Porter Goss was born in Waterbury, Connecticut, on 26th November, 1938. After graduating from Yale University with a degree in Greek classics in 1960 he joined the Army Reserve Officers Training (ROTC) program. From there, he said he "gravitated to the CIA" in 1961.
Over the next few years he was based at the JM/WAVE, the CIA station in Miami where he worked with people such as Ted Shackley, David Sanchez Morales, Edward Lansdale, William Harvey and Tracy Barnes. However, Goss claimed in an interview with Don Bohning: "I knew Shackley but I was so junior compared to those people… a basic Boy Scout at that point."
After the Bay of Pigs disaster President John F. Kennedy sanctioned what became known as Operation Mongoose. Robert Kennedy took overall control of the operation and Edward Lansdale was appointed project leader and was given the responsibility to "use our available assets to help Cuba overthrow the Communist regime." It has been claimed that Goss was one of the 400 CIA officers who was employed on the project.
Goss spoke Spanish and this was very useful as the JM/WAVE station ran 2,200 Cuban agents. Recently, Vince Cannistraro, a CIA agent at JM/WAVE claimed that Goss was involved in paramilitary activity against the Cubans: "I know he was involved in the Bay of Pigs operation, he worked out of Miami with Cuban exiles... and took part in... attempts to overthrow Castro".
In an interview with Don Bohning Goss claimed that during the period surrounding the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis he worked primarily as a photo interpreter. He also did duty during that period as a small boat handler "as a matter of dealing with lots of people moving around but I never went into Cuba."
As a result of negotiations following the Cuban Missile Crisis, President John F. Kennedy called an end to Operation Mongoose. Over the next few years Goss served in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and Western Europe. His main area of expertise was the infiltration of trade unions and other organizations of the labour movement. According to Don Bohning: "While saying he was not at liberty to say what his main area of expertise was", Goss said this page's description of his CIA activities was "a stretch."
In his book, Barry and the Boys (2001), Daniel Hopsicker published a photograph given to him by the wife of Barry Seal. Hopsicker claims that the picture "was taken at a night-club in Mexico City on January 22, 1963" and includes members of Operation 40. It has also been suggested that one of the men in the photograph is Porter Goss. According to Don Bohning, Goss claimed he had "never heard of Operation 40," but declared with some vehemence the man identified in the nightclub photo "categorically, decisively and completely was not me."
In 1970 Porter Goss contracted a bacteriological infection that almost killed him. The following year he purchased a home on Sanibel Island, in south-west Florida. He officially left the CIA in 1972 and began a boat letting agency. He also worked as a reporter on the local newspaper and between 1974 and 1982 served on the city council. Goss was also commissioner of Lee County, Florida (1983-1988).
A member of the Republican Party, Goss was elected to Congress in 1988. Gross has been chairman of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence since 1996. In this position has called for making the law prohibiting the assassination of foreign leaders more flexible. After the 1998 terrorist bombings of the U.S. Embassies in East Africa, Goss declared that the CIA had become too "gun-shy."
Some observers have been highly critical of Goss' performance as chairman of what one has called the "oversight committee". Goss remained loyal to George W. Bush and during the Joseph Wilson-Valerie Plame scandal defended the White House official who publicly exposed the identity of an undercover agent. Goss did not seem concerned that the leak was an act of political retaliation against the agent's spouse.
In an interview with his local newspaper, The Herald-Tribune, Porter Goss said the case was the result of "wild and unsubstantiated allegations, which are being obviously piled on by partisan politicians during an election year." There was no need to mount an investigation, he said, because there was no evidence of "willful disclosure". Goss was not asked how he was able to come to this conclusion without an investigation. To illustrate his partisan view of his office, he remarked: "Somebody sends me a blue dress and some DNA, I'll have an investigation."
Goss has also used his position to attack statements made by John Kerry on national security. After one speech he announced that Kerry had "neglected the president's historic achievements" while at the same time embracing "the goals that the president has already laid to make the world a safer place."
Goss' loyalty was rewarded in August, 2004, when President George W. Bush announced that he was nominated to become the next Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Goss took office on September 24, 2004. He had promised the US Senate that he would bring change and reform to the CIA. However, he soon came into conflict with several senior officials in the agency.
Porter Goss told CIA staff in 2004 that their job was “to support the Bush administration and its policies in our work”. Some senior CIA figures who opposed the Iraq War resigned. This included Michael Scheuer, former head of the “Bin Laden Station”. Vince Cannistraro, a former head of the CIA’s counter-terrorist centre, commented: “It can only be interpreted one way – there will be no more dissenting opinions.”
Goss was forced to resign as Director of the CIA in May, 2006. The Los Angeles Times reported that he left the CIA because of John Negroponte: "Goss was pushed out by Negroponte after clashes between them over Goss' management style, as well as his reluctance to surrender CIA personnel and resources to new organizations set up to combat terrorism and weapons proliferation."
