The logic of Northwoods was the stripe of Gladio. The general staff inclined towards prefabricated violence because they believed benefits gained by the state count more than injustice against individuals.
This is part 4 to a five-part series. [Refer here for Part 1 and Part 2, the latter which goes over how the Ukrainian Nationalist Movement Post WWII was Bought and Paid for by the CIA. Part 3 is essential reading prior to this paper, which discusses key elements of NATO’s Operation Gladio.]
Operation Underworld & the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI)
Charles “Lucky” Luciano (1897-1962) was the most powerful and successful gangster in American history. He is considered the father of modern organized crime in the United States for having established The Commission in 1931. In 1936 Luciano was convicted for compulsory prostitution and running a prostitution racket. He was sentenced to 30 to 50 years in prison, but during WWII, the U.S. Navy Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) made him an offer.
Luciano was promised eventual liberty in return for delivering the southern Italian Mafia as the fifth column backing the Allied cause against Mussolini. This would be the seed that would generate the powerful Mafia families of southern Italy, assigned by the United States to act as praetorian guards within the stay-behind armies.
Meyer Lansky, head of the Jewish mob, became the liaison between Luciano and ONI and Operation Underworld was born. Luciano ordered his men to obey Lansky who became essentially the head of a large portion of the Italian-American Mafia.
Thomas Dewey (then Governor of New York), although responsible for putting Luciano in prison, pardoned him in 1946 due to his service towards the Allied cause and Luciano was deported to Italy along with some of his lieutenants, however, not before he met with agents of the OSS (Office of Strategic Services).
In June 1973, Le Monde spelled out the American side of the intelligence-Mafia connection:
“Instructed by his [Luciano’s] own experience of collaboration with the American intelligence services, Lucky Luciano used to recommend to his honorable correspondents scattered from Beirut to Tangiers, via Ankara and Marseilles, to operate as he had done. It was in this way that drug dealers and couriers served as informants to [the British] MI5, to [the American] CIA, to [the French] SDECE, to the [West German] Gehlen organization, even to the Italian SIFFAR.” (1)
This special relationship between the Mafia and these intelligence agencies would go strong for several decades and has lasted to this day.
Meyer Lansky’s Cuban Empire
Meyer Lansky (1902-1983) together with Lucky Luciano created the National Crime Syndicate, known simply as ‘the Syndicate’ for short. Lansky was the Syndicate’s financial wizard and its chairman from around 1947.
In the early fifties, he began building his Cuban Empire, headquartered in Havana. Lansky literally governed Cuba over the head of the dictator Fulgencio Batista. When free elections chased his close friend and Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista from office in 1944, Lansky also left Cuba, entrusting his empire to the Trafficante family headed by Santo Sr. (Santo Trafficante became the heir to the Luciano network in Cuba).
Lansky and Batista settled in Hollywood, Florida, just north of Miami. Before long, Lansky was running an illegal casino empire on the east coast and expanded the narcotics trade founded by Lucky Luciano. The older Mafia dons deemed the narcotics trade taboo, so Lansky’s wing of the Syndicate cornered the market with Trafficante’s eldest son Santo Jr., overseeing heroin traffic. When Santo Sr. died in 1954, Santo Jr. Trafficante became Lansky’s right-hand man and manager of his Cuban interests.
When Lansky’s illegal casinos in Florida were shutdown in 1950, Lansky promoted Batista’s return to power in Cuba. And thus, likely not coincidentally, Fulgencio Batista who served as the elected president of Cuba from 1940-1944, returned to Cuba as a U.S. backed military dictator from 1952-1959, until he was overthrown by the Cuban Revolution led by Fidel Castro.
With Castro at the helm of Cuba, Lansky and Trafficante were in trouble, they had been given a clear message by Castro that they were no longer welcome in the Cuban kingdom. Along with Lansky and Trafficante, half a million Cubans left the island in the years following, and a quarter of a million made their new home in Florida, the site of Trafficante’s new headquarters.
After having been driven out of Cuba and his casinos shutdown in Florida, Lansky created a similar gambling paradise in Nassau, Bahamas.
