With millions of documents released in the years since the JFK Act was passed in the nineties, the intelligence backgrounds of the twelve who built the Oswald legend have come into focus. A legend maker can range from a "babysitter" who just keeps an eye on the subject to someone handing out unequivocal orders. I count twelve of them, and I'll tell you about them here in this series of essays.
Many of these legend makers did not know each other, and some of them know nothing about the JFK assassination itself, but their stories when put together can solve important puzzles. A couple of them are integral to the plot. Now is the moment to sum up what we have, demand the rest, and ask the right questions to those still alive. Although we may never know who fired the shots at JFK, you may agree that the new documents reveal who called the shots.
One important clue revealed in the documents is that the CIA consciously used Lee Harvey Oswald's visa requests for espionage purposes before JFK was assassinated. A CIA office used Oswald as "bait" while simultaneously trying to recruit Soviet officers and hunt for Soviet penetrators of the CIA itself.
Several CIA officials got Oswald got into the Soviet Union in 1959 with an "instant visa" after sweetening up the Soviet consul in Helsinki. Otherwise this Marine would have never got past Moscow's border officials.
Oswald tried this again when trying to re-enter the Soviet Union through Mexico City. This time, he got used as part of a counter-espionage game aimed at the Soviets and the Cubans. The story of these instant visa searches is in my essay The Office that Spied on Its Own Spies.
During Sunshine Week in Washington DC (March 14-20), a number of researchers and concerned citizens called on the House Oversight Committee to campaign for hearings that will bring more documents and the living witnesses into the daylight. A new MLK Act, based on the JFK Act, is also under discussion for immediate release of the King case documents, presently locked up until 2029.
It's not well known that most CIA employees sign a secrecy oath saying they will go to prison if they provide classified information. This oath made it impossible for many people to tell everything they knew. There is still time to get it right. The head of the House Select Committee of Assassinations investigation in the 1970s no longer believes that the CIA cooperated with their two year probe into the JFK and MLK cases. A copy of the 1963 version of this secrecy oath can be viewed here.
This is about how badly the US wanted Soviet secrets during the Cold War. The USSR was not well understood in the postwar era. The American people were extremely naïve about the role of intelligence agencies. This is a story about how fear of the unknown was twisted into the drive to build an American empire. This is the story of the twelve legend makers of Lee Harvey Oswald.
The story will keep returning to Legend Maker #1
The story begins with a man called "Mother". In every sense of the word, he is Legend Maker #1. Always in other people's business, he was a fisherman, a mad genius, and in a category by himself.
James Angleton was the chief of CIA counter-intelligence between 1954 and 1974. During the first days of the CIA, his British intelligence friend Kim Philby dubbed Angleton "the driving force of OSO" the CIA's Office of Special Operations. He got the keys to the kingdom after the bitter end of the Korean War when the Cold War began in earnest.
One of the first things Angleton did was to set up a small super-secret group known as CI/SIG, pronounced see-eye-sig, an acronym for the Counter-Intelligence Special Investigations Group. CI/SIG was the CIA of the CIA. CI/SIG's mission was to hunt within the CIA for enemy agents that might try to infiltrate the Agency. The preferred word was "penetrate", rather than "infiltrate". The preferred term was not "infiltrators", but "moles".
Angleton surrounded himself with other cagy molehunters that will pop up as we sit around the fire telling this story, such as his personal assistant Ann Egerter who controlled Oswald file, his chief of CI/SIG Birch O'Neil, and his trusted compatriot Ray Rocca who helped him direct the cover-up as a liaison to the Warren Commission.