The failure at the Bay of Pigs was a seminal event the history of the 1960’s.
It generated a negative perception of the new President which would echo throughout the covert operations arm of the Central Intelligence Agency as well as the American military services. But it would go much further than that – a sampling of comments on the 50th anniversary of the event indicates that it created a perception which continues to influence American politics, especially in the critical swing state of Florida.
And now, due to JFK document releases and new oral history work, in particular work with the CIA military officers in charge of the operation (done by Don Bohning), it’s pretty clear that the popular history of the decisions behind the failure are widely off the mark, and much more in line with the initial, secret CIA Inspector General’s internal review of the project. In fact the initial IG report was so damming that in the interest of internal Agency politics it was not only suppressed but those in charge of the project were allowed to write a rebuttal – producing another instance in which the Agency would miss the opportunity to profit from its mistakes, and laying the groundwork for it to march into an even larger military mission in Laos. And that mission would turn into an even grander disaster for those recruited to support it.
If you want to dig further into a new view of the Bay of Pigs, a good place to start would be a recent paper I drafted on the subject – you can find it at: