Sunday, November 10, 2013

Frequently Asked Questions On the JFK Assassination (2): Oswald's Sheep-Dipping

What exactly is sheepdipping? Was Oswald sheepdipped, as I've heard some say?

'Sheep-dipping' is a code word employed by the CIA to refer to the manipulation of a 'sponsor'(decoy) to be used in one or more operations. The goal of the manipulation is generally to associate with the 'sponsor' some image, to enable the more ready belief later, that the decoy-patsy is solely responsible for a given course of action  Even one  leading to executive action (assassination of a head of state).  In Oswald’s case, the sheep-dipping would have been initiated years in advance from the time of his fake defection (in the CIA’s Fake Defector Program).

Thereafter, bogus communications and even body doubles would have been employed to advance and consolidate the ruse. Fake communications such as the letter to the Soviet Embassy alleging a meeting with the KGB’s top assassination operative (Valery Kostikov) in the Western Hemisphere, and Oswald doubles such as the one documented by James Douglass and seen by Sgt. Robert Vinson near Red Bird Air Field hours after the assassination would all have a role in driving later perceptions, media accounts.

This would be critical (especially) to have ready after Kennedy was assassinated on Nov. 22, 1963, in order to drive an investigation that would find him guilty of being the lone assassin.  Peter Dale Scott, invoking the resources of HSCA investigator Dan Hardway and as also reported by HSCA investigator Gaeton Fonzi (The Last Investigation,  p. 292 ) discerned that  most of the individuals originating the false reports (in cables etc.) were assets of the Mexico City Station’s Chief of Covert Action and Cuban Operations, David Atlee Phillips.”   Phillips is shown below:

It had been Phillips who ran all the cut outs (fake personae, duplicate Oswalds, fake files etc. ) to implicate Oswald as a commie nut in league with the KGB and Soviets – all the better to paint him as the one lone nut assassin in Dallas, on Nov. 22, 1963.   The Warren Commission was "suspiciously 'quiet' on the subject of Oswald's CIA files"[1], the OS-351-164 (office of security), the 201-289248 CI/SIG, and the 74-500. However, this should not astound anyone aware of the fact that a former CIA Director (Allen Dulles) sat on the Commission. Logically, therefore, if his latter day descendants are so reluctant to divulge the truth[2], he would have been no different. Moreover, as primary liaison between Commission members and the Agency, he could easily determine in advance what would be advisable for them to see, and what wouldn't. 

What is more astounding is the level of machinations the CIA used to conceal the files and their import from the Warren Commission. For example, no one informed the Commission that the letter ‘D’ – on the cover sheet of Oswald’s 201 file – indicated CIA Staff D, a SIGINT or signals intelligence operation run in concert with the National Security  Agency or NSA. As pointed out by Peter Dale Scott (Deep Politics Quarterly, Jan. 1994): “In 1961, when William Harvey headed Staff D, he was assigned the task of developing the CIA Assassinations Project, ZR/Rifle

 In addition, when they submitted Oswald’s 201-file to the Warren Commission (under the header of Commission Document 692) they did not indicate it clearly or mark it as such. Instead, as Dale Scott (and also John Newman) observed the CIA buried it in a  Sept. 24 “memorandum”  relocated to a much later position in the file , making it appear as if it had been falsely drafted after the culpable Oct. 10 fake cables.  (Scott writes that technically this subterfuge and dodge was a “felony under Section 1001 of the U.S. Criminal Code".)

All this needs to be seen in the context of the five documents the CIA released on Oswald in October of 1963.  As noted by Peter Dale Scott (‘Oswald, Mexico and Deep Politics’, 2013, p. 25) : “at least three show signs of CIA doctoring and the first, which does not, was nevertheless so misleading as to be possibly dishonest.” This was the cable from the Mexico City Station on Oct. 8 that claimed Oswald had appeared at the Soviet Embassy on Oct. 1, claiming  he had spoken with Valeriy Kostikov three days earlier. (Kostikov was top man in the KGB's "Department Thirteen" - responsible for assassinations. As Scott notes, ibid., this is why American Rightists made use of any sources they could to try to parlay this into something to force the WC's hand into a "phase one" conclusion. That included using Oswald's brother, Robert.)

