Slawson: Oswald had accessories, not co-conspirators

David Slawson, former Warren Commission staffer who told Politico Magazine he has changed his mind about the commission’s conclusion, writes to say his position has been slightly misinterpreted. He does not believe there was a conspiracy to kill the president but he does think Lee Harvey Oswald had accessories. 

In an email to JFK Facts, Slawson, a retired law professor, explained the distinction like this:

“The word, “conspiracy,” was Phil Shenon’s, not mine. The word I used was “accessory.” There are “accessories before the fact” and “after the fact.” If you know or have good reason to suspect a person will commit a crime, and do not tell the proper authorities, you are one of the former, and you are subject to the same penalties the perpetrator is. Accessories after the fact usually have hidden evidence or helped the perpetrator escape, etc. But when Phil and I discussed this, I did not object to his use of “conspiracy,” because it is possible, of course, that Oswald agreed with one or more of the Mexican nationals that they would hide him if he could make it back to Mexico after he killed Kennedy – or something like that. But I didn’t use the word myself, because I thought, and still think, that this was very unlikely.
    “And as the new Afterword makes clear, I still am convinced that there was no conspiracy in the meaningful sense of the word involving the Cuban or Russian governments or any other significant group of people, and I am also still convinced that Oswald was the only shooter.
    “What I now know, however, and am very concerned about, is that the CIA and the FBI and others involved in the Warren Commission investigation withheld evidence from Bill Coleman, me, and other members of the staff and the Commission and lied to us, in particular about the Cuban investigation – and that this has continued long past 1975, when the plots to assassinate Castro were exposed. What are they still hiding?  And why?”

 

35 comments

  1. Eddy says:

    What’s Slawson got to be ‘very concerned’ about? They got the right man without that pesky FBI and CIA withheld evidence. Surely he’s not blackening the name of these august institutions because of some pedantic legal issue?

  2. Dan says:

    The problem with the story that Oswald blurted out a threat to kill JFK at the Cuban Embassy is that it was not reported by Sylvia Duran, employee of that embassy who dealt with Oswald, in her extensive interrogation by Mexican authorities. The Warren Report states that the US had confidential sources of “extremely high reliability” that confirmed her story in all material respects. To complicate matters, CIA claimed they were unaware that Oswald has visited the Cuban embassy until after the JFK assassination.

  3. Slawson appears to support the notion that currently hidden files must be released(CIA), and others have shared that view. “What are they hiding, and why”(as he puts it) is certainly a million dollar question, as many of us know by now. I do doubt Oswald was “the only shooter”(again, as he puts it). Slawson appears to br going back and forth with this, in the way Clint Hill does also(as we recall, Hill saw blood spatter coming FROM THE BACK OF JFK’s head, yet went on to believe the WC report, of only 3 shots, one shooter.

  4. To my mind this page by Bill Simpich has a good hypothesis as to what the solution is to, not Oswald’s visit to Mexico, but how it was used to put the Mexico CIA Station on a path to attempt plausible deniability:

    State Secret
    Wiretapping in Mexico City, Double Agents, and the Framing of Lee Oswald
    by Bill Simpich
    Chapter 5: The Mexico City Solution

    Why Oswald’s Cuba Connections Were Hidden Before the Assassination, Why the Assassination Was Covered Up – And What May Be A Looking Glass Into 11/22/63

    http://www.maryferrell.org/wiki/index.php/State_Secret_Chapter5
    \\][//

    • Bill Simpich says:

      CIA documents declassified in the 1990s suggested that the agency had Oswald under far more aggressive surveillance in Mexico than it admitted to the commission. After reading these documents, Slawson now believes that the spy agency doctored evidence, including tapes of wiretapped phone calls in Mexico, that would have shown that the CIA knew before the assassination about the danger that Oswald posed.

      He was outraged, in particular, when I showed him an eye-popping June 1964 letter from FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover to the commission that described how Oswald, in an outburst at a Cuban diplomatic compound in Mexico City during his trip there, had reportedly been overheard threatening, “I’m going to kill Kennedy.” According to the letter, a secret FBI informant had heard about the outburst directly from Fidel Castro during a meeting with the Cuban dictator in Havana several months after the JFK assassination. (The informant would later be revealed to be a leader of the American Communist Party.)

      Willy, thanks for your supportive comments. I wish I could get Slawson to read my work. It seems like he’s still in complete denial about how Oswald was impersonated on the Mexico City tapes, even though he listened to them after they were supposedly “destroyed” and he helped them cover it up as a matter of “national security over these years”. I consider that a wrongful act on his part.

