Friday, April 22, 2016


JFK+50:  Volume 5, No. 1927


Camp David, Maryland (JFK+50) Fifty-five years ago today, Saturday, April 22, 1961, President John F. Kennedy met with former President Dwight D. Eisenhower here at Camp David*, Maryland.

The morning meeting took place at Aspen Cottage.  Jim Rasenberger describes it as being "like a trip to the woodshed" for the young president.

Eisenhower wanted to know if JFK had "made sure to air all opposing views in his meetings" prior to the invasion.  Kennedy had to admit he had simply taken the advice of the CIA and Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Ike, sounding like a General who had experience planning invasions, asked why JFK had called off the second bombing mission.  The young president answered "to keep our hands from showing."  Mr. Eisenhower replied...

"How could you expect the world to believe that we had nothing to do with it?"

After their lunch had been taken, the two POTUS walked around the grounds for a quarter of an hour.  Before he boarded a helicopter to return to his home at Gettysburg, the General said to reporters...

"I am all in favor of the United States supporting the man who has to carry the responsibility for our foreign affairs."

In the privacy of his Journal, however, Ike was more than candid about his impressions.  He wrote that "the story of the invasion was 'a very dreary account of mismanagement, indecision and timidity at the wrong time.'"

Jim Rasenberger, however, argues that it was President Dwight D. Eisenhower who approved the CIA's "Program of Covert Action"  on March 17, 1960 and when the former president learned that his former security adviser, Gordon Gray**, had in his possession "review notes" of that meeting, Mr. Eisenhower had no choice acknowledge this fact.  Ike insisted, however, that while he gave his approval, there was no "military planning" done at that meeting.

*Camp David is located 62 miles NW of Washington, D.C. in Frederick County, MD.  Built by the WPA in the mid 1930s, it was converted into a presidential retreat by FDR.  He named it Shangri-La.  The name was changed by President Eisenhower who renamed it after his father & grandson.

**Gordon Gray (1909-1982) was born in Baltimore, MD & graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1930 & Yale Law School in 1933.  GG served in the US Army in WWII & was appointed head of the Office of Defense Mobilization by President Eisenhower & later National Security Adviser.  GG served on the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board under JFK, LBJ, RN & GF.


"Brilliant Disaster:  JFK, Castro and America's Doomed Invasion of Cuba's Bay of Pigs," by Jim Rasenberger, Scribner, New York, 2011.

JFK & Kids at Camp David
March 31, 1963
Photo by Robert Knudsen
White House Photo