Pseudonym: Bannister, Earle
A cable on 23 March, 1954, mentioned that the Chief of Station (COS), Guatemala, had been relieved, and Earle N. Bannister was now in charge. Historian John Prados believed that John Doherty took over from Birch O'Neal.
A dispatch in May, 1954 stated that Bannister now had "responsibility for coordinating CE information in Guatemala, regarding government knowledge of and counter-plans to PBSUCCESS. He is to coordinate and evaluate both the intelligence reports procured by Page from Withheld and the information obtained by regular Station assets."
Bannister worked closely with Graham L. Page (probably Henry Hecksher), Wilfred O. Clower (Joseph G. Sancho), and JMBLUG (John S. Peurifoy) in Guatemala during 1954.
Peurifoy said of Bannister, in a cable on June 30, 1954, "Bannister deserves great praise: He is tough, smart and courageous. He and I saw eye to eye...I would be proud to have Bannister with me on any future assignment. What about Italy?..."
A cable on August 3, 1954, from Guatemala City to Director, requested that Bannister be informed that his two children had been moved to Burnette's home the previous day. Bannister's wife and infant son were still in hospital: https://www.cia.gov/readingroom/docs/DOC_0000920187.pdf
Page XIX: "Persons and Pseudonyms...Bannister, Earl D. (pseudonym, identity not released)..."
01/10/54: Cable from Lincoln to Director: Slugline PBSUCCESS RYBAT: "1. Recommend approval as PBSUCCESS expenditure. 2. Bannister will be making frequent operational trips to Salvador and should avoid using personal car for all occasions." - - - 03/23/54: Cable from Lincoln to Director: Slugline RYBAT PBSUCCESS: LINCOLN SITREP WEEK 15-22 MARCH..."3. Significant operational details: A. Concurrence in principle received for second interim report, stage two. Henry Gillray in KMFLUSH (Nicaragua). LCFLUTTER plan approved. Additional LINC personnel approved in principle. HQs KUGOWN (Psychological and Paramilitary Staff) support materials RCVD. Two WSBURNT (Guatemala) writers arrived LINC. COS Station GUAT relieved, Earle N. Bannister in charge..." https://www.cia.gov/readingroom/docs/DOC_0000136028.pdf
04/20/54: Air dispatch from COS, Guatemala to Lincoln: Subject: General: Operational: Specific: K Program Progress: "FROM PAGE...2. I had a first meeting with Bannister on 17 April in which we ranged over matters of common operational interest. A system of meetings affording maximum security has been laid on and all business is being transacted on the premises of Bannister's private residence. This, however, is a temporary arrangement, pending rental of operational quarters both in Guatemala City and at Lake Amatitlan...4. The contents of a cable from Lincoln, instructing me to stay clear of all entanglements with ODACID (U.S. State Department), were conveyed to me by Bannister...11. My talks with Bannister convince me that it will be necessary to give this station a great deal more briefing regarding our KUHOOK (CIA Paramilitary Operations Staff) planning, particularly insofar as it may bear on the local situation I am convinced that the station can render substantial support to KUHOOK over and beyond satisfying its EEI's...Bannister has some very interesting ideas on the subject which he will communicate to you...13. As regards my 'priming' assignment, Bannister is casting about for a suitable indigenous assistant and has already come up with one individual who - at least on paper - strikes me as well equipped to do the job. He is the subject of GUAT 366...18. ESPERANCE is emerging as one of our major supports and I am in full agreement with Bannister that he is much too valuable a man to let go at this stage...19. It may interest Cadick (William Robertson) that Bannister considers it possible to make an attempt at defecting Air Force pilots with their planes...21. I discussed with Bannister the collection of reliable data on President Arbenz' movements and on the floorplan of his residence...Graham L. Page (probably Henry Hecksher)."
05/16/54: Air dispatch from LINCOLN to COS, Guatemala: Subject: Operational Notes for Graham L. Page: "1. Attached please find sterile notes for Graham L. Page (probably Henry Hecksher)...They are to be returned to Station files as soon as Page has studied them...3. For the information of Guatemala Station and Page, Headquarters was informed by cable on 14 May of the agreements reached on the K-Program at the 11 May meeting between Bannister, Clower (Joseph G. Sancho), Page and Nutting. It was pointed out in the cable that the K-Program originally comprised intelligence, defection, 'priming' and labor defection, but that it would now, for purposes of security and concentration on key issues, be restricted to intelligence and military defection. Page's assumption of control over ESQUIRE and his high regard for ESQUIRE's ability were noted. (REDACTION)'s threefold duties, intelligence, KUGOWN (Psychological and Paramilitary Staff) appeals to the Army and recruitment in Guatemala City garrisons-were listed. It was explained that Burnette would handle the backstopping and commo for Page, and that Burnette's diplomatic status provided Page more protection than Clower, as a bodyguard, could provide. A separate cable was sent on the use of Clower as the case officer on ESCOBILLA, SEMANTIC and SECANT (Major Enrique Trinidad Oliva). 4. LINCOLN would appreciate cabled confirmation that Burnette has taken over the backstopping and commo responsibilities for Page. 5. Bannister is hereby informed that the responsibility for coordinating CE information in Guatemala, regarding government knowledge of and counter-plans to PBSUCCESS, devolves on him. He is to coordinate and evaluate both the intelligence reports procured by Page from (REDACTION) and the information obtained by regular Station assets. (REDACTION). Jerome C. Dunbar."
