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Antonio Veciana: "Maurice Bishop, my CIA contact agent, was David Atlee Phillips"

In 2014, the Assassination Archives and Research Center held a conference on the occassion of the 50th Anniversary of the release of the Warren Commission Report. The highlight of the conference was a statement by Cuban exile leader Antonio Veciana.

"On November 22nd, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. In reality, what happened that day was a coup d’état. President Kennedy’s death was a result of a conspiracy planned by CIA operatives and supported by a handful of high-ranking military officers and members of the Mafia. The conspirators believed that the President was a traitor who had jeopardized national security by established a foreign policy of dialogue and conciliation with the traditional enemies of the United States. I want to unequivocally state that Maurice Bishop was David Atlee Phillips. Here are the factors that point to a conspiracy. I traveled to Dallas at the end of August or beginning of September of 1963 to meet with Maurice Bishop, my CIA handler. We had agreed to see each other in the lobby of a downtown Dallas bank. There, I observed Bishop with a young man I later identified without a doubt as Lee Harvey Oswald. This encounter was unplanned. It would not have happened had I not arrived to the interview 15 minutes before Bishop expected me."

Below is the full transcript of Veciana's statement.

Transcript: 'Antonio Veciana: Admissions and Revelations' from the Assassination Archives and Research Center Conference, 2014

Marie Fonzi:

First of all, I want to thank Jerry and Jim for inviting me and making me one of the boys. I just love being here. I'm going to have a very brief introduction and prove that contrary to popular belief, women do not talk as much as men, although I haven’t proven that for the last two days. I haven’t shut my mouth since I got here. Early on, even before meeting him, my husband thought of Antonio Veciana as one hell of an exile leader. Gaet first met and interviewed Mr. Veciana when he was working for Senator Schweiker. Mr. Veciana’s son Tony recently told me that he was their translator on those early interviews. He said at the early meetings, he witnessed his father’s response to my husband’s questions with yes or no. Then he said he witnessed how his father’s careful and hesitant responses grew to become more elaborate as his trust in my husband grew.

We've all read in the last investigation how my husband in his mind fell off his chair when Mr. Veciana mentioned that he happened to see Lee Harvey Oswald with Maurice Bishop in the Southland Center in Dallas in September of ’63. I had a similar reaction this November when I received a letter from Mr. Veciana identifying Maurice Bishop at David Atlee Phillips. Until then, every book on the assassination told how my husband absolutely believed that David Atlee Phillips, CIA Chief of the Western Hemisphere, was Maurice Bishop, but then they said, but Mr. Veciana has never definitively identified him, and that's the way it ended. Gaet understood all his reasons, which he gives in his book, The Last Investigation, and he always respected his reasons and pushed him just so far. I'm a lot pushier than gate was Gaet was.

I believe that Mr. Veciana consented to attend this conference for many reasons, foremost of which I think is a respect and a confidence that he has developed for you researchers who have given so much to prove that President Kennedy was assassinated as the result of a conspiracy. I believe that respect and confidence originated in the warm personal relationship that was so mutually trusting with my husband, Gaeton Fonzi. That final trip that Gaet wanted to make to Washington with Silvia Odio and Antonio Veciana was thwarted by the bureaucracy and Gaet was so frustrated over that. He felt that he had let his friend down after all his promises and assurances. So, I'm especially happy that Mr. Veciana is here today to speak the truth, and I am so proud that I'm allowed to introduce my husband’s hero, Antonio Veciana.

Fernand Amandi:

Good afternoon, everyone. My name is Fernand Amandi. I'm going to be translating for Mr. Veciana. I just want to set a couple of ground rules in a sense that he asked me to share with you all today. His son Carlos, who is here, is going to make a very brief statement that will quickly put to rest any lingering questions, because what he feels is the most important thing to accomplish in this session is to have your questions and have him answer them to the fullest discretion. He is prepared to answer every question on every subject that has to do with this case and is honored and proud to do so today. So, with that, I'm going to introduce his son Carlos, who is going to read this statement in English. Then, Mr. Veciana will of course entertain any and all questions that you may have for him directly.

Carlos Veciana:

I know you're all here to listen to my father, but I'm going to throw a little curve ball here. At the request of my sister, I want to make a quick family statement. I must admit that despite being Antonio Veciana’s son and teaching American History for a dozen years, I have not shared the passion which is evident in the people in this room about the Kennedy assassination. In part, this has been out of respect for my father. Respect because whenever I asked, he told me he did not want to speak about it because he again to protect me. Yet, it was a daily fact of my life, whether it was an encounter at a restaurant with an admirer, a student Googling my name and finding out who my father was, or my college roommate telling me that my father was on Inside Edition. My family had for a while encouraged my father because of his age to come forward. He has already written assorted memoirs which he hopes will be published by the end of the year.

