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Our Man in Mexico: Winston Scott and the Hidden History of the CIA [Hardcover]

Jefferson Morley

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Book Description

15 Mar 2008
Mexico City was the Casablanca of the Cold War - a hotbed of spies, revolutionaries, and assassins. The CIA's station there was the front line of the United States' fight against international communism, as important for Latin America as Berlin was for Europe. And its undisputed spymaster was Winston Mackinley Scott.Chief of the Mexico City station from 1956 to 1969, Win Scott occupied a key position in the founding generation of the Central Intelligence Agency, but until now he has remained a shadowy figure. Investigative reporter Jefferson Morley traces Scott's remarkable career from his humble origins in rural Alabama to wartime G-man to OSS London operative (and close friend of the notorious Kim Philby), to right-hand man of CIA Director Allen Dulles, to his remarkable reign for more than a decade as virtual proconsul in Mexico.Morley also follows the quest of Win Scott's son Michael to confront the reality of his father's life as a spy. He reveals how Scott ran hundreds of covert espionage operations from his headquarters in the U.S. Embassy while keeping three Mexican presidents on the agency's payroll, participating in the Bay of Pigs fiasco, and, most intriguingly, overseeing the surveillance of Lee Harvey Oswald during his visit to the Mexican capital just weeks before the assassination of President Kennedy.Morley reveals the previously unknown scope of the agency's interest in Oswald in late 1963, identifying for the first time the code names of Scott's surveillance programs that monitored Oswald's movements. He shows that CIA headquarters cut Scott out of the loop of the agency's latest reporting on Oswald before Kennedy was killed. He documents why Scott came to reject a key finding of the Warren Report on the assassination and how his disillusionment with the agency came to worry his longtime friend James Jesus Angleton, legendary chief of CIA counterintelligence. Angleton not only covered up the agency's interest in Oswald but also, after Scott died, absconded with the only copies of his unpublished memoir.Interweaving Win Scott's personal and professional lives, Morley has crafted a real-life thriller of Cold War intrigue - a compelling saga of espionage that uncovers another chapter in the CIA's history.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Kansas (15 Mar 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0700615717
  • ISBN-13: 978-0700615711
  • Product Dimensions: 3.4 x 15.9 x 22.7 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,086,158 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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"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"

About the Author

Jefferson Morley, formerly the "World Opinion Roundup" columnist for washingtonpost.com, is a veteran Washington journalist whose work has appeared in the Washington Post, New York Review of Books, Readers Digest, Slate, Salon, and other national publications.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  14 reviews
40 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fixed Position of Camera Enables the Clear Causal Outline of a Flowchart! 1 Mar 2008
By Boyce Hart - Published on Amazon.com
A critical question makes the Kennedy Assassination perhaps more relevant to today than ever:to what extent is the nominal leader, the President, really in control of the permanent military, political, and communications bureacracies that shape his options? In 1961, when Kennedy became president, key components of this permannent bureacracy were thirteen years old. As a parent with a teenager there were moments of tension when one can wonder who or what called the shots. This was uniquely the case in 1960, as for eight years-- the truly formative ones in the developement of the entire post-war US society-- the CIA had been given extreme lattitude. Kennedy's relations with the permanet political and military bureacracy can serve as basis of comparison for how matters of war and peace are decided today, when blame-game controversies sometimes seem mere PR strategies for plausible denial 10.0

Jefferson Morleys book leaves little doubt that no matter what our betters tell us, the CIA was to a very significant degree doing its own things in 1963. The reason this emerges far more clearly than in other books, is that Morley's never allows the ocean of detail to alter his camera agle. It is not a totalizing focus like some other books that mistake thickness for ambition. Rather, it sticks to the Mexico City CIA station, its chief Winston Scott, and his close World War Two friend and possibly his own privatest Idohaon-- the only one weirder than fellow poet and contemporary Ezra Pound-- James Jesus Angleton.

Morley is carefull. When your asking about unauthorized actions of the CIA people who normally talk freely in the New Yorker have a way of clamming up. It is hard to find sources in the middle ground, for example on the question of who knew what when about the Bay of Pigs. Far easier to treat this grey area as the blacktop of the Langley 500, the way Tim Weiner does in his childishly simplified and baldly propagandistic narration of Kennedy relations with the CIA.

How does he get insiders to talk for a book that is lethal to the government sanctioned version of the assassination? By not oversating things. By mentioning enough right wing cubans without so many as to lose sense of thier handlers. By clearly delineating who was in charge of what CIA operation, and who didn't know about them as well. We can see the critical wires cross, and are not confused in a whirl of unessential relations. We can see the extra piece-- George Joannides-- being added like one too many bones in an ankle and the clarity with which one could mistake treason for the logical coorination of a counterintelligence
operation. Individuals are not blamed here, but the flow chart that teaches how the Cubans were "turned" is clear for the first time. At least for me, but I'm gradual.

Also Morley tells the story from the persepctive of Win Scotts family. This "works" in many ways. It might just be the footwear necessary for treading accross one the most contested and and important middle grounds -- between president and permanent bureacracy-- in twentieth and 21st Century history.

This work stands in welcome contrast to recent books that mistake the shere number of mafia people who were involved with anti-castro opperations between 1959-63 with actual causal importance in the assassination of JFK. So often books like Ultimate Sacrifice emphasize the Mafia unconvincingly, because their CIA contacts merely seem outnumbered on the page. Morley goes to the quixotic center of the maypole: one has little doubt of this as he reads about Angletons very different, and very compartmetalized relations with Winston Scott and his secret sharer within the US embassy in Mexico City, David Atlee Phillips.
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ...one step closer to the truth... 4 May 2008
By Christian Toussay - Published on Amazon.com
...peeling off layer after layer, we (well, those who still care, but I understand there are quite numerous around the world...) can now forty five years after the facts have a much better, much clearer understanding of what took place in Dallas.

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...
26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Realistic Picture 12 Aug 2008
By Martha Hanchulak - Published on Amazon.com
As a former longtime employee of CIA, I can attest that this book conveys a true picture of the goings on within the agency. The story focuses on the life of Win Scott, who rose to become station chief in Mexico City for many years. Meticulously researched and documented, the book relates how the "company" evolved from wartime OSS in London. We learn about some key operations in postwar Europe and in Central America, and about how counter-intelligence works.
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.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great perspective. 19 Feb 2009
By Karen Kent - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This author contacted a family member (of mine) for info on the family member's possible role in CIA activities in Mexico in preparation for this book. I appreciate the author's integrity. This is an excellent book, providing a unique perspective in the ongoing search for the truth regarding JFK's assassination. I highly recommend this book. Way to go, Mr. Morley.
14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A hard look at hard C.I.A data 8 May 2008
By Jane Augustine - Published on Amazon.com
This very well-documented book tells you in precise and unnerving detail how C.I.A.operatives work and what they knew about Oswald in Mexico before the Kennedy assassination -- a lot more than you knew befoe. It is particularly convincing because it's personal, the real story of a man who lived his life inside that system of power, accountable to no one. It's a page-turner with unrecognized spies (everyone?), double agents, stolen loves, a son wants to know his father, a loyal secretary, a dangerous wedding, enough destroyed documents to make you weep and an ending that sets up for a sequel we hope can come from further investigation by this diligent author. Highly recommended for everyone, not just specialists, but there is plenty here for them as well.
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