Wiretapping in Mexico City, Double Agents, and the Framing of Lee Oswald
by Bill Simpich
Chapter 3: The Cuban Compound in Mexico City Was Ground Zero
Bobby Kennedy had the CIA focused on covert actions directed at Cuba throughout his brother’s presidency. Both of the Kennedys wanted some kind of resolution to the continuing drama. After the Cuban missile crisis, a major disconnect emerged between what the Kennedys wanted and what the CIA’s Miami station wanted. This disconnect set the stage for the day when a man called Oswald visited the Soviet and Cuban consulates in Mexico City during late September of 1963.
During this chapter, the spotlight will slowly shift to the Cuban compound in Mexico City and the role of the CIA’s Mexico City station, which had a close relationship with the Miami station in the war on Cuba. The Cuba compound contained both the Cuban embassy and the consulate where travelers obtained their visas. Win Scott, the Mexico City station chief, reported on their Cuban compound operations in early 1963: “We intercept their mail, photograph all people who go in and out of the Embassy, cover their telephones completely, and within a few hours of the conversations have resumes of all the telephone calls. We cover their trash, and this has been found to be useful.”
It should not be much of a surprise that CIA reports on the Cuban compound in Mexico City during 1963 are repeatedly sent to Harvey’s people. Harvey had a long history as the CIA’s wiretap czar, and the phones and movements of Cuban government employees in the Mexican capital were monitored on a daily basis. Harvey’s confidant Anita Potocki and her colleagues wrote few reports while they quietly watched Cuban press secretary Teresa Proenza, UN ambassador Carlos Lechuga, and Lechuga’s mistress Silvia Duran. These incidents and these confidants merit close scrutiny. Duran and Proenza, who had a long mutual history of working for Cuba-Mexico friendship, suddenly had bulls-eyes on their backs while working at the Cuban compound in Mexico City.[ 1 ] The espionage surrounding the Cuban compound was intense. It was ground zero.
The Kennedys had Bill Harvey removed as chief of Cuban affairs
Bill Harvey at the CIA and Edward Lansdale at Defense had been working throughout 1962 on Operation Mongoose, a plan to overthrow Castro that was run right out of Bobby Kennedy’s office. Harvey and Bobby Kennedy worked very closely during this period, with the two men even sharing CIA officer Charley Ford as a key aide.[ 2 ] Harvey would tell Ford to pass certain information on to RFK because he didn’t want to do it himself. Harvey increasingly started referring to Bobby as “that fucker”.[ 3 ] Nor was Harvey reluctant to taunt Bobby when they were face to face. CIA exec Sam Halpern thought it was hilarious. “We heard that Bobby said to Harvey 'I could train agents at my house in Virginia!’ And Harvey retorted 'as baby-sitters?’”[ 4 ]
Harvey lost his job as head of Cuban operations after a blowout with Kennedy during the Cuban missile crisis. Bobby had recently advised the CIA that JFK was unhappy with Mongoose’s progress, and that he wanted to meet with Harvey, Lansdale and company every day at 9:30 am. At roughly the same time, Harvey had secretly inserted commando teams AMTORRID and COBRA into Cuba with orders to blow up key facilities and conduct intelligence. A recall order was issued by the White House during the height of the crisis, but some of Harvey’s men were unreachable. RFK had a famous face-off with Harvey, where he demanded a short explanation for Harvey’s actions. When Harvey couldn’t meet Bobby’s time limit and kept talking, RFK walked out of the meeting.
Operation Mongoose was over. Harvey’s Task Force W was dismantled and reorganized. Desmond FitzGerald stepped in to provide new leadership to the Cuban division at Headquarters, renamed as the Special Affairs Staff (SAS). Harvey stepped down as chief of Staff D, but continued to work in the top-secret wiretap office at CIA Headquarters. Harvey was also still running the ZRRIFLE program – when his people weren’t planning for assassinations, they “rifled” through foreign embassies in the middle of the night, cracking safes for codes and ciphers so that the National Security Agency could decipher encrypted communications and listen in on conversations around the world.[ 5 ] A finance officer reminded Harvey that no files were kept on ZRRIFLE. The burglars given this license to steal were known as the Second-Story Men.[ 6 ]
In the middle of all this, Harvey remained trapped in limbo for eight months, disgraced in the Langley basement, while his bosses tried to figure out what to do with him. After much hesitation, he was finally reassigned in March and shipped off to Rome in June as the new Chief of Station. Ironically, this put him even closer to many of his Sicilian and Corsican friends in the gangster underworld. Many of his colleagues were angry.
Years later, Harvey said that he detested Robert Kennedy and resented his boss Richard Helms and FitzGerald. A member of the Special Group Augmented (the planning group for MONGOOSE), said that Harvey “hated Bobby Kennedy’s guts with a purple passion”. He added that “some attributed the appointment (to Rome) to a desire to get Harvey out of the country as soon as possible, never mind where…he would never again be allowed near an operation in which the brothers Kennedy were likely to have an interest.”
Ed Lopez, a lead researcher of the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA), wrote that the committee considered Harvey to be a “possible suspect” in the assassination because of his “known hatred of the Kennedys”. Ted Shackley, one of Harvey’s people from back in the Berlin days, had been working alongside Harvey throughout 1962 as the new chief of the JMWAVE station in Miami. Shackley said that Harvey never recovered from being fired. Harvey’s prodigious drinking of five martinis at lunchtime began to surface as a serious and visible problem.[ 7 ]
Harvey’s people were watching Teresa Proenza, Silvia Duran, & Carlos Lechuga at the beginning of 1963 in efforts to split the Castro regime
As he shed his responsibilities at Headquarters, Harvey wrote a telling memo on the importance of penetrating Castro’s leadership if there was going to be any realistic chance of splitting the regime. Harvey’s distrust of the Kennedys was clear. He didn’t believe that they were willing to commit to the military force it would take to overthrow Castro. Harvey complained that since a no-invasion deal had been cut with the Soviets in order to end the Cuban missile crisis, there could no longer be a "pretext of a contrived provocation" at Guantanamo. To put it in English, Harvey and others had seriously considered launching a false-flag attack on the US base in Guantanamo and using that provocation as the basis to take over Cuba. Even Bobby Kennedy had considered the idea during the Cuban missile crisis.[ 8 ] George McManus, the executive assistant to the CIA director, said that Bobby Kennedy, General Maxwell Taylor and other policy makers reviewed MONGOOSE and agreed that they would avoid a military intervention.[ 9 ] When asked in a general way about McManus’ statement, Harvey agreed that the “policy makers” took that position.
On the other hand, when one of Castro’s double agents entered the country, Harvey treated him with kid gloves. Other CIA officers were not so careful. During December 1962, Cuban housing leader Jose Ricardo Rabel stole an airplane from an agricultural agency and defected to the USA. Rabel had been running the peasant housing program Viviendas Campesinas for the past three years. Harvey knew that Rabel was preparing to defect.
Rabel was debriefed for some time. He had grown up with Fidel. He said he was now being hounded by the Cuban Communist Party. Rabel’s predecessor at the housing program was Eusebio Azcue, a famous architect and the Cuban consul.
Just weeks after Rabel’s defection, Harvey proposed that Mexico City make a play to recruit the Cuban consul Eusebio Azcue. Such a bold move, if successful, would reveal a great deal about the inner workings of Castro’s leadership team. In the days following the Azcue memo, there was an explosion of activity led by two Harvey confidants from their days in Berlin, Neill Prew and Anita Potocki. Prew was a man of action, described by Harvey’s biographer as “recruit(ing) agents in the Cuban community, ran raids, and landed men in Cuba”. Despite his background, Prew was not enamored of the situation in Miami: “Bill and Shackley tried to bring (Berlin) people to JMWAVE because they trusted them…but our people were scared shitless of Shackley, because he simply went too far. I thought the whole thing was an exercise in treading water by a bunch of jerks.”[ 10 ]
Potocki explored ways to use Cuban cultural attaché Teresa Proenza to split the Castro regime. Proenza was a respected figure who came to Mexico as a political refugee from Cuba in 1934, after a bomb detonated in her home and the police accused her family of manufacturing explosives. Proenza had worked at the Cuban embassy in Mexico City since Castro took power. Azcue had worked for Proenza in the past as a bodyguard on loan from Cuban intelligence. She had many contacts in the arts and entertainment world, as well as a long history as a foreign correspondent for the Overseas News Agency covering the Spanish Civil War and World War II.
Teresa Proenza with Frida Kahlo, 1952
Potocki hoped to recruit this veteran Communist Party journalist, despite extensive warnings that success seemed highly unlikely. Before the Cuban Revolution, Proenza made herself many enemies in certain quarters as the secretary to famed muralist Diego Rivera and as a friend of Frida Kahlo for many years, including during Kahlo’s final days at Blue House.[ 11 ] CIA memos noted Proenza’s assignment to the Cuban embassy as early as 1960.[ 12 ]
Nonetheless, if their efforts to win over Proenza didn’t work out, they could still go after Azcue as a second prize. A memo during January 1963 shows three officers watching Silvia Duran very carefully during her affair with Cuba’s UN Ambassador Carlos Lechuga.[ 13 ] The officers were Prew, Potocki, and Lou De Santi, a counterintelligence officer working the Cuban beat with Potocki at Langley. The story, true or not, was that officers of the Cuban embassy had convinced Duran and another woman to influence Lechuga. Harvey’s people and the FBI thought they had convinced Mrs. Lechuga to defect, but that effort ultimately failed. Prew, Potocki and De Santi were copied on numerous memos in the following weeks as they monitored Proenza and other key officers working at the Cuban embassy.[ 14 ]
There was a political reason to make Silvia Duran look bad. It was well known among certain circles throughout 1963 that Duran had been not only Lechuga’s secretary, but also his paramour. It was reported in February 1963 that Lechuga had offered to marry Duran. The records show that Duran’s sister-in-law Lydia was a CIA agent, although the records I see don’t show her being used since 1959. Given indications that the CIA unsuccessfully tried to recruit Silvia, if Lydia was used at all in the sixties, it was to report on Silvia. Proenza convinced Duran to resign from her post at their Cuba-Mexico solidarity group “for the good of the revolution”.
AMTRUNK was organized by critics of the CIA
Ironically, Bobby agreed with Harvey about the importance of splitting the Castro regime, although my reading of the documents does not convince me that RFK was willing to use assassination as a way to get it done. A quick look at how the Kennedys tried to organize an internal coup reveals that Bobby had no idea how to put together a secure operation. In a context where Cuban exiles were talking openly about their plans and continuously subdividing into smaller fiefdoms rather than working together, the situation was already an intelligence nightmare. Having Bobby Kennedy come down to Miami and tell the JMWAVE officers how to do their job was a disaster. Kennedy’s conduct drove CIA professionals like Harvey or Morales just crazy.
Jack and Bobby Kennedy
At the beginning of 1963, with Harvey out of power, the Kennedys decided on their own plan to depose Castro by recruiting some of his key leaders and staging a coup d’etat. AMTRUNK was not your usual CIA operation. The leaders of AMTRUNK were critics of the CIA. AMTRUNK was born inside the State Department, run by the Army, and the CIA’s Cuban division was pretty much being forced to go along for the ride.
A principal initiator of the AMTRUNK operation was New York Times reporter and Kennedy confidant Tad Szulc, best known for his writings on national security issues. JFK once asked Szulc his opinion on assassination, and was pleased when Szulc told him what a bad idea it was.[ 15 ] Szulc was a fine journalist and an excellent analyst, but needed some first-rate support to put together an operation of this magnitude. He didn’t get it. Harvey’s colleague David Morales made sure to attend one of the very first meetings in February 1963. I have seen no indication that Morales ever came back to a second meeting, and AMTRUNK never had enough skilled and trustworthy hands in Miami to get anywhere near its objective.
The American who did much of the day-to-day work with JURE was Jorge Volsky of the USIA, the State Department agency for public relations. Szulc admired Volsky’s knowledge of Cuba and called him “our man in Havana” even though Volsky lived in Miami. Both men were journalists and had great rapport.
Szulc and Volsky worked with JURE (Junta Revolucionaria Cabana), a left-wing Cuban exile group that had a special place in the heart of the Kennedys. Bobby told Miro Cardona, perhaps a more popular leader among Cuban exiles, that he believed in JURE’s leader, as one who could direct the anti-Castro movement from within Cuba itself. Bobby’s statement caused consternation within the CIA and was the first step that resulted with Cardona breaking relations with the White House.
The JURE leader, Manolo Ray, was trained as a civil engineer at the University of Utah. His skills came in handy as a saboteur in bringing down Batista’s government. JURE was also well to the left of most of the anti-Castro groups in Miami. Ray frequently said that he believed in “Fidelismo without Fidel”. Ray’s other famous quote was that CIA agents “were more dangerous than the Kennedy Administration… the Kennedy Administration would end but CIA agents always stayed, and their memory was longer than elephants and they never forgot or forgave.”
On March 30, 1963, the Administration barred Cuban exile groups from launching attacks on Cuba from the United States. But JURE and the more conservative MRR (Movimiento de Recuperacion Revolucionaria) headed by Manuel Artime were assured that Customs would cut them some slack when heading towards a raid on Cuba. Both groups were known within policy circles as “autonomous operations”, which meant that the US government would offer them protections, but would deny any participation in a group’s activities if there was media exposure or enemy capture.
The CIA worked with two types of groups in the Cuban conflict – unilateral teams like Artime’s that were CIA-trained, and political groups like JURE that simply relied on the CIA for supplies. The CIA had little control over these political groups. Jim Hosty of the FBI told an interviewer: “(JURE) was the group they were going to use when they were going to overthrow Castro…the Customs men were going after the ones who weren’t part of that operation. Customs was working with JURE.”[ 16 ].
As AMTRUNK got underway, JURE had its intelligence unit spy on the CIA. Special officer Alfonso Rodriguez already had his ace agent AMTAUP-2 (Ernesto Alanis Angulo) in place, providing dozens of reports on JURE to the Cuba division.[ 17 ] As soon as the Administration’s March admonition was issued, JURE began a program designed to infiltrate other Cuban exile groups and other US governmental agencies. This made it inevitable that others would do the same to JURE. Morales’ paramilitary colleague and close ally Tony Sforza, using his aforementioned Henry Sloman pseudonym, wrote a number of AMOT field reports on JURE for the JMWAVE chiefs throughout 1963.
An insecure AMTRUNK operation was forced on an unwilling Miami station
A better cryptonym for AMTRUNK would have been Operation Mickey Mouse. A very insecure AMTRUNK operation that relied on JURE was forced upon a very unwilling Miami station.[ 18 ] Chief Ted Shackley’s attempts to terminate AMTRUNK in April due to lack of control over Szulc and Volsky were futile. Despite Shackley’s warning that Volsky will “go behind the CIA’s back” to his colleagues, the State Department, or even JFK, Shackley’s boss Desmond FitzGerald at CIA Headquarters was in favor of the AMTRUNK operation. FitzGerald, allegedly a distant white-shoe relative of the Kennedys, got along with Bobby despite the terrible problems that came with the territory. Miro Cardona was so frustrated with Bobby Kennedy that he resigned from his position as an exile leader.
Manolo Ray of JURE and Cuban defector Jose Ricardo Rabel (AMLEO-3) were key forces within AMTRUNK, even though it was supposed to be CIA-controlled.[ 19 ] The would-be defector Rolando Cubela also came back into view as discussions began about finding him a role within AMTRUNK. On May 16, 1963, a memo indicated that the Agency was getting ready to use Cubela to reach out to other Cuban leaders.[ 20 ]
CIA officials saw JURE as pro-JFK, anti-CIA, and trying to penetrate JMWAVE’s operations. Many top Agency officials saw AMTRUNK as not only a very insecure operation, but also recklessly exposing their employees and assets to death and injury. Those suspicions were justified.
Ironically, many of the leaders of JURE were also CIA informants. They believed they had to work all corners of the plate in order to stay in the game. Two of these informants were JURE chief Manolo Ray and Ray’s #2 man Rogelio Cisneros.[ 21 ]
During June 1963, the Joint Chiefs approve plans for an internal coup in Cuba
The top officers at Headquarters’ Special Affairs Staff (SAS) and at JMWAVE generally assumed that Castro’s assassination was necessary for the internal coup to be successful. In May 1963, the CIA’s Office of National Estimates evaluated what would happen if Castro was killed, and concluded that the gains could be heightened if a conflict broke out between the Cuban nationalists and the Moscow-line Communists shortly after his assassination. FitzGerald got a note from the psychological warfare chief that this is the “long-awaited memo on Castro death contingency”.[ 22 ] The plan for an “internal coup” was finally proposed by the CIA to the Joint Chiefs in June 1963, saying that “several promising operations are already underway”, and received JFK’s approval on June 19.[ 23 ] We do know that the Kennedys were deeply involved in AMTRUNK and AMWORLD (a plan to foment an internal uprising, followed by small landings by Cuban exiles launched from Nicaragua and Costa Rica). We don’t know, however, if the Kennedys knew anything about AMROD (falsely branding Moscow-liners as CIA agents), AMLASH (Cubela as assassin), and the ZR-RIFLE assassination efforts of Harvey, Morales and Roselli.
AMTRUNK’s plans for an internal coup was now blended with military plans for infiltration and sabotage aimed at oil refineries, electrical plants, and the transportation and manufacturing infrastructures. Cuban installations that had been owned by American companies before Castro took over were no longer off-limits. When former CIA director Richard Helms testified before the Senate in 1978, he said, “We had task forces that were striking at Cuba constantly. We were attempting to blow up power plants. We were attempting to ruin sugar mills. We were attempting to do all kinds of things in this period. This was a matter of American government policy. This wasn’t the CIA alone.”
The other Kennedy plan was a paramilitary program known as AMWORLD. My colleague Larry Hancock summarized it so well in a quick note that I will offer it here. “In order to ensure some amount of ongoing pressure against the Castro regime, and still overtly honor its missile crisis agreement with the Soviets, Robert Kennedy and his advisers endorsed a covert support program for selected exile groups.
