Luis Kutner: The Declassified Life of a Human Rights Icon

Human rights icon, mob lawyer, and “co-founder of Amnesty International.” A “publicity hound,” a “vain, egotistical trouble maker,” and a wannabe CIA conspirator. A poet, an associate of Jack Ruby, and a “Friend” of J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI.

Such was the complicated life of a famous cold war-era human rights lawyer, Luis Kutner.

Human rights icon, mob lawyer, and “co-founder of Amnesty International.” A “publicity hound,” a “vain, egotistical trouble maker,” and a wannabe CIA conspirator. A poet, an associate of Jack Ruby, and a “Friend” of J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI.

Such was the complicated life of a famous cold war-era human rights lawyer, Luis Kutner.

Kutner built up his reputation as a human rights lawyer during the late 1940s. Gaining a reputation among the convicted as “the Springman,”1 Kutner was noted for his ability to get people out of prison. By the end of his career, he would be credited with gaining the release of over 1,000 people. Some were wrongfully convicted, others were being held without charge.

One prisoner whom Kutner freed was an African-American man named James Montgomery.2 Kutner effected his release in 1949. Montgomery had spent nearly two-and-a-half decades in prison, having been framed for rape. The appeals court judge called the original trial a “sham” and found that the prosecutor threatened Montgomery and his defense lawyer with violent retaliation by the Ku Klux Klan if a guilty plea was not entered.

Three years before Rosa Parks would make her famous refusal to move to the back of the bus, Kutner filed a lawsuit on behalf of a Black passenger against Illinois Greyhound Lines.3 Upon entering Jim Crow Tennessee on a trip from Chicago to Mississippi, the bus driver had forced the passenger to the back of the bus where no seating was available. The passenger was forced to stand for a trip of approximately 150 miles.

In 1949, Kutner organized what is thought to be the first federal lawsuit against a prison warden by inmates. The suit charged the warden with stealing from prisoners, using prison labor for the personal benefit of prison staff, and a regime of brutality run by the prison guards.4

In 1966, Kutner was instrumental in getting an injunction against George Lincoln Rockwell and the American Nazi Party.5 The judgment prevented the Nazis from holding a demonstration in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood. Rockwell hoped to intimidate the area’s Jewish residents into ceasing their support for Martin Luther King, Jr.’s efforts to integrate areas of the city.

Kunter’s reputation began to grow—especially as he began to take on more international cases. These cases tended to (though not always) deal with prisoners held in the Eastern Bloc or in the newly independent countries of the non-aligned world. Such cases, for obvious reasons, were most attractive to the U.S. press.

Kutner worked on the case of József Cardinal Mindszenty, a Hungarian priest whose story became a centerpiece of anti-communist propaganda in the west. Mindszenty’s “glazed over” look at his trial would become the CIA’s excuse to embark on MK/ULTRA experimentation.6

In 1958, he helped free the fascist poet Ezra Pound. Kutner claimed that, upon release, Pound asked him if he was Jewish and then spat in his face.7

He is listed in several obituaries, including in the New York Times and the Chicago Tribune, as “co-founder of Amnesty International.”8 This is almost certainly an exaggeration. His papers from the period do show a close correspondence with Peter Benenson,9 Amnesty’s “other” co-founder. These letters date from the early days of the organization (then called “Appeal for Amnesty”). But they also seem to indicate that he and Benenson met only after its creation. Kutner did, though, serve on the National Advisory Council of the organization’s U.S. branch.

Some of his other famous cases include seeking the freedom of Moise Tshombe, a Belgian-backed Congolese secessionist leader, and that of hundreds of prisoners in Northern Ireland—held without being charged by the British government—in Long Kesh prison.

Kutner also built his reputation by devising some important legal concepts. One of them was a legal device that Kutner called “World Habeas Corpus,” which he hoped would extend the right to people across the globe. Kutner attempted for years to create a non-governmental organization around this idea. In the style of Amnesty International, it would maintain offices across the world. The method by which Kutner aimed to fund his dream, declassified documents show, were considerably less worthy than the concept.

An examination of declassified government documents only adds to the controversy. They reveal Luis Kutner’s many hidden interactions with the FBI, the CIA, and the mafia underworld.10 The record of his association with various far-right figures is also included. They even reveal the violent efforts of a terrorist group he defended under the guise of “human rights.”

Committing Conscientious Objectors

Kutner’s earliest documented attempt to collude with the FBI came in 1944. He had been called upon to defend indigent draft resisters in federal court. Unfortunately, he seemed to place what he perceived to be the needs of the U.S. war effort above the interests of his clients.

During the course of a trial, Kutner approached the judge with a somewhat “novel” idea. He proposed that the judge place his client, one of the numerous Black Muslims who was refusing the draft for religious reasons, into a mental hospital.11 Kutner reasoned that being committed rather than being incarcerated would prevent the man from being seen as “martyr.” Kutner said:

These so-called “Mohammedans” are seeking martyrdom. Many have been sent to prison, and that pleases them. They consider themselves martyrs. They should be examined for sanity. The prestige of their movement would be destroyed if they went to asylums instead of prisons.

The judge took Kutner’s advice and the case made the newspapers.

Apparently pleased his formulation for dealing with religious objectors, Kutner advised the same method for dealing with another client of his, this one a Jehovah’s Witness.12 Kutner typed a letter to J. Edgar Hoover which discussed this approach to objectors—and then alerted the FBI boss of the supposed dangers the Jehovah’s Witnesses presented to the U.S. war effort. Kutner received an appreciative, if somewhat dismissive, letter back from Hoover.13

Apart from what looks like a lawyer working against the wishes of his clients, Kutner was also working against a liberalizing shift in conscientious objector laws which had taken place as the Second World War approached. Recalling the horrific abuse meted out to anyone who refused service during World War One, organizations emerged to press the U.S. government for new protections for religious objectors.

One such organization is the Center on Conscience and War. It formed in 1940 and still works to protect conscientious objectors today. Maria Santelli, the Executive Director of the Center, judged Kutner’s actions this way:

[Kutner] is bringing in his own personal bias in his representation… [the defendants were] ready to go to jail as thousands of others had. That was their witness. So that was their act of conscience as they saw it. He circumvented that. The lawyer circumvented that witness.14

This may have been the first time Luis Kutner prioritized his political views over human rights, but as we’ll see later, it would not be the last.

“On the Fringes of the Chicago Mob”

According to the Chicago Historical Society who keep part of his papers, Kutner was “on the fringes of the Chicago mob” in his youth.15 This brought Kutner into contact with one “Sparky” Rubenstein16 — more familiarly known to history as Jack Ruby. Rubenstein was just three years Kutner’s junior and also a hanger-on of Chicago’s West Side gangs.

Both remained tied to the mob in one way or another in the following years. Ruby moved to Dallas to help the Chicago mob expand its rackets in the city. Kutner stayed in Chicago to practice law, counting mob figures among his clients. And during this period, they apparently did not lose touch.

In the early 1950s, a Senate committee known as the Kefauver Committee was investigating the power of organized crime in the United States. Kutner made national news for his representation of two men in front of the committee: Harry Russell, a Chicago bookie who worked for the Capone gang, and William Drury, a former police officer. Drury was called to testify17 against a corrupt Republican candidate for Sheriff—but he was murdered before he could testify.

But one important event didn’t make the news at the time—it would rather become famous in the wake of the murder of President John F. Kennedy. Kutner had acted as an intermediary between his old acquaintance, Jack Ruby, and the Senate committee.

According to Kutner, he connected Ruby with the committee’s Chief Counsel, Rudolph Halley. Kutner described Ruby’s goal as becoming the mafia’s “pipeline” into the commission.18 Ruby’s apparent goal was to steer the committee away from taking its investigation to Dallas.19

Though there’s no evidence that Jack Ruby’s influence had any effect, Kefauver did not end up taking his investigatory road show to Dallas. Kefauver actually complimented20 a police representative for the Texas city “for catching [organized crime] before it got started down in Dallas.”

The facts in Dallas were a little bit different — the city had a steadily growing underworld and burgeoning drugs trade. Within a few years, another Senate investigation would put Dallas in the top tier21 of U.S. cities for narcotics trafficking.

