Monday, 01 September 2008 17:25

John Newman, Oswald and the CIA (re-issue)

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This remarkable book could never have been composed or even contemplated without the existence of the Assassination Records Review Board. No book takes us more into Oswald's workings with the intelligence community than this one. And his section on Mexico City is clearly one of the 5 or 6 greatest discoveries made in the wake of the ARRB, writes Jim DiEugenio.

Oswald and the CIA is not an easy book to read. And I think this is one of the reasons that it was underappreciated when it was first published in 1995. One would expect this result in the mainstream press. But even the research community was not up to the task of understanding the true value of this important work when it was originally published.

John Newman, 1995 (Probe file photo)

Jerry Rose's The Fourth Decade discussed the book twice: once directly and once indirectly. That journal specifically reviewed the book in late 1995 (Vol. 3 No. 1). The reviewer was a man named Hugh Murray. His review was completely inadequate. He gave the book less than two pages of discussion. Murray never even addressed the volume's two crucial chapters on Mexico City, which are the key to the book. (This would be like criticizing the Warren Report and never addressing the single bullet theory.) In the summer of the following year (Vol. 3 No. 3), Peter Dale Scott did something that may have been even worse. He wrote a long article for Rose's publication entitled "Oswald and the Hunt for Popov's Mole". This piece seriously distorted and misinterpreted both the book itself and some of the important information Newman had unearthed. This sorry performance partly explains why the book's achievement was never really comprehended even within the critical community.

But to be honest, Newman made some mistakes that contributed to the book's disappointing reception. The author felt it was important to get the book out quickly. He thought he should do so while the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB)) was still operating in order to draw attention to its work. I thought this was an error at the time. I still do. For there were some documents, not fully processed at the time, which would have been useful to the endeavor. For instance, The House Select Committee's Mexico City Report, aka the Lopez Report, had not yet been fully declassified. And to his credit, Newman updated his work on Mexico City with a 1999 article for Probe (Vol. 6 No. 6 ). This is included in The Assassinations.

Secondly, because of this haste, the book is--to put it gently--not adroitly composed. Newman's previous book, JFK and Vietnam, also deals with a complex topic: President Kennedy's intent to withdraw from the Vietnam conflict. Yet that book is skillfully arranged and written. When I asked the author about the comparison between the two, he said, "But Jim, that book was ten years in the making." I should also add that he had an editor on the first book. Something he did not have, at least to my knowledge, on the second.

Third, Major John Newman was an intelligence analyst for twenty years. And he approached Oswald and the CIA in that vein. In other words, he played to his strengths. Therefore the book is a study of Oswald as he is viewed through the intelligence apparatus of the United States government. Or, as the author notes, it's about "Oswald the file". The author rarely tries to fill out the story or the personage. For instance, the alleged attempted suicide of Oswald in Russia is not mentioned here. Ruth Paine is mentioned once; Michael Paine not at all. Only a highly disciplined, almost obsessed mind, could hew to that line almost continuously. Or the mind of a former intelligence analyst. Consequently, because of its inherent longeurs, the book makes some demands on the reader. Which some, like Scott and Murray, were not up to.


Now, with caveats out of the way, lets get to the rewards in this valuable, and undervalued, book. No person, or body, not even the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA), has ever dug more deeply into what the American intelligence community knew about Oswald prior to the assassination. What Newman reveals here literally makes the Warren Commission look like a Model T Ford. All the denials issued to that body by the likes of John McCone and J. Edgar Hoover are exposed as subterfuges. Contrary to their canards, there was a lot of interest in Oswald from the time he defected to Russia until the assassination.

Newman first discovered this when he was hired by PBS to work on their ill-fated Frontline special about Oswald in 1993. And it was this discovery that inspired him to write the book. The CIA Director at the time of the debate in Congress over the creation of the Assassination Records Review Board had testified there were something like 39 documents at CIA about Oswald. Most of them were supposed to be clippings. Newman discovered there was many, many times that amount. Further, he discovered the Agency held multiple files on Oswald. And finally, and perhaps most interestingly, there were some puzzling irregularities within the record. (When the author expressed his continuing bewilderment about this to the archivist, the archivist replied, "Haven't you ever heard of Murphy's Law?" To which Newman shot back, "Every time I turn around I'm walking into Mr. Murphy.")

