American History18 Nov 2008 12:17 pm
The Bay of Pigs, a poorly thought-out, poorly planned and poorly executed invasion of Cuba organized by the CIA in 1960, is one of the less-inspiring episodes in American history. The poor thinking: it was assumed that an invasion of Cuba would spark a popular uprising against Fidel Castro. The poor planning: rather than depending on military specialists, Kennedy insisted on choosing the spot of the landing himself, a spot so disadvantageous to an invasion that Castro had a hard time believing his luck when he learned of it. The poor execution: having given the green light for an invasion, Kennedy did not provide air support, and the invasion failed. But bad as this was, it’s nothing compared to other ideas that the CIA cooked up for dealing with the Bearded One.
Following the Watergate scandal, the Senate and House of Representatives took a closer look into American intelligence operations than Congress ever had. The “Church Committee” published its findings in 14 volumes, but the most shocking revelations came in its “Interim Report”: “Alleged Assassination Plots Involving Foreign Leaders.” The report outlined alleged plots involving United States intelligence services to assassinate Patrice Lumumba of the Congo, Rafael Trujilo of the Dominican Republic, Ngo Dinh Diem of Vietnam, Rene Schneider of Chile (all of whom were killed) and Fidel Castro of Cuba. The plots against Castro included development of a potion that would cause his beard to fall off; poisoning his wet suit and cigars; and involving the U.S. Mafia (which lost many of its gambling interests to the 1959 Cuban Revolution) in a “hit” on a foreign leader. Seems there weren’t many Devoted Intellectuals in the CIA back then.
These revelations prompted the journalist I. F. Stone to propose “A New Solution for the CIA”:
Stalin did establish one useful precedent. He made it a practice to bump off whoever served as head of his secret police. He never let anybody stay in the job too long. As a successful dictator, Stalin seems to have felt that anybody who had collected so many secrets would be a No. 1 menace to security if he ever went sour. Stalin thought it safer not to wait.
I think we ought to take Stalin’s example one step further. I think we ought to get rid of the CIA altogether, lock, stock, and burglar’s kit.
What do you think?
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