More than three days before the invasion of Grenada last Tuesday, news of U.S. planning for the operation had achieved wide currency in Caribbean capitals, giving Grenada's military leaders and a Cuban garrison crucial advance notice to resupply their troops and fortify defenses, a detailed reconstruction of events suggests.
This reconstruction is based on interviews by Washington Post reporters here and in the region, official statements and news media reports over the last 10 days.
The primary reason for the lack of secrecy, according to published reports and broadcasts emanating from the region, was a heated and ongoing debate among Caribbean leaders whether to go along with eastern Caribbean governments seeking U.S. assistance in a multinational force to take over the island.
Though support for a takeover coalesced last weekend among six of the 13 islands that make up the English-speaking Caribbean community, opponents, citing questions of legality and justification, were leaking details of the proposed invasion from private council chambers to the news media and to supporters of Grenada's leftist government.
Even proponents were talking. For instance, on Friday, Oct. 21, the staunchest supporter of U.S. intervention, Dominica's Prime Minister Eugenia Charles, told reporters that the range of options under consideration for Grenada included military intervention. Armed with that information and the well-publicized knowledge that a U.S. naval flotilla with 1,800 Marines on board was steaming toward Grenada, the island's state-run radio began calling up militia units the next day.
Looking back on the Oct. 22 debate among Caribbean leaders over whether to support U.S. intervention, Barbadan Prime Minister Tom Adams said last week, "It was faithfully reported in the press . . . that the eastern Caribbean countries were seeking support for a military intervention in Grenada, an act of at least indiscretion which led directly to the improvement of the defenses on the island."
The breach of secrecy may have helped turn what the Pentagon had forecast as an eight-day surgical operation, as suggested by one of its code names "Urgent Fury," into a prolonged mop-up engagement. The Pentagon now says there are 6,000 Marines and Army forces on the island, fighting scattered resistance.
On the evening of Oct. 23, state-owned Radio Free Grenada issued an "important announcement," accurately detailing which Caribbean countries had voted to support an invasion and the composition of the invasion force. The next day, a Cuban cargo plane carrying military officers and supplies was flown into Grenada to marshal a resistance.
As the invasion plan gained momentum, it appears to have overwhelmed the diplomatic initiatives aimed at returning Grenada to normal relations with its neighbors and restored civilian rule on the island. Instead, the expectation by the Grenadan military of imminent invasion appears to have led U.S. officials to assume that the island's defenders might take hostages, the record suggests.
One little-known diplomatic initiative was drafted during the weekend by two former Carter administration officials and cabled to Grenada six hours before the invasion for delivery to Gen. Hudson Austin, leader of Grenada's military council. It was cut short by the invasion.
Initiatives by Grenada's military leaders to assure its neighbors and the United States that bloodletting on the island was over, that civilian government would be reconstituted within two weeks, that no threat to U.S. citizens existed also failed. They were "not worth 2 cents because we didn't trust them," said White House spokesman Larry Speakes.
Caribbean leaders friendly to the United States said last week in interviews that American diplomats joined in, and in one instance reportedly encouraged, discussions weeks ago by Jamaican and Barbadan officials in support of military intervention in Grenada.
The chronology of events culminating in last week's invasion began with the final days of Maurice Bishop, 39. He had seized power in Grenada in March, 1979, and steered his country into a close relationship with Cuba. His strident rhetoric against the United States and his courtship of Cuba and the Soviet Union had alarmed U.S. policy-makers, and U.S. officials reportedly were furious when Grenada joined a handful of Soviet allies that opposed U.N. condemnation of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December, 1979.
In 1980, Grenada began building a new international airport with help from several western governments, as well as from the Soviet bloc and Arab states. At Grenada's request, Cuba provided architects, engineers and laborers to build the airport, whose 9,000-foot runway made U.S. officials suspicious.
They feared that Bishop would offer the airport and its runway as a refueling base for Cuba's modern air force, long-range Soviet bombers and cargo transports bound for Nicaragua.
However, Bishop's government maintained normal relations with neighboring islands, and in 1981 Grenada joined a newly formed Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), whose treaty provided for a defense and security committee to "coordinate the efforts of member states for collective defense and the preservation of peace and security against external aggression . . . ."
