26 April 1996 with Steve Bochan
[Interview focuses on the Silvia Odio
The following conversation with Gaeton Fonzi took place in Fonzi's home
Miami, Florida on 4/26/96. Present were Gaeton Fonzi, G Winslow
Steve Bochan. Speakers are designated as follows: GF = Gaeton
GW = G Winslow; SB = Steve Bochan, and some editing took place to
and/or eliminate repetition.
No questions or answers were discussed ahead of time and the interview
place as a casual conversation.
SB: Out of curiosity, and for the benefit of the people who haven't
your book, THE LAST INVESTIGATION, can you describe how you became
before the HSCA investigation, in the JFK assassination?
GF: Yes, I wrote about it in the book. I was working for Philadelphia
at the time and Arlen Specter happened to be a Philadelphian.
Salandria was a local lawyer who wrote an article in The Legal
about the Warren Commission Report, specifically about the shots and
and the head hit, which was the area in which Arlen Specter work. I
thinking that Salandria has to be some crackpot, telling everybody that
Warren Commission Report might be wrong. So I decided to an
for Philadelphia Magazine about this crackpot lawyer who said the
Commission might be wrong. And that's how I got involved.
I interviewed Salandria and studied the Warren Commission Report I
convinced that Salandria wasn't a crackpot and, then, after
and questioning Arlen Specter, I also became convinced that the Warren
Report was in fact, not the truth.
SB: What was it, in particular about Arlen Specter, that you ...
GF: His inability to explain the single bullet theory.
SB: I think he admitted to you, you mention it in the book I think,
there were some problems with it, or words to that effect, didn't he?
GF: They had some problems with explaining how come there was a hole in
back of his jacket and shirt, about 6 inches down from the collar...
[On page 27 of THE LAST INVESTIGATION, Fonzi's encounter with Arlen
is described as follows:]
The photographs of the shirt worn by the President shows a hole in the
consistent with the one in the jacket, about five-and-three-quarter
below the top of the collar and one-and-one-eighth inches to the right
the middle. The discrepancy is obvious.
The locations of both these holes are inconsistent with the wound below
back of the right ear described in the Commission's autopsy report.
I'll never forget asking Specter about that as I sat in his City Hall
in Philadelphia. (It was about a year after he had returned from his
Commission job; he had recently been elected District Attorney.)
"Well," he said, "that difference is accounted for because the
is waving his arm." He got up from his desk and attempted to
his explanation on me, pulling my arm up high over my head. "Wave
arm a few times," he said, "wave at the crowd." He was standing
me now, jabbing a finger into the base of my neck. "Well, see, if
bullet goes in here, the jacket gets hunched up. If you take this
right here and then you strip the coat down, it comes out at a lower
A lower point?
"Well, not too much lower on your example, but the jacket rides up."
If the jacket were "hunched up," I asked, wouldn't there have been two
as a result of the doubling over of the cloth?
"No, not necessarily. It ... it wouldn't be doubled over.
you sit in the car it could be doubled over at most any point, but the
are that ... aaah ... that it gets ... that ... aaah ... this ... this
about the way the jacket rides up. You sit back ... sit back now
all right now ... if ... usually, as your jacket lies there, the
is right up here, but if ... but if you have a bullet hit you right
here, which is where I had it, where your jacket sits ... it's not ...
ordinarily doesn't crease that far back."
What about the shirt?
Was Specter saying there was no inconsistency between the Commission's
of the wound and the holes in the clothing?
"No, not at all. That gave us a lot of concern. First time
lined up the shirt ... after all, we lined up the shirt ... and the
in the shirt is right about, right about the knot of the tie, came
about here in the slit in the front ... "
But where did it go in the back?
"Well, the back hole, when the shirt is laid down, comes ... aah ...
I forget exactly where it came, but it certainly wasn't higher, enough
to ... aah ... understand the ... aah ... the angle of decline which
Was it lower? Was it lower than the slit in the front?
"Well, I think that ... that if you took the shirt without allowing for
being pulled up, that it would either have been in line or somewhat
"Perhaps. I ... I don't want to say because I don't really
I got to take a look at that shirt."
SB: Supposedly that was the so-called "hunched up" jacket and "hunched
shirt theory ...
GF: Yeah, so that's what got me interested, really.
I did a few articles for Philadelphia Magazine on the Kennedy
The first one of course was on Arlen Specter.
And then when I moved down here, a friend of mine - a reporter -
had stopped in to see a friend of his who was Schweiker's
assistant. Schweiker was on the Church Committee at the time and
convinced Church to set up a subcommittee on the Kennedy assassination,
Schweiker headed. (Gary Hart was co-chairman but he didn't take
interest in it.) And my friend and Schweiker's assistant started
about Schweiker's interest in the Kennedy assassination and the fact
he was getting more interested in the relationship between the CIA and
anti-Castro Cubans, while the Church Committee investigators were
on the pro-Castro angle.
