Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Know your BFEE: At every turn, JFK was opposed by War Party

During the Bay of Pigs Invasion, both the CIA and the Pentagon lied to President Kennedy and said the crazy idea would work. The anti-Castro Cuban people would rise up and greet the invaders as “liberators” with flowers and kisses. Wrong. The reality was, the operation had been compromised. Castro’s spies in Miami even knew D-Day and the landing site.

"(Peter) Kornbluh said there is no indication that Esterline or anyone else at the
CIA warned President Kennedy of the leak before the invasion took place."

Soviets Knew Date of Cuba Attack

By Vernon Loeb
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, April 29, 2000; A04

Shortly after the failed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in 1961, a top CIA
official told an investigative commission that the Soviet Union had
somehow learned the exact date of the amphibious landing in advance,
according to a newly declassified version of the commission's final report.

Moreover, the CIA apparently had known of the leak to the Soviets--and
went ahead with the invasion anyway.


Gee. It’s not all that great a mystery why Gen. Charles Cabell, E Howard Hunt and the rest of the right-wingers would call JFK “traitor” for not calling in the air strikes in support of the invaders. I call such bastards “hypocritical sons-of-bitches” for saying so.

No one knew it at the time, but things in Cuba were even worse than imagined. The Soviets already had nukes on the island. The missiles were armed with nukes. Thus, had the United States invaded, Castro or the Soviet commanders in the field would have used them on the invading American forces and thus bringing about an American nuclear response and that would have precipitated World War III and that would be it for civilization and most living things.

Our Men in Havana

In Havana this past October, Professor James Blight brought together old foes Robert McNamara and Fidel Castro for the fortieth anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Such meetings, part of Blight’s unconventional fifteen-year study of the crisis, have led McNamara and others to a startling conclusion: we were much closer to nuclear war than anyone thought.

By Norman Boucher


Over the past decade or so, it has become increasingly clear that the grown-ups may not have had much of an idea what was going on either. At least this has been the conclusion to emerge from a series of six conferences held over the past fifteen years on the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, those thirteen days in October during which the world came the closest it has ever been to destroying itself. Orchestrated by Professor James Blight and Adjunct Associate Professor Janet Lang, both of the Watson Institute for International Studies, these conferences—along with two related ones on the disastrous April 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion—have revealed that we were much closer to nuclear annihilation four decades ago than anyone had previously thought, and that the management of the crisis in Washington and Moscow was blessed with a far higher level of sheer dumb luck than analysts and historians had earlier been able to accept.

“I conclude from this discussion,” Robert McNamara, the secretary of defense during the missile crisis, said in Havana at the latest conference this past October, “that we’re damn lucky to be here.”


The alternative interpretation of those October 1962 events is messier. As McNamara explained to the students in the Blight-Lang class, no one in the White House in 1962 knew the number of nuclear warheads already in Cuba at the time of the crisis; nor did they know that the Soviets and Cubans had tactical nuclear warheads they were ready to use against U.S. troops. Had Khrushchev not agreed to withdraw the missiles on October 28, a military conflict might have easily broken out, with consequences no one in Washington had sufficient information to foresee, far less control.


But wait, there’s more. The War Party wanted was so bad with Cuba, they even had the Joint Chiefs – normally honorable men – float a plan to launch a terror attack against Americans in Miami and Washington, as well as shooting down a jetliner filled with American college students or two, as a pretext for war with Cuba.

Pentagon Proposed Pretexts for Cuba Invasion in 1962

In his new exposé of the National Security Agency entitled “Body of Secrets,” author James Bamford highlights a set of proposals on Cuba by the Joint Chiefs of Staff codenamed OPERATION NORTHWOODS. This document, titled “Justification for U.S. Military Intervention in Cuba” was provided by the JCS to Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara on March 13, 1962, as the key component of Northwoods. Written in response to a request from the Chief of the Cuba Project, Col. Edward Lansdale, the Top Secret memorandum describes U.S. plans to covertly engineer various pretexts that would justify a U.S. invasion of Cuba. These proposals - part of a secret anti-Castro program known as Operation Mongoose - included staging the assassinations of Cubans living in the United States, developing a fake “Communist Cuban terror campaign in the Miami area, in other Florida cities and even in Washington,” including “sink a boatload of Cuban refugees (real or simulated),” faking a Cuban airforce attack on a civilian jetliner, and concocting a “Remember the Maine” incident by blowing up a U.S. ship in Cuban waters and then blaming the incident on Cuban sabotage. Bamford himself writes that Operation Northwoods “may be the most corrupt plan ever created by the U.S. government.”

Source (w/link to PDF of actual Operation NORTHWOODS document): /

Kennedy said, “No.” Then, a short time after the episode, didn’t renew Gen. Lyman Lemnitzer’s tour as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs.

During the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Pentagon, most of the Cabinet, and the Congressional leaders all were hell-bent for war. They told JFK the missiles were a danger and the only way to get rid of them was an immediate air attack, followed by an invasion. Air Force commander Curtis LeMay even tried to instigate war, ordering jets to intrude into Soviet airspace, hoping one would be shot down and form a pretext for all-out war.

