By Max Holland
In the aftermath of the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, four separate postmortems examined the CIA’s performance. The first two were internal exercises; the third was coordinated within the intelligence community by the U.S. Intelligence Board (USIB); and the fourth was conducted by the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB).
Despite the sameness of the facts at issue, the four ex post facto analyses varied dramatically in their findings and conclusions regarding the CIA’s performance. Everything depended on who wrote the postmortem, when, for what audience, and from what perspective. The lesson of these postmortems from 1962-1963 would seem to be that all such after-the-fact inquests should be viewed critically, and with the utmost caution.
This article originally appeared in the International Journal of Intelligence and CounterIntelligence, Vol. 20, No. 3 (2007), and may be purchased from Taylor & Francis by clicking here.