Mr. Veciana Did You Mean Merton?

INTRODUCTION

I began my work on this approximately three and a half years ago.  Inspired by the works of Gaeton Fonzi and others, I was hot on the trail to determine who Mr. Melton was. Antonio Veciana, founder of one of the most violent anti-Castro groups, Alpha-66 claimed that he was trained by Mr. Melton.

My suspicions led me to suspect that the Mr. Melton discovered by Gaeton Fonzi and his work for the House Select Committee on Assassinations in the 1970s, was a CIA agent known as Andrew F. Merton.  There have been many theories as to the identity of Mr. Merton. Two names, George DeMorenschildt and David Phillips, were put forward  by author David Kaiser in The Road to Dallas (1).  As I researched, I knew I could disprove the DeMorenschildt theory easily.  David Phillips, I was confident, was not Merton because I had found documents in which Merton was reporting to Phillips and discussing the closing of Base Merida (2) . Additionally, Merton would take temporary duty assignments to Mexico City, a place in which Phillips was permanently stationed (3).  I was feeling confident in my work, however, my confidence in my work hit a wall.

Then, the unthinkable happened. And one of my favorite authors, Dr. John Newman, published his book, Where Angels Tread Lightly: The Assassination of President Kennedy Volume 1, causing me to lose my confidence about Andrew F. Merton (4).  In this book Dr. Newman identified Andrew Merton as being David Atlee Phillips. At that point, I stopped writing, and was quite dismayed because of the hours I spent pouring through documents and working on articles about this topic.  I did what any reasonable person would do: I reached out to Dr. Newman.  I sent him documents that I found, and asked him if he was certain about this pseudonym.  Some months later, Dr. Newman responded to me stating that Merton was not David Atlee Phillips and he would be publishing an update to the book correcting this.

As I am publishing this blog, I cannot state how much I respect Dr. Newman for taking the time to talk with a novice researcher, give me the time of day to talk to me and validate some of the work I was doing.  He is an inspiration to me, and I am fortunate to have had my questions answered.


Mr. Melton is Identified as a Trainer for Anti-Castro Cubans

On April 25 and 26 of 1978, Antonio Veciana was questioned under oath in executive session of the HSCA.  Veciana stated that his first contact with one Maurice Bishop took place in Havana in 1960.  At the time he worked in the Banco Financiero and was the president of the professional accountant’s association (5). Veciana informed the committee that once he agreed to work for Bishop he was put into a two-three week training program conducted in the evenings by a Mr. Melton.  The classes were held on a street called, El Vedado, and they took place in a Berlitz School that shared the address of a mining company.  His training consisted of the use of explosives, sabotage, psychological warfare and propaganda (6).


CIA Requested to Search for Melton

As a result of investigator Gaeton Fonzi’s work with Veciana, G. Robert Blakey, Chief Counsel and Staff Director to the U.S. House Select Committee on Assassinations from 1977 to 1979, wrote to Scott Beckenridge, CIA’s Deputy Inspector General of the CIA,  requesting, “that a search be made for persons closely fitting the enclosed biographical profile, even though those persons may bear no similarity in name to MELTON” (7). The letter is clear in the request that they were concerned not just with the name of Melton, but in the description of the job functions of someone who may fit Melton’s description. Blakey’s letter describes, in great detail, what Veciana described his training to be, and contained great specificity about the location of the training.


“Please Check on Melton and Variations of Name”

At various times during the period 1959-1961, Melton is alleged to have conducted the instruction mentioned above in an office in the El Verdado section of Havana. The building was named “Edificio LaRampa”, which also housed offices for the Moa Bay Mining Company, and, in addition, a Berlitz language school (8).  Blakey’s request was followed upon immediately by Beckenridge.  He writes in the routing sheet very specific instructions in the quest for Melton.  “Please check Melton and variations of name.  If he was instructing in 1959 he must have DOB of 1941 or earlier,” and “Any institutional memory of such a person?” These second part of the request was directed to the Latin Affairs Division of the CIA.

