Abolish The CIA!

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OPERATION GLADIO: NATO’S SECRET ARMIES
NATO’S SECRET ARMY: INTERVIEW WITH DANIEL GANSER
NATO’S SECRET ARMIES – OPERATION GLADIO BY DANIEL GANSER
Appendix III: U.S. Government Assassination Plots
School of the Americas

By Chalmers Johnson

Steve Coll ends his important book on Afghanistan by quoting Afghan President Hamid Karzai: “What an unlucky country.” Americans might find this a convenient way to ignore what their government did in Afghanistan between 1979 and the present, but luck had nothing to do with it. Brutal, incompetent, secret operations of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, frequently manipulated by the military intelligence agencies of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, caused the catastrophic devastation of this poor country. On the evidence contained in Coll’s book Ghost Wars, neither the Americans nor their victims in numerous Muslim and Third World countries will ever know peace until the Central Intelligence Agency has been abolished.

It should by now be generally accepted that the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan on Christmas Eve 1979 was deliberately provoked by the United States. In his memoir published in 1996, the former CIA director Robert Gates made it clear that the American intelligence services began to aid the mujahidin guerrillas not after the Soviet invasion, but six months before it. In an interview two years later with Le Nouvel Observateur, President Carter’s national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski proudly confirmed Gates’ assertion. “According to the official version of history,” Brzezinski said, “CIA aid to the mujahidin began during 1980, that’s to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan. But the reality, kept secret until now, is completely different: on 3 July 1979 President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And on the same day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained that in my opinion this aid would lead to a Soviet military intervention.”

Asked whether he in any way regretted these actions, Brzezinski replied: “Regret what? The secret operation was an excellent idea. It drew the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? On the day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter, saying, in essence: ‘We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam War.’”

Nouvel Observateur: “And neither do you regret having supported Islamic fundamentalism, which has given arms and advice to future terrorists?”

Brzezinski: “What is more important in world history? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some agitated Muslims or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the Cold War?”

Even though the demise of the Soviet Union owes more to Mikhail Gorbachev than to Afghanistan’s partisans, Brzezinski certainly helped produce “agitated Muslims,” and the consequences have been obvious ever since. Carter, Brzezinski and their successors in the Reagan and first Bush administrations, including Gates, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Armitage, and Colin Powell, all bear some responsibility for the 1.8 million Afghan casualties, 2.6 million refugees, and 10 million unexploded land-mines that followed from their decisions. They must also share the blame for the blowback that struck New York and Washington on September 11, 2001. After all, al-Qaida was an organization they helped create and arm.

A Wind Blows in from Afghanistan

The term “blowback” first appeared in a classified CIA post-action report on the overthrow of the Iranian government in 1953, carried out in the interests of British Petroleum. In 2000, James Risen of the New York Times explained: “When the Central Intelligence Agency helped overthrow Muhammad Mossadegh as Iran’s prime minister in 1953, ensuring another 25 years of rule for Shah Muhammad Reza Pahlavi, the CIA was already figuring that its first effort to topple a foreign government would not be its last. The CIA, then just six years old and deeply committed to winning the Cold War, viewed its covert action in Iran as a blueprint for coup plots elsewhere around the world, and so commissioned a secret history to detail for future generations of CIA operatives how it had been done . . . Amid the sometimes curious argot of the spy world — ‘safebases’ and ‘assets’ and the like — the CIA warns of the possibilities of ‘blowback.’ The word . . . has since come into use as shorthand for the unintended consequences of covert operations.”

“Blowback” does not refer simply to reactions to historical events but more specifically to reactions to operations carried out by the U.S. government that are kept secret from the American public and from most of their representatives in Congress. This means that when civilians become victims of a retaliatory strike, they are at first unable to put it in context or to understand the sequence of events that led up to it. Even though the American people may not know what has been done in their name, those on the receiving end certainly do: they include the people of Iran (1953), Guatemala (1954), Cuba (1959 to the present), Congo (1960), Brazil (1964), Indonesia (1965), Vietnam (1961-73), Laos (1961-73), Cambodia (1969-73), Greece (1967-73), Chile (1973), Afghanistan (1979 to the present), El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua (1980s), and Iraq (1991 to the present). Not surprisingly, sometimes these victims try to get even.

