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Cuban Smoke and the French Connection:Why the CIA installed Fidel Castro


Paul Rigby
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For anyone interested in this subject I would suggest that they read Earl E. T. Smith gave evidence to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary on 27th August, 1960.

John,

Interesting post, to which I'll return at greater length when time permits. For the moment, I wanted to draw attention to JFK's familiarity with Smith and his testimony on U.S. support for Castro. Here's the only thing I could find readily to hand:

MILTON S. EISENHOWER. The Wine Is Bitter: The United States and Latin America (Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Co., Inc., 1963), p.54:

"During the television debate on October 21, 1960, Senator Kennedy referred to testimony given before a Senate Committee by Ambassadors Arthur Gardner and Earl E.T. Smith, both of whom had been in Cuba during the Batista regime and were known to be friendly to Batista…Said candidate Kennedy: "[they] warned of Castro, [and] the Marxist influence around Castro…both of them have testified that, in spite of their warnings to the American Government, nothing was done." A few moments later, he said scornfully: "Most of the equipment and arms and resources for Castro came from the United States, flown out of Florida and other parts of the United States to Castro in the mountains."

Paul

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Paul Rigby:

With Castro and his motley band safely restored to Cuban soil in December 1956, CIA money soon flooded in. Between “October or November 1957 and the middle of 1958, the CIA delivered no less than fifty thousand dollars to a half-dozen or more key members of the 26th July Movement in Santiago.” The funds were “handled by Robert D. Wiecha, a CIA case officer …who served in Santiago from September 1957 to June 1959.” In mid-October 1958, a senior figure within the 26th July Movement wrote to Castro detailing the extent of the CIA support in the US Embassy in Havana, and quality of the information that support gave: “I have been in contact with people close to the embassy. These contacts have told me that people who are on our side – but who do not appear to – have had conversations with the ambassador himself. I think this is the best possible, since we are kept up-to-date about everything happening there and of all the possible U.S. plans…”

Let's put some back-ground to above with this passage from GEORGE BUSH:

The Unauthorized Biography, by Webster G. Tarpley and Anton Chaitkin, Chpt 8.

http://www.tarpley.net/bush8.htm

(quote on, emphasis added)

Bush and the Liedtkes [J. Hugh and William] had been very lucky with the Jameson field

[Zapata's main Texas field], but they could hardly expect such results to be repeated

indefinitely. In addition, they were now ['57 -'59] posting losses, and the value of Zapata

stock had gone into a decline. Bush and the Liedtke brothers now concluded that the

epoch in which large oil fields could be discovered within the continental United States

was now over. Mammoth new oil fields, they believed, could only be found offshore,

located under hundreds of feet of water on the continental shelves, or in shallow seas

like the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. By a happy coincidence, in 1954 the US federal

government was just beginning to auction the mineral rights for these offshore areas.

With father Prescott Bush directing his potent Brown Brothers, Harriman/Skull and Bones

network from the US Senate while regularly hob-nobbing with President Eisenhower on the

golf links, George Bush could be confident of receiving special privileged treatment when it

came to these mineral rights. Bush and his partners therefore judged the moment ripe for

launching a for-hire drilling company, Zapata Offshore, a Delaware corporation that would

offer its services to the companies making up the Seven Sisters international oil cartel in

drilling underwater wells...

...The first asset of Zapata Offshore was the SCORPION, a $ 3.5 million deep-sea drilling

rig that was financed by $1.5 million from the initial stock sale plus another $2 million

from bonds marketed with the help of Uncle Herbie [Walker]. The SCORPION was the

first three-legged self-elevating mobile drilling barge, and it was built by R. G. LeTourneau,

Inc., of Vicksburg, Mississippi. The platform weighed some 9 million pounds and measured

180 by 150 feet, and the three legs were 140 feet long when fully extended. The rig was

floated into the desired drilling position before the legs were extended, and the main body

was then pushed up above the waves by electric motors. The SCORPION was delivered

early in 1956, and was commissioned at Galveston in March, 1956, and was put to work

at exploratory drilling in the Gulf of Mexico during the rest of the year...

...As for the SCORPION, during part of 1957 it was under contract to the

Bahama-California Oil Company, drilling between Florida and Cuba. It was

then leased by Gulf Oil and Standard Oil of California, on whose behalf it started

drilling during 1958 at a position on the Cay Sal Bank, 131 miles south of Miami,

Florida, and just 54 miles north of Isabela, Cuba. Cuba was an interesting place

just then; the US-backed insurgency of Fidel Castro was rapidly undermining the

older US-imposed regime of Fulgencio Batista. That meant that SCORPIO was

located at a hot corner.

(quote off)

Well well well. All that time the CIA was supporting the Fidelistas Mr. George Bush

of the CIA had a mobile oil drilling platform 54 miles off the coast of Cuba. He could

run maintainence crews on and off that platform to the Florida mainland without

going thru US customs inspection.

Bush's Zapata Off-Shore didn't do all that much oil exploration, but "Uncle Herbie"

Walker kept pouring money into it.

