Wiretapping in Mexico City, Double Agents, and the Framing of Lee Oswald
by Bill Simpich
Chapter 6: The Set-Up and the Cover-Up
On November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was shot at 12:30 pm. The following is a brand-new account on how Oswald was set up as the lone suspect. Although I am not convinced Oswald was innocent of involvement, I am convinced he was framed as the lone suspect.
Oswald may have been involved in the assassination in some way. To what extent, we still don’t know. It’s hard to think of a less secure sniper’s nest than the sixth floor. Six men had been up there all morning on November 22 laying a wood floor, and they were nowhere near done. It was an optional sniper post at best. The entire sixth floor was open storage space. Anyone could walk in at any minute.
In fact, the men had planned to eat lunch on the sixth floor that day, and Bonnie Ray Williams left the floor at 12:15 only when he realized no one was coming up to join him. The sixth floor was not Oswald’s turf – as an order filler, he would only come up there when he needed some books to pack into a carton, and then he was on his way again. The best evidence is that Oswald wasn’t on the sixth floor on the day of the assassination, but on the first or second floor.
The two lunchroom theory
I don’t have a well-developed two Oswalds theory, but I do have a two lunchroom theory. I never understood why there weren’t more witnesses coming forward and saying that they saw Oswald in the lunchroom. Then I found out that Oswald regularly ate his lunch in the first floor lunchroom called the “domino room” where the African American employees would gather, instead of in the all-white, main lunchroom on the second floor that had all of the soft drink machines. This behavior was Oswald’s regular practice. When he went to court in New Orleans in August 1963, he sat on the side of the courtroom with the African Americans. During that same month, Oswald was seen in the predominantly black voter registration line. Many African Americans were dissuaded from providing testimony due to racism, and this is one more example of it. Oswald himself told his interrogators that he saw Junior Jarman and a second short another African American man that he recognized in the domino room while he was eating lunch during noontime, which was subsequently verified. It has been suggested that Oswald may have left the domino room “to go up to the second floor to get a coke.”[ 1 ] Maybe we should rehabilitate what we called during the Vietnam War “the domino theory” - many things fall in line when you look at the story this way.
I’m also relying on several witnesses. Carolyn Arnold stated on November 26 that she saw Oswald on the first floor a few minutes before 12:15 pm. On the sixth floor itself, Bonnie Ray Williams told the Warren Commission that he was up there until about 12:15, and Oswald was not there. Arnold Rowland said that he saw an African American man and a white man with a rifle in two separate windows on the sixth floor at 12:15 pm. Carolyn Walter also saw two men on the sixth floor a few minutes later, one of them with a rifle. The HSCA photographic panel found that someone rearranged the boxes in the sniper’s nest within two minutes after the shooting – given Oswald’s verified appearance on the second floor with Patrolman Marrion Baker ninety seconds after the shots, I don’t see how Oswald had the time to do this rearrangement.
I am admittedly moved by the tale presented by Barry Ernest in The Girl on the Stairs, one of the greatest stories about this case. Ernest tells the story of how he spent more than 35 years looking for a girl named Victoria Adams. Adams was in the stairwell of the Texas School Book Depository in the moments immediately after the assassination, interviewed in the ensuing days, and was interrogated by Warren Commission attorney David Belin. Adams’ story was rejected, and she was a discredited witness in the Warren Report.
Adams and her friend Sandra Styles had been watching the motorcade from a fourth floor office window with two other women. Within fifteen to thirty seconds after the shots, Adams and Styles entered the stairwell and went down the stairs without seeing or hearing anyone else. Styles was interviewed once by the FBI and was ignored from then on. Both women were ignored by not just the Warren Commission, but all of the government’s investigations over the years.
Both women verified that Oswald was not in the building’s only stairwell during the crucial ninety seconds between the last shot and when Patrolman Marrion Baker confronted Oswald on the second floor on his way upstairs to find the shooter. It would have been very difficult for Oswald to get down the seventy-two steps of the eight flights of stairs from the far corner of the sixth floor during those ninety seconds, especially because the “sniper’s nest” was on the opposite corner of the building from the stairs.
The vast majority of the available evidence indicates that Oswald was on the first or second floor during the entire time that the Kennedy motorcade passed by the Depository building. It wasn’t until 2002 that author Barry Ernest found Adams and was able to review the facts with her shortly before her death. The detailed account of Victoria Adams and Ernest’s thirty-five year quest to find her is a powerful story. I think it also has the advantage of being true.
The humanitarian weapon
It’s even less likely that anyone used the Mannlicher-Carcano later found near the sixth floor stairwell to fire at anything. This rifle is what Oswald supposedly used to kill JFK and wound Connally by firing three shots from behind the president’s car in the motorcade. It’s hard to imagine why Oswald would have used it – it was a mail order weapon ordered under the name of Oswald’s supposed chief of the New Orleans Fair Play for Cuba Committee, Alex Hidell. Of all the rifles in the world, what assassin would use a rifle that would maximize chances of getting caught?
This rifle was hardly an assassin’s choice – the Mannlicher-Carcano was a World War I relic best known as the “humanitarian weapon” during World War II because it never killed anybody on purpose - MCs could be purchased for three dollars each in lots of 25. On the day the rifle was found, the firing pin was found to be defective or worn-out, the telescopic sight was not accurately sighted, and no ammunition clip was officially reported. Without an ammunition clip, a gunman would have to hand-load cartridges. Firing three bullets in a few seconds would be impossible. Although the rifle was found near the sixth floor crime scene, I don’t think the rifle was used to shoot the President. I think it was used as a throw-down weapon with throw-down shells to frame the man called Oswald who worked on the sixth floor. Oswald always proclaimed his innocence. Why would he needlessly leave incriminating evidence at the crime scene?
The Dallas police investigators quickly came to a consensus that there were no more than three shots. Given the short time involved, four shots would indicate more than one shooter. Hoover wanted this to be a one shooter case, focusing on the shooter in custody. The question was how to show that three shots emanated from the sixth floor window. The evidence photos CE 510 and CE 716 do not show three shells on the sixth floor – they show two shells and one live round. The Dallas police inventory reflects this reality, listing “two spent 6.5 hulls” and “one live round”. The FBI report of the photographing of this evidence states the same, unreleased until many months after the Warren Report.
I think that whoever planted the evidence at the scene was hedging their bets as to whether the official story from this location was going to be “two shots” or “three shots”. The tableau was left in an ambiguous manner to leave room for the story to change if needed. Hedging his bets as well, homicide chief Will Fritz said he kept one of the shells to use for comparison checks to find out how where the shells were obtained. This makes no sense – the live round found at the scene would be the best way to conduct a comparison. The sheer audacity of titling these photos as “three cartridge cases” and “three shells” is stunning to this day. Whoever did it should have gone to prison.
Whoever fired the shots had to get away in moments. Assuming this was a professional operation, disguises may have been used. The enduring question for me was how did the elevators suddenly get stuck? The woman working at the credit desk reported that the electricity and the telephones in the Depository were temporarily interrupted as the motorcade drew near. One story is that “both elevators were stuck on upper floors” after the assassination. After hearing the shots, the stuck elevators were why building superintendent Roy Truly and police officer Marrion Baker had to run up the stairs ninety seconds after the shooting. Adams testified that was why she and Styles had to walk down the stairs, which they completed before Truly and Baker entered the stairwell.
I think that when Oswald heard that the President was shot, he realized that he had been set up. After Roy Truly waved off Officer Baker with assurances that Oswald was a Depository employee, Oswald realized what had happened and that he had to run. He first had to get his pistol at home. He simply wasn’t prepared for the tragedy that had just happened.
An unknown man provided “5 foot 10, 165 pounds” tip at JFK crime scene
The unknown white male's
"five foot ten/165"
description of the shooter was
announced five times by the
Dallas police dispatcher
Murray Jackson in the hour
after the assassination
Fourteen minutes after the shooting, a 12:44 pm radio call in Dallas gave a description of a man with a rifle on the 6th floor of the Texas Book Depository. This radio call was based on the report of an “unknown white man’s” report to police inspector Herbert Sawyer. “Slender white male about 30, five feet ten, 165”.[ 2 ] The dispatcher Murray Jackson relied on this description, providing it again at 12:47, 12:49, 12:55 and 1:08, offering it as “all we have” prior to the shooting of Tippit at 1:09 pm.
Ann Egerter and the FBI had used the phony Webster-like description of Oswald as “5 feet ten, 165” repeatedly to describe Oswald since his time in the USSR in 1960. This was no molehunt. This was a manhunt.
The specificity of the “5 feet ten, 165” tip cannot be squared with the impossibility of providing a height-and-weight ID of a sixth floor sniper located at a window and only visible from near-waist height. You’re only seeing a portion of his body. There is no way to tell how tall he is, much less how much he weighs. What you would notice would be his clothes – but the witness noticed nothing on that subject.
Also, there’s nothing “slender” about any man who is 5 foot 10 and 165. Such a man comes up with a body mass index (or “BMI”) of 23.7 – right in the middle of the American population. “Average” is BMI of between 23 and 26.
Oswald, however, was generally referred to as “slender” in his CIA and FBI records. His weight was generally between 126 and 140.
J. Edgar Hoover exhausted all leads before concluding that the 5'10"/165 description came from an “unidentified citizen” that approached Sawyer. No one ever convinced the FBI that the alleged witness Howard Brennan provided this tip. For whatever reason, Hoover was not willing to go along with the Warren Commission’s finding that credited Brennan as the tipster. The HSCA took the same approach as Hoover and did not rely on Brennan in any way. The powerful evidence that Brennan was not the “unidentified citizen” can be reviewed in the attached endnote.[ 3 ]
Sawyer was asked if he personally received the “5’10”/165” tip, and he said that he did. When Sawyer was asked to describe the tipster, he said, “I don’t remember what he was wearing. I remember that he was a white man and that he wasn’t young and he wasn’t old. He was there. That is the only two things that I can remember about him.”[ 4 ] On another occasion, he said the man was middle-aged.
The tip about the five-ten/165 pound man is even more remarkable when you realize that Sawyer reported the witness’ claim that the five-ten/165 pound man was “carrying what looked to be a 30-30, or some type of Winchester rifle”.[ 5 ] When asked if the shooter “was still supposed to be in the building”, Sawyer responded “unknown if he was there in the first place”.
The five-ten/165 tip made it from Sawyer to Hoover in minutes. Hoover circulated among his top officers a chronology of what he learned in the first couple of hours after the assassination. At 1:07 pm CST, Shanklin told Hoover that “he had just received word the President was shot with a Winchester rifle”.[ 6 ] Sawyer’s tip was the only news regarding a Winchester. No one to my knowledge ever remarked that the tip largely matched Oswald’s FBI description from 1960 until his arrest in August, 1963, when he was described as five foot nine/140. The absence of important evidence in the record - what Peter Dale Scott refers to as “the negative template” – is often the strongest evidence of all.
Something else to think about is that the CIA and the FBI both had computers in 1963. Within a very short period of time, a Soviet defector and Dallas resident such as Lee Harvey Oswald would have leaped right out from the CIA’s Records Integration Division. As we have seen, the “five-ten/165” Oswald description was embedded right in FBI agent John Fain’s May 12, 1960 memo that CIA officer Bill Bright went to great lengths to include in the CIA’s Records Integration Division files. (See Chapter 1)
I believe that Sawyer was telling the truth. He was told that a man was carrying a Winchester rifle, and that he was 5 foot 10, 165, about 30, with a slender build. It wouldn’t take long to find out which book depository employee fit that rough description.
I don’t believe the unknown witness was telling the truth. The unknown witness was part of an assassination team. He was nondescript: White, not too young, not too old, clothing unknown. I conclude that fifteen minutes after the assassination, Oswald was swept into this case by someone with access to the FBI reports or the CIA HQ description of Oswald as “five feet ten, 165”[ 7 ], and knew how to get it onto the police radio.[ 8 ]
Oswald probably played no role in the Tippit shooting
After Sawyer called in with the five-ten/165 description, police dispatcher Murray Jackson explained over the radio that Sawyer’s call was about a suspect in the President’s shooting that had been sighted at the Texas School Book Depository. Two officers immediately reported that they were either at the location or en route. For no understandable reason, Dispatcher Jackson then summoned patrolmen J. D. Tippit and R. C. Nelson and mysteriously asked them to “move into Central Oak Cliff area”. This is the neighborhood where Oswald lived. By this time, Oswald was heading for home.
Nine minutes later, Dispatcher Jackson informed Tippit at 12:54 that “you will be at large for any emergency that comes in” nearby “Lancaster and 8th” in the Oak Cliff neighborhood – placing him less than a mile from Oswald’s address at 1026 North Beckley and far away from the manhunt in downtown Dallas three miles away! Years later, Jackson made the improbable claim to CBS News that he “realized that, as you said, that we were draining the Oak Cliff area of available police officers, so if there was an emergency, such as an armed robbery or a major accident, to come up, we wouldn’t have anybody there…”[ 9 ]
The Warren Commission asked three officers if they could explain Tippit’s movements on November 22. Not only could none of them offer a reasonable explanation, but none of them even knew that the dispatcher ordered Tippit to go to the Oak Cliff neighborhood. The Warren Commission also asked police chief Jesse Curry about Jackson’s strange order to Tippit at 12:45 pm, with special concern because it was mysteriously omitted from the original transcription. As one wag put it, Curry suggested that Tippit had moved out of his assigned district to search for his own murderer.
In a multiple hearsay story that is worthy of consideration, Tippit’s father told author Joseph McBride that he learned from Tippit’s widow that an officer told her that Tippit and another officer had been assigned by the police to hunt down Oswald in Oak Cliff. The other officer was involved in an accident and never made it to the scene, but “J.D. made it”.[ 10 ] Tippit’s widow has never made a statement for the record. When you have a witness that has offered limited interviews but no sworn testimony, that’s when a hearsay account may provide the reason why the witness is reluctant to talk. Tippit’s story is backed by none other than Johnny Roselli’s associate John Martino – both of these men admitted their involvement in JFK’s murder. Martino said that Oswald “was to meet his contact at the Texas Theater” in his Oak Cliff neighborhood.[ 11 ]
What makes this all even more intriguing is that even by the time of Tippit’s death at about 1:09, Oswald has not yet been identified as an assassination suspect because the shells were not found until 1:12. Even after the rifle was found a little later, no one was able to tie the gun or shells to Oswald until early the next morning after visiting Klein’s Sporting Goods in Chicago, where “Alex Hidell” had mail-ordered the Mannlicher-Carcano found on the sixth floor. Nor was Oswald noticed as missing from the Depository until well into the afternoon.
By around 1 pm, Oswald had reached his home in Oak Cliff, changed his clothes, grabbed his revolver, and went back out the door. A police car beeped outside Oswald’s home shortly before he left. The distance from Oswald’s house to theater was about a mile – three minutes if he got a ride, at least fifteen minutes if he was on foot. It was roughly the same calculus if Oswald headed towards the Tippit crime scene.
I think it’s more likely that Oswald went straight to the Texas Theater, and was never at the Tippit crime scene. Butch Burroughs, a Texas Theater concessions employee for decades, told author Jim Marrs in 1987 that he sold Oswald popcorn right around 1:15 pm. Author Dale Myers challenged Burroughs, saying that he “told the Warren Commission that he didn’t see Oswald slip into the theater. He also didn’t mention selling popcorn to Oswald.” Myers missed the point. Ticket taker Julia Postal quoted Burroughs as saying “Well, I saw him coming out.”, presumably when Oswald bought the popcorn. Burroughs was never asked by the Warren Commission if he saw Oswald prior to the police hunt.
Burroughs didn’t have much to offer the Warren Commission - it would be good to find out how he was prepared before his questioning - although he did hear from the shoe store owner down the street that someone had slipped into the theater without paying. This “someone” may have done it precisely to draw attention to Oswald. Burroughs didn’t know who it was, but believed that anyone who did that had gone straight up the stairs to the balcony because otherwise he would have had the right angle to see who it was. Oswald was arrested on the ground floor. He told the Warren Commission, “I hope I helped you some”, and the response was merely, “Yes, I hope you did too.”
Burroughs also told Marrs that Julia Postal knew that she sold Oswald a ticket earlier that day, but didn’t want to admit it. She moved away from Dallas to escape questioning on the subject. When Ms. Postal was asked by researcher Jones Harris if she realized upon seeing Oswald’s face that she might have sold him a ticket, she burst out in tears.
Burroughs also saw someone who looked a lot like Oswald arrested about four minutes after he was. This Oswald look-alike was taken out through the rear of the theater, rather than the front. Bernard Haire, who ran his business Bernie’s Hobby House two doors away from the theater, thought he had seen Oswald taken away through the rear doors for more than twenty-five years. When he learned that he had seen someone else, he was absolutely stunned.
Burroughs’ story was corroborated by eighteen-year-old Jack Davis, never questioned by the Warren Commission, who remembered at 1:15 seeing Oswald squeeze in right next to him at the mostly deserted theater during the opening credits to the movie, then got up quickly and sat down next to someone else. Researcher Dale Myers states that the opening credits for the 1 pm movie ran at 1:20 pm.[ 12 ] The account from neighboring shoe store owner Johnny Brewer was that someone furtively entered the theater without paying at about 1:30 pm. That may have been when someone else entered, or it may have been Oswald after going outside to look for his contact. When Brewer saw the suspicious man enter the theater, he contacted the ticket-taker, and she called the police.
Davis stated that Oswald sat next to him and then another patron before going out to the lobby. According to author Lamar Waldron, Oswald was armed with half a box top saying “Cox’s, Fort Worth”. If Waldron is correct, Oswald was apparently trying to meet someone who had the other box top half.[ 13 ] Manuel Artime did this kind of thing – his practice was to meet AMWORLD officers with torn one dollar bills.
Tippit made an unsuccessful attempt to call the dispatcher at 1:08, right before he stopped his car to question a young man on foot. Domingo Benavides, a key witness, was driving his car when he saw Tippit step out of his police car and reach for his gun as he walked towards the front of the car. When the young man saw Tippit draw, he pulled out his gun from his coat pocket and fired several shots at Tippit. The time of the shooting is estimated at 1:09.[ 14 ]
Another witness, Jack Tatum, reported that the gunman then stepped forward and administered a coup de grace to Tippit’s head. The Tippit autopsy report reflected a shot to the head from point-blank range. The HSCA believed that a coup de grace indicated that “this action, which is often encountered in gangland murders…is more indicative of an execution than an act of defense intended to allow escape or prevent apprehension.” Oswald was hardly a professional hitman, and this evidence is extraordinarily important.
One unknown man described Tippit's shooter as "5 foot 10, 160-170 pounds"
Another unknown man told Officer Gerald
Hill at the Tippit crime scene that the man
who shot the policeman was a white male
about 5 foot 10 inches, weighing 160
to 170 pounds.
As soon as Officer Gerald Hill came on the scene, he was approached by an unknown witness. Hill said “the first man that came up to me, he said ‘The man who shot him was a white male about 5 foot 10 inches, weighing 160 to 170 pounds, had on a jacket and a pair of trousers, and brown bushy hair.” Hill never got the man’s name, turned him over to another officer, and no one knows his identity.
Patrolman Howell W. Summers called in a description from witness Ted Callaway of a “white male, twenty-seven, five feet eleven, a hundred sixty-five, black wavy hair, fair complected, wearing a light grey Eisenhower-type jacket, dark trousers and a white shirt…(with) a 32 dark-finish automatic pistol.” Oswald owned a 38 caliber revolver, not a 32 automatic.
Joseph McBride is the author of the new book Into the Nightmare, focusing on the Tippit case. A key aspect of the case is Detective Jim Leavelle’s admission that cartridge shells supposedly found at the crime scene were never actually marked on the scene by the Dallas police. McBride points out that “given that the HSCA relied solely on the shells to make its case that Oswald shot Tippit, Leavelle’s admissions that the shells were not marked at the scene help nullify that homicide case against Oswald.”[ 15 ]
One aspect of the Tippit case has fascinated me since it was revealed by FBI agent Jim Hosty in 1996. Hosty revealed that FBI agent Robert Barrett said that a wallet containing identification for Oswald and his purported alias Alek James Hidell was left at the scene of Tippit’s shooting and found by police captain W. R. Westbrook near a puddle of blood.
The rifle found on the sixth floor was ordered
by A. Hidell, with Oswald's post office box as
the return address. The Warren Commission
was told by postal inspector Harry Holmes
that anyone who had access to Oswald’s PO
box could have picked up the rifle without
even showing identification.
The two sets of identification for Oswald and Hidell being found in one wallet was particularly damaging to Oswald, as Oswald denied during the afternoon of November 22 that he was the owner of the rifle. It was worldwide news by 11/23/63 that the rifle that was left at the scene was purchased by mail order with a postal money order used by “A. Hidell” and listing Oswald’s PO Box as the place for pick-up. It did not make the news that this postal money order had no stamp indicating that it was ever used or ever deposited.[ 16 ] Nor did it make the news that postal inspector Harry Holmes admitted that anyone who had access to Oswald’s PO box could have picked up the rifle without even showing identification. Nor did it make the news that post offices were required by law to retain “delivery receipts for firearms” for four years, something not done in this case. A. J. Hidell was all over Oswald’s phony FPCC literature as the fictional chairman of his fictional New Orleans branch. Oswald and Hidell were now tied together by the rifle and the wallet.
A second unknown man said the suspect handed something to Tippit through the open passenger window
FBI agent Barrett claims to this day that an unknown witness told him that Tippit pulled over and the gunman handed something through the open passenger window to Tippit inside the car. Barrett believes that Tippit saw the two IDs for Oswald and Hidell, got out of the car to question Oswald, and was shot. Barrett admits that he doesn’t know who the witness was, and can’t verify it, but the wallet was “there”.
Who would hand their entire wallet to a police officer when asked for identification when not under arrest? Nor would any police officer make such a request – no officer wants to be responsible for its contents unless necessary. No one else recalls Barrett’s version about the wallet. Ted Callaway and other citizen witnesses responded to the scene and called in the shooting by using Tippit’s radio. None of the witnesses saw a wallet on the ground. Ted Callaway said “There was no billfold on the scene. If there was, there would have been too many people who would have seen it.” It looks like someone planted a wallet with Oswald’s identification on the ground at the scene, framing him with a throw-down wallet much as others have been framed with a throw-down gun.
A third unknown man handed Oswald's wallet to the police at the crime scene
An unknown man provided Oswald's
wallet to Officer Kenneth Croy at the
crime scene where Officer Tippit was shot.
The wallet contained ID for both Lee
Oswald and Alek J. Hidell. The finding of
this wallet was hidden until 1996.
