What the Huffington Post doesn’t know about the CIA and JFK

HuffPoWhat’s with the Huffington Post?

In his news report, New CIA Information on JFK Assassinationon the release of thousands of presidential briefings from the 1960s, HuffPo reporter Keith Thomson devoted considerable effort to ridiculing unnamed JFK conspiracy theorists who attended a press briefing at the Lyndon B. Johnson presidential library in Austin, Texas last week.

Along the way, Thomson managed to miss the historical significance of the CIA’s disclosure.

The declassified briefing actually did disclose something relevant to the JFK assassination story–something factual, not theoretical.

What we learned

The President’s Intelligence Checklist from November 25, 1963, shows what the CIA was not telling the White House in the wake of JFK’s assassination: that a half dozen senior undercover CIA officers knew all about the leftist politics and foreign contacts of accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald six weeks before JFK was killed.

CIA Oswald cable

Six senior CIA officers signed off on a cable about Lee Oswald, six weeks before JFK was killed.

[Don’t take my word for it. Compare the CIA’s November 25, 1963 presidential briefing about Oswald’s actions in Mexico City with a CIA cable dated October 10, 1963 on the same subject. Draw your own conclusions.]

Unfamiliar with the recently declassified records, Thompson chose to focus on the “theorists.”

Why, he asked, did the CIA release this material, after insisting for years in sworn court declarations, that disclosure of the presidential briefs would harm U.S. national security?

Thomson quotes a statement from CIA Information Management Services: “To promote an understanding of the intelligence information that has helped shaped major US foreign policy decisions.”

He also quotes, rather less approvingly,  a “self-described JFK conspiracy theorist: “So they say,”

As a journalist, I  share Thomson’s desire for balanced reporting. I understand his impatience with obtuse JFK conspiracy theorists who respond to new evidence by reasserting their old beliefs. I agree that people who are impervious to new facts do not necessarily deserve journalistic respect.

Nonetheless, I hoped that Thomson, as a reporter for a progressive publication, might show more skepticism about a CIA-controlled media event presenting information previously denied to independent scholars.

A half dozen senior CIA undercover officers reporting to deputy director Richard Helms and Counterintelligence Chief James Angleton were well-informed about Oswald’s leftist politics, erratic ways, and foreign contacts six weeks before JFK was killed.

The larger problem is that Thomson apparently suffers from the same affliction as the conspiracy theorists he ridicules: He is responding to new evidence with a closed mind. His Huffington Post story on the CIA disclosures all but asserts there is nothing in the new disclosures that casts doubt on the official theory of JFK’s death.

That’s wrong.

The new JFK record

HuffPo’s Thomson–unlike his fellow reporters at Politico, Associated Press, Fox News, and CNN– seems unfamiliar with the new historical record of JFK’s assassination that has emerged in recent years.

Richard Helms, CIA director

Richard Helms: The man who kept the JFK secrets

That documentary record, available on MaryFerrell.org and JFKFacts.org, shows beyond a reasonable doubt that:

–A half dozen senior CIA undercover officers reporting to deputy director Richard Helms and Counterintelligence Chief James Angleton were well-informed about Oswald six weeks before JFK was killed.

–After JFK was killed, the CIA did not share this information with the White House, the FBI, or the Warren Commission. When the Commission’s attorneys started asking questions, Angleton told an aide he wanted to “wait out” the Commission, rather than answer their questions about what the CIA knew about Oswald when JFK was still alive.

–In 2015, the CIA is still concealing more than 1,100 JFK files, (comprising an estimated 15-50,000 pages of material) from public view–for reasons of “national security.”

These unseen files concern the secret operations of CIA officers such as David Phillips, Bill Harvey, and Howard Hunt who: 1) knew about Oswald’s whereabouts before JFK was killed; Or; 2) participated in CIA assassination operations; Or 3) implicated themselves in the JFK assassination.

In short, the new historical record indicates (but does not prove) that the CIA might still be hiding incriminating evidence about JFK’s assassination a half century after the fact.

For the sorry details, see my story:  “7 JFK files the CIA still hides.”

About this reality the Huffington Post seems clueless.

Will HuffPo learn?  

Presidential Intelligence Checklist

Excerpt from the CIA’s Presidential Intelligence Checklist, November 25, 163

What the release of the presidential briefings show–albeit inadvertently–is that the CIA’s Directorate of Operations and the Counterintelligence Staff were withholding information about what Agency personnel knew about Oswald from the White House before JFK had been buried.