Mr. Murphy makes his appearance right at the start. Once Oswald defected to Russia in 1959 the FBI opened up a file on him for security purposes. But at the CIA there is a curious, and suspicious, vacuum. Richard Snyder of the American Embassy in Moscow sent a cable to Washington about Oswald's defection. But the exact date the CIA got it cannot be confirmed (p. 24). Further, the person who received it cannot be determined either. Since Oswald was a former Marine, the Navy also sent a cable on November 4th. This cable included the information that Oswald had threatened to give up radar secrets to the Soviets. But again, no one knows exactly when this cable arrived at CIA. And almost as interesting, where it was placed upon its immediate arrival. (p. 25) This is quite odd because, as Newman points out (Chapter 3), Oswald's close association with the U-2 plane while at Atsugi, Japan should have placed alerts all over this cable. It did not. To show a comparison, the FBI recommended "a stop be placed against the fingerprints to prevent subject's entering the US under any name." (Ibid) So, on November 4, 1959, the FBI issued a FLASH warning on Oswald. This same Navy memo arrived at CIA and, after a Warren Report type "delayed reaction", eventually went to James Angleton's CI/SIG unit on December 6th. Angleton was chief of counter-intelligence. SIG was a kind of safeguard unit that protected the Agency from penetration agents. It was closely linked to the Office of Security in that regard. But as Newman queries: where was it for the previous 31 days? Newman notes that the Snyder cable and this Navy memo fell into a "black hole " somewhere. In fact, the very first file Newman could find on Oswald was not even at CI/SIG. It was at the Office of Security. This is all quite puzzling because, as the author notes, neither should have been the proper resting place for an initial file on Oswald. This black hole "kept the Oswald files away from the spot we would expect them to go-the Soviet Russia division." (p. 27)

Another thing the author finds puzzling about this early file is that he could find no trace of a security investigation about the danger of Oswald's defection. This is really odd because while talking to some of his friends the author found out that Oswald knew something that very few people did: the U-2 was also flying over China. If Snyder's original memo said that Oswald had threatened to give up secrets on radar operation to the Russians, and Oswald had been stationed at the U-2 base in Japan, there should have been a thorough security investigation as to what Oswald could have given the Russians. For the obvious reason that the program could be adjusted to avoid any counterattack based upon that relayed information. Newman could find no evidence of such an inquiry. (pgs 28,33-34) Further, the author found out that Oswald was actually part of a unit called Detachment C, which seemed to almost follow the U-2 around to crisis spots in the Far East, like Indonesia. (p. 42)

Needless to say, after Oswald defected, the second U-2 flight over Russia--with Gary Powers on board--was shot down. Powers felt that, "Oswald's work with the new MPS 16 height-finding radar looms large" in that event. (p. 43) The author segues here to this question: Whatever the CIA did or did not do in regard to this important question, it should have been a routine part of the Warren Commission inquiry. It was not. As the author notes, "When called to testify at the Warren Commission hearings, Oswald's marine colleagues were not questioned about the U-2." (p. 43) Oswald's commander in the Far East, John Donovan, was ready to discuss the issue in depth. The Commission was not. In fact, Donovan was briefed in advance not to fall off topic. (p. 45) When it was over, Donovan had to ask, "Don't you want to know anything about the U-2." He even asked a friend of his who had testified: "Did they ask you about the U-2?" And he said, "No, not a thing." (Ibid) Donovan revealed that the CIA did not question him about the U-2 until December of 1963. But this was probably a counter-intelligence strategy, to see whom he had talked to and what he had revealed. Why is that a distinct probability? Because right after Powers was shot down, the CIA closed its U-2 operations at Atsugi. Yet, Powers did not fly out of Atsugi. As Newman notes, the only link between Powers and Atsugi was Oswald. (p. 46)