Being that Schweiker's anti-Castro interest effort was focused on
my friend Greg said, "Well, Gaeton's in Miami," and as a result of that
got a call from Schweiker's man, Dave Newhall, a former Philadelphia
whom I had known. Newhall called me said he had a few things to
out in the Miami area and would I have the time to check them out.
I said, "Sure, how long will it take?" and he said, "just a couple of
SB: A couple of weeks?
GF: A couple of weeks turned into three years.
SB: One of the devices you use to both open and close the book which
very powerful, I thought, and probably very powerful for those of us
have been to Dealey Plaza, was your description of your emotions when
went there. You stood in the middle of Elm Street and became
with what happened there and, you wrote, "Right here ... is where a man
... A man's life ended."
That's very dramatic and anyone who has been to Dealey Plaza knows that
and I thought it was both moving and effective to begin and end the
Is that also what finally made you determined to go into this, after
went there and stood in the middle of Elm Street, contemplating the
of that crime?
GF: Well, no. I wrote that in the context of having worked with
Committee. I went to Dealey Plaza back in the '60s when I first
the article for Philadelphia Magazine, and I really didn't have a full
of the whole Kennedy assassination at that point. But it was
a very moving thing to see.
But what really got to me is when I got there, and after having worked
the Committee, having been in Washington, and having been involved in
much of this bureaucratic charade, as it were, and then coming to
Plaza and it made me think, 'My God what are we doing? What have
been doing in Washington playing with all these documents and
And here they were getting ready to turn out a report that was going to
the American people that we did a thorough and complete investigation
I knew that wasn't the case.
It just made me realize that they forgot the basic point here that a
was killed. A man was killed ...
SB: Some of your critics on the Internet and on CompuServe are very
to point out that you came into the investigation already determined to
a conspiracy. In other words, they'll say, 'Well you know, Gaeton Fonzi
really an objective investigator - he had already made up his mind that
was a conspiracy,' etc. A counter argument, of course, is that
himself was already determined to bring the Mafia into the
and of course, Earl Warren was determined to blame it all on Lee Harvey
How would you react to that criticism that you had already made up your
with regard to there being a conspiracy in the JFK assassination?
GF: It's true. I had already made up my mind years ago as a
of the investigation and as a result of the work I had already done on
Kennedy assassination. Especially as a result of the interviews
Arlen Specter; that the single bullet theory didn't hold water.
once that conclusion is reached, there is a conspiracy.
But, as an investigator involving areas that really had nothing to do
whether or not there was a conspiracy - because we certainly wouldn't
been conducting the investigation on the basis (like the Warren
did) that Oswald alone did it. But as long as you don't angle your
or deliberately attempt to manipulate your questioning or narrow your
it's really is irrelevant when you are interviewing people and when
digging up information.
The other point is that I had nothing to do with controlling the
of the investigation: I mean that was Blakey's job. And even at
point, I don't think the question of conspiracy or non-conspiracy is
here. If we were going to accept the Warren Commission Report as
final word, there would have been no need for an investigation.
SB: Do you keep in contact with Blakey; do you talk to him ever?
GF: (laughter) No, I haven't talked to ah, Bob Blakey ...
SB: Did you part on good terms?
GF: Yeah, basically I like the guy. You know, we just have a
of opinion I guess, when it comes to whether or not the investigation
a full and complete investigation as the report claims it was.
I don't have any personal animosity towards Blakey or anything.
SB: Getting into Silvia Odio, in the book, you relate how disappointed
were that they didn't ask her to testify, but, who's ultimate decision
that - was that Blakey who decided that the time was running out, the
was running out, etc.? It almost sounded like the Warren
Rankin saying that they were supposed to be closing doors, not opening
GF: Yeah, it was Blakey's decision to spend the time in the public
on organized crime. Now he will say, 'but, we put everything on
record,' and that's true. But the impact that would have had on
American public, I think, would have been tremendous. And it was
decision to limit the public hearings to those areas that he wanted to
SB: How did Silvia Odio react to that? I remember you described
gaining trust and confidence in you, the time that that took to do
and so forth, and then when she was finally ready ...
GF: Oh, yeah, she was terribly disillusioned, and bitter. I mean,
she really had to psyche herself up into coming forward. Jim
and I spent a long afternoon convincing her that this is what she
should do; that the American people should know her story directly from
for the first time. And on the basis of her trusting us, she
'okay, I'll do it,' but she really didn't want to do it; she was a very
person to begin with; she had arranged to take off work and her husband
to take off work because she needed his support; and then all of a
the rug is pulled out from under her. She was terribly
SB: Were you the one who had to tell her that it wasn't going to happen?
GF: Oh yeah.
SB: That had to have been difficult, especially after working with her,
GW: Why didn't they let her testify?
GF: Because they were going to continue the hearings; they cut out the
element of the public hearings. She did testify, you know, took a
But this involved the public hearings which was the public's perception
what the Committee was doing.
SB: She made a remark to you, and you used it in the book, and she also
it back in '64, I believe, that the American people 'don't really want
know, that they don't really want to know the truth,' or words to that
What do you think she meant by that?