I say that because since Hosty’s revelation in 1996, we have learned quite a bit more, thanks to researcher Jones Harris. When Sergeant Kenneth H. Croy arrived as one of the first officers on the scene, an unknown man handed him a wallet. Croy handed the wallet to Sergeant Calvin Owens.[ 17 ] Owens apparently gave it to Westbrook, who displayed it to Barrett. After the wallet was videotaped, it went back to Westbrook’s custody, and Hosty tells us that it was never seen again. Westbrook and Barrett were in charge of the scene at the Texas Theater when Oswald was arrested. When Oswald refused to provide his name, Westbrook ordered, “Get him out of here.”
The history of Oswald’s wallets can only be described with three words: Smoke and mirrors. Only after the release of the Warren Report did the FBI evidence inventory show three wallets for Oswald: B-1 (the arrest wallet), 114 (brown billfold) and 382 (red billfold). No wallets were found at his rooming house. No wallets are listed as recovered from the two searches of 11/22 and 11/23 at his wife’s residence. Two wallets were supposedly recovered at his wife’s home, but they are not listed in the search warrant affidavits and I can’t find any explanation for how they entered the official Dallas inventory.
The “arrest wallet” appeared on videotape at the Tippit crime scene; we have discussed how no one knows how it appeared on the scene. This arrest wallet of Oswald’s was supposedly removed from his pocket by Officer Paul Bentley following his arrest and while on the way to City Hall, Bentley said that he reviewed the contents and saw the identification for Oswald and Hidell. Since Bentley’s recent death, FBI agent Robert Barrett now says that Bentley was lying.
On November 2013, the fiftieth anniversary of the assassination, an ABC news story discussed the discovery of retired FBI analyst Farris Rookstool that the videotape footage of the wallet matched the Oswald wallet that was entered into evidence. The videotape portrays circular snaps, metal strips, and a zipper over the cash compartment, just like the wallet in evidence. Barrett, who is still alive, attacks Bentley’s identification for the first time in this November 2013 news story, saying: “They said they took the wallet out of his pocket in the car? That’s so much hogwash. That wallet was in (Captain) Westbrook’s hand.” Why did Barrett wait fifty years to accuse Bentley of lying and obstruction of justice? Probably because Bentley had been Dallas’ chief polygraph examiner during 1963, and it was dangerous for Barrett to challenge Bentley while he was still alive.
Bentley is the same officer who claimed that Oswald pulled his revolver out as they were trying to arrest him. Bentley also said that “I got ahold of his right arm, we got a thumb or something in between the firing pins that it mashed the firing, it just snapped slightly and kept it from going off…(the bullet) had been hit with the firing pin but not enough to go off.” An FBI firearms expert later told the Warren Commission that “we found nothing to indicate that this weapon’s firing pin had struck the primer of any of these cartridges.” While several cops were subduing their prisoner, Oswald continually shouted, “I am not resisting arrest! I am not resisting arrest!” The shoe salesman Johnny Brewer heard a policeman shout, “Kill the President, will you?” Oswald was lucky to survive that day. But he did. His survival illustrates how the whole assassination operation was in danger of falling apart. That was not part of the plan.
The ABC story concludes, “Rookstool says the testimony of Barrett and Croy, Tippit's billfold, and the WFAA film prove that Oswald's wallet was at the scene of the policeman's murder.”
I agree. The best evidence indicates that an unknown citizen brought the wallet to the murder scene, based on Officer Croy’s interview with Jones Harris.
Angleton and Hosty said the cover-up was designed to protect the Soviets
My original goal in writing this book was to write about the cover-up, and to see if I could resolve the issue of the Mexico City tapes that survived after the assassination. The tale of the tapes took over my approach to this book. The result was a different book than I anticipated. The cover-up is a longer story that I can only sketch here.
I will confine myself mostly to the first days after the assassination, which shaped the investigations that followed, as well as just a few of the high points thereafter. Like the assassination, the cover-up story is so big that it will take many authors to adequately cover the ground. In this section, I rely more frequently on the work of researchers who have more expertise in other areas of the JFK case than myself. With the release of the bulk of the files in the 1990s, our ability to conduct an adequate analysis of the assassination and cover-up has just begun. There was no all-encompassing way to address this evidence without these documents. Most of the documents that survive are finally in our hands.
It is admittedly difficult at this late date to identify all of the individual perpetrators of the assassination. Naming the probable entities and the individuals who have plausibly admitted a role may be the best we can do – and that’s a lot. But when it comes to the cover-up, it is not too late. If anything, it is the beginning. The evidence is available to anyone willing to read the documents. Dallas FBI agent Jim Hosty even revealed the cover-up in his book – however, his contention was that it was a benign cover-up by “President Johnson, the Warren Commission, the FBI, the CIA” that was conducted to avoid international tensions with the Soviet Union and Cuba, who he viewed as possible assassination co-perpetrators with Oswald.[ 18 ]
Cover-up architect Jim Angleton was motivated by the Mexico City situation, but would have little reason to quibble with Hosty's sentiments until 1967. That was the year that Angleton learned some information from a double agent that “tended to absolve the Soviets”. That was the same year that the KGB conducted a big study into the JFK assassination and concluded that it was a domestic operation. Angleton was shaken by this revelation, obtained from a double agent known only as “Byetkov”. Although he tried to dismiss it, he discussed it with the Church Committee during at least two depositions. In the ensuing years, Angleton had become so rabid in his search for moles within the CIA that he practically tore the Agency in two. He was forced to resign at the end of 1974.
There was a Gallup poll right after the assassination, asking Americans how many of them thought the Soviets, Cubans or Communists killed the President. Right during the height of the Cold War, only 1% of the population bought that story. See the adjoining Dallas Morning News article, 12/6/63.
Many chiefs simply didn’t want to reveal intelligence secrets – some didn’t want the Mexico City wiretap story to be made public.
Other CIA and FBI chiefs differed as to whether the assassination was perpetrated by foreign or domestic enemies, or whether Oswald acted alone. CIA chief John McCone believed there were two shooters in Dealey Plaza. Although Hoover publicly adopted the view that Oswald acted alone, he told his colleagues that he couldn’t forget the CIA’s “false story re Oswald’s trip in Mexico City”.
We do know that there was deep concern about revealing the above-described events in Mexico City, the NSA/CIA wiretap operations, the extent of the intelligence agencies’ prior knowledge of the re-defector Lee Harvey Oswald, the CIA’s assassination programs targeting Fidel Castro and other world leaders, and the strong possibility that John F. Kennedy was killed in a cross-fire. We also know that they were concerned that if any of these facts hit the newspapers, public reaction could lead to an invasion of Cuba and even a war with the Soviet Union.
My reading of the evidence indicates that there was a rough consensus among CIA and FBI higher-ups such as Helms and Hoover within hours of the Kennedy assassination to push for a lone gunman theory based on Oswald as the perpetrator. During the afternoon of the 22nd, we’ll review statements made by Hoover and the White House indicating that Oswald was the lone assassin, while the Dallas DA was convinced there was more than one shooter.
When Oswald died two days later, the world recoiled in horror at what appeared to be concerted action to shut Oswald’s mouth. In stark contrast, intelligence chiefs were united in shutting down any serious investigation and moving towards a preordained conclusion with Oswald as the lone gunman. I expected a more limited cover-up, but this is where the evidence has taken me.
The national security cover-up began within hours after the assassination, due to two major factors. One was that the Mexico City-driven blackmail of the CIA and the FBI caused the compromised officials within these agencies to move towards a solution that would limit any serious analysis of who killed Kennedy and why. The other was to avoid any public debate that would point towards Cuba as a sponsor of the assassination. Such turmoil could lead to a nuclear war with the Soviet Union, which was greatly feared by Lyndon Johnson, Earl Warren and other American leaders.
The Mexico City-driven blackmail specifically included the agencies’ fear of exposure of the Oswald impersonation, the possibility that enemy agents had penetrated the FBI’s field office, the ensuing molehunt and paper trail. More generally, intelligence chiefs wanted to avoid any public exposure of the Mexico City wiretap operations and the supporting roles of Staff D and the NSA. Lee Oswald was well-known to most of the major agencies investigating the assassination – CIA, FBI, Navy, State and INS – and every one of them needed protective cover regarding their role in monitoring Oswald, quite apart from whether they were using the Oswald file for their own devices.
The national security cover-up was driven by Helms and Hoover, determined to protect not only their individual agencies but their personal careers from oblivion. Unlike men like Earl Warren and many political leaders, I don’t believe that either Helms or Hoover were motivated by the fear of war.
Helms chose WH/3 chief Jack Whitten as the trailblazer through the worst of the dangers posed by the Mexico City blackmail. As we will see, after a month of letting Whitten take the heat, Helms was convinced it was necessary to pass the baton to Angleton.
Hoover disciplined Lambert Anderson, Marvin Gheesling, and sixteen other agents. His main frustration was that Anderson and Gheesling had removed the security flash on Oswald and that the other agents who had handled the Oswald file should have put the man on the security index. This sequence of events resulted in Oswald being “out of the spotlight” of the intelligence agencies, and particularly the Secret Service. If these FBI agents had not been playing fast and loose with the Oswald file, Hoover would not have been in such a tight spot.
How do you harmonize the shots, wounds, autopsy findings, and photos?
The JFK case has been marked by an inability to harmonize the descriptions of the shots, the wounds, the findings at the autopsy, and the photographic evidence. This has been because of a political need to control the autopsy and to ensure that the Zapruder film and other photographs were analyzed in a way that only reflected one gunman.
The government’s version of the story could not include more than three shots, in order to avoid providing proof of a second gunman. But it had to include three shots, once it was evident that one of the bullets was a complete miss. That left two bullets to do all that damage to the President.
FBI officers at the autopsy reported that the doctors found a back wound below the shoulders and on a 45-degree downward track from the inshoot at the back. That evidence was massaged by arguing that the President’s body was tilted, causing a shot from the rear to go into his back and then out his throat.
On the throat wound, attending surgeon Dr. Malcolm Perry at Parkland Hospital was quoted in the White House’s transcript of the 11/22 press conference that “there was an entrance wound in the neck” and that the bullet “appeared to be coming at him”. When asked to clarify, Dr. Perry said “the wound appeared to be an entrance wound in the front of the throat”. That same afternoon, Dr. Humes was told point-blank by a specialist that a finding of an entrance wound to the throat, given the other wounds, meant that there was more than one gunman. Nurse Audrey Bell reported Dr. Perry was very upset the morning of the 23rd, because the autopsy doctors “called from Bethesda two or three times in the middle of the night to try to get him to change the entrance wound in the throat to an exit wound”. Autopsy radiologist Dr. John Ebersole affirmed that there was communication between Dr. Humes and “Dallas” about the throat wound, with Humes concluding that it was an exit wound. The efforts to get Perry to change his story eventually succeeded, with Dr. Perry forced to tell the Warren Commission that he was quoted inaccurately. Perry did not know that the White House transcript of the Parkland 11/22 press conference existed.
The President’s fatal wounds were caused by at least two bullets to the head. The doctors who examined the President saw not only the large gaping exit wound to the back of the skull, but also a "small occipital wound" at the back of the skull, indicating a double hit from the front and the back. After many years of study, veteran investigator Josiah Thompson has concluded that the President suffered a glancing headshot to the right temple at frame 313, resulting in much of the front of his skull flying off. The President’s brain matter was blasted out as he was thrown back and to the left, covering the motorcycle officers and Secret Service officer Clint Hill with gory debris. Thompson then finds a headshot to the base of his skull at Zapruder frame 328, causing the President’s head to go forward at that point. This sequence of events would explain what looks like a big exit wound to what most doctors state was the right rear of his skull.
Autopsy photographer James Stringer was shown the National Archives photograph showing the President’s largely intact brain after the shooting, and concluded that this is not the photo that he had originally taken. The FBI agent at the scene affirmed that more than half of the brain was missing. These gruesome facts set forth some of the strongest evidence that there were at least two bullets fired towards the front of the motorcade.
Extra bullets are hidden in the record and must be teased out, mainly because inexperienced and easily intimidated doctors – Dr. James Humes and Dr. Thornton Boswell - were forced to conduct a controlled autopsy. Their colleague, Pierre Finck, reported that an Army general ordered them not to dissect the back wound. Autopsy witness Richard Lipsey said that the doctors told him that this bullet was a shallow wound, lodged in his back. Alan Belmont told Dallas FBI chief Gordon Shanklin on November 22 that a bullet was “lodged behind the President’s ear”. Chief of Surgery David Osborne said that when he removed the President’s coat an intact bullet rolled out from his clothing – but that intact bullet has now disappeared from the autopsy record. The only intact bullet in the record is the infamous “magic bullet” was supposed to have passed through both President Kennedy and Governor Connally, causing several wounds while remaining as good as new. Autopsy doctor Pierre Finck rejected the magic bullet theory because there were “too many fragments” remaining in Connally’s wrist. Autopsy doctor Humes also disagreed with the single bullet theory. Two good-sized bullet fragments were found in the limousine. At least one bullet was found in Dealey Plaza and was recorded by the FBI, but never placed in the record.
The analysis of the Zapruder film was guided by the creation of two sets of briefing boards - one set was created on Saturday night the 23rd, and a second set was created on Sunday the 24th. The first set of briefing boards has never been seen in public, but the reports of those involved are that they revealed more than one shooter. It looks like Director McCone may have come to the two-shooter conclusion as early as that Sunday morning.[ 19 ] The second set of briefing boards - consisting of four panels that offer a theory that depicts three shots - provided the assurance of only one shooter, but I don’t think McCone was ever convinced.
Why did Helms decide to have Jack Whitten conduct the investigation?
Even though CIA director John McCone believed there were two gunmen, the man who was making the decisions about how the assassination would be investigated was his subordinate in charge of covert actions, deputy director Richard Helms. I believe that Helms knew about the problems in Mexico City and with the story of Lee Oswald. Helms decided to put Jack Whitten in charge of the investigation. As Whitten was the chief of WH/3 - the Western Hemisphere division covering Mexico and neighboring countries – he was a logical choice.
Helms asked Whitten to focus on the events in Mexico City, believing that he could manipulate him to stay out of the troublesome areas of that story. Whitten knew the backstory about the probe of Azcue and Kostikov in the fall of 1963, and would be motivated to keep the wiretap operations secret and free of investigation. Whitten had personally signed off on the 10/10 memos without realizing their underlying significance, which was a very important plus.
The goal was to avoid investigation of the other three circles of intrigue in Mexico City that Whitten knew nothing about: The Tilton-Anderson anti-FPCC operation, the molehunt that was embedded within those very 10/10 memos, and the impersonation of Oswald himself by parties unknown. I think that Helms believed that if Whitten remained ignorant of those three events, he would be an effective advocate of the official story.
Seven key points that I will review in this chapter
1. By 3 pm CST on the 22nd, Hoover called Bobby Kennedy and told him “I thought we had the man who killed the President down in Dallas.” During that afternoon, the White House Situation Room sent messages stating that there was no conspiracy. In the ensuing hours and days before the evidence was obtained and analyzed, the heads of the investigative agencies attacked any notion that there was multiple shooters.
2. During the afternoon of the 23rd, Goodpasture reported to Headquarters that the September 28 tape was destroyed before the October 1 tape was made, even though the policy was to hold on to tapes for at least two weeks.
3. By 6 pm on the 22nd, the Dallas District Attorney Henry Wade had stated publicly that he thought there was more than one person involved in the assassination. Johnson’s aide Cliff Carter called the District Attorney and told him not to charge Oswald with conspiracy. By the evening of the 22nd, FBI headquarters had convinced the Dallas police to send much of the evidence to FBI headquarters in Washington. Even prior to Oswald’s death, it traveled from Dallas to Washington in a paper-deficient manner that showed no concern about breaking the chain of custody in any subsequent trial and making a conviction of Oswald impossible.
4. During the morning of November 23, Hoover told LBJ that the Dallas FBI agents who listened to the tapes reported that it was not Oswald’s voice, and that the evidence indicated that there were two Oswalds in Mexico City. As we have seen, Hoover signed a memo in May 1960 stating that Oswald may have been impersonated. It’s a pretty sure thing that Hoover did not want his suspicions about Oswald being impersonated in 1960 or 1963 released to the American people. It meant that Hoover would have faced a forced retirement, at the very least.
5. After the CIA announced on the afternoon of November 23 that a mistake had been made and that the tapes were no longer in existence, a memo from Hoover was personally delivered to the Secret Service on November 24 stating, once again, that the tapes were still in existence and that the Dallas FBI agents who listened to the tapes said that it was not Oswald’s voice. This memo also said that Oswald acted alone. On April 9, 1964, these tapes were played by Mexico City officers for Warren Commission staffers David Slawson and William Coleman, who did not realize that there was any question about whether the voice they were listening to was Oswald’s. These tapes are presently missing, and may have been destroyed.
6. Hoover’s number three man Alan Belmont had a long investigative to-do list on November 23. In the moments after Oswald’s death on November 24, as the world recoiled in shock and fear of a broader plot, Belmont calmly reported to Hoover that the Oswald case was now closed. Assistant Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach echoed the same theme on November 25, and mused on how to convince the American public that Oswald was the sole assassin. On November 26, Belmont assured Hoover that all that was left to do was to “settle the dust”.
7. On November 23, Helms named Jack Whitten as the CIA’s lead investigator into the JFK assassination, with the focus on Mexico City. A month later, after it became clear that Whitten was heading in some dangerous directions, Helms asked Whitten to step down and named James Angleton as his replacement. Angleton immediately made the main focus of his investigation the possibility that Oswald was acting in complicity with the Soviet Union. Goodpasture referred to the “investigation”, using quotation marks.
November 22: The Immediate Reflex Was to Cover-Up
At Parkland Hospital, the Secret Service’s first response was to wash blood and brain debris off the presidential limousine
Shortly after the presidential limousine pulled into Parkland Hospital, a bucket of water was used by a Secret Service man to wash blood and brain debris from the vehicle. I am not forgiving about this. There is nothing innocent about this kind of act. This went against every single aspect of their professional training. The mandate is to focus on protecting the integrity of the crime scene. The moment the crime scene gets compromised is the moment when you know something is going terribly wrong. It gets worse.
Before the convertible top was put back up and the limousine was driven away, people reported seeing holes emanating right through the front of the windshield and elsewhere that did not match up with the holes that were documented on the following day. The limousine was then loaded on a cargo plane and taken to Washington before the Dallas police evidence unit was able to conduct an inspection. The limousine was then driven from Andrews AFB to the White House Garage, causing its contents to shift and thus causing further damage to the integrity of the crime scene. Only by 1 am on November 23 did an FBI evidence team arrive, nor was any diagramming of the evidentiary items begin prior to this time. We will never know the true status of the evidence offered by the limousine.[ 20 ]
In Langley, CI/SIG chief O’Neal’s immediate response was to hedge
During the afternoon of the assassination, the first thing that CI-SIG chief Birch O’Neal did was to lie to the FBI’s counterintelligence man in Washington, Courtland Jones. O’Neal was Ann Egerter’s boss. O’Neal had to know about the lead role Egerter played in preparing the twin 10/10/63 memos. When Jones asked O’Neal what was in the file, O’Neal responded that “there is nothing in CIA file regarding Oswald other than material furnished to CIA by the FBI and the Department of State.”[ 21 ]
As discussed in Chapter 5, Oswald’s biographical 201 file had been stripped of all references to the pro-Cuban Fair Play for Cuba Committee (FPCC), as well as other FBI memos that were dated after May 1962. Those memos were tucked away inside the FPCC file – what John Newman calls “the smoking file” – the file that had the good stuff about Oswald and Cuba. Anyone who read Oswald’s stripped 201 file would not know about Oswald’s pro-Castro background, or that he had even returned to the United States.
Once Oswald was captured, Whitten said that the “effect was electric” on the top CIA officials in Langley – many of them knew who Oswald was. O’Neal’s immediate instinct was to hide from the FBI any personal knowledge of the CIA’s memos about Mexico City and the transcripts and tapes of Oswald’s adventures during that time. O’Neal also had to be thinking about the routing sheets for documents that showed how the CIA had monitored Oswald throughout his time with the Soviets, during his time with the right-wing White Russians and the left-wing Paines in Texas, as well as the Fair Play for Cuba Committee and the Cuban exiles in New Orleans.
Since the FBI had received CIA memos from Mexico City, O’Neal must have quickly realized that this effort was futile. O’Neal adopted a new line: “I recognized that it was our responsibility to give the fullest cooperation to the FBI and to protect the Agency with regard to any aspects of our operations…”[ 22 ] Nonetheless, once he learned about the shooting, O’Neal knew that a plan had to be made about how to deal with the Mexico City evidence. As the head of CI/SIG and Egerter’s immediate superior, O’Neal should have known about the molehunt.
Hoover immediately wanted to declare Oswald as the lone assassin
At 6 pm on 11/22/63, Dallas District
Attorney Henry Wade was telling the
world: "Preliminary reports indicated
more than one person was involved
in the shooting. The electric chair
is too good for the killers."
Hoover made it clear to Bobby Kennedy by 3 pm CST that he believed the Dallas police had captured “the man who had killed the President”. This was in stark variance to what Dallas, District Attorney Henry Wade was telling the world at 6 pm: "Preliminary reports indicated more than one person was involved in the shooting. The electric chair is too good for the killers.” LBJ’s aide Cliff Carter got on the horn and made sure that the D.A. did not charge Oswald with conspiracy.The Johnson team had been nervous about a military attack all day, and did not want to give any signals that could lead towards a conflict with the Soviet Union.
Hoover knew that the Bureau was compromised dealing with Oswald as the assassin, and that the enormous blowback might spell the end to the FBI’s future. We have seen the record that revealed show Hoover’s fears that Oswald might have been impersonated while he was a Soviet defector back in 1960. Hoover probably knew that the Mexico City wiretaps had picked up Oswald, and he certainly knew the national security implications of having to reveal the existence of the wiretaps. The Mexico City field office admitted on 11/22 that their month-long effort asking informants to figure out how Oswald had got in and out of Mexico had failed. Hoover knew that he had to closely manage the Oswald case as a matter of political survival.
Hoover’s response was to demand that the Dallas police turn over their evidence to him. Dallas officer J. C. Day delivered the two hulls to the FBI by 2:15 pm CST on November 22, even though Hoover admitted that he had no jurisdiction over the case until after Johnson landed in Washington about 5:00 pm CST. Dallas police chief Jesse Curry told the Warren Commission that due to FBI insistence, on “Friday night we agreed to let the FBI have all the evidence and they said they would bring it to their laboratory and they would have an agent stand by and when they were finished with it to return it to us.” Curry was upset about the chain of custody problems.[ 23 ] Dallas FBI chief remembered the intensity of the effort to get the evidence to Washington DC by Saturday morning.
