OA HISTORICAL REVIEW'PROGRAM RELEASE AS SANITIZED
title: domestic collection on cuba
author: judith bdgette
A collection ol articles on the historical operational, doctrinal, and theoretical aspects ot intelligence.
All statements of fad. opinion or analysis expressed in Studies in lnielliger.ee are those of
the authors They do noi necessarily reflect official positions or views of the Central Intelligence Agency or any other US Govemmeni entity, past or present. Nothing in the contents should be construed as asserting or implying US Government endorsement of an article's faciual statements and interpretations.
mass interrogation program launched and shaken down in time toseful role in2 missile crisis.
2 the intelligence community, under the coordl-nation ol CIA's apparatus lor collecting foreign Intelligence
! from sources In this country,reatly stepped-up effort to tap the knowledge ol Cuban refugees. Since the beginning of theefugees had been arriving weekly In Miami Attempts had been made to talk to as many of the more knowledgeable as possible, but nothing like the full
. intelligence potential of the Influx was being realized; there were not enough trained Interrogators, no proper physical facilities to handle such numbers of people, and Insufficiently comprehensive guidance from Intelligence consumers. The factarge percentage of the refugees spoke onlyand that the Cuban variety, added to the problem.
What clearly was neededarge, well-staffedcenter In Miamiontrolling office into be the channel for the community's coordinated needs. In March, therefore, with the almost unlimited support of the military services and the Immigration and Naturalization Service, there was established at the former Marine Air Base ataribbean Admission Centerervice of common concern under CIA direction but staffed mainly by Department of Defenseeletype link for secure priority communications with Washington was Installed in July.
Processing at the Center
From the establishment of the Center In March to theof regular airline flights in October0 people came in from Cuba bymaller number arrived Irregularly by boats, rafts, and other means.of the physical impossibility of interviewing all of them
as they arrived, the Center limited Its interrogations to males between the ages of lfl andhose preliminary interviewsitNS at the airporteed for further questioning Each of these was first required to niltandardimmigration) form, listing biographic data such as past addresses, employment history, service In military orgroups, and membership In revolutionary organizations There were also. qucstlom jftmrncdlaU: mtemgence orInterest sucrTas knowledge cTBmoWet Bloc personnel and activities In Cuba and names of members of the Cuban Internal security forces. The form concluded with questions on relatives already living in the United States.
Then each man was putreliminary screening to determine his intelligenceknowledge ofconstruction and activities, bis familiarity with denied areas, any unusual observations he had made, his knowledge of Soviet personnel or of conflicts between Soviets and Cubans, and any Information of operational or counterintelligence significance. This was the full processing for about two-thirds of0 men screened during the period. The remainder were formally and Intensively interrogated at the Center against current Intelligence requirements. MorenformaUon report* were producedocuments and other printed matter collected.
An effort was made to complete both the screening and the InterrogaUon In one day In order toontinuously flowing operation without backlog. It was desirable also for the sake of the intelligence yield to interrogate the refugees before they had become "contaminated" by advice from others as to what they should say. stress, or suppress. Some ot them, however, had to be held longer, notably thosereat deal of InformaUon and those whose backgroundall for special requirements from Washington-Sfacilities were provided at Opa-locka to keep these unui they had been thoroughly debriefed.
These refugees were of much lower occupaUonal. social, and educational levels than those who had left Cuba earlier.the Castro government was attempting to retain us most valuable professional people It rarely issuedpermits.esult, most source descriptions on reports from
the Center were depresslngly similar: "Cuban national, ao many years of age, six years (or seven or nine or four) otbus driver (or waiter or maintenance man oretc At first the substance of the reports wasdepressing too. But alter the first months, during which the interrogators acquired factual background andand the Interrogationmoothly organized process, the reports improved substantially Ln quality, detail, scope, and over-allome of the refugees who had lived or traveled ln out-oi-thc-way places furnished reports of unusual activity which turned out to be the only information available on these areas.
