Saturday, November 30, 2013

Veciana Identiies Phillips as Bishop

Out of the Woodwork - Veciana Identifies Phillips as the Man who Ran Oswald 
There was the predictable media frenzy on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy, much of which drowned out some of the real , recent revelations that have filled in some of the missing pieces to the Dealey Plaza puzzle and answered some of the outstanding questions about that still unresolved cold case homicide.
With the deadline rush to get major scholarly and academic works on the assassination completed – such as new or substantially revised books by Bill Turner, Bob Groden, Bill Simpich, John Newman, Max Holland, Tony Summers and many others , new witnesses, some we had never heard of before,  have come out of the woodwork, while others have reluctantly come forward to fill in their small pieces to the few remaining blank holes in the puzzle.

From an article in Esquire (“Flight from Dallas”) we finally learn what became of President Kennedy’s new and unopened Catholic Missile prayer book, which was taken from bedside aboard Air Force One to serve as a makeshift bible the new President could use to be sworn in.
LBJ’s first order was to take off, so some of those aboard – Judge Hughes, photographer Cecil Staughton, a Press pool reporter, Chief Curry and a couple of Texas Congressman, deplaned, and JFK’s catholic missile disappeared. It was a mystery for years, decades, but now it is revealed that Lady Bird, LBJ’s wife, kept it as a souvenier, and it is now historically enshrined at the LBJ Library in Austin, Texas.
Among those participants and witnesses to significant events who were located and interviewed or came forward over the 50th anniversary were Maj. Harold Patterson, aka “Stranger,”  who was in the White House Situation Room at the time of the assassination, Mrs. Dorman, widow of Col. George Dorman, General LeMay’s aide, who  was also working at the White House when they learned the president was shot.
Navy Commander Steel, who led ONI investigations of Oswald after his defection and the assassination, was interviewed on the record shortly before he died this year, and former US Army Interagency Communications Agency (USAICA) Lieutenant Norman Katz was officially relieved of his secrecy oath to reveal details of his job as part of the “Continuity of Government Project” at the White House that day.

In addition, new information about the “Man on the Motorcycle in Mexico City” was published by Tony Summers, and American film actor Ricahard Beymer was questioned about the rumor he attended a party with Oswald in Mexico City.
The most important piece to the Dealey Plaza Puzzle was finally revealed by Marie Fonzi, the widow of investigative reporter and Congressional investigator Gaeton Fonzi, who passed away about a year ago.

Marie Fonzi has taken up her late husband’s banner – and attended the Wecht Conference in Pittsburgh in October, mingling with some of those researchers and writers who worked with Gaeton Fonzi over the years.
Besides working as a respected and renown investigative reporter in Philadelphia for many years, Fonzi was recruited to be an investigator for the Schweiker-Hart Subcommittee  of the House Intelligence Committee, also known as the Church Committee.  Republican Senator Richard Schweiker of Pennsylvania and Colorado Democrat Gary Hart were assigned by the Committee to look into specific allegations that certain CIA officers were either at Dealey Plaza at the time of the assassination or were somehow involved in the assassination.

In the course of his investigation Fonzi met Antonio Veciana, an anti-Castro Cuban who led the Alpha 66 commandos who told Fonzi how he was recruited as a CIA agent when he worked at a bank in Havana, before Castro took power. The man who recruited him said his name was “Maurice Bishop,” and they worked together on many operations over the years, including plots to kill Castro.
Trained by the CIA in intelligence operational procedures,  the tradecraft of espionage and psychological warfare, Veciana told Fonzi that one day in September, 1963, it had been arranged for him to meet his case officer “Maurice Bishop,” in the lobby of the Southland Center in Dallas. When he arrived, Veciana said he saw “Bishop” talking with another man, who he assumed had a similar relationship with “Bishop” as his own.  Two months later, Veciana identified the man he saw talking with “Bishop” as Lee Harvey Oswald, the ostensible assassin of President Kennedy.

Questioned thoroughly by Fonzi and other Congressional investigators, Veciana detailed the background of “Maurice Bishop” and they had a sketch artist draw a picture of his face, which Sen. Schweiker identified as a CIA officer who had recently testified before his committee – David Atlee Phillips.
When the background details of “Bishop” as provided by Veciana were compared with the background of David Atlee Phillips from his autobiography “Nightwatch-20 Years of Peculiar Service,” over two dozen points matched, but when Veciana was introduced to David Atlee Phillips at a conference dinner of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO), Veciana told Fonzi he wasn’t sure. Close but no cigar was not good enough for Fonzi.

Fonzi suspected that Veciana lied about his failure to identify Phillips as “Bishop” because he wanted to get back with his former intelligence case officer to resume his anti-Castro activities.

After serving time in federal prison on drug charges and avoiding a number of assassination attempts against him, Veciana is still alive, and has outlived Fonzi, though he apparently still thinks of him, as he recently – on the 50th anniversary of the assassination, sent a note to Fonzi’s widow Marie.
November 22, 2013
Dear Marie Fonzi,

You may publish the following statement from me:
“Maurice Bishop, my CIA contact agent was David Atlee Phillips. Phillips or Bishop was the man I saw with Lee Harvey Oswald in Dallas on September 1963.”

Best Regards,
Antonio Veciana

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Best Book on JFK Assassination - Anthony Summers' Not In Your Lifetime

“Not In Your Lifetime” – 
– By William Kelly

Of all the many books to be published or reissued on this 50th anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy, the best, most objective, thorough, and definitive account is Anthony Summers’ Not in Your Lifetime.

The murder of the president on a Dallas street in broad daylight in front of hundreds of witnesses was a watershed event that is still effecting us today in many and varied ways.  The failure to protect and properly investigate the murder has permitted subsequent political assassinations to occur and allows murder to be another tool in the box of political operatives today.  The continued withholding of government assassination records on grounds of national security also makes the president’s death a meaningful political issue now, and until the last record is finally released, which may or may not occur in our lifetime.

