What Bill O’Reilly learned while writing his JFK bestseller

Long before writing his popular best-seller, Killing Kennedy, Fox News host Bill O’Reilly did real reporting on the events that lead to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.


Here is O’Reilly on Inside Edition in 1991 doing a tough and accurate piece on retired CIA Western Hemisphere division chief David Atlee Phillips and the evidence that he associated with accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald in September 1963.

When O’Reilly cites “HSCA investigators,” he is referring to his friend and source Gaeton Fonzi, who led the House Select Committee on Assassinations’ investigation in south Floriida. Fonzi later wrote a passionate but disillusioned memoir about the experience. After Fonzi died last August, the New York Times called him a “relentless investigator.” In those days, O’Reilly relied on Fonzi.

The sealed records that O’Reilly refers to in the piece were eventually opened by the JFK Records Act of 1992. The new files disgorged more damaging information about David Phillips.

In his sealed sworn testimony to the HSCA in 1976, Phillips had trouble telling a straight story about what he knew of Lee Harvey Oswald. One day he told the Washington Post that Oswald had threatened JFK in Mexico City. The next day, when testifying under oath, he denied it. HSCA counsel Richard Sprague said Phillips had “slithered” around questions about his statements to the Post.

Allegations that Phillips was involved in JFK’s assassination have never been proven. But it is now documented that Phillips orchestrated at least one assassination on behalf of the CIA.

In 1999, the non-profit National Security Archives at George Washington University obtained CIA records showing that Phillips organized an assassination conspiracy in Chile that resulted in the death of Gen. Rene Schneider in October 1970.

O’Reilly doesn’t mention Phillips or Fonzi in Killing Kennedy. He evidently changed his mind about Fonzi’s and Phillips’ credibility over the years, which is his right. But as a popular historian of the JFK story, O’Reilly should at least talk about how his thought process evolved over the years.

 

 

 

 

9 comments

  1. It was also an issue within the family of David Atlee Phillips as to whether he (D.A.P.) was involved in the JFK assassination. David and his brother Jim had a huge fight over this possibility.

    Shawn Phillips is the nephew of David Atlee Phillips and the son of James Atlee Phillips (deceaseed brother of D.A.P.). Email from Shawn Phillips:

    “The “Confession”, you refer to was not in so many words as such. I cannot remember the time frames involved, but this was what was told to me by my father, James Atlee Phillips, who is deceased. He said that David had called him with reference to his (Davids), invitation to a dinner, by a man who was purportedly writing a book on the CIA. At this dinner, was also present a man who was identified only as the “Driver”. David told Jim that he knew the man was there to identify him as Raul Salcedo, whose name you should be familiar with, if your research is accurate in this matter. David then told Jim that he had written a letter to the various media, as a “Preemptive Strike” , against any and all allegations about his involvement in the JFK assassination. Jim knew that David was the head of the “Retired Intelligence Officers of the CIA”, or some such organization, and that he was extremely critical of JFK, and his policies. Jim knew at that point, that David was in some way, seriously involved in this matter and he and David argued rather vehemently, resulting in a silent hiatus between them that lasted almost six years according to Jim. Finally, as David was dying of irreversible lung cancer, he called Jim and there was apparently no reconciliation between them, as Jim asked David pointedly, “Were you in Dallas on that day”? David said, “Yes”, and Jim hung the phone up.”

    That information used to be at this now defunct web site (always save stuff on the internet!):

    http://www.shawnphillips.com/james.html

  2. PLV says:

    Dick Billings, former LIFE reporter and Robert Blakey’s HSCA assistant (they later wrote a book), related this same story to me, but because I could find no corroboration in the literature or on the web, I thought he may have had his stories/suspects confused. This is quite interesting, especially given the source.

  3. Re: the American intelligence operatives who murdered John Kennedy. It was not their first rodeo; nor was it their last rodeo. The JFK assassination was a high level “intelligence” crime by Machiavellian CIA/military operatives (& LBJ) who were involved in operations to overthrow and manipulate governments over a span of decades.

  4. Shane McBryde says:

    After having listened to Gaeton Fonzi’s keynote address from 1993 to the Third Decade Conference, it occurred to me that Gaeton Fonzi was not so much a conspiracy theorist, but a critic of the two investigations into Kennedy’s murder. “The details did not fit,” he said of the Warren Commission’s report.

