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Operation Northwoods

Operation Northwoods
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Operation Northwoods memoranda (March 13, 1962).
Operation Northwoods memoranda (March 13, 1962).[1]
Operation Northwoods, or Northwoods, was a 1962 plan by the US Department of Defense to cause acts of terrorism and violence on US soil or against US interests, blamed on Cuba, in order to generate U.S. public support for military action against the Cuban government of Fidel Castro. As part of the U.S. government's Operation Mongoose anti-Castro initiative, the plan, which was not implemented, called for various false flag actions, including simulated or real state-sponsored acts of terrorism (such as hijacked planes) on U.S. and Cuban soil. The plan was proposed by senior U.S. Department of Defense leaders, including the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Lyman Louis Lemnitzer.
The main proposal was presented in a document entitled "Justification for US Military Intervention in Cuba (TS)," a collection of draft memoranda written by the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) representative to the Caribbean Survey Group.[1] (The parenthetical "TS" in the title of the document is an initialism for "Top Secret.") The document was presented by the Joint Chiefs of Staff to Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara on March 13 with one paragraph approved, as a preliminary submission for planning purposes.
The previously secret document was originally made public on November 18, 1997 by the John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Review Board,[2] a U.S. federal agency overseeing the release of government records related to John F. Kennedy's assassination.[3][4] [5][6][7] A total of about 1500 pages of once-secret military records covering 1962 to 1964 were concomitantly declassified by said Review Board.
"Appendix to Enclosure A" and "Annex to Appendix to Enclosure A" of the Northwoods document were first published online by the National Security Archive on November 6, 1998 in a joint venture with CNN as part of CNN's 1998 Cold War television documentary series[8][9] - specifically, as a documentation supplement to "Episode 10: Cuba," which aired on November 29, 1998.[10][11] "Annex to Appendix to Enclosure A" is the section of the document which contains the proposals to stage terrorist attacks.
The Northwoods document was published online in a more complete form (i.e., including cover memoranda) by the National Security Archive on April 30, 2001.[12]
In response to a request for pretexts for military intervention by the Chief of Operations of the Cuba Project, Brig. Gen. Edward Lansdale, the document lists methods (with, in some cases, outlined plans) the authors believed would garner public and international support for U.S. military intervention in Cuba. These are staged attacks purporting to be of Cuban origin, with a number of them having real casualties. Central to the plan was the use of "friendly Cubans" - Cuban exiles seeking to oust Fidel Castro.
'The proposals included:
* Starting rumors about Cuba by using clandestine radios.
* Staging mock attacks, sabotages and riots at Guantanamo Bay and blaming it on Cuban forces.
* Firebombing and sinking an American ship at the Guantanamo Bay American military base - reminiscent of the USS Maine incident at Havana in 1898, which started the Spanish-American War - or destroy American aircraft and blame it on Cuban forces. (The document's first suggestion regarding the sinking of a U.S. ship is to blow up a manned ship and hence would result in U.S. Navy members being killed, with a secondary suggestion of possibly using an unmanned ship and fake funerals instead.)
* "Harassment of civil air, attacks on surface shipping and destruction of US military drone aircraft by MIG type [sic] planes would be useful as complementary actions."
* Destroying an unmanned drone masquerading as a commercial aircraft supposedly full of "college students off on a holiday". This proposal was the one supported by the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
* Staging a "terror campaign", including the "real or simulated" sinking of Cuban refugees:
We could develop a Communist Cuban terror campaign in the Miami area, in other Florida cities and even in Washington. The terror campaign could be pointed at refugees seeking haven in the United States. We could sink a boatload of Cubans enroute [sic] 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. Exploding a few plastic bombs in carefully chosen spots, the arrest of Cuban agents and the release of prepared documents substantiating Cuban involvement, also would be helpful in projecting the idea of an irresponsible government.
* Burning crops by dropping incendiary devices in Haiti, the Dominican Republic or elsewhere.
Journalist James Bamford summarized Operation Northwoods in his April 24, 2001 book Body of Secrets thusly:
Operation Northwoods, which had the written approval of the Chairman and every member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called for innocent people to be shot on American streets; for boats carrying refugees fleeing Cuba to be sunk on the high seas; for a wave of violent terrorism to be launched in Washington, D.C., Miami, and elsewhere. People would be framed for bombings they did not commit; planes would be hijacked. Using phony evidence, all of it would be blamed on Castro, thus giving Lemnitzer and his cabal the excuse, as well as the public and international backing, they needed to launch their war.[13]
[edit] Related Operation Mongoose proposals
In addition to Operation Northwoods, under the Operation Mongoose program the Department of Defense had a number of similar proposals to be taken against the Cuban regime of Fidel Castro.