The unresolved nature of the case of the murdered president makes it possible for a discredited whitewashed cover-story suffice to keep the legal system from acting, and fuels a speculative conspiracy theory industry that has produced news and magazine articles, books, documentary TV shows and major motion pictures, none of which has sufficiently answered James Douglas’ question, “Who killed JFK and Why It Matters,” the second most important book on the assassination.

While Douglas is a spiritual conspiracy theorists, Summers tries to cut through all of that and using logic and reason in piecing together what we really know about the assassination and tries to relate the story in a meaningful and appealing way that should easily resonate with other journalists as well as serious academic scholars, students and the general public.

That Summers’ book is the best of the lot is not only my opinion but also that of Jefferson Morley (, and others who have looked deeply into this matter, but in the spirit of full disclosure, I must admit that I know Tony Summers. I worked with Summers as a researcher on various aspects of the case, and consider him an studious independent journalist who I admire and would like to emulate. I am also proud of the fact that he mentions me and my blog JFKcountercoup in his acknowledgements, and he credits my blog in the footnotes as the source of a number of important items. 

For the past few decades, or since the beginning of the internet, it was not academically acceptable to reference web sites and blogs as the source of any authoritative fact or report, especially since such web sites didn’t last long. But that is no longer the case, as the internet is now the primary source for most serious researchers, and there are many permanent and reliable web sites, a few being the primary source for JFK assassination records, including the NARA JFK Collection, MaryFerrell and Baylor University Poague Library.

The internet however was not in existence when I first heard of Tony Summers in 1980 when I read a review of his book Conspiracy and bought the first edition hardbound in a New York City bookstore. While I was with some Irish friends who ran a bar and played music, I ignored the chaos around me as I sat in the corner and was enthralled at what I read – the first real, honest and accurate account of the assassination by a reporter using journalistic tools and principles. Hallelujah!

Rather than parrot the official version of events or promote some wild conspiracy theory, Summers was actually trying to figure out what really happened, and attempting to make some sense of it all.

It is curious, and a condemnation of the modern media, that this hadn’t been done before, or since, but he got my attention, and so I was a bit surprised a decade later, to get a call from Summers asking me to come immediately to Washington D.C. to assist him in reviewing a new batch of recently released CIA records related to the assassination. Actually I just made photo copies of documents that he had read and tagged with a sticky, but we talked as we went through piles of documents that would take years to sort and read through and cull what was important from what was immaterial.

Somers was especially interested in a few people I knew something about, including Jim Braden, a gambler and confidence man who got caught up in the Dealey Plaza dragnet, Carl Mather, a close friend of J.D. Tippit, the Dallas police officer killed in the wake of the assassination, and John Martino, who was from Atlantic City, my backyard.

Martino was one of the subjects of the newly released documents and Summers located his son and widow in Florida and went down and interviewed them at the same time I met and questioned Martino’s brother and sister in Atlantic City. Some of the information gleaned from Martino’s family was incorporated into an article Summers wrote for Vanity Fair magazine as well as a second edition of his book, which he updated and renamed Not In Your Lifetime.

The name change came about because the original title – Conspiracy, stemmed from the conclusion of the 1978 House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) Final Report, while Summers thought that, after all was said and done, the official version of events had been convincingly demolished, but conspiracy had not yet been proven, legally or to a reasonable satisfaction.

The new title Not In Your Lifetime was taken from the response of Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren to the question of when all of the government’s records on the assassination would be released to the public.

While Conspiracy was based primarily on Summers’ personal interviews with many of the subjects and suspects, which was paired with a special BBC TV documentary, Not In Your Lifetime included many of the suppressed records Warren referred to that were ordered released by Congress under the JFK Act of 1992, and this new 2013 50th anniversary edition has been substantially re-written and updated with the latest, state-of-the-art research.

Summers: “With the passing of a half century, much remains unclear about what happened in Dealey Plaza. Few murders in history had such a massive audience or were caught in the act by the camera, yet for millions the case remains unsolved. No assassination has been analyzed and documented so laboriously by public officials and private citizens. Yet the public has remained understandably skeptical. Skeptical when after one official probe proclaimed the assassination the work of a lone gunman, another declared it the result of a conspiracy – ‘probably.’ Skeptical after a welter of media coverage and books, when much of the media work has proven inaccurate or biased, and when supposedly authoritative books have been unmasked as inept, or naïve, or cynical propaganda…Above all, perhaps, the public attitude to the Kennedy assassination has been tempered by all the scandals, all the exposes that over the years have eroded belief in government. Far from starting with the premise that the authorities tell the truth, a depressingly large number of people now accept as a given that the government constantly lies. If it does not actively lie, many are persuaded, it conceals the truth….”

With the release of this substantially re-written book Summers sent out a note to friends and associates detailing some of the items that were eliminated from the new edition and why, raising some eyebrows with the complete dropping of the Lee Harvey Oswald in Clinton, Louisiana story, Summers being persuaded by Pat Lambert that the entire Clinton incident was questionable. Also gone with the convoluted saga of Jim Braden, one of my pet subjects. Added was the suspicion that Oswald probably did kill Dallas police officer J.D. Tippit after all, Summers crediting Lone Nut impression-ado Dale Myers for showing that the ballistic evidence against Oswald in the murder of Tippit is quite convincing.

As for the Clinton incidents, if all eight of the witnesses were lying when they testified under oath before the New Orleans Grand Jury that Oswald was in Clinton in a black Cadillac with David Ferrie and Clay Shaw, that Oswald tried to register to vote and applied for a job at the hospital there, if they all lied then that proves a conspiracy, at least among those who perjured themselves.

While Summers has dropped the Clinton stories from this edition, he leaves in the fact that a nearby Louisiana telephone operator came forward after the assassination to report that she put in a person-to-person long distance call from a women in Louisiana to Lee Harvey Oswald at the Texas School Book Depository two days before the assassination. Who was this anonymous Louisiana associate of the accused assassin? And is it the same person who changed Oswald’s mailing address in New Orleans weeks after he had left the city?

