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Anthony Mugan

Mexico City: A possible scenario of the 'little incident in Mexico City' as a counter-intelligence operation

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Hi all

I've been taking a detailed look at Mexico City for some time now and below is my current interpretation of what was going on. It incorporates and builds on (including some re-interpretation) previous posts and articles on Mexico City on this forum. I've attached a Word document at the end if that easier, but in case it doesn't play nicely I've copied and pasted the text below.

Any thoughts or additional pieces of evidence would be appreciated.

 

 

Mexico City: A Possible Interpretation of the ‘Little Incident in Mexico City’ as a Counter-Intelligence Operation

 

Anthony Mugan

 

1.    Abstract

 

The actions of Lee Harvey Oswald or an impersonator in Mexico City in September and October 1963 are considered in terms of evidence of a CI/SIG led counter intelligence operation to identify a potential Soviet source in one or more of the FBI, INS or State Department. Concern over this source resulted from an apparent operational test of the FBI double agent, LAROB, in Mexico City by GRU officer, Valentin Bakulin in July 1963, with the FBI asking for CIA assistance in this matter in August 1963.

 

2.    Introduction

 

The ‘little incident in Mexico City’, as President Johnson would subsequently refer to it, has been the subject of extensive study over many decades (see, for example, refs 1,2,3,4,5). The events in Mexico City have remained to an extent ambiguous, given the somewhat surreal nature of the alleged ‘Oswald’s’ behaviour and the content of the phone intercepts of an Oswald impersonator.

 

This paper assumes the reader is broadly familiar with the events in Mexico and presents an interpretation of the events that incorporates and builds on much previous work, but attempts to understand the reasons for the actions of the key players in the context of a counter-intelligence operation for which there is now extensive documentary evidence6. The early sections pull together a summary of previous work on this subject before presenting an overall interpretation in section 6.

 

3.    Interpreting the ‘smoking memos’

 

The so called ‘smoking memos’ of the 10th October 1963 have been widely discussed (e.g. refs 3, 5). In these memos, Charlotte Bustos of the WH3 (Western Hemisphere 3) Division that covered Central America (but not Cuba, which was the responsibility of the Special Affaires Staff) authored two contradictory memos in response to communications from Mexico City regarding Oswald.

 

In one memo, sent to the Mexico City station, Oswald was described as “Lee Henry Oswald”, and as 5’ 10’’ tall and weighing 165 pounds. Whilst considerably heavier and very slightly taller than Lee Harvey Oswald this reflected information in his 201 file. The physical description was from an early FBI report by John Fain whilst ‘Lee Henry’ first appeared in 1960 in a brief biographical sketch of American defectors for the State Department. It provided no information on his activities after his return from the Soviet Union in May 1962.

 

https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=29805&relPageId=2&search=FBI_%22Bustos%22

 

This message contained instructions not to share this information with FBI colleagues in Mexico City, presumably to avoid the contradictory information in the two memos becoming evident to the FBI. The information in this memo was all from Oswald’s 201 file, managed by Anne Egerter of the Counter Intelligence Special Investigations Group (CI/SIG) whose primary function was to try to identify and catch moles within the Agency, but also handled sensitive cases involving Americans, including defectors. The same information had previously been shared with several elements within the Agency over the years, including the Soviet Russia Division where, amongst others, it had been seen by Bill Bright, stationed in Mexico City since August 1963, and Stephen Roll who had been Bright’s manager in the Soviet Russia division and one of the officers putting together this information with Bustos.

 

The other memo was sent to the national headquarters of the FBI, the State Department and the Navy (all of which had some role in managing Oswald’s case over the years) and was copied to the INS, which has an important role in information on individuals crossing the border. He was still named as ‘Lee Henry Oswald’ but now described as being six foot tall with an athletic build and aged about 35, a description closer to the so called ‘mystery man’ photograph.

 

https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=4223#relPageId=2&tab=page

 

The limited information regarding Oswald reflected the stripping of information relating to Oswald’s Cuba related activities from his 201 file and into a separate file of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee (FPCC).  At the time of the assassination only five documents were in Oswald’s 201 file out of 42 that should have been. The documents that remained related to events prior to his return from the Soviet Union.

 

https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=29180&relPageId=3

 

https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=145115#relPageId=33&tab=page

 

 

The stripping of the 201 file of recent information was done by Egerter in CI/SIG as she was the owner of Oswald’s 201. A potentially very significant point is that this process appears to have begun on the 23rd September, after Oswald had obtained his Mexican visa but before the events in Mexico City. On that date a report on Oswald’s activities in New Orleans by Special Agent Hosty was received by the CIA and was initially filed in the FPCC file, with that file number later (after the assassination) crossed out and replaced by Oswald’s 201 file number.

 

https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=2166#relPageId=3&tab=page

  

These memos have been widely discussed (e.g. by Newman in ‘Oswald and the CIA’, Simpich in ‘State Secret’ etc.) and appear to represent the placing of ‘marked cards’ of false information into different organisations in the hope that this would appear elsewhere (e.g. in KGB or GRU communications). This could help reveal the location (or at least confirm the existence) of a Soviet agent. This conclusion seems inescapable, given CI/SIG’s role and the unusual nature of the two memos. From this we can conclude that:

·         CI/SIG had reason to suspect the Soviets or their allies would be initiating queries about Oswald.

·         CI/SIG suspected there was a Soviet (or allied) agent in at least one of the agencies on the circulation list (FBI, INS, State and ONI).

·         The Mexico City memo is less obviously a marked card, as the information is as in Oswald’s 201, but might also have been used in that way if CI/SIG knew the description was incorrect. The information was consistent with Bill Bright’s existing knowledge of Oswald, however, which may account for the difference between the memos.

·         The CIA had a means by which they were reasonably confident they could detect Soviet (or allied) interest in Oswald.

 

The memos are often discussed in the context of concern that the interception of Oswald’s 1st October telephone conversation with the Soviet Embassy may have represented a breach of the sensitive LIENVOY wiretap operation in Mexico City. There are, however, fundamental problems with that interpretation.

·         Why would the interception of a phone conversation between an American citizen and the Soviet Embassy give rise to a concern about the security of LIENVOY? There is absolutely nothing in the transcript to suggest either party to the conversation knew they were being listened to.

·         Why was the reaction by the CIA very different to when other American citizens had contacted the Soviet or Cuban diplomatic compounds (e.g. no FBI follow up interview of Oswald about Mexico City, no ‘sting’ operation against Oswald etc.)?

·         Why would CI/SIG assume that the Soviets would begin to query their sources about Oswald, prompting them to plant ‘marked cards’ in the FBI, State, the ONI and the INS? Why were these organisations significant?

 

The ‘official’ position of the Mexico City station as of the 8th October can be seen in the following memo from MEXI to Langley. Why would this information create a concern about the security of LIENVOY?

 

https://maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=27749&search=Oswald#relPageId=2&tab=page

 

In a previous article7 the current writer considered the possibility that the activities of the Oswald identity in Mexico City was related to the so called ‘Tilton – Anderson’ memo and the following discussion is taken from that article.

