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Addenda on Oswald'€™s Impersonation / The Anti-Latell Report

The Anti-Latell Report: Addenda on Oswald'€™s Impersonation

By  (about the author)

Three explanatory books
(image by Amazon - Mary Ferrell Foundation)

Although Professor John McAdams wrote The JFK Assassination Logic (Potomac Books, 2011), the book is far away from its declared purpose of "how to think about claims of conspiracy." The underlying intention is to reject all claims of conspiracy and to confirm the Warren Commission (WC) Report on a lone gunman who shot a magic bullet. Thus, Professor McAdams devised his logic on the basis of the classic Only Game in Town (OGT) fallacy.

Even if it weren't available, a better account than the WC report, nobody is obliged to accept it in default, because there is always an alternative to the OGT fallacy: to find a more plausible explanation. All the JFK assassination researchers face the same logical problem of finding evidence that strongly discriminates between the two competing hypotheses:

        : The deed of a lone gunman

        : The result of a conspiracy

All of them are forced to infer to the best explanation through good arguments, id est: those containing true premises related in the right way to the conclusion. For this kind of reasoning, the American philosopher Charles Sanders Pierce coined the term "abduction," but it rather suggests kidnapping nowadays. We can use instead "inference to the best explanation" for what Pierce meant, and he actually meant that an observation O strongly favors one hypothesis (let's say ) over another ( ) if the following conditions are satisfied at once:

        If were true, is to be expected (unsurprising)

        If were true, would have been unexpected (surprising)

The No Surprise / Surprise Principle rules the inference to the best explanation and it applies not only to the whole set of facts regarding the JFK assassination, but also for every single fact in dispute.

Oswald's Impersonation in Mexico City

In the fourth part of the series, I trusted the old sleuth Alan H. Belmont in his report to FBI Associate Director Clyde A. Tolson: "The Agents who have talked to Oswald have listened to the tape provided by CIA of the call allegedly made by Oswald to the Soviet Embassy, and they do not think the individual is Oswald, as his voice is different, and he spoke in broken English" (Research Papers of John Armstrong, Book 1, Notebook 2, pages 38-39).

Jane Davidson replied that Belmont misunderstood what Dallas FBI Special Agent in Charge Gordon Shanklin told him at 9:15 AM on November 23, 1963. If this hypothesis were true, it's surprising that, after calling Shanklin again at 11:50 am EST, Belmont kept on reporting to Tolson: "Inasmuch as the Dallas agents who listened to the tape of the conversation allegedly of Oswald from the Cuban Embassy to the Russian Embassy in Mexico and examined the photographs of the visitor to the Embassy in Mexico and were of the opinion that neither the tape or the photograph pertained to Oswald, I requested Shanklin to immediately send a photograph of Oswald to our Legal Attaché."

Davidson discovered that the very agent who had flown from Mexico City with CIA materials for the FBI in Dallas, Eldon Rudd, had memoed: "CIA has advised that these tapes have been erased and are not available for review." The HSCA concluded: "A review of relevant FBI cable traffic established that at 7:23 p.m. (CST) on November 23, 1963, Dallas Special Agent-in-Charge Shanklin advised Director Hoover that only a report of this conversation was available, not an actual tape recording" (Final Report, page 250). And Professor McAdams flatly states: "No tapes from Mexico City were sent to Dallas. That's a factoid."

The well established fact is then that the tapes were erased. It's surprising, since the hypothesis of common sense indicates that the CIA must have preserved taped conversations involving an American citizen who had visited both the Cuban and the Soviet embassies in Mexico City.

Instead of going deeper into this fact -- to show "how to think about claims of conspiracy" -- Professor McAdams simply used it as evidence of a "Clueless J. Edgar Hoover" and against the hypothesis of Oswald's impersonation without inferring to the best explanation through some good arguments:

        The own CIA Mexico City Station History refers it as "the best in WH [Western Hemisphere] and possibly one of the best in the Agency. [Its] technical facilities and capabilities were described as extraordinary and impressive" (page 45). Its two phone tap operations were LIENVOY and LIFEAT. The former focused on the Soviet bloc's and Cuban diplomatic compounds (page 104 ff.).

