Contending Bill O’Reilly neglected evidence of Lee Harvey Oswald’s ties to the CIA and FBI in his bestselling book “Killing Kennedy,” WND senior staff reporter Jerome Corsi has challenged the Fox New host to a debate.

Corsi – author of the newly released “Who Really Killed Kennedy? 50 Years Later: Stunning New Revelations about the JFK Assassination” – said O’Reilly’s narrative portraying Oswald as the lone assassin ignores 50 years of critical research into the assassination that has portrayed the Warren Commission Report as a “political whitewash” to protect from serious investigation the CIA, the FBI and even LBJ himself.

Like the Warren Commission, O’Reilly’s narrative centers on Oswald as the communist-leaning, lone assassin.

Corsi noted O’Reilly, when he was host of “Inside Edition” broadcast a report in the early 1990s on the House Select Committee on Assassinations investigation, suggesting the CIA played a role in the JFK assassination, which undermined the central conclusion of the Warren Commission that Oswald acted alone.

O’Reilly apparently has changed his mind.

“In his bestselling book, he stuck with a politically correct interpretation,” Corsi said.

O’Reilly and his running-coach co-author Martin Dugard portray Oswald as a psychologically weak and disturbed loner who shot at Maj. Gen. Ted Walker because he “wanted to be a hero in the eyes of the Communist Party” (“Killing Kennedy,” page 160) and shot JFK to “prove that he is not a failure (page 250).”

Corsi said O’Reilly has “dismissed critics in a cavalier fashion, writing almost as if it does not matter whether it was Lee Harvey Oswald who killed Kennedy or not.

Corsi points to “a few breezy few paragraphs” O’Reilly and Dugard wrote on page 269 of their book, in which the co-authors argue determining the actual identity of the killer pales in significance to the human tragedy suffered when JFK’s death left behind a beautiful widow, two adoring young children and a nation that loved him.

“Granted, the human tragedy of JFK’s assassination is considerable,” Corsi said, “but that does not excuse O’Reilly for retelling a politically correct fairytale.”

Corsi contends the Warren Commission’s version of the story “hid from a grieving nation the evidence JFK’s assassination was a coup d’etat in which culpability reached into the highest levels of government, including the CIA, the FBI and possibly even Vice President Lyndon Baines Johnson himself.”

“Who Really Killed Kennedy,” released this month as the 50th anniversary of the assassination approaches, is bolstered by recently declassified documents that shed new light on the monumental event. Corsi sorted through tens of thousands of documents, all 26 volumes of the Warren Commission’s report, hundreds of books, several films and countless photographs.

Was Oswald a government agent?

“Oswald is a defector,” O’Reilly and Dugard wrote on page 13 of their book. “In 1959, at age nineteen, the slightly built, somewhat handsome, enigmatic drifter decided to leave the United States convinced that his socialist beliefs would be embraced in the Soviet Union.”

Corsi asks what evidence O’Reilly and Dugard have for that contention, other than the conclusion of the Warren Commission.

WND previously reported Corsi contended O’Reilly uncritically repeated the assertions Oswald was a communist without evaluating evidence known to the Warren Commission that Oswald was a double agent in the “false defector program.” In the program, the U.S. government encouraged military troops loyal to the U.S. to engage in a ruse in which they would defect to the Soviet Union to gain access to the inside operations of the KGB.

Corsi argued O’Reilly further failed to consider evidence Oswald was being paid by the FBI as an informant in November 1962, prior to the assassination, and that the Warren Commission in executive session suppressed information regarding Oswald’s alleged ties to the CIA and the FBI because it might be “detrimental to the government agencies involved.”

Oswald’s CIA file

The documents on the JFK assassination released by the federal government in the past few years show the CIA had an intelligence file on Oswald.

His “201” (Personality) CIA file was numbered #39-61981, with the “39” denoting an “Intelligence File.”

The Mary Ferrell Foundation has made public 50,000 pages of documents from Oswald’s CIA file, including a small selection of the pre-assassination file, followed by a huge collection of post-assassination documents pertaining to the Warren Commission and other subsequent investigations of the assassination.

Oswald’s 201 CIA file was opened by Counter Intelligence officer Elizabeth “Ann” Egerter in December 1960.

The “pre-assassination” part of Oswald’s 201 CIA file shows the CIA followed step-by-step every move Oswald made to return to the U.S. after “defecting” to the USSR.

As early as October 1960, while the presidential campaign between Nixon and Kennedy was still going on, the Department of State undertook a project to identify and research all Americans who had defected to the Soviet Union, to Soviet bloc nations or to communist China.

