James B. Wilcott was a CIA accountant who disbursed CIA station funds in Tokyo, Japan. His duties routinely brought him in contact with all station people, and in particular with operational agents. On many occasions he had conversations with CIA personnel concerning Lee Harvey Oswald's employment as a CIA agent. Wilcott swore in a secret session of the House Select Committee on Assassinations that money he himself had disbursed was for "Oswald" or for the "Oswald project." He knew several other CIA employees who knew about the "Oswald project" and knew that Lee Harvey Oswald was paid by the CIA.
Wilcott was told on several occasions that "so and so" (names not mentioned) had worked on the "Oswald project" back in the late 1950s. Wilcott told the HSCA that Oswald was recruited by the CIA for the express purpose of a double agent assignment in the USSR. Following the assassination Wilcott said there was "very heavy talk" from November 22 through January, 1964 about Oswald's connection to the CIA. He also told a Garrison investigator that it was from these conversations that he learned that the "project" (assassination of JFK) may have been under the direction of Allen Dulles and Richard Bissell. It was done, he said, in retaliation for Kennedy reneging on a secret agreement with Dulles to support the invasion of Cuba. Elaborate preparations had been made to firmly put the blame on Castro, and an immediate attack on Cuba would follow the assassination. After Oswald (HARVEY) was killed by Jack Ruby, Wilcott discussed this with a close circle of friends. They had no doubt that Oswald had been a "patsy" and that former gun-runner and "cut-out" Jack Ruby was instructed by the CIA to kill Oswald. After 9 years of employment with the CIA, Wilcott resigned in April, 1966.
The document excerpted below was acquired by John Armstrong after his JFK Lancer presentation in Dallas in 1997. Selected pages from the National Archives are presented graphically; the remainder, to preserve bandwidth, are excerpted typographically. A link to the complete text of Wilcott's testimony is provided near the bottom of this page.
ASSASSINATION OF PRESIDENT JOHN F. KENNEDY
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 22, 1978
House of Representatives,
John F. Kennedy Subcommittee
of the Select Committee on
[. . . . ]
TESTIMONY OF JAMES B. WILCOTT, A FORMER EMPLOYEE
OF THE CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY:
Mr. Goldsmith. For the record, would you please state your name and address and occupation?
Mr. Wilcott. My name is James B. Wilcott. My address is 2761 Atlantic Street, in Concord, and my occupation is electronic technician.
[ . . . . ]
Mr. Goldsmith. And, Mr. Wilcott, is it true that you are a former employee with the CIA and that you are here today testifying voluntarily without a subpoena?
Mr. Wilcott. Yes.
Mr. Goldsmith. During what years did you work for the CIA?
Mr. Wilcott. I worked from the years, May, of 1957 to, April, of 1966.
Mr. Goldsmith. And in what general capacity did you work with the CIA?
Mr. Wilcott. All in the finance--in accounting all of the time.
[. . . .]
Mr. Goldsmith. Drawing your attention to the period immediately after the assassination of President Kennedy, at that time, did you come across any information concerning Lee Harvey Oswald's relationship with the CIA?
Mr. Wilcott. Yes, I did.
Mr. Goldsmith. And will you tell the Committee what that relationship was?
Mr. Wilcott. Well, it was my understanding that Lee Harvey Oswald was an employee of the agency and was an agent of the agency.
Mr. Goldsmith. What do you mean by the term "agent?"
Mr. Wilcott. That he was a regular employee, receiving a full-time salary for agent work for doing CIA operational work.
Mr. Goldsmith. How did this information concerning Oswald first come to your attention?
Mr. Wilcott. The first time I heard about Oswald being connected in any way with CIA was the day after the Kennedy assassination.
Mr. Goldsmith. And how did that come to your attention?
Mr. Wilcott. Well, I was on day duty for the station. It was a guard-type function at the station, which I worked for overtime. There was a lot of excitement going on at the station after the Kennedy assassination. Towards the end of my tour of duty, I heard certain things about Oswald somehow being connected with the agency, and I didn't really believe this when I heard it, and I thought it was absurd. Then, as time went on, I began to hear more things in that line.
