The U.S. Government Admitted That The JFK Assassination Was A Conspiracy Long Ago So Why Does The Media Continue To Pedal The Lee Harvey Oswald Myth?
What do we know that proves a conspiracy in the assassination of President Kennedy nearly sixty years ago on November 22nd, 1963? It is necessary to scrap everything you think you know about the case — gleaned from years of disinformation, misinformation, hearsay, rumour etc — and start afresh from first principles. Having said this, Ars long vita brevis. I will in essence focus on what we know that proves a high-level conspiracy?
By definition, a conspiracy involves two or more individuals. Well, the timeline established by the Zapruder film left the Warren Commission with minimal wiggle-room and little choice but to endorse the absurd Arlen Specter’s single or ‘magic’ bullet theory in order to support its lone gunman conclusion. In plain English, Oswald could only have popped off three shots to account for seven wounds in President Kennedy and Governor John Connolly. And he managed this world-beating performance with a WWII Italian rifle known as the ‘humanitarian rifle’ on account of how often it missed — a Mannlicher-Carcano with a faulty scope. Oswald’s feat was unmatched by virtually every single one of the FBI’s sharpshooters except when they were able to have more than one go with a corrected scope. Notably, Connolly always maintained that he had been shot with a different bullet to the President implying that there had been two shooters.
Add in the common-sense visual evidence of the whole ‘back and to the left’ throwback of JFK as his head disturbingly explodes on the Zapruder film made famous by Oliver Stone and part of the late comedian Bill Hicks’ stand-up routine. Plus witness testimony (some witnesses either saw the grassy knoll assassins or saw and smelt acrid smoke in the vicinity as can be seen in Mark Lane’s seminal documentary Rush to Judgement on YouTube), video evidence of crowds running up the grassy knoll in pursuit of an assassin and the medical evidence provided by Parkland hospital doctors and nurses of the gaping exit wound at the back of JFK’s head. Only an ostrich would conclude that there was not a second shooter from the front most likely the grassy knoll.
But Oswald and his mate is not a very interesting conspiracy just a confederacy of dunces. In 1979, the United States House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) concluded that the assassination of President John F. Kennedy was a ‘probable conspiracy’. They did not identify the culprits but its chair Professor Blakey leant towards the Mob. The outcry over Oliver Stone’s seminal movie JFK in 1991 would lead to the setting up of the Assassination Records Review Board to vet all relevant documents followed by legislation decreeing the declassification of all documents within 25 years unless exempted by the old chestnut of national security.
Over forty years on from the HSCA, are we any further in proving or disproving whether (rogue or renegade) elements of the CIA, military or other agencies were involved in the actual assassination i.e., the pre-murder conspiracy? As opposed to the larger cover-up evinced by the actions of the Warren Commission, the deliberate decision of LBJ and FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover in the wake of the assassination to shut down investigations (we know this from transcripts of recorded phone calls) and the withheld information/deceptions of the CIA and FBI including Warren Commission member Allen Dulles not disclosing the CIA-Mafia Castro assassination plots. In fact, the CIA has effectively conceded that a benign cover-up was carried out.
Much has been made over the years regarding changes to the security arrangements for the presidential motorcade. This is something that retired insider and former Pentagon liaison to the CIA Lt. Colonel Fletcher Prouty zeroed in on. Surely only powerful domestic groups would be capable of this. As opposed to a lone gunman, a bunch of Cuban exiles or foreign adversaries. And there are certainly strange things that point to this. Was the 112th military intelligence group (drafted in for additional security in a known hostile city such as Dallas) deliberately stood down or not? Yet there were apparently some members of this group present in Dealey Plaza.
