Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Big Lie Told by David Atlee Phillips

It has been said by at least one or two Kennedy assassination researchers that Judyth Vary Baker tells a heartrending love story, but that, even if what she says is true that it does not "add anything" to our knowledge about the assassination itself. In my own opinion, that belief is utterly false. What Judyth's story supplies is the answer to the question of what Lee Oswald was really doing in Mexico City in late September . . . and why he went there. It also gives a strong hint about who was responsible for planning the plot. I have arrived at a conclusion that Alton Ochsner was working with someone who was not technically part of the Central Intelligence Agency, although I began my research thinking that Lee believed he was working under Robert Kennedy's design.

Judyth's book also relates that David Atlee Phillips told Lee Oswald before the two met in Dallas on September 6th that he would be introduced to a contact who would supply a method for the cancer weapon to be taken into Cuba. As we learn below, that was part of a much bigger lie in which Phillips was involved. Phillips must have had an Oswald impostor planted to appear at the Consulate twice after Oswald attempted to gain his visa. The tape of the real Lee Oswald's appearance was said to have been destroyed or recycled before it normally would have been. However, tapes of the impostor's appearance at the Consulate were preserved, ready to present to the new President Lyndon Johnson the day after Kennedy's murder as a pretext for silencing all investigations other than his "blue-ribbon panel" that would frame the patsy as the lone-nut assassin. It was a very intricate plan which clearly involved Lyndon Johnson, working with David Atlee Phillips and someone else who knew ahead of time when Oswald would appear at the Cuban Consulate in Mexico City.

John Newman related in a PBS Frontline story, that J. Edgar Hoover said he could not "forget CIA withholding the French espionage activities in USA nor the false story re Oswald’s trip in Mexico City only to mention two of their instances of double dealing.” In the text and in footnote 17, following this quote from Hoover, Newman added:
CIA headquarters made the decision soon after the assassination to deny that anyone within the CIA — including the Mexico station — knew of Oswald’s visits to the Cuban consulate until after JFK’s murder. But the Mexico City station’s chief, the head of Cuban operations, and the others involved with Cuban operations all maintain that they knew about the visits and informed headquarters at the time. They also maintain that there was an additional Oswald phone call not accounted for in the extant records.
We know about a 30 September tape because of the recollection of the CIA translator who transcribed it, Mrs. Tarasoff. She remembers not only transcribing it but also the fact that the Oswald voice was the same as the 28 September voice—in other words the same Oswald impostor. Mrs. Tarasoff remembers the Oswald character asked the Soviets for money to help him defect, once again, to the Soviet Union. In addition, the CIA officer at the Mexico City in charge of Cuban operations, David Atlee Phillips, in sworn testimony to the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA), backed up Mrs. Tarasoff’s claim about the tape and the request for money to assist in another defection to the Soviet Union. But the Phillips story has a twist. The day before his sworn testimony, Phillips told a different, more provocative version to Ron Kessler of the Washington Post. He told Kessler that on this tape Oswald asked for money in exchange for information. Why was this crucial transcript destroyed? We can only wonder at what motivated Phillips to tell two different stories about this piece in less than 24 hours.
...The operational reason for this deception has yet to fully come to light. 
It seems likely, however, that the impostor was sent to the embassy to make it appear as though "Oswald" was acting with the Soviets, and thus to convince one or more persons that "the patsy" had to be killed after the eventual assassination and to supply a reason for what was to become the Warren Commission, as Newman further details. The motive for this impersonation is revealed by Rex Bradford of History Matters:
An otherwise inexplicable impersonation episode takes on an entirely new meaning in this light. The calls from the Oswald impersonator made it appear that Oswald was a hired killer, hired by the Soviet Union no less. This was a prescription for World War III.
John Newman brought up in his 1999 presentation at the JFK-Lancer Conference, what he had discovered about the impostor in Mexico City, stating:
So, I tried to erect a hypothesis in my mind where it could be benign and it really didn't work. And where I have been for the last four years, as the Review Board has been releasing more and more stuff on this, is you really can't explain the impersonation outside of the plot to murder the president.
An additional appendix to the HSCA Report on the JFK assassination, entitled "Oswald, the CIA, and Mexico City," actually called the "Lopez Report," was first partially released in 1996, but with fewer redactions again in 2003. Since 2003, other separate files have been come to light which furnish new information not dealt with by the HSCA staff in its report, according to History Matters:
The LBJ taped phone conversations for instance, include startling corroboration for the claim that audio intercepts of an Oswald impersonator were listened to by FBI agents in Dallas while Oswald was in custody. Declassified testimony of David Phillips, the Tarasoff couple who translated the tapes for the CIA, and others illuminate some areas and deepen the mystery in others. [The Tarasoffs' 1976 interview with review date indicated as 11/14/96 appears in the Mary Ferrell website.]
What Lee Oswald Told Judyth Baker

