Wednesday, April 11, 2012

LeMay Chairs the Joint Chiefs of Staff

Nathan Raab, owner of the Clifton AF1 Radio Tapes, on the Raab Collection Web site, notes: “LeMay, himself a member of the Joint Chiefs, was in the habit of taking bullying command of Joint Chiefs meetings, and with LeMay leading the charge for war, the other chiefs jumped into the fray, repeating the Air Force general’s call for immediate military action.”

The late September meeting of the Joint Chiefs is important because LeMay chaired the meeting, they were briefed on covert CIA Cuban ops by Des Fitzgerald, and among the issues discussed were the adaption of the Valkyrie plot to kill Hitler to use against Castro, the upcoming mission of the Rex that would blow the Collins Radio CIA cover and its links to the assassination of President Kennedy.

The Nazi General's Valkyrie Plot had Hitler sign off on a special program that would allow for others to take over the government in the event of a catastrophic event or the death of Hitler. Two days before the Joint Chiefs of Staff meeting, JFK signed the executive order approving "Four Leaves," a special military communications program that remains secret today.

THE WHITE HOUSE DIARY SEPTEMBER 23 1963: JFK Signs Executive Order “President Kennedy assigns the highest national priority to Project FOUR LEAVES to develop and produce a military communications system.”

“SUBJECT: Assignment of Highest National Security Priority to Project FOUR LEAVES”

“In response to a recommendation by the Secretary of Defense, the president, under the authority granted by the Defense Production Act of 1950, today established the program listed below as being in the highest national security priority category for development and production.”

On September 24, Lee Harvey Oswald left his New Orleans apartment for Mexico City.

On September 25, 1963 "Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara and Gen. Maxwell D. Taylor, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, arrived in Saigon to investigate what effect the political problems in South Vietnam have had on the military situation."

September 25, 1963 Joint Chiefs of Staff Memo for the Record, Walter Higgins, Briefing by Mr. Desmond Fitzgerald on CIA Cuban Operations and Planning, JFK Collection

(JCS Papers, J-3,#29 NARA. Riff 202-10001-10028)

This meeting and the memo of what occurred there is important in regards to the assassination of President Kennedy for a number of reasons. For starters, this memo shows that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff - Gen. Taylor, was preoccupied with Vietnam and not even at this important meeting on Cuban operations, and that in his place, Air Force General Curts LeMay assumed the chair. In this role, it is quite apparent that Gen. LeMay also played a significant role in the military's assistance to the CIA and the anti-Castro Cuban maritime operations, especially the ones connected to the assassination by way of the missions of the Rex and the Collins Radio cover they used.

In addition, it gives us the Pentagon office responsible for coordinating military assistance to the CIA’s covert anti-Cuban maritime operations - the Special Assistant for Counterinsurgency and Special Activities (SACASP), and its director - Gen. Krulak, who we previously knew from Col. Fletcher Prouty.

While LeMay and the Air Force at first balked at giving any support to the CIA maritime operations, other than training, LeMay then offered to run them entirely under the control of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS). When it was explained to LeMay that the role of the JCS is to form strategy and assist in shaping policy, operational matters are handled by others - in this case Task Force Alpha,

The biggest threat, according to the CIA briefer, Desmond FitzGerald, was the possibility of the Cubans capturing a mother ship, like the Rex, interrogating the crew and confiscating the sensitive electronic equipment and any possible records that might be aboard. It would be like another Pueblo incident when the North Koreans captured the American electronics spy ship and held the crew hostage.

LeMay doesn't seem to understand the capabilities of small motorboats, and dismisses the possibility of them becoming a threat, which shows you how he would fail to recognize the threat of such boats in Cuba, Vietnam and the pirate waters off Africa today.

LeMay does put a lot of credence in the radio programs and operations, and suggests that a project Air Force officer McElroy was working on might be worthwhile for the CIA to consider using in Cuba.

