Jump to content
The Education Forum
  • Announcements

    • Evan Burton

      OPEN REGISTRATION BY EMAIL ONLY !!! PLEASE CLICK ON THIS TITLE FOR INFORMATION REQUIRED FOR REGISTRATION!:   06/03/2017

      We have 5 requirements for registration: 1.Sign up with your real name. (This will be your Username) 2.A valid email address 3.Your agreement to the Terms of Use, seen here: http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?showtopic=21403. 4. Your photo for use as an avatar  5.. A brief biography. We will post these for you, and send you your password. We cannot approve membership until we receive these. If you are interested, please send an email to: edforumbusiness@outlook.com We look forward to having you as a part of the Forum! Sincerely, The Education Forum Team

Don Bohning

Members
  • Content count

    37
  • Joined

  • Last visited

About Don Bohning

  • Rank
    Member
  1. Touché re "small potatoes" It was a bad choice of words to describe Iran/Contra although in comparison to some of the things the current Bush II administration has done during six years in office, it may wind up as being rather small potatoes historically. I do think, however, that Iran-Contra was covered extensively and quite well journalistically and at the time but perhaps less so historically. And it certainly was covered much more extensively and aggressively than the beginnings of the Iraq war and other travesties of the current administration in Washington.
  2. Touché re "small potatoes" It was a bad choice of words to describe Iran/Contra although in comparison to some of the things the current Bush II administration has done during six years in office, it may wind up as being rather small potatoes historically. I do think, however, that Iran-Contra was covered extensively and quite well journalistically and at the time but perhaps less so historically. And it certainly was covered much more extensively and aggressively than the beginnings of the Iraq war and other travesties of the current administration in Washington.
  3. An interview with Don Bohning.

    Touché re "small potatoes" It was a bad choice of words to describe Iran/Contra although in comparison to some of the things the current Bush II administration has done during six years in office, it may wind up as being rather small potatoes historically. I do think, however, that Iran-Contra was covered extensively and quite well journalistically and at the time but perhaps less so historically. And it certainly was covered much more extensively and aggressively than the beginnings of the Iraq war and other travesties of the current administration in Washington.
  4. I suspect there will be more books written by historians on the subjects cited above after historians have further time to digest the information available. I suspect, also, the historian is a bit more concerned about damaging his legacy and thus a bit more cautious in drawing conclusions than the journalist is, judging by some of the books that have appeared so far on the subjects above. To me, at least, the most significant difference between a journalist - investigative and otherwise - and an historian, is that a journalist relies much more heavily on what he sees and hears than a historian, who depends largely on the written record available to him or her. There are, of courses, exceptions and variations and advantages and disadvantages to both. As the old cliche goes, the journalists provides the first draft of history. From there, it is up to the historian, and sometimes the journalists becomes the historian who writes the later drafts, which I hope is what I did. In that sense, I think I made the transition from journalist to historian with my book. I have two books on my bookshelf I can see from where I am writing this. One is by Robert Blakey and Richard Billings, entitled: The Plot to Kill the President and subtitled Organized Crime Assassinated J.F.K. The other is entitled The Last Investigation, by Gaeton Fonzi. Blakey was the staff director for the House Select Committee on Assassinations; Fonzi was a committee investigator. In their books, they come to, or in the case of Fonzi, at least imply, different conclusions as to who killed JFK. Blakey says the mafia, Fonzi inplies it was rouge CIA folks and Cuban exiles. For me, they are somewhat of a metaphor as to why both historians nor journalists are reluctant to get entangled with the Kennedy Assassination. We still don't know if Lincoln's assassination was a conspiracy and we probably won't know a hundred years from now whether Kennedy's assassination was a conspiracy. So why would a serious historian or investigative journalist waste time time on amorphous conspiracy theories they likely will never be answered to anyone's satisfication? As virtually every year in recent times, including 2005, there will be two, three or four new books that will come out on the anniversary of Kennedy's assassination - all with different theories purporting to identify those responsible for the assassination. Regarding Iran/Contra, I would respectfully disagree - at least on the journalistic side - that it was not well covered. The Miami Herald, for whom I worked at the time, won a Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of Iran/Contra for which I was one of the editors. There is - as a recall although it has been sometime since I read it - an excellent book entitled Landslide, written by Jane Mayer & Doyle McManus [two journalists] that focuses heavily on Iran/Contra, a scandal for which several officials were indicted and went to jail. While it was a big deal at the time, in view of what has been going on in Washington it would now appear to be pretty small potatoes. But I suspect some enterprising historian will eventually revisit it in the not to distant future, perhaps as a doctoral thesis.
