Russo, Castro, Oswald, & Santa Claus: Welcome to the Jim Angleton Magic Show

Memo to the File, January 5, 2006

RE: Rendezvous with Death, the new film by Russo (& Huisman)

This recently released documentary — also referred to as Ultimate Secret, by Gus Russo — has interviews conducted by Russo et al., with people formerly affiliated with the FBI, CIA and Cuban intelligence service. The new film purports to reveal the “ultimate secret” — i.e., that Oswald, when in Mexico City, just seven weeks before Dallas, expressed a desire to kill JFK, and that Cuban intelligence used him for this very purpose.

Hence, the assassination of JFK in Dallas, just seven weeks later.

This is the same basic theme that LBJ was pushing to select confidants and insiders in the days, weeks, months, and years following his accession to the presidency, and was first reported by network news anchor Howard K. Smith, on June 24, 1976: “Kennedy was trying to get to Castro, but Castro got him first,” Footnote reported Smith, who said he tried to get more information, but was unsuccessful. “I begged for details,” Mr. Smith added. “He refused, saying it will all come out one day.” Footnote (italics added by the author).

As events have played out, Gus Russo and Wilfried Huismann have become history’s handmaidens, the midwives for delivery of this false story to posterity.

Here’s how the official Reuters release (about this film) begins:


BERLIN (Reuters) - Cuba lay behind the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy by Lee Harvey Oswald and its agents provided the gunman with money and support, an award-winning German director says in a new documentary film.

Let’s tread carefully before we rush to implicate a foreign government in the Kennedy assassination, and particularly one led by a man who is still alive today, who was trying to make peace with JFK at the time, and was genuinely shocked and upset by his assassination. Furthermore, Castro is someone who immediately said — very loudly and very publicly — that Oswald’s trip to Mexico City (and what he did there) were nothing but a well organized provocation whose objective was to make Cuba appear responsible for JFK’s murder. Footnote That was true then, and it is just as accurate today: Whatever his faults, Castro spoke “truth to power” just days after JFK’s assassination. Moreover, in private Castro was plenty upset. According to a debriefing of someone on the Castro household staff conducted by none other than E. Howard Hunt (and testified to by Hunt during his [security classified] 1978 HSCA appearance):


The burden of her story was that a pall of gloom had settled over the Fidel Castro household on the announcement of President Kennedy’s death because, according to her. . . Mr. Kennedy and Mr. Castro were on the verge of working out some sort of an agreement, a detente, if you will, an arrangement which would permit both countries to live without the tensions that had existed. Footnote

To those who have followed my work — and particularly, those who share my belief that the autopsy in this case was at best unreliable (and more realistically, deliberately false, due to alteration of the wounds and the concomitant falsification of the autopsy conclusions re bullet trajectories) — please don’t be misled. All this new “Mexico City information” — assuming it to be based on factual data — is nothing more than part of the paraphernalia of the Dallas set-up. That’s what I believe was going on in Mexico City, seven weeks before JFK’s death, and much of what follows stems from research connected with my forthcoming work, FINAL CHARADE:Lee Oswald and the Assassination of JFK.

LBJ’s statement to newsman Smith (and to others) represents the basic architecture (ideologically speaking) of the Kennedy assassination and (in my opinion) the Dallas frame-up of Oswald, which followed. Previously, the charge has been made that Oswald was set up for a crime he did not commit; and that (as he himself publicly said) he was a “patsy.” It is becoming increasingly clear that this notion can (and should) be extended to RFK as well, and the events in Mexico City are crucial to understanding how all this was designed, and played out.

