Biographies & Memoirs

3

Conspiracy to Conceal

Nobody believes a rumor here in Washington until it’s officially denied.

—Edward Cheyfitz

It’s not the crime that gets you, it’s the cover-up.

—President Richard Nixon

ON OCTOBER 14, 1964, just two days after the Georgetown murder of Mary Meyer, her mourners filed into Washington National Cathedral for the funeral. The day was also her forty-fourth birthday. The burial service took place at 2:00 P.M. in Bethlehem Chapel on the lower level of the church. It was the same place that Mary had chosen for the funeral of her nine-year-old son Michael in December 1956.

After the funeral, Mary Pinchot Meyer was laid to rest next to son Michael on a ridge at the Pinchot family burial plot in the Milford, Pennsylvania, cemetery, just a short distance from her family’s estate, Grey Towers. The previous year, the Pinchot family had donated a portion of their estate to the U.S. Forest Service. Mary, along with her sister and other family members, had accompanied President Kennedy to Grey Towers for the dedication on September 24, 1963, of the Pinchot Institute for Conservation. Publicly, the event had celebrated the environmentally conscious pioneering work of Mary’s uncle Gifford Pinchot, but privately, the furtive glances between Mary and Jack that day marked a turning point for the secret lovers and their mission together. For on that day, during the dedication at Grey Towers, President Kennedy learned that the Senate had ratified his Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty with the Soviets by a vote of 80-19. His intention of creating such a treaty had been revealed for the first time three months earlier during his commencement address at American University. The unprecedented speed with which the treaty had been negotiated during the summer of 1963 was due in large part to his Soviet counterpart, Nikita Khrushchev. Kennedy and Khrushchev had become secret partners in the pursuit of world peace; both wanted to bring the Cold War to an end. The significance of the treaty ratification that day was not lost on Mary. She had, according to Kenny O’Donnell’s statements to Leo Damore, become a beacon for Jack as he explored a new trajectory after the near calamity of the Cuban Missile Crisis, which could have easily made the entire planet uninhabitable had it not been resolved. Though there was no possibility of a public declaration of love, the two secret lovers had exchanged smiles and small nods on hearing the news from Washington that day. It was a turning point in President Kennedy’s newfound political direction.1

But at her funeral a year later, among the elite of Washington who filled the pews—their presence a testament to her social standing and appeal—very few knew how extensive Mary’s influence had been. The mourners included historian and presidential insider Arthur Schlesinger Jr.; journalist Theodore White; former presidential assistant McGeorge Bundy; Richard Helms, the CIA’s deputy director for plans; Katharine Graham, owner of the Washington Post; and Madame Hervé Alphand, wife of the popular French ambassador. Also present was journalist Charlie Bartlett, a Yale classmate of Cord Meyer’s and a very close friend of President Kennedy’s, and his wife, Martha. The Bartletts had introduced Jack to Jackie at a dinner party in 1951. But Jacqueline Kennedy, flaunted as “a close friend” of Mary Meyer’s, did not attend. Several of Mary’s Vassar College classmates were also in attendance, including Scottie Fitzgerald Lanahan, the daughter of F. Scott Fitzgerald; my mother, Mary Draper Janney, and my father, Wistar Janney; and journalist Anne Chamberlin, also a dear friend to Mary. Cicely d’Autremont Angleton, another close friend of Mary’s, was present and sat between her husband, Jim Angleton, and Cord Meyer.2 In addition, a score of Mary’s fellow artists lined the pews. Even in death, the “Georgetown artist with a hundred thousand friends” seemed to draw them all to her farewell gathering.3

Two of the four pallbearers—William (“Bill”) Walton and Kenneth Noland—were artists, like Mary herself. Bill Walton had formerly been a journalist and a war correspondent. He was a close, discreet confidante to both Jack and Bobby Kennedy, as well as to Jackie. Divorced, and reportedly more inclined to the same sex, Walton had functioned as Mary’s escort to many White House social functions where she and Jack often captured a few intimate, stolen moments together. Ken Noland had been a progenitor of the Washington Color School of art in the late 1950s. He and Mary had been intimately involved immediately after her separation and divorce from Cord. New York art dealer André Emmerich, who did not attend the funeral, recalled that Noland had told him that “the art world in Washington was buzzing with rumors that Mary’s murder was in some way connected with her love affair with JFK.” On that day, however, secrets for the most part were being kept.

Was it mere coincidence or irony that Mary’s two other pallbearers were high-level CIA officials Jim Angleton and Wistar Janney, both longtime close friends of Mary’s ex-husband, Cord Meyer, who was also a high-ranking Agency operative? Of course, the mercurial, almost emaciated and ghostlike presence of James Jesus Angleton wasn’t at all surprising. A close friend of Cord’s since Yale, their friendship had endured and deepened as CIA colleagues. Angleton’s outward proclivities and hobbies—photography, poetry, orchid growing, and fly-fishing, including designing and crafting his own fishing lures—suggested a modern-day Renaissance man of considerable talent and interest. Early on, he had ingratiated himself with Mary. She appreciated what appeared to be a man of unusual complexity and knowledge—so much so, in fact, that Jim Angleton had been designated as the godfather to the three Meyer children.

But Mary’s close friendship with Angleton’s wife, Cicely, had long ago made her aware of the shadows that lurked beneath Jim’s exterior, nurtured by the endless rivers of gin and bourbon that spawned a kind of paranoia that demanded control and domination. Nonetheless, in 1964 Angleton was at the top of his game, and had already become something of a legend. A former member of the elite Office of Strategic Services (OS) during World War II, Jim Angleton had distinguished himself early in his career; and for some unknown reason, Allen Dulles had handpicked him in 1954, when Angleton was only thirty-seven, for the position that he would hold for the duration of his career: chief of the CIA’s counterintelligence division in the Directorate of Plans. Angleton would head the Agency’s most secretive department. Colleagues, including many who feared him, often called him by such names as “Mother,” “the locksmith,” even “the CIA’s answer to the Delphic Oracle.” Angleton’s reputation within the world of intelligence would remain epic during his entire life, and would extend even after his death in 1987. No one at Mary’s funeral, however—except Angleton’s titular boss, Richard Helms, and possibly one or two other Agency honchos—was aware that with the recently released Warren Report, Jim Angleton and his former chief, Allen Dulles (a Warren Commission member), had just masterminded possibly the greatest cover-up in American history.

Mary Meyer had come to disdain the work of the intelligence establishment. It was one of the reasons why she had finally initiated her divorce from Cord. In 1951, Cord had succumbed to the recruiting tactics of Allen Dulles, seeing no possibility for the fledgling United World Federalists to keep the tenuous peace in an emerging Cold War. Seduced into betraying the vision that had originally united Mary with him in 1945, Cord’s entrance into the CIA would eventually foreshadow a rupture in their union that would never heal. The Dulles inner circle soon surrounded Mary’s life, complete with its lordly Ivy League sense of entitlement. No law, and certainly no moral compass, would be allowed to stand in the way of American hegemony, she soon learned. Her fights and pleadings with the man to whom she had pledged her deepest trust were to no avail. Mary’s eventual escape in 1957, followed by divorce a year later, had been final, or so she thought.

