Born in 1908, Major General Edward Geary Lansdale served with the United States’ Office of Strategic Services during the Second World War. Then, in 1945, he was transferred to HQ Air Forces Western Pacific in the Philippines, and, in 1957, he received a posting to the Office of the Secretary of Defense, working as Deputy Assistant to the SoD for what were vaguely, but intriguingly, termed as Special Operations.
And, certainly, no such Cold War era operation got more special (and weird) than one that Lansdale pretty much singlehandedly coordinated. It was one, truly, of biblical proportions. Indeed, it was designed to try and convince the leadership and the people of Cuba of two startling things: (A) that the Second Coming of Jesus Christ had arrived; and (B) that he was a big fan of the USA! Yep, I kid you not…
Contained within the pages of a November 20, 1975 document titled Alleged Assassination Plots Involving Foreign Leaders, Interim Report of the Select Committee to Study Government Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, is a fascinating statement from one Thomas A. Parrott, who served with the CIA for twenty-four years, and who held the prestigious position of Assistant Deputy Director for National Intelligence Programs.
Commenting on some of Lansdale’s more bizarre operations that were prompted by religion, ancient mythology, and legend, Parrott noted to the committee:
“I’ll give you one example of Lansdale’s perspicacity. He had a wonderful plan for getting rid of [Fidel] Castro. This plan consisted of spreading the word that the Second Coming of Christ was imminent and that Christ was against Castro who was anti-Christ. And you would spread this word around Cuba, and then on whatever date it was, that there would be a manifestation of this thing. And at the time – this was absolutely true – and at the time just over the horizon there would be an American submarine that would surface off of Cuba and send up some star-shells. And this would be the manifestation of the Second Coming and Castro would be overthrown.”
Star-shells, for those who may be wondering, are, essentially, pyrotechnic flares of the military designed to fill the skies at night with bright and widespread illumination. But, the ambitious plan that Lansdale had in mind involved much more than just dazzling the Cubans with mere flares. The feasibility was also looked into of using a U.S. Navy submarine to project images of Jesus Christ onto low-lying clouds off the coast of the Cuban capital of Havana.
The plan also involved – at the very same time – the crew of a U.S. military plane, camouflaged by the clouds and with its engine significantly muffled, using powerful loudspeakers to broadcast faked messages from an equally-faked Christ to the people of Cuba, ordering them to overthrow their government and renounce communism.
Executed properly, such a highly alternative operation might very well have convinced the Cubans that Jesus Christ himself really was calling – and he was not bringing good news for Fidel Castro. Ultimately, while the whole thing was seen as undoubtedly ingenious in nature, it was also viewed as an operation that had a very big chance of failing catastrophically.
And if the Cubans got word there was a U.S. submarine in the very immediate area and took successful military action against it, the disastrous cost to American lives might have far outweighed anything that the operation could have achieved. Thus, this strange biblical charade of the Cold War was shelved.
Of course, this begs a very important, significant and troubling question: if any sort of Second Coming really does occur at some point in the future of the Human Race, how will we know if it has its origins in Heaven or the murky and mysterious world of officialdom? Maybe we actually won’t know. Perhaps there are those in power who see the ingenious exploitation of religion as the ultimate tool of warfare, manipulation and overwhelming control…