For years, authors, a district attorney, researchers, politicians and peripheral JFK assassination suspects have discussed, known and hinted at the mystery of Gordon Novel of Garrison, Delorean and Watergate infamy. Some have even accused him of being the Umbrella Man in Dealey Plaza.
In 1967, Jim Garrison was approached by a young electronics expert who had information on questionable Cuban exile happenings and David Ferrie. The information given to Garrison led the out-spoken DA to believe this young man, Gordon Novel, would be his key witness in the case he was struggling to make in New Orleans in regards to the JFK Assassination.
Yet Garrison’s belief soon waivered.
Garrison’s staff found that Novel was in Dallas weeks before the assassination and after. A loud-mouthed Dallas John Birch Society leader and suggested Minuteman member, Earl Lively reported that in 1963 he was approached by Novel and Larrie Schmidt to contribute to an anti-Castro group on behalf of someone named “Jose” who was blackballed by some of the Cuban groups for his betrayal of them during the Bay of Pigs. Novel and Schmidt told Lively they were from Miami. Novel worked with the Cuban Revolutionary Front during the Bay of Pigs operation via the CIA proprietary, the Evergreen Advertising Agency.[i]
As Garrison’s investigation progressed, Novel, by then a self-professed quadruple agent, must have gotten cold feet for he left his apartment on Exchange Place in New Orleans and fled to Ohio. In checking his apartment, Garrison’s staff found a letter hidden by Novel and addressed to a Mr. Weiss. Novel was obviously quite alarmed and threatening the disclosure of CIA activities in relation to the Miami corporation Double-Chek if someone didn’t help him. Double-Chek was a known CIA front. The Governor of Louisiana, John McKeithen pled with the Ohio Governor, James Rhodes to have Novel extradited. Governor Rhodes refused.[ii]
Later, Novel sued Playboy magazine for its interview with Jim Garrison claiming Novel worked with the CIA. The lawsuit backfired as the case was thrown out due to lack of credibility. The judge determined Novel indeed worked for the CIA and in fact was in direct contact with Allen Dulles during the Garrison probe. Lisa Pease has written an excellent article about Novel’s deposition in the Playboy case and published in the July-August 1990 issue of PROBE[iii] In it she gleaned this information:
We have learned from this deposition such bombshells as the fact that Novel was in direct contact with Allen Dulles during the period in which he was working to undermine Garrison. We learned that Guy Banister and Sergio Arcacha Smith worked under David Atlee Phillips in anti-Castro propaganda campaigns and that Phillips had been to Banister’s office. We learned that the Houma raid, [iv]in which Novel, Banister, Smith, David Ferrie, Layton Martens and others were involved, was a raid to obtain weapons destined for the Bay of Pigs operation.
So how does Double-Chek figure into this? Curiously, when Novel began to explain his version of the Jim Garrison investigation he hired Columbus attorney Jerry Weiner. Weiner advised Novel not to talk about his life in early 1961, nor what he was doing during the Bay of Pigs Crisis (besides stealing munitions in Houma).
There may be an answer in this article[v] by writers David Wise and Thomas B. Ross. It has to do with the checks sent to the widows of four American CIA pilots who were killed during the Bay of Pigs debacle: Thomas Willard Ray, Leo Francis Baker, Riley W. Shamburger, Jr. and Wade Carroll Gray. Every two weeks, a check for $245.00 was sent to each of the widows written from a business called Double-Chek. Records indicate that Double-Chek was a CIA front led by attorney Alex E. Carlson, 145 Curtiss Parkway, Miami Springs, FLA. This just happened to also be the address of Carlson’s law practice. Wise and Ross found that in 1960, after being given the green light by President Eisenhower to organize Cuban Exiles, the CIA sought American Pilots to serve as flight instructors. With Carlson’s pedigree of law, a degree in Spanish and experience flying B-26’s during World War II, he was the perfect choice. The Cuban Exiles would be flying B-26’s many donated by the likes of rich business men like D. Harold Byrd. To find men to train the Cuban Exiles, the CIA enlisted the aid of the Air National Guard in Virginia, Alabama and Arkansas, “the last state units to fly the obsolescent B-26.”[vi]
The four pilots took off from Nicaragua and were promised Naval air support. There was a mix up in timing and the four pilots, two to a plane arrived after Naval support had returned. Their planes were shot down. Radio Havana boasted, “We give you official government communique #3. The participation of the United States in the aggression against Cuba was dramatically proved this morning when our antiaircraft batteries brought down a U.S. military plane piloted by a U.S. airman, who was bombing the civilian population and our Infantry forces in the area of the Australia Central (a sugar mill).” The radio report then named the captured man’s body as that of “Leo Francis Bell” the CIA name given to Leo Francis Baker.[vii] Carlson of Double-Chek, later gave a press conference stating that these men were employed by him to fly cargo monthly for an organization that didn’t want to be identified but was strongly believed to be run by Cuban Exiles. Carlson’s words upset the widows whose husbands were now viewed as mercenaries instead of the war veterans they were. Carlson later reported that these men were in no way affiliated with the Democratic Revolutionary Front, the main exile group at the time. Carlson’s partner in Double-Chek, Raymond Cox, said the company was initially formed to buy a race horse. He knew nothing about fliers. Carlson later commented that Cox’s comment about the race horse was “just a bit of jazz.”
Since Gordon Novel bragged about his experiences in horse racing, could he also have something to do with Double-Chek? Did he know Raymond Cox or Alex Carlson? The investigation continues with thanks to Harold Weisberg, Lisa Pease, John Simkin and other writers who have sought to find the truth.
Nota Bene: There is a strange interview from 2006 with Gordon Novel you can find here.
[i] John Simkin