At the Newseum: Epstein’s unconvincing indictment of the pro-Castro assassin

Edward J. Epstein, author of “Annals of Unsolved Crime.”

Edward Epstein, prolific independent journalist and author of three books related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, is one of the most knowledgeable working journalists when it comes to the JFK story

On Sunday, Epstein appeared at the Newseum in Washington to talk to moderator Shelby Coffee (former editor of the Los Angeles Times) and a studio audience of about 125 people about his new book, “Annals of Unsolved Crime,” and his interpretation of the JFK assassination story.

His take: JFK was killed by Lee Harvey Oswald for ideological reasons which Oswald might have shared with Cuban intelligence officials in Mexico City six weeks before JFK was killed.

Epstein’s theory of Oswald, the ideologically motivated pro-Castro assassin, is more reassuring than persistent JFK conspiracy theories that hold the CIA or organized crime responsible for the death of the 35th president. It is also more realistic than the theory that Oswald was a “lone nut,” a notion that Epstein took care to refute, noting that Oswald had a wife, a child and a wide circle of friends. I expect we will be hearing more about the pro-Castro assassin as the 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination approaches in the fall.

With all due respect, I am not persuaded. And Epstein is due respect. As the author of three JFK books (“Inquest,” “Legend,” and “Deception”), Epstein is undoubtedly the only living person who interviewed eight out of nine members of the Warren Commission, as well as 300 people who had contact with Lee Harvey Oswald. His appearance at the Newseum is proof positive that his interpretation of JFK’s death is influential in Washington journalistic institutions.

But is he right? I think his case depends on indulging in speculation about Cuban knowledge of Oswald and his motives while ignoring the now well-documented fact that senior CIA officials were tracking Oswald’s movements as he made his way to Dallas.

1. Epstein’s argument

Epstein told the Newseum crowd that when he first began investigating JFK’s assassination in the 1960s, he faced a basic choice.

“One view was that Oswald was a patsy, that could not have possibly done the shooting,” he said. “I came to the conclusion that he did do the shooting. The question is Why? ”

Epstein said he was especially swayed by the views of Thomas  Mann, the U.S. Ambassador to Mexico in 1963. In the wake of JFK’s death, Mann frantically pressed the CIA and FBI to investigate the possibility that Oswald had acted at the behest of Cuban Fidel Castro.

“That was squelched,” Epstein said without explanation, a point to which I will return.

Oswald was willing to shoot people in service of his political views, Epstein went on. He noted that Oswald tried to shoot Gen Edwin Walker in April 1963. Walker was a cashiered U.S. Army general known for his anti-communist and white supremacist fervor. Oswald, accompanied by another person never identified, fired a shot at Walker’s home on April 10, 1963, but missed him.

Esptein acknowledged that the CIA might have known about this shooting from Oswald’s friend George de Mohrenschildt, a geologist who fed information to the CIA in hopes of receiving favorable treatment for his business interests. Not long after the Walker shooting, Oswald gave de Mohrenschildt a photograph of himself with a rifle inscribed with the words, “Hunter of fascists, hah!”

Finally, Epstein says, the CIA’s efforts to assassinate Castro in late 1963 showed that Castro had a motive to kill Kennedy. Castro seemed to be aware of these plots in September 1963 when he told Associated Press reporter in Havana that U.S. efforts to assassinate Cuban leaders would put U.S. leaders themselves in danger.

“The AP story appeared in the New Orleans Times Picayune and that was what set Oswald in motion,” Epstein said.

Oswald traveled to Mexico City in September 1963, where, Epstein says, he told Cuban diplomats, presumed to be intelligence officers, that he planned to kill Kennedy. Epstein theorizes, without much evidence, that Cubans may have encouraged Oswald.

(Fabian Escalante, retired chief of Cuban counterintelligence, denied that charge to me in a 2009 interview, arguing that  Oswald was the patsy of right-wing forces within JFK’s government.)

“I’ve come to the conclusion that whatever influence was brought to bear on Oswald, happened on that trip,” Epstein concluded.

2. Is Epstein right?

My question is, if Epstein’s theory that Oswald was influenced by Castro is so plausible in 2013, why did senior CIA and FBI officials make sure it was not investigated in 1963.

Epstein was right that Ambassador Mann’s efforts to investigate the pro-Castro Oswald were squelched. Within a week of JFK’s death FBI director J. Edgar Hoover sent an FBI agent to Mexico to tell Mann to stop asking questions. The CIA’s two top men in Mexico, Win Scott and David Phillips, attended the meeting and gave Mann the same message (a scene I describe on pp. 225-226 of “Our Man in Mexico”).

Mann was baffled by this meeting for the rest of his life and for good reason. Hoover’s order begged an obvious question: Why did the thoroughly anti-communist CIA and FBI want to spare the hated Castro from investigation of possible involvement with the pro-Castro assassin?

The answer is found in newly available records that Epstein may not be aware of.

CIA records found by historian John Newman and published in his 1995 book “Oswald and the CIA” showed that Phillips, chief of anti-Castro operations outside of Washington, had targeted the pro-Castro Fair Play for Cuba Committee (FPCC) of which Oswald claimed to be a member, for disruption and harassment via CIA operations in 1961 and 1962.

FBI records uncovered by historian David Kaiser in his 2007 book “The Road to Dallas,” show that the Bureau had targeted the FPCC for surreptitious disruption and harassment in mid-1963.

My decade-long FOIA lawsuit for the records of Phillips’s colleague George Joannides showed that he had funded the Miami-based anti-Castro organization that publicly denounced Oswald’s one-man FPCC chapter three months before JFK was killed.

Collectively, the new records illuminated why Epstein’s theory was not fully investigated after JFK’s death: because any such inquiry would have revealed that the CIA and FBI had been playing close attention to the FPCC and Oswald in the years, months and weeks before JFK was killed.

The new evidence, in short, is more incriminating of the U.S. government than of the Cuban government. That’s why it was hidden in 1963. That’s why the CIA continues to conceal the details of Joannides’ operations a half century later.

Epstein errs, I think, is not taking seriously the evidence that the Kennedy’s assassination was the result of CIA manipulation, negligence or malfeasance. Instead, he insinuates Castro was involved, which is a relatively reassuring message for Washington tourists on a balmy spring afternoon.

