Most people would consider you oddly misguided if you said that Allen Dulles was one of the most consequential figures of the twentieth century, perhaps the most consequential. However, he was the progenitor of the U.S. intelligence complex, and look who’s been running the country the last seventy years. President Eisenhower was Dulles’ enabler. From Kelly Beaucar Vlahos at responsiblestatecraft.org:
Eisenhower’s embrace of covert operations helped to seed the complete breakdown of Americans’ trust in its institutions today.
Today is the 61st anniversary of President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s coining of the Military Industrial Complex in his farewell address, Jan. 17, 1961. His departure and the incoming Kennedy administration would herald, at least in popular lore, the New Frontier. Three years later, the young Kennedy would be dead, an assassination forever at the center of unresolved collective disbelief and mystery. Conspiracy theories have abounded, most all of them involving some level of government cover-up in the aftermath of the assassination.
The latest tranche of declassified JFK documents in December hasn’t helped, for sure. They reaffirm a level of CIA knowledge of suspected lone gunman Harvey Lee Oswald years and weeks before the assassination heretofore unknown. The CIA had long constructed a narrative, beginning during the 1964 Warren Commission investigation of Kennedy’s killing, that the agency’s awareness of Oswald before November 22, 1963 was minimal. We know now, due to all of the documents declassified up through the last year, that the CIA was actively lying.
According to longtime CIA and Kennedy assassination biographer Jefferson Morely, the amount of info the agency had stored up on this so-called lonesome loser before that day in Dallas was “more like maximal”:
By the time President Kennedy left Washington for a political trip to Texas on November 21, 1963 the CIA’s Counterintelligence Staff had a file containing 42 documents detailing Oswald’s whereabouts, politics, personal life, and foreign contacts. The Agency had even intercepted and read his mail, according to a document declassified in 2000. The story of the supposed lone gunman, as told in the Warren Commission report, implied the CIA knew little about him, which simply wasn’t true.
In fact, the men and women of the CIA monitored Oswald’s movements for four years before Kennedy was killed. Indeed, they followed him all the way to Dallas. As I reported in the Daily Beast in 2017, a declassified routing slip shows that CIA counterintelligence chief James Angleton received an FBI report that Oswald was living in Texas on November 15, one week before Kennedy was killed.
We also know — all from internal memos in the CIA’s own hand — that the agency was aware of Oswald’s defection to the Soviet Union in 1959, his return in 1961 with a Russian wife, and his infamous scuffles with pro-Castro and (CIA funded) anti-Castro activists in New Orleans. They knew he had contacted a Soviet intelligence officer in Mexico City in October 1963.