President Trump will soon announce his decision on whether the last of the U.S. government’s JFK files will be fully released or not. April 26 will be a moment to assess what we know about JFK’s assassination that we didn’t know before, and specifically, what have we learned about the CIA’s role in the events of November 1963.
Among those vouching for the probity of the CIA in the JFK assassination story is the agency’s chief historian David Robarge.
While Robarge has acknowledged in an open-source article that the CIA did not cooperate with the Warren Commission–and indeed deceived its members about key facts–he asserts that, in the case of the murdered president, the agency was guilty of nothing more than a “benign coverup” of embarrassing information.
Peter Dale Scott, professor at the University of California and JFK author, has a different opinion: He says Robarge himself is liable for obstructing justice in the case of the murdered president.
In a 2015 article for WhoWhatWhy, Scott made a strong case that Richard Helms, deputy CIA director in 1963, had perjured himself while obstructing the investigation of JFK’s death.
Helms swore that he had provided the Commission with “all” information that the CIA had on Oswald–which was a lie, and thus can be described as perjury.
The agency’s own declassified records demonstrate that Helms did not tell the Commission that his friend and colleague James Angleton, chief of the Counterintelligence Staff, had tracked Oswald’s movements for four years before JFK was killed.
Nor did Helms disclose the agency’s AMLASH operation to kill Fidel Castro which one of Helms’ lieutenants was advancing with a would-be assassin in Paris at the very moment that JFK died in a hail of gunfire in Dallas.
While Helms died in 2002, Scott argued that Robarge is obstructing justice in much the same way and for the same reason.
Here’s an excerpt from Scott’s 2015 essay, analyzing what Robarge has done–and has not–done in the JFK case.
Richard Helms faced a legal dilemma after he swore to the Warren Commission “to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” (5 AH 121).
Helms was then asked “Can you tell the Commission as to whether or not you have supplied us all the information the Agency has, at least in substance, in regard to Lee Harvey Oswald?”
Helms’s answer was, “We have, all” (5 AH 122).
This was, I submit, perjury, and more. In 1964 the CIA secrets that Helms protected concerned an operation involving Oswald, whose purposes and details are still obfuscated by the agency. Oswald, the accused assassin, denied killing Kennedy, described himself as a “patsy,” and was killed in police custody before he could give his side of the story.
If Helms had told the truth to the Warren Commission, I doubt very much that the American public, already doubtful about the real causes of the assassination, would have been satisfied with the Commission’s banal assurance that it “found no evidence that…Lee Harvey Oswald… was part of any conspiracy” (WR 21).
Helms’ deceptive behavior, while understandable and even predictable given his institutional loyalty, was part of what I would have to call a systematic obstruction of justice.
In the wake of the Kennedy assassination, members of many U.S. agencies, including the FBI, Office of Naval Intelligence, U.S. Air Force, and Secret Service, withheld relevant information from those investigating the murder. But to my knowledge there is in 2015 only one U.S. agency that is still maintaining the cover-up – and that is the CIA.
I am referring to the CIA’s declassification and release of a previously classified study by chief historian David Robarge, “DCI John McCone and the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy.” The essay is worth reading, and it contains interesting information on McCone’s relationship with Robert Kennedy. But buried within its discussion of McCone and the Warren Commission – a pertinent but hardly central topic – are a thesis statement and a conclusion about the CIA’s role in the events culminating in JFK’s assassination.
Coming from Robarge these assertions can be fairly described as a semi-official representation of what the agency wants American citizens and taxpayers to believe.
In the light of what I have said already about Helms, I would charge that both of these statements are false – so false indeed as to constitute, once again, obstruction of justice.
“Under McCone’s and Helms’s direction, CIA supported the Warren Commission in a way that may best be described as passive, reactive, and selective.”
Robarge wants the American people to believe the CIA’s sins were ones of omission. But Helms’ false statements were active, not passive. Robarge wants us to focus on the failure of the CIA to tell the Warren Commission about its plots to assassinate Castro, which may very well have been relevant.
He says nothing about the agency’s suppression of its covert manipulation of information about Oswald before JFK’s assassination, which unquestionably was of very great relevance about the CIA interest in the supposed assassin.
Worst of all is the article’s conclusion:
Max Holland, one of the most fair-minded scholars of these events, has concluded that “if the word ‘conspiracy’ must be uttered in the same breath as ‘Kennedy assassination,’ the only one that existed was the conspiracy to kill Castro and then keep that effort secret after November 22nd.”
Here Robarge trades the historian’s cap for the spook’s disguise. Holland, “the fair-minded scholar,” has been patronized by the CIA while attacking in print those who have the temerity to point out what Robarge himself admitted: that the agency’s statements to the Warren Commission were riddled with lies and self-serving omissions.
Like Holland, Robarge is trying to distract people from the well-documented facts of the agency’s misconduct in the case of the murdered president.
Some people have deduced, from the fact that CIA officials lied to the Warren Commission, that the CIA killed Kennedy. I myself do not believe that, though I do believe that some CIA individuals were involved, along with others in other agencies.
My hypothesis is not that the killing was a CIA operation, but that the plot was piggybacked on an authorized CIA covert operation that was not under secure control and may have been outsourced.
Some agency actions before the assassination, notably the protection of Oswald by suppressing the reported allegation that he had been in contact with presumed KGB officer Valeriy Kostikov, suggest to me that some members of the Counterintelligence Staff, and in particular CI Chief James Angleton, may have participated to some degree in the piggybacked plot.
At a minimum, we can say that the CIA was sufficiently involved in the facts of the assassination to have been embarrassed into covering them up. That coverup began the day JFK died, and it continues to this day.
Read Scott’s entire essay, “Why the CIA’s Richard Helms Lied About Oswald.”