Summers still has a hard time putting Oswald on the Sixth Floor of the Texas School Book Depository at the time of the shooting, and implies that based on the available evidence, he could have been framed for the assassination. But the Tippit murder remains the “Rosetta Stone” of the case.

Apparently convinced by Dale Myers (With Malice) that Oswald may have killed Tippit, Summers still left in the new edition the eyewitness account of two men being seen leaving the dead Tippit on the street, one running away and the other escaping in an old Plymouth. Also in the new edition is the fact that just after the Tippit murder a man identified as Oswald was seen nearby acting suspiciously while driving a 1956 Plymouth that was registered to Carl Mather, a close friend of the murdered police officer. 

While Dale Myers discounts these incidents entirely, they are important clues to the Tippit murder that reflect directly back to the assassination at Dealey Plaza.

Carl Mather’s alibi, it turns out, is that he was at work at Collins Radio, the company that provided cover for the CIA Cuban raider ship The Rex, and also made and serviced the radios for Air Force One. Mather himself worked on the radios in the Vice President’s plane. Oswald’s friend George deMohrenschildt introduced Oswald to a Collins’ executive and tried to get him a job there.

But when researchers requested the file on Collins Radio at the JFK Records Collection at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), it contained a single piece of paper that read: “Removed for Reasons of National Security.”

There it is - the “not in your lifetime,” response to requests for government assassination records, which begs the question that Summers asks: “What sort of national security concerns prevent us seeing all there is to see about the Kennedy assassination, a supposed random act by a lone nut, all these years later?” It is, he says, “a question to ponder as you read this book.”

“ Everyone will know who I am now,” Lee Oswald remarked while still alive and under interrogation, but as Summers puts it, “Fifty years on…Oswald remains ill defined, a figure in the fog of incomplete investigation and the absence of real official will to discover the full truth.”

Rather than withhold them, it is now in the interest of our national security to release the records. Now is time for the government to release the remaining sealed assassination records, not in 2017, or never, but now, in our lifetime, so everyone who cares can know the truth as to what happened at Dealey Plaza fifty years ago.

Tony Summers - Planned Address to COPA - Coalition On Political Assassinations Conference Dallas, Texas 

NOVEMBER 24, 2013
See: Tony and Robbyns Blog. 
Dallas talk for COPA….November 22, ’13…..from Anthony Summers
(did not go ahead, because of technical problems).

Greetings from Ireland. You in Dallas have experienced an extraordinary couple of days, again. I thank John Judge for his invitation.

Let me say now that I am well aware that this group embraces people with widely divergent views – many no doubt far, far from my own. My intention tonight, as you wind up the program of the day, is to offer some new information but no great sensation. Merely, on this fiftieth milestone day to assess where the case sits in 2013 – as I see it after my own reporting. What I say may seem conservative. And if it does, then that may not be such a bad idea.

Fifty years…To many in the wider public, by now, our subject is too far in the past to matter – or an entertainment.

It wasn’t, of course and never should have become that.

One could start worse than with the words of Jacqueline Kennedy, as she recalled the moment of the assassination – just a week after it occurred, in an interview for Life magazine. What she said was suppressed for years, deemed too raw to be published. You may know what she said, but I read it now because – even now – it takes us back with a jolt:

Mrs. Kennedy said: “You know, when he was shot, he had such a wonderful expression on his face … [Then] he looked puzzled … he had his hand out. I could see a piece of his skull coming off. It was flesh-coloured, not white. He was holding out his hand – and I can see this perfectly clean piece detaching itself from his head…”

As the presidential limousine gathered speed, Mrs. Kennedy believed she cried: “I love you, Jack…I kept saying, ‘Jack, Jack, Jack’ … All the ride to the hospital, I kept bending over him saying, ‘Jack, Jack, can you hear me? I love you, Jack.’ I kept holding the top of his head down, trying to keep the…”

She could not finish the sentence.

What happened on November 22, 1963 was brutally brief. The findings of the two official enquiries have been reiterated ad nauseam. The Warren Commission’s version – the one the mainstream media has always favored (without really paying attention to the second investigation or thinking out of the box) had the murder committed by former Marine Oswald, a recently returned defector to the then Soviet Union, a leftwinger who had lately seemed to be an activist on behalf of Castro’s Cuba.

Oswald had got off three shots, as the Commission had it, in between about 5 seconds and rather less than eight seconds (depending on which shots hit and which may have missed). He had then run for it, and soon after killed Officer Tippit. The Commission had it that Jack Ruby, who killed Oswald two days later, had “no significant link” to the Mafia.

In 1979, the House Committee on Assassinations would show conclusively that, to the contrary, Ruby in fact had links to organized crime from his youth until just before the assassination. The Committee would also find links between Oswald’s family and organized crime.

The way the Committee saw it, on its reading of all the evidence, physical, acoustics, and the human testimony was – just as had the Commission – that Oswald was an assassin. It also thought, however, that another – unknown – gunman – had probably fired at the President on November 22 – from in front.
There had thus – that unfortunate word “probably” – probably been a conspiracy.

The Committee suspected the Mob, but could pin nothing on Mafia leaders. And, though you had to look harder for that than you did for the suspicions about organised crime, the murkier parts of the anti-Castro movement.

The bulk of the U.S. media, however, virtually ignored the congressional finding of probable conspiracy. There was no clamor for action. Barely a soul noticed when the Justice Department failed to follow through as the Committee had recommended. Although the Committee’s former Chief Counsel Robert Blakey has said – quite seriously – that he believed that back then around 1980 – a tough investigation could have brought conspirators to trial.

With one official probe saying Oswald did it alone and another pointing to conspiracy, it is not a bit surprising that the American public’s skepticism has never gone away. Some 60 % of those Americans polled in a study this year believe there was a conspiracy.

On the other hand, it would be fatuous to think now – has been for decades – that anyone official is going to do anything about it. To think otherwise is to yodel in the wilderness.

And yet. The U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, has just said publicly that he has “serious doubts” Oswald acted alone.

