A New Cuban Connection to JFK's Murder
Days after the John F. Kennedy assassination, top White House aides read an eyes-only report that Cuba was behind the shocking Dallas murder. Castro had warned he'd retaliate if the Kennedy administration kept trying to kill him, and they continued. New president Lyndon Johnson ordered the secret report buried. If made public, the U.S. would have to attack Soviet-backed Cuba and thus start World War III.
It's been 53 years since that terrible day in Dallas, and the "Cuban Connection" has resurfaced in newly revealed secret diaries of a deceased Cold War spy and assassin. Douglas Bazata was a decorated OSS special forces "Jedburgh" in World War II and a celebrated freelance spy who, after the war, worked for the CIA, among other intelligence agencies. His now decoded secret diaries tell for the first time the extraordinary story of his close friend, Rene A. Dussaq, a fellow "Jed" and larger-than-life clandestine, who, he says hatched the assassination plan and led it as a shooter in Dallas. The fascinating story and evidence, pro and con, is in my new book, Target: JFK The Spy Who Killed Kennedy?, a mystery story that could be the key to that famous murder.
Dussaq, Argentine-born and naturalized as an American in 1942, was the son of a Cuban diplomat. While being educated in Switzerland, he spent summers in Cuba and considered himself Cuban. Per the diaries, he hatched the assassination plan to free Cuba from U.S. domination – exploitation vividly illustrated in the movie The Godfather, when gangsters cut a cake shaped as Cuba. Suave and fearless, Dussaq was an Olympic athlete, Cuban revolutionary, Hollywood stuntman, and deep sea diver and treasure hunter. During WWII, he became the legendary "Captain Bazooka" in France, who helped the Maquis defeat the Nazis. Almost singlehandedly, he captured a garrison of over 500 Germans.
Few in America have ever heard of Dussaq, although some of his exploits have been chronicled. He kept a low profile as a successful post-WWII Los Angeles insurance agent while secretly working undercover for the FBI against Hollywood communists in the 1950s. It also appears that he was a double, and perhaps triple, agent working ostensibly for the CIA, but also for Cuba, if not others. Characteristically, the CIA will neither confirm nor deny that. Bazata, too, after the war, worked for the CIA and was a good friend of William Colby, who headed the CIA from 1973 to 1976. Because of who Bazata was and his level of access, his secret diaries must be taken seriously.
Dussaq and Bazata met in Cuba in the 1930s. Bazata was a young marine assigned to assassinate a Cuban revolutionary. The mission went awry, but Dussaq saved his life; therefore, Bazata was in his debt. He also admired Dussaq for his intelligence and fearlessness. As Jedburghs, both men jumped into occupied France, where their bond deepened. After the war, writes Bazata, Dussaq grew angry at U.S. exploitation of Cuba, and once JFK became president, Kennedy's administration's Bay of Pigs invasion and continual attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro gave justification in Dussaq's mind for implementing "Hydra-K," the JFK kill-plot detailed in the diaries.
The diaries say that Dussaq "picked" Fidel Castro from among other young possibilities to lead Cuba against outside manipulators. The relationship between the two is vague and mysterious in the diaries, but Dussaq joins Castro on his infamous "Granma" expedition from Mexico to invade Cuba. Although that 1956 venture was a failure, it installed Castro in the Cuban mountains from where he eventually prevailed. During this time and afterward, Bazata, who headed a freelance clandestine organization in Europe, writes that he helped Dussaq with money, material, and key personnel. Meanwhile, Hydra-K took shape.
The plot was fluid. Dallas was chosen as the site because, in Dussaq's eyes, it was near Mexico (which gave easy access), was a hotbed of anti-JFK sentiment, and had law enforcement that could be bribed. Rehearsals were held in remote areas of Europe. There were five shooters with "handlers" involved, including rogue CIA, world-class assassins, and the U.S. Mafia. The killing shots came from the front, not the rear. Dussaq did not want Oswald involved, but he was forced by unnamed higher-ups to accept him. He devised a plan where Oswald would be a patsy, as Oswald claimed, but the patsy plan had wrinkles that were never previously voiced.
Should the diaries be believed? Not only was Bazata in the thick of Cold War clandestine activity when the assassination occurred – and thus is credible – but another infamous Cold War spy and assassin, Lucien Conein, backs him up. Conein, now dead, was as close to James Bond as an American spy can get. It was Conein, a CIA operative, who oversaw getting rid of Ngo Dinh Diem, the South Vietnamese leader assassinated a month before JFK. Authentic documents I received from Bazata and the National Archives indicate that he and Conein discussed Hydra-K before the assassination.
Previously withheld intelligence documents about the assassination are scheduled to be declassified in 2017. It's probable that the eyes-only documents naming Castro as the force behind the assassination will be among them. If not, an account about them and their shocking content can be found in Inner Circles, by Alexander M. Haig, Jr., the former secretary of state under Ronald Reagan.
The tragic death of John F. Kennedy has never been conclusively solved. Most Americans don't believe the Warren Commission's conclusion that there was only a lone shooter, Oswald, and no conspiracy. I'd be derelict in my duty as a journalist and an American not to tell this story. It could be the key to the assassination mystery.