        In August 1963, the monthly operational report for LIENVOY included the protocol for exploiting info (page 3): "The outside staff agent, Arnold AREHART [Charles Flick], has instructions to alert the Station immediately if a U.S. citizen or English speaking person tries to contact any of the target installations [by] a telephone call from outside the tap center at a pay phone to Robert B. RIGGS [Anne Goodpasture] inside the Station (") RIGGS meets AREHART within fifteen minutes at a pre-arranged downtown location and receives the reel with an extract of the pertinent conversation. This reel is then taken to the Station and given to the case officer responsible for the target the person was trying to contact. Headquarters is notified by cable of the action taken. Only in rare cases is information on a U.S. citizen passed without prior Headquarters approval."

        By the time of Oswald's visit to Mexico City, LIENVOY had intercepted three Cuban lines: Ambassador (14-42-37), Chancery (14-13-26) and Commercial Office (25-09-14) , and five Soviet lines: Commercial Office (15-61-07), Soviet Film representative's (15-12-64), Military Attaché's (15-69-87) and two consulate lines at the Chancery (15-60-55 and 15-61-55). From all of them, LIENVOY recorded the dialed digits and audio for outgoing calls and just audio for incoming calls.

        At Russ Holmes Work File (NARA 104-10413-10074), the September 27 -- October 1, 1963 LIENVOY transcripts [in Spanish and some in English] show five taped conversations linked to Oswald [emphasis added].

        Page 4. September 27, 16:00 hours. Phone number: 15-60-55. The Soviet Consulate received a call from the Cuban Consulate (Sylvia DURAN) who said she had there a U.S. citizenwho had requested a transit visa to Cuba because he is going to URSS (") [A] Soviet tells her to leave her telephone (number) and her name and someone will return the call. DURAN gives her name and phone number 11-28-47.

        Page 17. September 27, 16:26 hours. Phone number: 15-61-55. A Soviet calls from the Soviet Embassy Chancery to the Cuban Consulate and asks for Sylvia DURAN. He asks DURAN if the American has been there.

DURAN: Yes, he is still here.

SOVIET: According to the letters that he showed them from the (Soviet) Consulate in Washington, he wants to go the URSS to stay a long time with his wife, who is Russian, but also the answer had not been received (") This man (the American) showed him a letter in which he (the American) is a member of an organization in favor of Cuba and said that the Cubans could not give him the visa without the Russian visa."

DURAN: [H]e doesn't know anyone in Cuba and in that case it is very difficult to give him a visa [and] neither can (the Cubans) give him a letter because they do not know if the visa will be approved."

SOVIET: Neither can I give him any letter of recommendation because I don't know him."

On the second call's Spanish transcript, the Chief of Station (COS) Win Scott noted: "Is it possible to identify?" This reaction is to be expected under the hypothesis of normal circumstances, but Scott's next move reinforces the alternate hypothesis: something anomalous was going on.

On October 10, Scott wrote the LIENVOY operational report for September 1963 and referred only "two leads of operational interest" (page 3): a female professor from New Orleans calling the Soviet Embassy, and a Czech woman calling the Czech embassy (page 4). It's very surprising that a U.S. citizen at the Cuban Consulate, who had requested a transit visa to go on to URSS and showed to the Soviets a letter of membership to a pro Cuba organization, was neither reported as an operational lead nor notified to Headquarters, in flagrant violation of the CIA protocol. The hypothesis of abnormality becomes stronger due to the next call.

