Thousands of JFK files have been released today and it’s going to take a long time to comb through them all. But one interesting file has already made its way to the surface. This was a deposition of Richard McGarrah Helms on April 23, 1975. Helms was Director of Central Intelligence from June 1966 to February 1973. This deposition was taken just two years after he was Director. Prior to today, this part of the deposition had been held back in full. The deposition was done by the Counsel for the Commission on CIA Activities.
During his deposition, Helms said that early in his presidency, President Lyndon B. Johnson believed that John F. Kennedy was assassinated as justice for his alleged role in the death of the President of Vietnam.
Specifically, Helms said:
You know, to this day I am not persuaded that President Nixon doesn’t still believe that the Agency didn’t have something to do with the demise of President Diem of Vietnam and there absolutely no evidence of this in the Agency records and the whole thing has been, I mean, rather — what is the word I want — heated by the fact that President Johnson used to go around saying that the reason President Kennedy was assassinated was that he had assassinated President Diem and this was just justice. He certainly used to say that in the early days of Presidency and where he got this idea from I don’t know. I don’t know how many of you had the privilege of trying to argue with Presidents about things like that but you tend to be a loser.”
You can download and read the PDF with the quote yourself here.
Helms later went on to say that under McCone, he had believed that Congress had set up oversight committees to be the only committees where secret covert actions and secret intelligence operations were going to be unveiled.
“When I testified before other committees, I tried to avoid lying or being guilty of any illegality, but I also tried in some cases to duck these questions so that I wouldn’t be in the position of having to come forward in a different context with a different committee on matters which I thought were the proper business of the oversight committee.”
Interestingly, this formerly withheld deposition was categorized under the subject: “Conspiracy Theories, CIA Involvement.” As late as 1993, the federal government had decided to continue withholding this deposition from a longer deposition that was available.