On a minor note, we have the apparent footage showing a secret serviceman being ordered to disembark the presidential car as they departed Love Field airport. But this can just as easily be due to a whole host of factors including the ambiguous question of whether JFK wanted the secret service on his car thus potentially obstructing untrammelled access to the public. In the same vein, we have the unusual arrangement of the presidential car second only to the pilot car supposedly enabling it to be driven as a high priority target straight into a military style ambush. Furthermore, the press bus was not positioned behind the presidential limo as expected thus preventing potentially incriminating coverage. All of which is problematically tenuous in the construction of any substantial theorems.
The motorcade route in particular has been a bone of contention. The obvious choice of route should have been straight down Main Street to the Stemmons Freeway. Especially when one considers that the preceding route was almost entirely straight from Love Field airport. The decision to re-route down Houston Street and a 120 degree turn on to Elm Street thus slowing down to 11mph and delivering the package into the triangulation of fire.
Yet in 1960, JFK’s campaign motorcade in Dallas copied the exact route in reverse through Dealey Plaza up Main Street to Love Field airport complete with a take-off and happy ending. And the Warren Commission report points out that the route down Main Street was blocked by a concrete divider at the underpass thus innocently explaining away the choice of route. Assuming this is true — a big assumption based on the many fallacies in the report — then the choice of route is demonstrably uncontroversial.
Admittedly, the positioning of Oswald in the depository in the weeks leading up to the assassination does not exactly appear to be a coincidence. The manoeuvring and manipulation of Oswald — his likely false defection to the Soviet Union returning to the United States posing as a pro Castro activist in New Orleans whilst hanging out with Guy Bannister, David Ferrie and assorted militant anti-Castroites — is indicative of a keen intelligence interest. It is likely that Oswald was dangled as part of Angleton’s false defector programme itself part of a futile, Sisyphean KGB mole-hunt inside the CIA that consumed much of the grey ghost’s energies (Angleton’s nickname). The shepherding by svengali figure George De Mohrenschildt, who was a CIA informant, and the Quaker Paine family both appear suspicious although the nature of compartmentalisation implies that they would have been unwitting parties.
In the parapolitics journal Lobster, Robin Ramsay has previously made a devil’s advocate style argument. Ramsay points out that advance knowledge of the assassination included a right-wing extremist Joseph Milteer recorded predicting the exact details of the assassination a few days before by an FBI informant, a sex worker Rose Cheramie and low-level Mob associates. Ramsay argues that this leakiness precludes a covert or black op executed by professionals such as the CIA. I am not too sure about this line of argument. After all, the Bay of Pigs operation — admittedly a fiasco — was conceived at the highest levels of the US government yet was so leaky that newspaper headlines were anticipating it and Fidel Castro was reading about it before it happened.
Whilst Peter Dale Scott and Carl Oglesby have argued that the assassination was not an external coup d’état but a structural product of a deep political system assembled into a coalition of anti-Kennedy interests. Ramsay counters that high level powers might achieve policy goals without resorting to assassination. Or if they needed to then they would use different methods rather than execution by notoriously unreliable rifle fire. The De Gaulle failed assassination attempts demonstrated that gunfire was an unreliable method. Untraceable poisons can be deployed, plane or helicopters can be made to crash. In effect, Ramsay reasons that the planners did not have the clout for such access — it was a clumsy bushwhack and it nearly failed. Overall, Ramsay writes brilliantly and is marvellously entertaining even when I find myself volubly disagreeing with him.
After six decades of an ongoing cover-up with the continuing withholding of documents, it is difficult to escape the notion that the assassination must have been carried out by renegade or rogue elements. Senior CIA officers such as the psychopathic David Morales — Chief of Operations at the JM/WAVE Miami station responsible for Mongoose and other Cuban operations.
The mastermind? The finger of suspicion has pointed at everyone from James Jesus Angleton and Richard Helms to Allen Dulles. I have never seen one shred of HARD evidence tying these men directly to the plot. If Helms was involved then he has left virtually no trace. The only suspect thing is his reported comment at a meeting as to whether all possible help was being given to CIA Domestic Contacts Division operative Clay Shaw during the Jim Garrison case.
