According to a declassified CIA report, former agency director John McCone covered up information about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy Jr.
The report, written by CIA historian David Robarge that was declassified in the fall of 2014, states that McCone, who was in charge of the CIA at the time of Kennedy’s assassination, covered up important evidence to keep the Warren Commission focused on “what the Agency believed at the time was the ‘best truth’ — that Lee Harvey Oswald, for as yet undetermined motives, had acted alone in killing John Kennedy,” Politico reports.
An important piece of information McCone withheld from the commission was the existence of multiple CIA plots, while possibly working with the Mafia, to assassinate then-Cuban leader Fidel Castro. If the information had been made available to the commission, they could have questioned whether Oswald had ties to Cuba and if the assassination was retaliation for the Castro plots.
The report does not question the findings of the Warren Commission, including Oswald’s guilt, but it does stand as an acknowledgment that the CIA did not release all known information to the commission, and therefore acted dishonestly, even though Robarge calls the cover-up “benign.”
McCone testified before Chief Justice Earl Warren and the rest of the commission. His testimony was considered vital for the investigation into Kennedy’s death, Fox News reports.
Robarge’s report found McCone agreed with the commission — that Oswald was the “lone gunman” and acted alone. It is for this reason that McCone directed the agency to provide only “passive, reactive and selective” assistance to the commission.
The CIA told Politico it declassified the report “to highlight misconceptions about the CIA’s connection to JFK’s assassination,” including the conspiracy theory that the CIA was behind it.
The report also hints that President Lyndon B. Johnson, who took office following Kennedy’s assassination, may have told McCone to keep the information hidden.
McCone “shared the administration’s interest in avoiding disclosures about covert actions that would circumstantially implicate [the] CIA in conspiracy theories and possibly lead to calls for a tough US response against the perpetrators of the assassination,” the article reads. “If the commission did not know to ask about covert operations about Cuba, he was not going to give them any suggestions about where to look.”
The report also included other information McCone did not reveal to the commission, including the CIA having been in communication with Oswald before the assassination in 1963, and the secret monitoring of his mail after he tried to defect to the Soviet Union in 1959.
Ever since the Warren Commission released its findings, people have doubted them, with many believing Oswald did not act alone and that the commission was covering up information.
McCone’s decision to not disclose all known information does not help the matter.
“The decision of McCone and Agency leaders in 1964 not to disclose information about CIA’s anti-Castro schemes might have done more to undermine the credibility of the commission than anything else that happened while it was conducting its investigation,” the report reads. “In that sense — and in that sense alone — McCone may be regarded as a ‘co-conspirator’ in the JFK assassination 'cover-up.’”
The entire report may be read here: The George Washington University’s National Security Archive.