Alan H. Belmont

Alan H. Belmont

Alan Harnden Belmont was born in New York City in 1907. He studied at Diego State College before receiving his degree from Stanford University in 1931. He worked as an account for five years before joining the FBI in 1946. He was initially assigned to Birmingham, Alabama before serving at FBI headquarters in Washington.

Belmont worked in Chicago and Cincinnati before being appointed assistant to Special Agent in Charge in New York in 1944. He held this post until 1950 when he was transferred to Washington and became head of the Domestic Intelligence Division. He now had responsibility for investigating the Mafia. In 1953 he wrote a memo to assistant director, D. M. Ladd: "The Mafia is an alleged organization... The organization's existence in the U.S. is doubtful."

In June, 1961, Belmont was assistant director under J. Edgar Hoover. He was now in charge of all investigative work. This included the investigation of the assassination of John F. Kennedy. According to Donald Gibson (The Kennedy Assassination Cover-Up): "Alan Belmont... was the primary official in charge of FBI activities following the assassination. It is Belmont, not Hoover, who ran the FBI cover-up."

On 28th August, 1964, Belmont received a memo that suggested that the Warren Commission had doubts about the authenticity of the palm print found on the Mannlicher-Carcano rifle: "J. Lee Rankin advised because of the circumstances that now exist there was a serious question in the minds of the Commission as to whether or not the palm print impression that has been obtained from the Dallas Police Department is a legitimate latent print impression removed from the rifle barrel or whether it was obtained from some other source." However, Belmont was able to persuade members of the committee to accept the authenticity of the palm print.

According to William C. Sullivan, Belmont played an important role in smearing leaders of the civil rights movement including the campaign against Martin Luther King.

Belmont retired from the FBI in 1965 and was replaced as assistant director by Cartha DeLoach. Belmont was then appointed as assistant director of the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace, an ultra-conservative think tank. Belmont's boss was Wesley G. Campbell, and important figure in the American Enterprise Institute and the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Primary Sources

(1) Donald Gibson, The Kennedy Assassination Cover-Up (2000)

As all serious students of the assassination know, individuals within the FBI participated in various ways in the cover-up process. This author has no doubt that J. Edgar Hoover was complicit in this activity and that his complicity was necessary for the cover-up to be effective. However, Hoover does not appear to be the leading figure within the FBI in these events. Accounts such as that provided by Mark North, Act of Treason, are particularly misleading. North not only makes Hoover primary in the FBI's complicity in the cover-up, a fairly common mistake, but also attempts to implicate Hoover in events leading up to the assassination. There is no direct evidence to link Hoover to the planning or carrying out of the assassination.

The review of the facts that follows shows that Alan Belmont, the number three man in the formal hierarchy of the FBI, was the primary official in charge of FBI activities following the assassination. It is Belmont, not Hoover, who ran the FBI cover-up...

In his last FBI position, Belmont was in charge of all investigative matters, including general criminal matters, organized crime, and those related to domestic intelligence. Testifying before the Warren Commission in May of 1964, Belmont described in general terms his involvement in the investigation of the assassination. Belmont testified that he was involved in the investigation from the time of the assassination. Belmont recounted that even before President Johnson requested it, "we" went into action. Immediately after the assassination, the FBI began working with the Dallas police and they sent men to participate in the interview of Oswald. Belmont stated that he also "participated in or supervised the preparation of reports and other correspondence to the Commission.""

In attendance for Belmont's testimony were the following: Chief Justice Earl Warren; Rep. Gerald Ford (part of the time); John J. McCloy; Allen Dulles; J. Lee Rankin, General Counsel; David Belin, assistant counsel; Norman Redlich, assistant counsel; Samuel A. Stem, assistant counsel; Charles Murray, observer from the American Bar Association. None of the three Commissioners who ended up having some problems with the final report were present.

Much of the time was spent on FBI knowledge of Oswald prior to the assassination, on the FBI's working relationship with the Secret Service, and general procedural matters. No one asked Belmont to comment on any of the known problems in the investigation (e.g., discrepancies about the location of wounds; the difficulty of the shooting if it was done by a lone assassin using the alleged murder weapon; the FBI's own conclusions about the sequence and timing of the shots, which was not in accordance with the Commission's eventual conclusions). Even though Belmont had served in Chicago, no one asked him if he had any knowledge of Jack Ruby, who was in Chicago around the time that Belmont was there. McCloy did go out of his way to solicit from Belmont an opinion that Oswald was the lone assassin and that there was "no evidence" to suggest a conspiracy."