Yet now, even in death, she was once again encircled. Mary’s fourth pallbearer was my father, Wistar Janney. Like Cord Meyer and so many others who joined the CIA in its infancy, Wistar Janney was part of an idealistic group of World War II veterans that never again wanted to see the possibility of a world at war. A strong, centralized post–World War II intelligence apparatus seemed like an almost ideal solution, and a good career for a group of men who were already, by birth, financially well endowed and secure. In the aftermath of World War II, America had come out on top. They wanted to keep it that way.

The youngest of six children of a wealthy, prominent investment banker, my father was raised in Bryn Mawr on Philadelphia’s Main Line. His given name at birth, resembling an almost royal title, was Frederick Wistar Morris Janney. To his close friends, immediate colleagues, and family, he was “Wistar,” or “Wis.” To his CIA subordinates, he was known as Fred Janney. Educated at Phillips Exeter Academy, Wistar Janney graduated from Princeton in 1941. About to be drafted, he enlisted in the Navy to become a naval aviator, allegedly after viewing the movie Flight Command, starring Robert Taylor—in addition to having had yet another fight with his aloof, investment banker father. Piloting a Grumman Avenger torpedo bomber off the deck of an aircraft carrier in the Pacific theater, Wistar was not expected to survive by anyone in his family, including his father.

“When I strapped a Grumman Avenger to my ass, it was do or die,” he murmured late one night, not wanting to recall the death of his fellow pilot and close friend Eddie Larkin during the Battle of Leyte Gulf in October 1944. He had not had the chance to reconcile with his father, who died unexpectedly just a few days before the largest naval battle in history. The father-son duo had remained estranged, in spite of the fact that Wistar’s father—Walter Coggeshall Janney—knew his time was near. At the end of the summer of 1944, “Lord of the Manor” Walter elected to return to Bryn Mawr from his summer estate on Cape Cod in the station wagon driven by his caretaker-gardener John Martin, not in his customary chauffeur-driven Packard. Midway across the Bourne Bridge, which connected Cape Cod to the mainland, he ordered Martin to stop the car, whereupon he got out and took one last gaze at the Cape Cod panorama where his family and beloved progeny had, since the late 1920s, thrived amid the bounty and fortune he had amassed. At that moment, he told Martin that he would not live through another winter. Asking Martin “to stay on and take care of the estate and Mrs. Janney,” he resumed his journey to Bryn Mawr.4 The father-son schism, however, remained—passing through invisible ethers into the next generation and beyond.

Wistar Janney made sure that Eddie Larkin would be awarded the Navy Cross posthumously. Finally emerging victorious from battle, Janney himself came home with his own, and a slew of other medals. Every workday, he proudly wore his Navy Cross pin on his suit jacket’s left lapel, sometimes along with his naval aviator necktie. Awarded one of Yale’s first master of arts in Russian area studies in 1948, my father was soon recruited into the CIA by Allen Dulles, also a Princeton graduate. Technically, he was for many years a Soviet analyst in the Agency’s Office of Current Intelligence (OCI), but it wasn’t ever clear what Wistar’s job(s) actually entailed. There were periodic trips to Europe, and then Iran. “Your father was a company man,” said disaffected former CIA staffer and author Victor Marchetti in an interview for this book in 2005. More time would pass before I finally began to understand what that might mean.

At Mary’s funeral, Wistar’s pallbearer assignment had been requested by Cord in his hour of need. Wistar himself was never fond of Mary, particularly after she jettisoned Cord, devastating him, by all accounts. Moreover, what infuriated Wistar even more was the fact that over the years Mary had become increasingly outspoken about her displeasure with what the CIA was doing in the world. No other CIA wife had ever dared such public bluntness, certainly not Wistar’s. But that hadn’t stopped Mary Meyer, even if my father’s well-oiled temper might be the kind of assault any civilized person would want to avoid. His signature point of view was that if you didn’t work for the Agency, you really didn’t know anything; furthermore, “opinions were like assholes—everyone had one,” he would say as one of his favored retorts. Any discussion would quickly turn into what one friend in the late 1960s once called a kind of unending “Tet Offensive” with Wistar inevitably asserting at some point that the CIA had the only key to a treasure called “the truth.” They (he, the CIA) knew; you didn’t. End of conversation. How dare you think otherwise.

Seated immediately adjacent to Mary’s casket was her ex-husband and their two remaining sons: Quentin, eighteen, and Mark, fourteen. Cord, habitually imperious, sobbed uncharacteristically throughout the ceremony. He had been away in New York on Agency business when Mary was murdered. Comforted by his CIA colleagues, as well as by Mary’s mother, Ruth Pickering Pinchot, Cord was the recipient of a magnanimous show of support that included Ben and Tony Bradlee, Mary’s younger sister and only sibling. Cord’s grief, however, appeared to be purely ceremonial and ephemeral. After the funeral, he would “advise” his two remaining sons that there were to be no more tears over the loss of their mother.

Bishop Paul Moore Jr., suffragan bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, conducted the burial service from the Book of Common Prayer. A close friend of both Ben Bradlee and Cord Meyer, the bishop, like Cord himself, had gone to St. Paul’s School, in Concord, New Hampshire, and then Yale, graduating in the class of 1941, a year and a half ahead of Cord. “I was away at a convention when the murder happened,” Moore told author Leo Damore in 1991. “Benny [Ben Bradlee] called me and I flew in for the funeral.”5 Moore didn’t have a pastoral relationship with Mary. “I knew her much better earlier [in her life]. She and Cord and my first wife and I were very close friends when Cord came back from overseas the same time I did, around the time they were married. I didn’t see much of Mary in later years, so I wasn’t close to her,” he recalled. Even so, Moore was glad to officiate. “Over the years I’ve done weddings and funerals for the family. They weren’t members of my parish or anything. I was, in an informal way, their official pastor. Most of those folks don’t have any clergy friends they’re close to. It’s just that we’re old friends, so it was natural for them to turn to a priest or bishop when they needed somebody.”6

In his eulogy, Moore referred to “Mary’s honesty, her friendship, her rare sensitivity, that beauty which walked with her and which flowed from her into each of our lives.” But he could not answer the question that no doubt plagued many of those in attendance, although not all of them. “We cannot know why and how such a terrible, ugly, irrational thing should have happened. We can only sense that it was, in some way, bound up in this sin and sickness of the entire world.”7

Perhaps at the time publicly oblivious, the suffragan bishop wasn’t about to speak to any “pattern,” invisible or not, among those who thought it possible to play God for the purposes of a well-ordered world. While Moore, like most Americans, may have been initially seduced into believing that Lee Harvey Oswald had killed the president, a few years later his personal awakening would impel him to champion civil rights for African Americans, stridently oppose the Vietnam War, and ordain an openly gay woman as a priest in the Episcopal Church. But that afternoon, Moore only requested prayers “for that poor, demented soul who has brought about this essentialist tragedy.”8

