A Review of Oliver Stone’s JFK: Destiny Betrayed (Chapter 4)

In 1966, when I was nine years old, my dad brought home Rush to Judgment by Mark Lane. My dad was never a believer that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone assassin of President John F. Kennedy and the book by Lane surely amplified that belief of his, as well as mine.

In 1991, I went to visit my parents one afternoon and my mom told me that dad had gone to see JFK, the Oliver Stone film. When dad came home, he told me that I really needed to go out and see this film. The next day I did. To both of us, the film further increased our belief that the JFK assassination was indeed a conspiracy.

While dad and I both thought the film was very insightful and informative about who may have murdered JFK and why he had created so many enemies within the United States government, many in the mainstream media gave the movie bad reviews. Like large media outlets like CBSNBC and The New York Times, who had all endorsed the Warren Report, which has been largely discredited in 58 years since it first came out in 1964.

Which takes me to a new Oliver Stone documentary called JFK: Destiny Betrayed. It’s a four-part film that lasts approximately four hours that can be seen on Prime Video and Apple. I had the opportunity to see the film and I thought it was outstanding. The film was directed by Stone and produced by Rob Wilson. The film was written by long time JFK assassination researcher and author Jim DiEugenio. The film is narrated by Whoopi Goldberg and Donald Sutherland.

If you truly care about what really occurred in Dealey Plaza in Dallas on November 22, 1963, please watch this film. Yes, I know, we now live in an era of disinformation, via the mainstream media, as well as social media. Unlike that fabricated rhetoric, this film puts out real evidence, much of which was hidden for 30-plus years. This documented information comes from witnesses, physicians, historians, researchers and ballistics specialists.

Chapter 4:

In 1975, when the Church Committee was investigating U.S. intelligence activities, Senator Richard  Schweiker of Pennsylvania remarked in an interview, that everywhere you looked at Lee Harvey Oswald, there were fingerprints of intelligence.

Those fingerprints extended back to 1959, when Oswald defected to the Soviet Union. State Department intelligence officer Otto Otepka had noted the marked increase of Americans who were defecting to Russia at the time. He also noted that some of the defectors had come from a military background. Otepka assumed that some of these men were fake defectors who had been assigned by the CIA to garner intelligence behind the Iron Curtain.

Otepka sent a note to the CIA asking if any of the defectors were agents for that organization. Oswald was one of the names on Otepka’s list. The request by Otepka was forwarded to James Angleton, who was the CIA’s Chief of Counterintelligence.

Angelton replied that there was to be no research done regarding Oswald. But Otepka continued to work on the Oswald case.

Author/researcher Lisa Pease commented about Otepka. “The only thing of significance was that he was really interested in Lee Harvey Oswald before the assassination,” Pease said. “And he actually had a study of these defectors in his safe. Things got worse. His office was not only bugged, but they planted people in his office to spy on him. They started putting confidential documents in his burn bag and then tried to blame him by saying ‘He’s burning confidential documents.’ Like the guy has gone wacko.”

The result? Otepka was formally removed from the State Department on November 5, 1963, just 17 days before the assassination. In addition, Otepka’s name is not mentioned in the Warren Report, nor was he called to testify in front of that committee. In fact, it was Angleton who coordinated the agencies response to the Warren Commision.

Oliver Stone asked author and historian John M. Newman, who had a background in Army intelligence, to describe how the Oswald file was set up at the CIA.

“It could be opened after a few documents arrived at the CIA from other intelligence agencies,” Newman said. “And that would be enough to trigger a 201 File. Sometimes they call it a Personality File. Another thing that could trigger the opening of a 201 File, would be an American citizen defecting to a communist-blocked country. The interesting thing is that Oswald met both of those criteria within nine days of his defection, and they didn’t open a 201 File on him for 13 or 14 months.

“Immediately after the defection, Oswald’s threat to commit an act of espionage, his words were something special about his Marine Corp experience. Which could only be the U2, which is a program he had worked on, a very secretive CIA program. That threat caused him to be put on the mail intercept program and not opening a 201 at the same time, which is a very unusual combination. And can only be explained by Oswald being part of a very covert and very sensitive operation, which was the hunt for a mole.

“The history of the KGB and the CIA, their wars are not actually shooting each other, but to penetrate each other. They called them moles for penetrations. So, it was an ongoing war, very, very complicated. What the molehunters were doing for Angleton were looking for KGB moles inside of the CIA. So, 351-164 was the file of the security office that was opened up right after his defection and that was shared only with Angleton’s mole hunting office, but not with any other components of the CIA. The CIA and FBI knew what the KGB would figure out very quickly was because of his assignment at Osugi, Japan, where he tracked the super-secret U2s at the time.

