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I am currently researching the role played by William Attwood played in conducting negotiations with Castro for JFK in 1963.

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/JFKattwood.htm

Does anybody know anything about his career before becoming US Ambassador to Guinea in 1961? I know he edited Look Magazine. Does anyone have the dates?

Attwood seemed to be serving as adviser to Adlai Stevenson, the United States representative to the United Nations, at the same time as being US Ambassador to Guinea. Is that right?

Does anybody know anything about the role Attwood played in negotiating with Castro for Jimmy Carter? Why did Carter abandon these negotiations?

Did Attwood reveal anything about the assassination of JFK in his books, Making It Through Middle Age (1982) and The Twilight Struggle: Tales of the Cold War (1987).

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Hi John,

I have an eight page memo written by Attwood to Gordon Chase, with a three page addition penned later.

Below is the first page. If you want me to send you the rest, just let me know as I don't wish to take up space here.

Cheers,

James

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  • 1 year later...

William Hollingsworth Attwood was born in Connecticut in 1919. He became a journalist and eventually became the editor of Look Magazine. In 1959 he obtained an exclusive interview with Fidel Castro.

When JFK was elected he appointed Attwood as the US Ambassador to Guinea. He also served as adviser to Adlai Stevenson, the United States representative to the United Nations. Attwood was the leading advocate inside the JFK Administration for talking to Castro about the potential for improving relations. He was supported by McGeorge Bundy who suggested to JFK that there should be a "gradual development of some form of accommodation with Castro".

In April 1963 Lisa Howard arrived in Cuba to make a documentary on the country. In an interview with Howard, Castro agreed that a rapprochement with Washington was desirable. On her return Howard met with the CIA. Deputy Director Richard Helms reported to John F. Kennedy on Howard's view that "Fidel Castro is looking for a way to reach a rapprochement with the United States." After detailing her observations about Castro's political power, disagreements with his colleagues and Soviet troops in Cuba, the memo concluded that "Howard definitely wants to impress the U.S. Government with two facts: Castro is ready to discuss rapprochement and she herself is ready to discuss it with him if asked to do so by the US Government."

CIA Director John McCone was strongly opposed to Lisa Howard being involved with these negotiations with Castro. He argued that it might "leak and compromise a number of CIA operations against Castro". In a memorandum to McGeorge Bundy, McCone commented that the "Lisa Howard report be handled in the most limited and sensitive manner," and "that no active steps be taken on the rapprochement matter at this time."

Arthur Schlesinger explained to Anthony Summers in 1978 why the CIA did not want JFK to negotiate with Fidel Castro during the summer of 1963: "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."

Lisa Howard now decided to bypass the CIA and in May, 1963, published an article in the journal, War and Peace Report, Howard wrote that in eight hours of private conversations Castro had shown that he had a strong desire for negotiations with the United States: "In our conversations he made it quite clear that he was ready to discuss: the Soviet personnel and military hardware on Cuban soil; compensation for expropriated American lands and investments; the question of Cuba as a base for Communist subversion throughout the Hemisphere." Howard went on to urge the Kennedy administration to "send an American government official on a quiet mission to Havana to hear what Castro has to say." A country as powerful as the United States, she concluded, "has nothing to lose at a bargaining table with Fidel Castro."

Attwood read Howard's article and on 12th September, 1963, he had a long conversation with her on the phone. This apparently set in motion a plan to initiate secret talks between the United States and Cuba. Six days later Attwood sent a memorandum to Under Secretary of State Averell Harriman and U.N. Ambassador Adlai Stevenson. Attwood asked for permission to establish discreet, indirect contact with Fidel Castro.

On September 20, JFK gave permission to authorize Attwood's direct contacts with Carlos Lechuga, the Cuban ambassador to the United Nations. According to Attwood: "I then told Miss Howard to set up the contact, that is to have a small reception at her house so that it could be done very casually, not as a formal approach by us." Howard met Lechuga at the UN on 23rd September 23. Howard invited Lechuga to come to a party at her Park Avenue apartment that night to meet Attwood.

The next day Attwood met with Robert Kennedy in Washington and reported on the talks with Lechuga. According to Attwood the attorney general believed that a trip to Cuba would be "rather risky." It was "bound to leak and... might result in some kind of Congressional investigation." Nevertheless, he thought the matter was "worth pursuing."

On 5th November 5, McGeorge Bundy recorded that "the President was more in favor of pushing towards an opening toward Cuba than was the State Department, the idea being - well, getting them out of the Soviet fold and perhaps wiping out the Bay of Pigs and maybe getting back into normal." Bundy designated his assistant, Gordon Chase, to be Attwood's direct contact at the White House.

Attwood continued to use Lisa Howard as his contact with Fidel Castro. In October 1963, Castro told Howard that he was very keen to open negotiations with Kennedy. Castro even offered to send a plane to Mexico to pick up Kennedy's representative and fly him to a private airport near Veradero where Castro would talk to him alone.

JFK now decided to send Attwood to meet Castro. On 14th November, 1963, Lisa Howard conveyed this message to her Cuban contact. In an attempt to show his good will, Kennedy sent a coded message to Castro in a speech delivered on 19th November. The speech included the following passage: "Cuba had become a weapon in an effort dictated by external powers to subvert the other American republics. This and this alone divides us. As long as this is true, nothing is possible. Without it, everything is possible."

Kennedy also sent a message to Castro via the French journalist Jean Daniel. According to Daniel: "Kennedy expressed some empathy for Castro's anti-Americanism, acknowledging that the United States had committed a number of sins in pre-revolutionary Cuba." Kennedy told Daniel that the trade embargo against Cuba could be lifted if Castro ended his support for left-wing movements in the Americas.