  5. I don't really consider myself an investigative journalist, but more a foreign affairs report and analyst, particularly of the Western Hemisphere. That is also what I consider my book, The Castro Obsession, to be: an in depth analysis of the subject and the period period covered. In other words, just a much more detailed effort at the types kinds of articles I wrote during much of my four decade plus journalistic career at The Miami Herald. To me, at least, the most significant difference between a journalist - investigative and otherwise - and an historian, is that a journalist relies much more heavily on what he sees and hears than a historian, who depends largely on the written record available to him or her. There are, of courses, exceptions and variations and advantages and disadvantages to both. As the old cliche goes, the journalists provides the first draft of history. From there, it is up to the historian, and sometimes the journalists becomes the historian who writes the later drafts, which I hope is what I did. In that sense, I think I made the transition from journalist to historian with my book. Again, from a journalist's perspective, probably anything you write that has your name on it - even an obituary - has the potential for getting you into trouble with someone, especially if you make an error. That is why it is so essential for a journalist to get his facts right; if the facts are right it is much more difficult for even those with power and influence to get you into trouble. I don't think I personally, as a journalist, tend to write about controversial subjects, unless you call politics a controversial subject. I certainly have written some things that people don't agree with, but rather than investigative reporting they are usually more of an analytical nature. In that respect, I really don't consider myself an "investigative journalists" in the fashion of Seymour Hersh, for example, who combines exposes with a bit of analysis. I focus more on analysis, based on interviews and research, than the reporter who goes out to seek corruption in the police department. I have two books on my bookshelf I can see from where I am writing this. One is by Robert Blakey and Richard Billings, entitled: The Plot to Kill the President and subtitled Organized Crime Assassinated J.F.K. The other is entitled The Last Investigation, by Gaeton Fonzi. Blakey was the staff director for the House Select Committee on Assassinations; Fonzi was a committee investigator. In their books, they come to, or in the case of Fonzi, at least imply, different conclusions as to who killed JFK. Blakey says the mafia, Fonzi inplies it was rouge CIA folks and Cuban exiles. For me, they are somewhat of a metaphor as to why both historians nor journalists are reluctant to get entangled with the Kennedy Assassination. We still don't know if Lincoln's assassination was a conspiracy and we probably won't know a hundred years from now whether Kennedy's assassination was a conspiracy. So why would a serious historian or investigative journalist waste time time on amorphous conspiracy theories they likely will never be answered to anyone's satisfication? As virtually every year in recent times, including 2005, there will be two, three or four new books that will come out on the anniversary of Kennedy's assassination - all with different theories purporting to identify those responsible for the assassination. Regarding Iran/Contra, I would respectfully disagree - at least on the journalistic side - that it was not well covered. The Miami Herald, for whom I worked at the time, won a Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of Iran/Contra for which I was one of the editors. There is - as a recall although it has been sometime since I read it - an excellent book entitled Landslide, written by Jane Mayer & Doyle McManus [two journalists] that focuses heavily on Iran/Contra, a scandal for which several officials were indicted and went to jail. While it was a big deal at the time, in view of what has been going on in Washington it would now appear to be pretty small potatoes. But I suspect some enterprising historian will eventually revisit it in the not to distant future, perhaps as a doctoral thesis. I speak only for myself here, but I wrote my book, The Castro Obsession: US Covert Operations Against Cuba 1959-1965, for two reasons: to satisfy my own curiousity and to help complete the historical record. I had lived in South Florida and worked for The Miami Herald at the time all the activity was secretly taking place. While one was generally aware that something was going on, its full scope began to slowly emerge with the Church Committee hearings in the mid-1970s on Alleged Assassination Plots Against Foreign Leaders. With the end of the Cold War an increasing amount of documents were being declassified and those involved became much more willing to discuss their roles. I was fortunately enough to have gotten to know some of the participants in the 1960s and others in the 1990s after they retired so began doing interviews with them in the mid-1990s. I also relied on numerous other authors, articles, reports and documents but to me, the interviews were the most important, providing some human context to the written words already available As for credibility, having worked as a journalist form nearly 50 years, I think my intiution is quite reliable in judging whether people I am interviewing are being truthful. As far as documents and whether illegal behavior taking place, it was not a problem I was confronted with in writing my book, given the time that had passed and since no illegal behavior apparently occurred by anyone involved, unless you consider assassination attempts against Castro illegal behavior, which I doubt anyone did at the time, even though they may or may not have been authorized by the sitting president. I think it is partially answered in my response to Question #6. I suspect there will be more books written by historians on the subjects cited above after historians have further time to digest the information available. I suspect, also, the historian is a bit more concerned about damaging his legacy and thus a bit more cautious in drawing conclusions than the journalist is, judging by some of the books that have appeared so far on the subjects above.
  6. An interview with Don Bohning.

    I don't really consider myself an investigative journalist, but more a foreign affairs report and analyst, particularly of the Western Hemisphere. That is also what I consider my book, The Castro Obsession, to be: an in depth analysis of the subject and the period period covered. In other words, just a much more detailed effort at the types kinds of articles I wrote during much of my four decade plus journalistic career at The Miami Herald. To me, at least, the most significant difference between a journalist - investigative and otherwise - and an historian, is that a journalist relies much more heavily on what he sees and hears than a historian, who depends largely on the written record available to him or her. There are, of courses, exceptions and variations and advantages and disadvantages to both. As the old cliche goes, the journalists provides the first draft of history. From there, it is up to the historian, and sometimes the journalists becomes the historian who writes the later drafts, which I hope is what I did. In that sense, I think I made the transition from journalist to historian with my book. Again, from a journalist's perspective, probably anything you write that has your name on it - even an obituary - has the potential for getting you into trouble with someone, especially if you make an error. That is why it is so essential for a journalist to get his facts right; if the facts are right it is much more difficult for even those with power and influence to get you into trouble. I don't think I personally, as a journalist, tend to write about controversial subjects, unless you call politics a controversial subject. I certainly have written some things that people don't agree with, but rather than investigative reporting they are usually more of an analytical nature. In that respect, I really don't consider myself an "investigative journalists" in the fashion of Seymour Hersh, for example, who combines exposes with a bit of analysis. I focus more on analysis, based on interviews and research, than the reporter who goes out