Che's Assassins Revealed

September 25, 2007

For a remarkable case study in U.S. counterinsurgency, Newsletter readers should take a look at Andrew St. George's "How the U.S. Got Che" in the April issue of True magazine. St. George, a former New York Times reporter, has been closely associated with the CIA, and his account of Che Guevara's capture is likely to be the most accurate and revealing we will ever see. In his essay, St. George acknowledges that the 1967 counter-guerrilla campaign
in Bolivia was directly controlled by the United States; moreover, he confirms Roger Count- ill's assertion in the Guardian (October 12, 1968) that U.S. planes equipped with infrared sensing devices were used to pinpoint Che's guerrilla campsites.

In his reconstruction of the U.S. operation in Bolivia, St. George makes the following points:

* President Kennedy's interest in "special warfare" and counterinsurgency was largely a response to Che's strategies for multi-national guerrilla struggles against U.S. imperialism. "It is a little-known but solid fact," St. George asserts, "that this asthmatic, soft-faced medico who never went to military school or owned a brass button had a greater influence on inter-American military policies than any single man since the death of Josef Stalin.

* The Bolivian operation was planned at the Presidential level. On April 9, a secret conference was held in the Chiefs-of-Staff conference room in the Pentagon to map out U.S. strategy, attended by Army Chief of Staff Harold K. Johnson; the head of the U.S. Southern Command (CINCSOUTH), Gen. Robert W. Porter, Jr.; CINCSOUTH's intelligence chief, Gen. Wil- liam K. Skaer of the Air Force; Secretary of State Dean Rusk; Assistant Secretary of State for Latin American Affairs, Covey T. Oliver; CIA Director Richard Helms; White House Hemispheric Adviser William Bowdler; and President Security Assistant Walt W. Rostow. The outcome of this meeting was to reject an Army proposal for the direct intervention of U.S. troops (which would have legitimatized Che's conception of a second Vietnam) and instead to
mount a covert operation which would rely on U.S.-trained Bolivian troops for the dirty work.

* The U.S. covert force in Bolivia, known as a Special Operations Group, consisted of a clandestine CIA group with agents scattered throughout the guerrilla region, and a top-
secret Special Aerial Survey Detachment under the control of CINCSOUTH. These groups worked closely with the only overt U.S. force -- a Special Forces contingent responsible for the
training of a Bolivian anti-guerrilla Ranger battalion.

* The aerial survey group made extensive use of infrared surveillance techniques in the hunt for Che's group. "The guerrilla-infested zone," St. George relates, "was mapped in small precise grids....Wide-winged, Giant RB-57's flew over Bolivia out of Howard Air Force base high in the Canal Zone, while miles underneath dusty little bush planes...put-putted back and forth pinpointing every single heat source on miles and miles of winding infrared superfilm." (Presumably these "bush planes"belonged to Mark Hurd Aerial Surveys, as suggested by the Guardian in October.)

* A U.S. spyship of the Pueblo variety is on constant patrol outside of Havana harbor monitoring all Cuban radio traffic.

Tags: Che, death, US role


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