Russian Disinformation and the Kennedy Assassination - By William Kelly
Disinformation is defined by Merriam-Webster as “false information deliberately and often covertly spread in order to influence public opinion or obscure the truth,” and by Oxford as “false information which is intended to mislead, especially propaganda issued by a government organization to a rival power or the media, a government inspired disinformation campaign.”
Unlike simple misinformation, it isn’t “disinformation” unless its source is a government organization and it is intended to deceive and influence public opinion.
Disinformation and intelligence tradecraft are neutral tactics and techniques developed over centuries and utilized by every national intelligence agency and network, regardless of nationality, though the KGB and CIA are the most proficient and prolific practitioners, especially when it comes to defining exactly what occurred at Dealey Plaza.
The very fact that such intelligence tradecraft and disinformation were utilized at all is evidence if not proof that whatever happened there was not the work of a lone deranged gunman but a much more sophisticated and distinct covert intelligence operation that was designed to shield its actual sponsors by the use of such tactics and deceptions.
As a basic premise, and the only one that is capable of incorporating all of the known facts and evidence, is that the assassination of President Kennedy was conceived and conducted as an intelligence operation, and when viewed as such an operation, it all makes sense, although identifying the MO – Modus Operandi does not name the actual sponsor.
The most prolific disinformation to come out of Dealey Plaza is the original Phase One cover story that the assassination was a conspiracy, albeit a Castro Cuban Commie (– CCC) one. That this disinformation campaign continues today is also indicative that the intelligence network responsible for the Dealey Plaza operation is still functioning. We can see what they call “active measures” in promoting this false conspiracy theory in the works of Brian Latell, Phil Shenon and Bob Baer.
And as House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) investigator Dan Hardway has noted, the source of most of the Castro Cuban Commie allegations can be traced back to those with direct ties to one person – David Atlee Phillips, the director of psychological warfare and propaganda for Operation Success (Guatemala) and the Bay of Pigs, who was responsible for the CIA’s monitoring of the Cuban and Soviet embassies in Mexico City when the accused assassin was there.
On the Soviet side of things, a number of specific disinformation operations have been attributed to them, including the “Dear Mr. Hunt” letter, the financial support given to Mark Lane and Joachim Joesten, the Paese Sera article linking Clay Shaw to the CIA and Robert Lipka, a National Security Agency (NSA) clerk who passed on records to the KGB.
Just as the sources of the CCC disinformation campaign can be traced back to one man, David Atlee Phillips, all of the Soviet disinformation related to the Kennedy assassination can be attributed to one person – Vasili Mitrohkin, the self-described KGB archivist who defected to the British and spilled the beans on the KGB at Dealey Plaza in the book The Sword and the Shield.
When it comes to the KGB files on the accused assassin, Judge John Tunheim, the former chairman of the Assassinations Records Review Board (ARRB) says he saw them – a five foot high filing cabinet of documents in Minsk, and he was aware of even more records in Moscow, where Norman Mailer was given copies of some of them, copies now in the hands of his associate Lawrence Schiller, who refused to copy the ARRB.
Of the Soviet KGB disinformation on the Kennedy assassination, each item can be viewed as a separate operation, and deciphered, using the STASM formula for tracing propaganda, as developed by Paul Linebarger, the former US Army psychological warfare specialist who wrote the book on propaganda.
Linebarger, as a professor at the Center for International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, taught more than one generation of CIA agents, including David Atlee Phillips and Joseph Smith, as well as E. Howard Hunt and Edward Lansdale, who Linebarger described as having “black minds.”
In his book on propaganda, Linebarger outlines his STASM formula for deciphering such disinformation, and we can apply it to each of the case studies that Mitrohkin says were used by the KGB in regards to the Kennedy assassination.
Beginning with the “Dear Mr. Hunt,” letter that the HSCA handwriting experts said was written by the accused assassin, Mitrohkin says that it was an attempt by the KGB to link Oswald with E. Howard Hunt, the CIA officer who became famous during Watergate but was also involved in the Bay of Pigs and Mexico City shenanigans.
While the financial support Mitrohkin says the KGB gave Mark Lane and Joachim Joesten may be used to discredit them both, Lane is quite a controversial character without the KGB support.
As for Joesten, his book “Assassin or Fall Guy” was a major factor in the shaping of European attitudes towards the assassination, and their general recognition that the murder was not only a conspiracy but a coup d’etat. Just one point of reference is Joesten’s chapter/article on the Warren Report’s description of how a German publication had the scoop on Oswald’s link to the Walker shooting. That portion of the Warren Report was written by Pentagon historian Alfred Goldberg, and Joestein’s critique is pretty penetrating.
Max Holland has been giving quite a bit of play to the KGB support for Paese Sera that Holland blames for New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison’s indictment of Clay Shaw.
But the late Bill Turner, who worked closely with Garrison, says that the Paese Sera article did not come to the attention of Garrison until after he began his investigation, sparked by witnesses who linked Oswald with Bannister and Ferrie, especially the Clinton witnesses who testified to the Grand Jury that indicted Shaw.
Of the disinformation operations Mitrohkin says were launched by the KGB to deceive the public about the Kennedy assassination, Robert Lipka is the most interesting yet ignored case. Lipka, a former NSA clerk, was identified by Mitrohkin as a KGB double-agent as a means of establishing Mitrohkin’s bonafides.
Years after he left the NSA Lipka was arrested by the FBI based on Mitrohkin’s report. At his first preliminary hearing Lipka acknowledge having secret NSA documents and passing copies on to the KGB in exchange for money. One of the documents, Lipka said, included the name of the real assassin of President Kennedy.
With that the judge ended the proceedings, but as Lipka was being led away, a reporter asked him what the name of the real assassin and Lipka replied “Luis Angel Castillo.”