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Jefferson Morley: Our Man in Mexico


Michael Hogan
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Tony,

I forgot about the October 10 notice to the FBI and others about Oswald's Russian embassy visit; I should have said "not much was done" instead of "it seems nothing was done to alert law enforcement". The CIA knew more about Oswald than they put in their cable notice; for example, his AMSPELL confrontations and his Cuban embassy visit.

You don't seem to want to address the basis for your dismissal of the CIA's own officers testimony that they saw Oswald photos, and Win Scott's assertions that Oswald was observed at the Cuban embassy.

Nevertheless, you wrote that: "If [CIA was] aware that he had been to the Cuban Embassy prior to the assassination ... why [would they] not acknowledge that he was at the Cuban Embassy?"

The same reasons that were cited earlier, both speculative of course: the desire to compartmentalize the Cuban embassy surveillance program, run by David Phillips as part of the close-knit Cuban operations; and possibly as well to restrict knowledge of a CIA operational interest in Oswald, which might be compromised by disclosing that Oswald visited both embassies.

In answer to your question "s your position that the State Department, the FBI, and the Department of the Navy were alerted to Oswald being at the Cuban Embassy but they, too, are covering it up?", no, I don't think the CIA told them about the Cuban visit for the reasons cited above.

You wrote that "I think that Morley tied in the 4 CIA collection programs with the alleged trip, and he took the position that the CIA would have had specific information on Oswald and the alleged trip. Morley is basing his entire theory on Oswald having made the trip ... ".

Is this statement based on your reading of the book?

You wrote that "[Y]ou have not cited any proof that Oswald made the trip and passed through 4 CIA collection programs."

No one has proof, but we do have evidence, some of which is the testimony of CIA officers that saw photos and tapes; Win Scott's writings; and declassified CIA documents.

You wrote that "On the other hand, there is plenty of evidence that he was impersonated in Mexico in order to give LBJ the impression that Khrushchev and Castro were involved in the assassination."

Clearly you've studied this case. And I readily admit the story of Oswald in Mexico City is murky.

However, respectfully, you seem averse to information that does not fit your theory that Oswald was impersonated. Read Our Man in Mexico. It will challenge your outlook on the subject and help you test your hypothesis.

Steve

Edited by Steve Rosen
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One of the most interesting aspects of Jeff Morley’s book, “Our Man in Mexico”, is his account of Sylvia Duran, a Mexican employee in the Cuban consulate in Mexico City.

At 11.00 a.m. on Friday, 27th September, 1963, Oswald told Duran that he wished to travel to the Soviet Union via Cuba. Duran told him that he would need a passport photograph to apply for a visa for Cuba. He returned an hour later with the photograph. Duran then told him he would need to visit the Soviet embassy to get the necessary paperwork. This he did but Vice Consul Oleg Nechiperenko informed him that the visa application would be sent to the Soviet embassy in Washington and would take about four months. Oswald then returned to the Cuban consulate at 4.00 and lied to Duran about his meeting with Nechiperenko. Duran checked Oswald’s story on the phone and after a brief argument he left the consulate. Six times Oswald needed to pass the newly installed LIERODE camera.

The CIA surveillance program worked and on Monday, 30th September, Anne Goodpasture recorded details of Oswald’s visits to the Cuban consulate. As Goodpasture noted, the two types of “security” information that most interested the CIA station concerned “U.S. citizens initiating or maintaining contact with the Cuban and Soviet diplomatic installations” and “travel to Cuba by U.S. citizens or residents.” (page 182)

The CIA tape of the Oswald call was marked “urgent” and was delivered to the station within 15 minutes of it taking place. Win Scott read Goodpasture’s report and next to the transcript of Duran’s call to the Soviet embassy, he wrote: “Is it possible to identify”.

It later emerged that the CIA station in Mexico was already monitoring Sylvia Duran. According to David Phillips and Win Scott, the CIA surveillance program had revealed that Duran was having an affair with Carlos Lechuga, the former Cuban ambassador in Mexico City, who was in 1963 serving as Castro’s ambassador to the United Nations. We also now know that Lechuga was involved in the secret negotiations with Lisa Howard on behalf of JFK.

Soon after the assassination of JFK Win Scott contacted Luis Echeverria and asked his men to arrest Sylvia Duran. He also told Diaz Ordaz that Duran was to be held incommunicado until she gave all details of her contacts with Oswald. Scott then reported his actions to CIA headquarters. Soon afterwards, John Whitten, the CIA head of the Mexican desk, called Scott with orders from Tom Karamessines that Duran was not to be arrested. Win told them it was too late and that the Mexican government would keep the whole thing secret. Karamessines replied with a telegram that began: “Arrest of Sylvia Duran is extremely serious matter which could prejudice U.S. freedom of action on entire question of Cuban responsibility.”