GF: I think from her own experience, how she felt used. She was
approached by the FBI, and then by the Warren Commission and then by
House Assassination Committee, and all they kept telling her basically
she was a liar. And she was totally disgusted with the whole
to her testimony. She didn't come forward, initially. She
have never come forward. It was only as a result of Connell's telling
FBI about it...
Here, according to the transcript of my interview with her, has this
made public, by the way?
SB: The thing about Liebeler? Yes.
GF: (Reading from his transcript:)
She wonders why, after she was questioned by the FBI, they waited so
to call her back. It wasn't until the middle of the summer that
came to Dallas to question her.
She asked how candid she could be with me and I said I wished she would
totally candid. She said she could say something but she's afraid
could get in trouble because it would be only her word, although she
swear to it. She said she hasn't told this to anyone except a Mr.
Phillips who came to talk to her about putting her on Dan Rather's CBS
special television show. She refused to go on that show but she
talk to Phillips. She said she told part of this story to
but has never mentioned it to anyone else.
She said that after Liebeler questioned her for the second time that
(the first interrogation started at 9 a.m.; the second at 6:30 p.m.) he
her out to dinner. "That surprised me, but I was afraid and I
We didn't go out alone. We went out with someone who was supposed
be Marina Oswald's lawyer. I don't remember his name, but Mr.
from CBS knew. We went to the Sheraton to eat dinner. I thought
there was something behind it and there was a kind of double talk at
table between the lawyer and him. I wasn't sure they wanted me to
the conversation or they wanted to convince me of something or wanted
to volunteer something. He (Liebeler) kept threatening me with a
detector test also, even though he knew I was under tremendous stress
the time. But one thing he said, and this has always bothered me,
said this to this other gentleman, I don't remember his name, he said,
you know if we do find out that this is a conspiracy you know that we
orders from Chief Justice Warren to cover this thing up.' (I
Liebeler said that?) "Yes, sir, I could swear on that." At
time, she said she thought that maybe it was a bait for her because she
the feeling that they thought she was hiding something more, that she
involved with other Cuban groups perhaps or that she knew more than she
saying. "That was the feeling that I got by the time that they
me to dinner, that maybe if I had a few drinks and the conversation
very casual, I would go ahead and volunteer information that he thought
was hiding. I wasn't hiding anything. But what he said
me. I remember I had a Bloody Mary and thinking to myself, 'My
I'm not that drunk.' I had one Bloody Mary and that's all I was
If it was for my sake that he was saying that, or if it was a little
they were playing with me, I don't know. That's when I said to
'Silvia, the time has come for you to keep quiet. They don't want
know the truth.'"
"But that made me angry. Not only that, he invited me to his room
to see some pictures. I did go, I went to his room. I
to see how far a government investigator would go and what they were
to do to a witness. Of course nothing happened because I was
in my right senses. He showed me pictures, he made advances, yes,
I told him he was crazy. He even mentioned that they had seen my
and that they even joked about it at the Warren Commission, saying
like what a pretty girl you are going to see, Jim, and things like
To me that was all so, I don't know, anti-professional. I wasn't
to this sort of thing and I was expecting the highest respect, you
and I wasn't expecting any jokes in the investigation of the
of a president. So that's why I'm telling you why my feelings
because I saw something I wasn't expecting to see. I wanted to
someone who was carrying on an investigation who was serious about it
somehow I had the feeling it was a game to them and that I was being
in this game."
SB: You make that point in the book, too, that she has not profited
this experience; she has not gone out on the lecture circuit; she
wants nothing to do with it. And that probably increased her
in your mind, didn't it? I mean, what was it about her that convinced
that she was a credible person?
GF: It was nothing about her. It was just what she said and the
of what she said by other people. I don't think anyone can really
anybody's credibility by how they feel about them. Lord knows
been fooled many, many times. My life as an investigative
basically, has allowed me to meet some of the nicest con men in the
I mean, you would never believe some of the things that they might have
So you don't judge people when you're doing this kind of an
by how you feel about them - you have to judge them by what they say
whether or not the basic elements of what they say can be corroborated
SB: You talked to Lucille Connell?
GF: It's pronounced "Kin-nell."
SB: She told a story that was basically at variance with what Silvia
said. She basically mentioned a story, as did Einspruch
of Odio attending several anti-Castro meetings with Oswald present and
Odio had told her this. Did she mention this to you as well?
GF: What Connell told me when I asked her about that was that she
remember telling the FBI that.
(Referring to his typed transcripts:)
Reading from my notes on my interview with Lucille Connell, she was
me about how the FBI first came to her. This is how the Silvia
business first came out because Silvia herself had no intention of
anyone about it. But of course, her sister Sarita knew about it
well as her younger sister Annie Odio.
So, Lucille Connell tells me, 'and I was talking to another Cuban, the
of a Mr. Insua, who is head of the Cuban Relief Committee there in
... ah, no, first I talked to Silvia's sister myself who said that
said that she knew Oswald, she called to tell me that Silvia has been
to a hospital when she heard that Kennedy was shot and that Oswald was
She fell unconscious at her desk and that was the first spell she had
quite a long time.'
