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Mexico City: The Tilton Anti-FPCC Memo Was Not Related To The Alleged ‘Oswald’s’ Activities in Mexico City


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Introduction:

 

This is the second in a short series of posts (probably four in total) on ‘the little incident in Mexico City’, as LBJ referred to it. The first considered some of the detail of the counter-intelligence operation that followed the interception of an alleged Oswald call to the Soviet Embassy on the 1st October

 

 

The purpose of this short note is to falsify the hypothesis that the Mexico City activities of the alleged Oswald was part of an anti-FPCC operation proposed by the CIA’s John Tilton to the FBI on the 16th September 1963 and involving Lambert Anderson of the FBI’s Nationalities Intelligence Section.

 

The Tilton Proposal:

 

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.

 

The FBI begin to act:

 

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

 

There are no further references to this disinformation operation that I have been able to find. It may simply have been overtaken by events as the FPCC National Committee in the USA shut down in December 1963, although some elements in Canada continued into 1964.

 

Discussion of the Tilton Proposal:

It is very difficult to see how the Tilton memo could possibly relate to LHO 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.

A third consideration is that the immediate counter-intelligence reaction to the identification of ‘Oswald’ (who was clearly being impersonated) in telephone calls to the Soviet Embassy. This was heavily focused on LCIMPROVE (counter intelligence operations against the Soviets). It included a strong initial focus on a particular double agent, LAROB, who was jointly run by the FBI and CIA in targeting his GRU case officer, Valentin Bakulin, as a potential defection target. The counter-intelligence response became quite extensive but was focused on the Soviet angle and also assets that might have been expected to physically encounter Oswald, but well away from anything to do with the sensitive wiretap operations and any association with Cuban operations to kept to a minimum.

http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/topic/26359-mexico-city-evidence-oswald-may-have-been-in-an-operation-targeting-bakulin/

 

Anderson’s viewing of Oswald’s File:

 

A second point that is sometime referred to is Anderson’s viewing of Oswald’s security file on the 16th September, and this is sometimes discussed in relation to the Tilton memo, suggesting the Anderson may have been considering using Oswald as part of the Tilton operation.

https://maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=57690#relPageId=123

 

This clearly does not work, as Papich forwarded Tilton’s request of the 16th September on the 18th September, two days after Anderson looked at LHO’s file. The more likely scenario is that Anderson was looking at the LHO file in response to the Hosty memo regarding LHO’s activities in New Orleans that was dated 10th September, but dated as received on the 13th September, which was a Friday. Anderson followed up on this on the next working day, Monday the 16th, by looking at Oswald’s file.

https://maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=117797#relPageId=118&tab=page

 

Conclusions:

·         Whatever Oswald and / or an impersonator was doing in Mexico City in late September and early October 1963 it was clearly unrelated to the proposed joint CIA-FBI anti-FPCC disinformation

          operation proposed by Tilton on the 16th September.

·         Anderson’s examination of Oswald’s file on Monday the 16th September was in response to his receipt of Hosty’s 10th September memo on Oswald, which he received on Friday 13th September.

·         The above conclusions do not totally eliminate the possibility that the activities of the alleged Oswald in Mexico City may have had some relation to anti-FPCC operations but the evidence for

          such a focus is much clearer from New Orleans during the summer of 1963, and to some extent earlier in the year in Dallas.

 

As always, any thoughts or corrections would be much appreciated.

 

 

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Fantastic stuff, Anthony. I myself could never believe that an anti-FPCC in foreign countries op would take up much priority by either agency at that time, and none of Oswald's behavior in MC made even a ripple of news at the time it occurred. Thank you for your efforts.

Edited by Matt Allison
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Anthony, I appreciate anyone who reads my book and deals with what I found.  Not many people have done it.

I wrote the book primarily for researchers, to encourage greater exploration.  So let me follow up - I'm not defensive - but I'm still digging.

I don't agree with your supposition.

Tilton had two objectives mentioned in the 9/18/63 memo - you only address one.

One was- yes - to fabricate documents and distributing propaganda through appropriate cut-outs.

But the other was that "CIA is also giving some thought to planting deceptive information which might embarrass the Committee in areas where it does have some support."

You did not address the issue about "planting deceptive information" in "areas" - like Mexico - where FPCC "does have some support".  That's what I think Tilton was up to.