Besides the gambling take, the greater part of the incredible bonanza from U.S. narcotics deals, the Corsicans share included, was laundered via Lansky’s Miami National Bank, to Nassau and to numbered accounts in Switzerland and Lebanon. (2)
Lansky would eventually become the world’s uncrowned narcotics king. His decisions affected everyone, including the bigwigs in France and Italy. Lansky’s connections ran through Las Vegas, Rome, Marseilles, Beirut and Geneva.
Miami as the New Center for Internacional Fascista
Early in 1980, Alan Pringle, head of the DEA’s Miami office, told an Associate Press reporter that Miami banks constitute “the Wall Street” of the drug dealers. (3)
It was Henrik Kruger who first exposed this in 1980 with his superbly researched book “The Great Heroin Coup: Drugs, Intelligence & International Fascism,” where Miami was revealed to be the new center for this international fascism as a consequence of the “great heroin coup.”
It is beyond the scope of this essay to go through this in detail, however, the important points demonstrated by Kruger are that the Corsican mafia (with Turkey and Lebanon as raw producers) were replaced as the main producers and dealers of high-grade heroin by the Sicilian mafia – along with Southeast Asia and South America. This transition was supported and enforced by the CIA who controlled the DEA. Nixon’s “War on Drugs” did shutdown certain producers and channels of heroin, but it was ultimately designed to open up new producers and channels that would be under a tighter American control. Just like in Vietnam, the French would be pushed out of any authority by the Americans and they were to be from now on subservient to this new king of the jungle.
Lansky’s Syndicate was instrumental in guiding this transition safely into the hands the CIA and its allied intelligence agencies, largely affiliated with NATO’s Operation Gladio. Miami became a center of operation for not just Meyer Lansky but for the CIA as well in all-things-heroin and in time Cuba.
Henrik Kruger writes:
“Internacional Fascista is the outgrowth of many years of planning in Madrid by the late Nazi, Otto Skorzeny, who in the fifties had worked for the CIA. On its rolls are former SS agents, OAS terrorists, hatchet men for Portugal’s dreaded secret police (PIDE), terrorists from Spain’s Fuerza Nueva, Argentine and Italian Fascists, Cuban exiles, French gangsters from SAC, and former CIA agents hardened by terror campaigns in [the CIA’s] Operation 40, Guatemala, Brazil and Argentina.
Besides CORU, Internacional Fascista’s militants have at various times numbered the Army for the Liberation of Portugal (ELP) and its Aginter Press contingent under Yves Guerin-Serac, the Italian Ordine Nuovo led by Salvatore Francia, and Pierluigi Concutelli; Spain’s Guerillas of Christ the King, Associacion Anticommunista Iberica and Alianza Anticommunista Apostolica (AAA) which is not to be confused with the Argentine AAA that is also represented in Internacional Fascista and the Paladin group.”
[Note: CORU was a Cuban exile umbrella organization; Coordinacion de Organisaciones Revolucionarias Unidas. CORU’s headquarters were in Miami.]
The significance of Miami in the netherworld of international fascism remains one of America’s better kept secrets. Its tendrils stretched across the Atlantic to the Aginter operation, originally in Lisbon, and Skorzeny quietly sitting in Madrid at the centre of his arms smuggling web. To Kruger, the Miami-Lisbon-Madrid-Rome axis was the logical continuation of the CIA’s record in forging alliances with high Nazi officials.
The neo-fascist Paladin Group as well as the Spanish intelligene agency, La Dirección General de Seguridad (DGS) were both run by the Nazi war criminal Colonel Otto Skorzeny.
Miami was an international junction and all-purpose clearing house for the CIA’s hugely lucrative narcotics rackets and much else besides, including international terrorism or as Kruger put it “the merger of European and American fascism was toasted in Miami.”
Miami CIA station JM/WAVE, was a major U.S. covert operations and intelligence gathering station which operated from 1961 to 1968. It sponsored a series of hit-and-run attacks on strategic Cuban targets and involved greater manpower and expenditures than the Bay of Pigs itself. Some 300 agents and 4600 Cuban exiles operatives took part in the actions of JM/Wave.
