William C. Bishop was born in 1923. During the Second World War he joined the United States Army. Bishop served under General Douglas MacArthur as Military Intelligence Aide on the General Staff of Intelligence. His immediate superior was Charles Willoughby. Bishop also worked with Willoughby during the Korean War.
Bishop also worked with the Central Intelligence Agency and became involved in its Black Operations. This involved a policy that was later to become known as Executive Action (a plan to remove unfriendly foreign leaders from power). In 1961 he was responsible for the assassination of Rafael Trujillo, the leader of the Dominican Republic.
Bishop was also involved in Operation 40, a CIA hit squad set up before the Bay of Pigs invasion. Frank Sturgis, another member of Operation 40, later explained: "this assassination group (Operation 40) would upon orders, naturally, assassinate either members of the military or the political parties of the foreign country that you were going to infiltrate, and if necessary some of your own members who were suspected of being foreign agents... We were concentrating strictly in Cuba at that particular time. Actually, they were operating out of Mexico, too."
During this period Bishop worked under Desmond FitzGerald and was involved with anti-Castro groups in Miami such as Alpha 66. He was also case officer for Antonio Veciana and claims that Santo Trafficante helped to fund his organization. Bishop also had a close relationship with David Atlee Phillips and Roland Masferrer.
In December 1962, Felipe Vidal Santiago had a meeting with a lawyer connected to a "Citizen's Committee to Free Cuba". He told Vidal about a conversation he had with Henry Cabot Lodge, who had been told by Walt Rostow, that John F. Kennedy was exploring "a plan to open a dialogue with Cuba." Vidal was furious about what he considered to be an act of betrayal and immediately told leaders of the anti-Castro community and his CIA contact, Colonel William Bishop. According to Dick Russell, Vidal was also "an information conduit for" General Edwin Walker.
Dick Russell later interviewed William Bishop who confirmed that he was aware of the plot to kill John F. Kennedy. He claimed the plot included people such as Tony Varona and Roland Masferrer. "By 1963, the Cuban element - see, Kennedy had gone to Miami, to the Orange Bowl down there, and made this statement that the brigade's flag would fly over Cuba and all this crap. That was a stopgap. The exiles for a time believed him. Then shortly after that, a presidential executive order came out that no military-style incursions into Cuba based from the United States would be tolerated. The end result was complete distrust and dislike for Kennedy and his administration by the Cuban exiles. You take Tony Varona and Rolando Masferrer to name but two - and there were many, many more - when serious talk began to happen about the possibility of assassinating Kennedy."
In another interview he gave to Dick Russell in 1990, Bishop claimed that Jimmy Hoffa gave Roland Masferrer $50,000 to arrange the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Bishop disapproved of this act: "I firmly believe that, in our system of government, if you don't like the man, then vote him out of office. Don't shoot him out. And we had a coup d'état on November 22, 1963."
I did look into Oswald's background. I'd never met him, but I'd seen him in a training film in New Orleans the past summer. He just happened to be in the group out there at the Pontchartrain camp. Trying to get in with the anti-Castro exiles. I thought even then (after the assassination) that Oswald was a decoy. There's no way in hell he could have fired three shots in that space of time, with that accuracy, with that weapon.
Of course, when Oswald was killed, the Warren Commission's investigation was a big joke. The whole bit - Military Intelligence, CIA, FBI. Where the mistake was made, the intelligence reports coming in from various men in the field were not assimilated and categorized and broken down to get some logical conclusion. The Warren Commission went into this thing with a preconceived idea. Overly simplified, in Oswald's case they tried to take a round peg and drive that son of a bitch into a square hole. And they did it.
"What were you doing in New Orleans that summer?" I asked. Bishop paused and took a deep breath, pushing his glasses back above his nose. He turned to give a hard look at Gary Shaw. "How far can I really trust him?" Bishop asked, casting a finger in my direction. "Tell him anything you'd tell me," Shaw replied.
Bishop nodded and continued: "I was to obtain additional funding, say this and no more, from the crime Syndicate out of New Orleans, for Alpha 66. At that point in time, Rolando Masferrer was the key bagman, for lack of a better term, for Alpha 66. Primarily the funding came through the Syndicate, because of Masferrer's connections with those people back in Cuba. He had ties with Santos Trafficante, Jr., and other criminal elements. Organized crime, pure and simple. He also had different ties with Jimmy Hoffa. As far back as 1962,1 think.
"But Rolando, from time to time when it came to large sums of money, had sticky fingers. I think that's why he was killed, eventually. Either that, or the Kennedy assassination. Because he knew about it."
