Declassified Memo Reveals CIA Investigated Cuban Exiles for JFK's Assassination
Results of a secret probe in Miami were never shared with Congress or the public.
Is there anything significant in the JFK assassination files released last month?
When UVA Today put that question to Steve Gillon, a historian and fellow at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center of Public Affairs, he replied,.“…I think the documents that have not yet been released are probably very embarrassing to the CIA. It’s very clear that somebody dropped the ball.”
A newly-unredacted memo lends credence to Gillon’s comment, illuminating a story overlooked by major news organizations and unknown to most Americans interested in the assassination.
The 1977 memo, with redactions now removed, reveals for the first time the name of a CIA undercover officer who participated in a secret investigation into JFK’s assassination in 1963 that focused on the enemies of Fidel Castro in the United States.
The memo, written by Donald Heath, shows that while the White House and the FBI were assuring the public that a loner had killed the president for no reason, the CIA’s Miami station was actively pursuing suspicions that anti-Castro exiles might have been involved. The results of the investigation have never disclosed, despite the 1992 JFK Records Act mandating release of all government records related to the murder of President Kennedy on November 22, 1963.
This story is only emerging despite determined CIA resistance (which now includes distributing factually false talking points to its favorite reporters in Washington). The 1977 memo was among the 7,000-plus JFK files declassified on December 15, per an order from President Biden last year. The CIA did not release another 4,000 redacted records related to the assassination.
The 1992 law called for all of the government’s assassination-related files to be made public by 2017 “except in the rarest of cases.” Since the passing of statutory deadline five years ago, President Trump and Biden have both acquiesced to CIA demands for continuing JFK secrecy, despite the clear intent of Congress.
The Heath memo sheds new light on and old question: Did the CIA “drop the ball” on Lee Harvey Oswald? Or did the CIA drop a veil of operational secrecy around what it knew about the accused assassin and anti-Castro exiles?
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