Speculation: they were running guns and drugs with the Fidelistas.

In the fall of 1963 W. Averell Harriman wanted rapproachment with Fidel.

It looked like the best way to take advantage of the opportunity of having a

business partner in Havana for the smuggling operations on these oil platforms.

I'd speculate the HL Hunt disagreed, and he distrusted Harriman. I suspect

little George Bush went native and sided with Hunt.

It was all about those mineral rights in the Caribbean, and the opportunity

to combine the oil industry with the illicit trade in guns and drugs.

A co-operative government in Havana meant billions and billions

of smuggling dollars. Harriman thought he had Castro under control,

but Bush's boys scared Castro right into the Soviet arms.

Just as his boy screwed up over Iraq, I'd speculate that George HW screwed

up over Cuba.

Edited by Cliff Varnell
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With Castro and his motley band safely restored to Cuban soil in December 1956, CIA money soon flooded in. Between “October or November 1957 and the middle of 1958, the CIA delivered no less than fifty thousand dollars to a half-dozen or more key members of the 26th July Movement in Santiago.” The funds were “handled by Robert D. Wiecha, a CIA case officer …who served in Santiago from September 1957 to June 1959.” In mid-October 1958, a senior figure within the 26th July Movement wrote to Castro detailing the extent of the CIA support in the US Embassy in Havana, and quality of the information that support gave: “I have been in contact with people close to the embassy. These contacts have told me that people who are on our side – but who do not appear to – have had conversations with the ambassador himself. I think this is the best possible, since we are kept up-to-date about everything happening there and of all the possible U.S. plans…”

This period is consistent with Tosh Plumlee's claims of flying arms in to Castro's revolutionaries.

And as predictable as four o'clock, evidence rises to the surface of CIA playing both sides of the game.

[DISCLAIMER: Any apparent agreement between the author of this comment and the originator of this topic is purely coincidental. Void where prohibited. Employees and their families, agents, beneficiaries and assigns are ineligible. No animals were harmed in the making of this comment or this thread.]

Ashton Gray

Edited by Ashton Gray
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For anyone interested in this subject I would suggest that they read Earl E. T. Smith gave evidence to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary on 27th August, 1960.

John,

Interesting post, to which I'll return at greater length when time permits. For the moment, I wanted to draw attention to JFK's familiarity with Smith and his testimony on U.S. support for Castro.

JFK met Earl Smith via his wife, Florence. JFK had been having an affair with Florence Pritchett since 1944. At the time she was married to Richard Canning. Betty Spalding said that for JFK, "Over a long period of time, it was probably the closest relationship with a woman I know of." However, because Kennedy was a Roman Catholic, marriage was out of the question.

Florence married Earl E. T. Smith in 1947. In June, 1957, President Dwight Eisenhower appointed Smith as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Cuba. FBI files reveal that over the next two years JFK made more than a dozen visits to Cuba in order to meet Florence. Florence also met Kennedy in Miami and Palm Beach, where their homes were conveniently adjoined.

According to one account: "JFK would elude the Secret Service on occasion in order to have trysts with women. He did this in Palm Beach when he hopped a fence to swim with Flo Smith. The Secret Service agents couldn't find him and called in the FBI. They finally turned to Palm Beach Police Chief Homer Large, a trusted Kennedy family associate. The Police Chief knew exactly where to find Jack - next door in Earl E. T. Smith's swimming pool. Jack and Flo were alone, and as Homer put it, "They weren't doing the Australian crawl."

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

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Well well well. All that time the CIA was supporting the Fidelistas Mr. George Bush

of the CIA had a mobile oil drilling platform 54 miles off the coast of Cuba. He could

run maintainence crews on and off that platform to the Florida mainland without

going thru US customs inspection.

Now this I like! By the by, I thought parts of Tarpley's Synthetic Terror: Made In USA (Progressive Press, 205) the best things I've read in years.

Paul

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Well well well. All that time the CIA was supporting the Fidelistas Mr. George Bush

of the CIA had a mobile oil drilling platform 54 miles off the coast of Cuba. He could

run maintainence crews on and off that platform to the Florida mainland without

going thru US customs inspection.

Now this I like!

I knew you would... :D

By the by, I thought parts of Tarpley's Synthetic Terror: Made In USA (Progressive Press, 205) the best things I've read in years.

Paul

Here's a key point that I don't think Tarpley fully connected. From the Unauthorized Bush:

(quote on, emphasis added)

The raison d'être of the massive capability commanded by Theodore Shackley was

now Operation Mongoose, a program for sabotage raids and assassinations to be

conducted on Cuban territory, with a special effort to eliminate Fidel Castro personally.

In order to run these operations from US territory, flagrant and extensive violation of

federal and state laws was the order of the day. Documents regarding the incorporation

of businesses were falsified. Income tax returns were faked. FAA regulations were

violated by planes taking off for Cuba or for forward bases in the Bahamas and elsewhere.

