Lee Harvey Oswald was a KGB associate who was personally instructed by Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev to assassinate President Kennedy. Sometime shortly thereafter, the Soviets changed their minds, and Oswald was told to drop the plan. But Oswald, harboring a blinding love for all things USSR, refused.
A new book by two former intelligence chiefs — one from the west, one from the east — tosses this tale on the voluminous pile of JFK assassination theories.
“Operation Dragon: Inside The Kremlin’s Secret War on America,” (Encounter Books), was written by Ambassador R. James Woolsey, who ran the CIA from 1993-1995 (and who, ironically, resigned abruptly during the scandal over Aldrich Ames, a CIA officer turned Russian double agent), and Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa, a former acting chief of Communist Romania’s espionage service and the “highest-ranking intelligence official from an enemy country ever granted political asylum in the United States” (Pacepa died of COVID earlier this month).
The authors claim that all the evidence needed to make their case is contained in the 26-volume Warren Commission Report, but that so much of it is “codified” that no one understood its significance until now.
“Decoded, these pieces of evidence prove that John F. Kennedy’s assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, had a clandestine meeting in Mexico City with his Soviet case officer, ‘comrade Kostin,’ ” the authors write, “who … belongs to the KGB’s Thirteenth Department for assassinations abroad.”
According to the authors, the Soviets recruited Oswald in 1957, when he was a US Marine serving in Japan. After working clandestine missions for them for several years — including providing the information that allowed them to shoot down American pilot Gary Powers in 1960 — he was assigned in 1962, possibly by Khrushchev himself, to begin preparations to assassinate President Kennedy.
“Although Oswald wished to remain in the Soviet Union, he was eventually persuaded to return to the US to assassinate President Kennedy, whom Khrushchev had come to despise,” they write. “Oswald was … given a Soviet wife and sent back to the US in June 1962.”
According to the authors, sometime between that June and April 1963, the Soviets changed their minds, and recalled the assignment. Oswald, though, was too gung-ho, and was set on seeing it through.
“Oswald knew that Nikita Khrushchev, the leader of Oswald’s paradise and new home, the Soviet Union, had entrusted him with that task, and he was confident he could pull it off,” the authors write. “By this time, however, the KGB and [the country’s] leaders realized that Khrushchev’s crazy ideas were giving their country a terrible reputation . . . another false step by the hot-headed Khrushchev, and there might be nuclear war.”
The authors offer no evidence of an assassination order, or of any order to reverse course. They do offer evidence, often in the form of letters, of Oswald meeting with KGB agents, and other preparations for Oswald and his family to return to the Soviet Union once he completed his mission.
In one such letter, Oswald wrote to the Soviet Embassy on July 1, 1963, asking for separate visas for him and his wife and daughters. The authors believe this makes it clear that “Oswald wanted to see his wife and children back in the Soviet Union before assassinating President Kennedy and that he required a separate entry visa for himself to [use] after accomplishing his mission.”
Another, dated November 9 of that year — just two weeks before Kennedy’s assassination — was written after Oswald returned from a trip to Mexico City, and references a meeting with “Comrade Kostin,” who the authors identify as “Valery Kostikov, an identified PGU officer of the Thirteenth Department.”
The authors also offer what they consider evidence of Soviet efforts at disinformation after the fact, as they tried to convince the world that the assassination was driven by any entity but the Soviet Union.
One such piece of evidence is the first book released along these lines, “Oswald: Assassin or Fall Guy?” which hit bookstores in 1964. The book claims that Oswald was “an FBI agent provocateur with a CIA background,” and that he was the fall guy for the real culprits, which included “some officials of the CIA and FBI” along with “reactionary oil billionaires such as H.L. Hunt.”
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They also claim that the book’s author, Joachim Joesten, was “a German-born American Communist identified as a PGU agent,” and that the book’s publisher was similarly connected.
Whatever the veracity of the author’s claims, people intrigued by the Kennedy assassination will find much here to be enthralled by. If the case they lay out is not exactly iron-clad, their certainty is undeniable.
“In the end, there is no doubt that Lee Harvey Oswald was trained by the KGB to commit the assassination of President John F. Kennedy,” the authors write.
“Even after the KGB ordered Oswald to stand down, Oswald stubbornly went ahead with what he considered his personal mission as bestowed upon him by his hero, Khrushchev.”