Wednesday, 22 September 2021 04:21

Into the Storm, by John Newman

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Jim DiEugenio reviews John Newman’s latest volume on the JFK case, Into the Storm, finding it a bit uneven, but very well done in its analysis of how the CIA switched back their plots to kill Castro onto the Kennedy White House and how the military under Lemnitzer and Lansdale was proposing false flag operations to justify a war with Cuba.


John Newman has finished his third volume on the JFK case. This entry is called Into the Storm. As readers of this site will know, I have already reviewed the first two volumes in the unprecedented series. (Click here for the first review and click here for the second)

In foreign policy, the third volume focuses on the year 1962, up until the Missile Crisis. These events include the initiation of Operation Mongoose in Florida, the submission of the Northwoods provocation plans to Kennedy, the removal of Lyman Lemnitzer as Joint Chiefs chairman, and the assumption of that position by General Maxwell Taylor. These are all important developments. And one can argue that they may have had an impact of what happened to Kennedy in Dallas, but surprisingly the major part of the writing about them comes near the end of the book. And the weight of that description and analysis is outdone by the subjects the author deals with previously. For me, it made for an uneven and, in some ways, puzzling result.

Prior to getting to those rather salient points, the author deals with four major topics at length. These are the activist group CORE and their Freedom Ride demonstrations in the south; the KGB/CIA spy wars over men like Pyotr Popov, Oleg Penkovsky, and Yuri Nosenko; the intelligence career of Cuban exile Antonio Veciana; and, finally, the false accusations of Agency officer Sam Halpern implicating the Kennedys in the CIA/Mafia plots against Fidel Castro.

I

Newman includes two chapters on the outburst of the race issue under the Kennedy administration. These amount to about 55 pages of text in a 400 page book. The vast majority of those pages deal with two topics: Martin Luther King’s arrest in Atlanta during the 1960 election and the Freedom Rides and the accompanying violence they incurred in 1961. This material has been dealt with many times in the past by several different authors. Newman maintains that they are integral to any story about Kennedy’s demise, since JFK would not have been president if not for the Kennedy brothers’ role in releasing Martin Luther King from a Georgia prison before the election. (p. 15)

This may or may not be true. There have been several interpretations about how Kennedy won his narrow popular victory in 1960, which was wider in the Electoral College. This includes Robert Caro’s explanation of Lyndon’s Jonson’s campaigning in the south. But even if one were to grant the author his premise, I don’t see how that necessitates including them in a book that is subtitled “The Assassination of President Kennedy.” If, at the end of his series, Newman convincingly shows us how this racial strife somehow impacted Kennedy’s murder, I will be glad to make amends and thank him for his insight.

In Chapter 2, the author brings up what I think is a more relevant subject, which he does not deal with at the length he does his four main fields of interest. This is the undeclared war of the Wall Street Journal—and all that powerful publication represented—against the introduction of Kennedy’s policy plans, both foreign and domestic. As Newman notes, that newspaper viciously attacked Kennedy right out of the gate, on both his domestic spending plans and level of foreign aid. (p. 39) One reason for this is because Kennedy’s policies posed a juxtaposition with President Eisenhower’s. But secondly, Kennedy had always been concerned about levels of joblessness and the length of unemployment benefits to those who could not find work. He was worried about the cumulative impact of structural unemployment on the economy.

The author briefly deals with the rather controversial appointment of Douglas Dillon as Secretary of Treasury. (p. 43) Many liberals wondered about this, since Dillon had been a mainstay of Eisenhower and worked at three different positions in his administration. Newman then comments on Kennedy’s counterbalancing of the conservative Dillon with the liberal Keynesian Walter Heller at the Council of Economic Advisors (CEA). There can be little doubt that Heller’s ideas worked. The performance of the American economy was remarkable under JFK: in three years Kennedy doubled economic growth and increased GNP by 20 per cent. (See for example, John F. Kennedy: The Promise Revisited, by Paul Harper and Joann Krieg, pp. 169–224; Irving Bernstein, Promises Kept, pp. 118–217)

