Jackie Kennedy’s private thoughts about Dallas
Defenders of the semi-official theory of JFK’s assassination sometimes suggest that anyone who disagrees is deluded or dishonest. Dale Myers and Gus Russo have dubbed the benighted souls “the conspirati,” a term intended to convey disdain for those allegedly emotionally needy or intellectually incompetent people who doubt the claim that one man killed JFK for no reason.
The problem with this trope, alas, is the facts. There were plenty of astute observers of American power in 1963 who rejected the official theory of a “lone nut” and concluded President Kennedy had been killed by his enemies.
Here are six six U.S. government insiders in 1963 who suspected a JFK was killed by a conspiracy.
“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.
“I came to the conclusion that there was some sort of conspiracy, probably involving the mob, anti-Castro Cuban exiles, and maybe rogue CIA agents.”
– RFK’s press secretary Frank Mankiewicz, quoted in David Talbot’s Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years, p. 312.
In 2014, most Americanns are barred by law from visiting Cuba, the island nation closest to America. When it comes to Cuba, Amrica’s vaunted ideals of “free trade” are frankly repudiated by the government in Washington which justifies violation Americans’ freedom to travel in the name of supporting democracy and human rights.
A half century ago, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy came to believe that the ban on travel to Cuba was “inconsistent with “our views of a free society,” as these historic documents collected by the non-profit National Security Archive reveal..
“Perhaps there was only one assassin, but he did not act alone …. Dallas was the ideal location for such a crime.”
— William Walton, a friend of the Kennedys’, speaking on behalf of Robert and Jacqueline Kennedy. Walton delivered his message in Moscow to Georgi Bolshakov, who had been a backchannel to the Soviet leadership and was asked to repeat it to Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. This incident occurred a week after the assassination.
The story was told first in Timothy Naftali and Alexsandr Furskenko’s “One Hell of a Gamble.“ Naftali is the director of the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda, California. The story is also recounted in David Talbot’s “Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years.”
A faithful reader calls attention to one practical step the U.S. government can take in 2014 to contribute to public understanding of the JFK assassination story: declassify the papers of Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy from 1963-64.
The blog of the Public Interest Declassification Board (PIDB) is seeking comment on declassification priorities for the National Archives.
The first reports are coming in on the new RFK files made public last week by the JFK Library. Here’s one from the U.K. Daily Mail Online. Read more
In a victory for the JFK research community, the JFK Library announced today that it has made public 26 boxes of long-secret files held by Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy. Read more
After his brother was shot dead in Dallas on Nov. 22 1963, the Attorney General suspected the CIA, the Mafia and anti-Castro Cubans, according to an excellent article in the The Boston Globe.
It was the Robert F. Kennedy, the president’s brother, notes Mark Lane, author of “Rush to Judgment,” one of the first books criticizing the Warren Commission report. In a speech today at the Duquesne Univerisity JFK conference, Lane recounted that on the day JFK was killed, RFK asked CIA director John McCone if agency personnel were involved. McCone said no.
Lane’s work has been subject of much criticism but he is correct on this point.
The CIA on its gangster friends.
In June 1964, Bobby Kennedy was grieving, guilt ridden and getting ready to leave his job as attorney general when he received a faintly ominous memo from the CIA. Written by Deputy Director Richard Helms, a man he did not trust, the four-page missive concerned a subject he did not care to think about: assassination.
Seven months before, the 39-year-old RFK had lost his brother and his political power in a burst of gunfire in Dallas. Under President Lyndon Johnson, Helms, a canny 51-year-old spymaster, had kept his job despite the fact that the CIA had been following accused assassin Lee Oswald for four years.
Helms’s memo, entitled “Plans of Cuban Exiles to Assassinate Selected Cuban Government Leaders,” reminded RFK that he had dabbled in the killing business before his brother’s murder and could not escape it even as he prepared to leave the government.
The persuasive power of our adversarial legal system is impressive.
After scholar Max Holland filed a FOIA lawsuit for long-secret records of Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy last week, the National Archives today announced it would immediately open some of the material to the public.
See: National Archives to Open Additional Robert F. Kennedy Records.
The lawsuit was filed last week by the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch on behalf of author Max Holland. The records may well contain information related to the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
From the Boston Globe:
“The records, whose existence was first detailed by the Globe last year, cover sensitive intelligence operations overseen by [Robert] Kennedy during the presidency of his brother and Lyndon Johnson.”
“The contents of the requested boxes include subjects ranging from the Central Intelligence Agency to the minutes from meetings of the so-called ‘special group’ that RFK chaired, and his personal notes on Cuba.”
I asked Holland, via email, how he selected the documents he is seeking. He replied:
Max Holland unearths a JFK-related document recently found in Bobby Kennedy’s papers. The story it tells provides a granular look at the workings of President Kennedy’s Cuba policy on the eve of the disaster in Dallas. Read more
Who says the government can’t keep a JFK secret?
Author Max Holland and the watchdog group Judicial Watch sued the National Archives earlier this month for seven records related to the JFK’s assassination that are held in the unreleased papers of Robert F. Kennedy. Like my lawsuit for CIA JFK records, Holland’s complaint shows the government is very capable of keeping JFK secrets.
A Judicial Watch press release has the details. Read more