Spy Flights of the Cold War

Review by Capt. Troy Thomas, USAF
Book by Paul Lashmar
Naval Institute Press, 118 Maryland Avenue, Annapolis, Maryland 21402, 1996, 256 pages, $29.95.
Document created: 13 May 99

Perceptions of the cold war often focus on nuclear arsenals and Third World surrogate conflicts, overlooking a persistent war of aerial espionage in which hundreds of airmen lose their lives. Spy Flights of the Cold War offers an intriguing yet controversial historical record of US and British aerial reconnaissance against the communist bloc from 1946 to 1963. The author’s research reveals numerous harrowing missions by brave aircrews flying deep into hostile territory on missions previously declared “routine.” Overlaying this operational history is a political account that indicts the US Air Force (USAF) and, specifically, Gen Curtis E. LeMay for exceeding presidential authority, manipulating intelligence estimates, and using the spy flights in an attempt to instigate another world war. Although it is a tribute to individual airmen, the text openly criticizes USAF leadership.


Criticism of the USAF and LeMay is a prominent theme. In addition to questionable evidence that LeMay encouraged unauthorized overflight missions, Lashmar devotes an entire chapter to SAC’s aggressive use of reconnaissance missions as a political tool intent on provoking nuclear war. If successfully implemented, Project Control overflights would “demonstrate the Russians’ military impotency” and possibly create the conditions for a preventive war. In addition to attributing a prolonged cold war to General LeMay and other senior USAF leaders, Lashmar also contends that SAC and the USAF intelligence community inflated Soviet missile, and later bomber, strengths to justify inordinate spending on SAC. Although estimates by the intelligence community later proved high, evidence for a duplicitous USAF agenda is suspect.


Unlike the selected current occupant of the Oval Office, John F. Kennedy truly understood what it means to serve as President and Commander in Chief. Kennedy believed he had the final say on executive decision making. Case in point, Vietnam.

Kennedy saw the situation on the ground to be a loser for America and had ordered Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara to begin the withdrawal of American forces with the withdrawal of 1,000 advisors by the end of 1963. JFK planned to have ALL American troops out of Vietnam by the end of 1964. That was in writing:

Exit Strategy

In 1963, JFK ordered a complete withdrawal from Vietnam

By James K. Galbraith

Forty years have passed since November 22, 1963, yet painful mysteries remain. What, at the moment of his death, was John F. Kennedy’s policy toward Vietnam?

It’s one of the big questions, alternately evaded and disputed over four decades of historical writing. It bears on Kennedy’s reputation, of course, though not in an unambiguous way.

And today, larger issues are at stake as the United States faces another indefinite military commitment that might have been avoided and that, perhaps, also cannot be won. The story of Vietnam in 1963 illustrates for us the struggle with policy failure. More deeply, appreciating those distant events tests our capacity as a country to look the reality of our own history in the eye.


A more thorough treatment appeared in 1992, with the publication of John M. Newman’s JFK and Vietnam.1 Until his retirement in 1994 Newman was a major in the U.S. Army, an intelligence officer last stationed at Fort Meade, headquarters of the National Security Agency. As an historian, his specialty is deciphering declassified records—a talent he later applied to the CIA’s long-hidden archives on Lee Harvey Oswald.

Newman’s argument was not a case of “counterfactual historical reasoning,” as Larry Berman described it in an early response.2 It was not about what might have happened had Kennedy lived. Newman’s argument was stronger: Kennedy, he claims, had decided to begin a phased withdrawal from Vietnam, that he had ordered this withdrawal to begin. Here is the chronology, according to Newman:

(1) On October 2, 1963, Kennedy received the report of a mission to Saigon by McNamara and Maxwell Taylor, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS). The main recommendations, which appear in Section I(B) of the McNamara-Taylor report, were that a phased withdrawal be completed by the end of 1965 and that the “Defense Department should announce in the very near future presently prepared plans to withdraw 1,000 out of 17,000 U.S. military personnel stationed in Vietnam by the end of 1963.” At Kennedy’s instruction, Press Secretary Pierre Salinger made a public announcement that evening of McNamara’s recommended timetable for withdrawal.

(2) On October 5, Kennedy made his formal decision. Newman quotes the minutes of the meeting that day:

The President also said that our decision to remove 1,000 U.S. advisors by December of this year should not be raised formally with Diem. Instead the action should be carried out routinely as part of our general posture of withdrawing people when they are no longer needed. (Emphasis added.)
The passage illustrates two points: (a) that a decision was in fact made on that day, and (b) that despite the earlier announcement of McNamara’s recommendation, the October 5 decision was not a ruse or pressure tactic to win reforms from Diem (as Richard Reeves, among others, has contended3) but a decision to begin withdrawal irrespective of Diem or his reactions.

(3) On October 11, the White House issued NSAM 263, which states:

The President approved the military recommendations contained in section I B (1-3) of the report, but directed that no formal announcement be made of the implementation of plans to withdraw 1,000 U.S. military personnel by the end of 1963.

In other words, the withdrawal recommended by McNamara on October 2 was embraced in secret by Kennedy on October 5 and implemented by his order on October 11, also in secret. Newman argues that the secrecy after October 2 can be explained by a diplomatic reason. Kennedy did not want Diem or anyone else to interpret the withdrawal as part of any pressure tactic (other steps that were pressure tactics had also been approved). There was also a political reason: JFK had not decided whether he could get away with claiming that the withdrawal was a result of progress toward the goal of a self-sufficient South Vietnam.


Then came Dallas. A week later, the orders were signed committing the US to support the government of South Vietnam. A few months later, the Gulf of Tonkin incident was created and the US had their fig leaf for war. Today, decades later, we look back back and see a parade of Presidents, the majority of whom were only too eager to make war, mere enablers for the War Party.