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.)
The miracle was that Fidel Castro died in his own bed. Never has a defiant antagonist of the United States of America met a more unlikely fate: a peaceful death. Hated, reviled and targeted by the greatest military empire in the history of the world, Castro launched a one-party socialist experiment in Cuba, which was so antithetical to Washington’s vision of a neoliberal world order that the empire struck back hard.
The CIA and its paid agents began plotting Castro’s violent demise in 1959 and continued to do so through the year 2000, concocting hundreds of conspiracies to kill him, 638 times by one well-informed Cuban intelligence official’s account. And the empire struck out every time.
The General is tired and would like to relax. He has gone up against very powerful adversaries and the struggle has not been easy. Yet he has helped keep both Cuba and Fidel Castro alive and while that is no longer his direct responsibility, he finds it very difficult to put his mind at ease after almost four decades of living on the edge. The General and I are sitting on the ocean-side terrace of the Copacabana Hotel in Havana.
Our 9th program featuring analysis and discussion of topics relevant to the study of President Kennedy’s assassination. This week we focus upon investigative journalist, Gaeton Fonzi, his essential book, The Last Investigation, his legacy and the publication of his 1996 article on General Fabian Escalante:
Here’s a powerful piece of journalism by the late Gaeton Fonzi, rescued from the Memory Hole of American history by the Mary Ferrell Foundation. It is a twenty year old essay that couldn’t be more timely in 2016. As the United States and Cuba attempt to reconcile after fifty years of violent conflict, Fonzi’s reportage explains why the process is so difficult and so necessary.
In his best-selling book Killing Kennedy, Bill O’Reilly tells a brief tale of an intrepid reporter — himself — chasing the historical truth of JFK’s assassination in south Florida. But the story itself is a fiction, as O’Reilly reveals here in his own voice.
JFK reality check for Bill O’Reilly
In the annals of the JFK assassination story, rife with CIA and FBI malfeasance, O’Reilly’s fanciful anecdote might seem trivial. It is not the saddest feature of his book, which manages to ignore all of the high-quality JFK assassination scholarship of the last two decades.
In his best-selling book Killing Kennedy, Bill O’Reilly tells a brief tale of an intrepid reporter — himself — chasing the historical truth of JFK’s assassination in south Florida. But the story itself is a fiction, as O’Reilly revealed in his own voice in an audio recording first published on JFK Facts.
CNN’s Brian Stelter picked up on the story, and I explained what really happened. Read more
“There is a wealth of useful information about the Kennedy assassination available online,” writes Salon’s founding editor, David Talbot, who is now writing a book about Allen Dulles and JFK’s assassination.
“But before a beginner wades into these thickets, it’s best to start with some of the best books on the subject,” he adds.
Here’s Talbot’s top seven JFK books. Am I biased because Talbot is a friend and he includes my book? Yes, I am.
Warren Commission Exhibit 903. Arlen Specter demonstrates the single-bullet theory in May 1964.
When young journalist Gaeton Fonzi interviewed former Warren Commission staff lawyer Arlen Specter in 1966, he expected the talented Specter to have ready answers to the questions which were then swirling around the medical aspects of the JFK case. Specter’s “single bullet theory” was under attack in such books as Edward Epstein’s Inquest, and in scholarly articles by Vincent Salandria in a legal journal (see here and here).
Fonzi would later write in his memoir The Last Investigation: “After those interviews with Arlen Specter, my belief in that Government would never be the same.” Read more
Rejecting conspiracy theories implicating Cuban leader Fidel Castro, a former militant foe of the Cuban government, said in a newspaper interview last week that his former allies at the CIA were behind the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963.
Veciana’s statements are significant because he is known to have worked closely with the CIA for many years fighting the Castro regime. He has also long asserted that he saw a CIA man whom he knew as ‘Maurice Bishop’ in the company of Lee Harvey Oswald in September 1963, two months before Oswald allegedly shot and killed Kennedy.