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The Evil Genius of Fidel Castro

Jun 10, 2012 4:45 AM EDT

A legendary spymaster, the Cuban dictator knew

of Lee Harvey Oswald’s intention to kill President

Kennedy, but didn’t direct his assassination,

according to a recent book.

During the 1960s, Maurice Bishop was the alias used by an infamous

CIA officer in Mexico City, whom conspiracy theorists believe met Lee

Harvey Oswald shortly before President John F. Kennedy was murdered

in 1963. The alleged meeting is cited as clear evidence that CIA officers

were somehow involved in Kennedy’s assassination.

I knew Maurice Bishop, whose real name was David Atlee Phillips. A

long time ago, he got me into the agency. I know for certain that the CIA

did not kill President Kennedy. Yet Castro’s Secrets: The CIA and

Cuba’s Intelligence Machine, a recent book by former CIA analyst Brian

Lattell, has taught me many things I did not know about our shadow war

against the tiny, communist nation. And it has provided context and

overwhelming evidence for many of our intelligence failures vis-à-vis our

Cuban counterparts. Namely, that the claims against Phillips and the

CIA are the products of a decades-old Cuban disinformation campaign,

and that over the past 50 years, Castro has shown himself to be among

the greatest spymasters in modern history.

Castro’s Secrets begins like a slow murder mystery then builds damning

fact after damning fact into a conclusive, ground-breaking portrait, based

on firsthand sources, of how the Cuban strongman—in all his evil

brilliance—frequently ran circles around the CIA. Readers who start

Lattell’s book with the now widespread image of Castro as a slightly

avuncular, foolish caudillo will likely finish it wishing that President

Kennedy had followed through during the Bay of Pigs and rid us of this

sociopath and his murderous, corrupt regime.

Lattell has the background to write about Castro with authority: he began

tracking the Castro brothers for the agency back in the 1960s, finished

his career as the U.S. intelligence community’s most senior analyst for

Cuban affairs, and now is a senior research associate at the Institute for

Cuban and Cuban-American Relations.

The most interesting parts of his narrative revolve around how much

Castro knew about the plot to kill Kennedy, and a parallel attempt, on

the part of the CIA, to assassinate the Cuban dictator. Lattell delves into

this cloak-and-dagger tale through the story of Comandante Rolando

Cubela, a senior Cuban military officer who defected to the United

States. Yet Lattell alleges that Cubela, a hero of the revolution against

Batista, was actually one of Castro’s supreme triumphs, a double agent

run so well run that any intelligence officer would admire it.

During the 1960s, the agency knew Cubela by the pseudonym

AMLASH, and made him the centerpiece of its supreme assassination

plot against Castro. According to Lattell, the CIA trained Cubela to use a

special pistol with which to kill Castro from close range. He was then to

assume control of the country. The plan had the full backing of the

president and was likely set to begin in December 1963, just a month

after Kennedy was shot. But Cubela always avoided taking the pistol.

Lattell offers new evidence alleging that Castro personally ran Cubela

against the CIA from the start, dangling him in front of the agency in

1961 in Mexico City where Phillips, my eventual mentor, was stationed.

Castro even tipped the agency off that he knew all the details, in an effort

to convince Americans to back away from their plans. In October 1963,

just days after Cubela and his CIA handlers finalized the assassination

plot against Castro, the Cuban leader reportedly told a U.S.

congressman in Havana: “We don’t trust President Kennedy. We know

of the plans the CIA is carrying out.”

Castro also gave multiple public warnings that there would be grave

consequences if the Americans continued with their plans: “U.S. leaders

should think that if they are aiding terrorist plans to eliminate Cuban

leaders, they themselves will not be safe,” he said in early September


While conspiracy theorists harp on an alleged meeting between Oswald

and Phillips, Lattell shows that Castro actually had advance knowledge

of Oswald’s desire to kill Kennedy; in fact, he was told of it less than 24

hours after Oswald declared his intentions to Cuban intelligence officers

in Mexico City.

Lattell concludes that Castro did not direct Oswald to pull the trigger—

only that he did nothing to stop him. But elsewhere in Latin America, he

says that Fidel was intimately involved in assassination plots—from

sustained efforts to kill Venezuelan President Rómulo Betancourt—

Castro’s other bête noire after Kennedy—to the retribution

assassinations of almost everyone involved in the killing of Castro’s own

darling, Che Guevara.

No one in the CIA who noted Castro’s warnings appeared to take them

seriously, or knew of the plot to kill him; apparently, the White House

never became aware of the warnings, according to Lattell. Had the

importance of Castro’s comments been recognized, a decent counter-

intelligence officer should at least have thought twice about the AMLASH


Despite its efforts to kill Castro, the agency never established a way to

communicate with Cubela, on the ground in Havana. He frequently talked

tough, but did nothing; he had no real links to any military units in Cuba;

he continually raised his demands, in the end asking to meet with

Attorney General Robert Kennedy before agreeing to take any action.

And yet, Lattell says, the CIA pressed on. On Nov. 18, 1963, the agency

briefed Kennedy on the AMLASH plans, and received the go-ahead.

Three days later, Kennedy was dead. And the Cubela plot withered in

the chaotic aftermath of the president’s death.

