Monday, May 28, 2012

Wes Wise Tour of Dallas Hot Spots


Wes Wise Tour of Dallas Assassination Hot Spots – Warts and All –

The Assassins Tour of Dallas

On November 22, 1963 Dallas TV and radio news reporter Wes Wise waited in vain for President John F. Kennedy to arrive at the Dallas Trade Mart. There was to be a luncheon with special guests, where gifts would be given to the Kennedys for them and their children, but Kennedy never made lunch, having been ambushed and gunned down in Dealey Plaza.

Two days later Wes Wise was assigned to film the accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald as he was being transferred to the Dallas County jail, just across the street from where Kennedy was murdered. But Oswald too, was a no show. Jack Ruby shot and killed him in the basement garage of Dallas City Hall.

Thwarted on two assignments during the most excruciating weekend in his life, Wise kept an interest in the case from the time he was pounding the streets as a beat reporters through his promotion to TV anchor and later as mayor of Dallas. And he’s still on the beat, videotape recording oral histories of assassination witnesses for the Dallas County Historical Society, which now has offices in the former Texas School Book Depository (TSBD), the alleged assassin’s lair.

The day after the assassination Wise was assigned to trace Oswald’s movements from the TSBD to the Texas Theater in Oak Cliff where he was captured. It was an assignment he is still, in a sense, pursing. Of all the reporters in Dallas who covered the assassination, it was Wes Wise who set of a small spark on the fuse of a time bomb that’s yet to explode – the evidential outcome of one reporter’s small but significant clue to the crime of the century. A clue that is still being run down nearly 30, now fifty years later.

I first read about Wes Wise in the published reports of the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA). It was listed under the heading “Oswald-Tippit Associates,” and labeled “The Wise Allegation,’ although Wes Wise never made any allegations. He just followed his reporter’s instincts, which led him into a labyrinth of intrigue involving a fleeing suspect and a ’57 Plymouth. Wise either came up with a fantastic coincidence, or a clue that could lead to the unraveling of the conspiracy and the eventual solving of the crime.

So when I was in Dallas I called Wes Wise on the telephone and took him up on his offer to give me a tour of the town.

We began at the once and forever Texas School Book Depository, which now houses the Sixth Floor Museum that overlooks Dealey Plaza, the scene of the crime.

THE TEXAS SCHOOL BOOK DEPOSITORY – DEALEY PLAZA

People come here from all over the world to see the place where John F. Kennedy was murdered. At any time of the day or night you will find people walking around, pointing up to the sixth floor corner window of the TSBD and walking behind the picket fence on the Grassy Knoll. It is a daily ritual that is acted out over and over, every day and every night.

People realize that something significant happened here, and Dealey Plaza acts as a vortex of our political and social culture, drawing pilgrims to the place where it happened. Dealey Plaza is an American political Mecca. Some pull a plank off the wooden picket fence – a relic to take home with them.

“It’s the number one tourist attraction in Dallas, and may be the most popular in Texas, as I don’t think the Alamo even surpasses it as far as public interest,” says Wise, as we sit in his car on Elm Street, sort of a dead end alley that runs in front of the TSBD. An historical marker on the side of the building tells the story. You can see the scar on the bronze plaque where it was amended, on a more recent date, to qualify Lee Harvey Oswald as the “alleged” assassin. Things just don’t seem as definitive as they once did.

“I remember Eddie Barker, the KLRD (now KDFW) news director saying this corner will never be the same again,” reflects Wise, “and I kind of agree with him, but didn’t realize quite how much so.”

A hot dog vendor is set up next to the curb; a young man hawks a newspaper, “The Dealey Plaza Times,” catering to the tourists.

“The assassination of this man had such a tremendous impact on us,” Wise continues. “At the ten year mark people said that would be the end, and we could all forget about it. But here we are now, nearly 30 years later, and if anything, there is much more interest in all of this.”

The Sixth Floor exhibit, a multi-media museum, attracts bus loads of school children, and travelers can’t pass through downtown Dallas without paying a pit stop homage to Dealey Plaza.

Although it is controversial for not including conspiracy theories, and only parroting the official version of events, Wise says “The exhibit captures the impact the assassination had on us, as well as the Kennedy mystique, and much of that sort of history.”

The new generation just learning about the assassination of JFK might know the place, the time and the date – 12:30 pm, Friday, November 22, 1963, Dealey Plaza, Dallas, Texas, but to really understand the significance of JFK’s murder you have to put it into an historical context. “I think the background of Dallas at the time is important, and the Sixth Floor exhibit is fair with it, although it doesn’t show Dallas, warts and all,” reflects Wise, who proceeds to drive east on Elm a few blocks before he pulls over to the corner of the Greyhound Bus station.

THE GREYHOUND BUS STATION

The way most people figured it is that Oswald left the TSBD shortly after the assassination, within minutes, and walked about seven blocks east from Dealey Plaza. No one knows where he was going, but then he takes a bus heading back towards Dealey Plaza. Where he was going, if anywhere, is a mystery.

“To get some perspective,” Wise explained, “the School Book Depository is two blocks west and two blocks north.”

Sitting at the curb facing the northeast, the direction Oswald headed immediately after the assassination, I observed, further on down the street, a large skyscraper with the words “Southland” on it, asked Wise about it and jotted the name down in my notes. 

Later that very day I met with former Congressional investigator Gaeton Fonzi, and asked him in which building lobby in Dallas did Antonio Vechina meet with his CIA case officer “Maurice Bishop” and find him meeting with Oswald?  Fonzi said, “The Southland Building,” thus presenting another possible destination for the fleeing Oswald, though one that he apparently had a change of mind about before getting there.

Oswald got on a bus heading back towards the scene of the crime, and got off at this location. “Now this area was just packed with people who were standing along the sidewalks, it was about eight or ten people deep, a very friendly, pro-Kennedy crowd. When the bus got caught in a traffic jam, he got off right here near this corner, or just beyond it.”

The bus driver later identified Oswald, as did another passenger, Mrs. Bledsoe, Oswald’s former landlady. He took a bus transfer ticket and got off the buss, and within minutes, the bus was boarded and searched by policeman.

Oswald then got in a cab. The cab driver said that Oswald flagged him down, then offered the cab to a little old lady, hardly the actions of an assassin fleeing the scene of a crime.

“He apparently did several things that were uncharacteristic of a person who was uptight or upset,” notes Wise.

The cab took Oswald back through Dealey Plaza, which at the time was the most confusing and chaotic place on earth. Once a memorial to a local publisher, it suddenly became the most important dateline in the world.

Wise pulls over to the curb across the street from the TSBD.

“On the day after the assassination I talked my way up to the 6th floor with a camera and filmed the scene,” Wise recalls. “Going up to the 6th floor was really an eerie experience at the time because it was dark, dank and dusty, and people were still going around investigating the evidence.”

“Taking my way up there was typical of the way it was then, compared to the way it is now,” Wise explains. Now tourists must get passed two uniformed security guards and a metal detector to visit the Sixth Floor Museum. If the president only had as much protection.

“I had been on TV for years, prime time, as sports anchor, and since most policemen are sports fans, practically anyplace I went in Dallas they just motioned me in. So when I went up there, a federal agent stopped me. I had a camera in my hand, and this guy there says, “Hey, this is Wes Wise, he’s been here for years,” and so they let me go up to the 6th floor and take pictures. Other newsmen got up there, but not at the same time I did.”

Back on the street, Wise said that he called in to his office on the 2 way radio to say he was going out to Oak Cliff to where the cab driver took Oswald on the previous day. “I was in a marked KLRD News car and parked adjacent to the curb just across the street from the Depository. My assignment, from KRLD news director Eddie Barker, was to trace Oswald’s steps as closely as we knew, his movements after the assassination, as best we could.”

“As I was putting up the microphone of the radio I sort of caught a glimpse of this guy out of the corner of my eye. I could see a man in a suit and hat, and it was exactly the same suit and hat he had on the next day. It was Jack Ruby. And he says, ‘Oh, wasn’t this awful, Wes? Jackie is going to have to come back and testify while those poor kids…I can’t imagine it.’”

