Former chief JFK investigator on CIA obstruction

“I now no longer believe anything the Agency [CIA] told the committee any further than I can obtain substantial corroboration for it from outside the Agency for its veracity…. “

— G. Robert Blakey, former Chief Counsel to the House Select Committee on Assassinations, in an addendum to the web page for the Frontline episode “Who Was Lee Harvey Oswald?”.

Blakey wrote this after learning that CIA liaison George Joannides had been case officer for an anti-Castro group whose members had contact with accused assassin Lee Oswald in 1963.

Blakey explained:

“We also now know that the Agency set up a process that could only have been designed to frustrate the ability of the committee in 1976-79 to obtain any information that might adversely affect the Agency. Many have told me that the culture of the Agency is one of prevarication and dissimulation and that you cannot trust it or its people. Period. End of story. I am now in that camp.”

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To learn more, read:

 ”5 Decades Later Some JFK FIles Still Sealed” (Associated Press, Aus. 18. 2013)

“Justice Dept. denies CIA officer was honored for coverup” (JFK Facts,Dec. 17, 2012)

“Court uphold public benefit of disclsoure about CIA officer in JFK story” (JFK Facts, June 19, 2013)

“CIA Still Cagey About Oswald Mystery” (New York Times, October 17, 2009)

“Morley v. CIA: Why I sued the CIA for JFK assassination records” (JFK Facts, Feb. 23, 2013)

 

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38 comments

  1. Jonathan says:

    Shorter Blakey: The CIA made me do it. The CIA made me fake the medical evidence. The CIA made me willfully ignorant of the glaring flaws of the Warren Report. The CIA made me pin the assassination on the mafia.

    • LBJ, CIA, military intelligence, Texas oil executives were behind the JFK assassination. Hoover covered it up so quick and was so close to the other perps, he was probably in on it, too. Every public “investigation” into the JFK assassination has been corrupted and that includes the HSCA.

      Blaming it on the mafia is a cop out.

    • John McAdams says:

      The CIA made me fake the medical evidence.

      And you know the “medical evidence is faked” how?

      You really ought to read the authentication of the autopsy photos and x-rays in HSCA volumes 6 and 7, and the analysis in volume 7.

  2. John Kirsch says:

    I guess it was significant that a person of Blakey’s stature was willing to say this publicly. But what made him think he could trust the CIA in the first place?

  3. James Angleton sums up his career in the CIA in a 1985 interview with author Joseph Trento

    [Joseph Trento, “The Secret History of the CIA,” (2001) pp. 478-479]

    “You know how I got to be in charge of counterintelligence? I agreed not to polygraph or require detailed background checks on Allen Dulles and 60 of his closest friends.” His monologue would stop only for a sip of tea or a violent fit of coughing. “They were too arrogant to believe that the Russians would discover it all.” The real problem Angleton concluded, was that “there was no accountability. And without real accountability everything turned to shit.”
    All the trappings of Angleton’s legend were gone by this time, except for his love of exotic tea. But now, this man who had struck fear into most of his colleagues- this man who had been able to end a CIA career with a nod or a phone call- unassuming house in Arlington seemed empty. “You know, the CIA got tens of thousands of brave people killed… We played with lives as if we owned them. We gave false hope. We – I – so misjudged what happened.”
    I asked the dying old man how it all went so wrong.
    With no emotion in his voice, but with his hand trembling, Angleton replied: “Fundamentally, the founding fathers of U.S. intelligence were liars. The better you lied and the more you betrayed, the more likely you would be promoted. These people attracted and promoted each other. Outside of their duplicity, the only thing they had in common was a desire for absolute power. I did things that, in looking back on my life, I regret. But I was part of it and loved being in it …. Allen Dulles, Richard Helms, Carmel Offie, and Frank Wisner were the grand masters. If you were in a room with them you were in a room full of people that you had to believe would deservedly end up in hell.” Angleton slowly sippled his tea and then said, “I guess I will see them there soon.”

    [Joseph Trento, “The Secret History of the CIA,” (2001) pp. 478-479]

  4. Bob Truitt says:

    Mr. Blakey, you were to smart to be so dumb from 1975-1979. Now that your old and small you say “they (CIA) mislead the committee”. You know it when it was happening. As Mr. Angleton said, “If you were in a room with them you were in a room full of people that you had to believe would deservedly end up in hell.”
    Mr. Blakey, YOU are now “one” of those people.

