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Author Topic: The Chapter Titled "Sinister Implications" from Mark Riebling's Book "Wedge"  (Read 900 times)

Online Thomas Graves

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Edit:  Fully re-formatted now.  See below.

--  MWT   ;)
« Last Edit: September 11, 2019, 06:49:11 AM by Thomas Graves »

Offline Michael Clark

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https://jfkfacts.org/was-yuri-nosenko-a-kgb-mole/#more-29709

Was Yuri Nosenko a KGB mole?
jeffmorley
A readeader asks:

Do you still believe Nosenko was a true defector, Jeff?

Have you read Tennent H. Bagley’s “Spy Wars,” or even his 35-page PDF “Ghosts of the Spy Wars”?

Yes, I did read Bagley’s Spy Wars. I also interviewed him. And yes, I do believe Nosenko was a true defector.

I think Bagley was wrong, for two reasons: lack of a plausible suspect and lack of damage to CIA operations.

Remember Angleton’s theory that Nosenko was a dispatched defector is inextricably bound up in the theory that Nosenko was dispatched to protect a mole already working inside the CIA as of January 1964.  So the  reader’s question is really two, was Nosenko a mole? And, if so, who was he protecting?

As I asked in THE GHOST

if there was a mole burrowed into the CIA in the 1950s and 1960s, as the Angletonians claimed, who the devil was it? And what damage did he do?

James Angleton
James Angleton oversaw the surveillance of Oswald
Those who argue that Nosenko was a controlled defector need to answer these two questions. I was especially convinced by George Kisevalter, the most experienced CIA officer handling Russian defector. Kisevalter always vouched for Nosenko’s bonafides.

From THE GHOST

“Kisevalter’s opinion was not idiosyncratic. In 1997, he received the agency’s Trailblazer Award recognizing him as one of fifty top CIA officers in its first fifty years, an honor Angleton did not receive. There was never any doubt in Kisevalter’s mind about the bona fides of Yuri Nosenko. Three subsequent reviews by senior CIA officers reached the same conclusion. So did Cleveland Cram, the former London station chief who wrote the definitive study of Angleton’s operations.. So did Benjamin Fischer, a career officer who became the agency’s chief historian.

“The Great Mole Hunt or Great Mole Scare of the late 1960s turned the CIA inside out ruining careers and reputations in search for Soviet penetrations that may or may not have existed,” Fischer wrote.

The dissenters from the institutional consensus about the Mole Hunt were mostly officers who had served Angleton on the Counterintelligence Staff. The Angletonians, as they called themselves, were a dogged bunch. Bill Hood and Pete Bagley asserted that the clandestine service was never penetrated during Angleton’s watch–which is true. They also claimed that the CIA’s operations against the Soviet Union were not unduly harmed by the Mole Hunt–which is not.

Yuri Nosenko and wife
Exonerated mole suspect Yuri Nosenko and wife.
Angleton and his acolytes would speak many words in his defense and write more than a few books. They cited scores of statements by Yuri Nosenko that they said were not credible or misleading, and indeed, Nosenko had exaggerated and embellished as defectors often do.  But if there was a mole burrowed into the CIA in the 1950s and 1960s, as the Angletonians claimed, who the devil was it? And what damage did he do?

The CIA has learned from hard experience what happened when the Soviets succeeded their operations: agents were arrested and executed. But even after the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the opening of significant portions of KGB archives, the Angletonians could not identify any operations compromised by the putative mole [allegedly protected by Nosenko]. They could not even offer up the name of a single plausible candidate. After the passage of five decades, the likeliest explanation is that there wasn’t a mole.”

Online Thomas Graves

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https://jfkfacts.org/was-yuri-nosenko-a-kgb-mole/#more-29709

Was Yuri Nosenko a KGB mole?
jeffmorley
A readeader asks:

Do you still believe Nosenko was a true defector, Jeff?

Have you read Tennent H. Bagley’s “Spy Wars,” or even his 35-page PDF “Ghosts of the Spy Wars”?

Yes, I did read Bagley’s Spy Wars. I also interviewed him. And yes, I do believe Nosenko was a true defector.

I think Bagley was wrong, for two reasons: lack of a plausible suspect and lack of damage to CIA operations.

Remember Angleton’s theory that Nosenko was a dispatched defector is inextricably bound up in the theory that Nosenko was dispatched to protect a mole already working inside the CIA as of January 1964.  So the  reader’s question is really two, was Nosenko a mole? And, if so, who was he protecting?

As I asked in THE GHOST

if there was a mole burrowed into the CIA in the 1950s and 1960s, as the Angletonians claimed, who the devil was it? And what damage did he do?

James Angleton
James Angleton oversaw the surveillance of Oswald
Those who argue that Nosenko was a controlled defector need to answer these two questions. I was especially convinced by George Kisevalter, the most experienced CIA officer handling Russian defector. Kisevalter always vouched for Nosenko’s bonafides.

From THE GHOST

“Kisevalter’s opinion was not idiosyncratic. In 1997, he received the agency’s Trailblazer Award recognizing him as one of fifty top CIA officers in its first fifty years, an honor Angleton did not receive. There was never any doubt in Kisevalter’s mind about the bona fides of Yuri Nosenko. Three subsequent reviews by senior CIA officers reached the same conclusion. So did Cleveland Cram, the former London station chief who wrote the definitive study of Angleton’s operations.. So did Benjamin Fischer, a career officer who became the agency’s chief historian.

“The Great Mole Hunt or Great Mole Scare of the late 1960s turned the CIA inside out ruining careers and reputations in search for Soviet penetrations that may or may not have existed,” Fischer wrote.

The dissenters from the institutional consensus about the Mole Hunt were mostly officers who had served Angleton on the Counterintelligence Staff. The Angletonians, as they called themselves, were a dogged bunch. Bill Hood and Pete Bagley asserted that the clandestine service was never penetrated during Angleton’s watch–which is true. They also claimed that the CIA’s operations against the Soviet Union were not unduly harmed by the Mole Hunt–which is not.

Yuri Nosenko and wife
Exonerated mole suspect Yuri Nosenko and wife.
Angleton and his acolytes would speak many words in his defense and write more than a few books. They cited scores of statements by Yuri Nosenko that they said were not credible or misleading, and indeed, Nosenko had exaggerated and embellished as defectors often do.  But if there was a mole burrowed into the CIA in the 1950s and 1960s, as the Angletonians claimed, who the devil was it? And what damage did he do?

The CIA has learned from hard experience what happened when the Soviets succeeded their operations: agents were arrested and executed. But even after the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the opening of significant portions of KGB archives, the Angletonians could not identify any operations compromised by the putative mole [allegedly protected by Nosenko]. They could not even offer up the name of a single plausible candidate. After the passage of five decades, the likeliest explanation is that there wasn’t a mole.”

Michael,

Are you a "speed reader"?

Have you already read all of Riebling's "Sinister Implications" chapter, above?

Care to comment intelligently on it in your own words?

I rather doubt it.

Jefferson Morley?

LOL

He's very smart like you, Michael, but unfortunately both of you are ignorant, gullible, and "brainwashed" (or worse) when it comes to the overarching Nosenko-versus-Golitsyn issue.

Have you read my one-star Amazon review of Jefferson "Intellectually Dishonest" Morley's book The Ghost, yet?