Then, this summer, Marie Fonzi came to visit and asked my father to come to the conference. We spoke of Gaeton and my recollections as a young boy of his many phone calls and interviews with my father, who later I would begin to translate when my brother moved out, and sitting on the red couches with the plastic lining that my skin used to stick to and I hated. I also was a translator, and as I translated, I noticed and understood that each man had a certain respect for each other that even as a boy you could electronic. It became evident to my family and I that my father’s attendance was paramount at this conference. Despite some health issues, my father understanding the importance of his story has come here to speak. While I'm here to help him get around, he has given me the honor to read this statement, but before I do, I would like to thank Fernand Amandi, who was instrumental in convincing and planning my father’s trip here and will serve as his translator.

Now, what you guys all came here for. On November 22nd, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. In reality, what happened that day was a coup d’état. President Kennedy’s death was a result of a conspiracy planned by CIA operatives and supported by a handful of high-ranking military officers and members of the Mafia. The conspirators believed that the President was a traitor who had jeopardized national security by established a foreign policy of dialogue and conciliation with the traditional enemies of the United States. I want to unequivocally state that Maurice Bishop was David Atlee Phillips. Here are the factors that point to a conspiracy. I traveled to Dallas at the end of August or beginning of September of 1963 to meet with Maurice Bishop, my CIA handler. We had agreed to see each other in the lobby of a downtown Dallas bank. There, I observed Bishop with a young man I later identified without a doubt as Lee Harvey Oswald. This encounter was unplanned. It would not have happened had I not arrived to the interview 15 minutes before Bishop expected me.

Two. Bishop confirmed to me in a conversation that Oswald had traveled to Mexico on Bishop’s order. Bishop tricked Oswald into taking that trip to secure a visa from the Cuban consulate, though Bishop knew the authorities there would never grant Oswald such a visa. The reason for this trip was to create a trail that would link Oswald to Fidel Castro and help focus the blame of the planned assassination on Castro.

Three. two months after President Kennedy’s assassination, Bishop asked my opinion of Guillermo Ruiz, a member of the Cuban G2 assigned to the Cuban consulate in Mexico City. Guillermo, now deceased, was married to my cousin Nilda Veciana. I had always maintained a very cordial relationship with both. Bishop proposed I ask Guillermo to seek asylum in the United States, where he would receive a large sum of money to declare that Oswald had visited Mexico in September of 1963 to discuss assassinating Kennedy with Castro intelligence officials.

Later, Bishop asked me to forget the whole thing involving my cousin Guillermo Ruiz.

Four. before being murdered by Jack Ruby, Lee Harvey Oswald, declared that he was a scapegoat in the assassination. This statement suggests he was not working alone. Dr. Charles Crenshaw, surgeon at Parkland Hospital in Dallas attended to the President when he was brought in after being shot. Dr. Crenshaw observed that Kennedy had a small entry wound in his throat. He publicly said that based on his experience, this was the entry point of a bullet that exited through the back of Kennedy’s head. In 1992, Crenshaw wrote a book, Conspiracy of Silence, pointing out that the fatal shot came from the front, not the back, as the public was led to believe. He had kept silent all those years, he admitted, because he feared that those who were bold enough to assassinate a President would not hesitate to eliminate a simple doctor as well.

Five. several circumstantial witnesses who could provide disturbing testimony in the Kennedy assassination died mysteriously. One of the most puzzling cases was that of George Mohrenschildt, a Soviet exile who served as an informant for both the FBI and the CIA. Mohrenschildt was Oswald’s sponsor when he returned from the Soviet Union and moved to Dallas. Several years later, investigator Gaeton Fonzi found Mohrenschildt in a small Florida town, and with the help of his daughter, Alexandra, made an appointment to interview her father. The interview never happened. He committed suicide hours before the appointment. Authorities found Fonzi’s business card in shirt pocket. Lastly, Robert Kennedy Jr and his sister Rory attended a press conference at the Winspear Opera House in Dallas in November of 2013 to mark the 50th anniversary of their uncle’s assassination. During that event, Robert Kennedy Jr told the media that he and his father were convinced that a second gunman had shot the President. Thus, by stating that more than one person was involved in the shooting, he admitted to the belief of a conspiracy. This begs the question, why did Robert Kennedy Sr never publicly express his opinion of his brother’s assassination?

Fernand Amandi:

So, you've heard the key statements, ladies and gentleman. Mr. Veciana confirms that David Atlee Phillips was Maurice Bishop, confirms that Lee Harvey Oswald was sent to the Mexican consulate in September of 1963 under the direction of David Atlee Phillips or Maurice Bishop, in a planned staged event to get a visa from the Cuban consulate that he knew in advanced would be rejected. So, Mr. Veciana would like to take any questions that you may have. If there's any questions, please make your way to the microphone and he’ll spend the balance of his time answering any questions that you have.

Mr. DiEugenio:

I have two questions, if you can ask them. When did Phillips they'll him about him sending Oswald to Mexico? Number two is, did he get the impression that Oswald and Phillips were really friendly and they had met on several occasions?

