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Thomas C. Mann

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For sometime I have been trying to find the person who linked Suite 8F, the CIA, the oil industry, the State Department and Lyndon Johnson together. I think I have found him: Thomas Clinton Mann.

If you type in “Thomas Clinton Mann” into Goggle you get at number one the Wikipedia entry:


As is usually the case, it is what the entry does not contain is the most revealing.

Mann was born in Laredo, Texas, on 11th November, 1912. Mann went to Baylor University in 1929 and graduated five years later. In 1934 he began work as a lawyer in Texas. It was in the 1930s that Mann got to know Lyndon Johnson. In an interview he gave to Joe Franz in November 1968, Mann admits that he first met LBJ during this period. However, he claims that they did not close at this period because LBJ was more interested in domestic issues whereas his main concern was foreign affairs.

In 1942 Mann joined the Department of State and held various diplomatic posts in Uruguay (1942-43) and Venezuela (1947-49) before being appointed director of the State Department's Office of Inter-American Affairs.

In the summer of 1950, Tommy Corcoran, who worked for United Fruit Company, went to see Mann in his office in Washington. Corcoran told Mann he was worried that Jacobo Arbenz would win the forthcoming election in Guatemala. He asked Mann: "Does our government have any program for bringing about the election of a middle-of-the-road candidate in Guatemala?" According to Mann, he replied: "No, we don't. That is for the people of that country to decide."

However, we now know that Mann, like Eisenhower, did give their approval for what became known as “Operation Success”, the CIA operation to overthrow Arbenz. This was an operation that involved David Phillips, David Morales, Henry Hecksher, Carl E. Jenkins, Tracy Barnes, Howard Hunt, Richard Bissell and Rip Robertson.

We also now know that the State Department was very much against this CIA operation. A State Department policy paper in August 1953 stated: “Our secret stimulation and material support of the overthrow of the Arbenz Government should subject us to serious hazards. Experience has shown that no such operation could be carried on secretly without great risk of its leadership and backers being fully known. Were it to become evident that the United States had tried a Czechoslovakia in reverse in Guatemala, the effects on our relations in this hemisphere, and probably the world at large, could be as disastrous as those produced by open intervention.”

The overthrow of Arbenz in June 1954 shows that it was the CIA and not the State Department that was running U.S. foreign policy.

Two weeks after the overthrow of Arbenz in Guatemala, Thomas Mann arrived in the country as deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy. Before this he had been working with George Joannides in the U.S. Embassy in Greece.

In the 1968 interview with Joe Franz, Mann was asked: “Would you care to comment on whether the revolution against Arbenz was CIA - directed, inspired?” Mann replied: “No, I wouldn't comment on that even if I knew, because I don't think one should.” Franz then asked: “Is there conflict between the Central Intelligence Agency and the State Department? Do they work independently of each other, or do they try to fuse their efforts?” Mann replied: “You know, this is the same kind of question we were talking about a minute ago. If you have a strong Assistant Secretary or a strong Ambassador or a strong Secretary of State, there is no problem with control. It's where people abdicate their responsibility that the troubles come. I never had any trouble in controlling any bureau or embassy that I was in charge of, and that goes for the CIA. I think they're a very valuable service, and their main function is information gathering. If one were to imagine where we would be without the CIA, then I think you'd begin to see things in perspective. Of course, they're never able to publicize their successes, so people get a distorted view.”

In September 1955 President Dwight D. Eisenhower appointed Mann as the U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador. In October 1957 Mann became Assistant Secretary of State for Economic Affairs. He also held the post of Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs (August 1960 - January 1961).

When it was decided to overthrow Castro in Cuba, it was only natural that the CIA reassembled the team that had brought down Arbenz in Guatemala. It was decided that Mexico City should be the base of the operation.

At the time, Winston Scott was head of the CIA station in Mexico. Although his extreme right-wing views made him attractive to this group, it seems that he was definitely kept in the dark about certain aspects of the plan.