What did Karamessines mean by this? Why did he not want the Mexicans to find out? What we do know is that John Whitten was also surprised by Karamessines’ order and initially opposed sending the message to Scott.

Duran, her husband and five other people were arrested. Duran was “interrogated forcefully” (Duran was badly bruised during the interview). Echeverria reported to Scott that Duran had been “completely cooperative” and had made a detailed statement. This statement matched the story of the surveillance transcripts, with one exception. The tapes indicated that Duran made another call to the Soviet embassy on Saturday, 28th September. Duran then put an American on the line who spoke incomprehensible Russian. This suggests that the man could not have been Oswald who spoke the language well.

Duran was released but was then rearrested and questioned about her relationship with Oswald. Despite being roughed up she denied having a sexual relationship with Oswald. Echeverria believed her and she was released. However, Duran later admitted to a close friend that she had dated Oswald while he was in Mexico City.

A week after the assassination Elena Garro reported that she had seen Oswald at a party held by people from the Cuban consulate in September 1963. The following week, June Cobb, a CIA informant, confirmed Oswald presence at the party. She also had been told that Oswald was sleeping with Duran. Win Scott reported this information to CIA headquarters but never got a reply. (page 241)

Why did the CIA want Sylvia Duran kept out of this story? One released document reveals that a Mexican source on the CIA payroll suggested that it would be very easy to recruit Duran as a spy. (page 210) Did Karamessines via Phillips recruit Duran as a spy? If so, Win Scott and John Whitten were kept out of the loop. Why? Was there an unofficial CIA operation involving Duran and Oswald? To be more correct, someone posing as Oswald.

It later emerged that when Duran was interviewed by the Mexican authorities soon after the assassination she described the man who visited the Cuban consul's office as being "blond-haired" and with "blue or green eyes". Neither detail fits in with the authentic Oswald. But these details had been removed from the statement by the time it reached the Warren Commission.

Duran was interviewed by the House Select Committee on Assassinations in 1978. This testimony is classified. However, in 1979 Duran told the author, Anthony Summers that she told the HSCA that the man who visited the office was about her size (5 feet 3.5 inches). This created problems as Oswald was 5 feet 9.5 inches. When Summers showed Duran a film of Oswald taken at the time of his arrest, Duran said: "The man on the film is not like the man I saw here in Mexico City."

Win Scott died on 26th April, 1971, while he was negotiating with the CIA about publishing his memoirs that included an account of Oswald’s time in Mexico. Scott told Helms that he would not be talked out of publishing the book.

When Anne Goodpasture heard the news of Scott’s death she went straight to Jim Angleton’s office to tell him that Scott had classified documents in his home safe (Scott had tapes and photos of Oswald). Angleton went straight to Mexico City and took control of this material).

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It later emerged that when Duran was interviewed by the Mexican authorities soon after the assassination she described the man who visited the Cuban consul's office as being "blond-haired" and with "blue or green eyes". Neither detail fits in with the authentic Oswald. But these details had been removed from the statement by the time it reached the Warren Commission.

Duran was interviewed by the House Select Committee on Assassinations in 1978. This testimony is classified. However, in 1979 Duran told the author, Anthony Summers that she told the HSCA that the man who visited the office was about her size (5 feet 3.5 inches). This created problems as Oswald was 5 feet 9.5 inches. When Summers showed Duran a film of Oswald taken at the time of his arrest, Duran said: "The man on the film is not like the man I saw here in Mexico City."

John,

In light of all available information, do you believe that Oswald was actually in Mexico, or was he simply impersonated?

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John,

In light of all available information, do you believe that Oswald was actually in Mexico, or was he simply impersonated?

Clearly there was someone claiming to be Oswald in Mexico City in September 1963. Some witnesses did supply evidence to Winston Scott claiming that Oswald was also in Mexico City. However, it is possible that this evidence was manufactured in an attempt to link the assassination of JFK to Cuba. Steve Rosen puts it well when he says: "No one has proof, but we do have evidence, some of which is the testimony of CIA officers that saw photos and tapes; Win Scott's writings; and declassified CIA documents." I think Win Scott definitely believed Oswald was in Mexico City and he was someone who had seen the photographs and heard the tapes.

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Jeff, I have just finished “Our Man in Mexico”. It is a magnificent achievement. In fact, it is the best book I have read on a CIA official. I read it straight after David Kaiser’s “The Road to Dallas”. It is interesting to compare the two books. David makes much of the fact that he is a historian and not a journalist. However, your book reads like the work of a trained historian whereas The Road to Dallas is full of speculation that relies heavily on selective use of the documentary evidence.

