Wiretapping in Mexico City, Double Agents, and the Framing of Lee Oswald
by Bill Simpich
Chapter 5: The Mexico City Solution
Why Oswald’s Cuba Connections Were Hidden Before the Assassination, Why the Assassination Was Covered Up – And What May Be A Looking Glass Into 11/22/63
Did you ever read Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth? The power of Verne’s story is summed up in the sighting of the signature that the hero finds as he goes deeper into the abyss. Sometimes it was a message from the first explorer, Arne Saknussemm. Sometimes it was simply his initials –“AS”. When you see where he left his mark, you know you are on the right course.
Studying the Mexico City story is like feeling your way through the dark. As you go down, you find yourself holding on to some cold walls. Remain confident in what you know about your path. Keep in mind the previous explorers. Sometimes you have to retrace your steps. Remember the central question you have to keep asking…
Before JFK was killed, why did the Mexico City station hide all the evidence of the Oswald visit to the Cuban consulate from CIA Headquarters, while admitting the visits to the Soviet consulate?
Or, to put it another way, why did Headquarters hide Oswald’s return to the United States and subsequent history as a pro-Castro activist from the Mexico City station?
In other words, why was everything that might lead to a connection between Oswald and Cuba suppressed from the record before the assassination?
We’ve just finished a study on wiretapping in Mexico City. Now let me offer a hypothesis that provides what I call the Mexico City solution to the suppression of Oswald’s connections to Cuba, why the assassination was covered up - and, just maybe, an important insight into the assassination itself. The reason for the suppression and the cover-up can be found by a long look at the impersonation of Lee Oswald in Mexico City less than two months before the assassination, and the disappearance of the wiretap tapes that documented this impersonation. The notion of Oswald being impersonated may seem fantastic to some. However, as discussed in Chapter 3, the CIA files reveal that impersonation is a tactic that the Mexico City station had used just two months prior to Oswald’s visit.
After a great deal of reflection, I decided that it didn’t make any sense to hide my conclusion on how these events are linked to the assassination of JFK. What is presented here will not answer all the questions, but it offers a working solution that is based on the facts that we know.
Researchers such as Peter Dale Scott, John Newman and Jefferson Morley confirm much of what is set forth here. The reader is invited to join in, contribute, and add to this body of research. There’s more to learn, and I could be wrong, but I think I have the gist of it right.
My hypothesis of the Mexico City solution
It looks to me like CIA Cuba operations officers were among the prime suspects in an October 1963 investigation designed to figure out who impersonated Oswald and Cuban consulate secretary Sylvia Duran on the telephone call to the Soviet consulate on September 28. In this investigation, the CIA officers went to great pains to omit from their memos any reference to any Oswald visit to the Cuban consulate, any reference to Oswald’s membership in the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, and any reference to his attempts to get a visa.
Why was any reference to Cuba omitted? I believe it was done to prevent the rank and file of the Cuba division of the CIA from knowing about the details of the investigation. If there was no reference to Cuba in this investigation of Oswald, then there would be no reason to include the Cuba division in the discussion. The Cuba division included both Harvey’s successor Desmond FitzGerald and the Special Affairs Staff (SAS) at Headquarters, as well as the forward operating base in Miami for tactical operations on Cuba known as JMWAVE and run by Ted Shackley and David Morales.
Here’s the center of the intrigue. It looks like someone in Cuba operations was a prime suspect in an investigation of the impersonation of Oswald. It had to be handled carefully, as SAS had several of its officers embedded at the Mexico City station under Scott’s command. Another prime suspect was the Mexico City branch of the FBI. Even the CIA’s Mexico City station itself could also have been the source of the mole.
It is important to note that not only the FBI, but the Navy and the State Department were also included in the investigation. This was because all three of them had responsibilities for Oswald, and hence all three of them had to be examined for signs of penetration by enemy spies.
Under the Delimitations Agreement, the FBI and the Navy were charged with investigating and tracking an ex-Marine like Oswald once he had returned to the United States, and the State Department had a potential interest as well.[ 1 ] Furthermore, the State Department had done this work while Oswald was in the Soviet Union. This meant that these agencies were in charge of any debriefing of Oswald after his return to the United States. I believe that John Fain’s interviews with Oswald in 1962 constituted the actual debriefing. In the real world, these three agencies had continuing responsibility for Oswald during 1963.
I believe that the impersonation of Oswald was done to plant a poison pill within any attempt by the CIA or the FBI to investigate the role of Oswald in the assassination of the President. I believe that after Oswald was impersonated, CIA investigators tried to capture the perpetrator. After an unsuccessful attempt, would those investigators be willing to have their futile efforts become public knowledge in the wake of the assassination? No way. The investigators would be threatened with the loss of their jobs and livelihood.
I offer the hypothesis that the impersonation of Oswald was an inside job and a key aspect of a plan to assassinate President Kennedy. The plan was for the Oswald call to be picked up by the CIA’s wiretaps in Mexico City. That alone would be a significant roadblock in any investigation of Oswald, as the CIA considered the Mexico City wiretap operation one of its crown jewels. The CIA hierarchy wanted as few people as possible in the CIA to know about this operation, let alone the FBI and other US agencies. The notion of unveiling the Mexico City wiretap operation to the general public was a nightmare.
Paul Garbler, CIA staffer:
"You know what CI-SIG was?
Find the mole. That's all they had to do."
This nightmare was heightened by using Oswald to entice the Agency to start a molehunt to find out who made the call. After all, a molehunt had been done with the Oswald file in the past, using Ann Egerter at Angleton’s “office that spied on spies” at CI/SIG. Molehunts were standard operating procedure for CI/SIG – its bread and butter. As Paul Garbler, the CIA’s first station chief in Moscow, told a researcher: “You know what CI-SIG was? Find the mole. That’s all they had to do.”
Bringing Ann Egerter into a molehunt that relied on Oswald’s biographical file meant that those trying to figure out who did the impersonation would use the Oswald legend in a paper trail that stretched into several US agencies and would be impossible to destroy later. It’s hard to think of any reason to bring Ann Egerter back into the Oswald story in late 1963, other than to design a molehunt to find out if someone was trying to penetrate the CIA. That’s how Egerter earned her salary as a CI/SIG analyst. That was the role of CI/SIG itself.
Whoever imitated Oswald on the telephone in Mexico City knew that such a paper trail would be a powerful way to blackmail the involved CIA and FBI officers after November 22 into deep-sixing any serious investigation of the assassination – even an internal inquiry that could be hushed up on the grounds of “national security”.
If it went public that these officers had used the Oswald legend for a molehunt prior to the assassination, the result would be not only embarrassment or a security breach, but suspicion that they were involved in the assassination itself. At a minimum, it would mean the end of the careers of these officers. The impact on their families and their agencies would be devastating.
What got me thinking about a Mexico City molehunt was Peter Dale Scott’s analysis of molehunts conducted by Egerter and others, some of which I discussed in Chapter 1 of this book, the Double Dangle. The Mexico City station was a very powerful station, and its abilities should be acknowledged even though I am incensed by their deeds. For the life of me, I couldn't understand why the station would create a paper trail that made them look suspicious and incompetent at the same time.
I think I have figured out the answer. Due to the September 28 phone call and the calls that followed, the Mexico City Station was duped into embarking on a molehunt to find out who impersonated Oswald and Duran in the phone call. In the process of conducting that molehunt, the paper trail of memos that followed compromised both Headquarters and the Mexico City station, making an honest investigation impossible.
Of course, there's a number of possibilities of who knew enough inside ball to get the Station to play itself out of position. I lean towards David Sanchez Morales, the paramilitary chief at the CIA station in Miami. Morales had been the founder and the intelligence chief for the AMOTs. The AMOTs were the shadow intelligence service designed by the CIA to take over after Castro was overthrown. The AMOTs were highly trained intelligence officers whose primary language was Spanish.
As discussed below, the September 28 conversation was in Spanish, broken Russian, and probably broken English. The September 28 call was probably made by two Spanish speakers, and it wouldn't surprise me if one or both of them were AMOTs from the CIA's Miami station. CIA officer William Sturbitts testified that AMOTs often worked inside the listening posts of audio intercept stations. Whoever made the calls knew that the Mexico City station would be surprised by the call, and that a paper-driven molehunt was the logical response.
Morales had spent considerable time at the Mexico City station visiting David Phillips in the early sixties, and knew how Win Scott ran his shop. If Morales needed any help in knowing what it would take for the Mexico City station to convince Angleton’s people to conduct a molehunt - a doubtful proposition - he would have picked up some tips from Bill Harvey. It’s documented that Harvey knew how to run a molehunt, not to mention how to conduct an operation without writing anything down. As Harvey’s executive officer said, “…you think I was tight lipped. He could run rings around me.”
Morales, Roselli and Martino worked together for years in efforts to assassinate Castro. All three men made damaging admissions about their own involvement in the assassination of JFK, as detailed at length in Larry Hancock’s Somebody Would Have Talked.
Harvey's people in CI and Staff D - Neill Prew, the Potockis, Lou DeSanti, "Thomas Urquhart" (the possible pseudonym of the new staff D chief Alex MacMillan) - hover over what I consider most of the important events. Some or all of these officers may have been unwitting, but they passed along reports that provided very important information about the wiretap system, key Cuban informants, and targets for disruption such as Cuban consul Eusebio Azcue and press attaché Teresa Proenza.
Someone wanted to use the Oswald tapes and the ensuing paper trail to blackmail the leading players in US intelligence after JFK was shot. They wanted a cover-up, and they got one.
There was a joint agency operation in place to embarrass the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, right when Oswald was planning to go to Mexico City and the Soviet Union.
I think the place to begin this study is with a hard look at the joint anti-FPCC operation set up by the CIA and the FBI.
During the second half of 1963, Lambert Anderson held down the Cuban desk for the FBI’s Nationalities Intelligence division. Anderson and his fellow supervisor Marvin Gheesling knew that a man from Dallas named Lee Oswald had been arrested for publicizing the Fair Play for Cuba Committee (FPCC) throughout New Orleans that summer, and the two men placed this information into Oswald’s FBI security flash file. On August 21, the day Oswald was publicly outed in the New Orleans media as a former defector to the Soviet Union, Anderson sent memos out to Dallas and New Orleans that specifically asked the New Orleans FBI office if Oswald was engaged in activities that endangered US security.
On 9/13/63, FBI supervisor
Lambert Anderson received a note from
Agent Hosty saying that Oswald had a
subscription to the Communist Daily
Worker and was leafleting for the
Fair Play for Cuba Committee.
After a month of silence, Anderson received a response on Sept 13th from Dallas agent Jim Hosty, who was transferring the case to the New Orleans office. Hosty had a source inside the New York City FPCC office, almost certainly staff member Victor Vicente (see Chapter 3) who had been part of Anita Potocki and Lou de Santi’s operation in July when this FPCC staffer was sent to Cuba to meet with Castro and Che Guevara. In two short paragraphs, Hosty said that Oswald was a subscriber to the Worker, New York’s Communist newspaper, and that he had a track record of distributing pamphlets in Dallas on behalf of the aforementioned Fair Play for Cuba Committee.
The New Orleans FBI office was trying to figure out if Oswald was a good source, a troublesome character, or both. In the memo that transferred the Oswald file from Dallas to New Orleans, it’s a mystery why Hosty didn’t check the box that would have told New Orleans that Oswald had a security flash.
Oswald reveals himself as someone who can work with intelligence
Oswald himself had sought out the FBI office while he was in jail for the FPCC leafleting that had caused a scuffle with an anti-Castro organization and a resulting media splash. Oswald filled in the FBI agent on his political work in a friendly way and even told him about his new FPCC card. Oswald came across as someone who was not dangerous, and willing to work with the FBI on areas of mutual concern.
A few days later, Oswald wrote some notes that are highly revealing about his political views, the Communist Party, and US intelligence. These notes were created while preparing for a presentation he was making at the seminary attended by his cousin Eugene Murret. Because of the nature of this talk way out in the woods of Alabama, I think Oswald was preparing for a coming day when he would reveal his true identity to the world like a Marvel Comics superhero. He was a liberal ex-Marine – not a radical – that was loyal to the United States of America.
“A symbol of the American way, our liberal concession is the existence in our midst of a minority group whose influence and membership is very limited and whose dangerous tendencies are sufficiently controlled by special government agents.
The communist party U.S.A. bears little resemblance to their Russian counterparts, but by allowing them to operate and even supporting their right to speak, we maintain a tremendous sign of our strength and liberalism; harassment of their party newspaper, their leaders, and advocates is treachery to our basic principles of freedom of speech and press.
Their views no matter how misguided, no matter how much the Russians take advantage of them, must be allowed to be aired. After all, communist U.S.A. have existed for 40 years and they are still a pitiful group of radical. (sic).[ 2 ]
Hosty’s observations about Oswald in Dallas turned into membership cards in Mexico City
Keep in mind that Hosty told Anderson on September 13 that Oswald had a subscription to the newspaper of the Communist Party, USA, and that he had a background of leafleting on behalf of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee. We see the follow-up three days later, on September 16, when John Tilton of the CIA’s Cuban operations in Miami asked Anderson to put together a joint agency operation designed to “plant deceptive information which might embarrass the (FPCC) in areas where it does have some support”.[ 3 ] We will see that Oswald planted some deceptive information in Mexico City - he showed both his authentic FPCC membership card and his fake Communist Party card to Cuban consulate secretary Silvia Duran.
On the 16th, FBI records indicate that Oswald’s security flash file with the FBI's Identification Division was reviewed, with Anderson’s name written alongside.[ 4 ] On the 16th, Anderson’s name is written on Oswald’s security flash – although no document entered the file, it appears to be related to Tilton’s request for help that same day. Tilton had been involved with the DRE just days earlier and may have heard from Anderson about Oswald’s arrest.