Besides mentioning that they were studying the Valkyrie - Hitler assassination plot to use against Castro, FitzGerald also mentions that the number and types of targets are limited, and even if they attack two to four a month, within a few months they will have exhausted such targets. They only refer to oil, electricity, sugar and military targets, with no real mention of Cuban leaders, and only five missions were planned for the fall of 1963.

General Krulak was given responsibility for ensuring that the military supplies the CIA with all it needs in regards to support for the Cuban maritime raiders.

Then after the meeting, Adml. Riley read a letter from McGeorge Bundy/Roswell Gilpatrick that was to be returned to Gilpatrick, that apparently concerns the security of Cuban operations, and Higgins, the author of the memo, says that he will check “Pendulum,” which is "in being," to see if it is adequate.

The relevant JCS meeting memo in its entirety:


25 September 1963


Subject: Briefing by Mr. Desmond FitzGerald on
CIA Cuban Operations and Planning

1. At the JCS meeting at 1400 on 25 September, Mr. Desmond FitzGerald briefed the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

2. Except for General Taylor and Admiral McDonald, the Joint Chiefs were present, as were the Directors and Secretariat. Colonel Higgins from SACSA was the only other officer in attendance.

3. General LeMay opened the meeting by referring to papers recently discussed by the Joint Chiefs on policy and actions concerning military support of the CIA for operations against Cuba. General LeMay expressed the JCS position as had been reflected in the memoranda to Mr. Vance which in effect is that the Joint Chiefs do not believe that the operations to date are of a size and importance enough to justify the use of military support for protection.

4. Mr. FitzGerald then discussed his personal feelings as to changed conditions in Cuba. Essentially, he believes that Castro's hold in Cuba has been seriously weakened since last July. He believes that the minor raids conducted by the CIA have contributed to this deterioration in Castro's influence and stability. He is firmly convinced that Castro will fall at some future, not too distant, date, and that such actions as the CIA are conducting, as well as those of exiles, are contributing to unrest and unsettlement.

5. Mr. FitzGerald, in commenting upon criteria as to when the military support should be provided, offered the following. The greatest danger from his point of view is that the mother ships may be captured rather than be sunk. This will result in the capture of crewmen who have too much information and which could result in dangerous publicity for the United States. The location of these raids contributes to the possibility of capture. Hence, only when the raids are conducted in the more vulnerable areas from that point of view, is it likely that the CIA will request military support. He further stated that CIA has no intention of requesting aid for the coming raid.

6. General LeMay questioned the danger of capture in view of the capabilities of Cubans and ridiculed the idea that small motor boats should have the capability of such a ship.

7. General LeMay and others gave opinions concerning such technicalities as the capability of radar both on land and in the air, capability of ship radar of the U.S. and Cuba, the speed of the mother ship, which was cited as 10 to 12 knots, and other related items.

8. Mr. FitzGerald made much of the Cuban volatile nature. He cited that many Cubans are now walking with their heads up and alert because of the realization that there are possibilities of raids and other outside supports, such as the light aircraft raids. He voiced the opinion that Castro would probably take desperate measures as his situation further deteriorates and would turn to creating revolutions in Latin America. He stated that even though his operations may be considered only minor, he thought they were doing about as much as could be done under the present policies. One of his problems was that he felt there was only a total of 50 logical targets and if he conducted as many as 10 raids a month, he would be unable to sustain the build-up of Cuban hopes. He further stated that there were times when certain types of raids were more favorable than others; for instance, on sugar centrals.

9. In responding to the question concerning the non-attributality of U.S. equipment, he stated that all equipment they use could be bought on the open market in many countries, even though it was of American origin. He stated that intelligence was not as good yet as they would like to have; however, they are having greater success in having agents enter and depart Cuba.

10. General Wheeler injected that he sympathizes with such planners as Mr. FitzGerald because he realizes that many good ideas are never accepted by the cautious policy makers. However, Mr. FitzGerald reported that he believes he had a clearer go-ahead on these operations than he has ever had in his past experience.

