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Gerald D. McKnight: Breach of Trust


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#1 John Simkin

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Posted 22 October 2005 - 07:24 AM

Gerald D. McKnight is professor of history at Hood College, where he is chair of the History and Political Science Department. His book, Breach of Trust: How the Warren Commission Failed the Nation and Why, was published in September, 2005.

#2 John Simkin

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Posted 22 October 2005 - 11:07 AM

Just like to say how much I have enjoyed reading Breach of Trust. I think one of the problems in the past is that so many of the people who have written about the JFK assassination were journalists rather than historians. This has enabled Warren Report supporters to dismiss a lot of this work as “speculative journalism”. However, your book has been written in a style that is acceptable to the academic community.

(1) What do you think is the most important discovery you made while writing “Breach of Trust”?

(2) On page 6 you point out that after analysizing the Zapruder film for the CIA, the National Photographic Intelligence Center (NPIC) concluded: “First, the first shot at the motorcade had not come from the sixth-floor “sniper’s nest” where Oswald had allegedly secreted himself. Second, there had been at least two gunman in Dealey Plaza shooting at the motorcade”. You add: “The results of NPIC’s analysis of the Zapruder film were suppressed.”

Did you discover who was involved in suppressing this evidence? Did the House Select Committee on Assassinations see this report? Did G. Robert Blakey include it in his report? What do you think of Dale K. Myers’ work on the Zapruder film. Supporters of the Warren Report seem to be now very reliant on Myers’ research.

(3) On page 305 you state that: “The ONI files devoted more attention to the activities of a Gerald Patrick Hemming, an ex-marine and soldier of fortune who was training anti-Castro Cubans in New Orleans, than to Oswald.” I assume you are suggesting that some of Oswald’s file has been destroyed. Or are you also suggesting that the ONI had good reason to have a large file on Hemming?

(4) On page 145 you point out that on 12th March, 1964, Richard Helms had a meeting with J. Lee Rankin and senior members of the Warren Commission staff. The general purpose of the meeting was to discuss how the CIA could assist the WC. How helpful was Helms? If he did play an important role in the cover-up, what was his motive?

(5) On page 323 you argue that William C. Sullivan (head of the FBI’s Domestic Intelligence Division) and James J. Angleton (the CIA counterintelligence chief) worked closely together in providing information to the Warren Commission. It would seem Sullivan and Angleton probably knew more about the JFK assassination than any other investigator.

In his book, “The Bureau”, Sullivan has little to say about his work with the WC. He claims that “we never found out what went on between Oswald and the Cubans in Mexico”. However, he adds that he did not believe that “Oswald was a Russian or a Cuban agent”. He goes onto say “If I had to guess I’d say that Oswald acted alone, but I was puzzled by the accuracy of his shooting.” I assume that Sullivan knew more than this. It has to be remembered that the manuscript was edited after he was killed by Robert Daniels during the HSCA investigations. Do you think it is significant that Richard Nixon employed Sullivan after he was sacked by Hoover?

Angleton seems to have come to a different conclusion. According to a CIA document, “Of Moles and Molehunters”, Cleveland C. Cram (Chief of Station in Europe and the Western Hemisphere), Angleton told journalists, Edward Epstein and Joe Trento, that Oswald was a KGB agent. Cram claims that Angleton was lying. Do you agree? If so, why did Angleton do this?

#3 Stuart Wexler

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Posted 22 October 2005 - 03:56 PM

Hi Prof. McKnight,

For someone like myself who has little time between work to devote to the many JFK books on the market, I'm always interested in the new vs. the old. For many people, what Weisberg had is still important and relevant, but for those of us for have really read and reread Weisberg, we are always looking for material that adds to what he has. The one thing that has captured my attention in the advertisting for your book, for instance, is the Dallas FBI special index. How much of your book is material that adds new dimensions to what we already know about the Warren Commission and the investigation of the case (for instance, the special index), and how much is reminding us old-hats about the material others have already covered? Perhaps John S. can help here as someone who has read the book.

