Winston Scott

Winston Scott

Winston Mackinley Scott was born on 30th March, 1909, in Jemison, Alabama. His father, Morgan Scott, worked as a section hand on a gang that maintained the Louisville and Nashville Railroad Company tracks.

After obtaining a degree from the University of Alabama he married Besse Tate started a Ph.D. in algebra at the University of Michigan. He also taught mathematics and after publishing an article on the use of matrices in coded communication appeared in the Annals of Mathematics, he was approached by an Federal Bureau of Investigation agent and asked if he was interested in applying for a job.

Scott joined the FBI on 17th Match, 1941. He was assigned to the Cryptography Section. However, he told J. Edgar Hoover that he wanted to be a Special Agent. Hoover agreed to his request and he was sent to Pittsburgh where he was given instructions to spy on the local German population in order to spy on possible Nazi sympathizers. In February 1943 he was loaned out to the U.S. embassy in Cuba where he served as assistant to a FBI man named Raymond Leddy.

When he returned to Washington he was recruited to the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). He was sent to London and on 5th September, 1944, he was appointed chief of the Germany section of X-2. Chief of the Italy section was James Angleton. The two men both became very friendly with Kim Philby and William K. Harvey.

After the Second World War the Office of Strategic Services was renamed the Strategic Services Unit (SSU). In 1947 this evolved into the Central Intelligence Agency and Scott was appointed as the agency's first station chief in London. At a party he attended he heard Helena Philby, Kim's sister, express anti-American and pro-Soviet politics. This made him suspicious of Kim Philby and reported the incident to Cleveland Cram.

On 15th January 1950, Scott married his second wife, Paula Murray. Scott was also promoted to become chief of the Western European division of the Office of Special Operations. He oversaw all espionage operations collecting intelligence in the friendly nations of West Germany, France and Britain. He worked very closely with Frank Wisner, Richard Helms, Tom Karamessines and William K. Harvey. Scott also kept in contact with Kim Philby and James Angleton, who still met once a week for lunch.

Paula Murray had a series of miscarriages and in September 1955, it was arranged for the couple to adopt a baby boy named Michael who had been born to seventeen-year-old Martha Scruggs. The following year Allen W. Dulles appointed Scott as the CIA's station chief in Mexico. He took up the appointment in August 1956. His reports officer was Anne Goodpasture.

In December 1958, Scott initiated operation LITEMPO, a network of paid agents and collaborators. This included Adolfo Lopez Mateos, Luis Echeverria, Fernando Gutiérrez Barrios and Diaz Ordaz. The CIA promoted the political careers of these men. The agency also arranged for taps on the phones used by political rivals such as Lazaro Cardenas and Vicente Lombardo Toledano.

Anne Goodpasture claims that Scott was politically motivated in his support for the far right in Mexico. She argues that Scott "was extremely conservative... to the right of George Wallace". He clearly believed that it was justified to support military dictatorships in order to prevent the left from gaining power in Mexico and other countries in the region.

After Fidel Castro took power in Cuba Winston Scott was asked by Allen W. Dulles to use his LITEMPO to help overthrow the government. Adolfo Lopez Mateos, who was now president of Mexico resisted this idea. He told Dulles: "There is a lot of sympathy for Castro and his revolution in Mexico. This factor has to be weighed by me in all actions concerning Cuba. For this reason Mexico cannot take any overt action." Lopez Mateos added that covert action was a different matter. "There are many things we should be able to do under the table."

James Angleton wanted Scott to create an "outside" unit that could mount counterintelligence operations against the KGB. According to Jefferson Morley, the author of Our Man in Mexico: "Win (Scott) hated the idea. He flew to Washington to lay down his demands to Jim (Angleton). He said he wanted only career officers for the new counterintelligence unit, not contract employees." Scott later wrote to Angleton insisting that counterintelligence operations had to be run from official cover positions and under his personal control.

In 1961 Scott began an affair with Janet Leddy. When he discovered what was going on, Raymond Leddy took a job at the Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Brian Bell, who worked under Leddy: "It was too bad because he was one of the most competent political officers I ever met in the Foreign Service."