There is a direct line between the attacks on September 11, 2001 — the most significant instance of blowback in the history of the CIA — and the events of 1979. In that year, revolutionaries threw both the Shah and the Americans out of Iran, and the CIA, with full presidential authority, began its largest ever clandestine operation: the secret arming of Afghan freedom fighters to wage a proxy war against the Soviet Union, which involved the recruitment and training of militants from all over the Islamic world. Steve Coll’s book is a classic study of blowback and is a better, fuller reconstruction of this history than the Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States (the “9/11 Commission Report” published by Norton in July).

From 1989 to 1992, Coll was the Washington Post‘s South Asia bureau chief, based in New Delhi. Given the CIA’s paranoid and often self-defeating secrecy, what makes his book especially interesting is how he came to know what he claims to know. He has read everything on the Afghan insurgency and the civil wars that followed, and has been given access to the original manuscript of Robert Gates’ memoir (Gates was CIA director from 1991 to 1993), but his main source is some two hundred interviews conducted between the autumn of 2001 and the summer of 2003 with numerous CIA officials as well as politicians, military officers, and spies from all the countries involved except Russia. He identifies CIA officials only if their names have already been made public. Many of his most important interviews were on the record and he quotes from them extensively.

Among the notable figures who agreed to be interviewed are Benazir Bhutto, who is candid about having lied to American officials for two years about Pakistan’s aid to the Taliban, and Anthony Lake, the US national security adviser from 1993 to 1997, who lets it be known that he thought CIA director James Woolsey was “arrogant, tin-eared and brittle.” Woolsey was so disliked by Clinton that when an apparent suicide pilot crashed a single-engine Cessna airplane on the south lawn of the White House in 1994, jokers suggested it might be the CIA director trying to get an appointment with the President.

Among the CIA people who talked to Coll are Gates; Woolsey; Howard Hart, Islamabad station chief in 1981; Clair George, former head of clandestine operations; William Piekney, Islamabad station chief from 1984 to 1986; Cofer Black, Khartoum station chief in the mid-1990s and director of the Counterterrorist Center from 1999-2002; Fred Hitz, a former CIA Inspector General; Thomas Twetten, Deputy Director of Operations, 1991-1993; Milton Bearden, chief of station at Islamabad, 1986 -1989; Duane R. “Dewey” Clarridge, head of the Counterterrorist Center from 1986 to 1988; Vincent Cannistraro, an officer in the Counterterrorist Center shortly after it was opened in 1986; and an official Coll identifies only as “Mike,” the head of the “bin Laden Unit” within the Counterterrorist Center from 1997 to 1999, who was subsequently revealed to be Michael F. Scheuer, the anonymous author of Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror.

In 1973, General Sardar Mohammed Daoud, the cousin and brother-in-law of King Zahir Shah, overthrew the king, declared Afghanistan a republic, and instituted a program of modernization. Zahir Shah went into exile in Rome. These developments made possible the rise of the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan, a pro-Soviet communist party, which, in early 1978, with extensive help from the USSR, overthrew President Daoud. The communists’ policies of secularization in turn provoked a violent response from devout Islamists. The anti-Communist revolt that began at Herat in western Afghanistan in March 1979 originated in a government initiative to teach girls to read. The fundamentalist Afghans opposed to this were supported by a triumvirate of nations — the U.S., Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia — with quite diverse motives, but the U.S. didn’t take these differences seriously until it was too late. By the time the Americans woke up, at the end of the 1990s, the radical Islamist Taliban had established its government in Kabul. Recognized only by Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, it granted Osama bin Laden freedom of action and offered him protection from American efforts to capture or kill him.

Coll concludes: “The Afghan government that the United States eventually chose to support beginning in the late autumn of 2001 — a federation of Massoud’s organization [the Northern warlords], exiled intellectuals and royalist Pashtuns — was available for sponsorship a decade before, but the United States could not see a reason then to challenge the alternative, radical Islamist vision promoted by Pakistani and Saudi intelligence . . . Indifference, lassitude, blindness, paralysis and commercial greed too often shaped American foreign policy in Afghanistan and South Asia during the 1990s.”