It is perhaps important to note that Kutner wasn’t just representing others in front of the Kefauver Committee—he was also called upon to defend himself from serious accusations. Specifically, he was forced to deny reports that he had “obtained $60,000 from racketeers by falsely claiming he could ‘fix’ the Senate Committee.”22

At some point in the ensuing years, Kutner became an FBI informant. Listed by the Bureau as symbol informant CG 5973-C,23 Kutner reported on the activities24 of Chicago mob “fixer” Gus Alex and his lawyer, Sidney Korshak. Korshak would later famously become a focus of a New York Times investigation lead by Seymour Hersh.25

CIA, the Mafia, and the Plots to Kill Castro

Kutner first became involved in international intrigues26 in 1960 when he acted as an emissary for two major mafia figures to the FBI. Kutner carried an offer to eliminate Cuban leader Fidel Castro to the FBI.

The two mob bosses were Norman Rothman and Sam Mannarino. Mannarino ran the rackets in Pittsburg, and Rothman had run mafia casinos in Batista’s Cuba. Kutner was Rothman’s attorney while the two gangsters were out on bond, awaiting sentencing for a recent federal conviction. A jury had found them guilty on two important counts: a 1958 theft of weapons27 from an Ohio National Guard Armory, and neutrality act violations for attempting to get the stolen weapons to Cuba.

An FBI memo28 describes the events of May 9th, 1960. Seeking a lighter sentence for his client, Kutner walked into the office of the Assistant U.S. Attorney and advised officials there of the following:

[Rothman] has been a close personal friend of Fulgencio Batista, and and is one of the few persons trusted by Batista… in fact he, Rothman, during the time Batista was in power, was in charge of all gambling in Cuba. Having known Batista as well as he claims and being aware of his current activities and also revolutionary activities he is in a position to know what may happen in Cuba in the future. As a matter of fact, he claims to be able to “deliver Castro to the United States cause or cause Castro to be wiped out”. Rothman likewise claims an acquaintanceship with Castro. (Emphasis added)

The response of the FBI was to ask Kutner’s cooperation to “determine specifically what information Norman Rothman might have, which might be of interest to the Bureau or any other Government agency.” (Emphasis added)

In 1975, when the Church Committee made the first official exposures of combined CIA/mafia efforts to assassinate Fidel Castro,29 they pinpointed the first plotting as starting in August of 1960—just a few months following Rothman’s offer.

But while the Church Committee’s story begins with the relationship between the CIA, Howard Hughes, attorney Robert Maheu, and Las Vegas gangster Johnny Roselli, a 1975 New York News investigation30 starts somewhat earlier. It appears to fill in the intervening months and places Rothman at the center of the early plotting.

“Rothman was in touch with several CIA agents,” a former agent said. “They had many meetings concerning assassination plots against Castro.”

Rothman in turn discussed the matter with his peers… among those who took part in these parleys, reliable sources said, were Santo Trafficante of Tampa, and Sam Mannarino of Pittsburgh… the mob and CIA finally gave [the contract] to [Johnny] Roselli, reputed boss of Las Vegas, federal sources said. And Roselli agreed to recruit a death squad to hunt Castro.

From the timeline, it appears that the offer Kutner carried was accepted.

It is worth noting that Jack Ruby’s reported Cuban gun-running also coincides with the same period as Rothman and Mannarino’s. Further, Ruby’s friend, Lewis McWillie,31 managed one of Rothman’s Havana casinos.32

Rothman’s attempts to intervene in international politics didn’t end in 1960—and as we’ll soon see, neither did Kutner’s. FBI files implicate Rothman as a partner in a plan to overthrow the Guatemalan government in 1965.33 Weapons for the effort were provided by CIA agent and anti-Castro Cuban fighter Luis Posada Carriles. Posada would later become infamous for his role in the terror bombing of Cubana Airlines flight 455, which killed all 73 people on board.

Through 1961, Kutner continued his role as an FBI criminal informant, but was dropped by the FBI for providing dubious information on the mafia’s pilferage along the New York waterfront. The FBI determined that Kutner’s information was substantiated “only by Kutner’s own opinion and belief.”34

Sometime in the early 1960s, Kutner became Guatemala’s Consul General for the city of Chicago. Why Guatemala would give him this honor is unclear, but the country did play an important role in the war against Cuba. Since before the Bay of Pigs operation, it was a key base35 for CIA, mafia, and Cuban exile attacks on Cuba. Additionally, a 1966 FBI memo36 indicated that Chicago mobster Sam Giancana had a home in Guatemala. While acting as a consular official for the Guatemalan military government in the United States, Kutner would have been able to provide important services for travelers between the countries.

Whether Kutner continued his mediation between his mafia clients and the CIA during the period is unknown. But by 1963, Kutner felt self-assured enough to approach the Central Intelligence Agency for clandestine funding.

A CIA Staffed Newspaper

In 1963, Kutner embarked on a publishing venture—a newspaper called the Yugoslav Herald. The paper would be aimed at the Midwest’s large Southern Slav population.

A memo between the CIA and their liaison with the FBI37 notes a remarkable fact: Kutner had requested CIA financial support for the paper. In return, Kutner offered the CIA a hand in choosing the newspaper’s managing editor.

Mr. Kutner stated that the post of managing editor would be held open and that he was confident a candidate could be found for this job in consultation with this agency.

The CIA told the FBI that they “planned no contact” with Kutner, and intended no “follow up action” on the matter. It stated that it was relaying this information solely because of the FBI’s interest in both Kutner and the editor of Kutner’s new paper, one Andrew Kondich.

Kondich was a vocal anti-fascist and the editor of a second paper, the Abendpost, which was targeted at Germans in the Chicago area. Kutner seemed especially interested in Kondich’s knowledge of (and opposition to) the fascist European exile movements. Interestingly, Kutner thought the CIA might be as well—but to what end is hard to gather.

It was just a few months prior that Kutner had become publicly involved with a group called the Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations (ABN). The ABN was created during the Second World War by ultra-nationalist Ukrainians who had collaborated with the Nazis. There was a substantial crossover between the group which had started the ABN and groups that had committed war crimes and participated in the Nazi’s genocidal military campaign inside the USSR. The ABN became associated with U.S. intelligence in 1945 when General Reinhard Gehlen delivered the Nazi’s Eastern Front intelligence apparatus to the U.S. Army.

Kutner had met with the ABN’s President,38 Yaroslav Stetsko, in March of 1963. That summer, he was a prominent speaker39 at one of the ABN’s “Captive Nations Week” events.

Likely the ABN leadership felt that Kutner provided them with the liberal cover of a “Nobel Prize nominee” and the ability to deflect charges of anti-semitism. Kutner seemed to move with ease between groups founded by Nazi-aligned war criminals to groups that were dedicated, in part, to the extradition of Nazi war criminals.40

The nature of Kutner’s Yugoslav Herald is as difficult to decipher as Kutner himself. It billed its politics as “neutral,” had a decidedly anti-fascist editor, but according to an FBI informant41 it was printed in the same location as a far-right Serbian language paper called Serbian Struggle. The publisher of Serbian Struggle, a member of the John Birch Society named Slobodan M. Draskovich,42 would be interviewed by the FBI in 1964 for spreading the rumor that “Oswald had studied sharpshooting43 in Kiev.” Kondich’s take on the Kennedy Assassination, on the other hand, was the polar opposite. An FBI memo notes his opinion that the murder was carried out by “Birchites and Nazis.”44

Perhaps the Yugoslav Herald collapsed under the weight of its numerous contradictions—it printed only one issue before folding. According to an FBI informant, Kunter received a call45 from “a representative of a U.S. government agency” which precipitated a violent falling out46 between Kondich and Kutner. What followed an FBI investigation during which Kondich was fired from his job at Abendpost. The FBI then began looking into Kondich’s alleged attempts to infiltrate and disrupt47 Chicago’s Eastern European far-right community.

Old Associates—Jack Ruby and Luis Kutner

After Jack Ruby murdered Lee Harvey Oswald in the presence of over 70 Dallas police officers, the U.S. press turned to Kutner for information on his old associate. Kutner’s statements appeared in several newspaper articles. For the most part, his statements centered around his interactions with Ruby and the Kefauver commission as discussed above, but he also filled in some blanks on Ruby’s ties with the Chicago mob. This included, according to Kutner, links to the lieutenants of Teamsters President Jimmy Hoffa.

All of Kutner’s information would be largely ignored by the Warren Commission who told the country, without irony, that Jack Ruby was just a second “lone nut,” Kutner’s picture of Ruby would come much closer to the revisions that the House Select Committee on Assassinations made to the historical record in the late 1970s.

In a 1978 interview48 on a Canadian television show, Kutner pointed to a conspiracy by giving his opinion that Ruby would not have killed Oswald without being pressed into it:

I say it again and I say this with positive conviction that Jack Ruby, or Sparky Rubenstein, was totally incapable of that kind of an aggressive decision and doing it so openly and so deliberately.


