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Was Oswald a CIA Operative or Not?


In response to growing public demands, led by JFKfacts.org, that the CIA release its still-secret, 50-year-old JFK-related records to the American people, the CIA has now issued a statement on the controversy. Even more significant, the issue has now reached the White House.

Citing McClatchy DC, JFKfacts.org reports: “‘I haven’t had a discussion with the president about Kennedy’s assassination — President Kennedy’s assassination,’ Press Secretary Jay Carney said. He said he’s also not talked with Obama about whether classified files that have not yet been released in the case should be released.”

Unfortunately, the CIA’s response to the controversy is the epitome of disingenuousness. Here is what CIA spokesman Edward Price stated:

CIA has followed the provisions of the JFK Assassination Records Collection Act, and the National Archives has all of the agency’s documents and files on the Kennedy assassination. The classified information contained in the files remains subject to the declassification provisions of the Act.

While Price is speaking bureaucratese, translated into English he’s saying that the technical aspects of the law do not require the CIA to disclose its JFK-related records to the public until 2017—four years from now and, even then, the CIA is entitled under the law to ask the president to extend the time again, based on grounds of “national security.”

Price just doesn’t get it. Everyone understands the terms of the law. What people are asking is a very simple question: After 50 years of secrecy on this matter, why not release the documents now instead of four years from now? The law does not prohibit early disclosure of these 50-year-old records.

In fact, I can’t understand why the people who defend the Warren Report remain so silent when it comes to this issue. What are they afraid of? Maybe the secret records will support their position. Why, even U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is suggesting that it’s time to open up the files.

(Also, see this interesting article about Lee Harvey Oswald in the International Business Times:JFK Assassination: Just Who Was Lee Harvey Oswald?” by Joseph Lazzaro.)

It’s always been a mystery to me how an assassination purportedly committed by a lone nut could be so deeply enveloped within the concept of “national security.” But whatever definition is given to this nebulous term, it is virtually impossible to come up with some realistic rationale as to how the release of 50-year-old JFK records is going to threaten “national security.”

Let’s consider some of the possibilities:

1. Maybe the release of the documents will cause Cuba’s president Fidel Castro to come back from retirement, mount up an army at the Bay of Pigs, launch some rafts, invade Miami, and sweep up the Eastern seaboard, and take over the IRS building.

2. Maybe the Soviet Union will reoccupy Eastern Europe and East Germany, rebuild the Berlin Wall, and threaten to infect the world with the Red menace.

3. Maybe Vietnam (North and South) will finally cause the dominoes to start falling, all the way up from the tip of South America to Mexico and finally hitting the biggest domino of all, the United States.

Ridiculous? Well, of course it is. But what other “national security” reason could there be for keeping JFK-related records secret for 50 years? Certainly, the CIA hasn’t told us how disclosure of the records would supposedly endanger “national security?” Why doesn’t it? Why not issue a statement explaining how “national security” will supposedly be endangered through the release of 50-year-old JFK-related records?

Consider, for example, the records relating to CIA agent George Joannides. Those are the ones that the CIA seems most interested in protecting from disclosure, especially given its fierce judicial battle against JFKfacts editor Jefferson Morley, who has been trying for some 10 years to get the Joannides records released to the public.

Why is the CIA so determined to keep the American people from seeing the Joannides records? How could the disclosure of the Joannides records even remotely endanger “national security,” especially given that they’re 50 years old and Joannides is dead?

Actually, the disclosure of the Joannides records could go a long way in explaining one of the most monumental coincidences in the JFK assassination.

Of course, we all know that Lee Harvey Oswald, a purported lone nut who supposedly loved communism, just happened to be employed in a building that was on President Kennedy’s parade route in Dallas.

But consider this: Just a couple of months before the assassination, this same Lee Harvey Oswald just happened to have a close, personal encounter with an anti-Castro organization, the DRE, that the CIA was secretly monitoring and funding through CIA agent George Joannides.

What are the odds of that happening? Whether one is a lone-nut theorist or a conspiracy theorist, I think everyone would agree that that is just one more heckuva big coincidence.

What was the nature of Oswald’s encounter? He just happened to drop by the place where the head of the DRE, a man named Carlos Bringuier, was working.