At the Department of State’s Office of Intelligence/Resources and Coordination, Robert B. Elwood wrote to Richard Bissell, then CIA’s deputy director for plans. It was the position from which Bissell began planning under the Eisenhower administration the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba.

The assignment at the State Department fell to Otto F. Otepka, deputy director of the State Department Office of Security. Bissell shipped the file to James Angleton at CIA Counter Intelligence and to Robert L. Bannerman, deputy chief of security at CIA.

According to former military intelligence officer John Newman in his 1995 book “Oswald and the CIA,” Bannerman said the opening of Oswald’s “201 file” regarding his defection to the Soviet Union “would have all gone through Angleton.” The 201 opening was something on which “we worked very closely with Angleton and his staff,” Bannerman recalled.

At the CIA, Otepka continued to add to Oswald’s 201 file, noting key “red flags.” For instance, Oswald applied for and received a U.S. passport on one day’s notice to return to the United States and obtained an extra visa a month and a half before he actually left Russia, evidently so his Russian wife could accompany him home.

Otepka also added to Oswald’s file when he learned Oswald had received a State Department loan that made his return to the United States possible financially. There are indications in the file that Attorney General Bobby Kennedy was aware of Oswald and his 201 file a year and a half before the JFK assassination.

The Justice Department evidently intervened with the Dallas Police Department, asking it not to pursue, investigate or arrest Oswald for allegedly fired a shot at Gen. Edwin Walker in Dallas prior to the JFK assassination.

Walker urged the House Select Committee on Investigations to look into this extraordinary intervention that traced back to Bobby Kennedy.

Oswald and the FBI

“As remarkable as it seems, the evidence suggests Lee Harvey Oswald prior to the assassination was on the payroll of the FBI,” said Corsi.

J. Lee Rankin, the general counsel of the Warren Commission, wrote a memo to the file in January 1964 documenting that a reliable source informed him of journalists in Texas who commonly knew Oswald was receiving a monthly check of $200 from the FBI.

In that letter, as reproduced in the archives of the Mary Ferrell Foundation online, Rankin documents that on Jan. 22, 1964, he received a telephone call from Waggoner Carr, attorney general of Texas, communicating on a confidential basis an allegation that Oswald had been an undercover agent for the FBI since September 1962 and had been paid $200 a month from an account designated as No. 179.

Rankin’s letter further documents that on Jan. 23, 1964, Secret Service Report No. 766, summarized an interview conducted by FBI agent Bertram with Houston Post reporter Alonso H. Hudkins III that read in part:

On December 19, Mr. Hudkins advised that he had just returned from a weekend in Dallas, during which time he talked to Allen Sweatt, Chief Criminal Division, Sheriff’s Office, Dallas. Chief Sweatt mentioned that it was his opinion that Lee Harvey Oswald was being paid $200 a month by the FBI as an informant in connection with their subversive investigation. He furnished the alleged informant number assigned to Oswald by the FBI as “S172.”

Rankin further affirmed that District Attorney Wade in Dallas and “others of the Texas representatives” stated the rumors that Oswald was an undercover agent were widely held among members of the press in Dallas and that Melvin Belli, attorney for Jack Ruby, was aware of the allegations.

Wade further told Rankin that Oswald was an informant for the CIA and carried Number 110669.

As documented by the proceedings of the Warren Commission’s executive session Jan. 27, 1964, in another document archived online by the Mary Ferrell Foundation, Rankin presented to the commissioners the allegations regarding Oswald’s connections to the FBI and the CIA.

At that meeting, Rankin made clear his intention to cover up theinformation, when he told the commission, “We do have a dirty rumor that is very bad for the Commission and it is very damaging to the agencies that are involved in it and it must be wiped out so insofar as it is possible to do so by this Commission.”

At the Warren Commission’s executive session on Jan. 27, 1964, members discussed information Oswald was a paid FBI agent. Commissioner Allen Dulles concluded: “I think this record ought to be destroyed. Do you think we need a record of this?”

Corsi contends the Warren Commission suppressed evidence of Oswald’s relationship with the FBI precisely because the information undermined its central conclusion that Oswald was the lone assassin.

The evidence, according to Corsi, shows Oswald was a patriotic U.S. citizen who earned his employment as a well-trained intelligence operative with his primary allegiance to the CIA. It could be, Corsi concludes, “a key part of the deep secret the CIA could not afford the U.S .public to know in the aftermath of the JFK assassination when the Warren Report was issued in 1964.”

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