The only inventory for 11/22/63 that I can find contains the rifle, the pistol, bullet fragment, shell casings, a blanket, Oswald’s shirt, prints, and paper and tape samples. An evaluation of the above evidence was sent from the FBI Laboratory to the Dallas police chief the next day. A few other items came in separately during the first 24 hours, but not many. I can’t find an inventory for the “four or five hundred” other evidence items that the FBI evidence technicians received during the initial twenty-four hours – the lack of an inventory would break the legal chain of custody for all of these items.[ 24 ] How was the Dallas district attorney going to get a conviction against Oswald, who was still alive at this point?
The evidence technician James Cadigan affirmed that it was “many, many items…a very large quantity of evidence that was brought in.” Cadigan also testified that “time was of the essence and this material, I believe, was returned to the Dallas police within two or three days.” Someone drew lines through the original transcript of Cadigan’s deposition and wrote “delete”.[ 25 ] This portion was excised from the official transcript, in an ultimately-futile effort to hide this original transport of evidence during the evening of November 22. The public was informed by the media that Tuesday the 26th marked the beginning of the transfer of evidence to Washington.[ 26 ] As journalist Jim Marrs put it, rather indelicately, “Wouldn’t any criminal be delighted if he could have complete, secret, and unsupervised control over all the evidence in his case for two full days?”
In Mexico City, Win Scott’s immediate response was to hedge
During that fateful afternoon, Mexico City chief Win Scott wrote a memo saying that he would “forward soonest copies of only visitor to Soviet Embassy 28 Oct who could be identical with Oswald.”[ 27 ] Trained as a mathematician, Scott prided himself on being exact in all matters of substance. Why did Scott blend the two dates of the Oswald calls of September 28 and October 1 into “October 28” at a critical moment like this? Like O’Neal and Dallas homicide chief Will Fritz, Scott was hedging his bets while feigning ignorance about Oswald. Like O’Neal and Fritz, Scott was buying time to figure out what his story about Oswald was going to be. A CIA analysis states that “the Agency and its field stations, particularly Mexico City and Miami, were not unmindful of the possibility that Oswald did not act alone.”[ 28 ] While Mexico City was on the move, there were no sudden moves in Miami.
During the evening of November 22, the Mexico City station sent the Mystery Man photos and a wiretap transcript to the Dallas FBI and to CIA HQ
In the moments after the assassination, Mexico City chief of station Win Scott asked Ann Goodpasture for the station’s information on Oswald, as she understood the tape and phone set-up better than anyone.[ 29 ] For many years, Goodpasture went to great lengths to deny that she gave a tape of the man who called himself Oswald to Scott, even at deposition.
Goodpasture finally admitted in 1995 that she gave Scott a duplicate tape of the Oct 1 conversation, the last of the Oswald phone calls.[ 30 ] She claimed that the master tapes were erased. "I don't know what happened to the tape after I brought it in. I think I...gave it to the (deleted)". I surmise that the nine-letter deletion says “FBI legat”, which would mean that she gave the tape to the FBI legal attaché Clark Anderson. What we don’t know is when she gave it to him. We also don’t know if the tape made it onto the airplane to Dallas.
We know the Mystery Man photos and a wiretap transcript made it on the plane. Before any discussion about the transcript, take a look at how the photos were handled.
We know Goodpasture provided Scott with photos of the Mystery Man, who gave them to the legat Clark Anderson. CIA HQ sent a message at 7:36 pm CDT and asked for the photos to be sent on the next available flight. Anderson called Alan Belmont and told him that the photos were coming by airplane to Dallas with his aide Eldon Rudd. This raised two problems for Goodpasture.
The first problem was that Goodpasture had led everyone to believe that the Mystery Man was Oswald, as seen in the October 8 memo to CIA HQ. I am convinced that Goodpasture originally chose the Mystery Man as fodder for the October molehunt, not to convince anyone that the Mystery Man was Oswald. The Mystery Man’s description was useful for the molehunt. Like Oswald, the Mystery Man looked like an American. The Mystery Man was also similar to the “5 foot 10, 165, 35 years old” Webster-like description that the CIA had been using for Oswald since 1960. Now she was stuck with this story.
The second problem was that Goodpasture had also led everyone to believe that the Mystery Man photos were taken on October 1 at the Soviet embassy, when they were actually taken on October 2.[ 31 ] Since she also had available photos of the man taken on the 4th at the Soviet embassy and the 15th at the Cuban embassy, Goodpasture tried to obscure this second problem by giving Scott photos of the Mystery Man on all of these dates.
The evidence indicates that at the request of Ambassador Thomas Mann, Win Scott sent the Mystery Man photos of “October 1” and October 4 during the evening of November 22 with the naval attache and the FBI legat’s aide Eldon Rudd for the FBI to review. Did either Rudd or the naval attache carry the tape? Rudd denies it, but I see no record about whether the naval attache who was flying the plane might have had it. That would have been good compartmentalization. Rudd had no need to know.
Scott needed to get the bad news about the Mystery Man out of the way
Scott needed to send the Mystery Man photos to Washington, DC and get them out of the way. Given the Mystery Man description of Oswald that Goodpasture provided to Whitten’s office back in October, it was time to get the bad news out there.[ 32 ] I do not think that Whitten knew about the molehunt, even if his subordinate Bustos did.
By the time the plane left off Mexico City, photos and TV footage of Oswald had been disseminated throughout the world. Any reasonable station officer would have realized that the Mystery Man was not Oswald. Like Goodpasture, I believe that Scott knew that the Mystery Man was not Oswald back in October. Oswald was arrested shortly before 2 pm CST, and his picture was all over the television in the USA by 4 pm CST. Mexico City and Dallas were in the same time zone. Before Scott sent the Mystery Man photos to the USA, all he had to do was pick up a telephone and ask someone to describe what Oswald looked like. Mexico City admitted seeing Oswald on TV the night of 11/22 and “obvious photos sent to Dallas were not iden with Lee Oswald held Dallas”.[ 33 ]
Eldon Rudd left with Scott’s package at 10:00 pm CST, with the naval attache flying the plane.[ 34 ] Probably for reasons of security, the photos were mailed to WH chief J. C. King from Dallas – there was no hurry, an accompanying memo showed Scott telling King the photos were of “a certain person who is known to you”. Whitten sent a post at midnight CST saying to send a staffer with all photos Oswald to HQ on next available flight and to call him upon arrival.[ 35 ]
This was immediately countermanded in the next post sent moments later by “PWO”, saying “No need send staffer with photos. We have asked Navy for photos again, but Mexi can see Oswald’s picture sooner on the press wire.”[ 36 ] But it was too late to stop the delivery of the Mystery Man photos to the USA. The photos were already enroute. This version of Bustos’ 10/10 memo reveals that PWO is Bustos. I assume that Bustos was simply following Whitten’s orders. Dallas FBI chief Shanklin’s colleague Kyle Clark then sent on the photos to Hoover’s office during the early hours of the 23rd, saying the photos were of the individual “known as Lee Oswald as obtained from confidential source”
In any case, the best thing for Scott was to get the Mystery Man photos that he had supposedly relied on in October to all of his bosses at CIA HQ right away. The pictures of Lee Harvey Oswald were all over the world by 4 pm Central Standard Time. As we will see, deputy chief Alan White (pseudonym Robert Easby) carried out his boss’ dogged mission all the way.
Was the tape flown to Dallas, or did someone phone it in?
FBI agent Wallace Heitman was the Spanish-speaking agent in Dallas and was close with counterintelligence chief Bill Branigan. Heitman wrote a report about how Eldon Rudd picked up the package and proceeded to Dallas in the naval attache’s plane. Look how everyone mentions the transcript but Heitman: Heitman’s memo mentions the photos, but no transcript. Rudd’s memo mentions photos and a transcript.[ 37 ] Heitman’s partner Bob Odum reported that Heitman handed Rudd a transcript as well as photographic material.[ 38 ] The legat Clark Anderson wrote that Rudd delivered transcripts as well as photos.[ 39 ] Dallas FBI chief Gordon Shanklin said that Mexico City legal attaché Clark Anderson gave Rudd a transcript to bring. People have wondered if Anderson also gave Rudd or the naval attache a tape, or if a tape was played for the FBI agents in Dallas.[ 40 ]
This is worthy of discussion. As raised earlier, there’s a good possibility that Anderson gave the tape to the naval attache, which would have compartmentalized the operation away from Rudd. Rudd had no need to know about the tape. It’s worth noting that when Rudd was subpoenaed by the HSCA for close questioning on this point, he refused to testify. Rudd was protected from any contempt charge – as a Congressman, he had immunity from prosecution.
Another indication that the tapes may have been on the plane to Dallas can be found in a memo written by Bureau supervisor Burt Turner to the legal attaché Clark Anderson in Mexico: “If tapes covering any contact subject [Oswald] with Soviet or Cuban embassies available forward to Bureau for laboratory examination. Include tapes previous reviewed Dallas if they were returned to you.”[ 41 ]
Burt Turner was considered one of the very best FBI agents of that time. When Hoover tried to demote Turner, Turner successfully faced Hoover down. How often did that happen? Turner’s memo indicates that Heitman sent “tapes” as well as photos with Rudd to Dallas. In any swearing contest between Turner and Heitman, Turner would win. No contest.
November 23: How the Tapes Became a State Secret
November 23 was the day that the tapes became a state secret. Scott had decided to take a secretive approach with the tapes that supposedly contained Oswald’s voice. Keep in mind that transcriber Boris Tarasoff and others had discussed the importance about any call made by an American to an “enemy” embassy, and that Scott had a separate file set aside for all Americans who visited representatives of a Soviet bloc embassy. (See Chapter 5) Such a tape was not likely to be erased.
The plane arrived at Love Field in Dallas at 2:47 AM CST on the morning of the 23rd. Dallas FBI chief Shanklin mused in his report that Hoover’s right-hand man Alan Belmont had told him that “we have on file practically all the information on Oswald down there in Mexico City except the fact that CIA had secured some information that this individual very probably called from the Cuban Embassy to the Russian Embassy.”[ 42 ] An October 16 memo to the FBI had tipped off the Bureau that Oswald had personally met with Kostikov on September 28, but did not mention the phone call later that day. The call on the 28th was the hot topic of concern that terrible night, with the CIA unwilling to firmly commit that the caller was Oswald.
Goodpasture testified in 1995 that she recalled a reference that Rudd hand carried the tape dub to Laredo. If this is true, it would mean that the tapes were literally taken by Rudd from Dallas and down to the Mexican border. My belief is that the most likely scenario is that the tapes were played on the phone in Laredo. Peter Dale Scott, an ex-diplomat, has suggested that such a ploy would enable officers to state under penalty of perjury that no such tapes were played for them “in the United States”.
The importance of the sending of the tapes to the FBI cannot be overemphasized, for two reasons.
First, by sending the tapes, Scott was sending the most powerful evidence about Oswald. As we will see, this evidence was covered up almost immediately and denied under oath for many years.
Secondly, the following officers swore under penalty of perjury that the tapes did not exist by the time of the assassination: David Phillips (twice), Ann Goodpasture, Robert Shaw, and Deputy Chief of Station Alan P. White.[ 43 ] We know that Goodpasture lied; she was not just mistaken. Goodpasture said that it was her understanding that Rudd was given a tape to take to Texas and that Scott had a copy “squirreled away in his safe”.[ 44 ] Assuming that Phillips was in on the molehunt, then he lied as well. White’s credibility in this affair is low - Warren Commission staffers David Slawson and William Coleman admitted in a 2003 interview that White was the one who actually played the Oswald tape for them in Mexico City during April 1964.[ 45 ] Slawson had promised the CIA during the Warren Commission investigation that the report would say nothing about the wiretaps, before Slawson and Coleman admitted the existence of the tapes to researchers Tony Summers, Peter Dale Scott, and finally the Assassinations Records Review Board in the early 90s. Goodpasture then changed her testimony from “denial” in 1978 to “admission” in 1995.[ 46 ]
John Whitten is the only CIA official I know of who admitted under oath that the tapes existed at the time of the assassination before Goodpasture finally admitted the truth in 1995.[ 47 ] Whitten wrote in the days after the assassination that "the actual tapes were also reviewed" and a copy of the Oct 1 "intercept on Lee Oswald" was discovered after the assassination.
At 9:15 am EST, Gordon Shanklin (left)
told Alan Belmont (right) that Oswald was
impersonated on the September 28 call.
The Church Committee staff refused to accept the FBI’s assurances that the tapes had been destroyed. What the staff missed, unfortunately, was a report from Alan Belmont. (Since the action largely shifted from Dallas to Langley, events will be described using Eastern Standard Time.) At 9:15 am EST, Shanklin told Belmont that Oswald was impersonated on the September 28 call.
Angleton himself had the highest praise for Belmont’s acumen. "In the old days, Oswald's return to the US after his redefection would have been the highest priority for the counter-intelligence community. However, when Al Belmont left the bureau, its CI (internal security) operations fell apart."[ 49 ]
At 10 am EST, Hoover and LBJ discussed
how the Mystery Man photo and the tape
did not match with Oswald’s appearance
or his voice – and how there may have
been two people in Mexico City that
day. Incredibly, this presidential phone
call has been erased.
Because the existence of the Mexico City tapes was treated as a dark national security secret, the HSCA reported the stories of these tapes in a deceptive manner, saying in their reports that no "recording of Oswald's voice" was ever "received" or "listened to" in the United States.[ 50 ] Peter Dale Scott suggests that “this language is a lawyer's subterfuge: what was received and listened to was precisely not a recording of Oswald's voice.”[ 51 ]
At 10 am EST, Hoover and LBJ discussed how the Mystery Man photo and the tape did not match with Oswald’s appearance or his voice – and how there may have been two people in Mexico City that day. Hoover also admits in private the opposite of what he has said in public: “The evidence against Oswald is not very very strong.” The entire tape of this approximately fourteen minute conversation has been mysteriously erased, while the transcript somehow survived.
After this critically important Hoover-LBJ call, things happen very quickly
At 11:45 am, someone at CIA contacted FBI liaison Sam Papich and told him about the impersonation of Eldon Hensen in Mexico City back in July.
Belmont told Tolson that he called Shanklin at 11:50 am EST. This was at least their second conversation that morning about the agents and the tape. Years later, the Church Committee was fascinated by Belmont’s story:
"Inasmuch as the Dallas agents who listened to the tape of the conversation allegedly of Oswald from the Cuban Embassy to the Russian Embassy in Mexico and examined the photographs of the visitor to the Embassy in Mexico and were of the opinion that neither the tape or the photograph pertained to Oswald, I requested Shanklin to immediately send a photograph of Oswald to our Legal Attache. This will be done by Agent Rudd who is returning to Mexico City by air. CIA in Mexico should check the photograph of Oswald against visitors to the Soviet and Cuban embassies to see if they can identify him."
Right after talking to Tolson about Shanklin, Belmont got on the phone with Shanklin’s deputy Kyle Clark at 12 am EST. Belmont asked Dallas deputy chief Clark about the Hidell name, and whether one or two people had Hidell identification. Belmont asked Clark to explore all angles of the Hidell story, as well as any embassy visits by people who may be identical with Hidell in Mexico City. A big to-do list was created after this call.
Goodpasture, O’Neal and Helms suggest a change in the narrative
While Belmont was talking with the Dallas FBI office, Anne Goodpasture made an incredible statement in a memo at 11:59 am: “In view Oswald in Sov Union and fact he claimed on 1 Oct LIENVOY to have visited Sov Emb 28 Sep, Subject…probably Oswald. Station unable compare voice as first tape erased prior receipt of second call.”
Those calls were made three days apart. The protocol was to destroy no tapes for at least two weeks, and 30 days for tapes on Cuba. According to Tarasoff’s testimony, he would have just returned the tape on or about September 30.
It is obvious that Goodpasture was covering up, especially as we see that the Belmont-Shanklin conversation refers to unnamed FBI agents listening to the September 28 conversation. Goodpasture’s testimony in 1995 refers to the October 1 conversation. Perhaps the duplicate of the tapes that the FBI agents listened to contained both conversations.[ 52 ]
At 12:10 pm, CI-SIG Birch O'Neal asks Mexico City “are original tapes available?” Author Rex Bradford asks: “(C)an this cable have been anything other than a big hint that a new story about the tapes’ existence (or lack thereof) was desired?”
At about the same time, Goodpasture put out a big story. She said that "Douglas J. Feinglass (note: Boris Tarasoff’s pseudonym) who did transcriptions says Oswald is identical to the person para one speaking broken Russian who called from Cuban embassy September 28 to Soviet embassy".[ 53 ]
This Tarasoff memo was passed on the same day from Helms to FBI liaison Sam Papich. Helms emphasized that voice comparisons were made and that the call on the 28th matched the call on the 1st. A plan seems to be taking shape. Tarasoff is never sought out for an interview. Instead, Tarasoff and his wife are hidden away from the investigators and treated as non-entities. Even five years later, when Goodpasture wrote a history of the JFK case, she referred to Tarasoff merely as "Transcriber” and said nothing about Oswald’s supposed “terrible Russian”.[ 54 ]
While Helms, O’Neal and Goodpasture were going through these machinations, Belmont was still ostensibly in the thick of his investigation. At 12:40 EST, Belmont called the legal attache Clark Anderson to let him know that Oswald's photo is being sent back with Rudd. We have some good stories (see Chapter 5), but no photos of Oswald in Mexico City have surfaced to this day.
During this day, Shanklin and Belmont have been the two men at the center of the investigative activities. During the afternoon, we see Shanklin offering a new tune. At about 3:30 pm EST (2030 Zulu), Shanklin tells Hoover "the actual tape from which this transcript was made has been destroyed". Ed Lopez and Dan Hardaway wrote a good memo about this change in the story.
I don’t believe the change in the story. With the assistance of his aide Fletcher Thompson, Hoover then wrote a memo to the President, and another to the Secret Service chief Rowley, with both memos saying that FBI agents reviewed the tape and concluded that the voice was not Oswald’s. The Secret Service’s letter was hand-delivered on the morning of the 24th, indicating that the Secret Service and LBJ got the correct story while everyone else got the cover story.[ 55 ]
The attacks on Sylvia Duran
After Scott saw the photos of Oswald on TV the night of the assassination, he informed CIA HQ of his suggestion to Gustavo Ortiz (also known as LITEMPO-2, who would become President of Mexico in 1964) that Duran be arrested. Based on the Duran-Oswald phone call on September 28 from the Cuban consulate, Scott wanted Duran held incommunicado until she provided everything she knew about Oswald. Scott added that “LITEMPO-2 can say DFS coverage revealed call to him if he needs to explain.”[ 56 ] This is another indicator that DFS had its own set of tapes and transcripts from the Mexico City station, and was not forced to rely on CIA largesse. These tapes may still exist today.
Duran was taken into custody by the Mexican police on November 23, and released the next morning. The Mexicans told Scott that they would pretend that the decision to arrest Duran came from “Mexican initiative” rather than from Scott.[ 57 ]
The official record of Duran’s interview is missing. We have a third-hand version, summarized and translated into English.[ 58 ] We also have reports from “R. L. Easby”, the pseudonym for deputy chief Alan White. The initial report from Easby states that “Echevierra told COS Duran was completely cooperative.” In fact, Duran was abused. This statement indicates that “Easby” may have inspired David Phillips; as we will see, Phillips falsely described the double agent Gilberto Alvarado as “completely cooperative” a couple of days later.[ 59 ]
From a conversation she had with Ed Lopez, we know that she said that her interrogators mistreated her during this interview and a second one days later.[ 60 ] The ambassador urged them to “go all out” while questioning her. Duran was interrogated by Fernando Gutierrez Barrios, the same DFS officer who threatened to hang Alvarado by his balls a few days later.[ 61 ] Duran told Joaquin Armas that she was shoved around and her arms had black and blue marks. Significantly, she was asked if she had intimate relations with Oswald. The initial report of her interrogation alludes to this, stating that Duran gave Oswald “on a piece of paper, her name Silvia Duran with the office telephone number but that Oswald was not given her address since he had no reason to have it.”[ 62 ] Historian Gerald McKnight states that “the line of questioning originated with COS Win Scott. The CIA was trying to force Duran to confess to entrapping Oswald, luring him with sexual favors into a Cuban conspiracy to kill JFK.”[ 63 ] That would have created the basis for an invasion of Cuba.
There is a mysterious unsigned memo in the files, extremely well written, with details few would know, and with a Spanish phrase sprinkled in it. The writer refers to the Marines as the “Infanteria de la Marina”. Win Scott wrote “read to President the night of 11/25/63”. This was the President of Mexico and not Lyndon B. Johnson.
It is designed to spread blame on the Cubans and Soviets, and Silvia Duran in particular. Oswald is described in the very first paragraph as 5’ 10”, 165, with blue-grey eyes. The memo then says that Oswald met with Duran at the embassy on September 28, and falsely states that “no details of conversations Oswald had inside the Cuban embassy are available.” We have Scott repeating a flat-out lie to the President of Mexico – as seen in Chapter 5, the wiretaps of September 27 are filled with details of what Oswald told Duran. The typeface in an adjoining document reveals it was written by the same person who ran the soon-to-be-reviewed Alvarado scam to push the story of a known informant on the Communists.
Who was that person? The “adjoining document” about Alvarado reveals the author to be A. C. Plambeck with the State Department’s Office of Security. I assume that Plambeck used the same typewriter in writing both the Alvarado memo and the author of the “5 foot ten/165” memo described above. Plambeck was with Eldridge Snight, a security officer for the State Department but identified by Win Scott as an “officer of this Section”. Snight was almost certainly Cuba desk officer Bob Shaw using his self-admitted State Department cover. The memo says that Oswald embraced a woman from “Calle Juarez 407”. That is the address for Luisa Calderon, who the station had been surveilling for months.
I believe Calderon was being used here as “embroidery” for the story because Cuban intelligence was questioning her loyalty based on an alleged affair with an American named Oscar Cower from Los Angeles. Calderon had also been unwittingly at the center of the impersonation that Phillips and Shaw had engineered to fool Eldon Hensen (see Chapter 3). Calderon was to become the focus of a CIA-driven wild goose chase with a claim that she had foreknowledge of the assassination. A LIENVOY tape revealed that when Calderon was asked if she had heard the news, Calderon had joked, “Yes, of course, I knew almost before Kennedy.” The CIA did not provide documents to the HSCA showing that Calderon’s initial response prior to the alleged “foreknowledge” was her surprise and a statement that the news had to be “a lie”.
I saw Plambeck's name on State Dept. documents and thought that was his real name. However, this document reveals that Plambeck was an officer at the Mexico City station. Now I'm thinking that Plambeck was the Department of State cover for David Phillips. In other words, the 5 foot/ten 165 memo looks like a classic disinformation-driven David Phillips effort. Researcher Gus Russo believes that Plambeck was deputy station officer Alan White, but my opinion is that both Plambeck and Phillips use the same kind of flowery prose.
