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Department Seal

Volume X
Cuba, 1961-1962



Cuba, 1961-1962

271. Memorandum From the Chairman of the Board of National Estimates (Kent) to Director of Central Intelligence Dulles

Washington, November 3, 1961.

//Source: Kennedy Library, President's Office Files, Countries Series, Cuba, Security, 1961. Secret. President Kennedy expressed a desire for an assessment of the situation in Cuba in a conversation with Goodwin on September 7; see footnote 2, Document 258. On October 31 McGeorge Bundy told Ball in a telephone conversation that President Kennedy wanted an assessment prepared by the CIA in conjunction with a meeting on Cuba that the President had scheduled for November 3. (Kennedy Library, Papers of George W. Ball, Subject Series, Cuba, 1/24/61-12/30/62) The assessment was subsequently issued on November 28, under the same title but in a slightly expanded format, as NIE 85-61. (Central Intelligence Agency, ODDI Registry of NIEs and SNIEs: Job 79-R01012A) Major General Richard Collins, Director for Intelligence of the Joint Staff, sent a brief of NIE 85-61 to Secretary of Defense McNamara on November 28. (Memorandum from Collins to McNamara, J2DM-455-61; Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OASD/ISA Files: FRC 64 A 2382, Cuba, 1961, 121--353)


The Situation and Prospects in Cuba


1. The Castro regime has sufficient popular support and repressive capabilities to cope with any internal threat likely to develop within the foreseeable future. The regime faces serious, but not insurmountable, economic difficulties. The contrast between its roseate promises and the grim actuality is producing disillusionment and apathy. Some specially motivated elements have recently dared to demonstrate their disapproval. The bulk of the population, however still accepts the Castro regime, or is at least resigned to it, and substantial numbers still support it with enthusiasm. At the same time, the regime's capabilities for repression are increasing more rapidly than are the potentialities for active resistance.

The Economic Situation and Prospects

2. The Cuban economy is now feeling the impact of three revolutionary changes: (a) the loss of most of its experienced middle and upper level managerial talent; (b) the imposition of elaborate state controls; and (c) a drastic shift in the trading pattern, from primary dependence on the US to primary dependence on the Soviet Bloc. The US embargo has produced some economic difficulties through the denial of spare parts for previously acquired equipment, almost all of which was of US origin. Nevertheless, the production of sugar, the principal export crop, has been increased, and the production of tobacco and tropical fruit, the other leading exports, has been maintained. Although Cuba's free world trade and foreign exchange reserves have declined sharply, the Bloc is taking enough exports and returning enough consumer goods and machinery to keep the economy going.

3. The domestic production of foodstuffs and other consumer goods, and the imports obtained from the Bloc and elsewhere, are together not sufficient to compensate for the loss of former imports from the US. Personal consumption has declined, especially in the cities, and most drastically in the case of the upper and middle classes. In some rural areas, however, especially in centers of sugar production, living conditions have been substantially improved, particularly in terms of housing and sanitation. These examples of the tangible benefits received by some keep alive the hopes of many others.

4. In addition to trade, the Bloc has extended to Cuba some $357 million in credits for industrial development. However, only a few of these development projects are yet underway, nor is much likely to be accomplished for another year or more.

5. In general, the Cuban economy is characterized by major shortages and a high degree of disorganization. This state of affairs will continue for some time to come, and may indeed get somewhat worse. In view of the availability of Bloc assistance, however, we do not believe that the economy will deteriorate so far as to bring about Castro's overthrow, or force him to make basic changes in his policy. On the contrary, the situation will probably begin to improve within a year or so, as the new Communist-type organization takes hold, managerial experience increases, and foreign trade is adjusted to new channels.

Popular Acceptance of the Regime

6. Initially, almost all Cubans hailed the triumph of the Revolution with enthusiam. Disillusionment, however, came quickly to the urban middle class, urban organized labor, and the landed gentry. It has since spread to small peasant proprietors and even to humbler folk, who are beginning to appear in significant numbers in the flow of refugees from Cuba.

7. The severe internal repression which accompanied the defeat of the April invasion stilled, for a time, all manifestations of opposition within the country. By September, however, this effect had worn off sufficiently for Catholic crowds in Havana and other cities to dare to defy the regime's prohibition of certain public religious observances. This was the first occasion on which the regime had been forced to use gunfire to disperse hostile public demonstrations. It was therefore indicative of a significant change in the psychological situation.

8. There have also been some increase in small-scale guerrilla and sabotage activity and a considerable increase in such passive forms of resistance as absenteeism. However, most disaffected Cubans now think primarily in terms of escape. In mid-September, some 15,000 had completed legal arrangements to leave the country which were then cancelled by the government, and some 500 were in asylum in the several Latin American embassies in Havana. Illegal departures occur almost daily.

9. Despite these manifestations of disaffection, the great bulk of the population still accepts the regime and substantial number still support it with enthusiasm. The sprawling revolutionary bureaucracy now embodies a new class with a very definite personal stake in the regime.

Castroist Political Organization

10. The regime is now in the process of a complete reorganization of the form of government in Cuba, and of the organization of a new total-itarian political party to operate and control it. The Communist model is apparent in both instances.

11. The traditional provincial and municipal governments are being replaced by juntas (Soviets) for "coordination, execution, and inspection" (JUCEI). Already established in each province of Cuba, the JUCEIs consist of a "provincial congress," representative of all major economic entities in the territory, which meets occasionally; a "plenum" of the congress, which meets every few months; and several smaller bodies which meet frequently and actually direct the provincial administration. The primary function of all JUCEIs is the local implementation of plans received from higher authority.

12. The new totalitarian political machine is to be the United Party of the Cuban Socialist Revolution, a merger of the amorphous 26 of July Movement (or what is left of it) with the well organized Communist Party. Although Castro is of course to be the supreme head of this party, the man who is pushing the project is Blas Roca, the Communist Secretary General. Party membership is to be limited to the elite of the revolutionary struggle and prerequisite to appointment to any important political or economic position.

13. A significant arm of the Castroist political organization is the paramilitary Association of Rebel Youth (AJR), derived from the previous Communist youth organization. These teenagers, of the type that would be found in juvenile gangs, are a terror to their parents, their schoolmates, and the general public. They have charge of indoctrination in the schools and have been active in the formation of the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (see paragraph 22). Active participation in the AJR is to be prerequisite to educational and eventually political advancement.

The Castroist Security Apparatus

14. The forces now available to the regime to suppress insurrection or repel invasion are:

a. The Rebel Army (32,000)

b. The Rural Police (9,600)

c. The Rebel Air Force (2,000)

d. The Navy (2,000)

e. The Militia (250,000, including 83,000 women)

f. The Rebel Youth (150,000, including 10,000 girls)

g. The National Police (9,000)

h. The Maritime Police

15. The administrative and command structure of these forces is extremely loose; the improvisation of ad hoc commands including disparate elements is the common practice. Confusion and lack of coordination are therefore likely in any emergency situation.

16. The army has been strengthened by the receipt of Bloc arms and is being instructed in their use by Bloc personnel. However, it has had little or no combined arms or field training. It displayed great tactical ineptitude at the time of the April landing.

17. About a fifth of the army are veterans of Castro's guerrilla struggle against Batista. The remainder are early adherents. In time, however, Castro came to doubt, with reason, their loyalty to the course the Revolution had taken on achieving power. The militia were therefore established as an alternative armed support for the regime. The original units were composed of Castro's most ardent followers. In time, however, the militia was so greatly expanded by recruitment under pressure that its revolutionary zeal was considerably diluted. Castro has therefore transferred his favor and reliance to the newly organized Rebel Youth, who are now his most fanatical followers.

