JFK JBK Dallas motorcade 22Nov2013 WikiCommons
President John F. Kennedy riding in the motorcade with First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963, proceeding toward Dealey Plaza. WikiCommons

Scholar and assassination researcher Josiah Thompson, author of “Six Seconds in Dallas,” said it best in the 2007 documentary film “Oswald’s Ghost”:

“As long as a mystery resides at the center of this case, it can’t be closed,” Thompson said.

That case, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963, remains, for many, an open and unsolved murder case.

It remains open because the Dallas Police Department never had a chance to conduct a standard criminal investigation of the assassination. At the direction of Secret Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation and Central Intelligence Agency officials present in Dallas, President Kennedy’s body was quickly flown on Air Force One back to Washington, D.C., that Friday afternoon.

The institution that did investigate the assassination, the Warren Commission, concluded in September 1964, about one year after the event, that Lee Harvey Oswald, acting alone, fired three shots from the Texas School Book Depository in Dealey Plaza and killed President Kennedy, while also wounding Texas Gov. John Connally and bystander James Tague.

The Warren Commission also concluded that Dallas nightclub/strip club owner Jack Ruby also acted alone when he shot and murdered Oswald two days after his arrest, on Nov. 24, 1963, as Oswald was being transported from Dallas police headquarters to a county jail.

And almost since the day the Warren Commission issued its report, it has been criticized for being implausible, unconvincing and grossly slipshod in its investigation procedures -- particularly for failing to collect 100 percent of the evidence, and for failing to analyze evidence it had collected -- and for other serious violations of basic protocols for criminal investigations.

Later, in 1978, a second investigation, by the U.S. House Select Committee on Assassinations, concluded that President Kennedy was very likely assassinated as a result of a plot/conspiracy, but the committee was unable to identify the other gunmen or the extent of the conspiracy.

To date, there’s no “smoking gun,” or, in other words, there’s no incontrovertible evidence of a plot/conspiracy to assassinate President Kennedy, but there is a pattern of suspicious activity, along with a series of anomalies and a commonality of interests among key parties that compel additional research and the release to the public of key documents.

With the above in mind, four files -- when made public by the Central Intelligence Agency -- will help determine what really happened on Nov. 22, 1963, in Dallas.

The files are ranked from least important (number 4) to most (number 1):

4) David Atlee Phillips

David Atlee Phillips’ operational and management files should be made public. A Central Intelligence Agency officer for 25 years, Phillips’ highest rank was as the CIA’s chief of operations in the Western Hemisphere. An adept and creative strategist, perhaps Phillips’ best skill was his conceptualization of psychological warfare operations.

Research also suggests that Phillips, while working undercover in 1963, was involved in pre-assassination surveillance of Lee Harvey Oswald.

JFKFacts.org Moderator Jefferson Morley, who is also an assassination researcher, said the CIA retains four files containing 606 pages of material on Phillips, who died in 1987.

3) Birch D. O’Neal

Birch D. O’Neal was head of the CIA’s counterintelligence office, which had tracked Lee Harvey Oswald from 1959 to 1963, and he reported to counterintelligence chief James Jesus Angleton. According to the House Select Committee on Assassinations, Angleton’s counterintelligence group opened a file on defector Oswald, and it also opened his mail under the CIA’s HTLINGUAL program run by O’Neal.

Further, while the HSCA qualifies in its report that “the existence of a 201 file does not necessarily connote any actual relations or contact with the CIA,” an argument can be made that if there were planned, repeated, mission-linked contacts between Oswald and the CIA, and/or attempts to manipulate Oswald without Oswald knowing about it, O’Neal likely recorded it in his files.

Morley said the CIA retains three files on O’Neal’s operations, containing 222 pages of material.

2) E. Howard Hunt

Those familiar with the 1972 Watergate scandal that resulted in the 1974 resignation of President Richard Nixon will remember E. Howard Hunt, who co-engineered the Watergate office building bugging and burglary of the Democratic National Committee and also conducted other undercover operations for the Nixon Administration.