But the new historical record of JFK’s assassination is not so reassuring.

68 thoughts on “At the Newseum: Epstein’s unconvincing indictment of the pro-Castro assassin”

  1. It seems to me that by taking the right-wing approach to the JFK assassination (even to the right of the Warren Commission) Ed Epstein is deliberately stirring up public buzz in advance of the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination to be observed in Dallas, Texas this year. Epstein is probably projecting record book sales.

  2. Re: Jay Epstein. There are some real questions being raised as to the man’s integrity by Mark Gorton. The reason for that is Jay Epstein has personally told Mark Gorton that he thought the CIA was behind the JFK assassination and to another person he agreed it was LBJ (those are not mutually exclusive options).

    Contrast that to Epstein’s comments this week that a pro Castro Oswald did it perhaps in cahoots with the Cubans (Castro).

    Web link:

    In addition to that, Epstein has in the past made some pretty savage attacks on Terry Reed’s seminal book: “Compromised: Clinton, Bush and the CIA” (1994) which blew the lid off of CIA drug smuggling as it implicated the highest levels of the Republican & Democratic parties. Epstein’s attacks came in the form of a WSJ column on 4/20/1994 attacking Terry Reed.

    Much of what Reed was saying has been confirmed later. As Bill Clinton told an incensed L.D. Brown about the drug dealing “That’s Lasater’s deal! That’s Lasater’s deal! And your buddy [GHW[ Bush knows all about it!”

  3. Claim: Paperclip scientists were working at Los Alamos.
    Evidence of even one scientist working there: …
    Claim: Paperclip scientists working in Monmouth, N.J. at the end of WW II. Evidence: …
    Claim: can you name them and their connections with the Oswald investigation? Yes I could name them and no they know no evidence of any Oswald connection with the FBI-because there was none aside from his threat to Hosty.

  4. Common sense you make a lot of claims. So you know dozens of friends and neighbours that work for the FBI?

    That is interesting, can you name them and their connections with the Oswald investigation?

    I can make any claim I want and then use it to challenge someone. Frankly it means nothing unless I can prove it or back it up.

  5. Please identify one Paperclip scientist who worked at Los Alamos. How could they be ” be working in Monmouth, New Jersey as the war ended” when the Paperclip scientists were still in Germany in May 1945?
    Paperclip scientists were essentially rocket scientists- not nuclear physicists. You have confused Alsos With Paperclip.

    1. My source was closely related to the theoretical division of the lab, and I will not betray their confidence. I will pre-empt that you will not like that answer, but I won’t be bullied. I believe that you will find Edwin Black as a good source.

      You are confusing what I said that initiated your offensive approach to Operation Paperclip. I did not state that Paperclip scientists were involved with Oswald.

      What I said related to the ethos of Dallas at the time in question, and I observed that several Nuremberg Trial legal participants returned to their hometown, Dallas. Of all of the highly qualified legal professionals in the US from which to draw, it is significant that at least two were from Dallas, which suggests they had some familiarity with the powers behind the trials – That person of influence could have been John McCloy – Warren Commission member – and attorney for Clint Murchison,

      From there I opined that the trials, by their very nature, would have brushed against US intelligence who would have provided them with information about the defendants, some of whom were released. The CIA then ran Paperclip. Industry, particularly but not limited to military industry, was anxious (to put it mildly) to acquire the science and technology coming out of Germany, and the CIA provided the experts.

      This requires activating a kaleidoscopic view of the conditions in our country in 1963 which you would have to be Willing to do. It really is your choice.

  6. In 1977 a man named Billie Joe Lord wrote a letter to President Jimmy Carter in which he talked about the pressure that was put on him by Edward Jay Epstein to talk about his experiences with Lee Harvey Oswald who was his shipmate to Europe in 1959 when (US intelligence agent) Oswald defected to the USA.

    As Edward Jay Epstein was pressuring this man to talk (in 1976) he brought up the name of George W. Bush, the son of the then CIA director GHW Bush. George W. Bush was an indirect boss of Billie Joe Lord at this time. Epstein also namedropped the name of Jim Allison and told Lord if he did not talk there would be pressure coming from Jim Allison (his boss) and George W. Bush!

    There are 3 pages of Billie Joe Lord’s letter to President Carter at this web link:

    Billie Joe Lord also implies someone was trying to wiretap his phone in this time period.

    This Billie Joe Lord letter to President Carter is yet another reason I believe that George Herbert Walker Bush was involved in the JFK assassination. It also raises questions about Edward Jay Epstein & his tactics and approach to the JFK assassination: using bully pressure tactics to get an Oswald acquaintance to talk.

    1. Billie Joe Lord was so ticked off at the tactics of Edward Jay Epstein that he wrote a complaint letter to the FBI. You can find links to that FBI complaint by Billie Joe Lord at Bruce Campbell Adamson’s web site. I have the highest respect for Adamson; this is a man who has done decades of shoe leather grunt work on the JFK assassination.

      Web link for Billie Joe Lord’s FBI complaint against Edward Jay Epstein, who was working for Reader’s Digest at that time – 1986:

      Reader’s Digest was pushing some serious disinformation on the JFK assassination at that time.

  7. No answer. The CIA didn’t even exist at the time of the Nuremberg Trials. The Paperclip scientists were initially at White Sands in New Mexico,then at the Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Ala. Except for passing through they never were in Dallas-please document you claims that those scientists had anything to do with Dallas. If you are going to claim that some may have been war criminals, then do so. But don’t come up with some fable about that having anything to do with Dallas or the assassination.
    There is absolutely no evidence that Lee Oswald worked for or was even aware of General Dynamics or any other local contractor.Despite your claims there is absolutely no evidence that Oswald worked for, associated with or was contracted to FBI in any way. There is no evidence that Oswald worked for,was contracted to or had any association With the CIA. And I will give you a bonus- there is no evidence that Oswald was even aware of the existence of the NSA, which has a budget multiples of the combined budgets of both the company and the Bureau. Unless you could tell me what exit you would take off the GW Parkway in 1963 to reach CIA headquarters I doubt that your knowledge of the subject is anything but speculation,and ill informed at that.
    I have perhaps a dozen friends and neighbors who are associated with the Bureau. Not one of them have ever even heard of any connection between Oswald and the FBI. Do you know even one FBI associate?