Explosives moved across highways that were full of civilian traffic. The Munitions Act, the

Neutrality Act, the customs and immigrations laws were routinely flaunted. Above

all, the drug laws were massively violated as the gallant anti-communist fighters filled

their planes and boats with illegal narcotics to be smuggled back into the US when

they returned from their missions. By 1963, the drug-running activities of the covert

operatives were beginning to attract attention. JM/WAVE, in sum, accelerated the

slide of south Florida towards the status of drug and murder capital of the United States

it achieved during the 1980's, when it became as notorious as Chicago during Prohibition.

(quote off)

This is the most likely answer to the question: Why was Kennedy shot?

Harriman/Bush et al wanted to take advantage of the smuggling operations from

Havana, then to the drilling platforms, then to the mainland -- all nice and clean

and unobserved.

H.L. Hunt and the other Texan oil men were up to the same thing, I'd speculate.

Harriman wanted to woo Castro into the fold; Hunt wanted him assassinated

or overthrown.

If Oswald had been gunned down Friday afternoon, Harriman would have gone

along with the Castro-did-it scenario.

After Oswald was captured, Harriman/Bundy pulled a plug on the Castro-did-it

scenario to preserve relations with the Russians, and Cuba was "lost."

Edited by Cliff Varnell
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After Oswald was captured, Harriman/Bundy pulled a plug on the Castro-did-it

scenario to preserve relations with the Russians, and Cuba was "lost."

The Cuban angle was spiked along time before that!

Paul

Here's where we diverge. Had Oswald been gunned down as (I'd speculate)

planned -- Mickey and Minnie would be knocking back virgin Cuba Libres

at the Havana Disneyland, as we speak...

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The New York World-Telegram & Sun, Monday, October 14, 1963, p.21

Viet Nam Another Cuba?

By Richard Starnes

The Central Intelligence Agency's role in Viet Nam has been assailed as bureaucratic ineptitude seasoned with arrogance of a high order, and it has been just as warmly defended as selfless patriotism of the utmost puissance.

An insight as to which version is true may be gained by reference to the fully documented - and unchallenged - story of the part played by the CIA in Cuba just before Fidel Castro rose to power. The parallels to today's gathering disaster in Saigon are remarkable, and so is the cloudy, controversial part essayed by the CIA.

Six years ago the same sort of drama was being played out in Havana. Fulgencio Batista, a dictator much hated by the Cuban people, was being harried - and inexorably destroyed - by a tiny guerrilla force of almost comic-opera weakness. Batista's large, well-equipped army was intact. His secret police were savagely efficient. But knowledgeable Americans on the scene felt a growing disquiet. Batista had everything going for him except the support of the people.

These circumstances, of course, are dramatically duplicated in Viet Nam today. And the sharpest parallel may be found in the curious role of the CIA - then as now.

The United States ambassador to Cuba during the twilight of Batista's brutal role was Earl E. T. Smith, a financier and former Army officer. Here is what he has had to say about his relations with the CIA during the period that bears such remarkable resemblance to the present dismal involvement in Saigon:

"In September, 1957, I asked the chief of the CIA section attached to the embassy to review their figures on Communist party strength in Cuba - both as to card-bearing Communists and Communist sympathizers.

"I questioned our estimates because nine years earlier, when the Communists for the last time in Cuba voted as a party under the Communist label, they polled over 120,000 votes…Nevertheless, the embassy CIA estimates on Communist party strength in Cuba in 1957 indicated only 10,000 card-bearing Communists and approximately 20,000 Communist sympathizers.

"It is interesting to note that the CIA officer had a closed mind and demonstrated a resentment to my references to Fidel…as the 'outlaw' and the 'bandit leader' in the hills.

"These feelings of resentment were shown by a remark he made when he walked out of my office. After I had asked him to review the figures, I heard him say. 'We don't care what you think."

That CIA official was subsequently transferred (another parallel to Saigon, where the chief of the CIA mission has lately been removed) but there is room to doubt whether the transfer of one individual could check the CIA's wilful ways.

"In September, 1957, Smith testified before the Senate internal security subcommittee, "the (Cuban) navy had an uprising at Cienfuegos. We in the American embassy were familiar that a revolt of some sort would take place. That information came to us through the CIA or some other source in the embassy."

The revolt failed. And at the trial of the officers who had attempted it, "it was brought out (again quoting Ambassador Smith) "that the No. 2 (CIA) man had said that if the revolution were successful the United States would recognize the revolutionaries."

As soon as the ambassador learned of this attempt by the CIA to fabricate foreign policy, he "laid down the law that neither the ambassador nor anyone else could give any statement as to whom the United States would recognize; that there were only two people in the United States who had that authority; one was the Secretary of State and the other was the President."

Just how poorly informed the CIA remained as to the true nature of Castroism may be gleaned from the testimony before the internal security subcommittee, given nearly a year after Castro came to power by Gen. C.P. Cabell, then deputy director of the CIA. "We believe," Gen. Cabell testified, "that Castro is not a member of the Communist party and does not consider himself to be a Communist."

