Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Seven Days In LeMay

By William Kelly


Was the assassination of President Kennedy the act of a deranged loner, a group of renegade covert operators and mobsters or a full fledged coup d’etat?

That is the question. 

Seton Hall film Professor Christopher Sharrett addressed the issue years ago when he wrote, “We should not view the assassination as a coup in the traditional sense --- obviously there was no imposition of martial law, no prolonged period of bloodletting (discounting murdered witnesses and such). Such a blow against the public would have been intolerable in a major Western democracy after European fascism, and the issue in any event was not about suppressing a popular movement…, but about resolving a disagreement within the state at a time when financial stakes were extremely high.”

With the impending release of JFK assassination records in 2017, Sharrett was asked what he thought would be in the files and replied: “For any organization, if they’re smart, they don’t put their most volatile stuff in the filing cabinet. If you take the trouble to carry out a killing at that level of state, you won’t leave anything behind with a file saying – here’s the way we set it up.” 

IF it was a full fledged coup then there should be evidence of it among the mass of government documents released under the JFK Act, even if they were stripped to the frame like Oliver Stone’s Mercedes. And it would be reflected in the words, behavior and actions of the principle characters, all of whom we know because if it was a coup, the primary suspects are certainly limited to those who took over the government and changed national policy. We know who they are.

There are those who say that the conspiracy to kill the president was conducted by a group of “renegade” covert operators and mobsters, as portrayed in movies “Executive Action” and Oliver Stone’s “JFK,” while those who lean towards the full fledged coup scenario say that “Seven Days in May” is a more accurate movie model of what actually occurred.

In October 1962, shortly before the Cuban Missile Crisis, President Kennedy read the novel by Fletcher Knebel and Charles W. Bailey II, related to it, and approved of John Frankenheimer making the movie, allowing them to film a riot scene outside the White House and some scenes inside the White House when he wasn’t there. While the movie was filmed during the Kennedy administration, it wasn't released until 1964.

Kirk Douglas as US Marine Col. "Jiggs" Casey and Burt Lancaster as General Scott. 

Staring Burt Lancaster as the right-wing Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General James Mattoon Scott, the movie has Kirk Douglas as his adjunct US Marine Colonel “Jiggs” Casey, while Frederick March is a liberal, unpopular President who signed a nuclear test ban treaty with the Ruskies. Kirk Douglas had a lot to do with making sure the movie got done. 

Rod Serling, of Twilight Zone fame, wrote the riveting screenplay, and also became involved in the assassination investigation when someone impersonating him wrote letters to major publications. 

JFK talked about the possibility of a military coup d’etat in America on at least two occasions, once with journalist Joseph Alsop and the other with his old Navy shipmate Red Fay. Of a military coup JFK said: “It could happen If there was an incident like the Bay of Pigs, and a crisis like the Cuban Missile Crisis. It could happen if there was a third similar event.” 
And there was – the Top Secret Back channel negotiations with Cuban Premier Fidel Castro that were on-going at the time of the assassination. 

JFK adviser and historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. said that if the anti-Castro Bay of Pigs Cubans knew JFK was negotiating with Castro it would be enough to motivate them to kill. And the fact the negotiations were going on between JFK and Castro was revealed to the anti-Castro Cubans by Henry Cabot Lodge, JFK’s Republican Ambassador to Vietnam. 

So JFK’s three requirements for a military coup were met.

To continue the Seven Days in May analogy, the fictional General Scott is more akin to Air Force Chief of Staff General Curtis LeMay than it is to General Maxwell Taylor, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who JFK brought out of retirement to lead the military arm of government after he read a book that Taylor wrote critical of the prevailing military strategy, “The Uncertain Trumpet” (Jan. 1960).  

As Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Taylor replaced General Lyman Louis Lemnitzer, who had been appointed by President Eisenhower in October 1960. Whethering the failure of the Bay of Pigs, Lemnitzer established the U.S. Strike Command in 1961 on the recommendation of Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara, and the Special Studies Group to advise the Joint Chiefs.  But after disagreeing with the President over the use of special forces and counter-insurgency operations over the regular army, and advocating a “false flag” –Northwoods fake instigation to invade Cuba – ala the USS Maine, Lemnitzer was not re-appointed but demoted to Commander in Chief of the US European Command (CINCEUR), where he served until 1969. In retirement Lemnitzer served on the 1975 Commission on CIA Activitie within the United States and on the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. 

