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The "Whole Bay Of Pigs Thing"

Tim Carroll

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I appreciate the knowledge you all have to share on this site.  It is very encouraging for me to be involved with this group.

I, for one, give thanks to the cold warriors on both sides of the curtain that we made it past the 50's and 60's without a nuclear exchange.  Right or wrong they were at least successful in this field.

Jim Root

Dear Jim,

I think yours is a very salient and significant point. Not only did we make it past the cold war without a nuclear exchange, but ultimately communism fell. Our society certainly paid some high costs, and we certainly face other dangers now, but your point is excellent.

Thank God, we apparently no longer face the possibility of a nuclear exchange that could annihilate most of the world. On the other hand, the terrorists are far more likely to use a nuclear weapon on one city than the Soviets ever were to lauch a nuclear war.

Interesting that you said"give thanks" given that it is now Thanksgiving.

I also suggest that, regardless of who shot Kennedy, his death was most likely the result of Cold War politics, and not the meaningless act of a lone nut. That may add just a little comfort to the tragedy.

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Not only did we make it past the cold war without a nuclear exchange, but ultimately communism fell....  Thank God, we apparently no longer face the possibility of a nuclear exchange that could annihilate most of the world. 

To Tim Gratz:

In an earlier post you noted the following:

"In my opinion, Eisenhower was a great president. Had he remained in office, I don't think we would have ended up involved in the imbroglio over Cuba, or ensnared in Vietnam, for that matter."

What is your comparable analysis of the Eisenhower policies of Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) coupled with the choiceless Massive Retaliation, as opposed to JFK's shift to Gradual Escalation and Flexible Response in terms of the chances of nuclear holocaust?

I grant the argument that the shift to the Taylor strategy eventually led to Vietnam, but when compared to projecting the state of affairs when Kennedy took office, and his ongoing struggles with the Joint Chiefs to mollify the absolutism he'd inherited, I believe it is JFK that deserves the lionshare of the credit for avoidance of an all-out nuclear exchange. That he even had to make a secret conscession to the Soviets to accomplish his restraint of the nuclear momentum, a secret deal that would have constituted direct treason to the Pentagon, reveals the extent to which he was willing to go to avoid an uncontrollable nuclear exhange.

While leaving office, Eisenhower was recommending ground troops in Laos. MacArthur warned JFK that the wrong generals had been promoted during the Eisenhower administration in the 1950s, and that he should avoid placing land troops into Asia at all costs. Rather than following Ike's advice, JFK rather easily negotiated a ceasefire.

Aside from Eisenhower's one-dimensional policy of Massive Retaliation (a quick resort to nuclear warfare), his protestations during the Missile Crisis that we must invade immediately, reveal that his approach (unaware that 100,000 U.S. troops would have died in a tactical nuclear defense on Cuban soil initiated by Cubans, not Soviets, creating a strategic conundrum that had not been anticipated) would have led directly, according to McNamara, to a full nuclear exchange. The presence of the Luna tactical weapons under the control of Cubans, "unbeknowst to us at the time," led McNamara to state that, "A U.S. attack [ike's approach] would almost surely have led to a nuclear exchange with devastating consequences."


Robert Strange McNamara, In Retrospect, (New York: New York Times Books, 1995), pg. 97.

Edited by Tim Carroll
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Tim: What do you think about the death of Lisa Howard? Is it possible that she had evidence that there was a link between her negotiations and the death of Kennedy?

I think it could be significant that Howard emerged as an important player when she became the first journalist to secure an interview with Nikita Khrushchev. It is possible she was working as a KGB asset? She definitely is the sort of person the KGB would have liked to use. They knew that her film star looks would have caught the attention of JFK. This might also explain how she got the exclusive interview with Castro. Howard appears to have had left-wing views (see her article in the War and Peace Report).

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"What do you think about the death of Lisa Howard? Is it possible that she had evidence that there was a link between her negotiations and the death of Kennedy?

I think it could be significant that Howard emerged as an important player when she became the first journalist to secure an interview with Nikita Khrushchev. It is possible she was working as a KGB asset? She definitely is the sort of person the KGB would have liked to use. They knew that her film star looks would have caught the attention of JFK. This might also explain how she got the exclusive interview with Castro. Howard appears to have had left-wing views (see her article in the War and Peace Report)."


Is it pure speculation that you would insinuate Lisa Howard was a KGB asset? Howard was a pioneer in broadcast journalism. How many female reporters and news anchors were there in the early 60's? After JFK's death, her attempts at contact with the LBJ White House were turned aside. Her tenaciousness led to her dismissal from ABC, and, according to her husband, she fell into severe depression. Your comment about Howard's "film star looks" is well taken though. Carlos Leshuga indicated in an interview that he spent time talking with her at a dinner party because "she was a pretty lady", and he liked talking to pretty ladies. More than likely, the same applied to Castro. She flirted with him, was brash and forward, and got what she wanted. She was more than just a pretty face. Wasn't her interview with Khrushchev a spur of the moment, on the spot thing? There were no previous arrangements. I recall she ran up to him, microphone in hand, gave him a kiss on the cheek, then thrust the mic into the Premier's face. Khrushchev was so surprised, so taken by this spunky lady, he stood there with that famous grin on his face, and melted into a brief interview. Could you imagine today's young female reporters using their good looks and charm to wiggle their way into an interview? We'd be shocked, and they would be fired. Lisa Howard used all of her assets, and I don't think she was used by anyone. I believe she considered herself part of a historic effort to bring peace to between the US and Cuba. After JFK's death, Johnson tossed her aside, and she was devastated.


