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The JFK Case; the Office that Spied on its Own Spies

By       Message Bill Simpich     Permalink
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The story is that Oswald came to the Soviet Embassy in late September, buttonholed Kostikov, threw a loaded revolver down on the table, and burst into tears. The purpose of this drama may have simply been to get Kostikov and the other consuls to let down their guard and talk.

My colleagues and I intend to bring this evidence to the House Oversight Committee between March 14-20, as part of the nationwide "Sunshine Week" to build dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information. Congressman Ed Towns of Brooklyn is the chair of this committee. On Tuesday, March 16, we will take it to the halls of Congress to release the many documents still in the vaults and for other documents to be released in full. Aging witnesses and informants can be interviewed while it's still possible to get their statements.

We also have strong evidence of twelve different "handlers" directing Oswald for the four years prior to the assassination that will be provided in a series of forthcoming articles. We ask you to sign our petition and take action to call on Cong. Ed Towns and the House Oversight Committee during Sunshine Week to get them to do the right thing. Critical documents about American history and contemporary issues should be declassified and released to the American people. Here's our petition.

Just about all the sources can be viewed in the endnotes, below.

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Paper trails were created in Mexico City to discredit Oswald by linking him with the Fair Play for Cuba Committee and the KGB

Oswald had already obtained a new passport back in June of 1963, stating in his application that he planned to go to the Soviet Union and elsewhere by December. Oswald had one child and his wife Marina was due to have another in October. There were marital difficulties, but Oswald was devoted to his young child and looking forward to the next one. The family depended on his income for their day-to-day needs. All indications indicate that he was not truly serious in his attempt to return to the Soviet Union.

Two goals were set for Oswald to meet and a third goal for his handlers. There is much evidence that Oswald was impersonated some or all of the time in Mexico City, and I'm not going to try to resolve that discussion here. When I discuss Oswald here, I'm talking about Oswald and anyone else who may have impersonated him.

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The first goal was for Oswald to leave a paper trail expanding his legend as a pro-Castro activist with the Fair Play for Cuba Committee (FPCC). There was a CIA-FBI plan to use deception to discredit the FPCC, and the odds were good that Oswald would be used in some way. Oswald knew how to empty a room, and he did that to good effect at the Cuban embassy when he didn't get his instant visa. The reactions of the annoyed employees was just what the wiretappers wanted.

Oswald had posed as an FPCC organizer in New Orleans that summer, although he never recruited any followers or did anything effective other than reveal himself over public airwaves as a defector returned from the Soviet Union. Direct travel from the United States to Cuba had been banned since 1961. He had to enter Cuba through a third country. The only place that could be done in 1963 was through Mexico City.

The second goal was to put Oswald and Soviet vice consul Valeriy Kostikov in the same room in Mexico City and test Kostikov in some way, or at least to make a paper trail showing that the two men had spent as much time together as possible. The FBI had floated a rumor to CIA counterintelligence chief James Angleton that the consular officer was not only KGB, but also a member of Department 13 (the bureau of assassination and sabotage), which Angleton had determined in June 1963 to be still unproven.

Although the REDCAP program was most successful among Eastern Europeans, REDCAP was a worldwide program designed to induce Soviet defections. There were a number of REDCAP memos discussing the Mexico City Soviet station during this era. It's clear that there was a plan to see if any Soviet consuls were vulnerable to recruitment for defection, or to at least divide and conquer within their ranks by making it look like someone was toying with the idea. These REDCAP memos continued to float around well after the JFK assassination.

The handlers Ann Egerter and David Phillips had the responsibility to meet the third goal, which was the other side of the REDCAP equation. Was everyone reliable inside the CIA itself? Get different items of information about Oswald spread out between four different intelligence agencies. Give the better dope to the locals so they'll work with you again. Give the bad dope to the drones at headquarters, which is where the mole might be lurking. Then sit back and see if anything leaks. This was all part of the eternal search for possible enemy penetrators of the CIA.

During the autumn of 1963, the CIA and FBI were working on psychological operations against the Fair Play for Cuba Committee that would plant "deceptive information" to "embarrass" the FPCC

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The FBI's liaison to the CIA, Sam Papich, contacted FBI HQ on September 18, 1963, a week before Oswald's arrival in Mexico City. Papich let FBI headquarters know that John Tilton, a mid-level CIA officer with a background in psychological operations, was considering planting "deceptive information" which might "embarrass" the FPCC in areas where it has some support. A perceived relationship between Oswald and Kostikov could be used to discredit the FPCC, or any other activities that could be plausibly linked with Oswald.

Another suggestion of Tilton's was for the FBI and CIA to work together to obtain the FPCC foreign mailing list and FPCC stationery "to produce large quantities of propaganda in the name of the (FPCC)". Tilton specifically says this is designed "to counter their activities in foreign countries". In other words, fake or misleading FPCC literature would be created that would make the FPCC look bad.

How would this faux FPCC literature be circulated? "This would be done by distributing propaganda through appropriate cut-outs." A cut-out is an intermediary in a clandestine operation. A "cut-out" does not know the source or destination, the information being transmitted, or the identities of any persons involved in the espionage process. Was Oswald an appropriate example of such a cut-out?

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Bill Simpich is a civil rights attorney and an antiwar activist in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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