Why did James Angleton want to wait out the Warren Commission?

The short answer is I don’t know.

The long answer is that we are talking about one of the most pregnant moments in the Warren Commission’s efforts to obtain information from the CIA. It happened in March 1964.

Wait Out Warren Commission

Former HSCA investigator Dan Hardway has written about this remarkable incident. It is often cited in the JFK literature. I want to revisit it in closer detail.

I’m going to tell the story in my forthcoming biography of Angleton, and I want to get the details right. Maybe you can help.

Three cables

In February 1964, the Warren Commission general counsel Lee Rankin asked the agency to provide copies of three cables from the Mexico City station chief Win Scott to CIA headquarters. The commission staff knew about the cables because copies had been shared with the Secret Service on the night of November 22, 1963.

(This February 20, 1964 CIA memo tells the back story.)

When this reasonable request went to Angleton, chief of the Counterintelligence Staff, he balked. Angleton told his deputy Ray Rocca that he “would prefer to wait out the Commission” rather than turn over the cables.

Rocca laid out “the problem” for deputy director Dick Helm in this March 5, 1964 memo.

Unless you feel otherwise, Jim would prefer to wait out the Commission on the matter covered by paragraph 2.

These cables were identified by the numbers 66846, 66891 and 66896.

If someone can pull these cables from Mary Ferrell, I will post them and we can discuss Angleton’s possible motives for not sharing this evidence with assassination investigators. This is a telling moment in the JFK story worth understanding.

21 thoughts on “Why did James Angleton want to wait out the Warren Commission?”

    1. Right. Anyone who thinks “they” don’t “eat their own” as stated in The Good Shepherd need only understand this and read the OSS’ manual on Simple Sabotage to understand the conceptual thinking of these people. They aren’t here for the security of the citizenry.

    2. Anthony, FYI Jeff knows a little bit about the Washington Post as a former reporter and editor. He has also written a book about CIA Officer Winston Scott and in turn sued them to FREETHEFILES. Do you have a clue as to what that means?

  1. If Oswald did in fact go to the USSR with a dozen or so others as spy’s for the ONI/CIA as some assert, Angleton as the chief spymaster of such operations was protecting them (the operations) by waiting out the Omission. At a minimum.

    1. If Angleton was still “running” Oswald as an asset at the time of the Assassination that opens a Much bigger can of worms.

      1. It seems that things often look different when you view them in context, doesn’t it?

        And what are we to conclude about the honesty of those who show them out of context?

        But maybe it’s not dishonesty. Maybe it’s just an intense desire to make a point. Which is not admirable if the point is wrong.

  2. I look forwad to reading the Angleton book by Jeff Morley.

    It really goes to the heart of the matter to try to comprehend why Angleton “was allowed to wait out the Commission” and wait out the judgement of history.

    The enormity of the Coverup in the days & weeks and now 52+ years after the Assassination is overwhelming.

    The CIA had a lot to hide but at the expense of not solving the murder of President Kennedy.

    It was something more than hiding attempts to assassinate Castro and using the Mafia and so many other things. Something more than the fears of starting WW3.

    Using Oswald as a patsy was an easy way out for those who seemingly realized immediately what had happened and had to hide it.

    Alternatively, Oswald was also an easy way out for those who did not know what had happened in Dealey Plaza. This is also a possibility.

    Angleton obviously knew more than most people alive.

    I look forward to the Morley book.

  3. These three cables are discussed in this 4/2/64 memo.

    Sam Stern of the WC was concerned because the Navy never responded to Mexico City’s 10/24/63 request for a photo of Oswald.

    The result was Mexico City allegedly believed the mystery man was Oswald until after 11/22.

    However, there are some interesting secret communications between Helms and Angleton on 10/25 and again on 10/30, pursuant to the program ZRTAFFY. This crypt means communications tightly held between two
    Officers, according to Malcolm Blunt. This begins the day after Scott’s request for the Oswald photo. We may learn more in 2017.

    The three cables invoke the CIA’s ability to track travelers and to photo Americans at the Cuban embassy – discussions that Angleton would like to keep as narrow and quiet as possible.

      1. I agree Simpich has it right. It is consistant with CIA mindset that their ongoing work is more important than the fate of an individual. Even if that person happens to be President.

  4. I really wish Dan Hardway and Eddie Lopez would comment (more). I didn’t realize Hardway had written anything here until I saw the link embedded above. In that link, John McAdams pressed Hardway on his opinion at the time that both Phillips and Goospasture had committed perjury and Hardway demurred that he needed to go back and look at the record as to why he thought that. From what I gather, in the case of Goodpasture, she lied about being in charge of the photo operations in front of the USSR and Cuba embassies in Mexico City, something that was directly contradicted by her own fitness report and another agent in the office. And Phillips lied that the cameras were not operational when Oswald visited the embassies. Maybe there’s more to this also.

    Getting back to Lopez, I sure would like him to try and reconstruct his thoughts on whether Oswald was a CIA agent, the part that is still missing from his famous report.

    1. Thanks. I had read about Angleton “waiting out” the omission somewhere regarding the first link. But I’ve never seen anything about the second two.
      Never heard of Lee Martin, Wilfort Oswalt or William Oswald. I wonder if they were checked out and what the result was? Real people? If so why were they in Mexico City? Interesting two of them flew to Chicago in time for the cancelled trip there passing a tall building on a slow turn.
      I’ve also never heard of the FBI having six photographs of six men sent to Dallas, one of whom might be Oswald leaving the Cuban Embassy.
      Interesting. Thanks again, Jeff and GM.
      Sounds like Angleton was protecting an operation and/or assets by waiting them out. And, to put it bluntly covering his own ass in the process.

      1. Did Angleton not want them to see the six photographs because one or more might show an asset? Did he not want them digging in his files about Lee Martin, Oswalt or anyone else?

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