18. In general, the militia and the Rebel Youth, both part-time forces, have only light arms which are issued to them only on occasion. They are not capable of sustained combat, but are effective for controlling and coercing the general public. In addition, some selected units of the militia and the Rebel Youth are specially armed and trained and are, in effect, army units specially dedicated to Fidel Castro.

19. The capabilities of the air force have been greatly enhanced by the acquisition of MIG aircraft and the return of personnel from training in the Bloc. There are now about 35 MIG-15's and MIG-19's operational in Cuba.

20. The navy is unreliable and distrusted; most of its personnel were taken into custody at the time of the April landing. Mutinies, defections, and purges have left it few professionally trained and technically qualified men.

21. Recently, the professional security agencies of the government--Army G-2 (the Secret Police), the National Police, and the Maritime Police--were transferred from the Ministry of the Armed Forces to a newly created Ministry of the Interior. This change is likely to enhance their effectiveness. It does not indicate a reduction of Raul Castro's power, since Ramiro Valdes, the new Minister of the Interior, is one of his close associates. Valdes is a Communist, formerly head of Army G-2.

22. A network of Committees for the Defense of the Revolution is being established to provide an additional agency for political surveillance and control. What these committees lack in professional competence, they make up for in pervasiveness and zeal. The Rebel Youth have been particularly active in promoting their formation. The announced goal is 100,000 committees with over a million members covering every community in Cuba.

If Castro Were to Die

23. Fidel Castro's personal prestige and popularity were indispensable to the regime in the earlier stages of its development. None of his lieutenants could have inherited the personal authority which he then exercised. His loss now, by assassination or by natural causes, would certainly have an unsettling effect, but would probably not prove fatal. The revolution is by now well institutionalized; the regime has firm control of the country; its principal surviving leaders would probably rally together in the face of a common danger. Indeed, a dead Castro, incapable of impulsive personal interventions in the orderly administration of affairs, might be more valuable to them as a martyr than he is now.

24. The fact remains that Castro has had to control tensions, jealous-ies, and conflicts of interest and purpose among his principal lieutenants: Raul Castro, the head of the armed forces; "Che" Guevara, the director of industrial development; Nunez Jimenez, the director of agrarian reform. There could be a falling out among them at Castro's funeral. There would almost certainly be a struggle for power among them afterward, which might break into the open.

25. A coordinated estimate of the Cuban situation and prospects, NIE 85-62, "The Situation in Cuba," is scheduled for USIB consideration in January.

For the Board of National Estimates:

Sherman Kent/1/

/1/Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature with an illegible signature above it.

272. Memorandum for the Record

Washington, November 4, 1961.

//Source: Central Intelligence Agency, DDO/DDP Files: Job 78-01450R, Box 5, Area Activity-Cuba. Secret. Prepared by Bissell on November 5.


Meeting on Cuba, 1400 Hours, 4 November 1961

1. Pursuant to the President's instructions at a meeting on 3 November, a further meeting on Cuba was held in the Cabinet Room on 4 November. It was attended by the Attorney General, the Secretary of Defense, Mr. Paul Nitze, General Lansdale, Mr. Alexis Johnson, Mr. Richard Goodwin and the undersigned.

2. Mr. Goodwin had tabled a paper/1/ on a proposed organization for an accelerated build up of resistance to Castro. The suggestions in this paper were not, however, discussed at the meeting. The Attorney General mentioned that he had not seen the paper until the meeting, which I believe to have been the case with other participants. On the matter of organization, however, there seemed to be tacit but general acceptance of views that had been expressed the preceding day to the effect: (a) that there was a need for close operational coordination of all arms of the U.S. Government that could contribute to the operation, and (b) that responsibility for its direction should be lodged in a task force, conceived of at the minimum as a committee and at the maximum as a separate office, partly for the express purpose of making possible denial that this was another exclusively CIA undertaking.

/1/Goodwin's paper is apparently the unsigned paper dated November 4 which is ibid. For text, see the Supplement.

3. I gave some further account of the kinds of operations we are now preparing and of what we believe to be the state of resistance within Cuba. In summary, I endeavored to make the following points: (a) Our approach to date has been to build up competent CIA controlled and independent Cuban capabilities and to set as their first priority task the creation of one or more competent resistance organizations within the Island. This is necessarily a rather slow business unlikely to begin to yield spectacular results for some time. Meanwhile, however, we are encouraging minor sabotage and planning for larger scale action. (b) In the pursuit of this course we have been in touch with numerous Cuban groups and are trying to bring them along to a point where they can do sound operational planning and hopefully will be able before long to mount infiltration, exfiltration and sabotage operations in a reasonably professional manner. (c) A different approach to the problem would be one which would offer maximum support to any and all politically acceptable elements who wish to infiltrate men and arms into the country or to undertake externally based commando type activities. We have a number of plans before us submitted by Cuban groups for such action. If we adopt the policy of encouraging the promptest possible action on the largest possible scale, it must be understood that sizeable losses will be involved because this implies launching operations before there is an internal organization ready and able to cooperate, before training has been completed, and without taking the time required for the observance of maximum security and counter-espionage precautions. (d) If we are prepared to accept the losses implied in this different approach, the two approaches can be pursued simultaneously with some hope that they will be mutually reinforcing. As we are successful in building a competent resistance organization, it will be in a position to give invaluable help to cruder and larger scale operations. At the same time, if some of these operations are successful they will contribute immeasurably to the climate in which a professionally organized resistance can be built up.

4. The Attorney General urged as the main action to be taken that there was needed an impartial survey of the operational situation and opportunities by someone who had not been close to the operation. It was agreed that this would be undertaken by General Lansdale. I said there could be no objection to such a survey provided (a) it would not interfere with on-going operations and (b) those employed on it were competent in clandestine operations. In connection with the latter reservation, I emphasized we are not now and will for some time not be at a stage in which there is large scale guerrilla fighting; rather the kinds of things that will need to be done for some little time are typical covert operations and an understanding of them requires knowledge of and experience in such operations.

5. In connection with on-going activities, I said I took it to be the consensus of the meeting, without waiting for the outcome of the survey, that their pace should be stepped up as rapidly as possible, including what has been referred to as large scale sabotage if feasible against really strategic targets. It was agreed that this was the sense of the meeting.

6. After the meeting broke up I had a brief conversation with the Attorney General. I emphasized to him (a) that the Agency personnel now active in operations against Cuba were a completely new group and that he should not be under the impression that people physically and emotionally tired from [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] were those upon whom we were relying for new activities, (b) that if he had any criticism of the Agency's organization or approach I hoped he would state them directly to us, and (c) that I specifically disagree with certain of Goodwin's organizational proposals especially that which would place responsibility for underground and guerrilla activities in a Department of Defense designee.

Richard M. Bissell, Jr.

Deputy Director (Plans)

273. Paper Prepared in the Central Intelligence Agency

Washington, November 8, 1961.

//Source: Kennedy Library, President's Office Files, Countries Series, Cuba, Security, 1961. Secret; Eyes Only. This paper was apparently prepared in response to the requirement to examine existing programs and options in conjunction with the establishment of Operation Mongoose.


1. Non-Sensitive Activities: A variety of non-sensitive political warfare and propaganda activities are being conducted outside Cuba. These include: (a) working with the Cuban Revolutionary Council and the number of other Cuban groups in Miami in an effort to improve their competence to undertake action on their own and also to minimize the effects of disunity among the Cubans; (b) efforts to induce the defection of prominent Cubans from the Castro regime; (c) black operations with the objective of having Castro's diplomats declared PNG or having additional countries break diplomatic relations with Cuba; (d) speaking tours by teachers, student, labor, jurists and women's groups throughout the hemisphere; (e) support of publications and distribution of pamphlets; (f) the support of anti-Castro radio programs on some 60 Latin America stations and 3 stations in Florida; (g) the operation of Radio Swan; (h) the use of a broadcasting ship for intruding radio broadcasts on Cuba t.v. channels. There is believed to be little risk that these activities will give rise to political embarrassment, except for that resulting from the jealousy of various Cuban groups and criticism by one of alleged support to another. The following paragraphs constitute a list of politically more sensitive types of activities in progress or contemplated.

