FBI Crime Lab Report for the Murder of Mary Pinchot Meyer
Confidential U.S. Justice Memorandum, February 24, 1965
Notes Taken by Attorney James (“Jimmy”) H. Smith on His Telephone Call with Leo Damore, March 31, 1993, at Approximately 8:30 A.M.
The following pages are copies of the notes attorney James Smith took on the morning of March 31, 1993, when author Leo Damore called him. The six (6) pages of notes document the telephone call and what was said during the course of the conversation. After Smith shared these notes with me in 2004, we spent hours together over a three-year period going over each line, thereby further stimulating Smith’s recall and accuracy. As of 2011, Smith has reviewed this appendix and fully endorses it to be true and accurate.2
Each page of the notes has been transcribed so that the reader can make sense of what took place during their conversation. There is also a discussion of the information that is given on each page for better understanding.
Page 1: Notes of attorney James Smith’s telephone call with Leo Damore on March 31, 1993.
Page 1: Transcription
These notes were taken by attorney James H. Smith on a telephone call with his client and dear friend Leo Damore on the morning of March 31, 1993. Damore’s tapes of his phone conversation with “William L. Mitchell” were not found among Damore’s belongings after his death, nor was a transcript of the call ever located. However, Jimmy Smith has aided the author in the reconstruction and interpretation of his notes from Damore’s account of his conversation with Mitchell.
The time of Damore’s call, according to Smith, was between 8:00 and 8:30. There are two pieces of this mosaic that Damore reveals on page 1: that he finally had telephone contact with “William L. Mitchell” the night before; and that he, Damore, had come into possession of Mary’s diary—a fact that he had not revealed before.
Page 1 Discussion
Excitedly, Damore announces that he believes he has finally solved the murder of Mary Meyer. He tells Smith that “Mitchell” was a former FBI liaison, and that he, Damore, has been up most of the night (“up to 4 am”) talking to him. The two apparently made an appointment to meet in person.
Damore also indicates that he has examined Mary’s diary—in which Mary made a connection with “it”—JFK’s assassination and the CIA’s involvement, where “James Angleton” figures prominently. Also in Mary’s diary, according to Damore, was Mary’s knowledge that Bobby Kennedy (“Robt K was catalyst”) was going to “fire” FBI director J. Edgar Hoover after President Kennedy was reelected in 1964. The inference here is that Hoover may have also wanted Mary Meyer dead for fear of what she knew, perhaps about Hoover himself or about the FBI’s involvement in the assassination and its cover-up, or both.
Page 2: Notes of attorney James Smith’s telephone call with Leo Damore on March 31, 1993
Page 2: Transcription
Page 2 Discussion
According to Smith, Damore revealed that “William L. Mitchell” currently lived under a different alias in Virginia. “The Real Estate” angle referred to Damore’s letter having been sent to 1500 Arlington Boulevard in Arlington, Virginia, which was “Mitchell’s” previous address. “Mitchell” revealed to Damore during the call that his job listing in the Pentagon directory was just “a light bulb Job,” and that at certain times he was active in the Air Force, the Army, and the Navy. His age at the time of the call was seventy-four.
At the time of Crump’s trial in 1965, “Mitchell” was, according to a Washington Star “news clip” by reporter Roberta Hornig, no longer serving in the military but allegedly “a Georgetown University mathematics teacher.”*
“We had hard leg work” referred to the fact that Damore had finally learned from another former CIA operative that Mitchell’s building at 1500 Arlington Boulevard was a known “CIA safe house,” but Damore was never able to locate any record of any “William L. Mitchell” as a mathematics teacher at Georgetown (nor was this author).
According to Jimmy Smith, Damore explicitly told him that “Mitchell” confessed (“he’s talking”) to Damore: that the murder of Mary Meyer was a CIA contract (“A CIA K”), that the CIA was involved (“CIA inv”), and that “Mitchell” himself was the CIA individual who had been the assassin. “Mitchell” appeared at the trial with a fabricated account in order to corroborate the frame-up of Ray Crump Jr. Damore then told Smith that he had “taped” the entire call with “Mitchell.” Damore then referenced the subject “The” “Angleton connection w/CIA,” which continues on the next page.