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Massive retaliation had its place in time. The First Straits of Taiwan Crisis is an excellent example of its use. China was bombarding Matsui and Quemoy (Please excuse any significant errors. I am traveling for the holidays and do not have my notes with me) two islands between mainland China and Taiwan. The US Government authorized the use of Nuclear Weapons to deal with the situation. The Soviet Union, China did not have "the bomb" at the time, was not willing to risk a nuclear exchange on its own territory by supporting China. Without Soviet support, China slowly backed down and withdrew from the island attacks.

The threat of nuclear war saved, perhaps, millions of deaths that a more humnanitarian conventional war would have led to. Eisenhowers strategy was successful.

By the way, the Armys Chief of Staff was Maxwell Taylor and the point man sent by the Army to handle this delicate situation was General Edwin Anderson Walker.

Jim Root

Edited by Jim Root
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Tim: What do you think about the death of Lisa Howard? Is it possible that she had evidence that there was a link between her negotiations and the death of Kennedy?...  She definitely is the sort of person the KGB would have liked to use. They knew that her film star looks would have caught the attention of JFK. This might also explain how she got the exclusive interview with Castro. Howard appears to have had left-wing views (see her article in the War and Peace Report).


I definitely believe that Lisa Howard may have had reason to consider a link between her negotiations and the death of Kennedy. In her New York society social role, she was very close to Clare Boothe Luce, who received the late night phone call informing her that the JFK assassination related to the anti-Castro operations she had funded. Lisa Howard was a looker, and this early in the morning before leaving for the big Thanksgiving dinner, I can't source where I read that JFK was screwing her, and that upon returning and reporting to Kennedy, JFK remarked that she seemed quite taken with Castro and then asked if she had screwed him. What I will cite is Beschloss' Crisis Years, p. 638, in which it is noted that it was at a cocktail party thrown by Lisa Howard that the Cuban Ambassador to the U.N., Carlos Lechuga, and American delegate William Attwood were first introduced. Just weeks before Kennedy's assassination, "Attwood told McGeorge Bundy that Castro's doctor and aide-de-camp, Major Rene Vallejo, had called Lisa Howard to say that Castro wanted an American official to fly from Key West to a 'secret airport' near Havana." [beschloss, p. 659.]


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Could you imagine today's young female reporters using their good looks and charm to wiggle their way into an interview? We'd be shocked, and they would be fired. RJS


You're kidding, right? The preponderance of beautiful women delivering the news is not because of any correlation between good looks and journalistic acumen.

Jane Pauley would exemplify a good-looking charmer. However, as an exception to the rule, CNN's Christiana Amanpour, combines looks, charm, and journalistic acumen. She could get anything she wanted out of me, yum!


Edited by Tim Carroll
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Massive retaliation had its place in time....  The threat of nuclear war saved, perhaps, millions of deaths that a more humnanitarian conventional war would have led to.  Eisenhowers strategy was successful.

Jim Root

Quemoy and Matsu is a good example of the deterrent benefit of MAD. But the strategy of nuclear deterrence could only work when the threat was credible, which it no longer was upon the advent of the Kennedy administration. Kennedy was very troubled by the notion that he would be forced to launch an all-out nuclear attack in the event the Chinese moved on these insignificant rocks in the Formosa Straits between Taiwan and the mainland. The deconstruction of obsolete policy is always a difficult and sometimes dangerous process, which is what I believe we're discussing here. The subject of the evolution of the Deterrence Doctrine is best left for another day. I will acknowledge that it worked during the Eisenhower years in defending Western Europe. But Berlin had eventually become the new Quemoy Matsu. Were we really prepared to go to global nuclear war to defend half a city? Khrushchev increasingly thought not, and convinced JFK of this at their Vienna Summit. Michael Mandelbaum wrote the following:

"The Cuban missile crisis clarified the workings of deterrence in the nuclear age. It began...with the failure of deterrence.... And the outcome of the crisis cannot properly be termed "deterrence,' either. It belongs to a different category of relations among states - "compellance."*

Deterrence worked for the years following WWII because we had a nuclear monopoly first, then a still overwhelming nuclear superiority. But as the world advanced toward parity and the communist world developed a credible nuclear capability of its own, deterrence became an albatross around JFK's neck, the acknowledgement of which was intolerable to the Pentagon. The generals were also not unaware of the trend toward parity and knew that if our superiority was to be used, it had to be sooner rather than later. There had been such thinking around since Hiroshima. It was JFK who finally put deterrence to rest as a determining and unquestioned policy, and he paid the ultimate price.


*Michael Mandelbaum, The Nuclear Question, (New York, 1979,) p 138.

