FBI papers on Kennedy slaying released


WASHINGTON -- Cuban leader Fidel Castro, while denying complicity by his nation in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, believed the 1963 murder resulted from a conspiracy of perhaps three people, according to previously secret FBI documents.

Mr. Castro also was quoted as saying that accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald became angry and threatened to kill Kennedy when he was denied a visa by the Cuban Embassy in Mexico City earlier in 1963.

Many of more than 10,000 FBI reports and memos, which the National Archives made public yesterday, added some footnotes history by recounting the reactions to Kennedy's assassination in Cuba and in the former Soviet Union.

But they did not alter the FBI's conclusion -- and that of the Warren Commission -- that Oswald acted alone and that foreign powers were not involved.

Release of the newest files brought to more than 900,000 the number of once-classified CIA and FBI records that have been made public in response to the Congressional JFK Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992.

The newly-released documents came from the FBI's previously secret file known as Operation SOLO, which involved the bureau's focus on links between the U.S. Communist Party and the Soviet Union, and from investigative files on Chicago organized crime figures Sam Giancana and Gus Alex that were examined in 1978 by a special House committee that reviewed the Warren Commission's investigation.

The House panel questioned whether a single gunman such as Oswald could have fired all the shots. It also concluded that organized crime elements might have participated in the slaying.

Among the newly released documents was a June 17, 1964, report from the late J. Edgar Hoover, director of the FBI, which imparted information gleaned from an unnamed FBI source whom Mr. Hoover deemed "reliable."

The document said that Castro ordered his own tests made on a similar rifle and concluded "that Oswald could not have fired three times in succession and hit the target with the telescopic sight in the available time" and that therefore "it took about three people."

FBI experts, however -- using the same rifle as Oswald -- determined that three shots could have been fired by one person within the five to six seconds from a sniper's perch on the sixth floor of the old Texas School Book Depository in Dallas.

Suggesting a motive for the slaying, Hoover quoted Mr. Castro as saying that Oswald "stormed into the embassy, demanded the visa and when it was refused to him headed out saying 'I'm going to kill Kennedy for this.' " Cuban officials had denied Oswald entry to their country on grounds that the United States was openly hostile to them, Hoover's letter said.

Another formerly secret FBI memo, dated Dec. 1, 1966, reported a largely compassionate Russian reaction to the assassination.

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