OK, I know I said I would follow on with “connecting the dots” but I’ve received some queries about the second part of my last post that I thought should be addressed first.

“The second point, that no documentation of conspiracy has been uncovered in the files is….well either naive or intentionally obtuse….to think that any government agency would have solid evidence of conspiracy and leave it in files to be released is just ludicrous.”

That is a pretty strong statement and “ludicrous” is a strong word.  Perhaps I would not have been as adamant before doing the research for NEXUS and Shadow Warfare but I’ve not seen way to many examples of CIA operating procedures that would prevent the types of documents we would love to see from ever being created in the first place – or more precisely getting into the headquarters file keeping system where they might be recovered during either an investigation or a release action.

First off, if you are following State Secret with Bill Simpich, or if you read NEXUS you will know that the files we would most want to see on Lee Oswald would have been in Angleton’s special CI collection, in his own private vault.  That collection was never merged with the overall Agency file system and Angleton even used his own crypts and project designations, not part of the overall system either. And what happened to those files, which were never shared with any investigative body.  Well the safes were drilled out…even his own staff did not have the combination, the material was reviewed by only a handful of select people who were apparently aghast at some of the contents and it was all destroyed.  Done, over.   OK, what would you want next, lets say its the FBI subversive files related to Lee Oswald or the even more important informant files reported by a credible FBI office employee in New Orleans.  Either gone or denied, your choice.  Well lets take another shot at it, the joint FBI/CIA Cuba  project built around putting controlled FPCC members into Cuba and which worked so beautifully on its first attempt….AMSANTA.  Well guess what, that whole project either just imploded and vanished about the time of Oswald’s visit to Mexico City – at least all the memorandums and reports on it ceased, or vanished.

But lets back off and benchmark expectations a bit.  I’m afraid that in general researchers have treated the Agency as far too much of a single entity, with such a tight security and chain of control that headquarters would actually know what was going on in the field, and have files on it.  Well that’s just not necessarily true.  In Shadow Warfare I review a whole set of actual practices that contest that view, with examples ranging from Cuba to Angola to Afghanistan.  Certainly very few people ever truly knew what was going on with counter intelligence but even with normal field operations it was standard procedure to use soft files which were not part of the master control system, to write memos which the author knew to be untrue or incomplete (no, that did not only happen in regard to Oswald and Mexico City).  And in several instances I describe statements from CIA field personnel who themselves were told to do one thing and put something different in their reports to headquarters, or to never mention certain words, terms or people in their headquarters communications.   To paraphrase one officer, it was not unusual for the agency to lie to itself, or to leave inaccuracies uncorrected. Why would you do that, for security purposes and for deniable.  And not bringing forth information when asked was justified by compartmentalization –  not responding to queries was valid if those asking were not cleared for the information.  It gets even worse when the field was dealing with incidents that conflicted with headquarters policy, probably the worst instance of that was the fiasco in Afghanistan with the Pakistani ISI  hijacking of the Afghan insurgency.  The field knew about it and headquarters simply told them to shut up and stop sending reports.

So, was I harsh in my assessment of what we could expect to find in CIA files, you can be the judge.  There is a ton of good stuff in what has been released, it all helps us to understand what was going on and establish the context for events in 1963, but when we are challenged that all those releases provide no specific proof of a conspiracy,  I really can’t take it seriously.  Anyone who would ask that is either playing games or doesn’t understand the CIA at even a basic level.

— Larry, now entering his opinion stage….






About Larry Hancock

Larry Hancock is a leading historian-researcher in the JFK assassination. Co-author with Connie Kritzberg of November Patriots and author of the 2003 research analysis publication titled also Someone Would Have Talked. In addition, Hancock has published several document collections addressing the 112th Army Intelligence Group, John Martino, and Richard Case Nagell. In 2000, Hancock received the prestigious Mary Ferrell New Frontier Award for the contribution of new evidence in the Kennedy assassination case. In 2001, he was also awarded the Mary Ferrell Legacy Award for his contributions of documents released under the JFK Act.

