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tv   Lectures in History National Intelligence Under President Kennedy  CSPAN  September 2, 2021 12:02pm-1:10pm EDT

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eastern. enjoy american history tv this week and every weekend on c-span3. >> american history tv on c-span3, exploring the people and events that tell the american story every weekend. coming up this labor day weekend, saturday, at 6:00 p.m. eastern on the civil war, historians kevin levin and hillary green discuss how we remember the civil war and whether to remove or contextualize federal monuments, and saturday on american artificates, we'll preview photographs of native americans from the smithsonian national museum of the american indians collection which includes more than a half million images. add 8:00 p.m. on the presidency, a look at presidential retreats including abraham lincoln's summer cottage, and stories of the kennedys, clintons, and in i obamas in martha's vineyard, an, we're continuing our monday night, august marked thel survey of american intelligence 75th anniversary of the bombingl administration. and now we've come of hiroshima and nagasaki, and e presidency of john f kennedy.
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american history tv and washington journal look back at the events that led to the bombing and their legacy with jr author ian toll and president 3. kennedy was truman's grandson, clifton forr naval officer. so he truman daniel, exploring the kg about intelligence. he american story. also big watch american history tv this e james bond novels labor day weekend on c-span3. wn fleming. i've pictured biden's record is a shamefus brother robert kenne role call of the most because the brothers toget catastrophic betrayals and r hat influence on us intelligence. blunders in our lifetime..ther't he has spent his entire career s intelligence center kennedy,.. even though he served less than >> our current president has te failed in his most basic duty te was the nation. assassinated he's failed to protect us. by an he's failed to protect america. american leftist a disturbed former marine and my fellow americans, that iy oswald at the end. i'll have unforgivable. some re >> the first presidential debatt the assassination. before we between president donald trump n intelligence and former vice president joe s administration. i want to mention biden is tuesday, september a f other dev 29th, at 9:00 p.m. eastern.opm'e not watch live coverage on c-span. l they deser watch live streaming and on toe demand at c-span.org or listen s important milestones in us intelligence history and they live on the free c-span radio leave a legacy to this day. one of app. up next on lectures in is's
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daily brief. history, catholic university professor and former cia which r historian nicholas dujmovic, ks teaches a class about national'e checklist when intelligence during president o cia in 1990 i kennedy's administration.as i ld he talks about the bay of pigs,t one of the nicknames the cuban missile crisis, and t insiders used was the pickle factory. other covert operations during b the cold war. they used his class is just over an hour.e factory and i couldn't figure out >> in this introductory course,. i became a ci we're continuing our historicald heard about the p survey of american intelligence the president's intelligence checklist. it under each presidential was re. of course administration. t and now we have come to the p'y brief and continues presidency of john f. kennedy. . every president has january 1961 to november 1963, d most have benefited from kennedy was a former naval t. officer, so he thought he knee something about intelligence. wt he was also a big fan of the well, i mean james bond novels written by ian started the fleming. i have pictured him with his tf brother, robert kennedy, becausa presenting to him a daily intelligent summary, but the pickle and later the pdb was the first specifically presidential product that was tailored to the
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president's agenda his style and his interests with extremely limited distribution. so this is a major intelligence legacy from the kennedy administration. another very important development was the creation of the defense intelligence agency in october of 1961 further expanding this constellation of agencies. we know another very important development was the creation of the defense intelligence agency in october of 1961, further expanding this constellation of agencies we know as the intelligence community. as we have learned in a previous class, that community around the time of the end of world war ii comprised just the state department, fbi, and the military branch intelligence organizations. and then with cia's creation in 1947, cia becomes central to that community. president truman added the national security agency in 1952. president eisenhower added the national reconnaissance office to coordinate cia and air force activities regarding imagery from spy planes and satellites coming online, and then under
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kennedy, the defense department gets its own intelligence agency. dia today is a major national agency of the u.s. intelligence community. as we have discussed doing important work in human intelligence and also specialized technical intelligence. so i got those important developments out of the way, and where want to focus on the two biggest intelligence subjects of the kennedy administration, which often are the two major historical episodes that people remember from this period. the bay of pigs fiasco, and the cuban missile crisis. so we have a fiasco and we have a crisis. and they're both big problems. what they have in common is, obviously, cuba. otherwise, they are vastly different kinds of problems. the bay of pigs fiasco was a cia covert paramilitary operation specifically a regime change operation that went very badly. the cuban missile crisis by contrast was a confrontation of superpowers, the united states and the ussr, over nuclear weapons. what the two big problems have in common, other than cuba, is both largely were the result of shortcomings in american intelligence. in both situations, bad intelligence analysis was at work.
