Japan’s NHK TV: Oswald in the Eyes of the CIA

Along with Rolf Mowatt-Larsen, John Newman and Dick Russell, I was interviewed extensively for this two-part show on NHK Prime, a prime-time magazine show on Japan’s public television network.

Here’s how NHK presents its latest JFK story.

With the help of top experts, NHK takes a new look at the incident through reenactments and fresh theories on the case. Lee Harvey Oswald, the man who killed JFK, was once a US Marine stationed in Atsugi, Japan who later defected to the Soviet Union. While his own upbringing played a role in his decisions, there is also a possibility that a certain organization was manipulating him behind the scenes. ..  We follow the little-known footprints left by this infamous assassin.

Watch: Oswald and JFK UNSOLVED CASES Part 1: The Pawn – NHK WORLD PRIME | NHK WORLD-JAPAN On Demand

In several days of shooting in Miami, New Orleans and Texas, I found the NHK reporters and producers to be meticulous and thoughtful. I don’t agree with all their conclusions but they have done their homework.

As a print journalist, I’m not crazy about the reenactment scenes. I accept they are necessary to present a complex story to a huge TV audience.

I respectfully disagree with the “rogue CIA” theory. I think that’s jumping to a conclusion that is not warranted by the evidence. The intellectual authors of the November 22 ambush might have held positions in the Pentagon. If so, they had CIA help but such a covert operation (based on the false-flag template developed by the Northwoods planners) would not qualify as a “rogue” plot.

If it was my show, I would offered a more cautious conclusion: certain CIA officers were involved in the JFK plot.nWhether they were “rogue” or not has yet to be determined.

NHK may have overestimated the importance of Oswald’s time in Japan but a national network is not wrong to emphasize that part of the story to its core audience. Oswald’s actions in Japan have never been explained, merely “plausibly denied.”

I feel like I’m good company. Rolf and John are retired career intelligence officers. They are analytically rigorous, operationally experienced and politically independent. Talking about the JFK case with them is always interesting and informative. I have learned much from both of them.

Dick and I are career journalists who have written extensively about the CIA in the early 1960s and about the JFK case. We have different perspectives and interpretations of key issues, but I think we’re in agreement about the JFK fact pattern.

The available public record shows:

  • Oswald was the object of constant high-level CIA attention from 1959 to 1963.
  • Oswald was used by senior CIA officers for counterintelligence and propaganda purposes both before and after JFK’s assassination; the name of these officers are on the public record;
  • One of these CIA program , AMSPELL, was incorporated into a false-flag operation to blame JFK’s assassination on Cuba and to shield the intellectual authors of the crime; the names of some of the officers involved in this AMSPELL operation are on the public record.
  • Oswald was what he said he was: “a patsy.”
  • The CIA hid the story of how these officers manipulated Oswald from the Warren Commission, the Church Committee, and the House Select Committee on Assassinations.
  • Thousands of pages of JFK files remain secret to this day.
  • Here’s Part II:


  1. James Root says:

    The program leftout the U-2 downing and the failure of the Paris summit. In addition no mention of Oswald’s speech at Spring Hill College where Oswald spoke of the failure of the Paris Summit.
    Oswald’s portrayal of Gen. Walker as the leader of an organization that did not want peace between the US and the USSR is an interesting view into Oswald’s thinking atbthebtime prior to the assassination.

  2. StikeDC says:

    Glad to stumble on this site after hearing Jefferson’s podcast interview posted on this site today (11/24/20). I liked the Oswald is a patsy comment a lot. (Which he said himself on live TV the day after the assassination.) I was born in ’60 & finally made it down to Dealey Plaza in 2015 on a business trip. Of course I walked the area & Grassy Knoll. And went to the Sixth Floor Museum, which I suppose is official, or supposed to be. They had about a 40-minute “media reel” from the fateful weekend — but you guessed it, Oswald saying “I’m a patsy” is not part of it. Little things mean a lot, but that’s a big thing they left out. Why would they do that?