2. Agent Training: There are currently some [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] Cubans already trained or now in training as activists who can be infiltrated to organize the resistance and to develop sabotage activities. In addition there are some [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] Cuban students in training for infiltration to conduct Agit/Prop activities. For the most part the training is being done in Florida. The men are trained in compartmented small groups; the largest single unit, already trained, numbers [less than 1 line of source text not declassified]. No subsequent group will be as large. The candidates are of course volunteers and are from a number of the political groups with which we are in contact.

3. Infiltration/Exfiltration: We maintain and employ for training and operational purposes a fleet of some 7 craft. They are used primarily for the infiltration and exfiltration of individuals and, if and when feasible, of arms. Currently, infiltrations are apt to involve no more than 3 to 5 individuals at a time but larger groups (up to 15 or 20) may be infiltrated in the future if and when this becomes feasible. No Americans are allowed on any craft that is going within the 12-mile limit around Cuba. Many infiltration/exfiltration operations involve a meet-at-sea with a Cuban fisherman or a Cuban craft.

4. Building an Intelligence and Resistance Organization: Contact is still maintained, [less than 1 line of source text not declassified], with [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] agents in Cuba. Their present function is restricted to the furnishing of intelligence and in some cases the maintenance of communication with internal resistance leaders. Every effort will be made to infiltrate additional trained agents and communicators as rapidly as possible for the purpose of building an internal resistance organization and establishing effective secure communication with internal resistance leaders. The objective will be to develop one or more nets of dependable sympathizers and the means of communication both among themselves and to the outside. In the first instance such internal assets, to the extent to which they are subject to control from outside, will be used for intelligence collection, further clandestine recruiting, assisting in infil/exfiltration operations, and mounting low risk sabotage operations. They will be deliberately restrained in this phase from exposing themselves by operations involving high risk or the assembly in one operation of any sizeable number of the resistance.

5. Accelerated Resistance Activities: In parallel with the necessarily time consuming effort to build a secure underground organization, it is now planned to support in the next few months larger scale infiltrations of men and arms for sabotage and perhaps ultimately guerrilla activities when well-conceived operations are proposed by reputable opposition leaders now outside the country or are requested by the resistance leadership from within. In most cases the sponsorship and ultimate responsibility for such operations will rest with Cubans and the Agency's role will be that of furnishing support in the form of funds, training, equipment, communications, frequently the facilities to conduct the actual infiltration itself, and resupply following infiltration if required and feasible. These will necessarily be higher risk operations in which some casualties must be anticipated. It will be impossible to conceal U.S. geographical origin but every effort will be made not only possibly to forestall identification of U.S. Government support but also to avoid any appearance of U.S. Government control or ultimate responsibility. What will be impossible to disprove is that the Cubans responsible obtain help in the U.S.

6. Air Operations: If the internal resistance grows, it will be desirable at some point to undertake air resupply missions. These would be conducted by Cuban crews using common types of commercial aircraft. They will be night missions and would be undertaken only if reception parties had been identified and were in possession of agent radio sets and, hopefully, beacons so that resupply could be carried out with reasonable efficiency. Aside from such air activity, proposals have been received for both leaflet drops and bombing raids. One successful leaflet mission was recently conducted by Cubans from Florida entirely on their own after Agency support had been refused. Such operations rather infrequently carried out may have a useful morale effect. Up to the present time it has been felt that air bombing, quite aside from international repercussions, would be contraproductive in its effect on the Cubans.

274. Inter-Agency Staff Study

Washington, undated.

//Source: Department of State, ARA/CCA Files: Lot 66 D 501, Inter-Agency Staff Study. Secret; Eyes Only. The source text is undated, but a draft of the study, found in the same file, is dated November 9. No additional drafting information is given on the source text, but Robert Hurwitch of ARA/CMA is listed as the drafter on the preliminary draft, and the other agencies listed to receive copies, and presumably to comment, were Defense and CIA. The study was apparently prepared in conjunction with the planning exercise initiated with the establishment of Operation Mongoose on November 3. The annexes cited in the study were not found attached to the source text.


This study has as its purpose to determine the courses of action which the U.S. would follow with reference to Cuba in the event of Fidel Castro's death in order to insure the replacement of the Castro regime with a friendly government.

A. Background of Present Situation in Cuba.

Castro Cuba, dominated by the Sino-Soviet Bloc, poses a serious threat to the peace and security of the hemisphere. Within Cuba, the Castro regime is encountering currently serious economic difficulties . If the regime maintains its present firm political control of the island, however, and if there is a continued high level of Bloc assistance, conditions could begin to improve after 1962. (See Annex A.)

Nine Latin American nations no longer maintain diplomatic relations with Cuba. The more important Latin American nations, however, maintain relations and are for a variety of reasons still reluctant to break relations with or join in collective action against Cuba. (See Annex B.)

Destruction of the Castro regime and of the Communist apparatus is in the U.S. national interest.

Sino-Soviet Bloc provides political and economic and military support to the Castro regime to promote Bloc objectives in Latin America. We do not believe the Sino-Soviet Bloc would defend Cuba militarily, although they have the capability to do so.

Asian and African neutrals are generally split on the Castro issue while NATO and SEATO allies share U.S. evaluation of the problem but regard it as a U.S. responsibility.

B. Contingency: The Death of Fidel Castro or Other Elimination of Castro, and the Existence of Certain Minimum Military-Political Conditions.

1. Assumptions:

The courses of action which follow are based upon the assumption that in the event of Castro's death the Communist Party in Cuba would maintain control. Dorticos would probably continue as President and Raul Castro would probably assume the Premiership. The Cuban militia, the largest and most effective armed force in Cuba, would respond promptly to Raul's orders and would exterminate whatever scattered outbreaks of resistance may have occurred. The subsequent reign of terror would quickly establish the successor regime in control and would crush any hope of effective U.S. intervention short of a massive assault. The defense of Cuba under Raul would probably be ruthless and pushed to even greater extremes than under Fidel. The successor regime would, regardless of U.S. action, blame the U.S. for Castro's death and would launch a violent anti-U.S. propaganda campaign. There would not be an attack against Guantanamo. (See Annex C.)

Latin American Governments and public opinion would generally believe that the U.S. was responsible for Castro's death. Latin American Governments and important sectors of the population would nevertheless not publicly challenge our statement of innocence. Communist and pro-Communist elements as well as extreme nationalists and opportunistic political opponents of the existing governments would undoubtedly launch anti-American campaigns, with anti-Government overtones. These campaigns would probably include demonstrations and attacks against U.S. official installations. There would be no significant changes in the number of nations which do not maintain relations with Cuba. (See Annex D.)

Meanwhile in the U.S. the popular desire for vigorous action against Cuba would increase as a result of the Cuban regime's likely actions following Castro's death. The Sino-Soviet Bloc would increase the propaganda campaign against the U.S. possibly including threats of military support which the Bloc would not supply. Insofar as the rest of the world is concerned the Communist inspired propaganda campaign would probably be echoed by a majority of neutralist nations. The U.S. would be widely blamed for Castro's death.

2. Courses of Action:

The courses of action which we would pursue fall into four principal categories:

1. Upon news of the death or other elimination of Castro from Cuban scene we would order that the U.S. armed forces prepare immediately for armed intervention in Cuba in a manner that these preparations are kept from public knowledge and are subject to immediate halt.

