The CIA’s modified limited hangout: Politico on the spy chief who lied about JFK

RFK and John McCone

“Did your guys do it?” RFK asked CIA director John McCone after JFK was killed. (photo credit: CIA)


Phil Shenon continues his intrepid reporting on the assassination of JFK with a report in POLITICO Magazine.on the findings of the CIA’s in-house historian that former director John McCone covered up key information from assassination investigators.

The CIA, it turns out, has confirmed that yet another senior agency official–McCone–withheld significant information from  the Warren Commission. The story is accompanied by the agency’s assurances–and Shenon’s–that the Warren Commission’s conclusions about who killed JFK were correct in every respect.

The weakness of this claim should be obvious. If the Warren Commission investigation was compromised from the top by CIA officers–and now even the agency belatedly agrees it was–then confidence in its findings must be reduced. Logically, one cannot impugn the investigation without impugning its findings.

But the CIA is willing to try.

The modified limited hangout

The CIA is now playing defense against the widespread and accurate public perception that it is not being forthcoming about JFK’s assassination. The agency, for example, retains 1,100 JFK assassination records that it may or may not release as mandated by law in October 2017.

Some of these files are potentially explosive. See “7 JFK files the CIA still conceals.”

The CIA’s cooperation with Shenon, along with its release last month of presidential daily briefings from the Kennedy era, are intended to show the public that the agency is being candid, willing to admit mistakes, and so on.

To be sure,the agency’s very limited disclosures are something of a contribution to the record of JFK’s assassination.

A  November 25, 1963, briefing for President Johnson, was revealing. It showed what the CIA wasn’t telling the White House. The agency didn’t care to share just how much senior officers knew about the obscure Lee H. Oswald before President Kennedy was killed.

The Politico story shows that McCone dutifully went along with another aspect of the CIA cover-up. He knew about–but did not tell the Warren Commision about–the CIA’s conspiracies to kill Castro, leader of the communist revolution in Cuba.

So we can now say, without fear of contradiction, that the top three officers of the CIA did not cooperate with the investigation of JFK’s murder.

Deputy director Richard Helms and counterintelligence chief James Angleton took the lead in the CIA cover-up and McCone followed.

The CIA is engaged in what one conspirator in the Watergate era called “the modified limited hangout.” This is the Washington art of disclosing lesser crimes and misdemeanors in service of hiding greater wrongdoing.

Now in 2015

This is a sorry episode in American history that invites–nay, demands–public suspicion.

The Politico story tells us that Director John McCone’s control of the CIA in 1963 was nominal. It confirms that senior CIA officials agreed they should not cooperate with law enforcement efforts to investigate President Kennedy’s murder. And it shows that CIA officials today–52 years later!–feel the need to manage the problem of secrecy around JFK’s assassination. Fifty two years later.

The good news is that when Washington officials with something to hide go into “modified limited hangout” mode, they are usually in trouble, and frequently subject to more embarrassing disclosures.

The bad news is that “perception management,” which is what the CIA is now engaged in, is often successful.

The JFK acid test will come in October 2017. That’s when the CIA is supposed to release those 1,100 documents. As Politico and JFK Facts have reported, those documents could be embarrassing for the agency.

Politico’s mistake

Shenon makes one significant mistake in his piece where he writes:

“Robert Kennedy’s friends and family acknowledged years later that he never stopped fearing that Castro was behind his brother’s death.”

This is not factually supported. From the moment his brother was attacked,  Bobby Kennedy suspected anti-Castro Cubans and/or organized crime figures were responsible.

With hours of the assassination, RFK met personally with McCone. He asked McCone if CIA people were behind his brother’s murder. McCone said no.

A few days later, Bobby and Jackie Kennedy told a friend, William Walton, that they believed JFK was the victim of a domestic, not foreign, conspiracy.

In fact, as David Talbot’s book Brothers, shows in detail Bobby’s conspiratorial suspicions rarely, if ever, settled on JFK’s enemies on the left. Bobby and Jackie asked William Walton to tell high-level contacts in Moscow that, despite Oswald’s leftist politics, they did not hold the Soviet Union responsible for events in Dallas.

