In 1977 to 1978, Dan Hardway was a researcher for the US House of Representatives. He worked on a committee that sought to determine the facts of the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Along with his fellow researcher, Ed Lopez, Dan produced a 500-plus page report looking into the CIA's story surrounding Oswald's trip to Mexico City. The report was so revealing that the CIA fought to keep it hidden and were successful in that effort for almost two decades. The report, 'Oswald, The CIA and Mexico City', is widely regarded as one of the most important documents to be released through the work of the JFK Act.
Worse than this suppression of the report is the fact that Dan and Eddie and the Committee were the target of a CIA covert operation. We know today that this operation successfully prevented the Committee from looking into the CIA's relationship with the Cuban exile group known as the DRE.
The DRE is the group that Oswald had his famous scuffle with in New Orleans. More importantly, it was the group which, immediately after the assassination, launched a campaign trying to blame the assassination on Castro and Cuba. The same CIA officer who, in 1963, was running the operations of the DRE - Mr. George Joannides - was the officer sent in to halt the HSA investigation. This is a topic that journalist and author Jefferson Morley has made the focus of his work and his lawsuit against the CIA.
Our Hidden History spoke with Mr. Hardway about all of this and more.
OHH: For more than three decades, Dan Hardway has been in the active practice of law. He now lives on his grandfather's farm in Cowen, West Virginia, with his wife Lisa and their dog Clover and two cats. He's a graduate of Cornell Law School and a member in good standing of the bars of several states, but he's winding down his law practice taking only Freedom of Information Act cases and representing churches.
What we're going to talk about today was the fact that in 1977 to 1978, Dan was a researcher for the US House of Representatives working on a committee [the House Select Committee on Assassinations] that sought to determine the facts of the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King. Along with his fellow researcher, Ed Lopez, they produced a 500 plus page report called Oswald, the CIA and Mexico City. The report revealed so much that the CIA did not want revealed that the CIA fought to keep it hidden. They were successful in that effort for ... Was it more than two decades? Do you know when the first release finally came out?
D. Hardway: The first release was in '95. It ran about 17 years before it saw any light. That was highly redacted. I think it was in the early 2000s that the most part of it was released. Some of it is still classified.
OHH: There's still some names taken out of there. Maybe will see those here at the end of the year. We're not sure.
This report is wildly regarded by even the judge who was on the board, or who was helping to run the Assassinations Records Review Board, was saying that this report, Oswald, The CIA and Mexico City [also in audiobook format], was one of the most important things to be released through the work of the JFK Act. There's something even worse than just this simple suppression of the report. That's the fact that you and Eddie were the target of a CIA covert operation. We know today and now that this successfully prevent the HSCA, the House Select Committee that we're talking about, from looking into the CIA's relationship with the Cuban exile group known as the DRE [Directorio Revolucionario Estudiantil].
This is the group that Oswald had his famous scuffle with in New Orleans, but more importantly, it was the group immediately after the assassination ... Within minutes to hours, they were starting to spread stories trying to blame the assassination on Castro and Cuba. This is something that Jefferson Morley, a journalist has ... It's the focus of his CIA lawsuit, which you have produced a declaration for explaining your experience in this. There's a lot of work there if people are interested in that. That's plenty from me. Thank you, Dan, for agreeing to speak on this.
D. Hardway: Certainly. My pleasure.
OHH: I was thinking if we can start for a little bit from the beginning. You're hired to work on the HSCA, you get there. Can you tell us what the set up was there, what the structure was? You were on a team with Ed Lopez. Who were some of the other people you were working with?
D. Hardway: Ed and I actually were not on the same team. Ed was on the team that was investigating the anti-Castro Cubans. I was on the team that was tasked into looking into some of the CIA's activities in the intelligence community. Ed got involved in working on Mexico City with me because I didn't speak Spanish. A lot of materials we were dealing with were in Spanish. Originally, Ed came on board with me to work on that aspect of it. Ended up working fairly extensively in that area as well as the anti-Castro Cuban area, which he continued to be involved in.
I was on what was called Team 5, which was tasked, as I said, with investigating various aspects of the intelligence community. We were not on teams initially when we got there. Everything was pretty much in disarray when we arrived. Everything was in a holding pattern because the turmoil that the committee had been going through. I can't really say when it was that thing got a little better organized, but it didn't take a whole long time.
My team, Team 5, was headed up by Mickey Goldsmith. He would have been the senior attorney. Bob [Ginsman 00:05:21] was also an attorney that worked on that. Betsy Wolf was a researcher on the team. Names are slipping me. Surell Brady did some work with us. Charles [Dorth Checkburg 00:05:43] especially towards the end was doing some work both on Cubans and the intelligence agencies. That was pretty much who was on Team 5 as far as I remember. Good people. I can't tell you what some of the other ones did. Bob Ginsman was real quiet.
The first task that we had was basically to come up with our own investigative plans, how to proceed, what we were going to be focusing on, what we were going to be looking into. Those had to go up the channels for approval. I understand from what I've heard from other people that a lot of people had a whole lot of problems getting things approved, largely because of time and financial considerations I think. I was specifically tasked by Bob Blakey to work on the Mexico City area very early on after being signed to the Team 5, which was not what I wanted to work on. I wanted to work on direct investigation of possible CIA officers involved in potential assassination operations and how that might work towards exposing some potential involvement in the Kennedy assassination.
The refrain, I guess you would say, was that we couldn't invest all of our ... We had a report to write. That was our primary responsibility. Bob didn't want to put all of our eggs in one basket investigating a potential conspiracy ... Or potential conspirators when we couldn't even prove there had been a conspiracy. That's pretty much the direction that we went in. Consequently, I didn't go through the channels that a lot of people had to go through that they found so frustrating about trying to get approval of their investigative plans.