Much of the discussion of the alleged activities of Lee Harvey Oswald (LHO) in Mexico City in late September and early October 1963 has included consideration of the possibility that he (and / or an impersonator) may have been engaged in an operation to discredit the FPCC. This is largely based on a memo from Sam Papich, FBI Liaison to the CIA, to D J Brennan, in which Papich summarises a request from Tilton for examples of FPCC stationery and mailing lists.

            https://maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=12654#relPageId=2&tab=page

 

Whilst Tilton’s original communication to Papich (for which we do not seem to have a written record) was on the 16th September, Papich’s memo is dated the 18th September 1963.  At the end of the memo we can see that the CIA request is directed for action to the Nationalities Intelligence Section where Lambert Anderson worked. An important point to note at this stage is that Papich informs the reader Tilton has agreed to take no immediate action in fabricating materials without first consulting the FBI. A second important point is that the operation is clearly a disinformation operation focusing on generating provocative or misleading documents for circulation.

 

Following up on this request from the CIA, FBI headquarters asked their New York field office to procure the materials for the CIA in a memo dated the 26th September 1963.

https://maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=12655#relPageId=2&tab=page

 

We can again see in the 26th September memo that the CIA have given assurances that “No positive action would be taken in this regard without first consulting with the Bureau…”. In other words, by the 26th September they were only starting to get the ball rolling in terms of obtaining material from the FBI source inside the FPCC, Victor Vicente (source T-3245-S*). More details on the extensive FBI operations against the FPCC and on the background for Vicente as their source, can be found, for example, in Bill Simpich’s essay of the FPCC ‘Fair Play for Cuba and the Cuban Revolution’.

https://www.counterpunch.org/2009/07/24/fair-play-for-cuba-and-the-cuban-revolution/

 

On the 4th October 1963 the New York office replied to say they have a meeting arranged with their source for around the 27th October. In other words, it is clear that any FPCC stationery and mailing lists obtained for this operation would not have been received by the FBI until late October at the earliest and would have been passed to the CIA after that date.

https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=193846&relPageId=2&search=FPCC

 

It is very difficult to see how the Tilton memo could possibly relate to the Oswald identities activities in Mexico City as the former operation was around a disinformation operation using forged FPCC documents and the raw material for this were clearly not obtained from the FBI source in the FPCC until late October at the earliest. Secondly, the Tilton proposal bears no resemblance to actual activity by the alleged Oswald in Mexico City.

 

In the next two sections we will explore the wider context of counter-intelligence operations against the Soviets that were underway in Mexico City in this time period, which provides evidence for a possible new scenario within which Oswald’s actions in Mexico City make much more sense than they do at first sight which will be presented in section 6.

 

4.    CI activity in Mexico City in October 1963.

 

The information in this section is taken from ref6.

 

On the 2nd October 1963 there was a communication from Langley to the Mexico City station discussing concern over the FBI team at the Mexico City embassy:

 

https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=55347#relPageId=53&tab=page

 

(see also https://www.maryferrell.org/php/cryptdb.php?id=LAROB for a transcript).

 

The above memo also notes that FBI headquarters had instructed their Mexico staff to share information on “pertinent details of Russian CE (counter espionage) ops LAROB case”.

 

LAROB was the cryptonym for an FBI double agent who was a sales representative of American Airlines based in Mexico City. The FBI had ‘dangled’ LAROB to the Soviets in June 1963 and succeeded in getting him recruited by Valentin Bakulin, a GRU officer.

 

https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=17434&relPageId=2

https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=17438&relPageId=2

 

Information on LAROB had been shared with the CIA in June 1963. The Mexico City station expressed some interest in using LAROB to target Bakulin. In other words, by the second half of 1963 LAROB was being utilised by both the FBI and CIA as a double agent whilst Bakulin was his Soviet case officer.

 

https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=17438&relPageId=2

 

On October 5th Langley informed Mexico City that it was deferring further discussion with the FBI of the ‘high level of penetration…’ pending the results of closer liaison between the station and ODENVY (the FBI).

https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=33499&relPageId=2

 

On the 7th October a set of 20 copies of a report on LAROB were sent from the FBI to the CIA.

https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=47756&relPageId=2

 

This sequence of events suggests the response to concerns over the ‘high level of penetration’ included a close look at the FBI’s double agent, LAROB, who was also connected to the CIA.

 

The origin of the concern around LAROB dates back to July 1963 and, I would suggest, is the key to unlocking the puzzle of Mexico City and this will be explored in the next section. For completeness it is worth noting that, in addition, October 1963 saw an extensive series of polygraph tests on a range of assets who might plausibly have physically seen Oswald in Mexico City, but no-one involved in wiretap operations and none of the Mexico City station officers themselves. Meanwhile, FBI officers stationed in Mexico City queried their informants and sub-informants for any information on Oswald, with no success.6

  

5.    The origin of the concern regarding LAROB

 On the 18th July 1963 LAROB missed a meeting with his GRU case officer, Bakulin. In attempting to re-arrange this meeting he was told by Bakulin that he was travelling to the USA and subsequently learnt, on the 23rd July, that Bakulin claimed to have travelled to San Diego on a German identity. On the 16th August the FBI (ODENVY) asked the CIA station in Mexico for assistance in investigating this matter as it had been determined by photo surveillance (LIMITED) that Bakulin had not in fact left Mexico. The obvious concern raised was this could have been an operational test of LAROB.

 

https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=47759&search=Bakulin#relPageId=2&tab=page

 

https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=17435&search=Bakulin#relPageId=2&tab=page

 

https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=47758&relPageId=2&search=Bakulin

 

 All the above communications contain the LCIMPROVE slugline, which relates to counter-espionage against the Soviets, and involved various CI elements. It will be noted that Langley advised caution in reacting to the possible test of LAROB. The reason for the caution is self-evident and probably key to what happened next. To be a useful test, the Soviets would have to have had at least one source in a position to detect FBI queries of INS, airlines and other relevant bodies concerning a German travelling from Mexico City to San Diego and returning during the relevant time period.

 

We can reasonably assume that the Soviet asset was not amongst the FBI officers directly handling LAROB and those aware of his existence, as otherwise LAROB would have been blown anyway. If this was an operational test of LAROB it would be reasonable to conclude there was a Soviet agent somewhere in the relevant organisations, but was this actually the case and how to find out more?

  

6.    Towards a holistic model of the Mexico City Incident

 Lee Harvey Oswald had been a defector to the Soviet Union and had been writing to the Soviet embassy in Washington D.C. requesting a visa to return to the Soviet Union for himself and his family (or asking for his wife and child’s application to be prioritised), a fact almost certainly known the FBI and CIA Counter-Intelligence through the mail intercept programme on the Soviet embassy (ref3 Chp. 16 pp 283-284). His behaviour at the Soviet embassy and Cuban consulate was sufficiently bizarre and provocative to be reasonably sure it would induce some communication about it with Moscow. If a Soviet intelligence officer had worried about what this apparently unstable potential defector might be up to, it could potentially have triggered a request for information on him from their sources.

 

It is interesting to note that the memo of the 10th October 1963 appropriately (considering the delimitations agreement concerning which agencies had responsibility for handling Oswald’s file) included the headquarters of the FBI and State (as well as the less relevant, for our purposes, ONI), and was copied to INS, all of whom could then be relied upon to pass the marked card on to relevant elements. If the Soviets had queried their sources the marked card could have been useful in indicating that the Soviets really did have a source in one or more of those agencies, as suspected from the Bakulin-LAROB situation.

 

Once it was decided to advise caution to Mexico City in late August the CIA, who had been asked for assistance in this matter by the FBI, would have begun to plan for an operation to further investigate the LAROB-Bakulin situation centrally.

·         The appropriate team would be CI/SIG. This was a sensitive investigation involving American citizens, a mole hunt and, if mishandled, could blow LAROB.

