By David Martin. Originally published at DCDave.com.
Most people who have done any reading at all on the assassination of John F. Kennedy have heard of Joseph A. Milteer. He is the right-wing activist who was recorded on November 9, 1963, by an informant for the Miami police department predicting the JFK assassination, which would take place on November 22. Here we have the words of counsel Robert Tanenbaum of the House Select Committee on Assassinations in a transcription of that committee’s hearings, published March 9, 1977:
In substance, what Milteer says is that the President is going to be killed. He predicts the exact manner in which the President is going to be killed. He says it is going to be from an office building with a high-powered rifle that can be disassembled, and that shortly after the assassination the police are going to arrest someone to allay public concern.
Most people have likely not heard of Don Adams (No, not the late comedian and actor who played Maxwell Smart on Get Smart, but he was in a similar line of work as Smart.). Adams was the FBI agent first sent to investigate Milteer four days after the recorded assassination prediction, which had been immediately passed on to the FBI. Then, after the assassination, he was sent to locate Milteer and to interview him. Later, Adams would be involved in other aspects of the investigation. The subtitle of his 2012 book, From an Office Building with a High-Powered Rifle, is “A report to the public from an FBI agent involved in the official JFK assassination investigation.”
The public should pay heed to it. It is a rare thing, indeed, when a government participant in a cover-up, particularly one from the FBI, breaks ranks with his colleagues and tells the world, from his own first-hand knowledge, that a cover-up has taken place. Something similar occurred in the Vince Foster death case. In that instance, the renegade was none other than Kenneth Starr’s first chosen lead investigator, Miguel Rodriguez. A big difference is that Rodriguez tried to blow the whistle on the cover-up while it was happening; Adams did so almost a half-century after the fact. But considering the greater importance of the case in which Adams was involved, what he has done is probably more significant than what Rodriguez did, or attempted to do. Besides being defectors from what are, in reality, ongoing cover-ups, the other big thing they have in common is that they remain almost completely unknown to the general public. For that we have our major national opinion molders to blame, primarily the news media and secondarily the academic community.
New Agent, Big Job
Older than most new FBI agents at age 32, Adams had been surprised to get such an important assignment as checking up on a man who might well have been part of a plot to assassinate the President. Only later did he discover that he had been set up as a sort of cutout, to insulate higher-ups in the Bureau from the cover-up of the Milteer connection, though he had reason to suspect that things were amiss. He was not able to listen to that covert recorded conversation of Milteer that predicted the assassination because he was not even told of its existence. Rather, he was told that Milteer, according to a reliable informant, had met with three other radical right-wingers in a hotel in Indianapolis in October 1963 in which a plot to kill the President had been discussed. Only much later would he learn that the Atlanta office of the FBI already had a file on Milteer from a previous investigation they had conducted. When he conducted his post-assassination interview of Milteer, he was given a list of five questions that he was permitted to ask and was ordered not to go beyond them, a virtual guarantee that he would learn nothing of any real interest. He had been sent to locate Milteer immediately after the assassination and found him missing from his home in Quitman, Georgia, and his usual haunts in nearby Valdosta.
In late 1993, Adams read the book High Treason: The Assassination of JFK by Robert Groden and Harrison Livingstone and, amazingly, learned for the first time about the covert recording of Milteer. He also discovered in the book a photograph of the crowd of onlookers as Kennedy’s limousine is making its way down Houston Street by Dealey Plaza and there stands a man who is identical in appearance to Joseph A. Milteer. Those discoveries would send him on a research mission in the National Archives during which he would find a virtual raft of falsified FBI documents concerning Milteer, including one that asserted that Milteer was at his home in Quitman at the time of the assassination, which Adams knew for a fact was not true. Among other falsifications was the assertion that Milteer was 5’4” tall, a “fact” that led the House Committee on Assassinations to conclude that the man in the Dealey Plaza photograph was too tall to be Milteer and, besides, the FBI had said he was in Georgia at the time. In his report Adams had estimated Milteer’s height at 5’8”, but everything Adams had written up on Milteer, Adams discovered, is missing from the Archives.