On the 26th, Anderson confirmed that the anti-FPCC project was going forward, with plans to distribute “propaganda in the name of the committee”. This joint agency operation was launched right during the Cuba division’s project to recruit Cuban consul Azcue in Mexico City. As Azcue seemed sympathetic to Cuban exiles, he seemed like he might be ripe for recruitment. The problem was that Azcue was due to return to Cuba in a matter of days.
As discussed in Chapter 3, the plan to recruit Azcue had originated with Bill Harvey, the former head of the Cuban division. Harvey’s successor Desmond FitzGerald renewed Harvey’s call to recruit Azcue during the summer of 1963. The joint agency operation, in turn, was a follow-up from an initial joint operation based in New York City two months earlier, when Harvey aide Anita Potocki and Lou de Santi worked with the FBI to get New York FPCC staffer (and FBI agent) Victor Vicente into Havana, where he met with Castro and Che Guevara.[ 5 ]
Bill Harvey himself was still in the mix during late 1963. Although Harvey had turned over the reins to the top-secret NSA-CIA liaison office Staff D as well as the Cuban desk in early 1963, Harvey continued to serve as the head of ZRRIFLE, the get-Castro assassination program tucked inside Staff D. Harvey continued to meet with Johnny Roselli on a regular basis right up to his departure for Rome in June 1963. Harvey worked at Staff D under his pseudonym “Daniel Presland” until at least October 11, 1963. A Staff D memo a few days earlier said that a personnel change was imminent. This means that during the Oswald visit, Harvey continued to have access to cables and wiretaps from all over the world, including Mexico City.
Remember in Chapter 3, how CIA Central American chief Jack Whitten found out that CIA agent LITAMIL-3 was unsuccessful in his attempt to recruit Azcue? Whitten commented that it was a good moment to step back and “let’s wait for further developments”. Mexico City chief Win Scott had talked just days earlier about using LITAMIL-3 as part of a “one-two punch” to recruit Azcue. As of September 20, the “number two” punch had not yet landed.
The CIA Mexico City station was housed within the American embassy, and its officers were referred to as political attachés. As Jack Whitten said, "I do not know whether you informed yourself about the magnitude of our political action program at the time - absolutely enormous… the thrust of the Station's effort was to recruit Soviet, Cuban and satellite people."
Hosty’s observations about Oswald got clever minds thinking about how to use this redefector
To understand what happens next, it’s useful to follow the paper trail of the Hosty memo. As we discussed earlier, FBI officer Anderson learned about Oswald’s connections with the FPCC and the Communist Party from Hosty on September 13. Anderson probably tipped off CIA officer Tilton by the 16th. It had to be an attractive prospect – here was a very rare re-defector, hoping to go to Cuba and then return once again to the Soviet Union.
The Hosty memo was received by the CIA’s Jane Roman on the 23rd. As the liaison to CIA counterintelligence, it was Roman’s job to pass it on to the person who needed to know about it. She gave it to Harvey’s man CI/OPS Will Potocki on the 25th, the very day that Oswald left for Mexico City. Potocki in turn passed it on to Cal Tenney at the CI/International Communism desk – unfortunately, it’s not dated, so we don’t know when Tenney actually received it.
John Newman suggests that the Tilton/Anderson anti-FPCC operation was “CI/OPS-inspired”. [ 6 ] Whether or not Potocki was working with Tilton is not the end of it for me. I think that someone got wind of the anti-FPCC operation and piggy-backed a new operation on top of it that included the impersonation of Oswald.
The piggy-backers could have obtained access to the Oswald information from Potocki, Roman, Egerter, Anderson, or anyone else who could provide access to the file, or knew about the plans to fabricate documents to make the FPCC lose credibility. This kind of deception was known as a counter-intelligence program or “COINTELPRO”. Richard Cotter at the FBI, a Cuban specialist, knew about the Tilton/Anderson operation.[ 7 ] Cotter said that they had successfully run a COINTELPRO operation against the FPCC in the past.
The Hosty memo did not go into Oswald’s 201 file. Instead, it went into file 100-300-011, the CIA’s FPCC file. As the custodian of the 201 file, Egerter probably removed it based on her own volition or the request of her bosses Angleton and CI-SIG chief Birch O’Neal. But, in any case, Potocki had access to it.
Oswald’s visa requests were bound to fail, whether he knew it or not
Researchers have long debated if the real Lee Oswald went to Mexico City at all, and I remain agnostic on that subject. The journalist Jack Anderson reported in the Washington Post that the HSCA investigators wondered if “the CIA concocted the whole Oswald adventure in Mexico City in an attempt to conceal his real activities in Dallas”. There are reports that Oswald visited the anti-Castro activist Sylvia Odio in Dallas right about the same time, and even an unconfirmed report that he made a threat about killing the President at the Cuban Embassy.[ 8 ]
To keep things simple, I will assume that the real Oswald went to Mexico City, regardless of whether the person Duran spoke with was really him or an imposter. My focus is on the manipulation of the reports contained in Oswald’s file, not on Oswald the person.
Ostensibly, it looks like Oswald left for Mexico City after kissing his wife Marina goodbye in New Orleans on September 23. The lure may have been a little extra money at an opportune time. Oswald had experience in requesting money and favors. He had successfully obtained an instant visa to enter the Soviet Union when he defected four years earlier, getting it done in record time for an American at the height of the Cold War.
More often than not, Oswald has struck me as what the CIA called an “unwitting co-optee”. Such a person is someone who unwittingly takes action due to the initiative of the CIA. Oswald had a good reason to go to Mexico City. He wrote in his June 1963 passport application that he was planning to travel to Europe and the USSR later in the year. I think he was lured to go to Mexico City.
As the spy capital of the Western Hemisphere, Mexico City was a good place to negotiate with the Soviets for a visa to the USSR. Both Lee and his wife Marina had been stalled for months in their efforts with the Soviet embassy in Washington to return to the Soviet Union before the arrival of their second baby in October. Marina was seeking permanent residence. Oswald was more flexible, asking the Soviets to give her request priority. Once someone in US intelligence learned that Oswald hoped to travel overseas – probably by the issuance of his new passport in June - they may have taken action to grease the wheels. Money is a great way to do that.
Oswald may have even made some kind of handshake agreement to shake up Azcue and seeing how he responded to Oswald’s request for an instant visa. Any such deal may have included a visit to Valeriy Kostikov at the Soviet consulate, who had joined Khrushchev’s entourage as a diplomat during his visit to the US in 1959.[ 9 ] Kostikov was the senior of the five officers who dealt with visas and related matters. Given the depth of his inside knowledge into the Soviet government, it makes sense that Kostikov was noted on Sept. 27 as a REDCAP target for US intelligence to probe as a possible future defector.[ 10 ]
Some have suggested that Oswald’s real goal was to get to Cuba, and not the Soviet Union. Oswald had expressed interest in visiting on Cuba on several occasions over the years. However, if Oswald really thought that he was going to successfully get into Cuba during this visit, he’s not as smart as I thought he was.
The Cuban consulate secretary Sylvia Duran made it clear that the tried-and-true manner to get to Cuba was to have a US communist party member negotiate directly with representative of the Cuban communist party. Oswald showed up in Mexico City with no Soviet or Cuban sponsor on Friday, Sept. 27th.
As mentioned above, Oswald had a track record of success in obtaining an instant visa when he sought entry into the USSR in 1959. This time, he arrived at the Cuban consulate on a Friday, demanding an instant visa to get into Cuba by the following Monday. He went so far as to make up a yarn that the Soviet embassy in Mexico City had approved his visa to the USSR. In short, Oswald’s mission was probably bound to fail, whether he knew it or not.
Oswald’s effort in shuttle diplomacy between the Soviet and Cuban consulates did him no good. The Cubans, Mexicans, Russians, and Americans all pretty much agree that he visited the Cuban consulate three times and the Soviet consulate once on Friday the 27th. He told the Cubans he got the visa OK from the Soviets, and told the Soviets that he already had a Cuban visa. Consulate secretary Sylvia Duran talked to the Soviets, and both sides determined that Oswald was lying.
After Oswald had no luck with Duran, he went over her head and pitched his story to Duran’s boss Azcue, but it didn’t change anything. Duran’s rapport with Azcue was good. Both Azcue and Sylvia’s husband Horacio were architects and knew each other professionally.
The Cuban consuls were stunned by Oswald's
Communist Party card. They had never seen a
Communist Party card as a form of ID.
Oswald’s display of his brand-new FPCC and CPUSA cards seem like they came right out of the Dallas FBI report two weeks earlier, which identified Oswald as a communist and a Fair Play for Cuba Committee organizer. The Cuban consuls had never seen a Communist Party card used as a form of ID. Azcue was convinced that Oswald was a provocateur. They got into a shouting match that ended with Azcue kicking Oswald out of the consulate.
Here’s the verified events for September 28
The Mexico City station’s procedure for wiretaps was to get a typed version of the audiotape in the hands of Mexico City Station case officer, Ann Goodpasture, by 8 am the next business day. After her review, she would have had it on the desk of station chief Win Scott by 9 am. Win Scott looked at the wiretap transcript of Duran describing Oswald, wrote on the margin: “Is it possible to identify?”, and sent it back to Goodpasture. Win Scott ran a tight ship. It’s safe to say that Goodpasture was right on it.
At about 9:45 am on Saturday the 28th, Oswald returned to the Soviet consulate and made a final pitch for an instant visa. He displayed his pistol, laid it down on the desk, said he was being harassed by the FBI, and started to weep. The Soviets emptied the bullets from the pistol, commiserated, and ushered him out at 10:30. Oswald was told that nothing more could be done but wait for the word from their embassy in Washington DC. The Soviet consulate officers all said that they never heard from Oswald again.
Both Oswald and Duran were impersonated in the call of the 28th
An hour after Oswald left the Soviet consulate on the 28th, we have a wiretap transcript of a call on the Soviet line made by Duran from the Cuban consulate to the Soviet consulate. When Duran put Oswald on the line, he said that he had given the Soviet consulate the wrong address, and that he had returned to the Cuban consulate to obtain the proper address that he had left with them because he had forgotten it. The Soviet officer invited him to come back over and give them the right address. Oswald said that he would. Again, the Soviets said that he did not return. This call is a fake. Let’s view it from several vantage points.
This was the only call of the day placed by an outsider to the Soviet consulate
The English transcript of the September 28 calls
reveals that this is the only conversation of the
day where the translator was not able to identify
any of the speakers.
The Soviets say that the switchboard was closed that day. A review of the transcripts of the 28th reveals that this call was the only call that was not placed by a colleague, relative or a friend of someone at the consulate. The calls for that day concerned social affairs like going on a picnic, grappling with the grippe, and taking care of the children and the chickens. In other words, this was the only call of the day placed by an outsider to the Soviet consulate.
Documents have been tampered with to make it appear that Duran admitted seeing Oswald after the 27th
The Mexican reports about this September 28 call are intriguing. Sylvia Duran, a Mexican national, told the DFS officers who arrested her after the assassination that she never saw Oswald again after the 27th. Her family members said she told them the same thing. Peter Dale Scott wrote a stinging article exposing how Duran’s statements to the Mexican police after the assassination were routinely mis-translated. Scott explains that her original statement given immediately after JFK’s assassination has never been released, and that even the original transcript of her interrogation may still be in the hands of the Mexican government. [ 11 ]
What we do have is a February 1964 translation where Duran says that after September 27th “he never called again”. The Mexico City station’s Cuba desk chief David Phillips arranged for the translation of Duran’s statements at interrogation, and the final translation of the same statement is outrageous. Created in May 1964 and used as a Warren Commission exhibit, the final translation has Duran stating that “she does not recall whether Oswald subsequently called her or not.” A review of these translations reveals that they differ in many other striking ways.[ 12 ]
Let’s put it this way. The CIA admitted that the only hard evidence they had of the Oswald visit to Duran on the 28th was the wiretap. That meant that no one at the consulate was able to verify Oswald’s visit, including Duran herself. Her denial is the best available evidence. As we will see later on, there is evidence that the tape of the September 28 call survived the assassination.
We even see that the CIA told the Warren Commission that “we deduce” that Oswald visited the Cuban consulate on September 28, but added “we cannot be certain of this conclusion”.[ 13 ] Why wouldn’t the CIA trust its own evidence that Oswald called the Soviet consulate? Such a statement hardly inspires confidence.
The last time Goodpasture was interrogated about this phone call, her interrogator referred to the caller on September 28 as “Oswald or an Oswald substitute”. Goodpasture didn’t even argue with him. She herself had referred in the past to “the man calling himself Oswald”, and “the ‘alleged’ Oswald”.
The American translators of the tapes were not interviewed for 13 years after the assassination
The Americans report that an audiotape of the September 28 call was delivered to the CIA’s Boris and Anna Tarasoff. This wiretapped call contained three different languages – as Boris translated Russian and Anna translated English while the monitors provided a Spanish translation, they worked on it together. Boris Tarasoff testified fifteen years later that he thought the Russian speaker as probably an officer named Konstantinov - although the Mexico City station prided itself as identifying all callers whenever possible, no intelligence officer or Warren staffer ever sought the identity of the Russian who spoke with Duran and Oswald.
This flat refusal to identify which Soviet spoke with Oswald falls into the same category as the Agency’s failure to question Duran or the Tarasoffs. The only reasonable explanation is that they knew what would they would find out and they didn’t want to know. Media consultant Brian Litman interviewed all of the Soviet officers, and by the end of this year we may know if a Soviet officer ever reported receiving this call. Stunningly, as we will see, neither of the Tarasoffs were never interviewed by anyone about their transcriptions of Oswald until thirteen years after the assassination, even though Boris’ transcription - under his pseudonym of “Douglas Feinglass” - was presented as authoritative evidence to CIA headquarters on November 23, 1963.
