I have an inclination toward the mysterious and strange happenings with the Kennedy assassination. The story of Otto Otepka, a security analyst for the State Department, caught my interest on Joan Mellen’s (author, Farewell to Justice) web site. She had found Otepka through her research and traveled to Florida to interview him. It’s an intriguing story how a dedicated public servant became intertwined with men of ruthless power and the alleged killer of a president.
Otto Otepka, born in Chicago of Czech-born immigrant parents, had spent most of his life working in security. In 1953 he started working for the State Department and his big break came in 1957, when he was promoted to Deputy Director of the State Department Office of Security. This made him the chief security evaluator at Department of State and his main task was to review and issue security clearances to various officials coming into government service.
Otepka also had security briefings cross his desk and by 1960 the government was very interested in all American defectors to communist countries. In October of that year, Otepka first ran across the name, Lee Oswald, who was listed as a tourist. His file also had the designation, #39-61981. In this case, “39” being an intelligence file number. He took note of Oswald and began assembling a file on him. Over time, Otepka noticed Oswald’s ability to easily come and go and get visas and other paperwork approved tremendously fast. He forwarded this information to other branches of government that would also be interested such as the CIA and Office of Naval Intelligence.
Eventually he would get the notice of Robert Kennedy and had his one and only meeting with him in December of 1960. Bobby was his usual anal self, not apologizing for showing up late. They had a row over a Kennedy loyalist, W. W. Rostow, that Otepka had not given a security clearance to. Otepka had never felt right about the man and had denied an earlier clearance, twice, back in the mid 1950s. Bobby left in a huff, without ever getting his man a security clearance.
And thus began the beginning of the end of Otto Otepka’s career at the Department of State. Soon, Kennedy men were brought in to be his supervisors. His trash would be stolen and his phone illegally wire tapped. Finally, after many indignities—which included phony charges brought against him for allegedly releasing classified files—he had not—his job was phased out all together. By November 5, 1963, Otepka was finally driven out of the State Department. Just seventeen days later, John Kennedy would be assassinated by the very man he was trying to investigate. But the in the years before he was ousted, Otepka continued his research on Oswald. Eventually, his office safe was broken into and a file stolen. What file would that be? Of course, the Oswald file! (Notice the reoccurring trend of files going missing—Kilgallen’s JFK files after her death and Win Scott’s files/tapes confiscated by Arlington out of his home safe after his passing.)
At first, Otepka thought all of this was revenge for not granting the Rostow clearance. In retirement he started to examine what happened and concluded it was his investigation into Lee Oswald that ruined his career and drove him out of government service. More specifically, it was Robert Kennedy that was behind it all, the wire taps, having cronies monitor Otepka’s work, and generally abusive treatment. Otepka would have never imagined that a routine request sent up the channels, to further study an unknown “tourist” such as Lee Oswald would have placed him in such hot water. Was Bobby and boys using Oswald in some clandestine operation, say an assassination attempt against Castro and Bobby sought to cover it up? Maybe. Or maybe there was some other reason, or operation, buried in a file somewhere waiting to be released someday in the future. At any rate, Oswald was a hot potato to all who touched him.
What we have here are people in high positions of power, who knew things about Oswald and knew early on. And, they don’t want anybody lower on the food chain investigating this matter either. Bobby’s funk he experienced at the death of his beloved brother takes on a new meaning since we now know that he knew the name of his brother’s killer long before events unfolded.
As former CIA director Richard Helms once said, “No one will ever know who or what Lee Harvey Oswald represented.” He implies here that he knows more than he will ever admit to, a clever way of letting the outsiders know his insider status. If Oswald is the long nut gunman as the government has long maintained, then why ponder what he represents? He’s the lone nut!
Unless of course, he was something else.
Sources: www.joanmellen.com; DiEugenio, Pease, The Assassinations; Newman, Oswald and the CIA