Even while strengthening ties with Cuba, Bishop sought to improve relations with the United States. But it was not until early this year, as he dampened his public rhetoric against the United States, that the Reagan administration responded. He met with senior administration officials here in June and told journalists that although he would continue to chart a Marxist course for the island and pursue Cuban friendship, he wished to improve U.S.-Grenadan relations.
But in later months, according to a senior Jamaican leader interviewed by Washington Post reporter Juan Williams, an unidentified U.S. official encouraged Jamaica and other Caribbean countries to "isolate" Grenada as a "communist outpost" and to consider taking military action against the Bishop regime.
The State Department said it is looking into this report.
Early this month, in what appeared to be a non-ideological, internal dispute, some of Bishop's closest aides began plotting his overthrow. On Oct. 13, two of Bishop's cabinet ministers, with help from the military, put Bishop under house arrest.
Almost instantly there was talk in the islands about intervention. It is still not clear who first broached the idea.
On Barbados, Prime Minister Adams said last week that he first heard of Grenada's bloodless coup on Friday, Oct. 14.
By the next day, a State Department spokesman said, U.S. officials had received their first "urgent approach" from some Caribbean leaders expressing concern about the breakdown of order on Grenada. Participants in the Grenada coup were struggling for dominance.
On Oct. 15, Adams said an official in the Barbados defense ministry was approached by an unidentified American official who raised the possibility of U.S. assistance to mount an operation in Grenada to "rescue" Bishop.
Adams said he discussed this proposal with St. Vincent's prime minister, Milton Cato, who raised strong questions, according to Adams, about the propriety of rescuing Bishop while ignoring "many other political prisoners in Grenada, put there by Bishop's government."
Adams said he discussed the rescue plan with several other eastern Caribbean leaders and with "two friendly non-Caribbean countries." As a result, "talks about a possible rescue were commenced and continued," he said.
Reagan administration officials suggested last week that after Bishop's overthrow, coup leaders might have steered Grenada even closer to Cuba, but intelligence reports reaching Congress provided little support for that scenario.
CIA officials had little hard information about the power struggle, according to congressional sources. But U.S. analysts were receiving assessments of the personalities involved from at least one individual on Grenada, whose reliability had not been tested, one Senate source said.
The source on Grenada, who may not have known that his information was reaching U.S. intelligence officials, was the British governor general, Paul Scoon, according to a Senate source. Scoon's position under the commonwealth system is a ceremonial vestige of pre-independence rule.
"The governor general was feeding information to us through the U.K. United Kingdom on the nature of the guys who were taking over," the source said. "Basically, his assessments were driving some of our considerations."
Scoon now has been tapped by the multinational forces on the island to begin forming a new government leading to a parliamentary democracy. It was also Scoon who reportedly sent a secret message to Dominica's prime minister, Charles, inviting Caribbean nations to intervene on Grenada and restore order after Bishop's death, according to statements by Charles last week. But news of that message did not show up in U.S. intelligence reports, the Senate source said, though Charles had been consulting closely with U.S. officials before the invasion.
On Wednesday, Oct. 19, Adams said he called an emergency meeting of the Barbadan cabinet and "it was agreed to proceed with a rescue plan of Bishop in collaboration with eastern Caribbean countries and with resources necessary to carry out such an intricate operation," he said.
Adams did not say where the resources would come from, or how the military action could be limited to Bishop's release. But before the plan could be implemented, word reached Barbados that Bishop had been executed the day the decision was made.
Outside the Grenadan capital, a crowd of Bishop supporters had pushed past Grenadan army guards and freed Bishop from house detention. The events that followed are not clear, but Bishop was later reported killed along with many of his supporters.
Caribbean leaders were horrified. The death toll from the violence climbed to 17 people. Prime Minister Edward Seaga of Jamaica called an emergency session of his cabinet and condemned the bloodshed.
Gen. Austin, former commander of Grenada's prison, declared himself the leader of a 16-member Revolutionary Military Council. The renegade cabinet ministers who had plotted Bishop's removal with Austin's military cadre went into hiding.
On Thursday, Oct. 20, Radio Free Grenada announced that Austin had ordered a round-the-clock curfew in effect until the following Monday. Violators were warned that they would be "shot on sight." U.S. officials were monitoring the safety of the 1,100 Americans on the island, about 650 of whom were students at the St. George's University School of Medicine. School officials reported that the students were safe.