No American ever interviewed Sylvia Duran for 13 years after the assassination
Of the numerous officers interviewed after the assassination, I don’t recall any of them ever identified either Duran or Oswald as the speakers in the 28th call on the record, under penalty of perjury. Nor do I recall any of the monitors or translators identifying Duran or Oswald’s voices on the 28th. This is remarkable in Duran’s case, as she had been working at the consulate all summer and was identified in the photo logs back in 1962, on August 7, 1963, and as recently as September 30, 1963. We call her Duran simply because the transcriber identified her as Silvia Duran.
The transcripts are very strange. The original transcript in Spanish is mysteriously faint right in the area of the Duran-Oswald conversation and is essentially illegible. The English version of this transcript does not identify Duran, although all the other conversations are identified by speaker. A stand-alone version of this transcript identifies Duran as the speaker on the 28th, but it is not confirmed by the Mexico City officers. This is important because a stand-alone version of the transcript for the 27th identifies Duran, and is later confirmed (“Duran”) by one of the Mexico City officers.
CIA HQ went so far as to write that “we do not want any Americans to confront Silvia Duran or be in contact with her”. CIA HQ did not want it to get out that Duran never met with Oswald on the 28th. Mexico City station made sure on November 23rd that Duran was seized and held incommunicado until they learned how to handle her story. Although Duran was “perfectly willing” to come to the United States and answer the Warren Commission questions, it never happened. Duran, one of the most important witnesses in any JFK assassination investigation, was never questioned by Americans until her interview with Ron Kessler of the Washington Post in 1976.[ 14 ]
The September LIENVOY report written by station chief Win Scott on 10/8/63 mentions that there were "two leads from LIENVOY of operational interest in September 1963", a woman professor from New Orleans contacting the Soviet embassy, and an unidentified Czech woman contacting the Czech embassy. Neither of these calls mention this critical Sept 28 LIENVOY wiretapped call from "Duran and Oswald" to the Soviet consulate, even though CIA regulations mandated reports on all US citizens that visited the Soviet consulate.
The phone caller spoke broken Russian and broken English, and knew that Oswald was in transition but not that he was moving away from his family
It was reported that two of the monitors said that the American in the Sept 28 call spoke broken Russian and broken English. My hunch is that these “monitors” were probably the Tarasoffs. The mystery phone caller may have been a Spanish speaker, possibly even an AMOT. There is testimony that AMOTs worked in foreign listening posts as monitors. The Mexico City monitoring station would have been a logical place for someone like AMOT chief David Morales to embed one of his people, or to elicit an informant from within the staff of Mexican monitors.
Oswald’s Russian was very good. Dallas translator Peter Gregory had written a recommendation for Oswald months earlier, verifying that Oswald was qualified to be a Russian translator and an interpreter. Gregory’s skills were considerable, and he was used by the Secret Service after the assassination.
On the Cuban side of this call, there was no LIENVOY wiretap set up on the Cuban consulate line. Because the records of the locations of the LIFEAT tapes are missing, there is no way to verify the source of what (if anything) was picked up on the Soviet tap. All hands say that the Cuban consulate was closed to visitors on Saturday the 28th. It’s well-documented that a Cuban exile named Manuel Porras Rivera was turned away by security when he tried to visit the Cuban consulate that day. Why would it be any different for Oswald, particularly after he was essentially banished from the consulate the day before?
Even if Duran’s testimony is considered not to be totally reliable, the testimony of the Tarasoffs and other factors indicate that Oswald was impersonated on the phone on September 28
The biggest argument against an impersonation of Oswald is that Duran may not be telling the truth. A recent book by Philip Shenon claims that Duran went to a twist party in Mexico City with Oswald during his visit. If Duran lied about “never seeing Oswald after the 27th” in this regard, it obviously calls her testimony about not seeing Oswald on the 28th in question.
I can’t and don’t rely on Duran’s testimony alone. Although the Warren Commission found “no significant inaccuracies” in her statements to the DFS, such a finding is not sufficient evidence to treat her testimony as basically trustworthy. What is more intriguing is that Duran provided the best evidence that she could in the face of DFS’ forcible interrogation techniques. They hurt her, left her with black and blue marks, and mis-translated what she said, but she did not back down.
Another reason why I remain convinced about Duran is telling the truth when she says Oswald did not come to the Cuban consulate on the 28th is that the circumstances of the revelation of her testimony jibes with the testimony provided by the Tarasoffs. Like Duran, the Tarasoffs make it very clear that no one questioned them about their transcription of the Oswald tapes until 1976. Not only did the Tarasoffs and Duran have to wait thirteen years before they were able to tell their stories under oath, but they were probably the three most important witnesses about Oswald’s visit to Mexico City. It makes no sense that they would all be insulated from questioning.
A third reason is that the comments of the Oswald caller reveal that he does not know that the efforts for a visa have come to a dead end. The caller is forced to elicit Kostikov's name from the Russian. The "Cubans have my address" business is provocative and untrue.
A fourth reason is based on an admission by Goodpasture that she erred in her Mexico City history by claiming that Oswald contacted the embassies on September 26 and October 6. She admitted that she believed the actual dates of Oswald's visits to the embassies were September 27 and October 1. That admission illustrates that she believed that there were only two dates when Oswald contacted the embassies, and that neither one of those dates were September 28.
Besides these four reasons, I can come up with a quick summary of at least ten other reasons discussed in this chapter:
1. The Cuban consulate was closed on Saturday, and it is well-documented that they turned away the anti-Castro activist Manuel Porras Rivera. Meanwhile, the Soviet consulate’s switchboard was closed – other than Duran’s call, the only calls that are recorded on the transcript from that day are insider calls from people who had friends or family at the consulate.
2. No one to my knowledge ever testified under penalty of perjury that it was Oswald or Duran’s voices on the tape of the 28th.
3. Boris Tarasoff believed that the person who identified himself as Oswald on the 1st was the same person who was on the tape of the 28th. Despite that identification, the Mexico City station took no action reporting this US visitor to the Soviet consulate.
4. However, Win Scott reported Oswald’s presence to CIA HQ regarding the October 1 phone call, but not the call of the 28th, even though he had a mandatory duty to do so. Another factor in this failure is that the October 1 call had no reference to Cuba, while the September 28 call was allegedly placed from the Cuban consulate.
5. CIA HQ went so far as to write that “we do not want any Americans to confront Silvia Duran or be in contact with her”.
6. A CIA statement actually said that the Agency was not certain if Oswald was at the consulate on the 28th. Goodpasture identified the man as “the man calling himself Oswald”, and “the ‘alleged’ Oswald”, and voiced no objection when a questioner referred to “Oswald or the Oswald substitute.”
7. We have evidence that documents were tampered with, changing Duran’s testimony that she never spoke to Oswald again after the 27th.
8. The Oswald character in the September 28 and October 1 calls spoke broken Russian, and possibly even broken English. Oswald’s Russian was very good.
Immediately after the assassination, Goodpasture
reported to Headquarters that the September 28 tape
was destroyed before the October 1 tape was
obtained. But the protocol was to hold on to tapes
for 14 days - and tapes from the Cuban consulate
for 30 days.
9. Goodpasture claimed that the tape of the 28th was destroyed by the 1st. That claim is not credible, as the protocol was to save tapes for 14 days and the Cuban tapes for 30 days.
10. Last, but not least, the stripping of all references to Cuba from Oswald’s biographical file, and the placement of these references in the file for the Fair Play for Cuba Committee. This was a crucial aspect of hiding any supposed link of Oswald to the Cuban consulate.
Meanwhile, Kennedy and Castro were testing to see if peace was possible
There was a political reason, incidentally, to make Sylvia Duran look bad. As seen in this FBI memo, it had been well-known among intelligence throughout 1963 that Sylvia Duran had been not only the secretary but also the paramour of Carlos Lechuga, the Cuban ambassador to the United Nations. It was reported in Feb 1963 that Lechuga had offered to marry Duran.
Here’s a memo showing Bill Harvey's long-time aides Neill Prew and Anita Potocki (Harvey’s assistant at Staff D) and Lou DeSanti copied on a memo in January 1963, showing them watching Sylvia Duran very carefully during her affair with Lechuga. These officers are kept in the loop repeatedly in the following weeks while monitoring Proenza and other attachés. Prew is copied again right before the attempt to recruit Azcue in September 1963.
During the week leading up to the Oswald visit to Mexico in September 1963, Lechuga was one of the two principal men on the Cuban side coordinating back channel negotiations between Castro and JFK to reach rapprochement. On Sept. 23, Lechuga met with Kennedy aide William Attwood at the New York apartment of reporter Lisa Howard, who had met with Castro and brokered this attempt to re-establish diplomatic relations in the last months of Kennedy's life, and continued to try to keep it going during the first year of LBJ's tenure.
The CIA’s top officials had been at the meetings where this policy shift towards rapprochement was under discussion throughout the year and right into the autumn. The CIA hierarchy gave orders that channels of communication to Castro had to be kept secret from the general public. The CIA chiefs knew that if word got out to the public, the anti-Castro forces would consider it a "stab in the back." I'm sure that men like Morales did take it as a stab in the back. JFK was letting Castro know that peace was possible.
It is not credible that the tape of the 28th call was destroyed in three days
The Sept 28th call got the desired response from the Mexico City station. Based on their aforementioned practices, chief Win Scott would have had the transcript of the 28th call by the 29th, or the 30th at the latest. A copy of the transcript would also be routed to the hands of David Phillips. Like Harvey, Phillips wore more than one hat. Not only was Phillips the station’s head of covert action, but he was also the head of Mexico City’s Cuban operations.[ 15 ]
Phillips left on the 30th on a nine-day trip. His first stop was the CIA headquarters outside Washington, DC. On any such trip, he would generally meet with his boss, covert action chief Richard Helms. It stands to reason that he would spend some time with the head of Cuban operations, Desmond FitzGerald. As this was a counterintelligence matter, such a discussion would also have to include Jim Angleton or someone from his office. Assuming he met with his superiors, the four of them would have decided what action to take about the phone call of the 28th.
For this crowd, impersonations were old hat. Just two months earlier, the Mexico City station had interrupted some business of a pro-Castro American cattleman by impersonating his contact, the commercial attaché Luisa Calderon of the Cuban consulate. This time, the station’s trick had been turned back onto the station.
The officers at the Mexico City station told Congress years later that having an American visit the Soviet consulate was unusual. Win Scott only reported three such visits by Americans during the second half of 1963: The “Oswald” call of October 1, a New Orleans professor, and a drunk shouting in the middle of the night. There are no pre-Nov. 22 reports discussing Oswald visiting both the Soviet and Cuban consulates. It was extremely unusual to have an American speaking Russian, much less speaking on the telephone directly from the Cuban consulate.
Years later, Jim Angleton was confronted by Senator Richard Schweiker on this very question. Schweiker reminded Angleton that Oswald’s own wife thought that Oswald was from the Baltic states when they first met because his accent was so good, and suggested that since the Oswald on the telephone spoke Russian very poorly “you just wonder if they’re the same person.” Angleton did everything that he could to change the subject.
Wildest of all were the aforementioned reports that “Oswald” spoke both broken English and broken Russian. This tip was so sensitive that it was obtained by reporter Ron Kessler second-hand from “two monitors” (who may have been the Tarasoffs). But Kessler had an excellent primary source - Charles Flick (aka “Arnold Arehart”), the technician who kept custody of the Mexico City tapes. Corroborating evidence was provided by Dallas FBI chief Gordon Shanklin, who reported that after the assassination his FBI agents listened to a copy of a Mexico City tape purported to be Oswald. What they heard was a voice speaking in broken English who was not Oswald. (See http://digitalcollections.baylor.edu/cdm/compoundobject/collection/po-arm/id/786/rec/1, and go to p. 39)
On Tuesday, October 1, there were two more calls to the Soviet consulate by a man speaking broken Russian. He said he had called on Saturday the 28th and wanted to know the status of his visa request. He said that he had been speaking with Soviet consul Valeriy Kostikov, and that his name was Lee Oswald. This is a ridiculous statement. The Soviets in Mexico had told him “no”, clearly and emphatically.
These October 1 calls went directly to Boris Tarasoff on a rush basis. When a call came in about an American trying to contact the Soviet compound, there was a procedure in place to contact Goodpasture within fifteen minutes, to arrange an immediate handoff of the tape, and to deliver it to the Tarasoffs with orders to transcribe it on the same day.
Boris Tarasoff had a special skill. Like the monitors at the intercept base, he had memorized the voices of many of the speakers that he had heard in calls to the Soviet compound. This skill was essential to the work of the station, which depended on identifying target persons and others picked up by the wiretaps. When he heard Oswald’s voice in the October 1 call, he matched it immediately with his recollection of the voice he heard on September 28.[ 16 ]
When Boris and his wife Anna picked up Oswald’s name on tape, he gave the tape to his contact Bill Bright. As discussed earlier, Bright was a new addition to the station, and had formerly been the man in charge of Oswald’s 201 file for the Soviet division’s biographical section. When he told Bright that the caller had identified himself as Lee Oswald, Bright became very interested and excited. Tarasoff said in 1976 that no one ever asked him after the assassination any questions about the Oswald tapes or transcripts. Tarasoff is one of the most important witnesses in the JFK case. But CIA HQ didn’t want Tarasoff’s story to be known.
Immediately after the assassination, Goodpasture reported to Headquarters that the September 28 tape was destroyed before the October 1 tape was obtained. This was an outright lie. The Mexico City station procedure was to hold on to tapes for two weeks. For tapes that emanated from the Cuban consulate, they held on to them for 30 days. There was even a special rack that the technical adviser had arranged to hold on to the Cuban tapes in chronological order. There is no way that a tape of this sensitivity was routinely destroyed in three days. Goodpasture had to lie about the September 28 tape, because this was a state secret.