·         The plan appears to have been to create an appropriate provocation to produce a suitable reaction from the Soviets. Oswald fitted the bill, he was known to CI/SIG who managed his 201, was working as a low-level asset in New Orleans in CI related dangles and propaganda operations. He had the sort of background that was bound to set alarm bells ringing for the Soviets if he turned up again in unusual circumstances. The FBI and State, amongst others, were already involved with the Oswald file, and by taking him abroad the INS could be appropriately included in the loop.

·         A question would be as to if it was wise to use Oswald himself in this operation or impersonate him? This boils down to an assessment of his reliability. If he was genuinely trying to return to the Soviet Union and this was known then it would be exceptionally risky to directly involve him, but if the letters were not entirely as they seemed (e.g. Oswald intended Marina to return but not himself) then matters may be different.

·         Setting up the paper trail for the provocation would be important. The Oswald identity (real or not) would need to have a legitimate visa and paper trail for travel and accommodation. The visa was obtained on the 17th September. Reconstructing Oswald’s travel to and from Mexico City has not been as simple as might be expected, and the question as to if he actually travelled to Mexico remains ambiguous.

·         The Oswald identity would perform provocatively for the Soviets and their Cuban allies (but clearly linked to onward travel to Russia).

·         There would need to be a reason for the CIA to become ‘officially’ aware of Oswald’s visits to the Soviet embassy in a way that would justify the 10th October memos. Arranging for the Oswald identity to be recorded by LIENVOY, with Bill Bright picking up the intercept translation from the Tarasoffs would work well, given his knowledge of Oswald from his Soviet Russia Division days, even assuming Bright was not read in on this operation, which is clearly possible.

·         It would be too risky to include information about Oswald’s recent activities in the marked card memo. It seems likely these were part of a sequence of FBI and sometimes CIA led operations in Dallas and New Orleans. The full extent of the information in his 201 file could have set alarm bells ringing for an experienced Russian agent or their case officers, aborting their operation before the marked card got into the Soviet system for detection by a CIA asset as well as giving some insight into current operations. Oswald had to appear relatively innocuous and of little interest to the CIA to the reader of the marked cards. It was therefore decided to strip Oswald’s 201 back just to what the Soviet’s would already know about him, conveniently similar to what officers from the Soviet Russia Division such as Roll and Bill Bright, now in Mexico himself, also knew of him.

 

In short, the ‘little incident in Mexico City’ may well have been a CI/SIG operation to identify if the Soviets actually had a source in the FBI, INS or State as suggested by Bakulin’s possible test of LAROB.

  

7.    Discussion and areas for further research

 It seems very hard to see how the 1st October LIENVOY intercept could possibly have led to a concern about the security of LIENVOY and the subsequent CI operations bear no relation to LIENVOY, but are almost entirely LCIMPROVE focused, together with some elements plausibly directly looking for information about Oswald in Mexico City (most of whose officers would not be read into the CI/SIG operation).

 

The twin ‘smoking memos’ of the 10th October clearly assume the Soviets would be seeking information about Oswald (and that the CIA could detect such interest). The organisations included in the circulation list fit well for an operation investigating the concern over LAROB and ‘a high level of penetration’ of the FBI occasioned by Bakulin’s apparent test of LAROB. These include the FBI itself, INS and State, whose passport office would be relevant to enquiries about the LAROB-Bakulin situation8. The stripping of the 201 fits well for setting up a marked card aimed at the Soviets and involving the SR division whilst the early start to that process, on the 23rd September, is a significant indicator that this scenario was anticipated and planned by CI/SIG.

 

Was Oswald impersonated in Mexico City? In terms of the LIENVOY intercepts, definitely. Oswald was fluent in Russian and the original transcript notes the terrible Russian spoken by the caller. In terms of the visits to the embassy the situation is less clear. Some descriptions are of someone in their mid-thirties, five foot six inches and blond, whilst others are consistent with the real Oswald. The photo on the visa application is of Oswald but appears to be from late 1962 from the hairstyle and the lack of a receding hairline. In short, the situation is ambiguous but the credibility of the Odio incident and the clear impersonation of Oswald on the telephone calls lends credibility to the possibility that he was not actually present himself. The difficulty MEXI had in locating a credible photograph of Oswald is also consistent with that, and it is possible that CI/SIG patiently waited for MEXI to come up with their best guess as to the correct photo before passing this on for appropriate consumption, secure in a ‘legitimate’ paper trail for this particular description.

 

To what extent was MEXI read in on the CI/SIG operation? By definition it would be vital to minimise knowledge of the real nature of the operation. It is possible that Bill Bright was read in, given his background. It would have been unfortunate if he had missed the significance of the Oswald name. It seems possible that some officers such as the COS, Win Scott, his deputy, Alan White, the head of Operations, David Atlee Philipps and conceivably, but improbably, Anne Goodpasture may have had some awareness, but overall the CI/SIG side of this seems to be very self-contained. That would be consistent with the wider CI operations underway in Mexico City in October, which seem to indicate a genuine ignorance as to what exactly was going on.

 

To what extent was the Kostikov angle pre-planned and assassination related? This is perhaps the $64,000 question and one I do not feel we have enough information to answer definitively at this time. Newman3 has argued that the effect of Mexico City was to create a time bomb which forced President Johnson to close down serious investigations to avoid the risk of world war three. That is possible. It is interesting to note that it was Angleton who played down the connections of Kostikov to Department 13 before the assassination, had oversight of this CI/SIG operation and then was instrumental in disseminating the possible link of Kostikov to Department 13 after the assassination. Angleton was very close to the deposed ‘ancien regime’ of Dulles et. al. at the CIA and by the early 1960’s was descending into paranoia around various national leaders’ possible KGB connections. The scenario presented by Newman in ref3 is suitably intellectually brilliant for Angleton, and suitably paranoid. A ‘wilderness of mirrors’ indeed. It is also possible however, that this is a pure coincidence. If the assassination was a less complex operation, focused on a group from the most militant anti-Castro groups and their immediate associates who became aware of Oswald in New Orleans, the conspirators may have been completely unaware of Mexico City, or, if aware (via Oswald himself, or possible David Atlee Philips), viewed it more superficially as consistent with their sheep dipping of Oswald. At that point in time Kostikov was not a significant issue.

 

Going forward the key question remaining about Mexico City focus on:

·    The extent to which Oswald was physically present and how this connects to the Odio incident.

·     The extent to which officers in Mexico City were read into the CI/SIG operation, perhaps particularly Atlee Phillips and Bright.

·    Was an AMOT used for the impersonation on the phone? If so, why? Would it not have made more sense to use a native English speaker, ideally fluent in Russian? This is a clear anomaly unless it was intended to create alarm in Mexico City (specifically Bill Bright)?

·   Understanding the shifting views on Kostikov and Angleton’s wider state of mind, actions and behaviour in this time period is important.

·   Finding indicators or tests that would differentiate between the ‘complex’ scenario in which Mexico City was designed by senior figures to force the subsequent investigation of the assassination to close down verses the ‘simple’ scenario in which this effect was unexpected and coincidental for the anti-Castro militants and their associates that conducted the assassination.

 

 

8.    Conclusion

 

The core of the Mexico City incident was a CI/SIG operation to investigate further concerns from the LAROB – Bakulin situation.

 

It is possible that the group involved in the conspiracy piggy-backed into this operation to create a fail-safe mechanism to close down the later investigation, but this remains far from clear. It is perfectly possible that the anti-Castro militants and their associates who carried out the assassination had identified Oswald in New Orleans through his contacts with the DRE and may even have been completely unaware of events in Mexico City, perhaps particularly if CI/SIG were using an impersonator. It is possible this might account for the conflict in timing between Mexico City and the Odio incident.

