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Pretextural Obligato: a symphony of lies

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Pretextural Obligato: a symphony of lies

Post by greg parker on Mon 14 Sep 2009, 11:24 pm

Northwoods
The idea of creating a pretext in order to enter into war has been with us far longer than the onset of the Cold War(1). Operation Northwoods which was handed to Defense Secretary McNamara on March, 13 1962 by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, (2) was therefore not a radical new idea – though some of its suggested pretext operations did go further than the norm, in particular, in stipulating that civilians could be killed as part of the plan. If the general thrust of Northwoods was not a new idea, nor was the specific planning it contained created in a vacuum on March 13, 1962. After the disaster that was the Bay of Pigs, months of planning culminated in the launch on November 30, 1961, of Operation Mongoose led by Col Ed Lansdale.(3) Counterinsurgency efforts, incuding sabotage, and other spycraft meant to destabalize and ultimately oust the Castro government however, dated back to the previous Eisenhower administration. Northwoods would merely recognize, formalize and deconstrain an otherwise well-worn military tactic.

Gitmo
The US obtained a perpetual lease of Guantanamo Bay after the Spanish-American War – itself the probable result of a pretext operation. Such operations must lead to a thirst for revenge at home which enables the sending in of the troops. The means for this process is the media which repeats the official line until it becomes ingrained, alongside PR firms which come up with the rallying catch-cries such as “Remember the Maine: To Hell with Spain!”

Castro has always publicly stated that he wants the base closed down and the land returned to Cuban control – and – importantly – that Cuba would not try to reclaim it by force. Why is that important? Because the US could show Castro to be a hypocrite if it could successfully pull off a pretext operation which appeared to show Cuba attacking the base. This would help to nullify any who had been sympathetic to Cuba while also helping to rally those already opposed to Castro. Get the launches and bombers ready, boys! Thus we find that the majority of the suggested pretexts involve fake Cuban attacks on Gitmo, or in some other way, involve the base.

There were two real life incidents which bear more than a passing resemblance to Northwoods models. And as we shall see, one of the Generals who signed off on Northwoods would play a major roll in the outcome of the first incident.

The First model as taken from Northwoods
1. Since it would seem desirable to use legitimate provocation as the basis for US military intervention in Cuba a cover and deception plan, to include requisite preliminary actions such as has been developed in response to Task 33 c, 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. Our military posture throughout execution of the plan will allow a rapid change from exercise to intervention if Cuban response justifies.

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):

3. Capture Cuban (friendly) saboteurs inside the base.

4. Start riots near the base main gate (friendly Cubans).

5. Blow up ammunition inside the base; start fires.

September 30, 1961: Guantanamo Navy Base

The story of the murder of Ruben Lopez, as it has been accepted, goes like this: Lopez was a bus driver at the base. His name was allegedly on a list of suspected Cuban spies employed on the base. On the night of September 30, 1961, Lopez was said to have been found in the Leeward Point Magazine area across from the main base by Capt. Arthur Jackson, a WWII Medal of Honor winner. Jackson contacted the Military Police, expecting them to come and detain the Cuban. Instead, due to the lack of a ferry to quickly get there, they told Jackson to let him loose into Cuban territory. At this time, Lt. William Szili, a veteran of the Korean War, was still in bed. At what point he arrived at the scene remains unclear, as is his means of getting there. Upon finding the gate lock rusted and stuck, Szili was sent for a sledge hammer. In his absence, Jackson somehow forced the gate open, but once outside, Lopez lunged at the Marine, who then shot and killed the bus driver. In some accounts, the force of the blast sent the Cuban over a cliff to a rocky beach below – in another version, Jackson and Szili threw him over. The following day, the two returned to the scene and Jackson climbed down the cliff and covered the body.