David Phillips, the missing “third transcript” of Oswald, and the need for a plan
Once the station found out that the man who made the 9/28 call and the 10/1 calls identified himself as Lee Oswald, Phillips needed to know about it. The station would not want to leave a paper trail regarding this sensitive penetration matter that might be read by a CIA penetrator. On the night of October 1, a pouch was sent to Phillips at Headquarters. The CIA procedure at the time was that these pouched transmittals left no paper trail, other than to say that the items had been sent from point A to point B.
The pouch probably contained a transcript of the October 1 calls from the man calling himself Oswald. You have to wonder if it also contained a copy of the tape.
Many years later, Phillips told a very elaborate lie, claiming that he was in Mexico City working with the Soviet desk in preparing the draft of a response to the October 1 phone calls. He also claimed that the Soviet desk officer was lazy. That didn’t happen – even Goodpasture said Phillips’ story was not true. It is well-documented that Phillips was away from the Mexico City station at CIA HQ in Washington and then JMWAVE station in Miami between September 30 to October 9. When this documentation was brought to light, Phillips was forced to backtrack and fall back to a weak excuse that his memory was mistaken, and that he had not played any role in preparing this draft memo.
Phillips’ initial testimony to the HSCA was amazing. Phillips testified that he recalled a record of Oswald calling the Soviet consulate and asking for financial aid. Phillips had embellished this story the day before by telling reporter Ron Kessler that Oswald asked for money in exchange for information, and was forced to concede during the deposition that “the information part” was made up. Phillips, however, insisted that the “financial aid part” was correct. There is no transcript supporting Phillips’ testimony.
However, translator Anna Tarasoff testified that there was such a transcript, with Oswald identifying himself by name and asking for financial aid. Boris’ specialty was in Russian to English translations, which is why Anna did the work. Both Boris and Anna said it was a “long one”, that it was in English, that it was transcribed by Anna, who handled English speakers, and that they turned it in immediately. This specific sequence of events is why it stands out in their minds; as Boris said, “well, that’s it”.
Despite a search, such a transcript has never been found. Because of the discrepancy between the translators’ memory and the transcripts, the Tarasoffs provided to the HSCA their original Royal portable typewriter so that the type could be compared with the type on the transcripts. The Royal typewriter, in a brown case, is sitting in the National Archives today. The comparison is still waiting to be done.
I believe that this missing “third transcript” of a call from Oswald on a date other than Sept. 28 and Oct. 1 probably did exist. Phillips’ admission about Oswald seeking financial aid, made at the beginning of the HSCA investigation, made it clear that he needed to avoid telling too many whoppers on the record, given that the “third transcript” might turn up in the investigation. From then on, the CIA took a much tougher attitude to the HSCA. Phillips provided no new startling revelations when recalled in 1978.
Meanwhile, during the first days of October immediately following the October 1 phone calls, two posts went back and forth between the Mexico City station and CIA HQ. Mexico City expressed concern about trusting the local FBI office with any sensitive information – they were concerned that the FBI had been penetrated. HQ’s response was to tell Mexico City to take no immediate action on the “high level of penetration” while they figured out how to best work with the FBI. The concern, of course, was to avoid any damage to their relations.
Phillips’ next stop was to JMWAVE, the CIA’s Cuba operations base in Miami. Upon his arrival on the 7th, Phillips was greeted by John Tilton. To recap, Tilton was the CIA Cuba affairs officer who worked with the FBI’s Cuba affairs officer Lambert Anderson to put together the joint agency anti-FPCC operation that used Oswald in some way. The purpose of Phillips’ visit was for two days of consultations.[ 17 ]
It seems reasonable to assume that Phillips met with Ted Shackley, the chief of the Miami base for Cuban operations, and that he passed on to them some version of his previous discussions with their colleagues at Langley. Did Phillips tell Shackley specifically about the Oswald impersonation? Or the molehunt? We don’t know, but let’s assume that he did and swore him to secrecy. After this meeting, the plan was completed.
A summary of what the Sept. 28 callers knew
Here’s what I think happened next, based on my review of the documents from we have been looking at. I conclude that a plan went into effect on October 8. The goal was to smoke out the identity of the September 28 callers that pretended to be Duran and Oswald.
The person who was the titular head of this operation was analyst Ann Egerter. She had done the main handling of Oswald’s file since 1960, reporting to her bosses Jim Angleton and Birch O’Neal. Egerter’s group, CI/SIG, was known as the molehunting unit. She called CI/SIG “the office that spied on spies”. For more background, see my article on CI/SIG.
A quick overview of what the Sept 28 callers knew:
- 1. Oswald was a Russian-speaker;
- 2. Oswald had previously met with Duran;
- 3. Oswald had just left the Soviet embassy earlier that morning on the 28th;
- 4. Oswald wanted to know on the 1st if his Soviet visa had been granted – because the September 28 callers made this call as well!
- 5. On October 1, the caller identified himself as Oswald, saying that he had called previously on the 28th. He then coaxed the Soviet officer who picked up the phone to provide Kostikov's name, claiming that his previous conversation had been with that man. A linkage between Kostikov and Oswald was now created.
Concern grew on Oct. 1 that the FBI office in Mexico City was penetrated
Keep in mind that right after the calls of Sept 28 and Oct 1, the station had immediately responded with a report to HQ admitting its fear that the local FBI field office had been penetrated.
On October 1, Bill Bright’s defection target Bakulin – who was handling the double agents LAROB and LINEB-1 for the Soviets, as seen in Chapter 3 - was seen talking to Yatskov outside the Soviet Embassy.[ 18 ] Yatskov was the consul assumed to be in close communication with Oswald, as seen in a contact sheet for Oswald. This referenced list of contacts makes it clear that the CIA was convinced by October 1st that “Y talked to O” on September 28.[ 19 ]
At this point, CIA complaints surface about the FBI’s operation. I believe the concern was that someone from the LAROB or the LINEB-1 operations might have obtained access to LIENVOY, and impersonated Oswald and Duran on the telephone.
Bakulin and LINEB-1 met on October 1. Bakulin told LINEB-1 he had no money for him that day. Things had heated up. After the meeting, Bakulin was put on continuous physical surveillance by the CIA’s Mexico City station unit known as LIEMBRACE.[ 20 ]
The next day, October 2, a memo went out from CIA headquarters discussing the danger that the FBI's field office in Mexico City had been penetrated, and that any coordination with that FBI office was "a delicate matter" that should be dealt with at the headquarters level rather than in the field.
The memo also said that the FBI leadership “instructed its Mexi rep to discuss with you pertinent details of such Russian CE ops (note: counter-espionage operations) as LAROB case”. LAROB was a double agent handled by both Soviet officer Valentin Bakulin and the FBI in Mexico City. Bill Bright had been tracking this story, as discussed in Chapter 3. Although there was a danger that the FBI's relationship with LAROB might have compromised its own security, HQ valued its relationship with the FBI and told the Mexico City station that "we do not wish at present time to raise new issues in Mexico."[ 21 ]
On October 5, the Mexico City station reported that “HQs was deferring discussion of the high level of penetration, but would take it up after hearing results of closer liaison between (the Mexico City station and the FBI) in Mexico City."[ 22 ]
On October 7, twenty sets of reports about double agent LAROB were sent from the FBI to the Mexico City station and Headquarters.[ 23 ] Why were they sent? Because both the Station and Headquarters were worried that LAROB was insecure. This double agent or his contacts could have impersonated Duran and Oswald on September 28 and October 1. LAROB and his contacts were logical suspects.
If the local FBI field office had been subjected to a high level of penetration, then the Mexico City station could have been penetrated as well. The station itself had to be treated as a suspect in the molehunt.
Agreement to strip Oswald’s biographical file of any pro-Cuban references before beginning the molehunt
The number one concern was that the LIENVOY operation had been discovered by Soviet or Cuban intelligence, blowing a highly valuable and sensitive asset of the United States. The impersonation could have been an effort by the Soviets or Cubans to rattle the Americans’ cage by letting them know that their tap operation had been found out, and then taking careful note of the American reaction.
However, the Mexico City station could not assume that the calls were an operation conducted by Soviet or Cuban intelligence. It was a live possibility that these calls were an inside job. Any analyst could easily deduce that American intelligence knew a lot more about Lee Oswald then the Soviets or the Cubans.
Due to the nature of the security problem, the logical prime suspects would be the CIA officers working in Cuban operations and the FBI’s double agents working with Bakulin. Also worthy of consideration were the Mexico City station and the domestic agencies responsible for handling Oswald – FBI, State, Navy. The immigration service also had a subsidiary role, as they were responsible for tracking Oswald’s wife Marina.
A decision was made for the Mexico City station to make no reference to Oswald’s visits to the Cuban consulate. All of Mexico City’s references to the Oswald case would use the LCIMPROVE indicator of an operation designed to counter the Soviets, rather than the TYPIC indicator that would refer to Cuban operations.
Oswald’s biographical file (known as his “201 file”) would be stripped of any reference to his pro-Cuban activities, as well as any reference to any attempt to obtain a visa. These documents were removed from the 201 file and placed inside Oswald’s FPCC 100-300-011 file tightly held by CI-SIG.[ 24 ]
Many documents still bear this original FPCC file number today, crossed out and replaced by the 201 number. This was done to create a plausible reason to prevent FitzGerald’s Cuban desk at HQ and Shackley’s Miami station from receiving any cables or dispatches about this molehunt. The Cuba operations officers had access to the August 1963 FBI report about Oswald based on his real name Lee Harvey Oswald, his actual slender build of “5 foot 9, 140 pounds”, and his current status as a US resident; as you will see, they would have known that the molehunt descriptions of Oswald were inaccurate.
The Miami station had been included in all of the memos about the related Azcue operation. The two joint agency anti-FPCC operations of that year (discussed in Chapter 3) included several officers with the Cuban division, including Tilton himself. It was reasonable to assume that the suspects for the Duran and Oswald impersonation would include people from Miami with intelligence connections.
The heart of the plan was for Mexico City to add some marked cards based on phony information into their memo to HQ. Then HQ would do the same. Then see where those cards ended up. Both of these feints are part of the time-honored molehunt technique that Jim Angleton specialized in. The phony information simply created a brighter trail to follow.
Angleton believed Oswald was tied in with the Soviets
Although the Miami station was cut out of the chase, it may well be that Angleton refused to believe that Miami had anything to do with the Oswald phone calls. Angleton not only assumed that the Soviets were constantly trying to penetrate the CIA, but he also assumed that they knew that their compound was tapped in Mexico City.
As I’ve said, molehunts were Jim Angleton’s specialty. Goodpasture had served for years previously in the CI staff with Jim Angleton. Angleton and Harvey were not only close friends, but also at the mountaintop of top-secret CIA operations. No divisions were more sacrosanct than the CI division and Staff D. The role of CI/SIG within CI may have been the most sacrosanct of all, as it spied on CIA officers themselves and had to hide their role in order to remain effective. When Angleton heard about the Sept 28 phone call by “Lee Oswald” in Mexico City, it must have brought him right back to the hunt for Popov’s mole on the day that Lee Oswald came to Moscow.
For years, Angleton was convinced that the Soviets were behind the Oswald story, until a Soviet double agent had him doubting his certainty in 1967. He was also shook up by an internal KGB study finding that the perpetrators of JFK’s assassination were “right-wing”.
It should be said that Angleton claimed to know things about the Mexico City story that are unsupported in the record. He testified to the Church Committee that Oswald was arrested in Mexico City, with a plan to contact the Soviets while in Cuba. He also said that there was a tie-in to a 1956 arrest of Fidel Castro in Mexico City years earlier for plotting Batista’s assassination, and that both the arrests of Oswald and Castro were linked to Soviet third secretary Nikolai Leonov in Mexico City. The documents reflect no factual support for these Angleton claims about Oswald. Much of Angleton’s testimony is blacked out to this day.
Angleton went on to claim that there were several photos of interest. Two of them were photos of Leonov and Castro together, found in Castro’s possession when he was arrested in Mexico City in 1956, as well as a photo of Castro’s arrest itself. The true version of this story is that Leonov’s business card was found in Castro’s wallet. Angleton also claimed that a photo of Leonov was supposedly found in Oswald’s pocket when he was supposedly arrested in Mexico.[ 25 ]
Angleton may have made this yarn up, or it may have come from Mexico City’s TARBRUSH program, which tried on at least three separate occasions during 1963-64 to make Leonov look bad. When Leonov got a couple months off in the spring of 63, he served as Castro's interpreter in the USSR. Clever minds thought that Leonov might be a good target for dirty tricks. It’s not impossible that the supposed mastermind Angleton was taken in by the Mexico City station’s own “black propaganda” program. If I could speak Russian, I would ask Leonov himself, who is still alive and serves in the Russian Parliament as of this writing.[ 26 ]
Goodpasture begins the molehunt with her use of the Mystery Man photo
I believe that Phillips’ trip to Washington and Miami led to an unheard-of one week delay by the highly efficient Mexico City station. Only after Phillips’ visit to Miami did the Soviet desk finally get the go-ahead to prepare a memo to CIA HQ on the October 1 phone calls. CIA HQ now had a total heads-up as to what would be coming from Mexico City.
As mentioned earlier, Phillips blamed the Soviet case officer Barbara Manell for the delay. Goodpasture said Phillips had it wrong, and blamed it on the time needed to get the Russian translation, coupled with the need to match the Oswald information with a photo. Boris Tarasoff said that he provided the translation immediately. He had so little work to do that he spent a lot of time at the embassy “hanging around doing nothing”.
Tarasoff was originally brought to Mexico City before the station knew that Tarasoff couldn’t translate Spanish. Another officer was brought out in early August who could speak fluent Spanish, and became one of Tarasoff’s main contacts. His pseudonym was Orville Horsfall. Horsfall was the ubiquitous Bill Bright.
Commission Exhibit 237, one of the
photos of the so-called "mystery man."
Goodpasture began the molehunt by using a supposed “Oswald photo” as the background legend for the Soviet desk’s memo sent out to HQ on October 8. The memo reported that Lee Oswald called the Soviet consulate on October 1. He was described as 6 feet tall and with an athletic build. This description was nothing like Oswald, who was 5 foot 9 and 140 pounds.
