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O’Reilly, Oswald, and Hot Water

Bill O’Reilly

Fox News conservative commentator Bill O’Reilly is in hot water over a matter relating to Lee Harvey Oswald, the accused assassin of President John F. Kennedy. News media on the Internet are abuzz over allegations that O’Reilly fibbed about an episode relating to a man named George de Mohrenschildt, a Dallas conservative. The controversy couldn’t have come at a worse time for O’Reilly, given recent revelations about fibs issued by television news anchor Brian Williams, which resulted in a six-month suspension from his job at NBC.

The O’Reilly-Mohrenschildt controversy was detailed in an article entitled “Investigator’s Tape Exposes Bill O’Reilly’s Fib” by former Washington Post reporter Jefferson Morley, who originally posted the article in 2013 at, which he edits. Yesterday, Morley reposted the article, which seems to have been the catalyst for the media buzz over the controversy.

Mohrenschildt was a shadowy figure who was connected to U.S. intelligence, specifically the CIA. He also became a close friend of Lee Harvey Oswald, who, as most everyone knows, was supposed to be a communist who betrayed his country by defecting to the Soviet Union.

According to Wikipedia, in 1977 de Mohrenschildt gave an interview to author Edward Jay Epstein, “during which he claimed that in 1962, Dallas CIA operative J. Walton Moore had given him the go-ahead to meet Oswald. ‘I would never have contacted Oswald in a million years if Moore had not sanctioned it,’ de Mohrenschildt said.

On the same day of the Epstein interview, de Mohrenschildt was contacted by a man named Gaeton Fonzi, who was an investigator for the House Select Committee on Assassinations, which was reinvestigating the Kennedy assassination. According to Wikipedia, the HSCA considered de Mohrenschildt to be a “crucial witness.”

That afternoon, de Mohrenschildt purportedly committed suicide, one of the many instances of suicide that surround the aftermath of the Kennedy assassination.

Where does O’Reilly fit into all this? O’Reilly has claimed that he was at de Mohrenschildt’s front door when he heard the gunshot that ended de Mohrenschildt’s life.

Morley’s article questions the veracity of O’Reilly’s claim and contends that O’Reilly was actually in Dallas at the time of de Mohrenschildt’s death.

Whether O’Reilly fibbed or not is, of course, an important issue, given the fact that he is a well-known television commentator.

But the controversy raises another major issue: Why were Mohrenschildt and Oswald close friends? After all, de Mohrenschildt was an ardent conservative, one with connections to U.S. intelligence, while Oswald was supposedly a no-good communist, one who had supposedly betrayed his country by defecting to the Soviet Union and disclosing classified secrets that he had learned as part of his job with the Marines. How would two people who appeared to be polar opposites become good friends?

There’s one possible explanation, the only one that makes sense: That is, that Oswald wasn’t the lone-nut communist sympathizer and traitor that the Warren Commission made him out to be. Instead, it is much more likely that he was a U.S. intelligence agent whose cover was a communist sympathizer.

After all, think about how the U.S. national-security state treats people who they think have betrayed America. Think Edward Snowden. Haven’t they done everything possible to get their hands on Snowden? And if they did get a hold of him, we can all imagine what they would do to him. It would not be pretty.

That’s how we expect them to act.

Indeed, recall how they treated the so-called American Taliban, John Walker Lindh. They took him into custody, disrobed him, tortured him, prosecuted and convicted him, and sent him away to jail for a very long time.

That’s how we expect them to act.

But that’s not how they treated Lee Harvey Oswald, supposed communist, defector, and traitor.

What did they do to Oswald? They didn’t do anything! Well, I shouldn’t say anything. They did lend him the money to return from the Soviet Union when he decided he wanted to come home.

No arrest. No incarceration. No torture. No indictment. No public humiliation. No ruination of his life. Not even a grand-jury subpoena to testify as to the secrets he supposedly delivered to the Soviets.

And don’t forget: This was at the height of the Cold War, when the U.S. anti-communist crusade was in full swing. This was the era in which the FBI, the military, the CIA, and and other U.S. officials were doing everything they could do ferret out communists and destroy them.

Not so with Lee Harvey Oswald. Why, they didn’t even touch him when he was handing out pro-Cuba pamphlets to members of the U.S. Navy in New Orleans.

One might say that Oswald was a Cold War miracle story — one of the few, if not the only, openly self-avowed communists in America who U.S. officials didn’t touch.

One possibility is that the national security state suddenly became a born-again, fervent defender of civil liberties. How likely is that, especially given that they were going after every other communist and communist sympathizer, here in the United States, Latin America, Asia, and elsewhere around the world.

The more likely possibility: Oswald was an intelligence asset, one who was trained to act as a communist in order to infiltrate communist countries and communist organizations, such as the Fair Play for Cuba Committee.

Of course, I’m not raising anything new here. The Warren Commission, in a secret emergency meeting that the American people were never supposed to learn about, raised the same point. Here is what I write in my upcoming book about the Kennedy assassination:

Almost immediately after the Warren Commission was established, a top-secret executive session was held by the members of the Commission to discuss a rumor that Lee Harvey Oswald was actually an intelligence agent for the U.S. government. Clearly concerned over the potential ramifications of the rumor, the members of the Commission decided to resolve the matter by simply asking the FBI and the CIA whether the rumor was true. When the heads of the FBI and the CIA expressly denied that Oswald had ever been in their employ, the matter was put to rest under the assumption that the FBI and the CIA would never lie about such a thing.

The Commission ordered that the transcript of that secret emergency meeting be destroyed so that the American people would never find out about it. It was only because the court reporter who was transcribing what occurred at the meeting failed to destroy her original tape recording that we know what was said at the meeting.

Ironically, even Bill O’Reilly alluded to what appeared to be the unusual relationship between Oswald and de Mohrenschildt. In a television interview in which he states what is now being labeled a fib, O’Reilly also said that he could not make sense of the relationship between the two men. I wonder if the relationship would make sense to O’Reilly if Oswald wasn’t the communist, defector, and traitor he has been made out to be but was instead an intelligence asset, just like his friend George de Mohrenschildt was.

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

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