6. “It is Close, but it is Not Him”

Title Quote: Antonio Veciana
Photo: Gaeton Fonzi and "Bishop"

During the session with the Philadelphia sketch artist, which lasted “a few tedious hours”, the outline of Maurice Bishop was essentially created, not only by Veciana, but his advocate Fonzi. Phillips always believed the sketch resembled him and thought he knew why. As part of the argument against Fonzi and his employer during legal action he later brought against them, Phillips’ attorneys claimed that Fonzi “fabricated the composite sketch to link [Phillips] to Maurice Bishop by supplying a description of [Phillips] to the composite sketch artist. Indeed, Fonzi admitted in his book that he had provided a description of Bishop during a phone call he made to the sketch artist prior to their meeting with him.1 If this had been a criminal case, such a description would only be provided by the witness, but Fonzi was able to take liberties since this was not a legal matter. This is yet another instance of Fonzi’s guiding hand working behind the scenes to shape the facts.

The infamous sketch of Bishop is one of the things most often mentioned by Fonzi supporters as “proof” that Phillips was Bishop since they believe it resembles Phillips. Of course, a sketch is just an artist’s representation and the interpretation of it is subjective. Show it to a hundred relevant people and you may 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.2 Sam Kail, the Army attaché who worked at the US embassy in Cuba and who Veciana said Bishop directed him to for help, also thought the sketch “somewhat resembled” Bethel, a fact that Fonzi left out of his HSCA report.3 Balmes “Barney” Hidalgo, a CIA employee who was interviewed by the HSCA regarding his claim that a “Bishop” worked at the CIA, thought the sketch looked “a bit” like CIA employee Willard Galbraith although he was less than certain. This contradicts what Fonzi wrote in the HSCA report when he said, “B. H. [Hidalgo] could not identify [the sketch] as anyone he recognized.”4

Bradley Ayers was a US Army Captain on special assignment with the CIA based out of the infamous JMWAVE station near Miami.5 Ayers thought the sketch looked to be “a very accurate drawing” of Gordon Campbell, another CIA employee. Ayers also thought that Bishop was Campbell and not Phillips, but this is unlikely since Campbell died in 1962. Ayers eventually became a conspiracy theorist and had many dubious ideas. However, he evidently knew Phillips and did not believe the sketch looked like him. Ultimately, fourteen relevant individuals saw the sketch and only three thought it looked like Phillips.6 Five people did not recognize the sketch as anyone they knew and the remaining six identified five separate individuals. Ironically, one of the people who thought it looked like Phillips was Phillips himself,7 the others being Schweiker and retired CIA officer Joseph Burkholder Smith, who was the only agency person to name Phillips.8

Fonzi and like-minded theorists make much of the fact that Phillips’ brother Edwin, whom he traveled to Texas to interview, thought the sketch looked like David. But Edwin had spoken to David who told him about the sketch, so he expected to see that it resembled his brother. Edwin then showed it to his secretaries and others after telling them the story of the sketch and its resemblance to David. So, it is no surprise they all thought it looked like David.9 Note that in Fonzi’s book and other works critical of Phillips, the Bishop sketch is placed alongside a frontal head shot of the CIA man. The idea is placed into the mind of the reader that the sketch and this specific photograph are similar.10 But when the sketch is compared to other photos of Phillips, the resemblance nearly disappears.

As the search for Bishop continued, Schweiker aide Dave Newhall informed Fonzi that People magazine had recently carried a feature on Phillips that contained photos. Fonzi was eager to show a picture of his latest suspect to Veciana but was unable to find a copy of the relevant issue. Fonzi instead arranged to take Veciana to the local library to see the photos and gauge his reaction. When shown the photos of Phillips, Veciana studied them intently and at first refused to say if Phillips was Bishop or not. Finally, he stated “it is close, but it is not him.” However, Veciana still wanted to talk to Phillips because he thought that “maybe he could help” locate Bishop, a claim that even Fonzi was dubious of.11

Despite Veciana’s initial flat denial that Phillips was Bishop, he continued to send conflicting signals to Fonzi on the matter. Veciana would make equivocal statements such as “maybe if I saw [Phillips] I could tell better.” This gave Fonzi the impression that “Veciana’s very definite ‘no’ to that photo of Phillips wasn’t all that definite.”12 However, Fonzi failed to consider that Veciana’s dithering language may have served the purpose of keeping Fonzi interested in his cause. Simple common-sense, something Fonzi’s bias would evidently not let him use, dictates that, if Veciana had really attended over one-hundred meetings during a thirteen-year relationship with Bishop, he would be able to tell instantly if Phillips was the same individual. He would not need additional time to ponder the matter or to have a conversation with him. He would know instantaneously, and his reaction would betray that knowledge.