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"You're kidding, right? The preponderance of beautiful women delivering the news is not because of any correlation between good looks and journalistic acumen.

Jane Pauley would exemplify a good-looking charmer. However, as an exception to the rule, CNN's Christiana Amanpour, combines looks, charm, and journalistic acumen. She could get anything she wanted out of me, yum! "


Not kidding, although it is quite obvious the news networks, cable and broadcast, use "lookers" to their advantage. Using charm and beauty is one thing, but if Jane Pauley was to run up to a world leader, kiss him on the cheek and give him a big hug, she'd be fired in a second.

I agree though, IMPLIED sex sells. I usually base my news watching on who's delivering it. Yes, pretty shallow of me. I watch Headline News weekend mornings just to watch Christie Paul, and even switch to Fox News to watch Juliet Huddy and Kieran Chetry. And I HATE Fox News. I watch CNN's American Morning weekdays because I've had a crush on Soledad O'Brien for years!! Remember when CNN hired Paula Zahn and actually used commercials saying they were the sexy news network?

I've seriously considered writing an article about the ladies of the news and submitting it to Maxim Magazine. And yes, to you ladies out there, while you may think we're a lot of pigs, tell me truthfully you don't watch Anderson Cooper or Bill Hemmer because you think they're cute!!

With tongue planted firmly in cheek,


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In the year following the Cuban Missile Crisis, President Kennedy took measures that led some to conclude that he had experienced an epiphany as a result of his joust at the abyss. A hot-line was installed between Washington and Moscow to provide for better communication in the event of some future crisis. The superpowers entered into a limited test ban treaty, ending their testing of nuclear weapons in the atmosphere, oceans, and space. During the last year of his presidency, Kennedy had also taken measures to shut down CIA-sponsored operations involving the exile community. This resulted in a schism between the FBI and the CIA, and generated new antipathy toward the Kennedy administration. The President's public assurance about what was "understood by the anti-Castro exiles" was more wish than fact.[1]

Following incidents in March of 1963 when powerboats manned by anti-Castro exiles roared into Cuban harbors shooting up two Soviet freighters, President Kennedy began to take official steps to terminate U.S. support for groups like Alpha 66 that had become out of control. When Bobby Kennedy wrote his brother a memo promoting new efforts to "cultivate" an "internal breakup in Cuba," the President uncharacteristically did not respond, at least in writing.


                               Robert and John Kennedy

Apparently the brothers held a private discussion which led to an immediate turn-around, reflected in a presentation to the National Security Council in which Bobby dutifully played his prescribed role of informing the President that "a decision had been made to formulate a plan to shut down the hit-and-run attacks from Florida locales." The following day, the President publicly declared that he would "take every step necessary" to terminate the exile raids against Cuba.

Shortly thereafter, mirroring the Kennedys' earlier turn against the Mafia, the Justice Department began prosecuting exile leaders for "violating U.S. neutrality laws."[2] At the same time, the CIA was ordered to cut off funding for the groups, leaving them to fend for themselves or draw on other sources. The President's public statement regarding the exiles' activities was unequivocal:

"There will not be, under any circumstances, an intervention in Cuba by the United States armed forces. The government will do everything it possibly can; I think it can meet its responsibilities, to make sure that there are no Americans involved in any actions inside Cuba.... The basic issue in Cuba is not one between the United States and Cuba. It is between the Cubans themselves. I intend to see that we adhere to that principle and as I understand it this administration's attitude is so understood by the anti-Castro exiles from Cuba in this country."[3]


                                    Fidel Castro

Bobby Kennedy held a meeting to formulate plans to implement the new policy. It included two FBI agents, "officials of the CIA, Immigration and Naturalization Service, Navy, Coast Guard, Customs Service, the Internal Security Division of the Justice Department, and the State Department." He explained that the President "wanted to put a halt to the exile raids" and that "sixteen of the officials present" were to leave immediately for Miami "to decide what measures could be taken." Among the steps later taken were:

"... serving restriction notices on certain exile leaders to prevent them from leaving the United States, refusing reentry to the United States to any exile who went beyond the 3-mile limit offshore, increased surveillance by the Coast Guard of the Florida coastline, and intensified FBI intelligence coverage of Cuban exile groups to ascertain and abort plans for future raids."[4]

Following the Miami conference, the combined forces of the federal government clamped down on the same anti-Castro groups and activities that had previously been given such encouragement and support. Numerous raids were conducted in which agents of the FBI closed down exile training camps, seizing large amounts of weapons, ammunition, and explosives. While it is clear that the President was serious about doing nothing to disturb the fragile peace following the Missile Crisis, and had great reason to fear provoking disclosure of his Secret Deal with Khrushchev, it is not so clear that his brother was going along fully. Having little choice but to support the President's policy publicly, there is ample evidence that in private he continued to support the proscribed activities.

