Jack Revill joined the Dallas Police Department and June, 1958, he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant abd placed in charge of the criminal intelligence section. His duties involved investigating organized crime and subversive activities.
On the day that President John F. Kennedy was murdered Revill had a conversation with FBI agent, James Hosty. Revill claimed that Hosty told him that the FBI had information that Oswald was "capable of committing this assassination." When interviewed by the Warren Commission Hosty denied making the statement to Revill.
J. Lee Rankin: Do you know James P. Hosty, Jr.?
Jack Revell: Yes, sir; I do.
J. Lee Rankin: How long have you known him?
Jack Revell: I have known Jim, Mr. Hosty, since 1959, when I took over the intelligence section.
J. Lee Rankin: Did you see him on November 22?
Jack Revell: Yes, sir; I did.
J. Lee Rankin: Where.
Jack Revell: In the basement of the city hall.
J. Lee Rankin: Just before you saw Special Agent Hosty, where had you been?
Jack Revell: I had been at the Texas School Book Depository.
J. Lee Rankin: What did you do there?
Jack Revell: We conducted a systematic search of the building, evacuated the people working in the building, and took names, addresses, and phone numbers of all of these people before they were permitted to leave.
J. Lee Rankin: Where did you see Special Agent Hosty?
Jack Revell: If I might explain that, I followed Mr. Hosty into the basement of the city hall. He drove into the basement, parked his car, I did the same, and Mr. Hosty departed from his car, ran over to where I was standing, Detective Brian and I.
The other two officers, Westphal and Tarver, as well as I recall, had remained in the rear talking to some other officers. I don't know who they were At that time everything was mass confusion, and we were all upset...Mr. Hosty ran over to me and he says, "Jack" - now as I recall these words - "a Communist killed President Kennedy."
I said, "What?"
He said, "Lee Oswald killed President Kennedy."
I said, "Who is Lee Oswald?"
He said, "He is in our Communist file. We knew he was here in Dallas." At that time Hosty and I started walking off, and Brian, as well as I recall, sort of stayed back, and as we got onto the elevator or just prior to getting on the elevator Mr. Hosty related that they had information that this man was capable of this, and at this I blew up at him, and I said, "Jim" -
J. Lee Rankin: What did he say in regard to his being capable?
Jack Revell: This was it. They had - "We had information that this man was capable".
J. Lee Rankin: Of what?
Jack Revell: Of committing this assassination. This is what I understood him to say.
J. Lee Rankin: Are those his exact words?
Jack Revell: As well as I recall. Give him the benefit of the doubt; I might have misunderstood him. But I don't believe I did, because the part about him being in Dallas, and the fact that he was a suspected Communist, I understand by the rules of the Attorney General they cannot tell us this, but the information about him being capable, I felt that we had taken a part in the security measures for Mr. Kennedy, and if such, if such information was available to another law enforcement agency, I felt they should have made it known to all of us, and I asked Hosty where he was going at that time. By this time we were on the elevator and he said he was going up to homicide and robbery to tell Captain Fritz the same thing. I said, "Do you know Captain Fritz?" and he said he had never met him. I said, "All right, I will take you up and introduce you to Captain Fritz." So Detective Brian and I and Hosty went to the third floor of the city hall and went to Captain Fritz' office, the homicide and robbery bureau. We didn't see Captain Fritz, he may or may not have been there. His office door was closed.
As soon as I walked into Gordon Shanklin's smoke-filled office, I saw the copy of the newspaper lying on his desk. I grabbed it. Staring back at me in bold, black print was the front-page headline: "FBI KNEW OSWALD CAPABLE OF ACT, REPORTS INDICATE."
"Oh God," I groaned.
