|This update is for the folks who have been following our Wheaton Names research over the past several months. I’ve blogged a few times and we did put up a link to an early research paper on the work, but since then we’ve gone much further in some respects…and hit a bit of a wall in the process.
With the assumption that Wheaton did hear remarks about the attack on JFK, among the “war stories” that Carl Jenkins and Rafael Quintero were exchanging with their friends, the obvious question is who were those friends and what would Jenkins and Quintero have in common with them.
That obvious answer – given that Wheaton and Jenkins were trying to get into the air transport/supply business for the Contra military effort against the Sandinista’s, is that they were meeting with the two field agents in charge of handling those shipments. That would be Rafael Quintero and Felix Rodriquez.
Further research shows that both Quintero and Rodriquez had an extended history in anti-Castro paramilitary operations Carl Jenkins, making Jenkins a perfect selection for Wheaton as his sales manager. That history, combined with the documented personal relationship between Wheaton and Quintero, explains why Wheaton might well have been in a position to hear the sorts of war stories and remarks about JFK which he ultimately attempted to report to the ARRB.
Research into Quintero and Rodriquez has also provided a good deal of detail on their association with Jenkins. It began with the earliest volunteers for the CIA’s Cuba project, and their training at a base in Panama – training overseen by Carl Jenkins. During 1960 a group of those earliest volunteers was pulled for additional training at the secret CIA training installation in Belle Chase, outside of New Orleans.
Ultimately those individuals, along with personnel trained in intelligence collection and practices by David Morales, were covertly inserted into Cuba to make contact with resistance groups and report on conditions inside Cuba. Several of them were also deployed on maritime insertion missions in the months immediately before the landings at the Bay of Pigs, on supply missions – and as we learned – on highly secret attempts to kill Fidel Castro in a series of planned ambushes and sniper attacks.
They were part of a last ditch effort to decapitate Cuban leadership before the landings, an effort which included the notorious poisoning project but which was more extensive than the CIA ever admitted in its reports on the Cuba Project, or later to the Church committee.
Due to the nature of those missions, the majority of those individuals, including both Quintero and Rodriquez, did not end up in Cuba prisons; they and several of the other individuals being used in the pre-landing maritime missions (operated out of the Florida Keys, with some, including assassination missions overseen by Carl Jenkins) continued working in covert CIA operations including maritime missions into Cuba – overseen by CIA paramilitary specialist Rip Robertson.
Those missions decreased over time, particularly after the agreements with the Russians which helped resolve the Cuban missile crisis of fall 1962. By mid-1963 several of those individuals has essentially been taken off missions, some held on retainer but most simply looking for ways to continue efforts against Castro. In the summer of 1963, several of them (who were DRE members) participated in two abortive efforts to carry out bombing missions against Cuba.
At the same time that was going on, the Kennedy Administration had decided to support a new, highly autonomous off shore effort against Castro (AMWORLD), headed by Manuel Artime and with Quintero as second in command. Carl Jenkins was assigned to perform CIA oversight over Quintero and the initial military operations against Cuba.
What we have learned is that a particular clique of the most committed anti-Castro fighters, the earliest volunteers for the Cuba Project, the individuals given advanced training and sent into Cuba in high risk maritime missions – including assassination attempts were some of the earliest recruits into the new AMWORLD project. The joined the project in the August and September time frame – but the project itself did not begin covertly exfilitrating personnel out of the U.S. until January/February 1964.
For all intents and purposes those key individuals, very possibly including some of the names mentioned by Quintero, Rodriquez and Jenkins in the conversations Wheaton overhead, simply go out of sight. They continued to live in the US, they continued to travel and take some amount of training, apparently most continued to reside in the Miami area.
However while they were in the process of being given covers, they simply went dark. AMWORLD did have money for domestic activities, including travel and purchases. And it was all done outside of CIA control. It was autonomous and so were its members to a large extent. There is some indication that certain of the individuals we begin following in Carl Jenkins training camp in Panama in 1960 were traveling to Texas in the fall of 1963.
Several of them were active DRE members and could have used that affiliation as a dover in their travels to New Orleans and Dallas; some were definitely in New Orleans in the summer when Lee Oswald was there. But pinning down their movements in the fall is a real challenge and largely speculative at the moment.
In one instance it appears that the links may extend to Red Bird airport and the remarks made to Ray January by a Cuba pilot immediately before the attack on JFK. But fully confirming that is a challenge in itself.
So…do we have names that fit the Wheaton story; absolutely. Can we show them to be associated with each other and to be among the most committed and aggressive Cuban exiles; yes. Some among them were expert marksmen and had volunteered for use in sniper attacks on Castro. They were among the most skillful of the trainees at both infiltration and exfiltration, going in and out of Cuba multiple times even when Cuban security was at its highest. Manuel Artime had requested several of them by name as his own special security team. They were also among the first volunteers for his AMWROLD project in 1963.
Can we put them in Dallas for the attack, no we can’t. We have suspects, at the moment because of the autonomous nature of the AMWORLD project and its limited reporting, moving the ball further down the field is proving to be quite challenging.