The reason that Fonzi could not let go of Phillips was easy to see. Fonzi had become convinced that the CIA was complicit in the JFK murder and Phillips represented the perfect Bishop suspect. Phillips, through his high-profile job at the CIA, could plausibly be placed just about anywhere in the world at any given moment. Consider the fact that Veciana had denied that Bishop was several other individuals including George de Mohrenshildt and Paul Bethel, and Fonzi had immediately accepted it. But in the case of Phillips, the lure was too strong and Fonzi simply refused to give up.

Fonzi was frustrated in the search for Bishop by Veciana’s vacillating description of him. In fact, Fonzi himself admitted that Veciana’s characterization of his mysterious mentor was “wavy.” But the idea that Veciana might be fabricating the Bishop story never occurred to the credulous Fonzi. Instead, he rationalized the issue by saying that the lack of detail could be accounted for by Bishop wearing a disguise. But Veciana himself, who could be reasonably expected to notice such a ruse, never alleged this.13 Another reason Fonzi gave for Veciana’s uncertainty was that his “mental image [of Bishop] was an amalgam” of the changes that he had undergone during their 13-year relationship.14 But when Fonzi met Veciana in 1976, he had allegedly seen Bishop just three years earlier. It is reasonable to assume that Veciana would at least have a clear mental image of what Bishop looked like then.

What exactly did Bishop look like according to Veciana? To answer that and other questions about Veciana’s story, it is useful to identify the different versions of his story. The table below lists the important versions of his story and explains the circumstances under which the story was given. Fonzi and Veciana had private conversations over the years, but we have only Fonzi’s word about those. Additionally, Veciana gave numerous interviews through the years but those are not as comprehensive as the sources listed below.

Date Event Source
 March 1976  Fonzi-Veciana Interviews  RIFs 157-10007-10311, 157-10007-10208, 157-10004-10158
 June 1976  Russell Interview  The Village Voice, August 1978
 April 1978  Veciana HSCA Testimony  RIF 180-10116-10202, 180-10118-10145
 Sept. 2014  AARC Conference  ourhiddenhistory.org
 2017  Trained to Kill  n/a

In The Last Investigation, Fonzi described Bishop in the following manner. Fonzi admitted that this description comes from his “cherry-picking” among Veciana’s various descriptions to create his own vision of Bishop, one that Veciana did not necessarily confirm in all instances.

Depending on when I spoke with him, Veciana’s guess at Bishop’s age when he first met him in 1960 ranged from “over 35” to “under 45.” While in some ways Veciana’s description of Bishop was fairly consistent—he was tall, “maybe six foot,” or “maybe six foot two”; “close to 200 pounds” or “maybe 210 pounds” … Bishop was always a very meticulous dresser, neat and well-groomed. In his later years, he wore glasses more often, but took them off to ruminate with the stem on his lips. He was usually well-tanned, although under his eyes there was a certain blotchiness, a spotty darkness, as if from being in the sun too long. He had brown hair, with some gray later. Generally, he was a good-looking man.

Because Fonzi did not use citations in his book, it is impossible to know where every piece of this description of Bishop originated. But the situation may be clarified by a look at original sources. During the initial Fonzi interview in March, Veciana first said that Bishop would be “64 or 65” at the time of the interview which would make him 48 or 49 in 1960. By the second interview, Veciana described Bishop as 45 years old or a little less, 6’ 2”, blue eyes, brown hair with blondish [accents], a “big guy”, 200-215 pounds and very concerned about his weight.

