This is a rumination on lies – layer upon layer of lies – told by US intelligence agencies and other officials about what Lee Harvey Oswald, or someone pretending to be him, was allegedly doing in Mexico City just weeks before the Kennedy assassination. The original goal, it seems, was to associate Oswald, in advance of the events of Dealey Plaza, with the USSR and Cuba.
The essay focuses on tales told by Richard Helms, a top official of the CIA in 1963 who later became its director – and is based on a talk given by Peter Dale Scott.
Scott is the popularizer of the expression, “Deep Politics,” and a virtuoso when it comes to what sometimes seems like grabbing smoke – capturing proof, however elusive, of motives and objectives that could explain the machinations of US intelligence agencies – and then analyzing the residue.
Not all of the chicanery Scott describes is subtle. For example, in an apparent attempt to bring the Russians into the picture, someone delivered to the FBI’s Dallas office a purported audiotape of Oswald calling the Soviet embassy in Mexico City. That failed, though, when FBI agents decided that the voice did not seem to be Oswald’s.
Then, two days later, the FBI got on board the subterfuge by falsely reporting that “no tapes were taken to Dallas.” Because of this lie, an investigation more than a decade later by the House Select Committee on Assassinations would erroneously declare that there was no “basis for concluding that there had been an Oswald impostor.” (The existence of an Oswald impersonator in the months before the president’s murder would in and of itself have been prima facie evidence of a conspiracy in Kennedy’s death.)
And then there was the attempt to set up a Soviet agent…
You will probably not be able to keep up with each tall tale, nor does it matter. They have a cumulative effect, one that explains why it is impossible to study these documents without coming away believing in conspiracy.
There is dark humor here – reminiscent of the television sit-com of the 1960’s, “Get Smart” – about a secret agent who was always telling one lie after another, blissfully unaware that each new lie not only undermined the last one, but any new one that came after:
Smart: I happen to know that at this very minute seven Coast Guard cutters are converging on this boat. Would you believe it? Seven.
Mr.Big: I find that pretty hard to believe.
Smart: Would you believe six?
Mr.Big: I don’t think so.
Smart: Would you believe two cops in a rowboat?
Um, would you believe that the US intelligence community has been telling us the truth all of these years?