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Paul Rigby

Cuban Smoke and the French Connection:Why the CIA installed Fidel Castro

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The recent exchanges on this forum between Ashton Gray and Cliff Varnell involved, among other things, a fierce dispute concerning the coup plotters intentions toward Cuba. The former poured scorn on the proposition that Kennedy’s murder was organised as prelude to, and pretext for, a concerted US drive to oust Castro. I agree with him, and think the topic so important I offer the radically incomplete work-in-progress below. My hope is to provoke a full debate on the issue, one I believe is long overdue.

What follows is an early draft of a chapterlet in my preface to ‘Arrogant’ CIA: The Selected Journalism of Richard Starnes. A later, greatly expanded, version appears to have disappeared following my hard-drive’s recent encounter with a nifty little Trojan. (I stupidly failed to back up this & many other files.)

Tomorrow, I’ll append the Starnes article which gave rise to the chapterlet, so the reader can see what provoked it.

Cuban Smoke and the French Connection: why the CIA installed Fidel Castro

3 October –21 November 1963.

Between ‘Arrogant CIA’s’ publication on October 2 and the Agency coup in Saigon on November 1, Starnes twice more launched savage attacks on the organisation. America had been here before, insisted Starnes, and the lessons were plain. But the Castro precedent he instanced was a very different story from the fairy tale version propagated at the time by the New Left , and mainstream historians ever since. Starnes refused to forget an inconvenient fact: Castro was armed, financed, and propagandised for, and by, the CIA. And, not content with installing him in Havana, the Agency had then covered Castro’s back for sufficient time to permit the “revolution’s” turn to the left, the turn that sucked the Soviet Union in, and brought the Cold War to within ninety miles of America’s shores – the very object of the exercise for the CIA, and the nation’s military-industrial complex. It was the perfect rejoinder to Eisenhower’s “crusade” for détente.

Sections of the US elite had supported ostensibly “revolutionary” insurrections throughout the nineteenth century. Between 1840 and 1852, “American filibusterers, devoted to the slave system, aided Cuban risings against Spain. President Fillmore issued a proclamation forbidding the organization” of such “expeditions on American soil and ordered the civil, naval, and military authorities at the ports of New York and New Orleans to prevent” them from sailing. Kennedy was to face the same difficulty in 1962-63 with the support of Cuban exile raiders by, most notably, Henry Luce and his Time-Life empire.

The United States government later adopted the tactic officially, supporting or fomenting “revolutions” in Hawaii, Panama, and Nicaragua. On the eve of the First World War, the US, in a fight for Standard Oil to wrest control Mexican oil from Britain, the waning world hegemon, organised the Madero revolt against Diaz; and later backed Pancho Villa against Huerta. The propaganda campaign for Villa saw him lionised in Hollywood. The father of William F. Buckley, the CIA officer who founded the National Review, was involved in an attempt to overthrow the Mexican government – again, for reasons of petropolitik – in the late 1920s.

In the immediate post-war period, genuine Cuban leftists, mostly notably in the trade unions, were systematically murdered or driven into exile. The campaign was exposed at the time .In November 1946, Hoy, the then paper of the Cuban Confederation of Labour (CTC), ran a photostat of two letters, the second of which, from Francesco Aguire to the AFL’s man in Chile, Bernardo Ibanez, dealt with the splitting of Latin American trade unions and a planned campaign to assassinate “anti-Yankee” labour leaders. “Some of Cuba’s outstanding labour leaders were assassinated in that period and a plot to kill Lazaro Pena, the head of the CTC, was uncovered.” The result, in Cuba, as elsewhere, was to create opportunities for the production and insertion of simulacrums of genuine leftists. Into this breach stepped a Jesuit-educated Catholic rightist called Fidel Castro. In January 1948, a Communist leader of the sugar workers, Jesus Larrondo, was shot dead by an army captain in Manzanillo. Among the mourners at the ensuing funeral was, on cue, the enduringly unmolested Fidel.

A “hidden hand” recurs so frequently in Castro’s rise to power as to render mainstream accounts silly. In April 1948, Castro participated in a pseudo-Communist revolt in Colombia launched in ostensible response to the CIA-orchestrated assassination of the Liberal presidential candidate, Jorge Eliecer Gaitan. According to a conservative Colombian paper, Castro and the rest of the Cuban delegation were quietly evacuated from the country by the Cuban embassy.

Among the US Embassy staff in Bogota at the time was Roy Rubottom , who subsequently reappeared in the Sierra Maestra bringing succour to Castro in 1957. Rubottom was instrumental in organising a briefing for a newly arrived US Ambassador at the hands of Herbert Matthews, the leading, though by no means sole , propagandist for Castro in the pages of the New York Times. One veteran of Central American politics – and at least one CIA coup attempt, in 1954, opposed by the then US Ambassador – went so far as to describe Castro as a “fabrication” of the US press, which had “sold him to Latin America.” The Agency’s effective control of both right and left-wing Castro publicists is neatly conveyed by two figures, Hal Hendrix, and Jules Dubois. The latter was an asset , while the former gives every evidence of being a career intelligence officer.

Captured in the aftermath of the militarily stupid, but profile-raising coup attempt of July 1953, Castro was not executed on the spot because he fell into the hands of “a humane officer who ignored orders to summarily execute prisoners.” The same Batista regime that ordered the summary execution of the other prisoners then acted in character by “unexpectedly” releasing Castro into exile a mere fifteen months later.

In 1956, in response to pressure from Batista, and as prelude to deportation back to Cuba, the Mexican government ordered the arrest of Castro and his 26 July Movement. Again the “hidden hand” – the CIA’s – intervened to safeguard Castro. “Details of the deal between Castro’s group and the Mexicans remain unclear,” wrote one British obituarist of a former Mexican secret police chief, Fernando Gutierrez Barrios, who reportedly brokered the deal, but what is clear is that the seemingly unlikely friendship between the interrogator from the fanatically anti-Communist DFS – which in the 1970s ran a murderous anti-leftist death squad, the Brigada Blanca - and Castro, endured: “Guttierez visited Havana on many occasions, and when Casto attended the 1988 inauguration of President Carlos Salinas, he was personally attended by his former jailer. The two men even travelled to Tuxpan, in Veracruz, for a memorial ceremony at the spot where the revolutionaries embarked for Cuba.” The same obituarist, writing this time of Arturo Durazo, the DFS member who oversaw the investigation of Castro and his group, wrote vaguely of “political pressure” for the group’s release. That Carlos Prio, the multimillionaire ex-President of Cuba and acknowledged financier of the 26th July Movement, wrote an open letter to the Mexican President in support of Castro is not at issue . What is is the sufficiency of this source in securing Castro’s release.

With Castro and his motley band safely restored to Cuban soil in December 1956, CIA money soon flooded in. Between “October or November 1957 and the middle of 1958, the CIA delivered no less than fifty thousand dollars to a half-dozen or more key members of the 26th July Movement in Santiago.” The funds were “handled by Robert D. Wiecha, a CIA case officer …who served in Santiago from September 1957 to June 1959.” In mid-October 1958, a senior figure within the 26th July Movement wrote to Castro detailing the extent of the CIA support in the US Embassy in Havana, and quality of the information that support gave: “I have been in contact with people close to the embassy. These contacts have told me that people who are on our side – but who do not appear to – have had conversations with the ambassador himself. I think this is the best possible, since we are kept up-to-date about everything happening there and of all the possible U.S. plans…” New York Times reporter Tad Szulc knew of this support in 1959, but disclosed it only in 1986. In the aftermath of the Bay of Pigs, the CIA undertook a limited hang-out, conceding to a few, favoured mouthpieces that, yes, there had been some limited supply of arms in this period, but from an “ex-“CIA man, Sam Cummings, whose Interarmco was a private venture. Cummings had reportedly supplied the arms used by the Agency’s Guatemalan proxies to overthrow the Arbenz government in 1954.

In his testimony before a Senate Sub-committee on 30 August 1960, Earl T. Smith, the US Ambassador to Cuba from June 1957 to January 1959, complained of precisely this overt, and unbending CIA support within the Embassy for Castro. He drew this conclusion from his bitter experience at the hands of the Agency: “There is no advantage to the United States in sending an Ambassador to a country if the CIA representatives there act on their own and take an opposite position.” Among Ambassador Smith’s guests at the Embassy’s December 1957 Christmas party was a Senator from Massachusetts, whom Smith introduced as the man “who may very well be our next President.”

Castro has long been fond of boasting of the number of coup and assassination attempts he has allegedly survived. Almost as fond, indeed, as the CIA has been in confessing its many failures. On the 46th anniversary of his coming to power, readers of one British broadsheet were solemnly informed that the “Cuban Ministry of the Interior has investigated 637 assassination attempts.” And yet the same leader has always been renowned as one of the most accessible rulers in the world, and thus “an easy target for assassination. Yet,” mystifyingly, “no public attempt was ever made against him anywhere.”