to seek corruption in the police department. I have two books on my bookshelf I can see from where I am writing this. One is by Robert Blakey and Richard Billings, entitled: The Plot to Kill the President and subtitled Organized Crime Assassinated J.F.K. The other is entitled The Last Investigation, by Gaeton Fonzi. Blakey was the staff director for the House Select Committee on Assassinations; Fonzi was a committee investigator. In their books, they come to, or in the case of Fonzi, at least imply, different conclusions as to who killed JFK. Blakey says the mafia, Fonzi inplies it was rouge CIA folks and Cuban exiles. For me, they are somewhat of a metaphor as to why both historians nor journalists are reluctant to get entangled with the Kennedy Assassination. We still don't know if Lincoln's assassination was a conspiracy and we probably won't know a hundred years from now whether Kennedy's assassination was a conspiracy. So why would a serious historian or investigative journalist waste time time on amorphous conspiracy theories they likely will never be answered to anyone's satisfication? As virtually every year in recent times, including 2005, there will be two, three or four new books that will come out on the anniversary of Kennedy's assassination - all with different theories purporting to identify those responsible for the assassination. Regarding Iran/Contra, I would respectfully disagree - at least on the journalistic side - that it was not well covered. The Miami Herald, for whom I worked at the time, won a Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of Iran/Contra for which I was one of the editors. There is - as a recall although it has been sometime since I read it - an excellent book entitled Landslide, written by Jane Mayer & Doyle McManus [two journalists] that focuses heavily on Iran/Contra, a scandal for which several officials were indicted and went to jail. While it was a big deal at the time, in view of what has been going on in Washington it would now appear to be pretty small potatoes. But I suspect some enterprising historian will eventually revisit it in the not to distant future, perhaps as a doctoral thesis. I speak only for myself here, but I wrote my book, The Castro Obsession: US Covert Operations Against Cuba 1959-1965, for two reasons: to satisfy my own curiousity and to help complete the historical record. I had lived in South Florida and worked for The Miami Herald at the time all the activity was secretly taking place. While one was generally aware that something was going on, its full scope began to slowly emerge with the Church Committee hearings in the mid-1970s on Alleged Assassination Plots Against Foreign Leaders. With the end of the Cold War an increasing amount of documents were being declassified and those involved became much more willing to discuss their roles. I was fortunately enough to have gotten to know some of the participants in the 1960s and others in the 1990s after they retired so began doing interviews with them in the mid-1990s. I also relied on numerous other authors, articles, reports and documents but to me, the interviews were the most important, providing some human context to the written words already available As for credibility, having worked as a journalist form nearly 50 years, I think my intiution is quite reliable in judging whether people I am interviewing are being truthful. As far as documents and whether illegal behavior taking place, it was not a problem I was confronted with in writing my book, given the time that had passed and since no illegal behavior apparently occurred by anyone involved, unless you consider assassination attempts against Castro illegal behavior, which I doubt anyone did at the time, even though they may or may not have been authorized by the sitting president. I think it is partially answered in my response to Question #6. I suspect there will be more books written by historians on the subjects cited above after historians have further time to digest the information available. I suspect, also, the historian is a bit more concerned about damaging his legacy and thus a bit more cautious in drawing conclusions than the journalist is, judging by some of the books that have appeared so far on the subjects above.
  7. 1. While I had not heard of it, I am not surprised that there was something called a secret anti-Castro activity called AMWORLD, either for a CIA operation or a broader government wide operation [such as Mongoose] during 1963. When I was researching by book, the Castro Obsession, I was a bit puzzled by the fact that the various covert activities that year - with the exception of AMLASH/Cubela; and AMTRUNK - did not have a code name; they included Oliva's consolidation of all Cubans into a single unit in the US Army; Artime's activities in Central America Hinckle and Turner say it was called Second Naval Guerrilla but both Rafael Quintero and Sam Halpern told me they never heard of any such thing]; Commandos Mambises, and the hit and run sabotage operation run by JMWAVE out of Miami, etc., all of which I describe in detail in my book. But reading some of the Ultimate Sacrifice excerpts etc., it is clear to me that they are talking about some of the same things. 2. It’s no secret that Cyrus Vance was leading a good bit of the effort although the entire anti-Castro operation according to documents was overseen the State Department’s Coordinator of Cuban Affairs, beginning in early January 1963. That job initially was held by Sterling Cottrell who was succeeded by John Crimmins. 3. Alexander Haig, in his book, INNER CIRCLES [page 109] identifies "Cyrus Vance as the executive agent for the entire federal government in dealing with Cuba and the threat the Castro's regime posed to the Western Hemisphere. This included responsibility for coordinating a secret war against Cuba that encompassed sabotage, commando raises, and propaganda and other clandestine activities." That could have been AMWORLD. 4. I do not believe, however, there was a Dec. 1, 1963 date scheduled for an invasion of Cuba nor do I believe - as indicated by what I have read of Waldron's account - that the Mafia was involved in this effort. 5. The authors say the pledge against an invasion never went into effect because Castro refused on-site inspections of the missile withdrawals. Whether the no-invasion pledge was valid or not is still an open question. It came up again in the early 1970s during the Nixon administration when the Soviets were sending nuclear powered submarines to Cienfuegos for refueling and, to the best of my recollection, the no invasion pledge was still in dispute. Minutes of a Nov. 12, 1962, Excom meeting, notes that: “The President commented that an assurance covering invasion does not ban covert actions or an economic blockade or tie our hands completely. We can’t give the impression that Castro is home free.” I don’t think there is any documentation that shows Kennedy considered the pledge null and void. Subsequent documents make it clear that U2 inspection overflights were ongoing to verify missile withdrawal, with Washington concerned a U2 might be downed by a SAM missile. As outlined by the authors, the no-invasion pledge would not have applied in any event, if there was a coup in Cuba and the coup leaders asked for international help. 6. It sounds like a cop-out to me where the authors say they know, but won’t identify, the so-called “coup leader.” The excuse about violating national security laws at this late date is pretty lame. I doubt that anyone would prosecute them. 7. Another graph says they have discovered a Dec. 10, 1963, cable sent to the CIA director, and attributed to a “western diplomat”, reporting “Che Guevara was alleged to be under house arrest for plotting to overthrow Castro.” Having worked at the Miami Herald’s Latin staff for many years, I can’t tell you how many similar unfounded rumors - from such sources - kept popping up, ranging from Castro’s assassination to Guevara’s disappearance. If Guevara had been under house arrest for plotting to overthrow Castro, he never would have been allowed to leave Cuba. 8. They say Cy Vance was the “only man” who knew everything about this plot besides Robert Kennedy, and that Vance “was one of the few military leaders who knew the full scope of C-Day while the plan was active.” The reason that Vance drafted the plan - if he did - is because under a new June 19, 1963, multi-agency covert action program against Cuba, Vance, as Secretary of the Army, was designated by President Kennedy as “the executive agent for the entire federal government in dealing with Cuba [Al Haig, Inner Circles, page 109]. 