Anthony Summers on David Slawson, the newest JFK conspiracy theorist

I think David Slawson’s repudiation of the Warren Commission report in Politico magazine is important. Anthony Summers, best-selling biographer and JFK investigator, disagrees.

In an email from Ireland Summers writes that Slawson’s new interpretation of Kennedy’s assassination is: “interesting but no headline — and, especially given that it comes from a lawyer, contains an oddly unsafe quote.”

“I now know,” Slawson is quoted as saying, “that Oswald was almost certainly not a lone wolf.”

“Many suspect Oswald was not a lone actor in the assassination scenario. Surely no one, though, (unless they have knowledge so far unavailable to the public) knows it as a great likelihood.
“In a further quote, Slawson says he thinks it “very likely” that “people in Mexico encouraged” Oswald to commit the assassination. By “people”, this material indicates, Slawson is referring to “Cuban diplomats and Mexican civilians”.

I know of no compelling testimony or evidence to indicate that Oswald was encouraged by Cuban diplomats or Mexican civilians.–Anthony Summers

“I think I am one of the few reporters who trawled the witnesses in Mexico as early as the late 1970s — including some that the HSCA did not get to, and some not now available to Philip Shenon — and who also conducted interviews in Cuba. I later went back to Mexico to do further interviews. Unless there is something new and surprising in the paperback edition of the Shenon paperback — or unless, from his association with the Warren Commission, Slawson knows something the public does not — I know of no compelling testimony or evidence to indicate that Oswald was encouraged by Cuban diplomats or Mexican civilians.
“There are aspects of my own experience with David Slawson that shake my confidence. In the early 1990s, he told me twice, once on videotape — as his former colleague William Coleman and the former deputy to CIA station chief Win Scott did — that the three of them listened to audiotape surveillance tapes of Oswald in April 1964. On that subject, he has since wavered or been less forthcoming. Ido not know what that may signify, if anything.

“For me, the opinions of survivors of 1963 and the early investigation are today not really of much significance.
“What the case needs is evidence, significant items of which could yet surface in the form of solid documentation so far unseen. The rest is chaff, blowing on the wind of very vaporous history”
To which I would only add: I agree that Slawson flounders in trying to identify the causes of Kennedy’s death. But that doesn’t mean his recantation isn’t important. What matters is that one of the authors of the lone gunman theory no longer has confidence in it. This vindicates critics of the Warren Commission and legitimizes the continuing demands for full disclosure and decisive clarification.

44 thoughts on “Anthony Summers on David Slawson, the newest JFK conspiracy theorist”

  1. Oswald shrinks, stretches, gets heavier, can speak Spanish, but not Russian one day, then can’t speak Spanish, but speaks perfect Russian another day.
    He might have gone to a party. He might not have gone to a party.
    He might have been in Mexico City, he might not have been in Mexico City.

    It’s a crap-shoot! Lay your bets down one and all.

    I don’t buy any of this, as far as I’m concerned whatever went on at these consulates was an intelligence operation meant to frame a patsy.

  2. Let’s play a game. For the moment, assume Lyndon Baines Johnson orchestrated the assassination of John F. Kennedy. I have spent, over the last 40 years, at least 20,000 hours in research analyzing every aspect of the assassination. Every single critical path, every scrap of valid information leads back to Johnson. To me,it is beyond a reasonable doubt. Johnson did it. I KNOW that for a fact.

    Now, based on that conclusion, try to connect the dots to reach the same (obvious) answer. It is long overdue for the truth to come out.

      1. That has been one of the hardest things to nail down. The names could be debated, but in terms of numbers, there were at least three teams. As to number of shots, probably 7-8. Don’t get me wrong, Oswald was involved in the conspiracy,he just never realized he was going to be left holding the bag.

        “Patsy” indeed!

        1. So, how can you “know for a fact” who “did it…beyond a reasonable doubt” if you don’t know who fired the shots? Don’t you have to know who the shooter is to “connect the dots” to who did it?? Shouldn’t you nail that down before making allegations?? Just sayin’…

          1. Not true. If you see enough evidence that someone hired a gunman to shoot somebody, it doesn’t really matter who “pulled the trigger”, but more who organized the killing. Go to Youtube and type in “Kennedy Secret Service Love Field”. You’ll see news footage of the agents being pulled off the back of the president’s limo just as the motorcade was leaving the airport. The liars say Kennedy asked for that. NOT TRUE. Johnson’s team ordered the protection removed.
            One of the videos of Dealey Plaza shows Johnson ducking down in his car as they ENTER the Plaza. The coward knew shots were about to take place.

          2. “If you see enough evidence that someone hired a gunman to shoot somebody, it doesn’t really matter who “pulled the trigger”, but more who organized the killing.”

