Sunday, October 28, 2012

Cuban Coordinating Committee

On April Fools Day, April 1, 1963, the Cuban Coordinating Committee – Covert Operations in Cuba (CCC-COC) met, the subject of an April 3 memo from Gordon Chase of the National Security Council to McGeorge Bundy, the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs. It included a still classified agenda and matters discussed by the Cottrell Committee, which White identifies as “An interdepartmental committee, chaired by Sterling J. Cottrell, in early 1963 to coordinate the administration’s covert and overt Cuban policies.”

Among those in the CCC-COC meeting were Secretary Vance, Joe Califano, Dick Helms, Dez FitzGerald and Bob Hurwitch, who discussed “Balloon Operations Over Havana, a plan that was “well under way,” given favorable winds, that would release balloons containing hundreds of thousands of leaflets designed by the CIA propaganda shop, which “attack Castro’s henchmen and contain cartoons illustrating sabotage techniques.” Another review is scheduled before this is put into operation.

Also on the agenda of this meeting was finding appropriate installations for the “Training of CIA-Sponsored Cuban Exiles on Military Reservations – CIA and the Army,” and “The Russian Language Programs – The Committee decided in favor of instituting three programs (Radio Liberty, Radio Caribe, and an intrusion program…”

In summary, Gordon Chase notes, “In approving the three programs for Special Group considerations, the committee recognized that they will probably be of marginal value only: however, they will cost us very little, financial or otherwise.”

Under agenda item number four, “Sabotage of Cuban Shipping – The Committee…will recommend to the Special Group the incendiaries which would be timed to go off in international waters and the abrasives in the machinery. While the propaganda boost might be nil, they are easier to effect than limpets and could really hurt Castro.”

Then Chase tells McBundy, “The Committee gave the CIA the option of using its own Cubans or of using DRE as a cut-out.”

The DRE are the anti-Castro Cuban Student Revolutionary Directorate, whose members interacted with Oswald before the assassination.

Then the meeting briefly discussed “The Redirection of Cuban Exile Group Operations,” asking themselves the question of “what is an acceptable target?”

In response, “Dick Helms pointed out that although these groups may start out to get a non-Soviet target, once you let them go, you can never really be sure what they will do.”


Bob Hurwitch, the memo mentions, “seemed to favor the approach that attacks and sabotage should appear to come from inside rather than outside Cuba.”

Rather incredulously, Chase concludes, “The Committee came to no decision on this one. More thinking is needed.” Indeed.

On the same April 3rd day Gordon Chase wrote that memo to McBundy, RFK met with his Russian ambassador Dobrynin and reported to the President that, “We exchanged pleasantries. He told me that Norman Cousins had asked to see Khrushchev and he had arranged it…Another point that was made was a sharp and bitter criticism about the raids that had taken place against Russian ships.”

It is noted that, “[3. On March 26, anti-Castro group L-66 sunk the Baku, a Russian vessel, at the Cuban harbor of Caibarien only a week after another Soviet ship had been attacked in a Cuban port.]”

“These were piratical acts and the United States must take responsibility for them. It isn’t possible,” RFK quoted Dobrynin, “to believe that if we really wanted to stop these raids that we could not do so. They were glad to hear of the steps that are being taken lately but in the last analysis the specific acts, namely, the arrests that we made would be the criteria by which they would judge our sincerity. The Soviet Union questions whether in fact we wish to end these attacks for our criticism of them has been not that they were wrong but they were ineffective. The clear implication was that if the raids had been effective they would have had our approval.”

About a week later, on April 9, 1963, Joseph A. Califano, Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Army wrote a memo to his boss, Cyrus R. Vance, which White describes as, “JFK decides which of the covert operations proposed him (See previous docs) would be carried out.”

Under the Subject, “President Action on Special Group Items Concerning Cuba,” Califano checks off the items, beginning with, “1. The President rejected the balloon item on the recommendations of Ed Morrow,” so the project that was “well underway,” was scuttled before it could get off the ground because JFK talked about it with Ed Morrow.

“The President approved the propaganda item (inciting Cubans to harass, attack and sabotage Soviet military personnel in Cuba) provided every precaution is taken to prevent attribution.”

