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Tipping Point

Part 1: The Cuba Backstory

by Larry Hancock, November 2020

The Cuba Backstory

Revolutionary Cuba 1958-1960

From the Eisenhower administration's viewpoint, the internal Cuban revolution against the Batista government was seen as destabilizing long standing American business relationships with Cuba. Fidel Castro's seizure of American citizens, with attempts to blackmail their corporate employers, only increased concerns among the U.S. business community. Worse yet, the Eisenhower administration perceived virtually any revolutionary activity as providing an opening for communist influence.

Official History of the Bay of Pigs Operation, Volume 3
Jack Pfeiffer, Official History of the Bay
of Pigs Operation
, Volume 3, U.S.
Central Intelligence Agency, Washington
D.C., released October 13, 2016,
Document Number:

Due to its proximity and its long-standing trade relationships with the United States, Cuba was already an area of routine CIA foreign intelligence collections as well as political influence (anti-communist) efforts. The CIA had begun actively conducting "foreign influence" programs in Cuba in the mid 1950's, providing financial support for anti-communist groups and circulating anti-communist propaganda. [ 15 ] Given the increasing opposition to Batista, Eisenhower had tasked oversight of Cuban matters to his Special Group (a national security level body with oversight for covert actions) as early as 1958 and Cuba had become an ongoing subject of discussion within that group.

In December 1958, with revolutionary activity continuing to grow inside Cuba, President Eisenhower had instructed the Special Group to meet weekly on Cuba's evolving political crisis. [ 16 ] The CIA's position, as expressed by the attitude of its director, Allen Dulles, was that Cuba under a populist leader such as Fidel Castro would open the door to communism and to Soviet influence. During 1958 the Special Group began discussion of contingencies ranging from overt military action by American Marines to having the United States unilaterally designate a new interim junta to govern Cuba.

In support of such options the U.S. Army began using commercial covers to secretly place officers inside Cuba to collect military intelligence. [ 17 ] As domestic Cuban resistance to the pro-American Batista government grew, an abortive U. S. government effort attempted to persuade President Fulgencio Batista to transfer power to an interim military junta – at the same time the CIA was placing agents inside both resistance groups and the Cuban military. [ 18 ] Clandestine CIA activities escalated towards the end of 1958 as CIA Western Hemisphere Chief J.C. King initiated plans to identify dissidents who were both anti-Castro and anti-Batista. Two CIA paramilitary officers were sent into Cuba to identify groups and prepare drop zones to supply them. In January, 1959 two aircraft were designated and arms loads were rigged for covert supply to conservative, anti-communist resistance groups, but there is no evidence those missions were ever actually carried out. [ 19 ]

With the CIA's efforts at supplying "the right" revolutionary groups tentative and minimal at best, more radical revolutionary groups were forced to turn to private funding and weapons smuggling out of the United States. A variety of groups used ex-patriot and family connections for such activities. Well-heeled ex-Cuban politicians, such as former Cuban president Carlos Prio Socarras in Miami, as well as individuals in the well-established Cuban business community in New York City, were tapped for political support and funding - as were sympathetic anti-communist regimes in Central America.

In the spring of 1958, the revolutionary groups affiliated with Castro's 26th of July movement in the Sierra Maestra were desperate for weapons and ammunition as they attempted to move into a more intense military phase of their movement. The overall resistance movement included guerrilla groups not just in the Sierra Maestra, but across the breadth of Cuba. Supplies were critically needed for some 2,000 fighters. [ 20 ]

However, up to that point Castro's agent Alonso Hidalgo had only managed to smuggle in a few pistols out of Miami. Only one significant shipment came into Cuba that March, from Costa Rica, with the support of its president Jose Figures. The shipment was flown in by Pedro Diaz Lantz and consisted only of thirty weapons and one hundred thousand rounds of ammunition. Later that spring a shipment of weapons was organized out of the Miami area, flown into Cuba by Frank Fiorini aka Sturgis. Sturgis managed to get the shipment in but only on the third flight, having been turned back twice by the Cuban air force. [ 21 ]

During April, 1958 the FBI and police in New York and Miami began aggressively moving against Cuban weapons dealers, seizing shipments in both cities. The U. S. Coast Guard also seized a boat shipment bound for Havana. The revolutionary military groups were increasingly coming under pressure from Batista's army, and Castro's representatives in Miami were proving increasingly ineffectual in obtaining and shipping weapons; the FBI was closely monitoring them not only in Miami but also in Mexico and Venezuela. [ 22 ] By the summer of 1958 several of those individuals in both New York and Miami were replaced and a new outreach was made to Carlos Prio Socarras, pleading for him to renew his support for Castro.

An American, Robert McKeown, had been close to Prio Socarras in Cuba prior to his ouster, forced out by Batista after his ascension to power. Prio Socarras had been one of the main backers of Castro's initial entry into Cuba from Mexico (he had paid for the yacht Granma, used by Castro on his return to Cuba in 1957), however for a time after Castro's return Socarras's demands for power sharing had led to a break between the two.

Interview with Robert McKeown, House Select Committee Report, Volume IX, Section 8, 714-718
Interview with Robert McKeown,
House Select Committee Report,
Volume IX, Section 8, 714-718

Operating out of Houston, McKeown purchased a boat (the Seabrook) in Louisiana and transported cargoes of weapons from Arkansas and Louisiana to Mexico, for transshipment to Cuba. [ 23 ] He had actually gone into Cuba to receive the weapons following Castro's return. However by the fall of 1958 Prio once again began to use his well-established American connections (many within the gambling and casino network) to source weapons and also re-established his dealings with Robert McKeown. While Prio turned to McKeown for new boat shipments, he also connected with Frank Fiorini (Sturgis) who, along with Pedro Diaz Lanz, had been involved for some time in attempts to supply the revolutionary forces by air. [ 24 ] During 1958 both McKeown and Fiorini were in routine contact with Prio in Miami, and Prio had promised Castro's representatives that routine shipments of weapons and ammunition would begin by the end of summer. [ 25 ]

While the anti-Batista revolutionary forces were struggling to obtain military materials from a variety of private sources, the CIA's Havana station (operating within the American embassy and with CIA officers under consular cover) continued to work its own existing Batista regime intelligence sources inside the Cuban police and security organizations – CIA officer David Morales played a key role in those relationships. Other agents operated under private commercial covers, with David Phillips posing as an advertising and marketing professional and Anthony (Tony) Sforza as a gambler – Sforza had strong ties to the long-established American casino community as well as to the local Cuban gaming network. Following the success of the revolution against Batista many of the CIA personnel were exposed and forced off the island, with Sforza being one of the last to come out.

While revolutionary activities presented a threat to American business interests, the large American gambling interests managed to maintain themselves through the revolution, up to the point of being nationalized by the new Castro government in 1959. Prior to the revolution their only problem had been one of image – exacerbated with considerable American media coverage of one incident when a close friend of then Senator Richard Nixon made highly public complaints about questionable casino gaming practices during a gambling vacation in Havana. Nixon himself was a longtime participant in the Havana scene and supporter of the Batista regime; his friend claimed to have been cheated during a gambling vacation in Cuba.

That led to some very bad press for the casino owners, especially troublesome to one of the main figures involved with the Havana casino industry, Meyer Lansky. In response Lansky sent one of his most favored troubleshooters to Havana to clean things up. The assignment introduced Johnny Roselli to Cuban affairs, and added Havana to Roselli's previous resume of "consulting" successes in Hollywood and Las Vegas. Roselli's specialty was acting as a facilitator and "strategist" (as stated on his business card) – knowing all the right people and applying the right amount of leverage to make things happen for his associates and clients.

Other individuals whose names would later become associated with the Kennedy assassination also worked in the Havana casino network. Louis McWillie had been involved in Dallas gambling circles before moving to Havana in 1958 and establishing himself in the casino industry there. He first worked as a manager in Lansky's Tropicana resort, moving on to the Sans Souci, at that time under Roselli's oversight, and finally to the Deuville casino – where John Martino was employed as a technical contractor. Martino's specialty was electronics, a specialty used primarily to improve the house's odds at both the tables and in horse racing bets.

Prior to leaving Dallas, McWillie (aka Lewis Martin) [ 26 ] had been closely associated with Jack Ruby for over a decade, often traveling with him on various undisclosed business activities. McWillie's success in moving beyond the Dallas scene and into the much higher – and more glamorous – realm of the casinos greatly impressed Ruby, who reportedly idolized McWillie's success in Havana and later in Las Vegas. Ruby maintained his long-standing relationship with McWillie, traveling to Havana to visit him and in various efforts to insert himself into the Cuban scene.

Ruby's efforts to involve himself in Cuban affairs were ongoing, both pre and post-revolutionary. Prior to the actual ouster of Batista, Jack Rubenstein (aka Ruby) wrote to the State Department's Office of Munitions Controls requesting permission to negotiate for purchases of firearms and munitions from an Italian firm. That information came from an Army Intelligence report listing U.S. arms dealers. [ 27 ] Not surprisingly, while that information relating to interest in arms dealing with Cuba emerged early in the Warren Commission investigation, the original documents themselves appear to have since disappeared.

What has not disappeared is clear evidence of Ruby's interest in Cuba, his travel there in 1959 and his connections to names that would resurface in regards to the events of 1963. While we may never know the exact nature of all Ruby's Cuban connections, he himself gave us a very clear direction in remarks to one of his club employees who visited him in jail following his shooting of Lee Oswald:

"They're going to find out about Cuba. They're going to find out about the guns, find out about New Orleans, find out about everything." [ 28 ]

While the Warren Commission appears to have avoided entangling itself with Ruby as much as possible, years later the HSCA investigation of Ruby's travels revealed that he had indeed visited Cuba multiple times in 1959, that he carried coded messages, acting as a courier and passing them through Louis McWillie - very possibly as part of an effort to arrange the bribery which eventually resulted in the release of Havana casino figure Santos Trafficante from Cuban arrest. McWillie himself verified that scenario in testifying that he had visited Trafficante in prison and that Jack Ruby was with him on at least one visit.

How Ruby became involved in the effort to free Trafficante is unclear; he may have been recommended by McWillie as someone not part of the Havana gambling network, and likely not under FBI observation. As a plus, being from Dallas he was in a position to contact and seek an introduction from one of Castro's favorite Americans, Robert McKeown. McKeown lived outside Houston, Texas and Castro remained so fond of him that he made a side trip to visit him in Texas during his April visit to New York and the United Nations in 1959. However, Ruby didn't just become aware of McKeown through the publicity of that visit; he had begun his efforts to obtain an introduction from McKeown with a series of "frantic" telephone calls in January of that year.

In his later testimony to both the FBI and the HSCA, McKeown described receiving a series of telephone messages from a man in Dallas, someone totally unknown to him. Then the man, Jack Ruby, visited him in person, asking for a letter of introduction to Fidel Castro. Ruby offered to pay for the introduction, claiming he had a quantity of jeeps under contract in Louisiana, and wanted to do a deal with Castro. Ruby received no written introduction, but later McKeown, who kept up his contacts with his friends in Cuba, learned that Ruby had indeed made a number of approaches there, using McKeown's name as a reference.

Perhaps not coincidentally, that year the FBI met with Jack Ruby on 9 different occasions, identifying him as a potential criminal informant. While the FBI was forced to acknowledge those contacts following the Kennedy assassination, it provided no details and no related information has ever been released. Ultimately McKeown was arrested and charged with neutrality violations – along with Carlos Prio, Jorge Sotus (a name which will resurface later in discussion of the events of 1963) and others – on a variety of charges relating to his Cuban activities in smuggling weapons to the anti-Batista revolutionaries.

During 1959, Castro began taking control of the Havana casinos, ousting American managers and employees and for a time putting the casino business under the supervision of Frank Fiorini aka Sturgis. As with the approach from Ruby, at that point in time McKeown was also being approached by others seeking referrals to Castro. Several of those individuals were interested in the possibility of reopening the casinos under their former owners. [ 29 ] Ruby's contact stood out only because of his mention of having vehicles under consignment in New Orleans and wanting to do a deal which would involve shipping them to Cuba.

While McKeown apparently thought little more about Jack Ruby, we know that Ruby did go on to visit Cuba, not just connecting with McWillie but evidently with Trafficante himself, who was being held in the Trescornia detention center. [ 30 ] McWillie acknowledged visiting Trafficante along with Ruby, and independently a British journalist (also being detained there) later described a visit by Ruby to Trafficante. The journalist passed word on Ruby to the American embassy in Havana.

The details of Trafficante's release remain murky. Money may have been involved (documents show that Ruby opened and used a safe deposit box that summer; the only such use in his records). Beyond that, jeeps and other military vehicles were indeed shipped out of New Orleans that year, with Trafficante being released that August, only weeks after the visits by McWillie and Ruby to Trescornia.

The shipment of the vehicles was revealed in a New Orleans Times-Picayune newspaper article of October, 1960. The article revealed that some 100 war surplus jeeps, trucks and weapons vehicles had been shipped out of the Port of New Orleans during the previous year. The refurbished vehicles had been invoiced as agricultural equipment. Louisiana Senators Eastland and Ellender were informed of the activity, with transfer of at least some of the jeeps blocked before shipment because of Ellender's intervention with the Commerce Department.

Warren Commission Report, Testimony of Nelson Delgado, 687
Warren Commission Report,
Testimony of Nelson Delgado, 687

The revolution against Batista had also drawn the interest, attention and even support of a number of other Americans. At the time it seemed the sort of cause that attracted a number of private citizens – several Americans with military service, such as William Morgan, Frank Fiorini and Gerry Hemming, actually went to Cuba and joined in the effort.

A young American Marine was very much interested in the revolution in Cuba, and in the possibility of joining the cause of other democratic movements in the region. Lee Oswald discussed doing just that with his Marine friend Nelson Delgado; the men both admired William Morgan, an American who had gone to Cuba to join Castro's guerrilla forces. Oswald and Delgado were both intrigued with the revolution against Batista and the idea that perhaps they could join in the revolutionary movement – help in bringing in true popular governments. Oswald in particular was "peeved" by the idea that the United States had controlled Cuba through support of the Batista regime. Oswald began to talk more frequently about going to Cuba, joining in the revolutionary cause – he began to teach himself Spanish. Yet Delgado described Oswald as gaining only a very basic conversational use of the language, nothing more. [ 31 ]

Delgado also described Oswald's varied interests, his subscribing to Russian magazines and Oswald's visit to and contact with the Cuban consulate in Los Angeles. He testified that Oswald had related such a visit to him and that he had seen a package addressed to Oswald. In addition he also described a visit to Oswald by two "Hispanic looking males", men Delgado thought might have been from the Cuban consulate. [ 32 ]

The CIA Cuba Project 1960 - 61

The initial CIA effort to oust Fidel Castro, approved by President Eisenhower in March, 1960 failed in its goal to produce well-armed, widespread guerrilla action against the Castro regime by the end of October, 1962. That resistance, accompanied by massive propaganda and political action campaigns, was intended to have either ousted Castro or have him defending his regime against a popular uprising prior to the American elections in November. Moving dramatically away from covert action, the CIA turned to the creation and amphibious landing of a heavily armed, brigade sized, conventional infantry force – supported by tanks, armored trucks, heavy weapons units and parachute drops as well as by a Cuban volunteer air element.

The full story of that effort and its failure is available in the author's most recent work, In Denial / Secret Wars with Air Strikes and Tanks? Two particular legacies of the Cuba Project are of major importance in understanding the attack on President Kennedy in Dallas, Texas. The first was no more and no less a legacy of mistrust – and hate.

It has taken decades for Richard Bissell's influence on the Bay of Pigs history and the perceptions of President Kennedy's role to become apparent - including the degree to which he maneuvered the project's senior operations personnel such as Jake Esterline and Colonel Jack Hawkins into carrying the message against JFK down to field personnel. Those individuals relayed Bissell's remarks deep into the project, down to the level of the Cuban volunteers - including a select group of highly trained Cuban exiles who had been supporting covert missions into Cuba, and who would remain active in paramilitary actions against Cuban operations through 1962 and 1963.

