Friday, July 14, 2006

Remember the Maine

On Wednesday, 7/5/2006, Amy Goodman from Democracy Now! reported on U.S. government planning for intervention in Cuba upon the death of Fidel Castro.

In 1962, the Joint Chiefs of Staff presented a summary of Operation Northwoods to Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara. An excerpt from that document appears above. The Chiefs outlined a number of plans to create a pretext for an attack against Cuba, including a “Remember the Maine” scheme. During Cuba’s war for independence from Spain, the U.S. sank one of its own ships, the Maine, in Havana harbor and blamed it on Spain. The public was outraged; the result was the Spanish-American War of 1898. That is how we acquired Puerto Rico and, for a while, the Philippines. In 1962, the U.S. military remembered the Maine and was considering some variations of the scam.

The Chiefs pondered a “Communist Cuban terror campaign” in the U.S. — shooting some people or staging bombings. With spectacular irony, they noted: “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.”

Of course, the military was not the only federal entity developing plans to deceive the American public. The Central Intelligence Agency was thinking along similar lines, and some declassified material on their activities has surfaced. But for now, I want to focus on one item of Operation Northwoods — the downing of a commercial passenger plane and the loss of all aboard.

Witting passengers with fraudulent papers would board a plane. That plane would fly toward Cuban airspace, followed by a drone plane carrying a bomb. The passenger plane would descend below radar range and proceed to a military base in Florida. The drone would transmit a “May Day” message and then explode. Alternatively, a U.S. fighter could be “jumped” by MIGs from Cuba. In either scenario, the Navy could:

In 1959, a Marine radar operator defected to the Soviet Union. After he returned to the United States, he became the sole member of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee in New Orleans and then allegedly killed President John Kennedy. The Marine was killed by a Dallas nightclub owner named Jacob Rubenstein — aka Jack Ruby. In the investigation which followed, Ruby told the Warren Commission about a trip he took to Cuba in 1959, “during our good times:”

Was in harmony with our enemy of the present time. As a matter of fact, the U.S. Government was wanting persons to help them at that particular time when they threw out the dictator. [Fulgencio] Batista. (Warren Commission Volume 5, p. 202)

What? The U.S. government wanted people to help Castro overthrow Batista?

Fulgencio Batista lost the support of his own military and therefore the support of the U.S. intelligence community. The idea — in Washington — was to replace him with a transitional figure who would then be supplanted by another Batista.

Castro’s first offense was the purchase of oil from Russia. When U.S. companies in Cuba refused to refine the oil, Castro nationalized the refineries. This was followed by nationalization of other U.S. businesses, including establishments run by organized crime. President Eisenhower authorized covert operations against Cuba in 1959. Operation Zapata, the invasion at the Bay of Pigs, was supposed to be the “October Surprise” of 1960, vaulting Vice-President Richard Nixon into the White House. But the plans were not completed in time; the invasion was postponed; and Zapata was transformed into an operation to compel military action by the incoming administration. President Kennedy refused overt U.S. military aid to Operation Zapata in 1961. He refused to invade Cuba during the missile crisis of October, 1962; and he was planning withdrawal from Vietnam. Killing Kennedy in 1963 turned out to be far more cost effective than killing Castro.

On the day Kennedy was gunned down, a full-page, black-bordered advertisement appeared in the Dallas Morning News, listing a dozen loaded questions for the President. (Warren Commission Exhibit 1031, Warren Report, p. 294) The last question was this:

Why have you scrapped the Monroe Doctrine in favor of the “Spirit of Moscow”?

Promulgated in 1823, the Monroe Doctrine was a declaration of U.S. regional hegemony. Turning away from that creed, Kennedy opposed interests which had profited from Latin America and plagued Latin America for over a century. Meanwhile, similar circumstances — an illegitimate government, an agriculture-based economy, and drug traffic — existed in other locales of increasing U.S. involvement, Mexico and Vietnam.

Look at the broad picture. After a spate of assassinations in Mexico in 1994, former Mexican President Carlos Salinas (and strong supporter of the Free Trade Agreement) took an extended vacation abroad. His sister-in-law was arrested in Switzerland when she tried to withdraw $80 million from one of her husband’s various numbered accounts under false names. The Swiss had targetted the account for investigation of possible money laundering.

Salinas ended up in Ireland, where he granted an interview to a reporter from The New York Times (1/31/1997). He described a tremendous power struggle in Mexico, and added an amazing personal note. When his wife became pregnant, the couple went to Cuba so their daughter could be

“born in a country of dignified people who love their sovereignty.”

What on earth did he mean by that?! Isn’t Mexico a sovereign nation? Why didn’t he choose to have his daughter born in the United States?

Fidel Castro was born in 1926; he will certainly die one day. The contest for the sovereignty of Cuba has already begun in Havana and Washington, D.C.

Is there anything, anything at all, that we wouldn’t do gain control of Cuba?


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