I would say enormous pressure, had to be enormous pressure. But if he did this job they would stand by him and get him out of this mess. That is a reasonable considered and informed conclusion, I could be in many schools of thought but he was not the man to do it on him own initiative.

Authors Peter Dale Scott and William W. Turner have both touched on the fact that Kutner made an appearance at an Information Council of the America’s (INCA) “National Citizen’s Congress” event in 1969. INCA was a far-right anti-communist group who could count among its supporters’ Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza49 and Guatemalan general and one of the plotters of the 1954 coup, General Miguel Ydigoras Fuentes.50 INCA was founded by Ed Butler—the man who famously participated in a radio debate with the Lee Harvey Oswald just months before the assassination in Dallas.

These far-right activists billed Kutner as a “moderate” and put up to debate radical New Left lawyer William Kunstler. INCA’s National Producer at that time was one Lee Edwards, a far-right promoter who Kutner would work with closely within the coming years.

“The Worst African Ever Born”

In 1967, saving the life of an African leader, Moise Tshombe, became a cause among America’s far-right51—and Kutner was at the center of the efforts. Here, he would find himself in alliance with high-powered politicians, like Senators Strom Thurmond and Thomas Dodd, as well as with conservative activists like Marvin Liebman and William F. Buckley.

Tshombe came to international prominence in 1960 during the “Congo crisis.” Almost immediately following the country’s independence from Belgium, Tshombe—backed by Belgian paratroopers and millions of dollars from Belgian mining companies—split the Katanga province from the rest of the country. The area was, by far, the most resource-rich in the country and was the home to the mining companies which were backing the succession. Within six months, Congo’s independence leader Patrice Lumumba—a symbol of rising African nationalism—would be sent to Tshombe’s pseudo-statelet and murdered.

Tshombe became a reviled figure in many parts of the world. In the Shona language of Zimbabwe, a derivative his name took on the same connotations52 that Norwegian traitor Vidkun Quisling’s surname had taken during the Second World War. In a 1965 Harlem speech,53 Malcolm X called Tshombe “the worst African ever born” and “a cold-blooded murderer.”

Tshombe faced a United Nations effort to oust him and rebuild the country. It was an episode during which UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld lost his life in a still controversial54 airplane crash. Tshombe was eventually ejected from Katanga—and sent off to exile in fascist Spain.

Reliably anti-communist and pro-western, Tshombe was recalled back to Congo in 1964. He was installed as Prime Minister of the country he had attempted to wreck just a few years before. With the help of the United States and its anti-Castro Cuban mercenaries, Tshombe waged a brutal civil war against Lumumbist and other Congolese rebels. He was finally toppled from within by Joseph-Désiré Mobutu. Fleeing again to Spain, Tshombe was sentenced to death as a traitor by the coup government.

Things were about to get much worse for Tshombe. In an event whose authorship is still a mystery, Tshombe was kidnapped55 during a flight that was diverted to Algeria. It landed, and Tshombe was thrown into prison. The Algerian government assured the Congo that he would be extradited to face his sentence.

Though the Johnson administration seemed happy to stick with Mobutu, the American right sprang into action to “save” Tshombe. Op-eds flowed into newsprint and onto television. Speeches were made on the Senate floor.56 Luis Kutner became Mrs. Tshombe’s lawyer, who was traveling the world seeking support for her husband. Kutner took this as another chance to apply his World Habeas Corpus concept and convince the United Nations to act to spare Tshombe’s life.

Kutner made the media rounds, defending Tshombe’s record:

…Tshombe at all times has been a friend of human rights, and he has always made an attempt to preserve the integrity of all persons in preaching the human dignity which the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights seems to provide for.57

Tshombe’s record was considerably less perfect than Kutner described. As noted before, Lumumba’s torture and murder—along with those of his aides, Maurice Mpolo and Joseph Okito—was carried out in Tshombe’s puppet state.58 To lead his army, Tshombe turned to French Colonel Roger Trinquier, a veteran of France’s brutal Algerian counter-insurgency war and “a ruthless enthusiast of torture.”59 Tshombe’s white mercenaries habitually shot their prisoners.60 Some of these mercenaries summed up their attitudes towards the Africans in a 1965 ABC television interview:61

Moloney: Well, one last night told me that he had burned two villages because two of his men had been killed in an attack. How would you defend this? \

Major Hoare: Yes. Well, now it’s a question of how we define atrocities…. The burning of villages, this is punishment, and I’m entirely in favor, when it is required of punishing the rebels in this manner….

ABC’s Peters: Wally, how do you feel when you’re out there fighting? How do you feel about killing anyone?

Harper (a South African mercenary): The first time I felt a bit squeamish, but after that it was like, well I’d done a lot of cattle farming you know, and killing a lot of beasts, it’s just like, you know, cattle farming, and just seeing dead beasts all over the place. It didn’t worry me at all.”

Maybe it was Kutner’s involvement with Tshombe that warmed him to hired killers. Professor Kyle Burke, author of Revolutionaries for the Right, found some 1976 correspondence showing that Kutner planned to form a nonprofit with far-right mercenary and Soldier of Fortune magazine founder Robert K. Brown. The so-called “World Veterans for Human Rights” mission would be to “take the sting out of the connotation of ‘mercenaries’.”62

While Kutner was playing the human rights lawyer in public, he became involved in a bizarre plot, in private, to spring Tshombe from prison. The plot would come to light because it ultimately lead to the murder of a wealthy California socialite.

Between Kutner’s 1970 description63 of events and those of the prosecutor in the murder case, the story goes like this: Kutner was approached in July of 1967 in New York City by two strangers who made him a simple offer. For a $40,000 down and $1 million more on “delivery,” the men could free Tshombe. Kutner claimed he considered them “cranks,” but nonetheless he continued to take their calls—one of the men using the codename “the Fox.”

By August, the plot was apparently in full swing. “The Fox”—still in contact with Kutner—was in Algiers, working with an American mercenary to bribe the Algerian police guarding Tshombe. For whatever reason, the plan failed—but “the Fox” was not deterred. He approached another man, one Robert Forget, and offered him $25,000 which would come from “Tshombe’s sympathizers” if he would join him in his efforts to free the former African leader. It is worth noting perhaps that those amounts were very close to the amounts eventually demanded from Kutner (though Burke, who examined Kutner’s papers on this topic, found no evidence that any cash was delivered).64

Amid such intrigue, declassified documents show that Kutner once again reached out to the Central Intelligence Agency. He was seeking support for his World Habeas Corpus concept (more on this shortly). During the course of the call, Kutner intimated to a CIA officer of an ongoing plan to re-“kidnap” Tshombe.65

Probably needless to say, the wild scheme involving a Chicago lawyer and someone who called themselves “the Fox” never did free Tshombe. In 1969, the former Congolese leader fell dead of a heart attack in his Algerian prison. As for “The Fox,” he had apparently moved on to other plots—he told Forget that the plan to free Tshombe was now the “phase two” of a larger plan. “Phase one” was to be the murder of wealthy Los Angeles resident, Norma Carty Wilson.

“The Fox” turned out to be a young California financial advisor named Thomas Devins. He had swindled Wilson for some $1.5 million. In an effort to cover up his theft, he lured the woman to Switzerland, murdered her, and disposed of her body.

“The Fox” was convicted of her murder in late 1970. Wilson’s jawbone and teeth were finally found in the Swiss hills in 1973.

A World-wide Human Rights Organization—Funded by CIA

As mentioned above, Kutner made another pass at Agency sponsorship in the middle of the Tshombe affair. He contacted two CIA officers about turning World Habeas Corpus into something considerably more solid than a legal concept. The two officials were a Domestic Contact Division officer named R.K. Oakley and the CIA’s General Counsel, Lawrence Houston.

CIA was interested enough in Kutner that the CIA’s top lawyer agreed to a lunch meeting. For some reason, before the lunch took place, Kutner called Oakley. According to CIA documents, Kutner asked the agency to fund his “World Habeas Corpus Centers,”66 which he hoped, with CIA backing, could be established around the world.

Kutner attempted to entice CIA with a proposal which celebrated the tough stand on human rights in communist countries taken by a “human rights” conference held in the capital of one of the most repressive cold war torture states—the U.S.-backed Shah’s Iran. It is an irony surpassed only by, perhaps, the idea of a worldwide archipelago of CIA-backed “human rights” centers.

The CIA saw the propaganda value in such an organization, but Oakley told Kutner that the organization would probably harm the project more than help it.

[Domestic Contact Division] Oakley did not absolutely rule out contact because it appears Kutner might have something worthwhile if he will somehow eliminate his conspiratorial urge…

Kutner, for his part, repeated that CIA-backing would be “very helpful.”