The FBI and CIA admit that there is no proof that Kostikov was ever part of any “assassination bureau” – Angleton’s contribution to the cover-up
Statements made by the Soviet consuls many years later (see Oleg Nechiporenko’s Passport to Assassination) indicate that Oswald personally met with Kostikov, Yatskov and Nechiporenko on the morning of the 28th, although we can’t prove that Oswald’s visit was known to the Mexico City station until much later. What we do know is that the Mexico City station claimed on the day after the assassination that it was very concerned about the October 1 phone call from “Oswald” to the Soviet Embassy, asking for Kostikov. If Kostikov was such a dangerous man, why wasn’t the CIA on top of Kostikov on a daily basis after the October 1 phone call was translated?
The answer is that no one was worried about Kostikov until after the assassination. Before that, the emphasis was in trying to recruit him to the American side – see, for example, the REDCAP memo for September 27.
Right after JFK was killed, Angleton received a call from Anatoliy Golitsyn, a Soviet defector that had become Angleton’s most trusted source. Golitsyn told Angleton that “the modus operandi with any defector from anybody’s army to the Soviet Union required that he go through processing by the 13th Department of the KGB.”[ 64 ]
This is why much ado was made on the day after the assassination about a claim made by counterintelligence chief for the Soviet station, Tennent (Pete) Bagley. Bagley insisted there was strong proof that Kostikov was a member of the KGB’s 13th Department in charge of assassinations.[ 65 ] The CIA’s belief that Kostikov was a member of Dept. 13 was based solely on a “clandestine contact.”[ 66 ]
This contact was a double agent known as TUMBLEWEED. Kostikov made it possible for TUMBLEWEED to get together in the US with Oleg Brykin, a KGB member of the 13th Department. Golitsyn was the source of this information, passed on to Jim Angleton and then on to Bagley.[ 67 ] However, as stated in Chapter 3, Angleton had told the FBI as recently as June 1963 that Kostikov had nothing to do with the 13th Department. The FBI’s response to Golitsyn’s claim was that neither agency could be certain that Kostikov was part of the 13th Department.[ 68 ]
Bagley’s strong opinion, however, was a force to be reckoned with. Bagley was the chief counterspy for the Soviet Russia division, and had been stationed in Switzerland (eventually to become station chief) during the time that Oswald was due to attend Albert Schweitzer College.[ 69 ] Bagley had been transferred from Berne to Langley where he gained a rapid promotion to become C/SR/CI.
Like Angleton, Bagley believed in Golitsyn’s theory of the “Monster Plot” – that the entire Sino-Soviet split was a fake maneuver designed to lull the West into dropping its defenses and making itself vulnerable to the Communist menace. Bagley went so far as to write in his November 23 memo that “one of Harold Wilson’s principal scientific advisors is Captain Ian Maxwell, who has a long Soviet intelligence background. This may shed new light on (Golitsyn’s) report, i.e., that Harold Wilson may be a Soviet agent.” Like Bagley, Mexico City station chief Win Scott was a “Fundamentalist” – one who subscribed to Angleton and Golitsyn’s school of thought about a monolithic Communist threat – and it’s no accident that Scott’s pen name for his Mexico City memoirs was Ian Maxwell. Scott did not want Maxwell to be forgotten.
There has been speculation that Bagley may have played a role in suppressing Kostikov’s name from the twin October 10 memos. Kostikov could have been the centerpiece of discussion, since Mexico City’s memo of October 8 said that Oswald was trying to reach Kostikov on October 1. Many people believe that the absence of Kostikov’s name in these memos was very important and helped “dim the lights” on Oswald prior to November 22. That may be true, but I think there’s a more important insight here.
My thinking is that the alleged Kostikov-Oswald conversation was no secret. Kostikov’s name was flagged in the aforementioned Mexico City memo to the FBI on October 16, with no expression of concern by either the letter-writer or any of the numerous recipients. The October 16 memo said that “Lee Henry Oswald” had talked with Kostikov on September 28. Written by Barbara Manell from Mexico City’s Soviet desk, she directed a copy of the October 16 memo to the extremely anti-communist Ambassador Thomas Mann. Bert Turner at the FBI and key people at other agencies also received this information. Yet no one lifted a finger of concern.[ 70 ]
Manell could have toned it down by mentioning that Oswald and Kostikov were talking about a visa. Instead, she wrote that there was “no clarifying information”, which was not only untrue but added an unnecessary level of intrigue. When challenged on this point, Manell made it clear that “they had no need to know all those other details.”
Similarly, Manell claimed that she did not know that the September 28 transcript mentioned the Cuban consulate, or she would have included that information in her memo. But she told the HSCA that she “had rechecked the transcripts by this time, as otherwise she would not have used such certain language.”
The memo also indicates that it was Manell herself who figured out that the officer who spoke to Oswald was Kostikov. Nothing in the record explains how she came to that conclusion. When interviewed, she didn’t remember anything except she knew a lot about Kostikov, and “I probably decided that it was Kostikov”. Again, I do not see a hint of concern by anyone about Kostikov, Department 13, or anything else.
Golitsyn played a role in sparking the conversation about Department 13, as he called Angleton on the day of the assassination and told him that “the modus operandi with any defector from anybody’s army to the Soviet Union required that he go through processing by the 13th Department of the KGB…which is called their Affairs for Executive Action. And this was the SOP on the dealing with military defectors.”[ 72 ]
The FBI did not want to let Golitsyn see their intelligence, saying that it was against their policy to provide such material to defectors.[ 73 ] By December 20, Win Scott wrote his superior that the CIA wasn’t even sure whether Kostikov was KGB or GRU (Soviet military intelligence), which meant that Scott was uncertain whether Kostikov was part of KGB’s Department 13.[ 74 ] A similar conclusion was drawn by FBI counter-intelligence head Bill Branigan, who told Division 5 chief William Sullivan that there was “no indication that Lee Harvey Oswald was ever recruited or trained by Department 13.”[ 75 ] Nonetheless, Angleton’s assistant Ray Rocca wrote a damning report by the end of January, telling the Warren Commission that Oswald was mixed up with Kostikov, who worked with the Soviet assassination specialists at Department 13. Rocca added that Department 13 analyzed every military defector to the USSR “to determine the possibility of utilizing the defector in his country of origin.”
A report on “Soviet assassination and kidnapping” was presented to the Warren Commission on 2/17/64.[ 76 ] It focused on attacks on a White Russian official in 1954, Radio Free Europe in 1959, and what was known as “the Stashinsky murders” of the 1950s. The last case cited in the article is 1961, with the last page of the study concluding that “the assassination of an Allied official would be highly unlikely and probably unprofitable.”[ 77 ]
Shortly before the Warren Report went to press, Hoover aide John C. Stokes stated the CIA had “overstated its case” about Kostikov and Department 13. Stokes went to great lengths to point out that the FBI had provided all this information to Angleton before the assassination, and Angleton’s response had been to write a memo on June 25, 1963 saying there was no information in the files to support the claim that Kostikov was part of Department 13.[ 78 ]
By 1976, Angleton testified to the Church Committee that there was never any confirmation of the Department 13 story.[ 79 ] CIA counter-intelligence chief David Blee admitted in 1982 that the CIA was never able to prove that Kostikov was part of Department 13, and that the last known assassination attempt conducted by that agency was in 1959.[ 80 ]
There was never any good reason to believe that Kostikov was a member of Department 13 or any “assassination bureau”. It was made up from whole cloth after the assassination. It was a provocation, designed to distract the investigators. It’s entirely possible Golitsyn believed it, but Angleton used the Department 13 story to drive the cover-up. The CIA’s psychiatrist Charles Bohrer told the head of the Soviet Russia division that Golitsyn was offering much the same picture as he had when he defected to the USA, “dangling before the Agency very enticing and intriguing statements in exchange for acceptance, entrée, support and control…re Gaitskill, Wilson, Penkovsky, the Communist split, wild, crazy – the product of a sick mind?” Bohrer was stunned by Golitsyn’s contention that Prime Minister Harold Wilson was a Soviet agent.
Golitsyn had been seen a year earlier by another CIA psychiatrist, Dr. John Gittinger’s, whose 1962 report was much the same as Bohrer’s in 1963. Gittinger said that “our tests showed Golitsyn was clinically paranoid. I know I wouldn’t trust him any further than I could throw a bomber. I find it amazing how much of what he said was accepted. It remains incomprehensible to me…He suffered from a form of megalomania.”[ 81 ] For Jim Angleton to rely on Golitsyn’s speculation - while ignoring his own pre-assassination written statement saying that Kostikov was not a Department 13 official - is strong evidence of cover-up.
Jack Whitten was appointed as chief of the CIA’s investigation into the JFK assassination
On November 23, Helms appointed Jack Whitten as the chief of the CIA’s investigation into the JFK assassination. The period of Whitten’s leadership role has been described as the “GPFLOOR phase” that focused on the cable traffic around the world and the focus on Oswald’s activities in Mexico City.[ 82 ] Rocca describes Whitten and J. C. King (C/WHD) as the two Washingtonians in charge; Win Scott in Mexico was responsible, and Phillips was also “knowledgeable”.[ 83 ]
Whitten believed that one of the reasons he was given the case was that Angleton was so close to the FBI. There was “initially the possibility that the FBI was in some way derelict or involved or something like that...Helms wanted someone to conduct the investigation who was not in bed with the FBI, and I was not and Angleton was."
Given that Angleton’s source Golitsyn had made such a wild charge that contradicted the FBI’s belief about Kostikov being harmless, that may have been a factor as well. Jack Whitten spoke for much of the Agency when he said that Angleton’s view of the world was bizarre and over-suspicious. Helms may have been decided to keep Angleton under wraps, at least initially. Helms had to have known about the molehunt and how badly Angleton was compromised in that affair. I see no proof that the FBI figured out prior to the assassination that the twin 10/10/63 memos were part of a molehunt. However, the FBI did know that there was a big problem with the Mexico City tapes not containing Oswald’s voice. What was Helms going to do about the FBI? I think his successful game plan was to convince Hoover to hold back on exposing the tapes. Both Hoover and Helms wanted to weather this disaster. When supervisors Sullivan and D.J. Brennan were discussing the CIA’s plans to open new domestic contact offices in the US a couple months later, Hoover reminded them, “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 of their instances of double dealing.”[ 84 ] I believe Hoover’s frustration was about the tapes.
Whitten believed that another reason he was chosen as chief investigator in the JFK case was because Mexico was part of his bailiwick as the chief of the Central American desk, and that Helms knew him as a successful investigator of big cases and a polygraph operator. I think the biggest factor was that Bustos had written the 10/10 letters as Whitten’s subordinate, and Whitten had signed off on the letters without realizing that they were part of a molehunt. If Whitten remained in that state of mind throughout the investigation, that secret would be kept safe.
Instead of being informed about Cubela, Whitten is offered Ramon Cortes as a Castro-did-it suspect
On Whitten’s first day as chief of the JFK investigation, Angleton’s people immediately sent him off on a wild goose chase. No one ever stepped forward and told Whitten anything about the Castro assassination plots, or anything about how closely the Cuba division was working with Rolando Cubela in the days before November 22.
Instead, the files reveal a very different story, encapsulated in a handwritten note to Whitten from Ray Rocca during the late night hours of November 23. Rocca intoned that “here is the assembled file”, and added that these documents were too sensitive to be shared with the FBI.[ 85 ] The key documents cited by Rocca expound the theme of Oswald’s Soviet connection, and the importance of following Kostikov everywhere.
“Priority” was given to the possibility that Duran might have been exchanging information for sexual favors – this lead never went anywhere, but an unfounded rumor that Oswald and Duran had sexual relations has persisted in CIA circles ever since 11/22/63.[ 86 ] The purpose of this rumor has been to make Duran look untrustworthy.
The attachments to Rocca’s note point right to links between Castro’s mistress and aide Celia Sanchez with Dallas import-export agent Ramon Cortes discussed in Chapter 3. Both Sanchez and Cortes were close to Maria Witoski, also known as AMKIRK-1. Witoski was the estranged wife of Rene Vallejo, Castro’s closest aide who had been negotiating the possible rapprochement between Castro and JFK for the last several months.
Rocca provided a backgrounder of Celia Sanchez, stating she was the head of intelligence in late 1958 before Batista was overthrown, and how she was presently the political officer for the Communist Party as well as Fidel's secretary and mistress. He then turned to three pages on the Saavedra family, and how Cuban interior minister Raul Saavedra was married to Nenita Sanchez, a close relative of Celia Sanchez.
The final page recited five of the greatest hits from the file of the double agent Ramon Cortes, much of which was discussed in Chapter 3. All five hits point to Cortes’ close relations with Cuba, while ignoring his covert relations with the American government. The last two hits point to Cortes’ relationship with Witoski/AMKIRK-1; as discussed earlier, she was close friends with Celia Sanchez.
During 1962, June Cobb, a major source of information on the FPCC, was accepted by the CIA as a contract agent. Rocca’s last memos focus on how Witoski wrote June Cobb and accepted her invitation to come to Mexico, while saying how much she’d like to see Cortes again.[ 87 ]
By early December, CI-SIG chief Birch O’Neal confirmed that a French diplomat outside of the US was saying JFK was killed due to a joint plot by the Chinese government and Castro, with Cortes and Saavedra in the middle of it all. O’Neal also admits that the tips from the French diplomat “have proven to be not too reliable”. It is third-hand information from “a source” to the French diplomat “Unstar”, and then to WAVE staffer Dudley Jentons aka J. Deering Danielson.[ 88 ]
On the 10th, Cortes was questioned by the FBI. He admitted that he was friends with Witoski and her boss, Castro’s disloyal secretary Juan Orta. (Orta was the man who received from a courier sent by Sam Giancana and the CIA the poisoned pills to kill Castro shortly before the Bay of Pigs.) Cortes denied ever meeting Castro’s mistress Celia Sanchez, but remembered Witoski telling him about her friendship with her.[ 89 ] Cortes’ story was that he had "beat the Cuban government out of $80,000," and that he was now seeking protection from Dimas Figueredo, his former shoe factory partner and operative in Mexico City’s Gyrose Debriefing Unit. After months of reports on Cortes that wasted precious time, the case simply faded away. Cortes received criminal immunity in return for his continued cooperation about the Cubans.[ 90 ] The CIA agreed not to provide the sources in the Cortes investigation to the FBI.[ 91 ] Besides leading Whitten and the FBI on a wild goose chase, the Cortes story is probably included in the “French espionage activities” that had Hoover so mad at the CIA’s double-dealing.
November 24: The cover-up goes into high gear after Oswald is killed
The CIA’s Cuba division said it had no duty to conduct an investigation
The next day, November 24, Angleton learned from Win Scott that Cubela had met with Kostikov at the Soviet consulate back in late 1962.[ 92 ] Angleton said that FitzGerald would only provide Cubela’s 201 biographical file. FitzGerald relied on his divison’s autonomy and refused to provide the Cubela operational file to Angleton’s staff or to the Warren Commission. The story is that FitzGerald did not want to be subjected to an Angleton molehunt.[ 93 ]
With all the interest that both the FBI and the CIA had in Cubela over the years, Angleton’s claim that he did not know about Cubela’s background is not credible.[ 94 ] Equally incredible is Helms’ and FitzGerald’s testimony that they did not “ask” Cubela to assassinate Castro.[ 95 ] FitzGerald knew that Cubela was insecure, and that he had a problem.
From the moment of the assassination, FitzGerald was concerned that the assassin came from the ranks of the anti-Castro Cubans. FitzGerald was close to JFK, and wept when Oswald was killed, saying, “Now we’ll never know.”[ 96 ] FitzGerald died in 1967. His executive officer testified that the Headquarters Cuban desk was not asked to conduct any investigation into the Kennedy assassination.
Shackley did not feel he had any duty to investigate the assassination. "I was just told to watch the island." said Ted Shackley. "The mainland was the FBI's territory." [ 97 ] Similarly, no one from Shackley’s JMWAVE station in Miami conducted any serious investigation on the assassination. Individuals who allegedly gave orders to do some investigating were JMWAVE C/FI Warren Frank, Tony Sforza, and the former LIENVOY chief Charles Anderson III. Anderson was told by Sforza that he had received specific instructions from Shackley about how the AMOT service was to go about aiding in the investigation. Anderson said that the CIA had limitations on its “right to conduct investigations of persons residing in the USA, whether they were alien residents or US citizens.”[ 98 ] I am unaware of any documents created as a result of these probes.
Another officer said that when he spoke to his agents in meetings in Miami, Tampa, Nassau and Mexico City about the murder of JFK, his briefing was strictly oral and contained no written questions.[ 99 ] JMWAVE said little on the subject other than that the Cuban exiles were in grief despite their policy differences with JFK.[ 100 ]
When Angleton was asked about it many years later, he explained that the WAVE materials were under Western Hemisphere chief J. C. King, that the Headquarters materials were under FitzGerald, and that CI did not have access to their information “as far as it related to the Kennedy assassination or to the leads on the Cubans.”
The FBI’s Nationalities Intelligence conducted no investigation
Hoover had his own derelictions to hide. There was no good reason to Hoover to abruptly pull Nationalities Intelligence off the case after their avid work on the FPCC and Oswald. Hoover did not want the record to reflect the depth of the anti-Castro exiles’ anger at JFK. Nor did Hoover want to know what Nationalities Intelligence chief Ray Wannall knew about the FPCC and Oswald before November 22. The FBI men in Dallas certainly did not want Hoover or the public to know that Oswald had worked at the Jaggars photographic firm and had assisted the Army Mapping Service, an agency that was analyzing maps of Cuba obtained by U-2 flights during the height of the Cuban missile crisis.[ 101 ] Ann Egerter claimed months later that she had no way of knowing whether Oswald had ever worked for the Jaggars firm.
In the first days after 11/22, Ray Wannall, repeatedly provided the FBI with essential background on Oswald, including but not limited to letters that Oswald had written to the FPCC in New York City and turned over to the FBI by agent T-3245-S*, who was almost certainly FPCC staffer Victor Vicente. Vicente was the same man that Anita Potocki and the joint CIA-FBI team had inserted into Cuba in the AMSANTA operation during the summer of 1963. Wannall and his Nationalities Intelligence division were cut out of the assassination investigation.[ 102 ]
A flow chart details those in charge of the espionage aspects of Oswald’s case involved the espionage chief Bill Branigan of the Domestic Intelligence Division and his men: Burt Turner, Lambert L. Anderson, Marvin Gheesling, and Charles Brennan. The department not included on this flow chart is Ray Wannall’s Nationalities Intelligence Division, and its Cuban section.[ 103 ] This is no accident.
The FBI’s approach to the Oswald file was to label it as a “dual-captioned” matter prior to the assassination. Oswald’s defection and his ongoing contacts with the Soviets had been the terrain of Bill Branigan’s Espionage Section since 1959, while the Cuban side of the Oswald file was handled by Ray Wannall and Nationalities Intelligence.[ 104 ]
Ray Wannall testified to the Church Committee that Nationalities Intelligence was within the Counter-intelligence Branch and handled matters relating to countries other than the Soviet Union, Soviet Bloc, and Communist China.[ 105 ]
Wannall then stated who were the FBI’s top experts on Cuba during 1963:
"Anti-Castro would be Vince Nasca, and pro-Castro I guess would be Ray Mullens, not certain. Coordinated by Richard Cotter, unit chief, most outgoing flowed thru him, not ingoing. As section chief, I had pretty good knowledge of this material."[ 107 ]
Nasca received copies of Oswald’s exploits right after his defection to the Soviet Union – he signed for these documents with his initials VHN. Nasca and Wannall were kept in the loop on discussions about assassinating Castro even after JFK’s death. Nasca, who was the FBI’s absolute expert on the Cuban exiles, told the Church Committee during the 70s that he was given no investigative tasks regarding the JFK assassination. If they kept a heavy hitter like Nasca away from the investigation, it’s a sure thing that Hoover had zero concern that Castro was involved in killing Kennedy.
But that’s not all. Wannall admitted that his entire Nationalities Intelligence division was kept out of the JFK investigation.
"Were you at any time tasked with any requirements in that investigation or any people under you tasked?"
"I can't recall that we were, because even the phases of it that spilled over into our Division were handled in another section."
"Which section was that?"
"That was the Espionage Section."
"Was that Branigan's section?"
"Yes".[ 108 ]
Richard Cotter, who was Wannall’s #1 man between 1962 to 1965, described Branigan's section as "the Soviet section". Cotter is very clear that "if the Bureau was involved in exploring a Cuban involvement in the assassination, it almost certainly would have been run out of our section, yes." He agreed that Nasca, Wannall and himself was the go-to guys on Cuba. He agreed with Wannall that there were never even any discussions about whether any Cubans were involved in the JFK assassination. Cotter admitted that the obviousness of such a possibility "looks like two and two today, but apparently it didn't look like two and two then".
Unlike Wannall, who looks like a straight shooter until you review his interview, Cotter comes across as a truth teller. Cotter told with some pride the aforementioned story about a COINTELPRO action that successfully turned FPCC leaders Richard Gibson and Berta Green against each other, and said that he got mail about Oswald visiting both the Soviet and Cuban consulates before the assassination. The Cuban angle was the reason the Oswald case came to his desk.
Going back to Cotter's boss, Wannall admits over and over again that he was cut out of the investigation of JFK's murder and did nothing, although his section housed the experts on the subject. Wannall finally speculates that maybe his section questioned informants, only to be confronted with a memo saying such a practice was "Not desirable. Would serve to promote rumors." signed by Cotter.
Finally, in utter frustration, the interrogator Paul Wallach – the most thorough of all the attorneys in this case - let Wannall have it:
"What I'm getting at very frankly, Mr. Wannall, is that we have an investigation where a heck of a lot of Bureau evidence, your agents did thousands of man-hours of work tracing down every possible piece of physical evidence, every possible ramification in certain areas, whereas in the Cuban area it seems very frankly that almost nothing was done, and what I'm trying to get a grasp on, what the Senators are concerned about, is why?"
Since Wannall had no answer, he went off into an anecdote.
Wallach, undaunted, went at it again: "it appears to me as a layman that we have this huge counterintelligence machinery that was never called into play in the Cuban area...” Again, Wannall did not deny it.
Wallach ended by confronting Wannall with a story about Johnny Roselli’s lawyer, Edward P. Morgan. Morgan recounted how Castro was ready to retaliate about the assassination attempts on his life, that the FBI was notified in an "eyes only" memo that Morgan knew where Castro's purported JFK assassins were living in New Jersey, and that the FBI did no follow-up. Wannall had nothing to say.
Wannall’s boss William Sullivan made it clear that Hoover should not have brushed Morgan’s revelation aside.[ 109 ] It seems plain that Hoover did not want to know who killed JFK, whether the assassins came from the left or the right.
