Author Topic: Castro, Cuba, and the Missile Crisis  (Read 28116 times)

TLR

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Re: Castro, Cuba, and the Missile Crisis
« Reply #15 on: July 17, 2013, 09:52:54 PM »
5/1/1963 After her lengthy interview with Fidel Castro, ABC News Anchorwoman Lisa Howard is debriefed by the CIA when she returned to the U.S. She emphasized his interest in better relations with Washington, and offered to play the role of diplomatic intermediary between the two countries. The notation "PSAW" in the top right-hand corner of the document signifies that the memorandum was read by President Kennedy. (CIA, "Interview of U.S. Newswoman with Fidel Castro Indicating Possible Interest in Rapprochement with the United States.") Each of these Castro overtures for a new U.S.-Cuban relationship was noted word for word in a secret CIA memorandum written on May 1, 1963, by the Deputy Director of Plans (head of covert action) Richard Helms, that was not declassified until 1996 . It was addressed to CIA Director John McCone. A scribbled "P saw" on the upper right-hand side of the document indicates it was read also by the president. Thus we have become witnesses to Kennedy watching the CIA watching Castro approaching Kennedy, in response to Kennedy's crackdown on the CIA's covert-action anti-Castro groups. As the increasingly interested porcupines edged toward each other very carefully, the CIA's chief of covert action was, as the president knew, monitoring very carefully their prickly courtship.

CIA briefing paper, Secret, "Interview of U.S. Newswoman with Fidel Castro Indicating Possible Interest in Rapprochement with the United States," May 1, 1963. A debriefing of Lisa Howard by CIA deputy director Richard Helms, regarding her ABC news interview with Castro and her opinion that he is "ready to discuss rapprochement." The document contains a notation, "Psaw," meaning President Kennedy read the report on Howard and Castro.

5/2/1963 The CIA tried to block the door that could be seen opening through Howard's interview. CIA Director John McCone argued that Howard's approach to Cuba "would leak and compromise a number of CIA operations against Castro. "  In a May 2, 1963, memorandum to National Security Adviser McGeorge Bundy, McCone urged that the "Lisa Howard report be handled in the most limited and sensitive manner " and "that no active steps be taken on the rapprochement matter at this time. " (Kornbluh, "JFK & Castro," p . 93)

6/5/1963 CIA transmits more than a half dozen intelligence reports indicating that Castro was interested mending the U.S.-Cuban conflict and establishing normal ties. (CIA, "Reported Desire of the Cuban Government for Rapprochement with the United States.") In a secret June 5, 1963, memorandum, Richard Helms wrote that the CIA had just received a report that, "at the request of Khrushchev, Castro was returning to Cuba with the intention of adopting a conciliatory policy toward the Kennedy administration 'for the time being. "' (Richard Helms, Memorandum for the Director of Central Intelligence on " Reported Desire of the Cuban Government for Rapprochement with the United States, " June 5, 1963; Peter Kornbluh, " Electronic Briefing Book.")

6/19/1963 Following a Special Group meeting, President Kennedy approves a new sabotage program against Cuba. Whereas OPERATION MONGOOSE was aimed at eventually sparking an internal revolt, the new program seeks a more limited objective: "to nourish a spirit of resistance and disaffection which could lead to significant defections and other by-products of unrest." Numerous sabotage efforts against important economic targets are authorized by the Special Group during the autumn of 1963, and U.S.-assisted raids and assassination plots are not completely terminated until 1965 (see entries for October 3 and 24, 1963). (Alleged Assassination Plots Involving Foreign
Leaders, 11/20/75) Note: RFK has formed close ties to several Cuban exiles: Roberto San Roman, Enrique Ruiz-Williams, and in '63, Manuel Artime. RFK 's "interference" led to arguments with Harvey (who routinely refers to the AG as "that fucker)." By this time Miami is no longer controlled by Washington. Besides Rosselli 's kill team, Operation 40, a ZR/RIFLE unit created prior to the Bay of Pigs, brought together Cuban mob henchmen like Eladio del Valle and Rolando Masferrer, soldiers of fortune like Frank Sturgis, and CIA case officers like Col. William Bishop and David Morales, who managed assassins. (Mahoney p 174-175;HSCA staff reports)

7/15/1963 Miami News Latin American editor Hal Hendrix breaks story, "Backstage With Bobby," detailing RFK 's role as the architect of the Nicaragua-based front against Castro. (Mahoney, p265; FBI memo, Re: Anti-Fidel Castro Activities Internal Security, 105-1742, 19 July, 1963, HSCA, AA) Note: This newspaper story was discussed in the Jul 16, '63 meeting of the "Standing Group": Report by Mr. FitzGerald--There was a discussion of the wide-spread press reports that the U.S. was backing Cuban exiles who are planning raids against Cuba from Central American States. One news article shown the Attorney General was headed "Backstage with Bobby" and referred to his conversations with persons involved in planning the Cuban raids./6//6/The story, by Hal Hendrix, was in the Miami Herald, July 14, 1963. In the discussion as to how to deal with the press reports, the Attorney General suggested that we could float other rumors so that in the welter of press reports no one would know the true facts. Mr. McCone agreed that it would be possible to confuse the situation in this manner. [5 lines of source text not declassified] (Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Meetings and Memoranda Series, Standing Group Meeting, 7/16/63)

Early Sept, 63 - Talks between the Cuban delegate to the UN, Lechuga, and a U.S. delegate, William Attwood, are proposed by the Cubans. RFK encourages the effort. Attwood reports regularly to the White House and to Adlai Stevenson, U.S. ambassador to the U.N. (Fonzi chronology p 421)