Right after this U-2 episode, Newman notes another oddity. The CIA did not open a 201 file on Oswald for over a year after his defection, on 12/8/60. (p. 47) This gap seriously puzzled the House Select Committee on Assassinations. Investigator Dan Hardway called CI officer Ann Egerter about it. It was a short conversation. She didn't want to discuss it. (p. 48) The HSCA tried to neuter the issue by studying other defector cases. But as Newman notes: defection is legal but espionage, like giving up the secrets to the U-2, is not. (pgs 49-50) So the comparison was faulty. In fact, when Egerter finally opened Oswald's 201 file, the defection was noted, but his knowledge of the U-2 wasn't. This delay in opening the 201 file was so unusual that the HSCA asked former CIA Director Richard Helms about it. His reply was vintage Helms: "I am amazed. Are you sure there wasn't? ... .I can't explain that." (p. 51) When the HSCA asked where the documents were prior to the opening of the 201 file, the CIA replied they were never classified higher than confidential and therefore were no longer in existence. Newman notes that this is a lie. Many were classified as "Secret" and he found most of them, so they were not destroyed. Further, the ones that were classified as confidential are still around also. (p. 52)

And this is where one of the most fascinating discoveries in the book is revealed. Although no 201 file was opened on Oswald until December of 1960, he was put on the Watch List in November of 1959. This list was part of the CIA's illegal HT/LINGUAL mail intercept program-only about 300 people were on it. Recall, this is at a time when Oswald's file is in the so-called Black Hole. It was not possible to find a paper trail on him until the next month. How could he, at the same time, be so inconsequential as to have no file opened, yet so important as to be on the quite exclusive Watch List? This defies comprehension. In fact, Newman is forced to conclude, "The absence of a 201 file was a deliberate act, not an oversight." (p. 54) Clearly, someone at the CIA knew who Oswald was and thought it was important enough to intercept his mail. Long ago, when I asked Newman to explain this paradox in light of the fact that his first file would be opened at CI/SIG, he replied that one possibility was Oswald was being run as an off the books agent by Angleton. In light of the other factors mentioned in this section, i.e. concerning the U-2 secrets, the "black hole" delay, plus what we will discover later, I know of no better way to explain this dichotomy.


In his analysis of the Russian scene with Oswald on the ground, Newman made clear two important points. First, whereas most of the attention prior to this book was on embassy official Richard Snyder's interaction with Oswald, Newman revealed a man behind the scenes, peering through the curtains: John McVickar. It was this other embassy official who asked Priscilla Johnson to interview Oswald without Snyder's OK. (p. 72) What makes this interesting is the timing. Oswald had actually refused an interview with American reporter Bob Korengold. He had not been very forthcoming with Aline Mosby, the first journalist to talk to him. Then two things happened. First, the Russians communicated to Oswald that he would be allowed to stay in Russia (p. 73). Second, after McVickar gave Johnson the tip about Oswald, the defector agreed to meet her at her room. He arrived at nine at night. He stayed until well past midnight. (p. 72) What makes this interesting is that Newman reveals that Oswald's room at the Metropole Hotel was equipped with an infra-red camera for the observation of its occupants-and the CIA knew this. (p. 9) Second, Oswald found out he would be allowed to stay through a Russian official who actually visited his room.

After the long interview with Priscilla Johnson, McVickar had dinner with the reporter. Johnson, of course, worked for the conservative, and intelligence affiliated, North American News Alliance. At this dinner, somehow, some way, McVickar revealed that Oswald was going to be trained in electronics. (p. 84) Which he was.

