Operation 40

(Oswald did it, right?)

All Things Cuba Directed from JM/WAVE Miami...

The Cuban Task Force:

-December 11, 1959: Colonel J. C. King, chief of CIA's Western Hemisphere Division, memorandum to Allen Dulles, CIA Director stating that a "far-left dictatorship, which if allowed to remain will encourage similar actions against U.S. holdings in other Latin American countries."

-Dulles established Operation 40.(there were 40 agents-later 70)

-Operation 40 run by Richard M. Nixon.

-Tracy Barnes assigned as operating officer.

-David Atlee Phillips, E. Howard Hunt, Jack Esterline, and Frank Bender present at initial conference at Barnes's office.

Vice President Richard M. Nixon

Presided over Operation 40

Tracy Barnes, CIA

Chief Operating Officer

E. Howard Hunt, CIA

David Atlee Phillips, CIA

Jake Esterline, CIA

Frank Bender aka Gerry Droller

The CIA assembled virtually the same team that was involved in the removal of Arbenz in Guatemala : Tracey Barnes, Richard Bissell, David Morales, David Atlee Phillips, E. Howard Hunt, Rip Robertson and Henry Hecksher. Added to this list was several agents who had been involved in undercover operations in Germany: Ted Shackley, Tom Clines and William Harvey.

Richard J. Bisell

Henry Hecksher

Rip Robertson




Schlesinger's Memo

June 9, 1961


Sam Halper, who has been the Times correspondent in Habana and more

recently in Miami, came to see me last week. He has excellent contracts among

the Cuban exiles. One of Miro's comments this morning reminded me that I have

been meaning to pass on the following story as told me by Halper. Halper says

that CIA set up something called Operation 40 under the direction of a man named

(as he recalled) Captain Luis Sanjenis, who was also chief of intelligence.

(Could this be the man to whom Miro referred this morning?) It was called

Operation 40 because originally only 40 men were involved: later the group was

enlarged to 70. The ostensible purpose of Operation 40 was to administer

liberated territories in Cuba. But the CIA agent in charge, a man known as

Felix, trained the members of the group in methods of third degree

interrogation, torture and general terrorism. The liberal Cuban exiles believe

that the real purpose of Operation 40 was to "kill Communists" and, after

eliminating hard-core Fidelistas, to go on to eliminate first the followers of

Ray, then the followers of Varona and finally to set up a right wing

dictatorship, presumably under Artime. Varona fired Sanjenis as chief of

intelligence after the landings and appointed a man named Despaign in his place.

Sanjenis removed 40 files and set up his own office; the exiles believe that he

continues to have CIA support. As for the intelligence operation, the CIA is

alleged to have said that, if Varona fired Sanjenis, let Varona pay the bills.

Subsequently Sanjenis's hoods beat up Despaign's chief aide; and Despaign

himself was arrested on a charge of trespassing brought by Sanjenis. The

exiles believe that all these things had CIA approval. Halper says that Lt Col

Vireia Castro (1820 SW 6th Street, Miami; FR 4 3684) can supply further

details. Halper also quotes Bender as having said at one point when someone

talked about the Cuban revolution against Castro: "The Cuban Revolution? The

Cuban Revolution is something I carry around in my checkbook.

"Nice fellows,

Arthur Schlesinger, Jr

Operation 40 Members

Antonio Veciana

Founded Alpha 66 raiding Cuba.

Rafael "Chi Chi" Quintero

Operation 40 Assassination Unit, also called the "shooter team".

Orlando Bosch

Founded "Poder Cubano"

(Cuban Power)

78 terrorist bombings.

Luis Posada

Linked to 1976 terrorist bombing of Cubana Airlines flight 455 that killed 73 passengers.

Roland Masferrer

Ties to Trafficante and Hoffa. Given 50,000 by Hoffa to set up an assassination team.



Travelled to Dallas during the week of November 22, 1963.

Dealey plaza seconds after JFK's murder

Rafael Villaverde

Captured by Castro after Bay of Pigs.

Virgilio Gonzalez, Carlos Bringuier, Eugenio Martinez, Antonio Cuesta, Hermino Diaz Garcia, Barry Seal, Felix Rodriguez, Ricardo Morales Navarrete, Juan Manuel Salvat, Isidro Borjas, Virgilio Paz, Jose Dionisio Suarez, Felipe Rivero, Gaspar Jimenez Escobedo, Nazario Sargent, Pedro Luis Diaz Lanz, Jose Basulto, and Paulino Sierra

Operation 40

George Bush and Féliz Rodríguez

According to Fabian Escalante, a senior officer of the Cuban Department of State Security (G-2), in 1960 Richard Nixon recruited an "important group of businessmen headed by George Bush (Snr.) and Jack Crichton, both Texas oilmen, to gather the necessary funds for the operation". (2) This suggests that Operation 40 agents were involved in freelance work.

