Monday, July 3, 2017

Veciana - 'Bishop' - Phllips and Virginia Prewett

    Here attached - very delayed, for which apologies - the "Afterword" I did about the Veciana/Philliops/"Bishop"/Prewett matter.

    I suspect you've taken most of it on board already. What I notice seems to be missing from what I published, though, is the way I happened to get to the woman I name on p. 529 only as "Fabiola".

    Several interviews into my sessions with Veciana, I decided to go for broke and risk making him angry. I had repeatedly asked him for any detail that might confirm that the name used by his contact had been "Bishop". Late one night, I told him flat out that others - including me - would have to conclude that he was lying (about the pseudonym "Bishop"). When I said that, Veciana briefly looked angry, then heistated, then said "Come with me". He led me up to a sort of half-landing with an access door to a area you might call a loft - boxes and suitcases strewn about. After some effort, he then found what I recall as an old shoebox, filled with scraps of paper and business card,. He rifled through the box, then finally located what he was looking for. It bore the name and phone number of a woman working in Puerto Rico and told me to follow up if I could.

    If I correctly recall, he had never given this woman's name to Gaeton - and I don't think I then or ever shared it with Gaeton.

    I flew as soon as I possibld could from Miami to Puerto Rico - it may have been the following morning. On arrival at the woman's office there - the Labor Department I think - I did not announce myself, just talked with the receptionist, found out when staff left for lunch, and waited about. Prompted by me, the receptionist pointed out the relevant woman amongst the crowd as they left the building. I told her at once of the interest. She looked briefly puzzled, then said with apparently spontenous puzzlement and surprise, "Oh, Antonio, Antonio....." Then, over coffee, she responded as reported in the attached material on pp.529 to 530 - which led me to Prewett. Prewett, as I also reported - just short of libeling her - turned out to be transparently lying...

    What I am here trying to get over is that Veciana's reaction to my suggestion that he was lying seemed - and in memory still seems - so spontaneous and genuine. And "Fabiola"'s was too. Though I could of course be wrong, I really do not think Veciana had phoned to prime her for my visit. (I had not, by the way, told him I was about to fly to Puerto Rico to follow up - rather, I made a point of saying I was headed somewhere else re. something else...)

     I hope this is useful for background.

In Chapter 25 (p. 529) of Anthony Summers’ Not In Your Lifetime, and update of his previously published book Conspiracy, he writes an 

Afterword: The Continuing Search for “Maurice Bishop”

“There was no systematic interrogations of relevant CIA officers who might have further confirmed the use of the name ‘Bishop.’ The Committee failed to follow up on a key lead provided by Veciana – the identity of a prominent Cuban who may have originally proposed Veciana to ‘Bishop’ as a promising candidate for CIA recruitment. The Cuban’s name was known to the Committee, and is known to this author. Other leads received cursory treatment.”

“The Committee never tried to trace a vital witness whose name was provided by Veciana months before the Committee wound up its inquiry. Veciana had spoken, from the start, of a go-between whom he had used during his association with ‘Bishop.’ He explained that, in line with intelligence tradecraft, ‘Bishop’ had always initiated their clandestine meetings, either by telephoning direct, or through a third person who always knew how to reach Veciana. Veciana was long reluctant to identify his third party, but finally did so – providing an odd, invalid address in Puerto Rico. In 1980 I did follow up on the lead, and tracked down the Veciana – ‘Bishop’ go-between. This proved to be the first independent corroboration that Veciana really was in touch with someone called ‘Bishop.’”

“The person who helped arrange meetings between ‘Bishop’ and Veciana was a women, a prim grandmother in her fifties, who works as a minor functionary in a U.S. government administrative department. She has requested anonymity, and will be identified here only as ‘Fabiola,’ a Cuban exile who left Havana in the autumn 1961. She worked, until that year, as Veciana’s secretary at the Banco Financiero, and was there at the time Veciana claims he was recruited by ‘Bishop.’ While she says Veciana never mentioned a CIA contact, Fabiola recalls details which fit his story. She recalls a time when Veciana started going to ‘language courses’ in the evenings. Veciana, in his earliest interviews, spoke of attending nightly U.S. intelligence briefings in an office building which housed, on the first floor, the Berlitz School of Languages. Fabiola says she did become aware that Veciana was involved in subversive activities. He once produced the huge sum of a half a million dollars, which he asked her to safeguard until he retrieved it…”

“He asked her to act as an answering service for him when he was traveling, and in the months to come Fabiola became familiar with the name of a caller from the mainland United States. The name was ‘Bishop.’ When I interviewed Fabiola I threw out a number of names, including that of ‘Bishop.’ ‘Bishop’ was the only name to which she responded, and it stirred in her the memory of another name. ‘Bishop’ is firmly linked in Fabiola’s mind with a second person – ‘Prewett.’ For her the two names are so definitely associated that at first she had difficulty remembering which was which. 