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:12:50]

Fernand Amandi:

He says from here on out, he's going to call him Phillips just for clarity’s sake.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:13:03]

Fernand Amandi:

First and foremost, he wants you to understand the backstory of how all of this happened. He's going to reveal to you why he believes Oswald was tricked into going to the Cuban embassy in Mexico. First and foremost, one must understand that he was trained to act as a conspirator. That was one of the things that the CIA engaged with him to do, given the nature of his very sensitive work.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:14:02]

Fernand Amandi:

Over the years of his training and his experience in dealing with the CIA and Phillips and others, he learned how to become a professional conspirator, what it meant to conspire in a professional sense. Only those that have had that training and experience and background will understand the revelations he's going to make.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:14:37]

Fernand Amandi:

The CIA never had an official meeting where they said, hey, here's where we're going to plan on the murder of the President.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:14:54]

Fernand Amandi:

But he happens to know that a group of official working within the CIA got together with a clear plan to assassinate and murder he President because he thought he was a traitor to the national interest of the United States.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:15:25]

Fernand Amandi:

Once that decision was made and from that point forward, there were segments within the military leadership of this country that also accepted and understood the plot to kill the President.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:15:40]

Fernand Amandi:

And it was a conspiracy plot that also integrated the use of certain elements of the Mafia.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:15:52]

Fernand Amandi:

As a professional conspirator who both worked with Phillips and knew how Phillips operated, these little details over the years accumulated is what led him to believe that these assassination undertook in the way he just described.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:16:24]

Fernand Amandi:

In response to Mr. DiEugenio’s question about Phillips and Oswald, the encounter was so brief that it wasn’t a sufficient amount of time to determine the level and degree of familiarity that one had had with the other, although it was clear they were engaged, they were in conversation, and they obviously knew each other.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:17:01]

Fernand Amandi:

But given the plans of the perpetrators and conspirators, they were looking for the time and the place and discussing when the President would be assassinated.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:17:21]

Fernand Amandi:

Just as important and paramount was making sure that there was someone that would be blamed or have the responsibility, the public responsibility, for the assassination.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:17:39]

Fernand Amandi:

And now the explanation comes with these antecedents, which are very important for you to understand.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:17:50]

Fernand Amandi:

Fidel Castro was the ideal scapegoat for the murder of the President.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:18:00]

Fernand Amandi:

One of the key elements here was Fidel Castro’s statement in September of 1963 at the embassy in Brazil, where he said, if foreign leaders were trying to assassinate Fidel Castro, foreign leaders should be worried about a retaliation assassination on their end.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:18:41]

Fernand Amandi:

It's all of the small details and all of the small details at which David Atlee Phillips is at the center of, which convinces him of his participation in the assassination.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:19:09]

Fernand Amandi:

This is the key moment here. Prior to the assassination, Phillips asks Mr. Veciana directly, and this is post-Fidel Castro’s statement at the Brazilian embassy, if one were to go to the Cuban embassy in Mexico, would one be able to get a visa to travel to Mexico? To which the response was, absolutely not.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:19:50]

Fernand Amandi:

The reason he was able to answer Phillips within such authority is because he had a personal experience with needing a visa from the Cuban consulate. He was familiar with a woman who was not political and no way involved in the anti-Castro activities who because of her father’s illness, went to the Cuban consulate, was told directly and explicitly there, it would take a minimum of four to six weeks to process anything before a series of requests. Therefore, that's how he was able to answer in the affirmative to Phillips that it would not be an instantaneous visa.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:21:06]

Fernand Amandi:

So, Phillips knowing beforehand of the difficulties in getting a visa was able to use then that foreknowledge as a pretext, knowing that Oswald would not be able to get that visa, to use it as an activity through which he can stage a very public and clear event. You heard Mr. Hardaway and Mr. Lopez talk about this earlier. That resulted in the Mexico City incident where Oswald then is not allowed to travel to the island of Cuba because he's not issued a visa instantaneously.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:22:15]

Fernand Amandi:

The direct antecedent to the director of the Cuban consulate at the time was a gentleman named Mirabal. You all remember the consul there at the time was Azcue, but the one that preceded him was Mirabal. There was an overlap period which just happened to take place during September of 1963, when Mirabal and Azcue were both present at the consul.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:22:50]

Fernand Amandi:

Later, he asked Mirabal and his son, what happened that day? He says, it was a huge incident. When Oswald realized he was not going to get the visa to be able to travel to Cuba, he freaked out, created a huge show and kept insisting, I know I can get a visa. I know I can get a visa immediately. When the whole plan, according to Mr. Veciana beforehand was, that response because he was directed and told to go to the Cuban consulate, told where he was going to go and get a visa within 24 hours, didn't materialize, which provoked the response and the outburst of Oswald in the consulate.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:23:55]

Fernand Amandi:

Immediately after the assassination, Phillips engages Mr. Veciana and asks him about Guillermo Ruiz, who was a direct relation of Mr. Veciana’s, who at the time was working for the Cuban security forces, the G2, in the Cuban consul and who happened to be at the consul at the time of Oswald’s visit in September of 1963.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:24:39]

Fernand Amandi:

Phillips suggested to Mr. Veciana that he persuade his relative, Mr. Ruiz, to defect to the United States in exchange for a significant amount of funds on the condition that upon his defection, he publicly declare that Oswald came to the Cuban consulate to discuss with members of the Cuban security forces at the consulate plans to assassinate John F. Kennedy.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:25:21]

