The integrity of any investigation relies on reasonable standards; among these is the honest disclosure of all relevant evidence by leading officials. No matter what inferences are made by such full disclosure, it is their responsibility to offer the most reliable assessment. They must be unrelenting in their pursuit of those suspected and willing to offer every resource in seeking justice. If this is not the case, the investigation is flawed; hidden motivations can prevent its success. No amount of lower standards can be definitive.
The President’s Commission and the agencies conducting its investigation were unknowingly compromised. Most generally sought to conduct a thorough inquiry but some did not. Some leaders were interested more in protecting their reputations and respective organizations. A few officials sought to prevent the public knowledge of their illegal actions and failed related programs. These are not speculation; their actions are documented in lengthy formerly suppressed official paper trails.
Allen Dulles sat upon the President’s Commission charged with the Kennedy investigation. Dulles was the former Director of the Central Intelligence, he maintained contact with various Agency members and his official ties were numerous. He would in theory be an essential person to serve with oversight and prior access to nearly all compartmentalized programs. Yet Dulles was not forthcoming in perhaps the most relevant plans he prior authorized.
The series of plots to assassinate Castro included leaders of the Mafia, Cuban exile groups, mercenaries, and some Agency officers. Some Cuban exiles were trained by the United States Army, the information was offered by the illegal CIA domestic base JMWAVE.i CIA agent William Harvey who later would lead Phase II of the Castro plots sent a letter expressing the displeasure of exiles to General Edward Lansdale.ii The disgruntled men allege the United States government was not honoring its prior obligations to them. Cuban Revolutionary Council leader Manuel Antonio “Tony” Varona y Loredo stated it was rather the exiles “indiscreet actions” to blame.iii
Perhaps we are observing a motive develop? Motivation that could support a desire for revenge based on upon militant exiles subsequent perceptions. Kennedy’s death could benefit various interests from the political repercussions to force war against Cuba. The action would also likely cripple or end Robert Kennedy’s prosecutions of the Mafia, and potentially restore the hundreds of millions they lost to Castro’s revolution. It was a war the Agency desired to retry after the failed Bay of Pigs, and they were willing to enlist the Mafia to do so.iv However, it would not be a huge sweeping possible conspiracy, but a handful of key feasibly powerful or influential men that could turn such a plot to advantage.
The Castro plots transpired years before and following the Kennedy assassination. Dulles allowed these attempts to eliminate a problematic world leader heedless of possible consequences. As a result influences within the Agency suppressed these plots. These are the demonstrable actions of a Commission member. Dulles tried to eternally suppress the evidence, and he failed.
However, Dulles’ transgressions are not the fault of the other commissioners; most attempted to find the truth but were doomed to failure. Denied the evidence, we cannot reasonably blame those without the ability to obtain knowledge withheld by fellow officials. Context is required for the assessment of feasible blame; this was seemingly not a massive but dedicated suppression effort. It also does not infer Dulles is complicit, but dishonest and aware of the dreadful implications to the Agency. Additional substantial evidence is required to assign complicity in my view.
Large amounts of complicit people are not required, just large amounts of people who fear or refuse to question their superiors. Too many people make a conspiracy improbable; it is unlikely such a plot could exist without betrayal or exposure. Incompetence can often mask as possible nefarious action, but Dulles’ actions obviously reveal a critical flaw in the Commission investigation. So when a critic asks how people can reliably doubt the Commission, this is among the many verifiable answers. If some officials would deceive each other, would they hesitate to do so with the American public?
Perhaps just the prior actions alone would not have damaged most Commission findings, yet it was not just one Commissioner. The Federal Bureau of Investigation too “failed”. Egregious suppression, mistakes, and lies were told to the Commission and the public. J. Edgar Hoover was the primary author of these fabrications and what could have been a substantial review was a superficially passable case.