Becoming the fifth Chief of Staff of the Air Force in 1961, LeMay’s basic biography notes that “LeMay clashed repeatedly with Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, Air Force Secretary Eugene Zuckert, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army General Maxwell Taylor,” to say nothing of his tangles with President Kennedy.

After pleading ignorance of the CIA’s plans for the Bay of Pigs, objecting to the use of ICBMs instead of B-52 bombers to deliver nuclear weapons, arguing against the combined Air Force-Navy TFX fighter-bomber and otherwise ignoring the orders of the Secretary of Defense and Secretary of the Air Force, LeMay was infuriated with Kennedy that during the Cuban Missile Crisis the unanimous advice of the Joint Chiefs to bomb the Soviet missiles in Cuba and invade the island was ignored, and a peaceful resolution obtained.

LeMay compared the resolution to Munich, when the President's father supported appeasement with Hitler in order to avoid an unavoidable World War. 

In the heat of the Cuban Missile crisis, in a meeting in the Oval Office, LeMay told JFK that “Mr. President - you are in a pretty bad fix.” After the President asked LeMay to repeat the remark, he told LeMay, “Well, you are in it with me!”

After one conversation with LeMay JFK said, “And we call ourselves human beings.” After another he said he didn’t want to see LeMay again.

JFK knew the true feelings of LeMay and the Joint Chiefs because after one heated meeting he left the room but left the recording devices on, so he later heard their unabashed feelings towards him.

The movie “Thirteen Days,” staring Kevin Costner, accurately portrays LeMay during the crisis, and serves as a sort of a prequel to the assassination movies “Executive Action” and “JFK.”

While Burt Lancaster does look a lot like Gen. Maxwell Taylor as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and LeMay’s pudgy, bull dog looks are portrayed well in “Thirteen Days,” LeMay did serve for awhile as the temporary chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff when General Taylor was sent to Vietnam on a special mission for the President.

And it was while LeMay served as temporary chair on September 25, 1963 when the CIA’s Desmond FitzGerald briefed the Joint Chiefs on the need for U.S. military support for CIA covert operations, especially in Cuba.

The man responsible for such military assistance to the CIA was US Marine General “Brut” Krulak, whose official title was Assistant Chief Counter-Insurgency and Special Activities. Krulak knew JFK from the South Pacific during World War II when Kennedy’s PT-109 helped rescue one of Krulak’s marine units from a Japanese occupied island under fire, as portrayed in the movie “PT-109.”

Krulak then promised Lt. Kennedy a bottle of whiskey but didn’t deliver it until after hours at the White House, where they toasted their mutual veteran heritage.

Krulak’s adjunct, Colonel Walter Higgins attended the meeting of the JCS when FitzGerald briefed them on the CIA’s covert Cuban operations, taking detailed notes that survived the purge of many similar records. U.S. Marine Colonel Higgins may even be considered comparable to Marine Colonel “Jiggs” Casey, who became suspicious a military coup was in the works.

One disassociated fact that Higgins tells us about is the CIA’s “detailed study” of the July 20, 1944 Valkyrie plot to kill Hitler, actually a continuity of government coup that was planned in advance in detail.

One of Higgins’ memo bullet points says: “He (FitzGerald) 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.”

FitzGerald said that “this plot is being studied in detail” – yet, when Washington D.C. FOIA attorneys Jim Lesar and Dan Alcorn requested this detailed study, the CIA was unable to locate any reference to the July 20, 1944 German military plot to kill Hitler, but when sued in civil court, they came up with a single document from 1954 that blamed the failure of the plot on communists.

In applying Professor Peter Dale Scott’s “Negative Template” theory – that the most significant records were destroyed, missing or still being withheld – the CIA’s “detailed study” of the Valkyrie plot to kill Hitler must then certainly be significant. 

Although the German military plot to kill Hitler and take over the Nazi government was not successful when the bomb failed to kill Hitler, the CIA was studying it in detail and apparently using the German military coup plan to “develop an approach” to use against Castro, a study they have since lost.

While the CIA had trouble finding disgruntled Cuban military officers to stage a coup and possibly kill Castro, that wasn’t a problem in the U.S. military, as the Joint Chiefs of Staff were united in their opposition to the President, his policies and his plans.