“I remember catching a little criticism for that,” Moore recalled. “Some folks thought it was inappropriate to pray for the person who had killed Mary. They were a little uneasy about it. This didn’t come from the family. In fact, they thought it was okay—even positive.” Moore’s highest priority, he said, was “my relationship with the Pinchot family, which goes back to my parents. I didn’t want to do anything that would in any way offend them.”9

But even in the elite, affluent neighborhoods of Georgetown, home to many of Washington’s global power brokers, the rumbling of rumors had already begun. There was talk, too, of some kind of cover-up, links to the Kennedy White House, perhaps even some CIA involvement, and even possibly “Soviet complicity” in her murder—this last from CIA counterintelligence chief Jim Angleton himself.10

Bishop Moore had not intended to presume guilt on the part of Ray Crump Jr. “On the contrary,” Moore said in 1991, “I’m fascinated, obviously, because it’s always bothered me. I never felt the police really put this case to bed. There was a lot of paranoia surrounding Mary’s murder. And you know, you still hear a lot of rumors about it.”11 Moore’s uncertainty, however, even in 1991, nearly thirty years after the murder took place, was not unique. There were a number of facts—and stories—that didn’t add up, and were even contradictory, with more to come, leaving loose ends that inevitably “bothered” a lot of people, including me.

In the wake of Mary Meyer’s murder on that October 12 afternoon, who among her close friends and family first knew that she was dead? And how did they come by that knowledge? The answers to these questions, depending on whom you ask, are riddled with confusion and ambiguity that persist to this day. The truth—elusive though it has been—about when and how Mary’s friends and family learned of her death is part of the key to unraveling the mystery of who killed her, and why.

To begin, the first public revelation that Mary Meyer had been romantically involved with President Kennedy came through a story in the National Enquirer in its March 2, 1976, edition.12 The details of the story had been given to the Enquirer by James Truitt, a close friend of Mary’s (along with his wife, Anne), who had been a vice president of the Washington Post before he was abruptly fired by Ben Bradlee in 1969. The Enquirer story was strangely, even remarkably, well-documented, because Mary Meyer had confided her affair with President Kennedy to her friends, the Truitts. Jim Truitt, a seasoned journalist himself, had kept a record of everything Mary had shared with him. The Enquirer exposé revealed the fact that Mary had been keeping a diary of her affair, as well as the fact that she and the president had smoked marijuana in the First Family’s residence in the White House. It also disclosed, for the first time, the fact that following her death, Mary’s diary was found by her sister, Tony, in Mary’s studio, and that this diary—labeled by Mary’s closest intimates as just an “artist’s sketchbook”—along with “several love letters” from JFK and other “private papers” belonging to Mary, had been given to the CIA’s counterintelligence chief Jim Angleton to be burned, which he never did. The Enquirer story became an overnight bombshell that rocked Washington, already roiling and swirling through post-Watergate congressional hearings on illegal CIA activities, as well as further investigation into the Kennedy assassination.

Rightly sensing that there might be more to this story, Yale-educated journalist Ron Rosenbaum and his colleague Phillip Nobile went to work interviewing a number of principals close to Mary Meyer, including Jim Angleton and Ben and Tony Bradlee, as well as continuing to draw upon the input of Jim Truitt. In July, several months after the National Enquirer article appeared, Nobile and Rosenbaum published “The Curious Aftermath of JFK’s Best and Brightest Affair” in the investigative weekly magazine New Times. The article has remained a seminal account of what allegedly took place during the immediate aftermath of the murder. The two journalists spent considerable time researching and interviewing their article, finally conceding the story was “immensely complex,” and incomplete, primarily because many of Mary’s friends and relatives “understandably drew back from the public controversy. Many refused all comment, others misled and misspoke.”13

In their account, based on information gleaned from Jim Angleton himself, Rosenbaum and Nobile contended that the first person to realize that Mary Meyer was dead was Angleton’s wife, Cicely. At some point during the afternoon of October 12, Cicely Angleton allegedly heard a radio bulletin about a murder on the C & O canal towpath. It is not known what level of detail the bulletin included—perhaps only that the victim was a middle-aged white female—but the location of the murder seemed enough to supposedly cause Cicely to fear the worst for her friend, who she knew was in the habit of daily walks on the towpath. In response to the broadcast, Cicely reportedly called her husband, the forty-six-year-old counterintelligence chief at the CIA. Jim Angleton was in “a big conference at CIA headquarters” when his wife’s urgent call reached him. He was said to have been irritated by the interruption and told her that he thought her fear was a “silly fantasy.” Reminding her of their plans to attend a poetry reading with Mary Meyer that same evening, he dismissed her paranoia and hung up.14

More than three decades later, Cicely Angleton would be the only close woman friend of Mary Meyer willing to talk with author Nina Burleigh, whose book, A Very Private Woman, was published in 1998. In interviews with Burleigh, it appeared that Cicely never mentioned the alleged radio bulletin on the day of Mary’s murder—nor her alleged panicked call to her husband at CIA headquarters.2 Simply incomprehensible was that Ms. Angleton might have forgotten such a detail, and that Burleigh—who acknowledged Rosenbaum’s groundbreaking work—would not have asked her about it. “News of the murdered woman on the towpath traveled fast in white Washington,” Burleigh wrote in A Very Private Woman. “And some of Mary’s friends suspected immediately the victim might be their friend.”15 Other than Cicely Angleton, the so-called friends that Burleigh referred to were never identified. In addition, it also appears that Cicely Angleton may have revealed another layer of her husband’s deceit, which her three children would inadvertently make public after their mother’s death in the fall of 2011.

Even more perplexing, and certainly no less disturbing, was Ben Bradlee’s account of who first learned the tragic news about Mary Meyer. More than thirty years after her murder, and twenty years after being interviewed by Rosenbaum and Nobile (to whom he never revealed the following event), Bradlee finally offered his own answer to the question of who first learned about the murder. According to Bradlee, it was he.

In his 1995 memoir A Good Life, the former executive editor of the Washington Post wrote that “[i]t was just after lunch” on the day of the murder when he received a telephone call from “my friend,” asking if he had been listening to the radio—a reference, presumably, to the broadcast bulletin that Cicely Angleton claimed had alarmed her. Bradlee hadn’t heard it. The caller also asked Bradlee if he knew where Mary Meyer was. He didn’t. “Someone [has] been murdered on the towpath,” Bradlee reported the caller saying. “From the description,” said the caller, “it sounded like Mary.”16 At the time of this call—”just after lunch,” wrote Bradlee—Mary had been dead for less than two hours, but the police still didn’t know her identity. That would only be finally confirmed “sometime after” six that evening, when Bradlee himself identified her corpse at the D.C. morgue.17

Until he wrote about it in 1995, Bradlee had never publicly mentioned the phone call, nor was this call ever referenced in any police report, or elicited in Bradlee’s testimony at Mary’s murder trial in July 1965. Furthermore, while Bradlee revealed the identity of the caller in his 1995 memoir, a fact that will later be discussed in some detail, he neglected to mention, or omitted deliberately, that his caller “friend” was a career, high-ranking CIA official.

