Friday, March 22, 2019

Phil Shenon at it Again - Promoting the Castro Cover Story

Putting Phil Shenon and his theories into a proper perspective. 

Phil Shenon is unlike Gus Russo, Bob Baer, Brian Latell, Carlos Bringuier and Max Holland, all former CIA officers, agents and assets who promote the official cover-story for the Dealey Plaza Operation - Oswald did it alone but Castro encouraged and manipulated him. Phil Shenon is supposed to be a reputable former New York Times reporter and otherwise respected journalist but who parrots the party line even though he doesn't have the clear connections that make him a certifiable disinformation agent like the others have. 

Shenon says that he himself was encouraged by anonymous  former Warren Commission attorney to take on this story - shunned by most in the mainstream media as a career killer. While John Newman suspects the anonymous WC attorney was the late Arlen Specter, I believe it was Sam Stern, a former Warren Commission attorney whose House Select Committee on Assassinations interview I consider Smoking Document #2 - for a number of reasons. 

Shenon is clear that he is not interested in the truth behind the assassination, he accepts the false fact that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone shooter, and is only interested in the well debunked cover-story that Castro was behind Oswald and the assassination,which is  part of a clearly defined disinformation campaign that was designed to deceive those who purse the actual killers. 

As an introduction to this false story - designed to deceive, Shenon focuses on a former State Department official who learned of and reported on a Mexico City "Twist Party" where Oswald was encouraged to kill JFK by Cuban embassy officials at the home of Sylvia Duran, a Cuban embassy employee who did deal with Osawld when he was seeking a visa to Cuba. 

Shenon mentions that also attending the Twist Party were two American Gringos, one of whom was a film actor, who were close to Oswald at the party and were seen with him walking on the street the next morning. While Duran refused to identify the American film actor, who she apparently knew well, because he was still alive and she wanted to protect him. 

The recent records released under the JFK Act include a CIA report on a wiretap of the Cuban Embassy in Mexico City that picked up a post assassination phone call from Richard Beymer asking specifically for Sylvia Duran. When told she was not there, he asks how she was, indicating that he knew she was taken into custody by the Mexican police and was tortured. He also asks if she was home - implying he knew where she lived. 

When I contacted Bymer he claimed he didn't remember a Twist Party but that was something he and his friend would have done, as they were young, single, footloose Americans below the boarder, and he didn't know or remember Sylvia Duran. His traveling companion, Bradley Pierce, a New York City bar owner who became a Catholic Priest, recalled to me that they were in Mexico for only a few weeks and were there at the time of the assassination - so they couldn't have attended a Twist Party when Oswald was officially there a month earlier. 

Father Bradley recently passed away, but not before I talked with him, a good man who I wanted to meet to learn the story of how a bar owner became a priest. 

When his book was published Shenon was featured on National Public Radio (NPR) "Fresh Air" program with Dave Davies, who asked Shenon if he cooperated with other assassination researchers, and Shenon responded by saying he tried, but they won't accept him because he doesn't agree with their conspiracy theories. 

Well there is a tight knit network of assassination researchers who do cooperate and share information and discoveries, but it isn't their conspiracy theories Shenon disagrees with, it's that they don't buy Shenon's completely debunked conspiracy theory that Castro was behind what happened at Dealey Plaza. 

Now why won't Dave Davies interview any of those assassination researchers who do agree and cooperate and write books - some of whom have signed on to the Ten Points of Agreement manifesto - including David Talbot (Who DD did interview for "Brothers"), John Newman, Peter Dale Scott, Lisa Pease, Dick Russell, Joan Mellen, Jefferson Morley, et al. - there are many others. Why can't they get equal air time to refute Phil Shenon's nonsense. 

Thanks to Andrew Kreig for calling attention to this WP article. 

You can read my review of Shenon's book "A Cruel and Shocking Twist" at Lobster and 

The Full WP article: 

 Philip Shenon (author of A Cruel and Shocking Act, from which some of this obituary is drawn), March 22, 2019 (printed). 

By Philip Shenon

March 20 2019

Cynthia Thomas once thought that she had solved the most confounding mystery of her life — why her late husband, a respected career diplomat, was abruptly fired by the State Department in 1969. His dismissal plunged her husband, Charles, into a severe depression and, she was certain, led him to kill himself two years later at 48.

Mrs. Thomas, who went on to her own diplomatic career and who died March 13 at 82, said the images and sounds of the suicide never left her thoughts, at least not for long.

On April 12, 1971, her husband put a gun to his right temple in the second-floor bathroom of the couple’s rented home in Washington. Mrs. Thomas, downstairs, thought at first that the boiler had exploded.
His firing by the State Department — he had been “selected out,” in the agency’s Orwellian language of the era — shattered Charles, his widow said.

A self-made man, he was orphaned as a boy in Texas and raised by a sister in Fort Wayne, Ind., before joining the Navy and flying fighter planes in World War II. Despite his more hardscrabble roots, the 6-foot, preppily handsome Charles moved easily among the blue-blooded Ivy Leaguers at the State Department during his postings across Africa and Latin America. For 18 years, he had received glowing evaluations.

“It was nonsensical,” Mrs. Thomas once told this reporter of his dismissal. “Charles was the best sort of American diplomat.” But they discovered they had almost no means of appeal. The department then had a strict up-or-out promotion policy for diplomats — either you were promoted, or you were “selected out.”

Charles Thomas found it difficult to launch a new career, his wife said, in part because he insisted on telling potential employers that he had been dismissed by the State Department short of a pension. To pay the bills, Mrs. Thomas occasionally catered neighbors’ parties, and Charles would deliver the food. The day he died, three more job-rejection letters had arrived in the mail.