From the late 1970s onwards, David Atlee Phillips came under suspicion of involvement as a result of the assertions of prominent Cuban exile leader Antonio Veciana. Veciana alleged that he had witnessed his handler ‘Maurice Bishop’ with Lee Harvey Oswald in Dallas a few weeks before the assassination. Further investigation would lead the HSCA to suspect that ‘Maurice Bishop’ was an alias/pseudonym used by David Phillips. Decades later, Veciana would confirm in 2014 that Maurice Bishop was indeed David Phillips.
However, Veciana’s inconsistencies in evolving versions of his stories have been teased out by military historian John Newman discrediting his allegations. The current consensus amongst the assassination research community seems to be that Veciana was dealing in disinformation to divert investigations. This does not mean to say that we should throw the baby out with the bathwater. Sophisticated disinformation necessarily contains elements of truth mixed with deceptions.
Dan Hardway was the co-author of The Lopez-Hardway report into the Mexico City episode during the HSCA investigation. Hardway had interviewed Phillips alongside Gaeton Fonzi. Phillips had started the interview every bit the impressive agency man. By the end, he was chain smoking and visibly shaken. Hardway’s impressive preparation demonstrated that the disinformation stories from various Cuban exile groups could be traced back to Phillips. Hardway emerged convinced that Phillips had run the psy-ops aspects of the assassination.
But when I interviewed Hardway in 2022, he was no longer so sure. He told me that Phillips was a very good actor and may have fooled him into thinking that he was anxious. Veteran academic and researcher Peter Dale Scott echoed similar sentiments writing to me in an email that Phillips may have insinuated himself into the 1970s investigations to make it look like he was complicit as a diversion from what really happened. This does seem like a dangerous ploy and I am not sure how the former number three man in the CIA works as a limited hangout i.e. an alternative version to pacify the public when the original ‘patsy’ version has worn thin.
Let’s take a step back. Suppose that Veciana is being entirely truthful. So what if Phillips met with Oswald? This would be important in confirming that there was a long-denied relationship between the CIA and Oswald. But it does not prove that Phillips was involved in the assassination plot.
This story of Phillips’ meeting with Oswald violates tradecraft on multiple levels. If Phillips was part of the assassination plot then he would only have met with Oswald if he did not know that he is the designated patsy. Even then, he would have known that Oswald was involved in the assassination plot and would therefore have met in a safe house and not arranged a meeting in the centre of Dallas at the Southland Centre. And he certainly would not have allowed himself to be witnessed by Veciana unless the three of them were working on the same operation as postulated by head of Cuba’s G2 agency Fabian Escalante based on their intelligence.
I would also add that Phillips’ courting of publicity through books, articles, television and radio appearances including debates with JFK assassination researchers such as New York attorney Mark Lane would appear to be an odd strategy if one was guilty of treason. I also find Phillips’ decision to sue various authors for libel over accusations of his involvement in multiple assassinations to be a strange tactic. Now one can scream reverse psychology all you like. But this would appear to be a high stakes strategy, which is completely unnecessary. The sensible thing to do would be to allow any unwelcome publicity to dissipate rather than fanning the flames with libel trials.
Similarly, infamous CIA officer and Watergate conspirator Howard Hunt sued Liberty Lobby over a defamatory article in The Spotlight magazine in which the testimony of Marita Lorenz alleged that Oswald, Frank Sturgis and some Cuban exiles drove to Dallas with rifles in a two-car convoy and met Howard Hunt at a motel on the outskirts of the city. Lorenz was a fascinating character, who had been Castro’s lover as well as consorting with some shady elements. But most level headed researchers now agree that she too was likely dealing in sophisticated disinformation. There may well have been a two-car convoy. There may even have been a meeting with Howard Hunt seeing as he was known as ‘Eduardo’ — a godfather figure to the Cuban exiles. However, did any of this have anything to do with the assassination? Probably not. Hunt and Phillips appear to have served as useful limited hangouts at a time when investigations were hotting up. They diverted attention away from the real planners.