Two or three days later and after numerous checks, two officers and three enlisted men would be called upon to help retrieve the corpse and bury it inside the base. When the body was discovered on October 15, Jackson and Szili were held under guard in the psychiatric ward of the base hospital and likewise later at Camp Lejeune, NC, and were required to sign statements verifying they understood that if they ever spoke about the incident, they could face fines of up to $10,000 and 10 years imprisonment under the Espionage and Sabotage Act.

Jackson retired, the other officers, Pruitt and Steiner, were quietly forced out, the enlisted men were reprimanded (though in some accounts, they too, were forced out) while Szili was ousted under a law permitting the revocation of a commission of an officer with less than three years active service on the active list. These actions occurred in March, 1962. In the end, none appeared before a military or civil court (the shooting allegedly having occurred outside the base) and all left with honorable discharges, with Szili being the only one to eventually speak out.(4)

Schweiker backs off

As noted in Bill Kelly's article on this incident, Szili eventually sought reinstatement to the Marines by giving his story to Senator Richard Schweiker. Schweiker publicly proclaimed that Szili had been treated unfairly and demanded an investigation. However, a still secret briefing involving Navy Secretary, Fred Korth, commandant David Shoup, Congressional Armed Services Committee members, and a number of unnamed military commanders, was enough to still Schweiker's tongue prompting Szili – decades later in his interview with Kelly to proclaim Schweiker a headline-seeking “opportunist”.

David Shoup
In the syndicated column, Washington Merry-Go-Round of April 26, 1963, Anderson wrote Jackson demanded a court martial, which could not be granted without revealing the incident. When he took his demand all the way to General Shoup, the commandant angrily threatened to call in two officers and hold a court martial on the spot. He made it clear what the verdict would be. Jackson even appealed to the Congressional Medal of Honor Society which, after investigating the facts, intervened in Jackson's behalf. This infuriated Shoup, himself a Medal of Honor winner, who resigned from the society in a pique.(5) The ousted officers, their Marine Corps records cloudy, have had trouble finding work. Jackson finally took a job with the San Jose, Calif., post office, and Szili is trying to sell insurance in Norristown, Pa. The wives of both are expecting babies. For them, it has been a rough penalty to pay.

Can you follow the bouncing Shoup?

As a member of the JCS, he signed off on Operation Northwoods which included plans to capture (fake) Cuban saboteurs inside the base, start riots (using friendly Cubans) near the gates, and/or to blow up ammunition inside the base – all as a pretext to invade the island.

At around the same time he was signing off on Northwoods, he was dealing with Szili and Jackson by locking them up in psych wards, kicking their families off the base and calling Jackson a “disgrace”. All for actions which fit neatly into the Northwoods formula. But even if one takes the innocent view that Jackson did in fact act in self-defence, the same problem arises. Shoup's reaction is way out of proportion. Shoup would later be among those who managed to convince Schweiker to shut up about the incident – after which the story (referred to by Jack Anderson as one of the most explosive incidents of the long Cuban crisis) disappears from the newspapers.

Puzzling
If I seem all too skeptical about the nature of this murder, I make no apologies. There is just too much that does not add up. Jackson was a big man and still relatively young. Yet Lopez supposedly lunged at him in an apparent effort to grab his gun. Why, when all that was happening was that he was being escorted from the base? It is certainly not the action of the spy he was made out to be, much less an ordinary bus driver under the escort of a burly, armed Marine. The incident itself, as noted above, fits into a couple of Northwoods scenarios, and though this would require Lopez to be a friendly Cuban, who is to say he was not?

Another point is that it was deemed necessary to knock the gate open with a sledge hammer – yet as Szili is getting one, Jackson manages to get it open himself – thus allowing for the killing of the Cuban to occur off base. Yet it is known that there were sentries in the area, as according to Szili they had heard the shots. Why get a sledge hammer when you could enlist the help of a sentry or two? In fact, wouldn't such help fall well within the purview of their duties? It is not as if the act of escorting a possible spy off the base at the behest of Military Police would be something you needed to do in a covert fashion.

If this was indeed a Northwoods type operation, something went awfully wrong.

