Phil Shenon writes: “I noticed the recent post on John McCone and wonder if it isn’t worth pointing out — given the recent fierce debate on the site and the criticism of my Politico piece — that Arthur Schlesinger’s quotation is strong evidence to support the idea that Bobby Kennedy DID have suspicions about Castro and Cuba, at least early on?”
Tag Archive for CIA
“I asked him [RFK], perhaps tactlessly, about Oswald. He said that there could be no serious doubt that he was guilty, but there was still argument whether he did it by himself or as part of a larger plot, whether organized by Castro or by gangsters. He said that the FBI thought he had done it by himself, but that McCone thought there were two people involved in the shooting.”
— Arthur Schlesinger writing about a conversation with Robert Kennedy on Dec. 5, 1963, quoted in Schlesinger’s Journals: 1952-2000, p. 214.
… you need to know its specialized language. You need to learn about CIA Cryptonyms.
Those of us who comb through the CIA’s records about Lee Harvey Oswald’s time in Mexico City are frustrated that there is no easy way to find many of the key cables between Mexico City and Headquarters, or between JMWAVE in Miami and Headquarters.
What we have run into is the working equivalent of a CIA tutorial on how to avoid providing information mandated under the law.
The law requires that this problem be solved.
Leslie (Oct. 24),
Your Dallek quote had only one statement from JFK himself: “How could I have been so stupid as to let them proceed?” Not “Dulles betrayed me” — that’s an interpretation, just as it’s an interpretation (opinion) that it was JFK’s “decorum” that led him to praise Dulles highly and refer to him as a friend. IOW, JFK didn’t mean what he said about Dulles, in your view.
Personally I like direct quotes, not interpretations. Arthur Schlesinger’s book on RFK says this:
“Allen Dulles handled himself awfully well, with a great deal of dignity,” Robert Kennedy said of the period after the Bay of Pigs, “and never tried to shift the blame. The President was very fond of him, as I was.”
— Robert Kennedy and His Times, p. 459
Editor’s note – A new comment of the week will be featured each Wednesday.
Oral arguments in my long-running lawsuit for certain CIA records related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy will be heard in federal court in Washington on Friday, November 6.
At issue: whether the records forced into the public record by Morley v. CIA over CIA objections have had “public benefit.”
Talbot and his research associate Karen Croft, to whom he dedicated his book, have found all sorts of nuggets in Allen Dulles’s papers, his appointment calendar, oral histories, and other less-used sources. In addition, Talbot infuses his book with anecdotes from interviews he personally conducted. While I found some points I could nitpick in various episodes, overall this is a worthy addition and a much-needed perspective that elucidates how we came to have two governments: the elected one and the one that doesn’t answer to the elected one.
In Part 2 of this 3-part series in WhoWhatWhy , President Kennedy learns of Dulles’s involvement in plotting to overthrow de Gaulle, and assures the French of his support for de Gaulle, while issuing a warning:
From an editorial in the Fort Wayne (IN) Journal-Gazette, Kennedy suspicion never fades
Shenon, author of “A Cruel and Shocking Act,” a history of the Warren investigation, notes “there are 15 places in the public version of the report where the CIA has deleted sensitive information – sometimes individual names, sometimes whole sentences. It is an acknowledgement, it seems, that there are still secrets about the Kennedy assassination hidden in the agency’s files.”
Phil Shenon’s Politico story about the CIA’s “benign JFK coverup” has legs, as they say.
First Iran, now Wall Street, is paying attention.
The spy agency acknowledges that John McCone and other high-ranking CIA officials kept “incendiary and diversionary issues” from the investigation.
Robarge’s account may give credence to some of the conspiracy theories that have long swirled around JFK’s death:
Let’s say we leave the conspiracy theories out of it for now and stick to the facts, ma’am.
CIA historian David Robarge now speaks of a “benign JFK cover-up” after JFK was killed. The CIA, in this account, wasn’t really sure that the communist Oswald killed the liberal president. They just decided that was the “best truth” they could find at the time. Not the whole truth, mind you, just the best truth.
With some artful spin, the Agency spokesmen are now conceding an important point first made by CIA critics: Read more
Fifty two 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 his actions.
The story is well documented in CIA archives.
Phil Shenon continues his intrepid reporting on the assassination of JFK with a report in POLITICO Magazine.on the findings of the CIA’s in-house historian that former director John McCone covered up key information from assassination investigators.
The CIA, it turns out, has confirmed that yet another senior agency official–McCone–withheld significant information from the Warren Commission. The story is accompanied by the agency’s assurances–and Shenon’s–that the Warren Commission’s conclusions about who killed JFK were correct in every respect.
The weakness of this claim should be obvious. If the Warren Commission investigation was compromised from the top by CIA officers–and now even the agency belatedly agrees it was–then confidence in its findings must be reduced. Logically, one cannot impugn the investigation without impugning its findings.
