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


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Kirkpatrick had to know what they would think of his work when he "faulted Dulles, Bissell and Barnes for rank incompetence".  I guess JFK agreed with at least parts of it since he fired Dulles, Bissell and Cabbell.

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I don't think Lockhart does a good job explaining this.

Its kind of difficult to exaggerate the importance of the Bay of Pigs in relation to the conflict between the Kennedys and the CIA.  One reason being that RFK was on the Taylor Commission and his examination of Dulles was  insightful.

The combination of RFK's examination and Kirkpatrick's report was compelling.  Lockhart does not give enough credit to the things that Kirkpatrick exposed. Kirkpatrick shows in detail just how ineffective the preparations were for such a large covert action and how it was almost impossible to keep it covert.  Peter Kornbluh's book on this, called Bay of Pigs Declassified, goes even further in this regard.  Castro knew it was coming, since he had spies in the Central American training camps who told him when the ships departed.  After that, Castro went onto high alert.  Contrary to what the CIA thought, there was a small police detachment at the landing site.  This is how Castro got his artillery, tanks and mortars to the front so fast.

Kirkpatrick also understood the excuse the CIA would have, since propaganda specialist and Bay of Pigs veteran Howard Hunt was working for Dulles at the time of the Taylor Commission.  Namely, the myth of the cancelled D Day air strikes.  Kirkpatrick took this issue head on.  He simply asked: let us presume the strikes had taken place and been effective. You still had 1, 400 Cuban trained exiles against a force of 35,000 regulars and 150,000 reserves supplied with Soviet arms, artillery and tanks.  And since there was no element of surprise, they were there in force very quickly.  BTW, this is the same question that RFK harpooned Dulles with during the Taylor Commission.  Dulles tried to escape by saying they could go guerilla. This was baloney.  Because they had gotten no guerilla training, and the closest mountains to hide out in were many kilometers away separated by a swamp.

This is what convinced Bobby Kennedy that Dulles and Bissell had a secret agenda.  The idea that the Kirkpatrick Report did that is really not true. RFK was an experienced lawyer by this time, so he knew what questions to ask.  And he understood when someone was lying to him. This is why when it was all over, he recommended firing Dulles, and he asked around to see if there was any member of the Dulles family still in government.  When he found out about Eleanor, she was fired also. Its also why, when Mongoose was ramped up, RFK was in the supervisor's role.  He demanded to know about every covert action and he wanted it explained in writing and in detail.  These are things Dulles did not ask for.

Concerning Helms, I think there is very little doubt that he wanted it to fail.  I once unearthed some direct evidence for this, but I did not follow it up.  It concerned him giving orders countering the blowing of bridges to hinder Castro getting his forces to the front. Lockhart also underplays the career rivalry between Bissell and Helms--they really did not like each other. The failure of the operation paved the way for Helms to get to the top.

Kennedy should have never approved such a hare brained scheme.  But in his defense, it was misrepresented to him and Dulles and Bissell would not let him bring the written diagrams home to study on his own.  IMO, if that would have happened I don't think a naval officer like JFK would have gone through with it. The rule of thumb in any amphibious operation is that you have to outnumber the enemy by a significant margin, for the very reason that you will take heavy casualties landing and traversing the beach.  In this case, it was the invading army that was heavily outnumbered.

The CIA has always been very sensitive about the disaster. And they have always tried to shift blame for the operation's utter failure to the White House.  This is what Hunt was doing. They never liked Kirkpatrick's report, which I think is pretty good considering what he was up against. It seems Pfeiffer was still fighting that battle against Kirkpatrick decades later.

Edited by James DiEugenio
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One last thing I should add.

In McNamara's book he tells us about a vote that Kennedy took over the Bay of Pigs operation.  Everyone in the room from Kennedy's staff and cabinet voted for it.  As I recall, the only dissenting voice was someone outside,  who Kennedy had brought in, Bill Fulbright.

This, I think, is one of the reasons why Kennedy decided to go around the formal channels later on in his administration and why RFK became a kind of roving ambassador at large.

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Good stuff from Jim as usual. I learn things from all of his posts.

Arleigh Burke, who played a role in the planning for the Bay of Pigs, did something different the following year. He directed and co-founded the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), the spooky Georgetown University think tank that eventually sheltered many of the neocons before, during and after the Reagan administration.

