Bay of Pigs, Vietnam War, and Drug Smuggling – Kennedy Part 5

What, or who, do the Bay of Pigs, Vietnam War, drug smuggling, and the Kennedy assassination all have in common? Find out in part 5 of “Kennedy 50 Years Later” on The Michael Opitz Show. Michael and special guest, Garland Favorito, discuss all this and more in part 5 of their special report on 50 years after the Kennedy assassination.


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The Primary CIA Motive: Revenge for the Bay of Pigs

The CIA and the Joint Chiefs of Staff had wanted desperately to invade Cuba. The Joint Chiefs even went so far as to produce a now declassified Top Secret document from March 13, 1962, entitled Justification for Military Intervention in Cuba. It is referred to as Operation Northwoods, and was written by Admiral Lyman Lemnitzer, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, for the Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara, upon request of Edward Lansdale, chief of the Cuba Project. The document even recommended the creation of events that could kill Americans and Cubans. It stated:

  • A ‘Remember the Maine’ incident could be arranged in several forms”. “We could blow up a U.S. ship in Guantanamo Bay and blame Cuba.”
  • “We could sink a boatload of Cubans en route to Florida (real or simulated)”
  • “It is possible to create an incident which will demonstrate convincingly that a Cuban aircraft has attacked and shot down a chartered civil airliner en route from the United States to Jamaica, Guatemala, Panama, or Venezuela”

The CIA had planned a water-based invasion of Cuba from southern Florida by 1500 anti-Castro Cubans. For the invasion to be successful, the Cuban air force would have to be subdued. Kennedy had agreed to a covert air strike against Cuban fighter planes on airfields in Cuba. That was expected to incapacitate the air force to the degree they could not stop the invaders. The CIA had made the strike from Guatemala using Cuban pilots in airplanes disguised to look like those of Cuba. They claimed to the United Nations that those pilots were Cuban defectors. Cuba knew that was not true and asked the U.S. and the U.N. to produce the pilot.

Kennedy was concerned about repercussions in revealing direct U.S. involvement in the bombing. When he was informed that the airfield damage was not complete, Kennedy refused a CIA request for another bombing run needed to ensure the safety of the landing party. The 1500 invading anti-Castro Cubans were killed or captured by Castro forces that had been alerted and were waiting for them at the Bay of Pigs. The captured forces realized that they had been betrayed as soon as they were let out and some even started firing back at the freighters.

Kennedy fired CIA Director Allen Dulles, Deputy Director Charles Cabell, and Director of Plans Richard Bissell.  From that day on, Kennedy was considered as a traitor by the anti-Castro wing of the CIA. Thus, under the circumstances, these individuals would have no qualms about killing their own President.

Fletcher Prouty stated that in his capacity a liaison between the CIA and Air Force at the Pentagon in 1961 he personally “sanitized” two freighters named “Barbara” and “Houston” for use in the Bay of Pigs operation which was code named “Zapata.” The operation named after a corporation, both of which were run by George H. W. Bush through the group known as JMWAVE out of the CIA Miami office.

Note:  In 1976, Adm. Hyman Rickover determined that the U.S.S. Maine exploded from within and thus was not blown up by Spain as government officials claimed at the time, thus explaining the reference to the U.S.S. Maine by the Northwoods document.

Aftermath: CIA Escalates Vietnam War for Drug Smuggling

Santo Trafficante continued operating with the CIA until his death in 1987. In 1986, a video acquired by Col. Bo Gritz during a covert mission identified him as a recipient in the world’s largest heroin operation, which was under U.S. government control.

The heroin was produced by General Khun Sa in the mountainous Shan territories of the Golden Triangle in Burma and distributed through Laos. Gritz went to Laos and Burma looking for Prisoners of War (POW) and soldiers who were missing in action (MIA). Khun Sa offered to stop heroin production in exchange for some American assistance in converting to legitimate crops and for recognition of the Shan provinces as independent, so that they would no longer have to sell heroin to fight the Red Burmese.

As proof of their sincerity, Khun Sa representatives allowed Gritz to make a stunning video where they identified:

  • Santo Trafficante, Florida mob boss, as handling civilian distribution
  • Ted Shackley, CIA deputy director of Covert Operations who reported to George Bush, as handling international operations
  • Richard Armitage, then Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs in charge of POW recovery, as handling financial transactions and money laundering

Washington was far from thrilled with his findings. Gritz, who naturally used special identification while traveling for his clandestine POW recovery efforts, found himself as a target of a Justice Department criminal prosecution. The charge was using a false passport WHILE HE WAS ON THE COVERT MISSION. The Justice Department spent two years attempting to prosecute Gritz for the operation that he was requested to perform by Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) director, Gen. Eugene Tighe through Ross Perot.

Gritz was eventually acquitted on April 21, 1989 before he could give a word of incriminating testimony about CIA and military personnel engaged in Southeast Asian drug trafficking. As he left the courtroom, U.S. Attorney William Maddox, was pressured by TV news personnel to explain why the government had spent two years prosecuting a bogus charge. Maddox admitted, and even repeated, to TV news reporters that he had gotten a call from George Bush who told him to “Get Bo Gritz”.

Gritz had been sent by Ross Perot and Col. Arthur “Bull” Simmons as part of a DIA recovery effort for POW/MIAs recovery effort. After Ross Perot corroborated the information from Gritz, he realized that Armitage would be the last person who would want POW/MIAs to return home when they may have knowledge of the operation. He confronted Armitage and went to then Vice President, George H.W. Bush. Bush told Perot to see the “proper authorities.” In reality, Bush was the proper authority since Executive Order 12333, and Presidential Decision Directives 2 and 3, put him in charge of all covert operations after the assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan in 1981. Perot was so angry about the protection that Armitage and Shackley received that he decided to run against Bush in 1992 and was successful in costing him the election.

The astronomically profitable Golden Triangle heroin operation was the impetus for the CIA to continually lure the American government into creating a Vietnam War. President John Kennedy had resisted the CIA efforts beyond the “17,000 advisors” that had been authorized. However, once Kennedy was assassinated, Lyndon Johnson initiated a war by signing the Gulf of Tonkin resolution, after falsely claiming that the North Vietnamese had fired on our ships there. Johnson escalated the war to over 550,000 American troops, over 50,000 of which died or are still missing. Politicians allowed the war to drag on for years while the Golden Triangle operation was in full swing. Thus, the real motive of our involvement in Vietnam was not likely to fight communism but to establish control of Southeast Asia drug trafficking operations.

Michael Opitz About Michael Opitz

Michael is a Registered Domestic & Civil Mediator and Arbitrator. He served in the U.S. Air Force in the OSI and retired from AT&T/Lucent Technologies. Michael is the founder of the Madison Forum and actively involved in politics.

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