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Complete Book: Body of Secrets -- Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret National Security Agency, by James Bamford, Random House, 2002

Joint Chiefs [1962] Willing
to Kill Americans in Bizarre Plot/New Book

by DM, 29 Apr 2002


Excerpts from Body of Secrets, Chapter Four, by James Bamford.

  • Former investigative producer for ABC's World News Tonight with Peter Jennings
  • Author of The Puzzle Palace, (1983)


"[Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Lyman] Lemnitzer was a dangerous -- perhaps even unbalanced -- right-wing extremist in an extraordinarily sensitive position during a critical period. But Operation Northwoods also had the support of every single member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and even senior Pentagon official Paul Nitze argued in favor of provoking a phony war with Cuba. The fact that the most senior members of all the services and the Pentagon could be so out of touch with reality and the meaning of democracy would be hidden for four decades."

"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. Codenamed 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.

"Lemnitzer and the other chiefs knew. . . . They would have to trick the American public and world opinion into hating Cuba so much that they would not only go along, but would insist that he and his generals launch their war against Castro."

`World opinion, and the United Nations Forum,' said a secret JCS document, `should be favorably affected by developing the international image of the Cuban government as rash and irresponsible, and as an alarming and unpredictable threat to the peace of the western hemisphere.'

"Operation Northwoods called for a war in which many patriotic Americans and innocent Cubans would die senseless deaths -- all to satisfy the egos of twisted generals back in Washington, safe in their taxpayer-financed homes and limousines."

"One idea seriously considered involved the launch of John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth. On February 20, 1962, Glenn was to lift off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on his historic journey. The flight was to carry the banner of America's virtues of truth, freedom, and democracy into orbit high over the planet. But lemitzer and his chiefs had a different idea."

`They proposed to [Air Force General] Lansdale [Deputy Director of the Pentagon's office of Special Operations] that, should the rocket explode and kill Glenn, "The objective is to provide irrevocable proof that . . . the fault lies with the communists et al Cuba [sic].'

`This would be accomplished', Lemnitzer continued, `by manufacturing various pieces of evidence which would prove electronic interference on the part of the part of the Cubans.'

"Thus, as NASA prepared to send the first American into space, the Joint Chiefs of Staff were preparing to use John Glenn's possible death as a pretext to launch a war."

"Glenn lifted into space without mishap, leaving Lemnitzer and the Chiefs to begin devising new plans which they suggested be carried out `within the next few months.'"

`We could blow up a U.S. ship in Guantanamo Bay and blame Cuba,' they proposed; `casualty lists in U.S. newspapers would cause a helpful wave of national indignation.'

"AMONG THE MOST ELABORATE SCHEMES was to `create an incident which will demonstrate convincingly that a Cuban aircraft has attacked and shot down a chartered civil airliner enroute from the United States to Jamaica, Guatemala, Panama or Venezuela. The destination would be chosen only to cause the flight plan route to cross Cuba. The passengers could be a group of college students off on a holiday or any grouping of persons with a common interest to support chartering a nonscheduled flight.'"

"In the final sentence of his letter to Secretary [of defense] McNamara recommending the operations, Lemnitzer made a grab for even more power, asking that the Joint Chiefs be placed in charge of carrying out Operation Northwoods and the invasion [of Cuba]. `It is recommended,' Lemnitzer wrote, `that this responsibility for both overt and covert military operations be assigned to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.'"

NOTE: many of the other bizarre plans by General Lemnitzer and his Chiefs can be found in Bamford's book.

In closing:

"The senate Foreign Relations Committee [1961], in a report on the problem of right-wing extremism in the military, warned that there was `considerable danger' in the `education and propaganda activities of military personnel' that had been uncovered. `Running through all of them is a central theme that the primary, if not exclusive, danger to this country is internal communist infiltration,' said the report."

"Among the key targets of the extremists, the Committee said, was the Kennedy administration's domestic social program, which many ultraconservatives accused of being communistic . . . much of the administration's domestic legislative program . . . would be characterized as steps toward communism . . ."

"The chilling Senate study concluded by warning of a revolt by senior military officers such as the one portrayed in [the movie] Seven Days In May. . . . Finally, the Committee specifically pointed to General Lemnitzer and called for an examination of the relationship between him, his chiefs, and the extreme right-wing groups."

"Outwardly, Lemnitzer remained stiff and correct. But deep inside he was raging at the new and youthful Kennedy white house . . . although no one in Congress could have known it at the time, Lemnitzer and the Joint Chiefs had quietly slipped over the edge."

Body of Secrets, by James Bamford

See Also:

  • Operation Northwoods:
    Justification for U.S. Military Intervention in Cuba, 3/13/62
    excerpts from the original 15-page TOP US government document

  • "To outsiders, its initials once stood for No Such Agency. To its employees, they stood for Never Say Anything. Today the US National Security Agency, NSA, is responsible for eavesdropping on the rest of the world - a world where computer systems are measured by the acre - and illegally eavesdropping on innocent citizens in USA." Details of Operation Northwoods - Pentagon's plan to terrorize USA and trigger War.
    Body of Secrets
    by James Banford (2001)
    (is aliased to:

  • Friendly Fire -- Book: U.S. Military Drafted Plans to Terrorize U.S. Cities to Provoke War With Cuba, by David Ruppe
    - U.S. Military drafted plans to to kill innocent people and commit acts of terrorism in U.S. cities to provoke war with Cuba. Operation Northwoods reportedly included the possible assassination of Cuban émigrés, sinking boats of Cuban refugees on the high seas, hijacking planes, blowing up a U.S. ship, US soldiers killing US soldiers, and even orchestrating violent terrorism in U.S. cities."
    May 1, 2001

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