As I have written, the authors of the Nov. 25 briefing were probably not intentionally deceiving LBJ. More likely, they had been left in the dark by their colleagues in Langley.

Why is a question that only the CIA can answer.

The newly-disclosed presidential briefings, in short, don’t tell us much about stupid JFK conspiracy theorists. They don’t tell us much about stupid JFK conspiracy theories (as spouted by Malcolm Gladwell and others).

Rather, they tell us something more significant: what the CIA sought to hide in the wake of JFK’s murder.

As we approach the scheduled release of JFK records in October 2017, I hope that the Huffington Post will pay less attention to JFK conspiracy theories and stick to the JFK facts.

Source: New CIA Information on JFK Assassination | Keith Thomson


  1. JohnR says:

    Scathing, Jeff. Points well made. By the way, is this release related in any way to October 2017?

    • Bogman says:

      That was my first thought when I heard about the release of the security briefings. Looks like the start of the CIA’s image campaign that it’s as transparent as can be while it attempts to keep other JFK files under wraps in 2017.

  2. Neil says:

    As a Liberal I find it disappointing that the Liberal news media has been more vocal lately in ridiculing JFK assassination researchers.

    I’ve seen more balanced reporting on the assassination from Fox News and other Right-wing news sources…

  3. Fearfaxer says:

    I’m wondering if this is first in a series of modified limited hangouts, meant to diffuse attention and build up a general sense of “see, we have nothing to hide,” even though they did then and most likely do now. Anyway, they’ll always be able to get people ignorant of the complexity of the case to write something like this HuffPo piece, and such pieces will always draw more notice than those of even the most discriminating and judicious of Warren Report skeptics.

    BTW, had this CIA lie about what they knew about Oswald prior to 11-22-63 been uncovered in, say, January of 1964, think of what a bombshell it would have been.

  4. What about the Presedential briefings leading up to the assassination?

    They are even more relevant to who killed him – especially the reports on the Venezulan Arms Cache – a covert operation directly connected to what happened at Dealey Plaza –


    • JohnR says:

      Mr.Kelly, while I agree that the CIA probably planted the arms to try to convince the OAS that Castro was exporting his revolution, I’ve never understood why you think it was related to the President’s murder.

      • Ramon F Herrera says:

        JohnR and Bill:

        A relative of mine was very knowledgeable and involved in that Cuban affair.

        You can rest assured that the cache of weapons was very real. Cuba was fired from the OAS, to this day. Two decades after the incident (70s), when things were beginning to thaw between Venezuela and Cuba, Fidel demanded the Venezuelan courts to condemn Luis Posada Carriles and Orlando Bosch Ávila.


        The gentleman in the photos below, adamantly replied:

        “Maybe in Cuba the courts are given orders from the executive palace, but here in Venezuela we have separation of powers”.


  5. Chris Newton says:

    I’ve had an eye on HuffPost for awhile. On one hand the main readership and comments seem to be left of center but their news is right down the middle. They rarely drift far from whatever drivel the mainstream parrots. Way back when, when HuffPost was an infant we used to joke about the headlines that were so far off the mark from the underlying stories that they would have made a Sun or Globe editor blush. Today it seems to be more of a dump of every news story, the more salacious the better.

    Plunk Mr, Thompson down in the middle of Huff Post bunch and he probably sticks out like a sore thumb. Stanford educated, a penchant for flaunting his connections in the intel community, he certainly doesn’t look like someone who is going to fit in with that crowd. Thompson did recently got some feedback on one of his novels from the CIA. Oh yeah, I forgot that little detail. Full disclosure: He’s a Stanford grad intelligence beat reporter that lived overseas and he writes spy novels and blogs about the SR-71 but he and Porter Goss are both sure he’s got no relationship to the Agency. You can trust them.


  6. Leon Van Gelderen says:

    Of course CIA was up to its eyeballs in Oswald’s activities. Oswals had security clearance while in the military stationed in Japan; he is discharged and flees to Russia denouncing the US and living there for several years. He then waltzes back into the US with his Russian bride and immediatly gets a new life here. How does that happen without high level CIA and FBI complicity?
    His best friend in the US is connected to the CIA and dies mysteriously before testifying.Oswald’s trip to Mexico before the assasination has CIA fingerprints all over it with CIa allegedly losing crucial wiretaps at Cuban and Russian embassy while Oswald visits. And again he is allowed to waltz back into US and be on the loose in Dallas when JFK visits? Please we are not that stupid.

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