Toentral channel for community guidance to thepecial CAC Staff was established by CIA InOne responsibility of this staff was to solicitfrom members of the community, coordinate them, and transmit them to the Center. Requirements were received not only from USIB agencies but from other government
were quite general questions about economic, military, social, and political aspects of Cuban life. But special requirements tailored to the background of particular refugees were often served on other sources having the same general background with excellent results. Be Interrogation requests camefrom the military services and the Department of Commerce.
Each of the Center's interrogators was required to beat least broadly, with all currentomprehensive selection of both open and classified material was compiled as general backing for tbe requirements. Tbe presence of Interrogators from the military services insured that sources with detailed military knowledge could be given Interviewers familiar with terminology, background, andIn that field Three senior Intelligence officers were made responsible for the handling of requirements an wclc-econoralc, military, and political subjects respectively. These requirements officers could formulate specific, detailed questions for especially knowledgeable sources and personally
conduct the mterrogatlon of those with extraordinarvmwiu'
As requirements began to come flooding In therean. ger that the interrogators would become swamped with them and lose sight of old needs In the rush of newatch List was therefore published every Monday callingto selected requirements, not necessarily the most recent or the most important, in an effort to see that nowere ever simply forgotten. To keep tnTlnterrogators up to dAve, briefings in depth were occasionally held by State. Commerce, military, or CIA personnel, and some of these were recorded for the benefit of Interrogators unable to attend the are presentations,
A consolidation of the requirements of the entirewas prepared by CIA's Office of Research and Reports, and this Oulde was put to Immediate use at the Center and at CIA domestic field offices in areas where Cubans hadInevision of the Oulde (now called Collection and Reporting Handbook: Cuba) was disseminated to all domestic field offices because of the wide dispersion of the Cubans. The Handbook proved so successful, from both collector and analyst viewpoint, that another revision was being prepared at mid-year.
Another responsibility of the CAC Staff in Washington was to maintain complete records on all Cuban refugees arriving afterore0 documents concerning them are now on hand, Including the screening forms they filled out at the Center, their regulation Immigration Service cards, and miscellaneous Information they provided infor aid to the Cuban Refugee Center in Miami. Thesefiled both by name and by alien registration number, have been valuable in answering questions from USIB and non-tJSIB agencies. They are also usedource ofInformaUon for the CIA domesUc field offices which undertake follow-up interviews.
The domestic field offices had responded early to therequirement for InformaUon on Cuba.2 theyeports on Cuban
matters. In addition to interviewing TJ.S. citizens who had knowledge ol Cuban life and the Cuban economy, they were
to track down and reinterrogate Cubans who hadome Information in Miami and then bad moved toarts of theollection officer would spendours finding, calming down, and questioning an elusiveto determine whether he reallyocket forty-five feet
I long In the mountains. More hours have been spent talking
the Americans who have been writing, calling, andthe Director that they have vital information on Cuba, Information which may turn out to be Indeed lmpor-
: tant orrenzied warning that Armageddon in theof Fidel Castro is Just around the corner.
Alter the President's speech of2 making the crisis public, the CAC Staff was requested toeview of the reports on missiles, military Installations,hat had been furnished by the Center and the ordinary domestic field offices. Thepage report showed that as early as June and July refugees were reporting suspicious Sovietand rumors that offensive military weapons,long-range missiles, were to be introduced into Cuba Reports concerning denied areas and unusual construction made It possible to pinpoint probable main areas of SovietIt has since been stated publicly that refugeeusually gave the first Indication of abnormal activity and were often used in plotting the flights of surveillanceIt can be said here that this reporting played arole in alerting. government first to theand later to the existence of offensive Soviet weapons in Cuba. Two such reports were among the factors that led to the critical, timely resumption of surveillance flights.
After the flow of refugees was stopped In October, theAdmission Center's operations were skeletonized and moved to Miami, from where it continues to supplement the reporting from the regular Miami collection office and other CIA field offices around the country. If regular refugee flights should resume, Opa-locka could be reopened andon the old scale to provide significant amounts of timely Intelligence from these fresh sources.Original document.