Monday, February 3, 2020

Newman's "New Paradigm"

JFK conspiracy theorist and author John Newman has done a good job of convincing both conspiracy skeptics and some members of the JFK conspiracy community that former anti-Castro activist Antonio Veciana lied about how and when he met David Phillips in Cuba, thereby casting doubt on Veciana’s whole sorry tale. Unfortunately, instead of issuing a clarion call to his devotees that further research regarding the duplicitous Veciana is a waste of time, Newman is using his success as a launching pad for an entirely new conspiracy theory. And it is likely not a coincidence that this thesis supports the preferred villains in Newman’s hypothetical JFK assassination scenario. These alleged conspirators include Generals Edward Lansdale, Curtis Lemay and Lyman Lemnitzer as well as the “enigmatic Texan Howard Burris” and perhaps others.

Newman's presentation at the 2019 Citizens Against Political Assassinations Conference titled, "Turning Antonio Veciana's Misdirection into a Roadmap," was his first opportunity to reveal this hypothesis, which has been called a “new paradigm,” to the conspiracy community. However, over two months after the presentation, the reception is decidedly mixed. Newman has received rave reviews from his loyal fanbase that consists of devotees who are willing to pay $32 for his latest tome. But another faction, representing the CIA-did-it wing of the community, is more skeptical. This group is led by Lisa Pease, whose mentor Jim DiEugenio is the dean of the Langley-did-it school of thought. Pease has already expressed skepticism of Newman’s work and had some uncomfortable Facebook exchanges with him.

Newman associate Alan Dale attributes the criticism of Newman to the fact that those who believe Veciana’s claims regarding the alleged meeting between Phillips and Oswald do so because that allegation “is regarded by many as too sacred to dispute.” Just exactly what does Newman’s theory, which has been called “a work in progress,” postulate? At first glance, that seems to be a difficult question to answer since a video of the presentation has yet to materialize. Also missing is a promised report by CAPA’s Bill Kelly who took “ten pages of notes” at the conference.

Finally, not one meaningful review of the presentation has surfaced from any of the conference attendees. Either these individuals were not impressed sufficiently by what they heard to comment or were suddenly afflicted with mass amnesia. My guess is the former. Fortunately for skeptics, in the wake of criticism of the presentation, Newman and Dale were forced to go on Facebook to defend it. Their comments provide enough information to make a significant analysis possible, although some speculation is still necessary. All information used in writing this critique was taken from a Facebook summary of Newman’s work by Dale and comments by Newman on Facebook and elsewhere on the Internet.

Newman’s most startling claim is that, “a campaign of misdirection [was] launched by Antonio Veciana the day he walked out of the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary in February 1976.” The purpose of this misdirection campaign, achieved through the “sudden early release of Veciana,” was to “control the narrative of the unfolding congressional investigations” and to "place blame on the CIA and direct attention away from the Pentagon.” This alleged state of affairs began during the tenure of the Church Committee which predated the HSCA and involved not only Veciana but other “former assets of U.S. military intelligence [who] were weaponized and used as messengers.”

Therefore, according to Newman, an unseen power, presumably a federal judge or the Church Committee itself or both, pulled some strings at the behest of the assassination planners to release Veciana. Carl Sagan wisely said that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” But what proof exists for Newman’s audacious statements?

Newman could not be in possession of court documents that show such a release of Veciana. A Google search shows that FOIA requests for such records would be denied while the individual is alive unless they sign a waiver. And presumably Veciana has been made aware of Newman’s recent desire to paint him as a co-conspirator and would neither grant Newman such a request nor give him access to papers already in his possession. In any case, such records would not necessarily reveal that Veciana was being released explicitly for the purpose of speaking to the Church Committee. Therefore, any documentary proof of the early release of Veciana for the specific purpose of speaking with Senate investigators would have to come from the JFK records or a formerly silent “witness” of potentially dubious credibility.

Conceivably, Newman believes that the plotters went to the Church Committee and persuaded them to facilitate Veciana’s release. Under such a scenario, the committee members were convinced that Veciana had to be released “in the interest of national security” or for some similar reason. Later, they figured out that they had been duped by the plotters but by then were too embarrassed to admit that they had participated in such an ill-advised plan. But it defies belief that the entire committee would not have known about the release. In that case, active committee member Richard Schweiker, who came up with the idea that the Bishop sketch looked like Phillips, was in on the plot yet delivered an academy award-level acting job for the benefit of Gaeton Fonzi and other conspiracy-oriented investigators.

On the other hand, it is at least conceivable that Malcolm Blunt or some other astute researcher could have very recently managed to unearth a document from the National Archives that alludes to an arranged parole of Veciana. And it is plausible that the wily Veciana could have contacted committee representatives through an intermediary and offered his services and certainly had the motivation to do so. But if it indeed exists, such documentation of an early release proves nothing unless you are willing and eager to attach the most sinister connotations to it. After all, there is no doubt that the committee would want to speak to someone like Veciana who claimed to have relevant information. But perhaps the committee was concerned that the release of Veciana would result in less than favorable publicity because of his drug conviction and kept it quiet for solely that reason. In this case, in an uncommon but not inconceivable circumstance, the staffers were kept unaware.

But such a release at the behest of the Senate committee would undoubtedly have been contingent on Veciana producing relevant and verifiable information. And he would have undoubtedly been warned that his parole would be immediately reversed if he were found to be less than candid. In Fonzi’s book, he wrote glowingly of a number of things that could be verified regarding Veciana’s story. But in the HSCA report, where Fonzi had to answer to others, he admitted that “no definitive conclusion could be reached about the credibility of Antonio Veciana's allegations regarding his relationship with a Maurice Bishop.” I think the congressional investigators would have expected a better performance out of Veciana for their trouble.

In the end, it is doubtful that any document proving Veciana’s early release exists or that Newman’s theory depends on one. I say that because, if it had been shown at the presentation, it would have been trumpeted as a major revelation and the reaction of the attendees does not support that. What is likely is that Newman will follow the path of least resistance and say that one of the conspirators (or an acolyte) whispered in the ear of a federal judge and persuaded him to facilitate the release. Maybe the conspirators “had something” on the judge that enabled them to demand this unusual request. Or perhaps the judge was part of the same secret right-wing cabal that Newman believes was behind the assassination and did the deed willingly. In such a case, as mentioned, the paperwork would just be of the generic variety and say that Veciana was released for “good behavior” or a similar reason.

Having established how Newman could credibly postulate the manner of Veciana’s release by the conspirators, we need to assess the role of the two key players in this scenario, Veciana and Fonzi, as Newman sees it. Bill Kelly says that Veciana “used journalist and Congressional investigator Gaeton Fonzi to get out of federal prison.” But this statement can be easily discounted since I see no way that Fonzi, who was merely an investigator, could achieve such a feat. For further clues regarding the role of Fonzi, we can turn to a Dale’s Facebook summary of Newman’s work.

After informing skeptics of the new theory of the benefits of “staying current” by consuming four previous volumes of Newman’s work, Dale quotes Newman’s declaration that Fonzi’s “sixth sense” led him to suspect that he was being used by Veciana. However, Newman admits that, “Fonzi did not develop these impressions into a possible alternative paradigm for consideration.” Newman’s statement that Fonzi was “being used” indicates that he was unaware of the plot to implicate the CIA using Veciana-at least at first. This at least makes sense as Fonzi would have had to falsify much of his book if he were in on the plot. But if Fonzi ever had suspicions as Newman believes, he chose not to act on them and did nothing to interfere with Veciana’s activities.

In an obvious attempt to pacify the CIA-did-it people who might be offended by an overly negative portrayal of Fonzi, Newman reminds them that he admires Fonzi and considers him a friend. Newman also says that Fonzi, “stayed in my home to look over my collection of records about CIA Staff Officer David Morales.” Newman then says, “I am confident that had Gaeton lived to see the 2017-2018 documents’ release, he would have revised The Last Investigation accordingly.”