Wise described to him how he had been stationed at the Trade Mart, waiting for Kennedy’s arrival, and what a sad scene that was when people learned what had happened. “I told him about these saddles from Neiman-Marcus that were gifts for Carolyn and John John, gifts that they never received. And when I told this to Jack, visible tears came to his eyes.”

“Let me tell you what,” Wise says emphatically, “in Dallas, and I’m sure all over the country, but especially here, people were messing up (and crying openly), and sometimes, more than messing up, male and female, kids and adults, almost constantly during those three days. It was a tremendous emotional experience. Of course, for a newsman, it was unusual because you can’t let emotions get away with you, and we were working 15 hours a day. But when you stopped, and you went back home and you were alone with your wife, boy it was the most draining experience in the world.”

“I talked to Ruby for ten to twelve minutes, and I’ve often wished I had that microphone on and recorded that conversation I had with Ruby, but of course, he was such a nuisance, my impulse was, “Oh, Jack, come on, you know I’ve got work to do.”

Pulling around the corner onto Houston Street we pass the County Jail, on the left , where Wise waited for Oswald to arrive, and on the other side of the street, a statute of George Dealey, the founder of the Dallas Morning News. As you come up past a park and the Union train station, the Dallas Morning News building is across the street. Ruby was here at the time of the assassination, possibly sitting in an advertising office with a window overlooking Dealey Plaza.

“The name of Dealey is synonymous with the Dallas Morning News,” says Wise, who stops in front of the building. On the side, carved in huge letters, it reads: “Build the news upon the rock of truth and righteousness. Conduct it always upon the lines of fairness and integrity. Acknowledge the right of the people to get from newspapers both sides of every important question.”

Then Wise drives a mile over the Trinity River across the Jefferson Street Viaduct to Oak Cliff.

“Oak Cliff is unbelievable,” Wise says. “Dallas is a big city, I’m talking about spread out, area wise, and population wise it’s the 8th largest city in the country. But when you consider how big Dallas is, it’s amazing how you have all of this concentrated action going on in such a small area. There’s Oswald’s apartment, the scene of the Tippit shooting, Oswald’s old Neeley Street apartment, where the famous pictures were take in the backyard with Oswald and the rifle.”

Then there’s the Dobb’s House restaurant, where both Oswald and Tippit had breakfast at the counter at the same time on Thursday morning, and Austin’s barbeque, where Tippit moonlighted as a bouncer for one of Ruby’s partners, and the Hallandale street house where the Cubans lived, and Red Bird airport, for small, private planes, and the Texas Theater where Oswald was captured. Oak Cliff is a virtual hornet’s nest of assassination hot spots.

“And what I always thought was fascinating and still mysterious to me to this day,” Wise says, “is the proximity of Ruby’s apartment.”

“Let’s put it this way,” he says. “The direction that Oswald was going was in the general direction of Ruby’s apartment. And I have no reason to believe Oswald was in cahoots with Ruby. I just think it’s an amazing coincidence for a city of this size. Well, he wasn’t on his way to the movies.”

The cab took Oswald into Oak Cliff, five blocks past his rooming house that he walked back to. Now people surmise he did this to throw off the police or the cab driver, if anybody was tailing him or trying to trace him, and it also gave him the opportunity to approach his place from a different direction and case it out, to see if there was any activity there before he arrived.

OAK CLIFF

“Oak Cliff is still part of Dallas,” notes Wise. “The area is more run down today than it was then. It’s really depressed looking today. It would still be considered lower income then, but it has some very lovely and expensive homes too. It’s as convenient as anyplace to get downtown, and to work, but Oswald hadn’t been working at the TSBD very long, and got the room before he got the job.”

“To me, the proximity of all these places in this huge city boggles my mind today, because for all of that to be confined in such a small location is amazing. The reason I know what I know is because I was here as a reporter, I’ve followed it since then, and I’m still interested in it as a former newsman. I’m asked about it all the time. It is still a fascinating thing to me.”

OSWALD’S ROOMING HOUSE – 1026 N. BECKLEY STREET

“Now here’s the rooming – 1026 North Beckley. This is the first time I’ve ever been here when there hasn’t been a sign out front saying there’s a room for rent. The rooming house cleaning lady said a police car (with two policemen in it) stopped out front while Oswald was in there changing. It honked its horn and then took off. Well I have never figured that one out,” says Wise.

The cleaning lady saw Oswald standing at the bus stop out front apparently waiting for a bus that would have taken him back to center city. Instead,  the Warren Commission surmised that Oswald began walking away from center city.

Riding down Beckley about six blocks from Oswald’s rooming house, Wise turns down 10th Street. “Now another thing is, they say Oswald didn’t drive, so that puts a mystery thing on this. Mrs. Ruth Paine had given him some driving lessons, and I think Mrs. Paine is sort of a mystery women in this whole thing. I interviewed her and Mrs. Tippitt.”

That Mrs. Paine was teaching Oswald to drive around that time is an important point that comes in play. There is still much dispute over whether Oswald could have covered as much ground as he did, between the time of the assassination and when he was captured at the Texas Theater. All of this took place within an hour following the assassination. “And that’s why my discovery is so pertinent to all of this,” Wise surmises.

“Now I’m going over to 10th an Patton streets where Tippit was killed. This sis not the exact route that Oswald took, because he probably took a short cut.”

10th & PATTON STREETS – OAK CLIFF

“Now again, the neighborhood has always been like this, quite residential, but its probably more run down today,” says Wise. “This is the corner of Tenth and Patton. The shooting took place here, by this tree, where Tippit pulled over. He called Oswald over, then got out of the car, which I understand is bad police practice for some reason, and Oswald shot him. Somebody heard him say, ‘Poor damn cop,’ or ‘Poor dumb cop.’”

Wise also came up with another witness to the Tippit shooting years later. Jack Tatum was driving a half a block away and saw the shooting in his rear view mirror. He saw Tippit fall to the ground and the gunman shoot him again when he was on the ground. Tatum then thought, “My God, what’s going on in this city?” He took off and never told anybody, until years later.

“The proximity of al this to Ruby’s apartment is something I don’t think has gotten much attention,” Wise says, emphasizing the point. “Oswald was going in the general direction of Ruby’s apartment because there’s no way to get there in a straight line. See how close it is? It’s kind of remarkable.”

It’s about five or six blocks from the boarding house to where Tippit is shot and six more blocks to Ruby’s apartment, just across the Thornton Freeway.

 After Tippit was shot, the Warren Report claims that Oswald switched directions again.

“The Warren Commission claims that Oswald walked out of this alley, took off his jacket and left it under a car at the side of the building that is just across the street from the Hughes Funeral Home, where Tippit was laid out. There were so many police cars speeding along this street that a funeral procession had to be delayed for 20 minutes until the action died down.”

At the Hughes Funeral Home, we turn right onto Jefferson. “This is the main street of Oak Cliff,” Wise explains. “Now we’ve gone a long ways here – ten or twelve blocks. The other distance, between the rooming house and the Tippit murder scene was only five or six blocks, but now we’ve gone ten or twelve blocks. And he was walking. Now you have to put it into the context of the fact that radios were blaring out the fact that the suspect was in Oak Cliff.”

Oswald was mistakenly identified as being in the library (on the north side of Jefferson), where he was known to spend time, and a Church, which were both quickly surrounded by police.

Along a row of stores is the vestibule of what then was a shoe store where Oswald supposedly ducked in when a police car went by. The shoe store clerk thought that suspicious and watched this man go into the theater without buying a ticket. The ticket girl was standing out on the curb watching all of the police cars go by.

Also along here is the Top Ten record shop where Tippit ran in and made a quick call on the pay phone shortly before he was killed. It has never been established who he was calling.

TEXAS THEATER  

Pulling up to the curb Wise says, “Here’s the Texas Theater and the box office, which he walked passed without buying a ticket. The theater looks pretty much the same, although it was redone to accommodate Oliver Stone.”
“A World War II double feature was in progress, there were some kids in the balcony who were playing hooky from school, and fewer than a dozen patrons in the audience. At about 1:45 the ticket booth girl called the police to say that a man had entered the theater without buying a ticket, and within a few minutes no fewer than 15 police officers, two FBI agents and an assistant district attorney arrived at the theater. Some officers went to the stage with Johnny Brewer, the shoe salesman who saw a man acting suspiciously in the vestibule of his store. The houselights went up, but the film kept playing.”

