Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Trained to Kill

In the Forward to Antonio Veciana’s book Trained to Kill: The Inside Story of CIA Plots Against Castro, Kennedy and Che, David Talbot writes that the mantra of lone assassin theorists which states, “someone would have talked” is put to rest by Veciana’s memoir. Veciana is certainly talking, but the problem is the things he is saying now are not the same as what he was saying in the beginning. As I explain here, Veciana’s March 1976 interviews with Gaeton Fonzi as well as his HSCA testimony are often vastly different than the story that is told today. That evolution continues with the release of his book.

After a short perusal, I stopped reading long enough to check for a disclaimer advising that a form of literary license had been employed. I found none. Veciana’s tale now includes suicide pills, disappearing ink, lie detector tests, truth serum and other clich├ęs that are notably absent from earlier versions of the story. He now says that he lied about Phillips being Bishop at least partly because of his CIA secrecy oath which he apparently believes was administered at a one of a kind Knights of Columbus-style ceremony. The following list of questions for Veciana will be forwarded to his publisher for comment. This will be an ongoing project as the discrepancies in this latest version are numerous.

· You testified under oath before the US Congress that David Phillips was not Maurice Bishop. For over thirty years you continued to deny that Phillips was Bishop. Despite the fact that you were given immunity and assured that you were released from any CIA secrecy oath you may have taken, why did you lie about Phillips being Bishop in your HSCA testimony and why should we believe you now?

· You admit that when Phillips died in 1988 you could have gone public with your story since “the danger, or most of it, I think, died with him” yet you didn’t. And you continued to insist Phillips was not Bishop for the next 25 years. You now claim this was because you didn’t want to appear like you were “dancing on his grave.” Since you want us to think Bishop and the CIA may have been behind the 1979 attempt on your life, is this scenario really believable?

· In all versions of the story you say Bishop’s first name was Maurice. Yet documents reveal that government investigators asked the CIA to search for “Morris," "Jim” and “John” Bishop as well. This was probably a result of what you told the Church Committee when you testified in 1976. Isn’t it true that you were originally uncertain about Bishop’s first name and settling on “Maurice” was just a way to add legitimacy to your allegations?

· Why do you now say you met Bishop in 1959, when in all other versions of your story you say the date was mid-1960?

· In your book in an attempt to add legitimacy to your story, you state that you met Bishop at the Floridita restaurant in Havana, the same place mentioned by David Phillips in his book as a favorite. But what is your evidence that you made this statement before Phillips published his book in 1977? According to my research, the first appearance of this claim is your 1978 HSCA testimony.

· Why do you now say Bishop spoke Spanish with an American accent when you originally said it was an Argentinian accent?

· You say that at the initial meeting with Bishop he provided a “detailed account” of your life story implying his CIA involvement and when you asked him where he got this information he merely smiled. Since this anecdote is absent from other accounts of your experiences with Bishop, isn’t this just a newly invented way to make people believe Bishop was CIA and add legitimacy to your allegation that he was Phillips?

· Why did you say in the book that during the first meeting with Bishop he stated that he was working “on behalf of a US intelligence agency,” yet in your initial interview with Fonzi in 1976 and in your 1978 HSCA testimony, you stated you believed Bishop was “working for a private organization, not the government?”

· Why would a CIA man such as Bishop, who was presumably interested in remaining incognito, travel around in a large black sedan complete with a driver?

· In most accounts of your story, the man who allegedly conducted your CIA training is referred to simply as “Melton.” However, in your HSCA testimony, when asked Melton’s first name you stated, “I think it was Joe.” Yet in your book you say he was “Dick Melton.” How did you come to this conclusion?

· In your HSCA testimony, you said that Melton didn’t speak “any” Spanish, but in the book you say he “spoke a lot of Spanish but he wasn’t fluent.” Why the discrepancy?

· You now say that you were given a lie detector test by Melton which was “straight from the CIA’s own manual on interrogation techniques.” Isn’t this story, which is absent from other accounts of your experiences, just another poorly disguised way to try and connect yourself to the CIA?

· You now say you were given a sort of truth serum by a CIA man named “Smith” who is a newcomer to your story. Isn’t this allegation, which is again missing from other accounts of your experiences, just a fabrication?

· You state that Bishop gave you a pill with which to commit suicide in case you were captured and that you communicated with him by letters written in invisible ink which were then conveniently destroyed. Yet these allegations are absent from earlier versions of your story. Wouldn’t Fonzi and the HSCA have been interested in this information if it were true?

· You say that you met privately with Che Guevara and recount detailed conversations. But this fact is again missing from other accounts of your story. Why?

· You claim you were “trained to kill” by the CIA and worked for many years to eliminate Castro yet he died an old man and there is no evidence you killed anyone. Why were you so spectacularly unsuccessful?

