WASHINGTON, D.C. – On this 50th anniversary of the publication of the Warren Commission Report, the Washington-based Assassinations Archive and Research Center, or AARC, opened a three-day conference Friday featuring an all-star cast of JFK assassination “conspiracy theorists.”
AARC President James Lesar began the conference by urging attendees to lobby Congress in support of a Freedom of Information Act request his organization has filed with the National Archives and Records Administration, or NARA.
AARC is protesting a NARA decision to withhold from the public until at least 2017 more than 1,000 classified government documents on the JFK assassination. Lesar and his organization argue the 1992 JFK Records Act mandated the public release of all JFK assassination files in the government’s archives.
Attorneys Dan Hardway and Edward Lopez, who as law students co-authored the House Select Committee on Assassinations’ long-suppressed report, “Oswald, the CIA, and Mexico City,” kicked off the conference with details of their accusation that the CIA suppressed information about Oswald’s trip to Mexico City prior to the assassination. They say Miami-based undercover CIA agent George Joannides suppressed information on Oswald’s efforts to penetrate the CIA-created Cuban Student Directorate.
Hardway and Lopez filed, along with a diverse group of authors and legal exports supported by former House Select Committee on Assassinations’ chief counsel G. Robert Blakey, filed a lawsuit to force the CIA to release information on the agency’s involvement with Oswald and various Cuban groups.
The report by Hardway and Lopez, suppressed under a national security classification for nearly 30 years, was commissioned by HSCA lead investigator Gaeton Fonzi. Hardway and Lopez were sent to Mexico City in the late 1970s to investigate Oswald’s 1963 trip there.
“The CIA refused to cooperate with us in our investigation of Oswald’s trip to Mexico and his involvement with various Cuban activist groups, going so far as to hide from us names and other information material to our inquiry,” Hardway explained to the group.
“George Joannides shut down the HSCA investigation into these subjects, in a move motivated by CIA counter-intelligence and propaganda goals,” he said.
Hardway asserted the CIA “had something to hide from the HSCA, and Joannides knew what the CIA was hiding.”
“What remains at question was whether the CIA had advance knowledge, or even worse, was involved in the assassination of JFK, and went to great lengths to suppress that information,” he said.
Lopez confessed that during their time together working as HSCA staff, he and Hardway showed up at the CIA with long hair and wearing flip-flops.
“It didn’t help our investigation,” he admitted.
“Seeing us, the CIA didn’t trust us, but I would probably do it again. If I had behaved better, I might have become the first Latino Supreme Court justice. But I still don’t trust the federal government when it comes to suppressing information from the public.”
CIA ‘dark operations’
Former U.S. Army intelligence officer John Newman, author of the 1992 book “JFK and Vietnam: Deception, Intrigue, and the Struggle for Power” and the 2008 book “Oswald and the CIA: The Documented Truth about the Unknown Relationship Between the U.S. Government and the Alleged Killer of JFK,” said CIA “dark operations” are tricks of tradecraft designed to prevent penetration by counter-intelligence agents or the public.
Newman reviewed his current work of trying to unravel the names and identities of CIA operatives involved in the various plots launched by Robert Kennedy, then attorney general, to assassinate Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.
His current research documented a CIA attempt to screen the possible double-agent role CIA agent David Atlee Phillips played both in the Kennedy administration effort to assassinate Castro and what he calls a rogue CIA attempt to mask connections Lee Harvey Oswald had to various CIA operatives in Cuba, including several involved in the Castro assassination plots.
David Talbot, author of the 2008 bestselling book “Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years,” spoke by teleconference link-up. He believes Allen Dulles became a central figure in planning the Kennedy assassination, seeking revenge after the president accused him of lying and fired him following the Bay of Pigs disaster.
“After JFK, Dulles became the head of a government in exile. He worked from his home in Georgetown as if he were still head of the CIA, now working to undermine key Kennedy agency policies,” Talbot said, discussing a new book he is working to complete on Dulles.
“Even after he was fired, Dulles continued to see a number of CIA operatives, including CIA counter-intelligence chief James Angleton, Richard Helms and Howard Hunt, almost as if he never left the CIA,” Talbot said.
“I also developed evidence Dulles and his circle of operatives within the CIA were implicated in the Robert Kennedy assassination as well.”
Talbot said his research has established connections between CIA operative Robert Maheu, in his role as an adviser, and various organized crime figures. Talbot also ties him to Howard Hughes, suggesting Maheu operated in conjunction with Dulles to participate in both in the JFK and RFK assassinations.
Pulitzer Prize finalist Anthony Summers, an investigative journalist residing in Ireland and the author of the 2013 book “Not in Your Lifetime: The Defining Book on the JFK Assassination,” said he hoped “the autopsy of a homeless person, even in the U.K., would be conducted more professionally than the JFK assassination was conducted.”
Summers told the group he believed Oswald was a double-agent in a staged defection to the USSR, noting his involvement with pro-Castro groups, including famously the Fair Play for Cuba committee, after he returned to the U.S.
“The files now show the Fair Play for Cuba Committee had been targeted and penetrated by the FBI,” Summers pointed out.
He suspects Oswald had a double-agent role with the FBI as well as with the CIA.
Summers played a tape of interviews he conducted recently with a Cuban commando from the Batista era naming Herminio Diaz, a contract killer with ties to the Mafia and CIA. Summers suspects Diaz, who had worked security for Santo Trafficante’s casinos in Cuba, was the second gunman in the JFK assassination.
Late in the afternoon of the first day, Antonio Veciana, an 86-year-old exile from Cuba who settled in Miami and formed the anti-Castro group Alpha 66 in 1962, addressed the conference in Spanish.
In 1976, Veciana testified to the HCSA that he met with CIA operative Maurice Bishop in late August or early September 1963 and claimed to have seen Bishop talking with Oswald.
His appearance was the highlight of the first day of the AARC conference, because Veciana has typically shunned the press after surviving an assassination attempt in 1979.
Veciana explained his conclusion the JFK assassination was a coup d’etat, carried out by organized crime and rogue elements of CIA. He further identified Maurice Bishop as an alias for CIA operative David Atlee Phillips. He said Oswald had been ordered by Phillips to go to Mexico City to visit the Cuban consulate prior to the assassination.
“First of all, understand I was trained by the CIA to become a confessional conspirator who became involved in the anti-Castro movement as a CIA operative,” Veciana said.
“The CIA never had a formal meeting in which the agency decided to assassinate JFK, although a group of agents began planning to kill JFK because they felt he was a threat to the national security interests of the United States,” he said. “The plot involved both military intelligence in the United States and elements of the Mafia.”
He explained his encounter with Phillips and Oswald was so brief that he did not have time to determine the depth or exact nature of their relationship.
“Fidel Castro was the ideal scapegoat for the murder of JFK,” he explained.
“One of the key elements was Castro’s statement at the embassy in Brazil where Castro warned that any foreign leaders plotting to assassinate him should worry that Castro might turn around and assassinate them.”
He explained he had answered key questions Phillips asked him when planning to order Oswald to take the trip to Mexico City.
Written by JEROME R. CORSI
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