Why was his family receiving death threats over the telephone and "poisoned" candy in the mail? Why were Cubans supposedly planning to bomb him? Why were the newspapers trying to ruin his campaign by running phony pictures with him alongside a Soviet general?
David Phillips, the CIA's chief of covert actions during this era, had won a Distinguished Service Medal, one of his agency's highest awards, for his work in overthrowing the Guatemala government. Throughout the early sixties, he was active in operations designed to undermine the FPCC. In early October, 1963, Phillips was transferred to become chief of Cuban operations and doubtlessly played a role in the decision to engage in mass polygraphs.
The montage photo is eerily reminiscent of a famous March 1963 photo of an armed Lee Harvey Oswald holding together in his fist the newspapers of the Socialist Workers Party and the Communist Party. One of the only projects that those two parties were ever able to work together was in the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, which Oswald joined the next month. In one way, whether this photo is real or faked is immaterial. The photo was created to ensure that Oswald was seen as a person who could bring Communist forces together around Cuba with the power of the gun. That remains Oswald's image to this very day.
If those of us in the United States are serious about understanding our history in places like Guatemala and in Cuba, we will take action in the next few years to ensure that all of the documents about this era are fully released, including the names of the sources and informants. If that happens, we will learn a lot more about how "dirty tricks" affected US history as well as those in other lands. Write Congress and call on them to enforce the JFK Act by releasing all the documents and all the government's sources of information. When the American people are willing to take an unblinking look at ourselves and our institutions, the Kennedy assassination will no longer be a mystery.
- Bill Simpich is a civil rights attorney and an antiwar activist in the San Francisco Bay Area. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org