INVESTIGATIONS: Rocky's Probe: Bringing the CIA to Heel

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Church scorned the Rockefeller commission for having "finessed" the charges of CIA assassination plots and promised that his committee would concentrate on them in hopes of finishing that part of its investigation and issuing a report by mid-July. Last week, however, the committee was stymied temporarily when Robert Maheu, a former associate of reclusive Billionaire Howard Hughes, refused to answer questions about his role as a liaison between the CIA and organized crime figures in an alleged plot to assassinate Cuban Dictator Fidel Castro. The committee has voted to try to get Maheu to testify by granting him limited immunity from prosecution. CIA schemes to do away with Castro sometimes reached bizarre proportions. TIME learned last week that in 1960 some agency officials proposed to kill him with poisoned cigars. The CIA's medical section even prepared a box of suitably doctored fine Havana cigars, though the cigars seem never to have left the laboratory; as other CIA employees apparently pointed out, there was no way of making sure that Castro would not pass them out to other people.

The CIA has also been accused of being involved in plots to kill South Viet Nam's President Ngo Dinh Diem in 1963, Haitian Dictator François ("Papa Doc") Duvalier that same year, Congo Nationalist Patrice Lumumba in 1961 and Dominican Republic Dictator Rafael Trujillo in 1961. Last week TIME Correspondent Bernard Diederich, who has spent four years researching a book on Trujillo's assassination, reported that the CIA actually was involved in three plots to kill the dictator. In 1958 the agency promised to provide a group of dissident Dominicans with a sharpshooter and rifle if they could induce Dominican General Rodriguez Reyes to lead a coup after Trujillo's death. The plot backfired when Reyes told a conspirator: "Trujillo made me, and I am a Trujillo man."

Two years later the CIA brought 60 Dominican exiles to a secret site in Venezuela, intending to use them as the spearhead of an invasion force to overthrow and kill Trujillo. But the Dominicans decided that the mission would be suicidal and backed out. In 1961, the CIA turned over three fast-firing M-l carbines and 500 rounds of ammunition concealed in a box of groceries to an intermediary for delivery to Angel Severo Cabral, a member of a group of right-wing Dominicans who were plotting against Trujillo. They apparently had expected more extensive material help from the CIA. When Cabral saw the rifles, he angrily declared: "This is the pyramid of arms, the arsenal we were promised that wouldn't fit into a garage?" In any case, four of the conspirators took one of the rifles with them when they ambushed the dictator in May 1961, though they actually gunned him down with a sawed-off shotgun fired at pointblank range as he cringed by the side of his car.

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