JFK: The Slow Uncovering of a Presidential Assassination
Gaeton Fonzi's first piece on the JFK assassination appeared in the November 1980 issue of Gold Coast.
"Don't you see it, boys? Don't you see it? There's only one outfit who could have pulled this off."
It has been 56 years, but you can still hear the gravelly voice of Vince Salandria in a motel room in Wildwood, New Jersey, telling Gaeton Fonzi and me that he was convinced the CIA had murdered President John F. Kennedy. The Warren Commission had been recently released, assuring us that Lee Harvey Oswald was a lone assassin. The report had been widely praised, but the problem was that those who praised it hadn't read it. They had just seen a summary. Almost nobody had taken the time to examine the 26 volumes of evidence supporting its conclusion.
Vince Salandria, a Philadelphia school board lawyer, had read the full report, and over the course of an hour he had pointed out the glaring inconsistencies which made it obvious that more than one shooter had been at work that day in Dallas. Salandria, a chronic mistruster of government, had sensed a CIA hit, especially when Oswald was crudely eliminated in a police station after proclaiming his innocence. This was long before researchers had found evidence that Oswald was an intelligence operative who had been set up to take the blame for the murder. The CIA connection has come out in bits and pieces over the decades — most recently last week — more on that later. And one of those researchers, and the man who uncovered the most damning connection to the CIA, was Gaeton Fonzi. He wrote some of the first articles challenging the Warren report for Philadelphia magazine.
He was no ordinary critic. Pennsylvania Senator Richard Schweiker, who recalled his stories in Philadelphia, hired him when he headed one of the committees that reopened the JFK probe in the mid-1970s. Schweiker shared Vince Salandria's view, describing Oswald as having "the fingerprints of intelligence all over him." He wanted Fonzi to look into the CIA's relationship to the anti-Castro movement in Florida and Oswald’s connections to that group.
Over several years Fonzi had access to government information that no other researchers enjoyed. It eventually led him to Antonio Veciana, who headed Alpha 66 — the most active Cuban American group trying to kill Castro. Before Veciana even learned what Fonzi's real mission was, he made the startling revelation that he had seen Oswald in the company of his CIA handler, a man who had risen to one of the high ranking jobs in the agency, shortly before the November 1963 hit on Kennedy.
Fonzi's 1993 book, The Last Investigation
Fonzi's magazine pieces ran over three issues in Gold Coast in 1980, and after considerable additional research, appeared in book form in 1993. The Last Investigation has undergone two reprints. In its 443 pages of text and nine pages of fine print footnotes, Fonzi revealed how the CIA operatives, both Cuban and American, sabotaged his work with false leads which wasted his time. Political figures friendly to the agency also impeded his committee's work, especially when it attempted to get cooperation from the CIA, and ultimately shut it down for lack of funding. But Fonzi realized that his anti-Castro contacts seemed to know stuff about Oswald and the assassination that they only hinted about. And most approved of Kennedy's murder as just retribution for his not using our military to save the disastrous 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion. Despite these obstacles, the committee’s final report, which was largely written by Fonzi, concluded that Kennedy’s death was not the work of a lone gunman, but a conspiracy. By whom was not included.
Which brings us to two weeks ago when the Miami Herald ran a story about Ricardo Morales, one of Veciana's allies in the Alpha 66 organization. He was mentioned in Fonzi's book. Morales’ son said his father told him and his brother late in his life that Oswald was one of the men he gave rifle sniper training to for the CIA. He did not think Oswald killed President Kennedy. He also said that two days before the assassination, his CIA handler sent him to Dallas to await a mission, and brought him back after the assassination. He thought he was part of a "clean-up" team in case they were needed. They were not. He also said he feared for his life because he knew too much about the CIA nefarious activities. That statement echoed what Veciana told Gaeton Fonzi in the 1970s when asked why he kept his explosive information quiet for more than 10 years. He said his goal was to eliminate Castro and did not want to alienate his CIA supporters. Also, he said if they murdered the President of the United States, why would they hesitate to silence him?
Ricardo Morales’ story would not have surprised Fonzi, who died in 2012. His book mentions others who told similar stories about going to Dallas for a mission they were never asked to perform.
The same Herald piece noted that President Biden recently joined a series of presidents to postpone declassifying the remaining 15,000 pages of documents pertaining to the assassination. According to the Herald, the stated reason: The need to protect "against identifiable harm to the military defense, intelligence operations, law enforcement, or the conduct of foreign relations that is of such gravity that it outweighs the public interest in immediate disclosure."
Isn't that some statement? Fifty-eight years after a president is murdered, revealing all the government knows about it will endanger national interests. That admission is that some government force that existed in 1963 is still operating. Those few — those dwindling few who have followed this case from the beginning — think that at the very least those documents will show Oswald's connection to the CIA and suggest decades of efforts by our government to conceal the fact that its lesser angels murdered a president.
Don't you see it, boys, don't you see it?