October 2004, Featured Article

McCone to Rowley: Oswald Was One of Our Boys

by Walt Brown

A document, clearly the smoking gun that Oswald was in the employee of the CIA, came to light and was widely circulated on the Internet. The question, however, remains: is it genuine?

The entire document will be typed herein, as I cannot cut and paste it and still make it readable. It is a "United States Government" Memorandum dated March 3, 1964 (stamped "Confidential" and is from "Mr. John McCone Director, Central Intelligence Agency," to "Mr. James J. Rowley, Chief, U.S. Secret Service."

Subject: Central Intelligence Report on the assassination of John Kennedy.

In response to the request made by your office on 24 February 1964 re: Lee Oswald's activities and assignments on behalf of this agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation, there follows a narrative summary of the internal subversive activities of the Oswald subject.

I recommend that unless the Commission makes a specific request for specific information contained herein, that this information not be volunteered. This agency has reason to assume that some junior Commission staff members may be potential sources of leaks to the news media or to other agencies; due to the highly sensitive nature of the enclosed material, it would certainly be in the national interest to withhold it at this time -- unless there is, of course, a specific request made.

It is my understanding that Mr. Hoover has certain sensitive information within his agency, which has be transferred to his own personal files for safekeeping; he concurs that no material should be voluntarily given to the Commission which might affect the status of field operatives or their safety. He is particularly concerned about the De Bruey memorandum, which Central Intelligence has obtained and which, I understand, you have obtained. It is imperative that this information, at least for the time, remain under wraps.

Oswald subject was trained by this agency, under cover of the Office of Naval Intelligence, for Soviet assignments. During preliminary training, in 1957, subject was active in aerial reconnaissance of mainland China and maintained a security clearance up to the "confidential" level. His military records during this period are open to your agency and I have directed they be forwarded to the Commission.

Subject received additional indoctrination at our own Camp Peary site from September 8 to October 17, 1958, and participated in a few relatively minor assignments until arrangements were made for his entry into the Soviet Union in September 1959. While in the Soviet Union, he was on special assignment in the area of Minsk. It would not be advantageous at this time to divulge the specifics of that assignment; however, if you wish this information, it can be made available for your personal inspection within the confines of our own offices, or I can send it by courier on the condition that it not leave the custody of the courier. I am concerned that if this information were in any way disclosed to the wrong persons, it would lead the media to erroneously claim this agency, and perhaps others, were directly involved in the Dallas action. While the persons involved were in the employ of this agency, as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, it is virtually impossible for this or any agency to maintain full, 24-hours-a-day responsibility over its operatives.

At the time of the Dallas action, the Oswald subject was only (xxxx xx) in our employ; after the Soviet assignment, we found him to be unreliable and emotionally unstable. He was of little use to us after his marriage and De Bruey, from what I understand, concurred in this. He was provided with a few unimportant infiltration assignments and proved of little or no value. It is possible that Oswald, given his instability, might have been involved in some operation involving Hoffa, as noted in SAIC Bertram's report to your agency dated 1/3/64. Mr. Hoover advises that his agency is trying to determine whether Hoffa might have been involved laterally or vertically with the Dallas assassination I have advised that I would be interested in seeing the results of that investigation.

Mr. Hoover advises that the facts given in SAIC Bertran's [ed. note: "Bertram" in first usage, Bertran" here] 1/3/64 report are basically correct. His agency has advised Deputy Sweatt against any further unauthorized statements to the news media which might adversely affect the investigation. Mr. Hoover advises he has no knowledge of how Deputy Sweatt obtained his information, as there is no record of the agency distributing any such information to Sweatt or any other member of Dallas Sheriff's office. It is regrettable that this information has come to the attention of the news media, but I am sure Mr. Hoover will be able to clarify the situation.