Once the cancer weapon had been proven to work, Judyth left New Orleans, while Lee returned to Dallas to prepare for his trip to Mexico City, where he had the tough assignment of getting a visa into Cuba in order to deliver the weapon to someone who could use it to inject Fidel with cancer. Under the September  6, 1963 entry in the chapter of Me and Lee, entitled "Separation," Judyth wrote:
He [Lee Oswald] arrived in Dallas around lunchtime and proceeded to a large prestigious building downtown, where he met two men. One was his handler, "Mr. B" who had accidentally told him his name was "Benton" when previously he'd said his name was "Benson." Disturbingly, how Lee heard this man addressed as "Bishop" by the anti-Castro Cuban who joined them. He now realized that only the letter "B" had been consistent in "Mr. B's" name. Lee had previously been informed that he'd meet not only his handler, but also the contact who would make sure the bioweapon got into Cuba, so he assumed the Latino was that man. No names were exchanged: it was an eyes-only encounter, and the meeting then abruptly ended.
The above passage, relating what Lee told Judyth, must be compared with what Antonio Veciana has said about his meeting with his handler, known to him only as Maurice Bishop, first revealed to the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) in 1976, but he never identified Bishop as David Atlee Phillips until the AARC Conference in October 2014. Researchers have pondered for several decades about the real reason for Oswald's trip, including the contacts he made with diplomatic officials in Cuba's Communist government, as well as with the Soviet Embassy. The first face-to-face attempts between researchers and Cuban officials occurred in 1995 after some of the insiders had retired.

What Antonio Veciana Told Other Researchers

A. Veciana in 2014
Former Cuban security agent, Arturo Rodriguez, had spoken to Antonio Veciana about his meeting with "Bishop" (David Atlee Phillips) in Dallas, when he saw his handler with the young North American man later identified as Lee Oswald, and later related to researchers his own curiosity about the reason for it. Rodriguez delivered a paper in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in August 1995 in which he set out his conclusions about why Phillips may have departed from customary tradecraft by scheduling two agents, unknown to each other, to appear together. Rodriguez concluded that Phillips' motive in arranging the early September meeting with Oswald, which Veciana walked in on, had initially been to frame Oswald as a member of an assassination plot with Cuba to kill Kennedy; then, after Oswald's arrest and murder, he surmised, Phillips' intent changed, and he attempted to show Oswald was a "lone nut," not acting on behalf of Cuba.

The Rio conference at which Rodriguez and others spoke was eventually expanded into a one-on-one encounter between researchers and retired Cuban agents, held in Nassau, The Bahamas, in December 1995. The papers and transcripts of the taped discussions are all now part of the Cuban Information Archives. The discussions were taped and a transcript made. What follows is an excerpt from those archives, with punctuation corrected and emphasis added:
[Dick Russell?]: Veciana told me when I interviewed him in 1976 about, and I'll just read you the quote, of exactly what he said. It is about, ah, his cousin, who is Luis [Ruiz?]. "Yes," it says, "I had a cousin, Guillermo Ruiz who worked with the Cuban intelligence service in Mexico City. After the assassination, sometime early in 1964, Bishop said to me that, I think by getting my cousin a considerable amount of money, would he say he talked to Oswald to make it appear Oswald was working for Castro? Because of this, I asked Bishop if it was true Oswald had been talking to Castro agents. Bishop said it did not matter if it was true; what was important was to get my cousin to make that statement."  So my question is: did you ever speak to, is this, do you know anything more about this? Did you ever speak to Guillermo Ruiz about this?

