Executive Intelligence Review
This article appears in the February 15, 2002 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.

The Enigma of the
Fulbright Memorandum

by Edward Spannaus

[PDF version of this article]

The following report[1] is a component of the "Zbigniew Brzezinski and September 11th" Special Report, soon to be issued by the LaRouche in 2004 Presidential campaign, the main feature article of which was published in the Jan. 11 EIR.

In that feature article, Lyndon H. LaRouche, Jr. identified three distinct elements to be investigated in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 developments: 1) the military coup-attempt itself, the intended "detonator" of the operation, which, in the worst case, could have resulted in a potential, runaway thermonuclear-superpower-escalation; 2) the general political-strategic factor of the "clash of civilizations" policy of Brzezinski, Samuel Huntington, et al., which was the main body of the operation as a whole; and 3) the "implicit suicide-bomber-like role of the current Israeli regime," the intention of which was to set off a wider war in and around the Middle East.

This report, by examining the military-coup-type tendencies and capabilities which existed in the United States during the period which extends from the firing of Gen. Douglas MacArthur, up through the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963, is intended to draw the reader's attention to the continuity of an institutional phenomenon from that period to the present day.

To understand what happened on Sept. 11, it is useful to attend to this institutional factor, which was highlighted, each from their own standpoints, by 1) President Eisenhower's Farewell Address, with its largely misunderstood warning of the threat emanating from the growing influence of what he called the "military-industrial complex"; 2) General MacArthur's persistent warnings to President Kennedy and others against involvement in a land-war in Asia, of the sort which was in fact foolishly but deliberately carried out after the murder of President Kennedy; and (3) Sen. J. William Fulbright's 1961 Memorandum alluding to a military-coup danger in the United States. It is of particular significance that Fulbright referenced "the revolt of the French generals"—which takes us into the assassination attempts against French President Charles de Gaulle, in which were implicated the same international terrorist networks which played a central role in the subsequent assassination of President Kennedy.

To provide the reader with a glimpse of a now-forgotten aspect of recent U.S. history—which illustrates the continuity of this institutionalized phenomenon—we present the following report on the "Fulbright Memorandum."

Six months into the new administration of President John F. Kennedy, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman J. William Fulbright (D-Ark.) was warning about the dangers of a revolt by right-wing military officers against the administration. Although Fulbright himself did not use the word "coup," others did—including some who denied planning such a coup.

Because of its implications for the attempted coup d'état against the U.S. government that began with the events of Sept. 11, 2001, we present here the preliminary results of the first phase of an inquiry into the significance of the "Fulbright Memorandum"—subject to the qualification, that this by no means represents the last word on this crucial matter, but rather, constitutes the first fruits of an ongoing historical investigation.

The backdrop to the July 1961 Fulbright Memorandum was the April 1961 firing of Maj. Gen. Edwin Walker, who had been indoctrinating his troops in Augsburg, Germany, with John Birch Society propaganda. But this was only the most notorious case of a much broader pattern of political activity by military officers, which prominently included military collaboration with the H. Smith Richardson Foundation's Frank Barnett; the Foreign Policy Reseach Institute (FPRI) of Robert Strausz-Hupé, then attached to the University of Pennsylvania; and the Institute for American Strategy (IAS). (Later, in the 1970s and '80s, Richard Mellon Scaife picked up much of the funding for these operations, along with the Smith Richardson Foundation, and the Olin Foundation.)

But the actual context—and it is certain that Fulbright was not fully aware of all this—was: 1) the extraordinary and mostly secret building of "special warfare" capabilities and operations in the waning months of the Eisenhower Administration, and 2) Eisenhower's own warning of the danger to "our liberties and democratic process" posed by the growing influence of the "military-industrial complex," following eight years of heated battles between Eisenhower and his own military chiefs.

And then, within a few months of Fulbright's warning, secret planning began in the Pentagon on "Operation Mongoose"—plotting the overthrow (or assassination) of Cuba's Fidel Castro, which soon came to include plans to use acts of terrorism to drag the Kennedy Administration into a war in Cuba. From this Pentagon/CIA operation, centered around Cuban exiles, led many threads into the complex operation which culminated in the assassination of Kennedy himself in November 1963.

Fulbright's Warning

The Fulbright Memorandum was drafted in July 1961 as a personal communication between the Senate and the Secretary of Defense, who was Robert McNamara.[2] Entitled "Propaganda Activities of Military Personnel Directed at the Public," the memorandum began by noting that a 1958 National Security Council directive had made it the policy of the United States "to make use of military personnel and facilities to arouse the public to the menace of the Cold War." Fulbright reported that private organizations were preparing material that was then distributed by the military, material which was contrary to the President's policies. He noted that the actual programs being carried out under the 1958 directive "made use of extremely radical right-wing speakers and/or materials, with the probable net result of condemning foreign and domestic policies of the administration in the public mind."