With Kennedy and Castro expressing mutual hostility and backing away from any dialogue during the summer, it was not until late September that the two porcupines began to resume their prickly courtship. Their renewed interest in a dialogue came about through the mediation of Lisa Howard, the ABC newswoman who had interviewed Castro in April, and William Attwood, a U.S. diplomat attached to its United Nations mission. After her return from Cuba, Lisa Howard had written an article in the journal War/Peace Report (Sep 63) on " Castro's Overture, " based on her interview with the Cuban premier. She wrote that in their private conversations Castro had been "even more emphatic about his desire for negotiations with the United States . . . In our conversations he made it quite clear that he was ready to discuss: the Soviet personnel and military hardware on Cuban soil; compensation for expropriated American lands and investments; the question of Cuba as a base for Communist subversion throughout the Hemisphere. " It was Howard who envisioned the next step . Her article urged the Kennedy administration to " send an American government official on a quiet mission to Havana to hear what Castro has to say. "

9/7/1963 Castro appeared at a Brazilian embassy reception in Havana and an impromptu interview to reporter Associated Press reporter Daniel Harker. Castro said that "Kennedy is a cretin...the Batista of his times...the most opportunistic American President of all time." He denounced recent US attacks and said, "We are prepared to fight them and answer in kind. US leaders should think that if they are aiding terrorist plans to eliminate Cuban leaders, they themselves will not be safe." (New Orleans Times-Picayune, 9/9/1963; the passage was not carried in most US newspapers, but it was in New Orleans). He added, "Yet the CIA and other dreamers believe their hopes of an insurrection or a successful guerrilla war. They can go on dreaming forever." Note: This account of the interview appeared in the Miami Herald, p. 1A on Sept 9, 1963. While other major newspapers carried the story, some did not include Castro's warning. The entire report was in the New Orleans Times-Picayune on Sept 9, '63. The individual who was the CIA "point of record" for working with the WC wrote in 1975: "There can be no question from the facts surrounding the Castro appearance, which had not been expected, and his agreement to the interview, that this event represented a more-than-ordinary attempt to get a message on the record in the US. (CIA memo 5/23/75) A CIA analyst on Cuban affairs reached a similar conclusion. (Briefing of [Senate] Select Committee staff. 1/7/76) Anthony Summers: "If Castro had really intended harm to President Kennedy, he would hardly have announced it to the press two months in advance." Every writer in this vein - Jean Davison for example - uses this reportage and none of them seem to note that Castro disputes the story as written. (HSCA interview of Castro 4/3/78) And they also fail to note that there are two stories from this Castro encounter at the Brazilian Embassy in Havana. The second one, reported by the UPI and printed in the NY Times of 9/9/63 does not say the same thing as the Harker AP story. The latter quotes Castro as saying "If US leaders are aiding terrorist plans to eliminate Cuban leaders, they themselves will not be safe. Let Kennedy and his brother Robert take care of themselves, since they too can be the victims of an attempt which will cause their death." (p. 25) The UPI fourteen-paragraph story had none of this in it. When Castro was questioned about this statement by the HSCA in 1978, he said, " I don't remember literally what I said, but I remember my intention in saying what I said and it was to warn the government that we know about the (attempted) plots against our lives . . . So, I said something like those plots start to set a very bad precedent, a very serious one-that that could become a boomerang against the authors of those actions . . . but I did not mean to threaten by that . . . I did not mean by that that we were going to take measures-similar measures-like a retaliation for that. " ("Interview of Fidel Castro Ruz, " Investigation o f the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy: Hearings before the HSCA (Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1978-79) , vol. 3, p. 216)

9/12/1963 Considering Castro 's recent statements, the Cuban Coordinating Committee meets to conduct a broad review of U.S. contingency plans. They agree there is a strong likelihood Castro will retaliate in some way against the rash of covert activity in Cuba; however an attack on the U.S. is considered unlikely. (Book V Final Report of the [Senate] Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with respect to Intelligence Activities, 4/23/76)
« Last Edit: November 08, 2013, 08:45:59 PM by TLR »

TLR

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Re: Castro, Cuba, and the Missile Crisis
« Reply #16 on: July 17, 2013, 09:54:04 PM »
9/18/1963 William Attwood, deputy U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, wrote memo for Adlai Stevenson and other U.S. officials, requesting authorization to make secret contact with Cuba's UN Ambassador Carlos Lechuga. The White House granted permission, and the first discussion took place at the New York apartment of ABC News Anchorwoman, Lisa Howard.
Journalist William Attwood memo on Cuba to the State Dept: "According to neutral diplomats and others I have talked to at the UN and in Guinea, there is reason to believe that Castro is unhappy about his present dependence on the Soviet bloc; that he does not enjoy in effect being a satellite; that the trade embargo is hurting him - though not enough to endanger his position; and that he would like to establish some official contact with the United States and go to some length to obtain normalization of relations with us...All of this may or may not be true. But it would seem that we have something to gain and nothing to lose..." (Plausible Denial p104)
"Although Castro did not like my final article in 1959, we got along well and I believe he remembers me as someone he could talk to frankly. " Attwood had also been a speechwriter for both Adlai Stevenson and John Kennedy. President Kennedy appointed him ambassador to Guinea. Attwood had known Kennedy since their school days. In the fall of 1963, William Attwood was between diplomatic assignments by JFK, serving then for a few months at the United Nations as an African affairs adviser to UN ambassador Adlai Stevenson. Attwood was in a perfect position to be JFK's point man in a secret dialogue with Castro. As he put it in his September 18 memorandum briefing Stevenson and Kennedy, "I have enough rank to satisfy Castro that this would be a serious conversation. At the same time I am not so well-known that my departure, arrival or return [to and from Cuba] would be noticed."

On September 20 President Kennedy went to New York to address the UN General Assembly. He met with Ambassador Stevenson and gave his approval for journalist William Attwood " to make discreet contact" with Dr. Carlos Lechuga, Cuba's UN ambassador, in order to explore a possible dialogue with Castro. At this point Adlai Stevenson said prophetically why he thought such a Kennedy-Castro dialogue would never be allowed to happen. "Unfortunately, " he told Attwood, "the CIA is still in charge of Cuba." Nevertheless, President Kennedy, while knowing the danger of his once again heading upstream against the CIA, had decided the time was right to begin talking with Castro. (William Attwood noted President Kennedy's September 20 approval for him to make the initial " discreet contact" with Cuba's UN ambassador Carlos Lechuga in his November 8 , 1 963, memorandum to Gordon Chase of the National Security Council staff, FR US, 1961-1963, vol. XI, p. 8 80; 90. William Attwood, The Twilight Struggle: Tales of the Cold War (New York: Harper & Row, 1987)

9/23/1963 Journalist William Attwood first met with Carlos Lechuga at a party. The two talked about having secret discussions between Havana and Washington. At a party arranged as a cover by television newscaster Lisa Howard, William Attwood meets Carlos Lechuga. Attwood tells Lechuga he is about to travel to the White House to request authorization from the president to meet secretly with Premier Castro. The meeting's purpose would be to discuss the feasibility of a rapprochement between Havana and Washington. Lechuga expresses great interest. In collaboration with Attwood, Lisa Howard organized a party at her New York apartment on September 23 to serve as the pretext and social cover for a first conversation between Attwood and Lechuga . When she invited Carlos Lechuga to the party, she made sure he would come by saying, in Lechuga's recollection years later, " that Ambassador William Attwood of the u.S. delegation wanted to talk with me and that it was urgent, as he was going to Washington the next day. " (Lechuga, In the Eye of the Storm) Both Lechuga and Attwood later wrote memoirs that included complementary descriptions of their seminal conversation at Lisa Howard's party, Lechuga's In the Eye of the Storm and Attwood's The Twilight Struggle. According to Lechuga's more detailed account, Attwood was introduced to him " in the midst of cocktails, sandwiches, diplomats, and journalists," and " lost no time in saying why he had wanted to meet me. He said that Stevenson had authorized him to do so and that he would be flying to Washington in a few hours to request authorization from the president to go to Cuba to meet with Fidel Castro and ask about the feasibility of a rapprochement between Havana and Washington. " Lechuga was astounded by Attwood's overture. He sensed rightly that not only Stevenson but also the president had already approved their initial contact. He told Attwood that, in view of the conflicts between their countries, " what he was telling me came as a surprise and that I would listen to him with great interest. " Attwood asked if Lechuga felt the chances of the Cuban government allowing him to go to Havana for such a purpose were fifty-fifty. Lechuga said, " That may be a good guess. " The two men agreed that current U.S. policies, with Kennedy's American University address and test ban treaty presenting one aspect, and the CIA's saboteurs in Cuba and spy flights overhead presenting another, had created "an absurd situation. " Attwood told Lechuga " that Kennedy had often confessed in private conversations that he didn't know how he was going to change U.S. policy on Cuba, and that neither the United States nor Cuba could change it overnight because of the prestige involved. However, Kennedy said something had to be done about it and a start had to be made. "  William Attwood's account of the same conversation adds a few details. Lechuga " said Castro had hoped to establish some sort of contact with Kennedy after he became president in 1961, but the Bay of Pigs ended any chance of that, at least for the time being. But Castro had read Kennedy's American University speech in June and had liked its tone. I mentioned my Havana visit in 1959 and Fidel's 'Let us be friends' remark in our conversation. Lechuga said another such conversation in Havana could be useful and might be arranged. He expressed irritation at the continuing exile raids and our freezing $33 million in Cuban assets in U.S. banks in July. We agreed the present situation was abnormal [Lechuga thought they had agreed the situation was " absurd " ] and we should keep in touch."

9/24/1963 On September 24 William Attwood met Robert Kennedy in Washington and reported on his meeting with Lechuga the night before. RFK thought Attwood's going to Cuba was too risky- " it was bound to leak," provoking accusations of appeasement. He wondered if Castro would agree to meet somewhere outside Cuba, perhaps at the United Nations. He said Attwood should continue pursuing the matter with Lechuga.

9/27/1963 William Attwood met Lechuga at the UN Delegates Lounge, " always a good place for discreet encounters, " Attwood noted, " because of its noise and confusion. " He told Lechuga it would be difficult for him as a government official to go to Cuba. However, "if Castro or a personal emissary had something to tell us, we were prepared to meet him and listen wherever else would be convenient. " Lechuga said he would pass on the information to Havana. Lechuga then warned his secret dialogue partner that he'd be " making a tough anti-American speech on October 7, but not to take it too seriously. " When Adlai Stevenson replied to Lechuga on October 7 with his own anti-Cuban speech, it had been written by Attwood-and was in turn taken with a grain of salt by Lechuga, in view of his knowledge of John Kennedy's turn toward a dialogue with Fidel Castro. U.S.-Cuban polemics at the UN now served as a cover for a beginning Kennedy-Castro dialogue.

