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Swan Island Radio Station


Jim Root
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Does anyone have detailed infromation about the Swan Island Radio Station used around the time of the Bay of Pigs?

In particular, this station was a classified operation until when? When did knowledge of the Swan Island Station first become public? Who had knowledge or oversight, of the Swan Island Station in May of 1961?

May have an interesting document. Thanks for your help,

Jim Root

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Does anyone have detailed infromation about the Swan Island Radio Station used around the time of the Bay of Pigs?

In particular, this station was a classified operation until when? When did knowledge of the Swan Island Station first become public? Who had knowledge or oversight, of the Swan Island Station in May of 1961?

May have an interesting document. Thanks for your help,

Jim Root

Jim,

For the answers you seek, you may wish to track down Luis Fernandez Rocha. He was an Agency asset (AMHINT-53) and was one of the DRE leaders. He also worked for Radio Swan.

Fernandez Rocha is now the General Manager of Univision Station WLTV-Miami.

FWIW.

James

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Does anyone have detailed infromation about the Swan Island Radio Station used around the time of the Bay of Pigs?

In particular, this station was a classified operation until when? When did knowledge of the Swan Island Station first become public? Who had knowledge or oversight, of the Swan Island Station in May of 1961?

May have an interesting document. Thanks for your help,

Jim Root

Jim, You should consult David Atlee Phillips' autobio Nightwatch, in which he details how it was set up on the guano (bird droppings) island (ala Dr. No), operated by CIA personell and once invaded by some Cuban students who were put off with beer and a party.

BK

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On May 18,1961 Maxwell Taylor was presented with an "Eyes Only Secret" document called "Brief History of Radio Swan." As I understand it this report remained classified for over 30 years.

Here is a copy:

ANNEX 2

EYES ONLY

SECRET

Brief History of Radio Swan

1. On 17 March 1960, President Eisenhower approved a covert action program to bring about the replacement of the Castro regime. Within the propaganda framework of that program, an important objective was to create and utilize a high-powered medium and short wave radio station. CIA was asked to provide such a station, outside the continental limits of the United States, and have it ready for operation within sixty (60) days.

2. Swan Island, in the Caribbean, was chosen as an appropriate site. The United States Navy furnished CIA with splended support: within sixty days, equipment had been brought from [intentional blank] a landing strip was cleared on the island, and the station was able to go on air on 17 May of the same year, precisely on schedule.

3. Originally it was planned that Radio Swan would be a clandestine station [intentional blank] Just prior to inauguration, however, it was decided the station should be a commercial one. This was at the request of the Navy, which reasonably argued that should their participation in construction of a black facility be known, explanations would be difficult.

4. Using a "commercial" station for the tactical and strategic tasks envisaged for Radio Swan is not, of course, the most desirable way to support a covert operation. The only pracitical method of operation is to "sell space". Thus, program time on Radio Swan was gold to various Cuban groups. These included organizations of workers, students, women, two publications in exile, two radio stations in exile, and several political groups. [intentional blank] Programs (on tape) were produced in [intentional blank] and later, on Swan Island.

5. Radio Swan effectively reached not only its target area of Cuba, but the entire Caribbean as well. Soon after broadcasts began Castro started jamming, but was sucessful in hindering reception only in the City of Havana. Scores of letters were received from all parts of Cuba to show that the station had listeners. As late as March 1961, a survey was made to determine the extent of listening coverage. An inexpensive ballpoint pen was offered to those listeners who would write in to the station. The reply was immediate: almost 3,000 letters from 26 countries. This barrage of mail included significant amounts from all parts of Cuba.

