excerpts from the book
John and Robert Kennedy. the Plan
for a Coup in Cuba, and the murder of JFK
by Lamar Waldron with Thom Hartmann
Counterpoint Press, 2005, paperback
John F. Kennedy had a secret plan for Cuba in the fall of 1963
- nearing a critical juncture on November 22 - that would play
a key role in his death, and be a major reason so much would be
covered up for so long.
JFK's top-secret plan [was] to overthrow Castro an invade Cuba
on December 1, 1963. "The Plan for a Coup in Cuba" (as
it was titled in a memo for the Joint Chiefs of Staff) would include
a "palace coup" to eliminate Castro, allowing a new
Cuban "Provisional Government" to step into the power
vacuum. The coup would be supported by a "full-scale invasion"
of Cuba by the US military, if necessary.
In 1963, Juan Almeida was the powerful Commander of the Cuban
Army, one of the most famous heroes of the Revolution-and he was
going to lead JFK's "palace coup" against Fidel. Commander
Almeida had been in direct contact with john and Robert Kennedy's
top Cuban exile aide since May of 1963, and both men would be
part of Cuba's new, post-coup Provisional Government. By the morning
of November 22, 1963, Almeida had even received a large cash payment
authorized by the Kennedys, and the CIA had placed his family
under US protection in a foreign country
The "Plan for a Coup in Cuba"
was fully authorized by JFK and personally run by Robert Kennedy
Only about a dozen people in the US government knew the full scope
of the plan, all of whom worked for the military or the CIA, or
reported directly to Robert. The Kennedys' plan was prepared primarily
by the US military, with the CIA playing a major supporting role.
Input was also obtained from key officials in a few other agencies,
but most of those who worked on the plan knew only about carefully
compartmentalized aspects, believing it to be a theoretical exercise
in case a Cuban official volunteered to depose Fidel.
The CIA's code name for their part of
the coup plan has never surfaced in any book, article, or government
report. Officially declassified in 1999, AMWORLD is the cryptonym
the CIA used for the plan in their top-secret, internal documents
Like the rest of the Kennedy coup plan, AMWORLD was withheld from
Congress-including at least five Congressional investigations
-for decades. Congress was fully informed about AMWORLD only on
March 14, 2006, when Rep. Christopher Shays's National Security
subcommittee accepted for the record a six-page report from us
detailing AMWORLD and JFK's coup plan.
Not only is JFK's coup plan/AMWORLD different
from any previously disclosed US operation to eliminate Castro,
it was far more advanced. As head of the Cuban Army, Commander
Almeida controlled thousands of troops and was far more powerful
than any other Cuban official the CIA had managed to enlist. The
CIA had only recruited a disgruntled mid-level official named
Rolando Cubela (codenamed AMLASH), while the CIA's AMTRUNK program
tried without much success to recruit from the ranks of the Cuban
military. Those plans were still in their early stages and having
little success-unlike the Kennedy's coup plan, which was beginning
the ten-day countdown to its December 1, 1963 coup on the day
The Kennedys coup plan/AMWORLD was undoubtedly one of the most
secret covert operations in United States history. In its secrecy,
however, lay tragedy. Even though the Kennedys' coup plan never
came to fruition, three powerful Mafia dons-Carlos Marcello, Santo
Trafficante, and Johnny Rosselli - learned of AMWORLD though their
work for the CIA in other antiCastro plots. The Mafia bosses realized
that high government officials would go to any lengths to avoid
revealing it to the public. With that knowledge, the three mob
bosses were able to assassinate JFK in a way that forced the truth
to be buried for over forty years.
They did so by infiltrating key parts
of AMWORLD, even though the Kennedys had barred the Mafia from
any involvement in the coup plan or in post-coup Cuba (where the
Mafia would not be allowed to reopen their casinos). The Mafia
chiefs linked aspects of JFK's death to AMWORLD, while planting
evidence to make it appear as if Castro had been behind the assassination.
