January 9, 2008
Former President Gerald Ford in 2004
Former President Ford Admits
CIA Compromised the Warren
of JFK Assassination
In his final public words, former President Gerald R. Ford
said the CIA destroyed or kept from investigators critical secrets connected to
the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The stunning admission by
Ford�a member of the Warren Commission that investigated the JFK
assassination�is contained in the foreword to a new edition of the commission's
A Presidential Legacy and The Warren Commission. Ford died in
late 2006 at the age of 93.
In the new book, Ford said the commission's probe put
"certain classified and potentially damaging operations in danger of being
exposed." The CIA's reaction, he added, "was to hide or destroy some
information, which can easily be misinterpreted as collusion in JFK's
Ford family spokeswoman Penny Circle confirms that the
ex-president approved the foreword and even autographed 3,000 copies of the new
book�a joint venture between Ford and the book's publisher, Tim Miller of
Nashville. Circle says she acted as an intermediary between the two men, who
Ford's charge of a CIA cover-up is accompanied by a new
concession by Ford�that there "conceivably" could have been a conspiracy to kill
JFK, but that "no verified evidence to date shows a link to, or any direct
involvement by any government agency, federal employees or subversive groups."
Now there's a very carefully worded statement for
you. Particularly the use of "verified," "to date" and "direct." The former
president also conveniently leaves out Mafia leaders, the chief suspects of
House assassination investigators who, in the mid-1970s, found a "probable
In his new statement, Ford does mention CIA efforts to
assassinate Cuban leader Fidel Castro. But he does not mention that the agency,
as only recently confirmed by the CIA itself, worked in lockstep with the Mob in
trying to bump off Cuba's president, beginning around 1960.
The closest Ford comes to touching on this particular CIA
sore subject is a glancing reference: "The reason some things appear to be
suspicious (about the JFK assassination) was possibly because there were people
who apparently did have things to hide. It came out later that there was a
government-sanctioned plot to kill Fidel Castro. There seemed also to have been
a scramble to cover that up, which did interfere marginally with our
investigation, as I testified (to House investigators)."
Two other U.S. presidents have expressed doubts about the
commission's finding that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in the JFK
assassination. On tapes released in recent years, Lyndon B. Johnson said he did
not believe the single gunman theory; and Richard M. Nixon said the commission
pulled off "the greatest hoax that has ever been perpetuated."
It is also now known that Ford made a key change in the
commission's final report�a change that made the single-shooter theory easier to
believe. He revised the description of the bullet wound in President Kennedy's
back and placed it higher to make "the magic bullet" theory plausible, enabling
the commission to conclude that Oswald was the lone gunman.
Recently released FBI memos show that Ford served as FBI
Director J. Edgar Hoover's informant on the commission. Hoover, of course, had
proclaimed Oswald the lone killer long before the Warren Commission had even
In his news release promoting the "final word" of
President Ford, the book's publisher, Tim Miller, goes even farther than Ford.
Miller flatly declares: "There was a conspiracy to kill John F. Kennedy. There
is no doubt that President Gerald Ford knew more about the JFK death. There is
no doubt President Clinton knows more. Has he or any other U.S. president since
November 22, 1963 ever swore under oath that they know no more?"
Penny Circle, the Ford spokeswoman, thinks Miller has gone
overboard in some of his promotional comments: "Miller's press release stating
that he worked closely with President Ford and edited as they went along is
preposterous. Also, his statement that he believes 'Ford and others knew
more about the assassination,' is nuts �"
Circle, it seems, has a right to beef about some of
Miller's questionable statements. Just a few examples:
- On his Web site (which he says gets an amazing
600,000 "hits" a year), Miller gives rave reviews to his own Ford-foreworded
book: Time is ecstatic, saying "Should become one of the best-thumbed
books since the Bible," while Newsweek raves, "The pages crackle with
the electricity of human feeling." When called on this, Miller explains he
got the blurbs from 1964 issues of these magazines. They were
apparently clipped from reviews of the original Warren Report.
