Saturday, November 4, 2017


                                                              by Dan L. Hardway
                                                             © November 4, 2017

            James Angleton set the strategy in 1964.  "Jim would prefer to wait out the Commission," as one CIA memo about Warren Commission inquiries put it.[1]  They are still doing that as well as running their propaganda campaign against anyone who questions the lone-nut theory, their "best truth" according to David Robarge.[2]

            I recently published an article about the delay in releasing records under the 1992 JFK Records Collections Act.  In that article I explained the CIA’s play to discredit those who question their lone-nut theory best truth and suggested that their historian, David Robarge, has told us what to look for in the documents that are still being withheld.[3]  In that article I suggested we should look for information regarding covert operations against Cuba that would “circumstantially implicate CIA in conspiracy theories” – Mr. Robarge’s words.[4]  While I doubt the existence of a “smoking gun,” the circumstantial evidence we might look for in the delayed files could show a correlation between Lee Harvey Oswald’s activities in New Orleans and Mexico City in the late summer and fall of 1963 and CIA covert operations that were occurring at that time.[5]  I specifically suggest that we look to files on operations involving George Joannides, the Directorio Revolucionario Estudiantil (“DRE”) and David Phillips.  These are files, or at least some of them, that are in the JFK records that were scheduled for release.

            On October 26, 1992, the U.S. Congress passed S. 3006, with only one amendment and very little, if any, opposition.  The Senate bill, introduced by Senator John Glenn of Ohio, was signed the same day by the President George H.W. Bush and became Public Law 102-526,   (“JFK Records Act”). Among other things the JFK Records Act provided for the collection, preservation and eventual release of all records related to the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy with minimal exceptions.  It mandates, in clear and unambiguous language, “[e]ach assassination record shall be publicly disclosed in full, and available in the Collection no later than the date that is 25 years after the date of enactment of this Act.”  The Act allows an exemption to this explicit mandatory requirement only if the President “certifies” that the release of each withheld document “is made necessary by an identifiable harm to” either 1) military defense; 2) intelligence operations; 3) law enforcement; or 4) the conduct of foreign relations and “the identifiable harm is of such gravity that it outweighs the public interest in disclosure.”[6]  

            NARA released some of the files that I have been waiting on yesterday, November 3, 2017.  The Excel spreadsheet listing the released files include four files referenced to David Atlee Phillips and one file referenced to the DRE.[7]  Of the files referencing Phillips, three are of an unspecified nature and one is listed as his Office of Personnel (OP) file.  The DRE file is listed as “CIA file on DRE AMSPELL operations.” 
            AMSPELL is a CIA cryptonym for DRE, the anti-Castro Cuban group that was ran by George Joannides in 1963, that had the encounter with Oswald in New Orleans in 1963, and published the first conspiracy theory blaming Castro in their CIA financed newspaper in Miami on November 254, 1963.  The file released yesterday, for such an active group, is a very thin 87 pages of which 61 are expurgated in full.  Of the remaining 26 pages, many are largely expurgated.  The Phillips files are even worse.  The three files of unspecified type may be some of his operational files.  These files are even more highly expurgated than the AMSPELL file.  Taking the 73 page long file RIF 104-10177-10135 as an example:
            3 pages are a confidential notice that the file has been processed and retired which notice is reprinted in full;
            3 pages are the file’s routing sheet that has been partially released with redaction of any significant information;
            2 pages are a 1975 FOIA request from The Bay City Times, a newspaper in Bay City, Michigan, reproduced in full;
            1 page is a Document Transfer and Cross Reference” form indicating that records of a project apparently named “Furioso C” have been removed from this file and sent to another section of the CIA with a redaction that not only removes the substantive entry but also the name of the space on the form where the entry was made;
                        2 pages are partially redacted memoranda;
            3 pages are Security information forms for Project Furioso C with all substantive information redacted; 2 pages are a Project Financial Data form from 1952 with no substantive information that is not redacted;
            6 pages are partially redacted routing sheets for documents, none of which have the routed document attached;
                        1 page is a partially redacted cable from 1952;
            2 pages are copies, unredacted of logs of HSCA access to the file, showing that I saw the file in 1978.
The remaining 48 pages are redacted in full. 

            The file that is listed as David Atlee Phillips’s OP file is not as heavily redacted as the other three Phillips files although many of the documents, mainly personnel forms, it contains have been cleansed of any significant data.  That, however, is not the end of the story on this file.  The file starts with a few items of post-retirement correspondence to between him and the CIA in 1975 and then proceeds chronologically backwards from his retirement in 1975.  I have not yet been able to go through the 358 page file to carefully study all the documents, but I have gone through it well enough to note that all his fitness reports between 1956 and 1965 are missing – not redacted, just simply not there.  Indeed, so far as I have been able to find, there is no record whatsoever of a document in the file dated between 1961 and 1965 – not redacted, just simply not there.

            There has been no explanation, let alone a presidential certification, that the massive redactions in these "released in full" documents meet any of the mandatory exemptions that allow withholding.  No identifiable harm is specified.  No rationale is given as to why the secrets protected outweigh the public interest in disclosure.  These files are not in compliance with the law no matter what the main stream media says.  They are an in-your-face flipped bird to the American public.  They basically tell us that the CIA is saying that they don't have to comply with the law of the land and that they will not tell us their secrets and that there is nothing we can do about it.  I've been here before.  It was in a small room in CIA Headquarters in late 1978.  I had been fighting to see a file generated by the CIA debriefing of Johnny Roselli.  Scott Breckinridge and George Joannides had just handed me a highly redacted file that violated the HSCA/CIA Memorandum of Understanding mandating unexpurgated access by HSCA to CIA files.  They stood by, grinning, as they watched my reaction upon opening the file to find it largely expurgated.  They were grinning so hard because they knew they had waited out the HSCA and there was nothing I could do about it.  The Angleton strategy still worked.  It is still working today.

            This release not only demonstrates that the Angleton strategy is still being applied.  It also illustrates the point I have been making about what they are covering up.  There may well be nothing we can do about it.  It appears our lawmakers are spineless in the face of the intelligence community.  Joseph Burkholder Smith, a retired CIA officer, told me and Gaeton Fonzi in 1978, “You represent Congress.  What the f*** is that to the CIA?  You’ll be gone in two years and the CIA will still be there.”  To paraphrase that to fit the situation in which we now find ourselves: “You are the people that Congress supposedly represents.  What’s that to the CIA?  You’ll forget about it in a few weeks or so.” 

            But I won’t.  I wrote a letter to my Senator yesterday before I saw the travesty that was the day’s release of JFK documents by NARA.  Probably a futile gesture, but one I had to take anyway.  Here’s what I told him: 

