An article printed in the Baltimore Sun
by Scott Shane
on April 24, 2001 suggests that in the past the US government has thought of creating a terrorist attack on US citizens or millitary personel in order to create a patriotic upsurge.
The article details a book about the NSA
and its 1962 plans to commit a terorist attack against Americans and then blame Cuba
to create a pretext for an invasion of Cuba.
"We could develop a Communist
Cuban terror campaign in the Miami
area, in other Florida
cities and even in Washington
," said one
document reportedly prepared by the Joint Chiefs of Staff
could blow up a U.S. ship in Guantanamo Bay
and blame Cuba," the
document says. "Casualty lists in U.S. newspapers would cause a
helpful wave of indignation."
The plan was laid out in documents signed by the five Joint
Chiefs but never carried out, according to writer James Bamford
in "Body of Secrets
" published by Doubleday
Bamford, was an investigative reporter for ABC News
. He wrote
"The Puzzle Palace
" about the NSA in 1982 and has said the new book is based mostly on documents obtained through the Freedom of
or found in government archives. "NSA never
handed me any documents," he said. "It was a question of
He said he was most surprised by the anti-Cuba terror plan,
code-named Operation Northwoods
. It "may be the most corrupt
plan ever created by the U.S. government," he writes.
"We could sink a boatload of Cubans en route to Florida (real or
simulated). ... We could foster attempts on lives of Cubans in
the United States, even to the extent of wounding in instances
to be widely publicized," the document says. Another idea was to
shoot down a CIA plane designed to replicate a passenger flight
and announce that Cuban forces shot it down.
Army Gen. Lyman L. Lemnitzer, chairman of the Joint Chiefs,
presented the Operation Northwoods plan to Kennedy early in
1962, but the president rejected it that March because he wanted
no overt U.S. military action against Cuba. Lemnitzer then
sought unsuccessfully to destroy all evidence of the plan,
according to Bamford.
Lemnitzer and those who served with him in 1962 as chiefs of the
nation's military branches are dead. But two former top Kennedy
administration officials said yesterday that they were unaware
of Operation Northwoods and questioned whether such a plan was
"I've never heard of Operation Northwoods. Never heard of it and
don't believe it," said Theodore Sorenson
, Kennedy's White House
special counsel. "Obviously, it would be totally illegal as well
as totally unwise."
Robert S. McNamara
, Kennedy's defense secretary, said: "I never
heard of it. I can't believe the chiefs were talking about or
engaged in what I would call CIA
"There may be a piece of paper" on Northwoods, said McNamara. "I
just cannot conceive of Nitze approving anything like that or
doing it without talking to me."
The book contains many other revelations in its detailed account
of NSA, the biggest U.S. intelligence agency
largest employer, with more than 25,000 personnel at Fort Meade
site of its global eavesdropping efforts.
In recent years, NSA has regularly listened to Osama bin Laden
unencrypted telephone calls. Agency officials have sometimes
played tapes of bin Laden talking to his mother to impress
members of Congress
and select visitors to the agency.
In the late 1990s, NSA tracked efforts by Chinese
companies to sell missile technology to Iran
, particularly the
C-802 anti-ship missile
. The eavesdropping led to U.S. protests
to the Chinese and French governments.
When U.S. troops evacuated Vietnam
in 1975, "an entire warehouse
overflowing with NSA's most important cryptographic machines and
other supersensitive code and cipher materials" was left behind.
It was the largest compromise of such equipment in U.S. history,
Bamford writes, but the agency still has not acknowledged it.
fighter jets attacked the NSA eavesdropping ship
in the Mediterranean
in 1967, killing 34 Americans
and wounding 171, an NSA aircraft was listening in and heard
Israeli pilots referring to the American flag on the ship. U.S.
officials, including President Lyndon Baines Johnson
, decided to
forget the matter, Bamford writes, because they did not want to
embarrass Israel. To this day, Israeli officials say their
forces mistakenly attacked the U.S. ship.
Bamford says the reason for the strike was Israel's desperate
effort to cover up its attacks on the Egypt
ian town of El Arish
in the Sinai
. The Liberty was sitting offshore and the Israelis
feared that the ship would detect the operation, which included
the shooting of prisoners.
Yesterday, an NSA spokesperson questioned a point made in the
book about the USS Liberty.
"We do not comment on operational matters, alleged or otherwise;
however, Mr. Bamford's claim that the NSA leadership was
`virtually unanimous in their belief that the attack was
deliberate' is simply not true," the spokesperson said.
When he wrote "The Puzzle Palace" in 1982, Bamford was attacked
by some NSA officials, who said his revelations gave the Soviet
and other U.S. adversaries too much information on the
secret agency. One former director referred to him as "an
many quotes and other sections taken from the Baltimore Sun's article...