Bay of Pigs Release
(Updated October 31, 2016)
Between 1979 and 1984, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) staff historian Jack Pfeiffer prepared five volumes of the Agency’s Official History of the Bay of Pigs Operation. The cornerstone of this collection is a two-volume, 400-plus page document consisting of (Volume I) the CIA Inspector General's (IG) Report on the CIA's ill-fated April 1961 attempt to implement national policy by overthrowing the Fidel Castro regime in Cuba by means of a covert paramilitary operation, otherwise known as the Bay of Pigs, and (Volume II), a commentary on the IG report written by the Directorate of Plans (DP), now known as the Directorate of Operations (DO). These two volumes are a rare side-by-side compilation of high-level government self-evaluation of its own performance in an historic and controversial event. The remainder of the collection is comprised of various documents, to include finished intelligence, National Security Council (NSC) briefings and Spanish-language documents. The collection now stands at 769 documents, although more may be added in the future as additional documents are subjected to the ongoing review process.
The CIA history of the Bay of Pigs operation in 1961, originally classified top secret, based on dozens of interviews with key operatives and officials and hundreds of CIA documents. The four volumes include information never before released and comprise (I) Air Operations, March 1960-1961; (II) Participation in the Conduct of Foreign Policy; (III) Evolution of CIA's Anti-Castro Policies, 1959-January 1961; and (IV) The Taylor Committee Investigation of the Bay of Pigs.
The fifth volume was a draft volume, CIA’s Internal Investigation of the Bay of Pigs, which the CIA Chief Historian rejected as inadequate at the time, instructing Pfeiffer to make substantial revisions. Pfeiffer did not complete those revisions before retiring in 1984.
Unlike his four other histories, the fifth draft volume was not publishable in its present form, in the judgment of CIA Chief Historians as well as other reviewers, because of serious shortcomings in scholarship, its political tone, and its failure to add significantly to an understanding of the controversy over the Bay of Pigs operation—much of which has now been discussed in open source histories and memoirs. CIA’s Chief Historians have assessed that addressing those deficiencies would have required much more effort than the draft volume’s potential value would justify. Consequently, it remains an unfinished and unpublished draft.
Documents in this Collection
Documents in PDF format require the Adobe Acrobat Reader®