    While I’m here, as a bit of a pop culture aside, a word on my favorite episode of “Mad Men” — “The Grown Ups,” Season 3, Episode 12 (penultimate episode). It’s set that weekend — Friday-Sunday — and (spoiler alert) they clearly show the “I’m a patsy!” line, when characters are watching a B&W TV in a hotel kitchen during a wedding on Saturday, 11/23. It’s very interesting to see the way Mad Men (Matthew Weiner is the creator) depicts people watching the events in “real” time. One of the smartest, most forward-thinking characters (Pete Campbell), while not outright saying there was a conspiracy, scoffs at LBJ moving up — “Lydon Johnson … more of the same … nobody voted for him,” and later, when Oswald gets bumped off & they show it in slo-mo, “no trial … why don’t they just turn him over to the mob.” This is in contrast to some of the simpler-minded characters (Betty, Harry Crane) who are already eating what’s being fed to them almost immediately by TV & the newspapers — “He’s 24 years old” (Betty); “He lived in Russia, you know” (Harry). Betty yelling “What is going on?!” right after Oswald got hit kind of says it all. It’s a very interesting take on how different people reacted to the earth-shaking weekend.

  3. Jeff says:

    What is the likelihood that the next JFK records release date on 10-26-21 will re-release files that no longer redact hundreds of pages within key documents? You note above that “certain CIA officers were involved in the JFK plot whether they were “rogue” or not”. I agree, and since we are close to another key release date, let’s start using actual names. For example, I hope that the 2021 release “cleans-up” the heavily redacted files of both David Phillips and William Harvey. Do you have other names to focus on as well? Somebody in DC has read and knows what is written on all those redacted pages. Enough is enough … it’s time to come clean.

    • jeffmorley says:

      It’s impossible to know is the only answer. Depends of whether Trump or Biden is president.

      • Jeff says:

        Facts, Fiction or Lies …. Wow
        With our country’s status of today, discovering the Truth about JFK seems less important and irrelevant.

        I really thought the “blood in the streets” scenario could happen and would be learning about “a coup” in the US, but never expected this as the reason.

  4. Michael McDonald says:

    Yes Mark, an excellent point. A competent defense attorney such as Mark Lane would have won acquittal for Lee Oswald on that fact alone.Moreover up to 50 persons who witnessed a shot being fired from the wooden fence could have been called. For so many reasons
    a trial of Oswald could not be allowed to go forward. The plotters must have been sitting on pins and needles until Parkland doctors confirmed he had expired.

  5. robert e williamson jr says:

    James if I may: Definition: #2 (usually a modifier)- a person or thing that behave in an aberrant, faulty, or unpredictable way . . .

    After the failure of bay of pigs many old OSS types were furious with JFK, “the nerve of this young coward”, so they killed him because CIA let them.

    Your claim of not understanding the use of the term “rogue” here seems to belie your lack of knowledge of some of the critical background that complicates this story. Or you might be being facetious.

    You need to understand the history here, whether you agree with it or not makes no difference to the truth.

  6. James Reilly says:

    I just don’t understand the whole rogue angle.

    What makes something rogue or not?

  7. Mark says:

    Negative paraffin test = reasonable doubt = acquittal.

  8. Gerry Simone says:

    I’m glad I came out here to discover this documentary.

  9. Benjamin Cole says:

    Well, I will give my two cents on the NHK JFK two-part series.

    I largely agree with Jeff Morley. The dramatizations are highly speculative, really too much so. The reliance on Marina Oswald’s testimony…well, I guess that was for women viewers in Japan, but really hardly anyone believes a word she said, for or against any point of view.

    Rolf Mowatt-Larsen’s speculation about a blackmailed LHO agreeing to shoot a US President is…well, very speculative and I think far-fetched at that. (Mowatt-Larsen seems like a very intelligent and well-versed guy.)

    In any event, the consensus on LHO is that he was smart, self-directed and hard-headed, and not easily cowed. LHO slugged a sergeant in the Marines and was court-martialed for it. Would you slug a Marine sergeant?

    Besides, there is lots to suggest LHO was a CIA or intelligence asset long before the April 1963 shooting at General Walker.

    Really, LHO pals around with David Ferrie, Guy Bannister and Clay Bertram Shaw in N.O.? I posit the General Walker shooting was also an intentional miss, and part of plan to paint LHO as a type (by David Atlee Philipps).

    My own speculation is the JFK assassination was a false-flag operation, and originally intended only as a failed attempt on JFK’s life, not the real thing. LHO participated in that.

    Someone piggybacked on the false-flag operation, and fired upon JFK in earnest. At the least, that suggests a leak from the CIA to, say, Cuban exiles. Was the leak intentional or not?

    The Ruby-killing of LHO is also very suggestive. CIA higher-ups at that point did what they had to do.

    How long until LHO began to talk?

    I am writing up an article on this perspective.

  10. Benjamin Cole says:

    The below seems to be a stronger summation of your views than previously.