Kruger writes: “As later revealed, one of its last operations was closed down because one of its aircraft was caught smuggling narcotics into the United States…In the JM/Wave period a great expansion in China [Kuomintang] Lobby-Trafficante-Cuban exile-CIA connections occurred.”
“With the start of its secret war, the new station became the agency’s largest and the command post for its anti-Castro operations worldwide. Its annual budget of $50-100 million financed the activities of 300 permanent employees, most of them case officers who controlled an additional several thousand Cuban exile operatives. Each major CIA station had at least one case officer assigned to Cuban operations who ultimately reported to Miami. In Europe all Cuban matters were routed through the Frankfurt station [in Germany], which in turn reported to JM/Wave.
…In 1963 the agency masterminded a revolution in Honduras, another in the Dominican Republic, and a third in Guatemala. In 1964 it assisted in General Branco’s military coup in Brazil. In 1965 the Special Forces joined U.S. Marines in suppressing civil war in the Dominican Republic, and in 1966 the CIA aided and abetted Colonel Ongania’s military coup in Argentina.
… In that same period, Cuban exile activist organizations sprouted all over Miami’s Little Havana. They spawned, in turn, terrorist subgroups like Alfa 66 and Omega 7, whose more notorious leaders…had been trained by the CIA…
…When JM/Wave was dismantled, Shackley and his staff left Miami for Laos, leaving behind a highly trained army of 6000 fanatically anti-Communist Cubans allied to organized crime and powerful elements of the U.S. far Right…” [emphasis added]
JM/Wave covered anything and everything Cuban, wherever in the world it might be. CIA maintained its largest station JM/WAVE and operated a bustling network of paramilitary training bases as well as safe houses.
- Howard Hunt and Bill Harvey both worked for JM/Wave who will we come to know shortly.
Miami Cubans joined Aginter Press terrorists in Guatemala. One hundred Florida-based Cubans joined the Aginter Press-ELP fascist army in Spain, where they became involved in acts of terrorism. [Note: Aginter Press is the training and distribution base for the French fascist paramilitary of the OAS who largely worked for NATO’s Gladio, see Part 3.]
At this point, we should be seeing a picture that has painted NATO/CIA/Italian-American Mafia/Cuban exiles/and fascists including Nazis all working for the same apparatus and essentially the same goal: to overthrow democratically elected leaders and replace them with dictators and fascist right-wing governments. The profits of the narcotics trade are used in turn to fund right-wing terrorist activity globally, using the model of Gladio. The “great heroin coup” that Henrik Kruger exposed was about having complete control over the profits of heroin for this very purpose.
Nixon’s White House Plumbers and “The War on Drugs”
The history of Nixon’s involvement in Watergate is intertwined with that of his personal involvement with drug enforcement. Nixon’s public declaration in June 1971 of his war on heroin promptly led to his assemblage of the White House Plumbers, Cuban exiles and even “hit squads” with the avowed purpose of combating the international narcotics traffic.
“On 17 July 1972 James McCord, Frank Sturgis, Bernard Barker, Eugenio Rolando Martinez, and Virgilio Gonzalez, led by [E. Howard] Hunt and [G. Gordon] Liddy, broke into the Democrats’ Watergate offices in Washington. Of these seven men, four were from Miami, four were active or former agents of the CIA, four had been involved in the Bay of Pigs invasion, and three were closely linked to the Cuban narcotics Mafia.”
[Note: Frank Sturgis (original name Frank Fiorini) was one of Trafficante’s CIA contacts. In the late 1960s, Sturgis ran the Miami-based International Anti-Communist Brigade (IACB), said to be financed by Meyer Lansky’s Syndicate. (4)]
E. Howard Hunt’s credentials go as far back as WWII, stationed in Kunming South China in the province of Yunnan while working for the OSS. The OSS was backing Chiang Kai-shek and his Kuomintang (KMT) army, who were supposedly fighting the fascist Japanese while also fighting a civil war with the Chinese communists under Mao Zedong.
