June 4, 1998
Contact Person: Peter Kornbluh


After-Action Report Recommended
Covert Operations Against Castro be Abandoned

Washington, D.C.: Thirty-seven years after the failed Bay of Pigs invasion, the CIA today released a secret after-action report entitled "Record of Paramilitary Action Against the Castro Government of Cuba." The May 5, 1961 report was written by Colonel Jack Hawkins, the operation's paramilitary chief. His 48-page report cites poor CIA organization, and "political considerations" imposed by the Kennedy administration, such as the decision to cancel D-day airstrikes which "doomed the operation," as key elements of its failure.

"Paramilitary operations cannot be effectively conducted on a ration-card basis," the report concludes. "The Government and the people of the United States are not yet psychologically conditioned to participate in the cold war with resort to the harsh, rigorous, and often dangerous and painful measures which must be taken in order to win."

Hawkins also recommended that further covert operations to depose Castro, unless accompanied by a military invasion, "should not be made." Castro, according to the report, could "not be overthrown by means short of overt application" of U.S. force.

This memorandum is one of 3,200 pages of records, including photographs, Brigade 2506 training files, and NSC briefing papers on Operation Zapata, that the CIA declassified today as part of its historical review program. The release also contains the 1961 CIA Inspector General's Report on the Bay of Pigs, obtained last February under the Freedom of Information Act by the National Security Archive.

The Archive is publishing the Inspector General's Report as a book, Bay of Pigs Declassified: The Secret CIA Report on the Invasion of Cuba (The New Press) this summer, edited by senior analyst Peter Kornbluh. The book includes an exclusive interview with Col. Hawkins and Jacob Esterline, the CIA official who directed the Bay of Pigs operation. According to Kornbluh, today's release "represents the slow but significant erosion of the wall of secrecy the CIA has built around the Cuba operation." He noted that another 27,000 pages of CIA archives on the 1961 debacle have been delayed from release by objections from the CIA's covert operations division. "These documents remain relevant to the Cuba debate," he stated, "and the national discussion over the future of covert warfare in the post Cold-war era."

Click here to download the report in PDF format.

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