In November I published a piece on the top five JFK files that are still being hidden by the government. Since the one of them, the transcript of James Angleton’s testimony to the Church Committee in September 1975, has been released.
Four other key JFK documents have been released late last year–but with extensive redactions.
They are the files of four officers involved in the surveillance of Lee Harvey Oswald between 1959 and 1963. Read more
I’ve been debating the question with CIA historian David Robarge,
In Washington Decode, he asserts “that the US government did not have actionable information that Oswald was a clear threat to the President before 22 November 1963.”
That is true. He says, correctly, that historians “must fairly assess why people acted based on what they knew at the time.”
From my story in AlterNet
The latest batch of JFK assassination files, released December 15, illuminate a story that the CIA still denies: the surveillance of accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald in the years before he shot and killed President John F. Kennedy.
The surveillance of Oswald led the CIA to use him in an operation against the Fair Play for Cuba Committee in the summer of 1963.
Tomorrow: Oswald and the Fair Play for Cuba Committee
In a November 2017 post for the Washington Decoded blog, the chief historian of the CIA, David Robarge, joined the discussion of the causes of the assassination with JFK researchers.
As I said in my first comment on Robarge’s review of The Ghost, I take his criticism as a compliment. Clearly, my book has struck a nerve with the CIA and those who defend the widely disbelieved theory that a lone gunman killed President Kennedy for reasons known only to himself.
That nerve is the still-unexplained role of Angleton, the legendary counterintelligence chief, in the events leading up to the gunfire in Dealey Plaza.
In his review, Robarge asks
if Angleton was using Oswald for the limited purpose of helping him conduct the molehunt, then why blame him for an ‘epic’ counterintelligence failure by not stopping Oswald?
Let me explain by responding to Robarge’s comments on four of the most important findings in The Ghost.
1) Angleton and JFK’s assassination
Robarge says that I claim “Angleton and the CI Staff supposedly were, or should have been, preoccupied with Oswald.” He says, “Morley denies that he ever wrote that, but then how can he declare that Angleton’s “pre-assassination interest in Oswald” “indicates his “culpability in the wrongful death of President Kennedy?”
Here’s how. Robarge and I agree that Angleton opened an Office of Security file on Oswald in November 1959, an unusual procedure intended to assist Angleton in the mole hunt. The CIA did not share Angleton’s pre-assassination interest in Oswald with the Warren Commission, the Rockefeller Commission, the Church Committee, or the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA).
Why this material evidence was withheld from investigators is not hard to guess. To admit that senior CIA officers had been following the suspected assassin for four years would have opened the agency up to legimitate questions and investigation. Angleton and others might well have have lost their jobs. So the CIA fed a lie to the Warren Commission–we didn’t know much about Oswald–and the story stayed buried for decades. When the truth could be denied not longer, it was downplayed.
In a 2013 article for a CIA journal, Robarge acknowledged that the CIA had not informed the Warren Commission about its plots to kill Cuban leader Fidel Castro and described this deception as a “benign cover-up.”
I’m not alone in wondering how any CIA coverup in the murder of a sitting president could qualify as “benign,” but I agree with Robarge that it was a cover-up.
The CIA’s failure to disclose Angleton’s pre-assassination interest in Oswald also qualifies a cover-up, which Robarge also seems to view as benign. I’m not so sanguine.
To summarize what I wrote in The Ghost:
Every piece of paper about Lee Harvey Oswald that came into the CIA between 1959 and 1963 was routed into a file controlled by Birch O’Neal, chief of the mole-hunting Special Investigations Group.
As the ex-Marine made his way from Moscow to Minsk to Fort Worth to New Orleans to Mexico City to Dallas, Angleton’s mole hunters in the SIG were informed at each step of the way. And, to repeat a point that Robarge does not care or dare to dispute, as of November 15, 1963, Angleton knew Oswald was in Dallas.
(See my recent Daily Beast piece “CIA Spyhunters Knew Oswald Was in Dallas.“)
And when Oswald was arrested for killing JFK a week later, the CIA concealed the nature of Angleton’s interest–the mole hunts–from the FBI and the Warren Commission.
In this Washington Post piece, Jim Scott tells the story of how the CIA wiretapped his father, news reporter Paul Scott, for decades. In the 1960s, Paul Scott and his partner Robert Allen wrote a syndicated column on Washington politics that was driven, not by punditry, but by investigations.
One reason Scott was targeted: his JFK reporting.
I’ll be talking at Boston University on Monday evening, December 4, about CIA spymaster James Angleton, founding father of the Deep State. The event is free and open to the public.
I’ll sketch what the new JFK files tell us about Angleton’s role in the events of 1963. I’ll bring to life one of the most powerful unelected officials ever to serve in the U.S. government. And I’ll sell you a book if you want to know more.
From my new piece in the U.K. Telegraph, a look at the gay milieu of Washington as the Cold War spy games played out:
As I said the other day, perhaps the best news coverage of the new JFK files comes from USA Today. But it could be better.
In this October 27 dispatch, Ray Locker uses the new JFK files to lay out the incredible story of George de Mohrenschildt. He was a geologist, a bon vivant, and a CIA informant who just happened–quite coincidentally, perhaps–to befriend a young man named Lee Harvey Oswald in Dallas in the fall of 1962.
The only problem with Locker’s account is that it ends with de Mohrenschildt’s untimely death in 1977. Locker could have, and should have, reported the rest of the story.
From a review in Mondoweiss
“Angleton was was a leading architect of America’s strategic relationship with Israel that endures and dominates the region to this day,” Jefferson Morley writes in The Ghost: The Secret Life of CIA Spymaster James Jesus Angleton. More than any other man, the longtime chief of U.S. counterintelligence made possible Israel’s shift “from an embattled settler state into a strategic ally of the world’s greatest superpower.”
Attorney and former JFK investigator Dan Hardway explains:
There has been no explanation, let alone a presidential certification, that the massive redactions in these “released in full” documents meet any of the mandatory exemptions that allow withholding. No identifiable harm is specified. No rationale is given as to why the secrets protected outweigh the public interest in disclosure. These files are not in compliance with the law no matter what the main stream media says.