Besides the discoveries about McVickar, Newman actually found documents that revealed that Johnson had applied to work for the CIA as early as 1952. She then worked with Cord Meyer, who helped fund the Congress for Cultural Freedom, exposed later as a CIA conduit. At the time Newman wrote the book, it was not yet revealed that the CIA did not hire her because they later deduced she could be used to do what they wanted anyway and they classified her as a "witting collaborator." (The Assassinations p. 435) The story based on this interview received little play in the media at the time, although it did announce that Oswald was a defector. But after the assassination, Johnson revised this original story-to Oswald's disadvantage-- and it received circulation through the wire services, including the front page of the Dallas Morning News. Thanks to Newman we now know that McVickar was ultimately responsible for it.

Another hidden action that was first revealed in this book was that in 1961, the CIA launched a counterintelligence program against the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, which had been formed the year before. According to the author, that effort was launched by the CIA's Office of Security, under the orders of James McCord. (p. 95) Further, this operation was done within the United States, which made it illegal for the Agency, and without the permission of the FBI. Making it even more interesting is that, as Newman first revealed, David Phillips was also part of this program. (p. 241) This program used neighbors hired as spies, and double agents posing as sympathizers, both reporting back to the CIA. (p. 241)

When Oswald decided he wanted to return from Russia, Newman notes another appearance by Mr. Murphy. Actually two. No "lookout" card was inserted on Oswald by the State Department. Although it appears that one was prepared, it was never active. (p. 138) This would have alerted State and other agencies that a security risk had applied to reenter the country. Second, many FBI files that contained the security risk information on Oswald from 1959 are now missing. (p. 153) Finally, the FBI very selectively issued documents from these files to the Warren Commission. The HSCA got more of the picture. But in 1994, when the author went looking for the information hinted at to the HSCA, he couldn't find them. (p. 154)

When Oswald tries to return, he negotiates to have potential legal proceedings against him dropped. (p. 218) Interestingly, he was taken off the Watch List in 1960, then placed back on it in August of 1961. (But yet, his mail was opened even when he was off the list! p. 284) And at this time, there is the first documentary evidence that the CIA had an operational interest in Oswald. At the end of a memo about Oswald's probable return, the chief of the Soviet Russia division wrote, "It was partly out of curiosity to learn if Oswald's wife would actually accompany him to our country, partly out of interest in Oswald's own experiences in the USSR, that we showed operational intelligence interest in the Harvey [Oswald ] story." (p. 227)

Marina got her exit visa surprisingly fast. Oswald explained his behavior there as, "It was necessary to make this propaganda because at the time he had wanted to live in Russia." (p. 235) Oswald thought his passport would be confiscated when he returned. But, surprisingly-or not-Oswald was actually able to sign papers for a government loan at the American Embassy. A man named Spas Raikin of the Travelers Aid Society was contacted by the State Department to meet Oswald and his new wife in New York in June of 1962. The Oswalds made it through customs and immigration without incident. And without any evidence of an attempt at a debriefing.

When Oswald arrived back in Texas, FBI agent John Fain did do an interview with him. Oswald then got a job at Leslie Welding, and started to subscribe to communist newspapers. At this point, Mr. Murphy pops up again. Even though the FBI had informants in many post offices looking out for just this sort of thing-a former defector subscribing to communist periodicals- and Oswald has signed a post office form instructing the post office to deliver him foreign propaganda, the Bureau did an inexplicable thing. In October, they closed their Oswald file. (p. 271)

What makes the timing of this fascinating are two events. First, the CIA campaign against the FPCC begins to heat up, and the FBI opens up a similar front against the FPCC led by Cartha De Loach. (p. 243) Second, George DeMohrenschildt, the Baron, enters Oswald's life. In his interview with the Warren Commission, the Baron tried to conceal his knowledge of who J. Walton Moore was. Moore was the head of the CIA office in Dallas who, it was later revealed, approached the Baron about going out to meet the returned defector. But DeMohrenschildt told the Warren Commission that Moore was "some sort of an FBI man in Dallas. Many people consider him the head of the FBI in Dallas." (p. 277)

