Murder, Inc.


Murder, Inc.

The CIA under John F. Kennedy

James H. Johnston

368 pages
10 photographs, 3 appendixes


August 2019


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March 2022


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eBook (EPUB)
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August 2019


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eBook (PDF)
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August 2019


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About the Book

Late in his life, former president Lyndon B. Johnson told a reporter that he didn’t believe the Warren Commission’s finding that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in killing President John F. Kennedy. Johnson thought Cuban president Fidel Castro was behind it. After all, Johnson said, Kennedy was running “a damned Murder, Inc., in the Caribbean,” giving Castro reason to retaliate. 

Murder, Inc., tells the story of the CIA’s assassination operations under Kennedy up to his own assassination and beyond. James H. Johnston was a lawyer for the Senate Intelligence Committee in 1975, which investigated and first reported on the Castro assassination plots and their relation to Kennedy’s murder. Johnston examines how the CIA steered the Warren Commission and later investigations away from connecting its own assassination operations to Kennedy’s murder. He also looks at the effect this strategy had on the Warren Commission’s conclusions that assassin Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone and that there was no foreign conspiracy.

Sourced from in-depth research into the “secret files” declassified by the JFK Records Act and now stored in the National Archives and Records Administration, Murder, Inc. is the first book to narrate in detail the CIA’s plots against Castro and to delve into the question of why retaliation by Castro against Kennedy was not investigated.

Author Bio

James H. Johnston is a lawyer, writer, and historian in Washington DC. He is the coauthor of The Recollections of Margaret Cabell Brown Loughborough: A Southern Woman’s Memories of Richmond, VA, and Washington, DC, in the Civil War and the author of From Slave Ship to Harvard: Yarrow Mamout and the History of an African American Family. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, White House History, the Legal Times of Washington, American Lawyer, and the Maryland Historical Society Magazine.


"Murder, Inc. is an outstanding, well-researched probe that holds many questions, unexpected findings, and evidence-based examination of not just JFK's operations, but the CIA's involvements overseas. It should be in collections strong in JFK and political history alike."—Diane Donovan, Donovan's Bookshelf

"Anybody who has even a vague interest in the JFK assassination mystery will be delighted to read this well-polished prose."—Pennsylvania Literary Journal

“The Cold War is often celebrated as a great Western victory that was won without firing a shot. James Johnston’s extensive research and exceptional writing reminds us that a lot of shots were fired. This important story contains lots of lessons learned for Americans honest enough to read and remember its details.”—Bob Kerrey, former U.S. senator from Nebraska

“Many an author has entered the historical thicket that surrounds John F. Kennedy and his administration's adventures in Cuba. None, however, match James Johnston’s thoroughness of research, lucid writing, and balanced assessment of the president’s obsession and its haunting implications.”—Loch K. Johnson, author of Spy Watching: Intelligence Accountability in the United States

“James Johnston offers a thorough analysis of the newly released JFK assassination papers. Readers may draw their own conclusions, but one lesson is clear: the American intelligence community must always strive to be transparent and maintain the public’s trust.”—David L. Boren, former U.S. senator and president emeritus of the University of Oklahoma

Table of Contents

Chapter 1.  Castro, Oswald, and Kennedy
Chapter 2.  The Bay of Pigs
Chapter 3.  Mongoose
Chapter 4.  Missile Crisis
Chapter 5.  The Brigade
Chapter 6.  Fidel and Hidell
Chapter 7.  Oswald in New Orleans
Chapter 8.  Assassins and Spies
Chapter 9.  AMLASH
Chapter 10.  Mexico City
Chapter 11.  Hubris
Chapter 12.  Carpe Diem
Chapter 13.  The Plot Accelerates
Chapter 14.  The Last Weekend
Chapter 15.  A Barrier Once Removed
Chapter 16.  John Kennedy and the Rogue Elephant
Chapter 17.  Washington, Paris, and Dallas
Chapter 18.  November 22, 1963 in Dallas
Chapter 19.  November 22, 1963 in Other Cities .
Chapter 20.  The Days After
Chapter 21.  The Investigation, What’s in a Name
Chapter 22.  The Investigation Sputters On
Chapter 23.  Regime Change
Chapter 24.  The Warren Report.
Chapter 25.  The Never Ending Investigations.
Chapter 26.  John Kennedy and the CIA
Chapter 27.  Lyndon Johnson and the CIA
Appendix A.  Where It Might Have Led
Appendix B.  Richard Helms Testimony on the Assassination Investigation
Appendix C. Sources and Secret Files

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