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Exclusive: Gerald Ford, JFK and the FBI

POSTED: 12:20 PM ET, 08/ 7/2008 by The Editors

Two members of the Warren Commission were initially not convinced that President John F. Kennedy had been shot from the sixth floor window of the Texas Book Depository, according to confidential FBI files released this week to The Post's Joe Stephens.

The files detail the inner workings of a secret back channel that Gerald R. Ford, then a Michigan congressman who was one of seven members of the Warren Commission, opened in 1963 to J. Edgar Hoover's FBI. The declassified FBI memos are among scores of documents in the file on President Ford, who died in December 2006. At the request of The Post, the FBI this week released 500 pages of the bureau's voluminous file.

Although it has long been known that he secretly spoke with the FBI, the newly obtained, previously classified records detail one visit Ford made to one of Hoover's deputies just three weeks after joining the panel.

A December 1963 memo recounts that Ford told FBI Assistant Director Cartha D. DeLoach that two members remained unconvinced that Kennedy had been shot from the sixth floor window of the Texas Book Depository. In addition, three commission members "failed to understand" the trajectory of the slugs, Ford said.

Ford told DeLoach that commission discussions would continue and reassured him that those minority points of view on the commission "of course would represent no problem," one internal FBI memo shows. The memo does not name the members involved and does not elaborate on what Ford meant by "no problem."

Ford also told DeLoach that Chief Justice Earl Warren, who headed the commission, had told its members that "they should strive to have their hearings completed and the findings made public prior to July 1964, when the Presidential campaigns will begin to get hot. He stated it would be unfair to present the findings after July." They missed their deadline, concluding in a report issued on September 24, 1964, that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in the assassination.

Much of the material in the overall FBI file on Ford concerns intelligence about his political adversaries when he was president, especially organizations that the bureau thought might disrupt Ford's appearances around the country. But the file also sheds light on the investigation into Kennedy's assassination and the FBI's relationship with Ford, and shows how the bureau strove to curry favor with powerful politicians.

Another memo in the file, previously released with Warren Commission materials in 1978, details how Ford approached DeLoach in 1963 and offered to secretly inform the bureau about the inner workings of the then-ongoing Warren Commission investigation.
"Ford indicated he would keep me thoroughly advised as to the activities of the Commission," DeLoach wrote. "He stated this would have to be done on a confidential basis, however he thought it should be done."

Five days later, DeLoach had a second meeting with Ford and filed another confidential memo. DeLoach recounted that he "carefully" informed Ford that the FBI had released none of its investigative findings to the media. Instead, he said, it looked as though commission members were beginning to leak portions of the FBI report.

"I referred to this week's issue of 'Newsweek' magazine which contains a rather clear analysis of the report," DeLoach wrote. "I told Congressman Ford that 'Newsweek' was owned by the 'Washington Post' and that apparently some one was trying to curry favor. I told him we, of course, did not get along very well with either the 'Washington Post' or 'Newsweek.' He [said] that he was in the same boat, that he liked neither one of these publications."

The conversation, which has apparently not been previously reported, concluded with Ford saying he would like to take a confidential FBI report on the assassination with him on a family ski trip to Michigan. DeLoach offer to loan him an "Agent briefcase" with a lock, so Ford could safeguard the document.

Elsewhere in the FBI file on Ford, records show that as a young man, in 1942, Ford had applied to become an FBI agent. A background check at the time was favorable, the file says, "except for information that he was an isolationist and active in organizing an American First committee while at Yale University." Ford later withdrew his application.
In 1965, Ford asked FBI technicians to check the phone line at his home in Northern Virginia for tampering; they found none. In another instance, Ford asked the FBI to look into the background of his personal maid; she came up clean.

The FBI file shows Hoover routinely tried to ingratiate himself with Ford by sending him personal notes -- congratulating Ford on his re-election or his winning of an award, offering condolences on the death of Ford's parents, thanking Ford for saying nice things about the bureau on the floor of Congress. There are repeated references in the file to Ford having "enjoyed cordial relations" with the bureau, and notes pointing out that the FBI had named Ford to the bureau's "Special Correspondents List."

One memo notes: "Though we did experience some difficulty with all the members of the Warren Commission, Ford was of considerable help." It points out Ford once requested an 8-by-10-inch photograph of Hoover, although its intended use was unknown.

The intensity with which Hoover's FBI sought to gain favor with those who could later be of use is made clear in one memo written by a subordinate in 1963.