“In practice, the effort centered on a group headed by Manuel Artime. The small, highly compartmentalized CIA project which funded and provided deniable logistical support for Artime was designated as AMWORLD. It was hoped that Artime’s paramilitary activities, conducted entirely away from American shores, would maintain the image of an active anti-Castro insurgency. It could be brought into the mix if other efforts to stimulate an internal coup against Castro proved successful. The effort was a mixture of psychological warfare and limited paramilitary action.”
This separate effort to overthrow Castro had the added benefit of coaxing exiles to leave the US mainland for the AMWORLD training camps. The leaders of this effort were MRR chief Manuel Artime and Harry Ruiz-Williams, with CIA veteran Harry Hecksher as the main case officer. Morales had “recruited, safehoused, and exfiltrated (Artime) black" in Havana in 1959 -- “black” meaning that it was done secretly and illegally, and “exfiltrated” meaning that Morales used clandestine means to get Artime out of Cuba and into the United States. Artime was seen as loyal to the Agency, an asset in the mercurial world of Cuban exiles.[ 24 ] The plan to create this junta in exile was not a well-kept secret. Associated Press ran a story on this junta as early as May 1963.[ 25 ] Morales, Shackley, and Hecksher (using his pseudonym “Nelson L. Raynock”) got together with Artime to plan AMWORLD on June 23, 1963.[ 26 ] The bilingual Bernard Barker, best known as one of the Watergate burglars, was to serve as AMWORLD’s principal, taking on “important and investigative duties…He will be in charge of a Cuban underground organization, managing and directing its political and paramilitary effectiveness.”[ 27 ]
In an interview, SAS case officer Nestor Sanchez said that FitzGerald had divided Cuba responsibility between “internal” and “external” operations. In other words, Sanchez had the “internal” assignment for AMTRUNK and Cubela. Henry Hecksher had the “external” assignment, which meant AMWORLD and Artime.[ 28 ] Whether defined as an internal or external assignment, it is clear that SAS special officer Alfonso Rodriguez was given the duty to watch over Manuel Ray and JURE. Another way to look at it is that Hecksher and Rodriguez watched over the autonomous operations of Artime and Ray, while Sanchez largely ignored the Kennedys’ pet assignment AMTRUNK but focused on the demon seed within – Rolando Cubela.
Matters went from bad to worse when FitzGerald allowed the would-be defector Rolando Cubela to be run out of Langley as an essential AMTRUNK member in the summer of 1963. Bill Harvey would never have allowed such a thing to happen. The odds are high that Cubela was merrily reporting to Castro all of the CIA’s plans on how to infiltrate his inner sanctum, and was used as a provocation agent against the CIA.[ 29 ] A 1973 CIA watchlist described Cubela as “DGI” – Cuban intelligence.
Harvey had been thinking along another path, having concluded that the only way to gain power was by a muscular internal coup because the Kennedys had decided that there would be no invasion organized from the mainland. One of the key tools needed for such a coup was “maximum intelligence and counterintelligence.”[ 30 ] After Harvey’s Task Force W transmuted into FitzGerald’s Special Affairs Section (SAS) in early 1963, FitzGerald agreed with Harvey’s assessment.[ 31 ]
A memo entitled “Efforts to Split the Regime” was almost certainly written by Harvey. The focus of the memo is on the “loci of power”, a phrase seen in other Harvey memos. “Efforts to Split the Regime” outlined the power groups in Cuba, and listed the defectors, possible recruits, and failed recruits. These defections were aided and abetted by the CIA’s political and psychological staff known as KUWOLF. The CIA Inspector General wrote that “a major objective of station operations is the recruitment of personnel in the Cuban Embassy.”[ 32 ] The Inspector General also wrote that at least twenty Cuban embassy personnel were believed to be Cuban intelligence officers. “Efforts to Split the Regime” recounts that as of 1962, eleven Cuban officials had defected since the revolution, mostly from the Cuban embassy in Mexico City, but they weren’t sure whether Rolando Cubela was really a defector or not.[ 33 ]
As the number four man in the Cuban hierarchy, Rolando Cubela was highly prized by the Agency. Cubela had assassinated Cuba’s intelligence chief during the Batista years. During 1963, Cubela was invited by Fidel to stay at a beach house right next to his own. A well-placed long-range rifle shot would provide Cubela with the chance to do the deed and escape with his life.
Another gunman debriefed for his knowledge of Cuban officials during the height of the AMLASH operation was Herminio Diaz Garcia. Like Cubela, Diaz was a hitman. He had assassinated Cuban secret police chief Rogelio Hernandez Vega in 1948 and then escaped from Mexico with the aid of the painter Diego Rivera. Diaz was the head of security at the Havana Riviera hotel from 1959 to 1960 and was then apparently demoted to cashier. He was also held in custody for 80 days in the aftermath of the Bay of Pigs, like many other dissidents. He left Cuba in June 1963, and was interviewed by the AMLEPTON team in September. It is described as a “JMWAVE/KUDESK station asset” – which I interpret as a group of counterintelligence specialists with JMWAVE, maybe AMOTs, maybe not - locating, investigating and surveilling persons of interest in Miami. The goal was to spot refugees in Miami “who can serve as intermediaries to reach and ultimately recruit” in Cuba for counterintelligence purposes. AMLEPTON conducted surveillance and were available for hire by other CIA divisions. I have found AMLEPTON reports for September and December, but the reports for October and November have not turned up.
Author Anthony Summers has a witness, an old friend of Diaz, who states that Diaz admitted that he was part of the JFK assassination. All I can say is that Diaz had access to many sensitive people, that he traveled in narcotics circles between Miami and New York City, and that he frequently visited a local Mexican police chief. This fits the description given of Diaz as “a daring person”. The story is that Diaz was killed in Cuban waters years later while on a mission to assassinate Castro.
Earlier, during Harvey’s time at the Cuban desk in 1962, it had been determined by the Cuban division counterintelligence chief Harold Swenson that Cubela was too much of a security risk to be trusted. It was obvious that Cubela could easily be a double agent for Castro. Cubela was put on ice, and Harvey kept him at arm’s length. However, right after Harvey’s departure for the Rome station in June 1963, Cubela was brought into the fold. FitzGerald and Cubela’s case officer Nestor Sanchez gave the wannabe Castro assassin the benefit of the doubt.
AMTRUNK became even more troubled when recent defector Jose Ricardo Rabel was brought in to help identify likely Cuban leaders that would turn against Castro. Even the CIA admitted years later that Rabel was “possibly" planted into the US by Castro himself. Cubela’s friend Ramon Guin was brought into the planning group as AMTRUNK-10. Rabel (cryptonym AMLEO-3) provided the lead that led to the recruitment of Guin.[ 34 ]
Guin, who had been planning to assassinate Castro since 1961, was yet another insecure addition to the AMTRUNK team. Guin was approved to be the principal recruiter within high level Cuban military ranks in 1963, despite distrust within CIA counter-intelligence.[ 35 ] Rabel was eventually captured by the Cubans and given a 30 year sentence but only served two years. Between Cubela and Rabel, Fidel Castro might as well have been camping out in the Langley basement.
Although Bill Harvey may have used a lead from Rabel to probe Azcue, Harvey was a stickler for security. Harvey claimed that he was always worried that Castro agents had penetrated his assassination plans. Harvey would never have let Rabel or Cubela anywhere near any program as sensitive as AMTRUNK. Did Harvey kick off the attempt to recruit Azcue as a way to get Rabel into the game? Did Harvey have a fleeting hope that Rabel would steal the AMTRUNK plans and humiliate the Kennedys?
Besides the plans for a coup, the Kennedys also had plans for peace with Fidel
The Kennedys were clear that they wanted the issue of Cuba resolved before the elections in 1964. Accordingly, they had a two-track approach. Overthrow Castro if it was possible. If that was impossible, reach rapprochement with Castro. In a television interview on May 10, 1963 with ABC’s Lisa Howard, Castro said that he was willing to reach such a rapprochement.[ 36 ] The CIA debriefed Howard after the interview. Throughout the spring and summer of 1963, the CIA’s top officials at the Cuban desk such as Desmond FitzGerald were at meetings where a policy shift towards rapprochement with Castro was under discussion. Orders were given in June that channels of communication to Castro had to be kept secret within the Agency and elsewhere. The CIA chiefs knew that if word got out among the officers, they would consider it a "stab in the back". I believe that top officers like Morales got wind of it and did take it as a stab in the back. JFK was letting Castro know that peace was possible.
The Joint Chiefs did not want peace with Fidel
Shortly after Castro got air time on American television, the Joint Chiefs weighed in with their own opinion. Chaired by General Maxwell Taylor, the Joint Chiefs declared their belief “that US military intervention in Cuba is necessary” and wanted to lead that effort.[ 37 ] Taylor was known as GPPHOTO, the man with the best picture on the Kennedys’ plans for military action. The brothers were known as GPIDEAL (JFK) and GPFOCUS (RFK). LBJ was known as GPLOGIC.[ 38 ] It would be fascinating to know who chose these cryptonyms.
Taylor had concluded in 1962 that an internal uprising in Cuba would be unsuccessful, and that more forceful means were necessary. Four days later, Jim Angleton provided his own white paper on “Cuban Control and Action Capabilities”, and sent it to the heads of the military. What is odd is that this memo is signed by JJA “for” the DDP – the deputy director of plans (operations), Richard Helms. It was highly unusual for Angleton to address any documents to military leaders, or to offer any opinions on Cuba at all. He usually deferred to the Cuban division.
During the summer of 1963, Morales and his boss formed the Comandos Mambises, working with the military to stage armed attacks on Cuba
As mentioned earlier, Mongoose's COBRA and AMTORRID teams were the teams that Bill Harvey infiltrated into Cuba during the missile crisis that got him into that big fight with Bobby Kennedy. The COBRA team appears to have been linked with military intelligence, which had its own history of trying to kill Castro. A little background is helpful here.
Lt. Cmdr. Hal Fenney
Navy lieutenant commander Hal Feeney was involved in unsuccessful plans to kill Castro in 1961 during his stint as the Guantanamo intelligence chief. Feeney and his ONI ally Lt. Jack Modesett worked with the gunman Luis Balbuena in Operation Patty. Operation Patty was an attempt to assassinate the Castro brothers and simultaneously ignite a skirmish at Guantanamo Naval Base on the national holiday of July 26.
Luis Balbuena’s fellow shooter was supposed to be Alonzo Gonzalez. However, the operation was busted up by the Cuban government, with strong indications that Gonzalez was a double agent answering to Castro.[ 39 ]
Alfredo Izaguirre de la Riva has been described as the leader of Operation Patty.[ 40 ] Izaguirre’s cryptonym was AMPUG-1.[ 41 ] A CIA memo refers to an entire “AMPUG net”. Izaguirre was working under the control of a Navy lieutenant commander, which is obviously Feeney.[ 42 ] Feeney was equipped to run a hands-on operation, as he was an excellent Spanish speaker. CIA documents show that Izaguirre was arrested on July 22, four days before the planned attack.[ 43 ] Balbuena later told the Miami police that he “was involved in an attempt to assassinate Fidel Castro” and had to take sanctuary in Guantanamo when Operation Patty was busted by Cuban intelligence.[ 44 ]
Right about the time of the failed attempt in 1961, Feeney was reassigned to Norfolk, Virginia. Two of the Operation Patty leaders went to Miami to debrief with Rocky Farnsworth (using the pseudonym Dominick Pantleone), Morales’ predecessor as JMWAVE paramilitary chief. The Patty leaders planned the also-unsuccessful Operation Liborio, where Castro narrowly escaped being killed by a bazooka in an operation led by Army intelligence agent Antonio Veciana. Veciana escaped thanks to a warning by his cousin-in-law on the other side of the fence, Cuban intelligence officer Guillermo Ruiz.[ 45 ] Veciana is best known as the leader of the anti-Castro exile force Alpha 66, where he allegedly collaborated with Ruiz. Ruiz will re-enter this story at the Cuban compound later in this chapter.
Feeney continued to mull over ways to overthrow Castro. A memo to Harvey in early 1962 states that “Modesett and Commander Hal Feeney of ONI at Guantanamo have in the past loaned considerable assistance to counter-revolutionary groups operating on the base and in the general area surrounding the base”, and that Balbuena needed a new method of receiving tommy guns and sniper rifles now that he couldn’t simply obtain them from Guantanamo. Harvey wrote a note to his deputy Bruce Cheever to “please take any necessary actions”, and a routing slip assures that this matter has been “taken care of”.[ 46 ]
In 1962, COBRA was Feeney's new plan to take over Cuba, a program set up by the brand-new Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). One aspect of COBRA was air raids from Guatemala aimed at strategic Cuban targets. Feeney met with Julio Garceran - a former Cuban supreme court judge - and discussed a COBRA plan to overthrow Castro by using US military aircraft to take out Cuban production and supply facilities. Meanwhile, David Morales met with Jack Modesett in May 1962 at Guantanamo Naval Base. The two men hit it right off.
Rocky Farnsworth also met with Garceran about this time, referring to the ex-judge as "the Constititutional thesis". A little long-winded, but more complimentary than the CIA’s counterrevolutionary handbook, labeling Garceran as the "pretender...to the Cuban presidency". Many plans were designed for Garceran to gain the throne.
During the Cuban missile crisis, Feeney was appointed head of the Cuba branch of the DIA. Harvey put great weight in his good-bye letter on the two successful black infiltration teams of COBRA and AMTORRID. He also mentioned that they would ultimately extricate them from Cuba "by relying on our maritime assets". Those would be assets such as the Navy, the DIA, and possibly Commander Feeney himself.
By the summer of 1963, Feeney and the DIA were working within Unconventional Warfare Program Alfa, designed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff to plan sabotage attacks on Cuba. Feeney also served as an advisor to the executive committee of the NSC.
The plan was to coordinate the Joint Chiefs’ plans through the Special Group 5412/2, established by the National Security Council to give policy approval to major CIA covert operations. The request was that they should give consideration to this outline plan for covert ops by DOD.
The Joint Chiefs’ memo said that although there was no US plan to deliberately invade Cuba, the plan "could lead to a provocation by Cuba which could require such action". The CIA was running psychological operations and small-scale externally-launched operations during this time.
The Alfa Special Task Force (STF) had responsibility for all unconventional warfare matters related to Cuba, and would include "CIA elements". This is a clear reference to a special paramilitary unit, David Morales' Comando Mambises (CM). CM was a small, elite anti-Castro force financed by the CIA.[ 47 ] The STF and the CM had the same targets - ports, highways, rail, petroleum. Cyrus Vance at the State Department asked the Joint Chiefs if there could be prearranged support for CIA officers if there was hot pursuit. Fletcher Prouty of the Special Operations Division responded that there should be a case-by-case decision for each operation to ensure that the services were able to plausibly deny involvement in case of capture. Prouty then ticked off the previous Comandos Mambises missions, as well as one that was coming up.
CM was the ideal group to work with Feeney and the Alfa Special Task Force. CM was JMWAVE’s response to the AMTRUNK operation, which was considered to be making little concrete progress. The main reason that AMTRUNK continued in the face of JMWAVE opposition was because of the Kennedys’ strong support and because the Army was the key coordinator of AMTRUNK’s Cuban operations. A memo states that “(f)or Cuba, CIA presents its requests for support to the Secretary of the Army who transmits them directly to the services concerned.”[ 48 ]
Shackley went so far as to label AMTRUNK as an anti-CIA operation, and later concluded that the AMTRUNK leader Jorge Volsky should be considered a possible communist agent.[ 49 ] A CIA study years later found that AMTRUNK was riddled with Cuban government informants, such as AMTRUNK-9, who re-defected back to Cuba after JFK’s death.[ 50 ]
Meanwhile, many sources were providing derogatory reports to JURE about the CIA, including JURE leader Manolo Ray himself. Ray was vocal about his dislike for the “Jimmies” (the former Cuban station chief Jim Noel, pseudonym Woodrow C. Olien) and the “Benders” (Western Hemisphere covert action chief Gerry Droller, pseudonym Frank Bender), and how he preferred to work with the State Department and Latin American governments.[ 51 ]
Starting in August 1963, David Morales and the Comandos Mambises were undercutting the Kennedys’ peace overtures to Castro. “Mambises” were the people who fought Spain for the liberation of Cuba.[ 52 ]
CM was departing from Miami to conduct its hit-and-run attacks and sabotage without full coordination with the Kennedy Administration. All hands agreed on the need to blur the "CIA signature" in these professional operations. Castro knew that these attacks were being conducted by CM. He addressed the Cuban people at great length on the nature of CM’s terrorism.[ 53 ] The CM attacks of August 18 and October 21 delayed the commencement of substantive talks with Castro until the last days of JFK's presidency.
The emblem for
Historian John Prados accurately describes Comandos Mambises as Shackley’s “phony Cuban exile group”. CM’s prominent members were Shackley, Morales and paramilitary officer Bob Simons.[ 54 ] Grayston Lynch, a leader at the Bay of Pigs, stated that he was CM’s case officer.[ 55 ] Shackley and Morales would plan these raids while hanging out at Shackley’s pool in the evenings, not while hanging out with Bobby.[ 56 ] Leading Cuban exile figures did not know who the group was, or anything about CM’s “spokesman” Rafael Martinez Pupo.
A month after a CM raid that bombed a sugar mill and a crude oil reservoir in Cuba, FitzGerald reported to the Joint Chiefs. I believe FitzGerald was looking for a way to harmonize AMTRUNK and the almost rogue CM operations. He told them that the AMTRUNK program had ten Cuban “high-level military personnel who are talking with CIA but as yet are not talking to each other”. He also emphasized the importance of attacks on electrical systems, sugar centrals, and oil refineries by the end of 1963. He referred to the danger that the mother ships might be captured rather than sunk in the midst of the CM attacks. The meeting closed with FitzGerald and the generals agreeing to figure out how the military could assist in supporting these operations.
