Carl Elmer Jenkins, the son of Willis Jenkins, was born in Glenmora, Louisiana on 1st October, 1926. Jenkins grew up in a shack without indoor plumbing. (1) Educated at Glenmora High School, he joined the United States Marines during the Second World War. (2)
On 21st July 1947 he married Margaret Statham, the daughter of John Statham of Marksville. (4) Over the next few years, Margaret, a schoolteacher, gave birth to five children: Paul, Timothy, Scott, Myra and Rosemary. (5)
Jenkins finished first among 372 officers in a Marine Corps training program at Quantico, Virginia. (6) In 1949 Jenkins was commissioned as Second Lieutenant in the marines. (7) In 1952 Jenkins joined the Central Intelligence Agency. According to Larry Hancock, the author of Someone Would Have Talked (2006), in the early 1950's Jenkins "became a CIA paramilitary trainer and infiltration specialist... in Asia, including Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines." (8)
Jenkins served as chief of a CIA base in Guatemala, where he trained the leaders of Brigade 2506, the U.S.-backed invasion force that was defeated at the Bay of Pigs in Cuba in April 1961. According to Jefferson Morley In his bedroom, Jenkins has a plaque from the brigade commending him "for outstanding services beyond the call of duty." (9)
After the Bay of Pigs disaster, President John F. Kennedy created a committee, Special Group Augmented (SGA), that was charged with overthrowing Castro's government. The SGA, chaired by Robert F. Kennedy (Attorney General), included Allen W. Dulles (CIA Director, later replaced by John McCone), Ural Alexis Johnson (State Department), McGeorge Bundy (National Security Adviser), Roswell Gilpatric (Defence Department), General Lyman Lemnitzer (Joint Chiefs of Staff) and General Maxwell Taylor. Although not officially members, Dean Rusk (Secretary of State) and Robert S. McNamara (Secretary of Defence) also attending meetings. (10)
Operation Mongoose was agreed at a meeting of this committee at the White House on 4th November, 1961. It was a covert action program for sabotage and subversion against Cuba. The Attorney General decided that General Edward Lansdale (Staff Member of the President's Committee on Military Assistance) and a former CIA agent, should be placed in charge of the operation. Lansdale later regretted accepting the job. "I think the thing that hurt me most in the long run was the task that Kennedy gave me on Cuba." (11)
The CIA JM/WAVE station in Miami served as operational headquarters for Operation Mongoose. One of Lansdale's first decisions was to appoint William King Harvey as head of Task Force W with the brief to bring down Castro's government. He also ran the CIA-Mafia plots to kill Castro under the CIA's Executive Action (a plan to remove unfriendly foreign leaders from power), part of which had the code name ZR/RIFLE. (12) Harvey later told the Senate Committee chaired by Frank Church that Robert Kennedy wanted his agency to overthrow Castro entirely with covert means and without the slightest taint of American involvement. (13)
Carl Jenkins was recruited to the team and worked very closely with David Sanchez Morales. It seems that while Morales dealt with the development and deplyment of security and intelligence forces and Jenkins selected and prepared paramilitary cadre for small, individual missions. In July, 1962, Jenkins became Special Warfare Advisor in Danang, South Vietnam. (14)
Jenkins organized U.S. Special Forces to carry out sabotage attacks on the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Jenkins admits he and his first wife ran a U.S. military guesthouse in Danang while his Vietnamese girlfriend ran a bar across the street. Life was dangerous because "You never knew who was a communist in that city." (15)
Jenkins took his family with him but his wife and children returned in September, 1963. The Shreveport Times reported: "A Streveport mother and her five children, who were the only American family in war-torn South Vietnam, are back home today with 14 months of war behind them." She told the newspaper that the family had to be always on guard against the Viet Cong. "They don't wear uniforms and you can't tell who is or isn't". Margaret Jenkins said "she and the children had guards and at no time were any of them more than 20 feet away." (16)
On his return to the United States, Jenkins joined the AM/WORLD project. The first AM/WORLD document that has been released was a five-page memo prepared on 28th June, 1963. It was sent by Joseph Caldwell King, Chief of the CIA's Western Hemisphere Division. "This will serve to alert you to the inception of AM/WORLD, a new CIA program targeted against Cuba. Some manifestations of activity resulting from this program may come to your notice before long... The Kennedy Administration, it should be emphasized, is willing to accept the risks involved in utilizing autonomous Cuban exile groups and individuals who are not necessarily responsive to CIA guidance and to face up to the consequences which are unavoidable in lowering professional standards adhered to by autonomous groups (as compared with fully controlled and disciplined agent assets) is bound to entail." (17)
The document goes on to point out that the "CIA will confine itself to supporting the efforts" of Manuel Artime and his exile group. "Artime will be in touch with a senior CIA officer, operating under a fully documented alias, who is to serve as his adviser and hopefully as his sole direct link with the Kennedy Administration." In fact, it was not Artime but Enrique (Harry) Ruiz-Williams who would be in direct contact with Robert Kennedy. Lamar Waldron has pointed out that the CIA was being somewhat disingenuous as Artime had been working with the CIA since 1959, when he attempted his first CIA-backed coup against Castro. "But, what was different about AM/WORLD was that Artime - and the others - were now taking orders not from the CIA, but from Bobby Kennedy". (18)
The AM/WORLD memo (104-10315-10004) was declassified on 27th January, 1999, and discovered by Stuart Wexler in 2004 and he showed it to the author, Larry Hancock. With the help of researchers such as Malcolm Blunt, Hancock obtained the names of other CIA officers involved in AM/WORLD. Hancock points out that AM/WORLD had its own separate operations staff based in Miami and Mexico City. The head of AM/WORLD and Artime's case officer was Henry Hecksher. The ranking exile under Artime was Rafael 'Chi Chi' Quintero who worked closely with CIA paramilitary officer, Carl E. Jenkins was military advisor to the AM/WORLD project. David Atlee Phillips was designated to organize safe houses and related activities for AM/WORLD. Other CIA officers who attended AM/WORLD and AM/TRUCK (an effort to produce an internal revolution against Castro in Cuba) meetings, included Ted Shackley and David Sanchez Morales. (19)
Morales with his key role heading CIA Operations in Miami, had a hand in all the CIA actions against Castro in 1963. Bradley Ayers, a US Army Ranger (Special Forces) Captain who was assigned to the CIA JMWAVE station to train Cuban commandos and who worked for the Special Group Augmented (SGA), later claimed that "Morales held sway with Ted Shackley and dominated the entire operational agenda at the CIA Station.... Morales was often demonstrably irritated with changes to planned covert/paramilitary operations that were handed down by CIA headquarters at Langley or by orders from Bobby Kennedy's Special Group that seemed to be micro-managing the secret war against Castro." (20)
In September, 1963, Jenkins wrote a memo about the activities of Manuel Artime (AM/BIDDY) and Rafael Quintero (AM/JAVA-4). He summarized his views about commando teams, infiltration teams, and guerrilla actions. The memo addresses military operations as Artime conceives them to be organized and conducted under a single organization in which the Cubans can have faith. He even discussed the "use of abductions and assassinations targeted against Cuban G-2 intelligence informants, agents, officers, and foreign Communists to raise the morale of people inside Cuba." (21)
In December 1964, Jenkins prepared a summary report of a mission that involved Quintero visiting Europe to make contact with Rolando Cubela and to arrange further meetings with Artime. The purpose of this meeting was to develop contacts with a group inside Cuba which was capable of "eliminating Fidel Castro and of seizing and holding Havana, at least for an appreciable time that would be sufficient to justify recognition." (22)
Richard Helms, the CIA director at the time, insisted in his autobiography, A Look Over My Shoulder: A Life in the CIA (2003) that the AMLASH operation was playing at tilting domestic politics in Cuba by fomenting political opposition. "It was not an assassination operation," Helms testified under oath to Congress. "It was not designed for that purpose. I think I do know what I'm talking about here." However, Jenkins told Jefferson Morley that it was an assassination program and he provided Manuel Artime with a a Belgian-made FAL rifle to give to Cubela. (23)
After divorcing his first wife, Jenkins married Elisabeth Starr Wilton, someone who worked as a translator for the CIA in Managua, Nicaragua on 20th December, 1965. (They were divorced on 23rd July, 1990 in Comal, Texas). Soon afterwards he was appointed as Senior Advisor to the Dominican Republic National Police for Counter-Insurgency Program Design & Training. The following year he held a similar post in Nicaragua.
Ted Shackley was placed in charge of CIA secret war in Laos. He appointed Thomas G. Clines as his deputy and in 1969 Jenkins became Plans/Programs/Budget Management Officer in Laos. Two years later he was appointed as Chief of Base in South Laos. He requested early retirement in 1973 but the release of recent documents suggest that he was still performing some activities for the CIA over the next few years. (24)
In 1975, Frank Church became the chairman of the Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities. This committee investigated alleged abuses of power by the Central Intelligence Agency and the Federal Bureau of Intelligence. In September, 1975, a subcommittee under Richard Schweiker was asked to investigate the performance of the intelligence agencies concerning the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Schweiker asked Gaeton Fonzi to join his staff investigating the case. During an interview with Paul Bethel, who worked briefly at JMWAVE, the CIA station in Miami, he mentioned that David Sanchez Morales, the close colleague of Carl Jenkins, had also been there working in the "dirty tricks department" His description matched that of "El Indio, a massive American of Mexican and Indian extraction" that appeared in the book, The Night Watch (25).
