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Our Man in Mexico: Winston Scott and the Hidden History of the CIA Paperback – March 11, 2008
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From the Back Cover
"Every decade or so, a talented writer provides a genuinely new glimpse into the CIA's shadowy history. Morley's account of legendary spymaster Winston Scott chronicles a life led in secret, stretching from the agency's founding through Scott's tenure as station chief in Mexico City. Morley tells this story with literary energy and an eye for the dark moments when intelligence stops making sense."--Thomas Powers, author of The Man Who Kept the Secrets: Richard Helms and the CIA
"Here is a rare thing, a biography of a C.I.A. chief that neither dodges shameful truths nor throws gratuitous mud. Packed, to boot, with genuine revelations about the crime of the century--the assassination of President Kennedy. A tour-de-force!"--Anthony Summers, author of Not in Your Lifetime
Top Customer Reviews
Building his story by telling exactly who did what and when, this author has achieved an authentic history of the period through the assassination of President Kennedy and afterward. The CIA's contacts with Oswald in the weeks before the shooting in Dallas,
and the subsequent stonewalling, withholding and even destruction of information are all spelled out so the reader is aware of what pieces of history are still hidden.
The review above says it all. The book is on one level, the personnal history of the search of a son (adopted, it turns out..) for his mysterious, elusive father.
The fact that the father in question happenned to be Win Scot, head of the CIA Mexico station in the Sixties (the biggest CIA operation targeted at Soviet and Cuban interest outside the US) when Oswald, according to the official story, popped up there and started making himself noticed just a few weeks before Dallas, transforms what would be a mere personnal quest into something of historical importance.
Author Morley is known, appropriately, for his groundbreaking work bringing to light most notably the very strange story of George Joannides' s dealing with the DRE. Morley's work definitely showed how the CIA, deceptively, put Joannides in charge of contacts with the HSCA regarding Cuban matters, without ever mentioning his previous responsabilities as Focal Officer for the DRE during the latter part of November 63...
Students of JFK's assassination may remember that the DRE was very heavily involved in the early attempts to paint Oswald as a Communist Pro-Castro assassin, participating in a conspiracy.
Joannides's field reports on the DRE activities for the relevant period are still missing, and are the subject of a FOIA lawsuit by Morley....
A few pieces are still missing, and we still have a few open questions, but the picture is now getting clearer and clearer:
*the official story of the assassination is a fairy tale
*the events in Mexico City (most notably how the station and HQ handled the visits of a known "intelligence risk" to ennemy embassies..)are crucial in understanding what took place
*the inner workings of the CIA (need-to-know, etc..), and most notably the total autonomy and secrecy of Angleton's group (CI)made feasible any type of obscure intelligence operation whithout the slightest possibility of outside control or supervision.
Great, great book.
I would recommand as a companion Peter Dale Scott "Oswald in Mexico", which is the ultimate post-mortem on Mexico.
If you never thought reading administrative cables could make for a riveting read, or draw the outline of the most-wanted "smoking gun", brace yourself...
As a key player notes, Scott's nature, actions (and inactions) only acquire true appreciation when evaluated in the context of those turbulent Cold War days. Mexico City was Ground Zero for North and South American espionage of key powers. For the US, it was our only look into Cuba. By the time Lee Oswald visited in Sept/Oct 1963, the Bay of Pigs and Cuban Missile Crisis were fresh and, in the case of the former, a black eye for the CIA. Scott's actions reporting on that visit, before and after Dallas, are troubling in their own regard. Morley conveys the ultimate "good soldier" who wanted to do his job splendidly but who acquiesced promptly to gag orders from his Langley superiors. Mr. Morley's account here makes a nice sidebar to Shenon's.
But there is so much more to Scott's story--which is also the story of a son wishing to know more about his enigmatic, accomplished father. The research is meticulous. A helpful "cast of characters" appears at the end. The sourcing is good. It must be very difficult to try to tell a life when by definition that life was led deliberately in deception, half-truth, innuendo. What's more, Scott's "memoir" is far from untroubled--and not even accessible in full.
Winston Scott was a good and loving father to his children and step-children. His marital life, though, was unenviable. So much to compartmentalize. It is good to read a biography of a deeply-flawed person who left indelible marks on history.