THE BAY OF PIGS FAILED MISERABLY, but the CIA and the Joint Chiefs of Staff still desperately wanted to provoke a full-scale war with Cuba. In response to the disastrous April 1961 CIA-led operation, President Kennedy signed National Security Action Memos (NSAMs) 55, 56 and 57. These NSAMs took the planning of paramilitary (covert) operations out of the hands of the CIA and placed it in the hands of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS). Kennedy assumed by doing this, he would have more visibility and control of the planning process during peacetime and wouldn’t be taken off guard as he had been during the Bay of Pigs catastrophe.
Enter Air Force General Ed Lansdale. Lansdale was a longtime member of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and had performed numerous operations with the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) during WWII and later on the CIA. By 1962, he was already deeply involved with inciting unrest in Vietnam. The bigger prize at that point however was Cuba. Working closely with William Harvey of the CIA, Lansdale developed “Operation Mongoose,” a series of covert operations in Cuba designed to cause civil unrest, incite violence and ultimately eliminate Fidel Castro.
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Building off of Operation Mongoose, Chairman of the JCS, General Lyman Lemnitzer — also of the CFR — proposed a series of false flag incidents under the title of Operation Northwoods. Operation Northwoods was declassified in the late 1990s, and what it entails is both shocking and disturbing.
This plan, which had been approved by all the Joint Chiefs, was forwarded for approval to Defense Secretary Robert McNamara and President in Kennedy in March 1962. It proposed a series of attacks on American soil and to American citizens that would quickly be blamed on Fidel Castro, thus justifying an attack on Cuba.
Here are some of the actions recommended in the Operation Northwoods memo:
- Lob mortar shells from outside of [Guantanamo] base into base. Some damage to installations.
- Sabotage ship in harbor; large fires — naphthalene.
- Sink ship near harbor entrance. Conduct funerals for mock-victims (may be in lieu of (above)).
- A “Remember the Maine” incident could be arranged in several forms: a. We could blow up a US ship in Guantanamo Bay and blame Cuba. b. We could blow up a drone (unmanned) vessel anywhere in the Cuban waters. We could arrange to cause such incident in the vicinity of Havana or Santiago as a spectacular result of Cuban attack from the air or sea, or both. The presence of Cuban planes or ships merely investigating the intent of the vessel could be fairly compelling evidence that the ship was taken under attack. The nearness to Havana or Santiago would add credibility especially to those people that might have heard the blast or have seen the fire. The US could follow up with an air/sea rescue operation covered by US fighters to “evacuate” remaining members of the non-existent crew. Casualty lists in US newspapers would cause a helpful wave of national indignation.
- We could develop a Communist Cuban terror campaign in the Miami area, in other Florida cities and even in Washington.
- An aircraft at Eglin AFB would be painted and numbered as an exact duplicate for a civil registered aircraft belonging to a CIA proprietary organization in the Miami area. At a designated time the duplicate would be substituted for the actual civil aircraft and would be loaded with the selected passengers, all boarded under carefully prepared aliases. The actual registered aircraft would be converted to a drone.
Those are just a few of many false flag operations proposed by the Joint Chiefs. The document in its entirety can be found here. Needless to say, upon hearing these plans Kennedy exploded. From the presidential notes of March 16, 1962:
General Lemnitzer commented that the military had contingency plans for U.S. intervention. Also it had plans for creating plausible pretexts to use force, with the pretext either attacks on U.S. aircraft or a Cuban action in Latin America for which we could retaliate. The President said bluntly that we were not discussing the use of military force, that General Lemnitzer might find the U.S. so engaged in Berlin or elsewhere that he couldn’t use the contemplated 4 divisions in Cuba.
If not for the president’s resolve and growing distrust of military leaders, the U.S. would likely have found itself in a war against Cuba, which by proxy could have meant a war with the USSR. Shortly after this preposterous idea was presented, Kennedy fired Lemnizter as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. Ed Lansdale would later be suspected of being involved in the assassination of JFK.
Those who would say “It could never happen here” need only to look to Operation Northwoods for definitive evidence to the contrary. The intelligence community and the military-industrial complex were ready and willing to damage American property and even hurt or kill American citizens in order to wage war. Coincidentally this plan seems oddly close to what happened in the Gulf of Tonkin incident that led to the Vietnam War….
Do you think the government would have gone through with Operation Northwoods had JFK not stopped them? Leave me a comment and let me hear your thoughts and please share this article on all social media platforms.
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