The Soviet desk officer said that Goodpasture told her that the photo log portrayed a six-foot “Mystery Man” with an athletic build leaving the Soviet consulate on October 1. He looked like an American and might be Oswald.
Goodpasture admitted finding the photo, but refused to take responsibility to admit that she thought the Mystery Man might be Oswald, saying that she didn’t remember who suggested it. She did admit, however, that she started screening the photos once she found out that Oswald was probably an American. Her actions illustrate that the Mexico City station thought that the man calling himself Lee Oswald was important.
It was not unusual for the station chief Win Scott to press the officers to match a report of a phone call with a corresponding photo. It’s unusual, of course, for Goodpasture and the Soviet desk officer Barbara Manell to disagree about such a fundamental issue involving Oswald. It was also unusual for Goodpasture to provide the Soviet desk with a photo which was taken on October 2, while pretending that it was taken on October 1.
Goodpasture mistook this October 2 sighting as
happening on October 1, even though the typeface
separating the two dates was in red.
She was told to double-check this item after the
assassination and again in 1967, and on both
occasions claimed that she had it right.
Goodpasture was supposedly relying on a photo log that separated October 1 and October 2 with a full line of red percentage marks. She claimed many years later that this was her mistake. She was ordered to review the dates immediately after the assassination and again in 1967, and yet she never “caught the mistake”.
This is not the kind of mistake that an exceptional officer like Goodpasture would make, who routinely received the highest rating of “outstanding” in her fitness reports. The staff of the House Select Committee on Assassinations reviewed this evidence in the 1970s along with her explanation, and concluded that Goodpasture’story was highly implausible. Staffer Ed Lopez concluded that Goodpasture belonged in jail.
As a member of the top-secret communications office Staff D, Ann Goodpasture had been answering for years to Bill Harvey and his assistant Anita Potocki. David Phillips was also part of Staff D. Staff D received on a regular basis all the transcripts about what was picked up inside the Soviet and Cuban consulates in Mexico City. Staff D knew what was going on inside those consulates. As I said in the previous chapter, I view the Mexico City station as a Staff D outpost.
From review of the documents, it appears that the essential participants in any molehunt would have been CI chief Jim Angleton and his analyst Ann Egerter (holder of the Oswald biographical file from 1960-62); covert action chief Richard Helms and his assistant Tom Karamessines; Ann Goodpasture and David Phillips of both the Mexico City station and Staff D; Desmond FitzGerald and Ted Shackley from Cuba affairs.
Other possible participants might include John Tilton and Lambert Anderson, the architects of the joint agency anti-FPCC operation; Anita Potocki of Staff D, who had run the previous joint agency anti-FPCC operation; and possibly Staff D operative Bill Harvey himself.
Others who may have known some kind of operation was in place – but not necessarily the details, which would have been provided on a need-to-know basis – include WH head JC King, John Whitten at the Mexican desk, Whitten’s assistant Charlotte Bustos, Soviet officers Stephan Roll and Bill Bright, and Angleton’s liaison Jane Roman. Scott was described as a “fanatic” about running a “remarkably compartmentalized station”. It’s hard to imagine Scott being cut out of the molehunt, and it’s equally hard to imagine Scott wanting more than a couple of the Mexico City personnel in the know.
The stripping of Oswald’s 201 file
Oswald’s 201 file at CIA HQ was stripped of all references to his FPCC background, and placed inside the Agency’s FPCC file, or in a casual, working file in Egerter’s possession commonly known as a soft file. The purpose was to conceal this information from anyone who had access to Oswald’s 201 file. The procedure was that there was no way anyone was going to see the contents of a 201 file without the express consent of the CI-SIG officer in charge. Ann Egerter, the senior analyst and custodian of Oswald’s 201 file, was a learned lady.
Starting on September 23, Hosty’s report on Oswald went into the FPCC file, with the FPCC number 100-300-011 written on it.[ 27 ] Other pre-assassination FBI reports about Oswald, Cuba and the FPCC were directed to this file as well. It stayed in there until March 1964, after the assassination.
This insulated anyone else from learning about Oswald’s history as a pro-Castro activist. CI-SIG held the FPCC 100-300-011 file tightly in its possession, and the routing sheet shows that the first document went straight to Will Potocki, and then other members of Angleton’s CI division.[ 28 ]
Why was the Hosty memo inserted in the FPCC file on September 23, even before Oswald left for Mexico? I think it was to mislead other CIA officers about who Oswald was. I do not know why, but my hunch is that John Tilton and Lambert Anderson wanted to conceal their use of Oswald and his pro-Cuban background. The only people that saw the Hosty memo before the assassination were CIA counterintelligence officers.
If my hunch is right, this strategy drove the decisions that were made afterwards. After Oswald was impersonated, an internal investigation began within the CIA. That investigation decided to maintain Tilton's original approach - do not reveal Oswald's full history to other members of the Agency. The best way to do that was to eliminate any reference of his visits to the Cuban consulate.
By early October, the 201 biographical file was stripped of almost all of its documents. The purpose of this stripping was to make sure that the file “lied” to Bustos, who read it outside of CI-SIG and used it to prepare the twin October 10 memos. The stripping ensured compartmentalization, so that Bustos and others with no need-to-know did not know about Egerter’s molehunt. Although the CIA’s pioneering computer system would inform an inquirer that documents were missing from the file, there was no way of knowing their contents until the documents were in one’s hands.
Charlotte Bustos at the Mexico desk at Headquarters had access to the 201 file. A note from the CIA’s document file expert Paul Hartman reveals that at the time of the assassination there were only five documents physically located in the 201 file.[ 29 ]
Two were State Department documents, one was a Navy document, and the other two were FBI documents, all of them dating back to Oswald’s time in the Soviet Union.[ 30 ] The other documents were missing from the file when it was reviewed in February 1964. A March 1964 memo to the Warren Commission from chief Richard Helms restored the missing documents to the 201 file.
Thirty-seven of the forty-two documents that made up Oswald’s 201 file in October 1963 had been removed and placed into a separate file supposedly held by Bustos before the assassination. Bustos claimed that she wasn’t even sure what file she was given, despite her reputation of having an excellent memory. CIA’s Paul Hartman, formidable in his knowledge on how to bird-dog documents, claimed that these 37 documents were removed because they dealt with “sensitive matters such as wiretaps and surveillance”.[ 31 ] You can bet that Bustos had the 201 file with five documents left in it.
Most of these documents had nothing to do with wiretaps and surveillance – the only thing sensitive about them was that they would reveal Oswald’s biography, which was the actual state secret. Virtually none of the 37 documents dealt with wiretaps and surveillance. Take a look at this chart, which illustrates that most of the documents were restored to the file after the assassination.
Paul Hartman, a well-respected document analyst for the Agency, put great emphasis on a red herring. Hartman insisted that the computer list of the documents in Oswald’s 201 file was always available during this time period. Hartman ignored that most of the documents in the 201 file were unavailable for reviewers such as Bustos, who had to rely on information given to her by Egerter when composing her letters.
Jeff Morley recounts a footrace between Egerter and Bustos to retrieve the 201 file after CIA HQ learned that JFK had been shot.[ 32 ] Egerter won the footrace, because she had the full file. Bustos did not.
The 201 file was stripped to hide not just Oswald’s pro-Cuban background, but almost everything about Oswald’s biography. In other words, Oswald would come across to Bustos as pretty much of a “nobody”, a schlep of so little consequence that no one knew or cared if he had even returned to the United States after the last date in the file, May 1962.[ 33 ]
Now, armed with a stripped 201 file, doctored to lie to the reviewer, the coast was clear to let Charlotte Bustos rely on this file as she put her name on the twin 10/10 memos.
Although Bustos may have realized that there was some contradictory information in the two memos, she probably didn’t suspect a molehunt since she was directly relying on the remnants of the 201 file and whatever she was told by the coordinating officers Ann Egerter and Stephan Roll, chief Soviet analyst and Bill Bright’s ex-boss.[ 34 ] It was not known within the CIA that CI/SIG’s role was to protect CIA’s internal security, much less to conduct internal molehunts. As an inspector general wrote in a history of CI/SIG during this era, “it would be very seriously damaging to the efforts of the CI Staff if it ever became known that it was engaged in any activities involving CIA employees.”
Although Roll didn’t have access to Egerter’s files, Bustos thought that Roll’s CI experience was very helpful in “assessing... (whether this was) a serious matter or not”.
Bustos is known as the author of the twin October 10 memos, but there was no reason for her to know that they were filled with marked cards. She knew simply that she was relying on information not in the file, provided to her from Egerter.
Bustos’ boss John Whitten - and his boss William Hood – probably knew no more than Bustos. All three of them were with the Western Hemisphere division, who had no need to know about the molehunt. Tom Karamessines, the aide to covert action chief Richard Helms, may or may not have been tipped off about the gambit. The fewer people that knew, the better the chances were that they would actually capture the mole.
Angleton’s aide Ann Egerter had an elaborate role. She was the one who had originally created Oswald’s 201 file in December 1960, while he was still in the Soviet Union. When the files were originally in her hands, she dubbed him “Lee Henry Oswald” and his new wife with the maiden name of “Pusakova” rather than “Prusakova”. These “marked cards” for Lee and Marina were used again in the twin Oct 10 memos. Warren Commission attorney David Belin saw these repeated anomalies in the Headquarters files, but mistakenly dismissed them as not significant. Belin might have changed his mind if he had known about the role of CI/SIG and its prime directive to smoke out spies trying to penetrate the CIA.
Egerter knew his real name was Lee Harvey Oswald. She had been reading about him for years as “Lee Harvey Oswald” in monitoring the US-USSR mail-opening program known as HTLINGUAL. Index cards for the HTLINGUAL program display “Lee Harvey Oswald” and Egerter’s name together.
Egerter designed the twin 10/10 memos to initiate a clash between the higher and lower echelon of the agencies
The twin Oct 10 memos were cleverly crafted. One went to the national headquarters of the FBI, State, and Navy, and contained a description of “Lee Henry Oswald” as “6 feet tall, athletic build, age 35”, a deliberate lie. This description was similar to a file card description of Yuri Moskalev, who CIA officers believed was probably the "Mystery Man" in the October 1 photo. The photo was not provided but was available if needed. It also claimed that this information was being shared “with your representatives in Mexico City”. But that was not true, either.
The second memo went directly to the Mexico City station itself, with a different description of “Lee Henry Oswald” as “5 foot 10, 165 pounds” that matched the Robert Wesbster-like description of Oswald used by Egerter and the FBI for molehunting purposes during Oswald’s days in the Soviet Union. (A CIA note during the seventies confirms that the Agency knew there was confusion in identifying the two men, although I haven't yet found the full memo itself.)
Unlike the first memo, the second memo said that the last information on Oswald was when he was in the Soviet Union during May 1962, where he had “matured”. And where the first memo provided the Mystery Man description to the headquarters of the FBI, State and Navy, the second memo instructed the station to share the Robert Webster-like description with the local Mexico City offices of these same agencies!
A very clever aspect of all this was that the memo to Mexico City said that their latest info on Oswald was from May 1962, but to hold this information back from the FBI and other agencies. Bustos testified that the inaccurate information originated from the State Department, which brought into play the rule of "don't disseminate information obtained from another agency to any third party." Otherwise, the whole game would have been blown, as FBI agents and others had provided post-May 1962 information about Oswald to the CIA.
Also, by asking the Mexico City station to withhold this information, Headquarters was effectively preventing the Mexico City station from obtaining the knowledge that the FBI, Navy, and State had responsibility over Oswald’s case and would have recent information about Oswald’s life back in the United States.
DIR 74673 to State/FBI/Navy (excerpts).
This cable passes on the false "Mystery Man"
description of Oswald, along with orders to
disseminate this description to the local offices
of these agencies in Mexico City.
DIR 74830 to Mexico City Station (excerpts).
This memo passes on the false Robert
Webster-like description of Oswald, along
with orders to disseminate this description to the
Headquarters of the same agencies referenced
in the previous memo.
The hope was that one of the marked cards would pop up in the wrong hands in the midst of this Egerter-created clash between the agencies’ headquarters and the local agencies’ offices. When Egerter was questioned by Congress about these two different descriptions, she said that she couldn’t explain why it happened.
When Angleton’s CI liaison Jane Roman was shown these two memos many years later, her audiotaped response was that this was “indicative of a keen interest in Oswald (within the Agency), held very closely on the need to know basis”. Even when she wrote a letter complaining about how her interview was interpreted by the media, she admitted that “naturally, Oswald was the subject of great interest to both the CIA and the FBI even before the assassination, CIA would have explored every available asset abroad to establish his motives and activities”.[ 35 ] Think about it for a moment. How could the Mexico City station effectively discover what Oswald was up to, when the station was not even informed by its colleagues that Oswald had returned to the United States in 1962?
To make matters worse, nothing in the record shows that CIA made any attempt to get its assets close to key people such as Duran, Azcue and Kostikov - or its informants LITAMIL-3, LITAMIL-7 and LITAMIL-9 - to find out anything about Oswald before the assassination, even though the only hard evidence that they had about the visits to the Cuban consulate on the 27th and the supposed visit on the 28th were based on the wiretaps. Similarly, even eight months after the assassination, the Mexico City station wasn’t sure who Oswald had spoken to inside the Soviet consulate.
The Mexico City station did not focus on learning more about Oswald’s background. Their actions are consistent with a security breach – who impersonated him? Both the CIA and the FBI were nervous about Oswald in the weeks that followed. Starting on October 7, the CIA polygraphed many of its most trusted agents in Mexico City and throughout Mexico - see my article on this subject – a security measure that is strongly discouraged unless security has been compromised, because the recipients of the polygraph are usually deeply alienated as a result.