Here's an earlier, CIA-serving attempt, from the same (Scripps-Howard) newspaper group, to rewrite history. Note the passage highlighted. It's demonstrable rubbish:

The Washington Daily News, 1 May 1963, p.33

Who Knew About Castro?

By Lyle C. Wilson

The prevailing humiliation and confusion of the United States invites some smart politician to ask a sharp question and to press for a clear answer. The question would be:

“How did this fellow, Castro, grab Cuba in the first place?”

The question would not launch a witch hunt. Neither would it be asked in a maneuver to tag some witless State Department understrapper as a subversive character with communist tendencies. But it just might provide some valuable guidance for the future.

Enough is known of the State Department’s attitude toward Fidel Castro when his revolution was developing to assure that it was not communist subversion in the department that caused the United States to foster Castro’s take-over of Cuba on Jan. 1, 1959.

It appears to have been stupidity. The Senate Internal Security Sub-committee went thru the motions of investigating the State Department and the events within it that led up to the tragedy of Castro’s Cuban triumph.

Not much, if anything, came of that investigation, other than many thousands of words. No investigation was needed to establish that U.S. intelligence agencies had Castro’s number long before his triumphal entry into Havana. Years before that our agents knew that The Beard was in cahoots with the communists.

Intelligence reports on Castro’s communist sympathies were submitted in detail to the White House, to the State Department and to the Pentagon. Another question, therefore, arises: Did the President and top officials know of these intelligence reports or were the reports diverted or suppressed?

The answers to that doubletrack question would be interesting. If the reports were submitted and neither the President nor his top aides got them, who did get them? And why were they diverted from the top men. And, if so diverted, by whom?

Those are fair questions. They should have been asked and answered long since. But these questions seem not even to have been asked.

The word here in Washington is that intelligence reports on Castro’s communist affiliations were submitted regularly for the guidance of Administration policymakers. All of this, of course, was during the Eisenhower Administration.

The word is not so clear as to who actually received these reports. There is evidence, however, that these reports did not reach the top where the decision was made to encourage Castro and then to recognize him on his entry into Havana.

Taxpaying stockholders in the Government of the United States may not believe that such things can happen here. But they do happen. It is reasonable to believe that understrappers in Government cut off the Secretary of State, the President and perhaps the Secretary of Defense from information vital to them in judging Castro.

Somebody in Congress should have the gumption to get some simple understandable answers to all of the questions raised by the Castro goof.

If it happened the way it seems to have happened, the guy responsible probably still is in Washington somewhere with a desk, a title and a salary from the taxpayers – ready, willing and able to do it again. The guy is no communist. Just dumb.

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Well well well. All that time the CIA was supporting the Fidelistas Mr. George Bush

of the CIA had a mobile oil drilling platform 54 miles off the coast of Cuba. He could

run maintainence crews on and off that platform to the Florida mainland without

going thru US customs inspection.

Now this I like!

I knew you would... :D

By the by, I thought parts of Tarpley's Synthetic Terror: Made In USA (Progressive Press, 205) the best things I've read in years.

Paul

Here's a key point that I don't think Tarpley fully connected. From the Unauthorized Bush:

(quote on, emphasis added)

The raison d'être of the massive capability commanded by Theodore Shackley was

now Operation Mongoose, a program for sabotage raids and assassinations to be

conducted on Cuban territory, with a special effort to eliminate Fidel Castro personally.

In order to run these operations from US territory, flagrant and extensive violation of

federal and state laws was the order of the day. Documents regarding the incorporation

of businesses were falsified. Income tax returns were faked. FAA regulations were

violated by planes taking off for Cuba or for forward bases in the Bahamas and elsewhere.

Explosives moved across highways that were full of civilian traffic. The Munitions Act, the

Neutrality Act, the customs and immigrations laws were routinely flaunted. Above

all, the drug laws were massively violated as the gallant anti-communist fighters filled

their planes and boats with illegal narcotics to be smuggled back into the US when

they returned from their missions. By 1963, the drug-running activities of the covert

operatives were beginning to attract attention. JM/WAVE, in sum, accelerated the

slide of south Florida towards the status of drug and murder capital of the United States

it achieved during the 1980's, when it became as notorious as Chicago during Prohibition.

(quote off)

This is the most likely answer to the question: Why was Kennedy shot?

Harriman/Bush et al wanted to take advantage of the smuggling operations from

Havana, then to the drilling platforms, then to the mainland -- all nice and clean

and unobserved.

H.L. Hunt and the other Texan oil men were up to the same thing, I'd speculate.

Harriman wanted to woo Castro into the fold; Hunt wanted him assassinated

or overthrown.

If Oswald had been gunned down Friday afternoon, Harriman would have gone

along with the Castro-did-it scenario.

After Oswald was captured, Harriman/Bundy pulled a plug on the Castro-did-it

scenario to preserve relations with the Russians, and Cuba was "lost."