At its core, the attitudes which were implanted within both the Cuban exile community and among the CIA personnel involved in the Cuba Project were largely the result of what can only be described as a personal campaign by certain individuals to place the blame for the failure of the Cuba Project on President Kennedy. That campaign simply avoided the fact that Bissell himself had turned what was intended to be a covert and deniable action into a conventional military gamble at the Bay of Pigs. Instead the failure was blamed directly, and solely, on the lack of a will to succeed at any cost by President Kennedy – when Kennedy himself had only been involved with the effort over some three months in 1961. That blame campaign can be traced directly to the actions of the project's leader Richard Bissell and his chief deputy Tracy Barnes. Specifically it was founded in misinformation and overt lies which passed from Bissell to the project's operational leader (Jake Esterline) and Colonel Jack Hawkins, the Marine officer detailed to manage the final, amphibious landing phase of the project. [ 33 ]

In both private conversations and replies to official inquiries, Bissell and Barnes were consistent in pointing towards JFK's purported weakness and indecisiveness – in particular his failure to allow extended air strikes and direct military intervention to support the landings at the Bay of Pigs. Based on the version of events relayed from Bissell, Jake Esterline personally felt compelled to travel to Miami and share what had been presented to him as a betrayal by the president with the project's Miami Station staff, and the individuals involved with the landing effort. The following excerpt from Esterline's remarks conveys that nature of the communication"

"..I tried to call it off. It was not my fault. We were screwed by Kennedy. They made me send those men in to their slaughter" [ 34 ]

In a highly emotional state, Esterline himself described his tearful meetings with individuals in Miami; his remarks and the statements to key CIA officers, contract employees and military detailees solidified views among the participants that they had no fault in the planning or conduct of the operation, but rather that disaster was totally due to a failure of will and character on the part of the president.

Those receiving that version of events included key field officers and trainers including Grayston Lynch, Rip Robertson, Carl Jenkins, and David Morales. Those individuals all freely shared that same view – best expressed in Grayston Lynch's own book Decision for Disaster / Betrayal at the Bay of Pigs – with their Cuban associates. Lynch's language offers us a clear insight into the depth of the disgust that resulted, carried on to the Cuban volunteers who had been working (and fighting) along with individuals such as Jenkins, Robertston, Lynch and Tony Sforza (a deep cover asset working on island inside Cuba). [ 35 ]

Lynch describes the "decision for disaster" as "the president's decision to sign the death warrant of the 2506 Brigade"..."a lack of courage and decisive leadership". [ 36 ]

That same view of events carried on into the media and continues to be repeated in commentary and studies related to JFK and the Bay of Pigs. It has lost little of its original impact – Lynch's book, with his own extreme feelings about JFK, was published decades later, in 1998. The subtitle of the book "Betrayal at the Bay of Pigs" openly conveys his attitude, and his remarks in the book place all the blame directly on President Kennedy's lack of courage. In his introduction he extends thanks to those assisting him with information about the overall project, Richard Bissell, Admiral Arleigh Burke and Colonel Jack Hawkins. Unfortunately, as we only now know, the version of events passed on by Bissell and Burke to Esterline and Hawkins was far from complete - and far from accurate.

Commentary: The basic nature of the CIA's failure at the Bay of Pigs was certainly recognized by President Kennedy –  he also understood the tragedy as it affected the Cuban volunteers and reacted to it emotionally - but even the official inquiry he ordered failed to disclose the full nature of the failure, and in particular, what many might well consider malfeasance by the project's chief, Richard Bissell.

It has only been with the release of a body of new information from the CIA's own internal inquiries and histories, as well a great deal of relatively recent oral history work, that we can begin to fully appreciate the disconnects between the mission as it was directed and understood by President Kennedy, and the actual military operation as it was carried out by Bissell and those reporting to him. Only now can we see the extent of disconnect between the two, a disconnect so great that ultimately the project's military leaders (Esterline and Hawkins) were forced to conclude that Bissell had failed to provide key information to the president, to reliably represent the risks associated with it, and to have actually lied to both JFK and to them in regard to key operational issues.

We can now see President Kennedy's own view of the mission, as illustrated in his actual National Security Memorandum, and in his limited but critical operational directives. Those directives clearly reveal his own views and expectations for the landing of the Cuban Brigade at the Bay of Pigs. He viewed it as a mission to insert a force inside Cuba to stimulate on-island resistance and a mission which was to have been conducted with total deniability of any American involvement. In meetings with senior CIA officers, the president's representatives were assured that the effort would simply be the trigger for a major island uprising and that resistance fighters in the thousands would flock to quickly double and triple the size of the Cuban volunteer force, delivering the momentum for it to become the focus of an advance on Havana. Plans were made to deliver huge quantities of weapons and ammunition to supply the anticipated numbers of local recruits.

In reality, the CIA had no intelligence of any imminent uprising, was aware that the Castro regime had totally crushed the unified Cuban resistance movement (UNIDAD) weeks beforehand, and had actually cut off contacts with on island resistance groups in pursuit of operational security. Those same briefings appear to have held no mention that main line American tanks were being landed at the beachheads – completely eliminating any pretense of deniability of American government involvement – or that the CIA was not even deploying its own Cuban volunteers for reconnaissance or to organize local resistance in the region of the landings.

Readers of this work may find a synopsis of other such disconnects in the citation noted here; full details of the overall Cuba Project under both President's Eisenhower and Kennedy are examined in the authors separate work – In Denial / Secret Wars with Air Strikes and Tanks? [ 37 ]

It has to be noted that the "blame Kennedy" storyline was enabled by certain of the senior military staff supporting the project, in particular Navy officers such as Admiral Arleigh Burke. Burke had adamantly and repeatedly lobbied President Kennedy to authorize direct attacks on Cuban forces by naval units under his command – not in defense of American lives or assets but strictly in support of the officially deniable Cuban landing force. Beyond that Burke's attitude may have also been influenced by the total failure of those same naval units to conduct the one highly significant U.S. Navy air action over the beachhead which had been directly approved by President Kennedy. [ 38 ]

The extent to which the "Kennedy blame" story became embedded both in the media as well as historical references to the Bay of Pigs might seem curious given the fact that the Cuba project had been underway for almost a year before Kennedy became involved with it – and then only with a totally new plan involving large scale amphibious landings in Cuba. The degree of focus and the depth of details mentioned in the popular criticism of Kennedy are also revealing given that all the official inquiries and reports were immediately classified and officially received extremely limited circulation even within the government. [ 39 ]

The explanation for the focus on JFK appears to be largely due to the fact that certain individuals, including Bissell himself, took a quite active role in quickly positioning a story which shifted some 13 months of failure under the CIA, the National Security Council, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff onto some 3 days at the Bay of Pigs in Cuba, putting the full blame for the project's failure directly on JFK and feeding that perspective into the media. The first public indication of how that effort was going to play out appeared in a September, 1961 Fortune magazine article by Charles Murphy – "Cuba, the Record Set Straight".

Murphy's article openly and strongly shifted the blame for the Bay of Pigs from the CIA officers who had managed the Cuba Project for some 13 months, directing it instead towards the White House and personally towards JFK. While the sources for Murphy's article were never fully disclosed, it appears that a good deal of it can be attributed to information leaked from Admiral Burke and supplemented with details from Richard Bissell. [ 40 ] While Admiral Burke might appear to be a peripheral source on the Cuba Project, we now have a much fuller understanding of his involvement, involvement which appears to have included Navy activities outside of presidential directives, activities not communicated to either President Kennedy or the National Security Council. [ 41 ]

In addition to leaving behind a legacy of strong emotions directed against JFK, the Cuba Project did something else which would prove seminal to the conspiracy which would come into place in the fall of 1963. The project developed a group of individuals devoted to political assassination, specifically the assassination of Fidel Castro. As part of the Cuba Project a number of CIA officers, Cuban volunteers and even private individuals became involved in a series of attempts to assassinate Castro either by poison or in rifle attacks. The identities and actions of the individuals involved in those assassination efforts only emerged years later, during the Church Committee inquiries into CIA involvement in political assassination, but at this point we are able to identify several of the individuals with either knowledge of or direct involvement. At a minimum that list includes J.C. King, Richard Bissell, Tracy Barnes, Jake Esterline, John Roselli, Anthony Varona, Carl Jenkins, Anthony (Tony) Sforza, and Felix Rodriquez. [ 42 ]

Historically it should come as no shock to find political assassination as an element of the Cuba Project. Assassination had first been raised as a solution to the Cuba problem by Western Hemisphere Chief J.C. King as early as 1959. CIA Director Allen Dulles approved the tactic in concept, simply substituting the more acceptable term "elimination" in his recommendations. Both of the senior Cuba Project officers – Richard Bissell and Tracy Barnes – had previously been involved with assassination activities. Research suggests that the two men were used as "cut outs" in isolating actual assassination activities from the senior levels within the agency. [ 43 ]

In July, 1960 the CIA Havana station was advised that a possible elimination of the top three Castro regime leaders was being considered. That was clearly a faux pas as such things were not to be mentioned in official documents. A reversal was quickly inserted into the chain of correspondence. Yet that month Bissell ordered the development of a poison to be used against Castro, as well as a variety of tools which might be used to deliver it. Bissell also began searching for contacts which might be used to actually field the poison inside Cuba, ultimately turning to individuals within the old Havana casino crowd – individuals who most definitely wanted Castro gone and renewed access to what had been a highly lucrative source of revenue. The key to an introduction to the casino crowd proved to be Johnny Roselli, Meyer Lansky's long time troubleshooter who had been sent to improve the image of the casinos in pre-Castro Cuba.

Roselli was first asked to coordinate a sniper attack on Castro, but given the risk with Castro's increasingly effective security measures, he too felt that poison would be the most effective approach (much easier to sell to potential volunteers who would prefer to escape with their lives). Arrangements were made via an active Cuban exile leader, Antonio de Varona, to deliver the poison, however the effort was run so loosely and delayed for so long that only two last- minute efforts were actually made in the very last weeks before the landings at the Bay of Pigs. The final attempt, which actually might have worked, was frustrated by the sequestration of Varona (along with other exile leaders) during the landings in Cuba.

While the poison efforts eventually became known to the public, only recently have we come to know that a corollary effort occurred within the military element of the Cuba Project. That effort involved highly trained individuals who were being infiltrated into Cuba on very covert insertions to collect intelligence and contact on-island guerrilla groups.

During the first three months of 1961 at least two different assassination missions were planned. One mission was intended to be a sniper attack on Fidel Castro at a location near the Bay of Pigs resort where he routinely vacationed. It appears that plan may have included details of Castro's personal travel and activities, including information from sources previously close to Castro inside Cuba such as Frank Sturgis (Fiorini). In 1959, prior to his departure from Cuba, Sturgis himself had offered to personally carry out a lethal attack on Castro, however the CIA had declined his offer at that point in time.

A second plan actually did go operational; it involved the insertion of personnel who were to carry out a well-planned sniper attack on Fidel Castro at his retreat on Varadero Beach, east of Havana. The mission was supported with maps and annotated drawings of the Varadero (formerly DuPont owned) Estate. Those materials were prepared from aerial and satellite photo imagery processed by the technical staff assigned to the Miami station. We only know about these two assassination projects because certain of those personnel were later transferred to the National Photographic Interpretation Center (NPIC) and they provided information to the Church Committee on assassinations. The very limited records which describe the two plans were submitted to the Church Committee by managers at NPIC; they included statements from some eight personnel who had worked on projects related to attacks on Castro.

Security File on Frank Sturgis
Security File on Frank Sturgis,
HSCA Segregated CIA Collection,
Memorandum for the Record,
NARA Record Number:

According to Edward Cates, the chief of the Image Exploitation Group at NPIC, "a number of our photo interpreters [8 individuals] supported Carl Jenkins of the DD/P (Deputy Directorate of Plans) concerning a plan to assassinate Castro at the DuPont Veradero Beach Estate, east of Havana. Castro was known to frequent the estate and the plan was to use a high powered rifle in the attempt. The photo interpretation support was restricted to providing annotated photographs and line drawings of the estate." [ 44 ]

It appears that the CIA may have performed its own internal investigation of those missions in the mid-1970s. Two memoranda from June and August, 1975 record the statement of a Cuban CIA officer (in 1961 a contract employee) that he participated in three abortive Cuban infiltration missions, including an effort to land him near Varadero Beach. The objective of that mission was a long range rifle attack on Fidel Castro. One of the memos mentions the names of two Cubans involved in the mission, "Felix" and "Segundo". Based on that information, it appears that Carl Jenkins may have been transferred from his assignment heading the Cuba Project military training in order to manage a number of covert infiltration missions, at least one of which involved Felix Rodriquez and a sniper attack on Fidel Castro.

The "Segundo" mentioned in the CIA document is Segundo Borges Ransola. Felix Rodriquez verified Borges's identity and role in the Castro assassination project in an interview many years later – stating that both he and Segundo trained in Panama and then were asked to volunteer for the Castro attacks. Rodriquez noted that both he and Segundo were only 19 years old when they entered training in the Panama camp under Carl Jenkins and were later prepared and sent on special missions into Cuba prior to the Bay of Pigs. Borges would enter the record again in the summer of 1963, joining Manual Artime for a recruiting trip to Fort Benning, Georgia for a new and extremely covert anti-Castro project, carrying the code name AMWORLD. The AMWORLD effort was intended to be an autonomous and extremely deniable CIA project which would support military action against the Castro regime from locations in the Caribbean.

It is now possible to identify the vessel used to insert Rodriquez on his assassination missions as the Tejana III. A CIA-converted World War II sub chaser, the missions of the Tejana III began in late February, 1961 and ended in early April. The Tejana made four trips into Cuba during that period, carrying infiltration personnel and supplies for on-island groups intended to support the planned uprising. Some 27 personnel and 60 tons of supplies were covertly transported into Cuba. It appears that Felix Rodriquez was sent in on a one-man mission in early April, a mission which was forced to abort due to an engine problem with the Tejana III. [ 45 ]

A separate CIA document, the debriefing of Felix Rodriquez prior to his separation from the CIA in 1976 (and a very unusual authorization for the public disclosure of his CIA service), records his own statement that in December 1960 he had volunteered to kill Fidel Castro, stating that it was the only solution to the Cuban problem. He also stated that he had been supplied with a special sniper weapon for missions into Cuba and that he and another CIA Cuban had made three missions into Cuba. [ 46 ] Rodriquez did not identify the CIA officer who had given them the assignments or state any details of the missions. In his own biography, Rodriquez provides more detail on the assassination plan, describing a German bolt action sniper rifle with a telescopic sight. The rifle itself was pre-sighted according to the specifics of the mission, based on the exact location in which Castro was to be attacked.

The details of those highly secret assassination activities have only emerged in the decades following the Cuba Project; none were discussed in the numerous investigations and inquiries immediately following the failure at the Bay of Pigs. What is now clear is that following the disastrous landings at the Bay of Pigs, a number of the CIA officers operationally involved in the project, as well as the Cuban volunteers they trained and supervised had come to share both bitter feelings towards President Kennedy and considerable experience in planning and conducting assassination operations. Their early attempts against Castro had been defeated by strange combinations of chance and by constantly increasing Cuban security. However several of them would continue in assassination efforts well into 1963, committed to killing Castro and a crusade against communism in Cuba. [ 47 ]

Covert Action Against Cuba 1961-1962

For the Kennedy administration the year 1962 began with a reset in Cuban affairs. President Kennedy remained committed to action against Cuba, but it was going to be covert action – orchestrated at an interdepartmental level above the CIA. That program would officially begin early in the year, designated as Operation Mongoose and headed by a Kennedy appointee rather than a senior CIA officer. Unlike previous covert action projects Mongoose was not being run by the CIA. Instead the CIA was assigned to a support role, carried out by a relatively small group designated as Task Force W (headed by William Harvey) and with field operations conducted by the JMWAVE station in Miami.