But just how could Fonzi “revise” his book to achieve such an end when the implicit thesis of that volume was that the CIA (in the form of David Phillips) was somehow involved in the JFK killing and his proof of that was the now largely debunked Veciana yarn? Does Newman believe that Fonzi could insert a disclaimer at the end of his book to inform readers that much of what Veciana said was sheer nonsense and hope they didn’t see it?

Let there be no mistake. What Newman’s theory implies is that Fonzi, rather than being a courageous investigator who fought the system to uncover CIA complicity in the assassination, was actually a clueless dupe who did precisely what the real killers of JFK wanted by drawing attention away from them. And even though he eventually realized through his keen “sixth sense” that he had been had, he sold out anyway and published a book full of falsehoods-presumably because there was a market for it. This implied characterization of Fonzi will probably not win Newman the everlasting devotion of either Marie Fonzi or Lisa Pease.

What about Veciana’s role? Newman says Veciana may not have “fully appreciated the true purpose behind his new calling.” Despite this mysterious lack of understanding on Veciana’s part, he evidently acted as the conspirators wanted anyway. Veciana’s calling, according to Newman, was to “sow confusion and use it to manipulate the unfolding narrative of congressional investigation” at the behest of his Pentagon masters. So, color Veciana a full-fledged co-conspirator. And although he was unaware of the plot, Fonzi served as an effective accomplice of the conspiratorial cabal by virtue of his sheer incompetence.

Having established a set of reasonable assumptions to work with, we can begin an examination of the plausibility of the theory. Unfortunately for Newman and his followers, problems with the concept are immediately apparent. Presumably, Newman thinks that, once the CIA-did-it oriented Fonzi called Veciana’s family and expressed an interest in him, the plotters arranged for Veciana’s release. If Fonzi or another government man had been in the pocket of the conspirators, they could have released Veciana at their leisure, but Newman is not saying that. Evidently, Veciana’s family must have also been under the control of the plotters and kept them updated on interesting developments such as government investigators phoning for an interview. But Fonzi only became interested in Veciana after reading an article by Paul Hoch, so it appears that the plotters had luck on their side. What contingency plan the plotters employed in the event they couldn’t locate a willing target such as Fonzi is not explained.

In any case, on March 2, 1976, the stage was neatly set for the plotters. They had a clueless CIA-did-it believer in the form of Fonzi ready to interview their man Veciana. And all went according to their script, at least at first. Veciana told Fonzi about a powerful American mentor (Bishop) who had planned and directed his actions as head of Alpha 66. Bishop, as Veciana’s all-powerful mentor, was obviously the perfect individual to link to the CIA in order to draw attention away from the Pentagon. Fonzi listened carefully to Veciana’s description of Bishop. Finally, he breathlessly asked Veciana if Bishop was “officially with the government.” Then, Veciana blew it.

With this golden opportunity before him, Veciana inexplicably uttered, “a few times [I] asked [Bishop] if he worked for the CIA. And the answer he would give … was that there isn’t only one agency, the CIA, there are a lot of agencies working for this” [the anti-Castro cause]. Veciana went on to say that he believed Bishop was “working for a private organization, not the government.” As the saying goes, you only get one chance to make a first impression. Despite the perfect opportunity to tie his mysterious mentor to the CIA, Veciana somehow completely forgot about the mission his Pentagon masters had ordered him to undertake. In fact, he seemed to be going out of his way to not implicate the agency. Worse, his reference to other “agencies” had opened the door to the possibility that Fonzi, or another investigator reviewing his notes, would consider Army Intelligence as a source of Bishop’s authority. And given Veciana’s provable ties to that group, that was a distinct possibility.

And it wasn’t a case of Veciana initially “freezing” in the spotlight and then redeeming himself later in the interview. Veciana mentioned Cellula Fantasma, the leafletting operation over Cuba that he claimed Bishop ordered him to infiltrate. But Veciana was quick to caution Fonzi that the operation was not run by the CIA (which proves Veciana knew nothing about it since it actually was). Of course, Veciana related the now familiar story of seeing Oswald and Bishop together. While this got Fonzi’s attention, it didn’t help the plotters since Veciana was not claiming that Bishop was CIA. The rest of the first interview covered Veciana’s own conspiracy babblings regarding Howard Hughes, Jack Ruby, HL Hunt and Gerry Hemming but little else.

Another subject that Veciana covered extensively in that first interview was his drug arrest and it is apparent that this was one of his true motives in speaking to Fonzi. Veciana went on ad nauseum about his innocence and assured Fonzi that he could prove he was “setup.” All he needed was “eight or nine months” to work on his personal innocence project. Veciana gave Fonzi the false information that there was only one witness against him but there were four witnesses besides Veciana’s two co-conspirators who indicated his guilt. The point is, Veciana spent a great deal of time in this first session talking about everything under the sun. But he spent almost no time telling Fonzi anything that could implicate the CIA in the JFK assassination and take attention away from the Pentagon plotters, particularly regarding Bishop.

A chance for Veciana to redeem himself took place in June of 1976 when he spoke to journalist Dick Russell. But Veciana again ignored the plotters’ instructions and told Russell that Bishop was, “part of an American intelligence service, but instructed him not to ask which one.” Once again, Veciana had not only refused to implicate the CIA through Bishop, but also opened the door to the possibility that he was working with another intelligence service such as the Army’s.

In August of 1977, well over a year after those first interviews with Fonzi, Veciana had yet another chance to identify Bishop as CIA. Once again, he failed miserably to do the plotters’ bidding and actually made a point of forcefully denying that Bishop was with the agency. Veciana told Fonzi’s assistant Al Gonzales that he “never said that Bishop was CIA” but believed that he was with “some sort of intelligence agency or with a powerful interest group.” And Veciana’s reference of another intelligence agency again opened the door to potential scrutiny of the very agency he was supposed to protect-the Army. Predictably, such scrutiny did occur. We now know that the CIA’s Scott Breckinridge was referring to the Army when he told Robert Blakey, “you know Veciana was an asset of another US government agency and not of CIA.” Due to Fonzi’s bias, he never seriously followed-up on the Army intelligence angle but that was in spite of Veciana rather than because of him.

Veciana’s final opportunity to implicate the CIA under Fonzi’s tenure came during his 1978 HSCA testimony. Inevitably, Veciana once again stated, "I always had the opinion that Maurice Bishop was working for a private firm and not the government." Notably at this hearing, Veciana was given the chance to once and for all identify David Phillips as Bishop but refused to do so. Similarly, when Veciana had come face to face with Phillips two years before at the ARIO meeting in Reston, Virginia, Veciana said the CIA’s Phillips was not the ethereal Bishop. Despite having the ear of one of the keenest devotees of the CIA-did-it hypothesis, Veciana’s “misdirection” of the investigation from the Army to the CIA didn’t happen under Fonzi’s watch. When the HSCA report was published in 1979, Fonzi’s conclusion contained the following quote that summarizes the failure of Veciana’s “mission”:

… whether Veciana's contact was really named Maurice Bishop, or if he was, whether he did all of the things Veciana claims, and if so, with which U.S. intelligence agency he was associated, could not be determined. No corroboration was found for Veciana's alleged meeting with Lee Harvey Oswald.

As a postscript to my analysis of Newman’s theory, I add the following quote from a draft of his presentation:

I have also labored to show you how—for Veciana’s post-prison story to hold up all of these years—he had to superimpose that same false paradigm on one of the most unbelievable dramas of human history—the Cold War confrontation of 1962. Veciana’s role in that crisis is the biggest secret of his life.

Unbelievably, Newman thinks that Veciana was a key player in the Cuban Missile Crisis. To my knowledge, he is the only “historian” in possession of this belief. But that is a subject for another article.