Hosty made two points about Oswald and communism in his 9/10/63 memo

Take a look at Serial 36:  In two short paragraphs, Hosty said that Oswald was a subscriber to the Worker, New York’s Communist newspaper, and that he had a track record of distributing pamphlets in Dallas on behalf of the aforementioned Fair Play for Cuba Committee.

Two weeks later - the Oswald character - Oswald or not, I'm agnostic on that issue - shows up in front of Silvia Duran at the Cuban consulate and presents a card showing that he is a card-carrying Communist and documents showing that he is an FPCC activist.

The Oswald character is repeating the two central contentions of the Hosty memo re Oswald's communist connection.

Look at the HQ file 105-82555, serials 34 (Lee Oswald memo), 35 (Marina Oswald memo) and 36 (Hosty's general memo)

Hosty hid the existence of the security flash in his one-page memo on LHO.

There''s something really wrong with this Hosty memo of 9/10/63 (Serial 34).  He doesn't acknowledge the existence of the security flash - he fails to check the appropriate box.  This is critically important!    He sends this memo hiding the security flash to Anderson - you can see Anderson's name in the right hand side of the document.  

But...at the same time...although the pages are jumbled, the security flash for Lee Oswald is firmly in place.  The preceding two pages (pp. 122-123) are both reviewed by Anderson.  Anderson undoubtedly saw the security flash at that time.  The context makes it clear Anderson is reviewing both files together.

It looks like Anderson had all these serials on Oswald, communism, and the security flash by Sept. 13 - not the 16th

The FBI receives the files on Sept 13, according to this stamp.  Anderson's name is underneath, he may have reviewed it that day.  The following page, documenting LHO's arrest in New Orleans, is signed by Anderson with no date.  There is a reference to the HQ file being received dated 9/16/63.  The final page is the security flash, with a scribble next to it that is indistinct.   Everything indicates Anderson received these three serials and reviewed them on the 13th, not the 16th.  

This business of not mentioning the security flash is important.  Why didn't the security flash go off when the Oswald character went to Mexico, or when he returned?  Because he was using the name H. O. Lee, and his name had not yet hit the documents.   This is another indication that Hosty, Anderson and Tilton were up to something regarding Oswald - even if he didn't know he was being used, or how he was being used.

On Sept. 17 - the Oswald character in New Orleans managed to get a visa saying Harvey Oswald Lee on it - not Lee Harvey Oswald.

So when he crossed into Mexico on Sept 26 and back to the US on Oct 2 - no security flash went off.  

If the security flash had not been turned off on Oct. 9 - Oswald would have been carefully watched on Nov. 22

Gheesling turned it off on October 9 - the day that the first memo about Oswald in Mexico City reached the FBI - and the day before the twin 10/10/63 memos that identified Lee Oswald by name - and with two different descriptions!

By turning it off, it protected Oswald from being placed on the Security Index - if LHO had been on the Security Index, security would have been all over him in Dallas on 11/22/63.

Edited by Bill Simpich
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This might be helpful too...

Right before the 10/10 memos were created, the alarm that Oswald was a security risk was turned off

Meanwhile, the very men who dreamed up the notion of luring Oswald to Mexico City received one of the 10/10 memos. Even though the 10/10 memos were destined only for Soviet desks, the FBI copy was forwarded to the Nationalities Intelligence division which focused on Cuban affairs - and then directly into the hands of FBI supervisor Lambert Anderson. The words “Nat Int”, “Anderson”, and “Wannall” (Anderson’s boss) can be seen on the FBI’s copy of the memo. Ordinarily, there was no reason to forward this memo to Nationalities Intelligence - they did not work the Soviet beat. But, as we have seen from the beginning, Lambert Anderson was one of the two men at FBI headquarters who was specifically charged with handling the Oswald file and who had run the joint agency anti-FPCC operation. The other was FBI counterintelligence supervisor Marvin Gheesling, who had placed Oswald on the security watch list four years earlier when he went to the Soviet Union.

The day before the 10/10 twin memos were created, Gheesling took Oswald off the security watch list after talking with Lambert Anderson. Both Gheesling and Anderson had signed off on a watch list document placed in Oswald’s file on August 13 after Oswald was arrested in New Orleans for breach of the peace while leafleting for the FPCC. Gheesling wrote that once he learned that Oswald was arrested, he told Anderson that Oswald should be taken off the security watch list because he had inadvertently forgot to remove his name after Oswald’s return from the Soviet Union.[ 38 ] Anderson confirmed that someone had told him that the security flash had been removed because it was no longer necessary once Oswald had returned to the United States.