“Brewer pointed out a man in the back of the theater as the officers came down the isle. Oswald was confronted, he stood up and got into a scuffle with officer McDonald, who wrestled a gun away from Oswald and punched him. ‘I’m not resisting arrest, I am not resisting arrest,’ Oswald screamed as he was dragged from the theater. Another patron was taken into a police car at the rear of the theater.”

“’I think we have our man on both counts,’ one of the arresting officers said as they pout Oswald into a patrol car.”

From the Texas Theater they took Oswald to Dallas City Hall for questioning in regards to the Tippit murder.

CAROUSEL CLUB – 1313 ½ COMMERCE STREET

On the way to City Hall you pass 1313 ½ Commerce Street, where Jack Ruby’s Carousel Club was once located, just across the street from the historic Adolphis Hotel. The area that used to be the Carousel Club is now a relatively new Bell Telephone building and a small park called Bell Plaza.

“There was a liquor store on the corner here at Commerce and Akard Streets and the Carousel Club was on the second floor,” Wise recalls. “I would take people out to dinner at the Pyramid Room at the Fairmount Hotel, one of the best places to eat, and then I’d take them to the Carousel Club. It’s just my nature to do this. I would take them from one end of the social spectrum to the other, and people would get a kick out of that.”

“You would go up these sleazy looking stairs. Most people would think you would have to knock twice and ask for Joe, but it wasn’t quite like that. You walked in and there was a type of box office where you paid an admission, a nominal fee, today it would be $4 or $5, then it was only $1 or $2. At the time, Ruby wouldn’t charge those of us in the press a cover. That was back in the days when it was perfectly acceptable for the press to get free admittance to a place like that. But I always bought my own drinks.”

Dallas is a funny city and has a lot of peculiarities,” says Wise, “and I’m very proud of it, both as a former reporter and mayor. As a reporter I was the sports anchor on TV, but I went out and did a lot of hard news too, both because I wanted to and because I could also do camera work and radio. So I cold phone in a description for the radio and take a few pictures for the TV. And at a lot of those types of hard news events I’d see Jack Ruby on the site. He was one of those guys who was always there.”

“Nobody was really close to Jack Ruby, but of those of us who did know him, it was very difficult for us to imagine him in any sophisticated conspiratorial type of thing. He wasn’t that smart, he just wasn’t that bright. People come back and say that’s the guy you would get to be a patsy or scapegoat, and that’s true. I don’t deny that, but it’s difficult for us to take that.”

“Certainly the Carousel Club wasn’t the place to go, but it was a place to go especially if you were in town for a convention. You’re in town and you say, ‘What the hell, let’s go over there to that sleazy looking place.’”

DALLAS CITY HALLDALLAS POLICE JAIL

Just down the street and around the corner from the site of the Carousel Club is the old City Hall and Dallas Police Jail.

“The old jail was on the top floor,” Wise explains. “It’s a very little, dinky place. It’s a holding tank until they can move prisoners to the county jail.”

That’s what they were doing when Ruby jumped out of the shadows and killed Oswald. They were just building the new City Hall when Wise was in office, and this is where he served as mayor from 1971 until 1976.

“I have heard some of the things that indicate Ruby may have entered through the ramp that I used to go to work everyday, or he might have gone up these steps and then down. He knew City Hall quite well, probably better than I did at the time. There is a debate as to how he got in there, but its all conjecture.”

“I think you have to have a picture of what it was like back then. First of all, there was no thing as real security back in those days. Today you have to sign in, get visitors passes and walk through metal detectors. Back then security was not like that. In addition, you had the Good Old Boys system between members of the press and the police. But we got quite a lot of good news tips that way too.”

“The most popular theory is that there was a cop out here at the top of the ramp who could have been directing traffic when Ruby slipped down the ramp. I was waiting for Oswald at the County jail, but if I had been here, I wouldn’t have been surprised at all to see Ruby. I’d have said, ‘Hi Jack,’ and he would have said, ‘Hi Wes,’ and I wouldn’t have thought anything of it. So the cop may have even recognized him and said, ‘Go ahead Jack, you’re harmless.’”

“Down the ramp there’s the doors and elevator where Oswald emerged. A car horn beeped, camera lights were on, flash bulbs lit up the scene, crowded with cops and newsmen. And Ruby jumped out of the crowd and shot Oswald in the stomach.”

EL CHINO RESTAURANT – OAK CLIFF

People may focus on President Kennedy when they think about the events of that weekend, but actually three people were killed – Kennedy, J.D. Tippit and Lee Harvey Oswald. The key to any one of those murders also unlocks the mystery of the other two.

A week to ten day after the assassination, just as things were starting to calm down, and people were getting back to their routines, TV sports anchor Wes Wise was supposed to give a talk on sports at the El Chino restaurant in Oak Cliff. The lunch and talk had been arranged weeks before, shortly after Kennedy’s visit was first announced.

“This was the El Chino restaurant,” says Wise. “It’s still a Mexican restaurant, but has a different name today. I was to give a speech on sports, but the whole town was still taking about the assassination, and they didn’t want me to talk about sports. It had been well known that I had interviewed Mrs. Paine and Mrs. Tippit and that I had the story where I traced all of Oswald’s steps, and it was pretty well known that I had talked to Ruby at the depository on the day after the assassination, so the audience, instead of talking sports, wanted my insights into the assassination.”

According to Wise, when the question and answer session began, a guy puts up his hand and says, “We have a mechanic over here at my garage, who says that he saw Lee Harvey Oswald sitting in a parked car right here in this parking lot, during that period of time right after the assassination, when radio stations were all saying that the suspect’s in Oak Cliff.”

Although Wise said he wanted to talk to him, the man noted the mechanic was a bit reluctant to talk.

As Wise puts it, “This is where my being a sports announcer was very beneficial to me in the coverage of this story, because people recognize me. So I went over there to this garage next door and met Mr. W. T. White, a nice little old man in coveralls, a regular mechanic type looking guy.”

“White said that he and his wife were watching TV on the night of the assassination when they brought Lee Harvey Oswald out at the police station. White said to his wife, ‘That’s the man I saw in the car over in the parking lot this afternoon.’”

“The car, he said, as parked against the far wall of the parking lot, behind a billboard. The car, facing Davis Street, was a ’57 Plymouth.”

“Now (he later) got the color wrong, but he got the model and the license plate number, which is an important part of the story.”

“You definitely identified him as Oswald?” Wise asked. “There’s no doubt at all. I said that to my wife, that’s the man I saw in the parking lot of the El Chino restaurant,” White responded.

White then showed Wise exactly where the car was parked and where he was standing when he walked over towards the car to watch the police cars going by at a pretty high rate of speed. He thought the guy looked suspicious, as if he were hiding or something. White said he walked closer and got a good look at him, but when the guy made some sort of motion in the car, he turned around and walked back towards the garage. He then took down the license plate number, and you can see the license plate number on my car clearly.”  

Incredulous, Wise asked White, “You took down the license number of the car? And he said, “Yea, I have it right here.”

“He reached into his shirt pocket and took out a piece of paper with the license number on it and I thought, ‘God, what have I fallen into?’”

White was still reluctant, and said, “Look, I don’t want to get into any trouble. We don’t know what this thing is all about.”

Wise said he had to use his best salesmanship. “Mr White, we’re talking about the President of the United States being assassinated here, and even for just patriotic reasons, I think you ought to let me know that number. And I’ll get together with our contacts in the FBI, and if anything comes out of this, you won’t be involved. But I can’t promise you that if something does come of it, you won’t be questioned, because I’m sure they will.”

So White handed Wise the piece of paper with the license number on it, and Wise copied the number and gave it to the FBI.

Considering the possibility it could develop into a big story, Wise told the FBI, “I said to them, ‘Look, we realize that if this turns out to be a big story, it’s everybody’s story. But we want first crack at it because we are giving you the information.’”