Oswald (who adored JFK, according to his wife, Marina Footnote ) thought he was on a mission sanctioned by Robert Kennedy, the President’s brother, and then Attorney General. Oswald pretended to be an assassin, at the instigation of those who were manipulating him (and deceiving him) and whom he viewed as legitimate handlers. Essentially, Oswald was on a “dangle” mission, and what he did in Mexico City was no more real than his phony offer of “radar secrets” to the Russians at the time of his defection to the U.S.S.R. four years earlier (October, 1959). In his mind, Oswald’s “real” mission was to detect any evidence of an assassination plot; hence, while in Mexico City, he behaved provocatively, and trafficked in “offers” and conversations about such matters. Hence, the Russo-Huismann “evidence.”

Both occasions — the 1959 defection, and the visit to Mexico City in the fall of 1963 — were steeped in pretense. In fact, Oswald was an outstanding role player. In whatever role he played, he exuded verisimilitude. That’s probably why George DeMohrenschildt, his good friend, called him an “actor in real life.” Back in 1959, Oswald was a false Marxist claiming to possess “radar secrets.” In Mexico City, between September 27 and October 2, Oswald behaved as a “pretend assassin.” A true Kennedy admirer, he was no more an assassin than a DEA agent — working undercover — would be considered a “drug dealer.” Indeed, Oswald’s behavior in Mexico City is as contrived as was his 1959 phony defection to the U.S.S.R. In general, these are the kinds of projects conceived of and run by someone in counter-intelligence, someone for whom the world is one big costume party, and where people often wear masks (i.e. engage in elaborate pretense and role playing). In short, such operations are designed by someone like James Angleton, the former CIA official in charge of Counter-Intelligence.

Russo and his filmmaker-partner (Wilfried Huismann) have bought into a completely contrived and well acted out play — let’s call it the Jim Angleton Magic Show — decades after the event (42 years later, to be precise); and they are presently attempting to foist a discredited story on the public, virtually blaming Castro for JFK’s assassination in 2006. So fasten your seatbelts, because different aspects of what LBJ was whispering about in private have now been recorded in “hi-def” video and will soon be delivered by Russo and Huismann to a theater near you. (Or, if you get the DVD, you can buy a big bag of popcorn, and enjoy the show at home).

This same story — essentially Red-baiting in the international arena, and as false now as it was back then — was very likely suppressed by LBJ and RFK at the time because it was not just dirty laundry, but phony dirty laundry, as well, and recognized as such.

Don’t you believe it now. What Oswald did in Mexico City was entirely an act. The “live performance” was between September 27 and October 2, 1963, when Oswald was actually there What he did then represented not only a crucial stage in his own entrapment, but that of RFK as well.

Then came the exploitation of the same tale by LBJ in the days following Dallas — to RFK and other top JFK advisors — to create the false appearance that RFK was responsible for his own brother’s death. This was almost certainly the great secret that had to be kept from the American public, the “truth that was too terrible to know.” Very likely, it is why Chief Justice Earl Warren, who reluctantly agreed to head a Presidential Commission, left LBJ’s presence–reportedly, in tears — and later told a New York Times reporter that the full truth “might not be [known] in your lifetime.” Footnote He added: “there may be some things that would involve security. This would be preserved but not made public.” Footnote Certainly, some version of it was told by LBJ to JFK Special Assistant Theodore Sorensen on Saturday, November 23, the day after JFK’s death, when Sorensen met with LBJ at the Oval Office. Sorensen told William Manchester that LBJ attempted to show him evidence of the involvement of a “foreign power”. Sorensen looked at it, and told him it was “meaningless.” Footnote The next day (November 24), according to Al Haig’s memoir — Inner Circles (published in 1991) — LBJ attended a meeting of top military officials at the Pentagon and hit the same theme: LBJ said that Castro was responsible for JFK’s death. Footnote

