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That whole "canceled" air strikes thing...


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Unfortunately it becomes quite sad when you dig into the details of how the JCS was were briefed, what their staff assessments say and how little response the CIA made.  For that matter Burke himself produced a list of over one hundred operational questions/issues-  and at best CIA responded to only a handful.

After their verbal briefings the JCS staff did do assessments but primarily of two aspects - the size and composition of the force (would the ships and transport craft be sufficient to land it) and the logistics of supplying and sustaining the  beachead/lodgement.  They judged that it could be landed and the lodgement held for a short time. But it could not sustain itself without a major uprising and a local influx of thousands of resistance fighters to supplement the Brigade and interdict ongoing Cuban attacks. They asserted the uprising point several times. That was brought up during several meetings in which the senior CIA personnel apparently made no comment at all.

Their other main point was that they felt the logistics were very questionable - that becomes  especially true when you delve into the actual status of the Brigade's air arm and the ratio of certified pilots to aircraft.  That concern began to come very real as early as the second day on the beach. 

In separate comments the JCS air staff warned about the need for total air cover, stating that even a single Cuban aircraft operating over the beach could sink one or more exposed supply ships and literally doom the effort due to the logistics issues - a most accurate warning.

But they never even got as far as the operational details such as communications, frequency matching, forward air control or one of the biggest issues - the fact that no beachmasters experienced in amphibious landings were with the force - which as you point out is one of the most challenging of any military actions.

As it was there were officially no amphibious ops personnel with the force - the fact that Bissell sent in Lynch and Robertson in with the boats (against JFK's instructions that no American's would participate) did put some experience in play, but it was literally miraculous that the Cuban volunteers were able to perform the operation as well as they did and move the tanks, trucks and heavy weapons onto the beach (the landing itself was quite complex, with three separate landing zones separated by several miles) even though that took far longer than planned. 

Without digging into the details its really hard to comprehend how nasty it all was - then again the whole Cuba project was that way and its first incarnation had totally failed by October the previous year.

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Dennis,

I just reread this:

"The peculiar truth may be that the result Kennedy got was the very best he could have desired, despite the obvious distress the failure caused him. If he achieved this result accidentally, then he was lucky. If he achieved it intentionally-- if, that is, he sent the brigade into Cuba expecting, even wanting, it to fail--then he deserves a place as one of the most coldly calculating presidents in history. Whichever is true--and there is really no way to know for sure--John Kennedy, in the end, managed to have his cake and eat it, too." p395

This is one of the reasons I did not read this book.  I did not know who this guy was.  Now I do.

Anyone who studies the Zapata operation and its aftermath knows that JFK went through a period of mild depression after the Bay of Pigs.  His friends and family had never seen him so distraught.  Usually a pretty cool and confident figure, he now said that this had been "The worst experience of my life." (Kornbluh, p. 3) And also, "How could I have been so stupid as to let them proceed?" (ibid, p. 1)

He understood that there was no surprise at Playa Giron and that there were no defectors.  In fact, there was a small militia unit there of about 12 men.  And they started firing on the invaders just about when the flares went up over the beach.  And not one defector came to their aid.  This is why Kennedy convened the White House inquiry and read Kirkpatrick's report.  He realized that he had been snookered. And that is why he terminated the guys he thought had played him. The idea that he sent those guys in knowing they would fail is preposterous in light of those facts.

Edited by James DiEugenio
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5 hours ago, James DiEugenio said:

Dennis,

I just reread this:

"The peculiar truth may be that the result Kennedy got was the very best he could have desired, despite the obvious distress the failure caused him. If he achieved this result accidentally, then he was lucky. If he achieved it intentionally-- if, that is, he sent the brigade into Cuba expecting, even wanting, it to fail--then he deserves a place as one of the most coldly calculating presidents in history. Whichever is true--and there is really no way to know for sure--John Kennedy, in the end, managed to have his cake and eat it, too." p395

This is one of the reasons I did not read this book.  I did not know who this guy was.  Now I do.

Anyone who studies the Zapata operation and its aftermath knows that JFK went through a period of mild depression after the Bay of Pigs.  His friends and family had never seen him so distraught.  Usually a pretty cool and confident figure, he now said that this had been "The worst experience of my life." (Kornbluh, p. 3) And also, "How could I have been so stupid as to let them proceed?" (ibid, p. 1)

He understood that there was no surprise at Playa Giron and that there were no defectors.  In fact, there was a small militia unit there of about 12 men.  And they started firing on the invaders just about when the flares went up over the beach.  And not one defector came to their aid.  This is why Kennedy convened the White House inquiry and read Kirkpatrick's report.  He realized that he had been snookered. And that is why he terminated the guys he thought had played him. The idea that he sent those guys in knowing they would fail is preposterous in light of those facts.