Meanwhile, the FBI fanned out among its informants and even subinformants in Mexico – none of them had heard of Lee Oswald. FBI agent Milton Kaack in New Orleans even went to the board of health and unearthed Oswald’s birth records, apparently to assure himself of the identity of the man he was chasing.
Many people knew how to get Angleton fired up for a molehunt
As the efforts of the CIA and FBI in Mexico were unsuccessful, this provides further evidence that the source of the calls was probably in Miami. The twin 10/10 memos, like Goodpasture’s memo, excluded the Cuba division from the list of recipients. The Miami station officers were basically cut out of the loop.
If JMWAVE chief Shackley was filled in on the molehunt by David Phillips in early October, this meant that Shackley’s #2 man David Morales probably knew about the molehunt too. Morales’ background provides a prime example of how treacherous this situation was. Morales and Mafia man John Roselli were Harvey’s two trusted aides in his efforts within the ZRRIFLE assassination program to kill Castro. As soon as he became the ZRRIFLE assassination chief in November 1961, Harvey summoned Morales from Mexico City to work with him in the Langley basement and in Miami.[ 36 ]
Morales is among the best candidates as the initiator of the “Oswald” phone calls, with the intention of goading Angleton into starting a molehunt. Morales had a far better idea how the CIA would respond to these phone calls than any Soviet or Cuban spy ever would.
Larry Hancock and other authors recount how Morales, Roselli, and their courier John Martino made comments in the years after the assassination indicating that they played an active role in the killing of JFK. Morales set up and led the counterintelligence network of Cuban exiles in the Caribbean known as the “AMOTs” or Operation 40. During and even after the Bay of Pigs, Morales’ AMOTs were designed to become the chiefs of intelligence in Cuba after the overthrow of Castro. Morales’ paramilitary buddy Tony Sforza knew that Azcue and Duran were the ones greeting the public at the Cuban consulate.
Morales knew Angleton as a rival in the world of counterintelligence. Angleton’s penchant for molehunts was no secret at the Agency. Morales and other officers didn’t even need a tip from Shackley to know that a phony call from Oswald would trigger a molehunt by Angleton. Angleton and his closest colleagues were convinced by the Soviet defector Anatoly Golitsyn that the Sino-Soviet split was a fake, a story that caused a severe division within the Agency itself. Angleton drove so many officers out of the CIA by the time of his firing in 1974 that Congress was forced to pass a “Mole Relief Act” to compensate the unjustly fired officers.
Morales had more time under his belt in the military than Angleton. While Angleton had time under fire when serving as a CI officer in World War II, Morales was in the Army between 1946-1951, and was the paramilitary chief of the JMWAVE Cuban base in Miami, serving under the pseudonym of Stanley Zamka. Angleton suffered from some post-traumatic stress, but Morales was eaten up by bitterness about the Bay of Pigs.
Morales and his boss Ted Shackley were very closely bonded during their tenure. As mentioned earlier, they worked together closely on the Comando Mambises raids that kept the Kennedys and FitzGerald out of the loop. A stunning memo has emerged, written by a member of HQ’s special research security staff. Dated October 15, it discusses Anita Potocki’s report that the “top echelon” of the Special Affairs Staff (the Cuba division at Langley) wanted Shackley out because he was selected by Bill Harvey, and that “certain individuals are setting a trap to catch Shackley”.
What we see here is an internal struggle within the Cuba division between pro-Harvey and anti-Harvey factions. Anita Potocki was a Bill Harvey partisan, and Shackley was always a Harvey man, which was probably why Potocki was so indiscreet that the security staff had to write a memo. Given that even her fellow partisan Neill Prew was “scared” of JMWAVE, the Potocki report is a sign that things in Miami were out of control. Did FitzGerald want Shackley out because of Shackley’s disagreement with his plan to use the insecure AMTRUNK and Rolando Cubela as a way to kill Castro, or was it because the Miami station was under suspicion for wrongdoing? Was the “trap” a reference to the molehunt?
Potocki’s note also mentions that Shackley knew about HTLINGUAL, Angleton’s letter-reading project. This shows that the Miami station JMWAVE had access to Oswald’s letters from the USSR. FitzGerald was no fan of Angleton, but I am unaware of any problem that Shackley or Morales had with the angler man.
Like many of the haters of Castro in Miami, Morales was a very dangerous man. Like Harvey, Morales hated the Kennedys. Other CIA men in the Cuba division felt the same way. Sam Halpern, the executive officer for the Cuba division at Langley during the tenure of both Harvey and FitzGerald, hated the Kennedy approach of “busy-ness” towards Cuba. Halpern told Washington Post reporter Jefferson Morley, “I’ll tell you one thing, I didn’t know that word busy-ness. It was never mentioned by Des [FitzGerald] when he came back from that meeting, and it was a good thing he didn't because you might have had a Seven Days in May at that point.”[ 37 ]
The twin October 10 memos meant that the CIA and FBI could now be blackmailed
In my mind, the twin October 10 memos are the most important documents that we have. Keep in mind that the CIA officers who created them were focused on capturing whoever had impersonated Oswald and Duran. However, the creation of these twin memos was an ideal blackmail device. This was a golden opportunity for someone like David Morales, who was a former CI chief himself. There was now a strong and robust paper trail between CIA HQ and the Mexico City station, filled with inaccuracies and half-truths about Lee Oswald.
I have set forth what I believe is the reasonable explanation for the creation of these twin October 10 memos, and welcome debate on the subject. Any alternative explanation, however, is useless if it fails to thoroughly address the various aspects of these memos that we have just reviewed. After analyzing the contents of these memos, I do think that what has been discussed here is the simplest and most straightforward explanation.
Right before the 10/10 memos were created, the alarm that Oswald was a security risk was turned off
Meanwhile, the very men who dreamed up the notion of luring Oswald to Mexico City received one of the 10/10 memos. Even though the 10/10 memos were destined only for Soviet desks, the FBI copy was forwarded to the Nationalities Intelligence division which focused on Cuban affairs - and then directly into the hands of FBI supervisor Lambert Anderson. The words “Nat Int”, “Anderson”, and “Wannall” (Anderson’s boss) can be seen on the FBI’s copy of the memo. Ordinarily, there was no reason to forward this memo to Nationalities Intelligence - they did not work the Soviet beat. But, as we have seen from the beginning, Lambert Anderson was one of the two men at FBI headquarters who was specifically charged with handling the Oswald file and who had run the joint agency anti-FPCC operation. The other was FBI counterintelligence supervisor Marvin Gheesling, who had placed Oswald on the security watch list four years earlier when he went to the Soviet Union.
The day before the 10/10 twin memos were created, Gheesling took Oswald off the security watch list after talking with Lambert Anderson. Both Gheesling and Anderson had signed off on a watch list document placed in Oswald’s file on August 13 after Oswald was arrested in New Orleans for breach of the peace while leafleting for the FPCC. Gheesling wrote that once he learned that Oswald was arrested, he told Anderson that Oswald should be taken off the security watch list because he had inadvertently forgot to remove his name after Oswald’s return from the Soviet Union.[ 38 ] Anderson confirmed that someone had told him that the security flash had been removed because it was no longer necessary once Oswald had returned to the United States.
One immediate problem with both of their stories is that their boss Bill Branigan wrote on 11/22/63 that the very reason Oswald was put on the watch list was to ensure that “any subsequent arrest in the U.S. was brought to our attention”. So why take him off the list after he was arrested?
An even more intriguing problem, with Gheesling’s story in particular, is that he wrote that he removed Oswald’s name from the security watch list on October 9 right after he learned about Oswald’s arrest. Gheesling’s explanation flies in the face of the aforementioned watch list document showing that both Gheesling and Anderson knew about Oswald’s arrest around August 13. Gheesling’s name and initials “wmg” are also on other memos discussing Oswald and his arrest dated August 21 and August 23.
The probable solution is that Anderson got wind of a tip. On October 8 Anderson received a Sept. 24 report of Oswald’s arrest, which revealed Oswald’s request to speak with an FBI agent and share quite a bit of information while in jail.[ 39 ] My conclusion is that on the 9th the two men came to some kind of mutual understanding that Oswald was helpful to the FBI, and saw no reason to keep him on the security watch list. “Anderson” of “Nat. Int.” is written on the watch list file, underneath the date of October 10. As a result, no alarms went off at the FBI when the 10/8/63 memo about Oswald being in Mexico City and trying to contact Kostikov arrived on the 10th. Any alarm that might have sounded about Oswald being a security risk appears to have been deliberately turned off by Gheesling and Anderson.
The intriguing question is whether Gheesling and Anderson took Oswald off the security watch list based solely on the report about Oswald's cooperation with the FBI, or whether they had also been tipped off that a molehunt was about to begin with Oswald's file. The timing would suggest that both factors were in play.
If the officers in the Cuban division had received a copy of either one of the twin 10/10 memos, they would now know that the Cuban angle on the Oswald story had been methodically erased from the paper trail between CIA HQ and Mexico City. That would have been a key tipoff that an investigation had begun.
Although none of the officers in the CIA’s Cuban division got a copy of either of the 10/10 memos, it does appear that Anderson got a copy of one of them. Anderson could have easily told Tilton. If that happened, then the CIA’s Cuban division officers could have learned about the 10/10 memo from Tilton. These officers had a number of ways to obtain this confirmation, but the Tilton route would have been one of the simplest. The only problem with this aspect is that it seems unlikely that Tilton would be willing to be a conduit to any organizers of a plan to kill the President, given that his role in the anti-FPCC operation was a matter of record within the Agency.
There is also no sign that anyone at the CIA or the FBI was seriously concerned that Soviet consul Valeriy Kostikov was part of the KGB’s “assassination bureau” known as Department 13 prior to the assassination, as was claimed by Angleton’s colleague Golitsyn and by the Soviet Union section right after the assassination. This was because Angleton had told the FBI as recently as June 1963 that the CIA had no information that Kostikov had anything to do with Department 13. Both the FBI and CIA had been tracking Kostikov's double agent (FBI code name TUMBLEWEED; CIA code name AEBURBLE) for months, and the FBI relied on Angelton's reassurance that there was no evidence that Kostikov was a member of Department 13. If there was any genuine concern, CIA counterintelligence would have kept Kostikov firmly in their sights after Mexico City mentioned Oswald’s call to Kostikov on October 8.
Now that the paper trail was created and the molehunt was under way, the Sept/Oct callers were in position to spring the trap. Look at the situation.
- 1. Goodpasture at the Mexico City station had made up a fake story that a probable KGB agent – the “Mystery Man” - was actually Lee Oswald.
- 2. CIA HQ then sent out a memo to the FBI and other security agencies providing Goodpasture’s false and misleading description of Oswald as “6 foot, athletically built, 35 years old”, with the insinuation that there was no longer any reason for Oswald to be considered as security risk because he had “matured”.
- 3. Simultaneously, CIA HQ sent out a second memo to its Mexico City station providing a second subtle but false and misleading description of Oswald as “5 foot 10, 165 pounds”. If Oswald was in the middle of an assassination, both the CIA and the FBI would be disgraced if the extent of their prior knowledge of Oswald was discovered.
The anonymous report of a shooter who was 5 foot 10 and 165 pounds
On 11/22/63, at 12:30 pm Central Time, President Kennedy was fatally struck by rifle fire to the head. At 12:43 pm, a sighting was alleged by a “white man” to Inspector Herbert Sawyer, and it immediately went out over the police radio. The description was similar to the “Robert Webster description” in the 10/10 memo sent to the Mexico City station: A man who was “5 foot 10 and 165 pounds” was seen firing from the Texas School Book Depository.
The witness had no description of his clothing, which makes no sense. When a witness sees a man firing prone from a window ledge at waist height, the most important details would be provided from his clothing. How could anyone estimate the shooter’s height or weight, when his entire body was not even visible?
Sawyer turned the witness over to an unknown sheriff’s deputy on the scene. Neither the supposed witness or the deputy were ever heard from again. A man named Howard Brennan claimed to be the witness, but even J. Edgar Hoover agreed that Brennan was not the man and the witness remained unidentified. Brennan did not remember the details recalled by Sawyer’s witness. We’ll come back to this story in greater detail in the next chapter.
This extraordinary sighting was a signal to the hierarchy of the CIA and the FBI. How were they going to explain the paper trail with the phony descriptions of Oswald? Or why Oswald’s hunt for visas was hidden from the record? Or Oswald’s background with the communist-friendly FPCC? Or Oswald’s multiple visits to the Cuban consulate?
If any of the information above had been revealed to the public in the aftermath of the Kennedy assassination, heads were going to roll. Officers would be fired, families would be disgraced, even the agencies themselves might be dismantled. The domestic upheaval in the United States would be enormous, even unprecedented. Would there be war against Cuba? Or the Soviet Union? Or would conflict erupt within the United States itself, aimed at those whose actions had resulted in the death of a popular President? One thing I just can't find is anyone at the CIA or FBI standing up and saying, "Gosh, that 5 foot 10, 165 pound description for the shooter that came over the police radio in the first minutes after the shooting is the exact same description we used for Oswald for the last three years". It had to be covered up.
Angleton’s team did not provide both of the twin 10/10 memos to either J. Edgar Hoover or the Warren Commission, which would have revealed the two descriptions of Oswald and his background to different individuals in different agencies. Goodpasture hid their dual existence in an in-house chronology she prepared for her own boss during the late sixties. Intelligence writer David Wise complained in 1968 that the Warren Commission only got one of these documents in paraphrased form – and now we can see why. The CIA insisted on only providing paraphrased copies, with the actual documents not released to the public for many years.
The House Select Committee on Assassinations received a full version of one memo and a partially-redacted version of the second memo in the late 70s. A comparison of the two revealed the two Oswald descriptions, but not the deceptive manner that these two descriptions were disseminated among the headquarters and the field offices of these agencies which reveals the existence of the molehunt. The twin 10/10 memos, the rest of the paper trail of the molehunt, the Oswald tapes, and the impersonation of Oswald had to be buried as deeply as possible. The CIA and the FBI had been successfully blackmailed. This is not an intricate scenario. All the organizers needed was some dirt. They had plenty of it.
