Trump’s Incomplete JFK Assassination Document Release Will Not Resolve The Controversies

photo of the portion of the Dallas Motorcade route of JFK as viewed from the window of the 6th floor of the Dallas School Book Depository

by Richard Cameron


The Trump stonewall and the ‘National Security’ ruse

The Trump administration has not conformed to the letter or the spirit of the Congressional order – the “John F. Kennedy Assassinations Record Collection Act” of 1992, that mandated that “each assassination record shall be publicly disclosed in full .?.?. no later than the date that is 25 years after the date” of its enactment.

The Trump White House is relying on the imprecise language in the bill – the “national security” exemption,  “identifiable harm to the military defense, intelligence operations, law enforcement, or conduct of foreign relations” – as a premise to withhold documents or present them with such degree of redaction as to render them nearly worthless from an analytical standpoint.

The result is that the many unanswered questions about the assassination and what the FBI and the broader intelligence community knew before, during and after the killing, will remain so for the indefinite future. Many of the documents released this week had surfaced before, including some in August, although in an even more highly redacted form.

“As long as the Government is withholding documents like these, it’s going to fuel suspicion that there is a smoking gun out there about the Kennedy assassination,” said Patrick Maney, a presidential historian at Boston College.

Jefferson Morley, former investigative journalist with the Washington Post, told The Intercept that, “I have always believed that some of these documents are so sensitive and embarrassing … the agencies are going to request continued postponement.” Particularly troubling to the CIA are the lines likely connecting the five Watergate burglars to the CIA and operations involving Cuba – and correspondingly, the Kennedy assassination.

classic photo of the JFK limousine - hardtop down, completely open, with the president and his wife Jacqueline greeting crowds lining the motorcade route shortly prior to the fatal shots.

Even Roger Stone, one of the President’s most incendiary allies, is disappointed with the handling of the matter.

“If the data dump that the National Archives did in July of a small amount of JFK-related material is any indication, the fallback of the intelligence agencies appears to be redact and withhold as much of this information as possible,” Stone said. “They’ll use the broad rubric of national security. If the censorship is so great to make the president’s order meaningless, it’ll get litigated in the courts.”

Mr. Stone’s objections are further illustration of the “broken clock theory” (if set to military time).

“If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear” – National Security Agency

CIA Director Mike Pompeo is reported to have successfully petitioned the president to order the National Archives to withhold thousands of documents. But there are other serious problems, some of which are not related to this particular release of files. Missing, unaccounted for and worse yet, known to be destroyed are scores of reports compiled before and after November 22, 1963.

Researchers note for example, that the Secret Service admits having destroyed certain records relating to the events of that day. Additionally, military intelligence files (Army and Navy), are still being withheld – as they were during previous assassination investigations in the 60’s and 70’s.

James Jesus Angleton and the Lee Harvey Oswald files

file photo of CIA counter intelligence official during the pre and post JFK era - James Jesus Angleton

The full record of the government’s dossier on their main suspect in Kennedy’s murder, Lee Harvey Oswald, has not been assembled and accounted for, including many that were under the control of the top CIA counter-intelligence official in the aftermath of Kennedy’s death, James Jesus (yes, that was his middle name) Angleton.

Angleton (pictured at right), whose code name was “Kingfisher”, was notorious as a key O.S.S. (the CIA’s predecessor) operative responsible for coordinating with the Vatican to develop a ratline for Nazis and Nazi allied war criminals (considered intelligence assets) out of Europe as World War II came to a close. He was also known to have serious mental health issues.

But more importantly, some researchers have connected the dots between Angleton and a CIA officer, operating out of Mexico City that they believe was Oswald’s handler.

Of Angleton, John Tunheim, who chaired the government’s Assassination Records Review Board from 1992 to 1998, says – “I have no doubt he destroyed files on the initial leads of the investigation. It seems inevitable there were other files that were destroyed.”

Dallas PD booking photo of Warren Commission principal and sole JFK assassination suspect Lee Harvey Oswald
Dallas PD booking photo of Warren Commission principal and sole JFK assassination suspect Lee Harvey Oswald

One line of investigation that the holdbacks preclude incisive review of, is the incomplete picture of the CIA’s operation in Mexico City and whether or not Lee Harvey Oswald – or someone impersonating him, was there operating on the agency’s behalf.

A special focus of this involves a Cuban embassy employee Luis Alberu Soeto (code name  LITAMIL-9), who, it is believed, met with CIA officer Robert Shaw (known as “Lawrence Barker”). 

Sylvia Duran is also a subject of interest, being that she was the secretary at the Cuban consulate that reportedly interviewed Oswald during his application for a visa to visit Cuba two months prior to the JFK assassination. 

LITAMIL-9 in one snippet of unredacted material, refers to Ms. Duran as a “little putita”, which is a redundancy, since the word putita is slang in the Hispanic vernacular for little whore. Soeto told his handler, Shaw that they might be able to turn Ms. Duran by getting her sexually involved with a male operative. 

Politico also reports that another CIA operative that had been determined to have been involved with Oswald, misled Congress about his role in handling Cuban exiles and Oswald. Of George Joannides, subject of a FOIA lawsuit and participant in a review as CIA liason to the House Select Committee on Assassinations, Robert Blakey, staff director of that panel, believes he and the panel were deceived by Joannides’ testimony and “the fact that I didn’t get to put him under oath.”

It’s chilly in here, maybe we should cover up

Investigative journalist Russ Baker of the website, Who What Why.com, opines that “It is literally impossible that Lee Harvey Oswald was not all over government records. The simple fact there are hardly any reports that mention him is evidence of a cover-up.”

E. Howard Hunt during his imprisonment at the Federal Prison Camp at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, 1978.
E. Howard Hunt during his imprisonment at the Federal Prison Camp at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, 1978.

What might be the key subject of a cover up are the trails of evidence leading outward from CIA man and Watergate burglar E. Howard Hunt’s confession to his son of involvement in the CIA’s operation to snuff Kennedy.

Hunt named colleague Bill Harvey as organizer at the operational level and David Morales – another of the Watergate burglars as part of the Dallas team on the ground.

Morales had an agency wide reputation for “wet work” – conducting assassinations of individuals the CIA wanted taken out. 

David Talbot, writing in Salon describes the roadblocks that investigators have faced over the years in getting hold of documents on Harvey:

“We tried to get Harvey’s travel vouchers and security file from the CIA, but we were never able to,” recalled Dan Hardway. Hardway was the bright Cornell Law School student to whom the congressional committee gave the weighty task of investigating the CIA’s possible links to the assassination. “One CIA official told me, ‘So you’re from Congress—what the hell is that to us? You’ll be packed up and gone in a couple years, and we’ll still be here.’

The Skeletons are still safe

There is a wide body of circumstantial evidence pointing to outright destruction of many critically important pieces of the record. Rex Bradford, head of the research group, the Mary Ferrell Foundation says he is certain that “There are a variety of things we know were torched.” He cites as one example the fact that Army intelligence acknowledged to Congress that its file on Oswald was destroyed. Bradford added, “There are references in other files to a ‘Harvey Lee Oswald’ FBI file no one has ever seen.”

John Newman, political science professor at James Madison University and 20-year veteran of Army intelligence agrees with Bradford. “There was a consistency to the type of information that went missing. The high number of incidents seem to not be able to be ascribed to human error. We should have screw-ups on things that don’t matter.”

His summation of whether the document releases up to now are dispositive of the assassination controversy? Says Newman, “This thing is not over by a long shot.”    

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