Operation Northwoods -
Proof US Government
Could Harm Americans
From William Douglas

Could US Leaders Actually Be Capable Of Instigating Attacks Like Those Of 911?
Many people believe that the Bush administration took advantage of 9-11 in order to launch the war and impose repressive measures at home.
In reality Washington did not just take advantage of 9-11. Rather, it instigated 9-11, just as the Joint Chiefs of Staff proposed instigating fake attacks on Americans in 1962 - to create a climate where military action seems justified.
As for the campaign of repression at home - with its nightmarish Homeland Security, its assault on legal guarantees, and its star chamber Military Tribunals - this campaign is in part intended to silence the millions of people who suspect that Bush and other top leaders were involved in some way in making 9-11 happen.
Some people ask us: how can you believe that our leaders are capable of such cynicism, murderous cruelty, ruthlessness and dishonesty?
That is why Operation Northwoods is so important. For we now know that in 1962, the Joint Chiefs of Staff proposed staging phony attacks to destroy U.S. property and killing Cuban refugees and U.S. citizens, in order to create a wave of indignation and rage, to justify an invasion of Cuba that could have killed hundreds of thousands of people and possibly led to nuclear war.
Below are excerpts from and comments on the Joint Chiefs' Operation Northwoods document. It was obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.
At the end of this article, we have provided links to the document, which we set up in standard WebPage format (easy to read). You can also read it in Adobe Acrobat PDF format, via a link to the National Security Archive, at George Washington University.
Northwoods is reality.
The Northwoods proposal was authorized and tentatively approved by the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff. It had a very clear purpose:
"1. The Joint Chiefs of Staff have considered the attached Memorandum for the Chief of Operations, Cuba Project, which responds to a request* of that office for brief but precise description of pretexts which could provide justification for U.S. military intervention in Cuba.
"2. The Joint Chiefs of Staff recommend that the proposed memorandum be forwarded as a preliminary submission suitable for planning purposes." See Operation Northwoods, page i,
The aim was disinformation, to create the false impression that Cuba had viciously attacked Americans:
"5. The suggested courses of action appended to Enclosure A are based on the premise that US military intervention will result from a period of heightened US-Cuban tensions which place the United States in the position of suffering justifiable grievances. World opinion, and the United Nations forum should be favorably affected by developing the international image of the Cuban government as rash and irresponsible, and as an alarming and unpredictable threat to the peace of the Western Hemisphere." See Operations Northwoods, page 2,
The document argued that Cuba should be attacked within a few months, before it could join the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact. Thus the plan was not only deceitful and murderous, including, as we shall see, towards Americans, it was also cowardly:
"6. While the foregoing premise can be utilized at the present time it will continue to hold good only as long as there can be reasonable certainty that US military intervention in Cuba would not directly involve the Soviet Union." See Operations Northwoods, page 2,
The Northwoods document was to be forwarded to Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara. McNamara claims he never saw it; but then, he also claims that during the 1960s he was opposed to the Vietnam War. Tell that to the families of the dead GIs whom he exhorted to kill the dead Vietnamese. I wouldn't believe Robert McNamara if he said it was Monday:
"8. It is recommended that:
"A. Enclosure A together with its attachments should be forwarded to the Secretary of Defense for approval and transmittal to the Chief of Operations, Cuba Project." See Operations Northwoods, page 3,
Northwoods recognized that the best justification for attacking Cuba was to trick Cuba into attacking U.S. forces first:
"1. Since it would seem desirable to use legitimate [sic!] provocation as the basis for US military intervention in Cuba, a cover and deception plan, to include requisite preliminary actions such as has been developed in response to Task 33 o [this may be a 'c'] could be executed as an initial effort to provoke Cuban reactions. Harassment plus deceptive actions to convince the Cubans of imminent invasion would be emphasized. Our military posture throughout execution of the plan will allow a rapid change from exercise to intervention if Cuban response justifies." See Operations Northwoods page 7,
But the document also called for staging phony Cuban attacks on U.S. installations:
"(5) Blow up ammunition inside the [Guantanamo] base; start fires. (6) Burn aircraft on air base (sabotage). (7) Lob mortar shells from outside of base onto base. Some damage to installations." See Operations Northwoods page 8,
Some of the proposed attacks could be used to portray the Cubans as heartless monsters:
"It is possible to create an incident which will demonstrate convincingly that a Cuban aircraft has attacked and shot down a chartered civil airliner enroute from the United States to Jamaica, Guatemala, Panama or Venezuela. The destination would be chosen only to cause the flight plan route to cross Cuba. The passengers could be a group of college students off on a holiday or any grouping of persons with a common interest to support chartering a non-scheduled flight.' See Operations Northwoods page 10,
While the plan does not actually call for killing the college students mentioned above - only seeming to kill them - the Joint Chiefs did suggest the possibility of killing some Cuban refugees, or at least wounding them, as long as there was plenty of publicity to make it all worthwhile:
"The terror campaign could be pointed at Cuban refugees seeking haven in the United States. We could sink a boatload of Cubans enroute 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 publicized." See Operations Northwoods page 9,
Or perhaps some U.S. servicemen could be blown up:
"3. A "Remember the Maine" incident could be arranged in several forms: a. We could blow up a US ship in Guantanamo Bay and blame Cuba." See Operations Northwoods page 8,
Nothing personal, you know. All part of the game.
Note that in #3, above, the Joint Chiefs seem to take it for granted that the sinking of the Maine, which was used to justify the Spanish-American war, was a staged incident. Keep in mind that to this day - over a hundred years after the incident - the U.S. military refuses to publicly acknowledge that the Maine was destroyed in a Northwoods-style provocation, though they privately know this was the case.
Northwoods called for elaborate schemes to create the proper illusions:
"6. Use of MIG type aircraft by US pilots could provide additional provocation. Harassment of civil air, attacks on surface shipping and destruction of US military drone aircraft by MIG type planes would be useful as complementary actions. An F-86 properly painted would convince air passengers that they saw a Cuban MIG, especially if the pilot of the transport were to announce such fact. The primary drawback to this suggestion appears to be the security risk inherent in obtaining or modifying an aircraft. However, reasonable copies of the MIG could be produced from US resources in about three months." See Operations Northwoods page 9,
There is a phrase in the text above that could be used to sum up to the morality of Northwoods as a whole: "The only drawback to this scheme appears to be security." Thus the Joint Chiefs recommended that:
"b. This paper NOT be forwarded to commanders of unified or specified commands. c. This paper NOT be forwarded to US officers assigned to NATO activities. d. This paper NOT be forwarded to the Chairman, US Delegation, United Nations Military Staff Committee." See Operations Northwoods page 3,
There were additional plans for the staging of violent incidents which are not included in the Northwoods document:
"3. It is understood that the Department of State also is preparing suggested courses of action to develop justification for US military intervention in Cuba." See Operations Northwoods page 3,
We have prepared the text of Northwoods in WebPage format. Some people find this easier to navigate than the format in which the National Security Archive posted it, which is Adobe Acrobat Portable Document Format (PDF) file.
You may read the document in either format. If you are in doubt, use the WebPage format. It's easier to navigate.
For WebPage format click here or go to
For George Washington University's National Security Archive page for Operation Northwoods, click here or go to or go directly to the Adobe Acrobat PDF file at:

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