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On 11/7/2018 at 11:41 PM, David Josephs said:

... thx for not including Mexico City... dj

Uhm, at least tangentially related to the sometimes touchy subject of You-Know-Who in Mexico City (cough!): I have just completed a long and exhausting slog through Jefferson Morley's Our Man in Mexico: Winston Scott and the Hidden History of the CIA.  One of the book's more memorable quotes is taken from Scott's post-retirement memoir "It Came to Little" - over half of which is, to this day, redacted by the CIA:

"Above all, [the clandestine intelligence operations officer] must know and realize that almost all agents are knaves, in the worst sense of the word.  But, he must treat them as if he thought them gentlemen." (Our Man in Mexico, p. 281)

FWIIW, ML

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<< I have just completed a long and exhausting slog through Jefferson Morley's Our Man in Mexico: Winston Scott and the Hidden History of the CIA. >>

Hi Mark,

This one's on my list -- now that you're done, was it worth the "long and exhausting slog?"

Tom

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23 hours ago, Tom Neal said:

... [Jefferson Morley's Our Man in Mexico: Winston Scott and the Hidden History of the CIA is] on my list -- now that you're done, was it worth the "long and exhausting slog?"

That's not an easy question to answer, Tom, but I'll try by offering you a tepid "yes."  The book was published in early 2008, and considerable new source information has been released since then; but it does seem that Morely establishes a factual account of Scott.  It was hard for me to imagine liking the CIA less than I did at the time I began reading this book, but that has indeed been the result.  Winston Scott himself has turned out to be someone I find extremely hard to admire, and many of these players seem to me more adept at blatant criminality - hidden, or at least protected by, "color of law" - than they are at gathering and analyzing actionable intelligence.

During Scott's unusually long tenure as station chief there - nearly 13 years, compared to the usual four - Mexico City was considered to be one of the CIA's best and most important stations, hosting both Soviet and Cuban embassies and consulates that were vulnerable to US espionage - thanks in large part to the complicit and accommodating Mexican government and its corrupt, oppressive security apparatus, the DFS.  Even with this comprehensive access, Scott and his station were at the epicenter of what may have been one of the most important intelligence failures in CIA history: choosing not to disclose to HQ the contacts of one or more "Oswald" characters with the Cuban consulate; and missing altogether some alleged extra-consular "socializing" between "Oswald" and consulate employee (and Mexican citizen) Sylvia Duran.  (Scott himself specifically requested that the Mexican DFS brutally interrogate Duran regarding her contacts with "Oswald.")

Some additional quotes from Our Man in Mexico:

"Oswald's conspiratorial connections, [Scott] argued, had gone unexamined because of liberal bias.  The fact that the communist embassies dealt with and counseled this '... assassin a few weeks prior to the time he murdered President Kennedy is treated as an irrelevant bit of news, not worthy of consideration,' he wrote.  'This could be due to the fact that a serious investigation into the matter would offend the Soviets, with whom our foreign policy pundits, leftists and liberals are trying to be friendly while the Soviets stab us in the back and insult us to our faces.'

"Win's conclusion that there had been no 'serious investigation' of Oswald's communist connections was well informed.  His effort to blame '... foreign policy pundits, leftists and liberals' was less persuasive.  There were, after all, few such heretics at the top of the CIA....  Likewise, his esteemed colleague Dick Helms could have ordered a closer review of the proliferating reports of Oswald's activities in Mexico.  Instead, he ordered Win and other station chiefs to cut off and discredit all discussion of the alleged assassin's motives and contacts.

