A false flag operation is a conscious deed done by a person or an organization who pins the responsibility on another person or organization as a pretext to carry out the agenda of the original organization or individual who committed the act, usually by force. The term originated in naval warfare before the age of radar, where ships would hoist friendly flags to attract other ships closer, but once they were near, the enemy ship would hoist her real flag and commence an attack.
Such is the case of Operation Northwoods. After the Soviet Union took a great interest in the island nation of Cuba, the United States decided that enough was enough. Operation Northwoods was a planned attack on the citizens of the United States of America by government officials. However, it was a false flag attack, to be guided as a terror attack by the communists as a pretext to invade Cuba and liberate it for communism.
The Origins of Northwoods
By 1959, Cold War tensions had risen to a new height. Both the US and the Soviet Union were trading insults at each other, and it was in this scene that Fidel Castro made his infamous appearance.
On January 1st, 1959, the communist revolutionary Castro, backed by the Soviet Union, overthrew the American-backed president and declared Cuba a communist state. This made Cuba the first communist state in the Western Hemisphere. For the common American, however, this spelled doom. They had been accustomed to hearing about the distant threat of the USSR, a faraway country. But suddenly, a communist country was merely 90 miles from Florida.
“One should not forget,” Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev reminded in1960, on his visit to Cuba, “that now the United States is no longer at an unreachable distance from the Soviet Union as it was before.”
Something had to be done. Communism had to be contained. Operation Northwoods was formulated by the Department of Defense and the Joint Chief of Staff and was presented to John F Kennedy, the then president of the United States of America. The Joint Chiefs requested the Department of Defense to make a list of covert and overt places that could be targeted for such an attack. On November 18th, 1997, the John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Review Board declassified these documents for the general public.
One of the suggested plans was a “well-coordinated attack… in and around the Guantanamo base” to make it seem like the American base at Guantanamo was under siege from the Cubans. To make the attack seem credible and for public sympathy, it was recommended that incendiary devices be used to start fires and even hold mock funerals.
The US suggested they could blow up a ship or stage an attack. Or, even better, they could sink an unmanned vessel, have a fake rescue operation, and as a pretext, invade. However, the most ambitious and ridiculous plan involved a civilian airliner. The plan proposed a civilian airliner being shot down by a jet that could look like a Cuban fighter. But it remains unclear whether a passenger jet was considered or a chartered aircraft was enough.
The aircraft could either be loaned from a US passenger company or could be a military aircraft modified by the military. However, the plan was pretty much shot down after its conception after John F Kennedy made it abundantly clear that he had no intention of taking communist Cuba by force.
Furthermore, it is said that Mr. Kennedy was horrified by the idea of staging a false flag operation by hurting American citizens. This led to a row between the United States military at the White House, with the former accusing the latter of going soft on the communists. JFK became increasingly unpopular amongst the military, a position from which he never fully recovered.
Though operation Northwoods was considered a conspiracy theory for decades after the project was declassified, it received criticisms domestically and internationally. It is believed that the denial of Operation Northwoods directly affected the assassination of John F Kennedy. Ultimately, the program showed the world how much the Americans were willing to sacrifice for the successful containment of communism.