David A. Phillips, chief of CIA anti-Castro covert operations in 1963
David Phillips was a failed actor turned expatriate newspaper publisher in Santiago, Chile when he was recruited into the CIA in the early 1950s. He made his mark fast. In 1955, he won a Distinguished Intelligence Medal, one of the agency’s highest honors, for mounting deceptive radio broadcasts in the CIA’s overthrow of the democratically elected government of Guatemala in 1954.
After that his CIA career took off. With Howard Hunt, Phillips served as propaganda chief in the CIA’s failed effort to invade Cuba at the Bay of Pigs In April 1961. When he was assigned to Mexico City in 1962, station chief Win Scott described him as “the finest covert action officer I have ever met.”
After JFK’s assassination, Scott was not so complimentary and I suspect the reason why was Oswald’s curious handling of Oswald. .(I tell the story in my biography of Scott, Our Man in Mexico. Buy it here.)
Summers was amazed when doing his documentary for BBC’s “Panorama” in the late 1970s that many of his interview subjects had never been spoken to before. “All of the media of that time, not least the New York Times, had completely failed to really quarry into the story. They simply had not done it,” he said. “They concentrated on the great tapestry of the assassination and the Kennedy era.”
Alan and I talked about the upcoming History Channel’s JFK Declassified: Tracking Oswald, a six-part docu-series on Kennedy assassination story, which begins Tuesday, April 25th. Based on what I know, I have mixed feelings about the show.
The History Channel’s upcoming documentary series, “JFK Declassified: Tracking Oswald” sounds enticing. A videogenic and decorated former CIA operations officer Robert Baer revisits the secret intelligence dimensions of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
Baer is not the worst choice for a guide to the JFK story. He is an incisive commentator on CIA affairs, and no apologist. He rejects torture and expresses skepticism on drones. He comes across as a thinking man’s intelligence officer. (The fact that George Clooney played Baer in the movie Syriana gives him a whiff of Cool Liberal cologne.) Read more
Executive Action is perhaps the most famous conspiracy thriller about the John Kennedy assassination, with the exception of Oliver Stone’s JFK. Recently released CIA records in the CREST database show that they were keeping an eye the production and how it was being received. The articles even detail how the CIA may have threatened or tried to stop the production of the film.
Although this account does not mention James Angleton, the CIA Counterintelligence Chief (1954-74) was the man who expanded and oversaw the opening of the mail of U.S. citizens for nearly 20 years. In 1977, the Justice Department decided not to indict him.
Similarly, the late James Angleton, America’s most famous counterspy, slipped me the history of a ridiculously expensive recovery vessel called the Glomar Explorer and a few years later laughed that it was an effort to upstage a New York Times investigative reporter he knew was chasing the story.