So we come back to the original question. There is plenty of hard evidence of a conspiracy. But what is the hard evidence of a high-level national security state plot to assassinate JFK? Largely hearsay, rumours, second and third hand accounts. The closest we come are confessions. We have Howard Hunt’s deathbed confession in Rolling Stone magazine and his autobiography but this is guesswork by his own admission. Hunt describes himself as a ‘benchwarmer’ whatever this means as if he is some kind of substitute on Team JFK Assassination. And frankly Hunt’s assertion that LBJ was the mastermind of the plot reeks of diversion.
What of Angleton’s suspicious behaviour? Angleton had notably been persistently engaged in attempts to erase and sever any link between the agency and Lee Harvey Oswald. Various episodes would find him bizarrely caught in the act of cleaning up the messy trail of the assassination. He intercepted a call between Mexico City station chief Winston Scott and a colleague in British intelligence and warned him off discussing the assassination with anyone. Angleton was rumoured to run his own goons and his threats were not to be dismissed lightly. Angleton also threateningly called one of the original Warren Commission lawyers David Slawson when he had openly questioned its original findings during the turbulent period of the Seventies investigations.
He often swooped in like a raven in the wake of deaths to continue this clean-up. He was caught by Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee and his wife breaking into the house of Washington high socialite Mary Pinchot Meyer in the wake of her murder to salvage her personal diary. Undoubtedly, he was worried about confidential information about her affair with JFK and perhaps even material pertaining to her private investigation of the assassination. In the wake of retired Mexico City station chief Winston Scott’s death, he swooped in again arriving at the house of his widow in Mexico to ensure that Scott’s files on Oswald were transported and sealed.
Again in this instance, the choice of Oswald as a patsy would be strange. Angleton’s mole-hunting unit (Counter-Intelligence/Special Investigations Group or CI/SIG) had been surveilling Oswald ever since his defection to the Soviet Union. In other words, there was an extensive paper trail from Oswald back to Angleton’s team. This is in contravention of William Harvey’s notes on how to run an assassination plot with one of the cardinal rules being ‘nothing on paper’.
For once, these professional liars may have actually been telling the truth but nobody was prepared to believe them. Angleton would tell reporter Seymour Hersh about JFK’s assassination:
“A mansion has many rooms…I’m not privy to who struck John.”
Towards the end of his life, Phillips would apparently tell HSCA investigator Kevin Walsh:-
“My final take on the assassination is there was a conspiracy, likely including American intelligence officers.”
This has been interpreted as the closest thing if not to a confession exactly then at least to an admission that there may have been something to those conspiracy theories after all. In his unpublished manuscript for a spy novel closely based on real events, The AMLASH Legacy, Phillips painted a picture of Oswald as a double agent, who betrayed the agency’s plan to assassinate Castro instead turning it against Kennedy.
I was one of the two case officers who handled Lee Harvey Oswald. After working to establish his Marxist bona fides, we gave him the mission of killing Fidel Castro in Cuba. I helped him when he came to Mexico City to obtain a visa, and when he returned to Dallas to wait for it I saw him twice there. We rehearsed the plan many times: In Havana Oswald was to assassinate Castro with a sniper’s rifle from the upper floor window of a building on the route where Castro often drove in an open jeep. Whether Oswald was a double-agent or a psycho I’m not sure, and I don’t know why he killed Kennedy. But I do know he used precisely the plan we had devised against Castro. Thus the CIA did not anticipate the President’s assassination but it was responsible for it. I share that guilt.
Perhaps the most convincing evidence is David Morales’ confession. When drunk, his oldest friend Ruben Carbajal recalled that he had confessed about involvement in the assassination of both Kennedy brothers. According to Carbajal, in the spring of 1973, Morales talked about his involvement with the Bay of Pigs operation. He claimed,
“Kennedy had been responsible for him having to watch all
the men he recruited and trained get wiped out”. He added:
“Well, we took care of that SOB, didn’t we?”
