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Operation 40


John Simkin
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Hi, Tony...brings back memories of the late 1970s and our all night filming at my office. I often recall your French film crew responding to your every question "Piece of cake"!

Glad you have joined the forum. Perhaps you can clear up some questions members may have, given your extensive interviews with principals, and your excellent book.

Did you take part in the forthcoming Marilyn Monroe special now being promoted?

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Hi, Tony...brings back memories of the late 1970s and our all night filming at my office. I often recall your French film crew responding to your every question "Piece of cake"!

Glad you have joined the forum. Perhaps you can clear up some questions members may have, given your extensive interviews with principals, and your excellent book.

Did you take part in the forthcoming Marilyn Monroe special now being promoted?

Tony Summers is answering questions about his book here:

http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?showtopic=5756

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Operation 40: Part II

In January 1966, Desmond FitzGerald, who was now in control of Cuban operations, sent Ted Shackley to be chief of station in Laos. His orders was to create a secret army against the North Vietnamese. (1) As Richard Helms, the Director of the CIA, pointed out to Shackley, that while in Laos his primary concern was to help the United States win the war in Vietnam. (2)

Souvanna Phouma had become head of a coalition government in Laos in 1962. This included the appointment of the left-leaning Quinim Pholsema as Foreign Minister. Kennedy supported Phouma as it reflected his desire for all-party coalition governments in the underdeveloped world.

On 1st April, 1963, this policy suffered a tremendous blow when Quinim Pholsema, the left-wing Foreign Minister, was assassinated. As David Kaiser has pointed out: “In light of subsequent revelations about CIA assassination plots, this episode inevitably arouses some suspicion.” (3)

This assassination led to a break-up of the coalition government in Laos. The CIA now began funding General Vang Pao and Hmong tribesman in their war with the Pathet Lao. A CIA report explained why the Hmong were willing to fight the communists in Laos: “Primary it is economic and rests on their determination… to protect their homeland and their opium-rich poppy fields from outside incursions.” (4)

Vang Pao was in fact a major figure in the opium trade in Southeast Asia. In order to defeat communism in Laos, the CIA was willing to help Vang Pao distribute opium. As Alfred W. McCoy pointed out in The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade, the “CIA adopted a complicitous posture toward the traffic, allowing the Hmong commander, General Vang Pao, to use the CIA’s Air America to collect opium from his scattered highland villages.” (5)

A few months after becoming chief of station in Laos, Shackley appointed his old friend, Thomas G. Clines, as base chief in Long Tieng, in northern Laos. (6) David Morales was put in charge of Pakse, a black operations base focused on political paramilitary action within Laos. Pakse was used to launch military operations against the Ho Chi Minh Trial. (7) Other former members of Operation 40 who moved to Laos included Carl E. Jenkins, Rafael Quintero, Felix Rodriguez and Edwin Wilson. (8)

In 1967 Shackley and Clines helped Vang Pao to obtain financial backing to form his own airline company, Zieng Khouang Air Transport (ZKAT). This was a combined CIA and USAID (United States Agency for International Development) operation. Two C-47s were acquired from Air America and Continental Air Services. These aircraft were used by Vang Pao to transport opium and heroin between Long Tieng and Vientiane. (9)

According to a report published in 1988: “Vang Pao’s officers and agents of Shackley and Clines flew to scattered Hmong villages offering guns, rice and money in exchange for recruits.” (10) By 1968, Vang Pao’s Hmong army had grown to “40,000 soldiers, mostly local defence forces, but about 15,000 grouped in Special Guerrilla Units”. (11)

The growth in Vang Pao’s army helped him to dominate the trade in opium in Laos. Joel Bainerman claims that “Shackley, Clines and Richard Secord helped Pao control Laos’ opium trade by sabotaging competitors”. In 1968 “Shackley and Clines arranged a meeting in Saigon between Mafia chief Santo Trafficante, Jr., and Vang Pao to establish a heroin-smuggling operation from Southeast Asia to the United States.” (12)

Notes

1. Evan Thomas, The Very Best Men, 1995 (page 28)

2. Ted Shackley, Spymaster: My Life in the CIA, 2005 (page 103)

3. David Kaiser, American Tragedy: Kennedy, Johnson and the Origins of the Vietnam War, 2000 (page 198)

4. David Corn, Blond Ghost: Ted Shackley and the CIA Crusades, 1994 (page 129)

5. Alfred W. McCoy, The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade, 1991 (page 19)

6. Christopher Robbins, The Ravens: The Men Who Flew in America’s Secret War in Laos, 1987 (page 125)

7. David Corn, Blond Ghost: Ted Shackley and the CIA Crusades, 1994 (page 138)

8. Joel Bainerman, The Crimes of a President, 1992 (page 67)

9. Alfred W. McCoy, The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia, 1972 (page 278)

10. Edith Holleman and Andrew Love, Inside the Shadow Government, 1988 (page 13)

11. John Prados, Presidents’ Secret Wars, 1986 (page 282)

12. Joel Bainerman, The Crimes of a President, 1992 (page 68)

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Operation 40: Part 3

In his autobiography, Spymaster: My Life in the CIA, Ted Shackley defended his relationship with Vang Pao. Shackley claimed that he attempted to “coexist with him without being seared by his breath”. He admitted that some would argue: “Coexist with narcotics traffickers! Just as we always thought! He should have been wiping them out.” Shackley goes on to point out: “only rogue elephants charge at everything in their path, and the CIA was never such an animal…. The mission that had been handed me was to fight a war in northern Laos against the Pathet Lao and the NVA and to interdict, along the Laotian part of the Ho Chi Minh Trial, the flow of military manpower and material from North Vietnam to the battlefields of South Vietnam. My plate was full.” (36)