The New Yorker two days ran a lengthy piece by John Cassidy. He wrote: “There’s a substantive reason why the doubters survive: the official version of events begs questions; in some aspects, it beggars belief….Questioning the official version of history is a sign of democratic vigor.”

Yes, it is.

My book on the case was first published three decades ago as Conspiracy, a title deriving – at my publisher’s insistence, and over my strenuous objections – from the House Committee’s conclusion .… I thought I’d be labeled a “conspiracy theorist”, a fate worse than “reputation death” for a journalist who takes his work seriously. Mysteriously, however, I got away with it, and most of the mainstream press – even the ever-nose-in-the-air New York Times, for god sake, welcomed the book.

A couple of editions later, when I updated the book, a new publisher agreed to the title it now carries – Not in Your Lifetime. I took this new title from the answer Chief Justice Warren gave in 1964 when asked if all the investigation’s information would be made public. He replied: “Yes, there will come a time. But it might not be in your lifetime. I am not referring to anything especially, but there may be some things that involve security. This would be preserved but not made public.”

Warren was thinking, he said, of stays by the alleged assassin in the Soviet Union and Mexico, and there may indeed have been national security ramifications at that time.

Since then, of course, and against the wishes of some federal agencies, millions of pages of documents have been released – thanks to the JFK Records Act. Not that, fifty years on, we yet have it all. Some Army Intelligence and Secret Service records have been destroyed. There are questions as to the whereabouts of some Naval Intelligence material. The Central Intelligence Agency – the CIA – is withholding 1,171 documents as “national security classified.” “I think.” former Assassinations Committee chief counsel Blakey has said, “the Agency is playing the Archives.”

If anything has kept me going this year, when I’ve produced a new, updated edition of my book, it’s the challenge presented by those continued withholdings. I’ve dropped a lot of material that seems to me surplus to requirements, or is never going to go anywhere, brought what I’ve sustained up to date, and considered what we have left.

I think the one thing anyone seriously focused on this case knows is that – after all this time and effort by so many people – all we know is that much remains unknown.

A primary reason I’ve kept working on the case, when I should perhaps have known better, is what I learned at the outset about the press coverage of the case. It was shamefully delinquent at the time and has stayed delinquent. If you’re kind enough to read the new edition of my book, which I believe may be available at the door, take a look at how very rarely, in some hundred pages of Notes at the end, I quote from major media sources. I quote them hardly at all because … few reporters did any real work.

I have as little patience with the bogus experts who have wasted time and distracted attention from the real issues – or the Hollywood distortions. Really early on, when I was working as a young journalist at the BBC in London, I had the unpleasant experience of seeing Mark Lane, heady no doubt with the hoohhah about his book Rush to Judgement, cause an unjustifable public force and flounce out of a television studio. It was grandstanding, made no point, achieved nothing – cxcept to make doubt look disreputable.

Oliver Stone, with his immensely successful movie JFK, used distorted information to lead a whole generation to think the assassination was somehow connected to the Vietnam War and “the military-industrial complex.” He said the assassination was “sacred history” to which one had to be faithful, or words to that effect, while maintaining that he had artistic license to make the film as he wished. You can’t have it both ways – though Stone and I have since become friends.

The further glorification Stone gave to former District Attorney Jim Garrison, moreover, troubled me. Garrison made a circus out of a crucial evidence scene, New Orleans, and I think set serious research back years and years. When I finally met him, in the late 1970s, he behaved as though we were in the middle of a very bad spy movie – and asked me to meet him in a sauna bath. To the extent that a reporter comes to a conclusion about an interviewee on the basis – to a degree – of instinct – I thought him quite seriously unstable.

There are the time - wasters and gossip merchants – I’m thinking of the “a-Secret-Service-agent-did-it” notion. Or: “It was LBJ”. And of course the complete nutcases. Some of the more extreme theories reposing in the Loonies file in our office, include:
* A letter on the grand notepaper of the “Institute of Moral and Political Law,” advising that “the JFK mystery is solved!” The assassin, you see, was George Bush Sr.!

* A missive enclosing photos “proving” that there had been a small dog in the limousine with the President on the day he died. The pooch was somehow involved in the murder plot!

* An initially sane-sounding letter that closes with an offer to prove that JFK was not killed, merely “removed from office.” Crouched down on the floor, he escaped the bullets….

Back in the real world, what of the actual evidence in the case? You don’t have to be a lunatic or a “conspiracy theorist” to harbor multiple questions about the evidence the Warren Commission handed down as certainties. Millions now know, largely thanks to people like you, how badly the autopsy and the ballistics evidence was handled. One would hope, I think, that a homeless person’s autopsy would be handled better than was John Kennedy’s.

A lot of people – I watch it on the Internet – still give serious time and debate time to the studying the wounds, the trajectories, the bullet fragments – and all that. I admire some of those who work in that area, but I long since distanced myself. Nothing is ever going to be proved one way or the other about the physical side of the evidence. It’s vaguely satisfying to those who oppose the Warren account, I suppose, that the Livermore National Laboratory, no less, in 2007, cast new doubt on the Single Bullet Theory. But I think we should accept that the physical evidence area is now what the lawyers call a non liquet – something that can never be resolved for certain. Better, now, to look elsewhere.

Fingerprint evidence can of course be crucial, and Oswald’s prints were found on book cartons near the window from which he allegedly fired. Yet that proved nothing. As an employee, the alleged assassin had been legitimately working in that very area.

What, though, of the palm-print found on one of the boxes, one never identified? Whose was that? We don’t know, not least because – in a ludicrous oversight – not all those who worked in the building were fingerprinted. Why not? Because, after Oswald had been arrested, the building superintendent asked that the fingerprinting process be halted. Incredibly, law enforcement officials obliged.

There is, as you know, much more. The possibility, for example, that Oswald was not on the infamous Sixth Floor at the time shots were fired. He claimed he had been in a downstairs lunchroom at the time, and there were witnesses who appeared to support his story.