            “Please allow me first to introduce myself a bit.  While I am your constituent, I do not believe we have ever met.  I was born and raised in Webster County, West Virginia, and still reside on the farm my grandfather purchased in the 1940's outside of Cowen.  I am a graduate of WVU – 1976 – and while there got to know some of the members of your family.  I had the privilege of running your first cousin Tim Manchin’s campaign for a seat on the WVU student government Board in the mid-70's.  I am a 1980 graduate of Cornell Law School and a former law clerk for Justice Tom McHugh of the West Virginia Supreme Court.  I took a year and a half leave of absence from law school to work as a researcher for the U.S. House of Representatives Select Committee on Assassinations in 1977-1978.  My primary area of responsibility in the Committee’s work was to investigate the Central Intelligence Agency and Lee Harvey Oswald in Mexico City.  Most of the work I produced for the Committee remains classified.  I am presently registered to vote in Webster County with an Independent affiliation.
           "I am aware that the Republicans in this state are trying to mount a serious challenge to you in the upcoming election and I am presently considering whether to become involved in the campaign and, if I do, who I am going to support.  In that regard, and in view of your position on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, your position on an issue that is very important to me will influence whether I decide to actively support you in the upcoming election.  That issue is the release – or I should say, the failure to release – the records currently held in the JFK Records Collection by the National Archives and Records Administration.  While the records, and access to them, is of great interest to me, the real issues raised by the failure to release them are much more fundamental than just access to the assassination records.  It is these fundamental issues that I want to explain and upon which I wish to hear your opinion.
            "On October 26, 1992, the U.S. Congress passed S. 3006, with only one amendment and very little, if any, opposition.  The Senate bill introduced by Senator John Glenn of Ohio was signed the same day by the President George H.W. Bush and became Public Law 102-526 which is codified at 44 U.S.C. § 2107 note (“JFK Records Act”). Among other things the JFK Records Act provided for the collection, preservation and eventual release of all records related to the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy with minimal exceptions.  Among its other provision, the JFK Records Act, at § 5(g)(2)(D), mandates in clear and unambiguous language “[e]ach assassination record shall be publicly disclosed in full, and available in the Collection no later than the date that is 25 years after the date of enactment of this Act.”  The Act allows an exemption to this explicit mandatory requirement only if the President “certifies” that the release of each withheld document “is made necessary by an identifiable harm to” either 1) military defense; 2) intelligence operations; 3) law enforcement; or 4) the conduct of foreign relations and “the identifiable harm is of such gravity that it outweighs the public interest in disclosure.”   [Emphasis added.]
            "I note that this is a law duly enacted and adopted by the democratic processes of this country in 1992 – a country where we supposedly pride ourselves on being a nation of laws, a nation where the law applies to each and to all regardless of status or position.  On October 26, 2017, as I am sure you are aware, President Donald Trump, at the request of the Central Intelligence Agency and other intelligence community members, disregarded the clear provisions of the law and postponed release of ninety percent of the remaining withheld documents in the JFK Records Collection for an additional six months.  In doing this, the President made no findings, issued no orders and certified nothing, merely issuing a statement through the press office saying that all documents will be released “with redactions only in the rarest of circumstances” by April 26, 2018.
            "The President’s action was not only without authority in law, it was also taken in patent violation of the clear, unambiguous and mandatory terms of a law that your institution passed.  In this situation, I would be tempted to file a suit against the President if it were not for the facts that: 1) the Courts have already held that the JFK Records Act does not provide a basis for any private cause of action for U.S. citizens, Assassination Archives and Research Center v. Dep’t. of Justice, 43 F.3d 1542, 1544 (D.C. Cir. 1995); 2) Federal Court litigation is too expensive to allow access to a normal citizen trying to hold his government accountable; and 3) it would take more than six months to get a case through to a decision in Federal Court so the action would represent no type of check or correction to the problem.
            "The real problem that this presents is that it is showing to the nation that the intelligence agencies of our nation are not subject to the laws of the nation.  They are effectively above the law.  At their request, or pressure, the President of the United States will violate the clear mandates of enacted legislation.  And, to date, the reaction of our elected representatives in Congress seems to reinforce the fact that no one is willing to stand up to such blatant disregard of the clear provisions of the duly enacted laws of the nation.  I understand that it is the executive branch that is charged with the enforcement of the laws your branch enacts and, in this case, it is the executive branch that is violating the law so there can be little realistic expectation of enforcement from them.  But this is the heart of the problem and why it is incumbent upon the Congress to act.  At a minimum there should be oversight hearings.  At a minimum the Congress should not be seen to willingly acquiesce in executive contempt for the Legislative branch of government and the law of the land. 
            "This action on the part of the intelligence community, the National Archives, and the Executive is only the latest in a long string of actions that disregard the provisions of the JFK Records Act that also subvert and cover up the information related to the assassination of our 35th president.  Those other actions are beyond the present scope of this letter, but are things about which I would be glad to speak with you if you have any interest, so I will not go into them here.
            "To my knowledge there has been no coverage or explanation of why the intelligence community has requested this delay of the President.  It was made in secret.  What reason have they given for the delay?  What kind of pressure have they brought to bear?  How can they force a president to so blatantly disregard the law?  If they can do this in regard to disclosure of fifty-year-old records, in what else can they exercise a like secret influence that corrupts the laws of the nation?  What affect does the existence and use of such secret power have on our democracy? If these things – not just the documents but the method of influence – remain always secret, then how can a citizenry be sufficiently informed so as to exercise their franchise to any real purpose?  How can we have faith in our democracy, let alone our government, if this kind of practice is allowed to continue unchallenged?  These are the questions that I would like to have answered.  But, to make it easier for you, I note you are in a unique position in regard to these issues due to your membership on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.  Are you at least going to call and press for public hearings on any of these issues?  Or are you going to join the vast majority of our representatives and once again cower before the intelligence agencies?  Will you stand up for your constituents’ right to participate in their government on an informed basis?  Will you stand for holding our government to a standard of open honesty before its citizens and against allowing the real affairs of state to be conducted in secret and in disregard of the laws enacted by the peoples’ representatives?
            "I anxiously await your answer.” 

            The questions I asked Joe Manchin in that letter are even more pressing today.  I don’t know if he’ll even answer, let alone do anything.  Maybe like Chuck Grassley, he’ll send out an apparently frustrated tweet.  Or maybe, like the main stream press, he’ll tout the release of the documents, hoping no one will look to see what a travesty the “release” is because of the massive redactions.  At this point all I can do is try to tell the truth about this whole state of affairs.  I also encourage you to not take this insult to your intelligence and ability to govern yourselves without reaction.  Do something.  If nothing else, circulate this article to everyone you know.  Refuse to accept the cancer of secrecy that destroys our liberty and ability to govern ourselves.  Get involved.  Get informed.  Stay informed.  Read and follow and  Join the AARC at  Join CAPA at  If those who exercise the power in this country have such blatant contempt for the law, then the time for serious peaceful civil disobedience may be upon us.  Get the word out.  Don’t be silent any longer.  This is not an issue of the left or the right.  Do something.  Say something.  And don’t stop until you are heard. 


[1]. Raymond Rocca to Richard Helms, Memo Re Response to Rankin, 5 Mar 1964, NARA Record No.  1993.06.24.14:59:13:840170, available at
[2]. David Robarge, “DCI John McCone and the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy,” Studies in Intelligence, (Vol. 57, No. 3, 09/2013), Approved for Release and declassified, 09/29/2014, at page 20.  Available at  Robarge wrote: “The DCI was complicit in keeping incendiary and diversionary issues off the commission’s agenda and focusing it 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.”  For my commentary on the CIA’s “best truth”, see Thank You, Phil Shenon available at  Note that the “best truth” was conditioned by “at the time” leaving open the real possibility that alternative cover stories may have to be brought to play in the event that time undermined what the Agency considered to be the best truth for them.
[3]. Dan Hardway, What Were They Hiding and What Should We Look For, 30 Oct 2017, available at
[4]. Robarge, n. 2 above, at p. 9.
[5]. This is addressed in more detail at JFKFacts, Exclusive: JFK investigator on how CIA stonewalled Congress,; Declaration of Dan L. Hardway, Morley v. CIA, CA # 03-02545-RJL, D.C.D.C. 11 May 2016, Docket No. 156.
[6]. 44 U.S.C. § 2107 note  § 5(g)(2)(D).  Emphasis added.
[7]., RIF Nos. 104-10176-10121, 104-10177-10135, 104-10177-10134, 104-10194-10026, and 104-10170-10121.

Monday, October 30, 2017


By Dan L. Hardway © October 26, 2017
(Revised October 30, 2017)

