Clay Shaw and CIA Project QK/ENCHANT: No Connection
Dave Reitzes



It's been alleged that Clay Shaw was involved with a CIA operation called QK/ENCHANT, the nature of which the CIA will not reveal. But it turns out that Shaw's "involvement" is open to interpretation. The source for the claim that Shaw had a "covert security clearance" for QK/ENCHANT appears to be a 1992 CIA release that summarizes Clay Shaw's contacts with the CIA between 1948 and 1956, then later mentions:

A memorandum marked only for file, 16 March 1967, signed Marguerite D. Stevens, says that J. Monroe SULLIVAN, #280207, was granted a covert security approval on 10 December 1962 so that he could be used in Project QKENCHANT. SHAW has #402897-A.

This is quoted in Bill Davy's book, Let Justice Be Done, p. 195. John McAdams was the first person to post it on-line, in a newsgroup post of October 21, 1998. McAdams also posted another document, which was believed at the time to indicate Shaw's involvement with QK/ENCHANT. It is a document from the HSCA's CIA Segregated Collection, Record No. 180-10143-10220, Agency File Number 29-04-01 -- a series of notes by an HSCA staffer.

The document is headed "6/28/78" and "Clay Shaw." The relevant portion seems to be:

18 Sept. 68
             memo re: [REDACTED]
                   or [REDACTED]

poss. CIA connection -- granted covert
       security approval for use under Project
       [REDACTED] on an unwitting basis
          10 Dec. 62.

Bill Davy writes, "It is possible that this could be a reference to Project QK/ENCHANT. There is some question as whether this memo actually refers to Shaw or San Francisco Trade Mart Director J. Monroe Sullivan. Since a CIA memo on Sullivan exists and makes reference to Sullivan being security approved for QK/ENCHANT on December 10, 1962, and because the HSCA memo refers to the Executive Director of the San Francisco Trade Mart, the HSCA memo is undoubtedly referring to Sullivan. . . . However, without seeing the unredacted CIA memo in question, it makes it difficult to tell definitively."(1)

I thought Davy was just trying to get around the "unwitting basis" thing, but a post from Jerry Shinley got me to look over the evidence again. Guess what? I think Davy's right about this after all. Having seen instances where the CIA included documents in someone's file for what seem to be awfully obscure reasons, I'm going to go along with Davy and suggest that the "unwitting basis" document refers to Sullivan, and was included in the documents the HSCA saw because of Shaw's relationship to Sullivan. It doesn't actually make a difference where Shaw's reputation is concerned, because even if Shaw had Covert Security Approval #402897-A, covert security approvals are, by definition, covert, i.e., performed without the subject's knowledge. (Sullivan confirmed to Patricia Lambert that he never knew about any Project QK/ENCHANT or had any witting involvement with the CIA.)(2)

More likely, however, is Jerry Shinley's suggestion that the number 402897-A could refer to Shaw's onetime status as a CIA contact, which I think may be borne out by another document that Bill Davy reproduces in his book.(3) (p. 197). It is a computer printout, the purpose of which is completely unclear, that associates Shaw with the number "R402897-A," and contains the notation "SER 1951," which I speculate could refer to the year 1951, when Shaw was a CIA contact.

As Davy says, without the unredacted CIA memorandum to tell us whether it was Shaw and Sullivan, or only Sullivan alone who was granted covert security approval on December 10, 1962, a definitive judgment cannot be reached. But I must admit it seems unlikely that the two men would be granted covert security approvals on the same day, December 10, 1962, and receive the identification numbers 280207 (Sullivan) and 402897-A (Shaw). These numbers sound like their issuance has nothing to do with one another.

I can see where one might be inclined to interpret the notation "SHAW has #402897-A" in the first document above as connecting Shaw to both a covert (i.e., unwitting) security approval and to QK/ENCHANT, but not only would such involvement in itself be innocuous as far as Shaw is concerned (as I've previously argued), but it also could well be incorrect. The number could simply be a holdover from Shaw's DCS days, which ended in May 1956. Bill Davy argues that the 1967 memo says Shaw has the number, not had the number, but it's not as if someone's ID number is going to expire just because DCS no longer considers him an active contact.

Alas, if Shaw was not involved, even unwittingly, with QK/ENCHANT in 1962, there is no way whatsoever to link "Agent Shaw" to another guy Bill Davy tells us was granted covert security approval for QK/ENCHANT on June 3, 1970: retired (as of April 30, 1967) CIA employee E. Howard Hunt.(4)



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1. William Davy, Let Justice Be Done (Reston, Virginia: Jordan, 1999), p. 315 fn. 37.

2. Patricia Lambert, False Witness (New York: M. Evans and Co., 1998), p. 204 fn.

3. Davy, p. 197.

4. Davy, p. 196.


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