On Barbados, Adams received a telephone call from the prime minister of St. Lucia, John Compton, "who expressed himself in the strongest possible terms that the situation in Grenada could not remain as it was, and he proposed that there be a Caribbean initiative to intervene in Grenada on a multinational basis to restore law and order and to lead the country to an early election," according to Adams.
Compton urged that "the entire Caribbean be invited to join in the intervention and then to seek assistance in effecting our purpose," said Adams, who agreed. At the request of the eastern Caribbean countries, an emergency summit of the 13-nation Caribbean Common Market (CARICOM) was called for Saturday, Oct. 22.
In Washington, Secretary of State George P. Shultz had spent most of Thursday afternoon in a closed-door session of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on another subject. In late afternoon, he was summoned to the White House along with his assistant secretary for inter-American affairs, Langhorne A. Motley, to attend a meeting chaired by Vice President Bush. The president's national security advisers were "about halfway through" a review of the "grave turn of events" in Grenada, Shultz said, when he arrived.
The advisers recommended that Reagan divert a naval task force carrying Marines bound for Lebanon to waters off Grenada as an "essentially precautionary" move to protect Americans on the island, Shultz said.
The pace of the invasion planning quickened the next day, Friday, Oct. 21.
Ministers from the OECS islands came to Barbados to meet with Adams and Jamaica's Seaga. Barbados and Jamaica are not members of OECS, but asked to join the planning group. The group decided, Adams said, to present a proposal for military intervention to CARICOM the next day.
Adams talked to the ambassador from Trinidad, whose prime minister is CARICOM chairman, and "explained . . . in confidence for transmission to his prime minister that I would be unable to attend the . . . CARICOM meeting the next day in Trinidad" because Adams wanted to remain in Barbados and refine plans for "a military intervention in Grenada . . . being contemplated by the OECS with Barbados and other countries." Adams said he also explained that the "participation of all CARICOM countries would be invited" to participate by OECS leaders who would attend the CARICOM meeting.
Seaga, in an interview with The Post's Juan Williams last week, said that a U.S. diplomat with ambassadorial rank attended some of the Friday meetings on Barbados to discuss possible responses to the Grenadan situation. The State Department later identified the official as Charles A. Gillespie, deputy assistant secretary of state for inter-American affairs.
Seaga said American officials in meetings voiced "concern over the turn of events in Grenada and the expanding Cuban and Soviet influence on the island."
On Grenada, meanwhile, Gen. Austin responded to U.S. alarm over the safety of Americans by visiting Dr. Geoffrey Bourne, vice chancellor of the medical school. After an hour-long meeting, Bourne reported back to his son in Washington that Austin had guaranteed the students' safety and stressed the historical friendship between the school and Grenada. Bourne reported that Austin had given him his home telephone number for use in case of trouble.
In addition, Austin solicited Bourne's help in developing a strategy to reestablish Grenada's credibility in the region and to move the island toward parliamentary democracy, Bourne reported. He relayed this message to his son, Dr. Peter G. Bourne, who had served as President Carter's health adviser.
In an interview, the younger Bourne said he and Robert O. Pastor, also in the Carter White House as the senior Latin American policy planner on the National Security Council staff, began working on a long strategy memo to be relayed to Austin.
In Barbados, Prime Minister Adams met with the British ambassador at 12:30 p.m. to inform him of the intervention plan and ask for British participation. Adams then met with U.S. Ambassador Milan Bish to discuss the proposal and told him that Great Britain had been asked to help.
Bish "undertook to convey the facts to President Reagan," Adams said, and the U.S. envoy was then to await "a formal request" from the eastern Caribbean countries for U.S. assistance.
According to White House spokesman Speakes, sometime on Friday the United States received an "informal request" from the group for American participation in an intervention.
Also during the day, according to Peter Bourne, Bish telephoned New York-based officials of St. George's medical school from Barbados, seeking a statement of concern for the students' safety. Bourne said one of the school administrators in New York reported that Bish requested a school official to come to Barbados and "make a statement in front of the television cameras" requesting "U.S. intervention to protect the medical students."
School officials could not be reached for comment, but Peter Bourne said they declined the request.
Bish, through a State Department spokesman, denied that he made such a request. Bish said that he had conversations with school officials in New York, but did not characterize the conversations beyond saying that they related to concern about the safety of the students.