Castro's reaction
Szili told the press that he had decided to help Jackson dispose of the body because of the potential international repercussions. Castro, he said, has the ability of taking the story of the Boy Scout helping the old lady across the street and turning it into an attempted rape.

Castro could have used the incident for great propaganda purposes and even as the basis to rescind the Guantanamo lease – particularly if the murder had occurred inside that stubborn gate, instead of outside as reported. Yet Castro, after making some initial noise, promptly dropped the whole thing. This was surely not because Lopez really was a spy. That charge would be denied as a matter of policy regardless of its merits and would have no effect on the value of the incident as the basis of propaganda. It seems that neither Szili nor Shoup had any reason to lose any sleep over what Castro might do. In the end, he did precisely nothing.

The Second model as taken from Northwoods
a. Incidents to establish a credible attack (not in chronological order):

3. A "Remember the Maine" incident could be arranged in several forms:
a. We could blow up a US ship in Guantanamo Bay and blame Cuba.
b. We could blow up a drone (unmanned) vessel anywhere in the Cuban waters. We could arrange to cause such incident in the vicinity of Havana or Santiago as a spectacular result of Cuban attack from the air or sea, or both. The presence of Cuban planes or ships merely investigating the intent of the vessel could be fairly compelling evidence that the ship was taken under attack. The nearness to Havana or Santiago would add credibility especially to those people that might have heard the blast or have seen the fire. The US could follow up with an air/sea rescue operation covered by US fighters to "evacuate" remaining members of the non-existent crew. Casualty lists in US newspapers would cause a helpful wave of national indignation.

6. Use of MIG type aircraft by US pilots could provide additional provocation. Harassment of civil air, attacks on surface shipping and destruction of US military drone aircraft by MIG type planes would be useful as complementary actions. An F-86 properly painted would convince air passengers that they saw a Cuban MIG, especially if the pilot of the transport were to announce such 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 US resources in about three months.

8. It is possible to create an incident which will demonstrate convincingly that a Cuban aircraft has attacked and shot down a chartered civil airliner enroute from the United States to Jamaica, Guatemala, Panama or Venezuela. The destination would be chosen only to cause the flight plan route to cross Cuba. 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 for 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 aircraft 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 filed flight plan. When over Cuba the drone will being transmitting on the international distress frequency a "MAY DAY" message stating he is under attack by Cuban MIG aircraft. The transmission will be nterrupted by destruction of the aircraft which will be triggered by radio signal. This will allow ICAO radio stations in the Western Hemisphere to tell the US what has happened to the aircraft instead of the US trying to "sell" the incident.

9. It is possible to create an incident which will make it appear that Communist Cuban MIGs have destroyed a USAF aircraft over international waters in an unprovoked attack.

a. Approximately 4 or 5 F-101 aircraft will be dispatched in trail from Homestead AFB, Florida, to the vicinity of Cuba. Their mission will be to reverse course and simulate fakir aircraft for an air defense exercise in southern Florida. These aircraft would conduct variations of these flights at frequent Intervals. Crews would be briefed to remain at least 12 miles off the Cuban coast; however, they would be required to carry live ammunition in the event that hostile actions were taken by the Cuban MIGs.

b. On one such flight, a pre-briefed pilot would fly tail-end Charley at considerable interval between aircraft. While near the Cuban Island this pilot would broadcast that he had been jumped by MIGs and was going down. No other calls would be made. The pilot would then fly directly west at extremely low altitude and land at a secure base, an Eglin auxiliary. The aircraft would be met by the proper people, quickly stored and given a new tail number. The pilot who had performed the mission under an alias, would resume his proper identity and return to his normal place of business. The pilot and aircraft would then have disappeared.

c. At precisely the same time that the aircraft was presumably shot down a submarine or small surface craft would disburse F-101 parts, parachute, etc., at approximately 15 to 20 miles off the Cuban coast and depart. The pilots returning to Homestead would have a true story as far as they knew. Search ships and aircraft could be dispatched and parts of aircraft found.

