Chapter 18: A Pyrrhic Victory

Scroll down for Extended Endnotes


Dominican Republic

Stephen J. Rabe, “The Caribbean Triangle: Betancourt, Castro, and Trujillo and U.S. Foreign Policy, 1958-1963,” Diplomatic History 20:1 (Winter 1996), 55-78.


Cuba, the Bay of Pigs (1961)

Stephen J. Rabe, The Most Dangerous Area in the World: JFK Confronts Revolution in Latin America (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press,1999)

Don Bohning, The Castro Obsession: Covert Operations Against Cuba, 1959-1965 (Washington, D.C.: Potomac Press: 2005)

Charles Maechling, “Camelot, Robert Kennedy, and Counter-Insurgency: A Memoir,” Virginia Quarterly Review, Summer 1999; Maechling makes scathing remarks about the CIA youth expert for Latin America.

Harold H. Martin, “’Help Us Fight,’ Cry the Angry Exiles,” Saturday Evening Post, Vol. 236:22, June 8, 1963. Martin interviewed over 100 Cuban exiles.

Thomas Paterson, Contesting Castro: The United States and the Triumph of the Cuban Revolution (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994)

Cuban Missile Crisis

Timothy Naftali, One Hell of a Gamble: Khrushchev, Castro, Kennedy,1958-1964 (New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1997)

Puerto Rico

W. Maldonado, Luis Munoz Marin: Puerto Rico’s Democratic Revolution (San Juan: Universidad de Puerto Rico, 2006)

Rolando Cubela

George Crile, III, “The Riddle of AMLASH,” Washington Post, May 2, 1976.

Inspector General’s Report on Plots to Assassinate Fidel Castro (1967): Released to the general public on June 23, 1998

David Korns, Blond Ghost: Ted Shackley and the CIA’s Crusades (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1994.

Brian Latell, Castro’s Secrets: Cuban Intelligence, the CIA, and the Assassination of John F. Kennedy, (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013)

Joseph J. Trento, The Secret History of the CIA, 1946-1989 (Roseville, CA: Prima Publishing, 2001) Covers Rolando Cubela



ALL notes correspond to the endnotes in Patriotic Betrayal, supply additional information or evidence, and should be read together.

Note 4: John Simons departure from FYSA: Simons left the CIA conduit FYSA for the Peace Corps, a fact most disturbing to those who value the JFK bar on former CIA employees. A Peace Corps booklet (no date) contains a picture of Simons and describes his position as a senior member of the Division of University Relations. It also says he “has worked in education since 1947, shortly after he received his Army discharge. A graduate of Seton Hall, he served as executive secretary of the National Federation of Catholic College Students, as associate executive secretary of the International Student Service in Geneva, and as assistant executive secretary of Foundation for Youth and Student Affairs.” (Booklet, courtesy of the late Francis Luzzatto, former Peace Corps staff). There is no mention of Fordham law school in his resume, nor does Fordham law school have a record of Simon, his credential for both the Chicago (1946) and Madison (1947 Constitutional Convention). It is possible that he dropped out so soon after the Madison meeting that he was not entered into Fordham law school records. Between the autumn of 1947 and his departure for Geneva in November 1948, his credentials included leadership in the Catholic-sponsored Joint Committee for Student Action, but there is no record of other employment.

One Peace Corps staff member from the early 1960s contacted by the author, Samuel F. Babbitt, described the prohibition against hiring anyone with a CIA past this way: “My impression is that the policy was informal, to say the least, at the beginning. Certainly Bill Coffin’s [*William Sloan Coffin, see Chapter 23] prominent involvement in the initial training programs would indicate that, although I think it became more formalized as time went on.” While it is commonly understood that JFK issued a White House executive order against hiring anyone for the Peace Corps with a CIA background, I have found no evidence of one. What is known is that JFK instructed to Allen Dulles to leave the Peace Corps alone.