Bradlee has never said why he waited more than thirty years to reveal the mysterious phone call. According to Rosenbaum, Bradlee had considered divulging Mary Meyer’s affair with the president in his 1975 book Conversations with Kennedy (published a year before the story first appeared in the National Enquirer), “until others pressured him against it.”18 It was never known who the “others” were. By the time Bradlee published A Good Life in 1995, his CIA friend—the man who had first alerted him on the day of Mary’s murder—had died.

The question still lingered: How could Bradlee’s CIA friend have known “just after lunch” that the murdered woman was Mary Meyer when the victim’s identity was still unknown to police? Did the caller wonder if the woman was Mary, or did he know it, and if so, how? This distinction is critical, and it goes to the heart of the mystery surrounding Mary Meyer’s murder.

So does the following detail. The CIA caller’s suggestion that something might have happened to Mary Meyer was plausible enough to send Bradlee rushing home to prepare his family for the possibility that the dead woman might, in fact, be his wife’s sister. But it would not be until that evening—sometime before six, in Bradlee’s recollection—that the police would knock on his door to inform him that the dead woman might be Mary. It was only then, shortly before six, that Bradlee went to the morgue to identify Mary’s body.19 This raises another question: If Bradlee had been given information “just after lunch” that Mary Meyer might have been killed, why didn’t he go to the D.C. morgue, or police, sooner?

According to the 1976 Rosenbaum and Nobile account, Jim and Cicely Angleton arrived at Mary Meyer’s house the evening of her murder to pick her up on their way to a Reed Whittemore poetry reading. They noticed her car was in the driveway, but her house was dark. They got no answer when they rang the doorbell. It wasn’t clear whether Mary’s house was locked, or whether, and how, the Angletons gained entry at that time. According to Angleton, it was at his wife’s urging that he called Mary’s answering service—perhaps from inside Mary’s house, perhaps from another location; it was never known. Either way, Rosenbaum and Nobile’s article claims that it was from Mary Meyer’s answering service that Jim Angleton first learned that she was dead. The Angletons then went straight from Mary’s house to Ben and Tony Bradlee’s house where, according to Rosenbaum, they gave their condolences and offered to help with funeral arrangements. How did Mary Meyer’s answering service know that she had been killed? And if the answering service had that information, who informed the service? Furthermore, why would they dispense it so freely? The police had only confirmed Mary’s identity when Bradlee identified her body “sometime after” 6:00 P.M.20

Ben Bradlee returned home that evening after identifying Mary’s body at the D.C. morgue. As he recalled in 1995, the Bradlee house was filling up with friends, “the phones rang, the doorbell buzzed. Food and drink materialized out of nowhere.” He was surprised to receive a call from Pierre Salinger, President Kennedy’s former press secretary, who was in Paris, expressing “his particular sorrow and condolences.” The Bradlees had not been aware that Mary Meyer had known Salinger, or in what context.21

Another overseas call, this one from Japan, wasn’t a surprise. Sculptor Anne Truitt had been one of Mary Meyer’s closest friends. She and her husband, Newsweek journalist James Truitt, had moved to Tokyo in early 1964. As already noted, Anne and her husband had been well aware of Mary’s relationship with the president, because Mary had confided to both of them about the affair. A number of other people in Jack Kennedy’s intimate circle knew about the relationship as well, but Ben Bradlee, once again, couldn’t seem to get his story straight. In 1976, according to Rosenbaum, Bradlee even denied “that he was aware of the JFK–Mary Meyer affair before the [1976] Enquirer story,” though he admitted to having read through the diary in 1964.22 Another source further confided to Rosenbaum that Bradlee had considered exposing the affair himself in his 1975 book Conversations with Kennedy, “until others pressured him against it.”23

Anne Truitt’s reason for calling the Bradlees wasn’t only to offer sympathy. According to Bradlee’s 1995 account, the purpose of Truitt’s call was to inform Ben and Tony of Mary’s “private diary,” and the fact that Mary had asked her—not Jim Angleton—”if anything ever happened to me,” to take possession of her diary. Anne issued an urgent directive that evening: The diary needed to be retrieved as soon as possible. Yet, according to Rosenbaum, Anne Truitt was desperately trying to locate Jim Angleton and found him at the Bradlees, whereupon she informed him about the need to procure Mary’s diary immediately. Mary Meyer “had entrusted to her friends James and Anne Truitt the fact of her affair with JFK and the existence of a diary recounting some of her evenings with the President,” noted Rosenbaum. It appears, then, with the Truitts in Japan, a decision was made by persons unknown that the diary was to now be safeguarded by Jim Angleton: “The Truitts were still in Tokyo when they received word of the towpath murder, and the responsibility for the diary was communicated to their mutual friend James Angleton, through still uncertain channels.”24

Presumably, the revelation of this detail came from Jim Truitt himself, since Anne did not make herself available to be interviewed for the 1976 Rosenbaum article. More important, however, there was never a record or any mention of Mary Meyer herself instructing the Truitts, before they left for Tokyo, to make sure Jim Angleton took charge of her diary, should unforeseen events in her life take place. As Rosenbaum insightfully noted: “Before the Truitts departed for Tokyo in 1963 [sic], where Jim [Truitt] was made Newsweek bureau chief, Mary discussed with them the disposition of her diary in the event of her death. She asked them to preserve it, and to show it to her son Quentin when he reached the age of 21.”25 Angleton’s role as “the diary’s protector” was likely invented immediately after the Truitts were informed of Mary’s demise, which brings us to a still unanswered question: Who called the Truitts in Tokyo to inform them of Mary’s death? What “channels” were employed to inform Angleton of his newfound responsibility for the diary? Both questions have remained “dangling in the wind,” and for good reason.26

The actual search for and discovery of Mary Meyer’s diary immediately following her murder, and the differing accounts given by the people involved, have taken on a mythology in Washington that to this day remains an impenetrable labyrinth of confusion and deceit. Like idiot Keystone Kops, none of Mary’s closest friends and family members could even get their own stories straight. There are at least three separate existing accounts of the search and discovery of what was eventually called “Mary’s diary.” A possible fourth account was never divulged by the cagey, tight-lipped, former journalist Anne Chamberlin,3 who, shortly after Mary’s death, according to Leo Damore, allegedly fled Washington out of fear. And a fifth account, which emerged in December 2011, casts doubt on the veracity of almost every one of the principal actors in this drama.

