Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Classified papers detail CIA plot to kill Fidel Castro in 1960

Posted on Wed, Jun. 27, 2007

Classified papers detail CIA plot to kill Fidel Castro in 1960
Associated Press Writer

The CIA recruited a former FBI agent to approach two of America's
most-wanted mobsters and gave them poison pills meant for Fidel Castro
during his first year in power, according to newly declassified papers
released Tuesday.

Contained amid hundreds of pages of CIA internal reports collectively
known as "the family jewels," the official confirmation of the 1960 plot
against Castro was certain to be welcomed by communist authorities as
more proof of their long-standing claims that the United States wants
Castro dead.

Communist officials say there have been more than 600 documented
attempts to kill Castro over the decades. Now 80, Castro has not been
seen in public since handing power to his younger brother Raul while
recovering from intestinal surgery last July. But in a letter published
on Monday, the elder Castro claimed without providing details that
President Bush had "authorized and ordered" his killing.

And while Cuban government press officials didn't return a call seeking
reaction Tuesday, the release of the newly declassified CIA documents
had already been noted in state media.

"Upon the orders of the White House, the Central Intelligence Agency
tried to assassinate President Fidel Castro and other former
personalities and leaders," the Communist Party newspaper Granma said
Saturday. "What was already presumed and denounced will be corroborated."

Other aborted U.S. attempts to kill Castro, who rose to power in January
1959 in a revolution that ousted dictator Fulgencio Batista, have been
noted in other declassified documents.

The papers released Tuesday were part of a report prepared at the
request of CIA Director James Schlesinger in 1973, who ordered senior
agency officials to tell him of any current or past actions that could
potentially violate the agency's charter.

Some details of the 1960 plot first surfaced in investigative reporter
Jack Anderson's newspaper column in 1971.

The documents show that in August 1960, the CIA recruited ex-FBI agent
Robert Maheu, then a top aide to Howard Hughes in Las Vegas, to approach
mobster Johnny Roselli and pass himself off as the representative of
international corporations that wanted Castro killed because of their
lost gambling operations.

At the time, the bearded rebels had just outlawed gambling and destroyed
the world-famous casinos American mobsters had operated in Havana.

Roselli introduced Maheu to "Sam Gold" and "Joe." Both were mobsters on
the U.S. government's 10-most wanted list: Momo Giancana, Al Capone's
successor in Chicago; and Santos Trafficante, one of the most powerful
mobsters in Batista's Cuba. The agency gave the reputed mobsters six
poison pills, and they tried unsuccessfully for several months to have
several people put them in Castro's food.

This particular assassination attempt was dropped after the failed
CIA-sponsored Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in April 1961. The CIA was
able to retrieve all the poison pills, records show.

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