The FBI’s Soviet experts didn’t want to know about the Cuban evidence
A veteran agent, Kenneth Raupauch, revealed that the FBI’s Domestic Intelligence Division kept the evidence regarding the "so-called Cuban faction" strictly to themselves. The FBI’s Soviet experts Gheesling, Turner, Brennan, and Lambert L. Anderson kept close control of any information involving Cuba. Turner was the one who held the assignment card for Oswald prior to the assassination.
The focus for these men was "Oswald and security". Turner was considered the most brilliant by everyone, but he was not top dog. Turner answered to supervisors Branigan, Lenihan, John Stokes, Leonard Linton, and Gheesling.
Lenihan's responsibility was New Orleans and Oswald generally. This came directly from Hoover, and included Oswald's FPCC contacts in New York. Stokes was Mexico City. Gheesling was Dallas. Lenihan is very careful to say any Cuban leads would be for "Cuban section of our division", without saying who that is. It was Lambert Anderson.
Lambert L. Anderson was an intriguing character, as he was with Nationalities Intelligence, had the FPCC file, and he was "the new guy" at the Cuban desk. He answered to Branigan and Robert Lenihan, who were the case supervisors of the Domestic Intelligence Division.[ 110 ] He only served with the Cuban section for a short period of time, for a few months in 1963. FBI supervisor Richard Cotter said Anderson was “fairly new…I wouldn’t consider him an expert on Cuba, but he did have this case.” [ 111 ]
Hoover’s reaction to Oswald’s death was to focus on him as the lone assassin
Right after Oswald was murdered on November 24, Hoover told White House aide Walter Jenkins in a phone call “the thing I am concerned about, and so is Mr. Katzenbach, is having something issued so we can convince the public that Oswald is the real assassin.”[ 112 ]
At 4 pm that afternoon, Al Belmont called Shanklin to say that he was sending two of his investigators, Richard Rogge and Fletcher Thompson, down to Dallas to essentially wrap the case up. This memo is written with absolute authority, by a man who had been the head of counterintelligence for the FBI over the years and was clearly more in command than Hoover himself. This is hours after the shocking murder of Oswald that made most people in America sit up and wonder how many people were involved in the JFK assassination. Belmont calmly remarked, “We will set forth the items of evidence which make it clear that Oswald is the man who killed the President.”[ 113 ]
On the next day, November 25, assistant attorney general Nicholas Katzenbach wrote a devastating memo to LBJ aide Bill Moyers stating that “the public must be satisfied that Oswald was the assassin, that he did not have confederates who are still at large; and that evidence was such that he would have been convicted at trial.”[ 114 ] Curiously, Katzenbach said shortly before he died that “I’d almost bet on the (anti-Castro) Cubans” as being in on the assassination – probably because he was no longer worried about triggering a war with the Soviets.[ 115 ]
Also on November 25, Lyndon Johnson let columnist Joe Alsop know that he thought that Texas officials should resolve the case with the aid of the FBI, which would avoid any suggestions of “carpet-baggers”. Alsop pushed for non-Texan jurists to aid a national scope to the effort, but LBJ was wary of Bobby Kennedy’s Justice Department people “lobbying them against the President”.[ 116 ] LBJ, like most politicans, wanted an investigation that he could control.
On November 26, Belmont emphasized that it was important for the FBI to get out its report on the assassination as fast as possible. The emphasis was to ensure the public that they got the right man, and to get out their insight on Oswald’s background. Again, there was no concern about the shocking manner of Oswald’s death. “This report is to settle the dust…” I believe Belmont wanted everyone to go back to sleep, now that JFK was buried. Belmont emerges during this time as a key decision-maker, maybe even more than Hoover himself.
David Phillips and other provocateurs convinced Johnson that a blue-ribbon commission was necessary to avoid the threat of war
Other forces still wanted to whip the nation into the mood for war. Months later, when David Slawson met with Win Scott in Mexico City, Slawson made a point of citing the provocations of three men during the first two weeks after the assassination: Nicaraguan double agent Gilberto Alvarado, pre-Castro’s Cuba military intelligence chief Salvador Diaz Verson, and credit agency inspector Oscar Gutierrez Valencia.[ 117 ] Because of space limitations, I will only briefly discuss the Alvarado provocations, and will write a separate article about them in the future that is in greater depth. (Also see Rex Bradford’s articles on the subject at the Mary Ferrell Foundation website). I believe that these provocations were done in coordination with intelligence operatives aimed at sabotaging the investigation, and that much of it is the work of covert action chief David Phillips. HSCA counsel Dan Hardaway was convinced that Phillips was in charge of the disinformation passed on during the cover-up phase.[ 118 ] I believe that Phillips had to improvise the provocations on the spot, which is why, for example, the Alvarado story did not succeed in putting the US on a war footing against Castro. It played a big role, however, in forcing LBJ to form the Warren Commission.
On November 26, CIA officer John Whitten sent a cable saying that he and Mexico City CIA station director Win Scott had uncovered evidence that Castro had paid Oswald to assassinate Kennedy. This was the information that came from the Nicaraguan agent Gilbert Alvarado, who also appears to have been working for US intelligence as he pointed the finger at the Cuban government as the cause of the assassination. Scott had told the Mexican president the previous day that he suspected Cuban involvement.
On November 27, a conversation between CI/SIG chief Birch O'Neal and FBI liaison Sam Papich reveals that further analysis of Department 13 led them to believe that Kostikov is probably not a modern-day Antichrist. O’Neal said that he will call “Pete.”[ 119 ] This phone call was transcribed, and O’Neal wrote his own memo summarizing the call.[ 120 ] Pete Bagley, chief of counterintelligence for the Soviet Russia station, modified his claim of four days earlier. Bagley now admitted that although Kostikov was KGB, the claim that he was with Department 13 was based solely on Kostikov’s involvement with TUMBLEWEED.[ 121 ]
Over the days from the 25th to the 29th, the phony Alvarado and Kostikov evidence forced President Lyndon Johnson to change his mind about Texans leading the assassination investigation. Johnson knew that Alvarado’s information was explosive and could send the US into a war with Cuba, which could drag in the USSR. The Kostikov evidence, shaky as it was, could also mean war with the Soviet Union. Reversing course, Johnson announced the formation of a blue-ribbon panel now known as the “Warren Commission” on November 29. With no advance notice to Johnson’s friend Senator Dick Russell, LBJ announced that Russell would be one of the commissioners. Always the dealmaker, LBJ reassured Russell that “all you’ll do is evaluate the Hoover report he has already made.”[ 122 ]
For weeks after the assassination, the agencies were buried with phony evidence tying Oswald to a Soviet assassination team and Red Cuban plots. Lyndon Johnson and Robert Kennedy probably knew little about the tapes, but acquiesced to the cover-up rather than run the risk of a war on Cuba which might include the USSR. This story explains why LBJ was so insistent that Chief Justice Earl Warren chair the investigating commission and prevent the possibility of "40 million dead Americans", and why the Warren Commission was denied access to the investigators, witnesses and documents needed to solve the case. To win over Warren, LBJ said that “I just pulled out what Hoover told me about a little incident in Mexico City.”
Immediately after this panel of chieftains was chosen, the Alvarado story was revealed to be a hoax. As seen above, it would take longer for the Kostikov story to be completely discredited. However, now the story of the assassination would be carefully massaged by men who knew how to work with evidence.
After Hoover released CD 1, Whitten was stunned when he reviewed it
After the FBI had the opportunity to review the Dallas crime evidence for 72 hours, they sent it back to Dallas. After the Dallas police created a belated inventory on 11/26/63, the evidence was provided to the FBI for a second time. This time, the evidence went to Wally Heitman, the Spanish-speaking Dallas FBI agent. Other writers have said that this sifting exercise was done to enable the FBI to review troublesome evidence such as Oswald’s wallets, as well as suppress problematic evidence such as Oswald’s Minox camera which was better known as a spy camera. In my mind, that’s right. Any other conclusion would require someone coming up with a full inventory for November 22. On November 26, Belmont gave the go-ahead to Dallas chief Shanklin to send this material to Washington, DC, acting as though they were seeing all of it for the first time.
In the days ahead, Hoover was furious at Curry, refusing to work with the Dallas police for years afterwards. I think it was either because of Curry’s admission that the evidence was originally sent to Washington on the night of the assassination, or Curry’s continual refusal to agree that the assassination was caused by Oswald acting alone.
In any case, Hoover followed Belmont’s advice – he bore down and produced a mammoth report on December 1 that claimed to address all the major issues of the assassination. As the report was based on the assumption that Oswald was the assassin and acted alone, the conclusion was predictable. This document is now known as Commission Document 1, or CD 1, and became the foundation for the Warren Report. Hoover promptly leaked it to the press to ensure everyone heard the FBI’s conclusion that Oswald acted alone and unaided.
When Whitten got a look at CD 1 on or about December 6, he discovered “details of Oswald’s political activity in the United States; the pro-Cuban activity; …and so on.”
Whitten said that the possible involvement of the Miami station did not emerge until he read CD 1 and learned more about Oswald’s pro-Castro activities in the US. The “basic source materials” can be seen in the carefully drafted packages put together during Whitten's short tenure by supervisors Manning Clements, Warren de Brueys, and Robert Gemberling. These were men that knew how to put together reports that eliminated most of the evidence that the Bureau didn’t want to hear about. Whitten emphasized that “I did not know anything about the CIA’s assassination plans against Castro. If I had, my investigation would have been entirely different. We would have had the Miami station kick off the full investigation.” Whitten also felt that the Cubela story was an “absolutely vital factor in analyzing the facts around the Kennedy assassination.” Unfortunately, most people did not know about the CIA’s plans to assassinate Castro until about 1975, despite the best efforts of journalists like Jack Anderson and a handful of others.
At the same time, Whitten was apparently willing to go along with a plan to keep any information about the Mexico City tapes out of the general discussion, as shown below. After getting a look at CD 1 on December 6, Whitten wrote a memo to CIA Director McCone and other higher-ups stating, “There was absolutely no mention of the CIA in the report.”[ 123 ] Wittingly or unwittingly, Whitten’s action let anyone who knew the truth know that the Oswald imposter story – which is probably what the Mexico City station was referring to years later as “the Identity Case” – was not currently in consideration by the FBI and that it was probably safe to omit it from the investigation.[ 124 ]
Meanwhile, Whitten couldn’t understand why the FPCC revelations in the report had been held back from him for two weeks, especially since Oswald’s FPCC ties were all over the newspapers. Whitten mentioned that “Oswald’s correspondence with American communists and with the Fair Play for Cuba committee is recorded in original letters.” The only thing that seemed to surprise him was Marina’s story that Oswald shot at General Edwin Walker. Marina was in a tough spot. It was reported that she said she would cooperate with the FBI if they could give her “some concrete assurances” that she could stay in the U.S.
On that same day, someone at the CIA completed his own preliminary biographical study of Oswald.[ 125 ] The study has nothing about the incident with General Walker, but several references to Oswald’s FPCC activities in 1963.[ 126 ] Whitten’s report was not yet completed.
Helms reassures Whitten that he can hold on to the investigation
Whitten wrote a memo to Helms on 12/11/63 stating what his plans were for the investigation. Helms initialed his responses to each paragraph, including agreement to give Whitten leave from his present job as WH/3, which Whitten described to Helms as “a branch with 45 people in headquarters and well over 100 in seven Central American countries”.[ 127 ]
Whitten never made any waves about the tapes or the difficulty the witnesses had in identifying Oswald in Mexico City, but he did flag the concern that CD 1 might reveal the phone tap operations in Mexico “because the Soviets would see that the FBI had advance information on the reason for Oswald’s visit to the Soviet Embassy”.[ 128 ]
What Whitten meant in this passage illustrates the importance of being able to interview key witnesses while they are still alive. What did the FBI know about why Oswald was going to visit the Soviet Embassy? It sure looks like FBI supervisors knew that Oswald was wittingly or unwittingly part of an intelligence operation – such as the Tilton-Anderson anti-FPCC operation. It’s clear why Whitten cared if the Soviets would see that the FBI knew in advance that Oswald wanted a visa – because it might reveal the Mexico City wiretap operations.
As Whitten was mulling over the next stage for the investigation, the new Warren Commission members and counsel were not impressed by the FBI’s work in the preparation of CD 1. CD 1 simply placed all the blame on Oswald, and displayed little investigative zeal other than placing a lot of raw reports between two covers. Sullivan told the Church Committee that Hoover then leaked the contents of CD 1 to the press in order to “deliberately pre-empt the Warren Commission’s findings”. On December 16, Chief Justice Earl Warren and chief counsel J. Lee Rankin discussed the problem and decided that they would need “some investigative staff” of their own when they reach a “tender spot” because they had no reports from the CIA or the State Department and “the (FBI) report has so many holes in it…it just doesn’t seem like they’re looking for things that this Commission has to look for.”[ 129 ]
Whitten proceeded to expand an earlier 11/24 memo, entitled “We Discover Lee Oswald in Mexico City”.[ 130 ] Right about the same time, Whitten’s supervisor J.C. King wrote him a memo about the investigation to date, saying that matters have focused on Mexico City because of the Station’s superb job. He adds that “your analyses were major factors in the quick clarification of the case, blanking out the really ominous spectre of foreign backing.”[ 131 ] On about December 17, Whitten circulated this “Lee Oswald” memo and asks for corrections from Birch O’Neal and other CIA counterintelligence officers. Whitten’s memo ignored the role of the twin 10/10/63 cables, but it did suggest that the tapes survived the assassination.
Angleton makes his move right before Christmas
Whitten claimed that he had no idea about Oswald’s FPCC escapades and the rest until just hours before a major meeting with Helms about Whitten’s report in December. Whitten wrote that this initial draft would change when he obtained new information from the FBI, and sent it to McCone, Helms, Angleton, O’Neal and Murphy.[ 132 ] A note on a still-partially redacted routing slip indicates that SR/CI was to play a role in editing this initial draft of his report on Lee Oswald.[ 133 ]
By December 20, Whitten had expanded his first draft into a second draft. The new draft says “our Mexico City station was given full background information on Oswald in a cable”.[ 134 ] It seems to me that Whitten had bought the faulty description of Oswald, even though it had his name as “Lee Henry Oswald” and no photograph. I don’t think Whitten was hiding any guilty knowledge.
At the 12/24 meeting, Whitten said that “Angleton started to criticize my report terribly - without pointing out any inaccuracies, it was so full of wrong things, we could not possibly send it to the Bureau, and I just sat there and did not say a word. This was a typical Angleton performance. I had invited him to comment on the report and he had withheld all of his comments until he got to the meeting whereupon Helms turned the operation, the investigation, over to Angleton’s staff.”[ 135 ] Helms turned the case over at Angleton’s request, based on its counterintelligence ramifications. Whitten said that he went along and “suggested that it be turned over because of the Soviet angle that had now been discovered, (because of) the disclosure about his biographic information about his stay in Soviet Russia, which was obviously very important.”[ 136 ] Whitten felt that “Helms wanted someone to conduct the investigation who was in bed with the FBI, and I was not and Angleton was.”
After the meeting, Whitten circulated a memo asking for feedback because of its “inaccuracies and policy errors”. Whitten describes what he has done as a “working paper for those who prepare the final report”.[ 137 ] A note on the memo states: “On January 8 or 9, I discussed Whitten’s draft with him, told him Mr. Rocca was to write the report I was and he would be called upon for verification of statements in it no doubt and I did not have time to edit or comment on the treatment of various aspects. He said he would be in contact with Mr. Rocca, and I later learned he was.” [ 138 ]
Ray Rocca, Angleton’s Chief of Research and Analysis (CIRA) became the liaison between the CIA and the Warren Commission. Rocca’s version places the date of the shift from Whitten to himself on 1/12/64.[ 139 ] Rocca, however, gave a pass to the CIA’s Miami station during the Warren Commission’s investigation. As Angleton testified, Rocca was “the point of contact except on matters pertaining to WAVE…If WAVE has thousands of operations going on, I’m not going to use my liaison people doing their business when they could have direct contract (sic) with the Bureau.”[ 140 ]
In attempting to justify Angleton’s takeover of the investigation, Angleton’s successor George Kalaris inadvertently made a startling admission. Kalaris mused that CI Staff was the most logical candidate to lead the investigation, as they were the CI liaison with the FBI and the Secret Service, as well as a source of information related to the protection apparatus for senior US officials.[ 141 ] The implications of this revelation will be discussed further in the final chapter.
Years later, Whitten said that “I didn’t know about the assassination plans of the CIA against Castro. This was not disclosed to me. Had I known that, my investigation would have been entirely different.” Whitten said that he would have started the investigation in Miami. When asked about why Bill Harvey asked his wife to burn all of his papers, Whitten’s response was that “He was too young to have killed McKinley and Lincoln. It could have been anything…I think Harvey was a man who did great damage to the Agency. I told the Senate Committee – I went out of my way to tell them in my emphasis that assassinations and things like that are something really abhorrent to all the rank and file of Agency officers. It is unthinkable.”
The deepest reason Jack Whitten was taken off the Oswald case
I believe that the deepest reason Whitten was taken off the case can be found in a Whitten memo, DIR 89366 - this is a priority memo to Mexico City dated 12/16/63, seeking an immediate response. Whitten asked “For our analysis of this case, can MEXI shed light on who Aparicio is, whether he has that number (author’s note: The phone number 14-12-99, quoted by Duran in a passing reference to Aparicio at the beginning of the 9/28 call), and what this might have to do with our case...please have monitors make every effort to identify voices of various Soviets to whom Oswald spoke on the telephone or who dealt with his case with Sylvia Duran". Whitten took pains to write that his request was being made pursuant to "direction of Helms”. Whitten labeled it as a priority memo. We saw in Chapter 3 Aparicio’s fascinating history as the case officer for double agent AMKNOB-1.
I believe that Raul Aparicio was not only the Cuban embassy’s cultural attache and main press contact, but he was also a double agent working on behalf of the United States. The reference to Aparicio in the September 28 call was not only a signal to the Mexico City station that LIENVOY was compromised. It was also a signal that the operation with Aparicio was compromised.
It looks like Aparicio may have had some kind of relationship with Spanish-speaking CIA agent Daniel Flores. His stepmother was born in Mexico. Flores was approved to work on a special project by a CIA sigint (signals intelligence) officer. A sigint matter would indicate that Flores was working with Staff D. When HSCA counsel Ed Lopez went to Mexico City in 1978, he conducted an interview with “Daniel Flores aka Luis Aparicio”. Many baseball fans will remember the famous Chicago White Sox shortstop Luis Aparicio during the 1960s. Lopez asked Duran during her interview if she saw “Luis Aparicio” at a twist party in Mexico City. Was “Luis Aparicio” a momentary lapse by Lopez, did “Luis” have a relationship with Raul Aparicio, or did the CIA have a real live CIA officer inside the Cuban embassy? I have the feeling that this won’t take too much longer to figure out.
Whitten’s December 16 request may have been the deepest reason that Whitten was taken off the JFK case as lead investigator. It may explain why Angleton invented a fight at Whitten on December 24, and Helms asked for Whitten to step down the same day.
The problems raised by Whitten’s December 16 memo are legion. Most importantly, by asking the monitors to compare voices of people that spoke with Oswald or Duran during his visit, Whitten is assuming at this late date that the tapes were still in existence, just as he did many years later when questioned by the HSCA.
Another problem was his query about Raul Aparicio. If Whitten’s questions had been fully answered, it would have focused attention on the 9/28 memo, that Aparicio's line 14-12-99 was tapped, and that Aparicio was at the Cuban Consulate during the Oswald visit. Scott did not want any additional scrutiny about this 9/28 call.
Scott also wanted to avoid Whitten's other questions - Can MEXI shed light on who Aparicio is? Is 14-12-99 his phone number? Is it relevant to our case? Scott knew who Aparicio was, and that David Phillips knew the details. This memo, received on the 16th, went from Scott to White to Goodpasture to Phillips to back to Scott. Scott scribbled a note on the memo, saying, "That's Raul Aparicio, Cuban embassy official, get Dave to give details...he was on lienvoy 9 dec...close to ambassador...”
After four days without a response to his priority memo, Whitten must have sensed that Scott was disturbed. Whitten thought he knew what the problem was. Whitten wrote a follow-up memo to Scott, providing him with the assurance that “our present plan in passing info to Warren Commission is to eliminate mention to telephone taps in order protect your continuing ops.”
Unwittingly, Whitten then put his foot in it. “Exact detailed info from REDACTED (two names) on just what Silvia Duran and other officials said about Oswald’s visits and his dealings would be valuable and usable corroborative evidence. Request you requestion them carefully on these points, attempting get as much authentic data as possible, without mixing in what they knew from newspapers. Pls cable summaries and pouch detailed statements.”
It’s obvious Whitten wanted Scott to quiz the CIA’s informants at the embassy and “requestion them carefully”. A review of the file shows that is precisely what needed to happen. But it never did. By the 24th, Angleton and Helms took the case away from Whitten, and never followed up on this memo.
Only on December 27, after Whitten had been deposed as the chief of the JFK investigation, did Scott come up with any kind of response. It was another lie. "141299 is home number of Raul Aparicio Nogales, cultural attache of embassy. Doubt any connection with GPFLOOR (the Oswald investigation) as Aparicio was on sick leave during significant period...no further info because tapes have been erased.”[ 142 ] Goodpasture suppressed any mention of this detailed request in her chronology.
Scott had told a whopping lie to Whitten. Whether or not Aparicio was on sick leave (which I doubt due to lack of evidence, although we have indications he was a diabetic), the CIA’s own log shows that Aparicio was at the Cuban Embassy at 9:25 am on Sept 30. That date was certainly within the significant period of the Oswald visit. September 30 is included within the “significant period” surrounding the Sept 28 call where Aparicio’s name is mentioned!
Once Angleton had control of the investigation, he decided to “wait out the commission”, while he chased every Soviet angle in sight. Angleton had Rocca write the aforementioned key memo linking the September 28 phone call with the “assassin” Kostikov. Meanwhile, Helms prevented the Warren Commission from seeing the actual October 10 documents and others – only provides paraphrased documents. See David Wise’s article from back in 1968, that shows how frustrating this situation was.
When staffer David Slawson got persistent about wanting to go deeper into the Mexico City matter, Scott and White actually played the tapes for Slawson and his colleague William Coleman on April 9, while swearing them to secrecy.[ 143 ] Now there was no more risk of the story of the tapes being blown. The Warren Report was hurried out the door by late September, ostensibly to avoid influencing the 1964 presidential election. The findings relied heavily on the FBI’s initial product pushed out the door in early December – Oswald was the assassin and acted alone.
