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Ultimate Sacrifice

Ultimate Sacrifice: John and Robert Kennedy, the Plan for a Coup in Cuba, and the Murder of JFK

by Lamar Waldron and Thom Hartmann

Publisher: Carroll & Graf, 2005

More about the book:


Ultimate Sacrifice presents a controversial thesis regarding a Kennedy plan for a coup in Cuba and the use of that plan by the Mafia to kill JFK and force a national-security coverup (see dust jacket blurb in sidebar). To support this thesis, the book is filled with references, some of them to primary documents, though many more to secondary sources such as books and articles. These are supplemented by private interviews, including some with unnamed sources in US intelligence agencies.

The large number of secondary sources and private interviews presents some difficulty in evaluating the book, which has been received more skeptically among assassination researchers than in some mainstream sources (a highly unusual state of affairs). The Mary Ferrell Foundation is pleased to provide a walkthrough of many of the primary source materials cited in the book, some graciously provided by Lamar Waldron and others already in the MFF's collection. Hopefully these materials will help those interested in looking deeper into the matters raised in Ultimate Sacrifice.

The first three sections below present government documents provided by Lamar Waldron and cited in Ultimate Sacrifice. The remaining sections provide access to additional documents from the MFF collection which are cited in the book or relevant to it.

Some of the documents presented herein were never seen by any of the Congressional Committees investigating the intelligence agencies or the assassination of President Kennedy.

The attention focused here on Ultimate Sacrifice and the materials it cites should not be taken as an indication that the Mary Ferrell Foundation endorses the thesis expressed in the book.

Note that this walkthrough applies to the hardcover edition of the book. In the updated paperback, the authors revealed the name of the coup leader - Juan Almeida - and provided additional information.

1. Documents Relating to "C-Day" Coup Plan

These documents relate to the alleged coup plan discussed in the book. The documents per se are certainly not conclusive on the "C-Day" plan, which is undocumented to the extent that even the term "C-Day" is invented by the authors in the absence of an actual one. Similarly, the CIA's AMWORLD operation is not clearly defined by the documents, except to the extent that it definitely involved Manuel Artime and was related to the movement of his operation to Nicaragua in 1963. However, tantalizing information in reports about Cuban exiles includes talk of a "PLAN JUDAS," the December 1 date in at least one instance, and other supportive details. Ultimately, evidence for the existence of such a coup plan relies mainly on the interviews conducted by the authors.

104-10315-10004 - BOOK DISPATCH:AMWORLD-BACKGROUND OF PROGRAM, OPERATIONAL SUPPORT, REQUIREMENTS AND PROCEDURAL RULES (28 Jun 1963) - Chapter 4, endnote 1. This dispatch to certain CIA station chiefs alerts them to the inception of project AMWORLD, described as a "new KUBARK [CIA] program targetted against PBRUMEN [Cuba]," involving AMBIDDY/1 (Manuel Artime). Ultimate Sacrifice describes AMWORLD as the CIA's component of the "C-Day" coup plan.

198-10004-10001 - DRAFT STATE-DEFENSE CONTINGENCY PLAN FOR A COUP IN CUBA (28 Sep 1963) - Introduction, endnote 6. This paper from Cyrus Vance to the Joint Chiefs of Staff outlines a "contingency plan" for a coup in Cuba, i.e. military support for a new Cuban government formed in the wake of a coup. Ultimate Sacrifice asserts that there was an actual coup plan set for December 1, which would have invoked this contingency plan to support it. Note: This document was not supplied by Waldron, but has been included in section 1 here due to its importance.

WAVE 8058 (23 Nov 1963) - Chapter 10, endnote 29. This cable from the CIA's JMWAVE base in Florida to CIA HQ reports on a Nov 13 meeting at the home of Harry Ruiz Williams involving other Cuban exile leaders including Eloy Gutierrez Menoyo.

IN 84804 (22 Nov 1963) - Introduction, endnote 1. This cable from JMWAVE TO HQ notes that "NASIN ALIAS HAS ASKED NAVY GUANTANAMO BASE TO PASS FOLL[OWING] MSG TO [REDACTED]." The message begins: "GENERAL UPRISING SCHEDULED FOR 1 DEC PARTICIPATING GROUPS FND, MRR, AND MID" and then provides further details.

