Rafael (Chi Chi) Quintero was born in Cuba on 16th September 1940. As a young student he joined the underground resistance and went to the Sierra Maestra to join Fidel Castro just 72 hours before the triumph of the revolution.
In 1959 Manuel Artime emerged as a leading anti-Communist in Cuba. He worked closely with the Catholic University Association (CUA). Later that year he moved to the Manzanillo region where he joined up with Carlos Prio and Tony Varona. Quintero, who had become disillusioned with the new Cuban government, joined Artime in his struggle against Castro.
According to Fabian Escalante (CIA Covert Operations: 1959-62) Artime's rebellion was organized by Frank Sturgis and the Central Intelligence Agency. On 21st October, 1959, Artime arranged for Sturgis, flying a CIA plane, to drop thousands of leaflets over Havana, calling for the population to rise up against the revolution. When this did not happen, Artime fled from the country with a "hundred thousand pesos of funds under his control". The following month Quintero moved to the United States.
Along with Manuel Artime, Tony Varona, Aureliano Arango and Jose Cardona, Quintero established the Movement for the Recovery of the Revolution (MRR Party). Quintero also joined Operation 40. One member, Frank Sturgis, claimed "this assassination group (Operation 40) would upon orders, naturally, assassinate either members of the military or the political parties of the foreign country that you were going to infiltrate, and if necessary some of your own members who were suspected of being foreign agents... We were concentrating strictly in Cuba at that particular time."
In an article published in the The Intelligencer: Journal of U.S. Intelligence Studies (2008) Don Bohning, a CIA asset (code-name AMCARBON-3) insists that Quintero was never a member of Operation 40. He adds that Quintero "is among those who expressed concern because of the vast files of information the group collected on the Cuban community and the potential for blackmail with that information."
Other anti-Castro Cubans who became members of Operation 40 included Antonio Veciana, Luis Posada, Orlando Bosch, Roland Masferrer, Eladio del Valle, Guillermo Novo, Rafael Villaverde, Carlos Bringuier, Eugenio Martinez, Antonio Cuesta, Hermino Diaz Garcia, Barry Seal, Felix Rodriguez, Ricardo Morales Navarrete, Juan Manuel Salvat, Isidro Borjas, Virgilio Paz, Jose Dionisio Suarez, Felipe Rivero, Gaspar Jimenez Escobedo, Nazario Sargent, Pedro Luis Diaz Lanz, Jose Basulto, and Paulino Sierra.
Quintero was smuggled back into Cuba in 1961 but was arrested just before the Bay of Pigs invasion. He expected to be executed by suprisingly he was released and was allowed to return to the United States. By 1962 Quintero was serving as deputy leader of the MRR under the leadership of Manuel Artime.
In 1963 Manuel Artime obtained funds from the CIA via Ted Shackley head of the JM/WAVE station in Florida. Artime, Quintero and Felix Rodriguez moved to Nicaragua where they formed a 300 man army. They also covertly acquired arms, supplies and boats for an invasion of Cuba. According to David Corn (Blond Ghost): "The CIA trained Artime's men as Artime pulled together a small navy, obtained several planes, and collected over 200 tons of American-made arms. The CIA budget for Artime's war would come to total $7 million." The invasion of Cuba never took place. After the assassination of John F. Kennedy, President Lyndon B. Johnson cancelled what had become known as the Second Naval Guerrilla operation.
In 1966 Ted Shackley was placed in charge of the CIA secret war in Laos. He appointed Thomas G. Clines as his deputy. He also took Rafael Quintero, Carl E. Jenkins, David Sanchez Morales, Rafael Quintero, Rafael Villaverde, Felix I. Rodriguez and Edwin Wilson with him to Laos.
According to Joel Bainerman (Crimes of a President) it was at this point that Shackley and his "Secret Team" became involved in the drug trade. They did this via General Vang Pao, the leader of the anti-communist forces in Laos. Vang Pao was a major figure in the opium trade in Laos. To help him Shackley used his CIA officials and assets to sabotage the competitors. Eventually Vang Pao had a monopoly over the country's heroin trade. In 1967 Shackley and Clines helped Vang Pao to obtain financial backing to form his own airline, Zieng Khouang Air Transport Company, to transport opium and heroin between Long Tieng and Vientiane.
In 1976 Quintero was recruited by CIA agent, Edwin Wilson, to kill a Libyan dissident in Egypt. Quintero selected two brothers, Raoul and Rafael Villaverde, to carry out the killing. Four days before the assassination of Orlando Letelier, the Villaverde brothers returned to the United States. On 21st September, the day that Letelier was killed, Wilson phoned Quintero in Miami to call off the operation.
Quintero was then recruited by Thomas G. Clines. This included helping Anastasio Somoza to develop a counter-subversion program in Nicaragua. When this program came to an end, Quintero joined with Clines and Ricardo Chavez to establish API Distributors.
In October, 1985, Congress agreed to vote 27 million dollars in non-lethal aid for the Contras in Nicaragua. However, members of the Ronald Reagan administration decided to use this money to provide weapons to the Contras and the Mujahideen in Afghanistan. Gene Wheaton was recruited to use National Air to transport these weapons. He agreed but began to have second thoughts when he discovered that Richard Secord was involved in the operation and in May 1986 Wheaton told William Casey, director of the CIA, about what he knew about this illegal operation. Casey refused to take any action, claiming that the agency or the government were not involved in what later became known as Irangate.