Funding the Fundamentalists

The motives of the White House and the CIA were shaped by the Cold War: a determination to kill as many Soviet soldiers as possible and the desire to restore some aura of rugged machismo as well as credibility that U.S. leaders feared they had lost when the Shah of Iran was overthrown. The CIA had no intricate strategy for the war it was unleashing in Afghanistan. Howard Hart, the agency’s representative in the Pakistani capital, told Coll that he understood his orders as: “You’re a young man; here’s your bag of money, go raise hell. Don’t fuck it up, just go out there and kill Soviets.” These orders came from a most peculiar American. William Casey, the CIA’s director from January 1981 to January 1987, was a Catholic Knight of Malta educated by Jesuits. Statues of the Virgin Mary filled his mansion, called “Maryknoll,” on Long Island. He attended mass daily and urged Christianity on anyone who asked his advice. Once settled as CIA director under Reagan, he began to funnel covert action funds through the Catholic Church to anti-Communists in Poland and Central America, sometimes in violation of American law. He believed fervently that by increasing the Catholic Church’s reach and power he could contain Communism’s advance, or reverse it. From Casey’s convictions grew the most important U.S. foreign policies of the 1980s — support for an international anti-Soviet crusade in Afghanistan and sponsorship of state terrorism in Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala.

Casey knew next to nothing about Islamic fundamentalism or the grievances of Middle Eastern nations against Western imperialism. He saw political Islam and the Catholic Church as natural allies in the counter-strategy of covert action to thwart Soviet imperialism. He believed that the USSR was trying to strike at the U.S. in Central America and in the oil-producing states of the Middle East. He supported Islam as a counter to the Soviet Union’s atheism, and Coll suggests that he sometimes conflated lay Catholic organizations such as Opus Dei with the Muslim Brotherhood, the Egyptian extremist organization, of which Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden’s chief lieutenant, was a passionate member. The Muslim Brotherhood’s branch in Pakistan, the Jamaat-e-Islami, was strongly backed by the Pakistani army, and Coll writes that Casey, more than any other American, was responsible for welding the alliance of the CIA, Saudi intelligence, and the army of General Mohammed Zia-ul-Haq, Pakistan’s military dictator from 1977 to 1988. On the suggestion of the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) organization, Casey went so far as to print thousands of copies of the Koran, which he shipped to the Afghan frontier for distribution in Afghanistan and Soviet Uzbekistan. He also fomented, without presidential authority, Muslim attacks inside the USSR and always held that the CIA’s clandestine officers were too timid. He preferred the type represented by his friend Oliver North.

Over time, Casey’s position hardened into CIA dogma, which its agents, protected by secrecy from ever having their ignorance exposed, enforced in every way they could. The agency resolutely refused to help choose winners and losers among the Afghan jihad’s guerrilla leaders. The result, according to Coll, was that “Zia-ul-Haq’s political and religious agenda in Afghanistan gradually became the CIA’s own.” In the era after Casey, some scholars, journalists, and members of Congress questioned the agency’s lavish support of the Pakistan-backed Islamist general Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, especially after he refused to shake hands with Ronald Reagan because he was an infidel. But Milton Bearden, the Islamabad station chief from 1986 to 1989, and Frank Anderson, chief of the Afghan task force at Langley, vehemently defended Hekmatyar on the grounds that “he fielded the most effective anti-Soviet fighters.”

Even after the Soviet Union withdrew from Afghanistan in 1988, the CIA continued to follow Pakistani initiatives, such as aiding Hekmatyar’s successor, Mullah Omar, leader of the Taliban. When Edmund McWilliams, the State Department’s special envoy to the Afghan resistance in 1988-89, wrote that “American authority and billions of dollars in taxpayer funding had been hijacked at the war’s end by a ruthless anti-American cabal of Islamists and Pakistani intelligence officers determined to impose their will on Afghanistan,” CIA officials denounced him and planted stories in the embassy that he might be homosexual or an alcoholic. Meanwhile, Afghanistan descended into one of the most horrific civil wars of the 20th century. The CIA never fully corrected its naive and ill-informed reading of Afghan politics until after bin Laden bombed the US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam on August 7, 1998.

Fair-weather Friends

A co-operative agreement between the U.S. and Pakistan was anything but natural or based on mutual interests. Only two weeks after radical students seized the American Embassy in Tehran on November 5, 1979, a similar group of Islamic radicals burned to the ground the American Embassy in Islamabad as Zia’s troops stood idly by. But the US was willing to overlook almost anything the Pakistani dictator did in order to keep him committed to the anti-Soviet jihad. After the Soviet invasion, Brzezinski wrote to Carter: “This will require a review of our policy toward Pakistan, more guarantees to it, more arms aid, and, alas, a decision that our security policy toward Pakistan cannot be dictated by our non-proliferation policy.” History will record whether Brzezinski made an intelligent decision in giving a green light to Pakistan’s development of nuclear weapons in return for assisting the anti-Soviet insurgency.