Shackley’s critics argued that he went much further than co-existing with the drug traffickers in Laos. According to Edith Holleman and Andrew Love: “In addition to his opium trafficking operation, Vang Pao carried out an assassination program, on information and belief under the auspices of Theodore Shackley and Thomas Clines. Partially funded by Vang Pao’s opium income, the program eliminated civilian functionaries and supporters of the Pathet Lao, as well as Vang Pao’s rival opium warlords.” Holleman and Love go onto argue that Shackley brought “Rafael ‘Chi Chi’ Quintero and Rafael Villaverde, along with Felix Rodriguez, to Laos, to train members of Vang Pao’s Hmong tribe to perform assassinations against Pathet Lao leaders and sympathizers.” (37)

Once again, members of Operation 40 were being funded from outside the CIA. Money was paid to eliminate people who posed a threat to their profits. David Morales and Carl Jenkins were also involved in this assassination program. Morales had told Ruben Carbajal that he had killed people in “Vietnam, in Venezuela, in Uruguay and other places”. (38) Jenkins was another member of what Gene Wheaton had called the CIA "off-the-reservation gang". (39) As Warren Hinckle and William Turner had pointed out in Deadly Secrets, members of Operation 40 were “assassins-for-hire”. In this case it was Vang Pao. Who else made use of this service? In 1968 two important political leaders were assassinated in the United States? Had they been victims of Operation 40?

In December, 1968, Shackley became Chief of Station in Vietnam and took over Phung Hoang (Operation Phoenix). In his autobiography, Shackley denied he was the “godfather of Phung Hoang”. In fact, Shackley claims he did not approve of this program that involved the killing of non-combatant Vietnamese civilians suspected of collaborating with the National Liberation Front. However, according to Shackley, the Director of the CIA, Richard Helms, insisted that “we are not free agents” and that the CIA rather than the United States Army had to run Operation Phoenix. (40) Other members of Operation 40 in Vietnam at this time included Thomas Clines, David Morales, Rip Robertson and Félix Rodríguez. Two other members of the “Secret Team” in Vietnam with Shackley were John Singlaub and Richard Secord.

Shackley claims that Phoenix was set up in November 1966. This was over two years before Shackley arrived in Vietnam. This is true. However, it was Shackley who turned it into an “assassination unit”. Tucker Gouglemann and William Buckley supervised the program. (41) Edith Holleman and Andrew Love claimed that it was Shackley and Clines who played the most important role in Operation Phoenix. The purposely targeted “South Vietnamese town mayors, clerks, teachers, business professionals and educated persons” who they considered were contributing to the “actual or potential civilian infrastructure of the NLF.” (42)

Fred Branfman quotes a U.S. State Department document in July, 1969, that: “The target for 1969 calls for the elimination of 1800 VCI per month.” K. Barton Osborn, a U.S. Phoenix agent, testified to Congress, that in a year and a half of active service, “I never knew an individual to be detained as a VC suspect who ever lived through the interrogation”. He added: “This was the mentality… It became a sterile depersonalized murder program.” He described of how he inserted a “six-inch dowel into the ear canal of one of my detainee’s ears and the tapping through the brain until he died.” (43)

The Saigon Ministry of Information admitted that 40,994 were murdered as part of Operation Phoenix. (44) William Colby disagrees, when he testified before Congress he claimed that Phoenix was only responsible for the death of 20,587 persons. (45) Although he admitted to some “illegal killings”, Colby rejected a suggestion by Senator J. William Fulbright that it was “a program for the assassination of civilian leaders”. (46) As Branfman has pointed out: “This number, proportionate to population, would total over a three-year period, were Phoenix in practice in the United States. (47)

Notes

36. Ted Shackley, Spymaster: My Life in the CIA, 2005 (pages 198-199)

37. Edith Holleman and Andrew Love, Inside the Shadow Government, 1988 (pages 14-15)

38. Gaeton Fonzi, The Last Investigation, 1993 (pages 380)

39. David Corn, Blond Ghost: Ted Shackley and the CIA Crusades, 1994 (page 383)

40. Ted Shackley, Spymaster: My Life in the CIA, 2005 (pages 233-234)

41. David Corn, Blond Ghost: Ted Shackley and the CIA Crusades, 1994 (page 194)

42. Edith Holleman and Andrew Love, Inside the Shadow Government, 1988 (page 13)

43. Fred Branfman, South Vietnam’s Police and Prison System, included in Uncloaking the CIA, edited by Howard Frazier, 1978 (page 113)

44. House Committee on Government Operations, 1971 (page 321)

45. Republic of Vietnam, Ministry of Information, Vietnam 1967-71: Towards Peace and Prosperity, 1971 (page 52)

44. House Committee on Government Operations, 1971 (page 183)

45. Alfred W. McCoy, A Question of Torture, 2006 (page 67)

46. Fred Branfman, South Vietnam’s Police and Prison System, 1978 (page 114)

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According to an account Marita Lorenz gave to Gaeton Fonzi: “A month or so prior to November 22nd, 1963, I joined Frank Fiorini (Frank Sturges), Ozzie (Lee Harvey Oswald), others, Cubans in our group and drove in two cars to the home of Orlando Bosch… This… “highly secret meeting” in Bosch’s home was to discuss certain streets in Dallas, Texas… There was talk of a “highly powerful rifle” and discussions of “feet,” “building,” “timings,” “contacts,” “silence,” etc.” Lorenz went on to claim that she drove to Dallas on the eve of the assassination with Frank Sturges, Orlando Bosch, Pedro Diaz Lanz and “two Cuban brothers whose names she does not know”. Fonzi argues that in this interview “Martia Lorenz had impressed me as a fairly credible witness”. (1)

Lorenz eventually took her story to Paul Meskil of the New York Daily News. On 3rd November, 1977, Meskil published an article that implicated Operation 40 in the assassination of John F. Kennedy:

Marita Lorenz told the New York Daily News that her companions on the car trip from Miami to Dallas were Oswald, CIA contact agent Frank Sturgis, Cuban exile leaders Orlando Bosch and Pedro Diaz Lanz, and two Cuban brothers whose names she did not know.

She said that they were members of Operation 40, a secret guerrilla group originally formed by the CIA in 1960 in preparation for the Bay of Pigs invasion...