11. Mr. FitzGerald said that over the next two or three months his plans include critical targets of three classes: electrical systems, sugar centrals, and oil. He cited that electrical systems, although a top priority and a key to the economy, were very difficult targets. The sugar centrals were only of a seasonal nature because unless hit at the peak season, they could be repaired without difficulty or loss of time. In regard to oil, the refineries are most important but were also toughest to hit.

12. In response to a comment by General Shoup regarding the sabotage of mines Mr. FitzGerald said there had been a recent case of internal sabotage in a mine. He then explained how the success of his operations can only be measured when internal sabotage is increased. In response to a question, he admitted that there was not any coordination as yet with the internal sabotage program.

13. He commented that there was nothing new in the propaganda field. However, he felt that there had been great success in getting closer to the military personnel who might break with Castro, and stated that there were at least ten high-level military personnel who are talking with CIA but as yet are not talking to each other, since that degree of confidence has not yet developed. He considers it as a parallel in history; i.e., the plot to kill Hitler; and this plot is being studied in detail to develop an approach.

14. General LeMay then questioned the advisability of utilizing a communication technique to install a radio capability which would permit break-in on Castro broadcasts. He stated that an Air Force officer named McElroy was available to talk to Mr. FitzGerald on the matter, and Mr. FitzGerald accepted this offer.

15. The conference closed with General LeMay directing that Mr. FitzGerald's planners meet with General Krulak's people and work out the details as to how the military can assist in supporting these operations. After Mr. FitzGerald departed, General LeMay gave added directions to Colonel Higgins to initiate necessary steps for planning.

16. After the JCS meeting Admiral Riley called Colonel Higgins into his office and read a letter from Mr. McGeorge Bundy which discussed secrecy measures necessary related to Cuba CIA operations. Admiral Riley directed Colonel Higgins to have the nature of this letter put out through SACSA control to SACSA contact points to insure an adequate system for secrecy within the military services. Admiral Riley stated he was returning the letter to Mr. Gilpatric as he did not want written communication by SACSA, but to put this out orally. This was transmitted to Colonel Wyman who will take the action to prepare an appropriate memorandum for the record to be filed with General Ingelido in accordance with further direction by Admiral Riley.

17. General Wheeler, Chief of Staff of the Army, called and questioned us concerning SACSA's access for the knowledge of such operations as mentioned in the McGeorge Bundy letter. I advised him that our Pendulum system was in being but that I would look into it in greater detail to determine that it met the letter as well as the spirit of the memorandum. I stated I believed this was so but had not had reason to do it until this date and therefore did not give him a positive answer at that time.

Colonel, USA

LeMay and JFK at the White House

By William E. Kelly (

Rather than the act of a lone, deranged gunman, if the assassination of President John F. Kennedy was a conspiracy, it was more specifically defined as a covert intelligence operation, the purpose of which is to shield the actual perpetrators.

As a covert coup, however, and not just a whispered conspiracy, there is documentation and records that reflect the policy, administration, payments, management, training, assignments and tasks necessary to successfully execute the Dealey Plaza operation.

This historical administrative record shows that the assassination was not the work of a lone-nut nor a renegade CIA-Mafia-Cuban intelligence network, but a well planned, coordinated, integrated and official program – an inside job – coup d’etat by a domestic, anti-Communist network active in the anti-Castro Cuban project.

It is possible to document and detail the official approval of the covert intelligence operations that led to the assassination because a direct relationship can be established between those at the top who requested, approved and directed three specific anti-Castro Cuban maritime operations – the Bayo-Pawley raid (June 8, 1963), the Rex mission (Oct. 26-30, 1963) and the activities of Clare Booth Luce’s “boys,” which included Julio Fernandez and others in the DRE network that operated in Louisiana and Florida in the summer and fall of 1963.

In records released in batches unrelated to the JFK Act, documents from the National Security Council, Special Operations Group and Cuban Coordinating Committee – Covert Operations in Cuba (CCC-COC) all establish an administrative and paper trail, set a time-line of related covert events, lists the names of those in the CCC-COC loop who attended the relevant meetings, and detail the types of operations planned and approved by the President and eventually utilized against him.