As we go into the hysteria of a massive JFK document dump, there is one remarkably surviving document that has already been released that we should keep in mind – especially when reading news coverage of the documents scheduled for release under the JFK Records Collection Act.  
The Plan for Countering Criticism
On April 1, 1967, the Head of the Covert Action Staff of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) sent a dispatch to many of the CIA stations and bases around the world.i  That the document survived may be remarkable as it is clearly marked as “Destroy when no longer needed.”  Or, then again, maybe it is not remarkable that it has not been destroyed because the government and intelligence community’s efforts to silence those who question the official story about John Kennedy’s murder has never succeeded and, hence, the dispatch remains ‘needed’ from their viewpoint.
The dispatch lays out a plan for defending the lone nut theory first advanced as the major theme of the government cover-up of the assassination investigation.  The dispatch labels people who question the lone nut theory as “conspiracy theorists”.  It plainly states the purpose of the dispatch “is to provide material for countering and discrediting the claims of the conspiracy theorists…. Our play should point out, as applicable, that the critics are (i) wedded to theories adopted before the evidence was in, (ii) politically interested, (iii) financially interested, (iv) hasty and inaccurate in their research, or (v) infatuated with their own theories.”  It goes on to suggest that critics be countered by advancing arguments such as that they have produced no new evidence, that they overvalue some evidence while ignoring other evidence, that large scale conspiracies are “impossible to conceal in the United States,”  that Oswald would not have been any “sensible person’s choice for a co-conspirator”, and by pointing out the comprehensive work of the Warren Commission which was composed of men “chosen for their integrity, experience, and prominence.”  
The Plan in Hindsight
Many of the claims in the dispatch are ludicrous in hindsight, but are still parroted by main stream media sources.  We’ve seen them trotted out by lone nut theory defenders every time there has been a major breakthrough in the assassination investigation.  As I’ll discuss below, we are already seeing some of these “plays” (as the dispatch calls them) already before the JFK document release and I suspect we’ll see a lot more of them in the coming days. Let’s start by looking at the possible validity of the plays.  
At this point in time, fifty-four years after the assassination and fifty-three years after the publication of the Warren Report, there are researchers, analysts, historians, attorneys and many others who have been researching this case for most of that time.  Many of them do not advance “theories” about what happened, but rather try to find and analyze the facts that have been hidden for so long and ask questions about what they mean.  Let’s be clear here; current researchers, analysts, historians and others (hereinafter, researchers) are not wedded to theories that were adopted before the evidence was in.  But, let’s step back for a moment and examine prior government investigations.   The cover-up of the assassination began on Air Force One as it flew back to D.C. from Dallas.  The seeds are there in the released transcripts of Lyndon Johnson’s telephone calls.  If the standard is waiting to see all the evidence, then the Warren Commission, the first government investigatory effort, is totally discredited.   Researchers have proved beyond any reasonable argument or doubt that not only did the Warren Commission not have all the evidence in before issuing their report, the very investigating agencies upon whom they relied actively conspired to keep evidence from them – just as they have, and still do, actively conspired to keep the evidence from the American people.  Lone nut theorists appear to be the ones wedded to the theory adopted before the evidence is in and doing all they can to spin the evidence as it comes out to try to shore up support for their theories.
Now, let’s look at the political interest and financial interest argument relied upon by the CIA to counter so-called ‘conspiracy theorists’.   Arguing that the Warren Commission members, its supporters since, and those covering up the evidence and resisting release of documentation, were not politically or financially interested in the cover-up should be accepted as facially absurd at this point.  Even in 1967, the CIA dispatch openly admits to such interest, pointing out that opinion polls showing that more than half of the public was questioning the Warren Commission’s lone nut theory reflects a “trend of opinion [that] is a matter of concern to the U.S. Government, including our organization.”  Questioning the rectitude and wisdom of the members of the Warren Commission would “tend to cast doubt on the whole leadership of American society.”  An “increasing tendency to hint that President Johnson himself, as the one person who might be said to have benefited”ii could implicate him.  Such concerns “affects not only the individual concerned, but also the whole reputation of the American government.”iii   
The Chief of Covert Action then acknowledges the Agency’s own interest: “Our organization itself is directly involved: among other facts, we contributed information to the investigation.”  Indeed, they also covered-up information, as they have now admitted.iv  The Agency’s concern, one that continues to this day, is plainly stated: the conspiracy theories expose them to “suspicion on our organization, for example by falsely alleging that Lee Harvey Oswald worked for us.”  The CIA’s main personal, if you will, stake in covering up and countering criticism has always been to deflect any possible focus on their relationship to the purported lone-nut assassin.  
 Next, let’s review the hasty and inaccurate in their research argument.  How many documents are about to be released that have never been seen?  And who is it that is sure of their theory?  What can we say now about critics who for over fifty years have called for the release of all the information so that the American people can see and judge for themselves?  
Arguing that there is no new evidence is like standing in front of a camel and insisting it is a horse.  New evidence has dribbled out now over the decades, in small manageable doses that can be dismissed as disconnected by the lone-nut theorists.  And the blatant hubris of the argument is astounding.  These are people who can suppress the evidence and taunt you because you don’t have it!  It’s like prosecuting attorneys in criminal cases who refuse to reveal exculpatory evidence while simultaneously shifting the burden of proof to the accused.  And as for the weighing all the evidence argument, how do you expect that to go if you control the evidence and only let the evidence out that supports your theory?  Convenient.  And if someone else does come up with a fact that contradicts your lone-nut theory, you can always deny it even though you know your suppressed evidence supports it.  Given those facts, can anyone question why there has been such resistance by the Agency to full disclosure.
Then, there is the conspiracy theories can’t be hidden in America argument:  Can anyone credibly make that argument after the history the last four decades?   That’s why J. Edgar Hoover was able to do all that he did to undermine American civil liberties for fifty years without exposure that wouldn’t have even come then had there not been a break-in at a small FBI field office in Media, Pennsylvania.v  MKULTRA wasn’t as successful.  It was only covered up for 25 years or so, as was the CIA programs to save and use ex-Nazi scientists and intelligence officers after the Second World War.  Actually, all that needs to be said in rebuttal is that for 50 years the CIA and our government vehemently denied that there was a conspiracy to keep information from the Warren Commission.  It is a prime tenet and support of the lone-nut theorists.  In spite of the denials, finally, three years ago, the Agency in their internal secret magazine, in an article written by their official historian, admitted there was such a conspiracy, although they called it benignvi.  We’ll return to this in a bit.
Next, we have a point we will concede: Oswald as a co-conspirator.  We agree that Oswald was not the person that a rational leader might choose as a co-conspirator. But, is he one that a rational person might choose as a patsy?  -- an entirely different question.  Remember, that being a patsy was Oswald’s claim in one of the few brief encounters he had with the press.  That claim would have been, presumably, a major theme developed by competent defense lawyers had he lived long enough to be tried.  But the lone-nut theorists dismiss that possibility out of hand.  Nothing to see here, folks, just move on.  There was no investigation of this in the hasty Warren Commission investigation that led to the establishment of the lone-nut theory.
As far as the Warren Commission membership goes, we will concede their then-prominence, but we must wonder, in light of the evidence that has become available since, about their integrity and experience as support for the integrity of their work.  Allen Dulles was the head of the CIA fired by President Kennedy.  His collusion with the CIA in the pendency of the Warren Commission is shown in documents that have been released in the last few years.  He passed out a book to Commission members at their first meeting taking the position that American assassins are always lone-nuts.  Earl Warren was coerced into serving against his will by Lyndon Johnson.  Johnson used the supposed threat of nuclear war in convincing him to serve.  Gerald Ford was in J. Edgar Hoover’s pocket.  John J. McCloy was steeped in the intelligence community and was almost single handedly responsible for the end of prosecution of Nazi war criminals and the early release of those who had already been convicted when he became the High Commissioner for post-war Germany.  Richard Russell, Jr., and Hale Boggs both privately rejected the Warren Commission’s lone nut theory, as did Lyndon Johnson, Robert F. Kennedy, Jacqueline Kennedy and many, many others.  But the conspiracy of silence took years to break, and when broken, the revelations came out piecemeal and were dismissed at the time as insignificant, old news – just conspiracy theorists.
Conspiracy Theorists 