Before his Nixon White House service days, Hunt, of course, was no stranger to covert operations. In 1963, then-CIA Director Richard Helms made Hunt the chief of the CIA’s Domestic Contacts Division.

In the final months/weeks of his life, E. Howard Hunt was interviewed by his son, Saint John Hunt, to whom he made several assertions regarding the assassination of President Kennedy, including individuals who were purportedly involved in the alleged plot/conspiracy, which E. Howard Hunt opaquely called “the Big Event,” and which person (not himself) had masterminded the plot.

Morley said the CIA retains six files containing 332 pages of material on Hunt, who died in 2007.

1) William King Harvey

One of the most highly regarded CIA officers of his time, Bill Harvey has been described as cerebral to the nth degree, without sentiment, highly skilled, and in possession of great stamina and determination.

He also was, arguably, the public policy official with the most contempt for President Kennedy and his brother, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy.

When the CIA created an organization in 1960 capable of planning and undertaking assassinations, it was given the code name ZR-RIFLE and the agency put Harvey in charge.

Further, according to author and assassination researcher Bill Simpich, Harvey was the only real rival to the CIA’s James Jesus Angleton in CIA counterintelligence in this era; Harvey ran the CIA’s counterintelligence division prior to Angleton, then served as head of the CIA’s prestigious base in Berlin. In short, Harvey likely knew of the same secrets as Angleton.

Morley said the CIA retains a 123-page file on Harvey’s operations.

Also: George de Mohrenschildt

A person not on Morley’s list, but one who also is associated with the events of Nov. 22, 1963, is George de Mohrenschildt, arguably one of the most fascinating -- and mystifying -- figures to make a home in the Dallas area during that period.

De Mohrenschildt, who was 52 in 1963, was a conservative, sophisticated Russian émigré and petroleum geologist/professor who settled in Dallas and established many contacts in Dallas oil, business and conservative circles, including the very conservative Texas Crusade for Freedom.

In 1957, de Mohrenschildt was debriefed by the Central Intelligence Agency after traveling to Yugoslavia to conduct a geological field survey for the U.S. State Department that was sponsored by the International Cooperation Administration. During the trip de Mohrenschildt was accused by Yugoslav authorities of making drawings of military installations and fortifications. Upon returning to the U.S., the CIA debriefed him, both in Washington, D.C., and in Dallas.

De Mohrenschildt, to summarize, was a conservative, refined, accomplished, oil sector-based, White Russian émigré, with at least one U.S. intelligence community interaction. And with whom did de Mohrenschildt strike up a friendship in Dallas? Lee Harvey Oswald. Why would a conservative, business-oriented, sophisticated geologist in Texas’ prime sector -- oil -- one who was active in right-wing political circles, strike up a friendship with a pro-communist, non-middle-class, malcontent outsider earning slightly more than the minimum wage? And this occurred in the heart of the conservative, communist-hating, commerce-oriented hotbed that was Dallas in the early 1960s. De Mohrenschildt’s accomplished and multilayered life is so complex that it will require extensive interviews with key CIA officials who must be deposed, over several months, with sworn testimony provided, under penalty of perjury for false statements, in order for the public to learn more about him.

Accordingly, a special committee comprised of five researchers -- three selected by the U.S. president, one selected by Congress and one selected by the Supreme Court -- should be appointed and empowered to subpoena all records and information on de Mohrenschildt and report its findings within one year of the committee’s first meeting.

CIA Files – Filling In The Information Gaps

The Warren Commission report, due to omission of evidence, among many other mistakes, was a deeply flawed document. The making public of all records relating to the individuals above, David Atlee Phillips, Birch D. O’Neal, E. Howard Hunt, William Harvey and George de Mohrenschildt, will begin the process of filling in the gaps regarding what really happened in Dealey Plaza on Nov. 22, 1963.

It must be underscored that, to date, there is no smoking gun or incontrovertible evidence of a plot/conspiracy to assassinate President Kennedy, but there is a pattern of suspicious activity, along with a series of anomalies and a commonality of interests among key parties, that compel additional research and the release of non-public documents.