· You say your drug conviction was a setup, yet your appeal was denied. What evidence can you produce to prove your innocence?

· In the Preface, you say that when you testified before Congress that you “said nothing” but “now you will.” You also say that when you saw Phillips at the AFIO luncheon you “said nothing.” In fact, in both instances you said Phillips was not Bishop. If you thought Phillips was Bishop you could have requested protection from the government and testified against him. Why didn’t you?

· Since Fonzi used a translator in interviews with you, he couldn’t have understood Spanish, at least not very well. So, isn’t Fonzi’s description of the encounter at the AFIO luncheon with Phillips based on what you told him?

· You now imply a connection with the CIA calling yourself a “spy” and a “CIA asset.” But the CIA only reports three meetings with you in which they listened to your ideas but offered no encouragement. What evidence can you provide that proves you worked for the agency? Surely you have some documentation. After all, what “spy” or “asset” works for free?

· In the early Fonzi interviews and your HSCA testimony, you often could not remember significant details about your experiences with Bishop. Yet now you recount entire conversations with him and specific dates in excruciating detail. How do you account for this sudden improvement in your memory?

· You told Fonzi in an interview that you did not keep a diary, so if you are referring to documentation of some type to refresh your memory why was this not made available to investigators to help verify your story?

· Are you aware that the CIA does not have an “asset” sign a loyalty pledge during a “commitment ceremony" as you claim happened? The mafia perhaps, but not the CIA. By the way, in your HSCA testimony you described this ceremony as being similar to those used by the Knights of Columbus. Is this really believable?

· You say that “Bishop preferred conferring in public places” but doesn’t it defy logic that a CIA man would meet two alleged assets such as yourself and Lee Harvey Oswald in a public place as respected conspiracy advocate Harold Weisberg maintained?

· In your book, you say that “it’s hard to mistake the 42-story Southland Center for any other edifice.” Yet in all the early interviews, you never said the building where the alleged meeting between you, Bishop and LHO took place was the Southland Center, only that it was a bank or insurance company and that it could have been white or blue in color. Later in your HSCA testimony, you said it had “blue marble or blue ornaments.” But when Fonzi specifically asked you if it was Southland during the March 11 interview you said you didn’t remember. Why do you now make this claim?

· As you point out, at the time the Southland Center was the tallest building west of the Mississippi. Why did you never mention the building’s unusual height in any early interviews?

· Aren’t you inserting Wynne Johnson and his girlfriend into your story now only because you feel he is some sort of confirmation of your allegations? Why did you never mention him or the girl before?

· You state that the date of the LHO-Bishop meeting was “near the end of the week” and “near the end of August or the beginning of September.” Yet in your March 1976 interviews with Fonzi, you only mention “summer,” “July” and “August” with no mention of September or “late August” at all. In your HSCA testimony you simply say it was “three months prior to the Kennedy assassination.” In the summer of 1976 interview with Dick Russell, you again said August. Wasn’t the “late August-early September” time frame Fonzi’s idea and a result of his own theories?

· You have always maintained that Bishop paid you $253,000 in cash on July 26, 1973. Yet in his book, Fonzi moved the year to 1972. Why did Fonzi not believe that you received the cash two days after you were arrested on a drug charge?

· You state that over the course of three years Fonzi “found ways to corroborate nearly every single detail of that meeting in the lobby of the Dallas skyscraper.” But isn’t it true that the HSCA report on you written by Fonzi said that “no definitive conclusion could be reached about the credibility of Antonio Veciana's allegations regarding his relationship with a Maurice Bishop. Additionally, no definitive conclusions could be drawn as to the identity or affiliations of Bishop, if such an individual existed?” And isn’t it true that the report said, “No corroboration was found for Veciana's alleged meeting with Lee Harvey Oswald?”

· You refer to a 1979 incident in which you were shot saying that “someone didn’t want me around to see the final [HSCA] report.” But you had already testified before both the Church Committee and the HSCA, so what purpose would be served by shooting you then? Why not silence you before you could testify and before your numerous media appearances that went on for years?

· Considering all the demonstrable inaccuracies in your book, should your publisher have added a disclaimer?

· Finally, why did you continually plead the fifth amendment in your testimony before the HSCA despite the fact that you had been given immunity against prosecution?


  1. So………. when do you expect answers? Thank you for your effort in this affair.

  2. Thanks Mark-I have contacted the publisher so we will see what they say and I'll report back here when they do.

  3. This says more about W. Tracy Parnell than it does about David Atlee Phillips or Anthony Veciana - both of whom were entwined with the accused assassin and fall guy - so Phillips and Veciana were fed to the wolves just like Oswald.


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