    • leslie sharp says:

      With all due respect, what is the point in clamoring for high profile individuals with possible influence to accept that there was a conspiracy, then meeting them with such responses?

      • Jonathan says:

        In my book, Blakey is a lot like Robert McNamara, who late in life expressed remorse for his role in the Vietnam war. Too little, too meaningless, far too late.

        • Totally agree. A harsh assessment of Blakey is justified. The reality of it is there was much pressure to lie and cover up the JFK assassination. Look what happened to Oliver Stone in 1991 with all the savage media attacks on the movie “JFK.” Many people in government/media decided to “go with the flow” and the Big Lie.

          Blakey was one of them.

        • leslie sharp says:

          My point is that Blakey is still in a position to testify that they were mislead which certainly impacts public opinion and would certainly affect a trial.

          McNamara on the other hand was indeed too late and could not roll back a war.

          I’m not advocating for the man himself but for the process through which he can influence. Your approach sounds like a bit of Old Testament justice to me which does not serve any agenda and is something John Kennedy most likely would have shunned.

          • Alan Dale says:

            ^ Yes.

          • John Kirsch says:

            I think Leslie has a good point. We can use all the allies we can get. Blakey wasn’t the first person to place undeserved trust in the CIA and he won’t be the last.

          • Blakey has spent a lot of time crowing that only the mafia killed JFK and that is garbage. If he believes it fine, but it is garbage.

            And after his CIA revelations, if Blakey has an honest brain, he should be reconsidering his take on the JFK assassination.

          • Mitch says:

            Good post. We need all the friends we can get. Especially those who have firsthand experience of CIA intransigence.

  5. Bill Kelly says:

    I agree with Leslie, and believe in redemption, and the possibltiy that GRB can come clean by lending his considerable weight to releaseing the remaining sealed JFK assassination records and in any future attempt to obtain legal justice. GRB is still in the game. McNamara is no longer playing.

    • Jonathan says:

      Blakey has not written a mea culpa and has not even sought to explain why he fudged the medical evidence and tried to bury certain HSCA findings til the end of time. All he’s said recently is he doesn’t now trust the CIA.

      Let’s not turn this discussion into one about Old Testament Justice or New Testament Redemption. Besides, Blakey’s not even close to being worthy of Redemption, in that he’s confessed no sin — merely naivete; which is a little hard for this former army C.I. officer to swallow.

  6. leslie sharp says:

    What would you recommend be done to Blakey? A stoning in the plaza? Or would you like to have an open dialogue with him during which you could, yes, confront him, but also present him with the volumes of circumstantial evidence that stem from the Joannides revelation and see where that leads? Perhaps that is already be taking place.

    And while I agree, the philosophical debate is endless, a significant step in this ‘battle’ if you will is to understand the realities of so many of that generation who from an early age were indoctrinated – whether thru family affiliations, education and ambition, patriotic zeal or military contract – to serve democracy which as it turns out was little more than a cloak for economic enterprise.

    I say we cut them all some slack when they get on board. Confession is for the confessional, reparation is a whole other matter.

    • Jonathan says:

      “What would you recommend be done to Blakey?” For my part, nothing.

      He still shows no interest in discovering the truth about the assassination; he never has, quite to the contrary. He would be a cipher except for the position in which he had the chance to make difference and declined the opportunity.

      I say, withhold praise until he steps up to the plate and says, “I am a truth seeker.” That’s all.

      • leslie sharp says:

        The entire investigation has been about Incremental steps and perhaps Blakey now holds a key to a significant one. His acknowledgement in essence suggests that the Joannides information would have made a difference to the committee, and wouldn’t that fact create a wedge and trump other arguments that the CIA might posit pertaining to the release of significant documents?

        Also, I don’t read praise of Blakey into anything that has been posted here, rather a suggestion that a pragmatic approach might best capitalize on his reaction to the Joannides revelation.

        • Thomas says:

          Your approach is very pragmatic Leslie and I admire it.