The no-invasion pledge and withdrawal of support for exile activities ushered in a particularly bitter season of discontent within the anti-Castro Cuban community. A flyer dated April 18, 1963, and decorated with a profile of the Alamo, was distributed to Cubans in Miami's Little Havana. It stated: "Only through one development will you Cuban patriots ever live again in your homeland as freemen, responsible as must be the most capable for the guidance and welfare of the Cuban people." This blessing could only come to pass:

"If an inspired Act of God should place in the White House within weeks a Texan known to be a friend of all Latin Americans...though he must under present conditions bow to the Zionists who since 1905 came into control of the United States, and for whom Jack Kennedy and Nelson Rockefeller and other members of the Council of Foreign Relations and allied agencies are only stooges and pawns. Though Johnson must now bow to these crafty and cunning Communist-hatching Jews, yet, did an Act of God suddenly elevate him into the top position [he] would revert to what his beloved father and grandfather were, and to their values and principles and loyalties." Obviously encouraging support for the forcible removal of the President among the anti-Castro exiles, the broadside was signed, "A Texan who resents the Oriental influence that has come to control, to degrade, to pollute and enslave his own people."[5]

The least known of the measures taken by President Kennedy was a peace overture made toward Castro. To many, including top officials at the CIA and the State Department, the very idea of any sort of dialogue with Castro was heresy. Nevertheless, Kennedy authorized William Attwood, Special Adviser to the United States delegation at the United Nations, to begin informal talks with the Cuban Ambassador aimed at eventual normalization of relations between the U.S. and Cuba. He also set up a back channel communication with Castro through journalist Lisa Howard, who was flown to Cuba a number of times in 1963 using a covert operative pilot.  A message had been received through U.N. personnel that Castro was displeased about the degree to which Cuba was becoming tied to the Soviet Union and was seeking to redress the balance by finding an accommodation with the United States. There was evidence that a rift had developed between Castro and some of his Communist colleagues, including Che Guevara. The Cuban leader had given an interview in which he expressed satisfaction over Kennedy's crackdown on exile raiding parties.


                                   Che Guevara

It was at this same time that the CIA made its first contacts in nearly a year with Rolando Cubela, a high-ranking traitor in Castro's inner circle. Without the knowledge of the President or CIA Director John McCone, a small group of CIA officers, led by Desmond FitzGerald, an intimate associate of Bobby Kennedy's, prepared to use Cubela to assassinate Castro. Cubela requested a meeting with Bobby so that he could be sure that the scheme had the approval of the President. What he got was a meeting with FitzGerald, who claimed to be a U.S. Senator and Bobby Kennedy's personal representative. Government reports reveal that Cubela was in Paris being handed a poison pen and a gun at precisely the moment that President Kennedy was assassinated. In 1978, Arthur Schlesinger noted:

"The whole Cubela thing raises even deeper questions. The CIA was reviving the assassination plots at the very time President Kennedy was considering the possibility of normalization of relations with Cuba-an extraordinary action. If it was not total incompetence-which in the case of the CIA cannot be excluded-it was a studied attempt to subvert national policy."[6]

Although the President had specifically ordered that the U.N. discussions be kept secret, "it seems inconceivable that the CIA knew nothing about it. American intelligence had Cuban U.N. diplomats under incessant surveillance."[7] It tapped their phones, intercepted their mail, and followed their every movement. Schlesinger has noted that "if word leaked of President Kennedy's efforts, that might have been exactly the kind of thing to trigger some explosion of fanatical violence."[8] Ambassador Attwood, who subsequently realized that his telephone conversations and private meetings were insecure, agreed. He has said,

"If the CIA did find out what we were doing this would have trickled down to the lower echelon of activists, and Cuban exiles and the more gung-ho CIA people who had been involved since the Bay of Pigs. If word of a possible normalization of relations with Cuba leaked to these people, I can understand why they would have reacted violently. This was the end of their dreams of returning to Cuba, and they might have been impelled to take violent action. Such as assassinating the President."[9]

In an historical irony, one of the President's personal messengers, French journalist Jean Daniel, and Castro were together at the moment they learned of the President's assassination. This initiative was later described by the Cuban leader "as a gesture, as an indication of a desire to establish contact, to explore what our thinking was on all of this-and, furthermore, to establish a certain kind of communication." Castro continued,

"We needed a kind of bridge, some sort of communication. Since Kennedy had such great authority in his own country after the crisis, he could have done things that he had not done before. In my view, he had the courage to do them. You had to have courage to defy the state of opinion on all these questions."[10] 

Castro's view of Kennedy's performances, as well as the Cuban historical view as a whole, is very interesting given the realities of the Bay of Pigs, the Secret War, and the Cuban Missile Crisis. Listening to Castro's remarks at an oral history conference in Cuba, James Blight concluded: "Kennedy is by far the most respected-even loved-U.S. president since the triumph of the revolution in 1959." He recorded the statement of one Cuban official:

"You see, by not attacking Cuba in April 1961 and October 1962, we believe Kennedy's anti-Cuban machinery turned against him, like Frankenstein's monster. Those forces-the Mafia, the radical Cuban exiles, and the CIA-afterwards conspired successfully to assassinate him, because he prevented them from assassinating Fidel and destroying the Cuban Revolution. In a strange way, we believe, Kennedy had to die so that the Cuban Revolution could live."[11] 

Blight's impression is that when Castro discusses Khrushchev and Kennedy, "one senses that the respect is highly qualified with respect to his old friend Khrushchev, but uncomplicated and sincere regarding his old enemy, Kennedy." Castro feels that because of the "boost in the authority he got after the October crisis, when his leadership was consolidated in the United States," Kennedy was "one of the presidents-or perhaps the president best able-to rectify American policy toward Cuba"[12]


At the moment of his death President Kennedy was on his way to deliver a speech in which he would address the kinds of dangerously false constructions so popular at that time in Dallas, a city which had become the epicenter of right-wing jingoistic criticism. The speech presented an almost transcendental world view which is particularly relevant to the "What would Kennedy have done?" debate over Vietnam. While recognizing that dissent is inevitable, the speech was to go on to say:

"But today other voices are heard in the land-voices preaching doctrines wholly unrelated to reality...doctrines which apparently assume that words will suffice without weapons, that vituperation is as good as victory and that peace is a sign of weakness.... I realize that this Nation often tends to identify turning-points in world affairs with the major addresses which preceded them. But it was not the Monroe Doctrine that kept all Europe away from this hemisphere-it was the strength of the British fleet and the width of the Atlantic Ocean."[13]

Political constructions gain a life of their own, making it difficult to harness the released energies. Like the proverbial genie out of the bottle, these manufactured realities are resistant to subsequent containment. Constructions require a special kind of devotion and loyalty; it may be hazardous to one's health to try to change course. President Kennedy knew that by reversing himself on his support of efforts to eliminate Castro, by arousing and then easing tensions against the Soviet Union, and by accepting the assistance of organized crime figures and then allowing his brother, the Attorney General, to vigorously pursue and prosecute them, he was making himself vulnerable to serious physical danger by those most disposed to lash out violently upon feelings of hatred and betrayal.

During those same months of 1963 when the Cubela operation was implemented, a strange scenario was being acted out in the southwestern U.S. An ex-Marine who had previously posed as a defector to Russia was being constructed as a pro-Castro Communist. Records reveal that all of his associations were actually of the anti-Castro persuasion. He was intimately involved with the anti-Communist  "White Russian" community, shared an office with the coordinator of anti-Castro activities in New Orleans, and was known to have been present at one of the exile training camps that was closed down by the FBI that summer. His name was Lee Harvey Oswald.

The day after his brother's murder, Bobby Kennedy sought answers from Harry Ruiz-Williams, a CIA agent staying at a CIA-operated safe house used by Cuban exiles. Afterward, speaking with journalist Haynes Johnson, Bobby said that he "suspected CIA-backed anti-Castro forces of having been involved in his brother's death." He was later quoted as telling one of the investigators from his Senate committee days: "Those Cuban cunts are all working for the mob. They blame us for the Bay of Pigs, and they're trying to make this look like a Castro-Communist hit. I don't buy it. And I don't trust those guys at the CIA. They're worse than the Mafia."[14]

Of course, Bobby knew better than anyone what had transpired beneath the surface of the administration's use of the exiles. More personally, he knew the dark side of his own role in the unleashing of elements he now considered responsible for his brother's death. Many of those close to Bobby who saw in him a classic case of survivor's guilt were unaware that a much deeper level of responsibility may have informed his anguish.

Bobby had personally entertained Cuban exiles at his house, Hickory Hill, and kept in touch with them at their apartments at the Ebbitt Hotel in downtown Washington, where they were housed by the CIA.  Even Desmond FitzGerald, Bobby's replacement for Wild Bill Harvey, was concerned about the directness of Bobby's involvement with the Cuban exiles.  The Attorney General's freelancing with the the Cuban exile community was a formula for disaster.  Peter Collier and David Horowitz have written poignantly about Bobby's anguish over what may have been an unintended consequence of his own actions:

"It was Bobby who had led the administration into dangerous places, daring the gods of the underworld and seizing the fire that finally erupted into anti-Kennedy hatred. He had done it in the service of his brother's presidency, yet he had gone past duty or necessity, using his special status as the brother within to justify what had become at times an almost perverse exploration of self. While Jack was alive, everything was justified; now that he was dead, it was all called into question. Had his acts created an environment for assassination? Had his zeal helped create the concatenation of forces that wanted Jack dead?"[15]

Four years after the assassination of the President, the CIA Inspector General conducted an internal investigation which was forwarded to Lyndon Johnson, who told newsman Howard K. Smith: "I'll tell you something that will rock you; Kennedy was trying to get Castro, but Castro got to him first."[16] In March 1967, columnist Drew Pearson wrote, "President Johnson is sitting on a political H-bomb-an unconfirmed report that Senator Robert Kennedy (Dem. N.Y.) may have approved an assassination plot which then possibly backfired against his brother."

The source for the Pearson article was the original mafioso hired by the CIA to kill Castro, Johnny Roselli. The spin being placed on this new round of stories was, like the Oswald promotion, aimed at leading the public to believe that Castro was behind the conspiracy in Dallas. Roselli had revealed to Pearson, through his attorney, Edward Morgan, that "One of our assassination teams was captured and tortured until they told all they knew about our operation which they said was ordered by the White House." Roselli asserted that "the team was turned around, you know, brainwashed, and sent back into our country to kill Kennedy."


