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Jack Pfeiffer


Pat Speer
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I followed a link posted by Tim to read an internal CIA history of the Bay of Pigs, newly declassified, and learned a lot. Maybe this stuff was previously available, but it was new to me. http://www14.homepage.villanova.edu/david.barrett/bop.html

The history corroborates a number of suspicions, and provides fresh evidence to tie the BOP with the Kennedy assassination.

In a section on Nixon it corroborates Robert Morrow's story that Nixon, along with Marshall Diggs and former Senator Owen Brewster, backed a Cuban exile named Mario Kohly as a replacement for Fidel. It also reveals that Kohly threatened to blow the lid off the upcoming invasion when the CIA and state department decided he lacked the right stuff to lead the new government.

This section also reveals that Nixon was heavily backed by William S Pawley, and that Pawley was similarly miffed when his candidate, Rubio Padillo, was written off as a reactionary.

It also notes that shortly after Padillo and Kohly were cut out of the action, Nixon's contact with the CIA dropped off considerably. Since Nixon was certainly planning on becoming the next President, and since Nixon was undoubtedly committed to having a commie-free Cuba, this makes me suspect that Morrow's other contention, that the exile government sponsored by the CIA was to be killed upon arrival in Cuba, has merit. I just don't see Nixon walking away from the BOP, after he was so involved in its beginning stages. I believe he'd made plans of his own...plans he would have implemented once elected.

In a section on assassinations, there's even more dirt. In a discussion of whether or not assassinating Castro was part of the plan, one agent is quoted as asking "can we get a Rip Robertson next to him?" This indicates that Robertson, who looks exasctly like a man seen in Dealey Plaza, was THE man in the CIA most likely to be involved in assassination (as evidenced by his role in Guatemala). At another point, a memo is quoted that says Jake Esterline discussed a program of assassination with David Atlee Phillips.

Even more surprising, in a discussion of a program called AMHINT, it is mentioned in passing that the DRE, (yes, those wacky student protestors who had that goofy fight with Oswald on the streets of New Orleans) were provided with high-powered rifles with silencers and scopes. (Have you read this, Jeff Morley?) It is explained that these rifles may have been part of a canceled plan to kill the Soviet Ambassador to Cuba.

The writer of the history describes as well a "must go" list found in the files. This is presumably a list of Cubans who were to be killed once Fidel was overthrown. The list was from someone using the initials E.L., which one of the CIA men involved says must mean Edward Lansdale (who wasn't directly involved in the Bay of Pigs).

What's intriguing about this is that in the section on Nixon it is noted that Nixon suggested the CIA contact Lansdale early on in the planning of the BOP.

This raises the question: was there a separate assassination element to the BOP planning kept separate from the main plan, and did Nixon supervise this element behind Eisenhowers back?

I find it hard to believe Nixon would ignore the BOP planning because he was too busy campaigning. He planned on winning the election. He would not want to inherit an unwinnable situation in Cuba. I believe he had his own plans, on hold, ready to go.

Edited by Pat Speer
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Guest Stephen Turner

Pat, good stuff, as regarding Nixons plans for Cuba,howabout they just reheat the JCS Northwoods hash,no RFK to run it past,and Dick could tell Taylor to sanction it,or get a new career. Just some ramblings...Steve.

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Pat, it is a most interesting report and Stu and I have been discussing it as well. It gets really hard to separate the Nixon phase from the post-Nixon phase as a lot of the players did change. I'd sure like to have dates on the items you mentioned - especially the "must go" list and the Phillips/Esterline conversations. Unusual to find real name/initials on a must go list if it came from within CIA though. Such a list sure does smack of the PBSUCCESS cadre though.

One thing we do know via new CIA documents is that beginning in 1960 it was Morales who was running the counter intelligence effort and making the lists of names of Cuban targets. And he had a group going in before and with the Brigade specifically targeted on those lists. Whether there was a separate PM group with lists remains to be seen but we also have some documents about at least one paramilitary assassination program targeting Castro. And Robertson seems to have made an attempt against Che which he tagged on to another mission....which sounds like standard Rip stuff with or without ourders. Its now very clear that the Roselli/Varona efforts were not the only project in play and that Cuba project people were putting together their own attempts...regardless of Esterline's later testimony (like anybody should belive any CIA testimony from the guy in charge of the project...).

