How They Add Up: The NSA, Jimmy Hoffa, a Soviet Sleeper-Cell, Captain Kangaroo and Dancing Bear

November 1, 2013

The FBI announced this morning that another search for the remains of former Teamsters leader Jimmy Hoffa has revealed no evidence of a body. However, late into the afternoon the buzz of activity at a cordoned-off section of a rural field northwest of Detroit seemed to indicate that authorities were not yet closing down the excavation site.

“I don’t think we are quite finished here,” said one investigator who declined to give his name and had no further comments.

When questioned about any new developments in the investigation, a forensic anthropologist at the site, who also requested to remain anonymous, told reporters that an article of clothing has been unearthed and that it appears to be a full-body costume closely resembling the character Dancing Bear from the television program Captain Kangaroo.

“It’s been in this field for decades,” the anthropologist replied when asked how long the costume had been buried. “I’d say this bear has been underground since Brezhnev was in the Kremlin.”

When asked if his usage of the word “bear,” which is a symbol for Russia as well as the former Soviet Union, had any special significance, the anthropologist waved his hand in front of his face, said, “I have said too much,” and walked away from the reporters.

Adding to the intrigue at the scene were rumors that a representative of the National Security Agency had arrived. All reporters there have since turned off their computers and cell phones.

Later in the day, during a press conference at Detroit’s FBI field office, authorities announced that, with the cooperation of CBS and a Captain Kangaroo historian, the costume had been authenticated and is one of the actual Dancing Bear costumes worn on the television program. A tag on the costume’s lining and records from the network’s wardrobe department indicate that the costume was last issued to actor and assistant props coordinator Boris Laskin on July 28, 1975—just two days prior to Hoffa’s disappearance.

Fedor Popov, a former KGB agent who was granted asylum and, for reasons authorities won’t reveal, put into the Witness Protection Program, said that Laskin was part of a Soviet sleeper-cell during the height of the Cold War. His mission was to substitute for actor Cosmos Allegretti as the Dancing Bear so that, during the program’s telecast, orders could be relayed to other “sleepers” in the country. Laskin used a cryptic form of sign language which, Popov said, usually made the Dancing Bear character look “neurotic, a bit wonky.”

Popov went on to say that he thought the plan was ingenious but that he personally disliked the television program. “This silly bear, bunny and moose, not to mention Mr. Green Jeans. Oh, we all hated him. The Captain, he was okay. Fat, silly, yes—but he remind me of a grandfather. No, not my grandfather; he was sent to gulag. Thinking about it, I say he remind me of my grandmother. She had no mustache, if she shave once a week, but both had big pockets on clothes, though hers were on apron, not coat.”

When asked how they could arrange for Laskin to substitute for Allegretti, who played Dancing Bear almost exclusively during the program’s run from 1955 to 1984, Popov said, “Boris gave him laxative—much laxative. Nobody wants to see Pooping Bear while watching Captain Kangaroo and eating their Captain Crunch, no?”

He was guaranteed that no charges would be brought against him for any information he could provide during this investigation, as long as—according to a statement from Popov himself—he did not admit to any violations of the U.S. embargo which prohibits trading with or investing in Cuba. “I have no cigars, yes? You know what I mean? Yes, I have no bananas either.”

Theories and speculation about Hoffa’s being a communist and a Soviet sympathizer have abounded over the years, making Popov’s next statement all the more compelling. When asked if Laskin was ordered to assassinate the Teamsters boss, Popov emphatically said, “No. He was comrade. Bear was protecting him.”

When Popov was asked what happened to the other sleeper-cell operatives, federal agents promptly intervened. As Popov was being escorted from the room, he told the reporters that the other sleeper-cell operatives obtained employment at a large discount department store chain. One reporter asked him the name of the store to which he was referring.

“I can not tell you,” Popov responded, adding: “Let me just say that it has yellow smiling faces everywhere.”

One person at the press conference, who can only be identified by a badge on his lapel which said “NSA,” told the reporters: “We may not be able to get Fedor Popov to reveal the name of the store, but we will find it—no matter what it costs or how long it takes. If a Chinese connection really does exist, it will be uncovered as well. You can bank on that.”

 

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