The official case sought to blame a single man without even 72 hours. Now subtract Lee Harvey Oswald’s time spent working, sleeping, and doing every verifiable activity assigned. Thus, Oswald has between 24 to 48 hours to develop a motive, practice, plot, nor commit a single consequential error. November 19, the motorcade route is publicized and is the earliest time Oswald can plot, if he is a lone gunman as officials allege.
The same day J. Edgar Hoover reviews a message regarding internal security. It states that Lee H. Oswald has “recently” contacted the Soviet Embassy in Washington D.C. The message stated Oswald was in additionally contact with a person later asserted to control KGB assassins, yet no definitive evidence was ever produced. The Agency had no pictures of Oswald in Mexico City, they had little actual verified proof this alleged meeting occurred.v
Additionally Hoover was informed Oswald desired to travel to Cuba. Hoover with a sufficient file regarding Oswald could have notified the local Bureau field office, the Secret Service, or perhaps the local police would be interested? Why did Hoover feasibly do nothing?vi Hoover would not release his files to the Commission and instead was allowed to offer a brief affidavit containing deceptions. Using hindsight the Commission’s lead counsel did not trust neither the motivations, nor word of J. Edgar Hoover as well. What additional grievous suppression did Hoover commit? How many suppressions regarding Oswald and the plots occurred that we cannot yet prove?
Perhaps Hoover realized a full investigation with oversight would not just reveal those possibly involved, but decades of his illegal actions. It is also possible he sought to absolve himself of any mistakes he personally made, yet some things were not mistakes. He was allowed to supervise the official investigation, like Dulles who would Hoover not deceive for his agenda? How can some believe these matters of integrity are not eminently consequential?
Another highly placed force of suppression inside the Central Intelligence Agency was Richard Helms the Deputy Director of Plans. He was a veteran officer in the Agency who reauthorized the ZRRIFLE plots to assassinate Fidel Castro, yet he seemed to forget about his own actions.vii He never mentioned the full nature of the Castro plots, nor did any of his fellow Agency officers involved. This information was withheld from the Commission, denied to prevent any possible implications of complicity in other feasibly similar undertakings. Helms and the Agency’s deceptions do not prove most within the Agency were involved in any assassination. No reasonable person in the Agency would embrace such plots, unfortunately a handful of officers were not so reasonable.
We now have three important authorities obstructing the Commission investigation from positions of power. The official evidence that is verified indicts their actions. Most unreliable claims were easily disputed by officials; these claims were used often to impugn detractors with greater evidence. Unproven claims and myths still prevent some from accepting most verified evidence. Only substantial proof shall decide these events.
The Commission had no chance to appreciate what the all the evidence would infer. Its evidentiary problems are consequential. Despite all the official criticism great analysis and substantial contending evidence thrives in many places. The advance of the Information Age will not slow the process. Not reassuring claims but decisive proof shall eventually prevail.
In time new evidence shall be revealed that supports or detracts from various ideas and hypotheses. However, researchers can possibly gather enough evidence to provide a true preponderance of evidence. Not merely the limited and not always relevant collection available to the President’s Commission. It shall take review of the millions of files and the willingness to cast aside the unproven for the probable.
i. House Select Committee on Assassinations, Segregated CIA Collection, Cable: The following is a round-up of US ARMY recruitment program for, Microfilm Reel 63 (CRC), September 29, 1962
ii. HSCA, CIA Segregated CIA Files, Memorandum Subject – U.S. Army Enlistment Program for Cubans, Microfilm Reel 63 (CRC), June 21, 1962
iv. HSCA, Segregated CIA Files, Johnny Roselli, Summary of Involvement in Agency Operations in Cuba, Box 1, File 601
v. Central Intelligence Agency File, Meeting with Ann Goodpasture, Russ Holmes, and S. D. Breckenridge November 24, 1978, Harold Weisberg Archives, jfk.hood.edu
vi. HSCA Segregated CIA Files, Report on Lee Harvey Oswald arrest, affiliation with Fair Pla, Box 7, November 8, 1963
vii. HSCA, Segregated CIA Files, Extension of Authorization of ZRRIFLE Agent Activities, Box 56, File 191, February 19, 1962