Ms. Lorenz described Operation 40 as an "assassination squad" consisting of about 30 anti-Castro Cubans and their American advisors. She claimed the group conspired to kill Cuban Premier Fidel Castro and President Kennedy, whom it blamed for the Bay of Pigs fiasco...

She said Oswald... visited an Operation 40 training camp in the Florida Everglades. The next time she saw him, Ms. Lorenz said, was... in the Miami home of Orlando Bosch, who is now in a Venezuelan prison on murder charges in connection with the explosion and crash of a Cuban jetliner that killed 73 persons last year.

Ms. Lorenz claimed that this meeting was attended by Sturgis, Oswald, Bosch and Diaz Lanz, former Chief of the Cuban Air Force. She said the men spread Dallas street maps on a table and studied them...

She said they left for Dallas in two cars soon after the meeting. They took turns driving, she said, and the 1,300-mile trip took about two days. She added that they carried weapons - "rifles and scopes" - in the cars...

Sturgis reportedly recruited Ms. Lorenz for the CIA in 1959 while she was living with Castro in Havana. She later fled Cuba but returned on two secret missions. The first was to steal papers from Castro's suite in the Havana Hilton; the second mission was to kill him with a poison capsule, but it dissolved while concealed in ajar of cold cream.

Informed of her story, Sturgis told the News yesterday: "To the best of my knowledge, I never met Oswald."

Statements she made to The News and to a federal agent were reported to Robert Blakey, chief counsel of the Assassinations Committee. He has assigned one of his top investigators to interview her. (2)

Gaeton Fonzi argued that the reason Lorenz had gone to the newspapers was that she feared that G. Robert Blakey would not include her testimony in the House Select Committee on Assassinations report. As Fonzi points out: “Of course, what Blakey had decided, now the story had hit the papers, was that he had no choice but to put the Lorenz tale into the record”.

Lorenz claimed that as a result of this story appearing, Frank Sturges had taken out a contract on her. When Fonzi, Al Gonzales and Eddie Lopez, went to interview her again, she open the door holding a shotgun. “Oh, it’s you, I thought it was a Cuban Frank had sent to kill me.”

Fonzi reports that: “She (Lorenz) looked tired and drawn. She hadn’t slept, and her teenage daughters was out trying to buy a pistol to head off Sturgis before he arrived.” A few days later, Lorenz’s daughter was arrested with a .22 pistol. She said she was “waiting for Sturgis to show up”.

During the interview, with Fonzi, Gonzales and Lopez, Lorenz claimed that Gerry Patrick Hemming was also in the party that travelled to Dallas. Fonzi responded that this made sense as “Sturges and Hemming… had been co-founders of an anti-Castro group”. (3)

In August, 1978, Victor Marchetti published an article about the assassination of John F. Kennedy in the Liberty Lobby newspaper, Spotlight. In the article Marchetti argued that the House Special Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) had "unexpectedly received an internal CIA memorandum a few weeks ago that the agency just happened to stumble across in its old files. It was dated 1966 and said in essence: Some day we will have to explain Hunt's presence in Dallas on November 22, 1963 - the day President Kennedy was killed. Hunt is going to be hard put to explain this memo, and other things, before the TV cameras at the HSCA hearings." Marchetti's article also included a story that Marita Lorenz had provided information on this plot. (4)

The HSCA did not publish this CIA memo linking its agents to the assassination of Kennedy. Hunt now decided to take legal action against the Liberty Lobby and in December, 1981, he was awarded $650,000 in damages. Liberty Lobby appealed to the United States Court of Appeals. It was claimed that Hunt's attorney, Ellis Rubin, had offered a clearly erroneous instruction as to the law of defamation. The three-judge panel agreed and the case was retried. This time Mark Lane defended the Liberty Lobby against Hunt's action.

Mark Lane interviewed Marita Lorenz while preparing his case. Lorenz claimed that E. Howard Hunt had paid Frank Sturgis to transport weapons from Miami, Florida, to Dallas, Texas, in November, 1963. When cross-examined by Kevin Dunne during the trial, Lorenz admitted that Gerry Hemming, Guillermo and Ignacio Novo, also took part in the trip to Dallas. (5)

So it seems that E. Howard Hunt, Frank Sturgis, Gerry Hemming, Guillermo Novo and Orlando Bosch were all involved in transport weapons from Miami to Dallas. All these men were members of Operation 40.

As a result of obtaining of getting depositions from David Atlee Phillips, Richard Helms, G. Gordon Liddy, Stansfield Turner and Marita Lorenz, plus a skillful cross-examination by Lane of E. Howard Hunt, the jury decided in January, 1995, that Marchetti had not been guilty of libel when he suggested that John F. Kennedy had been assassinated by people working for the CIA.

Gaeton Fonzi eventually comes to the conclusion that Marita Lorenz was not telling the complete truth about the trip to Dallas. However, his analysis of this event is very interesting: “In retrospect, one result of this whole soap-opera scenario – the factor that still feeds my suspicion of collusion – was a successful diversion, from the Schweiker probe through to the House Assassinations Committee, of our limited investigation resources. And, in the process, it injected a dose of slapstick that would impair any future attempt to conduct a serious investigation into the possible involvement of E. Howard Hunt and Frank Sturgis in the Kennedy assassination.” (6)

Notes

1. Gaeton Fonzi, The Last Investigation, 1993 (pages 83-100)

2. Paul Meskil, New York Daily News (3rd November, 1977)

3. Gaeton Fonzi, The Last Investigation, 1993 (pages 101-107)

4. Victor Marchetti, Spotlight (14th August, 1978)

5. Mark Lane, Plausible Denial, 1991 (pages 289-310)

6. Gaeton Fonzi, The Last Investigation, 1993 (page 107)

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According to Edith Holleman and Andrew Love: “In addition to his opium trafficking operation, Vang Pao carried out an assassination program, on information and belief under the auspices of Theodore Shackley and Thomas Clines. Partially funded by Vang Pao’s opium income, the program eliminated civilian functionaries and supporters of the Pathet Lao, as well as Vang Pao’s rival opium warlords.” Holleman and Love go onto argue that Shackley brought “Rafael ‘Chi Chi’ Quintero and Rafael Villaverde, along with Felix Rodriguez, to Laos, to train members of Vang Pao’s Hmong tribe to perform assassinations against Pathet Lao leaders and sympathizers.” (1)