 

9.    References

 

1.    Hardaway, D., and Lopez, E, 1978, ‘Oswald the CIA and Mexico City’ a.k.a ‘The Lopez Report 2003 release

https://www.history-matters.com/archive/contents/hsca/contents_hsca_lopezrpt_2003.htm

2.    Dale Scott., P., 1994. ‘CIA Files and the Pre-Assassination Framing of Lee Harvey Oswald’

http://www.assassinationweb.com/scottc.htm

3.    Newman., J, 1995. Oswald and the CIA, Skyhorse Publishing Inc., New York.

4.    Morley., J, undated, ‘What Jane Roman Said’, https://www.history-matters.com/essays/frameup/WhatJaneRomanSaid/WhatJaneRomanSaid_1.htm

5.    Simpich, B, 2013, State Secret, https://www.maryferrell.org/pages/State_Secret.html

6.    Mugan, A, 2020a, ‘Mexico City: Evidence Oswald May Have Been in an Operation Targeting Bakulin’, http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/topic/26359-mexico-city-evidence-oswald-may-have-been-in-an-operation-targeting-bakulin/?tab=comments#comment-414267

7.    Mugan,. A, 2020b, ‘Mexico City:  The Tilton Anti-FPCC Memo Was Not Related To The Alleged ‘Oswald’s’ Activities in Mexico City’.

 

8.    Simpich, B, personal communication:

 

 

 

 

Mexico City_A possible interpretation as a CI operation.docx

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2 hours ago, Steve Thomas said:

Anthony,

Well done!

 

PS: That PELIDE crytonym is a real mystery, isn't it?

Steve Thomas

Thanks Steve

could you point me in the right direction for where you saw the PELIDE crypt please...I hadn’t noticed it.

Anthony

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5 hours ago, Anthony Mugan said:

Thanks Steve

could you point me in the right direction for where you saw the PELIDE crypt please...I hadn’t noticed it.

Anthony

Anthony,

I'm sorry, I dropped a letter.

It should be TPELIDE. It's on page four of the first link you provided about Lee Henry Oswald:

https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=29805&search=FBI_"Bustos"#relPageId=4&tab=page

If you look up TPELIDE in the CIA Cryponyms, you can see a lot of confusion across the various documents.

"At least through 4/64, used by the Mexico City station as a generic term for "embassy" and also used for a CIA team conducting surveillance. Caused confusion within CIA ranks. [status: Probable]

https://www.maryferrell.org/php/cryptdb.php?id=TPELIDE

Steve Thomas

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11 hours ago, Steve Thomas said:

Anthony,

I'm sorry, I dropped a letter.

It should be TPELIDE. It's on page four of the first link you provided about Lee Henry Oswald:

https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=29805&search=FBI_"Bustos"#relPageId=4&tab=page

If you look up TPELIDE in the CIA Cryponyms, you can see a lot of confusion across the various documents.

"At least through 4/64, used by the Mexico City station as a generic term for "embassy" and also used for a CIA team conducting surveillance. Caused confusion within CIA ranks. [status: Probable]

https://www.maryferrell.org/php/cryptdb.php?id=TPELIDE

Steve Thomas

Thanks Steve

I took it to probably mean the local diplomatic staff in the embassy. The other crypts in the same paragraph refer to the FBI, navy and INS so it’s the same group of organisations but now locally.

Typically this means I’ve noticed a minor error in the paper...the two descriptions 0f Oswald were of course shared with each agency..one locally in Mexico City and the other at national level..it was the other info that wasn’t shared. I’ll amend that when I get chance but it doesn’t alter the analysis. Mea culpa.

cheers

Anthony

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Anthony M., when you write:

"Was Oswald impersonated in Mexico City? In terms of the LIENVOY intercepts, definitely. Oswald was fluent in Russian and the original transcript notes the terrible Russian spoken by the caller. In terms of the visits to the embassy the situation is less clear. Some descriptions are of someone in their mid-thirties, five foot six inches and blond, whilst others are consistent with the real Oswald. The photo on the visa application is of Oswald but appears to be from late 1962 from the hairstyle and the lack of a receding hairline. In short, the situation is ambiguous but the credibility of the Odio incident and the clear impersonation of Oswald on the telephone calls lends credibility to the possibility that he was not actually present himself."

I would like to cross-examine the almost universally-held idea assumed here--which you share with WC, HSCA, Newman, and the spectrum of assassination researchers alike--of the existence of an "impersonation" of Oswald in Mexico City. That Oswald made the trip to Mexico City is confirmed by Silvia Duran's phone number in Oswald's address book, and Oswald told Ruth Paine after his return to Dallas that he had gone to Mexico City. Plus, the Silvia Odio visit, which I take to be Oswald, paradoxically supports rather than argues against the Mexico City trip of Oswald to me in this way: it is compatible chronologically by adjusting the date by ca. 1 day earlier than WC's report of Silvia's date which Silvia always said she did not remember for certain, if Oswald was driven to Houston and then to the Mexican border (which explains why WC never could find any evidence of bus travel for LHO for that leg of the trip); and Oswald's companions at Odio's door that evening, according to Odio, said they had come from New Orleans and said they were continuing on a trip, and at least that evening were driving Oswald. So I suggest that the Odio visit in Dallas, even though not in a direct line to Houston and the southern border, rather than being in conflict with Oswald's Mexico City trip was part of Oswald's Mexico City trip.

The non-Oswald CIA Mexico City Soviet consulate surveillance photo which was not Oswald was not of an impersonator, but someone who was not impersonating anyone and simply was not Oswald. CIA had sent a photo and wrongly said it was Oswald, but that does not mean the subject of the photo was pretending to be Oswald.

On the intercepts, so far as I can tell all of the intercepts are consistent with a genuine Oswald trying to get a visa into Cuba except one, which is the Saturday Sept. 28. That one has a male speaker who can barely speak Russian whereas Oswald was fluent in Russian. Sylvia Duran, credible in her HSCA testimony, was adamant that she was not involved in that Saturday morning phone call with Oswald. And Hoover told LBJ that FBI agents who had heard one of CIA's supposedly non-existent recordings of Oswald speaking in Russian did not think it sounded like Oswald, just as the photo provided by CIA certainly was not Oswald. Therefore everyone has concluded: an Oswald impersonator, and often it is added, also a Silvia Duran impersonator.

But the speaker in the Saturday morning Sept 28 intercept never claims to be Oswald. The woman's voice never claims to be Silvia Duran either, although the person who prepared the intercept transcript identified the woman speaker as Silvia Duran, and CIA interpreted it as Silvia Duran and Oswald. Whether Silvia Duran was a mistaken voice ID for another woman employee of the Cuban consulate, or it was Silvia Duran with an unrelated different individual in that phone call, is not important to resolve here, but there is nothing internal to that intercept to identify the male voice as Oswald. The identification error at CIA's end in Mexico City came about because later genuine Oswald phone calls to the Soviet consulate on Tue Oct 1 referred back to an Oswald visit to the Soviet consulate on Saturday Sept 28 which happened and has been recounted by a Soviet official on that occasion. But the Sept 28 intercept attributed to Oswald was a mistaken identification of someone who was not Oswald and concerning whom there is no reason to suppose had any intention to be taken for Oswald. With that reinterpretation, the rest of the minor differences in eyewitness memory, etc. are less substantial and is there sound reason to hang on to an intentional impersonation idea at all? For the Sept 28 intercept and verification that the non-Russian-fluent, non-Oswald voice therein never claims to be Oswald: https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=5099#relPageId=2&tab=page.