They knew this would prevent a full investigation of JFK'S murder-in
order to protect the coup plan-and might even prompt a US invasion
of Cuba. But their main goal was the death of JFK, so they had
to act before December 1, 1963 in order to use the extreme secrecy
surrounding the coup to shield their actions.
Marcello, Trafficante, and Rosselli undertook
this extraordinary act of vengeance in order to halt the Kennedy
administration's unrelenting prosecution of them and their allies.
The Kennedy Justice Department had vigorously pursued Marcello,
even subjecting him to a brief, nightmarish deportation. Once
he returned, Marcello hated the Kennedy brothers with a deep and
vengeful passion. The two other Mafia bosses suffered similar
pursuit, and eventually Marcello, Trafficante, and Rosselli decided
their only way to avoid prison or deportation was to kill JFK...
the crime bosses arranged the assassination so that any thorough
investigation would expose the Kennedys' coup plan. They were
confident that any such exposure could push America to the brink
of war with Cuba and the Soviet Union, meaning that they could
assassinate JFK with relative impunity.
JFK's top secret coup plan-and Almeida's role in it-was responsible
f much of the secrecy surrounding JFK'S assassination in the ensuing
decades. However, withholding information about JFK'S coup plan
from the Warren Commission and Congress also allowed various agencies
to hide their own intelligence failures which had allowed JFK
to be assassinated. This includes the likely involvement in the
assassination of at least two CIA employees and the definite involvement
of three acknowledged CIA assets. Two of the CIA men later confessed
to associates, and all five have documented ties to Mafia bosses
Santo Trafficante and Johnny Rosselli-whom the CIA also admits
were CIA assets.
None of the seven governmental committees
that investigated aspects of JFK'S assassination, including the
Warren Commission, were officially told about the Kennedy's coup
plan. However, over the decades, each successive committee came
increasingly close to discovering both the plan and the associates
of Marcello who assassinated JFK.
One reason the US hasn't normalized relations with Cuba - as it
has with other former enemies like Vietnam and China - is that
Cabinet officials in several administrations have felt that Castro
was behind JFK'S assassination... However, because of all the
secrecy surrounding the coup plan, those officials never realized
that the evidence pointing to Castro had originated with associates
of Marcello, Trafficante, and Rosselli.
... the three Mafia bosses infiltrated
JFK'S top secret coup plan, and used parts of it to assassinate
JFK in a way that forced key officials-including Robert Kennedy
- to cover up crucial information to protect Almeida and other
In the spring of 1963, John and Robert Kennedy started laying
the groundwork for a coup against Fidel Castro that would eventually
be set for December 1, 1963.
Robert Kennedy put the invasion under
the control of the US military because of the CIA's handling of
1961's Bay of Pigs disaster. The "Plan for a Coup in Cuba,"
as written by JFK's Secretary of the Army Cyrus Vance with the
help of the State Department and the CIA, called for the coup
leader to "neutralize" Cuban leader "Fidel Castro
and ... [his brother Raul" in a "palace coup."
Then, the coup leader would "declare martial law" and
"proclaim a Provisional Government" that would include
previously "selected Cuban exile leaders" who would
enter from their bases in Latin America. Then, at the invitation
of the new government, after "publicly announcing US intent
to support the Provisional Government, the US would initiate overt
logistical and air support to the insurgents" including destroying
"those air defenses which might endanger the air movement
of US troops into the area." After the "initial air
attacks" would come "the rapid, incremental introduction
of balanced forces, to include full-scale invasion" if necessary.
The first US military forces into Cuba would be a multiracial
group of "US military-trained free Cubans," all veterans
of the Bay of Pigs. Upon presidential authorization, the US would
"recognize the Provisional Government... warn the Soviets
not to intervene" and "assist the Provisional Government
in preparing for ... free elections."
