The final countdown for disclosure of the last of the U.S. government’s JFK assassination files begins next Monday with prospects for full disclosure, as mandated by law, still in doubt.
On the perennial, perhaps boring, question of a JFK assassination conspiracy, the question may boil down to: who do you believe?
Fidel Castro, leader of Cuba in the 1960s, was a tireless Latin revolutionary. Charles de Gaulle, president of France, was a conservative continental statesman. They both came to the conclusion that President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated by right-wing enemies within his own government.
Politico’s Thomas Maier mines the new JFK files to competently retell the oft-told but still-disturbing story of how respectable CIA officials and murderous Mafia dons tried and failed to assassinate Cuban leader Fidel Castro in the early 1960s.
Along the way, Maier drops this claim:
A timely data-rich report on the last of the goverrnment’s secret JFK files from Jimmy Falls at WhoWhatWhy.
This issue here is not “conspiracy.” The question is transparency, specifically, will the letter and the spirit of the JFK Records Act be enforced in time for President Trump’s April 28, 2018 full disclosure deadline?
“The National Archives’ commendable efforts to make the new records available online notwithstanding, overall the release process has been disappointing and disheartening,” Rex Bradford — president of the Mary Ferrell Foundation, which hosts one of the premiere sites for searchable, online JFK documents — told WhoWhatWhy.
A faithful reader sends a timely reminder: Birch O’Neal, the CIA’s unknown Oswald expert, dissembled to an FBI agent within hours of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
I wrote about O’Neal yesterday. A career CIA counterintelligence officer who died in 1995, O’Neal is perhaps the most interesting new character to emerge from the tens of thousands of JFK assassination files released since last October.
His previously unknown saga sheds new light on a JFK secret the CIA and defenders of the Warren Commission still deny: the agency’s pre-assassination surveillance of accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald. Read more
This is an edited version of Howard Hunt’s much-touted “deathbed confession” about the assassination of JFK.
Hunt insinuates, without supporting evidence, that certain CIA officers and Lyndon Johnson were involved in the killing of President Kennedy.
On the one hand, Hunt, ringleader of the Watergate burglars, knew the underbelly of American power as well as anyone. What he says about November 22 is provocative, and not implausible.
On the other hand… Read more
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.