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Oswald, Mexico, and Deep Politics: Revelations from CIA Records on the Assassination

Oswald, Mexico, and Deep Politics: Revelations from CIA Records on the Assassination

by Peter Dale Scott


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Peter Dale Scott has written extensively on the Kennedy assassination and other dark corners of the American political scene. His encyclopedic knowledge enables him to connect the dots among the players, the organizations, and the unacknowledged collusions—the deep politics— of our often troubled political system.

Deep Politics on Oswald, Mexico, and Cuba, originally published in 1995, narrows the focus of Scott’s earlier Deep Politics and the Death of JFK. Scott delivers the most detailed treatment yet of the mysterious sojourn of Lee Harvey Oswald (or someone using his name) to Mexico City in the fall of 1963. Was this trip a key aspect of the framing of Oswald, was it an approved intelligence operation, or was it perhaps both?

It is now known that allegations of Communist conspiracy in the wake of the JFK assassination, emanating mostly from Mexico City, caused Lyndon Johnson to put together a “blue ribbon commission” to investigate what happened in Dallas. Scott explains through meticulous research and analysis exactly why LBJ would want the Warren Commission to rush to a conclusion, and the far-reaching political ramifications of the commission’s public findings.

Scott’s analysis suggests the evidence from Mexico City was part of a frame-up, making Deep Politics on Oswald, Mexico, and Cuba an essential piece of research and analysis, shedding new light on the Communist conspiracy allegations behind the JFK assassination.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781626360099
Publisher: Skyhorse
Publication date: 09/03/2013
Pages: 176
Sales rank: 926,113
Product dimensions: 6.40(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Peter Dale Scott is a former Canadian diplomat and professor of English at the University of California, Berkeley. He is a poet and author who has published more than a dozen books and collections of poetry, many revolving around the self-coined concept of “deep politics.”

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August 1995

This is an unusual interim publication, responding to an unusual time in the protracted history of the John F. Kennedy assassination. Until October 1996 we have a window of opportunity to press for the release of withheld documents, by bringing them to the attention of the newly-created Assassination Records Review Board. All Americans have a great stake in the fruitfulness of the procedures established by the JFK Records Act, not just to learn more about the government's secretiveness with respect to this one assassination, but also to create a precedent for ending the rule of secrecy that has so vitiated democracy in this country since World War II.

In response to this opportunity, and in response also to the flood of new documents we have been given since 1993, I have been writing a series of essays on the general theme of Oswald, Mexico, and Cuba. Until now they have mostly circulated among a few other researchers and/or members of the Review Board staff. But cumulatively these essays make a case for the review and release of specific records still withheld; and so far many of these records have not yet been released.

I have therefore decided to arrange for limited publication of these essays, more or less as originally written, to a larger select audience. I am not altogether happy about this. The first essay, on the Lopez Report, needs revision in the light of of the flood of documents to which I gained access later. What needs to be changed are not the specific details, which have borne up well, but the whole perspective of the essay. I suspect that while new researchers may prefer to start at the beginning of the book, experts may prefer to begin with the latest essays.

When I began these researches, I like most people focused on events portrayed in government documents, trying to resolve such familiar questions as: who was the person who identified himself as Lee Oswald to someone in the Mexico City Soviet Embassy, and just when did he visit the Cuban and Soviet Consulates? By the end of these essays, the events on which I focus have become the documents themselves. More clearly than at the beginning, I postulate that the Oswald documents, far more than a person or persons calling themselves Lee Oswald, are the key to a sophisticated CIA operation: an operation which became entangled in, even if it did not directly engender, the Kennedy assassination.

More specifically, three different deceptive stratagems need to be distinguished: a sophisticated intelligence operation (or complex of operations), the conspiracy to kill the president, and the ensuing cover-up. All three are intertwined, and each can tell us something about the others. We should expect that government records will tell us more about the first and third than about the second, but I have been saying for thirty years that this oblique path to the truth about the murder is the best hope which the documents give us.

Even on the limited topic of Oswald, Mexico, and Cuba, there is far more to be written than I have been able to achieve in these limited essays. Two areas in particular are under-represented here: disagreements between Kennedy and the CIA over specific strategies and Cuban personnel to displace Fidel Castro, and Oswald's intriguing relations with the Cuban exile groups such as the DRE (discussed to some extent in my book Deep Politics and the Death of JFK). In both of these areas I am still awaiting publication of work by other researchers.

