Wednesday, April 20, 2011


It's been fifty years since the Bay of Pigs invasion.  From "A Crime So Immense" by James K. Galbraith (hard to find, but archived in pdf form here):
One of the great travesties of the Cold War surfaced on April 29,  when the Washington Post reported the declassification in full of General Maxwell Taylor’s June, 1961 special report on the Bay of Pigs invasion.  Partial versions of this document have been available for decades.  But only now did its darkest secret spill.
Here is what Taylor reported to Kennedy.  The Russians knew the date of the invasion. (Therefore, Castro also knew.)  The CIA, headed by Allen Dulles,  knew that the Russians knew. (Therefore, they knew the invasion would fail.)  The leak did not come from the invasion force; it had happened before the Cuban exiles were themselves briefed on the date.  Kennedy was not informed. Nor, of course, were the exiles.  And knowing all this, Dulles ordered the operation forward.
Was this incompetence?  I think not.  The evidence points, rather, to treachery.
With the Cuban brigade  trapped on the beachhead, Dulles’s deputies demanded that Kennedy agree to a direct U.S. military intervention.  In the standard history, this was a call for air bombardment to take down Castro’s Air Force: Kennedy had canceled a strike just before the brigade went in, but Navy jets were gunning their engines on aircraft carriers nearby.  The histories don’t tend to mention something else: there were landing craft full of Marines offshore, waiting for the order to go in.   (How do I know?  I know someone who was on one.)
Had Kennedy caved to the CIA at that moment, then several boatloads of U.S. Marines would have joined the doomed brigade ashore.  Later, the survivors would have been paraded through Havana, alongside the captured exiles, on their way to prison.  There would have been an uproar, here in the United States, far greater than actually occurred.  In all likelihood, we would then have committed ourselves to the vast proposition of a full-scale invasion.
And, that, it would seem, was the plan.
Kennedy refused the bait.  Later, armed with Taylor’s report and its radioactive accusation, he forced the resignation of Dulles and his top lieutenant in the Bay of Pigs matter, General Charles Cabell.  But, being Kennedy, he kept his secret weapon locked up.  And only now, it appears, do we know what it was.
The CIA took its  revenge. Despite their own 1962 Inspector General’s report stating the contrary, high officials spread the myth that Kennedy himself was responsible for the failure of the invasion - that if only he had sent in the jets (and the Marines) the outcome would have been different.  Kennedy chickened out!  That became what the Miami Cubans believed, and still do believe.  But in truth, the betrayal of the Cubans came from their friend and protector, Allen Dulles and his CIA.  The exiles were his pawns, nothing more,  in a bigger, bolder game."
Dulles set up an intentional failure, a failure largely averted by Kennedy's wisdom, with the intention of creating the propaganda basis in the United States for the much larger war he sought. Kennedy's punishment for ruining Dulles' plans was to be blamed by CIA propagandists for the smaller failure.
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