Top-secret plan to invade Cuba declassified
BY WILLIAM E. BURROWSWEBURROWS@AOL.COM
09/27/2014 3:00 PM 09/27/2014 7:00 PM
The most popular analogy used to describe Fidel Castro's turning Cuba
into communism's only bastion in the Western Hemisphere in 1959 was
"cancer." And the fear, to carry the analogy further, was that it would
metastasize elsewhere in Latin America.
The CIA, therefore, decided that invasive surgery was needed and
launched the Bay of Pigs invasion in April 1961. Lacking air cover, all
1,400 anti-Castro paramilitaries were killed or captured as they waded
ashore. That was taken to mean that the Castro regime posed a potential
military as well as a political threat to the area. It was decided that
the best way to excise the malignancy was to cut it out.
A recently declassified top-secret memorandum from the Joint Chiefs of
Staff to Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara, dated March 13, 1962
and titled "Justification for U.S. Military Intervention in Cuba,"
suggested an invasion. The document made the reason for the invasion
explicit: "U.S. military intervention will result from a period of
heightened U.S.-Cuban tensions which place the United States in the
position of suffering justifiable grievances.
"World opinion, and the United Nations forum, should be favorably
affected by developing the international image of the Cuban government
as rash and irresponsible, and as an alarming and unpredictable threat
to the peace of the Western Hemisphere."
The memorandum goes on to list possible staged provocations (as Cold War
jargon had it) that would justify attacking and conquering Cuba: "A
series of well-coordinated incidents will be planned to take place in
and around Guantánamo to give genuine appearance of being done by
hostile Cuban forces."
The U.S. Navy opened a base at Guantánamo Bay in 1903 and maintains it
in spite of strong protests by the Castro regime that it violates Cuban
One scenario called for sending friendly Cubans in their nation's
military uniform "over the fence" to stage what appeared to be an attack
on the base, while another would have had them captured as saboteurs
inside the base and a third had them rioting near the main gate.
But that was tame compared to what followed: "Blow up ammunition inside
the base; start fires," the memo continued. "Burn aircraft on air base
(sabotage) … Lob mortar shells from outside of base into base. Some
damage to installations … Capture assault teams approaching from the sea
… Capture militia group which storms the base … Sabotage ship in harbor;
large fires … Sink ship near harbor entrance. Conduct funerals for mock
Blowing up a U.S. ship in a "Remember the Maine" incident was suggested,
as was developing a Communist Cuban terror group in the Miami area or
Washington, sinking a boatload of Cubans trying to get to Florida, using
an F-86 Sabrejet fighter disguised as a MIG to harass U.S. civilian
aircraft and attack ships, faking the shootdown of a chartered airliner
over the Caribbean, staging an incident "which will make it appear that
Communist Cuban MIGs have destroyed a USAF aircraft over international
waters in an unprovoked attack," and more.
The Cuba Project, as the plan was unofficially called, was eventually
shelved, most likely because the United States did not want to appear to
be the kind of aggressor it was accusing the USSR of being.
Eighteen months later, Soviet transport ships were spotted carrying
nuclear-capable ballistic missiles to Cuba that could reach Washington.
The Cuban missile crisis was on.
WILLIAM E. BURROWS, A VETERAN JOURNALIST, HAS TWO DEGREES IN
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS FROM COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY.
Source: Top-secret plan to invade Cuba declassified | The Miami Herald -