The CIA had a variety of purposes in mind for revolutionary Cuba. A key intention was to use Cuba as the launch pad and pretext for a series of “revolutionary” movements throughout Latin America that would in turn “compel” CIA intervention in the unfortunate countries concerned. The Caribbean, Central and Latin America would thus be remade in the desired US image, the region’s reformist and nationalist governments alike destroyed in favour of murderous militarised oligarchies and US finance. Castro’s government was to arrest previously supportive CIA men engaged in precisely such activity – in this early instance, against the government of Nicaragua – no later than April 1959. Sihanouk offered a typically shrewd Asian encapsulation: “All the efforts of the CIA were aimed at implanting an armed political opposition inside the country so that we would have to beg for American arms to keep order…”

The Bay of Pigs operation was at once a self-sabotaged trap and a smokescreen: the real CIA action in late April 1961 was against De Gaulle. Even elements of the wretchedly timid and censored British press were stirred to a muted observation or two.

CIA operations in Europe encountered opposition from Kennedy-appointed Ambassadors. In the summer of 1962, the left-wing Greek nationalist, Andreas Papandreou flew to Washington to protest at the Agency’s role in, among other dark adventures, fixing the October 1961 election. The President was in Florida, so Papandreou had to make do with Carl Kaysen. The protest, in conjunction with the findings of Henry Labouisse, appointed by Kennedy to the Athens ambassadorship earlier that year, resulted in the replacement of the CIA station chief, Laughlin Campbell, in August 1962. Somewhat ironically, Campbell was transferred to Paris.

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The recent exchanges on this forum between Ashton Gray and Cliff Varnell involved, among other things, a fierce dispute concerning the coup plotters intentions toward Cuba. The former poured scorn on the proposition that Kennedy’s murder was organised as prelude to, and pretext for, a concerted US drive to oust Castro. I agree with him, and think the topic so important I offer the radically incomplete work-in-progress below. My hope is to provoke a full debate on the issue, one I believe is long overdue.

Paul, I fail to see where you discount the following:

http://www.whatreallyhappened.com/northwoods.html

I do not buy the view that "the CIA" was, or is, a monolithic entity

wherein all the players are on the same page.

In 1963, I'll argue, there were factions in CIA loyal to different masters.

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Paul, I think this is a very interesting topic and I'm looking forward to your additions.

In the interim, I'd like to mention a few things here that I hope will augment or correlate with your work. I'm going to do this in the form of a timeline regarding several incidents of interest packed into the very busy months of April and early May 1963. This necessarily is long; I've included the full texts of several documents. It would have been much longer if I hadn't made some hard decisions about what to include from the timeline for this period and what to leave out, but I think these entries have some relevance to the Cuba topic in relation to the assassination and its motives:

  • Thursday, 4 April 1963
    Carlos Bringuier is named in a New Orleans Times-Picayue story as a spokesman and "New Orleans delegate" for the Cuban Student Directorate of Miami. In the artilcle, Bringuier claims that the Cuban Student Directorare will continue efforts to liberate Cuba "despite action by the United States to stop raids originating from U.S. soil." Bringuier further claims that Cubans have "never received any efficient support from the United States in their struggle against Communist oppression," and charged that "imprisonment of Cuban leaders by the U. S. and the British-U.S. blockade to curtail attacks of the freedom fighters ... are direct results of negotiations effected last October between the USA and Russia." [NOTE: The timing of this issuance by Bringuier is very odd in context, and evidence mounts in the timeline that Bringuier was connected to CIA's operations in Miami, including E. Howard Hunt, William "Tosh" Plumlee, and Frank Sturgis, among others. This statement also is in precise alignment with later statements made by E. Howard Hunt.]
    Friday, 5 April 1963
    A photo of Lee Harvey Oswald standing in a yard holding a rifle in one hand and a newspaper in the other is inscribed on the back: "To my friend George from Lee Oswald" with a date of 5/IV/63. The handwriting is attributed later to Lee Harvey Oswald. Additional unattributed writing says: "Copyright Geo do [sic] M" and the words, in Russian: "Hunter of fascists, ha-ha-ha!" [NOTE: The photo doesn't surface until April 1 (April Fool's Day) 1977, when it is delivered to the House Select Committee on Assassinations by Jeanne de Mohrenshildt, widow of George de Mohrenschildt.]
    Monday, 8 April 1963
    There is a flight plan of this date for a flight from New Orleans, piloted by David Ferrie. Passengers listed are Hidell (an alias for Lee Harvey Oswald), Lambert (an alias for Clay Shaw) and Diaz. The destination is Garland, Texas.
    Thursday, 11 April 1963
    DOCUMENT [NOTE: Gordon Chase, author of this document, is assistant to National Security Advisor McGeorge Bundy. It is very difficult to take this document at face value in the context of other incidents in the timeline. Chase is the primary contact for ABC newswoman Lisa Howard, and within 10 days of this memo to Bundy, Lisa Howard will be in Cuba interviewing Castro and other members of the Castro government, having been flown there by CIA's Tosh Plumlee. Analyzed against other incidents, the document should be regarded with the possibility that there was something else at work in its creation--which also may not have been when it is dated.]:

April 11, 1963

MEMORANDUM FOR: Mr. Bundy

SUBJECT: Cuba -- Policy

1. We are all concerned about solving our Cuba problem, but so far, we have been looking seriously at only one side of the coin -- ways to hurt Castro by varying degrees of overt and covert nastiness. We have not yet looked seriously at the other side of the coin -- quietly enticing Castro over to us.

2. If the sweet approach turned out to be feasible and, in turn, successful, the benefits would be substantial. In the short run, we would probably be able to neutralize at least 2 of our main worries about Castro -- the reintroduction of offensive missiles and Cuban subversion. In the long run, we would be able to work on eliminating Castro at our leisure and from a good vantage point.

3. While the practical obstacles to this sort of approach may be immense, they may not be insuperable. Two such obstacles are the domestic political situation and Castro's reluctance to be enticed. ( a ) Domestic Problem -- If the American people can be shown that the offensive missile threat and the subversive threat are under control, that the Russian presence in Cuba is reduced and that Castro is much more a nationalist than a Communist, the selling job necessary for a careful, quiet policy turn-around may not be impossible. ( b ) Castro's Reluctance to be Enticed -- This may be an easier nut to crack now than it once would have been. Castro may have received, from our point of view, some very valuable education over the past couple years. Hopefully, he has learned that the Russians are not as tough and reliable as he thought they were and that we are a lot tougher and nastier than he thought we were; also hopefully, he is scared.

Our present nasty policy is probably a necessary prelude to a sweet approach. The more we can (1) scare Castro and (2) demonstrate to him that the Bloc is either unwilling or unable to fill his security and economic requirements, the more amenable Castro probably will be to a new approach. In this regard, perhaps the worst thing we can do is to let our nasty policy ease off without a particular objective in sight.

4. I understand that in the near future, the President will be looking at some more violent solutions to the Cuban problem. It might be interesting if, at roughly the same time, he could have a look at a feasibility study on a policy turn-a-round. Do you think this timing for such a study is right? Or do you think it is still premature?

Gordon Chase


Monday, 15 c. April 1963
Approximate time Silvia Odio begins seeing psychiatrist Dr. Burton C. Einspruch in Dallas, Texas.
Wednesday, 17 April 1963
Carlos Bringuier sends a telegram to President Kennedy: "Your promise is now two years old. If the Monroe Doctrine is dead, allow us to fight for our Fatherland. Remember Bay of Pigs." That night, a mass "in memory of the dead of the Bay of Pigs invasion" is held, all of it covered the next day by the New Orleans Times-Picayue.
Friday, 19 April 1963
On April 19, George and Jeanne De Mohrenschildt leave Dallas, puportedly for New York City.
Saturday, 20 April 1963
Ruth Hyde Paine meets with the Oswalds, ostensibly for a "picnic" at a park near the Oswald's Neely Street apartment.
Monday, 22 April 1963
Lisa Howard, ABC newswoman, is in Cuba interviewing Fidel Castro. On this day her session with him lasts from 12:45 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. She will total about 10 hours of interview with Fidel Castro, and also will interview Raul Castro, Ernesto "Che" Guevara, Vilma Espin de Castro, Raul Roa, and Rene Vallejo. Quoted from second source: "[Tosh Plumlee] flew ABC reporter Lisa Howard into Cuba, where she created a back channel between Robert F. Kennedy and Castro after the Cuban missile crisis. 'There was an arm [of the CIA] out there trying to talk peace with Castro during the assassination attempts,' he [Plumlee] says."
Tuesday, 23 April 1963
Lyndon Johnson is in Dallas for the Second Annual NASA Manned Space Flight Conference. He makes an announcement about a plan for John F. Kennedy to visit Dallas. [NOTE: Some sources have opined that this will be to attend a dinner to be given in honor of Congressman Albert Thomas, but there is no known record of anything about a Thomas dinner in the Johnson announcement.]
Wednesday, 24 April 1963
The Dallas Times Herald is headlined: "LBJ sees Kennedy Dallas Visit--One Day Texas Tour Eyed." Ruth Hyde Paine arrives at the Neely Street apartment of Lee and Marina Oswald at around 10:00 a.m. and "discovers" that Lee is packed to go to New Orleans. Supposedly, it is "a distinct surprise" to Ruth Paine. Lee is fully packed and asks Ruth to drive Lee's "bags and duffel bags, suitcases, to the bus station for him where he would buy a ticket to go to New Orleans." [NOTE: Lee Harvey Oswald does not drive. Ruth Hyde Paine just "happens by" when he is packed and needs to be driven to the bus station on the day of the announcement of plans for Kennedy to come to Dallas.]
Friday, 26 April 1963
Guaranteed Warranty #64413 is issued in Austin, Texas, by C.B. Smith Motors to George Gordon Wing, of 717 Landon Lane, for a 1959 Rambler station wagon, with an identifying number of D-713121.
Monday, 29 April 1963
The CIA Office of Security finds "that it had no objection to De Mohrenschildt's acceptance of a contract with the Duvalier regime of Haiti in the field of natural resource development." [NOTE: This is related to oil. CIA reaches this conclusion, somehow, while de Mohrenshildt supposedly is in New York City. The following day, 30 April 1963 (see), the "Standing Group" of the National Security Council will meet and determine that CIA is to research and submit a "report on the oil problem in relation to Cuba" (see McGeorge Bundy memo of 2 May 1963). It should not be overlooked that the westernmost point of Haiti is about 40 miles from the easternmost point of Cuba.]
Tuesday, 30 April 1963
Lisa Howard, ABC newswoman, returns to Miami from Cuba, where she has interviewed a number of high-ranking Cuban officials, including Fidel Castro, Raul Castro, Ernesto "Che" Guevara, Vilma Espin de Castro, Raul Roa, and Rene Vallejo. She has been accompanied on the trip by CIA's Tosh Plumlee. On the same day, there is a meeting of the "Standing Group" of the National Security Council in which certain decisions are made about Cuba and Castro (seen 2 May 1963 memo from McGeorge Bundy), including orders for CIA to submit a "report on the oil problem in relation to Cuba."
Wednesday, 31 May 1963
Kerry Thornley ends his membership in the Hotel, Motel, and Restaurant Employees Union [known today as the Hotel and Restaurant Employees and Bartenders' Union (International)] in New Orleans. Its office is in the Newman Building at 544 Camp Street [which also has an address of 531 Lafayette Street]. Thornley purportedly leaves New Orleans "to travel to California and Mexico."
Wednesday, 1 May 1963
DOCUMENT [NOTE: Deputy Director (Plans) CIA Richard Helms submits the following memorandum to the Director of Central Intelligence, John McCone, regarding ABC newswoman Lisa Howard's trip to Cuba and interview with Fidel Castro.]:

S-E-C-R-E-T

NO FORIGN DISSEM/CONTROLLED DISSEM/NO DISSEM ABROAD/BACKGROUND USE ONLY

CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY WASHINGTON 25, D. C.

1 May 1963

MEMORANDUM FOR: The Director of Central Intelligence

SUBJECT: Interview of U.S. Newswoman with Fidel Castro Indicating Possible Interest in Rapprochement with the United.States

1. On 30 April 1963 Liza Howard [sic—elsewhere Lisa Howard], U.S. newswoman associated with the American Broadcasting. Company, returned to Miami from Cuba where she had interviewed a number of high-ranking Cuban officials, including Fidel Castro, Raul Castro, Ernesto "Che" Guevara, Vilma Espin de Castro, Raul Roa, and Rene Vallejo.

Her conversations with Fidel Castro totaled about ten hours and included one session on 22 April which lasted from 12:45 a.m. to 5:30 a.m. Following is an account of those onversations and Liza Howard's observations concerning the present Cuban situation.

2. It appears that Fidel Castro is looking for a way to reach a rapprochement with the United States Government, probably because he is aware that Cuba is in a state of economic chaos. The October blockade hurt the Cuban economy. Liza Howard believes that Castro talked about this matter with her because she is known as a progressive and she talked with him in frank, blunt, honest terms; Castro has little opportunity to hear this type of conversation.

Castro indicated that if a rapprochement was wanted President John F. Kennedy would have to make the first move. In response to the statement that Castro would probably have to make the first move, Castro asked what the U.S. wanted from him. When a return to the original aims of the revolution was suggested, Fidel said that perhaps he, President Kennedy, and Premier Nikita Khrushchev should discuss this.

Liza
[sic—throughout]
Howard said that she thought it was a more likely topic for Castro to discuss with President Kennedy. Castro said that he doubted that President Kennedy would talk with him without Khrushchev being present. When Howard pressed Castro for further information on how a rapprochement could be achieved he said that steps were already being taken. Pressed further, he said he considered the U.S. limitation on exile raids to be a proper step toward accommodation.

It is Liza Howard's opinion that Castro wants to pursue the discussion of rapprochement with proper progressive spokesmen. Based on her discussions with the following persons Liza Howard feels that Guevara, Raul Castro, and Vilma Espin oppose any idea of rapprochement; Roa and Vallejo favor these discussions.

3. Castro asked Howard, who had previously interviewed Khrushchev, for an appraisal of him. When Howard said that Khrushchev was a shrewd politician who would break and dispose of Castro when the Soviets no longer needed him, Castro made no comment but only nodded his head as if in skeptical agreement. Liza Howard had no insight or advance notice on Castro's travel to Moscow.

4. Castro appears healthy, has no visible nervous twitches or tics, and was calm, rational, humorous, and non-argumentative during all discussions. Vallejo, Castro's personal physician, also acts as secretary, interpreter, and confidant.

5. Castro is in complete control in Cuba. No major decision is made without him. Neither Guevara nor Raul Castro would be able to rule Cuba if Fidel were assassinated.

6. In discussions with Castro about terror and secret police methods Liza Howard received the impression that he was not completely aware of the extent to which terror has gripped Cuba.

7. Castro refers to Soviet troops in Cuba as "technicals" and indicated that they have a training mission in Cuba. He made the point, however, that if an internal revolt takes place in Cuba Soviet "technicals" would fight with Castro to put down a counterrevolution.

8. Liza Howard said that Emil Stadelhofer, Swiss Ambassador to Cuba, is an overworked, timid man who does not have Castro's ear. She believes that the Swiss need a larger staff in Habana [sic--Havana] and that Stadelhofer needs recognition for a job well done. Howard also said that in her opinion the Western diplomatic community in Habana [sic] has no influence on Castro or his government.

9. While discussing a possible rapprochement Castro asked for full assessments of President and Mrs. Kennedy, and Robert Kennedy, and wanted to know if Adlai Stevenson had power in the U.S. and if his voice was heard in President Kennedy's councils. Castro commented that James Donovan was a good man; it was Liza Howard's impression that Donovan had not talked politics with Castro but that Donovan had a platform from which he could launch political discussions on the philosophy of revolution.

10. Liza Howard said that she was willing to undertake further discussions with Castro concerning a possible rapprochement. Other possible candidates whom she suggested were Edwin M. Martin, Adlai Stevenson, and Luis Munoz Marin. She also mentioned Donovan but was not quite certain that he was progressive enough. Liza Howard is willing to arrange a meeting for any U.S. Government spokesman with Castro through Vallejo, who will be the point of contact.

ll. Liza Howard definitely wants to impress the U.S. Government with two facts: Castro is ready to discuss rapprochement and she herself is ready to discuss it with him if asked to do so by the U.S. Government.

[signature of "W. Lloyd George"]

Richard Helms Deputy Director (Plans) CSDB-3/654,439

Orig: The Director of Central Intelligence

cc: Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs [McGeorge Bundy]

The Director of Intelligence and Research Department of State The Director, Defense Intelligence Agency

The Attorney General

The Department of Justice

The Deputy Director of Central Intelligence

Deputy Director for Intelligence

Assistant Director for National Estimates

Assistant Director for Current Intelligence


Wednesday, 1 May 1963
George de Mohrenschildt departs for Haiti on May 1, 1963. On or around the same date, Edward Lansdale receives an honorary graduation certificate from a sniping school that the U.S. has in Panama.
Thursday, 2 May 1963
DOCUMENT [NOTE: it cannot be overstressed that this letter below does not come to McGeorge Bundy from Director of Central Intelligence, John McCone. It comes to Bundy from the Acting Director of CIA at the time, Marshall S. Carter--even though Richard Helms's memo of the day before (see 1 May 1963) had been addressed to DCI McCone. Carter cites a purported "cable" from McCone, but there is no such cable in evidence. Many sources claim that this letter came from McCone, and such claims are false.]:

Letter From Acting Director of Central Intelligence Carter to the President's Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy) Washington

May 2, 1963

Dear Mr. Bundy:

With respect to the Lisa Howard report, Mr. McCone cabled me this morning stating that he cannot overemphasize the importance of secrecy in this matter and requested that I take all appropriate steps along this line to reflect his personal views on its sensitivity. Mr. McCone feels that gossip and inevitable leaks with consequent publicity would be most damaging.

He suggests that no active steps be taken on the rapprochement matter at this time and urges most limited Washington discussions, and that in these circumstances emphasis should be placed in any discussions on the fact that the rapprochement track is being explored as a remote possibility and one of several alternatives involving various levels of dynamic and positive action.

Lisa Howard of the American Broadcasting Company had a 10-hour interview with Fidel Castro on April 22. During that interview Castro made a number of points, the most important of which was that Cuba was looking for ways to establish a rapprochement with the United States. Cottrell summarized the main points of the interview in a May 2 memorandum to Martin, and Richard Helms prepared a more detailed account in a memorandum to McCone, May 1. The President read Helms' summary.

In view of the foregoing, it is requested that the Lisa Howard report be handled in the most limited and sensitive manner.

Faithfully yours,

Marshall S. Carter

Lieutenant General, USA

(Printed from a copy that indicates Carter signed the original.)


On the same day:
Thursday, 2 May 1963
DOCUMENT

Memorandum From the President's Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy) to the Members of the Standing Group of the National Security Council Washington, May 2, 1963.

Top Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only.

The following assignments have been made as a result of the discussion in the Standing Group on Tuesday, April 30th:

1. There will be an examination of the possible developments in Cuba if Castro were to disappear from the scene. This analysis will be developed by Mr. Sherman Kent and will be available for discussion at the meeting of the Standing Group on May 14th.

2. There will be an analysis of the possible use of contingencies for the achievement of wider political objectives. This analysis will be conducted under the direction of Mr. Alexis Johnson and Mr. Paul Nitze, and its first results will be available for discussion at the meeting of the Standing Group on May 14th. This first analysis will provide:

a. A detailed examination of possible action in the event of interference with surveillance; and

b. a more general assessment of possible use of other contingencies in Cuba or in the waters around Cuba.

3. The Central Intelligence Agency will prepare a general paper on the possible forms of effective interference with the economic life of Cuba by sabotage or other means. In particular, CIA will report on the oil problem in relation to Cuba. It is hoped that a first report on this study may be available next week for distribution.

4. The Department of State will examine the possible use of the sugar market as a means of complicating the life of the Castro regime. It is hoped that this study will be available next week.

5. The principal topic of discussion for the meeting of the Standing Group on May 7th will be the development of a U.S. program and policy toward post-Castro Cuba, and the initial lead in the discussion will be taken by Mr. Wilson for USIA. Appropriate papers will be circulated before noon on Monday, May 6th.

McGeorge Bundy


Friday, 10 May 1963
Lisa Howard's April interview with Fidel Castro airs.

Ashton

Edited by Ashton Gray

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I have added the emphasis to the following:

Thursday, 2 May 1963

DOCUMENT

Memorandum From the President's Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy) to the Members of the Standing Group of the National Security Council Washington, May 2, 1963.

Top Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only.

The following assignments have been made as a result of the discussion in the Standing Group on Tuesday, April 30th:

1. There will be an examination of the possible developments in Cuba if Castro were to disappear from the scene. This analysis will be developed by Mr. Sherman Kent and will be available for discussion at the meeting of the Standing Group on May 14th.

2. There will be an analysis of the
possible use of contingencies
for the achievement of wider political objectives. This analysis will be conducted under the direction of Mr. Alexis Johnson and
Mr. Paul Nitze
, and its first results will be available for discussion at the meeting of the Standing Group on May 14th. This first analysis will provide:

a. A detailed examination of possible action in the event of interference with surveillance; and

b. a more general assessment of possible use of other contingencies in Cuba or in the waters around Cuba.

3. The Central Intelligence Agency will prepare a general paper on the possible forms of effective interference with the economic life of Cuba by sabotage or other means. In particular, CIA will report on the oil problem in relation to Cuba. It is hoped that a first report on this study may be available next week for distribution.

4. The Department of State will examine the possible use of the sugar market as a means of complicating the life of the Castro regime. It is hoped that this study will be available next week.

5. The principal topic of discussion for the meeting of the Standing Group on May 7th will be the development of a U.S. program and policy toward post-Castro Cuba, and the initial lead in the discussion will be taken by Mr. Wilson for USIA. Appropriate papers will be circulated before noon on Monday, May 6th.

McGeorge Bundy

James Bamford's BODY OF SECRETS pgs 89-90, emphasis added:

In May 1963, Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul H. Nitze sent a plan to the White House proposing "a possible scenario whereby an attack on a United States reconnaissance aircraft could be exploited toward the end of effecting the removal of the Castro regime." In the event Cuba attacked a U-2, the plan proposed sending in additional American pilots, this time on dangerous, unnecessary low-level reconnaissance missions with the expectation that they would also be shot down, thus provoking a war "[T]he U.S. could undertake various measures designed to stimulate the Cubans to provoke a new incident," said the plan. Nitze, however, did not volunteer to be one of the pilots.

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Paul, in addition to the information that Plumlee reportedly flew Lisa Howard on her interview mission to Cuba in late April 1963, I thought it would be worth including this, although there is no way, so far, to date the described events accurately. I'll just quote these relevant passages from the Orange County Weekly's story of 14 September 2006, "Cocaine Airways—A Former CIA Pilot Says Secret Flights To El Toro Could Explain A Marine Officer's `Suicide'," by Nick Schou:

  • William Robert "Tosh" Plumlee was a CIA contract pilot. He worked where the agency sent him. That meant that he ran guns to Fidel Castro in the 1950s, and then, when Castro overthrew Fulgencio Batista, Plumlee ran guns to Castro's opponents.
    ...[Plumlee]: "I started flying for a series of companies—Southwest Aero Charter, Intermountain Aviation, Riddle Aviation in Miami, and a few others."
    Plumlee would only later discover his employers were funded, if not completely run, by the CIA. His first major assignment: running guns from the Florida Keys to Fidel Castro and a group of students at the University of Havana known as the Movement of the 26th of July, or M26-7. The group was supported by the CIA in its effort to overthrow Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista. "I was making hit-and-run raids in Cuba," Plumlee says. "The CIA was funding it and sending guns and hardware to them, and I was flying those guns in and out of Cuba."
    On one such raid, in the mountains of northern Cuba near Santa Clara, Plumlee's DC-3 airplane lost an engine. "We couldn't get out of there," he says. "We made a weapons drop there at a site that had been secured and we landed and couldn't get enough power to get out. We abandoned the aircraft and they took us to Raul Castro's compound. Raul Castro got me off the island. I had coffee with Fidel Castro in the mountains. Fidel Castro gave me a fatigue hat. I thought he was democratic and patriotic and still to this day believe we drove him into this communist deal. All he wanted was tractors."
    One of Plumlee's partners in running guns to Castro and his cohorts was a man we'll call "Carlos," an M26-7 member whose sister, along with several others, had been gunned down by Batista's agents in a raid on a Havana safe house. Convinced a Batista agent masquerading as a revolutionary had aided the attack, Carlos spent two years establishing the mole's identity and then lured him onto a gunrunning flight from Florida's Marathon Key to Cuba. Plumlee copiloted the plane.
    "Somewhere between Cat Cay, southeast of the Keys, and the Cuban coast, the door light went red in the cockpit, meaning the cargo door had been unlatched," Plumlee says. He went back to the cargo area to investigate. The suspected Batista agent had disappeared, and Carlos was re-latching the cargo door. "My copilot told me to get back in my seat," he says. "He told me it was a Cuban affair."
    In 1961, two years after Castro took over Cuba, Plumlee went to work running guns to Castro's right-wing opponents. He says he was attached to the CIA's Miami station in a project known as JMWAVE, the agency's codename for anti-Castro operations.
    "JMWAVE was the first time I knew I was CIA," Plumlee says. He got to be friends with various members of Alpha 66, a group of anti-Castro extremists recruited by the CIA to carry out terrorist attacks inside Cuba. One of those operatives was Frank Sturgis, who later turned up as a Watergate burglar. "Sturgis and I made flights to Cuba together," Plumlee says. "He was a good friend of mine in the Cuba days. We dropped some leaflets over Cuba together and made an air raid over Santa Clara. ..."

The Santa Clara reference might help narrow down that event. Guevara entered Santa Clara on 28 December 1958.

Ashton

Edited by Ashton Gray

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Paul, I fail to see where you discount the following:

http://www.whatreallyhappened.com/northwoods.html

Cliff,

I don't. In fact, I welcome Bamford's work and think it very significant. I think you entirely right in urging its significance. Were I think you err is in 1) your interpretation of its significance; and 2) your failure to take account of the much greater benefits to the US of Castro remaining in power.

What do I mean by 1)? Well, consider the case of China. Twice the military and CIA came close to provoking full-scale war with China, first through the medium of the US intervention in Korea, then again in Vietnam. In both instances, "higher forces" within the politico-corporate elite rallied to thwart the attempts. Luce and his publications, for example, offer fascinating insights into the limitations of CIA-Pentagon reach.

