Aftermath

Why the Warren Commission got scared with Castro

The Warren Commission didn’t get scared with Fidel Castro because of Lyndon B. Johnson’s chilling warning to Chief Justice Earl Warren about rumors that “if not quenched, could conceivably lead the country into a war which could cost 40 million lives.”

The day after the JFK assassination, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover called Johnson around 10:00 a.m. — the recording was erased, but a transcript survived at LBJ Library — and said about Lee Harvey Oswald: “We, of course, charged him with the murder, [but] the case as it stands now isn’t strong enough to be able to get a conviction.”

The Strange Case Against Oswald

In the evening of that very Saturday, Castro delivered a kind of speech-commentary on Cuban radio and TV. For him, “the most unexpected thing, as unexpected as the assassination itself, was that immediately a suspect appeared who, by a coincidence, had been in Russia, and — what a coincidence — he is related to a Fair Play for Cuba Committee.”

Through content analysis of AP and UPI cables, Castro noted: “It was neither logical, nor reasonable” that an American citizen “taught to shoot and kill in the Marine Corps, [became] a Castro-Communist, [and] that this former marine should go to the Soviet Union and try to become a Soviet citizen, and that the Soviets should not accept him, that he should say at the American Embassy that he intended to disclose to the Soviet Union the secrets of everything he learned while he was in the U.S. service and that in spite of this statement, his passage is paid by the U.S. Government [and he] simply returned peacefully to the United States without being arrested, tried, [and] sent to jail.”

Just after Jack Ruby killed Oswald on Sunday, Hoover reported to LBJ aide Walter Jenkins: “There is nothing further on the Oswald case except that he is dead.”

Hoover remarked the need to have “something issued so we can convince the public that Oswald is the real assassin.”

Three days later, at the traditional memorial ceremony to honor eight Cuban medical students executed by Spanish colonial authorities on November 27, 1871, Castro addressed “a number of strange things which every day become more strange.”

The Castro Allegations

Castro found no rational explanation to close the case once the alleged assassin was eliminated,

“As if it were a matter not of the President of the United States, but of a dog killed in the street.”

The case was closed within 48 hours, when it was “more worthy of investigation from the judicial and criminal point of view.”

From this standpoint, Castro argued some motions to the court of the public opinion. They actually became sound research issues:

  • “It is implausible that a marksman equipped with a repeating carbine with a telescopic sight can hit the target three consecutive times in the lapse of five seconds, when he fires at a target that is moving at a distance of 80 meters [with a] rifle with telescopic sight, the target gets lost because of the shot, just because of the shot, and it is necessary to find it again quickly, moreover if the rifle has to be levered (…) In order to fire quickly, it’s much better with a rifle (…) with Lyman sight.”
  • “All this seems to indicate that the rifle may have appeared there as part of the plot (…) This rifle should have been placed there; it is precisely a gun neither for shooting at 80 meters nor for firing three shots (…) It is really strange that anyone willing to kill from a distance of 80 meters, from a window, would purchase a rifle with telescopic sight, since any other without telescopic sight would have been more appropriate.”
  • “It is supposed that an individual wants a rifle with telescopic sight in order to fire safety and accurately from a distance against a fixed target, not against a moving target (…) By using a telescopic sight, the individual would have been trying to get accuracy and safety. In this case of a moving target at 80 meters, the individual wasn’t seeking accuracy and the curious thing is that he wasn’t seeking safety either.”
  • “Here we have the curious case that the accused, or the alleged assassin, fires from his workplace. Nobody who intends to escape (…) is willing to kill from his very workplace, where he is going to be identified and fiercely pursued within five minutes. He would have sought a roof on another building, or rented an apartment along the route, for positioning himself with his rifle with telescopic sight rifle at a distance which would have allowed him to escape.”
  • “All these contradictory, illogical and inexplicable things lead to the alternative that either this individual is not guilty and was turned into guilty by the police, or this individual was actually the one who fired and then all his actions have no other logical explanation[:] An individual who kills and hopes to escape, but at the same time would be perfectly identified as the perpetrator.”
  • “The latter would make sense only if the individual was perfectly trained to perpetrate the crime, under promise of escape from prosecution, in order to put the blame on others (…) It’s quite clear the thread here. Why did Oswald go to the Cuban Consulate in Mexico City? What pretext did he use? Asking for an in-transit visa to go on to the Soviet Union, although it would have been quicker and easier to go via England or France. If this man is the real assassin, it’s clear the masterminds were carefully planning the alibi[:] The sitting President of the United States murdered by an individual just after he went to the Soviet Union via Cuba and returned. It was the ideal gambit for making up the mind of the American public with a suspect who was a Commie, a Cuban and Soviet agent.”
  • “Why did he have to come to Cuba, except for the only and exclusive purpose of leaving a trail, of spinning a web? Why did he get angry when he was told that it was impossible to get an in-transit Cuba visa if he didn’t have the Soviet visa? Why did he slam the door? Why did he leave? No friend of Cuba, no Communist does this while visiting our consulates. Nobody behaves in such a rude manner.”
  • “He did not confess. He denied everything. [But] the surprising, the incredible, what increases the suspicion that the entire world has, is that barely 36 or 48 hours later, in the basement of a jail surrounded by police agents, he was murdered. This shows that the ones responsible for Kennedy’s death needed — they were compelled at all costs — to eliminate the accused.”
  • “How can one believe anyone had tried to take justice into his own hand? This only happens when there is no justice, when the guilty party in a crime that arouses indignation is not punished. In this case they murdered a man for whom the electric chair was waiting. In effect they murdered a dead man. How could he make anyone believe that he did it for emotional reasons?”

The WC Reluctance

The WC got scared with Castro not because of the intimidation by LBJ, but because of the body of evidence pointing to Castro’s allegations. In 1964 Castro insisted on them both directly though WC staffer William Coleman, who secretly interviewed him, and indirectly through FBI informant Jack Childs, who visited Cuba in May 1964 and talked with Castro about the issue.

Childs reported back to Hoover, who downplayed the key Castro’s allegation against the lone gunman who shot a magic bullet in a letter dated on June 17, 1964, to WD General Counsel J. Lee Rankin (Commission Exhibit 1359):

“The source [Childs] commented that on the basis of Castro’s remarks, it was clear that his beliefs were based on theory and result of Cuban experiments and not on any firsthand information in Castro’s possession. In this connection, it should be noted that the FBI Laboratory firearms experts made tests and determined that three shots could be fired with the kind of rifle and sight used by Oswald in the five to six seconds which were available. The Laboratory noted, however, that the timing did not begin until after the firing of the first shot.”

A Crucial Experiment

Castro’s credentials as expert are beyond any reasonable doubt. The young Castro used to hunt with firearms before going to college in 1945. He intensively practiced shooting before attacking the Moncada barracks in 1953. Just after going to exile in Mexico, he restarted the practice at the training camp of his expeditionary force against General Batista’s government. He personally prepared half a hundred rifles with telescopic sights before landing in Cuba on December 2, 1956. He perfectly knew all the characteristics of that type of rifle, because he had assorted sights with different powers. He also spent two years in guerrilla warfare using a rifle with telescopic sight in Sierra Maestra and even personally training his troops in shooting.

By definition, an experiment with firearms must be accurately reproduced. Thus, the best U.S. sniper could be used for firing an identical rifle as the one in evidence against an identical moving target at Dealey Plaza, instead of the well-known and flawed live shooting recreations from Michael Yardley et al.

In his November 27, 1963, speech, Castro had foretold: “Only at an extraordinary loss of prestige for the U.S. can those guilty of the assassination be concealed, nor can the true reasons, the true purposes, and the guilty intellectual and organizing actors of the crime remain in secret and in mystery.”

The WC did enough for fulfilling this prophecy.

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.”

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How the Warren Commission misrepresented JFK witnesses


JFK researcher Walt Brown talks to Len Osanic about the Warren Commission’s curious and selective use of witnesses, including:

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Allen Dulles and the origins of the lone gunman theory

In comment on this post about the first meeting of the Warren Commission more than 50 years ago, a reader notes how former CIA director Allen Dulles reached his conclusion before the Commission’s investigation began.

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Garrison, Angleton and the CIA

A faithful reader writes with questions about my post on the UNLV conference celebrating New Orleans DA Jim Garrison for his efforts to prosecute a JFK assassination conspiracy

The reader says he is “not aware of evidence that the [CIA's] Counterintelligence staff was ‘secretly trying to subvert his investigation,’” as I wrote in my post.

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What does the Cuban intelligence service say about JFK’s assassination?

Since the premiere of the Cuban-Brazilian TV documentary, ZR Rifle, on November 27, 1993, the former head and current historian of Cuban State Security General Fabian Escalante has said that Cuban exiles Herminio Diaz and Eladio del Valle, along with three American mobsters: Richard Gaines [Cain], Lenny Patrick, and Dave Yara were the shooters at Dealey Plaza.