Gene Wheaton now took his story to Daniel Sheehan, a left-wing lawyer. Wheaton told him that Tom Clines and Ted Shackley had been running a top-secret assassination unit since the early 1960s. According to Wheaton, it had begun with an assassination training program for Cuban exiles and the original target had been Fidel Castro. Wheaton also contacted Newt Royce and Mike Acoca, two journalists based in Washington. The first article on this scandal appeared in the San Francisco Examiner on 27th July, 1986. As a result of this story, Congressman Dante Facell wrote a letter to the Secretary of Defense, Casper Weinberger, asking him if it "true that foreign money, kickback money on programs, was being used to fund foreign covert operations." Two months later, Weinberger denied that the government knew about this illegal operation.
On 5th October, 1986, a Sandinista patrol in Nicaragua shot down a C-123K cargo plane that was supplying the Contras. Eugene Hasenfus, an Air America veteran, survived the crash and told his captors that he thought the CIA was behind the operation. He also provided information on two Cuban-Americans running the operation in El Salvador. This resulted in journalists being able to identify Raphael Quintero and Felix Rodriguez as the two Cuban-Americans mentioned by Hasenfus. It gradually emerged that Clines, Oliver North, Edwin Wilson and Richard Secord were also involved in this conspiracy to provide arms to the Contras.
On 12th December, 1986, Daniel Sheehan submitted to the court an affidavit detailing the Irangate scandal. He also claimed that Tom Clines and Ted Shackley were running a private assassination program that had evolved from projects they ran while working for the CIA. Others named as being part of this assassination team included Raphael Quintero, Richard Secord, Felix Rodriguez and Albert Hakim.
It later emerged that Gene Wheaton and Carl E. Jenkins were the two main sources for this affidavit. It was eventually discovered that President Ronald Reagan had sold arms to Iran. The money gained from these sales was used to provide support for the Contras, a group of guerrillas engaged in an insurgency against the elected socialist Sandinista government of Nicaragua. Both the sale of these weapons and the funding of the Contras violated administration policy as well as legislation passed by Congress.On 23rd June, 1988, Judge James L. King ruled that Sheehan's allegations were "based on unsubstantiated rumor and speculation from unidentified sources with no firsthand knowledge". In February, 1989, Judge King ruled that Sheenan had brought a frivolous lawsuit and ordered his Christic Institute to pay the defendants $955,000. This was one of the highest sanction orders in history and represented four times the total assets of the Christic Institute.
In an interview with William Law and Mark Sobel in 2005, Gene Wheaton claimed that Rafael Quintero and Carl Jenkins were both involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Wheaton was told by Jenkins and Quintero that the CIA team of gunmen being trained to kill Fidel Castro was turned on Kennedy as punishment for his failure to overthrow the Cuban leader. The video of him being interviewed in 2005 has recently been uploaded to YouTube.
John Simkin attempted to contact Quintero via his close friend Don Bohning. Quintero refused to be interviewed but he did say that Gene Wheaton was telling the truth as "he knew it". His explanation of Wheaton's story was that he and Carl Jenkins had been lying to him when they said they were involved in the assassination. However, Quintero was once quoted as saying: “If I were ever granted immunity, and compelled to testify about past actions, about Dallas and the Bay of Pigs, it would be the biggest scandal ever to rock the United States.”
In an article published in Granma on 15th January, 2006, the journalists Reinaldo Taladrid and Lazaro Baredo argued that “Another of Bush’s recruits for the Bay of Pigs invasion, Rafael Quintero, who was also part of this underworld of organizations and conspiracies against Cuba, stated: If I was to tell what I know about Dallas and the Bay of Pigs, it would be the greatest scandal that has ever rocked the nation."
Rafael Quintero suffered from poor health. For several years he had been on dialysis three hours a day, three days a week. An earlier kidney transplant had been unsuccessful. A second transplant took place in May in Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins Medical Center. He returned to Miami but the second kidney transplant was also unsuccessful and in July he returned to Baltimore where he died on 1st October, 2006.
The media, most notably the New York Times and the New Republic, leaked word that Cubans were training for an imminent invasion. When he read Tad Szulc's New York Times article, "Anti-Castro Units Trained to Fight at Florida Bases," JFK fumed, "Castro doesn't need agents over here. All he has to do is read our papers."
In fact, Castro agents had already infiltrated every aspect of the Bay of Pigs operation. Former CIA executive assistant Lyman Kirkpatrick, Jr. wrote that, "the leaks about the operation from its very inception were horrendous."" Philip Bonsal, former U.S. Ambassador to Cuba, recalled, "The nature of the activities and the number of people involved made concealment impossible. I assume that Castro's intelligence service knew of the project within weeks, perhaps days, of the operation."
"Raphael "Chi Chi" Quintero, a Brigade leader at the camps, was one of the first to arrive at the training base. "We definitely had spies at the [Bay of Pigs] training camps [in Nicaragua]," he recently affirmed. One of the few who was there before Quintero was later found to be a Castro spy. "This man actually helped construct the camps," says Quintero. "One month after the Bay of Pigs invasion, I secretly infiltrated to Cuba and saw this same man working in Castro's security force."
I had the luck to become a good friend of Bob Kennedy... I was involved in the operation with Artime in Central America.... Bob Kennedy was obsessed.... He had to get even with Castro... He mentioned this often to me and was very clear about it. He was not going to try to eliminate Castro because he was an ideological guy... He was going to do it because the Kennedy name had been humiliated.... He mentioned it clearly to me one day - we went to the circus together and he mentioned it to me.
