Some recent dialog on the Education Forum, in regard to the long standing issue of David Phillips possible use of the alias Maurice Bishop, prompted me to comment on something that I think has been overlooked to a great extent.  In all of the study and writings (which seem to be culminating in literal explosion of books on the 50th anniversary) it seems to me that very few folks have paid much attention to the post-assassination lives of many of the probable suspects in the assassination of President Kennedy.  And for that matter, the context of the people discussed usually seems to run no more than a couple of years before the assassination.  I tried to address the issue in Someone Would Have Talked in a chapter titled “Afterwards”.  For whatever reason it seemed to get little discussion and while I was hoping others would really dig into that subject, nobody really did.   Personally I think it would make a great research project to profile anyone’s personal set of primary suspects, state their role in the assassination and then examine what happened to them after participating in one of the most visible crimes of the century.  Did they profit, did they run, did they duck and cover?  Seems like the next step to me but what I see instead is the same topics being recycled over and over again.  And it would be some new ground, something to really keep some meaningful research going after the 50th.

Just as one example of such an exercise, one of the more popular scenarios seems to be that the military industrial complex, in alliance with LBJ, killed JFK and then LBJ cheerfully gave them the war in SE Asia that they had been wanting.   OK, the thing would be to take that scenario forward, how did each of the Chiefs fair, what role did they play in Nam, did Johnson give them what they wanted – and since they obviously would have had some leverage over him, how did he treat them.  As a starting point in that study, I would recommend the book Dereliction of Duty by H.R. McMaster, which specifically focuses on Viet Nam and the relationships between Johnson, McNamara and the Joint Chiefs.  Then dig into some of the early meetings between Johnson and the Chiefs, see hour their careers went after he took over the presidency and see how it plays.

As for myself, one of the things I do in Shadow Warfare is to trace the careers of several of the shadow warriors discussed in SWHT on through at least a couple of more decades. While Shadow Warfare is about a much broader subject, it certainly gives an extended treatment of what people like Dave Phillips and David Morales went on to do after 1963.  As an example, it becomes reasonably clear that David Phillips continued to pursue his own anti-communist agenda with side actions even after he moved far up the management ladder at the CIA.  It is highly unlikely that he was sanctioned to  use Veciana and Luis Posada in a series of Castro assassination plots in Latin America, but almost certain that he did so.

Enough of that though, my point was to surface some context for something new in post-50th anniversary JFK research.  The catch phrase about “follow the money” gets thrown about a lot, as a complement I suggest “following the suspects”.

— and yes, I’m still in edit mode and will be for three or four more weeks,  Larry







About Larry Hancock

Larry Hancock is a leading historian-researcher in the JFK assassination. Co-author with Connie Kritzberg of November Patriots and author of the 2003 research analysis publication titled also Someone Would Have Talked. In addition, Hancock has published several document collections addressing the 112th Army Intelligence Group, John Martino, and Richard Case Nagell. In 2000, Hancock received the prestigious Mary Ferrell New Frontier Award for the contribution of new evidence in the Kennedy assassination case. In 2001, he was also awarded the Mary Ferrell Legacy Award for his contributions of documents released under the JFK Act.

28 responses »

  1. Mark Gtoubert says:

    Larry: RT ran a doc last night about Miami anti-castro cubans and the Bay of Pigs – it featured many of the historical players and brought it up to today even. Lots of David Atlee Phillips footage. Also reconciliation seminar in Havana with Goodwin and Schesinger. But the thing I wanted to mention was that someone refers to Maurice Bishop as “Col. something” – Alan Watson or some name I can’t recall now. This was the first time I had heard of Phillips referred to anything but Maurice Bishop. Anyway, you should see it if you haven’t. It’s been around so I’m sure you have. Really paints a nasty picture of the Miami cubans.

    • Hi Mark, actually I have not seen that footage. I have run across reference to a Col Bishop although that seems to be a very different person. In fact the only individual I know who used the full name Maurice Bishop was Viciana. If you could verify the individual’s name and the fact that he used the full designation Col. Maurice Bishop it would be very helpful. The people I have found using aliases with officers rank have definitely not been CIA – I’ve seen no CIA pseudo that uses a rank, although Morales did use the pseudo of Dr. Menses.

      — thanks, Larry

      • Mark Groubert says:

        Ed Lansdale was a “General” but not from the military. Was that a phoney title? CIA General but it was his real name.

      • Mark, Lansdale was a career Air Force officer, nothing fake about that. He was detailed to the CIA for various assignments in SE Asia because of his experience there. JFK liked his work on Vietnam and actually recruited him to lead Mongoose in an effort to take the Cuba project away from the CIA. Later he supported assigning him a position in Saigon after Mongoose, but that was opposed both by the CIA and by McNamara….Lansdale was the odd man out, none of the agencies trusted him, actually JFK was probably his strongest supporter. A much longer story than fits here but that’s the gist of it; I go into in much more deeply in Shadow Warfare, including his role in Vietnam. because he had worked cross agency.

  2. Dear Larry….love you post, as usual. Would you please be more specific about the education forum as I would like to read it and post it on my blog. I have seen many docs about JFK but I would also like to see the documentary mentioned by Mark. Do you know how I can see that particular one? I have always thought David Atlee Phillips is the key to many mysteries about JFK–what if David Atlee Phillips was on the cover of LIfe Magazine instead of Lee Harvey Oswald? Thank you for your time….chloe louise

    • Hi Chloe Louise, I have not had time to actually watch it but I think the RT documentary might be the one on the Miami 5, not sure until I search further. The Education Forum thread is titled Bishop. The links for the two are as follows:

      There may be a separate Bay of Pigs documentary on RT, perhaps Chuck will post it or if it is I’ll run across it on their site.

      One of the reasons I think the Phillips/Bishop story is so strong is that if correct, it strongly suggests that either there were a whole string of sanctioned Castro assassination plots, with Phillips using Veciana and others in them over a period of years (and all that has remained totally secret, even from the Church committee) or it suggests that Phillips had the nerve and the flexibility to pursue such efforts at his own digression, simply using his position with the Agency to drive such efforts. That would indeed demonstrate that CIA officers in certain positions could go totally rogue, pursuing their own political agendas outside the standard chain of command. That’s a big story. And if true it would also support the scenario that officers such as Phillips or Morales would have the power to direct their surrogates in some extremely dangerous activities, outside of CIA oversight, much less administration policies.

      Phillips was an extremely bright individual and exceptionally well connected, even if he was not directly involved with the assassination conspiracy, I believe he most definitely was involved with Lee Oswald and that his final remarks before his death, stating that their had been a conspiracy and that American intelligence officers were involved in it, are critical to sending us in the right direction.

      • Mark Groubert says:

        Phillips was an alcoholic. He was kicked out of college for excessive drinking. Hard to do. He wanted to be a movie star. In fact his brother was a big time Hollywood screenwriter who wrote “Thunder Road” the Robert Mitchum hit movie.

  3. Mark Groubert says:

    Larry: let’s keep in mind, Joint Chief General Curtis LeMay. Lied about his whereabouts for Nov. 22nd. Deleted Air Force One tapes were about him. Shows up at JFK autopsy, smoking a cigar nonetheless, fought with Kennedy over Bay of Pigs and Cuban crisis, was the superior officer to Robert McNamara in WWW II (Fog of War). Also little known fact, Alabama Gov. George Wallace served under him in WWII as well. Wallace then selected General Curtis “Bombs Away” LeMay as his Vice Presidential running mate for 1968 election! LeMay melted down when he said he would nuke North Vietnam, but nevertheless LeMay cannot be ruled out of any cabal theory involving military.

    • Mark, if you go down the trail I suggested in looking at how each of the Chiefs fared with their new president, I think you will find that not only did their careers not benefit but their relationships with Johnson were not at all good and that he never gave them what they requested nor delivered what he did promised. Certainly there is no sign of them working together and based on some sources he treated all of them with disdain and even more than the normal amount of Johnson foul language – in person. That’s my impression based on my own research but I’d still love to see someone really pursue it in detail.