The LITAMIL network and an impersonation during the summer of 1963
The CIA’s Mexico City station was always looking for Cubans who were willing to defect in place. The CIA’s Cuban operations were known as LITAMIL. The LITAMIL network was spread out throughout Mexico and Central America, with at least two informants inside the Cuban embassy in Mexico City during 1963. This network was created by a Mexico City station officer during the 1959-1960 period.[ 57 ]
LITAMIL-7 was Consuelo Esperon Perez, a Cuban embassy press secretary.[ 58 ] Although she is the subject of many memos, her role remains carefully hidden. We know that she was a penetration agent for the CIA, and that her case officer was not the station’s Cuban penetration specialist Bob Shaw – looking at the length of the redaction in reviewing a description of her case officer, it may have been David Phillips.
The most important informant of all was LITAMIL-9, better known as Luis Alberu, a cultural attaché at the Cuban embassy.[ 59 ] Bill Harvey himself was confident that Alberu was sufficiently anti-Communist. In 1962, Alberu was developed as an agent by Harvey’s people at Task Force W as part of its anti-Castro operation, Project JMATE. This was standard operating procedure - there was a contingent of officers from Headquarters’ Cuban division inside the Mexico City station.[ 60 ] Alberu had contacts with the Spanish Communists in Mexico. He was later shared with the Mexico City station. As LITAMIL-9, Alberu was the principal agent used to identify faces in surveillance photos taken at the Cuban embassy between 1962 and 1965. In 1963, he knew everybody.[ 61 ]
Alberu was used for a variety of other tasks during the summer of 1963. Station officer Bob Shaw scheduled regular meetings in his car to meet with Alberu and discuss what was going on inside the embassy. Shaw would give Alberu batches of photos and ask him to identify who was depicted in them. Shaw testified that penetrations of the Cuban government were his central task in Mexico City.[ 62 ]
The Cuban commercial attaché Luisa Calderon had been a person of interest for the Mexico City station that summer – during July, after a Texas rancher named Eldon Hensen tried to do business with her, one of Bob Shaw’s colleagues called Hensen back and pretended to be a Cuban official. Hensen then met with the CIA agent at a restaurant, while Shaw (aka “Lawrence Barker”) sat at a nearby table to take in the action.[ 63 ]
When the game was over, Hensen was arrested by the FBI. The station knew how to impersonate a Cuban officer in the setting of the tap operation. While other escapades with Americans are recounted in the station’s monthly LIENVOY report, no mention is made of the station’s sport with Hensen.[ 64 ] Indeed, the Western Hemisphere chief cautioned the station that the Hensen stunt was a good way to tip off the Cubans that there was a tap operation listening to them.[ 65 ]
Jeremy Gunn, an attorney for the Assassinations Records Review Board, said that sometimes the Mexico City station would work this stunt another way by listening to a tapped call and then calling back the embassy and pretending to be the previous caller.[ 66 ]
The Calderon incident illustrates that the Mexico City station would not hesitate to impersonate a Cuban official in order to ensure the success of an operation. The Calderon incident foreshadows the impersonation of Silvia Duran two months later.
The Mexico City station put an emphasis on recruitment, and sought out Cuban consul Azcue
Cuban consul Eusebio Azcue,
reviewing photos during the 1978
There was a Cuban informant that was central to the effort to recruit Azcue during the summer of 1963. This man was LITAMIL-3, a diplomat of more than 30 years in Mexico. Although I am not 100% certain on this observation, my research indicates that LITAMIL-3 may have been cultural attaché Osmin Fernandez Concepcion, who also served as the mayor of the city of Marianao. When in Cuba, Fernandez lived in the same home as Castro’s executive secretary Conchita Fernandez, who apparently was his sister-in-law.[ 67 ] There are two photographs of Osmin Fernandez in the Cuban mugbooks – he does not appear to be in his fifties, but the photos are small and may not have been totally current.[ 68 ] LITAMIL-3 had been “anxious to ‘get out’ for considerable time but…‘stayed in place’ at station request” back in April 1961 during the Bay of Pigs.[ 69 ] Osmin’s 201-334092 file number is just digits away from Azcue’s 201-334089.[ 70 ] This indicates that their biographical files were logged into the CIA’s records integration system right about the same time.
A successful recruitment of Consul Eusebio Azcue would have been an intelligence bonanza. Azcue had a colorful history that attracted the Mexico City station. Azcue had been active in the Spanish Civil War.[ 71 ] Before Castro came to power, Azcue was in a pro-Castro group that had sent guns and ammo through Venezuela into the Sierra.[ 72 ] As mentioned earlier, Azcue had even served as a bodyguard to the Communist journalist Teresa Proenza. But there was another side to Azcue, a side that American intelligence officers were hoping to exploit. While sitting as a consul at the Cuban embassy in 1962, Azcue said that he would leave the embassy if Cuba were to become a terrorist state.[ 73 ] Jose Antonio Casas felt free to confide to his old friend Azcue that he planned to defect from Cuba, and Azcue did not turn him over to the authorities.[ 74 ]
Harvey’s people were monitoring Eusebio Azcue and the cultural attaches
Throughout 1963, Harvey’s people Neill Prew, Anita Potocki and Lou De Santi were closely monitoring Azcue, as well as the cultural attaches Teresa Proenza and Osmin Fernandez Concepcion. All three of Harvey’s people were counterintelligence officers from the Cuban desk at Langley, known as SAS/CI.[ 75 ]
An unknown informant reported that consul Azcue’s wife did not want their son to go to Cuba to study and wanted Azcue to quit the Foreign Service. LITAMIL-3 reported that Azcue disliked the US government but was “not a Communist” and had high opinions of the American people.[ 76 ]
LITAMIL-3 said that Azcue’s wife was going to refuse to return to Cuba.[ 77 ] Win Scott noted that Senora Azcue went to great lengths to illegally get boxes of medicine on a plane to an anti-Castro doctor.[ 78 ] Casas, who had defected to the US by this time, told the CIA that he thought Azcue could be recruited. A long-time friend of Azcue, Casas suggested that Azcue be told that Fidel was responsible for the death of Azcue’s close friend Manolo Castro.[ 79 ] Ironically, Shackley learned in 1964 that Casas defected solely due to the urging of his wife, and that he probably remained a Communist and fervently anti-American.
Harvey’s people ran the first joint agency anti-FPCC operation
On July 10, the CIA’s Cuban division worked with the FBI on a successful mission to get FPCC staffer Victor Vicente into Cuba to meet Castro and Che Guevara. Vicente had been a long-term FBI agent, working with the Bureau for the last three years. FBI agent T-3245-S* had just recently turned over Oswald’s letters to the FBI while FPCC chief V. T. Lee was touring the country. As Vicente was Lee’s second in command, the odds are very high that Vicente was this highly trusted FBI agent.
The key SAS staffers on this mission to send Vicente into Cuba on an official FPCC visit were Anita Potocki and Lou De Santi. This was seen by De Santi as hopefully only the first of similar joint efforts. At this point, Potocki and De Santi were now well-versed on the history of the FPCC.
The SAS started running with the Azcue operation at about the same time that Soviet analyst Bill Bright is transferred to the Mexico City station
On July 18, SAS/CI officer L. Demos stated that CIA Headquarters was “extremely interested” in recruiting Azcue.[ 80 ] Despite Azcue’s reputation as virtually unrecruitable, Win Scott decided to try. One Mexico City officer complained that Azcue “would be more difficult to recruit than Teresa Proenza.” Proenza was famous as a prominent hard-line member of the Communist Party. However, Scott thought that “if (the recruiter) blunts his lance we will be none the worse for wear and, if he is successful, we will have an agent either inside the Embassy or inside Cuba.”[ 81 ]
Let’s turn our attention to Bill Bright, discussed in Chapter 2 as one of the CIA counterintelligence officers who had been watching Oswald for several years. During the summer of 1963, Bill Bright was working in Headquarters as a Soviet analyst. As discussed earlier, Stephan Roll was still Bright's boss. Roll authenticated this memo sent by Bright to Mexico City about defection target Valentin Bakulin, where the FBI pointedly asked the CIA to make sure that they didn’t blow their Los Angeles source on Bakulin.[ 82 ] Bright was transferred from Headquarters to Mexico City during the summer of 1963, and the file indicates that the operation to recruit the target Bakulin was the reason why.
Bakulin’s main activity was to show propaganda films to interested local groups in Mexico City. Bakulin was the off-again/on-again handler of Soviet agent LINEB/1. Bakulin did not know that LINEB-1 was a double agent working for the CIA and the FBI as well as the USSR.[ 83 ]
Bakulin then got involved with another double agent known as LAROB. Over the next month, as part of the LAROB operation, Bright reported that the FBI brought Bakulin together with an American Airlines agent (LAROB) and was successful in enticing Bakulin to recruit him.[ 84 ] As we will see, the LAROB operation was suspected of being insecure right at the time that Oswald came to Mexico City.
Bright deserves a hard look, because he represents a bridge between the Soviet counterintelligence section and the Mexico City station during 1963. Prior to the assassination, Bright appears to be the only officer at the Mexico City station who knew the following set of facts: Lee Oswald had defected to the Soviet Union; Oswald had since returned to the United States; and that Oswald’s real name was not Lee Henry Oswald. What we don’t know is if Bright told anyone or kept the information to himself.
During August 1963, Bill Bright was transferred to the Mexico City station. It appears that he had at least two aliases, and was brought out specifically because he could speak Spanish after it was discovered that the new translator Boris Tarasoff did not understand the language. Bright was treated in a very sensitive manner as an “independent agent”, and kept away from the Mexican monitors at LIENVOY who could have reported his presence to their superiors.[ 85 ]
Why? The best explanation for me is because many of the monitors worked for the Mexican security service known as the DFS. Anne Goodpasture, the principal aide for the chief of the CIA’s Mexico City station, described the DFS officers as “cruel and corrupt”. As we will see, the DFS officers used the wiretap system to spy on other DFS officers. Having an “independent agent” at the station probably meant that the Mexico City station used Bright as a secret weapon to double-check the accuracy of the Spanish transcriptions provided by the monitors that engaged in corrupt practices. Bright (pseudonym Orville Horsfall) reported directly to Goodpasture—she was described by Mexico City’s Cuba chief David Phillips as the station’s trouble-shooter.
Besides being the only officer to know Oswald’s background, Bright appears to be the only officer at the Mexico City station who knew that Soviet consul Kostikov was the CIA’s case officer for the double agent known to the CIA as AEBURBLE and to the FBI as TUMBLEWEED, a case which had caused discussion between Jim Angleton and J. Edgar Hoover. Given Angleton’s reputation, it is all the more remarkable that Angleton told Hoover in June 1963 that he saw no evidence that Kostikov was part of a Soviet assassination operations department known as Department 13.[ 86 ] We’ll see Angleton totally change his tune on Kostikov on November 22, 1963.
Morales’ buddy Sforza takes a long look at Azcue and Duran
On September 3, JMWAVE chief Ted Shackley sent a report directed to FitzGerald, with copies to Scott and J. C. King. As the Western Hemisphere chief, J. C. King was technically the boss of Shackley and Scott, but in practice both JMWAVE and the Mexico City station had a great deal of autonomy within the Western Hemisphere division.[ 87 ] In fact, Mexico City did so much support for JMWAVE that the station had to sacrifice some of its operational abilities. The report sent by Shackley incorporated a four page memo reported to AMOT case officer Tony Sforza by a man we only know as “AMOT-106.”
As mentioned earlier, Tony Sforza was pure trouble, a very dangerous officer known for his friendship with David Morales and his affinity for “wet ops” (bloodshed). I should add that he had an affinity for the Mafia, was known as AMRYE-1, and was a handler of Rolando Cubela.
When AMOT-106 met with Azcue, he noticed a funny interaction between an American man, his son, Azcue, and Silvia Duran – the Mexican secretary recently hired to replace Azcue’s recently deceased cousin Maria Olivarri. Duran was at ease as she teased Azcue.
“The American spoke to Azcue and the Mexican secretary stated to A-106 that the American was a stupid fool to want to take his son with him to the Cuban hell. Azcue was believed to have overheard that statement. A-106’s attention was directed to the very familiar manner in which the Mexican girl spoke to A-106 in Azcue’s presence.”[ 88 ]
Ominously, the aforementioned memo also states that Azcue’s cousin who worked as a secretary at the Cuban consulate died in a car accident.[ 89 ] Azcue told AMKNOB-1 on 8/14/63 “it is said she was killed intentionally” during the previous month. At the funeral, Azcue asked Silvia Duran to stay at the consulate as her replacement. Duran had been helping out at the consulate for about a month prior to the accident.
Who will help LITAMIL-3 make the compartmented one-two punch to Azcue? Azcue’s old friend AMKNOB-1? Or Lee Oswald?
On September 9, a report from JMWAVE chief Ted Shackley stated that Azcue’s old friend AMKNOB-1 reports that Azcue expected to be replaced as consul.[ 90 ] This document was considered very sensitive to whoever released it. A CIA memo named Azcue as AMKNOB-1’s former case officer.[ 91 ] Another memo identifies a JMWAVE officer as being AMKNOB-1’s present case officer.
After studying his background provided in the accompanying endnote, I am convinced that AMKNOB-1 was Santiago Garriga, a State Department employee in Miami.[ 92 ] It is documented that AMKNOB-1 was providing information to Cuban internal security.[ 93 ] An Anita Potocki memo shows that Garriga worked in the same office with Miriam Norweb, another State Department employee.
Both Garriga and Norweb worked at the State Department’s Office of the Coordinator of Cuban Affairs, which served as a de facto embassy to the Cuban exile community and coordinated all the federal agencies there involved with Cuba.[ 94 ] Norweb had derogatory information in her CIA file regarding Cuban affairs and merited suspicion. In September 1963, Norweb was reported to be frequently consulting with AMTRUNK organizer Jorge Volsky.
AMKNOB-1 was described as a JMWAVE asset in 1965.[ 95 ] In 1966, he was formally described in 1966 as a "double agent", although the 1963 documents also make it clear that Garriga was working both sides. This reference to “double agent”, however, indicates to me that the CIA case officers were no longer certain of who commanded his ultimate loyalty.[ 96 ] A memo from that era describes the prominent anti-Castro activist Antonio Veciana as being of “marginal operational interest to JMWAVE CI branch as a source of information obtained by AMKNOB-1 for the CUIS.” In other words, AMKNOB-1 was telling Cuban intelligence about Veciana by 1966 as part of his double agent duties. The last time AMKNOB-1 is seen in the files is when he is caught up in the drama of the trial of Rolando Cubela. As will be discussed, a large body of evidence indicates that Cubela was a double agent that was ultimately loyal to Castro.
In response to the aforementioned Mexico City letter on September 9, a memo went out from FitzGerald’s office the next day, reminding Mexico City that the goal for Azcue is recruitment in place and not defection. The memo added that since Azcue was planning to leave for Cuba in ten days, either LITAMIL-3 or REDACTED should make the pitch to Azcue. It’s clear that REDACTED is Azcue’s friend, the defector Casas.[ 97 ]
On September 13, the Mexico City station reported that a female informant let them know that Azcue was leaving for a visit to Cuba. The memo says that HQ has made it clear that the goal is to convince Azcue to agree to “recruitment in place” rather than to defect. Most importantly, the memo also mentioned that since Azcue was willing to provide passports and other favors to anti-Castro Cubans, LITAMIL-3 and (redacted, but almost certainly) Casas should be used in a “compartmented one-two punch.”[ 99 ] Since Casas was now out of the game, who would it be? Oswald or AMKNOB-1?
On September 19, just a week before Oswald’s arrival to Mexico City, LITAMIL-3 made his pitch to recruit consul Eusebio Azcue. Azcue said, “You know my feelings on this. Have not changed mind, will not change mind.” The memo from Mexico City has handwritten notes on it, saying “Good try. Nothing lost”, and “…let’s wait for further developments.”[ 100 ] It looks like Jack Whitten’s initials, “JHS”, used for his alias “John H. Scelso”. Harvey’s colleague Neill Prew is also copied on this important document.
The second part of the one-two punch may have been to use AMKNOB-1, but the redactions on the page make it impossible to resolve this question. During September 16-20, AMKNOB-1 was debriefed. On September 21, AMKNOB-1 provided some biographical data on Azcue and several other figures. On September 23, AMKNOB-1 met with Azcue. Did he try to recruit him?
AMKNOB-1 may have also made a pitch, but we don’t know what happened. The document reporting that meeting has not yet been released, nor have other documents that cover the following two week time span.[ 101 ] I have not yet seen a document with AMKNOB-1 directly pitching Azcue.[ 102 ] Four days later, on September 27, Oswald arrived in Mexico City.
Like Azcue and Rabel, AMKNOB-1 had previously worked in the peasant housing program known as Viviendas Campesinas.[ 103 ] A CIA memo describes Azcue as the former case officer of AMKNOB. Azcue planned to work with the program upon his return to Cuba.[ 104 ] As late as 1966, Azcue is referred to longingly as a “major recruitment target”– all the efforts to recruit him in 1963 failed.[ 105 ]
Whatever Havana knew, Miami knew
During the critical days leading up to the Oswald visit to Mexico in September 27, 1963, Lechuga was one of the two principal men on the Cuban side coordinating back channel negotiations between Castro and JFK to reach rapprochement. I believe the rapprochement efforts hastened because of an incident in early September in Brazil.
In early September, 1963 Cubela visited Brazil and assured CIA operatives that he was ready and willing to either kill Castro or help the US invade Cuba. That very evening, Castro dropped in on a Brazilian embassy reception and issued a warning to the USA that was reported by Daniel Harker and disseminated by the American media. “US leaders should think that if they are aiding terrorist plans to eliminate Cuban leaders, they themselves shall not be safe.”
The CIA filed it away without comment, until the Cuban student organization Directorio Revolucionario Estudiantil (DRE) flagged it the day of the assassination. That night, the DRE intelligence officer gave it to anti-Castro activist Paul Bethel, who worked alongside David Morales at the American embassy in Havana as an attache before Castro took over. David Phillips, the head of the Cuban desk in Mexico City, picked up on it days later. The prominent anti-Castro activist John Martino then published it in the right-wing magazine Human Events. We will see a lot more of Martino spreading similar stories after the assassination in later chapters.
