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John Simkin

William Harvey and MI5

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Tim Gratz reminded me that William Harvey is mentioned in Peter Wright’s book, Spycatcher. For those who don’t know the story, Wright was a senior MI5 officer. After he retired he had a dispute with MI5 over his pension. When they refused to pay him what he thought he deserved he moved to Tasmania and wrote his autobiography, Spycatcher. In the book he included a great deal about MI5 including a plot to oust the Labour prime minister (sound familiar). Wright also revealed details of MI5 assassination plots against foreign leaders (sound familiar).

The book was of course banned in the UK but it was published in Australia in 1987. Books were then smuggled into the UK. Eventually the government had to admit defeat and it was published in the UK.

The section on Harvey is very interesting. In 1960 it was decided that MI5 and the CIA should work together on certain projects. According to Wright this was the first time they had really done this. A meeting was arranged in 1961 that included the top figures in both organizations. Angleton then approached Wright and asked him if they could have a private meeting. Also at the meeting was Harvey. Wright held very right-wing views and this was obviously picked up by Angleton and Harvey. At the meeting Harvey did most of the talking. It sems the purpose of the meeting was to test Wright out. Harvey complained about how MI5 had done nothing about the growth of socialism in the UK. He implied that the CIA had been very successful in dealing with left-wing politicians in America.

Angleton asked Wright for another private meeting. Again Harvey did most of the talking. Harvey told Wright about their attempts to kill Castro. He asked Wright about MI5’s plots to kill Nasser in Egypt. Harvey then asked if MI5 could provide an assassination squad. He actually suggested a group of former SAS officers. Harvey had done his research and even identified a group of men who had been operating close to the Soviet border. Wright answered that SAS officers did not do “freelance” work.

I think this meeting is of importance. First of all it makes it clear that in 1961 Harvey was looking for someone other than the Mafia to kill Castro. It also shows that he was thinking of using former soldiers. Did this mean that he approached Interpen after his meeting with Wright?

The other issue about this meeting is - did it herald the beginning of the two organizations becoming involved in joint covert operations against their own governments? Wright admits that he was involved in a plot to destabilize Harold Wilson. They did this my spreading rumours that Wilson and several of his ministers were Soviet agents. This resulted in several ministers losing their jobs and one committed suicide when he was told his career was over (I am contact with this man’s son, one of the UK’s leading historians, who wants to clear his father’s name).

As with David Atlee Phillips’ autobiography, you can tell so much from looking at what has been left out of Wright's account. Despite its importance, Wright hardly mentions the John Profumo case. I am convinced that there is a direct connection between the Profumo affair and the Bobby Baker/Ellen Rometsch affair. I think the Profumo case was an example of MI5 trying to oust Harold Macmillan. Although head of the Conservative Party, Macmillan was considered to be dangerously left-wing. It seems that Profumo was trapped into having sexual relationships with women connected to the KGB. Macmillan was forced to resign in October, 1963 (he said he was going as a result of ill health – he lived another 23 years). Macmillan was replaced by the more right-wing Alec Douglas Home. However, this plot backfired as in 1964 Home was defeated by Harold Wilson. Therefore the need to try and oust Wilson.

This was going on at the same time as JFK was being trapped by Bobby Baker’s scam. In fact, the same girls with KGB links were used in both cases. Is it possible this was an example of a joint MI5/CIA project. Were the CIA involved in the Rometsch case. When this failed to remove JFK did they seek an alternative strategy?

Below is a rare photograph of William Harvey.

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/SSwright.htm

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/JFKharvey.htm

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/PRprofumo.htm

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/PRmacmillan.htm

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Tim Gratz reminded me that William Harvey is mentioned in Peter Wright’s book, Spycatcher. For those who don’t know the story, Wright was a senior MI5 officer. After he retired he had a dispute with MI5 over his pension. When they refused to pay him what he thought he deserved he moved to Tasmania and wrote his autobiography, Spycatcher. In the book he included a great deal about MI5 including a plot to oust the Labour prime minister (sound familiar). Wright also revealed details of MI5 assassination plots against foreign leaders (sound familiar).

The book was of course banned in the UK but it was published in Australia in 1987. Books were then smuggled into the UK. Eventually the government had to admit defeat and it was published in the UK.

The section on Harvey is very interesting. In 1960 it was decided that MI5 and the CIA should work together on certain projects. According to Wright this was the first time they had really done this. A meeting was arranged in 1961 that included the top figures in both organizations. Angleton then approached Wright and asked him if they could have a private meeting. Also at the meeting was Harvey. Wright held very right-wing views and this was obviously picked up by Angleton and Harvey. At the meeting Harvey did most of the talking. It sems the purpose of the meeting was to test Wright out. Harvey complained about how MI5 had done nothing about the growth of socialism in the UK. He implied that the CIA had been very successful in dealing with left-wing politicians in America.