      My own research, that you see in SWHT and NEXUS does not find a military cabal involved in the conspiracy. I certainly did study that angle and its been a lifetime study of Larry Haapenan whose work I find to be impeccable. He focused on looking for proof of such a thing for decades (without finding it) and while their will always be speculation neither he nor I could find anything solid. I’ve researched and presented on the national security response on Nov. 22 and there are a number of anomalies that are interesting – for one thing it appears that there may have been a move to a higher DEFCON level response than we find in the official record. In the end though, all that appears to have been associated with a much stronger concern about conspiracy than was ever allowed to go into the official history of the day. As to LeMay and lies about his travel and location that day, certainly its an open question and I tend to think that he did make it back to DC from Canada. If he did and if all it resulted in was an appearance at Bethesda that evening, he certainly wasn’t controlling anything.

      Still, it would be a good task for someone to really do detailed work and write it up on the premise of a military cabal…tracking what happened to each of the proposed participants over the hours, months and years immediately following the assassination – I’d certainly enjoy reading that sort of research.

      • H Morgan says:

        Hi My understanding is that National security action memorandum 263 decreed that beginning Dec. 1 1963 1,000 personnel a month would be withdrawn until the deployment was exhausted, sometime in 1965. 3 days after President Kennedys death LBJ nullified 263 with his own NSAM 273. It stated for the tiime being no withdrawls from S.E. Asia. We will meet our commitments. (Seato) I pray that the 50th anniversary will spur someone with the means and zeal along with several of the nations best investigators to give an explosive look into this before it fades into history. The children of that 22nd of November (I was 9 now 59), are aging and soon after they pass I doubt any interest from those unborn at that time will care much.

      • Actually almost all of the current history works make it very clear that JFK had already begun the process of moving to his own early version of Vietnamization – either the South would stand on its own with nothing more than routine military assistance, or the regime would fall…most likely resulting in some internal compromise with the Viet Cong. Its only the older texts and commentaries that waffle on that point. He was fed up with the leadership in South Vietnam and had major doubts about its viability. The catch in this is that a number of the military studies which had been in play earlier during his administration were still coming to their conclusions or even still in process and JFK himself had only begun to realize the extent of disagreement on the state of affairs in the country, disagreement even within the American military.

        The same can be true of the covert operations which JFK had authorized against the North, they had been an utter failure and, according to McGeorgee Bundy, JFK was beginning to come to the conclusion that covert operations in general were an exercise in futility over the long term.

  4. Mark Groubert says:

    Thanks Larry. Here’s what I meant about Lansdale concerning just his rank and branch;
    From the Air Force:
    He was commissioned as a Lieutenant in the U.S. Army in 1943.
    He was commissioned as a Captain in the regular U.S. Air Force in 1947 “with the temporary rank of Major.” He received a “temporary promotion to lieutenant colonel in 1949” then he “was given a temporary promotion to colonel in 1951.” “He was given a temporary promotion to brigadier general in April 1960.”
    Just wondering about his promotions and temporary nature of them plus the different branches.

    • Mark, for some reason I could not get it to complete a download for me…I gather you were talking about this as a resource:

      EDWARD G. LANSDALE – Air University Book:
      edward g. lansdale a catalog of his Books and a register of his papers at the air university library air university library 012 maxwell air force base, alabama

      As to his military record, my impression is that a lot of his temporary promotions had to do with his CIA assignments, where he was often put into a position of working with very high foreign political figures, in Indonesia, Vietnam etc. That meant bumping him up in rank for political purposes, if the mission succeeded he probably got to keep it otherwise it would have reverted. That’s just a guess though, it would be necessary to match the timing of the promotions up to his assignments. The service change from Army to Air Force would have been with the creation of the independent USAF, split from the Army Air Force in 1947.

      I certainly find him a fascinating fellow and I did spend considerable time researching him, frankly he was one of a limited number of military officers that JFK appears to have appreciated because of his ability to think outside the box. Unfortunately that sort of ability often is not received well by those working inside the box and apparently by the early 60’s Lansdale fell afoul of the establishment in both the Agency and the Joint Chiefs – probably because of his positions on Vietnam. He was relegated to a staff position in counter insurgency and eased out pretty quickly due to hitting retirement age at his rank and position. A gentle RIF..