This "palace coup" would be
led by Commander Juan Almeida, the leader of the Cuban Army and
one of the most powerful men in Cuba after Fidel and his brother,
Raul Castro. As the plan was described to us by the Kennedys'
closest Cuban exile aide-Enrique "Harry" Ruiz-Williams.
Almeida would cause Castro's death, but without taking the credit
or blame for doing so. During the coup, Almeida would ask for
help from US forces to help maintain order and prevent a Soviet
takeover. Almeida's high position would allow him to know the
exact placement of the thousands of Russians still in Cuba. After
the coup, Almeida would be part of the new Provisional Government
in Cuba, along with a select group of Cuban exiles-approved the
Kennedys - who ranged from conservative to progressive.
The overall "Plan for a coup in Cuba"/AMWORLD was under
the personal control of Attorney General Robert Kennedy
... we will begin referring to the Kennedys'
actual coup plan with Almeida in 1963 as "C-Day."
The Kennedys did not see C-Day as an assassination operation,
but rather as an effort to help Cubans overthrow a Cuban dictator.
A June 1963 CIA memo from one of Robert Kennedy's Cuban subcommittees
of the National Security Council explains the Kennedy policy as
"Cubans inside Cuba and outside Cuba, working" together
to free their own country. Nor was C-Day an attempt to install
another US-backed dictator in Cuba, like the corrupt Batista regime
that had been overthrown by Castro and many others on January
1, 1959. The Kennedys' goal in 1963 was a free and democratic
While such tightly compartmentalized secrecy kept C-Day from becoming
widely known within the government and protected C-Day from public
exposure, it also contributed to JFK's death. In 1963, the public
would have been shocked to learn that two months before JFK was
shot in Dallas, US officials under the direction of Robert Kennedy
began making contingency plans to deal with the "assassination
of American officials." In the event of an assassination
(expected to happen only outside the US), these contingency plans
would have mandated certain security measures-and such principles
would be responsible for much of the secrecy surrounding the JFK
Robert Kennedy and the others making the
contingency plans were concerned only about possible retaliation
by Castro for C-Day. They failed to consider the threat from others
the Attorney General had targeted, especially Mafia bosses Carlos
Marcello, Santo Trafficante, and Johnny Rosselli. The Kennedys
and their key aides had gone to great lengths to keep the Mafia
out of C-Day The CIA's earlier efforts with the Mafia to assassinate
Castro which began in 1959 under Vice President Richard Nixon-had
complicated the Kennedys' intense prosecution of the Mafia. Without
telling the Kennedys, the CIA was continuing to work with the
Mafia on plots against Castro in the fall of 1963, which helped
associates of Marcello, Trafficante, and Rosselli infiltrate the
plans for C-Day.
Evan Thomas author of a biography of Robert Kennedy and a Newsweek
Robert Kennedy had a fear that he had
somehow gotten his own brother killed" and that his "attempts
to prosecute the mob and to kill Castro had backfired in some
JFK's death threw the whole US government into turmoil, but the
intelligence agencies were especially frantic: Their numerous
and extensive anti-Castro plots were so secret that they needed
to be kept not only from the Congress and the public, but also
from the Warren Commission.
Although many Warren Commission findings
were discredited by later government investigators, Evan Thomas
recently told ABC News that the commission achieved its real purpose.
He said that after JFK's assassination, "the most important
thing the United States government wanted to do was reassure the
public that there was not some plot, not some Russian attack,
not some Cuban attack." As a result, Thomas concluded, "the
number one goal throughout the upper levels of the government
was to calm that fear, and ring a sense of reassurance that this
really was the work of a lone gunman." President Lyndon Johnson
and the Warren Commission were also under tremendous time pressure:
With Johnson facing an election in less than a year, the Commission
had to assemble a staff, review and take testimony, and then issue
their final report just ten months after JFK's death. "There
was a coverup," Evan Thomas confirmed to ABC News, explaining
that in the Warren Commission's "haste to reassure everybody,
they created an environment that was sure to come around and bite
them." He emphasized that Earl Warren, Lyndon B. Johnson,
J. Edgar Hoover, and others were not covering up a plot to kill
JFK, as some have speculated. Instead, they covered up "for
their own internal bureaucratic reasons-because Hoover wanted
to keep his job, and because Bobby Kennedy didn't want to be embarrassed,
or the CIA didn't want to have the public know they were trying
to kill somebody," like Fidel Castro.
