The term Executive Action refers to words in formerly suppressed documents that promote the assassination of enemy leaders. Political assassination by no means is a modern development or a singularly American crime and many officials had no reason to suspect that formerly private documents would become public knowledge. Despite the clandestine operations, suppression of facts, and verifiable destruction of documents, a substantial body of evidence remains.
Russian official groups had undertaken terrorism against the public since at least 1946 and previous influence from Joseph Stalin's brutal regime feasibly instructed these official activities. In 1953, Stalin dies and the Soviet government forms the KGB (Committee for State Security) a year later. "The 13th Department of the First Chief Directorate of the KGB is responsible for planning and carrying out so called 'wet affairs'...The Russian term mokryye dela ("wet affairs") corresponds to the designation 'executive action' both terms being applied to such as activities as kidnapping, assassination, and other forms of terrorism."i
Additionally in 1954, The Central Intelligence Agency created "A Study of Assassination" a document that contains a tactically effective design and execution of assassination plots.ii The "Study" reveals a chain of official actions that made the execution of any executive government leader a greater possibility and plans for assassination evolve as time and related officials influence the idea. Some Russian and American officials sought to utilize terror for their own political agendas.
"The first seriously-pursued CIA plan to assassinate Castro had its inception in 1960. It involved the use of members of the criminal underworld with contacts inside Cuba. The operation had two phases; the first ran from August 1960 until late April or early May 1961, when it was called off following the Bay of Pigs..."iii Phase One included using Mafia leaders, poisons, and a large cash payment if the target Fidel Castro was killed.
In 1961, CIA Deputy Director for Plans (DDP) Richard Bissell tasked William Harvey to develop Executive Action plans and Harvey constructed preparations for using potential assassins to eliminate world leaders.iv v Among the recruited was Jose Marie Andre Mankel known under his cryptonym as QJWIN.vi Executive Action becomes ZRRIFLE expanding the possible targets and pool of assassins for utilization and the Castro plots incorporate ZRRIFLE during Phase Two, and Harvey militarizes the original idea.
Phase Two assertedly "ran from April 1962 until February 1963 and was merely the revival of the first phase..." according to the Agency's Inspector General in 1967.vii However, the ZRRIFLE recruitment of potential assassins occurred significantly earlier, and was reauthorized, not ended, in February 1963.viii The Inspector General also noted, "The project name ZRRIFLE, first appears in the files on May 1961, although the first recorded approval is dated February 1962."ix Harvey is additionally placed in charge of the "Agency's Cuba task force."
According to Harvey after he "took over the Castro operation he ran it as one aspect of ZRRIFLE; however, he personally handled the Castro operation and did not use any of the assets being developed in ZRRIFLE. Harvey states that he soon came to think of the Castro operation and ZRRIFLE as being synonymous. The over-all Executive Action program came to be treated in his mind as being synonymous with QJWIN, the agent working on the over-all program. He says that when he wrote ZRRIFLE/QJWIN the reference was to Executive Action Capability, when he used the cryptonym ZRRIFLE alone, he was referring to Castro. He said his correspondence would disclose this distinction. We reviewed the correspondence and found it for the most part unrevealing."x
The Agency obscures their involvement and suppresses information regarding allied criminal and paramilitary groups. They neglect to mention it expands those who might possess the means to undertake such an operation domestically. Never officially regarded are Harvey's questionable related actions, escalating drinking, and penchant for grievously illegal activities. There were multiple deadly plots active before and after the assassination of President Kennedy and officials involved may have suffered blowback from the very agents and militant forces to which they provided training and funding. Assassination plotting is a two edged blade that by its very nature implies guilt upon all even briefly connected.
Too large a group would be exposed; too small a group might be unable to fulfill the plot's objective. Most should be unseen and only a single person handles the sniper or snipers. All of these ideas are suggested by the aforementioned official instructions. Officials had incompetently provided the means to assassinate a world leader and some possessing the motive and opportunity to assassinate President Kennedy might have used these official plans.
i. Central Intelligence Agency, Oswald 201 File, KGB "Executive Action" Department of the First Chief Directorate, November 5, 1962, 104-10021-10119
ii. The National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 4, Document 2: "A Study of Assassination" unsigned, no date, George Washington University
iii. House Select Committee on Assassinations, Segregated CIA file, Microfilm Reel 48, Defectors, 201 files, CI/Sig, IG Report..., Folder ZZ- 1967 IG Report (Unsanitized), May 23, 1967, Gambling Syndicate, p. 37, 1994.03.08.14:54:36:690005
v. HSCA, Seg. CIA file, Handwritten Notes Re Project ZRRIFLE, Box 56, (n.d.), 104-10125-10395
vi. HSCA, Seg. CIA file, Microfilm Reel 48, Folder ZZ- 1967 Inspector General's Report (Unsanitized), May 23, 1967, Gambling Syndicate, p. 38
viii. HSCA, Seg. CIA file, Extension of Authorization of ZRRIFLE Agent Activities, Box 56, March 6, 1963, 1993.08.12.13:06:08:930005
ix. HSCA, Seg. CIA file, Microfilm Reel 48, Folder ZZ- 1967 IG Report (Unsanitized), May 23, 1967, Gambling Syndicate, p. 38
x. Ibid, p. 40
Related articles and evidence:
Who was QJWIN?
CIA Castro assassination plots
Political assassination and the unsigned murder guide
The Assassination Guide
Edited: December 2017