One immediate problem with both of their stories is that their boss Bill Branigan wrote on 11/22/63 that the very reason Oswald was put on the watch list was to ensure that “any subsequent arrest in the U.S. was brought to our attention”. So why take him off the list after he was arrested?

An even more intriguing problem, with Gheesling’s story in particular, is that he wrote that he removed Oswald’s name from the security watch list on October 9 right after he learned about Oswald’s arrest. Gheesling’s explanation flies in the face of the aforementioned watch list document showing that both Gheesling and Anderson knew about Oswald’s arrest around August 13. Gheesling’s name and initials “wmg” are also on other memos discussing Oswald and his arrest dated August 21 and August 23.

The probable solution is that Anderson got wind of a tip. On October 8 Anderson received a Sept. 24 report of Oswald’s arrest, which revealed Oswald’s request to speak with an FBI agent and share quite a bit of information while in jail.[ 39 ] My conclusion is that on the 9th the two men came to some kind of mutual understanding that Oswald was helpful to the FBI, and saw no reason to keep him on the security watch list. “Anderson” of “Nat. Int.” is written on the watch list file, underneath the date of October 10. As a result, no alarms went off at the FBI when the 10/8/63 memo about Oswald being in Mexico City and trying to contact Kostikov arrived on the 10th. Any alarm that might have sounded about Oswald being a security risk appears to have been deliberately turned off by Gheesling and Anderson.

The intriguing question is whether Gheesling and Anderson took Oswald off the security watch list based solely on the report about Oswald's cooperation with the FBI, or whether they had also been tipped off that a molehunt was about to begin with Oswald's file. The timing would suggest that both factors were in play.

If the officers in the Cuban division had received a copy of either one of the twin 10/10 memos, they would now know that the Cuban angle on the Oswald story had been methodically erased from the paper trail between CIA HQ and Mexico City. That would have been a key tipoff that an investigation had begun.

Patch worn by John S. Tilton
Patch worn by John S. Tilton when
he was running the assassination-driven
Phoenix Program in Vietnam.

Although none of the officers in the CIA’s Cuban division got a copy of either of the 10/10 memos, it does appear that Anderson got a copy of one of them. Anderson could have easily told Tilton. If that happened, then the CIA’s Cuban division officers could have learned about the 10/10 memo from Tilton. These officers had a number of ways to obtain this confirmation, but the Tilton route would have been one of the simplest. The only problem with this aspect is that it seems unlikely that Tilton would be willing to be a conduit to any organizers of a plan to kill the President, given that his role in the anti-FPCC operation was a matter of record within the Agency.

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11 hours ago, Bill Simpich said:

Anthony, I appreciate anyone who reads my book and deals with what I found.  Not many people have done it.

I wrote the book primarily for researchers, to encourage greater exploration.  So let me follow up - I'm not defensive - but I'm still digging.

I don't agree with your supposition.

Tilton had two objectives mentioned in the 9/18/63 memo - you only address one.

One was- yes - to fabricate documents and distributing propaganda through appropriate cut-outs.

But the other was that "CIA is also giving some thought to planting deceptive information which might embarrass the Committee in areas where it does have some support."

You did not address the issue about "planting deceptive information" in "areas" - like Mexico - where FPCC "does have some support".  That's what I think Tilton was up to.

Hosty made two points about Oswald and communism in his 9/10/63 memo

Take a look at Serial 36:  In two short paragraphs, Hosty said that Oswald was a subscriber to the Worker, New York’s Communist newspaper, and that he had a track record of distributing pamphlets in Dallas on behalf of the aforementioned Fair Play for Cuba Committee.

Two weeks later - the Oswald character - Oswald or not, I'm agnostic on that issue - shows up in front of Silvia Duran at the Cuban consulate and presents a card showing that he is a card-carrying Communist and documents showing that he is an FPCC activist.

The Oswald character is repeating the two central contentions of the Hosty memo re Oswald's communist connection.

Look at the HQ file 105-82555, serials 34 (Lee Oswald memo), 35 (Marina Oswald memo) and 36 (Hosty's general memo)

Hosty hid the existence of the security flash in his one-page memo on LHO.