In the final chapter, we will review who might have been in on the assassination itself, and I will offer some thoughts on how to approach resolution and justice in the JFK case. At this point in the story, did the government have any concern that the impersonation might have been done by the Soviets or the Cubans? Apparently not on the part of the CIA. A CIA memo states that “following a thorough review and study of all available material, the Agency was unable to prove that Oswald had been acting under direction of the KGB”. The same finding was made regarding Cuba. We will take a look at the domestic front.
1 Oswald generally ate his lunch in the first floor lunchroom called the domino room where the African American employees would gather, instead of in the all-white, main lunchroom on the second floor that had all of the soft drink machines. It has been suggested that Oswald may have left the first floor lunchroom “to go up to the second floor to get a coke.”: Credit for this item and the following description of the interior of the Depository goes to Lamar Waldron, who posed this possibility in Legacy of Secrecy (2008), pp. 120-121. Ian Griggs has convinced me that Oswald did not actually buy the coke until after his chance meeting with Baker and Truly. See Dealey Plaza Echo, November 2001.
Oswald standing in the predominantly black voter registration line: James Kirkwood, American Grotesque, p. 215.
3 J. Edgar Hoover exhausted all leads before concluding that the description came from an “unidentified citizen”...: Memo from Richard Rogge on behalf of J. Edgar Hoover to J. Lee Rankin, Warren Commission, 11/12/64, FBI 105-82555 Oswald HQ File, Section 224, p. 72.
The HSCA took a similar approach and did not rely on this witness in any way. Anthony Summers, Conspiracy (New York: Paragon, 1989) p. 79.
Howard Brennan may have seen a rifleman in the window, but the evidence that he did not provide the original “five feet ten, 165” identification is formidable. The specificity of the “5 feet ten, 165” tip cannot be squared with the impossibility of providing a height-and-weight ID of a sixth floor sniper located at a window and seen from near-waist height. Fred Cook, “The Truth is Too Terrible”, Third Decade, Volume 1, Issue 6, p. 3.
The efforts to tie Brennan’s report to the tip happened at a lower level than Hoover, and were unsuccessful. Inspector Herbert Sawyer was the man who testified to interviewing “the unknown white man”, and then radioed in his interview of the unknown white man at 12:43 and several others during that time period. Sawyer could not identify Brennan, and said nothing about Sorrels of the Secret Service being there. Sawyer knew Sorrels, and saw him that afternoon in a different setting. Sawyer said that he sent the unknown white man to the Sheriff’s office with a police escort. Warren Commission Hearings, Testimony of Herbert Sawyer, 4/8/63, Volume 6, pp. 322-323.
Sawyer also verified to the Warren Commission an entry in the radio log stating that only a minute or two after calling in the 12:43 description, he told the dispatcher “it’s unknown whether he is still in the building or not known if he was there in the first place.” Thus, if anyone had told Sawyer that they saw the main shooting from the window, Sawyer would certainly not have said that it was “not known if he was there in the first place”. Also see this useful chronological model that describes the scene.
Brennan never identified Sawyer in any way. Brennan testified that a policeman “had him taken to” Secret Service agent Forrest Sorrels, where he provided his information, and that Sorrels then had him taken across the street to the sheriff’s office. Warren Commission Hearings, Testimony of Howard Brennan, Volume 3, p. 145.
Immediately after the shooting at 12:30, Sorrels drove to Parkland Hospital and saw the President and Connally removed from the car and brought into the hospital on stretchers. Sorrels then went back to the book depository. It took Sorrels about 20-25 minutes to get back to the book depository. Then Sorrels went to the back of the Book Depository building and questioned a man. Then Sorrels went inside the book depository without showing any identification. He found the building manager Roy Truly, and spoke with him. Sorrels then left the building, and then someone “pointed” him to speak to Brennan. It is highly unlikely Sorrels could have done all this by 12:43 pm.
Warren Commission Hearings, Testimony of Forrest Sorrels, 5/8/64, Volume 7, pp. 347-348.
All Brennan told Sorrels was that the man wore a light jacket and had a slender build. Brennan said nothing about the man's height or weight. Sorrels said nothing about Sawyer or any Dallas policeman being present during this questioning. There is no testimony that Sorrels radioed in his interview with Brennan or anyone else during this time period. Warren Commission Hearings, Testimony of Forrest Sorrels, 5/8/64, Volume 7, p. 349.
When Brennan subsequently gave his statement at the sheriff’s office, he provided no height estimate while providing a weight estimate of 165-175. Statement of Howard Brennan to Dallas Sheriff’s Department, Volume 19, p. 470, Decker Exhibit 5323.
Oswald weighed about 131 pounds at the time of his arrest. Warren Commission Hearings, Volume 17, p. 285, Exhibit 630.
Brennan could not identify Oswald at a line-up later that day. Warren Commission Hearings, Testimony of Forrest Sorrels, Volume 7, 5/8/64, pp. 354-355.
Two FBI agents, Gaston C. Thompson and Robert C. Lish, took Brennan’s statement on 11/22, and tout him as the one who gave the description. They claim that Brennan told them the shooter was “5 foot 10, 165 pounds”.
At the Thompson/Lish interview, Brennan said he had been to the lineup, and that he had picked Oswald out of the lineup as “closely resembled”, but said he could not “positively identify” Oswald as the shooter.
FBI Special Agent in Charge Gordon Shanklin touted Brennan as a witness, saying that in the 11/30/63 report by Robert Gemberling, a “review of interviews” reveals that Brennan provided a description of “5 foot ten, 165”.
Brennan told a newspaper weeks later that he could have identified Oswald, but didn’t because he was scared that he or his family would not be safe. He also believed that the assassination was “a communist activity”.
More than a year later, FBI agent Richard Burnett claimed that “Sawyer recalls that the unknown white man asked to speak to a Secret Service agent…Secret Service agent Forest Sorrels listened as the man provided his identification of the rifleman at the window to Sawyer.” This statement remains uncorroborated, and flies in the face of everyone else’s testimony. Robert P. Gemberling investigation, 1/15/65, FBI 105-82555, Oswald HQ File, Section 224, re insert by SA Richard Burnett, p. 39.
4 Sawyer was asked if he personally received the “5’10”/165” tip, and he said that he did. When Sawyer was asked to describe the tipster, he said, “I don’t remember what he was wearing. I remember that he was a white man and that he wasn’t young and he wasn’t old. He was there. That is the only two things that I can remember about him.”: Testimony of Herbert Sawyer, supra. Also see: Memo from SA Vincent E. Drain to FBI HQ, 1/9/64, FBI Oswald Headquarters File (105-82555)/Section 64. Sawyer said he sent the man with an “escort” to the sheriff’s office to give further detail. Sawyer never saw the man again, and the escort was never identified.
5 Sawyer stated on the radio at 12:44 that the 5’10/165 pound man was “carrying what looked to be a 30-30, or some type of Winchester rifle”: AG Texas Radio Log Channel 2, Warren Commission Document 291, p. 7.
Sawyer also verified to the Warren Commission an entry in the radio log stating that only a minute or two after calling in the 12:44 description, he told the dispatcher “it’s unknown whether he is still in the building or not known if he was there in the first place.” Thus, if anyone had told Sawyer that they saw the main shooting from the window, Sawyer would not say it was “not known if he was there in the first place”. Id., p. 332. Radio Log, supra, p. 8. See this useful chronology set up as a graphic model.
6 At 2:07 pm (1:07 pm CST), Shanklin told Hoover that “he had just received word the President was shot with a Winchester rifle”: Memo from J. Edgar Hoover to Messrs. Tolson, et al., 11/22/63, http://digitalcollections.baylor.edu/cdm/compoundobject/collection/po-arm/id/1120/rec/8 (third page of this link)
7 Fifteen minutes after the assassination, Oswald was swept into this case by someone with access to the FBI’s information that Oswald at one time was described as “five feet ten, 165”: Report of SA John Fain, 5/12/60, Warren Commission Hearings, Volume 17, p. 706, Warren Commission Exhibit 821.
8 J. Edgar Hoover exhausted all leads before concluding that the description came from an “unidentified citizen”: J. Edgar Hoover (memo written by Richard D. Rogge) to Warren Commission counsel J. Lee Rankin, 11/12/64, FBI 105-82555 Oswald HQ File, Section 221, p. 72.
9 Years later, Jackson made the improbable claim that he “realized that, as you said, that we were draining the Oak Cliff area of available police officers, so if there was an emergency, such as an armed robbery or a major accident, to come up, we wouldn’t have anybody there…”: Interview by CBS newsman Eddie Barker with Murray Jackson, 1967, recounted at Joseph McBride’s Into the Nightmare (2013), page 423.
10 “… An officer told her that Tippit and another officer had been assigned by the police to hunt down Oswald in Oak Cliff. The other officer was involved in an accident and never made it to the scene, but “J.D. made it”: Id., at pp. 421-427.
11 Tippit’s story is backed by none other than Johnny Roselli’s associate John Martino – both of these men admitted their involvement in JFK’s murder. Martino said that Oswald “was to meet his contact at the Texas Theater” in his Oak Cliff neighborhood: Anthony and Robbyn Summers, “The Ghosts of November”, Vanity Fair, December 1994.
12 Butch Burroughs, a Texas Theater concessions employee, states that he sold Oswald popcorn right around 1:10 pm…: Interviews by Larry Harris, in his article “The Other Murder”, Dateline Dallas, 11/22/63. Interviews with Burroughs are recounted in both books cited here - Jim Marrs, Crossfire (1990), p. 353; Jim Douglass, JFK and the Unspeakable (2008) p. 293.
Jack Davis remembers seeing Oswald at 1:15, as he squeezed by him during the opening credits to the movie. On the Jack Davis encounter, journalist Jim Marrs interviewed Davis during the fall of 1988. See Marrs, Crossfire, p. 353. For Myers’ observations re Warren Burroughs and Jack Davis, see his book With Malice (1998), p. 617.
13 According to author Lamar Waldron, Oswald was armed with half a box top saying “Cox’s, Fort Worth”. If Waldron is correct, Oswald was apparently trying to meet someone who had the other box top half: Lamar Waldron and Thom Hartmann, Ultimate Sacrifice, p. 734.
14 Tippit made an unsuccessful attempt to call the dispatcher at 1:08…: Testimony of Domingo Benavides, Warren Commission Hearings, Volume 6, p. 446-448. For the testimony on “reaching for his gun”, see CBS News Inquiry, “The Warren Report, Part 3” (1967). On the fifteen-minute walk and the shooting time as “1:09”, see McBride, Into the Nightmare, pp. 244-251.
15 …Given that the HSCA relied solely on the shells to make its case that Oswald shot Tippit, Leavelle’s admissions that the shells were not marked at the scene help nullify that homicide case against Oswald: Id., pp. 256-257. Dale Myers, an expert on the Tippit killing who believes Oswald was the shooter, was told the same thing by Leavelle. Myers, With Malice (1998) pp. 263-265.
16 The two sets of identification for Oswald and Hidell being found in one wallet was particularly damaging to Oswald, as it would be learned by 11/23/63 that the rifle that was left at the scene was purchased by mail order with a unused, never-deposited postal money order used by “A. Hidell”: See Warren Commission Exhibit 788, Volume 17, page 677.
This unused, never-deposited money order was very strange, because there was only a stamp stating “pay to the order of the First National Bank of Chicago”. An official at that bank, Robert K. Wilmouth, explained that all postal money orders delivered to their bank would receive an endorsement and date stamp by the First National Bank of Chicago, the Federal Reserve Bank, and the Federal Postal Money Order Center. Not surprisingly, that banker was never called by the Warren Commission.
Postal inspector Harry Holmes not only had access to postal money orders, but he was the only man in the postal system who knew the number of the money order on 11/23/63, and the only person who claimed to have located the money order “stub” which showed the number of the money order…which then disappeared. Why did he provide the number at 3:30 pm that day, and then wait four hours before telling postal inspectors that “this never-deposited, never-cashed money order could be found at the Federal Records Center in Washington, D.C.?” For a good analysis on the problem with the money order, and more, see John Armstrong, Harvey and Lee (2003), pp. 449-480.
17 When Sergeant Kenneth H. Croy arrived as one of the first officers on the scene, an unknown citizen handed him a wallet. Croy handed the wallet to Sergeant Calvin Owens: Jones Harris interview with Kenneth Croy, 11/02/02. Dale Myers, the author of With Malice, doesn’t agree that the two wallets are identical, and makes his argument at the last section of this post. From the photos offered by Myers at pp. 298-299 of his book, I can’t see the distinctions that he claims are present. Even if Myers is right that the two wallets are not identical, he does not address the central issue: Who originally found the wallet? Myers does nothing to disprove Croy’s contention that an unknown citizen handed it to him.
18 Dallas FBI agent Jim Hosty even revealed the cover-up in his book – however, his contention was that it was a benign cover-up by “President Johnson, the Warren Commission, the FBI, the CIA”…: James Hosty, Assignment: Oswald (1996) pp. 247-249.
19 It looks like Director McCone may have come to the two-shooter conclusion as early as that Sunday morning: In section 8 of its final report, the ARRB noted that it had found a listed meeting between Johnson, Bundy and McCone on the subject of a "Message concerning President Kennedy's Assassination" for 11/24/63, but relevant McCone documents were either missing or destroyed. Also see Larry Hancock, Someone Would Have Talked (2010 edition), p. 222.
20 Shortly after the presidential limousine pulled into Parkland Hospital, a bucket of water was used to wash blood and other debris off the vehicle. This went against every single aspect of professional training, which focuses on protecting the integrity of the crime scene: Pamela McElwain-Brown, “An Examination of the Secret Service Limousine in the White House Garage”, Kennedy Assassination Chronicles, Winter 1999.
21 When Jones asked O’Neal what was in the file, O’Neal responded that “there is nothing in CIA file regarding Oswald other than material furnished to CIA by the FBI and the Department of State”: Commission Document 49 - FBI Graham Report of 02 Dec 1963 re: Oswald/Russia, p. 22. Courtland Jones was an FBI counterintelligence man in the DC office.
22 O’Neal’s line became that “I recognized that it was our responsibility to give the fullest cooperation to the FBI and to protect the Agency with regard to any aspects of our operations…”: HSCA Segregated CIA Collection (staff notes)/NARA Record Number: 180-10142-10056.
23 Curry testified that on “Friday night we agreed to let the FBI have all the evidence and they said they would bring it to their laboratory and they would have an agent stand by and when they were finished with it to return it to us”: Testimony of Chief Jesse Curry, Warren Commission Hearings Volume 4, page 195. On the hulls and the live round, I have educated myself with the aid of the excellent account provided by Barry Krutsch in Impossible, The Case Against Lee Harvey Oswald, Volume 1, pp. 221-233, and Noel Twyman, Bloody Treason, with particular emphasis on the photo of the two shells and one live round at p. 233 of Krutsch’s book and p. 111 of Twyman’s. NARA No. 124-10063-10042.
24 I can’t find an inventory for the “four or five hundred” other evidence items that the FBI evidence technicians received during the initial twenty-four hours – breaking the legal chain of custody for all these items: Two evidence technicians report receiving hundreds of evidence items during the first twenty-four hours. One is James Cadigan, at the Warren Commission Hearings, Volume 7, p. 435.
The other is Robert Frazier, in a 1/6/04 interview with John Hunt, recounted in Hunt’s article “Frazier Speaks” (2005)
25 Someone drew lines through the original transcript of Cadigan’s deposition and wrote “delete”: The original 4/30/64 Cadigan transcript is in the National Archives. The modified Cadigan deposition is located at Warren Commission Hearings, Volume 7, p. 434.
Jim Marrs’ article “What a Difference a Day (or Two) Makes”, The Journal of History (Fall 2007) recounts the contents of the original Cadigan transcript.
26 The public was informed by the media that Tuesday the 26th marked the beginning of the transfer of evidence to Washington: James Ewell, Dallas Morning News, November 27, 1963, at 89-43A, Volume02c.tif, page 1 of 50.
27 In Mexico City, during that fateful afternoon, chief Win Scott wrote a memo saying that he would “forward soonest copies of only visitor to Soviet Embassy 28 Oct who could be identical with Oswald”: Win Scott to Director, MEXI-7019, 11/22/63, ARRB 1995 Releases/NARA Record Number: 104-10015-10107.
Another version of this memo has a marginal note stating that the “Oct. 28” date mentioned at the bottom should really be “Oct. 1.” Goodpasture’s cover story was that the Mystery Man had visited the Soviet consulate on October 1. This begs the question about why September 28th is referenced, even though it is in an indirect way. The note says to look at MEXI-7023, which references both Sept 28th and Oct 1st.
28 A CIA analysis states that “the Agency and its field stations, particularly Mexico City and Miami, were not unmindful of the possibility that Oswald did not act alone”: CIA analysis, undated, Russ Holmes Work File/NARA Record Number: 104-10422-10024.
29 In the moments after the assassination, Mexico City chief of station Win Scott asked Ann Goodpasture for the station’s information on Oswald, as she understood the tape and phone set-up better than anyone: “Background on Mexico Station Support Assets”, from Anne Goodpasture to John Leader, IG Staff, 2/10/77, HSCA Segregated CIA Collection, Box 3/NARA Record Number: 104-10050-10005.
30 Goodpasture finally admitted in 1995 that she gave Scott a duplicate tape of the Oct 1 conversation, the last of the Oswald phone calls: Deposition of Anne Goodpasture, 1995 deposition, p. 147. She denied this tape existed at her 1978 deposition.
Goodpasture states that she obtained the tape from tape technician Arnold Arehart, who had a special rack set aside for all the tapes from the Cuban consulate. This is the man who ran the LIENVOY intercept center for the Americans. His real name is Charles E. Flick, based on two sources. One source is author Gus Russo, Brothers in Arms, p. 274. Also, Arehart’s real name can be found at item 73 of this black notebook used to identify officers using pseudonyms: HSCA Segregated CIA Collection, Box 18/NARA Record Number: 1993.07.17.08:10:45:620630.
31 Back on October 8, Goodpasture had provided the incorrect background information. As related in the previous chapter, she had claimed that the Mystery Man photos were taken on October 1, but it was actually taken on October 2: Cable, MEXI to DIR, October 9, 1963, HSCA CIA Segregated Collection, JFK/CIA RIF# 104-10052-10062.
32 Given the Mystery Man description of Oswald that Goodpasture provided to Whitten’s office back in October, it was time to get the bad news out there: Letter from Win Scott to J. C. King, 11/22/63, ARRB 1995 Releases/NARA Record Number: 104-10015-10310.
33 Mexico City admitted seeing Oswald on TV the night of 11/22 and “obvious photos sent to Dallas were not iden with Lee Oswald held Dallas”: Memo from Scott to Director, CIA, 11/23/63, Russ Holmes Work File/NARA Record Number: 104-10400-10298.
34 Eldon Rudd left with Scott’s package at 10:00 pm CST, with the naval attache flying the plane: “Review of Agency Holdings Regarding Unidentified Individual I”, p. 28: HSCA Segregated CIA Collection, Box 60/NARA Record Number: 1993.07.22.15:28:48:280340.
35 Whitten sent DIR 84821 at 1 am that night saying to “send staffer with all photos Oswald to HQs on next available flight. Call Mr. Whitten at 652-6827 upon arrival.”: Russ Holmes Work File/NARA Record Number: 104-10422-10253.
36 No need send staffer with photos. We have asked Navy for photos again, but Mexi can see Oswald’s picture sooner on the press wire: “PWO” (Charlotte Bustos) then sent DIR 84822, the very next cable. Oswald 201 File (201-289248)/NARA Record Number: 104-10015-10317.
Heitman, who passed away in 2013, appears to be a master of deception:
1. As seen shortly, everyone agrees that his office received at least a transcript and the Mystery Man photos from FBI agent Eldon Rudd the night of the assassination, but Heitman only identified the photos in his report. Why did he fail to identify the transcript?
2. Heitman interviewed Manuel Rodriguez Orcarberro, who hosted meetings of Alpha-66 at Salazar’s home at 3126 Harlandale, and Heitman managed to cause great confusion by misspelling the address as “Hollendale”. This issue was addressed by researcher Paul Hoch, and the CIA wrote its own memorandum on the subject trying to sort it out.
3. It has been suggested that Manuel Rodriguez Orcarberro (hereinafter “Rodriguez”) impersonated Oswald. Heitman’s description of Rodriguez at his 5/20/64 interview was “5 foot 11, 158 pounds, dark-complected”.
However, when Rodriguez entered the US in November 1960 at age 32, INS described his height at 5 foot 9 (the same as Oswald) and his weight at 145 pounds (similar to Oswald’s 130-150 pound weight range). FBI rap sheet for Manuel Orcarberro Rodriguez, 3/9/64, Commission Document 853.
In the report on a sighting of Rodriguez of 11/17/63, he is described as “light complexion”. (To be fair, the witness also estimated that he was 6 feet tall and 170 pounds, but the emphasis of his observations was that the other two men were dark-complected while Rodriguez was light-complected).
4. Heitman and another agent dressed in doctor’s gowns outside the surgery room hoping to get a dying declaration from Lee Harvey Oswald. Not illegal, but this deception was kept secret for many years for no good reason.
5. Heitman was the one who changed the Dallas police description of the Minox camera into a “light meter” (see item 375), which contradicted the specific finding of Guy Rose of the Dallas police that it was a camera and not a light meter. When it became a major issue, the Oswalds’ host Michael Paine came forward and said the Minox was his camera. By definition, a #27259 camera is a Minox II, as that model goes up to #31500. John Armstrong, Harvey and Lee, p. 910. Nonetheless, Paine’s camera was mistakenly logged in as a Minox III. Paine’s camera was returned to him. A real Minox III is sitting in the Archives today, and that is Oswald’s Minox. It is currently jammed and thus the serial number remains unknown. A professional should be brought to the Archives and to obtain the serial number and anything more that can be learned. Also see Carol Hewett’s Minox articles, the best on the subject that I know of: “The Paines’ Participation in the Minox Camera Charade”, Part 1, http://www.ctka.net/pr1196-minox.html; both Part 1 and Part 2 are contained in The Assassinations, pp. 238-249.
6. Jim Hosty described Heitman as the “puppet” of Bill Branigan, “the section chief of all Russian espionage cases”. Hosty, Assignment: Oswald, p. 103.
7. Heitman put together the deceptive FBI inventory list on 11/26/63, which ignored the fact that most of the items had already been shipped to the FBI and Washington and back again without a chain of custody sheet of any kind. We don’t really know everything that went. The Dallas police then belatedly created an inventory sheet on 11/26/63, then provided this evidence to Heitman.
