Sunday, December 30, 2012

Lansdale Testifies

Washington, D.C. Friday, May 16, 1975
Declassified – 8/7/94

Mr. David Belin:

Q: General Lansdale, I would like to first get a background for the record. You are presently a retired Army officer?

A: Air Force.

Q: Air Force Officer.

A: :Retired Major General.

Q: And where did you go to school?


Q: And graduated when?

A: I didn’t graduate.

Q: Did you go from UCLA into the Army or Armed Forces?

A: No, I went into business.

Q: And then what happened?

A: I went into the military during World War II.

Q: And after World War II?

A: I became a regular officer in the Air Force.

Q: And you stayed in?

A: I stayed in until November, 1963, the end of October, 1963.

Q: During the period of time that you were in the Air Force, did you have anything to do with any planning or any involvement in the Bay of Pigs operations?

A: I was aware of the very early planning phases of the Bay of Pigs as an advisor on the staff of the Secretary of Defense, and I attended some policy meetings concerned with the Bay of Pigs operation, or what became the Bay of Pigs.

Q: And who was the Secretary of Defense at the time?

A: Thomas Gates was the Secretary.

Q: That was in the latter months of the Eisenhower Administration?

A: That’s correct.

Q: And what was your official position at the time?

A: I was Deputy Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Special Operations.

Q: And in that capacity, did you have any direct involvement in the planning of the Bay of Pigs?

A: No, none.

Q: Now, at that time, did you have any knowledge o was this in 1960?

A: This was 1960, correct.

Q: At any time during 1960, did you have any knowledge of any discussion of possible plans for the assassination of any foreign leaders?

A: I don’t recall any at all. I would say none.

Q: All right. Now, at the end of 1960, as 1961 commenced, what did you do?

A: I was out of the country. I was in Vietnam, and I returned about roughly a week before Inauguration Day, and I forget the exact date. It was January of  ‘61.

Q: And what were you doing in Vietnam?

A: I was doing a survey for the Secretary of Defense.

Q: To determine what?

A: What the situation was in Vietnam.

Q: At that time they had approximately 700 or 800 or 900 American advisors over there?

A: Something like that..

Q: And you were making a survey to determine whether or not more Americans should be involved?

A: Not necessarily. I was studying the security conditions in the country, the status of the political fabric of Vietnam of its economic needs as well. It was a general survey too.

Q: Was any decision made at that time to commit more than 700 or 800 or 900 to Vietnam?

A: None. None, from –

Q: You stated that you then came back to this country in the first part of January, 1961?

A: That is correct.

Q: And then what did you do?

A: I moved up after the Inauguration, when McNamara became Secretary of Defense he appointed me as Assistant to him and for want of a better title we kept the title of Special Operations, so I became the Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Special Operations.

Q: And what did that job involve?

A: It was unclear at the time, but it initially became a job of helping the Armed Forces get ready for counterinsurgency, that is the Army, Navy, Air Force and even the Marine Corps.

Q: when was the first time you had anything specifically to do with Cuba?

A: It was in the late fall of 1961.

Q: And what was the occasion of your getting involved at that time?

A: The President of the United States asked me to look over the situation vis a vis the U.S. in Cuba and to see if I had any ideas or could give him some ideas.

Q: Did you have a direct conversation with the President?

A: Yes.

Q: Do you remember what he said and what you said?

A: I do not recall exactly on that. He asked me if I would think about the situation in Cuba and if I could come up with any suggestions or recommendations from such a study. It was a rather vague assignment by him, but it was to be done for him personally.

Q: Were you to work through any intermediary or were you to report directly to the President?

A: I suggested an intermediary, and he appointed his brother, who was the Attorney General.

Q: And from that time forward, did you work primarily with the Attorney General or did you have subsequent reports to the President?

A: Both. It was primarily with the Attorney General, but with several conversations with the President.

Q: And was the capacity of your work in connection with what you refer to as the Special Group?

A: They were part of the approving group for any recommendations that I would come up with, yes.

Q: All right. What did you do after this meeting with the President?

A: I obtained as many documents and as much information as I could of what the current situation was on Cuba and in effect, using that information, made a study and made recommendations to the President.

Q: And when did you make those recommendations if you know, or were there a series of recommendations?

A: There was an initial recommendation and I believe it was either the end of September – of December ’61 or maybe early 1962, I don’t recall the date on that.

Q: And what was the initial recommendation?

A: It was to see if there was a possibility of using Cuban refugees to help them get their political thinking together to see if there would be any feasibility of a revolution in Cuba.

Q: Was that recommendation in writing or was it oral?

A: It was in writing.

Q: And you addressed it to the President?

A: That is correct.

Q: Did you deliver it personally or did you deliver it through the Attorney General?

A: I think to the Attorney General. As far as I know, the only copy of that paper was in the files of the President. I saw it there later. So however I delivered it, he received it and he had possession of it.

Q: What was the occasion of your seeing it later?

A: Later, I had had some copies of parts of this study and some planning that was done with various groups and I delivered all of the files to the President, and he had his secretary put them in his own personal file, and at that time I saw what else was in the file.

Q: And what else was in the files besides the copy of your paper?

A: There were previous copies of this one paper and some other memos that had gone forward to him, plus some other notes in there, and I don’t recall the exact contents of the notes, but I did notice that all of my papers were in his file.