According to other sources, his resignation was linked to the investigation of top CIA official Kyle Foggo who had been accused improperly steered a $2.4 million contract to his close college friend Brent Wilkes, a defense contractor implicated in the Randy Cunningham case. The New York Daily News reported: "The investigations have focused on the Watergate poker parties thrown by defense contractor Brent Wilkes, a high-school buddy of Foggo's, that were attended by disgraced former Rep. Randy (Duke) Cunningham and other lawmakers. Foggo has claimed he went to the parties "just for poker" amid allegations that Wilkes, a top GOP fund-raiser and a member of the $100,000 "Pioneers" of Bush's 2004 reelection campaign, provided prostitutes, limos and hotel suites to Cunningham.... Wilkes hosted regular parties for 15 years at the Watergate and Westin Grand Hotels for lawmakers and lobbyists. Intelligence sources said Goss has denied attending the parties as CIA director, but that left open whether he may have attended as a Republican congressman from Florida who was head of the House Intelligence Committee."
While Mr Goss certainly has the pedigree to be CIA chief, he presents a potentially rich target. Now 65, he is the product of a patrician Connecticut upbringing, graduating from an elite preparatory school and Yale University. He spent two years in the army in military intelligence before joining the CIA in 1962. It was the height of the cold war, and Mr Goss, who speaks Spanish, worked as a clandestine case officer based in the Miami office.
At a time when the CIA was obsessive about the idea of communist infiltration of the trade unions - and undertook to sabotage or destroy so-called front organisations - his beat was the labour movements of central America and, later, Europe. Mr Goss has spoken little about his 10 years in the agency, beyond an aside that he was in the region during the Cuban missile crisis in 1962. "I had some very interesting moments in the Florida Straits," he told reporters recently.
There is, thankfully, a remnant of CIA professionals who still put objective analysis above political correctness and career advancement. Just when they thought there were no indignities left for them to suffer, they are shuddering again at press reports that Rep. Porter Goss (R-FL) may soon be their new boss.
That possibility conjures up a painful flashback for those of us who served as CIA analysts when Richard Nixon was president. Chalk it up to our naivety, but we were taken aback when swashbuckling James Schlesinger, who followed Richard Helms as CIA director, announced on arrival, "I am here to see that you guys don't screw Richard Nixon!" To underscore his point, Schlesinger told us he would be reporting directly to White House political adviser Bob Haldeman (Nixon's Karl Rove) and not to National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger.
No doubt Goss would be more discreet in showing his hand, but his appointment as director would be the ultimate in politicization. He has long shown himself to be under the spell of Vice President Dick Cheney, and would likely report primarily to him and to White House political adviser Karl Rove rather than to National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice.
Goss would almost certainly follow lame-duck director George Tenet's practice of reading to the president in the morning and become an integral part of the "White House team." The team-membership phenomenon is particularly disquieting...
But what about CIA alumnus Porter Goss, then in his sixth year as chairman of the House intelligence oversight committee? Republican party loyalist first and foremost, Goss chose to give an entirely new meaning to "oversight." Even when it became clear that the "mushroom cloud" reporting was based mostly on a forgery, he just sat back and watched it all happen.
President George Bushs appointment Tuesday of Florida Republican Representative Porter Goss as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had politics written all over it.
Hes in trouble in Florida, despite his brother Jeb being Governor of the state. So, he appointed Goss, a Floridian, as Director of the CIA, and, then, immediately after the announcement, bolted for Florida to canvass for votes.
It clearly looks as if Goss appointment has more to do with winning Florida for Bush in November than with national security.
In making the announcement in the Rose garden, President Bush said that Goss was the right man to lead this important agency at this critical moment in our nations history.
Right man? That can hardly be true.
As Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee over the last 8 years, Goss has produced nothing of note that would qualify him for the job. In fact, 9-11 is a notable failure that can be charged against him and his Committee.
During his Chairmanship of the House Intelligence Committee the humint (human intelligence) component of the CIA has been almost completely gutted! In March 2003, when Bush invaded Iraq, the CIA did not have a single spy inside President Saddam Husseins inner circle! or, even his outer circle!
Furthermore, there is no evidence that in his 16 years in Congress and in his 8 years as Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee that he, Goss, or his Committee, had any cognizance of the emerging threat from Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda.
The reason for this failure is simple: Goss is a bureaucrat possibly the worst kind of bureaucrat, a loyal bureaucrat.
Bureaucrats have no imagination. They do not innovate. They dare not think outside the box. They are a perfect replication of their masters voice.
And, now Bush wants him to be a leader, an innovator, an ideas man against al Qaeda. Its like asking a dumb sheep to suddenly become a ravenous wolf.
Its not going to happen. So, unless Porter Goss has some remarkable, hidden transformative powers like the mild mannered Clark Kent turning into Superman that Bush has seen, the CIA under Goss, the bureaucrat, is in great danger of simply rolling over and going moribund.
But, worse is in store. At least, today, there is flash of independence in the CIAs analyses. Under Goss, a highly partisan operator, CIA judgments on, for example, Syria, or Iran, both of which are in Bushs gun sights -- are likely to be bent to the will of the White House.
There is no evidence, yet, that Goss intends to sever the umbilical cord to his master. His acceptance speech, in the Rose Garden, contained not a hint not a shred of his desire to be independent.
