The story about Aldo Margolles, allegedly the son of the head of the Cuban national police and apparently the actual director himself – planning to kill JFK in Dec 1961 allegedly emanated from the Secret Service Miami office where Ernest Aragon worked.
29 August, 2017 © 2017 – Malcolm Blunt
Both the Church Committee* and the House Select Committee on Assassinations gained access to the CIA Office of Security files of Lee Harvey Oswald. In 1993, despite a directive from CIA Director Robert Gates seeking an all-encompassing search of ALL CIA components for ANY material/records relevant to the assassination of President Kennedy, the Oswald OS files remained hidden. This huge search by CIA did not surface Oswald’s security files and the Assassination Records Review Board remained uninformed about their existence. Not until 1997 when an ARRB staffer stumbled across evidence that two previous congressional investigations had access to these files did CIA “discover” them. CIA told the ARRB that the reason the Oswald security files were not previously located was because those records were not at the Agency Archival Record Center in Alexandria, VA; they were in fact at CIA HQS in Langley within Office of Security Archival Holdings. How were they missed in the Gates search of 1993?
In 1998 CIA handed over LHO’s Security files to the ARRB. Upon delivery staffers there discovered that of the 7 volume set, one volume, Volume 5, was missing. Prior to sending over the files to the ARRB the CIA’s Historical Review Group, now “consolidated” (disbanded) and reformed as part of IMS (IMG) Information Management Services (Group), also spotted this curious anomaly and had sought to try and work out some sort of explanation for the disappearance. Internal HRG memos show that they first thought that there never was a volume 5, it was simply a case of miss-numbering by clerical staff. Another thought came to mind within CIA/HRG: perhaps the absence of Volume 5 of the Oswald security file might be explained by “consolidation” of those records. In other words, Volume 5 could have been consolidated within Volume 4 and/or Volume 6.
We can detect that some concern was generated within the Agency for obvious reasons; CIA might receive much criticism and subject itself to accusations of “foul play” with regard to the missing volume. CIA eventually decided to go with the following: “Volume 5 of Oswald’s Security file may never have existed.” — Clearly the Historical Review Group, which was responsible for the release of all JFK related CIA material, found itself in an acutely embarrassing predicament. It does seem that there was genuine puzzlement within the HRG about this as they struggled to find an explanation. Some partial explanation may reside in the files of Scott Breckinridge and the OLC (Office of Legal Counsel) who acted as liaison between CIA and the HSCA in the seventies. One Breckinridge note describes the OS volumes to which Betsy Wolf, the HSCA researcher tasked with reading Oswald’s security files, had access. In this typewritten note Scott Breckinridge specifically mentions Wolf’s access to Volume 5.
In fact, HSCA records indicate that she reviewed approximately half of the materials within Vol. 5.
So what are we to make of this? In response to official requests from the US Government and despite specific directives from CIA Directors Gates and Tenet, which were acted upon by HRG Chief John Pereira in 1993 and J. Barry Harrelson in 1997, the Oswald Security files seem to have been turned inside out and outside in. Volume 5 existed during the tenure of the HSCA as confirmed by the Chief Counsel of OLC, Scott Breckinridge and the handwritten notes of Betsy Wolf. Sometime between the HSCA closure in 1979 and the late surfacing of those files in 1997, one volume, Vol. 5 disappeared. This beggars the question; for what possible reason? The intact files were previously given to both the SSCIA and the HSCA, so why did the CIA “not find them” until a direct, specific request from the ARRB in 1997? And then, why turn them over minus volume 5? How were the files missed during the Gates search of 1993 and the Tenet search of 1997? The two DCI orders were to search ALL CIA components.
In 1977, while overseeing the process whereby CIA OGC (Office of General Counsel) received the Office of Security Oswald files, Russ Holmes documents in his inventory all 7 OS volumes on Lee Harvey Oswald. Seven volumes in — seven volumes out. As of that accounting, all volumes were present and nothing was missing.