“The President approved the sabotage of cargos on Cuban ships and the crippling of ships (through sand in the gears, etc.); With respect to Russian language broadcasts, the President (a) rejected such broadcasts by exile groups over Radio Caribe in the Domincian Republic, ( rejected black intrusion on the use of such broadcasts on Radio Liberty from North Carolina, pending consultation with Lleweellyn Thompson.”

“We have also agreed with CIA that we would spot about 20 inductees now in training at Fort Jackson whom we consider to have the necessary characteristics for CIA operations inside Cuba. These personnel, along with those given jump training under 5 above, would also be used in advance of the introduction of Special Forces, should there be a decision to invade Cuba.”

Sterling J. Cottrell, the Coordinator of Cuban Affairs to the Special Group, wrote a memo on April 18, 1963, which White says, “reviews current covert actions against Castro and poses the question whether these actions should be intensified.”

Under SUBJECT: “Proposed New Covert Policy and Program Toward Cuba,” Cottrell wrote, “A. The following guidelines are being used in our present covert policy towards Cuba: 1. Producing comprehensive intelligence related to our basic policy objectives….2. Intensifying covert collection of intelligence within Cuba, especially within the regime. 3. Supporting the efforts of certain Cuban exiles, who are associated with the original aims of the 26 of July Movement [1. A reference to the original effort to spark a revolution in Cuba when Castro and his cohorts tried to seize the Moncada military barracks in 1953.] and who believe that the Castro regime can be overthrown from within in order that they may: 1) cause a split in the leadership of the retime… create a political base of opposition…4) The use of a variety of propaganda media to stimulate passive resistance….5) The placing of incendiary devices and/or explosives with suitable time delay within the hull or cargo to disable or sink Cuban vessels and/or damage their cargos while on the high seas…6) Introduce abrasives and other damaging material….”

Cottrell then poses the questions, “1) Should the U.S. move beyond the above policy to a program of sabotage, harassment and resistance activities? 2) What kind of effective action can be taken? 3) What capabilities do we possess? 4) What repercussions can we expect?”

In this memo, Cottrell also says, “Surface attacks by maritime assets firing on Cuban ships in Cuban waters. When the maritime asset cannot reach the target, shore based attacks on shipping in port or passing the offshore keys will be undertaken ….
Considerations: Attack craft from the sea would be manned by Cubans. Shore based attacks by paramilitary trained Cubans firing on ships with recoilless rifles, rocket launchers or 20mm cannon. First sea attack in May and once monthly thereafter. First shore based attack in June. These operations would disrupt coastal commerce. US would probably be blamed. Cuban reprisal measures possible. Soviets likely allege US culpability….Externally mounted hit and run attacks against land targets. Examples: molasses tanker, petroleum storage dumps, naval refueling base, refineries, power plants.”

Under “Considerations,” Cottrell notes, “Operations conducted by Cubans with paramilitary training. High possibilities of complex operations going awry. First attack in April, with one per month thereafter. Effects would be increased exile morale, some economic disruption. Repercussions would include charges of
US sponsorship and increased Cuban security force activities…”

Cottrell includes an attachment on the subject of “A Covert Harassment/Sabotage Program against Cuba,” which states, “This paper presents a covert Harassment/Sabotage program targeted against Cuba: including are those sabotage plans which have previously been approved as well as new proposals…Loses in men and equipment with the attendant adverse publicity must be expected. Even without such loses,
US attribution would be claimed. When policy and guidelines of the overall sabotage program are established, it will be possible progressively to develop up to a limit additional covert assets and support capabilities. However, materially to increase the pace of operations, a period of four to six months is required. Ultimate limiting factors are weather, length of ‘dark of the moon’ period each month and appropriate targets. A source of additional agent personnel is from Cuban personnel trained by the US Military Forces under the recent programs, but released to civilian status….”

That April 29th 1963, RFK and members of the Standing Group of the National Security Council met in Washington at 5pm, but the memo prepared by McGeorge Bundy has yet to be declassified and released, other than its title: “A Sketch o

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