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the bay of pigs operation was an example of faulty covert action planning, to be sure, but that includes some seriously flawed analysis, as we'll see. likewise, the cuban missile crisis begins with bad analysis, but in the context of intelligence collection, both human and technical. in both situations, the intelligence shortcomings were made worse by executive decisions. by policymakers. and the two crises also were alike in that the ic learned a lot from the mistakes of them both. so let's turn to the bay of pigs. revolutionary leader fidel castro turned his insurgency against the cuban dictator bautista into a government when he ousted the dictator in early 1959, this is during the eisenhower administration. we're dropping back just a bit for context. castro quickly declared himself a communist, aligned with the soviet union, and this presented to the eisenhower administration a more dire situation than what they faced in guatemala a few years before. eisenhower wanted something done about castro. cia proposed covert action to destabilize the cuban economy with economic sabotage. eisenhower said he wanted
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something more drastic. now, historians disagree on whether eisenhower meant that cia should assassinate castro. to cia officials at the time, it seemed clear to them that eisenhower, who clearly would not use words out loud like assassinate and murder, is still clear to the cia officials that eisenhower really wanted castro removed from the scene by whatever means necessary. just as they believed that eisenhower had expressed the desire that an african leader be removed, killed if necessary, to prevent the congo from going communist. there's no smoking gun on either, on whether eisenhower really wanted them assassinated. now, eisenhower was concerned about castro for the same reasons he had authorized cia to topple the elected government of guatemala in 1954. he believed that once communism was established in the western hemisphere it would spread by soviet supported subversion and revolution, and this is what as history teaches us, this is what communist governments do. i did my dissertation on the revolutionary government of granada, 1979 to 1983, and there you have the communist grenadians being helped by the communist cubans in order to
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spread communist revolution to other island nations in the caribbean. so that example from the '80s shows that in the 1950s, eisenhower was on to something. he was right. this was a threat. so eisenhower authorized cia to plan covert action to remove castro from power. now, at this point, i want to remind you of our discussions in this class about covert action as an intelligence function. the purpose of u.s. covert action is to influence political, economic, military conditions abroad in a way, in such a way at the hand of the united states is not apparent. the involvement of the u.s. government is not evident to people or it can be denied, plausibly denied. the original cia plan for cuba under eisenhower was to infiltrate some 30 cuban agents, cia-trained agents, to create resistance groups within cuba. i think someone noticed that cuba is a real big place. it doesn't really stretch from washington past chicago. it's obviously located south of florida, but you can see how big it is here. and so the plan quickly grew from 30 to about 500 cia trained cuban exiles would infiltrate the country and link up with the
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anti-castro forces believed to be operating in cuba. cia efforts including a clandestine rodio station, would help build cuban support for opposing castro, and this is where it helps to have a knowledge of history. even when you're planning a covert action. essentially, cia was using the example of its predecessor, the office of strategic services, oss, sending agents into nazi occupied france, where the population didn't like the nazis. and was willing to take risks to support these commandos, these covert action operatives. cia remembered that and remembered the positive aspects of the 1954 guatemala operation, and in your reading, professor christopher andrew points out that eisenhower and the cia ignored other relevant historical precedents, including the negative lessons of trainee
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resistance groups within cuba. i think someone noticed that cuba is a real big place. it doesn't really stretch from washington past chicago. it's obviously located south of florida, but you can see how big it is here. and so the plan quickly grew from 30 to about 500 cia trained at cuban exiles would infiltrate the country and link up with the anti-castro forces that were believed to be operating in cuba cia propaganda efforts, including a clandestine radio station. this is all on the guatemala model would help build cia propaganda efforts including a clandestine station would help build internal cuban support for opposing castro. and this is where it helps to have a knowledge of history,
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even when you're planning a covert action. essentially, cia was using the example of its predecessor, the office of strategic service, oss, sending agents into nazi-occupied france, where the population didn't like the nazis and was willing to take risks to support these commandos, these covert operatives. cia remembered that and remembered the positive aspects of the 1954 guatemala operation. and in your reading, professor christopher andrew points out that eisenhower and the cia ignored other relevant historical precedence, including the negative lessons of guatemala. guatemala barely succeeded even against a weak and hapless government that basically lost its nerve and allowed a success for covert action there. they ignored the lessons of the hike operation in something like 4 million workers go on strike in 1945, 1946, so militancy of the labor movement looks like it's going to continue as people demand higher wages. my favorite example of this is actually the tugboat workers in new york city go on strike in
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1946 which shuts the city down, because no fuel can get into new york, so the subway has to get stopped and an image of new york totally dependent on tugboat workers that we don't normally have. by the early 1950s and by 1960, daniel bell will comment the working class are pretty happy. they're not going on strike anymore. they have calmed down. people who are angry and want to change things are the intellectuals, not the irk withing class anymore. part of the reason for that is changes to the labor laws and because of a set of agreements made in the late 1940s and early 1950s, the working class are offered better terms for work. the key example for this is called the treaty of detroit in 1950. which is an agreement between the united automobile workers and general motors that would apply across the automobile sector, which is kind of a leading sector of the economy. the deal is basically in exchange for guarantees to go on strike less frequently, to recognize the need for production, the union will get cost of living adjustments so
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the wages will increase with inflation. so cia started infiltrating, and by the way, on the bottom right there, those are cia-trained tibetan commandoes getting ready for an air lift into chinese-occupied tibet. so cia started infiltrating a few cuban agents into cuba and soon found out there really wasn't an underground resistance and most of their penetration agents were caught.
