Monday, June 6, 2022

The Assassination and Mrs. Paine-JFK and the CIA

Filmmaker Max Good contends (23:10) that "Kennedy went along with the covert operation [Bay of Pigs] to overthrow Fidel Castro."

But no President just "goes along" with such an important operation. Kennedy could have canceled the mission at any time and he indeed made changes from Eisenhower's original plan which included moving the invasion landing site.

Good goes on to assert that "mistrust and resentment would mark Kennedy's relationship with the military and CIA for the rest of his life. After the Bay of Pigs fiasco, Kennedy remarked that he wanted to quote 'splinter the CIA into a thousand pieces'and he fired CIA director Allen Dulles soon after." But this is a one-sided representation of the facts by Good.

The infamous statement allegedly made by JFK regarding the destruction of the CIA never materialized until nearly three years after his death. The quote comes from an April 25, 1966 New York Times article:

And President Kennedy, as the enormity of the Bay of Pigs disaster came home to him, said to one of the highest officials of his Administration that he “wanted to splinter the C.I.A. in a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds.”

But the official who susposedly relayed JFK's words to the Times has never been identified. This leaves open the possability that the anonomous official was merely using his own words to convey Kennedy's frustration after the Bay of Pigs failure.

But the best evidence that JFK never intended to break up the CIA comes from his actions after the Bay of Pigs. Just months after the failed invasion, JFK approved Operation Mongoose, a plan to get rid of Castro once and for all. JFK also used the CIA and tribal allies in Laos to "make every possible effort to launch guerrilla operations in North Vietnam with its Asian recruits."

Additionally, the susposed "mistrust" that Good thinks marked the relationship of JFK and the CIA goes against the findings of a 1996 agency study. The paper called "Getting to Know the President, CIA Briefings of Presidential Candidates, 1952-1992" was conducted by the deputy director for intelligence, John L. Helgerson. The study found:

... the [CIA’s] relationship with Kennedy was not only a distinct improvement over the more formal relationship with Eisenhower, but would only rarely be matched in future administrations ... in November 1961, Allen Dulles had been replaced by John McCone, who served Kennedy as DCI [Director of Central Intelligence] for almost two years. In the early part of this period, McCone succeeded in rebuilding the Agency’s relationship with Kennedy [after the strain caused by the Bay of Pigs]. McCone saw Kennedy frequently, and the President—more than any other before or since—would telephone even lower level Agency officers for information or assistance.

Indeed, a little less than two months before his death, JFK made the following comments regarding the CIA at a news conference:

I can find nothing, and I have looked through the record very carefully over the last nine months, and I could go back further, to indicate that the CIA has done anything but support policy. . . So I think that while the CIA may have made mistakes, as we all do, on different occasions, and has had many successes which may go unheralded, in my opinion in this case [South Vietnam] it is unfair to charge them as they have been charged. I think they have done a good job.

So while JFK may have been upset with the agency immediately following the Bay of Pigs and may have expressed his frustration, the evidence that he seriously considered abolishing the CIA is almost non-existent. Instead, he used the agency in covert operations in furtherance of his foreign policy goals. For more information see the excellent piece by Fred Litwin that discusses the "1000 winds" quote and other issues.

See also Mortal Enemies? at the late John Mcadams' site.


  1. Good points, Tracy.

    The master of misinformation, disinformation and hyperbole, James "Jumbo Duh" DiEugenio, is sure to vehementaly disagree. Ditto comrades Oliver Stone and Jefferson Morley, et al., ad nauseam.


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