Electronic Assassinations Newsletter
On this eve of the 33rd anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, we conclude our series on new evidence in the case. The complete series can be found on the JFK Place web site on the Internet.
CIA games have continued in recent years. When the 1992 JFK Records Act was passed, the CIA set up a Historical Review program, and sent 51 boxes of documents to the National Archives. These were not included in the cataloguing system set up by the Records Act, used only for documents released under the Act, and their information is much more difficult to access. CIA records from the 1940s and 1950s, also promised for release in 1992, remained sealed. A 91-page HSCA interview with CIA-connected soldier of fortune Lawrence Howard was released, then withdrawn by the CIA.
Documents released under the Act have cover sheets (called RIFs) which provide information about the document. This information is accessible on the Internet to anyone who wants it. If a document interests you, it is possible to order a copy. By contrast, to access the earlier documents, you have to physically go to the National Archives, and examine them, box by box.
Despite continuing stonewalling on some groups of documents by the FBI, the CIA and certain other agencies, a government report stated that more classified documents were released in 1995 than in any year in our history. Most, however, were a bulk release of 44 million from World War Two.
According to a November 1995 Review Board report, the FBI had yet to even internally process 300,000 pages of documents, and was dragging its feet (they finally released 40 more boxes in September). The Department of Justice, Navy, Marines and Air Force hadn't responded at all (Justice still says it is reviewing its remaining files). The Army files on anti-Castro Operation Mongoose remained "missing" until recently. The Drug Enforcement Administration (with records on Ruby) had been evasive. Poor record-keeping made some records difficult to identify. Others were destroyed prior to the passage of the Records Act; only the Secret Service is known to have destroyed records after the Act's passage.
In 1963, the FBI "lost" 210 Dallas Police photos of Oswald's possessions, despite repeated police requests for their return. A Dallas Police inventory reveals that one showed Oswald's Minox "spy" camera, an expensive and not yet easily obtainable item. The FBI returned a photo which showed all items in the original police photo except the Minox camera, found in Oswald's Marine seabag.
A December 1995 Nassau, Bahamas conference brought new information from Cuban intelligence files. They reveal, among other things, that the JFK administration source leaking word to Cuban exiles about secret talks with Cuba was Viet Nam ambassador (and 1960 Nixon running mate) Henry Cabot Lodge, via a lawyer-lobbyist for the Citizen's Committee to Free Cuba.
The Review Board, at its most recent public hearing on September 17 in Los Angeles, formally extended its working life until October 1997. As if to close a circle, Warren Commission chief counsel J. Lee Rankin's son presented 17 boxes of Commission records from his father's just-discovered papers.
The last Commission records were finally released. In a once-buried Executive Session transcript, Chairman Earl Warren told his colleagues: "we can rely upon the reports of the various agencies...the FBI, the Secret Service, and others." During another session, Sen. Richard Russell remarked on the CIA to its former director, Allen Dulles: "I think you've got more faith in them than I have. I think they'll doctor anything they hand to us."
Dulles and Time-Life owner Henry Luce shared a mistress, Mary Bancroft, the close friend of Marina Oswald's host Michael Paine's mother. Bancroft, far from pro-Kennedy, was quite critical of the Warren Report, to Dulles' displeasure.
Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach told the Commission he expected one agency liaison to be "Dick Helms from CIA," the "dirty tricks" chief who approved Clay Shaw's QK/ENCHANT "Covert Security Approval." A new CIA document connects Shaw to a top secret project, ZR/CLIFF, under William Harvey's super-secret Staff D along with the ZR/RIFLE assassination program.
Although Helms placed his deputy, known only by his cover name "John Scelso," in charge of the CIA's assassination investigation, superspook James Angleton promptly began his own investigation, bypassing "Scelso."
Helms arranged guides for Warren Commission staffers in Mexico City: CIA station chief Win Scott, and FBI legal attache Clarke Anderson (two close associates of suspect CIA man David Atlee Phillips). Previous records indicated that when Lee Oswald and his wife traveled (after Russia) from New York City to Fort Worth, they left some luggage during a stopover in Atlanta. New evidence shows that Oswald took two suitcases to Mexico City, and returned with only one. This raises the question of whether he was a courier.
In October 1974, the FBI finally asked the CIA " to ascertain Mr. [E. Howard] Hunt's whereabouts during the period 20 November 1963 through 24 November 1963." The CIA responded that records which might clarify the issue "were routinely destroyed." They could say only that "Mr. Hunt conducted no official travel during the month of November 1963."