2. Before intervening in Cuba we would determine on the basis of reliable intelligence whether the minimum desirable political conditions in Cuba exist, namely:

(a) that events stemming from Castro's death have created a chaotic situation where (1) the successor government would perpetrate widespread atrocities against its own people; (2) resistance would be open and widespread; (3) dissidents would take and appear in a position to hold for several days some Cuban territory; and (4) a substantial group of dissidents would call for outside assist-ance.

(b) that Latin American Governments would be in a position to resist internal pressures to undertake significant anti-U.S. measures both domestic and/or in the OAS.

(c) that the Sino-Soviet Bloc, according to the best intelligence estimates at the time, would not engage in major military action.

(d) that remaining friendly governments would be in a position to resist internal pressures to undertake significant anti-U.S. measures both domestic and/or in the U.N.

(e) that U.S. Congressional and public opinion would generally support the President's action. The armed forces would have five days notice before being ordered to intervene in order to assemble the requisite forces to accomplish its mission.

3. If it is determined that the minimum desirable political conditions exist in Cuba as above enumerated we would review the international situation and determine whether the danger posed by the Castro regime to the U.S. national security is of such an order of magnitude as to justify intervention in Cuba of U.S. forces, which would be contrary to international law including the UN Charter and OAS commitments.

4. If after reviewing the international situation we determine that armed intervention in Cuba is in the overall national interest we would order intervention in Cuba with the use of U.S. armed forces.

C. Conclusions.

1. Reaction to U.S. Invasion:

In the event of the invasion of Cuba by the U.S. we have concluded the successor regime would mobilize all its forces and would attempt to rally public support. Most of the people would passively wait to see what happens. Many persons would defect from the Castro forces and the underground would become more active. The elements committed to the regime would fight and numerous individuals and groups would resist until physically eliminated.

Although many Latin American Governments and important segments of the population would privately welcome the elimination of communism from Cuba, they would publicly decry U.S. military action as intervention and consequently a flagrant violation of U.S. commitments in the OAS (for these commitments, see Annex E). The Communist and pro-Castro elements, as well as extreme nationalist and opportunistic political opponents of the existing governments would intensify their anti-American campaigns and would succeed to the extent of seriously threatening the stability of some governments and/or obtaining public denunciation of the U.S. followed in some instances by measures against U.S. national interests in those countries, including private American investments and the Alliance for Progress program. One or more Latin American nations might propose OAS action adverse to U.S. interests, which the U.S. could probably delay.

The Sino-Soviet Bloc would not use military force in Cuba but might apply pressure in other areas. Communist propaganda apparatus would attack U.S. on world-wide basis. The Bloc would introduce or support in the UN a resolution condemning the U.S.

A majority of the neutral nations as well as important sectors of the population would publicly condemn the U.S. Most of the neutrals would support a Bloc-inspired UN resolution charging the U.S. with having violated its commitments to the UN. (For these commitments, see Annex F.)

The political penalties which the U.S. will suffer as a result of having invaded Cuba in violation of U.S. international commitments, including those to the UN and OAS, are severe, but can be borne. The serious criticism of the U.S. which will be aroused by this illegal and interventionist act will be offset by the reservoir of good will which the U.S. enjoys throughout the Free World. Although the U.S. cannot defend this action as justified under international law, we can stress the morality of the action on the basis that a chaotic, near civil war situation exists off our shores where millions of Cubans are seeking freedom by throwing off the Communist yoke and have requested our assistance.

The disappearance of Castro from the Cuban political scene under widely-known conditions of chaos and open resistance to his regime will help destroy the Castro myth and the appeal his regime has had for the peoples of many underdeveloped nations.

The destruction of a Communist regime and its replacement by a friendly government will remove a threat to the peace and security of the hemisphere and will weaken the belief that the Communist Bloc is the eventual winner of the world struggle and should therefore be placated rather than opposed.

Our relations with friendly nations will remain good, after perhaps a slight deterioration in certain instances. American investments will suffer less in the long run than they would if Castro-Communism continued and spread throughout the hemisphere. The Alliance for Progress program will not encounter serious obstacles as a result of this action. If the operation is quickly and successfully accomplished, the political damage will be correspondingly reduced.

Widespread organized Communist disturbances will occur immediately but the more quickly the Castro regime is crushed the greater the difficulty the Communists will encounter in maintaining existing disturbances and in mounting further disturbances. A successful invasion may strengthen the will of Latin American Governments to destroy the Communist menace in their own countries.

The Congress and the people of the U.S. will applaud the action.

2. Suitability and Feasibility of Plan:

The U.S. steps proposed above are suitable for the quick eradication of the Castro regime and its replacement by a friendly government. We can foresee no way other than invasion to accomplish the objective as stated in the problem.

The proposed steps are feasible. The logistics problem is simplified because of the proximity of Cuba to the U.S. and its great distance from the Bloc. We have the preponderance of military and economic power to carry out the task quickly.

Cuba is not believed to be important enough to the Soviet Union to justify the risk of a major war. Moreover, the USSR cannot supply a significant force over long sea distances against the hostile navy. Therefore, the USSR will not intervene militarily. The USSR may increase its pressure in Berlin, Laos or other parts of the world, but will stop short of a direct major confrontation with the U.S.

3. Acceptability as to Cost:

Castro's armed forces now have the ability to inflict significant losses upon an invading force. We believe, however, that losses would be acceptable given the size and power of the forces we plan to bring against Cuba. Our forces in other parts of the world must be prepared to handle increased brush-fire actions generated by the Soviet Bloc.

The Nation's economy can sustain any armed intervention in Cuba and the subsequent program of rehabilitation in Cuba.

D. Contingency Check List.

1. U.S. Resources to Accomplish Objective of Replacing Castro Regime with Friendly Government:

(a) U.S. military

(b) Cuban exiles

(c) Cuban underground

(d) Diplomatic influence

(e) Economic resources to assist friendly government

(f) Psychological warfare

(g) Favorable minority of Latin American countries

(h) Favorable minority in rest of world

(i) Possible but improbable token military support from L.A.

2. Resources of Cuba and Sino-Soviet Bloc to Prevent Accomplishment of Objective:

(a) Cuban forces, Cuban Communist apparatus, and partial public support

(b) Communist international apparatus (apart from military intervention in Cuba)

(c) Possible world-wide military and paramilitary pressure

(d) Denunciation in international organizations of U.S. intervention

(e) Communist-inspired demonstrations in Latin America against Americans and against anti-Communist governments

3. U.S. Steps to Accomplish Objective:


(a) Create the above-described minimum desirable conditions in Cuba (see 2(c), page 5 above)

Action: CIA, DOD, State-USIA

(b) Make known world-wide the creation of the minimum desirable conditions as they occur, as well as progress toward them.

Action: State-USIA, CIA

(c) Sound out the Chiefs of State of two countries regarding possible use of token forces with due regard for security. (Annex G)

Action: State

(d) Evaluate and designate among Cuban exiles and underground groups those individuals who could best participate in the formation of an initial Cuban national, provincial, and municipal government.

Action: State (exiles), CIA (underground)

(e) Review and improve as necessary existing structure for liaison and coordination within the Executive Department to insure that CINC-LANT is kept aware of all aspects of the political and military situation. Augment CINCLANT's staff, as necessary.

Action: State, Defense, CIA

(f) Lay groundwork for psychological warfare and press information programs for invasion support.

Action: State-USIA

(g) Keep key members of Congress progressively informed regarding general situation in Cuba.

Action: State

Invasion Period

(a) Invade Cuba with U.S. forces under CINCLANT.