As Colonel “Jiggs” Casey put together the facts as he saw them, indicating there was some shenanigans in the works, General Scott sent him on vacation, much like Col. Fletcher Prouty felt like he was being sent off to Antarctica to be away from the Pentagon when JFK was killed.

And just as Gene Wheaton visited CIA director William Casey to inform him of the Iran-Contra scandal before it became public knowledge, Colonel “Jiggs” Casey goes to the Oval Office to inform the President of his suspicions. While Wheaton realized that Casey was in on the deal, the Hollywood President gives him a listen. When the President asks him to get to the point, Jiggs says, “I’m not sure, Mr. President, just some possibilities, what we call, uh ‘capabilities’ in military intelligence. I’m suggesting, Mr. President, there’s a military plot to take over the government.”

One of the tips "Jiggs" discovers is a bet among the top brass on the Preakness horse race, a cover code for the coup.

As the admiral who refused to make a bet was told: “The bet is that there are members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who are involved in treason. We know who they are, we know the essence of the plan. Now from you, Admiral, I want a signed statement indicating at what moment you first heard of this operation and your complicity in the entire matter.”

And ala the Preakness bet used as a cover for the coup messages, there was a bet in the JFK assassination narrative as well, one that could have a bearing on uncovering the essence of the conspiracy and coup.

Desmond FitzGerald                                  
Rolando Cubella (AMLASH) 


As the CIA officer responsible for covert operations against Cuba, Des FitzGerald was the person who briefed the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the CIA's "detailed" study of the Valkyrie plot to kill Hitler. FitzGerald was also the case officer for Rolando Cubela (AMLASH), one of the military officers they were recruiting to kill Castro. So it is interesting that FitzGerald, like the military officers in the fictional "Seven Days in May" used a bet and a gamble on the Preakness stakes as a way of communicating their willingness to go along with the coup plans. 

In “The Very Best Men” – Four Who Dared: The Early Years of the CIA" Evan Thomas writes: “…Halpern, FitzGerald’s assistant, regarded him (Cubela) as an assassin and claims that FitzGerald did as well.” 

It just so happens that Cubela had an apartment near Veradero, on the northern shore of Cuba where Castro was known to visit frequently. Cubela’s apartment was to be the staging area and sniper’s perch from where the Pathfinder snipers were to shoot Castro in the head with a high powered rifle as he rode by in an open jeep.

Sam Halpern: “Des was really more interested in starting a coup, and he hoped that Cubela could organize other army officers. But in coups, he understood, people die. The way to start a coup is to knock off the top man. Des felt it was a long shot, but it might work. We were desperate. Des was willing to try anything.” 

Evan Thomas writes: “FitzGerald did not think it was such a long shot that he was unwilling to make a small bet, giving reasonable odds.”

“Just six days before he formally signed off on a high-powered rifle for AMLASH (Cubela),” writes Thomas, Fitzgerald, “accepted a little wager from Michael Forrestal, an official on the National Security Council staff who was a member of the Georgetown crowd (his father, James V. Forrestal, had been the first secretary of defense). A memo in FitzGerald’s personal files records a $50 bet with Forrestal on ‘the fate of Fidel Castro during the period 1 August 1964 and 1 October 1964. (Apparently, Fitzgerald saw a window of vulnerability for the Cuban leader that was roughly coincidental with the 1964 U.S. presidential election campaign.)”

“Mr. Forrestal offers two-to-one odds ($100 to $50) against Fidel’s falling (or being pushed) between the dates 1 August and 1 October 1964. In the event that such a thing should occur prior to 1 August 1964 the wager herein cancelled. Mr. FitzGerald accepts the wager on the above terms.”

The memo is dated November 13, 1963, “One day after FitzGerald briefed Kennedy on the progress of the Cuban operation and one day before the Special Group approved his plan of continued covert operations against the Castro Regime.”

Thomas: “Nine days later the assassination of John F. Kennedy dramatically increased the odds that FitzGerald would lose his bet.”

There was no way that Castro was going to be killed while the President was engaged in direct back channel negotiations with him. 

“Higher Authority” had “disapproved” the Pathfinder plan to shoot Castro when he driving in an open jeep on his way to Veradero. And those who were planning on redirecting the Pathfinder plan to JFK in Dallas needed Castro alive on November 22, 1963 because the plan called for what was thought to be acknowledged as a multiple gunman ambush and conspiracy to be blamed on Castro and Cuban Communists.