06/08/54: Telegram from Guatemala Station to Operation PBSUCCESS Headquarters in Florida: "780. 1. Govt declared suspension constitutional guarantees at 4 a.m. 8 June. 2. This most drastic step taken in recent times by WSBURNT (Guatemala) govt. 3. Morning edition Impacto seized. 4. Declaration curfew possible. 5. Plane reported dropped leaflets over Quetzaltenango night 7 June. 6. Fear panic spreading in government circles and offices. Constant meetings govt high command with Fortuny ranking Commies attending. Fortuny allegedly successfully recommending policy appeasement toward ODYOKE (U. S. Government). Bannister comment: Believe govt becoming desperate attempting shore up position. Suspension guarantees and subsequent activities repression may rebound govt detriment rather than benefit. Consider army key situation and believe army situation again becoming fluid. Flight ESODICS caused sensation showed army not whole heartedly supporting govt. Individual army officers griping at constant state alert and believed dissatisfaction could mount to point action if govt makes foolish moves in attempting keep afloat. Sources: ESPARTO, ESCHEL, ESPERANCE, ESCONSON–2."
06/11/54: Courier dispatch from COS, Guatemala to LINCOLN: Subject: Operational Letter from Eufracio: "1. Attached is a copy of a letter which Wilfred O. Clower (Joseph G. Sancho) received on the night of 9 June 1954 from Eufracio. 2. The original letter complete with key is being forwarded to (REDACTION) for Ontrich (Nestor Sanchez). True copies are being forwarded to Lincoln and Headquarters. 3. Clower reports that Eufracio's morale is very high and that he and his helpers are anxious, willing and apparently able to make a great contribution to the cause. It would be greatly appreciated if Calligeris (Carlos Castillo Armas) could forward a short note to Eufracio...4. Wilfred O. Clower has done an outstanding job in his contacts with Eufracio, ESCOBILLA and SECANT (Major Enrique Trinidad Oliva). Since their morale was very low after the SEMANTIC flap, it was necessary for him to 'spin a few tales' including statements to the effect that he, Clower, had previously been in (REDACTION), that he knew Ontrich and Cadick (William Robertson), and that he had also met Calligeris briefly at one time. All this was told them not only for purposes of authentication but also to give a little more weight to his words of hope and encouragement. Apparently Eufracio and the others have been very highly impressed by Clower and they have tended to look to him for encouragement, instructions, and guidance. In all cases he has given instructions only when such had to be given to prevent them for incurring some risk which he considered to be foolhardy or impractical. 5. In view of the above, I would greatly appreciate Ontrich giving SEMANTIC, SECANT and any of the others who have or may go to (REDACTION) and who have been in contact with Clower the story that Clower is a trusted and skilled Calligeris representative. Earle N. Bannister."
06/17/54: Telegram from the Guatemala Station to Operation PBSUCCESS Headquarters in Florida: 566. "Ref: LINC 3838. (2) In view critical situation, ripe psychological moment and in compliance requests made reference, and since did not know when ESQUIRE would arrive, Bannister made cold approach (REDACTION) on morning 15 June. (REDACTION) convinced Bannister pilot who had come with special instructions from Consejo (SCOMBER) for fast action part of (REDACTION). Knows Bannister only by true first name. 2. (REDACTION) firmly told that time is come, that he get moving, take over army, and that time last opportunity for army to salvage its honor and even existence. 3. He agreed. Added he and SUMAC–2 (Lt. Colonel Jose Angel Sanchez Barillas) fully working together and would draw up plan of action. Wanted STANDEL–1 (Colonel Carlos Enrique Diaz) eliminated by Consejo or Calligeris people. Was told that this his problem and he expected to handle. If impossible take care one man what percentage have army. 4. Second meeting with ESQUIRE and Bannister morning 16 June. Said he and SUMAC–2 sure they can take over army but will need show of strength on part of opposition. Requested that P–38 drop bomb directly in center hippodrome located just west of La Aurora airport. Also requested that planes buzz 15 June demonstration and if possible drop tear gas. He told the bomb could be dropped and possibly tear gas as well. 5. Vitally important this be done. Suggest at least one loud bomb on hippodrome. They plan seize control from Diaz and Dove. 6. (REDACTION) said all gear dropped Guatelon was turned over by campesinos to Guardia Civil who handed it to army. Army very frightened sight these weapons. Was told this was psychological drop for that purpose but that real drops also being made. Told he better move fast. He agreed. Said he would put guards around all Embassies as soon as they move so that foe cannot escape. Said Arbenz, Commies, and enemies will be executed..."