None of this is to suggest that this minor political activist Milteer was any kind of key character in the plotting and execution of JFK’s assassination, but Adams has concluded that he must have had some connections that the FBI didn’t want anybody looking into. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover had proclaimed right off the bat that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone assassin, and everything the agency did subsequent to that was designed to prevent any embarrassment to Hoover.
More Evidence of Cover-Up
In 1964 Adams was transferred to Dallas and he continued to work on the assassination “investigation.” A couple of episodes that occurred two days apart give some insight into what it was like. In the first, Adams relates his reaction to watching the famous Zapruder film for the first time in the company of two senior Dallas agents:
As the three of us watched the film on a large screen, sitting approximately eight to 10 feet back, details emerged that can’t be seen in photographs or on a regular TV screen.
As soon as the president’s limousine came out from behind the sign and I saw him raise his elbows into the air and his hands go to his throat, I blurted out, “Hell that shot didn’t come from the rear: it came from the front.”
Then came the head shot. I observed how his head was flung backwards, with a large piece of skull and brain matter exploding into a mist to the left rear of the car.
One of the agents cautioned me to say nothing, adding that it had already been determined that Oswald shot the President from the rear out of a sixth-floor window at the Book Depository.
I remember saying at the time, “That’s bullshit.”
I am a Korean War veteran who saw serious action, and I know where a shot would have to come from for President Kennedy to react as he did. The three of us discussed this, but both agents stood firm, and warned me again that what I was implying could cause me problems. Still, I had seen what I had seen, and that led to only one conclusion: the president had been shot from the front!
The second exchange occurred when he visited the Texas School Book Depository and the sixth floor “sniper’s window,” in the company of two other senior agents.
“What was the time sequence and number of shots fired by Oswald?” I asked.
One of the agents said Oswald fired three shots in 7.5 seconds with a bolt-action, scoped rifle and that all three were on target. I looked out the window again, and noticed that the [intervening] tree had an opening at the top, separating the leaves. Again, I asked if Oswald had fired the shots with the tree in the same condition. The agent replied that the tree had not changed too much from the day of the shooting.
“There is no way Oswald fired three shots in a little over 7 seconds with a scoped, bolt-action rifle and made the hits he supposedly made,” I said, again relying on my war-time experience.
Eerily, like déjà vu, both agents cautioned me to keep any unorthodox observations to myself; essentially the same thing the other two agents had told me a few days earlier.
Reinforcement from Abraham Bolden
We often hear the argument made that massive cover-ups—conspiracies, if you will—are not possible because someone would invariably spill the beans. Certainly, Adams had a strong inkling that such a cover-up was taking place but he followed the counsel of those four senior agents and kept his silence. The first customer reviewer on Amazon.com, as a part of a generally very favorable review, initially faults him for it:
My disappointment in the writing is the fact that the author had this information for the past nearly 50 years and did not come forth to alert the American People. He knew of the fictitious Milteer documents, the Miami intercepted conversation between two parties discussing how to assassinate our president, and the outright lies and distortions that were placed in official documents concerning the whereabouts of suspects engaged in unlawful threats to assassinate our president. The author had this information, these documents, and these provable inconsistencies for an extended amount of time and chose to keep silent and become a participant in the conspiracy to mislead the American People as to the facts surrounding the assassination.
The reviewer has earned the right to be critical and has every reason to be bitter. He is Abraham Bolden, the first black Secret Service agent to be assigned to the President’s security detail, chosen explicitly by President Kennedy. He did come forward with evidence of extreme laxness if not criminal culpability by the Secret Service in the JFK assassination and all he accomplished by it was to get himself framed for a crime and sent off to prison. Most recently the first black president disappointed many of his followers by not granting Bolden a pardon.
A number of people respond to Bolden’s criticism, making him realize that he has not read Adams’s book with sufficient care.* Bolden, who has written his own book, The Echo from Dealey Plaza: The true story of the first African American on the White House Secret Service detail and his quest for justice after the assassination of JFK, then weighs in with this generous concluding statement:
I understand that Mr. Adams did not write his account of what occurred during his investigation into the assassination was due to the fact that many of the documents were not available to him or had been changed by persons unknown. I accept Mr. Adams’s explanation. I believe that if he had known the full extent of the cover-up, he would have supported me and would have stepped forth and told what he knew. That would have confirmed much of what I had stated earlier concerning prior investigation into the plans to assassinate President Kennedy. I am of the opinion that Mr. Adams, through his book, has done a great service to the American People and to the maintenance of our Republic.