Fulbright's allusion to a military coup, came as follows: "Perhaps it is farfetched to call forth the revolt of the French generals as an example of the ultimate danger. Nevertheless, military officers, French or American, have some common characteristics arising from their profession and there are numerous military 'fingers on the trigger' throughout the world. While this danger may appear very remote, contrary to American tradition, and even American military tradition, so also is the 'long twilight struggle' [referring to President Kennedy's characterization of the Cold War as a conflict which may not be solved 'in our lifetime'], and so also is the very existence of an American military program for educating the public."[3]

Fulbright called for a review of the mission and operation of the National War College—as to whether it should operate under the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS)—and also urged that the relationships among FPRI, IAS, the Richardson Foundation, the National War College, and the JCS, be reexamined "from the standpoint of whether these relationships do not amount to official support for a viewpoint at variance with that of the administration."

Fulbright cited 11 examples of questionable educational and propaganda activities involving military personnel; these included:

  • A "Strategy for Survival" conference held at Fort Smith and Little Rock, Arkansas, dominated by George S. Benson and other speakers from Harding College in Searcy, Arkansas. (Benson, one of the leaders of the Church of God which produced "Get Clinton" operative, independent counsel Kenneth Starr, among others, was a British-linked intelligence operative and evangelist.) Harding College produced a widely circulated film, "Communism on the Map," which blamed the advance of Communism on Franklin Roosevelt (for recognizing the Soviet Union) and on Gen. George Marshall (for allowing the Communist takeover of China).

  • A "Fourth Dimensional Warfare Seminar" in Pittsburgh, including a prominent speaker from the IAS who said that U.S. foreign policy since World War II had played into Soviet hands, and that some of Kennedy's advisers "have philosophies regarding foreign affairs that would chill the average American."

  • Other meetings and seminars which promoted the pro-House Un-American Activities Committee film "Operation Abolition," and which featured Dr. Fred C. Schwartz of the Christian Anti-Communist Crusade, Herbert Philbrick, Frank Barnett of the Richardson Foundation and IAS—all of whom warned of Communist subversion and infiltration and attacked the policies of the Kennedy Administration.

Attached to the Fulbright Memorandum were a number of documents, including an article from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists which focussed on the book American Strategy for the Nuclear Age, which was described as outlining the master curriculum for the military-related seminars. The book was written by Frank Barnett, then the research director for both the IAS and the Richardson Foundation, and it contained contributions from FPRI director Robert Strausz-Hupé (see Profile, in this section), and Col. William Kintner (then assigned to FPRI).

The article accurately described the IAS as having grown out of a 1955 symposium in Chicago called the "National Military-Industrial Conference"; the IAS was established and financed by the H. Smith Richardson Foundation to carry forward the work of the Conference. In 1959, the IAS began a series of "National Strategy Seminars," which were authorized by the JCS to take over the education of reserve officers. IAS and Strausz-Hupé worked closely with the National War College in this period. (Among the speakers at these seminars were Harvard's William Yandell Elliott and Henry Kissinger.)

The Fulbright Memorandum, as could be expected, set off a huge controversy, with articles and editorials—and not a little behind-the-scenes activity as well.

For example, FPRI and its Director Strausz-Hupé went on a mobilization to deny that they were organizing a military coup. FPRI circulated a private letter to its "Associates, friends and supporters" on Oct. 18, 1961, containing an attack on Fulbright and a lengthy defense of its own actions. Among other things, it stated: "The Foreign Policy Research Institute takes a certain pride in being linked to the four organizations mentioned in the Fulbright memorandum. However, an investigation of our relationships with them will be a disappointment to our critics. There is no sinister plot underfoot at the Foreign Policy Research Institute to inspire United States military personnel to launch a coup d'état along the lines of the abortive French affair in Algeria."

Shortly after this, Strausz-Hupé drafted a letter to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, and sent a copy to William Yandell Elliott, with a "Dear Bill" cover letter. Elliott had been a speaker at some of the seminars in question, including one at the National War College in July 1960, and another in Chicago in April 1961.[4]

The circulation of the Fulbright Memorandum also led to authorization of extensive Congressional hearings on "Military Cold War Education and Speech Review Policies," by the Special Preparedness Subcommittee of the Senate Armed Services Committee. These hearings were conducted in late 1961 and the first half of 1962. General Walker was naturally a major focus of the hearings, as were the IAS seminars. But the way the hearings evolved, was to make a dubious distinction between the seminars run by the circles of FPRI, Frank Barnett, and the IAS—which were treated as the "responsible"—in contrast to the "cockle-doodle seminars" or "curbstone seminars" run by the outright wackos. (Those were Barnett's terms.)

