Former New York Times reporter highlights CIA surveillance of Oswald

Philip Shenon’s appearance on Face the Nation today is a breakthrough in JFK assassination coverage in three ways.

As the author of the new book, A Cruel and Shocking Act: The Secret History of the Kennedy Assassination, Shenon is credited with breaking news about the JFK story. While the former New York Times reporter pledges allegiance to the old lone gunman theory (de riguer for a member of the Washington press corps), his new information clarifies troubling facts that many historians and journalists have preferred to avoid. Shenon’s book shows accused assassin Oswald was watched very closely by senior CIA officers in the months and weeks before Dallas, according to CBS News. Shenon has documented “extensive attempts by both the CIA and FBI to withhold just how much they knew about Kennedy assassin Lee Harvey Oswald in the weeks and months before he killed the president.”

Shenon is right about just how much the CIA and FBI knew about Oswald. This is the single most important new fact to emerge since Oliver Stone’s movie. I’ve emphasized that fact here on JFK Facts (see, for example, my January 8, 2103, post, “Did the CIA track Oswald before the assassination?”). I said the same thing to JFK conference at Duquesne University last week. Now CBS News and other news organizations are finally reporting the story. That’s new.

Another Shenon revelation is that Castro had a secret meeting with the Warren Commission in 1964, a meeting that the U.S. government has concealed for a half century. I’ll explain why in a coming post.

In a third revelation, credited to Shenon, concerns Win Scott, the chief of the CiA’s Mexico City Station in 1963. Shenon’s account builds on the story I told in my 2008 book, Our Man in Mexico.

As CBS News puts it:

“A section of Scott’s memoirs — which included details about the extent of the CIA’s monitoring of Oswald in Mexico — was only declassified in the 1990s, The agency photographed Oswald outside of the Cuban and Soviet embassies in Mexico City, and recorded his phone calls while he was in Mexico, evidence that never reached the commission. Scott’s memoirs also reveal that he thought there might have been a foreign conspiracy to kill Kennedy involving Oswald as a Communist agent, which contradicted what he told the Warren Commission.”

I told this story in Chapters 14-19 of Our Man in Mexico. I’m glad it is finally getting the attention it deserves. It confirms that disaffection with the Warren Commission’s conclusions reached the highest levels of the CIA, another fact major news organizations are often still loathe to admit in 2013.


You can read the first chapter of Our Man in Mexico on Amazon.

If you want to buy an autographed copy of Our Man in Mexico, in English or Spanish, drop me a line here.


17 thoughts on “Former New York Times reporter highlights CIA surveillance of Oswald”

  1. LHO was not successful at one thing in his short life. Remarkably he supposedly took a shot at Gen. Walker, who was a stationary target highlited by a light just above his head, from less than 40 feet and missed. Yet we are asked to believe that later that year he could pull off the shots of the century with uncanny accuracy.
    The crime of the century was solved by the Dallas police in less that 90 minutes. To top it off, the master criminal LHO was himself killed by a known mob connected hoodlum 48 hours later and this was perfectly explainable by the Warren Commission.
    We believe in conspiracy because there was one.

  2. Jeff,

    I agree with you, as this dialogue on Face the Nation is breakthrough coverage. For example, the panelist segment within the link you provide includes comments from Bob Woodward that clearly show how your lawsuit is significant and relevant for the transparency issues of today. Also, the discussion connects with a quote from President Kennedy, “…The very word ‘secrecy’ is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths and to secret proceedings. We decided long ago that the dangers of excessive and unwarranted concealment of pertinent facts far outweighed the dangers which are cited to justify it….And there is very grave danger that an announced need for increased security will be seized upon by those anxious to expand its meaning to the very limits of official censorship and concealment….”

    President John F. Kennedy’s speech at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, New York City, April 27, 1961

  3. The survallance photos from the Mexican Embassy are photos of someone claiming to be Oswald.

    How many Americans defect to Russia, during the height of the cold war, denounced their US citizenship, change their mind and return with a Russian bride, with only slight scrutiny of our intelligence organizations?

    OOPS- and he actually goes on to assasinate the sitting President of the US.

    That’s a very hard pill to swallow.

    Anyone silly enough to buy into the lone gunman theory, can be discounted with one sentence: Back and to the left.

    1. Perhaps the best conspiracy is to do nothing so as to not implicate yourself but make sure defenses are down so somebody else can do the job for you. Hence poor secret service and police protection in Dallas and letting folks like Oswald slip through the cracks. Then all you have to cover up is your own apparent “ineptitude” which is bad enough and looks bad for your organization on the surface but it’s infinitely better than saying “we hoped it would happen and allowed it to” which makes you an accessory.

  4. Here’s a perspective I’ve gleaned from John Newman’s book on “Oswald and the CIA”. However, I have to say that the CIA’s intentions with Oswald in Mexico (even for Newman) were not entirely clear. By which I mean you have to assume one of two premises were involved which are 1) that the CIA was doing their best to distance themselves from Oswald after the assassination or 2) the CIA was running a disinformation campaign on Oswald sometime before or after his visit to Mexico.

    So, as to one, this seems clear when considering any agency who had anything to do with Oswald prior to the assassination wanted nothing to do with him afterwards.