I quickly scanned the first few paragraphs while Shanklin sat quietly behind his desk puffing away. The story read, "A source close to the Warren Commission told the Dallas News Thursday that the Commission has testimony from Dallas police that an FBI agent told them moments after the arrest and identification of Lee Harvey Oswald on November 22, that 'we knew he was capable of assassinating the president, but we didn't dream he would do it...' In a memorandum to supervisors on Nov. 22, Lt. Jack Revill, head of the Dallas police criminal intelligence squad, reported that FBI special agent James (Joe) Hosty had acknowledged awareness of Oswald in the basement of the City Hall at 2:05 PM, Nov. 22. His remark was made as five officers brought Oswald in from Oak Cliff, Revill reported.
The article ended with some enlightening comments from the police: "Dallas police officers watched several known extremists prior to the Kennedy visit and even sent representatives as far as 75 miles to interview others thought to be planning demonstrations. Police chief Jesse Curry privately has told friends, 'If we had known that a defector or a Communist was anywhere in this town, let alone on the parade route, we would have been sitting on his lap, you can bet on that.' But he refused public comment."
The police were blatantly trying to wriggle out from under a rock. . . . I wanted to laugh. The police had a long list of well known Communists in Dallas, and not one had a police officer sitting on his lap on November 22. In fact, Detective H. M. Hart told me that the police neither picked up nor watched anyone the day of November 22. Clearly, someone from the police department had fed this story to reporter Hugh Aynesworth...
J. Edgar Hoover came out blasting. He categorically denied the story's contentions. Revill himself partially retracted some of the article's allegations; he told the Dallas Times Herald that the comment that I never dreamed Oswald would kill the president was all someone else's fabrication. But Aynesworth and the Morning News had done the damage. It would prove to be irreversible regarding my relationships with the Dallas police and the Dallas media.
Two of my fellow agents, Bob Barrett and Ike Lee, later told me about their conversation with Revill after the story broke. Revill told Barrett and Lee that he had not wanted his November 22 memo to be released to the Warren Commission or the press, but police chief Jesse Curry threatened to charge Revill with filing a false police report if Revill wouldn't swear to the truth in his memo. The police then got a memo from Detective Jackie Bryan, who had been standing near Revill and me during this brief garage conversation. Contrary to Aynesworth's assertion, Bryan supported my version of the events. He reported that he did not hear me make any kind of comment suggesting I knew Oswald was capable of killing the president.
About a week after the assassination, Aynesworth, along with Bill Alexander, an assistant district attorney in Dallas, decided to find out if Lee Oswald had been an informant of the Dallas FBI, and of mine in particular. To this end, they concocted a totally false story about how Lee Oswald was a regularly paid informant of the Dallas FBI. At the time, I had no idea what information the Houston Post was relying on; it wasn't until February 1976, in Esquire magazine, that Aynesworth finally admitted he and Alexander had lied and made up the entire story in an effort to draw the FBI out on this issue. They said Oswald was paid $200 a month and even made up an imaginary informant number for Oswald, S172 - which was not in any way how the FBI classified their informants. Aynesworth then fed this story to Lonnie Hudkins of the Post, who ran it on January 1, 1964. Hudkins cited confidential but reliable sources for his story's allegations. The FBI issued a flat denial of the Post story. I was once again prohibited by Bureau procedure from commenting. It was clear that they were pointing a finger at me, since I was known to be the agent in charge of the Oswald file.
Agent Hosty testified that he was fully aware of the pending Presidential visit to Dallas. He recalled that the special agent in charge of the Dallas office of the FBI, J. Gordon Shanklin, had discussed the President's visit on several occasions, including the regular biweekly conference on the morning of November 22.
In fact, Hosty participated in transmitting to the Secret Service two pieces of information pertaining to the visit. Hosty testified that he did not know until me evening of Thursday November 21, that there was to be a motorcade, however, and never realized that the motorcade would pass the Texas School Book Depository Building. He testified that he did not read the newspaper story describing the motorcade route in detail since he was interested only in the fact that the motorcade was coming up Main Street, "where maybe I could watch it if
I had a chance."
