On the deathbed contortions of 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…

,,, “deathbed confession” is just so much hype.

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 with whom he denied any JFK knowledge.

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

Howard Hunt

E. Howard Hunt, CIA officer

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.

Some “murder confession.”

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.

Since his claims cannot be confirmed, it is possible that hIs “confession” is mostly or entirely fictional.

Maybe the CIA’s still-secret Howard Hunt files, scheduled to be released in October 2017, will shed light on the issue.

Howard Hunt files

National Archives on CIA files of Howard Hunt to be released in 2017

Bottom line

Hunt’s story might just be truthful. A lot depends on what you think of Hunt.

Myself, I don’t trust anything he says unless it is corroborated by other sources.

I do think 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.”


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

The Ghost by Jefferson Morley

The Ghost is the compulsively readable, often bizarre true-life story of American spymaster James Jesus Angleton – the CIA’s poetry-loving, orchid-gardening mole-hunter for almost 20 years. Capturing the extent of Angleton’s eccentricity, duplicity and alcohol-fueled paranoia would have challenged the writing skills of a Le Carre or Ludlum, and Jefferson Morley has done it with flair. This important book depicts the trail of wreckage left behind by Angleton in a CIA career that involved him in virtually every major spy-versus-spy drama of the Cold War and drew him deeply into the mysteries of the Kennedy assassination and the murder of one of JFK’s mistresses.”
—Philip Shenon, author of A Cruel and Shocking Act


Click here to pre-order: The Ghost: The Secret Life of CIA Spymaster James Jesus Angleton.














  1. Jon Strauss says:

    The point being overlooked is that by now it should be obvious that the President is not only not the most powerful man in the world but is, in fact, as John D Rockefeller said a century ago, just a figurehead who must do the bidding of the real power brokers, the Money Men, the world’s Uber aggressive. Uber strategic, business magnates who have effectively organized a one world corporate oligarchy. Like the second foundation they do what they want under the radar and we are all powerless to stop them as we were powerless to complete the Tower of Babel. Me…I’ve got bills to pay so I’m going back to work. Thanks.

  2. Marcello Pecchi says:

    One wonders if any insight can be gained into all this from Hunt’s novels. Has anyone actually checked this out ?
    Creative minds, as we know from Edward DeVere (Shakespeare) use their experiences and contemporary history in their work. Characters or moments in time from some of these Hunt works might shed some scaffold on which to hang some truth.

  3. Raoul says:

    I keep changing my mind about LBJ’s involvement in JFK’s assassination. When I think of Johnson’s perseverance, determination, and love of power,A it is not hard for me to believe that he KNEW ABOUT it, possibly beforehand. There is no doubt that there was a massive coverup of the facts surrounding the assassination. There is no doubt that Johnson took part in this coverup. I can’t believe anything Roger Stone says. He, I believe, has done a hatchet job on Johnson. On the other hand, here is a man, LBJ, who said he would not send “American boys 10000 miles away to fight in a war that the Vietnamese should fight for themselves”. (Pretty close quote) And then proceeded to send 500,000 troops there in a meaningless, thoughtless waste of lives. However, look at his domestic achievements: Medicare, Civil Rights Bill, Voting Rights Bill, Job Corps, and many others. Then again, a bad man can do good things, right?

  4. ed connor says:

    Some of the corroboration you seek may come from Richard M. Nixon.
    Hunt, as we all know, was the head of the White House Plumbers, a group of ex-CIA men hired to plug leaks, perform break-ins, etc.
    Hunt was indicted and eventually convicted by John Sirica’s original Watergate jury. He demanded money for legal expenses from Nixon.
    On 3/21/73 (the famous “cancer on the presidency” tape), Nixon states that “we could raise the money – a million, if he needs it,” because Hunt might talk about “the Bay of Pigs thing.”
    H. R. Haldeman, who was present, later wrote, in “The Ends of Power” that “the Bay of Pigs Thing” was Nixon’s code for the JFK assassination.
    If Nixon thought Hunt deserved a million dollar bribe to keep quiet about the assassination, that suggests he did indeed know what he was talking about…and so did Nixon.

  5. Jerry says:

    The late Mark Lane’s book, “Plausible Denial”, is one of my favorites. He describes a moment in the trial when G. Gordon Liddy shows up with some others and they’re (including Hunt) all wearing matching blazers with some sort of crest. It was very unnerving. As if they were flaunting membership to a certain club. But combine that with the fact that so many of the Watergate people have also been part of the JFK killing. And Nixon’s constant referral to “The Bay of Pigs” as a reference to Dallas. There is no doubt a connection between the two events and thus, Hunt may be telling the truth. Or some portion of it.

  6. Cousin Jack says:

    Howard Hunt, like Roger Stone (another Nixon hiree), seems intent (even on his deathbed!)to pin blame for JFK assassination on the Democratic leadership. This sounds like the leit motif of a dead end political ideologue, not a truth teller. Perhaps even a guilt-ridden undercover operator who was aware of particular details but would never confess as to how he knew them or what they were. Jefferson’s above post is a good example of how professional journalists help we laymen jurists separate the wheat from the chaff of what is actually worth knowing in this cold case and what isn’t.

  7. Arnaldo M. Fernandez says:

    The video puts itself in a delicate position by including images of the so-called three tramps as if Hunt would have been one of them. So, Mary La Fontaine´s findings are inexplicably overlooked.

  8. J.D. says:

    I found the 2007 Rolling Stone feature story about Hunt’s claims (“The Last Confession of E. Howard Hunt”) fascinating, but I value it more as a frightening snapshot of the man himself than any kind of credible account of JFK’s death.

    I can’t think of a single direct confession by a supposed conspirator that I really found very credible. (David Morales’s reported comment about how “we took care of” JFK is too vague to count as a confession.) I suspect this just isn’t the kind of thing you ever confess to, even on your deathbed.

  9. Will Hart says:

    Thanks for the post. I have always considered this disinformation. The reason being, it’s HUNTS expertise. He may have been trying to provide a last ditch effort to divert attention in the wrong direction. After this ‘confession’ there was an entire series of books based off the LBJ premise that hit the market. Whether intentional or not, the coordination of these events makes me highly suspicious of anyone who latched onto this story.

    Watergate is definitely not my specialty. I have a very limited background on the subject. However the fact that the burglars were caught over such an amateur mistake (tape on the door) leads me to believe their purpose was TO GET CAUGHT. It pushed Nixon right out of office.

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