What do you make of Sylvia Duran’s interview with Anthony Summers where she claims that she told the HSCA that the man who visited the office was about her size (5 feet 3.5 inches)? When Summers showed Duran a film of Oswald taken at the time of his arrest, Duran said: "The man on the film is not like the man I saw here in Mexico City."

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I wonder if Sylvia Duran was ever shown a picture of the Mexico City mystery man? Some people have identified this man as Saul Sage.

It would be interesting to know if she could/did identify this man, and what name she would give him.

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On page 179 of "Our Man in Mexico" Jeff Morley points out that Stanley Watson, Win Smith's deputy chief of station and Joseph Piccolo, a CIA counterintelligence officer in Mexico City, both claimed to have seen photographs of Oswald entering and leaving the Cuban Embassy.

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John Simkin Posted Today, 11:24 AM

On page 179 of "Our Man in Mexico" Jeff Morley points out that Stanley Watson, Win Smith's deputy chief of station and Joseph Piccolo, a CIA counterintelligence officer in Mexico City, both claimed to have seen photographs of Oswald entering and leaving the Cuban Embassy.

Ok, this is interesting. From this information I understand that there are two LHO impersonators in Mexico in 1963 - in addition to the authentic LHO. The man approximately Sylvia Duran's height at 5ft 3½in. The widespread mystery man (Saul Sage) photographed and mistakenly identified as Oswald in the early stages of the investigation.

Also then the questions, why did the CIA release (to the FBI) the Saul Sage photo's and why were these initially identified as LHO? This is odd as it was early on assumed that LHO had indeed been to Mexico and that he had visited the Emabassies there. If Lee had indeed been there, why the fake LHO photos?

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What do you make of Sylvia Duran’s interview with Anthony Summers where she claims that she told the HSCA that the man who visited the office was about her size (5 feet 3.5 inches)? When Summers showed Duran a film of Oswald taken at the time of his arrest, Duran said: "The man on the film is not like the man I saw here in Mexico City."

I know she said that but I don't believe it. Azcue said the man was Oswald. The photo on the visa application was Oswald.

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What do you make of Sylvia Duran’s interview with Anthony Summers where she claims that she told the HSCA that the man who visited the office was about her size (5 feet 3.5 inches)? When Summers showed Duran a film of Oswald taken at the time of his arrest, Duran said: "The man on the film is not like the man I saw here in Mexico City."

I know she said that but I don't believe it. Azcue said the man was Oswald. The photo on the visa application was Oswald.

Ed Lopez, a staff member for the HSCA, asked Sylvia Duran how much the person using Oswald's name weighed, and she said, “About your weight.”

She also said, “He has stronger shoulders, perhaps, than yours.”

Lopez then stated, “Just for the record, my weight is 199 pounds.”

Duran also testified that the man she saw “didn’t have very much hair.”

When asked if his hair line was “receding,” she said, “Yeah, yeah. Quite a bit.”

But less than two months after the alleged visit to Mexico, the autopsy report on Oswald stated he was only 5 feet, 9 inches and weighed 150 pounds, which is exactly what Oswald put on his job applications, including his application for employment at the Texas School Book Depository on October 15, less than three weeks after the alleged Mexico visit.

Sylvia Duran, who spoke with someone weighing as much as the 199-pound Lopez, but with “stronger shoulders,” a receding hair line, and not very much hair, obviously did not speak with Lee Harvey Oswald, who, besides being 5 feet, 9 inches and 150 pounds, had a slender build and a full head of hair. Duran’s description matched the description of the man photographed by the CIA at the Soviet Embassy, the KGB officer in the CIA who impersonated Oswald.

A CIA memo states that in 1978, Eusebio Azcue, a Cuban Consul who spoke with the person using Oswald's name, “said that the man who applied for a visa was not the man shown on TV as Lee Harvey Oswald.”

Azcue stated at a gathering in Havana, “In no way did the person I saw in film and photographs resemble the person who visited me.”

And interestingly, when CIA Headquarters sent a cable to the Mexico City station on October 10, 1963, they stated that there is a 23-year-old defector named Oswald, who is “five feet ten inches” tall, and weighs “one hundred sixty five pounds.”

When the DPD put out a description of JFK's alleged assassin, they, too, said that he was “five feet ten inches” tall, and “one hundred sixty five pounds.”

Both descriptions add exactly fifteen pounds to LHO's weight and one inch to his height.

Edited by Tony Frank
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Kelly on Kaiser's The Road to Dallas:

http://jfkcountercoup.blogspot.com/

Great review. Will you be doing one on Jeff Morley's Our Man in Mexico.

