371. Editorial Note

On August 10, 1962, a meeting of the Special Group (Augmented) was held in Secretary Ruskʼs conference room in the Department of State. The meeting was chaired by Secretary Rusk and attended by Secretary of Defense McNamara, as well as the regular members of the Special Group (Augmented). The agenda for the meeting was circulated by General Taylor on August 1; see Document 364. Only fragmentary records of the discussion at this key meeting have been found. According to a chronology of the positions McCone took concerning Cuba, prepared for him on October 21, McCone maintained at the meeting that the Soviet Union had in Cuba an asset of such importance that “the Soviets will not let Cuba fail.” To prevent such a failure McCone expected that the Soviet Union would supplement economic, technical, and conventional military aid with medium-range ballistic missiles, which they would justify by reference to U.S. missile bases in Italy and Turkey. (Central Intelligence Agency, DCI Files: Job 91-00741R, Box 1, Mongoose Papers) McCone confirmed that aspect of the discussion in a memorandum for the record he prepared on October 31, 1963. (Ibid.)

Memoranda prepared by McCone and William Harvey also indicate that the issue of the assassination of Cuban political leaders came up during the discussion. According to an August 14 memorandum from Harvey to Richard Helms, the issue was raised during the meeting by McNamara. Harvey recorded: “It was the obvious consensus at that meeting, in answer to a comment by Mr. Ed Murrow, that this is not a subject which has been made a matter of official record.” Harvey added that he took careful notes on the comments made at the meeting on this issue, “and the Special Group (Augmented) is not expecting any written comments or study on this point.” (Ibid.) See the Supplement. On April 14, [Page 924]1967, McCone sent a memorandum from his retirement to Helms, who had become Director of Central Intelligence, in which he wrote of the discussion at the August 10 meeting: “I recall a suggestion being made to liquidate top people in the Castro regime, including Castro. I took immediate exception to this suggestion, stating that the subject was completely out of bounds as far as the USG and CIA were concerned and the idea should not be discussed nor should it appear in any papers, as the USG could not consider such actions on moral or ethical grounds.” McCone added that immediately after the meeting, he called on McNamara and reemphasized his position on the issue. He noted that McNamara “heartily agreed.” (Central Intelligence Agency,DCI Files: Job 91-00741R, Box 1, Mongoose Papers)

Harveyʼs August 14 memorandum to Helms bears out McConeʼs recollection that it was the sense of the meeting that no discussion of the assassination of Cuban leaders should be put in writing. Harvey wrote that in light of the discussion at the August 10 meeting, he called General Lansdaleʼs office and pointed out the “inadmissibility and stupidity” of including the words “including liquidation of leaders” in an August 13 memorandum discussing Alternate Course B that Lansdale circulated to Harvey and other action officers for Operation Mongoose. Harvey noted that he had strongly urged that the phrase be deleted from all existing copies of the memorandum. Lansdaleʼs August 13 memorandum, with the requested excision, is printed as Document 372.