1 The Delimitations Agreement treated ex-Marines such as Oswald as a Navy and FBI case and of potential interest to the State Department as well: CIA draft memorandum for the record, author unknown, 11/27/76, p. 8, HSCA Segregated CIA Collection, Box 35/NARA Record Number: 1993.08.12.14:43:41:870060.
See the Delimitations Agreement, p. 1, Reel 48 – Folder S –Delimitations Agreement, NARA Record Number: 1994.03.08.08:54:41:370005.
My reading is that the FBI and Navy had no responsibility for him while he was overseas. Oswald’s position as an ex-Marine was as “inactive reserve” or as a “civilian”, not “active” or “retired”, which would have made him the Navy’s responsibility. While abroad, Oswald was the responsibility of the CIA and the State Department. After Oswald’s return, he was the FBI’s primary responsibility under the Delimitations Agreement. Id., p. 2.
Oswald was on “inactive reserve” when he entered the USSR: SA John Quigley report on Oswald, 8/15/63, p. 5, Warren Commission Hearings, Volume 17, Exhibit 826.
Jim Angleton’s colleague Ray Rocca was very confident about this aspect of the case at deposition. “Under the Delimitations Agreement, he was strictly the Navy’s baby, and the FBI’s baby, and that is it.” Deposition of Ray Rocca, 7/17/78, p. 246.
Pursuant to this analysis, the FBI would be the designated agency to conduct the debriefing of Oswald, and the evidence indicates that that is what John Fain did upon Oswald’s return. There is a “12-20-61” note on Oswald’s FBI file saying, “Subject should be interviewed upon return to U.S.” FBI Oswald Headquarters File (105-82555)/FBI 105-82555 Oswald File, Section 1, p. 54.
2 A symbol of the American way, our liberal concession is the existence in our midst of a minority group whose influence and membership is very limited and whose dangerous tendencies are sufficiently controlled by special government agents: Warren Commission Hearings, Exhibit 102, Vol. 16, pp. 441-442 - handwritten notes for a late August 1963 presentation by Lee Harvey Oswald at the Jesuit seminary attended by his cousin Eugene Murret. These notes were later transcribed into printed text by the Warren Commission.
3 Starting on September 16, John Tilton of the CIA’s Cuban operations in Miami worked with Anderson to put together a joint agency operation designed to “plant deceptive information which might embarrass the (FPCC) in areas where it does have some support”: Memo from Sam Papich to D. Brennan re FPCC, 9/18/63, DDP (Deputy Director for Plans) Files/ NARA Record Number: 104-10310-10151.
4 On September 16, FBI records indicate that Oswald’s security watch file was reviewed, with Anderson’s name written alongside: Security watch file for Oswald, 9/16/63, FBI 105-82555 Oswald HQ File, Section 1.
5 The joint agency operation, in turn, was a follow-up from an initial joint operation based in New York City two months earlier, when Harvey aide Anita Potocki and Lou de Santi worked with the FBI to get New York FPCC staffer (and FBI agent) Victor Vicente into Havana, where he met with Castro and Che Guevara: Victor Vicente’s name has been released, as revealed by David Kaiser, The Road to Dallas, p. 296.
Also see Memorandum for the Record, Lou De Santi, 7/10/63, p. 2, NARA Record Number: 104-10308-10163; also see the LA Division’s notes of this operation, prepared in the late 1970s, attached to this same document.
6 John Newman suggests that the Tilton/Anderson anti-FPCC operation was “CI/OPS-inspired”: John Newman, Oswald and the CIA, (2008 edition) p. 625.
7 Richard Cotter at the FBI, a Cuban specialist, knew about the Tilton/Anderson operation: Memo from Lambert Anderson to Special Agent in Charge, New York, 9/26/63, DDP (Deputy Director for Plans) Files/NARA Record Number: 104-10310-10152. See the note on the file “W (probably Ray Wannall, head of Nationalities Intelligence) for RDC (Richard D. Cotter)”.
8 There is an unconfirmed story about Castro reporting that he heard that Oswald made a threat to kill the President at the Cuban embassy: This story is poorly verified – although the documents are buried deep in the Warren Commission files, the recent book by Philip Shenon states that key staff members such as David Slawson and the rest of the surviving staff were wholly unaware of the story. If the story was true, why wasn’t it properly investigated? Supporting evidence would provide powerful support for the lone gunman theory and quell much of the argument about Oswald’s motives.
Like the Duran and Tarasoff stories discussed herein, key principals were not re-questioned, namely FBI informant Jack Childs/SOLO and CPUSA member Beatrice Johnson. Fidel Castro, Eusebio Azcue and Silvia Duran were questioned – all of them denied knowing anything about such a story. Because Childs and Johnson were not sought out and rigorously questioned, my best opinion is that this incident as stated never happened.
Nonetheless, this incident should be investigated further. If it took place, it’s worth noting that the second-hand quote of Castro records him as surprised that it allegedly occurred in the embassy and not the consulate; that, in turn, raises perennial question of whether the visitor was Oswald or an impersonator. Also, the facts about the Oswald-Azcue confrontation may have been “mangled” by the time the story got to Castro.
If Jack Childs/SOLO was telling the truth...a big if...about Fidel being told after 11/22 that Oswald came into the Cuban embassy and on his way out shouted, "I'm going to kill Kennedy", a few things would have greater clarity. For starters, the Oswald character would have been told "you're in the wrong place - go to the consulate".
Castro said that when Oswald "stalked in and walked in and ran out that it itself was a suspicious movement, because nobody comes to an Embassy for a visa (they go to a Consulate)." See Jim Hosty's Assignment: Oswald, p. 277, or to the second document below.
There's support from a surprising quarter. Teresa Proenza, the cultural attache, also reported being approached by Oswald in the embassy, and passed him on to someone higher in rank - that certainly wasn't Duran, who was lower in rank and worked in the consulate.
Here's the very first document, a 6/11/64 26-page SOLO report that is constantly referenced...http://vault.fbi.gov...part-60-of/view (p. 86 is the page about LHO, 19 of 26) written by ACB of the NY field office to the Director, starting at page 68.
"(Castro) said Oswald was involved. Our people in Mexico gave us the details in a full report of how he acted when he came to Mexico to their embassy. He said first of all nobody goes that way for a visa. Second, it cost money to go that distance. He stormed into the embassy, demanded the visa and when it was refused to him headed out saying I'm going to kill Kennedy for this.
Now here's the second document, on the next day, 6/12/64. This follow-up is from JDO at the NY field office to the Director, where Childs is quizzed at great length about anything else he might know about Oswald in Mexico City. Hosty has a copy of it in his book at 276-278, the FBI website has it at http://vault.fbi.gov...rt-59-of-1/view (pp 58-59) This document states that the man called Oswald visited the Cuban Embassy - not the Consulate.
"I was told this by my people in the Embassy - exactly how he (OSWALD) stalked in and walked in and ran out. That in itself was a suspicious movement, because nobody comes to an Embassy for a visa (they go to a Consulate.)"
"The informant stated that the implication was that Oswald came running in like a "mad man" demanding a visa and immediately the people in the Embassy suspected that something wrong - why go to the Soviet Union through Cuba?"
"...(Oswald) yelled on his way out 'I'm going to kill that bastard. I'm going to kill Kennedy'."
"(Jack Childs) was of the opinion that the Cuban Embassy people must have told Oswald something to the effect that they were sorry that they did not let Americans into Cuba because the US government stopped Cuba from letting them in and that is when Oswald shouted out the statement about killing Kennedy."
The report states that Beatrice Johnson (the CPUSA liaison to the Cuban Communist Party) and Fidel's physician and aide Rene Vallejo were with Castro and Childs in the conversation. According to Silvia Duran - although she never referred to her by name - Beatrice Johnson was someone Oswald should have contacted if he was serious about wanting to go to Cuba. AS Beatrice Johnson was the CPUSA liaison to the Cuban Communist Party, working with those two parties were the way Silvia told LHO that most people from the USA use to go to Cuba.
Here's the third document, a memo from Baumgartner to Sullivan on 6/12/64. Note how the story wobbles: "Castro reportedly stated, 'our people gave us the details in a full report of how he (Oswald) acted when he came to Mexico to their embassy (uncertain whether he means Cuban or Russian embassy)."
The fourth document, Hoover's famous memo to Rankin on 6/17/64, scrubs away
1) any reference to the Cuban consulate, or
2)"my people" at the Embassy,
3) the man called Oswald running in "like a mad man", or
4) the people in the embassy suspecting something was wrong, or
5) the man calling JFK a "bastard".
In short, it erases Fidel's astonishment that Oswald went to the embassy instead of the consulate.
The FBI and CIA chiefs weren't about to let J. Lee Rankin, counsel for the Warren Commission know all that. A question I have is whether Rankin or any other Warren staffers ever actually saw this memo?
If this event occurred, it looks like this was an entirely separate incident than the three incidents that Duran had with "Oswald" at the consulate. This would be a fourth incident, with "Oswald" at the Cuban Embassy.
9 Any such deal may have included a visit to Valeriy Kostikov at the Soviet consulate, who had joined Khrushchev’s entourage as a diplomat during his visit to the US in 1959: Memo from American Embassy, Moscow to Secretary of State, 8/31/59, Russ Holmes Work File/NARA Record Number: 104-10412-10000.
Khrushchev and his entourage arrived in the United States on September 15, and left on the 27th. Oswald left the USA on September 18. History Channel, “This Day in History”, September 27, 1959.
10 On the day of Oswald’s arrival in Mexico City, there was a 9/27/63 memo about Kostikov that had a REDCAP heading: Memo from Win Scott, to Chief, WH Division, 9/27/63, HSCA Segregated CIA Collection (microfilm - reel 9: Hernandez - Loganov)/NARA Record Number: 104-10173-10310.
11 Peter Dale Scott wrote a stinging article exposing how Duran’s statements to the Mexican police after the assassination were routinely mis-translated: See Peter Dale Scott, Deep Politics II, “The DFS, Silvia Duran, and the CIA-Mafia Connection: Did Staff D Feed the Kostikov Lie to the CIA?” p. 117.
12 A review of these translations reveals that they differ in many other striking ways: Peter Dale Scott, Deep Politics II, pp. 120-130.
13 We even see that the CIA told the Warren Commission that “we deduce” that Oswald visited the Cuban consulate on September 28, but added “we cannot be certain of this conclusion”: Memo from Deputy Director of Plans Richard Helms to Warren Commission counsel J. Lee Rankin, 2/19/64, p. 2, NARA Record Number: 1993.08.04.19:02:07:310033. I was drawn to this observation by John Newman, Oswald and the CIA, p. 408.
14 Duran, one of the most important witnesses in any JFK assassination investigation, was never questioned by Americans until her interview with Ron Kessler of the Washington Post in 1976: Washington Post, November 26, 1976, A7; 3 AH 22 (1978).
On covert action, see Deposition of David Phillips, 4/25/78, p. 59, NARA Record Number: 180-10110-10016. On Cuban operations, see Memorandum of John Tilton to Mexico City station, 10/4/63, NARA Record Number: 104-10086-10003.
David Phillips replaced Howard Hunt as the head of covert action in Mexico in 1961. A CIA memo in the early seventies states that Hunt’s security file was mistaken in stating that he was Chief of Station or Chief of Mission during that era, as he was actually chief of covert action. As near as I can determine it, Hunt was the chief of station in the early fifties, and then was assigned to Mexico City as a covert action chief for the Bay of Pigs operation in 1960-1961. Phillips became the chief of covert action in late 1961. I have seen no indication that Hunt was in Mexico City in September 1963, other than Tad Szulc’s useful biography on Hunt, which I think was in error regarding its statement that Hunt was the “acting station chief” in September 1963. See Szulc, Compulsive Spy, pp. 96-99.
Hunt then picked up this story and made the claim himself in Cigar Aficionado, December 2000. I have seen no documents to support Hunt’s claim. The record for 1963 shows that Howard Hunt was the chief of the Research and Publications Branch of the covert action wing of the Domestic Operations Division (DOD) in Washington, D.C.. Hunt’s immediate boss was Stanley Gaines, who was either Chief of Operations or Executive Director. Domestic Operations was a new section of the Agency headed by Tracy Barnes and set up by Richard Helms to take care of the proprietaries and other components of the CIA’s disparate enterprises. The covers had put CIA agents in various different lines of work such as journalism, academia, mass media, business, and the military. Domestic Operations was always keeping their eyes open for foreigners in the United States that could be recruited to be agents abroad. Hunt admitted that his publications had the effect of propaganda and influenced the American reading public.
17 Phillips’ next stop was to JMWAVE, the CIA’s Cuba operations base in Miami: DIR 73214 of 4 Oct 63: “Mr. David Phillips, newly appointed Chief PBRUMEN [Cuba] Ops in MEXI will arrive 7 October EAL FL 655 for two days consultations WAVE”. NARA #104-10086-10003. JMWAVE was the SAS forward operating base in Miami for tactical operations on Cuba.
18 On October 1, Bill Bright’s defection target Bakulin – who was handling the double agents LAROB and LINEB-1 for the Soviets, as seen in Chapter 3 - was seen talking to Yatskov outside the Soviet Embassy: Mary Ferrell notes on HSCA Reel 49, Box 27, Folder C.
19 This list of contacts makes it pretty clear that the CIA was convinced by October 1 that “Y talked to O” on September 28: List of Records and Files on Suspect RIS Officers, Russ Holmes Work File/NARA Record Number: 104-10414-10342.
20 After the meeting, Bakulin was put on continuous physical surveillance by the CIA’s Mexico City station unit known as LIEMBRACE: Memo from Mexico City to Director, 10/9/63, NARA Record Number: 104-10092-10338.