Routing Sheet
(9)NARA Record Number: 180-10141-10150

The search for Mr. Melton came back with no finding of anyone that fit the description of Mr. Melton.  The response was that there was no record of the above individual.  It stated, “You are further advised that this Office has no capability for matching biographical profiles with individuals of record in the Office of Security.” (10). The response zeros in on what the CIA was not capable of doing, which was search biographical profiles.  It does not say that there was a search made for “variations of the name”. The response to this request does not indicate that Beckenridge’s handwritten note, to look for “variations” of the name, had been carried out.  Is this a case where they were searching for a difference in first names?  It is also possible that they only searched for variations with the first name.

There was a very close pseudonym to the name Melton that should have been revealed to the HSCA. A CIA operative working in the Havana at that time, who did work with many Cuban exiles used the pseudonym “Merton” not “Melton”.  The name is in many of documents that have been released since the Assassinations and Records Board began releasing documents in the 90s.

Andrew Merton does fit the profile of the “Melton” that Antonio Veciana identified under oath.  Hopefully, with the work presented here, the reader will come to the conclusion that it is highly likely that Antonio Veciana was trained by Andrew F. Merton.


Who was Andrew F. Merton?

In 1963, Andrew F. Merton was the Chief of Base Merida in Mexico.  He reported to the Winston Scott, the Chief of the Mexico City Station.  We learn the true name of Andrew Merton during the testimony of Frank Sturgis who identified him under oath as being, Jack Stuart. (NOTE Stuart and Stewart are both used in various documents) (11). Sturgis identified him as the Chief of Base Merida in his deposition.

The second place from which Stewart’s name appears is in the Mexico City Chronologies produced by the HSCA.  This document details chronologically the cable traffic in and out of Mexico City.  The document demonstrates that there was a cable written on February 12, 1964 to Jack Stewart, Merida requesting information for Joe Garcia of the FBI who was investigating Oswald’s trip to Mexico City in the months prior to the assassination (12). The actual cable does not appear to be in the released documents.


Merton in Guatemala in 1954

The first place in which we find the name “Merton” is operation PBSUCCESS.  PBSUCCESS was the CIA run operation to overthrow the government of Guatemala.  The operation was considered a huge success as the government toppled in a matter of days.  A man named Merton was on the ground working on behalf of the CIA.  This cable is from CIA Headquaters to operation PBSUCCESS Headquarters in Florida.  The cable requested information on the cover for various agents inside of Guatemala, Merton being one of them, to help Washington to determine how to proceed with PBSUCCESS (13). We know Merton, was operating under cover, on the  ground, in the middle of a coup sponsored by the United States.


Merton Reports on Anti-Castro Groups in Miami

From Havana, Merton filed a report detailing all of the major groups of Anti-Castro Cubans in Miami.  His report details the names of many well known anti-Castro revolutionaries – Angel Navarro, Manuel Blanco Navarro, and Rolando Masferrer Rojas.

The nine groups in the report were assessed on their membership, their financial backing, and their potential effectiveness in being able to help mobilize against Castro.  This report is evidence of the work that Merton was involved in.  The historical record demonstrates that he traveled between Havana and Florida, helping exfiltrate assets in the fight against Castro, as well as assess the anti-Castro Cuban groups.  This type of work fits in with the type of CIA agent who would be working with Antonio Veciana (14).


Merton Helps Pedro Diaz Lanz Escape Cuba

In the beginning of July of 1959, Andrew Merton was in the Tampa, Forida, working on helping Marcos Diaz Lanz, the brother of  Pedro Diaz Lanz who was the head of Castro’s Air Force, escape from Cuba.  The CIA was sending experts in disguise to help him (15).

Merton was working to secure a boat for Lanz to escape on.  Merton returned to Cuba on July 21, 1953 (16),  hoping to have the defection take place on July 25th with the boat arriving in Tampa on July 27th (17). The operation was a complete success and as of July 28, 1963 when Marcos Lanz was in Tampa in the custody of the United States Government (18).