Newman closes this section of the book with a beautiful Mr. Murphy episode. He notes that FBI agent James Hosty was now, rather belatedly, looking for Oswald and his wife. This was in March of 1963. Hosty also recommended that Oswald's case be reopened. The grounds for this reopening? Oswald had a newly opened subscription to the Communist newspaper, The Worker. (p. 273) But, as the author notes, when the Dallas FBI office had previously learned of an earlier such subscription-to the exact same publication-it had closed his file! This recommendation had a caveat. Hosty left a note in Oswald's file "to come back in forty-five to sixty days." (Ibid) But by then, of course, Oswald would be in New Orleans. Newman poses the question: Was the reason Oswald's case was closed for these six months because DeMohrenschildt was now making his approach to Oswald? (p. 277) Was another reason because Oswald was now about to enter the fray, along with the CIA and FBI, against the FPCC in New Orleans? (p. 289)


The two finest parts of this distinguished work are the sections on New Orleans and, especially, Mexico City. Newman notes that the official story is that the FBI lost track of Oswald while he was organizing his FPCC group in New Orleans under the name of Hidell. This is when many credible witnesses place him in league with Guy Banister and Sergio Arcacha Smith at 544 Camp Street. But even though FBI agents Regis Kennedy and Warren DeBrueys were specialists on the anti-Castro beat in New Orleans, the FBI holds that Hosty did not know that Oswald moved to New Orleans until June 26th. In this book, the author demonstrates with a chart why this is so hard to believe. On page 300 he lists seven different events between May 14th and June 5th that should have caused the Bureau to realize that Oswald had moved. If you believe the Bureau, it wasn't enough.

The author suspects this methodical obtuseness was due to the fact that Oswald was in, what Newman calls, his "undercover" phase in New Orleans. That is, he has visited Jones Printing to order flyers with two different stamps applied, neither of them in his name. The first is under the name Hidell, and the second is addressed 544 Camp St. Newman believes that Banister was using Oswald to smoke out leftwing students and liberal professors at Tulane, like Prof. Leonard Reissman. Newman also brings out the fact that in a memo to the Bureau from New Orleans, the information that several FPCC pamphlets contained the 544 Camp St. address was scratched out. (p. 310)

The next discovery made by the author is also arresting. The FBI says they discovered Oswald was in New Orleans at the end of June. (p. 317) Yet they did not verify where he lived until August 5th. As Newman notes, the latter is the same day that Oswald broke out of his undercover mode and contacted some Cuban exiles, using his real name. Or as the author puts it: " ... the FBI's alleged blind period covers-to the day-the precise period of Oswald's undercover activity in New Orleans." (Ibid)

On August 5th, Oswald begins to play an overt role as an agent provocateur with Carlos Bringuier of the anti-Castro exile group, the DRE. The Warren Commission never knew that the DRE had a CIA code name, AMSPELL. When Oswald is arrested on Canal Street after his famous altercation with Bringuier, he actually had the Corliss Lamont booklet, "The Crime Against Cuba" with him. This had the "FPCC 544 Camp Street" stamp on it. (As I showed in my first book, this particular pamphlet was very likely provided to Banister through the CIA itself. See Destiny Betrayed, p. 219) Newman then details Oswald's arrest, his court date, his activities in front of the International Trade Mart-with flyers in his own name with his own address, and how Oswald now goes to the papers to get ads published for his cause. Oswald was attracting so much attention that J. Edgar Hoover requested a memorandum on him in late August with a detailed summary of his activities. This went to the CIA. When Oswald debated Bringuier on a radio program, the moderator Bill Stuckey offered the tape to the FBI. And the DRE reported the incident to the CIA. As Newman builds to his climax, all of this is important in light of what will happen next.

After creating a lot of bad publicity for the FPCC in New Orleans, Oswald now lowers his profile again. At the Mexican consulate in New Orleans, he and CIA operative Bill Gaudet get visas to go to Mexico on September 17th .Why is the date important? Because on the day before, the 16th, the CIA told the FBI they were considering countering FPCC activities in foreign countries. A week later, Oswald leaves New Orleans on a bus to Mexico.

