In its nearly two-hour documentary on the Kennedy assassination, “Who Was Lee Harvey Oswald?,” public television actually interviewed three former Soviet KGB officers who acknowledged contact with the assassin Oswald. But these communist intelligence operatives insisted they did not encourage Oswald’s plot to kill the American president.
Russian President Vladmir Putin, a former KGB officer, must have been pleased with their performance.
In this case, the taxpayer-supported Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and its Frontline series failed to provide the “definitive investigation of the mysterious life and character of Lee Harvey Oswald.”
It may have been a mystery at one time, but not 50 years later.
The fingerprints of the Soviet intelligence service and its Cuban affiliate are all over Oswald.
One of the main controversies covered superficially in the program was Oswald’s trip to Mexico City—a favorite place for foreign communist governments to contact communist agents living in the U.S.
PBS claimed that Oswald visited the Soviet and Cuban embassies looking for a visa, but was rebuffed by communist officials. It said, “…in the end both the Russians and the Cubans rejected him. All his plans to fight for Castro and return to Russia had come to nothing. He had nowhere to go but back to America.”
Needless to say, taking the KGB’s word on such a grave matter is not responsible journalism. In fact, it is downright laughable.
One of the KGB officers interviewed by PBS was Valery Kostikov, an espionage agent connected to political assassinations. He was used to make the point that the CIA had misled American investigators about Oswald’s alleged meeting at the Soviet embassy.
Fifty years after the fact, our media are still covering up the conspiracy to kill Kennedy based in Moscow and Havana. Kennedy was an enemy because he was a dedicated anti-communist who wanted to overthrow Cuban dictator Fidel Castro and stop communism’s advance in the Western hemisphere.
For some strange reason, PBS decided to take the word of former officers of the KGB.
A better source would have been Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa’s book, Programmed to Kill: Moscow’s Responsibility for Lee Harvey Oswald’s Assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy. It examines in detail the KGB’s disinformation Operation Dragon to “throw the blame on various elements in the United States for killing their own president.”
Over the years the Soviets have successfully confused many people about their role, blaming the CIA, the Mafia, the right-wing, Texas oil men, or Lyndon Johnson.
One of the lies was that Oswald went to the Soviet embassy in Mexico City to get a Russian visa so that he could then travel to Cuba. In fact, Pacepa says, Oswald met with Kostikov outside the embassy, in order to discuss Kennedy’s murder.
The PBS program documented many of Oswald's communist connections, including his membership in the pro-Castro Fair Play for Cuba Committee, and his defection to Soviet Russia and return to the U.S. However, it whitewashed the nature of his ongoing relationship with the Soviet KGB.
In an interview with Accuracy in Media, Pacepa, the highest ranking defector ever from the Soviet-bloc, discussed media coverage of the anniversary of the Kennedy assassination, including a controversial CNN column by University of Virginia political scientist Larry J. Sabato casting aspersions on the conduct of the CIA and FBI.
Pacepa told Accuracy in Media, “Larry Sabato does not know anything about this crime of the century, which sent the whole country into profound shock, but he accuses various American authorities of lying about it without having any evidence they really lied. Thousands of other people without any sort of expertise joined this party of lying, each viewing events from his own narrow perspective, and each accusing the U.S. government of deceiving its people.”
Sabato wondered what Oswald was doing in Mexico City just before the assassination. He wrote, “It would also be useful to know what really happened when Oswald visited the Cuban and Soviet embassies in Mexico City just two months before the assassination.”
PBS tried to explain these meetings through interviews with former Cuban and Soviet officials. They insisted Oswald merely wanted to discuss a trip to Cuba.
PBS claimed Oswald was told by Cuban officials that “he could only enter Cuba on a temporary visa and only if he was in transit to Russia” and so he “walked the short distance to the Soviet diplomatic compound.”
The program added, “At the Soviet embassy, he [Oswald] met with three consular officials. In fact, all three were KGB officers working under diplomatic cover. In this, their first interview, they recall that Oswald’s hands were shaking and his behavior was erratic.”
“Oswald was told it would take several months to get a Soviet visa, but without one, he would be unable to go to Cuba. Oswald took the news badly,” PBS reported.
Oleg M. Nechiporenko was also featured in the PBS program as another KGB official who wanted nothing to do with Oswald. He wrote the book, Passport to Assassination: the Never-Before-Told Story of Lee Harvey Oswald by the KGB Colonel Who Knew Him, another element of Operation Dragon.