One of them, whom I believe I interviewed for the first time, Caroline Arnold, the secretary to a senior executive in the building. She told me she saw Oswald in the lunchroom at 12.15 p.m. or perhaps as late as 12.25 p.m. I found her credible and have had no cause to change my mind. Had the motorcade been on time – in fact it ran five minutes late and went by at 12.30 – the President would have passed the building at 12:25.

Would a would-be assassin who planned to kill the President have been sitting around downstairs as late as 12:15, or anything after that?

There is something else that’s toweringly important. The cliché is that murderers should have “motive, means and opportunity.” Well, Oswald had the opportunity and he had the means – a rifle. But, motive? The Commission never figured out a satisfactory motive for Oswald. The overall testimony was that he rather liked the President, and there is not a jot of even half reliable evidence that he loathed him – let alone wished to do away with him.

Could Oswald have been, as he claimed, a “patsy” – set up to take the blame? His behavior that day sure leaves it highly likely he was guilty of something, but it is not at all evidence that means that he killed the President.

Any serious look at the case involves disentangling the threads that run through Oswald’s activity in the months and years before the assassination:

* The clandestine operations of U.S. intelligence.
* And the Cuba factor.

In a talk like this, I can only sketch in the outlines of the intelligence angle. Consider, though, Oswald’s three-year defection to the Soviet Union and his return the year before the assassination. This was a former U.S. Marine who had had access – at the height of the Cold War – to information on the operations of the U-2 spy plane. On defecting, he had said openly that he had undertaken to give the Soviets what he knew. This was a self-declared would-be traitor. Would you not think that, on returning to the United States, Oswald would have been – at a minimum – severely interrogated?

The official line, however, has been that Oswald was allowed to return home and melt back into life as a law-abiding citizen. It doesn’t wash, and snippets of evidence indicate otherwise. There’s that CIA document, long withheld in its full version, that shows officials discussed “the laying on of interviews” on his return. A senior member of the Soviet Russia Division wrote that his department “had an OI [that’s Operational Intelligence] in Oswald.”

Here, briefly, a speculation – and I try in my book to speculate very little. Were this leftwing defector-cum-traitor – think, somewhat, a sort of junior league Edward Snowden – interrogated on his return, he may have been given options. “You’re a traitor,” subject to a lengthy stay in jail.” Or, perhaps, “You’re a traitor, and you could go to jail. Or you could perhaps be useful to us. Maintain your leftwing stance, and we may get you to do things for us.”

Back to the facts. Oswald did return to civilian life, did go back to his focus on socialist activity – and especially on Communist Cuba. Remember the date he returned. This was shortly before the Cuban Missile Crisis. The armed standoff – and the propaganda war – between the United States and the Soviet Union and Castro’s Cuba was at its most tense.

Oswald joined the pro-Castro Fair Play for Cuba Committee, went to New Orleans – the city of his birth – and ostensibly went about setting up a local branch of Fair Play for Cuba there. I say “ostensibly” because there are indications that it was all a charade. He reported a clash in the street with some anti-Castro Cuban exiles a week before it actually occurred. Stuff like that just won’t go away. When it did occur, and Oswald was arrested for disturbing the peace, two police officers got the impression there was some sort of “set up,” that Oswald was “being used.”

Used, used by whom? The files show that the Fair Play for Cuba Committee was being targeted, bugged and infiltrated, by the FBI. The anti-Castro group with which Oswald “clashed,” moreover – the DRE – was being run by the CIA as part of the secret war against Cuba, a war that involved both armed raids on Cuba by armed exile fighters and complex propaganda operations.
We know the anti-Castro group that had the supposed clash with Oswald reported back to a CIA case officer. I obtained an interview with a former paid tool of the FBI, Joseph Burton – the Bureau described him as a “valuable and reliable source” – whose job back then was to pose as a Marxist and infiltrate radical groups. He said Oswald had been “connected with the FBI”…that FBI agents had spoken of “owning” Oswald.”

The FBI and the CIA, often historically at loggerheads, were cooperating to an unusual extent at this time. In September, 1963, a CIA officer and a senior FBI official met to discuss new plans for action against the pro-Castro Fair Play for Cuba Committee. The CIA “advised that it was “giving some consideration to countering the activities of [the Committee] in foreign countries”…..and giving thought to planting deceptive information which might embarrass the Committee.”

The day after that memo was written, Oswald applied for a Tourist Card for a visit to Mexico. A new passport had been issued to him within twenty-four hours – even though his application stated he might wish to return to the Soviet Union. Funny that, you may think – given Oswald‘s background as a defector and traitor.

Oswald did go to Mexico City, and his six-day visit remains one of the most mysterious – yet telltale – episodes of the entire story. It makes for a fresh chapter in the new edition of my book – though here we must zip past it in a couple of minutes. Oswald’s ostensible purpose in Mexico, of course, was to go to the Cuban and Soviet embassies – armed with his credentials as a pro-Castro activist – to try to get a visa for travel to Cuba. He failed. The Cubans – I went to Mexico and Cuba and talked to relevant witnesses – suspected he might well be a CIA agent provocateur.

The signs are that the CIA did indeed hope to use Oswald, wittingly or unwittingly, as a cog in its covert anti-Castro operations. I say perhaps unwittingly, for there are indications that an Agency impostor used Oswald’s identity in Mexico City. The House Assassinations Committee took the possibility seriously – and separate information, nothing to do with Oswald, establishes that the use of impostors by the CIA was a common ploy. “A standard operation was to impersonate Americans in telephone contact with the Soviet Embassy,” said Jeremy Gunn, the former Executive Director of the Assassinations Records Review Board.
More important – and this is more stuff that just won’t go away – is the tangle of information that arose from the CIA’s photographic and audio surveillance of the Communist embassies. Both the Cuban and Soviet embassies were covered by cameras monitoring comings and goings. CIA microphones were planted inside the Cuban embassy, especially, and telephone calls were all bugged.

Two of the calls Oswald supposedly made to the Soviet Embassy appear not to have been made by the real Oswald. Could one not establish whether that is so by comparing the voice on the tape with the known voice of the authentic Oswald? A good specimen was available, a recent broadcast he had done in connection with his pro-Castro activity in New Orleans.