Fonzi now interviewed the author, David Atlee Phillip and asked him about "El Indio". He now played down his role in the CIA and suggested that he had drunk himself to death. Fonzi also discovered from Bradley Ayers, a CIA agent who worked for the Special Group Augmented (SGA), that Morales was an important figure in undercover operations and closely associated with John Roselli. During an interview with Ted Shackley, he admitted that Morales was his Chief of Operations. Fonzi wrote: "The fact that David Morales, a key field operative for David Phillips, worked closely with John Roselli at the CIA's JM/WAVE station has a broad web of implications." (26)
It was important for Fonzi to get to Morales before he died. William King Harvey had died as a result of complications from heart surgery in June 1976. Roselli went missing the following month. He was to be one of the first people to be interviewed by the HSCA. According to Anthony Summers, "Roselli had reportedly informed the government that he believed his former associates in the Castro assassination plots had gone on to murder President Kennedy." Roselli went missing in July 1976, his body was later discovered in the Intracoastal Waterway in North Miami. He had been cut up and stuffed into a 55-gallon steel drum. "the drum was weighted with chains and punctured with holes, apparently intended to ensure that the gases from the corpse escaped and did not bring it to the surface." (27)
William Pawley committed suicide in January, 1977, after he had been asked to appear before the HSCA. This was followed by the death of Manuel Artime (November, 1977). The Arizona Range News reported the death of David Morales as taking place on 8th May, 1978. It was not until 1992 that Gaeton Fonzi managed to find out what happened. He interviewed, Ruben Carbajal, a close friend of Morales who told him that he made a trip to Washington in early May, 1978. Carbajal had a drink with Morales a few days later. Carbajal told him he looked unwell. He replied: “I don’t know what’s wrong with me. Ever since I left Washington I haven’t been feeling very comfortable”. That night he was taken to hospital. Carbajal went to visit him the next morning. As Carbajal later recalled: “They wouldn’t let no one in, they had his room surrounded by sheriff’s deputies.” Later that day the decision was taken to withdraw his life support. Morales’s wife, Joanne, requested that there should not be an autopsy. "I think the Government took good care of her," said Carbajal. (28)
Fonzi also interviewed Bob Walton, Morales's lawyer, in the presence of Ruben Carbajal. Walton claimed on one occasion he said something favourable about John Kennedy. With this Morales lost his temper: "He started yelling about what a wimp Kennedy was and talking about how he had worked on the Bay of Pigs and how he had to watch all the men he had recruited and trained get wiped out because of Kennedy." This tirade went on for several minutes before going quiet. "Then, as if saying it only to himself, he added: 'Well, we took care of that son of a bitch, didn't we?' I (Fonzi) looked at Ruben Carbajal, who had remained silent while Walton was telling me this. Carbajal looked at me and nodded his head." (29)
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Further information against David Sanchez Morales came from Bradley E. Ayers who worked for a time at JM/WAVE, the CIA station in Miami. In a letter sent to John R. Tunheim, chairman of the Assassination Records Review Board, in August 1994, Ayers claimed that nine people based at JM/WAVE "have intimate operational knowledge of the circumstances surrounding the assassination of President John F. Kennedy". Ayers named Morales, Theodore Shackley, Grayston Lynch, Felix Rodriguez, Thomas Clines, Gordon Campbell, Rip Robertson, Edward Roderick and Tony Sforza as the men who had this information. (30)
Over the next few years several CIA officers who knew about the AM/WORLD project died: Tony Sforza (1984) David Atlee Phillips (1988), Henry Hecksher (1990), Richard Bissell (1994), Ted Shackley (2002) and Richard Helms (2002). However, as a result of Malcolm Blunt finding an declassified document from the archives in 2003, it emerged that two key figures in the operation were still alive. It was a letter from Gene Wheaton to the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB). It included the following: "I am faxing you one page of a CV prepared by a retired CIA officer who was a very close friend of mine in the mid-1980s. Our friendship was so close that I kept a bedroom in his home in Adington, Va, socialized with him and his wife (a high-level active CIA officer) and was virtually with them 24 hours a day. Through him I met many of the Bay of Pigs veterans, both Cuban and American. We had many intimate discussions about covert operations, Kennedy assassination, etc. He was totally in charge of infiltrating sabotage and assassination teams into Cuba from 1960 onward... I had discussions with him and one of his key Cuban agents about obtaining immunity for them if they would come forward about their knowledge of involvement in the Kennedy assassination plots. This man's programs included JMWAVE, Mongoose, ZR-RIFLE, among others, operating out of the Miami Station." (31)
Anne Buttimer, chief Investigator for the ARRB, had contact with Wheaton on 11th July, 1995. "Wheaton began by telling me he would only give me limited information over the telephone although he was willing to meet me face to face to provide as much information as he had. He said he had no physical proof of what he would eventually tell the Board; however he said he does have a number of documents which he will need to show me in order for me to believe what he has to say. By way of providing background on himself Wheaton explained he is a 59 year old retired military intelligence officer. He works as a consultant investigating terrorist attacks around the world and said he expects his telephone will ring in the next few days with an offer to work on the Oklahoma City federal building bombing. He said if this happens he will also probably be called to Washington DC and would meet with me here. If he does not he would still agree to meet with us but would have to do so on the West Coast. He lives in Riverside County, California near Palm Springs."
According to Buttimer's notes: "Wheaton told me that from 1984 to 1987 he spent a lot of time in the Washington DC area and that starting in 1985 he was 'recruited into Ollie North's network' by the CIA officer he has information about. He got to know this man and his wife, a "'super grade high level CIA officer" and kept a bedroom in their Virginia home. His friend was a Marine Corps liaison in New Orleans and was the CIA contact with Carlos Marcello. He had been responsible for "running people into Cuba before the Bay of Pigs." His friend is now 68 or 69 years of age. Over the course of a year or a year and one-half his friend told him about his activities with training Cuban insurgency groups. Wheaton said he also got to know many of the Cubans who had been his friend's soldiers/operatives when the Cubans visited in Virginia from their homes in Miami. His friend and the Cubans confirmed to Wheaton they assassinated JFK. Wheaton's friend said he trained the Cubans who pulled the triggers. Wheaton said the street level Cubans felt JFK was a traitor after the Bay of Pigs and wanted to kill him. People 'above the Cubans' wanted JFK killed for other reasons."
Wheaton said that Buttimer must look at his friend and his associates in order to know what really happened to JFK. One of those associates was Isaac Irving Davidson who "was/is the bag man for the intelligence community." He added that Davidson runs a group called the Timber Center which handles payoffs and payments for the CIA, the NSA and the Pentagon. "Wheaton said he would speak to the Board confidentially but would not allow his name to be used publicly because his friend and the friend's associates 'said they would destroy me in the media with a blitz of disinformation to destroy my professional reputation. They will make me out to be a conspiracy nut. I'm not afraid of them, I've been a cop too long and besides, they only kill the people on the inner circle. The rest of us end up having our reputations destroyed'. Wheaton concluded by saying "this matter is not complex but it is convoluted. I need to show you the paper trail to show the contacts of these people." (32)
The following year Gene Wheaton wrote another letter to the ARRB. "Ref the attached letters from your former Chief Investigator Anne Buttimer, dated 16 May 95, and 12 July 1995. Ms Buttimer and I had several contacts by phone/fax as well as the meeting on 11 July 95, in the Washington, D.C. area. At the July meeting I furnished her with rather sensitive documents, photos, and information related to the CIA covert connections to Cuba, Florida, Louisiana, Texas and Mexico during the months and years prior to, and after, the assassination in Dallas. During and after the July 95 meeting Ms. Buttimer stated she wanted to follow-up and expand on the data I provided. However, she shortly thereafter appears to have suddenly departed from the Board. I have never heard from her again, and no subsequent Board investigator has contacted me. The only thing I receive are the periodic news releases. I would appreciate it if you would advise me as to any action, research, or follow-up inquiry re the data I provided. I would also request you have Ms. Buttimer contact me, or provide a means for me to contact her." (33)
The ARRB refused to give Buttimer's contact details and made it clear they were unwilling to make use of the information he had given them. "Thank you for your March 31,1998 letter. Over the years we have received thousands of leads and suggestions regarding the existence and location of records related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. We appreciate that you furnished Ms. Buttimer with materials related to the CIA, Cuba, Florida, Louisiana, Texas, and Mexico City. These are all areas we have explored extensively. Please be assured that all leads are carefully reviewed and always helpful to our efforts. However, due to limited resources, it would be virtually impossible to link any records that have been released as being opened as a result of materials provided by a particular individual. Our mandate is to be completed on September 30, 1998, and I hope that you understand our priority is to release the remaining records that relate to the assassination. But please know that your contributions to our efforts are appreciated." (34)
Malcolm Blunt passed these documents to Larry Hancock and Stuart Wexler. (35) Further research showed that Wheaton had decades of experience in law enforcement and criminal investigation. "It includes Air Force OSI work in criminal investigation and counter-intelligence, Army CID training and work, serving as Director of Security for Rockwell's IBEX program in Iran, acting as advisor to U.S. and Iranian agencies on security, police and anti-terrorism, security consulting work with the governments of Egypt, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia as well as for Bechtel Corp in its Saudi Jeddah airport project. It also includes his work as a consulting investigator on the Iran Contra case and the related congressional investigations of the 'guns for drugs' aspect of that affair." (36)
Details about Wheaton's past work can be found in Joel Bainerman's book, The Crimes of a President (1992): "Wheaton had been investigating Reagan-Bush covert operations since the early 1980s and had seen from the inside how these secret agendas operated. In addition to his 25 years' experience as a criminal investigator for the U.S. Army, he had designed security systems for airports in the Middle East and served as an anti-smuggling narcotics advisor to the Shah. By that time I had interviewed covert operators like Richard Secord, and Iran-Contra players such as Yaacov Nimrodi. Now I had someone who looked at the world of covert operations from the perspective of an investigator. Unlike intelligence agents, Wheaton didn't thrive on lies and deceit. Judging from his very modest home, he obviously wasn't in it for the money. In 1985 Wheaton was vice president of a small cargo airline company that Oliver North's network wanted to use to haul arms to the Contras and rebels elsewhere, such as in Afghanistan Wheaton had the expertise the secret team wanted, so they set out to recruit him. While Wheaton may have fit their political profile, he was conservative and right-wing; he was a cop, not an intelligence agent. He was brought into the center circle, where he stayed long enough to learn about the White House's ties to drug runners, the massive arms transfers to rebel groups, the mountains of falsified documentation and miscarriages of justice." (37)
Hancock and Wexler discovered that Gene Wheaton was living in a rural area south of San Francisco. Hancock then asked William Matson Law and Mark Sobel to interview Wheaton in the summer 2005. (38) A small group of researchers saw the video at the JFK Lancer conference in November, 2005. For many years the contents of this video was unpublished at the request of Wheaton, who had concerns about his safety. Wheaton died on 31st December, 2015, after suffering from a traumatic head injury due to a fall at his home. (39)
The interview was eventually posted on YouTube on 15th June, 2017. Wheaton provided very important information on two important members of the AM/WORLD project, Carl Jenkins and Chi Chi Rafael Quintero. "I first met Carl Jenkins in Iran in 1976... In 1985 he became my Washington representative when I became Vice President of the cargo airlines National Air, this was during the Iran-Contra thing and they wanted my airplanes for the Contras... We became like brothers... Chi Chi Quintero would come up to Carl's place in Fairfax, Virginia... from his home in Miami... We were just like a family, they would talk directly to me and to each other in my presence, as if I was one of the spook crowd, the covert crowd."
