EDITOR’S NOTE: As former CIA Director R. James Woolsey recently revealed, of all theories purporting to explain the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the one Woolsey finds the most compelling and revealing is the one advanced by the writer of the following in-depth and exclusive article.
Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa is the highest-ranking Soviet bloc intelligence official ever to defect to the West, who currently lives under deep cover in the U.S. as a proud American citizen. In 1988, Gen. Pacepa published “Red Horizons,” which exposed the crimes and corruption of his former boss, Romanian President Nicolae Ceausescu, prompting the dictator to post multi-million-dollar bounties on Pacepa’s head and send assassination squads to the U.S. to kill him – unsuccessfully. “Red Horizons” was translated into 27 languages and republished in a Mao-style pocket book that circulated within the Soviet bloc. President Reagan called the book “my Bible for dealing with dictators.”
In 1989, Ceausescu was sentenced to death in a trial where most of the accusations came word-for-word out of “Red Horizons.” A few days later, the book began being serialized in the new official Romanian newspaper Adevárul (The Truth), which wrote that its serialization at Radio Free Europe had “played an incontestable role” in overthrowing Ceausescu.
In 2013, Pacepa teamed up with professor Ronald Rychlak to write “Disinformation: Former Spy Chief Reveals Secret Strategies for Undermining Freedom, Attacking Religion, and Promoting Terrorism,” published by WND Books, which also generated an award-winning film documentary, “Disinformation: The Secret Strategy to Destroy the West.” A major Hollywood film is now being produced based on “Disinformation.”
In essence, as Woolsey explained to Dana Perino on Fox News: According to Pacepa’s revelations, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, furious over the Cuban missile crisis, ordered Kennedy’s assassination and a plan was indeed put in motion, including Lee Harvey Oswald as the assassin. Khrushchev, however, fearing he might be starting a war with the U.S., thought better of his plan some three months before the killing was to occur. “And so he pulled back and said, OK everybody, call it off,” said Woolsey. “And everybody did call it off – except Oswald, who was a deeply committed Marxist-Leninist, sniper and ideologue.”
In the following exclusive update by Pacepa, the former Soviet-bloc spymaster reveals his latest insights into the Kennedy assassination:
President Donald Trump’s release of the classified documents connected with John F. Kennedy’s assassination is a crucial step toward helping the United States – and the rest of the world – to understand the Kremlin’s “science” of disinformation. Its deliberate lies about the circumstances surrounding that assassination have generated 54 years of alleged American involvement in that hideous crime, 45 years of Cold War, and the still-emerging evidence of Kremlin interference in our 2016 election.
Unfortunately, President Trump’s courageous exposure of the KGB lies may now endanger his own life as well. The recent cold-blooded assassination of Boris Nemtsov, a leader of Russia’s opposition, shows that the KGB (under whatever name) – which has killed 20 million people within the Soviet Union alone – is still secretly assassinating its enemies.
One of the most important things I have learned in the 64 years I have been involved in the intelligence business – 27 in the Soviet bloc and 37 in the U.S. – is that disinformation is an arcane and duplicitous undertaking, and that in the hands of the Soviets it developed into a whole philosophy. To really understand the mysteries of the Kremlin’s disinformation, it will not help to see a spy movie, read a spy novel, or watch TV news about Russia, as entertaining as those might be. You must have lived in that world of secrecy and deceit, and even then you may not fathom all its darker moments unless you are one of the few at the very top of the pyramid.
At the end of a summit meeting held in Slovenia, President George W. Bush said, “I looked the man [Putin] in the eye [and] found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy.” But Robert Gates, who as director of the CIA became familiar with KGB disinformation, looked into Putin’s eyes and saw “a stone-cold killer.” Familiarity with the super-secret, widely unknown Russian “science” of disinformation could indeed change day into night.
Ten years ago, I published “Programmed to Kill: Moscow’s Responsibility for Lee Harvey Oswald’s Assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy.” My book was introduced at an Organization of American Historians conference with a review by professor Stan Weber of McNeese State University, who described it as “a superb new paradigmatic work on the death of President Kennedy and a must read for everyone interested in the assassination.”
