Sunday, June 25, 2017

Bill Kelly on Veciana

Researcher Bill Kelly has posted a review of Antonio Veciana’s book Trained to Kill at his blog called JFKcountercoup:

http://jfkcountercoup.blogspot.com/2017/06/antonio-vecianas-trained-to-kill-kellys.html

JFKfacts.org editor Jefferson Morley is impressed with Kelly’s review:

Morley on Kelly

Morley and Kelly are big fans of Veciana who reversed himself in 2014 by saying that the late David Atlee Phillips was his CIA “case officer” Maurice Bishop. Veciana had denied that Phillips was Bishop both in sworn testimony before the HSCA and in numerous interviews for more than 30 years. Morley and Kelly believe Veciana now and discount his previous denials apparently because the Phillips as Bishop scenario dovetails beautifully with their CIA-did-it theories regarding the JFK assassination.

Morley states that Kelly “nails the point that Veciana’s critics strive to avoid. Phillips did use the alias “Maurice Bishop” and his physical description of “Bishop” bore an uncanny resemblance to Phillips.”

From my reading, Kelly’s proof that Phillips was Bishop, other than Veciana’s pronouncements that he was, rests on two points. The first is the resemblance between a specific photo of Phillips and a sketch prepared from a description provided by Veciana. The second point is described by Kelly this way:

We knew Phillips was "Maurice Bishop" - as Veciana described him to Congressional investigator Gaeton Fonzi and journalist Dick Russell in the 1970s - by comparing that profile to Phillips' description of himself in his autobiography, Nightwatch - 25 Years of Peculiar Service, which provides more than a dozen matches to specific times, places and events that certify his true identity.

Regarding the sketch of Bishop, the idea that it looked like Phillips originated with Senator Richard Schweiker. And the photo (shown above with the sketch) does bear at least some resemblance to the sketch. But if you look carefully at other photos of Phillips, the resemblance is not as clear, at least to me:

https://www.google.com/search?q=david+atlee+phillips&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&sqi=2&ved=0ahUKEwjZwZLlqtnUAhUBOyYKHTF9B0oQ_AUIBygC&biw=1280&bih=603

And not everyone thought the sketch looked like Phillips. None of the CIA employees shown the sketch during the HSCA investigation identified it as Phillips. And another HSCA interviewee, James Cogswell, thought it looked like the President of Freeport Sulphur. Who a particular sketch look like is, of course, very much a subjective exercise. Colonel Sam Kail, thought it looked like Paul Bethel, the former head of the US Information Agency in Cuba and a friend of Phillips. Interestingly, someone else who thought the sketch looked like Bethel was Gaeton Fonzi himself. In fact, Fonzi first operated on the theory that Bethel was Bishop until Veciana told him he wasn’t. But as mentioned, Veciana also said Phillips was not Bishop for years until he reversed himself.

As for Kelly’s second proof that Bishop was Phillips, he outlines nether the “profile” provided by Veciana or the “dozen matches to specific times, places and events that certify his true identity.” Of course, Veciana’s profile of Bishop would necessarily need to have been provided prior to Phillips’ 1977 book. Otherwise, it would be worthless since Veciana or Fonzi could have obtained the information from that volume. And I am not aware of a detailed profile given by Veciana prior to 1977, only a general description that could match about a million other individuals as it did Bethel. Perhaps Kelly or Morley could enlighten me on this point and list the “more than a dozen” items which Veciana provided before 1977 that match Phillips.

However unlikely, it is certainly possible that Phillips used the alias of Maurice Bishop. Phillips admitted he used dozens or perhaps hundreds of aliases over the years. Perhaps the 2017 documents will reveal just such an alias. But the documents will also have to reveal that Phillips was Veciana’s CIA contact and more importantly that Phillips was also Oswald’s CIA contact or at least meeting with him. Absent these facts, Veciana’s largely undocumented claims have little relevance to the JFK case. To Kelly’s credit, he does at least allude to the fact that Veciana’s story does not always survive scrutiny as documented at this blog. He also correctly points out that the book’s lack of sources hurts its credibility.

