727. Memorandum from Read to McGeorge Bundy, December 121

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  • Transmittal of Documents for Discussion NSC Standing Group, December 13, 1963, 11:00 a.m.

Attached is a draft paper for discussion at the NSC Standing Group meeting to be held Friday, December 13, 1963, at 11:00 a.m.

Benjamin H. Read
Executive Secretary
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I. Unilateral

A. Air attacks against carefully selected, important economic installations by autonomous Cuban exile group(s) operating from bases outside the United States.

(Capability to be provided to autonomous group(s) by CIA on “plausible denial” basis. Authorization for such operations has been requested in past but not granted.)

1. Advantages

—Possible substantial direct economic effects

—Indirect economic effects (maintenance of military alert with consequent partial tying up of labor force)

—Positive effects on morale of anti-Castro elements and waverers within Cuba

—Clear demonstration to Castro of determination of opposition

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2. Disadvantages

—Technical difficulties and cost of providing capability

—Uncertainty of successful execution

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—Risk of attributability

—Direct conflict with our well-known, public opposition to air attacks

—Marked raising of noise level

—Possible Soviet reaction, including negative effect on troop withdrawals

—Possible reaction against air surveillance

B. Selective covert relaxation of U.S. controls against Cuban exile groups in Florida wishing to undertake sabotage and infiltration activities.

(Involves discreet neutralization of obstacles to the operations of such groups established by United States enforcement agencies).

1. Advantages

—Possible additional (but minor) direct economic damage

—Possible indirect economic effects

—Provision of some screen for CIA’s own operations

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—Possible dilution of Cuban defenses of benefit to CIA operations

—Positive effects on Cuban exile morale

—Some positive effects on morale of anti-Castro elements and waverers within Cuba

—Method of signalling to Castro change to “harder” U.S. policy

2. Disadvantages

—U.S. acquiescence quite evident

—Direct conflict with our statements and actions concerning U.S.-based exile raids

—Uncertainty of control over choice of targets (e.g., Soviet vessels)

—Raising of noise level

—Possible negative effects on Soviet withdrawal of military personnel

C. Military Feints

(Movement of U.S. air and surface units over and in international waters near Cuba in manner designed to keep Cuban military force in state of alert and uncertainty. To be effective, movements would have to be extended over time)

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1. Advantages

—Indirect economic effects of maintenance of military alert

—Psychological harassment of Castro and other leaders

—Opportunities for escalation, if desired

2. Disadvantages

—Risk of reaction by Castro, with consequent danger of escalation

—Investment of U.S. forces over time in essentially psychological exercise

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—Possible negative effects on morale of anti-Castro elements and waverers within Cuba when nothing substantial happens

—Possible negative effects on Soviet withdrawal of military personnel

D. Occasional, selected low-level “reconnaissance” overflights by U.S. aircraft

(Flight paths would be designed to reduce to a minimum the possibility of effective Cuban counter-action against aircraft)

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1. Advantages

—Most emphatic method of signalling a change to “harder” policy

—Possible tie-in to need for intelligence on Cuban capabilities for delivering arms to Latin America

—Possible beneficial intelligence side effects

2. Disadvantages

—Risk of escalation (Cubans on formal record concerning reaction to low-level flights)

—Possible reaction against high-level flights

—Possible negative effects on Soviet withdrawal of military personnel

—Possible raising of public and Congressional apprehension that offensive weapons systems have been reintroduced

E. Free-world shipping

(Examples: extension of NSAM 220 to cover all ships owned or controlled by a firm with ships in the Cuban trade, denial of commercial, as well as U.S.-financed cargoes in U.S. ports to ships in Cuban trade)

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1. Advantages

—Some limited reduction of number of free-world vessels in Cuban trade

—Heightened appearance of forward movement because of Congressional and press sensitivity to shipping question

2. Disadvantages

—Relatively small practical returns

—Political costs with maritime nations

—Possible legal difficulties involved in some unilateral measures

II. Bilateral

A. General

Essentially, the effort in the bilateral field would represent a continuation, sharpening and intensification of programs already in effect.

Measures of a bilateral nature, outside and within the Hemisphere, would be strengthened and facilitated by OAS decisions and recom[Typeset Page 1860]mendations emerging from the Venezuelan case. Wherever possible, the OAS resolutions would request the cooperation of other countries.

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The basic limiting factor in the intensification of our political and economic pressure on other countries bilaterally is, of course, the balance that must be struck between our interests with respect to Cuba and other broad interests at play in our bilateral relations. For example, Spain’s increasing commercial and transportation relations with Cuba are a matter of concern in terms of our Cuban policy, yet the political and economic pressure we can exert on Spain is circumscribed by the need to safeguard our other political and military interests in Spain.

B. Economic Denial

This program involves overt and covert, legal and extra-legal, diplomatic and private, efforts to deny Cuba access to free-world markets and sources of supply for commodities critical or important to the Cuban economy. A major inhibiting element in this effort is the short world supply of sugar which increases Cuban leverage on free-world sugar consumers. In addition, there is a general (but varying) reluctance on the part of free-world countries to interfere with trade in items which are not strategic [Facsimile Page 9] in the internationally accepted sense (COCOM, Battle Act). This fact puts a premium on direct overt and covert pressures on the companies involved, as distinguished from governments.

Progress has been made in our economic denial program, and effective operations have been carried out cooperatively by State, Treasury, Commerce and CIA. There is, however, considerable additional effort required, especially because Castro is now engaged in a major attempt to broaden trade with the free-world. No new authority is required at this time, but rather an intensification of efforts through the Inter-Departmental Coordinating Committee on Cuba.

A more restrictive legal interpretation by the Executive Branch of the various legislative provisions on trade with Cuba could have considerable impact, if we were prepared to accept the costs to our other interests in the offending countries and if we were prepared tacitly to indicate that existing legal interpretations had been in error.

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C. Free-World Shipping in Cuban Trade

An additional immediately available step would be the conclusion of an agreement involving the amendment of NSAM 220 with the British shipowner, Mavroleon, to guarantee the withdrawal by early 1965 of all his ships in return for the progressive removal from the blacklist of his vessels as they get out of the trade. This agreement should have beneficial effects on other important ship owners.

A selective refusal to exercise the Presidential waiver of the Cuban shipping provisions of the new Foreign Aid Authorization act could increase our diplomatic pressures on the maritime nations, if we were ready to incur the costs to our broad interests in the offending countries.

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D. Air Service to and from Cuba

Our efforts to reduce, restrict and harass air services (free-world and Communist) to and from Cuba should be strengthened by the provisions of the new Foreign Aid Authorization act, if, again, we are prepared to accept the costs to other interests in the offending countries. On the other hand, a [Facsimile Page 11] US–USSR civil air agreement could have erosive effects on the always precarious barriers we have established against air services to Cuba.

E. Anti-Subversive Program

Essentially, the problem here is to strengthen both the will and the capability in Latin America to take the politically and technically difficult measures which have been recommended. The basic lines of the anti-subversive program have been laid out, and they are being followed with varying degrees of success in the different countries. Constant follow-up, technical advice and assistance, and training are essential to improvement in the execution of the program.

  1. Transmits paper entitled “Possible Further Unilateral and Bilateral Actions to Increase Pressure on Cuba (Short of the Use of Force)” for discussion at the NSC Standing Group meeting December 13. Top Secret. 11 pp. DOS, S/S Files: Lot 65 D 438, U–2 Flights—Contingency Plans.