Well no, said the CIA. It claimed the Mexico surveillance tapes had been “routinely” wiped weeks before the assassination – because, it claimed, Oswald had supposedly, been of no interest at the time.

Except, we now know from the draft memoir left behind by the then CIA station chief in Mexico City, Winston Scott, that – in his words – Oswald “had been a person of great interest to us” during his visit. “We kept a special watch” on him.

Except, too, that we now know the tapes were not routinely wiped before the assassination. Senior Warren Commission counsel William Coleman and his fellow Commission attorney David Slawson, and – in his retirement – the CIA station chief’s deputy, all told me that they listened to Oswald’s tape-recorded voice in April 1964 months after the assassination. What became of the recording – and indeed of the photographs that must have been snapped of Oswald on one of a total of five visits to the Communist embassies?

The CIA has offered no satisfactory answer. We do know, though, that – when Station Chief Scott died some years afterwards – CIA Counterintelligence’s James Angelton flew down to Mexico within hours, searched through the deceased man’s belongings, seized Scott’s draft memoir and what has been described as a stack of reel-to-reel tapes labelled “Oswald,” and ordered that they be flown to headquarters in Washington. Though some of the memoir has since been returned to the station chief’s next of kin, it appears that the other material was disposed of under a CIA “destruction order.”

There is still , meanwhile, the extraordinary episode that has been called the “Rosetta Stone” of the case, which probably occurred when the authentic Oswald was on his way from Mexico to Dallas, where he was to spend the few remaining weeks before the assassination. I refer to the testimony of the Odio sisters, Cuban exiles Silvia and Annie. I know, I know, this is a hoary old angle. But it is as central to the case as ever it was. The sisters were visited by a trio of men who said they were anti-Castro militants. Two of them, Hispanics, introduced their companion, an American who – the sisters would insist after the assassination looked just like Oswald – as “Oswald,” “Leon Oswald.”

Later, in what seemed to be a very deliberate way, the leader of the group would say Oswald was an “ex-Marine…an expert marksman…” who said “we should have shot Kennedy after the Bay of Pigs…should have done something like that.”

This posed a problem for the Warren Commission probe into the assassination – one that never was resolved. Commission attorneys took the view that the Odio women were excellent, credible witnesses and that their account seemed truthful. (I obtained what I believe were the first independent interviews with them – and I share that view.) Silvia and Annie’s account, of course, suggests that there was an attempt to set Oswald up – just weeks before the assassination – as a would-be presidential assassin.

Today, there is more. In the attempts to establish who the two Hispanics who had accompanied this “Oswald” had been, investigators took statements from a man who initially led them down a false trail – offering what Congress’ Committee called a “fabrication.” That man, a fellow named Loran Hall, alias Pascillo, had served in the U.S. Army, reportedly trained in counter-intelligence, was indeed involved with the anti-Castro campaign in the New Orleans area, and – earlier – had worked for Mafia boss Santo Trafficante.

Trafficante was one of the two Mafia bosses who has been linked repeatedly to the assassination of the President.

Which brings us to the issue of motive and – if Oswald didn’t kill the President, or at any rate didn’t do it on his own – Whodunnit?

Who might have had a motive to kill Kennedy? Though Oswald had lived for quite a long period in Russia, and though available information makes it clear that Soviet intelligence took a real interest in him while he was there, no serious observer considers the Soviets desired the President’s death or had any part in the assassination.

The theory that Castro’s Cuba was behind the tragedy has received serious attention over the years – not least, recently, in the context of the possibility that Castro learned of CIA efforts to kill him – and struck first. The so-called supporting evidence for such a theory, however, is flimsy. Militating against it is the fact that – had Washington discovered Cuba had a hand in the assassination – U.S. retaliation could have been expected to be devastating, would have swept the Castro revolution away once and for all.

Of the plausible suspects, that leaves the anti-Castro exiles, Mafia bosses – and, I don’t reject the possibility, elements within the CIA. There is no inherent conflict in lumping those three groups together. All three were committed to the fight against Castro – the Mafia because the Revolution had robbed them of a gambling and hotel goldmine, the anti-Castro people and their CIA backers for obvious reasons. Many anti-Castro fighters loathed Kennedy with a passion because of the way they considered he had betrayed their cause at the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961, by the way he resolved the Missile Crisis and by his subsequent clampdown on their activity. Mafia bosses, notably Trafficante and New Orleans’ Carlos Marcello, hated the President – and had even allegedly threatened to kill him – because the Kennedy administration was conducting an unprecedented onslaught on organized crime. If the anti-Castro groups and the Mob bosses plotted to kill Kennedy, seeing to it that the crime was blamed on a pro-Castro activist would have seemed a masterstroke.

After all this – and we’ve only scratched the surface – the endgame.

Have there been plausible admissions?

I call the final chapter of my book “Hints and Deceptions.” On this 50th anniversary, you may have heard discussion of admissions Mafia bosses Trafficante and Carlos Marcello supposedly made in old age. I’ve looked hard at those stories, and the alleged confession stories turn out to be really questionable.
I set much more store by other apparent admissions, some of them gleaned from my own interviewing. One has been around for a long time. Trafficante associate John Martino should be high on any suspect list. His connection with the Mafia boss aside, he had worked in a casino in Cuba before the revolution, had done time in a Castro jail, worked on both the military and propaganda campaign to topple Castro afterward – and was amongst those who spun tales after the assassination about Oswald’s alleged links to the Cuban regime.

Martino’s wife Florence told me her husband spoke of an imminent assassination attempt on the morning of November 22, hours before it took place. According to her and the couple’s son Edward, the news from Dallas – when it came – seemed “more like confirmation.” Much later, when he was dying of heart disease, Martino told an associate – whom I also interviewed – that he had been “part of” the assassination.
Martino said: “The anti-Castro people put Oswald together. Oswald didn’t know who he was working for….Oswald made a mistake….They had Ruby kill him.”

