When you believe in things you don’t understand, you’re in trouble. That’s the case of former CIA analyst Dr. Brian Latell and his supporters. After five-years’ research , Dr. Latell asserts in his book Castro’s Secrets:
“I believe Florentino Aspillaga had it right: ‘Fidel knew’.”
Dr. Latell means Castro knew Lee Harvey Oswald “was going to shoot at Kennedy.” Therefore, “Castro lied” when he stated on Nov. 23, 1963, “we never in our life heard of him [Oswald],” and when he “issued a second critical denial” in his speech of Nov. 27, 1963.
For catching Castro in these two lies, Dr. Latell starts with a fabrication of his own: “While in Mexico City Oswald had tried to defect to Cuba so he could become a warrior for the bearded man he worshipped.” In the manuscript It Came to Little
in the National Archives and Records Administration, the chief of Mexico City’s CIA station, Win Scott, gave the account that Oswald visited the Cuban consulate for getting an in-transit visa to go on with his family from Cuba to the Soviet Union. That’s exactly the information rendered before the House Select Committee on Assassinations by the Cuban outgoing and incoming consuls, Eusebio Azcue and Alfredo Mirabal.
Let’s concede that Dr. Latell was misled; then he would be much obliged if his sources are subjected to a careful review.
According to Dr. Latell, the first reliable indication that Castro lied about Oswald came from Cuban intelligence officer Vladimir Rodriguez (codenamed AMMUG by the CIA). He defected in 1964 and told his CIA handler that Castro had lied because “before, during and after” Oswald’s visits to the Cuban consulate “he was in contact” with the Castro intelligence.
Dr. Latell writes: “It is not clear that any of this incriminating information from a proven and trusted source was shared with the Warren Commission that investigated Kennedy’s murder.” On the contrary, it’s very clear that AMMUG simply didn’t know what he was talking about. He was debriefed again by the CIA for clarification, and the conclusion appears in a memo from March 8, 1964. The source “does not claim to have any significant information concerning the assassination of President Kennedy or about the activities of Oswald.”
Dr. Latell resorts to “another reliable source,” the FBI super spy Jack Childs, who met with Castro in Havana in May 1964, but Dr. Latell changes the story: “Castro received the information about Oswald’s appearances at the Cuban consulate, because he was told about it ‘immediately (…) by his embassy personnel, who dealt with Oswald, and apparently made a full, detailed report.’ That Castro had publicly lied about that went unnoticed by American government specialists.”
What actually must not go unnoticed by anyone is Childs’ report in Part 63, pages 58-59 of the so-called SOLO files at the FBI Vault. The quote put forward by Dr. Latell reads thus: “Castro was told about it immediately (…) Castro stated that when Oswald was refused his visa at the Cuban Embassy in Mexico City, he acted like a madman and started yelling and shouting on his way out, ‘I’m going to kill this bastard. I’m going to kill Kennedy ‘ (…) Castro was neither engaging in dramatics nor oratory but was speaking on the basis of facts given to him by his embassy personnel, who dealt with Oswald, and apparently had made a full, detailed report to Castro after President Kennedy was assassinated.”
Dr. Latell keeps on going beyond wishful thinking by twisting Alfredo Mirabal’s testimony before the House Select Committee on Assassinations as “another confirmation of Fidel’s deceptions,” because this Cuban consul would have admitted, “in an oddly unguarded moment,” he had prepared “a report on Oswald for his headquarters.” Mirabal just testified about “my report” in connection with his consular duty of sending to the Foreign Ministry in Havana the in-transit visa application filed by Oswald on Sept. 27, 1963.
Last, but not least, Dr. Latell peals Aspillaga´s bell: “Castro knew in advance that Oswald would shoot at Kennedy.” But Aspillaga only referred to an order he got on Nov. 22, 1963, to redirect his antennas away from Miami and Langley and to listen “to any small detail from Texas.” It’s not a quantum of proof, but an argument flawed by the classic non-sequitur fallacy. The order could be explained by Castro’s appetite for information about every Kennedy move or word in Texas, after his speech in Miami on Nov. 18, 1963, in which he dismissed Castro’s political group as “a small band of conspirators [that] has stripped the Cuban people of their freedom and handed over the independence and sovereignty of the Cuban nation to forces beyond the hemisphere.”
Castro couldn’t have known in advance that Oswald would be in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963, just because he had shouted “I’m going to kill Kennedy” at the Cuban Embassy in Mexico City on Sept. 27, 1963. On Oct. 2, 1963, the FBI Field Office in New Orleans sent warnings to Dallas, Forth Worth, and even Malvern (Ark.) in order to ascertain Oswald’s whereabouts. He was commuting from Dallas to Irving, where his wife stayed with some friends (the Paine family). Oswald was hired by pure chance at the Texas School Book Depository on Oct 15, 1963, and the presidential motorcade route was detailed on Nov. 19, 1963, in The Dallas Time Herald. Neither Dr. Latell nor God has a clue about a Castro-Oswald connection after the latter re-entered the United States. on Oct. 2, 1963.
Dr. Latell boasts about Aspillaga giving his information to the CIA when he defected in 1987, and keeping the secret until he repeated it for Dr. Latell’s book. If it’s so, Dr. Latell must have given a full explanation of why the CIA didn’t come forward with Aspillaga to the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB), gathered from 1992 to 1998 around the fireworks made by Oliver Stone with his film JFK
By coming up with an anecdote à la carte for Dr. Latell 24 years later, Aspillaga left Dr. Latell without a single valid argument to justify Castro’s foreknowledge about Oswald. Dr. Latell only can cling to the unconvincing maxim attributed to the early Christian apologist Tertullian (160 – 225 AD): “I believe because it is absurd.” BRIAN LATELL RESPONDS:
At least the writer concedes the central conclusion of my article: that Castro lied when he denied prior knowledge of Oswald. My point that Oswald wanted to go to Cuba — and stay there — was supported by the Warren Commission in its report that said Oswald most likely “intended to remain in Cuba.” The writer is correct, of course, that Oswald had earlier defected to the USSR and also tried to get a visa to go back., but Cuba was Oswald’s passion and destination in 1963. He even tried to get his pregnant wife to help him hijack a plane to get there. re the defector Rodriguez (AMMUG)
: The declassified CIA report states: “the only possible fabrication known by source was the specific denial [by Castro] . . . of any knowledge of Oswald.” This source did know what he was talking about. It is elaborately explained in the book. I do not argue that the source had any personal knowledge of Oswald or the assassination of JFK, only that he knew Castro to have lied. re Jack Childs and the FBI:
It is true that J. Edgar Hoover “never properly shared with the Warren Commission” what Childs had learned from Fidel about Oswald . Hoover’s memo to the commission was evasive and incomplete and submitted so late in the proceedings that top staffers, and the CIA director at the time, later had no memory of it. Hoover seems to have intentionally trivialized the report. And, as I explain in the book and the article The Herald published, a contemporaneous report from the FBI’s New York office substantially expanded on and authenticated Childs’ story. But it was not shared by Hoover with the Warren Commission. re. Mirabal (Cuban intelligence officer in Mexico City) testimony:
He told the congressional committee that he filed a report to his superiors in Havana. That is on the record and indisputable. I quote him accurately. This discovery of mine — Mirabal contradicted what Fidel had solemnly claimed — has been particularly offensive to the Cuban leadership.