                                   Johnny Roselli

All good lies contain a good measure of truth, and such may be the case with Roselli's attempt at history-making. Although this colorful rendition is compelling, given the source, it should be recognized that contained in this version is the admission that it was an anti-Castro hit team that had killed Kennedy. But this secret "team" would hardly have required anything so exotic as brainwashing to retarget its skills against the President. By November of 1963, Kennedy was clearly a foe to the extreme anti-Castro elements; they believed he had cancelled the airstrikes and betrayed the Bay of Pigs operation, then compounded the betrayal by giving the no-invasion pledge, and finally sealed the antipathy by shutting down the exile camps and beginning negotiations directed toward the normalization of relations with Cuba.

When Roselli's well-connected lawyer asked him how he had contained such explosive information, Roselli noted that "all phases of this operation were approved by Allen Dulles and President Eisenhower." He questioned why neither Dulles, who was a member of the Warren Commission investigating the Kennedy assassination, nor Eisenhower, who had full knowledge of the plots, ever came forward. "So what was I supposed to think?" He inferred that the President "wanted to keep the lid on." Roselli speculated that perhaps Johnson "thought it'd be bad for the country to know about this operation-you know, the government of the United States involved with the so-called Mafia to kill the leader of a foreign country and then it boomerangs."[17]

A possibility that may never be resolved is Johnson's notion that some action taken by Bobby Kennedy "backfired against his brother." There is ample evidence of Bobby's continued encouragement of anti-Castro efforts during a period of time when his brother, the President of the United States, was pursuing a very contrary policy.


                      Bobby Kennedy with Cuban Exiles

Because of the closeness of the brothers it is generally assumed that Bobby was fulfilling one aspect of a multi-track approach on the part of the Administration. While it is understandable that some token support for the exiles might be considered prudent as a way of co-opting more radical elements, the extent to which one approach represented the direct undermining of the other presents a historical conundrum regarding the brothers' coordination of authority. The possibility must be considered that Bobby crossed the line of plausible deniability into a realm in which he was acting in his own highly unofficial capacity apart from any directed intention on the part of the President. Had he, like King Henry II's henchmen, acted on his own to eliminate his brother's Becket?

Consistent with Michael Beschloss' observation that "the most likely explanation for the cause of Kennedy's death lies in his policies,"[18] the convergence of CIA-Mafia-Cuban exile operations with the events surrounding the President's assassination provides strong circumstantial evidence of the motive and means for that crime. But there is more direct evidence. In a 1985 libel trial, E. Howard Hunt ("Eduardo") filed suit contesting an assertion in an article written by former CIA officer Victor Marchetti implicating him in the assassination, including an alleged 1966 memo initialed by CIA Director Richard Helms and Deputy Director for Counterintelligence James Angleton, which discussed Hunt's presence in Dallas and the possibility that "a cover story, giving Hunt an alibi for being elsewhere the day of the assassination, 'ought to be considered.'" Speculating on why such an extraordinary cover-up would be put in writing, a high level CIA source said, "The memo is very odd. It was almost as if Angleton was informing Helms, who had just become director, that there was a skeleton in the family closet that had to be taken care of and this was his response."[19]

Castro's former mistress-turned-CIA agent, Marita Lorenz, testified of her direct knowledge of Hunt's participation, as well as that of other anti-Castro Cubans, in the events in Dallas leading up to November 22, 1963. She claimed to have been in a two car caravan with Frank Sturgis, Orlando Bosch and others traveling from Miami carrying numerous weapons. Upon their arrival in Dallas they were met at their motel on November 21st by their old paymaster, "Eduardo." An hour after Hunt delivered the money and departed, another character out of history arrived: Jack Ruby.

In that trial, an amazing exchange took place after Hunt testified that, "like thousands of other Americans, millions," he, his wife and children had huddled together at home that fateful weekend, "and watched the burial services."[20] Yet, despite providing his own children as alibis, he had also asserted his legal damages to be the doubts in their minds about their own father's activities. The question was asked:

"Mr. Hunt, why did you have to convince your children that you were not in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963, if, in fact, as you say, a fourteen-year-old daughter, a thirteen-year-old daughter, and a ten-year-old son were with you in the Washington, D.C. area on November 22, 1963, and were with you at least for the next forty-eight hours, as you all stayed glued to the T.V. set?" After a long pause, Hunt lamely asserted that. "it was less a question of my convincing them that I was in Washington, D.C. with them-rather, reminding them that I was-than it was to assure them that none of the charges...had any substance to them at all." The magazine's attorney followed up with: "What I want to know is since they knew how outrageous the lies were, why did they have to be convinced by you that you weren't in Texas?" Hunt simply replied: "Reminded, reminded."[21]


                                  E. Howard Hunt

Hunt had failed to anticipate that the two elements of his story-that his children were with him the entire weekend and that his children were unsure of where he had been at the time-were mutually exclusive. Hunt lost his lawsuit. The jury did not even debate the malice issue because the truthfulness of the assertion had been sufficiently proven.

