The large-scale declassification of JFK documents in the 1990s brought an estimated 4 million of pages of new assassination-related records into public view and generated a new era in JFK scholarship. But it also illuminated what is still missing or withheld from the public record. Among these are the vast bulk of the records of the Church Committee (named after Idaho Senator Frank Church), which in the mid-70s exposed the CIA plots to kill Cuban leader Fidel Castro among many other abuses.
Yuri Nosenko was an officer in the Soviet KGB who defected to the United States in April 1964, shortly after the assassination of JFK. Nosenko said that he had seen the files that the KGB compiled on accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald in his two and a half year residence in the Soviet Union between 1959 and 1962. The Soviet intelligence service had not recruited or used him as an agent, Nosenko said.
Deputy CIA Director Richard Helms told Chief Justice Earl Warren that he could not vouch for the accuracy of Nosenko’s claims exculpating the KGB. This left open the possibility that Nosenko was a false defector sent by the Soviet Union to obscure its role in JFK’s assassination.
Warren Commission Exhibit 903.
Arlen Specter demonstrates the
single-bullet theory in May 1964.
When young journalist Gaeton Fonzi interviewed former Warren Commission staff lawyer Arlen Specter in 1966, he expected the talented Specter to have ready answers to the questions which were then swirling around the medical aspects of the JFK case. Specter’s “single bullet theory” was under attack in such books as Edward Epstein’s Inquest, and in scholarly articles by Vincent Salandria in a legal journal (see here and here).
Fonzi would later write in his memoir The Last Investigation: “After those interviews with Arlen Specter, my belief in that Government would never be the same.” Read more
Operation Northwoods was a Pentagon plan to provoke a U.S. invasion of Cuba in 1963 through the use of deception operations. First disclosed by the Assassination Records Review Board in 1997, the Northwoods plans are among the most significant new JFK documents to emerge since Oliver Stone’s “JFK” movie.
Operation Northwoods envisioned U.S. intelligence operatives staging violent attacks on U.S. targets and arranging for the blame for the mayhem to fall on Fidel Castro and his communist government. The idea, wrote one planner, was to creates a “justification for U.S. intervention in Cuba,” by orchestrating a crime that placed the U.S. government “in the apparent position of suffering defensible grievances from a rash and irresponsible government” in Cuba.
These plans included the use of violence on American soil against American citizens.
In June 1964, Bobby Kennedy was grieving, guilt ridden and getting ready to leave his job as attorney general when he received a faintly ominous memo from the CIA. Written by Deputy Director Richard Helms, a man he did not trust, the four-page missive concerned a subject he did not care to think about: assassination.
Seven months before, the 39-year-old RFK had lost his brother and his political power in a burst of gunfire in Dallas. Under President Lyndon Johnson, Helms, a canny 51-year-old spymaster, had kept his job despite the fact that the CIA had been following accused assassin Lee Oswald for four years.
Helms’s memo, entitled “Plans of Cuban Exiles to Assassinate Selected Cuban Government Leaders,” reminded RFK that he had dabbled in the killing business before his brother’s murder and could not escape it even as he prepared to leave the government.
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. Read more
On this day in 1963, the Warren Commission had its first meeting behind closed doors in Washington. As the seven commissioners began to discuss how to proceed, they grappled with the question of whether they should endorse the FBI’s upcoming report on JFK’s murder, or conduct their own investigation. After some discussion, they chose the latter.