How It All Began - The U-2 and the Bay of Pigs
To understand the origins of the Power Control Group, it is necessary to return to the last years of the Eisenhower administration and examine what was going on in the Cold War.
Eisenhower had suffered several strokes and a heart attack. He was partially immobilized, and entrusted a major share of the coordination of clandestine activities being conducted by the CIA against the "Red Menace" to Richard Nixon, his vice president. While Ike was warning against the military-industrial-complex's domestic influence, and attempting to move toward detente with the Soviets through a summit meeting, he was being sabotaged by the plans section of the CIA and by Richard Nixon.
A part of the CIA arranged for a U-2 with Gary Powers as pilot to go down over Russia, thus giving Khrushchev a chance to expose American spying and to cancel the summit meeting. This was one of the earliest moves of the nucleus of what later evolved into the Power Control Group. In the spring of 1960, with Ike nearly senile and pressured by Nixon, he approved the plan for the invasion of Cuba and the assassination of Castro. Nixon was the chief White House action officer for what later became the Bay of Pigs invasion.
The Power Control Group was beginning to organize itself with Nixon as part of it. The cold warriors and strong anti-Communist "patriots" in the Plans or Operations part of the CIA formed the original nucleus.
Their plan was to make Nixon president in 1961 and to launch a successful takeover of Cuba. John Kennedy came along to upset the plan. Not only did he make the takeover impossible but he soon discovered the evils lurking in the hearts and minds of the CIA clandestine operators and laid his own plans to destroy them. The assassination of John Kennedy essentially became an act of survival for some of these individuals.
Many citizens of America have forgotten that Richard Nixon was Vice President of the United States in 1959 and 1960. As an old anti-communist from the Alger Hiss and Khrushchev debating days, Nixon was in the forefront of pressure for the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba. What is also forgotten is that Nixon was largely responsible for the covert training of Cuban exiles by the CIA in preparation for the Bay of Pigs. (He stated this in his book, Six Crises.)
Nixon's Lies -- October 1960. Mr. Nixon's capacity for truth is nowhere more clearly demonstrated than by the deliberate lies he told during the election campaign on national TV on October 21, 1960. He said in his book that the lies were told for a patriotic reason -- to protect the covert operations planned for the Bay of Pigs at all costs. The significance of this is that Mr. Nixon considers patriotism to be, in part, the protection of plans and actions of individuals that he considered to be working for the United States' best interests.
The similarities between the actions of Everette Howard Hunt, Jr., James McCord, Bernard Barker, Frank Sturgis, and others in the 1960 planning for the Bay of Pigs invasion and in the 1972 planning for the re-election of Richard M. Nixon are very striking. In both cases, what the plotters themselves considered to be patriotic, anti-Communist actions were involved. In 1960 the actions were directed against Fidel Castro, a man they hated as a Communist. In 1972 the actions were directed against Edward Kennedy, Edmund Muskie and George McGovern. Bernard Barker stated the group's collective belief when he said after his arrest that, "We believe that an election of McGovern would be the beginning of a trend that would lead to socialism and communism, or whatever you want to call it."
Nixon admitted lying to the American people to protect Hunt, Barker, Sturgis, and McCord in 1960. The likelihood that he lied to protect them again in 1972 seems to be quite good. There is some likelihood that he actually hired the same old crew he trusted from the Bay of Pigs days for the 1972 Watergate and other espionage activities.
Here are the facts:
Nixon's Statements in Six Crises
Richard Nixon stated in Six Crises: "The covert training of Cuban exiles by the CIA was due in substantial part, at least, to my efforts. This had been adopted as a policy as a result of my direct support." "President Eisenhower had ordered the CIA to arm and train the exiles in May of 1960. Nixon and his advisors wanted the CIA invasion to take place before the voters went to the polls on November 8, 1960."
While the Bay of Pigs operation was under the overall CIA direction of Allen Dulles, Richard M. Bissell, Jr. was the CIA man in charge, according to Ross & Wise. Charles Cabell, the deputy director of the CIA, and a man with the code name Frank Bender, were also near the top of the operational planning.
E. Howard Hunt
Everette Howard Hunt, Jr. was in charge of the actual invasion. He used the code name, "Eduardo." Bernard L. Barker, using the code name "Macho," worked for Hunt in the CIA Bay of Pigs planning. James McCord was an organizer for the invasion and was one of the highest ranking officials in the CIA. Frank Sturgis, alias Frank Fiorini, was also involved in the Bay of Pigs operations. Virgilio Gonzales was a CIA agent active in the Bay of Pigs. So was Eugenio Martinez. Charles Colson was a former CIA official who knew McCord and Hunt during the Bay of Pigs period.
Hunt, Barker, McCord, Sturgis, Gonzales, and Martinez were under indictment for the Watergate affair. Colson was Nixon's special counsel who handled "touchy" political assignments. According to Time magazine, Colson brought all of the others into the re-election committee espionage project at the request of Nixon.
