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OPINION

When the FBI Protected Us From Communist Terrorists, not Alleged Diary Snatchers

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File

Project Veritas's James O'Keefe told Fox News he was 'in a state of shock' when the FBI raided his apartment over the alleged theft of Ashley Biden's diary, calling the raid "an attack on the First Amendment by the Department of Justice." 

He also questioned "what world" we're living in when the president's FBI and Department of Justice investigate a missing diary.

Now, J. Edgar Hoover was hardly squeaky clean in the partisan political shenanigans of his time, especially those by LBJ. But he always recognized our nation’s genuine enemies. 

“We must keep our hatred (against the U.S.) alive and fan it to paroxysm!” raved Che Guevara in his Message to the Tri-Continental Conference in 1966. “The imperialist enemy must feel like a hunted animal wherever he moves. Thus we’ll destroy him! We must bring the war to the imperialist enemies’ very home, to his places of work and recreation.” 

Fortunately, earlier, on Nov. 17 1962, Hoover’s FBI had already foiled part of the “war” Castro and Che had planned for us—and in some of our very favorite “places of recreation.” To wit: In those days Macy’s got around 50,000 shoppers on Black Friday. 

On the morning of November 17th, 1962, FBI headquarters in Washington D.C. took on “all the trappings of a military command post,” according to historian William Breuer. The previous night an intelligence puzzle had finally come together. The resulting picture staggered the FBI men. And these had served at their posts during WWII and the height of the Cold War. They’d seen plenty. Now they had mere days to foil a crime against their nation to rival Hideki Tojo’s.

At the time, our crude and prehistoric FBI relied heavily on “HUMINT” (Human Intelligence.) So they’d expertly penetrated the plot, identified the ringleaders and had them tapped. 

Like hawks on a perch they’d been watching the plot unfold, sweating bullets the whole time. It was nearing time to swoop down on Fidel Castro and Che Guevara’s agents, who were busy with a terror plot that would have made Al Qaeda and ISIS drool decades later.

Alan Belmont was second to J Edgar Hoover at the time. Raymond Wannall headed the Bureau’s Intelligence Division. That nerve-jangling morning both were in Belmont’s office just down the hall from Hoover’s. Both were burning up the telephone lines to their agents in New York. On one phone they had Special Agent John Malone who ran the New York field office. On other lines they talked with several carloads of FBI agents slinking around Manhattan. These were keeping a touch-and-go, but more or less constant, surveillance on the ringleaders of the monstrous Cuban terror plot.

You see amigos: Castro’s agents had targeted Macy’s, Gimbels, Bloomingdale's, and Manhattan’s Grand Central Station with a dozen incendiary devices and 500 kilos of TNT. The holocaust was set for detonation the following week, on the day after Thanksgiving.

A little perspective: For their famous March 2004 Madrid subway blasts, all 10 of them, which killed and maimed almost 2,000 people, al-Qaeda used a grand total of 100 kilos of TNT. Castro and Che’s agents planned to set off five times that amount of explosive power in the three biggest department stores on earth, all packed to suffocation and pulsing with holiday cheer on the year’s biggest shopping day. Macy’s gets 50,000 shoppers that one day. Thousands of New Yorkers, including women and children—actually, given the date and targets, probably mostly women and children—were to be incinerated and entombed. (“We greeted each other as old friends,” gushed Jimmy Carter when visiting Fidel Castro in 2002.)

One by one the ringleaders were methodically ambushed. The first was named Roberto Santiesteban, who worked as a Cuban “diplomat” at the UN. He was nabbed while walking down Riverside Drive. As the agents closed in, Santiesteban saw them and took off while jamming paper in his mouth and chewing furiously.

But six FBI agents were after him, all fleet of foot themselves. Finally they closed the ring and “triangulated” the suspect. Santiesteban fell, raging and cursing, flailing his arms and jabbing his elbows like a maniac. They grabbed his arm and bent it behind his back just as he was reaching for his pistol.

Among the other apprehended terrorist ringleaders were two KGB-trained Cuban agents who also worked as “diplomats” in Cuba’s UN mission. Their names were Jose Gomez-Abad and Elsa MonteroAlas, all these “diplomats” enjoyed “diplomatic immunity” and were soon back in Cuba as heroes instead of in electric chairs at Sing Sing.  

Had those detonators gone off the day after Thanksgiving in 1962, 9/11 might be remembered as the second deadliest terrorist attack on U.S. soil. 

Castro and Che’s Manhattan bomb plot was far from "irrational." They were no suicide bombers -- not by a long shot. Some Cuba-watchers speculate that Castro wanted to blast Manhattan to heat things up again, to rekindle all those thrills he’d experienced the previous weeks during the missile crisis. Given the temper of the times, he knew his Soviet sugar daddies would be implicated too. Then the U.S. might retaliate. Then—just maybe—Castro and Che might get what they’d dreamed about and tried to provoke a few weeks earlier: an intercontinental nuclear exchange.

As mentioned, Castro's agents for his Manhattan Thanksgiving bomb plot were members of the Cuban mission to the United Nations working in concert with members of the Fair Play For Cuba Committee, an outfit that became much better known almost exactly a year later when member Lee Harvey Oswald really racked up some headlines.

Incidentally, at the time of the Manhattan terror plot, the Fair Play For Cuba Committee also included among its members, CBS correspondent Robert Taber (an early version of Dan Rather, who conducted Castro's first network television soft-soaping on Aug. 30, 1957), along with The Nation magazine co-owner Alan Sagner. In 1996 President Clinton appointed Alan Sagner head of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Despite his lust to incinerate them, on visit after visit to New York the cities’ media and business elite (i.e. those who barely escaped incineration at Fidel Castro’s hand) welcomed Fidel Castro as the second coming of the Beatles at Shea Stadium. On his 1996 visit for instance, the war-mongering, mass-murdering despot who abolished private property, transplanted Stalin’s penal and judicial system and stole 5,911 businesses worth (at the time) $2 billion from U.S. stockholders—this very gentleman was delighted to find a lavish luncheon thrown in his honor by The Wall Street Journal. 

“The Toast of Manhattan!” crowed Time magazine regarding Fidel Castro’s reception by Manhattan’s beautiful people on the Communist terrorist’s visit to New York in 1996.

“The Hottest Ticket in Manhattan!” also read a Newsweek story that week, referring to the social swirl that engulfed Castro in New York by the Manhattan media luminaries who barely escaped incineration by his hand.

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