Oswald and the Security States

Provocations: Lee Harvey Oswald and the National Security States, 1961-1999

1. The usual suspects
Harper Fragment
“Official” autopsy photos
The Official Story: the “magic bullet”
This bullet made only one hole in JFK’s shirt
Conspiracy fodder:
Different versions of the head wound
Oswald’s fake Hidell ID
Interrogation, 22-23 Nov 1963
LHO’s relationships, if any, with the organs of the national security state drive the rest of this story.
This story occurs in the context of superpower rivalry between the US and the USSR and in the shadow of the looming recognition that this rivalry might spin out of control resulting the the destruction of human life.
National Security State?
Institutions and state-sanctioned organisations that:
  1. Attempt to steal the secrets of others and/or fight a clandestine war against others
  2. Attempt to prevent others from stealing their secrets
  3. Attempt to provoke enemies to do self-destructive things
  4. Have access to the product of these organisations and/or direct their activities
  5. Are protected from public scrutiny by an invocation of “national security”
  6. The FBI is tasked with domestic counter-espionage
  7. The CIA is prohibited from operating inside the US
2. The FBI’s J Edgar Hoover takes control of the investigation
22/11/1962: a bad hair day at Langley
Win Scott, CIA Station Chief Mexico City
22/11/1963 CIA Director McCone goes ballistic
23/11/1963, some dangerous news
“The CIA had information on foreign connections to the alleged assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, which suggested to LBJ that Kennedy may have been murdered by an international conspiracy.”
24/11/1963, a worse hair day at Langley
29/11/1963 LBJ twists some arms
“…a war that can kill 40 million Americans in an hour”
29/11/1963, LBJ forms Warren Commission
“We can’t just have House and Senate and FBI and other people going round testifyin’ that Khrushchev killed Kennedy or Castro killed him.”
22/11/63, Meanwhile, the FBI has its own bad hair days
Hoover himself had warned of the existence of at least two Oswalds in June 1960.
Concealed evidence
Invoice for 10 Ford Trucks paid for with CIA money.
At this time LHO was in fact resident in the Soviet Union.
This document was not made public until 1979.
22/11/63, more bad news for Hoover
Hoover learns of many contacts and confrontations between FBI agents and LHO.
Hoover was acutely embarrassed by the possibility that the FBI would be criticised for its blindness to the threat posed by LHO.
The “lone nut” explanation would exculpate the FBI.
Many of these contacts were concealed from the Warren Commission.
FBI retrospect on LHO and Mexico City, 1 October 1963
FBI memo to the Secret Service, 23 November, 1963
“The Central Intelligence Agency advised that on October 1, 1963, an extremely sensitive source had reported that an individual identified himself as Lee Oswald, who contacted the Soviet Embassy in Mexico City inquiring as to any messages. Special Agents of this Bureau [FBI], who have conversed with Oswald in Dallas, Texas, have observed photographs of the individual referred to above and have listened to a recording of his voice. These Special Agents are of the opinion that the above-referred-to individual was not Lee Harvey Oswald.”
This memo was not released until 1975
The man identified as LHO outside the Soviet Embassy
Opportunity at the FBI
29/11/63, the FBI gets the gig
An embarrassing hiatus:
What happened in Mexico?
Silvia Duran, a Mexican national employed at the Cuban Embassy in Mexico City
Silvia Duran has a bad week
Editing Oswald’s Legend
Different cities and employers, same typewriter!
Two Oswalds?
1955, Oswald loses a tooth in a fight
A disconnect between head and limbs.
The CIA at sixes and sevens.
Orthographic oddities. The spelling mistakes in the sent copy were correctly spelled in the “draft” suggesting that the “draft” was composed after the final, intercepted version.
Handwritten draft of the “Kostin Letter”. This draft was not listed in the inventory of LHO’s possessions.
Ambassador Dobrynin to CPSU Central Committee, 27 Nov 1963
This letter was clearly a provocation…
Ambassador Dobrynin
Premier Khrushchev
“A Provocation?”
Walsingham, Philby, and Angleton
A provocation!
Anastas Mikoyan and John John Kennedy
25/11/1963: A solemn moment
3. Aggressive Countermeasures
“It’s all very well to understand the world, the point is to change it.”

