Here’s a rare photo of Richard Case Nagell coming to court in handcuffs. Nagell was a spook with a long history of mental instability and spent decades applying for disability before he finally got it. During the Korean War he got field-promoted to captain at the record-breaking age of 20, so you know he was considered competent.
Two months before Kennedy’s assassination, Nagell walked into a bank in El Paso, Texas, flourished a revolver and fired two shots into the wall. He then walked outside to his vehicle and waited for the police. When they arrived, Nagell invited them to inspect his trunk, which contained a Minolta spy camera and miniature darkroom kit, notebook with Fair Play for Cuba contacts, phone numbers of CIA officers in Los Angeles and names of KGB agents in Mexico. “I’d rather be arrested than commit murder and treason,” said Nagell to the police while being handcuffed.
Nagell was sentenced to ten years for attempted bank robbery and served five for a crime he never fully explained, but later said he thought it would be a simple misdemeanor and not taken so seriously. Nagell claimed to have mailed a letter to J. Edgar Hoover around this time outlining the plot against Kennedy, but received no reply. Nagell made a number of claims of holding evidence that never appeared.
Jim Garrison decided not to call Nagell to the witness stand during his famous trial of Clay Shaw in 1967. Garrison made the first legitimate attempt to bring forth justice but was blocked and stonewalled at every turn by the CIA. And he knew he was being led from all directions into rabbit holes salted with timebombs, and probably suspected Nagell might be one of those.
According to Nagell, after being approached by an East German spook, he was told to double down by his American handlers, so he became a triple agent, a very complex and psychologically-demanding position, but one offering a unique view on world events. While working as a pro-Marxist infiltrator in Mexico and New Orleans, Nagell stumbled into the Kennedy plot and was allegedly told by his Communist handlers to kill Oswald to prevent the assassination (many Communists looked upon Kennedy as a potential ally). The problem with this story is there were two previous attempts planned prior to Dallas.
Dick Russell wrote the book on Nagell (The Man Who Knew Too Much) and it really opened a lot of doors into the assassination for me. Russell was also the first to visit Win Scott’s family and get the story of Scott’s feud with James Angleton over the investigation. Scott was likely killed after he tried to leave the agency after collecting evidence Oswald was a secret agent and not a lone assassin.
If you search online, you can find a bunch of Nagell’s correspondence. He sometimes wrote to friends and to the media and also to Russell himself. Many of these letters are highly entertaining and show an obvious insider knowledge into the workings at the CIA headquarters in Langley.
Nagell died of a heart attack in Los Angeles on November 1st, 1995, and since he lived longer than any other whistleblower, and since nothing substantial ever emerged from any of his revelations, I think it’s safe to say at this point Nagell was a rabbit hole and not a true whistle-blower. But that’s how it goes in the wilderness of mirrors, where up is down, and left is right.
(Excerpted from Killing Kennedy: The Real Story by Steven Hager. To read the rest of the essay buy the book, link below or at the top of the sidebar.)