Operation Northwoods

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Event.png Operation Northwoods (False Flag,  plan)  Sourcewatch SpartacusRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
PerpetratorsLyman Lemnitzer, Joint Chiefs of Staff
Exposed byJames Bamford
DescriptionA plan devised within the US government in the early 1960's to carry out terrorist attacks on US citizens and have them blamed on Cuba. Never implemented.

Operation Northwoods was a false flag attack that was approved by Lyman Lemnitzer in 1962, but rejected by JFK. The next year, Lemnitzer was made NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Europe, while Kennedy was assassinated. It was exposed by James Bamford in 2001.

Official Narrative

This plan to carry out a false flag was classified and remained secret[1] [2]for 40 almost years, until published by James Bamford there was no official narrative on the topic.


The plan was approved by the top ranking US military officer, Lyman Lemnitzer, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (later appointed NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Europe). It was signed off on by the the other Joint Chiefs of Staff.


It involved many CIA operatives boarding an apparently commercial airliner under fake names, and envisaged many more posing as fake relatives of the deceased, pretending to mourn deaths of their (imaginary) loved ones etc. - this plan envisaged two planes, one being a duplicate of the commercial airliner which would carry the passengers. The original plane being converted to a drone and at one point the planes would switch places so that an empty passenger plane could be remotely destroyed, sending 'May Day' before and relating to listening ICAO radio stations that they were under attack by MIG fighter planes; after that the plane would remotely blow up. This would stoke anger against Cuba.[3]

Other coordinated actions that were proposed

  • dissemination of (many) rumors via clandestine radio stations
  • engineering attacks against Cuban refugees in the US, for which Castro would be blamed
  • sinking an american ship or drone in Guantánamo Bay blaming Cuba (a remember the Maine incident)
  • sinking a 'boatload' of Cubans en-route to Florida (real or simulated)
  • attacking the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base by friendly Cubans which would give the pretext for large scale US military operations
  • attacking civilian air and shipping traffic, for which MIG type aircraft would be used
  • creating an incident in which it seems Cuban MIGs have destroyed a USAF aircraft in an unprovoked attack

The Northwood documents also lay out how events will, through their reporting in the press, cause a certain mindset in the US population that can be used to further the cause of the operation: "Casualty lists in US newspapers would cause a helpful wave of national indignation."

Additional documents from the same period discuss the feasibility of acquisition or manufacturing of MIG type aircraft in the US for 'deception operations'.[4] "There is a possibility that such aircraft could be used in a deception operation designed to confuse enemy planes in the air, to launch a surprise attack against enemy installations or in a provocation operation in which Soviet aircraft would appear to attack U.S. or friendly installations in order to provide an excuse for U.S. intervention. If the planes were to be used in such covert operations, it would seem preferable to manufacture them in the United States."


US President John F. Kennedy and his Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara, did not agree to implement the plan and so it was never carried out.


James Bamford exposed Operation Northwoods in his book Body of Secrets: Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret National Security Agency in April 2001.[5] The only US corporate news outlet to report on the story was ABC News, which published an article by David Ruppe entitled U.S. Military Wanted to Provoke War With Cuba'"[6][7]


Related Document

TitleTypePublication dateAuthor(s)Description
File:Northwoodsdocs.pdfhistorical document2012Tom SeckerNearly 100 pages of Top Secret documents that tells the history surrounding Operation Northwoods, the US military's plan to carry out a series of false flag attacks - including terrorist attacks in US cities - as a pretext for an invasion of Cuba.