    Later during the address Fonzi recounts his conversation with Vincent Salandria sometime around 1975, years after Salandria had written his piece critical of the medical evidence in the WC report. By that time Salandria’s thinking, Fonzi says, seemed to have evolved.

    Salandia had given up on “micro-analyzing” the assassination. Salandria concluded, according to Fonzi, that the cover story was, “designed not to hold, to fall apart at the slightest scrutiny.”

    There was no earnest attempt to cover it up. The assassin’s message was clear, Salandria came to understand, ‘we are in control, and there’s nothing you can do about it! Your government is powerless.’

    Salandria got it. There is no mystery to it. The facts are all right there out in the open for anyone who wants to see it. Spending all that time down in the weeds is futile. There is real significance to being shot down in the middle of day, in the middle of downtown, and in front of all those people. The people got the message, Salandria told Fonzi. Apparently, Bill O’Reilly did too.

    http://www.maryferrell.org/wiki/index.php/Featured_Gaeton_Fonzi_1935-2012 (Scroll to the bottom for the audio recording)

  5. Brian LeCloux says:

    Oswald was in Dallas in late August-early September 1963?

    Is there verifiable information on a time line that shows that?

    And how come every time Fonzi would ask Veciana if Phillips was Bishop he said no? It’s not him, but he knows. Veciana said he was trained to recognize faces and that’s why he recognized Oswald, but he couldn’t recognize Phillips right away?

    • Veciana was hesitant to “give up” his CIA buddy and sponsor David Atlee Phillips aka “Maurice Bishop.” And later, after being shot in the head, he *really* did not want to talk.

  6. As for Vincent Salandria, he is right about the JFK assassination being a “false mystery” but he is wrong about the cover up being designed to fail. It was not designed to fail; it was designed to succeed & buy time. Many people just did not want to challenge the bullies in power who did it and covered it up. It was just not worth sacrificing their lives, jobs, pensions & families over the “truth.”

    “Would you sacrifice your children for the truth?” – Marina Oswald to Jesse Ventura in 2010.

    If you were an honest FBI or Secret Service agent in 1963-64, do you really want to go up against Lyndon Johnson, J. Edgar Hoover, James Rowley, the CIA and the wealthiest people in America who were delighted over JFK’s murder (Clint Murchison, H.L. Hunt, the Rockefellers)? Gen. Curtis LeMay was pretty happy over JFK’s death, too.

    Look what happened to an honest Dallas County Sheriff’s deputy Roger Craig. Look what happened to an honest Secret Service agent Abraham Bolden. Look how Arlen Specter abused Jean Hill… threatening to put her in a mental institution in 1964.

    Even Vincent Salandria got kicked out of the ACLU. Mark Lane lost clients. Jim Garrison at the end of his life said he was not sure if his truth seeking was worth all the hell he went though. Oliver Stone feels as if his later career was most certainly damaged by all the relentless attacks by CFR and CIA media assets for decades.

    And one of the things that really enraged Hale Boggs before his death was being sent a file by the FBI of a bunch of the Warren Commission critics in sexually compromised photographs. That is when Boggs started really excoriating J. Edgar Hoover on the floor of the House at that time.

    Then HE died in plane crash in Alaska. (Foul play? I have no idea.)

    Here is Salandria’s “False Mystery” speech which he delivered at COPA in 1998: http://spot.acorn.net/jfkplace/09/fp.back_issues/27th_Issue/vs_text.html

  7. Marcus Hanson says:

    I think the “Bishop” sketch more closely resembles David Christ/Dan Carswell than DAP.

  8. rpgovic says:

    You may not know this.., yet there were two serious and credible death threats upon the Contemporary President (JFK) prior to Dallas, Texas.. One in Chicago (six or so months prior) and one in Miami – where local police informant had recorded where a fellow was half a step away from giving exact details.. In Chicago – an FBI agent – whom was in fact the first black agent (whom John Kennedy actually had to insist to the former Director to give him a field job) was placed in charge of an investigation – after an phone call spelled out how it was to (target outcome) happen and where (Chicago) – what do you think occurred after this.. The African American FBI agent spent four years in internment after Monsieur Kennedy died of natural causes (no Francais connection – remember how did those contemporary Americans take over / inherit an Ideological war in Vietnam..?) WHERE WAS THE MIND FRAME FOR PLACING THE FELLOW IN JAIL… however did that guy sue..? look up an thirteen part BBC series from the eighties to get your visual research upon the right development

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