Regards,
Stu






Just like to say how much I have enjoyed reading Breach of Trust. I think one of the problems in the past is that so many of the people who have written about the JFK assassination were journalists rather than historians. This has enabled Warren Report supporters to dismiss a lot of this work as “speculative journalism”. However, your book has been written in a style that is acceptable to the academic community.

(1) What do you think is the most important discovery you made while writing “Breach of Trust”?

(2) On page 6 you point out that after analysizing the Zapruder film for the CIA, the National Photographic Intelligence Center (NPIC) concluded: “First, the first shot at the motorcade had not come from the sixth-floor “sniper’s nest” where Oswald had allegedly secreted himself. Second, there had been at least two gunman in Dealey Plaza shooting at the motorcade”. You add: “The results of NPIC’s analysis of the Zapruder film were suppressed.”

Did you discover who was involved in suppressing this evidence? Did the House Select Committee on Assassinations see this report? Did G. Robert Blakey include it in his report? What do you think of Dale K. Myers’ work on the Zapruder film. Supporters of the Warren Report seem to be now very reliant on Myers’ research.

(3) On page 305 you state that: “The ONI files devoted more attention to the activities of a Gerald Patrick Hemming, an ex-marine and soldier of fortune who was training anti-Castro Cubans in New Orleans, than to Oswald.” I assume you are suggesting that some of Oswald’s file has been destroyed. Or are you also suggesting that the ONI had good reason to have a large file on Hemming?

(4) On page 145 you point out that on 12th March, 1964, Richard Helms had a meeting with J. Lee Rankin and senior members of the Warren Commission staff. The general purpose of the meeting was to discuss how the CIA could assist the WC. How helpful was Helms? If he did play an important role in the cover-up, what was his motive?

(5) On page 323 you argue that William C. Sullivan (head of the FBI’s Domestic Intelligence Division) and James J. Angleton (the CIA counterintelligence chief) worked closely together in providing information to the Warren Commission. It would seem Sullivan and Angleton probably knew more about the JFK assassination than any other investigator.

In his book, “The Bureau”, Sullivan has little to say about his work with the WC. He claims that “we never found out what went on between Oswald and the Cubans in Mexico”. However, he adds that he did not believe that “Oswald was a Russian or a Cuban agent”. He goes onto say “If I had to guess I’d say that Oswald acted alone, but I was puzzled by the accuracy of his shooting.” I assume that Sullivan knew more than this. It has to be remembered that the manuscript was edited after he was killed by Robert Daniels during the HSCA investigations. Do you think it is significant that Richard Nixon employed Sullivan after he was sacked by Hoover?

Angleton seems to have come to a different conclusion. According to a CIA document, “Of Moles and Molehunters”, Cleveland C. Cram (Chief of Station in Europe and the Western Hemisphere), Angleton told journalists, Edward Epstein and Joe Trento, that Oswald was a KGB agent. Cram claims that Angleton was lying. Do you agree? If so, why did Angleton do this?



#4 Gerald McKnight

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Posted 03 November 2005 - 06:39 PM

(1) What do you think is the most important discovery you made while writing “Breach of Trust”?


(1) The thing I am most proud of with "Breach" is its transparency. That is, most of the documentation comes from the government's own documents. If you disgree with my interpretations, etc., you can check my sources, etc. . . . .



(2) On page 6 you point out that after analysizing the Zapruder film for the CIA, the National Photographic Intelligence Center (NPIC) concluded: “First, the first shot at the motorcade had not come from the sixth-floor “sniper’s nest” where Oswald had allegedly secreted himself. Second, there had been at least two gunman in Dealey Plaza shooting at the motorcade”. You add: “The results of NPIC’s analysis of the Zapruder film were suppressed.”

Did you discover who was involved in suppressing this evidence? Did the House Select Committee on Assassinations see this report? Did G. Robert Blakey include it in his report? What do you think of Dale K. Myers’ work on the Zapruder film. Supporters of the Warren Report seem to be now very reliant on Myers’ research.