Paula Murray Scott was devastated by the news and began drinking heavily. On 12th September, 1962, Paula was found dead in her home. Her death certificate said that she had died of a "heart attack intestinal tuberculosis". As Jefferson Morley points out: "That contradictory diagnosis was not what a physician would have written. Paula did have intestinal tuberculosis, but such a condition could not have caused death." Later evidence emerged that suggested that she either committed suicide or was murdered. Whatever happened, Scott would have had little difficulty in arranging for a Mexican doctor to say that his wife died of a heart attack.

Janet Leddy immediately obtained a divorce and in December 1962 became Winston Scott's third wife. One of Paula's friends at the Chapultepec Golf Club commented: "It was like he married the motive." Thomas C. Mann, David Atlee Phillips, Adolfo Lopez Mateos and Diaz Ordaz attended the wedding.

Raymond Leddy filed suit against his wife in a Mexican court for "abandonment". He demanded custody of their five children. He also tried unsuccessfully to use his influence in the State Department to have Winston Scott transferred back to the United States.

David Atlee Phillips worked under Scott in Mexico. In April 1963 Scott wrote that: "His (Phillips) comprehensive understanding of human beings combined with a thorough knowledge of covert action techniques and his fluent Spanish make him unusually valuable... He is the most outstanding Covert Action officer that this rating officer has ever worked with."

Scott suggested to Richard Helms that David Atlee Phillips should become his deputy station chief. However, Helms decided to appoint Phillips as Chief of Cuban Operations. Desmond FitzGerald arrived in Mexico City to tell Phillips that he had the freedom to roam the entire Western Hemisphere mounting secret operations to get rid of Fidel Castro. Phillips now worked closely with David Morales at JM WAVE in Miami. Phillips also provided support to Alpha 66. It was later claimed that Phillips told Antonio Veciana his goal was to provoke US intervention in Cuba by "putting Kennedy's back to the wall."

At 11.00 a.m. on Friday, 27th September, 1963, a young American entered the Cuban consul's office. He told Silvia Duran that his name was Lee Harvey Oswald and that he needed a Cuban transit visa. Oswald told Duran that he planned to leave in three days' time and stay in Cuba for a couple of weeks. He then intended to move onto the Soviet Union. To establish his identity Oswald showed Duran her his passport, correspondence with the American Communist Party, his membership card for the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, a newspaper clipping about his activities in New Orleans and a photograph of Oswald in custody, accompanied by two police officers.

Silvia Duran was suspicious of Lee Harvey Oswald. She could not understand why Oswald had not applied in advance by contacting the Communist Party in Cuba. Duran told him that he would need a passport photograph to apply for a visa for Cuba. He returned an hour later with the photograph. Duran then told Oswald she could not issue a transit visa without confirmation that he had clearance for travel to the Soviet Union. Oswald was told it would be at least seven days before his transit visa could be issued. Oswald replied that he could only stay for three days.

Duran told Lee Harvey Oswald he would need to visit the Soviet embassy to get the necessary paperwork. This he did but Vice Consul Oleg Nechiperenko informed him that the visa application would be sent to the Soviet embassy in Washington and would take about four months. Oswald then returned to the Cuban consulate at 4.00 and told Duran that he had been to the Soviet Embassy and that they were willing to give him a visa straight away. Duran phoned the embassy and was told that Oswald was lying and that the visa would not be issued for some time. After a brief argument Oswald left the consulate. Six times Oswald needed to pass the newly installed CIA camera as part of the LIERODE operation.

The CIA surveillance program worked and on Monday, 30th September, Anne Goodpasture recorded details of Oswald’s visits to the Cuban consulate. As Goodpasture noted, the two types of “security” information that most interested the CIA station concerned “U.S. citizens initiating or maintaining contact with the Cuban and Soviet diplomatic installations” and “travel to Cuba by U.S. citizens or residents.”

The CIA tape of the Oswald call to the Soviet embassy was marked “urgent” and was delivered to the station within 15 minutes of it taking place. Winston Scott read Goodpasture’s report and next to the transcript of Duran’s call to the Soviet embassy, he wrote: “Is it possible to identify”.

It later emerged that the CIA station in Mexico was already monitoring Silvia Duran. According to Winston Scott and David Atlee Phillips, the CIA surveillance program had revealed that Duran was having an affair with Carlos Lechuga, the former Cuban ambassador in Mexico City, who was in 1963 serving as Castro’s ambassador to the United Nations.

When Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested in Dallas shortly after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Duran immediately recognized him as the man who visited the Cuban consul's office on 27th September. This was reinforced by the discovery of Duran's name and phone number in Oswald's address book. However, Eusebio Azcue, another man who met Oswald in the office, said the man had dark blond hair and had features quite different from those of the man arrested in Dallas.