Joe Hyde

Starting on Nov 21 and continuing on the morning of the assassination, numerous papers across the country were reporting the disappearance of a U2 plane which had been coming back from a reconnaissance mission over Cuba on Wednesday, November, 20. Some debris was found on the Thursday 40 miles north-west of Key West, Fla. by the Coast Guard, with the remainder being found by navy salvage operators soon after. The pilot, Joe Hyde, was not inside the cockpit. Nor was the ejector seat. Initial reports stated that it was assumed that it went down due to mechanical troubles but added that it could have been the result of a Cuban attack.(6)

The results of an Air Force investigation were published on Dec 5. Though a shoot-down was now definitively ruled out, no determination was made as to the actual reason for the crash. On December 2, it was reported in the press that Hyde's family was officially notified the previous Saturday that Joe had gone down with the plane. How this could be determined without a body and prior to the completion of the Air Force investigation was not explained. It must be said that this incident does not precisely match any one suggestion from Northwoods, but elements of it can be seen in a number of the scenarios. It should be remembered after all, that the document was meant to suggest ideas. It was not a blueprint set in stone. The idea to be explored here is that of having a US plane appearing to have been shot down in international waters by Cuba.

Robert S Allen and Paul Scott

The release of the CIA's so-called Family Jewels in 2007 showed that Allen and Scott had been the targets of a CIA surveillance operation between March 12, 1963 and June 15, 1963. The motive appears to have been due to their habit of writing stories around highly classified intelligence reports, but additional motivation may have included a hint of revenge thrown in for constant, harping attacks on the agency. In any event, the operation was unnecessary if they had no access to sensitive data, and the stories had been mere tabloid junk. On November 27, 1963, their syndicated column bore the heading U-2 Plane Probably Hit by Cuban SA-2. That story is reprinted in its entirety here:

WASHINGTON - Fate is losing no time in confronting President Johnson with his first foreboding international "incident." Intelligence authorities have informed the new President that a.number of indications strongly point to that mysteriously crashed U-2 reconnaissance plane's having been downed through "hostile action." These officials are convinced an SA-2 Russian missile, fired by one of many such anti-aircraft batteries in Communist jackal Cuba, did that "killing." Examination of the plane wreckage, recovered from 100 ft-deep water some 40 miles northeast of Key West and 180 miles north of Cuba, indicates the plane was severely damaged by an external explosion—in the opinion of intelligence experts, by an SA-2 missile. It is also deemed very likely that the impact of this powerful blast caused the automatic ejection seat to hurl the possibly wounded pilot out of the shattered plane. Neither he nor the seat have been found. None of the facts of this disturbing development have been made public, and it's not known when or if they will be.

THE INSIDE STORY-However, following are highlights of the unpublished intelligence account: The U-2, on loan from the Strategic Air Command, was making one of the Central Intelligence Agency's weekly reconnaissance flights over Cuba. As previously reported in this column, CIA has taken over such missions from the Air Force. CIA bars the pilots from flying directly over Cuba. Instead, they, must remain over international waters and take long-range photographs. On this ill-fated flight, the particular mission was to obtain photos of airbases on which a greatly increased number of Russian MIG fighters had been reported. As disclosed in this column several weeks ago, U-2 photos had revealed a sudden big increase in Soviet MIGs on and near certain Cuban airfields—around the same time some 300 Russian troops were being shipped home.

On the basis of these photos, U-2 experts raised their estimate of Red planes in Cuba from 150 to "more than 200." These additional planes include MIG-17S, MIG-19S, MIG-21s and an unknown engine jet interceptor. They were observed chiefly in the vicinity of San Julian, San Antonio de Los Banos and Colon. Underground aircraft facilities have repeatedly been reported in these areas. Captain Joe G. Hyde Jr., missing pilot of the lost U-2, was to focus on these suspected bases. Several minutes before his plane vanished sudenly from radar scopes, the naval base at Guatanamo tracked the firing of two SA-2 missiles at an unidentified target. Simultaneously, the Guantanamo radar spotted a flight of Cuban interceptors streaking upward as if in pursuit. At this time Hyde's plane is calculated as having been flying at great height along the northern cost of Cuba.

