DID ALAN BELMONT BETRAY JAMES HOSTY?
Let’s keep reading from James Hosty’s own book, Assignment Oswald (1996) on the topic of KGB agent Valeriy Kostikov. In the following text, Hosty names FBI Assistant Director Alan Belmont as one high-level official who knew about the LHO-Kostikov plot to kill JFK and tried to hide this fact from Hosty:
As soon as I received my orders to appear before the Warren Commission, I began to prepare my testimony. I retrieved the Oswald file...To my consternation, two key items were missing. Someone had removed the two secret communications from FBI headquarters. One was the October 18, 1963 communique that indicated the CIA...had observed Oswald making contact with vice consul V. Kostikov at the Soviet Embassy in Mexico City. The second one...Oswald had written to the Soviet Embassy...reporting that he had made contact with Kostikov.
Belmont, however, looked startled when I was explaining to [WC attorney] Samuel Stern that I had read these two communiques. He leaned over and muttered in my ear, “Damn it, I thought I told them not to let you see that one from the Washington field office!” I was stunned. Here was the head of all FBI investigations admitting that the FBI was deliberately trying to conceal matters from me. (Hosty, Assignment Oswald, 1996, pp. 139-140)
There again is FBI agent James Hosty's conspiracy theory with regard to Alan Belmont and the FBI generally. Let’s be certain that we accurately identify the two documents that Hosty speaks about above:
An FBI memo of October 18, 1963 that echoed a CIA report about LHO contacting Kostikov at the Mexico City Soviet Embassy.
LHO’s own typewritten letter of November 9, 1963, sent to the Soviet Embassy in Washington DC, boasting that he had contacted “comrade Kostin” in Mexico City.
That first document was never shown to the Warren Commission, yet we reviewed it in detail in my previous blog post. We found it in the Mary Ferrell web site, at this URL:
To briefly review, this FBI memo of 10/18/1963 correctly reports that Lee Oswald contacted Kostikov at the Soviet Embassy on September 28th. This memo, however, incorrectly claims that LHO called the Soviet Embassy by telephone on October 1st. (As Bill Simpich showed in 2014, a Mole claiming to be LHO made that call.) This memo also incorrectly claims that LHO’s full name was “Lee Henry Oswald.” (As Bill Simpich showed, that fake middle name was a trick used by the CIA high command to catch the Mole who had made that telephone call.)
The second document is commonly called the “Mexico City Letter.” As far as history knows, this was the final letter that LHO ever wrote. James Hosty portrays Alan Belmont as privately confessing to Hosty at the WC hearings that Belmont had tried to hide the “Mexico City Letter” from Hosty. Well, Belmont died in 1977, so nobody could verify in 1996 what Belmont privately “muttered” into James Hosty’s ear in 1964. Should we just take Hosty’s word for it?
HOSTY’s BIG WITHHOLD
Before we answer, let’s read from the beginning of Hosty’s similar claim in a 1975 sworn statement to the FBI. Hosty speaks of an “Airtel” (an FBI “airmail telegram”) and one supporting CIA report. That Airtel was a copy of LHO’s “Mexico City Letter,” which had been routinely intercepted by the FBI.
The supporting CIA report that Hosty cited was dated October 10, 1963. We'll return to that later. For now, let’s read from James Hosty’s sworn statement of November 14, 1975.
I, James Hosty, having been duly sworn make the following statement: I wish to bring the following information to the attention of the FBI at this time; not that I am alleging any wrongdoings on anyone’s part but in anticipation of possible questioning about Lee Harvey Oswald before any Congressional Committees, the possibility of asking about the handling of any other communications in this case, might cause me to have to furnish the following story which could cause considerable difficulty.
On November 22, 1963, shortly after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and shortly after learning that Lee Oswald was a prime suspect, I attempted to locate his pending file and…I noticed -- on the top of the file was an Airtel from the Washington Field Office to the Bureau…
On the way to the SAC’s office I read this Airtel and was able to determine that it was a letter intercept to the Soviet Embassy in Wash. D.C. telling of his recent contact with V.V. Kostikov, KGB agent in Mexico City.
…I never received this Airtel through normal channels… The two items of secret information were  this Airtel in question and  an earlier CIA communication dated October 10, 1963, from Mexico City concerning Oswald’s contact…
On approximately May 4, 1964, while being questioned by Warren Commission Staff Attorney Samuel Stern in the presence of former Assistant to the Director Alan Belmont concerning my conversation with Secret Service, I mentioned to Stern the Washington Field Office Airtel. Belmont immediately stated in anger ‘I told them not to let you see that Airtel!’ … (James Hosty, 1975, Sworn Statement to FBI)
Notice the similarities. At the WC hearings, attorney Sam Stern questioned James Hosty with FBI Assistant Director Alan Belmont present. James Hosty mentioned the “Mexico City Letter” to attorney Sam Stern, and then Alan Belmont reacted sternly to James Hosty.