        • Mitch says:

          I’d be that the people who are still most angry with Blakey are those who read Gaeton Fonzi’s ‘The Last Investigation’ and who were ready to throw the book across the room every time Fonzi mentioned another Blakey concession to the CIA or limiting of the investigation.

  7. John Kirsch says:

    One thing I’ll say about the Blakey statement is that I believe he said it some time ago. That doesn’t mean the statement isn’t worth noting, only that it’s somewhat dated.

  8. leslie sharp says:

    On the topic of Blakey, has Bobby Ray Inman been questioned about the Career Intelligence Medal he presented to Joannides in 1981 as Deputy Director of the CIA under Director William Casey? I can’t find any reference to that possibility.

    Also, were there extenuating circumstances that prevented Casey from presenting the medal, was it standard operating procedure that the deputy handled such ceremonies, or did Casey recuse himself deliberately?

    • jeffmorley says:

      I called Inman about the Joannides medal and showed him the photo. He said he had no recollection of the event or the man. He said he gave many such awards. I’m not sure I believe him but there you have it.

      • leslie sharp says:

        Thank you.

        The critical issue is whether or not he would admit to the significance of Joannides’ relationship to Oswald when confronted with your findings.

        I retrieved my Inman file and reviewed the history of International Signal in particular where he was member of the board. Given his most recent board membership with Eric Prince’s Xe Services it appears that he has no compunction about the privatization of military efforts. I wonder if he had a similar attitude during his early career.

        • PLV says:

          Leslie, I interviewed Inman just as the Iraq war was getting underway. He was adamant at the time that while contractors were useful for doing laundry and providing for meals, etc., he said he would very uncomfortable seeing them in military roles or even guarding Karzai. I’m surprised to see that he was on the board of Xe. Giving him the benefit of the doubt, perhaps he wanted to have some small bit of oversight over them. I’ll see if I can dig up the transcript for you.

          • leslie sharp says:

            Thanks, I would be very interested. And I too give Inman the benefit (fwiw to him!) and allow that he might be providing a form of oversight. However, given his past involvement with ISC, I’m doubtful.

            I’m sure you’ve read the articles online about International Signal and James Guerin? Interesting that their activities dovetailed with the Iran-Iraq war, arming Hussein. We all know how that went.

            He also sat on the board of East Texas based Temple-Inland, a major shareholder in the NY Times. The founder of T-I was the political god-father of Charlie Wilson of Afghan fame.

  9. Shane McBryde says:

    @Jonathan “Shorter Blakey: The CIA made me do it.”

    I got a tickle of that comment. It’s snarky, but in a good way!

  10. Dan Hardway says:

    Hindsight is something we all should wish to have beforehand. Before judging Bob Blakey too harshly, listen to Paul McCartney’s song “Early Days.”

    • leslie sharp says:

      Mr. Hardway, yours is an insight that must be considered by all who search for the truth. How did any of us – or our loved ones – deal with the days leading to and following the assassination? And how have we as a nation processed the unfolding evidence behind the assassination?

      A “search for the guilty” is futile unless we recognize the role of the collective in the cover up at the very least. Gullibility, laziness, apathy all contributed.

      And how do we now stere the investigation without descending into a witch hunt?

      I hope that Mr. Blakely does not become a victim of that hunt, and I’m equally saddened that Lee Harvey Oswald served as the scapegoat.

      Now everybody seems to have their own opinion
      Who did this and who did that
      But as for me I don’t see how they can remember
      When they weren’t where it was at

      As Peter Dale Scott suggests, any level of denial of events like 11.22.63 contributes to the success. No one individual can be held to account until we all accept our unique roles in the failure to restore our democracy in the aftermath of the assassination of Kennedy. Have we reaped the democracy we deserved?

  11. Michael Flower says:

    NOW G Robert Blakey decides he has been duped ? Hows come many who were not a part of the second JFK assassination were not FOOLED as easily as Blakey ? Unless Blakey had an AGENDA ?

    • Thomas says:

      I wonder of some of these folks are concerned about how history will view them when they are gone. Let’s say it becomes clear to future generations that there was in fact a conspiracy, it’s possible people like Blakey don’t want to be seen as being duped or being part of a cover up.