      I’m afraid in the end both Lansdale and Taylor would have fallen short of JFK’s hopes but of course that never played out. Still, if anything I would put him on a short list of senior officers that JFK and RFK would have trusted and the military establishment was very wary of…just as they were the whole “switchback” program for covert ops.

  5. Dear Larry—Just cannot resist asking….re: someone would have talked….right, Geraldo Rivera–this is one individual I have always thought had a lot to talk about regarding the whole entire JFK thing.

    Yes, as a news person and also being fired from 20/20–wasn’t he let go from that position because he was going to come out with something that went against Jackie Kennedy.

    You see this is a main problem with the whole JFK thing–people cannot talk without retribution–even today, in this day and age with freedom of speech and all of that.

    I can’t believe he was canceled, of all people from a JFK panel. This is an individual, who I have always thought really had something to say on JFK–even just as an anchor or someone involved with the news.

    I, myself, have e-mailed him and asked him to come forward with what information he knows. It does take a major news person to come forward–he could be a very large influence. Of all the people to be let go from a conference–because he sent a picture of himself with a towel–who cares…..

    Let go for this little tiny nothing incident after all we hear about the antics and misbehaviors of JFK and RFK. I can’t believe it and I guess you could say I am outraged.

    I feel lucky we have access to someone with your knowledge and I am anxious and hoping you will have a comment to make on this subject.

    Just as a side note, Geraldo has said in recent years that he thinks it is LHO operating as a single individual in the assassination of JFK and that there is no other significant evidence to go against it. This is from the info I tried to look up about Geraldo from a couple of years ago–regardless of his position then or now, I would love to hear what Geraldo has to say on the subject. I have always thought that!

    What a ridiculous loss of knowledge and information to cancel this long time media person from this important event.

    Chloe Louise——-outraged in San Diego

    Larry–thank you for your time and giving people a place to speak.

    • In regard to Geraldo, as well as a lot of the other more contemporary news folks of that era, I’m afraid they either do not understand or for some reason are unable to deal with two basic issues of the crime.

      The first is their lack of consideration that the crime itself might have involved an intentional framing of Oswald. Unless you enter that in your calculus of examining the original evidence you are simply open to being played by the nature of the evidence itself. We know that neither the FBI, DPD or WC actively considered that option, they simply accepted the evidence for what it was…playing right into the hands of any conspiracy in play. All of those accepting the evidence as conclusive should at least give a disclaimer that they have failed to consider that alternative.

      The second issue is far more complex and involves an extensive understanding of not only the evidence but the evolving nature of the investigation. I doubt that Geraldo even knows that the FBI considered the inquiry focused on Oswald alone inside 24 hours and their investigation complete inside 48 when the focus again shifted – to writing a report on his guilt. That sort of timeline as well as the extensive evidence that any serious investigation of leads or evidence pointing towards conspiracy began to be closed off by Sunday should trigger the instincts of any investigative reporter – but of course they will never know that unless they read a limited number of relative esoteric conspiracy books, which they clearly have not.

      I’d love to set down with him or a few other true investigative reporters…not media commentators….and get their reaction to the true issues in the case, relating not only to the evidence but the investigation, that I’m sure they actually do not know.

      — Larry

  6. Winston says:

    Great idea Larry on concentrating on what happened to the major players AFTER the assassination.I’m not sure anyone has ever done that really? Not in a detailed way anyway. Of course, from reading various sources, including SWHT, I get the impression there is still a number of the Cuban exiles who were involved still tucked away down in Miami, knowing hat they did and still being proud of it. ‘Ruth Ann’ to my knowledge is one of them. Alive and kicking in Florida the last time I did any real research. I I think she went into property development or real estate afterwards. Guess that’s maybe where a cut of any goodies went…..Her alleged boyfriend, Juan Manuel Salvat is also still around in the Miami area from what I’ve heard. That’s the other thing. It would be interesting imo to see if the alleged conspirators came into money immediately afterwards or suddenly started having a much more lavish lifestyle than they did before…

