The origins of the battle for the soul of the CIA

In a prequel of sorts to the emerging war between President-elect Trump and the CIA, the War on the Rocks blog, reviews the latest revelations from the declassified history of the CIA’s disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in 1961.
Why is something that happened 55 years ago relevant to power politics in today’s Washington?
Because the the power struggle that followed the CIA’s first public defeat would shape and hone the interventionist mission of the secret agency. Now the CIA faces the wrath of a commander in chief who mistrusts its prerogatives and sympathizes with its adversaries in Moscow and, according to the CIA, was aided by them.

CIA Bay of Pig

This matters because those who have approached these reports and histories thus far, from the National Security Archive to the press, have tended to celebrate their victory in exposing the CIA’s embarrassment while failing to explain why agency officials feel embarrassed and what their embarrassment reveals. They have missed the most dramatic part of the CIA’s early organizational history, when Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) Allen Dulles and others debated what kind of intelligence service the agency

Source: Spy vs. Spy: The Bay of Pigs and the Battle for the Soul of the CIA


  1. ed connor says:

    Former British PM Sir Anthony Eden put it best:
    “Dull, duller, Dulles.”

  2. Charles says:

    I see you linked to an NYT story but in reading the actual report I see no evidence, just the ghost of Colin Powell waving a test tube of baking soda around.

    Please ask Malcolm Blunt to speculate on how thick CIA’s 301 file is regarding the NYT. As I see it, governmental and private sector factions continuously engage in propagandizing their own domestic constituents seeking to legitimize their institutional self-interests.

    Truth, honesty, accuracy, integrity, morality, have nothing to do with any of it.

  3. RonnieWayne says:

    So why was Dulles gone off to a speaking engagement in the Caribbean on the day of the most important operation of his career, the Bay of Pigs? He maintained plausible deniability by deferring decisions to subordinates, who he conferred with, regarding the planning and organization of the operation.
    Did he gamble the soul (it has one ?) of the CIA on JFK attacking Cuba to support the planned to fail (?) CIA invasion?

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