INSPECTOR GENERAL'S SURVEY OF THE CUBAN OPERATION AND ASSOCIATED DOCUMENTS
by Lyman B. Kirkpatrick
Title: Inspector General's Survey of the
Cuban Operation and Associated Documents
CIA HISTORICAL REVIEW PROGRAM
INSPECTOR GENERAL'S SURVEY
Part 1 of 2 Parts
16 February 1962
MEMORANDUM FOR: Director of Central Intelligence
SUBJECT: Inspector General Survey of the Cuban Operation (dated October 1961)
It is my understanding that you have requested information concerning the distribution of the IG Survey of the Cuban Operation and the DD/P comments on it. At the time the report was written it was understood that copies of the report would be sent to the President's Board and consequently 20 copies were made. However, the only distribution made of the report is as follows:
Copy 1 - Mr. McCone - 21 November 1961
2 - DCI (Then Mr. Dulles) - 24 November
3 - DDCI (then Gen. Cabell) - 24 November
4 - DD/P (then Mr. Bissell) - 24 November
5 - IG (Mr. Kirkpatrick)
6 - On file in office of Acting IG (Mr. McLean)
7 - C/WH (Col. King) - 24 November
8 - Mr. Esterline (WH Division) via Col. King - 24 November
9 - On file in my office
10 - President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, via Mr. Earman at request of DCI, 18 January 1962
11 through 20 - On file in my office
Lyman B. Kirkpatrick s/
This document contains the items listed below and should not be broken up. This is at the direction of Mr. John A. McCone, Director of Central Intelligence.
Copy No. 1 of 20
Inspector General's Survey
TABLE OF CONTENTS
A. Basic Policy Plan of 17 March 1960
2. The purpose of the report is to evaluate selected aspects of the Agency's performance of this task, to describe weaknesses and failures disclosed by the study, and to make recommendations for their correction and avoidance in the future.
3. The report concentrates on the organization, staffing and planning of the project and on the conduct of the covert paramilitary phase of the operation, including comments on intelligence support, training, and security. It does not describe or analyze in detail the purely military phase of the effort.
4. The supporting annexes have been chosen to illustrate the evolution of national policy as outlined in Section F of the body of the report. Annex A is the basic policy paper approved by President Eisenhower on 17 March 1960. Annex B is a paper prepared by the project's operating chiefs for the briefing of President Kennedy in February 1961. Annexes C, D, and E are the planning papers successively prepared during March and April 1961 in the last few weeks before the invasion.
5. The report includes references to the roles played by Agency officials in Presidential conferences and interdepartmental meetings at which policy decisions affecting the course of the operation were token, but it contains no evaluation of or judgment on any decision or action taken by any official not employed by the Agency.
6. In preparing the survey the Inspector General and his representatives interviewed about 125 Agency employees of all levels and studied a large quantity of documentary material.
B. HISTORY OF THE PROJECT
1. The history of the Cuban project begins in 1959 and for the purposes of the survey ends with the invasion of Cuba by the Agency-supported Cuban brigade on 17 April 1961 and its defeat and capture by Castro's forces in the next two days.
2. Formal U.S. Government adoption of the project occurred on 17 March 1960, when, after preliminary preparations by the Agency, President Eisenhower approved an Agency paper titled "A Program of Covert Action Against the Castro Regime" (Annex A) and thereby authorized the Agency to undertake this program:
a. Formation of a Cuban exile organization to attract Cuban loyalties, to direct opposition activities, and to provide cover for Agency operations.
b. A propaganda offensive in the name of the opposition.
c. Creation inside Cuba of a clandestine intelligence collection and action apparatus to be responsive to the direction of the exile organization.
d. Development outside Cuba of a small paramilitary force to be introduced into Cuba to organize, train and lead resistance groups.
3. The budget for this activity was estimated at $4,400,000. The breakdown was: Political action, $950,000; propaganda, $1,700,000; paramilitary, $1,500,000; intelligence collection, $250,000.
4. This document, providing for the nourishment of a powerful internal resistance program through clandestine external assistance, was the basic and indeed the only U.S. Government policy paper issued throughout the life of the project. The concept was classic. The Cuban exile council would serve as cover for action which become publicly known. Agency personnel in contact with Cuban exiles would be documented as representatives of a group of private American businessmen. The hand of the U.S. Government would not appear.
5. Some months of preparation had preceded presentation of this paper to the President. In August 1959 the Chief of the Agency's Paramilitary Group attended a meeting [excised] to discuss the creation of a paramilitary capability to be used in Latin American crisis situations. At this time Cuba was only one of a number of possible targets, all of which appeared equally explosive. The Chief of the Paramilitary Group prepared a series of staff studies for the Western Hemisphere (WH) Division on various aspects of covert limited warfare and urged the creation of a division paramilitary staff. He also set up a proprietary airline in [excised] for eventual support use.