CIA, though, had a little more experience with this sort of problem. It was during the previous year that news of CIA infiltration of NGOs was broken when Ramparts Magazine exposed the Agency’s use of the National Student Association as a CIA front.67

But Kutner played things without much finesse. Kutner was found to be telling acquaintances68 that “World Habeas Corpus… is financed by the CIA.” One of Kutner’s acquaintances alerted R.K. Oakley to this fact. It was behavior that, had the CIA been funding him, represented a major security breach. If Kutner was making things up, it represented a serious lack of judgment on his part—as well as a potential public relations problem for the CIA.

For this strange name dropping of the CIA, his lunch with the CIA’s top lawyer was canceled. With a gentle warning about his “indiscretions,” his request for funding was finally—though politely—brushed off.69

The “Ranting and Raving” of Fred Hampton

In December of 1969, Luis Kutner sought out a talk70 of Black Panther Leader Fred Hampton. Hampton was speaking alongside Reverend George Riddick71 of the Southern Christian Leadership Council before a small audience of mostly elderly peace activists. Kutner reported the content of Hampton’s address—and seemingly the names of as many attendees as he could—to the FBI.

Kutner reported that Hampton had stated that the Panthers were armed, and quoted the Black Panther leader’s statement that their weapons were for self-defense. Kutner also reported that Hampton stated several times that “Nixon must die.” Kutner, to his credit, made it clear that the statements were “meant to accentuate HAMPTON’s statement that the BPP was a revolutionary party” and in no way did Hampton link his statement to the BPP’s armed status.

The document shows that Kutner advised the FBI that he…

…has taken a personal interest in the BPP because of its “ranting and raving” and this personal interest on the part of KUTNER has reached the point where he would like to take legal action to silence the BPP…

KUTNER included [sic] by stating that he believed speakers like HAMPTON were psychotic, and it is only when they are faced with court action that they stop their “ranting and raving.”

Just four days after Kutner made his report, Hampton would be murdered72 by the Chicago Police Department in a raid on his home. A blue-ribbon commission73 found that Hampton had been given a near-lethal dose of secobarbital—most certainly by one of the many informants the FBI had placed inside the organization.

Chicago Police officers fired nearly 100 bullets into Hampton’s apartment. All of the shots missed the young activist aside from two—one entered his shoulder, and another grazed his leg. Despite these wounds, the amount of the drug given to Hampton was such that he remained unconscious on his bed. Hampton’s death was caused, two autopsies showed, by two closely placed shots to the head. The angles of the shots were consistent with the police approaching the incapacitated Hampton and murdering him execution-style.74

The assassination, which the FBI helped to plan,75 also took the life of BPP member Mark Clark. Seven more Panthers, none of whom fired a shot according to a federal grand jury76 (and many themselves wounded), were arrested and charged with “attempted murder, armed violence, and a variety of weapons charges.”

Kutner’s taking exception to the rhetorical “Nixon must die” comments is especially interesting. As we’ll soon see, he himself worked with groups which both preached violence and carried it out—including the attempted assassination of at least one world leader.

Human Rights, Terrorism, and Assassination

As Nixon planned to cement a relationship with the People’s Republic of China and the PRC moved closer to securing its seat at the United Nations, relations between the U.S.A and its old allies in Taiwan began to strain. It was a relationship that had appeared to have little to recommend it outside of the shared U.S./ROC opposition to revolutionary China. The CIA supported at least one coup plot77 against the country’s leader, Chiang Kai-shek.

The resentment of native Taiwanese was also growing. The island’s pre-1949 inhabitants made up the vast majority of the population and had now been living under twenty years of martial law imposed by mainland exiles. A necessarily secret opposition to one-party Kuomintang rule developed. Governments on both sides78 of the Taiwan strait suspected that the United States was encouraging such groups. It may well have been true—exchanging the elderly Chiang and his small group of mainlanders for a new government with broad support appealed to many in and out of the U.S. government. Just so long as the new government was staunchly anti-communist.

On the island itself, the Taiwan Independence Movement became the central organization for native Taiwanese activism.79 The FBI described the group as “dedicated to the overthrow of the present Chinat [Chinese Nationalist] government”80 on the island.

A global movement for Taiwanese (Formosan) independence also developed—especially in the United States. The main grouping in the U.S. was known as United Formosans in America for Independence (UFAI). By 1970, all of the Taiwanese independence groups around the world had formed an umbrella organization. That group called itself World United Formosans for Independence (WUF).

On April 24, 1970, a black limousine carrying the Vice Premiere of Taiwan pulled up to New York City’s luxurious Plaza Hotel. Chiang Ching-kuo, the son of Kuomintang leader Chiang Kai-shek, had come to New York on the second stop of an official visit to the United States. His visit to the city was especially contentious because New York had become the heart of the overseas Formosan student movement.

In front of the hotel, the WUF demonstrated against the younger Chiang’s visit. As the Vice Premiere exited his car in front of the hotel, one of the demonstrators rushed towards him and fired a pistol. The assassin’s shot missed, and he was quickly wrestled to the ground by New York City police and Chiang’s bodyguards. In the scuffle that ensued, another member of the group leaped into the scuffle and both were arrested.

An FBI report confirmed both men’s membership in the WUF. The information came from a leader of the group, one Chen Lung Chu.81 A close correspondent with Kutner, he had gone into the FBI office in New Haven, Connecticut and identified both of the assassins as members of the WUF. He did so, though, in order to stress to the FBI that the assassination attempt “was in no way associated with the work of the organization.”

It seems that the group was enough associated with the assassination that their lawyer Kutner would be called on to defend the attackers82 in court.

Was this simply a case of Kutner, a lawyer for an otherwise peaceful group, taking on the defense of two out-of-control members who had engaged in a terrorist act? Two declassified documents, one withheld from release83 for decades by the Defense Intelligence Agency, add considerably more to the story.84

A Defense Intelligence Agency specialist, Richard Hennighausen, received a letter filled with violent rhetoric from an acquaintance of his, one Eric Lin. Importantly, Lin (in one of his numerous letters printed in the Chicago Tribune85) identified himself in 197386 as the Public Information officer of the WUF.

The admissions in the letter apparently spooked the DIA employee sufficiently that he went to his superiors to tell them what he knew, presumably to avoid getting implicated in any sort of crime himself.

The FBI saw Lin’s letter as an apparent attempt to recruit Hennighausen87 to the WUF and the Taiwan Independence Movement. In his letter, Lin stated that he had stalked Chiang Ching-Kuo in Washington D.C. alongside the assassins who later made their attempt in front of the Plaza Hotel.

Lin then invited Hennighausen to Chicago to “assist the Formosan group and that they might discuss the secret plans of the Formosan group.” Included in the letter were Xerox copies of news releases from World United Formosans on which Kutner’s name and Chicago address were printed.

A CIA memo from August 197088 makes clear Kutner’s involvement in clandestine plans in support of Taiwanese independence.

The memo contains a letter, which describes how Kutner approached one Robert Fleming. Fleming was the Vice President of a company called the Mid-America International Development Association (MIDA). It is important to note that the Chicago-based MIDA was undoubtedly associated with the Central Intelligence Agency. Founded by Thomas H. Miner, MIDA worked under U.S.AID contracts in Africa. U.S.AID is a government agency which has been well-known for its utility as a CIA front. Another of Miner’s companies was listed in Philip Agee’s explosive Inside the Company: CIA Diary as having been used for CIA cover, and Miner himself was called “The CIA’s Chicago Front Man”89 in a fascinating 1979 article by Thomas J. Dolan of the Chicago Reader.90

This was the milieu to whom Kutner approached with his remarkable offer: the overthrow of Taiwan’s Kuomintang government.

[Kutner] indicated he represented a group willing to [illegible] a handsome return to anyone investing $20,000,000 which they require to overthrow the Taiwan government.

Fleming “hastily declined” the offer, though he did engage Kutner for further information on another of Kutner’s “projects” in Africa. Though the memo is unfortunately partially illegible, Kutner’s other offer in some way involved the Ghanaian government of Dr. Kofi Abrefa Busia. Busia (who would himself be overthrown) had been an official in the military coup government which had overthrown Ghana’s socialist leader, Kwame Nkrumah.

Though, in August, Kutner covertly approached a CIA-linked company for regime change cash, by October he was again the human rights crusader. Kutner once again made the papers, this time as the counsel for Peng Ming-min,91 the leader of the Taiwan Independence Movement.92

Clearly, Luis Kutner had no problems being associated with groups engaged in violence—whether that meant an assassination on the streets of New York or the CIA-sponsored overthrow of a government on the other side of the globe.

