Back Channel The Kennedy Years
Inside the John F. Kennedy White House

Bertie in the White House

This is a preview to the chapter Bertie in the White House from the book Back Channel The Kennedy Years by William Bertram MacFarland.
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A Traitor in Our Midst

The Soviet Embassy was perplexed, outraged, and worried – very worried. They had reason to believe that one of their own staff – their own staff, mind you - was traitorously trying to contact some unknown American agent to establish a communication link between this agent and someone, and perhaps even more than one, who was an official in such a high position as to be close to Chairman Khrushchev himself! Such a disastrous security breach would be unimaginable. Ambassador Dobrynin would be furious. That would definitely not be pleasant. Identifying the American agent would of course be a very difficult task but they had many American “assets” who could surely be of help. What was incredible was that even after reviewing every single Embassy employee’s dossier – with the avid help of the dreaded KGB – they simply could not come up with a single credible suspect. But he or she had to exist – the evidence the KGB had uncovered – admittedly sketchy but totally indisputable - allowed for no other interpretation. How could such a thing be possible?

But it was possible, and the little evidence they had was absolutely correct - they were just looking in the wrong place.

Calling the President

I had some problems, too. I was not only fully recovered and almost certainly in the best physical condition that I had ever been in, I was also strangely happy and wanted to throw myself completely into what I had been trained for or find some place where I could be seriously useful. My unusual problem was that although I was in the Army, I had no one to report to and no place to go once I left Walter Reed. I was surprised that I had no problem arranging a meeting with the Commanding General of Walter Reed – Major General Henry Schuldt. General Schuldt proved to be not only very sympathetic to my predicament; he figured that he had a problem, as well. He said, “Captain MacFarland, I really don’t know what advice to give you but I will tell you that you can stay here with my blessings until either you or I can resolve this. You know, your now unneeded 24 hour guard is costing me a bundle but as it was established by Presidential order, until it’s revoked, it’s going to stay there.” He paused, reflecting for a moment, and then said, “Captain, I’m not sure I’ve understood correctly but I’ve been told that you and President Kennedy himself had lunch together – just the two of you – in his private dining room at the White House. Is there any truth to that? I confessed that we did, to which Gen. Schuldt responded, “Well, Lord, son! That’s the answer! Call the President and ask him what you’re supposed to do.”

Calling the President of the United States is not so easy. Calling the publicly listed telephone number of the White House is very easy but if you are a VIP known to the President or his staff, the publicly listed White House number is not the number you call.
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