REFLECTIONS BY THE COMMANDER IN CHIEF
THE KILLING MACHINE
Sunday is a good day to read something that would appear to be science fiction.
It was announced that the CIA would be declassifying hundreds of pages on illegal actions that included plans to eliminate the leaders of foreign governments. Suddenly the publication is halted and it is delayed one day. No coherent explanation was given. Perhaps someone in the White House looked over the material.
The first package of declassified documents goes by the name of “The Family Jewels”; it consists of 702 pages on illegal CIA actions between 1959 and 1973. About 100 pages of this part have been deleted. It deals with actions that were not authorized by any law, plots to assassinate other leaders, experiments with drugs on human beings to control their minds, spying on civil activists and journalists, among other similar activities that were expressly prohibited.
The documents began to be gathered together 14 years after the first of the events took place, when then CIA director, James Schlessinger became alarmed about what the press was writing, especially all the articles by Robert Woodward and Carl Bernstein published in The Washington Post, already mentioned in the “Manifesto to the People of Cuba”. The agency was being accused of promoting spying in the Watergate Hotel with the participation of its former agents Howard Hunt and James McCord.
In May 1973, the Director of the CIA was
demanding that "all the main operative officials of this agency must
immediately inform me on any ongoing or past activity that might be outside of
the constituting charter of this agency”.
Schlessinger, later appointed Head of the
Pentagon, had been replaced by William Colby. Colby was referring to the
documents as “skeletons hiding in a closet". New press revelations forced
Colby to admit the existence of the reports to interim President Gerald Ford in
1975. The New York Times was
denouncing agency penetration of antiwar groups. The law that created the CIA
prevented it from spying inside the
That “was just the tip of the iceberg”, said then Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.
Kissinger himself warned that “blood would
flow” if other actions were known, and he immediately added: “For example, that
Robert Kennedy personally controlled the operation for the assassination of
Fidel Castro”. The President’s brother was then Attorney General of the
Oswald wanted to come through
Subsequently, in international functions
or on visits to
The young man, in the prime of his life,
and well brought up, tragically died in an airplane accident on a stormy night
as he was flying to
I remember that, exactly on the day and minute he was assassinated, I was speaking in a peaceful spot outside of the capital with French journalist Jean Daniel. He told me that he was bringing a message from President Kennedy. He said to me that in essence he had told him: “You are going to see Castro. I would like to know what he thinks about the terrible danger we just experienced of a thermonuclear war. I want to see you again as soon as you get back.” “Kennedy was very active; he seemed to be a political machine”, he added, and we were not able to continue talking as someone rushed in with the news of what had just happened. We turned on the radio. What Kennedy thought was now pointless.
Certainly I lived with that danger.
Kennedy had emerged from the crisis with
greater authority. He came to recognize the enormous sacrifices of human lives
and material wealth made by the Soviet people in the struggle against fascism.
The worst of the relations between the
After the Missile Crisis we would have not
refused to talk with Kennedy, nor would we have ceased being revolutionaries
and radical in our struggle for socialism.
President Ford decided to appoint a Commission to investigate the Central Intelligence Agency. “We do not want to destroy the CIA but to preserve it”, he said.
As a result of the Commission’s investigations that were led by Senator Frank Church, President Ford signed an executive order which expressly prohibited the participation of American officials in the assassinations of foreign leaders.
The documents published now disclose information about the CIA-Mafia links for my assassination.
Details are also revealed about Operation Chaos, carrying on from 1969 for at least seven years, for which the CIA created a special squadron with the mission to infiltrate pacifist groups and to investigate “the international activities of radicals and black militants”. The Agency compiled more than 300,000 names of American citizens and organizations and extensive files on 7,200 persons.
According to The New York Times, President Johnson was convinced that the American anti-War movement was controlled and funded by Communist governments and he ordered the CIA to produce evidence.
The documents recognize, furthermore, that
the CIA spied on various journalists like Jack Anderson, performers such as
Jane Fonda and John Lennon, and the student movements at
In a memorandum sent to Colby in 1973,
Walter Elder who had been executive assistant to John McCone, CIA Director in
the early 1970s, gives information about discussions in the CIA headquarters
that were taped and transcribed: “I know that whoever worked in the offices of
the director were worried about the fact that these conversations in the office
and on the phone were transcribed. During the McCone years there were
microphones in his regular offices, the inner office, the dining room, the
office in the East building, and in the study of his home on
The secret transcripts of the CIA directors could contain a great number of “jewels”. The National Security Archive is already requesting these transcripts.
A memo clarifies that the CIA had a project called OFTEN which would collect “information about dangerous drugs in American companies”, until the program was terminated in the fall of 1972. In another memo there are reports that manufacturers of commercial drugs "had passed” drugs to the CIA which had been “refused due to adverse secondary effects”.
As part of the MKULTRA program, the CIA had given LSD and other psycho-active drugs to people without their knowledge. According to another document in the archive, Sydney Gottlieb, a psychiatrist and head of chemistry of the Agency Mind Control Program, is supposedly the person responsible for having made available the poison that was going to be used in the assassination attempt on Patrice Lumumba.