'Now I didn't intend to report anything to the FBI. And it came
quite accidentally. I was speaking on the telephone with a friend
mine, who is a secretary in a law office (Pick). We had both had
television on and I saw Ruby shoot Oswald. And she said, "Oh my
Ruby was in our office last week and had power of attorney drawn for
I asked her what the name of the law office was and the name of her
and she said she gave all that to the FBI. She said, 'I'd just as
not get involved.'
I tell her: 'I don't have that report, but I suppose I could get it.'
She said, 'I was rather surprised that they didn't seem to mention it,
as I thought that was rather pertinent information. Ruby had never had
of attorney drawn for his sister before.'
'Later that evening, I was talking to Mr. Insua's daughter, her name
Marcella. But she's married now, and Mr. Insua is dead. And
told her what my friend had said about Ruby. That evening, she
Spanish to some American children, and in her class was the son of one
the FBI of Dallas. The son went home and told his father, and his
called her (Connell) and she was quite upset as she had given it as an
He called the teacher, rather, I'm sorry.' (This is Connell
'She had given it as an example to translate into Spanish. So she
me and asked me if she could tell the FBI when she got home, where she
'I said of course.'
'So, in about a half an hour, the FBI was knocking on my door.
were two men and I told them everything I told you.'
She had another comment on the FBI. She said, 'Frankly, I was not
with these two FBI investigators. They were rather new on the
I think. They were not very smart, in my opinion, and I did more
of them than they did of me. They made no notes at the time, so
they wrote down after they left, I'm not sure would be 100% correct.'
SB: Interesting. So, let's see if I've got this right. She
a friend who works in a law firm in Dallas, who said that Ruby came in
a week before killing Oswald to draw up a document, a legal document,
give power of attorney to his sister. That about sum it up?
SB: And the FBI had this?
GF: That's what she told the FBI.
SB: If what she is saying is true, that the FBI took no notes, this is
they're saying Connell said ...
GF: By the way, this is how, when she was talking to the FBI, she
brought up the Odio story. The FBI, according to her, didn't
her about Odio at all. They approached her about Ruby.
this is what she had told her friend, the school teacher. This is
to Lucille, right.
SB: And the FBI supposedly has the name of her friend?
GF: Yeah ...
SB: This is the way WC Investigator Griffin wrote to WC attorney David
after interviewing C. L. Connell, on Monday, April 13, 1964. And,
according to this memo which never directly quotes Connell, Griffin
that Connell reported to him that Odio told her that she had seen
at several anti-Castro rallies.
As I say, he never directly quotes Connell as saying that, but, do you
how far apart that is from what you've just told me?
GF: Yeah. Well, Odio denied that also to the FBI. There's
FBI report, I have it here and I'm reading it now, where she
denied ever having told Mrs. Connell that Lee Harvey Oswald ever made
to small groups of Cuban refugees in Dallas.
SB: The point that I like to make on this, is that first of all, if
ever happened, there has been no witness that has ever come forward
saw Odio and Oswald present at ANY anti-Castro rallies - and you would
there would have been somebody that would have seen it. There's
a shred of evidence to prove that and I almost thought at one time that
was a red herring put out there, but by whom?
Dr. Einspruch thought, at least according to WC Investigator Griffin
that he had heard Silvia tell him that she had known Oswald and that
had seen Oswald at several anti-Castro rallies, but then of course by
time you interviewed Dr. Einspruch, that wasn't the case. So I
there seems to be a red herring and I'm just trying to figure out who
that red herring out there.
GF: Yeah, that's true. There's so much conflicting evidence there
yet people who supposedly provided this information, denied that they
You know, so, somehow this gets into the FBI reports. Now how
it get in there - that's a good question.
SB: This bothers me because of course, in the La Fontaine book, they
jumped on this, on this confusion, this red herring, and they're
that 'of course Odio is fabricating this whole thing,' 'of course Odio
Oswald at these anti-Castro rallies,' 'that was an outburst made by
otherwise how could both Connell and Einspruch have relayed the same
unless Odio had really said that?'
And it is an interesting argument to make until you say, well okay,
the proof of these so-called anti-Castro rallies where both Odio and
were present? Who saw them at these meetings? Where's the proof?
Of course there is none.
And yet the La Fontaines use this in their book in Chapter 9, "It Takes
Woman to Know," as a concrete example of Odio telling these lies to
and Einspruch. And it just tends to confuse things even
But they use this to support their theory that Odio had fabricated the
Oswald episode about visiting her at her front door ... what she really
was that she had known Oswald all along.
Any reaction to that, to they're using this confusion to bolster their
GF: Well, I think it's exactly what you're saying: they're using
it to make their point. But to me, they're building strawmen to
down. And I don't know why they're doing it. The whole
this doesn't make any sense. And the whole implication that the
assassination came off as a result of the DRE being upset because
pulled back support for their new invasion, just a couple weeks before
assassination, and all of a sudden the assassination comes off with
a couple of weeks of planning? I really have to re-read the book,
because it's not very clearly written; it's loaded I believe, with a
GW: "Gordo" Salvat?