A memo by a former CIA employee frankly describes both the Warren Commission and House Committee investigations as cover-ups, "ludicrous and contemptuous of the public". He stated that he had knowledge of the conspiracy and participated in the cover-up. He described Oswald as an agent provocateur, KGB Mexico City operative Valery Kostikov (who met Oswald) as a double agent, and cover-up efforts as directed by Howard Osborne of the CIA's Office of Security. He identified the "probable main assassin behind the fence, a CIA-Mafia contract assassin and former agent of Des[mond] Fitzgerald." Fitzgerald was the CIA man who handed a Cuban agent an assassination device in Paris on November 22, 1963, part of an attempt on Fidel Castro. The weapons used, said the memo, were "directionally silenced rifles designed by Mitch WerBell" (a weapons designer with close CIA ties) using "frangible projectile pellets" which explode on impact. This document, given to the Board in September, is currently being investigated.
Recently, a former FBI official told Washington-area attorney Dan Alcorn that some upper level FBI officials believed that Lyndon Johnson had been involved in the assassination. In a recently-published memoir, Johnson's long-time mistress, Madeleine Brown, confirmed that LBJ had at least foreknowledge of the assassination; she also confirmed long-rumored reports that he and J. Edgar Hoover were present at a gathering hosted by Texas oil tycoon Clint Murchison on the eve of the assassination. Also in attendance, she said, was power broker and later Warren Commission member John J. McCloy.
In mid-November, she had seen LBJ meeting at the family TV station KTBC with aide Cliff Carter and Malcolm "Mac" Wallace, described by LBJ crony Billy Sol Estes as the group's assassin. On November 19 or 20, Brown saw Wallace practicing with a rifle at the Dallas Gun Club. In 1984 grand jury testimony, Estes named Wallace as the 1962 killer of Agriculture inspector Henry Marshall, who was investigating Estes. In a three-page offer of testimony, Estes' attorney told the Justice Department that Estes identified eight other Wallace victims, including President Kennedy. In early 1996, Estes called Marina Oswald, to say: "I'm sorry. I'm so very sorry."
When Brown questioned LBJ after the assassination, he exploded, telling her that "Texas oil" and "renegade intelligence" men had killed Kennedy.
Texan George Brown of Brown and Root was LBJ's chief financial sponsor. He also employed, 1958-1963, George DeMohrenschildt, Oswald's "closest friend" for the CIA in Dallas. Previously, DeMohrenschildt had worked for LBJ backer John Mecom. Oil barons Mecom, Murchison, Sid Richardson and H.L. Hunt were all described as his close friends, as well as then-oilman George Bush. These men met at the Dallas Petroleum Club and other private gathering spots. Among their associates were Harold Byrd (owner of the Texas School Book Depository), Dallas Mayor Cabell, Ted Dealey (publisher of the Dallas Morning News), and Abraham Zapruder, who filmed the assassination.
DeMohrenschildt wrote to Vice President Johnson on April 17,1963. LBJ aide Walter Jenkins replied April 18! On April 23, LBJ's military aide Col. Howard Burris wrote to Jenkins suggesting that LBJ be kept "informed to the maximum extent possible in as many areas as possible...that he be more nearly prepared to assume the reins of government in case he is called upon to do so." Three days later, Burris (and possibly LBJ) met with DeMohrenschildt in Washington. On May 20, LBJ and DeMohrenschildt definitely met.
In November 1964, soon after the Warren Report's release, DeMohrenschildt's CIA affiliate personnel file was destroyed, and the CIA's Angleton began intercepting DeMohrenschildt's mail, even though George's brother Dimitri (formerly with Time-Life) had long published a CIA-subsidized magazine. In 1969, DeMohrenschildt told a family friend that H. L. Hunt was behind the assassination. Though Far Right, Hunt supported LBJ in 1960. According to former intelligence operative Richard Case Nagell, Hunt also ran paramilitary operations, employing some CIA people.
Information continues to flow from the files. At the end of October, a new release included 388 CIA documents, 288 FBI documents (the FBI appealed another 36), and 125 from the House Select Committee on Assassinations.Little in our series comes from this year's releases, as there is still much to digest, but we hope that we have given the reader a fresh perspective to evaluate repeated major media claims that there is "no new evidence" in the assassination of President Kennedy.