Electronic Assassinations Newsletter

Issue #2 New Discoveries in the Recently Released Assassination Files

No Smoking Gun, But Something Smells


Jerry Policoff and John Judge

Originally published in The Fourth Decade, Volume 4, #1, November, 1996.

While there is not yet a "smoking gun" revelation in the government files released to date, researchers are uncovering important new information. Not even a third of the documents we know exist have been made public, and certain files hold the promise of unlocking the truth. Much that is new will be revealed in up-coming articles and books by Anthony Summers, John Newman, et al, and at the Three Decades of Doubt conference this fall. In the meantime, researchers report that available material includes:

* CIA reports on interviews with Priscilla McMillan (nee Johnson) describe her as a "witting collaborator" of the Agency. This adds to the suspicions of many researchers that she had close ties to the Central Intelligence Agency, a role she has always denied. McMillan, then Moscow correspondent for the North American Newspaper Alliance, interviewed the "defector," Lee Harvey Oswald in the Soviet Union - at the suggestion of the American Embassy. She later became a confidante of Oswald's widow and co-authored Marina and Lee ,with her. This book, and many Freudian OP-ED pieces written by Priscilla over the years have helped to reinforce the image of Lee Harvey Oswald as a hapless, maladjusted, lone assassin in the public's mind. Priscilla McMillan also played a prominent role in the 1993 "Frontline" special that painted a similar portrait of Oswald.

* Recently declassified files add new weight to previous speculation that medical evidence in the JFK case might have been tampered with. Autopsy Surgeon Pierre Finck, for example, told the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) that certain photos of the skull entrance wound are not among current material he was shown at the National Archives. He repeatedly insisted that a photo that is in the collection does not depict the wound he saw and directed to be photographed. The files also confirm, in the HSCA testimony of five witnesses, including all three autopsy pathologists, that photos were taken of the interior of President Kennedy's chest cavity. These photographs, if they still exist, are not among the supposedly complete collection of autopsy photos and X-rays housed at the National Archives. The presence of this testimony in the record brings into serious question the integrity of the findings of the HSCA, as well as casting further doubt on the official government findings.

* A recently declassified transcript of the HSCA's interview with former CIA agent turned Agency-critic, Phillip Agee, contains some tantalizing gossip. Agee confirms that he had heard "rumors" at the Agency that Lee Harvey Oswald "was our agent." Agee notes that, if so, the critical files would not name Oswald. "You are always referring to them by cryptonym." Agee adds that if Oswald had an operational relationship with the Agency, "They would have taken that file and put it somewhere where nobody could find it."

* A new document shows that on November 24, 1963, the day Oswald died, and two days after the Dallas murders, a memo passed from FBI agent Belmont to Clyde Tolson, DeLoach, Mohr and Rosen concerning plans to prepare a memo to U.S. Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach about Lee Harvey Oswald. They wanted to show that "...Oswald is responsible for the shooting that killed the President. We will show that Oswald was an avowed Marxist, a former defector to the Soviet Union and an active member of the FPCC [Fair Play for Cuba Committee], which has been financed by Castro." Before the Warren Commission had even been formed, the FBI seems intent on painting Oswald as an agent or dupe of Castro.

They planned to rely on the investigative findings of Dallas Special Agent in Charge, Gordon Shanklin, and sent two agents, Rogge and Thompson to secure the evidence and fly back "by Air Force plane" that night. Katzenbach was busy trying to "keep the Chief of Police and Lieutenant Fritz off television and radio," but wanted to put out a statement blaming Oswald, but noting that "the investigation ... is continuing." Cartha "Deke" DeLoach, working with William Sullivan in Division V (Domestic Operations), "advised ... that the FBI [was] opposed to any statement being put out along this line." Was their investigation finished?

* Jack Ruby's name appears in many of the documents. Perhaps the most interesting is an FBI form memo, sent to the Special Agent in Charge from agent Charles Alyer in Dallas, giving background on a "PCI", or Potential Criminal Informant. The "date developed" is March 11, 1959, and the informant described in detail is Jack Ruby, owner of the Vegas Club in Oak Lawn, Texas.

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