GF: Yeah, that's the point of the book.
GW: That the DRE killed Kennedy?
SB: That, and the gun-running operation that they and Silvia Odio were
involved with, yeah, and Odio knows more about the plot than she's
GF: And Odio's real affiliation is with the DRE, they say, and not with
GW: (laughs) I haven't bought the book yet. I'll probably
until it goes on discount, now... (laughter)
The DRE, ha! The only one on the payroll there was Gordo Salvat.
GF: Funny, how they used all these big fat guys like Hemming, El Gordo,
involved with the assassination ... if they were all on the grassy
GW: They were on the grassy knoll. (laughter)
SB: We're getting a little off track, here. (more laughter)
I'm going to read you page 28 of Dr. Einspruch's sworn deposition where
and, I believe it's Jim McDonald, am I right?
SB: Okay, where you two deposed Dr. Einspruch and this tends to blow
whole theory of Oswald and Odio attending several anti-Castro meetings
out of the water.
Q. Did you think that Angelo who came to her door was Oswald?
Or was it your feeling or thinking then that perhaps this was something
A. No. I don't think it was something that she had just casually
But I retained just my own, you know, personal doubt, like I would even
this moment, that a mistake could have been made with a one time kind
experience that she had with him under those circumstances.
Now if she had said that she had seen him a couple of times, then I
feel stronger about it.
SB: That tends to blow that whole thing right out of the water.
SB: He had doubts who Silvia really saw was Oswald because that was the
time she ever saw him - so how could she have seen him at several
GF: Yeah. Einspruch was an important confirmation of Silvia's
Because Einspruch confirmed that she had told him about the visit of
men to her apartment before the assassination. And to me, that's
valid evidence from an exceptionally credible source.
And of course, Annie Odio confirmed the visit.
So we have the visit. Now what the La Fontaines are trying to say
that the visit never took place, is that right?
SB: Yes, that she's confusing it with a previous visit ...
GF: With Cisneros? But Cisneros' visit was back in June.
GF: So, Silvia is making a six month leap here?
GF: To me, it's a disservice to the research community. It really
to raise these kind of strawmen issues. And why? For the sake of
SB: What was your impression of Dr. Einspruch, basically, when you
him in '78?
GF: Well basically, as I said, from what he was saying, he was
He hadn't seen Odio in years. In fact, we had a telephone
between them, a three-way conversation actually, with Odio and
before we took the deposition, and they had not spoken with each other
13 years. Both Jim McDonald and I listened to the conversation,
the consent and knowledge of both parties I might mention, (laughter)
questioned Einspruch briefly during the course of the conversation.
SB: Initially of course, he was very supportive of her truthfulness and
and then toward the end of the deposition, he started talking of "fish
and "perhaps the story has grown in time," etc. There almost
that on the one hand, he's vouching for her credibility and supporting
truthfulness all along, and then on the other hand, he seems to be
"well ... maybe things didn't exactly happen that way, maybe the story
grown in time," -- what was your reaction to that?
GF: Well, I think you've just got to go to the basic, the basic point
whether or not three men visited her before the assassination, and
or not that was confirmed by him. The elements of her story, I
are something else again, you know, was it or was it not Oswald?
know, to me, it's irrelevant whether it was Oswald or not.
If just three men had visited her and none of them resembled Oswald,
none of them was introduced to her as Oswald, and that fact was
by her sister Annie who was there, well then it would be a different
But, she said one of them looked like Oswald; Annie Odio testified that
she first saw Oswald - before she talked to Silvia that day - on
she said, "I've seen that guy before, I've seen that guy before."
It was bothering her until she walked into Silvia's hospital room and
Silvia: "Silvia, I've seen that guy before," and Silvia said, "Well
you remember, he came to our house?"
And that's when Annie Odio said, "Yes, that was him."
So, you know, in order to dismiss Silvia Odio, we have to talk about a
conspiracy between Silvia and her sister, her other sister Sarita,
Connell and Einspruch, all working together to manufacture this story
Oswald being there.
SB: One of the objections, too, that people who support Posner and the
version use against Odio is, that there is no corroboration for the
call, that allegedly took place the next day or two after the visit to
apartment. We only have Silvia's word on that. How do you
to that; is that a legitimate criticism to raise? I mean, I don't
how you corroborate a phone call unless you're listening-in or
GF: Yeah. I don't know whether it's relevant, either.
or not she received the telephone call, whether that is relevant.
in fact, someone who was identified to her as Leon Oswald was confirmed
her sister, did visit her, to me it's not an important piece of
SB: Did the La Fontaines contact you when they were writing their book?
GF: Yeah, Mary La Fontaine had called me up a number of times, but it
over the last couple of years I guess, about a number of different
SB: Yes, they write flattering things about you in earlier parts of the
... talking about your wittiness
GF: I think they're good investigators, I did, I think they're good
as far as newspaper work goes. And they did uncover, I think, a
of really interesting information ...