On the tenth anniversary of the invasion fiasco, April 17, 1971, E. Howard Hunt had traveled to the Bay of Pigs Monument in the Little Havana area of Miami to recruit exile veterans for a new operation. Resurrecting the dream of overthrowing Castro, Eduardo had assured them that "the whole thing is not over."[22]


               Monument to Bay of Pigs "Martyrs" in Little Havana

Subsequent events would expose a high level role played by these terrorists when a team of Bay of Pigs veterans was caught burglarizing the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C. Found among the burglars' effects was evidence that they were being coordinated by E. Howard Hunt, who had an office in the White House. In addition to political burglary, Hunt had been given the high-level assignment of manufacturing evidence of President Kennedy's complicity in the assassination of South Vietnam's leader in 1963, Ngo Dinh Diem.

President Nixon subsequently managed to remain in power for more than two years, withstanding remarkable disclosures, until the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that he had to turn over tape recordings of certain Oval Office conversations. Nixon was out of office within two weeks, primarily because of the disclosure of a taped discussion about Hunt that occurred a few days after the break-in. This tape recording has become known in history as the smoking gun conversation.

During that incredible exchange that would topple a presidency, Nixon ordered his Chief of Staff, H. R. Haldeman, to meet with Richard Helms, the Director of the CIA, and tell him to call off the FBI's investigation of the burglary for national security reasons. Nixon suggested that Hunt's involvement be used as a lever to make sure the CIA would cooperate. The transcripts of President Nixon's rantings about Hunt are perhaps the most factually revealing evidence of deep politics in history:

"Hunt...will uncover a lot of things. You open that scab there's a hell of a lot of things.... Tell them we just feel that it would be very detrimental to have this thing go any further. This involves these Cubans, Hunt, and a lot of hanky-panky that we have nothing to do with ourselves. When you get the CIA people in say, "Look, the problem is that this will open up the whole Bay of Pigs thing again." So they should call the FBI in and for the good of the country don't go any further into this case. Period. Just say (unintelligible) very bad to have this fellow Hunt, ah, he knows too damned much.... If it gets out that this is all involved, the Cuba thing would be a fiasco. It would make the CIA look bad, it's going to make Hunt look bad, and it's likely to blow the whole Bay of Pigs which we think would be very unfortunate-both for the CIA, and for the country, at this time, and for American foreign policy. Just tell him to lay off....[23]

Haldeman recorded Helms' dramatic reaction to the threat: "Turmoil in the room, Helms gripping the arms of his chair leaning forward and shouting, 'The Bay of Pigs had nothing to do with this'" Despite this, Helms acquiesced and Haldeman was able to report to the President that "his strategy had worked," that Helms would be "very happy to be helpful." But the remarks and Helms' behavior raised the question in Haldeman's mind: "What was such dynamite in the Bay of Pigs story?" The more innocuous explanation is that Nixon, as the chief White House official involved with the Eisenhower administration's Cuba invasion planning, knew of the government's use of Mafia assassination assets in the efforts against Castro. However, following years of study, analysis and reflection, along with his personal knowledge of the players involved, Haldeman asserted a more astonishing answer to that question: "It seems that in all of those Nixon references to the Bay of Pigs, he was actually referring to the Kennedy assassination." Given his reaction, it is apparent that Helms clearly understood Nixon's message.[24]


                                  Richard Nixon

Aside from such an interpretation of the dark secret to which Nixon was alluding, he and the CIA director had a more current mutuality of interests. Helms wanted to suppress the CIA-Hunt relationship because it violated the Agency's charter regarding domestic spying. Nixon wanted to suppress the White House-Hunt relationship because it would reveal precisely for whom the chief Watergate burglar was working. E. Howard Hunt clearly represented a problem for more than one major Washington power center. Nine months after the smoking gun conversation, when Hunt was about to be sentenced, Nixon was told that Hunt had issued a blackmail demand in lieu of revealing some of the "seamy things" he had done for the President. Nixon's response was unequivocal: "Well, for Christ's sakes...get it."[25]


1.   Michael R. Beschloss, The Crisis Years: Kennedy and Khrushchev, 1960-1963, (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1991), 687.

2.   William B. Breuer, Vendetta: Castro and the Kennedy Brothers, (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1997), 209.

3.   James Reston, "Top U.S. Advisers in Dispute on Aid to Castro's Foes," The New York Times, April 11, 1963.

4.   Breuer, 210-211.

5.   William Manchester, The Death Of A President, (New York: Harper & Row, 1967), 46.

6.   Anthony Summers, Conspiracy, (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Co., 1980), 426.

7.   Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., Robert Kennedy and His Times, (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1978), 557.

8.   Summers, 427.

9.   Ibid., 426.

10.  James G. Blight, Bruce J. Allyn and David A. Welch, Cuba On The Brink. (New York: Pantheon Books, 1993), 237.

11.  Ibid., 191.

12.  Ibid., 191-193.

13.  Gaddis Smith, Gaddis, The Last Years of the Monroe Doctrine. (New York: Hill and Wang, 1994), 111-112.

14.  David C. Heymann, RFK. New York: Penguin Putnam Inc., 1998), 10.

15.  Peter Collier and David Horowitz, The Kennedys, (New York: Summit Books, 1984), 317.

16.  New York Times, June 25, 1976.

17.  Ovid Demaris, The Last Mafioso. New York: Bantam Books, 1981), 235-241.

18.  Jefferson Morley, "November 22, 1963: Why We Need The Real History Of The Kennedy Assassination," Washington Post, (November 24, 1996).

