Tag Archive for Richard Helms

DId the CIA destroy an Oswald tape?

Probably.  A  tape recording of man identifying himself as Oswald was probably destroyed in January 1986. This question, prompted by a comment from reader JSA, is a natural follow up to the question, “Did the CIA track Oswald before JFK was killed?”

Some thing the tape may still exist but I think the evidence suggests otherwise. What is certain is that contrary to the false claims of the CIA, the tape existed after November 22, 1963.
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An epic non-fiction novel of American history

As a former longtime employee of CIA, I can attest that this book conveys a true picture of the goings on within the agency.”

— From Martha Hanchulak’s review of “Our Man in Mexico: Winston Scott and the Hidden History of the CIA.” My first book describes in lucid detail how the CIA’s top man in Mexico viewed President Kennedy’s assassination in 1963: with deep suspicion.

It’s an epic non-fiction novel of American history.

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Did the CIA track Oswald before JFK was killed?

Yes, closely and constantly.

This is one of the biggest JFK revelations of the past 20 years, and one that we need talk up in social and news media on the 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination.

While the CIA assured Congress in the 1970s that its interest in Lee Harvey Oswald before JFK was killed was “routine,” the newest documents tell a very different story: Oswald was monitored closely and constantly by an super-secret office within the CIA’s Counterintelligence Staff from 1959 to 1963, known as the Special Investigations Group.

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Dec 24, 1963: Top CIA official seeking to investigate Oswald is ‘sandbagged’ by his bosses

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

The hidden history of the first JFK conspiracy theory

Last week, Joseph Lazzaro of International Business Times followed up on a JFK Facts story with some historical perspective.

Lazzaro wrote:

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Richard Helms kept the CIA’s secrets on JFK’s assassination

The retired CIA director appears on the defensive in this unusually tough interview with CBS News correspondent Richard Bernstein, around 1992 (H/T Mike Swanson).

Richard Helms, who died in 2002, had a few JFK secrets to keep and he kept them in this interview.

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How the stupid JFK conspiracy debate misleads us

The estimable Andrew Sullivan has weighed in on the JFK conspiracy question. He claims Oswald Killed Kennedy, Period. So has Slate’s Fred Kaplan. He argues that even the best JFK conspiracy theories are bunk.

Let me say I think Sullivan and Kaplan are among the very best online journalists we have. I’m glad to say I count them as friendly acquaintances. I’m sorry to say I also think they have fallen victim of JFK denialism: the very Washington impulse to dismiss troubling evidence in the JFK story. Read more

A JFK conversation with KPFA’s Project Censored

On Friday I spoke with Mickey Huff and Peter Phillips, hosts of the the Project Censored program on KPFA radio in Berkeley, California. I enjoyed the conversation because it escaped the straightjacket of “conspiracy” for a more wide-ranging–and realistic–discussion of the media and the intelligence failure of November 22, 1963.

Listen up.                        Read more

A tough question for Oliver Stone

Rolling Stone asked: “Will the government ever release all of the [JFK] assassination records?”

Oiiver Stone, director of “JFK,” the movie, replied:  ”That’s a tough question.”

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CIA kept RFK apprised of Castro assassination plotting

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.

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Morley v. CIA: Why I sued for JFK assassination records

Where a lawsuit about JFK assassination records will be heard on Feb. 25

In reporting on my February 25 federal court date with the CIA, I explained the goals of my Freedom of Information Act lawsuit seeking certain ancient JFK assassination records. But a friend noted that I hadn’t really explained my theory of the case.

I get these questions a lot. What the hell is Morley v. CIA all about? What are you saying happened in Dealey Plaza? What do you think was really going on? And, inevitably, what’s your theory? Read more

William J. Hood dies; CIA man who signed off on ‘unusual’ Oswald cable

William J. Hood, retired CIA officer

William J. Hood at his home in Amagansett, N.Y.,  in April 2011. (Photo by Jefferson Morley © Jefferson Morley)

William J. Hood, a senior CIA officer involved in the intelligence failure that culminated in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, died last month at age 92.

Hood was one of the highest ranking CIA officials who failed to anticipate that accused assassin Oswald might pose a threat to JFK. On October 10, 1963, he and five senior colleagues at CIA headquarters signed off on a misleading classified cable sent to the CIA station in Mexico City that omitted mention of Oswald’s recent arrest in an altercation with anti-Castro Cubans. Based on the cable’s favorable assessment, the FBI took Oswald’s name off of a list of people of interest to the Bureau. Six weeks later, Oswald was arrested for killing JFK in Dallas.

In a 2007 interview Hood conceded to me that “the information that is left out [of the cable] is pretty significant.” But he denied that there was anything “smelly” about the cable.

In fact, the Oct. 10, 1963, Oswald cable stands out as one of the most odoriferous JFK assassination documents to emerge from the CIA in the last 15 years. Not fully declassified until 2001, the cable has more than a whiff of intrigue because it details what the agency hid from the Warren Commission and what agency officials still attempt to deny: that a handful of senior CIA operatives discussed Oswald’s foreign travels, left-wing politics, and communist contacts just weeks before JFK was killed.

One of them was Bill Hood. Read more