A faithful reader sent a link to a telling new story about the CIA in Miami in the 1960s when the presence of one of the largest CIA stations in the world was an open secret — yet officially unknown.
In 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.
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).
“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 …
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.
A haunting photo gallery from Robin Unger, curator of the best online collection of JFK Assassination Photographs.
One of the most haunting images from November 22, 1963, is Jacqueline Kennedy’s pink suit smeared with President Kennedy’s blood in Dallas.
Two men, brothers-in-law aged 20 and 16, were taken into custody. The report continued, “A .22 caliber semi-automatic rifle and a full box of .22 long rifle ammunition was seized.” Both men admitted “pointing the gun out the window on the parade route.”
“This week, 52 years ago, John Fitzgerald Kennedy: A Memorial Album sold an astonishing 4 million copies in its first six days of availability, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. …It cost 99 cents a copy.”
The national media, much less diverse and fragmented in 1963 than today, joined the campaign to assuage doubts and dispel “rumors” about JFK’s assassination. Pollsters were already finding that a majority of Americans suspected conspiracy. Life Magazine’s Dec. 6 issue was devoted primarily to photo coverage of the Kennedy funeral, but also included a piece by Paul Mandel entitled “End to Nagging Rumors: The Six Critical Seconds.”
The article began with a quote from Dallas DA Henry Wade: “I would say without any doubt that he is the killer”, and referred to Oswald as “the assassin.”
Life Magazine had earlier purchased rights to Abraham Zapruder’s famous home movie of the murder in Dealey Plaza, and in a November 29 issue had shown frames from that film in black-and-white. Now the Mandel article tried to reconcile the film with Oswald’s guilt.
The headline of the Washington Decoded review, Who Needs Soviet Propaganda? gives fair warning to the faint-hearted reader that a polemical bog lies ahead. Beyond this billboard, you will find a review enshrouded with disdain, intent on score-settling, and (per the headline) determined to wage Cold War. This is ancient turf haunted by huffy men, Proceed with caution.[But first, buy “The Devil’s Chessboard,” by David Talbot.]
Reviewer David Barrett is perturbed that David Talbot’s new book, “The Devil’s Chessboard,” portrays CIA director Allen Dulles as a freewheeling power broker, devil-may-care administrator, ruthless philanderer, occasional liar, and amoral covert operator whose actions destroyed lives and democracies.