“The Ghost is the compulsively readable, often bizarre true-life story of American spymaster James Jesus Angleton – the CIA’s poetry-loving, orchid-gardening mole-hunter for almost 20 years. Capturing the extent of Angleton’s eccentricity, duplicity and alcohol-fueled paranoia would have challenged the writing skills of a Le Carre or Ludlum, and Jeff Morley has done it with flair. This important book depicts the trail of wreckage left behind by Angleton in a CIA career that involved him in virtually every major spy-versus-spy drama of the Cold War and drew him deeply into the mysteries of the Kennedy assassination and the murder of one of JFK’s mistresses.”
—Philip Shenon, author of A Cruel and Shocking Act
Tag Archive for Phil Shenon
Phil Shenon asks a good question in POLITICO Magazine but John Newman has the most authoritative answer in his new highly recommended book, Countdown to Darkness.JFK scholars are awaiting the release of documents about June Cobb, a little-known CIA operative working in Cuba and Mexico around the time of the president’s assassination.
Will Trump Release the Missing JFK Files? asks Phil Shenon in Politico. I now think the answer is, probably not.
Russ Baker and Milicent Cranor ask a good question in WhoWhatWhy but the implication of their headline that all books supporting the official theory of JFK’s death are “disinformation” does no service to the truth.
By Don B. Thomas
In a telling passage in his recent piece in Politico Magazine, “Warren Commission staffers remain convinced today that Oswald was the lone gunman in Dallas, a view shared by ballistics experts who have studied the evidence,” reporter Phil Shenon traffics in half-truths. Whatever the Warren Commission staffers think, Shenon’s claim is inaccurate and untrue. Read more
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.
“I see there’s a suggestion on your site, in response to my POLITICO piece, that Bobby Kennedy would never have recommended Allen Dulles for membership on the Warren Commission. I continue to believe the record shows that RFK did propose Dulles, and not just because LBJ (more than once) said that was the case.
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
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.”
No, he did not. Robert F. Kennedy suspected organized crime and CIA-backed Cuban exiles might have been complicit in his brother’s death. He did not suspect the Cuban communist leader.
Central to Shenon’s thesis is a Mexico City Twist Party, which he learned about from some of the recently released records of State Department mid-level diplomat Charles William Thomas, whose suicide is said to be related to the failure of the government to act on the information he provided about the Twist Party and its possible association to the assassination.
Two weeks ago, I posted a conspiracy theory survey asking readers to choose between the competing interpretations of two JFK Facts authors:. Robert Morrow, who posits a CIA-military plot from within the U.S. government, and Phil Shenon, who suggests Lee Oswald had pro-Castro Cuban accessories.