Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Death of JFK: The HSCA

The House Select Committee on Assassinations half-heartedly looked into the assassination in the seventies. It had few inv estigators, and their travel was severely hemmed in.

For some reason, Congressional supporters of the Pentagon forced the ouster of the first counsel, Richard Sprague. It was also known that the Army was in charge of the Kennedy autopsy and there is a great deal of evidence that it was , at the least, badly botched. He also thought the C.I.A. could be involved and that events in New Orleans were central to the assassination.

A re-examination of physical evidence was a disaster. It turned out that Kennedy’s brain had been lost . A comparison of what the doctors in Texas and others there saw with the official autopsy leads to the conclusion that somethings were changed on photographs and that the head wound was changed so it would appear that the bullet came from the back.

Much information had been lost, including tissue samples, and serious questions have been raised about the x-rays and photographs that have been purported to be those of the dead Kennedy. It also told that one doctor did not dissect the neck because he was ordered not to do so.

The investigation was hampered by many things—bickering over the hiring of staff, much time spent on writing operational procedures and working out delicate relationships with government agencies, and the purge of many staffers to save money at a crucial time.

In the end, the committee decided that more people than Oswald were involved but it failed to put key witnesses to this fact on the stand. It also decided that at least four shots were fired. The holes in the back of Kennedy’s shirt and coat made the single shooter and magic bullet theories untenable. It found strong evidence that the F.B.I. knew in 1963 that information that Lee Harvey Oswald had telephoned and visited the Soviet embassy in Mexico City was very doubtful. Yet the committee fudged its conclusion on this and did not pursue the matter. Studying what went on in the committee led many connected to it to wonder if those who led it really wanted to learn what had happened on November 22. An investigation conducted by the Attorney General of Texas, Waggoner Carr, was to show that Oswald was also acting as an F.B.I. informer since 1962.

The committee wasted a great deal of time running down a red herring offered by Clare Booth Luce. The source of her information soon shot himself. She turned out to be an officer of the Retired Intelligence Officers Association. After November 22, Mrs. Marina Oswald broke off ties with her friend Ruth Paine on the advice of the Secret Service. They told her that Mrs. Paine was’sympathizing with the C.I.A..” Her husband Michael Paine worked at Bell Aircraft, a Defense Department contractor. He worked for General Walter Dornberger, an alleged Nazi war criminal who was head of research and development. Mr. Paine took Lee Harvey Oswald to a meeting with General Edwin Walker. Walker had been removed from the Army by Kennedy because he was indoctrinating soldiers with German Bund doctrines.

The possible involvement of Cuban exiles was only traced around the periphery. Rolando Otero told an investigator that he had repeatedly heard that the C.I.A. was involved and that about 30 C.I.A. personnel were in Dallas that day. He was soon shipped off to prison with a forty year sentence. The chief witness against him was Ricardo “the Monley” Morales, a C.I.A. hit man. A Treasury man from Minnesota came into Miami to instruct other witnesses, who had been rounded up and taken to a safe house, in what they should say in court. The committee investigator traced Otero’s two sources, “Carlos” and “Ten-One,” but he was forbidden to look closely into their backgrounds or what they were doing in the mid-1970s.

Fabian Escalante, probably a Cuban government asset, claims that Antonio Cuesta, while being held by the Cubans, confessed to being involved in the assassination. He named three others who were part of the Forty: Eladio Del Valle, Rolando Masferrer and Hermino Diaz Garcia. John Martino confessed to a Miami Newsday reporter that he had been involved in the logistics of the assassination, mainly making payments. He thought two Cubans were directly involved, one being Garcia

The other was Virgilio Gonzalez, who was also connected with the Forty. Florence Martino , wife of John, said her husband told her on the morning of November 22 that Kennedy would die that day. Martino also said before his death in 1975 that he had spread false stories about Oswald being the shooter and that he himself was involved as a facilitator, which included delivering money. Martino was close to William Pawley and they involved together in an anti-Castro effort called “Operation Tilt.” Fred Claasen told the House Committee that Oswald thought he was working for the Cubans. He was to meet a contact at the Texas Theater and helped to leave the country, but he made a mistake shooting the policeman. Ruby had to eliminate Oswald.

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