President Donald Trump found “So interesting!” some of the JFK files scheduled to be released to the National Archives two weeks ago—but apparently not interesting enough to permit the full release of some 30,000 documents that the Assassination Records Review Board had cleared for public access 19 years ago.
Apparently he acted in response to concerns raised by his National Security Council, acting on behalf of the CIA and the FBI.
Only 2,891 documents were released. The CIA and the FBI now have approximately six months to scrutinize—and perhaps further sanitize—the balance.
Are these institutions merely protecting their sacrosanct “sources and methods”? Or are there in this so-called “final dump” facts and implications that would undermine “national security” at a multifaceted crisis point in international relations?
Or have officials in “the intelligence community” taken advantage of the climate of chaos and unpredictability created by the 45th commander-in-chief to act in their own narrow, bureaucratic interest?
In any case, it has been reported that Geraldo Rivera of Fox News, who first broadcast the Zapruder film of JFK’s assassination on ABC in 1975, and Philip Shenon of the New York Times, author of an excellent book on the 9/11 Commission, are inclined to believe that the material still withheld will only confirm the Warren Commission’s finding of Lee Harvey Oswald’s solitary guilt.
Countless thoughtful Americans will cringe at the prospect.
Chris Matthews of MCNBC’S “Hardball,” a media egotist of the first order, capitalized on these recent developments by appearing on a breaking-news segment on October 27 to promote his new biography of Bobby Kennedy, Robert Kennedy: A Raging Life. During an appearance with Peter Alexander he carried on in his characteristically frenetic style to propagate falsehoods about Oswald’s politics and to denigrate critics of the Warren Commission.
Has Matthews read even one of the nearly one thousand books on “the crime of the century”?
Is he aware of Marina Oswald’s 1996 interview by Ladies Home Journal in which she asserts that “At the time of the assassination of this great president whom I loved, I was misled by the ‘evidence’ presented to me by government authorities and I assisted in the conviction of Lee Harvey Oswald as the assassin. From the new information now available, I am now convinced that he was an FBI informant and believe that he did not kill President Kennedy.”
There is abundant evidence that Oswald, having been just discharged by the Marine Corps on the basis of a minor accident involving his mother Marguerite, traveled to the Soviet Union in autumn of 1959 as an agent of the Central Intelligence Agency. In June of 1962 he returned to the U.S. with Marina and their daughter June on a State Department loan of $435.71 and eventually repaid every penny of it.
There is abundant evidence that in New Orleans in the summer of 1963 Oswald took steps to infiltrate one of the most violent anti-Castro exile groups, supervised and funded by the CIA, whose members regarded JFK as a traitor to their cause. There is also evidence that Oswald was receiving payments from the FBI as an informant.
There is evidence that in a Houston bank in September of 1963 Oswald met with the CIA’s chief of operations of the Western Hemisphere, David Atlee Phillips (using the codename Maurice Bishop). During this period an FBI agent with whom Phillips was acquainted told him that Oswald was quirky but “OK.”
Chris Matthews during his October 27 interview on MSNBC tossed out well-worn allegations that Oswald visited Mexico City at the end of September 1963 and applied at the Cuban Consulate for a visa to Cuba en route to the Soviet Union.
On September 26 at the consulate, armed with passport photographs, he was informed that any visa will apply for only four months and that a Soviet visa would also be required. A notorious tantrum by the individual alleged to be Oswald took place at the consulate, as reported by a female officer who—despite threats of retaliation—would stand by her claim after the assassination that the angry applicant was not the alleged assassin of President Kennedy. “Oswald” then visits the Russian Embassy without success.
On September 28 he purportedly returned to both sites.
Matthews and other media commentators have also mentioned allegations that Oswald met at the Soviet Embassy with a KGB officer in charge of a division specializing in assassinations. None of the CIA’s cameras surveilling the embassy recorded Oswald’s entering or leaving the building. The Warren Commission received from the agency nothing more than the photograph of an unidentified, crewcut, and stocky Caucasian male with some papers in his hand. Yet the CIA’s surveillance apparatus in Mexico City was one of its most sophisticated anywhere.