When Walker testified before the committee in April 1962, he began by asserting that our Armed Forces are paralyzed by our national policy of no-win and retreat from victory. "I am a victim of this 'no-win' policy," he stated. He said that civilian control of the military had been transformed into a commissar-like system of control. Our will to resist Communism is fast being sapped, he charged. "I was a scapegoat for an unwritten policy of collaboration and collusion with the international communist conspiracy."

Eisenhower's Farewell Address

It was only about six months before the Fulbright Memorandum, that President Dwight D. Eisenhower had issued his warning about the "military-industrial complex." In his Jan. 17, 1961 Farewell Address, Eisenhower stated:

"A vital element in keeping the peace is our military establishment. Our arms must be mighty, ready for instant action, so that no potential aggressor may be tempted to risk his own destruction.

"Our military organization today bears little relation to that known by any of my predecessors in peacetime, or indeed by the fighting men of World War II or Korea.

"Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.

"This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence—economic, political, even spiritual—is felt in every city, every Statehouse, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources, and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

"In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

"We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together."

Eisenhower's warning—which was echoed by President Kennedy in March 1961, and again by Gen. Douglas MacArthur (ret.) in 1962—is usually brushed off as simply an allusion to the growing power of defense industries. But there are substantial grounds for believing that it was much more than that—and that when Eisenhower warned that the political influence of the military establishment was being felt "in every city, every statehouse," he was referring not just to the military, but to the cabal of Wall Street-backed foundations, think-tanks, and private institutions which were promoting a vast military buildup and confrontation with the Soviet Union.

To understand the circumstances under which John F. Kennedy took office in 1961—and which ultimately contributed to his assassination—it is essential to review the largely forgotten battles which President Eisenhower waged against the Cold Warriors and the military during his own administration, especially in its last two years.

Eisenhower was at odds with the Joint Chiefs from the beginning of his first administration—which was not what the Chiefs had expected from the five-star general. By the end of 1954, the Joint Chiefs were in public opposition to Eisenhower's cuts in the military budget. In accordance with his belief in the doctrine of "massive retaliation," Eisenhower did not believe it was useful or wise to keep building up conventional forces. He repeatedly argued that excessive military spending distorted the economy, and that a strong and healthy economy was the best defense.

The military budget, and strategic doctrine, were not the only areas of difference. On three occasions during 1954, as the French were being defeated in Indochina, the Joint Chiefs—with the fervent backing of Secretary of State John Foster Dulles—advocated the preemptive use of nuclear weapons. The first two times were to be against the Viet Minh, and the third time against China, after the French insisted that the Chinese were about to intervene in Vietnam in support of Ho Chi Minh.

Eisenhower called in his Joint Chiefs, and told them that an atomic strike on China would certainly bring Russia into the war; therefore, he said, the only way to fight such a war, would be to launch nuclear first strikes simultaneously against both Russia and China. Eisenhower said that he thought it would be possible to destroy Russia, and then told his Chiefs to contemplate this: "Gain such a victory, and what do you do with it? Here would be a great area from the Elbe to Vladivostok ... torn up and destroyed, without any government, without its communications, just an area of starvation and disaster. I ask you what would the civilized world do about it? I repeat, there is no victory except through our imaginations."[5]

A fourth instance in which the JCS advocated nuclear war, was in the Spring of 1955, around the Formosa (Taiwan) crisis. But, while Eisenhower was trying to avoid going to war with the Chinese, the JCS and the Secretary of Defense were publicly predicting imminent war with China, causing Eisenhower to state, "these fellows don't realize they have a boss," and to threaten to personally take over the Defense Department.

In 1955, when Maxwell Taylor became Army Chief of Staff, Taylor's advocacy of "flexible response"—smaller, more mobile units that could fight limited wars, such as Soviet-backed insurgencies in the Third World—came into open conflict with Eisenhower's massive-retaliation doctrine. Taylor, rather than engaging in a public dispute with his Commander-in-Chief, began to recruit allies in Congress and academia to his "flexible response" policy. Among his recruits were Sen. John F. Kennedy, Paul Nitze, and McGeorge Bundy; this began to lay the groundwork for Taylor's takeover of military policy during the Kennedy Administration.

After the 1957 Soviet launch of Sputnik, Eisenhower came under intense attack for allowing the so-called "missile gap" to develop—although, to be sure, the issue had been kicking around before this. Democrat Adlai Stevenson had raised it in the 1956 election campaign. In 1957, the Air Force produced a report predicting that the Soviets would have a first-strike capability by 1963—an assessment with which even the CIA adamantly disagreed.

The same year, H. Rowan Gaither of the Ford Foundation headed a commission which concluded that the Soviets were rapidly catching up with the United States, and would soon have the capability to launch a surprise intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) attack. The report demanded a huge defense buildup, to which Eisenhower responded that he didn't want to turn the United States into a "garrison state." (Three members of the commission even advocated preventive nuclear war.)