"The peculiar truth that Win's conservative political faith could not absorb was that it was the impeccably patriotic Dulles, Helms, and Angleton, not deluded liberals, who blocked investigation of Oswald's communist connections, and his friend David Phillips who fudged the record.  They stalled, avoided, and dissembled in the course of the Oswald investigation not because they were soft on communism, not to avoid offending liberal public opinion, but out of self-preservation...." p. 279

"... In June 1969, Win traveled to Washington to receive one of the highest honors that could be accorded to a CIA man: the Distinguished Intelligence Medal.  He had been eased out of the station chief job...." p.273

In any case, I do suggest that you read the first three or four reviews of this book at:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2288129.Our_Man_in_Mexico#other_reviews

If you have not already read Morely's 2017 tome on James Angleton, The Ghost, I recommend that you read it prior to diving into Our Man in Mexico.  Strictly FWIIW.... ML

Edited by Mark Lawson
Typo

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6 hours ago, Mark Lawson said:

It was hard for me to imagine liking the CIA less than I did at the time I began reading this book, but that has indeed been the result.  Winston Scott himself has turned out to be someone I find extremely hard to admire, and many of these players seem to me more adept at blatant criminality - hidden, or at least protected by, "color of law" - than they are at gathering and analyzing actionable intelligence.

Normally, I make every effort to extract the character of the person from his actions, and especially the actions of his associates due to his behavior. This requires paying close attention to every word and reaction. Given the era, Scott's blatant racism and ultra-conservatism was no surprise, nor was its easy acceptance by his minions. Due to this fact, I could not force myself to evaluate him dispassionately. I chose to skip over his personal life and the nuances of his character, carefully reading only the text pertinent to his and his stations role in the assassination and coverup.

5 hours ago, Mark Lawson said:
"The peculiar truth that Win's conservative political faith could not absorb was that it was the impeccably patriotic Dulles, Helms, and Angleton, not deluded liberals, who blocked investigation of Oswald's communist connections, and his friend David Phillips who fudged the record.  They stalled, avoided, and dissembled in the course of the Oswald investigation not because they were soft on communism, not to avoid offending liberal public opinion, but out of self-preservation...." p. 279

This above paragraph succinctly summarizes the entire book! Given my piecemeal reading, anyway...

Given their personal version of "patriotism," I have fully expected at least several of the conspirators to have PROUDLY confessed their roles in the assassination via deathbed confessions, and posthumous declarations. At the present time, only E. Howard Hunt has come close, talking without revealing his personal role. He does name higher-ups, but this could be disinformation at best. IMO, Hunt was likely present in DP during the assassination, but for what purpose? According to Tosh Plumlee, Hunt was flown to Dallas as a member of the "abort team," and I DO find Plumlee credible.

5 hours ago, Mark Lawson said:
If you have not already read Morely's 2017 tome on James Angleton, The Ghost, I recommend that you read it prior to diving into Our Man in Mexico.

This has received top reviews and although not yet purchased, *is* on my list. With retirement I'm attempting to reduce my voracious book purchasing. 😥 I'll take your advice, read this first, and IF properly inspired, *may* give "Our Man" a full reading...

THANKS for taking the time to post such a helpful review!

Tom

Edited by Tom Neal

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Mark,

Thank you for that clear and concise review of Our Man in Mexico.  I certainly share your opinion about the Agency brass in Mexico City and certain other locales during the era, and Tom Neal’s remarks above on E. Howard Hunt remind me of the following question….

In December 2000, in a strange magazine called Cigar Aficionado, E. Howard Hunt claimed that he was temporary station chief at Mexico City during “Oswald’s” alleged visit there in September ‘63.  My source for this claim (Harvey and Lee, p. 668), doesn’t indicate if Win Scott was absent for some reason to give at least some credence to the possibility that Hunt’s tale is true, and I’ve always wondered about it.

Does Mr. Morley have anything to say about that claim?

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Hunt as station chief puts him above Phillips...  I don’t see that making much sense.

Is there any item of evidence with Hunt or an alias signed off FROM MX CIA?

I just read that the source was Ted Szulc in his book Compulsive Spy.  

Q: If Hunt was the Acting Chief from August thru Nov, why do the Sept reports from LIENVOY not mention the Sept 27 and 28 Oswald calls as objects of interest?  Based on these contemporaneous reports, those calls did not happen.  Would Hunt and or Phillips forget such a simple detail?