Pakistan’s motives in Afghanistan were very different from those of the U.S. Zia was a devout Muslim and a passionate supporter of Islamist groups in his own country, in Afghanistan, and throughout the world. But he was not a fanatic and had some quite practical reasons for supporting Islamic radicals in Afghanistan. He probably would not have been included in the U.S. Embassy’s annual “beard census” of Pakistani military officers, which recorded the number of officer graduates and serving generals who kept their beards in accordance with Islamic traditions as an unobtrusive measure of increasing or declining religious radicalism — Zia had only a moustache.

From the beginning, Zia demanded that all weapons and aid for the Afghans from whatever source pass through ISI hands. The CIA was delighted to agree. Zia feared above all that Pakistan would be squeezed between a Soviet-dominated Afghanistan and a hostile India. He also had to guard against a Pashtun independence movement that, if successful, would break up Pakistan. In other words, he backed the Islamic militants in Afghanistan and Pakistan on religious grounds but was quite prepared to use them strategically. In doing so, he laid the foundations for Pakistan’s anti-Indian insurgency in Kashmir in the 1990s.

Zia died in a mysterious plane crash on August 17, 1988, four months after the signing of the Geneva Accords on April 14, 1988, which ratified the formal terms of the Soviet withdrawal. As the Soviet troops departed, Hekmatyar embarked on a clandestine plan to eliminate his rivals and establish his Islamic party, dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, as the most powerful national force in Afghanistan. The U.S. scarcely paid attention, but continued to support Pakistan. With the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the implosion of the USSR in 1991, the U.S. lost virtually all interest in Afghanistan. Hekmatyar was never as good as the CIA thought he was, and with the creation in 1994 of the Taliban, both Pakistan and Saudi Arabia transferred their secret support. This new group of jihadis proved to be the most militarily effective of the warring groups. On September 26, 1996, the Taliban conquered Kabul. The next day they killed the formerly Soviet-backed President Najibullah, expelled 8,000 female undergraduate students from Kabul University, and fired a similar number of women schoolteachers. As the mujahidin closed in on his palace, Najibullah told reporters: “If fundamentalism comes to Afghanistan, war will continue for many years. Afghanistan will turn into a center of world smuggling for narcotic drugs. Afghanistan will be turned into a center for terrorism.” His comments would prove all too accurate.

Pakistan’s military intelligence officers hated Benazir Bhutto, Zia’s elected successor, but she, like all post-Zia heads of state, including General Pervez Musharraf, supported the Taliban in pursuit of Zia’s “dream” — a loyal, Pashtun-led Islamist government in Kabul. Coll explains:

“Every Pakistani general, liberal or religious, believed in the jihadists by 1999, not from personal Islamic conviction, in most cases, but because the jihadists had proved themselves over many years as the one force able to frighten, flummox and bog down the Hindu-dominated Indian army. About a dozen Indian divisions had been tied up in Kashmir during the late 1990s to suppress a few thousand well-trained, paradise-seeking Islamist guerrillas. What more could Pakistan ask? The jihadist guerrillas were a more practical day-to-day strategic defense against Indian hegemony than even a nuclear bomb. To the west, in Afghanistan, the Taliban provided geopolitical ‘strategic depth’ against India and protection from rebellion by Pakistan’s own restive Pashtun population. For Musharraf, as for many other liberal Pakistani generals, jihad was not a calling, it was a professional imperative. It was something he did at the office. At quitting time he packed up his briefcase, straightened the braid on his uniform, and went home to his normal life.”

If the CIA understood any of this, it never let on to its superiors in Washington, and Charlie Wilson, a highly paid Pakistani lobbyist and former congressman for East Texas, was anything but forthcoming with Congress about what was really going on. During the 1980s, Wilson had used his power on the House Appropriations Committee to supply all the advanced weapons the CIA might want in Afghanistan. Coll remarks that Wilson “saw the mujahidin through the prism of his own whisky-soaked romanticism, as noble savages fighting for freedom, as almost biblical figures.” Hollywood is now making a movie, based on the book Charlie Wilson’s War by George Crile, glorifying the congressman who “used his trips to the Afghan frontier in part to impress upon a succession of girlfriends how powerful he was.” Tom Hanks has reportedly signed on to play him.