Gene Wheaton explained how Jenkins became friends with Quintero, as well as giving information on Félix Rodríguez and Nestor Pino: "Carl Jenkins was the head recruiter and trainer of the Cubans for the Bay of Pigs, for the assassins and saboteurs going into Cuba. He became their father figure... Ted Shackley was the head of the CIA Miami Station and Jenkins worked for him. Chi Chi Quintero was one of those Bay of Pigs guys who got caught and when they got him out Chi Chi became like a son to Carl. He and two or three others, Félix Rodríguez and Nestor Pino, all went through Vietnam with him and in the African Congo when they were trying to overthrow Patrice Lumumba."
Wheaton then went on to discuss the AM/WORLD project that Jenkins and Quintero were involved with in 1963: "There was a CIA funded program to assassinate Castro and Carl was in charge of training the Cubans in Miami to assassinate Castro. They would go to Texas and Mexico and take old convertibles, stick old water melons on the back seat, in something they called triangulation shooting teams... According to them, they were the ones that diverted the Castro funds and training for their own agenda to snuff Kennedy... They were CIA people who were training people to assassinate Castro, but if you are training people to assassinate one man, you can use that training to assassinate anybody... They were furious with JFK because he backed off at the last moment at the Bay of Pigs... There was another clique above them who were worried about Kennedy not increasing the program to escalate hostilities in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Carl was training Chi Chi and several other shooters, about five of them."
Wheaton also spoke about the connection between Carl E. Jenkins, Lee Harvey Oswald and Carlos Marcello: "Carl Jenkins formed the first Marine Corps Reserve Unit in New Orleans in Louisiana and was the CIA liaison officer between CIA headquarters and Carlos Marcello and organized crime in the area. Carl helped recruit Lee Harvey Oswald into the CIA while he was a marine... Lee was just a stooge they set up as part of a Operation Security Plan for deniability when they put a real dirty operation into place." (40)
After watching the video in November, 2005, I contacted Don Bohning, a journalist who worked for the Miami Herald in the late 1950s and the early 1960s. Bohning was also part of the CIA's Operation Mockingbird program, with the code-name AMCARBON-3. (41) While working on his book, Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years, the journalist David Talbot contacted Bohning to ask him about his reported ties to the CIA. Bohning denied that he was paid for the work he did for the CIA. However, as Talbot pointed out: "The fact that Bohning was given a CIA code as an agency asset and was identified as an agency informant is a relevant piece of information that the readers" of his books and articles have a right to know. (42)
However, in a book published earlier that year, The Castro Obsession: U.S. Covert Operations Against Cuba, 1959-1965 (2005) Bohning made it clear that alongside CIA officers such as Ted Shackley, Jake Esterline and Sam Halpern, his good friend, Chi Chi Rafael Quintero, was a major source of information for his book: "This account would have been woefully inadequate without the Cuban exile perspective... Quintero was among the first to join the ranks of exiles for what was to become the Bay of Pigs, was infiltrated into Cuba to report in advance of the invasion, and returned again during Operation Mongoose. As deputy to exile leader Manuel Artime, he provided invaluable insight for understanding the little-known autonomous operations." (43)
Bohning admitted that he was still in regular contact with Quintero and was willing to answer my questions. Quintero agreed that he had met Wheaton at the house of Jenkins and had told him the story of how they killed President Kennedy and he was telling the truth as "he knew it". However, he added that they had been lying to him as a joke. However, according to an article in Granma, the journalists Reinaldo Taladrid and Lazaro Barredo Medina: “Another of Bush’s recruits for the Bay of Pigs invasion, Rafael Quintero, who was also part of this underworld of organizations and conspiracies against Cuba, stated: If I was to tell what I know about Dallas and the Bay of Pigs, it would be the greatest scandal that has ever rocked the nation." (44)
Larry Hancock carried out detailed research into Carl Jenkins: "Research confirms that beyond a doubt, Carl Jenkins was indeed a senior CIA officer who worked on paramilitary activities in support of the Bay of Pigs project and that by 1963-64 he was directly involved with the AM/WORLD project, with Artime (AM/BIDDY) and Quintero (AM/JAVA-4). In September, 1963 Jenkins wrote a general memo describing Artime's operational philosophy and concepts (RIF 104-10308-10094). In a section on Commandos, there is discussion of the use of abductions and assassinations targeted against Cuban G-2 intelligence informants, agents, officers, and foreign Communists to raise the morale of people inside Cuba." (45)
Chi Chi Rafael Quintero died on 1st October, 2006. Carl Jenkins is still alive and Stuart Wexler managed to discover where he lives. According to Hancock: "As to Jenkins, Stu called several times and never made it though his daughter; I know one other researcher who did get through and Jenkins was pretty distant, he stated he had never worked at JMWAVE (true, he worked for the Cuba Project in Panama, Guatemala and either headquarters or Key West). He said Wheaton lied about everything... contrary of course to Quintero." (46)
Jefferson Morley managed to get an interview with Carl Jenkins in April 2021. He was highly critical of John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy and admitted that he had been involved in several assassination attempts on foreign leaders. "I was one of the handful of people in the agency that was trained and experienced in paramilitary operations. I could indeed bring down a government. Or I could protect the government by getting rid of the insurgents. Either way. And the word goes around. 'Hey, if you need a dirty job done, call Jenkins.' And they did. And I went. I've had maybe three major successes and a hell of a lot of failures." (47)
Did Jenkins and Quintero organize the assassination of John F. Kennedy? I think they did and posted my views on the subject in December 2005. As a result I was contacted by Jenkins' granddaughter by email, complaining about what I was saying about him on my website. I said I was willing to publish her grandfather's account of these events. She replied that he refused to do this. A few months later I received another email from her stating that I might be right about her grandfather. Did he confess to her? Or, did they just have a row about something else?
1. On 19 March, Dino A.Brugioni, Chief, Western Geographic Division, informed me that three personnel assigned to his division had told him that while serving at JMWAVE, Miami, Florida or in the Imagery Analysis Service in Washington during the 1960's, they had ,heard references to assassination plans on Fidel Castro
2. On 20 March, I met with the following NPIC personnel who had either served in the Imagery Analysis Service or at JMWAVE on Cuban related problems: Gordon Duvall, Earl Shoemaker, Tom Helmke, Bruce Barrett, Reyes Ponce, George Arthur; Eugene Lydon, and William Hanlon. The purpose of this meeting was to ascertain whether their participation was related to case officer generated materials or bona fide operations.
3. There appeared to be two plans involving Fidel Castro and an incident that may have been related to Raul Castro.
The plans involving Fidel, to the knowledge of our people, were:
(a) A folder, stored in the Photo Interpretation area at JMWAVE contained materials relating to a plan to assassinate Castro in the Bay of Pigs resort area where he maintained a yacht and was known to vacation. The plan, possibly with the codeword : PATHFINDER, apparently had been disapproved and was not under active consideration at the time. Our people did not participate actively in the plan in any regard.
(b) While assigned to the Imagery Analysis Service, a, number of our photo interpreters supported Carl Jenkins of the DD/P concerning a plan to assassinate Castro at the DuPont Varadero Beach Estate, east of Havana. Castro was known to frequent the estate and the plan was to use a high-powered rifle in the attempt. The photo interpretation support was restricted to providing annotated photographs and line drawings of the estate. To our knowledge, this plan also was never implemented.
4. The incident involving Raul Castro was not a formalized plan. It considered of a paramilitary raid on Santiago de Cuba harbor. There was a rumor at JMWAVE that, while exiting the harbor, Raul Castro's home had been fired upon by a paramilitary case officer named "Rip" Robertson.
5. To the best of my knowledge, these facts represent the totality of any participation by our personnel in these matters. We have no further knowledge that the Fidel Castro operation ever advanced beyond the planning stage.
I am faxing you one page of a CV prepared by a retired CIA officer who was a very close friend of mine in the mid-1980s. Our friendship was so close that I kept a bedroom in his home in Adington, Va, socialized with him and his wife (a high-level active CIA officer) and was virtually with them 24 hours a day.
Through him I met many of the Bay of Pigs veterans, both Cuban and American. We had many intimate discussions about covert operations, Kennedy assassination, etc.
He was totally in charge of infiltrating sabotage and assassination teams into Cuba from 1960 onward (see * on his bio).
I had discussions with him and one of his key Cuban agents about obtaining immunity for them if they would come forward about their knowledge of involvement in the Kennedy assassination plots. This man's programs included JMWAVE, Mongoose, ZR-RIFLE, among others, operating out of the Miami Station.
