent congressional investigations. In June of 1975, the Senate Select "Church" Committee hears the testimony of William King Harvey. Senator Tower asks Harvey during testimony if the Special Group Augmented, a presidential advisory group with the addition of Attorney General Robert Kennedy, knew "...there was an assassination capability?" Harvey responds "Senator Tower, not to my knowledge."x While Robert Kennedy was told by J. Edgar Hoover of some earlier CIA plotting with Mafia, Kennedy had no idea how many specific plots were still underway.
The Committee was concerned with misleading statements Harvey made in official files regarding his use of Mafia member Johnny Roselli. Officials quote a memo by Sheffield Edwards in which Harvey "...indicated he was dropping any plans for the use of the subject...for the future." Harvey confirms he did make the statement and Mr. Schwarz of the Committee replies, "Now, that wasn't true, was it?" William Harvey states, "No, it was not true, and Colonel Edwards knew it was not true." Harvey further claims he undertook the deception on the record to create "...a logical termination on the file that Edwards had..." Harvey wanted "...to completely remove any duality in this, to remove it from the Office of Security and to permit Colonel Edwards to be able to say that as of such and such a date, as far as I, Colonel Edwards know, this matter is dead."xi Harvey sought to fabricate a recorded end to ongoing plots to further compartmentalize and remove them from the normal oversight system. This deceptive method also matches his prior suggestions in the ZRRIFLE notes.
Senator Frank Church subsequently presses Harvey for his feasible attempt to "falsify the record" and Harvey does not deny his action but responds he does not "...find the term falsify very palatable."xii Harvey's actions to disregard normal oversight procedures and not inform his superiors directly about the Castro plots drew wide criticism from the Select Committee on Intelligence. Senator Richard Schweiker refers to Harvey's intentional reporting lapses as " ...thwarting the very thing that you said this morning was essential by, in essence, entering into a conspiracy with your superior, to abort that process." Harvey contends despite the facts there was "...no collusion, agreement, conspiracy, to 'deny' information to the DCI (Director of Central Intelligence)."xiii He insists that he merely wanted to terminate the operation safely and decided to discuss the matter with his superior and felt that was sufficient oversight.
Harvey attempts to justify himself to the Committee and dismiss Schweiker's criticism of his actions by stating he was in keeping with all professional standards of conduct. Among the "compelling reasons" Schweiker claimed full operational disclosure to the CIA highest leaders was necessary is due to Harvey's collaboration with the Mafia. A further reasonable concern of investigating officials was William Harvey's actions following his Agency employment. He continued a friendship with gangster Johnny Roselli that extends to several phone calls and personal visits at William Harvey's dwelling over the years following his retirement. Roselli at one point in 1974 stopped to visit at the invitation of Harvey, and while these multiple visits do not prove nefarious actions, they do infer Harvey maintained a "personal friendship" with his former assassination collaborator.xiv What common interests would a Mafia hit man and a former CIA officer connected to multiple assassination plots discuss in their free time?
September 24, 1975 Committee representative Frederick D. Baron interviews William Harvey regarding additional questions regarding the plans to eliminate Patrice Lumumba. Harvey claims that he never heard about assassination plans in the Congo, despite his former statements to the contrary. One interesting portion of Harvey's testimony suggests that Jose Mankel (QJWIN) was not under his control in the Congo but he was loaned to the CIA's African Division via Harvey's deputy. While related documents state this was a Staff D operation, Harvey replies that notation was merely "an administrative device to secure funding for QJWIN and allow for accounting out of Staff D funds." He also states that he never actually met Mankel in person.xv
William Harvey dies of a heart attack June 9, 1976 and unknown parties dismember Johnny Roselli two months later. Since then William Harvey based upon his statements, actions, and the evidence is a reasonable suspect in yet unsolved possible assassination conspiracies. Some claim Harvey is guilty and others declare his innocence but his wife CG Harvey, another CIA operative, sought to clear Harvey's name. Reportedly, she never did so due to legal agreements with the Agency and the damage it might financially inflict. Clara Harvey dies twenty-four years following her husband and never offers evidence that would dismiss the public allegations.
Harvey's words and deeds cast the shadow of suspicion upon him and those with access to the murderous plots he oversaw. His disregard for oversight and attempts to fabricate a portion of the legal record forces us to consider the question of how many others attempted to do so to support the Agency's operations. While deception is a key weapon for successful intelligence operations, when operators deceive their legal administrators and perform illegal actions by avoiding proper channels of oversight they become a serious danger. When they attempt to conceal illegality directed against the American public or media, they become the central threat to a well-informed citizenry. Such actions endanger the credibility of all related officials and possibly cloak nefarious peripheral actions.
C. A. A. Savastano
i. Mike McCormick, (April 28, 2007), Historical Perspective: America's James Bond: The new biography of William King Harvey, Indiana Tribune Star, tribstar.com
ii. House Select Committee on Assassinations, Segregated CIA file, Biographic Profiles of David L. Christ, William Harvey, and Howard Hunt, June 24, 1970, 104-10136-10362, p. 1
iii. Central Intelligence Group, Letter of Acceptance for Employment to William K. Harvey, September 29, 1947, Central Intelligence Agency Library, cia.gov
iv. President Commission on CIA Activities with the U.S., Excerpt from the Testimony of William K. Harvey, May 1, 1975, 157-10005-10169
v. Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, Excepts from the Testimony of William Harvey, June 25, 1975, p. 9, 157-10002-10105, p. 9
vi. Ibid p. 49
vii. Senate Select Comm., Department of Defense Memo from Edward Lansdale, Alternate Course B of Operation Mongoose, August 13, 1962, 157-10004-10137
viii. Senate Select Comm., Excerpts from Testimony of W. Harvey, p. 9
ix. Ibid, p. 53
x. Senate Select Comm., Boxed Files, Testimony of William K. Harvey, p. 127, June 25, 1975, 157-10002-10106
xi. Ibid, p. 97
xii. Ibid, p. 100
xiii. Ibid, pp. 89-91
xiv. Ibid, pp. 140-141
xv. Senate Select Comm., Interview with William Harvey by Frederick D. Baron, September 14, 1975, 157-10011-10124, pp. 1-3