Action: DOD

(b) Inform L.A. Governments that invasion is underway and warn them they can shortly expect Communist-directed violence in their countries. Invite their support and offer them assistance.

Action: State

(c) Organize participation of anti-Castro forces and coordinate their activities with CINCLANT.

Action: DOD, CIA, State

(d) Launch all-out psychological warfare and propaganda campaign for all sectors, stressing the morality of the intervention.

Action: State-USIA, CIA and DOD

(e) Use diplomatic action to reduce criticism of U.S. action insofar as possible.

Action: State

(f) Organize civil government with participation of designated Cubans.

Action: DOD, State, CIA

(g) Provide program for immediate emergency assistance to civil populace.

Action: DOD, State

(h) Arrange for participation and support by other L.A. forces which may be induced to join.

Action: DOD, State

Post Invasion Phase

(a) Seek out and eliminate pro-Communist resistance.

Action: DOD, CIA

(b) Continue occupation in force and replace, as feasible, military government installed during invasion with provisional Cuban government.

Action: State, CIA, DOD

(c) Provide plan for long-range economic assistance. (See Annex K)

Action: State, AID

(d) Take measures to control entry into Cuba.

Action: State

(e) Re-establish a U.S. Country Team in Habana.

Action: State

275. Memorandum for the Record

Washington, November 22, 1961.

//Source: Central Intelligence Agency, DCI (McCone) Files: Job 80-B01285A, Box 5, DCI (McCone), Caribbean Survey Group. Secret; Eyes Only. Drafted by McCone.

Monday, November 20, 1961, 7:00 pm, President Kennedy called personally and asked that I meet with him and Attorney General Robert Kennedy at 4:30 pm the following day.

The meeting was held for the purpose of discussing all possible courses of action in Cuba. Present were:

The President

Robert Kennedy

General Lansdale

Mr. Goodwin of the White House staff.

The President explained that General Lansdale had been engaging in a study of possible action in Cuba, acting under the direction of the Attorney General, and he, the President, desired an immediate plan of action which could be submitted to him within two weeks.

The Attorney General expressed grave concern over Cuba, the necessity for immediate dynamic action, indicating that such action would embody a variety of covert operations, propaganda, all possible actions that would create dissensions within Cuba and would discredit the Castro regime, and political action with members of the OAS in support of the action. He proposed that the Lansdale committee be made up of representatives of CIA, State, USIA and DOD (Lansdale) and that it be organized so that this committee could "cut across" organization channels within the agencies.

McCone's views were solicited and he stated:

a) That he observed that the Agency and indeed the Administration appeared to be in a condition of "shock" as a result of the happenings in Cuba and, therefore, were doing very little. He supported dynamic action but emphasized that action should not be reckless.

b) He supported the Lansdale committee concept.

c) This committee should report to the "5412" group, which he stated was properly organized, met regularly, had senior representation, and was a proper unit to give political guidance to the Lansdale committee and also to evaluate action proposals of the committee.

d) He proposed that the facilities of all Departments of Government and the CIA be made available to the extent needed, but these facilities be maintained "in place" and that under no circumstances should an attempt be made to "lift" elements of departments or agencies out of their "in place" position and placed under the Lansdale group. He explained that the resources or assets of the departments and the CIA were most extensive and depended upon support, logistics, communications, etc. which were an integral part of the departments and agencies, and if an attempt was made to "lift" certain activities, these activities could not properly function because of lack of support and communication.

The above points seemed to be generally agreed, and it was decided that Robert Kennedy would attend the "5412" committee on Wednesday, November 22nd, to discuss the plan.

McCone advised Robert Kennedy his plans to leave Washington for a few days and offered to revise his travel plans if necessary, but Kennedy felt this not necessary.

The above was discussed in considerably more detail between General Lansdale and McCone in the President's office after the meeting. Lansdale confirmed the possibility that he would be required to go to South Viet Nam as a Special Advisor to President Diem and, therefore, might be available for only two or three weeks. It was therefore obvious that he must be backed up by a very able officer who can take over if Lansdale leaves.

Lansdale then proposed that Mr. James Critchfield be the CIA man on his committee, indicating that Critchfield was a most able and experienced officer.

On Wednesday, November 22nd, all of the above was reviewed at a meeting in Mr. Dulles' office, attended by Mr. Dulles, General Cabell, Mr. Bissell, Mr. Helms, Mr. Kirkpatrick and Mr. McCone. There was general agreement on all the points mentioned above. Mr. Bissell proposed alternate names to Critchfield, feeling Critchfield could not easily be spared from his present responsibilities.

McCone urged that the most able man available be placed at Lansdale's disposal, even at some inconvenience to other operations because in all probability this man, if he won the confidence of the "5412" committee, the Attorney General and the President, would have to fill Lansdale's responsibilities when Lansdale left. McCone left the meeting with the question of the individual unresolved.

276. Memorandum for the Record

Washington, November 29, 1961, 9-10:20 a.m.

//Source: Central Intelligence Agency, DCI (McCone) Files: Job 80-B01285A, Box 2, DCI (McCone) Memo for the Record, 29 November 1961-5 April 1962. Secret; Eyes Only. Prepared by McCone.

Discussion with Attorney General Robert Kennedy, 9:00 to 10:20 a.m., November 29, 1961.

(1) Cuba.

K. reviewed briefly Cuban experience stating his report to the President/1/ was written in a single copy which would be given to me today for reading and return--highly critical of CIA and JCS, particularly critical of Bissell for statements made to President that operation would succeed, or at best substantial guerrilla complement be landed in Cuba for future operations--criticized Bissell because Pigs Bay area not guerrilla country and surveys establishing area as guerrilla country had been made in 1895--criticized JCS for having spent only twenty minutes on operation prior first reporting to President endorsing operation.

/1/Not found.

[Here follows discussion of other subjects.]

(12) Activities of the Lansdale group were discussed. Lansdale will probably not go to South Vietnam; he will head an inter-agency group. Kennedy resented CIA resistance to this idea, hoped that we would appoint the most able man to the Lansdale committee (not J.C. King) and agreed without reservation that the Lansdale committee must operate under the 5412 Committee.

John A. McCone/2/


/2/Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.

277. Memorandum From General Edward Lansdale to Attorney General Kennedy

//Source: Department of State, ARA/CCA Files: Lot 66 D 501, Cuban Project-1962. Secret; Eyes Only. A note on the source text indicates that a copy was sent to Goodwin.

Washington, November 30, 1961.

Friday/1/ is apparently the "day of decision" for your special project. General Taylor's group has it scheduled as the main item for discussion.

/1/December 1.

A special Intelligence Estimate/2/ seems to be the major evidence to be used to oppose your project. Copies have just been made available this afternoon, and one is attached./3/ I have underlined key conclusions.

/2/SNIE 85-61; see Document 271.

/3/Not found attached.

I suggest two points:

1. The intelligence which supports conclusions about the internal situation is far from adequate.

2. The conclusion on page 4, paragraph 9, concerning the possibility of an uprising being fomented is a "conclusion of fact" quite outside the area of intelligence. The key factor in such a conclusion must be our own ability to take action. It is the heart of our proposal that we can take effective action, if proper management is provided.

278. Memorandum From President Kennedy

Washington, November 30, 1961.

//Source: Kennedy Library, President's Office Files, Countries Series, Cuba, Security, 1961. Top Secret; Eyes Only. Internal evidence indicates that the memorandum was apparently drafted by McGeorge Bundy. An earlier version of this memorandum was sent to the same seven people on November 22. (Department of State, Central Files, 737.00/11-2261) The most significant difference between the two memoranda was that the responsibilities assigned to General Lansdale under point 2 in the November 30 memorandum had been assigned to Attorney General Kennedy in the November 22 memorandum, with Lansdale in a subordinate role as the Attorney General's Chief of Operations. Point 4 in the November 22 memorandum reads "The NSC 5412 group will be informed of activities." The Attorney General was included under point 6 in the November 22 memorandum among those listed as controlling dissemination of knowledge of the operation.