CIA employees assigned to MHCHAOS –the
operation that carried out surveillance on American opposition to the war in
Nonetheless, there is a series of interesting matters revealed in these documents, such as the high level at which the decisions for actions against our country were taken.
The technique used today by the CIA to avoid giving any details is not the unpleasant crossed out bits but the blank spaces, coming from the use of computers.
For The New York Times, large censored sections reveal that the CIA still cannot expose all the skeletons in its closets, and many activities developed in operations abroad, checked over years ago by journalists, congressional investigators and a presidential commission, are not in the documents.
Howard Osborn, then CIA Director of Security, makes a summary of the “jewels” compiled by his office. He lists eight cases –including the recruiting of the gangster Johnny Roselli for the coup against Fidel Castro –but they crossed out the document that is in the number 1 place on Osborn’s initial list: two and a half pages.
“The No. 1 Jewel of the CIA Security Offices must be very good, especially since the second one is the list for the program concerning the assassination of Castro by Roselli,” said Thomas Blanton, director of the National Security Archive who requested the declassification of “The Family Jewels” 15 years ago under the Freedom of Information Act.
It is notable that the administration
which has declassified the least information in the history of the
I believe that such an action could be an attempt to present an image of transparency when the government is at an all time low rate of acceptance and popularity, and to show that those methods belong to another era and are no longer in use. When he announced the decision, General Hayden, current CIA Director, said: “The documents offer a look at very different times and at a very different Agency.”
Needless to say that everything described
here is still being done, only in a more brutal manner and all around the
planet, including a growing number of illegal actions within the very
The New York Times wrote that intelligence experts consulted expressed that the revelation of the documents is an attempt to distract attention from recent controversies and scandals plaguing the CIA and an Administration that is living through some of its worst moments of unpopularity.
The declassification could also be an attempt at showing, in the early stages of the electoral process that the Democratic administrations were as bad, or worse, than Mr. Bush’s.
In pages 11 to 15 of the Memo for the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, we can read:
“In August 1960, Mr. Richard M. Bissell approached Colonel Sheffield Edwards with the objective of determining whether the Security Office had agents who could help in a confidential mission that required gangster-style action. The target of the mission was Fidel Castro.
“Given the extreme confidentiality of the mission, the project was known only to a small group of people. The Director of the Central Intelligence Agency was informed and he gave it his approval. Colonel J. C. King, Head of the Western Hemisphere Division, was also informed, but all the details were deliberately concealed from officials of Operation JMWAVE. Even though some officials of Communications (Commo) and the Technical Services Division (TSD) took part in initial planning phases, they were not aware of the mission's purpose.
“Robert A. Maheu was contacted, he was informed in general terms about the project, and he was asked to evaluate whether he could get access to gangster-type elements as a first step for achieving the desired goal.
informed that he had met with a certain Johnny Roselli
on several occasions while he was visiting
“Maheu was asked
to get close to Roselli, who knew that Maheu was a public relations executive looking after
national and foreign accounts, and tell him that recently he had been
contracted by a client who represented several international business
companies, which were suffering enormous financial losses in
“This was presented to Roselli
on September 14,
“During the week of September 25, Maheu was introduced to Sam who was living at the
Fontainebleau Hotel in
“After analyzing the possible methods to carry out this mission, Sam suggested that they not resort to firearms but that, if they could get hold of some kind of deadly pill, something to be put into Castro’s food or drink, this would be a much more effective operation. Sam indicated that he had a possible candidate in the person of Juan Orta, a Cuban official who had been receiving bribery payments in the gambling racket, and who still had access to Castro and was in a financial bind.
“The TSD (Technical Services Division) was requested to produce 6 highly lethal pills.
“Joe delivered the pills to Orta. After several weeks of attempts, Orta appears to have chickened out and he asked to be taken off the mission. He suggested another candidate who made several unsuccessful.”
Everything that was said in the numerous
paragraphs above is in quotes. Observe well, dear readers, the methods that
were already being used by the
I remember that during the early years of the Revolution, in the offices of the National Institute for Agrarian Reform, there was a man working there with me whose name was Orta, who had been linked to the anti-Batista political forces. He was a respectful and serious man. But, it could only be him. The decades have gone by and I see his name once more in the CIA report. I can’t lay my hands on information to immediately prove what happened to him. Accept my apologies if I involuntarily have offended a relative or a descendent, whether the person I have mentioned is guilty or not.
The empire has created a veritable killing machine that is made up not only of the CIA and its methods. Bush has established powerful and expensive intelligence and security super-structures, and he has transformed all the air, sea and land forces into instruments of world power that take war, injustice, hunger and death to any part of the globe, in order to educate its inhabitants in the exercise of democracy and freedom. The American people are gradually waking up to this reality.
“You cannot fool all of the people all of the
Fidel Castro Ruz
June 30, 2007