Twelve of these proposals come from a February 2, 1962 memorandum entitled "Possible Actions to Provoke, Harass or Disrupt Cuba," written by Brig. Gen. William H. Craig and submitted to Brig. Gen. Edward Lansdale, the commander of the Operation Mongoose project. [14][5][6][7]
The memorandum outlines Operation Bingo, a plan to, in its words, "create an incident which has the appearance of an attack on U.S. facilities (GMO) in Cuba, thus providing an excuse for use of U.S. military might to overthrow the current government of Cuba."
It also includes Operation Dirty Trick, a plot to blame Castro if the 1962 Mercury manned space flight carrying John Glenn crashed, saying "The objective is to provide irrevocable proof that, should the MERCURY manned orbit flight fail, the fault lies with the Communists et al Cuba [sic]." It continues, "This to be accomplished by manufacturing various pieces of evidence which would prove electronic interference on the part of the Cubans."
Even after General Lyman Lemnitzer lost his job as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Joint Chiefs of Staff still planned false-flag pretext operations at least into 1963. A different Department of Defense policy paper created in 1963 discussed a plan to make it appear that Cuba had attacked a member of the Organization of American States (OAS) so that the United States could retaliate. The Pentagon document says of one of the scenarios, "A contrived 'Cuban' attack on an OAS member could be set up, and the attacked state could be urged to take measures of self-defense and request assistance from the U.S. and OAS." The plan expresses confidence that by this action "the U.S. could almost certainly obtain the necessary two-thirds support among OAS members for collective action against Cuba."[15][13]
Included in the nations the Joint Chiefs suggested as targets for covert attacks were Jamaica and Trinidad-Tobago. Since both were members of the British Commonwealth, the Joint Chiefs hoped that by secretly attacking them and then falsely blaming Cuba, the United States could incite the people of the United Kingdom into supporting a war against Castro.[13] As the Pentagon report noted,
Any of the contrived situations described above are inherently, extremely risky in our democratic system in which security can be maintained, after the fact, with very great difficulty. If the decision should be made to set up a contrived situation it should be one in which participation by U.S. personnel is limited only to the most highly trusted covert personnel. This suggests the infeasibility of the use of military units for any aspect of the contrived situation.[13]
The Pentagon report even suggested covertly paying a person in the Castro government to attack the United States: "The only area remaining for consideration then would be to bribe one of Castro's subordinate commanders to initiate an attack on [the U.S. Navy base at] Guantanamo."[13]
[edit] Reaction
It has been reported that John F. Kennedy personally rejected the Northwoods proposal, but no official record of this exists. The proposal was sent for approval to the Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, but was not implemented. President Kennedy removed General Lyman Lemnitzer as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff shortly afterward, although he became Supreme Allied Commander of NATO in January 1963.
The continuing push against the Cuban government by internal elements of the U.S. military and intelligence community (the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion, the Cuban Project, etc.) prompted President John F. Kennedy to attempt to rein in burgeoning hardline anti-Communist sentiment that was intent on proactive, aggressive action against communist movements around the globe. After the Bay of Pigs, John F. Kennedy fired then CIA director Allen W. Dulles, Deputy Director Charles P. Cabell, as well as Deputy Director Richard Bissell, and turned his attention towards Vietnam.
Kennedy also took steps to bring discipline to the CIA's Cold War and paramilitary operations by drafting a National Security Action Memorandum (NSAM) which called for the shift of Cold War operations to the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Pentagon as well as a major change in the role of the CIA to exclusively deal in intelligence gathering.
On August 3, 2001, the National Assembly of People's Power of Cuba (the main legislative body of the Republic of Cuba) issued a statement referring to Operation Northwoods and Operation Mongoose wherein it condemned such U.S. government plans.[16]
[edit] See also
Cuba Portal
* Bay of Pigs Invasion
* Body of Secrets
* The Cuban Project (Operation Mongoose)
* Cuba-United States relations
* Operation WASHTUB, a plan to plant a phony Soviet arms cache in Nicaragua to demonstrate Guatemalan ties to Moscow.[17]
* Proactive, Preemptive Operations Group (P2OG)
* 9/11 conspiracy theories, which sometime invoke the operation
[edit] Further reading
* Jon Elliston, editor, Psywar on Cuba: The Declassified History of U.S. Anti-Castro Propaganda (Melbourne, Australia and New York: Ocean Press, 1999), ISBN 1-876175-09-5.
* James Bamford, Body of Secrets: Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret National Security Agency From the Cold War Through the Dawn of a New Century (New York: Doubleday, first edition, April 24, 2001), ISBN 0-385-49907-8. Here is an excerpt from Chapter 4: "Fists" of this book.
[edit] References
1. ^ a b U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, "Justification for US Military Intervention in Cuba (TS)," U.S. Department of Defense, March 13, 1962. The Operation Northwoods document in PDF format on the website of the independent, non-governmental research institute the National Security Archive at the George Washington University Gelman Library, Washington, D.C. Direct PDF links: here and here.
2. ^ "The Records of the Assassination Records Review Board," National Archives and Records Administration.