RELATED: Important CIA comments on HSCA draft reports: Scott Breckinridge (CIA OLC) to G. Robert Blakey DOWNLOAD
RELATED: 19 March, 1998: STATEMENT CONCERNING ACTIONS TAKEN BY THE CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY PURSUANT TO THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE JFK ASSASSINATION RECORDS COLLECTION ACT OF 1992 DOWNLOAD
RELATED: OFFICE OF SECURITY DOCUMENTS PULLED FROM OS OSWALD FILES PRIOR TO REVIEW BY CHURCH COMMITTEE DOWNLOAD
RELATED: CIA and OPENNESS: Speech by Dr. Robert M. Gates, Director of Central Intelligence, Oklahoma Press Association, 21 February, 1992 DOWNLOAD
* An eight-binder index of the Church Committee is still withheld in full. Access to that material may shed light on the issues addressed within this article.
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With the October releases coming up, we should keep in mind what the ARRB has already told us we will not find.
For those of us who research the Mexico City story, it has always been very frustrating to find that there is no organized way to find the cables and dispatches between Mexico City and Headquarters, or between these two entities and JMWAVE in Miami, except within carefully circumscribed dates.
What we have run into amounts to a CIA tutorial on how to avoid providing information that is mandated under the law.
As shown below, the listing of files for JMWAVE begins on November 21, and the listing of files for HQ and Mexico City begins on October 1. Very unhelpful for putting together the Oswald story, as well as the events prior to the assassination in Miami.
But not all of the files are missing. A number of the files within this timeframe do exist – simply in a less organized format. Many memos are tucked away in various other files, such as the files on Cuban consul Eusebio Azcue in CIA microfilm, Reel 2.
In fact, it is probable that most or all of these files could have been provided by the CIA if they had simply cross-indexed the files within their own Records Integration Division.
The National Archives has the duty to index the files themselves, and send a demand to the CIA for the missing files. The Act is in effect until “the Archivist certifies to the President and the Congress that all assassination-related records have been made available to the public in accordance with this Act.”
From the ARRB Final Report in 1999:
The Review Board deemed these gaps to be significant because both CIA stations played roles in U.S. operations against Cuba.
The cable traffic that the Review Board reviewed in the CIA’s sequestered collection commences on October 1, 1963, and contains the earliest known communication—an October 8, 1963, cable—between the Mexico City Station and CIA Headquarters concerning Lee Harvey Oswald.
1998 explaining that:
In general, cable traffic and dispatches are not available as a chronological collection and thus, for the period 26 through 30 September 1963 it is not possible to provide cables and dispatches in a chronological/package form.
During the periods in question, the Office of Communications (OC) only held cables long enough to ensure that they were successfully transmitted to the named recipient. On occasion. . .cables were sometimes held for longer periods but not with the intention of creating a long-term reference collection.
The Review Board was not able to locate cables or dispatches from the following periods:
Headquarters to Mexico City Station (September 26–30, 1963);
JMWAVE to Headquarters (September 26–November 21,1963);
Headquarters to JMWAVE (September 26–November 21, 1963);
and all traffic between the Mexico City Station and JMWAVE for the periods September 26–October 20, 1963 and November 22–December 30, 1963.
and dispatches from stations in the 1960s.
generally destroyed the temporary records in less than ninety days.
After the assassination, the Office of the Deputy Director of Plans ordered relevant CIA offices to retain cables that they would have otherwise destroyed. The HSCA used the remaining cable traffic to compile its Mexico City chronology.
Had CIA offices strictly applied the ninety-day rule, there might have been copies of cable traffic commencing as early as August 22, 1963, rather than October 1, 1963, available to CIA on November 22, 1963.
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Courtesy of AARC Board member, Dr. Randy Robertson
In December of 2001 and January of 2002 during an interview with U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery historians, Dr. James Young, a physician who had worked with White House Physician Admiral George Burkley during the Kennedy administration, related that during the autopsy he had been given a bullet in an envelope by White House Medical Corpsman Chief Petty Officer Thomas Mills after his return from the White House garage to retrieve skull fragments from the rear of the limousine. Young described this bullet as jacketed, straight but with a bent tip and visually close in diameter to CE399, which he estimated to be ½ centimeter. Dr. Young voiced his concerns to the interviewers that he had never seen any reference to it in the Warren Commission investigation. The last thing he remembers is that he gave the envelope containing the bullet with the bent tip to Dr. Humes, the head autopsy pathologist, and that the bullet was never seen or documented after that.
