William Attwood: ‘If the CIA did find out what we were doing…’

“If the CIA did find out what we were doing [talks toward normalizing relations with Cuba], this would have trickled down to the lower echelon of activists, and Cuban exiles, and the more gung-ho CIA people who had been involved since the Bay of Pigs….I can understand why they would have reacted so violently. This was the end of their dreams of returning to Cuba, and they might have been impelled to take violent action. Such as assassinating the President.”

— Former Ambassador to the UN William Attwood, quoted in Anthony Summers’ Not in Your Lifetime. Attwood was selected by President Kennedy to explore a rapprochement with Castro in the fall of 1963.

21 comments

  1. Quick question – what year did William Atwood make those comments to Anthony Summers? I know of 3 editions of the book “Conspiracy” by Anthony Summers (1980, 1981, 1989) by Paragon. The quote is located on pp. 401-402 of the edition that I have.

    Summers later titled his book “Not in Your Lifetime.” By the way, I think that Atwoods’ analysis is spot on. The anti-Cuban hardliners in CIA/military found out about JFK’s backdoor attempts at rapprochement with Fidel Castro (the Osama bin Laden of his time with nukes) and they decided to put a bullet in JFK’s head as they deemed him a national security threat. LBJ was completely coordinating with these folks for his own personal reasons as were Dallas, TX oil executives.

    The JFK assassination was much more about Cuba than it was Vietnam.

    • JSA says:

      I think calling Fidel Castro the “Osama bin Laden with nukes” is historically not a good analogy. bin Laden operated from a stateless capacity to send religious fundamentalists to attack and kill over 3,000 American citizens. Castro threatened but killed only invaders at the Bay of Pigs and during the Cuban Missile Crisis, only one American (U-2 pilot). Kennedy recognized that Castro was not a serious threat if we could talk him down from accepting tactical nukes, which we allegedly did after October of 1962. bin Laden was in no position to make a deal or offer peace talks to; he was just a terrorist.

      My thinking is that JFK’s assassination probably was spurred largely by Cuba and the far right’s hatred of Kennedy regarding that country, but if you look at what happened after the assassination, the US did not invade Cuba ever nor did we step up our sabotage activities. I think Lyndon Johnson, one of the key planners of the coup, decided to lay off Cuba and focus elsewhere. The Cuban Missile Crisis probably seared into his mind how dangerous it was to confront Cuba directly. Helms seems to have not focused on Cuba either, at least directly. Instead, we did a lot of other stupid things, such as set up a fake “Tonkin Incident’ to go to war in Viet-Nam, and we oversaw a coup in the Dominican Republic, in 1965. So the military probably had to eat some things that they didn’t want in order to get rid of Kennedy—-namely, get Lyndon into the office, but as a trade off they would have to let Lyndon do some things HIS way. That’s my theory anyway.

      • “So the military probably had to eat some things that they didn’t want in order to get rid of Kennedy—-namely, get Lyndon into the office, but as a trade off they would have to let Lyndon do some things HIS way.”

        Yes. After the murder of Oswald on 11/24/63, public mood was one of grief over JFK’s death and conspiracy fears were (rightfully) inflamed as if gasoline were thrown on a fire.

        LBJ – the Queen on the chessboard – cared about his agenda (not hanging from a tall tree in Dallas or Wash DC) not the war hawks agenda. But he later gave CIA/military hawks Vietnam, which I consider a pressure release valve for rage and anger over Cuba policy.

        Tragic.

      • lysias says:

        Coup already in Brazil in March-April 1964. Coup in Indonesia in October 1965. Coup in Greece in April 1967. Meanwhile several changes of military government in South Vietnam.

        LBJ really was a coup-happy president.

    • Jean Davison says:

      Attwood’s Sept. 1963 memo proposing an approach to Cuba doesn’t sound like something the CIA would object to. Attwood wrote:

      >>
      This memorandum proposes a course of action which, if successful, could remove the Cuban issue from the 1964 campaign.

      It does not propose offering Castro a “deal”—which could be more dangerous politically than doing nothing. It does propose a discreet inquiry into the possibility of neutralizing Cuba on our terms.

