On the eve of the release of thousands of previously classified documents regarding the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Arieh O’Sullivan, the son of the late Efraim “Fred” O’Sullivan, a native of New Orleans who had once served as the Intelligence Chief of the New Orleans Police Department, tells the Israeli newspaper Haaretz about his father’s extraordinary life, and it is an absolutely astonishing story.
Fred O’Sullivan, whose father and grandfather had both served on the NOPD, was a neighbor and classmate of Lee Harvey Oswald, who he told the Warren Commission “impressed me as the sort of fellow that would really fit well on the drill team.” Officer O’Sullivan was only 26 years old when he was asked to testify, and eventually, he would agree with the conclusions of the commission that Oswald was the lone gun man. But according to his son Arieh, Fred continually insisted and believed that his former classmate, Oswald, had somehow become under the influence of the local mafia and was convinced that the assassinations “of Kennedy and Martin Luther King crossed paths in New Orleans.”
“He could never elaborate on it, but he said the mafia was strong here, and it was part of his job to investigate the mafia, Arieh told Haarez. “He thought there was some kind of ties to the killings with the mafia. But he couldn’t prove anything.”
But Fred O’Sullivan was not merely a Kennedy assassination conspiracy theorist: He was a man who knew Oswald personally and who, later in life, helped to thwart an attempt on the life of President Nixon and also managed to extract a confession from the murderer of Medgar Evers.
“The father (Fred) was someone who in his policing days in New Orleans helped foil a plot to assassinate President Richard M. Nixon, arrested a KKK leader en route to planting a bomb at the home of the local head of the Anti-Defamation League, was targeted by the KKK for his work trying to break up that group in New Orleans,” Haaretz reported, “and in 1973 was shot in the arm by a young black man targeting white police officers from a hotel rooftop.”
Oswald’s connections to New Orleans have been a continued source of interest in recent years. A few months ago, as a part of History Channel show “JFK Declassified: Tracking Oswald,” former CIA agent Bob Baer visited New Orleans and discovered documentation that Oswald had frequented a car garage next to his office; the garage, as subsequently learned through records obtained through a FOIA request, was a hotbed for meetings between undercover agents, officers, and their sources.
According to another report published yesterday by CBS, the FBI had already been following Oswald in New Orleans, well before the assassination. “A mysterious document from the FBI’s New Orleans office express interest in tracking down Lee Harvey Oswald in the weeks before the assassination,” CBS reported. “The interest in Oswald appears to stem from his involvement in the New Orleans chapter of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, a pro-Castro group.”
Haaretz’s profile of Officer O’Sullivan is worth your time. It’s an astonishing story about an astonishing man, who, like many of his peers and colleagues, had always believed in the influence of members of the local mafia.
And it’s a story that needs to be read by every Louisianian.
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