The Secretary of State

The Secretary of Defense

The Director of CIA

The Attorney General

General Taylor

General Lansdale

Richard Goodwin

The following is a summary of the major decisions which have been made in regard to the Cuba Operation.

1. We will use our available assets to go ahead with the discussed project in order to help Cuba overthrow the communist regime.

2. This program will be conducted under the general guidance of General Lansdale, acting as Chief of Operations. It will be conducted by him through the appropriate regular organizations and Departments of the government.

3. The program will be reviewed in two weeks in order to determine whether General Lansdale will continue as Chief of Operations.

4. The NSC 5412 group will be kept closely informed of activities and be available for advice and recommendation.

5. The Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense and the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency will appoint senior officers of their department as personal representatives to assist the Chief of Operations as required. These senior officers should be able to exercise--either themselves or through the Secretaries and Director--effective operational control over all aspects of their Department's operations dealing with Cuba.

6. Knowledge of the existence of this operation should be restricted to the recipients of this memorandum, members of the 5412 group and the representatives appointed by the Secretaries and the Director. Any further dissemination of this knowledge will be only with the authority of the Secretaries of State or Defense or the Chief of Operations.

279. Editorial Note

On December 1, 1961, President Kennedy issued a proclamation, under the provisions of section 408 (b) of the Sugar Act of 1948, as amended, in which he established that the sugar quota for Cuba, for the first 6 months of 1962, would be zero. (Proclamation No. 3440, 26 Federal Register 11714, also printed in Department of State Bulletin, January 1, 1962, page 34)

In a speech to the Cuban people the same day, Prime Minister Castro stated: "I am a Marxist-Leninist and I will continue to be a Marxist-Len-inist until the last day of my life." (The translated text of Castro's speech is printed in The New York Times, December 3, 1961) United States Representative deLesseps Morrison seized upon Castro's December 1 speech as an admission of his true Communist colors, and in a statement made before the Council of the Organization of American States on December 4, Morrison called upon the governments of the organization to protect the peoples of the hemisphere from "any extension of the treachery of Fidelismo." (American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1961, pages 320-323)

The Department of State reinforced Morrison's statement in circular telegram 1065 to all Latin American posts on December 6 instructing the posts to assess the local reaction to Castro's speech, and determine whether Castro's admission would help establish the basis for stronger measures to isolate Cuba in Latin America. (Department of State, Central Files, 737.00/12-661)

280. Draft Memorandum for the Record

Washington, December 1, 1961.

//Source: Department of State, U. Alexis Johnson Files: Lot 90 D 410. Confidential. No drafting information appears on the source text. The memorandum reports on the December 1 meeting of the Special Group (Augmented). A note attached to a copy of this memorandum in CIA files suggests that it was drafted by Parrott. (Central Intelligence Agency, DDO/DDP Files: Job 78-01450R, Box 5, Area Activity--Cuba)


The Attorney General told the Group about a series of meetings which had been held recently with higher authority. Out of these had come a decision that higher priority should be given to Cuba. General Lansdale had been designated as "Chief of Operations," with authority to call on all appropriate Government agencies for assistance, including the assignment of senior representatives from State, Defense and CIA. General Lansdale is to keep the Special Group informed of his progress, but is authorized to take actions now which are clearly desirable to strengthen operations and facilities now in being. In making this appointment, the need for General Landsdale in the Far East had been recognized but it had been decided that for the time being his responsibility would be Cuba.

After some discussion, it was agreed that General Lansdale should develop a long-range program which would be reviewed by the Special Group and then presented for approval to higher authority. At that time, formal language would be proposed to record the decision to pursue a new or revised Cuba policy. General Lansdale will meet with the Special Group next week to report progress and actions required.

General Lansdale then gave his appreciation of the situation. He said that, bearing in mind the objective of fomenting eventual revolution within Cuba, he had surveyed all resources available. He had concluded that there are a sizeable number of latent as well as active resources, but that there is a very difficult job ahead. He stressed also the necessity of coming to an agreement at some early date as to the future of Cuba after the Castro government is overthrown, so that appeals to potential resist-ance elements can be geared to a positive long-range program. General Lansdale also thought it important to obtain cooperation and assistance from selected Latin American countries, preferably those not previously involved with U.S. anti-Castro activities.

General Lansdale then said that he has looked at the proposed operation designed to sabotage a power plant. He had concluded that the conception and planning of this project has been very well done by CIA; on the other hand, he feels that it would be unwise to mount the operation in the immediate future because it would tend to increase Cuban security measures and thereby make it more difficult to get on with building up resistance elements. The Group agreed that, considering all these circumstances, the sabotage operation should be postponed. In this connection, Mr. Bissell, although not disagreeing with the decision, said that he thought it should be noted that a cancellation of plans for early December would almost certainly mean a delay of at least two months, taking into consideration the impending weather conditions as well as moon phases.

Mr. Bissell also said that he thought it desirable to proceed at once with building up the Agency's maritime capability and providing ECM equipment for two C-54's. It was agreed that these measures are consist-ent with the new approach and should be pursued.

Finally, in answer to the Chairman's question as to the significance of the two weeks review which had been elsewhere alluded to, the Attorney General said that this was intended to mean a review by the Special Group, with subsequent reference to higher authority.

281. Memorandum From the Chief of Operations, Operation Mongoose (Lansdale)

Washington, December 7, 1961.

//Source: Central Intelligence Agency, DCI (McCone) Files: Job 80-B01285A, Box 5, DCI (McCone), Caribbean Survey Group. Top Secret; Eyes Only.


General Taylor

Mr. Johnson

Mr. Gilpatric

Mr. McCone



This is to inform you, as the NSC 5412 group, of activities to date on the Cuba project, within the strict security requirements of the project directed by the President.

Policy. The President's memorandum of 30 November 1961,/1/ which was read to the Special Group at its last meeting, stated that it had been decided that the United States will use all available assets in a project to help Cuba overthrow the Communist regime.

/1/Document 278.

Concept. The decision stated above was made after consideration of a concept of how to help the Cubans overthrow the Communist regime. The regime is to be overthrown by a popular movement of Cubans from within Cuba. The movement is to have the end objective of establishing a free Cuba, of, by, and for Cubans, with the overthrow of the Communist regime a necessary step towards this end. The U.S. will help establish a Cuban nucleus within Cuba, which will work for activating a genuine popular movement to overthrow the regime, and the U.S. will help generate supporting actions for the growth of the movement, particularly in encouraging other nations of the Western Hemisphere to do likewise.

Actions. A working group has been formed by the project's Chief of Operations, with the personal representatives of the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, and the Director of Central Intelligence, as well as a selected staff. The Chief of Operations is representing the Secretary of Defense, pro tem. It is planned to employ personal representatives of the Directors of the FBI and USIA, when required. The initial work of the group has been to sharply re-orient the U.S. effort, from being simply an unintegrated series of harassment activities to become a program designed to help Cubans build a popular movement within Cuba, which can (with outside help) take effective actions deposing the Communist regime.