In an email, Talbot wrote, “Phil Shenon continues to recycle the myth — long propagated in CIA circles — that Fidel Castro was behind the JFK assassination. He now adds another piece of disinformation, asserting that Robert Kennedy also fell for this CIA propaganda line. This is completely false. I interviewed over 150 close friends, colleagues and family members of Bobby Kennedy, including Kennedy administration officials and insiders, for my book. NONE of them indicated to me that Castro was among Bobby’s leading suspects in the assassination of his brother.”

“Instead, they said that RFK immediately focused on the CIA and its ANTI-Castro operation as the source of the plot against President Kennedy. My sources included close advisors of Bobby Kennedy like Adam Walinsky, Frank Mankiewicz, Ed Guthman, Richard Goodwin — as well as assassination researchers with whom Bobby Kennedy met during his secret search for the truth.”

Which only makes sense. If top CIA officials blocked a full investigation of the murder of a sitting president, they had something to hide. Bobby Kennedy knew that in the 1960s. And, now a half century later, we know that CIA officials still have something to hide: the 1,100 documents scheduled for release in 2017, especially the “7 JFK files the CIA still keeps secret.”











Dealey Plaza closed for JFK miniseries

Dealey Plaza in downtown Dallas will be closed this week for the filming of a miniseries about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy

When I was in Dallas on the 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination I watched a contracted work crew scraping off the painted white X marking the exactly spot on Elm Street where President Kennedy shot down. Out out damned spot, cried Lady Macbeth as did the Dallas city fathers. The stain must be excised.

The white X has returned to Dealey Plaza and so has mythmaker Stephen King, according to KDFW.  The inventive and prolific novelist is staging his time travel JFK yarn, November 22, 1963 on the scene of the crime,

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The latest legal brief in Morley v. CIA

Joannides medal

Retired CIA officer George Joannides (left) received the Career Intelligence Medal in 1981, two years after misleading House investigators about what he knew about Lee Oswald. (Photo credit: CIA)

Here’s the latest legal brief that I have filed in my Freedom of Information Act lawsuit seeking long secret CIA records relevant to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

The brief, written by my attorney Jim Lesar, challenges the CIA’s contention that the disclosures forced by Morley v. CIA have no “public benefit.” Understandably worried about the agency’s credibility on the JFK story, the CIA’s lawyers are essentially arguing that the lawsuit is frivolous.

The CIA’s problem is that more than 30 news organizations worldwide disagree. New sites ranging  from New York Times to the Dallas Morning News to the Huffington Post to the UK’s Daily Mail covered the lawsuit and the resulting disclosures.

Read more

How Dallas led to Beatlemania 

Source: Krerowicz will discuss how the assassination of Kennedy helped Beatlemania flourish.

Who did Jackie Kennedy think killed her husband?

Jackie Kennedy’s private thoughts about Dallas

A few things are known for sure. First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, 34 years old and dressed in a U.S.-made knock off of a pink Chanel suit, was looking at her husband’s face with concern from inches away when a bullet shattered his head.

After that horrible moment, Jackie had to pull herself together, give Jack the funeral he deserved. She assumed that her husband’s enemies had killed him. A week after the assassination, she and her brother-in-law Robert Kennedy confided in a friend, William Walton. They said they believed Dallas was the work of a high-level domestic plot, meaning JFK’s enemies on the political right.

But mostly Jackie didn’t want to think about who killed Jack. She was close to insane with grief, clutching to her brother-in-law who was devastated as well. She was often suicidal. And so Jackie fades from the crime story. The men who dominate the discussions of JFK conspiracy theories are often united in ignoring the views of the woman closest to the crime.

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JFK at the movies: ”Umbrella Man,’ a story of obsession

In “The Umbrella Man,” a film co-written by Rome (NY) natives Michael and Joe Grasso, Peter Brennan spirals into grief after the death of his young son while clinging to the conspiracy theories surrounding the mystery of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination.

Source: Local ties reign in ‘Umbrella Man,’ showing to be held at MWPAI – News – Uticaod – Utica, NY

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The Garrison Group: What one top CIA official said about Clay Shaw

Wistar Janney, CIA officer

Wistar Janney, CIA officer who monitored Jim Garrison

In response to a JFK Facts post on the CIA’s still-secret file on New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison, author Peter Janney  sent the following comment about the CIA’s secret monitoring of Garrison’s JFK investigation.

