Washington, D.C., October 6, 2009 - On the 33rd anniversary of the bombing of Cubana flight 455, the National Security Archive today posted recently obtained CIA records on Luis Posada Carriles, his ties to "the Company" and role as an informant on other violent exile groups. The documents provide extensive details on a collaboration between Cuban-American militant Jorge Mas Canosa, who rose to become the most powerful leader of the hardline exile community in Miami, and Posada—codenamed AMCLEVE 15—who volunteered to spy on violent exile operations for the CIA.
The documents include a July 1966 memo from Posada, using the name "Pete," to his CIA handler Grover Lythcott requesting permission to join the coordinating junta for four violent exile groups, including RECE run by Mas Canosa. "I will give the Company all the intelligence that I can collect," Posada wrote. "I will gain a more solid position between the exiles and, because of that, I will be in a better position in the future to perform a good job for the company."
Posada, the documents show, had been reporting to the CIA on Mas Canosa's activities since mid 1965. In July of that year, Posada reported that he had completed two ten-pound Limpet bombs for a Mas Canosa operation against Soviet and Cuban ships in the port of Veracruz, Mexico, using eight pounds of Pentolite explosives and a pencil detonator.
In a memo, Grover Lythcott described Posada as "not a typical 'boom and bang' type of individual" who was "acutely aware of the international implications of ill planned or over enthusiastic activities against Cuba." A CIA personnel record suggested that Posada would be "excellent for use in responsible civil position in PBRUMEN"—a codename for Cuba—"should the present government fall."
Both CIA and FBI intelligence records identify Posada as a mastermind of the bombing of Cubana airline flight 455, also using a pencil detonator, that took the lives of all 73 passengers and crew on October 6, 1976. Posada has publicly admitted ties to a series of hotel bombings in Cuba in 1997; in November 2000 he was arrested in Panama City for plotting to blow up an auditorium where Fidel Castro would be speaking. He is currently living freely in Miami, awaiting trial in El Paso, Texas, early next year on charges of lying to immigration authorities about his role in the hotel bombings, and as to how he illegally entered the United States in the spring of 2005.
"The documents show Posada has a long history of trying to ingratiate himself with the CIA," said Peter Kornbluh, who directs the Cuba documentation project at the National Security Archive, "perhaps attempting to buy himself a degree of protection as he engaged in a career of terrorism." He called on the CIA "to release its entire operational file on Posada Carriles and his activities, to clarify the history of anti-Castro violence and advance the cause of justice for Posada's many victims."
The documents were obtained from the CIA pursuant to a FOIA request for records on Posada and his code-name, AMCLEVE 15. In recent years, the CIA has declassified the documents as part of the Kennedy Assassination Records Act.
Read the Documents
Document 1: CIA, July 21,1966, Memorandum, "AMCLEVE /15."
This document includes two parts-a cover letter written by Grover T. Lythcott, Posada's CIA handler, and an attached request written by Posada to accept a position on new coordinating Junta composed of several anti-Castro organizations. In the cover letter, Lythcbtt refers to Posada by his codename, AMCLEVE/I5, and discusses his previous involvement withthe Agency. He lionizes Posada, writing that his ''performance in all assigned tasks has been excellent," and urges that he be permitted to work with the combined anti-Castro exile groups. According to the document, Lythcott suggests that Posada be taken off the CIA payroll to facilitate his joining the anti-Castro militant junta, which will be led by RECE. Lythcott insists that Posada will function as an effective moderating force considering he is "acutely aware of the international implications of ill planned or over enthusiastic activities against Cuba." In an attached memo, Posada, using the name "Pete," writes that if he is on the Junta, "they will never do anything to endanger the security of this Country (like blow up Russian ships)" and volunteers to "give the Company all the intelligence that I can collect."
Document 2: CIA, August 29, 1966, "TYPIC/INTEL/AMCLEVE-15, Source Authentication for AMCLEVE-15."
This document announces that Posada is officially "associated with the Cuban Representation in Exile (RECE) and the 'Coordination of Forces' which RECE is organizing." Moreover, the document explains that Posada, codenamed AMCLEVE-15, "will be reporting on this alliance of activist organizations."
Document 3: CIA, July 1, 1965, Cable, "Plan of the Cuban Representation in Exile (RECE) to Blow Up a Cuban or Soviet Vessel in Veracruz, Mexico." (previously posted in May 2005)
This CIA cable summarizes intelligence on a demolition project proposed by Jorge Mas Canosa, then the head of RECE. On the third page, a source is quoted as having informed the CIA of a payment that Mas Canosa has made to Luis Posada in order to finance a sabotage operation against ships in Mexico. Posada reportedly has "100 pounds of C-4 explosives and some detonators" and limpet mines to use in the operation.
Document 4: CIA, July 24, 1965, Cable.
Based on reporting from Posada, referred to as AMCLEVE-15, the CIA learns details about the limpet-type bombs Posada is building for a demolition operation against ships in Mexico. "A-15 working directly with Jorge Mas Canosa," the cable states. The CIA instructs Posada "to disengage from activities."
Document 5: CIA, September 27, 1965, Memorandum, "AMCLEVEI15, 201300985."
"PRQ Part II," or the second part of Posada's Personal Record Questionnaire, provides operational information. Within the text of the document, Posada is described as "strongly anti-Communist" as well as a sincere believer in democracy. The document describes Posada having a "good character," not to mention the fact that he is "very reliable, and security conscious." The CIA recommends that he be considered for a civil position in a post-Castro government in Cuba (codenamed PBRUMEN).