10/24/1963 French reporter Jean Daniel, conducts a brief interview with JFK before setting off on an assignment in Cuba. Though JFK is critical of Castro, he suggests Daniel broach the subject of reestablishing U.S.-Cuba relations with Castro, asks Daniel to report back to him. (Daniel, "Unofficial Envoy: A Historic Report from Two Capitals," New Republic, Dec 14, '63)

10/24/1963 JFK meets French journalist Jean Daniel, who is in transit to Cuba, and asks Daniel to be a go-between in re-establishing back-channel contacts with Castro. The president was interviewed at the White House by French journalist Jean Daniel, editor of the socialist newsweekly L'Observateur. Daniel was an old friend of William Attwood, who knew he was on his way to Cuba to interview Castro. Attwood had urged Daniel to see Kennedy first. Kennedy granted the interview as a perfect way for him to communicate informally with Castro, through pointed remarks that Daniel would inevitably share with his next interview subject. Daniel realized that Kennedy, who asked to see him again right after he saw Castro, wanted to know Castro's response. The president was making Daniel his unofficial envoy to the Cuban prime minister. In the New Republic article he wrote on his historic interviews with Kennedy and Castro, Daniel stressed the emphasis with which Kennedy spoke about the Cuban revolution: "John Kennedy then mustered all his persuasive force. He punctuated each sentence with that brief, mechanical gesture which had become famous. " " From the beginning, " Kennedy said, " I personally followed the development of these events [in Cuba] with mounting concern. There are few subjects to which I have devoted more painstaking attention . . . Here is what I believe. " Then came the words that could have become the seeds for a just peace between the United States and Cuba. Just as Kennedy's American University paragraphs on Russian suffering had profoundly impressed his Russian enemy Nikita Khrushchev, so would the president's next words to Jean Daniel on Cuban suffering, repeated to Fidel Castro, break through the ideological resistance of his Cuban enemy: "I believe that there is no country in the world, including all the African regions, including any and all the countries under colonial domination, where economic colonization, humiliation and exploitation were worse than in Cuba, in part owing to my country's policies during the Batista regime . . . I approved the proclamation which Fidel Castro made in the Sierra Maestra, when he justifiably called for justice and especially yearned to rid Cuba of corruption. I will go even further: to some extent it is as though Batista was the incarnation of a number of sins on the part of the United States. Now we shall have to pay for those sins. In the matter of the Batista regime, I am in agreement with the first Cuban revolutionaries. That is perfectly clear. " Kennedy looked at Daniel in silence. He noticed his surprise and heightened interest. Then the president went on to define in Cold War terms what he saw as the essence of his conflict with Castro: " But it is also clear that the problem has ceased to be a Cuban one, and has become international-that is, it has become a Soviet problem . . . I know that through [Castro's] fault-either his 'will to independence' [Kennedy had just spoken with Daniel on General Charles de Gaulle's 'will to independence' for France, a psycho-political strategy requiring a constant tension with the United States] , his madness or Communism-the world was on the verge of nuclear war in October, 1 962. The Russians understood this very well, at least after our reaction; but so far as Fidel Castro is concerned, I must say I don't know whether he realizes this, or even if he cares about it. " Kennedy smiled, then added: " You can tell me whether he does when you come back. " After his ringing endorsement of the Cuban revolution, Kennedy's argument with Castro rested on Cold War assumptions that Kennedy himself was beginning to doubt but had not yet discarded. Even after his American University address, he was still unable to see that it had been the ongoing threat of a U.S. invasion of Cuba (provoking the Soviet-Cuban decision to deter that invasion by nuclear missiles) that had caused the Cuban Missile Crisis, not Castro's " 'will to independence,' madness, or Communism. " Yet at the same time Daniel could see Kennedy was distinctly uncomfortable with the dead end where his assumptions led for the revolution he had just endorsed. His last comment to Daniel was: "The continuation of the blockade [against Cuba] depends on the continuation of subversive activities....He meant Castro's subversive activities, not his own, but as Daniel said to his readers, "I could see plainly that John Kennedy had doubts, and was seeking a way out. " (Jean Daniel, "Unofficial Envoy: An Historic Report from Two Capitals, " New Republic (December 14, 1963)

10/28/1963 After three weeks without a reply from Havana, with Attwood's approval Lisa Howard began phoning Rene Vallejo, Castro's aide and confidant, who favored a U.S .-Cuban dialogue. Howard doubted the message from Lechuga had ever gotten past the Cuban Foreign Office. She wanted to make sure through Vallejo that Castro himself knew there was a U.S. official ready to talk with him. For another week she and Vallejo left phone messages for each other. On October 28, Attwood was finally told by Lechuga in the UN Delegates' Lounge that Havana did not think " sending someone to the United Nations for talks" would be " useful at this time. " Like Howard, Attwood felt that Lechuga 's message had never even reached Castro through an unsympathetic Foreign Office.  (William Attwood, The Reds and the Blacks: A Personal Adventure ( London: Hutchinson, 1967)

10/29/1963 Desmond FitzGerald, a senior CIA official, meets AM/LASH. Fitzgerald tells him that a coup against Castro would receive U.S. support. Fitzgerald is introduced to AM/LASH as a "personal representative of Attorney General Kennedy." The Church committee found no evidence that RFK authorized, or was aware of this representation. Helms testified he did not seek the AG 's approval because he thought it was "unnecessary." (Book V Final Report of the [Senate] Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with respect to Intelligence Activities, 4/23/76;Helms, 6/13/75, pp 117-118)

10/29/1963 On October 29, after a week of leaving phone messages for Lisa Howard, Castro's aide Rene Vallejo finally reached Howard at her home. He assured her that Castro was as eager as he had been during her visit in April to improve relations with the United States. However, it was impossible for Castro to leave Cuba at that time to go to the UN or elsewhere for talks with a Kennedy representative. Howard told Vallej o there was now a U.S. official authorized to listen to Castro. Vallejo said he would relay that message to Castro and call her back soon.  (Attwood's Memorandum to Chase, FR US, 1961-1963, vol. XI, p. 8 8 2 .)

