278J. Memorandum from Allen W. Dulles to CIA Director McCone, February 151

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  • The Inspector General’s Survey of the Cuban Operation

1. Upon receipt of the Inspector General’s report of October 1961, on the Cuban Operation, which reached my desk prior to my resignation as Director of Central Intelligence, I immediately transmitted a copy to the Deputy Director (Plans) for his comment. This was in line with the practice I had consistently followed in dealing with the reports of the Inspector General: namely, the Office which is the subject of the inspection is given an opportunity to comment on the I.G. report before the Director determines the action to be taken thereon. The reply of the Deputy Director (Plans), dated 18 January 1962, of which I have received a copy, was submitted to you following my resignation.

2. Meanwhile, I have also received and considered the comments of the Deputy Director of Central Intelligence, General Cabell.

3. I remain at your disposal for any comments you may wish me to submit on any phases of this matter relating to C.I.A. responsibilities. Hence I will not submit detailed written comment on the Inspector General’s report.

4. At this time, however, I wish to make certain general comments:

a. As a member of the Taylor Committee appointed by the President, I participated fully in the work of his Committee and joined in his Memorandum and oral reports to the President on this subject. While I do not now have a copy of these documents, I made only one or two reservations to the general conclusions and recommendations of these reports. I consider them to be sound and believe they should be accepted as the best available Survey of this particular operation.

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b. The Inspector General’s report suffers from the fact that his investigation was limited to the activities of one segment of one agency, namely, the C.I.A. Opinions based on such a partial review fail to give the true story or to provide a sound basis for the sweeping conclusions reached by him.

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c. Judgments could not properly be rendered in this matter without a full analysis, as was made by the Taylor Committee, of actions of all of the participating elements in the operation and the influences brought to bear outside of the Agency which affected the operation. This applies particularly to the participation of the Department of State, the Department of Defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and to certain elements of the Executive Department of the Government.

d. At no time during the preparation of his report did the Inspector General request any information from me and he makes certain serious errors in areas where my direct responsibility was clearly involved.

5. Two major areas of criticism in the I.G. report cover (1) the operational arrangements for the organization, training, transportation and deployment of the Brigade and, (2) the relations of Agency personnel to the Cuban emigration and their political organization. As to these points, I submit the following:

a. First, while certain organizational matters, in the light of developments, may be open to some criticism, the Brigade with its entire complement of men and equipment reached the landing area on schedule and under circumstances which achieved complete surprise. The situation in the landing area was substantially as predicted. The enemy battle order intelligence was essentially correct. The failure to get the ammunition and supplies ashore was due to circumstances beyond the control of the Brigade commander or its personnel.

b. Second, with respect to the organization of a Cuban emigre political committee in support of the operations, I would point out that prior to engaging in the operation a broad coalition of Cuban leaders, and one acceptable to our State Department, was realized.

These two important achievements covered major areas of C.I.A. responsibility.

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6. As Director, I deemed it desirable and necessary in view of my other duties to delegate certain responsibilities within the Agency for the day-by-day management of the operation, and on military matters and judgments I relied heavily on military personnel assigned to C.I.A. and on Department of Defense personnel and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. However, I assumed throughout full responsibility for the Agency’s participation and actions and kept currently advised of all important developments. During the concluding days of the operation, I was particularly influenced by the judgments in Col. Hawkins dispatch, dated April 13, 1961, relating to the high state of readiness of the Brigade (Annex A to Chapter IV of DDP report).

7. Whether or not the operation would have succeeded if the Brigade had landed with its entire personnel and equipment is a matter which can be debated and on which even today military experts differ. Certainly, the responsibility for failure does not lie primarily in the main areas of criticism stressed in the Inspector General’s report.

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8. Of course, there are lessons to be learned as pointed out in the Taylor Reports. These Reports, I believe, should be taken as the main basis for any review of the Agency’s actions in support of the operation.

Allen W. Dulles
  1. IG’s survey of the Cuban operation. 3 pp. Top Secret. CIA, DCI Files, History Staff Files: Job 85–00664R.