50 years ago (April 17, 1961), the CIA launched one of its famously botched operations. On that day, 1,500 CIA-trained Cuban exiles stormed the beaches of southern Cuba, beginning an invasion meant to topple Fidel Castro and his Soviet-aligned government.
The plan called for airstrikes to soften up Castro’s defenses, then for troops to land on the beaches along the Bahía de cochinos. But things went quickly awry. Ships got stuck in shallow Cuban waters. Bombers missed targets. Further airstrikes were called off. And ground forces were eventually left without support — as good as dead in the water.
The bungled affair, a stinging embarrassment for the young Kennedy administration, gets revisited in a new book by Jim Rasenberger, The Brilliant Disaster: JFK, Castro, and America’s Doomed Invasion of Cuba’s Bay of Pigs. The video above succinctly recaps the events at the Bay of Pigs with the help of historical footage and interviews with historical actors…