10/31/1963 On October 31, Rene Vallejo phoned Lisa Howard again, saying " Castro would very much like to talk to the U.S. official anytime and appreciated the importance of discretion to all concerned. " The phrase " to all concerned " was significant. At this point Castro, like Kennedy and Khrushchev, was circumventing his own more bellicose government in order to talk with the enemy. Castro, too, was struggling to transcend his Cold War ideology for the sake of peace. Like Kennedy and Khrushchev, he had to walk softly. He was now prepared to negotiate with a peacemaking U.S. president just as secretly as he had plotted guerrilla warfare against Batista. Thus, Vallejo said Castro was "willing to send a plane to Mexico to pick up the official and fly him to a private airport near Varadero, where Castro would talk to him alone. The plane would fly him back immediately after the talk. In this way there would be no risk of identification at the Havana airport. " Howard told Vallejo she doubted if a U.S. official could come to Cuba. Could Vallejo, as Castro's personal spokesman, come to meet the U.S. official at the UN or in Mexico? Vallejo replied that " Castro wanted to do the talking himself, " but wouldn't rule out that possibility if there were no other way to engage in a dialogue with Kennedy. Howard reported the Vallejo calls to Attwood, who in turn relayed the information to the White House.
« Last Edit: November 08, 2013, 08:47:27 PM by TLR »

TLR

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Re: Castro, Cuba, and the Missile Crisis
« Reply #17 on: July 17, 2013, 09:55:34 PM »
11/5/1963 William Attwood met with Kennedy's National Security Adviser, McGeorge Bundy, and Gordon Chase of the National Security Council staff. He filled them in on Castro's eagerness to facilitate a dialogue with Kennedy. On November 8, at Chase's request, Attwood put all this in a memorandum.

Oval Office audio tape, November 5, 1963. The tape records a conversation between the President and McGeorge Bundy regarding Castro's invitation to William Attwood, a deputy to UN Ambassador Adlai Stevenson, to come to Cuba for secret talks. The President responds that Attwood should be taken off the U.S. payroll prior to such a meeting so that the White House can plausibly deny that any official talks have taken place if the meeting leaks to the press.

11/6/1963 Asked to comment on recent exile raids against Cuba, Ricardo L. Santos Pesa, the Cuban Third Secretary to the Hague says: "Just wait, and you will see what we can do. It will happen soon. Just wait. Just wait."

11/11/1963 On November 11 , Rene Vallejo phoned Lisa Howard again on behalf of Castro to reiterate their "appreciation of the need for security. " He said Castro would go along with any arrangements Kennedy's representatives might want to make. He was again willing to provide a plane, if that would be helpful. As Attwood reported to the White House, Castro through Vallejo" specifically suggested that a Cuban plane could come to Key West and pick up the emissary; alternatively they would agree to have him come in a U.S. plane which could land at one of several 'secret airfields' near Havana. [Vallejo] emphasized that only Castro and himself would be present at the talks and that no one else-he specifically mentioned Guevara-would be involved. " As both sides of the prospective negotiations knew, Che Guevara, like many of Castro's associates, was opposed to a rapprochement with Kennedy. Castro was reassuring Kennedy of his independence from the opposition in his own government.
"Memorandum from William Attwood to Gordon Chase of the National Security Council Staff, " November 22, 1963, FR US, 1961-1963, vol. XI, p. 892.

White House memorandum, Secret, November 12, 1963. McGeorge Bundy reports to William Attwood on Kennedy's opinion of the viability of a secret meeting with Havana. The president prefers that the meeting take place in New York at the UN where it will be less likely to be leaked to the press.

11/12/1963 Memorandum for the record relates a meeting on Cuban Operations. McCone gave a brief summary of recent developments inside Cuba. FitzGerald reported on Cuban operations under six main headings: (a) Covert Collection, (b) Propaganda, (c) Economic Denial, (d) Disaffections in the Military, (e) Sabotage and Harassment, and (f) Support of Autonomous Anti-Castro Groups. The consensus was that since CIA's sabotage operation is in the main low cost and since it does worry the Castro regime, denies him some essential commodities, stimulates some sabotage inside Cuba and tends to improve the morale of the Cubans who would like to see Castro removed, CIA should proceed with those operations planned for the coming week end (November 15 though 17). The view was expressed that CIA, in connection with the Department of Defense, should concentrate on attempting to catch Castro red-handed delivering arms to Communist groups in Latin American countries. (Department of State, INR Historical Files, Special Group Meeting No. 105)

11/17/1963 JFK spent the day at Palm Beach relaxing with his family. This evening he gave his last major speech at the Inter-American Press Association Dinner in Miami. He talks about the Alliance for Progress, and pledged to "prevent the establishment of another Cuba." He accused Castro of betraying the principles of the Revolution. The next day, the Dallas Times-Herald reported that JFK "all but invited the Cuban people...to overthrow Fidel Castro's Communist regime and promised prompt US aid if they do."

