A faithful reader calls attention to this passage in Phil Shenon’s POLITICO Magazine article on the former Warren Commission staff David Slawson and his change of heart about the Commission’s conclusions:
“He [Slawson] was outraged, in particular, when I showed him an eye-popping June 1964 letter from FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover to the commission that described how Oswald, in an outburst at a Cuban diplomatic compound in Mexico City during his trip there, had reportedly been overheard threatening, ‘I’m going to kill Kennedy.’
“According to the letter, a secret FBI informant had heard about the outburst directly from Fidel Castro during a meeting with the Cuban dictator in Havana several months after the JFK assassination. (The informant would later be revealed to be a leader of the American Communist Party.)”
Shenon went on: “Slawson was certain he had never before seen the Hoover letter, even though it was written in the middle of the Warren Commission’s work.”
The reader notes that the letter was known to the Commission. It was called Commission Document 1359 and it was apparently circulated to Slawson.
The readers notes: “In my copy of the official list of Commission Documents (“Inventory Entry 2”), p. 154, a handwritten marginal note for CD 1359 indicates “Orig – Files; cc: Slawson,”
This was typical, the reader writes: “Every other CD on that page went to the files and to one junior counsel (occasionally two).”
“Slawson may not remember seeing it but he almost certainly did,” the reader concludes.
I have asked Slawson for comment.
Until he responds I would make one point. One inherent problem in secret intelligence collection is the self-interest of the source in telling the the intelligence service what it wants to hear. This problem seems especially relevant to this story.
The leader of the American Communist party who reported Oswald’s alleged threat to the FBI was a man named Jack Childs, code named SOLO. It took impressive level of cynicism for Childs to present himself as a hardline communist for his whole adult life while whispering the party’s secrets into the ear of J. Edgar Hoover, one of the party’s most vitriolic and powerful enemies.
Might Childs have embellished the story of his conversation with Castro in order to stay in good graces with the Bureau?
The House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) concluded in 1978 that the information from Childs/SOLO was not credible. “On balance, the committee did not believe that Oswald voiced a threat to Cuban officials. However reliable the confidential source may be, the committee found it to be in error in this instance.” (Emphasis added.)
The HSCA’s conclusion was based on the fact that none of the employees of the Cuban consulate who were interviewed by the HSCA (and by Anthony Summers) confirmed that Oswald said, “I’m going to kill Kennedy.” Of course, as employees of the Cuban government, these witnesses had their own self-interest.
Absent additional information, I think the weight of the evidence indicates that Oswald did not make any such threat. Caveat Emptor.