Lee Harvey Oswald and David Atlee Phillips
Antonio Veciana’s confirmation that David Atlee Phillips was indeed the mysterious spymaster “Maurice Bishop” who met with Lee Harvey Oswald in Dallas in the summer of 1963 begs other questions, such as how they met and whether Phillips served as Oswald’s case officer and directed many of his activities in much the same way he directed Veciana’s anti-Castro efforts.
And if so, what are the consequences of that being true?
Did they know each other? For starters, consider the fact that both Phillips and Oswald lived for a time in Fort Worth, Texas, where Phillips was born and raised and where he lived until he went to college, and where Oswald lived with his mother and brothers through grammar school.
Beginning in 1945 the Oswald’s lived in Fort Worth, first on Granvury Road in Benbrook, where LHO attended Benbrook Elementry school. They then moved to Willing Street, San Saba Street in Benbrook and lastly on Ewing Street. In 1948 LHO’s half-brother John Pic entered the USMC Reserves and in 1950 enlisted in the Coast Guard. In 1952 Oswald’s brother Robert joined the USMC and afterwards, Oswald and his mother moved to New York City where they lived with the Pic family.
David Atlee Phillips attended college but didn’t graduate, and moved to Chile with his first wife, Helen Hausman Haasch, where he purchased the South Pacific Mail newspaper and in 1950, began working as a contract agent for the CIA. He became a full time agent in 1955.
Veciana says that he met Phillips in the lobby of the Southland Center in Dallas in the summer of 1963. He arrived for a meeting with Phillips fifteen minutes early and found Phillips talking with a young man he later identified as Oswald. Phillips and Oswald talked privately for awhile, and then they walked to a nearby coffee shop and Oswald departed, agreeing to meet again with Phillips later on.
Veciana attributed the slip up – of his seeing Phillips with Oswald was due to his being early, as well as sloppy tradecraft on the part of Phillips. “He made mistakes,” Veciana says.
At the time Oswald was living and working in New Orleans, but he his whereabouts are not always accounted for and he was known to travel widely, even though he didn’t drive or own a car, and primarily used public transportation.
Phillips was then responsible for the CIA’s Cuban operations being run out of Mexico City, and monitored the Cuban and Soviet embassies there, both places Oswald visited shortly after meeting with Phillips in Dallas.
While the other reporters on this story – Fonzi, Russell and Summers all developed new and important leads, I tried to take this line of inquiry a little further by focusing on and more closely examining the scene of this reported meeting – the lobby of the Southland Center in Dallas.
An outstanding location anchored by the Sheraton Hotel and insurance and bank company offices, Oswald had previously visited there when he applied for a job with Sam Ballen, a friend and associate of their mutual friend George deMohrenschildt. [See: Samuel B. Ballen WC testimony:
A review of Southland tenants in 1963 show that it was also the location of the law offices of Wynne, Jaffe and Tinsley, Wynne being Bedford Shelmire Wynne, whose brother Angus Wynne, Sr. (Wynne, McKenzie/McKennsie and Baer (Henry Baer) is closely affiliated with the Baylor Medical Center and original minority owner of the Dallas Cowboys (NFL) football team with Clint Murchison.
In the immediate aftermath of the assassination and murder of Oswald, the Secret Service put Marina Oswald and her daughters up at the Inn of the Six Flags (Great Southwest Corp. owned by Muchison) whose manager James Martin became Marina’s business manager. That arrangement lasted until January 1964 when Martin was fired and Wynne, McKennsie and Baer attorney William “Bill Mac” McKenzie was hired as attorney for both Marina and Oswald’s brother Robert. McKenzie represented both of the Oswalds before the Warren Commission.
Did David Atlee Phillips have other business in the Southland Center when he met Oswald and Veciana in the lobby?
Besides Oswald’s previous visit there to apply for a job with deMorhrenschildt’s friend Sam Ballen, and being the location of the law offices of the Oswald’s attorney, the Southland Center also had a private club – the Chaparral Club, a private 36th floor establishment where big businessmen met and mingled, and could have been a place where Phillips could have been prior to meeting with Veciana and Oswald in the lobby.
The coffee shop where Phillps and Veciana had their meeting may be the same coffee shop that Jack Ruby and Larry Crafard visited at three o’clock on the morning after the assassination, a hotel coffee shop where Ruby knew the owner. Were they meeting at the same hotel coffee shop?
Did Oswald and Phillips see eye to eye?
Consider the fact that they may have been from the same Fort Worth neighborhood, and that Oswald, as young as he was – fulfilled many of the peculiar traits Phillips listed in his book “Occupations in Intelligence” as qualities of a good agent – well traveled, ability to get around, multi-lingual, unobtrusive, well read, knowledge of foreign lands, education - ? Hell no, Phillips said, you don’t need a degree, as he – David Atlee Phillips never actually graduated from college, yet he rose to the rank of CIA Chief of the Western Hemisphere Division – the third ranking officer in the agency.
Oswald certainly fits the mold of the Covert Operative Personality Profile, and he certainly went into operational mode in the immediate aftermath of the assassination, but what does it mean if many of his activities were directed by the CIA’s David Atlee Phillips?
If Oswald was set up as the Patsy, does that mean that David Atlee Phillips and the CIA were also set up to be exposed as the false sponsors of the assassination?
Shortly before he died of cancer David Atlee Phillips, in a phone conversation, denied to me that he knew Oswald or was “Maurice Bishop,” and I now believe that he lied to me, he lied to me to protect himself and his family and his friends and associates, just as Veciana lied to protect his interests, and now wants to come clean to bare his soul and seek some sort of redemption.
David Atlee Phillips, in his unpublished The AMLASH Legacy manuscript wrote: “I was one of the two case officers who handled Lee Harvey Oswald. After working to establish his Marxist bona fides, we gave him the mission of killing Fidel Castro in
I helped him when he came to Cuba to obtain a visa, and when he returned to Mexico
City to wait for it I
saw him twice there. We rehearsed the plan many times: In Havana Oswald was to
assassinate Castro with a sniper's rifle from the upper floor window of a
building on the route where Castro often drove in an open jeep. Whether Oswald
was a double-agent or a psycho I'm not sure, and I don't know why he killed
Kennedy. But I do know he used precisely the plan we had devised against
Castro. Thus the Dallas CIA did not
anticipate the President's assassination but it was responsible for it. I share
I never really wanted to see justice done, or do to them what they did to JFK - I just wanted to figure it out and learn how and why they did it.
I thought it would be terrific if I could only figure it all out, and then track down the mastermind of Dealey Plaza and sit down next to him at the bar and share a drink and ask him why he did it.
Although talking with David Atlee Phillips on the phone was the closest I got to him, a Washington investigator I knew Kevin Walsh did get the opportunity to have a few drinks with him and pry some tidbits out of him.
In July 1986 Phillips told Walsh, "My private opinion is that JFK was done in by a conspiracy, likely including American intelligence officers."