Cliff Varnell:

I do not buy the view that "the CIA" was, or is, a monolithic entity

wherein all the players are on the same page.

I agree, but only up to a point. The degree of consensus among the leadership of the Agency, both formal and actual, as to the desirability of offing Kennedy seems to me formidable; and is reflected in the diverse components of the organisation deployed in coup preparation, execution, and cover-up.
Cliff Varnell:

In 1963, I'll argue, there were factions in CIA loyal to different masters.

Again, qualified agreement. But surely these differences raised their head post-coup, not pre-? In other words, what united them was a shared contempt and hatred for Kennedy. After the coup, the fracture lines appeared.

Have a good New Year,

Paul

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Cliff Varnell:

Paul, I fail to see where you discount the following:

http://www.whatreallyhappened.com/northwoods.html

Cliff,

I don't. In fact, I welcome Bamford's work and think it very significant. I think you entirely right in urging its significance. Were I think you err is in 1) your interpretation of its significance;

Paul, we can debate the "significance" of the Operation Northwoods documents

all day long, but it isn't going to change the fact that these EXIST.

It is a fact that the Joint Chiefs in March of 1962 signed off on false-flag/ginned-intel

plots against Castro.

It is a fact that in August of 1964 the US military used the false-flag/ginned-intel

Gulf of Tonkin Incident to ramp up US involvement in Vietnam.

It is a fact that Neo-Con foreign policy is often based on ginned-intel, witness

the current war in Iraq.

Given the documentary and historical evidence of these false-flag/ginned-intel

plots and operations, how on Earth can anyone heap "ridicule and scorn" on the

notion that just such a false flag attack on Kennedy was possible?

I don't see where you show any proof that the anti-Castro forces

were any less committed to the overthrow of Castro merely because

other factions in the American ruling elite desired a different result.

and 2) your failure to take account of the much greater benefits to the US of Castro remaining in power.

Paul, you write about "the US" is if it were a monolithic entity.

I think you make a crucial mistake in not recognizing the diverse power

centers within the American ruling elite.

Eastern Establishment blue-bloods like McGeorge Bundy represented

different interests than intel cowboys like Robert Maheu.

Just because there were CIA efforts in installing Castro, that doesn't mean

that people didn't change their minds after the deed was accomplished.

What do I mean by 1)? Well, consider the case of China. Twice the military and CIA came close to provoking full-scale war with China, first through the medium of the US intervention in Korea, then again in Vietnam. In both instances, "higher forces" within the politico-corporate elite rallied to thwart the attempts. Luce and his publications, for example, offer fascinating insights into the limitations of CIA-Pentagon reach.
Again, you make the unsupported assumption that "the military" and "the CIA"

were monolithic entities with a lock-step super-hawk policy.

And how on earth does "CIA-Pentagon" reach differ in any respect from "the reach of

the politico-corporate elite"?

Could you expand on how "CIA-Pentagon reach" is divorced from the (usually cooperating

but oft times competing) factions within the American ruling elite?

Cliff Varnell:

I do not buy the view that "the CIA" was, or is, a monolithic entity

wherein all the players are on the same page.

I agree, but only up to a point. The degree of consensus among the leadership of the Agency, both formal and actual, as to the desirability of offing Kennedy seems to me formidable; and is reflected in the diverse components of the organisation deployed in coup preparation, execution, and cover-up.
Paul, have you read the following?

THE LAST INVESTIGATION, by Gaeton Fonzi

BREACH OF TRUST, by Gerald McKnight

SOMEONE WOULD HAVE TALKED, by Larry Hancock

Read those and come back and tell me how much scorn you have

for the false-flag scenario.

Cliff Varnell:

In 1963, I'll argue, there were factions in CIA loyal to different masters.

Again, qualified agreement. But surely these differences raised their head post-coup, not pre-? In other words, what united them was a shared contempt and hatred for Kennedy. After the coup, the fracture lines appeared.

Have a good New Year,

Paul

What united them was a desire to invade Cuba. To deny that such sentiment

existed is fallacious, to put it politely.

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Cliff Varnell:

Paul, we can debate the "significance" of the Operation Northwoods documents

all day long, but it isn't going to change the fact that these EXIST.

Cliff, never said they didn't.
It is a fact that the Joint Chiefs in March of 1962 signed off on false-flag/ginned-intel plots against Castro.

It is a fact that in August of 1964 the US military used the false-flag/ginned-intel

Gulf of Tonkin Incident to ramp up US involvement in Vietnam.

Again, with regard to your first paragraph-statement, I've never said they didn't. But note your second para - it's Vietnam that gets attacked, not Cuba! How come? Are we really to believe that the CIA could successfully sheep-dip Oswald in Russia, but couldn't lay an uncomplicated, if bogus, trail from Oswald to Castro? Yet this is precisely what happened, with Oswald undertaking a series of contradictory steps and poses that rendered "the Castro dunnit" scenario untenable. Angleton couldn't do better in New Orleans than he could in Minsk?

It is a fact that Neo-Con foreign policy is often based on ginned-intel, witness

the current war in Iraq.

Absolutely - but not just Neo-Con. Hasn't this mostly been the case?
Given the documentary and historical evidence of these false-flag/ginned-intel

plots and operations, how on Earth can anyone heap "ridicule and scorn" on the

notion that just such a false flag attack on Kennedy was possible?

I haven't poured anything remotely resembling "ridicule and scorn" on the notion - I sought to put a reasoned case that a) the CIA installed Castro, and B) did so for eminently rational, if thoroughly deplorable, reasons. My point being that this was a long-term, political programme that was not to be terminated within a couple of years of initiation. But the veneer of deep-seated hostility had to be preserved, even as successive would-be coups/assassination attempts were cocked-up and thwarted. Deliberately, in my view.

I don't see where you show any proof that the anti-Castro forces

were any less committed to the overthrow of Castro merely because

other factions in the American ruling elite desired a different result.

No, not least because I wouldn't attempt anything so half-baked. I accept, mostly without reservation, the enduring determination of most, if not all, of the anti-Castro Cubans, to chuck out Castro. Trouble is, a) they were never the ones with the real power; and B) I rather suspect that a significant number of anti-Castro Cubans share my disbelief at the genuine resolve of the CIA et al to effect such a change.

Paul

(first half of post - had to split in two due to exceeding permissible number of quotes)

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and 2) your failure to take account of the much greater benefits to the US of Castro remaining in power.

Paul, you write about "the US" is if it were a monolithic entity.

I think you make a crucial mistake in not recognizing the diverse power

centers within the American ruling elite.

Eastern Establishment blue-bloods like McGeorge Bundy represented

different interests than intel cowboys like Robert Maheu.

Sorry, Cliff, but I just don't buy. Geographical conceptions of power diversity seem to me superficial and ultimately untenable. Has real power in the US really changed locus to that degree? By second or third generation, aren't the descendants of the Cowboys educating their kids at the same schools and unis as the Yankees? Isn't there an elaborate series of organisations and get-togethers - from CFR meetings to Bohemian Grove - designed to prevent precisely the kind of regional fissiparousness you have set in stone? Hasn't that been something akin to a post-Civil War obsession with the Yankees?
Just because there were CIA efforts in installing Castro, that doesn't mean

that people didn't change their minds after the deed was accomplished.

Installing Castro was inherently a long-range gambit, for which a swift, public, rhetorical volte-face was essential.

And how on earth does "CIA-Pentagon" reach differ in any respect from "the reach of

the politico-corporate elite"?

At most basic level, Wall Street, for example, sees not just an enemy, but a market. Letting LeMay loose on sparsely occupied jungle in south-east Asia is one thing: Letting him zap Moscow or Peking all together another.
Could you expand on how "CIA-Pentagon reach" is divorced from the (usually cooperating

but oft times competing) factions within the American ruling elite?

There is a much greater tendency to group-think and top-down obedience in a military or secret police environments, despite the many and varied efforts to combat that at US military colleges, and CIA think-tanks (IDA, Rand etc.) Political thinking tends to be crude and often alarmingly short-sighted, a problem compounded by the nature of traditional recruitment practices.

Cliff Varnell:

I do not buy the view that "the CIA" was, or is, a monolithic entity

wherein all the players are on the same page.

In the Kennedy assassination? You must share with me the list of resignees or dissidents? And no, I don't think the analysts are synonymous with the cover-ops brigade. Real power lies with the latter: the former is more often than not little more than a retrospective fig-leaf.
Paul, have you read the following?

THE LAST INVESTIGATION, by Gaeton Fonzi

BREACH OF TRUST, by Gerald McKnight

SOMEONE WOULD HAVE TALKED, by Larry Hancock

Read those and come back and tell me how much scorn you have

for the false-flag scenario.

Read 1 and 2 on your list. 2 most recently. Very fine until it gets onto the Secret Service, at which point it's laughably bad.

Cliff Varnell:

In 1963, I'll argue, there were factions in CIA loyal to different masters.

