"This group's purpose and interest in Oswald is detailed in another section of this final report dealing with whether or not Lee Oswald was an agent or asset of the Central Intelligence Agency."
Lopez Report, p. 142
One of the most over looked documents that was born of the House Select Committee on Assassinations in the late 1970’s is the Lopez Report. That is mainly due to it being classified by reason of National Security for almost 30 years. The product of two young lawyers, Ed Lopez and Dan Hardway were sent to Mexico City by one of the HSCA lead investigators Gaeton Fonzi, to it investigate Oswald’s time there in the months before the assassination took place. Their declassified report, coined by Vince Bugliosi as a "giant dud" is hardly that—only a dud to the misinformed or in Bugliosi’s case, those who want to ignore the truth on one of the great crimes of the twentieth century.
Known as Oswald’s Mexico Mystery Tour, this phase of Kennedy assassination research is filled with cloak and danger deeds, odd happenings and coincidences, Oswald impersonators, missing tapes, straight out lying by top CIA officials, and Oswald’s own peculiar behavior. Like many areas of this investigation, none of it makes any sense at first glance, and becomes an exercise in bewilderment. Only until the circumstantial facts start piling up that Oswald was more than a long nut loser, and more of a man on a mission for clandestine services, do things begin to make a bit of sense. Though it is still a mysterious undertaking.
Oswald’s Mexico Mystery Tour
Suffice to say, Oswald’s trip to Mexico is a convoluted and complex issue. Better for the reader to go to James DiEugenio’s detailed account at CTKA.net, HERE.
As a summary, Lee Oswald in the late September of 1963 boarded a bus for Mexico City. For unstated reasons he wanted back in the Soviet Union but assumed he would need to travel through Cuba first, so he preceded to travel by bus to Mexico City to speak with the Soviets there at their consulate and obtain a visa. Upon arriving, he went to the Cuban embassy first and was told he needed the visa from the Soviets first. Proceeding there, he was told it would take weeks or months to obtain the visa. So, he returns to the Cubans and tells them he has it. Staff member Silvia Duran becomes suspicious, rings the Russians, and finds out the truth. Oswald had lied; not even basic paperwork had been filed. Being confronted with this, Oswald gets belligerent and is escorted out by security personnel. He hangs around in Mexico a few more days, allegedly calls both embassies inquiring about the visas before leaving.
However, this weird episode is not over here. The CIA had the Soviet and Cuban embassies were wire tapped. The person claiming to be Oswald uses broken Russian when talking to them. He uses excellent Spanish when talking to the Cubans. This is where the imposer claim appears and is most likely correct. FBI director Hoover believed it and told Lyndon Johnson that in a five-page memo (and a phone call). Oswald was an excellent Russian speaker, so good that his wife Mariana, upon meeting him, thought he was a local because of his Baltic accent. He was never known to speak Spanish to any degree. Also, FBI agents that were familiar with Oswald’s voice, upon listening to the tapes, state the caller was not Oswald. Another issue were the calls themselves. The speaker is asking questions about the visa process that Oswald would have known were finished, since he failed to fill out any forms and the visa process was dead.
Silvia Duran, mentioned above, describes the Oswald she spoke with as being short with blonde hair. (This description was omitted from the Warren Report.) Other witnesses describe meeting an Oswald with blonde hair as well. Never the less, a lot of phone calls were made that were of a suspicious nature and some were made on days when witnesses like Duran said she was not in the office. She is either lying or was impersonated as well as Oswald was. As a side note, one Oswald call was made in English. It was transcribed but the CIA has never released it.
The CIA told the Warren Commission that they had no knowledge as to what Lee Oswald was up to prior to the assassination. This is blatantly a lie. The Soviet and Cuban embassies were thoroughly wiretapped and the CIA had a team of transcribers documenting every call. They knew every word Oswald, or his imposter, said. To make matters worse, top CIA officer David Phillips lied under oath and said that the tapes were destroyed before the assassination. They were not and can be easily proven so now such as CIA officer's Stanley Watson's testimony to the HSCA stating that the tapes were in existence after the assassination (and the 5-page memo from Hoover to LBJ saying his agents has listened to the tapes, 11/23/63).