Speculation within this agency -- and this is only speculation at this point -- is that Oswald subject became unstable following surgery April 1, 1961, in the Minsk Hospital. He may have been chemically or electronically "controlled"... a sleeper agent. Subject spent eleven days hospitalized for a "minor ailment" which should have required no more than three days hospitalization at the most. Six days after his release, he met Marina Prusakova. This agency is particularly interested in her intelligence background and I have requested a report on same from our Soviet Embassy contact.

After his return to the U.S., Oswald worked in New Orleans through the Anti-Communist League of the Caribbean and Friends of Democratic Cuba; his case officer was SAIC Guy Bannister from the Chicago F131 office. He was transferred from his assignments there after he was arrested and fined stemming from an incident of his distribution of pamphlets for the Fair Play for Cuba Committee. While our files here show no flirther assignments or contact, I am requesting an (xx) check on the subject from our New Orleans and Ft. Worth offices.

Please direct any further communication on this matter to my personal attention so that your requests may be expedited, or feel free to call me anytime. My office is always available to you.

/s/ John McCone

WOW! Authentication or failure to complete authentication will determine, in the final analysis, if this is the smoking gun, or just another riddle wrapped inside a mystery concealed in an enigma.

I need to preface any analysis with the caveat that the analysis which follows may be proven wholly inaccurate (or correct) during the interval when this issue of the journal is at the printer or being lost by the postal service.

Either way, here goes.

The things that argue FOR believing it are essentially circumstantial and intangible, while the arguments against its authenticity are more of a forensic nature.

Primarily, and I've read it two or three times a day for three days now, and I've shared it with others who would have an opinion on the matter, and it reads almost exactly like it would if authentic. The phrasing, the places where McCone covers the agency's "assets" as it were, are almost -- but not totally -- letter-perfect. The only concerns in this regard are that "Oswald" would usually be in all capital letters in such a document, i.e., "Subject OSWALD..." so that a reader of the document could easily locate references to the name. The fact that DeBrueys and Banister are misspelled does NOT trouble me, as such lapses are typical in government documents (especially in the nuk-you-ler age...).

The various wordings which have as their intent keeping the document private are clear, and would appear virtually just the way they do here. Clearly, the reference to Hoover having gotten data and put it in his private files is both an indication of reality AND, most importantly, the reason that this memo is so "civil" with regard to Hoover, a man totally hated, loathed, and despised by the CIA. Put another way, they didn't much like him.

The phrase "Dallas action" jumped off the page, like "the assassination of President Kennedy" (a title he receives nowhere in the document -- not even the title) was for public consumption, but to the CIA was just another world leader toppled.... who's scheduled for tomorrow?

Similarly, when the question arises as to the involvement of "Hoffa" either laterally or vertically, that absolutely resonates. Of itself, it could prove the accuracy of the document; it could also be a red herring, within a legitimate document, to cover the agency's butt because one of their boys got caught; also carefully note the reference to "While the persons involved were in the employ of this agency, as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, it is virtually impossible for this or any agency to maintain full, 24-hours-a-day responsibility over its operatives."

So, it reads extremely accurately. I'd expand that thought and append, again using only logic and circumstance, and suggest that if someone wanted to make this up, "nobody is that good." I've had the good fortune to meet some brilliant people who have dedicated decades of their lives to getting to the bottom of the "Dallas action," and I truly believe that none of them -- and I mean to clearly include myself in the noting of the inability -- to be good enough to put together a document in this way. It touches on just enough -- Hoffa, LHO going to the USSR (although the Minsk purpose is more 'secret' than the fact that Oswald was a CIA agent -- were Russian radios that important, or did Oswald actually photograph Russian military installations?) -- the Anti-Communist League of the Caribbean, and the "Sweatt" information -- unstated, but it was Deputy Sheriff Alan Sweatt who released the information that Oswald was a paid FBI informant, using the designation S-179.

I just can't imagine even the most talented researcher/critic being able to put together something as clear and uncontrived as this document.

