For decades, the United States government contended there was no Communist or domestic plot to assassinate President John F. Kennedy. However not all in government agreed, some would allow the repeated breach of law to conceal their involvement for the "implications". While some may enjoy reciting the findings of the President's "Warren" Commission, the following information is intentionally absent and Commission documents are definitely not the complete story.
A name unfamiliar to many in the American public is Yuriy Nosenko, a Russian defector to the United States. Lower Central Intelligence Agency operatives verified Nosenko's credibility, however James Angleton the Communist obsessed Counterintelligence Chief was not convinced. Instead, Angleton convinced his Agency subordinates Nosenko was part of worldwide Communist plot. Nosenko became an Agency operative in Russia in 1964 and said he handled the KGB files on Lee Harvey Oswald and nothing implicated the Soviet Union in the assassination.i
James Angleton of course dismissed this idea, despite that even the Warren Commission stated that no Communist plot existed. Richard Helms later Director of Central Intelligence stated in declassified official documents "...If it were established beyond any doubt that he (Nosenko) had been lying and, by implication, therefore, Oswald was an agent of the KGB." When questioned for a more specific answer by Congressional officials Helms replied, "Yes, I can be specific. In other words, the Soviet government ordered President Kennedy assassinated."ii
Yet none of the verified evidence supports Angleton, Helms, and the Agency's claim, and that did not save Nosenko from the hellish torment to come. He was blindfolded, kidnapped, and placed in a CIA safe house akin the worst prisons of his homeland. Nosenko ate meals of weak tea and gruel for years, a single light always lit his cell, and he resided in isolated confinement at a CIA holding removed from society. Much like the current methods used on post 911 suspects, he endured mental, and physical debasement for years after the Commission had concluded. Agency staff brutally and repeatedly interrogated him, but previously Helms went to the Warren Commission in 1964 to inform them about Nosenko.iii
Just a short time before the Commission was to release its report Helms revealed that Nosenko existed, and "I recognized we couldn't keep him in durance vile, as we had, against the laws of the United States."iv This admission of brazen illegality in the name of unsupported ideas is concealed from the American public for decades. After learning of the Nosenko matter Chief Justice Warren was displeased and included none of the information despite the possible implications in the Warren Report.
When a second team of interrogators arrived to question Nosenko after five years of solitary confinement and abuse, they determined he was in fact innocent. The Agency presented money ($90,000) and sent him to a new location to serve the Agency's interests. When the Agency dispatched its own investigator John Limond Hart to determine if indeed Angleton was in fact gravely in error he concluded, "Angleton's muddled mind by then was become a grab bag of haphazard minutiae, much of it totally irrelevant". Hart stated the case was the worst ever undertaken by the Agency during his lifetime.v
Hart also states, Angleton is "A man of loose and disjointed thinking who theories, when applied to matters of public record were patently unworthy of serious consideration."vi This is the Agency's past designation by its chosen investigator of former Counterintelligence operations Chief James Angleton. He could not be realistic, his own peers document his obsession and unreasonable ideas, and his break from realistic thought was obvious by the end of his career.
The Nosenko case however was a huge sign of internal corruption and repeated attempts by the Agency to control public perceptions and conceal uncomfortable ideas. His absence from President's "Warren" Commission reveals facts and full disclosure were not their primary goals. This important episode was concealed, thus what other facts yet to be found were additionally hidden? Past officials could manipulate, they would manipulate, and ultimately they did manipulate the American public.
i. Tim Weiner, “Legacy of Ashes - The History of the CIA”, Doubleday Broadway Publishing, 2007, p. 231
ii. T. Weiner, "Legacy of Ashes", p. 233
iii. Richards J. Heuer, Jr., "Nosenko: Five Paths to Judgment", Studies in Intelligence, Fall 1987, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)/Center for the Study of Intelligence (CSI) cia.gov/ John Limond Hart, The CIA's Russians, Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2002, pp. 128-160
iv. Interview of Richard Helms, Studies in Intelligence, December 1993, CIA/CSI
v. J. Hart, The CIA's Russians, pp. 128-160
vi. John L. Hart, the "The Monster Plot: Counterintelligence in the Case of Yuriy Ivanovich Nosenko" December, 1976, CIA/CSI
UPDATE: Additional evidence of relevance to the Nosenko matter.
Central Intelligence Agency Document, Oswald 201 File, Volume 30, Lee Harvey Oswald and Cuba, March 11, 1964
House Select Committee on Assassinations, Segregated CIA Files, Draft memo to the Hart Report to HSCA, Box 60, (n.d.), pp. 1-4
HSCA, Segregated CIA Files, The Bonafides of Yuiry Ivanovich Nosenko (Draft), Box 60, March 9, 1978