Revelation 19.63

Page 10 of 10

Family and friends mourned him as a loving husband, thoughtful father, and delightful and ethical friend. His obituary in the Washington Post on March 14, 1990, made no mention of his 28 years of CIA service, stating only that he had been a lawyer for the Defense Department.

Fidel Castro and the majority of the American people don't often agree, but on the JFK conspiracy question they are like-minded. In December 1995 Fabian Escalante, retired chief of counterintelligence for Castro's security services, offered new details of the Cuban interpretation of Kennedy's assassination. As Castro had insinuated from the beginning, Cuban communists believed that certain exiles, working in league with CIA officials who loathed Kennedy's Cuba policy, were likely responsible for the crime. Speaking at a conference of JFK historians in the Bahamas, Escalante said he had conducted the Cuban government's first full-scale inquiry into the assassination in 1991 and 1992. He claimed he and a colleague had interviewed 150 people in Cuba and said he had reviewed all relevant files.

"I think that the people that had to do with [the assassination] are people in the DRE," he told the conference. But Escalante was another investigator who knew nothing of Joannides. He emphasized that he didn't think Juan Manuel Salvat or other military section leaders were the organizers of the plot. "When you are going to carry out an operation as complex as this one, you cannot put all your money on one single horse. You have to use different ways in order not to have any mistakes." He added, "Obviously the DRE was in on the whole plot against Cuba."

Salvat shrugs at the suggestion that the Directorate had a hand in Kennedy's death. His response is self-deprecating, not defensive. "If there was a conspiracy," he offers, "it was at a much higher level than the DRE."

The Joannides story doesn't prove the existence of an assassination conspiracy, but it does demonstrate that a U.S. government intelligence officer was far better positioned to know about Kennedy's accused killer than the CIA has ever admitted. Still the agency prefers to bluff rather than to disclose. When I asked the CIA in 1999 to explain why J. Barry Harrelson of the agency's Office of Historic Review had, a year earlier, denied that the CIA had had any contact with the Directorate in 1963, as well as any knowledge of Joannides's activities that year, a spokesman said the agency could not help me. "We think the records speak for themselves," he replied.

Principal Players:

Basulto, José DRE gunner

Blakey, G. Robert General counsel to the House Select Committee on Assassinations

Borja, Isidro "Chilo" DRE military-section leader

Bringuier, Carlos DRE representative in New Orleans

Crozier, Ross CIA agent based in Miami

Escalante, Fabian Chief of counterintelligence for Cuba's security services

Fernandez-Rocha, Luis DRE secretary-general

Fonzi, Gaeton Investigator for the House Select Committee on Assassinations

Helms, Richard CIA director

Hoover, J. Edgar FBI director

Joannides, George CIA agent based in Miami; agency liaison to the DRE

Lanuza, José Antonio DRE's director of North American chapters

Muller, Alberto DRE cofounder

Phillips, David Atlee CIA agent

Salvat, Juan Manuel DRE propaganda chief

Shackley, Theodore CIA Miami station chief

Travieso, Ernesto DRE cofounder

Whitten, John CIA agent who headed probe of Lee Harvey Oswald

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Jefferson Morley