Sam Halpern, who worked at the CIA for Desmond FitzGerald, told Russo that "we provided the dough... Bobby (Kennedy) knew everything we were doing. We were doing it under his orders. The Cubans got all the money they needed." And one of C-Day leader Manuel Artime's deputies, Raphael Quintero, said, in 1997, "Bobby Kennedy was the creator of this operation... it was much like Oliver North's (Iran-Contra) operation-autonomous of the CIA, and run by the White House." Russo notes that Quintero was well qualified to make the comparison between Artime and North, since Quintero "would become a major player in North's... Iran-Contra... scheme of the 1980's," an operation that involved several C-Day veterans. Shortly before his death in 1977, Artime told a reporter for the Orlando Sentinel-Star that "I was protected by Bob (Kennedy) until his brother was assassinated. He met with me personally in the offices of the Attorney General. He kept in touch with the entire operation."
As JMWAVE's fight against Castro continued, so did Shackley's less noisy espionage program. Castro's immediate circle remained an elusive target. After the missile crisis, returns from JMWAVE deteriorated. Enhanced Cuban security rendered agent recruitment more difficult. Many reporting assets in Cuba faded in productivity; many fled the island. The Cuban government routinely announced captures of CIA teams, declining to recognize the distinction between Agency-sanctioned operatives and freelancers. Those convicted of being CIA agents were sentenced to long prison terms and, in some cases, death.
In Miami the feds chased after anti-Castro weekend warriors not affiliated with Shackley's station, often pursuing them in high-speed boat chases throughout the waterways of southern Florida. But the CIA had its favorite exiles, upon whom it lavished much support - and the most prominent recipient of CIA largess was Manuel Artime, a Bay of Pigs veteran who led the Movement to Recover the Revolution (MRR). In early 1963, Artime set up four bases in Costa Rica and Nicaragua, in preparation for another exile military campaign against Castro. As much as there was a plan, it called for MRR to carry out scores of acts of sabotage with the goals of harassing Castro, hindering shipping, provoking resistance inside Cuba, and perhaps assassinating the man. That spring, Artime and Rafael Quintero, a onetime CIA operative and now Artime's deputy, were telling other expatriates that Bobby Kennedy and the President were behind their program.
Wheaton began by telling me he would only give me limited information over the telephone although he was willing to meet me face to face to provide as much information as he had. He said he had no physical proof of what he would eventually tell the Board; however he said he does have a number of documents which he will need to show me in order for me to believe what he has to say.
By way of providing background on himself Wheaton explained he is a 59 year old retired military intelligence officer. He works as a consultant investigating terrorist attacks around the world and said he expects his telephone will ring in the next few days with an offer to work on the Oklahoma City federal building bombing. He said if this happens he will also probably be called to Washington DC and would meet with me here. If he does not he would still agree to meet with us but would have to do so on the West Coast. He lives in Riverside County, California near Palm Springs.
Wheaton told me that from 1984 to 1987 he spent a lot of time in the Washington DC area and that starting in 1985 he was "recruited into Ollie North's network" by the CIA officer he has information about. He got to know this man and his wife, a "'super grade high level CIA officer" and kept a bedroom in their Virginia home. His friend was a Marine Corps liaison in New Orleans and was the CIA contact with Carlos Marcello. He had been responsible for "running people into Cuba before the Bay of Pigs." His friend is now 68 or 69 years of age.
Over the course of a year or a year and one-half his friend told him about his activities with training Cuban insurgency groups. Wheaton said he also got to know many of the Cubans who had been his friend's soldiers/operatives when the Cubans visited in Virginia from their homes in Miami. His friend and the Cubans confirmed to Wheaton they assassinated JFK. Wheaton's friend said he trained the Cubans who pulled the triggers. Wheaton said the street level Cubans felt JFK was a traitor after the Bay of Pigs and wanted to kill him. People "above the Cubans" wanted JFK killed for other reasons.
Wheaton said we must look at his friend and his associates in order to know what really happened to JFK. One of those associates was I. Irving Davidson who was/is "the bag man for the intelligence community." Davidson runs a group called the Timber Center which handles payoffs and payments for the CIA, the NSA and the Pentagon. He is a friend of Jack Anderson's and was indicted with Carlos Marcello in the 1980's on a Teamster's kick-back charge. Davidson is a non-practicing attorney in Washington D.C. He is now about 70 years old.
Wheaton said he would speak to the Board confidentially but would not allow his name to be used publicly because his friend and the friend's associates "said they would destroy me in the media with a blitz of disinformation to destroy my professional reputation. They will make me out to be a conspiracy nut. I'm not afraid of them, I've been a cop too long and besides, they only kill the people on the inner circle. The rest of us end up having our reputations destroyed."
Wheaton concluded by saying "this matter is not complex but it is convoluted. I need to show you the paper trail to show the contacts of these people."
Carl (Jenkins) was my (National Air) Washington, D.C. rep. who connected me to Nestor Pino, Bill Bode, Rob Owen, Vaughn Forrest, Chi Chi Quintero, Nestor Sanchez, et al. I was V.P. of National Air in 1985-86 (see my Bio).
As was discovered later, some time prior to the Letelier assassination Wilson had gotten another assignment from Khadafy. The Libyan leader wanted one of his principal enemies, hiding in Cairo, assassinated. Wilson decided to dip into the pool of anti-Castro Cubans in Miami trained as experts in the field by the CIA. He called Rafael "Chi-Chi" Quintero, a veteran of a number of JM/WAVE's sabotage and assassination missions. Wilson didn't mention Libya and gave Quintero the impression it was an Agency job. He talked big money, maybe as high as a million dollars. Quintero called Tom Clines, his old case officer, at the Agency to check out Wilson's request. Clines gave Wilson a ringing endorsement.
Quintero recruited two brothers, Rafael and Raoul Villaverde, who had worked for him in the old days, and all three flew to Geneva to meet Wilson and Terpil and get the details for the hit. They sat down, had a few drinks and Terpil, a burly, rough-edged fellow, got a little soused. He said something about Russian and Chinese terrorists being trained in Libya. That rankled the Cubans, all ardent antiCommunists, and aroused their suspicions. They told Wilson they would go along with the deal but first they had to return to Florida to get their affairs in order.