There is not much of interest in this testimony beyond what was not discussed. There is one exception. Belmont clearly indicates that from the time of the assassination, it was he, not Hoover, who was directing things. Belmont's statements in this regard are supported by the available documentary evidence. J. Edgar Hoover, unquestionably complicit in the cover-up, played second fiddle in this orchestra. He was not the first fiddle, nor the conductor, nor the owner of the orchestra.

On November 22, 1963, at 2:21 P.M., Eastern Standard Time (EST), Hoover prepared a memo informing top officials of the FBI (Deputy Director Clyde Tolson, Assistant Director Allan Belmont, and six others) of his conversation with James J. Rowley, Chief of Secret Service. Less than one hour after the assassination, Hoover apparently had no significant information. He informs his subordinates that he and Rowley discussed possible elements behind the assassination, Rowley talking about Mexico and Cuba, Hoover about the Klu Klux Klan." It is clear that both men were open to the possibility of a conspiracy in this first hour.

Later in the afternoon, Hoover produced another memo which was ready at 4:01 P.M., but sent out with the previous memo at 5:00 P.M. This was also an internal memo addressed to the same list of FBI officials, including Tolson and Belmont. This memo reports Hoover's conversation with Attorney General Robert Kennedy and the information Hoover had received concerning Oswald." Hoover said in the memo that he had told RFK that he "thought we had the man who killed the President down in Dallas at the present time." Hoover provided the following information on the man: his name is Lee Harvey Oswald; he worked in the building from which shots were fired; he was involved in the Fair Play for Cuba Committee; he has communist leanings but is apparently not a member of the Communist Party; he went to Russia and stayed three years; he returned to the U.S. in June, 1963 [1962]; he went to Cuba several times and would not explain those trips.

The final item was apparently not true of Oswald, but was true of the man, Jack Ruby, who would kill Oswald less than 48 hours later. It is a strange error and coincidence. Hoover also noted in this memo, and apparently told RFK, that the FBI had received a couple of tips suggesting that other people may have been involved in the assassination. Finally, Hoover stated that he had instructed the FBI in Dallas to go to police headquarters and participate in the interrogation of Oswald.

A third memo from Hoover to Tolson, Belmont, et al., was written at 5:15 P.M. on the 22nd; it summarized a telephone call from Assistant Attorney General Norbert A. Schlel, Office of Legal Counsel, to Hoover." Hoover reports that Schlel wanted to know "what kind of people murdered the President," asking if they were "madmen" or "segregationist madmen." Hoover wrote that he had told Schlel that "very probably we had in custody the man who killed the President in Dallas but this had not definitely been established."

(2) William C. Sullivan, The Bureau: My Thirty Years in Hoover's FBI (1979)

Late in 1964, Alan Belmont (then the number three man) called me into his office and told me that Hoover and Tolson wanted some excerpts of tapes obtained by bugging King's hotel rooms sent to King's wife Coretta. I told Belmont that even if the tapes were sent anonymously, Coretta King would know they were from the FBI.

Belmont told me that Hoover had already made the decision, and that since the case was in my division, I was to arrange to have a package of the tapes prepared by the FBI Laboratory sent to Mrs. King from Tampa, Florida. A laboratory employee brought a box containing the tape to my office. I called in a veteran agent whom I trusted and gave him the assignment of flying to Tampa and mailing it from a post office there.

Enclosed in the box with the tape, I learned later, was an unsigned note to Dr. King warning him, "your end is approaching ... you are finished." The letter suggested that the tape might be publicly released, and ended, "You are done. There is but one way out for you. ..." The purpose of the tape, according to Belmont, was to silence King's criticism of Hoover by causing a break between King and his wife which would reduce King's stature and therefore weaken him as a leader.

I had not heard or seen the tape, and I did not know about the unsigned note until it surfaced in the press.

Experiences are really not transferable, but it is important to have an understanding of the weird circumstances in which we worked. I had literally thousands of cases under my jurisdiction, and because of the weakness of Hoover's administrative policies, the workload on some key officials like myself was enormous.