Page 3: Notes of attorney James Smith’s telephone call with Leo Damore on March 31, 1993
Page 3: Transcription
Page 3 Discussion
Referring to a passage in Mary’s Diary, Damore emphatically tells Smith that Mary had made up her mind to find some way to go public with what she knew. She was “too strong, too powerful,” and wasn’t about to “back down.” But, said Damore, “Mary – stepped in shit !”
It’s not clear whether Damore, in talking about Hoover (“J.E.H.”), is taking the following revelation from Mary’s diary. Hoover and LBJ were close pals; for years they had Sunday morning breakfasts together, and Hoover gave LBJ’s “kids” a dog named “Edgar.” Hoover did, however, hate the CIA, but he was friendly and a sometime drinking pal with “James Angleton,” probably because Angleton held the ultimate “dirt” on Hoover: compromising pictures of Hoover’s sexual relationship with his colleague Clyde Tolson.
Damore makes reference to William Colby at the time of the Watergate hearings and the House Select Committee on Intelligence, in which the CIA was under intense scrutiny. “How come guys [are] talking?” may be a reference to disclosures at that time. Damore then says that “William L. Mitchell” does “not want to become the fall guy in history” for the murder of Mary Meyer. It appears that before “Mitchell” called Damore, he had read Damore’s book, Senatorial Privilege, about Ted Kennedy’s saga at Chappaquiddick. “Mitchell,” said Damore to Smith, respected how Damore had handled Kennedy’s cousin Joe Gargon’s disclosures to Damore in the book.
Damore specifically states that he already knows who “Mitchell” really is, which was likely revealed to him by L. Fletcher Prouty. “I got [the ] word—he’s a killer [assassin]—[and] he has 5 kids.” Damore then makes the comment that the Washington Post“knew” and “Fear Mary” because she intended to speak out, so her murder was done for the “good of the country.”
Damore’s new literary agent was Richard Pine in New York, who confirmed his representation of Damore, and thought he remembered Damore talking about certain aspects of this call.3
Page 4: Notes of attorney James Smith’s telephone call with Leo Damore on March 31, 1993
Page 4: Transcription
Page 4 Discussion
“On Mary” and the question, “Who pulled trigger … ?” Damore tells Smith that the murder of Mary Meyer was “an operation,” where “Mitchell” and others had first been assigned to a surveillance team in September 1964 around the time the Warren Report was released. This may have occurred before the Warren Report was released, in anticipation of it. It’s not clear.
When the Warren Report was released to the public on September 24, Mary had purchased a paperback copy. Realizing the immensity of the coverup taking place, “she hit [the] roof.” Her Diary makes clear that she first confronted Cord, Damore told Smith, and then Cord informed his close friend Jim Angleton (“husb to Angleton”) about how upset Mary was. The inference was that Mary confronted Cord that she wasn’t going to stand-by and let the cover-up proceed without speaking out. She may have also confronted Angleton as well. “It was not the love affair [with JFK], but the murder of JFK,” and how Mary had finally put certain things together, that pushed Jim Angleton, Cord Meyer, and others to terminate the life of Mary Meyer.
Damore then expressed his suspicions about Ben Bradlee’s meteoric rise at The Washington Post, telling Smith that Bradlee had become Executive Editor within six months after he had become the Managing Editor. That was incorrect; Damore had his facts wrong. After meeting with Katharine Graham in March 1965, Bradlee moved from Newsweek to the Post in August as the “Deputy Managing Editor;” but he was promoted in less than three months in October to the job of “Managing Editor.” Three years later in 1968, he became Executive Editor.4
Damore also told Smith that he believed Philip Graham’s death was suspicious; he didn’t believe it was a suicide. He mentioned to Smith what Dovey Roundtree had told him about what the Graham caretaker had done immediately after the death (“Servant brought body etc.”). Lastly on this page, Damore’s comment about “Kennedys stepping on lots of toes!” refers to the fact that Jack and Bobby had been operating very independently during the Kennedy presidency.