If you think I can help, we will have to meet. Dr. Tunheim has my bio. If you need another copy please let me know.
Note: The USMC Reserve Unit that my associate established was in the New Orleans area to act as a cover for CIA Latin-American Operations.
I have blanked out his I.D. until we can meet to discuss this further.
Wheaton began by telling me he would only give me limited information over the telephone although he was willing to meet me face to face to provide as much information as he had. He said he had no physical proof of what he would eventually tell the Board; however he said he does have a number of documents which he will need to show me in order for me to believe what he has to say.
By way of providing background on himself Wheaton explained he is a 59 year old retired military intelligence officer. He works as a consultant investigating terrorist attacks around the world and said he expects his telephone will ring in the next few days with an offer to work on the Oklahoma City federal building bombing. He said if this happens he will also probably be called to Washington DC and would meet with me here. If he does not he would still agree to meet with us but would have to do so on the West Coast. He lives in Riverside County, California near Palm Springs.
Wheaton told me that from 1984 to 1987 he spent a lot of time in the Washington DC area and that starting in 1985 he was "recruited into Ollie North's network" by the CIA officer he has information about. He got to know this man and his wife, a "'super grade high level CIA officer" and kept a bedroom in their Virginia home. His friend was a Marine Corps liaison in New Orleans and was the CIA contact with Carlos Marcello. He had been responsible for "running people into Cuba before the Bay of Pigs." His friend is now 68 or 69 years of age.
Over the course of a year or a year and one-half his friend told him about his activities with training Cuban insurgency groups. Wheaton said he also got to know many of the Cubans who had been his friend's soldiers/operatives when the Cubans visited in Virginia from their homes in Miami. His friend and the Cubans confirmed to Wheaton they assassinated JFK. Wheaton's friend said he trained the Cubans who pulled the triggers. Wheaton said the street level Cubans felt JFK was a traitor after the Bay of Pigs and wanted to kill him. People "above the Cubans" wanted JFK killed for other reasons.
Wheaton said we must look at his friend and his associates in order to know what really happened to JFK. One of those associates was I. Irving Davidson who was/is "the bag man for the intelligence community." Davidson runs a group called the Timber Center which handles payoffs and payments for the CIA, the NSA and the Pentagon. He is a friend of Jack Anderson's and was indicted with Carlos Marcello in the 1980's on a Teamster's kick-back charge. Davidson is a non-practicing attorney in Washington D.C. He is now about 70 years old.
Wheaton said he would speak to the Board confidentially but would not allow his name to be used publicly because his friend and the friend's associates "said they would destroy me in the media with a blitz of disinformation to destroy my professional reputation. They will make me out to be a conspiracy nut. I'm not afraid of them, I've been a cop too long and besides, they only kill the people on the inner circle. The rest of us end up having our reputations destroyed."
Wheaton concluded by saying "this matter is not complex but it is convoluted. I need to show you the paper trail to show the contacts of these people."
Carl (Jenkins) was my (National Air) Washington, D.C. rep. who connected me to Nestor Pino, Bill Bode, Rob Owen, Vaughn Forrest, Chi Chi Quintero, Nestor Sanchez, et al. I was V.P. of National Air in 1985-86 (see my Bio).
Ref the attached letters from your former Chief Investigator Anne Buttimer, Edq dated 16 May 95, and 12 July 1995. Ms Buttimer and I had several contacts by phone/fax as well as the meeting on 11 July 95, in the Washington, D.C. area.
At the July meeting I furnished her with rather sensitive documents, photos, and information related to the CIA covert connections to Cuba, Florida, Louisiana, Texas and Mexico during the months and years prior to, and after, the assassination in Dallas.
During and after the July 95 meeting Ms. Buttimer stated she wanted to follow-up and expand on the data I provided.
However, she shortly thereafter appears to have suddenly departed from the Board. I have never heard from her again, and no subsequent Board investigator has contacted me. The only thing I receive are the periodic news releases.
I would appreciate it if you would advise me as to any action, research, or follow-up inquiry re the data I provided. I would also request you have Ms. Buttimer contact me, or provide a means for me to contact her.
Thank you for your March 31,1998 letter. Over the years we have received thousands of leads and suggestions regarding the existence and location of records related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
We appreciate that you furnished Ms. Buttimer with materials related to the CIA, Cuba, Florida, Louisiana, Texas, and Mexico City. These are all areas we have explored extensively. Please be assured that all leads are carefully reviewed and always helpful to our efforts. However, due to limited resources, it would be virtually impossible to link any records that have been released as being opened as a result of materials provided by a particular individual.
Our mandate is to be completed on September 30, 1998, and I hope that you understand our priority is to release the remaining records that relate to the assassination. But please know that your contributions to our efforts are appreciated.
Again, thank you for writing. I hope this information is helpful to you.
While running back and forth to Saudi Arabia and Pakistan and Egypt in the ‘80s, early, mid 80s... I kept my contacts with the embassies around the world and with the State Department, and with the Agency, so that I could get quicker access into countries whenever I got a project that I could work on. In 1985 I became the vice-president of a cargo airline called National Air. It was during that period, summer of ’85, that some of my old CIA contacts -- who were no longer full-time employees of the agency -- but when they retire these guys they usually give them a contract as an outside contractor on the side, and then they have deniability for working for the agency. They can say, "No, he’s not an employee of the agency," but in fact they are contractors and they still carry security clearances and have to be polygraphed once in a while. I was recruited into Ollie North’s network by that group during the summer of ’85 because they wanted my airplanes for missions to the Contras, and they wanted my Middle East background for helping devise a plan for movement of weapons to the Mujahadin in Afghanistan. I had traveled across Afghanistan before, and again, I speak the language, and had been in and out of in Afghanistan and Pakistan more so than anybody they could find within the agency.
The guys that I had known for several years, uh, primarily Carl Jenkins, who was a long-time career CIA paramilitary mercenary operator, uh, probably the most highly respected of those people in that division of the agency... he was the commander of the biggest CIA base in Laos while Shackley was over there, and while Bill Sullivan was over as ambassador. Carl and I became very close friends in the early 80s, to the point where I would keep a bedroom in his home in Washington with clothes and papers and things so I didn’t have to carry them from California. I was commuting regularly back and forth when I was going overseas, and Carl and his wife, who was an active super-grader in the agency - he was her case officer and she had been his interpreter, and then he got her a master’s degree and then she got her Ph.D. She went on to head one of the branches of the agency - we became like brothers and sisters, between me and them.
So I was back in Washington trying to drum up business for this little cargo airline, and Carl agreed to be my Washington representative, uh, for marketing purposes to open doors for me in Washington, D.C. ... to see if I could get some cargo contracts. It was in that vein that Carl told me it was time... that the guys in the national security council wanted to bring me into the inner circle. And that’s where I sort of got at the very national level of this. I had previously attended some black-tie functions with Bill Casey and the veterans of the OSS; had been invited to a party where the guest of honor was Vice President Bush. My wife and I were invited. We were running with a fairly high-level crowd. In December of, uh, ’85 was the scheduled time for me to actually meet with Ollie North, so they had a black-tie dinner at the Palm Restaurant in Washington D. C. on the 4th of December. It was the day that Bud McFarland resigned as national security advisor.
At that black tie party at the Palm Restaurant on the 4th of December in 1985, I was specifically invited by Neil Livingston and to come in and meet Ollie North, and it was a party to promote Neil Livingston’s book, called "Fighting Back", and the subtitle was "The War on Terrorism". He and a State Department/CIA spook by the name of Terry Arnold wrote that book together and this was the coming-out party for the book, and all the covert operations community, the real snake eaters, were going to be there with black ties. Ollie North was there and Bud McFarland and I don’t know, 75 or 100 people in black ties, having drinks and dinner and hobnobbing and they felt like... the atmosphere at that party was one of ‘We are the shadow government running the United States.’ It was almost like a diplomatic party or a State Department coming out party for a regime. These guys were in charge, and that was how they presented it.
There was a plan that was approved later on by the Congress in August, no, excuse me, October of 1985 - Congress was going to vote in 27 million dollars in non-lethal aid for the Contras and it was going to be a legitimate but covert, uh, program to supply the Contras with everything from medicines to tents and uniforms and food and whatever else they might need that was non-lethal, but as it turned out, that program became a lethal one too, because they would ship what they would laughingly refer to as hard rice, meaning weaponry, in with the $27 million worth of stuff.
Carl took me to the, what they called the Humanitarian Aid Office for the State Department in Roslyn, Virginia, and I met with Chris Arcos who was the deputy for that program to a guy, an Ambassador Dumeling. We were trying to get some of the 27 million dollars of cargo to haul to Honduras for the Contras that Congress had approved, and we were told several times in no uncertain terms that the only way we could do it was to work through Dick Secord and that aviation supply route, and I refused to do that because I knew that Secord had an unsavory reputation; he been forced into retirement out of the Air Force as a major general in ’83 over the Ed Wilson scandal in Libya. So I was advising the people around Ollie North, the liaison people between me and him, that they were dealing with a bunch of unsavory characters that had a reputation, an official public reputation, of causing extreme embarrassment to the government. At that time I didn’t... I thought the contractors - Secord and that group - I thought they had a legitimate covert contract with the government, but they were also diverting aircraft and hauling illegal cargo on the side, and I was receiving direct information about their movement.
Well, in May of ’86, I personally briefed CIA director Bill Casey, and of course he looked startled. I had no idea at the time that he was one of the masterminds behind all this illegal stuff, but he said he’d look into it and get back to me. And he said he had to leave the country the next day, and would be back in touch with me in two or three weeks. It was exactly the same weekend, or the week, I think the 30th of May, when I met with him, or the 31st, when Ollie North was on that secret trip with Bud McFarland to Tehran. So I suppose Casey was going over to Israel to brief them about it. I didn’t know that at the time. Casey sent a message to me after he got back saying that the agency wasn’t involved in any of this stuff, and that the government wasn’t involved in this illegal diversion, and "If you think you can do anything about it, let the chips fall where they may," as a bluff. I’m just a raggedy little old Oklahoma country boy, retired chief warrant officer, and I guess he figured I couldn’t do it.