They also help us identify those who were responsible for carrying them out, and we can follow them from the marching orders approved at these meetings to what we know actually happened at both the sea level and in the streets of Dallas.

While many hundreds if not thousands of plots and plans were hatched against Castro and Cuba by the anti-Castro exiles, the CIA and the Mafia, these three naval operations can be directly connected the assassination. Not part of Mongoose, these were part of a specific and different covert action scheme devised and approved in the spring of 1963.

From documents published in THE KENNEDYS AND CUBA (by Mark J. White, 1999, Ivan R. Dee Publisher, 1332 North Halsted Street, Chicago, Ill. 60622), and the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Califano papers released by the JFK Act (and posted at Mary Ferrell Archives), it is possible to trace the Cuban operations related to the assassination back to their origins in administrative policy.

According to Mark White, “John Kennedy, it can be argued, changed as a president during the final year of his life. The Cuban missile crisis appears to have sobered him, increasing his inclination to make the cold war safer. Examples of this new resolve came in the summer of 1963, with his famous speech at American University, noteworthy for its conciliatory attitude toward the Soviet Union, and signing of the Test Ban Treaty, which limited nuclear testing. A more progressive phase in his civil rights policies in 1963, with the introduction in Congress of a sweeping bill designed to end segregation, can be viewed as the domestic counterpart to this more accommodating thrust in his foreign policy”

As White also points out, “...when JFK and his advisors did turn their attention to Castro, their attitude was strikingly and troublingly reminiscent of their pre-missile crisis outlook: they remained determined to use covert means to undermine Castro’s position. In June 1963 JFK gave the go-ahead for a CIA plan to carry out sabotage and other hostile action against Cuba. It was a sort of condensed version of Operation Mongoose. Some of the documents...demonstrate that Russian officials soon learned of the resumption of covert U.S. pressure on Cuba, making this issue a bone of contention between the superpowers in the fall of 1963.”

After setting the covert sabotage actions into motion, these operations were supplemented by a second, ostensibly secret, back-channel diplomatic approach to détente with Cuba. Just as the anti-Castro operations were penetrated by Cuban G2 double-agents, and made known to the Russian leaders, the secret back channel negotiations were made known to the covert saboteurs.

“In contrasting to this continuing effort to harass Castro, however,” White writes of the dichotomy, “the Kennedy administration pursued another clandestine strategy in the fall of 1963, this one aimed at generating a dialog with the Cuban leader. William Attwood...kept senior administration officials abreast of his efforts. Had Kennedy not been assassinated, this initiative may conceivably have brought about an accommodation with Castro.”

As for RFK, concludes White, “Robert Kennedy, such a conspicuous figure on the Cuban matters in 1961-62, was less prominent in 1963 in shaping administration policy towards Castro. But his role remained significant.”

White’s synopsis of a Memorandum for the Record Drafted by Chairman of the JCS Taylor as “Contingency planning for an attack on Cuba, an important feature of the Kennedy administration’s covert approach towards Castro before the missile crisis, continues in 1963, with JFK’s active involvement.”

A revision of the basic invasion plan for Cuba CINCLANT was reviewed and approved by the JCS on February 26, 1963, with “the most significant change in the basic invasion plan since last October has resulted from our increasing capability to introduce large numbers of troops and heavy equipment into the objective area early in the operation. This capability is being achieved by the reactivation of 11 LSTs...and programmed acquisition of additional C-130 aircraft.”

A February 28, 1963 memo, datelined Washington, reflects a meeting of the JCS with the President, with the following subjects being the principle topics of discussion:

“a. The Cuban Invasion Plan. (1) The Chiefs discussed the time-space factors in the implementation of CINCLANT Operation Plan 312 and 316. [1. These were contingency plans for an attack on Cuba, developed before the missile crisis.]...The President was shown why it would take approximately 18 days from decision to D-day from the present troop and ship dispositions. In order to reduce this time to something like 7 days, considerable prepositioning would be required in order to get Army/Marine units to the East Coast and to assemble the necessary cargo shipping. The Chiefs expressed the view that it was unlikely that a period of tension would not proceed a decision to invade Cuba which would allow ample time for preparatory measures; hence, it was undesirable to make permanent changes of station of Army and Marine unites which would upset the present disposition of strategic reserve forces.