Harvey had previously been involved in both counter intelligence and technical intelligence activities (having originally served as CIA Chief of Base in Berlin). At Harvey's request, David Morales (who had come into the CIA at the Berlin Station) was promoted to head of operations at JMWAVE in Miami. [ 48 ] During 1962 the Miami station would also get a new Station Chief, Ted Shackley. The station's maritime missions into Cuba were managed by veteran Cuba Project paramilitary officers including Rip Robertson.

Missions into Cuba were largely a continuation of the post-Bay of Pigs missions of 1961, limited in number and increasingly challenged by ever-increasing Cuban security. For obvious reasons, many 1961 missions in the months immediately following the Bay of Pigs appear to have been somewhat disorganized, suffering from both logistics issues and lack of good intelligence. One member of the Brigade's initial infiltration cadre, Victor Hernandez, continued on those missions. He later observed that throughout 1961 they seemed to accomplish nothing in particular. Worse yet the teams would depart on a mission, open unmarked boxes for ammunition, and find that it didn't even match the weapons they had been issued – that did not endear them to the CIA. After several months of frustration, Victor Hernandez left JMWAVE operations, disgusted by the lack of offensive action and with no confidence at all in the CIA's anti-Castro effort.

The period following the failed landings in Cuba, from the spring of 1961 until the advent of the Cuban Missile Crisis in the fall of 1962, is both complex and chaotic as regards the activities of the Kennedy administration, the CIA and the anti-Castro community. Maritime missions into Cuba did continue; Robertson and Lynch, the two CIA paramilitary advisors who had gone into the Bay of Pigs with Brigade 2506, were assigned to conduct covert maritime missions launched out of a CIA facility in the Florida Keys.

The ongoing CIA activities were largely focused on intelligence collection, efforts to assess the status of certain individuals inside Cuba, exfiltrating operatives left stranded on the island after the Bay of Pigs (including Felix Rodriguez and Nestor "Tony" Izquierdo), and dealing with the politics of the Cuba Project, both internally within the agency and with the Kennedy administration. Major internal CIA concerns included the number of security leaks which had occurred, the degree to which the project had been penetrated by Cuban intelligence, and the obvious lack of information on the actual situation on the ground inside Cuba.

A memorandum of April, 1961 states that the Cuba Project intelligence cadre trained by David Morales (cadre designated as AMOTS) were to be developed into an intelligence and security service based in Miami. This service was tasked with intelligence collection outside the country (Cuba and Mexico) as well as domestic activities. During this period a Miami station adjunct operation (using AMOTS) was established in Mexico City, apart from the regular CIA station there.

The following month, in May, the CIA Director of Counter Intelligence, James Angleton, was assigned to create a professional, organized, and highly motivated intelligence service to support the anti-Castro effort. Angleton spent several months on his Cuban assignment, presenting his final report to the Special Group in the fall. By the end of 1961 the AMOTs had become a key element of JMWAVE's Cuban intelligence service, used both domestically and out of the Mexico City adjunct station.

The Cuban intelligence service personnel (who continued to be referred to in documents as AMOTs) also performed training in conducting wire taps and surveillance for the contract employees of the Mexico City CIA station. In addition, regular CIA JMWAVE staff on temporary assignment, working as "outsiders", performed a variety of activities targeting the Communist Party of Mexico and supported counter intelligence and "dirty tricks" efforts against the Cuban embassy staff in Mexico City. Propaganda and counter intelligence by the CIA's Mexico City station was overseen by former Cuba Project propaganda Chief David Phillips, assigned to Mexico City following his Cuba Project work. [ 49 ]

Tony Sforza would later be assigned to take over the AMOT unit in 1963, following his exit from Cuba. [ 50 ] Sforza had eventually been successfully exfiltrated from under very deep cover inside Cuba, where he had continued to work on activities ranging from the CIA's successful contacts with Fidel Castro's sister to ongoing efforts with on-island anti-Castro groups in efforts to assassinate Castro. [ 51 ]

CIA Memorandum to FBI, Subject: Alpha 66
CIA Memorandum to FBI, Subject:
Alpha 66 / An Anti-Castro Organization,
September 6, 1962

As for Angleton, he returned to Cuban affairs again during 1962, offering advice and support for CIA officer William Harvey in yet another highly compartmentalized and secret effort to assassinate Fidel Castro. For the anti-Communist Cuban community, the extreme disappointment and frustration of 1961 extended well into 1962. That frustration was reflected by increasing efforts to take matters into their own hands and conduct military actions independent of the CIA and the U.S. government. [ 52 ] And as the year progressed, the surviving members of the original Cuban Expeditionary Force remained imprisoned in Cuba.

Still, a number of the highly trained infiltration cadre that had been originally trained under Carl Jenkins remained operational, although relegated to performing relatively minor missions under officers such as Bay of Pigs veterans Rip Robertson and Grayston Lynch. The paramilitary personnel involved in those missions are of special interest because of the strength of their anti-Castro commitment, and the degree to which they remained militarily active in both sanctioned and unsanctioned efforts against the Castro regime over a number of years.

They had been among the first of the volunteers for the Cuba Project and had become the earliest trainees, initially in the Panama training camp and then in Guatemala, both under CIA military officer Carl Jenkins. Following Guatemala they were detached for advanced training at Belle Chase in Louisiana and finally taken to Florida to be utilized in extremely covert maritime infiltration missions into Cuba. [ 53 ]

In addition to individuals such as Felix Rodriquez and Segundo Borges, others became involved in ongoing missions during 1962 and onwards. Mission personnel included Nestor (Tony) Izquierdo, who had also been among the earliest CIA recruits, having already been a member of inside Cuba of Artime's "Commandos Rurales" anti-Castro revolutionary group – a group which included Rafael Quintero and Carlos Hernandez.

Carlos Hernandez had also been an early volunteer for the Cuba Project, identified in CIA records as having had a black belt in Judo and being a sharpshooter. It was his expertise in Judo and his friendship with Artime that had led Artime to request Hernandez as his personal bodyguard while Artime was traveling in Latin America in 1960 before the landings in Cuba. Men such as Rodriquez, Izquierdo, Hernandez and Quintero represented some of the most highly trained and skilled paramilitary operatives coming out of the original Cuba Project.

These individuals were among those most committed not only to the anti-Castro cause, but to military action against the Castro regime. That commitment would continue into 1963 - and beyond - and their names will appear again when we turn to a discussion of the context for a conspiracy targeting President Kennedy.

They represented some of the most capable and most experienced of the CIA-trained anti-Castro Cubans – with advanced training in infantry combat, guerrilla operations, and sabotage as well as radio communications. [ 54 ] The list of these trainees includes a number of names that became ongoing figures in actions against Castro throughout the 1960's, both for the CIA and independently in unsanctioned Cuban exile operations. The list includes Felix Rodriquez, Segundo Borges, Nestor Izquierdo, Carlos Hernandez, Victor Espinosa Hernandez, Jorge Giraud, and Frank Bernardino.

Several of these individuals had been separated from the majority of the Brigade 2506 trainees in late 1960, moved from Guatemala to Belle Chase Louisiana and from there into safe houses in Florida. From there they were deployed into highly secret missions into Cuba, managed out of the CIA's base in the Florida Keys (JMFIG). [ 55 ] Available documents of the missions they were involved in give us considerable insight into their skills and the level of risk they were routinely called on to take in covert CIA missions. [ 56 ]

AMHAZE cryptonym
The crypt AMHAZE appears to broadly refer
to covert maritime missions and mission
personnel related to several types of
missions into Cuba. Individual missions
carried their own crypts.

While many of those maritime missions remain to be explored, we do know details of one involving an AMHAZE team, a team involving Carlos Hernandez and designated as Operation Yeast. [ 57 ] That mission was to launch from Ramrod Key and connect with DRE (AMSPELL) student resistance group elements already operating in Cuba's Oriente Province. Mission documents reveal that Operation Yeast aborted due to the presence of Castro military forces in the intended landing area. Other operations (PEPE, PATRICIO and GORDO) sent in teams including Carlos Hernandez and Jorge Giraud (AMHAZE-2524) to contact and coordinate with DRE resistance groups – all those missions aborted, reportedly compromised by Cuban counter intelligence. Such operational failures created a deep level of mistrust within the DRE organization, mistrust not of its members but of CIA/American commitment and capabilities.

Mission logistics and operations appear to have improved towards the end of 1962, but even then most still involved only weapons drops or personnel infiltrations. The few attempts at sabotage were relatively limited. Team Cobra was put in place inside Cuba in the spring of 1962, establishing an active resistance network for a time. The AMTORRID team was sent into Oriente province in June, but was forced out within a few months, leaving only two CIA assets in place, one of them a radio operator. Sabotage operations turned to economic rather than military targets. An abortive effort was made to bomb mining operations at Matahambre and Nicaro, with the CIA team leader captured in the effort. [ 58 ]

CIA officers Grayston Lynch and Rip Robertson personally led teams on several these covert maritime missions, and Robertson became one of the most respected mission leaders among the Cuban volunteers, known for his aggressiveness and his dedication to them. While CIA personnel were directed never to actually participate in combat missions, Robertson never sent his teams into danger on their own. And he never hesitated to go in to recover them if they came under attack. [ 59 ] The bond between Robertson and his paramilitary operatives was intense; it was an emotional experience for all those involved and the Cuban volunteers were forced to trust their CIA case officers implicitly – normally given little or no details on their missions beforehand, and simply following orders.

Robertson's commando team leader, Ramon Orosco, described one mission where an assault team went into Cuba and failed to reappear for retrieval. Rather than wait, Robertson simply grabbed one of his most trusted men, Nestor Izquierdo, loaded a boat with rockets and recoilless rifles and went looking for them himself – once again against standing orders. He recovered the team, which was not at all surprised to see him; they had faith the "old man" would never abandon them. Orosco captured the relationship with Rip succinctly:

"I loved Rip but oh my God...he was not the kind of man you would want as your enemy...it was difficult for him to adjust...he wanted an open war and we were waging a silent one." [ 60 ]

Miscellaneous Records of the Church Committee, William Harvey
SSCIA Record Number 157-10014-10102.
Miscellaneous Records of the
Church Committee, William Harvey

Apart from ongoing maritime missions, the Miami Station also provided support for the reactivation of the Cuba Project's effort to assassinate Fidel Castro. That new initiative was tasked to and managed by William Harvey. [ 61 ] Harvey again reached out to Johnny Roselli and during 1962 further attempts were made, using Roselli's former contacts with Cuban exile political figure Antonio Verona. While Harvey himself worked primarily out of Washington, field operations were carried out by the JMWAVE station, and the assassination support efforts were personally handled by station chief Shackley and operations chief Morales. [ 62 ] Documents now available suggest a particularly strong personal bond developed between Harvey, Johnny Roselli and a CIA officer designated as "Dave M", undoubtedly Morales.

The renewed Castro assassination effort once again established a connection into Cuba using the services of Tony Varona, still a major conservative figure in anti-Castro politics and a member of the U.S. backed Cuban Revolutionary Council. The agreement with Varona offered weapons and supplies for his group in exchange for access to his contacts inside Cuba. [ 63 ] That activity reinforced the connection between Roselli and Varona, but towards the end of 1962 (following the resolution of the Cuban Missile Crisis) Varona would begin to turn both personally, and on behalf of the CRC, against Kennedy Administration policies on Cuba.

A point which must also be mentioned is that beyond the Harvey/Roselli/Varona connection, the renewed assassination effort once again brought counter intelligence Chief James Angleton into Cuban affairs, both in support of the Castro assassination efforts and personally in support of William Harvey. Harvey's own 1961 notes reveal that when he was first tasked with setting up a covert political assassination capability, his first thoughts included going to Angleton to discuss how to set up a cover for the effort within the agency.

It would have to have extreme compartmentalization, including a disguise for its funding and operational expenses. There were also issues of what resources to use; they would have to be non-CIA affiliated, even potentially foreign. Another early challenge was a protocol for creating patsies with any such assassinations, if at all possible blaming them on Soviet or other communist-associated actors. [ 64 ] Harvey's notes mention that the word "assassination" must never be used, all activities must be verbal and undocumented, all peripherally related backstop documents must be forged and backdated and any files on the project must be disguised as counter intelligence activities.

Aside from personal advice, Angleton made introductions for Harvey to a British counter intelligence officer to discuss practices and the possibility of outsourcing activities. Beyond that Angeleton arranged for one of his own contacts inside Cuba to support Harvey as needed. Angleton's involvement in Cuban affairs has not been widely discussed; there has been a general view that Harvey and Angleton were competitors and quite distant from each other. However, using papers provided by Harvey's wife, his biographer makes a clear case that there was a strong three way friendship between not only Harvey and Angleton but a bond between the two men and "David M", almost certainly David Morales. Following Harvey's retirement, he and Angleton renewed a correspondence, with letters exchanged between the two men up to the time of Harvey's death.

In terms of social bonding, it is also clear that a strong personal relationship – based in the Castro assassination project – developed between Harvey and Johnny Roselli. Even when that project was terminated at the end of 1962, the two men continued to meet. Such meetings occurred in Florida, and in Washington D.C., with Roselli even staying at the Harvey home. The ongoing meetings continued even after Harvey was given specific orders to cease the relationship based on an active investigation of Roselli by the FBI and Justice Department.

Anti-Castro Activism 1961-1962

The CIA's failure at the Bay of Pigs and its secret, very low-profile operational activities against Cuba during 1962 left a number of anti-Castro activists, both Cubans and Americans, at loose ends. With the lack of any visible American effort against Castro following the landings in Cuba, both individuals and groups began to take action on their own. That meant seeking supplies and weapons, and conducting independent (albeit minor) boat and air missions into Cuba. Those efforts created a new series of linkages between anti-Castro activists – and those linkages began to extend beyond Florida, from Miami to New Orleans, and later to the Cuban exile communities in New York, Chicago and Dallas.

Elements of the first Cuba Project had already led to an expanded CIA presence in the New Orleans area during 1960/1961. Of course the CIA had always had a presence in the city of New Orleans, as it does in most major metropolitan areas which have substantial international diplomatic or business activity. That presence falls under CIA Domestic Contacts, and includes efforts to use American business persons (as well as Americans who have lived overseas, particularly in nations of interest) as sources for "open" foreign intelligence collections – the sort of information which comes up during travel, during business transactions and in meetings with foreign contacts, both inside the United States and on business travel. The CIA has a long history in developing business and corporate leaders as sources (and as assets, ranging from courier duty to the provision of corporate intelligence).

Of course prominent American business persons have always voluntarily offered intelligence to the military services, to government agencies, even directly to presidents – generally in the form of information intended to influence American foreign policy in regard to their own political views or business interests. On a less lofty level, the CIA specifically cultivated managers and employees of the international trade centers in major cities as sources. In New Orleans, an employee of its Trade Center, Clay Shaw, served as a source of foreign intelligence as well as an asset during his own international travel. As standard practice the identities of such sources are well protected by the CIA – which will identify neither its employees, contractors, detailed military personnel, or its various sources and assets.

During 1960 and early 1961 additional CIA presence in and around New Orleans involved a number of peripheral Cuba Project support activities. One of those was associated with the project's propaganda campaign. New Orleans has always had strong ties into the Caribbean and Central American nations, key targets for anti-communist and anti-Castro messaging. The individual responsible for that element of the Cuba Project was David Phillips, and in 1960 Phillips reportedly appeared in New Orleans, looking for covers and tools to support anti-Castro messaging.

Based on information from a local anti-communist figure, Gordon Novel, it appears that David Phillips appeared in New Orleans, holding meetings in late 1960 with other anti-communist figures including Guy Banister and Sergio Arcacha Smith (a Cuban exile activist). The goal was to organize a telethon showcasing the plight of a communist Cuba and presenting the case for action against Castro as supported by the exile community. It would have raised money for the Cuban exile front (the Frente); Arcacha Smith represented the leadership of that group, headquartered in Miami. [ 65 ] Novel's story of the meetings is corroborated by documents disclosing an urgent request by the CIA late in 1960 to clear Banister's business as a CIA cover company.

