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, and no amount of lower standards can be definitive.
The President’s Commission and the agencies conducting its investigation were unknowingly compromised and while most generally sought to conduct a thorough inquiry but some did not. Some leaders were interested more in protecting their reputations and respective organizations and a few officials sought to prevent the public knowledge of their illegal actions and failed related programs. These are not speculations; their actions are documented in lengthy formerly suppressed official paper trails.
Allen Dulles sat upon the President’s Commission charged with the Kennedy investigation and he was a former Director of the Central Intelligence. He maintained contact with various Agency members and his official ties were numerous. Dulles would be an essential person to serve with oversight and prior access to nearly all compartmentalized programs. Yet he was not forthcoming in perhaps the most relevant plans authorized during his tenure.
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 and this information was offered by the illegal CIA domestic base JMWAVE in Miami.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 but 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 and 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 and Dulles allowed these attempts to eliminate a problematic world leader heedless of possible consequences. As a result, influences within the Agency suppressed these plots and these are the demonstrable actions of a Commission member. Dulles prevented the other Commission members from obtaining evidence relevant to their investigation. He was obstructing justice to protect the public image and interests of the CIA.
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 and it 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. Thus 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” and 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 a motive, practice, without even 72 hours of time to complete his entire plan. Now subtract Lee Harvey Oswald’s time spent working, sleeping, and doing every verifiable activity assigned. Thus, Oswald has roughly 30 hours to develop a motive, practice, plot, and not commit a single consequential error. November 19, 1963 the motorcade route is publicized and this 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 that states that Lee H. Oswald has “recently” contacted the Soviet Embassy in Washington D.C. The message further alleged 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 but Hoover fails to notify the local Bureau field office, the Secret Service, and the local police. 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 suppressions did Hoover commit and 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, but who would Hoover not deceive for his agenda and 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. Yet Helms and the Agency’s deceptions do not prove most within the Agency were involved in any assassination because most reasonable people in the Agency would not 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 and 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 but only substantial proof shall decide these events. The Commission had no chance to appreciate what the all the evidence would infer and 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 and not reassuring claims but decisive proof shall eventually prevail.
In time, new evidence will be revealed that supports or detracts from various ideas and hypotheses but researchers, historians, experts, and the public can possibly gather enough documents to provide a true preponderance of evidence. Not merely the limited and not always relevant exhibits the President’s Commission was allowed to review but a more expansive collection of verifiable facts despite their inferences. It shall require the inspection 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, National Archives and Records Administration Identification Number: 104-10228-10323
ii. HSCA, CIA Segregated CIA Files, Memorandum Subject – U.S. Army Enlistment Program for Cubans, Microfilm Reel 63 (CRC), June 21, 1962, NARA ID: 104-10228-10091
iv. HSCA, Segregated CIA Files, Johnny Roselli, Summary of Involvement in Agency Operations in Cuba, Box 1, File 601, NARA ID: 1993.06.28.18:17:13:500310
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, NARA ID: 1993.07.08.16:42:07:340240
vii. HSCA, Segregated CIA Files, Extension of Authorization of ZRRIFLE Agent Activities, Box 56, File 191, February 19, 1962, NARA ID: 104-10051-10281
Edited: December 2017