Q: Did you keep any copies of your papers?

A: None. Not a one.

Q: Do you know whether or not there were any memos in that file from the CIA?

A: There possibly were, and I could not swear to that, I just don’t recall.

Q: All right. Now, you made this original recommendation, you put it in late 1961 or possibly early 1962.

A: That’s right.

Q: And then what did you do?

A: I surveyed the refugee organizations who at the time were primarily in Florida, talked to people in the Department of State, CIA, and the U.S. military primarily in the latter with people in the Joint Staff of Defense, and proposed some careful organizational plans of the Cubans to see if they could reconstitute one of their previous constitutions in Cuba and if an organization would be willing to work under such guidance. The end result was that we never did get such a group organized or movement. There was a very long process, very carefully done.

Q: This took place during the first part of 1962?

A: Yes. Yes.

Q: During any of these discussions in the first part of 1962 were there any discussions of Cuban exiles possibly going back inside Cuba to harass the regime?

A: Yes, there were such discussions.

Q: Were there any discussions that possibly some of these exile groups might very well try and assassinate Castro?

A: It might well have been mentioned, yes.

Q: Do you remember whether or not there was any discussion of the fact that such plans for assassination might actually be taking place?

A: I don’t recall a single instance of any serious action being undertaken on any such plan.

Q: What you’re saying is you recall discussions, but you don’t recall specific discussions as to existing plans>

A: That is correct.

Q: And so would you say those discussions related to possibilities rather than actualities, is that a fair statement?

A: Yes, definitely.

Q: Anything else happen in the fist part of 1962 with reference to action against Cuba?

A: Well, on the harassing raids, the President, Jack Kennedy, and the Attorney General, Robert Kennedy, and I myself did our best to stop harassing raids against Cuba since they were not serving the purpose of assisting the exile groups of doing something very carefully and constructively politically inside the country.

Q: Anything else insofar as the first half of 1962 with regard to Cuba that you can think of?

A: There might well have been something I can’t recall.

Q: Now I want to take you to the last  half of 1962. Do you remember a group called the Special Group or the Special Group Augmented?

A: On Cuba itself? There was a Special Group that I was reporting to on this, and so yes I do recall such a thing.

Q: And did they call it the Special Group Augmented because the Attorney General was a member of that particular group?

A: Possibly. I don’t recognize that name, but they might have called it that.

Q: Do you remember whether or not this group ever had any meetings?

A: Yes, they did.

Q: I am going to take you to the month of August 1962 and in particular a meeting that was held at the offices of the Secretary of State on or about August 10, 1962. Do you remember whether or not you might have attended such a meeting in August, 1962?

A: I don’t remember that definitely, but it is quite possibly that I have.

Q: Well, to help you refresh your recollection, I’m going to hand you a document marked Helms Exhibit No. 7 dated August 13, 1962, which is under the letterhead of the Office of Secretary of Defense and it looks as if it is from you.

A: It looks to me like it is from me.

Q: And I’m going to ask you to read that to yourself for a minute.


A: Yes.

Q: You will notice that in the first page of Helms Exhibit No. 7, there is a direction for a paper to be required from various people, one of whom was a Mr. Harvey. Do you know with whom Mr. Harvey was associated?

A: Yes. He was CIA.

Q: And there appears to be some words whited out. Do you have any recollection as to what those words were?

A: No.

Q: If there were testimony to say that those words originally were “including liquidation of leaders”, would that refresh your recollection at all?

A: I doubt it. I doubt it. I just don’t recall anything at all on liquidation of leaders.

Q: Do you recall anyone bringing up the discussion at that meeting about the possibility of liquidation of Cuban leaders?

A: Possibly. I simply don’t recall that.

Q: Do you remember a man by the name of  [REDACTED]

A: Yes.

Q: He was your assistant?

A: That is correct.

Q: Do you remember him telling you a few days after that meeting that Mr. Harvey had talked [REDACTED] to recommend that some words be excised from that memorandum?

A: No.

Q: Do you remember that?

A: I don’t recall.

Q: You mean you’re saying that might or might not have happened, but you don’t recall?

A: That is correct, yes.

Q: Do you remember whether or not you subsequently within a day or tow called Mr. Harvey and told him that the words had been excised?

A: No, but if I did that, then I would have notified him, yes. I don’t recall that incident, no.

Q: You’re just saying that it might have happened, but you don’t recall?

A: It might have happened, but I don’t recall. Yes.

Q: Now, you mentioned earlier that this Special Group or Special Group Augmented continued throughout 1962?

A: It did up until the missile crisis.

Q: Up until the missile crisis.

A: Yes.

Q: That would have been in the latter part of October, or mid-October, 1962?

A: Some such time around then, yes.

Q: Was this group also known as the MONGOOSE group?

A: Yes.

Q: I’m going to hand you what has been marked as McCone Exhibit 3.

A: Before you leave that, may I interrupt?

Q: Yes.

A: This paper, the one you just handed me –

Q: Helms Exhibit 7?

A: Yes. – was a request for some planning and some ideas which were later submitted as part of a plan for approval and it was not approved.


1 comment:

  1. Well, why keep us all hangin' with an "INCOMPLETE TEXT" ?