I did make a deal with Bob right from the start that as long as I was getting my work done in a reasonable and adequate manner regarding to Mexico City, then I was free to inquire on my own into the other areas which I was interested in and my document requests and those types of things with CIA. I took full advantage of that leeway that he gave me to do as much of that as I could while, at the same time, trying to get the work done on the Mexico City stuff. That's a thumbnail of how that all got started.
OHH: You've got this massive task ahead of you. You're a young man. You're brought to this committee. You've got some people there who have some experience, but you're basically told ... As far as I understand, you have access to the CIA's files, so have at it. I'm really curious in how ... I think it would be interesting for other researchers and things like that just to know how you started making your way through this maze. What are some of the tools you used whether it's keeping chronologies or things like that. How did you start to tackle this humongous task?
D. Hardway: It was a while before we were able to get into the CIA's documents because, first off, Bob had to negotiate an access agreement that would get us into the CIA's files. I've heard a lot of people talk about the, "We should have just subpoenaed the files that we wanted and made them give them to us." The problem that's just a little thing in the Constitution called a Separation of Powers provision. The CIA is an executive branch agency and doesn't necessarily have to give everything that they've got to Congress just because Congress asked them. Congress itself passed the law that charged the CIA with protecting sources and methods and keeping them secret. We were on a limited timeframe. Without that agreement, we might not have ever gotten anything. We might have ended up like the first half of the committee with nothing to show except speculation and dust.
We spent the time while we waited for our security clearances, while we waited for negotiation and the agreement that was going to get us into documents that we could begin to actually make some progress with. We spent our time reading all the critical literature that we could find, reviewing all the FOIA documents that had been revealed and talking to everyone that would talk to us that didn't invoke their secrecy agreement to refuse to talk to us. That's how we prepared.
Once we got access, the very first thing I did ... The very first request for documents that I asked to see was for basically everything that had come out of Mexico City and FOIA that had been released in expurgated fashion. I asked to see all of those documents in their unexpurgated forms. That was really enlightening to me because by that point, I'd read most of the critical literature and seen all kinds of speculation about what was excluded there, what had been cut out of the document here, what might be ... It could be this. It could be that. If it was this, then we had this conspiracy theory and all this stuff.
Seeing the actual documents pretty much ruled most of those out. Most everyone missed their guesses. It answered a lot of questions, but the documents raised a whole lot more questions than they answered. I was a fairly bright person I guess. I'm told I was, but we basically had no intelligence background whatsoever, no real understanding of how the agency was structured or how they operated other than what we could read and books that were available at the time, [Philip] Agee [Inside the Company] and [Victor] Marchetti's books [The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence] and those guys were out. We'd have of course read those. We had some training in prosecution and investigation under Bob Blakey at Cornell before we got there.
I immediately realized, as I began to work and get access to unexpurgated files, but I needed to understand the structure that I was dealing with both at headquarters and in Mexico that I needed to understand basically a vernacular that was used for communication in the CIA of crypts and abbreviations and alphabet soup. I needed to be able to understand their filing system as best I could. I needed to get hold of these things very quickly so I really concentrated on that.
The CIA people initially had been instructed to fully cooperate with us. We had two people at agency headquarters who were assigned to get files for us. We talked to them. They could often answer a question for me, and I very quickly learned, "This is a reference in this document to another file. I want that file too."
Initially, all I had to do was ask them, so I started working along those lines. I took extensive notes. I took notes on everything because you didn't know whether it would be useful later on. You don't want to put yourself in a position of where you get two, three, four weeks down the road and say, "I read something about that. Where did I read it?", and you can't find it. You can't remember. I took extensive notes. I also started working on chronologies. Chronologies in cases like this are extremely important. Things that don't make sense when you look at them separately, you put them in a chronology and they start to make sense. I worked on chronologies.
OHH: That's very interesting. Just how to keep sense of all this stuff in your mind when you're got such a task like that is very interesting.
D. Hardway: Yeah, and the routing slips. Who was interested in this and why?
OHH: The routing slips would have ... ? That's the who did the memo go to, who saw the memo, that kind of thing?
D. Hardway: Yeah.
OHH: Is that basically-
D. Hardway: After Joannides got involved, we quit getting Headquarter's routing slips.
OHH: That was one of the things that ... I want to get into that in a little bit. I'm definitely interested in - because it was hidden from you guys - what was happening, how he operated. Let's talk a little bit first just about what was happening at the time you were ... You're starting to write the report. The report is available for people to read. There's really a lot of interesting stuff in it. If we can describe the world you're dealing with, Mexico City, Miami, some of the principles involved that you thought then were important and think now are important.
D. Hardway: We were looking at CIA operations in Mexico City. Mexico City at this time was one of the largest CIA stations in the world. According to Jack Whitten, Head of the Western Hemisphere Division of the Director of Operations at the time, it was probably the most efficiently run station in the world. It had very large anti-Castro operations running out of there. A guy named David Phillips headed those up. It had the largest telephone intercept operation of any CIA station in the world. They had 30 telephone lines tapped themselves as well as working with the Mexicans and the FBI evidently, which had additional telephone lines tapped there. They had large surveillance operations. They ran more operations. They were the most efficient and effective counterespionage station in the world at the time. again, according to Jack Whitten, but you've also got to take in divisional pride there. Berlin and Vienna might argue with him about that.
It had an excellent reputation and it had very large operations. It was very closely ... When it came to the Cuban side of things, it was very closely associated with the operations that were being carried out through headquarters and in Miami through the JM/WAVE station. It was central to what was going on in the early '60s after the failure of the Bay of Pigs and after they shut down Mongoose. That was the milleu that we were looking at and into.
