Monday, October 1, 2018



Pathfinder – The CIA Contingency Plan to Kill Castro that was Redirected to JFK at Dealey Plaza.

As we are familiar with the National Photo Interpretation Center (NPIC) activities during the Cuban Missile Crisis and the two separate incidents when the Zapruder film was worked on at NPIC over the weekend of the assassination, both are important events, but the most significant lead NPIC employees give us is not concerned with photos or films but files – the Pathfinder files.

PATHFINDER was the code name given to a CIA contingency plan to kill Fidel Castro, that I believe was “redirected” to kill JFK at Dealey Plaza.

The “Pathfinder” operation would have gone the way of Jimmy Hoffa, as all documentary records of it disappeared within the purged CIA files, if it wasn’t for three – not one, or two, but three (actually eight) NPIC technicians who blew the whistle when they learned that Congress was interested in the CIA plots to kill Castro and came forward with their information.

According to the CIA they have no records of any operation called “Pathfinder,” except for one reference in a file devoted to Watergate burglar Frank Sturgis, who was heavily involved in Cuban activities, but wasn’t an agent or operative of the CIA, but rather US Air Force Intelligence.

Though its significance was not recognized at the time, we first learned about the Pathfinder files from the Congressional records released under the JFK Act of 1992, when it was recorded on the official record that in 1975 Dino Brugioni of the NPIC informed the CIA top brass that three NPIC technicians who were assigned to the Miami, anti-Castro Cuban JMWAVE station recalled working on the PATHFINDER program that was an assassination plan to kill Castro. 

When the Congressional Church Committee was investigating the CIA-Mafia plot to kill Castro, these NPIC technicians, assigned to the JMWAVE station, came forward to make their superiors aware of two CIA contingency plans to kill Castro and one to kill his brother Raoul.

To dispense with the Raoul plot first, it was, according to the NPIC technicians, a “drive by” maritime speed boat attack on a Cuban North Shore estate where Fidel Castro’s brother Raoul ostensibly lived, hoping he was in residence, and that mission may have even taken place. The NPIC JMWAVE techs said that “Rip Robertson,” one of only two American to go ashore at the Bay of Pigs, was connected to this operation.

The other two contingency plans are much more relevant to the assassination of President Kennedy, and according to the JMWAVE NIPIC techs, was given the code name PATHFINDER.

The NPIC technicians said that they not only assisted in the contingency plan for “PATHFINDER,” supplying photos and maps of the target areas, but the PATHINDER files were kept in the NPIC section of the JMWAVE station, rather than in the station’s Operational Files, where they would normally be kept.

According to the NPIC technicians stationed at JMWAVE, PATHFINDER was a contingency plan to kill Castro with high powered rifles when he drove by in an open jeep near the Bay of Pigs, which apparently became somewhat of a tourist attraction and resort area after the failed invasion in April 1961. It was reported that Castro kept a boat docked there. 

While the PATHFINDER plan was, according to the NPIC techs, “disapproved” by “higher authority” (aka JFK and RFK), another, similar plan was devised to kill Castro in a sniper attack when he drove by in an open jeep to Xandau, the former North Shore Dupont estate, once owned by the Delaware Dupont family, but frequented by Castro. 


The Pathfinder operation and the CIA Pathfinder files cut right to the heart of the matter – where the plots to kill Castro coincide with what occurred at Dealey Plaza – the Dealey Plaza operation, though its significance wasn’t recognized when we first learned about Pathfinder.

Malcolm Blunt, who has spent more time roaming the JFK Records Collection at the National Archives than anyone I know, first provided me with the Pathfinder documents he uncovered.

Larry Hancock was one of the first to run down this alley and wrote about it in his book “Someone Would Have Talked”, that I reviewed at my blog and quoted extensively, but its significance still escaped close scrutiny, as it has until now.

JFKCountercoup2: Larry Hancock - "Someone Would Have Talked" ]

If JFK was killed by a deranged lone nut all by himself, then Pathfinder means nothing, but if the President was killed by his enemies in Washington, and what happened at Dealey Plaza was not only a conspiracy, but a very specific and narrowly defined covert intelligence operation, successfully conducted by a domestic anti-Communist intelligence network, then Pathfinder is the key – the code word for the off-the-shelf contingency plan to kill Fidel Castro that was redirected to JFK at Dealey Plaza.

Before getting into the specifics of the detailed Pathfinder plan for a first-class highly trained sniper to kill Castro with a single bullet to the head from a high-powered rifle as he rode by in an open jeep, as he often did, consider this:

First we begin with the statements of Warren Commission attorney Samuel Stern (who is still alive and practicing in Washington D.C.), who told the HSCA that if they had known about the CIA-Mafia plots to kill Castro they would have looked into that area thoroughly.

Stern stated that had the Commission learned of the CIA-Mafia conspiracies to assassinate Fidel Castro, “we would have gone much more into Cuba, the CIA, and the Mafia. We would have had a whole host of new avenues calling for investigation. And we would have obviously had to develop some new sources of information – other than the agency.”