The author also counteracts the accepted CW that Kennedy was unsuccessful at getting his proposals through congress. By late 1961, Kennedy had gotten 35 of his 55 bills passed. (p. 47) He declares that Kennedy had clearly sided with Heller and the CEA and his goals were to keep interest rates and mortgage rates low. (pp. 50–51). None of this success calmed down the attacks by the Wall Street Journal, especially when, recalling Franklin Roosevelt, Kennedy began to implement economic programs as a way of dealing with social problems. This meant things like placement services to find jobs for those seeking work and extending unemployment benefits from 26 to 39 weeks.

In summing up Kennedy’s economic achievement, Newman writes that prices remained stable in a way they had not under Eisenhower, while wholesale industrial prices actually declined. Both happened under a rapidly expanding economy. (p. 59) My one complaint about this section of the book is that there was no mention of the rather important figure of James Saxon, Kennedy’s Comptroller of the Currency. It seems clear to me that Kennedy was relying on both Saxon and Heller to effectively counter the innate conservatism of both the Federal Reserve and Dillon. In my online discussions with British researcher Malcolm Blunt, he seemed to agree with me. (Click here for details)

II

One of Newman’s preoccupations, both in this book and in his public appearances, has been his disagreement with the late Cuban exile Antonio Veciana. To anyone who knows anything about the JFK case, I should not have to remind them that Veciana was first interviewed by Church Committee investigator Gaeton Fonzi. At that time, Gaeton was working under the Church Committee’s Senator Richard Schweiker. Fonzi was then transferred over to the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) by attorney Robert Tanenbaum. Senator Schweiker showed Tanenbaum some of what Fonzi had accomplished under his stewardship and the New York prosecutor was favorably impressed. (Fonzi, p. 431) Gaeton decided to stay on the HSCA even after both Tanenbaum and the first Chief Counsel, Richard Sprague, had left.

There, partnered with another Tanenbaum hire—New York detective Al Gonzalez—the two pursued various leads out of Miami, Dallas, and New Orleans. These are vividly captured in Fonzi’s fine book on the case, The Last Investigation. In that volume, Gaeton described his first meeting with Veciana and then his following relationship with the man all the way through the closing of the HSCA. Fonzi details the difference in his belief in Veciana and the committee’s disagreement with that belief. This includes Veciana being shot at—four times—after the appearance of the HSCA Final Report. (Fonzi, pp. 392–93)

In that book, Fonzi meets up with Veciana as he is being released from prison on what the Cuban believed was a trumped-up drug charge. (Fonzi, pp. 123–24) Veciana had a degree in accounting from the University of Havana. He was good at what he did and ended up working closely with Julio Lobo. Lobo was a millionaire known as the Cuban Sugar King prior to the Castro revolution. Since Veciana became one of the most militant of the exile leaders and was associated with Alpha 66, Fonzi asked him who he was tied in with as part of the American government. This turned out to be a man named Maurice Bishop. At one of their meetings, he said that he had seen Lee Oswald with Bishop in Dallas around the beginning of September, 1963. (Fonzi, pp. 125–26). This became the famous Southland Building meeting, where Veciana had arrived a bit early and had seen Bishop chatting with Oswald. When Veciana approached, Bishop disposed of Oswald rather quickly. Fonzi had a police artist sketch a picture of Bishop along the lines of the description that Veciana had given. Veciana and Fonzi spent hours working on the sketch with the illustrator. When this was later shown to Schweiker, he said it looked to him like CIA officer David Phillips. (Fonzi, p. 158) Later, when Gaeton showed the sketch to a brother of David Phillips, he exclaimed “Why, that is amazing! That certainly does look like David!” His office secretary said the same. Then his daughter, David Phillips’ niece, said “What that’s Uncle David!”(Fonzi, p. 315)

Gaeton then decided to search for sources who had been in the Agency who could confirm that Phillips had used the alias of Bishop on occasion. He ended up finding three such sources. (Fonzi, pp. 308, 364) Former CIA Director John McCone told the HSCA that he did recall a Maurice Bishop who worked for the Agency. (Fonzi, p. 434. The CIA later made McCone walk back the statement.)

