On October 10, 1963, a man named Lee Harvey Oswald came to the attention of a group of senior CIA officers in Langley, Virginia. Oswald had recently visited the Cuban consulate and Soviet Embassy in Mexico City. A CIA wiretap captured a man identifying himself as “Oswald.”
The late Charles Thomas belonged to an exclusive, unhappy and forgotten club: U.S. government officials whose efforts to honestly investigate the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963 cost them their jobs and reputations.
In this Washington Postpiece, Jim Scott tells the story of how the CIA wiretapped his father, news reporter Paul Scott, for decades. In the 1960s, Paul Scott and his partner Robert Allen wrote a syndicated column on Washington politics that was driven, not by punditry, but by investigations.
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.)
Declassified documents reveal that Oswald met with the Cold War enemies of the United States, both Russia and Cuba, only eight weeks before JFK’s assassination.
This claim, made by the producers of new History Channel docu-series JFK Declassified: Tracking Oswald, is not new. The claim may just be promotional hype for the series which begins tonight and runs through May 30. But, from long experience with JFK documentaries, my fact checking antennae are tingling.
It is not too soon to say the History Channel’s claim is potentially misleading.
Rob writes: “I just finished Our Man in Mexico and wanted to tell you it was really great.”
“Excellent on Win Scott’s FBI to OSS to CIA history; excellent on the Kennedy assassination issues; and just a really enjoyable bio. You have some of the most succinct and informative expositions of the various facets of the story that I have come across. So, kudos!”
Rob is right, and that’s not my bias speaking. Here’s what the Wall Street Journal said about Our Man in Mexico.
You can order the book in hardcover or paperback here.
“What a pleasure to read a fact-based, well researched, and completely documented book that covers, not only the JFK assassination, but the early soldiers of the WW II – OSS. Many of these same OSS people became the CIA’s senior management team by 1963. Unlike most books on these subjects, Mr. Morley allows the reader to draw their own conclusion(s). There are no wild-eyed, self-perpetuated, illogical theories here – only substantiated and referenced facts.”
“I strongly recommend Our Man in Mexico to any serious OSS/CIA/JFK historian or researcher …”