The Bay of Pigs Invasion
In April 1961, a CIA-planned effort by Cuban exiles to overthrow Fidel Castro's regime and replace it with a non-communist, U.S.-friendly government went horribly awry when an aerial attack on Cuba's air force flopped and the 1,400-strong "Assault Brigade 2506" came under heavy fire from the Cuban military after landing off the country's southern coast. The botched invasion poisoned U.S.-Cuban relations.
CIA files later revealed that the agency, assuming President John F. Kennedy would commit American troops to the assault if all else failed, never showed the newly minted president an assessment expressing doubt about whether the brigade could succeed without open support from the U.S. military -- support Kennedy never intended to provide. (The historian Piero Gleijeses has compared the CIA and Kennedy to ships passing in the night.) The CIA didn't do itself any favors a year later by concluding that the Soviets were unlikely to establish offensive missiles in Cuba in a report issued a month before the Cuban Missile Crisis, though the agency redeemed itself a bit by later snapping U-2 photographs of the missile sites.
Above, guards keep a watchful eye on members of Assault Brigade 2506 after their capture in the Bay of Pigs in April 1961.
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