Nor, in his acceptance, did he display any appreciation of the complexity of the job. (Quite possibly the President told him to cut it short as he, the President, was in a hurry to get to Florida!)
But, surely, since he had been lobbying for the job from the day that former CIA chief George Tenet expressed his desire to resign, Goss could have at least outlined the nature of the challenge the geography of the threat, the multi-generational duration of the conflict, the need for active assistance from Europe, the beneficial involvement of the Vatican.
That Senate committee would have to confirm Goss' nomination before he could take the job. And here's where the picture gets strange. It is extremely doubtful at this late date that the committee would - or physically could - hold confirmation hearings before the November election. Even if hearings were somehow rushed (say, for "national security" reasons), and if Goss won the vote, he would be essentially powerless at least for a while: Any big changes he might order would be ignored until after the election, because everyone at Langley would know that Goss would get the boot if Kerry won.
So, why is Bush nominating Goss now? One possible answer: to create the impression that he's moving forward - that he's doing something - in the war against terrorism. The president took a similar step last week when he announced with great fanfare the creation of a national intelligence director, as recommended by the 9/11 commission - but without giving this NID any of the statutory powers that the commission said would be needed to make the post meaningful.
Putting Goss' name on the table now - even though he probably couldn't become the CIA director for at least three months - has the same effect. Meanwhile, news stories will lay out Goss' credentials. Colleagues will attest to his seriousness. Goss himself will be accorded high respect, his words (many of them no doubt in praise of Team Bush) widely reported in national media.
If Bush does win in November, Goss, like most presidential appointments, will almost certainly be confirmed (Sen. Rockefeller's caveat notwithstanding). A recent profile in Government Executive magazine notes that Goss has "attained iconic status on Capitol Hill for his knowledge of intelligence operations and policy."
Unlike most CIA directors, who (for better or worse) had no prior experience at intelligence before commanding Langley, Goss would come to the job with an agenda. He was a CIA case officer back in the days before the Church committee i.e., when spies did their business competently and ruthlessly with minimal oversight or fear of exposure.
Steve Coll, in his magisterial book Ghost Wars, notes that after the 1998 terrorist bombings of the US Embassies in East Africa, Goss declared publicly what many intelligence officials were saying privately - that the CIA's directorate of operations (the branch in charge of spying) had become too "gun-shy." Earlier this year, in his committee's report on the fiscal year 2005 intelligence budget, Goss railed against the CIA's timidity in such strong terms that Tenet - unwisely - replied in an angry personal letter and circulated it widely.
The Mexico City nightclub photo reveals a mixed group of apparent Cuban exiles, Italian wise guys, and square-jawed military intelligence types. It was discovered among keepsakes kept in the safe of the widow of CIA pilot and drug smuggler Barry Seal (third from left). It appears on the cover of Barry & the boys: The CIA, the Mob & Americas Secret History.
Goss appears second on the left. He is seated between notorious CIA pilot and drug smuggler Barry Seal (third left) and the equally-notorious CIA assassin Felix Rodriguez (front left), a Cuban vice cop under the corrupt Mob-run Batista regime who later became an Iran Contra operative and a confidant of the first George Bush.
The only one of the spook celebrants displaying any hint of tradecraft (seated on the other side of the table covering his face with his sport coat) is Frank Sturgis, most famous as one of the Watergate burglars.
Beside him sits (front right) William Seymour, New Orleans representative of the Double-Chek Corporation, a CIA front used to recruit pilots (like Seal), and a man who many Kennedy assassination researchers believe impersonated Lee Harvey Oswald on several occasions when the lone nut gunman was out of the country and so unable to impersonate himself...
There are many intriguing connections hinted at by Gosss presence in the photo: at the time it was taken the CIA's covert action chief in Mexico City was David Atlee Phillips, AKA Maurice Bishop, who reportedly met with Oswald in Dallas before the assassination.
Other connections: in the well-received Deadly Secrets, authors Warren Hinkle and William Turner name Rafael 'Chi Chi' Quintero, Lois Posada Carriles, Felix Rodriguez and Frank Sturgis as members of Operation Forty, under the overall control of E. Howard Hunt.
Sturgis, a member of the team that broke into Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate complex in 1972, later admitted to having been part of Operation Forty.
More famous names: Thomas Clines, the notorious Edwin Wilson and "Blond Ghost" Ted Shackley, Mr. Spook himself all involved with Operation Forty, as was Barry Seal.
Yeah, Barry was Op Forty, Gerald Hemming confirmed to us. He flew in killer teams inside the island (Cuba) before the invasion to take out Fidel.
Who in 1963 had the resources to assassinate Kennedy? Who had the means and who had the motives to kill the U.S. president?, asks General Fabian Escalante in an exclusive interview in his Havana office. And he gives the answer: "CIA agents from Operation 40 who were rabidly anti-Kennedy. And among them were Orlando Bosch, Luis Posada Carriles, Antonio Veciana and Felix Rodriguez Mendigutia."