Then, in early 1958, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund issued a report on national security which concluded: "Unless present trends are reversed, the world balance of power will shift in favor of the Soviet bloc." The Rockefeller report also called for a sharp increase in defense spending.

Adding fuel to the fire, the Washington Post's Joseph Alsop ran several articles in 1958, using falsified figures which purported to show the U.S. falling far behind the Soviets in production of ICBMs; privately, Eisenhower denounced Alsop as "about the lowest form of animal life on earth."

Eisenhower was certain that the allegations about the "missile gap" were not true, but he was constrained from disclosing classified information obtained from U-2 flights and other surveillance, which showed the Soviets lagging behind. He also knew that the United States was developing the relatively invulnerable Polaris submarine missile launcher, which would mean that the United States would retain a massive second-strike capability in response to a Soviet first-launch.

Moreover, the Cold War propaganda machine was spreading the impression around the country that Eisenhower was under-reacting to the 1958-59 Berlin crisis, and it was demanding that he order a general mobilization and foment popular uprisings in Eastern Europe. Eisenhower regarded these demands, and the incessant lobbying for increased arms spending, as "a hysteria that is largely political." As biographer Stephen Ambrose puts it when writing about this period: "One of Eisenhower's major tasks was to calm people down."

The U-2 Incident and the Paris Summit

Fearing that Richard Nixon would be his successor (although much preferring Nixon to the next alternative of Nelson Rockefeller), Eisenhower spent much of his last two years in office trying to achieve an end to the arms race and world peace. Eisenhower found himself increasingly in conflict with his Defense Department, with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the CIA—who were, for instance, pushing for more U-2 flights over the Soviet Union, which Eisenhower regarded as provocative, and for increased arms spending. In March 1959, Eisenhower felt compelled to send a message to the JCS, reminding them that "the military in this country is a tool and not a policy-making body; the Joint Chiefs are not responsible for high-level political decisions."

Eisenhower hoped to cap his Presidency with a test-ban agreement at the mid-May 1960 summit with Khrushchev in Paris, which he hoped could then pave the way toward a disarmament agreement. This was violently opposed, not only by Democrats who were gearing up the 1960 Presidential campaign, but by much of his own administration, particularly the JCS. Within the Republican Party, Rockefeller also publicly opposed Eisenhower's peace policies. Going into the 1960 campaign, all sides were calling for increasing defense spending. When the Pentagon publicly opposed Eisenhower because of his opposition to the proposed B-70 bomber, and the Air Force Chief of Staff testified before Congress that the B-70 was "vital" to the nation's defense, Eisenhower angrily denounced the military's public opposition to their Commander-in-Chief, as "damn near treason."

The Paris Summit—and Eisenhower's plans for the test-ban treaty and détente with the Soviets—were all shattered by the crash-landing of the CIA's U-2 spy plane in the Soviet Union on May 1, 1960. In the U-2 affair, Eisenhower was twice set up, by CIA Director Allen Dulles in particular—which he later realized. First, to Eisenhower's dismay, in the Spring of 1960, Dulles kept insisting on just one more flight, which Eisenhower argued could destroy the summit, if anything went wrong. Dulles and CIA Deputy Director Richard Bissell assured the President that, if anything went wrong, the plane would be destroyed by its self-destruct mechanism, the pilot would be killed, and no proof would be found by the Soviets. As a result, when the plane went down, Eisenhower, at first, unwisely denied any knowledge of the flight. Meanwhile, Khrushchev was setting a trap for him, eventually producing not only the plane, but the very-much-alive pilot, Gary Powers. There is every probability that the plane itself was deliberately sabotaged, for the purpose of thwarting Eisenhower's plans and destroying the summit.

This effectively marked the end of Eisenhower's Presidency. Thereafter, he was relegated to fighting rear-guard actions against elements in his own administration, in which the JCS continued to publicly oppose his policies. In June, the Geneva disarmament talks predictably collapsed as well, and soon the arms race was, in Eisenhower's view, out of control. He stated that the U.S. nuclear arsenal was so much larger than anything necessary to maintain superiority over the Soviets, that he called it "crazy" and "unconscionable."

The Transition to Kennedy

Taking advantage of Eisenhower's weakened state, Dulles and his "special warfare" allies in the Pentagon were putting operations in place for the next administration—whether it would be headed by Nixon or Kennedy. This included escalating the preparations for a paramilitary invasion of Cuba. Again, under pressure from Dulles, Eisenhower approved the creation of a paramilitary force, but he opposed any invasion unless a viable government-in-exile had been established. And, as he always did, he insisted that any CIA paramilitary operation be small and be deniable.

Dulles, Col. Edward Lansdale, and their allies in the Pentagon also were able to establish the Army Special Warfare Center at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, shortly before the November elections. Their plans were greatly aided by the recruitment of Maxwell Taylor to "unconventional warfare" programs during the last year of Taylor's term as Army Chief of Staff, in 1959. More than anyone else, Taylor facilitated the marriage of the Army Special Forces and the CIA around counterinsurgency operations.

