[Paleopsych] Lamar Waldron, with Thom Hartmann: Ultimate Sacrifice

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Lamar Waldron, with Thom Hartmann: Ultimate Sacrifice: John and Robert 
Kennedy, the Plan for a Coup in Cuba, and the Murder of JFK (excerpts)

by Thom Hartmann and Lamar Waldron

Thom Hartmann, a regular BuzzFlash contributor,
is coauthor of the newly released book Ultimate
Sacrifice, which explores the theory that
Kennedy's death leads back to the mob. Carroll &
Graf, the publishers of Ultimate Sacrifice, have
granted BuzzFlash permission to post the authors'
introduction to the book, including end notes, as
an aid to those wishing to further explore specific details.

BuzzFlash is not in the business of solving the
Kennedy mystery, and in fact we doubt that it
will ever be irrefutably solved, even once all
related documents become declassified. This text,
however, makes a serious contribution, as our
review has indicated.
Ultimate Sacrifice: John and Robert Kennedy, the Plan for
a Coup in Cuba, and the Murder of JFK is available
as a BuzzFlash premium.

* * *

FOR MORE THAN FOUR DECADES since his death in
1963, John F. Kennedy has captured the
imagination of the American people. Myth and
conjecture have swirled around JFK, his political
legacy, his family, and its multiple tragedies.
Admirers and critics have examined every detail
of his life and work, gradually lifting one veil
after another to shed new light on his
presidency, from his maneuvering behind the
scenes during the Cuban Missile Crisis to his
personal weaknesses. Nonetheless, the secret with
the most profound and catastrophic effect on
America has remained hidden. Ultimate Sacrifice
reveals this secret for the first time,
transforming the history of the Kennedy years and
providing the missing piece to one of the great
puzzles of post-war America: the true
circumstances behind JFK's assassination on November 22, 1963.

Seventeen years ago, Thom Hartmann and I began
writing a book about the battles of President
Kennedy and his brother, Attorney General Robert
F. Kennedy, against the Mafia and Fidel Castro.
Drawing on new information and exclusive
interviews with those who worked with the
Kennedys, in addition to thousands of recently
declassified files, we discovered that John and
Robert Kennedy had devised and were executing a
secret plan to overthrow Fidel Castro 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, and would be
supported by a "full-scale invasion" of Cuba by
the US military, if necessary.[1] 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 either
the military, 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.

Unique and different from any previously
disclosed operation, the Kennedys' "Plan for a
Coup in Cuba" is revealed in this book for the
first time. The CIA's code name for their part of
the coup plan has never surfaced in any book,
article, or government investigation. Officially
declassified in 1999, "AMWORLD" is the cryptonym
the CIA used for the plan in its classified
internal documents. Since the overall coup plan
was under the personal control of Attorney
General Kennedy, who did not use a code-name for
it, we call it "C-Day" in this book, a name
entirely of our own invention. Its evocation of
D-Day is intentional, since the Kennedys' plan
included the possibility of a US military invasion.

C-Day 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 dons­Carlos Marcello, Santo
Trafficante, and Johnny Rosselli­learned of the
plan and realized that the government 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.

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 that
their only way to avoid prison or deportation was
to kill JFK. Our investigation has produced clear
evidence that the crime bosses arranged the
assassination so that any thorough investigation
would expose the Kennedys' C-Day 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.

They did not carry out the act themselves, but
used trusted associates and unwitting proxies.
The most widely known are Jack Ruby and Lee
Harvey Oswald, who were both in contact with
associates of Marcello, Trafficante, and Rosselli
in the months before the assassination. Reports
in government files show that Oswald and Ruby
knew about parts of the Kennedys' plan and even
discussed it with others.

Robert Kennedy told several close associates that
Carlos Marcello was behind JFK's death, but he
couldn't reveal what he knew to the public or to
the Warren Commission without C-Day being
uncovered. As this book shows, RFK and other key
government officials worried that exposure of the
plan could trigger another nuclear confrontation
with the Soviets, just a year after the Cuban
Missile Crisis.

None of the seven governmental committees that
investigated aspects of the assassination,
including the Warren Commission, were officially
told about the Kennedys' C-Day plan.[2] However,
over the decades, each successive committee came
increasingly close to discovering both the plan
and the associates of Marcello who assassinated
JFK. We were able to piece together the
underlying story by building on the work of those
committees, former government investigators, and
revelations in four million documents that were
declassified in the 1990s. Key to our efforts
were new and often exclusive interviews with many
Kennedy insiders who worked on the coup plan or
dealt with its consequences, some of whom
revealed aspects of JFK's assassination and the
coup plan for the first time. They include
Secretary of State Dean Rusk, Press Secretary
Pierre Salinger, and the Kennedys' top Cuban
exile aide, Enrique "Harry" Ruiz-Williams. Their
inside information allows us to tell the story,
even though a 1998 report about the JFK
Assassinations Records Review Board confirms that
"well over a million CIA records" related to
JFK's murder have not yet been released.[3] NBC
News' Tom Brokaw confirmed on his September 29,
1998 broadcast that "millions" of pages remain
secret and won't be released until the year 2017.[4]