It is known that at this time that George Bush and Jack Crichton were involved in covert right-wing activities. In 1990 The Common Cause magazine argued that: "The CIA put millionaire and agent George Bush in charge of recruiting exiled Cubans for the CIA’s invading army; Bush was working with another Texan oil magnate, Jack Crichton, who helped him in terms of the invasion." (3) This story was linked to the release of "a memorandum in that context addressed to FBI chief J. Edward Hoover and signed November 1963, which reads: Mr. George Bush of the CIA" (4)

Reinaldo Taladrid and Lazaro Baredo claim that in 1959 George Bush was asked “to cooperate in funding the nascent anti-Castro groups that the CIA decided to create”. The man “assigned to him for his new mission” was Féliz Rodríguez. (5)

Frank Sturgis

Antonio Veciana, Luis Posada, Orlando Bosch, Rafael Quintero, Roland Masferrer, Eladio del Valle, Guillermo Novo, Rafael Villaverde, Virgilio Gonzalez, Carlos Bringuier, Eugenio Martinez, Antonio Cuesta, Hermino Diaz Garcia, Barry Seal, Felix Rodriguez, Ricardo Morales Navarrete, Juan Manuel Salvat, Isidro Borjas, Virgilio Paz, Jose Dionisio Suarez, Felipe Rivero, Gaspar Jimenez Escobedo, Nazario Sargent, Pedro Luis Diaz Lanz, Jose Basulto, and Paulino Sierra


Frank Sturgis

Michael Canfield

STURGIS told Paul Meskil that he was part of the CIA's

OPERATION 40, an infiltration and intelligence gathering

group that was to go into Cuba before the Bay of Pigs

assault. Meskil stated that some former CIA agents

described OPERATION 40 as an "assassination squad." STURGIS

stated: "It was top CIA project. Most of the men in it were

Cubans who had been trained by the U.S. Army. I am not

saying that OPERATION 40 had an assassination squad. There

were reports there was one, but I'm not saying so." Meskil

reported that the Chief of OPERATION 40 was Joaquin

Pedromo Sanjenis, a former Castro aide who defected and

became a CIA agent. Two of his cousins also worked for the

Agency. Canfield asked STURGIS about OPERATION 40:

STURGIS: Well, I was an associate, while I participated in

OPERATION 40. OPERATION 40 was formed before the Bay

of Pigs invasion; it was a Top Secret Government operation;

it consisted of many Cuban intelligence officers who worked

for the CIA and this organization. Their job primarily was

to train people to infiltrate a foreign country, to make

contact with people in the political sector of the

government, plus there was also a group formed, in which

was the assassination section, which I was part of; that,

if necessary, this assassination group would, upon orders,

naturally, assassinate either members of the military in

the foreign country, political party members of the foreign

country that you were going to infiltrate, and, if

necessary, some of your own members, who were suspected of

being foreign agents. Now at the same time, I was asked by

my friend, who was a CIA agent, he asked me if I was

interested in participating, or doing an assassination with

the Company. I told him yes, providing that I would sit

down with his case officer and go over the details, and I

would do it.

Canfield: Domestic or foreign?

STURGIS: It would be domestic.

Canfield: Here in the United States?"

STURGIS: Oh yeah. The reason for that, he asked me how I

would go about it. And I told him, well, if it was going to

be domestic, well, I could do it several ways. I could do

it either in the Everglades, I could do it by boat, or I

could do it by air. But, that if it was going to be done, I

did not want nobody to be part of this, I would do it by

myself, but I definitely wanted to meet the officer who

wanted this done, and I wanted to see him, and get it right

from him, so that I would be sure that it would be someone

with authority, and not just a low level agent, such as

he...I told him that. He told me that he would make contact

with someone higher up, and pass on that information and so


Canfield: Did this come out of Operation 40?


STURGIS: This is what the Operation 40 was trained for...

Canfield: What about domestic activities, did they ever

attempt a domestic assassination?

STURGIS: Not to my knowledge, no. But the only thing I can

say on that is, when I was asked to do domestically, myself


Canfield: Right.

STURGIS: Of anyone else, no, not to my knowledge; which

brings the why all this stuff I've been reading in the

paperswhere they want me to be part of an investigation of

the assassination of President Kennedy, I have no knowledge

of anything like --

Canfield: Did anyone ever approach you about --

STURGIS: The assassination? Yeah, oh yeah.

Canfield: No, I mean, to do the assassination.

STURGIS: No, no, oh no. The Cubans were very angry with the

Kennedys, they were furious with the Kennedys because

of the failure of the Bay of Pigs invasion. But the only

thing that I had as far as the assassination was concerned,

naturally, is the investigation by the FBI. And they said,

"Well FRANK, this is strictly a voluntary thing, if you

want to talk with us, if you don't want to talk with us' -

And they told me that they felt I was one of the persons

capable, if I wanted to assassinate somebody as high as the

President of the United States, that I was capable of --

Canfield: You were approached though to do assassination

jobs -

STURGIS: Oh yeah. Also an associate. And it can be proven

that he is, or rather was, at that time, a CIA agent.

“One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.”