Who were the ones who had the training to murder Kennedy? The ones who had all of the capabilities to carry it out? Who were the expert marksmen?" continues Escalante, pointing out that the case of international terrorist Luis Posada Carriles has to be seen within the historical context of what he calls "the machinery of the Cuban American mafia."
And in the heart of that machinery is Operation 40, created by the CIA on the eve of the failed Bay of Pigs invasion, says the ex-chief of Cuban intelligence, author of The Plot (Ocean Press), about the assassination of the U.S. leader.
"The first news that we have of Operation 40 is a statement made by a mercenary of the Bay of Pigs who was the chief of military intelligence of the invading brigade and whose name was Jose Raul de Varona Gonzalez," says Escalante.
"In his statement this man said the following: in the month of March, 1961, around the seventh, Mr. Vicente Leon arrived at the base in Guatemala at the head of some 53 men saying that he had been sent by the office of Mr. Joaquin Sanjenis, Chief of Civilian Intelligence, with a mission he said was called Operation 40. It was a special group that didn't have anything to do with the brigade and which would go in the rearguard occupying towns and cities. His prime mission was to take over the files of intelligence agencies, public buildings, banks, industries, and capture the heads and leaders in all of the cities and interrogate them. Interrogate them in his own way.
The individuals who comprised Operation 40 had been selected by Sangenis in Miami and taken to a nearby farm "where they took some courses and were subjected to a lie detector."
Joaquin Sangenis was Chief of Police in the time of President Carlos Prio, recalls Escalante. "I don't know if he was Chief of the Palace Secret Service but he was very close to Carlos Prio. And in 1973 he dies under very strange circumstances. He disappears. In Miami, people learn to their surprise - without any prior illness and without any homicidal act -- that Sangenis, who wasn't that old in '73, had died unexpectedly. There was no wake. He was buried in a hurry."
Operation 40 had "in the year '61, 86 employees, of which 37 had been trained as case officers...while in Cuba we probably didn't have one single case officer trained. I didn't finish the course until July of '61 and I was in the first training group."
After the failure of the Bay of Pigs invasion, the CIA organizes a Domestic Affairs Division. "For the first time, the CIA is going to work inside of the U.S. because until that moment, it wasn't doing it. It was prohibited.
"And at the head of this division they put Tracy Barnes, who was chief of the CIA operations group which operated against Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala, and he brought to the same group of officers David Atlee Phillips, David Sanchez Morales and Howard Hunt, and two or three other Americans who just as surely worked on the Guatemala project."
The first CIA project against the Cuban revolution wasn't a landing and assault brigade, remarks the general. "The first CIA project was to create a civil war inside of Cuba. They were thinking of creating political leaders overseas, organizing a series of military cadres overseas who are the ones who will infiltrate Cuba and who will place themselves at the head of this civil war they are planning to carry out. And furthermore parallel to that, to make an intelligence network. All of this falls apart almost as soon as it is born.
"In October 1960, they realize that this project has failed, and that is when Brigade 2506 is formed, when due to the uprising of a group of patriotic military officers in Puerto Barrios in Guatemala and, this was in November, they send the Cuban mercenaries in Brigade 2506 to put down this operation."
Escalante remembers that in 1959 a "very strong" CIA center existed in Cuba with several case officers based in Havana. Among them two very important figures: David Sanchez Morales, registered as a diplomat with the U.S. embassy, and David Atlee Phillips who was doing business in Cuba since 1957.
"Phillips had a press agency, David Phillips Associates, which had offices on Humbolt St., behind the Rampa theater. We had information from a person who was his personal secretary at the time and he was using the Berlitz Academy, where he would meet with people he wanted to recruit. The Berlitz Academy was not his business, but he had recruited its director and that's why he was using it to train his agents.
"And at that time he recruits Antonio Veciana, Juan Manuel Salvat, Ricardo Morales Navarrete, Isidro Borjas, a person of Mexican origin, to carry out the internal counterrevolution."
Phillips will train illegal cadres while Morales, on his part, directs a group of North Americans who are infiltrated in the Rebel Army: Frank Sturgis, Gerry Hemming, William Morgan.
"When the revolution triumphs these people are officers in the Rebel Army, many of them in the air force because the chief there is Pedro Luis Diaz Lanz, who was the first chief of the rebel air force and who later leaves the country when an assassination attempt against Fidel fails. He will also direct Howard Hunt, who is visiting Cuba in '59 and '60 and who will write a far-fetched chronicle about Havana which is a series of lies. Hunt is a professional liar.
"There was information that at the end of '58, when CIA Inspector General Lyman Kirkpatrick came to tell Batista to leave power, he has an interview with a group of figures. And since this Phillips was passing himself off as a respectable North American businessman, Kirkpatrick has an interview with him. And Phillips explains to him that the situation is very difficult."
In this context, now in the middle of '58, the CIA plans an assassination attempt on Fidel with a North American citizen, Alan Robert Nye, and ex-marine recruited in Fort Lauderdale by agents of the FBI and by the Cuban military intelligence service.