(You'll find it there under my username "dumptrumputin")

Just how Intellectually dishonest is he?

Answer:  He won't even let me rebut his lame answer (which you posted, above) to my question (which you posted, above) on his lame website.

Cheers!

--  MWT  ;)

« Last Edit: September 10, 2019, 02:32:30 AM by Thomas Graves »


Online Thomas Graves

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. . .




Wow, another steamin' dump in the middle of the living room by Michael Clark!

Michael seems to be fixated on the gumshoe dude in CIA's Office of Security who was totally bamboozled by two KGB triple-agents (Aleksey Kulak and Igor Kochnov) and one false defector (Yuri Nosenko), lost a true defector ("Shadrin") to KGB kidnappers in Vienna, and who coached false-defector Yuri Nosenko through his final polygraph exams.

A regular "piece of work" was Bruce L. Solie.

-- MWT  ;)
« Last Edit: September 11, 2019, 06:52:17 AM by Thomas Graves »

Online Thomas Graves

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[Note: In this chapter, Riebling mentions the forty-four drawn-up-by-CIA questions J. Edgar Hoover refused to ask Yuri Nosenko about Lee Harvey Oswald and Marina Prusakova.]


CHAPTER TEN

SINISTER IMPLICATIONS

From Mark Riebling's 1994 book, Wedge: The Secret War Between the FBI and CIA  https://archive.org/details/WedgeFromPearlHarborTo911HowTheSecretWarBetweenTheFBIAndCIAHasEndangeredNationalSecurity


A chill mist came off Lake Geneva on the evening of January 23, 1964, nine weeks after the assassination of President Kennedy. A CIA officer hung back in the shadows across from Cinema ABC at 42 Rue Rhone, watching people buy tickets in the strong pool of light under the marquee for Dr. Strangelove. An electrified trolley rattled past, blocking his view for a moment, but then he saw his man. Casually and at the same moment, they walked toward each other. Amidst the jostle of entering and exiting patrons, a matchbook changed hands invisibly.

The KGB man was a full block away before he opened it and read the ballpoint: “20 Chemin Frangois Lemann.” After an hour of taxis and buses for counter-surveillance, he met the CIA man at the safehouse.

They drank. The KGB officer got drunk. He offered “to come over.”

An escape was plotted. On February 4, the KGB agent failed to turn up for lunch with the rest of the Soviet delegation in the dining room of the Palais des Nations. Most of the Soviets were flying that night to Moscow, so no one had noticed when he removed his things from the hotel on Avenue Wendt. By noon he was in the back seat of a sedan with tinted glass and diplomatic plates, disguised as a U.S. Army officer, smoking American cigarettes, wending through the Alps toward Germany.

The KGB defector’s debriefing would soon assume an awesome significance, for he was America’s only source of information on Lee Harvey Oswald’s “lost years” in the USSR. Both FBI and CIA agreed that this man could answer the riddle of a possible Soviet role in President Kennedy’s death. The fight would come over whether he spoke the truth.

From its inception, the official U.S. government investigation into JFK ’s death put politics, or policy, at a premium to fact. Obvious delinquencies and cover-ups would later lead conspiracy theorists to suspect government complicity in the assassination. In fact, what was covered up was indications of a communist role. On November 23, Helms’ assistant, Thomas Karamessines, was put in a state of near-panic upon hearing that Mexican authorities were about to arrest and interrogate Silvia Duran, a Cuban consular official who had met with Oswald and, it later developed, had sex with him several times during his visit. As Karamessines later said, “CIA feared that the Cubans were responsible for the assassination, and that Duran might reveal this during an interrogation.” That, in turn, might lead to an international crisis that could literally mean the end of the world. Faced with the absolute ultimate in “situation ethics,” Karamessines sent a flash cable to Mexico Station: “Arrest of Silvia Duran is extremely serious matter.... Request you insure that her arrest is kept absolutely secret, that no information from her is published or leaked, that all such info is cabled to us.” When U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Thomas Mann questioned Duran’s insistence that her only contact with Oswald had been to process his visa request, Helms cabled Mexico Station chief David Atlee Phillips, warning that the ambassador must not go public with his fears. “There is distinct feeling here,” Helms wrote, “that Ambassador is pushing this case too hard ... and that we could well create flap with Cubans which could have serious repercussions.”

The FBI, too, acted to obscure any possible communist connection. Within hours of the president’s death, two key Kostikov-related documents — the October 18 cable from CIA, stating that Kostikov had met with Oswald, and a Hunter (mail-opening) report, indicating that Oswald had mentioned Kostikov in a November 9 note to the Soviet Embassy — were removed from the Dallas office by order of Assistant Director William C. Sullivan. When special agent James Hosty was called to testify before the Warren Commission in 1964, he found that FBI files which he had intended to cite about the Kostikov connection were missing. Without those documents, he could not testify about their contents. When he returned from the hearings, the Kostikov documents had mysteriously appeared back in his file with a note attached: “Removed from Hosty’s inbox on November 22.” The withholding of that Kostikov information from the public had been ordered, Clarence Kelley later concluded after viewing the FBI assassination files, “because the White House seemingly considered the risk of a confrontation with the Soviet Union over the Kennedy assassination was too great.”

It was just such a desire to avoid world war, in fact, that led to creation of the Warren Commission. After John McCone briefed Robert Kennedy and new president Lyndon Johnson about CIA’s anti-Castro plots on November 24, both RFK and Johnson were haunted by suspicions that the president had been killed in retaliation for attempts on Castro’s life. The next day, worried that evidence of Soviet-Cuban complicity “could lead us into a war that could cost forty million lives,” Johnson directed that “speculation about Oswald’s motivation should be cut off, and we should have some basis for rebutting the thought that this was a Communist conspiracy.” Thus arose, on November 29, an official commission of inquiry under Chief Justice Earl Warren. “The President told me how serious the situation was,” Warren recalled. “He said there had been wild rumors, and that there was the international situation to think of. . . . If the public became aroused against Castro and Khrushchev there might be war.” Commission members were soon confronted by the same conspiracy conundrum: “If we find out it was the Russians,” one commission lawyer wondered aloud during a staff meeting, “will it mean World War III?”

Even if Warren’s commission had wanted to find a communist role, however, staff lawyers quickly realized that the FBI, which would end up doing most of the legwork, was unlikely to provide them with evidence that would lead down that avenue. The Bureau had already come under fire for failing to protect JFK. If it were to be shown that Hoover had failed to detect and thwart a foreign conspiracy, the FBI director might well lose his job. Commission members knew that Hoover would do whatever it took to shield the FBI from criticism; early on, the staff learned that the FBI had hidden the fact that agent James Hosty’s name was in Oswald’s address book (Marina had written it there after Hosty visited her house, a few weeks before the assassination, to ask about Oswald).

Hoover’s duplicity on that matter, and more sociological factors, soon led to a subtle bias at the commission toward the Agency and against the Bureau. Commission lawyers admired their sophisticated CIA contacts, many from the same Ivy League schools they had attended. FBI men, by contrast, seemed plodding. CIA analysts did not dissuade commission members of that opinion. They, too, felt that the FBI had been derelict in its handling of Oswald.

