The key to magic is distraction.
In his book, The Man Who Knew Too Much, Dick Russell is trying to make the point that Lee Oswald was an intelligence operative who was working with Cubans as well as men in New Orleans to assassinate the President of the United States.
The key to his story is Richard Case Nagell, a Korean war hero who later went to work for CIA and other intelligence operations within the United States.
In a nutshell, RCN states that he got wind of Oswald’s operation to kill JFK, and he was ordered as a double agent by the KGB to either stop Oswald from going through with the assassination either through persuasion or by murder.
Ultimately, RCN decided to distance himself from the entire operation by going into an El Paso Bank shooting two bullets into the ceiling and surrendering to authorities. He figured that it would be better to be in jail then to be implicated in the assassination of JFK.
The story is more complicated than that, and you can read Dick Russell’s book, The Man Who Knew Too Much, which goes into extensive detail.
The book is a dizzying array of covert encounters, aliases, secret meetings, subterfuge, and cryptic statements.
In short, the book is maddening. In that respect I believe the book is a reflection of Richard Case Nagell’s shattered mind.
When I was in my psychiatry rotation in medical school the psychiatrist taught us that when you listen to a patient you have to pick out threads, threads of commonality, that define the patient.
In other words, you have to take a step back and take a 50,000 foot view of a patient’s life.
Your job is to tease out the recurrent themes that are running through that patient’s life.
We all have these themes.
When I read the story of Richard Case Nagell I see a shattered personality.
It begins in his childhood where he is left off by his mother to live in an orphanage. There is a sense of abandonment, desperation and insecurity that orphaned children learn to live with from an early age.
The experience transforms you.
It conditions a sense of distrust about the world.
RCN certainly had that in spades although that in itself does not necessarily limit your ability to function cognitively in the world. Nor does it mean you cannot be a productive citizen. RCN seems to have done well in high enough in high school. He played sports. Academically, he was an okay student, not stellar. He was adept at learning languages.
RCN joined the Army and went on to become a war hero in Korea. He was wounded three times and was awarded various medals. He won three purple hearts, a bronze star, the Korean service medal, and the US Service Ribbon.
He was an American hero, but the price of war is steep. He certainly must have suffered PTSD. Here is what he had to say about his experience.
“Perhaps everyone who comes out of war alive is left with the troubling knowledge that they did not go all the way; that they really did not do their share. Maybe this is why so few infantrymen are willing to talk about the subject except among others like themselves, who, by simply being alive, are equally guilty.”
After his Korean war stint, which ended in 1953, he went to work in intelligence while still a Captain in the army. While he was training in languages he survived a plane crash by bailing out with his parachute. Not too long after that he survived another plane crash in which he was not able to bail out.
It is during these years, from 1953 to 1960, that RCN‘s life seems to become problematic. He marries and has two children. His wife ultimately divorces him and takes the two children away. He runs into conflicts with his superior officers.
In 1959, he leaves the Army, earning an honorable discharge.
In civilian life, he continually runs into conflict with authority figures within the agencies that he’s working with. He was first an investigator for the State of California. Then he worked at the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.
He had high morals and thought that everything should be done by the book. The problem, as an acquaintance noted, was that everyone else was corrupt.
He begins to develop paranoia about the world and the people around him. Even his family members notice this sense of anxiety and paranoia.
This is a common theme in his life until the day he dies.
His own son in retrospect states that RCN never wanted to take a picture with the rest of the family. That is quite odd, and it is a red flag.
RCN claims several incidents in his life where people are trying to kill him.
He talks about secret tapes that are stored away with third party people who cannot be located.
He makes references to Swiss deposit boxes that have the evidence that will prove that he is telling the truth about what he knows about Lee Oswald.
Of course, none of these tapes or secret documents are ever found.
Ultimately he becomes a recluse from his family. After he dies alone in his studio apartment, the police notice that all the windows are taped securely so that nobody can see inside.
I think therefore, given all this, that it’s reasonable to question this man’s mental health.
I think Richard Case Nagell was a troubled man with a shattered personality and mind that became more troubled as he grew older.