(2) The President expressed particular interest in the possibility of getting some troops quickly into Cuba in the event of a general uprising. He was told that only the airborne troops could arrive with little delay, that the first Marine elements would require about 7 days before landing. He asked the Chiefs to develop specific plans in anticipation of the need for this kind of quick reaction.”

On April Fools Day, April 1, 1963, the Cuban Coordinating Committee – Covert Operations in Cuba (CCC-COC) met, the subject of an April 3 memo from Gordon Chase of the National Security Council to McGeorge Bundy, the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs. It included a still classified agenda and matters discussed by the Cottrell Committee, which White identifies as “An interdepartmental committee, chaired by Sterling J. Cottrell, in early 1963 to coordinate the administration’s covert and overt Cuban policies.”

Among those in the CCC-COC meeting were Secretary Vance, Joe Califano, Dick Helms, Dez FitzGerald and Bob Hurwitch, who discussed “Ballon Operations Over Havana, a plan that was “well under way,” given favorable winds, that would release balloons containing hundreds of thousands of leaflets designed by the CIA propaganda shop, which “attack Castro’s henchmen and contain cartoons illustrating sabotage techniques.” Another review is scheduled before this is put into operation.

Also on the agenda of this meeting was finding appropriate installations for the “Training of CIA-Sponsored Cuban Exiles on Military Reservations – CIA and the Army,” and “The Russian Language Programs – The Committee decided in favor of instituting three programs (Radio Liberty, Radio Caribe, and an intrusion program...”

In summary, Gordon Chase notes, “In approving the three programs for Special Group considerations, the committee recognized that they will probably be of marginal value only: however, they will cost us very little, financial or otherwise.”

Under agenda item number four, “Sabotage of Cuban Shipping – The Committee...will recommend to the Special Group the incendiaries which would be timed to go off in international waters and the abrasives in the machinery. While the propaganda boost might be nil, they are easier to effect than limpets and could really hurt Castro.”

Then Chase tells McBundy, “The Committee gave the CIA the option of using its own Cubans or of using DRE as a cut-out.”

The DRE are the anti-Castro Cuban Student Revolutionary Directorate, whose members interacted with Oswald before the assassination.

Then the meeting briefly discussed “The Redirection of Cuban Exile Group Operations,” asking themselves the question of “what is an acceptable target?”

In response, “Dick Helms pointed out that although these groups may start out to get a non-Soviet target, once you let them go, you can never really be sure what they will do.” Under the Subject, “President Action on Special Group Items Concerning Cuba,” on April 9, 1963, Joseph A. Califano, Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Army wrote a memo to his boss, Cyrus R. Vance, which White describes as, “JFK decides which of the covert operations proposed him would be carried out.”

Sterling J. Cottrell, the Coordinator of Cuban Affairs to the Special Group, wrote a memo on April 18, 1963, which White says, “reviews current covert actions against Castro and poses the question whether these actions should be intensified.”

Under SUBJECT: “Proposed New Covert Policy and Program Toward Cuba,” Cottrell wrote, “A. The following guidelines are being used in our present covert policy towards Cuba: 1. Producing comprehensive intelligence related to our basic policy objectives….2. Intensifying covert collection of intelligence within Cuba, especially within the regime. 3. Supporting the efforts of certain Cuban exiles, who are associated with the original aims of the 26 of July Movement [1. A reference to the original effort to spark a revolution in Cuba when Castro and his cohorts tried to seize the Moncada military barracks in 1953.] and who believe that the Castro regime can be overthrown from within in order that they may: 1) cause a split in the leadership of the retime… create a political base of opposition…4) The use of a variety of propaganda media to stimulate passive resistance….5) The placing of incendiary devices and/or explosives with suitable time delay within the hull or cargo to disable or sink Cuban vessels and/or damage their cargos while on the high seas…6) Introduce abrasives and other damaging material...”