There is a long-standing argument about whether Castro was giving a warning to JFK to leave him alone or risk retaliation, or whether Castro was tipping off JFK that both of them were in danger from the same group of assassins. The CIA’s plans to kill Castro only slowly became public knowledge during the years between 1967 and 1975. I believe that Castro chose the Brazilian embassy - a place he seldom visited, and where militants such as the JFK-hating Manuel Rodriguez Orcarberro and Sforza’s colleague AMCONCERT-1 went to defect - precisely to get across the message that Cubela was compromised, that he had learned about the Cubela meeting in Brazil, and that the US should back off and stop trying to kill him. The Church Committee attorneys made it pretty clear to Special Affairs Staff counterintelligence chief Harold Swenson that’s what they thought was going on. Swenson refused to agree, but allowed that “Mr. Castro is a very bold and imaginative person who is capable of doing anything.”
It should be noted that Cubela was captured years later and was given a thirty year sentence, but only served ten years with many privileges before he was released. I believe Cubela was a double agent. Cubela's role was to find out for Castro what plans Bill Harvey and his ZR-RIFLE team had for him, keep on talking, and keep on listening.
Fidel Castro and Carlos Lechuga
If I’m right that Cubela reported to Castro what was going on in Brazil, it makes sense that Castro sent a message to Kennedy through Harker’s story. This series of events heightened the need between Castro and JFK to try to reach some kind of agreement. On Sept. 23, Lechuga met with Kennedy aide William Attwood at the New York apartment of reporter Lisa Howard. This was a big step forward, as discussed earlier, from the hesitant gestures made during the springtime. Howard brokered this attempt with Castro to re-establish diplomatic relations in the autumn of 1963. Attwood, Lechuga, and Castro’s aide Rene Vallejo were steadily bringing rapprochement forward right up to the last days of Kennedy’s life. It is highly unlikely that there was any way to keep these meetings and plans secret from the CIA. In the words of Kennedy aide Arthur Schlesinger, “anything Havana knew, Miami knew.”
A REDCAP memo indicates the CIA’s interest in recruiting the Soviet consul Kostikov
Recruitment was one of the integral tasks of the Mexico City station, and Azcue was not the only target. On the day of Oswald’s arrival in Mexico City, there was a 9/27/63 REDCAP memo about Valeriy Kostikov. The purpose of the REDCAP program was to encourage Soviets such as Kostikov to defect in place.[ 106 ]
Born in 1933, the young Kostikov had been assigned to assist with Khrushchev’s visit to the USA in 1959 during the same time that Oswald defected to the Soviet Union.[ 107 ] Kostikov and his colleague Pavel Yatskov were two of the Soviet consuls at the time of Oswald’s Mexico City visit. Shortly after Oswald’s departure from Mexico City, there was a 10/15/63 REDCAP memo involving Pavel Yatskov, who said that he met with Oswald during his visit.[ 108 ] I have not been able to find this REDCAP memo – based on its name, it probably involved efforts to recruit a Soviet officer in Mexico. Was it Kostikov, or Yatskov himself? As Jack Whitten said, “the main thrust of the station’s effort was to recruit Russians, Cubans and satellite people.”[ 109 ] Herbert Manell, the chief of Soviet operations in Mexico City from 1959-64, testified that his task was to negate Soviet efforts and to recruit Soviets.[ 110 ]
As with Golub in Helsinki, the role of Oswald may have been to probe the degree of openness of officers such as Azcue and Kostikov to recruitment. What could be better than introducing a provocative character like Oswald to these consuls and seeing what happened next?
Oswald was able to observe the reaction of the consuls and officers and probe their potential for recruitment
Most people agree that a man calling himself Oswald visited Mexico City for a few days between the 27th of September and the 2nd of October. Most people agree that he went back and forth on the 27th between the Cuban consulate and the Soviet consulate - trying to get a visa to visit both countries and failing at both - with one last stab at the Soviet consulate on the 28th.
At the Cuban consulate, consul Eusebio Azcue insisted that the man he met was not Oswald. The other consul, Alfredo Mirabel, was equally insistent that the man was Oswald. This kind of sharp division makes it hard to determine if Oswald ever came to Mexico City. Jack Whitten, who was the CIA’s original investigator of the assassination, wrote in the days after 11/22 that “no source then at our disposal had ever actually seen Lee Oswald while he was in Mexico". That is remarkable, as the CIA’s sources inside the Cuban compound later told House Select Committee on Assassinations staffer Ed Lopez that the man who visited them was not Oswald.[ 111 ] For ease in writing this narrative, I will refer to the man at the center of this Mexico City narrative as Oswald, but I remain an agnostic as to whether he visited the Cuban consulate on the 27th, or even came to Mexico City. I’m convinced that he didn’t come to the Cuban consulate on the 28th.
Whether the Mexico City visitor was Oswald or not, his trip was unsuccessful in getting him an instant visa to Cuba or the Soviet Union. Oswald’s trip was based on the faulty premise that since he obtained a fifteen-day visa on September 17, he had to leave Mexico by October 2. On top of that, he made his own task far more difficult by not arriving in Mexico City until Friday, September 27. From the moment of his arrival, Oswald acted like he only had five days left to get the job done. He came to the Cuban consulate on a Friday and exclaimed that he had to have his instant visa by the following Monday.
In fact, the fifteen days did not begin to run when Oswald picked up the visa in New Orleans on September 17. Arnoldo Tijerina, the Assistant Chief of Immigration in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, told the FBI that just like any tourist, Oswald actually had 90 days to use his 15-day visa. In other words, the fifteen days began to run only when he crossed the Mexican border on September 26. Tijerina said that Oswald had every right to stay in Mexico until October 11.[ 112 ]
I don’t think Oswald was stupid. I believe Oswald used his phony interpretation of the 15-day rule to create an artificial predicament, which in turn provided him with an opportunity to probe Cuban and Soviet officials. He tested them to see if they would help him in any way to obtain an “instant visa” on Friday, September 27, so that he could leave for Cuba on the next business day, September 30. After all, Oswald had succeeded in obtaining an “instant visa” to enter the USSR from Soviet consular official Gregory Golub in Helsinki four years earlier. Why not try it again?
Given this background of CIA and FBI intrigue, it looks like Oswald’s Mexico City trip was designed to be unsuccessful in getting him any “instant visas”
New passport: Oswald's plans to depart
between Oct-Dec 1963 and spend a year
in the USSR and elsewhere.
Although the man called Oswald went to Mexico City in September 1963 trying to get visas to the USSR and Cuba, Oswald and his wife had been applying for Soviet visas for many months in Washington DC without success. Furthermore, Oswald had unveiled a plan to make a grand swing through Europe and the USSR in June 1963, when he listed them in his passport application. He ostensibly planned to replicate his 1959 trip, which had originally included a Cuba stopover that never got past the planning stage.[ 113 ]
Three months later, Oswald sought to enter the Soviet Union, just as he had indicated in his passport application. Going to Mexico City was one of the easiest ways for an American citizen to visit Cuba, which was strictly against US law in 1963 and certainly not something to add to one’s passport application.
Getting into either the USSR or Cuba was incredibly difficult due to security precautions, and Oswald’s reference to going to Communist countries in his application would ordinarily be a red flag for intelligence review. Fidel Castro told the HSCA, “In those days the mechanism was very rigid because, of course, we had suspicions of anyone who tried to come to Cuba. People in charge of granting visas asked themselves: Why does (this applicant) want to come to Cuba? What kind of counter-revolutionary activity could he carry out in Cuba? Maybe the people thought that the person was a CIA or FBI agent, you know, so it was very difficult for a North American, just from his own wishes, to come to Cuba – because systematically we denied the visas.”[ 114 ]
Oswald then proceeded to seek an “instant visa” to enter Cuba and the Soviet Union in the most difficult manner possible. The smart way was to mail off an application months in advance for a visa to go to Cuba or to Soviet Union. Oswald showed up without advance notice at the Cuban consulate on Friday the 27th, and demanded an instant visa to leave for Cuba on the 30th. Duran explained to him that things went smoothly if you had a sponsor in the country that you wanted to visit.[ 115 ] Oswald seemingly ignored her advice, but may have used her suggestion as a last-minute opportunity to enlist the aid of university student Oscar Contreras who had contacts with the Cuban consulate. Contreras said that when these students probed the reaction of their consulate contacts still further, they were told by Azcue that Oswald was suspected of being an agent.[ 116 ]
Oswald’s quest to obtain instant visas for Cuba and the USSR in one trip to Mexico City was an incredibly difficult undertaking
Oswald made an already taxing problem even more difficult by applying to visit both countries in one trip. Trying to visit both countries in one trip required a high amount of advance coordination and understanding of the procedures. Despite his experience, Oswald did nothing in advance. For starters, it violated US law for an American to visit Cuba. Dodging this US ban was presumably why Oswald had come to Mexico City in the first place. Mexico City to Havana by air was a key alternate route to Cuba. But now he faced several more hurdles.
When Oswald went to get a visa to go to Mexico on September 17, he also obtained a travel visa application that was prepared for personal delivery to the Cuban consulate in Mexico City. The application stated that Oswald wanted to visit Cuba by himself for two weeks on his way to the USSR.
The reason for this application was that Oswald needed an “in-transit visa” when visiting Cuba on his way to another country.[ 117 ] To reiterate, Duran made it clear to Oswald that if he really wanted a visa to visit Cuba, the proper method was to have a sponsor. Such a procedure would reassure the Cuban government that the purpose of the visit was not espionage. Oswald had made no advance arrangements with either the Cuban Communist Party or the American Communist Party, even though he displayed ID cards identifying him as a member of the American Communist Party and as a member of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee.
After the assassination, Duran told her police interrogators that Oswald acted as though he had “made arrangements in Washington whereby instructions would be sent to the Soviet embassy in Mexico to issue his Soviet entry visa in a manner which would eliminate his having to visit the Soviet Embassy.”[ 118 ] Oswald told his Soviet interrogators that the Cubans had already given him a visa so they should give him one too. When Duran and her Soviet counterpart checked in with each other, they realized that Oswald had lied to both of them.
The request for the “instant visa” may have been to probe the consulate staff for revealing behavior, and to scout for new recruits
The purpose of the request for an “instant visa” may have been a ruse to probe the consulate staff for revealing behavior, and to scout for new recruits. Jack Whitten’s testimony contains redactions that indicate the intensity of the Mexico City station’s role in encouraging penetrations and defections:
“What (we were) trying to do is engage, as I used to say, in important illegal manipulations of society, secretly. We were running, at that time, a vast (deleted – describes operation) action program in Mexico City to try (describes program). I do not know whether you informed yourself about the magnitude of our (describes program) action program there at the time – absolutely enormous.” Whitten then goes on to discuss the importance of penetrations and defections.[ 119 ]
A fake phone call targeted Lee Oswald at the time of his first visit to the Cuban consulate – Harvey’s people tracked this story
A fake phone call targeted Lee Oswald at the time of his first visit to the Cuban consulate. This story was tracked by Harvey’s people. Back in July, the Western Hemisphere chief was warning the station that although the Cubans may suspect that their lines were tapped, they didn’t have definite proof. Were the Cubans trying to figure out if they phones were tapped by “spoofing” the line with fake characters, and then seeing how the Americans reacted? Or were friends of Americans spoofing the lines for different reasons altogether?
The background is that Guillermo Perez Ruiz flew into Mexico in August to serve as the new commercial attaché, and was greeted at the airport by Azcue. On September 23, an anti-Castro activist in Miami received a letter from a friend inside Cuba, tipping him off that Ruiz was with Cuban intelligence and on a mission to penetrate counterrevolutionary forces.
However, the FBI had reported a year earlier that Guillermo Ruiz had a history of supporting the anti-Castro group Alpha 66. The Alpha 66 chief Antonio Veciana, whose loyalties were to military intelligence and not the CIA, provided a cagy description of Ruiz as "dissatisfied" and "susceptible". Ruiz certainly looks like a double agent.
On September 27, an alleged phone tap revealed that Cuban consulate receptionist Silvia Duran had contacted Guillermo Ruiz at 10:54 am, complaining in Spanish that "he wants to speak to the consul".
It looks like someone may have impersonated both Duran and Ruiz, in an effort to link Ruiz to Oswald. The evidence indicates Oswald arrived in Mexico City after daybreak on the 27th, got a hotel room, and headed directly to the Cuban consulate. Duran testified that Oswald first entered the Cuban consulate right about 11 am.
Keep in mind that Duran is the Cuban consul’s receptionist - because her next statement is a demand that Ruiz provide the consul's phone number. Ruiz responded that the consul’s number was 11-28-47. Duran said "thank you" and ended the call.[ 120 ] Ruiz has now provided Duran with her own phone number, the number that she answered for the consul many times every day.
What’s wrong with this call? It’s very simple. As Larry Hancock says, “when do you ask for a telephone number, get yours as the answer, and say thanks?” Duran’s job was to answer Azcue’s phone at 11-28-47, and to connect the call with the consul when necessary. I think that an American spy impersonated Ruiz on the Cuban line, and it certainly wasn’t Duran on the other end.
We will see a very similar phony call the next day, on September 28, when a supposed Oswald calls the Soviet consulate, tells them that he gave them the wrong address in his visit earlier that day because he had forgotten it, that he went to the Cuban consulate where he had left the correct address, and asks “can I come back and drop it off? Thanks.” This September 28 call is critically important, and we’ll take a very long look at it in Chapter 5.
The tapped line for the Ruiz-Duran call was 25-09-14, the line generally used by commercial attaché Luisa Calderon. On the surface, the call seems reasonable, because Ruiz was also a commercial attaché and it makes sense that he would have access to this phone line.
However, it seems to me that the perpetrator did not fully understand how Ruiz, Duran, and the consuls Azcue and Mirabel worked together. In other words, whoever created this call did not know that Duran served as the receptionist for the consuls.
Nonetheless, in the end, it may not have mattered. Was the reason for this fake call a ruse by the Cubans to “fake out” the Americans and try to get a reaction as a way to see if the lines were tapped? It’s possible.
However, my thinking is that it was an effort to convince the Mexico City station that Ruiz was linked with Oswald in some way. That’s the kind of information that the station officers would keep to themselves. No discussion is necessary.
A look at the routing sheet on Azcue shows that a search for his 201 file was ongoing between numerous SAS officers during September 23 and September 24. A routing sheet on Guillermo Ruiz Perez was then circulated among SAS/CI officers between the dates of September 27 and October 9, right before Headquarters drafted two critical memos on October 10 about “Lee Henry Oswald” and his recent visit to Mexico City. Two of the officers who received the Ruiz memo have been seen throughout this chapter: Neill Prew and Lou De Santi. The third officer, Hutchinson, can be found on a couple of earlier Prew/De Santi memos.
Harvey’s people were watching Ruiz very carefully. The timing of their surveillance begins right after Ruiz’s supposed phone call to Duran, and ends right before stories describing Oswald as someone to watch are circulated among the Mexico City station and the domestic agencies charged with tracking Lee Oswald - the FBI, State Department, and Navy. Were they worried about Ruiz? Or were they trying to set up the Cubans for a fall?
Although this chapter ends in September 1963, let me advance the story by wrapping up some loose ends regarding AMKNOB-1, Teresa Proenza, and LITAMIL-9.
Harvey’s people tracked AMKNOB-1, Azcue’s friend who formed an FPCC chapter in Miami during October 1963
It’s pretty clear that one informant the HSCA did not know about was AMKNOB-1 aka Santiago Garriga. As we have seen, Garriga worked with both the CIA and with Cuban intelligence. Earlier in the year, the head of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee was asked by government investigators if he knew about Garriga selling fake passports. During October 1963 Garriga worked with other pro-Castro Cubans to set up a new chapter of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee in Miami.[ 122 ] Not a lot of State Department tax consultants in Miami in 1963 were doing this kind of work. Although it appears that Garriga’s ultimate loyalty was with the Castro government, it’s likely that Garriga’s FPCC activity was designed by Anita Potocki to set up a fly-trap for people like Oswald. Maybe even Garriga himself was considered as a possible fall guy.
JFK visited Florida a few days before his arrival in Dallas. If JFK had been assassinated in Florida, if Garriga had been outed as the founder of the Miami FPCC, if Garriga died a mysterious death in short order – all that would make Cuba look all the more like a guilty party in any ensuing scandal.
However, in the days before 11/22/63, the FBI ran an operation that investigated the Cuban espionage net that included Garriga and shared the take with the CIA. The CIA referred to this investigation as ZRKNICK. Bill Harvey had worked with ZRKNICK in the past.[ 123 ] Cuban intelligence was concerned because Garriga’s daughters were married to Cuban nonrevolutionaries and one of the daughters had been fired by “the Fidelistas”. The memos that identify Garriga were written by Anita Potocki.[ 124 ]
Was there something sinister in this effort to set up FPCC Miami? It certainly looks ominous, given that AMKNOB-1 is the main organizer and that Anita Potocki is one of his handlers. The FPCC leadership recognized that it was dangerous to set up such a chapter in Miami due to the possibility of reprisals by Cuban exiles. For just these reasons, the FPCC leadership had discouraged Oswald from publicly opening an FPCC chapter in the Southern port town of New Orleans.
On November 4, a Mexico City case officer hand carried to the Miami station a picture of AMKNOB-1’s case officer in the Cuban embassy. He was tentatively identified as “Raul Pereira”, but when they realized Periera was a waiter they decided that it was cultural attaché Raul Aparicio. Does this mean that both Azcue and Aparicio were AMKNOB-1’s case officers? Aparicio can be found on a CIA list created years later as a Cuban intelligence officer. A memo of Garriga says he started trying to reach “Raul” on November 7.
