THE INVISIBLE GOVERNMENT -- THE KENNEDY SHAKE-UP
When the invasion failed, however, a sharp reaction set in. A few days after the Bay of Pigs, President Kennedy called in Clark M. Clifford, a Washington lawyer and close confidant who later became the chairman of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. Kennedy complained that he had been given bad information and bad advice by his intelligence and military advisers. "I was in the Pacific," said the ex-PT boat skipper. "I know something about these things. How could they have put all the ammunition in one ship or two ships?"
Referring to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the President told another visitor: "They don't know any more about it than anyone else." He vowed to shake the intelligence community from top to bottom. He was determined that the Bay of Pigs would not happen again. "One more," he stated ruefully, "will sink me."
The President then set out to gain control of the intelligence establishment and to make it genuinely submissive to his ideas and purposes. As a first order of business, he decided to conduct an extensive investigation of the Cuban debacle.
"We intend to profit from this lesson," he told the American Society of Newspaper Editors on April 20, the day after the invasion collapsed. "We intend to re-examine and reorient our forces of all kinds -- our tactics and our institutions here in this community. We intend to intensify our efforts for a struggle in many ways more difficult than war."
At his news conference the next day, the President declined to get into details about the Bay of Pigs on the grounds that it would not "aid the interest of the United States." But he denied any desire to "conceal responsibility ... I'm the responsible officer of the government," Kennedy declared, "and that is quite obvious."
But in this moment of extreme political vulnerability, high administration officials began to point out in private post-mortems with reporters that Kennedy had inherited the Bay of Pigs idea from President Eisenhower.
On April 23, Interior Secretary Stewart L. Udall made the mistake of giving public voice to the administration line, and the Republicans, predictably, pounced upon him.
"Here was a plan conceived by one administration," Udall declared. "This from all I can find out began over a year ago and President Eisenhower directed it."
"Cheap and vicious partisanship," retorted Richard M. Nixon.
Kennedy stepped in quickly the next day to prevent all-out political war. He told Pierre Salinger to issue a public statement.
"President Kennedy has stated from the beginning," Salinger declared, "that as President he bears sole responsibility for the events of the past days. He has stated on all occasions, and he restates it now, so it will be understood by all. The President is strongly opposed to anyone within or without the administration attempting to shift the responsibility."
Kennedy's full public acceptance of the blame seemed to be the Republicans' price for laying off the Cuban issue, at least temporarily. In the week after the invasion, the President discussed the operation at length with Eisenhower, Nixon, Senator Barry M. Goldwater of Arizona and Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller of New York. Eisenhower set the Republican line on emerging from an eighty-five-minute conversation with Kennedy at Camp David on April 22.
"I am all in favor," Eisenhower declared, "of the United States supporting the man who has to carry the responsibility for our foreign affairs."
Kennedy used the momentary truce to set in motion a sweeping reorganization of the Invisible Government. Even before the Bay of Pigs, he had planned a major shake-up in the hierarchy of the CIA. He had indicated to several high-ranking officials that he would put Richard Bissell in charge of the agency when Dulles stepped down.
Now, in the shadow of the Cuban fiasco, it was clear that Bissell would have to go and that the shake-up would have to be deferred for a decent interval. Dulles' resignation was not accepted until September 27, 1961. He was succeeded on November 29, 1961 by John McCone. General Cabell retired as the deputy director on January 31, 1962. He was replaced by Army Major General Marshall Sylvester Carter,* fifty-two. Bissell resigned as the deputy director for plans on February 17, 1962. He was succeeded by his assistant, Richard M. Helms, forty-eight. Robert Amory, the deputy director for intelligence, was shifted to the Budget Bureau to become the director of its International Division. He was replaced on May 16, 1962 by Ray S. Cline, forty-four.
The top-level shake-up at the CIA was not completed until a full year had passed. But two days after the invasion Kennedy ordered General Maxwell Taylor to head an investigation and to make recommendations for the reform of the intelligence community.
Taylor was a World War II paratroop commander who quit as Army Chief of Staff in 1959 in protest against the refusal of the Eisenhower Administration to adopt his views on conventional warfare. After the Bay of Pigs investigation, he became Kennedy's personal military adviser and, finally, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Joining Taylor in the investigation were Robert Kennedy, Allen Dulles and Arleigh Burke. It was clear that the Attorney General was to become the untitled overseer of the intelligence apparatus in the Kennedy Administration. The appointment of Dulles and Burke, holdovers from the Eisenhower Administration, was designed to gather broad political support for the shake-up and to forestall suggestions that a whitewash operation was afoot.