In any case, readers should not expect these essays to lead us to a full understanding of the Kennedy case. Rather they lead towards key anomalies of resistance, suppression, and above all falsification of major documents. Just as the mapping of geophysical anomalies can aid in the search for petroleum, so the mapping of these documentary anomalies can aid us, and hopefully the Review Board, in isolating the key factors which led to the governmental cover-up of America's most important political assassination in this century.

Only special readers will have the patience to pursue this difficult route. I invite them, which is to say you, to join in the task of facilitating the Review Board's work. There are two ways to do this. The first is to join in the search for further anomalies: there remain thousands of documents in the Archives which have not yet been seen by anyone outside government. And second, as this golden year of opportunity draws to a close, to join in the outcry for those key documents which have not yet been released.

We know already one area where the FBI has so far refused to comply with the Review Board's unanimous recommendations: this is with respect to FBI documents pertaining to their informants. Behind this robust resistance, one suspects, may be documents still surviving which would indicate the use of Oswald as an agent or informant. I myself have waited now for a year with respect to action on one possible relevant file, the FBI's Mexico City file 105-2137, with subject "Harvey Lee Oswald."

There is another key area where the Board has hitherto failed to show results. This is with respect to military intelligence, and in particular the Army Intelligence Agent, Edward Coyle, and the unidentified OSI agent, whose entanglement in the events of Dealey Plaza has not yet been satisfactorily explained (see Chapter VII).

In these provisional essays, I have by no means presented the full case for demanding the review of documents such as those on these military intelligence personnel (and others in military intelligence reserve). But time is running out, and it takes time to build momentum for the kind of informed citizen pressure that will encourage the release of the truth.

It is towards this end that I offer, to a special readership, these provisional essays on the theme of Oswald, Mexico, and Cuba.




January 1994

Much of the government's failure to investigate thoroughly and honestly the murder of President Kennedy can be traced, it appears, to highly embarrassing secrets buried in the CIA's files. Indeed a central part of the cover-up can be attributed to one such secret alone. This secret, found in pre-assassination CIA cables, is that Oswald had been falsely linked to a senior Soviet KGB agent in Mexico, Valeriy Kostikov, in such a way as to create a misleading impression of a sinister KGB assassination plot.

As we shall see, the evidence is far from clear that the CIA itself was responsible for this false incrimination of Oswald. On the contrary, it is at least possible that the false impression was planted on the CIA by someone else impersonating Oswald, whose allegiance and purposes remain unknown. Another possibility is that the deception was created and fostered for unrelated intelligence purposes; and that other conspirators, not necessarily inside the CIA, took advantage of this embarrassing secret to blackmail the government into covering up.

What is clear that the CIA records on Oswald, from when a file was opened on him in 1960, had been loaded with false information, even to such elementary matters as his name (misrecorded as "Lee Henry Oswald") and physical description (see Chapter III). CIA officers continued after the assassination to transmit false information to their superiors, and later to Congress, about the Oswald records and these officers' true relationship to them, especially to the Oswald-Kostikov story.

This fact, long known, is further confirmed by new evidence recently declassified by the CIA and released through the National Archives. Many of the new revelations come in the so-called "Lopez Report," an anonymous staff study (entitled "Lee Harvey Oswald, the CIA and Mexico City") prepared in 1978 for the House Select Committee on Assassinations by two junior members of the Committee's staff, Edwin Lopez and Dan Hardway. The declassification and release of this Report were not authorized by the CIA until August 1993. Even today, parts of the sections dealing with Oswald and Kostikov remain heavily censored, and one short key section is deleted entirely.

The new evidence does not clear up the mystery; indeed it deepens our sense of what we do not know. But we can see more clearly the areas in which the CIA has been covering up: alleged links (which were probably false) between Oswald, on the one hand, and Soviet and/or Cuban intelligence on the other. And we can trace how the disclosed secret, of the falsified Oswald-Kostikov link in CIA cables, leads back to larger secrets in CIA files which are still undisclosed, and still actively protected by the CIA.

