John McCone was long suspected of withholding information from the Warren Commission. Now even the CIA says he did.
According to the report by CIA historian David Robarge, McCone, who died in 1991, was at the heart of a “benign cover-up” at the spy agency, intended to keep the commission focused on “what the Agency believed at the time was the ‘best truth’—that Lee Harvey Oswald, for as yet undetermined motives, had acted alone in killing John Kennedy.” The most important information that McCone withheld from the commission in its 1964 investigation, the report found, was the existence, for years, of CIA plots to assassinate Castro, some of which put the CIA in cahoots with the Mafia. Without this information, the commission never even knew to ask the question of whether Oswald had accomplices in Cuba or elsewhere who wanted Kennedy dead in retaliation for the Castro plots.
While raising no question about the essential findings of the Warren Commission, including that Oswald was the gunman in Dallas, the 2013 report is important because it comes close to an official CIA acknowledgement—half a century after the fact—of impropriety in the agency’s dealings with the commission. The cover-up by McCone and others may have been “benign,” in the report’s words, but it was a cover-up nonetheless, denying information to the commission that might have prompted a more aggressive investigation of Oswald’s potential Cuba ties.