The colonel stopped talking again, sat in silence for a time, then resumed in low tones. "By 1963, the Cuban element - see, Kennedy had gone to Miami, to the Orange Bowl down there, and made this statement that the brigade's flag would fly over Cuba and all this crap. That was a stopgap. The exiles for a time believed him. Then shortly after that, a presidential executive order came out that no military-style incursions into Cuba based from the United States would be tolerated. The end result was complete distrust and dislike for Kennedy and his administration by the Cuban exiles. You take Tony Varona and Rolando Masferrer to name but two - and there were many, many more - when serious talk began to happen about the possibility of assassinating Kennedy."
He (Felipe Vidal Santiago) was arrested in March of 1964 when he tried to ram his boat in Cuba with three others to perform acts of sabotage. There he had many conversations with us. He just told us this of his own accord. We didn't ask questions. Our interest really were in the plan of sabotage. Sabotage when and where. We wanted to know what was behind the sabotage and then he started to talk about his subject. So then, that's why a decision was made to take down everything he said. And that's why we have tapes. He talked about things not associated with the sabotage. There were too many people, we didn't have the resources or tapes to take it. It was in his first declaration, it was political information. He came to us for the first time to talk to us about September of 1962, opening a communication with Cuba. And that was very important to tape all of his conversations about Cuba.
He was informing the groups of exiles in the United States about Kennedy administrations attempts to have dialog with Cuba. While interrogating Santiago in Cuba, we came up with some more interesting information. He was arrested in 1964, March. A few months after the assassination. He explained that he had a relationship with a CIA official, who was military intelligence - William Bishop. He says that in November of 1963, William Bishop invited him to a meeting in Dallas. It was a meeting with a few wealthy people in Dallas talking about financing an anti-Castro.
The first few days of November, 1963. He says that William Bishop picked him up in his car in Miami and they drove to Dallas. They were there for about four days. This would had to have happened the weekend before the assassination, according to what he says. They stayed in a second class hotel. They stayed in a second class hotel. Bishop left several times to have interviews. But this guy did not know who he was talking to. After approximately four days, they returned to Miami. After the assassination, they were in Tallahassee, when he went to visit a new house for a new car.
After the October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis brought the USA and USSR to the brink of nuclear war, Kennedy's agreement with the Soviets officially barred further U.S. attempts to overthrow Castro or invade Cuba, and U.S.-Soviet relations began to thaw. Even though the CIA continued to plot Castro's assassination, the Kennedy Administration quietly began seeking a rapprochement with Cuba, says Escalante. But before long, wind of the President's efforts got to the CIA and its Miami-based Cuban-exile minions.
Exile militant Felipe Vidal Santiago, arrested on a 1964 sabotage mission into Cuba, told his captors that in Washington, D.C. in December 1962 he'd met with a lawyer/lobbyist connected to a "Citizen's Committee to Free Cuba." This lawyer informed Vidal Santiago of a conversation he'd had with Republican Henry Cabot Lodge, soon to be U.S. ambassador to South Vietnam, who said he'd heard from Kennedy aide Walt Rostow of "a plan to open a dialogue with Cuba."
"Vidal told us he was very surprised," says Escalante. In fact Vidal, infuriated and betrayed, had alerted his exile cohorts, as well as a CIA contact, Colonel William Bishop. "It was almost like a bomb, an intentional message against Kennedy." Vidal was also an information conduit for General Edwin Walker, the ultra-right Texan paramilitary leader at whom Oswald had allegedly taken a shot in April 1963. And FBI files call Vidal a "very close friend" of Miami mobster John Martino, who intimated to family and associates that he had foreknowledge of the JFK assassination...
Felipe Vidal Santiago told Cuban intelligence that on the weekend before the assassination, he was invited to a meeting in Dallas by the CIA's Colonel William Bishop. "It was supposed to be a meeting with a few wealthy people to talk about financing anti-Castro operations," says Escalante. Bishop left on his own "for interviews" numerous times during their stay in Dallas. After approximately four days they returned to Miami.
Not long before his death in 1993, Colonel Bishop confirmed to this writer that he'd had knowledge of the JFK plot. The Cubans indicate that the Vidal-Bishop Dallas trip concerned plans for re-taking the island once Castro's people had been implicated in the assassination.
Escalante surmises: "Oswald was an intelligence agent of the U.S.-CIA, FBI, military, or all of these, we don't know. He was manipulated, told he was penetrating a group of Cuban agents that wanted to kill Kennedy. But from the very beginning, he was to be the element to blame Cuba."
"Not less than 15 persons took part in the assassination," Escalante theorizes. "At the same time, knowing a little about CIA operations, we see how they used the principle of decentralized operations-independent parties with a specific role, to guarantee compartmentalization and to keep it simple."
The Nassau gathering marked the inception of what is anticipated will be an ongoing exchange between Cuban and U.S. researchers into the assassination. The hope is that access to Cuban documentation might be provided in the future-such as Tony Cuesta's written "declaration." The fact that former Cuban intelligence officials are willing to share their knowledge signifies a momentous watershed in the ongoing effort to unravel the haunting mystery of who really killed JFK.