The first account of the search for Mary’s diary came from the July 1976 Rosenbaum and Nobile New Times magazine article, just four months after the National Enquirer exposé in March. In Rosenbaum’s version, the search took place inside Mary’s house on Saturday, October 17, five days after her murder. It involved the Angletons, Tony Bradlee, Cord Meyer, and Anne Chamberlin. Ben Bradlee was not present. Jim Angleton, sometimes known as “the locksmith,” was said to have brought along his bag of tricks: “white gloves, drills,” and other implements that one might expect the CIA’s counterintelligence chief to possess. The search party tapped walls, and “looked in the fireplace and turned over bricks in the garden.” During the event, “the whiskey flowed,” as it often did in those days. Cord Meyer reportedly “lit a smoky fire,” while “Angleton pitched in washing dishes.” One of the party members reportedly stepped into the garden and issued a skyward plea, “Mary, where’s your damn diary?”27

The search party found nothing. Later that the same day, Tony Bradlee was said to have discovered a “locked steel box” in Mary’s studio. Inside it was one of Mary’s artist sketchbooks, a number of personal papers, and “hundreds of letters” of a personal nature. Some of them were reportedly “love letters” from Jack Kennedy, though it has never been established whether they had been written before or after he became president.28 Tony Bradlee later claimed that the presence of a few vague notes written in the sketchbook—allegedly including cryptic references to an affair with the president—persuaded her that she’d found her sister’s missing diary. But Mary’s artist sketchbook wasn’t her real diary. It was just a ruse.

The second account of the search for Mary’s diary came from Ben Bradlee’s 1995 memoir A Good Life. There, he asked the reader to believe that an iconic journalist wouldn’t have bothered reviewing the material already published in 1976 (in part, based on Rosenbaum’s interview with Bradlee), or even have checked his own sworn testimony in 1965 at Mary Meyer’s murder trial, before delivering to the public his final statement about one of his sister-in-law’s most intimate possessions. According to Bradlee, he and his wife, Tony, first looked for the diary the morning after the murder—Tuesday, October 13. Bradlee said they first went to Mary’s house that morning, where they were taken aback to find Jim Angleton already inside. Angleton was said to have “shuffled his feet” in apparent embarrassment when he was discovered. At that point, Bradlee claims, the three of them together looked for the diary but found nothing.

Later that same day (Tuesday, October 13), Bradlee wrote, he and Tony decided to search Mary’s converted brick garage studio, located in the alley behind their N Street house. “We had no key [to Mary’s studio],” wrote Bradlee, “but I got a few tools to remove the simple padlock, and we walked toward the studio, only to run into Jim Angleton again, this time actually in the process of picking the padlock.”29 According to Rosenbaum, Angleton was furious at Bradlee’s claim, calling him a liar, and denying he had ever been at the studio.30 Bradlee went on to say, “We missed the diary the first time, but Tony found it an hour later.”

What’s stunning and fascinating about this account was that it completely contradicted Bradlee’s sworn testimony at Mary’s murder trial in 1965. There, he testified he was inside Mary’s studio on the night of her murder—with no mention of any trouble whatsoever gaining entrance. Presumably, this took place after Anne Truitt’s phone call from Japan alerting both Angleton and Bradlee that Mary had kept a diary of her affair with Kennedy, though Angleton was undoubtedly already aware of Mary’s diary long before her murder, as the reader will come to understand in a later chapter. At the trial in July 1965, prosecuting attorney Alfred Hantman asked Bradlee the following:

  Hantman: 

  Did you have access to it [Mary’s studio]? 

  Bradlee: 

  Yes. 

  Hantman: 

  Subsequent to the death of Mary Pinchot Meyer, did you make any effort to gain entry to this studio that was occupied by Mrs. Meyer? 

  Bradlee: 

  I did, yes. 

  Hantman: 

  When was this, sir? 

  Bradlee: 

  The night of October 12. 

  Hantman: 

  Was this studio or the garage which was converted into a studio secured in any manner? 

  Bradlee: 

  Yes, it had a padlock on it. 

  Hantman: 

  And were you able to gain access to this studio at that time? 

  Bradlee: 

  I did. 

  Hantman: 

  Now, besides the usual articles of Mrs. Meyer’s avocation, did you find there any other articles of her personal property? 

  Bradlee: 

  There was a pocketbook there. 

  Hantman: 

  What did the pocketbook contain, sir? 

  Bradlee: 

  It contained a wallet, some cosmetics and pencils, things like that. 

  Hantman: 

  And did the wallet contain any money, sir? 

  Bradlee: 

  I don’t think so. It may have, I just don’t remember. 

  Hantman: 

  Were there keys to her automobile? 

  Bradlee: 

  Yes, there was a key there. 

  Hantman: 

  I have no further questions of Mr. Bradlee, Your honor.  31

Bradlee never revealed during this interchange (nor was he asked) whether he was in Mary’s studio alone, or in the company of someone else—such as Jim Angleton. Furthermore, if he had no trouble gaining entrance on the night of the murder, why the need of “a few tools to remove the simple padlock” the following day? Had “the locksmith” Angleton facilitated Bradlee’s entrance that night? If Mary’s actual diary was in her studio that night, it was likely stolen by Bradlee and Angleton at that time—the night of the murder—and given to Angleton for safekeeping.

A third account of the diary search came from Cicely Angleton’s and Anne Truitt’s November 1995 letter to the New York Times in response to William Safire’s review of the 1995 Bradlee memoir. The two women for some reason felt it particularly urgent “to correct what in our opinion is an error in Ben Bradlee’s autobiography.” They wrote:

This error occurs in Mr. Bradlee’s account of the discovery and disposition of Mary Pinchot Meyer’s personal diary. The fact is that Mary Meyer asked Anne Truitt to make sure that in the event of anything happening to Mary while Anne was in Japan, James Angleton take this diary into his safekeeping.

When she learned that Mary had been killed, Anne Truitt telephoned person-to-person from Tokyo for James Angleton. She found him at Mr. Bradlee’s house, where Angleton and his wife, Cicely had been asked to come following the murder.

In the phone call, relaying Mary Meyer’s specific instructions, Anne Truitt told Angleton for the first time [author’s italics], that there was a diary; and, in accordance with Mary Meyer’s explicit request, Anne Truitt asked Angleton to search for and to take charge of this diary.32

“This search was carried out,” Mrs. Angleton affirms, “in Mary Meyer’s house in the presence of her sister, Tony Bradlee, and the Angletons, and one other friend of Mary Meyer’s.” That unidentified friend was Anne Chamberlin, still not wanting her name brought into the fray even thirty years later. But the Angleton-Truitt letter never revealed the date of the search, though it did assert that neither Cord Meyer nor Ben Bradlee were present. The two Mary Meyer confidantes then concluded their letter with the following: “When Tony Bradlee found the diary and several papers bundled together in Mary Meyer’s studio, she gave the entire package to Angleton and asked him to burn it. Angleton followed this instruction in part by burning the loose papers. He also followed Mary Meyer’s instruction and safeguarded the diary. Some years later, he honored a request from Tony Bradlee that he deliver it to her. Subsequently, Tony Bradlee burned the diary in the presence of Anne Truitt.”33

Anne Truitt and Cicely Angleton now wanted the public to believe that Jim Angleton had “safeguarded” the diary on instructions from Mary Meyer. But if Mary had truly wanted Angleton to take possession of her diary in the event of her death, why wouldn’t she have told him so herself? According to journalist William Safire, “in the mid-1970’s” (the time when both the National Enquirer exposé and the Rosenbaum article had been published), Angleton’s spiel was that it was only his “loyal concern for the slain President’s reputation [that] led him to search for and destroy Meyer’s diary,”34 yet he never once mentioned that Mary Meyer herself had requested him to take possession of her diary, or destroy any part of it. Jim Angleton was a consummate, pathological liar and a master of duplicity—not only to Safire, but to everyone else—except to his close friend and colleague Cord Meyer and possibly in this instance Ben Bradlee, as the reader will eventually discover.

