Operation Northwoods

What’s the Straight Dope on operation Northwoods?

Would/Has this sort of plans been enacted under other governments, in the USA or other countries? Could it be carried out without being revealed? If it had been carried out at that time, would it have been discovered before it was too late - in other words, before the desired effect had been achieved?

ETA: To what extend is Operations Northwoods a part of the US conscience today? How well is it known?

Virtually none. Very, very few Americans are aware of it.

Just my opinions, here, and I have no special knowledge of the inner workings of the US government.

Last question first: Probably very little known among the general public, as it was a highly secret program to begin with and (apparently) was never acted upon. When it comes up today, it seems to be mostly in the context of providing justification for conspiracy theories of US government responsibility for the 9/11 attacks in New York and Washington.

Northwoods was a plan for what are sometimes known as “false-flag” operations, and Wiki has some information on that as well. The most notable would have been the Reichstag fire in 1933, the supposed Polish attack on Germany’s border that marked the official outbreak of World War II, and at least one of the reported attacks on US shipping by North Viet Nam that are referred to collectively as the Gulf of Tonkin incident.

Russia may or may not have mounted a number of false-flag assassination operations against government critics in recent years. In particular Russian authorities have apparently tried to blame Chechen operatives and/or Mafia types for the recent assassinations of two anti-Putin journalists and former security officer Alexander Litvinenko (the famous Polonium-210 incident), although Chechen involvement seems rather dubious at best.

From what little I know of Northwoods, it comes off more as a set of brainstormed scenarios than any kind of actionable plan. Some of the proposed elements (shooting down a drone, then claiming it was full of vacationing college students, dropping incendiaries on crops in the Dominican Republic) seem ludicrous on their face; others, such as the staged sinking of a US ship in Guantanamo Bay or the rather cold-blooded idea of attacking a boatload of refugees and making it look like the Cubans did it, probably could have fooled the public for a considerable time. In general, the large scale of some of these proposed operations seem to make highly unlikely the possibility of keeping their true nature secret for very long, except perhaps in a much more closed society than the US was at the time.

It would appear that Kennedy rejected Northwoods, at least in part, because the political costs of exposure of such an operation were rightly judged to be too high, especially considering the fiasco of the Bay of Pigs incident that immediately preceded it. This does not necessarily mean that the US would never try to mount other such operations today, but if so, they would likely be on a relatively small scale to have a reasonable chance of being carried out without exposure, as the political costs remain relatively high if exposure did occur.

Umm… the inconvenient fact that murder is ILLEGAL wasn’t a problem?!? :mad:

Wow. A real, confirmed conspiracy of the US government to commit terrorist acts. You would think anyone still living that was involved should be imprisoned.

Are you kidding? You should read the history of US involvement in Latin America. Especially concerning the various fruit companies, like United Fruit.

Hey, it certainly would be for me, but I wasn’t there when the plan was drawn up. Actually I was thinking that the sorts of questions asked by the OP would best be responded to by someone who had actually been associated with the plan, but Formeragent notwithstanding, the chance that a Kennedy-era covert operative might be a posting member of this board seems kinda small. :slight_smile:

Except, of course, that there’s no indication it was ever implemented.

Unfortunately, there’s no reason to believe we would ever find out about it. Once you remove the prohibition against killing from a plan, all bets are off.

ummm…that makes it no less conspiracy . Conspiracy to commit such crimes is a crime in and of itself.

I find it extraordinarily unlikely, given what we know about it, that the Northwoods planning could be legally considered conspiracy. A plan considered and rejected doesn’t qualify.

I’m not suggesting it’s anything but an insane, stupid, and deeply foolish plan. and i hope to hell that it really was quashed as soundly as the unclass information indicates. But what we know of it is not prison-worthy, IMO.

That was in bno way a false flag operation. It was done by a whacknut and thereafter blamed on Communists, but it wasn’t started by Hitler or anyone associated with the Nazis.

While the idea of Operation Northwoods is reprehensible, it’s just one of many wacky plans based on absurd scenarios, because during the Cold War, folks in the government thought it could come down to stuff like that and needed to have something to pull off the shelf just in case. It wasn’t created as a real, let’s-do-this-now plan. There are tons of things like this lying around; this one is just way more scary than most of the others.

It’s my understanding that there is some evidence linking Hitler’s followers to the Reichstag fire. But perhaps El_Kabong is conflating that with the 1939 Gleiwitz incident, which AFAICT was an honest-to-goodness false flag op used to help justify the invasion of Poland.

I don’t buy any “9/11 was a inside job” bullshit, but IMHO, the still-unsolved anthrax attacks of late 2001 look like a false-flag operation to me.

Goering might (or might not) have claimed credit for it.

my bold

And once again - Gladio! for a still disputed but well documented tale of intrigue and treachery. US backed sleeper cells committed numerous false-flag terrorist acts in Italy throughout the 70’s and 80’s in order to discredit the Italian Left. US still officially denies involvement, but there’s a lot of information out there, including testimony from intermittent Italian PM Andreotti. Maybe on a slightly smaller scale than Northwoods would have been, and no actual war came out of it.

Irrelevant. No source has ever put forth any real evidence pointing to any Nazi official’s guilt in that matter. The actual suspect is well known and quite deranged (IIRC he was caught wandering the burning building in his pants). Hitler never particularly disliked the building or even its purpose, and would have opposed any such move.

It’s long been popularized as a Nazi plot because it was convenient for them. But so were a lot of things.

I’m not an expert on the Reichstag fire, but my understanding from my reading is that there is some question as to whether van der Lubbe could have set the fire on his own, so I wouldn’t rule out Nazi inviolvement so categorically. Nevertheless, as you say there iseems to be no concrete proof the Nazis did it themselves, so I’ll withdraw that one.