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amphibious landing of some 700. notice the mission creep. from what we have to 700 that will land by aircraft and para troop and establish a anti-cast re cubans and wait for u.s. support. sounds pretty neat. now as the planning went on toward the end of the eisenhower administration, the force kept getting bigger in the planning. to ensure that when the landing happened, they could actually seize and hold a beach head. now when kennedy came into office in january, 1961, he planned cuban invasion force had doubled to about 1500. so again, 30, 500, 700, 1500. they would be supported by a rebel air force, again, trained cuban exiles, pilots of b-26 bombers which were in the cuban inventory, which cia had their own b-26s painted to look like
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cuban air force bombers. so the story would be that these were cuban air force officers who defected and then joined the rebellion. the cuban invasion forces were trained at cia bases in nicaragua and guatemala. it was planned, in the cia documents, this was the preferred plan to land at the beach after trinidad. this was considered an anti-castro town. again, looking for that local support. it had a good port. it had a defensible beach with good maritime approaches and was close to the mountains. a key mistake in planning for this covert action was that for operational security, cia's own intelligence analysts were kept in the dark. the experts on the state of cuba, they have no input.
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the director of operations did its own analysis. and based its optimistic assessments of internal cuban resistness on the initial administration in 1959. the di analysts could have told the d.o. that things had changed. that castro had a lot more support. that the internal security was ruthlessly efficient and that there was essentially no opposition to him. even the deputy director for intelligence ahead of the analytic branch, a man named robert amory was not informed. he knew what was going on but he was not consulted even though he personally had participated in the pacific campaign of world war ii in more than two dozen amphibious landings of this scale. a lot more than the marines that they had brought in to plan the operation, colonel jack hawkins. amory and his analysts were simply cut out for security reasons. so some security. this is a january 10th, 1961 front page above the fold, "new
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york times" article, u.s. helps train an anti-castro force at secret guatemala base. so not a secret any more. this covert action was no longer covert with this kind of publicity. cuban exiles now, the world knows, are being trained, probably by the u.s. in guatemala for an attack on cuba. yes. >> [ inaudible question ]. >> various sources. when you engage in a large operation, unless you have operational security that is very tight, people talk. this happened with the albanian operations in late '40s and early '50s and the chinese operations that we mounted in the early to mid 1950s, when you get people together they will talk. and castro is knowing something is up even before this. he's trying to penetrate these operations with his own people. you hire a bunch of cuban exiles, how many of them are 100% of them anti-castro or has he sent one or two penetration in. it is good counterintelligence.
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and it gets worse. i'll get to that. so another factor in the planning that turned out to be a >> various sources. when you engage in a large operation, unless you have operational security that is very tight, people talk. this happened with the albanian operations in late '40s and early '50s and the chinese operations that we mounted in the early to mid 1950s, when you get people together they will talk. and castro is knowing something is up even before this. he's trying to penetrate these operations with his own people. you hire a bunch of cuban exiles, how many of them are 100% of them anti-castro or has he sent one or two penetration in. it is good counterintelligence.
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and it gets worse. i'll get to that. so another factor in the planning that turned out to be a mistake was a requirement that castro's air force be destroyed first. so, that the cuban exile pilots in their cia-provided b-26 pretending to be cuban air force would have command of the air. that was prerequisite for the success of the operation. cia recruited from help. they cre routed pilots from the alabama national guard to assist. there was to be one air attack two days before d-day, before the amphibious landing, alleged by these cuban air force pilots who were disgruntled and decided to shoot up their own planes and that is why these cia's b-26s were painted to look like cuban air force planes. the day before the invasion, the b-26 exile force would come back and destroy any planes that remain. so two air strikes, command of
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the air was essential and this is one of several things that had to go well for the success of this operation. yet, another problem came from president kennedy's desire to maintain deniability that the u.s. had nothing to do with this. we didn't like castro but these are independent patriotic cubans acting on their own. a month before the invasion, he ordered another landing site be found. away from the town of trinidad and the populated center. people will find out early, this is long before the internet but they might take pictures. it will be too noisy. cia had four days to shift planning to another location. and they found it at the fairly remote bay of pigs. which is on this map here, obviously. all right. away from populated centers but closer to havana, closer to the cuban military and air force. also was surrounded by swamps.
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let me go to that slide. there we go. the zep ata peninsula gave this relocated a name which became operation zapata by the swamps, far away from the mountains where you hope the exile force will be able to melt away into becoming that beacon of freedom for large numbers of disaffected anti-castro cubans. that is the theory. unknown to the planners was the fact that the bay of pigs was castro's favorite place to go fishing, snorkeling, vacationing, he knew it well. which helped when he arrived on scene to lead the defenders. also unknown was that there were coral reefs and rocks that complicated navigation. the operations planners had looked at the imagery and concluded that that darker water were seaweed. well, no, they were coral reefs. that is why castro liked to go snorkeling there. it is a good place to go.