9. Among others were generals, Max Taylor, Joe Carroll, etc. along with John McCone, Richard Helms, Des Fitzgerald and key field operatives such as David Morales and Dave Phillips. They say there is no evidence that J. Edgar Hoover knew about it. Why should Hoover know? He didn’t know anything about any of the other covert operations against Cuba either, Bay of Pigs, Mongoose, etc. Others likely to have known about such a plan were Joe Califano [Vance’s aide] and Alexander Haig, then an Army colonel, both actively involved in the anti-Castro efforts. Both are still alive, both have written memoirs. I interviewed Haig at his home in West Palm Beach for my own book and we discussed Cuba extensively. He gave no indication such a plan existed. Califano refused several interview requests, but he does deal with Cuba in a chapter in his 2004 book and reiterates again that both he and LBJ think Castro had a hand in the assassination. 10. I find it difficult to believe that if the coup plan as it is described by the authors existed, that we would not have heard of it previously. Several of the people listed above have written memoirs, i.e, Helms, Phillips, etc. and make no mention of it, even though they discuss other such covert operations. The authors also error in saying that the CIA planed to assassinate Castro began in 1959 under Vice President Nixon. I also dispute that the CIA – without telling the Kennedys – was continuing to work with the Mafia on plot against Castro in the fall of 1963. I don’t believe that. And there is certainly no indication of that in either the Church committee report or the CIA IG’S 1967 report on plots to assassinate Castro. In fact, the Church Committee says explicitly that: “the first action against the life of a Cuban leader sponsored by the CIA” occurred in July 1960. 11. It is also odd, that the authors don’t mention Sam Giancani, who was involved with the CIA in assassination plots against Castro. There were two CIA/Mafia plots to assassinate Castro, one originated with Richard Bissell [or Sheffield Edwards, depending on who you believe] in August 1960; Robert Kennedy, according to declassified documents, became aware of it in May 1962 when he was alerted by Hoover that he had evidence Giancani’s girlfriend was sleeping with the President. Bobby then got a briefing from Lawrence Houston, the CIA's general consul, and Sheffield Edwards, the CIA’S security chief on the first Mafia-CIA attempt against Castro. The only other recorded Mafia-CIA attempt to assassinate Castro was underway at the same time – unknown to Bobby Kennedy – this time under the direction of Bill Harvey, head of Task Force W, the CIA component of Operation Mongoose. It was essentially a resurrection of the failed earlier Mafia plot. 12. The authors also mention Operation Amtrunk as being a CIA operation which looked for disaffected Cuban military officers. It was a CIA operation, but one that was forced on the CIA. The operation originated – as shown in declassified documents in my possession - with two Miamians exiled from Cuba, George Volsky. Their codename for it was Operation Leonardo. Logistical support for it was essentially forced on the CIA by the Kennedy White House, through the influence of NYTimes correspondent Tad Szulc, a close friend of Volsky’s. 13. It appears the authors rely heavily on Enrique Ruiz-Williams. While he was very close to Bobby Kennedy, I think he was less important the he led the authors to believe and not nearly as important – or any closer to – Bobby Kennedy than Erneido Oliva [who is not even indexed in the book. Oliva was designated by President Kennedy [an article appeared in the NYTimes] as the representative of the Bay of Pigs Brigade. His liaison at the Pentagon was Al Haig. 14. My own conclusion is that AMWORLD – if that is the codename for the operation – was one among many potential plans to get rid of Castro and that it was “a just in case” plan, that may or may not have been tied in with AMLASH [Rolando Cubela] and perhaps Manuel Artime and Erneido Oliva, both captured at the Bay of Pigs, who became very close to Bobby Kennedy. As noted in my own book [see pages 187-188], and as related to me by Oliva, he and Artime [Ruiz-Williams was not present] met in mid-January 1963 with Bobby Kennedy – less than a month after they had been released from Cuban prisoners - they met Kennedy at his home in Hickory Hill, Virgina. There, according to Oliva, he outlined a new anti-Castro plan to them. Artime would set up guerrilla camps in Central America and Oliva would integrate all the Cubans in the US military into a single unit and the two projects would eventually mesh. 15. In their excerpts summary, the authors express amazement at one point that “a check of newspaper files from the summer and fall of 1963 uncovered a few articles confirming that there had been activity by Kennedy-backed Cuban exiles in Central America at the time.” No wonder, because by then, Artime’s deputy, Rafael Quintero had been traveling back and forth to Costa Rica and Nicaragua arranging to set up the Artime camps with about 300 recruits and it had already started to get attention in the Miami newspapers. 16. I have a series of lengthy declassified documents obtained at the LBJ Library in Austin, prepared in advance of a Dec. 19, 1963, briefing for LBJ Cuba, including a 22-page draft document dated Dec. 15, 1963 that reviews “Current Cuba Policy.” It starts out by noting that: “The bare minimum objective of our police is a Cuba which poses no threat to its neighbors and which is not a Soviet satellite. In moving towards this objective we have rejected the options of unprovoked U.S. military intervention in Cuba and of an effective, total blockade around Cuba – primarily because they would risk another US/USSR confrontation. Instead, we are engaged in a variety of unilateral, bilateral, and multilateral measures, both defensive and offensive, which stop short of these drastic measures.” MY OWN COMMENT: It hardly seems likely that such a memorandum for the president would be written two weeks after an alleged invasion was scheduled without any mention of it. 17. Finally, I close with an email exchange with Oliva on March 28, 2000, as a followup to an interview I had with him earlier that month in Washington. Q – Did anyone else attend the January 1963 meeting at Hickory Hill in addition to Bobby Kennedy, Artime and yourself? A – No one else was present during that particular meeting with Bobby Kennedy. However, the information I provided to you can be easily corroborated. Artime spent more than six million dollars in Central America with its paramilitary operations and I was, until the end of the program, in charge of the military side as Alexander Haig states in his Inner Circle book. Q – What exactly did Bobby Kennedy tell you other than they were going to fund the Artime program with $6 million and create the Cuban unit in the U.S. military? A – That was the main topic of our conversation? Q – Did he at anytime indicate that it would eventually lead to Castro’s overthrow? And, if so, by invasion or a joint operation between the Cuban unit and Artime’s group? A – At that time it was not discussed any invasion of Cuba. Only that the two programs would eventually join forces to facilitate the liberation of Cuba. How? I never asked that, but the commitment on my program was open to the public to see. I have in my possession many clippings of interviews I granted while training at Fort Benning and Fort Sill. In those interviews my expectations and understanding of the training provided by the US Army, Navy and Air Force. Q – You said you finished your plan – requested in September (1963) – for the Cuban unit in December whey they told you it was no longer needed. Can you tell me if the plan contemplated an invasion? A – As stated before, no. Q – What exactly was Artime’s group supposed to accomplish? A – By attacking targets of opportunity [in Cuba], infiltrating personnel to reorganize the underground in Cuba, he would have created the favorable conditions for a larger military action against Castro. All this, of course, after the famous – or infamous – K-K [Kennedy-Khrushchev/NO INVASION] pact.