Angleton asked Wright for another private meeting. Again Harvey did most of the talking. Harvey told Wright about their attempts to kill Castro. He asked Wright about MI5’s plots to kill Nasser in Egypt. Harvey then asked if MI5 could provide an assassination squad. He actually suggested a group of former SAS officers. Harvey had done his research and even identified a group of men who had been operating close to the Soviet border. Wright answered that SAS officers did not do “freelance” work.

I think this meeting is of importance. First of all it makes it clear that in 1961 Harvey was looking for someone other than the Mafia to kill Castro. It also shows that he was thinking of using former soldiers. Did this mean that he approached Interpen after his meeting with Wright?

The other issue about this meeting is - did it herald the beginning of the two organizations becoming involved in joint covert operations against their own governments? Wright admits that he was involved in a plot to destabilize Harold Wilson. They did this my spreading rumours that Wilson and several of his ministers were Soviet agents. This resulted in several ministers losing their jobs and one committed suicide when he was told his career was over (I am contact with this man’s son, one of the UK’s leading historians, who wants to clear his father’s name).

As with David Atlee Phillips’ autobiography, you can tell so much from looking at what has been left out of Wright's account. Despite its importance, Wright hardly mentions the John Profumo case. I am convinced that there is a direct connection between the Profumo affair and the Bobby Baker/Ellen Rometsch affair. I think the Profumo case was an example of MI5 trying to oust Harold Macmillan. Although head of the Conservative Party, Macmillan was considered to be dangerously left-wing. It seems that Profumo was trapped into having sexual relationships with women connected to the KGB. Macmillan was forced to resign in October, 1963 (he said he was going as a result of ill health – he lived another 23 years). Macmillan was replaced by the more right-wing Alec Douglas Home. However, this plot backfired as in 1964 Home was defeated by Harold Wilson. Therefore the need to try and oust Wilson.

This was going on at the same time as JFK was being trapped by Bobby Baker’s scam. In fact, the same girls with KGB links were used in both cases. Is it possible this was an example of a joint MI5/CIA project. Were the CIA involved in the Rometsch case. When this failed to remove JFK did they seek an alternative strategy?

Below is a rare photograph of William Harvey.   

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/SSwright.htm

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/JFKharvey.htm

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/PRprofumo.htm

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/PRmacmillan.htm

Great, interesting post, John. I'd read the account of the Wright meeting with Angleton and Harvey in another book but had not read Wright's own version until I spotted his book in a used bookseller's for only $5.00.

My comments, for what they are worth:

1. I agree with you there may have been a connection between what was happening in England with Profumo and in the US with JFK.

2. I think JFK could have been removed from office non-violently as a result of his involvement with Rometsch had it been publicized. Indeed, in England Macmillan's government fell even though he was not personally compromised.

3. You suggest the CIA/M15 were using girls with KGB links. If in fact these ladies were KGB assets, perhaps the KGB was using them. That is the simplest explanation. Do you suppose Dulles or Helms contacted his counterpart in the KGB for permission to use the KGB girls? As I recall the story, it was the London osteopath Dr. Stephen Ward (did I get the name right?) who introduced Profumo to Keeler and in her memoirs Keeler states that the osteopath was a Soviet spy. As you know, the osteopath committed suicide (or was it a murder?).

I am not sure if you have read Trento's book (I know I have mentioned it before). Trento (whose politics I believe are left-wing) asserts that a faction in the KGB orchestrated the assassination of JFK and the peaceful ouster of Khruschev eleven months later. It makes logical sense that the Soviet Union had "hard-liners" who were as concerned from their perspective about the relaxed relationship that appeared to be developing between JFK and Khruschev as there were "hard-liners" in the US intelligence community who had similar concerns coming from their own perspective. I have no idea who were Trento's sources but I imagine he had some basis (right or wrong) for his assertion. If indeed there was a connection between the removal of JFK and the removal of Khruschev, logic almost compels a conclusion that it came from the KGB and not Western intelligence sources--because the CIA could not orchestrate the peaceful ouster of Khruschev.

Final thought: if Rometsch was planted on JFK in a set-up to the assassination, the motive might have been to ensure RFK's acquiesence to a cover-up. Common sense and experience tells us that when there is a full-fledged murder investigation the "sordid" details of the victim's life often surface. RFK may have been as concerned about the possible exposure of his late brother's affair with a woman of questionable political allegiances as he was about exposure of the plots against Castro.

