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  • Writer's pictureFred Litwin

The Truth about Operation Northwoods

Updated: Aug 17, 2023



Operation Northwoods was a plan that the Pentagon put together in 1962 to create a pretense to have the United States invade Cuba. It was only revealed in the late 1990s by the ARRB and many conspiracy theorists believes that it proves the Joint Chiefs of Staff were out of control and were trying to get JFK to be more militaristic, at least towards Cuba.


But Operation Northwoods just didn't pop out of thin air. It was part and parcel of Operation Mongoose, a creation of the Kennedy brothers. They wanted to get rid of Castro and his regime and they wanted creative plans from the relevant agencies of the government.


Researchers associated with the Mary Ferrell Foundation do not insist on a “CIA done it” scenario [for the JFK assassination]. Given the fact that the Joint Chiefs of Staff approved Operation Northwoods, the false flag operation to stage a spectacular crime against a U.S. target and lay the blame on Cuba, we think the involvement of cleared military personnel [in the JFK assassination conspiracy] cannot be excluded.
In mid-1963, the Joint Chiefs of Staff approved plans for staging a spectacular violent attack on an American target and using U.S. intelligence operatives to arrange for the blame to fall on Cuba. Not only did the disclosure of Operation Northwoods in 1997 reveal the conspiratorial and anti-democratic mentality that prevailed at the highest levels of the CIA and the Pentagon in November 1963, it also bore a passing resemblance to the events of November 22. Within hours of Kennedy’s murder, CIA’s assets in the AMSPELL network sought to blame the crime on Cuba by linking Oswald to the Fair Play for Cuba Committee.

In fact, the Joint Chiefs of Staff did not "approve" Operation Northwoods. It was submitted to the Secretary of Defense in 1962 for consideration, and it was ultimately rejected. It was part and parcel of Operation Mongoose, led by General Edward Lansdale, to get rid of the Castro regime.


While it is true that "assets in the AMSPELL network" sought to blame the crime on Cuba - it was largely the work of one man, Carlos Bringuier, who hardly needed any CIA guidance to blame Castro. And they didn't link Oswald to the Fair Play for Cuba Committee; he did that all by himself.



So, what was going on? The Kennedy brothers, incensed at the failure of the Bay of Pigs, decided to do whatever they could to get rid of Fidel Castro. They put enormous pressure on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the CIA, and all other relevant agencies to come up with plans to achieve this goal. In testimony before the Church Committee, CIA Director Richard Helms described the pressure:





Robert Kennedy told Helms that a solution to the Cuban problems was "the top priority in the United States government -- all else is secondary -- no time, money, effort or manpower is to be spared." Thus was born Operation Mongoose and General Edward Lansdale was put in charge.


All sorts of ridiculous plans were considered. Here is an excerpt from testimony of Tom Parrott, Secretary of the Special Group Augmented, which included RFK, John McCone, General Maxwell Taylor, and McGeorge Bundy:











Anna Nelson, an historian who served on the ARRB said that "These and other suggestions were passed along to Brigadier General Lansdale, who was in charge of Mongoose. They were far too unrealistic to be taken seriously, but are instructive for what they reveal about the pressure on the military services and others in the Survey Group to come up with new ideas."


The next "nutty scheme," albeit far more serious, was Operation Northwoods. What is important to note, and you can see this in the first paragraph, is that the proposal was a response to a request by Lansdale:

It should also be noted that Operation Northwoods was only needed if "covert efforts to foster an internal Cuban rebellion are unsuccessful:

Paragraph 3 indicates that the Department of State was also working "courses of action to develop US military intervention in Cuba." In addition, other departments were also working on this issue:




Note that paragraph 1 says "The Attorney General opened the meeting by saying that higher authority is concerned about progress on the MONGOOSE program and feels that more priority should be given to trying to mount sabotage operations." That "higher authority" clearly refers to President Kennedy.


The participants in the meeting agreed that "there should be considerably more sabotage," and that "all efforts should be made to develop new and imaginative approaches to the possibility of getting rid of the Castro regime."



RFK: . . . one other thing is whether, uh, we should also think of, uh, uh, whether there is some other way we can get involved in this through, uh, Guantanamo Bay, or something, er, or whether there's some ship that, you know, sink the Maine again or something.


It's interesting that RFK references "the Maine." The USS Maine was a ship that was sunk in Havana in 1898, killing 268 soldiers, which helped start the Spanish American war. Spanish media spread the rumor that this was a false-flag operation -- in other words, the USS Maine was deliberately sunk by the United States to start the war. No evidence has turned up to support that view. Operations Northwoods specifically mentions this incident:







The balloon idea was ultimately dropped by President Kennedy.



The only way to properly understand Operation Northwoods is within the context of Robert and John Kennedy's rabid desire to get rid of Fidel Castro. They wanted imaginative plans, and they wanted them quickly. The military responded as requested.


The extensive literature on the Kennedy era has substantiated the view that the White House (and the Attorney General) prodded and pushed every agency in the executive branch to devise plans and actions for the overthrow of Fidel Castro. Each agency was required to contribute its special expertise: the USIA produced propaganda; the CIA devised clandestine activities; the State Department rallied the members of the Organization of American States and other allies; and the Defense Department designed "contingency plans" for military intervention. But as these documents illustrate, contingency plans were not designed to respond to threats to national security. Instead, these plans also designed the contingencies to be created so that the plans might be implemented.

Operation Mongoose was ended after the Cuban Missile Crisis in late 1962. However, John and Robert Kennedy still wanted to get rid of Castro. But that's for another post.



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