      Nonetheless, I am still hopeful that Slawson can help this turn this case around. Slawson is coming out of a 50-year period of denial on this subject. Philip Shenon of the New York Times has reached him in a way that the rest of us without similar credentials could not.

      Check out Shenon’s report at Politico as to what turned Slawson around…I’m hopeful that both men might become more open-minded if they continue to educate themselves about this case.

      “CIA documents declassified in the 1990s suggested that the agency had Oswald under far more aggressive surveillance in Mexico than it admitted to the commission.

      After reading these documents, Slawson now believes that the spy agency doctored evidence, including tapes of wiretapped phone calls in Mexico, that would have shown that the CIA knew before the assassination about the danger that Oswald posed.

      He was outraged, in particular, when I showed him an eye-popping June 1964 letter from FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover to the commission that described how Oswald, in an outburst at a Cuban diplomatic compound in Mexico City during his trip there, had reportedly been overheard threatening, “I’m going to kill Kennedy.”

      According to the letter, a secret FBI informant had heard about the outburst directly from Fidel Castro during a meeting with the Cuban dictator in Havana several months after the JFK assassination. (The informant would later be revealed to be a leader of the American Communist Party.)

      Slawson was certain he had never before seen the Hoover letter, even though it was written in the middle of the Warren Commission’s work…

      “Obviously, somebody intercepted that letter before it could reach me,” Slawson told me. Even though the letter might not prove there was a conspiracy, Slawson said that if he had seen it, he would have raised “many, many questions” about who else knew that Oswald—a former Marine with rifle training, a champion of Castro’s revolution looking for a way to demonstrate his loyalty to Cuba—was apparently talking openly about killing the president.”

      As I mention in Chapter 5 of my book, the story is that this outburst occurred at the Cuban embassy, not the Cuban consulate. Even Castro was struck by this, wondering why Oswald went to the embassy at all.

      So this may be a story that the Cubans have chosen not to release yet – this statement that “I’m going to kill Kennedy” may have come from someone who was impersonating Lee Oswald – or it may have been Lee Oswald trying to get a rise out of the embassy officials to see how they responded for counterintelligence purposes – or it may not have happened at all.

      As for why Slawson didn’t see the memo, I think it could have easily been withheld from him, or that he was overburdened with work that he literally never saw it.

      • Jean Davison says:

        Slawson may not remember the Hoover letter now, but this inventory of WC records indicates that it at least crossed his desk.

        CE1359, the second item here, has the handwritten notation “cc Slawson”:

        https://www.maryferrell.org/mffweb/archive/viewer/showDoc.do?docId=97024&relPageId=156

        Here’s CE1359 again:

        https://www.maryferrell.org/mffweb/archive/viewer/showDoc.do?docId=11754&relPageId=2

        • Bill Simpich says:

          Jean’s point that CE 1359 should have crossed Slawson’s desk is a good one. Slawson and Shenon should be asking:

          1. Who was in a position to intercept the copy of CE 1359 sent to Slawson before he got a look at it?

          2. Isn’t it important to note that the story about Oswald saying he wanted to kill JFK emanated from an Oswald visit to the embassy rather than the consulate? Particularly because there is no record of any Oswald visit to the embassy?

          3. Doesn’t that alone indicate that some kind of frame-up was going on, with either an Oswald imposter or a made-up story by Hoover’s agents?

          4. Isn’t this scenario at least as likely, if not more likely, than Slawson’s stated belief that the CIA doctored pre-11/22 memos that would have shown that the CIA knew Oswald wanted to kill Kennedy?

          5. If Slawson and Shenon would review the CIS memos after Oswald’s Mexico City trip, they would see two memos, both written on October 10, 1963 by the same group of officers, with different physical stories about Oswald and seemingly designed to cause collisions within different components of the intelligence agencies. They would also see a series of polygraphs that were taken immediately after the visit, that I believe were designed to try to figure out who Oswald was. The FBI asked all of their Mexican informants, Who is Oswald, with no luck. A New Orleans FBI agent dug up Oswald’s birth records by the end of October. The Mexico City office kept asking the navy for a photo of Oswald after his visit, without success. There were photos of Oswald in the 201 file, but the file had been stripped of most of its documents in the days between Oswald’ obtaining a visa on Sept 17 and the story of his MexiCo City arrival on Sept 27. Those documents went inside an FPCC file that was in the custody of Angleton’s mole-hunting analyst Ann Egerter.

    • I am so glad you chose to show up here and comment Mr Simpich. I must commend you for such an excellent analysis of the facts thus attained in the case at hand.

      I hope others will fully absorb this work and grasp its deep significance in the framing of Oswald, and the masterful manipulation of the raging paranoia of James Jesus Angleton by the JMWave contingent.

