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« Cold War Origins | Main | The Secret That Wasn’t: Deep Throat Exposed in 1973 »

11 August 2008

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Pat Speer

A pretty good overview overall, but I believe it misses a few points.

One is that Ford and the FBI never fully trusted each other, and that that is why their relationship never came into full bloom. In the December 16th executive session, Ford talked openly with his fellow commissioners about the likelihood the FBI was leaking its report to the press. DeLoach's report on his talk with Ford in which this meeting was discussed, however, reflects: "There was no criticism of the FBI at yesterday's meeting. There was no allegations by any one, including the Chief Justice, that the FBI had leaked portions of this report." Ford was lying to them, playing the double agent.

On 12-20, however, DeLoach met with commissioner Richard Russell, and found out that the commissioners had discussed Hoover's leaking his report. At this point, DeLoach and Hoover were onto Ford's game. After that, apparently, they continued to use each other, but without the same level of trust. Hoover knew Ford couldn't be trusted, and Ford, one should suspect, knew DeLoach and Hoover had lied to him when they had claimed to have nothing to do with the leaking of the report.

The second point that needs to be made, or corrected, is that Hoover's punishment of his agents on the Security matter DID NOT come chiefly as a result of his being embarrassed in the report, as proposed. In May 1964, Hoover testified: “Now, we interviewed Oswald a few days after he arrived…There was nothing up to the time of the assassination that gave any indication that this man was a dangerous character who might do harm to the President or to the Vice-President, so his name was not furnished at the time to the Secret Service. Under the new criteria which we have now put into force and effect, it would have been furnished because we now include all defectors." He was almost certainly lying, however. He failed to tell the commission he'd previously and secretly investigated this point and had come to a different conclusion altogether.

On December 10, 1963, he’d censured or placed on probation 17 employees (5 field investigators, 1 field supervisor, 3 special agents in charge, 4 headquarters supervisors, 2 headquarters section chiefs, 1 inspector, and 1 assistant director) for what the inspector of the internal investigation, James Gale, termed “shortcomings in connection with the investigation of Oswald prior to the assassination." Hoover then rebuked Assistant Director Alan Belmont, who'd claimed these men were correct in not believing Oswald met the then-current criteria, with "They were worse than mistaken. Certainly no one in full possession of all his faculties can claim Oswald didn’t fall within this criteria.”

Conspiracy or no conspiracy, it's important that people understand the fact that the investigation of the assassination was treated by those investigating it as a political problem, and not merely as a question of establishing the facts.

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Washington Decoded