-- Larry

I followed a link posted by Tim to read an internal CIA history of the Bay of Pigs, newly declassified, and learned a lot. Maybe this stuff was previously available, but it was new to me. http://www14.homepage.villanova.edu/david.barrett/bop.html

The history corroborates a number of suspicions, and provides fresh evidence to tie the BOP with the Kennedy assassination.

In a section on Nixon it corroborates Robert Morrow's story that  Nixon, along with Marshall Diggs and former Senator Owen Brewster, backed a Cuban exile named Mario Kohly as a replacement for Fidel. It also reveals that Kohly threatened to blow the lid off  the upcoming invasion when the CIA and state department decided he lacked the right stuff to lead the new government.

This section also reveals that Nixon was heavily backed by William S Pawley, and that Pawley was similarly miffed when his candidate, Rubio Padillo, was written off as a reactionary.

It also notes that shortly after Padillo and Kohly were cut out of the action, Nixon's contact with the CIA dropped off considerably.  Since Nixon was certainly planning on becoming the next President, and since Nixon was undoubtedly committed to having a commie-free Cuba, this makes me suspect that Morrow's other contention, that the exile government sponsored by the CIA was to be killed upon arrival in Cuba, has merit.  I just don't see Nixon walking away from the BOP, after he was so involved in its beginning stages. I believe he'd made plans of his own...plans he would have implemented once elected.

In a section on assassinations, there's even more dirt.  In a discussion of whether or not assassinating Castro was part of the plan, one agent is quoted as asking "can we get a Rip Robertson next to him?"  This indicates that Robertson, who looks exasctly like a man seen in Dealey Plaza, was THE man in the CIA most likely to be involved in assassination (as evidenced by his role in Guatemala).  At another point, a memo is quoted that says Jake Esterline discussed a program of assassination with David Atlee Phillips.

Even more surprising, in a discussion of a program called AMHINT, it is mentioned in passing that the DRE, (yes, those wacky student protestors who had that goofy fight with Oswald on the streets of New Orleans) were provided with high-powered rifles with silencers and scopes.  (Have you read this, Jeff Morley?)  It is explained that these rifles may have been part of a canceled plan to kill the Soviet Ambassador to Cuba.

The writer of the history describes as well a "must go" list found in the files.  This is presumably a list of Cubans who were to be killed once Fidel was overthrown.  The list was from someone using the initials E.L., which one of the CIA men involved says must mean Edward Lansdale (who wasn't directly involved in the Bay of Pigs).

What's intriguing about this is that in the section on Nixon it is noted that Nixon suggested the CIA contact Lansdale early on in the planning of the BOP.

This raises the question:  was there a separate assassination element to the BOP planning kept separate from the main plan, and did Nixon supervise this element behind Eisenhowers back?

I find it hard to believe Nixon would ignore the BOP planning because he was too busy campaigning.  He planned on winning the election.  He would not want to inherit an unwinnable situation in Cuba.  I believe he had his own plans, on hold,  ready to go.

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As I understand the BOP, Nixon was very involved in the planning. During the campaign (1960) he was constantly pushing the CIA to get the job done before the election believing that it would be the final boost he needed to win.

Kennedy, on the other hand, was being briefed on the BOP operations and seems to have used the information that he was given to put Nixon in a pickle. Kennedy was declaring Eisenhower/Nixon soft on communism, soft on Castro and soft on Cuba by saying more should and could be done to "free" Cuba. Nixon was stuck defending the US cover that said we were not planning any sort of attack on Cuba that involved US assets, a position that Nixon would later blame for his loss.

What seems interesting is that Eisenhower also seems to have felt that the BOP Operation was being sabotaged while in the planning stages that led to constant delays.

So what do we make of this?

I believe that it is important to remember that Allen Dulles had visited Joseph Kennedy and had promised him that his son would be the next president of the US. It is important to remember that the U-2 incident ended the possibility of a successful Paris Peace Summit in May of 1960 that could have helped the Nixon campaign as well. Could it be that the CIA was working against Nixon in the 1960 election?

On Nov. 24, 2004 I made this post dealing with this same subject:

"You might enjoy reading, The Kennedys: America's Emerald Kings by Thomas Maier. In the book Maier gives an account of a visit by Allen Dulles to Joe Kennedy where Dulles assures Kennedy that his son will be the next President.

I hold to the belief that if the U-2 incident does not occur on May 1, 1960, John F. Kennedy does not become President! The fact that Oswasld was a radar operator at Astugi, Japan where the U-2's were flying out of at the time and the defection of Oswald to the Soviet Union make for a connection that I just can't get out of my mind.