    1. What are you saying? Paperclip scientists arrived at Los Alamos in the earliest stages of the development. Others were at Brooks Air Force Base in San Antonio from the outset. Others were involved in bio-weapons development in Monmouth, New Jersey as the war ended.

      As I recall, and I won’t take the time to confirm, this thread developed along the lines of who was handling Oswald, and the possibility that there was a domestic conspiracy and/or who was in the shadows orchestrating the assassination if Oswald did not act alone or was a mere patsy.

      Who mentioned General Dynamics? I didn’t. But since you brought the military contractor into the discussion, Frank Pace, President of the company acting for the Crown family of Chicago, sat on the board of Nation-Wide Securities with Allen Dulles and Nathan Twining when he left the agency. I would suspect that his relationship with Pace developed long before that. Have you addressed Bell Helicopter or Collins Radio in your defensive argument? We can go down both of those paths as well. The point being, the CIA would have been completely enmeshed with military contractors if they were doing their job.

      The CIA was a spawn of the OSS, in the event you are testing me, and there was a distinct rivalry among those holdovers from OSS and the new recruits, not to mention the competition for funding challenged by the existing highly secret semi-private operation known as The Pond.

      You have not identified how familiar you are with the dynamics of Dallas, the city, in the 1950’s and early 1960’s. If you are, then you know how dependent the developing oil industry was on the powers based in New York. Banks (Chase, Morgan, First National City etc.) were heavily invested in the expanding exploration, and it was a quid pro quo dynamic. HL Hunt contributed heavily to the Chase Bank/ Rockefeller efforts in Latin America via Summer Institute of Linguistics which the CIA actively exploited for one example

      Will Robert Strauss suffice as a former FBI agent.

      Or will the former agent who joined Hunt’s security team answer your question

      “If you are going to claim that some may have been war criminals, then do so.”

      Perhaps you followed a comment I made some days ago describing an incident involving brown shirts (without the regalia) in a perfectly sophisticated setting in Dallas related to Hunt, celebrating Adolph Hitler’s birthday, laughing at their little secret. I am making no accusations, but I am sharing an observation. You can draw conclusions.

  8. What do the Nuremberg Trials have to do with the CIA or any aspect of intelligence? What does Operation Paperclip have to do with intelligence operations in Dallas in 1963? Are you suggesting that Werner von Braun or Walter Dornberger were on the grassy knoll taking shots at JFK for God-knows-what reason? What great intelligence facilities were in Dallas in 1963? What Communist countries had consulates there? Were Clint and the Dallas Cowboys in on it,too?

    1. CS: If you have seriously researched the Nuremberg Trials you could not ask that question. I can’t do that for you.

      Operation Paperclip affected the nation in ways we are still unwilling to confront. No, I do not think that Dornberger or von Braun were behind the fence.

      I realize that the supposition that the CIA was adhering to their mandate and was not involved in domestic activities is something you want to hold on to. However, military contractors based in Dallas or with major facilities in the region were by their nature involved on the international stage and required levels of intelligence only the CIA and other related agencies could provide. Their presence in Dallas is by no means incredible. As for consulates, if memory serves – you are correct, I cannot identify a communist office, however I can certainly name several communist-leaning countries who wanted their office there to ensure the menace did not take hold in their country, if that makes sense.

      Again, if you have not researched Clint Murchison, Delhi Taylor Oil (on whose board was DH Byrd as well as members of the Bass/Richardson family), and their activities in Mexico and South America, there is no basis for a discussion. Certainly Roger Staubach’s participation in the 50th Anniversary ruse will add an emotional element, and in that way the Cowboys can participate with dignity.

  9. Jason L, what is Marine intelligence?
    What is a 201 file? You do know that in 1963 domestic spying by the CIA was illegal-right?
    Please document Oswald’s history of being an FBI informant, or even what he would be informing about.
    The only interaction that I know of between the FBI and Oswald was his threat to the local Dallas agent if he didn’t stop attempting to contact Marina.Do you have something else?

    1. CS: Assuming that you are genuinely interested in answers and asking in good faith, I’ll jump in here. As has been recently discussed on this site, a report of Oswald holding FBI identity circulated to the extent that the possibility reached the desk of Allen Dulles of the Warren Commission.

      In January of ’64, Dulles phoned Robert H. Stewart II (legal participant of the Nuremberg Trials and former Dean of SMU Law) who was evidently serving – at least during that phone call – as a liaison between Dallas officials and the Warren Commission,

      On January 23, 1964, only days after the call, Stewart flew to D.C. along with District Attorney Henry Wade and Assistant District Attorney Wm. Alexander in response to Dulles’ summons. It was Alexander who was alleged to have been responsible for the story about the FBI badge. Whether or not it was ever validated, I do not know, but I know that if the story was true, this meeting was the perfect opportunity to silence those involved in the dissemination of the explosive fact.

  10. CS:

    ” If he was so tied up with US intelligence why was he in Dallas with a crummy go-nowhere job in a backwater devoid of any importance to the CIA,FBI or the NSA for that matter? ”

    1) I have encountered several individuals in my life who have divulged their contract work with government intelligence, one of whom is a close relative. If you met them on the street, you would not be struck by anything extraordinary, and only one has achieved any degree of prosperity in his life.

    2) And clearly you have no familiarity with Dallas if that is the “backwater” to which you refer. For instance, three of the key persons serving at the Nuremberg Trials were native Dallasites and returned to hold significant positions in the community, including Dean of SMU Law. It is clear that the trials related to the US intelligence community particularly in light of Operation Paperclip. Clint Murchison could not be considered as anything but a conduit for the CIA or perhaps deeper. H.L. Hunt, for whose organization I have worked, functioned in tandem with US propagandists controlled by the CIA. To name but a few examples of poor little backwater Dallas.