Whilst senior CIA officer William Harvey appears to have had foreknowledge of the JFK assassination according to apocryphal statements. He was even spotted by one CIA colleague on a flight to Dallas during the course of 1963. On November 22nd, 1963, he got himself blind drunk and supposedly said,
‘This is the day when the goddamn president is going to get himself killed.’
When informed of the assassination, Harvey responded, ‘This was bound to happen and it’s probably good that it did.’
When he learned that his Rome station deputy was helping local officials with condolences, he got rid of the deputy, telling him “I haven’t got time for this kind of crap.” Harvey later told his former deputy that “no one will ever know who shot JFK!”
And it seems likely that there were others in the senior hierarchy of the CIA with foreknowledge, who chose to look the other way because the outcome was compatible with their agenda. This may be one of the dark secrets that the agency is harbouring driving the decades long cover up.
One of the smoking guns has been the revelation that there were multiple foiled plots in various cities including Chicago, Miami and Los Angeles pointing to a larger plot although such design could still be implemented by experienced covert action officers. The averted Chicago plot had all the hallmarks of the Dallas plot involving Cuban exile snipers situated in a tall building overlooking the route of the presidential motorcade and even a patsy thrown in for good measure. It should be added that this was a patsy with a chillingly similar profile to Oswald — Thomas Arthur Vallee, who was picked up by Chicago police ahead of the trip. As with Oswald, Vallee was a former Marine, who had also been stationed in Japan. He had also been enlisted by the CIA in the training of Cuban exiles at a camp on Long Island in New York and had the psychological profile of a loner.
The power cut in the infamous Texas School Book Depository in which Oswald was working (as the presidential motorcade approached) also signals pre-planning. This effectively jammed the elevators preventing discovery of the escaping assassins getting away in a Rambler wagon as witnessed by Dallas cop Roger Craig and others. The pattern of the murders, convenient suicides or accidental deaths of countless individuals such as Mary Pinchot Meyer, high profile journalist Dorothy Kilgallen and witness Lee Bowers could suggest a large national security plot but it could equally be indicative of a large cover up designed to protect state secrets. This list is extensive and includes the suspicious murders of Mafiosi Johnny Roselli and Sam Giancana prior to government hearings and the suicide of the ever-mysterious George De Mohrenschildt prior to questioning by the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA).
We have to frame the assassination as a covert operation — a product of the anti-Castro Cuban operations redirected against JFK. The choice of Oswald as patsy — Oswald himself self-identified as a patsy under arrest in front of the cameras — lent itself to the remarkably intricate design of the plot. As Dale Scott has argued, Phase One saw the assassin of the President presented to the world as a Marxist — a convenient position for Cold warriors and hawks. Phase Two saw Hoover aware of Oswald’s failed attempt to obtain a visa for travel to Cuba and on to the Soviet Union arriving at the pre-determined conclusion that Oswald was a lone assassin and remarked as to how to “convince The Public That Oswald Is The Real Assassin”. He disclosed this to President Johnson. Hoover and LBJ agreed that the Mexico City episode needed to be hushed up as it raised the possibility of an international communist conspiracy. Both men decided that the potential danger of a World War III scenario meant that the investigation should be confined to proving that Oswald acted alone.
And I would add a Phase Three. Once the CIA and the FBI realised that the alleged assassin was known (and could be linked) to them then they did everything in their powers to suppress this information. As Jefferson Morley has argued, the protean chief of counter-intelligence James Jesus Angleton and a cadre of senior CIA officers had a pre-assassination interest in Oswald dating back at least to his trip to the Soviet Union. To give one example, his mail was routinely intercepted as part of the HT/LINGUAL programme run by Angleton. These same officers then covered up the trail of their extensive fore-knowledge of the Presidential assassin from official investigations.