On September 30 a tape recording was made of Oswald’s alleged telephone conversation with someone at the Russian Embassy, but the FBI listened to the tape and concluded that the caller’s voice was not Oswald’s.
It is clear that Ruth Paine, a Quaker living in Irving, Texas, who had taken in Marina Oswald and June in spring of 1963, arranged for Oswald to find work in the Texas School Book Depository. Several of Ruth’s relatives were working, or had worked, for the CIA. Her estranged husband Michael (a great great grandson of Ralph Waldo Emerson!) was employed at Bell Helicopter in Dallas, a firm headed by ex-Nazi Maj. Gen. Walter Dornberger, closely associated with development of the V2 rocket with which the Third Reich terrorized the British population.
On the day following the assassination, the Paines were recorded in a telephone conversation during which Michael said that “You and I know there is much more to this than the government is saying, don’t we?”
Capt. Will Fritz of the Dallas Police Department was thoroughly impressed by the alleged assassin’s composure during his interrogations of November 22 and 23. “I’m not a malcontent,” Oswald told him. “Nothing irritated me about the president.”
Before the closing of the Sixties, both the Marine Intelligence Agency and the Office of Naval Intelligence had conducted comprehensive studies of Lee Oswald’s psychology. Both concluded that he was incapable of killing the president of the United States.
James Botelho, Oswald’s roommate during their Marine assignment in Santa Ana, California, was interviewed by Mark Lane in 1978:
“Oswald was not a Communist or a Marxist,” he said. “If he was, I would have taken violent action against him and so would many of the other Marines in the unit.”
An investigation was conducted following Oswald’s purported defection—“conducted purely for show,” said Botelho. “It was the most casual of investigations. It was a cover-investigation so that it could be said there had been an investigation. . . . Oswald, it was said, was the only Marine ever to defect from his country to another country, a Communist country, during peacetime. That was a major event.
“When the Marine Corps and American intelligence decided not to probe the reasons for the ‘defection,’ I knew what I know now. Oswald was on an assignment in Russia for American intelligence.”
But of course Chris Matthews and countless other “mainstream media” figures of his ilk would not be cognizant of this loyal Marine veteran’s compelling account.
In summer of 1999, at an economic summit of the Group of Eight in Cologne, Germany, President Boris Yeltsin of the Russian Federation turned over 80 KGB documents on Oswald to President Bill Clinton.
There is no question but that the Soviets regarded the headstrong American “defector” who entered their country at the age of 19 on October 16, 1959, and justified his mission with “vague answers about great Soviet Union,” as unstable and untrustworthy—in effect, a nuisance. (In fact, a nuisance in the person of a 9th-grade dropout who in Moscow and Minsk had to conceal his precocious, self-taught fluency in Russian at all costs, in order to cover the reality of his mission. See online James Norwood’s excellent article entitled “Harvey and Lee: Oswald’s Proficiency in the Russian Language.”)
Larry Sabato, a pre-eminent University of Virginia political science professor and author of The Kennedy Half-Century: The Presidency, Assassination, and Lasting Legacy of John F. Kennedy (2013), has said that “I’m told reliably that [pressure on Trump from the CIA and FBI to postpone release of 88 percent of documents still classified] continues and that it has intensified.” He believes the documents still withheld could include the names of persons still living.
Robert Stone, a well-known and long-time associate of Trump, has observed that 440 ARRB documents released to the National Archives in July were so thoroughly redacted “on the basis of national security that they were useless.”
¿ ¿ ¿ ¿ ¿ ¿ ¿
H.C. Nash is author of the two-volume Patsy of the Ages: Lee Harvey Oswald and His Nation Half a Century Later, available in both paperback and Kindle ebook form.
To view in great detail the JFK trove just released, and much, much more, go to http://www.archives.gov/research/jfk.
Chris Matthews can be emailed at email@example.com and tweeted at twitter.com/hardball_chris.