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Forefathers of the CIA: Colonel Charles Howard “Dick” Ellis
Forefathers of the CIA: Colonel Charles Howard “Dick” Ellis

As any student of the Kennedy assassination well knows, there is endless discussion of the CIA in the literature of the case, but as I observed early on there is not much of value written about what the CIA actually is, where it came from, or who it serves. So a few years ago I decided to do a little digging and I eventually ended up presenting some of my findings in a talk to our local JFK research group that I called “A History of the Origins of the CIA.”

One of the biggest surprises in my “re-searching” was to learn about a career officer in the British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) by the name of Dick Ellis (1895-1975), who it was claimed, was actually running the two predecessor American organizations to the CIA, the Coordinator of Information office (1941-42) and the Office of Strategic Services (1942-45) for the official head, William Donovan. And that was only the first of the big surprises.

One also learns that Dick Ellis, an Australian who joined the SIS in the mid 1920s, was later subjected to an investigation and hostile interrogation in the UK to determine if he was a traitor of major proportions, who, it was claimed, spied for the Germans before and during World War II and later for the Soviet Union. The information I had on this at the time contained in Thomas Troy’s book Wild Bill and Intrepid: Donovan, Stephenson, and the Origin of the CIA and Thomas Mahl’s Desperate Deception: British Covert Operations in the United States, 1939-44, was limited and inconclusive so I made a mental note to check later to see if there might be something further in the “spycather” books about Ellis.

Well, I now have done a little more checking, and is there ever!

The most detailed exposure of the Dick Ellis story that I am aware of appeared in the 1981 book by Chapman Pincher, Their Trade is Treachery, and there is also much important coverage in Peter Wright’s Spycather.

This is a long and complex story and there is one more important source that I want to check on before going into any more detail so I will let this much serve as a little introduction.

More to follow. Shortly, I hope.

I also hope to write up a little “Forefathers of the CIA” sketch about Dick Ellis’s boss during World War II, Sir William Stephenson, the famous “Man Called Intrepid,” who is of course a major part of the story. There is also some great later information on him that I wasn't aware of either.

Ron Williams

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Forefathers of the CIA: Colonel Charles Howard “Dick” Ellis - by Ron Williams - 17-03-2009, 12:44 PM

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