Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Southland Center Revisted w/ New Witness?

Southland Center Revisited
By Bill Kelly

A New Witness Steps Forward

It was a moment in time - a typically forgotten brief interlude while passing through doors and hallways into the lobby concourse of a large hotel and office complex where five people cross paths and come together for a few brief seconds.

Some of them smile, politely acknowledge one another and were about to pass silently like ships in the night when one stops and asks - "where is there a place you can get a cup of coffee?"

Woosh! - drop down a rabbit's hole, hit the floor and Poof! - out through the looking glass, back to reality and 50 years of real, mainly forgetful life.

Then it comes back like a reawakened spirit to haunt history, as other pieces of the puzzle fall into place and that short moment in time gains significance - possibly historical significance, or maybe none at all.

The meeting in the lobby of the Southland Center in Dallas, Texas between CIA spy master David Atlee Phillips, anti- Castro Cuban terrorist Antonio Veciana and accused presidential assassin Lee Harvey Oswald is a well worn tale (1) but now told with a new twist.

A new witness has come foreword who says he was there with a teenage girl who answered the question of where to get a cup of coffee. (2)

[ See: ]

Is this guy for real?

Jeff Morley at JFKFacts gave the guy Wynne Johnson a listen and then passed, calling him "Mr. Flim," as in flimsy (3), so I'll give it a go and at least try to determine if this is a flim-flam or a real deal.

Since I've been to the Southland Center story before, I'll go back down  alley with this guy and apply the same standards the CIA uses in determining the veracity of Walk-in defectors - do they provide new, verifiable information and does it lead to new witnesses, subjects and places? (4)

If not (possibly like James Files and Judith Baker), it may be a case of someone inserting themselves into events or exaggerating their roles.

Unfortunately, and enhancing this possibility, it appears this new witness - Wynne Johnson is familiar with the published literature,  though we probably would not have heard of him if he wasn't.

For the record, there are other witnesses like this who have only reluctantly come forward - such as the kid in the Dallas Police locker room toilet and what he overheard. (5)

As for the Southland Center story, it first came to light in 1976 when both Gaeton Fonzi and Dick Russell heard it from Veciana.

Dick Russell met Antonio Veviana in 1976 and thus first heard the earliest version of the Southland Center lobby story. (6)

Dick Russell (On the Trail of the JFK Assassins - p. 149):

"I'm response to the terrorist raids, the Justice Department restricted a number of Cuban exiles to Dade County in the Spring of 1963. But that summer, Veciana's meetings with Bishop resumed. In August, Bishop had him fly to Dallas.'"

"'When I arrived there,' says Veciana, 'Bishop had given me the address to a building, a bank or insurance company. Bishop was waiting there with a young guy, an American, and the three of us walked to a cafeteria. The young guy did not say a word. He was very quiet, very strange. When I take a cup of coffee , Bishop says to him: 'I'll meet you in two or three hours.' Bishop and I then talked about the movement and our plans, but not when this guy was there. This was Lee Oswald. I didn't know until November when I saw his picture. But this means Oswald was working with Bishop."

Veciana gave further details to Congressional investigator Gaeton Fonzi, who was actually the first to get the story.  (7)

Gaeton Fonzi in the Washingtonian article - The Historical Imperatives (Nov. 1980, p 176) wrote:

"Veciana said he met Oswald with Maurice Bishop in Dallas sometime near the beginning of September 1963."

"There, in a modest green house in Little Havana, almost thirteen years after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the reality of what I was involved in struck me. The killing of President Kennedy was no longer a series of lingering TV images, bold black headlines, thick stacks of documents, books and files. It was something that had actually happened, and there were living people with direct strings through time to that moment. As much as the substance of the information itself, it was the absolutely coincidental way it came up that stunned me. First impressions are inherently circumstantial, but I had no doubt then - and have none now - that Veciana was telling the truth."

"The details are what make the case."

(p. 180) :

"Initially, Antonio Veciana recalled that it was late in August or early September of 1963 when Bishop asked to meet him in Dallas. Later, after reflection, he said it was probably in early September, perhaps toward the end of the first week of the month."

"It was not the first time that Bishop had asked Veciana to meet him in Dallas. He had met him there a few times previously. Partially because of that, Veciana had come to suspect that Bishop was from Dallas or had family there....In my very first interview with Veciana said, 'I think that maybe Bishop is from Texas.'"