I agree with you from what I have read, its absurd to suggest anything other than JFK felt played and setup over the BOP. 

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On 9/12/2020 at 4:42 PM, James DiEugenio said:

This is one of the reasons I did not read this book.  I did not know who this guy was.  Now I do.

Jim, as bad as that is, the rest of the book is at least as bad. I'm trying to find time to write a long review for Amazon considering the book somehow is close to a 5 star rating. Among the other comical bits, he wrote that anyone who says JFK was pulling out of Vietnam has to contend with the fact that there were 16,000 "troops" there when he left. Not only does he not differentiate troops from advisers, but he never mentions NSAM 263 or the SEC-DEF conference. Another whopper was his treatment of the Drain memo. Rasenberger tries to say that a joint CIA/DOD action only meant that the CIA needed supplies and logistical support from DOD, not their actual tactical involvement. I could go on and on, somehow he never mentions the back channel at all or Operation 40 either. This allowed him to strongly imply that JFK approved the Castro assassination plots and also distance the Anti-Castro hatred of JFK. Regarding the assassination itself, I'll just quote him. "...but there is little doubt (as the author Gus Russo, among others, has established) that Oswald believed he was doing the Cubans a favor."

I don't know how you ever wrote that 10 part series on Reclaiming History, infinite kudos for that.

 

Larry, unfortunately I missed that program and it seems you have to be a paid member to access archived content. But I'm working my way through your blog and have ordered the book as well. Thank you.

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Dennis, actually Chuck Ochelli had to cancel last weeks show on In Denial and in particular on JFK and the Bay of Pigs due to health problems;  we will reschedule as soon as he is feeling up to it. 

Just a note on the Castro assassinations, the first memo proposing assassination came from inside the CIA before the first Cuba Projet even began - J.C. King was a very early proponent.  The order for the poison came from Bissell in mid-1960 so JFK obviously had nothing to do with that...the whole project was just so dysfunctional that they never got around to trying to deliver it for months.  The thought that JFK was even aware of it is ridiculous and the same can be said for the series of sniper attack plans generated within the Cuba project.  When the original Cuba Project plan totally failed by the end of October, Bissell began to get desperate and turned to a host of new measures strictly at his own initiative. JFK had nothing to do with those actions.

 

 

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On 9/11/2020 at 7:13 PM, Larry Hancock said:

Oh, on the plans thing...not only was JFK not given anything in writing, neither were the Joint Chiefs given detailed plans for their study; one of their specific complaints was that they had virtually nothing in writing and their analysis had to be made almost entirely from limited verbal briefings by CIA staff.

 

On 9/11/2020 at 9:07 PM, James DiEugenio said:

That last one is almost funny.  The JCS gave its approval without ever looking at written plans?

In an amphibious assault.  Which is one of the most difficult and complicated military operations there is.

 

On 9/12/2020 at 5:44 AM, Larry Hancock said:

Unfortunately it becomes quite sad when you dig into the details of how the JCS was were briefed, what their staff assessments say and how little response the CIA made.

 

     To drive the point of the Central Intelligence Agency not allowing the Joint Chiefs of Staff see any of the planning elements on paper, and only verbally relaying information in the vaguest terminology, in regards to the invasion task force at Zapata landing, the following is a direct quote from the 01 January 1961 Memorandum for the Record about the very JCS meeting that Mr. Hancock makes reference to (the author of the memorandum was CIA focal-point officer and Chief of Western Hemisphere, Cuban Operations Branch, United States Army Col. Richard Dale Drain, a veteran of the CIA's "Project Grudge" psyop) :

 

QUOTE — "... C/WH/4 Jake Esterline attends a briefing given by Colonel Jack Hawkins and members of the [deleted] PM Section to Deputy Director of Central Intelligence, Admiral Wright, General Bull, and General Barnes in preparation for the January 32 briefing of designees of the Chairman of the JCS. The briefing, presented in a special CIA Bay of Pigs task force 'war room,' emphasizes that "the proposed strike could be conducted with no overt U.S. military support other than the provision of one LSD (landing ship dock)." It was also emphasized that the 'estimate of the likelihood of success was very high in terms of staying in the initial objective area long enough and in sufficient control to permit introduction of a 'Provisional Government' and provide a rationale for the subsequent employment of overt military force, if desired'..."  — END QUOTE.

 

Really examine what has been said here, before the CIA trained terrorists, "Brigada Asalto 2506", hit the beach and got decimated, not only was the Joint Chiefs of Staff not briefed in person, but the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, United States Army General Lyman Louis Lemnitzer, assigned select members of the JCS to be briefed in a closed meeting controlled by the an unknown element of the CIA's Paramilitary Section of USAF General Charles Pearre Cabell's personal staff!