The fact that counterintelligence chief Jim Angleton oversaw this effort is very telling. Angleton’ job was to prevent penetration of the agency  by a foreign powers. Yet his Garrison Group showed no interest in whether Garrison was cooperating with or advancing the agenda of another intelligence service. So why did Angleton care? To me the most plausible explanation is that Angleton feared Garrison might uncovered evidence of a counterintelligence operation in New Orleans or Angleton’s pre-assassination interest in Oswald. Or both.

To the story Janney, the son of a CIA officer, adds an important detail that I had forgotten.

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What the CIA and Cuba are hiding in their JFK files?

Why should the U.S. and Cuba open their JFK assassination files now?

Because it would dispel the doubt and confusion that both Cubans and Americans still feel about this important moment in their common history.

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The CIA’s presidential briefings before November 22, 1963

Veteran JFK researcher Bill Kelly asks a good question about the CIA’s media blitz at the LBJ Library in Austin Texas last week. Read more

What did the CIA’s release of JFK and LBJ presidential briefings reveal?

The briefings, released last week, showed how the Agency sought to get information to the two presidents.The CIA had long resisted releasing the records on the grounds that any disclosure would harm national security, an argument the Agency has now abandoned.

One of first briefings in the wake of JFK’s assassination revealed something important: where the CIA’s JFK assassination cover-up originated: in the Directorate of Operations and the Counterintelligence Staff.

The CIA’s sources and methods in Hollywood

VICE News has a revealing story about the CIA, with the help of the Obama White House, used Hollywood to sell the idea of torture in the Oscar winning movie Zero Dark Thirty.

The movie, VICE observers, “stongly suggested that the use of torture led the agency to bin Laden, a narrative that current and former CIA officials promoted in numerous op-eds and interviews after bin Laden was killed. That the narrative was so prominently featured in ZDT angered Senator Dianne Feinstein, the Democratic chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, who fired off a letter to the president of Sony Pictures objecting to what she called a ‘false narrative.’

Here’s how the story begins: Read more

CIA disclosures bare the origins of the JFK cover-up

Three days after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the CIA told his successor Lyndon Johnson a bit of news: the agency’s sources had just confirmed press reports that accused assassin Lee Oswald had visited the Cuban and Soviet Embassies in Mexico City two months before.

Here’s what the President’s Intelligence Checklist (TPIC)– just released by the CIA and LBJ Library–reported on November 25, 1963.

Presidential Intelligence Checklist

It was revealing moment. Intentionally or not, the CIA was misleading the new U.S. president about what Agency personnel knew of the man accused of killing his predecessor.

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Declassified CIA presidential briefings shed new light on the agency’s reaction to JFK’s assassination

The CIA’s release of 2,500 presidential briefings written during the Kennedy and Johnson presidential administrations is shedding new light on the agency’s reaction to the assassination of JFK. The CIA has long contended that the briefings could not be released in any form for reasons of national security

On the day Kennedy was killed the CIA briefers wrote they could find “no more fitting words” than a poem that JFK sometimes cited about the burdens of his office: Read more

‘LBJ’ casts its RFK

The cinematic riches of the JFK era seem inexhaustible.

Now comes word that “LBJ” has found its RFK. And, as it did with its casting of former first lady Jacquelyn Kennedy, the Rob Reiner-directed presidential biopic is turning to a relative newcomer to fill the role. According to Variety, Michael Stahl-David of “Cloverfield” and HBO’s “Show Me a Hero” has signed on to play former Sen. Robert F. Kennedy in Reiner’s film, which is scheduled to start shooting in New Orleans this month.”

Source: ‘LBJ’ casts its RFK, as presidential biopic preps for NOLA shoot this month |

Where did the most famous JFK assassination film come from?

A 26-second home movie taken of the assassination of President John Kennedy on November 22, 1963, has become one of the most famous pieces of film ever. There are countless versions on YouTube, viewed by tens of millions of people.

Where did this amazing imagery come from? Is it an authentic depiction of the assassination of a U.S. president?

To answer such questions, I sought out a man who could answer them better than almost anyone: Richard Stolley, a former editor at LIFE Magazine, the immensely popular photographic magazine of the 1960s.

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