Dr. Young had embarked on his own investigation approximately one year prior to being interviewed by the Navy historians. His uneasiness over this point had caused him to reach out to President Gerald Ford, the last living member of the Warren Commission, in December of 2000 in an effort to find the final disposition of this bullet and President Ford replied. After reading the article on the Navy Live website and the entire transcript of his interview obtained by FOIA request, AARC Board member Randolph Robertson M.D. contacted the Ford Library to see if Dr. Young had indeed written to the ex-president in an effort to corroborate his statements made to Navy interviewers. He had, and his letter including his recollection of a missing bullet with a bent tip had preceded his same recollection to Navy historians one year later in December of 2001.
In the interviews Dr. Young said that he had initially contacted White House Corpsman Chief Petty Officer Mills by telephone and Mills confirmed his recollection. Navy historians called Mills in an effort to verify Dr. Young’s claims. Mills told historian Jan Herman that he remembered the event but when pressed for details Mills stated that he didn’t want to talk about it even after the historians notified him that they represented the U. S. Navy Bureau of Medical and Surgery Office of Medical History. Significantly Mills did not repudiate Dr. Young’s claim, something that might well have been expected if Young had fabricated the episode and falsely implicated Mills in the process.
Dr. Robertson then contacted Navy interviewer Jan Herman who informed him that the interview with Mills had not been taped but that Mills tone of voice changed perceptibly when pressed for details of the episode. Herman also vividly remembered the Young interview because after having the tapes transcribed, Dr. Young then adamantly refused to sign the release form for the Navy to use them. In the hundreds of oral history interviews that Herman had conducted, Dr. Young was the only one who had refused to sign such a release. Dr. Young’s stated reason was that there were revelations contained within the interview which he did not want to be made public. This same sentiment was included in his earlier letter to President Ford. An additional FOIA request by Dr. Robertson for the actual tapes of the interviews was non-responsive as the tapes could not be found. Dr. Young died in 2008 due to complications following a stroke.
From the Mary Ferrell Foundation: “I would not care to be quoted on that.”
The Missing Physician
The Warren Commission was faced with contradictions in the medical evidence. The Parkland Hospital doctors who treated the mortally wounded President described an entrance wound in the throat and a large occipital (rearward) wound in Kennedy’s head. The autopsy doctors declared the throat wound to be one of exit, and drawings they produced of Kennedy’s head wound showed it to be largely on the right side. At issue in these varying descriptions is whether shots came from the front or the rear.
One man was best suited to address these conflicting accounts – the President’s personal physician Dr. George Burkley. Burkley rode in the Dallas motorcade, was present at Parkland Hospital, rode Air Force One to Washington with the body, and was present at the autopsy, by some accounts running it. He signed the White House Death Certificate, wrote “verified” on a “face sheet” created during the autopsy, and took physical possession of JFK’s brain and tissue slides.
The Warren Commission never interviewed him.
Though Burkley was continually mentioned by other Commission witnesses, the only statements from the doctor himself to appear in the Warren Commission’s 26 volumes is CE 1126, a report Burkley wrote 2 days before the Commission was announced.
In 1976, Burkley’s lawyer William Illig contacted Richard Sprague of the HSCA, saying that his client had information that “others besides Oswald must have participated.” Sprague was ousted days later, and the reconstituted HSCA and its medical panel never took Burkley’s testimony. Instead, a short phone contact the following year was followed up yet months later, when the HSCA was done with all its public medical presentations, with an strange affidavit signed by Burkley. The affidavit, in which Burkley attested to his constant presence with Kennedy’s body from Parkland Hospital on, seemed almost solely devoted to refuting David Lifton’s as yet-unpublished Best Evidence.
The ARRB in the mid 1990s contacted the family of the now-deceased Burkley, and initially received verbal permission to obtain the lawyer Illig’s files. But Burkley’s daughter subsequently changed her mind and in the end declined to sign the necessary waiver.
Questions abound about Burkley’s handling of the now-missing brain of JFK, his role at the autopsy, and his involvement in the 1965 transfer of autopsy materials into the Kennedy family’s hands. Did the Warren Commission and HSCA avoid Burkley because they were afraid of what he would say? In a 1967 oral history, Burkley was asked whether he agreed with the Warren Commission’s view on the number of shots. Burkley’s reply: “I would not care to be quoted on that.”
Visit the Mary Ferrell Foundation HERE
Bits and pieces offered for your consideration, courtesy of the Assassination Archives and Research Center. [To enlarge images, right click and select “View Image.”]