By necessity, Ultimate Sacrifice examines this
complex story from several angles. Part One
documents every aspect of the Kennedys' C-Day
plan and how it developed, beginning with the
Cuban Missile Crisis. Though it is widely
believed that JFK agreed not to invade Cuba in
order to end the Cuban Missile Crisis in the fall
of 1962, Secretary of State Rusk told us that the
"no-invasion" pledge was conditional upon
Castro's agreement to on-site UN inspections for
nuclear weapons of mass destruction (a term that
JFK first used). Historians at the National
Security Archive confirmed that because Castro
refused such inspections, the pledge against
invasion never went into effect.[5] Consequently,
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 Defense Department 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.[6] 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.[7] 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."[8]

This "palace coup" would be led by one of
Castro's inner circle, himself a well-known
revolutionary hero.[9] This man, the coup leader,
would cause Castro's death, but without taking
the credit or blame for doing so. The coup leader
would be part of the new Provisional Government
in Cuba, along with a select group of Cuban
exiles­approved by the Kennedys­who ranged from
conservative to progressive.[10] The identity of
the coup leader is known to the authors, and has
been confirmed by Kennedy associates and
declassified documents. However, US national
security laws may prevent the direct disclosure
of past US intelligence assets even long after
their deaths, so we will not directly name the
coup leader in this book. Since we have no desire
to violate national security laws or endanger US
intelligence assets, we will only disclose
official information that has been declassified
or is available in the historical record.

We have uncovered historical accounts of Cuban
leaders that have been long overlooked by the
public or are in newly released government files.
For example, a formerly secret cable sent to the
CIA director on December 10, 1963­just nine days
after the original date for the C-Day
coup­reports "Che Guevara was alleged to be under
house arrest for plotting to overthrow Castro,"
according to "a Western diplomat."[11] Newly
declassified documents and other research cast
Che's growing disenchantment with Fidel Castro in
a new light. These revelations include Che's
secret meetings with three people close to the
Kennedys, followed by yet another house arrest
after a CDay exile leader was captured in Cuba.

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.[12] 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 simply a
free and democratic Cuba.

As several Kennedy associates told us, the only
man who knew everything about C-Day was Robert
Kennedy, the plan's guiding force.[13] Secretary
of the Army Cyrus Vance was one of the few
military leaders who knew the full scope of C-Day
while the plan was active. The others were
generals the Kennedys especially trusted,
including Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Maxwell Taylor and General Joseph Carroll, head
of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). High
CIA officials involved in C-Day included CIA
Director John McCone, Deputy Director for Plans
Richard Helms, Desmond FitzGerald, and key field
operatives like David Morales and David Atlee
Phillips. Most high US officials didn't know
about C-Day prior to JFK's assassination. There
is no evidence that Lyndon Johnson was told
anything about C-Day prior to JFK's death.
Likewise, no evidence exists showing that
Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara knew about
C-Day before JFK's assassination. Dean Rusk told
us he did not learn about the actual C-Day plan
until soon after JFK's death.[14] There is no
evidence that Edward Kennedy was told about the
plan. Documents and sources indicate that FBI
Director J. Edgar Hoover had no active role in
C-Day, although he may have learned a great deal
about it from field reports. The Secret Service
was even less informed about C-Day, which no
doubt hindered their actions when serious threats
seemingly related to Cuba surfaced against JFK in
the weeks before C-Day.

However, officials ranging from Dean Rusk to
hawkish Air Force Chief of Staff General Curtis
LeMay were needed for the planning of C-Day, so
the Kennedys used a shrewd technique that let
those officials participate in planning for C-Day
while keeping them in the dark about the plan
itself. Rusk, LeMay, and others were simply told
that all the planning was needed "just in case" a
coup happened in Cuba. Officials like Rusk and
LeMay were generally aware of other CIA efforts
against Castro in the fall of 1963, such as the
CIA's AMTRUNK operation, which looked for
disaffected Cuban military officers. Some US
officials also knew about a CIA asset named
Rolando Cubela, a disgruntled mid-level Cuban
official who the CIA code-named AMLASH. However,
unlike AMWORLD­the CIA's portion of C-Day­neither
of those operations reached high in the Cuban
government or was close to producing results in
the fall of 1963. The Kennedys' "just in case"
technique allowed extensive planning to be done
for all facets of the military invasion and the
post-coup Provisional Government without
revealing C-Day or the coup leader's identity to
most of those doing the planning. If the C-Day
coup had actually occurred, Rusk and the other
officials not privy to the full plan would
nonetheless have been fully prepared for its
aftermath, with plans they had already approved
and helped create.[15]

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."[16] In the
event of an assassination (expected to happen
only outside the US), these contingency plans
would have mandated certain security measures,
and, as this book documents, such principles
would be applied to and 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 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 Castro­which began in 1959 under
Vice President Richard Nixon­had 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
to allow associates of Marcello, Trafficante, and
Rosselli to infiltrate the plans for C-Day.

