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Keeping Secrets in the Kennedy Assassination

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The Dallas County district attorney, Craig Watkins, recently held a press conference in which he announced a big surprise about the John Kennedy assassination. Watkins disclosed the existence of a secret vault in his office that contained documents and other items relating to the Kennedy assassination. The materials had been compiled by Henry Wade, who was the Dallas district attorney during the Kennedy assassination.

It is still too soon to know whether the contents of the safe will reveal any new information about the Kennedy assassination, but the disclosure of the safe does pierce one important myth of those who maintain that there could not possibly have been a conspiracy to kill Kennedy, including a conspiracy that involved the CIA.

A popular refrain among the no-conspiracy crowd is that if there had been a conspiracy, one of the conspirators would have talked by now. The refrain suggests that people in Washington are unable to keep a secret and, therefore, the absence of a confession from a co-conspirator, especially given the long lapse of time since the assassination, constitutes proof that no conspiracy existed. (Of course, when CIA agent E. Howard Hunt disclosed the existence of a conspiracy to kill Kennedy before Hunt’s death last year, no-conspiracy advocates said that that didn’t count because Hunt, they said, wasn’t credible.)

Yet, here we have a trove of information relating to the Kennedy assassination that government officials successfully kept secret from the American people, including the mainstream press, for 45 years. In fact, not only the information was kept secret but also the existence of the vault that contained the information. The people who kept it secret included three district attorneys — Wade himself and the two district attorneys who succeeded him, along with possibly some of the Dallas police who had turned over investigatory information to Wade.

The fact is that government officials can keep secrets, especially big, important ones. This is especially true with respect to the CIA, which is undoubtedly the government agency that is most successful at keeping its secrets secret. If the CIA was involved in the Kennedy assassination, that’s a secret that the conspirators would obviously have had an interest in keeping secret forever — much more so than, for example, the Dallas district attorneys had in keeping their Kennedy information secret.

If the CIA was involved in the Kennedy assassination, there was no way that the American people were ever going to find out about it without the appointment of an honest, independent federal prosecutor, with grand-jury subpoena power, charged specifically with the task of investigating the CIA as a “target of interest” in the Kennedy assassination and backed up by a fearless, independent-minded federal judge.

That is, if the CIA did actually played a role in the assassination, a politically appointed investigatory commission, such as the Warren Commission, would never have been able to pierce through the stonewalling that the CIA would obviously have engaged in to prevent anyone from getting too close to The Secret. This is especially true given that one of the members of the Warren Commission included the former head of the CIA whom Kennedy had fired, along with other government officials who would never have seriously considered that the CIA would have been capable of such an act.

Consider Watergate, for example. If it had not been for an independent-minded federal judge, the Watergate burglary conspiracy would never have come to light. It was only by squeezing the burglars with high jail sentences that they were forced to begin squealing.

The same principle applied to special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald’s recent prosecution of Scooter Libby. Fitzgerald was able to pierce the conspiracy of silence surrounding Libby’s perjury through his power to subpoena people to the grand jury and force them to testify, on pain of contempt for refusing to do so. Private authors and the mainstream press, which was largely indifferent to the matter, would never have been able to prove that Libby had committed perjury.

Consider the CIA’s role in the George Joannides matter. Joannides was a CIA agent who was called out of retirement to serve as the CIA’s liaison with the House committee that was investigating the Kennedy assassination during the 1970s. Joannides succeeded in keeping secret a big secret involving his role (and the CIA’s role) with an anti-Castro group in New Orleans with which Lee Harvey Oswald had had an unusual contact. After Oswald had first volunteered his services to the anti-Castro group, he then switched directions and got into a ruckus with the group as a pro-Castro proponent. Joannides and the CIA kept secret that the CIA had been funding the group prior to the assassination. In fact, to this day the CIA is fighting fiercely to keep its Joannides files secret, which strongly implies that there are still 45-year-old secrets in the Kennedy assassination that are successfully being preserved.

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.