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RFK files show missile crisis disrupted anti-Castro plots


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RFK files show missile crisis disrupted anti-Castro plots

By James Rosen

Published July 25, 2013

FoxNews.com

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/07/25/rfk-files-show-missile-crisis-disrupted-anti-castro-plots/?test=latestnews

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An example of anti-Castro literature developed as part of Operation Mongoose and released as part of the RFK files unsealed by the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum on July 24, 2013. (AP)

An example of correspondence released as part of the RFK files unsealed by the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum on July 24, 2013.

An example of anti-Castro cartoons developed as part of Operation Mongoose and released as part of the RFK files unsealed by the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum on July, 24, 2013.

In "A Strategic Concept for South Vietnam," first declassified in 2012, Roger Hilsman, then the head of the State Department's intelligence unit, emphasized that the struggle against Communism in Southeast Asia could not be won solely by military means.

An estimated 5,000 to 10,000 pages of files from Robert F. Kennedy's tenure as U.S. attorney general remain classified.

By the fall of 1962, President John F. Kennedy and his brother, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, had spent the better part of a year orchestrating a massive and multifaceted campaign aimed at toppling Cuban dictator Fidel Castro from power.

The initiative, code named "Operation Mongoose," drew on the brainpower and energies of the U.S. government's most senior officials and ranged from balloon drops of anti-Castro pamphlets and cartoons to covert sabotage of Cuban industry and infrastructure. In time, it would even include active plotting to assassinate the Cuban dictator, with the Central Intelligence Agency clandestinely enlisting the aid of the era's reigning Mafia chieftains.

Suddenly that autumn, however -- and only temporarily -- the Kennedy brothers were forced to back off.

The intervening event, newly declassified files show, was the Cuban Missile Crisis.

The new restraint was formalized at a tense gathering of the Special Group, an elite cadre of policymakers drawn from the ranks of the National Security Council, on October 26, 1962. It was the twelfth of the famous "thirteen days" that saw the world teetering on the edge of nuclear war, after the U.S., relying on state-of-the-art aerial reconnaissance photography, discovered that the Soviet Union had installed nuclear missiles on Cuban soil.

"It was agreed that all plans for dispatch [of saboteurs] should be suspended," declared a Top Secret memorandum of the session, adding that "instructions were issued during the course of the meeting designed to recall the three teams already on the way" to Cuba. "No major acts of sabotage should be undertaken at this time."

To drive home the point that Operation Mongoose needed to take a back seat to the more urgent task of defusing the superpower confrontation, Defense Secretary Robert McNamara chimed in, while Attorney General Kennedy, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and other Special Group members listened carefully. "Mr. McNamara," the memo recorded, "thought that MONGOOSE in the short-term should be considered in the context of (a) providing support for action designs to get rid of the missiles, and (B) support for a possible invasion."

* * *

These deliberations were among the revelations tucked away in some 7,500 pages of files amassed by the younger Kennedy and withheld from public view until now. The unsealing of RFK's confidential files on Wednesday, a half-century after the events they chronicled, drew a handful of researchers and historians to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston.

While an estimated 5,000 to 10,000 pages of RFK's files remain classified -- the documents released by the library were peppered with redactions and withdrawn items -- those that were unsealed provided fresh insight into the extraordinary influence that their owner wielded in the Kennedy White House. They make clear that as the president's brother and a ruthless practitioner of realpolitik in his own right, RFK exercised power second only to that of President Kennedy himself, and shaped policy on a broad range of issues -- from counterinsurgency measures in Vietnam, Latin America and Iran to the proliferation of what were known, even then, as "weapons of mass destruction" -- in a manner that far exceeded the typical purview of the attorney general.

A Top Secret memo distributed to the Special Group in May 1962, for example, appeared to show that Bobby Kennedy virtually predicted the missile crisis, seven months before aerial reconnaissance photographs first captured evidence of the Soviets' nuclear aggression.

"At the 22 March meeting," the memo stated, "Mr. Robert Kennedy asked the Special Group...what would be an appropriate course of action for the United Sates to take in the event that the Soviets establish a military base in Cuba."

A Pentagon official noted: "Since the Special Group...has assumed that overt U.S. military force will have to be used to end Communist control of Cuba, Mr. Kennedy's question is particularly pertinent."

* * *

Yellowing carbon sheets bearing the usual welter of classified markings -- as well as the rather unusual imprint of a red rubber stamp reading MONGOOSE -- show that RFK was also forced, early and often, to referee disputes among lower-level officials about how Operation Mongoose was to be prosecuted.

Brigadier General Edward Lansdale, a legendary master of the dark arts of psychological warfare and covert operations, frequently dashed off memos to RFK exhibiting frustration at the slow inter-agency pace of Mongoose.

On October 15, 1962 -- one day after the Kennedys learned of the Soviet missiles on Cuba -- Lansdale urged the attorney general to take a tougher line with the intelligence community. "When the President asks for something, he should get it," Lansdale wrote in a memo captioned "Sabotage Program, Mongoose." "He has asked for action [to overthrow Castro], yet CIA indicates it has these actions 'under study' or 'in preparation' despite the fact that it has claimed to be ready to go...I believe you will have to hit CIA per the head personally."