PBS said, “As he left the embassy, Oswald should have been observed by CIA operatives. From houses across the street, the CIA was maintaining non-stop photo surveillance on the Russians and Cubans. Yet the CIA claimed it failed to take one single photograph of Oswald.”
This may be because Oswald did not meet the KGB at the embassy. Pacepa says the Soviets promoted the report that Oswald went to the Soviet embassy in Mexico City to cover his “iron meeting” outside the embassy with Kostikov.
Pacepa explains, “Documents obtained by the Warren Commission prove that during that trip to Mexico City Oswald met a Soviet diplomat, but the meeting was secret, outside of the Embassy. The problem is that, in order to understand those documents, one should be familiar with the KGB super-secret technique of the ‘iron meeting,’ a standard intelligence procedure for emergency situations, with ‘iron’ meaning ironclad or invariable.”
That “diplomat” was in fact Kostikov, an officer of the KGB’s department for assassinations abroad, who was assigned under diplomatic cover to the Soviet embassy in Mexico City.
Pacepa says the facts about the meeting were found in various effects left behind in the garage of Ruth Paine, an American at whose house Oswald spent a critical weekend. A photocopy of a letter Oswald sent to the Soviet embassy was recovered by the Warren Commission and referred to “Comrade Kostin.”
Pacepa comments, “The fact that Oswald used an operational codename for Kostikov confirms that both his meeting with Kostikov in Mexico City and his correspondence with the Soviet Embassy in Washington were conducted in a KGB operational context. The fact that Oswald did not use his real name to obtain his Mexican travel permit confirms this conclusion.”
Pacepa notes that a Mexico City guide book and a Spanish-English dictionary were found among Oswald’s effects after the assassination. The guide book included the Soviet embassy’s telephone number underlined in pencil, the names “Kosten” and “Osvald” noted in Cyrillic on the page listing “Diplomats in Mexico,” and check marks next to five movie theaters on the previous page. Oswald wrote on the back of his Spanish-English dictionary, “buy tickets for bull fight,” and the Plaza México bullring is encircled on his Mexico City map. Also marked on Oswald’s map is the Palace of Fine Arts, a favorite place for tourists to assemble on Sunday mornings to watch the Ballet Folklórico.
Pacepa told AIM these facts strongly suggest that Oswald resorted to an unscheduled or “iron meeting” for an urgent talk with Kostikov in Mexico City. Summarizing the evidence of the meeting, he says a brief encounter was held at a movie house to arrange a meeting for the following day at the bullfights, a brief encounter took place in front of the Palace of Fine Arts to pass Kostikov one of the bullfight tickets Oswald had bought, and a long meeting was held at the Sunday bullfight.
“We cannot be sure that everything happened exactly that way—every case officer has his own quirks,” Pacepa says. “But it is clear that Kostikov and Oswald did secretly meet over that weekend of September 28-29, 1963. The letter to the Soviet embassy that Oswald worked so hard on irrefutably proves that.”
This is not to say that the U.S. Government did not engage in a cover-up. Pacepa says the purpose of the Warren Commission, named after its chairman, Chief Justice Earl Warren, was not to investigate the assassination, but rather to invoke the integrity and long experience of its distinguished members in issuing a report designed to calm the populace and dispel all rumors of “foreign complications” stemming from Oswald’s known connections with the Soviet Union and Cuba.
This was confirmed by former FBI agent Herman Bly, who reviewed CIA files on the assassination, including evidence of Oswald’s meeting with Kostikov, and wrote, “…I believe the heads of the FBI, CIA, and President Johnson wanted the Oswald case brought to a conclusion as fast as possible as they did not want another crisis with the Soviet Union so soon after the Cuban missile crisis.”
“Sadly,” Pacepa says, “we are now commemorating 50 years since the killing of a widely admired American president. Let’s hope that all those who are still trying to make a name for themselves by building fantasies around this national drama will stop. It is time for the truth, not for more fantasy books.”
Former ABC newsman Sam Donaldson, appearing on ABC’s “This Week” in 2009, said about the murder of JFK: “In his dying breath I’d like to be at [Castro’s] bedside and say, did you do it? Meaning November 22, 1963.” After some co-panelists expressed surprise at this statement, Donaldson responded, “Wait a moment. I think it is still open.”
Actually, the case is closed. The communists killed Kennedy. But because of the media’s love affair with Castro, as I point out in this column, liberal reporters can’t bring themselves to admit the truth. It is a triumph of bias over facts and evidence that leaves many people still in the dark about the murder of an American president.
Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism, and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.