For the second shipping of the exhibits to FBI HQ on 11/26/63, Heitman listed photographs of the arrest wallet and its contents (item B-1) – but not the actual wallet and its contents -, the Marine photo (item 114) and a red billfold (item 382). Only “the Marine photo” - not the brown billfold - is on Heitman’s original 11/26/63 FBI inventory sheet, even though the brown billfold was listed on the 11/26/63 Dallas inventory sheet. The brown billfold is listed on the FBI’s later-created inventory sheet. These items were not listed as found in either of the searches done on 11/22/63 at Oswald’s rooming house or at the two searches of his wife’s residence at the Paine home on 11/22/63 (Stovall Exhibit A) or 11/23/63 (Stovall Exhibit B). None of these wallets can be found in the photographs taken at Dallas Police Headquarters. When and where were these wallets found? (Dallas homicide chief Fritz had custody of the arrest wallet as of 11/24)
The brown billfold was allegedly found at Ruth Paine’s home on 11/23/63, according to the Dallas inventory, Rose, Moore, Stovall, Adamcik turned it in. Again, it’s not in the Stovall Exhibit B affidavit for the 11/23/63 search.
Two months later, FBI agent Wally Heitman reported two months after the assassination that one wallet containing $170 was supposedly found by Marina Oswald on 11/25/63 after an unknown Secret Service agent gave it back to her. Did this wallet ever make it into the inventory?
8. Many of the items on the list were also photographed in a manner that made it impossible to discern what they were. See Jim Marrs’ article “What a Difference a Day (or Two) Makes”, The Journal of History (Fall 2007).
38 Odum told Hosty that Heitman handed Rudd a transcript as well as photographic material: Jim Hosty, Assignment Oswald, p. 36.
40 The Dallas FBI chief Gordon Shanklin said that Mexico City legal attaché Clark Anderson gave Rudd a transcript to bring. People have wondered if Anderson also gave Rudd a tape, or if a tape was played for the FBI agents in Dallas: Memorandum to File by Dallas SAC Gordon Shanklin, 11/23/63, Church Committee Boxed Files/NARA Record Number: 157-10014-10168.
Here is another version of this FBI memo – when you put the two of them together, you can read the entire document.
41 Include tapes previous reviewed Dallas if they were returned to you: Church Committee Staff Memo of 3/5/76; NARA #157-10014-10168. Here are two copies of Turner’s 11/25/63 memo to the Mexican legat: ADMIN FOLDER-H11: HSCA ADMINISTRATIVE FOLDER, OUTGOING FIELD VOL I, p. 378 (01/27/64) RIF#: 124-10371-10186.
42 Dallas FBI chief Shanklin mused in his report that Hoover’s right-hand man Alan Belmont had told him that “we have on file practically all the information on Oswald down there in Mexico City except the fact that CIA had secured some information that this individual very probably called from the Cuban Embassy to the Russian Embassy”: Memorandum to File, FBI Dallas SAC Gordon Shanklin, 11/23/63. Church Committee Boxed Files/NARA Record Number: 157-10014-10168.
Here is another version of this FBI memo – when you put the two of them together, you can read the entire document.
From Shanklin to File, 11/22/63, it says:
“Assistant to the Director BELMONT advised that we have in our file practically all the information from Mexico City regarding OSWALD’s visit or trip to Mexico except the fact that CIA had secured some information that this individual very probably called from the Cuban Embassy to the Russian Embassy. They later photographed him going in the Russian Embassy, and ANDERSON has arranged for a transcript of the call, as well as pictures, and SA ELDON RUDD is flying up with a Naval Attache on a DC-3 scheduled to arrive Dallas about 1:00 AM, and we should make arrangements to meet him and secure this information. He thought RUDD would probably be coming in at Love Field.”
43 The following officers swore under penalty of perjury that the tapes did not exist by the time of the assassination: David Phillips (twice), Ann Goodpasture, Robert Shaw, and Deputy Chief of Station Alan P. White. Lopez Report, Endnotes, p. 42, endnote 614.
44 Goodpasture said that it was her understanding that Rudd was given a tape to take to Texas and that Scott had a copy “squirreled away in his safe”: Anne Goodpasture deposition, 12/15/95 deposition, p. 147.
45 Warren Commission staffers David Slawson and William Coleman admitted in a 2003 interview that White was the one who actually played the Oswald tape for them in Mexico City during April 1964: This admission was made in interviews conducted by the authors Gus Russo and Stephen Moulton, recounted in Brothers in Arms (New York, Bloomsbury, 2008), p. 312.
46 “I don’t know when the voice comparison was made…they made a copy at the tap center…there would have been two copies of the conversation; one the master tape, the other one with a segment of a single conversation on it…I’m sure they would have sent it to Washington. What happened from there, I don’t know.”: Goodpasture deposition, pp. 143-144, 12/15/95.
47 Under penalty of perjury, the following officers testified that a tape of an alleged phone call of Oswald in Mexico City was no longer in existence by the time of the assassination:
David Phillips deposition, 11/27/76, p. 63: Phillips says in 1976 that he’s not certain if the tape was destroyed at the time of the assassination, but then says that “My understanding is that it went with the other tapes back to the outside unit and was reused.”
David Phillips deposition, 4/25/78, p. 17. “Not to my knowledge.” At p. 23. “My firm recollection that a tape did not exist after the assassination.”
Ann Goodpasture, deposition, 4/13/78, p. 94 (at National Archives)
Robert Shaw, deposition, 5/16/78, p. 29. “As far as having the tape with Oswald’s voice on it, I seriously doubt it.”
Alan White, deposition, 5/8/78, p. 20. (at National Archives)
On the other hand, see the deposition of John Whitten. Whitten testified that he thought a tape was in existence. 5/16/78, pp. 76-77: “I think so…I had the impression that after the assassination they did a lot of transcribing… both the staff of our envoy and our Soviet transcriber. I may be wrong…”.
Although not deposed to my knowledge, Bert Turner asked Mexico City to send to him “tapes previously reviewed Dallas if they were returned to you”.
48 At 9:15 am, Shanklin told Belmont that Oswald was impersonated on the September 28 call: Memo from Gordon Shanklin to FBI supervisor Alan Belmont, 11/23/63, NARA No. 157-10006-10262. Referenced by John Armstrong, Harvey and Lee, p. 915. This is a summary; this is the complete document:
49 In the old days, Oswald's return to the US after his redefection would have been the highest priority for the counterintelligence community. However, when Al Belmont left the bureau, its CI (internal security) operations fell apart: Paul Wallach, Memorandum for the Record, 10/28/75, p. 2, Church Committee Boxed Files/ NARA Record Number: 157-10014-10120.
51 Peter Dale Scott suggests that “this language is a lawyer's subterfuge: what was received and listened to was precisely not a recording of Oswald's voice.”: Peter Dale Scott, Deep Politics III, “Overview: The CIA, Drug Traffic, and Oswald in Mexico”, December 2000.
52 “Station unable compare voice as first tape erased prior receipt of second call.”…Tips from Shanklin in 1963 and Goodpasture herself in 1995 establish that at least portions of both the September 28 tape and the October 1 tape were in existence at the time of the assassination: Memo from R. B. Riggs (Ann Goodpasture), Mexico City station to CIAHQ, MEXI-7023 (DIR 84920) 11/23/63.
The above memo has the Zulu time on it, also known as Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). The memo says “231659Z”, or the 23rd of the month, at 1659 Zulu. As the Zulu or GMT time is 1659, that means that Goodpasture wrote her memo at 11:59 am EST, which is five hours earlier.
53 Goodpasture put out a big story. She said that "Douglas J. Feinglass (note: Boris Tarasoff’s pseudonym) who did transcriptions says Oswald is identical to the person para one speaking broken Russian who called from Cuban embassy September 28 to Soviet embassy": Memo from Mexico City station to CIA HQ, 11/23/63, NARA Record Number: 104-10414-10330.
54 Even five years later, when Goodpasture wrote a history of the JFK case, she referred to Tarasoff merely as “Transcriber” and said nothing about Oswald’s supposed “terrible Russian”: Ann Goodpasture, Mexico City Chronology (written between 1967-1969), p. 7 of 133, NARA Record Number: 104-10086-10001.
Even during the 1990s, Goodpasture pretended that Tarasoff found out about the match between the Sept 28 and Oct 1 calls after the Oct 10 cable from HQ, saying "that's what I think" in her 1995 deposition.
Goodpasture had to stretch the time out as long as possible, to make it look like the tapes were routinely destroyed two weeks after their creation. Goodpasture had to admit that Tarasoff matched up the two calls by mid-October. She had to stay in line with the documentary record, because Barbara Manell at the Soviet desk in Mexico City wrote a memo to the FBI on October 16th saying that Oswald talked with Kostikov of the Soviet embassy on Sept 28 as well as the contact with the embassy on Oct. 1.
Goodpasture was never confronted with Tarasoff’s testimony that he matched the voice of Oswald on the October 1 call immediately after it was made with the voice of Oswald on the September 28 call. See Boris Tarasoff deposition, 4/12/78, p. 32.
The discussion about when Goodpasture learned about the match is right near the end of her 12/95 deposition.
55 The Secret Service’s letter was hand-delivered on the morning of the 24th, indicating that the Secret Service and LBJ got the correct story while everyone else got the cover story: Hoover memo to Chief James Rowley, Secret Service, 11/23/63, written by his aide “JLH”. A note says the memo was delivered “for Rowley at 10:15 am 11/24/63”.
Hoover memo to LBJ, 11/23/63, written by his aide Fletcher Thompson: Russ Holmes Work File/NARA No. 104-10419-10022. A handwritten note says “delivered 11-23-63”. In 1976, the FBI wrote a memo saying that the comment about the tapes being in existence was an error.
56 After Scott saw the photos of Oswald on TV the night of the assassination, he wrote HQ saying that he suggested to Gustavo Ortiz (LITEMPO-2) that Duran be arrested and held incommunicado until she gives all details on Oswald…: Memo from Win Scott to HQ, 11/23/63, Russ Holmes Work File/NARA Record Number: 104-10422-10090.
Gustavo Ordaz is LITEMPO-2: See “LITEMPO: The CIA’s Eyes on Tlatelolco”, Jefferson Morley, National Security Archive.
Ordaz, who became president of Mexico from 1964-70 and was a presidential candidate at the time of the assassination, was securely within the US sphere of influence.
57 The Mexicans told Scott that they would pretend that the decision to arrest Duran came from “Mexican initiative” rather than from Scott: See Scott’s notes on routing sheet of 11/23/63, Russ Holmes Work File/NARA Record Number: 104-10400-10298.
58 The official record of Duran’s interview is missing. We have a third-hand version, summarized and translated into English: FBI legat Clark Anderson’s summary report on Mexico City, 6/22/64, pp. 35-41, Oswald 201 File, Box 17, Vol 3/NARA Record Number: 1993.06.25.18:17:23:900330.
59 The first report from Easby states that “Echevierra told COS Duran was completely cooperative.”…: In fact, Duran was abused. R. L. Easby to Director, CIA, MEXI-7046, 11/23/63, ARRB 1995 Releases/NARA Record Number: 104-10015-10274.
60 From a conversation she had with Ed Lopez, we know that she said that her interrogators mistreated her: Peter Dale Scott interviewed Ed Lopez, who told him that “off the record, Ms. Duran said that she was tortured badly, and that indeed in recalling this she had broken down and wept. She had however declined to say anything about the torture on the record because, as a citizen and resident of Mexico, she feared reprisal.” Peter Dale Scott, Deep Politics II, (Mary Ferrell Foundation, 3d. ed. 2003) p. 38.
61 Duran was interrogated by Fernando Barrios, a man we will see again in a similar interrogation within the same week: Sylvia Duran’s Previous Statement Regarding Oswald’s Visit to the de Consul, HSCA Segregated CIA Collection (staff notes)/NARA Record Number: 180-10142-10131.
Also see Lopez Report, p. 254, and HSCA Report, Volume 3, p. 86.
62 Significantly, she was asked if she had intimate relations with Oswald. The initial report of her interrogation alludes to this, stating that Duran gave Oswald “on a piece of paper, her name Silvia Duran with the office telephone number but that Oswald was not given her address since he had no reason to have it.”: Commission Document 426 – Helms letter of 2/21/64 re results of the Duran interrogation, page 4, paragraph 11.
63 Historian Gerald McKnight states that “the line of questioning originated with COS Win Scott. The CIA was trying to force Duran to confess to entrapping Oswald, luring him with sexual favors into a Cuban conspiracy to kill JFK.”: Gerald McKnight, Breach of Trust (2005), p. 78.
64 Angleton got a call from Golitsyn “immediately” after the assassination, telling him that “the modus operandi with any defector from anybody’s army to the Soviet Union required that he go through processing by the 13th Department of the KGB.”: Deposition of James Angleton, 6/19/75, p. 66, Church Committee Boxed Files/NARA Record Number: 157-10014-10005.
Also see Church Committee counsel Paul Wallach recounting a subsequent 10/3/75 discussion with Angleton, Memorandum for the Record, 10/28/75, Church Committee Boxed Files/NARA Record Number: 157-10014-10120.
65 Bagley insisted there was strong proof that Kostikov was a member of the KGB’s 13th Department in charge of assassinations: 11/23/63 memo from C/SR/CI Tennent “Pete” Bagley to Richard Helms, Contact of Lee Oswald with a member of Soviet KGB Assassination Department, Oswald 201 File (201-289248)/NARA Record Number: 104-10015-10057.
66 The CIA’s belief that Kostikov was Dept. 13 was based solely on a “clandestine contact” that the CIA was trying to hide as recently as 1999: Blind memo prepared by C/CI/SIG Birch D. O’Neal and Tennent Bagley to FBI liaison Sam Papich, page 5, (11/27/63) Russ Holmes Work File/NARA Record Number: 104-10440-10057.
68 The FBI’s response to Golitsyn’s claim was that neither agency could be certain that Kostikov was part of the 13th Department: Memo from J. Edgar Hoover to CIA Director John McCone, 9/1/64, ADMIN FOLDER-X6: HSCA ADMINISTRATIVE FOLDER, CIA REPORTS LHO, p. 51, RIF#: 124-10369-10063.
On 11/27/63, the FBI supervisors conceded only that it was “possible” that Kostikov was with the 13th Department. See Memo from D. J. Brennan to William Sullivan, 11/27/63, Russ Holmes Work File/NARA Record Number: 104-10419-10024.
69 Bagley was the chief counterspy for the Soviet Russia division, and had been stationed in Switzerland (eventually to become station chief) during the time that Oswald was due to attend Albert Schweitzer College: Joseph R. Daughen and John J. Farmer, “A Bitter Feud Paralyzes the CIA”, Philadelphia Bulletin, 9/23/79, Reel 45, Folder B - LEE HARVEY OSWALD, p. 2. NARA Record Number: 1994.08.24.15:39:22:500028.
70 The aforementioned October 16 Mexico City memo said that “Lee Henry Oswald” had talked with Kostikov on September 28…: Memo from Mexico City station chief Win Scott to Ambassador Thomas Mann, 10/16/63, NARA Record Number: 104-10088-10321. ../showDoc.html?absPageId=1205881
72 Golitsyn played a role in sparking the conversation about Department 13, as he called Angleton on the day of the assassination and told him that “the modus operandi with any defector from anybody’s army to the Soviet Union required that he go through processing by the 13th Department of the KGB: Angleton deposition, 6/19/75, p. 66. Angleton later admitted that “now, when the Soviet Department turned over to the US all the documents that led to the interest regarding Oswald’s stay in the Soviet Union, there was nothing there indicating processing by Department 13.” Id.
73 The FBI did not want to let Golitsyn see their intelligence, saying that “unlike the CIA and the British”, it was against their policy to provide such material to defectors: Memo from A. Rosen to Alan Belmont, p. 2, 1/28/64, NARA Record Number: 124-10369-10003.
74 By December 20, Win Scott wrote his superior that the CIA wasn’t even sure whether Kostikov was KGB or GRU (Soviet military intelligence), which meant that Scott was uncertain whether Kostikov was part of KGB’s Department 13: Memo from Win Scott to Western Hemisphere chief J. C. King, 12/20/63, HSCA Segregated CIA Collection, Box 12/NARA Record Number: 104-10068-10183.
75 In any case, FBI counterintelligence head Bill Branigan told Division 5 chief William Sullivan that there was “no indication that Lee Harvey Oswald was ever recruited or trained by Department 13”: Bill Branigan to William Sullivan, 1/14/64, p. 2, Russ Holmes Work File, 104-10419-10022.
76 A report on Soviet use of assassination and kidnapping focused on attacks on a White Russian official in 1954, Radio Free Europe in 1959, and what was known as “the Stashinsky murders” of the 1950s: “Soviet Use of Assassination and Kidnapping”, 2/17/64, Russ Holmes Work File/NARA Record Number: 104-10423-10278.
77 The last case cited in the article is 1961, with the last page of the study concluding that “the assassination of an Allied official would be highly unlikely and probably unprofitable”: Id., and see this interesting 6/11/75 letter from by a German citizen to the CIA, Russ Holmes Work File/NARA Record Number: 104-10423-10278.
78 Hoover went to great lengths to point out that the FBI had provided all this information to the CIA before the assassination, and the CIA’s response had been to write a memo in June 1963 saying there was no proof to support the claim that Kostikov was part of Department 13: Memo from J. Edgar Hoover to CIA Director John McCone, 9/1/64, ADMIN FOLDER-X6: HSCA ADMINISTRATIVE FOLDER, CIA REPORTS LHO, p. 51, RIF#: 124-10369-10063.
79 By 1976, Angleton testified to the Church Committee that there was never any confirmation of the Department 13 story: Deposition of James Angleton, 2/6/76, p. 60, Church Committee Boxed Files/NARA Record Number: 157-10014-10003.
80 CIA counterintelligence chief David Blee admitted in 1982 that the CIA was never able to prove that Kostikov was part of Department 13, and that the last known assassination attempt conducted by that agency was in 1959: Memo by CI chief David Blee to REDACTED, 5/21/82, NARA Record Number: 104-10012-10022.
81 Gittinger said that “our tests showed Golitsyn was clinically paranoid. I know I wouldn’t trust him any further than I could throw a bomber…: Tom Mangold, Cold Warrior, p. 86-87. Mangold’s interview with Dr. John Gittinger, 11/23/88.
82 The period of Whitten’s leadership role has been described as the “GPFLOOR phase” that focused on the cable traffic around the world and the focus on Oswald’s activities in Mexico City: Deposition of Ray Rocca, 7/17/78, p. 9. The term “RYBAT GPFLOOR” to refer to the assassination was not used until Whitten requested it on 12/5/63: HSCA Segregated CIA Collection, Box 17/NARA Record Number: 104-10077-10273.
83 The GPFLOOR phase of the investigation lasted from immediately after the assassination until mid-January. During this period, Whitten and his boss J. C. King (C/WHD) were the two Washingtonians in charge: Meeting of Rocca with members of the Senate Select Committee staff, 11/13/75, p. 2, DDP (Deputy Director for Plans) Files/NARA Record Number: 104-10310-10121.
84 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 of their instances of double dealing: Memo from D. J. Brennan to William Sullivan, re CIA Operations in the US, 1/15/64 (see endnote 16)
85 Rocca intoned that “here is the assembled file”, and added that these documents were too sensitive to be shared with the FBI: Handwritten note from Ray Rocca to John (Jack) Whitten, 11/24/63, 1 am. Oswald 201 File (201-289248)/NARA Record Number: 104-10015-10013.
This three-page note to Whitten begins by saying "here is the assembled file" - if you take a look at the documents Rocca is referring to, the two that hold Rocca’s greatest interest in illustrate his built-in bias in this case.
He mentions MEXI 7046 which is about Duran being completely cooperative, that LHO showed her his passport showing a long time in the USSR (which means he brought both passports), that Mann is "delighted" with her arrest.
Then, where action needs to be taken or is pending, Rocca mentions...
MEXI 7027 which is simply a request for HQ to provide the latest on Oswald's movements pre-11/22.
MONT 8398 from Montivideo, as Rocca pretty much admits, is junk and a waste of time (chasing another stray comment by a Cuban).
MEXI 7030 - found a couple cars outside Cuban embassy, turned out no big deal.
MEXI 7039 – As discussed below, Duran was seen in a couple of cars with Texas plates back in Jan. 63. Office of Security ran the plates. Duran was questioned about this story, which never went anywhere.
MEXI 7043 - On 11/23, car with California plates parked outside Soviet embassy – again, Duran was quizzed on this, which never went anywhere.
As an aside, why didn’t Rocca ever consider that Oswald was reading Ian Fleming’s James Bond stories like The Spy Who Loved Me and Live or Let Die right alongside George Orwell’s 1984? That would have probably given him more insight into Oswald’s mind than anything else.
86 “Priority” was given to the possibility that Duran might have been exchanging information for sexual favors – this lead never went anywhere, but an unfounded rumor that Oswald and Duran had sexual relations has persisted in CIA circles ever since 11/22/63: Memo from Robert Shaw (Lawrence F. Barker) to CIA HQ, 11/23/63, MEXI-7039, HSCA Segregated CIA Collection (microfilm - reel 7: Duque - Golitsyn)/NARA Record Number: 104-10169-10458.
After the Office of Security ran the plates, the names of Carol Soles, Richard Aranda and Harry Lee Saffe were found. This story about these three men never gained any traction, but set the stage for a continued whispering campaign aimed at Duran.
87 The attachments to Rocca’s note point right to the link between Cortes and Castro’s lover and aide Celia Sanchez: Both of them were close to Maria Witoski, also known as AMKIRK-1:
By 1962, Cobb has been accepted by the CIA as a contract agent: Request for PRQ II for Cobb, by Clyde Shryock, 8/29/62, p. 3. HSCA Segregated CIA Collection (microfilm - reel 11: June Cobb)/NARA Record Number: 104-10266-10024.
The last page that we have of Rocca’s writings are six reports about Cortes. He attached the first report as a backgrounder on Cortes, and then cites the remaining five reports:
1. CSCI-3/765,420 - Background on how Cortez first came to Cuba in 58 with the Shepard company, concessionaire of the Capri Casino - Cortez was supposedly a lawyer interested in a casino. The deal never happened. He kept coming every month. Friends with the rebel army. Friend of Che Guevara. Made trips to US and Canada to buy pieces of tanks and other materials as if they were for Mexico. Part of project: AMCONCERT (Note: AMCONCERT-1 worked closely with Tony Sforza in 1962 with the aforementioned plan to recruit Rolando Cubela, known as AMLASH, who told everybody that he wanted to assassinate Castro).
2. MEXI-8884/IN 27356 - 12 Sept 61 - Mexican Customs had seized their parts being shipped to Cuba. LIFEAT picked up Cortes telling colleague Lorenzo Sanders - don't be intimidated - tell them you didn't know where it was going. They also discussed possible purchase of merchandise in Oklahoma (note: Cobb was from an Oklahoma family.) LIFEAT also picked up another conversation with former manager Antonio Montera, saying his resignation was being backdated to 10/30/60.