Bishop was a well-dressed gentleman who never used eyeglasses until the later years of their relationship.15 This description is like the book’s amalgamated one, but a key difference is that the “blotchiness” and “spotty darkness” under the eyes is missing from Veciana’s earliest description. Instead, Veciana simply said Bishop had “on his face not freckles but like sunspots later on.” The difference is important because Fonzi believed that Bishop’s “most noticeable feature” was the dark areas under the eyes. Possibly due to Fonzi’s influence, by the time of the Dick Russell interview about 3 months later, Veciana was saying that the sunspots on Bishop’s face were “sunspots below the eyes”16

During his 1978 testimony before the HSCA, Veciana was questioned extensively and gave perhaps his most comprehensive description of Bishop. By then, two years had passed since Fonzi first interviewed him and, during that time, Veciana had evidently forgotten some of his earlier statements regarding Bishop. Veciana testified that Bishop “looked more British than American” and possessed the manners and education of an Englishman. Bishop was “athletically built” and proud of his appearance—Veciana remembered that Bishop’s tie and handkerchief always matched when he wore a suit. Bishop was again about 45 years old in 1960 and 6’ 2” tall and over 200 pounds but now had blue gray eyes and brown hair.

A key difference between Veciana’s HSCA testimony and the composite description given by Fonzi is that he made no mention of the dark areas or sunspots under the eyes that Fonzi found so compelling. When asked about Bishop’s complexion, Veciana said it was “pinkish white” and that he had no “distinguishing” characteristics.17 This contradicts his own earlier claim that Bishop was “very tan” with facial “sunspots.”18 Another interesting fact from Veciana’s HSCA testimony is that he said Bishop did not smoke or drink. But it is well-known that Phillips, who died from lung cancer, did smoke. And in Veciana’s book, he contradicts his HSCA statement when he writes that Bishop was “nursing a martini” at the La Floridita in Havana.19

One reason that theorists may believe Phillips was Bishop is Veciana’s statement from the original interviews with Fonzi that he believed Bishop was a Texan because they met in Dallas even there was “no reason” to do so.20 Of course, the implication is that it was convenient for Phillips to meet Veciana in Texas. Indeed, Waldron and Hartmann, on page 551 of their book Ultimate Sacrifice, write “from Phillips’ perspective” the confab in Dallas “made sense.” But such a meeting makes little sense if you are now stationed and living in Mexico as Phillips was and you might be seen by former friends or relatives from the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Veciana also said that he thought Bishop might be from Texas because he “told him to go to Kail” and Kail once admittedly went to Texas for Christmas.21 But Kail denied knowing Phillips.22

The following table summarizes the numerous discrepancies in Veciana’s various stories regarding Bishop’s appearance and habits:

Attribute The Last Investigation Fonzi Interviews Russell HSCA Trained to Kill
 Age/Met  35 to 45  48 or 49; 45 or a Little Less   45  45  n/a
 Height  6’ to 6’ 2”  6’ 2”  6’ 2”  6’ 2”  n/a
 Weight  200 to 210 lbs.  200-215 lbs.  n/a  Over 200 lbs.  n/a
 Build  n/a  Big Guy  n/a  Athletic  n/a
 Eye Color  n/a  n/a  n/a  Blue-Gray  n/a
 Dark Under Eyes  Yes  n/a  Yes  n/a  n/a
 Complexion  Well-Tanned  Very Tanned  n/a  Pinkish-White  n/a
 Hair  Brown-Gray  Brown-Blondish  n/a  Brown-Chestnut  Neatly Trimmed and Perfectly Combed
 Dress/Manner  n/a  Very elegant, well-dressed  n/a  n/a  Always Dressed Sharply
 Nationality  American  American  n/a  Implied British  Implied American
 Employer  CIA  Private Organization  American Intelligence Service  Private Organization  CIA
 Smoked  n/a  n/a  n/a  No  Yes
 Drank  n/a  n/a  n/a  No  Yes
 Glasses  Later years  Later years  n/a  Later years  n/a
 Spanish  No Accent  Argentinian Dialect  n/a  South American Accent  American Accent

According to the CIA’s Personal Record Questionnaire, Phillips’ book,23 and his passport he was six feet tall not 6’ 2” as most often mentioned by Veciana when describing Bishop and that probably explains why Fonzi’s composite description stated Bishop was 6’ to 6’ 2”. Phillips did have blue eyes but weighed only about 180 pounds and was not “athletically” built as Veciana said Bishop was. And since Phillips was 37 years old in mid-1960, it is obvious why Fonzi listed Bishop’s age as varying from 35 to 45 years instead of the 45 that Veciana most often used or the 48-49 from the first interview. Phillips’ complexion was listed as “fair” rather than “tanned” as Veciana sometimes claimed and he had no distinguishing characteristics such as sunspots. In fact, his general appearance is given as “nondescript.”