There''s something really wrong with this Hosty memo of 9/10/63 (Serial 34).  He doesn't acknowledge the existence of the security flash - he fails to check the appropriate box.  This is critically important!    He sends this memo hiding the security flash to Anderson - you can see Anderson's name in the right hand side of the document.  

But...at the same time...although the pages are jumbled, the security flash for Lee Oswald is firmly in place.  The preceding two pages (pp. 122-123) are both reviewed by Anderson.  Anderson undoubtedly saw the security flash at that time.  The context makes it clear Anderson is reviewing both files together.

It looks like Anderson had all these serials on Oswald, communism, and the security flash by Sept. 13 - not the 16th

The FBI receives the files on Sept 13, according to this stamp.  Anderson's name is underneath, he may have reviewed it that day.  The following page, documenting LHO's arrest in New Orleans, is signed by Anderson with no date.  There is a reference to the HQ file being received dated 9/16/63.  The final page is the security flash, with a scribble next to it that is indistinct.   Everything indicates Anderson received these three serials and reviewed them on the 13th, not the 16th.  

This business of not mentioning the security flash is important.  Why didn't the security flash go off when the Oswald character went to Mexico, or when he returned?  Because he was using the name H. O. Lee, and his name had not yet hit the documents.   This is another indication that Hosty, Anderson and Tilton were up to something regarding Oswald - even if he didn't know he was being used, or how he was being used.

On Sept. 17 - the Oswald character in New Orleans managed to get a visa saying Harvey Oswald Lee on it - not Lee Harvey Oswald.

So when he crossed into Mexico on Sept 26 and back to the US on Oct 2 - no security flash went off.  

If the security flash had not been turned off on Oct. 9 - Oswald would have been carefully watched on Nov. 22

Gheesling turned it off on October 9 - the day that the first memo about Oswald in Mexico City reached the FBI - and the day before the twin 10/10/63 memos that identified Lee Oswald by name - and with two different descriptions!

By turning it off, it protected Oswald from being placed on the Security Index - if LHO had been on the Security Index, security would have been all over him in Dallas on 11/22/63.

Thanks Bill, very helpful.

For the moment just a couple of quick thoughts.

Specifically on the Tilton anti-FPCC op, the key point is on the timings. The materials weren’t sourced until late October and he gave assurances they wouldn’t do anything without discussing it further. I just can’t see how that particular operation could possibly be anything to do with LHO in Mexico.

That doesn’t mean he wasn’t targeting the Cubans or FPCC, just not as part of that specific op...but that’s a much longer discussion!

I’ll come back on the other parts later...

thanks again

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Bill

Just to briefly add...

I think you may well be right that LHO’s activities in New Orleans highlighted an ‘administrative discrepancy’ leading the removal of his security flash. I’m inclined to think he may have been working with the FBI and others for a while before that, but the discrepancy could well have been noticed at that time in the manner you describe.

Unfortunate timing to say the least!

thanks again

Anthony

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Hi Anthony,

Can we go back to the 9/18/63 document and what it says...

"Pursuant to a discussion with the Liaison Agent, Tilton advised that his Agency will not initiate the production of any fabricated material concerning the Committee without first consulting with the Bureau, bearing in mind that we wish to make certain the CIA activity will not jeopardize any Bureau investigation."

That has nothing to do with the hypothesis I am offering.  My hypothesis is about the portion of the letter that states:

"CIA is also giving some thought to planting deceptive information which might embarrass the Committee in areas where it does have some support."

My hypothesis is that Tilton and company had the ability to subtly influence Oswald to go to the Cuban consulate in Mexico City and try to get to Cuba that way.

They knew it wouldn't work, because LHO needed a sponsor like someone from the CPUSA to back his play.  He also had no shot at getting there by the following Monday!

They may have also convinced him to believe that he could only stay 15 days after he got his visa in New Orleans (see LHO's Nov 9 letter) - that's why he left on Oct 2, 15 days after he got his visa in New Orleans on Sept. 17.

in fact, the 15 days didn't start to run until after he crossed the border on Sept 26.  He could have stayed until Oct 11!  So he was all fired up and in a big rush - for no good reason other than operating on bad information.

As I've said many times - until there is better evidence - I don't think LHO was a CIA agent - he was what the CIA refers to as an unwitting co-optee.  He was being manipulated.   

Why do people duck this conversation?  I chalk it up to wanting the romance of LHO as a CIA agent.  I think this is more practical - and, in a sense, even more romantic!

