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Bay of Pigs Declassified: The Secret CIA Report on the Invasion of Cuba [Paperback]

Peter Kornbluh
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 28.95 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Book Description

Oct. 1 1998 National Security Archive Documents Reader
Including the complete report and a wealth of supplementary materials, this volume provides a fascinating picture of the operation and of the secret world of the espionage establishment, with elements of plots, counterplots, and intra-agency power struggles worthy of a Le Carre novel.

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From Library Journal

If the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis was the most dire event of the Cold War, then the Bay of Pigs invasion of April 1961 was the most absurd. Kornbluh (director, Cuban Documentation Ctr. Project of the National Security Archive; Politics of Illusion: The Bay of Pigs Invasion Reexamined, Lynne Rienner, 1997) includes the tedious but informative report of Inspector General Lyman Kirkpatrick, which largely blames the CIA for misleading President Kennedy. Richard Bissell, the CIA's deputy director for plans, responds with a similarly oppressive rebuttal that attributes the failure to Kennedy's need to ensure plausible deniability?to hide America's obvious role by committing limited, insufficient air support and troops. Additional supporting documents and an interview with the invasion planners show the Bay of Pigs fiasco to be what historian Theodore Draper calls "a perfect failure." For a narrative overview, see Ale Fursenko's One Hell of a Gamble (LJ 3/15/97). Primarily for specialists in the era.?Karl Helicher, Upper Merion Twp. Lib., King of Prussia, PA
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

For nearly a year after the CIA-sponsored invasion of Cuba's Bay of Pigs in April 1961, memos flew back and forth challenging the objectivity and appropriateness of criticism of the agency's performance in the official report of its own inspector general, Lyman Kirkpatrick. For nearly 40 years thereafter, the CIA fought to keep the report and responses by operatives involved in the fiasco secret. The Freedom of Information Act, a CIA "openness" campaign, and a 1995 executive order finally made the documents available. It is clear why the report generated controversy: at a time when the agency was trying to shift responsibility to others in government, especially President Kennedy and the Defense and State departments, Kirkpatrick outlined CIA errors, from bad planning, poor staffing, and faulty intelligence to "failure to advise the President that success had become dubious." Most general readers won't care to wallow through either report or responses, yet libraries with special collection and study interests may want these essential historical documents. Mary Carroll

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A typical 'government' job Feb. 13 2001
Format:Paperback
A fascinating post-mortem on the Bay of Pigs operation and all the more so because it was done internally by the CIA Inspector General. Suppressed for three decades because of its remarkably blunt honesty this book will have you shaking your head. A perfect example of why the 'best and the brightest' are not always so. I found it enlightening and humorous at the same time. Not one of the best run CIA operations by any means.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Bay Of Pigs Declassified 2 Feb. 9 2000
Format:Paperback
this is my second report on the book bay of pigs declassified as I don't think my first was quite fair I found fault in that he didn't say any thing about my unit of 45 people I think we were the only ones know one knew about. every one else had been given away. but that didn't help we were caught and killed any how all but myself that is. to get back to mister Peter Kornbluh's book it was a very fine piece of work and he must have done much work to get so much info and to get it right. thanks for the chance to tell what I think about this very good book.
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Format:Paperback
the book Bay of Pigs Declassifieied is very good it don't have quit all the facts in that it don't say one word about the small unit of guerrillas that I was in charge of we worked behind the lines to clear and hold a landing spot for troops that never came. the hole unite was captured and all but my self was killed including my interpter a young Cuban girl code name Louise she died so bravely she saved many lives by not telling where some of them were. I have tried to find some of her family and friends. but being short on money and not realy knowing where to look makes it all most imposable. she also saved my life and I would like to see her name in some of the books about the BAY OF PIGS INVASION
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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A typical 'government' job Feb. 13 2001
By Harry Pandolfino - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A fascinating post-mortem on the Bay of Pigs operation and all the more so because it was done internally by the CIA Inspector General. Suppressed for three decades because of its remarkably blunt honesty this book will have you shaking your head. A perfect example of why the 'best and the brightest' are not always so. I found it enlightening and humorous at the same time. Not one of the best run CIA operations by any means.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bay of Pigs Declassified - review Dec 9 2010
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
In Bay of Pigs Declassified: The Secret CIA Report of the Invasion of Cuba (National Security Archive Documents) is edited by Peter Kornbluh who has assembled from released documents a detailed picture of the thinking of the period following Fidel Castro's conquest of Cuba and his unexpected turn to a Marxist/Leninist government. America was still smarting from the McCarthy era and communists of any sort were feared and loathed. It was intolerable that a communist government could be installed a mere 90 miles from the United States of America but here it was. The leaders of the Central Intelligence Agency were convinced there was a way to remove Castro without the U.S. appearing to be involved. Here are official documents detailing what was planned and why and the thinking behind the cruel method of cutting the nation's losses when it all went so disastrously wrong. President Kennedy was in many ways brilliant but about being talked into approving the CIA invasions plan he said, "How can I have been so stupid....?" Those who love American History will want to have this book on their shelves.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Most Important Books A Citizen Can Have May 25 2012
By PHILIP A. STAHL - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
NO, this book is not perfecto, it has a few warts and some may argue it lacks "completeness" - a perception with which I strongly disagree. But overall it is a piece of recent history which the true U.S. citizen, interested in how "past is prologue" needs to have in his or her library.