    • Steve says:

      Robert Blakely was a pragmatist working under a deadline. His job was to put out a report.

      Dan Hardway gave an excellent presentation at the Wecht Conference about being in the trenches of the HSCA investigation. He pointed out that his mentor Bob Blakely encouraged his digging into the files of CIA operations officers who were stonewalling them at every turn. Professor Blakeley never held him back.

      The shelf life of the HSCA
      forced some compromises. It now appears more nuanced then “Blakely screwed up.” It certainly takes great courage to admit he was wrong years later.

  12. Steve says:

    I meant to write “It now appears more nuanced THAN (sp) “Blakely screwed up.” “

  13. Jonathan says:

    Blakey was brought in to replace Richard Sprague, an honest investigator.

    Blakey knew his role. Which was to continue the cover-up.

    Now he’s complaining the CIA was clumsy in the cover-up attempt.

    Are expletives permitted here? I’ll assume not. Blakey was a dumb dupe, a willing tool, an agent of dishonesty.

    My anger at Blakey knows no boundaries. Here was a man empowered to uncover facts, and he blinked. He should resign as a law professor.

  14. Max says:

    In 2011 I called Prof G. Robert Blakey – South Bend, Indiana

    I found him pleasant and generous with his time.

    The conversation(s) went something like this:

    -Hello?

    Hello, Professor Blakey?

    -(Pause) Yes?

    Hi, my name is Max, can I talk to you for a minute?

    -I’m, -uh, actually, in a meeting, now’s not good, you can try me in an hour.

    (An hour & 1/2 later …)

    -Hello?

    Professor Blakey?

    (Pause & no comment)

    This is Max, I called you, like, an hour ago and I’m hoping to talk to you for a minute -

    - Uh, ok, I only have 10 minutes.

    Terrific, looking back at the HSCA, it seems as though you were put in a very difficult and very, very political position.

    - I didn’t look at it as a political position at all. We were there to do a job.

    It’s my understanding, the HSCA found conspiracy probable due to acoustic evidence-

    - No, you’re wrong. There was enough evidence to find probable conspiracy even without acoustical evidence.

    Like what?

    - Witnesses and witness reaction. There was SM Holland standing on the overpass. There’s the Zapruder film.

    -There was 1 – 2, 3 – 4 shots. The first two coming from the rear.

    After all these years, Lone Nut or Conspiracy. Does it matter?

    - No. Well, it matters for history.

    Did the Committee find evidence that Oswald & Ruby knew each other?

    - No we didn’t. And I don’t believe they knew each other and it doesn’t matter even if they did. There are some that say they saw them together at the strip club. Frankly, I don’t believe it.

    Regarding the intelligence agencies stonewalling of your commitee, specifically, Joannides, do you think it implicates the intelligence community?

    - No, not at all. There’s no reason to think, just because they stonewalled us, that they had anything to do with conspiracy.

    What about the other things, like discrediting conspiracy theorists like Mark Lane?

    - Well, right. All these things add up and make us wonder why? We found no evidence that suggested the CIA had anything to do with the assassination. Look, if they did have anything to do with the assassination they wouldn’t leave anything behind anyway.

    What about the Mexico City recordings and photos?

    - Those things aren’t evidence of conspiracy.

    As sad as the assassination itself was, what seems almost as sad to me, is it’s historical aftermath. Whether it was the cabal, mafia, or a lone nut, it just seems so sad that we still wonder.

    - Look, a completely sane, rational person can believe Lone Nut. We found some evidence of mafia conspiracy on a local level, not a commission level. We know this because, nationally, we were wiretapping them. We would have heard some chatter.

    With hindsight, after all these years, & you don’t have to answer if you don’t want to, do you still believe these (mafia) forces were behind the assassination?

    - (No Answer)

    Professor Blakey?

    … (No Answer – Pause – then ”click.”)

    Professor Blakey?

    • Gerry Simone says:

      I guess Blakey didn’t want to answer that question. Maybe we should cut him some slack.

      As David Ferrie purportedly said in ‘JFK’:

      “They’ll get to you too. They’ll destroy you. They’re untouchable man.”

      John Kennedy had the courage but then he was the POTUS.

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