Nobody talked: the FBI burglary of 1971 and the JFK case

A faithful reader asks an interesting question about the 1971 burglary of the FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania, which made the news recently when the perpetrators came forward for the first time.

The crime had been unsolved for 43 years.

The reader recalls hearing former Warren Commission staffer Burt Griffin testify to the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) in 1978. Griffin said:

“The select committee, I would suggest in those regards, should consider the possible reality that under the American system of civil liberties and the requirement of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, that it is virtually impossible to prosecute or uncover a well-conceived and well-executed conspiracy.” [emphasis added.]

The reader asks: “Does the Media case tend to validate Griffin’s analysis?”

“Of course, the situation is quite different,” the reader adds. “Tthe FBI knew that conspirators were at large, but they were still unable to track them down.”

In the context of the JFK case, author Larry Hancock has disputed the assumption that “somebody would have talked,” by saying the some people did talk and they were ignored.

I think the Media Pa. case shows that a small group of ideologically cohesive group of conspirators can keep a secret about a relatively simple crime for a long time.

JFK’s murder was not a simple crime but but if a relatively small group was responsible, they could have kept it secret all these years, especially as if they enjoyed (as the Media Pa, burglars did not) powers of official secrecy to keep their actions out of the public record.

What do you think?


An excerpt from Betty Medsger’s book, “The Burglary”


  1. Paulf says:

    Look at the NJ Bridgegate issue as a parallel. At first it seemed like a small group of top aides to Gov. Christie conspired to create havoc for motorists trying to cross the GW Bridge. Now as the story develops we are seeing a much larger number of people involved, including numerous Port Authority police officers, port authority executives, political allies and aides to the governor. For example, the police were told to tell people to complain to the local mayor’s office. And someone had to authorize the placement of the cones and execute the plan.

    Yet despite all the planning that went into this and the number of people involved on some level, it was chance that it was uncovered. It very easily could have never been uncovered and none of those people had any personal interest in outing the scandal.

    JFK assassination is the same thing. It was in nobody’s interest to talk.

  2. Jonathan says:

    “I think the Media Pa. case shows that a small group of ideologically cohesive group of conspirators can keep a secret about a relatively simple crime for a long time.”

    True without any doubt. Just one example: The U.S. Army almost successfully covered up the My Lai massacre. The massacre was uncovered, almost by accident, by Sy Hersh over a year after its occurrence. And yet there were plenty of soldiers who had firsthand knowledge of the massacre who kept quiet. Even some who were appalled by the massacre.

  3. Anonymous says:

    You are absolutely correct, Jeff, you nailed it.

  4. Hans Trayne says:

    In the early 1980’s one of my college family psychology professors informed her class that the most common & longest running ‘conspiracy’ plaguing the USA & some other countries involved infidelity, adultery & incestuous relationships. Though not always within the ‘legal’ definition of ‘conspiracy’, many instances are considering the ages & relationships of the participants and other factors within the length of each case. Some such sordid relations last a lifetime & continue as more people are added to or subtracted from the relationship; unaware of the presence of ‘shadow participants’.

    Perhaps those just leaving college can give Jeff Morley an updated version of statistics opposed to the staggering numbers the Professor gave us back in the day. The idea that two or more people cannot keep a secret a long time is hogwash.

  5. Kennedy63 says:

    Standard understanding of a conspiracy is that two or more people come together in a common effort to carry out an illegal scheme, enterprise, or deed; either by direct action, knowledge, or assent or, whether by silence, withholding information about the conspiracy, or by fomenting an atmosphere in which the conspiracy can take place. By definition, a lot of CIA activity of the 1960’s is “compartmentalized conspiracy.” Can a conspiracy be kept secret? Most “scandals” are secrets until they are exposed…the JFK coup d’etat has been exposed; why citizens simply can’t accept the un-adulterated truth is mind-boggling, even at this 50 year benchmark.

  6. bogman says:

    I’ve often wondered if there were a couple levels of conspiracy in the JFK case. The lower level one of anti-Castroites believing they were going to get the US to invade Cuba and a higher one of govt officials who wanted the Cold War to continue and escalate Vietnam. Because looking at the immediate actions of the govt afterwards, the Castro angle was shot down quickly and he was never really touched again while Gulf of Tonkin was the following August.

    [posted the above under wrong thread. sorry for duplication]

  7. GM says:

    I am not really sure what happened in regards to the JFK assassination. I have to say though I tend to be closer to the conspiracy/plot version, rather than the official version. If there was a conspiracy I think it would have had to have come probably from a very small group of high ranking intelligence officers, probably CIA, and carried out by anti-Castro Cubans and/or the Mafia. I just don’t see another conspiracy that is at all realistic, viable or creditable.

    Could they have kept it secret? Probably. It would certainly not be easy. You could argue that if there was a plot, then those with knowledge of it had every incentive and motivation to keep it a secret. It is not as if the mainstream media in America put pressure on the establishment over the assassination either.

  8. JSA says:

    Another couple of examples: Iran-Contra and the entire lead-up to the Iraq War of 2003. In both cases the media was relatively compliant, or at best, not diligent enough in digging at the conspiracies behind each. In the case of Iran-Contra, Constitutional law was clearly violated. Yet very little happened except some wrist-slapping. In the case of the Iraq War of 2003, the conspirators in the Bush administration created a big lie about weapons of mass destruction and a coy nod to 9/11 attacks as reasons to send troops into Iraq. Clearly the reasons for war were covered up and the conspirators at the top of the Executive branch got off relatively scot free.

    One more conspiracy that I can think of: the Gulf of Tonkin “attacks” which may have been completely bogus. Yet this event was the excuse to send troops into Vietnam the following year, after the presidential election of course. The media was compliant and went along, not really asking the right questions.

  9. Pat Speer says:

    One of the lessons to be learned about the Media, Pennsylvania, break-in is that the identities of some of those involved was known to more than just a select few. This, then proves that a conspiracy needn’t be small to remain secret, if those “in the loop” are like-minded.

    An even more telling argument against the “someone would have talked” argument comes from studying the statistics on organized crime and murder. As I recall, less than 10% of the cases are ever prosecuted or even solved down the road. What happened to Hoffa? Giancana? Rosselli? I mean, think about it. I used to work in the record business. I knew people who knew people who said they knew what happened in the Tupac and Biggie murders. It wouldn’t surprise me if a hundred or more people..alive today…know exactly what happened in both murders. And yet there’s no reason to believe either crime will be “solved”.

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