Phillips did have dark areas under the eyes later in life but so do many people despite Fonzi’s claim that this is somehow “unusual.” And it is important to note that Veciana did not emphasize this trait as often as Fonzi did. Additionally, although he typically wore a business suit, there is no evidence that Phillips dressed meticulously. In fact, a 1976 Washington Post article described him as a “slightly rumpled chap.”24 Nor is there evidence that Phillips was concerned about his weight as Veciana claimed Bishop was in the original Fonzi interviews.25

As is the case with most “facts” regarding Bishop, Veciana has been inconsistent when describing who it was that Bishop was working for. While Fonzi consistently made the case for Bishop as a CIA man, Veciana was just as likely to claim that Bishop was employed by a private organization that worked with an unknown intelligence agency.26 But in an apparent attempt to try to please his conspiracy-minded inquisitors, Veciana often gave conflicting information on the matter as he did in other instances. In the very first interview with Fonzi, Veciana stated that “from his personal point of view” he believed Bishop “was working for a private organization, not the government …”27 However, in an interview with author Dick Russell just a few months later, Veciana said Bishop told him “he was part of an American intelligence service but instructed him not to ask which one.”28

In his HSCA testimony, Veciana said, "I always had the opinion that Maurice Bishop was working for a private firm and not the government." Later in the same testimony, Veciana modified his position by saying that Bishop was operating at the direction of the federal government as opposed to being in its employ.29 Evidence that Fonzi was aware of Veciana’s belief that Bishop was not CIA comes from a 1977 interview of Veciana by his assistant Al Gonzales. On that occasion, Veciana told Gonzales that he “never said that Bishop was CIA. [Veciana] believes that Bishop was with some sort of [other] intelligence agency or with a powerful interest group.”30 Finally, in an interview for the BBC program Panorama in 1978, Veciana was careful not to characterize Bishop as CIA saying, “I don’t know if he work [sic] for the CIA or if he worked for another intelligence service.” Despite his numerous statements to the contrary over the years, in his 2017 book Veciana claimed that both he and Bishop were full-fledged CIA agents.31

The evidence shows that once Fonzi got his teeth into the concept of Phillips as Bishop, he did not seriously consider other suspects. Fonzi had a preference toward agency-connected individuals like Phillips and George De Mohrenschildt who fit nicely with his pet CIA-did-it assassination beliefs. However, there were three people who crossed Veciana’s path that Fonzi should have investigated as potentially being the mysterious mentor or at least having information that could confirm or deny Veciana’s claims. Intriguingly, all three of these men were associated with Army Intelligence—not the CIA. Although Senator Schweiker himself likely investigated one of these Bishop suspects, there is no indication that Fonzi looked at any of them.

The first suspect is a man named Joe Kent. The initial chronological reference to Kent may be in a fund-raising speech Veciana gave in Puerto Rico in July of 1962. Veciana told the prospective donors that although “his group” was taking precautions to avoid “CIA penetration,” they were nevertheless in contact with the agency through an individual named “Joe.” Kent is first identified definitively the following year when Veciana was seeking a way around a travel ban instituted by JFK in response to exile raids. Shortly after the noon hour on the same day the order was issued, Veciana called Kent to ask his assistance in coming to San Juan.32 Veciana told Fonzi that Kent was, “a tall guy with blue eyes, no more than 35 years [old].”33

Who was Kent? While Veciana may have believed that Kent worked for the CIA (or wanted others to think that), his name instead turns up in Army Intelligence documents just as Veciana’s does. It is possible that “Kent” was a pseudonym for one of the Army ACSI officers that Veciana worked with during this period. It also feasible that Kent was a well-connected ACSI asset in Puerto Rico who was sympathetic to the exile cause. Whatever the truth, Veciana informed Kent that he would be appearing at the “Immigration Headquarters” of the US Immigration and Naturalization Service at 9:00 a.m. the following morning regarding the travel order. Veciana said he would stay by the phone until he heard from Kent.34

