FLASH CANCELLED: What one of the last JFK files will tell us about Oswald

FBI memo
A less redacted FBI on Oswald

In response to my post, “FBI wide shut”, a faithful reader points out there is a “minimally redacted” version of a key FBI memo about accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald. I’m hoping President Trump will order release this December 1963 memo without redactions before the April 28 deadline for release of all JFK files. But I’m not holding my breath.

Why does it matter?

The partially declassified memo addresses a key question raised by CIA and FBI surveillance of Oswald in 1963, specifically, why did the FBI send the following message on October 9, 1963, 44 days before JFK was killed?



Background: In 1963, an “security flash” served notice on all Bureau offices that FBI Headquarters wanted to be notified if a  certain individual had returned to the United States or had been arrested.

The effect of the October 9, 1963 FLASH CANCELLED  was to reduce law enforcement scrutiny of Oswald at the very moment that some people believe he was conceiving of killing the president of the United States.

There are two theories about why the FBI took this action. The fully redacted version of the memo will go a long way to telling whether the surveillance of Oswald in late 1963 is a story of incompetence or intelligence intrigue.

Oswald in Custody
Lee Harvey Oswald

The Oops Theory. This scenario, accepted by the Warren Commission, holds that three FBI agents with responsibility for watching domestic subversives simply underestimated a cunning leftist named Oswald. They ignored standard FBI procedures out of sheer inadvertence, it is argued. The cancellation was just an inadvertent mistake–“oops”–that only looks significant in retrospect. Besides, Oswald was not arrested between October 9 and November 1963, so the cancellation (it is argued) did not actually protect Oswald as he made his way to Dealey Plaza.

Jean Davison, author of Oswald’s Game, has cogently defended the Oops Theory in the comments section of this blog

State SecretThe Ops Theory: This theory, advocated by attorney Bill Simpich and historian John Newman, holds that the flash cancellation was related to Oswald’s role in U.S. intelligence operations. In this view, the cancellation indicated that certain U.S. officials wanted to shield Oswald from attention because he was of some use to the FBI and/or the CIA in the fall of 1963.

Simpich offers the most granular version of the Ops theory in his ebook State Secret (available free from the Mary Ferrell Foundation).

In coming days, I will compare and contrast the Oops Theory and the Ops Theory, as propounded by Jean and Bill. I lean toward Bill’s view but I’ll present both arguments so you can decide for yourself which is more plausible.

In any case, this FBI memo is one of the key documents to look for in the final JFK file releases due, by President Trump’s order, by April 28.





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