Kelly and Morley part ways somewhat when it comes to the subject of Wynne Johnson who came forward in 2014 to “confirm” Veciana’s story of meeting Bishop and Oswald at the Southland Center in Dallas. Morley doesn’t buy Johnson’s story but Kelly apparently does as he mentions a “girl who directed them to the coffee shop” and this is the same girl mentioned by Johnson. Veciana also mentions the girl in his book, but predictably never remembered her in any other accounts of his story.

I'll have more to say on the subject of Phillips as Bishop in future articles.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Response to Morley

Jefferson Morley has written a piece at JFKfacts that is critical of my work on the Antonio Veciana story. Morley refers to that work as a “prosecutors brief.” I am still working on Veciana and will have more to say in the near future. For now, here is a brief response to Morley.

Morley says that my theory of Veciana “requires no further investigation because [I think I am] right.” To the contrary, I believe that a very good book could be written about Veciana presenting the opposing view to Fonzi’s Last investigation. Many questions about Veciana remain unanswered and many of his assertions still need verification. All of this would require more investigation and I plan to do what I can in the coming months, although I don’t believe I am qualified to do a complete book since I am not an expert on the Cuban angle as it relates to the assassination nor a professional writer. I am just a guy in my pajamas who is a skeptic and debunker. My goal is to make people think and to provide work that can be used by future researchers. Perhaps someone like Gus Russo or Brian Latell will eventually tell the complete Veciana story when all the documents are released.

Morley says I believe that “Veciana is some guy who made up a bunch of stories for no reason.” I never said it was for no reason and while I don’t pretend to know his motive, I speculate that it was self-preservation. Veciana was just coming out of prison when he spoke to Fonzi and clearly had no desire to return. I believe he wanted to show that any illegal activities he may have committed in his years of anti-Castro work were at the behest of the CIA. That is why I believe he created the Bishop character who may have been a composite of several real CIA/FBI/Military people that he knew. But, there could have been any number of other possible motives and further investigation is needed.

Morley says my “cartoonish” account of Fonzi is unfair and that I “caricature him as a conspiracy theorist” which is “false.” But as I point out, Fonzi admitted he “went from an agnostic to a conspiracy believer.” If you look at the quote by Fonzi that I reference, he said he wasn’t a theorist since, to him, conspiracy was a fact. Semantics aside, he clearly was a conspiracy believer. And it is not a good thing for an ostensibly impartial government investigator to already have a firm position. Fonzi certainly was a skilled and experienced investigator but his bias affected the way he conducted his work as I show and as at least some of his peers believed.

Morley asks several good questions about Veciana and some of these should investigated further. However, one point Morley brings up repeatedly as proof of Veciana’s bona fides is the fact that he had a CIA cryptonym. But as Morley should know, a cryptonym is just a code name used by the CIA to refer to an individual or group and does not prove or imply employment by the agency. And as a founding member of Alpha 66, Veciana was a person of interest to the CIA.

Morley also asks who was Veciana’s case officer if not David Phillips. The question is premature since we only have Veciana’s word that he worked for the CIA and agency documents report there was no connection.

And while there is some circumstantial evidence for Phillips as Bishop (but not as much as conspiracy people believe), more investigation is needed. But even if Phillips was Maurice Bishop, without the Bishop-Veciana-Oswald connection the story goes nowhere. As Fonzi himself noted in his HSCA writeup, “The committee's interest in the relationship between Antonio Veciana and Maurice Bishop is of course predicated on Veciana's contention that he saw Bishop with Lee Harvey Oswald in Dallas a few months before the assassination of John F. Kennedy.” And if Veciana did make up the Bishop story, the inclusion of Oswald ensured that he would receive the committee’s full attention.

Morley seems to have missed the point of my series, which is to offer a much-needed skeptical look at Veciana’s claims. And Morley’s analysis neglects to mention the provable evolution in Veciana’s story from 1976 to the present. If Morley or anyone can prove with indisputable documentation that Veciana was a CIA employee and that Phillips was Maurice Bishop, I will accept that fact. But barring any revelatory 2017 documents, I believe Morley and like-minded individuals will have a more difficult time showing that Phillips was “handling” Lee Harvey Oswald for the CIA.

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