What Newman does with the legendary Oswald trip to Mexico is, in some respects, revolutionary. Greatly helped by the release of the finally declassified Lopez Report, he actually goes beyond that magnificent document. According to the Warren Commission, Oswald was in Mexico City from Friday September 27th to Wednesday October 3rd. The ostensible reason was to acquire an in-transit visa from the Cuban consulate so he could travel from Cuba back to the Soviet Union. But as Newman notes, this story makes little sense and is likely a ruse. (p. 615) Oswald already had a passport to Russia, but the stamp warned that a person traveling to Cuba would be liable for prosecution. If he really wanted to go to Russia, Oswald could have gone the same roundabout route he had in 1959. The route he was choosing this time actually made it much harder, if not impossible, to get to Russia in any kind of current time frame.

When Oswald first shows up at the Cuban consulate it allegedly is at 11:00 AM on Friday. (p. 356) Yet as the author notes on his chronological chart, he is supposed to have already called the Soviet Consulate twice that morning. (Ibid) The problem with those two calls is that they were both in Spanish which, as the Lopez Report notes, the weight of the evidence says Oswald did not speak. He tells receptionist Silvia Duran he wants an in-transit visa for travel via Cuba to Russia. But he has no passport photos. He leaves to get the pictures taken. When he returned with the photos, Duran told him that he now had to get his Soviet visa before she could issue his Cuban visa. (p. 357)

Oswald now went to the Soviet Consulate. But here we find another problem with what is supposed to be his third call there. The time frames for the call and the visit overlap. He cannot be outside calling inside when he is already inside. (Ibid) Further, this call is also in Spanish, which creates a double problem with the call. Once inside, Oswald learns he cannot get a visa to give to Duran unless he requested it from Washington first. And the process would take weeks. Oswald now makes a scene and is escorted out. He goes back to the Cuban consulate. Oswald tells Duran there was no problem with the Soviet visa. She does not buy his story and calls the Soviet consulate. They tell her they will call her back. Embassy official and KGB secret agent Valery Kostikov calls back. Oswald's attempt falls apart since Oswald knows no one in Cuba and the routing to the Russian Embassy in Washington will take too long. (p. 359) This call seems genuine. But as the author notes, and as we shall see, there was one problem with it: neither Duran nor Kostikov mentioned Oswald by name.

Oswald creates another scene and quarrels with Cuban counsel Eusebio Azcue. Now, and this is important, Duran insists that this is the last time she saw or spoke to Oswald. This created a serious problem because the Warren Commission reported that she did talk to him again.(p, 408) The apparent source for this is an FBI memo of Dec. 3, 1963. The HSCA realized this was a problem. So they grilled Duran on this point. They tried three different ways to get her to admit she could be wrong. She stuck by her story. (pgs 409-410)

Why is this so problematic? Because on the next day, Saturday September 28th, the Lopez Report says there was a call from a man and a woman to the Soviet Consulate. Further, in his interviews, Newman discovered that the Russians maintain that the switchboard was closed on Saturday. (p. 368) From this and other evidence, Newman concludes that the man in this call is not Oswald. Duran says the woman is not her. Further evidence of this impersonation is that Oswald had visited the Russian Consulate earlier that day. And this phone conversation has little, if any, connection to what he discussed there. From information in the Lopez Report, from CIA Station Chief's Winston Scott's manuscript, and interviews with the transcribers, there was also a call made on Monday, the 30th, from Oswald to the Soviet Consulate. This call is apparently lost today.

Finally, on Tuesday, October 1st, there are two calls from Oswald to the Soviet Consulate. Right off the bat, these are suspicious because they are in poor Russian. Yet Oswald was supposed to have spoken fluent Russian. So again, these two calls appear to have been made by an imposter.

But why? In the new Epilogue written for this edition, Newman writes it is because when Duran originally called the Soviet Consulate, Oswald's name was not specifically mentioned. When Oswald then went to the Soviets on Saturday, and created another scene, this was the last of the actual encounters. The specific problem was this: There was no direct record made between Oswald and Kostikov. As we shall see, this could not be allowed. So the two calls on Tuesday had to be made. And the necessity was such that the risk was run of exposing the charade by not having Oswald's voice on the tapes. Why was this so important?