More sobering is Newman’s apt reflection on Oswald’s activities in New Orleans from May –Sept, 1963 (Oswald and the CIA, p. 292):

"The record of Oswald's stay in New Orleans, May to September 1963, is replete with mistakes, coincidences, and other anomalies. As Oswald engaged in pro-Castro and anti-Castro activities, the FBI says they lost track of him. The Army was monitoring his activities and says it destroyed their reports. The record of his propaganda operations in New Orleans published by the Warren Commission turned out to have been deliberately falsified."

Even more vexing and worrisome, is that the CIA had spies squirreled away inside the Cuban Consulate in Mexico City  who could have pulled off all manner of chicanery, including altering the impostor Oswald's documents (substituting the real Oswald's photo, signature, etc.). As HSCA Investigator Fonzi  notes (using research by two staffers, Dan Hardaway, and Eddie Lopez - whose work led to the  Lopez Report, still in CIA files (Gaeton Fonzi, The Last Investigation, pp. 293-94)

"In questioning (David Atlee)Phillips, Hardway was also working from information that had been dug up on a couple of secret trips to Mexico City made by Lopez, and investigator Harold Leap. Without the Agency's permission, they had located and interviewed a couple of CIA assets who had worked inside the Cuban Consulate at the time. The Agency never revealed this to the Warren Commission, but it actually had planted spies within the Cuban compound. That may be relevant to the fact that, in the end, the only 'proof' that the real Oswald was inside the Cuban Consulate were his photographs and his signature on his visa application.

While in Mexico City, Lopez and Leap also spoke with the agency personnel who had listened to and were involved in translating and transcribing the tape of the man who called the Soviet Embassy. They said that after Oswald's Dallas arrest, when they heard his voice on radio and telecasts, it wasn't the same voice they remembered from the tape. The man who called the Embassy had a “huskier voice and didn't speak as fast as Oswald” , and perhaps most revealing, spoke in very poor, broken Russian  (Oswald's Russian wasn't excellent, but Marina Oswald later  said that when she first met Oswald in Minsk she thought his accent was from another part of the Soviet Union.) The Oswald arrested and the impostor headed to the Cuban Embassy are shown below:

Fonzi noted that Lopez and Hardway observed that David Atlee  Phillips seemed to be especially nervous when Hardway began questioning him about the lack of photographs of Oswald. He maintained that the surveillance cameras at both Soviet and Cuban Embassies were “not functioning at the time of Oswald's visits” . Phillips stuck to the story that the Agency didn't maintain an around-the-clock  and weekend surveillance of the Soviet Embassy. He also said the Cuban Embassy camera “happened to be malfunctioning”  during the time of Oswald's visit.
So, despite the fact that Oswald had allegedly made five visits to the Cuban Consulate and Soviet Embassy, there were no photographs to substantiate it.

As Gaeton Fonzi observes (p. 295)

"In the end, Phillips couldn't explain the contradictions in his testimony about the Agency's surveillance capabilities or why, if the cameras at the Soviet Embassy were working on October 1st -when it photographed the unidentified man passed off as Oswald, there was no photograph of the real Oswald."

It seems more than evident that the reason Propaganda meister Phillips 'couldn't explain' the contradictions in his testimony, is because the real Lee Harvey Oswald was never in Mexico City. Like so many other smoke and mirrors tactics invoked by the Agency, this was no different. It is merely another layer/level of sheep-dipping to target the unwary Oswald for his pre-determined patsyhood role in Dallas 7 weeks later.

Sadly, another casualty of the CIA sheepdip, dodge and spin hijinks was an innocent woman, the consulate officer Silvia Duran. As Scott reports, as well as Gaeton Fonzi (op. cit., p. 409)  she was forced to undergo brutal torture for eight hours at the hands of Mexican police to get her to recant her original testimony that the “Oswald” encountered at the Cuban Embassy in Medico City was not the Oswald arrested in Dallas.(She had insisted in her original testimony- account that the Oswald she encountered “was blonde and short” – The Lopez Report, p. 190).

Ed Lopez,  who’d sought to interview Duran again in the wake of her torture,  found she was unable, and broke down and wept merely at the thought of it. She also feared reprisals as a citizen of Mexico.

