An obscure code name jumped out at me from a key new document in the latest JFK files to be made public by President Trump and the CIA on Friday.
The document, a CIA cable dated October 8, 1963, has been partially released before but the slugline of the cable, LCIMPROVE, has now been declassified. The code name indicates the subject of the cable and thus who in the CIA had responsibility for acting on it.
According to previously released JFK files, LCIMPROVE was the agency’s code name for “counter-espionage involving Soviet intelligence services worldwide.” That was the undisputed domain of counterintelligence chief James Jesus Angleton, the subject of my new book.
The LCIMPROVE slugline is strong evidence that Angleton was notified about Oswald’s contact with Kostikov, a presumed KGB officer. Scott and Angleton had been friends since World War II.
A JFK file released last week showed that some CIA officials suspected Kostikov might work for KGB’s 13th Department, which was reputedly responsible for political assassinations.
What does it mean?
What the Mexico City cable illuminates is the failure of a senior CIA official to pre-empt Oswald as he made his way to Dallas.
The story of Oswald’s contact with Kostikov is not new. The Mary Ferrell Foundation has a good primer on Kostikov. What’s new is that Angleton was informed.
Oswald returned to Texas after his visit to Mexico City.
As I recently reported for the Daily Beast, a senior FBI agent reported Oswald’s return to the Dallas-Fort Worth area to Angleton’s office on November 15, 1963.
The Daily Beast story showed that Angleton knew, or should have known, Oswald was in Dallas.
Now we know that Angleton also knew Oswald had been in contact with a KGB officer who some said was a KGB assassin.
After receiving the October 8 cable, Angleton could have asked the FBI to locate and interview Oswald to explain his contacts with Kostikov. The FBI located him but Angleton is not known to have taken any action.
Seven day later, President Kennedy was dead, allegedly shot dead by Oswald.
Sources and Methods:
How do we know LCIMPROVE refers to “counter-espionage involving Soviet intelligence services worldwide”?
Here’s how: In 1978, the House Select Committee on Assassinations re-opened the investigation of JFK’s death. As the HSCA investigators began to review CIA records, they asked the agency to supply a list of codenames found in the documents.
For more on CIA code names (“cryptonyms”) visit the Mary Ferrell’s Crytonym DataBase.
“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 Jefferson 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
Click here to pre-order: The Ghost: The Secret Life of CIA Spymaster James Jesus Angleton.