The Good Shepherd: CIA Secrets or Hollywood Sizzle?
Bay of Pigs
*The movie begins on April 16, 1961, the day before the CIA's failed attempt to topple Fidel Castro by launching a surprise invasion into Cuba. A confident Wilson (Damon) is stunned when the CIA-trained exiles are defeated in less than 72 hours and he quickly concludes that Castro's forces were tipped-off. Wilson spends the rest of the movie searching for the traitor who gave Castro and his Soviet military advisors the name of the beach where the invaders were destined to come ashore. He's guided by clues in an envelope slipped under his door. They include grainy black-and-white photographs of a couple making love and a doctored tape recording of their pillow talk.
Fact: After the blotched invasion, the White House asked General Maxwell Taylor to investigate what had gone wrong. His report, which was delivered in June 1961 to President John F. Kennedy, placed blame entirely on the CIA. Among other things, the general said CIA officials had mistakenly believed Cubans would join the invaders in rising-up to overthrow Castro. (A mistake CIA analysts would repeat prior to the US invasion of Iraq.) Taylor also reported that the Soviet Union and Cuba had known about the attack in advance. Initially, the CIA-trained, Cuban exile leaders were blamed for leaking the invasion date. A CIA official told General Taylor that the Cubans had "no conception whatsoever of security." The official added: "I've never encountered a group of people that were so incapable of keeping a secret."
James Angleton was not in charge of the invasion as The Good Shepherd suggests. The CIA operations chief who oversaw the invasion was Jacob D. Esterline. As head of counterintelligence, Angleton might have been asked to investigate how the Soviets learned about the invasion in advance, but he would not have taken part in planning the attack or known about it beforehand.