Furthermore, Jim Angleton never destroyed anything.35 And both Anne Truitt and Cicely Angleton in 1995, it appears, either intentionally left out another critically important piece of the fable, or chose not to reveal a new level of subterfuge that would finally be inadvertently divulged at the end of 2011 by the Angleton children. It was this: In the fall of 2011, Tony Bradlee died. Reviewing her life in her obituary, the Washington Post quoted Ben Bradlee’s memoir A Good Life: “The Bradlees saw CIA counterintelligence chief James J. Angleton picking the padlock on [Mary] Meyer’s Georgetown art studio in an attempt to retrieve her diary.”36 This so upset Angleton’s three children that they wrote a letter to the Post editor on December 2, 2011, in an attempt to correct the account. In doing so, the Angleton children made public for the first time the following (see author’s italics below):

Anne Truitt, a friend of Tony Bradlee and Bradlee’s sister, Mary Meyer, was abroad when Meyer was killed in the District. Truitt called Bradlee and said that Meyer had asked her to request that Angleton retrieve and burn certain pages of her diary if anything happened to her [author’s italics].

James and Cicely Angleton were with Ben and Tony Bradlee at the Bradlees’ home when Tony Bradlee received the call. Cicely, our mother, told her daughter Guru Sangat Khalsa, “We all went to Mary’s house together.” She said there was no break-in because the Bradlees had a key. The diary was not found at that time.

Later, Tony Bradlee found it and gave it to James Angleton. He burned the pages that Meyer had asked to be burned [author’s italics] and put the rest in a safe. Years later, he gave the rest of the diary to Bradlee at her request.37

Is it now to be believed not only that Mary Meyer entrusted the safekeeping of her diary to Jim Angleton, but that she had also specifically instructed him to “burn certain pages of her diary if anything happened to her”? Nothing could be further from the truth. The conspiracy to conceal, on one level, clearly involved all of the intimates of Mary Meyer: her sister, Tony, her closest women friends—Cicely Angleton, Anne Truitt, and Anne Chamberlin—and, of course, her ex-husband Cord, Ben Bradlee, and Jim Angleton. However, the men conspired to something even more sinister.

Therein the diary’s “Rubik’s Cube” becomes even more mysterious, only because there were two conspiracies taking place simultaneously, both masterminded by the “Master Angler” himself—James Jesus Angleton. It is not known (nor likely ever will be) how Angleton twisted the arm of Anne Truitt to declare that on the night of Mary’s murder she should call the Bradlees and inform them that such a diary existed and that Mary had told her to make sure Angleton took charge of it, should anything happen to her. The answer to the question of who called the Truitts in Tokyo to inform them of Mary’s demise now becomes more obvious: It was Angleton himself.

Angleton’s ostensible concern was to protect the reputation of both President Kennedy and Mary Meyer, and the emerging myth of Camelot. This is likely how he first got the Truitts to participate. Mary’s diary, and any other of her incriminating papers or possessions, had to be commandeered and contained as quickly as possible for the sake of ‘a nation in mourning for its fallen leader.’ The other women—Cicely Angleton, Tony Bradlee, and Anne Chamberlin—then fell in line, wanting to protect their dear friend Mary and the fallen president. They all conspired to conceal two important facts: that Mary and Jack had been having an affair, and that there had been some level of drug use in their relationship, both of which were eventually revealed in 1976 by the National Enquirer, thanks to Jim Truitt, who finally broke ranks. There, Truitt revealed to the Enquirer that Mary and Jack had, in fact, smoked marijuana in the White House residence in July 1962. Whether the two together went on to share a psychedelic journey with a hallucinogen such as LSD or psilocybin will be discussed in a later chapter.

None of the women in this caper, however, was ever aware of the fact that Jim Angleton had already absconded with Mary’s real diary on the night of her murder, or what the diary actually contained. The only people who knew the diary’s contents immediately following the murder were Jim Angleton and Cord Meyer, the two CIA honchos, though Ben Bradlee certainly knew of its existence if it was retrieved from Mary’s studio on the night of the murder. Whether Bradlee actually read the real diary in its entirety isn’t known. Later on, as will be discussed subsequently, it appears Angleton shared the diary’s contents with at least one other CIA colleague and one other individual.

And so the charade for the search for Mary’s diary became a camouflage and deflection for something more sinister. Subsequent to the March 1976 National Enquirer bombshell, Tony Bradlee played down the contents of her sister’s sketchbook, purported to be her diary, as inconsequential. By all accounts, Mary’s artist sketchbook had allegedly been discovered by Tony Bradlee, though it’s not known exactly when—possibly on Tuesday, October 13, the day after Mary’s murder, or possibly not until Saturday, October 17. It was described by Tony in 1976 as “a sketchbook with a nice paisley colored cover on it…. It was kind of a loose leaf book, nothing like Ben’s book he was taking things down in, just a woman’s notes about what she had been doing. I swear I don’t remember what was in it. I went through it so quickly. And I remember there were some JFK’s in it. There were some references to him…. It was very cryptic and difficult to understand. Not much there, but some references to JFK.”38

Sometime before 2004, Tony Bradlee also told author Sally Bedell Smith that “everyone thought it [the sketchbook] was full of all kinds of gossip which it wasn’t. I think I burned it because there was interest in the diary [sketchbook], and I didn’t want the kids to get into it.”39 (God forbid “the kids,” or anyone else, should know the truth.) If the sketchbook was so innocuous and inconsequential, why was it destroyed? And why was it done so quickly after the initial public revelation of Mary’s affair with the president in 1976?40 Furthermore, nowhere does Tony Bradlee ever reveal or mention anything to do with Mary’s alleged request to Jim Angleton to “burn certain pages of her diary if anything happened to her.”