And he referred to a second gunman who had been involved, a “Cuban” who had been “the other trigger.”
In 2007, in the company of former Assassinations Committee chief counsel Professor Blakey, I visited Miami to speak with a Cuban no one had heard of before. The man, who was in his eighties, had made contact saying there was something he wanted to get off his chest before he died. What he had to say is, in Blakey’s view, “a breakthrough of historical importance.” I’ve put it on the record in the new edition of my book.

While in a Castro prison in the mid-1960s – on a minor charge involving illegal currency offenses – the man said – he learned that an anti-Castro fighter he had known well since their student days, had spoken of his “participacion” – participation – in the assassination of the President.

The fighter’s name was Herminio Diaz. He had worked in one of Mafia boss Trafficante’s casinos, and is listed in CIA files. It is a matter of record that he had had in the past shot dead a former Cuban chief of police, had tried to kill the President of Costa Rica, and had plotted to kill the Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista. He was a crack marksman, a known assassin – and he was in the United States in 1963.

After fifty years, this may be the first plausible identification of an unknown gunman who perhaps fired at President Kennedy on November 22, 1963.

In the fog of remaining knowns and unknowns, now and then, are the elements that could perhaps tell us whether and how Oswald – the very public pro-Castro Marxist – may have been set up to take the blame. Just visible in the thick of the evidence are the outlines of what may have happened.

In New Orleans, there was the anti-Castro group that had clashed with “pro-Castro” Oswald in that charade of a confrontation. That group was funded and supervised by the CIA – a fact that the CIA failed to reveal to the Warren Commission.

In Mexico City was senior CIA officer David Phillips – he had previously been the CIA’s man in Havana – running anti-Castro propaganda (with oversight over the operations in New Orleans) and in charge of the surveillance operations against the Cuban and Soviet embassies during Oswald’s visit. Phillips may have been one and the same as “Maurice Bishop”, an intelligence officer who – after the assassination – sought to fabricate information linking Oswald to the Castro Cubans.

There’s new information on the Phillips/ “Bishop” issue. This year, while I was preparing my book, former Clandestine Services officer Glenn Carle told us he asked Phillips whether he had been “Bishop”. “Phillips’ reaction,” Carle said, was to acknowledge that he was the man in question…but he did not explicitly confirm to me that he had done what he was accused of doing: meeting with Oswald. He avoided discussing this point.”

How to interpret it all?

Did Oswald shoot the President off his own bat, without any known motive, as the official account claimed? 

Did U.S. intelligence officers use Oswald as a minor cog in a covert anti-Castro propaganda scheme – one that had nothing whatsoever to do with the assassination – then, to avoid exposure, rush to cover up after November 22nd – with the effect of making themselves appear to have something far more serious to conceal? Did the anti-Castro people kill Kennedy without the knowledge of their CIA handlers, seeking to make the pro-Castro Oswald take the fall?

After all the work and all the years, I do not pretend to know the answer.

What is clear, though, is that elements of the truth have been kept secret, are being kept secret still – not least by the CIA. It has emerged that George Joannides, the officer brought in from retirement to liaise with Congress’ Assassinations Committee, to decide what Agency documents investigators could and could not see, was none other – though the CIA concealed this from the Committee – than the very CIA officer who, in 1963, had been case officer to the DRE, the anti-Castro group that had the purported clash with Oswald in New Orleans!

This was a gross deception. One that former chief counsel Blakey has called “criminal…a wilful obstruction of justice…I no longer believe anything the Agency told us.” Professor Anna Nelson, who served on the Assassination Records Review Board, has suggested there be a congressional probe of “the CIA’s alleged corruption of its inquiry into the Kennedy assassination.”

Don’t hold your breath.

A drunk, cynical stage character, in Eugene O’Neill’s play The Iceman Cometh, says, “To hell with the truth…As the history of the world proves, the truth has no bearing on anything.”

In fact, of course, history is very, very relevant – and getting to the truth about the assassination of President Kennedy has mattered greatly.

That said, it is very late now, probably too late, to be able to take the case much further. I leave the last word – ironically enough – to a former Warren Commission counsel – he later became a judge – Burt Griffin. He felt “betrayed,” he told, because the CIA – and the FBI – deliberately misled us….Consider the possible reality that under the American system of civil liberties and the requirement of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, it is virtually impossible to prosecute or uncover a well-conceived and well-executed conspiracy.”

There is a further moral to draw from that quote. I first cited it in the original edition of my book, in 1980. 

We have moved forward a snail’s pace or two since then. Not much, but history matters!

Thank you all for listening, and the very best from Ireland.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Man on the Motorcyle in Mexico City Revsited

The Man on the Motorcycle in Mexico City – Revisited


In the 2013 updated version of Anthony Summers’ book Not in Your Lifetime, Part IV – entitled “Endgame– Deception and Tragedy – in Chapter 19 (p. 325), Exits and Entrances in Mexico City,” it is noted that,  “….In 1994 in Mexico City, the author interviewed an attorney named Homobono Alcaraz. He had featured in FBI reports as having said that, while studying law…he had met and talked with Oswald. The encounter, Alcaraz told the author had occurred at Sanborn’s restaurant, in the company of two or three other American students – all of them, like Alcaraz himself, Quakers.” 12

“The students talk centered on the difficulties involved in getting to Cuba. Oswald, Alcaraz recalled, eventually left with one of the Americans – whom Alcaraz remembered as having been named Steve ’Kennan, or Keenan’ (Alcaraz had trouble pronouncing or spelling the name) from Philadelphia. They went off together on his motorbike. Oswald riding pillion, headed for the Cuban Consulate. Recent research established that a student from Philadelphia named Steve Kenin did visit and live for some time in Mexico, did frequent a Quaker guest house, and did ride a motorbike – and did travel to Cuba.” 13

The foot notes say: “Note 12 –. Kennan/Keenan: ints. Steven Kennan; “The Man on the Motorcycle in Mexico City” by Bill Kelly,, also drawing on work by researchers Stu Wexler, Greg Parker and Larry Hancock.”