Office of Security Files, Central Intelligence Agency
Office of Security Files,
Central Intelligence Agency

Beyond that propaganda initiative, the New Orleans area played an operational role only in the last three months before the landings in Cuba, almost a year after the project had been approved by President Eisenhower. Only in February 1961, some two months before the landings in Cuba, was a largely abandoned Navy facility near New Orleans hastily reopened and hurriedly equipped (under CIA contract employee Grayston Lynch) as a training facility, concentrating primarily on explosives training and the preparation of exile frogmen who would be deployed at the Bay of Pigs. [ 66 ]

And only in the last weeks before the landings was a special unit formed at Belle Chase, under Nino Diaz. Its mission was ostensibly to conduct a diversionary action in the mountains of eastern Cuba. The true nature of that unit and its mission remains somewhat mysterious; what we do know is that they loaded supplies and sailed with only marginally trained personnel only days before the landings – and Diaz failed even to put his group ashore, ultimately returning them to the United States. [ 67 ]

The Belle Chase facility only operated for some three months in early 1961 and was sanitized and abandoned by the CIA after the disaster at the Bay of Pigs. [ 68 ] The paperwork relating to the closure and sanitization of the facility was signed by David Phillips, suggesting that he was the senior CIA officer operating in the area. The location and disposition of the explosives made available for the Belle Chase training is not stated, but an incident of a few months later suggests that at least some of the explosives may have been "liberated" for future anti-Castro action.

During the Garrison investigation Gordon Novel claimed CIA privilege in not offering detailed testimony. That privilege likely related not only to his meetings with David Phillips, but also to the theft of explosives during the summer of 1961 - a theft which he claimed was actually sanctioned by his CIA contact. Those explosives (and blasting caps) were removed from a storage bunker at the Schlumberger facility at Houma Louisiana, some 50 miles southwest of New Orleans. The explosives were removed by a group of individuals including Novel, Sergio Arcacha Smith, Carlos Quiroga, and David Ferrie (among others).

Documents indicate that Ferrie was also monitored on travels to Miami that year, suspected of involvement in weapons smuggling. The extent of that investigation is unclear, but Ferrie explained his trips to Miami as innocent travel, related to scouting out potential field trips for his Civil Air Patrol trainees. Only much later did it become known that one of Ferrie's CAP trainees was Lee Harvey Oswald. Oswald reportedly first met Ferrie through attending classes and later joined Ferrie's independent CAP squadron in 1955. While unproven, the possibility also exists that it was David Ferrie himself who visited Oswald's mother, encouraging her to let Oswald enlist in the Marine Corps. [ 69 ]

Carlos Quiroga New Orleans Parish Grand Jury Testimony
To say that Quiroga was an unwilling
witness would be an understatement –
as revealed in his statement to the Grand
Jury convened in support of District
Attorney Garrison’s inquiry. Orleans Parish
Grand Jury Special Investigation,
May 24, 1967

Versions of the Houma incident vary, some suggesting Novel had been given a key to the bunker, others that locks and bolts had to be cut. Reportedly the explosives were temporarily stored at Ferrie's and Guy Banister's office before being carried off to be used by exile activists in attacks against Cuba. One of the participants (Carlos Quiroga) stated that he helped put explosives in a U-Haul trailer destined for Miami. [ 70 ] In retrospect and given the timing of the Houma theft, well after the Bay of Pigs landings had failed, it's quite possible that the "theft" might well have been as Novel described, with guidance from a CIA officer associated with the camp. And according to Novel himself, he did have direct personal contact with the individual who eventually wrote the internal CIA summary of activities at the Belle Chase base, David Phillips. [ 71 ]

The New Orleans linkages are important for a number of reasons, including the fact that they reveal a precedent for CIA propaganda activities in New Orleans. Two years later, in 1963 we will find two individuals (George Joannides and William Kent) who worked in CIA propaganda; over time both men established temporary residences and conducted still classified activities in New Orleans. Both Joannides and Kent served as CIA political/propaganda case officers for the DRE. And DRE members, including Carlos Quiroga, would become key to the pro-Castro public image of Lee Harvey Oswald which resulted from his time in New Orleans in the summer of 1963. Years later, in private remarks to his family, Kent would refer to Lee Oswald as a "useful idiot". [ 72 ]

Dan Hardway, “An Operational Sketch”, 2014
Dan Hardway, “An Operational Sketch”,

While the Kennedy Administration definitely continued its covert anti-Castro efforts during 1962, they were highly secret and as low profile as possible. Given that lack of visibility the anti-Castro community inside the United States became increasingly frustrated.

That community had come to consist of three different factions: Cuban exiles and expatriates associated with literally dozens of organized groups (some such as the DRE with CIA support; others not), exiles and patriots acting independently and avoiding association with the CIA, and a small community of Americans with military experience. Several of the Americans had actively joined in the Cuban revolution against Batista, some serving with revolutionary forces inside Cuba. Once back in the United States they came to actively – and vocally – oppose the Castro regime that had emerged from their efforts. Beginning in 1961 they were highly visible in the Miami area (and in local news coverage), offering their services to train and support anti-Castro activists in missions against Castro's regime.

The relationships between the anti-Castro factions and activists became quite complex. As an example, Carlos Hernandez had been one of the earliest volunteers for the Cuba Project, had gone through training in Panama and Guatemala, and was selected for special training at Belle Chase, then going on to Florida for infiltration missions into Cuba. After the Bay of Pigs, he had stayed on at JMWAVE, participating in boat missions into Cuba. However he had also been an MRR member inside Cuba, later joined the DRE and become an active DRE military mission leader. During 1962 Hernandez and a number of DRE members were simultaneously involved in CIA-sanctioned boat missions into Cuba under Robertson and Lynch and were also participants in unsanctioned, independent military activities. [ 73 ]

AMSPELL [DRE] Progress Report for August, 1962
CIA memorandum, Chief of Station
JMWAVE to Chief of Task Force W
[William Harvey], AMSPELL [DRE]
Progress Report for August, 1962

During 1962 Hernandez was serving with JMWAVE on boat missions; he also participated in a covert political action effort to disrupt an International Youth Conference in Helsinki. Upon his return to Florida he was advised that a Miami weapons dealer was offering a great price on cannons, recoilless rifles and machine guns. [ 74 ]

That was exactly the type of weapon needed for a high-profile attack against ground installations inside Cuba, and Hernandez immediately followed up on the deal, with the result being a DRE boat mission which shelled Czech and Russian military advisors at a hotel in Miramar, Cuba – outside Havana. Hernandez and Juan Blanco Fernandez led the mission and went on to become military leaders for the DRE.

The attack gained international attention; the Justice Department identified the participants and announced they would be prosecuted for neutrality violations. [ 75 ] In reality, Hernandez continued his service with the CIA, his membership in the DRE, and following two more non-sanctioned DRE efforts to bomb Cuba in 1963, was recruited into the new, highly secret CIA AMWORLD project in the fall of 1963.

The activist American anti-Castro community in Miami included highly public figures such as Frank Sturgis, Gerry Hemming, Roy Hargraves, William Seymour, Larry DeJoseph, Lawrence Hall, Steve Wilson, and Larry Howard. All were frequently in the news in Miami during 1962 and into 1963, either due to abortive attempts to run boat missions against Cuba or more often in publicity and fund-raising efforts. For some months in 1962 Hemming and Fiorini consolidated their efforts, forming a "virtual" commando group designated as INTERPEN (Intercontinental Penetration Force). [ 76 ] While it carried out no successful missions, it did conduct training for several of the smaller and less experienced Cuban exile groups. In contrast, groups such as DRE maintained their own military cadre, supported by CIA funding. DRE, MRR and JURE also managed to raise private monies, and maintained small anti-Castro forces both inside Cuba and elsewhere in the Caribbean.

1962 also saw new linkages between Miami and New Orleans anti-Castro activists, largely due to increasing pressure on the independent actors. While the Kennedy administration and the CIA were endeavoring to conduct "quiet" covert action against Cuba as part of the Mongoose program, individuals and groups not involved with the CIA were beginning to doubt the sincerity of the American effort and began taking matters into their own hands.

But independent military missions against Cuba, especially those launched from Florida, were becoming increasingly challenging. The Mongoose project included an effort to control all anti-Castro action and the CIA as well as other federal agencies (including INS and the FBI) were encouraged to discover and interdict such missions – whether conducted by boat or aircraft.

One of the alternatives to Florida-based operations which was pursued during the summer of 1962 was for the Cuban Revolutionary Council to open its only training facility in Louisiana, to be staffed by American volunteers from the INTERPEN community. To that end Frank Sturgis sent one of his aides, Larry DeJoseph, on a survey trip to New Orleans. That effort was supported by David Ferrie, who offered the use of his personal aircraft and flew missions scouting rural areas for a potential camp. [ 77 ] Unfortunately for the project, by that time INTERPEN had gotten enough local media visibility in Miami that it drew increased federal attention and the effort aborted. Perhaps the most significant result of that brief effort was the personal involvement of David Ferrie, and the continuation of an anti-Castro linkage between New Orleans and Miami.

Somewhat surprisingly, despite all the press and media attention received by individuals such as Hemming and Fiorini/Sturgis, they actually never carried out successful penetration missions into Cuba. By 1963 only one American associated with Sturgis and Hemming actually managed to carry out a high-profile mission into Cuba. Roy Hargraves had begun to act more and more independently into 1963 and scored major media coverage with a boat mission which managed to attack Cuban security forces and capture a number of Cuban fishing boats. [ 78 ] Hargraves had distanced himself from INTERPEN, preferring to organize his own missions - working with his close Cuban friend, Felipe Vidal Santiago. Felipe Vidal was a former Cuban naval officer, and while he did not affiliate himself with the larger and more publicly visible groups, he was well respected and well networked in the anti-Castro community. [ 79 ]

As noted above, during 1962 the Kennedy Administration was increasingly encouraging law enforcement efforts intended to intercept and obstruct efforts of the anti-Castro activists. While many missions were interdicted, highly visible attacks against Cuba were carried by DRE during August and September of 1962. Those attacks received considerable media attention and garnered a spurt of private contributions at a time when fundraising was a real challenge for all the increasingly independent Cuban exile groups.

House Select Committee on Assassinations, Volume X, Section IX, Overview of the DRE group
House Select Committee on Assassinations,
Volume X, Section IX,
Overview of the DRE group

Those raids were made possible because the DRE had managed to field a couple of its own vessels, and had also managed to maintain its long-time contacts with a number of weapons brokers, allowing it to build up an inventory of automatic weapons including machine guns and recoilless rifles. DRE held something of a special status, enhanced by the fact that during the Cuba Project, the CIA had repeatedly tried to move weapons to DRE groups inside Cuba. Following the failure of the landings at the Bay of Pigs, the DRE had been given continued support by the CIA, both for political and propaganda efforts and to regain a military auxiliary. [ 80 ]

The relationship between the CIA and the DRE was complex, with conflicting agendas on both sides. DRE military members were retained and protected by the CIA, used in sanctioned activities while continuing to pursue their own unsanctioned efforts. Yet in 1962 DRE missions became a major 1962 topic for the American press, particularly news magazines such as LIFE and the Saturday Evening Post.

Along with the media coverage of independent exile raids, the Cuban exile community did have some reason to hope that the Kennedy Administration would ultimately move against Castro. The idea of direct American military action against Cuba had been growing throughout the summer of 1962. There were news stories of a large scale American Navy-Marine military exercise in the Caribbean. Philbriglex-62 was designated as a liberation of the fictional "Republic of Vieques" from the rule of a dictator named Ortsac ("Castro" spelled in reverse). The exercise involved major elements of the U.S. Navy in the Atlantic, including 40 Navy combat and logistics vessels. The exercise included a planned landing of 7,500 marines on Vieques, an island off Puerto Rico's eastern coast.

That landing was described as an exercise to overthrow a fictional island based dictator (obviously Castro), disposing of his regime over a two week period. All elements of the exercise were carried out with the exception of the actual amphibious force landing - cancelled at the last minute due to the risk of a hurricane moving into the area. [ 81 ] Much of the logistics planning for the Philbriglex -62 exercise, and many of the same units, were soon integrated into a very real and imminent Cuban invasion plan, prepared in the earliest days of the Cuban Missile Crisis only months later.

While President Kennedy was active in ordering and supporting major conventional military exercises, both in SE Asia and in the Caribbean, he rejected pressure from the Joint Chiefs to turn to direct military action during the missile crisis. Ironically, it would be JFK's successor who would be the one to actually activate some of the conventional options that Kennedy had overseen in earlier exercises. [ 82 ]

Castro himself had continued to openly test the Kennedy Administration. In August 1962 Cuban patrol boats had actually fired on a U.S. Navy aircraft some fifteen miles off Cuba, in international waters. In responding to that incident as well as ongoing Cuban sponsorship of anti-government factions and communist agitation across Central America, President Kennedy had declared that the United States would use whatever means necessary to prevent Castro from exporting his revolution. [ 83 ]

At the same time, anti-Castro sources within Cuba, primarily among the DRE, had been providing intelligence on a growing Russian military buildup for some months. Then in October, the sensational revelation of Russian ballistic missiles was confirmed. The Cuban exile community universally assumed this meant the Castro regime would be removed though conventional American military action - as part of an American response to the missile threat. Instead it was shocked by an agreement which appeared to guarantee that the United States would not act against Cuba. It was a "bombshell"; interviews with members of the Cuban exile community described it as "soul shattering" and the word "traitor" was heard where anti-Castro activists congregated. [ 84 ]

During the winter of 1962/63 the Kennedy administration began a "reset" of its anti-Castro programs following the missile crisis negotiations. It also completed its efforts to negotiate the return of the Brigade 2506 prisoners (along with certain Americans) who had been held in Cuban prisons. [ 85 ] The primary negotiator on prisoner releases was William Donovan.

At the same time, in a public demonstration of support for the non-intervention agreement, orders went out to all agencies of the U.S. government to interdict any further missions against Cuba - by any anti-Castro group. Even sanctioned groups such as the DRE, which had enjoyed something of a hands-off policy in its military efforts, were directed to cease action against Cuba.

Within months, what had seemed to be the certainty of American action against Castro simply evaporated and independent groups including both DRE and Alpha 66 (a newly organized group which had launched its own missions into Cuba and was highly visible in the media promoting action against Castro prior to the Cuban Missile Crisis) faced a concentrated American government effort to prevent their military activities.

To some extent the return of the Brigade 2506 prisoners to Miami in December, 1962 only served to highlight frustrations within the exile community. While the Kennedy Administration had worked on their release for some two years, the United States had accomplished virtually nothing more in the cause for which the Brigade volunteers had been recruited. It had conducted a major negotiation which obtained their freedom, but only with an agreement which involved sending Castro some $53 million worth of badly needed food and medicine, strengthening rather than weakening his regime.

President Kennedy's welcome address to the members of Brigade 2506 at the Orange Bowl in Miami included a promise that the Brigade's flag would be returned and raised in a free Havana. Yet during 1963 there would be little visible evidence that Kennedy was actually acting to deliver on that highly public promise.

Helter Skelter – 1963

Church Committee Interim Report, Section 3, 140
Church Committee Interim Report,
Section 3, 140

As 1963 began, the focused but ineffectual interdepartmental anti-Castro effort designated as Mongoose faded away (as did Task Force W under William Harvey), replaced by another high level working group officially under the leadership of the State Department. On January 4, 1963 JFK had requested that State consolidate all Cuban activities and reorganize an interdepartmental group for strategy and planning. That directive was paralleled by an NSC directive to restructure the anti-Castro effort. As part of the new effort, the CIA designated Desmond Fitzgerald to lead its Cuban activities. Fitzgerald headed yet one more anti-Castro team, even more neutrally named. His new group – the Special Affairs Staff (SAS) – replaced Task Force W in supporting the broader effort against Castro.