In the recent 1993 CIA releases, which I have so far barely skimmed, it is clear from the large numbers of redactions and withheld documents that extensive secrets are still being hidden in CIA files. That the secrets are there, however, does not necessarily mean that they originated with the CIA. On the contrary, one is reinforced in the impression that the files of other government agencies are involved: of Army, Navy, and Marine Intelligence, and the FBI.

The Alleged Oswald-Kostikov Conversation

At the heart of this mystery was an alleged intercept by CIA electronic surveillance of a phone call on October 1, 1963, from someone who identified himself as "Lee Oswald." This was a local call to the Soviet Embassy in Mexico City, in which the alleged "Oswald" talked of his contact with a KGB Agent called Valeriy Kostikov. We shall see that there are reasons to suspect that the man who represented himself as Oswald in this call was in fact someone else impersonating him.

The truth about this phone call has remained obscure ever since its interception, partly because the ClA reaction to it has been so consistently mysterious, and misleading. On October 8, 1963, the CIA station in Mexico City, in their report on the phone call, supplied a physical description (and later six photographs) of someone who was in fact not Lee Harvey Oswald but someone else. This so-called "mystery man" (as he has been known since photographs of him reached the public) was described as "approximately 35 years old," with a receding hairline.

This confusion, or falsification, was compounded by CIA officials at Headquarters two days later. The responded with two messages, both misnaming Oswald as Lee Henry Oswald. One of these messages transmitted back to Mexico City the quite different description of the 24-year-old Lee Harvey Oswald in their files. The other forwarded to the FBI and other agencies the description, as if it was Oswald's, of the mystery man, "approximately 35 years old."

We now know that the same people drafted both messages at the same time, and that the first, drafted by at least three people, was signed off by a high-level officer, the Assistant Deputy Director for Plans. The misinformation in the cables is unlikely to have been accidental, from inattention, as CIA officers have since claimed. The Mexico City cable "caused a lot of excitement" at Headquarters, because it appeared that a former defector had made contact with a KGB agent.

We shall consider later the hypothesis that these three Oswald cables were deliberately falsified, as part of what the CIA itself calls a "deception program." What emerges immediately is that Oswald, supposedly an insignificant loner, had been the subject of high-level CIA cable traffic shortly before the assassination. It will not be easy to determine why in this traffic numerous key details about Oswald had been systematically falsified. (Even his name, as in earlier CIA documents going back to 1960, was misrendered as "Lee Henry Oswald.) What is clear is that this false information about Oswald came chiefly from one particularly secret section of the Agency, that concerned with Counterintelligence.

There is nothing in this new evidence, still partly censored, to implicate these CIA elements in the Kennedy assassination. What is indicated rather is some embarrassing secret or series of secrets about Oswald or his CIA file, which would appear to have originated some three years earlier in a possibly unrelated operation.

This secret evidence, which implicated Oswald falsely with an alleged KGB assassin, may however have been exploited by the Presidents' murderers: to ensure that the U.S. Government, to protect world peace and also its operations from disclosure, went along with the hypothesis that Lee Haney Oswald acted alone. The "lone assassin" hypothesis about Oswald, even if as implausible as the "KGB assassin" hypothesis, had the advantage of not threatening nuclear war.

One can speculate further that if the truth about the CIA's Oswald secret had been disclosed to a court of law, the FBI's legal case against Oswald as a deranged lone assassin might well have collapsed. In this case, the CIA, by suppressing and lying about its internal secrets about Oswald, would have allowed Oswald to be framed.

ClA Counterintelligence and the Oswald-Kostikov Story

Although this CIA secret remains hidden, recent declassifications make it clear who was lying about Oswald, and when. False information, often the daily business of CIA officers, appears to have been generated about Oswald from two sources. One was a very small but very powerful unit, the Cl/SIG (Counterintelligence Special Investigation Group), within the CIA's Counterintelligence (Cl) staff. The other source was a group of officers within the CIA's station in Mexico City, at least one of whom was allegedly a Counterintelligence officer.

From these two sources we can guess that the CIA Oswald secret had to do with a sensitive CIA counterintelligence operation. We know that CI/SIG's primary mission, since it had been set up by CI Chief James Angleton in 1954, was in effect to spy on the rest of the CIA. As Angleton himself told the House Select Committee on Assassinations in 1978, he set up the CI/SIG in 1954 to investigate the allegations (promoted at the time by FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover) that the CIA itself might have been penetrated by the KGB.