This group of assassins were not only at work in Laos. In 1967 David Morales recruited Félix Rodríguez to train and head a team that would attempt to catch Che Guevara in Bolivia. Guevara was attempting to persuade the tin-miners living in poverty to join his revolutionary army. When Guevara was captured, it was Rodriguez who interrogated him before he ordered his execution. (2)

(1) Edith Holleman and Andrew Love, Inside the Shadow Government, 1988 (pages 14-15)

(2) Felix I. Rodriguez and John Weisman, Shadow Warrior: The CIA Hero of a Hundred Unknown Battles, 1989 (pages 9-10)

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I am looking for information on Donald P. Gregg. He is on the lecture circuit and in his biography he admits that he joined the CIA in 1951. However, he does not say where he served until after the assassination: Burma (1964-1966), Japan (1966-1969), Vietnam (1970-1972), Korea (1973-1975).

According to Gregg, he first met Bush when he was director of the CIA. Gregg became Bush’s national security advisor in 1982. What Gregg does not say is that he was implicated in the Iran-Contra scandal.

During the Iran-Contra hearings, Gregg admitted that he had been Felix Rodriguez’s case officer in Vietnam (part of Operation Phoenix). However, in “George Bush: The Unauthorized Biography”, Webster Griffin Tarpley and Anton Chaitkin claim that Gregg recruited both Felix Rodriguez and Posada Carilles in 1963. The authors point out that this is missing from Rodriguez’s autobiography, Shadow Warrior: “Rodriguez neglects to explain that agent Posada Carilles was originally recruited and trained by the same CIA murder operation, JM/WAVE in Miami, as was Rodriguez himself”. (page 404)

Tarpley and Chaitkin do not give a reference for this information. However, later in the book, the authors show how Bush rewarded those who took part in the cover-up of his involvement in the Iran-Contra affair with posts in his administration: John Tower (Secretary of Defence), Brent Scowcroft (Chief National Security Adviser) and Dick Cheney (Secretary of Defence after the Senate refused to confirm John Tower). This is itself interesting as a bitter Tower was killed in a plane crash on 5th April, 1991 and Cheney went on to become the power behind the throne in Bush junior’s administration.

Gregg was appointed Ambassador to Korea. This was challenged by the Senate as Gregg had covered up for Bush during the Iran-Contra hearings. Tarpley and Chaitkin publish an extract from Gregg’s testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. This testimony has never been published before. In the extract it is clear that the committee had been asking about Gregg’s early career in the CIA, especially his relationship with Rodriguez and Posada.

Alan Cranston and John Kerry appear to be the two most hostile questioners. At one stage Cranston refers to the relationship between Gregg and Rodriguez existing “for more than three decades”. It therefore seems possible that Gregg had earlier admitted that he recruited Rodriguez and Posada for Operation 40 in 1963. We know this is what Gene Wheaton claimed in his deposition made on (1-3, 7-8 March, 1988).

According to Fabian Escalante, a senior officer of the Cuban Department of State Security (G-2), in 1960 Richard Nixon recruited an "important group of businessmen headed by George Bush (Snr.) and Jack Crichton, both Texas oilmen, to gather the necessary funds for the operation". This suggests that Operation 40 agents were involved in freelance work.

Did Bush meet Gregg during this period? If so, was Bush introduced to Rodriguez and Posada in 1963 when they became part of Operation 40. Was Bush involved in giving Rodriguez and Posada freelance work in 1963? Was this the first of many assignments?

The assassination of Che Guevara in October, 1967.

The assassination of Orlando Letelier, the former Chilean Foreign Minister, on 21st September, 1976.

The bombing of the Cubana Aircraft in October, 1976 that killed all 73 people aboard.

Iran-Contra

Attempted assassination of Fidel Castro in November, 2000.

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Namebase entry for Operation 40:

http://www.namebase.org/main3/Operation-40.html

Bainerman,J. The Crimes of a President. 1992 (67)

Christic Institute. Sheehan Affidavit. 1987-01-31 (32-4, 40)

Christic Institute. Sheehan Affidavit. 1988-03-25 (9-14)

Duffy,J. Ricci,V. The Assassination of John F. Kennedy. 1992 (346)

Escalante,F. The Secret War. 1995 (41, 45)

Furiati,C. ZR Rifle. 1994 (12-4, 16-7, 136-7)

Groden,R. Livingstone,H. High Treason. 1990 (347-8)

Hinckle,W. Turner,W. The Fish is Red. 1981 (52-3, 78, 201, 307-15)

Inquiry Magazine 1979-03-05 (18-9)

Lane,M. Plausible Denial. 1991 (3, 300-1)

Lobster Magazine (Britain) 1986-#12 (4-5)

Marshall,J... The Iran-Contra Connection. 1987 (37-8, 45, 135)

Morrow,R. First Hand Knowledge. 1992 (26-7)

New York Magazine 1976-08-16 (31)

Operation Zapata: Bay of Pigs Testimony. 1984 (340)

Russell,D. The Man Who Knew Too Much. 1992 (190-1, 508-9)

Scott,P.D. Marshall,J. Cocaine Politics. 1991 (27)

Scott,P.D... The Assassinations: Dallas and Beyond. 1976 (374)

Thomas,K. Popular Alienation: A Steamshovel Press Reader. 1995 (21)

Turner,W. Rearview Mirror. 2001 (207, 219-20)

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The Schlesinger memo is very, very interesting and becomes still another important link in the overall Cuban and CIA operations during that critical period. I cannot add any more to the subject but find such insights very important. The only way to know and understand is to have such deep insider information.

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  • 2 months later...
On page 19 of "The Kennedys: The Conspiracy to Destroy a Dynasty" you point out that Richard Nixon was Action Officer of the 5412 Committee. Do you know if there are any links with this committee and Operation 40?

I cannot tell you, but I doubt this will be difficult to find out.

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  • 1 year later...

