William King Harvey

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William King "Bill" Harvey (September 13, 1915 – June 9, 1976) was a Central Intelligence Agency officer, best known for his role in Operation Mongoose. He was known as "America's James Bond", a tag given to him by Edward Lansdale.[1]


Harvey was born on September 13, 1915 in Cleveland, Ohio.[2] He was the son of Sara King Harvey, an English professor at Indiana State Teachers College in Terre Haute.[2] An Eagle Scout, he skipped several grades and graduated from Terre Haute's Wiley High School in 1931.

After working as a printer and reporter at the Danville Gazette (a newspaper owned by his grandfather) from 1931 to 1933, he enrolled in an accelerated program at Indiana University that encompassed two years of undergraduate studies and enabled him to complete an honors LL.B. from the University's School of Law in 1937.

He married Libby McIntire, the daughter of a lawyer from Maysville, Kentucky, but the marriage ended in divorce in 1954. Immediately thereafter, he was remarried to Clara Grace "CG" Follock, a former CIA personnel officer who was the first woman to attain the rank of major in the United States Army. From 1960 to 1969, Harvey and his family (including a son from his first marriage and a daughter adopted by Harvey and Follock during his German assignment) were domiciled in Chevy Chase Village, Maryland.[3]


Harvey joined the Federal Bureau of Investigation in December 1940 and enjoyed a distinguished career (specializing in German and Soviet counterintelligence) throughout World War II and its immediate aftermath. In July 1947, he broke a regulation on being available on two-hour call due to sleeping off heavy drinking at a party the night before. He refused the resulting demotion and reassignment to Indianapolis, Indiana, preferring to resign. He joined the CIA shortly thereafter.

As he plotted to reduce the FBI's overseas powers, his knowledge of the Bureau proved to be invaluable. Along with James Angleton, he became one of the foremost operatives in the secret war against the KGB during the Cold War. According to journalist David Martin, Harvey swiftly gained a reputation for consuming more alcohol than any other person in the United States government; however, no one ever saw him drunk during this period.[1]

Harvey's CIA career began with his founding of Staff D, the electronic surveillance branch of the Clandestine Service Division.[1] In 1951 Harvey's investigation of the career history of Kim Philby, noting suspicious coincidences that suggested he had long been a Soviet agent, saw the CIA demand that Philby be kept out of his position as MI6 liaison; Philby was fired. Six months earlier, Harvey had got into a fight with Guy Burgess at a party after Burgess had drunkenly drawn a lewd cartoon of Harvey's wife.[4]

From 1952 to 1960, Harvey was posted to West Berlin as chief of base, where he led the operation that built an underground tunnel to the Soviet sector to spy on their communication channels. This operation was called PBJOINTLY.[1] On his return to CIA headquarters, Harvey was tasked with a project to organize "executive actions" (a euphemism for the assassination of foreign political leaders) under the codename ZR/RIFLE.[1] To vanquish Fidel Castro, Harvey decided he needed to employ the resources of the American Mafia. He drew on the connections of CIA agent Robert Maheu, who had cultivated relationships with Sam Giancana, Santo Trafficante Jr., Johnny Roselli and other figures.[1] Finding Maheu's operation chaotic, Harvey cut everyone but Roselli out, and ran the operations against Castro himself.[1]

Harvey was also involved in Operation Mongoose, a CIA operation run from Miami, Florida that ran various attempts to undermine or overthrow the Cuban Revolution.[5] At the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962, Harvey sent ten intelligence operatives into Cuba to gather intelligence and prepare for an invasion Harvey thought inevitable.

The unauthorized operation tarnished Harvey's reputation. Although he was eventually assigned to Rome as station chief in 1963 following a punitive administrative post at CIA headquarters, he failed to acclimate to the milieu and was denied a high-profile assignment in the Laotian Civil War by Richard Helms.[1] Notably, Harvey recommended Colonel Renzo Rocca, chief of the Italian military intelligence Division R, as liaison for building up the Italian component of Operation Gladio in 1964.[6] However, his drinking and health deteriorated, and he was ultimately relieved.[1]

Although Harvey briefly headed a CIA headquarters unit on possible countermeasures to electronic surveillance, he took an extended leave of absence (largely precipitated by his alcohol use disorder and the concurrent fallout from his relationship with Roselli, who had been convicted in an elaborate card-cheating case) throughout much of 1967. He formally retired from the CIA in January 1968. Following a brief law practice in Washington, D.C., Harvey and his family relocated to Indianapolis amid fears of ongoing surveillance in 1969. During this period, he curtailed his alcohol use and edited legal decisions for the Bobbs-Merrill Company.[1]