  11. Robert Morrow, please clearly identify what close ties Oswald had to US intelligence, not heresay from phony CIA agents or intel “experts” but real data. If he was so tied up with US intelligence why was he in Dallas with a crummy go-nowhere job in a backwater devoid of any importance to the CIA,FBI or the NSA for that matter? What kind of frame job for the Walker shooting made sense when nobody even knew who took the shot-until Marina told investigators AFTER Oswald was buried. She was the link-although after the authorities found a picture of Walker’s house with Oswald’s effects they might have looked into it. It is pretty hard to frame someone for a killing when multiple witnesses see the same person standing over a body blowing the brains out from that body with a .38. Of course, maybe that mind-erasing ray gun was handy.

    1. Oswald’s 201 file indicates that the CIA was keeping close tabs on him at a minimum. Oswald was also in Marine intelligence and learned Russian somehow along the way well enough that he was able to live in the USSR for several years and take on a Russian wife who placed his accent as Latvian (her words, since you find her so credible). There is also strong evidence that Oswald was at least an FBI informer, and he had other links to the FBI in New Orleans. Oswald was then spied on by the CIA when he was in Mexico City in the fall of 1963, more strong evidence that the CIA was keeping tabs on him. Gaeton Fonzi also uncovered a witness that saw David Phillips and Oswald together in Dallas weeks before the assassination.

      I no doubt left some evidence out. The fact is, there’s overwhelming evidence that suggests a linkage between Oswald and US intelligence. What the relationship actually was and what it means is something that is certainly open to question. Why he was in Dallas is something we’d all like to know!

      1. A 201 file is opened routinely on any defector. I’ve read LHO’s 201. Please point out CIA connections for me. Your posting is totally your biased opinion and contains no evidence at all. In addition do you have any coroboration for the so called Fonzi witness?

    2. Marina Oswald, age 22 years old with no money, a toddler and a baby, told a tremendous amount of lies about her dead husband Lee in the wake of the JFK assassination and she was a marionette doll for US intelligence who surrounded her and controlled her. Marina hated the interpreter, Ilya Mamantov, who was provided for her by US intelligence connected Jack Crichton, because Mamantov would warp her words in an effort to frame LHO and cast him in the worst light possible.

      Anything that came out of Marina’s mouth, especially with Mamantov’s word warping “help,” in the 1963-64 time period should be treated with the greatest skepticism.

      1. Robert, there are plenty of researchers who personally interviewed Marina Oswald and find her completely believable. The testimony she gave — after she took the oath — remained self-consistent and she never changed her story to this very day. She was the closest person to Lee Harvey Oswald, and she had the bruises to prove it. Oswald was a commoner who flew any way the wind blew. When De Mohrenschildt and Schmidt told Oswald to attack Walker, Oswald obliged. When Banister and Ferrie told Oswald to pretend to be an FPCC officer and sneak into Cuba, Oswald obliged. When Gerry Patrick Hemming told Oswald to bring his rifle to the TSBD depository on 11/22/1963, Oswald obliged. He kept Marina totally in the dark. She only told what she knew.

  12. Sometimes I wonder if those who are 100% certain of a domestic conspiracy such as myself wouldn’t have been better off letting the opposition having LHO shooting at JFK and killing Tippit, but never giving them the Magic Bullet Theory, nor the denial of at least one shot coming from the grassy knoll area. Otherwise, it just goes around in circles with 2, 3 or 5 choices for every major controversial area that can never be proven or disproven beyond a reasonable doubt. At least we might have some more common ground which we need with the Big media if we are ever to advance the conspiracy cause with our hardest evidence. At the very least Oswald was not a patsy, he was the indispensible man as Richard Nagell said and the conspiracy would not have worked without his participation. He was under orders and all his pro-castro shennanigans are just a charade

    1. Because of Oswald’s close ties to US intelligence I believe he was indeed involved in the JFK assassination, but not as a shooter. That was a frame job. Ditto Tippit killing. Ditto Walker shooting – all frame jobs to pin it all on a dead man and let the high level murderers both in and outside of government go free.

  13. Precisely what makes Jim Douglass an expert in anything but Catholic theology or nuclear disarmament?
    If LBJ had to close down Operation Mongoose it was obviously ongoing at the time JFK died.
    Fighting against reactionary forces in his own government? That would be news to Ngo Dinh Diem, whom Kennedy allowed to be killed a couple of weeks previously.I think that showed Fidel that JFK had no problem with political assassination, not that he was unaware of the multiple plots that had already transpired.

    1. I don’t think anyone disputes that the operations against Castro were ongoing, but they were in the process of being shut down, as the FBI raids on camps near New Orleans shows. As for the Diem coup, JFK never authorized it and was shocked when it happened. Henry Cabot Lodge rather clearly went rogue.

      This view of the government as monolithic is clearly outdated based on what we know today. There were clearly competing forces, and the communist world was well aware of the internal power struggles inside the JFK administration.

  14. Jonathan, I hate to break this to you but Fidel had an excellent reason to want Kennedy dead- JFK was actively trying to kill him!
    Yup, that evil Jack Valenti and that right wing fanatic Bill Moyers were obviously vicious criminals active in a plot to murder the President of the U.S. Maybe Ladybird hired the Corsicans who were firing from the grassy knoll next to the bums and the Cuban exiles who were also firing, or perhaps Nellie Connolly shot her husband to cover up for LBJ.

    1. Castro had shown himself to be outrageously impetuous when it came to the Cuban Missile Crisis, no doubt. But he was also no doubt aware that JFK was fighting an action against reactionary forces in his own government, and that if he were replaced, the replacement would be way worse from Castro’s point of view. Castro was also in the process of negotiating with JFK’s emissary for a normalization of relations, a normalization which would have legitimized Castro’s rule in Cuba.

      I wouldn’t necessarily dismiss the “Castro did it” theory if there were any real evidence for it. Of course, the fact that people like LBJ and other insiders like Bobby Inman privately held this view belie claims by WC supporters that there is no evidence of conspiracy. The whole thing stinks to high heaven.

    2. CIA did an assessment after the assassination of whether Castro and the Cubans were behind the assassination. CIA concluded they were not. This assessment was in Oswald’s CIA 201 file released in 1993. The basis for the conclusion was extensive CIA monitoring of Cuban communications which indicated surprise and consternation in response to the assassination. Also Oswald did not fit the pattern of KGB assassins (KGB trained the Cubans). The KGB used assassins that had no ties to the USSR- their method was to use rightists who had never visited the USSR in order to maintain deniability. Oswald’s conspicusous ties to the USSR and Cuba did not fit this pattern. The Warren Commission accepted CIA’s analysis.