If I haven’t sufficiently shown that Oswald was not in MX at this time, what have I missed?  Hunt was as good a xxxx/agent as there was... 

On Oct 8 “Willard Curtis... aka Scott” signs the LIENVOY SUMMARY REPORT and again on Oct 16 he writes to Amb Mann a memo about Oswald and Kostikov

There are CIA memos about Phillips aka Choaden coming to be Cuban desk Chief on Oct 7th..  so no secret there.   

We have the Hunt personnel file page 104-10120-10356 which shows from Jul 62 thru Aug 64 he was:

Ops Off 0136.01  Grade 15; SO: D DDP/DODS/Facilities Br/Ch,R&PSeo  at Hq

 

 

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Hunt’s claim is hard for me to believe as well, but just as Phillips was clearly involved in anti-Cuban operations at the Mexico City station, he was surely working with Morales and others at JM Wave in Miami as well, and possibly elsewhere; I’m not aware of any clear evidence that he was at the Mexico City station at the time Hunt claimed he (Hunt) was temporarily in charge there, though he may well have been.  I've been wondering about this for years.

Saint John Hunt, if memory serves, named both Morales and Sturgis, among a few others, as JFK assassination organizers listed by his father.  And golly, what a great witness Hunt must have been, eh?

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34 minutes ago, Jim Hargrove said:

 

Saint John Hunt, if memory serves, named both Morales and Sturgis, among a few others, as JFK assassination organizers listed by his father. 

The thing that bothers me about Hunt is that in his career, he specialized in what, propaganda?

For me, that makes everything he says kind of suspect.

 

Steve Thomas

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10 hours ago, Jim Hargrove said:

... Tom Neal’s remarks above on E. Howard Hunt remind me of the following question….

In December 2000, in a strange magazine called Cigar Aficionado, E. Howard Hunt claimed that he was temporary station chief at Mexico City during “Oswald’s” alleged visit there in September ‘63.  My source for this claim (Harvey and Lee, p. 668), doesn’t indicate if Win Scott was absent for some reason to give at least some credence to the possibility that Hunt’s tale is true, and I’ve always wondered about it.

Does Mr. Morley have anything to say about that claim?

Jim, I have seen free copies of Cigar Aficionado in the businesses (called FBOs) at airports where high-rollers come and go in their private jets, but not being a high-roller (or cigar aficionado) myself, I've never bothered to flip through it.  In any event, I have not yet had time to evaluate all of the several index entries for E. Howard Hunt in Our Man in Mexico, but I wonder if the following account might somehow have been conflated with, or into, Hunt's claim, as stated above:

"... The debut of the CIA in Mexico had not been auspicious.  One of the first CIA operatives in Mexico was E. Howard Hunt, a graduate of Brown University and a novelist with a gift for cliches.  He came in 1951 as chief of the OPC [Office of Policy Coordination] station.  A brash man of outspoken conservative convictions, Hunt inevitably offended the finer sensibilities of of some at the embassy and more than a few Mexicans, who mistrusted his Yanqui style.  When he moved on to join Operation Success [sic] in Guatemala in late 1953, he was not missed by many.  To say that Win Scott surpassed Howard Hunt in Mexico City is an understatement...." Our Man in Mexico, p. 85.

Stay tuned.... ML

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I have researched this - I believe Tad Szulc was misled in the 70s by someone (probably Hunt) - Hunt claimed years later in Cigar Aficionado that he was the temporary station chief in Mexico City in Sept 63.  No document supports it - I think it is pure disinformation on his part - I think Hunt misled Szulc back in the day and continued the yarn for the rest of his life because it insulated Win Scott from serious scrutiny until John Armstrong's Harvey and Lee in 2003 and Jeff Morley's biography of Scott - Our Man in Mexico - in 2008.

Here is Howard Hunt's succession of posts at the CIA - in 1950, his biographic profile lists him as OPC/Latin America/Ops/COS.  OPC was the Office of Policy Coordination - which merged with CIA in the early 50s.  The profile shows that he arrived in 1950 with a fair degree of autonomy, and that in 1951 he became OSO deputy chief in Mexico City.