Indeed, it was in 2006 when we did locate Steve Kenin - “The Man on the Motorcycle in Mexico City” – and while only garnering a few sentences and a footnote in Summers’ book, the research that led to the identification and location of Kenin, and what we learned from him, deserves further elaboration, as it really is a story unto itself.

Having read the early FBI reports from San Francisco about a Mexican national who saw Oswald take off for the Cuban embassy on the back of a motorcycle driven by an American named Steve Keenin or Kennin, - a Quaker student from Philadelphia – I declared a challenge to a number of JFK assassination researchers – that we knew enough about this guy that we should be able to find him, and I wrote what we knew then in an article – “Philadelphia Quakers With Oswald in Mexico City.”

With Australian researcher Greg Parker, Larry Hancock (Someone Would Have Talked) and Stu Wexler, together and sometimes separately, we scoured the internet, Quaker archives and Philadelphia college record books searching for a Steve Kennin or Keenin, but came up empty. After a few years of searching we all eventually gave up.

Then one day I received an email from Dave Ratcliff, who posted my original article on “Philadelphia Quakers in Mexico City” at his Ratville Web site [ xxx ], saying that he received an email from a women in Germany who was desperate to reach me concerning the man on the motorcycle in Mexico City. Dave gave her my email address and I received an email from Moni, saying that during the summer of 1963 her mother met a man Steve Kenin – at a Quaker hostel in Mexico City. He was a college student from Philadelphia, who rode a motorcycle, and they went on a holiday to visit ancient Mayan ruins and spend time at an Acapulco hotel.

Nine months later, back in Germany, Moni was born, and she took the name of her suspected father, and his photograph, which she carried around with her and scanned and sent to me in an email saying how much she would like to locate the man she suspected of being her father Steve Kenin – the Man on the Motorcycle in Mexico City.

I shared this new information with Parker, Hancock and Wexler, and now armed with his true full name we quickly learned that he was working as a contractor in the Southwest USA. Parker also found him listed in a footnote in a book which credited him as the author of a Temple University News article about Cuba.

Stu Wexler obtained his email address and sent him off a note, while I contacted Tony Summers, telling him that we finally found The Man on the Motorcycle in Mexico City.

But first, we had to let Moni straighten out her family ties while we got a full make on him, finding everything we could about him before Tony would interview him.

While he remembered Moni’s mom and they exchanged letters through the mail, we learned a lot about Steve Kenin, that he did attend Temple University in Philadelphia, but didn’t graduate, which was one of the reasons we couldn’t find him. He was born in Philadelphia, had a twin brother who was a folk musician, and they ran a music store, the Guitar Workshop, that was still in existence.

In 1963 Steve Kenin dropped out of Temple and rode his motorcycle to Mexico and wrote an article about vagabonding around Mexico for Motorcycle Magazine. He was certainly our guy, the Steve “Kennin or Kennen” who Homo Bono saw ride off with Oswald from Sanborns restaurant to the Cuban Embassy.

I still had to drive one day to Philadelphia to the Temple University library to check out the article Kenin wrote that was published in the Temple student newspaper and referenced in the book. In a special office at the library, I was given the hardbound copies of the 1960 Temple News to review.

Opening the hardbound copies, I quickly located the series of three articles young student Steven Kenin wrote about his trip to Cuba, but was pretty much shocked to find on the front page a photo of Fidel Castro with his arm around Kenin!

Not only did Kenin go to Cuba in 1960, he met and was photographed with Castro.

This was what I considered a bomb, and went to a nearby internet café and emailed Tony about the Kenin-Castro photo-bomb.

Eventually, after Moni straightened out their family affairs, it was our turn, so Tony Summers called Steve Kenin on the phone and introduced himself and they talked about Kenin’s time in Mexico.

Yes, he rode his motorcycle to Mexico, yes he met a German women at the Quaker hostel Casa de Amegos, and yes they went on a holiday together, but no, he didn’t recall meeting Alcaraz the lawyer or Lee Harvey Oswald at Sanborns or giving Oswald a ride to the Cuban embassy on his motorcycle.

But yes, he did meet Castro, albeit only briefly, as they crossed paths on the fly at an airport, and they only stopped to take the photo together.

Kenin thought he had left Mexico by the time Oswald got there in late September 1963, before his August 1963 Motorcycle Magazine article was published.

It was all pretty suspicious however, and Kenin himself thought so too, especially the idea that the government records indicated that he knew Oswald, gave him a ride to the Cuban embassy to get visas to Cuba, and that there existed a photo of him and Castro together.

If, immediately after the assassination, the government records indicated he gave Oswald a ride to the Cuban embassy, and then the photo of him and Castro came out, it would have certainly been suspicious, implying a direct link between Oswald and Castro, regardless of the truth.

And there are still some loose ends to this thread – as a former secretary at the American embassy recalled Kenin giving her a ride to work on the back of his motorcycle, but he claims not to remember her either. Of course if it was all true he might deny it, as who would want to be associated with the man accused of killing President Kennedy?  And he does have a twin brother who reportedly took over the motorcycle, who hasn’t been questioned yet, so perhaps as it has been suggested, the twin brother was the one who gave Oswald a ride? 

Kenin did also acknowledge being in New York City when Castro spoke at the UN, when and where LICOZY-3 was reportedly recruited as a double-agent by the Cubans and the FBI-CIA.

As Summers explains it in: “Note 13: In a further twist, the CIA reportedly ran an agent in Mexico, code named LICOZY-3, who was a student from Philadelphia. This according to former CIA Mexico City station officer Philip Agee, who resigned from the Agency in 1968 and took refuge in Cuba. The Kenin located in 2006 said he did not recall the Oswald encounter described by Alcaraz, and denied having had any involvement with U.S. intelligence. (Philip Agee, Inside the Company: CIA Diary. New York: bantam 1976 pp. 545, 634; Kenin: int. Steven Kennan, Temple University News, October 4 & November 1960, Motorcyclist magazine, August 1963).”

Who was the double agent LICOZY-3? The Philadelphia student whose CIA role was terminated by Phil Agee in Philadelphia before Agee left the agency?