 Let’s not forget that the label, “conspiracy theorist”, is designed to be pejorative.  If you can stick it to someone, then you don’t have to listen to what they say.  Even if they are reporting new evidence, they’re just wacky conspiracy theorists.  Just like those nuts who for years said J. Edgar Hoover was running a program to subvert dissidents illegally, or that the CIA was illegally surveilling U.S. citizens, or that the CIA had covered up information to keep it from other government entities that were investigating the Kennedy murder, right?  Even if the person only reported facts and asked questions, they were (and are) labeled a “conspiracy theorist” solely for the purpose of undermining their credibility and lessening any impact they might have on public opinion.  What happens when the answer to the question they raised, “is it possible there was a conspiracy?’ is, “Not only is it possible, there was indeed a conspiracy,”?  At that point, the cover-up artists note that even a blind bird occasionally finds a worm.  And the cover-up artists say this without shame even though they have known about the conspiracy from the get-go.  The next stage is to come up with a new spin such as, the cover-up was “benign”, or shifting suspicion where they want it to go. 
As noted by Lance deHaven-Smith, a professor at Florida State University, the CIA in 1967 began a campaign to “popularize the term ‘conspiracy theory’ and make a conspiracy belief a target of ridicule and hostility.”  He notes that the campaign, “must be credited, unfortunately, with being one of the most successful propaganda initiatives in all time.”vii  He summarizes why the label has been used as a sword by those who resist the truth: “[T]he conspiracy-theory label, as it is applied in public discourse, does not disparage conspiratorial thinking or analysis in general, even though this is what the term suggests.  Rather the broad-brush ‘conspiracy theory’ disparages inquiry and questioning that challenge official accounts of troubling political events in which public officials themselves may have had a hand.  A conspiracy theory directs suspicion at officials who benefit from political crimes and tragedies.  The theories are considered dangerous not because they are obviously false, but because, viewed objectively and without deference to U.S. political officials and institutions, they are often quite plausible.viii 
The Plan in Action?
So, the first thing to remember going into these days of disclosure is to stop when you see the label and ask, “Why is the writer of this story disparaging this idea?  Who is he trying to deflect suspicion from?  Why is he trying to direct my suspicion elsewhere? Can I reject the label and recover an objective view about what this so-called conspiracy theorist had to say?”  Then, do your best to find out what the idea being attacked really is rather than just rejecting it out of hand because of the labeling.  Remember, the term “conspiracy theory” gained prominence as a result of a CIA led propaganda initiative specifically addressed at protecting their own interests.
We see a blatant example of this dismissive labeling in CNN’s coverage of the upcoming document release.  Jeremy Diamond writes, “A decision to withhold even a sliver of the documents could give conspiracy theorists more fodder to propel their claims.”ix  So, what you are supposed to take away is that if anyone raises any questions about documents being withheld after the release date, they have to be a “conspiracy theorist” who isn’t worthy of your time or attention.  Consider, what is there to hide at this point?  If something is not released, why is it illegitimate to ask why, especially in view of our government’s relationship with the truth, or lack thereof, over the past six decades?  What purpose is served by Mr. Diamond’s advance labeling?  
The appeal to authority is also used in battling “conspiracy theories.”  It is seen in the CIA dispatch’s appeal to the apparent authority of the Warren Commission created by the then-reputations of its members and the superficially extensive investigation.  This technique appears again in Mr. Diamond’s article: “Historians who have closely studied the Kennedy assassination have said they do not expect the documents to … contradict the conclusion that Lee Harvey Oswald was solely responsible for killing Kennedy.”x  Really, what historians?  Why are none named.  Why does he not give any consideration to people such as Dr. David R. Wrone, an emeritus professor of history at the University of Wisconsin, and Dr. John Newman, an adjunct professor of history at James Madison University, whose lifetime study of the subject has led them to the conclusion that Oswald could not have been solely responsible?xi  WE haven’t spoken to them but we would venture to guess that neither Dr. Wrone nor Dr. Newman expect the documents to support Mr. Diamond’s lone-nut theory.
Then we have Phil Shenon’s return to the fray in The Guardian this morning.xii Even in the title of his article, “Files will shed light on a JFK shooting conspiracy – but not the one you think”, Mr. Shenon starts to try to divert attention in the direction he wants it to go.  He states plainly what he doesn’t want you to consider: first, a second assassin in Dealey Plaza even though his assertion that “most credible” evidence supports the lone-nut theory is patently not true.xiii  
Second, about a mafia plot to kill Oswald he asks “What half-way competent Mob boss would choose a delusional blabbermouth like Ruby…?” echoing the CIA dispatch’s question about what rational person would ever choose Oswald as a co-conspirator?  Again, as with the CIA’s question, Shenon’s borrowed technique avoids the important questions and shuts off the possibility of objective investigation and consideration of other alternatives. It’s a form of straw-man argument, but more slanderous and pernicious – you must be crazy if you don’t accept what I say.  For example, what about the possibility that Ruby was called on as an emergency stop gap measure only after an initial plan to dispose of the patsy failed?  We are not saying that is what happened, but we are asking why it should be crazy, then or now, to consider the possibility and investigate it? 
Third, he states that conspiracy theorists have concocted “a sprawling coup d’├ętat involving everyone from President Johnson” on down the chain of command.  We, too, find that less credible than most.  But, then again, we have to consider that the evidence is now pretty much indisputable that President Johnson led the cover-up conspiracy and that his leadership and the conspiracy to cover-up anything that didn’t support the lone nut theory began immediately after the assassination.  We have to ask, “Doesn’t that raise questions in your mind that merit investigation and, if possible, answers?”  Why should we accept Mr. Shenon’s belittling dismissal of any questioning or review to see what’s actually in the evidence before we dismiss it?  
The Cover-Up Fallback
So, having told you what not to look for because even raising the questions can undermine proper deference to U.S. officials and institutions, he gives us the concession that we are now to believe:  The CIA has admitted they participated in a benign cover-up of information during the Warren Commission investigation.xiv  Mr. Shenon acknowledges that the evidence is indisputable that both the CIA and the FBI had, at least, had Oswald under “aggressive surveillance in the months before the assassination.”xv  Mr. Shenon then advances the spin that the CIA and FBI embarrassment over not taking action to better protect the president in Dallas in light of what they knew is the reason for the benign cover-up: “ [I]mmediately after the assassination, panicked officials at both the CIA and FBI tried, desperately, to cover up evidence of the extent of their knowledge of Oswald, fearing their bungling of the intelligence about JFK’s assassin might be exposed – and that they would be blamed for the president’s murder.”  
Yes sir, that certainly explains why the cover-up began immediately on Air Force One on the way back to D.C. on November 22, 1963.  As ridiculous as that idea is, it’s even more ridiculous to think that this embarrassment of two agencies would lead the whole government – from the president on down -- not just to cover up then, but to continue the cover-up and resist disclosure for more than fifty years of most of the documentary evidence, not to mention the massive destruction of evidence that has taken place already.  When an offered concession is as implausible as this one is, what is the question that the lone nut theorists are trying to avoid being asked?  
Could there have been other motivations for such a cover-up?  Are we allowed to ask?  So glad you asked.  You are not only allowed to ask, you should ask.  Remember, in the 1967 dispatch the CIA acknowledged their basis of concern and, I believe, their motivation for participating in, if not leading, the cover-up of information for all these years.  It wasn’t just hiding information from the Warren Commission but continuing to hide it and resist its disclosure even up to the present.  They acknowledged that the main CIA concern was that conspiracy theories might link them to the use of Oswald in intelligence operations.  This concern is still found in David Robarge’s article admitting CIA’s, or at least, Director McCone’s, participation in a conspiracy to hide information from the Warren Commission.  The article talks about the anti-Castro plots and the Nosenko information that was not shared with the Commission.xvi  This was used as an opportunity by Mr. Shenon to revive the kinda-like-maybe Castro did it theory, a theory first raised on November 23rd in a Cuban exile publication sponsored and paid for by the CIA .xvii  
But you have to read Mr. Robarge’s article carefully.  It is always wise to carefully parse CIA pronouncements to see what they are actually saying.  Mr. Robarge never specifically states that the CIA was mainly concerned in suppressing Kennedy murder information in preventing information about their attempts to murder Castro getting out.  Here’s what he actually says about the motivation for the cover-up: “Moreover, the DCI shared the [Johnson] administration’s interest in avoiding disclosures about covert actions that would circumstantially implicate CIA in conspiracy theories, and possibly lead to calls for a tough US response against the perpetrators of the assassination.  If the commission did not know to ask about covert operations against Cuba, he was not going to give them any suggestions where to look.”xviii 
Taken as a whole, the statement would draw you to infer that the Castro assassination plots were what was being covered up.  But if that is the case, why has the resistance to disclosure remained so fierce even after those plots were disclosed in 1975?  And earlier in the article, Robarge clearly states that electronic intercepts had, within a few days, convinced the administration and the Agency that neither the USSR nor Cuba had any complicity in the assassination.xix  Since they already knew that neither Soviet Russia nor Cuba were complicit who did the Agency fear might be the objects of calls for a tough response?    Notice the specific structure of Mr. Robarge’s statement: “avoiding disclosures about covert actions that would circumstantially implicate CIA in conspiracy theories.”  We submit that this is the same motivation that existed in 1967 as stated by the CIA Chief of Covert Action in the April 1 dispatch: “Conspiracy theories have frequently thrown suspicion on our organization, for example by falsely alleging that Lee Harvey Oswald worked for us.”xx  