In Cuba, Sheehan's account of the Secret Team's activities begins in the late 1950s and early 1960s with a plan to overthrow Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, which violated the United States' Neutrality Act. Expatriate Cubans were recruited and sent to one of two secret military training bases established for this purpose - one in the south of Miami, Florida, and the other, named Camp Trax, in Retalhuleu, Guatemala (Inside the Shadow Government, 1988).
The force later became known as the 2506 Brigade. The purpose of their missions was to allow the expatriate Cubans to re-enter Cuba covertly and establish a center of guerrilla resistance to the Cuban government and to disrupt the new economy. A later plan included the assassination of Fidel Castro (Report of the Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, Alleged Assassination Plots Involving Foreign Leaders, 94th Congress, 1975). This would have paved the way for former President Fulgencio Batista's return to power as well as the narcotics and gambling activities run by such underworld figures as Meyer Lansky and Santo Trafficante, Jr.
The low-profile, guerrilla-infiltration assassination strategy, code-named Operation 40, was replaced with a plan for a full-scale military invasion of Cuba, to be staged at the Bay of Pigs in April 1962. After that invasion failed, from 1962 to 1965 Theodore Shackley headed a program of raids and sabotage against Cuba. Working under Shackley was Thomas Clines, Rafael Quintero, Luis Posada Carriles, Rafael and Raul Villaverde, Frank Sturgis (who would later be one of the famous Watergate burglars), Felix Rodriguez and Edwin Wilson. This operation, called JM/WAVE, was eventually closed down in 1965, when several of its participants became involved with smuggling narcotics from Cuba into the United States (New York Times, January 4th, 1975)...
As part of their covert operation, with training by Quintero and Rodriguez, Vang Pao is reported to have killed rival opium warlords, civilian functionaries, and supporters of the Pathet Lao (Inside the Shadow Government). These actions were continuing when in 1969 Clines and Shackley were posted to Saigon, where they are alleged to have directed "Operation Phoenix" to "neutralize" non-combatant Vietnamese civilians suspected of collaborating with the National Liberation Front. Former CIA director William Colby would later testify at a 1971 Senate hearing that "Operation Phoenix" killed 20,587 Vietnamese and imprisoned another 28,978 between August 1968 and May 1971 (Fred Branfman, South Vietnam's Police and Prison System: The U.S. Connection, Free Press, 1978).
Alfred McCoy, a professor of history at the University of Wisconsin, wrote the monumental work on the subject of the CIA's involvement in the drug trade: The Politics of Heroin in South East Asia . In 1991 he followed it up with The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade.
McCoy has specialized in the area of the CIA's historic ties to the international drug trade. He asserts that the organization's involvement in the Asian drug trade actually dates back to the late 1940s, after the People's Republic of China was proclaimed by Mao Tse-tung. The CIA allied itself with Kuomintang forces that had fled to the Shan states of northern Burma to carry out sabotage against China. They supported themselves via the opium trade by sending caravans of the drug to Laos for sale."
Whenever the CIA supports a rebel faction in a regional dispute, that faction's involvement in the drug trade increases," McCoy claims. "Just as CIA support for National Chinese troops in the Shan states increased Burma's opium crop in the 1950s, so too did the agency's aid to the mujahideen guerrillas in the 1980s expand opium production in Afghanistan" (The Progressive, July 1991).
Victor Marchetti, who worked for the CIA for 14 years and served as executive assistant to the deputy director under Richard Helms until 1969, is probably the leading critic today of the CIA's "covert" activities. Having seen how things work from the inside, in 1975 he wrote The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence, the first book to expose the workings of the U.S. organization. The book has become somewhat of a classic in certain circles. On April 18th, 1972, Marchetti became the first American writer to be served with an official censorship order issued by a court of the United States forbidding him to disclose any information about the CIA. The verdict was eventually overturned.
"I guess people like the book," Marchetti told me one morning at a coffee shop in the National Press Building in Washington. " Every once in a while I get a royalty check for a few hundred dollars from my publishers."
Marchetti was a Soviet military specialist and at one point was probably the U.S. government's leading expert on Soviet military aid to the countries of the Third World. He left the CIA and wrote about its shortcomings. He felt the agency was incapable of reforming itself and that Presidents had no interest in changing it because they viewed it as a private asset.
Out of all the people I interviewed for this book, Marchetti was perhaps the most insightful. He spoke about covert operations and secret agendas of the Bush-Reagan White Houses the way most people would about yesterday's football scores.
"It shouldn't surprise anyone that the history of the CIA runs parallel to criminal and drug operations throughout the world," he says. "The connection stretches back to the predecessor organization of the CIA, the OSS [Office of Strategic Services], and its involvement with the Italian Mafia, the Cosa Nostra, in Sicily and Southern Italy. When the OSS was fighting communists in France they 'mingled' with the Corsican brotherhood, who were heavily into drugs at that time.
"Many of these contacts were formulated in the late 1940's when the OSS worked covertly to replace the leftist leaders of the Marseilles dock union, after it was thought that the union might interfere with American shipping in a crisis (The Nation, August 29th, 1987).
Exploiting the drug trade amplifies the operational capacity of covert operations for the CIA. When the CIA decides to enter a region to combat a communist force or country, the purpose is to seek out allies and assets which are effective and won't squeal. The CIA's allies' involvement with narcotics enhances their operational capacity because they are fully integrated into the household economies of the region and monopolize what is usually the largest cash crop in that country. Any group which controls such a lucrative trade commands extraordinary political power that is extremely useful to the CIA. Powerful drug warlords can mobilize people to die. No amount of money in the world can buy this operational capacity.
