Arecent release of declassified documents from the National Archives and Records Administration pertaining to the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy includes an internal CIA memo that skeptically relays — without ruling out completely — a report that the intelligence agency employed assassin Lee Harvey Oswald.
Officially, Oswald acted alone in the Nov. 22, 1963, assassination, firing at the presidential motorcade in Dallas, Texas, from the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository. At the time, Kennedy was riding in an open-top convertible and sustained fatal gunshot wounds.
Oswald was apprehended shortly thereafter, but not before he also killed police officer J.D. Tippit while attempting to flee the scene. He was killed two days later by nightclub owner Jack Ruby, whom authorities then arrested. Ruby was later convicted of Oswald’s murder.
Various conspiracy theories involving Kennedy’s death have persisted for decades, with many permeating popular culture. Sitcoms and video games such as “Seinfeld” and Call of Duty have alluded to claims that Oswald may not have acted alone.
Prominent among such theories is a notion that the CIA orchestrated Kenney’s death in retaliation for his removal of CIA Director Allen Dulles following the botched Bay of Pigs Invasion.
Though the claim of CIA involvement is commonly dismissed as a conspiracy theory, NARA’s declassification of documents has shed light on some potential links between Oswald and the CIA. It was already known that as a Marine Oswald was stationed at Naval Air Facility Atsugi in Japan in 1957. The base was also a hub for the CIA’s psychedelic drug research, and some have already suggested Oswald may have been a subject of the agency’s experiments, according to The Intercept.
However, one of the CIA documents NARA released this month acknowledged the possibility, albeit remote, that Oswald and the CIA had a more direct relationship, with the clandestine organization actually employing him. An internal memorandum from 1978 details repsonses within the CIA to a former finance clerk testifying before the House Select Committee on Assassinations that the agency employed Oswald while he was stationed in Atsugi.