Bay of Pigs
President Kennedy and former President Eisenhower a few days after the failed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba, 22 Apr 1961.
Unhappy with Fidel Castro and the direction he was taking Cuba in, the United States government under President Eisenhower began plotting Castro's demise. This included assassination plots and also a plan for a CIA-trained group of Cuban exiles to invade the island.
The training of the exiles, which took place in Guatemala, did not achieve sufficient results to launch the invasion before the 1960 U.S. elections, which saw the defeat of Vice-President Richard Nixon to John F. Kennedy. Kennedy had used the "Cuba issue" in his campaign, and inherited a plan which the CIA assured him would succeed. Kennedy and his aides forced some modifications to the plan, to try to ensure that the invasion would not be perceived as led by the United States. This included relocating the landing location to an area known as the "Bay of Pigs."
On April 17, 1961, approximately 1300 exiles landed in Cuba. They were quickly overwhelmed by Cuban military forces, with many killed and the bulk of the men captured. President Kennedy refused to order additional air strikes, beyond some initial sorties which had failed to disable the Cuban air force, and for this some attribute the operation's failure to Kennedy.
An internal CIA investigation conducted in 1961 and finally declassified in 1998 put the blame squarely on the CIA's shoulders (though it is accompanied by a scathing rebuttal written by Deputy Director Tracey Barnes). In hindsight, the plan seems so unlikely to succeed that some speculate that CIA planners must have counted on some other factor - possibly the simultaneous assassination of Fidel Castro. Or, perhaps the planners were counting on President Kennedy, faced with impending failure, to send in the U.S. military to rescue the situation. Instead, Kennedy accepted a humilating defeat, soon moved to take military operations out of the hands of the CIA, and obtained the resignations of high-level CIA officials including Director Allen Dulles and covert action head Richard Bissell.
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