Well, this IS a final thought (I promise). You mention the Angleton/Harvey/Wright meeting demonstrates the CIA was looking at sources other than the Mafia to kill Castro. Indeed they were. Some people assert the CIA subtly but deliberately kept the Church Commmittee involved in the investigation of the Mafia plots to prevent the exposure of other more sensitive matters.

Edited by Tim Gratz

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I think JFK could have been removed from office non-violently as a result of his involvement with Rometsch had it been publicized.  Indeed, in England Macmillan's government fell even though he was not personally compromised.

You suggest the CIA/M15 were using girls with KGB links.  If in fact these ladies were KGB assets, perhaps the KGB was using them.  That is the simplest explanation.  Do you suppose Dulles or Helms contacted his counterpart in the KGB for permission to use the KGB girls?  As I recall the story, it was the London osteopath Dr. Stephen Ward (did I get the name right?) who introduced Profumo to Keeler and in her memoirs Keeler states that the osteopath was a Soviet spy.  As you know, the osteopath committed suicide (or was it a murder?).

There is of course a difference between these two scandals. In the UK the story reached the public. The man who did this was someone called George Wigg. He was a right-wing member of the Labour Party who had been Secretary of State for War (1947-50) and Minister of Defence (1950-51). It is almost certain that Wigg got the information from MI5. He raised the matter and John Profumo was unaware that Wigg had the full story. He therefore lied. Wigg was able to come back at him and the whole thing became a massive scandal.

JFK on the other hand, with the help of RFK, was able to suppress the story. The tactic was unsuccessful in the US.

Stephen Ward did indeed die before he could tell the full story. He could well have been murdered. Ward organized the sex parties (he played the same role as Bobby Baker in the US). As he was using women with KGB links, it was assumed at the time he was a Soviet spy himself. This is highly unlikely. It is almost certainly MI5. This raises the point. Was the CIA involved in supplying Baker with his girls? How was Baker connected to Ward? Is it just a coincidence he was using the same girls?

The names of the two women involved in both scandals were Maria Novotny and Suzy Chang. JFK had sex with them together. SS agents were very concerned about the habit of JFK of taking two girls into the White House swimming pool. They feared that they could be KGB and together could drown him in the pool. However, they were not allowed to interfere. The swimming pool was out of bounds to the SS.

I think it is unlikely that Novotny, Chang or Rometsch were really KGB. The important point was that Harold Macmillan and John F. Kennedy were both probably told by the intelligence services that they were KGB. It was this fact that got rid of Macmillan but JFK was to survive for a few more weeks.

I am not sure if you have read Trento's book (I know I have mentioned it before).  Trento  (whose politics I believe are left-wing) asserts that a faction in the KGB orchestrated the assassination of JFK and the peaceful ouster of Khruschev eleven months later.  It makes logical sense that the Soviet Union had "hard-liners" who were as concerned from their perspective about the relaxed relationship that appeared to be developing between JFK and Khruschev as there were "hard-liners" in the US intelligence community who had similar concerns coming from their own perspective.  I have no idea who were Trento's sources but I imagine he had some basis (right or wrong) for his assertion.  If indeed there was a connection between the removal of JFK and the removal of Khruschev, logic almost compels a conclusion that it came from the KGB and not Western intelligence sources--because the CIA could not orchestrate the peaceful ouster of Khruschev.

It is true that Khruschev was disliked by hardliners in the Kremlin. His liberal reforms had caused problems in Hungary and East Germany in 1956. They knew their history, revolutions usually follow liberal reforms. Like the MICC, the Politburo felt threatened by Khruschev’s attempts to bring an end to the Cold War. They suspected that this would result in a break-up of the Soviet Empire. The Eastern Block had been unified by creating an external threat. Once that threat was removed, the communist system would have collapsed from within. As it did in the late 1980s.

They had no reason to kill JFK. In fact, Khruschev had got all he wanted from his conflict with JFK in 1963. If the Cold War did appear to be coming to an end, they would have ousted Khruschev. It makes no political sense at all to believe the Soviets or Castro killed JFK.

Trento may well be left-wing. However, left-wingers get things wrong all the time. It seems that this is just Trento's theory. I, for one, have never seen any evidence that it was true.

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[

JFK on the other hand, with the help of RFK, was able to suppress the story [of his involvement with Ellen Rometsch].