Fernand Amandi:

He attempted on Bishop’s orders to make contact with Mr. Ruiz to implement this plan that David Phillips had asked to be done, implicating Oswald, but by this point, Mr. Ruiz had been transferred back to Cuba.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:25:44]

Fernand Amandi:

Incidentally, Mr. Ruiz ended up serving in a similar capacity on behalf of the Cuban government and many other countries, including Spain, England, and other parts around the world.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:26:03]

Fernand Amandi:

When he got back in touch during his next meeting with Phillips and said how difficult it was to make contact again with Ruiz because he'd been shipped back to Cuba, Phillips looked at him and said, make sure you never discuss what I just told you, ever again.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:26:38]

Fernand Amandi:

Hopefully that answers your question, Mr. DiEugenio. Next question.

David Kaiser:

Yes. David Kaiser. I want to thank Senor Veciana, because when I heard about the statement he had made, I wrote him a letter explaining who I was and asking him for any information he had about a long list of names, 20 or 30 names, of people involved in the case who he might or might not have known. He replied very kindly and politely, and he discussed a number of the names. Everything he said about the names he discussed, the information checked out with what I already knew or elaborated on it. Some of the names, he said I did not know them, but there were two names that I was very interested in, which for whatever reason you did not make any reply about. Either that you knew them or you did not. I have no information that you did, but I want to ask you now to clear it up once and for all. Those two names were Loren Hall, who also used the name Lorenzo Pasillo. He was an American mercenary hanging around Miami. And a friend of his named Larry Howard. I'm curious as to whether you ever knew either of them.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:28:10]

Fernand Amandi:

He doesn't remember having met those individuals.

David Kaiser:

Thank you very much, and thank you for your reply earlier.

Jeff:

Mr. Veciana, maybe you could tell us, take us back to the beginning of the story. When did you first meet David Phillips? What were the circumstances? What was the relationship that developed between you at that time? In particular, two things. Did he support your activities financially? And in the spring of 1963, was he involved in attacks that you and your organization were making on ships in the Caribbean?

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:29:12]

Fernand Amandi:

It was at the end of 1959 that there were three very life-changing incidents that occurred in Mr. Veciana’s life to that point.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:29:33]

Fernand Amandi:

He was elected as the President of the Certified Public Accountants of all of Cuba.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:29:42]

Fernand Amandi:

In spite of the campaign against his candidacy of President of that position, the group that identified itself at the 26th of July movement, which was of course the Castro government.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:30:01]

Fernand Amandi:

He also had two major interviews and one-on-one meetings with Che Guevara.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:30:11]

Fernand Amandi:

Principally because Che Guevara believed he could be instrumental in helping the new government of Cuba develop relationships with a lot of the investors that had been working in the bank that Mr. Veciana was affiliated with. Mr. Veciana at the time worked for Julio Lobo, who was the richest man in Cuba, with an estimated net worth at the time of $200 million. The key investor corporate interest with the sugar industry of the island.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:30:51]

Fernand Amandi:

It was also striking that meeting with Che Guevara because he said to him, how could you, the son of a laborer and a worker, be working for a multimillionaire who’s exploiting you? So, he believed that Che Guevara was trying to recruit him to give intelligence on his own boss, the multimillionaire Mr. Lobo, back to Che and the government.

Antonio Veciana:

Yet, Che Guevara came to the conclusion that Mr. Veciana was actually a counterrevolutionary. Yet, in spite of that, didn't execute the normal protocols help would have been to round him up, put him in jail, or execute him, and he's always wondered why that happened that way as well.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:31:59]

Fernand Amandi:

And it's to Mr. Morley’s question. The third incident that happened almost immediately on the heels of that is, one day he is in his office at the bank and he was approached by a gentleman who presented himself as a businessman operating on behalf of the Belgian Company in Havana and who described himself, introduced himself, as Maurice Bishop and said that he had gotten some fame in Cuba as being a counterrevolutionary, known to the government.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:32:53]

Fernand Amandi:

The Cuban government had recently given a public active repudiation.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:33:04]

Fernand Amandi:

And he had to leave through the back door of the bank to remove himself from the somewhat humiliating situation that the government was trying to embark on him.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:33:19]

Fernand Amandi:

He believes the publication of that news by the government is what motivated Phillips to reach out to him as a potential asset who could work with him to conspire against the Castro regime.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:33:43]

Fernand Amandi:

Phillips said at the first meeting that he was prepared to help him in his fight against the Castro government.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:33:55]

Fernand Amandi:

And immediately invited him to lunch, to the famous restaurant in Cuba, El Floridita, which was known as a restaurant that was patronized by many Americans and obviously, Ernest Hemingway, as well.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:34:21]

Fernand Amandi:

Phillips at that lunch immediately said he was prepared to help him in his efforts against the Castro government, to which Mr. Veciana’s response was, are you a member of the CIA? David Phillips says, I am not going to answer that question, and said, however, if you are interested in fighting against the Castro government, I can help you do that.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:35:13]

Fernand Amandi:

