If anyone was wondering where I’ve been, I’m deep into research and writing on the “deniable warfare” book I’ve mentioned earlier so I’m afraid you won’t see too many posts from me for a bit – or at least until we get closer to the Dallas conference.
It’s a fascinating subject and its taking me far deeper into not only the CIA but the NSC, the role of the Joint Chiefs and of the Office of Special Operations and the Military Assistance Command. And I’ve been doing a lot of reading int he unclassified sections of the CIA’s own intelligence journal (lots of pretty interesting stuff in there if you are an intel or even just a history geek). And while reading I came across a review of Don Bohning’s book by Brian Lattell, who now has his own book in print pointing the JFK assassination towards Cuba and Castro.
If you have read Nexus, you know I spend a great deal of time with Bohning’s work and with his “explosive” interviews with Easterline and Hawkins, the interviews in which they realize for the first time that Bissell not only broke his promises to him but appeared to be intentionally playing a double role, assuring him that they would get more air support and then telling JFK they could do with even less.
This stuff is so incredibly important from a historical perspective that I presented on it in Dallas last year with just a few of the following points:
•Col. Hawkins had specifically warned that the use of parachute troops and tanks would unquestionably brand the invasion as a US undertaking; Bissell remained firm in his decisions and there was no further discussion of the point.
• Esterline eventually learned that it was Bissell who had banned him from high level Washington meetings and came to the conclusion that Bissell was giving the new President assurances and commitments on deniability that were not being shared with his force commanders.
•Hawkins states that Bissell had made his own military decisions about dramatically increasing the side of the landing force, adding a parachute battalion and even a tank platoon – changes not recommended by either Hawkins or Esterline.
•Esterline also concluded that at some point, possibly even before the transition to the Bay of Pigs landing site, Bissell had given a commitment to President Kennedy that the operation would indeed be low key and would use absolutely minimal air power – an agreement not communicated to Esterline or Hawkins
•Days before the invasion Easterline and Hawkins drove to Bissell’s home and gave him a detailed account as to why the invasion plan was not adequate to ensure complete destruction of Castro’s air force - that if “any” of his fighters and bombers survived the first attack they would make beachhead operations suicidal. defeat the Brigade. They also protested the fact that Air Operations were not under their control.
•Both officers then stated they would resign if the invasion were not cancelled - Bissell responded by saying that was impossible but made a firm promise that he would gain Kennedy’s authorization for more aircraft and more strikes. Bissell “solemnly pledged to Hawkins and that he would ensure we would get the total number of planes, he would go to the President and explain why it simply had to be…
•Within two days, completely unknown to the two officers, Bissell actually committed to Kennedy that he would cut the attacking B-26 force in half!
•Bissell was aware that post-strike intelligence confirmed that only something like half of the Cuban fighters and bombers were taken out in the first B-26 strike – he made no response to that information
Now this is major stuff and if you have gotten into the subject of Cuba and the BOP and JFK you realize how this raises a huge amount of questions about Bissell rather than JFK.
So I was certainly expecting to see this come up in the review – but instead the review drifts into the idea of blaming JFK for the missile crisis…which if you have read any of the more recent scholarly work on that, well let’s just say that’s not a big part of it. But then again perhaps the Bohning revelations from Easterline and Hawkins are in the review and I missed it…..so, take a look for yourself and let me know, I’m reading a bunch these days and may have hit a case of eye strain and passed over it…the link below will take you to Lattell’s review.