RFK was only able to do this with the assistance of J. Edgar Hoover who personally intervened with the Senate Democrat and Republican leaders at a private meeting at the home of Sen Maj Leader Mike Mansfield. Hoover used his confidential files on the sex lives of U.S. Senators to accomplish this. Hoover did this at the personal request of RFK. I believe the story is set forth in greater detail in this Forum.

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Quoting John Simkin:

Left-wingers get things wrong all the time.

John, I have to disagree with you again. I don't think it is "all the time"; 95% of the time would probably be more accurate.

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Quoting John Simkin:

It makes no political sense at all to believe the Soviets or Castro killed JFK.

On October 29, 1963, less than a month before the assassination of JFK, Desmond Fitzgerald, then head of the CIA operations in Cuba, and a close friend of the Kennedy brothers, told Rolando Cubela, a Castro "minister without portfolio" that he was the "personal emissary" of RFL and that RFK personally supported Cubela's proposal to kill Castro. Cubela was promised the CIA would supply him with the weapons to do so. The same day in Sept 1963 that Cubela had first suggested to the CIA that he was willing to kill Castro for the US, Castro had publicly warned the US about continued US efforts to kill Cuban leaders and threatened retaliation. Castro's threat was taken so seriously that a special meeting of US officials met to evaluate it. That group decided, unfortunately, that Castro was unlikely to retaliate on US soil. Several people in the CIA, including James J. Angleton and Theodore Shackley, strongly protested Fitzgerald's plan to meet with Cubela, believing that Cubela was probably a Castro "dangle" offered to see if the US would take his warning seriously.

The Cubela operation continued right up to the assassination of JFK.

Castro had the strongest possible reason to kill JFK: not retaliation for past U.S. efforts to kill him, but self-defense against the current effort, that his agent had been assured, had the personal support of RFK (and by implication JFK).

Motive does not get much clearer (or stronger) than that.

Hard-liners in the Soviet had reasons of their own to get rid of JFK. For one thing, he was making friends for the US throughout the world. And, of course, Castro was a Soviet client, entitled to Soviet protection.

John, before you dismiss Trento's conclusions, have you read his book?

Edited by Tim Gratz

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Quoting John Simkin:

Stephen Ward did indeed die before he could tell the full story. He could well have been murdered. Ward organized the sex parties (he played the same role as Bobby Baker in the US). As he was using women with KGB links, it was assumed at the time he was a Soviet spy himself.

Quoting from the same post:

I think it is unlikely that Novotny, Chang or Rometsch were really KGB.

They had KGB links, but they were not KGB?

Again, John:

Stephen Ward did indeed die before he could tell the full story. He could well have been murdered. Ward organized the sex parties (he played the same role as Bobby Baker in the US). As he was using women with KGB links, it was assumed at the time he was a Soviet spy himself. This is highly unlikely. It is almost certainly MI5.

Stephen Ward was not a KGB spy; he was a spy for M15 (which was, of course, interested in discovering Profumo's knowledge of British military secrets or placing Profumo in a position to be blackmailed for such secrets at a later date).

And by the way, Valery Kostikov was not a KGB agent either. He was a CIA agent.

And the school for assassins at Minsk was not a KGB operation; it was in fact run by the CIA.

* * * * * * *

John, it seems rather clear that the KGB was setting Profumo up so he could be at some point forced to reveal sensitive military secrets. It was not a convoluted plot to bring down the MacMillan government. If, as we both suspect, there was a link between what was happening in Great Britain with Profumo and what was happening in the US with JFK, that suggests the Rometsch affair was also a KGB operation. (By the way, I am unaware of any evidence that Baker or Thompson were aware of Rometsch's possible links to the KGB when they introduced her to JFK.) Are you?

It is of course a chilling possibility that JFK had put himself in a position that he could be subject to Soviet blackmail.

The possible KGB involvement in the Rometsch matter suggests two possible inferences. First, that the KGB was involved in the JFK assassination. Second, that the assassination was a plot involving US intelligence and/or the US military, and it was prompted by the discovery that JFK was reckless enough to leave himself vulnerable to Soviet blackmail. That I suggest is a stronger motive for an internal U.S. plot than a mere disagreement with certain Kennedy policies.

* * * * * * * * * *

(It is, of course, a credit to John's intellectual integrity that he encourages these debates. It is in part the "debate" that makes this an intellectual exercise and I suspect John enjoys it as much as I do!)

Edited by Tim Gratz

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Quoting John Simkin:

Left-wingers get things wrong all the time.

John, I have to disagree with you again.  I don't think it is "all the time";  95% of the time would probably be more accurate.