It should be noted: throughout The Last Investigation, Veciana never flatly states that Bishop is Phillips. In fact, there are instances where he denied it. (Fonzi, p. 251) This included a face to face meeting between the two. (Which, as Fonzi notes, Phillips lied about. See p. 276) At the end of the book, Veciana admits that, if it was Phillips, he could not admit it without Phillips’ approving it. (Fonzi, p. 396)

Gaeton’s widow, Marie Fonzi, wrote to Veciana after her husband’s death in 2012. She was preparing a new version of The Last Investigation. Marie asked permission from Antonio to quote him about Gaeton’s honesty and dedication in pursuit of truth. He agreed to do so. At this time, Veciana was working as an accountant for his son’s marine supply store in Miami.

The next year, 2013, Marie asked Antonio to identify Bishop. She did not mention Phillips in that request. Veciana’s son typed the letter to her finally saying that Phillips was Bishop. His son asked Veciana if he was sure about what he was doing. Antonio said it was time. Marie alerted journalist Jerry Policoff to this fact and he wrote an online piece, which was picked up by other JFK sites; but got little if any MSM exposure. The following year, Veciana showed up at the 2014 AARC seminar and discussed what he wrote in public. (Email exchange with Marie Fonzi, 9/16/2021)

There is more I could write about Fonzi’s work on Veciana. For instance about the personal profile he assembled about Bishop (pp. 155–56) and Bishop’s ultimate pay off to Veciana as witnessed by his wife. (p. 150) But I would just suggest that if you have not read The Last Investigation, you should.

III

Before beginning any discussion of Newman’s disagreement about the Veciana/Bishop relationship, I think it is important to state what is not in his argument. John never talked to Marie Fonzi or visited her home to look through what she still had left of her husband’s files. Even though Veciana died last year, he had time to talk to Antonio through his daughter who is a professional journalist. As most readers know, this reviewer has shown that Clay Shaw repeatedly lied on the witness stand at his trial. He also lied in public about his relationship with the CIA. This reviewer also believes that Shaw was part of the plot to set up Oswald in the murder of President Kennedy and this is why he called attorney Dean Andrews to go to Dallas to defend Oswald. But in spite of that, I interviewed three of Shaw’s four lawyers. I could not talk to Ed Wegmann, since he had passed on prior to starting the research on my first book.

There are two main areas that Newman finds fault with in Veciana’s statements to Fonzi and others. The first is that, in his initial utterances, Antonio said that he first met up with Bishop in Cuba in 1960. As the author notes, Veciana later changed this to 1959. The first person to find a problem with this was Fabian Escalante. (Newman, p. 67) At the time of Kennedy’s murder, Escalante was part of Castro’s counterintelligence force. He eventually rose to helm Cuban state security forces. Probably no one on the island knew as much about anti-Castro CIA operations and Phillips as Escalante did. According to his information, Phillips had left Cuba in February of 1960. To his knowledge, he did not come back. (Newman, pp. 67–71)

Newman’s other main point of contention is that, contrary to what Veciana told Fonzi, he was not primarily associated with the CIA. After leaving Cuba in October, 1961 Veciana was associated with the MRP. In late 1961, he was approved for CIA use in other operations, but did not like working for the Agency. The reason being that he wanted little or no restrictions placed on him. (Newman, p. 293)

In Puerto Rico, Veciana helped create a group called Alpha 66. And he gained sponsorship from Army intelligence in November of 1962. (Newman, p. 299) The author concludes that, from his timeline, Veciana was working for the Army while he was participating in Alpha 66 activities. And he concludes that when Veciana told the Church Committee that the man behind Alpha 66 strategy was Maurice Bishop, he was being deceitful. (Newman, p. 313)

John has done some good work with this and I think some of it is valuable. And he probably is not done yet. But let me point out what I see as a bit problematic. The author brings out his information about Veciana, Alpha 66, and Army Intel as if it had been buried underground. Yet it was written about as far back as ten years ago.

