Wednesday, March 19, 2008

CASTRO and JFK: Plot and Counterplot

CASTRO and JFK: Plot and Counterplot
Posted February 29, 2008
By Kenn Thomas

After Fidel Castro stepped down as Cuban dictator, CNN’s post on the fanciful US assassination plots against him included the following:

Project Amlash-Rolando Cubela. Cubela, whose code name was Amlash, was a member of Castro’s inner circle from the beginning. He had become disenchanted and made contact with the CIA as early as 1961. Nestor Sanchez, his CIA case officer, was meeting with Cubela in Paris when President Kennedy was killed in Dallas, Texas, November 22, 1963. Sanchez provided Cubela that day — at Cubela’s request — a poison pen-syringe to be used either on Castro or on himself, in case of a failed attempt. Nothing happened. As CIA covert operations against Castro began winding down, the Agency put Cubela in touch with Manuel Artime, the exiled chief of a 300-member, CIA-funded exile guerrilla army operating for Central America. The joint Artime- Cubela plan was for Cubela to assassinate Castro when he gave his annual July 26, 1965, speech at Varadero, a beach resort on Cuba’s north coast. The assassination would coincide with a seaborne invasion by Artime’s forces with the presumed support of several Cuban army officers in the area. The operation was canceled in late June 1965 after it became compromised.

Here’s what I have to say about Rolando Cubela in my latest book, Conspiracy Files (Murdoch Books, Australia):

Following America’s failed invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs on April 15, 1961, President John F. Kennedy set plans in motion to overthrow Fidel Castro by covert means. The project was named “Operation Mongoose,” and was put under the charge of Brigadier General Edward Lansdale.

Along with Brigadier General William Craig, Lansdale initiated a series of projects intended to discredit Castro, which are alleged to have included faking evidence to suggest Castro’s forces had sabotaged Florida space launches, and of a planned attack on the U.S. military base at Guantanamo Bay.

Some of Lansdale’s projects may have originated in conversations he had with JFK, and some researchers conclude that the president may have given his approval to plans to kill Castro.

The Cuban dictator made a clear effort to connect these plots with official U.S. government policy. There is some evidence that he was successful: On the very day that a potential Castro assassin, Rolando Cubela, was to have a meeting at CIA headquarters, Castro made a public statement from the Brazilian embassy, where Cubela had met with a U.S. contact on a previous occasion. This choice of location and timing suggests that Castro knew more than he was admitting about the plots against him, and about their origins in the White House.

Further evidence of Castro’s growing enmity with JFK came in an interview with Associate Press reporter Daniel Harker on September 7, 1963, when he said, “United States leaders should think that if they are aiding terrorist plans to eliminate Cuban leaders, they themselves will not be safe.”

CIA apologists have long held that this threat suggests Castro was involved in JFK’s assassination. It seems more likely, however, that Castro was simply alerting Washington to his knowledge of Operation Mongoose. It is now thought that Cubela, Castro’s supposed potential assassin, may in fact have been a double agent on assignment from Havana to find out where the responsibility for the plots ended.

According to some, a back-channel diplomatic rapprochement had been taking place between Kennedy and Castro. If this is true, it suggests that Castro came to believe that responsibility for Operation Mongoose did not reach all the way to the top, but rested with a Pentagon intelligence cell that included Lansdale and Craig. In that case, involvement of the Cuban leader in the death of JFK must be considered extremely unlikely.

Kenn Thomas

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