This was an attempt at humour. I thought it funny that you should think I would be impressed by Trento’s arguments because he was left-wing. The point I was making was that left-wing historians sometimes get it wrong. However, overall, they get it wrong less often than right-wing historians.

I suspect that like most left-wing historians, Trento is very hostile to the post-war Soviet government. This has clouded his judgement. As you say, he provides no evidence for his views that JFK was killed by the Soviets/Castro. Nor will he be able to. However, that is not the main problem with his research. The main reason why I reject his theory is that it makes no political sense at all.

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Quoting John Simkin:

It makes no political sense at all to believe the Soviets or Castro killed JFK.

On October 29, 1963, less than a month before the assassination of JFK, Desmond Fitzgerald, then head of the CIA operations in Cuba, and a close friend of the Kennedy brothers, told Rolando Cubela, a Castro "minister without portfolio" that he was the "personal emissary" of RFL and that RFK personally supported Cubela's proposal to kill Castro.  Cubela was promised the CIA would supply him with the weapons to do so.  The same day in Sept 1963 that Cubela had first suggested to the CIA that he was willing to kill Castro for the US, Castro had publicly warned the US about continued US efforts to kill Cuban leaders and threatened retaliation.  Castro's threat was taken so seriously that a special meeting of US officials met to evaluate it.  That group decided, unfortunately, that Castro was unlikely to retaliate on US soil.  Several people in the CIA, including James J. Angleton and Theodore Shackley, strongly protested Fitzgerald's plan to meet with Cubela, believing that Cubela was probably a Castro "dangle" offered to see if the US would take his warning seriously.

The Cubela operation continued right up to the assassination of JFK.

Castro had the strongest possible reason to kill JFK: not retaliation for past U.S. efforts to kill him, but self-defense against the current effort, that his agent had been assured, had the personal support of RFK (and by implication JFK).

Motive does not get much clearer (or stronger) than that.

Hard-liners in the Soviet had reasons of their own to get rid of JFK.  For one thing, he was making friends for the US throughout the world.  And, of course, Castro was a Soviet client, entitled to Soviet protection.

John, before you dismiss Trento's conclusions, have you read his book? 

I have not read Trento’s book (it is on order). There seems to be a lot of books that Trento has not read. I would suggest he read the released Secret 1967 CIA Inspector General’s Report on Plots to Assassinate Fidel Castro. This was published as CIA Targets Fidel in 1996. The book includes a commentary by Fabian Escalante, the former head of Cuba’s counterintelligence body. Escalante adds details of the trial of Cubela in Cuba in March, 1966.

The other two books to read on Cubela is Evan Thomas’ The Very Best Men (1995) and David Corn’s Blond Ghost: Ted Shakley and the CIA’s Crusades (1994).

In March 1961 Cubela approached the Central Intelligence Agency about defecting to the United States. He was persuaded to work for them as an uncover agent in Cuba. He was given the code name AM/LASH and reported to JM/WAVE. However, Joseph Langosch, of the Special Affairs Staff, suspected that Cubela was a "dangle" (a double agent recruited by Castro to penetrate the American plots against him". This idea was reinforced when Cubela refused to take a lie-detector test.

Nestor Sanchez became his case officer but it was clear that the CIA did not trust him and left him dangling. In September, 1963, Cubela had a meeting with Sanchez in Sao Paulo, Brazil. It was at this point that Cubela offered to assassinate Fidel Castro. Cubela later claimed that it was the CIA who first suggested it (in an interview with Anthony Summers). However, according to the CIA, it was Cubela’s idea.

The CIA got suspicious as Cubela insisted on a meeting with Robert Kennedy: "for assurances of U.S. moral support for any activity Cubela under took in Cuba." Ted Shackley and other CIA officers saw this as an attempt to implicate Kennedy in the assassination of Castro. That Cubela was working as a double-agent whose main intention was to expose the JFK administration’s policy of policy of political assassinations. Desmond FitzGerald, Chief of the Cuban Task Force, ignored the advice of Shackley and decided to meet Cubela.

FitzGerald and Sanchez met Cubela met in Paris on 29th October, 1963. Cubela requested a "high-powered, silenced rifle with an effective range of hundreds of thousands of yards" in order to kill Fidel Castro. The CIA refused and instead insisted that Cubela used poison. On 22nd November, 1963, FitzGerald handed over a pen/syringe. He was told to use Black Leaf 40 (a deadly poison) to kill Castro. As Cubela was leaving the meeting, he was informed that JFK had been assassinated.