In 2011, Larry Hancock penned a brief but valuable book called Nexus. In Chapter 11 of that work, he writes about how the success of Alpha 66 had drawn the interest of the Army in October of 1962. The CIA and G-2 then shared what information they had collected on the group’s projects. Cyrus Vance of the Army drafted a proposal for very select missions, but Vance’s proposal is marked “Not Used.” Everyone knows that after the Missile Crisis, the actions against Cuba were greatly slowed down and decreased. And, at Kennedy’s insistence, the little that was left was mostly moved off shore. (James DiEugenio, Destiny Betrayed, Second Edition, p. 70)

The Missile Crisis concluded as a great success for Kennedy, but the Cuban exiles looked at it differently. The rumor in Miami was that somehow the Russians were lying and Castro was cheating. There were still missiles in Cuba and two defecting Russian officers were there willing to talk. As Hancock mentions both in Nexus and Someone Would Have Talked, the main source for this appears to have been Eddie Bayo of Alpha 66. (Respectively, p. 86, p. 337) If that group was only a G-2 operation at that time, 1963, then why did the reaction to this Alpha 66 rumor turn into a purely CIA project? I am referring of course to Operation Tilt, sometimes called the Bayo/Pawley mission. William Pawley was a zealous sponsor of the excursion into Cuba and presented it to CIA. Dick Billings of Life magazine was involved in this mission on Pawley’s yacht since Life was giving publicity to both the DRE and Alpha 66.

Newman admits that there was a female contact who worked for Veciana, who communicated messages to him from Phillips. (Newman, p. 83) Delores Cao had been Veciana’s secretary and she recalled messages from a man who used the name Bishop. According to Hancock, in 1963, there was another woman who was used for messaging later. Veciana recalled her name as Prewett. This has to be be Virginia Prewett, who Phillips worked with in propaganda operations. (Hancock, Someone Would Have Talked, p. 177) John also admits that some CIA agents stayed on the island after the revolution. And Veciana named one of them who appeared to be an associate of Phillips, but he rules out the possibility that Phillips would have ever returned, because he had no diplomatic immunity since he was not under state department cover.

IV

 One of the major themes that the author spends many pages on is the controversy surrounding the espionage battles between the KGB and CIA in the fifties and early sixties. This includes figures like Pyotr Popov, Oleg Penkovsky, George Blake, Anatoliy Golitsyn, and Yuri Nosenko, among others. In my discussions with John and in one of the talks I have seen him give, his assessment is going to be contra authors Tom Mangold and David Wise. What he appears to be saying is that there really was a high level mole inside the CIA, Golitsyn was somehow a credible source, and that Nosenko was a false defector.

In 1992, British journalist Tom Mangold published a long biography of James Angleton and his reign over the CIA’s counterintelligence staff for two decades. That reign ended in 1974, when he was forced to resign by CIA Director Bill Colby, who had replaced Richard Helms. Mangold’s book was really the first full scale biography of Angleton. For too many reasons to mention here, it did not present an attractive portrait. In his review of CIA literature, in house historian Cleveland Cram praised the book as being honest and accurate. (October, 1993, Center for the Study of Intelligence, “Of Moles and Molehunters”)

Much of Mangold’s valuable work focused on how Allen Dulles and Dick Helms had allowed Angleton to establish what was essentially his own fiefdom within the CIA, including his personal filing system which was not integrated with the Agency’s system. It is not much of an exaggeration to say that those two men allowed the very rightwing Angleton to more or less run roughshod, with little or no oversight. Another major theme of the book was Angleton’s firm belief in virtually anything that Golitsyn told him. Complimentary to that belief were the monetary rewards that Angleton bestowed on the man—no matter how wrong his predictions turned out to be. And many of them were.