"In view of Congressman Ford's friendly attitude toward the FBI, and the fact that he is a member of the House Appropriations Committee and will probably be reappointed to this Committee in the next session of Congress, it is felt he should be presented a copy of the Director's new book, 'A Study of Communism.' The House Appropriations Committee, of course, is very important to us, and it is felt such a gesture would be very beneficial in connection with our Hill contact program."

Before presenting the book to Ford, the file shows, Hoover autographed it.
In 1964, Ford and his wife, Betty, attended a party at DeLoach's home. The next morning, Hoover followed up with an obsequious note, delivered by special messenger:

"My dear Congressman: I want to let you know how much I enjoyed talking to Mrs. Ford and you during the party at DeLoach's home last night. Particularly, I was very pleased to discuss in this informal manner some vital issues of interest to you as well as the FBI. Let me say that I found your observations to be both helpful and germane. It is always encouraging to know that we have alert, vigorous Congressmen, such as you, who are aware of the needs and problems confronting our country, and I wish you every success in meeting your grave responsibilities.

Whenever you have an opportunity, I would be happy to have Mrs. Ford and you drop by FBI Headquarters for a special tour of our facilities, and of course, I would like you to feel free to call on me any time our help is needed or when we can be of service.
With kind personal regards,
Sincerely yours,
J. Edgar Hoover."

By The Editors |  August 7, 2008; 12:20 PM ET
Previous: McCain's 'Florida Money Man' Finds Unlikely Donors | Next: Detroit Mayor Jailed for Violating Bond


Please email us to report offensive comments.

They should have done a 12 part series on this instead of that Levy junk

Posted by: . | August 7, 2008 1:33 PM

It appears we have a long, long way to go before knowing any more real facts...I hope I live to see them.

Posted by: Chuck | August 7, 2008 1:41 PM

Re: Levy junk - AGREED!

Posted by: Ann | August 7, 2008 1:58 PM

It is further proof that Ford helped British Intelligence kill Kennedy.
Ford was a treacherous Fascist and harmed this country terribly. Too bad Washington is still full of his protege's and pimps. We should have been able to run him out of Colorado before he ruined Vail.

Posted by: David Crosby | August 7, 2008 2:06 PM

Actually, all the facts have been spelled out over and over... the players in everything are well documented, this Warren Commission was a farce and a special prosecutor should have been assigned to investigate that group of hoodlums! But we all still go on... wondering who assassinated JFK...

You people make me sick!

Posted by: Ed | August 7, 2008 2:14 PM

Thanks David for the personal commentary. It is clear that you knew Gerald Ford very very well. And Vail seemed to be just fine the last time I drove through to get to Beaver Creek.

I would have liked to have had a 12 part series on this. It is interesting to learn more about a man who I grew up knowing as Mr Ford.

Posted by: Sierra | August 7, 2008 2:40 PM

David, did you miss your meds again today? Take a breath, man, straighten your tinfoil hat and pull yourself together. The space aliens aren't coming to get you, there are no secret CIA transmitters sending radio waves to control your brain, and Oswald did it alone. And by the way, nobody cares about Vail.

Posted by: Bob | August 7, 2008 3:25 PM

fr Ann:

>Re: Levy junk - AGREED!

Posted by: Alex | August 7, 2008 3:26 PM

I have always thought that the Warren Commission was wrong but for a far different reason. I feel that Bobby Kennedy, then the Attorney General, inadvertently brought down his brother with his aggressive pursuit of the mafia. Old Joe Kennedy used his connections with the mafia to support his son's bid to be President and his son Bobby went after the mafia when he became Attorney General. Eventually when all of the facts are unsealed we may be able to piece together the truth. Unfortunately I do not think many of us that remember that day in Dallas will be alive to see it.

Posted by: Jace | August 7, 2008 3:55 PM

Good timing for this article. Ivanov is the new Lee Harvey Oswald.

Posted by: Deaniac | August 7, 2008 4:03 PM

Come on, we all know JFK was killed by a group of gunmen from the CIA, the FBI, the KGB, the KKK, the CPUSA, the John Birch Society, the Masons, the Catholic Church and the Illuminati, as well as one guy who said: "Well, everyone else started shooting, so I did, too.". Over 5 thousand rounds were fired in less than 30 seconds, making it difficult to pinpoint the actual killer(s).

Posted by: Nick | August 7, 2008 4:38 PM

I believe in checks and balences.
I think that we should create a Federal administration of conspiracy theorists (F.A.C.T.) to have unlimited access to all governemnt documents and secrets. But they must not reveal these secrets so we can mistrust them as well.