104-10076-10088 - CABLE - FRANCISCO CHAO ATTENDED MEETING WITH MIGUEL A. CUCO LEON (6 Dec 1963) - Chapter 2, endnote 39. This cable, WAVE 8563, reports on a meeting between Francisco Chao Hermida and Miguel "Cuco" Leon, regarding "PLAN JUDAS." Leon described a meeting with Harry Ruiz Williams in Washington, where Ruiz told Leon that he (Ruiz) had been named by Robert Kennedy to lead a new Cuban republic. This cable also contains the statement that "Ruiz told Leon that he had arranged exit from PBRUMEN [Cuba] of Carlos Franqui [a Cuban journalist] with his accumulated wealth." Waldron cites a separate document (not reproduced here) which alleges a payoff to Franqui.

104-10098-10093 - DISPATCH:AMWORLD - SAFEHOUSE (31 Oct 1963) - Chapter 4, endnote 5. This CIA dispatch to the Mexico City station chief (Win Scott) confirms arrangements to have AMBIDDY-1 (Manuel Artime) arrive and be put up in a safe house, as discussed with Michael C. CHOADIN (David Phillips). From there would be effected a "dry-run, designed to test AMBIDDY-1's capability to enter and exit Mexico securely, ie, without coming to the special attention of the Mexico authorities." The dispatch is tagged with an AMWORLD designation.

104-10308-10085 - MEMO: AMWORLD (undated, 1976 or later) - see excerpt on p.799. This memo for the record from the CIA's Latin America Division Task Force summarizes information in records related to AMWORLD.

Memo from Bundy to RFK, 11-21-63. This memo from McGeorge Bundy to Robert Kennedy notes that "the Cuba problem is ready for discussion now.....we will call a meeting as soon as we can find a day when the right people are in town." According to author Lamar Waldron, the purpose of this meeting would be to give final approval for the coup plan, and would be where some of those not yet "in the know" would finally be told. This is the authors' solution to the serious problem of Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, about whom the authors admit "no evidence exists showing that Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara knew about C-Day before JFK's assassination" (p.5). David Talbot interviewed McNamara in 2005 and states in a review of Ultimate Sacrifice: "McNamara himself has firmly rejected the notion that JFK was plotting a major Cuba intervention in late 1963, in an interview I conducted with him earlier this year for a book on the Kennedy brothers" (see review at top of this page).

Also provided by Waldron was a copy of an AP article from 10 May 1963 about a "new all-out drive to unify Cuban refugees into a single powerful organization to topple the Castro regime," which also stated "Seeking to put together the junta was Enrique Ruiz Williams, a Bay of Pigs invasion veteran and friend of Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy."

2. Documents Relating to Mafia Infiltration of Coup Plan

These documents relate to actions of associates of organized crime figures Marcello, Trafficante, and Rosselli, and their purported infiltration of the C-Day coup plan described in Ultimate Sacrifice. Note that the definition of a "mob figure" is not always clear-cut--for instance, Richard Cain is considered mob-affiliated by experts (see pg.172 of HSCA Vol X), but also worked in the Sheriff's Office of Cook County. Also, the book's text provides a more nuanced view of the plotters than just "mafia dons," discussing the alleged involvement of CIA officer David Morales, former FBI agent Guy Banister, and David Ferrie.

180-10145-10211 (undated) - Chapter 33, endnote 6. This document, from the CIA Segregated Collection, notes in paragraph E a confidential informant report that Cuban exile leader Tony Varona had been in Chicago in July of 1963, and had received a $200,000 contribution from Mob figures including Sam Giancana.

Process Sheet for OO/C Collections (undated) - Chapter 22, endnote 50. This process sheet from Richard Cain's file, routed to Sam Halpern (Special Affairs Staff) and Jane Roman (Counterintelligence) shows that Cain was the contact for subject: "Cuban Exiles' Interest in Purchasing Arms/Financial Contribution from Chicago Underworld" (see previous document).

104-10308-10080 - MEMO: AMWORLD OPERATION (undated) - Chapter 49, endnote 21. This set of summaries of AMWORLD documents, probably generated in the 1970s, includes one summary which states: "Rumors of Mafia support of AMWORLD had long pervaded the AMWORLD organization. ARTIME claimed to have been contacted in the past by the Mafia for the sale of arms." It also notes generally that in regard to Artime and the MRR organization: "Operations against Cuba were tentatively scheduled for December 1963, but most of the strikes took place in November 1963." This doesn't seem to fit perfectly with the notion of a planned Dec 1 coup.

Memo from Legal Attache, Havana to Director, FBI (31 Jul 1959) - Chapter 31, endnote 38. This FBI memo from 1959 discusses the arrest of John Martino, who before his death confessed to involvement in the JFK assassination. This memo notes that "According to Dr. ESTEVEZ, MARTINO was a close friend of many former members of the Batista government, such as ESTEBAN VENTURA, ROLANDO MASFERRER.....and of many American gamblers such as SANTOS TRAFFICANTE..."