Within a year after Mangold’s book was released, much respected journalist David Wise—who had developed a reputation for dealing with intelligence matters—published his own book dealing with Angleton. This was called Molehunt. Wise traced all the organizational and personal damage to careers that Angleton had wrought in his search for what he thought was the mole in the CIA. This unhinged search was largely based on Golitsyn and the fact that he said the mole’s last name began with a K. To make a long story short, this resulted in the wreckage of CIA officer Peter Karlow’s career; along with Paul Garbler’s and Richard Kovich’s. And by agreeing with Golitsyn’s prophecy—that anyone who followed him would be ersatz—later defectors were either discounted or looked on with suspicion. This went on even beyond Angleton, with a man named Adolf Tolkachev, who later turned out to be a very valuable informant on Russian defense technology. His offer was turned down three times. President Carter later signed a bill called the Mole Relief Act in order to recognize and compensate Angleton’s victims. (Click here for more details)

Nosenko had first tried to defect in 1962, but he wanted to act as an agent in place, so he stayed in the USSR. But after the assassination, he did defect at Geneva in January of 1964. His message was that while he was in Russia, and as part of the KGB, he was responsible for the Oswald file. The KGB had no interest in the Marine defector and little knowledge of his military background. They were still not interested even after Oswald married a Russian girl. (Michael Benson, Who’s Who in the JFK Assassination, pp. 316–17)

Today, Newman is convinced that Nosenko was a false defector, to the point that he once told me that Bruce Solie, the CIA officer who helped rescue Nosenko from three years of torture and imprisonment, might have been the mole. What seems odd about all this to this reviewer is that the author also writes that the KGB had nothing to do with President Kennedy’s murder. (Newman, p. 339) Which means to me that, at worst, the Russians were trying to convince the USA that they had nothing to do with turning Oswald while he was in the USSR, or ultimately Kennedy’s murder.

A lot of what the author writes in this section of the book is based on the works of Tennent “Pete” Bagley. An important part of what Newman writes about the longtime CIA officer concerns his relationship with esteemed British researcher Malcolm Blunt. This reviewer has material of value to add to their exchange over Oswald’s file that is not in the book under review.

The Brit Malcolm became friendly with Bagley while the former agent was living in Brussels. By 2012, Malcolm had done some work on the declassified HSCA files of Betsy Wolf. One of her assignments was to investigate the Oswald file at CIA. Betsy was a thorough and conscientious researcher. One of the oddities about Oswald’s file that puzzled her was the fact that no 201 file had been opened on the man after he had defected in 1959. Betsy began to inquire with other CIA officers and to look up certain division charters. She found out that in not opening that file, the Agency was violating its own internal rules.

The other problem she pondered was that Oswald’s files did not go where they should have gone, which was the Soviet Russia (SR) division. Instead, they went to the Office of Security (OS). The more people she talked to, the weirder this situation got. She came to suspect that somehow, someone had rigged the system so that no 201 file would be opened on Oswald. As she dug deeper, she realized such was the case. For OS did not open 201 files. This is why certain outside agencies were sending multiple copies of files on Oswald to CIA, but they were not getting distributed. After months of research work on this, Betsy interviewed the man who was the then present Chief of Security, Robert Gambino. He told her that the office of Mail Logistics is alerted in advance of where certain files should be headed in the system. She concluded that this is what had happened: someone had instructed that office in advance to misdirect Oswald’s files. (Click here for details, plus a diagram of how Oswald files were routed)

Malcolm drew for Bagley the diagram of how Oswald’s incoming files were routed in 1959. That is, not going to where they should have been going, namely the SR division, where Pete had worked, but instead being diverted to OS where no 201 file would be opened. After looking at the diagram, Bagley asked Malcolm if Oswald was a witting or unwitting defector. Malcolm did not want to reply, but Bagley pushed him on the question telling him he had to know the answer. Malcolm said, “Okay, unwitting.” Bagley instantly countered with, “Oh no, he had to be witting!” (Newman, p. 339) What makes this even more interesting is that Bagley thought Oswald had killed Kennedy. So you had, for the first time, a veteran CIA counter intelligence officer—who thought Oswald had killed Kennedy—saying that the man was a witting false defector.

