Excerpt From Bijan C. Bayne’s Upcoming Novel “Blackout”


For the termination, the Technical Services Staff of the CIA, run by Dr. Sidney Gottlieb, can recommend any number of drugs which could be discreetly and fatally slipped into the food or drink of a target. Jeppsen made a note to himself to acquire a recommendation, complete with pro’s, con’s, time of effect, and suggested means of administering. Though the notes were more important than anything, it is more difficult to stage a suicide than a murder. Because of that, Jeppsen needed a patsy, a probable suspect close to the target. That person would have to be followed, photographed, their routine movements reported, by a radio team alternating shifts. That team would help decide, based on the patsy’s routine, when and how to carry out the operation. Murder and magic shared diversion in common.

Jeppsen could work with a cut-out, a contractor, usually ex-FBI, former CIA or both, who specialized in carrying out the company’s domestic sabotage and liquidations. The most skilled of these highly paid men often gather at the home of the head of a contract company, at his Sleepy Hollow, Virginia home, to watch Notre Dame football games on Saturdays, and enjoy barbecues and clambakes. Jeppsen had heard several of them were Catholics, and old FBI buddies. The company calls their work “extraordinary rendition”. Jeppsen hated to use a cut-out for Operation Blackout, because that clique padded their expenses to support their split-level suburban homes, and their colorful Corvettes or Mustangs. He was just as good as they were. He’d have to think about the disadvantages. One immediately comes to mind. They would tell him how to do his job. Oh, and this is a national security matter. They would know too much.


Howard Rothberg picked her up one night in mid-August, after what he understood, from Dorothy, was “some kind of meeting.” She was toting a heavy sheath of papers inside the cover of the LIFE magazine issue that featured Lee Harvey Oswald on the cover, hefting the Mannlicher-Carcano with which he was alleged to have shot the President. Howard relieved her of the package as they left his car and headed toward a restaurant. “What are all these papers?” Howard asked.

She said matter-of-factly: “Oh, it’s just the Warren Commission Report.” That’s Dorothy. For her, the fantastic is routine, and the routine- the shows, the stars, the renown- would be fantastic to most anyone else.


Kennedy inherited that pile of cinders. Initially Kennedy, a former employee of the Office of Naval Intelligence, was enraptured by the CIA, its impressive gadgets, code names and romantic secrecy. Kennedy was a fan of Ian Fleming’s 007 novels, it was his readership that catapulted the thrillers to best seller status in the States. The Bay of Pigs fiasco of 1961, and the faulty intelligence the CIA had provided him regarding its chances of success in overthrowing Castro, soured him on Dulles’ shop. He came to wish he had appointed his brother Bobby to a CIA post rather than as Attorney General, and confided to a staffer he would like to “splinter the CIA in a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds.” After The Bay of Pigs debacle, Kennedy fired Dulles, his Deputy Director Richard Bissell, and their cohort Charles Cabell. Air Force General Charles Cabell was a Dallas native, grandson of a Confederate general. His brother Earle was mayor of Dallas.

On June 28, 1961, Kennedy issued National Security Act Memoranda 55 and 57, placing CIA covert military authority back under the auspices of the Pentagon and the Joint Chiefs. Finally, he drastically cut the agency’s budgets in both 1962 and 1963. Had he lived to serve out a second term, their funding would have been cut by 20 percent next year. What America did not know, was before Dulles was dismissed, he planned Operation Northwoods, in which innocent citizens would be shot on U.S. streets, planes hijacked, boats carrying Cuban refugees sunk, and bombs exploded from New York City to Miami, all to set pretense for a preemptive nuclear strike on the Soviet Union in late 1963. Dulles was gone by late 1963, and Kennedy was dead. The day of his murder, CIA Director John McCone visited Bobby Kennedy in McLean, Va. Bobby asked him if the agency had killed his brother.

John Kennedy had known Allen Dulles since 1954. When the freshman senator was in Palm Beach recovering from back surgery, his neighbors Charles and Jayne Wrightsman were hosting Dulles in their swank Spanish style estate. Wrightsman is an oil man, his wife a former swimsuit model 26 years his junior. Jayne is an art collector, who supervised Jackie Kennedy’s renovation of the White House. But as president, Kennedy came to view Dulles and his brother, the former Secretary of State, as men whom time had passed by, and whose views on U.S policy in Asia and Africa actually fed into Russian hands. Kennedy had first visited Vietnam as a congressman in 1951, had learned from diplomats and other French expatriates how scholarly and well respected former Boston student Ho Chi Minh was, and was told the French would never win there, nor would Minh concede. On the Senate floor in 1954, the year Kennedy first met Dulles, he called President Eisenhower’s support of the French war a poor use of money, “dangerously futile and self-destructive.” In late November of 1961, Dulles was fired, and presented with the National Security Medal by JFK at a ceremony in the company’s glossy new headquarters. Dulles had invited the heads of G.E., Ford, DuPont, Coca-Cola, G.M., Chase Manhattan, U.S. Steel, Standard Oil, IBM, CBS, and Time-Life to the proceedings.

Kennedy asked his confidant Arthur Schlesinger, Jr to put together a report about how to best re-organize the CIA. Schlesinger confirmed to Kennedy he was the man for the job, having worked for the OSS, and consulted the CIA. Schlesinger was still attending the same Washington dinner parties as CIA men Cord Meyer and Richard Helms.

The CIA ran a front known as the Congress for Cultural Freedom. Through generous company funding, this operation helped shape American opinion and taste. Funding went to arts projects, literary and political magazines like Encounter and Paris Review, and other humanities endeavors. It was through this shadow venture that Arthur Schlesinger, George Plimpton, Mark Rothko, Mary McCarthy, Robert Lowell, Isaiah Berlin and others came to influence our culture. Now the president was asking Schlesinger’s advice on dismantling the CIA. The scholar recommended the agency report all plans to a Joint Intelligence Board made up of White House and State Department staff. He also wrote the CIA should be split into two organizations, one covert, the other responsible for collection and analysis. Hearing this, Bobby Kennedy, told his brother they should hold off on such drastic changes until Dulles’ successor could be named.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s