Shenon to NPR: ‘The destruction of evidence begins within hours of the president’s death’

I saw JFK author Phil Shenon, author of “A Cruel And Shocking Act,” on TV this morning. Then I listened to him on NPR this afternoon.

He said some smart things to NPR’s Dave Davies about the JFK assassination story, even if I don’t agree with all of them.

From  Interview: Philip Shenon, NPR.

SHENON: “You know, a big theme of my book is the destruction of evidence, and the destruction of evidence begins within hours of the president’s death. President Kennedy is assassinated on a Friday. On Saturday night, his autopsy report is pushed into the fireplace by the Navy pathologist. Several hours after that, FBI agents in Dallas shred a handwritten note that Oswald had left for them just a few weeks before and flush it down the toilet.”

It was a relief to hear a former New York Times reporter acknowledging the rich tapestry of deceit and denial that followed the public murder of the popular liberal president. That sometimes gets skipped over by JFK authors eager to sell their reassuring tomes about the tragedy of Dallas.

And its nice to hear from a top-notch investigative reporter who has his JFK facts straight. In the recent movie “Parkland,” the Oswald note is depicted going up in flames. Shenon has tracked the story down. The witnesses said the Oswald note was flushed, and indeed it was. The FBI destroyed material evidence within days of JFK’s murder.

And the closer you look at this tapestry of deceit, the more certain moments stand out as significant, says Shenon.

He points to  the sojourn of the accused assassin to Mexico City in October 1963 as a key. I can’t criticize him because I have been saying much the same thing since the University Press of Kansas published my biography of the CIA’s Mexico City station chief Win Scott, “Our Man in Mexico,” in 2008.

Indeed, Shenon nicely summarized the plot of “Our Man in Mexico for NPR listeners.

SHENON: “Well, it’s remarkable to discover that the CIA may have had Oswald under pretty aggressive surveillance in Mexico City. There were reports years later that there were photographs of Oswald in Mexico City that the CIA had taken. There were tape recordings of his telephone calls in Mexico City. And all of that evidence would later disappear. The tapes, the CIA would say, were erased and the photographs, they would claim, never existed, even though there’s a fair amount of evidence to suggest they did.”

Like I say, a fair summary: If you want the full story, buy and read “Our Man in Mexico.

On the conspiracy question, Shenon says he’s sticking to the lone gunman theory, which is certainly the safest thing to say if you want to get invited to speak on NPR again. Whether that conclusion is warranted by fact is another issue.

Shenon argues that the FBI destroyed the Oswald note and the CIA destroyed most of the evidence of its surveillance of Oswald in Mexico City because it was potentially embarrassing — but not because it was actually incriminating in the wrongful death of JFK. Shenon shares the happy Washington faith that the CIA and FBI had no guilty knowledge to hide in regards to Oswald and the assassination of JFK.

I suspect the reverse is more likely: the CIA and FBI destroyed evidence related to accused assassin precisely because they had something big to hide. (What that something is a topic for another time: namely JFK Lancer’s November in Dallas conference next month where I will give the keynote address.)

That said, my differences with Shenon on the conspiracy question strike me as secondary to our agreement on what is the most important new fact to come into the public record of JFK’s assassination in recent years.

The JFK story people need to know in 2013, says Shenon, concerns the

“extensive attempts by both the CIA and FBI to withhold just how much they knew about Kennedy assassin Lee Harvey Oswald in the weeks and months before he killed the president.”

I agree. Oswald was not a socially isolated misfit who up and shot the president for no reason. He was a man watched closely and constantly by U.S. intelligence and law enforcement as he made his way to Dealey Plaza. Whether the CIA acted with reckless disregard for JFK’s life or whether they were merely negligent in failing to intercept Oswald has yet to be determined in my view.

Shenon may shy from breaking with the official theory of a lone gunman. But this does not disqualify his presentation of the new JFK assassination evidence. It is fair — and fairly damning.


Want to know more?

The story of Winston Scott, the chief of the CIA station in Mexico City, is central to understanding the JFK assassination story.

If you’d like buy an autographed copy of “Our Man in Mexico,” send me an email here.