Anyway, as result of those briefings in the summer of ‘86, and I was kind of - this struck me as being treason and grand larceny on a major scale, stealing from the taxpayers’ money, - and having been a cop all my life, I thought it was kind of wrong. So I got with a couple of Washington D.C. journalists that I knew. And one of them was a two-time Pulitzer prize winning journalist by the name of Newt Royce. And Newt Royce and Mike Icoca, who was a free-lancer who was writing with him - Newt at that time was with the Hearst newspaper chain in Washington D. C., with their bureau. I had information - direct knowledge from the Saudi royal family - that kickbacks were being, from the Saudi AWACS program, were being used to help fund the Contras, to buy weapons from different countries around the world. And I furnished Newt with the names of other people that could back up what I was saying, and that this was a scam because Secord, who was on active duty after the Iranian revolution, was the chief architect of the Saudi AWACS program. The Saudi AWACS program was identical to our Iran IBEX program that we had to close down in Iran. They just moved it across the Persian Gulf to Saudi Arabia and renamed it. It was an 8 billion dollar program, and those guys were talking about 10 % or 15%, so you’re talking about an 800 million dollars minimum, estimate, that that these guys could get whenever they wanted it, out of the bag.
And Newt and Mike Icoca wrote it up on the wire service for Hearst newspaper chain, and it went out on the wires and was made a front page headline of the San Francisco Examiner on the 27th of July of 1986. As a result of that article in August of ‘86, Congressman Dante Facell wrote a letter to then secretary of defense Casper Weinberger asking him if it was true that foreign money, kickback money on programs, was being used to fund foreign covert operations. And in September of ‘86 Cap Weinberger wrote a letter back to Facell denying that it was being done by the U.S. government, with any knowledge of it being kickback money. That eventually, one of George Bush’s last acts - and Larry Walsh, the special prosecutor, indicted Weinberger as a result of that correspondence - and Bush pardoned him as one of his last acts. And that’s how this whole mess got started.
This stuff goes back to the scandals of the 70s... of Watergate and Richard Helms, the CIA director, being convicted by Congress of lying to Congress, of Ted Shackley and Tom Clines and Dick Secord and a group of them being forced into retirement as a result of the scandal over Edmond P. Wilson’s training of Libyan terrorists in conjunction with these guys, and moving C-4 explosives to Libya. They decided way back when, ‘75-’76, during the Pike and Church Committee hearings, that the Congress was their enemy. They felt that the government had betrayed them and that they were the real heroes in this country and that the government became their enemy. In the late 70s, in fact, after Gerry Ford lost the election in ’76 to Jimmy Carter, and then these guys became exposed by Stansfield Turner and crowd for whatever reason... there were different factions involved in all this stuff, and power plays... Ted Shackley and Vernon Walters and Frank Carlucci and Ving West and a group of these guys used to have park-bench meetings in the late 70s in McClean, Virginia so nobody could overhear they conversations. They basically said, "With our expertise at placing dictators in power," I’m almost quoting verbatim one of their comments, "why don’t we treat the United States like the world’s biggest banana republic and take it over?" And the first thing they had to do was to get their man in the White House, and that was George Bush."
Reagan never really was the president. He was the front man. They selected a guy that had charisma, who was popular, and just a good old boy, but they got George Bush in there to actually run the White House. They’d let Ronald Reagan and Nancy out of the closet and let them make a speech and run them up the flagpole and salute them and put them back in the closet while these spooks ran the White House. They made sure that George Bush was the chairman of each of the critical committees involving these covert operations things. One of them was the Vice President’s Task Force On Combating Terrorism. They got Bush in as the head of the vice president’s task force on narcotics, the South Florida Task Force, so that they could place people in DEA and in the Pentagon and in customs to run interference for them in these large-scale international narcotics and movement of narcotics money cases. They got Bush in as the chairman of the committee to deregulate the Savings and Loans in ’83 so they could deregulate the Savings and Loans, so that they would be so loosely structured that they could steal 400, 500 billion dollars of what amounted to the taxpayers’ money out of these Savings and Loans and then bail them out. They got hit twice: they stole the money out of the Savings and Loans, and then they sold the Savings and Loans right back to the same guys, and then the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation - the taxpayers money - paid for bailing out the Savings and Loans that they stole the money from.. and they ran the whole operation, and Bush was the de facto president even before the ‘88 election when he became president.
See, when Harry Truman signed the National Security Act creating the CIA, he specifically stated in that act that they could not have any police powers. And they could not operate domestically in the United States, because he feared a secret police coup. By creeping in a little at a time, that coup has taken place.
This crowd really believes that the unwashed masses are ignorant, that we are people who are not capable of governing ourselves, that we need this elitist group to control the country, and the world -- these guys have expanded. They look at the United States not as a country, not in any kind of patriotic mode now, but they look on it as a state within a world that they control. And that’s this attitude that they have. They’re not unlike any other megalomaniac in the world. They’re nutty as fruitcake, but they’ve got distinguished gray hair, three-piece dark suits and they carry briefcases, and they’ll stand up and make speeches just as articulate as anybody in the world, but they don’t socialize and function outside their own little clique. My experience with them is that they could be certified as criminally insane and put away in a rubber room and have the key thrown away. That’s how dangerous they are. But they’re powerful, and they’re educated. And that makes them twice as dangerous. And that’s basically what’s running the world right now.
If I had not been part of this, and hadn’t seen it first hand, I would not believe a word I’m saying. You couldn’t convince me that something like this - and the American people will not believe it. Because you can’t get the average citizen... I’ve talked to judges and lawyers who have invited me in to talk to them. Some of them really patriotic concerned people. It turns them off, because it changes their entire life experience, and the reason that they have existed, and the things they have believed in all their life if you tell them this.
I have sat on the banks of the Potomac in restaurants with 75 and 80-year-old retired CIA people and retired generals, West Point graduates, honorable people... these old men have sat with tears in their eyes and told me that, "Gene, what you’re into, you understand it more than we did, and it’s absolutely true, but it’s just so big you can’t do anything about it." I guess if I believed that, I’d go off to some South Sea island and drink a few Cuba Libres laying in the sand or something, but somebody has to keep charging in there, you know. The biggest chink in their armor - and it would take somebody smarter than me to figure out how to exploit it - is their insecurity. They are afraid of a peasant with a pitchfork. And the reason they react so strongly and violently against anybody who opposes them, is because they’re afraid someone will grab a thread and unravel it, and their whole uniform will come unraveled...
The only way I can think of to get this thing exposed, would be to coordinate with all of the different independent small newspapers and radio stations in the United States - and television networks - and get them to start blasting this thing - and some universities - because the major media’s not going to do anything about it.
Throughout 1985, Paul Hoven, a friend of Sheehan's and a Vietnam veteran, regularly attended parties of ex-Agency men and weekend warriors, some associated with Soldier of Fortune magazine. (Hoven worked at the Project on Military Procurement, an outfit funded by liberals and devoted to exposing Pentagon waste.) At a bash near Christmas, Carl Jenkins, a former CIA officer who had been assigned to Miami and Laos, introduced Hoven to Gene Wheaton, a balding middle-aged fellow.
Wheaton was an odd bird. As Wheaton has related his life story, he was a Marine in the 1950s and then joined the Tulsa police force. He was an army detective in Vietnam and in the mid-1970s a security officer at a top-secret CIA-Rockwell surveillance program in Iran called Project IBEX. In 1979 he returned to the United States, went through a string of security-related jobs, and became obsessed with the covert world and drug-trafficking. When he met Hoven, Wheaton, now representing a California aviation company, was scheming with Jenkins and Ed Dearborn, a former CIA pilot in Laos and the Congo, to win federal contracts to transport humanitarian supplies to anticommunist rebels, including the Mujahedeen of Afghanistan and the Contras. So far, the trio had failed to collect any. They had even complained to a State Department official that Richard Secord and Oliver North improperly controlled who got the Contra-related contracts. They badmouthed Secord, noting that he had been mixed up with Shackley, Wilson, and Clines. One set of spooks was pissed at another.
At the Soldier of Fortune party, Hoven pegged Wheaton as someone who thought he was a player but who truly was not. Nevertheless, he agreed to assist Wheaton. Hoven set up a meeting with a congressional aide who followed the Afghan program. Hoven did not realize that Wheaton had more on his mind than contracts. Wheaton had spent much of the previous year hobnobbing with arms dealers, ex-CIA officers, and mercenaries, and he had collected information on past and present covert operations, including the secret Contra-arms project.
Wheaton was obsessed with the 1976 assassination in Iran of three Americans who worked on Project IBEX. He believed the killings were linked to U.S. intelligence, that a ring of ex-spooks was running wild in Central America and elsewhere.
So when Wheaton met with the congressional staffer and Hoven, he skipped the presentation on supplying the Mujahedeen. Instead he launched into a speech about political assassinations related to U.S. intelligence. He rattled on about the mysterious IBEX murders. Hoven had a hard time following Wheaton. His claims were based on a mishmash of speculative hearsay, fanciful information, and some actual facts. But Wheaton made his bottom-line point obvious: a rogue element in the U.S. government had engaged in a host of nefarious activities, including assassinations.
The congressional staffer wanted nothing to do with the rambling intrigue Wheaton was peddling. But Hoven was interested. He called Danny Sheehan, thinking he ought to hear Wheaton's tale.
Sheehan already had developed an interest in the murky community of mercenaries, Cuban exiles, and others secretly aiding the Contras. By early 1986, press accounts had revealed that a clandestine Contra support network ran all the way into the White House and that Oliver North, a low-level aide, was involved-even though Congress had seemingly barred the administration from militarily aiding the rebels. (The White House claimed these stories were wrong.) Here was the perfect target for Sheehan: a furtive program supporting a covert war against a leftist government. He wondered if he could strike at it in the courts. He always was looking for cases that made good stories-ones in which he could be a hero. Then he met Gene Wheaton, who had a helluva tale for Sheehan.
Sheehan and Wheaton sat down in the kitchen of Hoven's house in early February of 1986. It was magic. To a wide-eyed Sheehan, Wheaton, posing as an experienced operator, tossed out wild stories of clandestine operations and dozens of names: Wilson, Secord, Clines, Hakim, Singlaub, Bush. A whole crew was running amok, supporting Contras, conducting covert activity elsewhere. Drugs were involved. Some of this gang had engaged in corrupt government business in Iran and Southeast Asia. Now the same old boys were running weapons to Latin America. Central to the whole shebang was a former CIA officer named Ted Shackley. Sheehan was captivated. He had struck the mother lode.
Sheehan spoke a few times with Carl Jenkins. At one session, Sheehan listened as Jenkins and Wheaton discussed what Wheaton was calling the "off-the-reservation gang" - Secord, Clines, Hakim, and Shackley - and the operations they ran in and out of government. According to Hoven, Wheaton and Jenkins wanted to see information about this crowd made public and saw Sheehan as the mechanism of disclosure.
Wheaton and Jenkins did not tell Sheehan that they hoped to settle a score with a band they believed had an unfair lock on the air-supply contracts they desired. But to Hoven it was clear that one faction of spooks was whacking another. Hoven was not sure who was on what side. He guessed that somebody somewhere-maybe even in the Agency itself-was upset with the freelancers and wanted to see them reined in. But if Jenkins or anyone else thought they could use Sheehan as a quiet transmitter of damaging information, they were as wrong as they could be.
On July 29, 1986, North had a meeting with retired Air Force Major General Richard Secord, who was running the Contra resupply effort as well as handling arms shipments to Iran. They discussed Ron Martin and Sergio Brull, along with Miami gun dealer David Duncan and the use of an East German ship that Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega was holding.
Brull was also named by Secord in an interview he had with the FBI in July 1986. Secord said Brull was an associate of Jack Terrell, who had been involved in efforts to resupply the Contras.
In 1989, Brull was sued by a bank in Haiti for allegedly absconding with the proceeds of a $1.4 million letter of credit that was to buy 5,000 tons of Brazilian sugar for Haiti. The bank couldn't locate Brull to serve him with the lawsuit and alleged that he had fled the country. The bank was able to track the $1.4 million that Brull took to a bank in Madrid, Spain."
Another member of this circle who was in Belize around this time was Carl Jenkins, an old CIA agent whose previous claim to fame was his role as Rafael "Chi Chi" Quintero's case officer during the Bay of Pigs fiasco." (Quintero, an infamous CIA operative who worked with Thomas Clines and Edwin Wilson, among others, was brought in by Secord and Clines to help with the Contra resupply effort.)" Jenkins is mentioned in a number of places in North's notebooks, including one memorable list by North that reads "Gene Wheaton, Carl Jenkins, [John] Hull, [Rob] Owen, [Oliver] North." This list was compiled by North on April 18, 1986, apparently during a telephone conversation with Alan Fiers, director of the CIA's Central American Task Force, who would later plead guilty to misleading Congress on the Contra affair.
Almost every time Jenkins appears in North's notebooks, he is in the company of Wheaton, the former Pentagon criminal investigator. Wheaton said Jenkins was using the tiny nation of Belize as a training area for Latin Americans and Laotians to fight in Nicaragua against the Sandinistas.
One of Jenkins's first assignments with the CIA was in the 1954 coup in Guatemala. Jenkins and his helicopter company in Guatemala were also customers of Commercial Helicopters in Baton Rouge, Louisiana." (This company got most of its financing from Louisiana mobster and savings-and-loan looter Herman K. Beebe, and one of its principals was a close friend of drug dealer and CIA asset Barry Seal. More on this later.)
On January 11, 1984, the day after North had scheduled a meeting with S. Cass Weiland and Senator Roth regarding Belize, North got another phone call from George Woodworth. He wrote in his notebook that it was about Weiland, who "wants to contact [the next word is illegible] people in Belize camps." The word that is illegible appears to be a four-letter word that begins with "dr" and ends with a "g." However, it doesn't appear to be the word "drug."
About the same time that Jenkins was training anti-Sandinistas in Belize and Corson's future attorney was saying the White House was interested in moving on a project in Belize, a friend of George Bush's, and Ronald Reagan's biggest campaign fundraiser in 1980 - i.e., Walter Mischer - was getting involved in small English-speaking Belize. He started out in 1984 in a shrimp business with his close friend, the late Houston developer Keith Jackson...
Ross, while denying that the company ever did business with his childhood buddy, Barry Seal, or the CIA, volunteered: "We used to lease helicopters from Flying Tiger Airlines." This airline company was established by General Claire Chennault in the 1950s as a cargo company, and became one of the largest private cargo companies in the world. It was not a CIA proprietary, but it did work for the CIA. It took its name from the group of pilots organized by Chennault during World War II to fly supplies to Chiang Kai-shek's nationalist Chinese. This group formed the foundation for the CIA's proprietary airline, Civil Air Transport, a branch of which became the infamous Air America.
Commercial Helicopters also negotiated the sale of helicopters to Saudi Arabia for use as medical ambulances, and provided parts and services to a helicopter company in Guatemala. This company, Helicopteros de Guatemala, was run by Wheaton's buddy Carl Jenkins, the old CIA agent from Louisiana who was living in Guatemala and training Contras in Belize. At the time Commercial Helicopters filed for bankruptcy, it was holding for repair about $150,000 worth of helicopter parts belonging to Jenkins's company.
A letter filed with the bankruptcy court on April 11,1985, from Gary Villiard, the general manager of Commercial Helicopters, states that on May 30, 1984, Jenkins and Ricardo Moratoya from Helicopteros de Guatemala instructed him to transport a helicopter owned by the company from New Orleans to Commercial Helicopters' facilities in Lafayette, and then to ship it to Guatemala along with an engine belonging to them. Villiard said in the letter that he complied.
Jenkins had other connections to the Ed Wilson/Tom Clines/Ted Shackley/Dick Secord group. As previously noted, he was Chi Chi Quintero's CIA case officer during the Bay of Pigs, after which Tom Clines became Quintero's case officer. (Shackley was Clines's boss and headed up the CIA's Miami station after the Bay of Pigs disaster; he was also involved in the CIA's use of the Mafia to try to assassinate Fidel Castro.)
Jenkins also headed a large CIA base in Laos from 1970 to 1973, during which time Shackley, Secord and Clines were all involved in CIA operations in that area. Also working with these individuals in that theater were General John Singlaub and a Marine officer named Oliver North.
On May 16, 1996, Buttimer followed up the telephone call with a letter to Wheaton in which she offered to meet with Wheaton should he find himself in the Washington D.C. area. We have also a copy of another letter from Buttimer to Wheaton in which she refers to a personal meeting with him in July 1996, at which time Wheaton delivered additional reference material to Buttimer. Unfortunately no contact report has been found for this meeting.
There is no further record of any contact by Buttimer or anyone else from the ARRB with Wheaton. In March, 1998 he again faxed the Board and noted that Buttimer seemed to have departed from the Board. He was never contacted again and only received generic Board news releases. The only response to his effort at follow-up is a very general reply from Eileen Sullivan, Press and Public Affairs Officer. In this "form letter" response, she refers to the Board as having received thousands of leads and suggestions and not being able to link any document releases to information provided by a particular individual.
Apart from this generic "thank you," there is no expression of further interest from the Board. And there was no further record of any comment from Gene Wheaton on the subject until Malcolm Blunt located the Wheaton ARRB files and brought them to the attention of this author, who then pursued the matter with the help of William Law. Law contacted and interviewed Wheaton in 2005, where he confirmed what was in the ARRB records.
A good deal of background research has been done on the Wheaton documents and on the names which Wheaton eventually disclosed to the ARRB in the documents submitted to Buttermer. These include the CV which Wheaton eventually identified as that of Carl Elmer Jenkins; a copy of Jenkin's passport circa 1983; and business cards for Carl Jenkins (ECM Corporation - International Security Assistance Specialists, New York, Washington DC, California, PO Box in Falls Church Va., Consultants for Human Development, Falls Church Va., identified as a mail drop and National Air, Liaison Officer). The National Air card has a note on it indicating that Jenkins had connected Wheaton to Raphael "Chi Chi" Quintero, Nestor Sanchez, Nestor Pino, Bill Bode, Rob Owen, and Vaughn Forrest.
Research confirms that beyond a doubt, Carl Jenkins was indeed a senior CIA officer who worked on paramilitary activities in support of the Bay of Pigs project and that by 1963-64 he was indeed directly involved with the AM/WORLD project, with Artime (AM/BIDDY) and Quintero (AM/JAVA-4).
In September, 1963 Jenkins wrote a general memo describing Artime's operational philosophy and concepts. This summarized his views about commando teams, infiltration teams, and guerrilla actions. The memo addresses military operations as Artime conceives them to be organized and conducted under a single organization (AM/WORLD) in which the Cubans can have faith. In a section on Commandos, there is discussion of the use of abductions and assassinations targeted against Cuban G-2 intelligence informants, agents, officers, and foreign Communists to raise the morale of people inside Cuba.'
In December, 1964, Jenkins prepared a summary report of Quintero's visit to Europe for a dialogue with Rolando Cubela in preparation for further meetings with Artime. The goal of this meeting was to develop contacts with a group inside Cuba which was capable of "eliminating Fidel Castro and of seizing and holding Havana, at least for an appreciable time that would be sufficient to justify recognition."'
