Col. L. Fletcher Prouty
Leroy Fletcher Prouty (January 24, 1917 – June 5, 2001) was Chief of Special Operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President John F. Kennedy in 1962-63. Prouty earned the position after nearly ten years in the Pentagon providing military support to CIA clandestine operations. Prouty was awarded the Legion of Merit for his efforts, and after his retirement in 1964 was further awarded a Joint Chiefs of Staff Commendation Medal by General Maxwell Taylor, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In the 1970s, Prouty became a writer and historical commentator, focusing on Cold War history, the activities of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and the Kennedy assassination. The character "X" in Oliver Stone's 1991 movie JFK was based largely on Prouty, who acted as a consultant on the film.
Prouty was born in Springfield, Massachusetts on January 24, 1917. Prouty is known to have had one sister, Corinne, and one brother, Robert, himself an Air Force Colonel who enjoyed a distinguished career, having been awarded several medals including the Air Medal and the Silver Star.
In high school, Prouty was elected president of student government. He was a member of the school's golf team, which enjoyed an undefeated season. Prouty was the lead singer in at least one big band, and performed in dance halls, hotels, and colleges across the Northeast.
Prouty graduated from Massachusetts State College (now University of Massachuetts) in 1941 with a bachelor's degree. Prouty majored in English. Prouty tells the story in at least one interview [citation] of having been given fifty dollars by his father before leaving for college for the first time and being told to "come home" if he needed more. According to Prouty, he never did. He gave up football to work a job in the cafeteria, and also worked as a professional singer to pay his own way. Prouty also relates how he received his first orders to report to the US Cavalry rolled up in his college diploma.
In 1968, Prouty received a degree from the University of Wisconsin–Madison Graduate School of Banking.
He entered the military as a commissioned officer (2nd Lt.) in the United States Army in the 4th Armored Division at Pine Camp, New York in June, 1941. Prouty was at Communications Officer School in Fort Knox, KY, on December 7, 1941, when the attack on Pearl Harbor occurred. He transferred to the United States Army Air Forces in 1942, and earned his Pilot's wings in November of that year. In February 1943, he arrived in British West Africa as a pilot with Air Transport Command.
During the summer of 1943 he was the personal pilot of General Omar Bradley, General John C. H. Lee and General C. R. Smith (Founder and President – American Airlines), among others. He flew the U.S. Geological Survey Team into Saudi Arabia, October 1943, to confirm oil discoveries in preparation for the Cairo Conference. Prouty was assigned to special duties at the Cairo Conference and the Tehran Conference November–December 1943, flying Chiang Kai-shek's Chinese delegation (T. V. Soong's delegates) to Tehran.
Prouty was involved in was the evacuation of the British commandos involved in the Battle of Leros from Leros to Palestine, an event later made famous by the novel Guns of Navarone. In 1945 Prouty transferred to Southwest Pacific and flew in New Guinea, Leyte and was on Okinawa at the time war ended. Prouty landed near Tokyo at the time of Japanese surrender with the first three planes carrying General Douglas MacArthur's bodyguard troops. He flew out with American POWs.
Between 1946–49 he was assigned by the U.S. Army to Yale University, where he also taught, to begin the first USAF ROTC program. From 1950–52 he transferred to Colorado Springs to establish Air Defense Command. From 1952–54 he was assigned to Korean War duties in Japan, where he served as Military Manager for Tokyo International Airport (Haneda) during the US occupation.
From 1955–1964 he was assigned to U.S. Air Force Headquarters where he directed the creation of an Air Force worldwide system for "Military Support of the Clandestine Operations of the CIA", as required by a new National Security Council Directive 5412 signed by President Eisenhower on March 15, 1954. As a result of a CIA Commendation for this work he was awarded the Legion of Merit by the US Air Force, and was promoted to Colonel being assigned to the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
With the creation of the Defense Intelligence Agency by Secretary McNamara and the abolishment of the OSO, he was transferred to the Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to create a similar, worldwide office, and was the Chief of Special Operations with the Joint Staff during 1962–1963. At the time of the Kennedy assassination, Prouty was travelling as Military Escort officer with a group of VIPs being flown to the South Pole, November 10–28, 1963, to activate a nuclear power plant for heat, light, and sea water desalination at the United States Navy Base at McMurdo Sound, Antarctica.