CIA. CIA was found to have important contacts and operational capabilities for use in achieving the policy goal set by the President. It is noted, also, that there is an impressive potential for increasing the CIA's capability. The orientation of planning and programming, however, was definitely out of phase with the objective of establishing a popular movement from within Cuba to overthrow Castro and the Communist regime. In the main, CIA thinking has been to apply militant force covertly (such as action teams for "smash and grab" raids on up to armed resistance groups), in the hope that a popular uprising would possibly harass the regime. The early task, then, has been to re-orient this 180#, with militant (sabotage, etc.) actions to be considered as part of the support of the popular movement we are generating. The basic strategy of building our action upon a genuine internal popular movement is underlined; this will apply the major lesson to be learned from earlier operations in Indonesia and Cuba.

The tasks assigned to the representative of the Director of Central Intelligence are:

a. The CIA organization directed towards Cuba is to be tightened and re-oriented with a hard look at operational effectiveness, especially the management and programs of the field station in Florida.

b. A nucleus for a popular Cuban movement will be formed and positioned within Cuba. This will include the development of a team from Cubans in the U.S., and the development of similar teams under local auspices from Caribbean countries.

c. A program for this Cuban nucleus to use will be developed. Basic intelligence concerning several initial operational points has been requested. There will be a sharp definition of incentives and of a platform for political polarization, for use with the Cuban nucleus. Further, ideas will be developed for local actions that will help generate the national movement required to force the regime out.

d. Special support projects will be readied for use on call. These projects (such as operations to scuttle shipping and otherwise hamper the regime) will be timed to support actions by the movement and to permit the movement to take credit for them. Support in terms of psychological warfare materiel (such as clandestine broadcast transmitters inside Cuba) are to be brought to a practical stand-by capability.

At the same time, the special project team is working on bold new actions to help the popular movement for CIA executive follow through. These include:

1. Enlisting the cooperation of the Church to bring the women of Cuba into actions which will undermine the Communist control system, harass the regime's economic program, and encourage a wave of non-cooperation in all segments of the population.

2. Exploiting the potential of the underworld in Cuban cities to harass and bleed the Communist control apparatus. This effort may, on a very sensitive basis, enlist the assistance of American links to the Cuban underworld. While this would be a CIA project, close cooperation of the FBI is imperative.

3. Labor, students, and other special groups are being considered for practical operational capabilities, for operations which must be mounted quite outside the framework of the existing U.S. programs which aim to match the activities of Communist fronts. This effort is to come mainly from activities in other OAS countries, and suitable Latin American case officers to undertake such positive actions are being considered on a priority basis.

4. Powerful Cuban personalities, with existing capabilities for action within Cuba and who propose a military-type of overthrow, are being assessed for a role in actions which would help generate the popular, anti-regime movement.

State. The Department of State's actions have been essentially at the formal diplomatic level, and thus quite passive or reactive. State must develop and use its dynamic possibilities in political and economic warfare which will be crucial for the success of a popular movement within Cuba.

The representative of the Secretary of State has been tasked with:

a. The possibilities for strong and effective OAS encouragement of the Cuban people in a popular movement will be exploited, particularly noting the President's forthcoming visit to Latin America and the Secretary of State's actions with the OAS in January.

b. State will help with the nucleus for a popular Cuban movement, particularly in the development of a political platform and in the continuing development and public support of leadership (noting necessary consideration of existing Cuban emigre groups and their future cooperation with the internal Cuban movement).

c. Certain supporting actions will be undertaken by State, notably:

1). Appropriately enlisting the initiative of Latin American countries separately in action programs which encourage the popular movement within Cuba. This is being closely coordinated with a similar task assigned to CIA.

2). Making available the names of American returnees from Cuba, for screening in conjunction with CIA for possible leads to operational contacts.

d. Develop, in consultation with top State officials, a practical plan for economic warfare which fully applies the U.S. capability to frustrate the Communist economic program for Cuba. Definite and decisive actions by other U.S. organizations (including Treasury, Commerce, and Agriculture) are to be enlisted under the direction of the Department of State.

Defense. The main Department of Defense role is indicated as one of contingency support in later phases of the popular movement's development. To this end, improved arrangements for training, personnel, and military hardware support of covert operations is under active study. However, immediate support of State and CIA actions is being activated, particularly in the field of intelligence and in consideration of maritime and air needs in readiness for the time when CIA operations require such support. Planning for overt U.S. military operations is not envisioned under this policy.

USIA. The U.S. Information Agency's role in providing open support for developing the popular movement within Cuba is an important one, but must be correctly timed with the actual commencement of the movement. The U.S. will be identified as being in sympathy with the just and true aspirations of the Cuban people, aspirations which are being killed by a Communist dictatorship. Discussion with a designated USIA representative is being scheduled.

Justice. Support from the Department of Justice, particularly the security and investigative capabilities of the FBI and the INS, is being planned through a special representative of the Attorney General.

HEW, Other U.S. Agencies. The support capabilities of other U.S. organizations are being considered and will be brought into the project as appears most practical.

EG Lansdale

Brigadier General, USAF

282. Memorandum for the Record

Washington, December 8, 1961.

//Source: Department of State, INR/IL Historical Files, S.G. 22, December 14, 1961. Secret; Eyes Only. Prepared by Parrott.


Minutes of Special Group Meeting, 8 December 1961


General Taylor, Mr. Johnson, Mr. Gilpatric, General Cabell

General Lansdale attended for items 1 and 2

[Here follows discussion unrelated to Cuba.]

2. Cuba

General Lansdale presented the outline of a program/1/ designed to overthrow the Castro government. This program is centered around the selection and eventual introduction into Cuba of a nucleus of anti-Castro Cubans; once they are in the country and in a position to operate, then a number of collateral supporting actions would be undertaken.

/1/See Document 281.

It was agreed that the immediate requirement was for the selection of a suitable group which could agree on a platform for an eventual new government, and which is willing and capable of carrying out the proposed tasks inside the country. When a selection has been made the program will be discussed further with higher authority.

It was noted that General Lansdale would report periodically to the Special Group on progress he is making.

[Here follows discussion unrelated to Cuba.]

Thomas A. Parrott/2/

/2/Printed from a copy that indicates Parrott signed the original.

283. Memorandum for the Record

Washington, December 14, 1961.

//Source: Central Intelligence Agency, DCI (McCone) Files: Job 80-B01285A, Box 5, DCI (McCone), Caribbean Survey Group. Top Secret; Eyes Only. Prepared by J.S. Earman, McCone's Executive Assistant.


Mr. McCone, General Cabell, Mr. Bissell, Mr. Amory, Mr. Helms, Mr. Sheldon, Mr. Kent, Mr. Bross, Mr. Montague, Mr. Earman

1. Mr. McCone stated that the purpose of this meeting was to discuss and make known to those present U.S. policy toward successfully overthrowing the Castro regime. At this point the Director read a memorandum, which had been approved by the President, establishing a group composed of Brig. General Edward Lansdale, Assistant to the Secretary of Defense, as the Chief of Operations and representatives from State, Defense, and CIA, and USIA and the Department of Justice (FBI) as required, for the purpose of carrying out of the above-stated policy./1/ He commented that the President had discussed Cuba with the Attorney General who in turn had brought Lansdale into the program. The Director said he wanted to make it clear that the basic policy as approved by the President is to assist the Cubans in overthrowing the Communist regime in Cuba. Mr. McCone also noted that the last sentence of the memorandum referred to above provided that only the Secretaries of State and Defense or the Chief of Operations could approve the information contained therein being made available to other than those represented on the group and stated this had been amended to allow the DCI the same authority. The Director said that when he had been approached for comments on the above-mentioned memo, he had indicated that (1) he favored the establishment of the group, (2) it should be responsible to the Special Group (5412), and (3) the internal organization and facilities of the participating agencies should be utilized and there should not be created a separate and outside entity.

/1/Apparent reference to Document 278.

