Rockefeller Commission: Newly-declassified Section on CIA Assassination Plots Prove US Conspiracy to Kill Dominican President

In 1975, the US Congress convened the Rockefeller Commission to examine possible excesses by the Central Intelligence Agency. The final report by the Commission was heavily altered, and a new 86-page document -- containing handwritten notes by former Vice-President Dick Cheney -- shows that the US Embassy in Santo Domingo was aware of plans by dissidents to set off an explosive device and kill Rafael Trujillo, the very same dictator the US government had helped rise to power three decades earlier.

The newly-declassified document states: "A memorandum in October 1960 reflects that the dissidents planned to kill Trujillo with a bomb, detonated from a remote point, and then to take over the nation by means of an armed uprising, coordinated with other paramilitary action."

Not only was the US arming the dissidents and fully aware of their plans, but the group was presented with a program for covert action in order to install a "moderate pro-US successor."

Conspiracy to Redact. National Security Archive
According to the 86-page document, "the station and the Consulate [Santo Domingo] were informed of the Special Group action on January 19, 1961, the last day of the Eisenhower administration," with President Kennedy learning of the plot in mid-February.

The document details that two members of the Special Group traveled to the United States, meeting with CIA and State Department officials. The document contains redacted names, so we can only guess which two members of the Special Group were actively involved in procuring weapons and meeting with the CIA.

The document adds a juicy new detail to the historical record: the conspirators originally planned to kill Trujillo inside of his mistress' home using silencers, changing their minds only weeks before the successful assassination.

The newly-released document confirms what Trujillo's former head of intelligence, Arturo Espaillat, wrote in his autobiography. Espaillat said that "arms for the May 30, 1961 slaying of the dictator were smuggled by the CIA into the country at the request of the assassins... The CIA began shipping guns to the DR in late 1960."

Espaillat, the head of the feared and secretive Military Intelligence Service (SIM,) further detailed that the US supplying weapons to the conspirators was of little actual importance:

"The value of the weapons was entirely psychological. The conspirators had access to plenty of local firepower. Dominican officers, particularly of the higher ranks, usually had virtual arsenals in their homes, weapons issued or collected over the years. I myself had enough guns, from pistols to machine guns, to have equipped a full infantry platoon. The home of General Jose Rene Roman Fernandez was equally well stocked, as were those of other officers who took part in the conspiracy. But the arrival of weapons from the US government was, for the plotters, tangible evidence that the might of the US government was behind them. Without that support, there simply would have been no conspiracy."

One day after the assassination of Trujillo, the State Department instructed its Consul General to "most inconspicuously" destroy all records linking the plotters to the CIA.