In a report that has been declassified by the Central Intelligence Agency, there is confirmation of, at the very least, a conspiracy to cover-up elements of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963 by then CIA director John McCone.
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.
While raising no question about the essential findings of the Warren Commission, including that Oswald was the gunman in Dallas, the 2013 report is important because it comes close to an official CIA acknowledgement—half a century after the fact—of impropriety in the agency’s dealings with the commission. The coverup by McCone and others may have been “benign,” in the report’s words, but it was a cover-up nonetheless, denying information to the commission that might have prompted a more aggressive investigation of Oswald’s potential Cuba ties.
Initially stamped “SECRET/NOFORN,” meaning it was not to be shared outside the agency or with foreign governments, Robarge’s report was originally published as an article in the CIA’s classified internal magazine, Studies in Intelligence, in September 2013, to mark the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination.
The CIA provided a statement to Politico saying that it “decided to declassify the report ‘to highlight misconceptions about the CIA’s connection to JFK’s assassination,’ including the still-popular conspiracy theory that the spy agency was somehow behind the assassination.”
According to Robarge, McCone, was said to have been convinced quite quickly that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone and instructed the CIA to only provide “passive, reactive and selective” assistance to the Warren Commission. He also reported that McCone was quoted by another CIA official as saying that he intended to “handle the whole (commission) business myself, directly.”
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,” according to the report.
“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,” the CIA report notes.
Thought the CIA refers to the report as benign, Matt Agorist has a different take.
“While the report may be referred to as ‘benign’ by the CIA as an attempt to downplay its significance, it was a cover-up nonetheless — a cover-up that halted any further investigation into Oswald and his potential ties to Cuba and any of his possible connections or accomplices,” Agorist wrote. “In fact, the report notes that McCone attempted and was successful at steering the direction of the investigation into his sole control.”
As if this cover-up was not enough, the report also confirms that the CIA was in communication with Oswald before the assassination! That’s not benign, is it?
“It would be surprising if the DCI [director of central intelligence] were not told about the program” after the Kennedy assassination, the report reads. “If not, his subordinates deceived him. If he did know about HTLINGUAL reporting on Oswald, he was not being forthright with the commission—presumably to protect an operation that was highly compartmented and, if disclosed, sure to arouse much controversy.”
The report concludes, “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. In that sense—and in that sense alone—McCone may be regarded as a ‘co-conspirator’ in the JFK assassination ‘cover-up.'”