Even more ludicrous, the principals in this caper couldn’t keep their stories straight as to what the sketchbook actually contained. Ben Bradlee admitted in 2007 in an interview for this book that his memory wasn’t what it used to be, but he was adamant about what he had seen:

“I had that diary in my hands for twenty minutes and thumbed through it. It was just an artist’s sketchbook. If the thing had sixty pages in it, that’s a lot. Most of it was swatches, colors. Every now and then in a little unused corner of a page, there would be writings. To call them diary entries magnifies it out of proportion. I never saw Jack’s name in it. He wasn’t referred to as ‘the president’ or ‘Jack Kennedy.’ It was about an affair. She obviously had more than one affair, too.”41

Yet in his 1995 memoir, Bradlee recounted the reading of the “sketchbook” with his wife as something that clearly informed both of them of Mary’s affair with the president. Not wanting to shatter the emerging Kennedy myth of Camelot, he and Tony felt that it was up to them to “decide what to do with the diary.” He wrote the following:

“[A]nd we both concluded that this was in no sense a public document, despite the braying of the knee jerks about some public right to know. I felt it was a family document, privately created by Mary, privately protected by her thorough instructions to Anne Truitt, which should be followed.”42

He also wrote: “To say we were stunned [about the affair] doesn’t begin to describe our reactions. Tony, especially, felt betrayed, both by Kennedy and by Mary.”43 Years later, in 2007, Bradlee reiterated the fact that “Tony was shocked, and I mean shocked[Bradlee’s emphases], when she found out Mary had been having an affair with Jack.”44 Yet Bradlee, too, never mentioned anything about Mary’s request that Angleton burn designated pages of the diary upon her death.

Anne Truitt’s final reflections about “Mary’s sketchbook” may have revealed some of her confusion about what had taken place. Having been in Japan when Mary was murdered, it appears she only saw the sketchbook right before it was burned by Tony Bradlee in 1976. In an interview with author Sally Bedell Smith shortly before Anne’s death in 2004, she referred to the “sketchbook” (advertised to the public as Mary’s diary) as the “little notebook with a pretty cover.” She told Smith that it “consisted mostly of jottings about Mary’s art, and paint swatches on otherwise blank pages. Only about ten pages were devoted to Kennedy, who was never mentioned by name.” Even more revealing, Anne Truitt was “just floored,” she said, about its lack of details. There was “nothing, nada, a series of scrawls and notes, not in order, no chronology, no real facts.”45Truitt also confirmed in this interview that she and Tony Bradlee had allegedly burned the sketchbook in Tony’s fireplace sometime shortly after the National Enquirer exposé in March 1976.46 Tony herself had stated in 1976 that “the diary [sketchbook] was destroyed. I’ll tell you that much is true,”47 later on clarifying that the destruction took place “after James Truitt’s interviews with the National Enquirer.”48 Her statement implied that sometime between March and July of 1976, someone—or possibly a group of people—decided that the updated story to be given to the public would now include Angleton returning the sketchbook to Tony, who would then burn it in her fireplace in Anne’s presence. It appeared that Tony made the decision unilaterally, but there was never any confirmation as to how this decision was made, who exactly made it, or when it occurred. And, again, Anne Truitt never said anything about Mary’s alleged specific request that Angleton burn particular diary pages.

Finally, for some reason it has appeared that Mary’s close friend Anne Chamberlin couldn’t stand the heat. She wouldn’t actively participate in the conspiracy to conceal. It was as if something had scared her. She didn’t want any part of it, and she didn’t want her name mentioned in any subsequent account. Anne Chamberlin left Washington abruptly after Mary’s murder and fled to Maine. Twenty-five years later, in the late 1980s, she spoke to author Leo Damore, then went completely silent after Damore’s “suicide” in 1995. Chamberlin’s public, long-standing “omertà pledge” of silence has always aroused suspicion. Whatever she knew, she took with her to her death on the last day of 2011, save for what she shared with author Leo Damore, which the reader will come to know in a future chapter.

So is it to be believed that a former professional journalist like Mary Meyer would have relegated her deepest, intimate thoughts and revelations, something that was to be sacredly preserved for her children in the event of her death, to a mere artist’s sketchbook—most of it color swatches with “cryptic” scribbles “in little unused corner[s] of a page”? Is the public so gullible as to believe that this haphazard “little notebook with a pretty cover” contained everything that Mary was struggling with during the final year of her life as she tried to make sense of all the dimensions and implications of her relationship with Jack, as well as the conspiracy that had put an end to his life, and the even bigger conspiracy she found herself witnessing to “cover everything up,” as she had told Timothy Leary?49

Mary Meyer was a pensive, complex individual who had a lifelong penchant for serious reflection in written form. Having been a professional journalist for several years right after college, and having kept an extensive diary at the time of her half-sister Rosamund’s 1938 suicide as well as a chronicle of her father’s grief and mental deterioration, she had long embraced the tool of journal writing and the outlet it provided, particularly during times of crisis and duress. This earlier diary is still, in fact, in existence today.50 Moreover, during her marriage to Cord, she was well aware of her husband’s diary, and sometimes even invaded it to write comments on what he had written when she was unable to reach him any other way. Obviously, Mary knew the value of keeping a separate, special notebook for the pursuit of deeper reflection. But her artist sketchbooks were just that—sketchbooks that were clearly devoted to the details of her pursuits as a painter with a few notes to herself that she probably intended to reflect upon in more depth at a later time. Furthermore, she had confided to both Anne and Jim Truitt in 1962 that she was having an affair with the president. Before the Truitts left for Japan, she had told them that she was keeping a diary and that she wanted that diary safeguarded in the event of her demise so that her eldest son, Quentin, could read it when he turned twenty-one.51 Why would any of Mary’s closest friends believe that one of her sketchbooks, filled mostly with swatches of colors and vague, off-the-cuff thoughts and notes of her painting, would even remotely resemble a serious diary of a previously established journalist?

Jim Truitt, in turn, kept a diary-journal of his own about everything that Mary had shared with him. Curiously, Truitt’s journal and “his 30 years of carefully kept records,” according to his widow Evelyn Patterson Truitt, were stolen right after his 1981 death, an apparent suicide. In a letter Evelyn Truitt wrote to author Anthony Summers in 1983, she alleged that “ex-CIA agent Herbert Barrows,” who lived nearby, had stolen all of her husband’s “carefully kept records.”52 The missing papers, of course, included Jim Truitt’s own documentation of Mary Meyer’s affair with the president. The theft seemed once again to implicate Jim Angleton, who was fast becoming legendary for such so-called “cleanups.” Angleton had earlier absconded with the personal papers of his colleague Winston Scott, the Mexican CIA station chief, two days after Scott’s suspicious death in 1971. Significantly, Scott’s papers included classified documents, tapes, photographs, and a manuscript, most of which not only contradicted the findings of the Warren Commission, but further revealed Lee Harvey Oswald’s connections in Mexico—things that the CIA wanted nobody to know about.53

Mary’s self-possession had always been a hallmark of her character. However overwhelmed she had felt by the vast implications of what had occurred in Dallas, not only for herself, but for the world at large, her temperament and moral rectitude demanded that at the very least she attempt to make sense of it all. What better way to cope with the enormity of that task than to set aside periods of time for reflection, aided by a valuable tool she had utilized effectively in the past? Neither a recluse nor one to be intimidated by authority, Mary wanted to understand what had occurred. The sheer magnitude of Jack’s assassination had catapulted her through endless shock waves, eventually forcing her to recognize the enormity of what had occurred—not only the events in Dallas, but the subsequent cover-up taking place right before her eyes. This cover-up, in fact, is the subject of a later chapter of this book.