Cubela was now put in touch with Manuel Artime. They met for the first time on 27th December, 1964. At the Madrid meeting Cubela again asked for a FAL rifle and silencer. A CIA report suggests that a "Belgian FAL rifle with silencer" was given to Cubela on 11th February, 1965.

On 23rd June, 1965, the CIA sent out a cable to all stations directing termination of all contact with Cubela and his associates. It stated that there was "convincing proof that entire AMLASH group was insecure and that further contact with key members of group constitutes menace to CIA operations against Cuba as well as to the security of CIA staff personnel in western Europe." What the CIA had discovered was that one of Cubela's associates was having secret meetings with Cuban intelligence. They were all now convinced that Cubela was trying to trap the CIA.

As his cover was blown Cubela was arrested by the Cuban security police on 1st March, 1966. The trial of Cubela took place on 8th March. It was claimed that Cubela and his associates confessed to having planned the assassination of Fidel Castro.

The chief witness was Juan Feliafel. A member of Cuban intelligence he had been instructed in 1963 to go to Miami, pose as an exile, and infiltrate the anti-Castro movement. This was successful and he was sent on seventeen missions to Cuba. On the eighteenth mission Feliafel stayed in Cuba and provided evidence about Cubela's plans to assassinate Castro. Cubela was sentenced to death but this was never carried out. This is in stark contrast to the way he treated others who had been caught trying to assassinate him.

The CIA saw this as further evidence that Cubela was a double-agent. There is little evidence that Cubela ever served time in prison. Although in 1974 Cubela did return to prison in order to be interviewed by Anthony Summers. The main purpose of this interview was to claim that he had never been a double-agent. Very few people believed him.

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QUOTE(Tim Gratz @ Jan 8 2005, 05:30 AM)

Quoting John Simkin:

Left-wingers get things wrong all the time.

John, I have to disagree with you again. I don't think it is "all the time"; 95% of the time would probably be more accurate.

John said:

This was an attempt at humour. . .

John, of course, this was my attempt at humor as well. I know left-wing historians are right probably right up to 10% of the time!!

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FitzGerald and Sanchez met Cubela met in Paris on 29th October, 1963. Cubela requested a "high-powered, silenced rifle with an effective range of hundreds of thousands of yards" in order to kill Fidel Castro. The CIA refused and instead insisted that Cubela used poison. On 22nd November, 1963, FitzGerald handed over a pen/syringe. He was told to use Black Leaf 40 (a deadly poison) to kill Castro. As Cubela was leaving the meeting, he was informed that JFK had been assassinated.

John,

If you haven't read it, you would enjoy Richard Helms's version of this affair in his book A Look over My Shoulder (pp. 230-231). Helms says the 11/22/63 meeting with Cubela had nothing to do with any plan to assassinate Castro. Cubela was planning to help attempt a military coup in Cuba, but he knew that he might be arrested in such an attempt and executed. So Cubela requested that the CIA give him some concealed weapon he could use just to take someone down with him if he were seized in the coup attempt. FitzGerald obligingly gave him the poison pen to use in case of a fight. Helms says that Cubela looked at this "clumsy device" and handed it back to FitzGerald.

Ron

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Ron, it's pretty clear that Helms like many other CIA officers felt jutified in telling lies as a normal matter of course. Now that we are getting access to a host of JMWAVE operations documents as well as more documents relating to Cubela's activities post 1963 two things become clear a) the CIA did try to get Cubela involved in leading a coup but he repeatedly told him that was impossible and that no coup could possibly work without Castro being killed first :) he continually demonstrated interest only in assassinating Castro.

From a historical perspective Cubela was a far better candidate for assassination than a coup as he had proved ineffective in politics initially contending with Castro after the revolution - yet he had led one of the successful student political assassination teams targeting Batista's leadership.

Interestingly a document pre-Bay of Pigs discusses options and preparations for getting a "pill" to Cubela. Now unless they were going through a lot of work to enable him to suicide at will, it certainly looks like assassination was on the docket well before any 1963 meeting. And of course the signature on the related JMWAVE memoranda is David Morales.

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Quoting John Simkin:

It makes no political sense at all to believe the Soviets or Castro killed JFK.

On October 29, 1963, less than a month before the assassination of JFK, Desmond Fitzgerald, then head of the CIA operations in Cuba, and a close friend of the Kennedy brothers, told Rolando Cubela, a Castro "minister without portfolio" that he was the "personal emissary" of RFL and that RFK personally supported Cubela's proposal to kill Castro.  Cubela was promised the CIA would supply him with the weapons to do so.  The same day in Sept 1963 that Cubela had first suggested to the CIA that he was willing to kill Castro for the US, Castro had publicly warned the US about continued US efforts to kill Cuban leaders and threatened retaliation.  Castro's threat was taken so seriously that a special meeting of US officials met to evaluate it.  That group decided, unfortunately, that Castro was unlikely to retaliate on US soil.  Several people in the CIA, including James J. Angleton and Theodore Shackley, strongly protested Fitzgerald's plan to meet with Cubela, believing that Cubela was probably a Castro "dangle" offered to see if the US would take his warning seriously.