The next day, Lansdale sent RFK another Top Secret memo, hoping to prod him to stern action in a Mongoose meeting scheduled for 2:30 that afternoon. "You can strike a real blow for action by looking [senior CIA officials] Dick Helms and Ed Martin in the eye and telling them you are very dissatisfied with the initiative and the results in this project," the general wrote. "Lay it directly on them..."

But RFK had already received conflicting counsel from his own staff. Administrative aide James W. Symington, later a congressman, had written the attorney general earlier that year to caution him against accepting Lansdale's advice wholesale.

"Lansdale's emotional focus on Castro's overthrow has obscured his peripheral vision," Symington wrote Kennedy, in a memo declassified in 2002. "[The] State [Department] will not support any action which, if leaked, would point to a U.S. policy of overthrowing the Cuban regime."

Symington noted that CIA officials had found "little proof" that Castro was seeking to subvert other Latin American governments, and added:

"If the genesis of Mongoose was the President's desire to knock off Castro without counting the cost...then there is no need to 'justify' the operation in those terms."

* * *

Students of the Vietnam War will find of interest a February 1962 briefing paper that RFK received from Roger Hilsman, then the head of the State Department's intelligence unit. In "A Strategic Concept for South Vietnam," first declassified in 2012, Hilsman emphasized that the struggle against Communism in Southeast Asia could not be won solely by military means, and lamented that, where basic counterinsurgency doctrine was concerned, "there is as yet no real understanding of these concepts at the working level" of the U.S. government.

Ngo Dinh Diem, the corrupt South Vietnamese president whose regime the U.S. was backing, Hilsman described as "an old-fashioned Asian ruler" who harbored fears about his allies in Washington. "He is concerned," Hilsman wrote, "that the United States will someday decide to engineer a coup" against him. Diem was ultimately killed in a coup in Saigon in November 1963, a violent episode in which some historians have indeed suggested the Kennedy administration was complicit.

* * *

Within weeks of Diem's death, President Kennedy would be felled by a sniper's bullet in Dallas. On November 21, 1963 -- one day before the assassination of the president -- RFK was among a select group of senior U.S. officials to receive a memo from Deputy CIA Director Richard Helms, in which the latter, recounting a recent trip to Miami by JFK, stated: "Some were organizing hostile or rowdy shows of dissatisfaction to embarrass the President."

Perhaps the most personal of the documents released in this batch was a handwritten note that then-CIA Director John McCone sent to Bobby and Ethel Kennedy two months after the assassination of President Kennedy.

"Your thoughtfulness...touched me deeply," McCone wrote on December 23, 1963, "coming at a time when deep sadness so fills your own lives."

"I know how difficult this season is for both of you," he continued, "and I can say almost nothing to comfort you except to tell you that the heartbreak that you are experiencing is keenly felt and shared by your many friends and admirers."


Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/07/25/rfk-files-show-missile-crisis-disrupted-anti-castro-plots/?test=latestnews#ixzz2a4BpFeVP

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Sorry but this is the way the article came out when copied although in its print and online edition the type was large and easy to read.

However, in the article I posted above I included a link to the article both at the beginning and end. By clicking on either link, the original comes up and can be easily read.

Edited by Douglas Caddy
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What's new to me is that late in the crisis there are three separate teams on missions to Cuba from Florida that were to be recalled.

This has Lansdale calling for a hammer - and he is soon gone from the Cuban ops, and William Harvey is said to have dispatched teams into Cuba after the start of the crisis, which ticked off RFK, who had Harvey removed from the Cuban ops as well, though Harvey continued his association with Rosselli, one of the team coordinators.

On the 12th of 13 days, the Special Group decides not to engage in sabotage ops?

And they try to recall three teams that were sent on missions to Cuba and were "on their way."

The Special Group also approved a number of similar sabotage missions to Cuba in the the months leading up to the assassination of JFK.

I think one of these teams - recalled from Cuba, was then sent to Dallas.

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What's new to me is that late in the crisis there are three separate teams on missions to Cuba from Florida that were to be recalled.

This has Lansdale calling for a hammer - and he is soon gone from the Cuban ops, and William Harvey is said to have dispatched teams into Cuba after the start of the crisis, which ticked off RFK, who had Harvey removed from the Cuban ops as well, though Harvey continued his association with Rosselli, one of the team coordinators.

On the 12th of 13 days, the Special Group decides not to engage in sabotage ops?

And they try to recall three teams that were sent on missions to Cuba and were "on their way."

The Special Group also approved a number of similar sabotage missions to Cuba in the the months leading up to the assassination of JFK.

I think one of these teams - recalled from Cuba, was then sent to Dallas.

I think you are right, Bill, about Dallas with Frank Sturgis as a shooter and Howard Hunt as his spotter.

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Mr. Caddy,

For you to say that E. Howard Hunt was a watcher,(and Sturgis, as a shooter, for that matter). I am wondering if you might have gotten some insight on this during your tenure as Watergate attorney. It just seemed to jump out at me, that you are naming names like that. I have found in reading your posts, that you seem to pick your words carefully (to me, at least) and this struck me as a very bold statement on your part and I was hoping that you might elaborate on your thoughts.