Andrew Merton and Bernard Barker 

Inside of Cuba, Merton established a relationship with Bernard Barker in the year before he helped ex-filtrate him to the United States.  That relationship caused Merton’s possible exposure.  In October of 1959, the CIA was notified that Andrew Merton, and others in his working group, had their aliases revealed.  Bernard Barker (AMCLATTER-1) in the presence of an FBI agent had revealed this information.  Barker, who would become one of the Watergate Burglars, was at the home of an FBI source in Miami.  It was in this home that he revealed the information to the source and to the FBI agent in the sources home. Headquarters notified the Havana station that this had occurred and wanted the station to know that Barker was traveling to Havana on October 9 (19). Headquarters instructed the Havana station to use caution when discussing this with Barker because the information was passed to them off the record (20).

In July of 1960, Merton was heavily involved in helping Bernard Barker escape from Cuba.  (21). Merton helped hide Barker in a safehouse inside of Merton’s apartment building inside of Cuba (22).  Merton was directly responsible for building Barker’s alibi, should they get caught in their elaborate plan, to have Barker pretend to be the chauffeur for some diplomats to the airport. Baker would then hide inside of the plane’s bathroom on the flight to Florida (23). It is interesting to learn Barker’s assessment of the man who helped get him out of Cuba. During the investigation of the Watergate Break in, it was learned that on February 1, 1972, Barker made contact with Jack Stewart at the request of E. Howard Hunt.  After meeting with Barker, Stewart contacted Hunt and informed him that he was not interested. Barker describes his interaction with Stewart:

“I cannot say I was not warned in advance about the dangers and the disastrous outcome of our plans. Hunt had ordered me to try to recruit Jack Stuart, a veteran operator and probably the best agent the CIA had in Cuba. At the time, Stuart was living in California, where I contacted him. He was the best field agent I knew, and had been my mentor and superior in Cuba. Stuart was a man in his fifties, of middle height and weight, with a mastery of the Spanish language and culture. He was not a man easy to impress with plans and grandiose ideas. His mind was incisive, his experience difficult to match, but above all he could see through shadows and down dark alleys.”

“Jack came to Miami and listened to me in an attentive and patient manner. When I had finished my pitch, he responded in a sober mood.” “Macho stay away from those cowboys. Hunt is nothing but a cowboy. Then said he would talk to Hunt. After talking to him he came back and said, “Nothing good will come from those plans. You will destroy the President and the Presidency if you continue. Don’t count on me. Let things go before it is too late. Let’s go fishing in California.” (24)


The best agent the CIA had in Cuba

Barker’s comment, that Stewart was, “the best field agent I knew” rings loud and true when examining the clandestine record available in the historical documents.  Merton was involved in many operations in side of Cuba.  The CIA station in Havana sent a cable on November of 1959 indicating that Carlos Tepedino was willing to cooperate with anyone in Havana who was a “friend” of Merton. Tepedino was in Mexico City, and according to the cable, he had been known by Merton for eighteen months as an anti-communist who was against Castro (25).

Also in November 1969, Merton was involved in helping Lt. Manuel Francis Artime of Cuba’s Air Force and Roberto Verona escape Cuba to the United States.  Havana notified Washington of the contact with Merton and the steps Merton was taking to try and help them escape Cuba.  Merton used the same method that he had used with Marcos Diaz Lanz, a boat(26).  The vessel was impounded by the United States upon its arrival on December 16, 1959 (27). The CIA had to step in to declare that the men were stowaways so that the ship would be released.  Castro dodged questions during an interview in 1960 about their defection (28).

In 1961, Merton welcomed E. Howard Hunt to Mexico City.  At that time he had no contacts with the FRD, the Frente Revolucionario Democratico.  With Chief of Station Winston Scott’s permission, Merton was introduced to members of the FRD using the name Jack Warren, by Hunt.  The person who would maintain contact with Merton on behalf of the FRD would be AMSAIL-1, Carlos Fernandez (29).  Merton would then be responsible for the finances of the AMIRON Operation and payments would go through AMSAIL-1 (30).  The AMIRON operation was the cryptonym of the FRD  (31).  