The Cubela operation continued right up to the assassination of JFK.

Castro had the strongest possible reason to kill JFK: not retaliation for past U.S. efforts to kill him, but self-defense against the current effort, that his agent had been assured, had the personal support of RFK (and by implication JFK).

Motive does not get much clearer (or stronger) than that.

Hard-liners in the Soviet had reasons of their own to get rid of JFK.  For one thing, he was making friends for the US throughout the world.  And, of course, Castro was a Soviet client, entitled to Soviet protection.

John, before you dismiss Trento's conclusions, have you read his book? 

I have not read Trento’s book (it is on order). There seems to be a lot of books that Trento has not read. I would suggest he read the released Secret 1967 CIA Inspector General’s Report on Plots to Assassinate Fidel Castro. This was published as CIA Targets Fidel in 1996. The book includes a commentary by Fabian Escalante, the former head of Cuba’s counterintelligence body. Escalante adds details of the trial of Cubela in Cuba in March, 1966.

The other two books to read on Cubela is Evan Thomas’ The Very Best Men (1995) and David Corn’s Blond Ghost: Ted Shakley and the CIA’s Crusades (1994).

In March 1961 Cubela approached the Central Intelligence Agency about defecting to the United States. He was persuaded to work for them as an uncover agent in Cuba. He was given the code name AM/LASH and reported to JM/WAVE. However, Joseph Langosch, of the Special Affairs Staff, suspected that Cubela was a "dangle" (a double agent recruited by Castro to penetrate the American plots against him". This idea was reinforced when Cubela refused to take a lie-detector test.

Nestor Sanchez became his case officer but it was clear that the CIA did not trust him and left him dangling. In September, 1963, Cubela had a meeting with Sanchez in Sao Paulo, Brazil. It was at this point that Cubela offered to assassinate Fidel Castro. Cubela later claimed that it was the CIA who first suggested it (in an interview with Anthony Summers). However, according to the CIA, it was Cubela’s idea.

The CIA got suspicious as Cubela insisted on a meeting with Robert Kennedy: "for assurances of U.S. moral support for any activity Cubela under took in Cuba." Ted Shackley and other CIA officers saw this as an attempt to implicate Kennedy in the assassination of Castro. That Cubela was working as a double-agent whose main intention was to expose the JFK administration’s policy of policy of political assassinations. Desmond FitzGerald, Chief of the Cuban Task Force, ignored the advice of Shackley and decided to meet Cubela.

FitzGerald and Sanchez met Cubela met in Paris on 29th October, 1963. Cubela requested a "high-powered, silenced rifle with an effective range of hundreds of thousands of yards" in order to kill Fidel Castro. The CIA refused and instead insisted that Cubela used poison. On 22nd November, 1963, FitzGerald handed over a pen/syringe. He was told to use Black Leaf 40 (a deadly poison) to kill Castro. As Cubela was leaving the meeting, he was informed that JFK had been assassinated.

Cubela was now put in touch with Manuel Artime. They met for the first time on 27th December, 1964. At the Madrid meeting Cubela again asked for a FAL rifle and silencer. A CIA report suggests that a "Belgian FAL rifle with silencer" was given to Cubela on 11th February, 1965.

On 23rd June, 1965, the CIA sent out a cable to all stations directing termination of all contact with Cubela and his associates. It stated that there was "convincing proof that entire AMLASH group was insecure and that further contact with key members of group constitutes menace to CIA operations against Cuba as well as to the security of CIA staff personnel in western Europe." What the CIA had discovered was that one of Cubela's associates was having secret meetings with Cuban intelligence. They were all now convinced that Cubela was trying to trap the CIA.

As his cover was blown Cubela was arrested by the Cuban security police on 1st March, 1966. The trial of Cubela took place on 8th March. It was claimed that Cubela and his associates confessed to having planned the assassination of Fidel Castro.

The chief witness was Juan Feliafel. A member of Cuban intelligence he had been instructed in 1963 to go to Miami, pose as an exile, and infiltrate the anti-Castro movement. This was successful and he was sent on seventeen missions to Cuba. On the eighteenth mission Feliafel stayed in Cuba and provided evidence about Cubela's plans to assassinate Castro. Cubela was sentenced to death but this was never carried out. This is in stark contrast to the way he treated others who had been caught trying to assassinate him.

