Published in The Athens Observer, p. 9A (February 26, 1987).
Author: Donald E. Wilkes, Jr., Professor of Law, University of Georgia School of Law.
In three articles published in recent issues of The Athens Observer, I examined a possible Georgia connection to the assassination of President Kennedy through a now deceased south Georgia political extremist, Joseph Adams Milteer. On Nov. 9, 1963, approximately two weeks before Kennedy was slain, Milteer was recorded on tape telling a police informer chilling details of a plan to kill Kennedy that was in the works. Since completion of those articles, I have uncovered additional information on Milteer and his associates. This information tends to strengthen suspicions of a possible Milteer connection to the President Kennedy's death.
The information comes from Warren Commission Document 1347. This document, which was never published by the Warren Commission, is a report to the Commission from the FBI concerning Milteer. CD 1347 was originally kept secret. In 1971 in his book Frame-Up Harold Weisberg reproduced several pages of CD 1347. One page of CD 1347 was withheld from Weisberg and the public for 12 years. The withheld page is reproduced in a book by Peter Model and Robert Groden, JFK: The Case for Conspiracy, published in 1976.
Examination of these published pages of CD 1347 discloses the following information about Milteer.
First: the FBI had information that Milteer was violence prone. According to page 119 of the document, an informer reported to the FBI that on Nov. 9, 1963, Milteer told the informer "that he [Milteer] would be willing to help [assassinate the president]." Presumably the informer is Willie Somersett, and the conversation is the one surreptitiously recorded by Somersett. The FBI apparently did not tell the Warren Commission about the existence of the recording.
Second: the FBI had information that Milteer had visited Dallas on one or more occasions prior to Nov. 22, 1963, the date of the assassination. Page 120 of the document has additional information on Milteer's statements on the date after the assassination. According to page 120, "MILTEER departed Jacksonville, Florida, by automobile en route to Columbia, South Carolina. During this trip, MILTEER stated that he had been in Houston, Ft. Worth, and Dallas, as well as New Orleans, La., Biloxi and Jackson, Miss., and Tuscaloosa, Ala."
In another part of CD 1347, containing the report of the FBI's interview of Milteer on Nov. 27,1963, Milteer is stated to have told the agents that he had been in Dallas earlier in 1963. According to the interview report: "MILTEER stated ... that in June, 1963, he went to Dallas, Texas, to attempt to persuade DAN SMOOT ... to run for vice president on a third party ticket. He stated that he had no other business in Dallas." (It is noteworthy that in this brief interview the FBI agents evidently never asked Milteer about where he was on Nov. 22, 1963. Many other persons interviewed by the FBI were asked this question.)
Third: there is additional evidence that Milteer knew in advance of plans to kill President Kennedy. On page 119 of CD 1347, as noted above, Milteer is quoted as saying on Nov. 9, 1963 that he would be willing to help in the assassination of Kennedy. According to page 120, the following colloquy took place between Milteer and an informer (presumably Somersett) the day after the assassination: "When questioned as to whether he was guessing when he originally made the threat regarding President KENNEDY [in the recorded conversation of Nov. 9], MILTEER is quoted as saying, 'I don't do any guessing.'"
Even more significant information is found on page 121 of CD 1347, which was suppressed from the public until 1976 when it was published in Model and Groden's book. According to page 121, Milteer had a conversation with an informer (presumably Somersett) on the morning of Nov. 24, 1963, at the Wade Hampton Hotel in Columbia, S. C. During this conversation "MILTEER advised that they did not have to worry about LEE HARVEY OSWALD getting caught because he 'doesn't know anything' and that the 'right wing' is in the clear. MILTEER further related that, 'The patriots have outsmarted the communists and had infiltrated the communist group in order that they [the communists] could carry out the plan without the right wingers becoming involved.'"
It appears from page 122 of the document that the FBI's informer "advised that based on his contact with MILTEER he could not definitely state whether MILTEER was acquainted with either RUBY or OSWALD." Thus, the informer on whom the FBI relied to spy on Milteer was unwilling to rule out the possibility of a connection between Milteer and either Jack Ruby or Lee Harvey Oswald.
This additional information from CD 1347, as noted, would seem to support belief in the possibility of a Georgia connection to the JFK assassination. It also seems to confirm the need for a thorough, renewed official investigation of the political murder that nearly 25 years later still makes the heart sick.