The Tin Whistle

counterculture history and conspiracy theory

Richard C. Nagell is a key to the JFK assassination

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Pict_RichardCaseNagellHere’s a rare photo of Richard Case Nagell coming to court in handcuffs. Nagell was a spook at the top of his profession in 1963. During the Korean War he got field-promoted to captain at the record-breaking age of 20, so you know he was 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. Nagall claimed to have mailed a letter to J. Edgar Hoover around this time outlining the plot against Kennedy, but received no reply. That letter should have resulted in the immediate arrest of Oswald, which might have stalled the assassination, at least for a while.

Jim Garrison considered calling 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. Unfortunately, Garrison decided not to use him because Nagell refused to reveal which intelligence agency he worked for. Nagell was always a bit cagey about what he could and could not say. Too bad because his story might have blown the case wide open had it been more widely known. After being approached by an East German spook, Nagell 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 told by his Communist handlers to kill Oswald to prevent the assassination (many Communists looked upon Kennedy as a potential ally). At this point, Nagell may have lost contact with his American handler. For whatever reason, he committed that strange federal violation in that El Paso bank. But Garrison went after Shaw based largely on what Nagell revealed to him. Much later, it was revealed that Shaw was secretly working for the CIA.

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.

nagellwt2If 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.

And if you want to delve even deeper into the mystery of Richard Nagell, check out Russell’s definitive book. Despite all efforts to protect himself, Nagell may have been killed by the CIA, or maybe he just had a heart attack in Los Angeles on November 1st, 1995.

One thing for sure, he lived longer than any other whistle-blower in this case, and that’s saying a lot because at one point they were dropping like flies.

2 Responses

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  1. a very cogent argument. thanks for sharing. “blowing the case wide open”. is a key phrase. dorothy kilgallen used it just before she ” suicided on amphetamines.”i’m going to blow the jfk thing wide open” also, francis gary powers, the identical phrase,a day before his book was to be released about how his u-2 was shot down to stop the peace talks and oswald was present in russia at the same time. his helicopter , traffic reporter gig ended when it exploded, of course, we all know about the reporter of ‘the rape of nanking’ getting ‘depressed’ and taking a lot of time to learn how to fire a black powder revolver, rather than a conventional gun, to kill herself. or, a certain reporter for the san jose mercury who shot himself in the head, just before his new book came out, showing he was vindicated by the facts on all his allegations about the c.i.a using freeway rick to import vast quantities of drugs into l.a. oh, and , just in case the first shot, which blew his brains out, wasn’t enough to kill him . he managed to shoot a 2nd time.


    November 27, 2013 at 12:53 am

    • I think Gary Webb did shoot himself, I knew his girl friend when it happened. There was no book coming out and he had just lost his house, something he had poured a lot of energy into fixing up over the years. He asked his ex-wife if he could move back in with her and his kids and she said no. He was very depressed and had already lost his journalism career, even though everything in his book was true.

      Steven Hager

      November 27, 2013 at 7:26 am

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