The Washington Post obituary for Tennent H. ‘Pete’ Bagley, noted CIA officer, recounts his central role in the CIA’s investigation of President Kennedy’s assassination.
Bagley was the CIA handler of Yuri Nosenko, a KGB officer who defected to the United States with information about accused presidential assassin Lee Harvery Oswald.
Fifty years later, the CIA’s files on Nosenko’s interrogation are among the Top 7 JFK files that the CIA still keeps secret.
From the Post:
“Bagley embarked on what would become his most noted work in 1962, when, at a Geneva safe house, he met KGB agent Yuri Ivanovich Nosenko. Nosenko would become one of the most controversial figures in the history of U.S counterintelligence, and Dr. Bagley was described as his chief handler.
“In time, according to published reports, Nosenko disclosed to his U.S. interlocutors key information about Soviet infiltration of Western embassies and about his country’s intelligence-gathering practices.
“Regarded as more impressive were Nosenko’s later revelations about Lee Harvey Oswald, whom Nosenko said he had interviewed during Oswald’s stay in the Soviet Union in the years before the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Nosenko told CIA officers that Oswald had no connection with the KGB — a significant assertion at a time when many officials feared that the assassination could be linked to the Soviets.”
The defunct ‘KGB did it’ theory
Along with Counterintelligence chief James Angleton, Bagley suspected Nosenko was not telling the truth, indicating that Nosenko was a plant whose purpose was to convey false information about Oswald.
Bagley’s handling of Nosenko is important because if Nosenko was plant, perhaps the KGB was seeking to hide a relationship with Oswald.
Bagley “prepared what were described as 900 pages of material about Nosenko. The report noted that Nosenko never “broke” under interrogation, which included tactics that bordered on torture.
Nosenko passed numerous lie-detector tests, and the CIA determined in 1969 that he had been a genuine defector. The agency later employed him as a consultant. He died in 2008 in an undisclosed location in the United States.”
According to the National Archives’ online JFK data base, the CIA has 36 files on the interrogation of Nosenko, amounting to 2,224 pages of material. None of these records have never been made public.
One JFK researcher and self-admitted conspiracy theorist who knew Bagley recalled that he “hated conspiracy theorists and conspiracy theories” yet spent “hundreds of hours talking to me, someone who sees conspiracies around every corner. We had our moments,but each of us gained mutual respect for the other;in the end it was a real strong friendship.”
RIP Pete Bagley.