"Oswald and the CIA," by John Newman. 627 pages. New York: Carroll & Graf. $28
In his current book, John Newman, a military intelligence officer for 20 years, subjects to minute examination some 2 million pages of documents released under the JFK Records Act of 1992.
Mr. Newman makes clear that his larger purpose is to "restore faith in government." He is at pains to pay tribute to the CIA and its "greatest accomplishments" and to his colleagues in the NSA, CIA and DIA.
It is from this vantage that Newman unfolds how the files on Lee Harvey Oswald were concealed, falsified and altered by a labyrinth of agencies each engaged in clandestine operations.
While demonstrating Oswald's integral ties to these agencies, Newman discloses that domestic no less than overseas spying, infiltration, theft, alteration of U.S. citizen's mail, malicious invention of scandal, pitting individuals and organizations against each other through planted documents, destruction of livelihoods are standard operating procedure for the enforcement arm of the state in America.
The documents confirm that official murder, "executive action," within and without the United States involved such Mafia leaders as Johnny Roselli and Sam Giancana.
It requires what the Jesuits call "invincible ignorance" to insulate ruling circles in the U.S. from responsibility that deserves neither faith nor confidence on the part of the American people.
In raising Oswald's relationship to U.S. intelligence agencies, Newman relies exclusively on documents disgorged reluctantly after 30 years. His assumption that the chain of command in the murder of a President will surface unaltered in documents released by the culprits is naive.
In 30 years, multiple investigators have documented Oswald's role in U.S. intelligence. Mr. Newman makes but passing reference to the findings of Jim Garrison, Mark Lane, Harold Weisberg and Victor Marchetti among many.
Oswald monitored the U2 overflights of the U.S.S.R. and China while in the Marine Corps. He maintained his top security clearance during his fake defection to the U.S.S.R. when a U2 was shot down, scuttling the Eisenhower-Khrushchev Summit.
Mr. Newman omits Secret Service reports, long published, that disclosed Oswald's CIA and FBI numbers. His dummy "Fair Play For Cuba Committee" operated out of the same offices in New Orleans as E. Howard Hunt, political officer for the Bay of Pigs and Guy Banister of the Office of Naval Intelligence and FBI. Oswald met there Jack Ruby and Clay Shaw, the CIA operative indicted by District Attorney Jim Garrison.
Major General Charles Cabell, deputy director of the CIA, was fired by the Kennedys after the Bay of Pigs. His brother, Earl Cabell, was mayor of Dallas, their grandfather the sheriff. CIA and collateral agency plans to invade Cuba and assassinate Castro proceeded with personnel with whom Oswald and Jack Ruby were wholly integrated. This, too, goes unmentioned.
The politics of the Kennedy killing flow from disputes among power brokers as the documents examined by John Newman serve to confirm. It requires the will to face the meaning of official murder in America before we can marshall the alternative. Its absence in Mr. Newman's study is the book's basic weakness.
* Ralph Schoenman's books include: "War Crimes in Vietnam," with Bertrand Russell, "Philosopher of the Century," and "Iraq and Kuwait: A History Suppressed." He is former executive director of the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation and former director of the Who Killed Kennedy Committee.