And on November 22, Castro was hosting French journalist Jean Daniel at his Veradero retreat when word of the assassination came in.

According to Thomas, “On November 22, 1963, Des FitzGerald had just finished hosting a lunch for an old friend of the CIA, a foreign diplomat, at the City Tavern Club in Georgetown, when he was summoned from the private dining room by the maître d’. FitzGerald returned ‘as white as a ghost,’ recalled Sam Halpern. Normally erect and purposeful, FitzGerald was walking slowly, with his head down. ‘The President has been shot,’ he said.”

“The lunch immediately broke up. On the way out the door Halpern anxiously said, ‘I hope this has nothing to do with Cubans.’ FitzGerald mumbled, ‘Yea, well, we’ll see.’ In the fifteen minute car ride back to Langley, FitzGerald just stared straight ahead. He was well aware that in Paris, at almost the moment Kennedy was shot in Dallas, one of his case officers had been handing a poison pen to a Cuban agent to kill Castro. It was at the very least a grim coincidence. FitzGerald knew that, in September, Castro threatened to retaliate against attempts to kill him. ‘United States leaders should think that if they are aiding in terrorist plans to eliminate Cuban leaders, they themselves will not be safe,’ the Cuban leader had publicly declared.”

“The warning that Cubela might be a ‘dangle,’ that he might be secretly working for Castro, took on an ominous new meaning. Now FitzGerald had to wonder: Had Castro killed Kennedy before Kennedy could kill him?” 

Or more likely, as William Turner has suggested, one of the plans to kill Castro was turned on Kennedy at Dealey Plaza.

Then, in the immediate aftermath of the assassination, as no “Jiggs” came forward to halt the operation, another potential “Jiggs” appears as General LeMay’s adjunct Colonel Dorman, who like “Jiggs,” and Fletcher Prouty, was kept out of the loop. He couldn’t even get in contact with his boss, who was in the nuclear chain of command, to give him an important message.

While we don’t yet know exactly where LeMay was at the time of the assassination, we do know that he was incommunicado, much like General Scott wanted the President to go with him to a remote, nuclear proof bunker that would place him out of contact with everyone.

Although the details have yet to be determined, I think that it can be said with some authority that the death of the president was not the result of a lone gunman or a group of rogue covert operatives and mobsters, as portrayed by Hollywood in “Executive Action” and “JFK.”

But rather, the more we learn the more it appears that the assassination of the President was a full fledged coup d’etat, more like “Seven Days in LeMay,” and that we know there were high level officials and military officers engaged in treason, we know who they are, and we know the essence of the plan. We are just now figuring out the sad details. And as Christopher Sharrett put it, it wasn't a typical coup, but "about resolving a disagreement within the state when stakes were extremely high." 

William Kelly – Wednesday, December 25, 2019.
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Brandon said...

William, I've seen you break down how the Valkyrie template was originally applied to Castro, and you have laid out a few ways that it was applied to Dallas, but could you be specific?

nothing in writing, a code name that only those in the loop identify, Reserve units doing most of the coordinating, control of communications, a thorough propaganda job placing blame, and the actual mechanics completing the job... am I missing something? JFK signed off on AMWORLD programs... is that what turned into Dealey Plaza or did he approve something domestic that provided cover for all conspirators?

Also, who do you see as the main orchestrator? It seems like you are leaning towards LeMay... do you see him overseeing the plan while someone like Jake Esterline, Ed Lansdale, or Hal Feeney deals with the specifics?

Idon't blog, just read said...

Excellent. Some of the tie ins with films such as Seven Days In May-Manchurian Candidate -Suddenly, and The Tall Target, with Dick Powell as a Treasury Agent named John Kennedy breaking up a plot to kill Lincoln are astonishing. In JFK, it is mentioned that the Cabinet is out of the country at the time of the Assassination. With your last couple of posts this really has me thinking about Henry Cabot Lodge, Douglas Dillon, which there are a few suspicious things on each, but also Sec. Of Agriculture Orville Freeman. I've never heard anything suspicious in regard to him, yet at that time there was massive corruption in the Agriculture Dept., and at least one Murder Henry Marshall, that we know of for sure, and this could not be exposed by RFK's probe into Billie Sol Estes, otherwise Freeman is going down.