21 The memo also said that the FBI leadership “instructed its Mexi rep to discuss with you pertinent details of such Russian CE ops (note: counter-espionage operations) as LAROB case”: Memo from Director to Mexico City, circa 10/2/63, DIR 73144 reads in total – except for the blurred sections: "Re coordination of FBI (oper?)ations in MEXI, -__ in liaison with ODENVY (note: FBI) is still delicate matter which ___ AMDEAD at HDQS 0-- directives foresee that certain types of operations may be coordinated at HDQS rather than in the field. on the whole our relations with FBI on world-wide and PBPRIME and CE (note: US and counter-espionage) matters are extremely productive and still improving and we do not wish at present time to raise new issues in Mexico...FBI has agreed and has instructed its MEXI rep to discuss with you pertinent details of such Russian CE ops as LAROB case."
22 On October 5, the Mexico City station reported that “HQs was deferring discussion of the high level of penetration, but would take it up after hearing results of closer liaison between (the Mexico City station and the FBI) in Mexico City.": Memo from Mexico City station to Director, 10/5/63, NARA Record Number: 104-10092-10297.
23 On October 7, twenty sets of reports about double agent LAROB were sent from the FBI to the Mexico City station and Headquarters: Memo from Win Scott to Western Hemisphere chief J. C. King. James Angleton and the Chief of the Soviet Union division David Murphy also received copies. 10/11/63, NARA Record Number: 104-10215-10258.
24 Oswald’s biographical file (known as his “201 file”) would be stripped of any reference to his pro-Cuban activities, as well as any reference to any attempt to obtain a visa. These documents were removed from the 201 file and placed inside Oswald’s FPCC 100-300-011 file tightly held by CI-SIG:
There is an HSCA log that shows all the 201 documents that went into the FPCC 100-300-011 file. HSCA log, Reel 48, Folder W, NARA Record Number: 1994.03.08.12:00:04:120005.
25 Angleton claimed to know things about the Mexico City story that are unsupported in the record: Deposition of James Angleton, 6/19/75, pp. 52, 53, 60. Church Committee Boxed Files/NARA Record Number: 157-10014-10005.
Castro, Che Guevera and their colleagues were arrested in Mexico City on 6/20/56. The arrests were conducted by the same man who later interrogated Sylvia Duran, Fernando Barrios Gutierrez (LITEMPO-4). See the New York Times obituary for Fernando Barrios Gutierrez, 11/1/00.
Castro was facing charges that he had Communist ties, and Havana demanded his extradition for more than a month before he and his men were finally freed. Tad Szulc, Fidel, pp. 360-364.
In this memo, there is a deletion. Is this the allegation of Oswald being arrested in Mexico City while carrying a picture of Leonov?
It seems that Angleton got his information from Byetkov in 1967, but not certain.
Angleton describes Win Scott as a CI man.
Mexico City? Angleton says file filled w/"garbage": "We speculated all the time as to whether it was foreign, domestic, or whether there was a double mission or whether he had gone sour on them, or that General Walker, all that was speculated..."
Angleton thought the CIA Cuban operations were penetrated, and that's why the Bay of Pigs failed.
26 Mexico City’s TARBRUSH program tried on at least three separate occasions to make Leonov look bad: Nikolai Leonov was Third Secretary and assistant cultural officer at the Mexico City station between 61-64. When Leonov got a couple months off in the spring of 63, he served as Castro's interpreter in the USSR. Goodpasture records Leonov chatting with Peter Kihss of the NY Times two weeks after the assassination. Mexico City chronology 1963-68, HSCA Segregated CIA Collection (microfilm - reel 30: Mexico City Station File)/ NARA Record Number: 104-10522-10085.
A version with redactions that is easier to read. It adds that “Barbara Graham” did the work-up on Leonov:
On 6/29/64, the suggestion was made to use the CIA program TARBRUSH to tie Leonov to the “subversion of Mexico somehow". Memo by Peter Baranowski, HSCA Segregated CIA Collection (microfilm - reel 53: Hemming - Lorenz)/NARA Record Number: 104-10218-10023.
This bio sheet discusses a little more about Castro's arrest and how Leonov was a TARBRUSH target three times - the other two incidents were all about Soviet-Cuban subversion, in May and October 63.
By 8/1/63, Army intelligence was reportedly convinced by the CIA’s program that Leonov was bent on subversive activities.
This almost illegible document shows that there was a “black propaganda operation” being waged against Leonov by the Monterrey station in 1963.
The CIA admitted that there was suspicion that Leonov’s picture was planted inside Fidel Castro’s wallet at the time of his arrest.
The more common story is that Leonov’s card was found amidst Che Guevara’s papers.
Paco Ignacio Taibo, Guevara, Also Known as Che (Macmillan, 1999), p. 70.
After Leonov's stint in Mexico City from 1960-68, he went on to be #2 at the KGB between 83-91. He now sits in the Russian Parliament and is a colleague of Vladimir Putin's.
27 See that the first page of Hosty’s report originally had the smoking file number on it: Initial page of Hosty’s report, 9/10/63, has “100-300-11” crossed out on it. Oswald 201 File, Vol 1, Folder 2, p. 50.
28 CI-SIG held the FPCC 100-300-011 file tightly in its possession: One document list has a “Formerly Filed” column with the above-mentioned Hosty report on Oswald and the FPCC entitled “CI-SIG File (351 164) 100-300-11”. List of Documents, HSCA Segregated CIA Collection, Box 12. NARA Record Number: 104-10067-10403. The 351 164 number is Oswald’s Office of Security number, showing that CI-SIG is holding the FPCC file with the Office of Security. Other pre-assassination FBI reports from Quigley and de Brueys went into this FPCC file as well.
A second document list has a “Location of Original” column with these three Oswald/FPCC reports in “CI-SI File 100-300-11”. This shows that the FPCC file was held specifically by CI-SIG. “Response to HSCA Request of 9 March 1978”, items 40, 41, 47.
29 However, a note from the CIA’s document bird dog Paul Hartman reveals that at the time of the assassination there were only five documents physically located in the 201 file: Handwritten note by Paul Hartman with attachments, 10/20/75, Miscellaneous CIA Series/NARA Record Number: 104-10322-10043.
Rocca also said that when he saw the 201 file on the Monday after the assassination, there were only five documents in it and that they were all of an interagency nature: Memorandum for the Record, “Meeting of Mr. Rocca with Members of the Senate Select Committee Staff”, Robert Wall, AC/CI/OG, 11/13/75, DDP (Deputy Director for Plans) Files/NARA Record Number: 104-10310-10121.
Hartman went further and identified three of the five actual documents, saying that the other two were FBI documents: Paul Hartman handwritten note, 10/20/75, NARA# 104-10322-10043.
Hartman attached in his memo the State and Navy documents, but not the FBI documents, and with no explanation as to why he attached some but not others. One of the 10/10/63 memos states that the agency has no knowledge of Oswald’s whereabouts after May 1962, indicating that Fain’s August 1962 report documenting Oswald’s return to the USA was not in the file.
The Church Committee was of the opinion that Fain’s August 1962 memo was in the file. I believe, as shown in the chapter, that the Church Committee was mistaken.
Another CIA memo says that once the files are entered into the computer system, there is no need for them to physically be in the file: Report, “Agency never had a relationship of any kind with Lee Harvey Oswald”, pages 32-33; HSCA Segregated CIA Collection (staff notes)/NARA Record Number: 180-10147-10163.
30 The five documents actually in the 201 file on 11/22/63 were two State Department documents, two FBI documents, and one Navy document: Paul Hartman handwritten note, 10/20/75, NARA# 104-10322-10043.
The Navy document is DNA-1624 of 4/25/62, referring to “Lee Harvey Oswald”:
It seems pretty evident which were the two FBI files that remained in the 201 file: The two Fain reports from 1960 and 1961: See Newman, Oswald and the CIA, pp. 493-494. See the 1960 Fain report – DBA 49478 Routing and Record Sheet, 5/25/60, re DBF-49478, Oswald 201 File, Vol 1, p. 137, and p. 139, referring to “Lee Harvey Oswald”;
And the 1961 Fain report – DBF 82181.
The Church Committee thought that the August 1962 Fain memo was in the file. “Preliminary Report into the Investigation of the Assassination of President Kennedy”, p. 30, Church Committee Boxed Files/NARA Record Number: 157-10014-10141.
Their information was incomplete – they did not know that the Hosty, Quigley and De Brueys memos were missing.
31 Paul Hartman, formidable in his knowledge on how to bird-dog documents, claimed that these 37 documents were removed because they dealt with “sensitive matters such as wiretaps and surveillance”: If Hartman’s analysis is right, we have a pretty close guess as to which were the two FBI files that remained in the 201 file: Unless CIAHQ was lying to Mexico City about the 201 file not going any further than May 1962, they would have to be the two Fain reports from 1960 and 1961.
32 Jeff Morley recounts a footrace between Egerter and Bustos to retrieve the 201 file after CIA HQ learned that JFK had been shot: Jefferson Morley, Our Man in Mexico, p. 205.
33 It seems pretty evident which were the two FBI files that remained in the 201 file: The two Fain reports from 1960 and 1961: See Newman, Oswald and the CIA, pp. 493-494. See endnote 30, above.
34 Bustos said that after she wrote the rough draft… Interview by Dan Hardway and Betsy Wolf with Charlotte Bustos “Elsie Scaletti”, 3/30/78, p. 8, HSCA Segregated CIA Collection (staff notes)/NARA Record Number: 180-10140-10190.
Also see her deposition on 5/19/78, p. 32.
35 Jane Roman admitted that “naturally, Oswald was the subject of great interest to both the CIA and the FBI even before the assassination, CIA would have explored every available asset abroad to establish his motives and activities”: Jane Roman letter, undated but sometime in 1994, see final two pages. The Jane Roman letter is in the possession of the author.
36 Morales worked with Harvey in the Langley basement and in Miami: Bayard Stockton, Flawed Patriot, p. 179.
37 Halpern said, “I’ll tell you one thing, I didn’t know that word busy-ness. It was never mentioned by Des [FitzGerald] when he came back from that meeting, and it was a good thing he didn't because you might have had a Seven Days in May at that point.”: Jefferson Morley recounts his interview with Sam Halpern, in Morley’s book Our Man in Mexico, p. 166.
38 Gheesling wrote that once he learned that Oswald was arrested, he told Anderson that Oswald should be taken off the security watch list because he had inadvertently forgot to remove his name after Oswald’s return from the Soviet Union: Gheesling claims he asked Anderson if he should take Oswald off the watchlist on October 9, 1963, and Anderson told him yes. Memo from W. Marvin Gheesling to James H. Gale, “Lee Harvey Oswald, Internal Security –R”, 11/26/63.(no electronic version available)
Here’s the relevant text in Gheesling’s letter: Gheesling is writing to James Gale, Hoover's enforcer who disciplined Gheesling, Anderson, and sixteen other FBI officers for dropping the ball on Oswald's case:
"The Security Flash...was removed by routing slip from me to the Identification Division 10-9-63 and Mr. Gale inquired as to why this Flash was removed since Subject was known to have been arrested by local authorities at New Orleans, La. for distributing "Fair Play for Cuba" pamphlets.
"This stop was placed 11-10-59 to assist in the Bureau's being notified in the event subject returned to the U.S. under assumed name. When information was received that subject had returned to the U.S., the purpose of the stop had been accomplished. When case was closed by me on 9-7-62, I inadvertently did not remove the stop.
"I did remove the stop after receipt of the Identification Record 10-8-63 showing subject's arrest by the New Orleans Police Department. At the time I removed the stop I advised SA Lambert L. Anderson, who was then handling the case, of the existence of the stop, the purpose for which it was placed, and that I was removing it. He had no objections to such action."
Gheesling's memo also addresses to some degree the debriefing issue. He says he "instructed Dallas to be alert to subject's return to the U.S. and immediately upon his arrival he should be thoroughly interviewed to determine if he was recruited by Soviet Intelligence or made any deals with the Soviets in order to obtain permission to return to the U.S...(after two interviews) case was closed on 9-7-62 and an administrative tickler was set to review the case after one year to consider at that time whether additional investigation was warranted."
Anderson's story supports Gheesling: "I was orally advised (date not recalled) that the security flash placed by Soviet section (my note: Gheesling) regarding subject had been removed inasmuch as subject was now in the US and subject flash no longer necessary." Memo from Lambert L. Anderson to Inspector J. H. Gale, 11/29/63,
Gale wrote that one of the reasons for Gheesling’s punishment was “stop placed against subject in Identification Section which was removed by (Gheesling) on 10/9/63 after subject arrested in New Orleans for Fair Play for Cuba Committee on 8/9/63. (Gheesling) advised stop was placed in event subject returned from Russia under an assumed name and was inadvertently not removed by him on 9/7/62 when case closed. Inspector feels (Gheesling) in error in removing stop on Subject in Ident on 10/9/63, particularly after arrest for Fair Play for Cuba Committee activity in New Orleans. We might have missed further arrests without stop in Ident. Inspector also feels (Gheesling) erred in not having additional investigation conducted when subject returned to the United States and (Gheesling) wrong in not having subject placed on SI (Author’s note: SI is FBI shorthand for Security Index).” NARA Record Number: 124-10369-10042.
39 On October 8 Anderson received a Sept. 24 report of Oswald’s arrest, which revealed Oswald’s request to speak with an FBI agent and share quite a bit of information while in jail: Austin Horn, the Special Affairs Staff (SAS) liaison with the FBI, also got his copy of the September 24 report on October 8. The routing sheet indicates that Horn’s copy was signed for by “LD”, SAS/CI L. Demos. This document was passed on to SAS/CI/CONTROL, then Egerter, and then CI/IC Cal Tenney. Austin Horn was also known as Rufus A. Horn, and was active on the Cubela case at its end in 1965. The relationship between Horn and Demos merits further exploration.