Says Alfred McCoy: "In the mountain ranges along the southern rim of Asia-whether in Afghanistan, Burma, or Laos-opium is the main currency of external trade and thus is a key source of political power. Since operations involve alliances with local power brokers who serve as the CIA's commanders, the agency, perhaps unwillingly or unwittingly, has repeatedly found its covert operations enmeshed with Asia's heroin trade. By investing a local ally such as Iiekmatyar or Vang Pao with the authority of its alliance, the CIA draws the ally under the mantle of its protection. So armed, a tribal leader, now less vulnerable to arrest and prosecution, can use his American alliance to expand his share of the local opium trade" (The Politics of Heroin, 1991).
Marchetti agrees: "Drug dealers are in a position to know things, to get things done. They have muscle and no qualms about using it. This is attractive to the covert operators."
During a long conversation with the investigator Gaeton Fonzi in Havana, we discovered a story that, given its content, it is worth reproducing. Fonzi is not just any common or garden investigator. He had devoted much of his life to working for various congressional committees, including those responsible for investigations into the covert activities of the CIA and the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
A few years ago, and after much effort, Fonzi managed to get a private interview with Antonio Veciana, the same old buddy of Jorge Mas in the "New Orleans group," where the two of them became close friends while fulfilling CIA missions. Veciana had been interrogated by the Grand Jury charged with investigating the assassination of President Kennedy, and years later, had had some drug-related problems; but he vehemently affirmed to Fonzi that these difficulties were nothing more than a "trap" set up by somebody.
"I have a lot of information, but I am keeping that to myself because it is my life insurance," Veciana told Fonzi."
Antonio Veciana Blanch was a public accountant who worked for the Cuban sugar magnate Julio Lobo. He rapidly opposed the Cuban Revolution and, in 1960 was recruited by the CIA in Havana. He received his initial training in an English Language Academy supervised by the U.S. embassy in the Cuban capital. In October 1961, after the failure of a plot he devised to assassination Prime Minister Fidel Castro with a bazooka during an event at the former Presidential Palace, Veciana fled Cuba.
In the interview that he gave to Fonzi he related that, once in Miami, he was looked after by a CIA official who used the pseudonym of Maurice Bishop. Among other tasks, this "Bishop" ordered Veciana to promote the creation of the ALPHA 66 organization.
"Bishop" had frequent contact with Veciana from 1962-1963 in the city of Dallas. Veciana recalled that, at one of those meetings in a public building, he saw Lee Harvey Oswald.
Fonzi noted that various acts of disinformation were organized as part of the operation that cost the life of President Kennedy: one in Dallas, another in Miami and a third in Mexico City. The objective of the disinformation was to manufacture the image of a "revolutionary" Oswald, a "defender of the Cuban Revolution."
Hence the ex-marine was filmed in acts of solidarity with Cuba, demonstrating in a very aggressive manner. But the most daring act of disinformation was effected in Mexico City. There, Lee Harvey Oswald turned up at the Cuban embassy to ask for an entry visa to the island. All of that was filmed from a surveillance post that the CIA had opposite the Cuban embassy, so that it would be documented.
The strange thing is, as Veciana told Fonzi, in one of his contacts with "Bishop" in early 1963, the latter said that he knew that he (Veciana) had a cousin in Cuban Intelligence, who was located at the Cuban embassy in Mexico. "Bishop" stated that if it suited his cousin to work for them in a very specific action, he would pay him whatever he wanted. Veciana commented to Fonzi that he had never spoken of this cousin to "Bishop" and also, at that time, "Bishop" was assigned to the U.S. embassy in Mexico City and even went directly from the Mexican capital to some contacts in Dallas.
In fact Veciana was the cousin of the wife of the then Cuban consul in Mexico City, Guillermo Ruiz, and in the days following the assassination of Kennedy, that woman was the victim of a recruitment attempt in the same city, with the clear proposition that, once in the United States, she would testify as to Oswald?s "complicity" with the Cuban secret services.
Questioned by Fonzi as to the existence of renewed contacts with "Bishop" after the Dallas homicide, Veciana answered that there had been, particularly in 1971, when he received an order to leave for Bolivia and work in the U.S. embassy in that country, where he would appear as an official for the Agency for International Development (USAID) and should wait for a visit from a known person. Fonzi checked the USAID archives in Washington and found an application form to enter the USAID in the name of Antonio Veciana, handwritten in letters distinct from those of Veciana and unsigned.
The "known person" who contacted him in Bolivia was "Bishop," at that time located in the U.S. embassy in Chile. "Bishop" immediately incorporated him into a team plotting an attempt on the life of President Fidel Castro, who was to visit the South American country.
Fonzi told us that he interviewed Antonio Veciana again, but this time accompanied by a specialist with the aim of composing a photofit of "Maurice Bishop" so as to determine his real identity.
Veciana gave a detailed description and the photofit was made. Fonzi spent weeks trying to identify the character, and one Sunday, suddenly received a call at home from a Republican senator for Pennsylvania for whom he was working at the time, and whom he had consulted on the identity of the man in the drawing.
The senator assured him that the he was absolutely sure that the man using the pseudonym of Maurice Bishop was none other than David Atlee Phillips. He was a veteran CIA officer who was in Havana on a working visit in 1958 as a specialist in psychological warfare, participated in the creation of Operation 40 and later, as part of the same, organized the Radio Swann transmitter. With time, Phillips would become head of the Western Hemisphere Division of the Agency.
However, at the end of 1993, in the documentary Case Closed, the former chief of Cuban Security, Divisional General (ret) Fabián Escalante, revealed a secret report from one of his agents, which spoke of a meeting between Antonio Veciana and David Phillips in a hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico, in the early 70s.