11/18/1963 On November 18, Lisa Howard called  Rene Vallejo again. This time she passed the phone to Attwood. At the other end of the line Fidel Castro was listening in on the Vallejo-Attwood conversation, as he would tell Attwood many years later.  Attwood asked Vallejo if he could come to New York for a preliminary meeting. Vallejo said he could not come at that time but that "we " would send instructions to Lechuga to propose and discuss with Attwood " an agenda " for a later meeting with Castro. Attwood said he would await Lechuga's call. (Attwood, Twilight Struggle)

11/19/1963 RFK calls JFK to see if he can squeeze Richard Helms into his schedule. The CIA claim hard evidence of Castro's attempt to overthrow the government of Venezuela. A half hour later, Helms and RFK walk into the Oval Office with a submachine gun recovered from an arms cache in Venezuela. On the stock was the official seal of Cuba. Knowing JFK 's consideration of a rapprochement with Castro, Helm 's visit was meant to torpedo any such notion. (Mahoney pp285-286)

11/19/1963 Castro contacts reporter Jean Daniel and spends six hours talking to him about U.S.-Cuban relations. (Alleged Assassination Plots Involving Foreign Leaders, 4/23/76; Daniel, "When Castro Heard the News," New Republic, 12/7/63)

Department of Justice, Office of the Attorney General, "Travel to Cuba," December 12, 1963
In a comprehensive memorandum to Secretary of State Dean Rusk, Robert Kennedy presented the arguments for legalizing travel to Cuba before a number of student groups traveled there at Christmas time. There were two courses of action, he wrote: new efforts to block increased travel to Cuba, or "to withdraw the existing regulation prohibiting such trips. The first is unlikely to meet the problem and I favor the second," Kennedy informed Rusk. In his memo he presented several arguments for lifting the travel ban: that it was a violation of American liberties to restrict free travel; that it was impractical to arrest, indict and engage in "distasteful prosecutions" of scores of U.S. citizens who sought to go to Cuba; and that lifting the travel ban was likely to diminish the attraction of leftists who were organizing protest trips to Havana. "For all these reasons I believe that it would be wise to remove restrictions on travel to Cuba before we are faced with problems which are likely to be created in the immediate future."
« Last Edit: November 08, 2013, 08:49:52 PM by TLR »

TLR

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Re: Castro, Cuba, and the Missile Crisis
« Reply #18 on: July 17, 2013, 09:57:51 PM »
In February 1964, Lisa Howard returned from another news assignment in Cuba carrying an unusual memorandum, a "verbal message" addressed to Lyndon Johnson from Fidel Castro. In his message Castro went to extraordinary lengths to encourage Johnson to emulate Kennedy's courage in attempting a dialogue with their number one enemy, himself. That enemy had been won over to the dialogue, first, by the counsel of Kennedy's other enemy Khrushchev, then by the courage of Kennedy himself. Now Castro was using the example of Kennedy to encourage Johnson simply to talk with the enemy. He was also speaking much less like an enemy than a potentially helpful friend. It was as if Kennedy, in crossing a divide, had taken Castro with him. Castro said to Howard: " Tell the President that I understand quite well how much political courage it took for President Kennedy to instruct you [Lisa Howard] and Ambassador Attwood to phone my aide in Havana for the purpose of commencing a dialogue toward a settlement of our differences . . . I hope that we can soon continue where Ambassador Attwood's phone conversation to Havana left off . . . though I'm aware that pre-electoral political considerations may delay this approach until after November. " Tell the President ( and I cannot stress this too strongly) that I seriously hope that Cuba and the United States can eventually sit down in an atmosphere of good will and of mutual respect and negotiate our differences. I believe that there are no areas of contention between us that cannot be discussed and settled in a climate of mutual understanding. But first, of course, it is necessary to discuss our differences. I now believe that this hostility between Cuba and the United States is both unnatural and unnecessary and it can be eliminated . . ."Tell the President I realize fully the need for absolute secrecy, if he should decide to continue the Kennedy approach. I revealed nothing at that time . . . I have revealed nothing since . . . I would reveal nothing now. " " If the President feels it necessary during the campaign to make bellicose statements about Cuba or even to take some hostile action-if he will inform me, unofficially, that a specific action is required because of domestic political considerations, I shall understand and not take any serious retaliatory action. "  Although Johnson as usual made no reply to this message, Castro kept trying to communicate with him through Lisa Howard and UN ambassador Adlai Stevenson. (William Attwood was no longer in the loop, having been appointed U.S. ambassador to Kenya in January 1964.) (Kornbluth, JFK and Castro)

2/12/1964 A verbal message is sent to LBJ from Fidel Castro - delivered first to Adlai Stevenson by Lisa Howard of ABC News in Havana - then to LBJ. Castro has asked Howard to tell LBJ "that I earnestly desire his election to the presidency in November... though that appears assured ... Seriously, I have observed how Republicans use Cuba as a weapon against the Democrats. So tell President Johnson to let me know what I can do." Castro even invites LBJ to take "hostile action" against Cuba if it will be to his political benefit. He also urges LBJ to continue the U.S.-Cuban dialogue that JFK had initiated in the months before his assassination. How LBJ responds to this message is so far unknown, but U.S. efforts to normalize relations with Cuba fade as the year progresses. This incident remains a secret until August, 1999.

3/31/1964 Sen. George Smathers did an oral history interview recorded for the Kennedy Library; he recalled a conversation he had with JFK. The transcript reads: "We had further conversation of assassination of Fidel Castro, what would be the reaction, how would the people react, would the people be gratified. I'm sure he had his own ideas about it, but he was picking my brain...As I recollect, he was just throwing out a great barrage of questions  - he was certain it could not be accomplished...But the question was whether or not it would accomplish that which he wanted it to, whether or not the reaction throughout South America  would be good or bad. And I talked with him about it, and frankly, at this particular time I felt, and I later on learned that he did, that I wasn't so much for the idea of assassination, particularly when it could be pinned on the United States." (Cold War and Counterrevolution 48)

4/7/1964 LBJ discontinues all sabotage and raids against Cuba. One CIA officer who is present at the Special Group meeting remembers LBJ saying: "Enough is enough."

