2. Editorial Note

On January 3, 1961, at 9 a.m., a meeting was held at the White House to consider a response to the note from the Cuban Foreign Ministry which was transmitted in telegram 2674 from Havana. (Document 1) According to notes on the meeting taken by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Lyman Lemnitzer, the participants included President Eisenhower, Secretary of State Christian Herter, Secretary of Defense Thomas Gates, Secretary of the Treasury Robert Anderson, Special Assistant for National Security Affairs Gordon Gray, Director of Central Intelligence Allen Dulles, CIA Deputy Director for Plans Richard Bissell, Bissellʼs Assistant C. Tracy Barnes, and several officials from the Department of State, including Under Secretary Livingston Merchant and Assistant Secretary for Inter-American Affairs Thomas Mann.

Herter summarized the Cuban note and read Charge Braddockʼs message recommending an immediate break in relations. (See footnote 2, Document 1) Mann noted that, in the event of a break in relations, the Swiss Embassy in Havana could be expected to look after U.S. interests in Cuba. The President asked how the United States would know what was happening in Cuba if relations were broken and was told that, outside of Cuban exile sources, the United States would have only limited sources of information in Cuba after relations were broken. After some discussion, it was concluded that a break in relations would not affect the treaty guaranteeing the United States the use of Guantanamo naval base. Gates and Merchant questioned the need to respond immediately to the Cuban note, but Eisenhower decided to make a clean break and directed Herter to take the steps necessary to effect the break as quickly as possible.

Lemnitzerʼs notes conclude with the action assigned to the Joint Chiefs: “Look into ways and means of training Cuban refugees & expand the program.” The program he referred to was the program developing under CIA direction to launch an invasion of Cuba with a force of Cuban exiles. (National Defense University, Lemnitzer Papers, Notes, Miscellaneous Meetings, 1961) Notes on the meeting were also taken by Barnes, who recorded that it was agreed that the number of Cuban exiles being trained for the invasion should be increased, possibly up to 1,500, and additional training sites would have to be developed. (Central Intelligence Agency, DCI Files: Job 85-00664R, Box 2, Vol. III, Part IV) For another record of the meeting, see Document 3.