“So, once you established the lure, the place where you trap the animal isn’t in the Moscow embassy, but it’s back at Langley, where you thought the moles was. You want the KGB to contact the mole to ask questions. The moment the mole asks a question, it’s over. He or she is exposed. This program, which did not work, years later was put in front of probably our most celebrated and capable counterintelligence officer in the history of the CIA. His name was “Pete” Tennet Bagley. He began searching for the mole. He was the key person leading it for years, with Angleton.

“So, after he was retired, he attended a meeting of former CIA officers down in the Carolina’s and a British researcher officer happened to be down there. His name is Malcolm Blunt. And they met and got along well. And fortunately for history, a couple of years before “Pete” Bagley died, Malcolm sat down with him one day and showed him all those first documents that had come into the CIA from the State Department and the Navy component at the embassy.

“And “Pete” Bagley looks at Malcom and says, ‘Was he witting?’ And Malcolm doesn’t really know how to respond. So, Bagley raises his voice and insisted, ‘He had to be witting! He had to be witting!’ That was a telling seminal moment in the history of KGB-CIA spy wars and the history of Lee Harvey Oswald and his early use by the CIA. A very, very important moment because finally after all these years, a very senior CIA officer had just told Malcolm and us, that Lee Harvey Oswald was a witting false defector when he went to Moscow.”

Also, Douglas Horne, who was the Chief Analyst for Military Records for the Assassination Records Review Board (the ARRB), added this about an unusual circumstance regarding Oswald’s income at the time of his defection.

“Oswald’s last quarter of earnings in the United States before he defected to the Soviet Union, should have been paid by the United States Marine Corp,” Horne said. “And they weren’t. Because we asked to see his Marine Corp earnings record that the Marine Corp deposits with the Social Security administration. They didn’t pay him any money the last quarter he was in the United States before his defection.”

Author/researcher Jefferson Morley added this regarding this subject. “The line that the CIA fed the Warren Commission that we really didn’t know anything about this guy, we now know that was complete nonsense,” Morley said. “Oswald was a figure of intense interest for four years before the assassination. And a dozen senior CIA officers were very well acquainted with everything he did. Where he went. What his politics were. His family life. Remember, they were reading his mother’s mail.

“That’s how closely they were watching him. Right up until Kennedy was killed. Then Kennedy is killed, and Oswald is arrested, and they say we know nothing about this guy.”

Plus, ARRB records show that Angleton and others in the CIA were receiving reports on Oswald up until one week before the assassination.

Chapter 4 also delves into Oswald’s time in New Orleans in the summer of 1963. The Warren Commission depicted Oswald as being a staunch communist because he distributed pro-Castro leaflets in New Orleans, in addition to his defection to the Soviet Union in 1959.

In reality, that was just a cover. Oswald was actually working with fiercely anti-communist elements in New Orleans. Many of these groups were supported by the U.S. government as well. Oswald spent time with three men who were connected to these entities. They were Clay Shaw, Guy Banister and David Ferrie.

Ferrie and Oswald first knew each other back in 1955, when both were in Civil Air Patrol. Ferrie was known as an extreme anti-communist and was also a trainer and a pilot for the CIA in their secret war against Cuba. Oswald was involved in these training activities with Ferrie.

Oswald also worked with Banister, who had far right-wing tendencies. Banister was a former agent for the FBI, plus he also had associations with the CIA and the American Nazi party. Banister gave Oswald his own office at 544 Camp Street in New Orleans. Oswald used that office to print out pro-Castro literature, much of which was connected to the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, which was centered in New York.

One of the places where Oswald handed out his leaflets was in front of the International Trade Mart, which was run by Shaw. It was Shaw who was arrested by the District Attorney of Orleans Parish, Jim Garrison, for being part of the conspiracy to kill JFK. Shaw always denied that he was associated with the CIA.

The ARRB found documents which proved that Shaw’s assertions were false. Shaw was actually a highly paid CIA contractor. Shaw also had a covert security clearance from the CIA for a program which was code-named QKENCHANT.

Then there is the situation regarding attorney Dean Andrews, who worked with Oswald in May of 1963, to try and upgrade his military discharge status, which at the time read undesirable. After JFK was assassinated, a man named Clay Bertrand called Andrews to see if he could represent Oswald in Dallas. Shaw denied under oath that he was Clay Bertrand, but thanks to the work of the ARRB, they found 12 people who confirmed that Shaw was indeed Bertrand.

Also in this chapter, we learn about two other members of the CIA. They are David Atlee Phillips and George Joannides.

Robert Tanenbaum, who was the former Deputy Chief Council for the HSCA and others have seen film of Oswald, Ferrie and Phillips at anti-Castro training camps. Phillips was the CIA Director of Cuban Operations and he specialized propaganda, Phillips used multiple tactics for gaining information from The Fair Play for Cuba Committee. Those tactics were infiltration, surveillance and the recruitment of agents who gain access (see Oswald).