Kent is also mentioned in documents first uncovered by researcher Malcolm Blunt which indicate that Veciana was in contact with him by mail. To be fair, Veciana does indicate that Bishop and Kent were separate individuals.35 But given Veciana’s history of playing loose with the facts, this should be taken with a grain of salt. Regardless of Kent’s true role in the Veciana story, he should have been looked at by Fonzi and the HSCA as a possible Bishop suspect since he was a government entity in close contact with Veciana during the important years of 1962 and 1963. There is no indication that this happened, likely because Fonzi consistently sought to minimize Veciana’s provable Army Intelligence connections in favor of his preferred CIA narrative.

The second Bishop suspect who Fonzi should have looked at is Jordon James Pfuntner who served as an intermediary between the “highest echelons” of Alpha 66 and Army Intelligence in October of 1962 according to documents. As a co-founder and public face of Alpha 66, Veciana would certainly fit into that category. In 1997, Newsday published the story of the Veciana-Pfuntner connection after the release of documents by the ARRB. The article argued for the existence of Bishop in the form of the intermediary who was not named. The story said that the newly released material “provides a previously lacking measure of credibility” to the Bishop tale. An unidentified “government official” told the newspaper that “we believe this man fits Bishop’s profile very closely.” Officials also told the paper that because so much time had passed it was unclear whether “anyone can shed additional light on the story.”36

Pfuntner was born in Akron, Ohio and raised on a dairy farm in Coudersport, Pennsylvania. He served in the Marines in World War II in the Pacific theatre and after the war received training as a chemical engineer. By 1978, Pfuntner had moved to Waco, Texas, but in 1960, he indeed appears in Miami representing the Society of Plastics Engineers as a national councilman, perfectly placed to become Veciana’s Army liaison two years later.37 Exactly how Pfuntner and Veciana ultimately came together is unknown. Pfuntner died in 2013 at the age of 88.

The ARRB did at least try to pursue the Pfuntner matter with Fonzi—he was contacted by Manuel Legaspi in 1997. Legaspi reported in an internal memo that he would fax one of the documents about Pfuntner to Fonzi. The former HSCA investigator promised to “run it past” both Veciana and Menoyo and call back with any information that he acquired.38 Unfortunately, that is where the available records reach a dead end. Fonzi did call back but there is no indication of what, if anything, he had to say about Pfuntner.39 Similarly, no private researchers pursued the matter and Pfuntner died before research on this book began. As an individual with a documented role as an intermediary between Veciana and the US government, Pfuntner remains a tantalizing lead for those who believe he could be the ethereal Maurice Bishop.

The final Bishop suspect is Owen Darnell, a Captain in the Merchant Marines who sailed on troop transports during World War II. There is evidence from a credible witness that Darnell knew Veciana and worked with him. And that same witness believed the infamous sketch created by Veciana, Fonzi and his friends at the Church Committee at least resembled Darnell. The primary evidence for Darnell as Bishop comes from the recently released 1976 Church Committee testimony of Lieutenant Milford P. Hubbard of the US Army who used the pseudonym of Patrick Harris. Hubbard, whose story will be told in detail in Chapter 14 of this book, was an Army Intelligence handler for Veciana.

Hubbard was questioned during his Church Committee testimony by Senator Schweiker who asked the former Army man who the Bishop sketch looked like. Hubbard volunteered the following thoughts:40

… with some changes, this could be Owen Darnell. He was a beached Captain representing Lykes Steamship Line Puerto Rico … he was a bona fide ship’s Captain, but he was on the beach … he was a source of mine. As I recall, he was born in 1908 in Colorado.

According to Darnell’s obituary, Hubbard had the year of birth wrong, but Darnell was indeed born in Colorado, and was a ship’s captain who worked for Lykes. Hubbard continued:

The jaw is too square, but across the eyes yes sir. I am not saying that it is [Darnell] but that is the only one I can come up with … he was spotting and accessing for me.