Posted by: Rich Rosenthal | August 7, 2008 5:54 PM

So Ford, the guy Broder and the Post showered praise on, was a Nazi supporter (America First = Nazi front) and involved in helping twist the arms of those on the Warren Com who supported what really happened, what our Congress concluded: that the lone nut theory was just nuts -- or worse, an effort by the Nixon-Bush Mafia (Ford = charter member) to hide a coup.

Posted by: Ford The Hack | August 7, 2008 6:15 PM

If you reallllllllly believe that JFK was asassinated by a lone gunman Lee Harvey Oswald, well then you also belive in the tooth fairy and a 25 cent coin will be under your pillow in the morning. Whew!

Posted by: timbrusky1 | August 7, 2008 6:23 PM

If you reallllllllly believe that JFK was asassinated by a lone gunman Lee Harvey Oswald, well then you also belive in the tooth fairy and a 25 cent coin will be under your pillow in the morning. Whew!

Posted by: timbrusky1 | August 7, 2008 6:24 PM

So sorry to keep on the Levy story...BUT

There are roughly 6000 unsolved murders in the US every year - figure 60,000 for the last 10 years.

Chandra Levy's case is just as important as all of these - but not more. It deserves the same amount of press coverage as all the others as well - but not more than any case as old as hers.

Posted by: Perspective | August 7, 2008 7:29 PM

So Gerald Ford was acting as an unofficial covert agent for the FBI, and worked with them to suppress evidence which might have contradicted the single-assassin conclusion of the Warren Commission? Exactly how is this anything other than front-page news?

Posted by: Steve | August 7, 2008 8:49 PM

Are they still sending out free autographed copies of A Study of Communism and giving tours of their building? Sign me up! They've got some hot women down at 9th & Pennsylvania.

Here's some reasonable doubt about the Warren Commission's findings.

Posted by: Bob | August 7, 2008 8:58 PM

More interesting things

Posted by: Joe | August 7, 2008 9:10 PM

Did Ford violate an oath of confidentiality to the Warren Commission by leaking to the FBI?

Gee, I think it's a bit like Helms "2 Oaths", except Ford did not have an oath to the FBI.

"[Harvard's] CaseWeb: 525.0 Two Oaths of Richard HelmsWhich oath took precedence? If he did not answer truthfully, then he risked ... If he answered openly, he would violate his oath and his loyalty to the CIA,..."

Posted by: Pete from NYC | August 7, 2008 9:44 PM

DOD Hawks were losing it when JFK announced he was pulling out of Vietnam. My father heard plenty of it
working at the Pentagon.

The Mafia and CIA were just characters in the play, but
the military industrial complex wrote the playbook.

Pulling out of Vietnam so early would have undermined
the business of war and that just wasn't going to happen
if they had their say in it.

Posted by: OgreDaddy | August 7, 2008 11:43 PM

for a partial list of crimes committed by FBI agents over 300 pages long including best evidence for the FBI being a principal architect in creating the President Kennedy-ML King assassinations see
click on home
click on forum
scroll down to FBI WATCH

Posted by: msbamford | August 8, 2008 10:50 AM

The Single Bullet Theory is a classic example of an unsupported assertion. It is an empty claim that is intended to bolster the real fiction, that JFK was killed by a lone gunman. But, the facts in evidence do not support the single bullet theory, a theory that is essential to the denial of a conspiracy. When the facts (evidence) failed to support the fiction, they were altered. That's obstruction of justice.

Posted by: monk | August 8, 2008 1:34 PM

Yes, Ford obviously violated his oath of confidentiality by reporting to the FBI. This is nothing new but at least there is now substantial documentation to prove it. Remember also that it was under Ford's insistence that Kennedy's back wound, near the shoulder blade, was moved up to the back of his neck to make the single bullet theory work out. They presented this a fact to the public. Here we have the misrepresentation of evidence in a murder investigation. And they wonder why there are conspiracy theorists?

Posted by: George | August 8, 2008 6:05 PM

Just ask

who had the power to reroute the motorcade to be closer to the Book Depository and the so-called grassy knoll?

who had the power to suspend standard operating procedures?

who had the power to cover it up?

who had the power to ensure the media would not dare to raise reasonable questions?

Read President Kennedy's June 1963 speech at American University calling for an end to the Cold War and you'll see the primary motivation of the killers. It was a coup d'etat.

There are lots of nonsense claims and lots of claims that mix truth and lies, but the change of the motorcade route at the last minute is a big clue about who did it, and the change of Kennedy's views on the Cold War was the motive.

Posted by: lone gunmen | August 21, 2008 3:15 AM

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