In the book, I describe the super highly classified KGB disinformation operation called “Dragon,” which had been mounted for the purpose of concealing any Soviet intelligence involvement with Lee Harvey Oswald, the Marine officer who had defected to the Soviet Union, returned to the U.S. with a Soviet wife, been in contact with the Soviet Embassy in Mexico City, and had asked for a re-entry visa to the Soviet Union just days before killing JFK. “Programmed to Kill” also documents that George de Mohrenschildt, Oswald’s “best friend” after he returned to the United States, was in fact a KGB “illegal” officer documented as an American, and that in 1976 he killed himself just hours before congressional investigators were scheduled to grill him on his connection with Oswald.
Later, in 2012, I wrote “Disinformation: Former Spy Chief Reveals Secret Strategies for Undermining Freedom, Attacking Religion, and Promoting Terrorism” with my co-author, professor Ronald Rychlak, in which I included four chapters summarizing and updating my “Programmed to Kill” revelations about the JFK assassination. Since then, I have come across a couple of new pieces of irrefutable evidence further documenting the KGB’s involvement in the JFK assassination. Let’s take a look at them.
Khrushchev approved the assassination disinformation op
In “Programmed to Kill” and later “Disinformation,” I describe the KGB’s Operation Dragon, based on the highly classified, never disclosed information I learned from the head of the KGB’s foreign intelligence service (the PGU), Gen. Alexander Sakharovsky. He had at one time been the chief Soviet adviser to Romania’s intelligence services and thereby my de facto boss.
Sakharovsky served for 16 years as head of the PGU (1956-1972), a record that has never been beaten, and he played an extremely negative, though very secret, role in shaping contemporary history. He authored the brutal export of communism to Cuba (1958-1959). His nefarious handling of the Berlin crisis (1958-1961) forced Khrushchev on Aug. 13, 1961, to close off East Berlin with barbed wire, which later became the Berlin Wall. Sakharovsky’s dangerous handling of the Cuban Missile Crisis (1962) brought the world to the brink of nuclear war. In 1969, Sakharovsky transformed airplane hijacking – the terrorists’ weapon of choice on Sept. 11, 2001 – into international terrorism.
Today, we also have the original birth certificate of Sakharovsky’s Operation Dragon, which was revealed by Boris Yeltsin, the first freely elected Russian president, in his book, “The Struggle for Russia,” published 32 years after the JFK assassination. No wonder Yeltsin was ousted by a KGB coup that transferred the Kremlin’s throne into the hands of the KGB – which is still holding it.
According to President Yeltsin, Operation Dragon was born on the day after JFK was killed, that is, on Nov. 23, 1963. On that day, KGB chairman Vladimir Semichastny requested Khrushchev’s approval to launch a worldwide disinformation operation aimed at “exposing the attempt by reactionary circles in the USA to remove the responsibility for the murder of Kennedy from the real criminals, [i.e.,] the racists and ultra-right elements guilty of the spread and growth of violence and terror in the United States.”
Khrushchev promptly approved Semichastny’s request. Two months later, R. Palme Dutt, editor of a communist-controlled British journal, Labour Monthly, signed an article that raised the specter of CIA involvement in the assassination of JFK without offering a scintilla of evidence.
The JFK conspiracy was born in the KGB
Soon after President Yeltsin’s astonishing revelation, the British MI6 smuggled retired KGB Col. Vasily Mitrokhin out of the Soviet Union together with some 25,000 pages of top secret documents he had purloined from KGB archives over the years. The FBI has described the Mitrokhin Archive as “the most complete and extensive intelligence ever received from any source.”