Phillips also created an anti-Castro Cuban exile group. The group was called DRE and was based in Miami, but also had a chapter in New Orleans, which was led by Carlos Bringuier. The ARRB discovered that the CIA was funding this group and helped to plan activities.

Morley talked about the DRE in Miami, which was never investigated by the Warren Commision. “They (the Warren Commision) certainly didn’t know that the group was receiving $51,000 a month from the CIA in 1963 and they didn’t know the group was being run from Miami by George Joannides, a psychological warfare office, who reported directly to Dick Helms (the CIA Deputy Director of Plans).

“The DRE published the first JFK conspiracy theory saying Oswald and Castro were the presumed assassins. The publication was paid for by the CIA under the auspices of George Joannides. The Joannides story tells us that Dick Helms’ handpicked man in Miami was controlling the group that had the most to do with Oswald before and after the assassination.

“I found out Joannides’ identity many years later and I went to Bob Blakey, the head of the HSCA investigation and I said, ‘Bob, do you ever know this guy Joannides?’ And he said, ‘Yeah, we dealt with him a lot. He was the liaison.’ And I said, ‘Did you know what he was doing in 1963?’ And he said, ‘He wasn’t doing anything in 1963 because we had an agreement with the CIA that nobody who was operational at the time of the assassination would be involved in the investigation.’

“And I said, ‘Bob, think again. Joannides was running those Cubans who were in touch with Oswald. He was running the Cubans who were blaming Castro for the assassination. And then he came along, and he stonewalled you.’ The reason why they brought Joannides to do it was to hide the connection to Oswald. He (Blakey) was definitely shocked because he saw how clever they had been. They had gone right to the heart of his investigation and figured out how to paralyze it.”

Here is what Blakey said when he realized what the CIA had done to his investigation. “I no longer trust anything that the agency has told us in regard to the assassination. It lied to the Warren Commision. It lied to the ARRB. It lied to the HSCA in admitting that Joannides was employed in a covert capacity as a liaison to the HSCA. It has admitted that it violated its charter and ran a domestic covert operation aimed at subverting the HSCA and its investigation.”

The CIA wasn’t alone in terms of impairing the investigation of JFK’s assassination. Soon after the JFK Records Act was passed In September of 1992, the Secret Service started complying and giving documents to the ARRB. But by January of 1995, the Secret Service started destroying documents.

John R. Tunheim of the ARRB explains. “And they destroyed a group of records that involved threats to President Kennedy in the fall of 1963. They have what they call, “threat sheets” and there were many threats made to President Kennedy’s life during the year 1963. They fought us on the release of those records.”

Tunheim added this point. “In the end, when we required agencies to disclose and swear under oath that they had located all assassination records and turn everything over to us, the Secret Service refused to sign that document under oath. I think that was telling.”

Speaking of agencies, the FBI lowered the security status of Oswald just weeks before the assassination, which allowed him to work at a place in the route of the JFK motorcade. Without lowering the status, the FBI would have never allowed Oswald to be anywhere near the motorcade. But by lowering the security status, Oswald was able to be inside the Texas School Book Depository, which allowed the lone gunman scenario to take hold.

Very few people knew that there had been at least two prior plots to assassinate JFK in the fall of 1963. One was in Chicago on November 2nd, and one was in Tampa on November 18th.

President Kennedy had his trip to Chicago cancelled. Professor Paul Bleau explained why to Stone. “An informant on October 31st, an informant named Lee, who could have been Lee Harvey Oswald, gave a warning to the FBI, stating that four Cubans were headed to Chicago to shoot Kennedy,” Bleau said. “The following day, a landlady, reported to the Chicago police that she had rented a room to four people who had rifles with telescopic sites and a sketch of the motorcade.

“The FBI passed that on to the Secret Service, but the Secret Service botched the surveyance of these four individuals. Two of them escaped, but they actually picked up two of the snipers. They detained them. They were stonewalled by the snipers and didn’t get any information out of them.

“While this was going on, there was another threat coming in from another alternate patsy named Thomas Artur Vallee, who was making open and loud threats that he would assassinate Kennedy. They only picked him up after Kennedy cancelled his trip on November 2nd at 10:00 in the morning. One day before the trip, the Diem brothers had been assassinated. And that was the stated reason for the cancellation of the trip to Chicago.

“What you found in Vallee and the whole Chicago plot, was that there were so many similarities to what eventually happened in Dallas. It can’t be considered to be coincidental. Vallee, if we compare him to Oswald, is an ex-Marine and was posted like Oswald in the Far East in a station which was linked to the CIA, because there were U2 surveyance planes on it. It was easy to portray him as disgruntled, anti-Kennedy, a loner, armed. He had another intelligence link that he shared with Oswald, is that he trained Cuban exiles for combat. Which was a CIA responsibility. Oswald at least offered to do that. He most likely did train Cuban exiles, but we know he tried to.