As I indicated earlier, I don't dissent on the mansion-has-many-rooms idea. But not when it came to killing Kennedy. For all that we disagree on this, I'd be delighted to see a thorough exposition of your ideas on which faction was loyal to whom/or what; and how such divisions manifested themselves both pre- and post-coup.
What united them was a desire to invade Cuba. To deny that such sentiment

existed is fallacious, to put it politely.

No, it isn't. To the contrary: it is logical and sustained by the evidence. After all, they didn't invade Cuba!

Paul

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Paul,

I've responded to your second post first, and I'll be back

Tue with my response to the first part. Happy New Year.

Paul Rigby wrote:

(quote on)

and 2) your failure to take account of the much greater benefits to the US of Castro

remaining in power.

(quote off)

I responded:

(quote on)

Paul, you write about "the US" is if it were a monolithic entity.

I think you make a crucial mistake in not recognizing the diverse power

centers within the American ruling elite.

Eastern Establishment blue-bloods like McGeorge Bundy represented

different interests than intel cowboys like Robert Maheu.

(quote off)

Paul Rigby:

Sorry, Cliff, but I just don't buy. Geographical conceptions of power diversity

seem to me superficial and ultimately untenable. Has real power in the US really

changed locus to that degree?

Cliff Varnell:

Ask a half million recently slaughtered Iraqis, Paul.

That is the result of a very real "geographical conception," the Neo-Con foreign

policy forged in the boardrooms of the energy/munitions/illicit-drug companies/ops --

and I'm not talking about some mythical "unseen hand.

The hands are all too well known -- Halliburton, Chevron-Texaco, Bechtel, Carlyle.

There was NO push to invade Iraq outside of a relatively small group within the

American ruling elite who allowed the attacks of Nine Eleven to manufacture

US public consent to invade Iraq.

The JFK plotters were attempting to use JFK's death for the same reason,

only the target was Cuba.

Paul Rigby:

By second or third generation, aren't the descendants of the Cowboys educating

their kids at the same schools and unis as the Yankees? Isn't there an elaborate

series of organisations and get-togethers - from CFR meetings to Bohemian Grove -

designed to prevent precisely the kind of regional fissiparousness you have set in

stone?

Cliff Varnell:

"Fissiparousness" is an exaggeration. The various factions of the ruling elite

have always worked together until their own agendas come into conflict.

On Eleven Twenty Two the factions of the American ruling class didn't come into

conflict until Oswald was captured. The Eastern WASPs killed the Castro-did-it

scenario because they didn't want business with the Reds disrupted without

"irrevocable" proof of Commie complicity.

In 1963 guys like H. L. Hunt and J. Edgar Hoover thought the "Eastern Establishment"

was Communist.

You can produce all the generalities you want, Paul, but looking at the forces

in play in 1963 defies your "set-in-stone" monolithic elite model.

Paul Rigby:

Hasn't that been something akin to a post-Civil War obsession with the Yankees?

Cliff Varnell:

Why would it be an obsession if it were not a systemic problem?

You claim that the CFR and Bohemian Grove are "designed to prevent" such conflict,

but you assume this preventative is always successful.

No such assumption can be made.

Cliff Varnell:

Just because there were CIA efforts in installing Castro, that doesn't mean

that people didn't change their minds after the deed was accomplished.

Paul Rigby:

Installing Castro was inherently a long-range gambit, for which a swift, public, rhetorical

volte-face was essential.

Cliff Varnell:

And yet out of the maw of this monolithic American Ruling Elite, which installed

Castro, came high-level secret plans to remove Castro...(?)

You can't have it both ways, Paul. If the American ruling elite had decided on

installing Castro as a long-time gambit, how is it that so much effort was put

into removing Castro at the highest levels of the government?

And explain how taking away the lucrative Cuban market -- 90 miles off

the US shore -- was in anyone's business interests.

CV: And how on earth does "CIA-Pentagon" reach differ in any respect from "the reach of

the politico-corporate elite"?

At most basic level, Wall Street, for example, sees not just an enemy, but a market.

But they didn't have a problem losing the Cuban market?

Letting LeMay loose on sparsely occupied jungle in south-east Asia is one thing: Letting him zap Moscow or Peking all together another.
Apples and oranges. The "reach" of the American ruling elite and the "CIA-Pentagon"

are one and the same thing.

That's how the American ruling elite manifests its "reach" -- with the military

and intel services.

The unilateral bombing of Moscow and Peking was the mad dream of rabid

anti-Communists. In 1962-3 their focus was on Cuba, as I believe the Northwoods

documents reveal.

Could you expand on how "CIA-Pentagon reach" is divorced from the (usually cooperating

but oft times competing) factions within the American ruling elite?

There is a much greater tendency to group-think and top-down obedience in a military or secret police environments, despite the many and varied efforts to combat that at US military colleges, and CIA think-tanks (IDA, Rand etc.) Political thinking tends to be crude and often alarmingly short-sighted, a problem compounded by the nature of traditional recruitment practices.
The Mormon CIA officers don't work for the same interests as the WASP blue-blood CIA

officers. They don't go to the same schools. They didn't go to the same churches. And

during the Rockefeller v. Hughes battle over TWA these two wings of the CIA didn't go

to the same holiday parties.

Cliff Varnell:

I do not buy the view that "the CIA" was, or is, a monolithic entity

wherein all the players are on the same page.

In the Kennedy assassination? You must share with me the list of resignees or dissidents?

The only people who knew about it were the people involved.

The first two people to jump off the Commies-did-it bandwagon were McGeorge Bundy

and Averell Harriman.

Vincent Salandria:

The Situation Room of the White House first fingered Oswald as the lone assassin...McGeorge Bundy was in charge of the Situation Room and was spending that fateful afternoon receiving phone calls from President Johnson, who was calling from Air Force One when the lone-assassin myth was prematurely given birth.
Paul, when Oswald was captured, everything changed. The plotters lost control of the

cover-up -- the blame-it-on-Castro scenario fell apart -- and Bundy and Harriman took

over quarterbacking the "lone-nut" scenario.

LBJ wasn't in the White House more than a few minutes before Harriman came

over to nix all talk of Soviet complicity (Holland, THE KENNEDY ASSASSINATION

TAPES, pg 57.)

Paul Rigby:

And no, I don't think the analysts are synonymous with the cover-ops brigade. Real

power lies with the latter: the former is more often than not little more than a

retrospective fig-leaf.

Cliff Varnell:

Wasn't it the cover-ops brigade that pushed hardest for a Cuban invasion?

I don't see how you can deny the historical fact of this.

CV:

Paul, have you read the following?

THE LAST INVESTIGATION, by Gaeton Fonzi

BREACH OF TRUST, by Gerald McKnight

SOMEONE WOULD HAVE TALKED, by Larry Hancock

Read those and come back and tell me how much scorn you have

for the false-flag scenario.

Read 1 and 2 on your list. 2 most recently. Very fine until it gets onto the Secret Service, at which point it's laughably bad.

SOMEONE WOULD HAVE TALKED is a must-must read.

Cliff Varnell:

In 1963, I'll argue, there were factions in CIA loyal to different masters.

As I indicated earlier, I don't dissent on the mansion-has-many-rooms idea. But not when it came to killing Kennedy. For all that we disagree on this, I'd be delighted to see a thorough exposition of your ideas on which faction was loyal to whom/or what; and how such divisions manifested themselves both pre- and post-coup.

The plotters were loyal to a POLICY, not an organization.

Those people in CIA most devoted to this POLICY change conspired to kill Kennedy

in a manner that would propel them toward their goal: invade Cuba.

Why would we question the loyalty of any American NOT involved in the plot?

Cliff Varnell:

What united them was a desire to invade Cuba. To deny that such sentiment

existed is fallacious, to put it politely.

Paul Rigby:

No, it isn't. To the contrary: it is logical and sustained by the evidence. After all, they didn't invade Cuba!

Cliff Varnell:

So Operation Mongoose, Operation Northwoods, and that huge JM/WAVE station

were all figments of the imagination?

It is inconvenient to your pet theory that this anti-Castro effort existed, therefore

it did not exist?

Because a plot fails, that precludes any possibility of such a plot?

Plots only exist when they succeed, is that what you and Ashton are pushing?

Edited by Cliff Varnell

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Paul,

I've responded to your second post first, and I'll be back

Tue with my response to the first part. Happy New Year.

Paul Rigby wrote:

(quote on)

and 2) your failure to take account of the much greater benefits to the US of Castro

remaining in power.

(quote off)

I responded:

(quote on)

Paul, you write about "the US" is if it were a monolithic entity.

I think you make a crucial mistake in not recognizing the diverse power

centers within the American ruling elite.

Eastern Establishment blue-bloods like McGeorge Bundy represented

different interests than intel cowboys like Robert Maheu.

(quote off)

Paul Rigby:

Sorry, Cliff, but I just don't buy. Geographical conceptions of power diversity

seem to me superficial and ultimately untenable. Has real power in the US really

changed locus to that degree?

Cliff Varnell:

Ask a half million recently slaughtered Iraqis, Paul.