And while the Warren Commission didn’t do it, and the HSCA was prevented from doing it, that doesn’t stop us from conducting such a proper investigation of the CIA plots to kill Castro that are entwined with the assassination of President Kennedy.

We first learn of these plots from Washington political columnist Jack Anderson.

Anderson’s source was John Rosselli, one of the three Mafia bosses who were originally recruited by the CIA’s Robert Mahu and "Big" Jim O’Connell.during the Eisenhower administration.

Of the three, Santo Traficante, San Giancana and Rosselli, only Rosselli was still in the CIA’s assassination game in 1963, with O'Connell having been replaced by William Harvey as Rosselli’s CIA case officer after the Bay of Pigs. .

Rosselli was one of a number of rich, partriotic Americans who financially supported teams of anti-Castro Cuban commandos that were trained at remote JMWAVE bases in south Florida. The rich Americans thought it patriotic to support the commando teams, even though they were already being financed by the CIA, but the private funding gave them an air of independence apart from the US government. (Besides Rosselli two others that I know of who supported JMWAVE commando teams were William Paley and Clare Booth Luce).

After his pal Giancana was murdered in his own home shortly before he was to testify before the HSCA, Rosselli testified in Executive Session before a Congressional Committee (Three times) and then visited Jack Anderson to tell him what he said.


At a COPA Conference in Dallas, former FBI agent and original JFK assassination investigator Bill Turner said:  "We now know to a fairly good degree of certainty what happened at Dealey Plaza. The motives were piling up - the Bay of Pigs, Cuban Missile Crisis, Vietnam, the back channel to Cuba, - the motives were piling up to the point they had to assassinate him. I think its' pretty obvious, with the compilation of the information we have today, that the mechanism of the crime came out of the allegiance between the CIA and the Mafia. They already had an assassination apparatus set up for killing Castro, and they just switched targets and killed Kennedy instead."

In narrowing down which plot was the specific plan to kill Castro that was redirected to JFK at Dealey Plaza we can  eliminate the poisons, the bazookas, the bombs and the poison pen and concentrate only on those contingency plans to kill Castro that utilize a high powered rifle to shoot Castro as he drove in an open car, just as JFK was killed. And Pathfinder fits that bill.

How you learn about such important information – the source, who gives it to you, and what the documentary records show, are all aspects of that must be considered in evaluating its significance as evidence.


We first learned about Pathfinder from our old friend at NPIC - Dino Brugioni, who we know from his books on Photo Fakery and the Cuban Missile Crisis, and his work on the Zapruder film at NPIC, on the weekend of the assassination, making the first set of briefing board.

In this MEMORANDUM FOR THE RECORD, dated 21 March 1975,

It is noted that:

1)      On 19 March, Dino A. Brugioni, Chief, Western Geographic Division (NPIC), informed me (CIA Operational Division Chief) that three personnel assigned to his division had told him that while serving at JMWAVE, Miami, Florida or in the Imagery Analysis Service in Washington during the 1960’s, they had heard references to assassination plans on Fidel Castro.

2)      On 20 March, I met with the following NPIC personnel who had either served in the Imagery Analysis Service or at JMWAVE on Cuban related problems: Gordon Duvall, Earl Shoemaker, Tom Helmke, Bruce Barrett, Reyes Ponce, George Arthur, Eugene Lydon, and William Hanlon. The purpose of this meeting was to ascertain whether their participation was related to case officer generated materials or bona fide operations.

 [Note: that's eight witnesses, not three]. 
3)      There appeared to be two plans involving Fidel Castro and an incident that may have been related to Raul Castro…….

4)      The incident involving Raul Castro was not a formalized plan. It consisted of a paramilitary raid on Santiago de Cuba harbor. There was a rumor at JMWAVE that, while exiting the harbor, Raul Castro’s home had been fired upon by a paramilitary case officer named “Rip” Robertson.

5)      To the best of my knowledge these facts represent the totality of any participation by our personnel in these matters. We have no further knowledge that the Fidel Castro operation ever advanced beyond the planning stage.

Edward S. Cates,
Chief, Imagery Exploitation Group,

While it may not have officially  “advanced beyond the planning stage” and was not implemented against the original target - Fidel Castro, Pathfinder was an off-the-shelf tactical plan that could have, and I believe was redirected to JFK at Dealey Plaza, and further analysis can prove me right or wrong, 

It appears that “Rip” Robertson’s ride-by shoot up of Raul Castro’s home had already taken place, and the two Fidel Castro operations were formalized into distinct plans that, according to the Imagery Exploitation Group at NPIC, didn’t advance beyond the planning stage.

And there were plans to kill Castro known to the NPIC techs  – two of them specifically.

According to this NPIC chief t
he plans involving Fidel, to the knowledge of our people were: 

(a)    A folder stored in the Photo interpretation area at JMWAVE contained materials relating to a plan to assassinate Castro in the Bay of Pigs resort area where he maintained a yacht and was known to vacation. The plan, possibly with the code word PATHFINDER, apparently had been disapproved and was not under active consideration at the time. Our people did not participate actively in the plan in any regard.

