It’s a big Monday for conspiracy theory nuts. In a report this weekend, Politico unearthed a declassified memo that admits the CIA intentionally lied to the Warren Commission, the group of high-ranking leaders tasked with investigating the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
The Commission found that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone, without the aid of foreign governments, despite having met with Cuban officials at the Soviet Embassy in Mexico a month before the shooting.
One of the reason Chief Justice Earl Warren came to that conclusion was that the CIA Director at the time, John McCone, testifying before the committee, did not reveal the CIA had repeatedly attempted to kill Cuban president Fidel Castro.
Kinda a big deal, you know?
Here’s the crux of the report.
Half a century after JFK’s death, in a once-secret report written in 2013 by the CIA’s top in-house historian and quietly declassified last fall, the spy agency acknowledges what others were convinced of long ago: that McCone and other senior CIA officials were “complicit” in keeping “incendiary” information from the Warren Commission.
According to the report by CIA historian David Robarge, McCone, who died in 1991, was at the heart of a “benign cover-up” at the spy agency, intended to keep the commission focused on “what the Agency believed at the time was the ‘best truth’—that Lee Harvey Oswald, for as yet undetermined motives, had acted alone in killing John Kennedy.” The most important information that McCone withheld from the commission in its 1964 investigation, the report found, was the existence, for years, of CIA plots to assassinate Castro, some of which put the CIA in cahoots with the Mafia. Without this information, the commission never even knew to ask the question of whether Oswald had accomplices in Cuba or elsewhere who wanted Kennedy dead in retaliation for the Castro plots.
Even the CIA’s in-house historian acknowledges it as a cover-up coming from the top.
The decision of McCone and Agency leaders in 1964 not to disclose information about CIA’s anti-Castro schemes might have done more to undermine the credibility of the commission than anything else that happened while it was conducting its investigation,” the report reads. “In that sense—and in that sense alone—McCone may be regarded as a ‘co-conspirator’ in the JFK assassination ‘cover-up.’”
Although there is no reason confirmed for McCone’s deception, many believe the directive may have come straight from the Johnson White House, who wanted to keep such activity under wraps.
The report offers no conclusion about McCone’s motivations, including why he would go to lengths to cover-up CIA activities that mostly predated his time at the agency. But it suggests that the Johnson White House might have directed McCone to hide the information. McCone “shared the administration’s interest in avoiding disclosures about covert actions that would circumstantially implicate [the] CIA in conspiracy theories and possibly lead to calls for a tough US response against the perpetrators of the assassination,” the article reads. “If the commission did not know to ask about covert operations about Cuba, he was not going to give them any suggestions about where to look.”
Is it possible then that Cuba had some role in the Kennedy assassination? Absolutely. But, this being the CIA, it could also be something completely different.
The declassification of the bulk of the 2013 McCone report might suggest a new openness by the CIA in trying to resolve the lingering mysteries about the Kennedy assassination. At the same time, there are 15 places in the public version of the report where the CIA has deleted sensitive information—sometimes individual names, sometimes whole sentences. It is an acknowledgement, it seems, that there are still secrets about the Kennedy assassination hidden in the agency’s files.
They so know who killed Kennedy.
Read the whole story here.