James DiEugenio, review of Larry Hancock's Someone Would Have Talked
I said that by 1975 Martino's information was pretty well known to serious investigators. But really, as Hancock relates it, it was known earlier than that. For by the end of 1968, all of the points -- except as noted -- were working axioms of the New Orleans investigation by DA Jim Garrison. To use just one investigator's testimony, researcher Gary Schoener has said that Garrison was "obsessed" with the Cuban exile group Alpha 66. At one time, he thought they were the main sponsoring group manipulating Oswald, and that they had pulled off the actual assassination.
One avenue by which Garrison was led to believe this was through Nagell. And one thing I liked about the book was that it summarized a lot of Nagell's testimony in more complete, concise and digestible terms than previously presented (see pgs. 39-58). In the first edition of Dick Russell's book, The Man Who Knew Too Much, Nagell's story wandered and got lost in a 900-page mountain consisting of much extraneous and tangential elements. Although Hancock leaves out some rather important details -- which I will mention later -- he does a nice job in distilling and relating its basic outlines. Between the two, because of who he was, his first person testimony, and some evidence he had, I believe Nagell's story easily has more evidentiary value.
Consider: Nagell actually tried to inform the authorities in advance. When they did not respond, he got himself arrested. He was then railroaded -- along with Secret Service agent Abraham Bolden -- because of his attempt to talk. He then wrote letters describing his knowledge to friends while incarcerated (see Probe Vol. 3 No. 1). He then revealed to Garrison assistant William Martin his specific knowledge of two of the Cuban exiles who were manipulating Oswald. One he named as Sergio Arcacha Smith. The other who he only hinted at had a last name beginning with "Q". This could be Carlos Quiroga, or Rafael 'Chi Chi' Quintero. Since Smith and Quiroga were known associates in New Orleans, I lean toward Quiroga. Nagell actually revealed that he had recorded their incriminating talks with Oswald on tape. Since he -- as well as Garrison -- did not know that Martin was a double agent, it is not surprising that the FBI later broke into his belongings and absconded with the tape, among other things. (Strangely, or as we shall see later, perhaps not, Hancock leaves this intriguing episode out of his book.)
Now since Garrison was the first law enforcement authority Nagell confided in directly, and the first person to take him seriously, the DA was clearly interested in the Cuban exile aspect. Especially since Nagell's information was being reinforced to him from multiple angles. For instance, David Ferrie's close friend Raymond Broshears was also quite specific with Garrison as to the importance of Sergio Arcacha Smith. And when Garrison tried to get Smith extradited from Texas, the local authorities, under the influence of Bill Alexander and Hugh Aynesworth, refused to cooperate. (It is puzzling to me that Hancock, who is so interested in the Cuban groups, seems to try to minimize the importance of Smith.)
One thing Hancock makes clear is how Nagell originally got involved in the JFK case. Like many foreign intelligence operatives, one of Nagell's ports of call was Mexico City. As certified by his friend Arthur Greenstein and an FBI memorandum, Nagell was there in the fall of 1962. And at this time, he began acting as a triple agent: "He represented himself to a Soviet contact as a pro-Soviet double agent, while secretly retaining his loyalty to the United States." (p. 54) It was in this pose that he became known to the KGB. When they approached Nagell they asked him to monitor a Soviet defector and his wife. The second mission they had was to infiltrate a group of Cuban exiles. The Russians had discovered a group of them in Mexico City making threats against President Kennedy for his actions at the Bay of Pigs. The Russians had garnered that part of the scheme was to blame the plot on the Cubans and Russians. This is something that, in the wake of the Missile Crisis, the Russians were desperate to avoid. From here, Hancock summarizes the stories of both Vaughn Snipes and Garret Trapnell, people Nagell suspected as being considered as pro-Castro patsies by the Cuban group (pgs 56-58). And it was this trail that eventually led Nagell to New Orleans and Oswald.