The CIA surveillance program worked and on Monday, 30th September, Anne Goodpasture recorded details of Oswald’s visits to the Cuban consulate. As Goodpasture noted, the two types of “security” information that most interested the CIA station concerned “U.S. citizens initiating or maintaining contact with the Cuban and Soviet diplomatic installations” and “travel to Cuba by U.S. citizens or residents.”

The CIA tape of the Oswald call to the Soviet embassy was marked “urgent” and was delivered to the station within 15 minutes of it taking place. Scott read Goodpasture’s report and next to the transcript of Duran’s call to the Soviet embassy, he wrote: “Is it possible to identify”.

Soon after the assassination of John F. Kennedy Scott contacted Luis Echeverria and asked his men to arrest Silvia Duran. He also told Diaz Ordaz that Duran was to be held incommunicado until she gave all details of her contacts with Lee Harvey Oswald. Scott then reported his actions to CIA headquarters. Soon afterwards, John M. Whitten, the CIA head of the Mexican desk, called Scott with orders from Tom Karamessines that Duran was not to be arrested. Win told them it was too late and that the Mexican government would keep the whole thing secret. Karamessines replied with a telegram that began: “Arrest of Sylvia Duran is extremely serious matter which could prejudice U.S. freedom of action on entire question of Cuban responsibility.”

Silvia Duran, her husband and five other people were arrested. Duran was “interrogated forcefully” (Duran was badly bruised during the interview). Luis Echeverria reported to Winston Scott that Duran had been “completely cooperative” and had made a detailed statement. This statement matched the story of the surveillance transcripts, with one exception. The tapes indicated that Duran made another call to the Soviet embassy on Saturday, 28th September. Duran then put an American on the line who spoke incomprehensible Russian. This suggests that the man could not have been Oswald who spoke the language well.

Four days later she was arrested Richard Helms cabled Winston Scott: "We want to ensure that neither Silvia Duran nor Cubans get impression that Americans behind her rearrest. In other words, we want Mexican authorities to take responsibility for whole affair."

On 25th November, Gilberto Alvarado, a 23 year-old Nicaraguan man, contacted the U.S. embassy in Mexico City and said he had some important information about Lee Harvey Oswald. The U.S. ambassador, Thomas C. Mann, passed the information onto Winston Scott and the following morning, Scott's deputy, Alan White and another CIA officer interviewed Avarado. He claimed that during a visit to the Cuban Embassy he overheard a man he now recognised as Oswald, talking to a red-haired Negro man. According to Alvarado, Oswald said something about being man enough to kill someone. He also claimed that he saw money changing hands. He reported the information at the time to the U.S. Embassy but they replied: "Quit wasting our time. We are working here, not playing."

Winston Scott told David Atlee Phillips about what Gilberto Alvarado had said to Alan White. On 26th November, Phillips had a meeting with Alvarado in a safe-house. Avarado told Phillips that the red-haired black man had given Oswald $1,500 for expenses and $5,500 as an advance. Although he was not sure of the date, he thought it was about 18th September.

Thomas C. Mann and David Atlee Phillips believed Alvarado but Scott was not so sure. He argued that there was an "outside possibility" that it might be a set-up by the right-wing government in Nicaragua who wanted the United States to invade Cuba. However, as Jefferson Morley pointed out in Our Man in Mexico: "The unstated message emanating from the White House was by now clear to Win - though not to Mann. Speculation about Oswald's motives was to be cut off, not pursued."

On 27th November, Luis Echeverria told Scott that they had rearrested Silvia Duran because she was trying to leave Mexico for Cuba. Thomas C. Mann sent a message to Winston Scott that stated: "Duran should be told that as the only living non-Cuban who knew the full story, she was in exactly the same position as Oswald prior to the assassination. Her only chance of survival is to come clean with the whole story and cooperate fully. I think she'll crack when confronted with the details."

On 28th November, Scott contacted Luis Echeverria and told him that Washington wanted the Mexicans to interrogate Gilberto Alvarado. On 29th November, Scott received a message from John M. Whitten saying: "Please continue to keep us filled in on status of interrogations of Slvia Duran, Alvarado and others implicated as fast as you can get info."