(Note: It became illegal to ship goods between the countries in early Jan. 1961)
3. DIR 37044/OUT 93205 - 23 Jan 62 - Four months later, HQ made a "request priority reply re status of shipment".
4. CS 3/503,249 – 6 Mar 62 – the Cubans were complaining about the parts quality, and Cortes threatened to hurt them economically if they continued to complain. Cortes and his colleague Ignacio Hernandez at the Capri were friends with high-ranking Cuban officials.
5. MEXI 1565/IN 37782 - 1 Aug 62 - Amkirk-1 writes Cobb accepting her invitation to come to Mexico, even just for a week - asks about whereabouts of
Cortes and "Henry", and then repeats at end "please" try locate Cortes or "Henry". Henry was almost certainly Harry Hermsdorf, Cobb’s case officer.
6. DIR 27386/OUT 61626 - 2 Aug 62 – Request to get AMKIRK-1 to come out to Mexico, with a promise to pay a lot of the expenses.
88 By early December, CI-SIG chief Birch O’Neal confirmed that a French diplomat outside of the US was saying JFK was killed due to a joint plot by the Chinese government and Castro, with Cortes and Saavedra in the middle of it all. O’Neal also admits that the tips from the French diplomat “have proven to be not too reliable: Memo from JMWAVE to Director, 12/9/63, Russ Holmes Work File/NARA Record Number: 104-10400-10216.
Oswald 201 File (201-289248)/NARA Record Number: 104-10018-10004.
89 Cortes denied ever meeting Castro’s mistress Celia Sanchez, but remembered Witoski telling him about her friendship with her: Interview by SA H.T. Burk with Ramon Cortes, 12/10/63, Commission Document 188.
90 Cortes received criminal immunity in return for his continued cooperation about the Cubans: Memo from Director, FBI to Legat, Mexico, FBI - HSCA Subject File: Church Committee/NARA Record Number: 124-10289-10056.
91 The CIA agrees not to provide the sources in the Cortes investigation to the FBI: Memo from JMWAVE to Director, 12/12/63, HSCA Segregated CIA Collection, Box 17/NARA Record Number: 104-10076-10385.
92 The next day, November 24, Angleton learned from Win Scott that Cubela had met with Kostikov at the Soviet consulate back in late 1962: Memo from Win Scott to Director, 11/24/63, NARA Record Number: 104-10055-10054. See George Michael Evica, A Certain Arrogance, p. 45. Also see Peter Dale Scott, Deep Politics and the Death of JFK, p. 324, note 26. This memo was prepared by Mexico City in response to a Headquarters request to provide “all known contacts of certain Soviet personnel”.
93 Angleton claimed that FitzGerald would only provide Cubela’s 201 file, and refused to provide the Cubela operational file to his staff or to the Warren Commission: Edward Jay Epstein, Legend, p. 254.
Evan Thomas, The Very Best Men, at pp. 306-309, backs up the story that FitzGerald refused to provide the Cubela information, and he says that the SAS information was compartmentalized and even Angleton could not get at it even after sending out a routine trace on Cubela.
Thomas says that SAS' exemption from queries created a situation. "Technically, (FitzGerald) did not have to answer. Still, under the circumstances, it would seem proper to cooperate in the CIA's own investigation of the president's murder.
"But FitzGerald was wary of the CIA's chief of CI, James Jesus Angelton. The legendary mole hunter was growing increasingly drunken and conspiratorial in the 1960s..."What would he have made of Cubela and his link to Kostikov? FitzGerald thought Angleton was mentally unstable. If Angleton was allowed into the SAS vault, Castro was safe; all action against him would stop. Angleton never did catch any moles, for all his machinations.
"There is not a goddamned thing Angleton or his henchmen could have come up with," insisted Halpern in 1993. "Des thought, what the hell is Jim going to tell me?"
94 With all the interest that both the FBI and the CIA had in Cubela over the years, Angleton’s claim that he did not know about Cubela’s background is not credible: See George Michael Evica, A Certain Arrogance, p. 46; see The CIA Inspector General’s report on Plots to Assassinate Fidel Castro (1967).
95 Equally incredible is Helms’ and FitzGerald’s testimony that they did not “ask” Cubela to assassinate Castro: Alleged Assassination Plots Involving Foreign Leaders, p. 87.
96 From the moment of the assassination, FitzGerald was concerned that the assassin came from the ranks of the anti-Castro Cubans. FitzGerald was close to JFK, and wept when Oswald was killed, saying, “Now we’ll never know.”: Evan Thomas, The Very Best Men, p. 305-308.
97 Shackley did not feel he had any duty to investigate the assassination. "I was just told to watch the island." said Ted Shackley. "The mainland was the FBI's territory.": Thomas, The Very Best Men, at pp. 307-308.
98 Similarly, no one from Shackley’s JMWAVE station in Miami conducted any serious investigation on the assassination: Memo by DC/SAS/FI Charles Anderson III, Memorandum for the Record, 3/22/77. (Note: Anderson can be identified by his phone number.) Russ Holmes Work File/NARA Record Number: 104-10423-10226.
Anderson set up the LIFEAT phone system for the Mexico City station, and also played a role in the set-up of LIENVOY.
99 Another officer said that when he spoke to his agents in meetings in Miami, Tampa, Nassau and Mexico City about the murder of JFK, his briefing was strictly oral and contained no written questions: Memo from CAS/PAG/COB to Inspector General, 5/16/77, HSCA Segregated CIA Collection, Box 36/NARA Record Number: 1993.07.21.11:15:45:400530.
Note that Charles W. Anderson was C/CAS/PAG/COB in 1978 - he was SAS/SA/SO in 1963.
100 JMWAVE said little on the subject other than that the Cuban exiles were in grief despite their policy differences with JFK: Memo from JMWAVE to Director, 11/24/63, WAVE 8102, HSCA Segregated CIA Collection, Box 17/NARA Record Number: 1993.08.04.16:15:46:120028.
101 The FBI men in Dallas certainly did not want Hoover or the public to know that Oswald had worked at the Jaggars photographic firm and had assisted the Army Mapping Service, an agency that was analyzing maps of Cuba obtained by U-2 flights during the height of the Cuban missile crisis: Jaggars employee Jack Bowen remembers being “present in the office of Ray Hawkins, foreman of the Photo Department, when Oswald was explaining Russian symbols on maps the firm was preparing for the United States Army.”
“Jaggars-Chiles-Stovall also had a contract with the Army Map Service to set the typescript for its maps. Although the maps themselves were not on the premises, this was nevertheless highly classified work. For one thing, the maps were made from secret aerial photographs presumably taken from spy satellites, U2 planes and other forms of clandestine reconnaissance. For another, the lists of names of cities and areas in the Soviet Union, China and Cuba which were being set, themselves provide clues to the targets of these reconnaissance missions.”
“Like all other employees of the typesetting department, Oswald had complete access to the worktables on which the secret lists of place-names for the Army Map Service were kept. In theory, these were supposed to be ‘restricted areas’ in which only employees with a security clearance from the FBI were allowed to be present. In fact, however, little effort was made to enforce these restrictions. There were no guards or security measures which prevented employees from entering the areas in which the classified work was done….It was even possible, according to Calverly, for employees to use the cameras in the plant to reproduce the list of names.”
Of all people, Ann Egerter came to the FBI’s aid, saying on 1/31/64 that she couldn’t figure out if Oswald had ever been employed by Jaggars, when it was in the newspaper that he had done photo work for Jaggars during the first days after the assassination. Shanklin and his bosses verified his last day of employment by 12/6/63.
102 Wannall was cut out of the investigation after the initial days: It is telling that one month before the assassination, Victor Vicente gave the New York FBI a copy of Oswald’s letter to VT Lee talking about plans for membership cards and collecting dues that conflicted with VT Lee's advice given in April that was also in FBI custody. Wannall to Sullivan letter, 11/23/63, FBI - HSCA Subject Files, E - F/FBI - HSCA Subject File: FPCC/NARA Record Number: 124-90120-10102.
103 A flow chart details those in charge of the espionage aspects of Oswald’s case involved the espionage chief Bill Branigan of the Domestic Intelligence Division and his men: Burt Turner, Lambert L. Anderson, Marvin Gheesling, and Charles Brennan. The department not included on this flow chart of FBI investigative structure is Ray Wannall’s Nationalities Intelligence Division, and its Cuban section: Testimony of James Malley, HSCA Report, Volume 3, p. 478.
104 It was a dual-captioned case. The defection aspects and his contact with the Soviet Embassy was the terrain of the Espionage Section; the Cuban aspects of the case fell within the jurisdiction of Nationalities Intelligence: Deposition of Richard Cotter, 5/5/76, pp. 25-26.
105 Ray Wannall testified that Nationalities Intelligence was within the Counterintelligence Branch and handled matters relating to countries other than the Soviet Union, Soviet Bloc, and Communist China: Deposition of W. Raymond Wannall, 5/11/76, p. 3, Church Committee Boxed Files/NARA Record Number: 157-10014-10010.
106 Just about the first question is: "Do you know Vince Nasca?" Wannall knows Nasca well, since 1951: Testimony of FBI Nationalities Intelligence chief W. Ray Wannall, 5/11/76, p. 6. Church Committee Boxed Files/NARA Record Number: 157-10014-10010.
107 Wannall admits who the FBI's experts were on all aspects of Cuba during Sept-Oct 1963. Anti-Castro would be Vince Nasca, and pro-Castro I guess would be Ray Mullens, not certain. Coordinated by Richard Cotter, unit chief: Id., p. 33
108 Next, Wannall admits his section had nothing to do with the JFK investigation: Testimony of FBI Nationalities Intelligence chief W. Ray Wannall, 5/11/76, pp. 36-37. Church Committee Boxed Files/NARA Record Number: 157-10014-10010.
109 Wannall’s boss Sullivan did not think that Hoover should have brushed Morgan’s revelation aside: Interview of William Sullivan, 4/21/76, p. 23, Church Committee Boxed Files/NARA Record Number: 157-10014-10061.
110 Lambert Anderson answered to Branigan and Robert Lenihan, who were the case supervisors of the Domestic Intelligence Division: It should be noted that the foot soldiers for the FBI on the "JFK murder" were Richard Rogge and Fletcher Thompson, who handled the physical evidence, from the General Investigative Division.
111 FBI supervisor Richard Cotter said Anderson was “fairly new…I wouldn’t consider him an expert on Cuba, but he did have this case.”: Testimony of Richard Cotter, p. 29, 5/7/76, Church Committee Boxed Files/NARA Record Number: 157-10014-10052.
112 Right after Oswald was murdered on November 24, Hoover told White House aide Walter Jenkins in a phone call “the thing I am concerned about, and so is Mr. Katzenbach, is having something issued so we can convince the public that Oswald is the real assassin”: Telephone call between Director J. Edgar Hoover and White House aide Walter Jenkins, 11/24/63, as documented in the Church Committee Reports, Book V, p. 33.
113 Belmont calmly remarked, “We will set forth the items of evidence which make it clear that Oswald is the man who killed the President.”: Memo from Alan Belmont to Clyde Tolson, 11/24/63, FBI 105-82555 HQ File, Section 3. This is a jaw-dropping document. Also see Donald Gibson, “The First 72 Hours”, Probe, Nov.-Dec. 1999, pp. 21-23. (also see, in particular, pages 29-31 on this link). Gibson is one of the best thinkers I have come across in the JFK case.
114 On the next day, November 25, Katzenbach wrote a devastating memo to Bill Moyers…: Memorandum from Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach to White House aide Bill Moyers, 11/25/63, FBI 62-109060 HQ file, serial 1399.
When Katzenbach got a chance to explain that memo to the HSCA fifteen years later, his first sentence was: “Because, very simply, if that was the conclusion the FBI was going to come to, then the public had to be satisfied that that was the correct conclusion.” Testimony of Nicholas Katzenbach, HSCA Appendix Volumes/Volume 3, p. 652.
115 Curiously, Katzenbach now says that “I’d almost be on the (anti-Castro) Cubans” as being in on the assassination: David Talbot, Brothers, p. 290. Also see JFK Assassination Quotes by Government Officials.
116 On November 25, Lyndon Johnson let columnist Joe Alsop know that he thought that Texas officials should resolve the case with the aid of the FBI: Telephone Conversation, LBJ-Joe Alsop, 25 Nov 1963, 10:40AM, p. 3.
117 Months later, when David Slawson met with Win Scott in Mexico City, he made a point of citing the provocations of three men during the first two weeks after the assassination: Gilberto Alvarado, Salvador Diaz Verson, and Oscar Gutierrez Valencia: “Memo: Trip to Mexico City.” David Slawson, 4/22/64, p. 10, Russ Holmes Work File/NARA Record Number: 104-10422-10291.
Alvarado, Diaz Verson, and Gutierrez merit a longer discussion. The other three foreign yarns were about “Martino-Roja”, “Victor Cohen”, and “a Stanford University student”. The first two were clearly wild goose chases seemingly designed to waste time. I still haven’t figured out which Stanford University student Slawson was thinking about.
I believe that “Martino-Roja” is a reference to John Martino spreading his story about “Operation Red Cross”, a June 1963 joint Miami station/Life Magazine/private individual adventure to supposedly rescue Soviet officers who could “prove” that missiles still remained in Cuba. After the assassination, Martino also spread numerous false stories right after the assassination about Oswald in Miami and engaging in “Red” pro-Castro activities. Martino admitted near the end of his life that he made these stories up and that he was involved in the killing of JFK. See the final chapter.
The Victor Cohen story was a great way to waste time. This involved a phony letter falsely claiming that Cohen, a Jewish Mexican businessman, was a close friend of Fidel Castro. Investigation revealed that while Victor Cohen was apolitical, he was involved in guns trafficking. His father Isaac Cohen was a prominent Communist activist in Mexico City.
When Clark Anderson dedicated five pages in his 200-page Mexico City June 1964 report to exonerate Victor Cohen, he identified Isaac Cohen as his father but carefully eliminated any reference to Isaac Cohen’s Communist background.
118 HSCA counsel Dan Hardaway was convinced that Phillips was in charge of the disinformation passed on during the cover-up phase: Gaeton Fonzi, The Last Investigation, p. 293.
119 On November 27, a conversation between CI/SIG chief Birch O'Neal and FBI liaison Sam Papich on 11/27 reveals that further analysis of Department 13 led them to believe that Kostikov is probably not a modern-day Antichrist: Tom Mangold, Cold Warrior, p. 170. Peter Dale Scott,Deep Politics II, p. 42. Phone conversation between Sam Papich, FBI and Birch O’Neal, CI-SIG, 11/27/63, HSCA Segregated CIA Collection, Box 60/NARA Record Number: 1993.07.27.15:07:49:750520.
120 Not only was this phone call transcribed, but O’Neal wrote his own memo summarizing the call: Memorandum by Birch O’Neal re Lee Harvey Oswald, 11/27/63, Russ Holmes Work File/NARA Record Number: 104-10404-10278.
121 Bagley now admitted that although Kostikov was KGB, the claim that he was with Department 13 was based solely on Kostikov’s involvement with TUMBLEWEED: CI/SIG blind memo from O’Neal to Papich, 11/27/63.
122 Over the next three days, the phony Alvarado evidence forced President Lyndon Johnson to change his mind about Texans leading the assassination investigation: Telephone conversation between President Lyndon B. Johnson and Senator Richard Russell, 11/29/63, pp. 2-3.
123 After getting a look at CD 1 on December 6, Whitten wrote a memo to CIA Director McCone and other higher-ups stating, “There was absolutely no mention of the CIA in the report.”: “Screening the FBI Report on the Oswald Case”, memo from John Whitten to DDP Richard Helms, 12/6/63, HSCA Segregated CIA Collection, Box 18, NARA Record Number: 1993.07.17.10:59:11:030460. Also see Gerald McKnight, Breach of Trust, p. 84.
124 Wittingly or unwittingly, Whitten’s action let anyone who knew the truth know that the Oswald imposter story – which is probably what the Mexico City station was referring to years later as “the Identity Case” – was not currently in consideration by the FBI and that it was probably safe to omit it from the investigation: IDENTITY was a code used by the CIA when they didn’t know someone’s name or the information was sensitive. One 201 file was literally named 201-IDENTITY.
As early as 11/27/63, the CIA was running traces on “Harvey Lee Oswald”, without success. This memo stems from DIR 85133. Although I can’t find the memo on MFF, there is a reference to part of it, which states that “stations should carefully examine material obtained from a specified and sensitive reliable source, ‘because of the obvious significance of any scrap of information which bears on (the) assassination issue.’ The Desk Officer in charge of the CIA investigation was unaware that such a message had been sent out and was at the time unaware of the sensitive and reliable source involved.”
The Church Committee said that “The precise text of this cable paraphrased to protect sensitive intelligence sources and methods”. Was it simply protecting discussion about wiretap operations, or was there also a reference to Harvey Lee Oswald in the original cable? It was written by R.T. Walsh, WE/SPO.
125 On that same day, the CIA completed its own preliminary biographical study of Oswald: Preliminary Biographical Study of Lee Harvey Oswald, 12/6/63, Oswald 201 File, Vol 5, Part 1.
127 Whitten wrote a memo to Helms on 12/11/63 stating what his plans were for the investigation. Helms initialed his responses to each paragraph, including agreement to give Whitten leave from his present job as WH/3: Memorandum from John Whitten to Richard Helms, 12/11/63, Russ Holmes Work File/NARA Record Number: 104-10423-10242.
128 Whitten did flag the concern that CD 1 might reveal the phone tap operations in Mexico “because the Soviets would see that the FBI had advance information on the reason for Oswald’s visit to the Soviet Embassy”: Id.
129 Chief Justice Earl Warren and chief counsel J. Lee Rankin discussed the problem and decided that they would need “some investigative staff” of their own…: Warren Commission Executive Session, December 16, 1963, pp. 43-44.
130 Whitten proceeds to write a memo entitled “We Discover Lee Oswald in Mexico City”: A note on the routing sheet indicates that it was circulated on or about the 17th. Memo by John Whitten, 12/13/63, ARRB 1995 Releases/NARA Record Number: 104-10004-10199.
131 Right about the same time, J.C. King writes a memo about the investigation to date, saying that matters have focused on Mexico City because of the superb job of the Station: Memo from J. C. King to Win Scott, 12/11/63, NARA Record Number: 104-10422-10370.
This document identifies Oliver G. Galbond as the pseudo for J. C. King: “Cuba Desk Crypts”, written by Chris Hopkins, LA/COG/CI, 2/16/78, p. 2, HSCA Segregated CIA Collection, Box 9/NARA Record Number: 104-10061-10115.
132 Whitten wrote that his “first draft” would change when he obtained new information from the FBI, and sent it to McCone, Helms, Angleton, O’Neal and Murphy: Whitten’s note on routing sheet, 12/20/63, Oswald 201 File (201-289248)/NARA Record Number: 104-10004-10211.
133 A note on a still-partially redacted routing sheet indicates that SR/CI was to help edit Whitten’s initial draft of his report on Lee Oswald: Routing and Record Slip, 12/13/63.
Here’s a non-redacted version of the 12/13/63 routing sheet: NARA Record Number: 104-10019-10023.
134 By December 20, Whitten had expanded his first draft into a second draft. The new draft says “our Mexico City station was given full background information on Oswald in a cable”: John Whitten, “Lee Oswald’s Visit to Mexico City”, 12/20/63, p. 1. Oswald 201 File (201-289248)/NARA Record Number: 104-10019-10021. (62 page version)
CIA Work on Lee Oswald and the Assassination of President Kennedy 3-8 (longer than second version); Lee Oswald’s visit to Mexico City 9-19; Information from Europe 20-24: Reliable but very sensitive source in Finland gives accurate info re LHO 20; Thoughts on M. Reggab, V.T. Lee and Richard Gibson 21-24; The Fabricators 25-33; Alvarado “tantalizing and perplexing”? 25-26; Australian crank 28-29; Eugene Dinkin 29-30; Jack Ruby stories 31-33; CIA Work on Lee Oswald and the Assassination of President Kennedy 34-37; Lee Oswald’s Visit to Mexico City 38-48; Information from Europe 49-62.
135 At the 12/24 meeting, Whitten said that “Angleton started to criticize my report terribly - without pointing out any inaccuracies, it was so full of wrong things, we could not possibly send it to the Bureau…: Deposition of John Whitten, 5/16/78, pp. 115-116.
136 At some point in the meeting, Whitten said that he “suggested that it be turned over because of the Soviet angle that had now been discovered, the disclosure about his biographic information about his stay in Soviet Russia, which was obviously very important.”: John Whitten deposition, 5/16/78, p. 136.
137 After the meeting, Whitten circulated a memo asking for feedback. At this point, Whitten comments that others will be preparing the final report: John Whitten memo to Angleton, Bagley and O’Neal, 12/24/63, Oswald 201 File, Vol 17, p. 56.
138 On January 8 or 9, I discussed Whitten’s draft with him, told him Mr. Rocca was to write the report…: John Whitten memo to Angleton, Bagley and O’Neal, 12/24/63, Oswald 201 File, Vol 10B/NARA Record Number: 1993.06.14.15:29:02:150000.
A less redacted version of this memo can be seen at NARA Record Number: 104-10019-10020.
139 Rocca’s version places the date of the shift from Whitten to himself on 1/12/64: Draft version of Charles Burk’s report, p. 6. HSCA Segregated CIA Collection (staff notes)/NARA Record Number: 180-10147-10180.
Also see Deposition of Ray Rocca, 7/17/64 deposition, p. 15.
140 As Angleton testified, Rocca was “the point of contact except on matters pertaining to WAVE…: Deposition of James Angleton, 2/6/76, pp. 29-30, Church Committee Boxed Files/NARA Record Number: 157-10014-10003.
141 Kalaris mused that CI Staff was the most logical candidate to lead the investigation, as they were the CI liaison with the FBI and the Secret Service, as well as a source of information related to the protection apparatus for senior US officials: Memo from CI chief George T. Kalaris to SA/DDO, 3/9/76, Miscellaneous CIA Series/NARA Record Number: 104-10310-10055.
142 Only on December 27, after Whitten had been deposed as the chief of the JFK investigation, did Scott come up with any kind of response. It was another lie: Memo from Mexico Chief of Station Win Scott to C/WH/3 John Whitten, 12/27/63, HSCA Segregated CIA Collection, Box 32/NARA Record Number: 104-10098-10440.
143 When staffer David Slawson got persistent about wanting to go deeper into the Mexico City matter, Scott and White actually played the tapes for Slawson and his colleague William Coleman on April 9, while swearing them to secrecy: See Philip Shenon, A Cruel and Shocking Act (2013), pp. 294-296.