OHH: This is one of the most important CIA stations, which was run by Win Scott, who was known ... In your report, you write that he was known as a real taskmaster, which brings up all the things you found in your report, where there was the "mystery man" photo. There were so many we're told "mistakes" are being produced by this front-line station that is a very tight ship getting enormous amounts of money. Someone who figures in there is Anne Goodpasture. She is the source of that Mystery Man photo. She's deeply involved in the phone tapping. She's someone that you said along with David Phillips ... You kind of felt that she was lying to you. Can you talk about her? Talk about a bit of your investigation with her and then finally what it was that made you think that she was not telling the truth?
D. Hardway: I couldn't go back right now and tell you exactly what it was that I thought we could refer her for perjury on. It had to do with the tapes and with the photographs and what she told us. She was not a cooperative witness either in her deposition or in her testimony before the committee. I didn't feel that we had as strong a case against her as we did against David Phillips. I think it was clear that Phillips knowingly lied. Goodpasture was a little slicker, a little harder to tie down. She still was when she testified in front of the AARB if you ever read her testimony there.
She was the person who she denigrates her role. She says all she did was basically she would go out and get the tapes and bring them in and that she was just fine with doing the jobs in the station that no one else wanted to do. Everyone else basically says that she was pretty much Win Scott's majordomo, the person that he relied on and was very involved in almost everything. Even by the time she gets to the AARB testimony, she still distimulates about her counter-espionage, counter-intelligence roles.
Unfortunately, when Doug Horne had her in front of the committee under oath, he finally gets her tied down using her evaluation from January 1964, her performance evaluation. He finally gets her tied down to where she admits that her fifth duty at the station was counter-espionage and counter-intelligence. David Phillips in his evaluation of her says that she was one of the finest CIA officers he had ever worked with, one of the best. I don't think she ever, as far as I know, came fourth or forward in an honest fashion with what her role was in that regard ... In general, we're in Mexico City in 1963 ... Or her relationship with the CIA staff, which she pretty much denied any relationship with Angleton or Rocco or Birch O'Neill or any of those guys.
I still have trouble buying that. She was primarily of interest to us because she handled the tapes production from the listening posts and the production from the photos surveillance. At least the photo surveillance from the Russians and if not also the Cubans, although the Cuban photo surveillance may have went straight to Dave Phillips. I don't think we ever tied that down absolutely. She acknowledges that the Oswald, the October 1st call, where Oswald's name is used ... I'm careful not to say where Oswald used his name because it's horrible, terrible, broken Russian, according to Boris Tarasoff. Everything that I've been able to find says that Oswald spoke pretty good Russian by that point.
That came in on special tape and if you look at her testimony in front of the House Select Committee on Assassinations, it's very difficult to get her to tell us a whole lot about that. She was a little more forthcoming in that regard with the AARB and she acknowledged that she got a call. She went out and got the tape, brought it back. It was a duplicate of the actual call. Where the call was originally taped on the machine, they taped a duplicate off of it, sent it to Anne Goodpasture. She took it, had it transcribed. Brought the transcript and the tape that had only the call from Oswald back to the station. That one of course is the same conversation where he says, "I was there on Saturday." You would think that they would go back and look at that.
A whole lot then goes on which she is central to as to processing that, correlating, when was it correlated with the other intercept transcripts, intercept conversations, the photo production from the four ... If you count the one in the backyard, the five camera stations that were covering the two diplomatic facilities, when was what found, how were they notified, how was it that Birch O'Neill and the CIA staff, the head of the Spacial Investigations Group or the Spacial Intelligence Group depending on who you believe as to their name. How did he find out before anyone else did that there had also been a tap, a conversation that was recorded on the 27th? How is it that he sends a cable to the Mexico City station asking for a copy of the 27th transcript before the Mexico City stations reported it to headquarters that there was a conversation intercepted on the 27th?
That's a whole 'nother story, but she's central on all of those things. Then the whole mysterious thing that happens with the description and the photograph, the man in the photograph, on October 8th when the station finally gets around to reporting the Oswald contact to headquarters, they include the description of a man in a photograph that was taken, which they said could possibly be Oswald or the person in the phone call. That's of course the famous "Mexico City Mystery Man" photograph that doesn't look anything like Oswald. The response on the 10th from CIA headquarters comes back that with a true ... Not a true description, but a more accurate description, let's put it that way, of Oswald.
Then at the same time, the people at headquarters who draft that cable back to Mexico City at the same time drafted dissemination cable. The cable back from the CIA has both descriptions in it. The cable for dissemination only has the inaccurate description in it. It has the wrong middle name in it, Henry. The cable back to Mexico City specifically asks for additional information and basically before the assassination, there is no record ... Again, I say there's no record of this Mexico City station supplying any additional information to headquarters although there is a memorandum that Win Scott wrote the ambassador on October 16th, which definitely ties into the October 28th telephone intercept to Oswald.
We know that they had made that connection by the 28th, but again, that connection, which pulled in the Cuban diplomatic compound - the first report to the CIA headquarters on October 8th was only this contact with the Russians - hat contact with the Cubans again was not formally reported to headquarters until after the assassination.
All of that then gets even more discombobulated because Win Scott's manuscript that he had locked away in his safe that Jim Angleton went down and confiscated the day that Win Scott died ... Win Scott claims that every contact was fully reported prior to the assassination at the headquarters. Anne Goodpasture was essential and was in the center of all of that. She claimed that no tapes existed at the time of the assassination. No recordings continued to exist. That's what she told us. We had the Hoover memorandum that said that the agents who had interviewed Oswald in Dallas had listened to the tape from Mexico City and the voice on the tape was not Oswald's. The picture was not Oswald.
Eldon Rudd evidently carried those items to Texas, although he denies carrying any tapes. He says he just took the photo. He refused to talk to us. He was serving in Congress at the time and refused to testify under oath to a congressional committee since he was a sitting congressman. Since that time, Jack Whitten told us he thought the tapes continued to exist. We were told that the tapes were on a two-week circulation basically, that they were erased after two weeks and reused, which means that none of them would have been existence if they had been talking about at the time of the assassination. We're also talking about at least the one tape that was taped of the conversation, the one where it was pulled out of the station and taken in with the transcript. No one seems to be able to account for that one, although the indications seem to indicate that it ended up in Win Scott's safe.