A blurry memo that appears to be wiretap information from the ZRKNICK operation provides a snapshot of how Cuban intelligence was allegedly approaching Garriga. "On 17 November, the agent was instructed to befriend Santiago Garriga with the ultimate aim of recruiting him for the cause of the revolution. Garriga works in an office at ____Flagler (actual address - 2607 West Flagler Street, Miami) and handles matters such as waivers, visas and taxes. The agent was instructed to proceed very cautiously with the matter, guarding his true objective, and finding out everything that he could about the subject. Garriga reportedly is desirous of helping the revolution and has access to information. His wife, Emilia was also labeled a "Prospectivia(?)" ____, a request was made for plain text values of interrogations? that the agent was using ___ were held by ____. _________ on the latest activities of Antonio/Manolo Garcia.[ 125 ]
On November 27, the aforementioned ZRKNICK memo states that “a stick of dynamite was placed on the lodge of the large window in the front of the office where Garriga shared an office with driving school instructor Humberto Blanco. According to newspaper accounts of the incident, the window was destroyed and the furniture inside was slightly damaged as a result of the explosion. It was not known if the act was committed against Garriga or the owner of the driving school.”
As a follow-up, it should be added that a Cuban address for the driving school instructor appeared on a mailing list for the Fair Play for Cuba Committee that was obtained from the FBI that same week.
On December 3, Garriga reported to Mexico City that on 11/22/63, after 15 days of alleged attempts to reach “Raul”, Garriga called the Cuban consulate directly and spoke to Silvia Duran. Garriga’s first version of the story was that Duran claimed she didn’t know who “Raul” was. Garriga added that the horrible assassination redoubled his strength to “fight red crime.” He also thought Oswald looked familiar and that he might have seen him in Cuba or Mexico.
Two weeks later, AMKNOB-1’s new version of the story specifically named Raul Aparicio. This time, when Duran offered to connect him with Aparicio, AMKNOB-1 hung up. The full importance of Raul Aparicio will be best understood a little later in this narrative, but one thing is clear – we are being led to believe that Aparicio is Garriga’s case officer! I believe that Aparicio rocked the CIA’s investigation of the assassination.
At a minimum, this sequence of events indicates a running battle between the intelligence agencies for sensitive information about the Cuban consulate during these critical hours. There is also the possibility that this was a provocation where AMKNOB-1 might have been placed in position for more than he had bargained for.
After the events in Mexico City, Proenza was targeted by the CIA as part of the effort to split the Castro regime
By October 1963, the CIA had concluded that recruiting Teresa Proenza was impossible. At the beginning of the month, a wiretap revealed that she was providing a book called “The History of the CIA” to the Cuban ambassador. Meanwhile, the aforementioned Raul Aparicio had replaced Osmin Fernandez Concepcion as cultural attache. A CIA memo comments that Aparicio had pushed her aside and taken over the embassy bulletin. There are strong reasons to believe that Aparicio, like Osmin Fernandez Concepcion, was also a double agent whose loyalty was to the US. We will wait just a little bit longer to take a hard look at Aparicio.
Proenza then found herself swept up as a pawn in another split-the-regime scheme known as AMROD, designed to split the Castro regime by orchestrating a conflict around Carlos Rodriguez, the head of the Communist Party newspaper Hoy.[ 126 ] Proenza was targeted by the CIA in “operation to counter (her) effective exploitation of her contacts in Mexico, a work which frequently had strong anti-US overtones.”[ 127 ]
Proenza lost her job shortly after Kennedy’s killing, ostensibly because she wrote a memo saying that the Cuban message to Mexico protesting the detention of Silvia Duran was a diplomatic error.[ 128 ] An internal CIA memo reveals that Proenza was forced to return to Cuba shortly after the assassination due to an Agency deception operation.[ 129 ]
As part of the AMROD project, the CIA – by their own admission – set up a sting that made things far worse for Proenza by planting false papers on her. As John Newman tells it, “(these) documents made the vice minister of defense (Joaquin Ordoqui) look like a CIA agent who had betrayed the Soviet missile buildup to the Americans. Actually, this official was a highly placed and extreme pro-Moscow Communist – and was probably the KGB’s chief agent in the Cuban government. The CIA hoped that Moscow would jump to the vice minister’s defense and that a collision would result between Moscow and Havana.”[ 131 ] Ordoqui, Proenza and others spent some serious time in jail.
Proenza’s file was so hot that it was kept as a black tape 201. What that means is that the 201 biographical file was literally wrapped in black tape to prevent nosy clerks from casually sneaking a peek at its description of operations. You can still see the black tape on the file at the Archives today.[ 132 ]
No one ever questioned LITAMIL-9, the CIA’s spotter, who may still be alive today
The CIA won’t release the whole AMROD file, claiming it would needlessly expose sources and methods, but more material has been released since John Newman wrote his book. One of the AMROD sources was the aforementioned LITAMIL-9/Luis Alberu, the defector in place at the Cuban embassy.[ 133 ] During 1963, Alberu sat in Shaw’s car and identified many of the people who went inside the Cuban consulate. These identifications went straight to Shaw’s boss, David Phillips. Alberu shared many of the secrets of the Cuban consulate in 1963.
When the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) came to Mexico in 1978 and tried to interview Alberu, Alberu went into hiding while Captain Fernandez Ventura of the Direcciòn Federal de Seguridad (DFS) kept the HSCA away from him. Ventura emphatically confided to another officer that Alberu was not to be interviewed.[ 134 ] When one of the HSCA officials reached Alberu on the phone, Alberu refused to talk and hung up. He was not about to give his secrets up. He was a young man at the time. Like many other living witnesses, the number of redactions in his file indicates that Alberu was alive when the Assassinations Records Review Board closed down in 1998. Alberu may still be alive today.
Harvey’s people monitored the Cuban compound throughout 1963. They were agents from the Langley headquarters, not from the Miami station. Prew admitted that his people were “scared shitless” by the way things were done in Miami. Nonetheless, Cuba division officers in Langley and Miami worked together throughout 1963 on AMTRUNK and a variety of other projects designed to split the Castro regime. It seems clear that Castro was kept abreast of these developments thanks to his double agents inside AMTRUNK such as Cubela and Rabel.
Meanwhile, there were operations in Mexico City designed to recruit Cuban officers such as Lechuga, Proenza, and Azcue. Although none of these were successful, Mexico City and Miami learned a great deal of important information about their Cuban adversaries. During the height of the efforts to recruit Consul Azcue, a man called Lee Oswald arrived in Mexico City, trying to obtain instant visas to visit Cuba and the Soviet Union without having done any of the needed preparatory work.
Right at the moment that the man called Oswald was making his first visit to the Cuban consulate, something strange happened. There was a spooky phone call with a woman identified as Cuban consulate secretary Silvia Duran complaining that “he wants to speak to the consul”. At the end, the woman literally asked for her own telephone number. The background behind this spooky phone call leads us to the wiretap operations in Mexico City, and how the myth began about the Oswald and Duran phone call from the Cuban consulate to the Soviet consulate. That’s the terrain we can explore in the next chapter.
Proenza convinced Duran to quit as director of the Institute for Mexican-Cuban Cultural Relations in January 1963 because of Duran’s affair with Cuban ambassador Carlos Lechuga.
2 RFK and Harvey shared Ford as a case officer: See Interview with Charley Ford, 1975. NARA Record Number: 104-10303-10001. (Ford was given code name Fiscalini, and was answering to RFK). The same memo then reveals that Ford reported to Bill Harvey. Thus, Charley Ford is answering to two masters, RFK and Harvey, right before Cuban Missile Crisis. I don't think RFK knew...
3 Harvey started increasingly to refer to Bobby as “that fucker”: David Corn, Blond Ghost, p. 82; David Martin, Wilderness of Mirrors, p. 144.
4 Bobby said to Harvey 'I could train agents at my house in Virginia! And Harvey retorted 'as baby-sitters?’: Bayard Stockton, Flawed Patriot, p. 137.
5 Harvey resigned as Staff D chief, but he continued to work there…: He resigned as chief of Staff D in favor of his deputy chief Alex MacMillan in early 1963, but he stayed on at Staff D and at ZRRIFLE throughout 1963. The last Staff D memo that we see to Harvey is on October 11, 1963. Harvey was retained at ZRRIFLE until the end of 1963
7 Shackley said that Harvey never recovered from being fired: Spymaster, Ted Shackley, p. 69. His prodigious drinking began to surface as a serious and visible problem: Flawed Patriot, Bayard Stockton, p. 142.
8 Harvey complained that since a no-invasion deal had been cut with the Soviets in order to end the Cuban missile crisis, there would no longer be a "pretext of a current provocation" at Guantanamo: Memo from Bill Harvey to Director John McCone, 11/27/62, NARA Record Number: 104-10307-10024. On Bobby Kennedy’s consideration of such a provocation during the Cuban missile crisis: Evan Thomas, Robert Kennedy: His Life, pp. 213-214.
9 George McManus, the executive assistant to the CIA director, said that Bobby Kennedy, General Maxwell Taylor and other policy makers reviewed MONGOOSE and agreed that they would avoid a military intervention: Deposition of George McManus, 7/22/75, p. 17, SSCIA, NARA No. 157-10014-10072.
10 Prew was a man of action…: Bayard Stockton, Flawed Patriot, p. 127.
11 Before the Cuban Revolution, Proenza had made herself a lot of enemies in certain quarters as the secretary to famed muralist Diego Rivera and aide to Frida Kahlo: Re Diego Rivera: Memo from Legat, Mexico City, to Director, 11/6/70, FBI - HSCA Administrative Folders/NARA Record Number: 124-10369-10021.
12 It is intriguing that a 1960 report to the CIA was made by Maria del Carmen Rodriguez Casanova stating that Proenza was assigned to the Cuban embassy: Correlation of records on Maria Teresa Proenza y Proenza, 5/7/69, prepared by analyst Halene Crawford, FBI - HSCA Subject Files, O - P/FBI - HSCA Subject File: Maria Theresa Proenza/NARA Record Number: 124-10292-10321.
13 Neill Prew, like Potocki and other Harvey loyalists, was from the Berlin Base: See Bayard Stockton, Flawed Patriot, pp. 55-56, 126. Prew had Harvey's complete trust. As the officer referenced most often and generally first in order, Prew may be the point man “SAS 5” on the documents.
Anita Potocki was the person in charge of Staff D's resource list for communications intelligence. When investigators tried to find out if Staff D had any record of Oswald, they turned to Anita. She told them that she had no file on the man.
Like Ann Egerter, Anita and her husband Will had a reputation as molehunters within CI circles. Unlike Ann, they were not members of CI-SIG, but CI/OPS assisted CI/SIG. (See researcher Mary Ferrell's notes)
14 Prew, Potocki, and Di Santi were kept in the loop: These notes have the word “chrono”, some are noted as “RYBAT chrono”. In other words, a secret chronology.
1/8/63: Memorandum on Mexican-Cuban relations. Copied to Virginia, "Burton", name redacted, Anita.
1/9/63: Memorandum on Lechuga returning, Olivarri being "let go", Proenza convinces Duran to quit IMCRC for the “good of the revolution”; plan is to ask Concha Fernandez to cancel the orders of redacted to return. Copied to Prew, Anita, DeSanti.
Memorandum from Mexico City to Director, MEXI-3199, 1/25/63, HSCA Segregated CIA Collection, Box 16/NARA Record Number: 104-10073-10383. Report appears to be a case officer’s report of a discussion with cultural attaché Osmin Fernandez Concepcion. Rather than go back to Cuba, Fernandez wanted to stay in Mexico and paint. (DeSanti, Prew, Potocki)
This REDACTED memo describes the unnamed agent as a man who wants to settle down in Mexico and paint. This appears to be Osmin Fernandez.
Memorandum, Mexico City to Director, MEXI-3217, 1/26/63, HSCA Segregated CIA Collection, Box 16/NARA Record Number: 104-10073-10082. Fernandez comments that he is hoping for cancellation of orders so he can stay in Mexico. He is working well with Proenza. Conchita Fernandez, Castro’s secretary, may be his sister-in-law. (DeSanti, Prew, Potocki, “Gerri”)
Memorandum, Mexico City to Director, MEXI-3245, 1/30/63. HSCA Segregated CIA Collection, Box 16/NARA Record Number: 104-10073-10376. This is a meeting in Havana for ambassadors and cultural attaches to determine cultural policies. (DeSanti, Prew, Potocki, Hutchinson, REDACTED)
Memorandum, Mexico City to Director, MEXI-3262, 1/31/63, HSCA Segregated CIA Collection, Box 16/NARA Record Number: 104-10073-10374. Proenza warned that John David Posada would defect if was assigned to Paris. (Prew, Potocki, DeSanti, REDACTED)
Memorandum, Mexico City to Director, MEXI-3450, 2/5/63, HSCA Segregated CIA Collection, Box 16/NARA Record Number: 104-10073-10370. Fernandez does not want to go back to Havana, and absolutely will not go to Prague or Moscow. Has problem with moral grounds helping CIA while staying with brother and Conchita. (Prew, Potocki, DeSanti, “Gerri”) Prew signed at bottom.
Memorandum, Mexico City to Director, 2/7/63 Proenza rebuffed by Raul Roa, near tears, Azcue disillusioned with Roa – DeSanti, Prew, Anita and Feeney(?) copied on this memo. NARA Record Number: 104-10163-10024.
Memorandum, Mexico City to Director, 2/15/63, Proenza spoke to Conchita Fernandez about transfer. Prew, DeSanti, Anita, and Gerri on this "RYBAT chrono". NARA Record Number: 104-10073-10370.
Memorandum, Mexico City to Director, 2/26/63, Proenza and female informant are good friends. Potocki copied on this memo. NARA Record Number: 104-10073-10365.
16 Jim Hosty of the FBI told an interviewer: “(JURE) was the group they were going to use when they were going to overthrow Castro…: Lamar Waldron, re 1993 interview with Jim Hosty, Ultimate Sacrifice, pp. 161-162.
17 The CIA, for its part, had its ace agent AMTAUP-2 (Ernesto Alanis Angulo) providing dozens of reports on JURE: The most important agent that the CIA had within JURE was AMTAUP-2. Memorandum, Director to JMWAVE, 9/11/63, NARA Record Number: 104-10274-10402.
For a variety of reasons, I believe that this agent was Ernesto Alanis Angulo. Amtaup-2 and Cisneros were friends since 1956 (9/14/63 memo) when they were in July 26th movement fighting Batista in Camaguey. When JURE founded in late 1962, Cisneros asked A-2 to join. This date is when both Alanis and A-2 begin to appear in the CIA files. "Conversations usually take place privately with no one else present". Memorandum, JMWAVE to Director, 9/14/63, NARA Record Number: 104-10274-10400.
Alanis was part of the JURE Executive, where AMTAUP-2 claimed to sit. Memorandum, JMWAVE to Director, circa April 1963, NARA Record Number: 104-10182-10215.
Also see 11-29-62, where the rarely seen Amtaup-1 and the Alanis brothers visited the group UR (Unidad Revoutionario). I think the Alanis brothers were AMTAUP-1 and AMTAUP-2. Memorandum, JMWAVE to Director, 12/4/62, NARA Record Number: 104-10226-10220.
On 11/21/63, the day before the assassination, AMTAUP-2 was the one who reported one Manuel Rodriguez (Orcarberro - David Phillips' Alpha 66 contact, allegedly selected by Eloy Menoyo) living Dallas, Texas, was known to be violently anti-President Kennedy, met with exiles at 3126 Harlandale...But when passed on to FBI and Sec Service in Miami...treated as "rumor"
Did Cuban exile leader Eloy Menoyo predict it the day before 11/22?
The Dallas FBI’s Cuba specialist, Wally Heitman, claimed there were “No further details…”.
18 During this era, George Volsky’s proposal to split the Castro regime had currency. With Szulc’s support, Volsky’s plan was quickly adopted by the CIA: Memo on Jorge Ajbuszyc Volsky, 2/14/77, HSCA Segregated CIA Collection, Box 36/NARA Record Number: 1993.07.21.18:32:03:120470.
19 From the beginning, Manolo Ray of AMTRUNK and Cuban defector AMLEO-3 were key forces within AMTRUNK, even though it was supposed to be CIA-controlled: Memo from JMWAVE to Director, 2/20/63, HSCA Segregated CIA Collection, Box 36/NARA Record Number: 104-10103-10348 (AMLEO-3). For Ray, see later in this chapter.
20 The would-be defector Rolando Cubela also came back into view: Memo from Paris Station to Director, JMWAVE, 5/16/63, NARA Record Number: 104-10215-10190. There was some kind of professional relationship and/or friendship between AMSPORT and Cubela. A note defines the slugline KEYWAY, frequently seen in Cubela memos during 1962-1963, as a “EUR action indicator”: HSCA Segregated CIA Collection, Box 9/NARA Record Number: 104-10061-10115.
Ray provided information on a variety of subjects, including on how to recruit various Cuban officials in Paris and Brussels, and an ambassador in particular. HSCA Report, Volume 10, p. 139.
Ray was also a particular favorite of the Puerto Rican governor Munoz, which aided his value to the CIA. Memo from TFW/Special Assistant Alfonso Rodriguez, to C/TFW William Harvey, 7/12/62: HSCA Segregated CIA Collection (microfilm - reel 15: Manuel Ray)/NARA Record Number: 104-10179-10156.
Ray’s #2 man Rogelio Cisneros, aka “Eugenio” provided information on how Manolo Ray planned to infiltrate a trusted man into the CIA. Cisneros was on the CIA payroll between 1960 and 1965. Memorandum for the Record, (REDACTED – I believe the author is Alfonso Rodriguez) 5/10/65, HSCA Segregated CIA Collection (microfilm - reel 4: Cherne - Conte)/NARA Record Number: 104-10165-10019.
Another JURE officer, Reinaldo Pico (AMICE-31), provided information on Ray and Cisneros’ plans to infiltrate Cuba. HSCA Segregated CIA Collection (microfilm - reel 2: Artime - Barker)/NARA Record Number: 104-10163-10435.
