The 1960s

The Bay of Pigs (1961)

T - Z

[Taylor, Maxwell D.] Ed., Luis Aguilar. Operation Zapata: The "Ultra-sensitive" Report and Testimony of the Board of Inquiry on the Bay of Pigs. Frederick, MD: University Publications of America, 1981.

This is the sanitized version of the report made to President Kennedy by Gen. Maxwell Taylor's Board of Inquiry (with Gen. Taylor, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, Chief of Naval Operations Arleigh Burke, and DCI Allen Dulles).

See also, Peter Kornbluh, ed., "The ULTRASENSITIVE Bay of Pigs: Newly Released Portions of Taylor Commission Report Provide Critical New Details on Operation Zapata," National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 29, 3 May 2000, at: http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB29/index.html. "While the full report of the Taylor Commission is too long to reproduce here, this Electronic Briefing Book provides excerpted passages from eight key documents, substantial portions of which were previously unavailable in the censored versions of the report released in 1977 and 1986."

Thomas, Ronald C., Jr. "Influences on Decisionmaking at the Bay of Pigs." International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 3, no. 4 (Winter 1989): 537-548.

The subject here is the "extent to which career professionals in the intelligence and diplomatic communities can and did influence presidential decisionmaking at the agenda-building stage.... Foreign policy, by virtue of its non-incremental, bolder nature, may be more vulnerable to pressures from bureaucratic and political contexts. A good bureaucratic operator, like Richard Bissell, would perhaps be more likely to find success with sweeping action plans in the foreign policy arena than in domestic issue areas, where progress is incremental and more measured."

See "Reader's Forum" response by Samuel Halpern, International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 4, no. 3 (Fall 1990): 415-419. Halpern's major criticism is that Thomas failed to use the Taylor Commission report and other primary sources, and therefore produced factual errors. A secondary criticism is "inaccurate use of source material."

Triay, Victor Andres. Bay Of Pigs: An Oral History of Brigade 2506. Gainesville, FL: University of Florida Press, 2001.

U.S. Department of State. Office of the Historian. Gen. ed., David S. Patterson. Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961-1963.

Vol. X. Ed., Louis J. Smith. Cuba, 1961-1962. Washington, DC: GPO, 1997. [Available at: http://www.state.gov/www/about_state/history/frusX/index.html]

Vandenbroucke, Lucien S. Perilous Options: Special Operations as an Instrument of U.S. Foreign Policy. New York: Oxford University, 1993. E8404V36

Cohen, FA 73.2 (Mar.-Apr. 1994), calls this a "commendable study of ... the Bay of Pigs, the Son Tay raid, the Mayaguez rescue and the Desert One fiasco.... Readers ... may set aside the didactic concluding chapter and content themselves with four well-researched cases."

According to Immerman, AHR 100.1, "Vandenbroucke identifies common explanations for the outcomes [of his four cases]. These include faulty intelligence, poor interagency and interservice cooperation and coordination, a decision making system plagued by flawed advice and wishful thinking, and micromanagement by both civilian and military leaders far removed from the theater of operations.... This is a suggestive study, but asking broader questions would have made it more compelling."

Hilsman, PSQ 109.4, refers to the author's "calm gathering of the facts" and "convincing analysis." The author "shows that only one of the four principal special operations in the last thirty years was justified." The "book contains only a few minor errors." For example, it was the Soviets, not Castro, who took the initiative in placing Soviet missiles in Cuba. "More serious is the author's overall conclusion that ... the United States should put more emphasis on espionage.... But the fact is that ... espionage has been successful only in ferreting out technical and scientific secrets and almost never plans for offensives and the like."

[Warren, Ward W.] "Inspector General: Master of All He Surveys." Periscope 22, no. 2 (1998): 6-7.

Warren's essay assessing the Inspector General's report on the Bay of Pigs operation deserves to have appeared in a forum with wider dissemination than the house organ of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers. Warren writes directly to the point, not to justify mistakes that were made, but to balance the wealth of misanalysis that has accompanied the release of the report. As Warren points out, "the report and its author do not represent the vessel of absolute truth.... The Bay of Pigs was a CIA blunder, but Kirkpatrick's report is a misleading description of the causes and the lessons of that blunder." Text of Warren's essay is available by clicking here.

A letter from Tom Polgar, Periscope 22.3, takes issues with Warren's assessment of the IG report. To Polgar "[t]he report was accurate in all its essential elements.... Kirkpatrick's report highlighted the errors of omission and of commission which continued to plague CIA's Cuban operations."

Weiner, Tim. "C.I.A. Bares Own Bungling in Bay of Pigs Report." New York Times, 22 Feb. 1998 [http://www.nytimes.com].

The CIA has released a 36-year-old internal report on the Bay of Pigs operation, written by the CIA's inspector general, Lyman Kirkpatrick, after a six-month investigation. The 150-page document, entitled "The Inspector General's Survey of the Cuban Operation," is harshly critical of the Agency in its management of the abortive invasion of Castro's Cuba. The release came in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by the National Security Archive.

Excerpts from the report state that: "The agency committed at least four extremely serious mistakes in planning:

"a. Failure to subject the project, especially in its latter frenzied stages, to a cold and objective appraisal by the best operating talent available, particularly by those not involved in the operation, such as the Chief of Operations and the chiefs of the Senior Staffs. Had this been done, the two following mistakes (b and c, below) might have been avoided.

"b. Failure to advise the president, at an appropriate time, that success had become dubious and to recommend that the operation be therefore canceled and that the problem of unseating Castro be restudied.

"c. Failure to recognize that the project had become overt and that the military effort had become too large to be handled by the agency alone.

"d. Failure to reduce successive project plans to formal papers and to leave copies of them with the president and his advisers and to request specific written approval and confirmation thereof."

Wyden, Peter. Bay of Pigs: The Untold Story. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1979. London: Jonathan Cape, 1979.

Pforzheimer notes that although critical of the CIA, the book has its supporters. Overall, Wyden's work "is flawed by errors" and should be approached "with circumspection." Constantinides finds that the "force of momentum in operations and self-fulfillment in planning, flaws in security[] and intelligence estimates are highlighted.... Though there are good looks into CIA thinking, it cannot be said Wyden explored this aspect thoroughly."

To Bohning, The Castro Obsession (2005), this work "remains the most thorough and authoritative account of the many treatises available" (p. 14). If there is a flaw to this "otherwise excellent book," it is the author's "obvious pique with [Col. Jack] Hawkins for refusing to discuss the operation" (p. 18).

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