He left that lunch with an agreement to help and thinking it was a very good, important thing that he had cooperation from the U.S. government now in his efforts to fight the Castro government.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:35:35]

Fernand Amandi:

It's very important for you to understand, culturally, in the Cuba of that era, the Cuban population and the Cuban community had a very high estimation of Americans. There was a great affinity, there was a great affection, a great respect, for all Americans.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:36:04]

Fernand Amandi:

The United States had a tremendous amount of investment and presence in Cuba at the time. Just to give you an example, at the time, the Central Bank was composed of five board of directors, two of which were Americans.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:36:31]

Fernand Amandi:

Just to give you another sense, the word gringo, which was very popular in all of Latin America as a disparaging term for American, was hardly ever, if ever at all, used in Cuba.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:36:52]

Fernand Amandi:

One has to remember, at the time for him, he was just a layman working in a bank, but the training that he underwent, the direction of Phillips, was very important because what it ended up doing was convert him and turn him into a professional conspirator, which is what he ended up doing. The objective, according to Mr. Veciana, of what Phillips asked him to do was engage in activities that would destabilize the Cuban government that would forthcoming at the direction of David Atlee Phillips.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:38:00]

Fernand Amandi:

And he was very successful in very much destabilizing with Mr. Phillips’s guidance the Cuban monetary and financial system, and even in the education sectors as well.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:38:25]

Fernand Amandi:

But because the Castro government had such significant popular support in spite of what successful destabilizing efforts, they weren’t sufficient to topple the government.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:38:54]

Fernand Amandi:

Phillips gave him all types of financial support for his efforts, but not some of the specific activities that you said. It was financial support for other means.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:39:13]

Fernand Amandi:

He was of the same generation of Fidel Castro. Phillips knew this. He was friends with a lot of folks that were mutual friends with Fidel Castro. Phillips knew this. So, Phillips’s next engagement of Veciana was to ask him if he would be interested in serving in the Cuban government as a double agent, not necessarily to report military secrets, but to be there so that Phillips would have a direct tie into intelligence within the Cuban government.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:40:36]

Fernand Amandi:

Initially, he told Phillips yes, that he would do that.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:40:43]

Fernand Amandi:

Upon thinking about what he initially told Phillips, that yes, he would infiltrate the Cuban government, he went back home and had kind of a long thought process and actually ended up rejecting the offer, because he didn't want to serve as a communist in disguise and have his children stay in Cuba, and his children think they were growing up with a communist father and having to live on the island. Now, that said, Mr. Veciana believes that Phillips was successful in getting other individuals to penetrate the Cuban government.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:41:47]

Fernand Amandi:

He is of the opinion that from the moment he took power, the CIA made a decision without the knowledge of the executive branch to assassinate Castro, that that was what was in the best interest of U.S. policy.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:42:24]

Fernand Amandi:

And he thinks that the CIA was correct in that judgement. Had Castro been killed, the revolution would have died with him.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:42:35]

Fernand Amandi:

He said, you may not be a professional assassin right now, but you are someone that gets things done. So, we can use you.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:42:49]

Fernand Amandi:

Let's prepare an assassination attempt to kill Castro here in Havana.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:42:57]

Fernand Amandi:

And that was planned for October of 1961.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:43:10]

Fernand Amandi:

The operation, in spite of being perfectly planned and conceived, failed in spite of having a bazooka at a privileged position about 80 meters from the Presidential palace where Castro and government officials were going to give a speech.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:43:47]

Fernand Amandi:

What he ended up discovering at the end of his life is that Cubans are courageous people sometimes. Other times, they forget to be courageous. Next question.

Audience Member:

On that bazooka attack, I wanted to ask if army intel worked with you and David Phillips. I also wanted to ask if Guillermo Ruiz phoned Silvia Durand, the same woman who handled Oswald. I understand Ruiz spoke to Durand the very day or so that Oswald was in Mexico City.

Fernand Amandi:

The answer is to the first question is no, not with him directly, and he was not aware of Ruiz speaking to Silvia Durand the day of the Oswald visit to the embassy.

Audience Member:

Thank you.

Fernand Amandi:

Thank you.

Malcolm Blunt:

Malcolm Blunt. Mr. Veciana, I've looked in a lot of files, and whenever I come across an FBI interview about you, the words straight, honest, and truthful always come up. If you could tell them.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:00:55]

Fernand Amandi:

Thank you.

Malcolm Blunt:

Bill almost asked the question, but when I think through army intelligence files, I find that there are many reports on Antonio Veciana that show that you were working for army intelligence.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:01:34]

Fernand Amandi:

As you know, there are many different intelligence agencies within the military. There's Naval intelligence, there's Army intelligence, and at one point, he had been approached by Army intelligence for some activities that he was involved in in the Keys, in the Caribbean. Twenty or so of them were involved in activities. They were anti-Castro activities.

Malcolm Blunt:

The interesting thing for me is, he has a working crypt, which is DUP748, which means he's actually working on behalf of U.S. Army intelligence, the 902nd military group exactly.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:02:38]

Fernand Amandi:

There was a gentleman by the name of Patrick Harris from Army intelligence that approached him in Puerto Rico.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:02:57]

Fernand Amandi:

He wanted him to direct them to their base in the Bahamas, and in exchange, he would give him some support or help.

