New files reveal the CIA spied on JFK researchers in 1995

Bill Simpich has a terrific piece at WhoWhatWhy about the new JFK files released since October 2017. One document found by Simpich jumped out at me. In 1995 the CIA asked Brazilian intelligence.

to photograph the JFK researchers and Cuban counterintelligence officers that met together in August, 1995 in Rio de Janeiro pursuant to an invitation by the Ministry of Culture.

Fonzi and Escalante

Gaeton Fonzi, left, with Fabian Escalante.

The 1995 conference is well-known in the annals of JFK research. It marked the first time U.S. researchers had met with Cuban intelligence officers to get their first-hand perspective on the events that led to Kennedy’s assassination. The Cuban government has long contended that JFK was killed by a rogue CIA faction in league with ant-Castro Cubans.

The Cubans in attendance, Fabian Escalante and Arturo Rodriguez, were perhaps a legitimate CIA target.  Escalante’s book, 1963 El Complot, details the Cuban interpretation of November 22, using unreleased Cuban intelligence files to make his case.

But the CIA did not restrict itself to spying on them. It also sought photographs of the Americans.

The honor roll of the US citizens who were spied upon include: Jim Lesar, veteran FOIA litigator; historian John Newman; former HSCA investigators Gaeton Fonzi and Ed Lopez; coroner Cyril Wecht; and diplomat Wayne Smith.

Now ask yourself, if the open-and-shut historical truth is that President Kennedy was killed by one man for no reason–as CIA historian David Robarge and agency-approved  scribbler Max Holland contend-why would the agency find it necessary to spy on Americans who thought differently three decades later? Why take their photographs?

The answer, I think, is two-fold.

In fact, the CIA did not–and does not–have a lot of confidence in the “lone gunman” theory. The likes of Robarge and Holland espouse this theory but they know it is not particularly believable to most people. Sustaining its tenuous credibility requires aggressive action to discredit any and all new findings that call the CIA’s preferred narrative into question. The agency feared what JFK researchers might learn, so they spied on them to get advance notice of their findings.

In the case of the 1995 Rio conference, the agency feared that the JFK investigators might learn from the Cubans about previously undisclosed CIA operations related to Kennedy’s assassination. If so, the researchers would have unauthorized possession of classified information and could be judged a security risk. Hence the need for photos.

Source: Analyzing the New JFK Revelations – WhoWhatWhy


  1. Russ Tarby says:

    Since the Agency specializes in counter-intelligence, researchers have correctly assumed that the Agency has used its expertise to at least keep an eye on if not actually infiltrate the JFK research community. such situations date back at least to Bud Fensterwald, nearly 50 years ago…
    Leave it to Mexico City expert Bill Simpich to report on the Agency’s investigation into the Cuban connection in 1995…and I fully agree with Bill’s analysis 1. that the Agency knows it is defending an implausible scenario of the lone gunman and 2. that it needed photos of the researchers for future reference as “security risks.”

  2. Bill Banks says:

    Those mentioned were public figures in US with plenty of photos available prior to the Cuban confab. In specific propaganda circumstances, it might have been handy to have pics of researchers with DGI personnel. My recollection is that conference produced some interesting material.

    Along with a sad lack of skepticism for Cuban revelations/”revelations.” GOC would have been more or less than human not to be furious over the various assassination attempts, sabotage, & etc. Those expecting a People’s state to have a higher regard for bourgeois objectivity than our own are in error.

  3. Bill Simpich says:

    Paul Hoch pointed out to me that the memo reveals only that the CIA asked for “info” on the researchers and the Cubans – not that the CIA asked for “photographs”.

    Photographs – however – is what they got.

    Would they have got photos if they didn’t ask for them or at least expect them?

  4. Peter says:

    My understanding of this is that the CIA considered the Cubans to be utilising the Rio conference to conduct a propaganda campaign against the CIA. Their main concern was with a video that was being sold at the conference. The video was a compilation of facts whilst interspersing the Cuban propaganda line and done in a way to make it convincing. Basically it was a cleverly made and portrayed the CIA as having been behind the assassination.

  5. Brian Lynch says:

    No surprise here.

  6. Look….. if someone was trying to make Oswald not the assassin, as many did, starting with Mark Lane, what would you do if you were were in their intelligence shoes? My G-d, he did it. Get over it. As to any egging on by others, well you’ve got something there….. but MOVE ON, like the Garrison case. What a con job he did on the American public. Just my opinion. That’s all. End transmission.

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