Operation Northwoods

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Operation Northwoods was a set of proposals produced by the United States military Joint Chiefs of Staff to create a pretext for invading Cuba in the 1960s.

Proposals by the Joint Chiefs

The National Security Archive at George Washington University offers this description of the book Body of Secrets and a primary document on Operation Northwoods:

In his new exposé of the National Security Agency entitled Body of Secrets, author James Bamford highlights a set of proposals on Cuba by the Joint Chiefs of Staff codenamed Operation Northwoods. This document, titled Justification for U.S. Military Intervention in Cuba was provided by the JCS to Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara on March 13, 1962, as the key component of Northwoods. Written in response to a request from the Chief of the Cuba Project, Col. Edward Lansdale and approved by JCS Chairman Lyman L. Lemnitzer, the Top Secret memorandum describes U.S. plans to covertly engineer various pretexts that would justify a U.S. invasion of Cuba. These proposals included staging the assassinations of Cubans living in the United States, developing a fake 'Communist Cuban terror campaign in the Miami area, in other Florida cities and even in Washington,' including 'sink[ing] a boatload of Cuban refugees (real or simulated),' faking a Cuban airforce attack on a civilian jetliner, and concocting a Remember the Maine incident by blowing up a U.S. ship in Cuban waters and then blaming the incident on Cuban sabotage. Bamford himself writes that Operation Northwoods 'may be the most corrupt plan ever created by the U.S. government.'"[1]

Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch articles


  1. "Pentagon Proposed Pretexts for Cuba Invasion in 1962," National Security Archive write-up on the "Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, Justification for US Military Intervention in Cuba [includes cover memoranda], March 13, 1962, TOP SECRET, 15 pp."

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