Top CIA officials were ‘not truthful’ with Warren Commission, former staffer says

Howard Willens

Howard Willens, Warren Commission defender.

Howard Willens, a former Warren Commission staffer, acknowledged in a an email interview with JFK Facts that deputy CIA director Richard Helms was “not truthful” with the Commission and there is “no doubt” that counterintelligence chief James Angleton did not cooperate with the inquiry into JFK’s assassination.

While vigorously defending the Commission’s conclusions, Willens admitted he was naive about the CIA. Asked about a passage in his journal from March 1964 in which he wrote that senior CIA officials “did not have an axe to grind” in the commission’s investigation, Willens acknowledged “my comments about the CIA were naive to say the least.”

When asked if the Commission knew that the Special Investigations Group, an office within the CIA’s Counterintelligence Staff, had been well informed about Oswald’s family travels and politics between 1959 and 1963, Willens did not respond directly. He said he was “aware of this CIA interest,” without addressing the specific question of SIG’s interest in Oswald.

Willens said he did not think the Warren Commission should have taken testimony from Angleton, who used the super-secret SIG to monitor Oswald and to investigate possible Soviet spies in the ranks of the CIA.

“There is little doubt that Angleton, if called, would have been as non-responsive as Helms,” Willens added.

Mark Lane

Mark Lane, Warren Commission skeptic.

Willens gave no quarter in his defense of the Commission’s controversial conclusions declaring “no contrary evidence has emerged after 50 years.” He declined to debate in any way Mark Lane or the Commission’s original critics. When another Commission staffer said that Lane made a living “telling lies,” Lane threatened to sue but was not willing to defend his arguments in court, according to Willens.

Willens also dismissed the conspiracy theory of former CIA analyst Brian Latell who argues that the Castro government had advance knowledge that Oswald intended to kill Kennedy.


I will post the complete Q&A with Howard Willens tomorrow.



  1. Dave says:

    Willens is a perfect example of how WC defenders have to maintain an impossible belief system: yes, the government lied to us and covered up what they knew, but hey, it was still just a couple of lone nuts doing the killing that weekend. Nothing to see here, folks, just move on…
    The fact that, 50 years later, he still refuses to get into specifics about investigative issues faced by the WC is incredible.

  2. Dan says:

    Allen Dulles served on the Warren Commission and apparently did not inform his fellow commissioners that the CIA under his leadership had recruited the Mafia to assassinate Castro. This act of omission must be explored fully to understand the Warren Commission and its report.

    • bogman says:

      What true patriot covers up the fact of assassination plots of a foreign leader using the MAFIA for chrissakes during the investigation of a US president’s assassination?

      In fact, Dulles steered the commission from Day One to a lone nut, knowing full well that either Castro or blowback from the assassination plots could have been real possibilities.

      • Ronnie Wayne says:

        A true patriot who before and during WWII advised and facilitated investments for his bosses on wall street in the Third Reich. Who after the war facilitated the Americanization of the German spy system for use in the Cold War (instead of execution/prison for war crimes), and, the transfer of the Nazi rocket scientists to the USA, undermining the President’s (Truman) instructions and deceiving him in the process.
        Some might say the last was a prelude to the BOP in it’s deception. But that got him fired by “that little Kennedy, he thought he was a God”.
        Was it Hoffa or Trafficante maybe who said of RFK after JFK’s assassination “he’s just another lawyer now”?
        Thus was Allen Dulles at that point. Right.
        JJA didn’t think so. Neither did LBJ.

  3. Gerry Simone says:

    Mark Lane doesn’t have to defend his arguments on the JFK assassination in court if he sues another for defamation (that he lied).

    This just appears to me to be more spin to cast a negative light on a WC dissenter like Lane.

    I bought Willens and McAdams’ books at the 6th Floor Museum last November (well might as well have a few books on the pro-WC side eh?).

    I don’t think Willens is a bad person, and probably is a very good lawyer who had an illustrious career. His insight might shed more light on this case. But if he admits that he was naive about the CIA, perhaps he’s naive about other conclusions of the WC.

  4. Jonathan says:

    Willens is willfully uninformed. Or dishonest.

    There are the revelations about two NPIC Zaprudrer events on the nights of 23 and 24 November. Humes’s testimony to the ARRB about a 3-5 mm hole in the head that had to be covered with rubber. Dr. Gary Aguilar’s work on the agreement of Parkland and Bethesda witnesses as to a blow-out hole in the back of the head. The relatively recent revelations about the magic bullet (C.E. 399) and how it was never confirmed as the bullet found on the Parkland stretcher. And so much more over the last 50 years.

    That Willens has his head in the sand is the most charitable thing I can think to say of him.

  5. Jonathan says:

    Willens is deceitful, deceitful as a lawyer, for saying Mark Lane was not willing to defend his arguments in court.

    Why? Because in 1964, the U.S. Supreme Court held that a public official (shortly thereafter expanded to a “public person”) could not maintain a defamation suit unless he or she alleged and showed that the defamer either (a) knew the defamatory statement was false, or (b) made the defamatory statement, which was false, with “reckless disregard” of its truth or falsity (New York Times v. Sullivan).