Given some of the recent questions raised about Op 40, I was wondering if any author or researcher has ever connected the Operation 40 program with the Naval Commission of the Cuban Revolutionary Council and in particular the Naval Intelligence Office commanded at the time by Andres Triay?

Ronato Diaz is another interesting character in the complicated mix of Agency policy and anti-Castro politics. Given his command and association with the Council, would have been close to the goings on within the ranks of Operation 40.

James

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Given some of the recent questions raised about Op 40, I was wondering if any author or researcher has ever connected the Operation 40 program with the Naval Commission of the Cuban Revolutionary Council and in particular the Naval Intelligence Office commanded at the time by Andres Triay?

Ronato Diaz is another interesting character in the complicated mix of Agency policy and anti-Castro politics. Given his command and association with the Council, would have been close to the goings on within the ranks of Operation 40.

James

I will check this out with Malcolm Blunt (probably the leading expert on Operation 40.

I have now updated my account of Operation 40 and includes references to Bohning's work and that of Jeff Morley, Larry Hancock, Jean-Guy Allard, Malcolm Blunt, Reinaldo Taladrid and Lazaro Baredo. Going by his replies on the Blog it would seem that Bohning is working on behalf of Carl Elmer Jenkins. This does not surprise me as Bohning was working as Jenkins and Quintero's go-between when I was investigating the Gene Wheaton confession.

Operation 40

On 11th December, 1959, Colonel J. C. King, chief of CIA's Western Hemisphere Division, sent a confidential memorandum to Allen W. Dulles, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency. King argued that in Cuba there existed a "far-left dictatorship, which if allowed to remain will encourage similar actions against U.S. holdings in other Latin American countries." (1)

As a result of this memorandum Dulles established Operation 40. It obtained this name because originally there were 40 agents involved in the operation. Later this was expanded to 70 agents. The group was presided over by Richard Nixon. Tracy Barnes became operating officer of what was also called the Cuban Task Force. The first meeting chaired by Barnes took place in his office on 18th January, 1960, and was attended by David Atlee Phillips, E. Howard Hunt, Jack Esterline, and Frank Bender.

According to Fabian Escalante, a senior officer of the Cuban Department of State Security (G-2), in 1960 Richard Nixon recruited an "important group of businessmen headed by George Bush (Snr.) and Jack Crichton, both Texas oilmen, to gather the necessary funds for the operation". (2) This suggests that Operation 40 agents were involved in freelance work.

It is known that at this time that George Bush and Jack Crichton were involved in covert right-wing activities. In 1990 The Common Cause magazine argued that: "The CIA put millionaire and agent George Bush in charge of recruiting exiled Cubans for the CIA’s invading army; Bush was working with another Texan oil magnate, Jack Crichton, who helped him in terms of the invasion." (3) This story was linked to the release of "a memorandum in that context addressed to FBI chief J. Edward Hoover and signed November 1963, which reads: Mr. George Bush of the CIA" (4)

Reinaldo Taladrid and Lazaro Baredo claim that in 1959 George Bush was asked “to cooperate in funding the nascent anti-Castro groups that the CIA decided to create”. The man “assigned to him for his new mission” was Féliz Rodríguez. (5)

Daniel Hopsicker also takes the view that Operation 40 involved private funding. In the book, Barry and the Boys: The CIA, the Mob and America’s Secret History, he claims that Richard Nixon had established Operation 40 as a result of pressure from American corporations which had suffered at the hands of Fidel Castro. (6)

Webster Griffin Tarpley and Anton Chaitkin have argued that George Bush was very close to members of Operation 40 in the early 1960s. In September, 1963, Bush launched his Senate campaign. At that time, right-wing Republicans were calling on John F. Kennedy to take a more aggressive approach towards Castro. For example, in one speech Barry Goldwater said: “I advocate the recognition of a Cuban government in exile and would encourage this government every way to reclaim its country. This means financial and military assistance.” Bush took a more extreme position than Goldwater and called for a “new government-in-exile invasion of Cuba”. As Tarpley and Chaitkin point out, beneficiaries of this policy would have been “Theodore Shackley, who was by now the station chief of CIA Miami Station, Felix Rodriguez, Chi Chi Quintero, and the rest of the boys” from Operation 40. (7)

Paul Kangas is another investigator who has claimed that George Bush was involved with members of Operation 40. In an article published in The Realist in 1990, Kangas claims: "Among other members of the CIA recruited by George Bush for (the attacks on Cuba) were Frank Sturgis, Howard Hunt, Bernard Baker and Rafael Quintero.” In an article published in Granma in January, 2006, the journalists Reinaldo Taladrid and Lazaro Baredo argued that “Another of Bush’s recruits for the Bay of Pigs invasion, Rafael Quintero, who was also part of this underworld of organizations and conspiracies against Cuba, stated: If I was to tell what I know about Dallas and the Bay of Pigs, it would be the greatest scandal that has ever rocked the nation." (8)

Fabian Escalante names William Pawley as being one of those who was lobbying for the CIA to assassinate Fidel Castro. (9) Escalante points out that Pawley had played a similar role in the CIA overthrow of Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán in Guatemala. Interestingly, the CIA assembled virtually the same team that was involved in the removal of Arbenz: Tracey Barnes, Richard Bissell, David Morales, David Atlee Phillips, E. Howard Hunt, Rip Robertson and Henry Hecksher. Added to this list was several agents who had been involved in undercover operations in Germany: Ted Shackley, Tom Clines and William Harvey.

According to Daniel Hopsicker, the following were also involved in Operation 40: Edwin Wilson, Barry Seal, William Seymour, Frank Sturgis and Gerry Hemming. (10) It has also been pointed out that Operation 40 was not only involved in trying to overthrow Fidel Castro. Sturgis has claimed: "this assassination group (Operation 40) would upon orders, naturally, assassinate either members of the military or the political parties of the foreign country that you were going to infiltrate, and if necessary some of your own members who were suspected of being foreign agents."