In conclusion, John Newman believes that Veciana was ordered to run a “misdirection campaign” to both control the congressional investigations and take heat off the Pentagon-based murderers of JFK and place it on Langley. The most logical way for Veciana to accomplish this feat was to gain the ear of the credulous Gaeton Fonzi, who was very amenable to the idea of CIA complicity in the death of JFK. But while Veciana indeed told Fonzi about his mysterious mentor “Maurice Bishop,” he inexplicably refused to characterize Bishop as CIA in every relevant discussion of him between 1976 to 1979 when the “misdirection campaign” was supposedly at its peak. It wasn’t until years later that Veciana began to hint at CIA involvement and finally took that to the next stage in 2013 with his “identification” of Phillips.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

The Bishop Sketch-Who Did it Look Like?

The infamous sketch of Maurice Bishop is one of the things most often mentioned as “proof” that David Phillips was Bishop since theorists believe it looks like Phillips. The sketch was prepared with the help of a professional artist and represented a “pretty good” idea of what Veciana thought Bishop looked like. Of course, a sketch is just an artist’s representation and the interpretation of it is subjective. Show it to a hundred people and you’ll get a hundred different answers as to who it looks like. Fonzi and his staff showed the sketch to a number of relevant people and this was the result

Fonzi himself originally thought it looked like Paul Bethel, former head of the US Information Agency in Cuba. Sam Kail was an Army attaché who worked at the US embassy in Cuba and who Veciana said Bishop directed him to for help. Kail, who denied knowing Veciana, also thought the sketch looked like Bethel, a fact that Fonzi left out of his HSCA report. Barney Hidalgo, A CIA employee who was interviewed by the HSCA regarding his claim that a “Bishop” worked at the CIA, thought it looked “a bit” like CIA employee Willard Galbraith. This contradicts what Fonzi wrote in the HSCA report when he said, “B. H. [Hidalgo] could not identify [the sketch] as anyone he recognized.”

Bradley Ayers was a US Army Captain on special assignment with the CIA based out of JM/WAVE near Miami. Ayers thought the sketch looked to be “a very accurate drawing” of Gordon Campbell, another CIA employee. Ayers thought that Bishop was Campbell and not Phillips, but this is unlikely since Campbell died in 1962. Ultimately, I compiled a list of 14 relevant individuals who saw the sketch and only three thought it looked like Phillips. Five people did not recognize the sketch as anyone they knew and the remaining six each identified six different persons. Ironically, one of the people who thought it looked like Phillips was Phillips himself. The others were Senator Richard Schweiker whose identification of Phillips was the beginning of Fonzi’s quest to link Phillips to Bishop and CIA agent Joseph Burkholder Smith.

Please contact me at wtparnell@hotmail.com if you know of any other people that saw the sketch who are not on this list. Note that I am looking for documented interviews with individuals who were shown the sketch and asked who it looked like. I am not interested in anecdotal cases such as David Phillips' brother and his employees who allegedly thought the sketch looked like David after being told that it did.

NAME

WHO SKETCH LOOKED LIKE

SOURCE

Colonel Samuel Kail

Paul Bethel

180-10072-10179

Gaeton Fonzi

Paul Bethel

TLI

Bradley Ayers

Gordon Campbell

Sworn Statement 8-6-2007

Captain Milford Hubbard (Patrick Harris)

Owen Darnell

157-10014-10084, p. 16

James Cogswell

Former President of Freeport Sulphur

Davy, Let Justice Be Done, 87

Barney Hidalgo

William Galbraith

104-10146-10142

Max Lesnik

Did Not Recognize

180-10065-10373

William Kent (Doug Gupton)

Did Not Recognize

HSCA X Paragraph 179

Guy Vitale

Did Not Recognize

180-10083-10181

John Roselli

Did Not Recognize

157-10014-10000, p. 40

Manolo Ray Rivero

Did Not Recognize/Unknown Government Official

180-10093-10063, p. 5

Joseph Burkholder Smith

David Phillips

180-10070-10404

Richard Schweiker

David Phillips

HSCA X Paragraph 171

David Phillips

Himself or his brother

180-10131-10327, p. 93

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Marie Fonzi and Veciana's "Revelation"

When is a “revelation” not really a revelation? One answer is when it is “solicited.”

Antonio Veciana made news in the JFK conspiracy community when he came forward in 2013 to say that his mysterious CIA mentor, Maurice Bishop, was really David Atlee Phillips despite previously denying that “fact” since 1976. Veciana’s “revelation” was much ballyhooed by the conspiracy community as “proof” of what Gaeton Fonzi (and they) had long suspected. The CIA, in the form of Phillips, had participated in dirty dealings involving that unsuspecting patsy Lee Harvey Oswald and the killing of JFK. Precisely what those dirty dealings were depended on who was telling the story, but, in general, it wasn’t a good thing.

However, I have suspected for a while now that Veciana’s “revelation” was less than such, mostly due to an article by Bill Kelly. In that piece, Kelly states:

… decades later, after Phillips and Fonzi had died, Fonzi’s widow Maria [sic] persuaded Veciana to come clean and issue a public statement that David Atlee Phillips was indeed “Maurice Bishop” – the mysterious spymaster who directed Lee Harvey Oswald, the accused assassin of the president, and he agreed. “Gate didn’t push too far,” Marie said, “I’m a bit more pushier than Gaeton.”

Then today, I came across a video of a presentation Mrs. Fonzi gave at the 2014 AARC conference. To my astonishment, Mrs. Fonzi admitted that she had “solicited” Veciana to release the statement implicating Phillips as Bishop. Beginning at the 31:30 mark of the video, Mrs. Fonzi unashamedly describes how she accomplished this with the help of a mutual friend, Juaquin Godoy, who was a member of the anti-Castro group MRP and an FBI informant in the sixties.

“We were reissuing The Last Investigation in 2013,” Mrs. Fonzi explained, “and I wanted to put Antonio Veciana’s letter [in the book] saying that he respected Gaeton’s search for the truth.” Mrs. Fonzi wrote Veciana asking for his permission to do this and a mail correspondence between the pair resulted. During this exchange, Mrs. Fonzi, who has served as an adjunct professor at two universities, got on Veciana’s good side by saying that she always shared the newspaper articles of Veciana’s daughter Ana (who has written for the Miami Herald) with her students as “examples of fine writing.” “So, I thought let me get Ana with me too” Mrs. Fonzi told the audience with a chuckle.

“… I always reminded him of the friendship [between himself and Fonzi],” Mrs. Fonzi continued, “and then I would say, but you know that Gaet really needs to be vindicated because people who criticize his book say, ... he really shouldn’t have said that Bishop was Phillips because Veciana never did admit that.” Mrs. Fonzi goes on to explain that their mutual friend Godoy interceded with Veciana on her behalf. “Every time I wrote a letter to Veciana, I would call Juaquin,” Mrs. Fonzi remembered, “… and then he would call [Veciana] and speak Spanish to him and repeat my message and my solicitation.”

Mrs. Fonzi’s gambit went on for “about a year” before yielding results. Godoy called Mrs. Fonzi with the news that “Antonio has written [a letter about] what you want.” However, Mrs. Fonzi was still not satisfied with Veciana’s letter and told Gadoy that “[Veciana] never said who Maurice Bishop was.” Finally, after the persistent Godoy again interceded on Mrs. Fonzi’s behalf, the coveted letter stating that Bishop was Phillips arrived in her mailbox.

Despite the admission that she had worked behind the scenes to manufacture Veciana’s statement, not one conference attendee thought to ask Mrs. Fonzi if a “revelation” obtained in such a manner is really a revelation at all.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Wynne Johnson-More Questions

Wynne Johnson has replied to my original questions regarding his claim that he witnessed the meeting of Bishop (who he and other theorists now say is David Atlee Phillips), Oswald and Veciana. While I appreciate Johnson taking the time to do this, With one exception, I found that he either avoided the questions I asked or gave an argument that I found unconvincing, but I’ll let readers be the judge. The one exception was a question in which I stated that he was “afraid” to come forward with his story. Johnson replied that it was not he who was afraid but rather Vicki’s family and I accept his reasonable explanation in this instance.

