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From the JFK Assassination Files: CIA Plots On Foreign Leaders Part 1

November 22, 1963. A date forever etched into the history texts of America: JFK’s assassination. A litany of conspiracy theories have occupied the public’s interest for the last 54 years. Theories ranging from mob hits, to the industrial war machine, to political fringe groups. Now, President Trump has given the green light on another round of JFK assassination archive data dumps.  The latest smattering of formerly top-secret investigative files are available to the public. As a former investigator, I plan on gleaning through the files in the coming weeks.  My hope is to provide you with any insights I come across.  The next three articles will focus on the CIA’s attempts to assassinate foreign leaders.

The “Rockefeller Commission” Investigates CIA Assassination Plots

top secret dossier, cia assassination, rockefeller files
The layers of the onion are peeling back.

The first file I stumbled across was an 84 page dossier compiled on May 30th, 1975. It was the summary of an investigation conducted by one David Belin.  Belin was an attorney who also worked on the infamous Warren Commission.  He was a staunch believer that Lee Harvey Oswald killed JFK. Belin was named Executive Director of the CIA Commission (otherwise known as the Rockefeller Commission) in 1975 by President Gerald Ford. The commission’s purpose: to investigate the CIA’s involvement in assassination attempts on foreign leader’s “which had significant overt activities within the United States” (Pg. 4).

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Belin’s investigation was met with closed doors by the National Security Council and hushed spooks on the “Forty Committee.” They denied him full access to their records. That didn’t stop Belin though. The 84 page dossier focuses on interviews with former CIA agents who plotted against international leaders.  The dossier mainly focuses on the communist dictator Fidel Castro, but also gives insight into other world leaders the CIA tried to assassinate.  Although it’s been covered in the past, this is the first time documents are proving the plots through government evidence. What really stands out is the utter disorganization and lack of transparency amidst the government at the time.

The CIA “Masterminds”

CIA director, assassination attempt, jfk files
Richard Bissell. CIA Deputy Director for Plans (Wikipedia)

It appears the two main CIA ringleaders plotting international assassinations were Richard Bissell (CIA Deputy Director of Plans and responsible for the Bay of Pigs disaster) and Colonel Sheffield Edwards (Director of the Office of Security of the CIA). The plans to assassinate Fidel Castro started in the beginning of 1961. Which according to Belin, Colonel Edwards admitted that the inception of the Castro assassination plot “was in the Kennedy Administration.” (Pg. 11).

Using the Mob Syndicate

sam giancana, cia mobster, assassination plot
Sam Giancana (Wikipedia)

Colonel Edwards personally contacted an intermediary (Robert Maheu) to contract a Mafia syndicate “hoodlum” (Pg. 21) out of Chicago named Sam Giancana. The CIA offered to pay $150,000 dollars to set up a hit on Castro. But, according to testimony – all parties denied payment “emphatically” and never received payment.  Giancana agreed to utilize his gambling connections in Cuba to set up assets who could carry out assassination orders.  Giancana was a mess, and possibly the reason for all the failed attempts on Castro’s life.

At one point during the planning, Giancana was worried that his mistress (a Las Vegas entertainer) was cheating on him with another Las Vegas performer. He asked the CIA to install listening devices in his mistresses’ room, in the middle of preparing for an assassination operation. If they wouldn’t help, Giancana vowed to go to Las Vegas and do it himself. The case officer realized how crucial the timing was and employed an intermediary. The intermediary then sought out a Private Investigator to bug the mistresses’ phone for Giancana.

Alas, the Private Investigator got caught in the act by local authorities. The FBI got involved.  They had no idea about the Castro plots and then unlocked a whole other can of worms. Talk about a shit sandwich. You really can’t make this stuff up. Makes you wonder who’s really calling the shots, cause it sure as hell wasn’t JFK (as I’ll point to in the next article).

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, the release of the Rockefeller Commission report demonstrates the incompetence and internal subterfuge that took place in the 60s. The CIA decided to utilize criminal syndicate assets and it bit them in the ass every time.  I have a feeling we are just getting to the tip of the iceberg when it comes to shady dealings during the Kennedy era.  What are your thoughts? Leave them in the comment section below.

Be sure to check out Part II of the series to learn about the CIA’s hair-brained assassination plots on Castro.

Or skip ahead to Part III.

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The Author

Travis Mandell

Travis Mandell

Former South Florida Police Officer and Detective. Certified in criminal investigations, narcotics, tactical response and firearms. Now that he is in the private sector, he enjoys his constitutional freedom of speech once more. He's always down for some fishing, motorcycle adventures, or camping in the great outdoors.