The Bureau, for its part, was not entirely happy with the cooperation it was getting from CIA. After November 23, when the Agency told the FBI that Kostikov was “an identified KGB officer” associated with the group “responsible for sabotage and assassination,” the Agency was under great pressure to explain why it hadn’t earlier warned the FBI that Oswald might be dangerous. “We do not participate in the actual work of protecting the president or planning his trips within the U.S.A.,” one CIA report stated weakly, by way of rationalization.

FBI investigators could also have stood to know about the Castro schemes, and CIA officers fretted that the Bureau might make a connection between the Mafia plots and Kennedy’s death. Sheffield Edwards met Johnny Rosselli after the Kennedy assassination, perhaps to discuss Rosselli’ s belief that Castro had “doubled” Trafficante’s hit squad and turned it back against the president — but Edwards worried that the FBI was tailing them and spying on the meetings. Perhaps it was just such FBI surveillance that led Papich to query CIA in January 1964 whether they were plotting to kill the Cuban leader. The official answer, as Papich recorded in a memo, was that “The Agency currently is not involved in any activity which includes plans to assassinate Castro.” That information was passed to the two FBI section chiefs working the JFK assassination, and to the Bureau supervisors responsible for anti-Castro activities, who got the misleading impression that CIA had never conspired to kill Castro. Papich, being a good soldier, revealed nothing of his knowledge of the earlier CIA plots, which he (and those few others at the FBI who knew about them) believed had only reached the “discussion stage.” The Bureau’s expert on Cuban matters was never informed of the CIA-Mafia schemes, or of Castro’s September 7 retaliation threat — which seemed to the FBI expert, when he learned of it years later, a pointed signal.”

The Bureau’s bitterness only deepened, moreover, as it shared post assassination leads with CIA, but felt it got little in return. For instance, on November 23, according to Bureau documents, the FBI briefed a “Mr. George Bush of the Central Intelligence Agency” on matters relating to the assassination. Although he denied it, there would later be speculation that “George Bush” was the future president, who was at the time managing a Texas-based offshore-oil firm. That position might have put him in contact with (note: probable KGB "illegal," according to CIA's Clare Edward Petty) George DeMohrenschildt, a Texas-based petroleum engineer who specialized in scouting offshore sites. DeMohrenschildt, a Russian emigre investigated by the FBI for alleged communist affiliations, had been Oswald’s closest Dallas contact before the assassination.

But even as the FBI shared its information with CIA’s George Bush, whoever he was, yet another Agency failure to warn the FBI of imminent danger was about to obstruct permanently any probe into a possible conspiracy. Within twenty- four hours of the president’s death, CIA analysts prepared a memorandum covering the facts they knew at the time. As James Johnston, staff lawyer for a later congressional re-investigation of the Dallas tragedy, described the memo’s contents: “They [CIA] knew that Oswald had once defected to the Soviet Union. They knew that he made a trip to Mexico City two months before the assassination and talked to Soviet Vice Consul Kostikov about a visa. And they believed that Kostikov was a KGB assassination and sabotage expert. From this, their memorandum argued, there was reason enough to believe that Oswald was part of a foreign plot. If this were true, CIA analysts predicted, then Oswald himself might be killed before he could talk.” The gist of the memorandum, according to Johnston, was to be passed through CIA liaison to the FBI — with the warning that Oswald could be in danger.

"Unfortunately, relations between the two agencies were strained, and liaison was awkward,” Johnston later lamented. Oswald, while in police custody, was killed by Dallas nightclub owner Jack Ruby on November 24, before the FBI received the message.

On November 26, 1963, perhaps out of anger over CIA’s failure to warn the FBI about Oswald’s safety, President Johnson gave the FBI the lead responsibility for investigating JFK’s death. By some accounts, the Agency initially welcomed playing second fiddle, because it wanted its own efforts to be as independent as possible. But within a day of Johnson’s decision, the FBI’s expanded duties seemed to be having just the reverse effect. CIA’s Mexico City station refused to cooperate with a Bureau team that tried to wrest away its list of informants, and on November 27 FBI legat Clark Anderson cabled headquarters to complain that, according to the CIA people in Mexico City, only the Agency had "jurisdiction in getting investigative results abroad.” An FBI supervisor was sent down from Washington to try to clear up the dispute. CIA Station Chief David Phillips reluctantly agreed to let the Bureau run the show. But it was not long before a special Warren Commission delegation had to travel to Mexico to handle problems of coordination, especially in the area of possible Cuban involvement.

One difficulty was that the FBI, being a domestic law-enforcement agency, did not have enough foreign contacts to conduct a meaningful investigation. For instance, after a Mexican woman and her daughter claimed to have seen Oswald with two other gringos at a party at the Cuban Embassy, the FBI interviewed her twice but, having no way to confirm or deny the story, simply left it alone. Nor did the Bureau conduct any follow-up investigation to determine the identity of a “mystery passenger” who had reportedly departed Mexico City for Havana aboard a Cubana Airlines jet on November 22. The FBI similarly failed to follow up on information received by CIA headquarters from its Mexico Station on December 3, 1963, about the suspicious activities of Gilberto Lopez, a Cuban- American who left the U.S. for Cuba the day after the assassination. Lopez’s itinerary was confirmed by several sources, including one who reported hearing, according to a March 20, 1964, memo to the director of CIA from Mexico Station, “that Gilberto Lopez, U.S. citizen, was involved in President Kennedy’s assassination.” The Lopez case was passed to the FBI, but, as a later CIA memo tersely recorded, “FBI furnished no further info on subject.” Grilled years later by a Senate committee, the FBI agents handling the Oswald investigation could not account for their failure to pursue the Lopez lead.

Liaison did improve after Angleton’s Cl Staff took over CIA’s assassination probe in early 1964. The move was ordered by Helms, he later said, because the Cl Staff “had through the years the responsibility for carrying on liaison with the FBI, [and] was in a better position and used to dealing with the Bureau.” That was only the official reason for the shift, however. Unofficially, Helms wanted to remove the Agency’s Soviet Division, which Angleton believed was penetrated by the KGB, from any direct role in investigating possible KGB complicity in the president’s death.

In most areas, Angleton had little difficulty coordinating with the Bureau. Shortly after assuming control of CIA’s inquiry, for example, he contacted FBI Assistant Director William Sullivan and said, “It would be well for both McCone and Hoover to be aware that the Commission might ask the same questions wondering whether they would get different replies from the heads of the two agencies.” The Cl chief therefore suggested that the heads of the two organizations rehearse their answers so as not to tell conflicting stories. Examples of possible questions and how they should be answered: “(1) Q. Was Oswald ever an agent of the CIA? A. No. (2) Q. Does the CIA have any credible evidence showing that a conspiracy existed to assassinate President Kennedy? A. No.”

Despite Angleton’s good relations with Sullivan and Papich, however, there was an inability to reconcile the larger, institutional difference in mind-sets. Told by Angleton staffer Birch O’Neal on November 27 that Kostikov’s KGB role was known “on the basis of an analysis,” Papich pressed: “Do you have anything more specific which would pinpoint him as being a member of that department?” O’Neal admitted the case was wholly deductive, but agreed to prepare a statement for Hoover, laying out the case. “Keep it right down, very brief and very simple,” Papich reminded him. O’Neal conferred with a CIA colleague, probably someone in Raymond Rocca’s Cl-research section, who indicated his “firm
belief’ that Kostikov was a KGB assassinations specialist and agreed to outline CIA analysis of the point. But it was to be four years before the FBI finally accepted, on the basis of other, non-analytical CIA reporting, that Kostikov was a KGB assassinations man. That suspension of belief allowed the Bureau considerably more freedom to assure a suspicious public that Oswald had been a lone loony.