LBJ had planned a second invasion of Cuba for early 1965, using US troops, but the operation was never carried out because of the unexpected crisis in the Dominican Republic. (Tad Szulc, "Cuba on Our Mind," Compulsive Spy)

6/12/1964 In a memo to J. Edgar Hoover from the special agent in charge of the New York office information from an informant maintains that Fidel Castro has conducted his own ballistics tests based on the official scenario of the JFK assassination and has decided "it took about three people" to assassinate JFK. Castro, who considers himself a sharpshooter, has attempted to recreate the shooting, using a high powered rifle with a telescopic sight. "Conducting the tests was Castro's own personal idea to prove to himself that it could not be done and that when Castro and his men could not do it, Castro concluded Oswald must have had help." Castro, based on his findings, speculated that the assassination was probably the work of three people. "Castro is said to have expressed the conclusion that Oswald could not have fired three times in succession and hit the target with the telescopic sight in the available time, that he would have needed two other men in order for the three shots to have been fired in the time interval. The source commented that on the basis of Castro's remarks, it was clear that his beliefs were based on theory as a result of Cuban experiments and not on any firsthand information in Castro's possession." Hoover passes this information along in a confidential letter to J. Lee Rankin 6/17, general counsel for the Warren Commission. According to Hoover, Castro also said that when Oswald was refused a visa at the Cuban Embassy in Mexico City several weeks before the assassination, he left saying, "I'm going to kill Kennedy for this." Existence of the Hoover letter and some of its contents won't become generally known until the mid-1970s. The letter itself won't be made public until March 30, 1995.

6/16/1964 United Nations memorandum, Top Secret, from Adlai Stevenson to President Johnson, June 16, 1964. Stevenson sends the "verbal message" given to Lisa Howard to Johnson with a cover memo briefing him on the Castro dialogue started under Kennedy and suggesting consideration of resumption of talks "on a low enough level to avoid any possible embarrassment."

6/26/1964 Adlai Stevenson wrote a " Secret and Personal " memo to Johnson saying Castro felt that " all of our crises could be avoided if there was some way to communicate; that for want of anything better, he assumed that he could call [Howard] and she call me and I would advise you. " Again Johnson gave no response.

7/2/1964 US announced that Castro's sister (who recently defected to the US) had been a CIA informant for four years.

11/1964 This month's issue of Readers Digest, Nixon wrote an article ("Cuba, Castro and John F. Kennedy") about his involvement with the anti-Castro programs. He discussed his meeting with Castro 4/1960: "After 3 1/2 hours of discussion, I summed up my impressions in this way - he looked like a revolutionary, talked like an idealistic college professor and reacted like a communist...At the conclusion of our conference I wrote a four-page secret memorandum, and sent copies to President Eisenhower, Secretary Herter and Allen Dulles...My conclusion was, 'Castro is either incredible naive about communism or is under communist discipline.'" Nixon says that most of the State Dept did not view Castro as a communist. "By early 1960 President Eisenhower reached the conclusion that Castro was an agent of international communism and a menace to peace in this hemisphere. In a top-secret meeting in his office, at which I was present, he authorized the CIA to organize and train Cuban exiles for the eventual purpose of freeing their homeland from Castro's communist rule." Nixon recalled that he had to appear "soft" on Cuba during the presidential debates with JFK to protect the security of the invasion. "...as had happened in the Eisenhower administration, a sharp difference of opinion about Castro developed among President Kennedy's advisers. One group of activists urged him to go forward with the invasion plan. His liberal advisers...advised that the United States should either try to get along with Castro or find some other method of dealing with him...in the end the soft-liners won their point and, by last-minute compromises, doomed the operation to failure." He met with Allen Dulles during the landing, and Dulles told him "Everything is lost. The Cuban invasion is a total failure."

12/1964 Castro even enlisted the help of Cuban Minister of Industry Ernesto "Che" Guevara, previously an opponent to dialogue, in what had become a Cuban diplomatic offensive for negotiations with the United States. During Guevara's December 1964 visit to the United Nations, he tried to arrange a secret meeting with a White House or State Department representative but was unsuccessful. Finally Guevara met with Senator Eugene McCarthy at Lisa Howard's apartment. The next day McCarthy reported to Under Secretary of State George Ball that Guevara's purpose was " to express Cuban interest in trade with the U.S. and U.S. recognition of the Castro regime. " Ball rewarded McCarthy by admonishing him for even meeting with Guevara, because there was " suspicion throughout Latin America that the U.S. might make a deal with Cuba behind the backs of the other American states. " Ball told McCarthy to say nothing publicly about the meeting. When Lyndon Johnson ignored this Cuban initiative as well, Castro gave up on him. He realized that John Kennedy's successor as president had no interest whatsoever in speaking with Fidel Castro, no matter what he had to say. (Kornbluth, JFK and Castro)

In the 1970s, Fidel Castro reflected on a peculiar fact of Cold War history that related closely to the story of John Kennedy. Thanks to the decisions made by Khrushchev and Kennedy, "in the final balance Cuba was not invaded and there was no world war. We did not, therefore, have to suffer a war like Vietnam-because many Americans could ask themselves, why a war in Vietnam, thousands of miles away, why millions of tons of bombs dropped on Vietnam and not in Cuba? It was much more logical for the United States to do this to Cuba than to do it ten thousand kilometers away." (Frank Mankiewicz and Kirby Jones, With Fidel: A Portrait of Castro and Cuba (Chicago: Playboy Press, 1975), p. 173)
« Last Edit: November 08, 2013, 08:53:01 PM by TLR »

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Re: Castro, Cuba, and the Missile Crisis
« Reply #19 on: July 17, 2013, 09:59:02 PM »
1/1965 After closing down Operation Mongoose and the CIA's JM/WAVE station in Miami, Theodore Shackley and deputy Thomas Clines are sent to Laos to organize opposition to the Pathet Lao guerilla force. Meo hill tribesmen are recruited and conduct a massive extermination program of guerilla sympathizers. (Fonzi chronology)

7/22-23/1965 Tom Wicker articles in the NYT about the Bay of Pigs invasion. Richard Bissell was quoted as saying that the Cuban exile invasion force was powerful enough to cause trouble if they had not been allowed to invade Cuba: "...it is entirely possible that they might have tried to seize a base in Nicaragua, Honduras or Guatemala: there is not the slightest doubt that they could have defeated any Guatemalan force." Wicker concluded that the project became a "sort of Frankenstein's monster that once created, went out of control."

