In 1963

4 CIA lies: New JFK files show how assassination investigation was controlled, not ‘botched’

New JFK filesIn May 1964, top CIA officials stonewalled the official investigation of the murder of President John F. Kennedy by concealing or downplaying evidence about the Cuban contacts of the accused assassin, according to newly declassified documents.

The documents, released online last month by the National Archives, show how two CIA spymasters concocted a series of false and misleading statements that served to steer the Warren Commission investigation away from evidence that might point to a conspiracy.

The long-secret records, stamped with the words “Reproduction Prohibited,” shed new light on two key issues related to the death of JFK: 1) the agency’s plots to kill Cuban leader Fidel Castro at the time JFK was killed; and 2) the CIA’s pre-assassination knowledge of Lee Harvey Oswald, the 24-year-old ex-Marine, who was arrested for killing Kennedy.

The new files show the JFK investigation was not “botched” as Politico and NPR have reported. Rather, the documents show hwo the probe was controlled by two top CIA officials.

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June 11, 1963: Kennedy emerges on civil rights

President Kennedy’s growth as a leader in June 1963 is a key to understanding his life and death.

As Arms Control Today documented last year, JFK’s June 10 speech at American University would influence the arms control vision all of the U.S. presidents who followed him. And as this New York Times column notes, his often-overlooked nationally televised address on June 11, 1963, signaled his evolution as a civil rights leader.

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June 10, 1963: A profile in courage with lethal consequences


President Kennedy’s speech to the graduating class of American University in Washington DC 54 years ago today represented the high point of his efforts to wind down the Cold War. His vigorous style and clear mind never had a more important goal — or more powerful enemies.

JFK’s last birthday: Gifts, champagne and wandering hands on the presidential yacht 

On May 29, 1963, Kennedy and about two dozen others boarded the 104-foot Sequoia, the presidential yacht, for a dinner party cruise down the Potomac River. It was a family-and-friends-only affair. Aside from a few Secret Service agents, the roster of guests gleamed with a touch of Hollywood — actors David Niven (“Separate Tables” and “The Pink Panther”) and Peter Lawford (a Rat Packer who was married to Patricia Kennedy, the commander in chief’s sister).

Source: JFK’s last birthday: Gifts, champagne and wandering hands on the presidential yacht – The Washington Post

RFK’s secret campaign to become LBJ’s Vice President

By late July, Johnson could no longer risk waiting until the Democratic convention to remove Kennedy from vice presidential consideration. The president called his attorney general on Monday, July 27, and asked him to come to the White House—Tuesday, if he could—to talk over “some other matters.”

Source: Robert Kennedy’s Secret Campaign to Become Lyndon Johnson’s Vice President

Even though they had killed her husband

“Yesterday morning, at 11:15, Jacqueline Kennedy started toward the grave. She came out from under the north portico of the White House and slowly followed the body of her husband, which was in a flag-covered coffin that was strapped with two black leather belts to a black caisson that had polished brass axles. She walked straight and her head was high. She walked down the bluestone and …

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‘Jim [Angleton] would prefer to wait out the Commission …’

The reason James Angleton’s still-secret testimony to the Church Committee matters in 2017 is found in this Warren Commission document.

“Jim would prefer to wait out the Commission on the matter covered by paragraph 2 …”

CIA’s Raymond Rocca, writing to Richard Helms regarding counterintelligence chief James Angleton’s desire to stonewall the Warren Commission on certain CIA materials passed to the Secret Service.
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What happened when Oswald was arrested?

Oswald at Texas Theater

Lee Harvey Oswald being arrested at the Texas Theater, November 22, 1963

In a 2013 essay for Time magazine,the late Gary Mack wrote about this photo of Oswald’s. The photo is interesting but the editorial treatment is fascinating Read more

After JFK was killed, former president Truman called for the abolition of CIA covert operations

Truman's complaint

Truman’s complaint

“For some time I have been disturbed by the way the CIA has been diverted from its original assignment,” wrote former president Harry Truman in the Washington Post on December 22, 1963. It was exactly one month after the assassination of President Kennedy.

“It has become an operational and at times a policy-making arm of the Government. This has led to trouble and may have compounded our difficulties in several explosive areas,” Truman wrote.

The former president never explicitly linked JFK’s death to the clandestine service, but the timing and venue of his piece was suggestive.

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53 years ago, ‘Dr. Stranglove’ premiere was postponed

Dr. Stranglove ticket

When asked about the nuclear-mad antics of Dr. Strangelove, Pentagon whistleblower Dan Ellsberg said, “For those of us who worked in the Pentagon, the movie was a documentary.” As nuclear historian Eric Schlosser has written, “almost everything” in the movie was true.  JFK was disturbed at the laxity of U.S. nuclear control regime, and sought to tighten command and control and dissolve the Cold War, especially in 1963.

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Oct. 10, 1963: Six top CIA officers discuss Lee Harvey Oswald among themselves

Fifty three years ago today, a man named Lee Harvey Oswald came to the attention of a group of senior CIA officers in Langley, Virginia. Oswald had recently visited the Cuban consulate and Soviet Embassy  in Mexico City. A CIA wiretap captured a man identifying himself as “Oswald.”

The CIA officers conferred about Oswald and his actions and signed off on a cable about him. They are identified on the declassified CIA cable whose authenticity is not disputed.

CIA Oswald Cable

They were: assistant deputy director (ADDP) Tom Karamessines; Soviet Russia division counterintelligence officer Stephan Roll; liaison officer Jane Roman, Special Projects Group (SPG) officer Ann Egerter; chief of the WH/3 desk (Mexico )”John Scelso” aka John Whitten; and chief of operations for Western Hemisphere, William J. Hood.

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‘Concerning the Facts and Consequences of the Tragic Death of President John F. Kennedy’

What Cuban leader Fidel Castro said  on November 23, 1963 about JFK’s assassination: Read more

Nov. 5, 1963: JFK considers secret talks with Castro

Fidel Castro

Was JFK going to make peace with Cuba?

On November 5, 1963, President Kennedy was exploring the idea. You can hear JFK talking about it with aides on this White House tape recording. (The substantive conversation starts at :25 in the recording.) Read more

Did Castro figure out the JFK case in just five days?

Under the suggestive title “Castro Figured Out The JFK Case in Five Days”, an English version of his speech at the University of Havana on November 27, 1963, is available from CTKA.

In due course, the Warren Commission was provided with a slightly different version, but its members feared and rejected Castro’s line of argument depicting JFK’s assassination as part of a broader “plan against peace, against Cuba, against the Soviet Union, against humanity, against progressive and even liberal sectors of the United States.”

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▶ Listen: Oswald talks about Cuba

From JFK Lancer, a recording of radio program broadcast by WDSU radio in New Orleans on August 20, 1963.

▶ Lee H. Oswald debates the Cuba issue with anti-communist activist Ed Butler, and anti-Castro militant Carlos Bringuier of Cuban Student Directorate (DRE)

Bringuier is an important witness, and the CIA-sponsored DRE, is significant. But recently it is Butler’s role in this debate that holds my interest. Read more