Hoover’s Endgame

Conspiracy theories: The FBI Theory.

By the fall of 1963, J. Edgar Hoover had anticipated that his long tenure as FBI director was coming to an end. Federal law required the 68-year-old to step down on his seventieth birthday, and he knew that Kennedy was eager to be rid of him. But rather than fading quietly into the background, Hoover orchestrated an early transfer of power to his ally LBJ, who, as president, could—and did—exempt him from mandatory retirement, allowing him to lord over the bureau until his death in 1972.

Scenario 1: Hoover knew of various plots to kill Kennedy but took no action, failing to inform the Secret Service of threats to the president’s life and taking an uncharacteristically hands-off approach to investigating possible conspirators.

Scenario 2: Oswald was an FBI informant who killed Kennedy on orders from the bureau.

Scenario 3: Oswald warned the FBI of plots to kill Kennedy, only to find himself framed and then silenced by fellow informant Jack Ruby.


Authors Mark North ( Act of Treason) and George O’Toole ( The Assassination Tapes).

Strange Details

• Ruby briefly worked as an FBI informant in 1959.

• The FBI’s number three man, William Sullivan, who had overseen the “internal security aspects” of the assassination investigation, was fatally shot in 1977 on a hunting expedition before testifying before the HSCA.

• When Oswald was a child, his favorite television show was I Led Three Lives, the story of an FBI counterspy.

Reasons to Believe

• The FBI had been keeping tabs on Oswald since at least 1960 but did not inform the Secret Service that he worked in a building along the motorcade route.

• Ten days before the assassination, Oswald dropped off a handwritten note at the FBI’s Dallas field office for James Hosty, a special agent who had been trailing him for several months. Hosty destroyed the note on orders from his superior the day Oswald was shot but never acknowledged its existence until 1975, when he explained that it had merely warned him to “stop harassing” Oswald’s wife, Marina. (He had questioned her twice in early November.) Some speculate that the note really contained violent threats; others think it was a warning from Oswald that someone in Dallas

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