After further study of his videos and his reply to me, I have some more queries for Johnson:

In your first video, you describe several facts that led you to determine the date of the alleged Oswald/Veciana/Phillips meeting. One of these facts is that it had to be a weekend because you and Vicki would only be able to travel to Southland then because school was in. Additionally, “the busses were running on Saturday.” This implies that you had to take the bus to get to Southland. But in later videos, you state that you met Vicki at the library and walked to Southland. Later, you describe walking back to the library and getting into your car. You then drove Vicki to a department store and then home. Why the apparent discrepancy and did you even have a license at age 15?

Do you believe that Vicki is being prevented from possibly confirming your story by her husband?

In your opinion, why would the “man in the library” advise Vicki to keep silent?

You have said that “it is clear” that Vicki “knew something” before the September 7, 1963 incident. Could you elaborate on what it is she knew and how she could have acquired this information?

Do you think that Vicki asked you to bring the camera because of her “foreknowledge” of the meeting?

According to your videos, Vicki told you that the men in the lobby “wanted to kill Castro and Kennedy.” Which of the three men was Vicki referring to and how would she know this?

Do you believe that members of Vicki’s family also had “foreknowledge” of certain events?

If I have it right, the sighting of the man at a party whom you believe was David Phillips occurred in 1965. At the time, Phillips was a highly placed CIA officer stationed in either Mexico or the Dominican Republic (depending on the exact date in 1965 which you do not provide). Why would Phillips be concerned with the recruitment of high school/college students for the agency as you allege in the videos?

If I understand correctly, you state in your videos that the plotters wanted “friendly witnesses” (in the form of yourself and Vicki) in place at Southland who could be identified and found later. Why were you and Vicki chosen and why did the plotters never seek to use you in this capacity?

Just out of curiosity, who was the “researcher and author” who questioned you by phone. You may contact me at wtparnell@hotmail.com if you do not want to give the name publicly.

According to your videos, an incident involving Marie Fonzi occurred in which you apparently related some dialog that you had not previously reported. Commendably, you endeavored to correct this in a subsequent video. Could you elaborate on how this came about, how the discrepancy was detected and what Mrs. Fonzi’s reaction was?

In a similar vein, you describe a situation where Phillips asked Veciana in Spanish, “Is it him?” (referring to yourself). Veciana replied “yes younger.” You now say this is a dream, but did Marie Fonzi ever think that you were saying this really happened?

You speak of a “dark rumor” that kept you from talking about the JFK assassination until 2014. What is this “dark rumor” and if it is just a rumor, how or why could that make you stay silent?

At how many JFK conferences have you appeared to date?

Has your story been discussed on any other Internet forums?

Do you see the recent wave of skeptics of the Veciana story as detrimental to the prospects of your own story being accepted?

Thursday, October 10, 2019

LHO Far East Chronology

One ambiguous part of the life of Lee Harvey Oswald is his time in the far east. Both the Warren Commission and the HSCA were unable to fully resolve conflicts in the record. This ambiguity has paved the way for theories such as John Armstrong's "Harvey and Lee" which postulates 2 Oswalds in different places during that time. Using a variety of sources, including original research by Greg Parker, I have developed a chronology which makes LHO's whereabouts during that period of his life less mysterious. Sources are listed in parenthesis.

Sunday, September 14, 1958: LHO sails with his unit from Yokosuka for the South China Sea aboard the USS Skagit (CE 1961, 23 H 797). It is possible that the Skagit’s departure was delayed until the 16th (RIF 180-10142-10413, 91).

Tuesday, September 16, 1958: LHO reports to sick bay where he starts treatment for gonorrhea (Donabedian Exhibit No. 1, 19 H 601).

Friday, September 19, 1958: The Skagit arrives in Kaohsiung, Taiwan where LHO and his shipmates spend two days unloading supplies (Parker, vol. 2, Part 2-Freedomland 1949-59).

Wednesday, September 24, 1958: The Skagit arrives in Hong Kong (Parker, vol. 2, Part 2-Freedomland 1949-59).

Tuesday, September 30, 1958: LHO and his unit are at Pingtung, Taiwan (CE 1961, 23 H 797). Sometime during their stay there, LHO is found “shaking and crying” while serving on guard duty by Lieutenant Charles R. Rhodes, who responds after hearing gunfire. LHO tells Rhodes that he had seen “men in the woods and that he challenged them and then started shooting.” Rhodes suspects LHO staged the incident with the hope of being sent back to Japan (Epstein, 81).

Sunday, October 5, 1958: LHO returns to Atsugi (CE 1961, 23 H 797).

Monday, October 6, 1958: LHO is transferred to general duty in anticipation of his return to the states (Folsom Exhibit No. 1, 19 H 658).

Tuesday, October 7, 1958: LHO reports to the Naval Hospital at Atsugi (CE 1961, 23 H 797) for treatment of his gonorrhea which has resisted antibiotics (Donabedian Exhibit No. 1, 19 H 602–604).

Monday, October 13, 1958: LHO is released from the Hospital (CE 1961, 23 H 797).

Sunday, November 2, 1958: LHO departs from Yokosuka aboard the USS Barrett bound for San Francisco (CE 1961, 23 H 797).

Saturday, November 15, 1958: LHO arrives in San Francisco (CE 1961, 23 H 797).

Sunday, November 16, 1958: LHO is at Treasure Island Naval Station while awaiting leave (CE 1961, 23 H 797).

Wednesday, November 19, 1958: LHO goes on leave (Folsom Exhibit No. 1, 19 H 686) staying with Marguerite in Fort Worth and visiting Robert and his wife Vada (Oswald with Land and Land, 89).


As I mentioned, the H&L people have used this time period to push theories that there were 2 Oswalds in the far east. Here are some threads from the Education Forum and Greg Parker's Forum discussing the issue:

The Skagit

More on the Skagit

The Skagit-Greg Parker

LHO Training & Assignments-Greg Parker

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

New Veciana/Bishop/Phillips Resource

I am announcing a new resource today for those interested in Antonio Veciana and his allegations regarding Maurice Bishop and David Phillips. It is a directory of web links organized by category. I will be adding links from time to time as my research progresses, so check back. The directory also includes links to information on the Cuban exile groups which are a part of the Veciana story. The link, which is also available at the top of any page here under "Resources," is:

New Veciana-Bishop Links Directory

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Veciana's Game

During preparation of Part Three of my review of John Newman’s book Into the Storm, I spent a great deal of time thinking about Antonio Veciana’s motive for creating the Maurice Bishop story. Then, I had an epiphany. This article discusses that revelation and acts as a summary of all I have learned about the subject in the last two years. My thesis is that two factors came together to create the Bishop story. The first factor, which Newman references, is Veciana’s incarceration for cocaine smuggling and the effect it had on him. [1] After studying Veciana’s history, I realized that a second factor was his character. A charitable way to describe Veciana is to say that he was a man of action and not content to sit on his hands when a problem existed. To put it another way, he was something of a plotter who sought to manipulate others in furtherance of his own ends. I submit that Veciana’s incarceration was a watershed moment in his life which he believed required immediate action upon his release. The action he chose was to create the Bishop story and, when this part of Veciana’s life is viewed through that lens, his story makes exquisite sense.

Veciana's Cocaine Conviction

Veciana was arrested on and eventually convicted of two counts: [2] conspiracy to possess and distribute narcotics and distribution of 7 kilograms of cocaine. [3] John Newman says that Veciana hated the CIA and I suspect he is right. One of the reasons that he may have hated the agency is that he believed they “set him up” for his drug conviction. [4] But I am not talking about being “setup” in the usual sense of the word. It is possible that Veciana believed that the CIA found out about his drug activities which is at least plausible since it was an international operation. Veciana may have thought that the agency manipulated the situation so he and his co-conspirators, who were clearly guilty, would be caught and convicted. But even if he did believe this, the evidence shows that he did not create Bishop for this reason. In the very first interview with Fonzi, Veciana said he thought Bishop “was working for a private organization, not the government ...” [5] But the fact that he gradually changed the story to say that Bishop was CIA could have partly been because of his dislike of the agency.