Burke's co-secretary at that institute was David Abshire, the son-in-law of Admiral George Anderson, who was later in charge of the US blockade of Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

And therein seems to lie a tale. CSIS paid for author James Allen Smith to write a commemorative history of CSIS for its 30th anniversary. Smith did this (the book is called STRATEGIC CALLING) and in the volume Smith noted that, after CSIS opened its doors on September 4th 1962, Burke and Abshire decided they wanted to hold a big conference to put CSIS on the map and gather together various right-wing, military and government folk who disagreed with the directions the Kennedy administration was going with the Cold War, so all those people could get together, have a big chat and see who thought what. Richard Ware (later an Assistant Secretary of Defence in the Nixon administration) shelled out $40,000 c/o the organisation he ran, the Relm Foundation, to pay for the CSIS conference. Burke and Abshire then began contacting all the people that they wanted to attend, and they formed an advisory board at CSIS. Gerald Ford was immediately made a member of that CSIS advisory board.

According to the CSIS biography, the planning among the hawks for a big conference continued "through the darkest days of the Cuban Missile Crisis", which I guess shows a lot of dedication towards that particular conference. The conference was held in late January 1963, and the two headline speakers were Senator Henry Jackson, and Walt Rostow. Kissinger also showed up, along with Stefan Possony, an anti-communist hawk who had authored studies on psychological warfare for the OSS and the CIA. A couple of dozen other speakers gave speeches - James R. Schlesinger attended as an economist - and the whole conference was transcribed, with various discussion panels recorded and noted down. CSIS intended the whole conference to be published as a book - something they've done serially since then, with hundreds of books and publications now to their name. The book was intended to act as guide for government, intellectuals and the public as to where CSIS thought the Cold War, the economy, and the country should be going. In that respect, as often happens with the guys at CSIS, things ran smoothly for them, as they ultimately published the book - which runs nearly a thousand pages - nine days after JFK was murdered in Dallas. 

Edited by Anthony Thorne
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3 hours ago, Anthony Thorne said:

According to the CSIS biography . . . The conference was held in late January 1963, and . . . Kissinger also showed up

Does it say anything about who or what he was representing, or if he was just there as an individual?  Trying to remember what he was doing back then.  

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The contents listing I saw a week ago but can’t currently locate - it will turn up again - indicated that Kissinger gave a talk there. A couple of the Joint Chiefs were also present. Some of the names alongside Kissinger at the conference - nuclear strategists Herman Khan (who later founded the Hudson Institute), Edward Teller and Thomas Schelling, Herbert Dinerstein (later at RAND), longtime CIA adviser Kurt L. London, Arnold Wolfers, W. Glenn Campbell (founder of the Hoover Institute), William R. Kinter, Robert Strausz-Hupe, Arnold Wolfers, James D. Atkinson, Frank N. Trager - later noted as a ‘strong supporter of the Vietnam war’ - economists Otto Eckstein, Murray Weidenbaum and Schlesinger. The full list of attendees was much longer than this. The book of the conference was titled NATIONAL SECURITY: POLITICAL, MILITARY AND ECONOMIC STRATEGIES IN THE DECADE AHEAD, and from the names I’ve cited so far there are a number of strident conservatives and anticommunists who hated detente. W. Glenn Campbell’s closing talk was titled ‘Assuring the primacy of national security’, which sounds typical of some of the talks given. When the virus goes and libraries reopen again I plan to have a closer look at the book, as the discussion sessions that get transcribed in these volumes often have a lot of gems you won’t find elsewhere. And I’m intrigued that a veteran CIA figure, London, was in attendance. He was an advisor to the CIA on Soviet matters.

Not too long after the conference at Georgetown U., Eleanor Dulles took up residence at the same University.

EDIT - Here we go. Kissinger gave a talk entitled ‘NATO’s Nuclear Dilemma’. 
 

https://www.worldcat.org/title/national-security-political-military-and-economic-strategies-in-the-decade-ahead/oclc/552191

 

Edited by Anthony Thorne
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Thanks Tony.

 

I had never heard of that conference.  Man what a roster.  I think Burke was out of the administration by then, wasn't he?  Rostow was there?  Henry Jackson was a keynoter?    Figures, he was kind of the inverse of JFK in the Democratic Party on foreign policy.