Partly to ensure that the CI/SIG would not be too sympathetic to the rest of the CIA, Angleton entrusted it to an ex-FBI agent. Birch D. O'Neal. O'Neal had been pan of a wartime FBI overseas operation (the SIS) that had been bitterly competitive with the CIA's predecessor agency, the OSS. It has been suggested that Hoover so mistrusted the CIA that he arranged for some of his FBI/SIS veterans to resign from the FBI and join the CIA as penetration agents. FBI veterans in the Agency (many of them close to Angleton) included O'Neal. William Harvey (Angleton's predecessor as Counterintelligence Chief), Mexico City Station Chief Win Scott, and at least one other relevant officer (George Munroe) of the Mexico City CIA station. According to Dick Russell, Munroe was "the CIA's leading surveillance man in Mexico City, responsible for the electronic bugging of the Soviet and Cuban embassies."

The falsified "Lee Henry Oswald" cables of October 1963, which became part of a CI/SIG file on "Lee Henry Oswald" going back to 1960, were supervised by officers of this small AngletonFBI veterans clique in Cl. One can imagine that this clique had used their falsified file on "Lee Henry Oswald' as pan of the CI/SIG's search for a KGB penetration agent, or "mole," within the CIA's ranks. This search became particularly active in 1963, the year of falsified cable traffic about Oswald.

It is certain however that the effect of the falsified Oswald documentation, consciously or accidentally, was to incriminate him falsely as an apparent KGB assassin. One day after the assassination, the CIA Counterintelligence staff speculated on the sinister implications of Oswald's alleged contact with Kostikov; and it continued to do so for years after. For Kostikov was not just a known KGB agent: he was suspected by Counterintelligence officials in the FBI and CIA of working for the KGB's Department Thirteen, which according to a contemporary CIA memo was "responsible for sabotage and assassination." This falsified picture of Oswald as a potential KGB assassin, though never used by the Warren Commission against him, almost certainly contributed to the Warren Commission's determination to close the case as the work of a lone assassin. The alleged Oswald Kostikov-Department Thirteen connection must have seemed particularly ominous after the Commission was informed by Richard Helms that

The Thirteenth Department headquarters, according to very reliable information, conducts interviews or, as appropriate, file reviews on every foreign military defector to the USSR to study and to determine the possibility of utilizing the defector in his country of origin.

CIA and FBI officials have since said that their respective agencies made mistakes in their handling of the Oswald case prior to Kennedy's murder. Yet the Counterintelligence staffs of CIA and FBI, who were responsible for the alleged mistakes, were also given the responsibility for investigating the Kennedy assassination afterwards. The CI/SIG in particular, which had misrepresented Oswald within the CIA, was given responsibility for liaison on the assassination with the CI staff in the FBI, who were given secret FBI reprimands for having failed to put Oswald on the FBI's Security Index.


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Table of Contents

I Introduction 1

II A Different Oswald in Mexico? (The Lopez Report and the CIA's Oswald Counterintelligence Secrets) 3

III CIA Files and the Pre-Assassination Framing of Lee Harvey Oswald 23

IV The Three Oswald Deceptions: Operation, Cover-Up, and Plot 33

V The Kennedy-CIA Divergence Over Cuba 44

VI Amlash, the I.G. Report, and Oswald (The Inspector General's Report: An Introduction) 58

VII Oswald, Lee Harvey Oswald, and Oswald's Communist Party Card 70

VIII "I'm Going to Kill Kennedy for This:" Did Oswald Say This in the Cuban Embassy? Or Was the Story Planted? 90

IX Oswald, Hosty and Masen: Was Oswald an FBI-Informant? 110

X The DFS, Silvia Duran, and the CIA-Mafia Connection: Did Staff D Feed the Oswald-Kostikov Lie to the CIA? 117

Appendix I Revising the Oswald Legend: A "Marxist," Not a Communist 138

Appendix II The Documentary Life of Lee Harvey Oswalds 142

Appendix III "Harvey" and "Harvey Alik Oswald" in the Soviet Union 147

Appendix IV Case Closed? or Oswald Framed? 150

(A Review of Gerald Posner, Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination Of JFK (New York: Random House, 1993).

Index 159

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