2. The Director then read the memorandum from General Lansdale addressed to the members of the 5412 Group outlining activities to date on this project,/2/ and noted his intention of obtaining permission to have copies made and circulated on a strict need-to-know basis. In this connection, the Director said that knowledge of this project must be held to an absolute minimum; however, he did not intend to skip any echelons in the Agency in obtaining advice and support. He said it was perfectly clear from the Lansdale memorandum that the whole action is by and large that of CIA and that the President and the Attorney General had directed him (DCI) to keep in close personal contact with all activities and operations relating to this project. He noted that Lansdale had initially suggested that Mr. Helms be designated as the CIA representative and report only to the DCI. Mr. McCone said he had refused this concept and made it clear that this refusal was not based on any misgivings about Mr. Helms' capabilities but, rather, is based on his policy of obtaining the advice and support of other senior officers also. He remarked that, as he sees it, this is a community project within the strict security limitations imposed by the President, with action, however, at the Helms level. He stated that the Agency will of course provide Lansdale with all support and assistance following the guidelines laid down by the Special Group.

/2/Document 281.

3. The Director noted that in addition to actions taken, he desires that there be provided a continuous evaluation of the probabilities of success and that these evaluations by and large will be carried out by DD/I. In response to a query from the Director, Mr. Amory stated it would not be necessary for more than about five or six people in his area to be knowledgeable of this program, i.e., Messrs. Amory, Kent, Sheldon, Montague, and Brown. The Director again emphasized that while it is his desire to keep knowledge of this program narrow, he does not wish to skip any echelons that might contribute to its success.

4. The Director commented that Lansdale had criticized the April 1961 Cuban operation by stating that CIA had "jumped" at paramilitary operations, sabotage, etc., without creating a political climate within Cuba to accept such activities. The Director also said that Lansdale had made a similar comment about the [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] operation.

5. Referring back to the Lansdale memorandum, the DCI emphasized the following actions taken and findings to date by the Lansdale group:

[Here follows a summary of General Lansdale's memorandum, Document 281.]

6. With regard to the use of Cubans, the Director said he desires that every possible security check be made and, in connection with current authorized operations directed against Cuba, he desires that each one be examined to ensure that they are within the bounds of the U.S. policy toward Cuba as previously indicated. Mr. Bissell commented that there are certain low-level types of sabotage operations now planned to show that resistance is still in fact alive and that General Lansdale has concurred that they be carried out. He also noted that one of our highest priorities is to build a resistance net and every effort is being made to hold down the natural desire to carry out sabotage actions willy-nilly. Mr. Bissell also said it is necessary to move people in and out of Cuba and he considers this type of activity as falling within the terms of reference of the President's policy. Mr. Bissell remarked that in following the doctrine of preparing the proper political climate as outlined by Lansdale, he wanted to point out that it is not easy to start a mass political movement in a police state. This he said was made abundantly clear during the April 1961 operations when the Cubans used the militia and even families for reporting on anyone opposed to Castro. He stated that the mass movement envisaged for Cuba must be developed by political sentiment. Mr. McCone noted this agreement and remarked that this can be accomplished by getting to the dissidents, the mothers, the man on the street and in the field, etc. It was noted that such action can best be accomplished by a small clandestine organization rather than a large group trying to cover the waterfront.

7. Mr. Sheldon asked whether it is planned that the nets now established in Cuba will be assigned to covert intelligence collection and Mr. Bissell advised that this is a first priority.

8. Mr. Amory pointed out that the plan for Cuba as outlined in this discussion in his opinion is a very long-range problem, and commented that no authoritarian regime has been overthrown in the 20th Century by popular uprising from within without some kind of support--war or otherwise.

9. General Cabell commented that we must be careful to keep our records straight and that he too agreed that this is a long-range problem. He pointed out that Lansdale is often inclined to commit and promise that CIA can do more than we are capable. He said we must not allow anyone to commit the Agency to a task it cannot fulfill. The Director commented that he fully agreed and directed that careful memoranda for the record be prepared on all actions directed, taken, or refused.

10. Mr. Amory suggested that a review be made of the question as to whether or not Guantanamo should be used as a base of operations. He said if the answer is in the affirmative and Castro attempts to throw the U.S. out, then the U.S. would be faced with formulating a new policy toward Cuba. Mr. Amory also commented that in connection with infiltration of agents and supplies by sea, he would suggest that DD/P consider getting in touch with the Stevens Brothers who are, in his opinion, the foremost experts on small boat operations. The Director concurred.

11. In connection with the article appearing in the Washington Post of 14 December 1961 regarding Operation [less than 1 line of source text not declassified], the Director stated it appeared to him that the breakdown was caused by improper and/or inadequate maintenance of equipment. He directed that in future maritime operations, and all others insofar as feasible, a system of checks and double checks be established, and necessary dry runs be made or back-up craft be readied and, where warranted, participate in the actual operation. Mr. Bross commented that the new Chief of Station for the DD/P installation in Florida had been instructed to review all maritime equipment and operations as the first matter of business upon reporting to the Station today.

J.S. Earman

Executive Officer

284. Memorandum for the Record

Washington, December 21, 1961.

//Source: Department of State, INR/IL Historical Files, S.G. 24, January 5, 1962. Secret; Eyes Only. Prepared by Parrott on December 22.


Minutes of Special Group Meeting, 21 December 1961


General Taylor; Mr. Johnson; Mr. Gilpatric and General Lemnitzer; Mr. McCone and Mr. Bissell

[Here follows discussion unrelated to Cuba.]

2. Cuba

General Lansdale gave a brief progress report. He stressed the fact that the proposed operation is primarily a political one, and that economic and paramilitary aspects are secondary to the political. Steps have been taken to increase intelligence coverage and to begin preparations for economic warfare.

General Lansdale felt that by perhaps the first week in January he would be in a position to present certain proposals to the Special Group for policy decision, or for transmission to higher authority./1/ It was noted that if the necessity for quick policy decisions should arise before the next meeting, arrangements could be made to secure concurrence of members of the Group individually.

/1/Johnson's debriefing notes on the meeting, prepared at the Department of State, indicate that the President wanted Cuba to be given high priority. According to the notes, McCone remarked that Cuba would be a long-term job. (Ibid.)

[Here follows discussion unrelated to Cuba.]

Thomas A. Parrott/2/

/2/Printed from a copy that indicates Parrott signed the original.

285. Memorandum for the File

Washington, December 27, 1961, 2:45 p.m.

//Source: Central Intelligence Agency, DCI (McCone) Files: Job 80-B01285A, Box 2, DCI (McCone) Memo for the Record, 29 November 1961-5 April 1962. Secret; Eyes Only. Prepared by McCone.


Discussion with Attorney General Robert Kennedy, 2:45 P.M., 27 December 1961

[Here follows discussion of other subjects.]

5. With regard to the Lansdale operation, McCone advised Mr. Kennedy substantially along the lines of his statement to the Special Group as covered by a memorandum attached to the minutes of last Thursday's meeting, December 21./1/ McCone also stated that CIA was preparing for consideration by Lansdale a series of actions each of which would fit into the policy guidance established by Lansdale. Both McCone and Helms (who was present at this part of the discussion) pointed out the very great difficulty of creating an effective internal political resistance to a well-organized, authoritarian regime equipped with a substantial military force and an effective internal security police. As an example McCone stated that of the 27 or 28 agents CIA now has in Cuba, only 12 are in communication and these communications are infrequent. A team of 7 that were infiltrated December 19th were captured and two of them were on TV in a "confession show" last Saturday night, December 23rd.

/1/The memorandum cited has not been found. For a record of the December 21 meeting, see Document 284.

John A. McCone/2/

/2/Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.

[end of document]


Department Seal Return to Foreign Relations of the U.S., Vol. X, Cuba.

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