The evidence in Veciana’s drug case shows that the conspirators own naivete caused them to fall victim to an undercover sting run by a joint drug task force. According to the Appellee’s Brief, Veciana, Augustin Barres and Ariel Pomares (who worked for Barres) organized a cocaine smuggling operation during the years 1972 and 1973. The motive was recent financial losses incurred by Veciana and Barres. A statement by Max Lesnik, the publisher of the Spanish-language weekly Replica provided confirmation of Veciana’s possible financial motivation for his drug activities. Lesnik was a good friend of Veciana’s and supportive of the anti-Castro cause. On May 30, 1978, Fonzi and his assistant Gonzales interviewed Lesnik and, at one point in the interview, Lesnik was asked his opinion of Veciana’s credibility: [6]

At times I say to myself, Yes, I believe Veciana. At other times, I am not so sure. For instance, do you believe Veciana when he says it is not true about the narcotics charge? If you ask me, I would say Veciana is not the type of man who would have anything to do with narcotics. Not at all. Yet, on the other hand, I know how dedicated Veciana is; I know that more than anything else he is dedicated to overthrowing the Revolution and to killing Castro. So, the question is, could it be that he might have thought that the money that could be gotten from narcotics could be used to a more noble purpose? I don't know..."

In preliminary conversations, Veciana told Barres that he could “put a kilogram of cocaine” on his desk. Veciana provided the connection to the drugs which he developed during his years with USAID in Bolivia. Veciana traveled to Bolivia, purchased the cocaine and delivered it to Bolivian diplomats who then smuggled it into the United States. Barres provided part of the financing and Pomares received the drugs in Florida and sold some of them himself while employing middlemen to handle the remainder. The desire to change middlemen led to the conspirator’s downfall when the man they selected turned out to be an undercover detective named Bruno with the New York City Police. At times, the inexperience of the conspirators made their enterprise look like a comedy of errors. For example, the conspirators believed Bruno was a fearsome mob type so he must have played his part extremely well.

Barres was the chief witness for the prosecution and his testimony was collaborated by numerous government documents, a complete confession by Pomares [7] and by the testimony of four witnesses who confirmed aspects of Barres’ story. Barres testified that, when communicating by phone, the conspirators would use a code. The phrases, “documents signed” or “papers are ready” were to be used in conversation to refer to the cocaine being available for delivery. One of the most compelling pieces of testimony came from a man named Carpio who was an accountant at the business where Pomares worked. Carpio testified that Veciana called at one point and asked for Pomares. When Carpio told Veciana that Pomares was not there and offered to take a message, Veciana said, “Please tell him ... my name is Veciana, I received the documents.” The evidence was so overwhelming that Veciana’s entire defense consisted of a single witness-his daughter.

Fonzi, Veciana and the Bishop Story

Gaeton Fonzi, the government investigator who would be the effective co-author of the Maurice Bishop story, first tried to phone Veciana in February 1976. After determining Veciana was in prison, he made plans to visit his home in order to show his credentials to Veciana’s son Tony. This was so Fonzi could visit the Atlanta Penitentiary and interview Veciana there. But after finding out that Veciana was being released early, Fonzi arranged to interview him at his home on March 2, 1976. [8]

Upon meeting Veciana, what struck Fonzi the most was his “pallor.” Veciana’s face “still had very much a prison pallor … which is something that comes less from not being in the sun, than from something that happens to the spirt.” [9] In other words, prison had not been kind to Veciana and he doubtless had no desire to return there. My thesis is that Veciana was afraid of legal action against him since some of the things he did for ALPHA-66 certainly fell into legal “grey areas.”

Veciana himself confirmed this idea when he told Fonzi, “I am worried about certain things that can be used against me.” [10] And Fonzi admitted in Volume X of the HSCA report which he authored, “[This] investigator speculated that Veciana felt that by revealing his association with Bishop to an official representative of the U.S. Government, he would be providing himself with an element of security.” [11] Additionally, Fonzi wrote in his book “… I assumed he was concerned about some U.S. laws he may have broken during the course of his anti-Castro activity.” [12] And finally Fonzi added, “… as I came to understand, Veciana himself was anxious to use me. Just released from prison, uncertain and confused about what had happened to him, he took my arrival as an opportunity to establish a defense against any other actions which might be taken against him.” [13]

Veciana had a lot of time on his hands during the 26 months he was in Atlanta. In his book Trained to Kill, he said he kept his nose clean and “I read, and I waited, and I tried to understand how an innocent man could end up behind bars.” [14] One of the things Veciana read during his idle hours, in this case the day before Fonzi’s initial visit, was an article in the Saturday Evening Post. That article, co-authored by noted researcher Paul Hoch, speculated that Veciana was one of the three men who visited Sylvia Odio in September of 1963. [15] Fonzi knew from Veciana’s appearance (he has a distinctive facial birthmark) that he could not be one of those men. But Veciana was keeping up with current events as they related to the JFK case. Fonzi and other theorists are quick to speculate that, as Fonzi put it, “there was little reason for Veciana to assume the assassination was my priority.” [16] But as Paul Hoch wrote in the November 3, 1993 edition of his journal Echoes of Conspiracy, “[Veciana] could easily have figured out before they met that Fonzi was pursuing the JFK case.”

It turns out that the Fonzi-Veciana interview was a serendipitous meeting of the minds between one of the biggest CIA-did-it advocates and a man who was looking for someone to shoulder the blame for his terrorist activities. By his own admission, Fonzi wasn’t an objective investigator by the time of his experiences with Veciana. [17] I was never a “conspiracy theorist”, he said. “I went from an agnostic to a conspiracy believer [following a debate with Arlen Specter].” [18] This lack of objectivity made him susceptible to Veciana’s “LHO met with Bishop” tale which, as Paul Hoch notes, “Fonzi immediately accepted.” [19] Indeed, in his book Fonzi said, “I had no doubt then-and have none now-that Veciana was simply and truthfully revealing what he knew.” [20] It seems that the former investigative journalist had become a crusader.

Veciana’s Plan

In view of Veciana’s personality and the evidence that he was concerned about being prosecuted by the federal government, it is not hard to imagine that he devised a plan while in prison to share the blame for his anti-Castro activities with a nonexistent mentor. As mentioned, Veciana did not originally say that Bishop was CIA or even an intelligence man. But early on, Veciana became aware of Fonzi’s anti-CIA bias and realized that a change was needed to help ensure his continued patronage. By the time of his interview with Dick Russell about 3 months later, Veciana, taking Fonzi’s lead, was already saying that “he [Bishop] was part of an American intelligence service ...” [21] This change was fine with Veciana since it was safer and easier for him to finger an agent of an unnamed intelligence service and let Fonzi and others say it was the CIA. By 2017 though, Veciana’s account had changed to the point that he was saying he himself was a CIA operative recruited by David Phillips.

Veciana’s scheme was a clever one. And as a college graduate who had worked in Bolivia as a banking consultant with a starting salary equivalent to about $160,000 in today’s dollars, he was no dummy. [22] If he could make people believe that a CIA mentor who was as imperceptible as the boogeyman had told him what to do, then any illegal acts he might have committed were not his fault and he could not be prosecuted for them. Think of it as the “CIA made me do it” defense. And considering the revelations that were being made public at the time, it was at least plausible that the CIA could do what Veciana was alleging. On the other hand, Army Intelligence, which the evidence shows Veciana worked with, [23] did not have the same public reputation for deceitfulness attributed to the folks at Langley.