That is the result of a very real "geographical conception," the Neo-Con foreign

policy forged in the boardrooms of the energy/munitions/illicit-drug companies/ops --

and I'm not talking about some mythical "unseen hand.

The hands are all too well known -- Halliburton, Chevron-Texaco, Bechtel, Carlyle.

There was NO push to invade Iraq outside of a relatively small group within the

American ruling elite who allowed the attacks of Nine Eleven to manufacture

US public consent to invade Iraq.

The JFK plotters were attempting to use JFK's death for the same reason,

only the target was Cuba.

Paul Rigby:

By second or third generation, aren't the descendants of the Cowboys educating

their kids at the same schools and unis as the Yankees? Isn't there an elaborate

series of organisations and get-togethers - from CFR meetings to Bohemian Grove -

designed to prevent precisely the kind of regional fissiparousness you have set in

stone?

Cliff Varnell:

"Fissiparousness" is an exaggeration. The various factions of the ruling elite

have always worked together until their own agendas come into conflict.

On Eleven Twenty Two the factions of the American ruling class didn't come into

conflict until Oswald was captured. The Eastern WASPs killed the Castro-did-it

scenario because they didn't want business with the Reds disrupted without

"irrevocable" proof of Commie complicity.

In 1963 guys like H. L. Hunt and J. Edgar Hoover thought the "Eastern Establishment"

was Communist.

You can produce all the generalities you want, Paul, but looking at the forces

in play in 1963 defies your "set-in-stone" monolithic elite model.

Paul Rigby:

Hasn't that been something akin to a post-Civil War obsession with the Yankees?

Cliff Varnell:

Why would it be an obsession if it were not a systemic problem?

You claim that the CFR and Bohemian Grove are "designed to prevent" such conflict,

but you assume this preventative is always successful.

No such assumption can be made.

Cliff Varnell:

Just because there were CIA efforts in installing Castro, that doesn't mean

that people didn't change their minds after the deed was accomplished.

Paul Rigby:

Installing Castro was inherently a long-range gambit, for which a swift, public, rhetorical

volte-face was essential.

Cliff Varnell:

And yet out of the maw of this monolithic American Ruling Elite, which installed

Castro, came high-level secret plans to remove Castro...(?)

You can't have it both ways, Paul. If the American ruling elite had decided on

installing Castro as a long-time gambit, how is it that so much effort was put

into removing Castro at the highest levels of the government?

And explain how taking away the lucrative Cuban market -- 90 miles off

the US shore -- was in anyone's business interests.

CV: And how on earth does "CIA-Pentagon" reach differ in any respect from "the reach of

the politico-corporate elite"?

At most basic level, Wall Street, for example, sees not just an enemy, but a market.
But they didn't have a problem losing the Cuban market?
Letting LeMay loose on sparsely occupied jungle in south-east Asia is one thing: Letting him zap Moscow or Peking all together another.
Apples and oranges. The "reach" of the American ruling elite and the "CIA-Pentagon"

are one and the same thing.

That's how the American ruling elite manifests its "reach" -- with the military

and intel services.

The unilateral bombing of Moscow and Peking was the mad dream of rabid

anti-Communists. In 1962-3 their focus was on Cuba, as I believe the Northwoods

documents reveal.

Could you expand on how "CIA-Pentagon reach" is divorced from the (usually cooperating

but oft times competing) factions within the American ruling elite?

There is a much greater tendency to group-think and top-down obedience in a military or secret police environments, despite the many and varied efforts to combat that at US military colleges, and CIA think-tanks (IDA, Rand etc.) Political thinking tends to be crude and often alarmingly short-sighted, a problem compounded by the nature of traditional recruitment practices.
The Mormon CIA officers don't work for the same interests as the WASP blue-blood CIA

officers. They don't go to the same schools. They didn't go to the same churches. And

during the Rockefeller v. Hughes battle over TWA these two wings of the CIA didn't go

to the same holiday parties.

Cliff Varnell:

I do not buy the view that "the CIA" was, or is, a monolithic entity

wherein all the players are on the same page.

In the Kennedy assassination? You must share with me the list of resignees or dissidents?
The only people who knew about it were the people involved.

The first two people to jump off the Commies-did-it bandwagon were McGeorge Bundy

and Averell Harriman.

Vincent Salandria:

The Situation Room of the White House first fingered Oswald as the lone assassin...McGeorge Bundy was in charge of the Situation Room and was spending that fateful afternoon receiving phone calls from President Johnson, who was calling from Air Force One when the lone-assassin myth was prematurely given birth.
Paul, when Oswald was captured, everything changed. The plotters lost control of the

cover-up -- the blame-it-on-Castro scenario fell apart -- and Bundy and Harriman took

over quarterbacking the "lone-nut" scenario.

LBJ wasn't in the White House more than a few minutes before Harriman came

over to nix all talk of Soviet complicity (Holland, THE KENNEDY ASSASSINATION

TAPES, pg 57.)

Paul Rigby:

And no, I don't think the analysts are synonymous with the cover-ops brigade. Real

power lies with the latter: the former is more often than not little more than a

retrospective fig-leaf.

Cliff Varnell:

Wasn't it the cover-ops brigade that pushed hardest for a Cuban invasion?

I don't see how you can deny the historical fact of this.

CV:

Paul, have you read the following?

THE LAST INVESTIGATION, by Gaeton Fonzi

BREACH OF TRUST, by Gerald McKnight

SOMEONE WOULD HAVE TALKED, by Larry Hancock

Read those and come back and tell me how much scorn you have

for the false-flag scenario.

Read 1 and 2 on your list. 2 most recently. Very fine until it gets onto the Secret Service, at which point it's laughably bad.
SOMEONE WOULD HAVE TALKED is a must-must read.

Cliff Varnell:

In 1963, I'll argue, there were factions in CIA loyal to different masters.

As I indicated earlier, I don't dissent on the mansion-has-many-rooms idea. But not when it came to killing Kennedy. For all that we disagree on this, I'd be delighted to see a thorough exposition of your ideas on which faction was loyal to whom/or what; and how such divisions manifested themselves both pre- and post-coup.

The plotters were loyal to a POLICY, not an organization.

Those people in CIA most devoted to this POLICY change conspired to kill Kennedy

in a manner that would propel them toward their goal: invade Cuba.

Why would we question the loyalty of any American NOT involved in the plot?

Cliff Varnell:

What united them was a desire to invade Cuba. To deny that such sentiment

existed is fallacious, to put it politely.

Paul Rigby:

No, it isn't. To the contrary: it is logical and sustained by the evidence. After all, they didn't invade Cuba!

Cliff Varnell:

So Operation Mongoose, Operation Northwoods, and that huge JM/WAVE station

were all figments of the imagination?

It is inconvenient to your pet theory that this anti-Castro effort existed, therefore

it did not exist?

Because a plot fails, that precludes any possibility of such a plot?

Plots only exist when they succeed, is that what you and Ashton are pushing?

**************************************************

"In 1963 guys like H. L. Hunt and J. Edgar Hoover thought the "Eastern Establishment"

was Communist."

Since when did the "Eastern Establishment," or The Rockefeller/Morgan Trusts, or any Wall Street financial house/brokerage firm need a political label, to begin with? The only party they belong to is the one they've created to ensure their investment portfolios, and to secure their holdings, and their bank accounts, into perpetuity. They don't give a rat's ass what you call them because they don't require any partisan participation, nor allegiance, from the left or the right. If anything, they are the ''right," as in "fascism," regardless of any name you might want to hang on them. Their economic philosophy is steeped in the European tradition of the baronial/colonial oligarchal system. How anyone can buy into the idea of a democrat/republican, right-wing/left-wing,

liberal/conservative political faction at work here, with these families, is ludicrous. They'll put their money wherever, and with whomever's "cause celebre," or noble ideal they think might turn them a profit. Operation Mockingbird at work here, ready to placate the masses into believing that, "We're on your side, no matter which side you happen to be on. You name it, we'll claim it." They'll play both sides of the fence for maximum return on the dividend.

"Cliff Varnell:

What united them was a desire to invade Cuba. To deny that such sentiment existed is fallacious, to put it politely."

Wow! Now, that's a real "collegial" exchange, Cliff.

"Paul Rigby:

No, it isn't. To the contrary: it is logical and sustained by the evidence. After all, they didn't invade Cuba!"

Exactly! They already had their eyes on the next, more lucrative prize, in the form of SEA aka Laos/VietNam/Cambodia where the REAL money could be made for their Brown and Root [future Halliburton], Bechtel, Mandeville accounts, etc. et.al. Plus, the contracts for Bell Helicopter, and Hughes, not to mention Northrup/Grummond. Oh, and don't forget the steel mills. Boy, were they going to clean up on Wall Street, or what? And hey, what the hell! The taxpayers were going to be footing the major part of the bill, as well as sustaining the losses, so who cares? Just as long as we make our profit margin, we can take the money and run.

