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NSA Involvement in Assassination Investigation

Tom Gram

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Last night I decided to browse through the NSA files in the 2022 release and came up with a few questions. 

On 11/26/63, the NSA told William Sullivan of the FBI that they were undertaking a project to examine all the radio traffic between the US and Cuba for clues about the assassination. The messages were to be searched by a computer program because they were too voluminous to be searched manually - pretty impressive for 1963. On 12/3/63 the NSA supposedly told Sullivan the computer didn’t find anything. Three days later, Sullivan wrote up a memo that contained a key bit of new info: the NSA searched all the radio traffic between Dallas and Cuba and New Orleans and Cuba, but according to Sullivan, the NSA claimed they only kept recordings of radio traffic back to 10/6/63.


That just seems like an awfully convenient date. Are there any sources confirming that the NSA really only had tapes back to Oct. 6th? Was this ever investigated? What about Soviet radio traffic? The NSA was monitoring Soviet radio traffic, as shown by the following strange intercept from Jan ‘64 between West Germany and Russia that mentions Oswald in Minsk, so were those recordings ever searched? 


The Church Committee looked into NSA involvement a bit but it appears that the NSA gave them a snow-job. The Committee sent NSA a list of questions that included the following two line items: 

4. We are interested in learning the extent of NSA’s role in assisting the investigation of the assassination…Please provide the staff with a summary of all information NSA developed from Cuban or Soviet transmissions related to the assassination. 

6. In connection with the answers to questions 4 and 5, please indicate whether such material was provided to the Warren Commission and provide copies of all documents evidencing this fact. [Underline in original]

The NSA’s reply is pretty clearly a flat out lie. NSA did not mention anything about the computer search on recordings of Cuban transmissions that was shared with the FBI, nor did they mention anything about there allegedly being no tapes available from prior to 10/6/63. 

https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=220542#relPageId=3 (scroll down for questions) 

Para. 4 - The informal request from Mr. Dulles is the known total extent of NSA’s role in assisting in the investigation. The file discussed in Paragraph 3 is the only file thus far recovered. The is no information that can now be identified which was developed from Cuban or Soviet transmissions related to the assassination. 

The NSA declining to mention their week-long computer project on Cuban transmissions appears to have prevented the Committee from investigating whether or not there were any tapes available from prior to 10/6/63 - and that’s exactly the sort of thing the Church Committee would have done. The NSA also declined to mention that the details of the Cuba computer project appear to have not been shared with the WC.

Does anyone have any other information on NSA involvement in the investigation? I’m particularly interested in seeing NSA internal documents on the Cuba computer project, any confirmation/evidence that the 10/6/63 date was legit, and any information on searches conducted on Soviet transmissions. 

Edited by Tom Gram
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