22 FitzGerald got a note from the psychological warfare chief that this is the “long-awaited memo on Castro death contingency”: Memo dated 5/10/63, 104-10307-10022, p. 8; routing slip dated 5/13/63 from “SB”, psychological warfare chief Seymour Bolten, 104-10307-10019; see study of possible Soviet reactions to Castro’s death, 104-10307-10021, also JFK support for “increasing internal resistance, especially those leading to a coup”, 11/12/63, 104-10307-10008.
23 The plan for an “internal coup” was finally proposed by the CIA to the Joint Chiefs in June 1963, saying that “several promising operations are already underway”, and received JFK’s approval on June 19: “Proposed Covert Policy and Integrated Program of Action Towards Cuba”, 6/8/63, Taylor Papers/NARA Record Number: 202-10002-10014.
Also see “Alleged Assassination Plots Involving Foreign Leaders”, p. 173.
24 Morales had “recruited, safehoused, and "exfiltrated (Artime) black" in Havana in 1959: Memo from JMWAVE to Director, 1/3/63, HSCA Segregated CIA Collection (microfilm - reel 1: Manuel Artime Buesa)/NARA Record Number: 104-10240-10395.
Morales brought Artime to the USA with the aid of CIA officers Howard Hunt and Gerald Droller: See the Personal Record Questionnaire, II, for Manuel Artime, HSCA Segregated CIA Collection (microfilm - reel 1: Manuel Artime Buesa)/NARA Record Number: 104-10162-10195.
25 The plan to create this junta in exile was picked up by the Associated Press as early as May 1963: “Cuban Exiles in New Drive for Unity to Topple Castro”, New York Times, 5/11/63, citing 5-10-63 AP report.
26 Morales, Shackley, and Hecksher (using his pseudonym “Nelson L. Raynock”) got together with Artime to plan AMWORLD on June 23, 1963: Memo from JMWAVE to Director, 6/25/63, HSCA Segregated CIA Collection (microfilm - reel 1: Manuel Artime Buesa)/NARA Record Number: 104-10241-10144.
Hecksher knew this territory; he hand-carried a message from AMCALL-1/Reynol Gonzalez back in 1960.
27 Bernard Barker of Watergate fame was to serve as AMWORLD’s principal, with “important and investigative duties…He will be in charge of a Cuban underground organization, managing and directing its political and paramilitary effectiveness.”: PRQ II prepared by Henry Hecksher, re Bernard Barker, 9/27/63, HSCA Segregated CIA Collection (microfilm - reel 2: Artime - Barker)/NARA Record Number: 104-10237-10127.
28 Sanchez had the “internal” beat, which meant AMTRUNK and “essentially Cubela”. Henry Hecksher had the “external” assignment, which meant AMWORLD and “essentially Artime”: Interview of Don Bohning with Nestor Sanchez, referred to in Bohning’s The Castro Obsession, p. 221.
29 A 1977 CIA study reviews these operations very carefully, dusting off the old codename of “Higher Authority” to refer to JFK: “Operations to Split the Castro Regime”, interim working draft, 2/10/77, reviews policy papers from the TFW era, particularly “Efforts to Split the Castro Regime” which may have been written by Harvey. See how the 1977 review dusts off the phrase “Higher Authority” Bill Harvey’s November 1962 good-bye memo, cited above, uses the same phrase repeatedly.
Harvey died on 6/9/76. Bayard Stockton, Flawed Patriot, p. 301. Desmond Fitzgerald also used “Higher Authority”: Memo for the Record, 6/19/63, LA Division Work File/NARA Record Number: 104-10307-10014.
30 One of the key tools needed for such a coup was “maximum intelligence and counterintelligence”: “Operational Plan for Continuing Operations Against Cuba”, 11/27/62, p. 5, HSCA Segregated CIA Collection, Box 36/NARA Record Number: 104-10103-10079.
31 After Task Force W became the Special Affairs Section (SAS) in early 1963, Harvey’s successor Desmond Fitzgerald agreed with this assessment: Memorandum to the DCI from Desmond Fitzgerald, p. 11, March 1963, HSCA Segregated CIA Collection, Box 36/NARA Record Number: 104-10103-10086.
32 Goodpasture wrote that “a major objective of station operations is the recruitment of personnel in the Cuban Embassy”: “Extracts of CIA Inspector General’s Survey Report for 1964”, Miscellaneous CIA Series/NARA Record Number: 104-10301-10010.
33 “Efforts to Split the Regime” recounts that as of 1962, eleven Cuban officials had defected since the revolution, mostly from the Cuban embassy in Mexico City, but they weren’t sure whether Rolando Cubela was really a defector or not: “GYROSE Progress Report on Defection and Recruitment Activities of Station Mexico”, from Mexico City station, HMMA-19325, 7/10/62, HSCA Segregated CIA Collection, Box 36/NARA Record Number: 104-10103-10075.
For a list of the Cuban officers in 1963, see State Department telegram from Ambassador Thomas Mann to Secretary of State, re “Cuban Diplomatic and Commercial Officers”, 1/21/63, DEPCERTEL 1259, HSCA Segregated CIA Collection, Box 16/NARA Record Number: 1993.07.16.11:20:07:840530.
Also see “Cuban Travel and Diplomatic Activities in Mexico”, Document Transfer and Cross Reference re Maria Teresa Proenza, 200-9-44, 3/25/63, HSCA Segregated CIA Collection, Box 16/NARA Record Number: 1993.07.16.08:24:48:840530.
Another list is Report EE-390, by Carlos Blanco, “Background Information on Current Personnel of the Cuban Embassy in Mexico”, 6/28/63. HSCA Segregated CIA Collection, Box 56/NARA Record Number: 1993.08.11.19:26:30:560007.
Yet another list from 1960:
Between these lists, the Cuban officials are listed as:
Jorge Fernandez Armas – Ambassador to Mexico, 201-301755
Eusebio Azcue – Consul, 201-334089
Ramon Sinobas Casado – 1st Secretary – Charge D’Affaires, 201-334348?
Andres Armona Ramos – Commercial Counsellor, 201-333236
Jose Antonio Garcia Lara – Commercial Attache, 201-328388
Benigno Carlos Castellar Sanchez – Commercial Attache, 201-728889
Oscar Concepcion Mendoza – Commercial Attache, 201-729530
Teresa Proenza – Third Secretary, Cultural Attache, 201-291531
Jose Miguel Fernandez Roa – Third Secretary, 201-330852
Peregrino Alfonso Raldonedo – Third Secretary, 201-340334
Rodolfo Paez Perez – Third Secretary
Luis Alberu Souto – Cultural Attache, 201-329609, LITAMIL-9
Manuel Vega Perez – Attache, 201-334253
Pedro Lara Munoz – Attache
Armando Sardinas Garcia – Attache
Buenventura Reyes Acosta – Secretario Privado
Luisa Calderon Carralero – Secretaria – Commercial Office, 201-
Justo Urbieta Gonzalez (Spaniard) – Assistant at Commercial Office
Felice Rojas – Assistant to Proenza in Press Affairs
Jose Llacostera Garcia – Majordomo
Heberto Jorrin Munoz – Portero
Manuel Sanchez Ramirez – Secretary to Ambassador
Maricarmen Olivarri (Spanish) – consul’s secretary (died summer 63, replaced by Duran)
Rolando Conde Figueroa – houseboy
Julio Conde Figueroa – cook
Consuelo Esperon Perez (Mexican) – Secretary, Protocol, 201-330173, LITAMIL-7
Alejandro Rodriguez – chauffeur, 201-738858
LITAMIL-7 was Consuela Esperon. Her 201 number is here: Note the reference to her 201 number, 201-330173.
Alberu was also identified as 201-329609:
Carlos Lechuga – Ambassador (201-262106)
Ana Maria Blanco – Secretary
Radulfo Paez – Secretary
Teresa Proenza – Secretary
Ostnin Fernandez Concepcion – Auxilar Servicio Exterior
Luis Alberu – “
Manuel E. Vega – “
Manuel Sanchez Ramirez – “
Carlos de la Paz Ramirez – “
Julio Conde Figueredo – Empleados por contratacion
Rolando Conde Figueredo – “
Jesus Diaz Perez –
Heberto Jorrin –
Jose Llagostera –
Eusebio Azcue – Consul , Mexico City
Jose Luis Posada – Consul, Vera Cruz
Buenaventura Reyes Acosta – Auxilar Servicio Exterior
Mariano Garcia Perez – Consul, Merida
Daisy Acosta – Auxilar Servicio Exterior
Luis Menes Lafita – “
Jose Raul Acosta Campuzano – Consul, Tampico
Wilfredo G. Ramirez – Auxilar Servicio Exterior
Gus Russo has a list of Cuban intelligence personnel at Brothers in Arms, p. 281.
LITAMIL-9 may be the 9-letter word redacted regarding a 2/16/63 incident with Juana Castro…
A write-up analyzing these employees in May, 1962 by a “member of the Cuban Embassy staff in Mexico City”. The cover page indicates that it is a man who provided it to his case officer, and the next page indicates that a female agent “(F)” assembled it: Field Information Report, HMM-6396, 5/22/62, HSCA Segregated CIA Collection, Box 15/NARA Record Number: 1993.08.03.20:19:48:180033.
Carlos Lechuga – the new ambassador to Mexico (201-262106)
Ramon Cesar Cuanca Montoto – Commercial Attache
Ramon Sinobas Casado – First Secretary
Radulfo Paez Perez – Third Secretary
Luis Alberu Souto – Cultural Attache
Manuel Vega Perez – Diplomatic Attache
Jose Antonio “Nico” Garcia Lara – commercial office
Justo Urbista Gonzalez – commercial office
Osmir Fernandez Concepcion – Cultural Attache (201-40662)
Manolo – gatekeeper
The CIA describes Mexico City as Cuba’s only air link with the Western Hemisphere.
34 Rabel (cryptonym AMLEO-3) provided the lead that led to the recruitment of Guin: Memo on Jose Ricardo Rabel Nunez, 1/14/77, HSCA Segregated CIA Collection/HSCA Segregated CIA Collection, Box 36/NARA Record Number: 104-10103-10350.
35 Ramon Guin Diaz was AMTRUNK-10 and principal military recruiter: Memo by Edward P. Brown, Chief, CI/OA to Paul Maggio, 10/1/63, HSCA Segregated CIA Collection (microfilm - reel 19: AMTRUNK, AMWHIP-1, AMMUG-1, Win Scott)/NARA Record Number: 104-10247-10175.
Ramon Guin is 201-142291.
Although virtually all the CIA references to AMTRUNK-10 refer to Guin, a CIA index card indicates that AMTRUNK-10 was Oscar Chauvell Barrilar. I assume this name was a pseudonym. AMTRUNK Chronology, 4/77, HSCA Segregated CIA Collection (microfilm - reel 48: Defectors, 201 Files, CI/SIG, IG Report, AMTRUNK, Ortiz, ...)/NARA Record Number: 104-10213-10262.
36 In a television interview on May 10, 1963 with ABC’s Lisa Howard, Castro said that he was willing to reach such a rapprochement: Alan Gill, January 25, 1964, TV Guide; see http://www.larry-hancock.com/documents/index.html, Exhibit 7-5.
37 Chaired by General Maxwell Taylor, the Joint Chiefs declared their belief “that US military intervention in Cuba is necessary” and wanted to lead that effort: Joint Chiefs of Staff, “Courses of Action Related to Cuba (Case II),” Report of the J-5 to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, 1 May 1963, NARA Number: 202-10002-10018. I note that the JCS indicates that they want to lead this effort, and seek approval from the Special Group (5412) pursuant to NSAM 57.
Peter Dale Scott has a good essay about this memo, known in one of its iterations as JCS 2304/189.
38 The brothers were known as GPIDEAL (JFK) and GPFOCUS (RFK). General Taylor was known as GPPHOTO. LBJ was known as GPLOGIC: The context of the documents readily reveal the identities of GPIDEAL, GPFOCUS and GPPHOTO as JFK, RFK, and Maxwell Taylor. Here’s the evidence that LBJ was GPLOGIC. On 7/65, Irving Davidson connected with cuban exiles working with OAS. The memo states that Davidson was acting on "orders from GPLOGIC" but not as active as before. Guillermo Belt Ramirez - former Cuban ambassador to US... leader of OAS group, said GPLOGIC had left word with him all was well, and that the question of Cubans in the Inter-American Force should be left for Rio conference. Memorandum from JMWAVE to Director, 7/22/65, NARA Record Number: 104-10216-10067.
This memo shows Davidson still part of Cuban exile group going to the Dominican Republic as part of the OAS force. Davidson is still acting "on orders from Lyndon Johnson, but that Davidson is not as active as before." NARA Record Number: 124-10301-10034.
After the assassination, the investigation was known initially as GPFLOOR.
39 At the base, field commander Jack Gordon was working with Alonzo Gonzalez, who was talking about killing Castro: Memorandum for Record by Mason Cargill re John Gordon, 5/29/75, pp. 1-2, Rockefeller Commission Files/NARA Record Number: 178-10002-10320. Adolpho Gonzalez Mendoza disappeared in 1962 after this incident.
40 Fabian Escalante states that Alfredo Izaguirre de la Riva was the leader of Operation Patty: Fabian Escalante, The Secret War, pp. 89-93; Claudia Furiati, ZRRIFLE, pp. 35-36. Also see John Goldsmith, materials from Course on the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy, 1994-1995, Chapter 5, page 16 of 35.
41 Izaguirre’s cryptonym was AMPUG-1: Izaguirre is 201-273550. (Izaguirre was paid off for his services in 1980, after his prison release) This additional memo states that “AMPUG-1 number 201-273350”. It’s a reasonable deduction that Izaguirre’s pseudonym was AMPUG-1.
42 Izaguirre was working under the control of a Navy lieutenant commander, who was apparently Feeney: Warren Hinckle and Bill Turner, Deadly Secrets, 1992, p. 114.
43 CIA documents show that Izaguirre was arrested on July 22, four days before the planned attack: John Goldsmith, materials from Course on the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy, 1994-1995, Chapter 5, page 16 of 35.
44 Balbuena told the Miami police in April 1963 that he “was involved in an attempt to assassinate Fidel Castro” and had to take sanctuary in Guantanamo when Operation Patty was busted by Cuban intelligence: Warren Hinckle and Bill Turner, Deadly Secrets, pp. 114-115.
The cryptonym for the Guantanamo naval base appears to be YOACRE.
The two Operation Patty leaders were MBRONC-5 (Octavio Barreros) and AMJAVA-4 (Rafael Quintero). Quintero is better known for his involvement in the Iran-Contra affair and his never-proven claim that he knew the story about behind the death of JFK. This document says that AMBRONC-5 was arrested on 5/29/62 and executed on 8/30/62.
Comments on AMBRONC-5 can be found in Comments on Book V, Released as sanitized 1999, HSCA Segregated CIA Collection (microfilm - reel 48: Defectors, 201 Files, CI/SIG, IG Report, AMTRUNK, Ortiz, ...)/NARA Record Number: 104-10213-10079.
Also see AMOT memo, 9/29/61, HSCA Segregated CIA Collection (microfilm - reel 52: De Mohrenschildt - Hall)/NARA Record Number: 1994.04.26.09:46:28:100005. (MRP is the only anti-Castro group inside Cuba that is working on a national scale)
Octavio Barreros was the leader of Unidad, and was also known as “Cesar”. Memo from JMRIMM to BELL, 6/12/61, Reel 52, Folder J – Reinol Gonzales, NARA Record Number: 1994.04.26.09:46:28:100005.
46 Modesett and Commander Hal Feeney of ONI at Guantanamo have in the past loaned considerable assistance to counter-revolutionary groups: Memo, 4/3/62, JMWAVE to Task Force W, Reel 2, Folder L – CIA Files on Luis Balbuena, NARA Record Number: 1994.03.08.09:29:40:280007.
Another version of this memo eliminates the redactions, but doesn’t contain Harvey’s note to his deputy Bruce Cheever.
47 CM was a small, elite, anti-Castro force financed by the CIA: Ted Shackley, Spymaster, pp. 73-76. Also see Scott Van Wynsberghe, “Dead Suspects – Part 4”, Third Decade¸ July 1987. The cryptonym for Cuban infiltration operations such as Comandos Mambises was AMLILAC.
48 It seems certain that the reason that AMTRUNK continued was because of the Kennedys’ strong support and because the key coordinator of AMTRUNK was the Department of the Army and not the CIA: “Talking Paper for Use of the JCS”, p. 3, Col. J. Hawkins, USMC, circa September 1963, Army - Califano Papers/NARA Record Number: 198-10004-10203.
See the accompanying flowchart, Chart No. 8, showing the Department of the Army effectively in charge of Cuban operations.
Also see Peter Dale Scott, “The Kennedy-CIA Divergence Over Cuba”, Deep Politics III, Chapter 5.
49 Shackley went so far as to label AMTRUNK as an anti-CIA operation as early as April 1963…: WAVE dispatch 8351 by JMWAVE chief Theodore Shackley, 4/5/63; HQ response on 4/10/63. Summarized in Scott, id.,
Volsky bears watching as a possible communist agent: See memo from Theodore Shackley to Desmond Fitzgerald, UFGA-17410, 8/24/64, HSCA Segregated CIA Collection, Box 36/NARA Record Number: 104-10103-10110.
50 There are strong signs that it was also riddled with Cuban government informants, such as AMTRUNK-9 (Modesto Orlando Orozco Basulto), who re-defected back to Cuba after JFK’s death:
Suspicion of AMTRUNK-9 (Modesto Orlando Orozco Basulto): “AMTRUNK Operation, Interim Working Draft 2/14/77”, author unknown, HSCA Segregated CIA Collection, Box 34/NARA Record Number: 104-10102-10226.
CIA study showing Orozco was one of three key AMTRUNK informants in Cuba in September 1963: “Comments on Book V, SSC Final Report, The Investigation of the Assassination of President Kennedy: Performance of the Intelligence Agencies”, “CIA Operations Against Cuba”, p. 9, HSCA Segregated CIA Collection, Box 36/NARA Record Number: 104-10103-10359.