In Part II, we will show how­and why­mob bosses
Carlos Marcello, Santo Trafficante, and Johnny
Rosselli worked together to penetrate the
Kennedys' C-Day plan and assassinate JFK. In
1963, Carlos Marcello was America's most ruthless
and secretive Mafia boss, completely free of FBI
wiretaps. From his New Orleans headquarters, he
ruled a territory that included Louisiana,
Mississippi, and parts of Texas and Alabama.[17]
Marcello's Mafia family was the oldest in North
America, able to stage major "hits" without
needing the approval of the national Mafia
organization, and his associates had a long
history of targeting government officials who got
in their way.[18] The Kennedys had pursued
Marcello since 1959, even before JFK was elected
president. Recently declassified FBI documents
confirm that just a few years before his own
death, Carlos Marcello confessed on three
occasions to informants that he had had JFK killed.[19]

Tampa godfather Santo Trafficante was Marcello's
closest Mafia ally. Trafficante's territory
included much of Florida, as well as parts of
Alabama, and his organization provided a major
conduit for the French Connection heroin trade,
whose primary routes included New York City,
Texas, New Orleans, Georgia's Fort Benning,
Montreal, Chicago, and Mexico City. The Internet
magazine Salon noted that Trafficante "had been
driven out of the lucrative Havana casino
business by Castro and" that he "had been
recruited in the CIA" plots with the Mafia to
kill Castro months before JFK became
president.[20] Like Marcello, Trafficante later
confessed his involvement in JFK's assassination.[21]

Johnny Rosselli, according to his biographers,
also claimed to know what had really happened in
Dallas, and he sometimes worked with both
Trafficante and Marcello. Rosselli was the
Chicago Mafia's point man in Hollywood and Las
Vegas, and his close friends included Frank
Sinatra and Marilyn Monroe. Internal CIA reports
admit that they recruited Rosselli and
Trafficante for their own plots to assassinate
Castro prior to JFK's election in 1960. Unknown
to the Kennedys, Rosselli was continuing in that role
in the fall of 1963.[22]

Jack Ruby met with Rosselli just weeks before
JFK's assassination, had met much earlier with
Santo Trafficante, and had numerous ties to
Carlos Marcello, according to government
investigators.[23] Ultimate Sacrifice reveals new
information from Pierre Salinger­a member of the
Kennedys' first organized crime investigation
team­that just weeks before Jack Ruby shot
Oswald, Ruby received a large payoff in Chicago
from someone working for a close ally of Marcello
and Trafficante.[24] Ruby also made surprising
comments that wound in up the Warren Commission's
files but not in their report. Just weeks after
Ruby's arrest for shooting Oswald in 1963, an FBI
document quotes Ruby as talking about "an
invasion of Cuba" that "was being sponsored by
the United States Government."[25]

Ultimate Sacrifice shows how Carlos Marcello,
Santo Trafficante, and Johnny Rosselli were able
to keep their roles in JFK's death from being
exposed because they had infiltrated C-Day.
Long-secret government files confirm that ten men
who worked for the mob bosses had learned about
CDay. Five of those ten actually worked on C-Day,
giving the Mafia chieftains a pipeline directly
into C-Day and the plans for keeping it secret.
Less than a dozen trusted associates of the mob
bosses were knowingly involved in the hit on JFK.

Though Mafia hits against officials are rare, the
Mafia families of Carlos Marcello, Santo
Trafficante, and Johnny Rosselli had killed
officials who threatened their survival. Nine
years earlier, Santo Trafficante's organization
had helped to assassinate the newly elected
Attorney General of Alabama because he was
preparing to shut down Trafficante's operations
in notoriously corrupt Phenix City.[26] In 1957,
associates of Marcello and Rosselli assassinated
the president of Guatemala, a murder that was
quickly blamed on a seemingly lone Communist
patsy who, like Lee Harvey Oswald, was then
killed before he could stand trial. Just nine
months before JFK's murder in November 1963,
Rosselli's Chicago Mafia family had successfully
assassinated a Chicago city official, using an
associate of Jack Ruby.[27]

The House Select Committee on Assassinations
(HSCA) found in 1979 that Marcello and
Trafficante had had the means and the motive to
assassinate JFK. Before the HSCA could question
Rosselli, he "was kidnapped, murdered,
dismembered, and sunk" in the ocean in an oil
drum that later surfaced.[28] But the CIA didn't
tell the HSCA about AMWORLD or other aspects of
C-Day, so the HSCA couldn't uncover exactly how
Marcello and Trafficante did it or Rosselli's
role in working with them. Newly declassified
files, many unavailable to the HSCA, show that
Marcello, Trafficante, and Rosselli penetrated
C-Day and used parts of it as cover to assassinate JFK.

By using the secrecy surrounding C-Day, the mob
bosses could target JFK not only in Dallas, but
also in two earlier attempts, one of which is
revealed in this book for the first time. They
first attempted to kill JFK in Chicago on
November 1, 1963, and then in Tampa on November
18, before succeeding in Dallas on November 22.
Since Chicago was home to Rosselli's Mafia
family, Tampa was Trafficante's headquarters, and
Dallas was in Marcello's territory, the risk was
shared between the three bosses. While the
Chicago attempt­thwarted when JFK canceled his
motorcade at the last minute­ was briefly noted
by Congressional investigators in the 1970s, the
attempt to assassinate JFK during his long Tampa
motorcade has never been disclosed in any book or
government report. It was withheld from the
Warren Commission and all later investigations,
even though the Tampa plot was uncovered by
authorities and revealed to JFK before he began
his motorcade ­which he continued, despite the danger.