  8. Ultimate Sacrifice: Salon Review

    1. While I had not heard of it, I am not surprised that there was something called a secret anti-Castro activity called AMWORLD, either for a CIA operation or a broader government wide operation [such as Mongoose] during 1963. When I was researching by book, the Castro Obsession, I was a bit puzzled by the fact that the various covert activities that year - with the exception of AMLASH/Cubela; and AMTRUNK - did not have a code name; they included Oliva's consolidation of all Cubans into a single unit in the US Army; Artime's activities in Central America Hinckle and Turner say it was called Second Naval Guerrilla but both Rafael Quintero and Sam Halpern told me they never heard of any such thing]; Commandos Mambises, and the hit and run sabotage operation run by JMWAVE out of Miami, etc., all of which I describe in detail in my book. But reading some of the Ultimate Sacrifice excerpts etc., it is clear to me that they are talking about some of the same things. 2. It’s no secret that Cyrus Vance was leading a good bit of the effort although the entire anti-Castro operation according to documents was overseen the State Department’s Coordinator of Cuban Affairs, beginning in early January 1963. That job initially was held by Sterling Cottrell who was succeeded by John Crimmins. 3. Alexander Haig, in his book, INNER CIRCLES [page 109] identifies "Cyrus Vance as the executive agent for the entire federal government in dealing with Cuba and the threat the Castro's regime posed to the Western Hemisphere. This included responsibility for coordinating a secret war against Cuba that encompassed sabotage, commando raises, and propaganda and other clandestine activities." That could have been AMWORLD. 4. I do not believe, however, there was a Dec. 1, 1963 date scheduled for an invasion of Cuba nor do I believe - as indicated by what I have read of Waldron's account - that the Mafia was involved in this effort. 5. The authors say the pledge against an invasion never went into effect because Castro refused on-site inspections of the missile withdrawals. Whether the no-invasion pledge was valid or not is still an open question. It came up again in the early 1970s during the Nixon administration when the Soviets were sending nuclear powered submarines to Cienfuegos for refueling and, to the best of my recollection, the no invasion pledge was still in dispute. Minutes of a Nov. 12, 1962, Excom meeting, notes that: “The President commented that an assurance covering invasion does not ban covert actions or an economic blockade or tie our hands completely. We can’t give the impression that Castro is home free.” I don’t think there is any documentation that shows Kennedy considered the pledge null and void. Subsequent documents make it clear that U2 inspection overflights were ongoing to verify missile withdrawal, with Washington concerned a U2 might be downed by a SAM missile. As outlined by the authors, the no-invasion pledge would not have applied in any event, if there was a coup in Cuba and the coup leaders asked for international help. 6. It sounds like a cop-out to me where the authors say they know, but won’t identify, the so-called “coup leader.” The excuse about violating national security laws at this late date is pretty lame. I doubt that anyone would prosecute them. 7. Another graph says they have discovered a Dec. 10, 1963, cable sent to the CIA director, and attributed to a “western diplomat”, reporting “Che Guevara was alleged to be under house arrest for plotting to overthrow Castro.” Having worked at the Miami Herald’s Latin staff for many years, I can’t tell you how many similar unfounded rumors - from such sources - kept popping up, ranging from Castro’s assassination to Guevara’s disappearance. If Guevara had been under house arrest for plotting to overthrow Castro, he never would have been allowed to leave Cuba. 8. They say Cy Vance was the “only man” who knew everything about this plot besides Robert Kennedy, and that Vance “was one of the few military leaders who knew the full scope of C-Day while the plan was active.” The reason that Vance drafted the plan - if he did - is because under a new June 19, 1963, multi-agency covert action program against Cuba, Vance, as Secretary of the Army, was designated by President Kennedy as “the executive agent for the entire federal government in dealing with Cuba [Al Haig, Inner Circles, page 109]. 9. Among others were generals, Max Taylor, Joe Carroll, etc. along with John McCone, Richard Helms, Des Fitzgerald and key field operatives such as David Morales and Dave Phillips. They say there is no evidence that J. Edgar Hoover knew about it. Why should Hoover know? He didn’t know anything about any of the other covert operations against Cuba either, Bay of Pigs, Mongoose, etc. Others likely to have known about such a plan were Joe Califano [Vance’s aide] and Alexander Haig, then an Army colonel, both actively involved in the anti-Castro efforts. Both are still alive, both have written memoirs. I interviewed Haig at his home in West Palm Beach for my own book and we discussed Cuba extensively. He gave no indication such a plan existed. Califano refused several interview requests, but he does deal with Cuba in a chapter in his 2004 book and reiterates again that both he and LBJ think Castro had a hand in the assassination. 10. I find it difficult to believe that if the coup plan as it is described by the authors existed, that we would not have heard of it previously. Several of the people listed above have written memoirs, i.e, Helms, Phillips, etc. and make no mention of it, even though they discuss other such covert operations. The authors also error in saying that the CIA planed to assassinate Castro began in 1959 under Vice President Nixon. I also dispute that the CIA – without telling the Kennedys – was continuing to work with the Mafia on plot against Castro in the fall of 1963. I don’t believe that. And there is certainly no indication of that in either the Church committee report or the CIA IG’S 1967 report on plots to assassinate Castro. In fact, the Church Committee says explicitly that: “the first action against the life of a Cuban leader sponsored by the CIA” occurred in July 1960. 