Fabiola says both individuals telephoned Veciana over the same period, and she understood that they were associated with one another. She believed both ‘Bishop’ and ‘Prewett’ were connected with an American news publication, based on the East Coast. Finally, she recalls that ‘Prewett’ was female.”

“A check of American press directories turned up Virginia Prewett, a Washington journalist who has specialized in Latin American affairs all her life. She has written extensively about the struggle between Fidel Castro, whom she characterizes as a ‘betrayer,’ and the Cuban exiles, whom she describes as ‘patriots.’ In the summer of 1963 Prewett attended a conference on Cuba co-sponsored by Freedom House and the Citizen’s Committee for a Free Cuba. Her report on the conference, later inserted in the Congressional Record, began by quoting a call by Freedom House ‘to remove both Fidel Castro and the Soviet presence from Cuba without delay.’ For many years, Prewett wrote for the North American Newspaper Alliance (NANA), a syndication organization founded by Prewett’s friend Ernest Cuneo, also a member of the Committee for a Free Cuba….”

“In spring 1963, seven months before the Kennedy assassination, Prewett was assailing the administration for its opposition to the raids mounted against Cuba by Antonio Veciana’s Alpha 66 guerrillas. On April 2, in the Washington Daily News, Prewett lambasted a Kennedy spokesman who had ‘called the daring and gallant Alpha 66 raids on Cuba irresponsible acts.’ Prewett called this ‘an all-time low in pronouncement of U.S. foreign policy,’ and mocked the notion that ‘unless we stop the Alpha 66 raids against Communist Cuba, there’ll be nuclear conflict.’ Three weeks later, after President Kennedy ordered strong measures against would-be exile raiders, Prewett rushed to support the exile leadership and berated the Kennedy White House for assuming it had ‘carte blanche to create a foreign policy outside the nation’s popular consent.’ These Prewett articles were read into the Congressional Record.”

“The Alpha 66 raids, which so embarrassed President Kennedy and which pleased Virginia Prewett, were the very attacks which – according to Alpha 66 leader Veciana – were carried out on specific instructions from CIA officer ‘Maurice Bishop.’ As Veciana tells it, ‘Bishop’s’ intention was to cause further trouble between Kennedy and Russia – within months of the Missile Crisis which had brought the world to the brink of nuclear war. His purpose was ‘to put Kennedy against the wall in order to force him to make decisions that will remove Castro’s regime.’”

In the company of a Washington Post reporter, I talked to Virginia Prewett in 1980. She agreed that she had contact with Alpha 66 in the early sixties, and accepted that Alpha 66 was ‘probably ‘ backed by the CIA – even if its leaders were not formally told so. Prewett made it clear she was once familiar with the work of the group’s leader, Veciana, and asked, ‘Where is he now?’”

“Later in the interview, however, she said she had never met Veciana. Veciana, for his part, says he did know Prewett, and refers to her as ‘Virginia.’ He assets he met her at her hotel in Puerto Rico more than once, and ‘probably’ in Washington.’ When the name ‘Bishop’ was first raised with Prewett, in the context of the CIA and Cuba, she said, ‘Well, you had to move around people like that.’”

“When the name came up again, she said, ‘I didn’t personally know him,’ and later, in response to a direct question, she said she did not know ‘Bishop.’ Prewett also said she had never met David Phillips. Phillips – asked about Prewett – contradicts her. He says he once knew Prewett quite well, specificallyl recalling meetings in the Dominican Republic.”

“And there, as this edition goes to press, the matter rests. Few can now doubt that there was a ‘Maurice Bishop,’ and that he manipulated Veciana for a U.S. intelligence agency over many years. Veciana’s allegations about ‘Bishop’ in connection with the Kennedy case remains just that – allegations. They are, however, deeply troubling.”

“It is of great importance that ‘Bishop’ be unmasked and investigated – with all due consideration for the national security and for ‘Bishop’s’ personal safety as one who was once active in intelligence.”

“It is getting late, but if the American people are ever to put the Kennedy assassination behind them, this – like other serious issues in the case – must be resolved.”

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