  7. Winston Smith says:

    Sorry, something went wrong in posting my last post and I can’t delete it so reposting:

    Great idea Larry on concentrating on what happened to the major players AFTER the assassination.I’m not sure anyone has ever done that really? Not in a detailed way anyway. Of course, from reading various sources, including SWHT, I get the impression there is still a number of the Cuban exiles who were involved still tucked away down in Miami, knowing hat they did and still being proud of it. ‘Ruth Ann’ to my knowledge is one of them. Alive and kicking in Florida the last time I did any real research. I I think she went into property development or real estate afterwards. Guess that’s maybe where a cut of any goodies went…..Her alleged boyfriend, Juan Manuel Salvat is also still around in the Miami area from what I’ve heard. That’s the other thing. It would be interesting imo to see if the alleged conspirators came into money immediately afterwards or suddenly started having a much more lavish lifestyle than they did before…

  8. Winston Smith says:

    Re: the RT doc, I caught some of it, the bit with Veciana and the Phillips footage. The Veciana stuff looked pretty recent as he was looking very elderly but I was wondering where the footage of Phillips came from as couldn’t see the credits at the end. It’s obviously old – perhaps from the time of the HSCA hearings as he would be around the right age frm his appearance. I just wasn’t aware he had ever given any press interviews about Cuba etc so am puzzled to where/when this was filmed. Do you (or anyone else) have any ideas? Thanks.

    • Winston, my guess is that it is from the time of the HSCA hearings, Phillips did do a real media outreach at that point in time and gave several newspaper and magazine interviews. Interestingly enough he was even floating the idea for a TV series on the CIA, sort of like the earlier FBI series. That was probably his most public period.

      I have the same impression you do as to the exiles in Miami – but it also appears that Mr. Shackley shared our suspicions. He ordered a very specific investigation of the exiles following the assassination (and lied about it later, saying that was all the job of the WC). Supposedly he was very interested in who might have been traveling a lot just before the assassination, who was spending money, lots of really good questions. He delegated the inquiry, reports were made and that was the last anyone ever heard of it….always good to know what your real exposure is I suppose. As I mentioned in SWHT, I think that Vidal’s virtual suicide mission into Cuba within months may be telling. But another angle on all this is to look at the 12-24 months after the assassination and see which individuals were
      still associated with whom and if any splits had occurred. Personally I feel those who were involved did it for their own version of patriotism/revenge so money might not be a very good lead, but “bonding” certainly might reveal something interesting. Killing an American president could create a really substantial bond. It could also mean that somebody has to stay behind and be very visible to serve as a sort of trip wire….perhaps someone not personally involved but would could stand watch for anyone who comes sniffing around. Which of course reminds one of a certain detective agency guy who was so very helpful to Jim Garrison when his investigators showed up in Miami.

    • Mark Groubert says:

      I didn’t see the credits either but I agree. Seems like recent footage of the Cubans and the Phillips stuff around 1978, but there sure was a lot of Phillips footage I had never seen before and that’s what caught my eye. Also Schlesinger and Goodwin was in the early 2000s in Cuba I think.

  9. Winston Smith says:

    Thanks for the info on Shackley, Larry – I didn’t know of that. Do you think he was involved in the planning of the assassination? I thought Nagell implicated him (although my memory could be wrong), but if he was, why would he then order an investigation into the exiles? Also, I have found this documentary on the CIA which has footage from the HSCA Hearings and also Phillips. It might be what was used in the RT documentary. I don’t know if you have seen it but the whole documentary is here:
    It’s called ‘On Company Business’ and is from 1980. I would make a copy, in case it ‘disappears’ as this stuff sometimes does.

    • Winston, thanks very much for finding and locating the document link…I’m still thinking Phillips might have been pursuing his TV series idea at that point.