"Veciana told me," said the Cuban agent, "that he was a CIA agent and it was the CIA that assassinated Kennedy and that senior CIA officials including David Phillips, the official attending to him, were behind it all. Veciana never wanted to give me any details of that affirmation, but recently, I have been able to confirm it, because once when I was in a hotel with Veciana, I heard a conversation that he had with his officer, David Phillips, in which Veciana swore that he would never talk about what happened in Dallas in 1963."
General Escalante guarantees that the source has direct access to Veciana, and was in his total confidence:
"I believe," Escalante affirmed, "that that is very important information because I have to say that, in 1973, when Antonio Veciana was liquidated by the CIA; in other words, when the CIA took him off their books, he received a compensation payment of $300,000."
But there is more. According to Cuban State Security investigations disclosed by General Escalante in the abovementioned documentary, various witnesses quoted by the Warren Commission described two Cubans, one of them black, leaving the Daley Plaza Book Deposit in Dallas, a few minutes after the assassination was effected. In parallel, through secret information and public testimony (the statement by Marita Lorenz, ex-CIA agent to a congressional committee), Cuban Security knew that two days before the assassination various Cubans were in Dallas with weapons and telescopic sights, including Eladio del Valle and Herminio Díaz, two paid killers and expert sharpshooters linked to the Mafia and Batista politics. The physical characteristics of Del Valle and Herminio Díaz matched the descriptions that various witnesses gave to the Warren Commission of the two Cubans seen leaving the building seconds after the president had been assassinated.
The really curious fact is the final fate of both of them: Eladio del Valle was brutally murdered in Miami when Jim Garrison, the New Orleans district attorney initiated his investigation into the Kennedy assassination; Del Valle was chopped into pieces with a machete. Even more interesting was the end of Herminio Díaz, who died near the Havana coast in 1965, when he collided with a patrol boat while trying to infiltrate the island with the mission of assassinating Osvaldo Dortícos and submachine gunning the Riviera Hotel
In order to fulfill the mission on which he was sent, Díaz had to infiltrate the island right in the capital via Monte Barreto in Miramar (where a number of hotels are currently going up) at a time when, because of an incident at the Guantánamo naval base, the Cuban army was on combat alert, and aerial and coastal vigilance was been reinforced to the maximum. In the eyes of experts, and the Cuban Security, the operation was a veritable suicide mission.
The financial organizer and planner of such "a strange mission" was none other than Jorge Mas Canosa.
But the history of the CIA?s links with its Cuban agents and the Kennedy assassination has not only been explored by Fonzi. Many other authors and investigators, and even the film studios that gave origin to the U.S. movies Executive Action and JFK, have covered the subject.
In an article published in The Realist magazine, the investigator Paul Kangas affirms:
"Among other members of the CIA recruited by George Bush for the (Bay of Pigs) invasion) were Frank Sturgis, Howard Hunt, Bernard Baker and Rafael Quintero. On the day that JFK was assassinated, Hunt and some of the subsequent Watergate team were photographed in Dallas, as well as a group of Cubans, one of them with an opened umbrella as a signal, alongside the president?s limousine, right where Kennedy was shot? Hunt and Sturgis fired on JFK from a grassy knoll. They were photographed and seen by 15 witnesses."
On May 7, 1990, in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, Frank Sturgis acknowledged:
"The reason why we robbed in Watergate was because (Richard) Nixon was interested in stopping the news leaks related to the photos of our role in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy."
Another of Bush?s recruits for the Bay of Pigs invasion, Rafael Quintero, who was also part of this underworld of organizations and conspiracies against Cuba, stated:
"If I was to tell what I know about Dallas and the Bay of Pigs, it would be the greatest scandal that has ever rocked to nation."
Up to here are certain details of one of the existing theories on the above-mentioned event but, will the whole truth come out some day? Will Antonio Veciana, former member of the "New Orleans group," decide to reveal his "life insurance" or Rafael Quintero, to tell what he knows and thus, "rock the nation?"
Rafael Quintero, a daring secret agent in the most dangerous American covert operations against Fidel Castro, died Oct. 1 in Baltimore. He was 66.
His death, after a history of kidney failure, was kept almost as secret as his life as a spy, until last night. It was confirmed at a memorial service in Miami by Felix Rodriguez, a fellow veteran of the Bay of Pigs and the Central Intelligence Agency.
In 1960, Mr. Quintero, not yet 21, signed up with the C.I.A. He worked against Cuba side by side with Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy in the days when the United States tried to kill Mr. Castro. Years later, Mr. Quintero conspired with Lt. Col. Oliver L. North against the Sandinista government of Nicaragua.
But, as with millions of his fellow Cubans, the central event of Mr. Quintero’s life was the Bay of Pigs invasion of April 1961.
He helped build the camps in Guatemala where the C.I.A. trained the rebels who were hoping to overthrow Mr. Castro. When the battle was joined, Mr. Quintero had been in Cuba for months, part of the small rebel force that infiltrated the island in advance of the invasion.
After almost every member of the C.I.A. strike force of 1,500 exiles was killed or imprisoned, Mr. Quintero went on the run inside Cuba. He and his allies were in shock, he said at a 1996 conference of Bay of Pigs veterans, recorded in the book “Politics of Illusion: The Bay of Pigs Invasion Reexamined.”
“We thought the Americans worked the way John Wayne worked in his movies,” Mr. Quintero said. “The Americans hated communism and, like John Wayne, they never lost - ever.” But he said 9 of every 10 Cubans decided to go with the winner after the Bay of Pigs.
He made his way out of Cuba and wound up in Washington. He worked closely with Attorney General Kennedy on the anti-Castro movement.