*******************************************************

"Harriman/Bush et al wanted to take advantage of the smuggling operations from Havana, then to the drilling platforms, then to the mainland -- all nice and clean and

unobserved."

Now, you're on to something. A conduit for cocaine and weed from S.A., and for China White coming in from S.E.A. via the conduit created by the Viet Nam War.

"H.L. Hunt and the other Texan oil men were up to the same thing, I'd speculate."

So, utilize Senator John Hull's plantation runway in Costa Rica, instead. Operation Watchtower is born.

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...

Prados' latest book is entitled Safe For Democracy: The Secret Wars of the CIA.

...

In the sixty years since the formation of the Central Intelligence Agency, presidents have continually harnessed the agency in service of their foreign policy goals. Three decades ago the "problem" of the CIA appeared to be the agency's status as a "rogue elephant"--unsupervised, tearing about the globe, acting at whim. By now it is evident that the agency and its cohorts were in fact responding to presidential orders. This seems to make it much more urgent to attempt to tell the story of exactly what the CIA has accomplished. What has the agency contributed toward the success of larger U.S. policy goals, and the global quest for democracy?

Perhaps the problem is more one of the "rogue" president than it is about an out-of-control Central Intelligence Agency....

....

[/indent].

In my opinion, Prados has written an important book. I do however, agree with one Amazon reviewer (although I would probably use the word unsatisfying rather than shallow) who wrote:

The secretive world of Covert Action makes a great subject. The problem is that the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) does not give authors such as John Prados access to many of the real secrets and they are left to sometimes write what they want to be true. Many of the Secret Wars of the CIA remain classified and Safe for Democracy is an instructive but shallow book.

http://www.amazon.com/Safe-Democracy-Secre...5689883-3398414

Isn't President Kennedy's war with the CIA, and their murder of him, a glaring and obvious exception to Prados' rule?

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The recent exchanges on this forum between Ashton Gray and Cliff Varnell involved, among other things, a fierce dispute concerning the coup plotters intentions toward Cuba. The former poured scorn on the proposition that Kennedy’s murder was organised as prelude to, and pretext for, a concerted US drive to oust Castro. I agree with him, and think the topic so important I offer the radically incomplete work-in-progress below. My hope is to provoke a full debate on the issue, one I believe is long overdue.

What follows is an early draft of a chapterlet in my preface to ‘Arrogant’ CIA: The Selected Journalism of Richard Starnes. A later, greatly expanded, version appears to have disappeared following my hard-drive’s recent encounter with a nifty little Trojan. (I stupidly failed to back up this & many other files.)

Tomorrow, I’ll append the Starnes article which gave rise to the chapterlet, so the reader can see what provoked it.

Cuban Smoke and the French Connection: why the CIA installed Fidel Castro

3 October –21 November 1963.

Between ‘Arrogant CIA’s’ publication on October 2 and the Agency coup in Saigon on November 1, Starnes twice more launched savage attacks on the organisation. America had been here before, insisted Starnes, and the lessons were plain. But the Castro precedent he instanced was a very different story from the fairy tale version propagated at the time by the New Left , and mainstream historians ever since. Starnes refused to forget an inconvenient fact: Castro was armed, financed, and propagandised for, and by, the CIA. And, not content with installing him in Havana, the Agency had then covered Castro’s back for sufficient time to permit the “revolution’s” turn to the left, the turn that sucked the Soviet Union in, and brought the Cold War to within ninety miles of America’s shores – the very object of the exercise for the CIA, and the nation’s military-industrial complex. It was the perfect rejoinder to Eisenhower’s “crusade” for détente.

Sections of the US elite had supported ostensibly “revolutionary” insurrections throughout the nineteenth century. Between 1840 and 1852, “American filibusterers, devoted to the slave system, aided Cuban risings against Spain. President Fillmore issued a proclamation forbidding the organization” of such “expeditions on American soil and ordered the civil, naval, and military authorities at the ports of New York and New Orleans to prevent” them from sailing. Kennedy was to face the same difficulty in 1962-63 with the support of Cuban exile raiders by, most notably, Henry Luce and his Time-Life empire.

The United States government later adopted the tactic officially, supporting or fomenting “revolutions” in Hawaii, Panama, and Nicaragua. On the eve of the First World War, the US, in a fight for Standard Oil to wrest control Mexican oil from Britain, the waning world hegemon, organised the Madero revolt against Diaz; and later backed Pancho Villa against Huerta. The propaganda campaign for Villa saw him lionised in Hollywood. The father of William F. Buckley, the CIA officer who founded the National Review, was involved in an attempt to overthrow the Mexican government – again, for reasons of petropolitik – in the late 1920s.

