Howard Willens, former staff attorney on the Warren Commission, remains one of its most vigorous public defenders 50 years later. As I reported yesterday, he agreed to answer questions from JFK Facts via email. Because all of the questions were submitted at once, there were no follow up questions. In any case, my intent was not to conduct a hostile interrogation but to elicit his thoughts and hopefully start a dialogue. (I found his journal from 1964, which he has posted on his website, to be a valuable document for understanding the limitations of the Commission’s approach to its investigation.)
Now let’s hear from him. Read more
Howard Willens, Warren Commission defender.
Howard Willens, a former Warren Commission staffer, acknowledged in a an email interview with JFK Facts that deputy CIA director Richard Helms was “not truthful” with the Commission and there is “no doubt” that counterintelligence chief James Angleton did not cooperate with the inquiry into JFK’s assassination.
While vigorously defending the Commission’s conclusions, Willens admitted he was naive about the CIA. Asked about a passage in his journal from March 1964 in which he wrote that senior CIA officials “did not have an axe to grind” in the commission’s investigation, Willens acknowledged “my comments about the CIA were naive to say the least.”
Last week, Joseph Lazzaro of International Business Times followed up on a JFK Facts story with some historical perspective.
President Nixon and CIA Director Richard Helms.
The 42nd anniversary of the Watergate burglary reminded me of Richard Nixon’s obsession with the “whole of Bay of Pigs thing.”
H.R. Haldeman, White House chief of staff for Nixon, wrote in his memoirs that he had come to the conclusion that his boss used the phrase as a kind of coded reference to the assassination of President Kennedy.
A tape of a conversation between Nixon and CIA director Richard Helms in October 1971 lends credence to the notion. Listen to the tape, published online by Luke A. Nichter, a history professor at Texas A&M University.
Nixon, it is clear, was interested in what he called the ‘Who Shot John?’ angle.
Listen. Read more
Lisa Howard, ABC News reporter
In response to Two secret memos on JFK and Cuba, John Simkin, the British historian wrote the following essay that gives valuable context to this neglected story.
“The secret negotiations that took place between the JFK administration and the Cuban government could be significant issue in the JFK assassination.
“A key figure in this was Lisa Howard.
One of the very best JFK document researchers recently called attention to two important JFK documents from 1963. They both concern President Kennedy’s exploration of normalizing relations with Fidel Castro’s government in Cuba.
Are the memos relevant to story of JFK’s assassination ? You be the judge.
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.
“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.
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.
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 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.
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
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
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.”
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.