Start with the fact of how much of the historical record is set straight, even for the intransigent historical revisionists. For example, "Operation Zapata" (aka 'The Cuba Project') was actually initiated and developed during the Eisenhower administration and pushed on Kennedy. (Telling him it was in the "national security interest" to do it) Most of this didn't come to light until the discovery of an internal CIA Report on the "Cuba Project", which had been kept hidden for over 35 years. I first saw it in a Baltimore Sun article(, p. 6A, Feb. 22, 1998.), headlined 'Internal Probe Blamed Bay of Pigs Fiasco on CIA'

The Sun article went on to state:

"The 150-page report, released after sitting in the CIA Director's safe for nearly three decades, blames the disastrous attempt to oust Fidel Castro not on President John F. Kennedy's failure to call airstrikes, but on the agency itself.

The CIA's ignorance, incompetence, and arrogance toward the 1,400 exiles it trained and equipped to mount the invasion was responsible for the fiasco, said the report, obtained by the Associated Press yesterday.

The document criticized almost every aspect of the CIA's handling of the invasion: misinforming Kennedy administration officials, planning poorly, using faulty intelligence and conducting an overt military operation beyond 'agency responsibility as well as agency capability'."

The actual materials which appeared in the book, 'The Bay of Pigs Declassified', edited by Peter Kornbluh of the National Security Archive, gave all the sordid details behind the scheme and how Kennedy got sucked into it. In particular, the Report noted (Re: Agency (CIA) dysfunction (p. 53)) that The Agency committed at least four extremely serious mistakes:

i)Failure to subject the project, especially in its latter, frenzied stages to a cold and objective appraisal by the best talent available before submitting the final plan to Kennedy

ii)Failure to advise the President, at an appropriate time, that the mission's success had become dubious- and to recommend the operation therefore be canceled.

iii)Failure to recognize the project had become overt and that the military effort had become too large to be handled by the Agency alone

iv)Failure to reduce successive project plans (dating back to 1959) to formal papers and to leave copies with the President and his advisors, to request specific written approval, confirmation thereof.

The section goes on to note:

"The timely and objective scrutiny of the operation in the months before the invasion - including study of all available intelligence- would have demonstrated to Agency officials that the clandestine paramilitary preparations had almost totally failed and there was no responsive underground Cuban force ready to ally with the invaders."