      It is also quite gracious of you to make this work available on the Internet as a public service.
      ~Willy \\][//

  5. bogman says:

    Am in complete agreement with Mr. Slawson’s last questions. Let’s hope the current government and media gives this the attention it deserves, and the JFK assassination community on all sides support him in securing the answers to these important questions.

  6. Jonathan says:

    If Slawson taught criminal law he must not have done a very good job.

    His comment about an accessory before the fact is erroneous. Examples:

    1) A asks to borrow B’s car so A can go assassinate someone. B refuses. A tells B, “OK. I’ll figure out some other way to do it.” B says nothing to the police. A subsequently pulls off the assassination.

    According to Slawson, B is criminally responsible. Slawson is wrong, and B is not criminally responsible. REASON: B has done nothing to encourage or to aid the commission of a crime.

    2) A comes over to B’s house. They begin discussing a possible assassination. B tells A, “I can’t help you, but I really encourage you to assassinate C. I hope you’ll do it. I’m asking you to do it” B says nothing to the police. A subsequently assassinates C.

    Here B can he held criminally responsible as an accessory before the fact. REASON: He has solicited A to commit the crime.

    3) A comes over to B’s house. They begin discussing a possible assassination. B tells A, “I can’t help you, but here’s some money. Keep me posted.” B says nothing to the police. A subsequently assassinates C.

    Here B is not only an accessory before the fact. He is also a conspirator if he and A agreed that A would murder C. REASON: The agreement coupled with the furnishing of money (a step in furtherance of the agreement) constitute the separate crime of conspiracy to commit murder.

  7. Jean Davison says:

    Author Shenon is mistaken that the “eye-popping” letter from JEH that he says outraged Slawson wasn’t sent to the Warren Commission. It is Commission Document 1359:

    https://www.maryferrell.org/mffweb/archive/viewer/showDoc.do?docId=11754&relPageId=2

    • Did you not notice Jean, the words atop this letter from Hoover?

      It says, “TOP SECRET”.

      The document wasn’t declassified until 11/6/93, and it wasn’t released in full until 12/7/94
      \\][//

      • H.P. Albarelli Jr. says:

        But it was sent to the Warren Commission on June 17, 1964. And I suspect that is the point Jean is making.

        • You say it was sent to the Warren Commission Mr Albarelli,

          Yes the same commissioners who met and decided to go along with the program and keep the staff in the dark as per that agenda. I cite the Jan, 22, 1964 meeting again.
          Perfect excuse there Mr Albaelli, a national security secret stamped Top Secret, to be only shared by the top commissioners.
          \\][//

    • H.P. Albarelli Jr. says:

      Excellent point, Jean. Slawson seems to have forgotten a lot about his own journey to Mexico.

  8. Clarence Carlson says:

    Despite his assertions that there was no conspiracy, Slawson admits that crucial evidence was withheld from the commission that may have an impact in their investigation and it’s outcome. Hence his opinion of no conspiracy is made with less than complete evidence and can rightfully be subject to scrutiny for those with a more open approach to the investigation.

  9. David Regan says:

    Perhaps David Slawson and Charles Shaffer should get together and compare notes.

    ‘Maybe we missed something’: Warren Commission insider publicly concedes that JFK assassination was likely a conspiracy http://natpo.st/1Dt4zqn via @nationalpost (9/22/14)

    The Framing of Oswald http://www.history-matters.com/frameup.htm

  10. Bill Simpich says:

    (Note: This reply is more succinct than my previous reply, which accidentally repeats a couple paragraphs. If possible, I would ask you to run only this one and not the other.)

    Willy, thanks for your supportive comments. I wish I could get Slawson to read my work.

    It seems like Slawson is still in complete denial about how Oswald was impersonated on the Mexico City tapes, even though he listened to them after they were supposedly “destroyed” and he did not admit to their existence after 11/22/63 until approximately 1992. I consider that a wrongful act on his part.

    Nonetheless, I am still hopeful that Slawson can help this turn this case around. Slawson is coming out of a 50-year period of denial on this subject. Philip Shenon of the New York Times has reached him in a way that the rest of us without similar credentials could not.

    Check out Shenon’s report at Politico as to what turned Slawson around…I’m hopeful that both men might become more open-minded if they continue to educate themselves about this case.

    “CIA documents declassified in the 1990s suggested that the agency had Oswald under far more aggressive surveillance in Mexico than it admitted to the commission.

    “After reading these documents, Slawson now believes that the spy agency doctored evidence, including tapes of wiretapped phone calls in Mexico, that would have shown that the CIA knew before the assassination about the danger that Oswald posed.