Various things in the record seem to indicate that a comparison of the voices was done in Mexico. In addition, two members of the Warren Commission told Doug Horne of the AARB that they had heard the tapes when they visited Mexico City. That's a synopsis of Annie Goodpasture and what she lied to us about. Annie was very slick. She was very hard to tie down. She was pretty antagonistic. She was very loyal to the agency, to Scott.
OHH: She also had ... Something you mentioned at the 2014 conference [in Pittsburgh] I saw on your recording there was she had a lot of loyalties. Wasn't she also closely involved with Bill Harvey who was in Miami at the time. That must have ... I'm not sure. You'll tell me more of the connection, but it must have had something to do with the fact that Bill Harvey was an expert in the wiretapping and things like this. What was their relationship? Did she have divided loyalties or ... ?
D. Hardway: I don't think that's ever been explored. Bill headed up Staff D. Anytime you were involved in intercepts, you were involved with Staff D. Exactly how involved she was, what kind of relationship she would have had with Harvey, I don't think has ever been adequately explored at least to my knowledge. I think it's an area of investigation that needs to be done if it's possible to do it. I'm not sure it is at this point.
OHH: What was your final feeling, either then or now, on what happened? Was there a photo? What happened to it? In the final analysis, was Oswald there? Was Oswald there and an imposter? Was Oswald not there at all? Do you have feelings now about [crosstalk 00:31:57]? That's a lot to chew on I realize though. It probably needs a lot of speculation so if you don't want to ...
D. Hardway: That's really speculative. John Armstrong would tell you one thing. John Adams would tell you something totally different. A lot of work has been done. I think that in a contested trial, where Oswald was available and was being defended by adequate and competent defense counsel ... But a lot of the testimony that puts him in Mexico would be subject to question. There's the real question of the descriptions of him in Mexico City. However, the photograph on the passport application is his photograph. The handwriting appears to be his handwriting.
Was he in Mexico? I'd say he probably was there himself. Was he alone? I don't think anyone can tell you that with any kind of definitive answer. I think there's pretty good indications that he was not alone and that his activities were never fully and adequately investigated at least in so far as reported to American officialdom and to the American public. We don't know ... As far as I know, no one outside of the Mexico security establishment has ever seen or become fully acquainted with the Mexican police investigation that was done after the assassination.
A lot of weird stuff went on in Mexico in the weeks following the assassination. For example, the president of Mexico at the time was an asset of Win Scott. He was a willing asset. On the 23rd, Win Scott met with him and found out that the Mexicans already knew about all the intercepts of Oswald. That was when ... Once he found out that the Mexicans knew about them all, then all of a sudden, all of them got sent to headquarters, all the transcripts. They found all of them all of a sudden.
OHH: He was a little worried then?
D. Hardway: Was the guy that was speaking broken Russian actually Oswald? I have to wonder. I have to seriously wonder. Did someone want Oswald's name in the record and didn't have available a good Russian speaker to do it? I don't know, but we know that Oswald spoke good Russian and the guy who called up the Soviet Embassy and said, "This is Lee Oswald," was speaking terrible broken Russian, hardly understandable and did not speak long. Did that call actually occur or does it just show up in the transcripts? Personally, I think it probably occurred because I think there was a tape of it. Why was the tape lost after the assassination? Once you figure out it ain't Oswald talking and he's saying, "This is Lee Oswald," you don't want anyone else to hear that tape. Why is there a 17-minute gap in the telephone conversation between Hoover and LBJ when they're talking about Mexico City and the tapes and the photographs?
D. Hardway: I can't say that Oswald wasn't there. I think he probably was. Was he alone? I doubt it. Other than that, was he impersonated? I think the evidence indicates that he probably was at least in one phone conversation. Will we ever know? No. Was it adequately investigated? No. No one ever investigated Elena Garro's story adequately. No one ever investigated the Mexican university students' stories adequately. No one who has made the reports known to American officialdom and/or to the American public has ever investigated those adequately in my opinion.
OHH: If we talk about why things in an environment like this cannot get investigated properly, I think this brings us back to the issue of George Joannides now. I don't know ... It would be interesting to hear you talk about where exactly his appearance gets made and why you think his appearance ... Clearly, they must have thought they had you guys handled, but at some point, they didn't. When he steps into ... You can describe who you thought he was, who he really was and then what point he started screwing with you guys.
D. Hardway: I don't think we were viewed as a whole lot of a threat to the agency. I think the committee by the time Bob Blakey took over was largely discredited. They had done their background investigations on us. I don't think they credited me and Eddie and some of the other people working on looking at their stuff with being able to do what we did within the timeframe that we were able to do it. After we'd started working on it, I think they realized that ... Initially, I was getting files quickly. I'd see a file reference and I'd say, "I'd like to have this file," and I'd get it within a day or two.
While my official responsibility was Mexico City and what the CIA knew, when did they know it, when did they report it, how did they fail to carry out what they should have been doing if they did. The other side of that was there any intelligence connection with Oswald? I also had the private portfolio that Bob allowed me to have. I was mixing in records requests on Harvey and on ZR/RIFLE and QJ/WIN and on different Cubans and different assets and a lot of stuff on David Phillips and some stuff on Mitch WerBell and Lucien Conein and looking at different people and mixing all those in.
I think initially, they didn't know what some of the things I was looking for were. Consequently, I was getting good access. I was getting files. I was getting whole files. I was getting them unexpurgated. The sensible reason that they brought George Joannides in was because of the disorganization of our requests. The volume meant that Scott Breckenridge, who was the liaison, needed assistance and someone needed to systemize the system so we could keep track of what we were seeing so they could keep track of what we were seeing and have a better handle on what potential secrets they were exposing. We were told that Joannides had no connection of any kind whatsoever with the case and that he was being brought out of retirement in order to assist Scott Breckenridge.