By January 25, 1963 the State Department had established the new high level Cuba group (the Cuba Coordinating Committee), headed by John Crimmins. The group worked from Washington DC, with an office in Miami. Its activities were led by Sterling Cottrell and his deputy Bob Hurwich. Throughout 1963 high level planning to oust the Castro regime occurred within that new interdepartmental committee – with Robert Kennedy's participation. [ 86 ]

The Special Group Augmented Cuba covert action oversight group had disbanded with the dissolution of Mongoose. While covert action remained delegated to the CIA, it was carried out under oversight of the Special Group, but without RFK's direct participation. Strategy development was officially designated to the Cuba Coordinating Committee; however its immediate and primary focus was largely limited to political and military intelligence as well as the evaluation of political action opportunities inside Cuba.

CIA maritime missions into Cuba continued, with upwards of a dozen a month, but they were almost entirely devoted to intelligence collection, infiltration, exfiltration, and weapons caching. A study of the JMWAVE message traffic shows that intelligence focused on Cuban military movements and in particular on Soviet supply and deployment activities.

Yet as the administration was beginning its "reset" of covert action against Cuba, something very much unanticipated occurred. As William Donovan was wrapping up his prisoner release work he was asked to carry a very private message back to the United States. Upon his return he informed the State Department of a striking and unexpected political outreach from Fidel Castro. Castro had extended an offer to open a dialogue with the goal of improving Cuban-American relations, Donovan outlined the Castro outreach in a confidential memo to Secretary of State Dean Rusk, copied to CIA Director McCone. Word of Castro's surprise contact was quickly passed to President Kennedy.

Kennedy Sought Dialog with Castro, National Security Archive, November 24, 2002
Kennedy Sought Dialogue with Castro,
National Security Archive,
November 24, 2002

JFK responded with interest and openness to the Castro outreach. Kennedy directed that no conditions on discussions should be set that Castro could not fulfill and that more "flexibility" in the American approach to Cuba was in order. [ 87 ]

Donovan went back to Cuba early in April, 1963, and when he returned to the U.S. he was debriefed by the CIA. Director McCone himself advised President Kennedy that Castro knew that relations with the U.S. were necessary and that Castro wanted such relations developed. President Kennedy met privately with McCone and expressed great interest in opening up communications with Castro.

McCone responded that he would be sending Donovan back to Cuba; following that visit McCone characterized Castro's tone as mild, frank, and conciliatory. He also commented that in asides, Vallejo (Castro's private physician and designated backchannel) had told Donovan that Castro realized a viable Cuba (and Cuban economy) required a rapprochement with the U.S. Castro simply did not know how to go about that, so it had been impossible to discuss the subject in any detail with Donovan.

American reporter Lisa Howard had been trying for months following the Cuban Missile Crisis to obtain an interview with Fidel Castro and finally managed to do just that in early spring. At the end of April Castro allowed Howard to record a personal interview for broadcast by the ABC network. In that interview, Castro expressed his personal openness to a change in the relationship between Cuba and the United States.

Also in April, William Harvey (who had returned to his Staff D technical counter intelligence work following the disbanding of Task Force W) joined John Roselli for an extended meeting in Florida. The meeting was officially designated as a termination of the executive action program which had been pursuing the assassination of Castro. The men spent several days together, apparently including a couple of days on the water. Another person was present during part of the meeting - a dinner involving the individual was put on Harvey's expense report. Given that David Morales was in charge of operations at JMWAVE, and that the station had provided the primary operational support for the assassination project over the previous two years, it is certainly possible that the third individual meeting with Harvey and Roselli was Morales.

Interview with William Harvey’s Widow, JFK Facts, August 28, 2019
Interview with William Harvey’s
Widow, JFK Facts, August 28, 2019

What is not a matter of speculation is the fact that with the discontinuation of Mongoose, the dissolution of Task Force W, and the orders to cease the efforts to assassinate Castro, William Harvey had become extremely bitter towards both Robert and John Kennedy. In fact there is every indication that he literally hated JFK. [ 88 ] Given the events following the Cuban Missile Crisis, and with word circulating at senior levels of the CIA (Harvey was personally close to both Helms and Angleton) about a diplomatic approach from Castro, there is little doubt that the conversations between Harvey and Roselli (and any JMWAVE personnel who might have been involved) would have included a discussion of Cuba, and the possibility of some rapprochement between Castro and the United States.

The Lisa Howard/Castro interview aired on American television on May 10, 1963. Howard had been debriefed by the CIA upon her return to the U.S. and on May 1, Richard Helms had written Director McCone a three page memorandum on that debriefing, covering the economic problems faced by Castro and his recognition of the need for improving relations with the U.S. Helms' memorandum was copied to a number of Agency and Administration chiefs including the Defense Intelligence Agency, National Intelligence Board, State Department Intelligence, Presidential National Security advisor McGeorge Bundy, Attorney General Robert Kennedy and others.

A note on the memorandum indicates that it had been read by the president. Helms also took the opportunity to insert himself into the process with negative comments on Lisa Howard's offer to serve as an intermediary. In a response to Helms' May 1 memo. McCone responded 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."

There is no doubt that senior CIA officers were extremely skeptical, and would increasingly oppose any dialogue with Castro as to improving relations. The primary focus at JMWAVE remained a quest to find a new strategy for covert action to oust Castro, rather than talk with him. In contrast no new, higher level, strategy had emerged from the Cuban Coordinating Committee. The most visible new Kennedy Administration initiative was the announcement of a crackdown on independent Cuban exile group missions against Cuba from the United States.

A Special Group covert action meeting on April 3 included discussion of resuming sabotage raids into Cuba - but no decisions were reached. Finally, on April 11 Fitzgerald proposed three sabotage missions to be conducted by JMWAVE during April and May. That proposal was revisited on April 18, but with the admonition that any major sabotage program would take 4-6 months more to actually implement.

Fitzgerald met with the Cuba Coordinating Committee on April 26, proposing a new covert action political initiative (intended to fragment the Castro regime), and a renewal of a sabotage program – with no conclusions reached. In a follow-on meeting of April 28 he again raised the issue to the Special Group but no actions were authorized. With no progress on the SAS proposals from Fitzgerald, on May 23, the Special Group was advised that the Army was well underway in planning for covert actions against Cuba, to be taken under military control.

As previously noted, JFK was continuing to pursue the option of handing off covert action to the military – as was being done against North Vietnam. At his direction the Joint Chiefs of Staff began actively evaluating the CIA's efforts and planning for how they would pursue a program of covert military action conducted by the Department of Defense – specifically by Commander in Chief, U.S. Atlantic Command. [ 89 ]

The covert action oversight group was told that the military plans being prepared included large scale action against Cuba, including sabotage operations. [ 90 ] At the end of May renewed strikes against Cuba remained a matter only of discussion within the coordinating committee and the Special Group. It would not be before June 8 that Fitzgerald returned with yet another proposal for covert action, including both harassment activities and major sabotage missions.

While this "churning" was going on among the different committees and agencies, Manuel Artime (who had been traveling widely in Central America during March and April, seeking support for a new effort under his leadership) had met with Desmond Fitzgerald and RFK. Artime proposed covert American funding for a new effort, with the understanding there would be no direct CIA management as in earlier Cuba projects. It was Artime's proposal that would actually jell, gaining RFK's support.

In the interim, direct involvement by President Kennedy appears to have resolved the apparent decision-making churn on covert action, and on June 19 JFK gave a high level approval for the program proposed by Fitzgerald, authorizing both strikes and new covert political action moves which might bring about a coup against Castro (the AMTRUNK project). With that authority the Special Group reviewed specific projects; two were rejected but others were released for action in July. As it turned out the two were actually delayed into August. [ 91 ]

With a general interest in covert action against Cuba continuing in Washington, JMWAVE began to prepare its own new initiative. Based on remarks by William Shackley, the new concept was a creation of he and David Morales, with Morales handpicking a very select group of Cuban mission personnel to go into special training for extremely compartmentalized maritime sabotage missions. The missions would be carried out with a hand-picked group of the most experienced JMWAVE Cuban operators, individuals such as Nestor "Tony" Izquierdo and others who had previously conducted missions under Rip Robertson and Grayston Lynch. [ 92 ]

However, the increasing pace of operations, combined with the recruiting of some experienced JMWAVE personnel into the AMWORLD project, did bring new recruits into play. At least one of those individuals, Remegio Arce, had not been involved in the earlier Cuba Projects but apparently became quite trusted by Robertson. Arce was transferred from the new maritime missions into AMWORLD and then became one the very select cadre whom Robertson selected to go on a highly classified mission into the Congo in 1964.

Special high-performance boats were obtained, including two "ghost" mother ships which would operate out of Florida ports. Yet in what would appear to be a direct contradiction with Kennedy Administration directives to move missions against Cuba offshore, the two new ships, Rex and Leda, were based out of Port Everglades and West Palm Beach, flagged as Nicaraguan and captained / crewed by Cuban volunteers. The ships carried radar, electronics, and a variety of weapons – which were stored in port and only mounted at sea. They also carried special high speed boats to be used in the actual sabotage missions. In addition to new military missions, the Rex and Leda were also used to support routine infiltration and caching activities, missions which continued to average some dozen per month. [ 93 ]

Going beyond operational logistics, Morales himself utilized his own social network, including contacts in Guatemala, to create a cover for the new sabotage missions – which were conducted by a group newly designated as Commando Mambises. The group was entirely a creation of Morales, using Rafael Martinez Pupo, a wealthy Cuban businessman living in Guatemala, as the public face of the group. Pupo met with the media claiming a new military effort against Castro, with victories in attacks on port facilities, a metal processing plant and an air raid on a refinery. Special Group documents do reflect two of the claimed raids but it appears a third may also have been conducted using both sea and air assets – the source of the aircraft used is totally undocumented. [ 94 ]

Pupo continued to carry on a media campaign for Commando Mambises, speaking of secret bases in the Caribbean and cells inside Cuba. A September 23 report to the Special Group on two Commando Mambises raids was well received, although some security issues were mentioned. Of course news of the raids generated a great deal of discussion within the Cuban community, especially given that none of its many leaders or groups had any knowledge of a group led by Pupo, of anyone who might be fighting with it, or of any new bases. Following oversight reviews, new missions were authorized for October and November; the first was to be synchronized with a list of JMWAVE missions which JFK had himself approved only in early October.

The JMWAVE Commando Mambises missions, operating from Florida, continued through 1963 and on into 1964, even after being exposed to the media when an attack team was ambushed by Castro forces during a mission on October 21. During that mission, infiltration personnel previously inserted into Cuba were identified and monitored by Cuban forces, which then attacked during a pick-up effort by the Rex. Two paramilitary personnel were killed, one was wounded, and four captured.

Castro Says USA used Raider Ship
"Castro Says USA used
Raider Ship", AP Wire
Service, October 31, 1963

The Rex managed to flee but was tracked back to Florida and as part of the Cuban response, its aircraft mistakenly strafed a U.S. flag bauxite freighter transiting the same coastal waters. Within days Castro had called out the U.S. involvement, identified the CIA ships and even broadcast the locations of the Florida ports from which they operated. [ 95 ] Reporters flocked to those locations and broadcast extended interviews about the comings and goings of the "ghost ships". [ 96 ] In something of a fruitless effort, JMWAVE then "sold" the ships through cut outs, repainted and relocated them, while continuing with their missions and giving Castro the opportunity to call out the United States on their follow-on missions which continued under President Johnson.

Ironically the Commando Mambises missions, launched out of Florida, continued at the same time that millions of dollars were being poured into the entirely separate and extremely deniable Artime/AMWORLD project. That project would spend heavily in establishing bases and logistics chain in the Caribbean, launching its first boat missions only in the spring 1964.

Objectively it has to be said that during the summer of 1963, certainly by July and August, the state of clandestine military activity against Castro and Cuba can hardly be described as anything less than chaotic, regardless of how it appeared within the Cuban Coordinating Committee or the covert action oversight Special Group. JMWAVE was establishing a compartmentalized and highly secret covert mission capability, using far superior boats and weapons than deployed in previous years. Shackley and Morales had even come up with their own political cover for Commando Mambises, using Morale's connections to a Guatemalan businessman. Yet the group's missions operated from Florida ports and the existence of the CIA ghost ships would be exposed and touted in Cuban propaganda within their first four months of operations.

We also have good reason to suspect that neither the Special Group nor the Cuban Coordinating Committee – and neither RFK nor JFK - were aware of exactly how independently JMWAVE itself had begun to operate by the summer of 1963. That is especially evident in one extremely high-risk July mission which was carried out using extensive JMWAVE support; support including operations by one of the new "ghost" mother ships. That mission appears never to have been approved by or even discussed with any of the highest-level decision makers within the Kennedy administration.

While JMWAVE Chief of Station Shackley often complained about the burden imposed by detailed mission approvals and reporting up the chain of command, in this instance none of that occurred. Approvals and reporting for what was an extremely high risk mission (with the potential for immense political exposure) occurred only within CIA channels. There is no indication that those within the CIA chain of command brought the mission to the attention of the senior policy forums – where its sensational nature and extreme political ramifications would have certainly provoked a firestorm.

It had all begun with stories circulating months earlier, gossip within the exile community in Miami; the rumors had begun almost immediately after the compromise that resolved the missile crisis the previous fall. The rumors first appear to have come from an appearance of DRE chief Fernandez-Rocha on The Today Show. During his interview Fernandez-Rocha offered details about nuclear missiles being hidden in the Yumari valley, the hills of Camaguey and at other locations inside Cuba.

He claimed that he had personally seen some of the sites where missiles had been hidden. During the following weeks and months stories of hidden Russian missiles remained in play, both in Cuban exile circles and within right-wing American political factions. Both factions promoted the idea that President Kennedy had been extremely naïve in his negotiations with the Russians – especially after Fidel Castro had effectively abrogated US/Soviet agreements to verify the removal of the missiles.

By early 1963 the stories had expanded to include the rumor that an anti-Castro resistance group (not the DRE but an unnamed and unidentified group) inside Cuba was actually sheltering Russian technicians who had defected and who were prepared to offer concrete proof that missiles remained in Cuba. At first that story gained little traction; however it came to be championed by John Martino, an American recently released from prison in Cuba. Martino was receiving considerable media coverage, had begun work on both a book and a record detailing his experiences in prison, and managed to gain the attention of certain conservative Florida political figures due to the "Russian technician" rumor. By that point the rumor had already been in circulation for some two to three months.

The basics of the story reached Senator James Eastland, an avowed opponent of Kennedy administration policies on Cuba. In turn Eastland took the story on to William Pawley. Pawley was famous for his early business dealings in both China and Cuba and his work with the Flying Tigers during World War II. He had served as an American Ambassador in Latin American countries (Brazil and Peru) and, as a close friend of President Eisenhower, had been appointed to an ultra-select committee evaluating intelligence capabilities during the Eisenhower administration.

CIA Cable from JMWAVE
CIA Cable from JMWAVE, Operation
Involving Soviet Defectors which
Mr. William Pawley Has Discussed,
June 5, 1963

The "eyes only" report of that committee, which included an evaluation of the CIA, was extremely secret, strictly for Eisenhower's own use. Pawley had connections throughout the CIA and along with such political figures as Senator James Eastland was a harsh critic of Kennedy, especially in regard to the president's apparent inaction towards Cuba. Eastland made it clear to Pawley that if he could obtain information from the Russian technicians, it would be introduced to the Senate. Such a move would have been a major blow to President Kennedy's credibility, undermining confidence in his administration, and damaging to his reelection efforts.

With Pawley's high-level CIA connections (Pawley was a cleared source with his own cryptonym) it was easy enough for him to take the initiative, and he pursued the matter both with Chief of Station Shackley at JMWAVE, and with Marshall Carter, Deputy CIA director. Shackley agreed to take on the mission (designated as TILT), supported by Pawley's own yacht (the Flying Tiger) and rented amphibious aircraft. The CIA also provided other assets for the mission, including radar shadowing of the overall effort by the Leda mother ship. [ 97 ] TILT was an extremely complex mission, operationally conducted under detailed JMWAVE operational protocols.