Cottrell then poses the questions, “1) Should the U.S. move beyond the above policy to a program of sabotage, harassment and resistance activities? 2) What kind of effective action can be taken? 3) What capabilities do we possess? 4) What repercussions can we expect?”

In this memo, Cottrell also says, “Surface attacks by maritime assets firing on Cuban ships in Cuban waters. When the maritime asset cannot reach the target, shore based attacks on shipping in port or passing the offshore keys will be undertaken …. Considerations: Attack craft from the sea would be manned by Cubans. Shore based attacks by paramilitary trained Cubans firing on ships with recoilless rifles, rocket launchers or 20mm cannon. First sea attack in May and once monthly thereafter. First shore based attack in June. These operations would disrupt coastal commerce. US would probably be blamed. Cuban reprisal measures possible. Soviets likely allege US culpability...Externally mounted hit and run attacks against land targets. Examples: molasses tanker, petroleum storage dumps, naval refueling base, refineries, power plants.”

Under “Considerations,” Cottrell notes, “Operations conducted by Cubans with paramilitary training. High possibilities of complex operations going awry. First attack in April, with one per month thereafter. Effects would be increased exile morale, some economic disruption. Repercussions would include charges of US sponsorship and increased Cuban security force activities...”

Cottrell includes an attachment on the subject of “A Covert Harassment/Sabotage Program against Cuba,” which states, “This paper presents a covert Harassment/Sabotage program targeted against Cuba: including are those sabotage plans which have previously been approved as well as new proposals...Loses in men and equipment with the attendant adverse publicity must be expected. Even without such loses, US attribution would be claimed. When policy and guidelines of the overall sabotage program are established, it will be possible progressively to develop up to a limit additional covert assets and support capabilities. However, materially to increase the pace of operations, a period of four to six months is required. Ultimate limiting factors are weather, length of ‘dark of the moon’ period each month and appropriate targets. A source of additional agent personnel is from Cuban personnel trained by the US Military Forces under the recent programs, but released to civilian status….” That April 29th 1963, RFK and members of the Standing Group of the National Security Council met in Washington at 5pm, but the memo prepared by McGeorge Bundy has yet to be declassified and released, other than its title: “A Sketch of the Cuban Alternatives.”

The same day, JFK sent a memo to Secretary of Defense McNamara, pressing his request for the military to develop contingency plans for Cuba. JFK wrote, “Are we keeping our Cuban contingency invasion plans up to date? I notice that there have been a number of new judgments on the amount of equipment that the Cubans have. I thought last October the number of troops we planned to have available was rather limited and the success of the operation was dependent upon, in large measure, our two airborne divisions getting in and controlling the two airfields. It seems to be that we should strengthen our contingency plans on this operation.”

In Washington, on June 8, 1963, an unidentified CIA officer wrote a paper for the Standing Group of the National Security Council on the Subject of “Proposed Covert Policy and Integrated Program of Action Towards Cuba.”

“Submitted herewith is a covert program for Cuba within the CIA’s capabilities. Some parts of the program have already been approved and are being implemented. Being closely inter-related, the total cumulative impact of the courses of action set forth in this program is dependent upon the simultaneous coordinated execution of the individual courses of action. This program is based on the assumption that current U.S. policy does not contemplate outright military intervention in Cuba or a provocation which can be used as a pretext for an invasion of Cuba by United States military forces. It is further assumed that U.S. policy calls for the exertion of maximum pressure by all means available to the U.S. government, short of military intervention…”

In the “Discussion of Components of an Integrated Program,” they mention the collection of covert intelligence, propaganda actions “to stimulate low-risk sabotage and other forms of passive resistance,” and the “exploitation and stimulation of disaffection in the Cuban military.”