Malcolm Blunt:

Yeah, that's the right name.

Fernand Amandi:

He's not a liar.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:03:19]

Fernand Amandi:

He says he ended up sending him to the base. He spent a couple days there, came back, never saw him again.

Malcolm Blunt:

Okay. So, was Mr. Veciana working for CIA and Army intelligence at the same time? Because under regulations, that's not allowed.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:03:50]

Fernand Amandi:

The only engagement with Army intelligence was the incident with Patrick Harris. And to the extent that yes, he was working for the CIA, it was as an asset of David Atlee Phillips.

Malcolm Blunt:

That's great. Thank you very much.

Fernand Amandi:

Thank you.

Anthony Summers:

Just like to interject a couple of questions that seem to me important from what Antonio said at the very beginning of what your son said. Your son, I believe it was, who said at the very beginning that you knew that there had been a group of people within senior areas of the CIA who were conspiring to kill President Kennedy, but how would you know that?

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:04:49]

Fernand Amandi:

He was specifically referring to Phillips whom he knew based on the exposure to the meeting with Oswald and others were involved in the plot to kill the President.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:05:01]

Fernand Amandi:

There were many conversations that when you accumulate the details of what was said and conveyed to him, speak to the involvement. In addition to that, Phillips always never missed an opportunity to talk about the problems with President Kennedy, his policies and his administration.

Anthony Summers:

But let's be quite clear. He never, ever said anything in clear that indicated that he and perhaps others wanted the President killed.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:05:50]

Fernand Amandi:

Phillips never directly told him directly that he was going to kill the President.

Anthony Summers:

No, but to be devil’s advocate. Again, could it be possible that Phillips indeed wanted to use Oswald in some way, but not necessarily as an assassin of the President? That the operation involving Oswald and the Cuban embassy in Mexico City was simply some, if you like, “innocent” deception operation?

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:06:34]

Fernand Amandi:

All of the conversations over the course of the dozens if not hundreds of encounters with Phillips formed little puzzle pieces, which to him, he puts together and leaves him with no doubt that Phillips was at the center of the assassination planning prior to the murder of the President.

Anthony Summers:

Okay. A very large point I want to make about this is, Phillips is the senior person. He's supposedly been an expert of some kind, as discussed by Tony for some time, within the CIA. Why in the world, if he wants to meet with Oswald as a possible scapegoat for the assassination of President Kennedy, would he risk meeting with Oswald when he's due to meet Antonio in 15 minutes’ time? One of the first things I think that was said that the only reason that he saw Phillips with Oswald was because he arrived 15 minutes early for a meeting. It sounds like appalling tradecraft.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:08:08]

Fernand Amandi:

To answer your question Mr. Summers, Mr. Veciana believes that at that moment, the end game with Oswald had not yet been decided, and it wasn’t until November when that happened. He was an asset. He was someone that had a relationship with Phillips, but Mr. Veciana doesn't believe at the time that Oswald had been designated and selected at the patsy, or else he might have—

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:08:39]

Fernand Amandi:

He says, and yes, while Phillips was a capable, serious, good at his job official, he made a lot of mistakes.

Male Speaker:

Ladies and gentlemen, with your indulgence and I'm hopeful with your understanding, you must accept that we're running quite late now. We have time for a single question, and then it will be time to thank Antonio Veciana and you for doing a superb job. Please continue and then we'll have to take a break.

Audience Member:

I was wondering, we've all seen countless photographs that are supposedly of Oswald, but obviously, they're not all of the same person. The one we know as Oswald was very scrawny. Some of the other guys have more hair and look huskier. Was it the Oswald that we know about, or one of the other photos of supposedly the same man that you saw?

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:09:39]

Fernand Amandi:

He has no doubt that the individual that was presented to the press of the world on the evening of November 22nd as the assassin of President Kennedy is the man he saw in Dallas in September 1963.

Audience Member:

And did you think that he was also trained to be an obedient conspirator, Oswald was?

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:10:08]

Fernand Amandi:

He says Oswald was a little bit of a nut. Carl, go ahead.

Carl:

FBI director J. Edgar Hoover documented that the day after the assassination, Mr. George Bush of the Central Intelligence Agency was briefed by the FBI on the reaction in the Cuban exile community in Miami, indicating some foreknowledge or association with that community. Based on your high level of activity and respect in that community, can you comment on George H.W. Bush’s activities as a CIA operative in the ‘50s and ‘60s, including Bay of Pigs association? And whether he was connected directly or indirectly with the activities in Dallas?

Fernand Amandi:

He personally never experienced that George H.W. Bush as a CIA operative in Miami, not to suggest he wasn’t. He just didn't experience it.

Audience Member:

Do you recall the circumstances under which you realized that the man you knew as Bishop was David Phillips, and did you ever have any doubt about that identification?

Fernand Amandi:

I'm sorry, the question is what?

Audience Member:

Do you recall the circumstances under which you made the linkage that Bishop was in fact Phillips? When that happened?

