President Richard Nixon wanted to pressure the CIA to limit the FBI’s investigation into Watergate, and his rationale to CIA director Richard Helms was that one of the Watergate conspirators, E. Howard Hunt, who had worked for the CIA, might go on blabbing about the Bay of Pigs, which was a failed attempt under the Kennedy Administration to overthrow Cuban leader Fidel Castro. H.R. Haldeman, a close aide to President Nixon, would write in his book The Ends of Power (which he co-wrote with Joseph DiMona) that “Bay of Pigs” could have been a code-word for the Kennedy assassination.
What did the Bay of Pigs have to do with the Kennedy assassination? Don Fulsom, in his book Nixon’s Darkest Secrets: The Inside Story of America’s Most Troubled President, states that the connection was probably that “the cast of characters employed in the 1960 plan to invade Cuba at the Bay of Pigs and kill Fidel Castro and the cast of characters employed in the plan to assassinate Kennedy in 1963 were the same” (page 130). You may have seen Oliver Stone’s JFK, which posits that prominent elements of the U.S. government and anti-Castro Cubans were involved in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. According to this narrative, the anti-Castro Cubans were upset the Kennedy left them hanging in their attempts to overthrow Castro, whereas certain forces within the U.S. government did not particularly care for Kennedy’s (alleged) desire to scale back on America’s involvement in the Vietnam War, to reach an understanding with the Soviet Union, and to shatter the power of the CIA. Meanwhile, there were American business interests that profited off of war, and that also did not care for losing their investments in Cuba after Fidel Castro came to power. Oliver Stone was also open to the possibility that the mob was involved in the JFK assassination, albeit at a “lower level”. Some believe that one reason that Nixon appealed to the Bay of Pigs in encouraging the CIA to limit the FBI’s Watergate investigation was that Nixon was essentially telling the CIA that, unless it acted, the way that its Bay of Pigs operation led to the Kennedy assassination could be exposed.
Oliver Stone in the movie Nixon may have the same idea as Fulsom: that Nixon meant the Kennedy assassination when he mentioned the Bay of Pigs because some of the anti-Castro Cubans and intelligence agents involved in the Bay of Pigs participated in the plot to kill President John F. Kennedy. Both Fulsom and Anthony Summers argue that Nixon, during the Presidency of Dwight Eisenhower, was involved in plots to overthrow Fidel Castro. After I first watched the movie Nixon, I read reviews that said that Stone was alleging that Nixon felt somehow responsible for the death of John F. Kennedy, since Nixon was an integral part of the plots against Castro, the plots that some believe boomeranged into the Kennedy assassination. Fulsom actually goes a bit farther than this. On page 151 of Nixon’s Darkest Secrets, Fulsom states: “Was Richard Nixon really in Dallas on November 22 for a PepsiCo convention, as he said, or could his presence have been some sort of signal to his friends in the Mob and the CIA and among the Cuban exiles—-the eventual chief suspects of JFK assassination conspiracy theorists? Chicago Mob boss Sam Giancana proudly told relatives that, as the mastermind of the JFK assassination plot, he and Nixon had a preassassination meeting there to discuss the plot.” Fulsom refers in the footnotes to a book by Chuck and Sam Giancana. Can we trust Sam on this, or was Sam merely saying it as a way to sell more books?
But back to Haldeman’s claim in The Ends of Power that Nixon meant the Kennedy assassination when he referred to the Bay of Pigs. Anthony Summers, in a note in The Arrogance of Power, interacts with Haldeman’s later retraction of that claim. Haldeman would blame that claim on his co-author, Joseph DiMona. But Summers does not buy Haldeman’s retraction because of indications that Haldeman was intimately involved in the composition and editing of his book (The Ends of Power), and Haldeman was quite particular about what went into his book and what came out. Summers also notes that Haldeman told him (meaning Summers) in 1989, when Summers was working on a book about J. Edgar Hoover, that he (Haldeman) was merely speculating that Nixon’s reference to the Bay of Pigs related to the Kennedy assassination. Haldeman had not yet retracted the claim.
What interested me in reading Summers is that what Haldeman said in The Ends of Power (according to Summers) differs significantly from the narrative that some of the anti-Castro forces involved in the Bay of Pigs later participated in the Kennedy assassination. Summers states on page 199 of The Arrogance of Power: “If the Cuban leader decided to retaliate, Haldeman surmised, then the U.S. plots to kill him ‘may have triggered the Kennedy tragedy.’ The CIA, he suggested, ‘desperately wanted to hide that dark possibility.'” What this seems to suggest is that, according to Haldeman, the Bay of Pigs could have been associated with the Kennedy assassination because the Bay of Pigs made Cuban leader Fidel Castro mad, and so Castro may have retaliated by contributing to the assassination of Kennedy. In this scenario, it is not anti-Castro forces that were responsible for Kennedy’s death, but Castro.
This is actually a fairly popular idea. I remember watching the Trial of Lee Harvey Oswald, and (if I’m not mistaken), Ramsey Clark, who had served as President Lyndon Johnson’s Attorney General, stated that Johnson expressed to him a belief that Castro was somehow behind the Kennedy assassination. In the movie JFK, a bullying government agent tells one of Jim Garrison’s assistants that Oswald didn’t pull the trigger, but Castro did (which is not to be taken literally, but simply expresses the belief that Castro was behind the shooting of Kennedy). And, in a documentary about the Kennedy assassination, Jack Anderson (whom Fulsom praises in his book) posits that a combination of the mob and Fidel Castro participated in the plot to assassinate JFK. I wouldn’t be surprised if the mafia played both sides (pro and anti) when it came to Fidel Castro. Remember David Ferrie’s rant in JFK, in which he said that Castro was almost on “our” side, and everyone is always switching sides?