With C-Day set to begin the following week, JFK
planned to give a speech in Miami just hours
after his trip to Tampa, a speech that included a
message written to the C-Day coup leader in Cuba
that promised him JFK's personal support.[29]
Canceling the Tampa motorcade simply wasn't an
option for JFK or Bobby, even though the
motorcade would reportedly be the longest of
JFK's presidency, slowly making its way past
teeming crowds and many unsecured buildings. Our
interviews with officials from Florida law
enforcement and the Secret Service, supported by
newspaper files and declassified CIA and FBI
documents, reveal that the Tampa attempt to kill
JFK shares a dozen striking parallels to what
happened in Dallas four days later. They include
a young male suspect who was a former defector
with links to both the Fair Play for Cuba
Committee and Russia, just like Lee Harvey
Oswald. As in Dallas, JFK's Tampa motorcade also
included a hard left turn in front of a tall
red-brick building with many unguarded windows­a
key site that officials feared might be used by
snipers to target JFK.

John and Robert Kennedy kept the Tampa
assassination attempt secret at the time, and
Robert Kennedy kept it secret until his death in
1968. The Secret Service, FBI, CIA, and other
agencies have similarly maintained silence about
it, as well as keeping secret other information
about the assassination that might have exposed
the Kennedys' C-Day coup plan. In November 1994,
the authors first informed the JFK Assassination
Review Board about the Tampa assassination
attempt. The Review Board had been created by
Congress in 1992 and appointed by President
Clinton soon after, to release all the JFK
records. But just weeks after we told the Board
about the Tampa attempt, the Secret Service
destroyed their records for that time period.
That does not implicate the Secret Service or the
FBI or the CIA (as an organization) in JFK's
assassination. As the book shows, officials were
forced into such cover-ups because the Mafia
bosses had tied the potentially destabilizing
C-Day plan to their attempts to assassinate JFK
in Chicago, Tampa, and finally Dallas.

Within hours of JFK's assassination, Robert
Kennedy suspected that someone linked to Marcello
and Trafficante, and to C-Day, was involved in
his brother's death. The afternoon of JFK's
death, Robert Kennedy revealed his suspicion to
Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Haynes Johnson,
who was meeting with C-Day exile leader Enrique
"Harry" Ruiz-Williams.[30] Evan Thomas, author of
a biography of Robert Kennedy and a Newsweek
editor, said "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."[31] It has been publicly known only since
1992 that Robert Kennedy told a few close
advisers that New Orleans mob boss Marcello was
behind JFK's assassination, as we confirmed with
Kennedy aide Richard Goodwin. Salon received
additional confirmation of Mafia involvement from
Robert Kennedy's former press secretary, Frank
Mankiewicz, who conducted a secret investigation
of JFK's death for Robert.[32]

Goodwin and Mankiewicz are just two of over a
dozen associates of Robert Kennedy who either
heard his belief in a conspiracy in his brother's
death or who believe in a conspiracy themselves.
Among them are Justice Department prosecutors
Ronald Goldfarb, Robert Blakey, and Walter
Sheridan, as well as Robert's first biographer,
Jack Newfield. Others include JFK's CIA Director
John McCone, the President's personal physician
at his autopsy Admiral George Burkley, and JFK
aides Dave Powers, Kenneth O'Donnell, and Arthur
Schlesinger, Jr.[33] This book adds to that list
Pierre Salinger and Robert's top Cuban exile aide
"Harry" Ruiz-Williams, plus another Kennedy aide
who worked on C-Day. Most of those associates of
Robert Kennedy point to a conspiracy involving
Carlos Marcello or his close allies.

In suspecting that C-Day was such a powerful
weapon, history has proven the Mafia bosses
correct. 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 bring a sense of reassurance that this
really was the work of a lone gunman."[34]

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 issue their
final report just ten months after JFK's death.
"There was a cover-up," 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
reasons­because 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.[35]

It was not until 2004 that Joseph Califano,
assistant to Secretary of the Army Cyrus Vance in
1963, briefly hinted at the sensitive operation
that Robert Kennedy had managed and had withheld
from the Warren Commission. Califano wrote: "No
one on the Warren Commission . . . talked to me
or (so far as I know) anyone else involved in the
covert attacks on Castro. . . . The Commission
was not informed of any of the efforts of Desmond
FitzGerald, the CIA and Robert Kennedy to
eliminate Castro and stage a coup" in the fall of 1963.[36]

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.[37]
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 CDay 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.[38] 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.[39] The
C-Day documents that have been released show just
the tip of the iceberg, often filled with the
names of CIA assets and operations whose files
have never been released, even to Congressional

Part Three of Ultimate Sacrifice shows how C-Day
affected history and continues to impact American
lives. It provides a new perspective on LBJ's
operations against Cuba, and how they impacted
the war in Vietnam. Ultimate Sacrifice casts
Watergate in a whole new light since it involved
a dozen people linked to various aspects of C-Day.