Mr. Goldsmith. I think we had better go over that one more time. When, exactly, was the very first time that you heard or came across information that Oswald was an agent?
Mr. Wilcott. I heard references to it the day after the assassination.
Mr. Goldsmith. And who made these references to Oswald being an agent of the CIA?
Mr. Wilcott. I can't remember the exact persons. There was talk about it going on at the station, and several months following at the station.
Mr. Goldsmith. How many people made this reference to Oswald being an agent of the CIA?
Mr. Wilcott. At least--there was at least six or seven people, specifically, who said that they either knew or believed Oswald to be an agent of the CIA.
Mr. Goldsmith. Was Jerry Fox one of the people that made this allegation?
Mr. Wilcott. To the best of my recollection, yes.
Mr. Goldsmith. And who is Jerry Fox?
Mr. Wilcott. Jerry Fox was a Case Officer for his branch, the Soviet Russia Branch, [REDACTED] Station, who purchased information from the Soviets.
Mr. Goldsmith. Mr. Wilcott, did I ask you to prepare a list of CIA Case Officers working at the [REDACTED] Station in 1963?
Mr. Wilcott. Yes, you did. [Witness then recites a lengthy list of case officers and station names, quite a few redacted in this document--jh]
[. . . .]
Mr. Goldsmith. At the time that this allegation first came to your attention, did you discuss it with anyone?
Mr. Wilcott. Oh, yes. I discussed it with my friends and the people that I was associating with socially.
Mr. Goldsmith. Who were your friends that you discussed this with?
Mr. Wilcott. [REDACTED] George Breen, Ed Luck, and [REDACTED].
Mr. Goldsmith. Who was George Breen?
Mr. Wilcott. George Breen was a person in Registry, who was my closest friend while I was in [REDACTED].
Mr. Goldsmith. Was he a CIA employee?
Mr. Wilcott. Yes, he was.
Mr. Goldsmith. And would he corroborate your observation that Oswald was an agent?
Mr. Wilcott. I don't know.
Mr. Goldsmith. At the time that this allegation first came to your attention, did you learn the name of Oswald's Case Officer at the CIA?
Mr. Wilcott. No.
Mr. Goldsmith. Were there any other times during your stay with the CIA at [REDACTED] Station that you came across information that Oswald had been a CIA agent?
Mr. Wilcott. Yes.
Mr. Goldsmith. When was that?
Mr. Wilcott. The specific incident was soon after the Kennedy assassination, where an agent, a Case Officer--I am sure it was a Case Officer--came up to my window to draw money, and he specifically said in the conversation that ensued, he specifically said, "Well, Jim, the money that I drew the last couple of weeks ago or so was money" either for the Oswald project or for Oswald.
Mr. Goldsmith. Do you remember the name of this Case Officer?
Mr. Wilcott. No, I don't.
Mr Goldsmith. Do you remember when specifically this conversation took place?
Mr. Wilcott. Not specifically, only generally.
Mr. Goldsmith. How many months after the assassination was this?
Mr. Wilcott. I think it must have been two or three omths [sic] after the assassination.
Mr. Goldsmith. And do you remember were this conversation took place?
Mr. Wilcott. It was right at my window, my disbursing cage window.
Mr. Goldsmith. Did you discuss this information with anyone?
Mr. Wilcott. Oh, yes.
Mr. Goldsmith. With whom?
Mr. Wilcott. Certainly with George Breen, [REDACTED] the circle of social friends that we had.
Mr. Goldsmith. How do you spell [REDACTED] last name?
Mr. Wilcott. [REDACTED] (spelling).
[. . . .]
Mr. Goldsmith. Did this Case Officer tell you what Oswald's cryptonym was?
Mr. Wilcott. Yes, he mentioned the cryptonym specifically under which the money was drawn.
Mr. Goldsmith. And what did he tell you the cryptonym was?
Mr. Wilcott. I cannot remember.
Mr. Goldsmith. What was your response to this revelation as to what Oswald's cryptonym was? Did you write it down or do anything?
Mr. Wilcott. No; I think that I looked through my advance book--and I had a book where the advances on project were run, and I leafed through them, and I must have at least leafed through them to see if what he said was true.