The CIA saw this as further evidence that Cubela was a double-agent. There is little evidence that Cubela ever served time in prison. Although in 1974 Cubela did return to prison in order to be interviewed by Anthony Summers. The main purpose of this interview was to claim that he had never been a double-agent. Very few people believed him.

John, this is a very good summary of the Cubela affair. You seem to agree with most historians that Cubela was probably a double agent. I believe it is in Evan Thomas' book that he states that Shackley and Fitzgerald got into a shouting match about the advisability of proceeding with Cubela.

One error in your summary: Fitzgerald was in Washington, D.C on November 22nd. It was Sanchez who was meeting Cubela in Paris on the 22nd of November. the earlier literature all put Fitzgerald in Paris on the 22nd, but this was incorrect. It is right in the later books, for instance, in the Evan Thomas book "The Very Best Men."

There are several other important points to make about Cubela. According to Thomas' book, in the fall of 1963 Cubela had been in contact with Valery Kostikov. I am sure most members know that Kostikov was apparently a member of KGB's dept 13 which dealt with assassinations and terrorism, and in early October of 1963 Kostikov had been in contact with Oswald (or an Oswald impersonator).

Finally, Cubela apparently had close connections with Santo Trafficante, Jr. When Trafficante was imprisoned in Cuba's minimum security Trescornia prison camp, it was apparently Cubela who intervened to allow Trafficante's temporary release to attend his daughter's funeral.

Another person who visited Trafficante in Trescornia was Jack Ruby. Some people say it was Ruby who negotiated Trafficante's release.

Finally, Cubela had a mistress whose brother was a member of Cuban intelligence.

These associations certainly merit careful consideration.

And the bottom line is if indeed Cubela was a double agent then Castro knew that the CIA was encouraging his plan to kill Castro and that Cubela had been assured that his plan to kill Castro had the personal support of RFK.

Of course, coincidences do happen. But if there was no relationship between the Cubela affair and the Kennedy assassination, then the fact that the CIA was passing an assassination device to Cubela at the very hour that Kennedy was assassinated has to be one of the most extraordinary coincidences in history.

Edited by Tim Gratz

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John Simkin said:

I thought it funny that you should think I would be impressed by Trento's arguments because he was left-wing.

John, I certainly did not mean to insult your intelligence by implying that you would accept Trento’s conclusions merely because his politics are leftist. My point was merely that it is not only right-wingers who believe there may have been Soviet involvement in the assassination.

I do think you need to read his book before dismissing his assertions. As I said before, it is not the thesis of his book that the Soviet Union itself sponsored the assassination but rather that it was a specific group within the KGB, who were unhappy with both Kennedy and Khruschev.

To suggest the assassination was motivated by a desire to protect Castro from repeated U.S. attempts to kill him is not an inherently “anti-Soviet” or “anti-Cuban” position. Do I believe the Soviet Union was, in the words of a great American president, an “evil empire”? Absolutely. There should be no question of that. Was Castro an anti-democratic despot, totally indifferent to human rights from the moment he seized power in Cuba? I think the historical record is clear in that regard.

Does that mean that my country had the right to undertake to kill Castro? On the contrary, I think our plots to kill Castro were immoral and criminal. If indeed, as the evidence suggests, Castro may have retaliated by orchestrating the assassination of Kennedy, while we ought to be extremely reluctant to even suggest acceptance of a violent, murderous act, perhaps we can characterize his action as desperate and understandable. Since the assassination plots were started under the Eisenhower administration, and were supported by high-ranking CIA officials of differing political persuasions, perhaps the assassination should be considered the price my country paid for an immoral policy. Of course, we know that Castro was not the only foreign leader we decided we had the right to kill in furtherance of our foreign policy.

I do not believe the CIA conspired to kill Kennedy. The fact is that it did conspire to kill the leaders of several other countries. I suggest that, from a moral and legal standard, the fact that the CIA did not kill an American leader is a distinction without a difference.

My view of the assassination is, thus, neither anti-Cuban nor pro-CIA. I also remain open to be persuaded that my view of what happened is incorrect.

I would point out that there is, to my knowledge, only one professional historian who has written a book on the assassination. In the opinion of Professor Michael Kurtz, the scenario that best fits the evidence is that Castro did it with the support of Santo Trafficante, Jr., which was my interpretation of the evidence before I read Professor Kurtz's book.

Edited by Tim Gratz

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