Even if he had recalled that Oswald's place of employment was on the President's route, Hosty testified that he would not have cited him to the Secret Service as a potential threat to the President. Hosty interpreted his instructions as
requiring "some indication that the person planned to take some action against the safety of the President of the United States or the Vice President." In his opinion, none of the information in the FBI files - Oswald's defection, his Fair Play for Cuba activities in New Orleans, his lies to Agent Quigley, his recent visit to Mexico City - indicated that Oswald was capable of violence. Hosty's initial reaction on hearing that Oswald was a suspect in the assassination, was "shock, complete surprise," because he had no reason to believe that Oswald "was capable or potentially an assassin of the President of the United States."
Shortly after Oswald was apprehended and identified, Hosty's superior sent him to observe the interrogation of Oswald. Hosty parked his car in the basement of police headquarters and there met an acquaintance, Lt. Jack Revill of the Dallas police force. The two men disagree about the conversation which took place between them. They agree that Hosty told Revill that the FBI had known about, Oswald and, in particular, of his presence in Dallas and his employment at the Texas School Book Depository Building. Revill testified that Hosty said also that the FBI had information that Oswald was "capable of committing this assassination." According to Revill, Hosty indicated that he was going to tell this to Lieutenant Wells of the homicide and robbery bureau. Revill promptly made a memorandum of this conversation in which the quoted statement appears. His secretary testified that she prepared such a report for him that afternoon and Chief of Police - Jesse E. Curry and District Attorney Henry M. Wade both testified that they saw it later that day.
Hosty has unequivocally denied, first by affidavit and then in his testimony before the Commission, that he ever said that Oswald was capable of violence, or that he had any information suggesting this. The only witness to the conversation was Dallas Police Detective V. J. Brian, who was accompanying Revill. Brian did not hear Hosty make any statement concerning Oswald's capacity to be an assassin but he did not hear the entire conversation because of the commotion at police headquarters and because he was not within hearing distance at all times.
As I reported in the News five months later, under the two-column headline "FBI Knew Oswald Capable of Act, Reports Indicate," Hosty arrived at City Hall about 2:05 and rode up in an elevator with Lt. Jack Revill, head of the DPD Criminal Intelligence Squad, and Officer V. J. "Jackie" Bryan. According to Revill's written account of the episode, typed up 45 minutes later and delivered to Chief Curry that afternoon, in the basement Hosty "stated that the Federal Bureau of Investigation was aware of the Subject (Oswald) and that they had information that this Subject was capable of committing the assassination of President Kennedy."
Hosty denied making the statement to Revill. Over the years he has refused my interview requests.
A few months after the assassination, I asked Gordon Shanklin why the bureau didn't at least tell the Dallas police about Oswald, and where he worked. I observed that the cops surely would have wanted to babysit such a character.
"We didn't want him to lose his job," Shanklin explained.
"Well, Mr. Kennedy lost his," I said quickly, appalled at what I'd just heard.
Though Shanklin never deliberately-to my knowledge anyway-caused me any difficulty, I was told by some of his agents that I was not his favorite person.
According to Dallas Police Lieutenant Jack Revill, an F.B.I, agent came up to him at Dallas police headquarters at 2:50 P.M. and said that the Bureau had "information that this suspect was capable of committing the assassination." The agent who brought this welcome news and was the first to mention the name of Lee Harvey Oswald was none other than James Hosty.
Was Hosty merely an innocent messenger, or had he and possibly others in the Bureau been involved in a plot to set up Oswald as the patsy? If F.B.I, employees had been part of the conspiracy, then that might explain why the Bureau had mysteriously failed to act on the warning sent over its telex system five days before the assassination and why no one responded to. the letter of warning that Richard Case Nagell claimed to have sent to J. Edgar Hoover. It also might explain why Oswald, who evidently did not get along with Hosty and may have sensed that he was being set up, had sent a telegram to the secretary of the Navy ten days before the assassination.