Friday, May 9, 2008

Win Scott and Empire

Libertarian blogger Jacob Hornberger picks up one key finding of "Our Man in Mexico:" that Win Scott had numerous top Mexican officials on the CIA payroll. 
In return, Mexican officials would look the other way as the CIA used Mexico as a base of operations to achieve regime change in Cuba entailing the ouster or assassination of Cuban president Fidel Castro.

Here, in a nutshell, is the essence — and the rot — of U.S. foreign policy: Make sure that “our” people are in public office in countries all around the world, either through bribery, influence, assassination, coups, military training, military aid, or foreign aid. Do favors for them. Give them money. Do whatever is necessary to ensure that such officials will respond positively when the U.S. Empire needs a favor.
Whether covert action is "the essence" of U.S. foreign policy is debatable. It is rotten in that it undermines U.S. interests from within. It certainly did so in Mexico during Win Scott's tenure as station chief. 

Your can read Hornberger's entire post here.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

In an interview with Ken Silverstein of Harper's I addressed a question I hear a lot in barrooms and book parties : So who killed JFK? 

 I told Ken,

"I decided early on I could not solve JFK's assassination but would try to do something more modest and achievable: to describe what the events of 1963 looked like through the eyes of a trusted top CIA official. And they looked very suspicious, which is to say conspiratorial."

In my own view, there was merit to Scott's fears. He saw the JFK case from the inside. If Oswald had ever come to trial, he would have been a material witness. He knew counterintelligence techniques and he knew the use of agents. He went to his grave believing and saying that Oswald was someone's agent. There is no proof of that, of course, but as the book details somebody--maybe his good friend Jim Angleton--cut him out of the loop on the latest intelligence reporting on Oswald. six weeks before Kennedy was killed. 

Some people say there's nothing suspicious in the newly declassified  CIA paper trail, that the transmission of information about Oswald before Kennedy was killed was "routine." I agree. The paper trial is consistent with Oswald being an agent in  a routine counterintelligence operation that went awry on November 22. 

Read the interview here.
Buy the book here.
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Friday, March 21, 2008

Wall Street Journal: Morley "brilliantly explores" CIA reticence around JFK's assassination.

Ed Epstein's welcome review in the Wall Street Journal highlights one theme that runs throughout the JFK assassination chapters in "Our Man in Mexico:" the CIA's odd reticence to investigate the possibility that the hated Fidel Castro was behind the murder of the American president.

While I don't credit Epstein's implication that Castro may have actually had a role in the assassination--in my view, it is a virtual historical certainty that he did not--he is right to pick up on this theme. Others have noted this reticence but this book, I believe, is the first to trace it to its sources: David Phillips, James Angleton, and Thomas Karamessines. 

In the review, entitled "What the Warren Commission May Have Missed," writes:
Jefferson Morley's "Our Man in Mexico" brilliantly explores the mystery of this reticence. Though Mr. Morley is a dogged investigative reporter, he has not discovered any jaw-dropping evidence that will change forever the way we think about the Kennedy assassination, but he uncovers enough new material, and theorizes with such verve, that "Our Man in Mexico" will go down as one of the more provocative titles in the ever-growing library of Kennedy-assassination studies.
Epstein also captures the personal side of the story. This isn't a book about conspiracies. This is the story of a man, a spy, a father, and a husband

The book . . . . is an enthralling account of Scott's career as one of America's most accomplished spy masters. Mr. Morley memorably depicts not only Scott's espionage exploits, from London in World War II to Mexico City at the height of the Cold War, but also his complicated love life and his ambitions as a poet.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

About "Our Man in Mexico"

This blog discusses my book "Our Man in Mexico: Winston Scott and the Hidden History of the CIA" which tells the story of the CIA's top spy in Mexico in the 1960s.

It is also the story of how Scott's son, Michael, a filmmaker in Los Angeles, spent decades trying to uncover the true story of his father's life.

In a larger sense it is about the rise of the Central Intelligence Agency as a force in the world, not as the CIA wishes the story to be told but rather what the first 25 years of the Agency looked like through the eyes of one of its most respected officers.

It contains a wealth of historical revelations about Soviet spy Kim Philby, about the CIA' s legendary counterintelligence chief James Jesus Angleton (who was good friends with Scott), about Scott's surveillance of accused presidential assassin Lee Harvey Oswald, about Scott's recruitment of three Mexican presidents as paid CIA agents, and about the Agency's efforts, largely successful, to suppress an unpublished memoir that Scott wrote about his brilliant career.