On a more personal level, Ultimate Sacrifice also
solves the tragedy of Abraham Bolden, the first
black Presidential Secret Service agent, who was
framed by the Mafia and sent to prison when he
tried to tell the Warren Commission about the
Chicago and Tampa assassination attempts against
JFK. His career and life ruined, Bolden has spent
the last forty years seeking a pardon.[40] Now,
new information from the CIA and other sources
shows that the man behind Bolden's framing was an
associate of Rosselli and Trafficante, someone
linked to JFK's assassination who had penetrated
C-Day while working for the Mafia.

JFK made the ultimate sacrifice in his quest to
bring democracy to Cuba using C-Day. Instead of
staying safely in the White House, he put his own
life on the line, first in Tampa and finally in
Dallas. It has long been known that JFK talked
about his own assassination the morning before he
was shot. He commented to an aide about how easy
it would be for someone to shoot him from a
building with a high-powered rifle. Just hours
earlier, JFK had demonstrated to his wife Jackie
how easily someone could have shot him with a
pistol.[41] We now know the reason for JFK's
comments, since he knew that assailants from
Chicago and Tampa were still at large, and that
he himself was getting ready to stage a coup
against Castro the following week.

John Kennedy once said: "A man does what he
must­in spite of personal consequences, in spite
of obstacles and dangers." He didn't just mouth
the slogan that Americans should be willing to
"pay any price" and "bear any burden"­he paid the
highest price, making the ultimate sacrifice a
leader can make for his country. JFK had always
been obsessed with courage, from PT-109 to
Profiles in Courage to his steely resolve during
the Cuban Missile Crisis.[42] So it's not
surprising that he died as he had lived,
demonstrating the courage that had obsessed him
all his life, and making the ultimate sacrifice
for his country.

Until 1988, we had no more interest in the JFK
assassination than the average person­but the
twenty-fifth anniversary of the JFK assassination
spawned numerous books and articles, many of
which focused on evidence that a conspiracy was
involved in JFK's death. The only question seemed
to be: Which conspiracy? Conspirators included
anti-Castro forces, elements of the CIA, and the
Mafia. We started to look more closely at what
had already been published about the
assassination. We felt that a book focused solely
on Bobby Kennedy's battles against the Mafia and
against Castro in 1963 might also yield some
interesting perspectives on the JFK
assassination. We expected the research to
require reading a dozen books, looking at a few
hundred documents, and trying to interview some
Kennedy associates­something that might take a
year at most. That was seventeen years, dozens of
sources, hundreds of books, and hundreds of
thousands of documents ago.

We started by looking at the work of the six
government commissions (the Review Board had not
yet been created) and focused on areas that
previous writers hadn't been able to fully
explore. When we compiled all that data into a
massive database, we realized that their findings
weren't mutually exclusive at all­in fact, when
their data was grouped together, it filled in
gaps and told a coherent story. Putting all their
data together didn't make the conspiracy bigger,
as one might have expected. It actually made it
smaller, since it became clear­for example­that
one conspirator could be a Cuban exile, a CIA
asset, and also work for the Mafia. However, we
were stymied because much key information was
still classified, much of it involving anti-
Castro operations and associates of godfathers
such as Carlos Marcello. We needed to find
someone who knew the information and would talk,
or some type of document the government couldn't
classify top secret­a newspaper, for instance.

Our first break came the day we discovered an
article in the Washington Post dated October 17,
1989 about the tragic death of Pepe San Roman,
the Cuban exile who had led the Kennedys'
ill-fated Bay of Pigs invasion. One sentence
caught our attention: It said that in 1963,
Pepe's brother had been "sent by Robert Kennedy
to Central American countries to seek aid for a
second invasion" of Cuba.[43] We were puzzled. A
"second invasion" of Cuba in 1963? Surely it must
be wrong. None of the history books or government
committees had ever mentioned a US invasion of
Cuba planned for 1963. But a check of newspaper
files from the summer and fall of 1963 uncovered
a few articles confirming that there had been
activity by Kennedy-backed Cuban exiles in Central
America at that time.

In January 1990, we arranged to interview JFK's
Secretary of State, Dean Rusk. When we asked him
about the "second invasion" of Cuba in 1963, he
confirmed that indeed there were such plans. They
weren't the same as the CIA-Mafia plots, which he
only learned about later. Nor were they the CIA's
assassination plot with a mid-level Cuban
official named Rolando Cubela. Rusk described the
"second invasion" as a "coup" and said that it
wasn't going to be just some Cuban exiles in
boats like the Bay of Pigs, but would involve the
US military. Rusk indicated that the "second
invasion" plans were active at the time JFK died
in November 1963 and that the plan was personally
controlled by Bobby Kennedy, but that he, Rusk,
hadn't learned about it until just after JFK's death.

We theorized that there might be some connection
between JFK's assassination and the second
invasion of Cuba. We asked ourselves why Bobby
would cover up crucial information about his own
brother's murder­especially if he thought
Marcello was behind it. What could be more
important than exposing his brother's killers?
Well, during the Cold War, one thing that would
be more important than the death of a president
would be the deaths of millions of Americans in a
nuclear exchange with the Soviets. Revealing such
a plan after JFK's death, just a year after the
tense nuclear standoff of the Cuban Missile
Crisis, could have easily sparked a serious and
dangerous confrontation with the Soviets. That
fear could explain why so much about JFK's
assassination had been covered up for so long. At
the time, this was a very novel hypothesis, but
we agreed that it made sense in light of what we
had uncovered so far.