Daniel delivered this message on 19th November. Castro told Jean Daniel that Kennedy could become "the greatest president of the United States, the leader who may at last understand that there can be coexistence between capitalists and socialists, even in the Americas." Daniel was with Castro when news arrived that JFK had been assassinated Castro turned to Daniel and said:"This is an end to your mission of peace. Everything is changed."

President Johnson was told about these negotiations in December, 1963. He refused to continue these talks and claimed that the reason for this was that he feared that Richard Nixon, the expected Republican candidate for the presidency, would accuse him of being soft on communism.

Attwood also served as Ambassador to Kenya (1964-66). When President Jimmy Carter was elected to office, Attwood once again visited Cuba to meet Fidel Castro. When he returned, he reported to the new administration on Cuba's continuing interest in better relations with the United States.

Attwood was the author of several books including The Reds and the Blacks (1967), Making It Through Middle Age (1982) and The Twilight Struggle: Tales of the Cold War (1987).

William Attwood died in 1989.

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We can thank our lucky stars that Castro was no Communist; the situation was made to order for them.

— William Attwood, in "Look", March 3, 1959.

William Attwood was of course right about this. The problem was that Eisenhower's policy towards Castro was so inept that he drove him into the arms of the Soviets. There were senior figures in the CIA who also believed that supporting Castro in the late 1950s was the best way of keeping Cuba from falling to the communists. They knew that Batista was so corrupt that it was just a matter of time before he was overthrown. The problem was that Republican presidents prefered to help keep corrupt military dictators in power. Nothing changes does it.

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My personal recollection of the time is that the U.S. government turned against Castro after he and his entourage left a bunch of chicken feathers in a New York City hotel room. I know now, of course, that much more larger issues were involved.

Ron

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John wrote:

The problem was that Republican presidents prefered to help keep corrupt military dictators in power. Nothing changes does it.

Saddam Hussein = dictator

Current Iraqui government = democratically elected

You just can't win. Bush tries to prove John wrong about his generalization and what does he get for it? Condemnation!

Go figure!

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John wrote:

William Attwood was of course right about this.

But John Kennedy said:

I look at Cuba, 90 miles off the coast of the United States. In 1957 I was in Havana. I talked to the American Ambassador there. He said that he was the second most powerful man in Cuba, and yet even though Ambassador Smith and Ambassador Gardner, both Republican Ambassadors, both warned of Castro, the Marxist influences around Castro, the Communist influences around Castro, both of them have testified in the last 6 weeks, that in spite of their warnings to the American Government, nothing was done.

Fourth Presidential Debate, New York City, October 21, 1960 (full text available at jfk library web-site).

Kennedy was right! So were Gardner and Smith. But Attwood was wrong! (If Attwood was correct, then Fidel was a xxxx--right, John? He may or may not be an assassin, but he was clearly a xxxx about when he became a Communist if your position is correct).

Edited by Tim Gratz
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John wrote:

The problem was that Republican presidents prefered to help keep corrupt military dictators in power. Nothing changes does it.

Saddam Hussein = dictator

Installed by whom?  Oh yes, dear me, he became Vice President of Iraq during the regime of Richard Nixon and his DCI, Richard Helms.  Then had arms sold to him - and his Iranian enemies - by Ronald Reagan and his VP, G.H.W. Bush, who had also consorted with Saddam when he was DCI.  Sure was a good photo op for Donald Rumsfeld to be caught shaking hands with the dictator, and Dick Cheney's Halliburton has milked money out of Iraq before, during and after the war.  Good thing none of them were Republicans, or Tim's argument would be sunk.

Current Iraqui government = democratically elected

Current Iraqi government = who knows what, at who knows what cost?

You just can't win.  Bush tries to prove John wrong about his generalization and what does he get for it?  Condemnation!

Go figure!

Some people just don't treat their former business partners very well, do they?

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Well, my point is that Bush II is different from Bush I.

And I was never a big fan of either Richard Nixon or Richard Helms. (Come to think of it, they were not fans of each other, were they?)

Edited by Tim Gratz
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Indeed. The Guardian article never stated, by the way, that Rove engaged in "dirty tricks" against Wilson, which is the way you phrased it. The issue is whether he revealed the name of Wilson's wife as a covert CIA operative, and there is apparently no evidence that he did.

Wilson is a discredited xxxx. Members are urged to read this piece from the July 13, 2005 "Wall Street Journal":

http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/fe...ml?id=110006955

Edited by Tim Gratz
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These "threads" have a life of their own. We start with Atwood, a player in the 1960s, and end up discussing Karl Rove! One brief aside: when I met Karl, he was as thin as a rail.

Edited by Tim Gratz
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I think the larger point to be made is that the U.S. DID support the overtrow of a dictator (Batista) and helped Castro, who, despite the complaints of many, DID have the support of his people, only to have the whole thing backfire. The question is why. The record seems to indicate that Castro's aim, from day one, was for Cuba to be nobody's satellite, and his personal experiment. The Eisenhower Administration, particularly Dick Nixon, who saw everything as pink and white, couldn't stand for this. Robert Anderson's policies at Treasury in particular pushed Castro away. I'm not so sure this wasn't by design. Once we pushed Castro into the Soviet camp, and proved to the American people that supporting leftists was a waste of time, we could go back to supporting dictators and getting kickbacks on their sugar crops. Business as usual. Because of this, I believe, Nixon set Castro up to fail from day one. If Castro had stayed within our sphere and had showed everyone that a leftist dictator could be both good for his people and an American ally, Nixon's whole world view and raison d'etre in politics would be over. He needed to make Castro a bad guy before Castro destroyed him. He got his wish.

This journey through the mind of Nixon was brought to you by the world of Microsoft.

Edited by Pat Speer
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