Tuesday, March 22, 2016

What Maddow Left Out In Her Segment On The Kennedy- Castro Rapprochement

Lisa Howard III.JPG
Actress and TV reporter Lisa Howard had a major role in energizing the move to rapprochement between Kennedy and Fidel Castro's Cuba in the Spring of 1963. Rachel Maddow's segment last night did not deal with her role at all - perhaps because she was one of those mysteriously claimed by sudden death some two years later.

Very few Americans seem to be aware of recent American history especially to do with the last days of the Kennedy administration. In multiple blog posts I have tried my best to fill in these earlier blanks  (many due to our myopic media, mostly into sensationalism now) and another opportunity presents itself as we celebrate the first visit of an American President to Cuba in nearly 90 years.

 Rachel Maddow (last night) deserves kudos for finally bringing the long hidden initiative for JFK's Cuban rapprochement to light in a segment 'Everything Is Possible' - a phrase Kennedy used in a speech in Miami in 1963, otherwise noted for its Cold War tone. But always the consummate strategist, Kennedy knew he absolutely had to keep up the pose of Cold Warrior despite having changed nearly a year earlier after the horrific Cuban Missile Crisis which brought the world to the brink of nuclear extinction. (See James Douglas' section 'A Cold Warrior Turns' in his book, JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died And Why It Matters)

In her segment Maddow presented letters from an autobiographical work by Attwood which clearly showed Kennedy intended to use him as an emissary to Castro, in an effort to normalize relations with Cuba. This was further reinforced from tapes Maddow re-played based on JFK's then conversations with McGeorge Bundy on Nov. 5, 1963. Kennedy later required Attwood to obtain  confirmation from Castro about his agenda, after which the actual secret talks could start. Castro's response was received Nov. 23, 1963, one day after Kennedy was killed in Dallas and there ended the rapprochement efforts.

But, in fact, the wheels had been spinning since April, 1963. Former actress and ABC News reporter Lisa Howard had offered herself as an intermediary for the first bilateral talks between U.S. and Cuban officials, in April, 1963, soon after doing a fairly sympathetic TV special on Castro the same month.  She also offered her 5th Avenue New York apartment as a venue for meeting with the Cuban Ambassador to the UN. This was already accepted by the Kennedy administration as a report in the UK Guardian notes, e.g.

The administration gave a nod to Ms Howard, who set up a chance meeting between Mr Attwood and the Cuban ambassador to the UN, Carlos Lechuga, at a cocktail party in her Park Avenue apartment.
The apartment then became a communications centre between Mr Attwood and the Castro regime. Castro's aide, Dr Rene Vallejo, called at pre-arranged times to talk to Mr Attwood, and in the autumn of 1963 suggested that Mr Attwood fly to Mexico from where he would be picked up by a plane sent by Castro.

See :

And it was at that end point that Maddow's piece picks up, basically around November 5, 1963, to Nov. 23, 1963. But left out is that the movement for rapprochement had been going on for months sub rosa.  Note also that Attwood was also involved in these early talks, i.e. with Castro's aide Vallejo. (Who also is not mentioned in Maddow's piece).  Did Maddow omit all this because many in the JFK research community believe that Lisa Howard was one of the de facto victims of the assassination, after she  continued efforts at formalizing Cuban-American relations after JFK was killed?  This is relevant given, as the Guardian put it:  "Howard continued to bring messages back to Washington from Castro."

But LBJ, especially after orchestrating Kennedy's killing to save his own political skin, was in no mood, though Castro couldn't have known that - so made his pleas to "turn the other cheek" in vain. LBJ may also have very well frowned on Howard's efforts to keep the Castro ties alive, even as he later frowned on Martin Luther King Jr. going against him on the Vietnam War. One thing we do know about "that polecat Lyndon" (Russell Long's famous onetime description) is he didn't abide anyone crossing him.

As I also wrote before, it seems highly plausible that the efforts at early rapprochement got out and found their way to the CIA teams running anti-Castro Cubans and moving the pieces in place for Kennedy's assassination. This is relevant because in the spring of 1963 we know that the Chief of Psychological Warfare branch of the CIA's JM/WAVE station in Miami (George Johannides,),  was busy “guiding and financing” members of the Revolutionary Cuban Student Directorate or DRE, one of the largest anti-Castro groups in the United States[1].  This attention included providing the DRE with up to $25,000 a month, so long as they submitted to CIA discipline[2].

At the same time it was known that Operation ZR-Rifle, an Agency project to assassinate Castro, was well underway and quite plausibly without JFK’s knowledge or approval. (Since it’s incomprehensible that Kennedy would’ve approved any Castro assassination plan while also pursuing rapprochement. He’d have to be schizoid- and hence dysfunctional. Further it would flout all the arguments to do with his “moral compass” shown by James Douglass in his book, JFK and the Unspeakable).

Thus, given Johannides’ band of DRE reprobates, it’s plausible that any debriefings done by the CIA (of Attwood- in the course of his talks in Cuba) would find their way back to those running the Johannides’ and ZR-Rifle operations. It doesn’t take a whole lot here to conjecture that – if such a leak transpired (say from the de-briefers to Johannides, or ZR-Rifle) -  the plan to assassinate Fidel Castro might be altered to target Kennedy instead. Surely, the rage would be there, make no mistake. The DRE members especially would feel betrayed, as well as the 2506 Brigade imprisoned after their capture in the wake of the Bahia de Cochinos episode.

Further probability of cross-Agency leakage would’ve occurred when Lisa Howard offered herself as an intermediary, and her apartment in New York as the venue, for the first bilateral talks between U.S. and Cuban officials. When she continued the efforts on her own, she put herself in the crosshairs and her life was suddenly ended on July 4, 1965.

All this was left out of Maddow's piece, but perhaps it shouldn't have been.

[1]Jefferson Morley, ‘The George Johannides Cover-up’, in JFK LANCER, May 19, 2005.

[2] Morley, ibid.

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