In 1975, he testified before the Church Committee on some of the CIA's past operations.[1]

Harvey died in Indianapolis on June 9, 1976 from a heart attack, at 60 years of age.[2]

Allegations of involvement in the assassination of John F. Kennedy[edit]

After the death of former CIA agent and Watergate figure E. Howard Hunt in 2007, Saint John Hunt and David Hunt revealed that their father had recorded several claims about himself and others being involved in a conspiracy to assassinate John F. Kennedy.[7][8] In the April 5, 2007 issue of Rolling Stone, Saint John Hunt detailed a number of individuals implicated by his father, including Harvey, Lyndon B. Johnson, Cord Meyer, David Sánchez Morales, David Atlee Phillips, Frank Sturgis, and an assassin he termed "French gunman grassy knoll", who many presume was Lucien Sarti.[8][9] The two sons alleged that their father excised the information from his memoirs, "American Spy: My Secret History in the CIA, Watergate and Beyond", to avoid possible perjury charges.[7] Hunt's widow and other children told the Los Angeles Times that the two sons took advantage of Hunt's loss of lucidity by coaching and exploiting him for financial gain. The newspaper said it examined the materials offered by the sons to support the story and found them to be "inconclusive."[7]

An April 2018 release of federal documents related to the assassination included a file concerning Private First Class Eugene Dinkin, a cryptographic code operator stationed in Metz, France in November 1963. Three weeks before the assassination, he intercepted and decoded two messages concerning the planned event. The messages contained three names connected to the assassination conspiracy: William Harvey, Jean Souetre, and Guy Banister.[10] Harvey was then Rome station chief. Longtime CIA operative Gerry Patrick Hemming, through his association with Cuban exile groups, was privy to rumors of a super-secret assassination team based in the Florida Keys under ultimate direction from William Harvey. Jean Souetre was a French paramilitary operative with the security service SDECE, who traveled to Washington to meet with James Jesus Angleton, officially for coordinating counterintelligence operations, before arriving in Dallas on November 22. Banister was a CIA contract operative based in New Orleans, mainly concerned with surveillance but also speculated to be a "bag man" for covert operations. Dinkin's efforts to relay his information outside of his chain of command led to his arrest and confinement at the Walter Reed Army Hospital through the first half of 1964. He was not consulted by the Warren Commission.

Further reading[edit]


  • Bayard Stockton (2006). Flawed Patriot: The Rise and Fall of CIA Legend Bill Harvey. Dulles: Potomac Books.

In fiction[edit]

  • Norman Mailer (1992). Harlot's Ghost: A Novel. New York: Random House.
  • Robert Littell (2003). The Company. New York: Penquim Books. In this novel chock full of portrayals of real people, Harvey is one of the few not portrayed under his real name - but he is clearly the basis of the thinly disguised character "Harvey Torriti, a.k.a. the Sorcerer".


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k David C. Martin, Washington Post, 10 October 1976, The CIA's 'Loaded Gun'
  2. ^ a b c McCormick, Mike (April 28, 2007). "HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE: America's James Bond: The new biography of William King Harvey". Tribune-Star. Terre Haute, Indiana. Retrieved March 7, 2013.
  3. ^ Flawed Patriot, p99
  4. ^ Flawed Patriot, p29-31
  5. ^ Jack Anderson (1971-01-18). "6 Attempts to Kill Castro Laid to CIA". The Washington Post.
  6. ^ Tunander, Ola, Democratic State vs. Deep State: Approaching the Dual State of the West. Peace Research Institute Oslo, 2008
  7. ^ a b c Williams, Carol J. (March 20, 2007). "Watergate plotter may have a last tale". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles. Retrieved December 30, 2012.
  8. ^ a b Hedegaard, Erik (April 5, 2007). "The Last Confessions of E. Howard Hunt". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on June 18, 2008. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  9. ^ McAdams, John (2011). "Too Much Evidence of Conspiracy". JFK Assassination Logic: How to Think About Claims of Conspiracy. Washington, D.C.: Potomac Books. p. 189. ISBN 9781597974899. Retrieved December 30, 2012.
  10. ^ Kroth, Jerry. "Two U.S. Soldiers Overheard JFK Assassination Plans". Information Clearing House. Retrieved July 24, 2018.

External links[edit]