The curriculum for the Special Warfare school was drafted by Lansdale, the CIA's top counterinsurgency expert (although officially on the Air Force payroll), who spent most of the 1950s in the Philippines and then in Vietnam. By this time, Lansdale had returned from Vietnam and was posted to the Office of Special Operations in the Pentagon. The curriculum was heavily weighted toward counterinsurgency and pacification tactics modelled on the British experience in Malaya and the French tactics in Algeria. (Ironically, the school at Fort Bragg was later named the "John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center.")

Simultaneously, the CIA and its allied Special Warfare proponents in the Pentagon were building up their "advisory" operations in Vietnam during 1960, preparing yet another fait accompli, this time for the new President.

As background to this, it should be recalled that Eisenhower had been adamantly opposed to bailing out the French in Vietnam. While he was NATO Commander, he urged the French to grant independence to Indochina. In large respect, Eisenhower shared Franklin Roosevelt's anti-colonial views, telling Winston Churchill in 1953 that old-style colonialism could not last. In his first meeting with Churchill and French Premier Laniel, Eisenhower is reported to have regarded them as blind on the question of colonialism. Eisenhower later refused to support the French in Algeria, saying: "We cannot abandon our old principles of supporting national freedom and self-determination, and we cannot join the colonialists."

In 1954, as the French were nearing defeat in Vietnam, Eisenhower was confronted with demands for U.S. military intervention, ranging from sending in ground troops, to bombing the Viet Minh with atomic weapons. He declared that such an intervention "would lay us open to the charge of imperialism and colonialism." After the French were defeated at Dien Bien Phu, when the JCS and the National Security Council proposed attacking China with atomic weapons, Eisenhower responded: "You boys must be crazy. We can't use those awful weapons against Asians for the second time in ten years. My God."

Nevertheless, Eisenhower did agree to Dulles' demand that the United States send military advisers into Vietnam under the auspice of the CIA; Lansdale was brought from the Philippines to Vietnam in mid-1954 to head the Saigon Military Mission—which set the groundwork for the growth of the U.S. intervention forces during the Eisenhower and Kennedy Administrations.

But, by the time of his assassination, President Kennedy had publicly announced his plans to bring the U.S. troops home and to end the war. Kennedy's policy was reversed literally within days of his murder, so that by the early 1970s, the United States had more than 50,000 troops there—something which was unimaginable to Eisenhower. Indeed, during the transition period, Eisenhower briefed Kennedy on two occasions that Laos (not Vietnam) was the biggest problem he would face in Southeast Asia.

To sum up the situation: In the period running up to his handing over the Presidency to Kennedy, Eisenhower was faced with attacks on his defense policies from both Republicans and Democrats, and with a rising frenzy over the "missile gap" and "rocket gap." He had lost his fight to restrain military spending, and his hopes for a peace agreement and détente with the Soviets lay in tatters. And the "Special Warfare" capabilities in the military-CIA interface were being rapidly expanded in preparation for escalating U.S. involvement in Vietnam and other "limited" wars.

Eisenhower's Farewell

Exemplary of what Eisenhower faced from the "clash of civilizations" crowd in that period, was the 1960 book A Forward Strategy for America, published by Strausz-Hupé's FPRI.

Forward Strategy started from the assumption that America was losing the Cold War, that the Soviets were winning, and that it was illusory to believe that any sort of general settlement with the Soviets could be reached. Strausz-Hupé et al. claimed that during the previous five years (i.e., since about 1955), the United States "has been caught in an uncomfortable trap set by the communists" around disarmament plans, and that the U.S. leadership has been trying "to placate world opinion on the subject of disarmament." They contended, in discussing the nuclear test ban negotiations, that since October 1958, "American policy, especially the unilateral moratorium on tests, has actually jeopardized national security."

Without doubt, the entire argument for an aggressive "forward strategy" against communism, was explicitly aimed at what Strausz-Hupé et al. described as the failure of U.S. policy during the Eisenhower Administration.

This is the backdrop to Eisenhower's January 1961 Farewell Address. In addition to warning against the growing influence of the military-industrial complex, Eisenhower also declared his disappointment over his failure to achieve a disarmament agreement.

"Disarmament, with mutual honor and confidence, is a continuing imperative.... Because this need is so sharp and apparent I confess that I lay down my official responsibilities in this field with a definite sense of disappointment. As one who has witnessed the horror and the lingering sadness of war, as one who knows that another war could utterly destroy this civilization which has been so slowly and painfully built over thousands of years, I wish I could say tonight that peace is in sight. Happily, I can say that war has been avoided."