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let me read to you a couple of newspaper reports from the day. this is dateline new york, april 10th, so this is a week before the invasion. and it is alistair cook writing for the guardian of the united kingdom. mystery of coming invasion, another harangue last night has failed to clear ip the mystery of the incoming invasion. who is training tnd and who is the dominant power in exile and what the united states administration is going to do about it. also in the guardian that day was an editorial, since president kennedy came to power he's done much to restore american prestige in the
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uncommitted world. but if recent reports of a projected invasion of cubia launched from american soil and carried out with the american intelligence service come true, then much of president kennedy's labor will have been in vain. no one will believe that a group of cuban exiles, however burning their grievances could assemble of a force of sufficient size and equipment unless they have the backing of the american government. dr. cardona, the leader of the anti-castro cubans has denied that the central intelligence agency is implicated in his plans. this may be true but reports from american sources suggest that it is not. richard bissell, the head planner for the operation, said in 1967, a few years later, we didn't realize the extent to which it was believed by everyone else that this was a
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u.s. government operation. apparently cia wasn't reading the newspapers. and being critical of my former agency, because it deserves to be criticized on this. so on april 15th, 1961, two days before the invasion, the first wave of air attacks by six b-26s, fewer than planned for, damaged many cuban planes on ground but failed to destroy them all. the attacks alerted the cubans that it is coming. got the attention of the united nations where the u.n. ambassador eli stevenson found himself to be lying about u.s. noninvolvement in this operation. kennedy had orders the first air strike to be smaller than planned for and then canceled the second planned air strike. cia was afraid to recommend at that point that the invasion be canceled. even though everyone knew, at least on cia side, that without
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command of the air, the invasion was doomed. they're afraid to give that kind of bad news. which is, if you think about it, is uncharacteristic. intelligence is in the bad news business but this is a case where they call it falling in love with your operation. it they had all fallen in love with it. when the invasion arrived on april 17th it faced a mully mobilized cuban military with command of the air, castro on scene, effectively directing the defenses. his forces quickly disabled the two supply ships, a landing craft that made it ashore, put a small exile force on the beach where they fought for three days. kennedy refused the request to have u.s. navy aircraft to provide combat air support. two cia chartered airplanes from the alabama ammunition guard dropped supplies on the beach
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for the rebels but those were shot down. the four pilots between the two aircraft ksz, they died, they are stars on cia memorial war. brig otta surrendered and 1200 survivors were taken captive. >> taken prisoner. so it is a debacle. afterwards this was humiliating for the united states government and for kennedy. it was a great victory for castro. and a lot of bitter recrimination and finger pointing going on. kennedy advisers and historians have placed the blame on cia, for deceiving the president about his chances for success and other hand cia people at the time and cia defenders ever since, but not me, have admitted that there were planning errors but insist the invasion could have been successful if it had been allowed to work as planned. it is failure, they say, it
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kennedy's fall for canceling that second air strike, for refusing u.s. military support. he's blamed for moving the landing site and for liking covert action too much. the chief cia planner, again richard bissell, he's a brill yebts man who was the project manager for the u-2 aircraft. he and director alan dulles had to resign. in his memoirs, bissell said i sincerely believe even when the plan faults as long as we were able to move ahead with the air strikes, the brigade would win the day. to establish a beach head and then what. it is also possible that he wrote that we in the agency were not as frank with the president about further deficiencies as we could have been. so there was any telling as mission. there was a report by lieman kirkpatrick saying that if cia had been more careful it would
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have realized there is no resistance to the castro regime, that could have rallied to help the invaders. castro's forms were firmly in control of cuban society. they vastly outnumbered any invasion source and the terrain offered no help. they said cia should have canceled the operation even though it would have been embarrassing to the agency, he said, cancelation would have averted failure. which brought even more embarrassment, carried death and misery to hundreds, destroyed millions of dollars worth of u.s. property and seriously damaged u.s. prestige. he was right about that. there was a rebut athe inspector general's report and the director of operations said the air strikes were crucial and without them there could be no success and a long series of washington policy decisions. so there you have a fairly common situation. something goes wrong, something big goes wrong, the intelligence folks blame the policymakers and
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the policymakers blame the intelligence folks. thus was fulfilled the ancient saying in washington, there are no policy failures, there are only policy successes and trillion dollars failures. now my view is there is plenty of blame to go around. i think the historical record shows there were plenny of failures on both sides. there is clear lessons from the bay of pigs, policy people could come up with their own. but for intelligence people, one of the lessons learned is do not plan for a covert action or any kind of intelligence operation clandestine collection and human and technical intelligence that requires every part to go perfectly for any of it to succeed. secondly, do not undertake covert operations already described in "the new york times." third, make sure your agency experts are involved in the planning. the ones who know the most about the area you're going into. if they're not cleared for the project, you should damn well
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clear them. do not be afraid of communicating clearly to the policy people the risks and consequences of failure of every part of the plan. and this takes courage, but intelligence people should be prepared to stand down and walk away from any operations that does not make sense. operationally or even politically. remember, the policymaker may want deniability more than the conditions you've established for success. on the policy side, there were luge implications, u.s. prestige was damaged to be sure. the soviet union tried to take advantage. the soviet premier kristoff concluded that kennedy was weak and decisive and so demanded that western powers abandon berlin. as you know, at the end of world war ii, berlin was divided into east and west between the soviet union and the western allied powers. kristoff said that west berlin was a threat to east german. kennedy blames cia for putting him into that position. he briefly considered breaking
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up cia into its various missions or business areas and distributing it throughout the government. that was justifiable anger on his part but he got over there. he also considered replacing alan dulles with his own brother robert. robert kennedy likes working with the agency but he was a savvy enough politician to realize that that wouldn't work very well. it is not career enhancing for politicians to be cia director. so he turned that down. now just a few months after the bay of pigs debacle, kennedy is meeting with the soviet premier in vienna. kristoff berated kennedy for american imperialism and said soviets were getting tough regarding berlin. in august, this is four months after the bay of pigs, these germans acting on orders from moscow erected the berlin wall, cutting off east and west berlin. the communists call it the anti-fascist protective wall and it was prevent east germans to escaping from freedom in the west.
