Check in with me here next Monday, January 21, Martin Luther King Day. I’m proud to be joining with lots of other people in the unveiling a major petition effort signed by more than 50 prominent American citizens. The joint statement is aimed at moving Congress to investigate deeply troubling, long-buried chapters in American history. After reading the statement, you’ll be able to join this important campaign by adding your name to the petition.
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
“For some time I have been disturbed by the way the CIA has been diverted from its original assignment,” wrote former president Harry Truman in the Washington Post on December 22, 1963. It was exactly one month after the assassination of President Kennedy.
“It has become an operational and at times a policy-making arm of the Government. This has led to trouble and may have compounded our difficulties in several explosive areas,” Truman wrote.
The former president never explicitly linked JFK’s death to the clandestine service, but the timing and venue of his piece was suggestive.
With the FBI’s report on Kennedy’s assassination, the Commission undertook to select staffers and figure out how to approach its work.
Chief Justice Warren complained about the leaks of the FBI report: “I have read that report two or three times and I have not seen anything in there that has not been in the press.”
The Commissioners then held a wide-ranging discussion of JFK’s assasination, including:
Vincent Dowd speaks to three men who worked on the report, now in their 80s – Burt Griffin, Sam Stern and Howard P.Willens – who now openly consider its merits and whether it uncovered the truth.
A specter is haunting the JFK research: the specter of Valeriy Vladimirovich Kostikov (1933-2002). It has recently slipped through Jefferson Morley’s remarkable study on the secret life of CIA spymaster James Jesus Angleton (The Ghost, St. Martin’s Press, 2017): “Kostikov had been visited by a Cuban government official named Rolando Cubela” (page 150).
In this archive footage, famed CNN personality Larry King talks about how he was an aspiring radio announcer in Miami in the late 60s when he interviewed New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison, then in the midst of his investigation into JFK’s assassination. Read more
The national media, much less diverse and fragmented in 1963 than today, joined the campaign to assuage doubts and dispel “rumors” about JFK’s assassination. Pollsters were already finding that a majority of Americans suspected conspiracy. Life Magazine’s Dec. 6 issue was devoted primarily to photo coverage of the Kennedy funeral, but also included a piece by Paul Mandel entitled “End to Nagging Rumors: The Six Critical Seconds.”
The article began with a quote from Dallas DA Henry Wade: “I would say without any doubt that he is the killer”, and referred to Oswald as “the assassin.”
Life Magazine had earlier purchased rights to Abraham Zapruder’s famous home movie of the murder in Dealey Plaza, and in a November 29 issue had shown frames from that film in black-and-white. Now the Mandel article tried to reconcile the film with Oswald’s guilt.
In a finely reported piece for Esquire last November Chris Jones recreated the scene on Air Force One on the afternoon of November 22, 1963.
Here’s the first meeting of now former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy and Lady Bird Johnson, now the wife of the President of the United States.
“I don’t know what to say,” Lady Bird says. “What wounds me most of all is that this should happen in my beloved state of Texas.”
“There is a wealth of useful information about the Kennedy assassination available online,” writes Salon’s founding editor, David Talbot. Talbot’s book about CIA director Allen Dulles will be published in next month.
“But before a beginner wades into these thickets, it’s best to start with some of the best books on the subject,” he adds.
Here’s Talbot’s top seven JFK books. Am I biased because Talbot is a friend and he includes my book? Yes, I am.
Len Osanic’s comprehensive look at the JFK assassination story, available from Black Op Radio, presents a remarkable range of interviews, documents, and visuals. For students of the JFK story who are looking to dig deeper,”50 Reasons for 50 Years” is a good place to start.
The Warren Commission didn’t get scared if Fidel Castro because of Lyndon B. Johnson’s chilling warning to Chief Justice Earl Warren about rumors that “if not quenched, could conceivably lead the country into a war which could cost 40 million lives.” Read more
JFK researcher Walt Brown talks to Len Osanic about the Warren Commission’s curious and selective use of witnesses, including:
In comment on this post about the first meeting of the Warren Commission more than 50 years ago, a reader notes how former CIA director Allen Dulles reached his conclusion before the Commission’s investigation began.