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Bay of Pigs: Michael Artime


John Simkin
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I am currently reading The Bay of Pigs by Haynes Johnson, Manuel Artime, Jose Perez San Roman, Errique Ruiz-Williams. I have found their interpretation of events very interesting:

Here is passage from the book that is worth looking at. It refers to a speech made by Frank Bender:

Then it was Frank's turn to speak. They were to hold the beach for seventy-two hours, he said. And what were they sup¬posed to do after that? "We will be there with you for the next step," Frank said. "But you will be so strong, you will be getting so many people to your side, that you won't want to wait for us. You will go straight ahead. You will put your hands out, turn left, and go straight into Havana."

Frank made a sweeping gesture with his arm that no man present that day will ever forget. There was a great shout from the Cubans. Some had tears in their eyes.

When it came to support, Frank was equally emphatic: there was no question they would have air superiority. Nothing was said about United States air support, or about jets. It was said that the enemy would not be able to get to the Brigade; that it would be destroyed from the air; that no trucks or troops would be able to get through the roads because all the roads would be bombed; that "every five minutes there will be a plane over all the major roads of Cuba." The Brigade cargo ships were loaded with thirty to forty thousand gallons of gasoline so its air force could begin immediate missions once the field at Giron was seized. The air missions were already planned for that moment: the operations order called for them to destroy the main rail¬road and highway bridges in "the zones of Havana, Matanzas, Jovellanos, Colon, Santa Clara and Cienfuegos in order to iso¬late said areas from enemy operations."

Operation Pluto also included plans for a diversionary landing in Oriente Province by a commando group of 168 men, led by Nino Diaz, and a simulated attack, or "feint," in the vicinity of Pinar del Rio. The "feint" would be accomplished with special sound equipment that would make it sound as if a great battle were being waged.

When Frank had finished, there was a brief moment of silence and then a stir as the Cubans realized it was over. The plan sounded so good, the Cubans were so confident, that no one asked any questions. As Pepe said, "We didn't want to ask these men we knew any embarrassing questions."

Frank had said earlier, in response to a question, that if anything went wrong the Cubans should communicate with the rear base and he would give them instructions. Nothing was said about an alternative plan and as this is written, only one of the four leading Cubans knows that such a plan existed; he learned of it two years after the invasion. Later, in a secret toplevel administration investigation that followed in the wake of the invasion, it was learned that the CIA decided, on its own, not to give the Brigade the alternative plan. The explanation was given that it might weaken the Brigade's resolve to keep fighting, that they might choose the alternative plan when the going became rough, even though the invasion still had a chance of success. The most charitable explanation that can be placed on this reckless action is that the CIA assumed such terrible responsibility with the best of intentions: it was convinced the Cubans would win and therefore in the classic sense the end would justify the means.

It was five o'clock in the afternoon on Friday, April 14 when the officers left the briefing area for the pier. At the last moment Frank took Pepe aside. He told him that if he were ordered to halt the invasion while the ships were at sea he would send Pepe a radio message saying: COME BACK, DON 'T GO AHEAD.

That meant the opposite: it was really clear; they were to go ahead.

"But if I send you a message in code that says the bird-the Guatemalan bird, the quetzal-'The quetzal is on the branches of the tree'-that means Fidel is waiting for you so you will have to come back."

One of Frank's assistants named Phillips handed Pepe a big briefcase, locked and without a key, and told him to sign a receipt for it. Inside, he said, was $35,000-$10,000 in American money and $25,000 in Cuban. It was for use as the need arose. Pepe rejoined his staff and they prepared to board the ships.

Was the Phillips the CIA's David Attlee Phillips? Does anyone know Frank Bender's real name.

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I am currently reading The Bay of Pigs by Haynes Johnson, Manuel Artime, Jose Perez San Roman, Errique Ruiz-Williams. I have found their interpretation of events very interesting:

Here are a couple of passages that are worth looking at. The first refers to a speech made by Frank Bender:

Then it was Frank's turn to speak. They were to hold the beach for seventy-two hours, he said. And what were they sup¬posed to do after that? "We will be there with you for the next step," Frank said. "But you will be so strong, you will be getting so many people to your side, that you won't want to wait for us. You will go straight ahead. You will put your hands out, turn left, and go straight into Havana."

Frank made a sweeping gesture with his arm that no man present that day will ever forget. There was a great shout from the Cubans. Some had tears in their eyes.