By mid-afternoon, Radio Free Grenada responded to U.S. claims that the students were in danger: "The Revolutionary Military Council wishes to make it very clear that all U.S. citizens in Grenada are absolutely safe."
Also during the day, Cato, prime minister of Grenada's closest neighbor, St. Vincent, sent a cable to Austin proposing that the two leaders meet and negotiate a way out of the "tragic events " on Grenada.
While Cato was making the overture, Barbados' prime minister was informing yet another ambassador, this one from Canada, that "my view of the Grenadan situation was that the only solution was a military intervention," Adams said.
By the end of the afternoon Friday, Reagan, Shultz and Treasury Secretary Donald T. Regan were aboard Air Force One bound for a golf weekend at the Augusta national golf course in Georgia. Private discussions about the situation in Grenada continued, according to Shultz.
In the Caribbean, OECS leaders assembled at the convention center in Bridgetown, Barbados. Ministers from Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and Montserrat asked Barbados' Adams to join them. The defense ministers from the islands met first, then the heads of state met, according to the prime minister.
Adams said "it was unanimously agreed to invoke" the mutual defense provision of the 1981 OECS treaty "and to seek the assistance of friendly countries to stabilize the situation and to establish a peace-keeping force."
He did not explain how the invocation of the treaty, which speaks only to collective response to an attack by one country on another, bore on the Grenada situation. Adams said "troop numbers were settled" and the "necessary planning" began. Adams was picked by the group to formally "notify Britain and the United States . . . to make known our wish for their participation in the multinational force."
News reports of the meeting carried only statements by OECS officials that they had decided to expel Grenada from the organization and cut off all air and sea links to the island. But Dominica's prime minister, Charles, told reporters in Bridgetown that a military solution had been discussed.
The decision to cut transportation links also carried implications for the evacuation of U.S. citizens.
After the meeting broke up Friday night, Adams said he met with Seaga and Charles and "jointly we formally invited participation of the United States through its ambassador," Bish.
The formal request reached Shultz in Augusta when he was awakened at 2:45 a.m. on Saturday. Shultz said he studied a diplomatic cable summarizing the position of the Barbados group and discussed it with Robert C. McFarlane, the president's newly appointed national security adviser. He said it "stated their very strong feeling that they must do something about . . . Grenada and their feeling that they were not able to do it on their own, so they asked if we would help them."
Shultz said that within an hour, Bush convened a meeting of key national security advisers in Washington, including Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger, and "we joined with him through a secure conference call to again evaluate the situation."
At 5:15 a.m., Reagan was awakened and joined the discussion in the living room of his cabin at Augusta. Just before 6 a.m., the secure phone line to the White House was reopened.
"We went through this material with him Reagan , and went over the views of various people," Shultz said. "The president talked to the vice president, talked to the secretary of defense . . . and gave his own reactions."
White House officials later said Reagan was willing to consider an invasion, and U.S. military officials stepped up their planning.
A third meeting of the president's national security advisers was convened at 9 a.m. in Washington with Bush presiding. Reagan and Shultz, who were by then on the golf course, conferred with the group by a mobile telephone. McFarlane came onto the course at 11:45 a.m. to update the presidential party on developments in Grenada.
In the Caribbean, two U.S. embassy counselors in Barbados, Ken Kurze and Linda Flohr, flew to Grenada and met with U.S. citizens there. Grenadan military leaders assured the diplomats of the Americans' safety and said the airport would be reopened for departures Monday morning. The two embassy officials reported that some of the medical students appeared frightened and uncertain.
In Barbados, Adams was meeting with another CARICOM prime minister, from Belize, "who indicated that he did not wish to participate" in military action against Grenada," said Adams, who thereafter met with the British ambassador to make "a formal verbal request" for British assistance.
In his contacts with U.S. officials, Adams said he was informed "all through Saturday" that Reagan had made no decision to support the intervention with U.S. forces, but that these officials also communicated to Adams that coordinated planning should "go forward."
As a result, Adams said, "staff planning . . . talks between a general officer of the Marine Corps, a senior officer of the Jamaican defense force and officers of the regional security force were initiated." The U.S. military official who participated in the talks has not been identified.
Meanwhile, most of the OECS officials who had met on Barbados the night before flew to Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, for the larger CARICOM meeting. One head of state told Post correspondent Edward Cody before the Saturday meeting that the OECS countries, along with Jamaica and Barbados, would ask CARICOM to endorse intervention in Grenada by U.S. or British troops, in a combined force with Caribbean soldiers.
