In November I published a piece on the top five JFK files that are still being hidden by the government. Since the one of them, the transcript of James Angleton’s testimony to the Church Committee in September 1975, has been released.
Four other key JFK documents have been released late last year–but with extensive redactions.
They are the files of four officers involved in the surveillance of Lee Harvey Oswald between 1959 and 1963.
1. Birch O’Neal: Virtually unknown in the vast literature of JFK’s assassination, O’Neal played a key role in the CIA’s monitoring of Oswald. As an aide to Angleton, O’Neal ran a secretive office known as the Special Investigations Group, which opened the agency’s first file on Oswald in October 1959 (a story I tell in my new biography of Angleton, The Ghost).
Of the 224 pages in the O’Neal file released on November 3, 177 pages contain redactions, and three are wholly secret.
2. David Phillips: A decorated undercover officer, Phillips served as chief of Cuba operations in Mexico City in 1963. He supervised the surveillance of the Cuban Consulate in the Mexican capital, which Oswald visited six weeks before JFK was assassinated.
His personnel files containing 602 pages of material were released November 3, but 60 percent of those pages are fully or partially redacted. Only 227 pages are open to the public.
3. Ann Goodpasture: The senior woman in the Mexico City station in 1963, Goodpasture worked closely with Phillips and coordinated the station’s audio and photo surveillance operations during Oswald’s visit to Mexico City in September 1963.
Of the 288 pages of material in the Goodpasture file, 95 pages (33 percent) contain some redactions, and 18 pages (6 percent) remain completely secret.
3. George Joannides: A psychological warfare operations officer who worked in Miami and New Orleans, Joannides handled the anti-Castro Cuban Student Directorate, which was funded by the CIA under the code name AMSPELL. Members of the group had a series of confrontations with Oswald in New Orleans in the summer of 1963.
The CIA has released 87 pages of AMSPELL documents, 72 of which are partly redacted. The only material made public was newspaper articles and brochures about the Cuban Student Directorate. None of the documents are dated before 1964.
In addition, my lawsuit to obtain the Joannides files revealed that the the CIA retains scores of documents about Joannides’ actions in 1963 and 1978 (when he served as CIA liaison to the House Select Comittee on Assassinations) that have never been made public.
The CIA told President Trump that the JFK files could not be released because disclosure might endanger living CIA agents, an irrelevant objection in the case of these files.
O’Neal died in 1995, Phillips died in 1988, Goodpasture died in 2011, and Joannides died in 1991.
Tomorrow: The most important new JFK files that shed light on CIA surveillance of Oswald.
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.