V

I would like to close this discussion on a high point, actually two of them.

Newman’s analysis of how the CIA switched back their plots to kill Castro onto the Kennedy White House is very well done. In fact, it is unmatched in the literature. As the author explicates it, this deception started with Director of Plans Dick Bissell; it was then continued, expanded, and elongated by William Harvey’s assistant Sam Halpern. The author proves that both men knowingly lied about the subject. It is important, because this whole mythology became a way to confuse what had happened in the JFK case. The myth that arose from it was that Kennedy was trying to get Castro, but Castro got him. When, in fact, neither clause was true. And neither was the corollary: JFK dug the hole for his own death.

Bissell was the first person who created the chimera that somehow “the White House” urged him to create an executive action capability. (Newman, p. 182) In fact, Bissell first told this story to William Harvey in 1961. But under examination by the Church Committee, Bissell said six times that he could not recall who the person at the White House was who first asked him to do this. Someone in the administration calls you about such a subject and you cannot recall who it was?

But on its face, this was not credible. Because the CIA’s Staff D—which included this function—had already been created by then. Plus the CIA/Mafia plots were already in motion. The former began in October of 1960, the latter in August of 1960. And, in fact, it was Bissell’s idea to reach out to the Mafia. (Newman, p. 187) After doing depositions with Bissell, Harvey, and McGeorge Bundy, the Church Committee concluded that Kennedy had filed no such request with CIA and none had been discussed with him. (Newman, p. 191) In fact, the Church Committee was forced to ask Bissell: If the White House tasked you with that, why didn’t you reply that such actions were already proceeding?

The reason that Bissell wanted to use this fabrication of White House approval was to egg on the Mafia plots in order to salvage the Bay of Pigs operation. This is most likely because he understood from the two designers of that operation—Jake Esterline and Jack Hawkins—that it would not succeed due to the revisions that had been made in their plans. In fact, they wanted to resign, since they sensed a debacle was upcoming. Bissell understood if that happened, he would be left holding the bag, since he was the main supervising officer. (Newman, pp. 191–92).

Halpern took this fabrication and made it his own, with two alterations. First, he switched the pushing of the plots from JFK to RFK and he used a CIA man he knew, Charles Ford, as RFK’s “accessory.” What was quite revealing about the Church Committee inquiry was that Dick Helms did not seem to know much at all about Halpern’s RFK/Ford schemes. And what he did know was through Halpern. (Newman, pp. 237–39)

The giveaway about Halpern was his frequent assertion that RFK deliberately left no paper behind about his dealings with Ford. This turned out to be utterly false. And as the author points out, for Seymour Hersh to have accepted this from Halpern for his 1997 book, The Dark Side of Camelot, tells you all you need to know about Hersh’s piece of rubbish.

In fact, Charles Ford testified twice before the Church Committee. For whatever reason, we only have his second deposition. But it is clear from the references he makes to the lost first interview that he never did what Halpern said he was doing. That is acting as a liaison for RFK to the Mob for the purpose of killing Castro. Considering Bobby Kennedy’s war on the Mafia, this was preposterous on its face. But as the author points out, we have documents from both sides today—RFK’s and Ford’s—as to what Ford was doing for Bobby. The idea was that he was supposed to check out some American representatives of anti-Castro groups in Cuba and also explore ways to retrieve the prisoners from the failed Bay of Pigs project. (Newman, pp. 260—67). These prove that Halpern was passing gas on two levels.