As news reports spread about the advance of the U.S. flotilla into the Caribbean, carrying its amphibious assault force of 1,800 Marines, Radio Free Grenada sounded the alarm. At 2:30 p.m. Saturday afternoon, the radio called up militia units to report to defensive positions on the island "in view of the threat facing Grenada."
At the same time, Grenadan military commander Austin responded to the cable sent to him the day before by Cato of St. Vincent. That island's state-owned radio station quoted St. Vincent's foreign minister as saying Austin had agreed to meet with Cato. Further, Austin had expressed his desire to "return to constitutional government in Grenada and that peace would reign in" Grenada.
In the 24 hours since Cato had invited Austin to meet, however, Cato had attended the Friday night meeting of OECS leaders and agreed to go along with the invasion proposal. When reporters asked Cato Saturday for details on expected negotiations, Cato was quoted as replying, "I have no appointment with Gen. Austin."
Leaders from 12 of the 13 CARICOM nations (Grenada was not represented) assembled in Port-of-Spain Saturday night, and a marathon debate began over the spectrum of sanctions that had been discussed in preceeding days. A detailed account of the closed-door meeting, which lasted from 8:30 p.m. to 3 a.m. Sunday, is not available, but a flurry of news dispatches provided confirmation of the invasion proposed by the OECS.
Back in Augusta, Reagan was awakened at 2:27 a.m. Sunday by McFarlane, who reported that a terrorist bomb had leveled the headquarters of the Marine peace-keeping force in Beirut. For the next 12 hours, Reagan's focus on the Grenadan invasion planning was overtaken by reports of mounting Marine casualties.
Reagan talked to Marine Commandant Paul X. Kelley at 3 a.m. and then spent two more hours in conference with Shultz and McFarlane.
With virtually no time for sleep, the president and his aides left the Augusta compound by motorcade at 6:30 a.m. and Reagan was at the White House two hours later.
From 8:40 a.m. to 10:40 a.m., the president reviewed the unrelenting bulletins from Beirut. All of his senior advisers were with him: the vice president, Shultz, Weinberger, McFarlane, chief of staff James A. Baker III, counselor Edwin Meese III, presidential assistant Michael K. Deaver and Gen. John W. Vessey Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Weinberger was dispatched to appear on Sunday morning interview programs.
Sometime early Sunday, according to Shultz, Reagan sent two emissaries, Maj. Gen. George B. Crist and Ambassador Francis McNeil, to the Caribbean to "explore carefully with the leaders of the OECS and Jamaica and Barbados their information, their analysis and their intentions."
Because the Beirut massacre occurred in the early morning, most Sunday newspapers were not able to report it. The Sunday Sun newspaper in Barbados devoted its lead editorial to Grenada concluding that the only logical solution to Grenada's political crisis "will be the use of force . . . if we can obtain assistance from our international friends."
By late morning, news services began reporting fresh details from the CARICOM meeting. During the final session on Sunday morning, a regional news service quoted sources as saying that "while all of the options for sanctions were considered, it seemed difficult, or better, unlikely, that the military solution would find support among the states."
Later in the day, Trinidad Prime Minister George Chambers, chairman of the CARICOM meeting, confirmed to reporters that the "appointment of a regional peace-keeping force had been discussed," but he added that the final decision taken by the group, to expel Grenada from CARICOM, was an option that would not interfere in Grenada's internal affairs.
Chambers also disclosed that it was likely that the countries in favor of a military solution, the smaller OECS group, "would continue talks on this and other matters," the Caribbean news service said.
On Grenada, meanwhile, U.S. Embassy counselor Kurze had lunch with one of Grenada's new military leaders, Maj. Leon Cornwall, who reiterated the army's guarantee for the safety of U.S. citizens on the island.
Kurze told reporters later that, based on his meeting with Cornwall, "we have not recommended to U.S. citizens that they leave or that they leave at any particular time."
The meeting with Cornwall was also attended by two British diplomats, one of whom later described the situation on the island as "calm, tense and pretty volatile." Cornwall also assured the diplomats that "those U.S. . . . citizens who want to leave Grenada for whatever reason would be able to do so tomorrow Monday , following normal procedures."