The CIA has told us what they were trying to hide.  Not disclosures that would implicate Cubans in Kennedy assassination conspiracy theories but rather covert operations against Cuba that could “circumstantially implicate CIA” in Kennedy assassination conspiracy theories.  They have been trying to hide information that could implicate them as an organization participating in a conspiracy based on the fact that Oswald was not only under aggressive surveillance, but was also being utilized in some capacity by them in active intelligence operations shortly before the assassination.   Those operations were directed at Cuba.  The ones they didn’t want to be asked about, as Mr. Robarge states, were “covert operations against Cuba,” not covert Castro assassination plans.  Please note in his article that Robarge is careful to specify the Castro assassination plots when he is talking about them.  He is equally careful here to not reference them but, rather, more general “covert operations against Cuba.”  We should be looking for information on Oswald’s involvement in those operations in this document release.  They’ve told us where to look.
A Smoking Gun?
The most common question I’ve been asked the past week or so is, “Do you think there will be a smoking gun in the documents that will be released by the National Archives?xxi   Let’s listen in while members of the Warren Commission members discuss whether they might find documentary evidence, or even truthful sworn testimony, that Oswald had some kind of working relationship with the FBI or the CIA:
            “Sen. Russell. If Oswald never had assassinated the President or at least been charged with assassinating the President and had been in the employ of the FBI and somebody had gone to the FBI they would have denied he was an agent.
Mr. Dulles. Oh, yes.
Sen. Russell. They would be the first to deny it. Your agents would have done exactly the same thing.
Mr. Dulles. Exactly. 
[a long discussion then follows about whether and how the Commission should investigate the allegation that Oswald may have been and FBI informant, then:]
Mr. Dulles. There is a terribly hard thing to disprove, you know. How do you disprove a fellow was not your agent. How do you disprove it.
Rep. Boggs. You could disprove it, couldn't you?
Mr. Dulles. No.
Rep. Boggs. I know, ask questions about something —
Mr. Dulles. I never knew how to disprove it.
Rep. Boggs. So I will ask you. Did you have agents about whom you had no record whatsoever?
Mr. Dulles. The record might not be on paper. But on paper would have hieroglyphics that only two pople knew what they meant, and nobody outside the agency else could say it meant another agent.
Rep. Boggs. Let's take a specific case, that fellow Powers was one of your men.
Mr. Dulles. Oh, yes, he was not an agent. He was an employee.
Rep. Boggs. There was no problem in proving he was employed by the CIA.
Mr. Dulles. No. We had a signed contract.
Rep. Boggs. Let's say Powers did not have a signed contract but he was recruited by someone in CIA. The man who recruited him would know, wouldn't he?
Mr. Dulles. Yes, but he wouldn't tell.
The Chairman. Wouldn't tell it under oath?
Mr. Dulles. I wouldn't think he would tell it under oath, no.
The Chairman. Why?
Mr. Dulles. He ought not tell it under oath. Maybe not tell it to his own government but he wouldn't tell it any other way.
Mr. McCloy. Wouldn't tell it to his own chief?
Mr. Dulles. He might or might not. If he was a bad one then he wouldn't. 
….Mr. McClou[sic]. Allen, suppose somebody when you were head of the CIA came to you, another government agency and said specifically, "If you will tell us", suppose the President of the United States comes to you and says, "Will you tell me, Mr. Dulles?"
Mr. Dulles. I would tell the President of the United States anything, yes, I am under his control. He is my boss. I wouldn't necessarily tell anybody else, unless the President authorized me to do it. We had that come up at times.
Mr. McCloy. You wouldn't tell the Secretary of Defense?
Mr. Dulles. Well, it depends a little bit on the circumstances. If it was within the jurisdiction of the Secretary of Defense, but otherwise I would go to the President, and I do on some cases.
Mr. Rankin. If that is all that is necessary, I think we could get the President to direct anybody working for the government to answer this question. If we have to we would get that direction.
Mr. Dulles. What I was getting at, I think under any circumstances, I think Mr. Hoover would say certainly he didn't have anything to do with this fellow.
Mr. McCloy. Mr. Hoover didn’t have anything to do with him but his agent. Did you directly or indirectly employ him.
Mr. Dulles. But if he says no, I Ididn't[sic] have anything to do with it. You can't prove what the facts are. There are no external evidences. I would believe Mr. Hoover. Some people might not. I don't think there is any external evidence other than the person's word that he did or did not employ a particular man as a secret agent. No matter what.”xxii
            According to Allen Dulles we should not expect to find anything in writing that would finally settle the issue of whether Oswald was an agent or asset of the CIA, let alone whether the CIA was involved in a conspiracy to kill John Kennedy.  Indeed, the frequent demand for such “smoking gun” proof in the news coverage of these released documents is just the CIA’s 1967 argument trying to put the burden on researchers to produce new evidence.xxiii  Only this time those echoing the CIA’s play are specifying the only evidence that they will consider: something that meets their criteria of a smoking gun.  In light of what Dulles told the Commissioners, we can understand how they might well be comfortable in making that demand while fully knowing that it can never be met.  In this way, they again try to control the public perception of the story in advance of anything that may come from the documents – whatever it might be, it won’t be the smoking gun they demand.
But in the light of what Dulles has told us, the absence of such written proof cannot be considered to be proof of the absence of a relationship between Oswald and an intelligence agency.  According to the most experienced CIA Director at the time, even if such a relationship had existed it would be denied even under oath regardless of how shocking that may have seemed to the Chief Justice.  The CIA might have told the President if he asked directly.  But, in this case, the President was Johnson and he was clearly on the cover-up bandwagon.  I doubt that he ever asked Dulles.  Actually, we should be quite surprised and skeptical if we were ever to find written, official documentation of a relationship between Oswald and the CIA.
Covert Operations Against Cuba: What We Know and What We Might Learn.
Let’s go back to what Mr. Robarge told us about what was being hidden by the CIA from the Warren Commission.  As we shall see, it is also what they have tried to hide from every subsequent investigation into the assassination as well: Covert operations that were ongoing in 1963 that might implicate CIA in conspiracy theories about the Kennedy Assassination.  Mr. Robarge has told us that the information is circumstantial – i.e., we shouldn’t expect a smoking gun like a written statement that Oswald was used in this or that particular covert action aimed at Cuba.xxiv  So, an examination of what we know about some of the circumstances relating to covert actions aimed at Cuba and Oswald’s activities in 1963 may provide some hints about what we should be looking for in these newly released documents. 
In 1977 and 1978 I looked into some of these issues as a researcher for the House SelectCommittee on Assassinations of the U.S. House of Representatives.  I looked hard at the activities of David Atlee Phillips who, in 1963, ran the covert actions against Cuba out of the CIA’s Mexico City Station.  I was able to link almost every story appearing shortly after the assassination linking Oswald to Cuba and pro-Castro groups to an asset or agent ran by Phillips.  But in the late 90’s, with the release of documents collected by the Assassination Records Review Board, I learned why and how my researches into this area of investigation by been frustrated in 1978.xxv The CIA brought an officer out of retirement in May, 1978, to serve as a liaison to the Committee, especially to work with me and my research partner, Edwin Lopez.  This officer was George Joannides.  
In August 1963 Oswald had been involved in a street fight with members of an anti-Castro Cuban student group, the DRE, in New Orleans.  It resulted in a lot of publicity and showed Oswald and the Fair Play for Cuba Committee in a fairly negative light.  The HSCA, naturally, wanted to explore whether there was a relationship between the CIA and the DRE in 1963.   The CIA was officially asked about this, directly, on at least three occasions and each time denied that there was any relationship.  When Joannides was assigned to work with as liaison, the CIA was asked whether he had any connection with, or knowledge of, anything related to the assassination and the CIA assured the Committee that he did not.   According to G. Robert Blakey, Chief Counsel of the HSCA, Joannides blatantly lied to him and the Committee: 
“When working as Chief Counsel for the HSCA, I requested all the Agency files on the DRE and its members as early as March of 1978.  That request included a demand that the Agency identify any employees who had, in the period from 1960 to 1964, worked with the DRE.  After that initial request for records, at least two additional requests were made in May and July of 1978.   The Agency repeatedly assured the Committee that they had no contact with the DRE in 1963, having severed all contacts in April of that year.  The leaders of the DRE, in interviews with the Committee’s staff, indicated that they worked with a CIA case officer in 1963.  The Agency assured me they would search their records to try to identify such an officer.  The Agency employee who contacted me to advise that they could find no record of any such case officer was George Joannides.  He did tell us, however, that he would keep looking.”xxvi
As the case officer for the DRE George Joannides had to work directly with David Phillips in anti-Cuban propaganda operations in 1963.  This is one of the covert action operations against Cuba that we know the CIA has fought tooth and nail to keep covered-up.  As Mr. Blakey put it, “The CIA never told the Warren Commission about their support of, and work with, the DRE in 1963.  To my knowledge, the CIA never told the Church Committee about it.  The ARRB asked the Agency about DRE at the suggestion of Jeff Morley.  The CIA initially told the ARRB the same thing they told me and the HSCA: the Agency had no employee in contact with DRE in 1963.  The ARRB conducted its own examination of CIA records and found Joannides personnel file with its clear indication that he was the DRE case officer.”xxvii  Jefferson Morley sued the CIA seeking more information on Joannides’s operations in a case filed in Federal Court in 2003, a case that is still on-going and in which the CIA has been able to successfully use the Courts to claim that “national security” prevents the release of any further information about what Joannides was doing in 1963 or 1978, although the CIA has admitted under oath in that case that Joannides was acting in a covert capacity in dealing with the HSCA.xxviii  