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:11:26]

Fernand Amandi:

If you read The Last Investigation, Gaeton Fonzi writes very eloquently about the time he talk Veciana to the public library because he knew that there was an issue of People Magazine that had David Atlee Phillips talking about the association of retired intelligence officers. Veciana knew the instant that he saw him that it was him, but obviously, chose not to confirm it to Mr. Fonzi. If you have some time later in the breaks, you should hear his stories about that famous lunch. And more importantly, on the night of the assassination, I don’t want to tease any of them, but he thought he was going to be arrested as a conspirator and a patsy in the case once he saw—

Male Speaker:

One last question, and then we'll move on. Go ahead.

Audience Member:

Yes, thank you. A name. Luis Posada Carriles. Does he know him? Did he know him? Was he involved, to his knowledge?

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:12:36]

Fernand Amandi:

He knew him perfectly well. He was the American’s guy in Venezuela.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:12:49]

Fernand Amandi:

He made a major tragic mistake that he doesn't want to reveal here today.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:12:54]

Fernand Amandi:

If you would indulge me, he would just like to say a couple more comments. Is that okay with the panel?

Male Speaker:

Sure, certainly.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:13:06]

Fernand Amandi:

He's not here to condemn or justify the actions of David Atlee Phillips or the Central Intelligence Agency or even for himself.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:13:29]

Fernand Amandi:

While you can't make 40-year and 20-year later judgements about a situation and expect to understand it, you have to take yourself back to the moment in time to put it in its proper context.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:13:59]

Fernand Amandi:

Phillips, you have to recall, before his affiliation in the CIA, was a nobody, and it was only when he entered the CIA and was recruited to join the CIA, reached the highest levels of influence. He believes influence that extended to—

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:14:34]

Fernand Amandi:

He had many relationships with military defense contractors as a result of his participation in the CIA.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:14:48]

Fernand Amandi:

With that in mind, it would make total sense that he would be totally loyal to the CIA from the first day of his employment until his very last day on Earth.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:15:07]

Fernand Amandi:

The CIA is what made David Atlee Phillips a man of influence and importance.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:15:16]

Fernand Amandi:

Second, now he wants to talk about the CIA.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:15:23]

Fernand Amandi:

Which he is neither here to justify or defend.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:15:30]

Fernand Amandi:

But it's quite possible that many of you will not understand what he's about to say.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:15:42]

Fernand Amandi:

The United States of America is an empire and a leader throughout the world.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:15:51]

Fernand Amandi:

That has attracted, over the years, many enemies, possibly enemies jealous of the position that we occupy in the world.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:16:03]

Fernand Amandi:

The CIA has to defend this nation.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:16:11]

Fernand Amandi:

Forget about ethics.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:16:15]

Fernand Amandi:

No intelligence agency in the world has any ethics or etiquette.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:16:24]

Fernand Amandi:

You can't accuse the CIA, or you can't ask the CIA not to lie and not to kill. The CIA lies and the CIA kills, and they do so because they need to protect the United States.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:16:51]

Fernand Amandi:

You have to understand that there are some things that you have to forget ethics and forget all moral structure. In this case, the CIA has conducted things under the creation of presidents.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:17:26]

Fernand Amandi:

The allies during the Second World War engaged in many air strikes that killed many innocent civilians.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:17:38]

Fernand Amandi:

Which is why that the logic is for the dropping of the bombs in Nagasaki and Hiroshima that perhaps it saved hundreds of thousands of American lives in an invasion and potentially hundreds of thousands of Japanese lives in a future conquest, you begin to understand the tricky morality and ethics that sometimes exist in defense of a nation.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:18:17]

Fernand Amandi:

He understands that many of you might not accept that premise.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:18:21]

Fernand Amandi:

But one must understand that if a member of an intelligence agency is willing to commit torture in the name of saving the lives of many of his own countrymen, he has done it in the past, he has done it in the present, and he perhaps he will do it in future if that is what is necessary to save lives, whether we want to accept that or not.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:18:54]

Fernand Amandi:

Unfortunately, life we have seen is, in many cases, a stream of tears where humans engage in activities like war and violence and death and destruction. It's been the story of human history.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:19:21]

Fernand Amandi:

Which is why in other cases, one must judge within a context and understand how activities as reprehensible as they are, and they are, the CIA must be judged sometimes with that context in mind.

Audience Member:

In light of the last statement, which I greatly appreciate, I have to ask, based on previous conversations I had with Mr. Veciana, would there have been an anti-Castro movement without the CIA? You've been involved in it from the beginning and please explain your answer as to whether or not there would have been such a movement without the CIA.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:20:25]

Fernand Amandi:

The CIA was solely responsible for the anti-Castro movements that led to the organized activities with resources and funding.

Audience Member:

Can I ask a point of clarification on what was said earlier? I don't know if I understood this correctly. Did Mr. Veciana say that David Atlee Phillips imagined and organized the entire Mexico City scenario?

