Scam of the century: CIA pilot's daughter lies to seek a fortune

Campaign News | Tuesday, 7 December 2004

Miami court award illustrates the corruption inherent in US policy towards Cuba

In November, the daughter of a CIA pilot who was killed in the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961 was awarded millions of dollars in damages by a Miami judge. She claimed, among other atrocious lies, that her father was executed by Fidel Castro personally. Here is the true story of agent Tom Ray - and one that illustrates the immoral depths to which so-called 'justice' in Florida as sunk

BY LAZARO BARREDO MEDINA - Special for Granma International

WITHOUT lies they would die of desperation and boredom in Miami, to paraphrase the eminent writer Anatole France.

According to Miami’s El Nuevo Herald, on November 15 a woman by the name of Janet Ray Weininger brought charges of felonious homicide against Cuban President Fidel Castro, his brother Raúl and the Republic of Cuba in the Miami-Dade County Court, concerning the death of her father, Thomas Peter Ray. The CIA aircraft that he was piloting was brought down in the Bay of Pigs invasion on April 19, 1961.

According to the Miami press, the charge maintains that Pete Ray’s aircraft suffered serious problems but he survived a forced landing, after which he was taken to a Cuban medical installation where he was treated for his wounds and subsequently executed.

Janet Ray, who was only six when the incident occurred, recounted sinister deeds to the press: "His plane fell close to Fidel Castro’s command post, he was wounded in a shoot-out and they executed him at point-blank range." And she continued: "Without our knowledge they kept the body and profaned it for 18 years." The claim also alleges that "for political ends, the government of Cuba displayed the cadaver, kicked it and spat on it."

Other newspapers took up the story based on various anonymous sources in Miami who said that the pilot Thomas Pete Ray had made a civilian transportation flight that day, while others stated that he flew to Cuba on an alleged humanitarian mission and was brought down when he was trying to gain height, et cetera.

Janet ray’s suit before the U.S. justice in Miami took advantage of the 1996 Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Sentence Act, which allows victims of states catalogued as terrorist - including Cuba - to file claims for damages.

From that time the legislation has prompted a kind of "dance of the millions," where any claim against Cuba finds an immediate echo of sympathy with the U.S. legal authorities, who adjudicate multi-million compensations from Cuban funds frozen by the criminal

dispositions of the blockade and against other goods and assets belonging to the island.|

The first such occurrence was with Ana Margarita González, who, after being abandoned in February of 1996 by her husband - an ex-pilot from Brothers to the Rescue - who had returned to Cuba, made a judicial claim for emotional damages and was compensated with $26 million for her "trauma."

Another similar successful case was the awarding of $187 million to the families of three members of Brothers to the Rescue who were shot down on February 24, 1996 after making constant violations of Cuban airspace and engaging in threatening acts of provocation over the city of Havana, at all times ignoring warnings issued by the Cuban and even the US authorities.

Even more shameless was the demand for damages for "emotional hardship" filed by the cowardly pilot José Basulto, one of the terrorist Miami mafia chiefs, who was responsible for the death of those three young men whom he abandoned in Cuban airspace on February 24, using the pretext that the incident notably deteriorated the already deteriorated Cuban-American relations. Basulto was awarded close to $75 million by another judge.


Now, when Janet Ray Weininger presented her claim before the judges in Miami, several legal experts stated that it had no merit. Even The Miami Herald published the statement of David Abraham, a law professor at the University of Miami, who declared, "You cannot invade a foreign country and expect a warm welcome."

However, they forget that ethics in Miami are still measured by the saying "gold begets arrogance, and arrogance begets idiocy." In just over 48 hours, Ronald Dresnick, the Miami-Dade County judge, ruled in favor of Janet Ray Weininger and "ordered" the Cuban government to pay her $86.5 million "for the execution of her father."

A proverb states that he who tells a lie will later have to tell 20 more to sustain the first one; this is why the "story" of Janet Ray, stitched together by her expert lawyers, bears more resemblance to a soap opera script. The "story" is such a terrible bunch of lies that it would seem they overlooked the advice, "occasionally tell the truth so that you will be believed when you are lying."

Thomas Williard Ray, known as "Pete", flew to Cuba to attack a foreign country. He was never taken prisoner and was never attended to by any doctor for any wounds; and if his family should be grateful for something, it is that, despite the inhumane behavior of the U.S. government, the Cuban authorities conserved and protected his body, so that it could be returned to his family. Close to 40 years ago, US journalists David Wise and Thomas R. Ross wrote a book entitled The Invisible Government, in which they relate the details of the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba - a special operation organized by the CIA and approved by Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy.

In The Invisible Government, the authors critically analyze the failure of the Bay of Pigs operation, not on the basis of its immorality, or its flagrant violations of international law, but rather, based on its defects and flaws in the preparation and carrying out of the operation.

