Operation Mongoose

Cuban President Fidel Castro with Nikita Khrushchev, Premiere of the Soviet Union.

Failure at the Bay of Pigs did not deter the Kennedy administration from seeking ways to topple Castro. In November 1961 Operation Mongoose was created to coordinate these efforts. This was not a strictly CIA operation - General Edward Lansdale was tasked with coordinating activities between the CIA, Defense Department, and State Department. The Special Group Augmented (augmented by the President's brother Robert Kennedy and General Maxwell Taylor) oversaw the program at the White House, and Robert Kennedy played a very active role.

Mongoose entailed a wide range of activities, including intelligence collection, sabotage operations, searching for leaders within Cuba who could overthrow Castro, and more. The Northwoods operation, which contemplated faked and real terrorist activities which could be blamed on Castro and used as an provocation for invasion, were developed in this period with Lansdale's involvement.

Whether plots to assassinate Castro were part of this operation, and whether Robert Kennedy or President Kennedy condoned them, has remained a point of controversy to this day. Lansdale himself said that Robert Kennedy was aware of assassination plotting. One memo from Lansdale to RFK in early 1962, uncovered by the Church Committee, says that "we might uncork the touchdown play independently of the institutional program we are spurring."

The placement of Soviet missiles in Cuba, discovered in the fall of 1962, caused a suspension of Mongoose activities, and efforts to deal with Cuba took a different turn.



Operation Mongoose, by Spartacus Educational.

Cuba in the Crosshairs: A Near Half-Century of Terror, by Noam Chomsky.

Other Links

Operation Mongoose on gives a narrative overview of Operation Mongoose.

Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961-1963, Volume X: Cuba, 1961-1962.

Operation Mongoose: The PsyOp Papers discusses some of the psychological operations contemplated under Mongoose, and reproduces some document pages. This website contains a wealth of information on Cuban exiles and anti-Castro operations.

The American Experience: RFK. The accompanying PBS website has some information on Mongoose.


Church Committee Interim Report, p.139: Operation Mongoose. The Church Committee volume on assassination plots has a good overview of Operation Mongoose, with particular focus on its relationship to plots against Castro's life.

Church Committee testimony of:

Comments On This Page

    Books of Interest

        The Cuba Project: CIA Covert Operations 1959-62
    Fabian Escalante
    Ocean Press, 2004
        The Fish is Red
    Warren Hinckle and William W. Turner
    Harper and Row, 1981
        One Hell of a Gamble: Khrushchev, Castro, and Kennedy, 1958-1964
    Alexsandr Fursenko and Timothy Naftali
    W.W. Norton and Company, 1997
        Robert Kennedy and His Times
    Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.
    Houghton Mifflin, 1978
        Alleged Assassination Plots Involving Foreign Leaders
    Church Committee
    Mary Ferrell Foundation Press, 1975, 2007

    © Mary Ferrell Foundation. All Rights Reserved. |Press Room |Our Policies||Site Map