    “Oswald was the object of constant high-level CIA attention from 1959 to 1963.

    Oswald was used by senior CIA officers for counterintelligence and propaganda purposes both before and after JFK’s assassination; the name of these officers are on the public record;

    One of these CIA operations was a false-flag operation to blame JFK’s assassination on Cuba and to shield the intellectual authors of the crime;

    Oswald was what he said he was: “a patsy.”

    The CIA hid the story of how certain officers manipulated Oswald from the Warren Commission, the Church Committee, and the House Select Committee on Assassinations;”


    I have your read your books, but of course I do have have perfect recall. Have you expanded on these views in one place and if not, can you?

    Would make a great, solid post or longer article.


  11. Jay says:

    Its funny how no one mentions that Oswald got Top Security Clearance to work in the Japan u2 spy plane program. Then immediately turns around, resigns, and defects to Russia claiming disillusionment. Most people who get TSSC must prove their absolute loyalty to military secrets and the USA government. The logical explanation is that Oswald was working as a deep cover double agent for Angleton to root out Russian moles in Russia and in the USA when he returned. Oswald then worked with David Atlee Phillips, cuban exiles, and the mafia to kill Castro. The actual JFK shooters were paid alpha 66 cuban exiles hit squad and the french gunman mertz, paid by traficante and marcello for the kill shot. The planners included cuban CIA agents Barker, Sturgis, Morales, and George Joannides. The rest of the CIA heard rumors and looked the other way since it was only the Secret Service’s job to protect JFK because the CIA cannot operate on American soil.

  12. jay sutherland says:

    interesting watch…although I feel there is more than we have been told about the assasination I have no doubt LHO was firing a rifle from the TSBD.When someone disputes that they lose credibility with me.For example where are the “cutain rods” he claimed to bring to work? Keep up the good work

    • Paul Oryshak says:

      Oswald never claimed publicly or to the police/interrogators that he brought curtain rods to the TSBD that awful day. In fact, he consistently denied it. The claim was, in fact, made by Wesley Frazier.

      This story is hard to verify one way or another. There are circumstances on both sides of the issue that invites speculation. Part of the issue depends on how much you credibility you assign to Frazier.

      If you are so certain that a) a bullet was fired from the 6th floor window of the TSBD b) that Oswald fired that bullet, then you have a whole bunch of things to explain: for example, the paraffin wax test performed on Oswald’s cheek was negative for nitrates that would have been deposited there had Oswald fired a rifle that day.

    • Richard Foster Turnbull says:

      Which rifle? You could “gain credibility” with me by doing some basic research about the different rifles found in the TSBD on 22 November, 1963, and photographed, as well as the varying descriptions of the firearms, and for “bonus points,” try to provide a chain-of-custody for the rifle Oswald supposedly ordered from a Chicago sporting goods company (when he could have purchased one legally in Texas!) and explain how he retrieved it from a PO Box under his own name.
      That’s all quite apart from explaining how Oswald shot JFK in the front from the back, of course.
      Oswald shot no one at all in Dallas that day, neither Patrolman Jefferson Davis Tippit nor JFK, and it’s little wonder the FBI refused to tape any of the lengthy interrogations in which their suspect participated. Oswald probaby supplied enough references to covert ops to warn them off, if they ever had any such intentions to begin with.
      Don’t forget there was no trial for Oswald (and a farcical trial for Jack Ruby), thus no opportunity for a court to sit and assemble all the relevant evidence, and for attorneys to deploy what Wigmore called “the greatest legal engine ever invented for the discovery of truth,” cross-examination of witnesses sworn under penalty of perjury to testify truthfully.

  13. robert e williamson jr says:

    I’ve just finished Part one but the link for part two isn’t working.

    If Oswald was a radar operator aware of the U-2 program is very significant. The U-2 being under primarily CIA control is a clincher here.

    The most glaring fact seems to be the lie by CIA that said Oswald was not on their radar. Why would CIA lie when they knew his background?
    This seems very strange. Can it be that Ruby killing Oswald was an unplanned event and CIA saw a way to cut to the chase and bury the truth? Very weird!

    Thanks Jeff.

    It makes absolutely no sense that a 21 year old Oswald left the Marines
    after operating radar, knew about the U-2, defected and then returned and CIA didn’t know about him.

    This lie alone is very damning.

  14. Russ Tarby says:

    Jeff, I was unable to connect to Part Two…please reload or refresh that link. thanks.

  15. Bogman says:

    The public record summary rings so much truer than the official story.

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