On the ‘deathbed confession’ of Watergate burglar, Howard Hunt

This is an edited version of Howard Hunt’s much-touted “deathbed confession” about the assassination of JFK.

Hunt insinuates, without supporting evidence, that certain CIA officers and Lyndon Johnson were involved in the killing of President Kennedy.

On the one hand, Hunt, ringleader of the Watergate burglars, knew the underbelly of American power as well as anyone. What he says about November 22 is provocative, and not implausible.

On the other hand, the phrase “deathbed confession” is hype.

Howard Hunt
E. Howard Hunt, CIA officer

Hunt was not on his deathbed in 2004; he died in 2007. He didn’t make this tape out of fear of extinction or a desire to “come clean.” He wanted to make amends with his estranged son, St. John, while not alienating his second family to whom denied any JFK knowledge.

And, in the end, Hunt doesn’t confess to much of anything. The tape could be billed, with equal accuracy, as a “deathbed contortion.”

Hunt says that he was “a benchwarmer” in “the Big Event,” his preferred euphemism for JFK’s assassination. He (sort of) suggests certain other CIA officers were somehow responsible for the “Big Event.” How? He never explains.

Prolific liar

As I listen to this tape, there are times when I have the distinct impression that Hunt is trying hard NOT to confess, that he is dissembling, that he is a BS artist.

Which he was. Hunt was a scoundrel, convicted criminal, prolific liar, frank blackmailer, and (do I repeat myself?) a career undercover CIA officer. He doesn’t get the benefit of the doubt when it comes to veracity. Especially because he does not provide any data to corroborate his story–no dates, times, or locations where the events he is talking about actually happened.

Hunt’s story has one element of truth: there was deadly animus toward President Kennedy among the CIA men in Miami in 1963.

The Mary Ferrell site has a useful backgrounder on Hunt’s (not quite) “deathbed confession.”


Scorpions' Dance

Order the book now: Scorpions’ Dance: The President, the Spymaster and Watergate (St Martin’s Press, 2022)]

Order the audiobook of Scorpions Dance here.

Listen to an excerpt from Scorpions Dance here.

“Eye-opening investigation” -Publishers’ Weekly

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