As for General sabotage and harassment, “These operations will be conducted either by externally held assets [Note: Presumably a reference to Cuban émigrés] now available or existing external assets or those to be developed. Assets trained and controlled by the CIA will be used as well as selected autonomous exile groups. Initially, the emphasis will be on the use of externally held assets with a shift to internal assets as soon as operational feasible….”

Under “Support of autonomous anti-Castro Cuban groups to supplement and assist in the execution of the above courses of action,” six items are listed. “1) It is the keystone of the autonomous operations that they will be executed exclusively by Cuban national motivated by the conviction that the overthrow of the Castro/Communist regime must be accomplished by Cubans both inside and outside Cuba acting in consonance.”

“2) The effort will probably cost many Cuban lives. If this cost in lives becomes unacceptable to the U.S. conscience, autonomous operations can be effectively halted by the withdraw of US support, but once halted, it cannot be resumed.”

“3) All autonomous operations will be mounted from outside the territory of the United States.”

“4) The United States Government must be prepared to deny publicly any participation in these acts no matter how loud or even how accurate may be the reports of US complicity.”

“5) The US presence and direct participation in the operation would be kept to an absolute minimum...

“6) These operations would not be undertaken within a fixed time schedule.”

The very day that the CIA prepared this paper for the Standing Group of the NSC, June 8, 1963, a team of Cubans led by Eddie Bayo and Americans (John Martino, Richard Billings) left Florida aboard William Pawley’s boat the Flying Tiger II, on a mission to the Cuban coast near Baracoa, where Bayo and his men were infiltrated.

William Turner, [in Rearview Mirror, p. 194] reports, “In 1995 ex-Cuban security chief General Fabian Escalante told me that Bayo’s boat was found swamped near Baracoa, but there were no signs of its occupants.”

On June 19, 1963, JFK held a meeting at the White House concerning the “Proposed Covert Policy and Integrated Program of Action towards Cuba.” Present were Higher Authority (JFK), Secretary McNamara, Under Secretary Harriman, Mr. McCone, Mr. McGeorge Bundy, Mr. Thomas Parrott, Mr. Desmond FitzGerald and Air Force Chief of Staff, Gen. W. F. McKee.

According to the report of the meeting, prepared by Desmond FitzGerald, “The program as recommended by the Standing Group of the NSC was presented briefly to Higher Authority who showed a particular interest in proposed external sabotage operations. He was shown charts indicating typical targets for this program and a discussion of the advantages and disadvantages ensued. It is well recognized that there would be failures and a considerable noise level….Mr. Bundy described the integrated nature of the program presented and made the point that, having made a decision to go ahead, we be prepared to give the program a real chance. Mr. Harriman stated that the program would b ‘reviewed weekly’ by the Special Group...”

“Higher Authority,” the report notes, “asked how soon we could get into action with the external sabotage program and was told that we should be able to conduct our first operation in the dark-of-the-moon period in July although he was informed that we would prefer to start the program with some caution selecting softer targets to begin with. Higher Authority said this was a matter of our judgment. Although at one stage in the discussion Higher Authority said that we should move ahead with the program ‘this summer’ it is believed that Mr. Bundy will be able to convince him that this is not a sufficiently long trial period to demonstrate what the program can do.”

In Washington (on September 10, 1963), Ambassador-at-Large Llewellyn E. Thompson prepared a memo of his conversation with the Russians and JFK’s response. As described by Mark White, the editor The Kennedys and Cuba, “In a secret message to JFK, Khrushchev makes clear that he is aware of the recent resumption of sabotage by the United States against Cuba. He also warns Kennedy that the Soviet Union will respond if Cuba is attacked.”

At the same time that the anti-Castro Cuban raiders were attacking Russian and Cuban ships at sea and depositing commandos and assassins in Cuba, Castro and JFK were involved in a back channel dialog that began in New York City on August 26, 1963 when special US delegate to the UN William Attwood met Seyodou Diallo, the Guinea Ambassador to Havana.