6. As Radio Swan progressed, it became the symbol of the anti-Castro effort within Cuba and of opposition to Castro throughout the hemisphere. Toward the end of 1960, the effectiveness of Radio Swan began to diminish. Although great numbers of Cubans still listened to the station, its credibility and reputation began to suffer as the result of statements representing the selfish interests of the Cuban groups producing the various programs. In the first place, these groups talked overmuch about their activities in Miami and the hard fight they were conducting along Biscayne Boulevard. Naturally, the Cubans who were suffering under the Castro dictatorship within Cuba resented this. Secondly, the Cuban programs became a fulcrum where individual political ambitions of Cuban exiles in Miami were presented to the other Cubans in Miami, forgetting the all-important target audience within Cuba. Finally, each program fought with the other for "scoops". As time passed and the Cubans found that their sources of information were no better than the next fellow's, the program producers began to exaggerate in order to give their broadcasts a touch of sensationalism. They made statements which were obvious lies to listeners. An example: One of their announcers stated that there were 3,000 Russians in a park in Santiago de Cuba -- the residents had only to walk to the park to see that this was untrue. Moreover, the various programs began to defy coordination. All programs but one told the Cuban militiaman that he would be a hero on the day that he defected from Castro. The sole exception told the Cuban militiaman that he would be hanged regardless of what he did. [intentional blank] This action falied to achieve proper control.

7. As this unfortunate situation developed, the military operation was about to be launched. It was obvious that CIA could not allow uncoordinated programming to continue while the station attempted to provide tactical support to military forces. On the 27th of March 1961 each program producer received a letter from the management of Radio Swan informing him of the termination of his program. Broadcasting was not suspended. Rather, it was immediately repalced with a new, overall programming schedule--more broadcasting hours than before [intentional blank] Thus Radio Swan was converted into a station which provided the Cuban people with straight news as well as a program which stated its only function was to assist those who were fighting Castro within Cuba. This was the beginning of an intensified propaganda campaign directed against Castro. Within a few days after the change, Radio Mambi, a Cuban government station, said to its listeners, "the hysterical parrots of Radio Swan have recently raised their voices scandalously." On the day following these declarations by Radio Mambi, President Osvaldo Dorticos declared in a speech over another radio station, "Cubans must be alert for lies and attempts to destroy the revolution through psychological warfare." A Cuban newspaper, at the same time, repeated Dorticos' statement: "Our enemies are intensifying psychological warfare to find weak points in our domestic front."

8. During the military action in Cuba, Radio Swan was used in tactical support of the strike force [intentional blank] Radio Swan was monitored by hemisphere radio stations and by world news services, and was an important factor in presenting the desired picture of the fighting in Cuba to world opinion. Despite some press allegations, Radio Swan was not responsible for the wild rumors during those hectic days. [intentional blank]

9. When it became obvious that the main attack on Cuba had been unsuccessful, Radio Swan deliberately anticipated Castro's victory [illegible] by admitting that the Cuban Expeditionary Force had been stopped by Communist armament, but that many of the Freedom Fighters had been able to join resistence groups in the hills. Radio Swan then returned to a calm presentation of world news and over a period of one week changed from round-the-clock broadcasting to a normal schedule, avoiding all program content designed to incite the Cuban people. The producer of the consolidated program was instructed to present programs with a minimum of [illegible] content, but to continue the anti-Castro orientation through the selection of news items. At the present time present time, Radio Swan is broadcasting simultaneously over medium and short wave daily from 0500 to 0600, from 1230 to 1400, and from 1800 to 0015 (E.S.T.). The broadcasts are made up of hourly news, [intentional blank] and other commercial programs including the relay of [intentional blank] Neither during nor after the strike phase has there been any [illegible] of Radio Swan from any country other than Cuba and the United States.

James, fromyour comments it seems that the DRE was involved in this operation.

It seems that Edwin Walker was aware of this information before June 7, 1961 and was using it to avoid being censored by the Kennedy Administration. I wonder how he got it?

Thoughts?

Jim Root

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Good stuff, Jim.

I can't say that the DRE had any official involvement, even though one of their guys did. The Agency dropped Fernandez Rocha in 1964 so I guess he had a few strings to his bow.

Walker knew Dennis Harber who in turn was connected to many of the Cuban exiles sponsored by the Agency. I don't think the internal security amongst the various Cuban groups was all that good.

James

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James

What are your initial thoughts on this telegram that I have found?

Frank de Ganahl

39 Broadway - Room 403

STRAIGHT TELEGRAM June 7, 1961

Senator Barry Goldwather

Senate Office Building

Washington, D. C.

Hope you are doing all possible insure General Walker receiving fully deserved clean bill of health. Believe findings now there for President’s decision stop. Suggest you talk to Senator Eastland and reinforce him all you can on his investigation, CIA’s financial connections Overseas Weekly and associated periodicals and Swan Island radio stop. Am convinced there are very strong forces in Washington will crucify Walker regardless of findings from his superiors in Germany clearing him. Regards.

Frank de Ganahl

Bold and underlining my addition.

Jim Root

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What are your initial thoughts on this telegram that I have found? (Jim Root)

Jim,

Very interesting given that it was composed by Frank de Ganahl. I don't have a lot on him but do have some loose connections to mining ventures in Canada. There is also an association of sorts with Ben Moreel (commander of the Seabees) and who was once the Board Chairman of Jones and McLaughlin Steel Corporation.

He was also Chairman of the Americans for Constitutional Action. John Tower and George H.W. Bush being recipients of their award in the mid 1960's.

De Ganahl obviously had friends in high places which makes me wonder why information on him is so limited. The possibility exists that he was connected to Ulius Amos and to certain folk at JM/WAVE via the person he sent the telegram to, Barry Goldwater.

As to Swan Island Radio, in October of 1960, newspapers began reporting its existence as a source of anti-Castro propaganda into Cuba.

James

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James

I believe de Ganahl is Walker's cousin. It is the hand written message to "Ted" signed "Love Frank" at the bottom of the copy of this telegram that is even more intersting.

While a great deal of information about the "commercial" station on Swan Island was available and that it was anti-Castro in content was well know the extent of its set up and control by the CIA does not seem to have been that well know. Hence the special secret report for Taylor. Once again the part about Overseas Weekly also being characterized as a CIA funded publication is to me even more significant.

Jim Root

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James

I believe de Ganahl is Walker's cousin. It is the hand written message to "Ted" signed "Love Frank" at the bottom of the copy of this telegram that is even more intersting.

While a great deal of information about the "commercial" station on Swan Island was available and that it was anti-Castro in content was well know the extent of its set up and control by the CIA does not seem to have been that well know. Hence the special secret report for Taylor. Once again the part about Overseas Weekly also being characterized as a CIA funded publication is to me even more significant.

Jim Root

Jim,

At the time of the Walker story, 'Overseas Weekly' was edited by John Dornberg who post assassination would become a 'Newsweek' correspondent in Moscow. He was expelled in 1970.

Major shareholders in the company that owned OW (International Media Company) were Marion Rospach, Harold Melahn and Anthony Biacone. Melahn and Biacone were both WW2 veterans with alleged connections to the OSS.

FWIW.

James

Edited by James Richards
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http://www.iralatour.com/writings.cfm?action=show&id=9

"On the way back to Spain through Frankfurt in the summer of 1958, Marion von Rosbach, founder of the International Media Company, GmbH, Frankfurt/New York, suggested we establish a film production company. Marion’s entrepreneur-ship created IMC. And IMC had launched many types of businesses in Europe. It had made Marion von Rosbach the richest American businesswoman abroad. Spend a year studying the film and TV markets, she said, then resign. We will bring you over.

I had received both tenure and a promotion at San Francisco State, and had founded a little production company, Pennebaker and Latour Films. We had already won a few festival awards. Colleagues thought me crazy to give up a tenured position. But I wanted to return to Europe, and I wanted to make film, and perhaps marry Señorita Mari Quiros. Hugh and Betty Pennebaker would be brought over later.

But first, I was to set up Media Film in Darmstadt on the second floor of Media Labor, the IMC film processing laboratory, the third largest in Europe. And I was to act as a troubleshooter for a series of IMC problems.

One evening, I had dinner at a Frankfurt restaurant with Marion von Rosbach just to discuss the Gaudi film. As we were eating, five or six of her reporters from the nearby offices of the Overseas Weekly came in and joined us at the table. It was an urgent matter! Gaudi was set aside and forgotten.