The commentary is even more critical of the CIA after noting (ibid.) that the United States Intelligence Board, the Office of National Estimates, and Office of Current Intelligence **all provided clear warning** that a careful reappraisal was needed. Kennedy's error was in assuming the CIA had done such reappraisal to its best professional ability, but they did not.

RE: Cancellation (p. 55), we read:

"Cancellation would have been embarrassing. The Brigade could not have been held any longer in ready status, probably not held any longer at all. Further, its members would have spread their disappointment far and wide. Because of multiple security leaks in the huge operation, the world already knew about the preparations, and the Government's and nation's embarrassment would have been public"

Re: The Choice (ibid.)

"The choice was between retreat without honor and a gamble between ignominious defeat and dubious victory. The Agency chose to gamble, at rapidly decreasing odds."

The consensus position of the Archivists was that JFK was misled by the Agency's arrogance, hubris and incompetence. Depending on the CIA for guidance as to intelligence about this operation - in preparation for more than two years, the Agency blew it and big time. JFK took the blame, yes, but the CIA ultimately was responsible for not advising cancellation when they had the opportunity to do so.

As one reads through the rest of the book, one sees the possible links to the Kennedy assassination, and the putative role of the CIA (JFK fired Top Spook Allan Dulles right after the fiasco and vowed to smash the Agency into a "thousand pieces") as well as disaffected Rightist Cuban hirelings, po'd that Kennedy didn't provide air cover. In fact, any added air cover would have made virtually no difference and Cuban anti-aircraft batteries would plausibly have simply fired on any attacking planes, adding to the death toll.

Hence, JFK made the right decision but an enclave of Miami's anti-Castro Cubans (mainly) still hold him responsible and surely did at the time, making it highly probably they may have provided one or more 'mechanics' for the Dealey Plaza takedown which officialdom (to save its political hide) pinned on the poor little, sheep-dipped (by the CIA) patsy Oswald. (See also my book: 'The JFK Assassination: The Final Analysis', Chapter Five: 'The CIA's Cuba Caper' - wherein I show how CIA psychological warfare specialist George Joannides and Maurice Bishop set Oswald up as the perfect fall guy))

As for me, I got my wake up call on how the anti-Castro Cubans could be when two of them assisted in blowing a Cubana Airlines plane out of the skies off the coast of Barbados on Oct. 6. 1976. I was at Paradise Beach with my five nieces when the explosion occurred and to this day we recall the body parts washing up. If those anti-Castroites could take 73 lives out just like that, they'd have no qualms helping to knock out Kennedy.

But don't take my word for it, get this book, as well as another, 'JFK and the Unspeakable' which puts the Kennedy years and these events in their proper context.

Don't be misled by the revisionists on the Right.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Explanations required Feb. 4 2012
By southasia - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
All of this can be explained, once the government releases Dr. Pfeiffer's last volume. Here's the issue: Nobody told Dulles that Kennedy was the President. That memo just didn't get released inside headquarters. He's the ONLY person who can authorize military interventions in foreign countries, not the CIA.

It's just like the Iraqi WMD issue. No one at headquarters circulated the memo that Cheney had become the President and Sec. of State. At least, not everyone got the memo. Some people did, which is why we got that 2002 NIE.

Just wait for volume 5 of the history of the bay of Pigs operation. That'll clear all of this up for the future. Pfeiffer lays blame on Kennedy and other elements of the government. That's similar to Cheney blaming the insurgency in Iraq on the Iraqi people there. Right again, Dick.

That's why sending interoffice memos can be so important. Clarity of communication.
10 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bay Of Pigs Declassified 2 Feb. 9 2000
By Joe H. Hill - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
this is my second report on the book bay of pigs declassified as I don't think my first was quite fair I found fault in that he didn't say any thing about my unit of 45 people I think we were the only ones know one knew about. every one else had been given away. but that didn't help we were caught and killed any how all but myself that is. to get back to mister Peter Kornbluh's book it was a very fine piece of work and he must have done much work to get so much info and to get it right. thanks for the chance to tell what I think about this very good book.
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