But the capper about this is that Halpern knew about it, since he signed off on one of Ford’s memos. In fact, Ford was working with Halpern and Harvey in 1961. And since Ford worked under those two men in 1961, within their domain at CIA, he could not have been working under Bobby Kennedy. The Church Committee examined Ford’s testimony afterwards and found it to be accurate. (Newman, p. 276)

Perhaps the sickest statement that Halpern made to Hersh was this: “Bobby Kennedy’s primary purpose is dealing with Charles Ford was to do what Bill Harvey was not doing—finding someone to assassinate Fidel Castro.” As Hersh could have found out through declassified documents available at that time, this was an ugly lie. Harvey had found someone he was working with to kill Castro. That was John Roselli. And the CIA had lied to Bobby Kennedy about the existence of this plot. (Newman, p. 279)

Does it get any worse than that?

VI

The book closes with what is a testament to its title. The author notes that Dwight Eisenhower and his National Security Advisor Gordon Gray had thought of using a false flag operation at Guantanamo Bay in the waning days of Ike’s administration. That is, they would employ Cuban exiles to simulate an attack on the base and that would suffice as an excuse to invade Cuba. In fact, Eisenhower had told Joint Chiefs Chairman Lyman Lemnitzer that he had little problem with that scenario, as long as they could manufacture something “that would be generally acceptable.” (p. 372)

As the author then writes, it is clear that Lemnitzer recalled Eisenhower’s approval of this concept, since both he and Edward Lansdale, who was running Operation Mongoose, were going to try and push it on President Kennedy. As Newman, and many others have written, once Mongoose—the secret war against Cuba—was up and running in February of 1962, the three men supervising it were not well-suited for each other. That would be Lansdale, William Harvey, and Bobby Kennedy. RFK was there at his brother’s request. Since after the Bay of Pigs, the president did not trust the so-called experts anymore. Lansdale did not like this. He actually asked CIA Director John McCone for complete control over Mongoose. A request that was promptly denied. On top of this, Lansdale and Harvey despised each other and Harvey hated RFK. (Newman, pp. 376–77)

Lansdale was quite imaginative—and deadly—in his plans to shake up things on the island. He thought up outlandish schemes like Task 33. This was a plan to use biological warfare against Cuban sugar workers, but this was only part of an even more wild menu: to create a pretext to attack Cuba. Lansdale now brought back the idea of staging a fake Cuban attack at Guantanamo to provoke an American invasion. There were two other scenarios that Lansdale thought up for this purpose.

As the reader can see, what Lansdale had in mind actually preceded what the Joint Chiefs were going to propose to President Kennedy, which was the infamous Operation Northwoods. The problem was that President Kennedy not only did not want to provoke American direct intervention, he did not even want to hear about it. (Newman, p. 385) But yet, on March 13, 1962 the Joint Chiefs proposed Northwoods to the White House. This was a series of play acted events designed to manufacture chaos in Cuba in order to provoke an attack by American forces. One was a staging of a “Remember the Maine” scenario: blowing up a ship in Guantanamo Bay and blaming it on Castro. Another was to create a communist Cuban terrorism wave on cities like Miami. Kennedy rejected these proposals.

Newman closes the book with Kennedy’s searing disagreements with Lemnitzer over both Cuba and Vietnam. About the latter, Lemnitzer said that Kennedy’s policy would lead to “communist domination of all of the Southeast Asian mainland.” In regard to Cuba, Lemnitzer would not let up on the idea of American intervention. This led to his eventual rebuke by Kennedy in mid-March of 1962. (Newman, pp. 391–94) If there was any doubt that Lemnitzer was leaving—and there was not much—this settled it.

Kennedy did kick him out of the White House, but he sent him to NATO, which, of course, was secretly guiding the Strategy of Tension under Operation Gladio. In other words, the terrorist plan Lemnitzer had been turned down on with Cuba, he was now going to be part of in Europe.

Last modified on Monday, 27 September 2021 04:29
James DiEugenio

One of the most respected researchers and writers on the political assassinations of the 1960s, Jim DiEugenio is the author of two books, Destiny Betrayed (1992/2012) and The JFK Assassination: The Evidence Today (2018), co-author of The Assassinations, and co-edited Probe Magazine (1993-2000).   See "About Us" for a fuller bio.

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