Specify which edition you would like to receive: hardcover, paperback, or the Spanish (Nuestro Hombre en Mexico” was published by Taurus Mexico City in 2010)



22 thoughts on “Shenon to NPR: ‘The destruction of evidence begins within hours of the president’s death’”

  1. I think the ‘red herring’ issue of “Oswald” being in Mexico shows the CIA and the FBI were colluding to set up the real Oswald who, I believe, was never set foot in Mexico. We’ve seen how CI/SIG created profiles of non-existent people through composites of multiple people’s information, such was the case with Oswald. That is why several descriptions of Oswald appeared the day of the Assassination. The composite and false profile of Oswald was created in CI/SIG and disseminated through CIA anti-Castro Cubans working with George Johannides.
    My question is this: If we know the CIA and FBI were the two intel agencies sharing info on Oswald, would it not follow that these two ans entities were involved with setting Oswald up as the patsy to take the fall for the impending assassination of JFK. How could Hoover not know what the “underworld” was saying about Kennedy, or the CIA not know what the anti-Castro Cubans were saying about JFK? It strains logic to pursue LHO in Mexico City given the call Hoover made to President Johnson on 11/23/63 regarding the picture and tape from CIA alleging “Oswald” was in Mexico at both the Cuban and Russian embassies in September, 1963.
    If ever there is a Rosetta Stone in the JFK murder/coup d’etat, the false “Oswald” in Mexico City is the motherload of the conspiracy.

  2. I enjoyed Shenon’s description of a dysfunctional WC. However, there is no excuse for leaving the reader with the final sentence of the book from a nobody re Oswald, “We met and spoke with someone who then went and killed the president of the United States.”
    Marie Fonzi

  3. This may have already been suggested but I think it is worth asking again. For years, many have thought that the notes that FBI agent Holsey flushed down the toilet after his interview with Oswald pertain to Oswald giving detailed information about his relationship with the CIA, Ruby, etc.. He very well may have, but, is it possible that the smoking gun which would have exonerated Oswald from being a gunman was that he simply stated that at the time of the shooting, he was standing outside the TSBD? Remember, at the time of Oswald’s arrest and questioning by Dallas police and the FBI, the single most prevalent photo of the JFK shooting was already in the public domain and in fact, it was the lead photo on the front of the Wash Post on 11/23/1963. This was the photo by AP photographer, James Altgens which shows JFK slumping forward after the first shot and in the background a man who looks like Oswald watching the motorcade. In other words, is it possible that if Oswald stated that he was standing outside the TSBD at the time of the shooting and the FBI and/or other sinister forces realized that the Altgens photo would confirm what Oswald said, the narrative of Oswald as the gunman is shattered.

    Also, I must share this because I now see the misinformation for myself taking place by the Gerald Posner’s and the Warren Commission defenders as it pertains to the magic bullet. On July 22, 1976 three of my high school buddies and myself made an appointment with Mr. Marion Johnson who was at the time the curator at the National Archives on the JFK murder. I remember this day well, not just because of what we witnessed but I had my first car accident, ha ha. Any way, the four us were shown by Mr. Johnson the Manlicher Carcano and we were allowed to touch the magic bullet! The bullet that the liars on the Internet are now showing WAS NOT THE BULLET THE 4 OF US SAW THAT DAY! This bullet looked like it was never fired. Mr Johnson, even shook his head and said, “there is no way this bullet could have hit two men let alone one” The bullet was not flattened any where, it looked pristine and new in 1976!!

    In 2011, I went to Dallas with my son to watch the Super Bowl and I took him to Dealey Plaza where I had the honor to meet Robert Groden. Mr Groden was awesome and we spoke with him for almost 45 minutes! We took a ton of photos and both my son and I came away with an observation that was chilling:

    Yes, Dealey Plaza was smaller in size than I had thought it was, BUT
    the distance from the fatal shot from the TSBD is much further than I had thought!

    Del Ali

    1. There’s a decent possibility that Oswald was somewhere on the steps of the TSBD – see the thread on the Spartacus/Education forum called “Oswald Leaving TSBD?” for an interesting possibility – but the “analysis” by Ralph Cinque and Jim Fetzer that puts Oswald in the Altgens photo is strictly amateur hour.

      Personally, I think it’s hard to dispute that the figure in Altgens 5 is Billy Lovelady, but even if you want to leave that question open-ended, the figure in the photo is simply too indistinct to be evidence. I will admit that the same is true of the evidentiary value of the images in the aforementioned Ed. Forum thread, but at least in that case we are dealing with an unexplained figure. With Altgens 5, Lovelady identified himself as the figure, unless you believe Fetzer’s bizarre theories about Lovelady sending the world secret messages through his choice of flannel shirts in later pictures.

      I don’t know if Fetzer is an op, but I do know that disinformation doesn’t only come in the form of Posner-esque repetition of official propaganda. It also comes in distractions, red herrings, and disinformation time-bombs designed to discredit all conspiracy research by association when publicly disproved. Even if Fetzer is well-intentioned, his “Oswald Innocence Project” may well perform the latter function if it receives media attention and is subsequently debunked by the substantial evidence that “Doorway Man” is indeed Billy Lovelady.

  4. Apparently, William T. Coleman’s Warren Commission stint was not to be his last trip to controversial commissions:
    In 1996, in the wake of the July 17 crash of TWA Flight 800, he served on the President’s Commission on Airline and Airport Security.
    and then this stint:
    In September 2004 he was appointed to the United States Court of Military Commission Review.