That conclusion, reached officially by the FBI on December 9, 1963, had in fact colored the Bureau’s investigation from the start. As Mexico City legat Anderson later said, he proceeded at all times under the “impression,” conveyed to him by Bureau headquarters, that Oswald was the sole assassin and not part of any conspiracy. He therefore “tried to stress,” to the skeptical ambassador and to his CIA contacts, “that every bit of information that we had developed in Washington, at Dallas, and elsewhere, indicated that this was a lone job.” That conclusion was bolstered around the turn of the year, when the Bureau sent Jack and Morris Childs, two FBI moles working in the American Communist Party as part of an operation code-named Solo, to visit the Cuban Embassy. The Childses reported that Oswald had indeed discussed assassination with the Cubans, but that the offer had been turned down.

This report matched most FBI agents’ intuitions. Neither the KGB nor its Cuban offshoot, the highly professional DGI, would have hired an unstable loser like Oswald, the Bureau’s reasoning ran. Nor would Castro or Khrushchev have risked U.S. discovery and retaliation — such as an invasion of Cuba, or even world war — merely to replace a liberal like Kennedy with the more conservative Lyndon Johnson. Nor would speculation about a communist role serve either the country or the Bureau well. Therefore William Sullivan leaked, on what he later said were Hoover’s orders, the news that “An exhaustive FBI report now nearly ready for the White House will indicate that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone and unaided assassin of President Kennedy.”

That story, which ran nationally on December 13, caused a direct clash between Hoover and McCone. After the Bureau’s ability to conduct an “exhaustive” inquiry in three weeks was questioned by columnist Drew Pearson, Hoover suspected that McCone was leaking anti-Bureau information. According to a heavily redacted December 1963 FBI memo, “Relations with the CIA,” which later turned up in the FBI’s file on Pearson, Hoover was upset because “Information developed by Mr. DeLoach has indicated that John McCone, Director, CIA, has attacked the Bureau in a vicious and underhanded manner characterized with sheer dishonesty.” There should be a “firm and forthright confrontation” with the CIA director, the FBI memo urged, to discourage any such future “attack against the Bureau.” Hoover jotted “OK.”

Papich went to McCone and told him, diplomatically but directly, of the FBI director’s concerns. On December 16, McCone telephoned Hoover to appease him.

“I know the importance the President places on this investigation you are making,” McCone said. “He asked me personally whether CIA was giving you full support. I
said we were, but I just wanted to be sure that you felt so.”

Hoover was soothed when McCone agreed the main responsibility for the investigation fell on the Bureau. If the Bureau said there was no foreign plot, CIA would play along — especially since that was the answer the White House wanted publicized.

While the public record was being censored, however, Angleton was considering more carefully, and secretly, the specter of a possible KGB plot. After an all-nighter at FBI headquarters, Papich had driven to Langley and was in Angleton’ s office by 10:30 a.m. on the day after the assassination, where the Cl chief apprised him of certain “sinister implications.” Angleton was bothered by Golitsyn’s ominous 1961 warning about the KGB’s plotting to kill a “Western political leader,” by the mystery of Oswald’s travels in the USSR, and by other unresolved questions. CIA had heard, for instance, that Kostikov had planned in advance to leave Mexico on November 22, and that a Cubana Airlines flight to Havana was delayed for six hours on the tarmac in Mexico City on the night of the assassination, awaiting an unidentified passenger. The man had finally arrived at the airport in a twin-engine aircraft, then failed to go through Customs, where he would have needed to identify himself by displaying a passport. The Cubana plane took off and the mysterious passenger rode in the cockpit to Havana, precluding any identification by the passengers. Mexican surveillance soon established that Kostikov had remained in Mexico City, but Angleton still wondered who the passenger had been, why he flew to Cuba on the day the president died, and why he had taken such pains to conceal his identity.

Similar questions swirled around Gilberto Policarpo Lopez, the Cuban- American who, by some reports to CIA, had been involved in Kennedy’s death, and whose actions the FBI inexplicably failed to probe. Lopez had lived in Tampa, which was Santos Trafficante’s base of operations, and he had visited Cuba for several weeks during May 1962, precisely when Trafficante had claimed to be sending his agents into Cuba to poison Castro. Lopez was active in the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, whose leaflets Oswald had distributed, and his wife and others characterized Lopez as pro-Castro. It was also known that Lopez had a brother in the Cuban military who was studying in the Soviet Union. On November 17, 1963, the day President Kennedy’s Dallas limousine route was announced, Lopez was at a get-together of the Tampa Chapter of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, where color slides of Cuba were shown. CIA knew from several informants that Lopez had been at the residence for some time waiting for an important telephone call — the “go ahead order” for him to leave the United States. Lopez obtained a Mexican tourist card at the Honorary Consulate of Mexico in Tampa on November 20. Then he had departed for Texas. What he did there was not known. At twelve noon on the day after the assassination, according to a CIA source, “Lopez entered Mexico on foot from Laredo, Texas ... and proceeded by bus to Mexico [City,] where he entered Cuban Embassy. On 27 Nov he left Embassy for Cuba on Cubana flight 465 and was the only passenger allowed on the plane.” Thereafter, Lopez was reportedly not working in Cuba but spent most of his time playing dominoes — strange and luxurious treatment, indeed, for a purported
dissident who had once defected to Cuba’s main enemy.

Also pointing to a possible Cuban role were CIA phone taps on November 26. On that morning, Cuban figurehead President Osvaldo Dorticos, in Havana, telephoned his ambassador in Mexico City, Joaquin Hernandez Armas, to inquire whether Silvia Duran, the Cuban Embassy employee who had spent time with Oswald during his visit, had been asked anything about “money” by the Mexican authorities. Armas said she had not been, but in closing the phone call, the CIA report said, “Dorticos again asked if Duran had been questioned about ‘money.’ Hernandez said no.” Nonetheless, Mann, the U.S. ambassador, told Washington he believed “that Dorticos’ preoccupation with the money angle of interrogation of Silvia Duran” corroborated “the strong possibility that a down payment was made to Oswald in the Cuban Embassy here, presumably with promise of a subsequent payment after assassination,” and that the purpose of Oswald’s journey to Mexico had been to receive that payment and to “set up get away route.” Although CIA intercepted another phone call between Dorticos and Hernandez Armas the following day, in which the Cuban president said his question about money referred to anothermatter, Angleton wondered whether the Cubans hadn’t perhaps discovered — from a penetration of CIA? — that the previous day’s conversation was tapped, and had staged a corrective or clarifying call especially for CIA’s hearing.