J. Edgar Hoover sent FBI agent, Larry Keenan, to Mexico City in order to have a meeting with Scott, Thomas C. Mann and David Atlee Phillips. Mann started the meeting by expressing the belief that Fidel Castro and the DGI were behind the assassination of John F. Kennedy and that it was just a matter of time before the United States invaded Cuba. However, Keenan replied that Hoover, Lyndon B. Johnson and Robert Kennedy, all believed that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.

Thomas C. Mann later told Dick Russell: "It surprised me so much. That was the only time it ever happened to me - We don't want to hear any more about the case - and tell the Mexican government not to do any more about it, not to do more investigating, we just want to hush it up.... I don't think the U.S. was very forthcoming about Oswald... it was the strangest experience of my life."

In reality, J. Edgar Hoover had not ruled out the possibility of a communist plot to kill John F. Kennedy. At 1.40 on 29th November, Hoover told Lyndon B. Johnson on the telephone: "This angle in Mexico is giving us a great deal of trouble because the story there is of this man Oswald getting $6,500 from the Cuban embassy and then coming back to this country with it. We're not able to prove that fact, but the information was that he was there on the 18th of September in Mexico City and we are able to prove conclusively he was in New Orleans that day. Now then they've changed the dates. The story came in changing the dates to the 28th of September and he was in Mexico City on the 28th. Now the Mexican police have again arrested this woman Duran, who is a member of the Cuban embassy... and we're going to confront her with the original informant, who saw the money pass, so he says, and we're also going to put the lie detector test on him."

That evening Fernando Gutiérrez Barrios told Winston Scott that Gilberto Alvarado had recanted and signed a statement admitting that his story of seeing Lee Harvey Oswald in the Cuban Embassy was completely false. He said his motive was to try to get the United States to take action against Fidel Castro.

A few days later Gilberto Alvarado reverted to his original story. He told his Nicaraguan handler that the only reason that he recanted was that his interrogators threatened "to hang him by his testicles". However, soon afterwards, he recanted again. David Atlee Phillips later claimed that Alvarado was "dispatched to Mexico City by the Somoza brothers... in what they considered a covert action to influence the American government to move against Cuba". Jefferson Morley argues that Phillips is being disingenuous: "Phillips knew all along about Alvarado's service as a CIA informant. Even the FBI knew all along he was under CIA control."

Silvia Duran was questioned about her relationship with Lee Harvey Oswald. Despite being roughed up she denied having a sexual relationship with Oswald. Luis Echeverria believed her and she was released. However, Duran later admitted to a close friend that she had dated Oswald while he was in Mexico City.

A week after the assassination Elena Garro reported that she had seen Oswald at a party held by people from the Cuban consulate in September 1963. The following week, June Cobb, a CIA informant, confirmed Oswald presence at the party. She also had been told that Oswald was sleeping with Duran. Winston Scott reported this information to CIA headquarters but never got a reply.

It emerged later that when Duran was interviewed by the Mexican authorities soon after the assassination she described the man who visited the Cuban consul's office as being "blond-haired" and with "blue or green eyes". Neither detail fits in with the authentic Oswald. But these details had been removed from the statement by the time it reached the Warren Commission.

Scott continued as head of the CIA station in Mexico. According to Anne Goodpasture: "Win never trusted anyone. The deputies were in a position that it was pretty much in name only because Win was there all the time. He was prone to exaggeration, and in retrospect, I felt that he probably didn't want to be away because they would find out that he was probably exaggerating things. There were numerous instances in which he changed figures. Somebody would describe a crowd of 500 in the newspaper; he would add another zero."

Jefferson Morley argues in Our Man in Mexico: "By the mid-1960s, Win was effectively the second most powerful man in Mexico, outranked only by Diaz Ordaz. He thought Mexico was in fine shape. Construction cranes loomed on the increasingly smoggy skyline. One hundred thirty-eight miles of boulevards and expressways had been built since his arrival in the city a decade earlier."

The Tlatelolco Massacre took place on 2nd October, 1968, ten days before the 1968 Summer Olympics celebrations in Mexico City. Winston Scott attempted to cover-up the massacre by reporting back to Washington that 8 students and six soldiers had been killed. He also claimed that the students instigated the violence. It is still not known how many people were killed by the soldiers who opened fire on the student gathering but some accounts claim that it was as many as 300.