    3. Surely you jest.

      Surely you know JFK was reaching out to Castro via back-channel with William Atwood.

      Surely you defend everything LBJ. I wonder why.

  15. Oops, 7 wounds on 3 shots is actually reasonable. 7 wounds, on 1 shot not so much.

    Was Oswald in on it? Undoubtedly. Did he fire shots? Possibly but the time frame for him getting downstairs and seeing the officer is highly debatable.

    I applaud all of you for trying to find the truth but frankly I believe that much of the truth has already been exposed and investigated.

  16. I am certainly no expert on the Kennedy murder but find it laughable that anyone with a reasonable mind would would believe the fiction of the Warren Commission.

    1. if Oswald did it alone, why not take the easier shot much earlier?

    2. 3 shots for 7 wounds. Yes it is possible but highly improbable?

    3. Even if Oswald was a sharp shooter it would be almost impossible to do the shooting from the 6th floor window with the rifle.

    4. It is obvious from watching the Zapruder film that he was shot from the front. The silly explanations to show otherwise or as laughable as the silliest conspiracy theory.

  17. So “LBJ and crew” murdered John Kennedy, but Fidel was ” most certainly was not”? While I consider it unlikely that Oswald could have cooperated with anybody in a conspiracy his visit to the Cuban Embassy certainly is intriguing. It is not like Fidel had never sanctioned political assassination in the past. For 50 years he has gotten away with knocking off Camilo Cienfuegos after Huber Matos didn’t do it for him.
    So actually who was LBJ’s crew? Bill Moyers ? Jack Valenti? Did his protege agree to take a round in the grand plan to put Lyndon in the White House? No,let me guess -Dean Rusk and McNamara were tired of JFK and wanted to move on to better things. Earth to Robert- your parents are hear to pick you up.

    1. Interesting that you mention Moyers and Valenti and hone in on Robert Morrow.

      Moyers and Valenti were, as we know, LBJ insiders; big time insiders. In fact, Valenti and Moyers got the History Channel to self-censor by not showing the last three episodes of “The Men Who Killed Kennedy”, one of which directly accuses LBJ of complicity in the plot to assassinate JFK.

      Earth to Photon: James Douglass’s book “…’Unspeakable'” shows clearly and convincingly why neither Castro nor Khruschev had any reason to want Kennedy dead; quite to the contrary.

  18. Vasilios Vazakas

    Epstein does not err. He deliberately lies. He is a man with a hidden agenda. No excuses.
    And respecting him? for what? for writing books with Angleton’s guidance?
    I could have written no problem that way. So i suggest we cut the pleseantaries and expose him for what he really is.

  19. Morley: “My question is, if Epstein’s theory that Oswald was influenced by Castro is so plausible in 2013, why did senior CIA and FBI officials make sure it was not investigated in 1963.”

    Because the murderers of John Kennedy – LBJ and crew – were running the non-investigation into his death. Any serious investigation of a “conspiracy” would inevitably end up on their doorsteps. So the murderers of JFK had to squelch any investigation into a conspiracy, while at the same time, pretty much tell everyone behind the scenes that Fidel Casto or the Russians did it & if we don’t cover this thing up it is going to be WWIII. Clever, eh?

    If Fidel Castro had been behind the JFK assassination – which he most certainly was not – there would have been an immediate invasion of Cuba.

  20. Leslie said: “Their only crime if you will was negligence and malfeasance and perhaps some degree of manipulation of Oswald the man?”

    But isn’t that the perfect crime? There can never be an accusation of planning anything, just allow the cracks to be wide enough for a killer to get through. A little manipulation of Oswald here and there, negligence in security and communication for the president, along possibly with another professional shooter to make sure the job gets done, and you’ve got a “patsy” in the sense that we was “utilized” to get where he was, misled in many ways, but still shoots a gun and therefore can be blamed.

    To me this remains a very serious crime because it is “planning” a murder by allowing it to happen. Plausible deniability remains intact and evidence that they knew better or could have prevented the crime is repressed.

    1. Tom: As you know, I was taking from Jeff Morley’s opening thread:

      “Epstein errs, I think, is not taking seriously the evidence that the Kennedy’s assassination was the result of CIA manipulation, negligence or malfeasance.”

      I hear what you are saying and concur particularly on your observation about plausible deniability.

      However, I’m concerned with this limitation to their culpability; I still believe that they (and when I say they, I mean certain elements) were far more pro-active. The theory also completely disregards Allen Dulles’ role on the Warren Commission unless we believe that he simply lost sight of his mandate.

      I’m not prepared to concede that Oswald was anything but a patsy, deliberately positioned in the depository building, maneuvered into bringing a rifle into the building and identified within minutes by the building manager for starters. Had he shot the president, why would he have virtually strolled from the building. Why would he have so spontaneously insisted “I’m just a patsy?”

      Too many things don’t make sense under Epstein’s proposition and perhaps he addresses them in the new book. I would wonder, for instance, who were the various Oswalds appearing around the city leading up to the assassination for one minor example.

      It’s conceivable that if this snowball begins to role, it will obscure a myriad of facts amidst the euphoria of closure. Maybe the Epstein’s of the world are growing weary and yearn to see the case solved in their lifetime.

  21. I had forgotten how heavily the Warren Commission relied on the Walker incident.

    A good defense attorney post-assassination might have been able to challenge the supposition that IF Oswald attempted to murder General Walker,THEN he must have murdered John Kennedy, in spite of the rule of probative value and particularly in light of the fact that Oswald was never charged with the attempted murder of Walker. Oswald was not afforded a fair trial in the Walker case, posthumously he was presumed innocent until proven guilty, and his assumed guilt weighed in heavily with the commission.

    Was the Walker incident thoroughly investigated in the spring of ’63 but Oswald wasn’t arrested? Walker insisted there were two men involved. Who was the second man?

