Ex-Secret Service agent reveals new JFK assassination detail Six decades later, new details are still coming to light in one of the most scrutinised events in American history: the assassination of President John F Kennedy. Paul Landis, an 88-year-old former Secret Service agent who witnessed the president’s death at close range, says in an upcoming memoir that he took a bullet from the car after Mr Kennedy was shot, and then left it on the former president’s stretcher at the hospital. It might seem like a minute detail in a case that has been pored over since the 1960s, but to individuals who have spent decades looking at every shred of evidence; Mr Landis’s account is a major and unexpected development.
BBC News 13 September 2023

By Jayantha Somasundaram
(Part I of this article appeared on Friday (01 Dec. 2023)

They still call it the years of lightening. The thousand days that President John Kennedy occupied the White House bringing into it the ideals of the New Frontier. But it was also a thousand day running war with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The CIA was the ‘invisible government.’ It had its private armies at Katanga in the Congo as well as in Laos. It had its own airline – it was a state within a state. What was more, the CIA saw no future in toning down the Cold War as President Kennedy proposed. They distrusted the Kennedy brothers whom they saw as ‘doves’ and held them responsible for the ‘loss’ of Cuba.

The CIA viewed with alarm proposals for arms limitation, banning of nuclear weapons tests and the accommodation of liberation movements in South East Asia. In fact President Kennedy had already ordered the US military disengagement from Vietnam and summoned his Ambassador in Saigon Henry Lodge to review progress in Washington on 24th November. The CIA persisted with nuisance raids on Cuba and three weeks before Kennedy’s assassination had against Presidential orders, deposed of South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem in a bloody military coup.

The insubordination of the CIA infuriated and embarrassed the President and his brother Robert Kennedy, the Attorney-General. President Kennedy responded by removing CIA Director Allen Dulles, and two Deputy Directors Richard M. Bissell Jr. and Charles Cabell, were forced to resign. Cabell’s brother, Earle Cabell, was Mayor of Dallas at the time of the Kennedy assassination on 22 November 1963.

Oswald Defects

Lee Harvey Oswald had joined the United States Marine Corp (USMC) in 1956 and had been posted to the Atsugi Base in Japan, the largest CIA base, from which U-2 Reconnaissance planes operated over the Soviet Union and China. Here Oswald studied Russian and professed to be a Marxist. In 1959 Oswald applied for and received a discharge from the USMC, returned home for three days and then set out for the Soviet Union. Of particular interest is the fact that from London to Helsinki he was flown in a private plane. In Moscow he expressed a desire to defect.

At this point the US Naval Attaché in Moscow cabled US Naval Intelligence reporting the defection and identifying Oswald as “a former Marine…” The next forty three spaces are classified as Secret. What else was Oswald besides a Marine?

For some reason the KGB (Soviet intelligence) refused to clear Oswald, and his application for Soviet citizenship turned down. However once he renounced his US citizenship Oswald was classified as ‘stateless’ and shipped to Minsk in Belarus. In 1964 when KGB officer Yuri Nosenko defected to the US, he brought across the KGB’s file on Oswald. It appeared that the KGB suspected Oswald of being a ‘sleeper;’ a spy who after being dormant for years would be activated by the CIA at a future date.

In Minsk Oswald met and married Marina Prusakova who was residing with her uncle Ilya Prusakov; he worked for the MVD the ministry under which the KGB operated.In 1962 the Oswalds decided to return to the US and in record time the ‘defector’ was given both a US Passport and a medical check up by US Air Force Captain Alexis Davison whom Colonel Oleg Pengovskly, a US spy was later to name as his CIA contact in Moscow.

On his way back to the US Oswald’s itinerary contains two mysteries. Although he is supposed to have breached the ‘Iron Curtain’ at Helmstedt in Berlin, his passport carries no record of this crossing. In addition the Oswalds spent two days in Amsterdam, not in a hotel but in an apartment where they could have been debriefed by US Intelligence. Strangely the CIA did not question the ‘defector’ when he arrived in the US; mind you in that era they would regularly quiz tourists for information about Eastern Europe and open mail coming from there. Yet they seemed apparently disinterested in a returning defector.

Once they settled in Dallas-Fort Worth the Oswalds were adopted by the White Russian community – those who had fled the Soviet Union – which was closely linked to the CIA. In fact George De Mohrenschildt who was close to the Oswalds was known to have been in Guatemala City during the Bay of Pigs Invasion (the April 1961 landing of anti-Castro Cuban exiles with US assistance) and submitted a report to the US Government.

Three Oswalds?

In September 1963 Oswald travelled to Mexico City, here he applied for a visa to enter Cuba; there being no Cuban diplomatic mission in the US. By coincidence the person who crossed the US-Mexican border before Oswald was William Gaudet of the CIA.

One of the most perplexing problems that assassination investigators, both official and private came up against, were the hundreds of occasions when Oswald was in two places at the same time! More disquieting are two samples of Oswald’s writing; one written in the Soviet Union displays atrocious spelling and syntax, while another, written after his return, is flawless. Photographs and descriptions of Oswald over these last few years are also confusing.

