The National Archives have released more than 35,500 records on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The once-classified records have fascinated researchers and fueled conspiracy theorists for decades.
Mark Lane, the New York attorney who challenged the findings of the commission that investigated the JFK assassination had a “trusted relationship” with the Soviet KGB, according to a KGB informant for the CIA.
Lane’s relationship with the KGB, which was revealed in new files released from the investigation of the assassination of President John F Kennedy, was disclosed by a little-known Soviet informant code named Shamrock. That source, a KGB official who worked in the Soviet delegation office at the United Nations, contacted the CIA on Jan. 16, 1967, and agreed to share information with both the CIA and FBI, an April 4, 1967, FBI memo shows.
Shamrock’s name was made public for the first time among the more than 35,500 files connected to the Kennedy investigation that were released late last year.
Lane, who died at age 89 in May 2016, first represented the mother of Kennedy assassin Lee Harvey Oswald as the Warren Commission conducted its investigation. In 1966, he published the best-selling Rush to Judgment, which criticized the commission’s work as sloppy and incomplete.
A Nov. 7, 1967, memorandum from FBI official W.A. Branigan to William Sullivan, the bureau’s longtime intelligence chief, said the information provided by Shamrock about Lane would be passed to the White House if Sullivan approved. The Lane file included claims that Lane, a one-time Democratic member of the New York Assembly, was once investigated for sodomy by the Queens County, N.Y., district attorney and had once given two women “hand printed instructions … in order that they could perform upon his person perverted sexual acts of a sadistic and masochistic nature.”
The KGB’s contact with Lane, the FBI memo said, was Boris Orehkov, a former official at the Soviet Union’s UN delegation.
A Jan. 9, 1968, FBI report released as part of the JFK files said that an FBI information identified only as “NY 5812-S” said the KGB had given Lane the code name “Kram.” “The source stated that BORIS OREKHOV, a KGB officer, assigned to the NY residency, had had two meetings with LANE and had established a trusted relationship with him.”
Soviet reaction to killing
Beyond informing on Lane, Shamrock told the CIA and FBI that the Soviet leadership was upset about Kennedy’s assassination, which “was a great loss, not only for the United States and the Soviet Union, but for the whole world,” Branigan wrote Sullivan on April 4, 1967.
“According to Shamrock, the Soviets felt that they could trust President Kennedy and could deal with him on a cooperative basis,” Branigan wrote. “Shamrock further stated that the Soviets mourned President Kennedy’s death, a situation which Shamrock considered very unique inasmuch as the person being mourned was the leader of another country.”
Shamrock’s information showed the Soviets were prone to believing some of the conspiracy theories surrounding the Kennedy assassination.
As a result of long KGB study, “the KGB concluded that President Kennedy was killed by representatives of a group of monopolists, characterized as the military-industrial complex in the United States,” Branigan wrote to Sullivan. “The KGB felt that President Kennedy had tried to limit the activities of this group of monopolists and therefore they planned his assassination.”
CIA-FBI fight over informants
Shamrock became part of the fight between the CIA, led by its counterintelligence chief James Angleton, and the FBI over the value of information provided by a series of informants and defectors.
Angleton believed that most KGB defectors and informants were planted by the KGB, an idea promoted by defector Anatoly Golitsyn, whom Angleton considered a reliable source. That skepticism led the CIA to interrogate another Soviet defector, former KGB agent Yuri Nosenko, for three years before finally acknowledging that Nosenko was telling the truth.
“The information furnished by Shamrock is very similar to that previously furnished to us by Yuri Nosenko, a Soviet defector whose bona fides has not been established,” Branigan wrote Sullivan.
“We feel we should disseminate this data since we have previously disseminated the information we received from Yuri Nosenko regarding the assassination of even though we recognized some of the data was not subject to proof, particularly, that occurring within the Soviet Union,” Branigan wrote. “We feel that by documenting Shamrock as a ‘confidential informant, contact with whom has been insufficient to establish his reliability,’ we will alert other agencies that the information has not been established as true,” he wrote.
Shamrock’s name has been published only once, in the 1994 book Wedge by author Mark Riebling that chronicled the longstanding fight over intelligence between the CIA and FBI. Angleton considered Shamrock to be “bogus,” Riebling wrote, and that even Sullivan began to suspect the FBI’s good luck in generating new sources of intelligence. As a result, Riebling wrote, Sullivan shared some FBI data with Golitsyn to help determine if the bureau was getting correct information.
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