Enter bin Laden and the Saudis

Saudi Arabian motives were different from those of both the U.S. and Pakistan. Saudi Arabia is, after all, the only modern nation-state created by jihad. The Saudi royal family, which came to power at the head of a movement of Wahhabi religious fundamentalists, espoused Islamic radicalism in order to keep it under their control, at least domestically. “Middle-class, pious Saudis flush with oil wealth,” Coll writes, “embraced the Afghan cause as American churchgoers might respond to an African famine or a Turkish earthquake”: “The money flowing from the kingdom arrived at the Afghan frontier in all shapes and sizes: gold jewelry dropped on offering plates by merchants’ wives in Jedda mosques; bags of cash delivered by businessmen to Riyadh charities as zakat, an annual Islamic tithe; fat checks written from semi-official government accounts by minor Saudi princes; bountiful proceeds raised in annual telethons led by Prince Salman, the governor of Riyadh.” Richest of all were the annual transfers from the Saudi General Intelligence Department, or Istakhbarat, to the CIA’s Swiss bank accounts.

From the moment agency money and weapons started to flow to the mujahidin in late 1979, Saudi Arabia matched the U.S. payments dollar for dollar. They also bypassed the ISI and supplied funds directly to the groups in Afghanistan they favored, including the one led by their own pious young millionaire, Osama bin Laden. According to Milton Bearden, private Saudi and Arab funding of up to $25 million a month flowed to Afghan Islamist armies. Equally important, Pakistan trained between 16,000 and 18,000 fresh Muslim recruits on the Afghan frontier every year, and another 6,500 or so were instructed by Afghans inside the country beyond ISI control. Most of these eventually joined bin Laden’s private army of 35,000 “Arab Afghans.”

Much to the confusion of the Americans, moderate Saudi leaders, such as Prince Turki, the intelligence chief, supported the Saudi backing of fundamentalists so long as they were in Afghanistan and not in Saudi Arabia. A graduate of a New Jersey prep school and a member of Bill Clinton’s class of 1964 at Georgetown University, Turki belongs to the pro-Western, modernizing wing of the Saudi royal family. (He is the current Saudi ambassador to Great Britain and Ireland.) But that did not make him pro-American. Turki saw Saudi Arabia in continual competition with its powerful Shia neighbor, Iran. He needed credible Sunni, pro-Saudi Islamist clients to compete with Iran’s clients, especially in countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan, which have sizeable Shia populations.

Prince Turki was also irritated by the U.S. loss of interest in Afghanistan after its Cold War skirmish with the Soviet Union. He understood that the U.S. would ignore Saudi aid to Islamists so long as his country kept oil prices under control and cooperated with the Pentagon on the building of military bases. Like many Saudi leaders, Turki probably underestimated the longer term threat of Islamic militancy to the Saudi royal house, but, as Coll observes, “Prince Turki and other liberal princes found it easier to appease their domestic Islamist rivals by allowing them to proselytize and make mischief abroad than to confront and resolve these tensions at home.” In Riyadh, the CIA made almost no effort to recruit paid agents or collect intelligence. The result was that Saudi Arabia worked continuously to enlarge the ISI’s proxy jihad forces in both Afghanistan and Kashmir, and the Saudi Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, the kingdom’s religious police, tutored and supported the Taliban’s own Islamic police force.

By the late 1990s, after the embassy bombings in East Africa, the CIA and the White House awoke to the Islamist threat, but they defined it almost exclusively in terms of Osama bin Laden’s leadership of al-Qaida and failed to see the larger context. They did not target the Taliban, Pakistani military intelligence, or the funds flowing to the Taliban and al-Qaida from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Instead, they devoted themselves to trying to capture or kill bin Laden. Coll’s chapters on the hunt for the al-Qaida leader are entitled, “You Are to Capture Him Alive,” “We Are at War,” and “Is There Any Policy?” but he might more accurately have called them “Keystone Kops” or “The Gang that Couldn’t Shoot Straight.”

On February 23 1998, bin Laden summoned newspaper and TV reporters to the camp at Khost that the CIA had built for him at the height of the anti-Soviet jihad. He announced the creation of a new organization — the International Islamic Front for Jihad against Jews and Crusaders — and issued a manifesto saying that “to kill and fight Americans and their allies, whether civilian or military, is an obligation for every Muslim who is able to do so in any country.” On August 7, he and his associates put this manifesto into effect with devastating truck bombings of the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

The CIA had already identified bin Laden’s family compound in the open desert near Kandahar Airport, a collection of buildings called Tarnak Farm. It’s possible that more satellite footage has been taken of this site than of any other place on earth; one famous picture seems to show bin Laden standing outside one of his wives’ homes. The agency conceived an elaborate plot to kidnap bin Laden from Tarnak Farm with the help of Afghan operatives and spirit him out of the country but CIA director George Tenet cancelled the project because of the high risk of civilian casualties; he was resented within the agency for his timidity. Meanwhile, the White House stationed submarines in the northern Arabian Sea with the map co-ordinates of Tarnak Farm preloaded into their missile guidance systems. They were waiting for hard evidence from the CIA that bin Laden was in residence.

