A memo written by then-FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover shows that he wanted the public to believe the Lee Oswald acted alone in killing John Fitzgerald Kennedy. The memo was among the thousands of files released President Donald Trump that deal with investigation into the 1963 assassination of the president. While there were some files that Trump ordered withheld on the basis of national security concerns, there are among them two documents that raise serious questions about Hoover and the agency he directed. 

Memos sent to and from Hoover on November 24, 1963, puts the integrity of the FBI and the whole investigation into doubt. The memos were sent on the day that night-club owner Jack Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald to death while the gunman was being taken by deputies to the Dallas County Jail after the assassination of the president. In his memo, Hoover seemed to be concerned that the American public should be led to believe that Oswald was a lone wolf rather than a member of a wider conspiracy.

In his memo, Hoover wrote, "There is nothing further on the Oswald case except that he is dead." Hoover remained firm in the 1964 Warren Report on the assassination that he had not seen "any scintilla of evidence" suggesting there had been a conspiracy to kill Kennedy. In his earlier memo, however, he wrote in much blunter terms. In reference to erstwhile U.S. Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach, Hoover said in a dictated memo: 

"The thing I am concerned about, and so is Mr. Katzenbach, is having something issued so we can convince the public that Oswald is the real assassin."

The memo does not clarify whether Hoover, who had directed the FBI since its inception in the 1930s, had an inkling of a conspiracy but did not want that knowledge made public or whether he actually believed Oswald was a sole actor and hoped to prevent an outbreak of public confusion and outrage. There is an indication that Hoover was concerned over the international ramifications should a conspiracy come to light. Katzenbach shared the same concern, as revealed in a memo that was released earlier by the government.

Katzenbach wrote a memo dated Nov. 25, 1963, saying that:

"...the public must be satisfied that Oswald was the assassin; that he did not have confederates who are still at large; and that evidence was such that he would have been convicted at trial."

Hoover’s memo expressed frustration over Oswald’s shooting death, noting that police in Houston had been warned about a plot against the gunman’s life. Hoover wrote: “Oswald having been killed today after our warnings to the Dallas Police Department was inexcusable." Hoover dictated, "It will allow, I am afraid, a lot of civil rights people to raise a lot of hell because he was handcuffed and had no weapon. There are bound to be some elements of our society who will holler their heads off that his civil rights were violated — which they were."

In an even more startling revelation, an ominous memo directed back to Hoover confirmed that “no effort should be made to defend alleged assassin Lee H. Oswald or ‘scream frame-up.’"

While Hoover wrote that he was concerned that there were "several aspects" of the shooting "which would complicate our foreign relations, his memo revealed that FBI knew of Oswald’s activities long before the assassination. Hoover dictated on November 24, 1963:

"For instance, Oswald made a phone call to the Cuban Embassy in Mexico City which we intercepted. It was only about a visa, however. He also wrote a letter to the Soviet Embassy here in Washington, which we intercepted, read, and resealed. This letter referred to the fact taht the FBI had questioned his activities on the Fair Play to Cuba Committee and also asked about the extension of his wife's visa. That letter from Oswald was addressed to the man in the Soviet Embassy who is in charge of assassinations and similar activities on the part of the Soviet government. To have that drawn into a public hearing woudl muddy the waters internationally. To use all that would reveal our failure to carry out international court laws. And since this has nothing to do with proof that Oswald committed the murder, I made the suggestion to Mr. Katzenbach that instead of a Presidential Commission, we do it with a Justice Department report based on an FBI report."

Meanwhile, Julian Assange of Wikileaks has offered a $100,000 reward for any evidence of wrongdoing.




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Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat and the editor of Spero News.

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