“Kennedy was obsessed,” he said at the 1996 conference, “that the Kennedy family had lost a big battle against a guy like Castro. He really wanted to get even with him.”
Mr. Quintero continued working on operations against Mr. Castro, including assassination plots, according to declassified government documents. After President John F. Kennedy was killed in 1963, direct American support for most anti-Castro operations began to die down.
By 1965, the White House had turned off the missions aimed at killing Mr. Castro. What Mr. Quintero did for the next decade is still secret. In 1977, he reported to the C.I.A. that one of its former officers had offered him $1 million to kill a Libyan dissident in Egypt.
During the Reagan administration, as he testified at Colonel North’s criminal trial, Mr. Quintero was being paid $4,000 a month to make sure clandestine arms shipments got to the contras, the American-backed forces trying to overthrow Nicaragua, despite a Congressional ban on direct American support for them.
Rafael Quintero Ibarbia, whose friends called him Chi Chi, was born in Camagüey, in the center of Cuba, on Sept. 16, 1940. His friends remember him as a short, smart man with a sharp, bitter sense of humor. His survivors include his wife, Dolores, and their children Alejandro, Marie and Rafael.
As a teenager in the 1950’s, Mr. Quintero joined the underground resistance against Fulgencio Batista, the corrupt right-wing dictator of Cuba. After Mr. Castro’s rebels won power in January 1959, Mr. Quintero said, he was expelled from the vanguard of the revolution for refusing to join the Communist Party. He joined the anti-Castro Movement to Recover the Revolution and became part of the C.I.A.’s grand scheme to overthrow his government.
The agency had assumed that the invasion would lead to an uprising. Few Americans understood that “there was a resistance long before the United States government decided to overthrow Fidel Castro,” Mr. Quintero reflected. “The resistance came first and then later the United States destroyed it.”
After the assassination of JFK, when it emerged that Lee Harvey Oswald was pro-Castro and had attempted to get to Cuba, the group known as Operation 40, and notably the name Rafael Quintero, were mentioned in several of the conspiracy theories that spread over the years. The Cubans, one theory went, never forgave JFK for with-holding air support during the Bay of Pigs, effectively condemning them to defeat and, in many cases, execution.
If Quintero had any such secrets, he took them with him to his grave. But he was once quoted as saying: “If I were ever granted immunity, and compelled to testify about past actions, about Dallas and the Bay of Pigs, it would be the biggest scandal ever to rock the United States.”
On May 16, 1996, Buttimer followed up the telephone call with a letter to Wheaton in which she offered to meet with Wheaton should he find himself in the Washington D.C. area. We have also a copy of another letter from Buttimer to Wheaton in which she refers to a personal meeting with him in July 1996, at which time Wheaton delivered additional reference material to Buttimer. Unfortunately no contact report has been found for this meeting.
There is no further record of any contact by Buttimer or anyone else from the ARRB with Wheaton. In March, 1998 he again faxed the Board and noted that Buttimer seemed to have departed from the Board. He was never contacted again and only received generic Board news releases. The only response to his effort at follow-up is a very general reply from Eileen Sullivan, Press and Public Affairs Officer. In this "form letter" response, she refers to the Board as having received thousands of leads and suggestions and not being able to link any document releases to information provided by a particular individual.
Apart from this generic "thank you," there is no expression of further interest from the Board. And there was no further record of any comment from Gene Wheaton on the subject until Malcolm Blunt located the Wheaton ARRB files and brought them to the attention of this author, who then pursued the matter with the help of William Law. Law contacted and interviewed Wheaton in 2005, where he confirmed what was in the ARRB records.
A good deal of background research has been done on the Wheaton documents and on the names which Wheaton eventually disclosed to the ARRB in the documents submitted to Buttermer. These include the CV which Wheaton eventually identified as that of Carl Elmer Jenkins; a copy of Jenkin's passport circa 1983; and business cards for Carl Jenkins (ECM Corporation - International Security Assistance Specialists, New York, Washington DC, California, PO Box in Falls Church Va., Consultants for Human Development, Falls Church Va., identified as a mail drop and National Air, Liaison Officer). The National Air card has a note on it indicating that Jenkins had connected Wheaton to Raphael "Chi Chi" Quintero, Nestor Sanchez, Nestor Pino, Bill Bode, Rob Owen, and Vaughn Forrest.
Research confirms that beyond a doubt, Carl Jenkins was indeed a senior CIA officer who worked on paramilitary activities in support of the Bay of Pigs project and that by 1963-64 he was indeed directly involved with the AM/WORLD project, with Artime (AM/BIDDY) and Quintero (AM/JAVA-4).
In September, 1963 Jenkins wrote a general memo describing Artime's operational philosophy and concepts. This summarized his views about commando teams, infiltration teams, and guerrilla actions. The memo addresses military operations as Artime conceives them to be organized and conducted under a single organization (AM/WORLD) in which the Cubans can have faith. In a section on Commandos, there is discussion of the use of abductions and assassinations targeted against Cuban G-2 intelligence informants, agents, officers, and foreign Communists to raise the morale of people inside Cuba.'
In December, 1964, Jenkins prepared a summary report of Quintero's visit to Europe for a dialogue with Rolando Cubela in preparation for further meetings with Artime. The goal of this meeting was to develop contacts with a group inside Cuba which was capable of "eliminating Fidel Castro and of seizing and holding Havana, at least for an appreciable time that would be sufficient to justify recognition."'
There seems to be no doubt that Jenkins was indeed involved in a very special project in 1963-64 just as the CV Wheaton provided to the ARRB indicates. It should be noted that these AM/WORLD activities were completely segmented from JM/WAVE and communications from Jenkins and Hecksher were not run through JM/WAVE. In fact ' the AM/WORLD group operated its own facility in Miami (cryptonym "LORK")...
