CIA Castro murder plot revealed

The CIA recruited a former FBI agent to approach two of America’s most-wanted mobsters and gave them poison pills meant for Fidel Castro during his first year in power, according to newly declassified papers released Tuesday.

Contained amid hundreds of pages of CIA internal reports collectively known as “the family jewels,” the official confirmation of the 1960 plot against Castro was certain to be welcomed by communist authorities as more proof of their longstanding claims that the United States wants Castro dead.

Communist officials say there have been more than 600 documented attempts to kill Castro over the decades. Now 80, Castro has not been seen in public since handing power to his younger brother Raul while recovering from intestinal surgery last July. But in a letter published on Monday, the elder Castro claimed without providing details that President Bush had “authorized and ordered” his killing.

And while Cuban government press officials didn’t return a call seeking reaction Tuesday, the release of the newly declassified CIA documents had already been noted in state media.

“Upon the orders of the White House, the Central Intelligence Agency tried to assassinate President Fidel Castro and other former personalities and leaders,” the Communist Party newspaper Granma said Saturday. “What was already presumed and denounced will be corroborated.”

Other aborted U.S. attempts to kill Castro, who rose to power in January 1959 in a revolution that ousted dictator Fulgencio Batista, have been noted in other declassified documents.

The papers released Tuesday were part of a report prepared at the request of CIA Director James Schlesinger in 1973, who ordered senior agency officials to tell him of any current or past actions that could potentially violate the agency’s charter.

Some details of the 1960 plot first surfaced in investigative reporter Jack Anderson’s newspaper column in 1971.

The documents show that in August 1960, the CIA recruited ex-FBI agent Robert Maheu, then a top aide to Howard Hughes in Las Vegas, to approach mobster Johnny Roselli and pass himself off as the representative of international corporations that wanted Castro killed because of their lost gambling operations.

At the time, the bearded rebels had just outlawed gambling and destroyed the world-famous casinos American mobsters had operated in Havana.

Roselli introduced Maheu to “Sam Gold” and “Joe.” Both were mobsters on the U.S. government’s 10-most wanted list: Momo Giancana, Al Capone’s successor in Chicago; and Santos Trafficante, one of the most powerful mobsters in Batista’s Cuba. The agency gave the reputed mobsters six poison pills, and they tried unsuccessfully for several months to have several people put them in Castro’s food.

This particular assassination attempt was dropped after the failed CIA-sponsored Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in April 1961. The CIA was able to retrieve all the poison pills, records show.


  1. Sandra Price

    This is an old story and one that was exposed many years ago. Many books were written about the actions of the CIA which did nothing but cause many of us to lose respect for President Kennedy and the CIA itself.


    Looks like a limited hangout. Didn’t the CIA and the mob have a role to play in murdering Kennedy? And what about Bush Sr. and the Texas mafia? I’ve never had respect for any president while in office. It is juvenile to look for heroes in power.

    John Hanks, Laramie, Wyoming

  3. Boots

    Old news is right!

    The NSA is responsible for much of the intelligence gathering done via technology such as satellites and the Internet. Its home office in Maryland contains what is probably the largest body of secrets ever created.

    Little was known about the agency’s confidential culture until veteran journalist James Bamford blew the lid off in 1982 with his bestseller The Puzzle Palace. Still, much remained in the shadows. In Body of Secrets, Bamford throws much more light on his subject–and he reveals loads of shocking information. The story of the U-2 crisis in 1960 is well known, including President Eisenhower’s decision to tell a fib to the public in order to protect a national-security secret. Bamford takes the story a disturbing step forward, showing how Eisenhower went so far as to order his Cabinet officers to hide his involvement in the scandal even while under oath. At least one Cabinet member directly lied to the committee, a fact known to Eisenhower. Even more worrisome is another revelation, from the Kennedy years: The Joint Chiefs of Staff drew up and approved plans for what may be the most corrupt plan ever created by the U.S. government. In the name of anticommunism, they proposed launching a secret and bloody war of terrorism against their own country in order to trick the American public into supporting an ill-conceived war they intended to launch against Cuba. Operation Northwoods.

    If Bamford’s intel was correct in the past – is it correct now. He has another book out — Pretext for War: 9/11, Iraq, and the Abuse of America’s Intelligence Agencies

  4. marta

    INSIDE THE CIA- ON COMPANY BUSINESS (History, Assassination, Subversion) a 3-part PBS series, is an excellent documentary on the CIA’s many dirty deeds–including the assassination of Allende, the attempted assassination of Castro, and the Congressional hearings on the matter.
    It came out in the late 1970’s or early 80’s

    It’s not available on DVD, but fortunately I converted my tapes onto DVDs before they fell apart. I saw it again recently, and watching Richard Helms’ arrogance as he is questioned by Congress shows that NOTHING has really changed, it’s just more blatant.

    “A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within.”
    —————————— Will Durant