The election of John F. Kennedy, perhaps, would not have occured if Oswald does not defect to the Soviet Union and Francis Gary Powers is not shot down. For me, the connection of General Edwin Walker to Maxwell Taylor and Taylor's rise to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under Kennedy makes me believe that Taylor may have had advance knowledge of the U-2 incident. Walker's tavel to Europe in October of 1959 coincides with Oswald's defection. Did Walker meet Oswald in Europe? I believe there is a legitimate possibility."

Add to this older post the sabotage of the BOP Operation before the election in 1960. One more piece of this puzzle could be that Joe Kennedy had a very close relationship with the Vatican where one could assume he then had access to the vast intelligence agency that the Vatican controlled. To what lengths would Joe Kennedy and the "Eastern Establishment" go to prevent a poor upstart from Yorba Linda, California from becomming the next President of the United States? Especially after Allen Dulles had guarenteed his election!

How disappointed would certain "cold warriors" be when Kennedy refused to pull the trigger when the BOP Operation actually began?

Just thoughts.

Jim Root

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I really think all serious assassination researchers ought to read "The Pfeiffer Report".

I think I commented before that Gerry Hemming (who has a vast amound of knowledge and an astounding memory) told me that Pfeiffer had sued the CIA under the FOIA for release of the report he had authored but he died while the suit was still pending. He was planning to write a book and wanted to use information in his report.

Does anyone have any background on Pfeiffer's career in the CIA?

What is now in the public record is only Volume Three of the report. I believe there are five volumes. I strongly suspect there would be interesting information in the still-unreleased volumes.

Does anyone know if there is a still open FOIA suit for the release of the other volumes?

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Does anyone have any background on Pfeiffer's career in the CIA? (Tim Gratz)

Tim,

In a nutshell, Pfeiffer's Agency career began in 1955. He had a Ph.D in History, served with Air Force Intelligence and was Chief of CIA History Staff between 1976-79.

Pfeiffer below.

James

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As I understand the BOP, Nixon was very involved in the planning.  During the campaign (1960) he was constantly pushing the CIA to get the job done before the election believing that it would be the final boost he needed to win.

Kennedy, on the other hand, was being briefed on the BOP operations and seems to have used the information that he was given to put Nixon in a pickle.  Kennedy was declaring Eisenhower/Nixon soft on communism, soft on Castro and soft on Cuba by saying more should and could be done to "free" Cuba.  Nixon was stuck defending the US cover that said we were not planning any sort of attack on Cuba that involved US assets, a position that Nixon would later blame for his loss.

Jim Root

Jim, the Pfeiffer history deals with both of these issues and concludes that Nixon was not involved in the planning after mid-1960 and that Dulles did not brief Kennedy on the BOP when he briefed Kennedy on Cuba. Its conclusions seem correct.

Of course, if Nixon was not overtly trying to plan the BOP, he may have been making covert plans. He was expecting to become the next President. His eventual Presidency reveals that he would not hesitate to go behind the backs of the CIA and the State Department when it suited his needs, i.e.-the bombing in Cambodia, Kissinger's secret meetings with Vietnam and China, the Plumbers... I suspect he had his own plans for Castro and the BOP as well. Let's not forget that Lansky offered one million for Castro's head during this period and that many researchers have unveiled ties between Nixon and Lansky. We should also remember that Sam Giancana discussed an assassination attempt on Castro performed by a girl--almost assuredly Marita Lorenz--and that this occurred months BEFORE Maheu gave Rosselli any pills. Her sponsor on this attempt--by his own admission, Frank Sturgis, eventual Watergate burglar. We should also remember that Maheu's partner, Robert King, was by Maheu's own admission, traveling with Nixon during the 1960 campaign. And let's not forget that by Hunt's own admission one of the original recommendations for assassinating Castro was prepared by him and sent to Robert Cushman, Nixon's military aid. Finally, one should remember that Hunt pulled out of the official BOP planning when the coalition replacing Castro came to include too many liberals. As the Pfeiffer history indicates that Nixon and Pawley did the same, this makes me suspect that Hunt began working with them on a side project. As Hunt's new boss in this period was none other than David Atlee Phillips, who reportedly handled Oswald, and as Pawley committed suicide before he could be questioned by the HSCA, this door leads many places.

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Pat, as you know, Pfeiffer concludes, and vigorously argues, that the plans for the BOP were not predicated on the assassination of Castro.