Within days of the East Africa bombings, Clinton signed a top secret Memorandum of Notification authorizing the CIA to use lethal force against bin Laden. On 20 August 1998, he ordered 75 cruise missiles, costing $750,000 each, to be fired at the Zawhar Kili camp (about seven miles south of Khost), the site of a major al-Qaida meeting. The attack killed 21 Pakistanis but bin Laden was forewarned, perhaps by Saudi intelligence. Two of the missiles fell short into Pakistan, causing Islamabad to denounce the U.S. action. At the same time, the U.S. fired 13 cruise missiles into a chemical plant in Khartoum: the CIA claimed that the plant was partly owned by bin Laden and that it was manufacturing nerve gas. They knew none of this was true.

Clinton had publicly confessed to his sexual liaison with Monica Lewinsky on August 17, and many critics around the world conjectured that both attacks were diversionary measures. (The film Wag the Dog had just come out, in which a president in the middle of an election campaign is charged with molesting a Girl Scout and makes it seem as if he’s gone to war against Albania to distract people’s attention.) As a result Clinton became more cautious, and he and his aides began seriously to question the quality of CIA information. The U.S. bombing in May 1999 of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade, allegedly because of faulty intelligence, further discredited the agency. A year later, Tenet fired one intelligence officer and reprimanded six managers, including a senior official, for their bungling of that incident.

The Clinton administration made two more attempts to get bin Laden. During the winter of 1998-99, the CIA confirmed that a large party of Persian Gulf dignitaries had flown into the Afghan desert for a falcon-hunting party, and that bin Laden had joined them. The CIA called for an attack on their encampment until Richard Clarke, Clinton’s counter-terrorism aide, discovered that among the hosts of the gathering was royalty from the United Arab Emirates. Clarke had been instrumental in a 1998 deal to sell 80 F-16 military jets to the UAE, which was also a crucial supplier of oil and gas to America and its allies. The strike was called off.

The CIA as a Secret Presidential Army

Throughout the 1990s, the Clinton administration devoted major resources to the development of a long-distance drone aircraft called Predator, invented by the former chief designer for the Israeli air force, who had emigrated to the United States. In its nose was mounted a Sony digital TV camera, similar to the ones used by news helicopters reporting on freeway traffic or on O.J. Simpson’s fevered ride through Los Angeles. By the turn of the century, Agency experts had also added a Hellfire anti-tank missile to the Predator and tested it on a mock-up of Tarnak Farm in the Nevada desert. This new weapons system made it possible instantly to kill bin Laden if the camera spotted him. Unfortunately for the CIA, on one of its flights from Uzbekistan over Tarnak Farm the Predator photographed as a target a child’s wooden swing. To his credit, Clinton held back on using the Hellfire because of the virtual certainty of killing bystanders, and Tenet, scared of being blamed for another failure, suggested that responsibility for the armed Predator’s use be transferred to the Air Force.

When the new Republican administration came into office, it was deeply uninterested in bin Laden and terrorism even though the outgoing national security adviser, Sandy Berger, warned Condoleezza Rice that it would be George W. Bush’s most serious foreign policy problem. On August 6, 2001, the CIA delivered its daily briefing to Bush at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, with the headline “Bin Laden determined to strike in U.S.,” but the president seemed not to notice. Slightly more than a month later, Osama bin Laden successfully brought off perhaps the most significant example of asymmetric warfare in the history of international relations.

Coll has written a powerful indictment of the CIA’s myopia and incompetence, but he seems to be of two minds. He occasionally indulges in flights of pro-CIA rhetoric, describing it, for example, as a “vast, pulsing, self-perpetuating, highly sensitive network on continuous alert” whose “listening posts were attuned to even the most isolated and dubious evidence of pending attacks” and whose “analysts were continually encouraged to share information as widely as possible among those with appropriate security clearances.” This is nonsense: the early-warning functions of the CIA were upstaged decades ago by covert operations.