CIA Memorandum, Director Task Force W
CIA Memorandum, Director Task Force
W (Harvey) to CIA DDP, copy of
memorandum for the Attorney General,
September 3, 1962 also memorandum
on contradictory information provided
by Captain Eduardo Perez Gonzalez
and a CIA informant report of April/May
1962 which evaluated Perez as
unreliable,with inaccurate information
and prone to excessive "small talk".

However, in a major violation of standard CIA security practices, Shackley also agreed to the participation of not only John Martino but of a group of largely unvetted Cuban volunteers, led by Eddie Perez (Bayo). Bayo (who was introduced into the mission only weeks before it launched) himself had been cleared for earlier covert Cuban infiltration missions during the Cuba Project, on the Tejuana. Following those missions (carried out during February and March of 1961) Bayo was again involved with the CIA in September/October, 1962. CIA records describe that involvement as a "fiasco". [ 98 ]

Related CIA file documents reveal that the CIA was well aware of that previous incident in which Perez (Bayo) had tried to gain CIA support for Cuban projects where further investigation had shown his information and claims to be highly questionable, leading to their rejection. [ 99 ] Given that history (as well as an informant evaluation of Bayo as being unreliable and providing inaccurate information) it remains quite questionable as to why Pawley was not strongly advised against any mission in which Bayo suddenly appeared as a central figure – and the only one claiming the contacts required to contact the Russian defectors inside Cuba.

In addition to issues with Bayo himself, the majority of the Cuban volunteers received only the most basic file card checks; none of them had any operational history with the CIA or JMWAVE. And they received none of the extended inquiries normally required for mission personnel background nor any counter intelligence checks. [ 100 ] As with much of the TILT mission, JMWAVE appears to have accepted Pawley's assurances, including his statement that all the men involved would be his own employees.

Folder reviewed by the HSCA re the Bayo/Pawley Affair
Folder reviewed by the HSCA re the
Bayo/Pawley Affair containing Ops CA,
this folder includes an extensive
operational description of the mission
and is 254 pages in length, 38-47

What is even more striking is that Shackley, operations chief Morales and DDP Marshall Carter also agreed to an arrangement which allowed a LIFE Magazine representative (Richard Billings) and a photo journalist to accompany and film the mission. Filming missions using CIA assets including mission specialists was strictly prohibited. And TILT included several officers and CIA employees who were participating in the mission, including Rip Robertson and Tony Sforza (crypt Oliver Fortson aka alias Max de Cordova).

Surprisingly we actually find documents containing the correspondence between Marshall Carter and William Pawley, relating Carter's dialogue with Gorge P. Hunt, the LIFE Magazine managing editor. Based in that correspondence, it appears that CIA approval for the coverage was agreed to on nothing more than demands from Martino and the Cubans involved. The only rules were that the CIA officers were not to be identified by name and while LIFE was allowed to carry the story of the mission the CIA was not to be mentioned in any fashion. [ 101 ] TILT documents indicate Pawley was given total control over release of the story to the public via LIFE although JMWAVE did insist on taking physical control over the Soviets. [ 102 ]

In the end the TILT mission did insert a boatful of heavily armed anti-Castro fighters into Cuba. Yet even at the start of the mission, the CIA officers involved questioned the fact that the Cubans were unknown to them, and that neither the weapons nor number of personnel were consistent with simply contacting and bringing out Russian technicians. The CIA officers were advised en route that several of the men planned to stay in Cuba, and noted in their after-action reports that there had been no preliminary work done to verify the Russian defector story via prior infiltrations or contacts.

Internal JMWAVE memorandum, Discussion TILT
Internal JMWAVE memorandum,
"Discussion TILT", Rip Robertson to
Ted (Shackley) and Bob Bob Moore
(pseudonym Fred Inghurst, Deputy
Chief of Station; head of Maritime

At the time of the actual mission in July, the Russian missile story was a good six months old and the CIA did have assets inside Cuba - but no further confirmation had been provided other than in relatively last-minute assurances from Perez (Bayo). Bayo had been unwilling (or unable) to even share the identity of the group supposedly holding the Russians. The officers' after-action reports also note that the Cubans had seemed to be particularly uninterested in any of the briefings and training on recovery procedures. [ 103 ]

When no further contact was made with the group after it was sent off from the mission ship towards Cuba, all the craft involved returned to Florida. The final CIA assessment was that the whole thing had been a scam, with the exiles feeding a line to all involved simply to get a very well-equipped and armed team into Cuba for military action. [ 104 ] A review of the weapons provided for the mission, which included explosives and grenades, certainly suggests that it was something far more than a recovery mission for Russian technicians – something that would seemingly have been obvious to the CIA officers involved.

In fact the official follow on assessment was that the team was so heavily armed and the small rubber boat so full of people that it most likely swamped on its way into the beach – encumbered by ammo belts and weapons, the Cubans might not even have made it to shore. Other than admitting that it had been fooled by the Cubans, the final reports are also interesting in that they note the mission itself did have a positive result – from a political perspective.

Shackley himself noted that people like Pawley, political figures such as J. G. Sourwine, and even Senator Eastland himself would be impressed by how responsive the CIA had been, and how willing it was to work outside the box, even to take unusual risks. He also thought that LIFE magazine and the Luce media outlets were impressed and might treat the CIA more favorably in their media coverage. [ 105 ]

TILT Photographs from Soldier of Fortune magazine article
TILT Photographs from Soldier of Fortune
magazine article; Hancock website;
Someone Would Have Talked
reference materials

Certainly the total violation of security protocols for the TILT mission does reflect "out of the box" behavior, as does the unique agreement with LIFE for a journalist and photographer to record the mission – and the approval for publication of the mission itself. The fact that the mission was actually carried out more as a political and publicity effort is further reflected in a large quantity of photographs, including ones showing CIA assets. Those photographs were taken during the mission and never vetted by the CIA. They were left in the possession of the private photographer sent on the mission – and only to appear years later in print as part of a Soldier of Fortune magazine article on the CIA mission, which itself was also described in great detail in the accompanying text. [ 106 ]

Documents reveal that the control and censorship of the photographs was left entirely to Pawley to censor and that the agreement for publication of material on the mission was left in place at the end of the mission. [ 107 ] That was confirmed in a follow-on call directly from Pawley to the LIFE magazine managing editor – although LIFE apparently determined not to publish its own story on the TILT effort.

At the same time that the TILT mission launched, soon to be followed by the JMWAVE Commando Mambises operations, major U.S. government actions continued to quash any Cuban exile missions against Cuba – either from new groups or those with well-established networks inside Cuba – such as the DRE. DRE members were told to cease any independent military operations. Those interested in such things should join Artime's MRR group (being used as a cover for the new AMWORLD project) and join Artime in new MRR camps. Artime was also actively describing his new effort in a variety of his media appearances, including talking of new camps in locations including Nicaragua.

Artime also began actively recruiting volunteers by late summer; he was even allowed to recruit on U.S. military installations. As a cover story for the project, Artime was repeatedly forced to denounce the United States, claiming that it had deserted the effort against Castro and that the anti-Castro community was being forced to turn to new supporters in Europe and Central America. The cover story was even used in recruiting personnel for the project, both in public appearances and at military bases where Cubans had been allowed into Army and Air Force training programs.

There is little doubt that those listening to Artime would have been led to believe that the Kennedy administration had simply walked away from Kennedy's promise to Brigade 2506 at the Orange Bowl, instead choosing to honor the new non-invasion agreement with the Soviets. Such views were reinforced by increasing efforts by all government agencies to forcefully block any independent military actions against Cuba. That effort included the Coast Guard, Immigration and Naturalization and the FBI as well as local police forces and military services – there were new orders to block all weapons sales to anti-Castro groups and interdict any mission originating in the United States.

Given that most of the exile groups had headquarters in Miami, some 600 federal agents were deployed in Florida to interdict weapons purchases and military missions. That new level of pressure, combined with the administration crackdown on missions and weapons buys, gave the general Cuban exile community reason to believe they and their cause were indeed being deserted. The feeling of apparent abandonment was illustrated in the breakdown in relations between the U.S. government and the Cuban Revolutionary Council (the leadership group which the CIA had organized prior the landings of the Brigade 2506). In the beginning the CRC has been expected to declare itself as a government in exile and facilitate the formation of a new Cuban government after the ouster of the Castro regime.

Despite the disaster at the Bay of Pigs, the CRC had remained the central voice for the numerous revolutionary groups. But as early as April, 1963 its chairman, Miro Cardona, had resigned – declaring that President Kennedy had chosen a path of peaceful coexistence with Castro and abandoned efforts to oust his regime. [ 108 ] In May government funds were cut from the CRC and a series of false announcements about its new plans for military action damaged its credibility, its new head resigned and his place was taken by Antonio de Varona. Varona himself stayed with the CRC for only a few months, ultimately departing Miami in early 1964 for New York City, where he became a car salesman, The CRC disintegrated as an organization at that point, leaving individual groups to pursue their own efforts.

Despite the Cuban community's perceptions, the Kennedy administration was actually, if extremely secretly, continuing and expanding its efforts against Castro as of the summer of 1963. Those efforts included new initiatives such as the creation of a deniable off shore military force (AMWORLD), an effort to facilitate a coup against Castro by dissident Cuban political and military figures (AMTRUNK) – not to mention JMWAVE's Commando Mambises and its newly approved sabotage missions. Yet while the Cuba Committee and the administration as a whole was still committed to Castro's ouster, such activities were all covert, highly secret, compartmentalized, and most definitely not communicated to the public or even to the many independent anti-Castro groups not being recruited into AMWORLD.

Left to their own devices, the Cuban community felt financially abandoned, with a growing and intense competition between groups for private funding. One of the newest efforts was organized out of Chicago, headed by Paulino Sierra and designated as the JCGE, more often referred to as simply the Junta. Sierra's Junta was never able to attract a significant following among existing exile groups, even though it did raise and distribute money to a few of them. In the end it was forced to use former INTERPEN members just to transport its purchases to Florida. Conservative in its politics, the Junta claimed to be focused on returning Carlos Prio to the presidency of Cuba.

Patricia Orr, HSCA numbered files, Anti-Castro activities
Patricia Orr, HSCA numbered files,
Anti-Castro activities, CIA, FBI,

In reality its existence was largely based around the personal outreach and business contacts of Sierra himself. When he began to encounter financial difficulties, the Junta faded away within months, gone from the scene by the end of 1963. While the Junta remained largely peripheral to the exile scene, with some cash in hand it had managed to insert itself into weapons buying in the Chicago area, promising support and supplies for groups including the DRE. For reference, background and a chronology of Junta activities is cited in an extended end note. [ 109 ]

The year 1963 also saw the DRE enter into a protracted series of activities intended to maintain its independence. There were ongoing efforts to locate new sources of weapons and explosives as well as to locate new bases for operations, preferably outside the United States. In all of this, the DRE retained the broadest reach within American exile communities, continued to pursue independent military actions (even using members who had either worked for the CIA or remained active in CIA projects). It was the DRE activities – and its visibility – which led to it being approached by someone with a history of interest in Cuba, former Marine Lee Harvey Oswald.

The CIA continually monitored Sierra via AMOT sources
The CIA continually monitored Sierra via
AMOT sources and concluded that he was
acting as a front for gambling interests and
should be avoided by CIA-associated

Among all the more established or well-known groups – MRR, JURE, Alpha 66/Commandos L, and MDC, it was the DRE's leaders and activists who stand out as increasingly attempting to initiate independent military action during 1963. DRE itself was still being actively supported by the CIA through much of 1963, with both military (David Morales) and political case officers (George Joannides and William Kent) assigned to it.

DRE also remained one of the most broadly-based organizations, years after it had begun as one of the revolutionary groups fighting against Batista. The DRE had formed as a spinoff of the Federation of University Students, originally led by Jose Antonio Echeverria. One of its early leaders was Juan Manuel Salvat (crypt AMHINT-2). The DRE had been primarily active in the Cuban cities, especially Havana.

DRE had also placed representatives in the United States throughout the revolutionary struggle, engaged in weapons sourcing and smuggling as well as fund raising. By 1958 DRE had managed to smuggle at least one cache of weapons into Havana, only to have a safehouse raided by Havana police, with the loss of the entire cache. During the Batista revolution DRE largely followed the strategy of "hitting at the top", with the goal of assassinating Batista and his senior officials to force out his regime. [ 110 ] Many of the earliest recruits for the CIA's Cuba Project had come from the DRE.

Victor Espinosa Hernandez was one example of such a committed DRE activist. Victor Hernandez was the son of a wealthy Cuban family (ranching and agriculture). As a young man he had circulated within the Havana casinos, becoming friends with figures such as Mike McLaney and Norman Rothman, and their families. As a university student he had also become friends with Jose Echeverria and was one of the earliest recruits for the DRE's assassination activities. At the age of 20 Hernandez joined one of the four DRE assassination teams targeting Batista regime leaders; his team drew first blood, killing their target within ten days. [ 111 ]

Following that successful murder, Hernandez managed to leave Cuba, first taking refuge with Mike McLaney in Miami and then traveling to New York, where his family had long time social and financial connections. Upon hearing of the new CIA project he became one of the earliest volunteers, training under Carl Jenkins and selected for advance training at Belle Chase and finally for infiltration missions out of Florida. Frustrated by a lack of organization in his missions he dropped out of JMWAVE boat penetrations and by the summer of 1963 had become one of many DRE members simply looking for some way to pursue military action against Castro.

As a whole the DRE's experience with the CIA reflected a similar level of mistrust in the agency and its personnel. Acting on its own the DRE had put infiltration teams into Cuba as early as 1960 and several CIA Cuba Project missions had attempted to deliver weapons and supplies to DRE teams; virtually all failed. Never totally trusting the CIA after its losses of men and leaders during the Cuba Project, the DRE continually rerouted CIA funding to military activities, even as the CIA itself was attempting to focus the DRE solely on propaganda activities. [ 112 ]

Because of its dedication, and its willingness to act independently, the DRE remained able to solicit at least limited funding from a variety of non-CIA sources, ranging from the old Havana casino crowd (such as Mike McLaney in Miami) to well-placed (and wealthy) anti-communist figures including William Pawley and the family of Henry Luce (publisher of the TIME/LIFE family of magazines). Its military members also maintained their links to weapons suppliers such as Sam Benton in the Miami area, as well as other gun and explosives dealers from Chicago to Dallas.

CIA memorandum, Alpha 66; an Anti-Castro Organization
CIA memorandum, "Alpha 66; an Anti-
Castro Organization", copies to FBI,
Department of State (Security), DIA, INS,
Army, Navy and Air Force,
September 6, 1962

During 1962/1963 many of the original and more action-oriented DRE members were left to search for opportunities to fight against Castro. There was considerable shifting among the groups, depending on which had raised enough money to prepare or even attempt actual missions into Cuba. CIA documents reveal that DRE members and representatives even attended Alpha 66 meetings. [ 113 ] Alpha 66 itself had formed outside the United States, in Puerto Rico, and launched its missions from its base there. DRE leaders also continued their efforts to obtain weapons and explosives, either from underworld sources or from right-wing arms dealers who also catered to extremist groups such as the Minutemen.

Richard Lauchli, operating out of Illinois, was one of the long-term suppliers to independent paramilitary groups of any form. Because of his history of sales of explosives and weapons, Lauchli had been monitored by both the FBI and the ATF for almost a decade. The Bureau had also developed a number of informants who provided information on his ongoing and expanding business in sales of both weapons and explosives. [ 114 ] In some instances the sources were members of particular Cuban exile groups – often informing on the activities of other groups.