Virtually every one of the field agents of Operation 40 were Cubans. This included Antonio Veciana, Luis Posada, Orlando Bosch, Rafael Quintero, Roland Masferrer, Eladio del Valle, Guillermo Novo, Rafael Villaverde, Virgilio Gonzalez, Carlos Bringuier, Eugenio Martinez, Antonio Cuesta, Hermino Diaz Garcia, Barry Seal, Felix Rodriguez, Ricardo Morales Navarrete, Juan Manuel Salvat, Isidro Borjas, Virgilio Paz, Jose Dionisio Suarez, Felipe Rivero, Gaspar Jimenez Escobedo, Nazario Sargent, Pedro Luis Diaz Lanz, Jose Basulto, and Paulino Sierra. (11)

CIA asset, Don Bohning (AMCARBON-3) argues in his book, The Castro Obsession (2005), that Operation 40 was not actually established until March 1961. Bohning quotes one of his sources as saying that the group's initial objective was to take over the administration of "the towns and cities liberated by the invasion force, roundup government officials and sympathizers and secure the files of the government's different intelligence services" after the Bay of Pigs operation. (12)

However, Larry Hancock in his book, Someone Would Have Talked (2006) provides evidence that Operation 40 did not come to an end after the failed Bay of Pigs operation. Hancock reveals that Jose Sanjenis Perdomo was closely involved with David Morales in 1962 and 1963. He points out that "new documents provided by researcher Malcolm Blunt confirms that Sanjenis, the individual in charge of Operation 40, was actually the number one exile in the AMOT organization trained and prepared by David Morales." (13)

Most of these characters had been associated with the far-right in Cuban politics. Rumours soon became circulating that it was not only Fidel Castro that was being targeted. On 9th June, 1961, Arthur Schlesinger sent a memo to Richard Goodwin: “Sam Halper, who has been the Times correspondent in Havana and more recently in Miami, came to see me last week. He has excellent contracts among the Cuban exiles. One of Miro's comments this morning reminded me that I have been meaning to pass on the following story as told me by Halper. Halper says that CIA set up something called Operation 40 under the direction of a man named (as he recalled) Captain Luis Sanjenis, who was also chief of intelligence. (Could this be the man to whom Miro referred this morning?) It was called Operation 40 because originally only 40 men were involved: later the group was enlarged to 70. The ostensible purpose of Operation 40 was to administer liberated territories in Cuba. But the CIA agent in charge, a man known as Felix, trained the members of the group in methods of third degree interrogation, torture and general terrorism. The liberal Cuban exiles believe that the real purpose of Operation 40 was to "kill Communists" and, after eliminating hard-core Fidelistas, to go on to eliminate first the followers of Ray, then the followers of Varona and finally to set up a right wing dictatorship, presumably under Artime.” (14)

In an interview he gave to Jean-Guy Allard in May, 2005, Fabian Escalante pointed out: “Who in 1963 had the resources to assassinate Kennedy? Who had the means and who had the motives to kill the U.S. president? CIA agents from Operation 40 who were rabidly anti-Kennedy. And among them were Orlando Bosch, Luis Posada Carriles, Antonio Veciana and Felix Rodriguez Mendigutia." (15)

This is not the first time that Escalante has pointed the finger at members of Operation 40. In December, 1995, Wayne Smith, chief of the Centre for International Policy in Washington, arranged a meeting on the assassination of John F. Kennedy, in Nassau, Bahamas. Others in attendance were Gaeton Fonzi, Dick Russell, Noel Twyman, Anthony Summers, Peter Dale Scott, Jeremy Gunn, John Judge, Andy Kolis, Peter Kornbluh, Mary & Ray LaFontaine, Jim Lesar, John Newman, Alan Rogers, Russ Swickard, Ed Sherry, and Gordon Winslow. During a session on 7th December, Escalante claimed that during captivity, Tony Cuesta, confessed that he had been involved in the assassination of Kennedy. He also named Eladio del Valle, Roland Masferrer and Hermino Diaz Garcia as being involved in this operation. All four men were members of Operation 40. (16)

It has been argued that people like Fabian Escalante, Jean-Guy Allard, Reinaldo Taladrid and Lazaro Baredo are under the control of the Cuban government. It is definitely true that much of this information has originally been published in Granma, the newspaper of the Cuban Communist Party. However, is other evidence to substantiate this theory.

Shortly before his death in 1975 John Martino confessed to a Miami Newsday reporter, John Cummings, that he had been guilty of spreading false stories implicating Lee Harvey Oswald in the assassination of John F. Kennedy. He claimed that two of the gunmen were Cuban exiles. It is believed the two men were Hermino Diaz Garcia and Virgilio Gonzalez. Cummings added: "He told me he'd been part of the assassination of Kennedy. He wasn't in Dallas pulling a trigger, but he was involved. He implied that his role was delivering money, facilitating things.... He asked me not to write it while he was alive." (17)

Fred Claasen also told the House Select Committee on Assassinations what he knew about his business partner’s involvement in the case. He claimed John Martino told him: “The anti-Castro people put Oswald together. Oswald didn’t know who he was working for – he was just ignorant of who was really putting him together. Oswald was to meet his contact at the Texas Theatre. They were to meet Oswald in the theatre, and get him out of the country, then eliminate him. Oswald made a mistake… There was no way we could get to him. They had Ruby kill him.” (18)

Florence Martino at first refused to corroborate the story. However, in 1994 she told Anthony Summers that her husband said to her on the morning of 22nd November, 1963: "Flo, they're going to kill him (Kennedy). They're going to kill him when he gets to Texas." (19)

Hermino Diaz Garcia and Virgilio Gonzalez were both members of Operation 40. So also was Rip Robertson who according to Summers “was a familiar face at his (John Martino) home. Summers also points out that Martino was close to William Pawley and both took part in the “Bayo-Pawley Affair”. (20) This anti-Castro mission, also known as Operation Tilt, also involved other members of Operation 40, including Virgilio Gonzalez and Eugenio Martinez.