Would You Have Spoken Out?
Bolden has set the facts straight, and it is very gracious of him to offer the opinion that Adams would have come forward had he known what he would find out later—one of Adams’s defenders on the forum is Adams’s daughter—but I am not sure that even Adams, himself, would agree with it. Listening to those four other agents in Dallas, to FBI Director Hoover, and following the national press, he had to have realized the power of the forces that were arrayed against him.
“Hoover, at the least, would had to have been party to any cover-up,” he writes on page 138. At the time that those four agents in Dallas offered their advice to Adams that he should keep his mouth shut, Hoover had already made his pronouncement that Oswald was the sole culprit. The young Adams was just beginning his FBI career, and he had to have seen which way the wind was blowing.
Now let’s have another look at that observation he makes about Hoover. There is absolutely no doubt that Hoover was a major player in the cover-up. But it goes further than that. The perpetrators had to know that the FBI would engage in a cover-up or it would have been much too dangerous for them to carry out the crime. That means that Hoover had to be a party to the crime, itself.
But Hoover was not the head of state. It would have been at least as dangerous for the perpetrators if the new president, Lyndon Johnson, could not be trusted not to pursue the conspirators. You don’t have to agree with Phillip Nelson that Johnson was the mastermind of the JFK assassination to see that LBJ had to have been a key party to the plot. It would have been entirely too dangerous for the plotters if he were not.
The Biggest Villains
But it goes even deeper than that. Again, for the sake of their own safety, the plotters had to be completely certain in advance that the entire press would be onboard. They had to be sure that any potential whistleblower from inside the cover-up would encounter what Miguel Rodriguez told Accuracy in Media’s Reed Irvine that he encountered in the Vince Foster case, a stone wall of silence…or worse.
Don Adams, at this late date, might have made a very valiant attempt, as Abraham Bolden says, to render a great service to the American people, but, unfortunately it has been largely futile. On page 121 he put his finger on the problem:
If there was a conspiracy to kill the president, has there not been an even more heinous conspiracy since? A conspiracy perpetrated to keep the truth hidden? And after nearly 50 years, isn’t it time for the secrecy to be discarded and the truth to be revealed?
Anyone wanting to stare directly into the ugly face of that ongoing conspiracy against the truth need look no further than here.
* For instance, R. A. Kiel, among other things, wrote the following addressing Bolden:
As for Don Adams – he is good friend of mine & I have met with him many times. He helped me on my book “J. Edgar Hoover: The Father of the Cold War”. The reason why he did not come forward earlier is because he did not find out about the tape recording of Milteer until the 1990’s, his reports & records had been altered &/or destroyed & he had been lied to for over 30 years. His house has recently burned down with all of his documents & records & he & his wife barely escaped with their lives.
He is truly an honest man & a patriot just like you!
See also, “John Connally, JFK, and Truth Suppression.” Adams concludes, as I do, that Connally’s testimony alone totally destroys the government’s single-gunman story.
On January 28 I received an email with the following message from Kris Milligan, the head of TrineDay, which published Adams’s book:
Great review! I loved Don so much. It still breaks my heart. We couldn’t get anyone in the press to interview him. During the 50th anniversary, we tried, PR web, phone calls, pr folks, a lady that worked at CNN tried, and Don, himself, also sent out notices. The only interviews were with Japanese and Norway TV. Not ONE Mainstream or even Amy Goodman would talk to him. Arrgh!
I was not aware of it when I wrote the review, but Don Adams died on June 14, 2014, at the age of 83.
It might have been more a result of the efforts of Adams and his very supportive family than anything Milligan did, but one, and apparently only one, interview of Adams did appear in the American press on the 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination. It was in Adams’s hometown Akron Beacon Journal. Considering the size of their market, it’s easy to see how Milligan could have missed it.