Undoubtedly there was more than one Oswald. An examination of descriptions and photographs lead to the conclusion that there were three Oswalds. The historical or genuine one, the agent who went to the Soviet Union and the imposter used in the assassination.

While Oswald stayed out of sight in the US, a trained CIA agent used his passport to travel to the Soviet Union – fantastic as this sounds, it is the only alternative to believing that Oswald increased and decreased in height during his time in Minsk! It will also explain why the CIA, which at that time clandestinely photographed everyone entering and exiting the Cuban Embassy in Mexico City did not provide a photograph of Oswald entering this Embassy.

It is now common knowledge that the CIA had worked out blueprints to assassinate not only Fidel Castro but Duvalier in Haiti, Trujilo in the Dominican Republic, Diem in Vietnam, Lumumba in the Congo, Schneider in Chile and Jagan in Guyana. Kennedy who was seeking rapport with Cuba, who was for US withdrawal from Vietnam and who was going to purge and reconstitute the Agency was perhaps the CIA’s most deadly adversary!

The CIA had many allies, many front organisations; it was the intelligence agency par excellence of the twentieth century and successfully enabled the US to emerge as the only super power by century’s end.

During World War II the CIA’s precursor the Office of Strategic Services, began a relationship with Salvatore ‘Lucky’ Luciano, the smartest and most ruthless Mafia leader. The Mafia protected the ports at home and they harassed the enemy in Italy. In return Luciano who was serving a prison sentence was deported to Italy when the War ended. Back home he organised the international heroin ring. But CIA-Mafia co-operation continued; in Marseilles, the entry point for heroin in France, troublesome French dock workers who struck in 1947 had the Mafia turned loose on them. Again in 1950 when the dockers refused to handle arms shipments to Indochina the Mafia went into action.

J. Edgar Hoover had officially proclaimed that the Mafia did not exist. Then in 1963 Joseph Valachi came before the US Senate testifying that the Mafia had infiltrated virtually every facet of American life. The Mafia empire was shown to be enormous; in addition to gambling, narcotics and prostitution they had penetrated legitimate business as well as unions like the Teamsters.

The Mafia

Meyer Lansky was a leader of ‘the Jewish Mob’ and an associate of Lucky Luciano. He is given credit for building up scattered rival gangs into a national crime syndicate by moving into banking, investment and real estate. Jack L. Ruby, born Jacob Leon Rubenstein, was on the streets of Chicago by the time he was eleven years old, running errands for Al Capone. Ruby then became an official in one of Chicago’s mob-run unions and was implicated in the shooting of its ‘clean’ Secretary Leon Cooke. This murder cleared the way for Paul Dorfman to take over the union on behalf of Teamster boss Jimmy Hoffa.

After World War II when the Mafia moved into narcotics and Texas, so did Ruby. He set up a ‘supper club’ in Dallas and in 1959 was recruited as an FBI informer. Lucky Luciano had after the War earmarked Cuba as the hub for the syndicate’s narcotics operations, thanks to the benevolence of its dictator Fulgencio Batista, who was already in league with mobsters like Santo Trafficante and the legendry Meyer Lansky. It was Lansky who provided the finances to fix the 1952 Cuban election in Batista’s favour.

Things changed when Castro came to power in 1959. He earned a million dollar price-tag on his head from the Mafia whom he threw out of Cuba! While US Companies were expropriated to the tune of $272 million, the Mob lost much more. In blind fury they threw everything, money, guns even aircraft behind anti-Castro exiles.

The Kennedys stumbled onto the Mafia connection when Robert discovered in the course of a Senate Rackets Committee investigation in the early fifties that the CIA was giving immunity against prosecution to members of the Mafia. Long before he became Attorney-General Robert Kennedy in Senate investigations had realised the extent of organised crime and its links with organised labour.

So in 1961 as Attorney-General he began the pursuit of these racketeers putting many of them behind bars including Jimmy Hoffa, the Teamsters boss. “If they are crooks,” his policy went, “we don’t wound them, we kill them!” And John Kennedy backed his brother to the hilt. At the time of his assassination the President had ordered a full scale assault on organised crime. And the only way to stop Robert Kennedy was to remove the source of his power-the President!

On November 22 the curtain came down on the New Frontier. The men who had been most terrified by it were now safe. The restrictions on the CIA were now relaxed, they went on to do what they pleased in Indochina and elsewhere. The Mafia, the corrupt union bosses and the international heroin ring were mollified. Robert Kennedy became impotent, his war against them petered out and he finally gave in and resigned in September 1964.

In 1968, Robert Kennedy tried to make a political comeback and ran for the US Presidency. On June 6th at Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles he was assassinated by Jerusalem-born Sirhan Sirhan, a Palestinian Christian; another ‘lone deranged assassin.’


Comments are closed.