There is another key CIA figure in Operation 40 who has made a confession concerning the assassination of John F. Kennedy. David Morales was head of operations at JM/WAVE, the CIA Miami station, at the time of the assassination. Gaeton Fonzi carried out a full investigation of Morales while working for the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA). Unfortunately, Morales could not testify before the HSCA because he died of a heart attack on 8th May, 1978.

Fonzi tracked down Ruben Carbajal, a very close friend of Morales. Carbajal saw Morales the night before he died. He also visited Morales in hospital when he received news of the heart attack. Carbajal is convinced that Morales was killed by the CIA . Morales had told Carbajal the agency would do this if you posed a threat to covert operations. Morales, a heavy drinker, had a reputation for being indiscreet when intoxicated. On 4th August 1973, Morales allowed himself to be photographed by Kevin Scofield of the Arizona Republic at the El Molino restaurant. When the photograph appeared in the newspaper the following day, it identified Morales as Director for Operations Counterinsurgency and Special Activities in Washington.

Ruben Carbajal put Gaeton Fonzi in contact with Bob Walton, a business associate of David Morales. Walton confirmed Carbajal’s account that Morales feared being killed by the CIA. On one occasion he told him: “I know too much”. Walton also told him about a discussion he had with Morales about John F. Kennedy in the spring of 1973. Walton had done some volunteer work for Kennedy’s Senatorial campaign. When hearing this news, Morales launched an attack on Kennedy, describing him as a wimp who had betrayed the anti-Castro Cubans at the Bay of Pigs. He ended up by saying: “Well, we took care of that son of a bitch, didn’t we?” Carbajal, who was also present at this meeting, confirmed Walton’s account of what Morales said. (20)

Another important piece of evidence comes from Gene Wheaton. In 1995 Wheaton approached the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB) with information on the death of Kennedy. Anne Buttimer, Chief Investigator of the ARRB, recorded that: "Wheaton told me that from 1984 to 1987 he spent a lot of time in the Washington DC area and that starting in 1985 he was "recruited into Ollie North's network" by the CIA officer he has information about. (21) He got to know this man and his wife, a "'super grade high level CIA officer" and kept a bedroom in their Virginia home. His friend was a Marine Corps liaison in New Orleans and was the CIA contact with Carlos Marcello. He had been responsible for "running people into Cuba before the Bay of Pigs." His friend is now 68 or 69 years of age... Over the course of a year or a year and one-half his friend told him about his activities with training Cuban insurgency groups. Wheaton said he also got to know many of the Cubans who had been his friend's soldiers/operatives when the Cubans visited in Virginia from their homes in Miami. His friend and the Cubans confirmed to Wheaton they assassinated JFK. Wheaton's friend said he trained the Cubans who pulled the triggers. Wheaton said the street level Cubans felt JFK was a traitor after the Bay of Pigs and wanted to kill him. People "above the Cubans" wanted JFK killed for other reasons." (22)

It was later revealed that Wheaton's friend was Carl E. Jenkins, A senior CIA officer, Jenkins had been appointed in 1960 as Chief of Base for Cuban Project. In 1963 Jenkins provided paramilitary training for Manuel Artime and Rafael ‘Chi Chi’ Quintero and other members of the Movement for the Recovery of the Revolution (MRR). In an interview with William Law and Mark Sobel in the summer of 2005, Gene Wheaton claimed that Jenkins and Quintero were both involved in the assassination of Kennedy. (23)

It seems that members of Operation 40, originally recruited to remove Fidel Castro, had been redirected to kill Kennedy. That someone had paid this team of assassins to kill the president of the United States as part of a freelance operation. This is not such a far-fetched idea when you consider that in 1959 Richard Nixon was approaching oilmen like George Walker Bush and Jack Crichton to help fund Operation 40. We also have the claim of Frank Sturgis that "this assassination group (Operation 40) would upon orders, naturally, assassinate either members of the military or the political parties of the foreign country that you were going to infiltrate, and if necessary some of your own members who were suspected of being foreign agents."

Further support for this theory comes from an unlikely source. David Atlee Phillips died of cancer on 7th July, 1988. He left behind an unpublished manuscript entitled The AMLASH Legacy. The leading characters were explicitly based on Phillips, Winston Scott and James Angleton. The novel is about a CIA officer (Phillips) who lived in Mexico City. In the novel the character states: "I was one of those officers who handled Lee Harvey Oswald... We gave him the mission of killing Fidel Castro in Cuba... I don't know why he killed Kennedy. But I do know he used precisely the plan we had devised against Castro. Thus the CIA did not anticipate the president's assassination, but it was responsible for it. I share that guilt." (24)

In an article published by Washington Decoded on 11th June 2008, Don Bohning (AMCARBON-3) admits: "It is true, of course, that the CIA sanctioned plots to kill Fidel Castro and also initiated assassination plots. But did Operation 40 have anything to do with those efforts?" In an attack on the author of this article Bohning relies on information provided by CIA officials and operatives, Rafael Quintero and Porter Goss, to deny that Operation 40 was ever involved in carrying out assassinations.

However, Larry Hancock argues in his book, Someone Would Have Talked (2006) that evidence has emerged that suggests that members of Operation 40 were involved in assassinations. He even believes that members of this organization was involved in the killing of John F. Kennedy: "The individuals knowingly involved in the actual conspiracy included both exiles and a small number of their most committed American supporters... It is likely that some of the participants were part of the Morales trained and organized intelligence service that was developed to support the 1962 action against Cuba and which had a political assassination (black list) component. Elements of this group were retained as Morales' intelligence and surveillance force in Miami after the failure at the Bay of Pigs. Some of them had been involved in Agency sanctioned (and possibly unsanctioned) projects to assassinate Castro. This group was unofficially known as Operation 40." (24)