Oswald’s connections with the agency were arguably the most important factor behind the closing down of future investigations. Someone outside or more likely within the agency knew that this information could be exploited to guarantee a cover-up. It is no surprise that CIA HQ at Langley was in pandemonium on the afternoon of the assassination when it became apparent that Oswald had an established relationship with the agency.
The cover up was put into motion within hours of the shooting because the authorities had already worked out that there had been a conspiracy. During the course of that weekend, CIA Director John McCone concluded that there had been two shooters. As for the deficiencies of the autopsy, it has even been postulated that two autopsies were carried out — an official one and a classified national security autopsy. Former CIA Director Allen Dulles was appointed on to the Warren Commission for damage limitation and James Jesus Angleton (specifically his deputy Ray Rocca) became the CIA liaison to the Warren Commission. All of whom knew where the bodies were buried. Hoover would internally reprimand a slew of FBI personnel over their mistakes in the handling of Oswald. Hoover was later furious about the entire Mexico City episode when he discovered that the CIA had been dissembling.
The recent scholarship of Bill Simpich is persuasive. The likely impersonation of Oswald in Mexico City is the Rosetta Stone of the case. Whether Oswald travelled to Mexico City at the end of September, 1963 is moot. But the caller to the Cuban consulate identifying himself as Oswald would speak in broken Russian (contrary to Oswald’s fluent Russian) and possibly broken English. When his future wife Marina met Oswald in the Soviet Union, she assumed Lee’s accent was regional such were his impeccable Russian language skills. Furthermore, the CIA has never been able to provide audio-visual proof of Oswald in Mexico City despite extensive surveillance including audio tapes and multiple cameras.
Simpich argues that quasi-legitimate operations Oswald was involved in such as the penetration and discrediting of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee (FPCC) were piggy backed by the assassination plotters. The attempts by the Mexico City station to ascertain the identity of the impersonators generated a paper trail unwittingly linking Phillips, Angleton and thereby the CIA with the future alleged assassin of the President. FBI officers were also linked to Oswald through the COINTELPRO operation to discredit the FPCC. This blew up in their face several weeks later when President Kennedy was assassinated effectively blackmailing the entrapped Phillips, Angleton and these agencies into a guaranteed cover up. The real plotters? Very likely Mongoose insiders extremely familiar not only with Cuban operations but with the internal workings of the Mexico City station. For example, senior officers such as David Morales amongst others.
William King Harvey cannot be discounted with both his undying hatred of the Kennedy brothers and his experience — running the CIA component of Mongoose Task Force W as well as assassinations programme ZR/RIFLE. Harvey was close to Mob figures such as Johnny Roselli and other underworld types. And we have Harvey’s own hand written notes on how to run an assassination with eery parallels — nothing on paper, the use of Corsicans (as opposed to Sicilians with ties to the Mafia), disinformation to blame it on the Soviets or the Czechs, the use of fake back-dated CIA 201 files for the assassin(s), compartmentalisation, no chain of connections with person to person singleton ops, no discussion in stations and an apparent reference to the check of assets through the counter-intelligence division done on an ‘eyes only’ basis through James Angleton. Notably, these were hallmarks of the JFK plot. However, Harvey’s team were also monitoring Oswald so again the existence of a paper trail violated Harvey’s own rules — Nothing on paper. Harvey was obsessive about running secure, watertight operations.
Lower down the pecking order, these intelligence officers must have deployed mid-level operatives such as Bernard Barker. Dallas police officer Seymour Weitzman experienced a nervous breakdown when he saw Barker’s mugshot during the Watergate arrests and identified him as the man carrying fake secret service credentials on the grassy knoll in Dealey Plaza on November 22nd, 1963. As for the foot soldiers, these would have been Mongoose assets such as organised crime (perhaps foreign) assassins or anti-Castro Cuban exiles.