- When he made a pre-publication appearance on G.
Gordon Liddy's radio show, Miller said of Ford: "I am privileged to
have known him."
- Yet, both he and Circle acknowledge the two men never
set eyes on each other. (Miller offered Liddy's listeners $200 off the
high-priced version of the book in honor of the disgraced Watergate burglary
- A longtime authority on antiquarian and fraudulent
books, Ken Sanders, complains of repeated run-ins with Miller and his
company, Flatsigned. "During my six years as security chair for the ABAA
(Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America), Ken Lopez, then ABAA
president and myself devoted a lot of time and energy tracking and
documenting the allegedly fraudulent autograph activities of Tim Miller and
Flatsigned." Sanders also said his organization forwarded "a large dossier
on Miller" to the Tennessee Attorney General's Office. "To my knowledge," he
adds, "we never heard back from anyone."
Both Miller and Circle decline to disclose exactly how
Ford managed to "write" his final words. Nor do they say just how this project
came about. Some might question why Ford would entrust such an important piece
of history to a stranger with a somewhat shady background.
Just how was an elderly man able to write a new foreword
to the Warren Report and autograph 3,000 copies of the pricey (starts at $889)
tome? The answer might be a relatively new device called LongPen. Developed by
author Margaret Atwood, LongPen is a long-distance book-signing device. The
LongPen Web site brags that it is "the world's first long distance, real-time,
real pen and ink autographing device operated over the Internet." Atwood once
said of her conception: "You don't have to be in the same room as someone to
have a meaningful exchange."
Others may solve that mystery of just how Ford's final
words came to be written someday, but�in the meantime�let's look at just how far
Ford has now strayed from his once solid commitment to the anti-conspiracy,
lone-killer position. A long way, it seems.
One of the president's best friends in the press, Tom
DeFrank, says Ford never had any doubts about the Warren Commission's
conclusions. In a 1992 interview, the ex-president told the reporter: "I signed
the report. I've never changed my opinion. I feel as strongly today, Tom, on the
two basic fundamental issues. Number one, Lee Harvey Oswald was the assassin.
Number two, the commission found no evidence of conspiracy, foreign or
DeFrank discloses the conversation he had with Ford in his
Write It When I'm Gone. In 2003, according to DeFrank, Ford
told historian Douglas Brinkley: "I am a total devoted person to the
(commission's) conclusions. But 75 percent of the people don't believe the
Warren Commission anymore. It just makes me sad and unhappy." A longtime White
House correspondent for Newsweek, DeFrank is now the Washington bureau
chief of the New York Daily News.
The newest remarks by Ford are certain to reignite the
always fascinating and always fiery JFK assassination controversy, which has
already caused more than 2,000 books to be written and published. Some two-dozen
Web sites cover the internationally popular topic. At least a couple of expert
opinions are already in.
Veteran Washington investigative reporter Dan Moldea, an
authority on the Mafia's ties to the JFK murder and the author of
Wars, declares, "Had the Warren Commission known about the CIA-Mafia plots
to kill Castro, a new avenue of investigation would have been created. CIA
Director Allen Dulles, a commission member who had intimate knowledge of these
plots, chose to engage in a cover-up, which doomed this investigation from the
outset. The Mafia murdered an American President and got away with it."
Debra Conway runs JFK Lancer, a leading pro-conspiracy
assassination research group and Web site. After being informed of Ford's final
words, she weighs in: "If he admits to having doubts about the honesty of the
CIA and that he knows they withheld and destroyed evidence that may have
affected their investigation, it takes the worth out of his previous statements
where he claims that not only did the Warren Commission not find any evidence
other than Lee Harvey Oswald acting alone, but that since then he has never seen
any." Conway also provides an astute guess as to what might have been in Ford's
mind when he made his death-bed confession: "It sort of takes the Warren
Commission off the hook, if (the commission) can claim plausible deniability due
to the CIA."
Don Fulsom covered the Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Reagan and
Clinton presidencies. He is an adjunct professor of government at American
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