"He was received here in Havana, they put him up at the Comodoro hotel, fortunately they paid his bill and that was how he was later discovered. They sent him to a zone near Bayamo where Fidel was, in a zone called Santa Rita and he was arrested there by the Rebel Army. He had instructions to introduce himself to Fidel as a sympathizer of the Cuban cause and to assassinate him at the first opportunity," recalls Escalante.
The man is arrested on December 12, 1958, by rebel forces and remains in custody until the beginning of 1959. "An officer of the Rebel Army is in charge of the investigation. Knight says that he was lodged at the Comodoro hotel and it turns out that the ones who had paid this gentleman's expenses were none other than Col. Orlando Piedra, the chief of the investigation bureau of the police, and Col. Tabernilla II, the son of the head of the army."
"These are the principal artists," says the ex-chief of Cuban intelligence. "David Phillips; David Morales; Howard Hunt; a figure who disappeared later and who was head of the CIA until diplomatic relations were broken, James Noel; and several more who were working actively."
When the Domestic Affairs Division is created, the large CIA operations base in Miami was subordinate to the central division of the CIA; "that is to say that the JM/WAVE station, which had 400 officers plus 4,000 Cuban agents, was directed by the main center in Langley.
"Whom are they going to use? Operation 40. That is to say all of the specialists who are already trained, have gone through the school, have already participated in operations against Cuba...I refer to the group of Felix Rodriguez Mendigutia, Luis Posada Carriles, Orlando Bosch, Virgilio Paz, Alvin Ross, Jose Dionisio Suarez, Antonio Veciana, Ricardo Morales Navarrete, Felipe Rivero, who recently died, the Novo Sampoll brothers, Gaspar "Gasparito" Jimenez Escobedo, Juan Manuel Salvat, Nazario Sargent, Carlos Bringuier, Antonio Cuesta, Eladio del Valle, Herminio Diaz, Pedro Luis Diaz Lanz, Rafael "Chichi" Quintero, Jose Basulto, Paulino Sierra, Bernard Baker, who was a Cuban with a North American name -- he was a guard at the U.S. embassy - and Eugenio Martinez, alias 'Musculito.'
"And there was the team that brought together all of the North Americans: David Morales; David Phillips; Howard Hunt; Willian Harvey; Frank Sturgis; Gerry Hemming; John Rosselli, who was second head of the Chicago mafia and at that time in '62; Porter Goss, the current head of the CIA, who is in the JM/WAVE as a subordinate of Phillips and Morales."
"Operation 40 is the grandmother and great-grandmother of all of the operations that are formed later," continues Escalante.
"The Domestic Affairs Division will have its missions...You have to remember the scandal of the Pentagon papers; a long time later, the Watergate scandal...which are the things that were found out. These people were the plumbers of the division, the men that carried it out."
In 1966 and '67, Felix Rodriguez is in charge of the task force the CIA sends to Bolivia against Ernesto 'Che' Guevara. "He used several names. He is there and he ends up participating directly in the murder of Che. Also there, in another position, is Antonio Veciana. He is there as a bank consultant in La Paz but he runs the center which is coordinating intelligence gathering in the rear guard, working with the Bolivian intelligence services.
"This is very interesting because we are then going to see this whole group in the second large operation they organize, which is advising the secret police of Latin America. We are going to see Felix Rodriguez in 1980 in Argentina, we are going to see Posada in Venezuela..."
Luis Posada Carriles next appears in Venezuela.
"Posada says he arrived in Caracas in 1969, which is not true, he arrived in '67. What is happening is that he is a CIA advisor and it doesn't suit him in his book to talk about that; he says he was recruited in Miami by a chief of DIGEPOL. He's a tremendous storyteller. In reality, Posada is already there in '67 helping DIGEPOL as a CIA advisor.
"After that we are going to see Orlando Bosch's group: Virgilio Paz, Alvin Ross, Dionisio Suarez in Chile after '73. We are going to find 'Mono' Morales Navarrete in Venezuela and Felipe Rivero in Chile...That is to say that this group is going to be spread out in Latin America with actions everywhere."
All of them have devoted themselves, besides the subversive activities, "to drug smuggling, which began when they were training for the Bay of Pigs," says the general.
"The planes came from Miami to Guatemala loaded with weapons, ammunition, personnel, and they returned...even with blood plasma. They were even smuggling blood plasma which Manuel Artime commercialized with the dictatorship of Anastasio Somoza. Drugs started to be included, cocaine."
Phillips was head of Operation 40 from 1960 to 1973..."It is assumed that in '73 Operation 40 was 'discontinued,' as the North Americans say, but that is absolutely not true.
"You have to remember that in '73, the Watergate scandal broke out. Who were the ones who broke into the offices of the Democratic Party? This same group. We are talking about Bernard Baker, Eugenio Martinez, Frank Sturgis, Ferry Hemming, and we learned this from the documents from the Church Commission.
"And after he got out of prison, Eugenio Martinez came to Cuba. Martinez, alias 'Musculito,' was penalized for the Watergate scandal and is in prison for a time. And after he gets out of prison - it's the Carter period, the period of dialogue, in '78, there is a different international climate - Eugenio Martinez asks for a contract and one fine day he appears on a boat here... and of course he didn't make any big statements, he didn't say much that we didn't know but he talked about those things, about this Operation 40 group, about what they had done at the Democratic Party headquarters..."