1/16/1967 Just five days after the conversation with Fortas, Washington columnist Drew Pearson would approach Johnson privately and tell him about an astonishing rumor: that the CIA had attempted to assassinate Castro numerous times in the early 1960s, and that most of these attempts had occurred at RFK's direction, when the then-attorney general was "riding herd" on the agency for his brother. Johnson, though so embittered that he was inclined to believe the worst about RFK, still found Pearson's story incredible. Later he would liken it to someone "tellin' me that Lady Bird was taking dope." But as the rumor continued to gather force, the president would turn to CIA Director Richard Helms and ask for a full report. On May 10, five months after LBJ's conversation with Fortas, the president would learn directly from Helms that the rumor was true, save for one aspect: there was no evidence that Castro had retaliated by ordering the assassination of President Kennedy.  Helms's caveat would fall on unreceptive ears. Confirmation of the efforts to assassinate Castro astounded Johnson. That, together with the president's innate proclivity to relate things that were not connected, meant that LBJ would go to his grave believing that "Kennedy was trying to get to Castro, but Castro got to him first." (Max Holland, The Kennedy Assassination Tapes: The White House Conversations of Lyndon B. Johnson regarding the Assassination, the Warren Commission, and the Aftermath (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2004), 392.  Johnson Is Quoted on Kennedy Death, New York Times, 25 June 1976.)

3/3/1967 Jack Anderson column makes first public mention of CIA-Mafia plots against Castro: "an unconfirmed report that Sen. Robert Kennedy may have approved an assassination plot which then possibly backfired against his late brother." Castro, "with characteristic fury...is reported to have cooked up a counterplot against President Kennedy...This report may have started...Jim Garrison on his investigation of the Kennedy assassination, but insiders believe he is following the wrong trails." Anderson's source for this was Johnny Roselli.   On March 3, 1967, the day after Johnson spoke with Connally, Jack Anderson, Drew Pearson's associate, broke the story of the alleged plots against Castro.24 The column began, "President Johnson is sitting on a political H-bomb, an unconfirmed report that Senator Robert Kennedy may have approved an assassination plot [against Castro] which then possibly backfired against his late brother." The column was so thinly source - it admitted that the story was a rumor - that The Washington Post and the New York Post refused to publish it. But hundreds of other newspapers went ahead. Anderson had rushed into print almost certainly because he feared being scooped by Jim Garrison. The column observed that the allegation it described "may have started New Orleans' flamboyant District Attorney Jim Garrison on his investigation of the Kennedy assassination," but that insiders "believe he is following the wrong trails."

3/6/1967 Letter and attached memo from Hoover to Attorney General Clark titled 'Central Intelligence Agency's Intentions to Send Hoodlums to Cuba to Assassinate Castro.' The FBI "checked matter with CIA on 5/3/61 and learned CIA was using Robert Maheu as intermediary with Sam Giancana relative to CIA's "dirty business" anti-Castro activities.  By letter 5/22/61 we furnished former Attorney General Kennedy a memorandum containing a rundown on CIA's involvement in this. The originals of the letter and  memorandum were returned to us for filing purposes. A copy of that memorandum is being attached to instant letter being sent to Attorney General.  On 5/9/62 Kennedy discussed with the Director a number of matters, including admission by CIA that Robert Maheu had been hired by that Agency to approach Sam Giancana to have Castro assassinated at a cost of $150,000. Kennedy stated he had issued orders that CIA should never undertake such steps again without first checking with the Department of Justice and stated because of this matter it would be difficult to prosecute Giancana or Robert Maheu then or in the future." The FBI learned 6/20/1963 that the CIA-Mafia contacts had "continued up until that time when they were reportedly cut off." The memo also stated that one Mafia member was "using his prior connections with the CIA to his best advantage." (Final Disclosure 110) Another memo from the same day (3/6/1967) stated that Robert Kennedy had made the FBI aware of the plots 5/9/1962, and that Giancana couldn't be prosecuted by the Justice Department because he would blow the whistle on the CIA-Mafia plots. (Final Disclosure 111)

3/7/1967 Jack Anderson/Drew Pearson's column discussed the possibility of Castro being behind the JFK assassination. The CIA's Inspector General Report was the result of an investigation ordered in 1967 by President Johnson, after a Drew Pearson-Jack Anderson column of March 7, 1967, had published for the first time details of "a reported CIA plan in 1963 to assassinate Cuba's Fidel Castro." However Johnson never got to see the actual report: Helms merely spoke to him from a set of notes which excluded the key events of late 1963. President Nixon never got to see it either, although it would appear that he had his aide John Ehrlichman try over many months to pry it out of CIA Director Richard Helms.
« Last Edit: November 08, 2013, 08:57:05 PM by TLR »

TLR

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Re: Castro, Cuba, and the Missile Crisis
« Reply #20 on: November 08, 2013, 09:35:33 PM »
Fixed and bumping.

JFK vs. the Military -  Robert Dallek
http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/print/2013/08/jfk-vs-the-military/309496/