For some three months the reporters had been investigating the unusual and bizarre behavior of Major General Edwin A. Walker, Commander of the Twenty-Fourth Infantry Division. Walker appeared to be indoctrinating his troops with decidedly right wing propaganda. He had officers with cameras hiding on barracks rooftops secretly photographing the men as they went about their day. They finally concluded, after reviewing and comparing all of their reports, that Walker was a member of the John Birch Society, and a little bit paranoid. Should we print it? they asked. Marion gave the word, Let’s go for it!

All hell broke loose with the American military, and later with Congress.

Walker was admonished, relieved of his command, and ordered to undergo psychiatric examination. He resigned from the Military. As Walker returned home, the major news magazines featured him on their covers - Thunder on the Right! they proclaimed. Our next President! The story became one of the ten biggest of 1961.

Congress called Marion and her reporters to testify. The CIA and FBI presented detailed information on each reporter’s political history. Walker’s own testimony to Congress was so incoherent that his star faded quickly. In 1962, during the race riots in Oxford, Mississippi, Walker was arrested for inciting or engaging in an insurrection against the United States. Four Federal charges were lodged against him.

Then one night in April 1963, as Walker sat in his home in Texas, a shot was fired at him through his window. It missed! I have often wondered, if Lee Harvey Oswald’s shot had hit Walker, would he have gone on to shoot President Kennedy? And what if we had just kept talking about Gaudi that evening and Marion had not decided to expose Walker in the first place?"

other possible items of interest:

http://www.mdah.state.ms.us/arlib/contents...11|1|1|1|71874|

http://www.mdah.state.ms.us/arlib/contents...24|1|1|1|56129|

http://www.mdah.state.ms.us/arlib/contents...6|1|1|1|24939|A

Edited by John Dolva
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Thanks, John.

That third attachment you posted was most interesting.

Not wanting to derail Jim's thread, but the author of that letter, Milton M. Lory is a curious individual indeed. One time editor of the Texas Oil Ledger and Staff Correspondent of the Shreveport Times. Lory was also allegedly well known to David Atlee Phillips.

James

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Iames , from the link above, a William Kurtz:

"And we were to establish press representation, accreditation, and distribution among U.S. Navy and Air Force bases in Spain for IMC’s three newspapers, Overseas Weekly, Overseas Traveller, and Overseas Family. I became a member of the Prensa Extranjera, the Foreign Press Corps, and the International Press Club in Madrid.

And we were to represent IMC’s advertising agency, Media Werbung, the sister organization to Media Film and the source of a lot of its work. And, in the spirit of IMC, we were to search out new opportunities. It was an extraordinarily adventuresome mission!

We had help in all of this from a young Airman, William Kurtz, the historian at the Information Office of the U.S. Air Force Headquarters at Torrejon just outside Madrid. Bill, who seemed to be in contact with everything going on in Spain, was looking for a way to remain after his upcoming discharge. Together, we made many friends within-and-without the Spanish government, and from the far left to the far right amongst the good citizens of Madrid, mostly right, and the good citizens of Barcelona, mostly left."

Do you have anything on this erson?

Edited by John Dolva
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John,

Regarding Kurtz, he supposedly joined the FBI.

Before 9/11, an FBI man named Kenneth Williams alerted Washington that Bin Laden followers were training at an Arizona flight school. His supervisor in Phoenix was William Kurtz. I don't know if this is the same guy and having some trouble securing details.

James

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John,

Regarding Kurtz, he supposedly joined the FBI.

Before 9/11, an FBI man named Kenneth Williams alerted Washington that Bin Laden followers were training at an Arizona flight school. His supervisor in Phoenix was William Kurtz. I don't know if this is the same guy and having some trouble securing details.

James

James, the "Phoenix Memo" provides one good candidate. There is also an account of a William Kurtz in the air force in the USofA describing 11/22 expecting to be at war at any moment.

This Madrid Kurtz seems like a person who whould have a history. The difficulty of finding one is IMO interesting. Particularly when considering the Spanish historical interest in Cuba.

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