Escalante: Yes, of course we have. We knew about this interview from this book about the investigation of the select committee [Gaeton Fonzi's The Investigation] and we had an interview with Guillermo Ruiz. In 1963, Guillermo Ruiz, in August 1963, he was appointed to commercial [attaché?] of the Cuban Embassy in Mexico City....
We must interrupt at this point to relate what Bill Simpich says happened the day Oswald appeared in the Cuban Embassy in Mexico City. Simpich writes: "On September 27, an alleged phone tap revealed that Cuban consulate receptionist Silvia Duran had contacted Guillermo Ruiz at 10:54 am, complaining in Spanish that "he wants to speak to the consul"."
He told me that when he arrived in Mexico a group of Cubans were waiting for him at the airport to welcome him, an act of repudiation, yes that's it. Guillermo Ruiz never worked for the Cuban intelligence. He was not an official of Cuba. He was not really a cousin to Veciana. Veciana's cousin was his wife. Guillermo Ruiz's wife. Guillermo Ruiz. So also is one of the persons who saw Oswald at the embassy, he will explain that when he gets to Oswald.
[Dick Russell?]: Ruiz saw Oswald at the embassy?

Escalante: Yes. There is one moment when he gets there and then you see Eusebio Azcue having a big discussion with Oswald in the last interview they have. He had an office on the top of the consulate and when Guillermo is about to pass through-- Guillermo spoke better English than Azcue--Azcue said please explain to this gentleman that I cannot give him a visa to go to Cuba if he doesn't have a visa from Moscow. So Guillermo looked at him, and he is one of the persons that confirmed that he saw Oswald in our Cuban consulate. This is what we know.

When we read this story told by Veciana, it looks very strange to us. We, in our book, have a chapter, it is dedicated to the press campaign that was started before and after the Kennedy assassination to blame Cuba. However, there is a moment in December in 1963 after the Warren commission was appointed and this company started to go lower, and lower still because they were just not interviewed, I think. On the other hand, some other events which had happened in Cuba, didn't happen to us. It has always had very few meaning in 1964. Maurice Bishop gives this task to Veciana because this was out of the context of the moment, (?) the most important moment. We have some other theory about it. And we believe that the meeting Veciana speaks of in September of 1963 was for that ... was to try to recruit Guillermo Ruiz.

[Dick Russell?]: He tried to recruit Ruiz?

Escalante: (?) the meeting between Oswald, Veciana and Phillips in 63, September 63, was really to try to recruit Guillermo Ruiz

[Dick Russell?]: How so? I don't really understand.

Escalante: Let me explain. A few days before Kennedy's assassination, Guillermo Ruiz's wife walks from her house to the Cuban embassy. She was about 200 feet in from the entrance of the embassy, she looks at the...a big bunch of dollars on the sidewalk.

[Dick Russell?]: A big bunch of what?

Nunez: Dollars

[Dick Russell?]: Dollars?

Nunez: Dollars on the sidewalk.

Escalante: And a Mexican person. She recalls that it was a Mexican person from the accent and tells her, "Lady, this money is yours." She gets scared because there are the two people coming to approach her, so she starts running for the embassy asking for help. When people from our embassy went to the same place, no money nor the people were there anymore. Obviously, this is not something normal. Imagine finding a big bunch of money in the middle of Mexico City. For us this had never had an explanation and I think that the only explanation that we can give is a form to try to recruit her.

Lechuga: She was a cousin of Veciana. ...

Smith: I don't understand how Phillips having Veciana in Dallas see him with Oswald has to do with the recruitment effort against Ruiz.

