NEW YORK – The CIA’s release Wednesday of a Presidential Daily Briefing given to President Lyndon B. Johnson four days after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy has renewed controversy over a trip Lee Harvey Oswald made to Mexico two months before the assassination.
The key paragraph confirmed press stories reporting Oswald visited both the Cuban and Soviet embassies in Mexico City on Sept. 8, 1963, in an attempt to arrange a visa to travel to the Soviet Union by way of Havana, Cuba.
The CIA has insisted since the assassination that Oswald visited the Soviet embassy in Mexico City in September 1963, but the agency has never been able to produce photographic evidence, even though the building was under photo surveillance at the time.
The controversial photograph the Warren Commission published in Vol. XVI, labeled Commission Exhibit 237, identified a man the CIA photographed outside the embassy as Oswald, even though he bears no resemblance to the presumed assassin.
Soviet Russia responsible?
Ion Mihai Pacepa, the highest-ranking defector from the former Eastern Bloc, told WND he believes the CIA briefing-book release provides further evidence the Soviet Union was responsible for killing Kennedy.
Pacepa, who was granted asylum in the United States by President Jimmy Carter in 1978, told WND in an email that the new CIA release confirms his theory that Lee Harvey Oswald was a KGB-trained assassin who returned to the United States with the mission of killing JFK.
“The CIA has been periodically releasing documents on the JFK assassination over the years, but this particular information was already in the Warren report,” Pacepa explained.
He said his analysis remains the same and has been supported by other more recent reports, as he wrote in his newest book, “Disinformation,” published by WND Books.
In his 2007 book “Programmed to Kill: Lee Harvey Oswald, the Soviet KGB, and the Kennedy Assassination,” Pacepa argued that Moscow tried to deprogram Oswald from killing JFK but failed. Oswald proceeded with the original plan, convinced he was fulfilling his “historic task.”
Pacepa believes Oswald traveled to Mexico to meet with the KGB in an effort to convince the Russians he was able to carry out the mission without adverse consequences to the Soviet Union.
Pacepa further points out that on an earlier trip to Mexico, in April 1963, Oswald met in the Russian embassy with Valery Kostikov, an officer of the KGB’s Thirteenth Department, responsible for foreign assassinations.
In his 2013 book “Disinformation,” on page 241-242, Pacepa argued that information that has become available since the publication of “Programmed to Kill” provided “irrefutable evidence” that after the JFK assassination, the KGB launched a disinformation offensive aimed at diverting public attention from Moscow as responsible for killing JFK. The goal, he said, was to frame the CIA as the behind-the-scenes perpetrator of President Kennedy’s assassination.
Pacepa points to the files smuggled out of the Soviet Union by Col. Vasili Mitrokhin, a KGB archivist, as discussed in the 1999 book “Mitrokhin Archive.” The highly classified KGB documents, Pacepa says, show “the so-called JFK assassination conspiracy” was “born in the KGB, and that some of it was financed by the KGB.”
Evidence of CIA cover-up?
Jefferson Morley, a former Washington Post reporter and the author of the JFKFacts.org website, disagrees.
Oswald’s September 1963 trip to Mexico is the subject of Morley’s 2008 book “Our Man in Mexico: Winston Scott and the Hidden History of the CIA.”
In an analysis titled “CIA disclosures bare the origins of the JFK cover-up,” published on JFKFacts.org, Morley argues that the paragraph on Oswald included in the CIA daily briefing was designed to mislead LBJ about what the CIA knew about Oswald.
It suggested the CIA had only learned about Oswald’s contacts with the Cubans and Soviets in the days and hours after JFK’s death.
“CIA records declassified in the 1990s show that a host of senior CIA operations officers had already learned — and conferred among themselves — about Oswald’s foreign contacts six weeks earlier, in early October 1963, when JFK was very much alive,” Morley wrote.
“What the CIA’s disclosure show, inadvertently I’m sure, is damning,” he continued. “The CIA didn’t tell LBJ that certain senior officers had known about Oswald’s actions in Mexico City almost as soon they occurred.”
Morley said that if that fact “had been shared with a shocked and grieving nation in late 1963, some senior CIA officers could have – and probably should have – lost their jobs.”
“That didn’t happen. The men and women of the CIA who knew about Oswald’s contacts with communist officials in Mexico City while JFK was alive ranked high in Langley,” he said.
Morley believes a CIA cover-up continues, with the agency still withholding as classified 1,100 documents relating to the JFK assassination that are not scheduled for public release until October 2017 at the earliest, according to the national archives.
What the new disclosure shows, Morley insists, is that within days of JFK’s assassination, senior CIA officials were concealing their knowledge of the accused assassin from their colleagues, the American people and the new president.
“In other words, the newest evidence shows that the JFK assassination cover-up originated in the CIA’s Directorate of Operations and Counterintelligence Staff,” Morley concluded in the analysis posted on his website.
WND asked Morley if CIA efforts to keep documents classified indicate to him that the CIA was complicit in the JFK assassination.
“I think it would be willfully naive to dismiss the possibility,” Morley responded to WND in an email.
“It is probably more likely that the CIA is merely hiding embarrassment or non-conspiratorial misconduct,” Morley said. “But given the amount of secrecy that still shrouds the files of certain undercover officers 50 years after the fact, reasonable people are going to draw negative conclusions.”
Morley said the CIA’s “record of misconduct during every JFK investigation and its continued flouting of the JFK Records Act encourages popular suspicions more than any conspiracy theorist.”
Warren Commission reported Oswald trip to Mexico
The news story in the CIA release Wednesday was that the CIA had informed President Johnson only four days after the assassination that Oswald had visited the Soviet and Cuban embassies in Mexico City seeking a visa to travel to Russia via Havana.
The Warren Commission final report on pages 299-311 provided a detailed discussion of Oswald’s trip to Mexico, even publishing photocopies of Oswald’s application to the Cuban embassy along with the reply of the Cuban government.
“The investigation of the Commission has thus produced no evidence that Oswald’s trip to Mexico was in any way connected with the assassination of President Kennedy, nor has it uncovered evidence that the Cuban Government had any involvement in the assassination,” the Warren Commission concluded on pages 308-309.
The House Select Committee on Assassinations commissioned an investigation that produced a report in 1978 titled “Oswald, the CIA, and Mexico City,” which became known as “The Lopez-Hardway Report,” after its authors Dan Hardway and Edwin Lopez-Soto.
In an introduction to the report published by the Mary Ferrell Foundation in 2006, Rex Bradford of the foundation noted the report “brims with puzzling anomalies, unanswered questions, and above all deep suspicion the Central Intelligence Agency actively worked to block its probe.”