And who are directing the operation against Allende, asks Escalante. "In the first and second part, David Phillips, first as chief of the operations group, and afterwards he moved up to Western Hemisphere division chief of the CIA until 1975. He participates in that and participates in the formation of Operation Condor, which was formed in 1974 when the first meeting of intelligence chiefs of the Southern Cone is held in Santiago, Chile." The veterans of Operation 40 will also participate in Operation Hoja de Parra, which Argentinian intelligence organizes to spy on political emigres throughout Latin America.
Then they appear in Operation Calypso, part of the Nicaraguan contras: "That is to say, when the Argentinian army sends Col. Osvaldo Rivero, first to Miami and then to Honduras, with a group of Argentinian specialists, they fail and the Cubans from Operation 40 have to come; Felix Rodriguez and Luis Posada who in '85 replace the Argentinians and transfer the general headquarters from Tegucigalpa to San Salvador. And the El Aguacate air base which belonged to the Hondurans stops being the main base of air supplies..."
All of the operations carried out, after a certain time, by members of Operation 40 are operations called "autonomous" where the CIA officer who directs the terrorist group -- we're talking about terrorist "action" groups, as they call them -- discusses the objectives of that group, approves it, facilitates all necessary resources "and afterwards reads about the results in the newspaper."
About the Kennedy case, Escalante recalls how Cuban intelligence services would receive in the '60s much information from North Americans, from Cubans outside of the country and from Central Americans, about subversive activities.
"By correspondence... Letters would arrive that many times, of course, they would come without a return address or with a fake address. And we started to have information from these figures through this means.
"There is a source who participates in a meeting in Miami in the year '63 in a CIA safe house and who, from what I remember, was related to Veciana, very close to Veciana. This source identifies Luis Posada Carriles, Pedro Luis Diaz Lanz and, I believe, the Novo Sampol brothers...and that same source later recognizes Lee Harvey Oswald as one of the participants.
"The last time we heard about this source was in the '70s when he refers to a meeting with Antonio Veciana and Phillips in Puerto Rico," says Escalante.
"I'm convinced that they wanted to kill Kennedy in different places. Probably that Dallas had better conditions. But I'm under the impression from some very fragmented information I had access to one time, that they wanted to assassinate him in Miami. And I can't exclude, without confirming it, because this information is very relative, that these people had been gathered there for that reason...
"There is another source, who is Maria Lorentz, who relates something similar to this, that is to say that she was in a meeting in Miami, that she saw these people, that she went with them to Dallas, around November 20."
Escalante underlines how a Cuban, Manuel "Manolito" Rodriguez Orcarberro, arrives in Dallas two months before the Kennedy assassination "and he leaves afterwards at full speed."
There he opens an office of Alpha 66, where Oswald will enter at one time, according to the testimony of the assistant police chief of Dallas.
"This Cuban sought asylum in 1960 in the Brazilian embassy together with two known CIA agents. Who were they? Ricardo 'El Mono' Morales Navarrete and Isidro Borgas, a figure of Mexican origin who looks a lot like one of the figures who is with Oswald handing out proclamations supposedly in favor of Cuba in New Orleans - all of that which was a show put on where Carlos Bringuier goes to challenge them, a fight erupts, and the police arrest all of them..."
And who is the boss of Rodriguez and of Alpha 66? "Antonio Veciana, from Operation 40. That same Veciana whose testimony would lead Gaeton Fonzi to interview Luis Posada in Caracas when he was in prison, due to the similarity between the plan he prepared to assassinate Fidel in Chile and the Kennedy assassination."
Even more: the name that one of the "cameramen" used in Chile is Ramon Medina "which is a pseudonym Posada later used in Ilopango."
There are several sources who place Luis Posada Carriles in Dallas on November 20, 1963, says Escalante.
The ex-chief of Cuban security points to a recent investigation by the Dutchman Wim Dankbaar: "There are elements which even say that Posada was one of the shooters, which cannot be ruled out because Posada is an expert marksman.
"Posada who is an expert marksman who graduated from a North American military school. Posada who afterwards becomes, together with Orlando Bosch and all of that gang, one of the leaders of the terrorist groups. Within the mechanism of Operation 40. Posada who since then has always been protected by U.S. authorities, protected by the Cuban American National Foundation, protected by Jorge Mas Canosa."
The assassination of Kennedy could not have been an improvised action in any manner, says Escalante. "If they detoured Kennedy from the avenue where he was traveling to drive around a park, it wasn't for any other reason than to slow down the car to be able to fire at him. Because this famous detour to Dealey Plaza makes no sense. Evidently this makes the vehicle travel at 20 kilometers per hour. And there the fatal shots are fired, from behind and from ahead.
"It had to be a complex operation in which a large group of people participated, because if they shot at him from three shooters' nests which had to have an element of communication as well, to have the means to get out of that place and afterwards to get out of Dallas. We are talking about between 10 and 15 people in the least of cases."