Prior to Oswald's Mexican odyssey, the FBI reports on his FPCC forays in New Orleans went into a new operational file at CIA, which did not merge with his 201 file. (p. 393) According to the author, this file eventually contained almost a thousand documents. Newman dates the bifurcation from September 23rd: shortly after Oswald goes to the Mexican consulate, and right about when he leaves New Orleans. The FBI report goes to Oswald's CI/SIG soft file and his Office of Security file. (p. 394) But after the assassination, all the FBI reports suddenly revert back to Oswald's 201 file. Only two compartments in the Agency had all of Oswald's file-CI/SIG and Office of Security. As we shall see, there is a method to all this meandering.

At CIA HQ, after the information about Oswald in Mexico City arrives, a first cable is sent on October 10. This cable is meant for the FBI, State Department and the Navy. This cable describes a man who does not resemble Oswald. He is 35 years old, has an athletic build, and stands six feet tall. (p. 398)

At almost the same time this cable was sent, a second cable from CIA HQ goes to Mexico City. This one has the right description of Oswald. So therefore, in a normal situation, the officers in Mexico City could match the description to their surveillance take. But it was missing something crucial. It said that the latest information that CIA had on Oswald was a State Department Memorandum dated from May of 1962. This was not true. For just one example, the Agency had more than one FBI report about Oswald's FPCC activities in New Orleans. Yet, for some reason, the file used to draft this cable was missing the FBI New Orleans reports. What makes these two varyingly false cables even more interesting is that Angleton's trusted assistant Ann Egerter signed off on both of them for accuracy. (p. 401) Apparently, she didn't know what she was signing, or if they contradicted each other. Further, Egerter sent Oswald's 201 file, which was restricted, to the HQ Mexico City desk until November 22nd. (Ibid)

For the first cable, Jane Roman was the releasing officer. She also participated in the drafting of the second cable. What makes her participation in all this so interesting is that she had read the latest information about Oswald in New Orleans on October 4th, less than a week before she signed off on the first cable. When Newman confronted her with these contradictory documents, she said: "I'm signing off on something that I know isn't true." (p. 405) She went on and tried to explain it with this: "I wasn't in on any particular goings-on or hanky-panky as far as the Cuban situation ... to me it's indicative of a keen interest in Oswald, held very closely on a need-to-know basis." (p. 405) Note her reference to the "Cuban situation". For it was Oswald's activities with the Cubans in New Orleans that was left out of the second cable to Mexico City. Therefore Mexico City chief Win Scott could not coordinate Oswald's New Orleans activities with what Oswald had done on his home turf.

For the second cable, the releasing officer was Tom Karemessines who was deputy to Richard Helms. It has never been explained why this cable had to go so high up into officialdom for permission to release it.

There is one last piece to this mosaic that is necessary for its deadly denouement to be fully comprehended. Ann Egerter testified that their counter-intelligence group knew Kostikov was a KGB agent. But the story is that they did not know he was part of Department 13, which participated in assassinations, until after Kennedy's assassination. (p. 419)

All of this is absolutely central to the events that occur on November 22, 1963. Consider: Here you have a defector who was in the Soviet Union for almost three years. He returns and then gets involved confronting anti-Castro Cubans in New Orleans. He then goes to Mexico City, and visits both the Cuban and Soviet embassies trying to get to Russia from Cuba. He creates dramatic scenes at both places, and here is the capper: He talks to the KGB's officer in charge of assassinations in the Western Hemisphere. By the time Oswald returned to Dallas, the alarm bell should have been sounding on him throughout the intelligence community. Especially in view of Kennedy's announced visit to Texas. He should never have been allowed to be on the motorcade route. The Secret Service should have had the necessary information about him and he should have been on their Security Index.