PENTAGON DISPUTE— One aspect of this tragic mystery that has caused sharp reaction among Air Force and Navy authorities was the failure of U.S. interceptors to be anywhere near the crashed plane only 40 miles from Key West, site of a large naval airbase. This failure was due to policy laid down by Defense Secretary McNamara. Under this backstage edict, interceptors are sent aloft only when planes are hostile. As a consequence, nothing was done about the explosion – shattered U-2 that obviously was trying desperately to reach Key West. Military officials have vigorously contended that if the U.S. is to maintain air control over the 90 miles of ocean between the Florida coast and Cuba, it is essential that all planes be intercepted regardless of identification. This view has been particularly stressed since the discovery of the greatly increased number of MIGs. But McNamara has argued that the Red jets are "defensive" — despite irrefutable evidence that their range can be quickly and easily extended and that they can be armed with nuclear weapons. "Normal" operational range of the MIG-21, latest model of these fighters, is 300 miles. With extra fuel tanks that range can be tripled, enabling these powerful fighters to attack major targets in the southeastern U.S. Was this story the one that the public was supposed to hear in the event that the assassination failed to culminate in an invasion of Cuba? If so, it may have been leaked to Allen and Scott by those desperate for such plans to go ahead. The fact that they did not, may only mean those in favor of abandoning a short, sharp war with the prospect of mass destruction (if the Soviets intervened) won out by choosing door B – behind which lay an extended land war in Asia.

Endnotes

(1) How to Start a War: The American Use of War Pretext Incidents (1848-1989) article by Richard Sanders
(2) Wikipedia entry on Northwoods
(3) Wikipedia entry on the Cuban Project (aka/Project Mongoose)
(4) The story broke on April 26, 1963. The narrative as given here, has been put together from the accounts given in various newspapers between April 26 and April 28 when the story was apparently killed off.
(5) Jack Anderson reported that Shoup was so upset over possible repercussions from the Cuban shooting that he ordered Jackson and his family thrown off the Guantanamo naval base and shouted at him he was “not fit to wear the same uniform as Col, John Glenn," The most bitter irony is that the Shoup approved Northwoods operations also called for the possible killing of John Glenn during a launch to put him into orbit. The trail of evidence would of course, lead straight to Castro.
(6) e.g The Dallas Morning News article, U-2 Plane Reported in Crash, 11/21/63.


Last edited by greg parker on Mon 29 Sep 2014, 3:19 pm; edited 1 time in total

greg parker
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Re: Pretextural Obligato: a symphony of lies

Post by greg parker on Mon 29 Sep 2014, 8:35 am

bump

ps any similarity between this incident and "A Few Good Men" is purely coincidental.

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Re: Pretextural Obligato: a symphony of lies

Post by Stan Dane on Mon 29 Sep 2014, 1:24 pm

Very interesting stuff. Your skepticism is justified.
 
For those trying to "follow the bouncing Shoup," I recommend getting a Shoop Shoop Hula Hoop and then you should be able to keep up.
 

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Re: Pretextural Obligato: a symphony of lies

Post by greg parker on Mon 29 Sep 2014, 3:20 pm

Definitely more fun from Whammo!

_________________
Mixing Pop and Politics he asks me what the use is
I offer him embarrassment and my usual excuses
While looking down the corridor
Out to where the van is waiting
I'm looking for the Great Leap Forward

            Billy Bragg
-----------------------------
 Australians don't mind criminals: It's successful bullshit artists we despise. 
             Lachie Hulme            
-----------------------------
The Cold War ran on bullshit.
              Me

greg parker
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Re: Pretextural Obligato: a symphony of lies

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