What’s the basis for Escalante’s story? Read more

Jackie Kennedy’s ‘particular brand of silence’

Jackie Kennedy's private thoughts about Dallas

In a finely reported piece for Esquire last November Chris Jones recreated the scene on Air Force One on the afternoon of November 22, 1963.

Here’s the first meeting of now former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy and Lady Bird Johnson, now the wife of the President of the United States.

“I don’t know what to say,” Lady Bird says. “What wounds me most of all is that this should happen in my beloved state of Texas.”

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Chasing shadows amid the seven veils

In response to the “Does the NSA target JFK websites?” post we had many compelling comments.

Anthony Martin writes: Read more

JFK Facts takes on the NSA

JFK Facts is the only website that defends the free speech rights of people interested in JFK’s assassination by asking the necessary questions about possible interference by the online covert operations of the NSA.

We can only do this work with your help. Donate now to JFK Facts.

Has the public been ‘bamboozled’ ?

Regarding yesterday’s post on the 1971 FBI break-in that was kept quiet for decades, Paul F. wrote:

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The exorbitant cost of the ‘war on terror’

Regarding the post on the Pentagon burning the Osama bin Laden death photos, Andrew Everett writes:

Recently, I read a 1967 Washington Post column by Art Buchwald in which he estimated that it cost $323,000 to kill one enemy combatant in Vietnam. Mr. Buchwald then questioned whether the U.S. would be better off to offer Viet Cong defectors “a $25,000 house, a color TV, free education for their children and a paid-up country club membership.” Funny — haha. A $25,000 house!!!

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Dallas police chief talks about the gunfire that killed JFK

Rare video from Vince Palamara, via JFK Lancer:

 

Peter Dale Scott’s straightforward interview with Jesse Curry, chief of the Dallas Police Department who was riding at the front of presidential motorcade on November 22, 1963. Curry talks about his observations at the scene of the crime.

Who was Jesse Curry? Spartacus Educational has a good summary.

Otis Pike, who led House CIA inquiry, dies at 92

Rep. Otis Pike

Otis Pike, the former Long Island congressman who chaired the House Select Committee on Intelligence inquiry into CIA skullduggery in 1975, died Monday in Florida.

Pike’s committee was a parallel effort to the one led by Frank Church in the Senate. It investigated the CIA’s role in sponsoring coups in Chile and other countries, and if the agency spied on US citizens. Pike called for more Congressional oversight of intelligence operations in order to rein in abuses.

Though the full US House of Representatives voted to keep the Pike Report secret, the Village Voice ended up printing it after CBS’ Daniel Schorr revealed its existence.

Pike was no fan of intelligence agencies. According to the New York Times: “Mr. Pike maintained that the security agencies were inept bureaucracies that left the country vulnerable. ‘If an attack were to be launched on America in the very near future,’ he said in late 1975, ‘it is my belief that America would not know that the attack was about to be launched.’”

Dec 24, 1963: Top CIA official seeking to investigate Oswald is ‘sandbagged’ by his bosses

The spy who sang

John Whitten is a rare hero of the JFK story. He was a senior CIA official who sought, behind the scenes, to conduct an honest investigation of what the agency knew about accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald, before President Kennedy was killed.

But at a meeting on Christmas Eve 1963 deputy director CIA Richard Helms and counterintelligence chief Jim Angleton shut down Whitten’s efforts to investigate Oswald’s contacts among pro- and anti-Castro Cubans and relieved him of his responsibilities for investigating JFK’s assassination.

Whitten’s story, which I first reported in the Washington Monthly in 2003, illuminated the inner workings of the CIA in the days and weeks after JFK was killed. It is the story of a “good spy” whose pursuit of the truth about JFK’s death cost him his career. Read more

Dec. 22, 1963: Former president Truman called for abolition of CIA

Truman's complaint

Truman’s complaint

“For some time I have been disturbed by the way the CIA has been diverted from its original assignment,” wrote former President Harry Truman on the one-month anniversary of President Kennedy’s assassination

“It has become an operational and at times a policy-making arm of the Government. This has led to trouble and may have compounded our difficulties in several explosive areas.”

Truman never linked JFK’s death to the clandestine service but the timing of his piece, published in the Washington Post, was suggestive. Already Soviet bloc news outlets were speculating Kennedy’s murder–and the murder of the only suspect while in police custody–pointed to U.S. government involvement in the assassination.

“This quiet intelligence arm of the President has been so removed from its intended role that it is being interpreted as a symbol of sinister and mysterious foreign intrigue–and subject for cold war enemy propaganda,” Truman wrote. Read more