2. I never saw a Commission document that indicated it ever was familiar with the NPIC results of the Z film examination. A month or two after the WC Report became public the CIA requested from theFBI a loan of the Z film so the agency could use it for training purposes. I think this was to cover the fact that the CIA had made copies of the film borrowed from the Secret Service over the weekend following the assassation. The FBi request was just ass-covering scheme. I might point out that the FBI's analyis of the Z film also concluded that the first shot came before Z 210, that is at about Z170, before a shooter in 6th floor had access to JFK. I think we'll come to a time when it will be agreed that there were at least 6 shots fired that day. Probably three shots fired just before Altgens famous photo.

My source on the Z film is Dave Wrone's seminal work. I am looking forward to Richard Trask's work on the Zapruder film to be released soon. The title I think is "National Nightmare. . . . .something"

#5 Gerald McKnight

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Posted 03 November 2005 - 08:56 PM

(3) On page 305 you state that: “The ONI files devoted more attention to the activities of a Gerald Patrick Hemming, an ex-marine and soldier of fortune who was training anti-Castro Cubans in New Orleans, than to Oswald.” I assume you are suggesting that some of Oswald’s file has been destroyed. Or are you also suggesting that the ONI had good reason to have a large file on Hemming?


(3) My comments on the ONI film and Hemmings was just to make the point that these files were purged after the assassination. The ONI had to have sensitive material on Oswald. It had to have satisfied itself that Oswald did not give anything away to the Soviets that would compromise several of its tightly held secrets, especially in radar electronics, etc. That is, if Oswald was a legitimate defector. I do not believe that Oswald was a legitimate defector. I believe he was a low level "plant" US intelligence placed in the SU. Without question the ONI files on Oswald were purged; probably over the weekend following the assassination. One of the areas sanitized was Oswald's classifications while in the marines, plus any indication that he was under the handling of the CIA.

#6 Gerald McKnight

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Posted 03 November 2005 - 11:13 PM

(4) On page 145 you point out that on 12th March, 1964, Richard Helms had a meeting with J. Lee Rankin and senior members of the Warren Commission staff. The general purpose of the meeting was to discuss how the CIA could assist the WC. How helpful was Helms? If he did play an important role in the cover-up, what was his motive?


(4) The WC was totally beholden to the CIA, especially in the matter of Oswald in Mexico. The Commission simply took without questioning almost everything the CIA said about Oswald in Mexico. The Commission's conclusions that Oswald's trip to Mexico was irrelevant to the investigation was essentially dictated to the WC by the CIA. See the WC's Slawson/Coleman report on Oswald in Mexico. The report was virtually dictated to the two WC lawyers and then submitted as the low down on Oswald's 7 days in Mexico City. Why? Because I think the key to Oswald and what he was about lies in his trip to Mexico just a few months before the JFK assassination.

#7 Tim Gratz

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Posted 04 November 2005 - 05:57 AM

I am looking forward to reading Professor McKnight's book. John, I must say your questions here are very good and Professor McKnight's answers most interesting. A great thread so far.

#8 Gerald McKnight

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Posted 04 November 2005 - 08:02 AM

(5) On page 323 you argue that William C. Sullivan (head of the FBI’s Domestic Intelligence Division) and James J. Angleton (the CIA counterintelligence chief) worked closely together in providing information to the Warren Commission. It would seem Sullivan and Angleton probably knew more about the JFK assassination than any other investigator.

In his book, “The Bureau”, Sullivan has little to say about his work with the WC. He claims that “we never found out what went on between Oswald and the Cubans in Mexico”. However, he adds that he did not believe that “Oswald was a Russian or a Cuban agent”. He goes onto say “If I had to guess I’d say that Oswald acted alone, but I was puzzled by the accuracy of his shooting.” I assume that Sullivan knew more than this. It has to be remembered that the manuscript was edited after he was killed by Robert Daniels during the HSCA investigations. Do you think it is significant that Richard Nixon employed Sullivan after he was sacked by Hoover?

Angleton seems to have come to a different conclusion. According to a CIA document, “Of Moles and Molehunters”, Cleveland C. Cram (Chief of Station in Europe and the Western Hemisphere), Angleton told journalists, Edward Epstein and Joe Trento, that Oswald was a KGB agent. Cram claims that Angleton was lying. Do you agree? If so, why did Angleton do this?


