.In [Joint Chief's chair] Lemnitzer’s view, the country would be far better off if the generals could take over. [JFK assassination legend has it some general presided over the fudgy JFK autopsy. --Mk]
For those military officers who were sitting on the fence, the Kennedy administration’s botched Bay of Pigs invasion was the last straw. “The Bay of Pigs fiasco broke the dike,” said one report at the time. “President Kennedy was pilloried by the super patriots as a ‘no-win’ chief . . . The Far Right became a fount of proposals born of frustration and put forward in the name of anti-Communism. . . Active-duty commanders played host to anti-Communist seminars on their bases and attended or addressed Right-wing meetings elsewhere.”
Although no one in Congress could have known it at the time, Lemnitzer and the Joint Chiefs had quietly slipped over the edge.
According to secret and long-hidden documents obtained for Body of Secrets, the Joint Chiefs of Staff drew up and approved plans for what may be the most corrupt plan ever created by the U.S. government. In the name of antiCommunism, they proposed launching a secret and bloody war of terrorism against their own country in order to trick the American public into supporting an ill-conceived war they intended to launch against Cuba.
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Code named Operation Northwoods, the plan, 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.
The idea may actually have originated with President Eisenhower in the last days of his administration. With the Cold War hotter than ever and the recent U-2 scandal fresh in the public’s memory, the old general wanted to go out with a win. He wanted desperately to invade Cuba in the weeks leading up to Kennedy’s inauguration; indeed, on January 3 he told Lemnitzer and other aides in his Cabinet Room that he would move against Castro before the inauguration if only the Cubans gave him a really good excuse. Then, with time growing short, Eisenhower floated an idea. If Castro failed to provide that excuse, perhaps, he said, the United States “could think of manufacturing something that would be generally acceptable.” What he was suggesting was a pretext a bombing, an attack, an act of sabotage carried out secretly against the United States by the United States. Its purpose would be to justify the launching of a war. It was a dangerous suggestion by a desperate president.
Although no such war took place, the idea was not lost on General Lemnitzer But he and his colleagues were frustrated by Kennedy’s failure to authorize their plan, and angry that Castro had not provided an excuse to invade.
The final straw may have come during a White House meeting on February 26, 1962. Concerned that General Lansdale’s various covert action plans under Operation Mongoose were simply becoming more outrageous and going nowhere, Robert Kennedy told him to drop all anti-Castro efforts. Instead, Lansdale was ordered to concentrate for the next three months strictly on gathering intelligence about Cuba. It was a humiliating defeat for Lansdale, a man more accustomed to praise than to scorn.