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again, that is what communists do. the u.s. considered this an illegal act but did not risk war to stop it. kennedy, however, renewed the u.s. commitment to the freedom of west berlin and kristoff, having bit the wall, he backed down on any further threats. this became another cold war standoff. kristoff was looking for a way to advance the soviet position in the cold war. some sort of fait accompli, a surprise move that would change the strategic balance in moscow's favor. as we all know, and this is the accelerated history of that, did he that by putting soviet missiles in cuba secretly believing by the time the united states discovered them it would be too late for the american to do anything about it but as you know the u.s. government did discover them early and kennedy told kristoff to take them out or else and kristoff backed down and nuclear war was averted and kennedy was the hero to be cut down by an assassin's bullet a
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year later. and that is the history that most remember. and by enlarge it is true. and it is highly dramatic. but this dramatic story is largely an intelligence story. it begins what soviet military intelligence officer who volunteered to provide intelligence for mi-6. oleg penski continues as an espionage asset into the summer of 1961 as cold war tensions are mounting. he was a well placed colonel in the soviet military called the gru, he reports on what he learns in meetings about soviet strategy toward the u.s. he photographs secret soviet military documents, including probably the most helpful one, this r-2 missile manual, in translation here, the r-2 is a medium range ballistic missile, mrbm, of the soviets. some sort of fait accompli, a surprise move that would change the strategic balance in
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moscow's favor. as we all know, and this is the accelerated history of that, did he that by putting soviet missiles in cuba secretly believing by the time the united states discovered them it would be too late for the american to do anything about it but as you know the u.s. government did discover them early and kennedy told kristoff to take them out or else and kristoff backed down and nuclear war was averted and kennedy was the hero to be cut down by an assassin's bullet a year later. and that is the history that most remember. and by enlarge it is true. and it is highly dramatic. but this dramatic story is largely an intelligence story. it begins what soviet military intelligence officer who volunteered to provide intelligence for mi-6. oleg penski continues as an espionage asset into the summer of 1961 as cold war tensions are mounting. he was a well placed colonel in the soviet military called the gru, he reports on what he
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learns in meetings about soviet strategy toward the u.s. he photographs secret soviet military documents, including probably the most helpful one, this r-2 missile manual, in translation here, the r-2 is a medium range ballistic missile, mrbm, of the soviets. he passed these things to cia and his cia and mi-6 case offers and provided high level soviet policy papers and he even tries to warn the u.s. ahead that the berlin wall is going up but he can't do so in time. above all he conveys his impression that the soviet leadership is those as confident as they appear. they are blustering from a position of weakness and they know it. they worry about provoking the u.s. to war and they know they don't have strategic superiority in nuclear weapons. the national intelligence estimates at the time, the u.s. national intelligence at the time assessed that the soviets had far fewer nuclear missiles
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this is what we do. we give multiple code names to mask the source of this intelligence.
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colonel clinsski who spied for the cia in 1970s, his code name was gull and the intelligence from him was called chrysanthemum. so meanwhile, the kennedy brothers, the president and the attorney general, are pressuring cia to do something about the castro regime. and the bay of pigs was em bears ago, and they want revenge. they don't like being humiliated. crist anderson confirms that kennedy approved more covert operations than eisenhower and they liked it against castro. infiltration of agents, propaganda and sabotage and though it was never mentioned out loud, assassination plots. code name is mongoose and includes some ideas about how to kill castro. at cia there is a leadership change. the leadership fall out from the bay of pigs fall squarely on cia. president kennedy's told
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director dulles if this were a parliamentary system, i would have to resign, my government would fall. but it is not. so you have to leave. dulles was allowed to retire for his own dignity a few months after the bay of pigs in november of '61. his replacement is john mccone, one of the great cia directors. the agency at this time is monitoring soviet shipment of weapons to cuba so cuba could defend itself against another invasion. u-2 flights begin in february of 1962. mccone in the summer of '62 raises the possibility that you know moscow might send missiles to cuba. mccone grasps that moscow might make this bold move to put
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ballistic missile news cuba to overcome strategic inferiority in missiles. and august there are surface-to-air missile sites in cuba. sam sites, surface-to-air missiles meant to bring down aircraft. mccohn is alone in the u.s. government in believing that they wouldn't do this unless they're defending something important from aerial attack and perhaps that something would be ballistic missile sites and also to shoot down recognition aircraft so americans wouldn't find out about it so they would be blind over cuba. so what does the kennedy white house do? the sam sites spooked them. the kennedy administration orders a moratorium on flights, ear draw down. it allows only three flights in september, all of them over eastern cuba, away from the known sam sites. that month of september, two
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things happen. there is a special national trillion dollars estimate, we talked about analytic products, the sneeze, special national intelligence and head by the analyst. he said that it would not make sense for the soviets to place strategic missiles in cuba because it is too risky. when we had discussed analysis, we talked about cognitive challenges to analysis and biases and mindsets and how a big one is mirror imaging, this idea that the other side is going to reason and figure out things like we would.
