excerpts from the book

Ultimate Sacrifice

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 JFK died.

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 US assets.

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 Cuba.

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 assassination.

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 editor

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 terrible way.

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 of JFK.

... 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 it myself."

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