Before he could hope for his plan to work, Veciana needed to get Fonzi’s attention and he did so in a big way with his story of seeing Oswald with Bishop. Once Fonzi got a hold of him, Veciana rolled with the flow and mostly went along with Fonzi’s CIA theories. He did draw the line though at naming Phillips as Bishop, as Fonzi hoped he would do, for a couple of reasons. Veciana was smart enough to know that he could not get away with accusing a man of Phillips’ stature of being a cog in the CIA’s wheel of conspiracy without hard proof which he didn’t have. Besides, he didn’t need to do that, and it would serve no purpose for him. With Fonzi as his sponsor, he had what he wanted-protection from government scrutiny and a permanent soapbox from which he could subtly enhance his story as needed. Veciana was content to let the conspiracy books claim that Phillips was Bishop while he continued to deny it with a wink and a nod. And if the Phillips as Bishop canard was ever disproved, he could just say that he never said that Phillips was Bishop in the first place.

Delores Cao

In the nineties, the ARRB wanted to interview Veciana but he refused citing recent heart surgery. [24] However, another reason he may have declined to work with the review board was that they were interested in the alleged intermediary he had alluded to as far back as the first interviews with Fonzi. [25] That intermediary was identified in 1978 during a conversation between Veciana and author Anthony Summers as Delores Cao of Puerto Rico. [26] Both Summers and Fonzi used the codename “Fabiola” in their books when referring to Cao. Summers says he “goaded” Veciana into disclosing this information. But what if Veciana was content to let Summers think that he had gotten the best of him? Perhaps the reality was that Veciana had thought of a plan to get Summers off his back for good. Veciana probably realized that he couldn’t hold out on Summers forever so why not arrange a situation that he could control? In fact, from what I have learned about his personality, I find it hard to believe that Veciana would not intervene to get his desired result.

We know from Fonzi’s book that Veciana contacted Cao before Summers talked to her. [27] During this conversation, Veciana could have engaged in anything from mild suggestion to flat out instructing her what to say. If Veciana was manipulating Summers and did coach Cao, this could neatly dispose of any future interest in her by Summers and other researchers. From Veciana’s perspective, it was one thing for Anthony Summers to interview Cao after he prepared her. But the ARRB’s unanticipated interest in Cao, which in a worst-case scenario could have resulted in her testifying under oath, was a much more serious matter.

Veciana could have learned of the ARRB’s interest in Cao from phone calls staffers made to his son Tony. Or he simply could have anticipated that her name would logically come up during an interview. And his lack of cooperation with the ARRB could have reflected his fear of the review board locating her. According to John Newman, Cao’s name became public knowledge by 1993 so the ARRB should have known who she was without asking Veciana. [28] Or perhaps the review board learned Cao’s name and wanted to query Veciana on Fabiola’s identity to see what his reply would be and thereby access his general truthfulness. In any case, I believe Veciana wasn’t interested in helping the ARRB get anywhere near Cao. And if they became aware of her through Summers or other means, he could always make another phone call.

The Castro Letter Revisited

What evidence is there that Cao was willing to participate in Veciana’s plans? A remarkable report on two FBI interviews of Felix Zabala provides evidence that Cao may have at least lent her name to another Veciana scheme. [29] Zabala was an anti-Castro exile (and eventual double agent) who described Veciana as being, “like his own brother” and said that Veciana was “his son’s godfather.” Zabala apparently felt a tremendous sense of loyalty toward Veciana and did some remarkable things at his behest. For instance, the report provides a detailed account of a scheme involving a letter to Fidel Castro which occurred around September of 1976. This plan was the same one reported by John Newman in his book, but the document I found contains more detail and includes one prominent name left out of Newman’s version.

The letter would contain the basic elements of the Bishop story, name Veciana as a CIA operative and report details about Veciana’s participation in the 1971 assassination attempt against Castro in Chile. A key difference in this version of the story is the addition of none other than Veciana’s former secretary Cao. In this version of the story, Cao was the ostensible author of the letter rather than Zabala and it was signed with her nickname “Margarita.” The report refers to Cao as “Hilda” rather than Delores but also says that Cao is from San Juan and worked as Veciana’s secretary in Cuba and in Puerto Rico from 1961 to 1967 so it certainly seems to be the same individual.

According to Zabala, Veciana originally wanted to transmit the letter through the Czechoslovakian embassy in Washington but Zabala suggested they use his sister, who was married to Castro’s Interior Minister, instead. As in Newman’s version of the story, the author of the letter, in this case Cao, was disillusioned with Veciana who “wanted a large amount of publicity due to his appearance before a US government group.” Later in the report, Zabala was questioned about Veciana’s motive for concocting the letter. Zabala said that Veciana “was concerned about his testimony” before what would have been the permanent Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and “for some unexplained reason, wanted to establish himself in the US Cuban community as a former CIA operative.” Veciana was certain that Castro would broadcast the contents of the letter immediately, but that apparently never happened. The letter was allegedly submitted to Castro by Zabala’s sister on or about September 11, 1976.

At some point, it became apparent that the broadcast by Castro would not occur. Veciana then encouraged Zabala, who by now was working with Cuban Intelligence, to request that the contents of the letter be broadcast. Zabala was to imply to the Cubans that the reason for this was his own dissatisfaction with Veciana. Zabala went along with this idea out of friendship for Veciana and because the letter “seemed of the utmost importance” to him. My takeaway from all of this is that Veciana wanted to present himself as a CIA operative to confirm his Bishop story and possibly to enhance his standing in the exile community. And it seems that Ms. Cao, whatever her first name might be, was willing to lend her name to this deception, unless it was done without her knowledge.

The “LHO” Photos

Another contrivance engineered by Veciana using his friend Zabala was reported to the FBI by the latter in April 1977. Veciana alleged that Lee Harvey Oswald attended an ALPHA-66 meeting at which Veciana himself was present. The evidence for this startling claim was photographs provided by Veciana which he said depicted Oswald and himself in separate shots. Zabala had previously taken the photographs to a meeting with Cuban Intelligence in Mexico City, apparently at Veciana’s behest. At a lengthy videotaped interrogation, the Cuban agents had asked Zabala to identify which individual in the photographs represented Oswald. After Zabala did this, the Cubans ended the session. The FBI eventually determined that the individual in the photographs was not Oswald. [30] This incident seems to be a case of Veciana trying to spread misinformation to the Cubans (and maybe the FBI) for reasons that are unclear. Perhaps Veciana thought he would be rewarded by the Bureau in some way for his actions. However, the incident does represent a documented case of Veciana using a story involving Oswald to attempt to further his own ends. It also provides conformation that Veciana recognized the formidable effect of adding Oswald to such a tale as he did in the case of the Bishop story.

Why Phillips Was Not Bishop

The first and most obvious reason why Phillips was not Bishop is there was no Bishop, at least as Veciana described him. Bishop was likely a composite fictional character based on authority figures Veciana had really known such as Jordan Pfuntner, Patrick Harris or his real CIA case officer Cal Hicks. Veciana may have projected their qualities onto Bishop and rationalized this fabrication because of the personal sacrifice he felt he was making to rid the world of Castro. A simple case of the end justified the means. The HSCA made a valid attempt to identify Bishop but could provide absolutely no confirmation of any kind for the alleged CIA mentor. For example, the HSCA report stated: [31]

… not one of his associates--neither those who worked with him in anti-Castro activity in Cuba nor those who were associated with him in Alpha 66 said they were aware of any American directing Veciana or of anyone who had the characteristics of Maurice Bishop.

The infamous sketch of Maurice Bishop is one of the things most often mentioned as “proof” that Phillips was Bishop since theorists believe it looks like Phillips. The sketch was prepared with the help of a professional artist and represented a “pretty good” idea of what Veciana thought Bishop looked like. [32] Of course, a sketch is just an artist’s representation and the interpretation of it is subjective. Show it to a hundred people and you’ll get a hundred different answers as to who it looks like.