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so this is an example, a classic example of mirror imaging. at the same time director mccone goes on leave. he was recently married and went to france but when you travel you have communications with you and he's sending cables back to cia saying have got to press the white house for permission to send u 2's over the sam sites. figure out what they are protecting. he has no evidence. it just makes sense to him. from september into october there is a five week period in which practically no u-2s fly and they stay away from the sam sites on the periphery of cuba even though mccohn is making appeals. meanwhile, there is human
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intelligence going on. espionage assets in cuba are seeing mysterious work going on in western cuba, long cylindrical objects being towed by military trucks. okay. mccohn insists and kennedy allows a single flight over cuba on october 14th going straight across the island from south to north. that would be this flight here. and is it discovers in plain sight an mrbm site, medium immediate ram range ballistic missile. kennedy then authorized unlimited u-2 flights. recent book called blind over cuba said though friendly
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historians ever since have blamed cia for the bad weather for this five-week gap in effective overhead imagery collection when it results from white house policymakers. so the cuban missile crisis begins with that failure, that sne, and the collection failure caused by policy and then the collection success, the u-2 sees what is there. and using also pencoughski's intelligence, they are able to
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find out that this is a soviet sam site which has a distinctive star of david kind of pattern in it. over the next week, u-2 flights provide imagery that identify 24 medium range ballistic missile sites, have a range of about a thousand miles, and also intermedia range ballistic missile sites. and they have about a 2,000 mile range. the intelligence on the soviet mrbm's gives the president some indication on how long it would take to make these things operational. kennedy has the time to
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deliberate instead of just reacting. the initial impulse on everybody's part is we have to take these things out with a strike. but upon deliberation, he decides to impose a naval blockade and used hard nosed diplomacy to tell the soviets to get the missiles out. and good thing he decided on the blockade rather than attacking cuba because it was revealed years later in 1990 that soviet forces in cuba had tactical nuclear weapons, that they would have used against an american attack. so that is good. thankfully "the washington post" got it wrong about the invasion of cuba. "new york times" got it right regarding a naval blockade.
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kennedy goes on national tv on the 22nd of october announced the situation and declared the blockade, makes it clear that any missile attack from cuba would be considered an attack from the ussr. and would be answered. the naval blockade over the next 12 days of the crisis works and nsa intercepts confirm that soviet ships are turning back and u-2 images are used to embarrass moscow who denied that such work was going on. the soviets backed down. imagery intelligence and signals intelligence, monitor the removal of soviet missiles from cuba, during the crisis, a u-2 was shot down. kennedy refuses to escalate and instead he responds to
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khrushchev's proposal that in exchange for removing the missiles, the u.s. pledges not to invade cuba. so, cuban missile crisis comes to a satisfactory ending which means the world did not end. that's good. but the kennedy brother's obsession with castro continues. the momentum continues to pressure cia to get rid of castro. so a senior cia official met with a cuban agent in paris on the 22nd of november, 1963 to give him poison to kill castro. that was the day that kennedy was in dallas and was killed. in the time we have left, i want to address the all too popular story that kennedy's assassination in dallas was the result of a cia operation or
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conspiracy to kill the president. my bottom line opinion, it's a myth. it is a can ard. it is a lie. it is logically almost impossible to prove a negative. and i'm quite confident that cia did not kill kennedy. it is a widespread story. i don't know how many books are out there making this assertion, probably hundreds, maybe lots more. i do know that if you google kennedy assassination cia you get almost 3 million hits on google. it has its own wikipedia article. i'm not going into all of the aspects and variance of the theory because it is way too complicated and simply not worth our consideration. but i will say is this -- the idea that cia would murder an american president, to me as a citizen is simply unmanageable and as a career cia officer it is monstrous and obscene in the
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highest degree. this is an extraordinary claim that requires a burden of proof based on persuasive evidence. the so-called evidence i've seen is all highly speculative, not persuasive and i'm sure i'll hear about the conspiracy hear from the conspiracy near piss bs this, but the motives don't convince me, either. as a cia staff historian for 11 years, i find it implausible in the extreme. good scholarship over the years has shown that cia always, without exception, has considered itself to be the president's agency and has done his bidding. yes, robert. >> what would lead the natural conclusion for people that would say, oh, it was cia? with as much support and there was with books being released and protests or whatever the picture depicts, why would people believe it was obviously cia? that seems like a ludicrous idea to just kind of get that much
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support around. >> i'm not a psychologist. certainly not a popular psychologist. but i think people want to believe that there had to have been a conspiracy, that this punk could not kill the president of the united states without help. i mean, we could go more in depth as to some of the milestones in this theory, one of which was the movie jfk by oliver stone which came out in the 1990s which was ton very skillfully to show a cia conspiracy and after that film comes out, you have at one point a majority of americans polled believing cia did it. based on a movie. it had political implications. you had the congress passing the jfk act which requires cia to declassify everything that it has that would be related to the
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kennedy assassination. as i was saying, the agency is always considered itself to be the president's instrument, no matter what was going on, whether there are intelligence failures, debacles like the bay of pigs, budget cuts, signs that the cold war is thawing, all of these are alleged motives. the silliest one, among the silliest, is that cia killed kennedy because he planned to remove the u.s. from vietnam. the reality is that cia wasn't really enamored of operating in vietnam. maybe the silliest is that the agency was doing the bidding of the vice president lyndon johnson or even sillier is that johnson had it done because he was controlled by cia, which is nuts. another is that kennedy actually wanted to stop cia from trying to kill castro, against all