The questioning continued:

Schweiker: Might he have some dealings with Alpha 66 or Veciana?
Hubbard: When Veciana would come to Puerto Rico, he would definitely contact Darnell. I think that he stayed at Darnell’s on occasion. That I cannot say for sure, but my belief is he did.

After determining that Darnell did not use an alias, Schweiker asked Hubbard what a spotter was:

Hubbard: … the people in the field get a requirement that has been generated at the national level … it gets down to the field. We take it and say ... who has got access, who can get it? Well, most of us have spotters … we have recruited them because of their involvement in community activities … Darnell because he was very pro-American, very anti-Castro, quite vocal on it in Puerto Rico because he had a Cuban wife. I broached him cold and said, hey look, I represent US Intelligence. With your connections I might have occasion to call on you … he signed a secrecy agreement, the whole works, and was quite proud of his periphery involvement. He is the one that put me in contact with the second front [SNFE] …

Later in the testimony, Hubbard confirmed a key detail about Darnell:

Schweiker: Did he speak Spanish?
Hubbard: Yes, fluently.

Later, more details about Darnell emerged:

Johnston: How tall is he?
Hubbard: Darnell and I were approximately the same height and build.
Schweiker: Your height is about what?
Hubbard: About 6’ 1”.
Johnston: Was Darnell … athletic looking?
Hubbard: On the lean side, yes.

It is obvious that the general description of Darnell provided by Hubbard fits Bishop. Additionally, the photo accompanying Darnell’s obituary shows the same swept back hair style as in the sketch. By contrast, Phillips combed his hair to the side and it often fell on his forehead. Could Darnell have been Bishop?

According to Hubbard's SSCI testimony, assets of the Army Chief of Staff for Intelligence (ASCI) station in San Juan used the designation DUP followed by a number for identification. One of the documents cited previously comments on assets of the San Juan station using the codes DUP 737 and DUP 739. Both individuals were “spotter-recruiters” who “volunteered information concerning the activities of Alpha 66.” However, DUP 737 was a “US insurance man located in San Juan” while DUP 739 was a “Cuban exile who works in the same insurance company as DUP 737.”41 Since Darnell was not a Cuban exile and his obituary says he retired as a “corporate level manager” with Lykes, it is doubtful that he held either DUP.

Evidently, Schweiker followed up on the Darnell lead. A document generated just 10 days after Hubbard’s testimony reports that Darnell’s file was permanently destroyed in 1971. It also states that Darnell was considered for use as a “source lead” prior to 1965 but was “never used as a source.” Whether he had a DUP crypt or not, Darnell must have at least been used as an informal local source of information for Hubbard and Army Intelligence. Hubbard remembered that he was able to contact SNFE through Darnell, a fact he could be expected to recall accurately. And Darnell, who resembled Bishop, spoke fluent Spanish and was sympathetic to the anti-Castro cause. Additionally, he may have allowed Veciana to stay in his home. Whether Darnell was Bishop or not, Fonzi should have at least pursued him as a source of information on Veciana but there is no evidence he did. Instead, he continued his single-minded quest to prove that Bishop was David Phillips despite Veciana’s repeated denials.

There is additional evidence beyond the three Bishop suspects associated with Army Intelligence that shows Fonzi was aware of Veciana’s connection with that agency and ultimately chose to overlook it. In 1979, the CIA’s Scott Breckinridge wrote to G. Robert Blakey, who was chief consul for the HSCA, regarding that agency’s draft report. Breckinridge told Blakey, “I must confess that we find it odd that the attempt continues to build the appearance of a tie between CIA and Veciana through Bishop. You know that Veciana was an asset of another US government agency and not of CIA.”

Although Blakey did not name the agency Veciana was “an asset of,” it could only be the Army. Fonzi complained in his book that the HSCA had “pursued the Army Intelligence angle up until the end” and also referred to what he called the CIA’s “misdirection” after the agency informed the committee that Veciana and Alpha 66 were monitored by the Army rather than the CIA.42 But Fonzi’s protestations were disingenuous. Not only was Fonzi aware of solid evidence that showed that Veciana was associated with Army Intelligence, but he had at least briefly entertained the possibility that Bishop was with that agency rather than the CIA according to a document he authored.