This did not happen. In fact, at the time his profile should have been rising, these false cables within the CIA and to the FBI, State, and Navy were actually lowering it. The final masterstroke, which made sure the information would be concealed until November 22nd, was not discovered until after the book's initial publication. As stated above, the FBI had issued a FLASH warning on Oswald back in 1959. After four years, this was removed on October 9, 1963! This was just hours before the first CIA cable mentioned above was sent. (The Assassinations p. 222)

As Newman notes, "the CIA was spawning a web of deception". (p. 430) When JFK is killed, and Hoover tells President Johnson about Oswald's trip to Mexico City and his visits to both the Cuban and Russian embassies, the threat of nuclear war quickly enters the conversation. But when the FBI discovers that the voice on the tapes are not really Oswald's it does two things: 1.) It points to something even more sinister, therefore throwing the intelligence community into a CYA mode, and 2.) It forces the Agency to hatch a cover story: the tapes were routinely destroyed days after they were made. The result of all this was an investigation that was never allowed to investigate. A presidential commission whose leader was told beforehand that millions of lives were at risk because the Cubans and Russians might be involved. And it exposed an intelligence community that was asleep at the switch, therefore allowing the alleged assassin to be moved into place by the KGB. The result was therefore preordained: a whitewash would follow. And Newman presents written evidence from both J. Edgar Hoover and Nicolas Katzenbach demonstrating that the subsequent inquiry was curtailed at its inception. Deputy Attorney General Katzenbach wrote that speculation about Oswald had to be "cut off" and the idea that the assassination was a communist conspiracy had to be rebutted. (p. 632) Newman later discovered that Hoover realized he had been duped by the CIA about Oswald in Mexico City. (The Assassinations, p. 224)

In his new Epilogue for this 2008 edition, Newman explains why only someone who a.) Understood the inner workings of the national security state, and b.) Understood and controlled Oswald's files, could have masterminded something as superhumanly complex as this scheme. One in which the conspiracy itself actually contained the seeds that would sprout the cover-up.

In this new chapter, Newman names James Angleton as the designer of the plot. (p. 637) He also names Anne Goodpasture, David Phillips' assistant in Mexico City, as the person who hatched the internal CIA cover up by saying the ersatz tapes had been destroyed in October. This is evidenced in a cable she sent on 11/23 (pgs 633-634). Yet she probably knew this was false. Because she later testified to the ARRB that a voice dub of a tape had been carried to the Texas border on 11/22/63, the night before she sent the cable (p. 654). Further, Win Scott had made his own voice comparison after the assassination. He could not have if the tapes had been destroyed. (p. 635) Angleton made sure Scott's voice comparison never became public by swooping into Mexico City and confronting, nearly threatening, Win Scott's widow after he died. Once he was inside the house, he removed four suitcases of materials from Scott's office. This included the contents of his safe where the Mexico City/Oswald materials had been stored. (p. 637)

This remarkable book could never have been composed or even contemplated without the existence of the Assassination Records Review Board. No book takes us more into Oswald's workings with the intelligence community than this one. And his section on Mexico City is clearly one of the 5 or 6 greatest discoveries made in the wake of the ARRB. The incredible thing about the case he makes for conspiracy and cover up is this: The overwhelming majority of his evidence is made up of the government's own records. It's not anecdotal, it's not second hand. In other words, it's not from the likes of Frank Ragano, Billy Sol Estes, or Ed Partin. It is material that could be used in a court of law. And it would be very hard to explain away to a jury. Imagine the kind of witness Jane Roman would make.

Which is why it all had to be concealed for over thirty years. So much for there being nothing new or important in those newly declassified files. Angleton knew differently. Just ask Win Scott's widow. Or read this book.

Last modified on Wednesday, 02 November 2016 22:38
James DiEugenio

One of the most respected researchers and writers on the political assassinations of the 1960s, Jim DiEugenio is the author of two books, Destiny Betrayed (1992/2012) and The JFK Assassination: The Evidence Today (2018), co-author of The Assassinations, and co-edited Probe Magazine (1993-2000).   See "About Us" for a fuller bio.

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