06/23/54: Telegram from the Guatemala Station to Operation PBSUCCESS Headquarters in Florida: "932. 1. Bannister talked 1530 hours afternoon 22 June with sergeant WSBURNT (Guatemala) army who stationed with 150 men and 2 camouflaged tanks along old aqueduct located 13 Avenue and Calle de las Conchas in south of city. They had 8 mgs. 2. Sergeant said he and men were terrified at possibility air bombardment and added that his commander, whose name he could not give though saying he a jefe rather than an officer, had stated army might have to turn against Arbenz. (Jefe is applied to officers of major up in rank). 3. Sergeant stated communications from Base Militar to palace now cut, that many soldiers were injured in strafing attack and that he “can not take more of that”. He refused to give his name, unit, or other information except that he from Base Militar. 4. Also stated troops stationed along Barranca around cemetery and along Barranca to north of Matamoros. 5. Impression given by sergeant and two soldiers that they scared to death and would welcome opportunity to fold up."
06/28/54: Telegram from the Guatemala Station to Operation PBSUCCESS Headquarters in Florida: "992. Re: GUAT 990. (2) 1. We have been double-crossed. 2. (REDACTION) formed junta and announced it over TGW at 1145. (REDACTION) renounced presidency, kept chief armed forces. (REDACTION) Min Defense. (REDACTION) Minister of Gobernacion. (REDACTION) asked (REDACTION) remain. This complete violation agreement 7 hours earlier. 3. With (REDACTION) failure, issue became readiness of junta negotiate with Calligeris (Carlos Castillo Armas). JMBLUG (John S. Peurifoy), JMBLUG-1, ESQUIRE, Bannister, Nutting spent from 1200 to 1415 with junta. (REDACTION) spoke for junta. They refused give yes or no to JMBLUG question whether they would meet Calligeris. Evaded all issues, praised their own anti-communism, slandered Calligeris, cried have beaten army retain power in nation. 4. Urgently recommend bombing Adam (Guatemala City) this afternoon. 5. Next mtg 1730, same participants. Bombs would persuade them fast."
06/30/54: Telegram to Guatemala Station: "07299. For JMBLUG (John S. Peurifoy) and Bannister from Ascham (Allen Dulles), Ordway (General Charles P. Cabell) and Whiting (Frank G. Wisner). 1. To JMBLUG and all hands at Station heartiest congratulations upon outcome developments past forty-eight hours. Great victory has been won and what is now required is consolidation of achievements and shoring up of gains. 2. Accomplishments of KUBARK (CIA) station have been outstanding and all hands should know that all at hqs realize what they have achieved under extraordinarily difficult circumstances. 3. Concerning role played by JMBLUG although no surprise to those of us familiar with his record, we would like him to know we feel he has surpassed even our greatest expectations. He can take great comfort and satisfaction from fact that his accomplishments are already well known and fully appreciated in all important quarters of govt. His inspiring and steadfast leadership and his wholehearted support and cooperation with our efforts and our personnel are deeply appreciated and we trust he not disappointed that we embarked upon this operation together." - - - 06/30/54: Cable from Guatemala City to Director: FOR ASCHAM AND WHITING FROM JMBLUG: ..."Bannister deserves great praise: He is tough, smart and courageous. He and I saw eye to eye...I would be proud to have Bannister with me on any future assignment. What about Italy?..." https://www.cia.gov/readingroom/docs/DOC_0000924688.pdf
08/24/54: Telegram from Guatemala Station: ..."C. Though Calligeris (Carlos Castillo Armas) told Bannister that (REDACTION) was responsible for 2 August uprising, ZPSECANT stated (REDACTION) was loyal and acted correctly...H. Calligeris told Bannister evening 20 August that he needs aid in immediately obtaining two armored scout cars for palace guard. Bannister referred him to JMBLUG (John S. Peurifoy)...J. (REDACTION) told Bannister 18 August morning that he hopes reach working agreement with Calligeris but when asked what reaction would be if this proved impossible and it became necessary overthrow Calligeris Bannister replied that it most desirable he and Calligeris reach working agreement. Believed essential that Hqs consider possibility that (REDACTION) followers may rise against Calligeris as last resort if they find it impossible continue collaborate with him...M. Meanwhile Calligeris promised Bannister that he intends divide air force between Puerto San Jose and Puerto Barrios, strengthen Quetzaltenango, Quiche, Zacapa garrisons to point where these will have two companies 80 mm mortars, two companies 60 mm mortars, and two companies heavy weapons each plus one observation plane. Each will make daily flights over surrounding countryside. At same time these key bases will become centers of intensive training of anti-Communist army reserve for future eventualities...S. Recognize this policy matter but (REDACTION) and Calligeris have asked Bannister for advice. Calligeris urgently asked for instructions."
John Prados, Safe for Democracy, The Secret Wars of the CIA (Ivan Dee, Chicago, 2006)
Page 110: ..."For Guatemala the CIA preferred a strong ambassador to work with the agency. Some also thought CIA station chief Birch O'Neil too cautious for a swashbuckling covert action, so pressure developed to transfer him also. Criticized as too ready to accept the ambassador's dictates, objecting to the use of propaganda created elsewhere, deficient in reporting on labor, and tolerating poor security, O'Neil's days were numbered. He would be replaced by John Doherty, cryptonym 'Tranger'..."