SB: Did they want to talk to you about Odio when they spoke to you?
GF: I don't remember specifically having any lengthy conversations
Silvia Odio, but, I might have, I don't recall.
SB: In retrospect now, after all this time, have you kept in contact at
with Silvia Odio? Do you ever talk to her?
GF: Yes for specific reasons I've contacted her.
SB: How is she doing?
GF: She's been ill recently, but she's fine now, I believe.
SB: I wonder if she'd have a reaction to the La Fontaine's book, the
they portrayed her?
GF: I haven't asked her about it. But I probably will.
SB: Apparently Mary La Fontaine called her and talked to her while she
in the Washington Area, but they basically just include that in a
at the back of the book as a reference to part of the chapter.
Any comment at all on what was going on between Father MacChann and the
between Connell and Odio, and a lot of that of course in '63, people
talk about such things, but, did you, in your investigation deal with
of that, the rivalry between Connell and Odio? And what was your
GF: Well my take was that there was a close relationship between Odio
MacChann and between Connell and MacChann, and that was the basis of
bitterness toward Silvia.
MacChann had a lot of problems, so ...
MacChann was quite a ladies man, from what I gather.
SB: Yeah, they describe him in the book as, back in those days, as
star handsome, a 29 year old very desirable man, that the ladies were
throwing themselves at his feet. And, a, Connell at that time was
her fifties, Odio was only 26 and very beautiful woman, and Silvia had
Mary La Fontaine that THAT was the reason for the falling-out between
two former friends, as they were both very interested in MacChann's
GF: I don't remember what Connell told me, she talks about Father
she said he had personal problems himself that 'I tried to get him
SB: He eventually left the priesthood, didn't he?
GF: I believe so. Yes, she says, 'after a few months of that,
MacChann disappeared. Ironically, I ran into him in a supermarket
New Orleans. He had left the church. I heard he was working
a mental health association. Last I heard, he had moved to
SB: This is Connell?
GF: Connell told me that in '77-'78.
SB: Wow, I wonder what Connell was doing in New Orleans...
GF: Yeah. (laughing)
SB: In your opinion then, you haven't changed one iota on Silvia
You still believe she's credible, you still believe her story.
GF: It's not a matter of my believing it, I think it's a matter of the
The fact that there were three men who showed up at her door before the
and that one of them was introduced to her as Oswald. And that's
most important thing: BEFORE THE ASSASSINATION.
SB: Yes, I believe in your book, you state that based on Silvia Odio
you're convinced that there was a conspiracy.
GF: Sure. Because the opposite of that is the Warren Commission
of Oswald as a lone nut. Without any associations, without being
in any kind of strategic, pre-assassination misinformation ploys ...
SB: Let's talk about Maurice Bishop. We have our doubters on
as you know ...
GF: I really don't keep up with it, you know. Every once in
I go in there and check my mail. After spending time working on a
in front of a computer most of the day, the last place I want to be ...
SB: I understand. A lot of people want to know if there is
that you've found since the investigation, that convinces you even more
of the identity of Maurice Bishop?
GF: Yes, as a matter of fact, I was just down in Cuba in January
on a piece for Esquire, on Castro assassination attempts, and spent
time with General Escalante, the former Chief of Counter-Intelligence
former head of State Security. I was given a guided tour, as it
of some of the places that were involved in Castro assassination
including Veciana's - the one that Veciana organized in October of '61.
From his files, it took place in a building from across the North Plaza
the old palace. That apartment was used as a CIA safe house, it
before Veciana's mother-in-law leased it. And, Phillips was seen
in and out of it. He provided a number of other confirmations of
as David Atlee Phillips, and Phillips as Bishop.
GF: There's no doubt in the Cuban Intelligence records that Bishop is
SB: Interesting, even in interviewing someone you named "Ron Cross," at
he corroborated that, didn't he? Am I mis-phrasing it?
GF: Yeah, he said basically that he remembered Phillips using the name
Interesting point about that because, after my article came out and I
using "Ron Cross" to cover-up Crosier's name, Phillips went on
and I think he gave a press interview to someone. And he said
you couldn't believe what this fellow Crosier had said because he had
a drunk, an alcoholic, which he admitted to us and I include that in
But I found it interesting that Phillips revealed his real name.
In violation, I would think, of CIA protocol at least.
SB: Wasn't McCone's initial reaction was that he was also familiar ...
then he quickly changed his story?
GF: Yeah, a couple of the investigators had interviewed McCone and he
he remembered "Bishop" being used by one of the CIA people, and then
Committee got a letter from the CIA liaison saying that they had
McCone's statement, and that he said that he was mistaken.
SB: Do you think it's possible that Veciana was wrong about the date,
he relayed the story to you about meeting Bishop in Dallas and seeing
talking to Oswald? Could he have actually seen them in October?
GF: Rather than September?
GF: No, Veciana wasn't specific, wasn't definite, in his recollection,
what I recall now. I just don't recall him being very specific ...
