Fifty fifty 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 Oswald and his actions and signed off on a cable about him. They are identified on the declassified CIA cable whose authenticity is not disputed.
They were: assistant deputy director (ADDP) Tom Karamessines; Soviet Russia division counterintelligence officer Stephan Roll; liaison officer Jane Roman, Special Projects Group (SPG) officer Ann Egerter; chief of the WH/3 desk (Mexico )”John Scelso” aka John Whitten; and chief of operations for Western Hemisphere, William J. Hood.
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
Insider: Fidel Castro, Nikolai Leonov, and Nikita Khrushchev
Nikolai S. Leonov has an interesting perspective on the story of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
Leonov joined the KGB in 1958 and retired in 1991 with the rank of Lieutenant General. In the spring of 1963, his fluency in Spanish gained him the job as the Russian interpreter for Cuba president Fidel Castro during his first visit to the USSR in the spring of 1963, In the photo above he is the man standing between and behind Castro and Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. Read more
In response to my query about the most revealing new JFK documents released in the past year, Larry writes:
The efficient miracle of crowdsourcing has answered my question: who was running covert operations in the CIA’s Mexico City station in 1963?
An eagle-eyed reader, responding to my last post about covert operators in Mexico City, notes that there is a slightly less redacted version of Ann Goodpasture’s Feb. 1977 memo. This version provides a clue.
Sensitive source: A newly-released JFK file still conceals a key name.
Fifty five years later, this remains a highly sensitive question.
Take a look at page 9 of this lightly-redacted 1977 CIA memo, released last month by the National Archives. The name of a CIA officer who was running covert operations along with David Phillips in 1963, has been postponed for release until 2021.
James Angleton oversaw the surveillance of Oswald
Phil Shenon has a long piece in The Guardian excavating the sad story of Charles Thomas, a U.S. diplomat who investigated Lee Harvey Oswald’s actions in Mexico in the 1960s. Thomas was rebuffed by top CIA officials, including counterintelligence chief James Angleton. Thomas was denied an expected promotion and later committed suicide.
The story illuminates a central mystery of the JFK assassination story but not quite in the way than Shenon proposes.
Bill Simpich, a civil rights attorney in the Bay Area and the author of State Secret, proposes an answer to the riddle of “FLASH CANCELLED” Read more
Politico’s Thomas Maier mines the new JFK files to competently retell the oft-told but still-disturbing story of how respectable CIA officials and murderous Mafia dons tried and failed to assassinate Cuban leader Fidel Castro in the early 1960s.
Along the way, Maier drops this claim:
WhoWhatWhy has the good news about the new JFK files. It’s confusing but… Read more
Michael Scott and I will talk about THE GHOST and the consequential friendship of James Angleton and Win Scott, Michael’s father, at Chevalier’s Books in Los Angeles on Tuesday, Nov. 14 at 7 pm. Read more
Some of the best reporting on the new JFK files is coming from USA Today.
In today’s story, the national daily notes an essential newsworthy fact revealed in the newly declassified records.
Within hours of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the CIA started to distance itself from any connection to suspected assassin Lee Harvey Oswald, recently released secret records from the National Archives show.
In a great compliment to me, personally and professionally, CIA historian David Robarge has attacked my new biography of James Angleton, THE GHOST. Read more
Jan Martinez Ahrens’ piece in EL PAÍS, the leading newspaper of Spain (machine translated) shows why foreign coverage of the JFK files release was more realistic and less propagandistic than the U.S. coverage.