Saturday, June 20, 2020

The Last Laugh

Antonio Veciana has the last laugh, at least for the time being. The former anti-Castro activist died last Thursday at the age of 91 and his hometown paper, the Miami Herald, provided him with exactly the sort of obituary he would have wanted.

Herald reporter Sarah Moreno wrote that Veciana was “trained by the CIA” to carry out military actions. “Veciana worked for the CIA in Bolivia” Moreno’s article continues, “until he fell out with the agent who was running him, David Atlee Phillips.” According to Moreno, at a meeting with Phillips, whose code-name was Maurice Bishop, Veciana observed his handler talking with Lee Harvey Oswald, the assassin of President Kennedy. Fearing for his life and the safety of his family, Veciana did not mention the incident during congressional hearings on the assassination, according to Moreno who was quoting Veciana’s daughter Ana Veciana-Suarez.

It is unfortunate that a respected publication such as the Herald did not take more care in the preparation of the obituary. It is apparent that only two sources the Herald used were Veciana-Suarez and Veciana’s virtually fictionalized autobiography Trained to Kill. The claims against Phillips, a highly decorated CIA officer who rose to the number three position in the agency, are particularly regrettable and should have been presented as allegations instead of facts. The purpose of this article is to attempt to untangle the mess the Herald has created.

The myriad problems with Veciana’s changing story of his life have been discussed at this site in detail and will therefore only be summarized here. There is no evidence, save for Veciana’s word, that he was trained by the CIA to do anything or that he “worked” for the agency. He was an asset of sorts for a brief time and in December of 1961, the agency requested a Provisional Operational Approval to use him as a “sabotage man.” But shortly thereafter, Veciana began his work with Alpha 66 as an organizer and fundraiser and there is no evidence that he did any sort of sabotage work for the agency. And his case officer during this abortive sojourn was not David Phillips but Cal Hicks. The POA was canceled in October of 1962 because of a lack of “further interest” by the agency.

There is no evidence that Veciana ever received a dime from the CIA. A one-time payment of $500 often mentioned by theorists came from CIA asset Luis A. Ferre. But this was a private donation by Ferre to the Alpha 66 cause rather than any sort of payoff for Veciana’s services. In 1962, Veciana provided information to Army Intelligence that he hoped would secure money and arms for Alpha 66. This relationship lasted for four years although Veciana always attempted to minimize the association.

Despite the quote attributed by Moreno to his daughter, Veciana most certainly did mention his Maurice Bishop story during “congressional hearings.” He first told his story in a series of interviews with government investigator Gaeton Fonzi in March of 1976. Later that year, Veciana testified before both the Church Committee and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. In 1978, he testified on consecutive days before the House Select Committee on Assassinations and repeated his Bishop tale. Fonzi championed Veciana’s cause until his own death in 2012 and authored a scandalous article in 1980 that resulted in a lawsuit by Phillips, who always denied that he was Bishop. Fonzi was forced to admit in his HSCA report that “No corroboration was found for Veciana's alleged meeting with Lee Harvey Oswald.” Fonzi later wrote a book that popularized Veciana’s story in the conspiracy culture and promoted the notion of CIA complicity in the death of JFK utilizing the Bishop story.

Veciana initially never claimed that Phillips, or anyone else, was Bishop and he supposedly was looking for his former case officer so he could rejoin him in the anti-Castro effort. In various interviews with Fonzi and others, Veciana stated that Bishop was not necessarily CIA but could have been an agent for another intelligence service or acting on behalf of a powerful interest group. After a face-to-face meeting with Phillips, Veciana told Fonzi that the CIA man was not Bishop and Fonzi admitted in his book that Phillips showed no recognition of Veciana. Testifying under oath in 1978, Veciana swore that Phillips was not Bishop and repeated this claim for most of his life.

However, in 2013 at the urging of Fonzi’s widow Marie, Veciana reversed course and declared that Phillips was Bishop after all. But JFK conspiracy researcher and author John Newman discovered that both of Veciana’s stories about meeting Phillips as Bishop in Cuba were demonstrably false. In Veciana’s first version of the story, he met Bishop in mid-1960 but Phillips had left the island permanently no later than March of that year and perhaps earlier. By the time of his Assassinations Archives and Research Center conference appearance in 2014, Veciana, perhaps aware of the 1960 timing problem, was floating a new scenario that placed his meeting with Phillips in 1959. But Newman found that, during the time Veciana claims he met Phillips that year, the latter was involved in a potentially life-threatening security problem that precluded any recruitment of new agents.

Veciana’s 2017 autobiography repeated the Bishop canard and added new details that he had unaccountably neglected to mention to investigator Fonzi or anyone else. Veciana expanded his tale to include suicide pills, disappearing ink, lie detector tests, truth serum and other unverified specifics apparently designed to move books. Similarly, Veciana’s AARC appearance inexplicably added new “facts” to the Bishop lexicon. As one astonished conference attendee put it, Veciana claimed among other things that, “David Atlee Phillips imagined and organized the entire Mexico City scenario [Oswald traveled there in 1963 just before the assassination].” It should be noted that when Veciana made the new claims in his book and at the conference, he was well into his eighties.

It is likely that there was no Maurice Bishop. Veciana almost certainly made up an imaginary case officer to have someone to blame for his 1974 drug conviction. In the early interviews with Fonzi, Veciana mentioned his drug conviction repeatedly and stated that Bishop may have had something to do with it. Later, he was just as likely to say that Castro had “set him up” although a review of the trial transcripts shows that the evidence against Veciana was compelling. In the final analysis, the Miami Herald should have at least qualified the information they provided in the obituary and their failure to do so is lamentable. Veciana has the last laugh for now but increasing scrutiny of his life story by researchers may ultimately deliver him a different place in history.

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 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 with a video that has since been taken down. 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

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