In any case, Angleton believed that Oswald’s trip to Mexico City would certainly have been orthodox behavior if he were affiliated with some foreign intelligence service, such as the Soviet KGB or Cuban DGI. Agents periodically left their home countries to meet their handlers in safehouses, and Oswald’s six days in Mexico City got him out of the FBI’s reach. Other mysterious aspects of Oswald’s odd character, which the FBI and the Warren Commission casually dismissed, seemed perfectly explicable to Angleton as espionage
“tradecraft.” Oswald used aliases and postoffice boxes, and lived apart from his family. His possessions had been found to include a book which had certain letters cut out, giving the impression that this might have formed the base or key for a cipher system. It was also noted that letters from Oswald to his mother regarding his desire to return to the United States seemed dictated, since they contained none of his usual grammatical errors, and used legal language with which he could not have been familiar. He was in communication with foreign-linked organizations such as the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, which agents often used to relay innocent- sounding messages. After the assassination, he fled to a movie theater, prompting KGB defector Pyotr Deriabin to observe in a memo to CIA: “Certainly, we know the KGB’s penchant for using theaters for meeting places.” The Russian emigre DeMohrenschildt had found him a job briefly in 1962 at Jaggars Stonewall, a Dallas firm which prepared U.S. intelligence maps based on U-2 photographs; co-workers said he had indicated a detailed knowledge of microdots. Also suspicious was Oswald’s counterfeiting of identity documents. The counterfeits were inferior by CIA standards, but how and why had Oswald learned to make them?

One possibility, taken seriously by Angleton and many others at CIA, was that Oswald had learned his tradecraft in Russia. A CIA report of the period asserted flatly that both Oswald and his Soviet-born wife, Marina, had been recruited by the KGB, and noted that Oswald, while living in the Soviet Union, had obtained a hunting license but never went hunting. “This would have been a good method for the KGB to meet and train him,” the report said. CIA analysts speculated that the Soviets were running a terrorist training camp in Minsk, where Oswald had lived, and considered whether he might not have been “programmed” or brainwashed by Soviet mind-control specialists using LSD. Other questions hung unanswered: Why had Oswald maintained contact with the Soviet Embassy in Washington? What was the purpose of his contacts with Kostikov? Had he made other contacts with Kostikov, which CIA didn’t know about? Oswald had refused a lie-detector examination on those matters. That he was murdered before he could be interrogated in detail, as CIA analysts had warned, only fueled suspicion.

But what would the Soviets possibly gain from Kennedy’s death that would be worth the risk of U.S. retaliation? From a pragmatic Western perspective, there seemed little profit indeed, but Angleton thought about the problem with more subtlety. First of all, the nuclear age precluded any massive U.S. retaliation — as Johnson’s craven cover-ups of all possible communist connections were already demonstrating. Second, if the Soviets had truly penetrated the Soviet Division at CIA, as Angleton believed, the KGB might even have hoped to steer U.S. investigation of the crime. As for the Soviet motive: Out was Kennedy, a charismatic leader who could “sell” a conscious anticommunism in the Third World and even to Western liberals. In was Johnson, who would only “heighten the contradictions” between East and West and therefore hasten (by Leninist dialectical reasoning) the ultimate collapse of late capitalism.

Angleton also took seriously the observations marshaled in a November 27 memo by defector Deriabin, who cited the Kennedy administration’s opposition to long-term credits to the Soviets, which he said were vital to survival of the USSR. Johnson, by contrast, came from an agricultural state and had always supported grain sales to Russia. Moreover, Western pressure on the USSR “would automatically ease up” if the KGB murdered the president. As evidence, Deriabin noted a “conciliatory telegram” by a frightened and disoriented Lyndon Johnson to Khrushchev. A more amenable America would “strengthen Khrushchev’s hand” at a time when the Soviet leader was under intensifying internal pressures because of mismanagement of the 1963 harvest and disputes with China. Kennedy’s death, as Deriabin put it, thus “effectively diverts the Soviets’ attention from their
internal problems. It directly affects Khrushchev’s longevity.” Finally, Deriabin ventured that “the death of President Kennedy, whether a planned operation or not, will serve the most obvious purpose of providing proof of the power and omniscience of the KGB.” Much later, Angleton would obliquely compare the Soviets’ probable motivation to a famous scene in Mario Puzo’s novel The Godfather, in which a Mafia chieftain puts a horse’s head into the bed of a stubborn film producer, in order to demonstrate “pure power.”

Although Angleton’s critics would later excoriate him for entertaining what seemed paranoid theories, it was his job as Cl chief to consider every possibility. “In my conversations with Jim, he never excluded that maybe we were missing something on Soviet involvement,” Papich recalled. “He and I had a lot of discussions on that. As far as we knew, Oswald acted alone. But Jim felt that we couldn’t be sure until we had the full story on Oswald’s possible links to the KGB. That meant getting the full story on his stay in Russia.”

It also meant a fight with the FBI over whether that story could be believed, once it was obtained from a new Soviet defector — a man who said he could resolve, fully and finally, all questions about whether Oswald had been acting as a KGB agent when he killed President Kennedy.

On February 4, 1964, Yuri Nosenko was met at Geneva’s ABC Cinema by Pete Bagley, the CIA officer who had debriefed him two years earlier. Bagley still believed that Nosenko was a provocateur, sent in part to discredit Golitsyn. But, with Angleton’s blessing, Bagley was to continue playing along, to see what the Soviets’ game might be. Trouble began, though, as they sat down in the safehouse.

“I’m not going home,” Nosenko said.

Bagley was stunned. In 1962, Nosenko had made a big point of saying he would never defect, because he loved his family and country too much.

“Why do you want to defect?” Bagley asked. “Didn’t you tell us you never would?”

The Soviet could offer only a vague answer. “Well, I think the KGB may suspect me. I have decided to make a new life.”

“How about your family?”

Nosenko changed the subject to Lee Harvey Oswald. He could speak definitively about his government’s relations with the alleged assassin, Nosenko said, because he had personally overseen Oswald’s KGB file. Nosenko, according to a Top Secret CIA summary, that “the KGB was frightened of Oswald” and would “absolutely not” have attempted to recruit him. “The thrust of [Nosenko ’s] account was that neither Oswald nor his wife had at any time been of any interest whatsoever to Soviet authorities, that there had not ever been thought given to recruiting either of them as agents and that, in fact, the Soviets were glad to get rid of them both.”

Bagley helped Nosenko escape from Geneva, and rode with him through Switzerland to Germany. But the defector had not gone beyond a U.S. Army base in Frankfurt before Bagley’ s boss, Soviet Division chief David Murphy, expressed renewed certainty that Nosenko was “a plant.” Bagley agreed, and together they told Angleton their doubts about Nosenko ’s Oswald story. Although they could not irrefutably disprove it, because it did not contradict any data in CIA files, Nosenko’s mere ability to tell the tale rested on a tripod of incredibles. Of the thousands of KGB officers throughout the world, CIA had secret relations with only one, after Golitsyn, yet he just happened to have participated directly in the Oswald case — not only once, but on three separate occasions: (1) when Oswald came to Russia in 1959; (2) when Oswald applied for a visa to return to Russia in 1963; and (3) when the Kremlin leadership caused a definitive review of the whole KGB file on Oswald after the assassination. That Nosenko was thus in a perfect position to testify to KGB innocence in JFK’s death seemed to Bagley a result of such neatly aligned coincidence that one had to suspect deliberate planning.

Nor did Bagley or Murphy believe Nosenko ’s claim that the KGB would not have at least talked to Oswald. The KGB, as a matter of procedure, didn’t ignore foreigners, period, and certainly not a U.S. Marine like Oswald, who had worked at an operational base for CIA’s U-2 spyplanes in Atsugi, Japan. Deriabin told Murphy that the KGB “would be like a pool of piranhas [on such] an American swimming into their sea.”