Fonzi himself originally thought it looked like Paul Bethel, former head of the US Information Agency in Cuba. [33] Sam Kail was an Army attaché who worked at the US embassy in Cuba and who Veciana said Bishop directed him to for help. Kail, who denied knowing Veciana, also thought the sketch looked like Bethel, a fact that Fonzi left out of his HSCA report. [34] Barney Hidalgo, A CIA employee who was interviewed by the HSCA regarding his claim that a “Bishop” worked at the CIA, thought it looked “a bit” like CIA employee Willard Galbraith. [35] This contradicts what Fonzi wrote in the HSCA report when he said, “B. H. [Hidalgo] could not identify [the sketch] as anyone he recognized.” [36]

Bradley Ayers was a US Army Captain on special assignment with the CIA based out of JM/WAVE near Miami. Ayers thought the sketch looked to be “a very accurate drawing” of Gordon Campbell, another CIA employee. Ayers thought that Bishop was Campbell and not Phillips, [37] but this is unlikely since Campbell died in 1962. [38] Ultimately, I compiled a list of 14 relevant individuals who saw the sketch and only three thought it looked like Phillips. Five people did not recognize the sketch as anyone they knew and the remaining six each identified six different persons. Ironically, one of the people who thought it looked like Phillips was Phillips himself. The others were Senator Richard Schweiker whose identification of Phillips was the beginning of Fonzi’s quest to link Phillips to Bishop [39] and CIA agent Joseph Burkholder Smith.

A second alleged “proof” that Phillips was Bishop is the supposed similarity between Veciana’s description of Bishop and Phillips. Veciana’s description of Bishop, like most aspects of his story, varied over the years. I’ll use the one Fonzi provided in the HSCA report for this discussion. Veciana said when he first met Bishop (1960 in this version) he was about 45 years old, 6 feet, 2 inches tall, weighed over 200 pounds, and was athletically built. [40] Phillips was only 38 in 1960 and CIA records show he was 6 feet tall and weighed 185 pounds. [41] The only similarity to Veciana’s description is that Phillips listed his build as “stocky.”

The rest of Veciana’s account is vague, probably intentionally so. Bishop had grey-blue eyes (Phillips had blue), light-brown hair and a light complexion, although he was supposedly “well-tanned.” Bishop was meticulously dressed and concerned about his diet, traits that there is no evidence Phillips possessed. In fact, in a 1976 piece the Washington Post described him as a “slightly rumpled chap.” [42] Phillips did wear reading glasses as Bishop did, but so do many middle-aged men.

Theorists believe that a meeting between Phillips and Veciana represents a third “proof.” The meeting took place at a conference of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO) in Reston, Virginia on September 17, 1976. [43] Fonzi’s idea was to “ambush” the unsuspecting Phillips who was not aware that Veciana would be attending. Phillips merely thought he was doing Schweiker a favor by letting three of his staffers attend the conference luncheon. Jefferson Morley, editor of JFKfacts.org made the case for “Phillips is Bishop” believers in a 2017 article: [44]

Fonzi then brought Veciana to Washington for a meeting with Phillips. Although he had worked with Veciana for a decade, Phillips coolly pretended not to know him, Veciana writes, and to not even recognize his name, which was strange, because the Cuban was very well known to the CIA officers working to overthrow Castro.
Veciana went along with Phillips’s ruse, he says, out of fear of CIA retaliation. He told Fonzi that Phillips was not the man he knew as Maurice Bishop. “I felt bad for lying to a friend,” he writes, “but he could only guess at the stakes involved when it came to breaking my vow of silence.”

But Morley’s bare-bones version doesn’t tell the full story. According to Fonzi’s account, they were escorted to Phillips’ table, and Fonzi introduced Veciana to Phillips by name and waited for his reaction: [45]

I had thought I would be able to tell, keen observer that I deemed myself, if Phillips had exhibited even the slightest hint of having recognized Veciana. Not only did Phillips not display that hint, but his eyes had moved on and off of Veciana so quickly-in the flash of a brief handshake-that it was almost as if Veciana was a nonentity.

During the conference luncheon, Veciana folded his arms across his chest and studied Philips intently, staring at the former agent to the point of making him nervous. Over the years, Fonzi and Veciana have repeatedly cited Phillips’ alleged nervousness as proof he was hiding something. However, Fonzi himself offered the obvious explanation for Phillips’ unease in an HSCA memo. “But maybe I would have gotten nervous also if some guy was just sitting there with his arms folded staring at me like Veciana was doing with Phillips.” [46]

At one point during the keynote speech, Fonzi asked Veciana if Phillips was Bishop and he answered, “No. It is not him.” [47] When the conference ended, Fonzi and Veciana approached Phillips in the hallway. Fonzi asked Phillips if he would answer some questions. When Phillips asked what the questions were about and Fonzi replied the JFK assassination, Phillips stated he would be “glad to talk with any Congressman or representative of Congress … in Congress.” Veciana then asked Phillips a few questions including if he knew Julio Lobo or Rufo Lopez-Fresquet. Phillips said that he knew those men but did not remember Veciana himself. After the conference as Fonzi and Veciana left the building, Fonzi again asked Veciana if Phillips was Bishop. “No, he’s not him” Veciana unambiguously replied. [48]

It should be noted that Phillips probably told the truth when he said he didn’t remember Veciana at all. We know from Fonzi’s description of the incident that Phillips didn’t recognize Veciana’s face. And it had been at least a decade since Veciana was in the news for anti-Castro activities so Phillips may have simply forgotten the name. And if he did know the name-so what? Phillips may merely have wanted to see where the impromptu conversation was heading. After the confrontation, Fonzi’s belief in the “Phillips as Bishop” scenario was shaken, at least for a time. In an HSCA memo he said “… for the first time, I have some doubts about Veciana’s credibility when it comes to Phillips.” [49]

The next “proof” is purely anecdotal. According to an email message written by David Phillips’ nephew Shawn, David allegedly had a conversation with his brother James and related that he was in Dallas when JFK was killed. Setting aside the fact that Phillips was the Chief of Cuban Operations in Mexico City at the time of the assassination and was almost certainly there on that day (as he said he was in his book The Night Watch), let’s look at this claim. James Phillips allegedly called David when the latter was dying of lung cancer and following years of discussions between the brothers about the JFK case. James asked David if he was in Dallas “that day” and David said “yes” and then hung up. According to this theory then, it wasn’t enough for Phillips to be the mastermind of the plot. He had to be on the ground in Dallas directing the operation or perhaps pulling the trigger himself. Of course, logic and common sense tells us that Phillips would be as far away from Dallas as he could get with witnesses to that effect if he were involved in any plot-which he wasn’t. Shawn Phillips said the confession “was not in so many words as such” and he had placed the word “confession” in quotes in the original email. [50]

Some of the “proofs” really don’t require much discussion such as the contents of an unpublished manuscript written by Phillips. That manuscript has a fictional character saying, “I share the blame [in the JFK case]” among other things. If people want to believe that Phillips would make a confession in this manner, they are free to do so. I would only say that Philips was something of a frustrated writer and probably thought there was a market for this type of thing. Apparently, he was right.

Because theorists have made much of a September 21, 1979 attempt on Veciana’s life, I’ll add this final “proof” to the list although it is a minor one at best. The standard line goes something like this: Veciana was shot in the head shortly after he testified before the HSCA in an obvious attempt by the CIA to silence him. But what the theorists don’t explain is this. The details of the Bishop story, based on Veciana’s 1976 statements to congressional investigators, had already been reported by Jack Anderson in January 1977 and Veciana’s last testimony occurred in April 1978. What purpose would be served by the CIA shooting Veciana in 1979?

Veciana made at least one accurate statement in Trained to Kill when he wrote:

But were they [the CIA] so worried about what I had to say that they tried to silence me once and for all? I don’t know. I think there’s another more likely suspect than the CIA. Castro.

Indeed, right after the shooting, Veciana’s wife told the Miami Herald:

The only enemy my husband had in the world was Fidel Castro … This must have been done by infiltrators living in Miami.

Castro had been aware of Veciana and his desire to kill him since the ALPHA-66 press coverage in the early sixties if not sooner. Therefore, the attempt on Veciana’s life was almost certainly the work of Castro acolytes and not an effort by the CIA or any US government agency to silence him.