      It is based on the assumption that, short of a change of regime, our principal political objectives in Cuba are:

      a. The evacuation of all Soviet bloc military personnel.

      b. An end to subversive activities by Cuba in Latin America.

      c. Adoption by Cuba of a policy of non-alignment. [....]
      >>>>
      UNQUOTE
      http://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1961-63v11/d367

      These conditions were echoed by RFK in November:

      QUOTE:
      >>>
      The Attorney General emphasized that as a prelude to all this the U.S. must require some fundamental steps such as the end of subversion in Latin America and removing the Soviet troops in Cuba before any serious discussion can take place about a detente. [....]
      <<<<

      UNQUOTE
      http://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1961-63v11/d373

      These conditions were repeated by JFK in his final speech on Cuba.

      http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=9529

  2. Kennedy63 says:

    The virulent anti-Castro Cubans and their war monger supporters raised a palpable din over Cuba. When you look at the confluence of forces aligned around “freeing” Cuba of Castro, it is wise to look at the groups having the most invested; namely, the mafia and CIA sponsored anti-Castro Cuban exiles (which also included members of previous Cuban ‘puppet regimes’ supported by the US businesses and government). This CIA/MAFIA/ANTI-CASTRO CUBAN EXILE NEXUS, violent and mercurial, was tied directly into our national intelligence and security apparatus, vis a vis CIA officials working with anti-Castro groups as heads of station, case officers, and military trainers (e.g., Bill Harvey with Johnny Rosselli; Howard Hunt with Bay of Pigs cadres (later the White House Plumbers of Watergate infamy); David Morales (a trained assassin) with Cuban exiles at CIA station JM/WAVE in Miami, and David Atlee Phillips with Antonio Veciana (Who identified Phillips as “Maurice Bishop” in a letter to Gaeton Fonzi’s widow in 2013). Ultra conservative rich people, such as William Pawley, Lamar Hunt, and Howard Hughes, financially contributed to the exiles cause, as did the Catholic Church; and powerful and exceedingly corrupt characters (such as Jimmy Hoffa (Teamsters), Carlos Marcello (New Orleans), Santo Trafficante (Tampa), Tony Arccado (Chicago), Sam Giancana (Chicago), and Johnny Roselli (California) supported (by drugs, money, and gun exchanges) the exiles. Jack Ruby, as much as it was downplayed by those closest to him, was mob connected through the Chicago Outfit and business relationships, with representatives of Carlos Marcello, in Dallas, TX. Oswald, I think, was lured into this swirling viperous milieu, once his limited understanding of real world battles was discovered by DRE agents, and designated as a patsy. The visit to Silvia Odio indicates “Leon Oswaldo” was already selected as the patsy. His New Orleans “assignment” was primarily to build a “communist Castro sympathizer” legend for patsy Oswald, to be released after the JFK assassination as a provocation to invade Cuba.If both JFK and RFK thought it in America’s best interest to establish a rapprochement with Cuba, other’s thought it anathema to the CIA/MAFIA/ANTI-CASTRO CUBAN EXILE NEXUS, violent and mercurial, and tied directly into our national intelligence and national security apparatus, vis a vis CIA/military officials working with anti-Castro groups as heads of station, case officers, and military trainers.

  3. Larry Schnapf says:

    JFK’s presidency began and ended with Cuba,,,

    • R. Andrew Kiel says:

      The bottom line is that the Mob & those who wanted to invade Cuba lost & those who wanted a ground & air war in Vietnam won. John Roselli, Sam Giancana, Jimmy Hoffa & others who were involved in assassination attempts against Castro were all murdered or imprisoned (Carlos Marcello & Santos Trafficante). E. Howard Hunt & Frank Sturgis were also heavily involved in CIA anti-Casto operations & served time in prison. CIA officers above them pulled the strings & dropped them when the CIA & Joint Chiefs changed their priorities.

      The CIA had been deeply involved in SE Asia for a long time – Arthur Krock warned in an October 3, 1963 NY Times article that the CIA was out of control in Vietnam & was flatly refusing to follow the orders of JFK & that a coup against JFK could come from the CIA in Vietnam. Apparently the CIA faction in Vietnam along with the Joint Chiefs as well as those who were going to make billions off of the planes, helicopters, & other equipment needed for the war were pushing for a different agenda.