Karl Marx
What the KGB knew
News from Moscow 2 — Yuri Nosenko
James Jesus Angleton, CIA Head of Counterintelligence, 1954-1974
Yuri Nosenko, purported KGB defector, 25/01/1964.
“When the top people found out that [LHO] had recently lived for three years in [the USSR], the went into a spin. The Americans might get the idea they had something to do with it.”
News from Moscow 1 — Anatoli Golytsin
James Jesus Angleton, CIA Head of Counterintelligence, 1954-1974
Anatoli Golytsin, purported KGB defector, 15/12/1961.
“The KGB will send false defectors to attempt to discredit me.”
(And British PM Harold Wilson is a double agent for the Soviet Union.)
Nosenko’s LHO story was pure gold.
The rest of his story is full of holes and inconsistencies.
Nosenko must be broken.
April 1964, 3 years in solitary confinement on starvation rations.
Richard Helms’ bad news for the Warren Commission
The Warren Commission censors Helms’ testimony!
“We can’t just have House and Senate and FBI and other people going round testifyin’ that Khrushchev killed Kennedy or Castro killed him.”
Massive turf war inside the CIA
Where are they now — James Jesus Angleton
James Jesus Angleton, CIA Head of Counterintelligence, 1954-1974
Sacked in 1974
Counter intelligence arm downgraded
All Angleton’s materials on the Kennedy Assassination destroyed.
Angleton accused of being the Soviet “super mole”.
Where are they now — Anatoli Golytsin
Anatoli Golytsin, purported defector, discredited in the eyes of the CIA.
As of this date, Anatoli Golytsin is still alive and living in the United States.
He is an Honorary Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE).
Where are they now — Yuri Nosenko
Yuri Nosenko, purported defector, genuine in the eyes of the CIA.
The CIA appointed Nosenko a consultant and expert on Soviet penetration methods.
He was paid handsome compensation for his suffering.
He was granted a lifetime pension.
Where are they now — KGB
KGB, an enthusiastic proponent of “aggressive countermeasures”.
Soviet Union collapses in 1991
The KGB is reborn as the FSB.
Where are they now — KGB
KGB, an enthusiastic proponent of “aggressive countermeasures”.
No report from Kostikov
No mention of Duran
No reference to the mystery man
Where are they now — KGB (aka FSB)
KGB, an enthusiastic proponent of “aggressive countermeasures”.
A big yawn
LBJ: “kicking us into a war that can kill 40 million Americans in an hour.”
Meanwhile the Soviet Security State takes notice…
What is going on here?
The full text is in Yeltsin Documents, p. 91; LS no. 0692061-26 Washington to Moscow cable of 27 November 1963: “This letter was clearly a provocation: it gives the impression we had close ties with Oswald and were using him for some purposes of our own. It was totally unlike any other letters the embassy had previously received from Oswald. Nor had he ever visited our embassy himself. The suspicion that the letter is a forgery is heightened by the fact that it was typed, whereas the other letters the embassy had received from Oswald before were typewritten.” Cf. p. 91: “The embassy had suspicions about this letter the moment it arrived: either it was a forgery or was sent as a deliberate provocation. The embassy left Oswald’s letter unanswered.”
What is going on here?
In 1974 after James Jesus Angleton was sacked, all the CIA records associated with the Kennedy assassination were destroyed.
What did Angleton have to gain from keeping them?
What did his enemies in the CIA have to gain from destroying them?
1: Provocations: Lee Harvey Oswald and the National Security States, 1961-1999
13: National Security State?
16: 22/11/1962: a bad hair day at Langley
17: 22/11/1963 CIA Director McCone goes ballistic
19: 23/11/1963, some dangerous news
20: 24/11/1963, a worse hair day at Langley
22: 29/11/1963, LBJ forms Warren Commission
23: 22/11/63, Meanwhile, the FBI has its own bad hair days
24: Concealed evidence
25: 22/11/63, more bad news for Hoover
26: FBI retrospect on LHO and Mexico City, 1 October 1963
28: Opportunity at the FBI
29: 29/11/63, the FBI gets the gig
74: What is going on here?
75: What is going on here?
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// However the US already had a high level KGB defector. Anatoli Golytsin. James Jesus Angleton, Head of CIA counter-intelligence asked Golytsin his opinion of Nosenko. In Golytsin’s opinion, Nosenko was a plant — a provocation.

Angleton, the CIA officer responsible for detecting Soviet provocations, had a tough choice to make.

Slide 50

By April 1964, Angleton had decided. Nosenko was a fake.

Slide 51

But Nosenko’s information about LHO was too explosive for him to simply slip away into obscurity. Angleton convinced Attorney General Bobby Kennedy that Nosenko had to be broken.

Bobby kennedy gave his consent.

We now know, thanks to a recent book by David Talbot, never accepted the “lone nut” explanation of his brother’s death.

The CIA interrogators went to work.

Slide 52

Nosenko spent the next three years solitary confinement, in permanent light, fed a starvation diet and aggressively interrogated. An extract from a tape of one of these interrogations:

“From my soul. From my soul. I beg you to believe me.”

“That’s bullshit! That’s bullshit! That’s bullshit!”

After four or five months of this treatment Nosenko stuck to his threadbare explanation.

Slide 53

Just days before the completion of the Warren Commission hearings, Richard Helms, the CIA Plans, that is illegal activities, was deputised to testify to the Warren Commission on the role and activities of the CIA in relation to Lee Harvey Oswald.

Slide 54

Helms had to tell the Commission that the CIA suspected that Nosenko was lying about the information he brought out of the Soviet Union about the identity of LHO.

We have contemporary record of this testimony. It was excised from the record. However, Richard Helms did a repeat performance in a Congressional Inquiry in the 1970s, which itself was not declassified until 1998:

Mr Helms: If the information that Nosenko had provided about Oswald was true, then this led to a certain conclusion about Oswald and his relationship with Soviet authorities. If it was incorrect, if he was feeding this to the United States government under instructions from the Soviet service, then it would have led one to an entirely different conclusion … If it were established beyond any doubt that he had been lying and, by implication, therefore, Oswald was an agent of the KGB, I would have thought that the implications of that — not for the CIA or for the FBI, but for the President of the United States and the Congress of the United States would have been cataclysmic.

Question: Can you be more specific?

Mr Helms: Yes, I can be specific. In other words, the Soviet government ordered President Kennedy assassinated.

In the fevered atmosphere of 1964, this was the last thing that the Warren Commission wanted to hear and the very last thing that the Warren Commission wanted the American people to know.

And all the institutions of the American Security State had worked assiduously and had perjured themselves to avoid any suggestion at all of Soviet involvement in the grisly events of Dealey Plaza.

If Yuri Nosenko repudiated his story, all the organs of the American Security State would be exposed as perjurers and the world might find itself embroiled in nuclear war.

Slide 55

The publication of the Warren Report in November 1964 minus Richard Helms’ testimony made it imperative that Nosenko be regarded as a genuine, truth-telling defector. Yet he remained in solitary for another three years.

The pro and anti Nosenko factions within the CIA went to war against each other. There followed purge and counter-purge that resulted in the virtual dismantlement of the Soviet Bloc divisions of the CIA.

From 1964 onward, James Jesus Angleton became an obsessive collector of documentation surrounding the Kennedy assassination. He used his status as Director of Counter Intelligence to protect this information from others whom he saw as morons at best and traitors at worst.

Could the KGB have hoped for a more positive outcome from any provocation?

Slide 56

James Jesus Angleton

Cleveland Cram, CIA’s Chief Historian, was called back from retirement in 1975 to do historical research on the record of Counterintelligence Chief Angleton.

After six years of work he completed the twelve-volume “History of the Counterintelligence Staff 1954–1974” (1981), which remains classified.

It is rumoured that Cram named Angleton as the high level Soviet mole who had bedevilled CIA operations since its foundation in the late 1940s.

Slide 57 – 58



The month before he died in August 2008, several senior officials of the Central Intelligence Agency visited Mr. Nosenko to present him with an American flag and a letter from Michael V. Hayden, the director of central intelligence, thanking him for his service and, by implication, offering a final apology for the way he was treated after he defected to the United States in the winter of 1964.

Slide 59

On 20 June 1999, Russian president Boris Yeltsin unexpectedly handed US President Bill Clinton more than 80 pages of “declassified” Soviet-era documents pertaining to the assassination of President John F.


Slide 60

Significantly, none of these documents concerned Valeriy Kostikov or the Soviet Embassy in Mexico City.

Slide 61

Vladimir Putin, ex-KGB colonel, rose to the leadership of FSB in 1998 less than a year before the release of the Yeltsin Documents.

Was this designed to be a reminder by one intelligence professional to others about their acute embarrassment in the most traumatising case of the 20th century?

Slide 62

Certainly, the assurances of Ambassador Thompson to a deadly enemy assuring them that their government would lie to their people might have given pause for thought.

But no. Who really cares about some dude getting his head blown off in public?

The world is no longer shocked by the behaviour of the Security States.

Powerful evidence of this new attitude would emerge when Bush, Blair and Howard used their security states to justify their war in Iraq.


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