In June 1969 Richard Helms presented Winston Scott with the Distinguished Intelligence Medal. He was also told he was being moved back to Washington. Scott refused the post and decided to retire from the agency. Bill Broe, the CIA division chief argued that "Win's retirement didn't have anything to do with the events of October 1968."

Winston Scott remained in Mexico City and along with Ferguson Dempster set up a company called Diversified Corporate Services. Dempster remarked: "We established ourselves as consultants for people who wanted to do business in Mexico. However, Thomas C. Mann claimed that Scott was running "his own personal intelligence organization... The Mexicans wanted to use his expertise and knowledge of Mexico, especially the intelligence side of it."

He also wrote a memoir about his time in the FBI, OSS and the CIA. He completed the manuscript, It Came To Little, and made plans to discuss the contents of the book with CIA director, Richard Helms, in Washington on 30th April, 1971. Scott told John Horton, the chief of the CIA station in Mexico City, that he would not be talked out of publishing the book.

Winston Scott died on 26th April, 1971. No autopsy was performed, and a postmortem suggested he had suffered a heart attack. When Anne Goodpasture heard the news of Scott’s death she went straight to James Angleton to tell him that Scott had classified documents in his home safe (Scott had tapes and photos of Oswald).

Angleton visited Scott's wife in Mexico City on 28th April. Michael Scott, Winston Scott's son, told Dick Russell that James Angleton took away his father's manuscript. Angleton also confiscated three large cartons of files including a tape-recording of the voice of Lee Harvey Oswald. Michael Scott was also told by a CIA source that his father had not died from natural causes.

Michael Scott eventually got his father's manuscript back from the CIA. However, 150 pages were missing. Chapters 13 to 16 were deleted in their entirety. In fact, everything about his life after 1947 had been removed on grounds of national security.

In 1995 the Assassination Records Review Board ordered that Winston Scott's eight-page chapter on Lee Harvey Oswald should declassified. In the chapter, Scott argued that the Warren Commission was wrong to claim on page 777 that Oswald's visit to the Cuban consulate "was not known until after the assassination."

He claimed that the CIA investigation of Oswald in Mexico had been superficial and that it failed to take into account his relationship with Silvia Duran. The manuscript included the following: "Every piece of information concerning Lee Harvey Oswald was reported immediately after it was received to: U.S. Ambassador Thomas C. Mann, by memorandum; the FBI Chief in Mexico, by memorandum; and to my headquarters by cable; and included in each and every one of these reports was the entire conversation Oswald had, from Cuban Consulate, with the Soviet Embassy".

Scott did not mention that he had classified documents, tapes and photographs to support his claims. He believed that John F. Kennedy was killed by a conspiracy and that Lee Harvey Oswald was probably a communist agent. However, Scott did not explain the reasons why his former CIA colleagues, Allen W. Dulles, James Angleton and Richard Helms covered-up this conspiracy.

Primary Sources

(1) Jefferson Morley, The Man Who Did Not Talk (November, 2007)

It is possible that Joannides was not presented with Oswald's name prior to the assassination, but the latest declassified records confirm that a half dozen other top CIA officials were aware of the itinerant ex-Marine and interested in his movements. In September 1963, a month after confronting Joannides's assets in New Orleans, Oswald went to Mexico City and visited the Cuban consulate, seeking a visa. He passed through a CIA surveillance program code-named LIERODE. He then visited the Soviet Embassy where his voice was picked up by a telephonic wiretapping program known as LIENVOY. (These recordings of Oswald, seized from the home office safe of Mexico City station chief Win Scott, were hidden from investigators and later destroyed.) Then, in November, after he returned to Dallas, Oswald wrote a letter to the Soviet Embassy in Washington about his contacts with the Cubans and Soviets in Mexico. The letter was opened by the FBI who shared it with the CIA's counterintelligence staff which had responsibility for tracking Soviet defectors.

John Newman, an Army intelligence analyst turned historian, was the first to parse the new records in his 1995 book Oswald and the CIA. "What we've learned since Stone's movie is that the CIA's interest in Oswald was a lot deeper than they have ever acknowledged," Newman wrote. "As Oswald made his way toward Dallas, the reporting about him was channeled into a file controlled by an office in the counterintelligence staff called the Special Investigations Group."