In the immediate post-war period, genuine Cuban leftists, mostly notably in the trade unions, were systematically murdered or driven into exile. The campaign was exposed at the time .In November 1946, Hoy, the then paper of the Cuban Confederation of Labour (CTC), ran a photostat of two letters, the second of which, from Francesco Aguire to the AFL’s man in Chile, Bernardo Ibanez, dealt with the splitting of Latin American trade unions and a planned campaign to assassinate “anti-Yankee” labour leaders. “Some of Cuba’s outstanding labour leaders were assassinated in that period and a plot to kill Lazaro Pena, the head of the CTC, was uncovered.” The result, in Cuba, as elsewhere, was to create opportunities for the production and insertion of simulacrums of genuine leftists. Into this breach stepped a Jesuit-educated Catholic rightist called Fidel Castro. In January 1948, a Communist leader of the sugar workers, Jesus Larrondo, was shot dead by an army captain in Manzanillo. Among the mourners at the ensuing funeral was, on cue, the enduringly unmolested Fidel.

A “hidden hand” recurs so frequently in Castro’s rise to power as to render mainstream accounts silly. In April 1948, Castro participated in a pseudo-Communist revolt in Colombia launched in ostensible response to the CIA-orchestrated assassination of the Liberal presidential candidate, Jorge Eliecer Gaitan. According to a conservative Colombian paper, Castro and the rest of the Cuban delegation were quietly evacuated from the country by the Cuban embassy.

Among the US Embassy staff in Bogota at the time was Roy Rubottom , who subsequently reappeared in the Sierra Maestra bringing succour to Castro in 1957. Rubottom was instrumental in organising a briefing for a newly arrived US Ambassador at the hands of Herbert Matthews, the leading, though by no means sole , propagandist for Castro in the pages of the New York Times. One veteran of Central American politics – and at least one CIA coup attempt, in 1954, opposed by the then US Ambassador – went so far as to describe Castro as a “fabrication” of the US press, which had “sold him to Latin America.” The Agency’s effective control of both right and left-wing Castro publicists is neatly conveyed by two figures, Hal Hendrix, and Jules Dubois. The latter was an asset , while the former gives every evidence of being a career intelligence officer.

Captured in the aftermath of the militarily stupid, but profile-raising coup attempt of July 1953, Castro was not executed on the spot because he fell into the hands of “a humane officer who ignored orders to summarily execute prisoners.” The same Batista regime that ordered the summary execution of the other prisoners then acted in character by “unexpectedly” releasing Castro into exile a mere fifteen months later.

In 1956, in response to pressure from Batista, and as prelude to deportation back to Cuba, the Mexican government ordered the arrest of Castro and his 26 July Movement. Again the “hidden hand” – the CIA’s – intervened to safeguard Castro. “Details of the deal between Castro’s group and the Mexicans remain unclear,” wrote one British obituarist of a former Mexican secret police chief, Fernando Gutierrez Barrios, who reportedly brokered the deal, but what is clear is that the seemingly unlikely friendship between the interrogator from the fanatically anti-Communist DFS – which in the 1970s ran a murderous anti-leftist death squad, the Brigada Blanca - and Castro, endured: “Guttierez visited Havana on many occasions, and when Casto attended the 1988 inauguration of President Carlos Salinas, he was personally attended by his former jailer. The two men even travelled to Tuxpan, in Veracruz, for a memorial ceremony at the spot where the revolutionaries embarked for Cuba.” The same obituarist, writing this time of Arturo Durazo, the DFS member who oversaw the investigation of Castro and his group, wrote vaguely of “political pressure” for the group’s release. That Carlos Prio, the multimillionaire ex-President of Cuba and acknowledged financier of the 26th July Movement, wrote an open letter to the Mexican President in support of Castro is not at issue . What is is the sufficiency of this source in securing Castro’s release.

With Castro and his motley band safely restored to Cuban soil in December 1956, CIA money soon flooded in. Between “October or November 1957 and the middle of 1958, the CIA delivered no less than fifty thousand dollars to a half-dozen or more key members of the 26th July Movement in Santiago.” The funds were “handled by Robert D. Wiecha, a CIA case officer …who served in Santiago from September 1957 to June 1959.” In mid-October 1958, a senior figure within the 26th July Movement wrote to Castro detailing the extent of the CIA support in the US Embassy in Havana, and quality of the information that support gave: “I have been in contact with people close to the embassy. These contacts have told me that people who are on our side – but who do not appear to – have had conversations with the ambassador himself. I think this is the best possible, since we are kept up-to-date about everything happening there and of all the possible U.S. plans…” New York Times reporter Tad Szulc knew of this support in 1959, but disclosed it only in 1986. In the aftermath of the Bay of Pigs, the CIA undertook a limited hang-out, conceding to a few, favoured mouthpieces that, yes, there had been some limited supply of arms in this period, but from an “ex-“CIA man, Sam Cummings, whose Interarmco was a private venture. Cummings had reportedly supplied the arms used by the Agency’s Guatemalan proxies to overthrow the Arbenz government in 1954.