3. ^ "Media Advisory: National Archives Releases Additional Materials Reviewed by the Assassination Records Review Board," Assassination Records Review Board (a division of the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration), November 17, 1997. A U.S. government press-release announcing the declassification of some 1500 pages of U.S. government documents from 1962-64 relating to U.S. policy towards Cuba, among which declassified documents included the Operation Northwoods document.
4. ^ Jim Wolf, "Pentagon Planned 1960s Cuban 'Terror Campaign'," Reuters, November 18, 1997.
5. ^ a b Mike Feinsilber, "At a tense time, plots abounded to humiliate Castro," Associated Press (AP), November 18, 1997; also available here.
6. ^ a b Tim Weiner, "Documents Show Pentagon's Anti-Castro Plots During Kennedy Years," New York Times, November 19, 1997; appeared on the same date and by the same author in the New York Times itself as "Declassified Papers Show Anti-Castro Ideas Proposed to Kennedy," late edition - final, section A, pg. 25, column 1.
7. ^ a b Jon Elliston, "Operation Mongoose: The PSYOP Papers," ParaScope, Inc., 1998.
8. ^ "National Security Archive: COLD WAR: Documents," National Security Archive, September 27, 1998-January 24, 1999.
9. ^ U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, "Appendix to Enclosure A: Memorandum for Chief of Operations, Cuba Project" and "Annex to Appendix to Enclosure A: Pretexts to Justify US Military Intervention in Cuba," U.S. Department of Defense, circa March 1962. First published online by the National Security Archive on November 6, 1998 as part of CNN's Cold War documentary series. "Annex to Appendix to Enclosure A" is the section of the Operation Northwoods document which contains the proposals to stage terrorist attacks.
10. ^ "Episode 10: Cuba; Cuba: 1959-1968," CNN (Cable News Network LP, LLLP).
11. ^ "Cold War Teacher Materials: Episodes," and "Educator Guide to CNN's COLD WAR Episode 10: Cuba," Turner Learning (Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.).
12. ^ "Pentagon Proposed Pretexts for Cuba Invasion in 1962," National Security Archive, April 30, 2001.
13. ^ a b c d e James Bamford, Chapter 4: "Fists" of Body of Secrets: Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret National Security Agency From the Cold War Through the Dawn of a New Century (New York: Doubleday, first edition, April 24, 2001), ISBN 0-385-49907-8. Here is an excerpt from Chapter 4: "Fists" of this book.
14. ^ Memo from Brig. Gen. William Craig to Brig. Gen. Edward Lansdale, "Possible Actions to Provoke, Harass, or Disrupt Cuba," U.S. Department of Defense, February 2, 1962. The following are photoscans of this document in JPEG format: Page 1, Page 2, Page 3, Page 4. (Note: the foregoing links to Brig. Gen. Craig's memo are at this time offline. The following are backup links: text in HTML; JPEG photoscans: Page 1, Page 2, Page 3, Page 4.)
15. ^ Mike Feinsilber, "Records Show Plan To Provoke Castro," Associated Press (AP), January 29, 1998.
16. ^ "Statement by the National Assembly of People's Power of the Republic of Cuba," National Assembly of People's Power of Cuba, August 3, 2001; also available here.
17. ^ Matthew Ward, COHA Research Fellow, "Appendix A: Timeline of Events" from "Washington Unmakes Guatemala, 1954," Council on Hemispheric Affairs, 2004. Accessed February 2006.
[edit] External links
See the above "References" section for documents cited in the body of this article.
* Full text of the Operation Northwoods document in searchable HTML format.
* The Operation Northwoods document in JPEG format.
* Scott Shane and Tom Bowman with contribution from Laura Sullivan, "New book on NSA sheds light on secrets: U.S. terror plan was Cuba invasion pretext," Baltimore Sun, April 24, 2001.
* Ron Kampeas, "Memo: U.S. Mulled Fake Cuba Pretext," Associated Press (AP), April 25, 2001.
* Bruce Schneier, "'Body of Secrets' by James Bamford: The author of a pioneering work on the NSA delivers a new book of revelations about the mysterious agency's coverups, eavesdropping and secret missions," Salon.com, April 25, 2001.
* David Ruppe, "U.S. Military Wanted to Provoke War With Cuba; Book: U.S. Military Drafted Plans to Terrorize U.S. Cities to Provoke War With Cuba," ABC News, May 1, 2001.
* "The Truth Is Out There-1962 memo from National Security Agency," Harper's Magazine, July 2001.
* Chris Floyd, "Head Cases," Moscow Times, December 21, 2001, pg. VIII; also appeared in St. Petersburg Times, Issue 733 (100), December 25, 2001.
* "Operation Northwoods," SourceWatch.
* Thierry Meyssan, "Operation Northwoods: The Terrorist Attacks Planned by the American Joint Chief of Staff against its Population," Voltaire Network, November 5, 2001.
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