There seems to be no doubt that Jenkins was indeed involved in a very special project in 1963-64 just as the CV Wheaton provided to the ARRB indicates. It should be noted that these AM/ WORLD activities were completely segmented from JM/WAVE and communications from Jenkins and Hecksher were not run through JM/WAVE. In fact ' the AM/ WORLD group operated its own facility in Miami (cryptonym "LORK")...
There seems some reason to at least speculate that both Quintero (who became second in command to Artime) and Rodriguez (who also joined Artime's offshore autonomous effort in 1963) may have been associated with CIA paramilitary officer Carl Jenkins before the Bay of Pigs. It also seems possible that Rodriguez may have been involved with the assassination project described in the NPIC memo and that the project was overseen by Carl Jenkins-this being the operation described by the NPIC personnel.
It appears that Carl Jenkins' paramilitary activities in support of Cuban operations were exactly as described to Gene Wheaton and exactly as summarized in the Jenkins CV submitted to the ARRB. There is also no doubt that Jenkins was very closely associated with Quintero in this period, as described by Wheaton. There are two books in print that also confirm these descriptions of Jenkins.
In The Death Merchant: The Rise and Fall of Edwin P. Wilson, author Joseph Goulden presents information from the CIA officer whom Quintero went to when he became suspicious of an assassination assignment being promoted to Quintero and other exiles by Ed Wilson. The officer (given the pseudonym "Brad Rockford") talks about entering the CIA on detached duty from the Marines, being career paramilitary, and running CIA paramilitaries out of JM/WAVE. It seems clear that Rockford was in fact Carl Jenkins.
In his book Manhunt: The Incredible Pursuit of a CIA Agent Turned Terrorist, Peter Maas mentions Carl Jenkins by name as the case officer for Quintero prior to the Bay of Pigs. Quintero was part of an advance team sent in before the invasion by Jenkins. After the landing failed, he hid out in Cuba for six weeks before making his way back to Florida. Afterwards Clines would assume a case officer role for Quintero, who would go on make to a number of sabotage and assassination missions into Cuba."
It seems worth pointing out that Jenkins' name has never been mentioned in any of the numerous works on the Bay of Pigs, the Miami station, or the secret war against Castro. Prior to this investigation of Wheaton's ARRB communications, Carl Jenkins had a far lower profile than even David Morales.
Interestingly, Gene Wheaton recommended that William Law read these books in a 2005 interview. Wheaton suggested that they would describe the individuals he had been associating with or had source information on from what has become known as Iran-Contra.
Additionally, it is of interest that Ted Shackley and Tom Clines (who was to succeed Jenkins as Quintero's case officer) would be familiar names from both JM/WAVE and the Wilson affair. It is also of interest that David Morales's long time friend Ruben independently mentioned that Morales had introduced him to Shackley, Clines and Wilson on a trip to Virginia-and later, to Artime...
Carl Jerkins was a senior CIA officer with exactly the background described by Wheaton to the ARRB. Rafael Quintero was a well respected, covert operations activist associated with anti-Castro and anti-Communist activities over several decades. He was taken seriously at the highest levels of the Kennedy administration. Indeed, DDP Richard Helms himself once commented on an Operational Plan drafted by Quintero to Thomas Parrott, Executive Assistant to the Military Representative of the President in June of 1962."
Quintero had presented the plan to Attorney General Robert Kennedy and General Maxwell Taylor. Beyond that, Quintero was one of only a handful of exiles to be brought into both the AM/ WORLD and AM/LASH (Cubela) projects, initiated by Fitzgerald and eventually turned over the Artime autonomous group project. Quintero was well enough respected to be brought into the secret "extra-governmental" Contra effort, and was eventually solicited by Edward Wilson for an assassination project. In both cases Quintero eventually determined that improper activities were going on and informed on them, in the case of Wilson through his old friend Carl Jenkins.
Gene Wheaton claims that he heard discussions of the conspiracy that killed John Kennedy in Dallas during the time when he was in close personal touch with both Jenkins and Quintero. He never raised this issue when he himself attempted to blow the whistle on various aspects of the Contra supply project. He only raised it confidentially to the ARRB-and was quite surprised to find that his correspondence had been released to public view.
However when interviewed in 2005, he continued to stand by his story that he heard from people involved in the "secret war," who knew that Cuban exiles were incited to execute President Kennedy. These individuals had their own agendas. The exile shooters considered themselves above all as patriots. They had been trained to assassinate Fidel Castro, but in the end they turned their guns on John Kennedy.
In the area of paramilitary operations, Rip Robertson joined the former PB/SUCCESS alumni. However the officer in charge of paramilitary operations may have been an individual not found in the official (or the CIA histories) of the Cuba project, one Carl Jenkins. According to papers submitted to the ARRB, Jenkins reportedly had served in the Marine Corp in WWII, and in the early 1950's became a CIA paramilitary, survival, evasion and escape trainer for the CIA. From 1955-1958 he served as an instructor for paramilitary tactics and resistance and trained cadre for both the Thai Border Police and the Chinese Nationalist Special Forces. He was also training and operations officer for maritime infiltration and worked in Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines.
Jenkins came into the Cuba project in 1960 and served with it until the Bay of Pigs; he performed selection and training of paramilitary cadre, selected officers, and managed small teams and individual agents in maritime infiltration of Cuba.
In general terms, it appears that while Morales dealt with the development and deployment of security and intelligence forces in conjunction with the landing, Jenkins selected and prepared paramilitary cadre for small, individual missions in advance and support of the invasion force. There are also documents which connect him to at least one Castro assassination project, involving a small team using rifles. After the Bay of Pigs, Jenkins became Special Warfare Advisor to I Corps in Danang, South Vietnam prior to returning for further service with Cuban exiles in 1963...
1963 saw the inauguration of a new and highly confidential project. The CIA cryptonym for its activities in the project was AM/WORLD. In general terms the project involved a new attempt to establish an autonomous Cuban leadership which could assemble the military force and political clout to produce a coup inside Cuba and create the conditions for the United States to come to the aid of a new, non-communist Cuban leadership. Manuel Artime (AM/BIDDY-1) was a key figure in this project and a small task group was organized to support AM/WORLD; it operated out of compartmentalized facilities in the Miami Station (LORKE) and conducted activities in venues ranging from New York to Mexico City to Spain. Henry Hecksher was attached to AM/WORLD as Artime's case officer (among other responsibilities). Carl Jenkins was brought back to oversee paramilitary support and serve as case officer to Artime's second in command, Rolando Quintero (AMJAVA-4).
Jenkins and Hecksher were also involved in the Artime's initial travel to Europe for contact with Rolando Cubela (AM/LASH). These AM/WORLD activities began in mid-1963 and continued through 1964. Very few CIA station personnel were allowed knowledge of the AM/WORLD project; in Mexico City the only officer authorized for AM/WORLD was David Phillips.
Morales and Jenkins had been the first of the JM/WAVE alumni to move to the Latin American fight against Communist expansion. By the early 1970's the list would include Tom Clines at the Chile desk in CIA HQ, while David Phillips had moved to Washington to become Chief of the Cuban Operations Group Western Hemisphere covering all of Latin and South America. He would remain in this position during the CIA's effort to remove Chilean President Allende, eventually being named by the Church Committee as the CIA officer in charge of Track 2 of the Allende project-the track involving CIA efforts to produce a military coup.
I had met Carl Jenkins at a party thrown by a magazine editor. I met both Carl and his wife. I knew him as a retired Military ops. Guy and his wife as a current psychologist at the company. Being from Minnesota I got along with her because of her Wisconsin birth and upbringing. I was surprised at Carl’s acceptance of my working at the Project of Military Procurement and working with the Military Reform Movement. While most conservatives were not crazy about anyone attacking the Pentagon, not only did it not bother Carl he was very encouraging. After meeting Jenkins I found out that he knew a friend of mine retired Lt. Col. Carl Bernard from service in Laos and possibly further back in Indonesia.
As it turned out I lived close to Carl and spent time visiting at night at a safe house he ran close to his town house. Like many of us conservatives he was not crazy about George Bush for President. I remember one night at Otoole’s Bar ( Agency hang out in Langley) Carl showing me a picture on the wall where George Bush and Agency people had held the first meeting for his presidential bid. Sometime later the picture disappeared before the bar closed (Jenkins was not in the picture).
Along with his dislike of Bush for President he was upset that the White House NSC was being used as an active intelligence operation rather than a clearing house from other intelligence agencies for the President. In particular Lt. Col. Oliver North’s activities bothered him. To such a point that in June of 1986 I set up a meeting for him with the then Commandant of the Marine Corp. I had met the S2 of the Headquarters Marine Corp socially and he arranged the meeting in which Carl (being an ex-Marine) had tried to get Lt. Col. North transferred out of the White House. His argument was that if he stayed in his current position he would be an embarrassment to the Corp. Having been a Marine for a short time myself I understood the pride Marines had for the honor of the Corp. I believe that the Marine Corp did try to transfer North but it was thwarted. As I recall the meeting took place on a Thursday and 2 days later I suffered a major heart attack. Two ambulances from the same county showed up and had a fight over me and the second one to arrive won and took me to a hospital that was not mine and there they saved my life. Unfortunately I lost half of my heart function. I am alive today because of a heart transplant in 2005. Of the number of people involved in Iran Contra that had heart attacks I believe that I was the only one that lived.
I will try and add to the story as I have time and would address any questions that Forum members might have. A couple of heart surgeries screw up your memory a little bit. It seems that I am affected most when it comes to remembering names.