Notes

1. Senate Report, Alleged Assassination Plots Involving Foreign Leaders, 1975 (page 92)

2. Fabian Escalante, CIA Covert Operations 1959-1962: The Cuba Project, 2004 (pages 42 and 43)

3. Common Cause Magazine (4th March, 1990)

4. Joseph McBride, Where Was George?, The Nation (13th August, 1988)

5. Reinaldo Taladrid and Lazaro Baredo, The Bush Family and the Kennedy Assassination (16th January, 2006)

6. Daniel Hopsicker, Barry and the Boys: The CIA, the Mob and America’s Secret History, 2001 (page 170)

7. Webster Griffin Tarpley and Anton Chaitkin, George Bush: The Unauthorized Biography, 2004 (page 173)

8. Reinaldo Taladrid and Lazaro Baredo, The Bush Family and the Kennedy Assassination (16th January, 2006)

9. Fabian Escalante, CIA Covert Operations 1959-1962: The Cuba Project, 2004 (pages 42 and 43)

10. Daniel Hopsicker, Mad Cow Morning News (24th August, 2004)

11. Jean-Guy Allard, Who had the means and motives to kill Kennedy in 1963? (22nd May, 2005)

12. Don Bohning, The Castro Obsession, 2005 (page 144)

13. Larry Hancock, Someone Would Have Talked, 2006 (page 111)

14. Arthur Schlesinger, memo to Richard Goodwin (9th June, 1961)

15. Jean-Guy Allard, Who had the means and motives to kill Kennedy in 1963? (22nd May, 2005)

16. Fabian Escalante, Cuban Officials and JFK Historians, Nassau, Bahamas (7th December, 1995)

17. Larry Hancock, Someone Would Have Talked, 2003 (page 17)

18. Anthony Summers, The Kennedy Conspiracy, 2002 (page 328)

19. Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan, The Ghosts of November, Vanity Fair (December, 1994)

20. Gaeton Fonzi, The Last Investigation, 1993 (pages 380-390)

21. Anne Buttimer, Assassination Records Review Board Report (12th July, 1995)

22. Anthony Summers, The Kennedy Conspiracy, 2002 (page 371)

23. Larry Hancock, Someone Would Have Talked, 2003 (page 492)

24. Jefferson Morley, Our Man in Mexico, 2008 (page 238)

25. Don Bohning, Washington Decoded (11th June, 2008)

26.Larry Hancock, Someone Would Have Talked, 2006 (page 372)

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Guest David Guyatt
The issue is whether Operation 40 remained active after 1963. Is it possible that a network of CIA agents, right-wing businessmen linked to the arms and oil industries and Cuban exiles continued to assassinate people seen as dangerous to the interests of the Military-Industrial-Congressional Intelligence Complex? I believe this group were also involved in corrupt business activities that date back to Lyndon Johnson in the 1950s.

I would suggest that the following people were key members of Operation 40 who need to be looked at very carefully:

CIA Officers: Ted Shackley, Tom Clines, Tracy Barnes, David Atlee Phillips, David Morales, Rip Robertson, E. Howard Hunt, Carl E. Jenkins, William Harvey, Daniel Hopsicker, William C. Bishop and Edwin Wilson.

Assassins: Rafael ‘Chi Chi’ Quintero, Luis Posada, Orlando Bosch, Roland Masferrer, Eladio del Valle, Guillermo Novo, Eugenio Martinez, Antonio Cuesta, Hermino Diaz Garcia, Felix Rodriguez, Ricardo Morales Navarrete, Virgilio Gonzalez, Bernard L. Barker and Frank Sturgis.

Business Sponsors: William Pawley, George Bush and Jack Crichton.

It is interesting to now look at what other events these people were involved in following the assassination of JFK.

Operation Phoenix in Vietnam (1966-73). This was the killing of non-combatant Vietnamese civilians suspected of collaborating with the National Liberation Front. During this period, Operation Phoenix murdered between 20,857 (CIA figures) and 40,994 (North Vietnam figures) 40,994 civilians. This involved the following members of Operation 40: Ted Shackley, Thomas G. Clines, David Morales, Carl E. Jenkins, Chi Chi’ Quintero, Felix Rodriguez and Edwin Wilson)

The assassination of Che Guevara in October, 1967 (David Morales and Felix Rodriguez).

Watergate (1973-75): E. Howard Hunt, Eugenio Martinez, Virgilio Gonzalez, George Bush, Bernard L. Barker and Frank Sturgis.

The assassination of Orlando Letelier, the former Chilean Foreign Minister, on 21st September, 1976 (David Atlee Phillips, Luis Posada, Orlando Bosch and Ricardo Morales Navarrete).

The bombing of the Cubana Aircraft in October, 1976 that killed all 73 people aboard. (Luis Posada and Orlando Bosch).

Attempted assassination of Fidel Castro in November, 2000 (Luis Posada and Guillermo Novo).

Iran-Contra Scandal (1986-87): Ted Shackley, Thomas G. Clines, Carl E. Jenkins, Chi Chi’ Quintero, Felix Rodriguez, George Bush and Edwin Wilson.

I would be grateful if members could post information about the links between members of Operation 40 and these events that I have missed.

John, I assume that the inclusion of the name Daniel Hopsicker in the key Op. 40 members/CIA officers list was a typo?

David

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  • 6 months later...
Jack Crichton is an interesting character. He was the commanding officer of the 488th Military Intelligence Detachment. Crichton also went up against John Connolly in the Governor race of 1964. He was very critical of both Connolly and LBJ calling for them to make public the findings in the Billie Sol Estes investigation. George Bush backed up Crichton's calls and both men went on the political attack.

Crichton's resume also included that he was Chairman of the Dallas Civil Defense Intelligence Committee. In early 1961, he was behind a program called 'Know Your Enemy' - a phase of defense in the Cold War. This focused on Communists and their perceived purpose to destroy the American way of life.

Russ Baker's new book provides more information on the Jack Crichton. For example Crichton's close friend, Deputy Police Chief George L. Lumpkin, and a fellow member of the the 488th Military Intelligence Detachment, drove the pilot car of Kennedy's motorcade. Also in the car was Lieutenant Colonel George Whitmeyer, commander of all Army Reserve units in East Texas. The pilot car stopped briefly in front of the Texas School Book Depository, where Lumpkin spoke to a policeman controlling traffic at the corner of Houston and Elm.

In an interview Crichton claimed that there were "about a hundred men in that unit and about forty or fifty of them were from the Dallas Police Department."

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