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evidence and cia didn't want to stop. now, the real cia at the time, the agency i know from years of study, of cia internal documents, oral history interviews, memoirs, memoranda and so forth, is literally the last group of men and women on the planet who would even consider doing such a thing. the most insulting thing i've seen is a claim that secretly that cia recently put a star on the memorial wall for lee harvey oswald, one of ours. i was a historian responsible for the memorial wall. i find that funny and insulting and frustrating all at the same time. yes, i know on the internet you can find youtube interviews with men claiming to be the cia
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assassin. death bed confessions. you could also find claims about cia's cover-up of extraterrestrials in area 51, roswell, cia's experiments in time travel and teleportation and none of those are real, either. sorry to disappoint you. the people who believe these things are sadly mistaken and many of them are nuts. the sad thing is that the conspiracy theorists, the true believers will just say i'm part of the conspiracy. of course he would say that. which will come as a surprise to anyone who knows me. unfortunately we live in an age in which logic and evidence gives way. i will say is trumped by assertion and identity. if you want a good reliable source that refutes this idea, this theory, you could google the name of max holland, like the netherlands, max holland, an independent researcher who has been following this for years.
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i extort all of my students to treat everything with due skepticism, including what i teach you in class. check everything on the basis of solid evidence, sound reasoning and good and reliable scholarship and for heaven's sake and for your own sanity ignore the cacophony of loud noises who make assertions and say they must be true because there are a lot of them or because of the identity of the person making the assertion. now, i fully a mitt that i could be accused of hypocrisy here because i'm making assertion about cia non-involvement. and you can't prove a negative and i'm asking to you believe it because of who i am. an intelligence relationships are everything so in this i'm asking you to trust me because that is the best we can do. so that brings us to the end of our treatment of kennedy and intelligence. are there any other questions on bay of pigs, cuban missile crisis, the other thing we mentioned. jeremy, yes. >> in the last class you mentioned the presidential
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finding published to the gang of eight. the memo of notification. >> right. >> was any of that in place at the time of the bay of pigs and how did that -- >> very good question. our discussion about covert action as a function of intelligence was of now, the recent developments, the requirement for a finding comes from the late 1970s and the most recent law on this which was one of the intelligence authorization acts, i think it was 1997, all of that gets into the title 50 of the u.s. code, at the time of the kennedy administration, there is no such process. there is an executive branch process, but there is no reporting requirement to the congress who was -- such reporting that was done was informal, low key, kind of off the record. in the case of the development of the u-2 spy plane, cia
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notified one of the houses, i think it was the house of representatives -- no the senate and did not inform the house. so when francis gary powers was shot down at least half of the congress didn't even know we had a u-2. so things have changed. and we'll get to that when we talk about accountability and the reforms of the 1970s. yes. >> you had we had an asset colonel penkovsky. >> penkovsky, yes. >> did he not inform us about the missiles being brought into cuba? >> not specifically. but he gave us the documentary evidence, the manuals which we were able to use in the -- during the crisis. i'm told that when we received all of this information, we thought this is great but we're not -- we don't have a need for it. and then the cuban missile crisis happens and we have all of a sudden a need for it. this is why intelligence officers try to collect everything, even if it is not
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totally relevant at this time, it may be an investment for something that happens in the future, and the future is always uncertain. >> so they didn't know what they had at the time basically? >> they need what they had but they didn't know how relevant it was. i mean, for a missile system that we don't expect to get close to but it comes close to us, then it becomes relevant. matthew. >> was there any objection made apparent to the cia by the rebel forces in cuba, the anti-communist forces in cuba about choosing bay of pigs as their landing site for the operation? >> i don't believe they had any input into that sort of planning. it is a very good question. i think as i understand covert action planning now, we would ask cubans and locals about the conditions of that place. the problem, the short comings there probably could have been easily remedied if they brought in the director of intelligence analysts on that.
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and that is one reform that mccohn had when he came into the directorship. he made it a requirement that the analysts be brought in for operational planning of that sort. joseph. >> did anyone actually think that the cubans did bomb their own air force, did the plane deception work or did people see right through it as a u.s. did it? >> no. >> no? >> remember, the requirement of covert action is the hand of the united states is not apparent or can be denied plausibly and what is plausible is sometimes a matter of opinion. i don't think given the publicity that anybody doubts once the shooting started who was behind it. >> if bombing the air force was so crucial and we didn't finish it the first time, and everyone is saying it was so crucial, we should have done it, why wasn't it done, like the second air strike? >> like i said, you fall in love with your operation and i won't
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ask for personal testimony to this, but when you fall in love, you make dumb decisions sometimes. i think it is true that cia and bissell hints at it in his memoir, was afraid to tell the president. and also there was an unstated assumption on cia's part if we don't get these air strikes, the invasion can't succeed but the president surely will not allow it to fail, so he will then involve the u.s. military. so that is an assumption on an assumption. and kennedy was not willing to go that far. so what we have here is a failure to communicate, to coin a phrase. all right. eric. >> what made director mccohn such a good cia director? >> he had been a founder of what became u.s. steel.