Coll acknowledges that every president since Truman, once he discovered that he had a totally secret, financially unaccountable private army at his personal disposal, found its deployment irresistible. But covert operations usually became entangled in hopeless webs of secrecy, and invariably led to more blowback. Richard Clarke argues that “the CIA used its classification rules not only to protect its agents but also to deflect outside scrutiny of its covert operations,” and Peter Tomsen, the former US ambassador to the Afghan resistance during the late 1980s, concludes that “America’s failed policies in Afghanistan flowed in part from the compartmented, top secret isolation in which the CIA always sought to work.” Excessive, bureaucratic secrecy lies at the heart of the Agency’s failures.

Given the Agency’s clear role in causing the disaster of September 11, 2001, what we need today is not a new intelligence czar but an end to the secrecy behind which the CIA hides and avoids accountability for its actions. To this day, in the wake of 9/11 and the false warnings about a threat from Iraq, the CIA continues grossly to distort any and all attempts at a Constitutional foreign policy. Although Coll doesn’t go on to draw the conclusion, I believe the CIA has outlived any Cold War justification it once might have had and should simply be abolished.

Chalmers Johnson’s books include Blowback, The Sorrows of Empire, and Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic, which make up his Blowback Trilogy, and his last book Dismantling the Empire. From 1967 to 1973, Johnson, a TomDispatch regular, served as a consultant to the CIA’s Office of National Estimates.

Copyright 2004 Chalmers Johnson

John Stockwell: The CIA And The Third World War

“Coming to grips with these U.S./CIA activities in broad numbers and figuring out how many people have been killed in the jungles of Laos or the hills of Nicaragua is very difficult. But, adding them up as best we can, we come up with a figure of six million people killed-and this is a minimum figure. Included are: one million killed in the Korean War, two million killed in the Vietnam War, 800,000 killed in Indonesia, one million in Cambodia, 20,000 killed in Angola … and 22,000 killed in Nicaragua. These people would not have died if U.S. tax dollars had not been spent by the CIA to inflame tensions, finance covert political and military activities and destabilize societies.

Certainly, there are other local, regional, national and international factors in many of these operations, but if the CIA were tried fairly in a U.S. court, under U.S. law, the principle of complicity, incitement, riot, and mayhem would clearly apply. In the United States, if you hire someone to commit a murder your sentence may be approximately the same as that of the murderer himself.

Who are these six million people we have killed in the interest of American national security? Conservatives tell us, “It’s a dangerous world. Our enemies have to die so we can be safe and secure.” Some of them say, “I’m sorry, but that’s the way the world is. We have to accept this reality and defend ourselves, to make our nation safe and insure our way of life.”

Since 1954, however, we have not parachuted teams into the Soviet Union – our number one enemy – to destabilize that country… Neither do we run these violent operations in England, France, Sweden, Norway, Belgium, or Switzerland. Since the mid-1950s they have all been conducted in Third World countries where governments do not have the power to force the United States to stop its brutal and destabilizing campaigns.

One might call this the “Third World War.” It is a war that has been fought by the United States against the Third World. Others call it the Cold War and focus on the anti-Communist and anti-Soviet rationales, but the dead are not Soviets; they are people of the Third World. It might also be called the Forty-Year War, like the Thirty-Year and Hundred-Year Wars in Europe, for this one began when the CIA was founded in 1947 and continues today. Altogether, perhaps twenty million people died in the Cold War. As wars go, it has been the second or third most destructive of human life in all of history, after World War I and World War II.

The six million people the CIA has helped to kill are people of the Mitumba Mountains of the Congo, the jungles of Southeast Asia, and the hills of northern Nicaragua. They are people without ICBMs or armies or navies, incapable of doing physical damage to the United States the 22,000 killed in Nicaragua, for example, are not Russians; they are not Cuban soldiers or advisors; they are not even mostly Sandinistas. A majority are rag-poor peasants, including large numbers of women and children.

Communists? Hardly, since the dead Nicaraguans are predominantly Roman Catholics. Enemies of the United States? That description doesn’t fit either, because the thousands of witnesses who have lived in Nicaraguan villages with the people since 1979 testify that the Nicaraguans are the warmest people on the face of the earth, that they love people from the United States, and they simply cannot understand why our leaders would want to spend $1 billion on a contra force designed to murder people and wreck the country.”