There seems some reason to at least speculate that both Quintero (who became second in command to Artime) and Rodriguez (who also joined Artime's offshore autonomous effort in 1963) may have been associated with CIA paramilitary officer Carl Jenkins before the Bay of Pigs. It also seems possible that Rodriguez may have been involved with the assassination project described in the NPIC memo and that the project was overseen by Carl Jenkins - this being the operation described by the NPIC personnel.
It appears that Carl Jenkins' paramilitary activities in support of Cuban operations were exactly as described to Gene Wheaton and exactly as summarized in the Jenkins CV submitted to the ARRB. There is also no doubt that Jenkins was very closely associated with Quintero in this period, as described by Wheaton. There are two books in print that also confirm these descriptions of Jenkins.
In The Death Merchant: The Rise and Fall of Edwin P. Wilson, author Joseph Goulden presents information from the CIA officer whom Quintero went to when he became suspicious of an assassination assignment being promoted to Quintero and other exiles by Ed Wilson. The officer (given the pseudonym "Brad Rockford") talks about entering the CIA on detached duty from the Marines, being career paramilitary, and running CIA paramilitaries out of JM/WAVE. It seems clear that Rockford was in fact Carl Jenkins.
In his book Manhunt: The Incredible Pursuit of a CIA Agent Turned Terrorist, Peter Maas mentions Carl Jenkins by name as the case officer for Quintero prior to the Bay of Pigs. Quintero was part of an advance team sent in before the invasion by Jenkins. After the landing failed, he hid out in Cuba for six weeks before making his way back to Florida. Afterwards Clines would assume a case officer role for Quintero, who would go on make to a number of sabotage and assassination missions into Cuba."
It seems worth pointing out that Jenkins' name has never been mentioned in any of the numerous works on the Bay of Pigs, the Miami station, or the secret war against Castro. Prior to this investigation of Wheaton's ARRB communications, Carl Jenkins had a far lower profile than even David Morales.
Interestingly, Gene Wheaton recommended that William Law read these books in a 2005 interview. Wheaton suggested that they would describe the individuals he had been associating with or had source information on from what has become known as Iran-Contra.
Additionally, it is of interest that Ted Shackley and Tom Clines (who was to succeed Jenkins as Quintero's case officer) would be familiar names from both JM/WAVE and the Wilson affair. It is also of interest that David Morales's long time friend Ruben independently mentioned that Morales had introduced him to Shackley, Clines and Wilson on a trip to Virginia - and later, to Artime...
Carl Jerkins was a senior CIA officer with exactly the background described by Wheaton to the ARRB. Rafael Quintero was a well respected, covert operations activist associated with anti-Castro and anti-Communist activities over several decades. He was taken seriously at the highest levels of the Kennedy administration. Indeed, DDP Richard Helms himself once commented on an Operational Plan drafted by Quintero to Thomas Parrott, Executive Assistant to the Military Representative of the President in June of 1962.
Quintero had presented the plan to Attorney General Robert Kennedy and General Maxwell Taylor. Beyond that, Quintero was one of only a handful of exiles to be brought into both the AM/ WORLD and AM/LASH (Cubela) projects, initiated by Fitzgerald and eventually turned over the Artime autonomous group project. Quintero was well enough respected to be brought into the secret "extra-governmental" Contra effort, and was eventually solicited by Edward Wilson for an assassination project. In both cases Quintero eventually determined that improper activities were going on and informed on them, in the case of Wilson through his old friend Carl Jenkins.
Gene Wheaton claims that he heard discussions of the conspiracy that killed John Kennedy in Dallas during the time when he was in close personal touch with both Jenkins and Quintero. He never raised this issue when he himself attempted to blow the whistle on various aspects of the Contra supply project. He only raised it confidentially to the ARRB-and was quite surprised to find that his correspondence had been released to public view.
However when interviewed in 2005, he continued to stand by his story that he heard from people involved in the "secret war," who knew that Cuban exiles were incited to execute President Kennedy. These individuals had their own agendas. The exile shooters considered themselves above all as patriots. They had been trained to assassinate Fidel Castro, but in the end they turned their guns on John Kennedy.
Rafael Quintero died October 1, 2006, in Baltimore at the age of 66. A New York Times obituary by Tim Weiner notes that his fellow veteran, Felix Rodriquez, attended the memorial service. The obituary describes Quintero's insertion into Cuba prior to the Bay of Pigs and his escape afterwards. It also states that after his escape from Cuba, Quintero continued working on operations against Fidel Castro, including assassination plots and eventually was paid $4,000 a month to support clandestine arms shipments to the Contras in Nicaragua (despite the Congressional ban on direct U.S. support).
As an intelligence gathering unit, Operation 40 became, and remains, a controversial topic within the South Florida Cuban exile community, many of whom it spied upon. The late Rafael Quintero - who Simkin erroneously identifies as a member of his non-existent Operation 40 - is among those who expressed concern because of the vast files of information the group collected on the Cuban community and the potential for blackmail with that information.
"When the Bay of Pigs went kaput, they stayed as a group and Sanjenis became a very, very dangerous and powerful guy in Miami because he had a file on everybody… whose wife was whose lover, how much money etc... Some people tried to use that for blackmail," Quintero said in a April 2003 interview with me. "Actually, nobody knows where those files are. It's a big question mark." Operation 40 was shutdown in the early 1970s as part of the phase-out of active CIA sponsored anti-Castro activity. Quintero, who died in 2006, also asked that he not be identified by name in my book because of Operation 40's controversial nature in South Florida 's Cuban community.