Slowly, over the next few years, we found
scattered pieces of evidence. For example, at the
National Security Archive in Washington, we found
a partially censored memo from one of Bobby
Kennedy's secretive subcommittees of the National
Security Council that discussed "Contingency
Plans" in case Fidel Castro retaliated against
the US by attempting the "assassination of
American officials." The memo was written just
ten days before JFK's assassination, and talked
about "the likelihood of a step-up in
Castro-incited subversion and violence" in
response to some US action.[44] The document had
been declassified a year after the HSCA had
finished its work, and had never been seen by any
of the government commissions that had investigated
the assassination.

We were shocked when Dave Powers, head of the
John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston
and a close aide to JFK, vividly described seeing
the shots from the "grassy knoll." Powers said he
and fellow JFK aide Kenneth O'Donnell clearly saw
the shots, since they were in the limo right
behind JFK. Powers said they felt they were
"riding into an ambush"­explaining for the first
time why the driver of JFK's limo slowed after
the first shot. Powers also described how he was
pressured to change his story for the Warren
Commission.[45] We quickly found confirmation of
Power's account of the shots in the autobiography
of former House Speaker Tip O'Neill (and later,
from the testimony of two Secret Service agents
in the motorcade with Powers and O'Donnell).[46]

Months after talking with Powers, we made another
startling discovery: a planned attempt to kill
JFK during his Tampa motorcade on November 18,
1963. It was mentioned in only two small Florida
newspaper articles, each in just one edition of
the newspaper and then only after JFK was killed
in Dallas. Nothing appeared at the time of the
threat, even though authorities had uncovered the
plot prior to JFK's motorcade. It was clear that
someone had suppressed the story.

We decided to pursue Cuban exile and Bay of Pigs
veteran Enrique Ruiz-Williams, who had been
interviewed by former FBI agent William Turner in
1973. Williams had told Turner that he had been
working on the plan with high CIA officials in
Washington­something rare for Cuban exiles­on
November 22, 1963. The timing was right, since
Rusk had told us that the coup/invasion plan was
active when JFK died. A former Kennedy aide
confirmed Williams's connection to Bobby and the
CIA to William Turner. We eventually found Harry
Williams, and in a most unlikely place: the snowy
mountains of Colorado, about as far from the
tropical climate of his native Cuba as one could
imagine. Thoughtful and highly intelligent, he
quickly grasped that we had done our homework and
already knew many of the pieces of the
puzzle­just not how they all fit together. Then
in the twilight of his life, he wanted to see the
truth come out, as long as the spotlight was kept
away from him.

By the end of our second interview on that first
trip, Harry had given us a detailed overview of
the Kennedys' secret plan to overthrow Castro on
December 1, 1963 and how it was connected to
JFK's assassination. We finally understood how
associates of Marcello, Trafficante, and Rosselli
had learned of the plan and used parts of it
against JFK­forcing Bobby Kennedy and key
government officials into a much larger cover-up,
to protect national security. After getting the
overview of C-Day from Harry­and more details
from the Kennedy associates he led us to­we were
able to make sense of previously released
documents that had baffled investigators for
decades. In 1993 we gave a short presentation of
our discoveries at a historical conference in
Dallas that included top historians, journalists,
and former government investigators. Some of
those experts were able not only to get
additional documents released by the Review
Board, but also to provide us with additional
information that they had previously uncovered.
In 1994, a brief summary of our findings was
featured on the History Channel and in Vanity
Fair. In November 1994, we gave the Review Board
written testimony about our discovery of the
Tampa assassination attempt and the Kennedys'
C-Day "Plan for a Coup in Cuba in the Fall of
1963" (the quote is from our actual submission).
Three years later, in 1997, the Review Board
located and released a trove of documents
confirming what Harry had told us about CDay,
including the first declassified documents from
fall 1963 entitled "Plan for a Coup in Cuba." It
was only in 1998, after the Review Board had
finished its work and submitted its final report
to the president and Congress, that we learned
that the Secret Service had destroyed records
covering the Tampa attempt just weeks after we
first revealed it to the Review Board.

It took us fifteen years to uncover the full
story, bringing together all these files and
obscure articles in one place­and that was only
because we were able to build on decades of work
by dedicated historians, journalists, and
government investigators. We also had the help of
almost two dozen people who had worked with John
or Robert Kennedy, who told us what files to look
for and gave us the framework for C-Day,
especially Harry Williams. Now we can tell the
full story in much more detail, quoting directly
from hundreds of government documents from the
National Archives. These files, many quoted for
the first time, verify everything Kennedy
insiders had told us, long before most of those
files were released. The files support what we
said publicly over ten years ago, to the Review
Board, to the History Channel, and in Vanity
Fair. Some of the very records that prove C-Day's
existence also show connections between C-Day and
JFK's assassination, and how C-Day was penetrated
by the associates of Mafia bosses Carlos
Marcello, Santo Trafficante, and Johnny Rosselli.

