By Anthony Summers
Of note today is what CBS has now posted on its website about the alleged meeting between Warren Commission counsel William Coleman and Fidel Castro. There’s a nod to the fact that Coleman first made his claim about having met Castro long since, to me – not only, as he has recently said, to author Philip Shenon.
What’s glaring by omission, however, is that – in a letter, which I shared with CBS and on this blog – Coleman formally retracted what he’d initially told me, denying that he had ever met with Castro.
Making the Castro meeting claim twice (to me), then retracting it, then making it anew (to Shenon) makes Coleman a less than reliable witness on an historically significant matter.
So does the fact that Coleman told me Castro gave him documents to take back to Washington, and that he assumed the record of that to be in the National Archives. Whereas he seems to have told Philip Shenon that there was no documentation.
In a world of proper reporting, this should receive coverage.
by Anthony Summers
CBS News and other media yesterday reported as a supposed revelation, that Warren Commission counsel William Coleman travelled to meet with Cuba’s Fidel Castro to discuss the assassination. This is not a revelation.
I first learned about this from Coleman in 1994, at a time when he said he could not describe the assignment because “It was top secret”. I published the exchange in my book Not in Your Lifetime. I wrote in greater detail on the subject in The Times of London on January 7, 2006, following a new meeting with Coleman. I reported that he “told me before Christmas of a mission that he carried out on the orders of the U.S. Chief Justice Earl Warren. He had flown to a secret location for a meeting with Señor Castro….What Mr. Coleman learned, he said, satisfied him – and the Chief Justice when he reported back – that ‘Castro’s regime had nothing to do with the President’s murder.’”
I wrote this following a conversation with Mr. Coleman on the evening of November 18, 2005, at a social gathering. My handwritten note recorded that he said: “Earl Warren asked me to fly down to an island and meet with Castro. And I did fly down to the island, spent about six hours with him. And he gave me various papers. And I brought them back to Washington….I concluded and reported to Warren that the Castro regime had nothing to do with the assassination. I asked Coleman, “Where are the documents you brought back?” The former Commission attorney replied, “I hope they’re at the National Archives with everything else. They damn well should be.”
I pressed him further, but Coleman said, “I’ve already said too much”. I had an exchange of letters with him the following month, asking Coleman to tell the story of his mission as fully as possible – in the interests of getting relevant documents released in the spirit of the Clinton presidential order that established the Assassinations Records Review Board .
Mr. Coleman responded on December 30, 2005 with a letter stating that – contrary to what he had told me – “I have never met, talked to, or been in Mr. Castro’s presence, and I had no such direction to do so by Mr. Chief Justice Earl Warren.”