    Just saying…

  5. How sad that Freddie Prinze, Sr., who “preceded” Philip Shenon, paid the price for his acuity – like a Philip Shenon of his time, he analyzed the Zapruder film. Freddie was part of the evidence that was destroyed. I did not know who Mae Brussel was until I published “Ms. Quixote Goes Country – Raised on the Marxist Frontier” which echoes Mae Brussell’s report on the “Death of Freddie Prinze, Sr.” available on You Tube. My novel is a ray of hope because until we learn to question and understand certain social patterns, we will not as a nation get on the right nourishing track. L.E. Vega.Net

  6. Mr. Morley writes:
    “Whether the CIA acted with reckless disregard for JFK’s life or whether they were merely negligent in failing to intercept Oswald has yet to be determined in my view.

    There’s a third possibility that shall not be mentioned by Serious People. Otherwise . . .

    The Kennedys attracted plenty of passionate, vocal haters. In the realm of foreign policy, CIA would have known most of them. Mr. Morley has even mentioned a US General who characterized the Kennedys as “cockroaches”. There were CIA officers and contract personnel who vehemently despised the Kennedys. Hundreds of extremely militant Cubans were openly hostile to JFK and his Cuba policies.

    Considering the large contingent of overt, dangerous Kennedy haters, why would CIA be especially interested in Oswald as a potential assassin? Where is the credible evidence that Oswald hated the president or wanted to kill him?


    Well, the 10 am call from Hoover to LBJ on November 23, 1963 blows Mr. Shenon’s book out of the water regarding Mexico City.

    Read it an weep, my friends. Hoover says “we have up here the tape and the photograph of the man who was at the Soviet Embassy using Oswald’s name. The picture and the tape do not correspond to this man’s voice nor to his appearance.”


    This is the smoking gun of the JFK assassination.

    It shows the frame-up of Oswald by David Atlee Phillips et al, beginning in September of 1963 . A blind man can see this. Unless he intentionally wants to look the other way and distract us as well.

    Hoover, the head of the FBI, is telling LBJ, the President of the United States he has not “a” tape, but “the” tape. Not “a” photograph, but “the” photograph of the phony Oswald. This is the Rosetta Stone. By helping the intelligence folks “place” Oswald in Mexico City at this time you are carrying their water, my friends.

    Page 635 of “Oswald and the CIA” by John Newman discusses Hoover’s handwritten note on an internal FBI doc sent to him in January 1964 about CIA illegal domestic activities.
    Wrote Hoover: Ok, but I hope you are not being taken in. I can’t forget CIA withholding the French espionage activities in USA NOR THE FALSE STORY RE OSWALD’S TRIP TO MEXICO CITY ONLY TO MENTION TWO INSTANCES OF THEIR DOUBLE DEALING.”

    The truth is there for us if we look.

    As many of us already know, Oswald was in the unemployment office in Dallas and the Selective Service office in Austin at the times he was supposed to be in Mexico City.
    There are affidavits to back that up. This is not a secret.

    September 26, 1963 at 2 PM in Dallas, Oswald met with 35 year old Henry McCluskey, interstate claims clerk, regarding the transfer of his last unemployment checks from New Orleans to Dallas.

    The day before, Wednesday September 25, 1963 at 1 PM Oswald met with Mrs. Dannelly at the State Selective Service HQ in Austin. Both government officials gave statements to the effect.

    Stop with the Mexico City stuff. It’s a McGuffin. The framing of Oswald is exposed in Mexico City. They fucked up. We should rejoice. It is the closest we are ever going to get to solving this case. I highly recommend we focus on that for the fiftieth anniversary, not a book written by a man with the “fingerprints of intelligence” all over him.

    1. Similarly, by suggesting that the CIA somehow “hid” from the Warren Commission the fact that the CIA was attempting to assassinate Castro – isn’t that overlooking the fact that Allen Dulles, who knew of these plots, was on the Warren Commission? Did he not know about them?

      1. Not sure of the point being made here. Almost certainly Dulles knew about the Castro plots. But, I have not seen any indication that he told anyone else on the WC about these plots. Very definitely the WC Report did not contain this information.

        1. The exchange below is what I am trying to get at, though I may not be making myself clear. It would seem to me that Shenon is making the case that the CIA withheld information from the Warren Commission, rather than the Warren Commission choosing not to pursue certain angles. Overlooking Dulles being a huge part of the Commission (who most certainly had knowledge of the plots to assassinate Castro) is what allows the assumption to be made (incorrectly in my view) that maybe pursuing that angle would have led to Castro-SYMPATHIZERS, and the actions of Oswald in Mexico City (which also overlooks the impersonation).

