Operation Gladio Italy
The Cuban Project, also known as Operation Mongoose, was a covert operation of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) that was commissioned in March 1960 during the final year of President Dwight D. Eisenhower's administration. On November 30, 1961, covert operations against Fidel Castro's government in Cuba were officially authorized by President Kennedy and after being given the name Operation Mongoose at a prior White House meeting on November 4, 1961. The operation was led by United States Air Force General Edward Lansdale and went into effect after the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion.
Operation Mongoose was a secret program against Cuba aimed at removing the Communists from power, which was a prime focus of the Kennedy administration. A document from the United States Department of State confirms that the project aimed to "help Cuba overthrow the Communist regime", including its leader Fidel Castro, and it aimed "for a revolt which can take place in Cuba by October 1962". US policymakers also wanted to see "a new government with which the United States can live in peace".
Mongoose was led by Edward Lansdale at the Defense Department and William King Harvey at the CIA. Lansdale was chosen due to his experience with counter-insurgency in the Philippines during the Hukbalahap Rebellion, as well as because of his experience supporting Vietnam's Diem regime. Samuel Halpern, a CIA co-organizer, conveyed the breadth of involvement: "CIA and the US Army and military forces and Department of Commerce, and Immigration, Treasury, God knows who else – everybody was in Mongoose. It was a government-wide operation run out of Bobby Kennedy's office with Ed Lansdale as the mastermind."
The CIA operation was based at the Caribbean Admission Center at Opa-Locka, Florida. and even at one point enlisted the aid of the Mafia (who were eager to regain their Cuban casino operations) to plot an assassination attempt against Castro; William Harvey was one of the CIA case officers who directly dealt with mafioso John Roselli. The mafioso John Roselli was introduced to the CIA by former FBI Agent Robert Mahue. Mahue had known Roselli since the 1950s and was aware of his connection to the gambling syndicate. Under the alias "John Rawlson", Roselli was tasked with recruiting Cubans from Florida to help in the assassination of Castro.
Suspicious JFK deaths: CIA colleague suspected Bill Harvey in mobster murder
One of the suspicious deaths of JFK assassination witnesses recounted in Richard Belzer’s best-seller “Hit List” is the murder of Sam Giancana, a Mafiia boss. Giancana was shot to death in his home in suburban Chicago on June 19, 1975, apparently by someone whom he admitted to his house. Giancana was scheduled to testify to the House Select Committee on Assassinations about his knowledge of events leading the death of President Kennedy.
Defenders of the official story deride Belzer’s thesis but suspicions that JFK witnesses faced retribution reached high into the CIA. In 1978, one veteran of the clandestine service testified under oath that he thought another CIA official might have been the killer of Giancana.
John Whitten, a retired CIA employee, said that he suspected his colleague William K. Harvey, one-time head of the CIA’s assassination program, might have been involved. Whitten was a rare CIA hero in the JFK story. He was deeply involved in the CIA’s first investigation of Oswald, only to be ousted for seeking to investigate Oswald’s Cuban connections. Whitten also knew Harvey well from their time working for the CIA in Europe in the 1950s.
Harvey served as chief of the CIA’s program to overthrow Fidel Castro in 1961-62 and openly derided Attorney General Robert Kennedy for what he regarded as the Kennedy administration’s weak Cuba policy.
Harvey also knew Giancana. In 1961, he enlisted Giancana and other organized crime leaders in a conspiracy to assassinate Cuban leader Fidel Castro.
Whitten, who served as chief of the Mexico desk in the clandestine service in 1963 told investigators in closed-door testimony in 1978 that, “Harvey was really a hard-boiled unsubtle, ruthless guy who was, in my opinion, a very dangerous man.”
Whitten went on:
“I have wondered–I wondered if the government ever looked into the possibility that Harvey did not knock off Giancomo [Giancana]. He lived in the same area when he retired. He was a great one with guns. I read it in the newspaper. I was overseas and I said to myself I wondered if they looked into Bill Harvey.”
Harvey lived in Indianapolis at the time of Giancana’s murder.
Bayard Stockton, another former CIA colleague turned journalist, wrote a critical biography of Harvey that examined allegations that he might have been involved in the JFK’s assassination. After an extensive review of the evidence, Stockton concluded that Harvey’s connection “to the assassination cannot be proven or disproven.”
Harvey died on June 9, 1976.
John Whitten, a top CIA official in 1963, had suspicions about a colleague.
A biography of Harvey by a former colleague.