Britain made secret deal for attack on Cuba - UK - News - The Independent

Britain made secret deal for attack on Cuba

A SECRET agreement allowing United States bombers to launch air-strikes against Cuba from a British base in the Bahamas during the 1962 missile crisis has been disclosed by the Campaign for Freedom of Information.

The deal - so secret that the British wanted 'nothing to be put in writing' - suggests a degree of duplicity by Harold Macmillan, the Prime Minister at the time, who said in his 1973 memoirs that he had repeatedly urged President Kennedy to resist the military option during the crisis.

With the Public Record Office at Kew, west London, preparing for the annual release of 30-year British government papers on 1 January, details of the Anglo-American agreement highlight Whitehall's secrecy.

Maurice Frankel, the campaign's director, said last night that the United States had released about 15,000 pages of declassified records on the Cuban missile crisis since 1976.

'The US Freedom of Information Act is still a major source of information about British history - even about our safety,' he said. 'We still have to rely on the openness of other governments to reveal what our own government keeps secret.'

The papers show that weeks after the bungled landing by Cuban exiles at the Bay of Pigs in April 1961 - and more than a year before Soviet missiles were detected in Cuba - the US State Department asked David Bruce, ambassador to London, to seek British permission to use a base on Mayaguana Island, in the British Bahamas, to mount air-strikes against Cuba. In a cable dated 13 May 1961, Mr Bruce was told to find out whether Whitehall would seek a 'quid pro quo, and if so, what?'

The State Department told him: 'It is our intent to use Mayaguana airfield only if no other means are available to support required number of tactical aircraft involved. We foresee there may not be sufficient aircraft carriers in (the) area to fulfil this mission. Facilities in US too distant. We recognise use of the Mayaguana airfield would require consent of HMG and that seeking (to) obtain this consent could pose political considerations (of a) most serious nature. However, unless in your view these political considerations militate against approaching HMG at this time, it is requested that appropriate steps be taken to obtain its consent . . . In this regard, you may assure (the) British no action would be taken, in terms of pre-stocking supplies or other activities which would in any way suggest contemplated tactical use of facility, until its use becomes necessary.'

British agreement to the plan was revealed in a US Marine Corps memorandum of October 1962, when the United States discovered Soviet nuclear missiles on Cuba. It said: 'The British government has agreed the US may proceed with the prepositioning of supplies and equipment at Mayaguana, Bahama Islands. Conditions of the Agreement include the following: (1) Nothing is to be put in writing; (2) Facilities are not to be put to active use without prior agreement of British government.'

In the event, following a US naval blockade of Cuba, and the real fear of nuclear war, the Soviet Union backed down and withdrew the missiles. Mark Fisher, the Labour MP whose Right to Know Bill is due for its Second Reading in the Commons on 19 February, said yesterday: 'It's time we had the right to know what our government is doing in our name. Ministers should not be free to publicise the information which helps them, and suppress the rest.'

But under the terms of Mr Fisher's Private Member's Bill, information could be withheld if disclosure would cause significant damage to defence, security, foreign relations, law enforcement, privacy, and other interests - which would ensure secrecy for secret international defence agreements.

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
property
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
The programme sees four specialists creating what they believe are three perfect couples, based on scientific matchmaking. The couples will not meet until they walk down the aisle together
tvUK wedding show jilted
Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
You've been framed: Henri Matisse's colourful cut-outs at Tate Modern
artWhat makes a smash-hit art show
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Sport
Mikel Arteta pictured during Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal
champions league
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke and Pharell Williams in the video of the song, which has been accused of justifying rape
music...and he had 'almost no part' in writing it
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior QA Engineer - Agile, SCRUM

£35000 - £50000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior QA Engineer (Agil...

Marketing Executive - West Midlands - £28,000

£26000 - £28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Digital Marketing Executive (SEO, PP...

Retail Business Analyst

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our retail client ...

Senior C++ Developer

£400 - £450 Per Annum possibly more for the right candidate: Clearwater People...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week