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The New JFK Files Reveal How the CIA Tracked Oswald

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The latest collection of JFK assassination files, expelled Dec 15, irradiate a story that the CIA still denies: the notice of accused murderer Lee Harvey Oswald in the years before he shot and killed President John F. Kennedy.

Two files uphold what the CIA continues to blear to this day: the early seductiveness of the Agency’s counterintelligence staff in Oswald, a former Marine Corp radio user who lived in the Soviet Union and publicly vibrated for a pro-Castro organisation in New Orleans in late 1963.

“For decades, discuss has raged not only over either Oswald acted alone but either the FBI and CIA could have stopped him. The latest papers yield fresh explanation that he was in their sights,” reported the Dallas Morning News.


The CIA started intercepting and reading Oswald’s mail in Nov 1959, just days after he defected to the Soviet Union, according to a declassified Senate memo. The mail prevent program, run by counterintelligence arch James Angleton, opened and copied Oswald’s association from Nov. 11, 1959, to May 3, 1960, and again from Aug. 7, 1961, to May 28, 1962.

The CIA prisoner several letters from Oswald’s mother, which were copied and filed by Angleton’s staff. The mail notice was dropped when Oswald returned to the United States in Jun 1962.

But the CIA continued to guard Oswald’s actions by late 1963. A formerly expelled memo shows that 9 CIA and FBI papers about Oswald were delivered to Angleton’s staff between Sep and Nov 1963. Those reports endangered Oswald’s pro-Castro domestic activities in New Orleans, his detain for fighting with CIA-funded Cubans, his inclination to kick his wife, and his contacts with reputed Soviet and Cuban comprehension officers in Mexico City.

In a piece for the Washington Decoded blog, David Robarge, arch historian for the CIA, downplayed the stress of Angleton’s notice of Oswald.

“The US supervision did not have actionable information that Oswald was a transparent hazard to the President before 22 Nov 1963,” Robarge wrote.

Historians and journalists, he cautioned, “must sincerely consider since people acted formed on what they knew at the time and not make judgments about what they could or should have finished since of how events played out.”

The new papers capacitate the open to see what Angleton and other comparison CIA officers knew at the time about Oswald—and it was distant some-more than they shared with colleagues while Kennedy was still alive.

Based on the mail notice and the essence of Oswald’s file in mid-October 1963, Angleton could have told colleagues at the CIA and FBI that Oswald was a aroused revolutionary who was active in a pro-Castro organization, had lived in the Soviet Union and had contacted a KGB officer who competence have been an assassin. Those contribution positively competent as “actionable information,” nonetheless Angleton took no action.

As we recently reported in the Daily Beast, Angleton’s bureau was even sensitive by the FBI on Nov. 15, 1963, that Oswald had returned from Mexico and was vital in Dallas. Again, Angleton took no action.

Seven days later, President Kennedy was passed and Lee Harvey Oswald was in control as the arch suspect. Oswald denied killing Kennedy, job himself a “patsy.” Oswald was killed in police control the next day by nightclub owners Jack Ruby, igniting conspiratorial suspicions that have never left away.

‘Anti-Castro Forces Involved’

A former CIA agent told a House questioner he celebrated Oswald in New Orleans in the summer of 1963 and did not trust he was obliged for killing Kennedy, according to partially declassified talk notes.

In 1975, William Gaudet, the editor of a newsletter on Latin American open affairs, told Bernard Fensterwald of the House Select Committee on Assassinations, that he total his edition business with CIA assignments from 1947 to 1969.  

“Gaudet pronounced he never met Oswald, only that he celebrated him on occasion.…he described him as a miserable little quadruped who would do anything for money,” Fensterwald wrote. “Believed he was being financed by someone.”

Gaudet “doubts if he could have pulled off the purloin fire in Dealey Plaza as LHO was terribly shaken and disorganized,” Fensterwald reported.

“As to JFK slaying [he] believes Warren Report is a angel story which shall come totally deranged very soon,” Fensterwald wrote. “Believes anti-Castro forces involved.”

Other files expelled last week strut Gaudet’s explain that he worked for the CIA. The organisation paid Gaudet for “discussions up to the turn of Secret information” in the early 1950s, according to one memo. Another memo shows that in 1962, Gaudet’s business partner offering the CIA a “cover position in his firm’s bureau in Panama,” but does not contend either the offer was accepted.

Gaudet pronounced CIA officer (and future Watergate burglar) E. Howard Hunt “knows some-more about Dallas than any other person he can consider of.” He pronounced Hunt was “God” to the anti-Castro Cubans.

In a 1975 talk with investigators, also done open Dec 15, Hunt conceded he was “bitter” about JFK’s Cuba policy, but denied any impasse in Kennedy’s assassination.

In 2004, Hunt told his son that some of his CIA colleagues were concerned in a JFK assassination conspiracy, which he called “the big event.” Hunt died in 2007.

What It Means

The new JFK files strew some-more light on how the CIA monitored Oswald’s travels, his politics and his personal life for 4 years before JFK’s assassination. The files show how the CIA ought to censor the sum of pre-assassination seductiveness in Oswald from the open and investigators, lending faith to the idea that the JFK review was “controlled, not botched.”

And they irradiate the stability privacy around CIA operations in New Orleans in 1963. While many of Gaudet’s comments are now public, the genuine name of the arch of the CIA’s New Orleans bureau 50 years ago is still redacted in the open chronicle of the document. This unusual secrecy, while extraordinary if not suspicious, stays the normal when it comes to JFK files.

In 2003, we sued the CIA for the annals of a CIA clandestine officer, George Joannides, who saved the anti-Castro organisation that fought with Oswald and who confirmed a chateau in New Orleans. The CIA identified 280 annals manageable to my lawsuit that have never been released—for reasons of “national security.”

Jefferson Morley is AlterNet’s Washington correspondent. He is the author of the stirring biography The Ghost: The Secret Life of CIA Spymaster James Jesus Angleton (St. Martin’s Press, Oct 2017).

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