            Under that process, couldn’t you just arbitrarily pick whomever you didn’t like and accuse them of plotting the assassination?

            You know that most experts on the case don’t agree with you, right?

          3. I didn’t just “pick” LBJ, all the evidence I pieced together pointed right at him. Have you read “JFK&The Unspeakable”?

    1. I have to admit that I’ve always found the “LBJ did it” theory unpersuasive, for these reasons:

      1. LBJ told several people that he did not believe the Warren Report and believed that there had been a conspiracy. Why would a conspirator do that?
      2. If LBJ did know that JFK was going to be shot, it strains belief to suggest that he would have let it happen in his own home state, let alone that he would have placed himself so close to the line of fire.
      3. I’m not so sure that “every scrap of valid information leads back to Johnson.” For me, the most intriguing aspects of the case do not appear to have any obvious connection to LBJ. What was LBJ’s role, for example, in Oswald’s trip to Mexico, the Sylvia Odio episode, or Oswald’s shenanigans in New Orleans?
      4. If LBJ was powerful enough to organize such a conspiracy, it raises the question why he wasn’t powerful enough to grab the nomination in 1960, why he wasn’t powerful enough to resist his advisers’ push for a war in Vietnam that he did not want, and why he wasn’t powerful enough to protect himself from being forced from office in 1968.
      5. Some of the evidence for a conspiracy points toward Oswald being set up so that Castro, thus providing a casus belli for a preemptive war on Cuba. But LBJ immediately moved to quash any talk of a conspiracy and does not seem to have ever seriously considered any aggressive moves against Cuba.

    2. Sorry, my last paragraph should read: Some of the evidence for a conspiracy points toward Oswald being set up so that Castro would be blamed, thus providing a casus belli for a preemptive war on Cuba. But LBJ immediately moved to quash any talk of a conspiracy and does not seem to have ever seriously considered any aggressive moves against Cuba.

    1. What hard evidence would you expect us to have, Avinash? Oswald’s visa application with his photo on it? Silvia Duran’s name and phone number in his address book? A letter in his handwriting talking about his trip to Mexico?

        1. The Cuban government provided a copy of Oswald’s application with photo and signature. Silvia Duran told the HSCA that she recognized him as soon as she saw his photo in the newspapers 11/23 and that the policy was to check the photo on an application and have the applicant sign in her presence.

          But they’re lying too, right?

          1. “Duran’s physical description of the man who visited the Cuban consulate is clearly not of Oswald, as per the HSCA Final Report.”

            A witness’s physical description may be inaccurate and yet they’ll recognize the person when they see him. Duran recognized Oswald’s picture on 11/23.

            She told the HSCA she was certain that the individual she dealt with was Oswald, whom she identified as the person in this photo she’d stapled onto his application:


            The Final Report says, “Despite the unanswered questions the weight of the evidence supported the conclusion that Oswald was the individual who visited the Soviet embassy and Cuban consulate.”

          2. David Regan,
            Thanks for the link to the pdf on the Mexico thing from AARC.

            I have never read the phrase, “it is possible” repeated so many times in any document! The lack of any sense of certainty, or even probability is striking. One is left with a sense that they really don’t know one way or the other whether Oswald was even in Mexico.

            The whole episode takes on the stench of a totally staged intelligence operation.

          3. The physical description offered by Duran is consistent to those offered by Azcue and Contreras. Neither of them could identify Oswald as the man they encountered.

            The Lopez Report concluded “the possibility that someone else used Lee Harvey Oswald’s name during this time in contacts with the Soviet and Cuban Consulates cannot be absolutely dismissed.” We now know this to be a fact.

        2. H.P. Albarelli Jr.

          Duran identified Lee Oswald as the man she met in the consulate at least three times during her HSCA testimony.

          1. Although Oswald’s signature appears on an application for a Cuban in-transit visa, the Cuban Consulate allowed visa applicants to take blank applications out of the Consulate to be returned when completed and Silvia Durán, who stated that she was certain that Oswald signed the application in her presence, gave a description of Oswald that did not resemble his true physical appearance; describing him as being about 5’6″, blonde, and over 30 years of age.

      1. H.P. Albarelli Jr.

        … and his statement that he had gone to Mexico to Postal Master Holmes on the day that Ruby killed him, as well as the fact that he applied for and received a tourist permit for Mexico 10 days before he left.

        1. Coincidentally enough, Oswald’s name on the list of applicants for Mexican entry papers came right next to one William Gaudet. (9/17/63)

          Gaudet had been a source for the CIA as far back as the late 1940s and in the fall of 1963, was Mexico-bound at the same time as Oswald. Gaudet claimed it was pure coincidence they both went into the Consulate one after the other.

