- This article is about the former CIA officer. For the Scottish actor, see John Paisley (actor).
John Arthur Paisley (August 25, 1923 – September 24, 1978) was an employee of the Central Intelligence Agency and has been linked in later years to both the John F. Kennedy assassination and the Watergate scandal.
In 1971 while he was Director of the CIA's Office of Security he became the CIA liaison to the White House Special Investigations Unit, commonly known as the "Plumbers". Paisley's continued interaction with the Plumbers is supported by White House memoranda. Despite these facts the Senate Watergate Committee did not follow up on the CIA connection further.
Paisley's link with the Kennedy assassination did not come about until the time of his death. On September 24, 1978, Paisley took his 31-foot sloop Brillig for a sail on Chesapeake Bay. He had radioed in requesting that lights at the dock be left on so he could return later in the evening. His boat never arrived. The next day the boat, containing Paisley's personal effects including an attaché case filled with classified documents, was recovered by the Coast Guard. They notified the OS who took possession of the documents. Paisley had retired from the CIA in 1974, the fact he had such documents later led the New York Times to do its own investigation and conclude the retirement was a sham and the CIA was misrepresenting Paisley as a low-level analyst when in fact he was involved in numerous high-level clandestine operations.
Several days later Paisley's body was found floating in the bay. The body had a single gunshot wound to the left side of the head and had been strapped and weighed down with diving weights. Eventually the death would be deemed a suicide.
At the time of his death the House Select Committee on Assassinations was hearing testimony on the defection of Yuri Nosenko. Nosenko claimed he had personally evaluated Lee Harvey Oswald for service in the KGB.