We discovered subsequently through records disclosed through the AARB ... I think they were disclosed inadvertently. I don't think they were ever meant to be disclosed that George Joannides was very actively involved in anti-Cuban operations in 1963. The CIA officially and repeatedly advised the House Select Committee on Assassinations that there was no relationship between the DRE, an anti-Castro Cuban student group, and the CIA in 1963, that all relationship between them and the CIA had been severed by April of 1963 and that in November of 1963 and thereafter that there had been no relationship between the CIA and DRE. It was also revealed during the AARB's document releases that not only had Joannides been involved in anti-Castro Cuban propaganda operations, he ran the propaganda operation for JM/WAVE at the time, JM/WAVE in Miami. Having replaced William Kent, who had moved to headquarters, who had been trained by David Phillips ... He worked very closely with David Phillips, who ran all the anti-Castro operations out of Mexico City and had previously been the star CIA officer when it came to propaganda and in fact, may well have recruited some of the members of DRE back in the late '50s when he was undercover in Cuba.
The DRE itself had been organized by William Kent, who was working with Phillips then when Phillips was running propaganda for the Bay of Pigs. The DRE had been formed in Miami when Kent was working in Miami under Phillips' direct supervision. Kent was replaced by a guy named Doug Gupton. Gupton was replaced by a guy named George Joannides. There's a long story involved in how Joannides was chosen and why and his relationship back to Dick Helms, but he became the DRE case officer and became a very effective case officer and received commendations for turning DRE into a very effective propoganda organization in late 1963 and into late 1963, which of course, if you know, is when the DRE in New Orleans happened to have the run in with Lee Oswald that became the basis of Lee Harvey Oswald's notoriety as a pro-Castro Communist.
The DRE was funded by the CIA. I can't remember right now and I didn't check before we talked, but it was funded by the CIA at the time to the tune of either $25,000 or $50,000 a month. In '63, that's not what it would be today. That's a lot of money in 1963. It was still being funded that way in August of '63 when they had the run-in with Oswald. It was still being funded that way in November when Kennedy was killed. The very first conspiracy theory ever published was published on November 23rd in the DRE's newspaper, front page, saying that, "Kennedy had been killed on Castro's orders by a pro-Castro Cuban Communist and here's the low-down on him."
I was investigating. I didn't know that about DRE. DRE was not really in the sights of my investigation because we had been convinced by the CIA that there was no relationship with DRE. I wasn't doing a whole lot of work on DRE. That was being done by the anti-Castro Cuban group. Eddie was doing some work on that. One of the things that I was looking at the time ... I was looking at Harvey as hard as I could, which got me into the Roselli anti-Castro plots. I was looking really hard at back-cannel communication methods and inter-station agency communications, in other words from Mexico City JM/WAVE, JM/WAVE to Mexico City, that type of thing, and back-channel communications, how they could get stuff around without creating the records that I was looking at and what kind of records I could find for such back channel, where it would leave traces.
I was looking at the propoganda operations. I was looking really hard at those because if you go back and look at what happened after the assassination, the stuff linking Castro and trying to blame Castro came so fast and was so coordinated: Alvarado Ugarte, the DRE stuff. Then if you went back and looked at the FBI reports and the newspaper accounts and you find all these Cuban names of people who are making reports about Castro being connected and Oswald being connected to Castro. One of the things that I was doing was I was pulling files on these people who had made these reports. I was finding out that I could tie almost all of them to David Phillips either as active agents in '63 or as agents whom he had had a historical relationship with of one kind or another, not agents necessarily, but assets.
Consequently, Joannides when he came down, he basically shut ... When he came onboard, he shut us down specifically not so much in Mexico City, although the work in Mexico City dried up as well. We didn't get nearly everything we should have seen in Mexico City. It got much tougher to get anything in Mexico City. The stuff I was working on on my own, it slowed to a trickle. His controlling what we were doing basically slowed the process down so that he would be able to see what we were asking before we got hold of it. We stopped getting unexpurgated access. Often times, we would get a file with sealed envelopes in it, stuff they decided we weren't allowed to see, which was contrary to the agreement. Other times, I would get a 201 file on someone that I knew should be an inch or two inches thick from my prior experience and it would have four or five documents on it. It was absurd.
Unfortunately, at the time Bob Blakey didn't believe what we were telling him about what was being done to us. It did not completely frustrate our work. I think we were able to get out some pretty good stuff, but I think we could have gotten out a lot more. The thing that is important I think about that is that what they did is they brought in someone who knew what it was necessary not to let us find.
There's a letter in the record where Scott Breckenridge writes to Gary Cornwall, the assistant chief counsel on the Kennedy side saying basically that me and Eddie weren't mature enough to handle the information we sought to find, to know. I think that basically what he was saying was that they couldn't trust us with what it was we wanted to know, so they effective shut us down and kept us from getting it. The rationale behind what I was doing with the propoganda stuff was that in my view at the time, as novice as I was, it appeared to me that no one could have on an ad hoc basis have laid on the coordinated disinformation campaign that I saw on an ad hoc basis. There had to be advanced planning of that disinformation campaign. It had to be laid on at least partially in advance.
To me, I considered that to be potentially serious evidence of a conspiracy, at least of advanced knowledge. That was why I was looking at it. I still don't have any professional intelligence experience. Some people will tell you that I have no professional intelligence or any other kind of intelligence, but I have continued to look at and think about intelligence issues and intelligence operations and to read in the area, including the textbooks that they use to train agents and everything now. It's still my opinion that that's evidence of a conspiracy. We were shut down on it.
