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Pseudonym: Scelso, John

Definition:
John Whitten, Chief of WH/3 in 1963. Informally referred to as Jack Whitten.
Category:
alias
Status:
Documented
Sources:

104-10163-10013: HQS WISHES MAKE REF PITCH IF HE AVAILABLE FOR TRAVEL MEXI.

9/10/63 cable DIR 67341 from Richard Tansing, C/SAS/CI/OPS, to Win Scott, chief of the Mexico City CIA station, ref MEXI 6077: "HQS wishes Casas to make ref pitch if he available for travel Mexi. Otherwise, LITAMIL-3 can make pitch. HQS objective (note: for Azcue) is recruitment in place and not defection. Request MEXI plan ops (in) this regard. HQS contacting Casas and will advise MEXI availability soonest." SAS comment: "Mexi reported Cuban consul Azcue departing PCS Cuba in ten days. Wish Casas from HQS make pitch, also LITAMIL-3 available in Mexi for pitch. Signers include Tansing for C/SAS/CI, A. A. Maloney for C/SAS/MOB, and John Whitten for C/SAS/EOB (Edward Stanulis-no handwritten signature - see 104-10112-10208 for proof of his identity). See 104-10216-10144 for verification of A. A. Maloney as C/SAS/MOB. This document indicates Maloney was his real name - https://www.cia.gov/library/readingroom/docs/CIA-RDP75-00149R000500130003-3.pdf - Tansing had been a lead TFW/CI. He worked with secretary gdr on 12/10/62; others like Pauline Miller shared the use of secretary gdr and phone line 6471.

104-10163-10260: (CABLE) LITAMIL-3 SPOKE BY PHONE TO AZCUE 19 SEPT TOLD A OF WISH SPEAK

9/20/63 MEXI 6216 memo from Mexico City to Director, with Bill Harvey's former colleague Neill Prew written-in as someone who should see the memo: "LITAMIL-3 spoke by phone to Azcue 19 Sept told of a wish to speak to him re matter previously discussed. A-S reply to this quote you know my feelings on this have not changed mind, will not change mind, unquote. L-3 said will call later, A said quote, I beg you, no no no don't call me re this again, unquote. L-3 convinced A sincere and that it impossible to lay on op. Handwritten below is a note from JHS - probably "John H. Scelso" aka John Whitten: "J'accept. Good try. Nothing lost. We can write a letter but even that doesn't sound hopeful so let's wait for further developments." ""We can write a letter but even that doesn't sound hopeful so let's wait for further developments." The document is marked as "CI" Who is the man referenced in marginalia as JHS? Probably John H. Scelso, the pseudonym for C/WH/3 John Whitten.

104-10086-10090: SYLVIA DURAN ARREST

11/23/63 cable DIR 84916 from CIA HQ to Win Scott in Mexico City: "Arrest of Silvia Duran is extremely serious matter which could prejudice (US) freedom of action on entire question of (Cuban) responsibility. With full regard for Mexican interests, request you ensure that her arrest is kept absolutely secret, that no information from her is published or leaked, that all such info is cabled to us, and that fact of her arrest and her statements are not spread to leftist or disloyal circles in the Mexican government. We are trying to get more info on Oswald from (FBI) and will advise direct or through (FBI) Mexico."

HSCA Report, Volume XI Current Section: II. Organization of the CIA's Investigation of President Kennedy's Assassination

November-December 1963: "On November 23, 1963, Helms had called a meeting of senior level CIA officials to outline the Agency's investigative responsibility via-a-via the assassination. At that time, Helms placed John Scelso, a desk officer in the Western Hemisphere Division and headquarter's Mexico branch chief, in charge of the Agency's initial investigative efforts...Scelso testified before the committee that he was given charge of the Agency's investigation on the basis of two considerations: (1) his prior experience in conducting major CIA security investigations; and (2) the observation of Oswald in Mexico (Scelso's headquarters responsibility) reported to the CIA less than 2 months prior to the assassination. Scelso also noted that during the course of his investigative efforts, Helms did not pressure him to adopt specific investigative theories nor reach conclusions within a set period of time...I knew that we [at CIA] did not have the basic responsibility for investigating the assassination of the President. If there was a crime committed in the course of this activity, it belonged to the FBI..During the first half of December, he issued a summary report that described Oswald's activities in Mexico City from September 26, 1963, to October 3, 1963. Scelso characterized the summary report as incomplete by comparison to assassination related information then available to the FBI but not provided to the CIA until late December 1963. Following issuance of this report, Helms shifted responsibility for the CIA's investigation to the Counterintelligence Staff. He testified that this shift was a logical development because the investigation had begun to take on broader tones..."

https://www.maryferrell.org/pages/State_Secret_Chapter6.html

November-December 1963: "Helms chose WH/3 chief Jack Whitten as the trailblazer through the worst of the dangers posed by the Mexico City blackmail. As we will see, after a month of letting Whitten take the heat, Helms was convinced it was necessary to pass the baton to Angleton...I believe that Helms knew about the problems in Mexico City and with the story of Lee Oswald. Helms decided to put Jack Whitten in charge of the investigation. As Whitten was the chief of WH/3 - the Western Hemisphere division covering Mexico and neighboring countries – he was a logical choice. Helms asked Whitten to focus on the events in Mexico City, believing that he could manipulate him to stay out of the troublesome areas of that story. Whitten knew the backstory about the probe of Azcue and Kostikov in the fall of 1963, and would be motivated to keep the wiretap operations secret and free of investigation. Whitten had personally signed off on the 10/10 memos without realizing their underlying significance, which was a very important plus. The goal was to avoid investigation of the other three circles of intrigue in Mexico City that Whitten knew nothing about: The Tilton-Anderson anti-FPCC operation, the molehunt that was embedded within those very 10/10 memos, and the impersonation of Oswald himself by parties unknown. I think that Helms believed that if Whitten remained ignorant of those three events, he would be an effective advocate of the official story."

104-10246-10017: CARD FILE INVENTORY OF MATERIAL PROVIDED TO THE HSCA.

1/31/78 HSCA file cards identify the deponent John Scelso as Jack Whitten.

104-10335-10001: ARRB REQUEST - CIA-2: BACKGROUND QUESTIONS ON THE COLLECTION

This ARRB document refers to John Scelso as the alias for John Whitten, C/WH/3.

Contributors:
Bill Simpich

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