Do you know how much 40K would be today?  Somebody was really interested in backing that conference and getting all those people under one roof.

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Jim. I agree. Coming at the time that it did, with the people involved, it’s quite a conference. When the university libraries reopen (which could be next year) I’ll be having a look at the book, as I’m curious to see what they had to talk about.

i had also never heard of the conference until recently. But I found out the info I outlined above by digging into CSIS, and working backwards.

Fred Landis wrote an eye opening article on CSIS for Inquiry magazine in the late 70’s - ‘Georgetown’s Ivory Tower for Old Spooks’ - and it’s quite a read. There’s an excerpt online here

https://www.cia.gov/library/readingroom/docs/CIA-RDP88-01315R000200020001-3.pdf

and from memory the full version can also be found online somewhere. If I can find it again I’ll link it.

 

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At one point in the late 70's, CSIS sent a working group to Italy. They had another conference there and, from memory, basically advocated for anything up to a coup to stop the Communists taking power. 

And this chunk of the Militarist Monitor article on the group sums up how bad things eventually got with CSIS. They had their fingers in everything.

 

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The CSIS focus on national security and "advancing the global interests" of the U.S. made it a favorite of the Reagan administration. The center specializes in studies of crisis management, with an emphasis on how the U.S. should manage crises in other countries. There is little question that it influenced policy during the Reagan administration. (2) For example, the CSIS group on Strategy and Arms Control, headed by Robert Kupperman, held regular discussions on the role of arms control in the prevention of nuclear war, alternative approaches to arms control negotiations, and strengths and weaknesses of the U.S. deterrence posture. These discussions were attended by Rep. Les Aspin, chair of the House Armed Services Committee, Sen. Jeff Bingaman from the Senate Armed Services Committee, and chief of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, Kenneth Adelman. (1) A recent article in the Journal of Commerce notes that CSIS has sent an unsolicited suggestion to the Bush administration promoting the creation of an assistant to the president to integrate international economic policy with domestic and other foreign policies. (8)

CSIS activities are centered around media promotion of its conservative, anticommunist policies and strategies. In 1985, the Center logged in 4,100 media appearances. It looks upon international incidents as opportunities to present its analyses and viewpoints to the public. (2) For example, during the three days after the U.S. bombing of Libya, three CSIS fellows appeared on the McNeil-Lehrer News Hour. The director of the CSIS Soviet program appeared on ABC, NBC, and McNeil-Lehrer news programs and on ABC’s "Nightline."(2) Robert H. Kupperman, CSIS director of science and technology, appeared on BBC, CBS "Nightwatch," CNN, Natl Public Radio and was quoted in a number of national weekly news magazines. (2) During the six weeks following the bombing, CSIS fellows had a total of 650 media contacts presenting their expertise and analysis to the public. (2)

A 1985 article from UPI cites Zbigniew Brzezinski and Robert Kupperman of CSIS among the "experts" on terrorism who placed the blame for the attempted assassination of the Pope in 1981 on the Soviets. (4)

The CSIS staff are regularly used by the British media for "independent" comment on international affairs. In 1988, Michael Ledeen, who was heavily involved in the Iran-Contra affair, was interviewed as a CSIS expert on the Middle East. (9)

In 1985, two CSIS scholars, Georges A. Fauriol and Eva Loser, released a background report on the Guatemalan presidential elections. The study avoided details about the Guatemalan government atrocities, citing a few human rights violations, but blaming them on the guerilla movement. The report credited General Efrain Rios Montt’s regime–which tallied 15,000 civilian deaths in 17 months–with "revitalization of the rural environment."(5) In 1988, CSIS released another Fauriol study,"The Third Century: U.S. Latin American Policy Choices for the 1990s." This study presents a more sophisticated overview of the political situation than earlier CSIS studies. It suggests diplomatic solutions, but retains the possibility of intervention, if needed. (37)

CSIS produces a large volume of books and reports in the areas of defense, economics and energy, governance, national and international security, refugee policy, and regional studies. The latter includes Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Latin America, the USSR and Eastern Europe, and Western Europe and the NATO Alliance. (3) The quality of scholarship in the CSIS documents has been questioned. A Washington Post article quotes one of the Institute’s own scholars as saying in reference to CSIS publications,"I was appalled by the complete lack of scholarship."(2)