        Page 26. September 28, ca. 12:00 hours. Phone number 15-60-55. The Soviet Embassy Consulate receives a call from Sylvia DURAN of the Cuban Consulate. She says that here in the Consulate there is an American that was just at the Soviet Embassy. A Soviet says to wait a minute. DURAN, while waiting, speaks to someone in background, 'Do you speak Russian? Yes, why don't you talk to him? I don't know.' Then back to Spanish, DURAN says they installed a telephone for APARICIO and take down the number as 14-12-99. 'About this U.S. citizen, he is going to talk with you.'"

AMERICAN: Speaking in broken Russian, 'I was in your Embassy and spoke to your consul.'"

SOVIET: 'Just a minute' ... 'Ask the American in English what does he want?'"

AMERICAN: In Russian, 'Please speak Russian.'"

SOVIET: 'What else do you want?'"

AMERICAN: 'I was just now at your Embassy and they took my address.'"

SOVIET: 'I know that.'"

AMERICAN: [Translator comment: speaks terrible, hardly recognizable Russian] 'I did not know it then. I went to the Cuban Embassy to ask them for my address, because they have it.'"

SOVIET: 'Why don't you come again and leave your address with us. It is not far from the Cuban Embassy.'"

AMERICAN: 'Well, I'll be there right away.'"

If the hypothesis of Oswald in Mexico City for visa proceedings were true, it's to be expected that he would have gone right away to the Soviet Embassy. He didn't come ever again. This was incontrovertibly stated by Valeriy Kostikov and Oleg Nechiporenko, two Soviet officials who dealt with Oswald that very Saturday before noon at the Soviet Consulate. They also claimed that no outsider could have placed that call because the switchboard was closed (Passport to Assassination, Birch Lane-Carol, 1993, pages 75-81).

The transcripts corroborate that all the callers that Saturday, except "Duran," were people with friends or relatives at the Soviet Consulate. Furthermore Sylvia Duran (née Tirado), a Mexican employee at the Cuban Consulate, consistently denied having made such call. She was arrested and harshly interrogated by the Mexican Police on November 23 and November 28. The info taken from her included that "she had no fear [of] extradition to the United States to face Oswald" (page 13). Surprisingly, the CIA had fear [of] "any Americans to confront Silvia DURAN or to be in contact with her" (page 16).

Neither the eyewitness [Duran] nor the earwitnesses [CIA transcribers Boris and Anna Tarasoff] were ever questioned about the call by the WC. The info developed by CIA barely stated: "We deduce that OSWALD visited the Cuban Consulate [again] on September 1963 (") This may well have been 28 September, but we cannot be certain of this conclusion" (page 3).

It's surprising not only that the CIA didn't trust its own LIENVOY evidence, but also that such critical wiretapped call by "Duran and Oswald" was omitted in the September LIENVOY Report, even though COS Scott wrote it after having notified an intriguing October 1 call to Headquarters. To cap it all, the CIA "Responses to Questions Raised by [HSCA] to Richard Sprague" included that "the Station went onto say that it was unable to compare the voices in the two conversations because the tape of the first conversation (September 28) had been erased before the second call (1 October) had been received" (page 33).

        Page 38. October 1, 10:31 hours. To phone number 15-69-87. A man outside (MO) calls the Soviet Military Attaché Office speaking in broken Russian.

MO: 'Hello, I was at your place last Saturday and talked to your Consul. They said they'd send a telegram to Washington and I wanted to ask you if there is anything new?'"

SOVIET: 'I'd like to ask you to call another phone number.'"

MO: 'Please.'"

SOVIET: 'Please write it down; 15-60-55 and ask for a Consul.'"

MO: 'Thank you.'"

SOVIET: 'Please.'"

      Page 44. October 1, 10:35 hours. To phone number 15-60-55. A man [MO] described by the translator as the same person who had called a day or so ago and spoken in broken Russian called the Soviet Embassy Consulate and spoke with the Soviet guard on duty:

MO: 'Hello, this LEE OSWALD speaking. I was at your place last Saturday and spoke to a Consul, and they say that they'd send a telegram to Washington, so I wanted to find out if you have anything new? But I don't remember the name of that Consul.'"


MO: 'Yes. My name is OSWALD.'"