Returning to the subject of the explosion of the Cuban airplane in 1976, Escalante underlines that, in the weeks preceding the attack, Orlando Bosch is in the Dominican Republic, goes to Nicaragua, and then to Caracas with a fake Dominican passport.
"Allegedly invited by Orlando Garcia who if he wasn't head of DISIP at that time was chief of personal security for Carlos Andres Perez. This at the same time that Mono Morales Navarrete had become head of division 54 of DISIP.
"Navarrete arrived when Posada left DISIP, in '74, to organize that front of the Industrial and Commercial Investigations Office. A CIA front which was probably connected with Operation Condor...Why does Posada go over to DISIP? Why does he have disagreements? If he is operations chief of DISIP, he has contact with the U.S. embassy, he's supported by the CIA. Why is he tired of torturing, which is what he did there at DISIP?"
According to reports from the time, at the office of Posada's detectives agency in Caracas they also found plans for the assassination of Orlando Letelier, which occured in Washington on September 21, barely two weeks prior. "Bosch had coordinated the operation in Santiago where he met with General Manuel Contreras, head of DINA." (Chilean secret police)
"In '74, Bosch had already gone to Chile with Virgilio Paz, Alvin Ross, Jose Dionisio Suarez to offer himself to Contreras and Pinochet as hit men for Condor... The same Bosch who in 1976 returns to the Dominican Republic, then goes to Nicaragua, meets with the Somoza dictatorship, and then to Venezuela for this operation...Bosch arrives in Venezuela in September and the blowing up of the Cubana airplane was on October 6.
"Where do instructions come from? Where is the plan drawn up? It is drawn up in Caracas. Who are in Caracas? Bosch, Posada and Morales Navarrete. Those are the three figures who are there. This is perfectly documented. As if that weren't enough, Morales Navarrete is an FBI informant, they passed him the bill themselves in '82 for that reason. The FBI was aware of everything they were doing. Probably the CIA gave them the objectives with that cover of autonomous operations. Who was head of the CIA in '76? George Bush Sr. And so...as clear as day! Was Posada still with the CIA?
"In a declassified document from July 1976, the CIA says it broke off with Posada because it had suspicions that he was involved in drug smuggling. That's what it says, that's what it says... when David Phillips gave Veciana a quarter million dollars so he could go to prison for 18 months for a drug trafficking charge," answers the general.
If George W. Bush were presiding over a normal administration, there would be nothing spooky about Porter Goss' abrupt resignation Friday afternoon. It would be painfully evident from Bush's forced rhetoric ("Porter's tenure at the CIA was one of transition") and Goss' comically overblown boasts ("The agency is on a very even keel, sailing well") that the CIA director was sacked for ineptitude.
As the normally mild-mannered Ivo Daalder, a former staff member at the National Security Council under Bill Clinton, put it, "Porter Goss was such an absolute disaster for the agency and our national security that his departure comes not a day too soon." Daalder, now at the Brookings Institution, castigated Goss for creating "a climate of fear and intimidation at the CIA that produced a reluctance to take risks, which is the last thing you want in an intelligence agency."
Normally under Bush, promoted-above-your-abilities incompetence is not a firing offense unless, of course, you drown an entire city. True, Josh Bolten, the new White House chief of staff, has been trying to put a few new faces on the flight deck of the "Mission Accomplished" administration. These transitions - like the long goodbye for White House spokesman Scott McClellan - have been carefully orchestrated rather than cobbled together like this one, without even the slightest hint of a successor for Goss.
"If you believe the White House explanation that this is all part of Josh Bolten's reorganization, then this was done in a surprising fashion," said Rand Beers, a terrorism expert who served in four administrations before resigning from the Bush White House in early 2003. "This makes me believe that it's the cover story."
For those practiced in connecting the dots, little artistic training is needed to speculatively link Goss' here's-your-hat-what's-your-hurry departure with the bribery scandal surrounding jailed former GOP Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham.
NBC News reported Thursday night that the CIA is investigating whether a top agency official, Kyle "Dusty" Foggo, improperly steered a $2.4 million contract to his close college friend Brent Wilkes, a defense contractor implicated in the Cunningham case. Wilkes reportedly supplied prostitutes to Cunningham at poker parties that Foggo also attended, though the CIA official denies seeing the female entertainment.
There is no obvious connection between Goss and Cunningham, aside from their having served together in the House for 13 years. But the real mystery is how Foggo became the CIA's executive director, the official in charge of day-to-day operations at the entire agency: He was a midlevel field officer with a procurement background when Goss appointed him in 2004. A CIA spokeswoman, who did not want her name used, said Thursday that the two men met when Foggo testified before the House Intelligence Committee, which Goss chaired from 1997 until 2004, when Bush made him the CIA director. No date was provided for Foggo's testimony before Goss' committee.
Of course, the Foggo-Wilkes connection may have nothing to do with the sudden change in Goss' career arc. Daalder posed the speculative question, "Was there an intelligence blunder that we don't know about -- and that we may never know about?" Certainly, given the disarray at the CIA, it is plausible that the agency could have made a major misjudgment about, say, the Iranian or North Korean nuclear programs.