In Jeff Morley's lawsuit, the CIA admitted that George Joannides was working undercover in his assignment to the committee. They ran a disinformation operations against a congressional committee charged with investigating them. They ran the operation on US soil, not for national security purposes, but to protect their end. No one did a thing about it. They admitted it under oath in court pleading that he was working undercover in his assignment and no one did anything. The judge won't even authorize attorney fees for Jeff Morley's attorney because the judge says that nothing significant came out of Jeff's FOIA request. Maybe their view of the world is just that totally different. I don't know. I don't understand.
OHH: I think that says a lot about where power and where secrecy come together. You don't have many options when you're the Congress, much less a private person. When you talk about the CIA, they have their own ever-evolving version of why they did what they did with the Warren Commission. You wrote a really interesting, really detailed article about Phil Shenon's book. I guess it came out a couple of years ago now. The CIA is basically trying to pin things on John McCone and say that because of him, who was put in my Kennedy, that he decided that he had a "benign coverup that would be best for the country." When we compare that kind of story, "It really wasn't us. It was this other guy. In any case, it was all benign." That's in 1963. Then you compare what happened with Joannides and you guys, how do you reconcile these two, the public face of the CIA and the reality?
D. Hardway: When Bob Blakey took over, Scott Breckenridge was the liaison. Scott Breckenridge was working in the office of the Inspector General of the CIA in 1967 when Jack Anderson broke the Roselli stories about Castro turning the team that was sent to assassinate him around and sending them back to kill Kennedy. Scott Breckenridge was one of the people who investigated at that time the CIA's associations and relationships with the mafia. He was the in-house guy who knew where the mafia connections were and everything, who had done the internal investigation.
He's the guy that was tapped to deal with Bob Blakey. He's referenced in a memorandum for the record on March 29th, 1967 from the Director of the Office of Security. It's a memo to the record about a meeting that he had with Scott Breckenridge. In that memo, he says that after he had spoken with the IG's office who told him that they wanted all the records he had in the Office of Security about contact with the mafia, that he stopped by the director's office and told them that he assumed that he had the director's approval to take the action since he considered himself currently under examination to bury this material.
Before the investigations had started, the director Richard Helms had told him to bury the material. Then the IG's office came calling and told him that they had been instructed to investigate any and all aspects of the Johnny Roselli case. The memorandum goes onto conclude, "The director, Helms, said that he was glad that I had checked with him and that he fully approved my action. It seems that the White House, Congress and Drew Pearson are digging into the allegation that the agency played a role in the attempt to assassinate Castro. He wants to be in a position to say that his inspector general has investigated the matter thoroughly."
I just love the ambiguity of the phrasing. Does he say ... ? He says, "I told him I'd assumed I had his approval since I was myself currently under his admonition to bury the material. He said that he was glad that I had checked with him, and he fully approved my action." Which action did he approve? To bury the material? Sounds to me like that's probably what he's saying, but he wanted to make it clear that he had to appear to be fully cooperating because he wants to be in a position to say that his inspector general has investigated the manner thoroughly. He doesn't record that he wanted to be in a position to be able to swear or to know, just that he needed to be able to say it. Don't tell me about burying this stuff again.
That's why Osborn then goes back and puts the memo in the record on as to why he buried the stuff. That probably still hasn't seen the light of day. I think I know what one of those were. I think it was hidden from us. The point is that they brought in someone who was familiar with all of that when Bob Blakey came in. Since 1967 when conspiracy allegations really first started gaining traction, really since right after the publication of the Warren Commission reports that the CIA has denied any kind of cover-up. They have vehemently denied anything other than doing sources and methods protection that they're required to do by law.
In this article that the CIA historian, David Robarge, wrote for the in-house magazine that is circulated to active CIA employees. It's a classified publication. He for the first time, admits that the CIA participated in what he calls a benign cover-up. It's a long article. It's fascinating reading. Everyone should read it. It's been declassified with some expurgations. It was originally published in September of 2013 in Studies in Intelligence, volume 57, number 3. You can find it online at the CIA site, the expurgated version. He details a lot about the dealing between the CIA and the Warren Commission. It's a less than straightforward article in a lot of ways. For example, he claims that there is no evidence whatsoever that there was any communication or coordination going on with Allen Dulles. All he needs to do is go back and read and Jack Whitten's HSCA deposition. He used his pseudonym at the time, John Scelso. If you want to find, it's Mary Ferrell under John Scelso's testimony.
He testified that Allen Dulles ... Or repeatedly told him that he had contact and was coordinating with Allen Dulles on the commission, but what Robarge does in the article ... One of the main thrusts of the article is to say, "Yeah, it was McCone that was directing the benign cover-up." Very interesting the way they word it. He says that they were interested in "avoiding disclosures about covert actions that would circumstantially implicate CIA in conspiracy theories." The benign cover-up, he makes you think ... The way the whole rest of the article is worded, that they were covering up Cuban operations and the Castro assassination plots.
What they were covering up that he says ... These guys use language very carefully just like in the Osborn memo. You've got to understand. You've got to listen to what they say. He said that would circumstantially implicate CIA in conspiracy theories. What conspiracy theories were they concerned about that the CIA could be implicated in?
In this regard, we have two examples now. We now have a third example, where there are cover-ups. We know they covered up at least some of the information about the Castro mafia plots. We know that they covered up information to keep it from getting to me and Eddie. The MO that they followed in covering up the Castro assassination plots was they brought in Scott Breckenridge, who knew where the bodies were buried, to deal with Bob Blakey, who knew mafia. As me and Eddie were learning propaganda and propaganda operations and back-channel communications between Mexico and David Phillips and David Phillips' activities, they brought in George Joannides, who knew exactly where the bodies were buried and what to keep us away from.