Kennedy moved to take an even tighter grip on the Invisible Government on May 4 when he revived the President's Board of Consultants on Foreign Intelligence Activities under a new title, the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. The original group had been set up by President Eisenhower on January 13, 1956, on a recommendation by the Hoover Commission. It was headed by James R. Killian, Jr., the president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Joseph P. Kennedy, the President's father, served on it for the first six months.
The board had disbanded on January 7, 1961, when the entire membership resigned in anticipation of the new administration. But now Kennedy called it back into existence, again under the chairmanship of Killian. *
The President's instructions to the new board were to investigate the entire intelligence community, to recommend detailed changes and to make sure that the changes were carried out. The original board had met just twice a year and had been only marginally informed about intelligence activities. Kennedy ordered the new board to meet six to eight times a year and, between times, to carry out specific assignments for him at home and abroad.
The Killian and Taylor groups had scarcely begun their secret inquiries before the tenuous political truce on the Bay of Pigs began to be breached. On June 11, 1961, William E. Miller, the New York congressman and the chairman of the Republican National Committee, charged that the invasion had failed because Kennedy "rescinded and revoked the Eisenhower plan to have the Cuban freedom fighters protected by American air power."
Miller said his accusation was based on comments by Eisenhower to a group of Republican leaders. But the former President corrected him the very next day. Eisenhower denied that American air power had been approved during his time in office. He had merely stated, the general explained, that an amphibious operation could not succeed without air support of some kind.
This was the first of many confusing exchanges during the following weeks and months on the issue of air cover. Republican and Cuban exile leaders charged repeatedly that the Bay of Pigs invasion failed because President Kennedy withdrew American air cover.
The Kennedy Administration held its tongue for close to two years. But finally, in January of 1963, Robert Kennedy denied the accusation in interviews with the Miami Herald and U.S. News & World Report.
"1 can say unequivocally," he declared, "that President Kennedy never withdrew U.S. air cover. ... There never were any plans made for U.S. air cover, so there was nothing to withdraw ..." 
And again: "There never was any promise. Not even under Mr. Eisenhower was American air cover in the picture." 
The air-cover controversy had grown out of a massive confusion over what was included in the original air plan for the Bay of Pigs. As we have seen in earlier chapters, the original plan envisioned no need for the direct intervention of U. S. Navy or Air Force planes. Castro's air force was to have been destroyed on the ground by the CIA's Cuban exile bombers. In that event, the Cuban invaders logically would not have required aerial protection against nonexistent planes. But the President canceled the second strike against Castro's air bases. Accordingly, Castro's planes were in the air to harass the invaders on the beach and to sink the ships carrying their equipment, ammunition, fuel and communications.
The real question in the controversy is whether the invasion could have succeeded if Kennedy had not canceled the second strike. The Taylor group grappled with this question but failed to reach agreement.
Taylor and Robert Kennedy concluded that the invasion plan had been thoroughly faulty and stood no chance of success in any event. "It simply cannot be said," the Attorney General later commented, "that the invasion failed because of any single factor. There were several major mistakes. It was just a bad plan. Victory was never close." 
Burke, on the other hand, took the position that the invasion very nearly succeeded, and probably would have if the President had not canceled the second air strike. The invasion might have worked without air support of any kind, the admiral argued, if the first air strike had not been scheduled two days in advance of the landing eliminating the element of surprise.
Dulles took a position somewhere in between. He thought success could have been achieved if all had gone according to plan (he had left Washington for San Juan at the time of the invasion with no idea that the plan would be changed). But Dulles felt the CIA and the Joint Chiefs made a mistake in not arranging for alternatives in case the second strike failed or did not come off. He thought there should have been a contingency plan to make sure the invaders got ashore with their equipment.
The Taylor committee presented its views, secretly and orally, to President Kennedy in the summer of 1961. * The committee had worked for about four months, meeting secretly at the Pentagon in an office close to the Joint Chiefs' area. The group interviewed virtually everyone of significance in the Bay of Pigs invasion, including the CIA man who directed the air operations and Mario Zuniga, the Cuban Pilot who told the cover story about defecting from Castro's air force.