51 Ray was vocal about his dislike for the “Jimmies” (former Cuban station chief Jim Noel, pseudo Woodrow C. Olien) and the “Benders”…: (WH covert action chief Gerry Droller, pseudo Frank Bender), Memo from JMWAVE to Director, 12/5/62, HSCA Segregated CIA Collection (microfilm - reel 15: Manuel Ray)/NARA Record Number: 104-10274-10326.
52 “Mambises” were the people fighting Spain for the liberation of Cuba: Translation, “Basic Documents of the Organizing Committee of the Liberation Army of Cuba” (The ELC), June 1962, p. 6, NARA Record Number: 124-10286-10265.
53 Castro knew that these attacks were being conducted by CM. He addressed the Cuban people at great length on the nature of CM’s terrorism: See speech by Fidel Castro, 10/31/63, p. 7; Warren Commission Document 1462, p. 113.
See, generally, Peter Dale Scott, “The Kennedy-CIA Divergence over Cuba”, endnotes 64 and 124.
54 Historian John Prados accurately describes Comandos Mambises as Shackley’s “phony Cuban exile group”: John Prados, Safe for Democracy, p. 318.
Comandos Mambises has a prominent reference in the “Cuban Counterrevolutionary Handbook”, p. 4, August 1965 edition. NARA Record Number: 1993.08.05.10:41:34:710005.
55 Grayston Lynch, a prominent leader at the Bay of Pigs, stated that he was CM’s case officer: Grayston Lynch, Decision for Disaster: Betrayal at the Bay of Pigs, p. 173.
56 Shackley and Morales would plan these raids while hanging out at Shackley’s pool in the evenings: Ted Shackley, Spymaster (2005), p. 72. See an excerpt from the book at the Spartacus International website, Ted Shackley page, Note 11.
57 The LITAMIL network was created by by a Mexico City station officer during the 1959-1960 period: Ann Goodpasture, Mexico City Station History Excerpts (MCSHE), pp. 227-228, Russ Holmes Work File/NARA Record Number: 104-10414-10124; Memo from Robert W. Gambino, Director of Security, to Principal Coordinator/HSCA Matters Scott Breckinridge, 7/21/78, HSCA Segregated CIA Collection, Box 41/NARA Record Number: 104-10113-10404. Alberu is OS #279 089; Esperon is OS# 280 142.
58 Esperon was known as LITAMIL-7: HSCA Film, Russ Holmes Work File/NARA Record Number: 104-10431-10003. Esperon had been a Mexican shorthand typist at the Cuban embassy since about 1945, with no apparent interest in politics.
Here’s a very brief report indicating that Esperon met with CIA contacts in July 1963. Note the reference to her biographical number, 201-330173. Also see her personal record questionnaire, or what was known in the trade as a PRQ.
See the reference to Alberu’s Office of Security number “279089” being used as early as 1962 at Newman, Oswald and the CIA, p. 521.
Alberu’s biographical file number was 201-329609.
See a PRQ for Alberu at Newman, Oswald and the CIA, p. 522.
A 1967 memo describes him as a Cuban defector in place, which means that Alberu had effectively defected from Cuba even though he still worked for the Cuban government. Persuading someone to “defect in place” is considered to be one of the greatest prizes in intelligence.
60 There was a contingent of officers from Headquarters’ Cuban division inside the Mexico City station: Testimony of Sam Halpern, 4/22/76, Church Committee Boxed Files/ NARA Record Number: 157-10014-10008.
See George Michael Evica, A Certain Arrogance, p. 46; see the CIA Inspector General’s report on Cubela.
61 As a penetration agent, Alberu helped identify faces in photos for the CIA: Draft of Lopez Report, HSCA Segregated CIA Collection (staff notes)/NARA Record Number: 180-10147-10235. The documents that depict Alberu making these identifications generally refer to him as LITAMIL-9.
Alberu and Esperon are the two sources cited in this 11/28/63 memo about Silvia Duran. Memo from L.F. Barker (Phillips) to CIA HQ, MEXI-7115, 11/28/63, 104-10404-10159. LITAMIL-9 and LITAMIL-7 are identified on the memo cover sheet and referenced in the memo itself.
LITAMIL-9 had done some serious footwork earlier that year within the Cuban embassy, at the request of Cuban officer Ramon Sinobas.
LIONION was the cryptonym for the Cuban Embassy.
63 Hensen then met with the CIA agent at a restaurant, while Shaw (aka “Lawrence Barker”) sat at a nearby table to take in the action: Look at Item #10, showing that "Lawrence F. Barker" apparently is Robert Shaw, not David Phillips as has been reported in the past. Match the cards with numbers in the subject card file with the numbers in this black notebook provided by the CIA to the HSCA.
64 While other escapades with Americans are recounted in the station’s monthly LIENVOY report, no mention is made of the station’s sport with Hensen: Monthly Operational Report for Project LIENVOY, July 1963, Russ Holmes Work File/NARA Record Number: 104-10413-10271. Also see David Phillips, The Night Watch.
65 The Western Hemisphere chief cautioned the station that the Hensen stunt was a good way to tip off the Cubans that there was a tap operation listening to them: Dispatch from WHD chief J.C. King to Win Scott, HMMW-11831, 8/6/63, Russ Holmes Work File/NARA Record Number: 104-10413-10066.
66 Jeremy Gunn, an attorney for the AARB, said that sometimes the Mexico City station would work this stunt the other way by listening to a tapped call and then calling back the embassy and pretending to be the previous caller: Interview of Jeremy Gunn by Gus Russo, 9/8/03, recounted in Russo’s Brothers in Arms.
67 “Castro’s executive secretary Conchita Fernandez”: Newman, Oswald and the CIA, p. 111.
68 There is two photographs of Osmin Fernandez in the Cuban mugbooks: Cuban Mugbook, Volume 3, #339, depicts Osmin Fernandez Concepcion.
photo, name and 201 number (210-334092) and security file number 114063. NARA Record Number: 1993.07.19.16:37:26:620280. Also a reference to his name and security number in Cuban Mugbook, Volume 1, #374 and a second photo.
69 LITAMIL-3 has been described as a CIA source with more than 30 years of diplomatic experience inside the Cuban consulate: Cable from Mexico City to “Bell” at WAVE, 4/19/61, HSCA Segregated CIA Collection (microfilm - reel 62: Rockefeller Commission, CRC)/NARA Record Number: 104-10297-10043.
70 Osmin’s 201-334092 file number is just digits away from Azcue’s 201-334089: HSCA Segregated CIA Collection, Box 15/ NARA Record Number: 1993.08.02.19:23:48:810033. I will say that Osmin’s file number, 201-334092, could be 201-334012, but in any instance it’s still very close to Azcue’s file number. Possible future leads can be found in a 1962 drama involving Osmin Fernandez and American agent June Cobb.
71 Azcue had been active in the Spanish Civil War and with French intelligence: Re Spanish Civil War background, see undated bio sheet on Azcue, created after November 1963, Reel 2, Folder F, HSCA Segregated CIA Collection (microfilm - reel 2: Artime - Barker)/NARA Record Number: 1994.03.07.15:38:13:120007.
72 Before Castro came to power, Azcue was in a pro-Castro group that had sent guns and ammo through Venezuela into the Sierra: Memo re Azcue, unidentified CIA author quoting a source, 2/8/63, pp. 173, 189; Reel 2, Folder F, NARA Record Number: 1994.03.07.15:38:13:120007.
73 While sitting as a consul at the Cuban embassy in 1962, Azcue said that he would leave the embassy if Cuba were to become a terrorist state: Contact Reports to Chief, WH Division and Chief, JMWAVE, 8/3/62, Reel 2, Folder F, NARA Record Number: 1994.03.07.15:38:13:120007.
74 During 1961, Casas felt free to confide to his old friend Azcue that he planned to defect from Cuba: Memo from Chief of Task Force W (William Harvey) to Chief of Station, JMWAVE (Ted Shackley), UFGA-1574, 1/3/63, re Casas (201-327702), HSCA Segregated CIA Collection (microfilm - reel 2: Artime - Barker)/NARA Record Number: 104-10163-10182.
It’s clear that the same contact is interviewed at length in the Memorandum of Contact re Redacted in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, SAS/CI “GP”, 5/16/63, p. 2, LX-320, HSCA Segregated CIA Collection (microfilm - reel 2: Artime - Barker)/NARA Record Number: 104-10163-10019.
This 1966 memo identifies the subject of the 5/16/63 memo cited above as Jose Antonio Casas Rodriguez: Memo from C/RR to C/FI, 2/18/66, HSCA Segregated CIA Collection (microfilm)/HSCA Segregated CIA Collection (microfilm - reel 2: Artime - Barker)/NARA Record Number: 104-10163-10002.
75 All three of Harvey’s people were counterintelligence officers from the Cuban desk at Langley, known as SAS/CI: On Harvey’s relationships with Neill Prew and the Potockis, see Bayard Stockton, Flawed Patriot, pp. 55-56, 126 (Prew), and 295 (the Potockis).
76 LITAMIL-3 reported in January 1963 that consul Eusebio Azcue’s wife did not want their son to go to Cuba to study…: Memo from Win Scott to Fitzgerald, 8/16/63, HSCA Segregated CIA Collection (microfilm - reel 2: Artime - Barker)/NARA Record Number: 104-10163-10014.
77 By March, LITAMIL-3 said that Azcue’s wife was going to refuse to return to Cuba: Document transfer and cross-reference file on Azcue and several sources: HSCA Segregated CIA Collection (microfilm - reel 2: Artime - Barker)/NARA Record Number: 104-10163-10033.
More redacted version: HSCA Segregated CIA Collection (microfilm - reel 2: Artime - Barker)/NARA Record Number: 1994.03.07.15:38:13:120007.
In fact, Scott knew back in August 1962 that Mrs. Azcue did not want to return to Cuba. Whether L-3 was the source will have to await further releases: Memo from Win Scott to Chief, WH Division, 8/3/62, HMMA-19505, HSCA Segregated CIA Collection (microfilm - reel 2: Artime - Barker)/NARA Record Number: 104-10163-10029.
Azcue’s wife was Carmen Bilbao Olivares de Azcue.
For more information on Azcue, look for LITAMIL-7 and 8 reports. I am not certain if all of these documents are available in the National Archives. I only found a couple on MFF.
78 Win Scott noted that Senora Azcue went to great lengths to illegally get boxes of medicine on a plane to an anti-Castro doctor: Memo from COS Win Scott to SAS Chief Desmond Fitzgerald, 6/25/63, HSCA Segregated CIA Collection (microfilm)/HSCA Segregated CIA Collection (microfilm - reel 2: Artime - Barker)/NARA Record Number: 104-10163-10018.
79 A long-time friend of Azcue, Casas suggested that Azcue be told that Fidel was responsible for the death of Azcue’s close friend Manolo Castro: Memorandum of Contact, 5/16/63, p. 3, HSCA Segregated CIA Collection (microfilm - reel 2: Artime - Barker)/NARA Record Number: 104-10163-10019.
Jose Antonio Casas Rodriguez, 201-327702, lived in Harrisburg, PA and is the subject of the above redacted report. See the date of the contact as “16 May 1963” and this description of them as “long-time friends”: See this reference to the original document:
Casas had previously provided information about Azcue in January 1963, his name can just be made out in the third line of paragraph 6.
80 On July 18, SAS/CI officer who appears to be L. Demos stated that CIAHQ was “extremely interested” in recruiting Azcue: HQ memo (originating officer “SAS/CI”) to Mexico City Station, 7/18/63, Reel 2, Folder F, NARA Record Number: 1994.03.07.15:38:13:120007.
The originator of the memo below also appears to be SAS/CI L. Demos, as it was written just six months earlier than the file in the next paragraph in this footnote and the author has the same telephone extension (“4323”).
To find “LDemos”, see routing sheet and also see signature page of 1/9/64 memo, HSCA Segregated CIA Collection (microfilm - reel 6: De Torres - Diosdado)/NARA Record Number: 104-10260-10179.
Six months later, on 7/23/64, the author is now referred to as WH/SA/CI/LDemos. This may be because SAS lost its autonomy and returned to the Western Hemisphere division in the wake of JFK’s death, rather than in 1965 as I have heard reported.
81 On August 16, Win Scott decided to try to recruit Azcue despite his reputation as virtually unrecruitable…: Memo from Win Scott to Fitzgerald, 8/16/63, HSCA Segregated CIA Collection (microfilm - reel 2: Artime - Barker)/NARA Record Number: 104-10163-10014.
This memo was reviewed by a number of officers, with the last four examining this memo in the week before Oswald’s arrival to Mexico: SAS/ESC, SAS/EOB, SAS/CI, SAS/MOB/FI, Dave Ronis of SAS/EOB, and SAS/CI/REDACTED.
Routing slip for HMMA-21978, 8/16/63, NARA Record Number: 124-10369-10063.
82 In June 1963, SR/CI/A Bright was working in Headquarters as an analyst: Bright to Mexico City, 6/10/63, HSCA Segregated CIA Collection (microfilm - reel 50: Alpizar - Cubela)/NARA Record Number: 104-10215-10020.
83 Bakulin did not know that LINEB-1 was a double agent working for the CIA and the FBI as well as the USSR: Biography of Valentin Bakulin, (thin, blond, blue eyes). His ID number with the Office of Security was A-18482. NARA Record Number: 104-10215-10015.
“Determine if Bakulin is actually vulnerable…”: Memo from Mexico City to Director, 5/27/63, NARA Record Number: 104-10215-10022.
Bill Bright, Memo for the Record on Bakulin’s history with LINEB-1, May 1963, NARA Record Number: 104-10215-10266.
Index card chronology on Bakulin and LINEB-1, 1959-1963, NARA Record Number: 104-10295-10061.
84 Over the next month, as part of the LAROB operation, Bright reported that the FBI brought Bakulin together with an American Airlines agent (LAROB) and was successful in enticing Bakulin to recruit: FBI initiates meeting with Mexico City, 7/13/63, NARA Record Number: 104-10215-10019.
85 Bright was treated in a very sensitive manner as an “independent agent”, and kept away from the Mexican monitors at LIENVOY who could have reported his presence to their superiors: I believe that Bright’s alias was Orville Horsfall (a translator of Russian and Spanish, who arrived in Mexico on August 6, 1963). We know Bright was born on 6/17/33. He died on 6/9/11.
86 Angleton’s response had been to write a memo in June 1963 saying there was no proof to support the claim that Kostikov was part of Department 13: Memo from J. Edgar Hoover to CIA Director John McCone, 9/1/64, ADMIN FOLDER-X6: HSCA ADMINISTRATIVE FOLDER, CIA REPORTS LHO, p. 51, NARA No: 124-10369-10063.
88 On September 3, JMWAVE chief Ted Shackley sent a report directed to Fitzgerald, with copies to Scott and J. C. King. This report incorporates a four page memo reported to AMOT case officer Tony Sforza by “AMOT-106”: Memo from Ted Shackley to Chief, Special Affairs Staff Desmond Fitzgerald, p. 3, HSCA Segregated CIA Collection (microfilm - reel 2: Artime - Barker)/NARA Record Number: 104-10163-10265.
This memo by SAS officer Charles W. Anderson affirms that Sforza was an AMOT case officer at time of JFK assassination: Memorandum for the Record by SAS/SO Charles W. Anderson (identified by his room 3D02), p. 4, 3/22/77, Russ Holmes Work File/NARA Record Number: 104-10423-10226.
Note that Shackley’s report may actually have been written by SAS/CI Guy Vitale: Id., p. 1 (“cross-reference to Vitale” on bottom of page).
89 Azcue’s cousin died in a car accident: Azcue’s cousin is referred to alternatively as “Irmita”, Maria del Carmen, or Maricarmen Olavarri: Memo re statements of Duran from her November 1963 interrogations: HSCA Segregated CIA Collection, Box 34/NARA Record Number: 104-10102-10145.
The closest to an original statement by Duran that is available is an untrustworthy translation of her 11/23/63 interrogation, provided by DFS Asst. Chief Fernando Barrios on 3/26/64: NARA Record Number: 1993-05-17-18.01.09.000020.
90 On September 9, a report from JMWAVE chief Ted Shackley states that Azcue’s old friend AMKNOB-1 reports that Azcue expects to be replaced as consul: “Operational/TYPIC, AMKNOB-1 Information on Cuban Matters”, dispatch from Chief, JMWAVE Ted Shackley to Chief, SAS Desmond Fitzgerald, UFGA-11065, 9/9/63, HSCA Segregated CIA Collection (microfilm - reel 17: Ruiz - Webster)/NARA Record Number: 104-10181-10299.
Note that a frequent pseudonym for Shackley is “Andrew K. Reuteman”, as shown here in a 1964 memo with the Reuteman signature for the JMWAVE chief. Shackley served as JMWAVE chief from 1962 to 1965.
91 A CIA memo named Azcue as AMKNOB-1’s former case officer: Memo from JMWAVE to Director, WAVE 9679, 12/27/63, p. 2, Oswald 201 File, Vol 1/NARA Record Number: 104-10019-10017. (IDEN C – “ex-AMKNOB-1 case officer”)
Also see JMWAVE to Director, WAVE 9680, 12/27/63, NARA Record Number: 104-10019-10016. (Azcue is identified as IDEN C)
92 I am convinced that AMKNOB-1was Santiago Garriga, a State Department employee: Here’s the background and timeline on the intriguing Santiago Garriga:
11/21/63: DIR 84449 (I can only find a summary of this document) states that HQ sent memo to WAVE that a State Department employee was being targeted by Cuban intelligence.
This 11/22 memo shows that WAVE is asking for further details on "AMKNOB", the "State employee" targeted by Cuban intelligence.
11/26/63: DIR 85237 - TYPIC AMKNOB slugline, asks WAVE to please forward details about State Dept employee targeted by Cuban intelligence.
11/27/63: This note appears to be an actual Cuban intelligence memo. Identifies Garriga as a 20-year resident of Miami, his daughters married to “non-revolutionaries”, one of them was fired by “Fidelistas”.