[Three pages of discussion about Wilcott's "Request for Advance" book follows but is omitted here. --jh]
Mr. Goldsmith. And for purposes of clarification, now, if Oswald was already dead at the time that you went to this book, why did you go back and examine the book?
Mr. Wilcott. Well, I am sorry--if Oswald was what?
Mr. Goldsmith. At the time you went to look at the book, Oswald was already dead, is that correct?
Mr. Wilcott. That is right.
Mr. Goldsmith. Why did you go back to look at the book?
Mr. Wilcott. Well, the payments that were made especially to substations like Oswald's was operated--it was a substation of the [REDACTED] Station, and they had one in [REDACTED] and they had one in [REDACTED]--and it may be six months or even a year after the initial allocation that the final accounting for those funds were submitted, and they would operate out of revolving funds or out of their own personal funds in many cases.
Mr. Goldsmith. So, is your testimony then that even though Oswald was already dead at the time, the book might have contained a reference to either Oswald or the Oswald project and that that reference would have been to a period six months or even a year earlier, is that correct?
Mr. Wilcott. That is correct.
[As far as I can determine from this 54-page typed document, HSCA Counsel Michael Goldsmith never asks Wilcott the essential question, which would be: "Was the Oswald cryptonym you no longer recall in your "Request for Advance" book?" Strange. The most relevant testimony is found on pages 18-19, as follows. --jh]
Mr. Goldsmith. But as a matter of routine, would the CIA cash disbursement files refer to the cryptonym of either the person or the project that is receiving funds?
Mr. Wilcott. Yes, I am sure somewhere.
Mr. Goldsmith. As a matter of routine, there would be that reference? Do you believe that there was such a reference to Oswald?
[Mr. Wilcott.] Yes, I do, and I believe there was such a reference.
The excerpts above present just a small part of Wilcott's sworn testimony at the HSCA Executive Session of 3/22/78. He makes a number of other interesting statements, including how the agency routinely destroyed or altered internal documents when there was public disclosure of an operation (called a "flap"). The transcription of Wilcott's testimony was kept secret for more than three decades, but was referred to briefly in the published HSCA volumes. The HSCA claimed that other CIA employees discounted Wilcott's version, but transcripts of those testimonies were also withheld. Over the years, many others have spoken out:
When researchers began to uncover indications of CIA involvement in the assassination, the CIA sent out memos to media assets offering suggestions as to how to effectively block and impede investigation of the Kennedy assassination by researchers.
* Richard Sprague, chief counsel to the U.S. House Select Committee on Assassinations said, "If he had it to do over again, he would begin his investigation of the Kennedy assassination by probing 'Oswald's ties to the Central Intelligence Agency."
* Sen. Richard Schweiker said, "We do know Oswald had intelligence connections. Everywhere you look with him, there're fingerprints of intelligence."
* Victor Marchetti was the former Executive Assistant to the Deputy Director of the CIA. Marchetti said, "The more I have learned, the more concerned I have become that the government was involved in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy."
* CIA Agent Donald Norton said, "Oswald was with the CIA, and if he did it then you better believe the whole CIA was involved."
* Former CIA agent Joseph Newbrough said, "Oswald was an agent for the CIA and acting under orders."
* CIA Agent John Garrett Underhill told friends, just before he died, "Oswald is a patsy. They set him up. They've killed the President. I've been listening and hearing things. I couldn't believe they'd get away with it, but they did."
* CIA Agent William Gaudet said, "The man who probably knows as much as anybody alive on all of this... is... I still think is Howard Hunt"----CIA Agent and Watergate burglar E. Howard Hunt.
* CIA employee Donald Deneslya read reports of a CIA agent who had worked at a radio factory in Minsk and returned to the US with a Russian wife and child--that agent could only have been Oswald.
* CIA officer David Phillips provided the Warren Commission with information that Oswald was at the Russian and Cuban embassies in Mexico City, then later admitted that the information he had provided was false.
* Marvin Watson, an adviser to President Lyndon Johnson, said that Johnson had told him that he was convinced that there was a plot in connection with the assassination. Watson said the President felt the CIA had something to do with this plot.