And the FBI agreed to that and said they would check into it. They found that a ’57 Plymouth with Texas plate number #PP 4537 was owned by one Carl Amos Mather, of 4309 Colgate Street, Garland, Texas.

According to Wise, “The FBI went out and checked it out, and what was really amazing to me was the car is right there in the driveway – a ’57 Plymouth. The mechanic may have gotten he color wrong, but he got the year, make and model right. Mr. White was an old man and might have been color blind or something.”

“They knock on the door and Mrs. Mather comes out. They ask Mrs. Mather where her husband was at the time of the assassination. She said he was working at Collins Radio, in nearby Richardson, Texas. The car, on the afternoon of Friday, November 22, at the time of the assassination, she believed, was in the Collins Radio parking lot. But later that afternoon, by 2 pm, it was at the Tippit residence. They were very close friends of J.D. Tippit, and his wife had called and said that her husband had been shot and killed, and would they please come over.”

“Now, to me, that coincidence is just mind boggling.”

“When the FBI came back to us, they played down all of this. They played it Down, Down. We asked them if they looked into it closely, but let’s put it this way – we would have thought that they would have looked into it more closely, and much more deeply than they did. The Warren Commission didn’t even interview me on this, although the House Select Committee on Assassinations did interview me, and quite extensively. They were extremely interested in it.”

When Mather sat down to dinner with Wes Wise and two CBS News editors, he was too nervous to eat. They asked him questions and tried to figure out what they too considered to be an amazing coincidence – the accused assassin of the President and a policeman, being seen in a car that belonged to a good friend of the policeman within an hour of the murder.  

Mather was interviewed by the Wise, the FBI, HSCA investigators, CBS News and researcher Larry Harris, but no one could get anything substantial out of him.

The HSCA investigator, Jack Moriarty, was an experienced big city homicide detective, but was faithful to the security oath he signed while working for the HSCA. He did say however, that he was just following the leads wherever they went, then submitted reports to Washington. The HSCA investigation he said, was tightly compartmentalized, so he didn’t know what the other investigators were doing in New Orleans or Miami. Only the committee’s chief counsel, “G. Robert Blakey knew the whole picture,” he said.

The HSCA issued a subpoena for Mather to testify under oath, giving him immunity from prosecution, but they never acted on it.  

The late Larry Harris knew more about the Tippit murder than anyone, even getting a job as a mailman just to get the neighborhood better. When Harris talked to him Mather said, “Look, I’ve talked with the FBI, to the police and the House Select Committee investigators, and I’ve told them everything. I just can’t explain it.”

According to Wise, “we tried to draw Mather out¸ but couldn’t do it. All Mather would say was, ‘put yourself in my shoes. I just can’t explain it.’”

But no one bothered to check out Mather’s alibi and go out and look more closely at Collins Radio Company of Richardson, Texas, a hornet’s nest of suspicious activity.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Dealey Plaza Cover-Story Continues


The Second Plot – the Original Cover-Story

The most recent reports about Cuban involvement in the assassination, as all other reports of the same nature, stem directly from the CIA where the original cover story for the assassination was devised as part of the plot to kill the President.

As promoted by former CIA officer Brian Latell: “The Cuban intelligence service, under the leadership of Fidel Castro, connived in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, according to a new book by a retired CIA analyst. Coming from Brian Latell, the Agency’s former national intelligence officer for Latin America, the charge is both sensational and uncorroborated, yet still important.

Latell says flatly that Castro played a role in Kennedy’s murder in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963.”

“Castro and a small number of Cuban intelligence officers were complicit in Kennedy’s death but … their involvement fell short of an organized assassination plot,” he writes in “Castro’s Secrets: The CIA and Cuba’s Intelligence Machine,” a well-footnoted polemic about Cuba’s General Directorate of Intelligence to be published next month. Latell says accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald told Cuban diplomats in Mexico City in September 1963 that he might kill JFK. Latell also speculates, without any direct evidence, that Oswald kept the Cubans apprised of his plans as he made his way to Dallas.

In JFK – The Second Plot, British author Matthew Smith explains that, “The first – main tier plot was at least simple in concept. A team of marksmen were to be assembled in various positions in the Dealey Plaza, and they were to ambush the President as his limousine made its way down Elm Street, catching him in a crossfire from which there would be no chance of survival. The second plot provided not only for the escape of the marksmen, but for the concealment of the identities of those who had sent them and for the laying of the blame at the door of Fidel Castro. It is when the detail of the second plot is understood that the framework of the entire conspiracy is exposed...”

“….So the two plots were meticulously put into operation. The team of marksmen were recruited and drilled. Weapons were prepared, heights and distances calculated in relation to motion; this was to be a once only event and it must succeed the first time. There must be no escape from it. But for all its precision and careful planning, the first plot by itself added up to a little more than a bunch of high-tech bandits laying in wait to spring an ambush on the President. All the real sophistication lay in planning and execution of the second plot. Without the second plot the shooters would have been picked up at once and those who had sent them would have been exposed. But then all was well with the second plot. It was as meticulously planned as the ambush. All the right ingredients were there and, like the first plot it was timed with great accuracy. As with the marksmen’s operation, there was no margin of error. It must dovetail with precision into the overall plan.” (JFK: The Second Plot, Mainstream Publishing, 1992, p. 265-268)

            The second plot to blame the assassination of the President on Castro was devised and put into motion well before hand, as it was patterned after the Valkyrie plot that failed to kill Hitler, retooled and revised to kill Castro, and then turned on President Kennedy.

From his defection to the Soviet Union and return home with his Russian wife to his championing of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, arrest in New Orleans with the DRE Cubans, radio debate and attempt to get a visa to Cuba during his visits to the Cuban and Soviet embassies in Mexico City, this public Oswald was reinforced by intelligence contacts that emphasized his support for Castro, almost all of which can be traced back to CIA operatives and media assets.

As more and more information came out about Oswald, the accused assassin, whether he was a shooter or the patsy he claimed to be, the Cuban and Russian angles stood out clearly, but instead of using them to mount the invasion of Cuba that JFK had refused to do, LBJ, the new President used the second plot in order to convince Chief Justice Earl Warren and the Warren Commissioners of the necessity of discounting this plot, and officially determine that the assassination was the work of a lone, demented nut-case. This is what happened even though it became known that Oswald was not a loner, nor a demented nut-case, but rather a well trained covert intelligence operative whose true allegiances were known only to those who framed him for the crime and were actually responsible for the murder of the president.

While the first plot necessitated getting both Oswald and the President to the Elm and Houston rendezvous point at the right time, the second plot also involved setting up Castro for the crime. The part of the second plot, an integral aspect of the Valkyrie plan,  involved blackmailing Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy by getting him, and the President, to sign off and approve the plan – the covert plot that originally targeted Castro.

Most conspiracy theories point to the CIA-Mafia plots that involved Sam Giancana, John Rosselli and Santo Traficante, but they began during the Eisenhower administration, before JFK assumed office, and had been officially terminated by the time the post-Missile Crisis Mongoose operations were also cancelled.

On March 30, 1963 the State Department issued a statement declaring that the United States would not support any attacks against Cuba from U.S. shores and public efforts were made to stop this activity, although a small number of covert operations were approved, designed primarily to disrupt strategic economic activities. What’s significant is the Russians knew these operations were approved and they told President Kennedy they knew when he complained about attempts to spread the Cuban revolution to the rest of Latin America. The Russians knew that some of the raids were officially approved because of the Cuban double agents that had infiltrated the operations.

Among the “unofficial” anti-Castro Cuban commando training camps that the FBI closed down was the one on Lake Pontchartrain in New Orleans, that Oswald tried to infiltrate, which had Mafia connections, and whose only participants were sent packing back to Florida on a bus. The “official” training facility in New Orleans was run by David Atlee Phillips and used buses with blacked out windows to take its students to a restricted US Navy air station.  

In early 1963 US Army Ranger Bradley Ayres was assigned to the CIA to train the Cubans who were engaged in “approved” CIA covert operations run out of JM/WAVE. William Turner first identified Gordon Campbell as the CIA officer responsible for the JM/WAVE maritime operations, and Bradely Ayres recalls working closely with a man he knew as Gordon Campbell, although official and family records indicate Gordon Campbell died in September, 1962.