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Posted (edited)
7 hours ago, Greg Doudna said:

if Oswald was driven to Houston and then to the Mexican border (which explains why WC never could find any evidence of bus travel for LHO for that leg of the trip); and Oswald's companions at Odio's door that evening, according to Odio, said they had come from New Orleans and said they were continuing on a trip, and at least that evening were driving Oswald. So I suggest that the Odio visit in Dallas, even though not in a direct line to Houston and the southern border, rather than being in conflict with Oswald's Mexico City trip was part of Oswald's Mexico City trip.

Greg,

While I agree with your assumption that an Oswald was driven to Mexico, I'm not so sure about your phrase about this being, "not on a direct line to Houston."

New Orleans to Dallas to 505 miles, and according to Google maps takes 7.5 hours. That's an average speed of 67 mph.

image.png.740265e3bf578a50010d2787505de405.png

From information developed by David Joseph in Kennedy's and King David Joseph reviews in detail the evidence for Oswald's alleged trip to Mexico City – Part 2.

https://kennedysandking.com/john-f-kennedy-articles/mexico-city-part-2-the-trip-down-part-1

“In Warren Commission Document 442 we find a telegram from Mexico City to Sec of State Rusk (dated November 23, 1963) stating the records show on October 3, 1963 a Lee HENRY Oswald left Mexico by Automobile. WCD 442 p.9

Lee Henry arrived in Nuevo Laredo on September 26, 1963, but they didn’t know if he arrived by car.

A bus ticket was purchased in Houston, but I don't know if was purchased by an Oswald.

As David put it, "There is no record of his travel from New Orleans to Houston. No record of a ticket from any mode of transportation; the FBI checked. There is a record of a bus ticket being purchased in Houston by 2am which should have covered Oswald's travel from there to Mexico City (FBI report of SA Edwin Dalrymple, 2/20/64).", but I don't know if there is any record that shows it was Oswald who bought that ticket.

How do we know he went through Houston at all?

image.thumb.png.ad6793f8246030e30966436519465787.png

 

Steve Thomas

Edited by Steve Thomas

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Posted (edited)

Steve T.-- a possible reconstruction

Mon Sept 23: Texas Unemployment check is mailed from Austin going out 5:15 pm; mail arrives New Orleans overnight, put in boxes next morning.

Tue Sept 24: Morning: check is in Oswald's PO Box and picked up; Oswald cashes check; files weekly unemployment claim in person, mails a change of address postcard. Ca. 10-12 pm: depart in car for Dallas with "Leopoldo" and "Angel". Ca. 7 pm, Silvia Odio apartment. Overnight somewhere Dallas.

Wed Sept 25: Oswald is driven to Austin (4 hr drive), visits Selective Service office ca. 1 pm (https://maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=1141&relPageId=34&search=Austin_Mexico). Driven to Houston where he is dropped off by drivers who return to Dallas or elsewhere. Oswald phones Twiford residence, FPCC member contact (https://maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=1141&search=twiford#relPageId=329&tab=page), while waiting for 2 am Continental bus Houston to Laredo. (Twiford contact information is in Oswald's address book. Mrs. Twiford reported Oswald phoned saying he had several hours before a "flight" [sic; bus] and although she was not certain, assumed he was calling locally since no operator was involved; meanwhile the only male bus passenger on the Houston-Laredo bus that night is plausibly a description of Oswald.)

Thu Sept 26: 2 am bus to Laredo; cross border into Mexico; bus to Mexico City. 

I admit a vulnerability to this reconstruction is that it was verified Oswald cashed an unemployment check in New Orleans that was put in the mail late Mon PM in Austin, and FBI had determined it could not be in Oswald's Post Office box before the end of Tuesday. I could not find the specific documentation or explanation from postal authorities underlying that FBI finding, but the reconstruction above requires that there be some mistake on the order of ca. one-half day time in airmail and distribution time of that mail to Oswald's New Orleans post office box, from what FBI reported to the Warren Commission. Because in my opinion the Odio visit; the Austin Selective Service office visit; the evening Twiford phone call from Oswald in Houston; and the Houston-Laredo leg by bus on Sept 26 are each independently too strong to dismiss, I assume there must be some error in the FBI determination of time of mail delivery from Austin-New Orleans. What makes dramatically or exponentially less sense to me than some adjustment along that line are theories of multiple Oswalds, invocation of imposters, wholesale fabrication and alteration of documents and witness testimonies, etc.   

Edited by Greg Doudna

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Posted (edited)

Anthony,

I am appreciating the work you are doing!  It's very important.

Which is why I don't understand why you persist in getting started on the wrong foot - and haven't fully addressed it when I bring it up.

You write that "the (Tilton) operation was around a disinformation operation using forged FPCC documents".

It's just not that simple.

September 18:  Tilton's promise on this date was to "not initiate the production of any fabricated material" - that is simply not the same as his plan to "also plant deceptive information" in a "foreign country" where FPCC has "some support".

The false claim that LHO was a card-carrying Communist Party member was planted in Mexico City by the man who went to the Cuban consulate. - and it echoed the claim in the 9/10/63 Hosty memo that LHO was a communist, received by Anderson on 9/13/63.

"Fabricated material" is clearly a reference to fabricated "quantities of propaganda in the name of the (FPCC)".   It is not same as planting "deceptive information".

The fabrication effort involved obtaining stationery and mailing lists.   

Planting deceptive information is a wholly different effort, that engages in a variety of techniques.

September 26:  The letter of this date affirms that the need to wait is focused on obtaining stationery and mailing lists in order to engage in "similar techniques" such as "anonymous leaflets".

It gives no signal that CIA will not plant deceptive information.   

October 4:  This letter makes it clear that Victor Vicente of the FPCC will obtain the stationery and mailing lists - again, no signal that the CIA's hands are tied "in connection with their consideration of plans to counter the activities of FPCC in foreign countries."

It's a bad idea to merge the two - you are sailing towards an iceberg by doing it.

I have additional comments, but want to flag this first and ask you again to address it.  Thanks!

Edited by Bill Simpich

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Is there any evidence to suggest that the FPCC itself was tied to CIA, maybe not at first but later in its brief existence?

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Posted (edited)

Anthony,

My next comment asks you to consider and address the recent problems that Mexico City was having with the security of LIENVOY - 

I bring this up because you write:

"Why would the interception of a phone conversation between an American citizen and the Soviet Embassy give rise to a concern about the security of LIENVOY?"

1.  The station was very concerned about LIENVOY's security as of September 1963

On August 6, 1963, the station wrote a memo focusing on a report "identifying and trapping of a (US) citizen who was offering his services to the Cuban embassy...posing as a Cuban embassy official to trap him into revealing his intentions."  The station was concerned that such a strategy might reveal the existence of LIENVOY to the Cubans.

On September 28, 1963 - a man and a woman were recorded on the LIENVOY line - yet the record of that call was entirely suppressed by the CIA station.  Why?   My supposition is that the Agency was concerned that now the Cubans knew about LIENVOY, and feared there was a leak, and didn't want that to be generally known.

On October 1, 1963, a man calling himself Lee Oswald called back, and referred to his call on Sept 28.  That call was reported.  But not the Sept 28 call.  Why?