Since Robert Kennedy knew more about C-Day than anyone else, his
death in 1968 helped to ensure that C-Day stayed secret from all
later government investigations into the assassination. The anti-Castro
operations of the 1960s that were hidden from the Warren Commission
only started to be uncovered by the investigations spawned by
Watergate in the 1970s: the Senate Watergate Committee (which
took secret testimony from Johnny Rosselli), the Rockefeller Commission,
the Pike Committee, and the Church Committee. More details about
those CIA plots were uncovered by the House Select Committee on
Assassinations in the late 1970s, though many of their discoveries
weren't declassified until the late 1990s by the Assassination
Records Review Board (ARRB). C-Day, far more sensitive and secret
than any of those anti-Castro plots, was never officially disclosed
to any of those seven government committees.
The military nature of C-Day also helps
to explain why it has escaped the efforts of historians and Congressional
investigators for forty years. The C-Day coup plan approved by
joint Chiefs Chairman General Maxwell Taylor was understandably
classified TOP SECRET when it was created in 1963. But twenty-six
years later, the joint Chiefs reviewed the coup plan documents
and decided that they should still remain TOP SECRET. The documents
might have remained officially secret for additional decades,
or forever, if not for the JFK Assassination Records Review Board,
created by Congress in the wake of the furor surrounding the film
JFK. After efforts by the authors and others, the Review Board
finally located and declassified some of the C-Day files just
a few years ago. However, someone who worked with the Review Board
confirmed to a highly respected Congressional watchdog group,
OMB Watch, that "well over one million CIA records"
related to JFK's assassination have not yet been released.
In 1964, while Bobby Kennedy was still Attorney General, he had
his hands full trying to prosecute Hoffa and Marcello for various
crimes, while keeping any possible role they had had in JFK's
death from tainting those prosecutions.
... Bobby's prosecutors ... had some success
against Hoffa. But they had no success against Carlos Marcello,
who was acquitted on every charge Bobby attempted.
Starting in late 1966, the roles of Marcello and others in JFK's
assassination were almost uncovered by investigations on several
occasions. However, each time national security concerns related
to C-Day kept crucial facts from emerging. In addition, the timely
deaths (often by suicide or murder) of key
witnesses prevented government investigators from getting closer
to the truth.
Carlos Marcello increasingly became the focus of unwanted attention
in 1967 and the first half of 1968. Recently-released FBI files
show that in the late Spring of 1967, New Orleans District Attorney
Jim Garrison briefly considered indicting Marcello for the assassination
... Early in 1968, Senator Robert Kennedy
began offering behind-the-scenes help to journalist Michael Dorman
for an article about Carlos Marcello.
... Marcello and Rosselli had to worry
about the prospect of Bobby Kennedy being elected president in
1968. As president, Bobby would have the resources to finally
conduct a thorough, secret investigation of JFK's death without
endangering Almeida or other C-Day participants.
... Bobby Kennedy was assassinated at
the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles on June 4, 1968, and many
of the details of C-Day died with him. His convicted assailant
[was] Sirhan Bishera Sirhan...
... Many years later, Bobby Kennedy's
friend and biographer Jack Newfield wrote that a very close relative
of Carlos Marcello told a government informant "we took care
of 'em (the Kennedys), didn't we?"
After being tipped off by jimmy Hoffa, the Senate Watergate Committee
in a secret session interviewed Johnny Rosselli about the CIA-Mafia
plots against Castro. The Watergate Committee wasn't told about
C-Day, though staff member Fred Thompson (later a senator) and
a young Hillary Clinton (part of a small group looking into JFK's
actions) may have came close to uncovering the revelations and
leaks about assassinations coming out of the Watergate Committee
spurred President Gerald Ford to create the Rockefeller Commission.