Years later, the CIA did learn what Castro knew about Oswald, but

essentially did nothing with the information; it was apparently too

incendiary. As Lattell writes: “Even tentative evidence of a Cuban hand in

Kennedy’s death could have sparked a clamoring for punitive action...(so

the) story was squirreled away.”

It is possible that the information was considered so extraordinary that

lower-level officers didn’t believe it—an institutional blunder that

prevented anyone with authority or the proper perspective to pass it on to

policymakers; this, too, is typical, as my colleagues and I learned to our

chagrin after the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center.

One of the successes of Castro’s Secrets is that it offers readers a view

of both sides of the shadow war. As Jackie Gleason beamed his

escapism from Miami Beach to a public focused on the good life, the

CIA ran desperate, suicidal raids against Castro, conducted more often

than not to show President Kennedy that the agency was doing

something than out of any real expectation their plans would work.

There are familiar tales of half-baked assassination attempts and

exploding cigars. But as Lattell recounts them, he takes readers past

what was previously known and shows that the Kennedy brothers were

as single-minded in their efforts to eliminate Castro as he was ruthless

and devious.

The Kennedy’s had good reason. During the Cuban missile crisis, Castro

was eager for a fight with the U.S., according to Lattell. Though Castro

has spent roughly 50 years obfuscating his role—yet another of his

disinformation triumphs—Lattell offers convincing evidence that, at the

supreme moment of tension during the crisis, it was Castro who ordered

the downing of an American U-2 spy plane, not an overly excited local


Likewise, Lattell says, it was Castro who urged Soviet leader Nikita

Khrushchev to launch a nuclear war against the U.S. in response to the

deteriorating situation that the Cuban dictator had engineered. “Castro

suggested that in order to prevent our nuclear missiles from being

destroyed, we should launch a preemptive strike against the United

States,” Lattell writes, quoting Khrushchev’s memoirs, which are backed

up by quotes from Cuban defectors and other Russian officials.

One shares the horrified reactions of successive Soviet officials to the

man they called their “excitable,” communist ally, who was apparently

willing to see us all killed to serve his ego. Only a megalomaniac would

vehemently argue for Armageddon so that he could survive in a bunker,

the revolutionary hero presiding over an irradiated hemisphere. But then,

in Lattell’s account, this is Castro through and through: a sociopath from

early manhood, who in the barrios of Havana after World War II, gunned

down rivals, shooting them in the back from a distance.

For all his determination, Kennedy failed to kill Castro, not just because

the determined loser Oswald shot him, inflecting history, but because

before his death, Kennedy’s plans against Castro were based on the

overly optimistic assessments of our intelligence community. Yet, the

cynicism, delusions, and wishful thinking—all presented as sensible—

that plagued the CIA efforts to eliminate Castro were characteristic of

several agency operations during my own career decades later (one only

has to remember the contra war in Nicaragua in the 1980s and so many

of the Bush administration’s actions during the war on terror).

Yet I sympathize with my predecessors: for I experienced the intense

pressures from policymakers to solve the problem, when my colleagues

and I knew full well that we could offer little but puffed up hopes and

demonstrations of aggressive action, while having to downplay our


During the mid-1980s, I was spared the misfortune of working Cuban

operations. But by the late 1980s, it seems the CIA fared much better in

its battles with Castro. The tables had turned. And in the end, it seems

that Phillips, my old mentor, maligned as he has been by Cuban

disinformation, will have the last laugh. For after reading Castro’s

Secrets, no one will be able to think of Fidel as anything but what Lattell

shows him to be: a murderer, sociopath, and deluded egomaniac.

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all day long.

Glenn L. Carle spent 23 years in the Clandestine Services of the CIA,

and is the author of The Interrogator: An Education.

For inquiries, please contact The Daily Beast at editorial@thedailybeast.com.


Best Regards in Research,


Donald Roberdeau

U.S.S. John F. Kennedy, CV-67, plank walker

Sooner, or later, The Truth emerges Clearly

For your considerations....

Homepage : President KENNEDY "Men of Courage" speech, and Assassination Evidence,

Witnesses, Suspects + Outstanding Researchers Discoveries and Considerations.... http://droberdeau.bl...ination_09.html

Dealey Plaza Map : Detailing 11-22-63 Victims precise locations, Witnesses, Films & Photos,

Evidence, Suspected bullet trajectories, Important information & Key Considerations, in One Convenient Resource.... http://img690.imageshack.us/img690/2192/dpupdated110110.gif

Visual Report : "The First Bullet Impact Into President Kennedy: while JFK was Still Hidden

Under the 'magic-limbed-ricochet-tree' ".... http://img504.imageshack.us/img504/2446/206cropjfk1102308ms8.gif

Visual Report : Reality versus C.A.D. : the Real World, versus, Garbage-In, Garbage-Out.... http://img248.imageshack.us/img248/8543/realityvscad.gif

Discovery : "Very Close JFK Assassination Witness ROSEMARY WILLIS Zapruder Film

Documented 2nd Headsnap:

West, Ultrafast, and Directly Towards the Grassy Knoll".... http://droberdeau.bl...assination.html

T ogether

E veryone

A chieves

M ore

For the United States:




Edited by Don Roberdeau
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