But why would Nosenko, or the KGB, lie about Oswald’s Soviet links? Was it because they had conspired to kill the president? If so, and if the KGB had indeed dispatched Nosenko to cover up the plot, how could they have tailored his Oswald story so neatly as to contradict nothing in CIA files? Was it because they had a secret helper inside CIA?

To Bagley, the implications were ugly. There were going to be doors he didn’t want to open, corridors he wouldn’t want to look down. But the case was there; it would not go away. The burden had fallen on him, and he would do his duty.


“Do we know anything about this?” Hoover scribbled on a news clipping which intimated that a new KGB defector, Yuri Nosenko, might have information aboutOswald. It was February 11, 1964, and that very day Nosenko had arrived in the U.S. by Air Force jet and been spirited to a CIA safehouse in Virginia. Reading in a news clipping that “The defection to the United States of Yuri Nossenko [sic], Soviet secret police officer, is definitely a victory for our Central Intelligence Agency ... It’s good to see the CIA win one,” Hoover underlined “CIA,” almost as if to complain: It should have been the FBI. “We are closely following CIA in its efforts to resolve the bona fides of subject’s defection,” a deputy assured Hoover, but CIA wasn’t giving over much. Hoover scrawled boldly at the bottom of one memo: “Keep after it."

On February 13, the Agency provided a brief update on Nosenko ’s background and KGB career, but by month’s end the Bureau had received nothing on what Nosenko might know about the president’s apparent assassin. The FBI director therefore ordered his underlings: “We must press CIA to make Nosenko completely available to us.”

CIA acceded. A team of FBI debriefers went to see Nosenko at a CIA safehouse on February 26 and again on March 3 and 4. Alekso Poptanich, Maurice Taylor, and Donald E. Walter, all of the Washington Field Office, questioned Nosenko for about two hours, mostly in English, employing Russian only when Nosenko became confused. “Source was at
ease and very cooperative during this session,” the FBI director was informed in a Top Secret airtel. The FBI men liked Nosenko and instinctively trusted him. Whereas the earlier KGB defector Golitsyn (note: who had incurred Hoover's wrath by saying the NYC and Washington D.C. FBI offices had been penetrated by the KGB) had been a “son of a bitch” to the FBI, Nosenko was warm and friendly. Although they had denied Golitsyn access to any files, the FBI now shared Warren Commission documents with Nosenko. And although the Bureau had been offered custody of the defector, according to Bagley, “for as long as they wanted,” the interrogators decided after only six hours with him that they had got the whole story on Oswald. “I accepted it at face value,” Poptanich later said of Nosenko’s information. “We had no reason not to believe [Nosenko]. You have to start with the basic premise that you accept the information, and then you go out and verify it or disprove it, and that is what we did with almost all the information we got from Nosenko.” Since none of it could be disproved, Poptanich reasoned, it all must be true.

The FBI’s final determination on that matter, however, would rest with headquarters, where the “Nosenko ticket” was held by Larry McWilliams. Mac didn’t really have a problem with Nosenko’s statement that the KGB was essentially uninterested in an American defector who, as it turned out, could have given them information pertaining to his work as a U-2 radar operator. The way he saw it, the Soviets had a good intelligence network, and all Oswald’s information was dated, useless except for propaganda purposes. If Oswald was unstable and they couldn’t control him, it made sense that they probably would never touch him. What was more, Mac learned that (note: triple-agent) Fedora, the Bureau’s KGB mole in New York, had confirmed Nosenko’s rank and importance within the KGB, and had said that his defection caused a major crisis in Soviet intelligence. Fedora even confirmed Nosenko’s allegation that he had received a telegram recalling him to the USSR on February 4, which had caused CIA to accept his defection without further delay. Nosenko’s authenticity was seemingly confirmed, too, when he provided information about a Soviet scheme to filch secret documents from the U.S. Armed Forces Courier
Center at Orly Airport, Paris. FBI suspicion focused on Robert Lee Johnson, an Army sergeant at Orly, who confessed to doing just what Nosenko said he had done. Johnson was convicted of espionage and sentenced to twenty- five years. Mac thought it inconceivable that the Soviets would sacrifice such a valuable agent just to establish Nosenko’s bona fides.

But the basic reason for judging Nosenko to be truthful about Oswald was that his story accorded with what the Bureau already believed about the assassination. “The FBI does not perceive any significant evidence of foreign involvement in the assassination of President Kennedy,” a Bureau memo concluded, based on Mac’s analysis, “nor does the FBI perceive any credible evidence that Nosenko’s defection was a Soviet ploy to mask Soviet governmental involvement in the assassination. Therefore, the FBI is satisfied that Nosenko reported the facts about Oswald as he knew them [emphasis added].”

When informed of this assessment, CIA officers felt that the Bureau’s line of logic was exactly backward. Only if it was first determined that Nosenko reported facts as he knew them could the U.S. be sure that there was no “significant evidence of foreign involvement in the assassination of President Kennedy,” and that Nosenko’s defection was not “a Soviet ploy.”

The ensuing interagency dispute over Nosenko’s bona fides crystallized twenty years of difference over CIA philosophy. Angleton’s pattern-recognition method, which found in the study of poetry a relevance to the detecting of strategic deceptions, was set squarely against Hoover’s criminal-evidenciary approach. “It wasn’t just tension,” McWilliams later said. “It was a raging dispute. Some of the conferences that we had — I mean, they were damn near knock-down drag-out. We — Don Moore, Bill Branigan, and I — we would sit down around a table with people from the Agency and disagree like hell.”

The CIA contingent consisted of Angleton and some people from his shop, along with the two top men in the Soviet Division, Bagley and Murphy, who took the lead in arguing against Nosenko. Murphy’s involvement did not help CIA’s case, for he was not especially beloved by the Bureau. “I don’t know if I ever trusted Murphy,” McWilliams said. “I just had a feeling.”

Murphy began his assault on the FBI’s position by noting that most of Nosenko’s information was “cold.” The Orly courier- vault operation, for instance, had been shut down by the Soviets a year before Nosenko’s tip, because Sergeant Johnson had lost his access to the vault and was being publicly exposed by a neurotic wife.

The G-men countered with a roster of American citizens identified by Nosenko as subjects of KGB interest, and a number of Soviet diplomats named by him as KGB officers. Under no circumstances, the FBI agents- argued, would the Soviets “blow” such sensitive information merely to establish a disinformation agent’s bona fides.

Bagley responded by alleging that Nosenko had lied to the FBI. As proof he cited Nosenko’s claim that, after judging Oswald to be “abnormal,” he (Nosenko) had instructed a fellow KGB man in the Tourist Department, one “Krupnov,” to advise Oswald to leave the USSR at the expiration of his visa. CIA already knew, from information provided by Golitsyn, that Krupnov was not in the KGB’s Tourist Department at this time. Nosenko himself had admitted this to CIA, but could not account for the error. He had also conceded, in the time since he had talked to the FBI, that he had lied about receiving a telegram recalling him to Moscow on February 4. He said he made up the story so that CIA would take him. He even admitted lying about his rank. He was not Lieutenant Colonel Nosenko, merely a captain.