Controversies arising out of the Rockefeller Commission investigation
led Congress to create its own panels, the Pike Committee and
the far better-known Church Committee, to investigate CIA operations,
domestic surveillance, and assassination plots.
In the case of each of those Committees,
all the files about AMWORLD-even its name and the fact that it
existed-were withheld from Congress. That was ostensibly to protect
Almeida, still a very high official in Cuba, from being exposed
as a US asset. However, it also prevented Congress and the American
people from learning about the Mafia's infiltration of C-Day,
and how Trafficante, Rosselli, and Marcello used it in their assassination
of JFK. It also prevented the exposure of intelligence failures
by agencies like the CIA and potentially embarrassing revelations
about officials of both parties. For example, while crucial information
was being withheld from the Church Committee, former Warren Commission
member Gerald Ford was President, his Chief of Staff was Donald
Rumsfeld, his senior White House adviser Dick Cheney, and his
CIA Director was George H. W Bush. All four men had been part
of the Nixon Administration during the Watergate scandal, which
had involved numerous veterans of C-Day, including some linked
to the Mafia. Of course, Marcello, Trafficante, and Rosselli had
the most to fear if their roles in JFK'S assassination were exposed
by the Congressional investigations.
On June 13, 1975, Richard Helms testified
to the Church Committee in closed session about CIA assassination
plots, including those with the Mafia. Former Chicago mob boss
Sam Giancana was slated to testify, but on June 19, Giancana was
murdered at his home in Chicago. The gun used in the slaying was
later traced to Florida, and this began a series of slayings related
to the JFK assassination, most of which were either linked to
Trafficante or occurred in his home state of Florida. On July
30, 1975, Jimmy Hoffa disappeared before he could be called to
testify. Trafficante made it clear to his attorney Frank Ragano
that he knew what had happened.
In the summer of 1975, john Martino died
in Miami, apparently of natural causes, two months after confessing
his role in the assassination to a friend. On October 31, 1975,
Rolando Masferrer was killed in Miami when a bomb in his car exploded.
In June 1976, former CIA official William Harvey died of apparently
natural causes. In July of 1976 Johnny Rosselli disappeared in
Florida, a short time after he had met with Trafficante. His body
was discovered-dismembered and floating in an oil drum-several
days later. In response to the resulting publicity, and other
events, the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) was
established. Church Committee investigator Gaeton Fonzi went to
work for the HSCA, and he planned to interview Oswald's friend
and CIA asset, George De Mohrenschildt, while other investigators
tried to contact Chicago hit man Charles Nicoletti. On March 29,
1977, Fonzi was in south Florida to interview De Mohrenschildt-but
that day De Mohrenschildt committed suicide by shooting himself
before Fonzi could see him. The same day, in Chicago, Charles
Nicoletti was shot three times in the back of the head. Seven
days later, Carlos Prio committed suicide in Miami, just one week
before Fonzi was to talk to him about an interview. By November
1977, Fonzi had spoken briefly with Manuel Artime, who agreed
to a formal interview. But Artime suddenly became ill and died
that month. In early May 1978, David Morales was told he would
have to speak with Congressional investigators. He died of apparently
natural causes on May 8, 1978.
In 1979, the US government had targeted Marcello with a wired
informant, finally resulting in a successful prosecution. Marcello
spent most of the 1980s in prison, and, while incarcerated, his
comments to others about the JFK assassination were eventually
reported to the FBI. An FBI report says that "on December
15, 1985 ... Carlos Marcello discussed his intense dislike of
former President John Kennedy as he often did. Unlike other such
tirades against Kennedy, however, on this occasion Carlos Marcello
said, referring to President Kennedy, 'Yeah, I had the son of
a bitch killed. I'm glad I did it. I'm sorry I couldn't have done