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he was a corporate manager. it was just far more efficient, clear-headed. he also was a bit of a visionary. he created or had created the directorate of science and technology, which hadn't existed at that point. i mean, there is a long biography, a formerly classified biography on mccohn that was done by my boss at cia, the chief historian, david robarge and that has been largely declassified and available to you. a good popular buying graep of mccone i don't believe has ever been done. but he was only there for four years. but he did a lot of good things and really tried to get the place to clean up its act. yeah. >> you said that director dulles got three months to not resign until it was reasonable.
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what about the richard bissell, was he just kicked out right after -- >> i think he left at the same time that dulles went. he was offered another job within cia but he thought it would be a step down so he was not interested in staying. and then we have a question right behind -- >> what was the obsession with castro from the -- well from jfk and from the attorney general? like was it the closeness to the united states or was it the fear of communism just spreading? >> all of that. i've tried to give you a sense in the course that the cold war was a deeply serious thing by the participants and the leaders involved. there was a fear of communism and advance of communism anywhere is a defeat for freedom everywhere. and just as eisenhower said we're not going to tolerate a country going communist, guatemala, whatever the merits of that argument were, and
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castro seemed to be worse. because he openly declared himself to be an ally of the soviet union. and that is the main enemy, that is the country we have to worry the most about, is creating so much trouble for us in the world. threatening our allies, we have to do something. that was the thinking at the time. and it became personal. i think it became personal. >> so earlier in the course we discussed espionage and assets and the handling of those assets. how did the handling of the case with the soviet colonel end up? >> not well. he was caught and there are different theories about how he was caught, whether it was poor trade craft or some other mistake that was made, but he was caught and executed. a lot of the brave soviets, soviet citizens who worked for
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cia during the cold war, met their fate, a bullet in the back of the head in the prison, the kgb prison in moscow. we have been able to get, we talked about exfiltration, many people out, but some of the most prominent ones, unfortunately, were martyrs for the cause. >> and a follow-up. >> sure. >> we just passed back and forth if we're not mistaken on one of the slides it said that we had oral debriefs with the colonel. >> yes. >> how did the cia receive those oral debriefs if he was in soviet russia? >> well he got out occasionally. there is a great would think on him and it's called -- you will remember this title -- it's called "the spy who saved the world" because of the information he gave for the -- let me get rid of this. this is odious. "the spy who saved the world" and it is a story about penkovsky.
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and in it it describes that he was an influential, for a colonel he was pretty influential, he had some perks, he was part of a soviet military trade mission to britain, and he would go occasion in a he will to the west, to britain, i think to paris once, and get away from his delegation and be met in a safe house by cia and mi-6 debriefers. so there were extensive bank of america briefings. and that book, which is a great book, reveals all of that stuff. there is a story that penkovsky actually got to meet with ken tree. that part of the history is not true. but he considered -- penkovsky considered himself a soldier for democracy. and to the point that he asked you could dress me up in an american colonels uniform and a british colonel's uniform. and they did it. and the things you do for your asset to keep them reporting. you'll do anything reasonable, yeah.
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>> do we know what he was given in return for -- >> i think it is in that book. but typically you give them money. but not enough so they could expose themselves by conspicuous spending. we're also trying to preserve our assets' lives and telling them they need to put -- dial it back, you know. but i think we gave him -- i do know we gave him particular gifts to give to his superiors to curry favor so they liked him so they would promote him and give him good jobs. at one point we gave him a bottle of brandy i think that was doctored to make it look like it was the vintage year of the birth of his boss, a soviet general. who just loved that you found this for me. we will do these sort of things. yeah. okay. anything else?
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okay. so next week, a quiz on thursday, and i'll see you next time we meet on tuesday. thank you for your attention. weekends on c-span 2, bring you the best in american history and nonfiction books. saturday at 2:00 p.m. eastern on american history tvs the presidency we'll feature two programs on gerald ford, the only white house occupant who was never elected vice president or president. first, a visit to the ford presidential museum, looking back on the 38th president through archival photographs and film. then a profile of his wife, first lady betty ford who was honored for her life's work with a special focus on the white house grounds and gardens. special speakers include jonathan pliska and susan ford bales. at 9:25 p.m. eastern lucinda raw
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and rebecca roberts talk about the suffragist playbook which looks at the strategies and tactics used by suffragist toss win the vote for women and how they're relevant today. book tv features leading authors discussing their latest nonfiction books. on sunday live at noon eastern on in depth author carol swain, vice chair of the 1776 commission and former vanderbilt university professor joins us for a live discussion talking about critical race theory, the 1619 project, immigration and per most recent book, black eye for america. and at 11:00 p.m. eastern in his book "the afghanistan papers" the "washington post" craig whitlock uses official documents and original reporting to examine america's 20-year war in the country. watch american history tv and book tv every weekend on c-span 2 and find a full schedule on your program guide or visit
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