Mr. Rigby, my suggestions are: Prouty's "Secret Team," and the CD's of Prouty's files available from Len Osanic: osanic@prouty.org, Donald Gibson's "Battling Wall Street," Harold Weisberg's "Whitewash" series, Mark Lane's "Rush to Judgement" and "Plausible Denial," Aaron Russo's movie, "America to Fascism," and Lyndon LaRouche's explanation of intropy/entrophy, as to how it relates to our economic policy and philosophy. He has been a great source of information and helped me to understand the history of the economic process as it's been implemented [as well as manipulated] by various factions from the 1500's to the present century. I've read excerpts of Bamford's book. I haven't as yet, read McKnight, nor Hancock, but eventually will get around to it.

"You can produce all the generalities you want, Paul, but looking at the forces

in play in 1963 defies your "set-in-stone" monolithic elite model."

Oh yeah? Well, regardless of needing the existence of any pretext to invade Cuba, there was a much larger agenda already simmering on the back-burner, in the money-making scam about to take place in SEA. That [venture] was the "Big Kahuna" that ended up lining the coffers of the few "above mentioned" corporations, making them rich off the blood shed by the sons and daughters in the U.S. Armed Forces [not to mention the blood of the South Vietnamese peasants]. The bill of which, being footed at the taxpayers's expense, couldn't put Humpty Dumpty back together again, nor stave off the major recession [depression] in the 1970's that we've yet to recover from, no matter what kind of single-digit unemployment rate they try to foster on you at this late date.

Incidently, if Afghanistan was the nail that sealed the U.S.S.R.'s coffin, then Iraq is going to be the one to seal the U.S.A.'s. War for the fun and profit of the ruling class, only ends up biting the 'po folks in the ass, in the end [no pun or rhyme intended]. Wake up, America! Even though we all know you're comatose, at this stage of the game.

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Cliff Varnell:

So Operation Mongoose, Operation Northwoods, and that huge JM/WAVE station

were all figments of the imagination?

It is inconvenient to your pet theory that this anti-Castro effort existed, therefore

it did not exist?

Because a plot fails, that precludes any possibility of such a plot?

Plots only exist when they succeed, is that what you and Ashton are pushing?

All figments of the imagination? Nope, just never implemented because real power had other plans. The Cuban market was simply traded for control of the rest of the region. Economic significance of Argentina, Brazil et al v. Cuba?

Hugo Chavez now fulfils the role of ostensible regional bogeyman, and US plots against him will almost certainly fail precisely as the elaborate paper exercises did in the case of Castro. The dirty secret in contemporary Venezuela's case is that Chavez is working for the economic integration of the region, an integration long earnestly desired by big capital in Washington and New York, but unachievable under overt US command. Hence Chavez's survival. The Guardian recently ran an unusually good piece arguing just this.

One final point: I ain't pushing anything with Mr Gray. On the subject of the medical evidence, I'm essentially on your side. Ashton and I will doubtless cross swords on that topic in due course. I meant what I said: I thought the exchanges between you and Ashton on the subject of Cuba were, and are, vitally important. And I thought Ashton bang on the money here.

Stay sober and virtuous,

Paul

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A “hidden hand” recurs so frequently in Castro’s rise to power as to render mainstream accounts silly. In April 1948, Castro participated in a pseudo-Communist revolt in Colombia launched in ostensible response to the CIA-orchestrated assassination of the Liberal presidential candidate, Jorge Eliecer Gaitan. According to a conservative Colombian paper, Castro and the rest of the Cuban delegation were quietly evacuated from the country by the Cuban embassy.
- Paul Rigby

Paul, I think it may have been John Simkin who, some time ago, put forward a similar view on Castro (I hope he'll correct me if I'm wrong). I was a little sceptical at the time, but my research on the Gaitan assassination started to make me wonder if it may not be true. One of the conclusions I reached in the Bogota Ripples thread was that John Spiritto organised the hit, and that Raphael Del Pino, who was with Castro, had helped ignite the ensuing riots with the aim of blaming the whole thing on Communists. Del Pino was a US citizen, and a member of the CIO affiliated anti-Communist Union of Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America. Post Cuban revolution, he was sentenced to 30 years for "counter-revolutionary" activities. Spiritto, on the other hand, got off lightly by comparison, despite confessing to organising the hit on Gaitan.

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A “hidden hand” recurs so frequently in Castro’s rise to power as to render mainstream accounts silly. In April 1948, Castro participated in a pseudo-Communist revolt in Colombia launched in ostensible response to the CIA-orchestrated assassination of the Liberal presidential candidate, Jorge Eliecer Gaitan. According to a conservative Colombian paper, Castro and the rest of the Cuban delegation were quietly evacuated from the country by the Cuban embassy.
- Paul Rigby

Paul, I think it may have been John Simkin who, some time ago, put forward a similar view on Castro (I hope he'll correct me if I'm wrong). I was a little sceptical at the time, but my research on the Gaitan assassination started to make me wonder if it may not be true. One of the conclusions I reached in the Bogota Ripples thread was that John Spiritto organised the hit, and that Raphael Del Pino, who was with Castro, had helped ignite the ensuing riots with the aim of blaming the whole thing on Communists. Del Pino was a US citizen, and a member of the CIO affiliated anti-Communist Union of Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America. Post Cuban revolution, he was sentenced to 30 years for "counter-revolutionary" activities. Spiritto, on the other hand, got off lightly by comparison, despite confessing to organising the hit on Gaitan.

Greg,

Magnificent research, as ever - respect!

Paul

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Tomorrow, I’ll append the Starnes article which gave rise to the chapterlet, so the reader can see what provoked it.

Day late, for which apologies: Never let anyone tell you that mainstream US journalism of the early 1960s was worthless; or confine your searchings to the CIA's NYT.

The New York World-Telegram & Sun, Monday, October 14, 1963, p.21

Viet Nam Another Cuba?

By Richard Starnes

The Central Intelligence Agency's role in Viet Nam has been assailed as bureaucratic ineptitude seasoned with arrogance of a high order, and it has been just as warmly defended as selfless patriotism of the utmost puissance.

An insight as to which version is true may be gained by reference to the fully documented - and unchallenged - story of the part played by the CIA in Cuba just before Fidel Castro rose to power. The parallels to today's gathering disaster in Saigon are remarkable, and so is the cloudy, controversial part essayed by the CIA.

Six years ago the same sort of drama was being played out in Havana. Fulgencio Batista, a dictator much hated by the Cuban people, was being harried - and inexorably destroyed - by a tiny guerrilla force of almost comic-opera weakness. Batista's large, well-equipped army was intact. His secret police were savagely efficient. But knowledgeable Americans on the scene felt a growing disquiet. Batista had everything going for him except the support of the people.

These circumstances, of course, are dramatically duplicated in Viet Nam today. And the sharpest parallel may be found in the curious role of the CIA - then as now.

The United States ambassador to Cuba during the twilight of Batista's brutal role was Earl E. T. Smith, a financier and former Army officer. Here is what he has had to say about his relations with the CIA during the period that bears such remarkable resemblance to the present dismal involvement in Saigon:

"In September, 1957, I asked the chief of the CIA section attached to the embassy to review their figures on Communist party strength in Cuba - both as to card-bearing Communists and Communist sympathizers.

"I questioned our estimates because nine years earlier, when the Communists for the last time in Cuba voted as a party under the Communist label, they polled over 120,000 votes…Nevertheless, the embassy CIA estimates on Communist party strength in Cuba in 1957 indicated only 10,000 card-bearing Communists and approximately 20,000 Communist sympathizers.

"It is interesting to note that the CIA officer had a closed mind and demonstrated a resentment to my references to Fidel…as the 'outlaw' and the 'bandit leader' in the hills.

"These feelings of resentment were shown by a remark he made when he walked out of my office. After I had asked him to review the figures, I heard him say. 'We don't care what you think."

That CIA official was subsequently transferred (another parallel to Saigon, where the chief of the CIA mission has lately been removed) but there is room to doubt whether the transfer of one individual could check the CIA's wilful ways.

"In September, 1957, Smith testified before the Senate internal security subcommittee, "the (Cuban) navy had an uprising at Cienfuegos. We in the American embassy were familiar that a revolt of some sort would take place. That information came to us through the CIA or some other source in the embassy."

The revolt failed. And at the trial of the officers who had attempted it, "it was brought out (again quoting Ambassador Smith) "that the No. 2 (CIA) man had said that if the revolution were successful the United States would recognize the revolutionaries."

As soon as the ambassador learned of this attempt by the CIA to fabricate foreign policy, he "laid down the law that neither the ambassador nor anyone else could give any statement as to whom the United States would recognize; that there were only two people in the United States who had that authority; one was the Secretary of State and the other was the President."

Just how poorly informed the CIA remained as to the true nature of Castroism may be gleaned from the testimony before the internal security subcommittee, given nearly a year after Castro came to power by Gen. C.P. Cabell, then deputy director of the CIA. "We believe," Gen. Cabell testified, "that Castro is not a member of the Communist party and does not consider himself to be a Communist."

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