A document I obtained from the National Archives shows that on December 12, 1977, Fonzi sent a memo to Blakey detailing a conversation that he had at Langley with Doug Cummins who served for a time as the CIA’s liaison with the HSCA.43 Fonzi asked Cummins why there were two redacted lines after a “report of Veciana going to La Paz as an employee of AID from 1968-1972.” Cummins told Fonzi that he did not know why but he would check. Cummins left the room for a short time and when he returned, he explained to Fonzi that the reason for the deletion was because “the source of that information was another intelligence agency.” Fonzi asked what the agency was and Cummins replied that since Fonzi had worked with Schweiker he “probably knew.” Fonzi admitted that he likely knew what agency it was but asked Cummins to double check.44 After leaving the room for a second time, Cummins returned and stated, “Army Intelligence.”

Fonzi continued his interrogation of Cummins by making a logical inquiry. “Can I assume then, that it was Army Intelligence which was monitoring Veciana’s activities all along?” the investigator asked. Cummins replied that Army Intelligence “had Veciana registered as an operative from early in 1960" [since it was actually 1962, Cummins may have said "early sixties"]. Fonzi noted to Blakey that the 1960 date “jibes with Veciana’s statement that Maurice Bishop, who appeared to be his case officer, first approached him in 1960.” Cummins told Fonzi that he should go to the Army files for more information on Veciana’s association with that agency. It is likely that Fonzi did just that but despite the evidence pointing away from the CIA and toward the Army, he ultimately promoted the CIA angle because he fell in love with the idea of David Phillips as Maurice Bishop.