19.  Joe Trento and Jacquie Powers, "Was Howard Hunt in Dallas The Day JFK Died?" Wilmington Sunday News Journal, (August 20, 1978).

20.  Mark Lane, Plausible Denial, (New York: Thunder's Mouth Press, 1991), 282.

21.  Ibid., 283-284.

22.  Carl Oglesby, The Yankee and Cowboy War. (Kansas City: Sheed Andrews and McMeel, Inc., 1976), 277.

23.  H. R. Haldeman, The Ends of Power, (New York: Times Books, 1978), 33.

24.  Ibid., 38-39.

25.  Theodore H. White, Breach of Faith, (New York: Reader's Digest Press,

       1975), 199-200.

*I am particularly indebted to Carl Oglesby, whose historical framework has guided me through decades of solitary analysis.

TIM: This is a fine piece of research. I have now read it a few times. There are a few areas I am not familiar with but over all I think it should be broaden and perhaps explained in more detail. A book, perhaps, should be done in this direction. I think the younger generation should be thankful for good researchers like your self... Fine job. Lets see more of the same from you. However, Remember the following story of mine:

"... I was working with a helicopter crew in the Rocky Mountains a few years ago. I was training a new field coordinator, a young kid about twenty. He was doing a fine job on the line and we were going to bump him up to "Senior Field Coordinator".

We were driving down an old mountain road when we came upon a nest of bald eagles. The mother eagle was pushing the young eagles out of the nest. They would flutter and flop and almost hit the ground. Then as if by some miracle they started to fly.

I turned to "Buck" "There is a lesson here", I said. "Look over there!" I pointed to another tree not far away. Two Hawks were sitting there. One of the hawks suddenly swooped down toward one of the baby eagles that was struggling and almost got him, but he missed. It was real aerial combat for awhile, but the little eagle got back to the nest safely.

"Buck" I asked. "Did you see the lesson in this?" "No.", he said. "Well my friend; as soon as you get your new wings be rest assured that another asshole with old wings in another tree will swoop down and try to take your new wings from you.". Its the same with this new job your going into. As soon as your on the line and struggling to do your job all the assholes hiding in the tress out there, are going to try to take you down:. Its nature.

Tim: there is a message here. Tosh

Edited by William Plumlee
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I want to be clear for the record of this seminar that I haven't said anything about the actual Bay of Pigs operation, or the planning thereof. As it relates to this seminar, "The Whole Bay of Pigs Thing" is a euphemism used by Nixon to refer to the assassination of President Kennedy. I recognize that the title of this seminar may have misled some students of history about this. But you don't even want to get me started about the actual Bay of Pigs history, except for the recognition of Wade "Carroll" Gray on the monument to the Bay of Pigs martyrs in Little Havana.

Tim Carroll

Edited by Tim Carroll
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I want to be clear for the record of this seminar that I haven't said anything about the actual Bay of Pigs operation, or the planning thereof.  I recognize that the title of this seminar may have misled some students of history about this.  But you don't even want to get me started about that, except for the recognition of Wade "Carroll" Gray on the monument to the Bay of Pigs martyrs.

Tim Carroll


John: You asked what we thought about the death of Lisa Howard. Her death, a supposed "suicide" on 7/4/65 sounds just like the "suicides" of Marilyn Monroe and Dorothy Kilgallen.


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'The bay of pigs thing' was indeed an important part of watergate. watergate showed us that something of this scale can be covered up. I believe Howard Hunt was more a man for himself than a servant of Nixon and was so willing to add to his downfall by the end of it. In Hunts book 'undercover' he tells how he lost respect for Nixon after he allowed others to go to jail, Hunt does not see his errors and the fact that what he did was illegal. He also talks openly about being a republican and his dislike for the democrats and his bitterness towards kennedy. I think it says a lot that he writes nothing about the period between the bay of pigs in 1961 until 1964, he plays his cards close to his chest and acts alone.

Great piece


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John G-

good points, I agree. If you google Howard Hunt you can read an interview where he is far from apologetic and the right wing editor obviously believes he is a great anti-communist warrior...shameless. Have you read Plausible Denial by Mark Lane? Marchetti and Mark Lane fought Hunt in Court, and won...a great story.

He had no alibi for 11/22/63 and he dragged his kids and co-workers into an ill conceived court case.

"Eduardo's" rounding up of the old Cuban secret operations team to do the Watergate job is one of the strangest events in American history...


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i have read plausible denial, i flew right through it when i was in the west of ireland and had nothing to do. great book and it just goes to show with regard to media coverage, they will cover posners latest book, a video game where you gruesomely kill jfk but they wont cover the story of how a cia man was implicated in the case,

that book really opened my eyes with regards to hunt, he is not as highly regarded in the cia as i once thought, everyone is expendible.


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