The FBI men were unmoved by those revelations. Mac later opined: “Bagley was a bright guy who thought wrong. They didn’t have enough common sense over at CIA, they didn’t understand enough about the evaluation of a human being, like we had gathered through years of working with criminals. Any first-year FBI man finds out, when he cops a guy and he’s trying to build himself up, he’s going to lie like hell, with a lot of truth. And it’s an FBI agent’s responsibility to gradually find out the truth from the lie. CIA didn’t understand that.”

When McWilliams expressed himself to that effect, in much politer terms, Angleton stared him down from across the table. Maybe lying was natural, the Cl chief said, but there was something decidedly artificial about the way a certain FBI source — the great Fedora — had confirmed Nosenko ’s false rank, his bogus recall telegram, even his incorrect story about Krupnov. “There was a concern that Fedora corroborated information from Nosenko that later proved to be false, and that this might somehow taint the value of Fedora, too,” Angleton’s deputy Scott Miler recalled. “That was our position. The FBI disagreed. They said, ‘No,’ except for Papich and a few people, like Sullivan, who agreed that it was goddamned suspicious. They never really addressed the issue of the telegram that Fedora had reported on. They just kind of walked away from that.”

Instead, the Bureau tried to knock out the prop on which CIA’s suspicions of Nosenko and Fedora ultimately rested — viz., Anatoliy Golitsyn. True, FBI agents argued, Nosenko had provided much information that overlapped Golitsyn’s. But maybe this just meant that they had access to the same information in Moscow.

“The KGB is more compartmentalized than that,” Murphy argued.

“How do we know that?” Mac asked.

“Golitsyn told us,” Murphy said.

They were back again to the source of the problem. “CIA never seemed to comprehend that Golitsyn wasn’t a walking genius,” Mac recalled. “This overall buying of Golitsyn perverted their entire thinking, and did cause trouble on whether we should accept or reject Nosenko.”

The conferences resolved nothing. But CIA didn’t give up.

“All this stuff would come over on Nosenko, ‘proving’ he was a fake — at that time, we wouldn’t even reply to it,” Mac said. “None of that goddamned stuff that they sent over convinced us that he wasn’t real. The FBI never bought Nosenko being a plant, never bought it from the word go. We just didn’t accept it.”

The crisis deepened as Bagley pressured the Bureau to reinterview Nosenko about Oswald. He griped to Papich that the two FBI reports he had read left “many important questions unanswered,” and inspired “no confidence in the FBI's ability to cover the Soviet phase.” He asked his Soviet Russia staff to prepare forty-four additional questions for the Gen (sic) to put to the defector. How had the KGB evaluated Oswald’s “operational potential”? Was his hotel room bugged? If so, was it a routine bug, or was it installed especially for Oswald? What “take” was there, if any? Was Oswald physically surveilled? His mail monitored? Precisely when and by whom was it decided that the KGB had no interest in the former spyplane-radar operator? Who, exactly, found Oswald bleeding in his hotel room after his apparent suicide attempt? To what hospital was Oswald taken? Why was the U.S. Embassy not informed?

Bagley also desired to know more about Marina Oswald. How did Lee Harvey meet his wife? What were the KGB sources on her? How was it that she was “stupid and not educated” and at the same time a graduate pharmacist? How could Nosenko explain the fact that Marina claimed not to know who her father was and bore her mother’s surname, thus indicating that she was born out of wedlock, yet also had the patronymic“Nikolayevna” (“Nikolai’s daughter”), indicating that her
father was known? On what grounds did the KGB consider Marina “anti-Soviet” at the time she wished to leave the USSR with Oswald — and why did these factors not prevent her from being promoted in her job after her marriage? How did it happen that there were so few difficulties in the way of Marina’s marriage to a foreigner and departure from the country with him, when similar situations in the past usually resulted in prolonged and often unsuccessful negotiations with the Soviet government?

“We passed [those forty-four questions] to the Cl Staff, which was our channel and liaison to the Bureau,” Bagley related. “The questions were hand carried over to the FBI for the approval Hoover required. There was a big back and forth about whether they would or wouldn’t service these questions in their dealings with Nosenko.” On March 6, Angleton told Bagley that his questions “would not be asked.”


Bagley was furious. He called up Papich and complained that it would not be possible to complete his job in the Oswald case if he could not get the pertinent information.

Papich calmly replied that in Director Hoover’s view, assessing Oswald’s stay in Russia was not CIA’s “job” to complete, but the FBI’s.

Bagley tried a different tack. If Hoover would not allow the FBI to re-interrogate Nosenko on Oswald, could CIA at least provide some questions for the Bureau to put to Marina? CIA had no access to the woman, and had never interrogated her about her husband and compared it with what Nosenko was giving them. Papich agreed to review CIA questions for Marina, but reminded Bagley not to include any hint that FBI would report back to the Agency. So Bagley passed along questions for Marina, as suggestions, hoping that the FBI might relay the answers back to CIA.

The answers never came. Years later, Bagley was still bitter, because “none of our questions were, I gather, ever serviced by the Bureau.” Of course, CIA could have put its Oswald questions to Nosenko directly; he was, after all, in CIA custody. But custody did not amount to jurisdiction. CIA technically could not bring Nosenko’s Oswald information to bear on the assassination inquiry. That was the FBI’s turf, and what CIA wanted more than anything was for the G-men to develop their own reasons for doubting the defector.“I think we were constrained, that the Bureau felt very strongly it was their responsibility,” Bagley explained. “Believe me, we were extremely conscious of this, and if my memory is right, I believe we were enjoined at the time not to question him.”

Some CIA officers began to wonder whether there might be more to Hoover’s territorialism than the usual jurisdictional jealousy. Perhaps the FBI had been biased
on the Nosenko question by Hoover’s need to protect the Bureau from censure for failing to prevent a possible foreign plot. “Any bureaucracy has vested interests, and acceptance of Nosenko ’s information tended to excuse the FBI for its failure to have Oswald under surveillance,” Angleton’s man Miler believed. “It was in the best interests of the FBI to accept Nosenko’ s story.”

When Angleton himself candidly conveyed such doubts to Papich, during late-night sessions in the greenhouse, the FBI man begged to differ. If Hoover had in any way felt that the Soviets or Cubans were involved, he wasn’t going to leave himself vulnerable by not pursuing those angles. Besides, the boss wasn’t out in the field chasing down those leads himself, but merely reading what was coming to him from the fellows in the field and at the desks. They did present to him that there was no evidence of foreign involvement, and he bought that view. Nor was he familiar enough with the Nosenko case to have forced through his own views on it. He had followed it in the beginning, but recently he had inked documents with comments like, “How long have we had the Nosenko case? Memo should indicate just who Nosenko is.”

On March 6, however, Hoover was familiar enough with Nosenko ’s information to unilaterally pass it to the Warren Commission. “In the event you desire to have Nosenko appear,” he coaxed, “it is suggested that you try to make arrangements with the Central Intelligence Agency, which Agency has custody of Nosenko.” This unsolicited offer caused considerable excitement at the commission. That same day, Warren staffer Lee J. Rankin wrote Helms to say that, because of “a report from the Federal Bureau of Investigation ... it appears to us that Nosenko ’s defection, whether or not it is authentic, is of very great interest.” Commission staffers wanted to discuss the matter with Helms as soon as possible.