Veciana’s Reversal

For 37 years, from 1976 to 2013, Veciana insisted Phillips was not Bishop. He said that over and over in numerous interviews and under oath before congressional committees. Then, in 2013, Veciana reversed course and said that Phillips was Bishop after all. Sometime before 2013, Veciana decided to write his memoir. When making this decision, he undoubtedly had discussions with the people at his publishing house and others who assured him that there was no downside to the reversal. Veciana’s probable motive for this was completely self-serving. He had a book to sell and needed a talking point. And at 85 years of age at the time of his revelation, he had nothing to lose. He couldn’t be prosecuted for perjury since the statute of limitations had long expired. And his already secure reputation in the conspiracy world would only be enhanced by the claim as his rock-star-like reception at the AARC conference proved.

Conclusion

I believe the evidence is clear that Antonio Veciana fabricated the Maurice Bishop story. His motive originally was to avoid prosecution for acts he committed as an anti-Castro operative. All that was necessary to achieve this goal was to name an untraceable mentor as the person who directed these acts and to have sympathetic individuals in the government such as Fonzi support him. As time went on, Bishop evolved first into a generic CIA man and then David Phillips specifically. Part of this was to appease Fonzi and the public in general who believed the agency was culpable in the JFK killing. But he may have eventually decided that the CIA, who he evidently disliked, was responsible for his drug “setup” and blaming the CIA and Phillips was a secondary form of revenge. And of course, naming Phillips as Bishop helped create a buzz for his book which served as his “historic” memoir.

There isn’t a speck of evidence aside from Veciana’s allegations that Lee Harvey Oswald met with Bishop or Phillips in Dallas. [51] Oswald was in New Orleans during the late August to early September timeframe that Veciana and Fonzi eventually settled on. And his presence there is verified by library records and unemployment checks that he cashed as well as statements by Marina. Additionally, there is no credible evidence that he boarded a plane or was driven to Dallas. It should be mentioned that even if David Phillips ran Veciana as a CIA operative, without the tie to Oswald, the story goes nowhere. But considering the available evidence, a link between Phillips and Veciana is extremely unlikely.

Gaeton Fonzi immediately accepted Veciana’s story because it provided a connection between the CIA and Oswald. That link helped confirm his own belief that a rogue faction of the CIA killed Kennedy. He participated in the formation of the Bishop story by influencing Veciana through his anti-CIA beliefs. Fonzi tried to verify Veciana’s story in his capacity as an HSCA investigator and writer. He was sincerely hoping to find verification for the story but could not do so. This, of course, did not stop him from writing his book which strongly implied that David Phillips was a conspirator in the assassination of JFK. In the years since then, numerous others have repeated the claim based on Fonzi’s “evidence.” Whatever your opinion of the CIA and the operations it ran during the cold war, the foot soldiers like Phillips were merely following orders. David Phillips certainly did not deserve to be smeared by the likes of Fonzi and others without substantial proof. And such proof currently does not exist.

Notes

[1] Author John Newman, who has done some good work on Veciana, now apparently believes that the Pentagon (who he thinks was behind the JFK killing), somehow arranged to have Veciana’s sentence reduced in exchange for his promotion of the Bishop canard upon his release. We will have to wait for Newman’s next book to see his proof for this. But one problem with this theory is that we know from the first Fonzi interview that Veciana wasn’t initially pushing the CIA or intelligence angle.
[2] In his book, Veciana says it was three counts, an error which others have repeated.
[3] Unless otherwise noted, all information in this section comes from: United States of America, Appellee, vs. Ariel Pomares and Antonio Veciana, Appellants. No. 1127, Docket 74-1219. United States Court of Appeals Second Circuit. Argued June 14, 1974. Decided July 5, 1974.
[4] Fonzi, Gaeton. The Last Investigation: What Insiders Know About the Assassination of JFK. New York: Skyhorse Publishing, 2013. Kindle Edition p. 395. According to Fonzi, Veciana alternated between blaming the CIA (in the form of Bishop) and Castro.
[5] Rough Notes of Fonzi Interview with Antonio Veciana, March 2, 1976. RIF 157-10007-10208.
[6] RIF 180-10065-10373.
[7] Pomares later tried to have his confession thrown out but on appeal it was determined that it was properly obtained.
[8] Fonzi, 119-121.
[9] Ibid., 123.
[10] Ibid., 124.
[11] HSCA Volume X, paragraph 144.
[12] Fonzi, 124.
[13] Ibid.
[14] Veciana, Antonio and Harrison, Carlos. Trained to Kill: The Inside Story of CIA Plots against Castro, Kennedy and Che. New York: Skyhorse Publishing. Kindle Edition, 2017, Chapter 10.
[15] Hoch, Paul and George O’Toole. “Dallas: The Cuban Connection.” The Saturday Evening Post, March 1976.
[16] Fonzi, 124.
[17] See my article “Gaeton Fonzi and the Veciana Allegations” for more information on Fonzi’s bias.
[18] http://www.maryferrell.org/pages/Essay_-_Reply_From_a_Conspiracy_Believer.html.
[19] Paul Hoch, Echoes of Conspiracy, November 3, 1993, p. 3.
[20] Fonzi, 126.
[21] Russell, Dick. On the Trail of the JFK Assassins: A Groundbreaking Look at America’s Most Infamous Conspiracy. New York: Skyhorse Publishing. Kindle Edition, 2008, p. 148.
[22] Veciana started at $22,000 plus housing, travel and baggage allowances. See RIF 180-10104-10396.
[23] See the “Malcolm Blunt DOD documents” at John Newman’s website: https://jfkjmn.com/.
[24] ARRB memo from Tom Samoluk to David Marwell, May 7, 1997.
[25] ARRB, “Interview Format for Antonio Veciana” obtained from the Black Vault.
[26] Newman, John. Into the Storm: The Assassination of President Kennedy Volume III. Kindle Edition, Chapter 3.
[27] Fonzi, 318.
[28] Newman, Chapter 3.
[29] All information in this section is taken from a report of two interviews by the FBI with Zabala, RIF 104-10102-10198.
[30] Memo from FBI Director Clarence M. Kelley to Director of Central Intelligence, June 6, 1977.
[31] HSCA Volume X, paragraph 145.
[32] Ibid., paragraph 169.
[33] Fonzi, 322.
[34] Memorandum from Fonzi to Blakey, RIF 180-10072-10179.
[35] RIF 104-10146-10142.
[36] HSCA Volume X, paragraph 190.
[37] ARRB memo from Christopher Barger to Jeremy Gunn, May 18, 1995.
[38] https://jfkfacts.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Campbell-death-certificate.pdf.
[39] Fonzi, 157.
[40] HSCA Volume X, paragraph 168.
[41] David Atlee Phillips, “CIA Personal Record Questionnaire” obtained from the Black Vault.
[42] White, Jean M. “Intelligence Gathering: Insiders Meet on the Outside.” The Washington Post, September 18, 1976, p. 1.
[43] Memo from Fonzi to Troy Gustavson, September 20, 1976, RIF 180-10103-10396.
[44] Morley, Jefferson. “The CIA’s Secrets about JFK, Che and Castro Revealed in New Book by Former Operative.” Newsweek Magazine, May 28, 2017.
[45] Fonzi, 166.
[46] Memo from Fonzi to Troy Gustavson, September 20, 1976, RIF 180-10103-10396.
[47] Fonzi, 167.
[48] Ibid, 167-69.
[49] Memo from Fonzi to Gustavson, op. cit.
[50] http://www.jfkmurdersolved.com/phillips.htm.
[51] It should be clear to most researchers by now that Wynne Johnson, who “collaborated” the story of Veciana seeing LHO and Bishop, is an after-the-fact Judyth Baker type who is not worthy of belief. For more information see: http://wtracyparnell.blogspot.com/2017/04/wynne-johnson.html.
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