Simons immediately sought to bring in students who from NSA who were witting, although he, too, apparently stopped the practice. See, for example:

  • July 28, 1961 Harald Bakken, former NSA international affairs vice president, then the Director of the International Student Relations Seminar, received Peace Corps personnel forms to join the Peace Corps as a “Traveling Representative.” H/NSA (Box 112)
  • July 5, 1961 Paul Sigmund to Harald Bakken, reporting that “I am currently in the process of preparing the Peace Corps Training Program and I would appreciate it if you would send me a copy of your first week’s reading list and perhaps a comment or two on the suitability of the assignments for a training program of teachers going to Nigeria.” H/NSA (Box 112)

Note 21-22: Rolando Cubela Secades (AMLASH)

  • Recruitment: David Korns (Blond Ghost) dates the recruitment of Cubela as June, 1962, p.105; George Crile III, (“The Riddle of AMLASH”) cites the first contact, as do others, as 1961, when Cubela offered to kill Castro, and CIA agents in the American embassy in Mexico City told him to return to Cuba and stay in place.
  • CIA contact: All sources agree that Cubela met CIA officials under cover of the 1962 World Youth Festival in Helsinki, during which CIA officials were running a counter-festival operation. According to Crile, the CIA officer who met with Cubela was codenamed Bill Thompson.
  • September 29, 1962 in Porto Alegre, Brazil at the Pan American Games with CIA’s Néster Sánchez.
  • David Korns places the first meeting with CIA Deputy Director for Plans Desmond Fitzgerald in Paris and Cubela on October 23, 1963, the second on November, 22, 1963, p. 105 Korns then cites an internal CIA report that concluded, “It is likely that at the very moment President Kennedy was shot, a CIA officer was meeting with a Cuban agent…and giving him an assassination device for use against Castro. (p. 106)
  • Korns places termination in June 1965, “after discovering that an associate of his was in clandestine contact with Cuban intelligence. Agency officials wondered whether Cubela had been a double agent all along.” (p. 116)
  • In 1966, Rolando Cubela was arrested by Castro in Cuba and sentenced to 25 years in prison. He was released in 1979, and left Cuba for exile in Spain. Given the seriousness of Cubela’s crimes (treason/attempt to kill Castro), the short sentence has fed the suspicion that Cubela was a double agent. Latell (Castro’s Secrets) insists that he has evidence that proves he was, but Cubela’s case officer insists that he was not.
  • George Crile argues that to understand Cubela, one has to go back to the 1957 Palace attack and the underground student cell that led it. Another Cuban, Eugenio Rolando Martinez (one of the Watergate burglars), supplied arms to the students. Afterwards, in exile in Miami, Martinez and Cubela roomed together before Cubela returned to Cuba to fight with Castro. During his time in Miami, many accounts describe Cubela as haunted by the ghost of the police chief, Blanco Rico, that he had murdered in Havana. And, despite Cubela’s top army title, Comandanté, and reputation as a Castro loyalist, Crile writes that Cubela was always critical of Castro.

Note 55: NSA founding father, Martin McLaughlin (Department of State), and Aspen Institute’s Robert W. Craig, edited the proceedings of the students meeting. While hearing foreign student criticism of U.S. foreign policy was commonplace to NSA international staff, it was not so routine for the White House. National Security Advisor McGeorge Bundy called the unvarnished report, “one of the most shocking things I have ever read.” (Matthew Shannon, “American-Iranian Alliances,” see citation in Chapter 19.)

In the months before the Aspen meeting, National Security Council memos issued by Special Group, (Augmented) Operation Mongoose [overthrow of Castro and other anti-Castro activities], overseen by Robert F. Kennedy, frequently focused on students in Latin America. A sampling:

  • A “Report Prepared by an Ad Hoc Committee of the Intelligence Board, discussed “Castro-subsidized travel to Cuba of numerous Latin Americans,” and noted that, “During the Havana meeting in May and June 1961 of the executive committee of the Communist-front International Union of Students, it was announced that Cuba plans to offer 1,000 scholarships to Latin American students for study in Cuba.” #245. July 11, 1961 Kennedy Library, Papers of Arthur Schlesinger, Cuba, White Label, Box 31. Secret: Noforn. The report was approved by the USIB on July 11.
  • CIA paper: “Labor, students, and other special groups are being considered for practical operational capabilities, for operations which must be mounted quite outside the framework of the existing U.S. programs which aim to match the activities of Communist fronts.” #273, November 8, 1961; Kennedy Library, President’s Office Files, Counter Series, Cuba, Security 1961. Secret; Eyes Only. “This paper was prepared in response to the requirement to examine existing programs and options in conjunction with the establishment of Mongoose.” Operation Mongoose was approved in November 1961.
  • Memorandum from the Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs (Martin) to the Deputy Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (Johnson), June 27, 1962. “Priority Schedule for Cuba 4. Encourage Christian democratic student groups in Venezuela and elsewhere to make anti-Castro statements and resist election of pro-Castro student leaders. In this connection it is important to work with the forthcoming youth festival in Helsinki (where there will be 2000 Latin American students) to take the festival away from the Communists and ensure a good amount of anti-Communist propaganda emanating from this support.” (Note: this memo was written during the International Student Conference meeting in Quebec.) Department of State, S/S Files: Lot 65 D 438, Mongoose. Secret. Drafted by Hurwitch.
  • Memorandum from the United States Information Agency Operations Officer for Operation Mongoose (Wilson) to the Chief of Operations, Operation Mongoose (Lansdale), July 20, 1962. Phase I “D. Students & Intellectuals. This has been the most difficult target group to work on. Paradoxically, this group appears to be the least susceptible to logical and reasoned appeal. The Castro problem is so highly charged emotionally that no broad avenue of approach has yet been found. The themes which have been helpful in building a negative attitude in the general public—revulsion at mass executions, immediate, concrete economic hardships, attacks on the Church and the social structure, the regimentation of labor and other infringements of individual liberties—have not proved particularly effective with this group. … Nevertheless, we are working very hard on developing materials, capitalizing on his takeover of the university and attacks on individual liberties.” Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Meetings and Memoranda Series, Special Group (Augmented), Operation Mongoose, 7/62. Top Secret.

In this context, one can understand why the report of the Aspen meeting with student leaders from throughout the world, not just in Latin America, created further upset.

Note 56: Robert F. Kennedy: Most accounts of Kenney’s attitude on the CIA stress his involvement in clandestine counter-insurgency, but Schlesinger is one of the few who wrote (briefly) about his sanction of CIA investments in private sector organizations.

More recently, Charles Stuart Kennedy conducted an oral history interview with Thomas Hughes, of the State Department Intelligence and Research unit during (and after) the Kennedy era. He described the easy cooptation of liberals by the CIA during the JFK Presidency: “I myself was enough of a participant/observer to be struck by the accommodation liberals quickly made to covert operations. I am thinking particularly of the Kennedy White House liberals like Arthur Schlesinger, Carl Kaysen, Ralph Dungan, Mike Feldman, Ted Sorensen, and Dick Goodwin, each of whom was aware of, and often actively urged, one covert operation or another. This co-option of the liberals in support of the occasional liberal covert proposition also helped assure grudging liberal support for covert operations in general. Like Maria Theresa and the partition of Poland, the liberals wept but they took their share. The acceptance of covert activity was part of the ethos of the times.”

Hughes, a liberal, and a former World Federalist colleague of Cord Meyer, was especially critical of Robert F. Kennedy. The oral history interview was conducted under the auspices of Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training, Foreign Affairs Oral History Program, and is available on line:

Click to access Hughes,%20Thomas%20L.toc.pdf

Note 59: Inter-Agency Task Force on Youth: The information that Robert F. Kennedy personally recommended Martin M. McLaughlin to direct the task force is contained in the oral history of Lucius (Luke) D. Battle, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs, who chaired the task force. He described RFK “as a very strong force” on the task force, who “came to virtually all the meetings.” Battle also articulated the rational for student scholarships and other activities as aimed at “the generation after next…” The oral history is available at the JFK archives and on line at,%20Lucius%20D/JFKOH-LDB-02/JFKOH-LDB-02-TR.pdf

Battle also addressed the issue of CIA funding for private sector organizations and observed, “Once you begin it, it becomes hard to contain it and the pressure to do more and more and more and more becomes very great.” JFK Oral History #2, 8/27/1968

Chapters 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26