 

2.  Two of the four LIENVOY taps on the Cuban embassy were disconnected on September 23 - three days before LHO's alleged arrival in Mexico City

Two of the four LIENVOY taps on the Cuban embassy were disconnected on 9/23/63.  The LIENVOY taps were on cultural attache Teresa Proenza's line 14-13-26, and also on 14-42-37.  There is a reference to "three Cuban lines", but redactions prevent us from knowing what the third line was.  I see no signs of a LIENVOY tap on Sylvia Duran's line, 11-28-47.  

The Mexico City memo said that 25-07-95 was disconnected because Ramon Sinobas had gone back to Cuba, and the 14-92-14  line wasn't being used either.  I have seen Raul Aparicio use the 14-92-14 line, who was the Cubans' PR man.  (Sources on all this in State Secret, Chapter 4)

3.  The person who called the Soviet consulate on September 28 and October 1 was the same person - & may have been a Spanish-speaker

The September LIENVOY report, written by Scott on 10/8/63,. also mentions that there were "two leads from LIENVOY of operational interest in September 1963".  Neither of these calls were the Sept 28 call from "Duran and Oswald" to the Soviet consulate is not mentioned.https://www.maryferrell.org/mffweb/archive/viewer/showDoc.do?docId=53528&relPageId=4

However, the October LIENVOY report does mention that "MEXI-6453 reported a (October 1) contact by an English-speaking man with the Soviet embassy in Mexico City.  This was forwarded to Headquarters for further dissemination".   This, of course, was the phone call where a man identified himself as "Lee Oswald", speaking in broken Russian before resorting to English.  Why do these reports ignore on what I assess as a September 28 Duran-Oswald call? 

Even if you disagree with their identities, it seems clear that this call was mistrusted from the day it was made, and was held very closely as a secret. 

It was revealed to the FBI on October 16 that Lee Henry Oswald had been at the Soviet embassy on Sept 28, with the FBI indicating an "extremely sensitive source" - the phrase usually used for LIENVOY.

The October 1 call, however, was trumpeted far and wide throughout the Agency and to other governmental agencies.  Even though it is unquestioned that Tarasoff identified that the September 28 caller and the October 1 caller were the same person.

Ostensibly, as of October 8, Scott did not consider these Sept 28 and Oct. 1 LIENVOY calls as "operational".   He only considered the October 1 call as operational, and only after he had received the October 10 memo from Headquarters. 

There is also a note from author Ron Kessler stating that:   “…both the Mexican monitors (according to Arehart, outside staff agent) said caller (who called himself Oswald) had difficulty making himself understood (as I recall) in both English and Russian".   In other words, the caller's native tongue may have been Spanish.


 

Edited by Bill Simpich

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1 hour ago, Greg Doudna said:

 

Wed Sept 25: Oswald is driven to Austin (4 hr drive), visits Selective Service office ca. 1 pm (https://maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=1141&relPageId=34&search=Austin_Mexico). Driven to Houston where he is dropped off by drivers who return to Dallas or elsewhere. Oswald phones Twiford residence, FPCC member contact (https://maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=1141&search=twiford#relPageId=329&tab=page), while waiting for 2 am Continental bus Houston to Laredo. (Twiford contact information is in Oswald's address book. Mrs. Twiford reported Oswald phoned saying he had several hours before a "flight" [sic; bus] and although she was not certain, assumed he was calling locally since no operator was involved; meanwhile the only male bus passenger on the Houston-Laredo bus that night is plausibly a description of Oswald.)

Greg,

I hesitated to comment on any of this because I have never studied an Oswald's (any Oswald) trip to Mexico. You know a heck of a lot more about this stuff than I do.

Here's what David quoted from page 731 of the Warren Report in his article: https://kennedysandking.com/john-f-kennedy-articles/mexico-city-part-2-the-trip-down-part-1

image.png.d8722bf5b52624348dc4455c419ac398.png

There seems to be an awful lot of assumptions there/

PS: I liked what David did with the luggage.

Just where was the rifle all this time anyway?

Steve Thomas

 

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20 hours ago, Greg Doudna said:

Anthony M., when you write:

"Was Oswald impersonated in Mexico City? In terms of the LIENVOY intercepts, definitely. Oswald was fluent in Russian and the original transcript notes the terrible Russian spoken by the caller. In terms of the visits to the embassy the situation is less clear. Some descriptions are of someone in their mid-thirties, five foot six inches and blond, whilst others are consistent with the real Oswald. The photo on the visa application is of Oswald but appears to be from late 1962 from the hairstyle and the lack of a receding hairline. In short, the situation is ambiguous but the credibility of the Odio incident and the clear impersonation of Oswald on the telephone calls lends credibility to the possibility that he was not actually present himself."

I would like to cross-examine the almost universally-held idea assumed here--which you share with WC, HSCA, Newman, and the spectrum of assassination researchers alike--of the existence of an "impersonation" of Oswald in Mexico City. That Oswald made the trip to Mexico City is confirmed by Silvia Duran's phone number in Oswald's address book, and Oswald told Ruth Paine after his return to Dallas that he had gone to Mexico City. Plus, the Silvia Odio visit, which I take to be Oswald, paradoxically supports rather than argues against the Mexico City trip of Oswald to me in this way: it is compatible chronologically by adjusting the date by ca. 1 day earlier than WC's report of Silvia's date which Silvia always said she did not remember for certain, if Oswald was driven to Houston and then to the Mexican border (which explains why WC never could find any evidence of bus travel for LHO for that leg of the trip); and Oswald's companions at Odio's door that evening, according to Odio, said they had come from New Orleans and said they were continuing on a trip, and at least that evening were driving Oswald. So I suggest that the Odio visit in Dallas, even though not in a direct line to Houston and the southern border, rather than being in conflict with Oswald's Mexico City trip was part of Oswald's Mexico City trip.

The non-Oswald CIA Mexico City Soviet consulate surveillance photo which was not Oswald was not of an impersonator, but someone who was not impersonating anyone and simply was not Oswald. CIA had sent a photo and wrongly said it was Oswald, but that does not mean the subject of the photo was pretending to be Oswald.

On the intercepts, so far as I can tell all of the intercepts are consistent with a genuine Oswald trying to get a visa into Cuba except one, which is the Saturday Sept. 28. That one has a male speaker who can barely speak Russian whereas Oswald was fluent in Russian. Sylvia Duran, credible in her HSCA testimony, was adamant that she was not involved in that Saturday morning phone call with Oswald. And Hoover told LBJ that FBI agents who had heard one of CIA's supposedly non-existent recordings of Oswald speaking in Russian did not think it sounded like Oswald, just as the photo provided by CIA certainly was not Oswald. Therefore everyone has concluded: an Oswald impersonator, and often it is added, also a Silvia Duran impersonator.

But the speaker in the Saturday morning Sept 28 intercept never claims to be Oswald. The woman's voice never claims to be Silvia Duran either, although the person who prepared the intercept transcript identified the woman speaker as Silvia Duran, and CIA interpreted it as Silvia Duran and Oswald. Whether Silvia Duran was a mistaken voice ID for another woman employee of the Cuban consulate, or it was Silvia Duran with an unrelated different individual in that phone call, is not important to resolve here, but there is nothing internal to that intercept to identify the male voice as Oswald. The identification error at CIA's end in Mexico City came about because later genuine Oswald phone calls to the Soviet consulate on Tue Oct 1 referred back to an Oswald visit to the Soviet consulate on Saturday Sept 28 which happened and has been recounted by a Soviet official on that occasion. But the Sept 28 intercept attributed to Oswald was a mistaken identification of someone who was not Oswald and concerning whom there is no reason to suppose had any intention to be taken for Oswald. With that reinterpretation, the rest of the minor differences in eyewitness memory, etc. are less substantial and is there sound reason to hang on to an intentional impersonation idea at all? For the Sept 28 intercept and verification that the non-Russian-fluent, non-Oswald voice therein never claims to be Oswald: https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=5099#relPageId=2&tab=page.