          It is almost as if someone withheld these two points from Shenon in the same manner that he says the CIA withheld information from the Warren Commission (maybe he meant certain, more interested, parts of the Commission), which allows the him to suppose on air (perhaps honestly) that maybe it was Castro or Castro sympathizers.

          I can’t conclude anything without reading the book, but I was thrown off a bit by that.
          DAVIES: Right. And one of the things that the commission did not know was that the U.S. government had already repeatedly attempted to have Fidel Castro assassinated.

          SHENON: Well, I mean, among the things that the – and perhaps the most important thing that the CIA withheld from the Warren Commission was the fact that for years the CIA had been trying to kill Castro, and that Castro, you know, might’ve had a motivation in killing John Kennedy because John Kennedy had very clearly been trying to kill him.

          And if there’s anything that gets Warren Commission staffers agitated, it’s the fact that that information was withheld from them. Because it would’ve raised a million other questions about what exactly happened in Mexico City, and was Oswald in contact with Cubans or people who were sympathetic to Castro who might have wanted revenge against Kennedy for what Kennedy was trying to do to the Cuban dictator.

          DAVIES:…I have to ask you, bottom line, do you believe or do you think it’s likely that Oswald acted at the direction or encouragement of the Cubans or the Soviets? Based on what you know.

          SHENON: I think we’ll never really have the answer to that because those questions should’ve been asked 49 years ago but they weren’t. I do think there is a real question as to who else knew about Oswald’s plans in the week before, weeks before the assassination and whether or not anybody knowing of Oswald’s open boasts about killing President Kennedy encouraged him to do that and perhaps even offered the suggestion that they would help if he could ever get out of the United States again.

          And this is not my crazy conspiracy theory. This is a theory offered by one of the staff investigators on the Warren Commission. This is a theory they developed within the commission staff, that something happened in Mexico City. Oswald was promised help if he could ever get back to Mexico, perhaps to be spirited off to Cuba. And that explained why perhaps Oswald was heading to Mexico in the hours after President Kennedy’s assassination.

          This theory, and it was only a theory, doesn’t go into the Warren Commission’s final report because of the view that the commission doesn’t want to encourage speculation.

          1. Throw on top how eager a lot in the CIA and and JCS were for an excuse to invade Cuba (even maybe going as far as manufacturing one with Northwoods), it is hard for me to believe that the CIA would not have pursued this angle for fear of what might have come out of it.

    2. Thanks to Jeff’s work, Newman and others, it is beginning to look clearer. We got two key events (Mexico City and FPCC in New Orleans) involving Oswald leading up to the assassination that have the fingerprints of intel all over them. It’s not a huge leap that professionals in political assassinations could make the rest happen. Bastards.

    3. Mark,
      Agreed. The impersonation of Oswald in Mexico City alone shows the JFK assassination was much more than a “lone nut” killing. To convince the public and the media, this incident should become part of every discussion regarding the Kennedy assassination.

      1. Has anybody ever produced a theory as to who the person was who was impersonating Oswald? If only that guy ever talked…

  8. It is clear that the WC was totally flawed in that there are so many aspects of the assassination it did not investigate or even know about.
    This seems to be the fault of the CIA and FBI who misled and lied to the commission, and withheld vital information.
    Did they do so to hide their own incompetence, or to hide their own involvement?

    1. “Did they do so to hide their own incompetence, or to hide their own involvement?”

      There is significant progress in Shenon’s book and its impact. No longer do people who believe in a conspiracy have to try to prove that the CIA and FBI withheld information, that is now a given. Shenon can conclude whatever he likes but the net effect will be to strengthen conspiracy theories because it’s only a stone’s throw from hiding info due to incompetence to hiding due to wrongdoing.

    2. I’d say to hide their own involvement. That Dallas newspaper reporter Connie Kritzberg had her story on 11-22-63 misquoted. When Kritzberg angrily called her editor to ask why her story was changed, she was told “You have to ask the FBI about that”. The FBI was on the coverup as soon as JFK was pronounced dead, or even before that. Hoover was a buddy of LBJ, and hated JFK.

  9. Jeff,

    Any thoughts on the idea that these “revelations” in Shenon’s book may be what is referred to as a “limited hang out?” I mean the guy is confirming what so many researchers throughout the years have been called crazy for pointing out. I realize that’s the kind of koo koo talk that’s discouraged, but I just can’t help but thinking that.

    Also, by the way look how young Jeff was in this program from 1999, lol sorry Jeff couldn’t help myself. (The History Channels “The Warren Report” 1999)

      1. It really seems that even among the so called “main stream” media the Warren Commission is full of holes. That’s quite a sea change from say 20 years ago.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top