THE STORY SO FAR

Sunday Star-Times - - World -

The re­lease of thou­sands of records re­lat­ing to the as­sas­si­na­tion of John F Kennedy hasn’t set­tled the best­known, real-life whodunit in Amer­i­can his­tory. But the record of­fers riv­et­ing de­tails of the way in­tel­li­gence ser­vices op­er­ated at the time and still strive to keep some par­tic­u­lars se­cret.

Just a few hours af­ter Lee Har­vey Oswald was killed in Dal­las, FBI di­rec­tor J Edgar Hoover dic­tated a memo say­ing the gov­ern­ment needed to is­sue some­thing ‘‘so we can con­vince the pub­lic’’ that Oswald killed Kennedy.

The FBI di­rec­tor com­posed the memo on Novem­ber 24, 1963 – two days af­ter Kennedy was killed, and just hours af­ter night­club owner Jack Ruby fa­tally shot Oswald.

Hoover said an agent at the hos­pi­tal hoped to get a con­fes­sion from Oswald, but Oswald died. He said he and a deputy were con­cerned about ‘‘hav­ing some­thing is­sued so we can con­vince the pub­lic that Oswald is the real as­sas­sin’’.

Hoover said Oswald wrote a let­ter to the Soviet Em­bassy in Washington, which the FBI in­ter­cepted, read and re­sealed. He said the let­ter had been ad­dressed to the em­bassy of­fi­cial ‘‘in charge of as­sas­si­na­tions and sim­i­lar ac­tiv­i­ties on the part of the Soviet gov­ern­ment’’, and that ‘‘to have that drawn into a pub­lic hear­ing would muddy the waters in­ter­na­tion­ally’’.

Kennedy’s suces­sor, Lyn­don John­son, be­lieved Kennedy was be­hind the as­sas­si­na­tion of South Viet­nam’s pres­i­dent weeks be­fore his death, and that Kennedy’s mur­der was pay­back.

CIA di­rec­tor Richard Helms said in a 1975 de­po­si­tion that John­son ‘‘ used to go around say­ing that the rea­son [Kennedy] was as­sas­si­nated was that he had as­sas­si­nated Pres­i­dent [Ngo Dinh] Diem and this was just jus­tice. Where he got this idea from, I don’t know’’.

The for­mer Soviet Union’s in­tel­li­gence agency, the KGB, al­legedly claimed it had in­for­ma­tion ty­ing John­son to the as­sas­si­na­tion of Kennedy. John­son has long been a fo­cus of some con­spir­acy the­o­rists, but no cred­i­ble in­for­ma­tion has been re­vealed link­ing him to the as­sas­si­na­tion.

A Bri­tish news­pa­per re­ceived an anony­mous phone call about ‘‘big news’’ in the US, 25 min­utes be­fore Kennedy was shot. A CIA memo told of the call re­ceived by the Cam­bridge News. The memo from deputy CIA di­rec­tor James An­gle­ton says the caller said ‘‘the Cam­bridge News re­porter should call the Amer­i­can Em­bassy in Lon­don for some big news, and then hung up’’. Cam­bridge News said there was no record of the call. AP

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