According to Ayres, Campbell’s “outside” man, or assistant who would handle operational details outside of the JM/WAVE base, bore a remarkable resemblance to accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald. Ayres later realized that the operations he was associated with were somehow connected to what happened at Dealey Plaza, but he wasn’t sure exactly how.

After William Harvey and Ed Lansdale were no longer officially part of the CIA’s Cuban operations run out of the Florida JM/WAVE station, Desmond Fitzgerald assumed responsibility  for the CIA’s covert Cuban operations.

Even after William Harvey, “America’s James Bond” was relieved of his JM/WAVE duties by RFK after continuing infiltration missions during the Cuban Missile Crisis in October, 1962, Harvey and his friend John Rosselli were seen by Bradley Ayres and others at the JM/WAVE base, where Rosselli was known as “Colonel Rosselli.”

Rosselli’s cooperation with the CIA in planning covert anti-Castro Cuban operations out of JM/WAVE would not only be used to blackmail the Justice Department from indicting him and other mobsters because of their organized crime activities, it appears Rosselli was also instrumental in the second plot – which set up Oswald and Castro as the fall guys and in effect blackmailed RFK from retaliating against those responsible for his brother’s murder.

Bradley Ayres, who once accompanied his commandos on an infiltration mission to Cuba aboard the CIA mother ship the Rex, was also taken to a remote rendezvous point in the Everglades swamp where his commando team members were personally introduced to Robert F. Kennedy, who shook their hands and offered encouragement on their mission.

Ayres was to train them for their mission which, according to “Gordon Campbell,” was to destroy an oil facility on the coast, a mission that was later scrapped after the failure of a number of other, similar missions, possibly because of double-agents within their ranks.

Fitzgerald, who took over the CIA Cuban operations, was a close personal friend of Robert Kennedy. Fitzgerald was also responsible for the AM/LASH plot, an aspect of Valkyrie that attempted to get Cuban military officers to kill Castro and stage a coup, though AM/LASH was also suspected of being a double-agent.

Fitzgerald personally briefed the Joint Chiefs of Staff at a September 25, 1963 meeting chaired by Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Curtis LeMay, during which he mentions the use of the Valkyrie plan against Castro.

Fitzgerald also told LeMay and the military brass that their help might be needed if the CIA’s maritime raiders got into trouble while on a mission, especially protecting the mother ships that deposited and picked up teams of commandos who were being sent in to blow up approved industrial sites. But he noted that only five missions were planned for that fall, and if successful, all of the primary targets would have been exhausted, without mentioning the fact that the one, primary target was Castro himself, and that they were sending in teams of assassins with high powered rifles with scopes, ostensibly to be used for killing Cuban leaders.

According to the official, administrative records, the Special Group assigned to approve CIA covert operations, as well as the President and his brother the Attorney General, approved a number of anti-Castro Cuban CIA covert operations, including the infiltration of commandos to destroy select industrial targets and possibly try to kill Cuban leaders. 

In their book The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence, John Marks and Victor Marchetti wrote, “…the agency continued its relationship with its “penetrations” of Cuban exile groups – in a way reminiscent of its lingering ties with Eastern European √©migr√© organizations from the early Cold War period. And the CIA kept many of the Bay of Pigs veterans under contract, paying them regular salaries for more than a decade afterward.[ 8 LINES ELEAATED ] Time after time, the Cuban government would parade CIA-sponsored rebels before television cameras to display them and their equipment to the Cuban public and the world. Often the captives made full confessions of the agencies role in their activities. Nevertheless, the CIA kept looking for new and better ways to attack the Castro government. UNDER CONTRACT TO THE AGENCY, THE ELECTRIC BOAT DIVISION OF GENERAL DYNAMICS AT GROTON, CONNECTICUT DEVELOPED A HIGHLY MANEUVERABLE HIGH-SPEED BOAT DESIGNED FOR USE BY GUERIAL RAIDERS. THE BOAT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE FASTER THAN ANY SHIP IN THE CUBAN NAVY, AND THEREBY ABLE TO MOVE ARMS AND MEN INTO CUBA AT WILL…” (Emphasis once censored by CIA
PP. 135, 136, The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence, V. Marchetti, John Marks, Dell, 1974)

Although the original cover-story of blaming the assassination on Castro was scrapped in favor of the equally implausible deranged lone-nut scenario, Rosselli later used it to get the Justice Department from prosecuting him for his other crimes, as this memorandum details.

MEMORANDUM
March 22, 1967
To: Mr. DeLoach
From: A. Rosen
Subject: Assassination of President Kennedy
Interview w/ Edward P. Morgan (former Bureau Inspector)

“By way of background, during February, 1967, James J. Rowley, U.S. Secret Service, advised that Drew Pearson contacted Chief Justice Earl Warren concerning information in possession of Edward P. Morgan. The Chief Justice refused to see Morgan, however, it was determined Morgan alleged that former Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy organized a group to go to Cuba to kill Castro. All of this group were killed or imprisoned except one person who escaped, and subsequently, after Castro learning of the plot, decided to utilize the same procedure to kill President Kennedy and that he hired Oswald to do the job. This information allegedly came from a client of Morgan’s and the Secret Service made an appointment to talk to Morgan; however he never showed up.  On 3/17/67, Mr. Watson at the White House advised that President Johnson desired the FBI to interview Morgan concerning any knowledge he might have concerning the assassination of President Kennedy…..”

It was later determined that Morgan’s client was John Rosselli, a personal friend of William Harvey – the former FBI agent and CIA officer who was dubbed “America’s James Bond” and ran the CIA’s covert Cuban operations out of the Miami JM/WAVE station until the October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, when he was severely reprimanded by Attorney General Robert Kennedy for conducting infiltration operations during the crisis. While Harvey was reassigned to a government post in Europe, he continued his association with Rosselli and frequented the JM/WAVE station, where he was replaced at first by Ed Lansdale and at the time of the assassination by Desmond Fitzgerald. Bradley Ayers, the US Army Ranger who trained the Cubans, recalls seeing both “Colonel Rosselli” and Attorney General RFK mingling with the commandos and encouraging them on success of their officially approved mission – an aborted attempt to blow up a coastal oil refinery. Their real intent however, was the assassination of Castro, and if they failed, JFK would be the target, with the evidence indicating Castro was responsible for Kennedy’s murder.

David Kaiser, who speculates about the Mafia involvement in the assassination in The Road to Dallas (2008) writes:

….He (D. A. Phillips) rose eventually to be head of the Western Hemisphere branch of the CIA, and when he appeared before the Church Committee in 1975 he denied, falsely, that the CIA had anything to do with the overthrow of Salvador Allende in Chile two years earlier. In retirement, with several children to send through college, he launched a career as an author. His autobiography, The Night Watch (1977), was followed by a novel about intelligence, The Carlos Contract (1978), and The Great Texas Murder Trials (1979), a work of nonfiction.

At some point before his death from cancer in 1988, he wrote an outline for another novel, entitled The AMLASH Legacy, dealing specifically with the Kennedy assassination.

The outline carefully identified the characters with the real figures on which they were based: Mexico City station chief Winston Scott, HSCA investigator Gaeton Fonzi, Antonio Veciana, long-time assassination conspiracists Mark Lane and Bernard Fensterwald, and Phillips himself, who went by the name of Harold Harrison….one of two case officers who recruited Lee Harvey Oswald, helped establish his credentials as a Marxist, and then attempted to send him to Cuba through Mexico City in order to assassinate Fidel Castro, using a sniper rifle from an upper floor of a high-rise to shoot Castro in his jeep. Harrison does not know whether Oswald was a double agent, the letter continues, but this was the same plan Oswald used to kill Kennedy. Allen Dulles, the letter stated, provided Harrison and the other unidentified agent with $400,000 to set up Oswald after he succeeded in assassinating Fidel.