Do you credit his analysis?

Sure, I believe that men like Hawkins and Esterline were kept in the dark. I believe its likely Nixon created his own "secret team," who, working with groups like Operation 40, were all set to clean house.

Edited by Pat Speer
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But if Bissell was running the BOP as well as monitoring the assassination plot (that he initiated) why was there not a linkage even though the assassination plots were hidden from almost everyone (including Esterline and Hawkins).

Who in the CIA knew for sure of the assassination plots? Bissell, Sheffield Edwards and James O'Connell, I believe. Did anyone else know for certain? I know Bissell claims he told Dulles but only obliquely using "nice words".

But I think JFK may have been told.

Correct me if I am wrong but I think that in about 1968 Sen Smathers told someone that after the BOP JFK had told him there had been an assassination plot that had not succeeded.

Edited by Tim Gratz
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But if Bissell was running the BOP as well as monitoring the assassination plot (that he initiated) why was there not a linkage even though the assassination plots were hidden from almost everyone (including Esterline and Hawkins).

Who in the CIA knew for sure of the assassination plots?  Bissell, Sheffield Edwards and James O'Connell, I believe.  Did anyone else know for certain? I know Bissell claims he told Dulles but only obliquely using "nice words".

But I think JFK may have been told.

Correct me if I am wrong but I think that in about 1968 Sen Smathers told someone that after the BOP JFK had told him there had been an assassination plot that had not succeeded.

According to Pfeiffer's history, Barnes also knew of the plots. Bissell's memoirs back this up. Barnes was Bissell's mentor and point man on all things dirty.

Smathers said that he'd recommended assassination, but that JFK had shot him down. I believe he also told Smathers that he was being pressured to do such a thing, but that he would not. Or am I mixing up Smathers' statement with Szulc's?

I've read a few of these histories, and am under the impression that CIA historians are given a lot of leeway to state their own conclusions, almost as much as an IG.

There are a number of times in the Pfeiffer history where he says "In the opinion of this writer" etc. A CIA history is not necessarily an official viewpoint. In the opinion of this writer, they are writtten in large part to help educate future directors and agents.

Edited by Pat Speer
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  • 6 months later...
Certain interesting details about Pawley, Corcoran, et al, can be found in a rather obscure little CIA historical review, located at:

http://www14.homepage.villanova.edu/david.barrett/bop.html

In the introduction to a series of PDF chapters of this historical review, Dr. David Barrett notes:

"During the 1970s, CIA historian Jack Pfeiffer wrote a Top Secret multi-volume history of 1961’s Bay of Pigs intervention in Cuba. Before his death, Pfeiffer sued unsuccessfully to de-classify some of the History. Though it is widely believed that all volumes are still classified, one is available at National Archives’ JFK Assassination Records Collection. Pfeiffer writes of incompetence at CIA, of an out-of-touch Allen Dulles, of too-close relations between CIA and anti-Castro U.S. corporate leaders, and about “The Question of Assassination.”

This is highly recommended reading, FWIW....

I thought this deserved its own thread.

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This looks like a very interesting book. Jack Pfeiffer claims in the introduction that the classified CIA documents “make clear that various US corporate interests played an active (sometimes overactive) role in support of the anti-Castro efforts of the Government.”

This is the same picture that is emerging from my own research. “Assassination, Terrorism and the Arms Trade: The Contracting Out of U.S. Foreign Policy: 1940-1990”.

http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?showtopic=5799

I suspect that the unholy alliance of the CIA with large multinational corporations that shaped US Foreign Policy from the overthrow of Arbenz in Guatemala in 1954 is the real reason why so many documents remain classified.

I have been interested in the work of Jack Pfeiffer since I came across this interview with Jake Esterline on 10th November, 1975.

Jack Pfeiffer: I have a question, and it is what was Pawley's relation to this whole operation... and your relation with Pawley seems to have been quite close, too.

