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An article printed in the Baltimore Sun by Scott Shane on April 24, 2001 suggests that in the past the US government has thought of creating a terrorist attack on US citizens or millitary personel in order to create a patriotic upsurge.

The article details a book about the NSA and its 1962 plans to commit a terorist attack against Americans and then blame Cuba to create a pretext for an invasion of Cuba.

"We could develop a Communist Cuban terror campaign in the Miami area, in other Florida cities and even in Washington," said one document reportedly prepared by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. "We could blow up a U.S. ship in Guantanamo Bay and blame Cuba," the document says. "Casualty lists in U.S. newspapers would cause a helpful wave of indignation."

The plan was laid out in documents signed by the five Joint Chiefs but never carried out, according to writer James Bamford in "Body of Secrets" published by Doubleday."

Bamford, was an investigative reporter for ABC News. He wrote "The Puzzle Palace" about the NSA in 1982 and has said the new book is based mostly on documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act or found in government archives. "NSA never handed me any documents," he said. "It was a question of digging."

He said he was most surprised by the anti-Cuba terror plan, code-named Operation Northwoods. It "may be the most corrupt plan ever created by the U.S. government," he writes.

"We could sink a boatload of Cubans en route to Florida (real or simulated). ... We could foster attempts on lives of Cubans in the United States, even to the extent of wounding in instances to be widely publicized," the document says. Another idea was to shoot down a CIA plane designed to replicate a passenger flight and announce that Cuban forces shot it down.

Army Gen. Lyman L. Lemnitzer, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, presented the Operation Northwoods plan to Kennedy early in 1962, but the president rejected it that March because he wanted no overt U.S. military action against Cuba. Lemnitzer then sought unsuccessfully to destroy all evidence of the plan, according to Bamford.

Lemnitzer and those who served with him in 1962 as chiefs of the nation's military branches are dead. But two former top Kennedy administration officials said yesterday that they were unaware of Operation Northwoods and questioned whether such a plan was ever drafted.

"I've never heard of Operation Northwoods. Never heard of it and don't believe it," said Theodore Sorenson, Kennedy's White House special counsel. "Obviously, it would be totally illegal as well as totally unwise."

Robert S. McNamara, Kennedy's defense secretary, said: "I never heard of it. I can't believe the chiefs were talking about or engaged in what I would call CIA-type operations."

"There may be a piece of paper" on Northwoods, said McNamara. "I just cannot conceive of Nitze approving anything like that or doing it without talking to me."

The book contains many other revelations in its detailed account of NSA, the biggest U.S. intelligence agency and Maryland's largest employer, with more than 25,000 personnel at Fort Meade, site of its global eavesdropping efforts.

Among them:

In recent years, NSA has regularly listened to Osama bin Laden's unencrypted telephone calls. Agency officials have sometimes played tapes of bin Laden talking to his mother to impress members of Congress and select visitors to the agency.

In the late 1990s, NSA tracked efforts by Chinese and French companies to sell missile technology to Iran, particularly the C-802 anti-ship missile. The eavesdropping led to U.S. protests to the Chinese and French governments.

When U.S. troops evacuated Vietnam in 1975, "an entire warehouse overflowing with NSA's most important cryptographic machines and other supersensitive code and cipher materials" was left behind.
It was the largest compromise of such equipment in U.S. history, Bamford writes, but the agency still has not acknowledged it.

When Israeli fighter jets attacked the NSA eavesdropping ship USS Liberty in the Mediterranean in 1967, killing 34 Americans and wounding 171, an NSA aircraft was listening in and heard Israeli pilots referring to the American flag on the ship. U.S. officials, including President Lyndon Baines Johnson, decided to forget the matter, Bamford writes, because they did not want to embarrass Israel. To this day, Israeli officials say their forces mistakenly attacked the U.S. ship.

Bamford says the reason for the strike was Israel's desperate effort to cover up its attacks on the Egyptian town of El Arish in the Sinai. The Liberty was sitting offshore and the Israelis feared that the ship would detect the operation, which included the shooting of prisoners.
Yesterday, an NSA spokesperson questioned a point made in the book about the USS Liberty.

"We do not comment on operational matters, alleged or otherwise; however, Mr. Bamford's claim that the NSA leadership was `virtually unanimous in their belief that the attack was deliberate' is simply not true," the spokesperson said.

When he wrote "The Puzzle Palace" in 1982, Bamford was attacked by some NSA officials, who said his revelations gave the Soviet Union and other U.S. adversaries too much information on the secret agency. One former director referred to him as "an unconvicted felon."

many quotes and other sections taken from the Baltimore Sun's article...

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