Kennedy in the Presidency, Surrounded

Four days later, John F. Kennedy was sworn in as President. Having campaigned as a "hawk" relative to Eisenhower, both Jack Kennedy and his brother Bobby were susceptible to the blandishments of Allen Dulles. The first trap set for them was the April 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion, the invasion force having grown from the 300 approved by Eisenhower, to 3,000. The Joint Chiefs thought the CIA operation was doomed to failure, but they kept their mouths shut, letting Kennedy go ahead with the operation. Besides the CIA's overestimation of the Cuban population's propensity to rise up in revolt against Castro, the crucial element in the disaster was the calling off of the planned air strikes, for which Kennedy was blamed, but which was actually done by his National Security Adviser, McGeorge Bundy.

Kennedy took full responsibility for the failure, but he was determined to get to the bottom of why it had happened. Unfortunately, he called Maxwell Taylor back from retirement to sit on an investigative commission, the Cuba Study Group. From this point on—if not before—CIA Director Allen Dulles targetted Taylor for recruitment to function as the chief advocate and front-man in the White House for counterinsurgency and unconventional warfare. The Cuba commission also included Bobby Kennedy, and of course Dulles, who was able to orchestrate the commission's hearings so as to shift the blame for the Bay of Pigs fiasco to the JCS and the military, away from the CIA.

Dulles was also able to manipulate the commission's proceedings with respect to the future, not just the past, so that Jack and Bobby Kennedy became convinced that it was urgent to expand U.S. counterinsurgency and counter-guerrilla-warfare training and capabilities.

But President Kennedy drew another lesson from this—that he had to gain control over the CIA and the military. With guidance from Taylor, Kennedy drafted National Security Action Memorandum (NSAM) #55, which made the Joint Chiefs responsible for peacetime clandestine operations. This would have removed such responsibility from the CIA—which, it can be argued, it was never supposed to have in the first place. (Under the National Security Act of 1947, the CIA was charged with the coordination and analysis of intelligence gathered by others, not with either collection of intelligence, or covert operations.) In any event, the Joint Chiefs, headed by the more traditionalist Gen. Lyman Lemnitzer, did not want the responsibility for clandestine operations, and the CIA did not want it taken away, so Kennedy's policy was never implemented.

The second trap being set for Kennedy was Vietnam. On the same day as the final failure of the Bay of Pigs invasion—April 20, 1961—Kennedy approved a proposal for an expanded counterinsurgency program for Vietnam; the task force created to implement the program, was headed by Deputy Secretary of Defense (and Wall Street lawyer) Roswell Gilpatric. The task force's chief operating officer was Lansdale—who had gotten his foot in the door giving a face-to-face briefing on Vietnam to the new President only a week after the inauguration.

But Kennedy was getting some other, contrary advice on Vietnam—which made a lasting impact on him—from Gen. Douglas MacArthur (ret.). Kennedy first called on MacArthur in late April, and then had a three-hour discussion with him at the White House in July 1961. MacArthur gave Kennedy his famous warning against getting involved in a land war in Asia, imploring Kennedy to avoid a military buildup in Vietnam or anywhere else in Asia, and declaring that the "domino theory" was ridiculous. During 1963, when Kennedy was under enormous pressure to escalate in Vietnam and to send U.S. combat troops, he would often say, "Get General MacArthur to agree, and I will, too."

In October 1963, Kennedy made his policy on Vietnam official, with the issuance of NSAM #263, which called for the withdrawal of 1,000 U.S. troops from Vietnam by Christmas 1963, and for the bulk of U.S. troops to be pulled out by 1965. Six weeks later, Kennedy was dead, and his policy was reversed almost instantaneously.

'Operation Northwoods'

Meanwhile, in late 1961, the Cuba Study Group gave rise to the Cuba task force, whose objective was the overthrow of Fidel Castro, in what was known as "Operation Mongoose." The chief operations officer of the Cuba task force was, not surprisingly, Edward Lansdale.

That the Cuba project was plotting the assassination of Castro is well known. What was not known, until recently, was that, during 1962, the Cuba task force was also proposing to carry out acts of terrorism against the United States, to be blamed on Cuba, for the purpose of dragging the United States into a war against Cuba.

The 1962 terrorism plan was called "Operation Northwoods," and it was issued under the signature of JCS Chairman Lyman Lemnitzer. But, in the manner in which such things were done, it was almost certainly drafted by Lansdale and his team on the Cuba task force, and then presented to Lemnitzer for his signature, so that he would then present it to Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara. (It is not certain that McNamara ever received the documents; in April 2001, the Baltimore Sun quoted McNamara saying, "I never heard of it. I can't believe the Chiefs were talking about or engaged in what I would call CIA-type operations.")

Lemnitzer's covering memorandum stated that the Joint Chiefs of Staff "have considered" the attached memorandum, which is a "description of pretexts which would provide justification for military intervention in Cuba." He says that it is assumed "that a single agency will be given primary responsibility for developing military and para-military aspects of the basic plan," and he recommends that this responsibility be assigned to the Joint Chiefs.