Yunnan under Chiang Kai-shek (along with a faction of the OSS’s overseeing), became the center of Chinese opium cultivation and Kunming the hotbed of military operations, including Claire Chennault’s 14th Air Force and Detachment 202 of the OSS (the predecessor of the CIA). [More on KMT’s alliance with the CIA et al. in the global heroin traffic in an upcoming paper.]
This is where Hunt met Lucien Conein, Captain of the French Foreign Legionnaire-turned OSS agent.
“E. Howard Hunt was clearly the China/Cuba/Latin America lobby’s man. That he is also tied to WACL is suggested by the fact that William F. Buckley, Hunt’s close friend for twenty years and the godfather to his children, was one of the WACL’s top U.S. supporters. Also connected to the same lobby groups are Lucien Conein and the State Department’s former intelligence chief, Ray S. Cline, who continues to be a frequent guest at the Taiwan WACL stronghold.”
Hunt and Conein were the vital forces behind the White House’s great heroin coup. Hunt secured the Cuban exiles their necessary footing…”
To be clear here, what Kruger is referencing as the China/Cuba/Latin America Lobby is not in reference to their communist leaders but rather their fascist leaders; Chiang Kai-shek, Batista, and the Latin American fascist dictators.
Indochina remained Conein’s base of operation after WWII, when like Hunt he slid over from the OSS to its successor the CIA. He then operated throughout South and North Vietnam, Cambodia, and Burma and became the top U.S. expert on the area as well as on the opium smuggling Corsican Mafia.
Peter Dale Scott wrote in his foreword to Kruger’s “The Great Heroin Coup”:
“But some of the old China hands with network connections began moving to the new DEA. As we have seen, Hunt secured a post for his old OSS-Kunming friend Lucien Conein in what eventually became DEA, and Conein in turn recruited his own band of CIA Cubans in Deacon I, at least one of whom, according to CIA reports, has already taken part in a death squad operation.
…a number of recent revelations…link those in the Aginter-CORU connection to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. At least three Cubans prominent in the Letelier case have also been revealed, by the recent publications of the House Select Committee on Assassinations, to have been allied in a 1963 Cuban exile junta which, the Committee reported, warranted a ‘thorough investigation’ in the Kennedy assassination case. Lee Harvey Oswald’s activities in New Orleans brought him into contact with an anti-Castro group financially backed by this junta, and to Americans with links to the future Aginter community and possibly the OAS. And on 23 November 1963, Jean Rene Souetre, an OAS terrorist and future Aginter operative, was, according to recently declassified CIA reports, allegedly ‘expelled from the United States at Fort Worth or Dallas 18 hours after the [Kennedy] assassination.’” [emphasis added]
“When Lucien Conein became the head of the DEA’s Special Operations Branch he allegedly carried out an assassination program after setting up the DEA’s Special Operations Group (DEASOG), under cover of the BR Fox Company and house on Connecticut Avenue in Washington. DEASOG’s twelve members – the Dirty Dozen – were hard nosed and experienced Latino CIA agents transferred over to the drug agency for the occasion. Prior to DEASOG, Conein had set up another DEA ‘intelligence’ operation, Deacon I, employing Cuban exile veterans of CIA training camps, who were supervised by thirty other Cubans, all formerly of the CIA’s Clandestine Services… The emergence of the DEA was the next to last phase of the heroin coup. Hunt and Conein’s CIA agents moved into DEA intelligence and operations…” [emphasis added]
In 1952, President Arbenz of Guatemala pushed through a sweeping land reform bill which aimed at redistributing 70% of the country’s farm acreage back to the people and out of the hands of the 2% landowners. Amongst that 2% was the United Fruit Company, which had multiple ties to Washington DC and the CIA, including Walter Bedell Smith (former Director of the CIA) who was on its board after the coup, Henry Cabot-Lodge’s family fortunes on the Cabot side and Allen and Foster Dulles’s law firm Sullivan & Cromwell. (5)
On behalf of United Fruit, the CIA orchestrated a coup and E. Howard Hunt was the agency’s chief political action officer to overthrow Guatemala’s President Arbenz in 1954. (6)
“Some people effectively overlapped the entire spectrum of the alliance. Among them are Howard Hunt and Tommy Corcoran, the man behind United Fruit’s dirty work. United Fruit was a client of the Miami-based Double-Chek Corp., a CIA front that supplied planes for the Bay of Pigs invasion. Corcoran was the Washington escort of General Chennault’s widow Anna Chen Chennault, erstwhile head of the China [Kuomintang] Lobby, the key to Southeast Asian opium.”