“Oswald, as we know, was moved from New Orleans to Dallas in October to be there just at the right time for the motorcade and he is placed in a tall building, where he gets a job. He is adjacent to the perfect kill zone. Now if we look at what happened to Vallee, he’s moved like a pawn in August from Long Island to Chicago to be there in time for the motorcade. And where did he get a job? In a tall building adjacent to the motorcade with a perfect view of a kill zone. It would have forced Kennedy’s motorcade to do a sharp turn and slow down and be in a point where you would have had a perfect triangulation of fire.”

There was also the plan to assassinate JFK in Tampa. That too had a patsy in a tall building (the Floridian Hotel) on the motorcade route. The alternate patsy’s name was Gilberto Policarpo Lopez, who was a Cuban exile. But there was no assassination attempt.

A lot of this type of information was concealed from the Warren Commission. But one person tried. That would be Abraham Bolden, who was the first African American Secret Service agent assigned to the White House. Bolden was handpicked by JFK as well. Bolden was in Chicago when the assassination plot in the Windy City went down. He was there when the Secret Service was briefed about the four snipers, and he noted how lax the security was in Chicago. Bolden also witnessed the steps that were taken after the assassination to keep the Chicago plot quiet.

Bolden tried to say what he knew to the Warren Commission, but he was blocked from talking to them. He was eventually railroaded for a phony bribery crime and had to spend some time in prison. Just as a side note, Bolden was pardoned for that bogus crime by President Joe Biden in April.

Another reason JFK had so many enemies was because he was having backchannel negotiations with the Soviet Union and Cuba, in an attempt to secure piece. JFK used his brother Bobby as his main advisor in foreign relations. That led to a Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty with the Soviet Union.

JFK sent a message to Khrushchev with his speech at American University in June of 1963. President Kennedy said, “I realize that the pursuit of peace is not as dramatic as the pursuit of war. And every graduate of this school and every thoughtful citizen who despairs of war and wishes to bring peace should begin by looking inward. By examining his own attitude towards the possibilities of peace towards the Soviet Union. Towards the course of the Cold War. And towards freedom and peace here at home. Forced to examine our attitude at peace itself. Too many of us think it is impossible. Too many think it is unreal. But that is a dangerous, defeatist belief. It leads to the conclusion that war is inevitable. That mankind was doomed. That we are gripped by forces that we cannot control.”

JFK also created enemies in terms of his support for civil rights, especially in southern states. JFK had to use federal troops to make sure African American students were allowed to enroll in public colleges in the south, most notably in Mississippi and Alabama.

After JFK was assassinated, Vice President Lyndon Johnson became President, and he basically went 180 degrees different from the approach that JFK had been using in terms of foreign policy. The most noticeable change was in Vietnam, where instead of getting American troops out of Vietnam, LBJ escalated the war.

That would not have been the course that JFK would have taken had he lived. Kennedy promoted peace all around the world and not just with his adversaries.

JFK also said this in his speech at American University. “I have, therefore, chosen this time and this place to discuss a topic on which ignorance too often abounds and the truth is too rarely perceived–yet it is the most important topic on earth: world peace. What kind of peace do I mean? What kind of peace do we seek? Not a Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war. Not the peace of the grave or the security of the slave. I am talking about genuine peace, the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living, the kind that enables men and nations to grow and to hope and to build a better life for their children, not merely peace for Americans but peace for all men and women, not merely peace in our time but peace for all time.”

3 thoughts on “A Review of Oliver Stone’s JFK: Destiny Betrayed (Chapter 4)

  1. Bob, enjoy this as much as I enjoy your draft write-ups. Love the History Channel series on the JFK assassination as well.
    History is written by PR firms, not historians.

    Like

  2. So darn interesting… But, hard to follow with all these names, agencies, etc. Enjoyed the read and want to watch on TV!

    Like

  3. Good especially for those new to the complex issues in the connected triple-homicides in Dallas, Texas from Friday, 11/22/63 (President Kennedy and Patrolman Jefferson Davis Tippit, both wrongly blamed on Oswald, with plenty of exculpatory evidence ignored or directly covered up) to Sunday, 11/24/63, when accused “lone nut assassin” Oswald was killed while literally surrounded by police, in the basement of the Dallas Courts Building, by, who else, another “lone nut,” Jack Ruby, one-time runner for Al Capone in Chicago and deeply involved with organized crime in Dallas-Ft. Worth.
    You might want to edit some spelling mistakes, especially “piece” when you mean “peace,” but apart from that, excellent job!!

    Like

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