    It is difficult to the point of being nearly impossible for a public person like Mark Lane to maintain a defamation suit against a skilled antagonist who claims he lied about the JFK case.

    Willens knows that. He’s still shading the truth in a big way.

    IMO, JFK Facts should afford no outlet for his views.

  6. John Kirsch says:

    I know this doesn’t go with the post but I wanted to try and note somewhere that Robert Kennedy was assassinated 46 years ago today.
    I was 16 and Bobby’s death hit me a lot harder than President Kennedy’s.
    Nixon somehow emerged from the chaos and inaugurated a period of reaction that still retains its grip. We lost our way back then and we still haven’t found it.

    • Fearfaxer says:

      OMG, yes. That is, he was shot in the early morning hours of June 5, 1968, and died a little over 24 hours later.

      I had just turned 14. At the time, and for many years after, I felt as you did, that Robert’s death hit me far harder than his brother’s had, though now I’m not so sure. When JFK died I was 9. Looking back, I think I reacted in the sort of numb, unfeeling way a child of that age might react to the death of a parent. It’s a form of denial that children only a few years old don’t have the ability to tap into any more. Whatever the truth of that, both incidents, and the murders of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, left a scar on the psyche of this country that has never healed.

      • John Kirsch says:

        Fearfaxer, you are, of course, correct that RFK was shot on June 5 and died on June 6. According to Associated Press style (at least when I was a reporter), the correct practice is to say that RFK was assassinated on June 5, presumably because that was when he received (odd word) the injuries that caused his death on June 6.
        After the shootings of JFK, MLK and RFK, one began to wonder: how many “lone nuts” could there be out there? That whole scenario — it was just some crazy person acting on his own — began to look suspect, especially since all three leaders could, to one extent or another, be considered liberal for their time, if not actually leftist.

        • Fearfaxer says:

          The one “lone nut” I do credit as such was Arthur Bremer, and that largely because he didn’t succeed in killing George Wallace, in spite of the fact that he was able to pump a number of bullets into him at point blank range. Bremer was a true lone nut who spent most of his time in whatever seedy little room he inhabited, and was quite obviously an amateur with firearms. As opposed to Ruby, who had such a tiny window of opportunity, yet pounced the moment the opening was there, and managed to kill Oswald with the only shot he was able to squeeze off. Watching Ruby in action with as much clinical detachment as you can manage is to see a true pro in action.

          • John Kirsch says:

            Watch the scene in “The Godfather Part II” (1974) where Michael’s hitman shoots Hyman Roth point blank as law enforcement officials escort Roth through the Miami airport. Coming 11 years after Dallas, I’ve always thought the scene is modeled on Ruby’s shooting of Oswald in the basement of the police station.
            In a previous scene Michael dismisses objections to his plan to kill Roth. “If anything in this life is certain, if history has taught us anything, it’s that you can kill anyone.”
            In the absence of a plausible official explanation Americans used film to make sense of their president’s assassination.

          • Fearfaxer says:


            Hadn’t thought about that parallel between the murder of Roth and Ruby/Oswald, I think you’re right about that. Of course, that line about being able to kill anyone did remind me of JFK’s murder, and I remember a murmur in the audience when I saw the film upon initial release that suggested everyone else had the same reaction.

            Similarly, I agree with your comment about these film references helping Americans to understand Dallas. In fact, I think that in such cable/TV shows as “Homeland” and “The Americans” much the same is going on. When watching the latter show I can’t help thinking that the showrunner, a former intelligence operative, is dropping hints about what Lee and Marina may have been when they came to the US. “Homeland” also, in its first season, made a big deal about an assassination attempt in which an expert sniper fired 3 shots and scored only one hit on a person not believed to have been his intended target. That’s a negative print of what Oswald, according to his fellow Marines a very poor shot, is alleged to have done on 11/22/63. I refuse to believe that’s a coincidence. Someone was indulging in some very black humor there.

          • John Kirsch says:

            Fearfaxer, thanks for your response. Getting U.S. television shows here in Mexico involves more trouble and expense than I’m willing to go through, so I am not familiar with “Homeland” and “The Americans.” (Side note: I wonder if the producers of “The Americans” know that that was the title of an extremely influential book of photographs by Robert Frank — published in 1958 — that offered a disturbing and corrosive vision of the U.S.)
            The Kennedy assassination continues to echo through U.S. culture. The “Jack Reacher” film with Tom Cruise contained unmistakeable references to Dallas. Stephen Hunter’s “The Third Bullet” could be considered his meditation on 11/22 — and his theory on what really happened.

          • Gerry Simone says:

            @ John Kirsch:

            I loved Jack Reacher the movie.

            What about this ‘Third Bullet’? Is this a movie? Any links?