(5) Sullivan/Angleton alliance was to make sure that both the FBI and CIA were on the same page when it came to the question from the Commission: "Was Oswald affiliated in any way with your agency, etc" That either or both had insight or info into who was behind Dallas I cannot say. Its likely they may have had their suspicions. It is almost certain that both knew that JFK was the victim of a conspiracy. Of that you can be certain. All old hands in the FBI and the CIA suspected that Dallas was the result of a conspiracy; no lone shooter could have carried out the assassination.

I don’t hold much with whatever Sullivan had to say. I have a very low opinion of him. He was the architect of the FBI's cointelpros (dirtiest of the dirty tricks department in the FBI). I doubt if he knew anything beyond that re: the assassination. That's also true of his boss, Hoover. Hoover knew it was a conspiracy but did everything in his power to avoid probing for the truth. Now while I suspect that the intelligence community carried out secret investigation(s) into Kennedy's murder I do not believe that the Hoover FBI did the same.

Angleton could have sincerely believed that Oswald was a KGB agent. Angleton was unbalanced when it came to the Soviet "threat." Most of you know how he virtually tore the CIA apart re: the Nosenko affair.

#9 Pat Speer

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Posted 04 November 2005 - 11:16 AM

Professor McKnight, I have your book and have to admit I was a bit disappointed in its handling of the medical evidence. Rankin and McCloy convinced Warren to have a look at the photos with Humes and report back to them. Next thing you know, they issue their report. Years later Warren admits he looked at the photos by himself. He says this occurred after they were sent over from Bethesda. According to th SS man in charge of the photos, Robert Bouck, however, the photos were in SS custody from day one, and Warren never came by for an inspection. Did you look into this at all and if so did you come to any conclusions regarding this mess? Did you talk to Specter?

#10 Gerald McKnight

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Posted 04 November 2005 - 12:42 PM

Hi Prof. McKnight,

For someone like myself who has little time between work to devote to the many JFK books on the market, I'm always interested in the new vs. the old. For many people, what Weisberg had is still important and relevant, but for those of us for have really read and reread Weisberg, we are always looking for material that adds to what he has. The one thing that has captured my attention in the advertisting for your book, for instance, is the Dallas FBI special index. How much of your book is material that adds new dimensions to what we already know about the Warren Commission and the investigation of the case (for instance, the special index), and how much is reminding us old-hats about the material others have already covered? Perhaps John S. can help here as someone who has read the book.


The FBI was the investigative arm of the WC. The Dallas FO Index is the Rosetta stone, to this investigation. Some 50,000 entries of the names of witnesses that FBI questions; books on the assassination; evidence; newspaper stories, etc. Essentially everything the FBI called upon during its investigation can be found in this indispensable data base. The point I made and still make is that as far as I know "Breach" is the first book to cite the Index as a research tool. My point is that any book on the Commission and the official investigation into the JFK assassination should be aware of the Index.

#11 John Simkin

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Posted 14 November 2005 - 06:52 PM

I was interested to read how Angleton managed to replace John Whitten as the CIA investigator into the assassination (pages 87-88).

On pages 347 and 348 you reveal that Whitten was kept in the dark about what the CIA knew about Oswald in New Orleans. You portray Whitten as a man with integrity who might have indeed solved the case if he had been given more than two weeks to investigate it.

You say that Angleton handed the investigation to the Soviet Division? Was this David Murphy and Pete Bagley?

Later Angleton leaked information to journalists that there was some sort of KGB/Castro plot. Most rejected they idea but Edward Epstein, Joe Trento and Gus Russo bought it. However, this is a very different story to what the CIA told the Warren Commission. What was Angleton up to? Did he believe he had been fooled by Murphy and Bagley?

Interestingly, Angleton later claimed that Murphy was a Soviet agent. However, Clare Edward Petty argued it was Bagley who was the Soviet mole. Angleton refused to accept Petty's theory. As a result, Petty told William Colby that Angleton was the Soviet spy (after all, he was the one who let Kim Philby escape to the Soviet Union).