Here’s what we know now about what Phillips and Joannides were doing in the early 1960’s that might be relevant.  David Phillips recruited a group of students in Havana to work against Castro while Phillips was serving under deep cover in Havana in the late 1950's.  At the time, the group was known as the Directorio Revolucionario, or DR. Phillips was the DR’s first case officer.xxix  When the DR’s leadership fled Cuba in 1960, William Kent organized them into an effective organization in Florida, known as the Directorio Revolucionario Estudantil, or  The DRE was headquartered in Miami but had branches in other places, including New Orleans. 
Most of the funding for the DRE was provided by the CIA, but the organization resisted Agency control.  The week after the missile crisis ended in October, 1962, an article appeared in the Washington Evening Star newspaper alleging there were still Russian missiles hidden in Cuba.  The story ran with a front-page head line.  The DRE was the source of the story.  Shortly afterward the leader of the DRE appeared on NBC’s “Today Show” where and claimed to have seen, with his own eyes, nuclear missiles still hidden in caves and hills in Cuba.xxxi This was contrary to the Agency script.
As a result, Richard Helms, the then head of the Agency’s covert action arm met with the leader of the DRE in the fall of 1962.  Helms promised the DRE that a case officer who would be personally responsible directly to him.xxxii The case officer Helms assigned was George Joannides.  Joannides was very effective in his work with the DRE.  His July, 1963, fitness report noted that Joannides “has done an excellent job in the handling of a significant student exile group which hitherto had successfully resisted any important degree of control.”xxxiii  Not long thereafter Joannides became the manager of the propaganda operations at the CIA’s Miami Station and the only organization that he retained under his direct control as case officer was DRE.xxxiv  By March of 1964 Joannides had been promoted to head the Cover Action branch of the Miami Station.  He continued, however, to maintain personal oversight of the DRE.xxxv  It was in this period that Oswald who was handing out leaflets for the Fair Play for Cuba Committee had his run-in with the DRE in New Orleans – August, 1963 – that resulted in most of the reports tying Oswald to Castro after the assassination.  In fact, the very first assassination conspiracy theory appeared on November 24, 1963, in the DRE’s CIA financed newspaper, Trinchera. The story was covered in both the Miami Herald and the Washington Post the next day.xxxvi
In the early 1960's, David Phillips was working at Headquarters where he, along with Cord Meyer, developed the first disinformation operations aimed at the Fair Play for Cuba Committee.xxxvii  During the Bay of Pigs, Phillips was in charge of anti-Castro propaganda operations at Headquarters.xxxviii  As such, he worked closely with Doug Gupton, who was his counterpart at JMWAVE in Miami.xxxix  Gupton was not a registered pseudonym but was, rather, a cover name that William Kent, the officer’s true name, used in the field.xl  Phillips described their working relationship as very close.xli Kent acknowledged that when he was running propaganda operations in Miami, David Phillips had been his immediate supervisor.xlii  He said he was in contact by telephone with Phillips while in that position and that Phillips visited Miami “quite often.”  He kept Phillips informed of the propaganda operations he was running in Miami.xliii   It is very likely that William Kent’s registered pseudonym, in 1963, was Robert K. Trouchard.xliv  In an attempt to prevent unnecessary confusion, for the remainder of this paper, I’ll refer to Kent/Gupton/Touchard as “Kent”; Phillips/ Choaden as “Phillips”; and Joannides/Newby as “Joannides.”  Phillips’s work on Cuban disinformation continued after his transfer to Mexico City in 1961 until he left in 1965.xlv   
In the fall of 1962, when Joannides was hand-picked by Richard Helms as the DRE case officer, he replaced Ross Crozier in Miami. Crozier had been brought in earlier as the DRE case officer to assist Kent.   Joannides reported directly to Helms.xlvi  Joannides’s registered pseudonym was Walter D. Newby.  His supervisor was Kent.  Up to 90% of the DRE’s operating funds came from the CIA.
The ARRB managed to force the CIA to declassify a few of Joannides’s fitness reports.xlvii  On July 31, 1963, Joannides’ supervisor, Kent, with whom Phillips had a “very close” working relationship, commended Joannides for doing “an excellent job in the handling of a significant student exile group which hitherto had successfully resisted any important degree of control.”xlviii  The same report lists his second specific duty as “[c]ase officer for student project involving political action, propaganda, intelligence collection and a hemisphere-wide apparatus.”xlix Between August 9 and August 21, 1963, Oswald became something of a celebrity in New Orleans after his encounter with the local branch of DRE while passing out Fair Play for Cuba leaflets.  Joannides’s quarterly fitness report covering this period has not been released, remaining classified and withheld in full for reasons of national security.
At some point between July 31, 1963, and May 15, 1964, Joannides replaced Kent as chief of covert operations at JMWAVE.  While the scant release of documents on Joannides makes it impossible to pinpoint the time, Kent references in JMWAVE files end after 7/25/63.  By October, 1963, Kent is working at the Covert Action desk of the Western Hemisphere division at CIA headquarters.l  Where Kent was between the end of July and October 11, 1963, is not known.   It is reasonable, therefore, to presume that Joannides became the director of covert operations at JMWAVE sometime between the end of July and the beginning of October,  As that director, he is said to have had “a distinct flair for political action operations and can translate policy directives into meaningful action programs....”lii  As director of covert action, Joannides only retained direct responsibility for one operation: the student project involving “distribution of printed propaganda, production of radio programs, and the development of political action programs.”liii
So, the DRE originated as the DR under the tutelage of David Phillips in Havana in the late 1950's.  William Kent took over running the group, now known as the DRE, once they had fled from Havana to Miami.  In his position, he was responsible to Phillips.  Crozier came in to assist Kent with his workload.  Kent and Crozier were not too successful with the hard to control group and Richard Helms gave them an officer responsible directly to him, Joannides.  But Joannides’s performance evaluations indicate that his immediate supervisor, prior to October 1963, was Kent.  We do not know what working relationship Joannides had with Phillips either directly, or indirectly through Kent.  We know even less about reports he may have made directly to William Helms.  It is not, however, to much of a leap to suspect that Phillips continued to be involved in, or at least kept apprised of, operations of a group that he had started and nurtured, both directly and indirectly, that was operating directly in his area of responsibility.  Indeed, it would not be at all surprising that he used that group in operations against the Fair Play for Cuba Committee or that he had continued to be involved in disinformation operations aimed at the group, having designed the first one, and still being tasked as the officer with executive responsibility for all such activity in 1963.  
In the month after Oswald’s media-coverage generating encounter with DRE in August, on September 16, 1963, the CIA informed the FBI that it was considering action to counter the activities of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee (FPCC) in foreign countries.liv   In New Orleans, on September 17, 1963, Oswald applied for, and received, a Mexican travel On September 27 Oswald arrived in Mexico City.  On that day, and the following day, Oswald, or someone impersonating him, may have visited the Cuban Consulate.  On those same days, the Mexico City CIA Station was testing an impulse camera in their photo surveillance operation aimed at the door of the Cuban Consulate.   Sometime in late September Phillips left Mexico City on a temporary duty assignment at CIA Headquarters.lvi  It is at this  time that Phillips was promoted to chief of anti-Castro operations in Mexico City – the Cuba desk.lvii  On October 1 the Mexico City Station sent “bulk materials” to Headquarters by an allegedly untraceable transmittal manifestlviii in a diplomatic pouchlix “to be held in registry until picked up by Michael C. Choaden [David Phillips] presently TDY HQS.”lx  In 1978 we were not able to find out what was in the pouch.  On October 8, 1963, HQ sent a cable to JMWAVE advising them that Phillips would arrive there the following day for a two-day visit.lxi That means he would have been in Miami where Joannides was working on October 9 and 10, 1963, returning to the Mexico City Station on October 11, 1963. 
From all this, it appears that, sometime in the fall of 1963, Kent was promoted from JMWAVE Miami station to Western Hemisphere Covert Action at CIA Headquarters while Joannides was promoted to Kent’s old position in Miami and Phillips was promoted to the Cuban desk in Mexico City.  Were these rewards for a successful disinformation operation aimed at the FPCC in New Orleans, an operation that the Agency thought it could export to Mexico?  In August, Lee Harvey Oswald and DRE had had their fun in New Orleans.  In September the CIA notified the FBI about exporting their successful, but unspecified, domestic anti-FPCC operation overseas.  The day after the CIA notice, Oswald applied for a Mexico visa in New Orleans, standing in line behind an acknowledged CIA agent.  Oswald, or someone impersonating him, visited, or at least appears in the CIA telephone tap records as visiting, the Cuban Consulate on September 27 and 28.lxii Those days are the days that the CIA Mexico City Station tested an impulse camera to photograph people using the door of the Cuban Consulate that Oswald would have had to have used. The impulse camera generated over ten feet of 16 millimeter film that has disappeared.lxiii  Phillips was TDY at Headquarters where the Mexico Station sends him an allegedly untraceable transmittal manifest with unspecified bulk materials-- to be delivered to him personally.  From HQ Phillips arrived in Miami on October 9 where he spends two days on temporary duty assignment at JMWAVE, the CIA’s large covert action station in Miami, Florida, on his way back to Mexico City.  