The DRE were certainly among Lauchli's most ambitious customers. As early as November, 1962, Marton Marua (AMBARB70) of Miami gave Lauchli an order for 1,000 blasting caps as well as a shopping list for other weapons and C4 explosives (the list included mortars, machine guns, bazookas, and cannons). Lauchli's associate Thomas Mosley served as a regular FBI informant on Lauchli's sales, including Salazar's weapons-shopping for DRE. [ 115 ]

In this particular instance the FBI learned details of the pickup and transport for the blasting caps from an informant within another exile group, Jose Cardoso of the ECLA (Christian Anticommunist Army). He related the information that Jorge Martin Salazar (of Bellwood, Illinois) and Marua had picked up the blasting caps and planned to transport them to Miami; the source of the money for the blasting caps was not identified although Marua stated the funds had apparently come from the Chicago area. [ 116 ] During the summer of 1962 Salazar moved from the Chicago area to Dallas, Texas and almost immediately became involved in more efforts to buy weapons and explosives for exile group military activities.

The DRE's continuing interest in military missions and its assertive public posture against U.S. restrictions brought them under continuing scrutiny by the FBI and as early as March/April 1963 the FBI was monitoring possible preparations for DRE boat missions against Cuba, to be launched out of Miami. [ 117 ] That spring the independent attitude of the DRE became highly visible in a leaflet circulated in Miami, headlined as a "Declaration of the DRE". The handbill called out American obstruction of their efforts to overthrow Castro, stated that the United States had deserted them, asserted their right as Cuban patriots to take any measures necessary to obtain freedom for Cuba, and expressed a determination to continue the fight against Castro on their own. [ 118 ]

During 1963 the DRE's political leadership (which along with a select number of its military personnel remained on the CIA payroll) became focused on establishing an offshore military capability – both through independent action and with a new pitch for CIA support. It appears that they realized they were actually in competition with Artime's MRR group (being used as a cover for AMWORLD), which was touting its own efforts to establish new camps in Nicaragua.

By summer the ongoing competition between the various exile groups added to the overall chaos among the Cuban community. It also led to anomalies such as the June, 1963 creation of a transit training camp outside New Orleans. Ostensibly the camp was to train volunteers from the Christian Democrat (MDC) group who would go on to Nicaragua to join in new missions against Cuba. As it turned out some twenty volunteers arrived outside New Orleans, only to find a run-down house with no operating utilities – making it livable was their first order of business. [ 119 ]

Afterwards their only "training" was physical training; three or four old WWII rifles were available but with no ammunition. The rifles were never fired. The MDC camp operated for about four or five weeks before an FBI raid on another set of buildings some distance away led to a rapid evacuation – with the volunteers quickly put on a bus back to Miami.

Garrison Committee Inquiries from the Justice Department
Garrison Committee Inquiries from the
Justice Department, "Lake Ponchartrain
Camp and Ricardo Davis".

The only contact the men had was with an American living in New Orleans, Ricardo Davis, who had helped organize the whole thing and brought food to the camp on occasion. [ 120 ] Davis had formerly been associated with Gerry Hemming, Frank Sturgis and the short lived INTERPEN effort. Apparently he had promised the MDC major financial backing for the new training camp, none of which had never appeared.

In the meantime, DRE associates continued to do business with Lauchli - during the summer of 1963 buying and transporting explosives from Chicago to the New Orleans area. In July Victor Espinosa Hernandez purchased 2,400 pounds of dynamite and bomb casings and transported it to the McClaney farm (Mike McClaney's brother owned the property; he was a New Orleans resident) outside New Orleans, where the FBI seized the materials in a July 31 raid (the raid was based on an informant tip out of Miami). [ 121 ]

That particular purchase – and the plan for using the explosives in a bombing mission – is of considerable interest given the participants. The fact that it involved New Orleans and occurred not far from the MDC transit camp has confused a good deal of JFK research over the years (which tended to blur the two together). But what is actually most important about the explosives purchase out of Illinois is that it revealed a series of independent activities by DRE members which illustrate exactly how chaotic the anti-Castro scene was becoming by the summer of 1963.

FBI Air Tel, Neutrality matters
FBI Air Tel, Special Agent in Charge
New Orleans to Director, Neutrality
matters, September 27, 1963

With the reduction and changes in JMWAVE maritime missions during 1962/63, a number of the former Cuban volunteers (including some of the earliest who had gone into Cuba Project training in Panama and Guatemala) had either left JMWAVE operations or been put on inactive status. Some of them remained on the DRE military reserve list, but the CIA had begun actively discouraging DRE missions as well. All of which left some of the most activist and well-trained paramilitary activists at loose ends. By summer several of those individuals, who had originally trained under Carl Jenkins and served under either Robertson or Lynch, were essentially on their own.

In what turned out to be a long and complex story (covered in detailed in the citation noted here) [ 122 ] an offer for action and a new effort against the Castro regime came from Victor Hernandez's friend Mike McLaney. McLaney offered money to finance a new series of bombing missions against Cuba, something which could bring major new publicity to the anti-Castro effort. In turn Victor Hernandez recruited several of his associates, a combination of DRE and MRR members, all with Cuba Project experience and most with CIA missions on their records. Their efforts were facilitated by an associate of McLaney, Sam Benton. Benton was a well-established "broker" in such activities, with the connections which would provide access to aircraft, explosives and the other necessities for the missions. He had previously been involved with similar schemes with American "adventurers" including Roy Hargraves and others from the INTERPEN association.

Given the amount of federal government focus on Miami, and the number of personnel assigned to interdict Cuban exile military missions, it is no surprise that the first bombing mission was exposed, and those involved – including both Victor and Carlos Hernandez – were cited, given warnings and travel restrictions (something common among the exiles in Miami at the time, with such restrictions generally ignored).

In response, a second effort (July, 1963) was conceived, with preparation to occur far away from Miami and the intense scrutiny occurring there. That effort was complex, with explosives for bombs obtained from a dealer in Illinois, materials for bomb casings and detonators ordered from firms on the East Coast and aircraft apparently sourced out of Texas. The list of participants included a pilot (Soto) on leave from flying for the CIA in highly covert air actions in the Congo and a bomb specialist (Acelo Pedroso). The assembly point was a country residence owned by McLaney's brother in a very rural area outside New Orleans. Matters proceeded according to plan, with Victor Hernandez picking up the explosives using rental cars and trailers (Victor rented a station wagon and trailer in St. Louis) and the other participants (Carlos Hernandez / Batea, Soto and Acelo Pedroso) traveling by car to New Orleans.

Upon examination, Pedroso advised the group that the materials brought for the project were totally unsuitable for aerial bombs. And with his return to Miami word of the effort circulated, eventually reported to the FBI. The result was an investigation by the New Orleans field office, a raid on the McLaney property, confiscation of the materials, and arrests.

Warren C. DeBrueys, Bombing Raid Investigative Report
Warren C. DeBrueys, Bombing Raid
Investigative Report, (112 pages),
RIF Number 124-10217-10019, 65

During FBI interviews Pedroso related that he had seen two planes, which he believed to be B-26 Marauder medium bombers. The FBI report states it failed to locate any aircraft in the area. A July 19 search report suggested that the only location which might have served for landing the aircraft fitting Pedroso's description was a municipal airport at Houma, La. That report also notes that the U-Haul trailer actually contained the equipment needed to make live bombs of some sort. Acelo told the FBI that he had been told the bombing effort was a DRE project. In further conversation he stated the aircraft to be used were actually housed outside Louisiana, perhaps in Houston. He had been told they would be flown in and loaded when the bombs were ready. When the bombs were available the planes would not remain on the Louisiana airfield for more than four or five hours before departing on the mission. [ 123 ]

All in all it was a relatively sophisticated operation, with multiple people covertly traveling to New Orleans from a variety of locations; the FBI report delineates the use of aliases, cut outs and other tradecraft by those involved. There was actually no indication of the project until after it was virtually complete and a technical assessment deemed the materials not useful for aerial bombs. Only a leak after the fact led to an extensive FBI investigation out of both the Miami and New Orleans offices. Yet if the plan had worked, new bombing missions would certainly have had an impact similar to or greater than the earlier, highly covered DRE boat raids.

Desmond Fitzgerald, AMWORLD recruiting, November 23, 1963
Desmond Fitzgerald, Special Affairs Staff
cable to Director, AMWORLD recruiting,
November 23, 1963

Instead, within a month, during August 1963, the AMWORLD project had begun recruiting and new opportunities were opening up – word was circulating more broadly about new Artime camps in Nicaragua, CIA officers would begin telling DRE leaders that their only option for military action was to have their people join Artime's effort. [ 124 ] There was some response to that, but by the end of the year only a dozen actual DRE members had joined the Artime project and certain DRE leaders remained committed to pursuing their own plans and efforts. [ 125 ]

In contrast, during the next few months individuals now well-known from earlier sections of this work (the Cuba Project, JMWAVE maritime missions and even Commando Mambises) would begin to show up within the MRR and assume key positions in AMWORLD. [ 126 ] At that point a number of them would essentially "go black", recruited for AMWORLD but in the process of being assigned new identities, given new training and awaiting the extremely detailed processing which would take them outside the United States, into the highly classified and autonomous offshore operations of AMWORLD. Most are literally untraceable during the fall and early winter. Only in January and February of 1964 do they begin to appear at Artime's offshore bases and camps in the Caribbean.

While the new Cuba Coordinating Committee and JMWAVE projects were kept as secret as possible and as broad government efforts continued to suppress exile group missions, there was some news in the Cuban community in the summer of 1963 – news from New Orleans that quickly passed along the social networks to Miami and even Dallas, Texas.

Larry Hancock is the author of Someone Would Have Talked and several other books, including The Awful Grace of God: Religious Terrorism, White Supremacy, and the Unsolved Murder of Martin Luther King, Jr. (with Stuart Wexler), NEXUS, and his most recent work In Denial: Secret Wars with Air Strikes and Tanks? Larry has for several years co-directed the annual November in Dallas research conferences, and written and spoken extensively on the political assassinations of the 1960s, the efforts to oust Fidel Castro, and national security.

See all chaptersNext => Part 2: Enter Lee Oswald


[ 15 ] Jack Pfeiffer, Official History of the Bay of Pigs Operation, Volume 3, U.S. Governments Anti-Castro Program Central Intelligence Agency, Central Intelligence Agency, Washington D.C., October 13, 2016, Document Number: 5076ddc4993247d4d82b58da


[ 16 ] The Special Group - a high level policy committee created to conduct oversight over covert foreign actions – was tasked with ensuring that the Cuba Project would not be publicly revealed, or if it did become visible, could at least be plausibly denied. The Special Group had been created and authorized by NSC Directive 5412/2 to conduct policy supervision of any all covert foreign activities.

[ 17 ] Jack Pfeiffer, Official History of the Bay of Pigs Operation, Volume 3, U.S. Governments Anti-Castro Program Central Intelligence Agency, Central Intelligence Agency, Washington D.C., October 13, 2016, Document Number: 5076ddc4993247d4d82b58da, 16-18


[ 18 ] Ibid, 6-9

[ 19 ] Ibid, 13

[ 20 ] Julia E. Sweig, Inside the Cuban Revolution, Harvard University Press, 2002, Chapter 10, The Arms Race, 115

[ 21 ] Ibid, 118

[ 22 ] Ibid, 148

[ 23 ] Interview with Robert McKeown, House Select Committee Report, Volume IX, Section 8, 714-718


[ 24 ] FBI Name Correlation document; information regarding activities of Frank Fiorini as related to Cuba


[ 25 ] By the end of 1959 both Fiorini and Diaz Lanz would abandon Castro and Cuba, based on their belief that Castro was turning to communism. Following their arrival in Miami, both men became involved in a variety of early, independent actions against Castro – the most spectacular being combined bombing and leafleting missions over Havana in October, during a high-profile international travel agents convention in that city.

[ 26 ] FBI Memorandum, Accounting and Fraud Investigation Section, June, 1964


[ 27 ] David Scheim, Contract on America, New York: Kensington, 1988, 221:

"In 1958, Ruby wrote a letter to the State Department's Office of Munitions Controls "requesting permission to negotiate the purchase of firearms and ammunition from an Italian firm." The name "Jack Rubenstein" [Ruby's birth name] was listed in a 1959 Army Intelligence report on U.S. arms dealers. Although located by clerks of these two federal agencies in 1963, both documents are today inexplicably missing.

[ 28 ] Peter Dale Scott, Deep Politics and the Death of JFK, University of California Press, Ltd, 1993, 179

[ 29 ] Interview with Robert McKeown, House Select Committee Report, Volume IX, Section 8, 708-709


[ 30 ] House Select Committee on Assassinations, Vol. 5, 365


[ 31 ] Warren Commission Report, Testimony of Nelson Delgado, 687


[ 32 ] Op Cit, 687


[ 33 ] Hancock, In Denial; Secret Wars with Tanks and Airstrikes?, Chapters 5 and 6

[ 34 ] Don Bohning, The Castro Obsession, 50

[ 35 ] We now have a considerable level of detail in regard to the field officers and Cuban volunteers who would have been most influenced by the remarks carried to Miami by Jake Esterline. That detail is explored in In Denial, Chapter 3, "Insurgency", and in more detail (as potentially related to the Kennedy assassination) in the Wheaton Lead research paper by David Boylan and Larry Hancock, available online from the Mary Ferrell Foundation at:


[ 36 ] Grayston Lynch, Decision for Disaster; Betrayal at the Bay of Pigs, Brassy's, 1998, 155 and 159

[ 37 ] President Kennedy's specific operational orders directed that the Cuban volunteers be inserted in a totally clandestine fashion.  His National Security Directive simply authorized the CIA to conduct deniable actions to return the volunteers to Cuba.  In order to ensure the clandestine nature of the mission he directed that all landing operations had to be conducted at night and that all ships had to be out of Cuban territorial waters and in the open sea by daybreak. In addition, no Americans were allowed to participate in the landings nor as pilots or aircrews with the Cuban volunteer group.JFK specifically directed that it the landing was detected and opposed, the force was to be evacuated and landed elsewhere – volunteers that remained needed to be trained and prepared to operate as guerrillas. Beyond that he also specifically ordered that the senior officers of the Cuban force were to be briefed that there would be no US military action against Cuban forces. Although the president did not personally participate in operational meetings during the course of the three days of the landing, he was willing to allow a number of variances in his initial directives in order to support the Brigade as it came under continual attack.U.S. pilots were authorized to fly Cuban Brigade aircraft in ground attacks in support of the lodgment /beachhead on the second and third days of the landings. Cuban pilots were authorized to fly night time bombing missions against Cuban airfields on the first and second nights after landing. The U.S. Air Force was authorized to fly night supply missions directly over the landing area – although due to lack of planning and preparation those missions were not actually executed.By the third day, with the volunteer force under extreme pressure, the U.S. Navy was authorized to fly an air support mission over the beach, engaging Cuban aircraft and providing cover for American pilots authorized to fly additional missions in of support for the Brigade. That air cover was supposed to allow the implementation of the plan for evacuating the force – as it turned out no preparations had been made for such a contingency and the Cuban force had never been prepared for evacuation.At the end, the only military action President Kennedy refused to order was to accept repeated Navy requests to conduct direct military intervention against the Cuban military, which would have constituted an act of war given that Cuban forces had not fired upon or engaged American military personnel or facilities.

In Denial / Secret Wars with Air Strikes and Tanks?, Chapters 4-6, 135-222

[ 38 ] Larry Hancock, In Denial; Secret Wars with Tanks and Airstrikes?, Chapter 6, 232-236

[ 39 ] The Castro Obsession, Chapter 1

[ 40 ] Ibid, 74-75

[ 41 ] Hancock, In Denial, Chapters 5, 6 and 7

[ 42 ] Hancock, In Denial; Secret Wars with Tanks and Airstrikes?, Chapter 7

[ 43 ] Op Cit, Chapter 7, "Hidden Measures"

[ 44 ] Security File on Frank Sturgis, HSCA Segregated CIA Collection, Memorandum for the Record, NARA Record Number: 1993.08.05.14:42:12:750028


[ 45 ] Larry Hancock, Someone Would Have Talked, Appendix D, "The Way of JMWAVE", 352-359

[ 46 ] Ibid, Appendix I, "Echoes from Dallas", 389-391

[ 47 ] Bissell's motives and intentions in his effort to divert blame towards President Kennedy remain debatable. Certainly he did go to great lengths to repudiate charges brought against his own decision making and management of the project – enough so to offer a rebuttal to the CIA Inspector General's assessment of the project's conduct failures. It appears that he may also have wished to suppress inquiry into certain hidden measures which he was involved with, which were not communicated to President Kennedy. To some extent he may also have been in a psychological state of denial, wishing to project his failure onto someone else or simply not willing to openly face certain decisions he had made.