The SIG, as it was known, was the operational office of James Angleton, the first chief of counterintelligence for the CIA, a legendary controversial figure whose exploits inspired the movie The Good Shepherd. Some thought him a charming and brilliant theorist; others thought him a bully and a paranoid menace. "When Oswald shows up in Mexico City," Newman explains, "his file goes over to the Western Hemisphere division which reviews it and sends out a cable to the State Department and other agencies that is -- how can I put it? -- very selective."

This cable, dated October 10, 1963, is no smoking gun. But is one of the key new documents in the JFK paper trail whose significance is not appreciated by the mainstream media or the furious partisans of the JFK chat groups. The cable, not fully declassified until 2002, was sent after a CIA surveillance microphone picked up Oswald's name during his conversations with the Cubans and Russians in Mexico City. "Who was Oswald?" station chief Scott asked headquarters. "We don't know," replied Langley in the cable. The "latest HDQS info," dated May 1962, was that Oswald was returning from the Soviet Union and had matured politically. In fact, that was not the CIA's latest information, as one of Angleton's aides admitted to the Washington Post in 1995. Acknowledging that she helped draft this cable, this aide said in a tape-recorded interview: "I'm signing off on something I know isn't true." What the cable's authors deliberately omitted, among other things, was mention of a September 1963 FBI report on Oswald's encounters with the DRE in New Orleans.

The most senior official to sign off on the inaccurate cable was Tom Karamessines, trusted assistant to CIA Deputy Director Helms. If Helms was a master spy, the man who kept the secrets, Karamessines was the dependable sidekick who helped him do it. Karamessines was also the patron of his fellow Greek American, Miami field man George Joannides.

The interest of these senior officials does not necessarily imply anything more sinister than a bureaucracy's natural tendency to cover its ass. The CIA had ample reason to be monitoring Oswald in late 1963. He publicly supported the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, a pro-Castro group, formally classified as a "subversive" organization by U.S. national security agencies. He attempted to travel to Cuba via Mexico, a signal of intent to violate U.S. law. Naturally, the Agency was paying attention. But for all this interest, no one thought to discuss Oswald with the Secret Service or the Dallas police. Little wonder that when the name of the suspect in the assassination was first heard at CIA headquarters in Langley, "the effect was electric," as one agency official put it, employing a phrase that was censored from public view for more than three decades.

What is clear is that Oswald was the person in whom the agency had taken considerable interest -- and whose interest it took considerable pains to cover up.

(2) Jefferson Morley, Our Man in Mexico (2008)

Birch O'Neal, head of Angleton's Special Investigations Group, weighed in, via cable, with a suggestion. He told Win that it was "important you review all LIENVOY tapes and transcripts since Sept 27 to locate all materials possibly pertinent." O'Neal thought correctly that such material would date to September 27, the day Oswald first contacted the Cuban consulate in Mexico City. But how did he know that? It was either a lucky guess or, more likely, SIG knew of Oswald's Cuban contacts in advance of Kennedy's assassination.

Another key question: Where were the surveillance tapes of Oswald, aside from those of his October 1 call to the Soviet embassy? Headquarters demanded an answer from Win, and David Phillips came up with one. They had been erased. More than a decade later, Phillips told the Church Committee exactly when it happened. "It was not until after 5 pm on November 23, 1963 that Agency headquarters cabled its station in Mexico City as to whether the original tapes were available," the committee stated in its final report. "David Phillips recalls that this inquiry precipitated CIA station's search for the tapes which confirmed that they had been erased."

Phillips's recollection was technically accurate. It was true that the originals had been erased. Phillips did not know or did not say that Anne Goodpasture had a duplicate of at least one of the Oswald conversations. Win said the same thing. He relayed three of the transcripts of Oswald's phone calls to Helms in Washington. He did not send the transcript of the call about Oswald's travel plans made by Cuban consulate employee Sylvia Duran on September 27. About the Saturday, September 28, conversation, he wrote, "Subject is probably OSWALD. Station unable compare voice as first tape erased prior to receipt of 2nd call." With that dubious claim, the CIAs false story that there were no LIENVOY tapes of Oswald's conversations came into being.

The issue of Oswald's visit to the Cuban consulate was, as always, handled with the utmost discretion. One pressing question for Win was, what did Sylvia Duran know about Oswald? The station already had a "substantial interest" in her before the assassination, Phillips later admitted, not the least because surveillance had revealed that she had had an affair with Carlos Lechuga, the former Cuban ambassador in Mexico City, who was now serving as Castro's ambassador to the United Nations. At least one Mexican source on the CIA payroll had told his case officer that "all that would have to be done to recruit Ms. Duran was to get a blonde, blue-eyed American in bed with her."