When it came to support, Frank was equally emphatic: there was no question they would have air superiority. Nothing was said about United States air support, or about jets. It was said that the enemy would not be able to get to the Brigade; that it would be destroyed from the air; that no trucks or troops would be able to get through the roads because all the roads would be bombed; that "every five minutes there will be a plane over all the major roads of Cuba." The Brigade cargo ships were loaded with thirty to forty thousand gallons of gasoline so its air force could begin immediate missions once the field at Giron was seized. The air missions were already planned for that moment: the operations order called for them to destroy the main rail¬road and highway bridges in "the zones of Havana, Matanzas, Jovellanos, Colon, Santa Clara and Cienfuegos in order to iso¬late said areas from enemy operations."

Operation Pluto also included plans for a diversionary landing in Oriente Province by a commando group of 168 men, led by Nino Diaz, and a simulated attack, or "feint," in the vicinity of Pinar del Rio. The "feint" would be accomplished with special sound equipment that would make it sound as if a great battle were being waged.

When Frank had finished, there was a brief moment of silence and then a stir as the Cubans realized it was over. The plan sounded so good, the Cubans were so confident, that no one asked any questions. As Pepe said, "We didn't want to ask these men we knew any embarrassing questions."

Frank had said earlier, in response to a question, that if anything went wrong the Cubans should communicate with the rear base and he would give them instructions. Nothing was said about an alternative plan and as this is written, only one of the four leading Cubans knows that such a plan existed; he learned of it two years after the invasion. Later, in a secret toplevel administration investigation that followed in the wake of the invasion, it was learned that the CIA decided, on its own, not to give the Brigade the alternative plan. The explanation was given that it might weaken the Brigade's resolve to keep fighting, that they might choose the alternative plan when the going became rough, even though the invasion still had a chance of success. The most charitable explanation that can be placed on this reckless action is that the CIA assumed such terrible responsibility with the best of intentions: it was convinced the Cubans would win and therefore in the classic sense the end would justify the means.

It was five o'clock in the afternoon on Friday, April 14 when the officers left the briefing area for the pier. At the last moment Frank took Pepe aside. He told him that if he were ordered to halt the invasion while the ships were at sea he would send Pepe a radio message saying: COME BACK, DON 'T GO AHEAD.

That meant the opposite: it was really clear; they were to go ahead.

"But if I send you a message in code that says the bird-the Guatemalan bird, the quetzal-'The quetzal is on the branches of the tree'-that means Fidel is waiting for you so you will have to come back."

One of Frank's assistants named Phillips handed Pepe a big briefcase, locked and without a key, and told him to sign a receipt for it. Inside, he said, was $35,000-$10,000 in American money and $25,000 in Cuban. It was for use as the need arose. Pepe rejoined his staff and they prepared to board the ships.

Was the Phillips the CIA's David Attlee Phillips? Does anyone know Frank Bender's real name.

Frank Bender worked with E. Howard Hunt in keeping track of the various anti-Castro exile groups in the United States, mostly working to ensure their support for the invasion of Cuba. Bender also approached anti-Castro leaders in the guise of a representative of a group of wealthy businessman and offered financial assistance for operations against Cuba and Castro. I believe his real name was Gerald Droller. I also believe he went by the name Felix Drecher.

Edited by Paul Kerrigan
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Bender also used the name Don Federico. I also believe William Morgan was one of Bender's guys.

This photo below shows Manuel Artime second from the right, Tony Varona far left, and Droller far right. He is in shadow but I have an uncropped version of this image somewhere that shows him clearly. I will try to dig it up.

The Artime/Varona relationship was a very interesting one.

James

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It is interesting that Artime and his colleagues do not feel hostile to JFK. In fact they are full of praise for him and RFK for all the work they did behind the scenes in getting the survivors of Brigade 2506 released from Cuba. Their main hostility is directed to those right-wing politicians who attempted to stop this deal. They are also very hostile to the CIA and the Chiefs of Staff for their role in these events.

I think it is clear that the idea that Anti-Castro Cubans killed JFK in revenge for the Bay of Pigs is absurd. If Anti-Castro Cubans were involved in the assassination, and I believe they were, they had other motives. They either did it for the money or they were promised some other form of reward, such as an invasion of Cuba and the overthrow of Castro. If that was the case, why did they not seek revenge when it became clear that they were not going to achieve their objectives. That they had been manipulated by figures in the CIA into taking part in the assassination. The only logical explanation is that they were already dead or they were too frightened to speak out. I think this helps to explain the deaths of Herminio Diaz Garcia and Eladio del Valle and the confession of Tony Cuesta.

