From the Files

Birch O’Neal: the CIA’s unknown Oswald expert

Birch O'Neal

Birch O’Neal, counterintelligence officer who opened the CIA’s Oswald file in 1959

One of the most significant new JFK files concerns a CIA officer you probably never heard of.

Birch O’Neal is virtually unknown in the vast literature of JFK’s assassination. He is not mentioned in the reports of the Warren Commission or the House Select Committee on Assassinations. He figures in no conspiracy theories.

Yet O’Neal played a seminal role in the story of the CIA and accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald. As a mole hunter for counterintelligence chief James Angleton, O’Neal controlled the agency’s Oswald file from November 1959 to November 1963.

O’Neal’s story is still sensitive, more than 20 years after his death in 1995. Last November the agency released a heavily redacted version of O’Neal’s personnel file. Of the 224 pages in the file, 177 contain redactions, and three are wholly secret.

But one important page was released. Read more

Dec. 16, 1963: Behind closed doors, the Warren Commission is baffled

With the FBI’s report on Kennedy’s assassination, the Commission undertook to select staffers and figure out how to approach its work.

Chief Justice Warren complained about the leaks of the FBI report:  “I have read that report two or three times and I have not seen anything in there that has not been in the press.”

The Commissioners then held a wide-ranging discussion of JFK’s assasination, including:

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FBI suspected leftist magazine was a foreign agent when it accurately reported on the CIA

Files recently released to MuckRock shed light on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s investigation of the radical Ramparts magazine. Originally classified SECRET, the investigation described in the FBI files was an “internal security” matter relating to the magazine’s registration status. Paralleling and seemingly predicting some of the later investigations of WikiLeaks, the Bureau suspected that Ramparts “may currently be engaged in acts of distribution of propaganda, acting as a political agent,

Source: FBI suspected “Ramparts” was a foreign agent that provided propaganda and intelligence services • MuckRock

90 percent of new JFK files are online at MFF

Newly uploaded JFK records include those from July 24 2017Nov 9 2017, and Nov 17 2017. Currently about 90 percent of the more than 50,000 released documents are in the Mary Ferrell Foundation Document Archive

Source: Documents released in 2017 and 2018

FBI file reveals some of the secrets of Howard Hunt’s White House safe

Emma Best at MuckRock reports on newly-released FBI files that illuminate the shared CIA history of the Watergate burglars. Read more

How the CIA protected a Watergate burglar

Richard Helms

Richard Helms

James McCord was the most important of the Watergate burglars, Bob Woodward once noted. As this declassified JFK file shows, McCord was the chief of the Office of Security, an experienced officer, with impressive security credentials.

He was protected by CIA director Dick Helms. Read more

‘Oswald was known to a dozen senior CIA officials’

I make a strong claim about the CIA and Lee Harvey Oswald in this video. I think the new JFK files corroborate my observation. But I’d like to get independent verification, preferably from a reputable fact-checking service like Snopes.

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FLASH CANCELLED response: FBI wasn’t interested in Oswald

Jean Davison responds to Bill SImpich’s “Why was Oswald’s name taken off the FBI’s watch list?” Read more

Spy vs. Spy: Soviet defector Yuri Nosenko confronted CIA accuser James Angleton

A new JFK assassination tape found among the new JFK files in the the National Archives yields the previously unknown coda of one of the most famous espionage controversies of the 20th century. Read more

What Politico doesn’t know about the JFK files

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:

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Secret files to be released this week have a lot of Miami names in them

Morley’s new book, “The Ghost: The Secret Life of CIA Spymaster James Jesus Angleton,” offers evidence that Angleton — one of the most powerful yet cryptic spies in the history of American intelligence — knew Oswald was in Mexico and was following his activities closely.

Source: Secret files to be released this week have a lot of Miami names in them | Miami Herald

Missing from the new JFK files: a batch of CIA records on Lee Harvey Oswald

Oswald in Custody

Lee Harvey Oswald

All of the U.S. government’s files on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy are supposed to be released by October 26. But one batch of the CIA records on suspected assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, has gone missing.

The records were part of a 7-volume file on Oswald, held by the agency’s Office of Security (OS), which is responsible for protecting CIA property and vetting agency personnel. Declassified CIA records show that volume 5 of the file records existed in 1978. The contents of the missing file are not known.

The disappearance of the records, discovered by JFK researcher Malcolm Blunt, is significant because the Office of Security was the first component of the CIA to open a file on Oswald, an ex-Marine who defected to the Soviet Union in October 1959.

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New JFK Files: CIA drags its feet on compliance, failing to release 12 documents

Tony Cuesta

Tony Cuesta, anti-Castro fighter with a JFK story

The National Archives’ long-awaited release of JFK assassination files, which began on Monday, has some holes in it.

At least 12 CIA documents that were supposed to be released online Monday are still in the possession of the Agency, according to the Archives.

Among the missing documents are ten pages of notes on the FBI/Army Intelligence file of Tony Cuesta, an anti-Castro militant who implicated a Cuban exile marksman in the assassination of JFK.

The CIA also retains a 47-page file on Cuesta, which is supposed to be released this year, according to the National Archives online database.

The omission of the Cuesta file and 11 other documents from this week’s release was inadvertent, according to archivist James Mathis.

In an email to JFK Facts, Mathis wrote.

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Calling all JFK researchers

The National Archives servers are crashing, making it very difficult to download the new JFK assassination files from the NARA site.

If you have succeeded in downloading any of the zipped files, please send a copy of the entire batch to editor@jfkfacts.org.

I am getting calls from the national news organizations and would like to respond knowledgably.
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National Archives starts releasing long-secret JFK assassination records 

The National Archives has begun the long-awaited release of JFK Assassination Records.

I will start writing about these records as soon as I have reviewed them. I welcome your thoughts and suggestions.  You can download the documents now. Please send me anything you think is his historically significant or interesting, whether or not it directly relates to JFK’s assassination.

What’s in these documents? I summarize what is know in a recent article for Newsweek: “Donald Trump and the Kennedy Assassination: America’s Most Powerful Conspiracy Theorist Will Decide Fate of Secret JFK Trove.”