It is the same incident, but several questions arise when comparing Hosty’s sworn statement with his book, Assignment Oswald (1996). In that 1975 statement, Hosty suggests that the first time that he learned about LHO’s contact with Kostikov was also the first time that he ever read LHO’s “Mexico City Letter,” namely, on the day of the JFK Assassination. He says:
“On the way to the SAC’s office I read this Airtel and was able to determine that it was a letter intercept to the Soviet Embassy in Wash. D.C... (Hosty, ibid.)
Now let’s look at Hosty’s 1996 story of the first time he saw that Airtel. Let’s review page 48 again. Hosty wrote:
In October 1963…I asked the New Orleans office to respond...When I received this information in late October from New Orleans, I saw the communication was dated October 18, 1963. The CIA report said that Lee Oswald had been in Mexico City and had made contact with V.V. Kostikov, a vice consul at the Soviet Embassy there…(Hosty, Assignment Oswald, p. 48)
Let’s be careful. As we’ve seen, the document dated October 18, 1963 is an FBI memo, not a CIA report. That FBI memo refers to a CIA report, but not one dated 10/10/1963, because our FBI memo names Kostikov, while that 10/10/1963 CIA report fails to mention Kostikov. Let’s pause here to review that CIA report. It is available from the Mary Ferrell web site. Here is the URL:
As a quick summary, this is a three-page CIA report dated 10/10/1963 that opens by incorrectly asserting that “Lee Oswald” telephoned the Soviet Embassy in Mexico City and spoke in broken Russian to the guard there. It also incorrectly named LHO as “Lee Henry Oswald.” These three pages mainly repeat the story of LHO defecting to the USSR in 1959 and returning to the USA in 1962 with a Russian bride and a Russian-born baby. However, this CIA report never mentions Kostikov.
As we saw last week, the CIA report that mentions Kostikov was dated 10/8/1963. Even then, that CIA report incorrectly names LHO, “Lee Henry Oswald.” This implies that James Hosty saw copies of multiple CIA reports. Yet why would a Dallas FBI agent be allowed to see any CIA reports?
This question becomes more relevant as we return to Hosty’s 1975 sworn statement. Hosty told the FBI something in November 1975 that he had withheld from the FBI in November 1963. His worry was that the US Congress might ask about “handling of any other communications in this case” and that his answer might “cause considerable difficulty.” Hosty was worried.
Hosty promptly spoke of “an Airtel from the Washington Field Office to the Bureau” that he received on the day JFK was assassinated. Hosty read this Airtel and recognized it as a “letter intercept to the Soviet Embassy in Washington DC.” That is to say, a letter written by LHO and sent to the Soviet Embassy in Washington DC, had been intercepted by the FBI. Hosty said that LHO writes, “telling of his recent contact with V.V. Kostikov, KGB agent in Mexico City.”
Such worry is unclear, because LHO’s “Mexico City Letter” was old business to the US Congress. The WC got possession of this letter (CE 15) in early 1964. It was well-known and well-attested. The WC heard much testimony about it. Yet Hosty further confessed his worry: “I never received this Airtel through normal channels.” The confession is still unclear. The FBI routinely intercepted all letters sent to the Soviet Embassy in Washington DC. This was business as usual. So, what secret did Hosty worry that Congress would discover?
Here is a discrepancy. In 1975, Hosty swore to the FBI that he first saw this Airtel about Kostikov and a supporting CIA report, on the day that JFK was assassinated – in late November 1963. Yet in his 1996 book, Hosty admits that the New Orleans FBI sent him an Airtel about Kostikov in “late October.” A full month earlier. That could not have been LHO’s “Mexico City Letter,” obviously, because LHO wrote his letter on November 9.
Hosty did not admit in his 1975 sworn statement to the FBI that he knew about LHO’s Kostikov meeting a full month earlier than the JFK Assassination. So, in my opinion we can now surmise the secret that Hosty feared that the US Congress might find out, namely: illicit staff in the CIA sent information to illicit staff in the FBI, outside normal channels.
The FBI memo of 10/18/1963 that James Hosty saw in late October 1963, cited the CIA as its source. Speaking of somebody named “Lee Henry Oswald,” the FBI memo said:
CIA MEXICO CITY TODAY FURNISHED INFORMATION CLASSIFIED SECRET NOT TO BE FURTHER DISSEMINATED THAT SUBJECT CONTACTED VICE CONSUL VALERIY VLADIMIRIVICH KOSTIKOV AT SOVIET EMBASSY ON SEPTEMBER 28 LAST… (FBI Memo 10/18/1963)
So, Hosty was not referring to LHO’s “Mexico City Letter.” It’s not that the FBI and CIA documents confirmed what LHO wrote in his “Mexico City Letter,” but the opposite. LHO had confirmed what James Hosty had already known for a solid month.
Obviously, Hosty’s secret was related to the content of LHO’s “Mexico City Letter,” namely, the Kostikov-LHO meeting. Yet it seems that the CIA documents involved were the true substance of Hosty's Big Withhold, which he finally, even if unclearly, confessed to the FBI in his sworn statement of 1975. It was not so much a confession as a hazy warning to the FBI, just in case Congress raised the question. They never did.