SOVIET: 'Just a minute. I'll find out. They said that they haven't received anything yet.'"

MO: 'Have they done anything?'"

SOVIET: 'Yes, they say that a request has been sent out bur nothing has been received as yet.'"

MO: 'And what' (SOVIET hangs up)."

The CIA transcriber Boris Tarasoff remarked that "Lee Oswald" was the same person who had called before speaking "in broken Russian." Oswald was fluent in Russian, but Jane Davidson argues that, after returning to the U.S. in June 1962, "he was no longer forced to speak Russian almost exclusively [and] his Russian gradually got worse according to Marina. To a professional translator, maybe he sounded awful." Tarasoff noted: "hardly recognizable Russian." Is it plausible having reached that extreme in few more than a year?

Nonetheless, the October LIENVOY Report and the related CIA cable traffic bring more valuable observations that strongly favor the hypothesis of impersonation. The report mentions that "MEXI-6453 reported a contact by an English-speaking man with the Soviet Embassy in Mexico City. This was forwarded to Headquarters (HDQS) for further dissemination." Surprisingly, the unequivocal link between this contact and the "Duran-Oswald" call was omitted. The cable traffic between the Station (MEXI) and HDQS (DIR) is even more surprising:

        October 8. MEXI 6453 reported to HDQS that "an American male who spoke broken Russian" had said his name was "Lee Oswald." He was at the Soviet Embassy on September 28 and spoke with Consul Vareliy Kostikov. This cable also provided a description of a presumed American male who had entered the Soviet Embassy at 12:16 hours on October 1, but his photo was actually taken on October 2.

        October 10. DIR 74830 replied that Lee Oswald "probably" was "Lee Henry Oswald." The cable provided an inaccurate description [5 ft 10 in / 165 lb] and specified: "Latest HDQS info was ODACID [State Department] report dated May 1962" on Oswald as "still US citizen [returning] with his Soviet wife [and] their infant child to USA." Surprisingly, HDQS omitted two 1963 FBI reports from Dallas (September 24) and New Orleans (October 4) on Oswald's leftist activism, his militancy in the Fair Play for Cuba Committee (FPCC) and his scuffle with Cuban exiles. Instead, HDQS quoted from a 1962 report by the U.S. Embassy in Moscow: "Twenty months of realities of life in Soviet Union had clearly had maturing effect on Oswald."

        October 10. DIR 74673 disseminated to ODACID, ODENVY (FBI), and ODOATH (Navy) the description provided in MEXI 6453 for the presumed American male and omitted the hint that Oswald had spoken with Soviet Consul Valeriy Kostikov.

What's going on here? If the hypothesis of the lone gunman were true, it's not to be expected that the CIA concealed and even falsified Oswald's data before the JFK assassination. Thereafter, the CIA Inspector General blatantly lied: "It was not until 22 November 1963 [that the] Station learned (") Oswald had also visited the Cuban Embassy."

By dismissing the "tapes of not Oswald" story with the "no tapes of Oswald" story, Professor Mcadams has actually paved the way to the hypothesis of conspiracy with focus on the CIA, particularly since no "recording of Oswald's voice" adds up to no photo from his three visits to the Cubans and two visits to the Soviets.

Note that the Station in Mexico City and HDQS in Langley also hid from each other their respective knowledge of Oswald's contacts with Cuba. The best explanation can be inferred by connecting Philip H. Melanson's Spy Saga in New Orleans with John Newman's Oswald and the CIA in Mexico City.

Bill Simpich did it and his conclusion is that the tapes "were treated as a dark state secret." The exposure of Oswald impersonation would have led to the exposure of the Mexico City wiretap operations." Moreover, Simpich unveils two other circles of intrigue in Mexico City: the CIA-FBI joint operation against FPCC and the molehunt embedded within the CIA cables traffic in October 1963. For further reading go to Simpich's State Secret at Mary Ferrell Foundation's web page.




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March 9, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink