In the midst of CIA and Warren Commission denials, this is an important fact-based book. I put it up in the same class as Seth Kantor's book about Jack Ruby, perhaps even a bit higher. Mr. Newman, no stranger to the intelligence game, uses his considerable experience to move a few headstones, where skeletons are buried, around the courtyard at Langley, headstones that a normal reporter or writer might be unable to lift and move at all. What he discovers constitutes the content of this book.
As he goes methodically about the task of composing his narrative, he neither hedges nor anticipates where the facts might lead. He simply lays them out in great detail exactly as he finds them. Needless to say, in the JFK assassination literature, careful fact-finding without heavy-handed interpretation is a sorely needed literary and research attribute. That alone makes this book an academic if not a literary success.
The CIA denials as they ascended the organizational ladder at Langley, started out badly enough and then just continued getting worse -- curiouser and curiouser. When Oswald supposedly defected in 1959, unlike the FBI, which kept a running file on him that it updated as needed, the CIA on the other hand, feigned no interest in him at all? They said the only file they had on this marine who had worked on the highly secret U2 Spy Plane radar system at Atsugi Airfield in Japan, was composed of news clippings of his defection?
Even the cables from Ambassador Richard Snyder at Moscow Station attesting to Oswald's alleged defection and his vow to release U2 secrets, somehow, we are led to believe, did not reach the threshold to trigger CIA interest in him? In fact, as late as February 1964, well after the JFK assassination, the CIA insisted that these important cables from Moscow had somehow gotten lost. And even after having found them, it claimed not to have known who at the CIA might have received and handled them? Given such sloppiness, one cannot avoid wondering what might have happened had Oswald been a "real" rather than a "fake" defector? Not only this, but the CIA's feigned disinterest in Oswald looked utterly ridiculous and wholly disingenuous in the aftermath of a virtual treasure trove of documents on him that eventually emerged from the FOIA searches within the CIA itself, searches that were put to good use here as the primary resource for Newman's analysis.
This work reveals that the author has uncovered a virtual "smoking gun" of highly compartmentalized, multi-level and multi departmental information on Oswald. Perhaps the most important of all is Oswald's role in Mexico and the CIA's direct involvement in manipulating him and his double while he was there. Some have referred to this as the "Rosetta Stone" of the JFK assassination itself.
These data resoundingly refute all CIA denials, and serve to prove that interest in him was not only extensive, and at a very high level indeed, so high in fact that it went directly up the command chain to the very top of the CIA's organizational chart. Combine this with the fact that there was also an equal trail of circumstantial evidence that showed Oswald to actually be on the CIA's payroll, and the denials from the agency's top brass, raise a great many more grave questions than they answer. Here John Newman has succeeded in answering virtually all of them.
That the CIA hierarchy blatantly lied about their own files on Oswald is curious enough in itself, but even more curious is the fact that they did so at a time when the alternative to not knowing about Oswald's defection amounted to revealing the CIA itself as being completely incompetent? Thus when everything is taken together -- the denials of "higher-ups," coupled with the contravening facts to the contrary -- the FOIA data, betray a much larger deeper CIA interest in Oswald, one that was so important and so secret as to require them lying about it? Such "required lying" of course begs the following question: What indeed was so important about Oswald that it required blanket denials from someone as high up the CIA's organizational chart as the Director of Plans, Richard Helms, the agency's highest operational spy? Helms later would become CIA director, where he would then actually be forced into retirement and then ignominiously convicted of perjury.
The correct answer to the question of course is the one the author uncovers; it is also the most obvious one: Oswald's defection was little more than a spy vs spy ruse, one designed to "sheep dip" Lee in operational intelligence as a "dangle" to Soviet intelligence. However, since the Russians did not bite, the CIA's attempt to make Oswald a double agent, failed, and his return to the U.S. empty-handed (but with a Russian wife in tow), turned out to be just another of many failed CIA intelligence operations. That failure in itself could have been enough of a pretext for the Agency to lie about it. However, the way Oswald was moved about on the pre-assassination chessboard (to Mexico, etc.), after his return from Russia, reveals determined manipulators controlling him with a much more sinister purpose in mind. Here Newman tells us what that purpose was; and that only Langley had tentacles long and strong enough to manipulate the man who would become the JFK assassination patsy. This is a most important read. Five Stars