He desires to put himself at the center of attention. That’s a form of having delusions of grandeur, especially so if you subconsciously fabricate events that didn’t happen.
He’s paranoid. He’s clearly paranoid. There’s a difference between being suspicious and being paranoid.
RCN seems to have fixed false beliefs that don’t necessarily hold up to scrutiny or believability.
Whether we call this schizophrenia, schizoid features, or another name is immaterial. This man has problems.
Is it possible for a man with an unhealthy mind to function rationally in constructing a false narrative around his paranoia?
It certainly is.
And so in this book, The Man Who Knew Too Much, the author takes on a maddening tour of RCN’s mind.
It’s almost too much.
The story is sad because RCN is an American war hero.
The story thus presented by Dick Russell is an indictment of the Central Intelligence Agency.
Certainly, the CIA, or an individual assigned by the CIA to plan this assassination, knew or suspected that there was something wrong with RCN.
And so, in this authors view, they used him to weave a tall tale in order to throw sleuths off the trail.
The goal was to link Oswald to Cuba and the mob to JFK’s assassination.
When people are looking in one direction, they’re not looking in the true direction. This is how the master magician constructs a magic trick.
It’s an indictment of the CIA, not only for its duplicity but for using a man who clearly had problems in his life.
Richard Nagel was not a mentally well man.
This was obvious to his wife. It was obvious to his family. It was obvious to his friends. It was most certainly obvious to his coworkers.
Someone had to play a game with Richard Nagell. There is no way that the CIA is going to legitimately rehire Richard Nagell in 1961 and 62.
Someone used him; someone fed him documents; someone let him to believe that he was still a member of the CIA.
There is no other way for him to gain access to some of the information he related to Dick Russell and others.
Richard Nagell possessed the information that isn’t going to be obtained through the newspapers, or our friends in the CIA.
Richard Nagell had a handler in the CIA who was using him so that he could ultimately set him up for what he ultimately did do.
Richard Case Nagell surely was targeted as an individual who exhibited the following characteristics:
- Extreme patriotism
- Extreme individuality
- Opposition to authority
- Unwillingness to go along with corruption.
- High moral principles
- The need to be at the fulcrum point in world history
This is clearly a man who can be manipulated. He places his allegiance not to a team of players, but to a higher moral authority. Therefore he will not go along with an order that he perceives to be immoral. His history suggests such.
So how was he manipulated? What was his mission?
Clearly he was recruited into either watching Oswald or collaborating with him. How else would he get LHO’s ID cards? The story that he tells of being a double agent is simply not believable. No intelligence agency doing legitimate work would hire him given his history.
So what was the purpose of employing RCN?
He would only be employed as a stooge, a puppet to fulfill tasks, such as perhaps impersonating Oswald to either order PO Boxes, rifles, weapons. He might also, with an ID card, be used to act as an alibi: “Look, here, Oswald couldn’t have been here because he was over there.”
He might also be manipulated so as to betray the so-called Oswald-Ferrie-Shaw-Cuban cabal. You know, it’s possible the Planner didn’t care how RCN betrayed the cabal; he only cared that he do it. It didn’t matter to the Planner whether RCN shot up a bank or went to the newspapers.
In fact, there are plenty of examples in RCN’s life where he has threatened to go to the newspapers.
Furthermore, this is a man who will go to extremes. In the late 50s, he suffered what some law enforcement officers felt was a self-inflicted gun wound.
It makes total sense to me that an unstable man who needs to be at the center of the action, and at the center of attention, will do anything to achieve what he considers relevance in his life.
And if he doesn’t shoot Oswald? If he doesn’t rat out the Oswald-Ferrie-Shaw-Cuban cabal? It’s no big deal. Nagell’s story is just icing on the cake. There are plenty of other ways to link Oswald to the Cubans.
The beauty of the Nagell story is that it cements in place the Oswald-Cuban-Mob connection. See here how it’s done. The Nagell story is permitted to flourish in the press even as the elites dismiss Nagell as a crazy loon. Regular citizens who choose to defy the media’s denouncement of Nagell, will happily accept that Oswald was an intelligence operative (true) AND that he was working with Cubans and the Mob (false).
This is how magic is done.
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