Yet his outline of this novel was the only document I know in existence before 1998 to suggest that Oswald might have been trying to go to Cuba to assassinate Castro. In that year, I wrote a short article to introduce the idea that - as "Leopoldo" suggested to Silvia Odio a few days before or a few days after Oswald's visit to Mexico City - Oswald's first assassination target may well have been the Cuban premier….but the plot of his novel, until the spectacular revelation at the end, tracks key events leading up to the Kennedy assassination almost perfectly.
In The Zenith Secret (VoxPop 2006, p. 86), Bradley E. Ayers wrote:

…Speeding westward along Tamiami Trail I thought about how unusual it was for Rudy to get excited about anything that was really important. As the acting chief of training, he should have gone to this meeting, buthe had deferred to me. It seemed odd, as did all the secrecy. When I asked the young driver where we were going, he replied that the trip would take slightly more than an hour; we were going to a meeting place in the Everglades. He didn’t elaborate.

We pulled into a truck stop at the junction of Tamiami Trail and Highway 27, and another man – a women who I’d never seen before – checked the license of the car and climbed in. No one spoke as we drove down the long, slightly traveled highway and eventually turned onto a dirt road bordered by a canal. After about a mile, the driver pulled over. An airboat was waiting in the canal, and in moments we were noisily skimmed across the saw grass as dusk settled over the glades. I wasn’t surprised since long ago I learned to expect the unexpected from the agency.

After nearly 30 minutes of travel across the open swampland and deep canals, we turned under some overhanging trees and pulled up to a small dock behind another airboat. A sign on one of the rotting timbers read: “Waloos Glades Hunting Camp – No Tresspassing.” It was nearly dark, but I could see two helicopters parked in the shadows. One was a military Bell H-13 with the identification numbers taped over. The other was a civilian chopper with the name of a West Palm Beach air service on the tail rotor boom.

We walked to the fire and a young man handed us cups of coffee. I had never seen any of the men before. Soon the door to one of the Quonsets swung open and four men emerged. As they moved into the circle of firelight I recognized Gordon Campbell. I had seen him only a few times since my brief meeting with him, but had been impressed with his polished, slightly flamboyant executive manner. I caught my breath at the appearance of the second man. It was the attorney general, Robert Kennedy.

The four men talked in low voices for a few minutes, and then the attorney general came over and shook hands with each of us, wishing us good luck and God’s speed on our mission.

Hell, I didn’t even know what my mission was. His white teeth flashed and sparkled, and I felt a strange sense of strength and resolve when he grasped my hand. Then he hand one of the Cubans went to the civilian helicopter, and in minutes it took off. Now I understand the need for extra secrecy. If the president felt strongly enough to send his brother, something very big was being planned. 

When the helicopter was gone, the deputy chief of station came over…

As we walked to one of the Quonsets, he said, “The reason we’ve got you here and the reason for all this secrecy is that we just got the green light from upstairs to go ahead on some of the mission we’ve been planning for some time.”

We entered the Quonset. It was brightly illuminated by several Coleman lanterns, and there were charts, maps, and other papers on a table in the center of the room. Campbell closed the door behind us and turned to face me.

“We’re very pleased with the way you’ve handled the training setup for the station so far, and we’ve made that known to your people at the Pentagon. We know it hasn’t been easy for your and your family….You’ll be happy to know that the Special Group has finally given us permission to use two-man submarines to strike Castro’s ships in the harbors. Some of your UDT people will be involved in that. And next week Rip’s boys are going to Eglin for parachute training so an airborne commando raid may not be far off. But right now we’ve got a go-ahead to hit one of the major oil refineries from on the island. All we’ve got to do is get a commando force in shape to do the job.”

So, the Special Group had finally put his interest in big business second to national interest. The president and his brother were tough, smart politicians: the elections were getting closer.

“We want you to take a commando force of 12 men and give them six weeks of the toughest, most realistic training you can….”

He pointed to a spot on the marine chart in front of him: the southern tip of Elliot Key….the Elliot Key Safehouse….

There were other more abstract questions that remained prominent in my thoughts. What about the anti-Kennedy atmosphere that prevailed, essentially in the Operations Branch under Dave Morales at JM/WAVE, and among some of the contract agents and Cuban exiles in Miami? What about Rosselli and his organized crime connections? I knew that the Kennedy Justice Department had declared war on the Mafia and that Bobby Kennedy was personally orchestrating the battle against mob kingpins. It seemed so odd to me this was going on at the same time that Rosselli had carte blanche access to JM/WAVE and enjoyed a close relationship with Morales and the station hierarchy…

In a review of Ayers book “The Zenith Secret,” one critic noted that Ayres had previously wrote a similar book, “The War That Never Was,” which was published by Bobs-Merrell.

Bobs-Merrell was a major book publisher that maintained offices at the Texas School Book Depository, where the fatal shots that killed President Kennedy were allegedly fired from. Among the items that Ayres wrote about that was inexplicitly edited out of the printed product was the part about Gordon Campbell.

The review continued, “….unfettered by the censorship, loyalties and pressures that existed within the military and clandestine services during the Cold War, Ayers has come forth to provide an insider's account of his experience with the CIA and JMWAVE in the secret war against Cuba. He offers his perceptions of the crucial 1963-1964 period when the secret war reached its peak, culminating with the death of President Kennedy, and the aftermath of the assassination at the Miami Station. Ayers book, The Zenith Secret, seeks to relate the dynamic events and personalities of that period to major developments at the national-social-political level, particularly as they reflect the influence of the CIA covert operations and former JMWAVE figures in the ensuing thirty years. Ayers' first attempt to make revelations concerning the Kennedy Administration-CIA-JMWAVE secret war against Cuba was his book titled The War That Never Was published in 1976. The book was drastically sterilized and revelations tempered by the publisher's managing editor who, on his deathbed in 1985, conceded that he had been on the CIA payroll as a literary damage control, "limited hangout" contract operative with the task of defusing books being written about the Agency. THE ZENITH SECRET, comes to the reader uncontaminated by such editings and manipulations. (Of even further relevance to the censorship and eventual distribution interference with The War That Never Was, Former CIA officer William Harvey (known widely for his involvement in early Agency plots to kill Castro as a pistol toting original Cold War "cowboy") became an editor at Bobbs-Merrill, Ayer's original publisher, following his retirement from the CIA. Ayer's was not aware of this when the publisher contacted him for this book.).”

 The Dealey Plaza Cover-Story Continues – By William Kelly

The idea that Fidel Castro and Cuba were behind the covert intelligence operation that manifested itself at Dealey Plaza and took the life of the President of the United States was instituted as part of the plan as the original cover story, which the assassins hoped would trigger a US invasion of Cuba. 

All of the sources – that is every single one of the original sources of this cover-story can be traced back to CIA personnel, agents, operatives or media assets, so it is no surprise that Brian Latell, longtime CIA official, continues to parrot the same, previously dismissed story line that Castro is somehow suspect in what happened at Dealey Plaza.

It is not Castro who we should suspect, and seek to answer outstanding questions, but the CIA.

In reviewing what Latell has written about the subject, I will dissect his article:

How the assassination of JFK put Fidel Castro in a delicate spot


The Cuban leader’s protestations that he knew nothing about Lee Harvey Oswald ring hollow.

[BK: Whenever Latell uses the word Castro or Cuban leader, if you substitute the CIA it rings true. As here, the CIA’s protestations that they knew nothing about Lee Harvey Oswald rings hollow, and we now to be false, as the CIA and other branches of the US government knew a lot about Lee Harvey Oswald, the alleged assassin and patsy in the murder of the president.]

BY BRIAN LATELL

It was only about 30 hours after John F. Kennedy’s death in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963, when Fidel Castro took to the airwaves to deny any knowledge of the president’s assassin. The Cuban leader was unequivocal about Lee Harvey Oswald: “We never in our life heard of him.”

[BK: The CIA knew from the get-go what Castro knew because they intercepted many of his communications and had the Cuban Embassy in Mexico City totally wired with electronic and photo surveillance and had doubleagents working inside. In addition, French journalist Jean Daniel had met with JFK before going to Cuba to meet with Castro and he was with Castro when news of the assassination was announced and is a first hand witness to Castro’s reaction to the murder. Daniel said Castro thought it was very bad for Cuba that Kennedy was killed, because they knew Kennedy and were talking with him, and Kennedy had asked Daniel to visit him on his return trip to report on what Castro had told him. So the idea that Castro lied when he gave a three hour speech on the assassination denying any foreknowledge of Oswald or the assassination just doesn’t hold water, unless you are the CIA and want to continue to promote the original cover story.]