Here is an interesting passage from The Bay of Pigs:

Sometimes a more sinister explanation for the failure is given: "someone" wanted the Cubans to fail and deliberately scuttled a good plan with a good chance of success. This assumption is equally spurious for, if anything, the Bay of Pigs was a classic tragedy of good intentions. No one wanted the invasion to fail -from the Eisenhower administration to the Kennedy administration, from the Cubans to the Americans who trained them and ardently believed in them. Yet fail it did. The fault was shared by all who had a hand in it.

In the assignment of responsibility for the failure the military, and specifically, the joint Chiefs of Staff carries a heavy burden. They selected the Bay of Pigs - Zapata Swamp area for the invasion, and they did so taking into account the alternative plan for guerilla action. If that area was unsuited to a guerilla operation, and it most certainly was - they must take the blame for the blunder. They blundered, too, in failing to recognize how devastating the T-33 jet trainers could be in battle when armed with rockets. The result of that failure led to the virtual destruction of the Brigade airforce and the loss of the supply ships. But in the larger sense the military bore less responsibility in the overall Bay of Pigs operation than the CIA. And, finally, the responsibility must rest with the CIA.

The CIA, by its nature, remains in the shadows: it lends itself to the role of the villain, however frayed the cloak and however bent the dagger. Even this is not a fair generalization: the CIA has brilliant, dedicated men and women who perform thankless and dangerous jobs throughout the world that help to safeguard the United States and the free world. It is a cliche of the agency that its successes never get reported and its U-2 flights and Bay of Pigs invasions become causes celebres. The CIA is necessary to the survival of the United States and it shall remain necessary for as long a time as can be anticipated. Acknowledging these as truths, however, does not make the CIA sacrosanct, nor does it relieve the agency of its responsibilities or hide the dangers that are inherent in such an organization.

The gathering of intelligence, with all that is implied in that general term, is the lifeblood of the agency. However, in the Cuban invasion the CIA went far beyond this function. The CIA's men in the field tended to take matters into their own hands, to cross over the line from intelligence to the formation of policy. They did this in Miami when they picked and groomed men and then dictated to the Frente. They acted for the United States - or implied that they did - when dealing with the Cubans and led them to believe much that was not true. Later there was no way for the Cubans to prove they had been promised anything. In American terminology, they were left holding the bag.

"You begin to understand what it is like when they run the show," a Cuban said. "They say, 'Meet me at the corner of Thirty-second and Flagler in a car.' They say, 'My name is Bill, my number is P1-6-9945. Call me.' When they want you, you come, you call. When you want them, they are gone; you never see them again. So what happens? Who has the responsibility? So someone says, `What are you doing here?' You say, 'Bill sent me: 'Bill. What Bill? What is his last name? Where does he live?' And you say, `Bill, P1-6-9945.' There is no Bill at that number. To hell with them, I say. That is no way to run anything."

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It is interesting that Artime and his colleagues do not feel hostile to JFK. In fact they are full of praise for him and RFK for all the work they did behind the scenes in getting the survivors of Brigade 2506 released from Cuba. Their main hostility is directed to those right-wing politicians who attempted to stop this deal. They are also very hostile to the CIA and the Chiefs of Staff for their role in these events.

I think it is clear that the idea that Anti-Castro Cubans killed JFK in revenge for the Bay of Pigs is absurd. If Anti-Castro Cubans were involved in the assassination, and I believe they were, they had other motives. They either did it for the money or they were promised some other form of reward, such as an invasion of Cuba and the overthrow of Castro. If that was the case, why did they not seek revenge when it became clear that they were not going to achieve their objectives. That they had been manipulated by figures in the CIA into taking part in the assassination. The only logical explanation is that they were already dead or they were too frightened to speak out. I think this helps to explain the deaths of Herminio Diaz Garcia and Eladio del Valle and the confession of Tony Cuesta. (John Simkin)

I think John brings up a very valid point regarding Artime and his immediate cronies. I also believe that there was no way the Cuban exiles as an organized group were responsible for JFK's murder. Diaz Garcia was a gun for hire who just happened to be an exile. Whether the Dallas participants were Cuban exile, Agency asset, covert operator, Mob associate, adventurer, or shooter extraordinaire, I don't believe they were operating that day with any personal political agenda.

Below is Pepe San Roman, JFK, Manuel Artime and Erneido Oliva.

James

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Does anyone know Frank Bender's real name.

I believe that both "Frank Bender" and "Gerry Droller" were aliases for Frank Eisenstall.

Tim

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