Lyman L. Lemnitzer

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Born in Honesdale, Pennsylvania, August 29, 1899.

Died November 12, 1988.

General Lemnitzer was an Eisenhower appointee and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Kennedy administration. A leading proponent of pre-emptive action against Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis, Lemnitzer believed that the United States had to destroy Cuba and the Soviet Union before it lost its strategic advantage in the missile gap that secretly was tilted heavily in favor of America, though the media was being fed the opposite message.

From released KGB documents and meetings between Robert McNamara and Castro during the 1990s, it is now known that Lemnitzer was wrong and warheads were actually in place during the crisis. A preemptive strike would have resulted in mass US casualties. Kennedy's gut instinct was correct. However, Lemnitzer secretly harbored a deep resentment of Kennedy after the crisis ended, believing the president had missed a golden opportunity to permanently rid the world of the communist-atheists.

When the CIA's Operation Mongoose was canceled due to repeated failures, The Cuba Project was created within the Pentagon to continue these types of activities. Lemnitzer relished the opportunity to show up the "company" who he believed was treading on the military's solomn black ops ground, and ineffectively at that. This led him to approve Operation Northwoods, the plans to attack US targets and blame it on Castro to create a pretext for a complete US invasion of Cuba, and potentially a definitive (at least in Lemnitzer's eyes) WWIII scenario with the Russians. Revealingly, his chairmanship was not renewed and he was sent off to command U.S. forces in Europe.

Prior to the Kennedy assassination, Lemnitzer had been implicated in an investigation into extreme right-wing and anti-communist/pro-Israel hardliner connections in the Defense Department which had already forced the resignation of several Pentagon officials, including one who'd been caught handing out John Birch Society literature while on assignment overseas. The conclusions called for further extensive investigation of Lemnitzer to determine just how far his connections ran, but these were never carried out. This has led some to suspect a DoD, rather than CIA, involvement in the death of JFK. Ironically (or not), in 1975 the retired General Lemnitzer was appointed by Gerald R. Ford to the Commission on CIA Activities within the United States.