Escalante: I'm going to say once more. Veciana told to Fonzi and Russell, that in January of 1964 his case officer, Maurice Bishop made a promise to recruit Guillermo Ruiz for him, to say that Oswald was a Cuban agent. That was out of context, out of moment, because in January 1964 the campaign against Cuba has lowered down, diminished. So we think that the true reason of the interview enter [between?] Veciana, Oswald and Maurice Bishop in Dallas, in September 1963 could have been that, or probably would have been that, and simply Veciana was given the information out of context, out of date to mix up everybody and to give only part of the truth, not the whole truth, not the same that happened in September, but in January 64. That is what we assumed even more logical that this (?) was in September and there was a plot to try to include Guillermo Ruiz. He doesn't have any sense would have wanted to put him in after murdering, but before...
Fonzi: I would like to... we have a slight disagreement on you know why... Why Phillips ... General Escalante believes ... deliberately had Veciana see him with Oswald and I still tend to believe, as a result, the manner in which the information came up originally in the interview, that it was a mistake on Phillips' part. Now Phillips was not a man who did not make mistakes in his history. Joseph B. Smith, of the CIA, who wrote the book told me, I think he told Tony Summers also, that he recalled Phillips making two very bad mistakes in the course of his career. One was in Havana when he was caught in the house of prostitutes and called the American Embassy even though he was supposedly not connected to the agency. And another story that Smith tells is that at one point Phillips was supposed to have a meeting with a Russian in a restaurant and Phillips was asked to bring some bonapita, and he did, and then on leaving he left his briefcase on a chair. So the point is that Phillips, despite being a sophisticated spy, did make mistakes.

The other factor I find difficult to find an answer to involves the basis of Veciana's talking to me in the first place. I did not tell Veciana when I first approached him that I was interested in the Kennedy assassination. At the time I was working for Senator Schweiker who was on the Senate Intelligence Committee and my approach to all the Cubans I interviewed at the time was that I was interested in the relationship between the CIA and anti-Castro Cuban groups. And it was on that basis that Veciana began talking with me. When I had originally gone to see Veciana and discovered Veciana, as a result of a suggestion by Paul Hoch out in California, who had written an article for the Saturday Evening Post I think, suggesting that it may have been Veciana who had visited (?)_____________, Hoch sent an advance copy, actually sent a manuscript of the article, and I was unaware that it had been published in the Post already. So, when I was trying to work the interview around to the Kennedy assassination, without being very blatant about it, I asked Veciana whether Alpha 66 had branches in other cities and then whether or not they happened to have one in Dallas and Veciana said... I said, then I asked him had he ever been to Dallas at that house and Veciana said "Yes, I have been there and now you are going to ask me whether I saw Oswald there." And I said, "Why would I ask you that?" He said "because I just read it in the Saturday Evening Post." I have it here in the bedroom. And he went to the bedroom and took it out. So the subject of Oswald came up in that manner, not by any direct question, and so I have trouble trying to figure out why Veciana would even bring up Oswald, why if he was involved in the assassination, why he would even link himself to the Kennedy assassination with me at all even though he told me everything about Bishop. He didn't have to tell me about the meeting with Oswald at all.

Escalante: But let's take the facts. I said he was a hypocrite. Let's go back to the facts. The CIA--we are not going to identify any names--thought that Guillermo Ruiz was an official from the Cuban intelligence service. That is something that has been proved. Guillermo Ruiz was in the city of Mexico from August 1963. His wife is Veciana's cousin. They both are (?)__________. That is the second part. The third part. The information that Veciana gives you that he had had an interview with his case official in September 1963 in Dallas and that he saw there a man that looked like Oswald, that he later identified as Oswald. The fourth fact, is that Guillermo Ruiz's wife was a provocation to her [had been provoked?], a few days before Kennedy's assassination. The fifth point, Veciana tells that in January 1964 his case official in Mexico makes him a proposition to try to recruit Guillermo Ruiz for him to confirm that Oswald is a Cuban agent. These five facts obviously happened. All the information that we have available, is that these five things happened. The only thing I give you is that the order in which this timing in these facts, is not the one that Veciana says it was... No the way he said it was.

?[Dick Russell]: Possibly the way it was. I may be mistaken, because I haven't reviewed my notes on this but my recollection is that Veciana told me, that Bishop, shortly after the assassination made the proposal to him to contact Ruiz. Later he said there was a CIA agent who came to him and asked him to try and recruit Ruiz, and Veciana said he made an attempt to reach Ruiz in Spain. Was he in Spain at some point?...

Escalante: And he made another proposition. He made a proposition to trade the hands of _________ for the liberation of one person in prison. It's a different operation and there's one sixth fact--when I talk about five that David Phillips--when he heard of the operation against Cuba in Mexico in 1962. There are a group of coincidences that make me think that the order of these facts, in this case, they do make a different final result and has been changed.