His death left Mrs. Thomas nearly penniless and with two young children. She had a single physical asset of value — a beaten-up 1966 Plymouth sedan worth $500 — and $15,000 in debts, including $744.02 for her husband’s burial.

But she was also left with a mission, she said. Within weeks of her husband’s death, she mounted a one-woman lobbying campaign on Capitol Hill for an explanation of why his career had been derailed — what had put him on the path to ending his life.

With the help of outraged lawmakers, she got an answer. A State Department investigation in the mid-1970s showed he was dismissed because of a clerical mistake — the misfiling of his personnel records, including an especially flattering review from his final foreign posting at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico. That evaluation described him as “one of the most valuable officers” in the diplomatic corps.

A federal lawsuit filed on behalf of the family — and pressure from Congress and Charles Thomas’s former colleagues — forced the department to overhaul its error-plagued promotions system. A grievance board was established that allowed department employees to appeal the rulings of promotions boards. A set of other formal worker protections was put in place.

Mrs. Thomas might have taken comfort from what she accomplished for her late husband and future diplomats. In 1975, she received a formal letter of apology from President Gerald R. Ford: “I can only hope that the measures which came about as a result of this tragedy will prevent re-occurrences of this kind in the future.”

But the mysteries would never end for Mrs. Thomas.

Declassified government files released in the 1990s suggested to her and her family — and to some historians and researchers who have studied the case — that her husband’s career was ended to stop him from continuing to raise unwelcome questions inside the government about the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy: specifically, about whether the assassin Lee Harvey Oswald had accomplices in Mexico, where Charles Thomas was posted from 1964 to 1967. The misfiling of his personnel records, his family suspected, may have been intentional.

In recent years, Mrs. Thomas, who retired from the State Department in 1993, readily conceded that the idea of a connection between her husband’s dismissal and unanswered questions about Kennedy’s death might sound “crazy.” She dreaded being branded an assassination conspiracy theorist.

The long-classified State Department and CIA documents show that her husband alarmed his superiors in the late 1960s by pressing for a new investigation that might have pointed to a conspiracy in Kennedy’s death. It was a plot, he suspected, that had been hatched on Mexican soil and somehow involved officials of the communist government of Cuba.

Charles Thomas had identified witnesses in Mexico who said they had seen Oswald there weeks before the assassination in the company of Cuban spies and diplomats and that some of them had spoken openly of their hopes that Kennedy would be killed. Oswald, a self-declared Marxist and champion of Cuban leader Fidel Castro, had been in the Mexican capital apparently to obtain a visa for travel to Cuba.

Their account, if true, suggested to Thomas that Oswald may have had accomplices in Mexico who encouraged him to kill Kennedy, a theory that undermined the 1964 finding of the Warren Commission that there was no evidence of a conspiracy, foreign or domestic, in the president’s death.

The declassified documents — including a letter that Thomas wrote to Secretary of State William P. Rogers in 1969, the year that Thomas’s personnel files were misplaced — show that superiors repeatedly rebuffed Thomas in his pleas for a new investigation of what had happened in Mexico.

Over the years, former senior officials of both the CIA and FBI have acknowledged publicly that Oswald’s six-day trip was never adequately investigated.

The CIA’s in-house historian conceded in a 2013 report that the spy agency had engaged in a “benign cover-up” to hide “incendiary” information from the Warren Commission to keep the commission focused on “what the Agency believed at the time was the ‘best truth’ — that Lee Harvey Oswald, for as yet undetermined motives, had acted alone in killing John Kennedy.”

“It all seems so bizarre and complicated, like an awful spy novel from the Cold War,” Mrs. Thomas said in 2017 when her family urged President Trump to meet a legal deadline that year for the release of thousands more government files relating to the assassination. “My daughters and grandchildren deserve answers. I hope President Trump will give us that.” Trump disappointed her that year when he extended the deadline to at least 2021.

Cynthia Robinson was born in Providence, R.I., on July 20, 1936, the youngest of four children. Her father was an accountant, and her mother left a career as an opera singer when she married.

After graduating from Sarah Lawrence College in 1958, Cynthia moved to Manhattan and began working as a researcher at Time magazine while pursuing an acting career. She appeared in two off-Broadway shows staged by the Living Theatre acting company.

In 1964, she was introduced to Charles Thomas, then 41, through a mutual friend. The couple married within weeks and moved to Mexico, where Thomas had just taken up a post as a political officer. A year after their arrival, their daughter Zelda was born.

In 1975, Congress passed a so-called private bill that posthumously restored Charles Thomas to active duty in the Foreign Service, a designation that entitled his family to the salary and benefits he would have earned in the years since his death. They totaled about $51,000. Cynthia was invited to join the State Department, and she went on to serve as a political officer in India and Thailand. She never remarried.

She settled in Washington in retirement. In 2016, suffering from rheumatoid arthritis and other severe health problems, she moved into her daughter’s home in Minneapolis and died there, said Zelda Thomas-Curti.
In addition to her daughter, survivors include a stepdaughter, Jeanne-Marie Thomas of Rome; and three grandchildren.

In 2013, at a friend’s urging, Mrs. Thomas returned to the Washington bank where she had stored her husband’s old black-leather briefcase in a safe-deposit box. Inside the case was Ford’s signed letter of apology on embossed White House stationery.

Asked to read the letter out loud, she found that the tears overwhelmed her and asked the friend to do it for her.

“The circumstances surrounding your husband’s death are a source of deepest regret to the government he served so loyally and so well,” the president had written. “There are no words that can ease the burden you have carried all these years.”

Shenon, a Washington-based journalist, is author of the 2013 book “A Cruel and Shocking Act: The Secret History of the Kennedy Assassination.”

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