After retirement as a Colonel in the U.S. Air Force in January, 1964 he was awarded one of the first three Joint Service Commendation Medals by General Maxwell D. Taylor, Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Prouty was a vice president at the General Aircraft Corporation from 1964-1965. He became a vice president of First National Bank in Arlington, VA, and manager of its Pentagon branch. In later interviews, Prouty suggested that his position at the Pentagon branch owed to his background in clandestine work. Prouty was vice president in charge of marketing at First National Bank between 1965 and 1968. He became vice president in charge of marketing at Madison National Bank in Washington, D.C., in 1968, where he continued until 1971.
In 1971, Prouty accepted a position at AMTRAK where he was responsible for developing AMTRAK's government and military marketing division. Starting in 1972, he was Senior Director of Public Affairs for Amtrak, a position he held until his retirement in 1982.
In 1973, Prouty's book The Secret Team: The CIA and Its Allies in Control of the United States and the World was published by Prentice-Hall. According to Prouty, most copies of the book were purchased in bulk under suspicious circumstances - probably by the CIA - and the book promptly disappeared.
In the 1970s, Prouty had difficulty getting his candid views on the operations of American power into the mainstream press. Prouty settled for men's magazines and right-wing magazines as a way to reach the public. Prouty wrote dozens of articles on a variety of topics throughout the 1970s and 1980s.
From 1985-1990, Prouty engaged in an important correspondence with Jim Garrison about the Kennedy assassination. Garrison had been a District Attorney in New Orleans who had investigated circumstances related to New Orleans involvement in the assassination, and as result prosecuted local businessman Clay Shaw in the late '60s. In the 1980s, Garrison (then a judge) and Prouty exchanged several letters in which they compared notes on subjects including Pentagon involvement in the assassination, the possible photographic evidence of General Edward G. Lansdale's presence in Dealey Plaza the day of assassination, and backroom politics of the Vietnam era.
In 1990-1991, Prouty acted as a technical advisor to Oliver Stone's movie JFK. Prouty was used in part as inspiration for the mysterious character "X", played by Donald Sutherland, who appears in a dramatic scene near the end of the film.
In 1992, Prouty's book JFK: The CIA, Vietnam and the Plot to Assassinate John F. Kennedy was published with an introduction by Oliver Stone.
In the late 1990s, Prouty recorded a series of interviews with Len Osanic, David T. Ratcliffe, and others in which he discussed the theses of his various books and articles along with his personal recollections. In 1998, with Len Osanic, Prouty's official website prouty.org was launched. Prouty wrote a series of articles and commentaries for the website until his death in 2001.
The Kennedy Assassination
Prouty began criticizing the official account of the Kennedy assassination as early as 1973 in his book "The Secret Team". In the final chapter, Prouty opined that various power factions in the United States:
realized that Kennedy was gaining real knowledge, experience, and political power and that he had to be removed from office before winning the inevitable mandate from the U.S. public, which was certain to be his in 1964.
In 1975, Prouty appeared with Richard Sprague at a news conference in New York to present what they believed was photographic evidence of a conspiracy. According to Prouty, the movement of Kennedy after a bullet struck his head was consistent with a shot from the grassy knoll. He also suggested that the actions of a man with an umbrella, the "Umbrella Man", were suspicious.
Prouty's views on the Kennedy assassination were developed in his 1992 book JFK: The CIA, Vietnam and the Plot to Assassinate John F. Kennedy. In that book, Prouty situates the Kennedy assassination in the context of a power struggle between Kennedy and the national security establishment (CIA, Department of Defense, and Department of State). According to Prouty, Kennedy's decision to withdraw American personnel from Vietnam served as the proximate cause of his assassination, though Prouty concedes:
the Kennedy victory at the polls, in 1960, was perhaps as much a cause of his eventual assassination, in 1963, as anything else. There was no way he could win against the in-place power centers, including that of the military-industrial complex, as President Eisenhower himself had warned.
Criticisms and Attacks
Noted scholar Peter Dale Scott issued a "partial dissent" to Prouty's concept of a secret team in an article entitled "9/11, Deep State Violence and the Hope of Internet Politics". Scott faulted the concept for being an example of a "conspiratorialist mentality" that "localizes [...] the global dominance mindset too narrowly in a restricted group who are not only like-minded but in conspiratorial communication over a long term".
In the lead-up to the release of the film JFK, Prouty came under attack in the media for a purported association with right-wing groups
Prouty's entry on Wikipedia has been the site of a struggle since the late 2000s between one Wikipedia editor hostile to Prouty and others more favorable to Prouty. Mention of Prouty's website was banned from Wikipedia in the process. Prouty's entry has been subject to an ongoing "squatting" by the editor in question in order to maintain the negative tone of the entry.
Published Works by L. Fletcher Prouty
- Script error