Go to Chapter 7
The Bishop Hoax: Table of Contents


1. Fonzi, The Last Investigation, 153.
2. Fonzi, The Last Investigation, 332.
3. Memorandum from Fonzi to Blakey, July 24, 1978, 4. RIF 180-10072-10179.
4. HSCA X, paragraph 190. Hidalgo did say in his HSCA Testinony that he did not recognize the sketch, but Fonzi would have been aware of Hidalgo’s later tentative identification of Galbraith.
5. The JMWAVE CIA station was a massive operation headquartered near the University of Miami that focused on anti-Castro activities. At one time it was the world’s largest CIA station outside of Langley and employed approximately 400 individuals (Bohning, The Castro Obsession, 84).
6. Those individuals are: Fonzi, Schweiker, Phillips, Samuel Kail, James Cogswell, Barney Hidalgo, Max Lesnik, William Kent, Bradley Ayers, Manolo Ray Rivero, Guy Vitale, John Roselli, Joseph Burkholder Smith and Milford Hubbard (Patrick Harris). For sources see https://wtracyparnell.blogspot.com/2020/01/the-bishop-sketch-who-did-it-look-like.html. Note that Edwin Phillips and his office personnel are not included on the list since they were told the sketch looked like David while the other individuals were shown the sketch and asked who it looked like.
7. Fonzi, The Last Investigation, 310.
8. HSCA Memo from Fonzi to G. Robert Blakey, May 8, 1978, 6. RIF 180-10070-10404. Smith’s identification of the Bishop sketch as Phillips is tainted by the fact that according to Fonzi’s memo of the interview, he and Smith had been discussing Phillips just prior to Smith looking at the sketch.
9. Fonzi, The Last Investigation, 314-15.
10. In his lawsuit against Fonzi, Phillips referred to this as an “identification mechanism.”
11. Fonzi, The Last Investigation, 158-160.
12. Fonzi, The Last Investigation, 161.
13. Another argument against Fonzi’s theory that Bishop used a disguise is the sketch of Bishop that was eventually developed. Schweiker and Fonzi thought it looked like David Phillips. But if Bishop used a disguise, the sketch would only represent what the ethereal mentor looked like when using such concealment. Does this mean that Fonzi believed that when Bishop was disguised he looked like Phillips? Also, disguises normally involve wigs and fake beards or mustaches and the Bishop sketch shows a clean-shaven man with short hair. Finally, as mentioned, if Fonzi believes that Bishop only used disguises part of the time why did Veciana never mention this?
14. Fonzi, The Last Investigation, 152.
15. Fonzi-Veciana II.
16. Russell, On the Trail of the JFK Assassins, 148.
17. HSCA Executive Session Testimony of Antonio Veciana, April 26, 1978, 66. RIF 180-10118-10145.
18. Fonzi-Veciana II.
19. Veciana with Harrison, Trained to Kill, 42.
20. Fonzi-Veciana II, 5.
21. Fonzi-Veciana III, 6.
22. Fonzi, The Last Investigation, 312.
23. David Atlee Phillips, CIA Personal Record Questionnaire, obtained from The Black Vault; Phillips, The Night Watch, 98.
24. Jean M. White, “Intelligence Gathering: Insiders Meet on the Outside.” The Washington Post, September 18, 1976, 1.
25. The award for the most fanciful description of Bishop outside of Trained to Kill goes to Warren Hinckle and William Turner who evidently believed that the ethereal Bishop was responsible for the Cuban Missile Crisis. On page 172 of their book, Deadly Secrets, they describe Bishop as having “deep lines across a high forehead” and say he was “soft spoken and fancied Miami-style sportswear.” He was also “fluent in French and carried a bogus Belgian passport.” According to the authors, Bishop was the “case officer for ALPHA-66,” even though that organization was associated with Army Intelligence rather than the agency. Additionally, they maintain that Bishop acted “impulsively in furtherance of his political convictions which were main-line Ayn Rand” and claim that he “directed his exile troops in a private war against the Russians in Cuba.” Finally, they allege that Bishop’s war “came close to precipitating a US-Soviet military showdown.” Not surprisingly, Hinckle and Turner offer no support for these assertions.
26. It turns out that Veciana did know a Mr. Bishop. Far from being a CIA handler, this Bishop was an attorney from Orlando who was present at a meeting between SNFE representatives and Elliot Roosevelt, son of FDR. The SNFE people were trying to convince Roosevelt to speak to LBJ on their behalf.
27. Fonzi-Veciana I, 4.
28. Russell, On the Trail of the JFK Assassins, 148.
29. HSCA Executive Session Testimony of Antonio Veciana, April 26, 1978, 71. RIF 180-10118-10145.
30. HSCA Memo from Al Gonzales to Cliff Fenton, August 25, 1977 (retrieved from the website of Larry Hancock).
31. For example, as late as 2007 Veciana told Edmundo Garcia that he was a “CIA collaborator” rather than an agent (Veciana interview with Edmundo Garcia, WQBA Radio, June 19, 2007).
32. Letter from Grover King to ACSI/DA Washington, March 31, 1963. RIF 194-10003-10388.
33. RIF 180-10104-10406.
34. Letter from Grover King to ACSI/DA Washington, March 31, 1963. RIF 194-10003-10388. See Chapter 14 for more on Veciana’s relationship with Army Intelligence.
35. RIF 180-10104-10406.
36. Newsday, “Document Backs JFK Conspiracy Scenario.” Hartford Courant, November 27, 1997, 84.
37. The Miami News, February 5, 1960, 8.
38. ARRB memo from Manuel Legaspi to Douglas Horne et. al. November 19, 1997.
39. ARRB memo from Manuel Legaspi to Tom Samoluk December 15, 1997.
40. All quotes in this section come from the Church Committee Testimony of Milford Paul Hubbard, May 10, 1976. RIF 157-10014-10084.
41. Disposition Form from Major Swafford to CO/USAOSD, October 15, 1962. RIF 194-10012-10040.
42. Fonzi, The Last Investigation, 147-148.
43. HSCA Memo from Gaeton Fonzi to G. Robert Blakey, December 12, 1977. RIF 180-10117-10262.
44. This exchange with Cummins shows Fonzi admitting that he was aware of the evidence of Veciana’s Army Intelligence involvement as far back as 1976 when he was working with Schweiker.


  1. An especially interesting chapter! Lots of things here new to me. I did not know, for instance, that Phillips sued Fonzi and Washington Monthly. He lost that one, yet won a verdict against Freed and Landis and their book on the Letelier murder. Wonder what the diff wss?

    1. Thanks, Robert, for your comment. Phillips lost to Fonzi because by the time of that lawsuit the judge determined that Phillips was a public figure due to his work for the AFIO and other public appearances. The burden of proof in a legal action is greater for a public figure.


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