JMWAVE or JM/WAVE or JM WAVE was the codename for a major secret United States covert operations and intelligence gathering station operated by the Central Intelligence Agency from 1961 until 1968. It was headquartered in Building 25[1] at the former Naval Air Station Richmond, an airship base in Miami, about 12 miles south of the main campus of the University of Miami on what is the university's present-day South Campus.

JMWAVE buildings in Miami, c. 1961, from CIA archives

The intelligence facility was also referred to as the CIA's "Miami Station" or "Wave Station."[2][3][4][5][6]

History edit

JMWAVE began as the operations center for Task Force W, the CIA's unit dedicated to Operation Mongoose,[3][7][8] a U.S. effort to overthrow Fidel Castro's Communist government in Cuba. JMWAVE was also active in some form during the failed U.S.-sponsored Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in April 1961.[9] The JMWAVE operation grew out of an earlier fledgling CIA office in Coral Gables.[2]

The station's activities escalated, reaching their peak in late 1962 and early 1963 around the Cuban Missile Crisis. Under Theodore Shackley's leadership from 1962 to 1965, JMWAVE grew to be the largest CIA station in the world outside of the organization's headquarters in Langley, Virginia, with 300 to 400 professional operatives and possibly including about 100 based in Cuba and an estimated 15,000 anti-Castro Cuban exiles on its payroll. The CIA was one of Miami's largest employers during this period. Exiles were trained in commando tactics, espionage and seamanship and the station supported numerous exile raids on Cuba.[2][3][10]

The main front company for JMWAVE was "Zenith Technical Enterprises, Inc." In addition, about 300 to 400 other front companies were created throughout South Florida with a large range of safe houses, cover businesses, and other properties. With an annual budget of approximately US$50 million (in 1960s dollars; US$50 million in 1962 dollars are worth US$403 million in 2017 dollars (PPP)[11]), the station had a major impact on the economy of South Florida, creating a local economic boom, particularly in the real estate, banking, and certain manufacturing sectors. It also operated a fleet of aircraft and boats that was the third-largest navy in the Caribbean at the time after the U.S. Navy and the Cuban Revolutionary Navy. JMWAVE's activities were so widespread that they became an open secret amongst local Florida government and law enforcement agencies.[2][3]

On June 26, 1964, Look magazine published an exposé by David Wise and Thomas B. Ross which revealed that Zenith was a CIA front. University of Miami authorities denied knowledge of the CIA operation, though Shackley claimed privately that University President Henry King Stanford was fully aware of it, and JMWAVE changed its main front company name from Zenith to Melmar Corporation.[2]

By 1968, JMWAVE became increasingly obsolete, and concerns emerged that the CIA station would become a public embarrassment to the University of Miami. Consequently, it was deactivated and replaced with a substantially smaller station at Miami Beach.[2]

As of 2004, the facilities on the Richmond Naval Air Station site were still used by several U.S. government agencies, including the CIA's Foreign Broadcast Information Service, the United States Air Force, and the United States Army. Several original JMWAVE buildings are still standing. As of 2007, a local government effort was focused on converting Building 25 to a military museum and memorial.[3][12][13]

References edit

  1. ^ At 25°37′13″N 80°23′56″W / 25.6202°N 80.3990°W / 25.6202; -80.3990
  2. ^ a b c d e f The Castro Obsession: U.S. Covert Operations in Cuba, 1959-1965, Don Bohning, Potomac Books, 2005, ISBN 1-57488-675-4
  3. ^ a b c d e Cold War in South Florida: Historic Resource Study, Steven Hach (ed. Jennifer Dickey), National Park Service Southeast Regional Office, U.S. Department of the Interior, October 2004
  4. ^ "Twilight of the Assassins", Ann Louise Bardach, The Atlantic Monthly, November 2006
  5. ^ South Campus history page Archived 2009-05-08 at the Wayback Machine, University of Miami Libraries, accessed Jan. 24 2007. The first photograph on the page apparently shows Building 25 in 1946.
  6. ^ "South Campus site formerly home to spies, surveillance Archived 2007-01-24 at the Wayback Machine", Walyce Almeida, The Hurricane (University of Miami student newspaper), December 1, 2006
  7. ^ Spymaster: My Life in the CIA, Theodore G. Shackley, 2005, Brassey's, ISBN 1-57488-915-X
  8. ^ National Security Archives interview with Samuel Halpern, George Washington University, first broadcast Nov. 29 1998 on CNN
  9. ^ Official History of the Bay of Pigs Archived 2007-09-30 at the Wayback Machine (Vol. I excerpt), Jack Pfeiffer, CIA, unpublished, excerpt released in 1997/98 under CIA Historical Review Program, CIA Freedom of Information Act database
  10. ^ "How the Kennedys hoped to take down Castro" (review of Bohning's book), Joseph C. Goulden, Washington Times, July 24, 2005
  11. ^ historical currency converter, accessed Jan. 24 2007
  12. ^ Press release Archived 2006-10-12 at the Wayback Machine, October 5, 2004, Miami-Dade County
  13. ^ Richmond Naval Air Station Relocation and Rehabilitation[permanent dead link], Miami-Dade County Building Better Communities website, accessed Jan. 27 2007