    1. The Walker shooting if nothing else showed Oswald’s propensity towards violence with guns. Perhaps Oswald planned on adding the shooting to his resume. Within the intel organizations there can be no doubt that protecting assets, both human and electronic is a high priority concern. Arguably the highest priority. I disagree with your assessment Oswald may have been “utilized” during the assassination. Firstly, there is no evidence to suggest this but more importantly Oswald was not that type of personality. Oswald, throughout his life manipulated people to achieve his own personal goals. He manipulated the Soviets to remain in Russia. He manipulated Roy Truly to obtain his position at the TSBD. He attempted to manipulate the Embassies in Mexico City. Oswald was a scoundrel of the highest order. Violence was a way of life for him.

          1. Yeah, I’ve seen it and read it.

            Newman did some investigation into these cases. You might find the following to be interesting as well:

            Lee Harvey Oswald was not the only American who defected to the Soviet Union in the years 1959-60. Others included Joseph Dutkanicz, Vladimir Sloboda, Robert E. Webster, Bruce Frederick Davis, Nicholas Petrulli and Libero Ricciardelli. A CIA SR/6 soft file was set up in 1960 entitled “American Defectors to the USSR”. John Newman (Oswald and the CIA) discovered a memo from this file that stated that “basic information” had been “extracted for the US Defector Machine Program”. It goes on to say: “In all instances in which the material was unique, or represented a valuable collation effort, it has been incorporated into the appropriate 201 file, along with a copy of this memorandum.”

            Libero Ricciardelli, who had served in the US Air Force, defected in August, 1959. He lived in Kiev until returning to the United States in June, 1963.

            Robert E. Webster had been working for the Rand Development Corporation as a plastics technician at the American National Exhibition in Moscow, when he disappeared in September, 1959 emerging a month later on Oct. 17 at the U.S. Embassy, where he attempted to renounce his citizenship. Webster returned to the United States in May, 1962.

            On Sept. 5, 1959, Nicholas Petrulli of Long Island renounced his American citizenship in Moscow but after being turned down for Soviet citizenship decided to return to the U.S. on Sept. 21.

            Lee Harvey Oswald was the next to go in October, 1959. He was followed by Bruce Frederick Davis. After serving 5 years in the U.S. Army, Davis left his post in West Germany and defected to the Soviet Union in August 1960. He lived in Kiev before returning to the United States in July, 1963.

            Joseph Dutkanicz and his wife defected in May, 1960. A few days later Vladimir Sloboda and his wife also defected. Both men had a lot in common. As John Newman points out: “Both had been in Germany, in the Army, in Military Intelligence Branch, had defected within days of each other, and had been recruited by the KGB prior to their defections”.

            Sloboda later told an American Embassy official in Moscow that he had been blackmailed and framed in going to the USSR. His wife, who was English, managed to leave the Soviet Union.

            Dutkanicz applied to return to the United States. His wife arrived back in America in March, 1962 but the Soviet authorities prevented him from leaving the country and it is reported that he died in November 1963.

            For further information on this subject see:

            John Newman, Oswald and the CIA (1995)

            The Defector Study: Staff Report of the Select Committee on Assassinations U.S. House of Representatives (March 1979)


            AJ Weberman, CIA Reaction to Oswald’s Defection


            Peter R. Whitmey, Did Oswald Come Back?


            Libero Ricciardelli Papers


  22. Robert Morrow grow up. There is no evidence that Lee Oswald had any links to any intelligence agency,east or west. He most certainly did shoot JD Tippit – there were multiple eyewitnesses,the gun he was carrying at the time of his arrest matched the bulletts taken from Tippit’s body,etc.,etc. Even the vast majority of conspiracy buffs accept that Oswald killed Tippit.

    1. Photon, slow down, you’re moving too fast.

      Oswald most certainly had marking of intelligence links: George deM, Guy Bannister, Warren deBrueys (sp?). Aliases. P.O. Boxes. Inexplicable activities such as the trip to Clinton, LA, and the alleged but never proven trip to Mexico City.

      Oswald most certainly didn’t shoot Tippitt. First, he couldn’t have gotten from his rooming house to the murder scene in time to do the deed, unless one believes the WC’s and FBI’s re-writing of Tippitt’s final timeline. Second, officer Poe, who recovered the spent shells used to kill Tippitt, marked the shells; the shells admitted into evidence by the WC did not bear his markings. Third, Oswald’s revolver had a bent and non-functional firing pin. Fourth, the bullets recovered from Tippitt do not contain the bulge a .38 caliber slug fired through Oswald’s re-chambered revolver would have. Etc.

    2. Let me quote Guy Bannister, an ultra-rightist who had been one of Hoover’s favorites when he was the FBI SAC in Chicago;

      Guy Bannister to his secretary/mistress Delphine Roberts about Lee Harvey Oswald:

      “He’s with us. He’s associated with the office.”

      [Anthony Summers, Conspiracy, 1991 ed., p. 295]

  23. The “Castro did it” or “Oswald did it for Castro or the Russians” is just a fantasy pushed by the murderers of John Kennedy and they have been pushing this lie since … 11/23/63 or sooner. LBJ tried to pull that one on Ted Sorenson on the day after the assassination but Sorenson would not have it.

    Key point: Lee Harvey Oswald was U.S. intelligence and he shot NO ONE on 11/22/63.