      As to Shackley, my recollection of Nagell’s remark was more that Shackley would know a good deal about some of the folks involved, which I relive to be true. I don’t see him involved himself but I do see his remarks, along with Morales’s being used to agitate the guys who did start the conspiracy. Afterwards I imagine that Shackley, just as Phillips quickly figured out that some of his people had been involved and the first thing he wanted to know was to what extent they might be exposed. Its much like the Garrison investigation when the Agencies first response was to investigate everybody they had contact with in the New Orleans area. In Shackley’s case I imagine it was especially effective because he would have turned up anyone likely to talk or speculate – exposing them to be neutralized – but also at that point they would figure they had done their duty and not take it anywhere else. By the time they saw what was really coming down with the inquiry they would be smart enough to know the fix was in and keep their mouths shut.

  10. Winston Smith says:

    No problem. If I find any more interesting docs, I will paste the links here. Funny to think of Phillips pushing a tv series but then again he was originally an actor wasn’t he? Right to the end in my view. Thx for the info on Shackley. Yes, I guess that does make sense. Do you really think though that Phillips was not involved per se in the actual conspiracy?

    • Yes indeed Phillips was an actor, he even continued amateur theatrics in Cuba while working undercover. As to his involvement, I think what is virtually certain, as I detailed in NEXUS and as Simpich is elaborating in much greater detail in his soon to be published work, is that Phillips was very much involved in a variety of counter espionage activities going on in and around Oswald. He certainly knew Oswald was not a lone nut and he had great reason to suspect an intel officer conspiracy as soon as the assassination occurred…which he admitted in his final remarks. As to his own direct involvement in Dallas, I’ve come to doubt it and part of that reason is that later he actually directed media folks to Morales and Morales got so mad he protested to the Agency and wanted Phillips disciplined. The documents on that are available. If the two had been in a presidential assassination conspiracy together I just don’t see that happening.

      Of course given what Phillips did know about Oswald, and what he and a number of folks knew about the Oswald impersonation calls in Dallas, became dynamite right after the assassination. Phillips could certainly have been charged with obstruction of justice, and a number of other things. Just as with Shackley, I think they immediately and intuitively had a very good idea of what had happened, but I don’t seen their involvement as necessary. In fact to some extent the entire Mexico City CIA staff was set up for the fall unless they kept their mouths shut…at least the counter intelligence side of the house. All in all I think the conspiracy was quite well planned and included a series of poison pills that worked quite well..unfortunately…

  11. James Stubbs says:

    Larry, it’s off the topic of Bishop, but in re Lansdale you might read Prelude To Tragedy if you get a chance. It gives a very different slant on Lansdale than you’re likely to see among assassination researchers. The book highlights at the grass roots level the differences in perception about Viet Nam between Lansdale and the field workers in the rural development program there, and the U.S. Mission. State and CIA had no use for Lansdale. JFK did, but L. got brushed off by the insiders close to JFK. I think JFK had Lansdale in mind for our continuing, low intensity, low manpower involvment in ‘Nam, circa ’62-’63.

    • Jim, that is a great point and actually I have read the book….if you really dig into Lansdale as that book does you see why he was so compatible with JFK’s low intensity views. As I mention in NEXUS, JFK wanted him in a major position in Saigon but the CIA, the Chiefs and McNamara all rebelled against that. Lansadale’s last activity was a counter insurgency tour of Latin America for the Joint Chiefs. Tragically the next guy to fill that position and to make that sort of tour was David Morales – the difference in the two men led to Condor rather than what Lansdale would have recommended.

      Since thoroughly studying Lansdale I’ve long maintained that if he was in Dallas he was there in a preventive rather than a conspiratorial mode. Its clear now that both JFK and RFK knew there was a treat from the exiles and Lansdale may have been one of the few people they could turn to in order to penetrate it. Having said that I have qualms about the ID in any event but picturing Lansdale in a conspiracy against JFK is, in my opinion, really off the mark.

      • James Stubbs says:

        I agree about the photo that some believe was Lansdale in Dealey Plaza. I believe it was one of the city or county detectives (can’t pull the name up off the top of my head). I actually heard some interesting stuff about Lansdale from a political science professor that I had in college. He and LansdaLe were old “buds” from SE Asia days. We talked a lot about counterinsurgency doctrine. Interesting man.

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