The secrecy surrounding the Kennedys' fall 1963
coup plan­and the Mafia's penetration of
it­created most of the continuing controversies
about the JFK assassination. Was Lee Harvey
Oswald an innocent patsy, an active participant
in the conspiracy to kill JFK, or a participant
in a US intelligence operation that went awry? As
we lay out the evidence about C-Day, and how the
Mafia used it to kill JFK, it will answer that
and other questions that have long baffled
historians, investigators, and the public.

All the secrecy that shrouded C-Day in 1963, and
in the decades since, has had a tremendous impact
on American life and politics. While much of the
ensuing cover-up of C-Day and its links to JFK's
assassination had a legitimate basis in national
security, we also document which agencies covered
up critical intelligence failures that allowed
JFK's assassination to happen. Since C-Day was
never exposed, and its lessons never learned, its
legacy has continued to harm US relations and
intelligence. Ultimate Sacrifice shows how the
ongoing secrecy surrounding C-Day and the JFK
assassination has continued to cost American lives.

* * *

About sources, quotes, and interviews: All
government documents cited in these endnotes have
been declassified and are available at the
National Archives facility in College Park, Md.,
near Washington, D.C. Information about many of
them, and full copies of a few, are available at
the National Archives and Records Administration
Web site. Regarding interviews conducted by the
authors for this book, for brevity we have used
"we" to refer to interviews conducted by the
authors, even if only one of us was present for a
particular interview. Within quotes in the book,
we have sometimes standardized names (such as
"Harry Williams") for clarity.

