Operation Northwoods: The CIA’s plan to commit terror attacks in America.
“The courses of action which follow are a preliminary submission suitable only for planning purposes. We could develop a Communist Cuban terror campaign in the Miami area, in other cities and even in Washington. The terror campaign could be pointed at Cuban refugees seeking haven in the United States. We could sink a boatload of Cubans en route to Florida. (real or simulated). We could foster attempts on lives of Cuban refugees in the United States even to the extent of wounding in instances to be widely published. Exploding a few plastic bombs in carefully chosen spots, the arrest of(supposed) Cuban agents and the release of prepared documents substantiating Cuban involvement also would be helpful in projecting the idea of an irresponsible government”
In the 1990s, through unclassified documents, the world learned about the CIA’s Operation Northwoods begun in the early 1960s as a means to rid the world of Cuba’s dictator, Fidel Castro by causing a war between the US and that island nation.
Our intelligence sources and our state department were caught mostly unprepared for the toppling of the once American dominated Batista government by Castro in 1959. For the next decade, the US government did its best to discredit Castro and remove him from power. But almost all of those efforts failed and failed miserably including the ill planned Bay of Pigs Invasion in 1961.
In 1962 Operation Northwoods was created by the CIA as a solution to the Castro problem. The plan was drafted by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and signed by Chairman Gen. Lyman Lemnitzer. The operation called for a series of terrorist attacks on American military bases and civilian targets, conducted by CIA personnel disguised as Cuban agents. Federal officials would find direct evidence linking the attacks to Cuba and therefore have full justification for an invasion of Cuba.
In the overall plan, Anti-Castro Cubans living in the US, disguised as Castro’s army, would attack the Army Base at Guantanamo Bay while a series of terrorist attacks would be conducted by CIA agents in Miami (Where a number of Anti-Castro Cubans would be murdered) and Washington and other places.
There was also a plan to hijack a commercial jet and simulate a crash with an empty airplane that would give the appearance of all of the innocent passengers being killed. A boatload of Cuban refugees on their way to Florida would be killed and that too, would also be blamed on Castro. In the crashed plane plan, the agency suggested using Cuban refugee pilots to provoke a distracting in-flight argument with a Cuban pilot over the radio. There was another plan to distribute valid one-way airline tickets to Mexico City or Caracas, Venezuela, to create unrest and dissension amongst the Cuban people.'
There was a plan for a random, mass shooting of civilians on the street by men dressed as Cuban military, the bombings of various well known buildings, and a sort of “Remember the Maine” boat bombing. The last stage of the plan also called for a fleet of captured MiG fighter jets to fly over American airspace, harassing civil aviation and perhaps even shooting down an American airliner bound for the Caribbean.
President Kennedy personally rejected the proposal. One member read “The President said bluntly that we were not discussing the use of military force, that General Lemnitzer might find the U.S. so engaged in Berlin or elsewhere that he couldn't use the contemplated 4 divisions in Cuba."
In a follow-up memorandum to Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, General Lemnitzer wrote that the Joint Chiefs believed that the Cuban problem “must be solved in the near future. Further, they (The Joint Chiefs) see no prospect of early success in overthrowing the present Communist regime either as a result of internal uprisings or external political, economic or internal uprisings. Accordingly they believe that military intervention by the United States will be required to overthrow Castro.
Kennedy then removed Lemnitzer as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, although he became Supreme Allied Commander of NATO in January 1963. He remains the only person in history to serve as Army Chief of Staff, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Supreme Allied Commander for NATO.
But the rift between Kennedy, the Intelligence communities and the military only worsened because the Pentagon and the spies began to believe that Kennedy was too soft on Cuba. The rift only widened during Kennedy's disagreements with the service chiefs over the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Remarkably, almost unbelievably, in 1975, President Gerald Ford appointed Lemnitzer to the Rockefeller Commission on CIA Activities within the United States. Part of the committees job was to investigate whether the Central Intelligence Agency had committed acts that violated US laws, and allegations that E. Howard Hunt and Frank Sturgis were involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy.