The Truth About Operation Northwoods

James Slate
5 min readFeb 24, 2018

Northwoods is everything they want to believe happened on 9/11 summed up in one handy document. It talks about using drones, about simulating airline crashes with drones and hiding the real passengers on a military base, it talks about false flag terrorist attacks. Everything they could possibly want is listed here.

And it is amazing that this document was found. Fortunately, some guilt-ridden insider of the military industrial complex found the courage to leak this information to WikiLeaks…except, nope, that’s not what happened. The document was released as part of a FOIA request. The US government reviewed the request for information about the document and decided that there was nothing in here that was so horrendous it had to be hidden from the public. So it released it through official channels.

Yeah, but that request wouldn’t have happened if some intrepid investigative reporter hadn’t been chasing down evidence of the inside plotting of 9/11!

Well, except that the document was released in April of 2001. That’s right. The government that was secretly planning to conduct the greatest “false flag” operation ever launched released a document that spelled it all out, through official channels, five months earlier. Because… well, because the evil geniuses in charge of the plan didn’t think to tie up those loose ends before hand.

But what about the plan itself?

First of all, it is neither a plan nor an “operation” despite the many references to it as such. It is nothing more than a memorandum with the codeword “Northwoods” at the top. By calling it “Operation Northwoods,” commentators are giving the memorandum far more weight than it actually would hold in a military environment.

I give it as much credence as CONPLAN 8888 and War Plan Red.

According to Eisnehower, you know the guy who was president before Kennedy, “Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.”

In other words, when planning, not everything you come up with is intended to actually work. Rather, it is the process of generating ideas and developing courses of action that really matter.

And those who have conducted military planning know that you always generate three courses of action. Two good ones and one throw away one. But the throw away one servers a purpose on its own because it forces you to “think outside the box” and can demonstrate to your boss that you actually considered a wider array of options than what was finally presented to him. In some cases, it also gives him the ability to choose that third option but then to provide more specific guidelines or restrictions to bound your problems and your solutions.

Northwoods explains up front that it is expected to be one of many submissions from other government agencies. And it recognized that all of the aspects recommended would not be used but would rather, the President would pick and choose what he wanted from across the range of suggestions he was given and then those solutions would be implemented.

The memorandum (it is clearly stated that this is NOT a plan and it is not ready for transmission to anyone for purposes of execution) provides a laundry lists of potential options from the truly bizarre (a commercial airliner “drone” which did not exist at the time) to the disturbing (sinking a boatload of refugees) to the concerning (using plastic bombs in carefully selected locations to simulate a terrorist attack).

[One of these ideas, the fake airliner being flown to an auxiliary field near Eglin AFB would be re-born as a fake “Havana airport” to fool hijackers. This plan, too, never took shape but it was one of many, many suggestions offered by an anti-hijacking task force that looked at a wide range of options.Again, as with Northwoods, you get a sense that these folks were just trying to generate a large number of ideas to figure out what would work best. My favorites being either the “ejection seat” or the “injector seat.”]

Northwoods was part of the wider Operation Moongoose which included an array of ideas for toppling the Cuban government. These ranged from “exploding cigars” to “blame Cuba if the Gemini project fails.”

The biggest problem with Northwoods, from a conspiracy theorist point of view, is that it never happened. All these great ideas and nobody bothered to topple the Cuban government. Nothing succeeds like success but Cuba is the most embarrassing failure of the CIA.

On top of that, the CIA was actively involved in overthrowing other governments. And time and time again, they use the same tactics. Pay somebody already in the government (usually a general) to do the dirty work. People who do this stuff for a living know that the really complicated stuff, the things that look good on TV, are just way too complicated to do for real.

Now, conspiracy theorists, and Mr. Bamford who requested the document, will tell you that Kennedy was so dismayed by the plot that he fired the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In fact, General Lyman Lemnitzer was sent to be the Supreme Allied Commander-Europe (SACEUR), considered to be the top Army Combatant Command position (and usually the entry position for the JCS). Most Chairman of the JCS retire after their tour rather than go onto another command tour. And when you fire a 4-star general, you usually do so by forcing them to retire. Lemnitzer was a 4-star general for 14 years (half that time after he left the JCS). The longest in US Army history. Not bad for a guy supposedly fired by the President.

The same argument holds for Edward Lansdale who headed up OperationMoongoose and is in fact the person cited in the first paragraph of Operation Northwoods as having requested the plots. Landsdale continued to serve throughout Kennedy’s administration and was even awarded a Distinguished Service Medal at the end of his time in the position. Hardly the resume of a man despised by the President.

All commentary on Kennedy or McNamara’s responses to the Northwoodsmemorandum are ENTIRELY speculation. Kennedy’s only documented response to the plan was that the military should not count on having four divisions available to conduct the *follow-on* operations. There is no record of what Kennedy or McNamara actually said about the memorandum itself.

The US military plans. A lot. And it generates lots of good ideas and exponentially more bad ideas. Not because they plan to implement those ideas but because those ideas generate additional ideas. They provide options and as documented in the Northwoods memo, they provide a “point of departure” for other planning efforts. (And they provide the fevered dreams of conspiracy theorists and bad plots for Hollywood screenwriters.)


A U.S. Government ‘Zombie’ Plan?

War Plan Red

Dwight D. Eisenhower

Early Airport Security Was Very, Very Relaxed

Cuban Project — Wikipedia



James Slate

I Defend America and its Foreign Policy from a Liberal Perspective.