While based in Miami, the FRD operated in other cities within the United States as well. The FRD was found to be operating in New Orleans and Tampa, as well as in Mexico City. The FRD was responsible for helping recruit Bridgade 2506, responsible for the failed Bay of Pigs operation. Eventually, the FRD was absorbed by the (AMBUD) CRC, Cuban Revolutionary Council, a group directly tied to President Kennedy and the White house (32).  By 1960, the FRD was considered the most important of the anti-Castro groups, and their headquarters moved from Miami to Mexico City (33). Merton continued to be involved in the finances of the CRC as of 1962 when the FRD was absorbed by the CRC (34).


Merton in Mexico

We have established that Merton was in charge of Base Merida. Merida reported to the Winston Scott, the Chief of Station in Mexico City. Merida was involved in many aspects of surveillance and the use of camera technology to spy on Cuba (35).  In March of 1964, Merton was looking to expand the capabilities of Merida by constructing a dark room at the base (36).

One vea-dangerous-thingry interesting piece of evidence found in the records is a request from Andrew F. Merton for materials to engage in sabotage.  It is the only document that links Merton to the type of training that Antonio Veciana states that he received from Mr. Melton.  Merton requested materials to sabotage the vehicles of Cuban officials to the point that it would be expensive for them to repair their vehicles.  With the Cubans having limited resources, Merton wanted to create a financial burden on the limited resources of the Cubans operating in the Yucatan peninsula.  As can be seen in the routing sheet, Merton’s superiors found this to be a “dangerous thing!” (37)

Merton was also involved in supporting one of the Mexico City Stations’ most productive operations, Winston Scott’s LITEMPO operation. This operation prevented Cubans from entering Mexico without the permission of the United States State Department.  It allowed for the CIA to control and expedite the requests for Cuban citizens to come into Mexico, and then the United States.(38) Merton and Michael Choaden (David Atlee Phillips) were involved in the choosing of people to be given visas through the LITEMPO operation, and both of their names appear in operational reports submitted by Winston Scott (39).

In November of 1963, Merton was working on an issue involving the government of China. The CIA was anticipating the arrival of a shipment of Communist propaganda to Mexico. Win Scott’s report to headquarters indicated that the shipment was arriving in December. They asked the Mexican government to intercept the materials (40). China was also waging war to gain control of Cuba, and were opposed to the Soviet Union’s hold over Castro on the island (41). While JMWAVE apparently had someone who fit the billing of a Chinese born Cuban, Merton did not feel they would be up to the task. As of November 7, 1963, he was working to seek someone who could be recruited to work for the CIA against the Chinese (42).

Merton eventually became responsible for the photographic monitoring of the Cuban embassy in Mexico City.  The program was named LIONION in 1964 (43).   Merton became part of the LIONION project according to a 1965 document indicating Merton had taken charge of the operation and the development of the films taken of the embassy (44). This project was one of great importance to the agency in the monitoring of the people coming in and out of the Cuban embassy in Mexico City.  The prior program became a point of controversy in the lack of photographic evidence of Lee Harvey Oswald visiting the Cuban embassy in September of 1963.


The Case That Merton is Melton

This article makes the case that Andrew F. Merton, Jack Stuart (Stewart), is the “Mr. Melton” who Antonio Veciana testified trained him.  The article presents the evidence of Merton’s recruitment of anti-Castro Cubans.  It clearly outlines the clandestine nature of his skills, operating with safe houses, boats and airlines to ex-filtrate Cubans in the war against Castro.

There is evidence of him engaging in “dangerous” sabotage and ex-filtration operations. We have evidence of him making payments through Cuban contacts to the FRD and the CRC.  As Bernard Barker said,  he was the “best field agent” the United States had operating inside of Cuba.  In addition to Bernard Barker, Merton worked with [Frank] Sturgis, [Carlos] Tepidino, and [Pedro Diaz] Lanz.  He was involved in determining who got visas to exit Cuba and enter Mexico. This hypothesis is bolstered by the fact that there are no other documents with the name Melton that have yet to be found. In looking at the historical documents that we possess, there does not appear to be another agency asset as involved in these activities as Andrew Merton was. This hypothesis needs to be vetted, tested, and challenged by other researchers.

