WPRs in the “Tichborn” files

[Revised 9-2-2023]
Today’s note continues to look at whole page redactions (WPRs) in CIA documents from the JFKARC. These were a feature of the 2017-2018 releases, but have been mostly released in 2022-2023. How many are left? Keep reading to find out!

For those who missed the first installment of this series, including an explanation of WPRs, see here.

The note today discusses whole page redactions in the “201 file” for “Edward Tichborn”, the pseudonym used by Henry P. Lopez, a CIA contract employee who served in a number of countries from the late 1950s up to 1967.

Born in the U.S., Lopez was a bilingual Spanish-English speaker, a graduate of Harvard Law School, and active in Democratic Party politics in the 1950s, where he worked for liberal Democratics such as James Roosevelt, Helen Gahagan Douglas, and Adlai Stevenson. It seems he first began his career as a CIA consultant/adviser in Cuba in 1959, and worked in a broad range of activities for the next 8 years.

Lopez was not a spy per se. Instead, he served as a political adviser to CIA contacts abroad, mostly in Latin American countries such as Cuba, Mexico, and others. A capsule review of Lopez’s CIA career can be found in paragraph six of this document.

Why are the files on Lopez included in the ARC collection? Like the other files with extensive WPRs examined in this series, Lopez had little to do with the HSCA investigation of JFK’s assassination. It seems his files were requested by the HSCA as subsidiary evidence, and turned up nothing. Read more below.

The “Tichborn”/Lopez files

Lopez has a four “volume” 201 file in the JFK ARC. Three of the four volumes have WPRs, as can be seen below:

record # (2018) 2022 link 2023 link record info # pages wpr (2018) wpr (2022) wpr (2023)
104-10174-10064 2022 link 2023 link 201 file vol 1 130 16 15 8
104-10174-10068 2022 link 2023 link 201 file vol 2 176 49 37 13
104-10218-10009 2022 link 2023 link 201 file vol 3 163 0 0 0
104-10174-10069 2022 link 2023 link 201 file vol 4 154 52 50 50

Release history

Vol 1 of the Lopez 201 file got a partial release back in 1994. There is a copy of this available at the MFF here, though it is certainly hard to recognize, with big chunks of text redacted throughout, including every mention of Lopez’s real name and his pseudonym Tichborn.

This partial release was redone as individual documents, which are available at MFF under record numbers 104-10174-10027 to 104-10174-10062 (this is equivalent to JFK64 reel 10 folder 3). All of these records had numerous redactions and were re-released as recently as June 27 this year. The file linked to above, 104-10174-10064, is apparently a previously withheld in full portion of volume 1. Don’t know on what grounds this part was withheld, but eight pages of it are still WPR, as noted above.

Volumes 2-4 were all withheld in full as NBR, and were not available to the public until 2017-2018. Volume 2 was heavily redacted when first released, with 49 WPRs, but in the June 27 release this year came down to 13 WPRs. Volume 3 for some reason had no WPRs when it was finally released in 2017, but it did have plenty of smaller redactions, which are now largely released, though some minor ones remain. Volume 4 is, next to the LIFEAT and WIROGUE files I previously discussed, the most redacted file left in the ARC. No idea what it’s all about, but the odds that it has any relation at all to the JFK assassination are small indeed, as we will see below.

Why did the HSCA request the Tichborn file?

In May 1978 the HSCA requested that CIA arrange an interview with “Tichborn”, but apparently he was never found or interviewed. HSCA then requested Tichborn’s files, and in addition to his 201 file, CIA also provided his personnel and security files.

Judging from the people Tichborn was grouped with in the interview request, the HSCA wanted to see if “Tichborn” could confirm Elena Garro de Paz’s claim that she saw Oswald at a party given by Silvia Duran. Duran worked at the Cuban Consulate in Mexico City and was unlucky enough to be contacted by Oswald when he came to apply for a visa to Cuba. She was grilled twice by the Mexican authorities and later by the HSCA about her relationship with Oswald. She is on record as denying the Garro de Paz claim.

When CIA turned over Lopez’s 201 file, it was reviewed by HSCA investigator Edwin Lopez, though the notation on the log sheet for Volume 4 (the first page) seems to show that Lopez did not look at either volumes 3 or 4.

“Tichborn” does not appear in the HSCA final report or appendices, but the name does appear in a report written by HSCA staffer Edwin Lopez, informally called “Lee Harvey Oswald, the CIA, and Mexico City“.

This report has acquired much notoriety as the most thorough-going attempt to establish some sort of funny business in Oswald’s trip to Mexico City. It was finally released in full in December 2022, and Tichborn’s name appears in one place in the report (page 376).

This page is part of a lengthy discussion of the Garro de Paz story, starting from page 373. As report author Ed Lopez notes, there are two versions of the Garro de Paz story, one in a memo from CIA asset June Cobb and one in a memo from Jim Flannery, a staff officer at the CIA’s Mexico City station.

Tichborn is not mentioned in Cobb’s memo. He is mentioned only in the Flannery memo, where he is said to have learned of the story second hand from a friend of Garro de Paz named Eunice Odio, and to have passed it on to the station.

The details of the story differ in the two memos, and the HSCA report is at pains to figure out the fate of each of the two source docs and how they were handled by the CIA.

Unfortunately, the report does not give a very clear presentation of all this, and in a somewhat confused footnote (#825) dismisses Tichborn’s role in transmitting the story with the remark that “After careful review of Lopez’ [Tichborn’s] CIA file, the HSCA has not been able to establish a link from Mr. Lopez to either Odio or Cobb.”

My two cents

I see no reason to expect any assassination related information from any of the remaining WPRs in Lopez’s files. A peripheral figure in the investigation to begin with, HSCA nonetheless acquired got a ton of files on Lopez. These must have been a heavy slog for the investigators. In the end, Ed Lopez wrote “Tichborn” off as a relevant source, and I don’t expect to do any better.

On the other hand, Henry P.’s unusual role and apparently quite liberal views are very intriguing for those interested in CIA’s attempts to influence Central and South American politics, and probably well worth a look from that perspective.