      The revelations of US Army cryptographer Eugene Dinkins that the US military was planning the murder of JFK in late October 1963 deserves more study. Dinkins is documented to have stated a month before the assassination that JFK would be killed in Texas near Thanksgiving & that a communist or negro would be implicated is truly fascinating!

  4. lysias says:

    Is there any way the NSA could not have found out about the rapprochement between JFK and Castro?

  5. steverex says:

    1) The whole JMWave/Bay of Pigs setup was planned under the assumption that Nixon would be CinC, (President), and so he would “know what to do” if the exiles failed to succeed in toppling Castro. The “plan” from the start was to have U.S. soldiers and sailors embarked and ready to come ashore as soon as the CinC could sign the order. Nixon would have signed an order well beforehand, and post-dated it. JFK & Co. were too green and too naive appreciate the mendacity of the Cuban operation’s U.S. planners. JFK’s failure here may have been his greatest success though because he ‘took his medicine’ and was not subsequently indebted to CIA, the Pentagon, or anyone else. JFK’s firing of Dulles et. al. was as much for failing to serve their CinC, bordering on treason, rather than just incompetence.
    2)Lots of speculation about a second Cuban invasion planned for December ’63, and now we hear about a high level rapprochement with Castro? Everyone knew by Nov. of ’63 that the biggest foreign policy debate for ’64 election had to be about VietNam, not Cuba. Comparatively small potatoes as they say. JFK &Co. were smart enough to downplay any further Cuban ops after the BoP, especially now that plans would be compromised (leaked) for political reasons. JFK’s shuttling of advisors and ambassadors to and from Saigon during spring and fall ’63 show that he was gaining his own sense of our chances of bringing about the changes needed there and to make a decision as to our future involvement. Pres. Diem was informed many times that his persecution of the Buddhists was not acceptable if we were to ‘help’ them. Ambassador Lodge couldn’t persuade Diem and his entourage, and a military coup was unofficially supported by the White House. Again, you have JFK’s naivete on display when he expressed great shock and perhaps grief when informed that Diem & Co. were killed by the conspirators.

  6. Ramon F Herrera says:

    Netflix just added for streaming the 2013 documentary “JFK: A President Betrayed”.

    “This documentary presents evidence that John F. Kennedy pursued peace talks with Nikita Khrushchev and Fidel Castro, determined to get out of Vietnam”.

    http://www.netflix.com/WiMovie/70299463?trkid=13462100

  7. Larry Schnapf says:

    @Jean Davidson- The CIA was on record of objecting to the Attwood outreach. So its not a matter of what you think. And then word of the backchannel was leaked to the exiles.

    I dont think LBJ was involved in the assassination. But he both put a halt to any further talks and did not take the bait about the assassination being the work of Castro. So the plotters did not get what they wanted- an invasion of Cuba to take down Castro.

    • Jean Davison says:

      Larry,

      Of course it’s not a matter of what I think. I agree 100%. I quoted what Attwood actually wrote in his original proposal, which is online. The conditions he listed are similar to what JFK said in his last speech on Cuba, 11/18/63:

      QUOTE:
      It is important to restate what now divides Cuba from my country and from the other countries of this hemisphere. It is the fact that a small band of conspirators has stripped the Cuban people of their freedom and handed over the independence and sovereignty of the Cuban nation to forces beyond the hemisphere. They have made Cuba a victim of foreign imperialism, an instrument of the policy of others, a weapon in an effort dictated by external powers to subvert the other American Republics. This, and this alone, divides us. As long as this is true, nothing is possible. Without it, everything is possible. Once this barrier is removed, we will be ready and anxious to work with the Cuban people in pursuit of those progressive goals which a few short years ago stirred their hopes and the sympathy of many people throughout the hemisphere.
      UNQUOTE

