- Public Domain / wikimedia
- An FBI memo notes an anonymous call to the Cambridge News ahead of the shooting. A reporter was told to watch of for “big news” 25 minutes before President Kennedy was shot in Dallas. A record of the call was disseminated at the highest levels of the FBI. Read the full transcript of the note below.
A local newspaper in England became an unlikely participant in the story of President John F Kennedy’s assassination when US security services noticed a bizarre tip-off, which came to a reporter shortly before the shooting.
An FBI document linked to the killing reveals that a journalist for the Cambridge News was told to expect a major story from the US, 25 minutes before Kennedy was shot.
The unnamed journalist received a call from an anonymous tipster on November 22, 1963, with instruction to “call the American Embassy in London for some big news.” The caller then hung up.
Twenty-five minutes later, Kennedy was fatally shot as his motorcade drove through downtown Dallas.
- US National Archives
The existence of the memo suggests that the FBI was at least considering the possibility that somebody in England knew about the assassination in advance. There is scant evidence for this theory, however.
The information was disseminated at the highest levels of the FBI and was ultimately sent to the agency’s director, J. Edgar Hoover.
According to calculations by the security services, the call came at 6.05 p.m. in England, which was 12.05 p.m. in Dallas. Kennedy was shot at 12.30 p.m.
The news would not be widely heard in Britain for about half an hour, however, as the technology of the 1960s struggled to transmit the news as quickly as today.
When the Cambridge News reporter learned of the assassination, he told the local police about the call. They passed it on to MI5, Britain’s domestic security agency. From there it was passed on to the CIA, which told the FBI.
The note said the reporter had never received an anonymous call like it before and described him as trustworthy (“a sound and loyal person with no security record”).
The document is publicly viewable on the website of the US National Archives after a mass release of files on the order of President Donald Trump.
The document was released in a list of documents marked “formerly released in part”, suggesting that it may have been available earlier but simply went unnoticed.
The role of the newspaper appeared to come as a surprise to the current staff of the Cambridge News. Its political correspondent published a photograph the morning after the news came out of colleagues scouring the newspaper’s archives for more information about the mysterious call:
— Josh Thomas (@JoshThomasCN) October 27, 2017
Here’s a transcript of the memo:
FOR: Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation
SUBJECT: Assassination of President Kennedy – reported Anonymous Telephone Message
1. The following cable from the CIA Station in London was reported orally to Mr. Samuel Pepich at 0930 on 23 November:
2. The British Security Service (MI-5) has reported that at 1805 GMY on 22 November an anonymous telephone call was made in Cambridge, England, to the senior reporter of the Cambridge News. The caller said only that the Cambridge News reporter should call the American Embassy in London from some big news and then hung up.
3. After the word of the President’s death was received the reporter informed the Cambridge police of the anonymous call and the police informed MI-5. The important point is that the call was made, according to MI-5 calculations, about 25 minutes before the President was shot. The Cambridge reporter had never received a call of this kind before and MI-5 state that he is known to them as a sound and loyal person with no security record.
4. MI-5 noted that similar anonymous phone calls of a strangely coincidental nature have been received by persons in the U.K. over the past year, particularly in connection with the case of Dr. Ward.
5. The British Security Service stated its desire to assist in every possible way on any follow-up investigations required with the United Kingdom.
FOR THE DEPUTY DIRECTOR (PLANS): James Angleton