New book sheds light on U.S. terror plan against Cuba

magellan magellan at
Sat Sep 29 09:57:53 MDT 2001

This is just a small chapter about the myriad covert operations and not so
covert ones of imperialism all over Latin America since the post-Cuban
Revolution era...  In the great majority of the cases they counted with
either the support or the omission of the Armed Forces of the continent.
And now, in these current times of the Colombia Plan and of the spreading
of military bases in South America, which had never existed even during the
height of Cold War?  (exception made to World War II).

[]s, Roberto


New book on NSA sheds light on secret
U.S. terror plan called Cuba invasion pretext

Copyright 2001, The Baltimore Sun

Originally published April 24, 2001

By Scott Shane and Tom Bowman, Sun Staff

WASHINGTON - U.S. military leaders proposed in 1962 a secret
plan to commit terrorist acts against Americans and blame
Cuba to create a pretext for invasion and the ouster of
Communist leader Fidel Castro, according to a new book about
the National Security Agency.

"We could develop a Communist Cuban terror campaign in the
Miami area, in other Florida cities and even in Washington,"
said one document reportedly prepared by the Joint Chiefs of
Staff. "We could blow up a U.S. ship in Guantanamo Bay and
blame Cuba," the document says. "Casualty lists in U.S.
newspapers would cause a helpful wave of indignation."

The plan is laid out in documents signed by the five Joint
Chiefs but never carried out, according to writer James
Bamford in "Body of Secrets." The new history of the Fort
Meade-based eavesdropping agency is being released today by

NSA regularly picks up the conversations of suspected
terrorist financier Osama bin Laden, says Bamford, and has
monitored Chinese and French companies trying to sell
missiles to Iran. He provides new details about an Israeli
attack on a Navy eavesdropping ship in 1967, suggesting that
the sinking was deliberate. And he reveals the loss of an
"entire warehouse" full of secret cryptographic gear to the
North Vietnamese in 1975, at the end of the Vietnam War.

Bamford, a former investigative reporter for ABC News who
wrote "The Puzzle Palace" about the NSA in 1982, said his
new book is based mostly on documents obtained through the
Freedom of Information Act or found in government archives.
"NSA never handed me any documents," he said. "It was a
question of digging."

He said he was most surprised by the anti-Cuba terror plan,
code-named Operation Northwoods. It "may be the most corrupt
plan ever created by the U.S. government," he writes.

The Northwoods plan also proposed that if the 1962 launch of
John Glenn into orbit were to fail, resulting in the
astronaut's death, the U.S. government would publicize
fabricated evidence that Cuba had used electronic
interference to sabotage the flight, the book says.

A previously secret document obtained by Bamford offers
further suggestions for mayhem to be blamed on Cuba.

"We could sink a boatload of Cubans en route to Florida
(real or simulated). ... We could foster attempts on lives
of Cubans in the United States, even to the extent of
wounding in instances to be widely publicized," the document
says. Another idea was to shoot down a CIA plane designed to
replicate a passenger flight and announce that Cuban forces
shot it down.

Citing a White House document, Bamford writes that the idea
of creating a pretext for the invasion of Cuba might have
started with President Dwight D. Eisenhower in the last
weeks of his administration, when the plan for an invasion
by Cuban exiles trained in the United States was hatched.
Carried out in April 1961, soon after Kennedy became
president, the Bay of Pigs invasion proved a fiasco.
Castro's forces quickly killed or rounded up the invaders.

Army Gen. Lyman L. Lemnitzer, chairman of the Joint Chiefs,
presented the Operation Northwoods plan to Kennedy early in
1962, but the president rejected it that March because he
wanted no overt U.S. military action against Cuba. Lemnitzer
then sought unsuccessfully to destroy all evidence of the
plan, according to Bamford.

Lemnitzer and those who served with him in 1962 as chiefs of
the nation's military branches are dead. But two former top
Kennedy administration officials said yesterday that they
were unaware of Operation Northwoods and questioned whether
such a plan was ever drafted.

"I've never heard of Operation Northwoods. Never heard of it
and don't believe it," said Theodore Sorenson, Kennedy's
White House special counsel. "Obviously, it would be totally
illegal as well as totally unwise."

Robert S. McNamara, Kennedy's defense secretary, said: "I
never heard of it. I can't believe the chiefs were talking
about or engaged in what I would call CIA-type operations."

Bamford writes that besides the Joint Chiefs, then-Assistant
Secretary of Defense Paul H. Nitze also favored "provoking a
phony war with Cuba."

"There may be a piece of paper" on Northwoods, said
McNamara. "I just cannot conceive of Nitze approving
anything like that or doing it without talking to me."

The book contains many other revelations in its detailed
account of NSA, the biggest U.S. intelligence agency and
Maryland's largest employer, with more than 25,000 personnel
at Fort Meade, site of its global eavesdropping efforts.

Among them:

In recent years, NSA has regularly listened to bin Laden's
unencrypted telephone calls. Agency officials have sometimes
played tapes of bin Laden talking to his mother to impress
members of Congress and select visitors to the agency.

In the late 1990s, NSA tracked efforts by Chinese and French
companies to sell missile technology to Iran, particularly
the C-802 anti-ship missile. The eavesdropping led to U.S.
protests to the Chinese and French governments.

When U.S. troops evacuated Vietnam in 1975, "an entire
warehouse overflowing with NSA's most important
cryptographic machines and other supersensitive code and
cipher materials" was left behind. It was the largest
compromise of such equipment in U.S. history, Bamford
writes, but the agency still has not acknowledged it.

When Israeli fighter jets attacked the NSA eavesdropping
ship USS Liberty in the Mediterranean in 1967, killing 34
Americans and wounding 171, an NSA aircraft was listening in
and heard Israeli pilots referring to the American flag on
the ship. U.S. officials, including President Lyndon Baines
Johnson, decided to forget the matter, Bamford writes,
because they did not want to embarrass Israel. To this day,
Israeli officials say their forces mistakenly attacked the
U.S. ship.

Bamford says the reason for the strike was Israel's
desperate effort to cover up its attacks on the Egyptian
town of El Arish in the Sinai. The Liberty was sitting
offshore and the Israelis feared that the ship would detect
the operation, which included the shooting of prisoners.

Yesterday, an NSA spokesperson questioned a point made in
the book about the USS Liberty.

"We do not comment on operational matters, alleged or
otherwise; however, Mr. Bamford's claim that the NSA
leadership was `virtually unanimous in their belief that the
attack was deliberate' is simply not true," the spokesperson

When he wrote "The Puzzle Palace" in 1982, Bamford was
attacked by some NSA officials, who said his revelations
gave the Soviet Union and other U.S. adversaries too much
information on the secret agency. One former director
referred to him as "an unconvicted felon."

With the end of the Cold War, the agency has been less
guarded. NSA's current director, Air Force Lt. Gen. Michael
V. Hayden, has granted a number of interviews. Hayden
"cracked the door open a tiny bit," said Bamford, partly to
burnish NSA's public image and correct misconceptions.

Sun staff writer Laura Sullivan contributed to this article.

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