In his testimony before a Senate Sub-committee on 30 August 1960, Earl T. Smith, the US Ambassador to Cuba from June 1957 to January 1959, complained of precisely this overt, and unbending CIA support within the Embassy for Castro. He drew this conclusion from his bitter experience at the hands of the Agency: “There is no advantage to the United States in sending an Ambassador to a country if the CIA representatives there act on their own and take an opposite position.” Among Ambassador Smith’s guests at the Embassy’s December 1957 Christmas party was a Senator from Massachusetts, whom Smith introduced as the man “who may very well be our next President.”

Castro has long been fond of boasting of the number of coup and assassination attempts he has allegedly survived. Almost as fond, indeed, as the CIA has been in confessing its many failures. On the 46th anniversary of his coming to power, readers of one British broadsheet were solemnly informed that the “Cuban Ministry of the Interior has investigated 637 assassination attempts.” And yet the same leader has always been renowned as one of the most accessible rulers in the world, and thus “an easy target for assassination. Yet,” mystifyingly, “no public attempt was ever made against him anywhere.”

The CIA had a variety of purposes in mind for revolutionary Cuba. A key intention was to use Cuba as the launch pad and pretext for a series of “revolutionary” movements throughout Latin America that would in turn “compel” CIA intervention in the unfortunate countries concerned. The Caribbean, Central and Latin America would thus be remade in the desired US image, the region’s reformist and nationalist governments alike destroyed in favour of murderous militarised oligarchies and US finance. Castro’s government was to arrest previously supportive CIA men engaged in precisely such activity – in this early instance, against the government of Nicaragua – no later than April 1959. Sihanouk offered a typically shrewd Asian encapsulation: “All the efforts of the CIA were aimed at implanting an armed political opposition inside the country so that we would have to beg for American arms to keep order…”

The Bay of Pigs operation was at once a self-sabotaged trap and a smokescreen: the real CIA action in late April 1961 was against De Gaulle. Even elements of the wretchedly timid and censored British press were stirred to a muted observation or two.

CIA operations in Europe encountered opposition from Kennedy-appointed Ambassadors. In the summer of 1962, the left-wing Greek nationalist, Andreas Papandreou flew to Washington to protest at the Agency’s role in, among other dark adventures, fixing the October 1961 election. The President was in Florida, so Papandreou had to make do with Carl Kaysen. The protest, in conjunction with the findings of Henry Labouisse, appointed by Kennedy to the Athens ambassadorship earlier that year, resulted in the replacement of the CIA station chief, Laughlin Campbell, in August 1962. Somewhat ironically, Campbell was transferred to Paris.

Well, I'm open to the idea that Castro may have originally been a CIA puppet; he's supposedly survived too much. He's the roadrunner to the CIA's Willey Coyote. For example, I get more convinced every day that the Bay of Pigs was a trap for Kennedy--to discredit him, and to manipulate the Cubans into hating him and do the wet work on Nov 22, '63.

But, when did the supposed Castro/CIA alliance dissolve, if it ever did?

And why would Cuba be allowed to starve and crumble for decades if Castro was really the CIA's boy?

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Hugo Chavez now fulfils the role of ostensible regional bogeyman, and US plots against him will almost certainly fail precisely as the elaborate paper exercises did in the case of Castro. The dirty secret in contemporary Venezuela's case is that Chavez is working for the economic integration of the region, an integration long earnestly desired by big capital in Washington and New York, but unachievable under overt US command. Hence Chavez's survival. The Guardian recently ran an unusually good piece arguing just this.

...

Ok, hold the phone. You claim that Hugo Chavez, the man who stood on the floor of the UN and told America that the CIA was behind 911, is a CIA puppet?

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I thought that at some point someone in this discussion of an alleged motive for the murder of John F. Kennedy being to provide an uninspected, unquestioned knee-jerk excuse for an all-out flags-and-flourishes spit-and-polish over-the-ramparts Congress-be-hanged military invasion of Cuba, someone might mention, as a reality check, the fact that Lisa Howard's interview with Castro—in which Castro had said he was amenable to rapproachment "if the United States government wishes it"—had aired on ABC months earlier, on 10 May 1963.

Since no one else has mentioned it, and I believe it warrants mentioning, I have.

Ashton

Edited by Ashton Gray
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I thought that at some point someone in this discussion of an alleged motive for the murder of John F. Kennedy being to provide an uninspected, unquestioned knee-jerk excuse for an all-out flags-and-flourishes spit-and-polish over-the-ramparts Congress-be-hanged military invasion of Cuba,

Reality check: The Gulf of Tonkin Incident occured on August 2 and 4, 1964. The Senate

passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution on August 7, 1964.

I know they taught you in civics that only Congress can "declare war," Ashton,

but you might notice that it doesn't seem to work that way in the real world.

someone might mention, as a reality check, the fact that Lisa Howard's interview with Castro—in which Castro had said he was amenable to rapproachment "if the United States government wishes it"—had aired on ABC months earlier, on 10 May 1963.
Reality check: who was calling the shots in American foreign policy in 1963?

A guy named W. Averell Harriman. You've heard of him.

