As an addendum to the discussion of Dulles being out of touch during the Bay of Pigs and Laos airstrikes, I thought I should bring up something else discussed in SWHT (in a book that size, even important data can fail to be noticed). A few years ago English researcher Malcolm Blunt shared some very important documents which referred to what seems to have been a very serious plan to eliminate Fidel Castro shortly before the Bay of Pigs. This isn’t a poison pill plan or anything of that ilk, it was a plan to send in a highly skilled Cuban exile shooter and to take out Castro, period.
The only reason we know about it at all is that employees at NPIC (the super secret imaging and photo-interpretation center) had responded to a call for any information about prior CIA assassination projects. The employees had worked on a very detailed photo analysis and mapping project related to Castro’s retreat at Varadero Beach (a former DuPont resort area about 75 miles from Havana). Apparently they were doing mapping, montages and other work to lay out some very specific plans for a sniper type attack.
And if NPIC was involved, such a project would have to have been authorized at the highest levels of the Agency (I mean this is a place so secure that the cover for working there was as a CIA employee!). Somebody like J.C. King, Helms, etc. Possibly Bissell but probably not without approval.
Unfortunately research didn’t turn up much further on Pathfinder than a reference to a related file on Frank Sturgis (who we now know had indeed volunteered to try and set up an assassination attempt on Castro before he left Cuba; the CIA wasn’t interested at the time). But Sturgis certainly had personal experience with Castro and might well have provided some background information on the location, travel, etc.
Two additional documents provide insight in the mysterious assassination mission. One contains an interview with a former JMWAVE case officer (name redacted) who confirmed his personal knowledge of the mission, he mentioned the name “Felix” in regard to the effort, which supposedly aborted due to boat and infiltration problems during the insertion. Felix Rodriquez would write, in his own biography Shadow Warrior, of having volunteered for an assignment to shoot Fidel Castro. Rodriquez was to be inserted into Cuba at at Varadero Beach, carrying a rifle specially pre-sighted for the attack. He describes several failures in being inserted into Cuba which prevented the mission from being carried out. For reference, Felix Rodriquez is listed as being carried by Alberto Fernandez and the private CIA infiltration ship Tejana (which had suffered a number of engine problems during missions into Cuba in the months immediately before the Bay of Pigs landings.The document references for all of this are in SWHT but given the NPIC element, this seems like something of a far more serious nature and far higher level approvals than somebody just tossing a gun to a Cuban exile going in on a mission and suggesting he might want to use it on Fidel. Then the question becomes, who knew? Was it just Bissell, King perhaps but not Dulles. Or all of them. And when it aborted, who made the decision to continue without such a key element? Or was there another back up plan that didn’t work? Does getting a poison pill into Castro’s food at the last minute really constitute such a backup? Did they really risk the lives of the Brigade on just rolling the dice on that?