But the CIA is willing to try.
The modified limited hangout
The CIA is now playing defense against the widespread and accurate public perception that it is not being forthcoming about JFK’s assassination. The agency, for example, retains 1,100 JFK assassination records that it may or may not release as mandated by law in October 2017.
Some of these files are potentially explosive. See “7 JFK files the CIA still conceals.”
The CIA’s cooperation with Shenon, along with its release last month of presidential daily briefings from the Kennedy era, are intended to show the public that the agency is being candid, willing to admit mistakes, and so on.
To be sure,the agency’s very limited disclosures are something of a contribution to the record of JFK’s assassination.
A November 25, 1963, briefing for President Johnson, was revealing. It showed what the CIA wasn’t telling the White House. The agency didn’t care to share just how much senior officers knew about the obscure Lee H. Oswald before President Kennedy was killed.
The Politico story shows that McCone dutifully went along with another aspect of the CIA cover-up. He knew about–but did not tell the Warren Commision about–the CIA’s conspiracies to kill Castro, leader of the communist revolution in Cuba.
So we can now say, without fear of contradiction, that the top three officers of the CIA did not cooperate with the investigation of JFK’s murder.
Deputy director Richard Helms and counterintelligence chief James Angleton took the lead in the CIA cover-up and McCone followed.
The CIA is engaged in what one conspirator in the Watergate era called “the modified limited hangout.” This is the Washington art of disclosing lesser crimes and misdemeanors in service of hiding greater wrongdoing.
Now in 2015
This is a sorry episode in American history that invites–nay, demands–public suspicion.
The Politico story tells us that Director John McCone’s control of the CIA in 1963 was nominal. It confirms that senior CIA officials agreed they should not cooperate with law enforcement efforts to investigate President Kennedy’s murder. And it shows that CIA officials today–52 years later!–feel the need to manage the problem of secrecy around JFK’s assassination. Fifty two years later.
The good news is that when Washington officials with something to hide go into “modified limited hangout” mode, they are usually in trouble, and frequently subject to more embarrassing disclosures.
The bad news is that “perception management,” which is what the CIA is now engaged in, is often successful.
The JFK acid test will come in October 2017. That’s when the CIA is supposed to release those 1,100 documents. As Politico and JFK Facts have reported, those documents could be embarrassing for the agency.
Shenon makes one significant mistake in his piece where he writes:
“Robert Kennedy’s friends and family acknowledged years later that he never stopped fearing that Castro was behind his brother’s death.”
This is not factually supported. From the moment his brother was attacked, Bobby Kennedy suspected anti-Castro Cubans and/or organized crime figures were responsible.
With hours of the assassination, RFK met personally with McCone. He asked McCone if CIA people were behind his brother’s murder. McCone said no.
A few days later, Bobby and Jackie Kennedy told a friend, William Walton, that they believed JFK was the victim of a domestic, not foreign, conspiracy.
In fact, as David Talbot’s book Brothers, shows in detail Bobby’s conspiratorial suspicions rarely, if ever, settled on JFK’s enemies on the left. Bobby and Jackie asked William Walton to tell high-level contacts in Moscow that, despite Oswald’s leftist politics, they did not hold the Soviet Union responsible for events in Dallas.
In an email, Talbot wrote, “Phil Shenon continues to recycle the myth — long propagated in CIA circles — that Fidel Castro was behind the JFK assassination. He now adds another piece of disinformation, asserting that Robert Kennedy also fell for this CIA propaganda line. This is completely false. I interviewed over 150 close friends, colleagues and family members of Bobby Kennedy, including Kennedy administration officials and insiders, for my book. NONE of them indicated to me that Castro was among Bobby’s leading suspects in the assassination of his brother.”
“Instead, they said that RFK immediately focused on the CIA and its ANTI-Castro operation as the source of the plot against President Kennedy. My sources included close advisors of Bobby Kennedy like Adam Walinsky, Frank Mankiewicz, Ed Guthman, Richard Goodwin — as well as assassination researchers with whom Bobby Kennedy met during his secret search for the truth.”
Which only makes sense. If top CIA officials blocked a full investigation of the murder of a sitting president, they had something to hide. Bobby Kennedy knew that in the 1960s. And, now a half century later, we know that CIA officials still have something to hide: the 1,100 documents scheduled for release in 2017, especially the “7 JFK files the CIA still keeps secret.”
“Former Salon founding editor-in-chief Talbot shares his extensive knowledge and intense investigations of American politics with a frightening biography of power, manipulation, and outright treason.”
From a starred notice in Kirkus Review.
This excellent book, which I am now reading, takes a harder look at the American establishment in the postwar era, linking the rise of Allen Dulles and the CIA to the national security state we now have, and places the assassination of President Kennedy in a new and deeply informed context.
The book will be published this month. You can pre-order ‘The Devil’s Chessboard’ here.