“They couldn’t control him any more,” she sobbed on the telephone with Timothy Leary sometime in early December 1963, just after the assassination. “He was changing too fast. They’ve covered everything up. I gotta come see you. I’m afraid. Be careful.”54Determined to understand and unravel what was taking place, she confronted what amounted to a mysterious jigsaw mosaic. The pieces had to be placed where they belonged. That process would take time, reflection, and awareness. What better way to engage the conundrum than to reclaim the exercise of journaling?

What then happened to Mary’s real diary? (Hereafter, the word “diary” refers only to Mary’s real journal/diary and not to her artist sketchbook.) The “diary as MacGuffin” in this piece of history doesn’t need any Hollywood embellishment; the story is stranger than fiction, only because it’s real. Yet no one has managed to put together the factual sequence of events that would unravel the mystery that has enshrouded this caper for nearly fifty years.

One of the most significant details in the 1976 Rosenbaum and Nobile article may have even eluded its own authors. It was this: The authors let it be known that after Jim Angleton arrived at the Bradlee house on the evening of the murder, and after he had fielded Anne Truitt’s telephone call from Japan, he later returned to Mary Meyer’s house that evening and ostensibly “rescued three kittens from the empty house.”55 If the real diary wasn’t in Mary’s studio on the night of her murder, as Bradlee and Angleton had likely investigated (given Bradlee’s testimony at the trial), Angleton knew where to look for the diary in Mary’s house, only because Anne Truitt had probably told him where to look when she reached him earlier that evening. Mary was “accustomed to leaving her diary in the bookcase in her bedroom,” Rosenbaum noted. “The diary wasn’t there after her death.”56

But why, then, was Jim Angleton again in Mary’s house the following morning, when Ben and Tony Bradlee surprised him there? If he had the diary, why go back? Perhaps Angleton wanted to be seen searching for the diary so that no one would suspect that it was already in his possession. But more likely, as the reader will come to understand, Mary’s actual diary was highly incriminating of Angleton himself and the CIA’s role in orchestrating what had occurred in Dallas. Determined to erase as much as possible from the last years of Mary Meyer’s life, Angleton wanted to take into his possession and eliminate any other documents, papers, letters, or personal effects that might further jeopardize the Warren Report and the public’s acceptance of Lee Harvey Oswald’s guilt.

In a situation such as this, the unwritten rule of any CIA undercover operation is that the fewer people in the know, the better; compartmentalization is an absolute necessity—as long as it’s maintained, and the story is kept straight. The only people who really knew what was taking place were the mastermind himself, Jim Angleton, his colleague Cord Meyer, and to one extent or another Ben Bradlee. What incriminated Bradlee, as will be further detailed later, was that he never once revealed during the trial the telephone call from his “friend”—the career high-ranking CIA official—that came “just after lunch,” less than two hours after Mary’s unidentified corpse lay sprawled on the C & O Canal towpath. Instead, he allowed the court to believe that it was only when Sergeant Sam Wallace of the D.C. police arrived at his house shortly before six that evening that he first became aware of his sister-in-law’s demise.

No one in this cesspool’s morass could ever be trusted, but it appears some part of the deceit was passed down to some of participants’ children. After Anne Truitt’s death in 2004, I talked with her daughter Alexandra in the latter part of 2005. When I introduced myself and told her of my book project, Alexandra was momentarily (and cautiously) hopeful that I might be taking a different slant from author Nina Burleigh’s. Intriguingly, she made it clear that subsequent to Mary Meyer’s death she had been “coached” that the subject of Mary’s murder was taboo.

“I’ve heard over the years that a lot of people have been threatened,” Alexandra said, after I mentioned author John H. Davis’s remark to Jimmy Smith in 1999. “That’s always been everybody’s feeling around the whole event [Mary’s murder] I’ve grown up with. You don’t talk about it because it’s dangerous.” Later during our conversation, she added, “I’m incredibly discreet. I never talk about this. I talked about it with my mom. I think I know everything she knew. But I don’t talk about it because it’s dangerous.” Alexandra became eager to know what I had discovered, but I wouldn’t divulge any information over the phone. I suggested instead we meet in New York so that we could talk privately in person. Ambivalent about that prospect, she changed the subject.

“I thought Nina Burleigh’s book was terrible,” she said. “I thought it was badly researched and embarrassingly inaccurate.” I then attempted to defend some of Burleigh’s early descriptions of the Pinchot estate, Grey Towers, and their life in Milford, Pennsylvania—if only to keep our conversation going. It was already clear Alexandra knew much more than she was letting on. “I think it’s too dangerous to talk to you, I really do,” she finally said. Our conversation ended amicably. I suggested the possibility of some follow-up through email a couple of weeks later, but was quickly rebuffed.57

What could still be “too dangerous” to talk about more than forty years after the fact? The clue, of course, was Alexandra’s comment that she had talked with her mother at some length, concluding, “I think I know everything she knew.” Anne Truitt had concealed something. Like Anne Chamberlin, I wondered, had Leo Damore’s apparent “suicide” in October 1995 immediately after the publication of Ben Bradlee’s memoir, A Good Life, frightened Alexandra from talking further?

In late 1990, author Leo Damore conducted a two-hour face-to-face recorded interview with Timothy Leary, which will be discussed in some detail in a later chapter. During the interview, he told Leary that Mary’s real diary still existed and he had discovered its whereabouts. “Angleton offered the diary in 1980 to a person who I know,” Damore told Leary. “I know where it is, and the man who I believe has it is maddeningly this week in Hawaii.”58 Damore had sometimes cryptically referred to Mary’s diary as “the Hope Diamond” of the Kennedy assassination, but he guarded the fact that he had come into possession of it and only finally shared this bit of information with his attorney at the end of March in 1993.

Meanwhile, Cord Meyer would maintain that Jim Angleton was a “very close friend of ours, and he successfully dealt with a diary that might have been embarrassing, assured that it didn’t come out. That was not done to protect state secrets or anything like that. It was done to protect a friend.”59 Again, Cord does not mention that Mary had specifically entrusted her diary to Angleton, or asked him to “burn certain pages of her diary if anything happened to her.” And which “diary” was Cord referring to? Mary’s sketchbook, or the real diary that Angleton and possibly Bradlee had stolen on the night of the murder?

Sixteen years after his ex-wife’s murder in 1980, Cord would finally reveal in his book Facing Reality who had contacted him in New York on the afternoon of Mary’s murder to tell him what had happened—again, before police had any idea of the victim’s identity. It was the same “friend” that had called Ben Bradlee “just after lunch,” a man who happened to be a close CIA colleague—a fact that Cord, too, failed to mention in his account.60

2    Cicely Angleton twice declined to be interviewed for this book. She died on September 23, 2011.

3    Anne Chamberlin died on December 31, 2011 in Sarasota, Florida.

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