At the end of 1970—just one year after reporting Fred Hampton to the FBI—Kutner found himself the subject of Bureau surveillance.93 FBI informants reported an event where Kutner took the stage with Meir Kahane, the leader of the militant Jewish Defense League. The group, though only recently formed, had already been responsible for at least one bombing and had attempted to hijack an international flight. But this did not stop Kutner from, according to an informant, publicly “pledging his support for the JDL.”

With Kutner looking on, Kahane reportedly stated: “if it takes a bombing of the Soviet Embassy in New York to be put on page 1—fine.”

There’s no evidence that Kutner reported Kahane’s ranting and raving to the FBI.

“Friends of the FBI”—Covering for COINTELPRO

On March 24, 1971, an example of what one might call the 20th Century version of “hacktivism” occurred. A group called “The Citizens’ Commission to Investigate the FBI” burgled an FBI office, stole a cache of documents, and released them to the press. The documents proved that the FBI was engaging in police state tactics against dissidents in the United States. Included in the FBI documents were floor plans of Fred Hampton’s apartment with a large “X” over Hampton’s bed.

The repression that had been considered conspiracy theorizing by the left had now hit the newsstands in black and white. A few years later, Senator Philip Hart of Michigan would state succinctly the dose of reality that such news brought:

As I’m sure others have, I have been told for years by, among others, some of my own family, that this is exactly what the Bureau was doing all of the time, and in my great wisdom and high office, I assured them that they were — it just wasn’t true. It couldn’t happen. They wouldn’t do it.94

J. Edgar Hoover began to receive sustained criticism in the press. LIFE Magazine’s April 9th, 1971 cover depicted a marble bust of FBI’s director—now in his post for 47 years—with the caption “Emperor of the FBI.”95

But while the media was at long last giving the nation the undeniable truth about J. Edgar Hoover’s methods, Kutner was at a table with two far-right promoters devising a way to protect the reputation of the director and his Bureau.

First known as “The Friends of Hoover” and (when that became untenable) as “The Friends of the FBI,” the “Friends” ironically billed itself as an “impartial” organization designed to study the FBI. They would accept tax-exempt donations by tying the group, to another of Kutner’s human rights non-profits, the Commission for International Due Process of Law. An actor named Efraim Zimbalist, Jr., famous for his lead role in a television show called The FBI, would provide the star power for the group.

Kutner’s partners in the potentially lucrative propaganda scheme were Lee Edwards and Patrick J. Gorman—two men deeply immersed in America’s far-right.

Lee Edwards ran a variety of conservative organizations. He was the National Producer96 of the Information Council of the Americas (INCA), a group of far-right anti-communists with ties to anti-Castro groups and Latin American dictators. He apparently felt that the Nixon Administration wasn’t far enough to the right97—he ran one group which was against Nixon’s China policy, and another—”Americans for Agnew”—which tried to pressure Nixon into standing by his corrupt and disgraced Vice-President.

Patrick Gorman was a fundraiser for a variety of right-wing causes: a “Draft Goldwater” campaign, “Schlafly for Congress,” and The American Enterprise Institute—just to name a few.98

A fundraising letter99 soon hit tens of thousands of mailboxes. It was filled with hyperbolic pro-Hoover rhetoric and was signed with Zimbalist’s famous name.

The F.B.I. and J. Edgar Hoover are being subjected to the degradation of an attack by self-serving politicians, their supporting media and certain radical elements that ultimately seek the destruction of all law and order in the United States…

We, the Friends of the F.B.I., are determined to counter the campaign against the F.B.I. and Mr. Hover, which threatens to undermine the whole structure of law and order in the United States.

It also asked for “generous” and “tax-deductible” gifts.

And the money began to pour in: “a Niagara of dollars,”100 as one called it. But not everyone was impressed with the effort.

Newspapers started to dig.101 Kutner had claimed several big names on the board of the “Friends.” But of those big names, one claimed not to know he was on the board, another said that he had never heard of the group, a third stated “I have never heard of the ‘Friends of the FBI’ and I repudiate it.”

Liberal supporters of Kutner’s Commission for International Due Process of Law were dumb-founded by his use of its good name (and theirs) to defend J. Edgar Hoover. Democratic Congressman Abner Mikva of Illinois summed up the hypocrisy to Kutner this way:

You can imagine my dismay when I read most recently that you had “lent” [The Commission] to Ephraim Zimbalist, Jr., for a promotion called Friends of the FBI. I noted with further dismay that Mr. Zimbalist proceeded to attack anyone who has ever criticized the FBI or its director, as people desiring to undermine the whole structure of law and order in the United States…

Wholly apart from the fact that Mr. Hoover has not always shown the great enthusiasm for due process that some of us might hope (to wit, his stands on wire-tapping, his attacks on Dr. King and his former superiors, his attitude about arrest and raids, etc.) it grieves me to see such a worthy organization… being used to enhance the money-making propensities of Mr. Zimbalist… That you should have permitted such a use and the Commission for International Due Process of Law to be so prostituted is indefensible.102

The Congressman then requested that he be disassociated with Kutner’s organization “since I am so out of sympathy for what you are doing.”

Kutner penned a fiery response to Mikva, denouncing among other things the “anarchy,” “assassinations,” and “sexual licentiousness” haunting America. He assured the Congressman that (apparently despite the name) the “Friends” of the FBI was “not in predetermined preference to the FBI.”

As for Hoover and the FBI, they had never liked the idea of such a group (though it found Kutner “pro-FBI and sincere”). The FBI was informed of the effort early on103 and advised Kutner not to use the name of the FBI or of Hoover. This advice was obviously ignored. Once the fund-raising started, the FBI had to repeatedly make statements that it was not associated with its “friends.”

Kutner might ignore the FBI, but the Internal Revenue Service could be more convincing. It opened an investigation and began to visit Kutner’s office.104 The Post Office also started to look into the matter.

By mid-1972, the group had split—mutual recriminations and accusations were pointed in all directions. Zimbalist felt he had been used. Kutner was scared off and pulled his group’s support away. Edwards and Gorman managed to limp along under a slightly changed name.

While the original group held together, though, it was quite lucrative. Some $400,000 (nearly $2.5 million in today’s dollars) had been raised in donations. Of that $400,000, Kutner took in $47,000 for his efforts. Edwards earned $27,000 and Gorman gained an enormous $155,000. $20,000 more went to the group’s lawyers.105

The scheme haunted the partners for years. In 1976, Kutner sued author Harvey Katz106 and his publisher. Kutner wanted $7 million in damages for his inclusion in a book entitled Give! Who Gets Your Charity Dollar. He lost.

In 1977, the state of Illinois would win a lawsuit against Patrick Gorman107. The suit would cause Gorman to be forbidden to fundraise in the state. Among his other frauds: “Allegedly helping widows and orphans of slain policemen, Gorman raised $300,000, but kept over 99.8 percent of it as his fundraising overhead.” The suit also noted his work with the “Friends of the FBI”.

When all was done, as author Harvey Katz noted, Kutner seemed to have created “a rather novel definition of friendship as well as of charity.”

Still at it—Kutner Invites the CIA to Beijing

A January 31st, 1973 CIA memo documents another astonishing offer.108

Kutner claimed a “close” relationship with the U.S.-toppled neutralist King of Cambodia, Norodom Sihanouk. Sihanouk was then in exile in the People’s Republic of China. Apparently, through the King, Kutner claimed that he was going to be allowed to open an office of World Habeas Corpus in the Chinese capital. Apparently, Kutner was still attempting to realize the scheme he had approached the CIA about in 1968.

Kutner’s offer, as stated by the CIA, was simple enough:

…the [Beijing] office could be set up for $250,000. If we wish to furnish that sum, [Kutner] would open the office for us and allow us to staff it completely with our own people (Emphasis added).

The CIA officer ends his memo by requesting advice from the Chiefs of both Vietnam and China Operations as to whether they have any interest in following up on the offer. Unfortunately the response, if any, isn’t in the available record. There is no evidence that the CIA took Kutner up on his offer or that such a center was ever built in China (or anywhere else for that matter).

In any case, Kutner’s constant reaching and endless schemes seem to have worn out his welcome with the intelligence agencies. The document notes that the FBI “do not regard [Kutner] highly.”

Amnesty International, the CIA, and Chile

Though Kutner may have been a pretty poor self-styled secret agent, his case does raise important questions about the conflicting covert and overt behavior those who have given the unimpugnable moniker of “human rights defender”.