The attached memorandum, entitled "Justification for U.S. Military Intervention in Cuba," states that it is assumed that a political decision for a U.S. military intervention "will result from a period of heightened U.S.-Cuban tensions which place the United States in the position of suffering justifiable grievances." World opinion and the United Nations "should be favorably affected by developing the image of the Cuban government as rash and irresponsible, and as an alarming and unpredictable threat to the peace of the Western Hemisphere."

What then follows, is a series of proposals for actions which would be used to provide the justification for U.S. military intervention.

The first proposal was for "a series of well-coordinated incidents" to take place in and around the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; these were to include having friendly Cubans dress in Cuban military uniforms to start riots at the base, to blow up ammunition inside the base, to start fires, to burn aircraft on the air base, to sabotage a ship in the harbor, and to sink a ship near the harbor entrance.

The next: "A 'Remember the Maine' incident could be arranged.... We could blow up a U.S. ship in Guantanamo Bay and blame Cuba," or blow up a drone ship in Cuban waters. The memorandum coldly predicted: "Casualty lists in U.S. newspapers would cause a helpful wave of national indignation."

The memorandum continued: "We could develop a Communist Cuba terror campaign in the Miami area, in other Florida cities and even in Washington. The terror campaign could be pointed at Cuban refugees seeking haven in the United States. We could sink a boatload of Cubans en route to Florida (real or simulated). We could foster attempts on the lives of Cuban refugees in the United States....

"Exploding a few plastic bombs in carefully chosen spots, the arrests of Cuban agents and the release of prepared documents also would be helpful."

Among other actions proposed were to use fake Soviet MiG aircraft to harass civil aircraft, to attack surface shipping, and to destroy U.S. military drone aircraft. "Hijacking attempts against civil air and surface craft" were also suggested, and then—the most elaborated plan of all—to simulate the shooting down of a chartered civil airliner in Cuban airspace.

President Kennedy rejected the plan, and the military directed that all the pertinent documents be destroyed. Nevertheless, some of the documents did survive, and, hidden by heavy classification for decades, they only came to light recently.

'Political Warfare'

Parallel to the operations being run by Dulles and Lansdale within the CIA/military apparatus, were the "private" operations run by FPRI, IAS, and the Richardson Foundation networks that had been identified in the Fulbright Memorandum.

A key operative in these networks was Frank Barnett, then the Director of Research for the H. Smith Richardson Foundation, and also IAS's Program Director. For the sake of historical continuity, it is worth noting that, in 1961, Barnett helped to found the National Strategy Information Center (NSIC) of Prescott Bush (G.W. Bush's grandfather) et al., which later picked up major funding from Richard Mellon Scaife. It was the NSIC which brought us the 1981 Executive Order 12333—the charter of the Reagan-Bush "secret goverment" and "Iran-Contra," among other things.

Back in 1951, Barnett had proposed to create an American-sponsored foreign legion recruited from among refugees from the Soviet bloc, to be called the "captive nations brigade." It was to be composed of Russians, Poles, Hungarians, Ukrainians, Chinese, Koreans, and others. Barnett also urged the creation of a separate Cabinet office on Cold War strategy, and the creation of a "West Point of political warfare."

By 1961, Barnett appears to have dropped his idea for a foreign legion, but he was promoting a form of low-intensity warfare-cum-terrorism which he called "political warfare." He wrote an article titled "A Proposal for Political Warfare," published in the Military Review journal in March 1961, which can be seen as a specific follow-up to FPRI's 1960 Forward Strategy. Barnett defined political warfare as much more than just propaganda:

"Political warfare is a sustained effort by a government or political group to seize, preserve, or extend power, against a defined ideological enemy, through all acts short of a shooting war by regular military forces, but not excluding the threat of such a war. Political warfare, in short, is warfare, not public relations. It is one part persuasion and two parts deception. It embraces diverse forms of coercion and violence including strikes and riots, economic sanctions, subsidies for guerrilla or proxy warfare and, when necessary, kidnapping or assassination of enemy elites."

Barnett then muted his talk about riots and assassinations, and called for a sustained campaign to mobilize and educate key military and civilian leaders in the fight against communism. He complained that the Free World hadn't even agreed yet to define communism as the enemy. In some countries, he griped, Communist parties are legal, Communists freely raise money for subversion, teach in universities, control labor unions, even in vital industries. "The West has not clearly defined an enemy. We do not admit we are at war.... We have no agreed ideological goals."