It's really interesting when you go back and realize that they admitted covering up to the Warren Commission to look at what they did. Jack Whitten initially had the investigation in house, but Angleton undercut him and opposed him and backdoored him. Eventually they take the investigation, very early on, when it becomes apparent that the FBI's report that's supposed to put everything to bed by the end of January wasn't going to put everything to bed.
They take the investigation away from Jack Whitten in the Western Hemisphere division and they give it to Jim Angleton, and not just Jim Angleton, but the guy who becomes the leader on the thing, is Birch O'Neill, who runs the Special Investigations Group, which was the group that controlled the Oswald 201 file from 1959 until 1961 when it officially became established. They are the ones who are running Oswald. They knew what had to be hidden at the time. There's a pattern that they followed.
OHH: They've got a book someplace that they know the techniques and they put them to practice I guess. You got time for a couple of more questions? I don't want to keep you.
D. Hardway: Sure, go ahead.
OHH: From your own personal work now, I notice you said you've got some of your own Freedom of Information Act requests going on right now and that you got a ... Is that a lawsuit? Do you want to talk about some of that stuff? Do you have a lawsuit going? Is that right?
D. Hardway: I'm currently involved with Jim Lesar in representing two clients in FOIA cases against the CIA. One is Eddie Lopez, my former partner. There is a document withheld in full according to the NARA database called the Lopez file. It consists of 40 some pages about Eddie Lopez. It was withheld in full when files were declassified. We've sued on Eddie's behalf under the Privacy Act and under the Freedom of Information Act and under the JFK Act asking the court to force them to disclose what is in that 40-page file. NARA said that they couldn't release it because of the CIA hold on it. CIA denies that they know what we're talking about and say they don't even know where the file is or what the file is.
Even though we've given them the RIF number and the reference and the database where it's listed. We filed that complaint. The CIA asked for extra time to answer. They got an extra month to file their answer. They filed a fairly incomprehensible answer and the very next day the judge ordered them to either file a motion to dismiss or to produce the documents or at least to produce the schedule upon which they will give us the documents. We're waiting to see what the CIA does for that. The next development in that case will be on April 26th when the CIA files whatever they file in response to the judge's orders.
The second case was a case involving travel records for Bill Harvey and his assistant, Wyatt. I can't remember his first name off the top of his head. That was a request made by David Talbot. We're asking for a better search of the records and a fuller disclosure of the records they have on Bill Harvey's TDY travel records and his associate Wyatt's TDY travel records. Part of that ... Dave asked for that when he was writing his book. Of course, you don't get anything quickly enough from FOIA suits to be useful in current research that you're doing. That's one of the reasons why you don't get it in a timely fashion is they know you need it for current research. That lawsuit is also partially based on my memory of seeing records when I was working on Harvey at the agency, records that indicated that he had returned fairly frequently from Rome after his transfer there. We're looking for those records that the CIA may have on that.
OHH: That's good news about [crosstalk 01:07:02].
D. Hardway: That case was just filed last week.
OHH: When you write these Freedom of Information Act requests ... I was going to ask if you have to be very precise, but if you can send them the actual record number and have them say they don't know where it is, then I guess it doesn't matter how precise you are. Is there an art to coming up with these or ... ?
D. Hardway: The more specific you can get, the better your chances are of success. If you know what you're looking for, you can tell them what it is you're looking for and you can tell them where to go look. Sometimes you do that. Sometimes you cast a broader net. We've got a couple of other requests pending. We've got one massive request that me and Ed Lopez and Bob Blakey went together to make. It's a very large request for a lot of records on a broad scope. They haven't even acknowledged receiving that one.
OHH: That's really interesting.
D. Hardway: That was one was filed several years ago.
OHH: That was several years ago? Several years ago and they still haven't acknowledge receiving it?
D. Hardway: Yeah.
OHH: Right. Your only redress is a lawsuit then, is that right?
D. Hardway: Yeah. That one would be a pretty massive lawsuit. I don't know if we're going to file it or not. We may break it up into smaller requests, make it a little more manageable.
OHH: When you ask for a lot of documents like that, they come back and try to charge you for retrieving them?
D. Hardway: The question is, is why do we have to do this?
OHH: That's a very good question.
D. Hardway: Why do we have to do this? This is a file about Eddie Lopez. This is a file about the man who is asking for the file. Why do we have to have a lawsuit?
Why is our government so intransigent? Why do they not want us to know what they do? It's not just, "We need to protect a secret from 50 years ago because it can endanger national security." You might be able to convince me that there are certain secrets that need to be kept for national security purposes, but the exception has eaten the rule. Everything government does is secret. You can't even get a file that on its face says it's about yourself.
We have an FOIA request, a short one pending, me and Bob and Eddie, asking them for the surveillance records on us, that they did on us. They've produced nothing on that. I don't think we've asked the FBI yet, but I know the FBI had surveillance vans parked outside the house that me and Eddie and Leslie Wizelman shared in Virginia when we were working for the community. We'd take coffee out to them.
OHH: You said that-
D. Hardway: I'm not saying they were surveilling us. We had the Cuban intersection diplomats over to our house on a couple of occasions to entertain. That's when the FBI van would show up. We assumed it was an FBI van. The number of antennas, it may have been a whole division of the NSA. I don't know.
OHH: You said that it wasn't the only thing running against you guys possibly was Joannides. You felt that there was some other operations coordinated. What were some of those [crosstalk 01:11:36]?
D. Hardway: I don't have the kind of proof of that that I do on Joannides. The agency has admitted under oath that Joannides was running undercover against the committee. I don't know that it was the agency running stuff at us or rather it was David Phillips or rather it was David Phillips and the agency, but a lot of things that happened ... We were winding down. It was in August. They'd had Gaeton Fonzi, who was the main person who was doing the investigation into Maurice Bishop. They had had him doing a lot of other stuff. He hadn't really been able to do much work on Phillips Veciana story through the summer. Probably late July/early August, he came back.
