What Jane Roman Said

Part 7: The End of the Paper Trail


And that’s where my story ends. I have no “smoking gun” about who killed Kennedy. I have no JFK conspiracy theory. If you insist that Lee Harvey Oswald fired the fatal shot on November 22, 1963, I would say you are probably right; that does not mean there was no conspiracy. If you insist there was a plot by a faction in the Special Affairs Staff to provoke an invasion of Cuba in late 1963, I would say you might well be right. With the CIA still withholding evidence, the issue is hard to judge.

Certainly, the records of George Joannides’ activities in late 1963 meet the legal definition of “assassination related” records, as defined in the 1992 JFK Assassination Records Act. Yet virtually nothing is known about Joannides' actions in those months. What everybody from Oliver Stone to Ben Bradlee to Arlen Specter can agree on is that the CIA should account for the actions of George Joannides in 1963. As long as it does not, the agency is violating of the spirit and the letter of the JFK Assassination Records Act and the JFK conspiracy question remains open.

As for Jane Roman, she is still alive, and I wish to respect her privacy. I am certain that she did not know what the men from SAS were doing with Oswald in the fall of 1963 nor of George Joannides's peculiar mission to Miami. She knew a lot but she did not know the complex depths of the story of the CIA and Oswald. Like many in the nation's capital, she did not want to know. That is why I can understand and sympathize with her feelings of vexation about my article and her desire to repudiate its implications.

The CIA's own records, even the very incomplete paper trail that John Newman and I possessed in 1994, forced conclusions that she, a loyal, blameless insider preferred not to contemplate: That CIA officers in anti-Castro operations hid the nature of their interest in Lee Harvey Oswald before and after President Kennedy was killed. Their actions may have had the inadvertent effect of insulating Oswald from scrutiny on his way to Dealey Plaza. They certainly prevented a real investigation into the causes of Kennedy’s death. Theirs was the intelligence failure at the heart of the November 22 tragedy, and Jane Roman was an unwilling witness to it.

There lay the story that I pursued in the spirit of Ben Bradlee's challenge, the story for which I was willing to sacrifice the family jewels. Of course, I failed. I didn't get a big front page story. But I did get a nice little yarn that nobody outside (and few inside) the CIA ever knew: the story of the CIA's role in the first JFK conspiracy theory. It may not be a blockbuster, hold the presses type scoop, but, as we say in the journalism trade, it incrementally "advances the story" of the Kennedy assassination. And I didn't lose any gonads along the way.

Thank you, Ben Bradlee.

--Washington, DC

December 17, 2002
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