Commission Document 657 (15 Feb 1964) - Chapter 22, endnote 39. Warren Commission Document 657 is an FBI memo concerning an interview with John Martino, who stated "he was quoted correctly in the statement that his sources informed him that President Kennedy was engaged in a plot to overthrow the Castro regime by preparing another invasion attempt against Cuba."

3. Documents Relating to Cover-Up of the Coup Plan

The third set of documents provided by author Lamar Waldron relates to the cover-up following JFK's assassination. The book includes more information on plots to kill Kennedy in Chicago and Tampa. See the following related section of documents related to Abraham Bolden, the Chicago Secret Service agent arrested on the eve of his appearance before the Warren Commission.

NLK-78-473: Status Report on Assigned Contingency Papers (12 Nov 1963) - Chapter 55, endnote 14. This pre-assassination document discusses the conclusions of a Subcommittee on Cuban Subversion assigned to prepare contingency plans to counter possible actions by Castro. One of these possible actions to be planned for was "Attempts at kidnapping or assassination of American officials and/or citizens.

Affidavit of Mr. David Powers (18 May 1964) - Acknowledgements, p. 902. This version of Powers' affidavit to the Warren Commission, unlike the one printed in the WC volumes, features the signature of WC staffer Arlen Specter. As noted in O'Neill's book Man of the House, Powers told House Speaker Tip O'Neill that he and Kenneth O'Donnell both knew that shots came from the grassy knoll in front of the limo, but O'Donnell said they "testified the way they wanted me to." Co-author Thom Hartmann also interviewed Powers for the book and was told the same story (see video clip in sidebar). According to Waldron, Kennedy aide and confidant Powers was not aware of the purported C-Day plan.

FBI Memo: Brennan-Papich (4 Feb 1964). This internal FBI memo from early 1964 notes a "discreet" check with CIA concerning Operation Judas, and quotes a CIA official (name redacted) as stating that "Cuban exiles in the U.S. could have such plans and have seen fit not to inform CIA. This appears to be a case of the CIA lying to the FBI. The CIA official added that the agency would "appreciate receiving from the Bureau any additional information...concerning Operation Judas."

Letter from Martin Waldron of New York Times to New Orleans Police Lt. Marvin Leonard (21 Nov 1966) - Chapter 61, endnote 43. The New York Times in late 1966 was capable of asking detailed and relevant questions about the JFK assassination in internal investigations, something the organization has not done in print. Many of these questions relate to David Ferrie, who had recently become of interest to New Orleans DA Jim Garrison. Note: Martin Waldron is no relation to Lamar Waldron.

Lamar Waldron also supplied copies of four newspaper articles, not reproduced here:

4. Documents Related to Secret Service Agent Abraham Bolden

These documents tell some of the story of Abraham Bolden, the Secret Service agent arrested just prior to appearing before the Warren Commission. Ultimate Sacrifice concludes that Bolden was framed by Richard Cain, a mob-affiliated sheriff's deputy for Cook County.

Commission Document 997: Letterhead Memorandum of 25 May 1964 re: Abraham Bolden Interview. This letter describes an FBI interview of Bolden prior to his planned appearance before the Warren Commission.

FBI Memo from Rosen to Belmont of 22 May 1964. This memo notes Bolden's arrest on 19 May 1964 on charges of attempting to sell a government report and Bolden's claim that he was being framed, and discusses a call from Howard Willens of the Warren Commission staff. See also a memo from Brennan to Sullivan of the same day.

CIA Memo on New York Times Article Entitled "Plot on Kennedy in Chicago Told. This internal memo comments on a 1967 New York Times article in which Bolden was a source for information on a Chicago plot to kill Kennedy. This memo also discusses allegations made by Richard Cain, who Ultimate Sacrifice fingers as the man responsible for framing Bolden. See also poor-quality copy of the New York Times story from CIA files.

Recent Newspaper Publicity Re Assassination of President Kennedy (12 Dec 1967) - Chapter 52, endnote 6. This CIA memo for the Director of Security discusses developments in the case of Abraham Bolden, the Secret Service agent allegedly framed for trying to expose details of the Chicago plot against JFK. This memo notes the extensive information gained from informant Richard Cain in 1963, and their dropping of him in 1967 due to an FBI investigation of Cain's "alleged relation to the Mafia."

5. Other Relevant Documents

The following documents from the MFF collections, some cited in Ultimate Sacrifice and some not, may be useful to those reading it.

