207. Telegram From the Central Intelligence Agency to Operation PBSUCCESS Headquarters in Florida1

05670. Refs A. [telegram indicator not declassified] 650;2 B. LINC 4061.3

Regret that we cannot at this time authorize the forms of air to ground action requested by ref A and recommended by ref B. This matter has been reconsidered in detail as of this morning with Ascham and [Page 351]Ordway full participation, and following is gist of reasoning as well as statement of certain conditions under which this decision might be relaxed or modified.
The use of air to ground action against WSBURNT military personnel and/or military vehicles would in our judgment have effect of engaging their honor and prestige and causing them to consolidate in opposition to Calligeris forces. We recognize possibility that through use of bombing against one or more garrisons, assaults with respect to these could be successful but call your attention to fact that these victories could be pyrrhic and illusory if they were to result in “loss of war” due to utter alienation and antagonizing of WSBURNT military. This is entirely apart from the extremely damaging effect which such action would have upon world including US domestic public opinion and the confirmation which it would give to main Toriello lines, viz “bombing” and “invasion”.
Hence unless and until it becomes considerably more apparent than it now is as to what the position of WSBURNT army will be and whether or not there is any likelihood of its shifting over to Calligeris’ side, these measures of attack must be avoided.
We are particularly anxious to make it clear to LINC that this is not an arbitrary or final judgment on the part of Hqs nor is it any evidence of cautious or negative attitude here. We are and will continue to be open minded with regard to this matter and will be receptive to renewals of recommendations from the field and LINC after enough time has passed to enable all of us to judge better the true situation with respect to the armed forces. It seems to us that it should be possible to determine with fair or approximate accuracy what move they will make, if any, within period of next 24 to 36 hours.
We repeat that neither you nor field should gain impression that Hqs is otherwise than in full and complete support of this operation and entirely prepared to take and/or authorize any actions necessary to the success of the venture and which appear to be reasonably calculated to achieve that end.
Recommend that in your instruction to the field you reflect the sense and flavor of the foregoing.4
  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency, Job 79–01025A, Box 93, Folder 21. Secret; Operational Immediate; RYBAT; PBSUCCESS. Drafted by Wisner.
  2. See footnote 2, Document 206.
  3. Not printed. (Central Intelligence Agency, Job 79–01025A, Box 6, Folder 2)
  4. A Department of State statement on June 19 indicated, among other things, that Ambassador Peurifoy had reported serious uprisings in Guatemalan cities and three overflights (one each on June 17, 18, and 19) but no bombings or strafings in the Guatemala City area. The Guatemalan Foreign Minister told Peurifoy, however, that two planes had bombed a house in Guatemala City and also strafed the National Palace. (Department of State Bulletin, June 28, 1954, pp. 981-982)