[ 48 ] Op Cit, 141

[ 49 ] Hancock, NEXUS, 61

[ 50 ] Following the Kennedy assassination Ted Shackley, Chief of Base at JMWAVE, would testify that he had made no internal inquires, stating that to be under the purview of the Warren Commission. That statement was proved to be false with the revelation that an investigation of Cuban exile involvement in the assassination had been conducted – under the management of Tony Sforza. The investigation had been extensive and was documented in a report which apparently disappeared after it was prepared.

[ 51 ] Hancock, NEXUS, 61-62

[ 52 ] CIA Memorandum to FBI, Subject: Alpha 66 / An Anti-Castro Organization, September 6, 1962


[ 53 ] Hancock and Boylan, "Wheaton Lead / An Exploration"

[ 54 ] There remains a possibility that certain of the trainees may have also trained at Camp Stanley in Texas. In addition to being a major storage depot for CIA covert military operations, Camp Stanley appears to have been used for certain training activities, in particular radio communications training.

[ 55 ] Larry Hancock, Someone Would Have Talked, JFK Lancer Publications, 2010, Appendix E, "Student Warrior", 360-363

[ 56 ] Cuba Project mission documents relating to Victor Espinoza Hernandez, Carlos Hernandez, and Cuba Project maritime team operations.






[ 57 ] The crypt AMHAZE appears to broadly refer to covert maritime missions and mission personnel related to several types of missions into Cuba. Individual missions carried their own crypts.


[ 58 ] John Prados, Safe for Democracy, Ivan R. Dee, Chicago: 2006, 307, also "On March 12, 1962, Team Cobra infiltrated Pinar del Rio province, creating a network active for some time. In June, AMTORRID went into Oriente, but most of it left in a few months. The one remaining agent and a fresh radioman set up in Santiago de Cuba as a spy mission." Also see 124-90139-10130: Cuban headlines of 11/14/62: "Four Hundred Miners Would Have Died if Terrorist Plan Succeeded", if the Batistiano Lieutenant Miguel Orozco had succeeded in the plans to blow up the mines in Matahambre and Nicaro.



[ 59 ] Taylor Branch and George Crile III, "The Kennedy Vendetta / The Cowboys of JMWAVE", Harpers Magazine, July, 1975, 9-11


[ 60 ] Op Cit

[ 61 ] After first working in the FBI, Harvey had moved to the CIA, working in counter intelligence and specialized intelligence collections involving activities ranging from wire taps though burglaries to assaults on foreign couriers. In 1962 he was assigned to the CIA's support of a larger, interdepartmental effort against Cuba – Mongoose. The CIA's support effort was designated Task Force W with Harvey having oversight of activities ranging from the Miami Station / JMWAVE maritime missions to the new Castro assassination project.

[ 62 ] HSCA Document, Record Number 157-10014-10102,

Miscellaneous Records of the Church Committee, William Harvey


[ 63 ] HSCA Document 180-10188-10069, Antonio De Varona Chronology


[ 64 ] Larry Hancock, NEXUS, 65-71 also Bayard Stockton, Flawed Patriot: The Rise and Fall of CIA Legend William Harvey

[ 65 ] Hancock, Someone Would Have Talked 2010, 20

[ 66 ] Office of Security Files, Central Intelligence Agency


[ 67 ] Hancock, In Denial, Chapter 7

[ 68 ] Hancock, Someone Would Have Talked 2010, 20

[ 69 ] Jim DiEugenio, The JFK Assassination, 2010, 174

[ 70 ] To say that Quiroga was an unwilling witness would be an understatement – as revealed in his statement to the Grand Jury convened in support of District Attorney Garrison's inquiry. Orleans Parish Grand Jury Special Investigation, May 24, 1967


[ 71 ] Hancock, Someone Would Have Talked 2010, 141

[ 72 ] Dan Hardway, "An Operational Sketch", 2014


[ 73 ] CIA memorandum, Chief of Station JMWAVE to Chief of Task Force W [William Harvey], AMSPELL [DRE] Progress Report for August, 1962,


[ 74 ] Taylor Branch and George Crile III, "The Kennedy Vendetta / The Cowboys of JMWAVE", Harpers Magazine, July, 1975, 12

[ 75 ] Op Cit, 9-11


[ 76 ] Intercontinental Penetration Force, Spartacus Educational



[ 77 ] Tangodown 63, The Assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy


[ 78 ] FBI memorandum, FBI Miami to Director, March 28, 1963 also Cuban Information Archives



[ 79 ] FBI Memorandum, Filipe Vidal Santiago, background investigation


[ 80 ] House Select Committee on Assassinations, Volume X, Section IX, Overview of the DRE group


[ 81 ] Hancock, Someone Would Have Talked 2010, 141, 85 also


[ 82 ] The irony of President Kennedy's support of, and even personal participation in, conventional military exercises is further illustrated in yet another activity of 1962. That activity – designated as SEATO operation Tulungan – was personally observed by the president in March, 1962. The Tulungan exercises were conducted in the Philippines, coming during the final phase of a series of SEATO war games. JFK boarded the USS Oklahoma City to watch an amphibious landing, supported by a vertical envelopment carried out by a helicopter-borne force of U.S. Marines. Additional support for the exercise came from Marines carried in on troop transports from Okinawa, and troops were landed by boat, aircraft and helicopter.

Within two years many of the same American commanders, troops and tactics would come into play, not with orders from President Kennedy, but rather as part of his successor's decision to dramatically increase the deployment of conventional American military forces into Vietnam.



[ 83 ] President John Kennedy, September 13, 1962 / Cuban Resolution Senate Joint Resolution 230 — Public Law 87-733, approved October 3, 1962


[ 84 ] Hancock, NEXUS, 86

[ 85 ] Americans freed in those negotiations included an extremely secret CIA covert action team that had been sent to Cuba to perform technical collections and hopefully steal code books from the Chinese embassy in Havana. The CIA technical directorate's chief audio specialist led the team. The Cubans had apparently not determined the actual value of the team – especially of David Christ – during his imprisonment and the CIA concealed the importance of its release efforts by including other Americans in the negotiations, including John Martino. Martino had worked in the casinos in Cuba, then started his own small electrical company. Martino was eventually put into prison on charges of secretly assisting Cubans attempting to flee the island.

[ 86 ] Church Committee Interim Report, Section 3, 140


[ 87 ] "Kennedy Sought Dialog with Castro", National Security Archive, November 24, 2002


[ 88 ] Interview with William Harvey's Widow, JFK Facts, August 28, 2019


[ 89 ] Jack Hawkins, Special Assistant for Counterinsurgency and Special Activities (SACSA), Joint Chiefs of Staff, Unconventional Warfare Plan Alfa


[ 90 ] Meeting of the Special Group Augmented, May 23, 1963 (documents released Nov. 9, 2017), 8


[ 91 ] Meeting of the Special Group, 18 July, 1963


[ 92 ] Remegio Arce appeared on the Miami scene only in 1962, as a freelancer associated with individuals such as Frank Sturgis, Gerry Hemming, Roy Hargraves, and the INTERPEN group. He was one of those arrested on an abortive boat raid on Cuba organized by Hemming. In that respect Arce appears quite unique, one of the only known individuals to make the transition to both JMWAVE operations, and Robertson's inner circle without the experience of the Cuba project or the interim missions into Cuba during 1961/1962. Citation: William Turner, HSCA Interview Report 22-24, 1977, Part 5, 86


Also Hemming interview with Argosy magazine,


[ 93 ] Cable, JMWAVE to Director, "Infiltrees",


[ 94 ] Don Bohning, The Castro Obsession, 161-163

[ 95 ] Ibid, 164

[ 96 ] "Castro Says USA used Raider Ship", AP Wire Service, October 31, 1963


[ 97 ] CIA Cable from JMWAVE, Operation Involving Soviet Defectors which Mr. William Pawley Has Discussed, June 5, 1963


[ 98 ] Ibid, 3


[ 99 ] CIA Memorandum, Director Task Force W (Harvey) to CIA DDP, copy of memorandum for the Attorney General, September 3, 1962 also memorandum on contradictory information provided by Captain Eduardo Perez Gonzalez and a CIA informant report of April/May 1962 which evaluated Perez as unreliable, with inaccurate information and prone to excessive "small talk".



[ 100 ] Folder reviewed by the HSCA re the Bayo/Pawley Affair containing Ops CA, this folder includes an extensive operational description of the mission and is 254 pages in length, 38-47


[ 101 ] Larry Hancock, Someone Would Have Talked, 21-22

[ 102 ] CIA Cable from JMWAVE, Operation Involving Soviet Defectors which Mr. William Pawley Has Discussed, June 5, 1963


[ 103 ] Internal JMWAVE memorandum, "Discussion TILT", Rip Robertson to Ted (Shackley) and Bob Bob Moore (pseudonym Fred Inghurst, Deputy Chief of Station; head of Maritime Operations).


[ 104 ] Folder reviewed by the HSCA re the Bayo/Pawley Affair containing Ops CA, 30, 32


[ 105 ] CIA Memorandum, JMWAVE to Director, Topic: Operation TILT, 4


[ 106 ] TILT Photographs from Soldier of Fortune magazine article; Hancock Web site; Someone Would Have Talked reference materials


[ 107 ] Folder reviewed by the HSCA re the Bayo/Pawley Affair containing Ops CA, 6

[ 108 ] HSCA Volume 10, Section 4, "Cuban Revolutionary Council; A Concise History"


[ 109 ] Paulino Sierra JCGE / Junta – a chronology of the Junta's formation and activities:

Sierra officially announced the Junta on March 31, 1963, stating that he had pledges of 55 million dollars in funding from American banking and financial interests. He also stated that he had communicated via the owner of the King Ranch in Texas and had pledges of a base in Latin America via that connection.

Patricia Orr, HSCA numbered files, Anti-Castro activities, CIA, FBI, Administration


In April Sierra traveled to Puerto Rico via New York and in May extended an invitation to Manuel Artime and the MRR to join the Junta effort. In May he made an approach to several "action" groups including Commandos L, Alpha 66, etc. FBI investigation of Sierra's group revealed individuals associated with gambling and casino business were involved with Sierra from the group's inception. Sierra was very much aware of the financial support coming from those syndicate connections. Claims were reported that some 12 million dollars had been committed by a Cleveland group (Jewish Mafia/Moe Daelitz/Myer Lansky connected). Another 30 million was claimed to have been put forward from gambling interests in Miami. By June the Chicago FBI office had concluded the initiative was something of a con job and had been unable to actually trace any syndicate money coming in to Sierra.

In June Sierra met with several mainstream, old line Cuba companies, in Chicago – United Fruit, Standard Oil, DuPont, ESSO, U.S. Steel and AT&T. He claimed that he had received pledges of major funding - as well as six hundred and fifty thousand dollars deposited in a Miami Bank.

By October 1, 1963, Sierra had only purchased some six thousand dollars' worth of equipment. Lacking actual personnel, he paid to have material transported to Florida by freelance anti-Castro individuals out of Miami. Sierra did not even have enough volunteers to transport equipment purchases for the independent groups in Florida.

Steve Wilson, Denis Harber and Joe Garrman of Hemming's and Sturgis' earlier INTERPEN group were paid by Sierra to transport his purchases - and even offered money to make attacks against Cuba. Sierra appears to have been totally unable to line up actual exile fighters for his venture. The few followers he did have were in Chicago and the FBI did interview one individual who on October 4 stated that he had planned a protest against JFK during his planned visit to Chicago on October 1; the protest was to be organized by Sierra supporter Jose Cordozo.


On October 14, Richard Lauchli was visited by Sierra, who stated he wished to buy weapons for exile group use. At that time it appears that Sierra had turned his attention towards the DRE and was offering financing to DRE military leaders who were visiting Chicago in the fall of 1963. Thomas Mosley served as one of the primary FBI sources on Lauchli's weapons sales, particularly to exile groups.


The CIA continually monitored Sierra via AMOT sources and concluded that he was acting as a front for gambling interests and should be avoided by CIA-associated individuals.


In December his employer, Union Tank Car, and other potential corporate donors backed off from Sierra due to apparent accounting and financial improprieties, costing the Junta its only real hope of financial support. By February 1964, Junta activities had ceased for all practical purposes.

[ 110 ] Julia E. Sweig, Inside the Cuban Revolution, Harvard University Press, 2002, 130-131

[ 111 ] Larry Hancock, Someone Would Have Talked, 2010, Appendix E, Student Warrior, 360-361

[ 112 ] HSCA Volume 10, Section 9, DRE, 82


[ 113 ] CIA memorandum, "Alpha 66; an Anti-Castro Organization", copies to FBI, Department of State (Security), DIA, INS, Army, Navy and Air Force, September 6, 1962


[ 114 ] Memorandum, FBI Special Informant to Headquarters, Richard Lauchli / Counter Insurgency Council


[ 115 ] FBI Memorandum to Headquarters, Richard Lauchli / Minutemen, September 9, 1970, 10


[ 116 ] FBI Memorandum, "Cuban Anti-Communist Army/Morua – Cordoso Plan to Acquire Arms, November 9, 1962


[ 117 ] FBI memorandum, Miami office to Director, "DRE / Cuba Neutrality Matters, April 5, 1963


[ 118 ] Ibid, 10-11

[ 119 ] Jim Alcock, Assistant District Attorney to Jim Garrison, District Attorney, Interview at Christian Democratic Headquarters, Miami Florida , January 31, 1967

"ANGEL VEGA is a slightly built Cuban male appearing to be in his late twenties. He was one of the twenty Cubans who trained at a camp in the New Orleans area. VEGA arrived at the camp sometime near the middle or end of June, 1963. When he arrived, there were only four or five others at the camp site. The house and grounds where they stayed were completely run down, giving the appearance they had not been inhabited for quite a while. Their first task was to refurbish the house and its conveniences.

All personnel stayed in the house which consisted of three rooms, a kitchen and two baths. In addition to this, there was a screened porch on the front and back of the house. The grounds had a swimming pool which was constantly fed by an underground spring. Also, there was a stream or bayou running through the property. Within sight of the property was another house. The camp was served by a dirt road which VEGA recalls was never used by vehicular traffic during his entire stay at the camp.

Training at the camp was principally limited to a physical fitness program. Daily exercises were taken along with swimming lessons. The men at the camp also practiced fording the stream that ran through the property. At no time did the men stray farther than about 200 yards from the house. No shooting whatsoever took place at the camp. They had two or three old Springfield rifles and M-1 carbine. These weapons were never fired. The M-1 carbine was used to show the men how to disassemble and assemble the weapon. During the course of many of the exercises, the men would carry small logs to simulate the weight of a weapon. Also, these logs were used in mock hand-to-hand combat training. ...all Cubans at the camp returned to Miami. This was about August 1, 1963.Therefore, the camp was in operation for about five or six weeks."

[ 120 ] Garrison Committee Inquiries from the Justice Department, "Lake Ponchartrain Camp and Ricardo Davis".


[ 121 ] FBI Air Tel, Special Agent in Charge New Orleans to Director, Neutrality matters, September 27. 1963


[ 122 ] Hancock research notes on McClaney / DRE bombing mission

[ 123 ] Warren C. DeBrueys, Bombing Raid Investigative Report, (112 pages), RIF Number 124-10217-10019. 65


[ 124 ] Larry Hancock, Someone Would Have Talked, 166-168

[ 125 ] Desmond Fitzgerald, Special Affairs Staff cable to Director, AMWORLD recruiting, November 23, 1963


[ 126 ] CIA Memorandum, AMWORLD Meeting in Washington CD 24 December, 1963, "Information on Ex-DRE Members, December 24, 1963


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