1. Army copy of Department of State document,
1963, Record Number 198-10004-10072, Califano
Papers, Declassified 7-24- 97. CIA memo, AMWORLD
11-22-63, #84804, declassified 1993.
2. The last government committee, The
Assassinations Records Review Board, was finally
unofficially informed of the Coup Plan by one of
the authors, via written testimony sent on
11-9-94 for the Review Board's 11-18-94 public
hearing in Dallas, as noted in the Board's FY
1995 Report. The earlier committees were the
Warren Commission, the Watergate Committee, the
Rockefeller Commission, the Pike Committee (and
its predecessor, the Nedzi Committee), the Church
Committee, and the House Select Committee on Assassinations.
3. "A Presumption of Disclosure: Lessons from the
John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Review
Board," by OMB Watch, available at ombwatch.com.
4. NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw 9-29-98.
5. John F. Kennedy address at Rice University,
9-12-62, from Public Papers of the Presidents of
the United States, v. 1, 1962, pp. 669-670.
6. Army document, Summary of plan dated 9-26-63,
Califano Papers, Record Number 198-10004-10001, declassified 10-7-97.
7. Army copy of Department of State document,
1963, Record Number 198-10004-10072, Califano Papers, Declassified 7-24-97.
8. Army document, Summary of plan dated 9-26-63,
Califano Papers, Record Number 198-10004-10001, declassified 10-7-97.
9. Interview with Harry Williams 7-24-93;
interview with confidential C-Day Defense Dept.
source 7-6-92; classified message to Director
from JMWAVE, CIA/DCD Document ID withheld to
protect US intelligence asset but declassified 3-94.
10. The following is just one of many: Joint
Chiefs of Staff document, dated 12-4-63 with
11-30-63 report from Cyrus Vance, Record Number
202-10002-101116, declassified 10-7-97.
11. CIA cable to Director, 12-10-63, CIA
104-10076-10252, declassified 8-95; David Corn,
Blond Ghost: Ted Shackley and the CIA's Crusades
(New York: Simon & Schuster, 1994), p. 110.
12. House Select Committee on Assassinations vol. X, p. 77.
13. Interview with Harry Williams 2-24-92;
interview with confidential Kennedy C-Day aide
source 3-17-92; interview with confidential C-Day Defense Dept. source 
14. Interview with Dean Rusk 1-8-90.
15. Foreign Relations of the United States,
Volume XI, Department of State, #370, 10-8-63;
12-6-63 CIA Document, from JMWAVE to Director,
released during the 1993 CIA Historical Review Program.
16. From the John F. Kennedy Presidential
Library, NLK 78-473, declassified 5-6-80.
17. John H. Davis, Mafia Kingfish: Carlos
Marcello and the Assassination of John F. Kennedy
(New York: McGraw-Hill, 1989), pp. 49, 64, many others.
18. Ibid.
19. FBI DL 183A-1f035-Sub L 3.6.86 and FBI Dallas
175-109 3.3.89, cited by A. J. Weberman; CR
137A-5467-69, 6-9-88, cited by Brad O'Leary and
L. E. Seymour, Triangle of Death (Nashville: WND Books, 2003).
20. David Talbot, "The man who solved the Kennedy
assassination," Salon.com, 11-22-03.
21. Jack Newfield, "I want Kennedy killed,"
Penthouse 5-92; Frank Ragano and Selwyn Raab, Mob
Lawyer (New York: Scribners, 1994), pp. 346-54,
361; "Truth or Fiction?" St. Petersburg Times,
4-18-94. Charles Rappleye and Ed Becker, All
American Mafioso: The Johnny Rosselli Story (New York: Barricade, 1995).
22. William Scott Malone, "The Secret Life of
Jack Ruby," New Times 1-23-78; Bradley Ayers, The
War that Never Was: An Insider's Account of CIA
Covert Operations Against Cuba (Canoga Park,
Calif.: Major Books, 1979), pp. 59, 129; The
CIA's Inspector General's Report on the CIA-Mafia plots.
23. Malone, op. cit.; HSCA Final Report and volumes, many passages.
24. Phone interviews with Pierre Salinger 4-3-98,
4-10-98; interview with confidential source 4-14-98.
25. Warren Commission Exhibit #2818. (In
mid-December 1963, after JFK's death and LBJ put
C-Day on hold, Ruby placed the date for the invasion in May 1964.)
26. Atlanta Journal-Constitution 5-19-02, pp.
C-1, C-6; John Sugg, "Time to Pull the Sharks'
Teeth," Creative Loafing weekly newspaper, Atlanta edition, 12-11-03, p. 27.
27. G. Robert Blakey and Richard N. Billings, The
Plot to Kill the President (New York: Times Books, 1981), p. 288.
28. Charles Rappleye and Ed Becker, All American
Mafioso (New York: Barricade, 1995), p. 315.
29. Church Committee Report, Vol. V, officially
The Investigation of the Assassination of
President John F. Kennedy: Performance of the
Intelligence Agencies, pp. 19-21; 8-30-77 CIA
document, "Breckinridge Task Force" report,
commenting on Church Committee Report, Vol. V,
document ID 1993.07.27.18:36:29:430590,
declassified 1993; Thomas G. Paterson, Contesting
Castro: The United States and the Triumph of the
Cuban Revolution (New York: Oxford University
Press, 1994), p. 261, citing Bundy memo, "Meeting
with the President," Dec. 19, 1963; Arthur
Schlesinger, Jr., Robert Kennedy and His Times
(New York: Ballantine, 1979), p. 598; Gus Russo,
Live by the Sword: The Secret War against Castro
and the Death of JFK (Baltimore: Bancroft Press, 1978), p. 278.
30. Haynes Johnson, "One Day's Events Shattered
America's Hopes and Certainties," Washington Post 11-20-83.
31. ABCNEWS.com, 11-20-03, "A Brother's Pain," interview with Evan Thomas.
32. Phone interviews with Pierre Salinger 4-3-98,
4-10-98; interview with confidential source 4-14-98.
33. Re: Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., Parade
magazine 6-7-98 citing Jack Newfield; re McCone:
Schlesinger, op. cit., p. 664; Blakey, op. cit.,
many passages; re Sheridan: John H. Davis, The
Kennedy Contract (New York: Harper Paperbacks,
1993), p. 154, and Evan Thomas, Robert Kennedy,
p. 338; re O'Donnell: William Novak, Man of the
House: The Life and Political Memoirs of Speaker
Tip O'Neil (New York: Random House, 1987), p.
178; Jack Newfield, "I want Kennedy killed,"
Penthouse 5-92; re Burkley, Gus Russo, Live by
the Sword (Baltimore: Bancroft Press, 1978), p.
49; Ronald Goldfarb, Perfect Villains, Imperfect
Heroes: Robert F. Kennedy's War against Organized
Crime (New York: Random House), pp. 258-299.
34. ABCNEWS.com, op. cit.
35. Ibid.
36. Joseph A. Califano, Jr., Inside: A Public and
Private Life (New York: Public Affairs, 2004), p. 125.
37. In addition, the predecessor of the Pike
Committee­the Nedzi Committee­got close to
aspects of JFK's assassination and C-Day when it
investigated CIA activities during Watergate.
38. The following document was "systematically
reviewed by JCS on 19 Oct 1989 Classification
continued"­Joint Chiefs of Staff document, dated
12-4-63 with 11-30-63 report from Cyrus Vance, 80
total pages, Record Number 202-10002- 101116, declassified 10-7-97.
39. "A Presumption of Disclosure: Lessons from
the John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Review
Board," by OMB Watch, available at ombwatch.com.
40. Interview with ex-Secret Service Agent
Abraham Bolden 4-15-98; House Select Committee on
Assassinations Report 231, 232, 636, New York
Times 12-6-67; Abraham Bolden file at the
Assassination Archives and Research Center.
41. Michael R. Beschloss, The Crisis Years:
Kennedy and Khrushchev, 1960-1963 (New York:
Edward Burlingame Books, 1991) pp. 670, 671.
42. John Mitchell­the commander of JFK's PT boat
unit­would become attorney general under Nixon,
before his conviction due to a scandal related to C-Day.
43. Myra MacPherson, "The Last Casualty of the
Bay of Pigs," Washington Post 10-17-89.
44. From the John F. Kennedy Presidential
Library, NLK 78-473, declassified 5-6-80; article
by Tad Szulc in the Boston Globe 5-28- 76 and a
slightly different version of the same article in The New Republic 6-5-76
45. Interview with Dave Powers 6-5-91 at the John
F. Kennedy Presidential Library.
46. Novak, op. cit., p. 178.

* * *

Thom Hartmann and Lamar Waldron


Thom Hartmann is a progressive talk radio host
and writes, among other things,
the http://www.buzzflash.com/hartmann/default.htm
"Independent Thinker Book of the Month" reviews
for BuzzFlash. Lamar Waldron is an Atlanta-based
writer and historical researcher.

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