Among the host of conspiracy theories surrounding the assassination of President John F. Kennedy are variations that point the finger at agencies of the U.S. government, all the way up to the vice president.

Others connect the dots and find the Soviet Union at the center of the plot, highlighting Lee Harvey Oswald’s mysterious defection to the communist nation and return to the U.S. with a Russian wife.

But a former Soviet-bloc spy chief who was active at the time of the Nov. 22, 1963, assassination says Moscow’s fingerprints are on both scenarios.

Lt. Gen. Mihai Pacepa, in his book “Disinformation”, presents evidence that Oswald was recruited by the KGB to kill Kennedy when he was a U.S. Marine stationed at the Atsugi Air Station in Japan, the home of the U-2 spy plane.

The widely circulated idea that the U.S. government was behind the assassination was planted in the minds of American citizens through a Soviet disinformation campaign, Pacepa contends.

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Pacepa previously presented his theory in his 2007 book “Programmed to Kill: Lee Harvey Oswald, the Soviet KGB, and the Kennedy Assassination.” But he writes in “Disinformation” that since then, “a good deal of unimpeachable information has become available, providing fascinating insights into the KGB’s disinformation operation aimed at framing the CIA as the behind-the-scenes perpetrator of President Kennedy’s assassination.”

Pacepa’s new book, co-authored with historian and law professor Ronald Rychlak, was published earlier this year with a companion feature-length film documentary of the same name

Programmed to kill

After defecting to the Soviet Union, Oswald returned to the U.S. three years later “programmed” by the Kremlin to assassinate Kennedy, Pacepa believes. Moscow later tried to stop the plot and “turn Oswald off,” but he went ahead with the plan.

Pacepa believes the Warren Commission and a special House of Representatives committee in the late 1970s whitewashed the communist connection to the assassination because the members “lacked the inside knowledge of Soviet intelligence.”

Despite its conclusion that if found no evidence of foreign involvement, the Warren Commission ‘s 26 published volumes contained essentially raw information that showed “the Soviet hand to an informed analyst with inside knowledge of Soviet intelligence operations and methods,” write Pacepa and Rychlak in “Disinformation.”

The 1979 report of the House Select Committee on Assassinations, which concluded there was no Soviet connection, also, nevertheless, presented material that pointed even more suggestively toward Moscow, according to Pacepa.

Shifting blame

Pacepa and Rychlak write that the Soviet Union’s “Dragon Operation” was designed to shift blame for Kennedy’s murder away from the Kremlin, calling it “one of the most successful disinformation operations in contemporary history.”

They point out that post-communist Russian leader Boris Yeltsin revealed in his memoir, “The Struggle for Russia,” a letter to the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union dated Nov. 23, 1963 – the day after Kennedy’s assassination.

The letter, signed by KGB chairman Vladimir Semichastny, recommended publishing in a “progressive paper in one of the Western countries” an article “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.”

Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa

Semichastny’s request was approved. Two months later, R. Palme Dutt, the editor of the communist-controlled British journal Labour Monthly, published an article that raised the specter of CIA involvement.

The authors also write that the No. 2 man in the Communist Party USA at the time of the assassination, Morris Childs, played a crucial role in persuading President Lyndon Johnson, the FBI and the CIA that the Soviet Union was not involved in the JFK assassination.

Childs happened to be on his annual trip to Moscow to receive funding and policy instructions when news of the Kennedy assassination broke. Pacepa believes that the KGB knew that Childs and his brother Jack Childs were passing on information to the FBI and decided to use them as “unwitting conduits for disinformation.”

Later, Pacepa and Rychlak note, the House Select Committee on Assassinations excluded the possibility of a Soviet hand in the assassination by simply stating:

In fact the reaction of the Soviet Government as well as the Soviet people seemed to be one of genuine shock and sincere grief. The committee believed, therefore, on the basis of the evidence available to it, that the Soviet Government was not involved in the assassination.

Pacepa and Rychlak write: “Such credulity showed that the House committee, like the Warren Commission, understood nothing about the degree to which the Soviet government had always relied on disinformation and deception, to the point of even falsifying the Moscow street maps and telephone books.

“Evidently no one remembered that Khrushchev had boldly lied to President Kennedy in denying that the Soviets were putting nuclear missiles on Cuba.”

The authors also highlight significant new information provided by the Mitrokhin Archive, a collection of intelligence material from a KGB officer who defected to the U.K. in 1992. Mitrokhin presented a handwritten note purporting to be from Oswald to Texas oil tycoon H.L. Hunt. The former KGB major says it was a fabrication by the KGB using words and expressions taken from actual letters handwritten by Oswald during his stay in the Soviet Union.

The new revelations bolster Pacepa’s presumption that the letter, authenticated by the New York Times as being handwritten by Oswald, was in fact produced by the KGB.

The KGB’s intent was to implicate wealthy Texans in the assassination.

Pacepa also documents new revelations that indicate Cuban communist leader Fidel Castro, a close ally of Moscow, knew in advance that JFK would be killed during his Nov. 22, 1963, visit to Dallas.

‘Crown jewel’ of disinformation

Pacepa and Rychlak write that the “jewel in the crown of Soviet disinformation” connected with Oswald’s story is the recently published revelation about the U-2 spy plane flown by Francis Gary Powers over the Soviet Union.

Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev examines items retrieved from the downed U-2 spy plane

It was not shot down by Soviet rockets, as the Russians have always claimed, but was brought down by a Sukhoi Su-9 plane that had been specially modified to achieve higher altitudes.

They say it appears that Oswald provided the KGB with the highly secret flight altitude of the U-2 plane, enabling the Soviets to prepare the specially modified plane and have it ready to intercept the U.S. spy plane.

The unarmed Su-9 caught the U-2 in its slipstream, causing it to flip over and break its wings.

The measure allowed Powers to be captured alive and paraded by Kruschev as a propaganda prize.

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