Jake Esterline: I think it was a hangover relationship from the things that Bill Pawley had done as quite a wheel with a number of very senior people during the Guatemalan operation ... that they felt that Bill, who had been very closely tied into Cuba ... that he was a very prominent man in Florida... that there were a lot of things that he might be able to do, in the sense of getting things lined up in Florida for us... and also his ties with Nixon and with other republican politicos. I used to deal with him quite a bit before.... From my point of view, we never let Bill Pawley know any of the intimacies about our operations, or what we were doing. He never knew where our bases were, or things of that sort. He never knew anything specific about our operations, but he was doing an awful lot of things on his own with the exiles. Some of the people that he had known in Cuba, in the sugar business, etc. I guess he actually was instrumental in running boats and things in and out of Cuba, getting people out and what not, and a variety of things that were not connected with us in any way. He was a political factor from the standpoint from J.C.'s standpoint. I don't know whether Tommy Corcoran entered in at this point... I think Tommy Corcoran was strictly in Guatemala. I guess Corcoran didn't come into this thing, at least not very much.

Jack Pfeiffer: His name turns up once or twice.

Jake Esterline: Yes, I met him once, in connection with Cuba, but I don't remember who... for J.C King, but I don't remember why, at this point. It wasn't anything of any significance. My feeling with Pawley... he was such a hawk, and he was every second week... he wanted to kill somebody inside... . It was from my standpoint - we were trying to keep him from doing things to cause problems for us. This was almost a standing operation.

Jack Pfeiffer: This is what I was wondering, because Tracy Barnes, I know on a number of occasions, seemed to make it quite clear that what the Agency had to be careful of was getting hung with a reactionary label, and then at the same time that was going on, here is all of this conversation back and forth with Pawley and his visits...

Jake Esterline: Really to keep him from doing something to upset the applecart from our standpoint. In that sense, I did fill that role in part for a long time; and the net result of the thing is that Bill thinks I am a dangerous leftist today. If I hadn't been a foot dragger, or hadn't taken all these dissenting opinions of this, things in Cuba would have been a lot better.

Jack Pfeiffer: Was Pawley actually involved in the covert operation in Guatemala?

Jake Esterline: Yes, he, well I am sure he was, in a...

Jack Pfeiffer: I mean, with you as far as you...

Jake Esterline: Not I personally, but he was involved with State Department. I said Rubottom a couple of times, I didn't mean Rubottom, I meant Rusk. He was involved - especially in Guatemala with Rubottom or whoever Secretary of State was, and Seville Sacassaa and Somoza and whoever Secretary of Defense was in getting the planes from the Defense Dept., having them painted over, the decals painted over and flown to Nicaragua where they became the Defense force for that operation.

Jack Pfeiffer: I ran across some comment that he had made to Livingston Merchant.

Jake Esterline: They were good friends, and knew each other. But to my knowledge, he never had any involvement like that during the Bay of Pigs days, although you'd have to ask Ted Shackley about what they did later, because I think he ran some things into Cuba for Ted Shackley.

Jack Pfeiffer: That is beyond my period of interest. He was involved in a great amount of fund raising activity, in the New York area apparently - pushing or raising funds in the New York area - wasn't Droller involved in this too? What was your relation with Droller... were you directing Droller's activities, or was Dave Phillips running Droller...

Jake Esterline: Oh, I sort of ran Droller, except I never knew what Tracy Barnes was going to do next, when I turned my back. Droller was such.an ambitious fellow trying to run in... trying to run circles around everybody for his own aggrandizement that you never knew... but Droller would never have had any continuing contact with Pawley, because they had met only once, and I recall Pawley saying that he never wanted to talk to that "you know what" again. He was very unhappy that somebody like Gerry... he just didn't like Gerry's looks, he didn't like his accent. He was very unfair about Gerry, and I don't mean to be unfair about Gerry - the only thing is that Gerry was insanely ambitious. He was his own worst enemy, that was all.... We just didn't think that Tracy really understood it that well, or if Tracy did, he coudn't articulate... he wouldn't articulate it that well. Tracy was one of the sweetest guys that ever lived, but he coudn't ever draw a straight line between two points....

Jack Pfeiffer: What about JFK?

Jake Esterline: JFK was an uninitiated fellow who had been in the wars, but he hadn't been exposed to any world politics or crises yet if he had something else as a warm up, he might have made different decisions than he made at that time. I think he was kind of a victim of the thing. I blame Nixon far more than I do Kennedy for the equivocations and the loss of time and what not that led to the ultimate disaster. Goodwin, I just thought was a sleazy; little self-seeker, who I didn't feel safe with any secret. His consorting with Che Guevara in Montevideo had rather upset me at the time...

Jack Pfeiffer: How about McNamara did you get involved with him at all?

Jake Esterline: No.

Jack Pfeiffer: Bobby Kennedy?

Jake Esterline: I wouldn't even tell you off tape. I didn't like him. He's dead, God rest his soul.

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