Cuban refugees pray for the success of the Bay of Pigs invasion at a rally in downtown Bayfront Park in Miami, Fla., April 19, 1961.
Robert Strauss, longtime reader and penpal, writes in to make an apt historical comparison I haven't seen before between Obama, a president who didn't order the military support for Americans under fire in Benghazi, and Kennedy, a president who canceled military support for Americans and Cuban exiles under fire in the Bay of Pigs.
What drew his eye were the four questions Charles Woods, father of slain ex-SEAL Ty Woods, recently asked Obama, including whether Obama would have acted more aggressively to rescue Americans in Benghazi if his own children had been there.
Obama's letter to Charles Woods brings to mind this paragraph by a paramilitary CIA operative at the Bay of Pigs, reacting to Theodore Sorensen's downplaying of Kennedy's canceled air cover:
"If Sorenson truly believes that the president's cancellation of the Monday-morning strike had only minor effects, then he should certainly have no objections to sitting down with the sons and daughters of the ten Cuban pilots and four American pilots who died under the guns of those untouched Castro jets, and explaining to them that the deaths of these brave men were due to a `minor' decision made by President John F. Kennedy (p.157, Decision for Disaster)."
Those are the words of Grayston Lynch, who fought with the Cuban-exile brigade, 2506, against Castro at the Bay of Pigs. Lynch also was part of the team that rescued brigade members from the beaches as Castro's T-33 jets strafed the survivors attempting to be rescued. Such strafing is a complete violation of the Geneva Convention. (The T-33s would have been destroyed on the runway beforehand, had Kennedy not refused the promised air support.)
Here's Lynch describing how unimportant (extreme sarcasm intended) the cancellation of the air support was:
"If Schlesinger and the other `Knights of Camelot' had been at Cochinos Bay (Bay of Pigs), I could have refreshed their memory about those forgotten T-33s. They were, Mr. Schlesinger, those bright shiny planes that made that funny noise when they flashed by you as they fired those weird-sounding rockets that blew large holes in our `inadequate' ships and `inadequate' planes. I guarantee you, Mr. Schlesinger, that you would never make the mistake of forgetting them again (p161, Decision for Disaster)."
Those passages are from Lynch's book, Decision for Disaster: Betrayal at the Bay of Pigs (Potomac Books, 2000). Interestingly, there is a second subtitle, "A CIA Participant Challenges the Historical Record." Thought that might be especially cogent in reference to your defenses against the academics whining about their precious turf. Kennedy was surrounded by an advisory crew of academics known as the New Frontier: they have produced quite a body of apologetic work on the Bay of Pigs, much of which is mythological rubbish.
The comparisons between Benghazi and the Bay of Pigs are striking in some ways. The one that stands out most to me is that calls for backup support were repeated over and over. In the case of the Bay of Pigs, the promised support was, as we know, directly refused by Kennedy; while at Benghazi, the excuse, as in Obama's letter, was that potential reinforcements were too far away. As you point out, however: "Notice there are no answers to Woods’ very specific operational questions. Not one."
I think it's fair to say that both stand-down decisions originated in the State Department. Kennedy's decision, at the behest of the State Department, rested on the grossly political calculation that such American air involvement would have embarrassed the US at the UN. (In the meantime, Khrushchev and Russia are sending Stalin tanks, crates of soon-to-be-assembled MiGs, and shortly thereafter, ballistic missiles to Castro, in their unembarrassed way.)
It's also fair to say we are not even close to finding out what really happened in Benghazi. Hopefully, Charles Woods and his family will find out soon. If the Bay of Pigs is any indication, though, the apologists for Hillary's State Department, and the fawning media, and the stalwart, truth-seeking academics, will tuck that information away for decades. Yes, decades.
One of the most disturbing things about the aftermath of the Bay of Pigs is that some records are still classified: more than 50 years after the fact!
Tellingly, when Grayston Lynch and other participants gave testimony upon returning to Washington DC, John and Robert Kennedy made sure no tape recorders or any direct stenography of any kind, was present. Err, what? That's like saying "Coverup in your face," to those, like Lynch, in the course of their providing testimony. Never fear, however, documentation was taken care of by Robert Kennedy, who wrote down "notes" from memory after each meeting. Now, there's transparency for the American public, huh? Some of those notes were unclassified not so long ago, and some remain sealed to this day. Maybe some "valid" historians of the Cold War will help get those notes unveiled soon. They've done yeoman's work up until now.