Despite his brief tenure at the CIA, Goss will always be known as the last spymaster to have held the fabled title "Director of Central Intelligence." The CIA chief's supremacy in hush-hush matters permanently ended with the creation in early 2005 of a new director of national intelligence (DNI), a post held by John Negroponte, the former ambassador to Iraq. With this new governmental layer, Goss went from a globe-girdling figure (presumably even with the power to plan coups) to just another Washington bureaucrat with a boss standing between him and the president.
This still ill-defined relationship between the CIA and Negroponte's office is likely to further complicate the search for Goss' successor. As Richard Clarke, the White House counterterrorism chief under Clinton and during the early months of the Bush administration, said shrewdly, "Good luck trying to get someone to fill that job."
Goss' final accomplishment as CIA director - such as it was - was forcing out of her job a highly respected veteran intelligence officer, Mary McCarthy, for the purported leaking of classified information about secret CIA prisons abroad. McCarthy has denied being the leaker -- and her more obvious offenses were serving in the Clinton administration and donating $2,000 to John Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign. "Goss and company were just looking for someone to fire to prove that they were serious about leak investigation," Beers said. "And they could portray her as political."
As for Goss himself, it is somehow fitting that he leaves office shrouded in cloak-and-dagger mystery. Did the CIA director jump, or was he pushed by a president so complacent in the face of failure that he even keeps Don Rumsfeld around? It may take a deep-cover agent to unravel the gossamer plot lines that produced Goss' goodbye.
The highest profile CIA figure Simkin fingers as a member of Operation 40, and as usual without any documentation, is Porter Goss, a CIA operative from the early 1960s through the early 1970s. (8) Goss subsequently served as a Republican congressman from Florida and as CIA Director from 2004 to 2006. In its account of Operation 40, the Spartacus website carries a photograph which it claims to have been "taken in a nightclub in Mexico City on 22nd January, 1963... it is believed men in the photograph are all members of Operation 40." Among them, allegedly, is Goss. I sent Goss a copy of the photo. In a subsequent telephone interview after seeing the photo, not only did he say he had "never heard of Operation 40," but declared with some vehemence the man identified in the nightclub photo "categorically, decisively and completely was not me." ...
There are 15 pages devoted to Goss, including a two page opening biography and the rest an accumulation of excerpts from mostly obscure sources that generally echo Simkin's own radical views. They include the alleged picture of Operation 40 members - among them Goss - at a Mexico City nightclub in 1963, and which Goss categorically denies is he.
The brief website biography is a mishmash of confusing and contradictory misinformation. It begins, saying that after joining the CIA in 1962, Goss spent the next few years at the JMWAVE station in Miami "where he worked with people such as Ted Shackley, David Sanchez Morales, Edward Lansdale, William Harvey and Tracy Barnes."
There are several problems with that, including the fact that William Harvey, Edward Lansdale and Tracy Barnes - while no doubt visiting Miami at one time or another - all worked out of Washington, not the Miami station. Goss, over the course of two recent telephone interviews, said "the JMWAVE stuff (regarding Goss) is nonsense. I knew Shackley but I was so junior compared to those people… a basic Boy Scout at that point."
Neither, he said, did he work at the JMWAVE station over several years as Simkin's website claims, but only two to three months - primarily as a photo interpreter - in the period surrounding the October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. He said he also did duty during that period as a small boat handler "as a matter of dealing with lots of people moving around but I never went into Cuba."
The Simkin website profile erroneously claims Goss was "one of the 400 officers who was employed on the [Operation Mongoose] project," the Kennedy administration's post-Bay of Pigs covert operation designed to bring down Castro. Goss, in a phone interview, said: "All I know about Mongoose and the Bay of Pigs is what I have read about."
Contradicting his own website profile information that Goss joined the CIA in 1962, two paragraphs later Simkin quotes Vince Cannistraro, a former CIA agent, as claiming that Goss was involved in paramilitary activity against the Cubans: "I know he was involved in the Bay of Pigs operation, he worked out of Miami with Cuban exiles… and took part in… attempts to overthrow Castro."
The Bay of Pigs took place in 1961 so it would have been impossible for Goss to have taken any role in it if he didn't join the CIA until 1962, as Simkin himself says. Goss confirmed that although recruited earlier, he did not actively start working for the CIA until late 1961 or early 1962, after first joining Army Intelligence through Yale University's Army Reserve Officers Training (ROTC) program. From there, he said he "gravitated to the CIA."
Goss confirmed that his first four to five years with the CIA involved the Western Hemisphere, namely Central America, Mexico and Hispaniola (Haiti and the Dominican Republic). He said he was never permanently assigned to any CIA station in the area, always "traveling to those regions from Washington," with the Dominican Republic being "the only place I lived for any extensive period." He was assigned to London in the mid-1960s, retiring in 1970 for health reasons.
The website describes his "main area of expertise" as the "infiltration of trade unions and other organizations of the labour movement." While saying he was not at liberty to say what his main area of expertise was, Goss said the website description was "a stretch."