      http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=9529

  8. Arnaldo M. Fernandez says:

    It seems that the CIA was one step ahead and applied an active measure. In December 1962, Cuban exile Felipe Vidal Santiago detonated a political bombshell in Miami by revealing he had learned from Marshall Diggs, an attorney related to the Citizen’s Committee to Free Cuba, that the chairman of the State Department’s policy planning council, Walt Rostow, told Henry Cabot Lodge about JFK exploring “a plan to open a dialogue with Cuba,” which would start with a meeting in East Berlin with the old Commie and high ranked Castro´s official Blas Roca.
    In the spring 1963, fierce anti-Castro leader Orlando Bosch published the pamphlet “The Cuban Tragedy,” accusing JFK of betraying the Cuban exiles three times: Bay of Pigs, Missile Crisis, and now a pact with Castro.
    According to CIA pilot Robert Plumlee, in May 1963 Cuban ex president Carlos Prio, Mafia capo Roselli, Colonel King´s aide William Carr, and CIA officer Robert Rogers met at Bimini to discuss the Cuban problem under the new JFK policy.

    • lysias says:

      I wonder how Marshall Diggs found out. I wonder if Henry Cabot Lodge leaked the information.

      • Arnaldo M. Fernandez says:

        It was almost certainly an active measure. There is no record of Cuban or American officials preparing such a meeting with in East Germany by that time.

  9. george taylor says:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QxGrXVGzA3Q

    Good doc from the Cuban G2, Interview with Rolando Cubela(The man given the poison ink pen to kill castro the day of JFK assasination, The audio recordings from the Cuban Embassy after assasination, etc… Pretty good info.`

    • Arnaldo M. Fernandez says:

      I´m sorry, but this documentary has been debunked even by anti-Castroite conspiracy theorist Dr. Brain Latell. I was manufactured by a German movie maker, but the guy behind is our well-known myth-maniac Gus Russo.

  10. bogman says:

    I’ve been reading the summary part of the Warren Report and it’s clear to me what they set out to do — just like the Katzenbach memo stated, eliminate any possibility in the mind of the American public there could’ve been conspirators.

    By eliminating any contradictory evidence from the record, they actually undermined their goal and set suspicion in place.

    But bottom line for me on the JFK case, elements in the US government were credible suspects and the WR ignored all of that, while the HSCA cozied up to the intel agencies rather than treating them as potential suspects. The AARB got as much as they could released to let the public figure it out, but the citizenry has no subpoena power or force of law to help support its research.

    It should’ve beeen obvious to everyone that a domestic conspiracy is always a possibility in the assassination of the head of state, and neither the WR nor HSCA pursued that line as aggressively as they should’ve. But I believe institutionally, any govt is incapable of conducting that type of investigation of itself while the citizenry can’t get to all the facts.

    So there you have it – stalemate.

    • Jonathan says:

      If one believes there was a plot to kill JFK one is confronted immediately with several bedrock questions:

      1) Why has the U.S. government always tried to hide the conspiracy?

      2) Why did the plotters choose Oswald to be the patsy?

      3) Why have certain secrets been revealed?

      Working backwards: 3) Certain secrets have been revealed in order to lead researchers away from the central truth, I believe. The secrets revealed about the CIA and CIA figures are the prime example. They are open doors that lead to more doors but no revelation.

      2) Oswald was chosen, very carefully and deliberately, because he could be connected to the CIA and the FBI, I believe. Neither of those agencies, understandably, would have wanted those connections revealed. Furthermore, Oswald was an enigma. How did he learn to speak and write Russian, for example? Oswald’s life is maze of dead ends for researchers. He’s the perfect distraction.

      3) The U.S. government always has been afraid of letting the American people know the truth about the assassination. The truth therefore must be really awful. Americans after all have digested a mountain of garbage about the U.S. Government and its leaders. What’s so awful about the truth of the JFK assassination? Certainly not that some Cubans, mobsters, and CIA guys cooked up a plot. Such a plot fails to explain the enduring and deeply rooted cover-up.

      • bogman says:

        You may be on to something, Jonathan. I do think, though, that the CIA truly did its level best to hide the Joannides/DRE connection. I also think it was pure happenstance that a transcription of the Hoover/LBJ phone conversation regarding the imposter in Mexico City survived. Again, they wanted this stuff to stay disappeared forever.

        My thought has always been that it has something to do with Castro and they’re waiting for his death. He’s really the only major player left in this drama. The other thought is that we won’t know the full truth until the last family member, Caroline, passes someday.

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