During his administration, President Reagan chose CSIS as a favorite site for speeches attacking those who opposed his plans for aid to the Nicaraguan contras. (2) In return, CSIS became a major media defender of the administration and ofparticipants in the Iran-Contra affair. George Carver of CSIS stated on the McNeil-Lehrer News Hour that the "23-count indictment of North et. al. doesn’t allege the violation of a single criminal statute–that it isn’t a criminal charge but rather is a bill of attainder."(7)

CSIS has become institutionalized in the arena of public policy. (2) Not only do numerous members of Congress sit on its advisory board, but it also gives frequent seminars, briefings, and colloquia to members of Congress on topical issues. (1,2) CSIS scholars are often requested to testify formally before Congress. In 1987, James Schlesinger, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Amos A. Jordan, David M. Abshire and Robert Hunter testified before the Senate Armed Services and Senate Foreign Relations committees on the strategic consequences of U.S. foreign policy choices. (1)

Government Connections: Admiral Thomas Moorer (ret. ) was head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a member of Team B, a group assembled in the mid-1970s by then-CIA director George Bush to study Soviet military capabilities and intentions. The Team B findings laid the foundation for the revitalization of the Committee on the Present Danger. (11)

Richard V. Allen served on President Richard Nixon’s foreign security staff. (11) He resigned from government to join Overseas Companies of Portugal where he became the Washington advocate for white rule in South Africa. He later became involved in the Robert Vesco investment scandal. (11) Allen became President Reagan’s first National Security Adviser and in that position was a core member of the group that shaped foreign policy for the administration. (11) Over a series of rather murky events that again tarnished his image, Allen lost his job as National Security Adviser. However, he remained in the administration as a member of the Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. (11)

 

 

But this letter below (click on it to see the names more clearly) shows you what a force they eventually became. Beyond the content of the letter - Frederick Seitz, the guy cited in MERCHANTS OF DOUBT as a key figure in propagating global warming denial, asks a prestigious scientist to join a panel with a future CIA head to advocate for increased defense spending - the letter shows the CSIS membership at the beginning of the Reagan administration. It's a who's who. Ray Cline is there, with Alexander Haig as a Vice Chair, and at the bottom you get an additional gang of researchers, including both of the Wohlstetters, and the onetime head of Israeli military intelligence (Yariv). These guys meant business.

Side note - in the history of the United States, there have been just a handful of commissions on dealing with government secrecy, and two of them were run by figures mentioned in the text of the letter, Seitz in the early 70's, and Woolsey in the early 90's with the Joint Security Commission. The third guy in the letter, Joshua Lederberg, joined the board of Procter and Gamble with Dick Cheney and spent the 90's asking for increased bioterrorism funding.

Robert Kupperman, cited in the text I quoted above, was originally Assistant Director at the Office of Emergency Preparedness during the Johnson administration. He took his experience with running crisis drills there to CSIS at the beginning of the 80's, and CSIS really took them to heart. For the next twenty years, the CSIS guys would run panels simulating everything from global terrorism to anthrax attacks to financial meltdowns, with Woolsey frequently playing the President. 

I find it quite something that this group formed its mind-set during the Cuban Missile Crisis, brought Gerald Ford in, immediately made a point of gathering Joint Chiefs, hawks and CIA figures at a conference, then published a massive guidebook for government in the fortnight between Kennedy's death and the formation of the Warren Commission.

 

 

LEDERBERG LETTER.png

Edited by Anthony Thorne
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Its really something how Kennedy's administration incited the rightwing into drastic measures.

Not nuking Cuba, and trying for detente were that anathema to them.

As Kissinger insisted in those nutty taped calls with Nixon, "This is a conservative country."  And they made sure it was. 4,100 media appearances!  Carver was a regular on the PBS news hour.

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I think it would be a good article too. I want to read the book of the conference before I write about it further. There’s probably enough rope in that book for the more strident contributors to hang themselves, figuratively speaking.

Lederberg is quite a guy and had a hand in putting together a lot of the neocon heavy conferences through the late 80’s and into the 90’s.

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If CSIS was formed in September 1962 and their first conference was in January 1963, given their overall outlook on foreign policy and peace initiatives...  Might some of their members have agreed privately with some of the top members of the Council on Foreign Relations that something needed to be done about JFK?

If i remember right Rostow was Yale but not east coast establishment, seems like he might have been CFR?   

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