He is also listed In 1962 as DDP/CA Staff/COS.   From 62-64 his biographic profile shows he worked in DC and then Spain at DODs (Division of Domestic Operations).  He had some cover while using the name Edward Hamilton in Washington DC  - I don't think the cover had anything to do with Mexico City - during 11/63 he was handling publications and proprietaries like WURABBIT and WUTARDY in DC and (I believe) Spain.

David Phillips told investigators that Hunt was the chief of covert action in Mexico City and that he, Phillips, succeeded him - that may have been true in the 1962 period.

I think that what is not listed here but found in documents is this:

"Twicker" is listed as chief of station in Mexico City in this August  31, 1960 memo - Walter Twicker is a long-time pseudo of Hunt - maybe Scott was on vacation at that moment, and Hunt was acting chief, because Scott was chief continually from 1956-1969.
 
 
I think the answer is here in this 9/1/60 document, referring to "MASH/Twicker".   Mexico City had its own MASH office, which later became its own JMWAVE office.  
 
This post and others all say " From Twicker" - at some point, it looks like someone got confused and thought Twicker was the Mexico City station chief.   
 
Twicker/Hunt was almost certainly Mexico City's MASH station chief - a tiny outfit.
 
 
By October 3, 1960, Twicker is holding the fort at MASH in Miami.

 

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From my reiading of recent documents, I think it will get noone nowhere to try to find an ultimate, in fact, top dog in MC, in October of 63. There were too many offices with interests in MC, all answering to disparate offices in DC, for Win Scott to be more than a host, not a boss, for them all. I see  Hunt on base through an unknown office (he had been COS a decade earlier, with William F Buckley as a subordinate); I see James McCord as an office of Security electronics specialist supervisor working with or under Hunt in 63. David Phillips arriving on the 7th of.November is another example; Scott was not his boss; just his host, in a very busy, tricky and confused situation. Hell, Anne Exeter (sp.?) is excercising executive authority with regard to the photographic operations on the consulates and embassies at that time; (again, this is my reading of documents).

Edited by Michael Clark

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13 hours ago, Bill Simpich said:

 

I have researched this - I believe Tad Szulc was misled in the 70s by someone (probably Hunt) - Hunt claimed years later in Cigar Aficionado that he was the temporary station chief in Mexico City in Sept 63.  No document supports it - I think it is pure disinformation on his part - I think Hunt misled Szulc back in the day and continued the yarn for the rest of his life because it insulated Win Scott from serious scrutiny until John Armstrong's Harvey and Lee in 2003 and Jeff Morley's biography of Scott - Our Man in Mexico - in 2008.

Here is Howard Hunt's succession of posts at the CIA - in 1950, his biographic profile lists him as OPC/Latin America/Ops/COS.  OPC was the Office of Policy Coordination - which merged with CIA in the early 50s.  The profile shows that he arrived in 1950 with a fair degree of autonomy, and that in 1951 he became OSO deputy chief in Mexico City.

He is also listed In 1962 as DDP/CA Staff/COS.   From 62-64 his biographic profile shows he worked in DC and then Spain at DODs (Division of Domestic Operations).  He had some cover while using the name Edward Hamilton in Washington DC  - I don't think the cover had anything to do with Mexico City - during 11/63 he was handling publications and proprietaries like WURABBIT and WUTARDY in DC and (I believe) Spain.

David Phillips told investigators that Hunt was the chief of covert action in Mexico City and that he, Phillips, succeeded him - that may have been true in the 1962 period.

I think that what is not listed here but found in documents is this:

"Twicker" is listed as chief of station in Mexico City in this August  31, 1960 memo - Walter Twicker is a long-time pseudo of Hunt - maybe Scott was on vacation at that moment, and Hunt was acting chief, because Scott was chief continually from 1956-1969.
 
 
I think the answer is here in this 9/1/60 document, referring to "MASH/Twicker".   Mexico City had its own MASH office, which later became its own JMWAVE office.  
 
