Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Someone invaded Cuba! Wait, it's us!

Hillary Clinton spoke Tuesday at a memorial service for former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger, who died on June 4 at age 80.

Clinton recalled a story that Eagleburger told last month about one of his early jobs as a Cuba analyst in the State Department's intelligence bureau. Clinton said:
One morning in 1961, he came to work early and discovered that something big had happened in Cuba overnight, what we now know was the start of the Bay of Pigs invasion. And Larry thought it was his job to try to report on what was happening insofar as he could figure it out.

So he collected up all the facts available and he wrote up his analysis. Someone, he wrote, was trying to overthrow the Castro government and they were going to fail. (Laughter.) A few hours later, he discovered who was supporting the invasion, senior officials of the United States Government, and he discovered how they felt about his analysis. (Laughter.) He was summoned to the White House, and for several hours he was chewed out by one big shot after another.



Now, Larry was, in his own words, a junior, junior, junior officer, and plenty of people in those circumstances would have softened or moderated or even reversed their position, but not Larry. He just kept explaining his point of view repeatedly, never backing down. And eventually he was issued a warning never to cross paths with the Kennedy Administration again. And he was sent back to the State Department bloody, but unbowed.

That was Larry then, and that was Larry a month ago in the State Department, unimpressed by all of the pomp and circumstance, unafraid to put forth an unpopular opinion if he was convinced he was right. And often, as with the Bay of Pigs and on many other occasions, he was right.

1 comment:

Rich Haney said...

Mr. Eagleburger's experience as the U. S. government's top Cuban expert/analyst in 1961 reminds one of journalist Penelope Purdy's astute analysis: "The U. S. Cuban policy for all these decades has been conducted with the IQ of a salamander." Mr. Eagleburger, the intelligent Cuban expert in April-1961, learned of someone attacking Cuba to overthrow Castro and told his superiors that nation would "fail," not knowing the U. S. was doing the attacking. I'm from Charlottesville (Mr. Eagleburger finished his career at UVA) so I've heard his remembrance of that incident when the big shots in the Kennedy White House (the salamanders) berated him. It also reminds one of a UVA graduate named Ana Belen Montes who is now federal inmate #25037-016 at the federal prison in Fort Worth. She was also the U. S. government's top Cuban expert when (Oct.-2002) she was sentenced to 25 years as a Cuban spy. The U. S. admitted she never received a dime but she admitted she advised Cuba about such things as agents intending to harm Cuba. Right-wingers Scott Carmichael (who wrote a book damning her) and John Bolton made hay on her trial but Montes' long, heart-wrenching statement before the judge still resonates ("MY greatest desire is to see amicable relations emerge between the United States and Cuba. I hope my case in some way will encourage our government to abandon its hostility towards Cuba and to work with Havana in a spirit of tolerance, mutual respect, and understanding")the loudest. Eagleburger, Montes, etc., are among the many who lost out to self-serving anti-Cuban zealots, also known as salamanders.