CIA conceals files on wiretapped newsman who broke a big JFK story

Paul Scott
Paul Scott, investigative reporter (Credit: Jim Scott)

In this Washington Post piece, Jim Scott tells the story of how the CIA wiretapped his father, news reporter Paul Scott, for decades. In the 1960s, Paul Scott and his partner Robert Allen wrote a syndicated column on Washington politics that was driven, not by punditry, but by investigations.

One reason Scott was targeted: his JFK reporting.

In March 1967, Allen and Scott published a sensational item in their column. The then-secret records of the Warren Commission, held by the National Archives, contained a State Department cable about suspected assassin Lee Harvey Oswald dated October 11, 1963.

The scoop was a threat to the CIA’s cover story about Oswald.The cable first reported by Paul Scott is a verbatim copy of the CIA cable that Jim Angleton’s staff sent to Mexico City the day before, on October 10.

In early 1967, the agency was still claiming, falsely, that its personnel knew little about Oswald’s visit to Mexico City in October 1963. When Warren Commission staffers asked in March 1964 for copies of the cable traffic concerning Oswald, Angleton said he preferred to “wait out” the Commission.

The Agency was also mobiilzing against the investigation of New Orleans District Attorny Jim Garrison. Leading publications such Life and Look, two of the country’s most popular magazines, were calling for reopening the JFK investigation.

When Mexico City station chief Win Scott (no relation) read the Allen-Scott report he immediately cabled Langley. He warned against declassification of the cable saying it would open the CIA and State Department to “criticism” over “poor security.”

CIA Worries

The October 10, 1963, is a key piece of JFK evidence. It confirms the CIA’s intense interest in Oswald six weeks before JFK was killed. Jane Roman, a trusted career liaison officer who helped draft the cable, told me in a tape-recorded interview that the cable indicated a “keen interest in Oswald held on a need to know basis.”

Ten days after reading Paul Scott’s reporting, Win Scott was hospitalized with something resembling a heart attack. It might have been a coincidence. It might have been stress generated by the realization that he and his colleagues in Langley had much to hide when it came to JFK’s murder, and that an inquisitive reporter was getting closer to the truth.

A Son’s Mission

Now, fifty years later, the CIA doesn’t want Jim Scott (or you) to know the story of the impact of his father’s reporting. It would harm “national security.”

“People like me don’t have legal backgrounds and are unlikely to sue the government,” Scott writes. “The agencies probably bank on folks becoming frustrated with the time-consuming process and simply stopping their pursuit. I am not giving up any time soon.”





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