Monday, April 21, 2008

MORE CORNERS OF THE JFK ASSASSINATION

JEFFERSON MORLEY, HISTORY NEWS NETWORK - A small group of senior CIA officers may have been running an authorized counterintelligence operation involving Lee Harvey Oswald six weeks before the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963.

That's the controversial but conditional conclusion I reached while writing the biography of CIA spymaster Winston Scott, the agency's top man in Mexico for more than a decade. Our Man in Mexico, argues that if there was an Oswald operation, Scott, a brash and brilliant spy, was not a participant. The CIA has never acknowledged the existence of such an operation, if there was one. . . The new JFK paper trail is clear: some of Scott's CIA associates knew much more than they ever disclosed about the man who apparently went on to kill President Kennedy in Dallas.

Newly declassified records and interviews with retired CIA officials illuminate the JFK story as it has never been seen before: through the eyes of Win Scott, long a shadowy figure in the history of the agency who was renowned for the brilliance and diligence of his espionage. In 1963, Scott was serving as the chief of the CIA's station in Mexico City. It was here his path intersected with Oswald's.

In the summer of 1963, Oswald, a 23-year old ex-Marine with a Russian wife, leftist political views and a penchant for scheming, was living in New Orleans. In the course of the next 100 days of his life, he would come in contact with four CIA intelligence gathering programs. Two of the programs that Oswald encountered were run by Scott, who operated out of an office on the top floor of the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City. The other two were run by his colleague David Atlee Phillips, a highly regarded counterintelligence officer also stationed in Mexico City. Scott had a front row seat on the events that would culminate in the Dallas tragedy.

Such high-level CIA interest in Oswald does not necessarily mean that there was an operation involving Oswald, much less a CIA conspiracy. The evidence allows different readings. Win Scott himself did his own private investigation of Oswald a few years later and concluded the Soviets were likely behind the gunfire that killed Kennedy. David Phillips, who would go on to found the Association of Foreign Intelligence officers, a pro-CIA lobbying group, said late in life that he believed that JFK was killed by rogue U.S. intelligence officers. Win Scott's son, Michael who spent more than 20 years sifting his father's life story, thought Phillips was more likely right. . .

When Oswald visited the Cuban and Soviet diplomatic offices In Mexico City between September 27 and October 1, 1963, Scott's vast and efficient surveillance networks picked up on his presence almost immediately. Within a few days, the station had learned his name and Scott queried Washington asking for more information. The result was perhaps the single most important JFK assassination document to emerge in recent years. It is the fully declassified version of headquarter's response to Scott's inquiry. The cable, dated October 10, 1963--six weeks before Kennedy was killed--is not any sort of "smoking gun" proof of conspiracy so often sought by cable news producers and publishing houses.

But it does reveal some troubling facts:

- A group of senior CIA officers were not only monitoring Lee Harvey Oswald's political activities while President Kennedy was still alive. They were manipulating information about him. . .

- In October 1963, senior officials at CIA headquarters deliberately cut Scott, the CIA's top man in Mexico, "out of the loop" of the latest FBI reports on Oswald.

- Scott rejected a key finding of the Warren Commission report on JFK's murder. The Agency told the Commission that its personnel did not learn of Oswald's contacts with Cuban embassy officials on September 27 1963 until after Kennedy was killed. Win Scott said that was not true--and the CIA's own records confirm his point. In fact, Win Scott and David Phillips knew about Oswald's contacts with Cuban consular officials within a few days of when the occurred and well before Kennedy was killed. . .

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