The Harrimans and Bushes were thick as thieves. Harriman money was well invested

in George Bush's Zapata Offshore oil exploration company

Harriman may have been aware, I'd speculate, that a whole lot of stuff was being

smuggled on and off Zapata's mobile oil drilling rig (the Scorpion) 57 miles off the

coast of Cuba in the Florida Straights because maintenance runs from the platform

to Florida, about 65 miles away, were not subject to a customs check.

This is pure speculation on my part, but I find it reasonable to conclude that the guys

who financed the Nazi war machine (Harriman/Bush) would not hesitate to help fuel a

heroin epidemic in the urban US in the 50's.

In the interest of intellectual honesty, I cannot condemn the amount of marijuna

they smuggled into our country, but the heroin, yes.

I also find it a reasonable speculation that if these guys were doing it, others

in the oil industry were doing it, as well.

From George Bush: The Unauthorized Biography --- by Webster G. Tarpley & Anton Chaitkin

http://www.tarpley.net/bush8.htm

As for the SCORPION, during part of 1957 it was under contract to the Bahama-California Oil Company, drilling between Florida and Cuba. It was then leased by Gulf Oil and Standard Oil of California, on whose behalf it started drilling during 1958 at a position on the Cay Sal Bank, 131 miles south of Miami, Florida, and just 54 miles north of Isabela, Cuba. Cuba was an interesting place just then; the US-backed insurgency of Fidel Castro was rapidly undermining the older US-imposed regime of Fulgencio Batista. That meant that SCORPIO was located at a hot corner.

During 1957 a certain divergence began to appear between Uncle Herbie Walker, Bush, and the "New York guys" on the one hand, and the Liedtke brothers and their Tulsa backers on the other. As the annual report for that year noted, "There is no doubt that the drilling business in the Gulf of Mexico has become far more competitive in the last six months than it has been at any time in the past." Despite that, Bush, Walker and the New York investors wanted to push forward into the offshore drilling and drilling services business, while the Liedtkes and the Tulsa group wanted to concentrate on acquiring oil in the ground and natural gas deposits.

The 1958 annual report notes that with no major discoveries made, 1958 had been "a difficult year." It was, of course, the year of the brutal Eisenhower recession. SCOPRPION, VINEGAROON, and NOLA I, the offshore company's three drilling rigs, could not be kept fully occupied in the Gulf of Mexico during the whole year, and so Zapata Offshore had lost $524,441, more than Zapata Petroleum's own loss of $427,752 for that year. The Liedtke viewpoint was reflected in the notation that "disposing of the offshore business had been considered." The great tycoon Bush conceded in the Zapata Offshore annual report for 1958: "We erroneously predicted that most major [oil] companies would have active drilling programs for 1958. These drilling programs simply did not materialize..." In 1990 Bush denied for months that there was a recession, and through 1991 claimed that the recession had ended when it had long since turned into a depression. His blindness about economic conjunctures would appear to be nothing new.

By 1959, there were reports of increasing personal tensions between the domineering and abrasive J. Hugh Liedtke on the one hand and Bush's Uncle Herbie Walker on the other. Liedtke was obsessed with his plan for creating a new major oil company, the boundless ambition that would propel him down a path littered with asset-stripped corporations into the devastating Pennzoil-Getty-Texaco wars of a quarter century later. During the course of this year, the two groups of investors arrived at a separation that was billed as "amicable," and which in any case never interrupted the close cooperation among Bush and the Liedtke brothers. The solution was that the ever-present Uncle Herbie would buy out the Liedtke-Tulsa 40% stake in Zapata Offshore, while the Liedtke backers would buy out the Bush-Walker interest in Zapata Petroleum.

For this to be accomplished, George Bush would require yet another large infusion of capital. Uncle Herbie now raised yet another tranche for George, this time over $800,000. The money allegedly came from Bush-Walker friends and relatives. [fn 18] Even if the faithful efforts of Uncle Herbie are taken into account, it is still puzzling to see a series of large infusions of cash into a poorly managed small company that had posted a series of substantial losses and whose future prospects were anything but rosy. At this point it is therefore legitimate to pose the question: was Zapata Offshore an intelligence community front at its foundation in 1954, or did it become one in 1959, or perhaps at some later point? This question cannot be answered with finality.

In 1963, I'll argue, Harriman and his business partner Prescott Bush thought they

could cut more exclusive smuggling deals with Castro using Zapata Offshore platforms

for the Cuba-to-Florida smuggling funnel Castro, chafing under the Soviets, was eager

to negotiate.

The Texas boys called bullxxxx, to put it simply, and killed JFK in a last ditch bid to win

a open-smuggling-friendly Cuban government by blaming Castro and invading the island.

Castro could never trust the Americans again.

I'd speculate that George Bush, eager to get into Texas politics, sided with HL Hunt et al,

against the wishes of his father -- ironically echoed decades later by Dubya going against

GHWB's wishes on Iraq.

Since no one else has mentioned it, and I believe it warrants mentioning, I have.

Ashton

Thank you, Ashton.

Edited by Cliff Varnell
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