In the last few years we have been fortunate to see a number of new documents show up which allow us a much more comprehensive view into the convoluted nature of spying in Mexico City. I tried to present a good bit of that in NEXUS and hopefully Bill Simpich is going to give us an even more in depth view when his book eventually appears.
But I wanted to focus in on one extremely important area, where more research is definitely in order – the telephone impersonations of Oswald. For details supporting the idea of impersonations you should dig into John Newman’s most recent edition of his book on Oswald.
In any event, it appears that on two, and most likely more occasions, telephone calls relating to Lee Oswald appear to have been made by persons unknown, impersonating or directing attention to Oswald. On at least one occasion, the call supposedly came from the Cuban embassy itself (although on a Saturday when it should have been closed). The origins of the other calls were not specified in post assassination inquires. Now that would seem like a most important issue – and given the location of the phone taps certainly some information should have been available.
Now this sort of thing might not jump out as a particular area of interest for most folks, however, I happen to have spent a number of years working in the areas of telephone switching, and phone system installations. So when I began to read documents that discussed in some detail how taps were placed on the Cuban embassy, where the recorders were placed and who was actually doing the tape recording it really got my attention. As it turns out, bugging embassies was a major focus of the technician intelligence being gathered by Mexico City station and recruiting the right locals to make that happen was a major priority. You will find a lot about that in the Mexico City station history, available at the Mary Ferrell Foundation.
In early years, most of the speculation about the 1963 telephone taping seems to have assumed that it was done at telephone switch installations. While that is certainly possible (and while the FBI might even have been doing that) what we see in the CIA documents is a lot of attention to actually placing phone taps at local access points close to the embassies and running those taps into the adjacent safe houses where personnel did both physical and technical intelligence gathering ( tape machines and 24 hour staff in a Mexican telephone switch office would certainly raise questions over time) . The Mexico City station records record the trials and tribulations of keeping staff in that job and also record that training for the surveillance teams was eventually given by AMOT’s (the Cuban exile intelligence service whose personnel were initially trained by David Morales) out of the JM/WAVE station in Miami.
So where am I going with this. First I’m urging more people to jump in and study the technical information which may be found in documents relating to Mexico City – I reference some of that in NEXUS but I’m sure there is more to find.
Second, ponder this. If you need to impersonate Lee Oswald and you need to make sure it gets on tape, you are going to have to make sure you call into the Cuban embassy on a line that is taped – Sylvia Duran’s line fits that bill.
But if you are going to need to make a call that has to be taped, and you need to do it on Saturday when the Cuban embassy is closed (and so is the Russian embassy but a guard may pick up the phone) where do you make the call from?
Well you can call from anywhere if you know for sure the Russian main line is tapped and on a recorder – or you could just call from one of the safe house taps on the Cuban embassy (handy if they want to call back because you would be the only ones around to answer, nobody at the embassy).
So…what if we could determine that the Oswald/Duran impersonation call on Saturday was actually taped off one of the recorders in one of the safe houses with a tap on the Cuban embassy. Well, it might imply that the person making the call was actually an “insider”, a CIA employee or someone with access to the safe houses. That would be pretty interesting, certainly it would need a good explanation.
So with all the technical resources available to the Agency, why don’t we know where each of the impersonation calls was actually physically taped, telling us what personnel were involved and exactly where the tap itself was located?
Or can we figure it out even at this late date?