Castro delivered another speech four days later at the University of Havana. A CIA assessment described it as “a carefully prepared refutation of charges of complicity . . . [with] Oswald.” Fidel insisted that he had known nothing of the assassin.

[BK: Oswald wasn’t the assassin, he was set up as a Patsy to take the fall for the real assassins, who got away.]

Speaking of Oswald’s mysterious visits to the Cuban consulate in Mexico City in late September, Castro issued a second critical denial. “We did not know about it.” Then, he went further out on that limb. “We have no other background for the accused . . . other than what has been published in the press.”

[BK: That’s exactly what the CIA said at the time, though now we know they actually knew a lot more, and were exchanging cables about Oswald’s visit and considered it a highly significant event.]

But research I have conducted over the last five years for Castro’s Secrets: The CIA and Cuba’s Intelligence Machine, my new book, reveals that in all these respects, Castro lied.

[BK: I can’t wait for the book CIA’S Secrets. Cuba’s Intelligence Machine – his G-2, had infiltrated many of the anti-Castro Cuban groups in the USA and knew that they were plotting and trying to kill Castro, and that one of those plots was turned on Kennedy at Dealey Plaza.]

Evidence I have culled from tens of thousands of pages of declassified U.S. government documents, and from the reporting of two defectors from Cuba’s General Directorate of Intelligence, the DGI, proves his duplicity beyond any doubt.

[BK: It isn’t the tens of thousands of pages of declassified U.S. government documents that have been released that matter, it is the tens of thousands of pages of CIA documents that remain sealed and may never see the light of day because they contain secrets that affect the national security of the United States, and prove CIA duplicity beyond any doubt.]

Fidel first spoke about Kennedy’s assassination for about two hours from a Havana television studio. Oswald by then had been charged with the president’s murder and also for killing a Dallas police officer less than an hour later. Fidel had no idea what the young former Marine might confess to as he was being interrogated at Dallas police headquarters, or what he might say about his contacts in Mexico City with Cuban intelligence officers. And, Castro could not be sure how much American authorities had already learned about the gunman, a professed Marxist who adored Castro and revolutionary Cuba.

[BK: The CIA had no idea what the former Marine might confess to, and Fidel certainly didn’t have Oswald, the Patsy killed, someone closer to the Dallas scene took care of that. And the real gunman got away, as Oswald was never in the Sixth Floor window.]

The Cuban leader was profoundly worried. He warned his people to be “cautious and vigilant and alert,” describing the assassination as a “dangerous Machiavellian plot against Cuba.” The CIA reported that the speech reflected his “apprehension that U.S. policy toward Cuba may now become even tougher.”

[BK: He certainly was worried about the US invasion of Cuba, and with just cause.]

‘A DIRTY MANEUVER WAS AFOOT’
It was known in Washington that “immediately after the news of President Kennedy’s death,” Castro ordered an island-wide “defensive military alert.” By nightfall, Cuban military units had been deployed to strategic positions around Havana and on the north coast. American intelligence had intercepted Cuban communications showing that Fidel “was frightened” the United States “might invade.”

Che Guevara expressed acute alarm in a speech a day after Fidel first spoke. He warned that “the peace of the world will be threatened for years to come.” The Cuban Communist Party newspaper summed up the fear festering at the highest levels of the regime: “A dirty maneuver was afoot . . . making Cuba the perpetrator of the crime.”

These were not paranoid overreactions. The regime knew that while in Mexico City Oswald had tried to defect to Cuba so he could become a warrior for the bearded man he worshipped. The assassin was known to Cuban intelligence as a radical militant who had previously defected to the Soviet Union where he lived and married.

[BK: First Oswald “adores” Castro, now he “worshipped” him, and indeed Oswald did say that Marxism was his religion, and was known to Cuban G2 as a radical militant, certainly not crazy or a loner, but those he affiliated with were right-wing and pro-Castro Cubans.]

He had been arrested that summer in New Orleans after handing out pro-Cuban leaflets and engaging in a street brawl with anti-Castro exiles, whose group he had apparently tried to infiltrate.

[Yes, the DRE, but Latell can’t say that, even though he knows that the CIA is in court trying to keep the DRE records from being released and open to the public.]

Cuban intelligence knew that in New Orleans he had created a notional chapter of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee — a pro-Castro cheerleading group headquartered in New York. Oswald claimed that the fictitious A. J. Hidell was his chapter’s president. Hidell, the alias Oswald used to purchase the rifle he fired at Kennedy, was devised to rhyme with Fidel.
[BK: Actually Oswald knew a Hidell in the USMC who lived in New Orleans at the time, though it most certainly was an alias, and alias are used by covert operators and not by idiots or lone nuts.]

Much more eventually became known about Oswald’s Cuba obsessions. He had tried to persuade his pregnant wife to help him hijack a plane to the island, so, she recalled him saying, he could fight for “Uncle Fidel.” She later said Castro “was his hero . . . he was a great admirer . . . in some kind of revolutionary mood . . . he would be happy to work for Fidel Castro’s causes.”

[BK: Yes, just as Oswald tried to infiltrate the DRE in New Orleans, he was seen in Dallas with “Maurice Bishop,” aka David Atlee Phillips, who was responsible for CIA’s Cuban operations and specifically for infiltrating the FPCC, so Oswald was happy to work for Fidel’s causes, but actually as a double-agent for Phillips.]

TELLTALE TALK FROM A TRUSTED SOURCE

The first reliable indication that Fidel lied about his knowledge of Oswald came from Vladimir Rodriguez Lahera — codenamed AMMUG by the CIA. He was described by a top Agency officer as “an operational gold mine” when, in April 1964, he was the first to defect from the DGI. Rodriguez had worked at its headquarters in Havana and briefly at its Mexico City Center.

He told his CIA handler that Castro had lied when he publicly denied any knowledge of Oswald. In fact, Rodriguez reported that “before, during and after” Oswald’s visits to the Cuban consulate, “he was in contact” with the DGI. It is not clear that any of this incriminating information from a proven and trusted source was shared with the Warren Commission that investigated Kennedy’s murder. Rodriguez’s CIA files were not declassified until the 1990s.

[BK: Of course the CIA said all along that the accused assassin and designated Patsy had ties to the DGI, Castro’s G2, as well as the Russian KGB in Mexico City, but the Warren Commission instead opted to portray the accused assassin and Patsy as a lone-nut and therefore what happened at Dealey Plaza was the act of a deranged gunman and not a covert operation.]

Another reliable covert source, an American Communist Party member recruited by the FBI to report on his contacts with communist bloc leaders, provided reliable information showing that Castro had known of Oswald’s hatred of Kennedy weeks before the assassination. Jack Childs, with his brother Morris and their wives, were codenamed Operation SOLO. Jack met with Castro in Havana in May, 1964.

[BK: Oswald didn’t hate Kennedy, as his wife, and everyone who knew him said that he liked and admired Kennedy and only disagreed with him over his Cuban policy.]

Fidel told him that when Oswald was departing the Cuban consulate in Mexico, he shouted, “I’m going to kill Kennedy. . .” Strangely, the FBI report of this conversation was never properly shared with the Warren Commission and remained TOP SECRET for another 30 years. A related document drafted by the FBI office in New York that I discovered last year at the National Archives substantially adds to the accuracy of what Childs reported. I am not aware that any of its contents were ever shared with Kennedy assassination investigators.

[BK: A number of incidents, including Oswald imposters, indicated that he threatened to kill the President or the Secretary of the Navy, none of which sparked a Secret Service Protective Service Section investigation or put Oswald on a watch list, as any other threat to the president would.]