11/30/63: WAVE 8318 – refers to DIR 85237 above, and contains an AMKNOB slugline. The memo portrays the writer trying to learn more about AMKNOB-1 ("WAVE checked WTON 11928 which does not reflect name/details state employee WAVE area of interest CIS. Please clarify.")
12/3/63, Anita Potocki memo, DIR 86467, AMKNOB ZRKNICK slugline:
Santiago Garriga and Mariam Norweb nee Nufer are the two mentioned in 84449, and they both work in the same State Dept office (Note: Norweb met with Volsky and AMTAUP-2 on the AMTRUNK operation on 9/13/63)
The above 12/3/63 memo references four earlier memos:
A 10/8/63 memo about the AMKNOB-1 Sept. debriefing and his relationship with Azcue, (UFGA 11574)
Santiago Garriga and Mariam Norweb are the two mentioned in 84449, above. (DIR 84449)
The WTON memo above that doesn't give the name/details of the state employee WAVE area of interest to CIS – the Cuban intelligence service. (WTON 11928)
The 11/30 memo above that doesn't reflect name of state dept employee in wton 11928 (WAVE 8318)
12/5/63: WAVE 8534 - AMKNOB slugline, one is described as a tax consultant, another as a State Dept secretary. It states at bottom “Santiago Garriga obviously employed same State office as Norweb”.
WAVE 8535 - AMKNOB ZRKNICK slugline, specifically identifies the two above as Santiago Garriga and Mariam Norweb, respectively.
What's particularly interesting is that by 1966, the CIA considered AMKNOB-1 to be a double agent. Veciana was considered by JMWAVE CI to be of "marginal operational interest...as a source of information obtained by Amknob/1 for the CUIS".
93 It is documented that AMKNOB-1 was providing information to Cuban internal security: A CIA index card identifies AMKNOB-1 as Piero Fedeli Medici, indicating that AMKNOB-1 was a friend of MRR Miami activist Alfredo Borges Caignet and that AMKNOB-1 was providing information to Cuban internal security. HSCA Segregated CIA Collection (microfilm - reel 51: Cubela - Davidson)/NARA Record Number: 104-10234-10405.
I think “Piero Fedeli Medici” was an alias that Garriga used – the Medicis were not only famous painters, but famous for their love of intrigue.
94 Both Garriga and Norweb worked at the State Department’s Office of the Coordinator of Cuban Affairs: The Miami office served as a de facto embassy to the Cuban exile community and coordinated all the federal agencies there involved with Cuba. Don Bohning, The Castro Obsession, p. 157.
96 In 1966, he was described as a double agent: Memo from C/RR to C/FI, 2/18/66, HSCA Segregated CIA Collection (microfilm)/HSCA Segregated CIA Collection (microfilm - reel 2: Artime - Barker)/NARA Record Number: 104-10163-10002.
97 The goal for Azcue is recruitment in place and not defection, Azcue is leaving for Cuba in ten days, and either LITAMIL-3 or REDACTED (five letters, probably CASAS) should make the pitch to Azcue: Message from C/SAS/CI/OPS 9/10/63, HSCA Segregated CIA Collection (microfilm - reel 2: Artime - Barker)/NARA Record Number: 104-10163-10013. This document is intriguing.
At least seven chiefs are asked to sign off on it. “LT?” or “JT?” (possibly John Tilton) signs off for C/SAS/CI (Harold Swenson), C/SAS/EOB, C/SAS/MOB (A.A. Maloney), William Hood signs for C/WHD (J.C. King), Sam Halpern signs for C/SAS (Desmond Fitzgerald), and REDACTED signs for C/WH/3 (Jack Whitten).
Even CI/OPS Will Potocki’s initial “P” is seen on the document, possibly for the originator C/SAS/CI/OPS. Is it possible Angleton loaned Potocki to Fitzgerald? If not, who is C/SAS/CI/OPS?
Here’s the September 9 letter from Mexico City to Director, with another handwritten reference to Harvey’s colleague Neill Prew as one of the officers monitoring this case. NARA Record Number: 104-10163-10032.
The regular C/SAS/MOB was A. A. Maloney. Maloney was an Army colonel.
The MOB division was included in Helms’ 1964 discussions on assassinating Castro.
98 On September 11, Casas’ boss made it clear to SAS that he did not want him leaving his job in Pennsylvania: HSCA Segregated CIA Collection (microfilm - reel 2: Artime - Barker)/ NARA Record Number: 104-10163-10011.
99 …The memo discusses using LITAMIL-3 and another (redacted) friend of Azcue’s in a “compartmented one-two punch”: Memo from Win Scott to Director, CIA, 9/13/63, MEXI 6612, HSCA Segregated CIA Collection (microfilm - reel 2: Artime - Barker)/ NARA Record Number: 104-10163-10010.
100 On September 19, just a week before Oswald’s arrival to Mexico City, LITAMIL-3 tried to recruit the consul Eusebio Azcue: Cable from Mexico City to Director, MEXI 6216, 9/20/63, HSCA Segregated CIA Collection (microfilm - reel 2: Artime - Barker)/NARA Record Number: 104-10163-10260.
101 On September 23, AMKNOB-1 met with Azcue, but the document reporting that meeting has not yet been released: HSCA Segregated CIA Collection (microfilm - reel 2: Artime - Barker)/NARA Record Number: 1994.03.07.15:38:13:120007, pp. 75-77: 9/23/63 index card “re contact w/(AMKNOB-1)”:
9/26/63: A cross-reference document refers to Azcue as “acquaintance” of AMKNOB-1:
10/8/63: A cross-reference document refers to Azcue as suspected to be with Cuban intelligence service and a “contact” of AMKNOB-1.
102 Between September 16-20, AMKNOB-1 was debriefed. On September 21, AMKNOB-1 provided some biographical data on Azcue and several other figures, and AMKNOB-1 met with Azcue on September 23, but I haven’t yet seen a document with AMKNOB-1 directly pitching Azcue: Dispatch, “Operational/TYPIC, Individuals and Traces Known to AMKNOB-1”, Chief of JMWAVE (Theodore Shackley) to Chief, WH Division and Chief, Mexico City, 9/21/63, HSCA Segregated CIA Collection (microfilm - reel 2: Artime - Barker)/NARA Record Number: 104-10163-10256.
103 Like Azcue and Rabel, AMKNOB-1 had previously worked in a peasant housing program known as Viviendas Campesinas: Document Transfer and Cross Reference, Reel 2, Folder F, “CIA Files on Eusebio Azcue, 1960-1970”, p. 75, NARA Record Number: 1994.03.07.15:38:13:120007. Also see Field Information Report, 12/11/59, HSCA Segregated CIA Collection, Box 14/NARA Record Number: 104-10069-10237.
Another document refers to them as acquaintances in the context of this housing program.
104 Azcue planned to work with the program upon his return to Cuba: Dispatch from Chief of JMWAVE to Chief, WH Division and Chief, Mexico City, 9/9/63, Reel 2, Folder F, “CIA Files on Eusebio Azcue, 1960-1970”, p. 82, NARA Record Number: 1994.03.07.15:38:13:120007.
105 As late as 1966, Azcue is referred to longingly as a “major recruitment target”: Memo from C/RR to C/FI, 2/18/66, HSCA Segregated CIA Collection (microfilm)/HSCA Segregated CIA Collection (microfilm - reel 2: Artime - Barker)/ NARA Record Number: 104-10163-10002.
106 On the day of Oswald’s arrival in Mexico City, there was a 9/27/63 memo about Kostikov that had a REDCAP heading: Memo from Win Scott, to Chief, WH Division, 9/27/63, HSCA Segregated CIA Collection (microfilm - reel 9: Hernandez - Loganov)/NARA Record Number: 104-10173-10310.
107 Russ Holmes Work File/NARA Record Number: 104-10412-10000. Khrushchev and his entourage arrived in the United States on September 15, and left on the 27th. Oswald left the country on September 18. History Channel, “This Day in History”: September 27, 1959.
108 Shortly after Oswald’s departure, there was a 10/15/63 REDCAP memo involving Pavel Yatskov, who claimed to have met with Oswald during his visit: “List of Records and Files of Suspect Russian Intelligence Service Officers”, Russ Holmes Work File/NARA Record Number: 104-10414-10342. Five pages on Pavel Yatskov, with the fifth page mentioning the Oct. 15 REDCAP memo which I have not seen.
109 As Jack Whitten said, “We were trying to follow the Soviets and all the satellites and the Cubans. At the same time, the main thrust of the station’s effort was to recruit Russians, Cubans and satellite people.”: Deposition of John Whitten, 5/16/78, pp. 64-65, HSCA Security Classified Testimony.
110 Herbert Manell, the chief of Soviet operations in Mexico City from 1959-64, testified that his task was to negate Soviet efforts and to recruit Soviets: Deposition of Herbert Manell, 4/28/78, pp. 3-4. HSCA Security Classified Testimony/NARA Record Number: 180-10110-10023.
Manell also mentioned that “RYBAT” is a restrictive indicator of an important counterintelligence case: Id., p. 50.
111 The CIA’s sources inside the Cuban compound said that the man who visited them was not Oswald: Gaeton Fonzi, The Last Investigation, pp. 293-294.
Fonzi was a well-respected HSCA investigator. There's no copy available of this report, but we now know that these CIA sources included LITAMIL-3, who may have been cultural attaché, Osmin Fernandez Concepcion; LITAMIL-7, secretary Consuelo Esperon; and LITAMIL-9, Luis Alberu Soeto, who served as a monitor.
113 Oswald had unveiled a plan to make a grand swing through Europe and the USSR in June 1963, when he listed them in his passport application: Warren Commission Exhibit 781, Oswald’s passport, dated 6/24/63.
“Oswald obtained a new passport the day after he applied for it, which is much faster than usual. On top of that, he obtained this new passport without a “lookout card”. A lookout card was the norm when a citizen’s background triggered security questions. Oswald’s defection to the USSR should have set off every bell among the counterintelligence officers who monitor the applications at the passport office. The FBI criticized itself for not “placing a stop on his file in the State Department, which would have prevented his successful application for a passport…it is felt that with Oswald’s background that we should have had a stop on his passport, particularly since we did not know definitely whether or not he had any intelligence assignments at the time.” Memo from J. H. Gale to Supervisor Clyde Tolson, p. 5, 9/30/64, NARA Record Number: 124-10371-10033.
114 Fidel Castro told the HSCA, “In those days the mechanism was very rigid because, of course, we had suspicions of anyone who tried to come to Cuba: HSCA Interview with Fidel Castro Ruz, 4/3/78, p. 12.
115 As Silvia Duran told Oswald when he showed up without advance notice at the Cuban consulate, things went smoothly if you had a sponsor in the country that you want to visit: Letter from DDP Richard Helms to J. Lee Rankin, 2/19/64, p. 3, Warren Commission Document 358.
116 Contreras said that when these students probed the reaction of these consulate contacts still further, they were told by Azcue that Oswald was suspected of being an agent: Interview by Anthony Summers with Oscar Contreras, 1978, recounted in Conspiracy (1989 version), pp. 351-353.
117 Trying to visit both countries in one trip is very difficult, and the Cuban government reminded the Cuban consulate that someone like Oswald needed an “in-transit visa” when visiting Cuba on his way to another country: Warren Commission Hearings, Volume 25, Exhibit 2564, letter from Juan Milo Otero, Ministry of Foreign Affairs to Alfredo Mirabel, Cuban consul, Mexico City, 10/15/63.
118 Duran told her interrogators that Oswald acted as though he had “made arrangements in Washington whereby instructions would be sent to the Soviet embassy in Mexico to issue his Soviet entry visa in a manner which would eliminate his having to visit the Soviet Embassy”: See DIR 85222, memo from WH/3/Mexico Virginia Renshaw to Mexico City, 11/27/63, NARA Record Number: 1994.05.31.12:49:52:310005.
This memo states that Duran said that Oswald was rude to the Soviets. Duran had no way of knowing that. The “rudeness” would have occurred on September 28, and Duran never saw Oswald again after the 27th. This discrepancy highlights the importance of obtaining the original Spanish copies of Duran’s interrogations. Peter Dale Scott discusses this problem at length in Deep Politics II.
119 Jack Whitten’s testimony contains redactions that indicate the intensity of the Mexico City station’s role in encouraging penetrations and defections: Deposition of John Whitten, pp. 64-65, 5/16/78.
120 Keep in mind that Duran is the consul’s receptionist - because her next statement is a demand that Ruiz provide the consul's phone: Memorandum for the Record, LAD/JFK Task Force, November 1976, NARA Record Number: 104-10308-10025.
Earlier in the document, there is a summary of this call done by the CIA’s Latin American division in the 70s. It mis-dates the call as Sept. 24th and mis-states the call to say that “Ruiz didn’t call Duran because he wasn’t able to reach the consul”. It does identify Ruiz as DGI (Cuban intelligence). Memorandum for the Record, LAD/JFK Task Force, November 1976, NARA Record Number: 104-10308-10025.
The Spanish version of this call reveals that it was allegedly tapped on line 25-09-14, the commercial attache’s line normally used by Luisa Calderon. NARA Record Number: 104-10055-10052. This tap transcript is found within a set of documents entitled “Transcript of Oswald’s Conversation with the USSR Embassy”. The title explains the focus: The September 28 call.
The other documents circle around the September 28 call, portraying wiretaps and photosurveillance during the Oswald visit to Mexico City involving both the Soviet and Cuban compounds. We don’t know if these documents were created by the HSCA or the CIA, but I believe it’s an effort to find out what happened on September 28. This set of documents is found within HSCA Segregated CIA Collection Box 7, which contains many folders on the same and similar subjects.
121 Cuban intelligence officer Fabian Escalante adds an important piece of information, if accurate, saying that Ruiz was the interpreter used between Oswald and Azcue: Claudia Furiati, ZRRIFLE (Ocean Press), p. 159.
122 During October 1963 Garriga worked with other pro-Castro Cubans to set up a new chapter of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee in Miami: On 10/15/63, Santiago Garriga and Enrique Gonzalez started campaign to raise money for Flora victims, wanted to take over name "Fair Play for Cuba Committee - Miami" on at least a temporary basis.
On 10/28/63, in an FBI letterhead memo entitled "Fair Play for Cuba Committee", we see Santiago Garriga saying “let's raise money for Hurricane Flora victims”, after calling NY to get the OK to use the FPCC name. VT Lee ran the national office in New York. See memorandum from Miami FBI office to Headquarters, p. 2, 10/28/63, FBI - HSCA Subject File: FPCC/NARA Record Number: 124-90120-10025.
123 In the days before 11/22/63, the FBI ran an operation that investigated the Cuban espionage net that included Garriga and shared the take with the CIA: See extracts of “ZRKNICK: Investigation of Cuban Espionage Net in Miami”, varied dates, NARA Record Number: 104-10308-10240. Also see Memorandum for the Record, “ZRKNICK Operation”, LAD/JFK Task Force, 2/27/77, LA Division Work File/NARA Record Number: 104-10308-10238.
125 A blurry memo that appears to be wiretap information from the ZRKNICK operation provides a snapshot of how Cuban intelligence was allegedly approaching Garriga: Periodic Activity Report, ZRKNICK files, Vol. 1, LA Division Work File/NARA Record Number: 104-10308-10279.
Antonio Garcia, mentioned above, is referred to in a 9/16/63 Amknob memo, Garcia was with a group known as Juventad Autentica and worked with Cuban intelligence at the embassy. His biographical file number was 201-328388.
Antonio Garcia left Mexico City for good a few months later, complaining of illness.
126 AMROD was designed to split the Castro regime by focusing on Carlos Rodriguez, the head of the Communist Party newspaper Hoy: See pages 7-9 of 249, referring to Carlos Rodriguez as “Rod”: Memo from SAC, New York to Director FBI, 4/20/64.
127 Proenza was targeted by the CIA in “operation to counter (her) effective exploitation of her contacts in Mexico, a work which frequently had strong anti-US overtones.”: Memo by Charles W. Anderson, Chief, CAS/PAG/COB to SA/DO/O, 5/25/78. NARA Record Number: 104-10322-10181.
128 Proenza lost her job shortly after the assassination because she wrote a memo saying that the Cuban message to Mexico protesting the detention of Silvia Duran was a diplomatic error. Cable from Mexico City to Director, 1/2/64, HSCA Segregated CIA Collection (microfilm - reel 48: Defectors, 201 Files, CI/SIG, IG Report, AMTRUNK, Ortiz, ...)/NARA Record Number: 104-10213-10379. Also see CIA information report on Proenza’s dismissal, 1/30/64, HSCA Segregated CIA Collection, Box 16/ NARA Record Number: 104-10074-10234.
129 An internal CIA memo reveals that Proenza’s recall to Cuba in December 963 was caused by the Agency: Memo by S. D. Breckenridge to Deputy Director Frank Carlucci, 7/26/78, Miscellaneous CIA Series/NARA Record Number: 104-10322-10181.
131 The CIA hoped that Moscow would jump to the vice minister’s defense and that a collision would result between Moscow and Havana: John Newman, Oswald and the CIA, p. 387.
132 A black tape 201 was created when the 201 biographical file was literally wrapped in black tape to prevent nosy clerks from casually sneaking a peek at its description of operations: See 1/63-12/63 "black tape 201 file" for Proenza, vol 2 of 3. More on black tape documents.
133 One of their sources was Luis Alberu, identified by the CIA as a Cuban defector in place: Memo by W. H. V. Fisher, Acting Chief WH/1, “Traces on Luis Alberu-Souto”, 5/26/67 HSCA Segregated CIA Collection, Box 40/NARA Record Number: 104-10110-10192.
Also see the government’s refusal to release the Proenza file.
134 Alberu went into hiding while Captain Fernandez Ventura of the DFS kept the HSCA away from him. Ventura emphatically confided to another officer that Alberu was not to be interviewed: Here’s a report of Alberu avoiding a meeting with Ed Lopez and the HSCA in Mexico City in 1978. Captain Fernandez Ventura Gutierrez made it clear that he did not want Alberu interviewed.