Plus, any American showing up at a communist embassy at the height of the cold war would be of operational interest as pointed out in the Lopez report. Oswald spoke to a Russian embassy official, Kostikov, who was also a top KGB agent, in charge of assassinations for the western hemisphere. Couple that, with Oswald being a former Soviet defector, and approaching a Soviet embassy, should have sent a bolt of electricity up the chain of command. We know from released CIA cables, this was not the case. Perhaps that was because Oswald was on a mission so no need to get excited? We know for example, as Lopez and Harden discovered, there were also false cables sent out as well to most likely cover up Oswald’s true reason for being in Mexico City. One had six agents signing it and they had to have known the information on it was false.
So who was the impostor? Jeff Morely in his excellent book, Our Man in Mexico, believes the impostor was a CIA agent. They did use operatives to investigate suspicious activities and did so on an American that had visited the Cuban embassy. The FBI arrested that man when he returned to Texas. Interestingly, there was no entrapment of Oswald going on like this and no one questioned him upon his return. And to think he was trying to travel to Cuba, which was and still is, against the law!
The Missing Section
Going back to the quote for the Lopez report above, it was mentioned that in another section of the report here was going to be information about Oswald’s relationship with the CIA. When the report was finally declassified that section was missing and is presumably still classified. Researcher James DiEugenio pointed this out personally to Ed Lopez, much to his agitation. As he said as the discovery, “They always hated that part…If I was them, I would have hated it too." The CIA hated anyone knowing how close they were with Oswald. And obviously, fashioned a cover up by deleting that section, just like they did with Mexico station chef Winston Scott’s memoir when they redacted his entire chapter on Oswald (and in fact, most of his memoir is classified also—see Morley).
Questions Still Remain
What the Lopez Report documents is tremendous amount of conniving going on with the CIA in regards to Oswald’s activities in Mexico City. Everything from phony cable traffic to top-level agents lying. It is known from document releases that Oswald’s SIG 201 file was under direct control of counter espionage chief James Angleton at his CI/SIG (counter intelligence/special investigation group) and had been since Oswald’s defection in 1959. It has been suggested that Angleton was running the false defector program to the Soviet Union. John Newman in Oswald and the CIA, believes Angleton was running Oswald on operations as an off the books agent and possibly using him to assassinate Kennedy. It was not an uncommon practice for Angleton to run ops around his own station chiefs without their prior knowledge—the “need to know” basis coming into play. James DiEugenio believes Angleton was running the show from HQ while David Philips was taking care of things from the field, in whatever exercise was going on here with Oswald. Both have been caught in numerous lies and you don’t do that unless you have something to hide. Hunter Leake, second in command of CIA station in New Orleans said in an obscure interview that Lee Oswald was used for low level currier work and that his purpose of moving to New Orleans was at the behest of the CIA for further operations. While you can’t prove anything substantial in the area of conspiracy in the Kennedy assassination, you can prove the cover-ups. They are all over the place and everybody is involved.
One question that still remains is—what was Oswald really doing in Mexico City and what was his real purpose there? The whole deal is screwy and fraught with incompetence. It is hardly seems like something an experienced intelligence agency would plan and execute. Somebody would have to know that to get a visa from the Soviet embassy would take a long time. Shouldn’t Oswald have been furnished with a phony one to present to the Cuban embassy officials? Or perhaps it was last minute venture hastily thrown together. Maybe it was a ruse to draw out other operatives? Some have suggested that Oswald’s real intent was to go to Cuba to assassinate Castro and the trip to Russia was just a ruse to provide cover.
We know one thing for certain—at this late date over forty years later, the CIA is still withholding information on this affair.
The Lopez Report (http://www.history-matters.com/archive/contents/hsca/contents_hsca_lopezrpt_2003.htm); http://www.ctka.net/2008/bugliosi_3_review.html; Morely, Jeff, Our Man in Mexico; Newman, John, Oswald and the CIA; Fonzi, Gaeton, The Last Investigation.
James DiEugenio’s detailed article on Mexico City.
Transcript of Hoover and LBJ phone call.