I mean, talk about controlling the most miniscule details of the plot! And if to drive your point Mr. DiEugenio even further about the absurdity of the whole chain of command, in terms of briefing, look who the CIA tasked to brief the "...designees of the Chairman..."

The Col. Drain memo mentions an "...Admiral Wright...", a "...General Bull..." and a one "...General Barnes..." as the men who were in the room with CIA Chief of Western Hemisphere, Cuba Branch, Jacob Donald Esterline & United States Marine Corps CIA focal-point officer, Chief of Paramilitary Operations Western Hemisphere Division Branch, Col. Jack L. Hawkins (the two men who expressed their desire to quit the operation on the grounds that it was not militarily feasible directly to DDP Richard M. Bissell, who somehow convinced them both to stay on board the sinking ship).

One might ask who those three command level officers were.

Well, for starters, they were all retired from the United States military at the moment of the 01 JAN 1961 meeting, so the use of their ranks is a bit of a misnomer.

The "...General Barnes..." that is referenced is United States Air Force Lt. Gen. Earl Walter Barnes, who at the time was a senior staff officer to the CIA's National Estimates Board, and was formally the Deputy Commander of Tactical Air Command at Langley Air Force Base (the CIA's home base for air operations), USAF representative to the Military Studies and Evaluations Division, Weapons Systems Evaluation Group (which oversaw the examination of captured foreign weaponry) and before he joined the CIA, was USAF Chief of Staff, Far East Command, at Tokyo, Japan (which just begs to ask the question of whether or not he knew about CIA "behavior modification" operations at Naval Air Facility Atsugi).

Clearly Lt. Gen. Barnes was a senior CIA focal-point officer who owed his career to the Dulles-clique. 

The  "...General Bull..." that is referenced is United States Army Lt. Gen. Harold Roe "Pink" Bull, who at the time of the JCS meeting about "Operation Zapata" was Chairman of the "Continental Defense Committee", a clandestine, invitation only, military estimates board that only had three official members, the Chairman, Harold Bull, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Lyman L. Lemnitzer and the Director of the CIA, Allen W. Dulles! 

Lt. Gen. Bull was previously Chief of Staff of the United States Forces European Theater and oversaw the strategic planning for "Operation Overlord" the invasion of German-occupied Western Europe during World War II.

Yeah, let that sink in.

One of the CIA briefing officers to the JCS for the failed "Bay of Pigs" invasion was Chief of Operations for Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Forces for the Normandy invasion! Surely he must have known that the BOP invasion was going to fail, but once again, Lt. Gen. Bull was a CIA goon who owed his later career to the Dulles-clique.

And to the final man in the room, briefing the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the "...Admiral Wright..." mentioned was United States Navy Admiral Jerauld "El Supremo" Wright, who at the time of the abysmal JCS briefing, was a man with many hats. 

ADM. Wright was Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet (CINCLANTFLT), Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Atlantic Command (CINCLANT) and Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic (SACLANT) of NATO's Allied Command Atlantic (ACLANT) at the same time, effectively making him the commander of all US Naval operations and NATO Naval operations (think "Operation Gladio" clandestine naval operations) in the Atlantic Ocean, to include the Central Intelligence Agency's joint-US Navy "Task Force Alfa", a hunter-killer anti-submarine flotilla that was created via false intelligence reports coming directly from Central Intelligence Agency Director Allen Welsh Dulles and outlandish claims from Congressman Carl Thomas Durham (who was not only the Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, but signed the 1956 Southern Manifesto that opposed the desegregation of public schools ordered by the Supreme Court)! 

It should be noted that during World War II, ADM. Wright was involved in "Operation Torch", the Allied invasions of Casablanca, Oran, and Algiers, "Operation Husky", the Allied invasion of Sicily, "Operation Avalanche" the Allied invasion of the Italian mainland, the invasions of Saipan, Guam, and Tinian, code-named "Operation Forager", the invasion of Peleliu and Angaur, code-named "Operation Stalemate II", the invasion of the Ryukyu Islands, code-named "Operation Iceberg", and the cancelled invasion of the southern island of Kyūshū, code-named "Operation Olympic" (which was called off due to the terrorist use of atomic weapons against the civilian populations of Hiroshima and Nagasaki)...

ADM. Wright made a career of planning military, sea-based, overland invasions! It is impossible to conceive that he was ever convinced that "Operation Zapata" would do anything other than fail.

And yet, once again, just like Lt. Gen. Harold R. Bull and Lt. Gen. Earl W. Barnes, ADM. Jerauld Wright owed the final part of his career to Allen Dulles, for just nineteen days before he briefed the JCS on the invasion of Cuba, ADM. Wright would be reactivated to active duty on 12 January 1961, to serve as the U.S. Navy representative on the Central Intelligence Agency's Board of National Estimates, and later as United States Ambassador to the Republic of China in Taiwan, he would control what information was sent to the Chinese Embassy officials concerning the assassination of President Kennedy!