The question becomes more important when considering large organizations with a worldwide presence like Amnesty International. There is no doubt that such groups can do vital, politically unbiased work on issues of human rights. But there is plenty of space for manipulation and misinformation to make its way into their narratives as well—whether it comes from inside or outside the group.

A shocking example of such disinformation came during the lead up to the 1991 Gulf War. In a story which belongs in the annals of infamy alongside “the huns are cutting off the hands of Belgian babies,” Amnesty International set off a firestorm of jingoistic anger when it “confirmed” the murder of hundreds of Kuwaiti incubator babies109 by Iraqi troops. But Amnesty soon had to drop its supposed verification:110 the “incubator babies” story was shown to be a complete fabrication—a public relations ploy to sell a war. Amnesty may have reversed course, but the U.S. military would not.

In the more recent case of 2011 Libya, Amnesty loudly demanded an investigation111 into the claims that Gaddafi’s troops had been given Viagra and condoms and urged to use rape as a weapon.112

Unfortunately for the people of Libya, NATO’s bombers would not pause for while the facts were pinned down. The results of the investigation would come out three months later—at a considerably lower volume than those of the salacious atrocities. There was no evidence113 for the reported mass rapes or specific other war crimes which Western media had turned into the bloody shirt of Libya intervention. All the stories about the rapes were found to have largely come from the testimony of a single Libya doctor.

Amnesty International may have found the testimony to be unreliable on several occasions, but that hasn’t slowed their efforts. During Syria’s destructive war, Amnesty found a new way of drawing attention to reports of abuse when testimony was the only evidence available: flashy 3D animations114 which claimed to recreate the insides of a “Syrian torture-prison.” These computer graphics were shown in major media across the United States and Europe. All just in time for Trump administration to take over—its devotion to his predecessor’s policies towards Damascus in question.

Though the examples above all fulfilled U.S. policy objectives, there’s no direct evidence of pressure being put on the human rights organization by governments or intelligence agencies. But declassified documents from 1974 do show a CIA attempt to involve Amnesty International in a scheme to make Chile’s fascist Pinochet regime more palatable to world opinion.

In late-1974,115 with criticism of the Pinochet Regime and the CIA at “dramatic proportions,” the CIA sought to exploit an offer made by General Pinochet for a Soviet-Chilean prisoner swap.

[The prisoner swap] is opportunity to blunt hostile propaganda. If the USSR and Chile can be lumped together in popular mind as each having political prisoners, the situation can be exploited to divert some of attention from junta’s supposed misdeeds…

It is worth noting here that the “supposed misdeeds”116 of the Pinochet regime have since been found to include, according to Chile’s truth and reconciliation commission, the imprisonment, and torture of some 40,000 people (including the rape of thousands of women), and the murder of more than 3,000 more. All this stemming from a coup—a coup the CIA had helped to launch.117

Suggest [redacted] approach DEFLOWER118 to see whether he can get his group interested in taking practical steps to get prisoners released from Chilean junta on exchange basis. Perhaps if he can picture himself as saving the prisoners (communist and socialist leaders in Chile and important intellectuals in the USSR) from a fascist regime on one hand and from a Stalinist country on the other he can become sufficiently interested in the exchange.119

As worthy as a release of prisoners might be to those with liberal sensibilities, the CIA had its own, less altruistic, motives for the plan. A later document,120 also marked “secret,” makes it clear that the real goal of the effort was to shield the CIA and the Pinochet regime from criticism.

Given perishability ref ideas, request your comment on feasibility of approaches to DEFLOWER and Amnesty International as outlined. Welcome any other suggestions on means limit further anti-BKHERALD propaganda in relation to Chile and anti-junta propaganda connected with treatment of political prisoners.

The identity of DE/FLOWER is unknown, but from the context, it appears to be a leader of Amnesty International. The fact that a cryptonym was given at all is in itself interesting. It generally indicates a higher level of interest in a person or group by the CIA—or even an asset. According to Dr. John Newman, an author and a former military intelligence officer who studies the CIA:

…it does not necessarily mean they were assets. In the majority of instances, they probably were assets. But, even then, that doesn’t tell us whether the “asset” was witting or unwitting. On many occasions, crypts were assigned to persons of interest simply because they were associated with assets or otherwise peripherally involved in Agency operations.121

Another heavily redacted document122 shows that the CIA was keeping a close watch on the composition of the leadership of Amnesty International. The CIA felt that a recent change in leadership might make the group more inclined to put “pressure on the Soviets.”

Though there are no documents showing anything more than CIA discussing such an approach, at least two such Chile-USSR prisoner swaps did occur123 in the following years. And Amnesty International negotiated the terms.

Later Years

And here the trail on Luis Kutner largely ends, though probably only because few documents in the tranche released through the JFK Act go past the 1970s. A FOIA request made to the FBI did reveal another interesting (but apparently unconsummated) offer: a 1983 attempt to trade access to a court case against the government of India for CIA or FBI funding.124

After the mid-‘70s, Kutner appeared in the news and in the Congressional Record occasionally. He called Carter’s Panama Canal treaty a “potential diplomatic Pearl Harbor”125—another stand for which he would be praised by Senator Strom Thurmond. The year 1981 saw an apparent reversal of his commitment to habeas corpus when he advised the Swedish government to detain the crew of a Soviet submarine126 until the USSR released information on the 1945 disappearance of Raoul Wallenberg.

In 1989, Kutner gave his legal okay for using military force to bring Panamanian General Manuel Noriega to trial in a U.S. court. “No problem at all,” Kutner advised the New York Times.127 “The law is pretty much settled. The manner used to get a defendant before a court is not relevant to his being tried for a crime.”

Not included in the article was any statement Kutner might have made about the human rights of the thousands of Panamanians injured and killed so that the U.S. government could “bring to justice” a former ally whose crimes they had studiously overlooked for over a decade.128 Maybe worth noting that another lawyer interviewed for the article did at least mention “human rights.”


Kutner’s career is nothing if not contradictory. He worked with the mafia and with the FBI. He deplored groups who used violent rhetoric, but supported groups engaged in violent actions. He was deeply and publicly enmeshed in the far-right, but was regarded by many as a liberal.

The informant work he did for the FBI did ingratiate him to the Bureau, but he wrecked that relationship not once, but twice: once with misinformation in the early 1960s, and then again in the early 70s with his “Friends of the FBI” debacle.

Throwing around the name of the Central Intelligence Agency showed astonishingly poor judgment—it alarmed the very agency he hoped to engage. It is certainly strange to imagine that the CIA would need a Chicago lawyer to help them kick off a coup or link up with militants. As the CIA put it, Kutner seemed to have many “conspiratorial urges,” but he rarely seemed able to satisfy them. Indeed for the most part, his covert actions were largely self-destructive. His approach to the Mid-America International Development Association, for instance, earned him the label of “some kind of nut.”129

Professor Kyle Burke, who studied the far-right networks which Kutner worked among in his book Revolutionaries for the Right, summed up his career this way:

He was an certainly an anti-communist, though I sense not as fervent as others in the American right with whom he worked…. He believed in human rights, but, like many on the right, he tended to think that it was only leftist governments that violated them…. I also sense that he was motivated by financial concerns as much—if not more than—political and ideological concerns. That, of course, is not uncommon for lawyers working in any field.130

Though, undoubtedly, his overt work—freeing prisoners and giving liberal cover to right-wing groups—often proved effective, in his grander schemes and his covert efforts, Kutner seems mostly lonely and feckless.

