The Truth Is Out There - 1962 memo from National Security Agency - Brief Article
Harper's Magazine, July, 2001 |
The following memorandum was signed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and delivered to Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara on March 13, 1962. The memo recommends that "Operation Northwoods," the code name for the plan it details, be implemented within the "next few months." Portions of the memo were printed in Body of Secrets: Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret National Security Agency, by James Bamford, published this spring by Doubleday.
Regarding the memo from Chief of Operations, subject: "Operation MONGOOSE," which requested brief but precise description of pretexts which would provide justification for U.S. military intervention in Cuba.
This plan would enable a logical buildup of incidents to be combined with other seemingly unrelated events to camouflage the ultimate objective and create the necessary impression of Cuban rashness and irresponsibility on a large scale. The desired result would be to place the United States in the apparent position of suffering defensible grievances from a rash and irresponsible Cuban government and to develop an international image of a Cuban threat to peace in the Western Hemisphere.
1. Since it would seem desirable to use legitimate provocation as the basis for U.S. military intervention in Cuba, a cover and deception plan could be executed as an initial effort to provoke Cuban reactions. Harassment plus deceptive actions to convince the Cubans of imminent invasion would be emphasized.
2. A series of well-coordinated incidents will be planned to take place in and around Guantanamo to give genuine appearance of being done by hostile Cuban forces.
A. Incidents to establish a credible attack (not in chronological order):
(1) Start rumors (many). Use clandestine radio.
(2) Land friendly Cubans in uniform "over the fence" to stage attack on base.
(3) Capture Cuban (friendly) saboteurs inside the base.
(4) Start riots near the base's main gate (friendly Cubans) or in vicinity of Guantanamo City.
(5) Sabotage ship in harbor; large fires--naphthalene.
(6) Sink ship near harbor entrance. Conduct funerals for mock victims.
B. The United States would respond by executing offensive operations to secure water and power supplies, and destroying artillery and mortar emplacements which threaten the base.
C. Commence large-scale U.S. military operations.
3. A "Remember the Maine" incident could be arranged in several forms:
A. We could blow up a U.S. ship in Guantanamo and blame Cuba.
B. We could blow up a drone (unmanned) vessel anywhere in Cuban waters. The United States could follow up with an air/sea rescue operation covered by U.S. fighters to "evacuate" remaining members of the nonexistent crew. Casualty lists in U.S. newspapers would cause a helpful wave of national indignation.
4. We could develop a Communist Cuban terror campaign in the Miami area, in other Florida cities, and even in Washington. The terror campaign could be pointed at Cuban refugees seeking haven in the United States. We could sink a boatload of Cubans en route to Florida (real or simulated). We could foster attempts on lives of Cuban refugees in the United States even to the extent of wounding in instances to be widely publicized. 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.
5. A "Cuban-based, Castro-supported" filibuster could be simulated against a neighboring Caribbean nation. We know that Castro is backing subversive efforts clandestinely against Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, and Nicaragua at present, and possibly others. These efforts can be magnified and additional ones contrived for exposure. "Cuban" B-26- or C-46-type aircraft could make cane-burning raids at night. Soviet Bloc incendiaries could be found. This could be coupled with "Cuban" messages to the Communist underground in the Dominican Republic and "Cuban" shipments of arms which would be found, or intercepted, on the beach.
6. Use of MIG-type aircraft by U.S. pilots could provide additional provocation. Harassment of civil air, attacks on surface shipping, and destruction of U.S. military drone aircraft by MIG-type planes would be useful as complementary actions. A P-86 properly painted would convince air passengers that they saw a Cuban MIG, especially if the pilot of the transport were to announce such a fact. The primary drawback to this suggestion appears to be the security risk inherent in obtaining or modifying an aircraft. However, reasonable copies of the MIG could be produced from U.S. resources in about three months.
7. It is possible to create an incident which will demonstrate convincingly that a Cuban aircraft has attacked and shut down a chartered civil airliner en route from the United States to Jamaica, Guatemala, Panama, or Venezuela. 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 non-scheduled flight.
A. An aircraft at Eglin AFB would be painted and numbered as an exact duplicate of a civil registered aircraft belonging to a CIA proprietary organization in the Miami area. At a designated time the duplicate would be substituted for the actual civil aircraft and would be loaded with the selected passengers, all boarded under carefully prepared aliases. The actual registered aircraft would be converted to a drone.
B. Take-off times of the drone aircraft and the actual will be scheduled to allow a rendezvous south of Florida. From the rendezvous point the passenger-carrying aircraft will descend to minimum altitude and go directly into an auxiliary field at Eglin AFB where arrangements will have been made to evacuate the passengers and return the aircraft to its original status. The drone aircraft meanwhile will continue to fly the flight plan. When over Cuba, the drone will begin transmitting on the international distress frequency a "MAY DAY" message stating he is under attack by Cuban MIG aircraft. The transmission will be interrupted by destruction of the aircraft which will be triggered by radio signal. This will allow ICAO [International Civil Aviation Organization] radio stations in the Western Hemisphere to tell the U.S. what has happened to the aircraft instead of the U.S. trying to "sell" the incident.
COPYRIGHT 2001 Harper's Magazine Foundation