Clearly, the three military officers who briefed the Joint Chiefs of Staff about the upcoming invasion of Cuba, US Army Lt. Gen. Harold R. Bull, USAF Lt. Gen. Earl W. Barnes and US Navy ADM. Jerauld Wright were all right-hand men of Allen Welsh Dulles and they knew the invasion was going to fail.

I can see why, Mr. DiEugenio, President Kennedy wept in his wife's arms about the whole Bay of Pigs thing.

President Kennedy had been stabbed in the back, and Director Dulles walked away with his hands caked in blood.

 

Edited by Robert Montenegro
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Very nice work Robert.  Like learning new stuff.  Hard to comprehend how those guys could think this was a go project. Its like the Bay of Pigs is a bottomless pit of treachery and deceit.  

BTW, this is why JFK installed the taping system.  He wanted everything recorded so no one could misrepresent what he said later.

And Dennis, thanks for that other info from the book.  I will definitely not read it now.

BTW, you know the guy stole the title also?  Trumbull Higgins' book on the BOP was titled The Perfect Failure

Edited by James DiEugenio
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On 9/16/2020 at 7:55 PM, James DiEugenio said:

Very nice work Robert.  Like learning new stuff.  Hard to comprehend how those guys could think this was a go project. Its like the Bay of Pigs is a bottomless pit of treachery and deceit. 

Thank you Mr. DiEugenio, a genuine pleasure to be of service!

I was completely stupefied to research and learn the military backgrounds of the CIA men who briefed the Joint Chiefs of Staff. I personally absolutely refuse to believe for a second that they thought 1,500 revanchist, narco-terrorists and gangsters, could fight 30,000 ideologically pure, Cuban Revolutionary Army soldiers, in a swamp, no less.

Absolutely nonsensical. 

And using piston-driven prop-aircraft that were outdated when they entered combat during World War II (let's face facts, the Imperial Japanese and the Nazi Luftwaffe had deployed jet fighters in combat by 1944)?!

I had the rare privilege of corresponding with Bill Simpich recently, and he assured me that Director Dulles had made sure the post-Eisenhower augmentations to the original "Bay of Pigs" Invasion plans were a conflagration that was meant to force President Kennedy's hand into deploying regular military forces in Cuba.

I never agreed with that idea, until Mr. Simpich advised that I research the military records of the briefing officers.

"Operation Zapata" was truly a pit of treachery and deceit...

 

 

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This is a great thread, and sheds light on a critical myth that's been upheld for 50+ years ... that JFK cancelled the air strikes, and caused the invasion to fail.   Tragically, one could argue that this myth was used against JFK, and possibly got him killed (amongst other reasons).   Bissell should be held accountable in a historical context, and what he did was unforgivable and despicable:

In point of fact both Esterline and Hawkins ultimately related that Bissell had told them the D Day air strikes were cancelled by JFK but that after seeing all the information they had to conclude that to be a lie, as with many other things Bissell had told them.

 

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I would agree Gene, which is why I've been so persistent in trying to get attention to the full details as we now know them.

There is no doubt at all that Bissell knowingly and repeatedly diverted the blame towards JFK, Esterline in particular felt very badly once he realized how he had been played because he had immediately gone to Florida and essentially told anyone who would listen that JFK had betrayed them. He had no idea at the time how wrong that was.

Bissell's failures actually had been going on for months, not just in the last hours in his failure to lobby JFK for the Day 1 air strikes (of course any attempt to do that would have raised questions which very likely would have caused JFK to abort the landings). Months earlier he had rejected Hawkin's request to consolidate command and control for the ground and air elements and that in itself was a critical failure.  Interviews with the Brigade air staff confirmed they had been assured no landing would be made if any Cuban aircraft remained operational to oppose them - but the final air strike assessment decisions were being made in Florida and Washington, not at Brigade Air in Nicaragua.

Certainly both Bissell and Dulles should have been considered as derelict in their duties, but Bissell's sins were far worse - both in the sacrifice of the Brigade and in putting the responsibility for that onto JFK.  Sadly those directly involved at the beachead only knew that what they had expected to happen didn't, they had no idea that it had been compromised over and over again for weeks and once again as the boats loaded to head towards the beaches. 

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http://www.historynet.com/cold-war-bay-of-pigs-invasion.htm

‘Colonel Frank,’ (Col Frank Egan) the American commander in Guatemala, confided: ‘We’ll protect the invasion with an umbrella,’ he said. ‘The air will belong to us. No car can travel without being bombed. We don’t need more men.’ 

Rene Garcia holding the umbrella. Garcia was Deputy Chief Air Operations Bay of Pigs. He also flew a B-26 during the BOP and was considered one of the more reliable pilots. Rip Robertson fourth from left.

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