He was doing an interview with Phillips' brother down in Texas. Philip's brother was named Edwin and he headed up the Fort Worth organized crime commission. Gaeton was doing an interview with him. I had been preparing for my last interview of Phillips. I knew I'd have one last shot at him. I had that scheduled in late/mid August. I don't remember the exact day. All of a sudden, we got a report that there was a guy who knew Maurice Bishop and that he wasn't David Phillips. We got another report of another guy that had seen a photograph. One of those was Barney Hidalgo. One of those was Joe Piccolo.
Consequently, we spent a lot of time running those leads down, working on that stuff that kept us away from working on stuff more directly associated with Phillips. I have a feeling ... At least Barney I think was probably run at us as a misdirection to confuse the issue. If you're involved in a conspiracy, one of the primary things that you don't want to happen is to have the people you're conspiring against discover the conspiracy. The essence of a conspiracy is that it stay secret, but in the eventuality that information about the conspiracy should come out, the alternative that you want to do is to make it so confusing, to sew so many red herrings, to plant so many false trails, the create so much disinformation that no one can ever be absolutely certain whether or not there really was a conspiracy or not.
You can provide all these other explanations, throw all this dust in the air. We get a call, "Oh yeah, I knew Maurice Bishop. I used to see him at headquarters. Oh yeah, I know Dave Phillips. Know Dave Phillips well. No, Dave Phillips wasn't Maurice Bishop. No, I couldn't tell you his real name. I only knew him as Maurice Bishop." That was Barney Hidalgo. Barney was one of those people that should have had a two-inch thick or, better, 201 file that had just a couple of documents in it. Joe Piccolo also was related back to David Phillips. Worked with David Phillips. Joe Piccolo was a much more interesting person than I ever realized. I've read some of his files that have been really ... Since the CIA, I've learned a lot of stuff about him that I didn't know at the time that I wish I had.
OHH: Just to make it clear, he was somebody who, even though the CIA could not produce this photo, even though by means of all the surveillance [crosstalk 01:16:03].
D. Hardway: He saw it.
OHH: He said he saw it.
D. Hardway: Yeah, I think he was one of the ones that saw it or he may have been one of the ones that was told about it. Don't remember. The interesting thing about the photo that people told us that they saw, several of them including the deputy. I think it was the deputy chief of station, Alan White, that described it to us, described the same photo. It's just interesting that we get that kind of consistency about a photo. I think I talked about it in Bethesda probably. I think I did there. I think that was where I talked about it. When we look at it, Phillips was on TDY in DC when Oswald was in Mexico City.
I'm pretty sure that the photo that they got of Oswald was off of the Impulse camera. No one seems to know what happened with the initial production on the days that Oswald visited the Cuban embassy, the 27th and 28th, out of that Impulse camera, which were the two days that we know for sure that it was working and it produced at least 10 feet of 16 millimeter film.
One of the things that they did on October 1st was they pouched bulk materials to David Phillips at headquarters, where he was TDY, with the transmittal manifest. We were told that there was no way to trace that pouch. Later, Anne Goodpasture of the AARB, acknowledged that nonaccountable pouches did not have manifests. Transmittal manifests made the pouch traceable and accountable. We were told that this particular one that went out with a number of transmittal manifests was not traceable. They refused to tell us anything or give us anything else about that. That's one of the things I was really trying to look into when I got shut down. I was trying to learn a lot more about transmittal manifests and stuff like that and back-channel communications.
When Angleton went down and got Win Scott's stuff out of his safe, his wife says that one of the things he took was a note that he found in a desk drawer that Win Scott had written to Dick Helms that basically said that he would turn over what he had anytime he wanted. It's always been reported that it was in regard to the manuscript he was writing, that Angleton was concerned about that manuscript, but if you go back and check the story that she actually said, what she said was that what the note says is that he would send the manifest to Helms anytime he wanted it, not the manuscript. Win Scott considered himself an intellectual and writer. He's not going to say manifest when he means manuscript. I thought that maybe it was a mistake the wife made or of the person that she told it to made.
I went back and traced that source back as far as I could. Everyone consistently agrees that she said manifest, that the note said manifest. In actuality, I think Scott kept the negatives and at least one print of the photographs. He kept a copy of the transmittal manifest and sent it to DC. In that safe, I think he probably also kept the tape. That may well have been a copy of which may well have been in that bulk materials that went to CIA for David Phillips who was their TDY. I think there's a good chance that Phillips when he says in a footnote of Secret War Diaries ... Trying to get the phrasing exactly right. Don't want to misquote him.
OHH: This is a book that he wrote?
D. Hardway: Yeah. It's one that I think he probably pretty much self-published. In a footnote, he says, "I should add that I was an observer of the Cuban and Soviet reaction in Mexico City when Lee Oswald contacted their embassies." "I was an observer of the Cuban and Soviet reactions." He was in DC. He got his observations that came up in that pouch on the dangle that he ran at the agencies. I'm convinced of it. Would it stand up in a court of law looking for proof beyond a reasonable doubt? No. Proved by a preponderance of the evidence? Probably not. Proof that would satisfy an intelligence agent that he had actionable intelligence? I think it definitely stands up to that standard, which is about the best you can hope for when you're dealing with a sophisticated operation run by sophisticated CIA officers. Jack Whitten called David Phillips the best agency operative he ever worked with. There you go. Anything else that I can help you with?
OHH: No, I think ... I've got a million more questions about the report and things like that, but I think this is a really great conversation. I think we got a lot of this stuff that's more immediate and more important to now, especially with 2017 coming up. I think this kind of thing is really important so people ... I don't think people quite understand that this thing is still living and breathing and new things are being found out. I think this is going to be a big year. I think this is a lot of important stuff. I really appreciate you taking the time out to talk to me.
D. Hardway: Any time. Thank you.
OHH: Thanks a lot, Dan.
D. Hardway: Bye.