Along with the CIA’s new official drug policy came the unofficial one. The latter dirty work was performed by a large faction within the DEA who tolerated, if not outright encouraged, a large and apparently independent army of Cuban exile terrorists (trained by the CIA) and available for action in Latin America at the request of its presiding dictators.
However, this was all supposed to have happened nearly a decade sooner.
According to a June 2, 1964 New York Times article:
“Former Vice President Richard M. Nixon wanted the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba to take place before the national election Nov. 8 1960…Nixon was hoping for the invasion before November 8 because ‘it would have been a cinch to win’ the election if the Eisenhower Administration destroyed Fidel Castro in the closing days of the Presidential campaign.”
Nixon was Vice President to Eisenhower for 8 years, from January 1953 to 1961. Nixon was supposed to have the upcoming Presidency, everyone knew it, but Kennedy (who was aware of this secret invasion plan) was able to take the election from underneath Nixon’s nose because of his calculated hard stance against Castro and support of a rebellion in Cuba during the public debate, whereas, Nixon thought it best to pretend to oppose such a thing because he thought it would compromise the actual plan to do that very thing.
And just like that, decades of planning went out the window, Nixon was out and Kennedy was in.
The Northwood Plot, the Bay of Pigs and Operation “Elimination by Illumination”
Kennedy was not the only one to crash the party. The overthrow of Batista and the expulsion of Lansky’s Cuban Empire including its heroin trade by Fidel Castro in 1959 was problematic to say the least for such long-term plans.
Fidel Castro, like de Gaulle, was a master at thwarting assassination attempts and coups. Castro would govern Cuba from 1959 to 2011.
Castro’s Cuba was considered unacceptable for the very plain reason that he was upsetting the status quo of how “business” was supposed to be done. There was a lot of money that was lost for big business with Castro’s takeover, not just for Lansky’s Syndicate but for such Fortune 500 names as United Fruit Company, U.S. Steel, DuPont and Standard Oil (among many others) which tells you something about the real sort of business these companies are involved in. (7)
Thus, Castro had to go. And in came the CIA and Pentagon to the rescue, or at least that was how the script was supposed to go…
Kennedy was inaugurated January 20th, 1961. Along with inheriting the responsibility of the welfare of the country and its people, he was to also inherit a secret war with communist Cuba run by the CIA.
The Bay of Pigs fiasco, or more aptly called treason, went from April 17th to 20th 1961, which led to the firing of CIA Director Allen Dulles, CIA Deputy Director for Plans Richard M. Bissell Jr. and CIA Deputy Director Charles Cabell (for more details on this refer here).
“Never before had there existed a more remarkable, fanatical group of conspirators than that assembled to create, finance, and train the Bay of Pigs invasion force. The top CIA figures were Lansdale protégé Napoleon Valeriano, the mysterious Frank Bender, and E. Howard Hunt, who was himself involved in at least one of the attempts on Fidel Castro’s life. They were supported by a small army of CIA operatives from four of its Miami cover firms.”