In other words, it was basically the same group who worked for Nixon, Bissell and Co. in 1960 and who worked for Nixon, Colson and Co. in 1972. They were all loyal, patriotic, anti-Communist, and anti-Castro CIA agents with covert (black) espionage training. They needed Nixon's protection in 1960 and 1972, and they received it both times.
Here is how Nixon protected them in 1960.
Kennedy-Nixon Debates, 1960
John Kennedy and Richard Nixon engaged in a series of national TV debates during the 1960 campaign. Kennedy was briefed by Allen Dulles, head of the CIA at Eisenhower's request, on secret CIA activities and international problems on July 23, 1960. Nixon was not aware of the briefing contents and was not sure whether Dulles told Kennedy about the Bay of Pigs plans. As it turned out Dulles had not mentioned the plans but had kept his remarks about Cuba rather general.
On October 6, 1960, Kennedy gave his major speech on Cuba. He said that events might create an opportunity for the U.S. to bring influence on behalf of the cause of freedom in Cuba. He called for encouraging those liberty-loving Cubans who were leading the resistance against Castro.
Nixon became very disturbed about this because he felt Kennedy was trying to pre-empt a policy which he claimed as his own. Nixon ordered Fred Seaton, Secretary of the Interior, to call the White House and find out whether Dulles had briefed Kennedy on the Cuban invasion plans. Seaton talked to General Andrew Goodpaster, Eisenhower's link to the CIA, who told Seaton that Kennedy did know about the Bay of Pigs plans.
Attack on Kennedy by Lying
Nixon became incensed. He said, "There was only one thing I could do. The covert operation had to be protected at all costs. I must not even suggest by implication that the U.S. was rendering aid to rebel forces in and out of Cuba. In fact, I must go to the other extreme: I must attack the Kennedy proposal to provide such aid as wrong and irresponsible because it would violate our treaty commitments."
So Richard M. Nixon actually went on national TV (ABC) on October 21, 1960, knowing we were going to invade Cuba, and lied. During the fourth TV debate, Nixon attacked Kennedy's proposal as dangerously irresponsible and in violation of five treaties between the U.S. and Latin America, as well as the United Nations' Charter.
On October 22 at Muhlenberg College, Nixon really turned on the fabrication steam. He said, "Kennedy called for -- and get this -- the U.S. Government to support a revolution in Cuba, and I say that this is the most shockingly reckless proposal ever made in our history by a presidential candidate during a campaign -- and I'll tell you why . . ."
The reason we should have taken with a grain of salt whatever words Nixon uttered about Watergate and Donald Segretti's espionage is clearly demonstrated in that October 22, 1960 speech. He fiercely attacked John Kennedy for advocating a plan that he, Richard Nixon, secretly advocated and claimed as his own creation. He later had the sheer gall to brag about it in his own book as a very patriotic act.
Protection of Hunt and Co.
How was Nixon protecting Hunt and company in 1972? He was using the Justice Department and the Republican Congressmen, among others, to delay and dilute the prosecution of the Watergate seven. He had slowed down, suppressed, and all but stopped six separate investigations, suits, and trials of the affair. Included were Wright Patman's House Banking Committee investigation, the FBI-Justice Department investigation, a White House investigation by John Dean, a General Accounting Office investigation, a suit by the Democratic Party, and a trial in criminal court of the seven invaders. Only two trials or investigations had a chance of exposing the truth at that time. One of these, a trial of Bernard Barker in Florida was not much help. The other was an investigation promised by Senator Edward Kennedy and his Senate subcommittee. It never occurred. The action for impeachment came much later.
Thus, the stage was set in 1961 for the group of powerful individuals who had planned the Bay of Pigs to gain revenge on John Kennedy who tried to change the overall direction of the U.S. battle against Communism. After JFK refused to approve overt U.S. backing of the Bay of Pigs invasion, various individuals in the clandestine CIA forces vowed their revenge.
In the spring of 1961, evidence had appeared indicating that Helms, Hunt, Sturgis and Barker tried to have JFK assassinated in Paris. When the attempt failed, a number of other plots and sub-plots developed through the next two years. After JFK's blockade strategy against Castro during the missile crisis in 1962 was implemented, some of the high-level CIA and armed forces people wanted even more to get him out of the White House. They had favored a direct invasion or bombing of Cuba.
And finally, when JFK found out about the CIA's plans for another invasion of Cuba in the spring and summer of 1963 and stopped them, they began in earnest to plan his death.
Six Crises, Richard M. Nixon, Doubleday, 1962.
The Invisible Government, Wise & Ross, Random House, 1964.
Brother of Earl Cabell, mayor of Dallas when Kennedy was assassinated.
New York Times articles on Watergate, June 18 to July 2, 1972.
Time magazine, September 8, 1972.
This episode is related in detail in The Invisible Government.
The Invisible Government.
400,000 Dollars Pour Abattre Kennedy a Paris, Camille Giles, Julliard Press, Paris 1973.
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