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:21:06]

Fernand Amandi:

One thing he wants just to make crystal clear before he answers your question. He will never, ever condone decisions by individuals affiliated with the CIA to murder the President of the United States. He thinks that is a reprehensible and unacceptable and unjustifiable act.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:21:42]

Fernand Amandi:

And he's not going to justify himself, but he does want to defend himself on one point.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:21:49]

Fernand Amandi:

Why is it that it took until today for him to reveal the identity of David Atlee Phillips as Maurice Bishop, an identity that he had been protecting, certainly up until 1976, and without the final confirmation until this day?

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:22:13]

Fernand Amandi:

Amongst his few virtues and a code that he lives by are two, loyalty and appreciation.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:22:25]

Fernand Amandi:

He has asked that of his subordinates and people that have worked for him, but he has always lived himself by that code of loyalty and appreciation.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:22:40]

Fernand Amandi:

He always struggled with the idea that by giving Gaeton that final confirmation that Phillips was Bishop, he would be betraying his own code, a code that he always lived by, which was loyalty and appreciation. He felt the sense of loyalty and appreciation for Phillips for giving him an opportunity to serve in the role that he never would have done had Phillips not recruited him into the CIA.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:23:34]

Fernand Amandi:

You have to understand that Phillips allowed this simple working man in Cuba the opportunity to become an important person who was playing an important role in the future of Cuba.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:24:06]

Fernand Amandi:

And with this faith and belief that Phillips conveyed in him, he even allowed him to go to Bolivia under the auspices of the USAID to be a consultant to the Central Bank of Bank of Bolivia.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:24:40]

Fernand Amandi:

Something incomprehensible and unbelievable.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:24:44]

Fernand Amandi:

It had been 15 years since he had worked in banks, yet Phillips was able to make it happen.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:24:53]

Fernand Amandi:

In spite of the fact that in the national press, he had been regarded as a terrorist and had been confined to Dade County, which is where Miami is, Phillips was able to facilitate all of these things and make these things happen.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:25:09]

Fernand Amandi:

And then he was able to become a consultant to the Central Bank of a country like Bolivia.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:25:20]

Fernand Amandi:

He felt admiration for Phillips.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:25:24]

Fernand Amandi:

And just like he recognized Phillips owed a lot to the CIA, he felt like he owed a lot to Phillips.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:25:37]

Fernand Amandi:

And he wanted to try and maintain that loyalty for him with his code of loyalty and appreciation until many years passed and circumstances began to change, many of which were because of mistakes that Phillips made.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:26:02]

Fernand Amandi:

It wasn’t until he sat face to face in front of him at a luncheon that Mr. Fonzi arranged—many of you may have read about it in The Last Investigation, that this person that he had so respected and so admired, who he had literally considered a hero, collapsed as an icon before his very eyes because of how he conducted himself at that luncheon.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:26:47]

Fernand Amandi:

All of the sudden, he saw his idol as just a human being.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:26:55]

Fernand Amandi:

He wasn’t the idol he thought he was.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:26:59]

Fernand Amandi:

He was a human being who made many, many mistakes.

Audience Member:

I have one more, if I may.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:27:27]

Fernand Amandi:

He thinks Phillips was very much aware, and that was part of the plan to send Oswald to the embassy in Mexico. Yes?

Audience Member:

It was Phillips’s idea?

Fernand Amandi:

No, he says it was Phillips’s idea.

Audience Member:

Mr. Veciana—

Fernand Amandi:

Hold on one second. Are we okay on time? Do we need to stop?

Male Speaker:

We haven’t been okay for a while, but that's all right. It's appropriate. It's okay.

Audience Member:

I think the questions and the answers, most of them have been extremely important, and this an unrepeatable event, probably. I have one last question in a moment, but please go ahead and ask your first.

Audience Member:

Thank you. Many people in this room have spent many, many years trying to get to the bottom of this. They spent their life’s work trying to get to the bottom of what happened to our President. We all remember where we were when President Kennedy was killed. I'm asking you, why are you coming forward today, now, at this meeting?

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:29:07]

Fernand Amandi:

He's about to turn 86 years old in a few days.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:29:18]

Fernand Amandi:

Like many of his exiled contemporaries, at the time, in the early 1960s, he believed John F. Kennedy was a traitor to the Cuban exiles and to this country. Yet, over time, he came to recognize that President Kennedy was not a traitor, but someone who acted in the interests, always, of the United States of America.

Antonio Veciana:

[Spanish 00:30:02]

Fernand Amandi:

And in his research of President Kennedy’s life, he came across the American University speech, which to him was one of the greatest speeches ever given by an American President, and after studying that speech, he decided he couldn't go from this world without saying that John F. Kennedy was a great man and a great president who had great vision for this country and the world.

Audience Member:

I have another question for Tony, but I think that was such a fine conclusion to this session that I should not ask it. I will ask it after this session.

Fernand Amandi:

Thank you all very much.

Male Speaker:

Let's thank Fernand Amandi for doing a superb job, members of Marie Fonzi’s family, Antonio Veciana and his son, and of course Anthony Summers. Thank you so much.

Image: 2017-01/bishop.jpg

Written by OurHiddenHistory on Thursday February 23, 2017

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