Did Phillips meet with Kent at HQ?  Did he meet with Joannides in Miami? Did they review the results of a disinformation and danglelxiv operation they had just run in Mexico City – their first attempt to export the successful domestic anti-FPCC disinformation operation?  A dangle laying the groundwork to try to pitch a potential double agent in the Cuban Consulate?  Were the bulk materials sent to Phillips in D.C. by diplomatic pouch the photos taken of the impulse camera?  Did Phillips and personnel at Headquarters review the production from the impulse camera?  Did Phillips use it in a presentation on the progress of an operation?  We don’t know at this point because George Joannides shut down the HSCA investigation into this area and most of the information was effectively covered-up.lxv Given all this, it does not take a great leap of intuition to consider that the Oswald visit in Mexico City may have been part of an intelligence operation with both counterintelligence and propaganda purposes.  
The CIA maintains several types of filing systems.  One system, usually considered one of the most sensitive and especially exempted from the Freedom of Information Act requests (with a few exceptions) is a filing system for files on operations conducted by the CIA known as operational files.  Most of the information discussed in the immediately preceding section has been gleaned from nonoperational files such as personnel files that have been released and contain documents such as Fitness Reports.  Based on what Mr. Robarge has told us, and what we know, we should be very interested in looking for additional circumstantial evidence in NARA files contained in the JFK Collection that are required by law to be released.  The most telling details would likely be contained in operational files relating to operations ran by David Atlee Phillips in 1963, George Joannides in 1963 and 1978, and by William Kent in 1963 and 1967.lxvi   The JFK Collection at NARA includes files David Phillips’s operational files as well as additional files and documents on Joannides.  To date, these files have not been released.  They are in the group of files still being withheld while the CIA negotiates with the President over whether releasing them would compromise national security. 
What would it mean if there are documents in those yet to be released that show the CIA was running covert actions against Cuba that are such that we can see that there is a very strong likelihood that Oswald was being used, whether wittingly or unwittingly, in one or more of them?  For example, what if it shows that Phillips was involved in trying out an anti-Fair Play for Cuba Committee disinformation in Mexico City in September and October of 1963?  Or that Joannides was working with the DRE on an operation that resulted in the media barrage in New Orleans in August, 1963?  While such evidence may be circumstantial evidence that Oswald may have been used by the Agency, it is not necessarily evidence that it or its officers were involved in an assassination conspiracy.  While such circumstantial evidence coupled with the extent and rapidity of the disinformation campaign linking Oswald to Castro after the assassination would seem to be strong circumstantial evidence against a conclusion that the propaganda campaign was merely ad hoc and opportunistic, it is would remain theoretically possible that Phillips had no advance knowledge of the assassination and may have been one of the most surprised men in the CIA to learn that his asset had been accused of murdering the President.  But, if such circumstantial evidence arising from covert actions against Cuba is in the files, it certainly raises many more questions, all of which will be very uncomfortable for the CIA even though the fifty-plus year delay in letting such evidence see the light will make it much harder to find and verify any possible answers to the questions.  It is, I believe, the closest thing to a smoking gun we’ll ever see.  That does not mean that the information should not be released, that the hard questions that would arise should not be asked.  It does mean that America should insist on the immediate release of all documents related to the assassination, including those not included in NARA’s JFK Collection,lxvii and the tough questions be answered.
i  Dispatch, Countering Criticism of the Warren Report, from Chief of CA Staff to Chiefs of Certain Stations and Bases, April 1, 1967, RIF 104-10009-10022.
ii Que bono?  Certainly not just Johnson, but the basic investigative question never seems to have even been raised, let alone considered, by the Warren Commission or the intelligence community in 1963-1964.
iii “L’Etat, c’est moi.” The Agency’s concern was well-founded.  The JFK murder cover-up was the beginning of the unravelling of government credibility in the United States and led directly to the growth of the secrecy culture that subsequently allowed the Vietnam war, Watergate, Iran-Contra, Iraqi WMD’s, etc., etc., etc. 
iv David Robarge, “DCI John McCone and the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy,” Studies in Intelligence, (Vol. 57, No. 3, 09/2013), Approved for Release and declassified, 09/29/2014, available at
v See, e.g., Betty Medsger, The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover’s Secret FBI, Knopf 2014.
vi One CIA officer is also on record calling Operation Phoenix in Vietnam that tortured and killed myriads of Vietnamese civilians “benign”. 
vii Lance deHaven-Smith, Conspiracy Theory in America, University of Texas Press 2013, at p. 25.
viii Id., at 41.  Emphasis added.
ix Jeremy Diamond, JFK Files: Trump teases release as deadline arrives, CNN, 26 Oct 2017, available at  
x Id.
xi          See, e.g., David R. Wrone, Two Assassinations: Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy, Lincoln Fellowship of Wisconsin, Meeting (37th: 1980 : Madison), Alfred Whital Stern Collection of Lincolniana (Library of Congress); ; John Newman, Oswald and the CIA: The Documented Truth About the Unknown Relationship Between the U.S. Government and the Alleged Killer of JFK, Skyhouse 2008; John Newman, JFK and Vietnam: Deception, Intrigue, and the Struggle for Power, 2nd Ed., CreateSpace Independent Publishing 2016; John Newman, Countdown to Darkness: The Assassination of President Kennedy Volume II, CreateSpace Independent Publishing 2017.                
xii          Philip Shenon, Files will shed light on a JFK shooting conspiracy – but not the one your think, The Guardian, 26 Oct 2017, available at         
xiii Most ear and eye witnesses on record from Dealey Plaza put a second shooter on the grassy knoll.  Any fair analysis of the Zapruder film supports a finding of a shot from the front.  The acoustics work of the HSCA showing a shooter on the knoll is also still supported by the best scientific evidence in spite of vigorous attempts to discredit it.  
xiii         Technically, the Robarge article, see note iv above, did not concede CIA participation so much as to blame the JFK appointed Director of Central Intelligence, John McCone, of participating in a benign cover-up.  See, Dan Hardway, A Cruel and Shocking Misinterpretation, 2015, available at; Dan Hardway, Thank You, Phil Shenon, 2015, available at          
xiv         A more objective and careful review of CIA documentation shows that there is even more documentary evidence that the CIA was using Oswald as a witting or unwitting asset in at least one intelligence operation.  See, e.g., John Newman, Oswald and the CIA: The Documented Truth About the Unknown Relationship Between the U.S. Government and the Alleged Killer of JFK, Skyhouse 2008; John Newman, Countdown to Darkness: The Assassination of President Kennedy Volume II, CreateSpace Independent Publishing 2017; JFKFacts, Exclusive: JFK investigator on how CIA stonewalled Congress,; Declaration of Dan L. Hardway, Morley v. CIA, CA # 03-02545-RJL, D.C.D.C. 11 May 2016, Docket No. 156.       
xvi Robarge above at n. 4. 
xvii See, Phil Shenon, Phil Shenon, “Yes, the CIA Director was Part of the JFK Assassination Cover-Up,” Politico, 10/06/2015, available at; Dan Hardway, Thank You, Phil Shenon, 2015, available at  
xviii  Robarge, above, n. 4, at p. 9.
xix The National Security Agency has never released such intercepts.  
xx  Dispatch, above at n. 1.
xxi  But another one seems to be the one being asked by most of the media today.  I got it in an email from a reporter this morning.  It goes like this: "Will the release put the conspiracy theories surrounding the assassination to rest at last?"  Don't you find it extremely interesting that media accounts almost always phrase it like this?  Why don't they ask something like, "Will the release finally establish the truth to a reasonable degree of certainty?"  or "Will we finally feel that we have all the evidence and the truth will be possible to know?"  No, those latter two questions leave open the possibility that the lone-nut theory may be wrong, a possibility that we should never entertain.  If you allowed to frame the question the way you want, you are half-way to getting the answer you want.
xxii   Warren Commission, Executive Session Transcript, January 27, 1964, [Emphasis added.]  Available at 
xxiii  See, for example, Adam Gopnik, The J.F.K. Files, Trump, and the Deep State, The New Yorker, October 29, 2017, available at
xxiv  See Robarge, above, at n. xviii.
xxv For a more detailed explanation of this, see Declaration at n. 15 above.
xxvi  G. Robert Blakey, The HSCA and the CIA: The View from the Top,  Assassinations Archive and Research Center’s Conference, The Warren Report and the JFK Assassination: A Half Century of Significant Disclosures in Bethesda, MD, 26 Sept 26, 2014.  Full text available at content/uploads/2014/09/robert_blakey_aarc_9_26_letter.pdf.
xxvii Id.