    “He was outraged, in particular, when I showed him an eye-popping June 1964 letter from FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover to the commission that described how Oswald, in an outburst at a Cuban diplomatic compound in Mexico City during his trip there, had reportedly been overheard threatening, “I’m going to kill Kennedy.”

    “According to the letter, a secret FBI informant had heard about the outburst directly from Fidel Castro during a meeting with the Cuban dictator in Havana several months after the JFK assassination. (The informant would later be revealed to be a leader of the American Communist Party.)

    “Slawson was certain he had never before seen the Hoover letter, even though it was written in the middle of the Warren Commission’s work…

    “Obviously, somebody intercepted that letter before it could reach me,” Slawson told me. Even though the letter might not prove there was a conspiracy, Slawson said that if he had seen it, he would have raised “many, many questions” about who else knew that Oswald—a former Marine with rifle training, a champion of Castro’s revolution looking for a way to demonstrate his loyalty to Cuba—was apparently talking openly about killing the president.”

    As I mention in Chapter 5 of my book, the story is that this outburst occurred at the Cuban embassy, not the Cuban consulate. Even Castro was struck by this, wondering why Oswald went to the embassy at all.

    So this may be a story that the Cubans have chosen not to release yet – this statement that “I’m going to kill Kennedy” may have come from someone who was impersonating Lee Oswald – or it may have been Lee Oswald trying to get a rise out of the embassy officials to see how they responded for counterintelligence purposes – or it may not have happened at all.

    As for why Slawson didn’t see the memo, I think it could have easily been withheld from him, or that he was overburdened with work that he literally never saw it. There were several earlier FBI memos on the same subject that were never provided to him at all.

  11. Larry Schnapf says:

    How different is slawson’s “concession” than Howard Willens? They are both mad that CIA and FBI hid info from WC but they still believe in the conclusion that LHO acted alone (much less acted at all). I dont see this as dramatic as Sheenon wants us to believe. Oswald was not convictable at trial. The young attorneys that worked so hard as WC staffers were snookered by Hoover and the CIA who knew they could run out the clock on the Commission. It is hard for such accomplished men to admit that they fell short in perhaps the most important assignment of their lives. Much of the so-called evidence that WC developed would have been inadmissible in a court for a variety of reasons. There was broken chain of custody and poor police work.

    • Bill Simpich says:

      Larry Schnapf, you have stated the center of the problem.

      It’s one thing for David Slawson to say that he was lied to by the CIA. It is another thing to say that he misjudged the case.

      If he could at least say that Hoover and friends ran the clock out and the whole case should be reexamine do it would be an even bigger deal.

      I hope that Slawson and all of us who work on this case can gain some humility when thinking about whether we should reevaluate the evidence, because I think that’s what it will take to reach a historical solution.

  12. Ramon F Herrera says:

    How about confederates, Jeff? I would have asked the ambivalent Mr. Slawson:

    “Do you think Oswald had any confederates?”.

  13. Slawson seems to have concluded that Oswald, who was claiming he was framed, is guilty regardless of the evidence that the FBI, CIA, and other elements of the national-security state have intentionally withheld from official investigative bodies and regardless of the lies they have knowingly told. But what if the lies and the withheld evidence constitute more evidence of the frame-up? Does Slawson’s mindset even permit him to concede that deceit and cover-up are consistent with a frame-up?

  14. Eddy says:

    Is anyone able to ask David Slawson a straightforward question:

    If you believe evidence was withheld from you, then how are you able to draw firm conclusions? How are you able to determine which areas of the case you can rely on the evidence for?

    • Thomas says:

      Superb, this is common sense and gets to the point. Then the next question is: why do you think evidence was being withheld?

  15. LuLu says:

    Why would Oswald even be mentioned here? From what I’ve been hearing and reading, everyone else did it but him. Perhaps a little sarcastic but if you even suggest he fired a shot, or even owned a gun, you are not really welcome here. Hasn’t this gone a bit too far? You get the impression that his wife beat him and that she was the big liar for whatever reason…….instead of the other way around. I’m visiting a relative who wanted me to check out the website and I’ve been reading here for hours. I noticed only about two people who weren’t into conspiracy. One Photon, they would like to get rid of. Actually I thought some of them rougher on him than he was on them. If you got rid of him, not much going on.

    • anonymous says:

      Don’t blame you for being a little frustrated LuLu but there are more than Photon who believe Oswald played a role in the assassination and who comment on this site. You just have to look a little closer. In fact Jean Davison made a comment similar to the one you made, about when it comes to conspiracy theory buffs, everyone seems to be guilty but Oswald. You might want to look on the internet for someone like Bugliosi or Gerald Posner.

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