#12 Gerald McKnight

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Posted 17 November 2005 - 05:24 AM

As far as Angleton is concerned his own self-entrapment with Golitsyn and his rapid paranoia about the Russians might have led him to believe that there was a KGB/Castro plot.

My take on this, for whatever its worth, is that Angleton and Hoover were to an extent soul-mates and looked out for each other. This despite the CIA/FBI fearsome rivalry. I think they both agreed to divert there respective agencies away from the Oswald in Mexico angle in the case and focus on the Soviets, probably realizing that it was a nonstarter deadend and therefore safe. I have some of this in the book. But look at the appropriate section in the Appendix (p.364) under "D." Indicates that Hoover pulled all his Cuban inspectors and investigators off the case because he was afraid of what they might come up with if he probed into the Mexican labyrinth.

#13 John Simkin

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Posted 17 December 2005 - 12:31 PM

This review of Breach of Trust, written by Anthony Frewin, appeared in the current edition of Lobster Magazine:

The commonly accepted view is that the Warren Commission was a prisoner of its sources (i.e. the FBI) and that, coupled with a notable lack of general curiosity ('We're supposed to closing doors around here, not opening them,' quoth Wesley J. Leibeler), resulted in the Report that declared Oswald a lone, mad assassin. Yes, so the argument goes, they could have asked more questions, but there were restraints of time and money and they had to go down the one and only avenue that was open to them - an avenue carefully contoured by Hoover and his agency.

What McKnight documents fully and exhaustively is that Chief Justice Earl Warren and his fellow commissioners were complicit from the get-go in the lone assassin theory. Their job was to substantiate what had already been decided over the weekend of 23 and 24 November by Lyndon B. Johnson and J. Edgar Hoover. But their 'crime' was even worse than this, they knew that they were bolstering a lie. Their job was certainly not to go where the evidence night lead them.

On the evening of 22 November President Johnson had put Hoover in charge of the investigation. Subsequently Johnson told Hoover that lie wanted a full report on the assassination on his desk by Tuesday. What would the report conclude? McKnight cites an FBI document that the president 'approved the idea that (the FBI) make a report showing the evidence conclusively tying Oswald in as the assailant of President Kennedy.' This was the 'official solution' and Earl Warren and company simply fell in behind it.

Now, we may have guessed that this is what happened but here we have McKnight proving it and we only had to wait 42 years. A long time in politics, yes, and a short time in history.

McKnight has chapters on how the 'official truth' emerged, the formation of the Commission, and examinations of various issues that confronted these 'honourable' men such as Oswald in Mexico and the 'Single Bullet' fabrication and virtually no page goes by without new insights and fresh documentation. His is a remarkable achievement and one that nobody in the critical Community should fail to read.


#14 John Simkin

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Posted 20 December 2005 - 12:46 PM

Bill Kelly has posted an article on the Forum about the possibility of obtaining a grand jury in order to investigate the assassination of JFK.

http://educationforu...?showtopic=5634

I have started a thread where I have asked researchers to put forward evidence that would justify the case being reopened.

As a result of your own research, what evidence is currently available that suggests that Lee Harvey Oswald was not the only one responsible for killing JFK?

http://educationforu...?showtopic=5659

#15 Pat Speer

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Posted 08 February 2006 - 09:11 AM

Professor Mcknight, I was re-reading Post Mortem today to find a section on the paraffin tests. Sure enough, Weisberg mentions on page 437 that nitrate tests performed for "control" purposes showed that the cheeks of men who fired rifles tested positive seven out of seven times. Presumably, these were the NAA tests performed by the AEC. I don't recall seeing these tests, and this reference to the control group in any of Weisberg's books or online. Have you seen this reference to the seven control tests in Weisberg's papers? Are you aware of anywhere online where one can read these tests? I checked Breach of Trust. While you do mention the paraffin tests, and that the ERDA file can be found at the Weisberg Archive, I didn't see a specific reference to the results of these control groups. If they in fact show that seven out of seven times nitrates were found on the cheeks of men who'd fired rifles, but that no nitrates were found on Oswald, this would have to be considered significant. And that this was hidden from the public equally significant.

Your help appreciated.



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