Attwood, a former roommate of JFK at prep school (who introduced him to Mary Pinchot Meyer), and former editor at Look magazine, had previously served as US ambassador to Guinea (March 1961-May 1963) before being posted to the UN. According Attwood’s memo on the meeting, Diallo “went out of his way to tell me that Castro was isolated from contact with neutralist diplomats by his ‘Communist entourage’...Diallo, had finally been able to see Castro alone once and was convinced he was personally receptive to changing courses and getting Cuba on the road to non-alignment...”

As White describes the situation, “By the autumn of 1963 the Kennedy administration was pursuing a two-track policy towards Castro. While sabotage activities against Castro continued, an effort was under way to develop a secret dialog with Castro, with a view to achieving some sort of accommodation between Havana and Washington...”

Besides William Attwood’s back channel communications with Lechuga, Attwood also got further input from other sources, as he mentions, “On October 18, at dinner at the home of Mrs. Eugene Meyer, I talked with Mr. C. A. Doxiades, a noted Greek architect and town-planner, who had just returned from an architects congress in Havana, where he had talked alone to both Castro and Guevara, among others. He sought me out, as a government official, to say he was convinced Castro would welcome normalization of relations with the United States if he could do so without loosing too much face...”

On October 31, Halloween, Major Rene Vellejo, a Cuban surgeon in Cuba. Identified as Castro’s “right hand man and confidant,’ called Lisa Howard, reporting that Castro, “...would very much like to talk to the US official anytime and appreciated the importance of discretion to all concerned.”

On November 1, 1963, not only the CIA and the Cubans knew the details, but everyone who read the New York Times, who published a photo of the Rex on their front page and reported the ship was registered out of Nicaragua, owned by the Belcher Oil Company of Miami, and leased to the Collins Radio Company International, of Richardson, Texas, for the ostensible purpose of “electronic and oceanographic research.”

Since reporting to Gordon Chase of the NSC on October 21, the day of the Rex mission got underway, William Attwood had progressed further with the back channel negotiations in New York. Attwood later reported, “On October 28, I ran into Lechuga in the UN Delegates Lounge... I said it was up to him and he could call me if he felt like it. He wrote down my extension.”

At the White House (on November 5, 1963), a few days after the Rex mission was exposed in the New York Times, a meeting was held in Washington, with CIA Director John McCone presenting an update on the situation in Cuba and an evaluation of the sabotage program.

Besides the President, Secretaries McNamara, Rusk, Vance and RFK, General Taylor was there, along with Sec. (Roswell) Gilpatrick, and from the CIA, (Richard) Helms, (Desmond) FitzGerald and (Ted) Shackley put in an appearance. McCone’s memo reports that he opened the meeting with a brief resume of conditions in Cuba along these lines, “1) Cuba still belongs to Castro though his grip is weakening, 2) The military remains essentially loyal to Castro, 3) the internal security forces and apparatus are effective, 4) The economy is bad and deteriorating, 5) The Soviets are continuing a gradual withdraw, 6) Training of Cubans continues, 7) The only equipment which has been withdrawn has been the advanced C-band radar for SAM and certain communication equipment…”

“McCone then stated that the program which had been followed for the last several months, having been approved about the first of June [June 19], was integrated and interdependent one part on the other and therefore should be considered as a comprehensive program and not a number of independent actions.”

FitzGerald also made a presentation, a progress report on the six-point covert program proposed by the CIA [on June 8] and endorsed by JFK. According to the meeting minutes, “Rusk had no problem with infiltration of black teams…However he opposed the hit-and-run sabotage tactics as being unproductive, complicating our relationship with the Soviets and also with our friends and indicated a connection between our sabotage activities and the autobahn [Note: Berlin] problem.”

Just as the Nazi generals had Hitler personally approve the Valkyrie Plan that would be used against him, JFK approved the covert Cuban operations that would be used against him in the same way.

McCone concludes, “The President asked questions concerning the immediate operations, and the next one on the schedule was approved.”

The next one on the schedule ended at Dealey Plaza in Dallas on November 22, 1963.

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