A faithful reader sends a timely reminder: Birch O’Neal, the CIA’s unknown Oswald expert, dissembled to an FBI agent within hours of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
I wrote about O’Neal yesterday. A career CIA counterintelligence officer who died in 1995, O’Neal is perhaps the most interesting new character to emerge from the tens of thousands of JFK assassination files released since last October.
His previously unknown saga sheds new light on a JFK secret the CIA and defenders of the Warren Commission still deny: the agency’s pre-assassination surveillance of accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald. Read more
Birch O’Neal, counterintelligence officer who opened the CIA’s Oswald file in 1959
One of the most significant new JFK files concerns a CIA officer you probably never heard of.
Birch O’Neal is virtually unknown in the vast literature of JFK’s assassination. He is not mentioned in the reports of the Warren Commission or the House Select Committee on Assassinations. He figures in no conspiracy theories.
Yet O’Neal played a seminal role in the story of the CIA and accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald. As a mole hunter for counterintelligence chief James Angleton, O’Neal controlled the agency’s Oswald file from November 1959 to November 1963.
O’Neal’s story is still sensitive, more than 20 years after his death in 1995. Last November the agency released a heavily redacted version of O’Neal’s personnel file. Of the 224 pages in the file, 177 contain redactions, and three are wholly secret.
But one important page was released. Read more
In November I published a piece on the top five JFK files that are still being hidden by the government. Since the one of them, the transcript of James Angleton’s testimony to the Church Committee in September 1975, has been released.
Four other key JFK documents have been released late last year–but with extensive redactions.
They are the files of four officers involved in the surveillance of Lee Harvey Oswald between 1959 and 1963. Read more
The government’s release of long-secret JFK assassination records is generating headlines and hype worldwide. But the truth is the majority of the JFK files that were supposed to be released in October 2017 remain secret—and may forever if the CIA has its way. Read more
The spy who sang
John Whitten is a rare hero of the JFK story. He was a senior CIA official who sought, behind the scenes, to conduct an honest investigation of what the agency knew about accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald, before President Kennedy was killed.
But at a meeting on Christmas Eve 1963 deputy director CIA Richard Helms and counterintelligence chief Jim Angleton shut down Whitten’s efforts to investigate Oswald’s contacts among pro- and anti-Castro Cubans and relieved him of his responsibilities for investigating JFK’s assassination.
Whitten’s story, which I first reported in the Washington Monthly in 2003, illuminated the inner workings of the CIA in the days and weeks after JFK was killed. It is the story of a “good spy” whose pursuit of the truth about JFK’s death cost him his career. Read more
Since I last checked three weeks ago, more than 50 more people have signed the petition calling on the Obama administration to do its job and enforce the JFK Records Act by ordering the review and release of 1,100 CIA documents related to JFK’s assassination.
“This has been important to me since the summer of 1964,” wrote Theresa Mauro of Culver City, California, “when the Warren Commission Lie tried to pass off those stick figure drawings of the bullet’s trajectory, and I got this chilling feeling that I was being lied to by the Government of the United States, which was supposed to be guiding and protecting me.”
Thanks to the National Archives, we know specific details about