          • John Kirsch says:

            Fearfaxer, “The Third Bullet” is a novel published in 2013 by Stephen Hunter. It is a very gripping thriller that lays out Hunter’s theory of what really happened in Dallas.
            Hunter does a very good job of making the plot plausible. He is also a firearms expert and he lays out that aspect of the story in a way that even I could easily understand.
            The novel confirms my belief that the most readable treatments of 11/22 have been by novelists. If I were a book critic, I would give an annual “award” for the worst nonfiction book about 11/22. I’m afraid I wouldn’t lack for candidates.

    • Ronnie Wayne says:

      Thank you for this reminder. It was another turning point in History, as well as another unsolved crime. I was 11 and don’t remember it thought I do JFK’s at 7. What I do remember on the news in the next year was Vietnam, protests and riots.
      Bless the memory of RFK. Charlie Rose is a worthless piece of crap for his suppression of RFK’s views last year. RFK Jr’s Rolling Stone interview should be a feature article here and elsewhere. In addition to it’s relevance and insight his name get’s hits.
      Why does my spell checker accept JFK but not RFK?

  7. John McAdams says:

    Sullivan is what got the Liberty Lobby off the hook for claiming that E. Howard Hunt was involved in the assassination.

    Lane radically distorted and misrepresented the case in Plausible Denial.

    • Fearfaxer says:

      Here is a question that I think needs to be asked. Do you do anything here except post links to your soporific website? It seems as though you post here only to drive up the traffic there. Maybe you could make your site more interesting. As it is, it puts the feet to sleep. If I want THE ACCEPTED OFFICIAL STORY, I just go read the Warren Report and the testimony that supposedly supports it. For all the Warren Report’s flaws (principle one being it’s literally incredible) it’s a far more interesting read than anything you have to offer.

      • Gerry Simone says:

        Uh huh. It’s the conclusion of the WC that is flawed, not necessarily the evidence they compiled.

      • John McAdams says:

        So you were fully aware of the way Lane misleads and withholds information from his readers?

        For example, assuming your have read Plausible Denial, did you believe the jury was convinced that Hunt was an assassination conspirator, or did you know better?

    • E. Howard Hunt lying his ass off was the only reason Liberty Lobby had any liability at all. Hunt, just before death, admitted that he had been a “backbencher” in the JFK assassination and he indicted Lyndon Johnson and CIA operatives in JFK’s death.

      “One of the things he [my father, E. Howard Hunt] liked to say around the house was ‘let’s finish the job — let’s hit Ted [Kennedy].'”

      -Saint John Hunt (the son of E. Howard Hunt), interviewed on The Alex Jones Show, 14 May 2007

      Sidenote: the JFK assassination was a controversial issue with the family (brother) of CIA’s David Atlee Phillips, who also suspected him in the JFK assassination as well. Before he died, Phillips said, yes, he had been in Dallas (killing JFK).

  8. John Kirsch says:

    The Kennedy assassination represented a serial failure of what would later come to be called “the establishment,” a dated term but one that works in this context.
    The Secret Service failed to protect President Kennedy.
    The Dallas police failed to protect Oswald.
    The Warren Commission failed to produce an account that would win support from a majority of the American people.
    And the news media failed to act as a check on the government, the role envisioned for them by the Founding Fathers and the reason why the news media enjoy special constitutional privileges.
    Instead the newspapers and broadcasters passively accepted the government’s version of events and dutifully passed it on to a disbelieving nation.
    It may be that 11/22 represented the beginning of the public’s disillusionment with government, the moment when many Americans decided that their government was withholding the truth from them.
    If you believe there was no conspiracy, then 11/22 still leaves you with deep misgivings about a governmental system that failed in such a disastrous manner.
    If you believe there was a conspiracy, then all these failures, one after another, begin to take on another dimension and to raise many questions. One would be, did the people who masterminded this have a particularly acute understanding of how to exploit the weak spots, the fault lines, in the system?
    I remember reading about a Warren Commission lawyer who said the way our legal system is set up might make it impossible to prove the existence of a conspiracy. Yet much of the discussion on this site, which is not a court of law, focuses on legal concepts, even though very few of the people who comment regularly on this site are lawyers or legal experts.

    • Gerry Simone says:

      I’ve studied the subject of conspiracy in a legal context.

      People can be charged solely based on circumstantial evidence. The execution of the conspiracy need not occur. Proof there was a plan is sufficient to indict.

      (You don’t even need to identify the shooters).

      It’s ironic that when Vincent Bugliosi ran for AG, he wanted to investigate the RFK assassination, and decreed something to the effect that all he needed was circumstantial evidence, which were like bricks. The more you have, the more you can build a case.

      • Paul Turner says:

        Gerry, that’s the way I’ve been thinking on the JFK assassination. I just need to know that Oswald couldn’t have fired two shots in 1.5 seconds,(witnesses have said that two of the shots were extremely close together), and I’ll know that someone else fired one of those two-and there’s my proof of a conspiracy. But I think there were other details as well that can show it was a conspiracy.

  9. Jordan says:

    I’ve wondered if Hunt’s claim of being a “benchwarmer” was intended to imply that had an attempted Dealey Plaza assassination failed, there were contingencies in place…

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