Why is it so hard to accept this, as opposed to asserting the person himself is responsible?


Unfortunately, most people are not aware (or if they are, are in denial) of how clandestine services like the CIA really work. Their (disbelievers') mindset and thought processes are simply unable (or unwilling) to comprehend the Machiavellian minds and strategies at work. They do not understand that such tactics – as well as assassinations of heads of state-  are viewed as a valid means to an end. In addition, they fail to process that  concatenating these misdirection tactics is all they have to do! 
With ample time and resources, therefore - it is not at all unthinkable or 'incredible' that they could engage in things such as 'double agents', setting up corporate fronts as 'dummies' for agency activities (i.e. the JM/WAVE station in Miami to run 'Operation Mongoose' ; the use of impostors to stage 'scenes' - as the actors used to pose as Silvia Duran and Oswald in Mexico City ; or manipulating a particular profile person into being a 'decoy' (sponsor) for an agency operation. That one can't  or won't believe this, doesn't mean it doesn't occur.
How would one know - say from documents- that sheep-dipping was  taking place?
One thing we do know, is that the Agency is not going to stamp all salient records and documents (that pertain to covert manipulation of a sponsor toward a directed goal) with a big 'S' for sheep-dipping! So no, it’s not likely to be a 'gimme'. One needs to exercise a critical mind, and look at information disclosed (e.g. through FOIA, or the latest initiative to declassify) records, with a cold, dispassionate view- rigorously applying logic all time. One also needs to accept the conclusions of that logic - no matter where it leads  and  no matter how much the conclusion may violate one's subjective temperament or emotional or other affiliations. Too often, in this respect, people who assert such evidence 'does not exist' - are either allowing their emotions to rule their logic, or have some other agenda, which is probably not beneficent.
In terms of specifics  and applied strategies for ferreting out clues, one would look for files, and ancillary evidence, including Agency actions, cables and what is covered here, is mainly based on those which have been released - which are significant. As Newman notes, of all  the quarter million pages released up to the time he wrote his book (Newman, op. cit., p. 168):
"no single page far released by the CIA can compare in significance to the piece of paper that opened his 201 file."
As for 'easy' - no one who has pursued this case any length of time would ever arrive at such a naive conclusion. The labyrinth of files by itself is enough to deter many from sorting through them to extract or deduce cause and effect relationships. 
This  is at the core of the difference between the official (lone nut) and conspiracy viewpoints. The first believes that all the truth has essentially been told, and one single person is guilty with no external involvement. The latter believe the whole truth has not been told, and that there is clear evidence of duplicity permeating the files that have so far been released.
If one single person were indeed guilty, this degree of duplicity and outright lying would not be necessary. Nor is it adequate for the official adherents, to claim that the duplicitous sources, agencies are merely 'covering their tracks' to hide errors. To such a claim, the conspiracy theorist has but one rejoinder:  What is the cut off point for errors and 'coincidences'? Ten thousand coincidences?  Ten million?  One hundred billion? At what threshold does mischief begin and honest error  or 'honest defense of honest error- end? When do the probabilities for 'coincidence' or multiple errors become too vanishingly small to accept? When?
 This is the pivot point about which most of the discussion occurs, and into which sheep dipping figures. Indeed, one could argue that the successful basis of the fact that the real architects and perpetrators got away with Kennedy’s murder, was precisely Oswald’s meticulous sheep dipping.


[1] John Newman, Oswald and CIA, p. 169.

[2]  I refer to  the files on CIA Station Chief George Joannides, who single handedly funded and orchestrated the Cuban elements in New Orleans, and orchestrated Oswald’s associations with them.


bsimpich said...


Love your blog.

I've written a whole book on LHO in Mexico City, State Secret, which can be found at the lower left hand portion of the lead page at

I can't find your reference to "D" on "the cover sheet" of Oswald's 201 file.

Is this the cover sheet? Can you help me out?


Bill Simpich bsimpich

Copernicus said...

Thanks for your comment. The 'Staff D' reference was originally cited from one of Peter Dale Scott's original articles- including from his most recent book on LHO in Mexico City. However, I do not have the book with me right now, it was loaned to a close friend. When I find the exact page reference I can send it on to you!

Glad you find the blog interesting!