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On the Origins of the AFIO


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On the Origins of the AFIO. By William Kelly

Former CIA director Allen Dulles wrote a letter to a CBS executive in 1967 suggesting an idea for a television program, saying that, “…something should be done in the field of television with regards to intelligence which would be somewhat comparable to what the FBI is now doing effectively in that field….”

“I feel there is now in the public domain as the result of a series of publications, book articles, and newspaper reports relating to various phases of intelligence which could furnish the background material which might be used without a formal sponsor…”

Shortly thereafter, two Texas men – former CIA officer David Atlee Phillips and Dallas broadcast millionaire Gordon McLendon began planning the production of a television series based on the exploits of CIA agents.

David Atlee Phillips, the founder of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO), initiated the project, pitching it to CBS executive producer Larry Thompson, who developed a pilot program with Don Penny, Gerald Ford’s former speech writer, and the advice of Phillips’ association of former intelligence officers.

Thompson was quoted as saying, “Ideally, we’d like to show that people in the CIA are American citizens with families and a job to do.”

One possible true-to-life script they can still use is how Allen Dulles, David Atlee Phillips and Gordon McLendon all became entwined in the events surrounding the murder of President Kennedy. David Phillips and Gordon McLendon picked up on Dulles' idea and tried to develop it further.

After being forced out as head of the CIA by Kennedy following the Bay of Pigs, Dulles served on the Warren Commission investigation in the President’s murder, and didn’t bother informing the other members of the commission that the CIA tried to, or at least plotted to kill Fidel Castro and other foreign leaders.

Although the Warren Commission concluded Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in murdering the President, the more recent official investigation by the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) and other independent investigations have concluded there is evidence of conspiracy in the assassination of the President.

Both Gordon McLendon and David Atlee Phillips , the men behind the CBS-CIA TV show, were questioned by HSCA investigators. McLendon denied knowing Jack Ruby very well, even though Ruby listed him as one of his closest friends, he patronized McLendon’s radio stations, reportedly made bets with McLendon on the outcome of football games, and repeatedly made phone calls to McLendon’s home and radio stations on the weekend of the assassination.

David Atlee Phillips, the former CIA official and founder of the Association of Retired Intelligence Officers, figured prominently in both the Senate and House committee probes.

Phillips worked at the Mexico City CIA station and was personally responsible for monitoring the Cuban embassy when Oswald was said to be there a few months before the assassination.

Phillips is also suspected of being the mysterious “Maurice Bishop,” a clandestine case officer who directed the activities of a network of anti-Castro Cubans, including Antonion Veciana Blanch of Alpha 66.

Phillips resigned from the CIA in the mid-70s and formed what is now the Association of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO), which included Gordon McLendon as one of its early members.

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