Matthew Scheufele


Afterward

This research has been a culmination of many hours.  I have written literally four different versions of this over the last two years.  I have spoken by phone with Bill Simpich, someone I admire greatly, running ideas by him in the early work I did on Mexico City in my continuing on again off again affair with David Atlee Phillips.  I truly enjoy reading and learning about the operations of the CIA station in Mexico City thanks to Jefferson Morely.

John Newman has been an inspiration for me as well, and again, I thank him for always taking the time to talk to me when I have a question.  I look forward to his next books.

Finally, thanks to Gaeton Fonzi who chased Maurice Bishop and exposed Mr. Melton.  I wish he were alive because his published work does not reflect if he chased Mr. Melton as well.  I would love to know if he did or did Melton get lost in his hunt for Mr. Bishop.  I wonder what information is in his files about Mr. Melton.

As for the friends I have made in research, the people who encourage me when I am easily swayed to give up, Carmine Savastano, Trish Flemming-Jendro, Zach Jendro, Denis Morissette, Jacob Carter, Charles Cliff, Steve Roe, F.J. James, Rob Clark, Joseph Backes and last but not least, Gayle Nix Jackson, I thank you for your unending support and confidence in me, even when I am not confident in myself. While we all sit on different sides of the fence around conspiracy or not, the one thing we all have in common, is an unending belief in evidence and primary sources, no matter where it brings us.  I am honored to be your friend in research.


References

(1) The Road to Dallas pg. 174 Kaiser, DavidPublisher: Belknap Harvard, 2008ISBN: 978-0-674-02766-4  Page 174

(2) NARA Record Number: 104-10098-10316 DELAY FINAL DECISION FOR SIX MONTHS

(3) NARA Record Number: 104-10246-10023 OPERATIONAL MONTHLY REPORT FOR THE PERIOD 1-31 MARCH 1964

(4) Where Angels Tread Lightly: The Assassination of President Kennedy Volume 1 Newman, John ISBN: 1478302410 Copyright 2015 John Newman

(5) NARA Record Number: 180-10147-10240 ANTI-CASTRO ACTIVITIES AND ORGANIZATIONS AND LHO IN NEW ORLEANS, pg 99

(6) NARA Record Number: 180-10147-10240 ANTI-CASTRO ACTIVITIES AND ORGANIZATIONS AND LHO IN NEW ORLEANS pg. 101

(7) NARA Record Number: 104-10406-10260 LETTER:IN CONNECTION WITH ITS INVESTIGATION/REQUEST FOR FILE SEARCH ON “MELTON pg 2.

(8) NARA Record Number: 104-10406-10260 LETTER:IN CONNECTION WITH ITS INVESTIGATION/REQUEST FOR FILE SEARCH ON “MELTON pg 2.

(9) NARA Record Number: 104-10406-10260 LETTER:IN CONNECTION WITH ITS INVESTIGATION/REQUEST FOR FILE SEARCH ON “MELTON pg 2.

(10) NARA Record Number: 1993.08.13.18:02:00:780046 AGENCY HOLDINGS ON FNU MELTON AKA JOE MELTON

(11) NARA Record Number: 178-10002-10372 MEMORANDUM OF DEPOSITION FOR THE RECORD pg 49

(12) NARA Record Number: 104-10013-10004 MEXICO CITY CHRONOLOGY

(13) Foreign Relations of the United States, 1952-1954: Guatemala Current Section: 90. 1/30/54-Telegram From the Central Intelligence Agency to Operation PBSUCCESS Headquarters in Florida

(14) NARA Record Number: 104-10267-10088FIELD INFORMATION REPORT: COUNTER-REVOLUTIONARY GROUPS IN MIAMI

(15) (NARA Record Number: 104-10112-10007 CABLE RE MARCOS DIAZ LANZ EVACUATION)

