The Mexico City Tapes
President Lyndon Johnson on the telephone.
At 10 AM on the morning following the Kennedy assassination, President Lyndon Johnson and FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover discussed the state of the case over the telephone. In response to LBJ's question about "the visit to the Soviet Embassy in September," Hoover replied:
"No, that’s one angle that’s very confusing, for this reason—we have up here the tape and the photograph of the man who was at the Soviet embassy, using Oswald’s name. That picture and the tape do not correspond to this man’s voice, nor to his appearance. In other words, it appears that there is a second person who was at the Soviet embassy down there."
This message was conveyed later the same day in writing, in a memo from Hoover to the White House and the Secret Service Chief. Did this amazing discovery of an Oswald imposter, caught on tapped phone lines, launch the greatest manhunt in history? No, instead within 48 hours the entire story had been buried. The tape of the Johnson-Hoover call quoted from above has itself been erased; only a contemporaneous transcript remains.
The CIA and FBI have both since denied that such a tape existed post-assassination, having reportedly been "routinely erased." But beyond the early reports, no less than two Warren Commission staffers told investigators that they had listened to such a tape in April of 1964. It is doubtful they knew of even the possibility that Oswald might have been impersonated in the call.
What was on the tape? In the 1990s transcripts of "Oswald" phone calls were declassified. There were indeed a couple of points which drew the interest of investigators - the mention of a meeting with a man named Kostikov, and Oswald's curious statement that the Cubans had his address. But generally they appear to be fairly innocuous calls about obtaining a visa. However, also declassified in the 1990s was an HSCA interview with the CIA employees who transcribed the tapes, who described a much lengthier call between "Oswald" and the Soviet Embassy, one which does not appear in the purportedly complete record of transcripts.
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