What is really interesting is that LBJ lobbied JFK when he became president, to appoint Thomas Mann as the US ambassador to Mexico. JFK agreed and Mann arrived in Mexico City in January 1961. According to Scott’s reports officer, Anne Goodpasture, Scott got on better with Mann than previous ambassadors.

David Phillips was the next to arrive in Mexico City. He worked under Scott and the two men got on very well together. In April 1963 Scott wrote that: "His (Phillips) comprehensive understanding of human beings combined with a thorough knowledge of covert action techniques and his fluent Spanish make him unusually valuable... He is the most outstanding Covert Action officer that this rating officer has ever worked with."

At the same time, David Morales and Carl E. Jenkins had arrived at JM WAVE in Miami to work under Ted Shackley, Chief of Base for the Cuban Project. Jenkins was responsible for selection and training of cadre, assignment of officers for invasion brigade, maritime infiltration and operational management of small teams and individual agents.

Win Scott suggested to Richard Helms that Phillips should become his deputy station chief. However, in June 1963, Helms decided to appoint Phillips as Chief of Cuban Operations. Desmond FitzGerald arrived in Mexico City to tell Phillips that he had the freedom to roam the entire Western Hemisphere mounting secret operations to get rid of Fidel Castro. Phillips also provided support to organizations such as the DRE via George Joannides.

When Oswald or/and his impostor arrived in Mexico City in September 1963 the man/men were closely watched by the CIA. As reports officer, Anne Goodpasture, pointed out, 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.” Oswald or his impostor was clearly of great interest to the CIA.

Information on Oswald was collected by four different CIA operations: LEINVOY, LIEMPTY, AMSPELL and LIERODE. Scott ran the first two whereas Phillips controlled the last two.

As Win Scott points out in his declassified memoir: "Every piece of information concerning Lee Harvey Oswald was reported immediately after it was received to: U.S. Ambassador Thomas C. Mann, by memorandum; the FBI Chief in Mexico, by memorandum; and to my headquarters by cable; and included in each and every one of these reports was the entire conversation Oswald had, from Cuban Consulate, with the Soviet Embassy".

Scott was later to discover that the CIA in Washington was not sharing the information they had on Oswald via AMSPELL and LIERODE. John Whitten, the CIA section chief on Mexico based in Washington was also denied this information. He carried out the initial CIA investigation into Oswald and when he started asking questions about what had been going on in Mexico City, he was immediately replaced by James Angleton.

When Gilberto Alvarado contacted the U.S. embassy in Mexico City on 25th November 1963 and said he had some important information about Lee Harvey Oswald. It was David Phillips who was brought in to interview him. After a long session with Alvarado he declared that Alvarado was telling the truth. Mann also seemed convinced that the assassination of JFK was part of a communist conspiracy.

Interestingly, Scott doubted Alvarado’s story (although he continued to accept that Oswald was part of a communist conspiracy). He was now aware that Phillips was a member of a group that included Richard Helms, James Angleton and Tom Karamessines, who did know what had been going on in Mexico City.

Scott felt betrayed by Phillips and Angleton and November 1963 marked a change in their relationship.

What we now also know is that the Phillips inspired plan to blame Fidel Castro for the assassination of JFK was abandoned by the end of November. Instead, Oswald was now to be presented as the lone gunman.

Mann and Scott were shocked by these developments. As Mann pointed out in an interview with Dick Russell in 1990, “it was the strangest experience of my life”. As Jeff Morley points out: “Why would senior U.S. government officials, every one of whom professed to loathe Fidel Castro and more than a few of whom had countenanced conspiracies to murder him, refuse to investigate contacts between his government and the man who just killed the president with a gunshot to the head? Why would they want to prevent examination of the seemingly pregnant possibility that the pro-Castro Oswald was part of a communist plot, especially at a time when Gilberto Alvarado, vouched for by David Phillips, the chief of Cuba operations in Mexico, was still being questioned?”



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Namebase entry for Thomas C. Mann



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