    But, as to two, that’s problematical; since I believe as I recall that it appears the CIA was trying to draw out certain individuals or get at certain kinds of information by spreading disinformation. In other words, Oswald was such and such person who was expected in Mexico at the time but was absent or missing.

    So again, with respect to two, I’m not sure what it means. Which could be unrelated to Oswald’s role in the assassination or vis versa. So perhaps time will tell?

  5. I managed to score an advance copy of Shenon’s book. I’m about halfway through it right now, and with a day off tomorrow, I’ll probably blast through.

    Personally, I do not think the CIA/FBI monitoring is that unusual, given Oswald’s defection and attempted renunciation of his citizenship. That’s an easy qualifier as a potential espionage risk, and this is the reason Jim Hosty was tracking Oswald in 1963.

    What I do think Shenon reveals is the usual bureaucratic run for cover when things go awry. Any tapes would be destroyed much like the Hosty note-not because they showed government institutions planning a coup, but because agency reputations and careers would be sullied with the announcement that the murderer of the President was known to the two top intelligence agencies of the time. Furthermore, the non-sharing of information between agencies is something that’s been habitual over the years, either out of sheer rivalry or to protect assets and methods, and it does not translate to conspiracy for me.

    Anyway, it’s a pretty solid book thus far. I acquired Willens’ book on the Warren Commission as well, so it will be interesting to read them in tandem.

  6. The first thing to ask Is why Is the CIA and FBI watching Oswald If he is a loner as the official story is.

    Why Is the evidance he was In Mexico city if government has nothing to hide.

    If oswald was so dangeras why did police and Secret service know nothing about him when CIA and FBI did?Ignore the fact Oswald could
    have been working for one or both.Pretend the official story Is right.Doesn’t that seem strange?

    You could make the case CIA and FBI wanted the assassination to happen if we assume Oswald was actualy on the 6th floor shooting.
    I don’t assume that.I am just making the arguement.

    A case can be made Oswald was directed to appear as a possable communist agent.The mexico city incident is such a tangled web/

    1. “You could make the case CIA and FBI wanted the assassination to happen if we assume Oswald was actualy on the 6th floor shooting.”

      I think this is possible. Extra help is planted (Grassy Knoll, etc) to make sure the job gets done. Tell Oswald he should leave when it’s done and make a false promise of safety which never materializes. Even if he doesn’t know everything you still can’t have him talking about what little he knows, hence the appearance of Ruby.

      This may be the same way it worked with Sirhan Sirhan where the patsy is unaware of the involvement of others or of the true nature and scope of the conspiracy.

      Just some late night thoughts…

  7. In fairness to the author, it was the other man being interviewed- Johnson who claimed the note contained the bomb threat.
    Shenon in fact stated “we’ll never know what was in that note.”

  8. Resurrecting the dubious claim of Oswald threatening to blow up the DPD & FBI offices is disappointing. Why write something that could get him arrested and cause yet more trouble for Marina, and any alleged conspiracy?

    He also brings back the odd claim of a brief (sexual?) relationship between Oswald and Duran.

    Why not avoid that long discarded fluff and stick to the credible evidence, as Mr. Morley and other serious researchers/authors have done?

  9. Gees, the Face the Nation clip almost makes you sick. No one asks WHY the photos and tapes of Oswald in Mexico “disappeared.” Or WHY a threatening note from ANYBODY to the FBI would not get that person arrested?

    Even 50 years later, the establishment media makes it clear how conspirators could get away with the crime.

    But like you say, it’s still a huge leap forward for the mainstream media I suppose.

    1. I agree with your point.

      Curt Gentry’s book, “J. Edgar Hoover: The Man and the Secrets” has an excellent chapter on the Warren Commission. He quotes Hosty saying immediately after the assassination: “We knew that Lee Harvey Oswald was capable of assassinating the president of the United States, but we didn’t dream he would do it,” (pg 545) which is an amazing and contradictory statement.

      If the CIA was also aware of Oswald it should occur to Shenon and any other reasonable person: WHY weren’t the FBI and CIA concerned about Oswald on Nov 22?

  10. Has Shenon actually “pledged allegiance to the old line gunman theory”? I’ll have to read his book, but it seems from his comments on “Face The Nation” that he might instead adopt the Scottish law verdict that Arlen Specter embraced in that other famous case he was involved in — “not proved.”

    FWIW, Amazon says the Spanish title of Shenon’s book is “Caso Abierto” — or “Open Case.”

  11. Jeff, good day for you and all who simply want the government to come clean , warts and all. Time to press hard like a poker player with a strong hand. I fear that as the anniversery coverage fades away we may lose our best chance for forcing them to release the documents

  12. Not sure I’ll read Shenon’s book but I’ll carefully watch for the main highlights.

    It would be a glaring omission in critical thinking by Shenon if he feels he’s uncovered the fact that the CIA and FBI were closely monitoring Oswald but nonetheless he’s not suspicious that they failed to report their concerns to the Secret Service.

    Maybe he does in fact broach these issues in his book and I’ll be curious to find out.

    So after 50 years does Shenon’s book finally make it “legitimate” to say that the Warren Commission did a lousy job?

    1. They did a great job- their job was to assure the public that Oswald acted alone, and the American Republic would survive the massacre of the leader of the free world.

      The WC’s job was never about getting to truth.

    2. I thought agent Hoste confessed he lied about destroying the note and produced it before his death in the last couple of years. Someone please respond.

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