The U.S. government once wanted to plan false flag attacks with Soviet aircraft to justify war with the USSR or its allies, newly declassified documents surrounding the assassination of President John F. Kennedy show.
In a three-page memo, members of the National Security Council wrote, "There is a possibility that such aircraft could be used in a deception operation designed to confuse enemy planes in the air, to launch a surprise attack against enemy installations or in a provocation operation in which Soviet aircraft would appear to attack US or friendly installations to provide an excuse for U.S. intervention."
The memo shows that the department, along with the CIA, considered buying Soviet aircraft to stage the attacks, even getting estimates from the Air Force on how long it would take and how much it would cost to produce the planes domestically and covertly. Costs ranged from $3.5 million to $44 million per plane, depending on the model, most taking several months to build.
The document also outlined the possibility of purchasing such aircraft from non-Soviet Bloc countries that had received planes from the USSR, or from pilots that had defected, instead of building them domestically. The CIA deemed those plans too risky, writing, "The fact that the United States was actively engaged in attempts to defect pilots of supposedly friendly countries might be revealed."
The memo also conceded that the plan would require employing a "maximum-security area." Otherwise, it would be "most difficult to conceal the existence of such aircraft from the prying eyes of the American press and public."
False flag attacks are covert operations that make it look like an attack was carried out by another group than the group that actually carried them out.
It is unclear when the memo was written or circulated. The NSC staff mention a meeting on March 22, 1962, when a "Special Group" discussed the attorney general's questions about acquiring Soviet aircraft. The document was last reviewed by the CIA in February 1998, and a stamp shows it was declassified in March 2016. But, strangely, the document's cover letter shows a date of "00/00/00."
The revelations are part of a trove of thousands of documents released by the National Archives, surrounding investigations into the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and related events. The documents come from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Central Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency and other agencies. The release has been scheduled since 1992.
Documents have been released in several batches, and have revealed that the FBI closely monitored Martin Luther King Jr.'s sex life, that a U.K. paper received an anonymous tip about the assassination before it happened, and that Lee Harvey Oswald called the Cuban embassy in Mexico City about getting a visa before the assassination, among other tidbits.