Documents found in the Mitrokhin Archive prove that the first book on the JFK assassination published in the U.S. – “Oswald: Assassin or Fall Guy?” – was in fact born in the KGB, which went to great lengths to publish it before the Warren Commission Report came out, in order to generate disbelief about the commission’s conclusions. “Oswald: Assassin or Fall Guy?” was attributed to Joachim Joesten, a German-American journalist who had joined the German Communist Party in 1932. The book was published by a KGB agent in the U.S. named Carlo Aldo Marzani (codename “Nord”), who received $80,000 from the KGB to produce pro-Soviet books, plus an annual $10,000 to advertise them aggressively.
The so-called Joesten book, which did indeed appear a couple of days before the Warren Commission Report, stated – without providing any evidence – that Oswald had been a CIA/FBI agent used to shield the real assassins, an unnamed group of American right-wing conspirators. The first review of this book, which praised it to the skies, was signed by another American who worked for the KGB, Victor Perlo (KGB codename “Blin”). Perlo’s review was published in New Times (a KGB front, at one time printed in Romania). New Times published nine more articles on the assassination, all accusing elements in the U.S. of the crime. In 1967, the KGB authored two other books attributed to Joesten, “The Case Against Lyndon Johnson in the Assassination of President Kennedy” and “Oswald: The Truth.”
The JFK assassination conspiracy was thus born, and it has never died. Some 2,500 books have been published on the JFK assassination, most of them promoting the Warren Commission conclusions of a single assassin. In 1966, however, lawyer Mark Lane’s “Rush to Judgment” (Holt, Rinehart & Winston) challenged the lone assassin theory, thereby opening the floodgates to other explanations. According to documents in the Mithrokin Archives, Lane received money from the KGB.
KGB-faked letter suggests the CIA assassinated JFK
Another significant piece of information provided by the Mitrokhin Archive revolves around photocopies of a short, handwritten and apparently naïve letter that starts “Dear Mr. Hunt” and is apparently signed by Oswald. That letter is intended to connect Oswald with the CIA. In it, Oswald politely asks for some “information … before any steps are taken by me or anyone else.” In 1975, photocopies of this letter were anonymously mailed in the United States to three of the most active conspiracy advocates, along with a note alleging that the head of the FBI had the original. The letter is nicely ambiguous in its use of “Mr. Hunt.” During the same year, a CIA officer named Howard Hunt became well known in the U.S. from the Watergate affair.
The “Dear Mr. Hunt” letter was picked up by the New York Times, which reported that it had been authenticated by three handwriting experts and by Oswald’s widow.
However, highly classified KGB documents in the Mitrokhin Archive provide irrefutable proof that the “Dear Mr. Hunt” letter was, in reality, fabricated by the KGB in order to implicate the CIA in JFK’s assassination. The KGB used words and expressions taken from actual letters handwritten by Oswald during his stay in the Soviet Union. That counterfeited letter had been twice authenticated by the KGB’s Technical Operations Directorate before being launched in the U.S.
Fidel Castro ‘knew Kennedy would be killed’
According to unfortunately still ignored revelations made in 2012 by Brian Latell, a former head of the CIA’s Cuban department, Khrushchev’s good friend Fidel Castro knew in advance that Oswald would try to kill JFK on Nov. 22, 1963. On that fatal day, Fidel had specifically ordered his intelligence service to monitor all radio transmissions out of Texas. Castro knew what might happen, and his espionage service was prepared to take action if required. In fact, a few days later, one of its agents, Jack Ruby, silenced Oswald forever.
Latell got this evidence from Florentino Aspillaga, a radio intercept officer with Cuban intelligence who defected in Vienna in 1987. Latell interviewed him in 2007 and described him as the most valuable defector ever to come from Cuba. Aspillaga’s intelligence task in Cuba was to monitor CIA transmissions from the U.S. and offshore ships.
On Nov. 22, 1963, Aspillaga was ordered to stop all CIA tracking and to listen only for communications from Texas and immediately to report anything of importance to headquarters. Soon after noon that day, Aspillaga began picking up messages on amateur radio bands about the shooting of JFK in Dallas, which he reported to his headquarters on the secure telephone. (Kennedy was shot at about 12:30 p.m. Dallas time, which would have been 1:30 p.m. Havana time.) Aspillaga told Latell: “Castro knew. They knew Kennedy would be killed.”