But again, when you're dealing with FBI records and reports, you're
with potential conflicting evidence at times. I know in the
with the Agency's contacts with Veciana himself, there were conflicts
SB: Another bone of contention between the conspiracy set and the
set is that you believe Veciana, a convicted drug trafficker. The
fall-back position of those who believe in the "official version" of
assassination on places like CompuServe is, that, why should we believe
Veciana says? Is that fair?
GF: When you say Veciana was in jail for drug trafficking, you
have an image of Veciana as a sinister drug dealer.
I've reviewed the case - that particular case. Veciana had never
any other association with drugs. No drugs were found in his
He was convicted on the testimony of a former business partner in
Rico. And an associate of his business partner - strictly -
And, the details of the case, it wasn't even Veciana's car - it was a
car. The details of the case, seemed to confirm Veciana's
that he was set-up. But Veciana, it's difficult to believe
being involved in any kind of drug trafficking, given his own
SB: How did you reconcile, in your own mind, when you had the
in Reston at that luncheon, with Veciana meeting face to face with
Atlee Phillips? That Veciana basically could not identify
as Maurice Bishop?
GF: WOULD NOT identify him.
SB: Okay, pardon me, that he would not identify Phillips as Bishop?
GF: At the time I was terribly confused, because I sat there for quite
long period of time watching him and watching Phillips shaking,
shaking, avoiding Veciana's eyes while Veciana was staring at him from
the table. Phillips was re-lighting cigarettes, and then the
in the hallway, where he was a terribly shaken man, so much so to the
that when we asked him didn't he remember Veciana's name, he said 'no.'
In fact, he asked Veciana again, 'what did you say your name was?'
'Veciana. You don't know me?'
And he said, 'no.'
Now the fact that Phillips himself, obviously had to explain that later
his testimony before the committee: how could the head of the CIA's
operations not know the head of the largest anti-Castro organization?
How could he not know the name of the head of that organization?
Phillips testified, before the Committee, under sworn testimony, that
was not introduced to Veciana by name. When in fact, Veciana
was there and, later, when I checked with him after Phillips testified
asked him, Do you remember when I introduced you to Phillips by
and he said, 'oh sure, you remember I asked him don't you know me, my
And I was there and another Schweiker assistant was there. So we
corroboration that Phillips was lying.
But Phillips had to cover up his gut reaction to Veciana being there
why he denied knowing his name - he was so shaken by the sudden
It was an interesting experience, and at the end of it, walking out of
I was confused, and I asked Veciana, "Isn't he Bishop?"
And Veciana didn't answer right away, didn't say "no," instead, he
said, "He knows."
I remember walking back to the car, during this discussion, repeating,
knows? What do you mean, 'he knows'?"
And I said, "He knows WHAT?"
I asked, "You mean he knows who Bishop is?"
And he said, "yeah."
So it was a very interesting experience, and at the time I was
until I figured it out.
SB: And naturally, that's what some people who don't believe you, jump
that Veciana didn't identify Phillips as Bishop outright.
GF: Yeah, and another interesting thing, before the Reston incident, we
up a photo of Phillips that had appeared in a magazine somewhere, and
took Veciana down to the library to look at this photograph of
I remember him just staring at it, for a long, long time, and turning
page and turning back, and I was involved with someone else looking up
else with another Veciana associate who had told us about Oswald being
in a photograph in some magazine standing along the parade route or
which we could never find, but while I was doing this I kept looking
at the table where Veciana was and saw Veciana just staring at this
of Phillips, although all he kept telling me was "It's close."
You know you would think that if it wasn't in fact Bishop, Veciana
said, 'no this isn't him,' and he would've moved right on. But he
at that picture for a long, long time.
SB: You know, that whole Mexico City thing, another interesting
what is your take on them never officially being able to come up with a
of Oswald down there going in and out of the Cuban Consulate and Soviet
explaining that the cameras weren't working, and so forth?
GF: The whole Mexico City thing, to me, still remains a puzzle.
of the major issues is, well, if the CIA had a photograph of Oswald
into the Cuban or Soviet embassies while he was down there, wouldn't
think they'd want to produce them, quickly, right away for the Warren
GF: And yet, it's hard to believe that no photos were taken, I mean
talking about what, how many instances and possibilities where he
into and out of an embassy, 10? 5?
How many entrances were there, and how many times combined, did he walk
and out of there, the Cuban and Russian embassies? 10?
And yet not one photograph turns up.
The whole Mexico City area is an area that needs a lot more work.
SB: Did you read John Newman's book, OSWALD AND THE CIA ?
SB: What did you think about the way he handled the Mexico City
He came up with a couple of new things in the Mexico City episode.
GF: Yeah. But I just don't have enough personal investigative
in that area to draw any kind of permanent conclusion about it, and I
really delved into Mexico City, as much as much I would like.
SB: Did Ed Lopez work for you?