Barnett argued that most Sino-Soviet advances could be rolled back, if public opinion in the Western democracies were sufficiently alert to the nature of communist aggression. But "if the American people do not do their homework on Mao, Lenin, and Clausewitz, they are likely to put pressure on Washington for more social welfare [sic]." Just as the British people demanded luxury and peace-in-our-time on the eve of Dunkerque, Barnett wrote, "An American public, indifferent to Communist aims and techniques, might lobby for more fringe benefits, special interests, and privileges as usual."

As a case study of what should be done, Barnett described the seminars then being conducted jointly by the military and IAS. IAS was created in 1958 and was sponsored by the Richardson Foundation, he said, and could be called "a travelling civilian war college." The IAS had recommended to the JCS that a two-week Strategy Seminar for Reserve and National Guard officers be held, which would include educators, political leaders, businessmen, editors and publishers, etc. This was held at the National War College in 1959, and its curriculum on Communist protracted conflict and possible American counter-strategies was prepared by FPRI. Since then, Barnett boasted, more than 25 regional, weekend seminars had been held around the country.

Barnett proposed targetting four specific segments of military society for his "political warfare" legions: 1) Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) students and Reserve Officer educators; 2) enlisted personnel who will be returning to civilian life as teachers, editors, businessmen, etc.; 3) foreign military officers who come to the United States for training, and who form personal relationships with their counterparts here; and 4) retired military officers and reserve officers, particularly those who work overseas for U.S. banks, corporations, and trade associations, as well as those in the United States.

Barnett concluded with a plea for "the U.S. military—with its disciplined organization, training methods, and civilian contacts through ROTC, reserves, and industry"—to take a leading role in helping others wage "non-military," i.e., political, warfare.

The coincidence of Barnett's proposals, and the types of actions which Lansdale and the Office of Special Operations in the Pentagon were carrying out during the Kennedy Administration, are obvious.

What Did Fulbright Know?

One final note: After the Congressional hearings in 1961-62 on military propaganda and "Cold War education" activities, and despite Barnett's grandiose plan, the seminars and related activities appear to have gone underground for a period of time. But in 1965, Lansdale, by now "retired" from the government, proposed a revival of the Cold War seminars. He was a principal author of a proposal to the American Security Council (of which he was then an official) to create a new forum, called the Freedom Studies Center, which was established on an estate near Culpeper, Virginia. (The property was still in the hands of the American Security Council until this year.)

On the planning committee for the Freedom Studies Center was one Ed Butler, who only a couple of years earlier had been a key part of the operation in New Orleans to create a "legend" around Lee Harvey Oswald, the patsy in the Kennedy assassination.

As we noted at the outset, the Fulbright Memorandum warned that the political activities being carried out by the military, and by private institutions such as FPRI and the Richardson Foundation under official military auspices, constituted a threat to President Kennedy's programs and policies. To what extent Senator Fulbright was aware of the emergence of the threat to Kennedy's life is not known—although it is confirmed that Fulbright warned President Kennedy not to go to Dallas a few weeks before Kennedy's fateful trip. But, when taken in light of what we now know today—and the reemergence of a military coup threat today—Senator Fulbright's warnings from 1961 are indeed worth pondering.


[1] The author wishes to acknowledge the assistance of the Special Collections Division of the University of Arkansas Libraries, which houses the J. William Fulbright Papers.

[2] Senator Fulbright's memorandum was printed in the Congressional Record, on Aug. 2, 1961, pp. 14433-14439 (Senate). The Fulbright Memorandum was not, as James Bamford erroneously states in his 2001 book Body of Secrets, a report of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The author credits Bamford's book with first drawing his attention to the existence of the Fulbright Memorandum and to "Operation Northwoods," described infra.

[3] In 1958-61, Charles de Gaulle put down three attempts at coups d'état against the government of France, and faced a total of 14 assassination attempts. A group of military officers, enraged at de Gaulle and other political leaders of France who wished to grant independence to the French colony of Algeria, organized an underground organization, called the Organisation Armée Secrète (OAS). The OAS's civilian leader was Jacques Soustelle, a member of France's Parliament, and a former Governor General of Algeria. As a result of the French government's investigations into OAS responsibility for the coup and assassination attempts, Soustelle was forced into exile in Italy. The shadowy organization called Permindex, with which Soustelle had been associated since World War II, was kicked out of France when it was discovered that it had provided the international funding for the OAS. Permindex was later implicated in both the John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King assassinations in the United States.

[4] FPRI and Strausz-Hupé correspondence, William Yandell Elliott Collection, Box 100, Hoover Institution Archives, Stanford, California. For a profile of Elliott, see EIR, Jan. 25, 2002. Lyndon LaRouche described him as "a modern Mephistopheles," the follower of H.G. Wells' influence who created such monsters as Zbigniew Brzezinski, Samuel Huntington, and Henry Kissinger ("Zbigniew Brzezinski and September 11th," EIR, Jan. 11, 2002).

[5] Stephen E. Ambrose, Eisenhower: The President (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1984).

Subscribe to EIR