CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY

1998

Inspector General's Bay of Pigs Report

Text of the CIA Inspector General's 1962 report on the Cuban operation, released to the public on 21 February 1998, and of Deputy Director of Plans Richard Bissell's rebuttal is available in Peter Kornbluh, ed., Bay of Pigs Declassified: The Secret CIA Report on the Invasion of Cuba (New York: New Press, 1998).

A CIA Press Release, dated 4 June 1998, from the Public Affairs Office notes that the CIA has transferred to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) "an initial group of historical records" concerning the Bay of Pigs operation. Approximately 3,200 pages of declassified CIA documents were transferred.

Chapman, Robert D. "You Gotta Know When to Hold." International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 11, no. 2 (Summer 1998): 221-239.

Although much of this review article concerns Fursenko and Naftali, "One Hell of a Gamble" (1997), the author also comments on Lyman Kirkpatrick's report on the Bay of Pigs operation. He finds that "[s]ome of what Mr. Kirkpatrick wrote is correct but much is not.... Mr. Kirkpatrick should have known better. That being so, a question of motivation creeps into any critique of his report."

Kornbluh, Peter. "The CIA Secret Kept for 37 Years." Washington Post, 15 Mar. 1998, C1. "Keeping a Fiasco Under Wraps." Washington Post National Weekly Edition, 23 Mar. 1998, 23.

This is an Op-Ed piece on the release of "The Inspector General's Survey of the Cuban Operation." The author uses the opportunity to rage against the "abuse of secrecy" and "the agency's traditional pathology of secrecy." The problem is that his presentation is so filled with spite that it is difficult to sort the relevant points from the bile.

Kornbluh, Peter, ed. Bay of Pigs Declassified: The Secret CIA Report on the Invasion of Cuba. New York: New Press, 1998.

Clark comment: This reprint of the CIA Inspector General's report includes Deputy Director for Plans Richard Bissell's rebuttal. The editor has also included a chronology and other materials. Thomas Powers, NYRB, 4 Feb. 1999, says that this is "one of the half dozen basic texts on the United States and Cuba in the 1960s, and that makes it required reading for anyone who wants to understand what happened to the United States after World War II."

Warner, Michael. "The CIA's Internal Probe of the Bay of Pigs Affair." Studies in Intelligence (Winter 1998-1999): 93-101.

The author argues that neither the IG's Survey nor the DDP's response (drafted by Tracy Barnes) presented "clear insights that could instruct Agency leaders and planners." The DDP could "have served the CIA better by drafting a careful analysis of the operation" and its underlying assumptions. On Kirkpatrick's side, the IG "approved a rambling report and then bungled its presentation to CIA's principals."

[Warren, Ward W.] "Inspector General: Master of All He Surveys." Periscope 22, no. 2 (1998): 6-7.

Warren's essay assessing the Inspector General's report on the Bay of Pigs operation deserves to have appeared in a forum with wider dissemination than the house organ of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers. Warren writes directly to the point, not to justify mistakes that were made, but to balance the wealth of misanalysis that has accompanied the release of the report. As Warren points out, "the report and its author do not represent the vessel of absolute truth.... The Bay of Pigs was a CIA blunder, but Kirkpatrick's report is a misleading description of the causes and the lessons of that blunder." Click for text of Warren's essay.

A letter from Tom Polgar, Periscope 21.3, takes issues with Warren's assessment of the IG report. To Polgar "[t]he report was accurate in all its essential elements.... Kirkpatrick's report highlighted the errors of omission and of commission which continued to plague CIA's Cuban operations."

Weiner, Tim. "C.I.A. Bares Own Bungling in Bay of Pigs Report." New York Times, 22 Feb. 1998 [http://www.nytimes.com].

The CIA's internal report on the Bay of Pigs operation, written by Inspector General Lyman Kirkpatrick, is harshly critical of the Agency in its management of the abortive invasion of Castro's Cuba.

The paper also carries excerpts from the report, which states that: "The agency committed at least four extremely serious mistakes in planning:

"a. Failure to subject the project, especially in its latter frenzied stages, to a cold and objective appraisal by the best operating talent available, particularly by those not involved in the operation, such as the Chief of Operations and the chiefs of the Senior Staffs. Had this been done, the two following mistakes (b and c, below) might have been avoided.

"b. Failure to advise the president, at an appropriate time, that success had become dubious and to recommend that the operation be therefore canceled and that the problem of unseating Castro be restudied.

"c. Failure to recognize that the project had become overt and that the military effort had become too large to be handled by the agency alone.

"d. Failure to reduce successive project plans to formal papers and to leave copies of them with the president and his advisers and to request specific written approval and confirmation thereof."

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