Doesn’t that seem amazing? A guy who is just a lone nut who later supposedly kills the president just happens to drop in on an organization that is secretly being monitored and funded by the CIA.

It gets better. During the visit, Oswald offered to help the DRE with its anti-Castro activities.


Yes, the ardent lover of communism offers to help out a CIA-monitored and CIA-funded organization with its anti-communist activities.

Doesn’t that seem a bit unusual?

Later, however, Oswald has another fascinating encounter with Bringuier and the DRE, one that ended up bringing lots of publicity to Oswald. Oswald was passing out pamphlets in favor of an organization named the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, an organization that was composed of Americans from all over the country who were opposing the embargo against Cuba. It was also an organization that the CIA and FBI were determined to destroy as a threat to “national security.”

Bringuier accosted Oswald for having the audacity to distribute pro-Castro literature, and the brouhaha resulted in garnering a lot of publicity for Oswald and his connection to the FPPC, publicity that the FPCC might not have considered overly positive given Oswald’s defection to the Soviet Union.

Interesting enough, after Kennedy’s assassination the DRE immediately took the lead in letting the press know about Oswald’s connections to communism and the Soviet Union. Also interesting is the fact that the FPPC went out of business soon after Kennedy’s assassination, partly owing to Oswald’s connection to the organization.

Some of the FPCC pamphlets that Oswald was handing out had “455 Camp St” as their return address. That wasn’t Oswald’s home address or his place of work. That just happened to be an entrance to the office of a guy named Guy Bannister, who was a retired career FBI agent who had close ties to the anti-Cuban exile community.

Now, is the inclusion of that particular address on Oswald’s FPCC pamphlets another big coincidence or what? What are the odds of that happening?

Bannister’s office was located near Oswald’s place of employment, the Reily Coffee Company. It just happened be owned by one of those fierce Cold War anti-communists. Imagine that: a fierce anti-communist hiring a guy who was supposedly an ardent lover of communism.

Oh well, coincidences do happen. No doubt about it.

But surely it wasn’t a coincidence that the CIA kept Joannides’ relationship to the DRE secret from the Warren Commission. That had to be intentional. And the CIA also kept his relationship to the DRE secret from the House Select Committee on Assassinations in the 1970s, thereby preventing the Committee from putting Joannides under oath and inquiring about the DRE’s fascinating encounter with Oswald in New Orleans. Instead, the CIA deceived the Committee into thinking that it was cooperating with the Committee by calling Joannides out of retirement to serve as a liaison between the CIA and the Committee. Instead, Joannides did everything he could to obstruct the Committee’s investigation as it related to the CIA.

So, what’s the real reason the CIA is steadfastly keeping the 50-year-old Joannides documents secret?

One distinct possibility was raised at one of the earliest executive sessions of the Warren Commission, one in which the commission was confronted with the possibility that Oswald had been an informant for the FBI and possibly an intelligence agent. The subject of that super-secret meeting made the commissioners so nervous that they ordered that the transcript of the meeting be destroyed. The only reason we know about the meeting today is that they forgot to destroy the court reporter’s recording of the meeting.

The problem, needless to say, is that what appear to be highly unusual and coincidental activities of Oswald in New Orleans don’t appear so unusual or coincidental if what the Warren Commission was initially concerned about turned out to be true. If Oswald was in fact a secret intelligence operative who was recruited out of the Marines and whose cover was a lover of communism, to enable the CIA to infiltrate him into leftist organizations, such as the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, and even the Soviet Union and Cuba, then Oswald’s activities in New Orleans make perfect sense.

The CIA could go a long way in clearing up these mysteries by showing us what George Joannides knew about Oswald and when did he know it. After all, if there’s nothing to hide, why hide it?

Of course, it could still be argued that even if Oswald was a CIA operative operating under cover, he could have still been a CIA lone nut who assassinated the president. That’s true but it would also disintegrate the lover-of-communism rationale that lone-nut theorists have long employed in their defense of the Warren Report. It would also mean that people would have to give serious consideration to Oswald’s claim of being a patsy — i.e., someone who’s been framed by those around him.

Free the files! Do it now, not four years from now. Let’s see what they show. What better way to honor the memory of JFK, who observed, “The very word ‘secrecy” is repugnant in a free and open society.”

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.