Hi Greg

In terms of the question as to if the real Oswald was ever in Mexico City physically and then if he did the various visits to the Cuban consulate and Russian embassy, I am just agnostic at the moment. There seems to be quite a reasonable case that can be made for several scenarios and no obvious way at the moment of decisively differentiating between, at least not one I can think of just now! This is a significant open question.

In terms of the phone calls though I would argue the situation is much clearer. The original transcripts and Tarasoff's 1978 HSCA testimony makes it pretty clear that the Lee Oswald who identified himself as such in the 1st October call was the same person who called on the 28th September and spoke in broken Russian. That link is on the contemporaneous transcript and Tarasoff doesn't walk it back in his 1978 testimony at all. The transcript ties in very well with the physical activities of the Oswald identity. There are no indications of a second American citizen in contact with the Cubans and Russians in Mexico City in this sort of way on these days and we know the real LHO was in touch with the Soviet embassy in Washington about returning to the USSR. It is all very consistent and neat and tidy with primary documentation and no contra-indicators.

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13 hours ago, Bill Simpich said:

Anthony,

I am appreciating the work you are doing!  It's very important.

Which is why I don't understand why you persist in getting started on the wrong foot - and haven't fully addressed it when I bring it up.

You write that "the (Tilton) operation was around a disinformation operation using forged FPCC documents".

It's just not that simple.

September 18:  Tilton's promise on this date was to "not initiate the production of any fabricated material" - that is simply not the same as his plan to "also plant deceptive information" in a "foreign country" where FPCC has "some support".

The false claim that LHO was a card-carrying Communist Party member was planted in Mexico City by the man who went to the Cuban consulate. - and it echoed the claim in the 9/10/63 Hosty memo that LHO was a communist, received by Anderson on 9/13/63.

"Fabricated material" is clearly a reference to fabricated "quantities of propaganda in the name of the (FPCC)".   It is not same as planting "deceptive information".

The fabrication effort involved obtaining stationery and mailing lists.   

Planting deceptive information is a wholly different effort, that engages in a variety of techniques.

September 26:  The letter of this date affirms that the need to wait is focused on obtaining stationery and mailing lists in order to engage in "similar techniques" such as "anonymous leaflets".

It gives no signal that CIA will not plant deceptive information.   

October 4:  This letter makes it clear that Victor Vicente of the FPCC will obtain the stationery and mailing lists - again, no signal that the CIA's hands are tied "in connection with their consideration of plans to counter the activities of FPCC in foreign countries."

It's a bad idea to merge the two - you are sailing towards an iceberg by doing it.

I have additional comments, but want to flag this first and ask you again to address it.  Thanks!

Morning, Bill

Thanks for your very helpful challenges...it's important to test these things out really thoroughly. It is very much appreciated.

In terms of the Tilton anti-FPCC op, it is probably fair to say we are reading these memos somewhat differently. The key things to me is the timeline and the physical activity itself.

In terms of the timeline, by the time Papich drafted this memo on the 18th September Oswald had already obtained his Mexican visa and yet the memo is clear that the CIA are giving consideration to plans against the FPCC rather than actually running an operation. As I think we are both of the view that Oswald's trip to Mexico City was part of an operation (the debate is really on the exact nature of that operation) the planning for it had to pre-date the 17th September by some margin. Decisions had already been made and orders given before the 17th September, so we are need to be looking at planning in early September or even earlier for issues known about at that time.

The second aspect to consider is if the actions of the Oswald identity in Mexico City look like an operation to plant deceptive information (not written) regarding the FPCC. 'Oswald' referred to his FPCC membership in his visit to the Cuban consulate but would that be enough? It is hard to see how any damage to the FPCC could be expected to arise from these actions. Whilst the Cubans and Russians were not impressed by Oswald they could hardly be expected to publicise anything damaging to the FPCC and it can not have been a serious attempt to actually get him into Cuba or Russia by the CIA as they would know the correct procedure for that.

To be an operation to damage the FPCC there would need to have been some action that would become public that would discredit the FPCC, or fundamentally change Cuban or Russian policy towards the FPCC. None of this became public until after the assassination, and then only very gradually over many years. It doesn't seem logical to me for a planner to assume that strange actions by 'Oswald' or whoever at the consulate and embassy would become public in any way. No one on the Cuban side would factor this information into changing their overall assessment of the FPCC either...it comes across as the actions of a 'lone nut' at first sight, to coin a phrase.

A third aspect is if this was all about written material or not. You are quite right to point out the grammatical significance of the 'and' between the 'propaganda' and the 'deceptive'. I do read the memo slightly differently to you in that, whilst 'deceptive information' can be in any format or media, the focus of this is clearly on written materials. That is similar to other fragmentation operations against the FPCC which (and I am going from memory here, which is always a risk before my second cup of tea of the day(!)) used provocative and deceptive letters and mailings to FPCC members to create dissension between different factions. Off memory that was within the USA (FBI led?) and aimed at creating dissension between SWP and CPUSA members, but I may not be remembering the detail.

So, in summary. To be an operation targeting the FPCC the planning would have to have been finished before the 17th September and orders issued so the timeline doesn't work. The actions of the Oswald identity in Mexico City would need to be of a type that could plausibly lead to damage to the FPCC, which they were not. I do also read the document as being very focused on written disinformation materials, although that is open to interpretation gramatically.

Suspect we may just have to cordially agree to disagree, but that's fine and totally acceptable (and important, actually) in any serious historical discussion.

Thanks again and I'll go on to the LIENVOY bit below

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13 hours ago, Bill Simpich said:

Anthony,

My next comment asks you to consider and address the recent problems that Mexico City was having with the security of LIENVOY - 

I bring this up because you write:

"Why would the interception of a phone conversation between an American citizen and the Soviet Embassy give rise to a concern about the security of LIENVOY?"

1.  The station was very concerned about LIENVOY's security as of September 1963

On August 6, 1963, the station wrote a memo focusing on a report "identifying and trapping of a (US) citizen who was offering his services to the Cuban embassy...posing as a Cuban embassy official to trap him into revealing his intentions."  The station was concerned that such a strategy might reveal the existence of LIENVOY to the Cubans.

On September 28, 1963 - a man and a woman were recorded on the LIENVOY line - yet the record of that call was entirely suppressed by the CIA station.  Why?   My supposition is that the Agency was concerned that now the Cubans knew about LIENVOY, and feared there was a leak, and didn't want that to be generally known.

On October 1, 1963, a man calling himself Lee Oswald called back, and referred to his call on Sept 28.  That call was reported.  But not the Sept 28 call.  Why?

 

2.  Two of the four LIENVOY taps on the Cuban embassy were disconnected on September 23 - three days before LHO's alleged arrival in Mexico City

Two of the four LIENVOY taps on the Cuban embassy were disconnected on 9/23/63.  The LIENVOY taps were on cultural attache Teresa Proenza's line 14-13-26, and also on 14-42-37.  There is a reference to "three Cuban lines", but redactions prevent us from knowing what the third line was.  I see no signs of a LIENVOY tap on Sylvia Duran's line, 11-28-47.  

