Date: Thursday, January 23, 1997
Commenced: 1:45 PM CST
Concluded: 2:12 PM CST
RTC: Good morning, Gregory. What can we do for you today?
GD: I don’t mean to bother you, Robert, but I am doing some research on this Kennedy thing and I have a couple of questions for you.
RTC: I’ll do what I can.
GD: If it’s a problem….
RTC: No, not at all.
GD: You were telling me Oswald was not involved. Why would anyone want to stick him with the thing?
RTC: He served his purpose. Jim Angleton was determined to blame the killing on the Russians. He hated them and Jim was a very single minded man and very determined. I guess later he began to get a little crazy but at that time, he was very good at his job. Look at it this way: Oswald was a public Marxist. He was ordered to be a Marxist by both the ONI and us. He defected to Russia. He married the niece of a top MVD officer. He came back to the States, pretending to be pro-Castro. He lived in Dallas when Dallas was chosen to be the place where Kennedy was nailed out in public. You see, Jim wanted Russia blamed for the killing. He basically wanted to have all paths lead to Moscow.
GD: He was inviting a war.
RTC: Of course he was. He wanted a war with Russia and said so many times to me and the DCI among others. Now when Oswald came back, he was still connected and got this classified job with the photography company. We do that for our people. If we hadn’t smoothed his way, he never would have gotten the job there. But he never knew a thing about the Kennedy business. He was a very convenient patsy with a wonderful and provable background of being a Soviet sympathizer.
GD: I know you were a friend of Angleton and I’m not questioning his intelligence. Mueller told me about him. He personally thought he was crazy however.
RTC: At the end, everyone else thought so. Towards the end, Jim became obsessed with things better left unsaid. He thought the entire Company was infiltrated by the KGB and that Colby himself, he was the DCI at that point, was a Soviet agent. And then there was the Nosenko business. That was this so-called KRG defector. You see, the Russians got wind of what Angleton was up to, stirring up a war and all that, and they sent this Nosenko over to us as a fake defector. His most important mission was to convince everyone that Oswald had nothing to do with their agency and they had nothing to do with him. In short, they had no prior knowledge of the Kennedy business. This terrified Jim who got his hands on Nosenko and locked him up down on the Farm for two years. Put him in solitary and kept everyone away from him. Jim was afraid others would believe Nosenko and then start looking where they should not. Finally, and it really saddened me, Jim got so crazy that they forced him out and cut his department back to almost nothing. Jim had lung cancer…my God, the man smoked like a chimney…and I remember my last visit with him. He died in ’87. We met him at the Army/Navy Club for dinner. Very, very sad occasion. He was a great man, or he had been in his prime, and to see him slowly dying and forced out by that asshole Colby was devastating.
GD: What happened to the Ukrainian?
RTC: What Ukrainian?
GD: Nosenko is a Ukrainian name, Robert. Ends with an O.
RTC: Whatever happened to him? They let him out, got him a set of new teeth and paid him a stipend for his troubles.
GD: Was he telling the truth?
RTC: Oh yes, of course. The Russians had nothing to do with the business. They are far too professional to use someone with such connections with them. A defector, married to the niece of a top intelligence officer, spouting Marxist propaganda on the street corners? No, they would have done what they did when they tried to kill the Pope in ‘81. Get the Bulgarians to hire a right wing Turkish terrorist. Plausible deniability.
GD: The favorite words of Ronnie Reagan.
RTC: Exactly so. No, Oswald had much closer connections with American intelligence that with the Russians and we both knew it. Jim did not know it, believe me. Once he got something in his head, he never let go of it. At the end, before they gave him the sack, he was probably paranoid beyond redemption. Not stupid but very deluded. He saw moles everywhere. He thought LBJ was a spy and half of Congress for God’s sake. And his fondness for college students was getting a little obvious. A genuine tragedy, Gregory, a fine mind gone to seed.
GD: Male college students. Mueller caught him in bed with one at the Plaza.
RTC: Leave town and enter a new and dangerous world.
(Concluded at 2:12 PM CST)