Kutner passed away in 1993. His New York Times obituary was simply titled “Luis Kutner, Lawyer Who Fought For Human Rights.”131


  1. James Litke. “The Springman Begs for Justice.” The Honolulu Advertiser. 04 Sep 1983. Newspaper.
  2. Associated Press. “Freed After Serving 24 Years for a Crime that Never Happened.” Hattiesburg American. 10 Aug 1949.
  3. “Lyons v. Illinois Greyhound Lines, Inc, 192 F.2d 533 (7th Cir. 1951) Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.”
  4. “Siegel et al. v. Ragen et al, 180 F.2d 785 (7th Cir. 1950).”
  5. Ronald G. Berquist. “Chicago Nazis Curbed During Jewish Holiday.” The Los Angeles Times. 15 Sep 1966.
  6. Linville, Tani M., “Project MKULTRA and the Search for Mind Control: Clandestine Use of LSD Within the CIA” (2016). History Capstone Research Papers. Page 3.
  7. Independent Press Service. “Mr. Habeas Corpus: Seeking to Agitate World’s Conscience.” The Daily Oklahoman. 03 Jan 1984.
  8. Saxon, Wolfgang. “Luis Kutner, Lawyer Who Fought For Human Rights, Is Dead at 84.” The New York Times. 04 Mar 1993.
  9. Correspondence between Peter Benenson and Luis Kutner. Luis Kutner papers. Box 47, Folder 11 “Amnesty International, 1962-1967”. Hoover Institution Archives.
  10. Documents relating to Luis Kutner are included in the JFK Act releases because of his association with Jack Ruby during the 1950s. Due to the broad interpretation of what constituted an “assassination record” under the JFK Act, the files encompass the whole record of Kutner’s interaction with the FBI and the CIA (at least through the mid-1970s) and are not limited to issues related to the assassination of President Kennedy.
  11. NARA Record Number: 124-90157-10085. Mary Ferrell Foundation.
  12. NARA Record Number: 124-90157-10016. Mary Ferrell Foundation.
  13. NARA Record Number: 124-90157-10015. Mary Ferrell Foundation.
  14. Giglio, David. 03 Jan 2019. Phone interview with Maria Santelli, Executive Director Center on Conscience & War.
  15. Chicago Historical Society. “Luis Kutner papers, 1916-1981, bulk 1950-1980. Biographical/historical note.”
  16. Freeman, Joe. “Possible Assassination Records Within the Jurisdiction of the Senate Commerce Committee (Kefauver Committee Files).” Internal memorandum. 30 Sep 1996.
  17. Goldenstein, Robert. “Probe of Chicago Gang-Style Slaying Ordered.” Messenger-Inquirer (Owensboro, Kentucky). 27 Sep 1950.
  18. Wehrwein, Austin C. “Ruby Linked to Chicago Gangs; Boasted of Knowing Hoodlums.” The New York Times. 26 Nov 1963.
  19. Freeman, Joe. “Possible Assassination Records Within the Jurisdiction of the Senate Commerce Committee (Kefauver Committee Files).”
  20. Scott, Peter Dale. Deep Politics and the Death of JFK. 1993. Berkeley, California: University of California Press.
  21. United Press. “Daniel Terms Dallas as Top Narcotics City.” The Monitor (McAllen, Texas). 20 Oct 1955.
  22. Kantor, Seth. The Ruby Cover-up. 1992. Kensington Publishing Corporation. A contemporary example of the information cited by Kantor can be found in: Link, Theodore C. “Tie-In of Capone Ring With Other Crime Syndicates Shown in Inquiry.” St. Louis Post-Dispatch. 08 Oct 1951.
  23. NARA Record Number: 124-90157-10104. Mary Ferrell Foundation.
  24. NARA Document Id: 32289230.
  25. Hersh, Seymour. “The Contrasting Lives Of Sidney R. Korshak.” The NEw York Times. 27 Jun 1976.
  26. NARA Record Number: 124-90101-10010. Mary Ferrell Foundation.
  27. Rodgers, James. “Apalachin Linked to Gun Plot.” The Pittsburgh Press (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania), 05 Feb 1960.
  28. NARA Record Number: 124-90101-10010. Mary Ferrell Foundation.
  29. Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, United States Senate (The Church Committee). Alleged Assassination Plots Involving Foreign Leaders. 1976. Page 74.
  30. Maskil, Paul, New York News. “Strange saga of mob and the CIA.” The San Francisco Examiner (San Francisco, California). 23 Apr 1975.
  31. Shapiro, Howard for the Select Committee on Assassinations. JFK Exhibit F-572. Summary of Deposition of Lewis McWillie, Investigation of the Assassination of President Kennedy: Hearings before the Select Committee on Assassinations of the U.S. House of Representatives, Volume 5. Page 8. 1978.
  32. NARA Document Id: 32267344. Page 27.
  33. NARA 180-10143-10215.
  34. NARA Record Number: 124-90157-10070. Mary Ferrell Foundation.
  35. Central Intelligence Agency. Official History of the Bay of Pigs Operation, Volume 2. Page 79.
  36. NARA Record Number: 124-10198-10132.
  37. NARA Record Number: 124-90157-10112. Mary Ferrell Foundation.
  38. “ABN President Yaroslav Stetzko in U.S.A.” ABN Correspondence, Bulletin of the Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations. Vol. XIV No. 3. May-June 1963. Munich, Germany. Page 34.
  39. “Slave Nations to Mark Day with Speeches.” Chicago Tribune. 14 Jul 1963. Section 1A Page 10.
  40. NARA Record Number: 124-90157-10104. Mary Ferrell Foundation. Page 9.
  41. NARA Record Number: 124-90157-10110. Mary Ferrell Foundation. Page 10.
  42. NARA Record Number: 1993.06.09.15:06:31:280000. Mary Ferrell Foundation. Page 4.
  43. NARA Record Number: 1993.05.25.09:35:29:680000. Mary Ferrell Foundation. Page 5.
  44. NARA Record Number: 124-90157-10139. Mary Ferrell Foundation. Page 3.
  45. Ibid. Page 14.
  46. NARA Record Number: 124-90157-10124. Mary Ferrell Foundation.
  47. NARA Record Number: 124-90157-10110. Mary Ferrell Foundation. Page 18.
  48. Fifth Estate. Transcript of Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 1978. The Weisberg Collection. Hood College, Frederick, MD, U.S.A. Page 2.
  49. DeBenedictis, Frank. “A Short History of INCA (Information Council of the Americas).”
  50. Bird, David. “General Ydigoras of Guatemala, Bay of Pigs Figure, Is Dead at 86.” The New York Times. 8 Oct 1982.
  51. Gibbs, David N. The Political Economy of Third World Intervention: Mines, Money, and U.S. Policy in the Congo Crisis. University of Chicago Press. 1991. Page 168.
  52. Pekeshe, Munhamu. “Tshombe, Geneva and détente in the village.” The Patriot. Harare, Zimbabwe. 15 Jan 2015. and “Shona word chombe in the Shona Dictionary.” 30 Jul 2015.
  53. Herman, David. “Harlem Rally Demands: ‘Hands Off the Congo!’” The Militant. Vol. 28 No. 46. 21 Dec 1964.
  54. Borger, Julian. “Plane crash that killed UN boss ‘may have been caused by aircraft attack.’” The Guardian. 26 Sep 2017.
  55. United Press International. “Tshombe Reported Kidnapped On Flight.” The Cincinnati Enquirer. 02 Jul 1967.
  56. Burke, Kyle. “Revolutionaries for the Right: Anticommunist Internationalism and Paramilitary Warfare in the Cold War.” UNC Press Books. 2018. Page 47.
  57. Public Affairs Staff. “Tshombe’s Attorney Says CIA Was Not Involved.” Transcript. Newscope. WFLD-TV, Chicago. 21 Jul 1967. The Weisberg Collection. Hood College, Frederick, MD, U.S.A.
  58. Black, Ian. “Belgium accused of killing African hero.” The Guardian. 14 Jan 2000.
  59. Othen, Christopher. Katanga 1960-63: Mercenaries, Spies and the African Nation that Waged War on the World. The History Press. Kindle Edition. Kindle Location 1967.
  60. Garrison, Lloyd. “White Mercenaries On a ‘Rabbit Hunt.’” The New York Times. 15 Nov 1964.
  61. Stone, IF. “Just a Fine Bunch of Fellows.” Reprint of portion of transcript of ABC-TV show aired on Dec. 9th, 1964. IF Stone’s Weekly. 11 Jan 1965. Page 2.
  62. Burke, Kyle. “Revolutionaries for the Right: Anticommunist Internationalism and Paramilitary Warfare in the Cold War.” UNC Press Books. 2018. Page 115.
  63. Cohen, Jerry. “Tshombe Plot Tied to Missing LA Woman.” LA Times. 8 Apr 1970.
  64. Burke, Kyle. “Revolutionaries for the Right: Anticommunist Internationalism and Paramilitary Warfare in the Cold War.” UNC Press Books. 2018. Page 47.
  65. NARA Record Number: 104-10105-10082. Mary Ferrell Foundation.
  66. NARA Record Number: 104-10105-10084. Mary Ferrell Foundation.
