In a documentary broadcast in Berlin Friday, German filmmaker Wilfried Huismann added a new
twist to an old controversy.
In Dallas on Nov. 22nd, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was shot by Lee Harvey Oswald, who
himself was killed days later by small time mafioso Jack Ruby.
The following September, a commission chaired by then Chief Justice Earl Warren concluded
Oswald had acted on his own.
This finding was unsatisfying to millions of Americans, who didn't want to believe that so
beloved a president could have his life snuffed out just because, the Warren Commission
surmised, a fruitcake loser wanted some attention. There had to be more significance to the
act. There had to be a deeper, darker conspiracy.
Critics seized on real and imagined shortcomings in the Warren Commission report to find
"evidence" of that conspiracy, and a cottage industry was born. JFK assassination theories
have titillated my generation for decades. Amazon lists 904 books on the subject.
The conspiracy theories have been all over the map. The CIA did it. The military-industrial
complex did it. Lyndon Johnson did it. The Mafia did it. Most are persuasive only to the
tinfoil helmet crowd.
Any new JFK conspiracy theory should be greeted with a healthy dose of skepticism. I mention
Huismann's because it coincides with what I've suspected ever since the CIA's "family jewels"
were exposed in 1975.
During his brief tenure (Feb-July, 1973) as CIA Director, James Schlesinger ordered an internal
report on CIA operations which skirted or broke U.S. law.
A portion of that report, concerning surveillance of thousands of anti-Vietnam War protesters,
was leaked to Seymour Hersh, then of the New York Times, who wrote a story about it on Dec.
22nd, 1974. This led to investigations by the Senate (the Church Committee) and the House (the
Pike Committee), and disclosure of the CIA's frequent, and frequently comic, attempts to
assassinate Fidel Castro.
The assassination attempts were instigated by the brothers Kennedy (Attorney General Bobby was
in charge of the effort) shortly after the failure of the Bay of Pigs invasion in April, 1961.
There were eight plots in all, the last set in motion just days before President Kennedy was
Since most of those the CIA recruited to assassinate Fidel Castro were double agents, he was
well aware of the plots. It was reassuring in a way that the plots were so amateurish, because
contrary to left wing mythology it indicated the CIA didn't have much experience in the
assassination business. But the Kennedys were persistent, and Fidel had to worry that one day
they'd get lucky.
I am persuaded the Warren Commission's conclusion that Oswald acted alone is correct. Gerald
Posner's 1994 book, "Case Closed," is dispositive. But the Warren Commission was unpersuasive
on motive, at least to me.
Two months before he shot the president, Lee Oswald traveled to Mexico City, where he visited
the Cuban embassy. Putting that together with the plots to kill Fidel Castro, I suspected
Fidel had had Kennedy killed before Kennedy could kill him.
This is the thesis of Herr Huismann's documentary. In it several former Cuban intelligence
operatives claim Oswald was recruited to kill the president.
"You ask why we took Oswald?" said Oscar Marino, a former agent for the Cuban service G2.
"Oswald was a dissident. He hated his country. He possessed certain characteristics..."
Mr. Marino acknowledged Oswald was an unstable loser, but said: "There wasn't anyone else. You
take what you can get."
Retired FBI Agent Lawrence Keenan told Huismann he was sent to retrace Oswald's steps in
Mexico, but was recalled after three days on the orders of President Johnson.
But in those three days, he found evidence linking Cuba to the Kennedy assassination, Mr.
President Johnson didn't want a possible Cuban connection made public, for fear it would lead
to war, Mr. Keenan said.
Gen. Alexander Haig, then a military aide in the White House, said LBJ also had a partisan
motive for concealing evidence of a Cuban connection.
"(Johnson) said we simply must not allow the American people to believe that Fidel Castro could
have killed our president," Gen. Haig told Herr Huismann. "The reason was there would be a
right-wing uprising in America that would keep the Democratic party out of power for two