"The meeting that Veciana recalls with Bishop early in September of 1963 took place in the busy lobby of a large downtown office building. From Veviana's description of its destinctive blue-tile facade, it probably was the Southland Center, a 42-story office complex. Veciana says that when he arrived, he saw Bishop in the corner of the lobby talking with a young man whom Veciana remembers as pale, slight, and soft- featured. He does not recall if Bishop introduced him by name but does recall that Bishop continued his conversation with the young man only briefly after Veciana arrived. Together Bishop and the young man walked out of the lobby and stopped outside, behind Veciana, for a moment. Bishop and the young man had a few words there, and then the latter gestured a fairwell and walked away. Bishop then turned to Veciana and they discussed the current activities of Alpha 66 as they walked to a nearby coffee shop. Bishop never spoke about the young man, and Veciana didn't ask."

"On the day that Kennedy was assassinated. Veciana recognized the news and photographs and television images of Lee Harvey Oswald as that of the young man he had seen with Maurice Bishop in Dallas; there was no doubt in his mind."

The new witness also says that when he and the girl recognized Oswald as one of the men they had encountered in the Southland Center lobby a few months earlier, their parents ordered them robe quiet about it - so there were four other people - their parents, who knew about the Southland Center meeting with the accused assassin on the day of the assassination.  (8)

So the new witness tells a simple story that fits into the general scheme of things and he is aware of those schemes as he at some point became aware of the significance of the Southland Center Lobby story.

He also gives an exact date for the incident - Saturday September 7 - which when aligned with the Oswald Chronology indicates Oswald could have been there. Oswald was out of work, collecting unemployment compensation and spending his time on Cuban related shenanigans with the DRE and FPCC before going to Mexico City, where DAP was responsible for monitoring the Cubans and the FPCC.  (9)

So it isn't such a stretch to believe that the chief CIA officer responsible for covert Cuban operations would meet privately with Oswald after his arrest with DRE and before he goes to Mexico City, and the leader of Alpha 66, one of the principe Anti-Castro terrorist groups attacking Cuba. (10)

While Veciama flew in from Florida Oswald could have arrived by bus or train from New Orleans and returned the same day.

Records indicate Oswald cashed checks in New Orleans on the day before September 6th and on the 8th, the following day, so Oswald could have been in Dallas on the 7th. (11)

Oswald's chronology for August and early September indicates he was actively engaged in Cuban related activities including DRE and FPCC -  both of interest to DAP.  (12)

Veciana too was engaged in anti-Castro activities on a more violent level with Alpha 66 - one of the most active terrorist groups violently attacking Cuba. (13)

On September 9, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported: "Castro Blasts Raids on Cuba; Says U.S. leaders' Imperiled by Aid to Rebels." (14)

At the same time David Atlee Philips was meeting with Tony Veciana and Oswald in Dallas, Castro was publicly and loudly complaining about Veciana's terrorist  attacks on Cuba and CIA attempts to kill him.

"Havana (AP). Prime Minister Fidel Castro said Saturday night 'United States leaders would be in danger if they helped in any attempt to do away with leaders in Cuba. Bitterly denouncing what he called U.S.-prompted raids on Cuban territory, Castro said, 'We are prepared to fight them and answer in kind. United States leaders should think that if they are aiding terrorists' plans to eliminate Cuban leaders, they themselves will not be safe.'"

This is often cited as evidence of Castro's threat to kill American leaders if they threaten him.

So such a meeting between the CIA's chief covert Cuban officer and two of his Cuban affairs operatives at a critical moment in this skirmish  in the Cold War seems reasonable - but what does it have to do with the assassination that took place a mile away two months later?

Was David Atlee Phillips Oswald's Case Officer, as he clearly was Veciana's control?

Consider they both lived in the same Fort Worth neighborhood for awhile, and Phillips book on Careers in Intelligence lists qualities that are necessary - fluency in foreign language, being quiet and able to listen, ability to get around and other attributes Oswald possessed. And Phillips notes that a college degree is not one of them as he himself never graduated with a college degree.

Oswald was also familiar with the Southland building as at the urging of George deMohrenschildt he applied for a job and was interviewed there by Sam Ballen (15)

[See: Ballen WC testimony].

That DAP would violate tradecraft and arrange to meet two different operatives at the same place around the same time could indicate DAP had other business there or near by. (16)

Veciana said he was given the address of a bank or insurance company.

There was a Bank - Republic Bank and related offices across the street and a run down of the companies in the Southland Center in 1963 includes a number of possibilities of places Phillips could have visited before or after meeting with Oswald and Veciana. (17)

Besides deMohrenschilts' pal Sam Ballen, who said his business was "money, banking, geology and petroleum engineering," there's the Mexican Consulate (527 - Ri8-6437) and Hallibueton (3211)

Then there's the private Chapparal Club, that took up the 36th floor, (18) and Robert Oswald's attorney William McKenzie (2808 - Ri8-7211)  who also represented Marina, and whose law partner (Henry Baer-Wynne, McKenzie, Jaffe, Tinsley represented Clint Murcheson.