Done:

http://jfkcountercoup.blogspot.com/2008_03_01_archive.html

And got the interesting feedback from Catherine:

b16-rounded.gifCatherine said... I am a relative of the "vivacious" Paula Murray Scott, married to Win Scott, and mother to Michael. The other incontrovertible fact about their relationship is that the circumstances surrounding her death (cause of death) remain, to this day, unexplained -- "mysterious".

She was my great aunt, by all accounts a woman of great beauty and intelligence.

Her family were told that she had died of cancer, although she had never complained of any symptoms to them in her frequent contacts with them.

Yet another unsolved mystery. It is curious that Michael Scott has been fated to work on a program about unsolved mysteries.

April 22, 2008 8:34 PM

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  • 2 weeks later...
Kelly on Kaiser's The Road to Dallas:

http://jfkcountercoup.blogspot.com/

Great review. Will you be doing one on Jeff Morley's Our Man in Mexico.

Done:

http://jfkcountercoup.blogspot.com/2008_03_01_archive.html

I have added a link to this review from my JFK index page. I have also added it to my page on you.

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/JFKkellyW.htm

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/JFKindex.htm

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  • 4 weeks later...

One of the most interesting aspects of Jeff Morley's book, Our Man in Mexico, is that he has access to David Phillips' unpublished novel on the JFK assassination. Jeff reveals that the title of this novel was "The AMLASH Legacy". We now know that AMLASH was the code-name for the CIA operation to kill Fidel Castro.

On page 238 Jeff points out:

The notion that David Phillips or Angleton and his Counterintelligence team ran a closely held operation involving Oswald in the weeks before Kennedy was killed has become less implausible as more records have come into public view. Phillips himself entertained such a scenario later in life. In addition to two nonfiction memoirs, Phillips also wrote novels of espio¬nage. When he died in 1987, he left behind an outline for a novel about the Mexico City station in 1963, entitled "The AMLASH Legacy" The leading characters were explicitly based on Win Scott, James Angleton, and David Phillips himself. The role of the Phillips character in the events of 1963 was described as follows:

I was one of the two case officers who handled Lee Harvey Oswald. After working to establish his Marxist bona fides, we gave him the mission of killing Fidel Castro in Cuba. I helped him when he came to Mexico City to obtain a visa, and when he returned to Dallas to wait for it I saw him twice there. We rehearsed the plan many times: In Havana Oswald was to assassinate Castro with a sniper's rifle from the upper floor window of a building on the route where Castro often drove in an open jeep. Whether Oswald was a double-agent or a psycho I'm not sure, and I don't know why he killed Kennedy. But I do know he used precisely the plan we had devised against Castro. Thus the CIA did not anticipate the President's assassination but it was responsible for it. I share that guilt.

The outline for a novel cannot be taken as proof of anything save the workings of Phillips's imagination, but it is tantalizing. "The CIA did not anticipate the President's assassination but it was responsible for it. I share that guilt." Phillips was not one to impugn the agency just to make a buck. After his retirement he founded the Association of Foreign Intelligence Agents and served as its chief spokesman, ably defending the CIA from its critics without much compensation. He always insisted that his espionage fiction was realistic and denounced those who sought to cash in on JFK conspiracy scenarios. The outline for the novel suggests that the notion that a CIA officer like himself would recruit a schemer like Oswald in a conspiracy to kill Castro did not strike Phillips as too improbable to sell or too unfair to the agency to market under his own name.

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  • 3 weeks later...
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Jefferson Morley is appearing on the ‘The Cedric Muhammad and Black Coffee Program’ on Wednesday, January 20, 2010, at 2 p.m. EST. The show runs from 12 p.m. and 5 p.m EST.

See http://zh-hk.facebook.com/note.php?note_id...ents&ref=mf

- Exclusive Q & A With Jefferson Morley, Former Staff Writer For The Washington Post Who Has Filed A Lawsuit Against The CIA over the records of George Joannides, the former Chief of Psychological Operations For the CIA’s Miami station

(we’ll discuss the relevance of the case to the assassination of JFK; President Obama’s recent Executive Order establishing a Declassification Center: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office...ity-information ; and COINTELPRO and the news in December that that the Department of Homeland Security improperly spied on the Nation of Islam: http://www.finalcall.com/artman/publish/Na...cle_6682.shtml)

* ‘The Cedric Muhammad and Black Coffee Program Broadcasts Live Each Wednesday from 12 to 5 PM EST (USA) at BlackElectorate.com (http://blackelectorate.com) and Cedricmuhammad.com at: http://www.cedricmuhammad.com/media/

- Steve

Edited by Steve Rosen
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