Latell included this information in the classified Spanish-language memoirs he wrote for his original debriefers in 1990. It did not become publicly available until the appearance of Latell’s book in 2012.
In view of this new proof about KGB involvement in the JFK assassination, some crucial pieces of evidence documented in “Programmed to Kill” and “Disinformation,” now officially released by President Trump, take new significance. Let’s take another look at them.
Oswald’s dry run for the JFK assassination
On the evening of April 10, 1963, a rifle shot narrowly missed hitting Maj. Gen. Edwin A. Walker when he was at home, sitting at his desk in Dallas. The bullet was recovered, but no evidence turned up at the time that could help identify who had fired it off. After Oswald’s arrest, the bullet taken from Walker’s house was examined by ballistics experts and confirmed to have been fired from Oswald’s Mannlicher-Carcano rifle, the same gun later used to kill JFK.
On Dec. 2, 1963, just 10 days after the assassination, Ruth Paine (with whom the Oswald family had been staying) turned over to police an undated note handwritten by Oswald, which must have been written just before he took the shot at Walker on April 10, because it contained instructions in Russian to his wife, Marina, on what she should do in case he should be arrested, or worse. I published the whole English translation of that letter in “Programmed to Kill.” Here I will only note its second paragraph: “Send the [Soviet] embassy [emphasis as in the note] the information about what happened to me and also clip from the newspaper (if anything is written about me in the paper). I think the embassy will quickly help you when it knows everything.”
As it turned out, Oswald succeeded in firing a shot at Walker and getting away without attracting any attention to himself, just as he must have hoped. The fact that he fired just once (and narrowly missed, only because Walker unexpectedly turned his head) tends to support the theory that this was primarily a test for Oswald, to prove to his KGB handlers that he would escape clean from a future assassination.
Marina testified that Oswald put together a package, complete with photographs, showing how he had planned this operation, and how he was able to get away without raising any suspicions. It is clear Oswald would now have to look for a way of holding a meeting with the KGB to pass this package, and to get final approval for killing JFK.
Oswald secretly met his KGB case officer in Mexico City
On Sept. 27, 1963, Oswald arrived in Mexico City, having traveled by bus under a false name, and he checked in at the Hotel del Comercio, where he would stay throughout his visit. In Mexico City, Oswald secretly met Valery Kostikov, identified by the CIA as an officer of the KGB’s Thirteenth Department responsible for assassinations abroad. It is noteworthy that Kostikov had been assigned under diplomatic cover to the Soviet Embassy in Mexico soon after Oswald had returned to the U.S. from the Soviet Union.
Among the many corpus delicti found after Oswald’s arrest and listed in the 26 volumes of the Warren Commission Report, there are three items that investigators never linked together: (1) a bilingual Mexico City guidebook called “Esta Semana” (This Week) for Sept. 28 to Oct. 4, 1963; (2) a Spanish-English dictionary; (3) and a handwritten letter intended for the Soviet Embassy in Washington, in which Oswald describes the meeting he just had with “comrade Kostin” in Mexico City, whom he also names elsewhere as “Comrade Kostikov.”
To an intelligence eye familiar with the KGB pattern, these three pieces are typical indications that Oswald had arrangements for an intelligence zheleznaya yavka – iron, or emergency meeting – in Mexico City for dealing with unforeseen situations.
The guidebook has the Soviet Embassy’s telephone number underlined in pencil, the names Kosten and Osvald, noted in Cyrillic on the page listing “Diplomats in Mexico,” and checkmarks next to movie theaters on the previous page. In the back of his Spanish-English dictionary, Oswald wrote, “buy tickets [plural] for bull fight,” and the Plaza México bullring is encircled on his Mexico City map. Also marked on Oswald’s map is the Palace of Fine Arts, a favorite place for tourists to assemble on Sunday mornings to watch the Ballet Folklórico.