(16) NARA Record Number: 104-10167-10156 MERTON RETURNED HAVA AFTERNOON 21 JULY)

(17) NARA Record Number: 104-10112-10007 CABLE RE MARCOS DIAZ LANZ EVACUATION)

(18) NARA Record Number: 104-10167-10139 MARCOS DIAZ LANZ

(19) NARA Record Number: 104-10215-10417CABLE RE MEETING DETAILS

(20) NARA Record Number: 104-10215-10416 CABLE RE MEETING

(21) NARA Record Number: 104-10110-10269 FOR EXFILTRATION OF AMCLATTER -1 TO HOMESTEAD AIR BASE FLORIDA

(22) NARA Record Number: 104-10110-10269 PLAN FOR EXFILTRATION OF AMCLATTER -1 TO HOMESTEAD AIR BASE FLORIDA

(23) NARA Record Number: 104-10110-10269 PLAN FOR EXFILTRATION OF AMCLATTER -1 TO HOMESTEAD AIR BASE FLORIDA

(24) A MAN CALLED MACHO by Marcelo Fernandez-Zayas Guaracabuya Organo Oficial de la Sociedad Economica de Amigos del Pais http://www.amigospais-guaracabuya.org/

(25) NARA Record Number: 104-10183-10085 CABLE RE: WHO FURNISHED STATION WITH DRAFT CONTRACT PF REF

(26) NARA Record Number: 104-10162-10194 CABLE:INTERVIEWED TWO PADRES IN PRIVACY

(27) NARA Record Number: 104-10109-10301 MEMORANDUM:MANUEL FRANCIS ARTIME AND ROBERTO VARONA

(28) The Castro Speech Data Base Speeches Interviews and Articles 1959-1966, January 20, 1960 http://lanic.utexas.edu/project/castro/db/1960/19600120.html

(29) NARA Record Number: 104-10171-10118 MEMO FOR THE RECORD: MEXICO CITY DELEGATION

(30) NARA Record Number: 104-10171-10381 CABLE: NO OBJECTION HERE IF YOU CONCUR

(31) NARA Record Number: 104-10061-10115  LIST OF NAMES RE KENNEDY ASSASSINATION INVESTIGATION

(32) NARA Record Number: 104-10107-10000 FRENTE REVOLUCIONARIO DEMOCRATICO

(33) NARA Record Number: 104-10106-10607 JOHN DANIEL WILKES

(34) NARA Record Number: 104-10229-10375 CABLE: ON 1 MAR BENADUM PASSED 50 THOUSAND PESOS TO AMSAIL-1 FOR MARCH EXPENSES

(35) NARA Record Number: 104-10246-10019 OPERATIONAL REPORT 1-30 SEPTEMBER 1964

(36) NARA Record Number: 104-10246-10023 OPERATIONAL MONTHLY REPORT FOR THE PERIOD 1-31 MARCH 1964

(37) NARA Record Number: 104-10188-10417  DISPATCH-REQUEST FOR SABOTAGE MATERIAL

(38) NARA Record Number: 104-10516-10041 DISPATCH: PROCEDURE FOR OBTAINING MEXICAN TRANSIT VISAS FOR CUBANS

(39) NARA Record Number: 104-10098-10218 LITEMPO OPERATIONAL REPORT, OCTOBER 1963

(40) DISPATCH: OPERATIONAL REPORT 1-31 OCTOBER 1963

(41) NARA Record Number: 104-10226-10410 MANIFESTO OF THE UNIDAD REVOLUCIONARIA, CHINESE SECTOR

(42) NARA Record Number: 104-10100-10360 AWAITING COMMENTS RE WHEREABOUTS OF A SPANISH-SPEAKING CHINESE BORN IN CUBA

(43) Oswald, the CIA, and Mexico City (aka “Lopez Report”) Current Section: 6: Glossary of Terms Used in Report

44) NARA Record Number: 104-10188-10019 PBRUMEN/PROCESSING OF LIONION FILMS

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