    1) “Oswald and the CIA” book by John Newman
    2) “Spy Saga: Lee Harvey Oswald and US Intelligence” book by Philip Melanson
    3) “History Will Not Absolve Us” by Martin Schotz (Chapter 5 “Oswald and U.S. Intelligence” by Christopher Sharrett)
    4) “Me and Lee” book by Judyth Vary Baker (Oswald’s mistress in New Orleans, summer 1963)
    5) “Destiny Betrayed” by Jim DiEugenio, Chapter 7 “On Instructions from His Government” (2012 edition)
    6) “A Certain Arrogance: U.S. Intelligence’s Manipulation of Religious Groups and Individuals in Two World Wars and the Cold War – and the Sacrificing of Lee Harvey Oswald” book by George Michael Evica
    7) “Accessories After the Fact” by Sylvia Meagher, Chapter 19 “Oswald and the State Department’”
    9) “Coup D’Etat in America: The CIA and the Assassination of John F. Kennedy” by Alan Weberman & Michael Canfield, Chapter 3 “Was Oswald a CIA Agent?”
    10) “Oswald in New Orleans: Case for Conspiracy with the CIA” by Harold Weisberg
    12) “Oswald: The Truth” by Joachim Joesten (1967)
    13) Chapter 9 “Fingerprints of Intelligence” in “Reasonable Doubt” by Henry Hurt
    14) Chapter 14 “Oswald and the CIA” in “Oswald: Assassin or Fall Guy” by Joachim Joesten
    15) Chapter 12 ” Was Oswald a Government Agent” in “Breach of Trust: How the Warren Commission Failed the Nation and Why” by Gerald McKnight
    16) Chapter 13 “Spies” in “Farewell America” by James Hepburn
    17) Google “Lee Harvey Oswald’s reading habits summer 1963” by Judyth Vary Baker
    18) Google ” Lee Harvey Oswald—a U.S. Intelligence Agent: The Evidence by Hal Verb”
    19) Google “The Death of a President by Eric Norden in The Minority of One, Jan, 1964”
    20) “The Search for Lee Harvey Oswald” by Robert Groden
    21) “I am a Patsy! I am a Patsy!” by George De Mohrenschildt
    22) Google “Oswald and the FBI” by Harold Feldman, The Nation January, 1964, pp 86-89

  24. “any such inquiry would have revealed that the CIA and FBI had been playing close attention to the FPCC and Oswald in the years, months and weeks before JFK was killed.”

    Does this suggest that the FBI and/or CIA weren’t actually ‘running’ Oswald, but were instead keenly interested in and concerned by his stint in Russia and his pro-Castro activities, and that they weren’t actually privy to the source of influence under which he was operating? Their only crime if you will was negligence and malfeasance and perhaps some degree of manipulation of Oswald the man?

  25. Attempts to kill Castro were ongoing at the time JFK was assassinated. Castro had already threatened retaliation for the continued attempts. As for Castro fearing retaliation from the U.S., the previous year he told Khrushchev he was willing to let Cuba be vaporized if necessary for the anti-imperialist struggle.
    But Oswald? The sociopathic loser who couldn’t make it in the Soviet Union despite lavish(by Soviet standards) assistance?
    On the other hand, when Johnson found out about the “Murder,Inc. in the Caribbean” he shut it down. He always harbored suspicions about a Cuba link, suspicions that he never wanted to follow up on,because they could have led to war with Cuba and a nuclear exchange with the USSR.

    1. Lyndon Johnson, with his personal hit man Malcolm Wallace, was running Murder, Inc. down in Texas. The first person to accuse Lyndon Johnson of being a murderer was the sitting governor of Texas, Allan Shivers, and he told LBJ that to his face, accusing him of the 1952 Sam Smithwick prison murder.

      “According to Johnson, in 1956, Governor Allan Shivers of Texas accused him of having had Smithwick murdered. The charge understandably enraged Johnson. [Robert Dallek, “Lone Star Rising,” p. 347]l

      1. And in continuation of the Texa Murder, Inc. being run by Lyndon Johnson theme, I should add that Billie Sol Estes, alive today, has admitted planning murders with Lyndon Johnson, including the June, 1961, murder of US Ag official Henry Marshall:

        These murders were insinuated in a 1964 book “A Texan Looks at Lyndon: A Study in Illegitimate Power” by J Evetts Haley and they were confirmed in the 1980’s by Billie Sol Estes with the help of Texas Ranger Clint Peoples.

        So I don’t think LBJ was too concerned about shutting down murder operations.

    2. “But Oswald? The sociopathic loser who couldn’t make it in the Soviet Union despite lavish(by Soviet standards) assistance?”

      Oswald wasn’t completely incompetent. He got himself into the USSR via his intelligence work for the CIA. John Newman has researched this quite thoroughly and I advise that if you want to understand this case and argue your point, you educate yourself about what we now know about Oswald. Finally, his easy return to the USA, almost no questions asked, during the height of the cold war leaves me suspicious that he was dangled by intelligence and brought back through their guidance. No “sociopathic loser” would be allowed back into these United States that easily.

  26. At the time of his death, JFK was negotiating with Castro (via a back channel) for the normalization of relations. It doesn’t make sense that Castro would assassinate JFK.

    Why would someone who wanted Walker dead also want JFK dead? The two are far away from one another on the ideological spectrum. This association to me is a lens into how naive the American public was in 1963.

    1. This is the correct question. General Walker and JFK were not only far apart, they were enemies, as shown by their showdown at Ole Miss on 30 September 1962, when James Meredith bid to be the first Black American to attend that college. JFK sent thousands of federal troops, and Walker brought thousands of right-wing militants. Hundreds were wounded and two were killed. JFK then threw Walker into an insane asylum. Seven days later, with help from the ACLU and psychiatrist Thomas Szasz, Walker emerged, and in three more months, after lying to a Mississippi Grand Jury, Walker was acquitted of all charges. Walker, a WW2 hero, was the only US General to resign in the 20th century. He had more against JFK than Carlos Marcello. Plus, Walker lived in Dallas and was profoundly influential among the right-wing there, including many members of the DPD. After fifty years the debate rages on.

  27. Jeff, why should anyone here believe Epstien?

    I’m an authority in my field. I ask anyone to challenge me.

    Why not challenge Epstein?

  28. Paul,

    You write:

    My belief is Oswald, in his mind needed to get to Havana to reassure Castro he would eliminate Kennedy. This is in fitting with Oswald’s psychological profile. Oswald believed guns changed history. The Walker attempt was but one example.”
    “I’ve written about the Castro interview with Daniel Harker several times. The interview took place at the Brazilian Embassy in Havana and appeared in the Times Picayune on September 9, 1963. Personally I believe this was the genesis for what decisions came next for Oswald. My belief is Oswald, in his mind needed to get to Havana to reassure Castro he would eliminate Kennedy. This is in fitting with Oswald’s psychological profile. Oswald believed guns changed history. The Walker attempt was but one example.”

    You assign Oswald’s ostensible reason to get to Cuba to reassure Castro.