GF: No. Ed was a researcher on team three, and I worked, being
of the investigators stationed outside headquarters, as it were.
of the investigators were assigned to specific teams. Because my
down here in Miami involved anti-Castro Cubans, pro-Castro Cubans, and
CIA - all were all very active down here - so I worked with the CIA
and the anti-Castro team. Eddie was a researcher on the anti-Castro
and I worked with him, as well as researchers on other teams based in
SB: If I remember right, one of his basic contentions was that Oswald
being impersonated in Mexico City. I wonder if it ever occurred
him that Oswald may have been impersonated *WHILE* he was in Mexico
Did he ever have any conversations with you about that?
GF: He might have, I don't recall the specifics of it though.
SB: That's the issue that John Newman raises. Another interesting
that came out was that Win Scott apparently played a tape of Oswald to
attorney Slawson in April or May of 1964 - yet - the CIA has always
that those tapes are routinely destroyed after 6-12 days. How
this be if Scott played this taped intercept of Oswald *MONTHS* after
allegedly were made? What in the world are they hiding about
City - I mean, if Oswald is this lone nut, why all the games and
versions of what happened in Mexico City?
GF: Yeah one of the questions also, the fact that the tape -
much confirmed by not only Slawson but also by Coleman, I believe --
SB: Yes, you're right.
GF: ... and I think Tony Summers also talked to a CIA man who also
that these tapes do exist, and also photos, for Slawson and
And yet, as late as the mid '70s, when the Assassination Committee was
getting going, when Dick Sprague was still the Chief Counsel and
Phillips testified under oath, that the tapes had been destroyed within
I can't figure out why Phillips, who had to have known that the tapes
not destroyed, why he testified under oath that the tapes had in fact
destroyed, as late as the mid '70s. Unless, it's the fact that
to Congressional Committees means absolutely nothing to the CIA.
SB: Well, it didn't seem to mean anything to Helms, right?
GW: He wasn't convicted of that! (laughter)
SB: You're right, I keep forgetting that.
Some final few questions for you from some of the people on
One of the posters who just finished reading your book wanted to know
in the intervening years, you had discovered or learned anything more
that strange person, David Morales.
GF: Yeah, what intrigues me most about him is how he's buried almost
out there in Arizona under a tombstone that says, "Sgt. David
And yet he was obviously a very, very important and eventually high
officer in the Agency.
I think Morales needs a lot more looking into, his background and his
and his involvement with David Phillips. We discovered, for
that he was involved with Phillips in the Chilean operation - the
He came away with a lot of money.
GW: Do you have that address he lived at in Coral Gables?
GF: Yeah, it's right here ... (laughter)
SB: Isn't that how you got into his book Gordon, by asking Shackley
he was visiting down here in Miami, about Morales?
GW: It wasn't a leading question, either. I didn't ask him if he
who David Morales was or anything - I asked him who was your 2nd in
at JM/WAVE? And he said, "David Morales."
SB: Any final thoughts?
GF: What bothers me about this whole area is the layer upon layer of
piled on top of each other. Part of the Committee's basic failure
to not conduct a real investigation. But at this point, I think
only way to conduct a real investigation of the Kennedy assassination
by taking an arbitrary approach. What Blakey wanted to do was
as many bases as possible, so that if someone were to say, 'well,
you look into this?' he could say, "yes, we looked into that, and we
into that," when instead he should have said, "Nah, we didn't look into
that's bullshit, it would have been a waste of our time, effort, money
I think you have to make arbitrary decisions to do an effective
today. You really have to make arbitrary decisions and in making
decisions you have to err on the side of what could likely be bullshit,
you'll never be sure about - but you have to go after those
But if you eliminate the bullshit areas, I think it's still possible to
an authentic investigation.
Or else you're going to end up with an investigation, as Sprague
that's unending in terms of funding, and in time.
And at the time that Sprague was there - we're talking 20 years ago -
would have still been possible. But now, 20 years has gone by,
two decades of crap being piled on what all the previous crap.
GW: Could this be done in the private sector? Does the government
to be involved?
GF: Ahhh, that's a good question. Can the government conduct an
investigation of the government?
GW: No, I mean can a group of private citizens do this without the
of subpoena? Can they do that? Is it possible?
GF: Maybe you could do it - how would you do it? "You VILL TELL
ZE TRUTH!" How would you do it? (laughter)
GW: Well, yes, you could say, "We have some questions and - accidents
happen, you know." (laughter)
How important was the Garrison investigation?
GF: Well, something was happening in New Orleans.
SB: Didn't it scare you or shock you when you went to talk to de
and he ended up blowing his own head off before you could question
I mean didn't you think to yourself, 'oh....shit.'
GF: Yeah, especially the way I heard about it - I heard about it by way
GW: Why is it everybody you go to see, winds up dead? (laughter) It
like that was happening ....
GF: It was! Yes, let's see there's Artime, Prio, Pawley, de
SB: Do you think we're ever going to know the answers?
GF: I think we already know the answers. We just don't know the
SB: Thank you for your time and kindness by putting up with us today.
GF: You're welcome. Anytime.
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