Interim Report: Alleged Assassination Plots Involving Foreign Leaders


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The Church Committee investigated CIA plots to assassinate foreign leaders. This Interim Report, published in 1975, discusses alleged plots to kill:

• Patrice Lumumba (Congo)
• Fidel Castro (Cuba)
• Rafael Trujillo (Dominican Republic)
• Ngo Dinh Diem (Vietnam)
• Rene Schneider (Chile)

The Committee also examined the CIA’s development of a general “executive action” capability. The Committee found that the U.S. initiated plots to assassinate Fidel Castro and Patrice Lumumba. In the other cases, either U.S. involvement was indirect or evidence was too inconclusive to issue a finding. In Lumumba’s case,the Committee asserted that the U.S. was not involved in his death, despite earlier plotting. The Committee was unable to state with certainty whether any plots were authorized by U.S. Presidents.

Title  (PDF: 665 K)
I. Introduction and Summary  (PDF: 546 K)
A. Committee's Mandate
B. Committee Decision to Make Report Public
C. Scope of Committee's Investigation
D. Summary of Findings and Conclusions
1. The Questions Presented
2. Summary of Findings and Conclusions on the Plots
3. Summary of Findings and Conclusions on the Issues of Authority and Control
II. Covert Action as a Vehicle for Foreign Policy Implementation  (PDF: 275 K)
A. Policy Development and Approval Mechanism
B. The Concept of "Plausible Denial"
III. Assassination Planning and the Plots 
A. Congo
  (PDF: 4671 K)
1. Introduction
2. Dulles Cable to Leopoldville: August 26, 1960
3. CIA Encouragement of Congolese Efforts to "Eliminate" Lumumba
4. The Plot to Assassinate Lumumba
5. The Question of a Connection Between the Assassination Plot and Other Actions...
6. The Question of Whether the CIA was Involved...
7. The Question of the Level at Which the Assassination Plot was Authorized
B. Cuba
  (PDF: 9174 K)
1. The Assassination Plots
2. At What Level Were the Castro Plots Known About or Authorized Within the CIA?
3. At What Level Were the Castro Plots Authorized or Known About Outside the CIA?
C. Institutionalizing Assassination: The "Executive Action" Capability
  (PDF: 763 K)
1. Introduction
2. The Question of White House Initiation, Authorization, or Knowledge...
3. The Question of Authorization or Knowledge of the Executive Action Project by the DCI
4. The Question of Whether Project ZR/Rifle was Connected...
D. Trujillo
  (PDF: 1981 K)
1. Summary
2. Background
3. Initial Contact with Dissidents and Request for Arms
4. Summer and Fall of 1960
5. January 12, 1961 Special Group Approval of...
6. January 20, 1961--April 17, 1961...
7. April 17, 1961--May 31, 1961...
8. May 30, 1961 and Immediately Thereafter
E. Diem
  (PDF: 586 K)
1. Summary
2. The Abortive Coup of August 1963
3. The November 1963 Coup
F. Schneider
  (PDF: 2456 K)
1. Summary
2. The President's Initial Instruction and Background
3. CIA's Implementation of Track II
4. CIA Efforts to Promote a Coup
5. CIA/White House Communication During Track II
IV. Findings and Conclusions  (PDF: 2016 K)
A. Findings Concerning the Plots Themselves
1. Officials of the United States Government Initiated Plots...
2. No Foreign Leaders Were Killed as a Result of Assassination Plots...
3. American Officials Encouraged or Were Privy to Coup Plots...
4. The Plots Occurred in a Cold War Atmosphere...
5. American Officials Had Exaggerated Notions About Their Abilities...
6. CIA Officials Made Use of Known Underworld Figures in Assassination Efforts
B. Conclusions Concerning the Plots Themselves
1. The United States Should Not Engage in Assassination
2. The United States Should Not Make Use of Underworld Figures...
C. Findings and Conclusions Relating to Authorization and Control
1. The Apparent Lack of Accountability in the Command and Control System...
2. Findings Relating to the Level at Which the Plots Were Authorized
3. CIA Officials Involved in the Assassination Operations Perceived...
4. The Failure in Communication Between Agency Officials in Charge...
5. Practices Current at the Time in Which the Assassination Plots Occurred...
V. Recommendations  (PDF: 314 K)
A. General Agreement That the United States Must Not Engage in Assassination
B. CIA Directives Banning Assassination
C. The Need for a Statute
Epilogue  (PDF: 4036 K)
Statement of Joinder 
Appendix A: A Bill to make unlawful... 
Appendix B: Chronology of Major Events 
Separate Views of Senator Philip A. Hart 
Additional Views of Senator Robert Morgan 
Additional Views of Senator Howard H. Baker, Jr. 
Additional Views of Senator Barry Goldwater 
Supplemental Views of Senator Charles McC. Mathias, Jr. 
Abbreviations of Citations