The Southland's most visible tenant was the Dallas Sheraton Hotel (400 Ri8-6200).

Both George Bush and the Secret Service were registered at the Dallas Sheraton Hotel (400 Ri8-6200) on November 21-22, 1963. (20)

Possibly more significant is that is where on November 21,1963 the White House Security Agency (WHSA) set up a radio communications center and secure trunk lines that the president, Secret Service and other security personnel used when the president was in town.

So the place where DAP meets Antonio Veciana and Lee Harvey Oswald is also the address of the attorney who represented Robert and Marina Oswald before the Warren Commission, his office associate represents Clint Murcheson, the Mexican Consulate is an elevator ride away, the Chaparell Club is there, as is deOhrenschilts's friend Sam Ballen, who Oswald had previously visited, while the Secret Service checks in along with the White House Communications Agency (WHCA) who set up their Dallas Command Post as a base of operations.

If the story told by the new witness is true and the identity of the girl can be confirmed, as well as their parents, there are two new witnesses to the meeting and six people, including the parents, who knew about and talked about the Southland meeting on the day of the assassination.

This possible new witnesses also calls attention to the incident and its potential historical significance, and has revived interest in following up on the leads it provides.

In retrospect, there are other, similar places of interest where Veciana said he met David Atlee Phillips including a restaurant and office in Havana and offices in the Pan Am Bank in Miami, which deserve closer scrunity.

Notes: (BK: will update soon)

1- Fonzi, Gaeton. The Last Investigation
2- Johnson, Wynne video -
3- Morley, Jefferson - JFKFacts -
4- CIA Study
5- Mike Robinson - /
6- Russell, Dick - On the Trail of the Assassins
7- Fonzi, Gaeton
8- Johnson, Wynne
9- Oswald In New Orleans / Checks
10-Hancock, Larry - Someone Would Have Talked
12-Alpha 66
13-Oswald Chronology -
14- New Orleans Times-Pic (September 9, 1963)
15-Ballen, Sam - /
16-DAP - tradecraft
17- Southland Center Tenants
18- Chaparral Club- (1966)
19-Oswald, Robert - Lee
20-Baker, Russ - Family of Secrets
21- WHCA After Action Reports
22- Fonzi, Gaeton- Veciana
23- Pan Am Bank of Miami - / /

Republic Bank

Southland Center tenants 1963 (Provided by Robert Howard)

Ballen, Sam

Chapparal Club -

Oswald, Robert - Lee

McKenzie - (WCE 282 - XV1)

Dallas Sheraton - SS HQ, WHCA


LSchnapf said...

it is very suspicious to me that DAP would ask where there was a coffee shop. He clearly had to know given his familiarity with the building. this to me is the lie that shows the story is a fabrication. In addition, as an experience lawyer I find the his demeanor quite questionable. it didnt look like he was speaking from memory but reading from a script. Finally- what good ole boy speaks in terms of meters instead of feet? :)

James McDonald said...

I was NOT actually watching directly and I thought he was reading whereas I would not have necessarily called foul. But I did stop and look up from what I was doing at the time when I heard him talk about meters and not feet. It's actually just tmi for me personally as I have just started my own discovery about JFK while in the rabbit hole so I am not qualified to make any judgement one way or the other but perhaps he has a background that uses meters as part of his occupation.

wyjohnson0911 said...

The story is true, folks. Yes, I could have used feet or yards rather than meters. I decided to use meters. I was trying to give some idea of what I meant. I originally wrote something like, "When we came into the lobby, the men were a short distance away." But there would be those wanting to know what "a short distance" was.

See my Part 2:

Part 3:

wyjohnson0911 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
wyjohnson0911 said...

It does look suspicious that Phillips would ask where a coffee shop was. But I have told what happened, not what may seem likely. I have a theory about Phillips's question, but it is only a theory about what might have happened in the lobby just before Vicki and I came in. Oswald entered the lobby before we did with enough time for a very brief conversation with Phillips before we entered, and Phillips might have asked Oswald a few questions like how Oswald arrived and whether anybody saw Oswald. Oswald would have answered that he arrived by taxi and could have said that a couple of teenagers outside saw him, and that they might be coming into the building. Then, seeing us, Phillips would have wanted to know what we had seen and noticed. The coffee shop question would have been just an opener. This is just a theory, I repeat. I did not see or hear that very brief conversation between Phillips and Oswald before Vicki and I entered, but I know that it had to be very brief. This theory, however, does explain why Phillips asked that question, which in retrospect does not seem at all necessary except as a way to begin a conversation. As suspicious as it may be, however, or what anybody may thing about it, it happened.