Unfortunately, the story has now been reborn, and very likely because, while in Mexico City, Oswald made quite a splash, the entire matter was not properly investigated, and not everything he did or said was revealed at the time. So now there is “new evidence” to be found, new innings to be played in this politically messy game. Now Russo and Huismann have unearthed some of that data, and it is like “bonus material” on a DVD. Russo is enthusiastic, if not ecstatic. “As Willi told me during the editing stage,” he says, “We have an abundance of riches.” Well, sure they do — but (assuming the data to be genuine) it is nothing more than additional scenes from the same hoary play. So we are now witnessing reruns in the two-generations-later “aftermarket” — reruns produced and directed by Russo and Huismann, who have unearthed more scenes in a discredited play, and what perhaps ought to be called: “Oswald in Mexico City — The Movie.” The two are following a trail of breadcrumbs — often involving Oswald’s exaggerated and almost comical play-acting — first laid down 42 years ago, in the fall of 1963, and by the architects of JFK’s assassination; but Russo and Huismann actually believe they have found the greatest truth since Mother and Apple Pie. In fact, they are engaged in a bizarre attempt at resurrection, one which begins by putting lipstick on a corpse.

These two filmmakers are now joined in this enterprise by two former U.S. officials, Al Haig and Joe Califano, both of whom will surely lend an aura of credibility to this whole affair: Neither Haig nor Califano were (in the vernacular of covert operations) “witting.” They were unwitting at the time, and apparently remain so to this day. Looking back at what they witnessed when they were young men in government just prior to and shortly after November 22, 1963 (and certainly they would never doubt what LBJ told them — perish the thought!) they truly believe they are sitting on one of the great secrets of all time (which is perhaps why Gus Russo, in a recent email, refers to it as “Ultimate Secret/My new documentary”). But, when examined closely, this story is nothing more than the old “Castro did it” scenario — an “insider’s cover story” based on Oswald’s provocative role-playing, and which was duly reported and presented to LBJ, who then passed it on to Sorensen, to Haig and Califano (and probably others high in JFK’s and/or LBJ’s inner circle) back in that era.

To anyone who cared about Kennedy and his legacy, it must have been frightening, immobilizing, and embarrassing. It had a superficial air of plausibility, and it still does: After all, there were assassination plots, and they did have RFK’s backing. (So is that what Dallas was all about? They must have wondered.)

So: Haig and Califano were among the earliest attendees at what I call the Jim Angleton Magic Show. Wide-eyed and credulous, they bought it then — hook, line, and sinker — and now they are going through it once again, on camera, basically repeating the same political mantra LBJ used way back then to explain Dallas: Kennedy was trying to kill Castro, but Castro got him first.

In the preceding sentence, most of what follows the comma depends on the validity of the autopsy conclusions and, concomitantly, the sniper’s nest evidence. Essentially, it is the proposition that Oswald was the assassin. Much of what precedes the comma depends on the authenticity of what Oswald did in Mexico City conjoined with the idea that Castro was planning a pre-emptive strike. But there is no natural nexus between these two propositions. Putting a comma between these statements does not establish causality, in reality.

So now, along we come, the “civilian” audience, in 2006. We are now privileged to be let in on further details this previously unknown “secret”; and to witness the breathless re-telling of this discredited tale, by officials who first heard it directly from LBJ’s own lips.

My forthcoming work, FINAL CHARADE, will address the entire affair in considerable detail. My work will explain how this sophisticated scheme was first concocted, and then implemented, and how it was masterfully integrated into the mechanism for neutralizing RFK — the Attorney General of the United States, at the time — by making RFK believe himself to be responsible for his beloved brother’s death.

But that was then, and this is now. The whole Russo/Huismann story has more holes than Swiss cheese. How, one wonders, can they take this at face value? How, at this late date, can they truly believe that Fidel Castro was responsible for Kennedy’s assassination? Do they also believe that Santa Claus comes down the chimney??

Wherever he is, LBJ must be looking down on them and smiling broadly.

He died in January, 1973; now its 2006.

Ho! Ho! Ho! And a Happy New Year to all.

David S. Lifton

Author: Best Evidence: Disguise and Deception in the Assassination of JFK


Email: dlifton2003@yahoo.com

Phone: 310 445 2300

Fax:    310 943 3899