Cornwall, once Grenada's ambassador to Cuba, was a relatively new face to U.S. officials assessing the situation on Grenada.
CIA officials reported to Congress last week that as Cornwall began to take a larger role in the military council during the weekend before the invasion, U.S. intelligence received "soft" indications that he was planning to stage a counter coup against Austin.
A report on Barbadan national radio, monitored Sunday by Agence France-Presse, said the Grenadan army was divided and some members were blaming Austin for events surrounding Bishop's death and the subsequent storm of protest. The report quoted "observers" as saying they believed that it was possible that another coup was being planned by Austin's rivals on the military council.
Reports of the CARICOM invasion debate raced through the region Sunday, as the final meetings broke up.
Post correspondent Alma Guillermoprieto reported later from Havana that a Caribbean diplomat who closely monitored the CARICOM meeting said that its consensus decision was that the Grenadan situation was strictly a regional matter and that any steps taken should not violate international law or the U.N. charter.
In addition, the nations adopted a principal goal to "prevent all external intervention" particularly from outside the region. This clause, the diplomat said, was aimed at the United States. The diplomat identified the countries opposing intervention as Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Belize and the Bahamas.
Having failed to win the support of the larger CARICOM group for an invasion, the smaller OECS group with Jamaica and Barbados apparently reiterated their request to go ahead on their own with the United States.
Guyana President Forbes Burnham told reporters that he had been very unhappy about the meeting. "Before we get too far in condemnatory statements, we whould have a fact-finding mission . . . from CARICOM to . . . visit Grenada to ascertain the facts . . . and, secondly, we were and still are completely averse to any military intervention."
Burnham said he would only support intervention if "it was done on the basis of full compliance with the United Nations Charter and international law," adding, "there could not be unilateral intervention without the agreement of the government authority."
At 6:10 p.m. Sunday, Radio Free Grenada, in an "important announcement," said "member countries of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean countries, along with Barbados and Jamaica, this afternoon took a decision to send military forces to invade our country. The decision was opposed by Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, the Bahamas and Belize."
In Washington, Reagan completed another long meeting of his national security advisers around 7 p.m. During the meeting, he made what Shultz described as "a tentative decision" to invade based on the analysis shared by the United States and the smaller OECS group that a "very uncertain and violent situation" existed on Grenada that was "threatening to our citizens."
Sunday night, Dr. Geoffrey Bourne met with his students at the medical school on Grenada and found that about 10 percent of them wished to leave. Meanwhile, parents of the students met in New York, and sent a telegram to Reagan, urging him not to take any provocative action toward Grenada.
Austin also solicited U.S. restraint. In a note that arrived at the U.S. Embassy in Barbados at 2 a.m. Monday, Austin restated his guarantee for the safety of U.S. citizens and promised to return the country to a "fully constituted civilian government" in two weeks.
However, invasion planning meetings continued throughout the day Monday in Washington. U.S. officials said they got reports that officials at Pearl's Airport in Grenada, contrary to promises, were not allowing charter flights in or out. But there were other reports of a number of charter planes leaving with no trouble. In addition, because OECS had voted to cancel air and sea links to Grenada, Barbados grounded Canadian and British flights chartered to fly to Grenada to evacuate their citizens.
Reagan met with his advisers and the military chiefs, and at 6 p.m. Monday, signed the formal order to invade. Adams received news of the order from Ambassador Bish two hours later.
At 11 p.m., six hours before the first American troops landed, former Carter aides Peter Bourne and Robert Pastor cabled the summary of their reconciliation strategy to Bourne's father in Grenada for delivery to Austin.
They recommended that Austin treat his regime as a transition to parliamentary democracy. They said he should make a statement aimed at regaining the trust of the CARICOM countries. Austin should say he was deeply hurt by what happened and explain the bloodshed as a necessary act to prevent Bishop from consolidating his control as a dictator, the former Carter aides suggested. He should say he was determined to break with the past. They recommended that he say nothing about the Cubans, but let things work themselves out with goals of democracy, early elections and a free press. The full text of the memo was to be telexed the next day.
At midnight in Barbados, the U.S. Embassy replied to the cable of reassurances that Austin had sent the night before. The United States sent a commercial telex addressed to Austin, asserting there was no legitimate government on Grenada and that U.S. citzens were in danger.
Five hours later, just before dawn Tuesday, the assault on the island began.