xxviii  As part of its response to Jefferson Morley’s FOIA lawsuit seeking additional Joannides records, the CIA, in a sworn affidavit, acknowledged that George Joannides was used by the Agency in a covert capacity at least twice: “the CIA acknowledged Joannides participated in a covert action codenamed JM/WAVE or JMWAVE from 1962 through 1964. Second, the CIA acknowledged Joannides served as a CIA representative to the U.S. House of Representatives Select Committee on Assassinations from 1978 through 1979. Joannides served undercover in both of these assignments.Morley v. CIA, Civ. Act. No. 03-02545, Declaration of Delores M. Nelson, Chief, Public Information Programs Division, Central Intelligence Agency, p.9 ¶ 16 (D.C. Dist. Court, Nov. 21, 2008) [Emphasis added]. Think about that for a minute: the CIA has admitted under oath in documents filed in a Federal Court case that they ran an agent under cover in a covert operation in connection with an investigation of the Agency by a Congressional Committee.  While the Agency admitted that Joannides was under cover in his work with the HSCA, it has not admitted that this was an operation ran in contravention of their charter on domestic soil violating U.S. laws against obstruction of justice – not to mention the sheer audacity of running a disinformation operation against an investigating Congressional Committee the object of which operation could only be the deliberate prevention of the Committee ever finding critical information that could implicate the CIA in other crimes.  This may be the biggest judicial admission against interest that you’ve never heard about. Joannides was commended for his frustration of our investigation into Phillips’s covert actions against Cuba while maintaining the cover-up of his own involvement in those activities.  In his annual review, his boss at the CIA wrote, regarding “the firm position he [Joannides] took with the young investigators” that “if the peculiar nature of the work did not call on Mr. Joannides for all the talents of his wide experience, it nonetheless was his experience and quick perceptions that ensured a superior performance.”  (George Joannides Fitness Report, RIF No. 10410304-1000 (CIA, Jan. 8, 1979).  Indeed!  His experience as the case officer for DRE and from working with Phillips told him what to keep me and Lopez away from and slowing down and sometimes blocking delivery of files we requested to review allowed him to quickly perceive where we were going with our investigation and what not to let us see.  I only regret that we were not able to mount more of a challenge to his talents.  I believe that were the iron curtain of secrecy surrounding the Agency ever to come down and we gained access to their archives, we would probably find that operations were also run against other investigations including the Garrison investigation, the Church Committee and that operations in addition to the one involving Joannides were run against the HSCA.I believe that were the iron curtain of secrecy surrounding the Agency ever to come down and we gained access to their archives, we would probably find that operations were also run against other investigations including the Garrison investigation, the Church Committee and that operations in addition to the one involving Joannides were run against the HSCA.
 xxix Bayard Stockton, Flawed Patriot, p. 210 (Potomac Books 2006). 
 xxx  Email, John Newman to Dan Hardway, 9/9/2014.
xxxi  Morley, “Revelation 19:63,” Miami New Times, 4/12/2001, available at
xxxii  Id.
xxxiii  Joannides, George, “Fitness Report,” 07/31/1963, RIF 104-10304-1000.
xxxiv  Id.
 xxxv  Joannides, George, “Fitness Report,” 05/15/1964, RIF 104-10304-1000.
 xxxvi  Jefferson Morley, Who paid for the first JFK conspiracy theory?, JFK Facts (22 Aug 2014) available at
xxxvii  Newman, Oswald and the CIA, pp. 240-241 (Skyhorse Publishing 2008)
xxxviii  Phillips, Executive Session Testimony, HSCA, p.3 (4/25/1978).
 xxxix  Id. at p. 73.
xl  Id.
xli  Id. 
xlii  Notes, CIA, Files, Veciana, Antonio, Phillips, David Atlee, RIF # 180-10141-10491, p. 7.
xliii Id. at 8.
xliv  It is important here to make a few distinctions in terminology.  A “CIA Officer” is, generally, a paid employee of the Agency.  An agent may be either a witting person who is utilized by an officer in gathering intelligence or in running a covert operation.  An asset is a person who is valuable to, and used either wittingly or unwittingly by, an officer or agent.  Officers have a true name – their legal birth name – and registered pseudonyms – names they are assigned for use in Agency documentation to protect their true identities – and operational aliases – unregistered names that the officer usually develops on his own that he uses in connection with a particular operation(s) in his contacts with agents/assets to protect both his true identity and his registered pseudonym.  For example, William Kent is the true name of a CIA officer.  His agency issued registered pseudonym, initially, was Oliver Corbuston.  The Oliver Corbuston pseudonym disappears from the CIA’s records at the same time that the name Robert K.
Trouchard appears. From the circumstances found in records it appears that the Trouchard name was assigned to William Kent. In 1961 Trouchard was head of psychops at JMWAVE.  Trouchard is in the record as the case officer for Bernard Baker.  Other records reveal that Baker was sent to JMWAVE to help take the work load off William Kent.  Kent’s intelligence medal narrative also suggests that he was Trouchard.  “Doug Gupton” was an operational alias given to William Kent by his good friend, David Phillips.
xlv  Phillips, Executive Session Testimony, HSCA, p. 3, 35, 59 (4/35/1978).
xlvi Id.; Stockton, p. 221.  
xlvii  Five Fitness Reports on Joannides, RIF 104-10304-10000.  There are some interesting anomalies in the disclosed Joannides Fitness Reports. The first annual report was signed by the JMWAVE employees in pseudonym (Newby & Trouchard) on 19 Jan 63, reviewed by the Chief of Station one month later on 2/15/63.  The next report is a quarterly report signed by the JMWAVE employees on 27 March 63, Reviewed by the Chief of Station one week later on 2 April 63 with a date stamped 16 Apr 63 on page one which may represent the date received at Langley HQ.  The third report was signed by the JMWAVE employees on 31 July 63, reviewed by the Deputy Chief of Station (pseudonym Frederick J. Inghurst, most likely David Morales) on 9/24/63 (Note that the date stamp beside the Newby and Inghurst signatures are different than any others appearing in the fitness reports.) Note that this quarterly report was not reviewed for three months after being signed by Newby and was not date stamped at HQ until 17 Oct 63.  The quarterly report for 3rd quarter covering August and September 1963 is missing from the disclosed sequence.  The quarterly report for 4th quarter of 1963 is also missing.  The fourth disclosed report is the an annual report covering 4/63 -- 3/64 (the other annual report covered 1/1/62 to 12/31/62) which was signed by the JMWAVE employees on 15 May 1964, reviewed by the Deputy Chief of the Western Hemisphere Division at HQ two weeks later on 1 June 64 and date stamped HQ filing of 8 Jun 64.  Also interesting that the June 64 fitness report is the first indication that Joannides has security duties and it is reviewed by Morales.
xlviii  Id.
xlix  Id. 
l  See Newman email, supra; RIFs: 104-10100-10329; 104-10100-10216; 104-10100-10210.
li  This is supported by the next fitness report available for Joannides covering the period 1 April 1963 and 31 March 1964.  This report states that the “period covered by this fitness report represents [Joannides’s] initial Agency exposure to those first echelon management responsibilities which are implicit in a branch chief’s assignment....”  Fitness Reports, RIF 104-10304-10000.
lii  Id.
liii  Id.  Interestingly enough, it was during this time frame that he also assumed responsibility for security reviews on JMWAVE’s covert action operations and has his fitness review conducted by David Morales, who noted “that he would be pleased to have [Joannides] work with [me] at any other Field Station that might be entrusted to [me].”  A hope that would be subsequently fulfilled in Viet Nam.
liv  Church Committee, Vol. 5, p. 65 (The Church Committee’s conclusion, on p. 67,  that “there is no reason to think the CIA propaganda program was underway before the assassination” is based on the unfounded, and unsupportable, assumption that the CIA would not have begun the operation before receiving information requested from the FBI.).
lv  Interestingly enough, the person in line in front of Oswald to apply for a visa was William Gaudet, a known CIA agent.  Gaudet claimed that this was merely a coincidence.  HSCA Report, pp. 218-219.
lvi We do not know the date he left Mexico City.  A cable from Headquarters to Mexico City, dated September 30, 1963, indicates that Phillips was, on that date, TDY at HQ.  Phillips, Executive Session Testimony, p. 50 (4/25/1978).  While Phillips frequently lied about Oswald and Mexico City, in a footnote in a little-known book he self-published, Secret Wars Diary, he once said: “I was an observer of Cuban and Soviet reaction when Lee Harvey Oswald contacted their embassies."  The chapter of the book in which the footnote occurs was first published in article about Allen Dulles, "The Great White Case Officer", in the first issue of the Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence (Spring 1986) which article did not include the footnote.  I would like to thank Steve Rosen for calling this to my attention.  It is particularly interesting, on many levels, that Phillips here phrased his involvement as observing the Cuban and Soviet reactions to Oswald’s visit; exactly what you would expect him to be doing if Oswald was a counterintelligence dangle.
lvii  Id. at 51.
lviii  TM 251905
lix No. 4083
lx  Record No. 104-10500-10077, Bulk Materials Being Sent Under Transmittal Manifest (CIA, Oct. 1, 1963). “TDY HQS” means he was temporarily assigned to duty at CIA Headquarters in Langley, Va.
lxi Phillips, Executive Session Testimony, p. 50 (4/25/1978).   
lxii There were also reports that Oswald spent time with pro-Castro Mexican citizens and students.  Our efforts in 1978 to find those people and interview them in Mexico were repeatedly blocked by the CIA. 
lxiii  HMMA-22433, 11/7/63.  
lxiv  A “dangle” is an operation run by an intelligence agency where a controlled agent or asset is offered to a foreign intelligence service as a potential recruit of the foreign service.  If the dangle is taken and the person recruited, then the original intelligence agency can use the agent as a double agent to feed disinformation to the foreign intelligence service.  A dangle, structured such as Oswald’s visits to the Soviet and Cuban facilities, can also serve the purpose of allowing the first intelligence service to monitor the reaction of the foreign service to the person presenting himself by using other agents already in place, electronic surveillance, etc., so as to facilitate understanding of the foreign services processes and to facilitate planning of future operations.
xv          David Phillips, in his executive session testimony, could not even recall making this trip and was not asked about this kind of detail, because the details were not known at the time of our last interview with him.          
xvi         I am also very interested in seeing the operational files from William Harvey’s operations, as well as his security files although that is a different, howbeit related, story.    
xvii      Those of us who worked on the HSCA know that many of the documents we authored are not in the files listed at NARA as composing the JFK Collection.  Indeed, I know of two documents that I authored that the Assassination Records Review Board could not find even after they were described to them in detail.  A very poor copy of one of the documents exists and has been circulated in the critical community.  At least one CIA file I saw also, according to the ARRB, must have never existed.  Finally, I suspect there are many documents that exist that would be highly relevant that have never been included in the JFK Collection.  For example, I know as an absolute fact that a government agency ran surveillance on me and Ed Lopez because we took coffee to the agents manning the surveillance van and very early the next morning FBI agents were waiting on our boss’s doorstep to report our activities – we had been entertaining members of Cuba’s Diplomatic Interest Section in the house we shared while working for the HSCA.  To date, FOIA requests for these records, and many others that should exist but are not in the JFK Collection, have been resisted vehemently by the government.