CIA tradecraft & JFK’s assassination: ‘The very top people’

Former CIA station chief Rolf Mowatt-Larssen addresses a conference of JFK researchers in Dallas in November 2019. (Credit: Jefferson Morley)

[ICYMI: Part I: A veteran CIA officer analyzes the death of a president.]

“Why am I doing this?” Rolf Mowatt-Larssen asked the audience at the Coalition Against Political Assassinations’ conference in Dallas. “As a CIA officer it’s a little controversial. What is my goal? My goal is to have an answer [about who killed JFK] for myself and my children.” That may sound overly ingenuous to some, but most people in the room, myself included, had the same agenda.

Mowatt-Larssen was nine years old when he heard the news from Dallas.

“There were three times in my life when I didn’t trust the government to tell the truth,” he said. “This is hard for a CIA officer to say. The Kennedy assassination, where I’m absolutely convinced if nothing else that there was a cover-up. The second was Watergate, and the third is now.”  The crises of American power—JFK’s assassination, Watergate and Trump’s presidency—have a way of making people rethink their assumptions.

As for the notion that JFK was the victim of  a plot among the leaders of the U.S. government, Mowatt-Larssen said,  “I will not go there.” U.S government culpability for JFK’s death is a bridge too far for him. “I hope you will respect that,” he told the audience. “I cannot go to a place where I think my government did this.  I’ll be convinced if the evidence takes me there but I’m not at all persuaded to take that seriously.” 

Mowatt-Larssen went on to make a series of points that I found both cogent and persuasive. These were not the claims of a “conspiracy theorist.” They were certainly not the words of a “CIA stooge.” Mowatt-Larssen’s observations about the causes of JFK’s death are founded in CIA practices. They are realistic and plausible. They can be tested empirically—if and when all of the JFK files are made public.

‘The very top people’

The JFK conspiracy, says Mowatt-Larssen, was probably quite small,  at least terms of the number of people who had advance knowledge of the Dallas ambush. “That’s one of the counterintuitive things about the  history of agency,” he explained. “The greatest operations we planned and carried out with wild success….were things that were [planned and executed] by very few people, I’ve done some of those things. I’ve been part of some of those things.”

“Only the very top people in our organization could have done something like this,” he went on. “I mean the best operational minds… the best in terms of capability, competency and expertise. To keep it a secret. To take it to the grave.”

The agency’s professionalism in perception management should not be underestimated he said.

“A rogue CIA operation to kill the president will be indistinguishable from a lone gunman [scenario] to the extent it was planned and carried out flawlessly by experts in the craft of intelligence,” he said.

What this retired spy wants you to believe is this: The Warren Commission’s narrative of Lee Harvey Oswald, the lone gunman, may well be a CIA cover story, a media legend generated by “experts in the craft of intelligence.” The purpose: to conceal a conspiracy to kill the liberal president.

 If Mowatt-Larssen’s analysis is correct, his former employer has been lying about JFK’s assassination for 56 years. But is he right?

NEXT: The making of a patsy


Part I : A veteran officer analyzes the death of a president / Part II: ‘The very top people.’ / Part III: The making of a patsy / Part IV; I’m not privy to who struck John.’

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