LHO had it in his head in mid-September that he wanted to go to Mexico City.  It wasn't Tilton's job to stop him - it was his job (or someone else's) to manipulate Oswald. 

 

 

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We know that the CIA - via DRE - had already started creating propaganda material centered on Oswald as a dangerous radical who should be investigated by Congress.  That was in play in late August/September.  Beyond that materials from his activity in New Orleans were being used in materials being prepared by INCA and would show up in other ultra right outlets.  

Accelerating that with material from Mexico City - showing Oswald apparently trying to contact and work with the Cubans (he could have been portrayed as having been briefed in Mexico City  and deployed back to the US as an Cuban agent) would have played very nicely into an ongoing "disruption" effort. 

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15 hours ago, Bill Simpich said:

Hi Anthony,

Can we go back to the 9/18/63 document and what it says...

"Pursuant to a discussion with the Liaison Agent, Tilton advised that his Agency will not initiate the production of any fabricated material concerning the Committee without first consulting with the Bureau, bearing in mind that we wish to make certain the CIA activity will not jeopardize any Bureau investigation."

That has nothing to do with the hypothesis I am offering.  My hypothesis is about the portion of the letter that states:

"CIA is also giving some thought to planting deceptive information which might embarrass the Committee in areas where it does have some support."

My hypothesis is that Tilton and company had the ability to subtly influence Oswald to go to the Cuban consulate in Mexico City and try to get to Cuba that way.

They knew it wouldn't work, because LHO needed a sponsor like someone from the CPUSA to back his play.  He also had no shot at getting there by the following Monday!

They may have also convinced him to believe that he could only stay 15 days after he got his visa in New Orleans (see LHO's Nov 9 letter) - that's why he left on Oct 2, 15 days after he got his visa in New Orleans on Sept. 17.

in fact, the 15 days didn't start to run until after he crossed the border on Sept 26.  He could have stayed until Oct 11!  So he was all fired up and in a big rush - for no good reason other than operating on bad information.

As I've said many times - until there is better evidence - I don't think LHO was a CIA agent - he was what the CIA refers to as an unwitting co-optee.  He was being manipulated.   

Why do people duck this conversation?  I chalk it up to wanting the romance of LHO as a CIA agent.  I think this is more practical - and, in a sense, even more romantic!

LHO had it in his head in mid-September that he wanted to go to Mexico City.  It wasn't Tilton's job to stop him - it was his job (or someone else's) to manipulate Oswald. 

 

 

Morning Bill

I suspect we’ll just have to cordially agree to disagree in our interpretations of this memo and the subsequent sequence of communications within the FBI.

I understand the significance of the word ‘also’ in there but I do read it as being very much about producing deceptive written materials to create dissension within the FPCC, in a similar manner as, if memory serves, was done a little earlier within the USA with provocative disinformation to create tension between different groups in the FPCC (think they were targeting SWP and CPUSA in that earlier FBI led op).

The timing doesn’t work either as Tilton gives assurances the won’t start anything without further discussion. Oswald had already got his visa by the time Papich wrote this and Mexico City was all over before the raw materials were obtained.

Come back to you separately in a bit about where I’m going with this...

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14 hours ago, Larry Hancock said:

We know that the CIA - via DRE - had already started creating propaganda material centered on Oswald as a dangerous radical who should be investigated by Congress.  That was in play in late August/September.  Beyond that materials from his activity in New Orleans were being used in materials being prepared by INCA and would show up in other ultra right outlets.  

Accelerating that with material from Mexico City - showing Oswald apparently trying to contact and work with the Cubans (he could have been portrayed as having been briefed in Mexico City  and deployed back to the US as an Cuban agent) would have played very nicely into an ongoing "disruption" effort. 

Hi Larry

Yes, I suspect, there may have been several strands of activity going on in parralel. As you know I think the main ‘official’ set of reactions after 1st October to the phone intercept have a strong CI focus, of which more later as it is taking me ages to put it together properly, in and amongst...

It is quite feasible that someone piggybacked into that operation a very effective piece of sheep dipping of Oswald in the manner you describe...possibly too effective for their purposes in the end, if this was the group from the anti-Castro Cubans or possibly very cleverly if a higher group were setting up a fail safe mechanism in the manner proposed by Newman. Agnostic on those at the moment

I’ll flesh out the detail of all this as soon as I can, but I don’t want to go into too much detail until it’s written up properly

 

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