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  • Writer's pictureFred Litwin

"JFK: Destiny Betrayed" Misleads on David Ferrie and the CIA

Updated: Jan 7

Screen shot from JFK: Destiny Betrayed

Oliver Stone's so-called documentary series, JFK: Destiny Betrayed, erroneously claims that David Ferrie flew missions for the CIA. Here is an excerpt from a transcript: (10:14 of episode 4)

Whoopi Goldberg: In the spring of 1963, Oswald moved from Dallas back to his home town of New Orleans, where he began associating with men who, it would be revealed, had clear connections with these government efforts. One of these men, David Ferrie, had been with Oswald in the Civil Air Patrol back in 1955, and was known as an extreme anti-communist. He was also a trainer and a pilot for the CIA in its secret war against Cuba. Oswald was involved with these Cuban exile training activities with Ferrie.

While it is true that Oswald, for a very brief period, was in the Civil Air Patrol at the same time as David Ferrie, there is little evidence that they knew each other.

Here is a blog post that covers this supposed relationship.

And David Ferrie was not a trainer for the CIA and he was not a pilot for them either.

James DiEugenio inferred from a December 1967 statement of Mr. Herbert Wagner, a man who had helped David Ferrie with his finances, that Ferrie was involved in Operation Mongoose.

I have already blogged about this here.

Ferrie also bragged to Wagner about some of his activities.

Here is an excerpt of the Garrison memo:

The Wagner memo above references an Operation Mosquito, which DiEugenio believes is really Operation Mongoose: (page 115 in Destiny Betrayed)

When Operation Mongoose began, Ferrie let it slip that he was part of "Operation Mosquito." Clearly a miscommunication, Ferrie meant Mongoose.

But Wagner definitely heard 'mosquito' - he even made a joke about it. Furthermore, Operation Mongoose took place in 1962 which is after David Ferrie left his Cuban activities to focus on his problems with Eastern Airlines, and his legal problems regarding a morals charge. As mentioned above, Ferrie was ostracized by the Cubans after his August 1961 morals arrest.

New Orleans Times-Picayune, August 26, 1961

Another source for the allegations about David Ferrie was Eladio del Valle. Here is what DiEugenio wrote in Destiny Betrayed: (page 85)

Ferrie developed an obsession for the regime of Fidel Castro. This led him to become more intertwined with the Agency and its underground Cuban exile community in New Orleans. He bombed targets inside of Cuba at the request of former Cuban Congressman Eladio del Valle. Del Valle was linked to the CIA, Santo Trafficante, and Senator George Smathers.

The source for the del Valle claim? None other than the National Enquirer.

An article in the National Enquirer from April 1967 claimed that David Ferrie flew "scores of missions" with del Valle to drop bombs on Cuba.

The author, Diego Gonzalez Tendedera, claimed to have inside information about Eladio del Valle:

There is no evidence to support any of this.

It is doubtful that he flew to Cuba. Ferrie was asked about flying to Cuba in his first interview with the D,A.'s office on December 15, 1966:

Here is what Stephen Roy (aka Blackburst), the expert on the life of David Ferrie, wrote on an internet forum about Ferrie flying to Cuba:

"I have spent many years examining the life of David Ferrie and his role in the New Orleans milieu. I have conducted numerous interviews with primary sources and obtained or read many thousands of pages of documents relating to these matters.
Ferrie's period of activity with the Cubans was very brief, beginning in late 1960 and abruptly ending in the fall of 1961 after his morals arrests. Throughout most of this period, his whereabouts are established by his employment and other records. He had very little opportunity to fly any missions."

Roy also added:

"Having looked very closely into the career of David Ferrie, while I cannot rule out the possibility that he may have made such flights at some juncture, I make the following observations:
1) Prior to September 1961, Ferrie was flying for Eastern Air Lines three times a week from New Orleans to Houston and other Texas cities, including two overnighters. There would not have been a great deal of opportunity for him to have made such flights from Florida. (And the flight log on his Stinson contains no indication of any such flights.)
2) Prior to April 1961, Ferrie was not fully accepted as an active participant by the anti-Castro Cubans.
3) After his August 1961 morals arrests, Ferrie was soon ostracized by the Cubans. Further, his Stinson soon entered a long period of inactivity.
Ferrie denied ever going to Cuba. However, he did tell a friend about one sojourn into Cuba in August 1960, which he said was for the CIA. He said he was wounded in the process, but his friends doubted this.
So the assertion that Ferrie made "flights" or extensive flights into Cuba is not strongly supported by the evidence."

The friend that Stephen Roy refers to is Al Cheramie who was also a member of CAP. Ramparts writer Bill Turner told Stephen Burton that Al Cheramie could provide more information about Ferrie's "Cuban adventures." Here is an excerpt of a memo that Stephen Burton sent to Jim Garrison:

Here is a transcription:

"I began by reading CHERAMIE the lead TURNER gave me. He said that the reference to FERRIE's gunshot wound was correct only in that FERRIE said that it was a gunshot wound. He saw FERRIE when he returned from Miami when FERRIE said he had been shot while flying for CASTRO in Cuba. However, Cheramie said that the scar looked like a burn. It was in the chest o the extreme right side but had no exit wound. He added that FERRIE was prone to making such false statements."

Another friend of David Ferrie's, Al Landry, told a similar story:

Landry was a fifteen year old kid when this supposedly happened. David Ferrie wanted a relationship with Landry and as Al Cheramie remarked, liked to make up stories. There is no evidence in the autopsy report of such a wound, nor do pictures of Ferrie on his death bed show such a scar.

Stephen Roy writes in his unpublished manuscript, Perfect Villain: David Ferrie and the JFK Mystery:

While the sources on Ferrie's anti-Castro activities from, at the earliest, summer 1959 to about October 1961 are many, detailed, mutually corroborative and reliable, there are no reliable sources for significant anti-Castro activities on his part after October 1961. This is an important point missed in most studies of Ferrie's life and career. The single thread of Al Landry's runaway, pulled by New Orleans area police, led to the virtual collapse of Ferrie's life: his job, his Falcon [CAP] group, his position in the anti-Castro group and his standing in the community. While he would have loved to have continued on in the fight against Castro, nobody would have him. What scattered reports there are of anti-Castro activities by Ferrie in 1962 and 1963, such as running training camps, all come from sources of questionable reliability and are impossible to corroborate. Ferrie had other battles to fight.

There is no evidence that David Ferrie worked for the CIA and no evidence that he flew missions for them. There is also no evidence that he was involved with any anti-Castro Cuban training activities with Lee Harvey Oswald.


Here is a memo about Ferrie and his relationship to the CIA:

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