Peter Dale Scott writes in his foreword to Kruger’s “The Great Heroin Coup”:
“…the CIA reassembled for the Bay of Pigs the old Guatemala team (including Hunt…who oversaw Cuban recruitment). With the failure of the Bay of Pigs, Cuba became to America what Algeria had been to France. The explosive political controversy meant that thousands of Cuban exiles, many of them with backgrounds in the Havana milieu, were trained by the U.S. as guerillas and/or terrorists, then left in political limbo… At least one CIA project growing out of Operation 40 (the control element in the Bay of Pigs invasion force), had to be terminated, when the drug activities of its members became too embarrassing. In 1973 Newsday reported that ‘at least eight percent of the 1500-man [Bay of Pigs] invasion force has subsequently been investigated or arrested for drug-dealing.’” [emphasis added]
Further, the Bay of Pigs operation was in fact meant to fail. It was meant to stir up a public outcry for a direct military invasion of Cuba. On public record is a meeting (or more aptly described as an intervention) with CIA Deputy Director for Plans Richard Bissell, Joint Chiefs Chairman Lyman Lemnitzer, and Navy Chief Admiral Burke basically trying to strong arm President Kennedy into approving a direct military attack on Cuba. Admiral Burke had already taken the liberty of positioning two battalions of Marines on Navy destroyers off the coast of Cuba “anticipating that U.S. forces might be ordered into Cuba to salvage a botched invasion” (for more on this refer here).
There would be many more attempts to assassinate Castro and attempts at coups. One of the kookier plans would come from, not surprisingly, covert operations expert Edward Lansdale who was chief of the Saigon Military Mission and a protégé of General Lemnitzer; who wanted to send a submarine to the shore outside Havana where it would create an inferno of light. At the same time, according to Lansdale’s plan, Cuba-based agents would warn the religious natives of the second coming of Christ and the Savior’s distaste for Fidel Castro. The plan was called “Elimination by Illumination,” but was ultimately shelved. (8)
It would be funny if such plans stayed on paper, but these men were responsible for the torture and deaths of countless individuals for the plans that made it into reality.
As soon as General Lemnitzer became Army Chief of Staff in 1959, he installed Lansdale at a desk in Deputy Defense Secretary Gilpatric’s office in the Pentagon. Lansdale was put in charge of Operation Mongoose under direct patronage of Lemnitzer with the main object to eliminate Castro in direct defiance of federal law prohibiting political assassinations. Operation Mongoose was an extensive campaign of terrorist attacks against civilians and covert operations carried out by the CIA and was run out of JM/Wave in Miami. Lansdale would participate in many covert operations including raids and bombings in Cuba and other targets all over Latin America.
In March 1962, General Lyman L. Lemnitzer, not taking a hint as to what happened to Dulles, Bissell and Cabell, decided it would be a good idea to propose Operation Northwoods to President Kennedy for approval.
Operation Northwoods was a proposed false-flag operation against American citizens, which called for CIA operatives to both stage and actually commit acts of terrorism against American military and civilian targets and subsequently blame the Cuban government in order to justify a war against Cuba. The plan was drafted by General Lemnitzer specifically and has a striking similarity with NATO’s Operation Gladio (see Part 3).
The logic of Northwoods was the stripe of Gladio. The general staff inclined towards prefabricated violence because they believed benefits gained by the state count more than injustice against individuals. The only important criterion is reaching the objective and the objective was right-wing government.
There was not a single item in the Northwoods manual that did not amount to a blatant act of treason, yet the U.S. military establishment despatched “Top Secret – Justification for U.S. military Intervention in Cuba” straight to the desk of Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, for onward transmission to President Kennedy.
Needless to say President Kennedy rejected the proposal and a few months later General Lemnitzer’s term was not renewed as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, having served from October 1st 1960 to September 30th 1962.
However, NATO lost no time, and in November 1962 Lemnitzer was appointed commander of U.S. European Command and as Supreme Allied Commander Europe of NATO, the latter to which he served from January 1st, 1963 to July 1st, 1969.
Lemnitzer’s was a perfect fit to oversee the cross-continental Gladio operations in Europe. Lemnitzer was a prime motivating force in setting up the Special Forces Group in 1952 at Fort Bragg, where commandos were trained in the arts of guerilla insurgency in the events of a Soviet invasion of Europe. Before long the men who proudly wore distinctive green berets were cooperating discreetly with the armed forces of a string of European countries and participating in direct military operations some of them extremely sensitive and of highly dubious legality.