The committee reached more than thirty conclusions, including findings that communications were very bad and that there was an overcentralization of the operation in Washington. They also reached a meeting of minds on another crucial point. After the Bay of Pigs, there was considerable pressure within and without the government to limit the CIA to intelligence-gathering alone. It was argued that the agency was inevitably tempted to warp its intelligence estimates to justify its pet projects; and that it would be better to transfer responsibility for all clandestine operations to some other agency, possibly the Pentagon.
This argument was strenuously opposed by Dulles and Cabell. They contended that a separation of intelligence-gathering from operations would result in expensive duplication of personnel and facilities, particularly at overseas posts. They also warned that foreign agents would tend to play off one branch of the spy apparatus against the other, bidding up the price of information and confusing the evidence.
Dulles pleaded that, contrary to popular belief, no intelligence agency in the world is split into separate information-gathering and operational units. When the British set up a Special Operations Executive in World War II, he maintained, they ran into serious difficulties and had to revert to a CIA-type system.
These pleadings proved persuasive to the Taylor committee, which declined to recommend that all clandestine operations be divorced from the CIA's responsibilities. The President agreed and the CIA continued to function essentially in its old ways.
However, the Taylor group did come to the conclusion that the Bay of Pigs operation was too large and too unwieldy to have been conducted by the CIA. In the future, the CIA was to be limited to operations requiring military equipment no larger or more complex than side arms -- weapons which could be carried by individuals. In other words, the CIA was never again to direct operations involving aircraft, tanks or amphibious ships. Operations of that size were to be conducted by the Pentagon.
Put another way, the CIA was henceforth to be restricted to paramilitary operations which would be "plausibly deniable." The Bay of Pigs invasion was not plausibly deniable because it was too large and pervasive to escape the notice of alert officials, newspapermen and private citizens in a free society.
It is clear from all this that the leaders of the government had finally come to the realization that certain types of clandestine operations are incompatible with the democratic system. In a totalitarian society, where the organs of communication are tightly controlled, secret ventures can be mounted on a large scale with minimum risk of disclosure. But this is extremely difficult in an open society in which freedom of speech and the press is constitutionally guaranteed.
As Robert Kennedy emphasized, President Kennedy canceled the second air strike because "U.S. participation in the matter was coming to the surface ... contrary to the pre-invasion plan." 
It had been expected that Mario Zuniga would get away with the tale of defection he told in Miami on the Saturday before the invasion. But a few influential newspapers and UN delegates began to express skepticism and the President felt compelled to change the military plan in an effort to conceal the fact that the United States was behind the invasion.
Immediately after the invasion failed, the President revealed his concern about the limitations imposed upon the government by the institutions of free speech and a free press. He went before the American Newspaper Publishers Association on April 27, 1961, with a plea for voluntary censorship.
"If the press is awaiting a declaration of war before it imposes the self-discipline of combat conditions," Kennedy remarked, "then I can only say that no war has ever posed a greater threat to our security."
But despite his chagrin and his momentary impatience with the workings of a democracy, the President had not lost perspective on the dangers of toying with fundamental freedoms.
"The very word 'secrecy' is repugnant in a free and open republic," he declared, "and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths and to secret proceedings. We decided long ago that the dangers of excessive and unwarranted concealment of pertinent facts far outweighed the dangers which are cited to justify it. Even today, there is little value in opposing the threat of a closed society by imitating its arbitrary restrictions. Even today, there is little value in insuring the survival of our nation if our traditions do not survive with it."
* In the Spring of 1965, President Johnson shifted Carter to be director of the National Security Agency and named Helms his successor at CIA. In June, 1966, Helms moved up again to the top spot of director of CIA.
* The new members were Frank Pace, Jr., former Secretary of the Army; Dr. Edwin H. Land, president of the Polaroid Corporation; Dr. William O. Baker, vice-president for research of the Bell Telephone Laboratories; Lieutenant General James H. Doolittle, retired, board chairman of Space Technology Laboratories, Inc.; Dr. William L. Langer, professor of history, Harvard University; Robert D. Murphy, former Under Secretary of State and president of Corning Glass International; Gordon Gray, former head of the Office of Defense Mobilization; and Clark Clifford, who had been a leading adviser to President Truman. Clifford succeeded Killian as chairman on April 23, 1963.
* Late in 1962 the administration's findings were drawn up in a White Paper, prepared mainly by Roger Hilsman, then the State Department's director of intelligence and research. At the White House, Bundy and Salinger recommended that it be released to the public in January, 1963. But Robert Kennedy urged that it remain secret, and the White Paper was not released.