?[Dick Russell]: I have to change the emphasis slightly and I do so despite my great respect for the work done today _____, but what you just said is to me is the most important thing. That we know that Phillips was in charge of operations against Cuba in Mexico City, in the period when so much happened down there in respect to Oswald. There is the second thing we know about Phillips that is even bigger, more obvious, and that is that Phillips had been in charge of this information about the assassination since it happened and if there is a single key to this disinformation it is to blame the assassination on Cuba. And it seems to me that we should talk primarily about this, and only in this context, come back to the Veciana story. I would like to make two observations. One is that at the time that the Maurice Bishop story began, Phillips had caught the public eye and therefore Phillips in a sense had a reason to start creating disinformation about himself and his own role. Another point which I think is relevant, is that at a certain point and I (?) to know better than me, is that Veciana was shot through the head. It is important what year that was. It was in 1973. July 1973. I spoke to him myself by telephone, not long after this. And he said to me, I know who you are. I would be... it would be interesting to talk to you but consider this, I have just been shot through the head....
Veciana told Dick Russell, author of The Man Who Knew Too Much (1992 publication), that Maurice Bishop (David Atlee Phillips) asked him, a month or so after the Kennedy assassination (or, late December 1963 or January 1964) to bribe a cousin working at the Mexico City Cuban Embassy, Guillermo Ruiz, to testify that Oswald was an agent working for Cuba. Then some time later, while Ruiz was assigned to Spain, Bishop/Phillips made contact with Veciana in order to reach Ruiz for a purpose unknown. We have to look at all these contacts within the context of history. What better context can be established, other than James Douglass' unparalleled book, JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters? Another good source is David Talbot's Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years.

"Operation Mongoose ... Death Bed" -- November 5, 1962

"The Project," on which Judyth Baker worked with Lee Oswald, David Ferrie and Dr. Mary Sherman, could not have been under Robert Kennedy's supervision, through his role in the Special Group Augmented's oversight of Operation Mongoose, since that operation, which began in November 1961, had died within weeks of October 16, 1962, when the Cuban Missile Crisis was resolved. The new Deputy Director of Plans, Richard Helms' special assistant, George B. McManus signed a Memorandum on November 5, 1962 stating that Mongoose had ended and that  Task Force W would begin dismantling. [Source: David E Kaiser, THE ROAD TO DALLAS, (2009, p. 145.)]

Paragraph 9 of the McManus memo dealt with what to do about Edward Lansdale, who had first been in charge of Mongoose, clearly stating that Robert Kennedy, the "A.G.," "will drop Lansdale like a hot brick." The rest of the members of the former operation were advised to close ranks and deny access to Lansdale, except through the DCI to prevent his doing damage to the CIA; but they were advised not to attempt to "unseat" Lansdale. Thus, once Operation Mongoose officially ended in November 1962, Robert Kennedy would have ceased to have any interest in killing Castro.

Who, then, was directing the spies and doctors at the Ochsner Clinic with whom Judyth was working?

We will go back to unpublished research which I did several years ago about Dr. Ochsner in attempting to answer that question.


Judyth Vary Baker said...

"The Project" began on March 23, 1962. It was seven months before Mongoos ended--probably there as time to finance the linear particle accelerator to its completion and there was enough evidence of Mongoos behind it that Lee coukld believe, if not know, that RFK had a hand in it. For we know RFK sent a trusted Jesuit to Spring Hill to confer with Lee at some point. Banister, too, I think conveyed the impression that RFK had been backing him. However, if that had changed, would ochsner had set aside The project, with all the backing he had from elsewhere, and, supposedly, with the sanction of the CUA? Thank you for this article. JVB

Linda Minor said...

Thank you, Judyth, for this clarification about Operation Mongoose. I realize you have trouble with your vision. There is no need to edit the typos in your note. I know you are a genius and know how to spell. At the end of my article, I said I would continue with research on Ochsner which I began several years ago, after first meeting you (Judyth). However, I have been working even longer on the background of David Atlee Phillips, which I decided to post instead. Part I should be up today. Keep your head held high, and don't let detractors deter you from your goal.

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