The Mexico City memo said that 25-07-95 was disconnected because Ramon Sinobas had gone back to Cuba, and the 14-92-14  line wasn't being used either.  I have seen Raul Aparicio use the 14-92-14 line, who was the Cubans' PR man.  (Sources on all this in State Secret, Chapter 4)

3.  The person who called the Soviet consulate on September 28 and October 1 was the same person - & may have been a Spanish-speaker

The September LIENVOY report, written by Scott on 10/8/63,. also mentions that there were "two leads from LIENVOY of operational interest in September 1963".  Neither of these calls were the Sept 28 call from "Duran and Oswald" to the Soviet consulate is not mentioned.https://www.maryferrell.org/mffweb/archive/viewer/showDoc.do?docId=53528&relPageId=4

However, the October LIENVOY report does mention that "MEXI-6453 reported a (October 1) contact by an English-speaking man with the Soviet embassy in Mexico City.  This was forwarded to Headquarters for further dissemination".   This, of course, was the phone call where a man identified himself as "Lee Oswald", speaking in broken Russian before resorting to English.  Why do these reports ignore on what I assess as a September 28 Duran-Oswald call? 

Even if you disagree with their identities, it seems clear that this call was mistrusted from the day it was made, and was held very closely as a secret. 

It was revealed to the FBI on October 16 that Lee Henry Oswald had been at the Soviet embassy on Sept 28, with the FBI indicating an "extremely sensitive source" - the phrase usually used for LIENVOY.

The October 1 call, however, was trumpeted far and wide throughout the Agency and to other governmental agencies.  Even though it is unquestioned that Tarasoff identified that the September 28 caller and the October 1 caller were the same person.

Ostensibly, as of October 8, Scott did not consider these Sept 28 and Oct. 1 LIENVOY calls as "operational".   He only considered the October 1 call as operational, and only after he had received the October 10 memo from Headquarters. 

There is also a note from author Ron Kessler stating that:   “…both the Mexican monitors (according to Arehart, outside staff agent) said caller (who called himself Oswald) had difficulty making himself understood (as I recall) in both English and Russian".   In other words, the caller's native tongue may have been Spanish.


 

Hi again Bill

The question of if concern over the security of LIENVOY lay behind the 'marked cards' of the 10th October was how I originally got interested in digging into Mexico City as I have always had difficulty with that hypothesis from a practical operational perspective. Let's consider the practicalities...

If I were a KGB officer in Mexico City in 1963 I would be working on a standard assumption for all embassies that we could be being bugged at any time, so a desire to test out that possibility is perfectly reasonable. You are right to highlight how sensitive Langley was to any action that might risk exposing LIENVOY and the starting position has to include a possibility that the Soviets picked up on the actions you describe, so we have to consider to possibility of the KGB poison pill carefully. 'Oswald's' visits might have been a reasonable opportunity to test out possible telephone taps by inserting a fake call using the Oswald name and seeing if the Americans reacted to a possible re-re-defector (if that is even a term). To be a practical plan I would need to have a way of detecting the American reaction through a suitably placed source and clear the idea with my superiors (just in case LIENVOY was already blown without my knowing about it and my bosses were already happily passing false intelligence through it, or were otherwise interested in Oswald etc etc.). So whilst the telephone calls seem a bit quick off the mark in terms of getting approval I don't really have a problem with the basic possibility of a Soviet 'poison pill' and I had to consider that scenario.

The problem really comes up with what happened next. If this was a Soviet poison pill to detect LIENVOY, the CIA was remarkably co-operative in their reaction to it. Memo's about it went back and forth between Mexico and Langley, with officers from CI, WH3 and SR all getting involved. MEXI were told to inform quite a range of people in the embassy as to the basic fact that 'Oswald' contacted the Soviet embassy and indeed the FBI locally went off and queried all their informants and sub-informants about him during October. Meanwhile Langely was letting a whole host of people, in State, the FBI, the INS and ONI know they were interested in Oswald. If the Soviets had a source in any of these groups and were tracking this to detect US interest in Oswald it should have got back to the KGB (and there would have been no point in planting the poison pill unless you thought you had some way to tell if it had been swallowed).

The above actions might be OK if the CIA were not concerned about a Soviet source. As the twin memos of the 10th October are so clearly marked cards that hypothesis is untenable. I can't see a scenario in which the CIA were worried about the security of LIENVOY but in reaction to that planted marked cards that, if they were taken up by the KGB, would confirm to the KGB that they were being tapped in Mexico City if the KGB was actually watching out for that indicator...it just doesn't make any sense.

We can also be sure that LIENVOY was not blown. There is a document on the Mary Ferrell site, for example from 1965 describing LIENVOY material being sent back to Langley.

That was were I got to about a year ago when I started going back through the whole thing in micro-detail in terms of the activity in Mexico City itself. I wanted to try to find a scenario that worked operationally and initially came to a shortlist of four scenarios, with a fifth emerging later:

1. Oswald acted totally independently (a 'lone nut') but CI/SIG used that event opportunistically.

2. Oswald was brought down to Mexico City as part of an anti-FPCC operation, but then went 'off piste' in trying to get a visa as part of his efforts to go back to the USSR.

3. Oswald was brought down to Mexico as part of a fragmentation effort against the Cubans, again going 'rogue' in terms of the visa request (with thanks to Larry Hancock for the core idea).

4. Oswald was brought to Mexico to be the access asset in an attempt to get Bakulin to defect, after the FBI blocked the use of their assets and the CIA ruled out using LIMOTORs over concern for the future careers of the students, and again went 'rogue'. This was my initial preferred choice, but until recently all of 1-4 remained 'in play' but an awkward little fact discussed below has shifted that view.

5. The proposal I outline in the above paper.

All of these apart from option 5 involve the CIA reacting to Oswald opportunistically, but with someone using the phone calls for their own purposes. Only option 5 has the whole thing as a CI/SIG operation.

Gradually options 1-4 became less likely. It would take a reasonable sized book to discuss them all in detail but just one really key element is the early modification of his 201 file, prior to the events in Mexico City. That seems to argue strongly that the events there were planned and expected by Egerter. That one little fact means I have moved to proposing a scenario in which this was planned by CI/SIG from the start. As the nature of the marked cards themselves makes it inconcievable to me that the CIA had serious concerns about LIENVOY itself I then needed an scenario in which there was some reason for CI/SIG to want to test out the possibility of a Soviet mole in Mexico City and in ideally most of the State Department, INS, FBI and ONI, but with a concern not based on Oswald himself...and there it was, concern over a 'high level of penetration of the FBI' and concern that Bakulin had tested LAROB with fake information about travelling to San Diego on a German passport. A serious concern on the right timeline involving the right organisations (apart from the ONI) and where Oswald could be set up to provide a reasonable reason for the queries to go out, as long as he could be made to look fairly innocuous. The marked cards weren't unduly rushed, stripped right back to suggest the CIA didn't know much about him and sufficiently vague (in terms of the memo that went to national headquarters) concerning the source (reliable and sensitive) to leave open a humint source as a possibility. A risk, certainly, but a calculated one and for a potential big prize if there was a 'high level of penetration'.

Looks like the Soviets and Cubans took the view that 'Oswald' was a provocateur...probably correctly, and didn't react, but that is my current opinion based only on the absence of evidence of any reaction and later statements by some of the witnesses.

As always very open to persuasion. The key thing that would alter my opinion as to the range of possible scenarios would be an operational scenario in which it wasn't required to assume CI/SIG were totally incompetent and that then somehow didn't blow LIENVOY by the Soviets somehow not picking up on their poison pill. If there is a reasonable case to be made to avoid the early modification of the 201 that would also be very significant and re-open scenarios 1-4 (and possibly others that other people may be able to think of too).

Cheers

Anthony

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