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Monday, 1 December 2008

John Profumo, Bobby Baker and JFK

In the early 1960s the KGB was involved in a “honey trap” operation involving politicians based in London and Washington. This operation was identified by the intelligence agencies in both countries. However, instead of breaking up the operation, the intelligence agencies decided to use this information in order to manipulate these politicians.

In Washington the KGB had infiltrated the LBJ operation at the Quorum Club. This was a private club in the Carroll Arms Hotel on Capitol Hill that had been established by Bobby Baker. As Baker pointed out in Wheeling and Dealing its "membership was comprised of senators, congressmen, lobbyists, Capitol Hill staffers, and other well-connecteds who wanted to enjoy their drinks, meals, poker games, and shared secrets in private accommodations". Baker also held parties at a home that he had purchased for his mistress, Nancy Carole Tyler.

The idea behind this scam was that LBJ could obtain information about these people that he could blackmail into doing as he wanted. LBJ also did a deal with J. Edgar Hoover that involved the sharing of information about these politicians.

Baker used several prostitutes that originally came from communist countries. This included Ellen Rometsch, Maria Novotny and Suzy Chang. Of course, once these politicians became involved with such women, LBJ could apply more pressure by suggesting that they were KGB agents.

In 1961 Bill Thompson, a close friend of John Kennedy, met with Bobby Baker. According to Anthony Summers (Official and Confidential: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover) Thompson asked Baker if he would arrange a meeting between Rometsch and Kennedy. Baker later said that: "He (Kennedy) sent back word it was the best time he ever had in his life. That was not the only time. She saw him on other occasions. It went on for a while."

The honey trap operation in London was being run by Stephen Ward. He was also using Ellen Rometsch, Maria Novotny and Suzy Chang in his operation. One of the politicians who got caught in this trap was John Profumo, the Secretary of State for War. Eugene Ivanov, a KGB officer and an naval attaché at the Soviet embassy, also went to these sex parties. Profumo began an affair with one of Ward’s girls called Christine Keeler. The problem for Profumo was that Keeler was also having an affair with Ivanov.

All this was being monitored by MI5 but it decided not to take action against what Ward was up to. However, someone within MI5 decided to leak this information to George Wigg, a Labour MP with very close relationship with the intelligence services.

On 2nd March, 1963, George Wigg made a speech in the House of Commons where he referred to rumours that Profumo was having an affair with Christine Keeler. A few weeks later Profumo made a personal statement where he admitted he knew Keeler but denied there was any impropriety in their relationship. This statement failed to stop newspapers publishing stories suggesting that Profumo had lied about his relationship with Keeler. On 5th June 1963, Profumo admitted that he had misled the House of Commons and resigned from office.

JFK took a keen interest in the Profumo affair. David Kirkparick Bruce, was the US ambassador in London. He was ordered to provide a daily report on the Profumo case.

Hoover now decided it was time to make use of this information. In July 1963 FBI agents questioned Ellen Rometsch about her past. They came to the conclusion that she was probably a Soviet spy. Hoover then leaked information to the journalist, Courtney Evans, that Rometsch worked for Walter Ulbricht, the communist leader of East Germany. When Robert Kennedy was told about this information, he ordered her to be deported.

JFK knew that the matter was not over. We know that after the deportation of Rometsch, JFK employed Grant Stockdale to raise a lot of money to pay off blackmailers. As it happens, Stockdale was a business partner of Bobby Baker.

I think it is possible that this story played a role in the cover-up of the assassination. LBJ and Hoover both knew that JFK had been having a sexual relationship with a KGB spy. Did this influence RFK decision not to publicize his own doubts about the assassination of his brother?

Interestingly, two of the key figures in the story committed suicide, while these events unfolded. Stephen Ward died on 3rd August 1963 before telling the full story of what happened. Recently, Christine Keeler has claimed that Ward ran a Soviet spy ring that involved MI5 chief Roger Hollis and Sir Anthony Blunt.

On 26th November, Grant Stockdale flew to Washington and talked with Robert Kennedy and Edward Kennedy. On his return Stockdale told several of his friends that "the world was closing in." On 1st December, he spoke to his attorney, William Frates who later recalled: "He started talking. It didn't make much sense. He said something about 'those guys' trying to get him. Then about the assassination." Stockdale died on 2nd December, 1963 when he fell (or was pushed) from his office on the thirteenth story of the Dupont Building in Miami.

You will find out more about this story here:

John Profumo

Ellen Rometsch

Grant Stockdale

Bobby Baker

Nancy Carole Tyler

George Wigg

John F. Kennedy

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