This post and others all say " From Twicker" - at some point, it looks like someone got confused and thought Twicker was the Mexico City station chief.   
 
Twicker/Hunt was almost certainly Mexico City's MASH station chief - a tiny outfit.
 
 
By October 3, 1960, Twicker is holding the fort at MASH in Miami.

 

Thank you for all the detailed background info and source material on Hunt’s claim that he was acting station chief in Mexico City in Sept. 1963. And thank you for pointing out that “Twicker” was a Hunt pseudonym, which I didn’t know and is obviously crucial in understanding the significance of some of these documents.

The consensus here seems to be that Hunt’s claim is, at best, highly suspect.  But just to play devil’s advocate for a moment....

The 8/31/60 dispatch references both “Chief of Base, JMASH” and “Chief of Station, Mexico City (TWICKER)”, suggesting that Hunt was operating as the full MC station chief at least on that date.  Was this written in error, confusing JMASH with the full MC station?  It seems unlikely since both are named.  Also seemingly unusual is spelling out “TWICKER” as the station chief, since it was surely obvious to all that Win Scott was the long-time boss there.

If the reference was NOT written in error, the dispatch seems to show that Hunt, just a few years before 1963, had spent at least a day acting as station chief for Mexico City.   Which makes it seem more plausible that he *might* have had an encore performance in August of 1963, though it hardly indicates that he did.

Having followed every link in Mr. Simpich’s post above, I see nothing that directly supports Hunt’s claim; and nothing that directly refutes it.  Have I missed something?

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51 minutes ago, Jim Hargrove said:

Have I missed something?

If Hunt was Acting Anything he’d have signed off on the Oct cables about Oswald... not Willard Curtis....  IOW the evidence from 1963 should be similar to 1960 in proving him there... I don’t see that it does nor does any of the newly found docs on MX suggest anyone saw home there....

Didnt Anne Goodpasture talk of turning the daily intel haul over to Win by mid morning every day for evaluation?

Thanks for the crypto on Hunt Bill.. I was unaware of that one too.

we need to remember that between the mafia, cia and dpd... no one told a 100% truth... 

in fact, my feel was 80/20 the other way to maintain confusion or just the fact that leopards cannot change their spots... 

 

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9 hours ago, David Josephs said:

Didn't Anne Goodpasture talk of turning the daily intel haul over to Win by mid morning every day for evaluation?

Yes she did, according to Our Man in Mexico and other sources.

This prompts me to ask: Who was it who said - accurately, I think - something close to: "Anne Goodpasture should be in jail"?

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10 hours ago, Jim Hargrove said:

... thank you for pointing out that “Twicker” was a Hunt pseudonym....

Recall, too, that in 1960 Howard Hunt - at that time "... known by the alias 'Eduardo'" - was back in Mexico City to lead the AMCIGARs in Operation Zapata - modeled on Operation Success [sic] in Guatemala - with the goal of assassinating Fidel Castro, but ultimately a prelude to the Bay of Pigs.  The Yanquis, particularly including station chief Win Scott, thought they had the Mexican president and his cabinet securely in their pockets, but they "... completely ignored that the Cuban Revolution had substantial support in Mexico, even in the ruling PRI party....  Within weeks of their arrival, the Cubans were proving a daily disaster.  Win wanted the AMCIGARs gone, and soon they were.  Hunt and the Cubans bought one-way tickets back to Miami.  'As we flew east across the Gulf,' Hunt later wrote, 'it seemed as though we could hear a sigh of relief from Los Pinos,' the Mexican presidential residence where Lopez Mateos lived...."  Our Man in Mexico, pp. 105-106.

Regarding Hunt's later claims to have been "chief" of the MX CIA station during the alleged "Oswald" visits, Morely cites interviews with numerous sources, including Hunt himself; as well as Hunt's book Give us This Day.  Morely makes no reference, that I can find, to Hunt's claim of having been MX chief at that time.  ML

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