  67. De Onis, Juan. “Ramparts Says C.I.A. Received Student Report; Magazine Declares Agency Turned Group It Financed Into an ‘Arm of Policy’.” The New York Times. 16 Feb 1967.
  68. NARA Record Number: 104-10105-10082. Mary Ferrell Foundation.
  69. Ibid.
  70. NARA Document Id 32989646. Page 192.
  71. Saxon, Wolfgang. “Rev. George Riddick, 61, Dies; Advocate for Poor in Chicago.” The New York Times. 15 Jul 1994.
  72. “Fred Hampton.”
  73. Johnson, Thomas A. “Report Assails Inquiry on Slaying of Black Panthers.” The New York Times. 17 Mar 1972. Via The Weisberg Collection. Hood College, Frederick, MD, U.S.A.
  74. Haas, Jeffrey. The Assassination of Fred Hampton. Jeffrey Haas, 2010. Pages 91 & 123.
  75. Democracy Now. “The Assassination of Fred Hampton: How the FBI and the Chicago Police Murdered a Black Panther.” Interview with Jeffrey Haas. 04 Dec 2009.
  76. Gottlieb, Jeff and Jeff Cohen. “Was Fred Hampton Executed?” The Nation Magazine. 25 Dec 1976.
  77. Tucker, Nancy Bernkopf. Patterns in the Dust: Chinese-American Relations and the Recognition Controversy, 1949-1950. Columbia University Press, 1983. Page 181.
  78. U.S. State Department. “162. Memorandum of Conversation, Beijing, October 21, 1971, 10:30 a.m.–1:45 p.m.” Foreign Relations of the United States, 1969–1976, Volume XVII, China, 1969–1972.
  79. To some in the U.S., Taiwanese independence will imply the long Nationalist/Communist rift between the mainland and the island. It’s important to note that in this case, Taiwan independence means the replacement of the mainlander Kuomintang government—imposed on the island when Chiang Kai-shek’s army retreated there in 1949—with a government run by the native Taiwanese.
  80. NARA Record Number: 124-90157-10125. Mary Ferrell Foundation.
  81. NARA Record Number: 124-90157-10138. Mary Ferrell Foundation.
  82. Kupcinet, Irv. “Gregory Back In Night Clubs.” Recurring Column. San Francisco Examiner. 12 May 1970.
  83. NARA Record Number: 124-90157-10140. Mary Ferrell Foundation.
  84. NARA Record Number: 124-90157-10140. Mary Ferrell Foundation.
  85. Lin, Eric. Various letters to the editor. The Chicago Tribune. 1970 to 1978.
  86. Lin, Eric. “Chiang’s Tokenism.” Letter to the Editor. Chicago Tribune. 08 Jan 1973.
  87. NARA Record Number: 124-90157-10127. Mary Ferrell Foundation.
  88. NARA Record Number: 1993.07.30.15:01:11:370034. Mary Ferrell Foundation.
  89. Dolan, Thomas J. “The CIA’s Chicago Front Man.” The Chicago Reader. 02 Feb 1979.
  90. And the intelligence connections don’t end there either—in the 1980s, two more organizations of Miner’s, the “Mid-America Committee” and the PR firm Miner & Fraser, would figure into the Iran-Contra Affair. The former had received $162,000 for training right-wing Latin American governments in U.S. press procedures (“CIA to Europe: Take the Missiles!” Counterspy Magazine. Jun-Aug 1983. Vol. 7 No. 4. Page 14. The later, a public relations firm, would be involved in fundraising for Nicaragua’s Contras (Hamilton, Lee H. and Daniel K. Inouye. Report of the Congressional Committees Investigating the Iran/Contra Affair. Page 86. and Associated Press. “Expenses Eat Up Proceeds of Dinner to Aid Nicaraguans.” The Boston Globe. 03 Sep 1985.
  91. NARA Record Number: 124-90157-10125. Mary Ferrell Foundation.
  92. To add a further twist, Kutner also approached the Chiang government, then trying to arrest his client, and, according to a Nationalist Chinese official, “offered his services” to them.
  93. NARA Record Number: 124-90157-10129. Mary Ferrell Foundation.
  94. Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, United States Senate (The Church Committee). Hearings, Volume 6. 1975. Page 41.
  95. Cover image. Life Magazine. 09 Apr 1971.
  96. Butler, Ed. National Citizen’s Congress Fundraising Letter. Information Council of the Americas. New Orleans, LA. Approx. 1971. The Weisberg Collection. Hood College, Frederick, MD, U.S.A.
  97. Magruder, Jeb S. Citizens for the Re-election of the President, Memorandum for the Attorney General. Contested Materials Collection, Box 26 Folder 3. Richard Nixon Presidential Library. 31 Aug 1971.
  98. NARA Record Number: 124-90157-10051. Mary Ferrell Foundation.
  99. NARA Record Number: 124-90157-10008. Mary Ferrell Foundation.
  100. Kotz, Nick for the Washington Post. “‘Friends of the FBI’: A high-sounding cause, a Niagara of dollars.” The Record (Hackensack, New Jersey). 24 May 1972.
  101. Nelson, Jack and Bryce Nelson. “Zimbalist Aids Fund Drive To Defend FBI, Hoover.” Des Moines Register. 15 June 1971.
  102. NARA Record Number: 124-90157-10039. Mary Ferrell Foundation.
  103. NARA Record Number: 124-90157-10018. Mary Ferrell Foundation.
  104. NARA Record Number: 124-90157-10028. Mary Ferrell Foundation.
  105. Kotz, Nick for the Washington Post. “‘Friends of the FBI’: A high-sounding cause, a Niagara of dollars.” The Record (Hackensack, New Jersey). 24 May 1972.
  106. Kutner V. Katz, Issues 78-2643. United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. 1979. Page DA-14, 2.
  107. Haught, James A. “How Crooks Prey On Your Charity.” Quad-City Times (Davenport, IA). 15 May 1977.
  108. NARA Record Number: 104-10071-10096. Mary Ferrell Foundation.
  109. Associated Press. “Standoff in the Gulf: Amnesty Report Says Iraqis Tortured and Killed Hundreds.” The New York Times. 20 Dec 1990.
  110. MacArthur, John R. “Remember Nayirah, Witness for Kuwait?” The New York Times. 06 Jan 1992.
  111. Flock, Elizabeth. “Gaddafi ordered mass rapes in Libya, ICC prosecutor says.” The Washington Post. 09 Jun 2011.
  112. Cockburn, Patrick. “Amnesty questions claim that Gaddafi ordered rape as weapon of war.” Independent. 24 Jun 2011.
  113. Ibid.
  114. Amnesty International. “Inside a Syrian Torture Prison.” Online multimedia presentation.
  115. NARA Record Number: 104-10225-10027. Page 13.
  116. British Broadcasting Corporation. “Chile recognises 9,800 more victims of Pinochet’s rule.” 18 Aug 2011.
  117. Franklin, Jonathan. “Files show Chilean blood on U.S. hands.” The Guardian. 11 Oct 1999.
  118. A quick note on CIA cryptonyms from the period—they are generally two letters followed by a word. The first two letters indicate the broader operation, and the following name applies to an individual or an organization. MK/ULTRA and JM/WAVE, for example, are some more well-known examples of this convention. BK/HERALD, seen below, was the cryptonym for the CIA itself.
  119. NARA Record Number: 104-10225-10027. Page 14.
  120. Ibid. Page 12.
  121. Giglio, David. Email to Dr. John Newman from Russ Baker on behalf of David Giglio. 22 Dec 2018.
  122. Ibid. Page 11.
  123. Wren, Christopher S. for The New York Times. “Dissident for Chilean Red: Russia OKs Prisoner Swap.” Arizona Daily Star (Tucson, AZ). 18 Dec 1976. and Associated Press. “Chile Would Agree To Prisoner Swap?” The Tennessean (Nashville, TN). 27 Apr 1977.
  124. Kutner, Luis. Letter to Hon. William Webster, U.S. Department of Justice. 26 Aug 1983. Released via Freedom of Information Act Request, FOI/PA# 1308978-0. Page 86.
  125. Kutner, Luis. “The New Panama Canal Treaties: A Potential Diplomatic Pearl Harbor.” Cited by Sen. Strom Thurmond (SC) in Panama Canal Treaties, United States Senate Debate, 3rd and Final Part. 1978. page 4904.
  126. Various News Services. “Swedes Reject Soviet Sub Skipper’s Account.” St. Louis Post-Dispatch. 03 Nov 1981.
  127. Johnston, David for the New York Times. “Noriega’s Surrender: The Case; U.S. Aide Hints at a Deal If the General Tells All.” The New York Times. 05 Jan 1990.
  128. Subcommittee on Terrorism, Narcotics, and International Operations of the Committee on Foreign Relations, United States Senate (Kerry Committee). “Drugs, Law Enforcement, and Foreign Policy.” 1988. Page 97.
  129. NARA Record Number: 1993.07.30.15:01:11:370034. Mary Ferrell Foundation. Page 2.
  130. Giglio, David. Email from Kyle Burke. 15 Jan 2019.
  131. Saxon, Wolfgang. “Luis Kutner, Lawyer Who Fought For Human Rights, Is Dead at 84.” The New York Times. 04 Mar 1993.