6. In September 1959 the WH Division assigned an officer to plan potential Agency action for contingencies which might develop in a number of Latin American countries. There was a lack of sufficient readily available operational information on potential target areas, so a requirement, with special emphasis on Cuba, whose Communist control was now becoming more and more apparent, was sent throughout the intelligence community, and resulted in a three-volume operational study.
7. By December 1959 these studies had produced a plan for training a small cadre of Cuban exiles as paramilitary instructors, these in turn to be used for training other Cuban recruits; in a Latin American country, for clandestine infiltration into Cuba to provide leadership for anti-Castro dissidents.
Organization of Branch
8. On 18 January 1960 the WH Division organized Branch 4 (WH/4) as an expandable task force to run the proposed Cuban operation. The initial Table of Organization totaled 40 persons, with 18 at Headquarters, 20 at Havana Station, and two at Santiago Base.
9. The branch also began negotiations for a Panama training site. Its officers reconnoitered the area of Miami, Florida, in search of suitable installations for office space, warehouses, safe sites, recruiting centers, communications center, and bases for the movement of persons, materiel, and propaganda into or out of Cuba.
10. At the same time Headquarters and the Havana Station were conducting a study of Cuban opposition leaders to prepare for the formation of a unified political front to serve as the cover instrument for clandestine operations and as a rallying point for anti-Castro Cubans. They were also making a map reconnaissance of the Caribbean, seeking a site for a powerful medium-wave and short-wave radio station.
11. As a result of this intensive activity over a relatively brief period the Agency was able to report considerable preliminary progress and to predict early performance in a number or respects, when it carried its request for policy approval to the President in mid-March of 1960.
12. Among the facts so reported (Annex A) were: That the Agency was in close touch with leaders of three major end reputable anti-Castro groups of Cubans whose representatives, possible together with others, would form a unified opposition council within 30 days; that the Agency was already supporting opposition broadcasts from Miami, had arranged for additional radio outlets in Massachusetts, [excised] and [excised], and that a powerful "gray" station, probably on Swan Island, could be made ready in two months; that publication of an exile edition of a confiscated Cuban newspaper had been arranged; that a controlled action group was distributing propaganda outside Cuba, and that anti-Castro lecturers were being sent on Latin American tours.
13. The President was further informed that an effective intelligence and action organization inside Cuba, responsive to direction by the exile opposition, could probably be created within 60 days and that preparations for the development of an adequate paramilitary force would require "a minimum of six months and probably closer to eight."
14. Discussion at high policy levels of the Government had preceded submission of this program to the President. In the last months of 1959 the Special Group, composed of representatives of several departments and agencies and charged by NSA 5412 with responsibility for policy approval of major covert action operations, considered several Agency proposals for exile broadcasts to Cuba. During January And February of 1960, the Director of Central Intelligence informed the Special Group of Agency planning with regard to Cuba, and on 14 March an entire meeting was devoted to discussion of the Agency's program. Concern was expressed over the length of time required to get trained Cuban exiles into action, and there was discussion of U.S. capabilities for immediate overt action if required. The Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is reported to have said that forces totaling 50,000 men were ready if needed and that the first of them could be airborne within four hours after receipt of orders. Members of the group urged early formation of an exile junta. The Agency announced its intention of requesting funds to pursue the program, and no objections were raised by the group.
15. The project to unseat Castro had thus become a major Agency activity with the highest policy sanction, engaging the full-time activity of the personnel of a rapidly expanding operating branch, requiring a great amount of detailed day-to-day attention in higher Agency echelons and entailing frequent liaison with other agencies and departments of the Government.
16. The activities described to the President continued at an accelerated rate, but the financial approach to the project was relatively cautious in the early weeks.
17. On 24 March 1960 the project was approved by the Director of Central Intelligence in the initial amount of $900,000 for the rest of Fiscal Year 1960. However, only two weeks later, on 7 April, WH/4 Branch reported that 85% of the $900,000 had been obligated. By 30 June an additional $1,000,000 was obligated.
18. In April the Director of Central Intelligence told a meeting of WH/4 personnel that he would recall people from anywhere in the world if they were needed on the project. From January 1960, when it had 40 people, the branch expanded to 588 by 16 April 1961, becoming one of the largest branches in the Clandestine Services, larger than some divisions. Its Table of Organization did not include the large number of air operations personnel who worked on the project and who were administered by their own unit, the Development Projects Division (DPD), nor did it include the many people engaged in support activities or in services of common concern, who, though not assigned to the project, nevertheless devoted many hours to it.
19. In the early months of the project there were intensive efforts to organize an exile front group, to get a broad and varied propaganda program under way, to begin a paramilitary program, and to acquire sites in Florida and elsewhere for training and recruiting activities and for office space.
20. The so-called "Bender Group" composed of project political action officers, was set up as a national organization of American businessmen to provide cover for dealing with the Cubans. After a series or meetings in New York and Miami a nominally unified Frente Revoluionario Democratico (FRD), composed of several Cuban factions, was agreed upon on 11 May 1960.