A handwritten letter for the Soviet Embassy in Washington, which describes a meeting Oswald has just had with “comrade Kostin” in Mexico City, was found in the garage of Ruth Paine, the American at whose house Oswald had spent the weekend before the assassination. Paine testified under oath that Oswald re-wrote that letter several times before typing it on her typewriter. It was important to him. A photocopy of the final letter Oswald sent to the Soviet Embassy was recovered by the Warren Commission, but it also received no attention from our investigators. Let me quote from that letter, in which I have inserted Oswald’s earlier draft version in italics within brackets:
This is to inform you of recent events since my meetings with comrade Kostin [of new events since my interviews with comrade Kostin] in the Embassy of the Soviet Union, Mexico City, Mexico. I was unable to remain in Mexico [crossed out in draft: because I considered useless] indefinitely because of my Mexican visa restrictions which was for 15 days only. I could not take a chance on requesting a new visa [applying for an extension] unless I used my real name, so I returned to the United States.
Oswald’s letter confirms that he met “comrade Kostin” during his secret trip to Mexico City. The fact that Oswald used an operational codename for Kostikov indicates that his meeting with him was conducted in a KGB operational context. Oswald’s trip to Mexico City under a false identity confirms this conclusion. Contrary to what Oswald claimed, he was not observed at the Soviet Embassy at any time during his stay in Mexico City, although the CIA had surveillance cameras trained on the entrance to the embassy at that time. Therefore, his meeting with “comrade Kostin” took place outside of the Soviet Embassy.
The above facts taken together strongly suggest that Oswald resorted to a zheleznaya yavka (iron meeting) for an urgent, unscheduled talk with his KGB handler, “comrade Kostin,” in Mexico City. The “iron meeting” was a KGB extraordinary procedure for emergency situations, iron meaning ironclad or invariable. In my other life, I approved quite a few such iron meetings in Mexico City, a favorite place for the Soviet bloc intelligence community to contact its most important agents living in the United States.
To me, Oswald’s “iron meeting” looks like a typical one. That means, it consisted of a brief encounter at a movie theater to pass Kostikov one of the tickets Oswald had bought for the bullfights (in Mexico City, they were held at 4:30 every Sunday afternoon), followed by a brief encounter in front of the Palace of Fine Arts to confirm they were not under surveillance, and a long meeting for discussions at the Sunday afternoon bullfight.
Of course, I cannot be sure everything happened exactly that way. Every case officer has his own quirks. Nevertheless, it is clear that Kostikov and Oswald did secretly meet over that weekend of Sept. 28-29, 1963. The letter to the Soviet Embassy that Oswald worked so hard on irrefutably proves that.
The New York Times dedicated its Book Review issue of Nov. 30, 2014, to the publishing industry’s reluctance to bring out judgmental books about Russian president Vladimir Putin. At the heart of this special Book Review issue was “Putin’s Kleptocracy” by Karen Dawisha, a highly respected American scholar of Soviet and Russian politics. This book was rejected by one of Great Britain’s most prestigious publishers, Cambridge University Press, for fear of retribution. The publisher explained to Dawisha: “The decision has nothing to do with the quality of your research or your scholar credibility. It is simply a question of risk tolerance.” More than 300 politicians and newsmen who dared to publicly criticize President Putin have indeed been assassinated in post-Soviet Russia.
The current release of the classified CIA documents connected with JFK’s assassination gives us hope that President Trump is determined to finally establish the truth about this horrendous crime and about today’s Russia, which has become – as I often describe it – “the first intelligence dictatorship in history.”
Get Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa’s acclaimed bestseller, “Disinformation: Former Spy Chief Reveals Secret Strategies for Undermining Freedom, Attacking Religion, and Promoting Terrorism,” co-authored with Ronald Rychlak and published by WND Books, as well as the award-winning film documentary based on the book, “Disinformation: The Secret Strategy to Destroy the West.”