Helms came to see them in Rankin’s office at Justice on March 12. He brought along Angleton’s research chief, Ray Rocca, as well as Dave Murphy, whose Soviet Bloc Division had formal charge of Nosenko. Helms tried to explain that, though the FBI might be in a position to report Nosenko ’s information to the commission, only CIA was in a position to judge whether Nosenko, and his information, were bona fide. At the moment, CIA had serious reservations about his authenticity, but Helms recommended that the commission “await further developments.”

The commission did not want to wait. They were quite worried, in fact, that the President’s assassin might have had intelligence connections, and began to complain about “the inability of any of the governmental agencies to fill in the very large gaps still existing in Lee Harvey Oswald’s visit to Mexico.” Rocca’ s explanation for the Agency’s performance was that CIA’s contribution was limited to “the FBI’s investigation on this point.” For the same reason, CIA was “limited in its possibility of assisting” any assessment of “information from an unspecified source that [Jack] Ruby was in Havana in 1963 under a Czech passport.”

Rankin frowned. Did that mean that the FBI and CIA were failing to cooperate?

Helms replied that there were always “understandable human problems in conducting any liaison on any subject,” but that “by and large the procedures for dealing with other agencies” were “effective.”

On that, the meeting ended, but by June 24, commission members were pressing McCone for a “final answer” on whether Nosenko’s Oswald story should be believed. This request tripped wires at Langley.

“Director McCone asked me to go down and see Chief Justice Warren and explain that CIA and FBI disagreed about Nosenko,” Helms recalled. “We met privately in a room in Commission Headquarters and I gave the reasons why we couldn’t establish Nosenko’s bona fides.” Helms, duly respectful in the presence of the chief justice, spoke softly but to the point. Some of Nosenko’s information, he said, contradicted what CIA had from other sources. Nosenko alleged, for instance, that there were no Soviet regulations which would have prevented Oswald from traveling from Minsk to Moscow without first obtaining permission to do so. But both CIA and the State Department knew that such regulations existed. CIA was not even able to satisfy itself that Nosenko had ever supervised Oswald’s file, and there were many inconsistencies in his story, which, even if it had been consistent, would have made no sense to CIA. Helms was sorry, but “whatever the FBI” had told the Warren Commission about Nosenko’s Oswald information, Justice Warren should consider the fact that CIA could not vouch for Nosenko’s claim that Oswald had “no KGB contacts.” Therefore, such information should not become part of the Warren Commission record.

The chief justice nodded in seeming assent, but his commission could not decide whether to side with CIA or FBI until July 24, when a full complement of its members, including former DCI Dulles, heard a CIA delegation frame the problem in truly chilling terms. “Nosenko is a KGB plant,” Bagley pronounced, while Helms and Murphy looked on, “and may be publicly exposed as such some time after the appearance of the Commission’s report. Once Nosenko is exposed as a plant, there will arise the danger that his information will be mirror-read by the press and public, leading to conclusions that the USSR did direct the assassination.”

That was enough to settle the question. The commission had been founded for no other reason than to avert rumors which might cost “forty million lives,” and that afternoon decided it would be “undesirable to include any Nosenko information” in its report. The defector’s FBI debriefings would remain classified in commission files.

Hoover was not happy about that. “When the Warren people sided with us, it cut across Mr. Hoover’s assertion that the Russians had had nothing to do with the assassination,” Helms said. “So there was some irritation in the Bureau about it.”

Through CIA had “won,” for the moment, on Nosenko, there remained the problem of what to do with him. While Nosenko was on a vacation in Hawaii with CIA officers, Helms pondered the options. If the Soviet Division was indeed penetrated by the KGB, it would be important to isolate Nosenko physically from that division, to keep the Soviets from getting feedback on his interrogation, as well as to keep him from updating his story (as, Angleton later related, he already seemed to have some means of doing). It would also be necessary to keep Nosenko away from alcohol, since he had a habit of getting in bar fights, and from reporters, who were pressing for details about defector who had only weeks earlier been in the headlines. Too, the agents of KGB Department 13 might try to kill Nosenko, even if he was a plant, since that might serve to establish his authenticity in CIA’s minds. Some form of incarceration was therefore going to be required, at least for a time.

Helms consulted the Soviet Division and the Cl Staff about what form the incarceration should take. Bagley and Murphy argued that conditions should be “Spartan” and should coincide with “hostile interrogation.” Nosenko was bogus, but they needed to confront him, and “break” him on collateral information. Angleton objected. He wanted to “play” Nosenko like a prize trout, and thought that the key to elicitation was to keep the subject feeling secure. Helms opted for the Soviet Division’s hostile approach, since it promised a quicker answer to what could be an embarrassing problem for the Agency. The Justice Department approved Nosenko ’s being jailed on CIA property, and Nosenko returned from Hawaiian fun and sun to be “fluttered” by a CIA polygrapher. Questions were yelled at him, and he failed the exam. He was installed in a small cell, where two
debriefers played bad-cop, worse-cop. They caught him in a flat lie when he denied knowledge of an operation involving an American, of which CIA had a record — and which Nosenko had claimed to know about in a 1962 interview taped by Bagley. (note: If Riebling's talking about the "Penkovsky's Puskin Street Deaddrop Affair," he's got it slightly mixed up, but the fact does remain that in 1964 Bagley caught Nosenko in a 1962 lie.)

“The transcript must be wrong,” Nosenko said.

His questioners brought in a tape recorder.

“You don’t remember this operation? Here is your
voice.”

Nosenko heard himself giving details of the operation.

“I was drunk,” Nosenko said. But this failed to explain how he could have spoken correctly about an operation while drunk yet known nothing about it while sober.

Nosenko was next shown a travel warrant he had given Bagley in Geneva, back in 1962, as proof of his KGB identity. It was made out to “Lieutenant Colonel” Yuri Nosenko. But Nosenko had already admitted to lying about his rank; he was merely a captain. Why, then, had the KGB made out a travel warrant with this false information?

Nosenko admitted that he “looked bad,” even to himself, but as spring warmed to summer, Nosenko stuck to his story, contributing nothing new except to complain about the heat in the attic. A blower was installed to keep the air moving, and as it became evident that the defector was not going to crack anytime soon, CIA would have to find more suitable quarters for a longer-term incarceration. It was therefore decided to intern Nosenko in a small cell at CIA’s training facility at Camp Peary, Virginia, in the same malarial lowland between the James and York rivers where America’s first English settlers had failed to survive in 1607. Nosenko ’s new home was twelve by twelve feet, windowless, with one naked sixty-watt bulb above a narrow steel bed. The walls, floor, and ceiling were formed of steel-reinforced concrete, to prevent tunneling. The toilet flushed, but it was right there in the open. There was an adjoining interrogation room, and out back an exercise yard, surrounded by a chain-link fence topped with barbed wire. Helms came out to see the place, which he judged to be satisfactory.

Nosenko was put in. He was under twenty-four-hour visual surveillance through the door. His diet was kept bland, and he could not brush his teeth. He was allowed no reading material, and his guards were provided with earphones so that he could not overhear their TV. To pass the time, Nosenko tried to make a tiny chess set from blanket threads, but each time it was noticed and taken away. He began talking to himself, and sometimes, lying on his bed at night, he would toss aside his blankets and shout about things flickering against the ceiling. At other times, he would just sit along the bed’s edge, clasping the yellow soles of his feet in the palms of his hands, screaming: “Let me talk to the FBI!”


CHAPTER ELEVEN

MOLEHUNT  ...


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