The latest from Havana... and some of the samo , samo from D.C.

Charles Brown CharlesB at
Fri May 4 09:33:11 MDT 2001

Memos disclose US cold-war plot to frame Castro

Michael Ellison in New York
Thursday May 3, 2001
The Guardian

As a pretext for invading Cuba in the heyday of the cold war, American military
leaders devised plans to blow up an empty US navy ship, issue a bogus list of
casualties and blame Fidel Castro, according to secret papers cited in a new history
of the National Security Agency.
"Sabotage ship in harbour; large fires, naphthalene [explosive chemical compound],"
says a Pentagon memo. "Sink ship near harbour entrance. Conduct funeral for mock

The idea was an element in a wider scheme that "may be the most corrupt plan ever
created by the US government", asserts James Bamford, who wrote Body of Secrets about
the NSA, the surveillance organisation said to be the largest of its kind in the

The Pentagon document was drawn up 11 months after the failure of the Bay of Pigs
invasion in April 1961 by 1,500 anti-Castro expatriates trained by the CIA. More than
100 were killed; the rest surrendered.

The anonymous Pentagon official's idea of sinking the boat was part of a broader plan
to swing American sentiment in favour of an attack on the island. The book says the
memo was written on the orders of Brigadier-General William Craig, who was involved
in Operation Mongoose, an attempt to remove Fidel Castro by sabotage and disruption.

The memo was submitted to the five-member joint chiefs of staff, whose chairman,
General Lyman Lemnitzer, recommended it to the defence secretary, Robert McNamara.

"We could develop a communist Cuban terror campaign in the Miami area, in other
Florida cities and even in Washington," said the chiefs of staff. "The terror
campaign could be pointed at Cuban refugees seeking haven in the United States.

"We could blow up a US ship in Guantanamo Bay [the American military base in Cuba]
and blame Cuba. Casualty lists in US newspapers would cause a helpful wave of
national indignation."

Mr McNamara denies seeing such plans. "It makes no sense. There were contingency
plans, yes, but there are contingency plans to invade the moon."

Other ideas included: accusing the Cubans of using electronic interference to
sabotage the 1962 mission of astronaut John Glenn, if his launch into orbit were to
fail; downing a remote-controlled unmanned plane over Cuba and blaming Havana's
forces; and persuading anti-communist islanders to stage riots and attacks on the
Guantanamo base.

Later the joint chiefs even suggested attacking Jamaica or Trinidad and Tobago and
making it look as if the Cubans were responsible, hoping this might force Britain
into a war on President Castro to protect Commonwealth members.

"We could sink a boatload of Cubans en route to Florida (real or simulated)," says a
document. "We could foster attempts on lives of Cubans in the United States, even to
the extent of wounding in instances to be widely publicised."

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