          Gaudet said he had contact with the CIA as late as 1969. Under cover of running a publication called the Latin American Newsletter, he worked for the CIA for over 20 years.

          Gaudet was convinced of a conspiracy to kill JFK and while he denied any involvement with Oswald, he said Oswald had been “known to him” in New Orleans. He had observed Oswald handing out leaflets on the street on several occasions; assessed him as a “very nervous, frail, weak man”.

          He had also observed Oswald with Guy Banister, discussing things; Gaudet’s office was very close to Banister’s at 544 Camp Street.

          Gaudet did not believe Oswald killed JFK, saying “I think he was a patsy. He was set up on purpose”.

          1. H.P. Albarelli Jr.

            Gaudet also changed his story twice: once saying that he met Oswald in Mexico City, and once saying he thought Oswald killed JFK. So take your pick with Gaudet. He had a story for everyone.

      2. Yeah, what hard evidence would you expect us to have?

        Recorded wiretaps from LIENVOY and LIFEAT? Surveillance photos from the Russian and Cuban embassies? Oswald’s complete 201 file?

        1. “What about an photograph? Just one photo.”

          Like the backyard photos some CTs have claimed are fake? The Zapruder film some CTs claim is fake? JFK autopsy photos, ditto?

          1. H.P. Albarelli Jr.

            Well, there is a photo: 4 of them to be exact. The 4 that Oswald had taken in Mexico City of himself and that he handed over to the Cuban Consulate. Now deny those…

          2. Interestingly, US investigators combed
            every establishment within several miles’ radius of the Consulate where
            Oswald could have had the picture made; the photo stapled to his visa
            application came from none of them.

          3. H.P. Albarelli Jr.

            You mean within several blocks, and that means little as it could have been made anywhere in Mexico City. So now the issue is where it was taken and not that there is a photo?

          4. You mean the WC was never able to determine the source of the passport photos? Another weak link if there had been a trial.

  3. I entirely disagree that Slawson’s statements are not significant. What he says in terms of theories is irrelevant, what he says about the offical version of events (i.e disbelieving) is very significant. Summers has written a terrific source on the assasination ,but his stated view on the medical evidence is outdated, he has said it is not worth investigating. Yes it is, it shows conspiracy beyond reasonable doubt.

  4. I agree with Jeff that David Slawson’s comments are significant. He helps build a bridge for mainstream media folks to move towards the conspiracy point of view. His limited point of view is nonetheless a trail that may lead places.

    Conspiracy people need to move a bit too. It’s very possible Oswald was a shooter, firing several shots from the TSBD. I think the plotters may have helped him with a trained shooter from another vantage point like the grassy knoll. Still the larger issue is who was monitoring Oswald in the preceding months (Mexico City) and why was he not reported to the secret service by the CIA and FBI for the Nov 22 motorcade?

    1. Agree totally. And most media and lone-nut defenders have not seen the trail of documents that were withheld from the WC.

  5. Arnaldo M. Fernandez

    Summers is right, and the lack of evidence is reinforced with the undeniable logic that neither a Cuban official nor the Mexican civilian Sylvia Duran (she is the only one possible, isn’t she?) could have dared to “wind up” an American citizen for killing his President, after catching him lying (see the CIA transcripts of the phone calls from the Cuban consulate to the Soviet one on September 27, 1963). Moreover if LHO moves were erratic: he firstly went to the Cuban Embassy, instead of the Consulate, asking for visa; he even forgot to bring the photos for the visa application; and he alleged he had no time for trying to get the visa through the fast track between the PCUSA and the Castroit communist party (PURS). Who on earth would encourage such a jerk for committing the crime of the century?

  6. It would be interesting to see what other investigators and observers of 1963-4 (with an open mind) would now say, after being presented with the preponderance of new evidence, evidence which was covered up from their perusal.

    1. I agree. And that narrative, to which Slawson adheres, is that the only shooter in Dealey Plaza was Oswald, so Slawson does NOT repudiate the lone gunman hypothesis.

      1. Let’s assume it’s correct that (presumably pro-Castro)”Cubans in Mexico” were shopping for a JFK assassin. Why in the world would they pick Oswald as a possible candidate? Wouldn’t they prefer someone who could actually accurately fire a rifle? And what possible motive would “Mexicans” have to kill JFK?

        Wouldn’t it be a lot more plausible for the (mad as hell about the Bay of Pigs) Anti-Castro Cubans in FL and/or TX to have done the assassin(s) recruitment?

        Would either group plausibly favor a plot with less than at least 3 shooters? I sure wouldn’t. Makes no sense.


        Exactly! It seems that these guys(feds,etc.) will not dismiss Oswald of being A shooter, period. John Kerry is a your perfect example. They always stop short. Their married to the Warren Report. Slawson is in denial!

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