#NewJFKfiles: In 1964 Nikita Khrushchev schooled Drew Pearson on the JFK conspiracy question

Drew Pearson

Drew Pearson, March 1948

To people interested in the new JFK releases, I can highly recommend item 3) on Bill Kelly’s Top Ten Newly Released Records.

3) Drew Pearson’s interview with Nikita Khrushchev.

In this May 1964 conversation about the assassination of JFK, Drew Pearson, one of the nation’s leading syndicated columnists, failed to dispel the conspiratorial convictions of Nikita Khrushchev, the leader of the Soviet Union.

Three years later, Pearson’s fellow investigative reporter Jack Anderson would break a story that shattered Washington’s confidence in the official JFK story and lent credence to Khrushchev’s view.

Castro and Khrushchev

Fidel Castro and Nikita Khrushchev

‘Tolerant Smile’

Khrushchev disbelieved the Warren Report and criticized American intelligence agencies, Pearson reported.

 “Pearson repeated that the reaction of Chairman Khrushchev and his wife was one of flat disbelief and archetypical of the universal European belief that there was some kind of American conspiracy behind the assassination of President Kennedy and the murder of Oswald….could not believe that the affair had happened as it apparently did and Mr. Pearson made no headway whatsoever in trying to change their belief that something was not on the level. Chairman Khruschev greeted Mr. and Mrs. Pearson’s efforts with a tolerant smile…”

Pearson was a Washington insider who wanted to believe the official story. Khrushchev was a communist who rejected it. It is hardly surprising that his fellow communist Fidel Castro also believed JFK had been killed by his enemies.

But their view cannot be dismissed as mere communist propaganda. Both Charles DeGaulle, the center-right president of France, and Lyndon Johnson, JFK’s pro-business successor, also concluded JFK had been killed by his enemies.

Castro Plots

What Pearson didn’t know in 1964 was the CIA had been plotting to assassinate Castro at the time JFK was killed.

In March 1967, Pearson’s assistant and fellow investigative reporter, Jack Anderson broke a sensational story. The CIA had used Johnny Rosselli, a leading Mafia boss, in a  plot to kill Castro allegedly authorized by Bobby Kennedy. The story, published in Pearson’s nationally syndicated column was inaccurate in many respects–Pearson said he wouldn’t have published it. But it contained a devastating kernel of truth.

A secret investigation of the CIA Inspector General confirmed Rosselli’s collaboration with the agency in plotting to kill Castro in 1962 and documented another CIA plot that was advancing the day JFK was killed.

That was a story that James Angleton and other senior CIA officers artfully concealed from Washington journalists like Pearson and from the investigators of the Warren Commission. It is a key piece of the emerging mosaic of Kennedy’s death.

And the #newJFKfiles illuminate some of the disturbing details

Next: In 1964 CIA officials conspired to hide Castro assassination plots from the Warren Commission.




 The Ghost: The Secret Life of CIA Spymaster James Jesus Angleton.

The Ghost

James Angleton’s real life is the most intriguing, moving, and at time shocking spy story in American history. In The Ghost, Jefferson Morley has capture the man in all of his brilliant and sometimes delusional eccentricity.  A must read’ for anyone who wants to understand just how strange and secretive the CIA was at the height of the Cold War.

–David Ignatius, columnist for the Washington Post and author of The Director.








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