Win called Luis Echeverria, the trim, self-effacing sub secretary to Diaz Ordaz, the minister of government, whom Win had recruited into the LITEMPO network. Echeverria, as LITEMPO-8, had shown the ability to get things done. Win asked him to have his men arrest Sylvia Duran. Then he called Diaz Ordaz, expecting full cooperation from the Gobernacion minister. He asked that Duran be held incommunicado until she gave all details of her contacts with Oswald. Diaz Ordaz agreed. Within an hour, President Lopez Mateos himself called. Win was expecting condolences for Kennedy's death, but his friend wanted to share some intelligence. His people working in the LIENVOY joint operations center had located the transcript of Oswald's September 28 call.

But when Win reported his aggressive police work to CIA headquarters, he was rebuked. Mexico desk chief John Whitten called on a nonsecure phone line with urgent orders from Helms's top deputy, Tom Karamessines: call off the Mexicans. Don't arrest Sylvia Duran. Win told him it was too late, but not to worry. The Mexican government would keep the arrest secret and make sure no information leaked.

Not reassured, Karamessines followed up with a cable to make sure Win understood his instructions.


A decade later, when investigators discovered this cable and asked for an explanation, Karamessines said he had no recollection of it. When pressed on why he might have issued such an order, he said that the CIA might have "feared that the Cubans were responsible [for the assassination] and that Duran might reveal this during an interrogation." He further ventured that "if Duran did possess such information, the CIA and the U.S. government would need time to react before it came to public attention." But Karamessines could not explain why he sought to prevent Win from using his Mexican contacts to learn what Duran knew.

John Whitten, chief of the Mexico desk, wrote a rare memorandum for the record stating that he opposed Karamessines's order. When Senate investigators asked him about his objections in 1976, he too said he had no recollection of the memo he had initialed. But he did attempt an explanation. "We were concerned about blowing the revealing our telephone taps, prematurely revealing our knowledge that Oswald had been in the Cuban consulate at all," he told investigators. "Of course, that all came out later in the papers and so on but at this juncture... the 23rd, the next day. We were keeping a lid on everything because we didn't know which way the thing was going to go." Might the United States attack Cuba in retaliation for the murder of the president? That question did not need to be asked at CIA headquarters, Whitten said. "It was just in the air."

Two years later, Whitten came up with a more incisive explanation. At the time we were not sure that Oswald might not have been a Cuban agent, and the arrest of a foreign consular person was quite a serious matter under international law. Although Sylvia Duran was a Mexican.... Karamessines may not have known at the time and simply felt that this breach of international law, violation of her immunity, might have made it awkward for the United States, if we wanted to let out a roar of outrage if we discovered that Castro had been behind the assassination. In other words, Karamessines feared that this whole thing [the arrest of Duran] might be laid at the United States doorstep."

But why wouldn't American officials want to question a communist who had contact with the man who had apparently killed the president?

Jim Angleton did not want to answer that question. He told congressional investigators he had a "vague recollection" of Karamessines's order. 'All I would say is that usually if Tom intervened it was for good reason ... because he had superior information."

Karamessines's order to Win showed that within twenty-four hours of Kennedy's assassination, top CIA officials were maneuvering to preserve their "freedom of action" to blame the crime on Castro an option that would have generated the U.S. invasion of the island that Cuba hawks had long favored. The command evoked the mind-set that generated Operation Northwoods, the Pentagon pretext operations conceived and rejected by JFK in 1962 and 1963: if Castro could be blamed for a horrible crime against American interests, then the U.S. government might be able to justify an invasion to overthrow him. The Karamessines order also illuminated the difference between Win and his superiors in Washington.

(3) Jefferson Morley, Our Man in Mexico (2008)

Why would senior U.S. government officials, every one of whom professed to loathe Fidel Castro and more than a few of whom had countenanced conspiracies to murder him, refuse to investigate contacts between his government and the man who just killed the president with a gunshot to the head? Why would they want to prevent examination of the seemingly pregnant possibility that the pro-Castro Oswald was part of a communist plot, especially at a time when Gilberto Alvarado, vouched for by David Phillips, the chief of Cuba operations in Mexico , was still being questioned?"