84. Editorial Note

At 9:15 a.m. on April 6, 1961, President Kennedy convened another meeting at the White House to discuss the projected Zapata operation against Cuba. According to the Presidentʼs appointment book the meeting lasted an hour and a half, and was attended by Rusk, McNamara, Dulles, Berle, Mann, and Coerr. (Kennedy Library, Presidentʼs Appointment Book) Although Bissell is not listed in the appointment book, Grayʼs notes indicate that he attended and made the principal presentation for the CIA. Gray was also there, and it is probable that Lemnitzer, Burke, and Cabell attended as well. According to summary notes on the meeting prepared by General Gray on May 9:

“At this meeting Mr. Bissell presented the plan to arrest Mas Farer, to seize a B-25 aircraft known to be operating against Cuba and also to seize one or more small boats being used by counter-revolutionaries. All of this intended to show US disassociation with former Batista followers. Mr. Bissell then gave an outline of the planned defection of a pilot on D-3, coupled with air strikes and a D-2 guerrilla landing. This would then be followed by a guerrilla uprising on D+5 in Pinar Del Rio. The President indicated that the council should not be informed ahead of time. Mr. Rusk, when queried by the President, stated that he felt that this plan was as good as could be devised, but that we should now take a look at other questions that might arise. One would be what would the US do in the event there was a serious call for help? Second, what might the Soviets do? The President indicated that Mr. Macmillan had been informed of the prospect. The President questioned whether or not a preliminary strike wasnʼt an alarm bell. The President also asked as to the last date on [Page 192] which he could delay or cancel the operation, and he was told 16 April. He wanted to know what he could do if the operation was called off and was told by Mr. Bissell that the plan was to divert the force to Vieques. At the end of the meeting the President gave the following guidance: continue planning, spread the convoy, provide additional air protection for the Miami area, increase press conferences for Cardona, limit air strikes to essential targets, and diversionary landing was OK. In summary, the President indicated a desire to use the force but he wanted to do everything possible to make it appear to be a Cuban operation partly from within Cuba but supported from without Cuba, the objective being to make it more plausible for US denial of association with the operation although recognizing that we would be accused.” (Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Cuba, Subjects, Taylor Report)