Edited by Terry Adams
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Mr. Caddy,

For you to say that E. Howard Hunt was a watcher,(and Sturgis, as a shooter, for that matter). I am wondering if you might have gotten some insight on this during your tenure as Watergate attorney. It just seemed to jump out at me, that you are naming names like that. I have found in reading your posts, that you seem to pick your words carefully (to me, at least) and this struck me as a very bold statement on your part and I was hoping that you might elaborate on your thoughts.

No, I did not get this information in my capacity as an attorney in the Watergate case. I received it earlier this year from an extremely reliable source with whom I do not have a legal relationship. There is a chance that the information may be authenticated in an undisputable fashion in the near future.

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Mr. Caddy,

For you to say that E. Howard Hunt was a watcher,(and Sturgis, as a shooter, for that matter). I am wondering if you might have gotten some insight on this during your tenure as Watergate attorney. It just seemed to jump out at me, that you are naming names like that. I have found in reading your posts, that you seem to pick your words carefully (to me, at least) and this struck me as a very bold statement on your part and I was hoping that you might elaborate on your thoughts.

No, I did not get this information in my capacity as an attorney in the Watergate case. I received it earlier this year from an extremely reliable source with whom I do not have a legal relationship. There is a chance that the information may be authenticated in an undisputable fashion in the near future.

Now THAT would be a HIGHLY interesting development.

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The same crew of individuals was involved in both the Kennedy assassination and the Watergate break-in.

Many in the media as the Watergate scandal took on ominous tones wondered aloud and in print how the burglars could have been so reckless in their undertaking. “Reckless” was a word that was tossed about frequently at the time.

It is speculation on my part that those involved in the planning and execution of the Watergate break-in probably discussed what might happen if their undertaking were awry, as it ultimately did. They may have been lulled into a sense of false security by what took place in the wake of the Kennedy assassination when President Lyndon Johnson orchestrated a cover-up to make certain the truth would never emerge, thus insulating the same crew from being exposed and prosecuted. Hunt in his death bed confession placed LBJ at the top of the pyramid of assassins.

The crew members may have thought that if they escaped with the connivance of the highest higher-up in 1963, why wouldn’t they escape in 1972 with Nixon as president should things go awry? After all it was Nixon in 1960 with his plan to kill Castro that set in motion the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion in 1962 and culminated in the killing of JFK the next year, the latter’s death being a development Nixon never dreamed would be the result of his 1960 plan, whose intent was to kill Castro, certainly not the President of the U.S. There is also the lingering and unresolved question of whether Nixon ordered or had advance knowledge of the break-in.

From the time the Watergate case broke on June 17, 1972, Nixon must have lived with mind-numbing fear that Hunt would talk about 1963, which would lead back inevitably to 1960. This fear showed up in Nixon’s comments in the oval office tapes where he used the Bay of Pigs invasion as a code word for the Kennedy assassination. Hunt with his demands after Watergate broke had Nixon over a barrel, which both of them realized.

But 1972 turned out to be different from 1963 because there was no way that Nixon even as president could control the evolution of the criminal case and prevent the five burglars and Gordon Liddy and Howard Hunt from being prosecuted. His closest ally in a cover-up cause, who was also LBJ’s closest ally in the prior cover-up cause, would have been FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover who unfortunately for Nixon had died six weeks before the Watergate case broke. Had Hoover been alive when Watergate broke, he would have lived in fear also that it could lead back to 1963 when he wasted no time in pinpointing of Oswald as the lone trigger man.

Watergate was a form of karma or perhaps of what goes around comes around, albeit on a mindboggling scale.

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I watched CNN’S “Our Nixon” last night. It was a two-hour special that essentially was a long series of commercials with snippets about Nixon squeezed in-between. I have never seen so many commercials in a single television program.

It had been billed as comprising home movies made primarily by John Ehrlichman, H.R. Haldeman, and Dwight Chapin. There were indeed snippets from these home movies but old TV interviews of the key White House staffers were far more dominant in the show.

The only new insight came from an interview late in the program wherein Ehrlichman, years after Watergate, revealed that he come to the conclusion that he had not possessed a “full deck” in assessing Nixon’s real role in Watergate. From what he said I deduced that Nixon purposely kept from his closest aides throughout the Watergate scandal and thereafter information about his implementing a plan to kill Castro in 1960 that led to the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion in 1962 and culminated in JFK’s assassination in 1963.

Both Howard Hunt and Nixon were aware of his role and an aspect of it may have been a key purpose of the break-in of the Democratic National Committee in the Watergate complex. But Nixon kept this information from Erhlichman, Haldeman, Chapin, John Mitchell, John Dean and others, who paid the ultimate price of disgrace by imprisonment for their roles in the Watergate cover-up. These aides were kept in the dark about Nixon’s personal stake in the cover-up and were essentially used as pawns by him to mask his role in setting into motion in 1960 a plan that ultimately led to the death of President Kennedy, although of course the latter’s assassination was never Nixon’s intent.

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