Operation Mongoose

Cuban President Fidel Castro with Nikita Khrushchev, Premiere of the Soviet Union.
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 Cross-Hairs: A Near Half-Century of Terror, by Noam Chomsky.

JFK Files Reveal US Biological Warfare Plans Against Cuba, by Jimmy Falls.

Other Links

Operation Mongoose on GlobalSecurity.org 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.

cuban-exile.com. 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:

Related Starting Points

Books of Interest

    The Cuba Project: CIA Covert Operations 1959-62
Fabian Escalante
Ocean Press, 2004
    The Fish Is Red
Warren Hinkle and William W. Turner
Harper and Row, 1981
    "One Hell of a Gamble": Khrushchev, Castro, and Kennedy, 1958-1964
Aleksandr Fursenko and Timothy Naftali
W.W. Norton and Company, 1997
    Robert Kennedy and His Times
Arthur M. Jr. Schlesinger
Houghton Mifflin, 1978
    Church Committee: Interim Report - Alleged Assassination Plots Involving Foreign Leaders
Church Committee
Mary Ferrell Foundation Press, 11/20/75

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