FIDEL GETS EARFUL FROM HIS CONSULATE

The report quoted Childs saying that “Castro had been “in a very good mood, and was not under the influence of liquor” when they met. Fidel had spoken “in broken English” and FBI director J. Edgar Hoover was told “there is no question as to the accuracy of what he said [because] the informant indicated that he had made notes at the time Castro was talking and he had scribbled down what he considered important.”

Jack learned that “Castro received the information about Oswald’s appearances at the Cuban consulate, because he was told about it immediately.” Fidel spoke to him “on the basis of facts given to him by his embassy personnel, who dealt with Oswald, and apparently made a full, detailed report.” That Castro had publicly lied about that went unnoticed by American government specialists.

[BK: That Castro learned of Oswald’s visits to the Cuban Embassy in Mexico City before the CIA did is hard to believe, and those Cubans who dealt with Oswald later failed to identify him as the man killed by Jack Ruby. So who was that who visited the Cuban embassy in Mexico City and threatened to kill the President if it wasn’t Oswald?]

Remarkably, another confirmation of Fidel’s deceptions came from a most unlikely source. Alfredo Mirabal, known to his colleagues by the alias “Eulogio,” was the incoming DGI chief in Mexico City and was present when Oswald visited. Mirabal was described by the defector Rodriguez Lahera as an experienced intelligence officer. In Mexico they had worked together plotting subversive operations in El Salvador.

Mirabal was interviewed by members of the House of Representatives Select Committee on Assassinations in 1978. In an oddly unguarded moment, he admitted that he had prepared a report on Oswald for his headquarters. Apparently he did not realize that he was contradicting what his commander in chief had solemnly claimed years earlier. As far as I can tell, this revealing error was never noticed by previous researchers.

[BK: The CIA said that it had no records on Oswald until after the assassination, which we now know to be false since we have many documents that show that they certainly did have records on Oswald before the assassination, some very incriminating. The Cuban G2 met with COPA researchers in the Bahamas and shared with them the records and reports that they had on Oswald and the Cubans suspected of complicity in the assassination, so it is hard to believe they didn’t know what was in their own files.]

So there can be no doubt: Castro lied egregiously. He knew truths about Kennedy’s assassin that for nearly 49 years he has refused to reveal.

[BK: So there can be no doubt: the CIA lied egregiously. They knew truths about Kennedy’s alleged assassin and Patsy and after 49 years are fighting in court to keep these truths secret from the American people].

What were his motives for gambling he could get away with such a big lie?

[BK: What are the CIA’s motives for gambling that they can get away with such a big lie we know is false – that Castro was behind the Dealey Plaza operation?]

Self-preservation was surely the overriding objective.

[BK: Self-preservation is surely the overriding objective, because if was publicly known that the CIA helped engineer the cover-up and frame the Patsy for the assassination, certainly their very existence as an organization and institution would be threatened.]

He had good reason to worry that emotions in the United States after Kennedy’s death were so inflamed that any evidence, even as CIA analysts wrote, “the imputation” of Cuban involvement, could lead to war.

[BK: That was the idea behind framing Oswald, the fake Castro lover, in the first place, and the reason why LBJ and the Warren Commission decided to go with the deranged lone-nut scenario rather than the one they knew to be true – that the President was a victim of a covert operation and the perpetrators were permitted to go free.]

He knew he had to calm the ferocious anti-Kennedy hatreds that he had previously stoked in Cuba. The first reaction of many of his followers was to celebrate Kennedy’s death. A CIA source on the island reported that spontaneous outbursts occurred at workplaces and neighborhood defense committees.

[BK: This sounds like the Jews who celebrated 9/11, a false attempt to implicate, and one that rings hollow and untrue.]

In Mexico City, a still mysterious DGI agent was overheard by the CIA rejoicing in a telephone conversation. When told the news by an unidentified caller an hour after the assassination, she exclaimed, How great!” Then, mistakenly informed that “Kennedy’s brother and his wife were also injured,” she laughed and again blurted out, “How great!”

[BK: But Castro himself, as we know from Jean Daniel, who was with him at the time, was very concerned and said that the assassination of the president was bad for him and Cuba. And if that what this is about, how come Latell doesn’t even mention it? Because it doesn’t fit in with his CIA agenda to promote the original cover story.]

TOO RISKY TO KEEP GOADING AMERICANS

Fidel knew he had to go public to establish new policy and propaganda guidelines. Orders prohibiting “manifestations of pleasure” were issued. He began referring to Kennedy with respect, even deference. He knew it was too dangerous to continue goading the American people as Kennedy was being mourned nearly everywhere else in the world.

But the most compelling reason for Fidel’s decision to put forth such now transparent lies is that he knew Oswald was going to shoot at Kennedy that morning. And he chose to remain silent.

[BK: Oswald didn’t shoot Kennedy and Castro didn’t know that morning that Kennedy would be shot, and chose to remain silent, but others, in the CIA and US national security state, certainly did.]

Florentino Aspillaga, a highly decorated Cuban intelligence officer who defected in 1987, told me Castro knew in advance that Oswald would shoot at Kennedy. Aspillaga is a source who proved so reliable to American intelligence that one retired officer told me “his value as a defector was as good or better than any the CIA ever had anywhere. If he had been a Soviet, it would have been the best by far we had in our entire history.”
I believe Florentino Aspillaga had it right: “Fidel knew.”

[BK: Aspillaga worked at the Cuban-Russian electronics intercept station at Lourdes, and was instructed to listen for AF1 radio communications out of Texas, where the President was known to have been visiting, so it would be natural for them to listen there. And if they did, they might have tapes of the uncensored AF1 radio transmissions that our own government has managed to tape and then lose. For Latell to take that fact and extend it to proof the Cubans knew JFK would be killed is a stretch. Fidel may have known JFK was in Texas, but it is not proof he knew JFK would be killed, unless you are a CIA asset who wants to promote that fairy tale.]


About the Author
BRIAN LATELL began tracking Cuba for the CIA in the early 1960s. Today, as Senior Research Associate at the Institute for Cuban and Cuban American Studies at the University of Miami, he continues as one of the most distinguished and frequently quoted experts. For a quarter century he taught Cuba and Latin America as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University. A former National Intelligence Officer for Latin America and Director of the CIA's Center for the Study of Intelligence, he has written for the Washington Post, Miami Herald, Wall Street Journal, Time, and many other American and international publications. His After Fidel has been published in eight languages.

Editorial Reviews
Review

“An insider's look at Castro's Cuba, and its tortured relationship with America, from one of the most knowledgeable Cuba experts around. Brian Latell draws on exclusive interviews with Cuban spies and troves of declassified documents to provide the most authoritative account yet of the decades-long U.S. Cuba intelligence war.”--Michael Dobbs, author of One Minute to Midnight: JFK, Khrushchev, and Castro on the Brink of Nuclear War

“I have been waiting more than 35 years for this book. Since my service as a member of the Senate’s Church committee I have never believed Fidel Castro’s denials of prior knowledge of the Kennedy assassination. Brian Latell has performed a national service by writing a book that lays bare the duplicity of the Cuban government.”--Robert Morgan, former US Senator

"No one knows more about Cuban intelligence than Brian Latell. In this page-turner, he not only tells compelling stories that reveal the strength of Cuban actions in Le Carre's world of spy vs. spy but raises unsettling questions about Lee Harvey Oswald's Cuban connections. By the end, the reader is asking, What did Fidel know and when did he know it?"--Timothy Naftali, Blind Spot: The Secret History of American Counterterrorism

"A remarkable look at Fidel Castro's intelligence machine. This is a must read for anyone curious about the long history of Fidel Castro's intelligence preoccupation with the U.S. "--Frederick P. Hitz, former Inspector General of CIA and author of The Great Game 

“Castro’s Secrets is a must read for anyone who cares about how JFK died, how Fidel Castro lied to a congressional investigating committee, and whether the CIA is still covering up crucial knowledge.”--G. Robert Blakey, Former Chief Counsel and Staff Director to the House Select Committee on Assassinations

"In this provocative book, Brian Latell brings to bear all his experience and knowledge as a former intelligence analyst on Cuba for the CIA. This is a book that should be read, regardless of whether one agrees with Latell about Castro’s complicity in JFK’s assassination."-- Max Holland, author of The Kennedy Assassination Tapes