11. It is also odd, that the authors don’t mention Sam Giancani, who was involved with the CIA in assassination plots against Castro. There were two CIA/Mafia plots to assassinate Castro, one originated with Richard Bissell [or Sheffield Edwards, depending on who you believe] in August 1960; Robert Kennedy, according to declassified documents, became aware of it in May 1962 when he was alerted by Hoover that he had evidence Giancani’s girlfriend was sleeping with the President. Bobby then got a briefing from Lawrence Houston, the CIA's general consul, and Sheffield Edwards, the CIA’S security chief on the first Mafia-CIA attempt against Castro. The only other recorded Mafia-CIA attempt to assassinate Castro was underway at the same time – unknown to Bobby Kennedy – this time under the direction of Bill Harvey, head of Task Force W, the CIA component of Operation Mongoose. It was essentially a resurrection of the failed earlier Mafia plot. 12. The authors also mention Operation Amtrunk as being a CIA operation which looked for disaffected Cuban military officers. It was a CIA operation, but one that was forced on the CIA. The operation originated – as shown in declassified documents in my possession - with two Miamians exiled from Cuba, George Volsky. Their codename for it was Operation Leonardo. Logistical support for it was essentially forced on the CIA by the Kennedy White House, through the influence of NYTimes correspondent Tad Szulc, a close friend of Volsky’s. 13. It appears the authors rely heavily on Enrique Ruiz-Williams. While he was very close to Bobby Kennedy, I think he was less important the he led the authors to believe and not nearly as important – or any closer to – Bobby Kennedy than Erneido Oliva [who is not even indexed in the book. Oliva was designated by President Kennedy [an article appeared in the NYTimes] as the representative of the Bay of Pigs Brigade. His liaison at the Pentagon was Al Haig. 14. My own conclusion is that AMWORLD – if that is the codename for the operation – was one among many potential plans to get rid of Castro and that it was “a just in case” plan, that may or may not have been tied in with AMLASH [Rolando Cubela] and perhaps Manuel Artime and Erneido Oliva, both captured at the Bay of Pigs, who became very close to Bobby Kennedy. As noted in my own book [see pages 187-188], and as related to me by Oliva, he and Artime [Ruiz-Williams was not present] met in mid-January 1963 with Bobby Kennedy – less than a month after they had been released from Cuban prisoners - they met Kennedy at his home in Hickory Hill, Virgina. There, according to Oliva, he outlined a new anti-Castro plan to them. Artime would set up guerrilla camps in Central America and Oliva would integrate all the Cubans in the US military into a single unit and the two projects would eventually mesh. 15. In their excerpts summary, the authors express amazement at one point that “a check of newspaper files from the summer and fall of 1963 uncovered a few articles confirming that there had been activity by Kennedy-backed Cuban exiles in Central America at the time.” No wonder, because by then, Artime’s deputy, Rafael Quintero had been traveling back and forth to Costa Rica and Nicaragua arranging to set up the Artime camps with about 300 recruits and it had already started to get attention in the Miami newspapers. 16. I have a series of lengthy declassified documents obtained at the LBJ Library in Austin, prepared in advance of a Dec. 19, 1963, briefing for LBJ Cuba, including a 22-page draft document dated Dec. 15, 1963 that reviews “Current Cuba Policy.” It starts out by noting that: “The bare minimum objective of our police is a Cuba which poses no threat to its neighbors and which is not a Soviet satellite. In moving towards this objective we have rejected the options of unprovoked U.S. military intervention in Cuba and of an effective, total blockade around Cuba – primarily because they would risk another US/USSR confrontation. Instead, we are engaged in a variety of unilateral, bilateral, and multilateral measures, both defensive and offensive, which stop short of these drastic measures.” MY OWN COMMENT: It hardly seems likely that such a memorandum for the president would be written two weeks after an alleged invasion was scheduled without any mention of it. 17. Finally, I close with an email exchange with Oliva on March 28, 2000, as a followup to an interview I had with him earlier that month in Washington. Q – Did anyone else attend the January 1963 meeting at Hickory Hill in addition to Bobby Kennedy, Artime and yourself? A – No one else was present during that particular meeting with Bobby Kennedy. However, the information I provided to you can be easily corroborated. Artime spent more than six million dollars in Central America with its paramilitary operations and I was, until the end of the program, in charge of the military side as Alexander Haig states in his Inner Circle book. Q – What exactly did Bobby Kennedy tell you other than they were going to fund the Artime program with $6 million and create the Cuban unit in the U.S. military? A – That was the main topic of our conversation? Q – Did he at anytime indicate that it would eventually lead to Castro’s overthrow? And, if so, by invasion or a joint operation between the Cuban unit and Artime’s group? A – At that time it was not discussed any invasion of Cuba. Only that the two programs would eventually join forces to facilitate the liberation of Cuba. How? I never asked that, but the commitment on my program was open to the public to see. I have in my possession many clippings of interviews I granted while training at Fort Benning and Fort Sill. In those interviews my expectations and understanding of the training provided by the US Army, Navy and Air Force. Q – You said you finished your plan – requested in September (1963) – for the Cuban unit in December whey they told you it was no longer needed. Can you tell me if the plan contemplated an invasion? A – As stated before, no. Q – What exactly was Artime’s group supposed to accomplish? A – By attacking targets of opportunity [in Cuba], infiltrating personnel to reorganize the underground in Cuba, he would have created the favorable conditions for a larger military action against Castro. All this, of course, after the famous – or infamous – K-K [Kennedy-Khrushchev/NO INVASION] pact.
