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An Interview with Richard Helms

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the arrangements made by Attorney General Robert Kennedy in exchange for drugs and medical supplies and so forth. President Kennedy went to the Orange Bowl in Miami and greeted them with words to the effect that "I can assure you that this flag will be returned to this Brigade in a Free Havana."
    
President Kennedy himself was keeping the pressure on the Castro government. This wasn't anything hidden or anything of that kind. I mean, if provocations were needed, both Castro and Kennedy had provided fine provocations for each other. But what does it say in the end?
    
If History renders the verdict that President John F. Kennedy did not rule out the assassination of Castro, and even said in so many words that he would quite welcome it, would History be unfair?
    
I don't know how to answer that and I think one is simply going to have to wait for History.
    
You were asked if Robert Kennedy told you to kill Castro and you said "Not in those words, no." Can you remember what the words were?
    
No, I don't recall any more. Let's leave this judgment to History. We are not going to contribute anything by trying to make a judgment today.
    
If the Kennedy family, for reasons of national security and so on, had endorsed or not turned off assassination plans, if the CIA didn't want the details of something like AMLASH to be made public, then there was a vested interest between the CIA and the Kennedys that these facts not be put before the Warren Commission, just as you didn't mention them to Rusk in '66 or LBJ in '67.
    
I know of no conspiracy about these matters. If there were oversights and things that should have happened didn't, I assure you there was no conspiracy involved.
    
Turning to the subject of assassinations in general, you made your point that you think assassination is unacceptable as a policy tool, both because of the public aversion to it and also for practical reasons. Is the most practical reason the danger of reciprocity?
    
No, that is not the most practical reason. But I think this is a good place to note that the CIA never has assassinated anyone.
    
There were many of us who never liked any idea of assassination. Plotting such an act is one thing and committing it is another. Plotting is a buzz word-all you have to do is say somebody is plotting and it reeks of crime and all kinds of horrible things.
    
But the fact remains that none of this happened.
    
Let's leave aside the notion of theology and the morality of all good men for just a moment.
    
Leaving that aside, one comes smack up against the fact that if you hire someone to kill somebody else, you are immediately subject to blackmail and that includes individuals as well as governments.
    
In short, these things inevitably come out. That is the most compelling reason for not getting involved.
    
But then there is an ancillary consideration. If you become involved in the business of eliminating foreign leaders, and it is considered by governments more frequently than one likes to admit, there is always the question of who comes next. If
    
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Posted: May 08, 2007 08:59 AM
Last Updated: May 08, 2007 08:59 AM