Memories of the CIA in Miami

A faithful reader sent a link to a telling new story about the CIA in Miami in the 1960s when the presence of one of the largest CIA stations in the world was an open secret — yet officially unknown.

The revelation of the CIA Miami station came in a Look magazine excerpt of David Wise and Thomas Ross’s book, The Invisible Government,” which introduced the general public to the workings of the CIA.

Yet the CIA’s presence in South Florida was no secret to the the editors of Miami News. A year and half before this article appeared, the paper’s foreign editor, Hal Hendrix, had lunch with Miami station chief Ted Shackley. They met during the missile crisis in October 1962. Hendrix was looking for help in writing a piece critical of President Kennedy.

After the lunch, Shackley reported to headquarters via cable.

“Hendrix trying research story on inconsistencies in [US.-Cuba] policies: statements to [Cuban Revolutionary Council] re liberation [of Cuba] versus guarantees to Soviets that [U.S.] will not intervene militarily if Soviets withdraw missiles from [Cuba]. ”

Shackley added, “If above info used by [Headquarters] pls protect fact that info obtained from Hendrix. This most important if we are to continue development of Hendrix as source.”

Hendrix went on to become a CIA asset in Chile, assisting in the Nixon administration’s efforts to destabilize the democratically elected government of Salvatore Allende.

If you want to share memories, photos, tips, or anecdotes about the CIA in Miami in South Florida in the 1960s, send me an email.

9 comments

  1. Sandy K. says:

    An excellent book recounting the Cuban Missile Crisis, One Minute to Midnight by Michael Dobbs, contains excerpts of messages sent by Shackley to his superiors expressing his fears about being unable to contain the actions of Cuban exiles operating under JM/WAVE. At the height of the crisis Shackley had teams comprised of scores of anti-Castro Cubans who were raring to join a U.S. invasion as pathfinders, sappers and saboteurs. Shackley fretted about how his Cuban assets would react if the invasion was called off, particularly if they believed later that Kennedy had “lost his nerve again” (after the Bay of Pigs debacle). Perhaps by not invading Cuba, JFK signed his own death warrant.

  2. Shane McBryde says:

    Awesome! That was a great read.

  3. Stanley says:

    @ John

    What about Gerry’s reference (with link) to LBJ’s conversation with Hoover about the tape, a recorded oval office conversation that occurred immediately following the assassination (his link actually traces back to a transcript of the LBJ and Hoover conversation, which was obtained from a credible source, the LBJ Library).

    Hoover tells LBJ the voice on the tape is not Oswald’s. You’ve avoided this so far. How come?

  4. John McAdams says:

    Hoover tells LBJ the voice on the tape is not Oswald’s. You’ve avoided this so far. How come?

    Everything from FBI DC at this point had come through Alan Belmont, who had talked to Gordon Shanklin in Dallas and thought Shanklin had said that.

    But Belmont was wrong. The earliest documents clearly show that transcripts and photos (but no tapes) were sent to Dallas from Mexico City.

    http://mcadams.posc.mu.edu/clueless3.htm

    • Dave says:

      Elsewhere on this site Dan recently commented: “Mr. Slawson appeared at the SMU conference last fall that was carried on C-Span. He stated that in April 1964 he and William Coleman were offered CIA audio tapes of Oswald in Mexico City to listen to. Slawson further stated in answer to a question that he did not credit CIA’s explanations for lack of audio tapes and photographs of Oswald in Mexico City. These would be important points to follow up on.”

      So John, are you saying not only was Hoover and the FBI mistaken about what he told LBJ Nov. 23 about the Mexico “Oswald” tapes not matching Oswald’s voice, but the WC’s Slawson was also mistaken about being offered the “Oswald” tapes by the CIA in 1964? You think the tapes never existed? Or were routinely scrubbed within 7 days?

      • John McAdams says:

        You are confusing two different issues here:

        1. Were tapes sent to Dallas, and listened to by FBI agents there. The answer to this is clearly “no.”

        2. Did some tape of some Oswald conversation survive in Mexico City.

        That’s possible, although as Jean Davison has pointed out, the secret report filed by Slawson and Coleman after their trip to Mexico City does not mention any such tape. It only mentions (IRRC) Win Scott letting Slawson and Coleman listed to a tape of the Cuban counsel talking to Havana.

        So it might simply be an error of memory.

        If one takes Slawson’s testimony in Frontline at face value, there was nothing sinister about the tape he listened to. No “it’s not Oswald” reaction.

        But you simply can’t take wispy 30-year old testimony about some tape somewhere surviving to bail out the Oswald imposter theory.

      • John McAdams says:

        You are confusing two different issues here:

        1. Were tapes sent to Dallas, and listened to by FBI agents there? The answer to this is clearly “no.”

        2. Did some tape of some Oswald conversation survive in Mexico City?

        That’s possible, although as Jean Davison has pointed out, the secret report filed by Slawson and Coleman after their trip to Mexico City does not mention any such tape. It only mentions (IIRC) Win Scott letting Slawson and Coleman listed to a tape of the Cuban counsel talking to Havana.

        So it might simply be an error of memory.

        If one takes Slawson’s testimony in Frontline at face value, there was nothing sinister about the tape he listened to. No “it’s not Oswald” reaction.

        But you simply can’t take wispy 30-year old testimony about some tape somewhere surviving to bail out the Oswald imposter theory.

    • Stanley says:

      All else aside, it seems like a really boneheaded mistake for high IQ personnel in a state of hyper awareness to make. These people were specialists in communication, nuance, and culture for intelligence and investigative purposes at the time. They were working at the upper levels of there organizations, at the tops of their games.

      If my wife sends me to the grocer for tomato soup and the grocer tells me they’re out of tomato then I call my wife and say, the label says tomato but the grocer said there’s chicken noodle inside, then I’m either mentally challenged or up to something.

      Somehow I think they were performing at a higher level than that.

  5. Van says:

    Good post. I’m experiencing a few of these issues as well..

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