One of the chapters concerns "The Case of the Birmingham Widows." The chapter, in great detail, relates the case of the mysterious death in the early morning of April 19, 1961 of four pilots from the Alabama National Guard, who, along with other pilots from that region, were part of a CIA special commando unit. In their account, the authors provide details of that day’s desperate air mission. The five B-26 bombers flew out from the Happy Valley airport in Puerto Cabezas on the Atlantic coast of Nicaragua, disguised with Cuban Air Force insignia in order to confuse the island’s defense forces and take them by surprise, and overflew the Cuban positions. The chapter also describes the decisions made with the approval of President Kennedy to provide air cover by US aircraft carriers, anchored just off the Cuban coast, an operation that failed due to poor coordination between the Pentagon and the CIA.


David Wise and Thomas B. Ross recreate the details of how the CIA initially, followed by the entire US government, consistently misled the families of the four deceased pilots, assuring them that they had died in a regrettable air accident as they were flying in a C-47 that plunged into the sea. They then document all the consequent lies used to respond to the claims filed by some of the mothers and wives of the deceased, as well as the way in which the CIA financially supported the four families.

The authors conclude that the case of the four deceased CIA pilots in this covert operation was key to a mass of explosive questions that caused difficulties for the White House. Furthermore, they recall the words of President John F. Kennedy, when he declared on April 12, 1961, five days before the invasion: "This government will do everything possible, and I believe that it can fulfill its responsibilities, to guarantee that no US citizens will be involved in any action inside of Cuba." In addition, the words of Robert Kennedy, the President’s brother and secretary of justice, who, in a January 21, 1963 interview with David Kraslow from the Knight newspaper chain, stated that not one US citizen had died in the Bay of Pigs.

That is why the US authorities feigned total ignorance of the Pete Ray issue for 18 years, despite the fact that they had provided details of the downing of his aircraft and the death of its two crew right from the beginning.

It was not until near the end of 1979 that, under the Jimmy Carter administration, the US government accepted the existence of the remains of Janet Ray’s father and, on December 5 of that year, handed it over to the US authorities and to his daughter.


A few months later, in April of 1980, on occasion of the anniversary of the Bay of Pigs victory, the journal Verde Olivio (N? 16, 1980), published a testimony by Doctor José M. Miyar Barruecos, along with photos of the author, which describes the CIA air operations in the Bay of Pigs.

Doctor Miyar was an eyewitness to the facts. He was in the Australia sugar mill that morning of April 19, 1961 and remembers that it was already light, when a low-flying B-26, coming from the south, passed over, firing its machineguns on the Cuban revolutionary troops, on the sugar mill and on the command post and receiving an immediate response from several positions. In a second attack, the plane sustained another thunderous and this time lethal chain of fire, causing it to lose altitude and make an emergency landing in the middle of a canefield, close to a hut.

Doctor Miyar Barruecos recalls, in this testimonial article written almost 25 years ago, that a short while later there was a large explosion that ripped out the right motor of the B-26. The plane split apart in two, the back part engulfed in flames, giving the impression that it would have been impossible for either of the two pilots to survive, but a search of the smoking and burnt out parts revealed no sign of them.

What happened then?

Dr. Miyar Barruecos’ report continues:

"Various pieces of evidence pointed to the fact that after the emergency landing, and before the explosion and fire in the aircraft, the two pilots had time to escape.

"Comandante Fernández Mell, who directed the search operation, instructed that every effort should be made to capture them alive. That was not possible. On being discovered hiding close to the small track leading to the mill, one of the pilots fired his short-barreled 38 and was immediately killed by a burst of machine-gun fire. On being discovered, the other tried to throw a hand grenade and died instantly from bullet wounds to the thorax and right eye. The name of the latter was Thomas Willard Ray, the same man who, 18 years later, would be officially claimed by the U.S. government at the request of his family. The other pilot was named Frank Leo Baker."

Given their strategic significance, who would have been more interested in capturing the two pilots alive than the Cuban authorities? The Cuban Revolutionary Government captured more than

1,000 mercenaries from that brigade - financed, organized and armed by the United States. If the two US soldiers had not engaged in combat to resist capture and had been taken alive, the Cuban authorities would have not only obtained irrefutable proof that the Bay of Pigs was a covert CIA operation, but would also have laid bare the aggressive objectives of the highest authorities of the US Government.

The opportunistic actions of Janet Ray only go to show that she has a bad memory when it comes to recalling her lies. How could she forget that, in a manifest act of generosity, the body of her father was returned to her 25 years ago? How wretched to make up a story in order to justify her ambition and claim that the corpse was kept here in Cuba and desecrated for 18 years, and that for political ends the Cuban government displayed it so that the people could kick and spit on it. This reasoning is so deceitful it cannot stand up to any argument. If Cuba tortured the body of her father and the people kicked and spat on it, why would the island have conserved the body and attempted to return it?

At the entrance to its central office in Langley, Virginia, the CIA has engraved in marble a biblical principle: Seek the truth and the truth will set you free.

Those people need a dose of that moral value. They are devoid of ethics.ç.html

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