  9. 1. While I had not heard of it, I am not surprised that there was something called a secret anti-Castro activity called AMWORLD, either for a CIA operation or a broader government wide operation [such as Mongoose] during 1963. When I was researching by book, the Castro Obsession, I was a bit puzzled by the fact that the various covert activities that year - with the exception of AMLASH/Cubela; and AMTRUNK - did not have a code name; they included Oliva's consolidation of all Cubans into a single unit in the US Army; Artime's activities in Central America Hinckle and Turner say it was called Second Naval Guerrilla but both Rafael Quintero and Sam Halpern told me they never heard of any such thing]; Commandos Mambises, and the hit and run sabotage operation run by JMWAVE out of Miami, etc., all of which I describe in detail in my book. But reading some of the Ultimate Sacrifice excerpts etc., it is clear to me that they are talking about some of the same things. 2. It’s no secret that Cyrus Vance was leading a good bit of the effort although the entire anti-Castro operation according to documents was overseen the State Department’s Coordinator of Cuban Affairs, beginning in early January 1963. That job initially was held by Sterling Cottrell who was succeeded by John Crimmins. 3. Alexander Haig, in his book, INNER CIRCLES [page 109] identifies "Cyrus Vance as the executive agent for the entire federal government in dealing with Cuba and the threat the Castro's regime posed to the Western Hemisphere. This included responsibility for coordinating a secret war against Cuba that encompassed sabotage, commando raises, and propaganda and other clandestine activities." That could have been AMWORLD. 4. I do not believe, however, there was a Dec. 1, 1963 date scheduled for an invasion of Cuba nor do I believe - as indicated by what I have read of Waldron's account - that the Mafia was involved in this effort. 5. The authors say the pledge against an invasion never went into effect because Castro refused on-site inspections of the missile withdrawals. Whether the no-invasion pledge was valid or not is still an open question. It came up again in the early 1970s during the Nixon administration when the Soviets were sending nuclear powered submarines to Cienfuegos for refueling and, to the best of my recollection, the no invasion pledge was still in dispute. Minutes of a Nov. 12, 1962, Excom meeting, notes that: “The President commented that an assurance covering invasion does not ban covert actions or an economic blockade or tie our hands completely. We can’t give the impression that Castro is home free.” I don’t think there is any documentation that shows Kennedy considered the pledge null and void. Subsequent documents make it clear that U2 inspection overflights were ongoing to verify missile withdrawal, with Washington concerned a U2 might be downed by a SAM missile. As outlined by the authors, the no-invasion pledge would not have applied in any event, if there was a coup in Cuba and the coup leaders asked for international help. 6. It sounds like a cop-out to me where the authors say they know, but won’t identify, the so-called “coup leader.” The excuse about violating national security laws at this late date is pretty lame. I doubt that anyone would prosecute them. 7. Another graph says they have discovered a Dec. 10, 1963, cable sent to the CIA director, and attributed to a “western diplomat”, reporting “Che Guevara was alleged to be under house arrest for plotting to overthrow Castro.” Having worked at the Miami Herald’s Latin staff for many years, I can’t tell you how many similar unfounded rumors - from such sources - kept popping up, ranging from Castro’s assassination to Guevara’s disappearance. If Guevara had been under house arrest for plotting to overthrow Castro, he never would have been allowed to leave Cuba. 8. They say Cy Vance was the “only man” who knew everything about this plot besides Robert Kennedy, and that Vance “was one of the few military leaders who knew the full scope of C-Day while the plan was active.” The reason that Vance drafted the plan - if he did - is because under a new June 19, 1963, multi-agency covert action program against Cuba, Vance, as Secretary of the Army, was designated by President Kennedy as “the executive agent for the entire federal government in dealing with Cuba [Al Haig, Inner Circles, page 109]. 9. Among others were generals, Max Taylor, Joe Carroll, etc. along with John McCone, Richard Helms, Des Fitzgerald and key field operatives such as David Morales and Dave Phillips. They say there is no evidence that J. Edgar Hoover knew about it. Why should Hoover know? He didn’t know anything about any of the other covert operations against Cuba either, Bay of Pigs, Mongoose, etc. Others likely to have known about such a plan were Joe Califano [Vance’s aide] and Alexander Haig, then an Army colonel, both actively involved in the anti-Castro efforts. Both are still alive, both have written memoirs. I interviewed Haig at his home in West Palm Beach for my own book and we discussed Cuba extensively. He gave no indication such a plan existed. Califano refused several interview requests, but he does deal with Cuba in a chapter in his 2004 book and reiterates again that both he and LBJ think Castro had a hand in the assassination. 10. I find it difficult to believe that if the coup plan as it is described by the authors existed, that we would not have heard of it previously. Several of the people listed above have written memoirs, i.e, Helms, Phillips, etc. and make no mention of it, even though they discuss other such covert operations. The authors also error in saying that the CIA planed to assassinate Castro began in 1959 under Vice President Nixon. I also dispute that the CIA – without telling the Kennedys – was continuing to work with the Mafia on plot against Castro in the fall of 1963. I don’t believe that. And there is certainly no indication of that in either the Church committee report or the CIA IG’S 1967 report on plots to assassinate Castro. In fact, the Church Committee says explicitly that: “the first action against the life of a Cuban leader sponsored by the CIA” occurred in July 1960. 11. It is also odd, that the authors don’t mention Sam Giancani, who was involved with the CIA in assassination plots against Castro. There were two CIA/Mafia plots to assassinate Castro, one originated with Richard Bissell [or Sheffield Edwards, depending on who you believe] in August 1960; Robert Kennedy, according to declassified documents, became aware of it in May 1962 when he was alerted by Hoover that he had evidence Giancani’s girlfriend was sleeping with the President. Bobby then got a briefing from Lawrence Houston, the CIA's general consul, and Sheffield Edwards, the CIA’S security chief on the first Mafia-CIA attempt against Castro. The only other recorded Mafia-CIA attempt to assassinate Castro was underway at the same time – unknown to Bobby Kennedy – this time under the direction of Bill Harvey, head of Task Force W, the CIA component of Operation Mongoose. It was essentially a resurrection of the failed earlier Mafia plot. 12. The authors also mention Operation Amtrunk as being a CIA operation which looked for disaffected Cuban military officers. It was a CIA operation, but one that was forced on the CIA. The operation originated – as shown in declassified documents in my possession - with two Miamians exiled from Cuba, George Volsky. Their codename for it was Operation Leonardo. Logistical support for it was essentially forced on the CIA by the Kennedy White House, through the influence of NYTimes correspondent Tad Szulc, a close friend of Volsky’s. 13. It appears the authors rely heavily on Enrique Ruiz-Williams. While he was very close to Bobby Kennedy, I think he was less important the he led the authors to believe and not nearly as important – or any closer to – Bobby Kennedy than Erneido Oliva [who is not even indexed in the book. Oliva was designated by President Kennedy [an article appeared in the NYTimes] as the representative of the Bay of Pigs Brigade. His liaison at the Pentagon was Al Haig. 14. My own conclusion is that AMWORLD – if that is the codename for the operation – was one among many potential plans to get rid of Castro and that it was “a just in case” plan, that may or may not have been tied in with AMLASH [Rolando Cubela] and perhaps Manuel Artime and Erneido Oliva, both captured at the Bay of Pigs, who became very close to Bobby Kennedy. As noted in my own book [see pages 187-188], and as related to me by Oliva, he and Artime [Ruiz-Williams was not present] met in mid-January 1963 with Bobby Kennedy – less than a month after they had been released from Cuban prisoners - they met Kennedy at his home in Hickory Hill, Virgina. There, according to Oliva, he outlined a new anti-Castro plan to them. Artime would set up guerrilla camps in Central America and Oliva would integrate all the Cubans in the US military into a single unit and the two projects would eventually mesh. 15. In their excerpts summary, the authors express amazement at one point that “a check of newspaper files from the summer and fall of 1963 uncovered a few articles confirming that there had been activity by Kennedy-backed Cuban exiles in Central America at the time.” No wonder, because by then, Artime’s deputy, Rafael Quintero had been traveling back and forth to Costa Rica and Nicaragua arranging to set up the Artime camps with about 300 recruits and it had already started to get attention in the Miami newspapers. 16. I have a series of lengthy declassified documents obtained at the LBJ Library in Austin, prepared in advance of a Dec. 19, 1963, briefing for LBJ Cuba, including a 22-page draft document dated Dec. 15, 1963 that reviews “Current Cuba Policy.” It starts out by noting that: “The bare minimum objective of our police is a Cuba which poses no threat to its neighbors and which is not a Soviet satellite. In moving towards this objective we have rejected the options of unprovoked U.S. military intervention in Cuba and of an effective, total blockade around Cuba – primarily because they would risk another US/USSR confrontation. Instead, we are engaged in a variety of unilateral, bilateral, and multilateral measures, both defensive and offensive, which stop short of these drastic measures.” MY OWN COMMENT: It hardly seems likely that such a memorandum for the president would be written two weeks after an alleged invasion was scheduled without any mention of it. 17. Finally, I close with an email exchange with Oliva on March 28, 2000, as a followup to an interview I had with him earlier that month in Washington. Q – Did anyone else attend the January 1963 meeting at Hickory Hill in addition to Bobby Kennedy, Artime and yourself? A – No one else was present during that particular meeting with Bobby Kennedy. However, the information I provided to you can be easily corroborated. Artime spent more than six million dollars in Central America with its paramilitary operations and I was, until the end of the program, in charge of the military side as Alexander Haig states in his Inner Circle book. Q – What exactly did Bobby Kennedy tell you other than they were going to fund the Artime program with $6 million and create the Cuban unit in the U.S. military? A – That was the main topic of our conversation? Q – Did he at anytime indicate that it would eventually lead to Castro’s overthrow? And, if so, by invasion or a joint operation between the Cuban unit and Artime’s group? A – At that time it was not discussed any invasion of Cuba. Only that the two programs would eventually join forces to facilitate the liberation of Cuba. How? I never asked that, but the commitment on my program was open to the public to see. I have in my possession many clippings of interviews I granted while training at Fort Benning and Fort Sill. In those interviews my expectations and understanding of the training provided by the US Army, Navy and Air Force. Q – You said you finished your plan – requested in September (1963) – for the Cuban unit in December whey they told you it was no longer needed. Can you tell me if the plan contemplated an invasion? A – As stated before, no. Q – What exactly was Artime’s group supposed to accomplish? A – By attacking targets of opportunity [in Cuba], infiltrating personnel to reorganize the underground in Cuba, he would have created the favorable conditions for a larger military action against Castro. All this, of course, after the famous – or infamous – K-K [Kennedy-Khrushchev/NO INVASION] pact.
  10. Did Fidel Kill Kennedy?

    I have a bit of a problem with those people who think the Kennedys were planning another invasion: At the same time I have no doubt they were hoping to provoke an uprising that would create the conditions for an invasion under Mongoose, or the subsequent covert program - and particularly the Artime autonomous group which operating from Costa Rica and Nicaragua. [Despite what some accounts say was code-named Second Naval Guerrilla, both Rafael Quintero, Artime's deputy, and Sam Halpern, executive assistant to Desmond Fitzgerald, the head of the Cuba task force at the time, both told me they never heard of.] As I recall, Gus Russo's book, Live by The Sword, also claims - as I recall without going back to look for it - that Kennedy was planning another invasion, coming to that conclusion by selectively citing from a declassified document by Robert McNamara.
  11. It is quite obvious to me that the person he refers to is Rolando Cubela, with whom Nestor Sanchez was meeting in Paris on Nov. 22, 1963, to give him a poison pen as part of a coup plot against Castro. I rather doubt the rest of the thesis that the Mafia penetrated the plot and took advantage of this veil of secrecy to kill JFK. That sounds like a real stretch to me. I have a bit of a problem with those people who think the Kennedys were planning another invasion: At the same time I have no doubt they were hoping to provoke an uprising that would create the conditions for an invasion under Mongoose, or the subsequent covert program - and particularly the Artime autonomous group which operating from Costa Rica and Nicaragua. [Despite what some accounts say was code-named Second Naval Guerrilla, both Rafael Quintero, Artime's deputy, and Sam Halpern, executive assistant to Desmond Fitzgerald, the head of the Cuba task force at the time, both told me they never heard of.] As I recall, Gus Russo's book, Live by The Sword, also claims - as I recall without going back to look for it - that Kennedy was planning another invasion, coming to that conclusion by selectively citing from a declassified document by Robert McNamara.
×