The last I heard was that Carl Jenkins was in Panama. That he had remarried a school teacher there. I guess that he and Elisabeth got a divorce after the Sheehan document. When Sheehan submitted his document, I understand that Elisabeth Jenkins resigned from the company and went to work for the State Dept. checking on the Embassy guards in Africa and Central Asia. I believe after it all blew over she returned to Langley and resumed her old position checking out potential new employees. She was a fascinating woman. Brilliant and beautiful. Almost out of a spy novel. As a teenage girl had read spy novels and decided that’s what she would do as an adult. Had a well earned hatred of Bobby Kennedy. During the Bay of Pigs she was 8 months pregnant and at the National Reconnaissance Office as a translator. One morning at about 2:00am she was walking done the hall when Kennedy came around the corner in a hurry and knocked her on her back. At which point the started to curse her out and called her a fat cow for getting in his way. I doubt that she mourned when he was killed. She was in Laos when Carl was there and that is where they got together. I believe at that time she interviewed our guys when they returned from trips over the fence into North Vietnam. Knowing some people that where there said she was the prettiest round eye in Laos.
From what Carl told me he was in Mexico training the Cubans for the Bay of Pigs. And has he hated the Kennedy’s also. The operation was designed for 5,000 Cubans to go ashore. But the White House cut it of at 1,500. Carl was especially hot when the Kennedys started sending down Mafia types in place of Cubans. Old man Kennedy’s mob friends where interested in their old holdings when Castro feel. The real hatred of the John Kennedy came from what he did during the actual invasion. Besides the rag tag Air Force of the Cuban invasion force the US Navy was to supply air cover. I am told that as the rebels were being slaughtered on the beach Kennedy personally called off the Navy. There is supposed to be a tape of that and I have friends that say they have heard it. I have never been able to get a copy of it our to here it.
At 95 years of age, Carl Elmer Jenkins is one profane Marine. His mordant memories of serving as a CIA paramilitary trainer in the combat zones of Vietnam, Indonesia, Laos and Cuba are salted with F-bombs and S-words about the A-holes he worked for. "What do you really think, sir?" is not a question a visiting reporter needs to ask Carl Jenkins.
I first caught up with Jenkins in April 2021, having been drawn in by his legendary reputation. Over the next year, I wound up spending several days with him, spellbound by his stories. We sat at his dining room table, occasionally taking a break to stand on his patio. He trudged about the house with a cane, complained good-naturedly about the trials of old age, and did not hesitate to answer questions about his role in an infamous CIA plot to assassinate Cuban ruler Fidel Castro that fell apart five decades ago.
Jenkins grew up in a shack without indoor plumbing near Shreveport, Louisiana. After signing up for the Marines at age 17, he served in the Pacific during World War II, rising from private to staff sergeant. Upon his return, he went back to school and graduated from Centenary College. In 1950, he finished first among 372 officers in a Marine Corps training program at Quantico, Virginia. He joined the CIA in 1952 as a survival, evasion, resistance and escape instructor.
Among his first assignments was training small teams for maritime infiltration of Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines. Then, he served as chief of a CIA base in Guatemala, where he trained the leaders of Brigade 2506, the U.S.-backed invasion force that was defeated at the Bay of Pigs in Cuba in April 1961. In his bedroom, Jenkins has a plaque from the brigade commending him "for outstanding services beyond the call of duty."
In Vietnam, Jenkins served in Danang, organizing U.S. Special Forces to carry out sabotage attacks on the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Later, he served as a top counterinsurgency adviser to governments in the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua. In 1971, he became chief of a CIA base in southern Laos, where he guided and trained 10,000-plus regular and guerrilla forces, while calling in the occasional B-52 Stratofortress strike. In retirement, he debriefed Cuban militants for the CIA and served as an unpaid consultant to President Ronald Reagan's State Department during the Iran-Contra affair.
"I was one of the handful of people in the agency that was trained and experienced in paramilitary operations," he told me. "I could indeed bring down a government. Or I could protect the government by getting rid of the insurgents. Either way. And the word goes around. 'Hey, if you need a dirty job done, call Jenkins.' And they did. And I went."
Jenkins still swaggers in his war stories. He recalled how he and his first wife ran a U.S. military guesthouse in Danang while his Vietnamese girlfriend ran a bar across the street. "You never knew who was a communist in that city," he sighed.
But he is no braggart, occasionally waxing doleful about his career in covert action. "I've had maybe three major successes," he muttered, "and a hell of a lot of failures."
I showed Jenkins a file of declassified cables about the AMLASH affair, a notorious CIA plot to kill Castro in the early 1960s. Jenkins' name appeared in dozens of documents. As far as I knew, he was the last living American who participated in a covert operation whose disclosure led to fundamental changes at the CIA.
The revelation of the AMLASH plot in a 1976 report of Senate investigators proved to be a pivotal moment in the CIA's history. Coming directly after the Watergate scandal, the disclosure that the agency had plotted to kill Castro -- on the very day that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas -- was a sensational news story, triggering public outrage, conspiratorial suspicions, and multiple investigations.
The CIA saw its secrets laid bare, its budget slashed, its reputation tarnished, and, as a result, congressional oversight of the agency was imposed. While Castro gloated, the agency's public image took a hit that the men and women of Langley have always preferred to downplay, if not bury.
When I showed Jenkins the declassified file, first made public in 2018, he opened up with a colorful choice of words.
"Eisenhower did not want the Bay of Pigs and neither did I," he scoffed, referencing the CIA's ill-fated invasion plan in 1961. "I was chief of base on that f---ing operation." President John F. Kennedy was "a loser," he said, adding his brother Attorney General Robert Kennedy was worse. "Everything he touched, turned to s---."
With the paper trail in front of him, Jenkins recalled the plot to kill Castro in fine detail, laying to rest any lingering historical controversy about who actually orchestrated the unsuccessful conspiracy to end the life of the Cuban communist leader who later died of natural causes in 2016 a few months after his 90th birthday.
Richard Helms, the gentlemanly CIA director with a reputation for keeping the darkest of secrets, insisted in his memoir and on Capitol Hill that the AMLASH operation was playing at tilting domestic politics in Cuba by fomenting political opposition.
"It was not an assassination operation," Helms testified under oath to Congress. "It was not designed for that purpose. I think I do know what I'm talking about here."
Historians have tended to take Helms' denials at face value.
"When people wanted to invade Cuba or kill Castro, his attitude was, 'Oh, God,'" Helms' biographer Thomas Powers told Chris Whipple, author of "The Spymasters: How the CIA Directors Shape History and the Future," a much-lauded 2020 profile of CIA directors.
"He just was so against it all," said wife Cynthia Helms of the plots to kill Castro. "He said to me one day, 'I was never going to do it. We were never going to do it.' But they made his life miserable over it."
Was AMLASH an assassination operation? I asked Jenkins.
"Of course," snorted the retired Marine.
The AMLASH saga began late one night in October 1956 in the Montmartre, Havana's swankiest nightclub. Two young men in the crowd pulled out pistols and shot dead Col. Antonio Blanco Rico, the chief of the Cuban military intelligence service, outside the club's elevators.
One of the gunmen was Rolando Cubela, a medical student at the University of Havana who had taken up arms against the dictatorship of President Fulgencio Batista. After Castro and allied forces ousted Batista in 1959, Cubela assumed a series of senior positions in the new government. As a Catholic and nationalist, Cubela loathed Castro's hard left turn toward one-party socialism.
The CIA men, who knew of Cubela's armed exploits, targeted him for recruitment under the code name AMLASH. (All Cuba operations were identified by the AM diagraph, followed by a chosen noun; Castro was known as AMTHUG).
Helms sent an up-and-coming CIA officer, Nestor Sanchez, to Brazil to take over the handling of Cubela, who continued to have personal access to Castro. Sanchez was handing a poison pen to Cubela in a CIA safehouse in Paris on Nov. 22, 1963, when Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. Sanchez, who would go on to hold senior positions in the CIA and Pentagon, was "a good friend," Jenkins said.
When Jenkins returned from Vietnam to the Cuba program in early 1964, he was cleared into the AMLASH operation. Sanchez, he explained, was replaced as Cubela's contact by Manuel "Manolo" Artime, a foe of Castro's with a knack for charming U.S. officials. "Manolo was a perpetual juvenile … a guy who loved everybody and just assumed that everybody loved him," Jenkins said.
In our interview, Jenkins reviewed five memos that he wrote about the AMLASH project in 1964, recalling that he had dictated them but never seen the paper copies. Another declassified memo showed that the CIA's National Photographic Interpretation Center supported Jenkins on a "plan to assassinate Castro at the DuPont Varadero Beach Estate, east of Havana. Castro was known to frequent the estate and the plan was to use a high-powered rifle in the attempt."
Jenkins said he voiced doubts about whether Cubela could be trusted. Having trained two former Castro bodyguards for Brigade 2506, "I knew pretty well what his habits were ... what his intimate daily routine was like," Jenkins said. He recalled asking Artime, "Who is this guy and what is he up to? You know, just exactly what are we dealing with here? Is this real or is this a trap of some sort?"
Jenkins' caution was ignored and, when Artime and Cubela met in Madrid in December 1964, Cubela reiterated his demand for a weapon to kill Castro, specifically a Belgian-made FAL rifle.
"The FAL was the NATO rifle," Jenkins explained. "It was easy to get ammunition for it. That was something I could do."
Thanks to Jenkins' arrangements, Artime delivered the weapon to Cubela in Cuba. When Cubela was arrested in March 1966 and charged with plotting to kill Castro, the FAL rifle was found in his possession. Cubela was sentenced to a 25-year jail term, of which he served only half.
Some have speculated that Cubela was a double agent for Castro all along. Castro denied that, and so did Helms. It was just about the only thing the revolutionary and the spymaster ever publicly agreed upon.
"I don't accept the fact that he was working for anybody except Cubela," Jenkins told me.
In any case, Jenkins' first-person account of supplying the murder weapon, corroborated by CIA files, extinguishes Helms' claim that AMLASH was not an assassination conspiracy.
"Just another busted operation," the ex-Marine shrugged. As for Helms, "he was an a--hole as far as I'm concerned," he growled.