Lee Harvey Oswald may have been part of a conspiracy, according to investigative reporter Philip Shenon, whose book "A Cruel and Shocking Act: The Secret History of the Kennedy Assassination,"
has just been issued in paperback.
In an excerpt from the newly published edition that is running in Politico
, Shenon, a former New York Times correspondent, reports that Warren Commission staffer David Slawson, now an 83-year-old retired law school professor, has come to believe that he and the investigation were victims of a "massive cover-up."
The Warren Commission was charged by President Lyndon B. Johnson with investigating the Nov. 22, 1963, assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas. The commission issued its 888-page final report in September 1964,
which determined that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in shooting the president.
Slawson's mandate had been to determine if the assassination involved a foreign conspiracy.
"I was convinced — then — that we had it right," Slawson told Shenon. That Oswald was a "true lone wolf" and that there was no conspiracy. "I now know that Oswald was almost certainly not a lone wolf," he said.
He still does not buy into any of the popular conspiracy theories. He has no doubt that Oswald was the lone shooter.
Based on documents that Shenon unearthed and showed to Slawson, the ex-staffer does now think that the CIA knew at the time of Oswald's meetings with pro-Castro diplomats and activists in Mexico City.
The agency would have been aware that the Cubans egged on Oswald when he explicitly told them: "I'm going to kill Kennedy."
The CIA never told the Warren Commission that the Cubans technically knew of Oswald's intentions before he pulled the trigger. It did not reveal that it "had Oswald under far more aggressive surveillance in Mexico than it admitted to the commission," according to Shenon.
This information was kept from the commission by the CIA and by Robert F. Kennedy "because they feared that the investigation might stumble onto the fact that JFK's administration had been trying, for years, sometimes with the help of the Mafia, to assassinate Castro," Shenon wrote.
Robert Kennedy, then attorney general, was in charge of the secret war against Castro. He prevailed upon Chief Justice Earl Warren, chairman of the commission, to make certain that Oswald's time in Mexico — and what U.S. spy agencies knew about it — was not aggressively pursued, according to both Shenon and Slawson.
That could explain why Slawson was blocked by Warren from interviewing a Mexican woman who had been employed in the Cuban consulate in Mexico "and who dealt face-to-face with Oswald on his visa application" and may have become his lover, wrote Shenon.
"I know I did the best I could," Slawson, who was "the commission's chief conspiracy-hunter," told Shenon.
He added, "I had no way of knowing what I wasn't being told."
In those day, he said, "we assumed that government officials would tell us the truth." Nowadays, "no one makes that assumption anymore."
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