Page 5: Notes of attorney James Smith’s telephone call with Leo Damore on March 31, 1993
Page 5: Transcription
Page 5 Discussion
Damore reveals to Smith that he had talked at some length to L. Fletcher Prouty, who had created a network of clandestine agents throughout the military and other government agencies including the FBI. However, after facilitating for the CIA many coups d’état around the globe, he was deeply disturbed by the revelation of what he quickly came to discover: the CIA’s involvement in the assassination of President Kennedy. Prouty resigned his Air Force commission in 1964 and began to study and prepare for publication his account of the secret history of the Cold War. His two books, The Secret Team and JFK: The CIA, Vietnam, and the Plot to Assassinate John F. Kennedy, have since become classics in understanding America’s Cold War era. So thorough and compelling had Prouty’s analysis been that film director Oliver Stone used his personage for the character of “Mr. X” in his film JFK.
Damore recounts to Jimmy Smith that Prouty had been in New Zealand at the time of Kennedy’s assassination. Prouty told Damore that there was a “staggering” amount of information on Lee Harvey Oswald “already there” in the news, detailing the “how where why” of the assassination when, in fact, Oswald had only been “accused that very afternoon!!” Damore says that Prouty concluded, “[Therefore] prepared in advance,” meaning the assassination.
It was Prouty who finally assisted Damore in putting certain pieces of the murder of Mary Meyer into focus, as well as identifying “William L. Mitchell” as an assassin. A similar (“Same Mod[el]”) CIA template was used for Mary’s murder whereby (1) the murder first takes place; (2) a patsy is “Caught” (arrested); (3) a “Lone Gun” (no conspiracy); (4) “case solved” via a “trial” in the media; and (5) “Home!,” perhaps meaning “home free.”
The notes indicate a powerful role played by the Washington Post—”Trial by newspaper!” Ray Crump’s “mug shots” were everywhere. Damore regarded the murder trial as “so contrived,” with fabricated evidence that included “William L. Mitchell” as a witness, “A Faker!” Finally, Mitchell confesses to Damore that the murder of Mary Meyer had been “a set up away from home in [a] public place.” That had been the Kennedy assassination model referred to.
Page 6: Notes of attorney James Smith’s telephone call with Leo Damore on March 31, 1993
Page 6: Transcription
Page 6 Discussion
Smith again records the date of the telephone call as “31 Mar 93.”
The setup for the murder, Mitchell told Damore, was “standard CIA procedure”—implicitly confirming that there were a number of people involved in the operation. This very likely meant that the operation was radio-controlled with a command center somewhere in the vicinity of the murder.
“Mitchell” then revealed that the young couple walking on the towpath that morning, who police officer Roderick Sylvis had briefly questioned but neglected to ask for identification, were “spotters” (“guy + woman on path…”) for the operation. They were keeping tabs on where Mary Meyer was in the course of her walk along the towpath. Leo told Smith that he “thinks this guy had 1 or 2” spotters working directly with him.
The call ends with Damore telling Smith that he believes he has finally come to “my moment of truth” after finally locating “Mitchell” and having this conversation.
“The guy [William L. Mitchell] opened up and confessed to Leo,” Smith told me in 2004. “He knew Leo had the capacity to be fair and accurate, and this guy “Mitchell” didn’t want to be another patsy like Oswald. I can remember Leo telling me that. He [Mitchell] didn’t want to be the fall guy in history.” 5
2 Author interview with James H. Smith, Esq. April 2, 2011.
3 Richard Pine, interview by the author, October 21, 2004.
4 Bradlee, Ben. A Good Life - Newspapering and Other Adventures. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995. pp. 274-283.
5 Author interview with James H. Smith, Esq. April 7, 2004.
Ben Bradlee’s 1952 Rosenberg Case Press Liaison with the CIA
Ben Bradlee’s 1952 Rosenberg Case Press Liaison with the CIA