198-10004-10045 - MEETING AT STATE, 4 DEC 1963 ON CUBA (undated). This memo from Alexander Haig to Joseph Califano concerns an upcoming meeting on Cuba to be held on Dec 4, less than 2 weeks after the JFK assassination. Haig writes that "...I am not as optimistic as CIA concerning a military coup which even the Soviets might support..." and later "I do not believe that the Soviets would ever support a coup under the CIA concept." These statements would seem odd for someone who has been recently involved in a coup plan, and therefore cast some doubt on the C-Day notion. Ultimate Sacrifice acknowledges the active participation of Haig and Joseph Califano on the Defense Department side of the covert action against Cuba, working with CIA's Desmond Fitzgerald, head of its Special Affairs Staff. But the book walks a very fine line regarding Haig's and Califano's knowledge of the purported C-Day plan, and so in theory only Haig's boss Cyrus Vance might have been "in the know."

198-10004-10072 - FUTURE POLICY TOWARD CUBA (1963) - Introduction, endnote 1. This State Department document notes that "We should seek to create conditions conducive to incipient rebellion to which we could then respond, and be in a position to respond with open military support ... up to the full range of military forces, to a request for assistance from any anti-Castro/Communist group or groups in Cuba which demonstrates an ability to survive, which seriously threatens the present regime, and above all, whose aims are compatible with those of the U.S." The policy document eschews an "Invasion by Cuba by US military forces." The C-Day plan described in Ultimate Sacrifice would fit with this policy.

104-10429-10231 - CABLE: MIAMI CUBAN EXILE COMMUNITY'S RUMORS OF POSSIBLE GOC INVOLVEMENT IN JFK ASSASSINATION (24 Nov 1963). Note particularly Eloy Gutierrez Menoya's statement of Nov 21 that "Something very big would happen soon that would advance the Cuban cause." Of course, this could refer to Kennedy's murder instead of to a coup against Castro.

104-10434-10283 - DISPATCH: OPERATIONAL/MIGUEL CASAS SAEZ - CUBAN IN DALLAS, TEXAS (27 Jan 1964) - Chapter 51, endnote 1. This CIA document reports the presence of a Cuban agent, Miguel Casas Saez, in Dallas on November 22, 1963. Ultimate Sacrifice describes this and related reports as part of a disinformation stream to falsely implicate Castro. If true, this is one area where the plot widens beyond "Mafia dons" and takes in their associates in CIA such as David Morales, from whose operatives some of the reports originate.

6. Additional Documents Cited in Ultimate Sacrifice, by Endnote

Other documents cited in Ultimate Sacrifice include the following. Note that many are cited multiple times - the endnote provided is generally for the first time a given document is cited in the book.

6. General Resources

These reports are generally relevant and are each cited many times:

Additional documents relevant to Ultimate Sacrifice can be found in the Califano Papers, Joint Chiefs of Staff files, the Russ Holmes Work File, and Warren Commission Hearings and Exhibits, as well as other collections.

About the Book

(from the dust jacket)

"Ultimate Sacrifice reveals a previously-unknown "Plan for a Coup in Cuba", authorized by John Kennedy and run by the President's brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy. The CIA's code name for their supporting role in the coup plan - AMWORLD - has never previously surfaced in any book, article, or government investigation, consistent with one of the most secret covert operations in our history......

And when Carlos Marcello, Santo Trafficante, and Johnny Roselli - three powerful Mafia dons who would have gone to any lengths to rid themselves of what they saw to be persecution by the mob-busting Attorney General - learned of this plan, they realized that the government would go to equally adacious lengths in order to avoid revealing it to the public."

Lamar Waldron discusses the three central points made in Ultimate Sacrifice.
play video (running time: 1:23)
Lamar Waldron talks about two prior attempts on JFK's life, in Chicago and Tampa.
play video (running time: 7:17)
In this segment, author Lamar Waldron discusses how the CIA's use of the Mafia in Castro assassination plots granted them a form of immunity, and asserts that they infiltrated the 1963 coup plan.
play video (running time: 1:20)
The linkage between Oswald and the Chicago and Tampa assassination attempts, as well as the fascinating parallels between Oswald and possible alternate "patsy" Gilberto Policarpo Lopez, are the subject of this segment.
play video (running time: 1:47)
Lamar Waldron discusses the interview with Kennedy aide Dave Powers. Powers "vividly described" to Waldron's co-author Thom Hartmann shots from the grassy knoll observed by himself and Kenneth O'Donnell, and also told of the pressure to change his story for the Warren Commission.
play video (running time: 4:49)
Kennedy's attempts to reach a peaceful reconciliation with Castro, while pursuing coup plans, is the subject of this piece. Waldron also makes note of the appearance of the phrase "weapons of mass destruction" in relation to the missiles in Cuba.
play video (running time: 2:08)

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