Ricardo Morales, the Miami man who told his son he met accused presidential assassin Lee Harvey Oswald in a CIA training camp, was considered a credible source by the Agency and FBI. His heavily-redacted 130-page CIA personnel file, is found among the JFK assassination records whose release was postponed by the White House on October 22.
While the details of the story told by his son Ricardo Jr. on a Miami radio station this week have not been corroborated, the declassified portions of CIA files show that Morales (nicknamed Mono, Spanish for monkey) provided reams of information about the personnel and operations of the Cuban intelligence services. Approved for sabotage missions in March 1964 under the code name AMDESK-1, Morales was paid $200 a month. He reported on an infiltration operation run by a group called the Movimiento Democratic Cristiano (MDC) in June 1964 but was never used on any mission by the CIA station in Miami. He was terminated as a CIA agent in September 1964 for a “security violation.”
Morales and Angleton
Morales, however, was immediately re-recruited for another secret mission in Congo run by the Agency’s Special Operations Division (SOD). Within three weeks he was approved for CIA counterintelligence activities, indicating he was known to James Angleton, the Agency’s top counterspy.
The CIA memos about the operation, code named WIPEGASUS, are among the redacted files whose release the White House postponed on October 22. The purpose of the PEGASUS operation is not known. The redacted memos can be found on the web site of the Mary Ferrell Foundation, home of the largest online collection of the government’s JFK assassination records.
Morales “performed as a good commando” until he suffered a minor wound, according to a CIA after-action report. HIs CIA handler described him “an intelligent English speaker who should cause no security problems.”
The Miami Herald reported this week that Morales was terminated as a CIA source after the Congo mission. But another redacted memo, released in April 2018, shows the Agency extended approval for Morales’s counterintelligence operations in 1965.
Morales and Oswald
In his appearance on Miami’s Actualidad Radio 1040 AM, Ricardo Morales, Jr. recounted his father telling him two stories.
Morales said he was ordered on a CIA mission in Dallas shortly before November 22, 1963, whose purpose was unknown. Morales Sr. did not identify the case officer who allegedly sent him on this mission. The available record shows Morales had a CIA handler, code named “Alexander Ratwick,” but not until 1964.
Morales also told his son that he met Oswald in a CIA training camp. He didn’t tell his son when or where. There was a training camp near New Orleans where Oswald lived in 1963, that was run by an anti-Castro group called the Movimiento Democratico Cristiano (MDC). Morales is known to have reported on MDC activities in 1964.
When Morales’s anti-Castro compatriots bombed a Polish ship and other communist targets in 1968, his fingerprints were found at one of the bombing scenes. The FBI received testimony that the explosives came from the CIA. Morales then became a witness for U.S. prosecutors. He wore a wire for the FBI while meeting with other Cuban suspects in the case. In a 1972 memo, the chief of the Agency’s Western Hemisphere division said the FBI considered Morales “honest and objective” as an informant.
Morales’s career as terrorist, drug trafficker, and informant grew ever more complex, as detailed in a mind-bending (and paywalled) Harper’s magazine cover story in January 1982. Morales was shot to death in a MIami bar in December 1982.
President Biden gave the CIA and other federal agencies until December 15 to release JFK files with a proviso they can delay sensitive material related to national security, military intelligence and the foreign policy until December 15, 2022.