My vacation from the land of JFK is over. I haven’t written here in a couple of months and now I’m back. Please excuse my unauthorized absence. I’ve been busy.
I’m writing about the Trump administration for AlterNet, and that’s a yuge job.
I finished my next book, The Ghost: The Secret Life of CIA Spymaster James Jesus Angleton, and that was bigly too. (Look for this biographic thriller on Amazon/Powell’s and in bookstores in October.)
But I’d left some people high and dry. My friend Dwight said, Man, what’s up with the blog? Don’t stop now. So, with lots of JFK news coming, it is indeed time to start writing again.
You will be hearing from me on many things, including:
- Judge John Tunheim’s March 16 appearance in Washington to talk about the JFK Records Act;
- The latest from the National Archives on the JFK records in October 2017;
- The implications of tensions between President Trump and the CIA for full JFK disclosure;
- Why Natalie Portman was robbed at the Oscars.
I was talking with John Newman the other day–about Angleton, the JFK Records Act, and Cuba–and he said, “I truly think we are in new territory in terms of understanding the case.”
I think that’s right. The challenge of 2017 is to tell the new JFK story in a lucid dispassionate way.
John M. Newman, former U.S. Army intelligence analyst turned historian, has just published “Countdown to Darkness,” the second volume of his history of the JFK assassination. I’ll just say I learned how to report on the CIA and JFK from Newman 25 years ago and I’ve never stopped learning.
The book is available on Amazon, and it is important, especially as we get closer to the JFK disclosures coming in October 2017. Read more
I went to see “Jackie” last night and I thought it was terrific.
JFK Facts movie critic Patrick McDonald has already reviewed this excellent cinematic experience. Here’s another provocative take by Youssef El-Gingihy of The Independent, a liberal newspaper in London.
She is a big part of the reason why a half century on we are still talking about JFK and why films are still being made about him
Released on the day of Trump’s inauguration in centenary year of JFK’s birth and in advance of the release of the CIA’s last JFK assassination files in October 2017, “Jackie” couldn’t be more topical .
Among the 1,100 secret CIA documents related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy is an 86 page file of the anti-Castro group, Directorio Revolucionario Estudantil (DRE)
The group, commonly known as the Cuban Student Directorate, had a curious double role in the JFK assassination story–a role that the CIA chose to conceal from both the Warren Commission in 1964 and the House Selection Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) in the late 1970s.
The deception was not minor: CIA-funded DRE was the first organization to call public attention to accused assassin Lee Oswald–before JFK was killed.
Ross from California writes
“Having perused your website, I know that there are approximately 3,600 records that are still classified, 1,110 of which are CIA related. I realize there is a volume associated with these records, could you give me summary of the records that may be the most pertinent to the case? What influence over the release of these records will the new President have?”
The best summary of the still-secret JFK records comes from Rex Bradford, president of the Mary Ferrell Foundation site. Read more here.
The president can have a lot of influence over JFK records. Read about that here.
From the New York Times Book Review:
The spirit of James Jesus Angleton, the C.I.A.’s mole-obsessed counterintelligence chief during the peak years of the Cold War and evidently a mentor to Epstein (he’s mentioned several times), hovers over these pages.
That’s reviewer Nicholas Lemman’s way of casting doubt on Edward Epstein’s lightly sourced (to put it mildly) indictment of the NSA whistle blower. In other words, Epstein’s case against Snowden as a spy today is as unsuccessful as Angleton’s hunt for a Soviet mole in the 1960s.
My biography of Angleton, The Ghost, will be published in the fall of 2017. It can be preordered now.
Source: Is Edward Snowden a Spy? A New Book Calls Him One. – The New York Times
I found this remarkable photo in Robin Unger’s extraordinary galleries of JFK assassination photo. It was taken moments after gunfire that took President Kennedy’s life. At a glance we see exactly how two law enforcement officers responded to the sound of gunfire. Read more
More evidence that the whole world is paying attention to the JFK disclosures coming later this year. The British newsmagazine The Economist tweeted out their prediction that JFK internet searches will surge in October. They’re right. Read more
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.
Counterintelligence chief James Angleton
On January 22, 1976. retired CIA counterintelligence chief James Angleton testified in secret session with the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Activities, otherwise known as the Church Committee.
Forty two years later, the 74 page transcript of Angleton’s testimony is still a state secret, according to the Mary Ferrell Foundation’s comprehensive listing of still-classified JFK material.
Angleton’s testimony, scheduled to be released in October of this year, could not be more important to JFK assassination scholarship.
In a prequel of sorts to the emerging war between President-elect Trump and the CIA, the War on the Rocks blog, reviews the latest revelations from the declassified history of the CIA’s disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in 1961.
Why is something that happened 55 years ago relevant to power politics in today’s Washington?
Because the the power struggle that followed the CIA’s first public defeat would shape and hone the interventionist mission of the secret agency. Now the CIA faces the wrath of a commander in chief who mistrusts its prerogatives and sympathizes with its adversaries in Moscow and, according to the CIA, was aided by them.
In Literary Agents, Patrick Iber of the New Republic delves into the role of the CIA in the culture Cold War. He doesn’t specifically mention the role of Cord Meyer and James Angleton but they were probably the two CIA officials most responsible for CIA cultural funding between 1954 and 1967,
Iber captures what was most problematic about the CIA’s role, something I will touch on in my forthcoming Angleton biography.
Allen’s ascendency brought furtive characters, such as gun-toting William Harvey and cadaverous James Jesus Angelton, into a powerful global apparatus. Cold War ideology brooked no nationalist aspirations in any country wishing to control domestic politics and natural resources. A post-colonial era was emerging. But democratically elected nationalist leaders such as Mohammad Mossadegh in Iran and Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala were conveniently portrayed as communists. In both countries, the CIA orchestrated coups ensuring protection for profitable corporate oil interests and the United Fruit Co. The agency contributed to the killing of Patrice Lumumba, the charismatic Congolese leader who only wanted self-government for his beleaguered people.
Source: The mid-20th-century rise of a secret government | Street Roots
Orest Pena, JFK witness (H/T Vasilios)
A faithful reader adds to what is known about Orest Pena, the New Orleans bar owner whose testimony to Congress in 1978 remains secret. The reader quotes from Anthony Summers’ useful reporting in his book, Not in Your Lifetime.
“There was the claim of Orest Pena, a New Orleans bar owner who in 1963 himself supplied occasional information to FBI agent Warren De Brueys. Pena was to say he had seen Oswald with Agent De Brueys on “numerous occasions” and that De Brueys threatened him physically before his Warren Commission appearance, warning him to keep quiet.
Summers continues: Read more
Orest Pena’s story is particularly compelling because he was trusted by the FBI agents in New Orleans. As a bar owner of Cuban descent, he saw and heard a lot of interest to law enforcement. Oswald had visited his bar in the summer of 1963 in the company of a man Pena described as Mexican. Pena also said he saw Oswald with FBI agent Warren DeBreuys on several occasions. DeBreuys denied this and denigrated Pena as unreliable.