(b)   While assigned to the Imagery Analysis Service, a number of our photo interpreters supported Carl Jenkins of the DD/P concerning a plan to assassinate Castro at the DuPont Varadero Beach Estate, east of Havana. Castro was known to frequent the estate and the plan was to use a high powered rifle in the attempt. The photo interpretation support was restricted to providing annotated photographs and line drawings of the estate. To our knowledge, this plan also was never implemented.

In a follow up report from Joseph Seltzer at the CIA dated 8 May 1975, in response to the NPIC  inquiries regarding Carl Jenkins and PATHFINDER, Seltzer wrote:

SUBJECT : Assassination Plans Against Castro 

REFERENCE: Memorandum for the Record dated 21 March 1975 from Mr. Cates, NPIC

1.      On receipt of reference memorandum, we reviewed the official folder on Mr. Carl Jenkins, a retired Agency employee, and asked the Directorate of Operations for any available information on PATHFINDER. Both efforts were fruitless – no one in the Directorate of Operations recognized the cryptonym PATHFINDER.

2.      In our search of other files in connection with other staff activities, we came, just by chance, a reference to Pathfinder in an FBI memorandum dated 20 January 1961 concerning Frank Anthony Sturgis. We are unable to offer any speculation, reasonable or otherwise, on its significance in this memorandum or in the NPIC memorandum.

Because these were "in house" agency communications between one division of the CIA and another, and was not shared with the Church Intelligence Committee, the "official folder on Mr. Carl Jenkins" that was reviewed was not subject to the JFK Act and is not in the JFK Collection at the National Archives and available to the public. And because Jenkins is still alive, it is not subject to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). But because Jenkins is still alive, we can and will try to interview him. 

Three years later, on June 20, 1978, the second chief counsel to the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) G. Robert Blakey, wrote to Mr. Scott Brekenridge, Principal Co-cordinator between the HSCA and the Office of Legislative Counsel, Central Intelligence Agency, asking a series of requests for documentary records. 

“In connection with its investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of President Kennedy, the House Select Committee on Assassinations requests access to the following information:

1.      Any and all reports and documents, including indices and records under any pseudonyms, concerning or referring to Jose Luis Romero. Romero is believed to be a pseudonym. Romero reportedly served in the French military in Algeria in the 1950’s and worked with American intelligence. He was reportedly also an agent of the French secret military organization O.A.S.

2.      Any and all reports or documents concerning or referring to any French nationals or citizens involved in plots or conspiracies to assassinate President Kennedy or Fidel Castro.

3.      Any and all reports or documents concerning or referring to PIERRE OWEN DIEZ DE URE. Ure is reportedly a French national who lived in Cuba in the early 1960’s and assisted American intelligence.

4.      Any and all documents concerning or referring to VALENTIN VASILEVICH BAKULIN. Served at Soviet Embassy in Mexico City in 1959. Referred to in FBI files on Norman Rothman.

5.      Any and all documents concerning or referring to OPERATION PROUDFOOT, including indices.
6.      Any and all documents concerning or referring to OPERATION PATHFINDER, including all indices.
7.      Any and all documents concerning or referring to JAGGERS-CHILES-STOVALL CORP. in Dallas, Texas.
8.      Any and all documents concerning or referring to RICARDO MORALES-NAVARETTE, aka Ricardo Navarette-Morales.

Sincerely, G. Robert Blakey, Chief Counsel and Director HSCA

On 14 July, 1978, Marvin L. Smith, Chief, Operations Group, responded to the HSCA Requests of 20 June 1978.

A.    (S) An intensive search of the files and indices of this Directorate revealed the following information on the individuals and organizations listed in the referenced request, which, unless otherwise indicated, is being forwarded to your Office. Since birthdates were not provided on the individuals, some of the information may not pertain to them.

1.      Jose Luis Romero  - No information
2.      French nationals or citizens involved in plots to assassinate President Kennedy or Fidel Castro – No information.
3.      Pierre Owen Diez de Ure – (a) 201-0327950 (copy)  (b) UFGA-06154 (copy)
4.      Valentin Vasilevich Bakulin – 2 files
5.      Operation Proudfood – No information
6.      Operation Pathfinder – No information
7.      Jaggers-Chiles Stovall Corp. – CI staff has a reference to Chiles and Stoval, Inc., which leads to a document dated 31 January, 1964, filed in 201-189248 (Lee Harvey Oswald) on temporary charge to CI./EXO.
8.      Ricardo MORALES- NAVARETTE, aka Ricardo NAVARETTE-MORALES – 18 files – (a) 201-0285923 (on temporary charge to Barbara Soderquist, CI/EXO) with the others being: DBF-BELL-DIR-HKH-DBA-DCE-DBD-DBC and CSCI files.

B.     (U) Re: Third Party….
C.     (U) It has been determined that none of the individuals listed in the referenced request has been the subject of an FOIA or PA request.

Marvin L. Smith


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