    1. Jonathan, in August, 1959 a former Sergeant in the U. S. Army, one William Morgan received considerable press when he lured several anti-Castro rebels into a trap by pretending to be a counter-revolutionary. Morgan, a Major in Castro’s army was a hero to Oswald per Oswald’s Marine friend, Nelson Delgado. This could possibly explain Oswald’s counter revolutionary activities while in NO. While we may never learn about Oswald’s true desire to get to Cuba, we can surely narrow it down somewhat based on Oswald’s history. For me personally I believe Oswald was trying to impress Castro.

  29. Epstein said at the Newseum that the Cuban consulate in Mexico City was “an aquarium” — that is, little was hidden from foreign intelligence services.

  30. John Newman wrote of the Oswald visit to the Cuban consulate in Mexico City (Chapter 19, Oswald and the CIA). The CIA told the Warren Commission that CIA did not become aware of this visit until after the assassination, although Newman writes that CIA memos contradict this assertion. The Warren Report states that CIA had thorough penetration of the Cuban consulate permitting them to know what happened there. CIA never informed the Warren Commission that Oswald had made threats against JFK there or colluded with Cuban intelligence officers, so presumably CIA had no such information.

  31. I’ve written about the Castro interview with Daniel Harker several times. The interview took place at the Brazilian Embassy in Havana and appeared in the Times Picayune on September 9, 1963. Personally I believe this was the genesis for what decisions came next for Oswald. My belief is Oswald, in his mind needed to get to Havana to reassure Castro he would eliminate Kennedy. This is in fitting with Oswald’s psychological profile. Oswald believed guns changed history. The Walker attempt was but one example.

    1. I didn’t know that Oswald was ever in direct contact with Fidel Castro, In fact I’ve never heard the allegation. Could you site a source that can be easily accessed?

      1. Leslie, I’m not aware Oswald ever had direct contact with Castro. IMO I believe those at the Cuban Embassy did have direct contact with Castro however. Oswald brought to Mexico City a dossier of his self proclaimed accomplishments in the name of the revolution. If Oswald indeed threatened Kennedy’s life while there it is not likely to presume Castro would have warned the U. S. Government considering the Harker interview a few weeks earlier. Have you actually read the interview itself?

  32. Edward Epstein has some interesting information on his website consisting of recollections of interviews with James Angleton and others. However, it’s not very user friendly and there are hidden sections you cannot access without passwords that he won’t respond to requests for. I believe he likes cultivating a mysterious persona, which does not make verifying his information easy. Proceed with caution.

  33. Eric Hollingsworth

    Epstein’s interviews of Warren Commission participants was indeed valuable.

    Oswald could have been one of several shooters, so Epstein’s choice is a false dilemma.

    The Walker shooting is one of the weakest points in the Warren Commission position.

    It isn’t clear that Oswald was pro-Castro.

    My take on the Whitten testimony so far is that he was trying to push the blame for dropping the ball on Oswald onto the FBI or the ONI.

    1. James Feldman

      Edward Epstein has always been considered unconvincing by competent, diligent, and independent JFK assassination researchers.

      I have a unique perspective on the assassination because I was there at the very beginnings of the independent research and heard first hand about Epstein. My Godfather is Vincent Salandria and my late Uncle was Harold Feldman–two of the seminal researchers of the case. Vince was among the first to write an article shooting holes in the single bullet theory and the case for a lone gunman (published in the Philadelphia Legal Intelligencer) and my Uncle Harold wrote the first article regarding the initial evidence pointing to the Grassy Knoll as the source location of at least one of the shots fired on November 22, 1963 (published in The Minority of One). Vincent and Harold were also the first researchers to interview Michael and Ruth Paine, who were “taking care” of Lee Harvey Oswald and who had several significant connections to the CIA. (Ruth Paine got LHO his job at the TSBD just a little over a month before the assassination.) I was a young child at the time, but my parents took me along to visit with Vince and Harold to discuss the assassination, shortly after it happened. I soon learned of others outside my family and relatives, who also became part of Vince’s research network, and kept in contact with one another. This network included such prominent researchers as Mark Lane, Sylvia Meagher, Raymond Marcus, Maggie Field, Shirley Martin, Penn Jones, Jr., and Harold Weisberg. Although there was friendly competition among the early researchers, and they had their differences, there was much mutual admiration and respect. And at that time, I remember well just how difficult it was to get anything published that was critical of the official government account of the assassination. When one of these early researchers was successful and finally got published, their differences and their sense of competition were put aside, because getting the truth out was the important thing. And getting the truth out benefitted all of the early researchers. In the beginning, breakthroughs were very difficult to achieve and came little by little, so every step toward getting to the truth was important to all of the dedicated early researchers.

      Thus, when Edward Epstein came on the scene and gained immediate access to many prominent people connected with the case, including Warren Commission members, even though he clearly knew much less about the assassination than any of the researchers in Vince’s network, Epstein relative ease in getting that access and getting published raised eyebrows very early among the dedicated, independent researchers. Although all good JFK researchers are naturally skeptical, Epstein gave them plenty of cause to support their doubts about him. My father thought Epstein was a flat out disinformation plant right from the start, and I believe that Vince and Harold shared that view about him as well. Later on, for example, Epstein would go on to debate Wesley Liebeler, a prominent Warren Commission attorney, and Epstein’s arguments “against” the Commission were so feckless and feeble that Vince and Sylvia Meagher virtually accused him of “throwing the fight.” (In contrast, when Mark Lane debated Liebeler, he eviscerated the Commission arguments.)

      Fast forward many decades, much more evidence has come to light proving that my Godfather Vince, my Uncle Harold, Mark Lane, Sylvia Meagher, and so many of the other early researchers were exactly right all along. Notably, my father, my Uncle Harold, and my Godfather Vince were among the very first individuals to expound the view that CIA played a key role in the assassination, but today, researchers have identified much more evidence linking the CIA to the assassination. (Mark Lane did not originally agree with that view, but he too has come to recognize the basic truth of that indelible connection.) There is, in fact, more evidence than ever that Epstein and his ilk were wrong and that he continues to be wrong. But going back to the very beginnings of the assassination research, Epstein never had any credibility. That Epstein would continue to promote one of the phony CIA cover stories should hardly be a surprise to anyone who knows about him and his writings.

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