3 responses »

  1. Greg Kooyman says:

    Thanks for sharing more details about the inner workings of the CIA and their security measures. I would like to note that during the HSCA investigation it was disclosed by the Army that they had destroyed all their files on Oswald. Of course, they tried to pass this off as a routine duty, but I believe it coincided with the formation of the HSCA and the very real possibility that their files would eventually come under federal subpeona.
    Also, one of the more interesting of leads to surface at that time was the information offered by George Moffit, a retired Master Gunnery Sgt. in the Marine Corp. who was attached to El Toro Marine Air Base in California in 1963. If I remember correctly, the House Select Committee investigators were made aware of him because his wife wrote a letter to them. I believe George Moffit’s story is factual. I would posit that it lends tremendous credentials to Oswald’s possible military intelligence beginnings. What I found particularly telling was the lengths to which senior military officials tried to discredit George Moffit by slandering his personal character after investigators began to look into his story.
    I would be interested in your views on the Moffit allegation. I am also interested if you share the view that Oswald was originally a part of Military Intelligence, and later “borrowed” by the CIA for its false defector program in Russia.

    • Greg, in response to your questions, I think the Army file response may indeed have been routine. If you start looking at the types of information there were on file for Oswald, you can use the 112th material as a reference – basically that material was primarily news clippings and FBI referred documents relating to Oswald’s activity in New Orleans, his FPCC connections, his leafleting etc. Which makes perfect sense given the nature of Army intelligence. I discuss in SWHT that the regional Army intelligence groups were tasked with monitoring people going to or returning from Cuba illegally and also monitoring anyone that might have been involved in pro or anti Castro activities, in particular anti Castro activities involving weapons sales or possible exile plans for attacks on Cuba. Which is why we find the Mason/Nonte materials in the 112th files as well. With the legislation passed following exposure of Chaos, the FBI anti war activities and the broad based domestic intelligence activities of the early 1070’s, the Army was indeed supposed to destroy files exactly like they had held on Oswald – and do so for thousands of others as well.

      On the other hand, as far as Marine and in particular Navy ONI files, that is another story entirely. I have followed the Moffit allegations and there is every indication that the Navy conduced its own clean up campaign on Oswald files, if not destroying them ensuring they were classified as intelligence files and held secure. One test of that is that we know a number of CIA memoranda from 1963 were routed
      to the Navy, yet I’ve never heard of anyone turning up copies of those from Navy files on Oswald. If someone has I’d like to know about it.

      My suspicion is that Oswald did indeed report being approached by bar girls in Japan, a file was created and he very likely did report on those contacts. He may have been given additional spending money, etc. Now all of that is low level CI stuff but it would produce an intelligence file on him – such incidents are also sometimes copied to the CIA station, especially overseas. If Oswald had indeed visited or even observed the Soviet embassy in Tokyo as Nagell said he did, then CIA surveillance would have caught him and generated a report to the Navy. Etc, etc. So yes I think it very likely the Navy held an intelligence file on Oswald that had never emerged, whether or not it still exists is a good question.

      To be more specific on the last part of your question, I don’t think Oswald was ever a part of MI, however he may well have been a low level informant based on the bar girl contacts and he may have come to the CIA’s attention in Japan, no big deal, just another guy in a file. My guess is that later, when he applied to a University in Europe that the CIA was monitoring, they picked him up again and either began monitoring him or perhaps even “assisting” him. One thing that has never been investigated to my satisfaction is who gave Oswald the idea of publishing his manuscript after his return to Dallas, and who helped pay for the typist work on it. I think if you could find that out you would have a very good clue on how he was being managed, my guess would be DeMorenschilet’s buddy in the Dallas CIA domestic affairs office.

  2. […] revealed in Cold Warrior that Jim Angleton had his own indexing system for his documents, which werenot merged with the Agency file documents. The AMOTs did the same, using an autonomous file system that was […]

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