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The JFK Case; the Office that Spied on its Own Spies

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Dillinger testified that she was the assistant chief on Soviet affairs in Mexico City, and that their joint duties were counter-espionage and field investigations on the Soviets. Dellinger had taking care of children at home and was only working part-time. Her main job was to review the telephone tap transcripts every day.

Gestetner and Dillinger were married and reviewed these transcripts as a team. These agents took the name game right to the halls of Congress. When interviewed at Capitol Hill, they changed their names just slightly from "Gerald F. Gestetner" to "Herbert Gestetner", and from "L.A. Dillinger" to "Barbara Dillenger" using their old counter-espionage trick to make it more difficult for ordinary people to keep track of them in the dawning era of public access to computers.

LCIMPROVE documents also focus on when Oswald was trying to get a Soviet visa prior to his 1959 defection

A second set of documents focus on Oswald's defection to the Soviet Union in October 1959. Several LCIMPROVE documents are dated near the time and place of Oswald's border crossing from Helsinki to the Soviet Union. The Soviet consul and the American vice consul had just confirmed an agreement where an American could get an instant visa to the USSR in minutes in Helsinki if he "looked all right".

This was a sea change from having to wait indefinitely while the documents were mailed to Moscow for approval. Oswald was on leave from the US Marines at the time, and any such approval would have been virtually impossible to obtain.

It's documented that counter-espionage LCIMPROVE activities go back at least as far back as at a memo written on June 7, 1956, looking at Soviet consul Gregory Golub as someone who "professes sympathy for the United States". LCIMPROVE may have originated in response to the West publishing Khrushchev's famous call for the "de-Stalinization" of the Soviet Union three days earlier.


The subject line of the 6/7/56 memo was "REDCAP/LCIMPROVE". For several years, a program known as "REDSOX sought to parachute agents into the satellite countries to foment rebellion, while REDCAP was intended to handle the results of such efforts, including the expected deluge of defectors and refugees." Angleton obtained a copy of Khrushchev's secret anti-Stalin speech in April and planned on using isolated portions of it for propaganda purposes. After the copy of the speech was reviewed and declared to be authentic, CIA chief Allen Dulles decided to use this opportunity to intensify REDSOX and REDCAP.

Although we don't know what the "LC" phrase in LCIMPROVE stands for, the term LCFLUTTER is well-known as a CIA cryptonym for a truth-finding technique, such as polygraphs and truth serum. In the counter-intelligence realm, LCIMPROVE appears to be a technique for improving counter-intelligence operations directed at the Soviets, and it seems to be focused on visas and other travel-oriented events such as REDCAP.

After Allen Dulles provided the full text of Khrushchev's speech to his brother Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, the New York Times picked it up and published the speech on June 4. Significant uprisings resulted in both Poland and Hungary in the next few months.

On August 28, 1959, the Helsinki CIA chief of station wrote a REDCAP/LCIMPROVE memo to David Murphy (CIA chief for Soviet Russia) and Eric Timm (CIA chief for Western Europe), telling them that Soviet consul Gregory Golub would issue visas immediately and without Moscow approval. Murphy later wrote a book where he described REDCAP as a "worldwide defector inducement" program.

"First priority went to efforts to recruit Soviets as sources or, as the Redcap sloganeers put it, to encourage them to "defect in place". Failing that, those who insisted on defecting outright would be brought to the West, where their intelligence knowledge could be tapped."

The Helsinki CIA station had been working on Golub for awhile, hoping that he might be a possible defector. Soviet consul Golub was very attracted to two female students taking notes for the CIA in a "legal travelers" program known as REDSKIN. American vice consul William Costille was an officer specializing in REDSKIN-style operations. During July 1959, seemingly estranged from his wife, Golub turned on the charm towards two women known to us only as PAWNEE/3 and PAWNEE/5.

An internal CIA memo shows that the station agents in Helsinki were fascinated, as well as concerned that the agency should help PAWNEE/5 "avoid any pitfalls or traps which she might walk into either wittingly or unwittingly. It is hard to decide from this whether G. just has a case of plain old hot pants or is entertaining more sinister plans or schemes."

By August 14, "arrangements (were) made for a night on the town this Saturday with Costille and date and Golub and a trusted Finnish girl we are certain will give Golub a run for his money."

It seems that providing Golub with female companionship during the summer sweetened him up. The focus of the August 28 REDCAP/LCIMPROVE memo was that "as long as the Americans had made travel arrangements through a local travel bureau (in Helsinki), as well as hotel reservations, (Golub) said he had no objections to giving them a visa in a matter of minutes."

Take a look at the Helsinki CIA chief of station's October 9 memo to two other CIA division chiefs, David Murphy of Soviet Russia and Eric Timm of Western Europe, written one day before Oswald came to Helsinki in hopes of a quick border crossing into the Soviet Union. As can be seen, the subject line was entitled REDCAP/(Redacted), the usual heading for much of their correspondence.

As REDCAP was designed to stir up unrest among emigres, it was far more successful in the Eastern European satellite states than in the USSR. An inspector general's report issued in June 1956 stated that "the Soviet division could not produce "an authoritative statement of its missions and functions". The report stated there were only twenty "controlled agents' in the USSR the list contained a low-ranking naval engineering officer, the wife of a guided missile research scientist, laborer, telephone repairman, garage manager, veterinarian, high school teacher, locksmith, restaurant worker, and unemployed. These were not the people that could tell you much what was going on in the Soviet Union except in their neck of the woods, much less the Kremlin.

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Bill Simpich is a civil rights attorney and an antiwar activist in the San Francisco Bay Area.
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