The cover of a commemorative album about the Cuban Revolution published in Havana in 1959
Cuba celebrates the 60th anniversary of the beginning of its revolution on July 26, 1953. Later this year America will commemorate the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination on November 22, 1963,
The events are ancient but linked. The connection between Cuba’s revolution and the death of the 35th American president remains a live issue in the political culture of both countries.
The assassination of JFK is one reason why this conflict between the United States and Cuba endures to this day.
I recently spoke with S.T. Patrick on the Midnight Writer News podcast, about the CIA during the Kennedy era, with particular emphasis on the role of James Angleton in the events leading up to the assassination. Read more
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.
Did the Soviets and Cubans know the date and time of the invasion in advance? If yes, is it also true Allen Dulles knew the mission was compromised and went ahead regardless?
Answer: The Cubans knew the invasion was coming but they did not know the date and time. There was no high-level leak, as the movie implies. And, no, Allen Dulles did not know the Bay of Pigs invasion was going to fail.
“Harvey approved the dispatch of six three-man teams to Cuba, on either October 21, or 22, 1962, as the missile crisis heated up. The missions were launched at the specific request of the Pentagon, as part of the standing interagency Command Relationship Agreement. The military was reckoning with an invasion of Cuba by air and sea; it’s forces needed support on the ground to help the landings. Harvey did what was right operationally….the climax came at a top-drawer meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House on October 26….Harvey chose to tell the Kennedy brothers what he thought of them and their handling of the situation. “If you hadn’t fucked up the Bay of Pigs, we wouldn’t be in this fucking mess!”
“If the CIA did find out what we were doing [talks toward normalizing relations with Cuba], this would have trickled down to the lower echelon of activists, and Cuban exiles, and the more gung-ho CIA people who had been involved since the Bay of Pigs…. Read more
“It’s possible. It could happen in this country, but the conditions would have to be just right. If, for example, the country had a young President, and he had a Bay of Pigs, there would be a certain uneasiness. Maybe the military would do a little criticizing behind his back, but this would be written off as the usual military dissatisfaction with civilian control.”
In face of a persistent legal challenge from the National Security Archive, the CIA continues to resist releasing an internal history of the failed invasion at the Bay of Pigs more than a half century ago. The struggle for Volume 5, as the history is known, is an epic legal contest
Why the secrecy about something that happened so long ago?
The 42nd anniversary of the Watergate burglary reminded me of Richard Nixon’s obsession with the “whole of Bay of Pigs thing.”
H.R. Haldeman, White House chief of staff for Nixon, wrote in his memoirs that he had come to the conclusion that his boss used the phrase as a kind of coded reference to the assassination of President Kennedy.
A tape of a conversation between Nixon and CIA director Richard Helms in October 1971 lends credence to the notion. Listen to the tape, published online by Luke A. Nichter, a history professor at Texas A&M University.
Nixon, it is clear, was interested in what he called the ‘Who Shot John?’ angle.
In response to the June 9 post about memories of the CIA in Miami, JFK Facts contributor Arnaldo Fernandez sent this photo of a group of Cuban frogmen shortly before the invasion at the Bay of Pigs. Read more
Matt Taylor of Vice nails the larger point about the court decision sparing the CIA from embarrassment on Capitol Hill and in Havana: “The intelligence community has arguably never been as important or powerful as it is now…”
In the wake of a federal appellate court’s obtuse decision saving the CIA from embarrassment over ancient report on the agency’s epic fail at the Bay of Pigs 50 years ago, it is worth recalling the U.S. government’s latest botched covert action in Cuba.
The first installment only covers the events of 1961. From the Bay of Pigs fiasco to the firing of Allen Dulles seven months later, Horne captures JFK’s disillusionment with the limited policy choices that the hawks of the Pentagon and the CIA were offering him.