Arguments against: first of all, why would the CIA need to inform the Secret Service? There is probably only one reason, and that is to give them a heads-up to be extremely careful that they, the SS, do not stumble into something that the CIA -- or worse still, Hoover -- does not want let out of the toothpaste tube. It also provides the "Hoffa" red herring, as by inference, the CIA would not help Jimmy Hoffa do much of anything (except kill someone disliked by both).

It has to be remembered that the Secret Service was actively investigating JFK's death, even though the job of the Secret Service is only to protect the president, other officials, and American currency. They will investigate counterfeiting efforts, but they had no authority to investigate JFK's murder, either by their own statutes or by virtue of the fact that this particular murder was not a federal crime.

As Rich DellaRosa pointed out in a reply e-mail to someone, and I got the CC of it, there is a paucity of markings on the document. When you have studied the documentation, and gone through the John Newman School of Interpreting Who Read a Specific Document, you quickly learn that when "X" gets the document, they initial and date it, and pass it on, either up or down the food chain. Additional initials and dates are added, so that the margin is usually cluttered with initials, dates, and numbers that are usually indicative of the group within an agency which saw the document (105, I believe, is the Soviet Russia Division of the CIA, for example).

This document has no such markings, meaning clearly it is not the one Rowley received, or the first copy that McCone sent. But one thing I recall John Newman saying, and he was almost predicting the emergence of a document just like this one: "Washington is a city of paper. Everything is copied and kept. Somewhere, in a desk somewhere, is the document that will tell us all we need." (I am paraphrasing John, and I hope he forgives my inability to quote exactly). But there it is -- maybe.

Another red flag is the classification of the document: "Confidential." In CIA headquarters, the wrapping that a hamburger or chili dog comes out of is routinely marked "Confidential," and I believe it is the lowest of the several classifications. "Secret," "Top Secret," "Eyes Only -- name of person" and things like "Only to be opened in the face of a national crisis" are far more serious designations. Those designations also last a while, whereas a document classified "Confidential" is routinely declassified, by policy, within a couple of years.

Clearly, this document was never meant to see the light of day, and that urgency is punctuated by McCone's offer to let Rowley come and see other data, or view it in the presence of a courier -- who would deliver the document in a locked briefcase handcuffed to his wrist. On the other hand, the document's significance is understated when McCone suggests that it not be released, for now, to the Commission. Did they believe that the Report by the Commission would be so widely agreed to that subsequent release of this document would not affect its credibility? I have to doubt it -- but then again, who expected many Americans to still be questioning the "Dallas action" 41 years later?

Clearly, this is more than your average chili dog.

There have also been "hoax" documents in the past, the most memorable being a Dallas Police report of investigation of an altercation between Jack Ruby and Lee Oswald, at the address of Mary Bledsoe's boarding house. It was discovered, of all places, in the papers of Marguerite Oswald where it had been planted by some prankster who had access to an existing DPD form, which got forged. It made the rounds back in 1992 or 1993, but I saw it and immediately doubted it, because addresses were incorrect, the date of the event was after Oswald had left Bledsoe's tenancy, sine die, and the day and date of the event did not match (nobody is going to convince any of us that there were four snipers when JFK was killed on Thursday November 22, 1963). There was just too much wrong with the document, and it was a grainy, probably fourth carbon copy. I remember calling Jim Marrs -- the only time I ever called him -- to warn him off a press conference or some such announcement, and he did agree with the substance of what I had found and he did back away from the document; from there, it died a natural death.

This one is different. People are already in the process of checking the RIF #s to see if there is an original of this somewhere (highly uniikely, given its content) -- but remember the "Newman prophecy."

This could be it -- although I suspect most people who have read John Armstrong's book would immediately ask, "How does this fit into John's work?" more quickly than they would ask, "Is this real?" It can be fit into the matrix of Harvey and Lee, and I doubt that McCone knew of that scenario, or if he did, that he would admit to the CIA being THAT obsessive.

"Is it real?" The question is a very valid one.