John Stockwell, former CIA official and author


An Animated Cartoon About US Foreign Policy Written By William Blum

WE MUST BURY IMPERIALISM IN AFRICA OR PERISH.
REVOLUTIONARY VOICES AGAINST IMPERIALISM
LIBYA IS A TREE…
MUAMMAR GADDAFI VS AFRICOM AND THE RECOLONIZATION OF AFRICA
ZBIGNIEW BREZINSKI: IT IS EASIER TO KILL A MILLION PEOPLE THAN TO CONTROL THEM
CRIMES OF THE CIA
SECRETS OF THE CIA

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  1. CIA Secret Operations: Cuba, Russia and the Non-Aligned Movement

    The CIA’s Secret War

    Timeline of CIA Atrocities

    by Steve Kangas

    The following timeline describes just a few of the hundreds of atrocities and crimes committed by the CIA.

    CIA operations follow the same recurring script. First, American business interests abroad are threatened by a popular or democratically elected leader. The people support their leader because he intends to conduct land reform, strengthen unions, redistribute wealth, nationalize foreign-owned industry, and regulate business to protect workers, consumers and the environment.

    So, on behalf of American business, and often with their help, the CIA mobilizes the opposition. First it identifies right-wing groups within the country (usually the military), and offers them a deal: “We’ll put you in power if you maintain a favorable business climate for us.” The Agency then hires, trains and works with them to overthrow the existing government (usually a democracy). It uses every trick in the book: propaganda, stuffed ballot boxes, purchased elections, extortion, blackmail, sexual intrigue, false stories about opponents in the local media, infiltration and disruption of opposing political parties, kidnapping, beating, torture intimidation, economic sabotage, death squads and even assassination.

    These efforts culminate in a military coup, which installs a right-wing dictator. The CIA trains the dictator’s security apparatus to crack down on the traditional enemies of big business, using interrogation, torture and murder. The victims are said to be “communists,” but almost always they are just peasants, liberals, moderates, labor union leaders, political opponents and advocates of free speech and democracy. Widespread human rights abuses follow.

    This scenario has been repeated so many times that the CIA actually teaches it in a special school, the notorious “School of the Americas.” (It opened in Panama but later moved to Fort Benning, Georgia.) Critics have nicknamed it the “School of the Dictators” and “School of the Assassins.” Here, the CIA trains Latin American military officers how to conduct coups, including the use of interrogation, torture and murder.

    The Association for Responsible Dissent estimates that by 1987, 6 million people had died as a result of CIA covert operations. (2) Former State Department official William Blum correctly calls this an “American Holocaust.” The CIA justifies these actions as part of its war against communism. But most coups do not involve a communist threat. Unlucky nations are targeted for a wide variety of reasons: not only threats to American business interests abroad, but also liberal or even moderate social reforms, political instability, the unwillingness of a leader to carry out Washington’s dictates, and declarations of neutrality in the Cold War. Indeed, nothing has infuriated CIA Directors quite like a nation’s desire to stay out of the Cold War.

    The ironic thing about all this intervention is that it frequently fails to achieve American objectives. Often the newly installed dictator grows comfortable with the security apparatus the CIA has built for him. He becomes an expert at running a police state. And because the dictator knows he cannot be overthrown, he becomes independent and defiant of Washington’s will. The CIA then finds it cannot overthrow him, because the police and military are under the dictator’s control, afraid to cooperate with American spies for fear of torture and execution.

    The only two options for the U.S at this point are impotence or war. Examples of this “boomerang effect” include the Shah of Iran, General Noriega and Saddam Hussein. The boomerang effect also explains why the CIA has proven highly successful at overthrowing democracies, but a wretched failure at overthrowing dictatorships.

    The following timeline should confirm that the CIA as we know it should be abolished and replaced by a true information-gathering and analysis organization. The CIA cannot be reformed – it is in

    1929: The culture we lost – Secretary of State Henry Stimson refuses to endorse a code-breaking operation, saying, “Gentlemen do not read each other’s mail.”

    1941: COI created – In preparation for World War II, President Roosevelt creates the Office of Coordinator of Information (COI). General William “Wild Bill” Donovan heads the new intelligence service.

    1942: OSS created – Roosevelt restructures COI into something more suitable for covert action, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). Donovan recruits so many of the nation’s rich and powerful that eventually people joke that “OSS” stands for “Oh, so social!” or “Oh, such snobs!”

    1943: Italy – Donovan recruits the Catholic Church in Rome to be the center of Anglo-American spy operations in Fascist Italy. This would prove to be one of America’s most enduring intelligence alliances in the Cold War.

    1945: OSS is abolished – The remaining American information agencies cease covert actions and return to harmless information gathering and analysis.

    Operation PAPERCLIP – While other American agencies are hunting down Nazi war criminals for arrest, the U.S. intelligence community is smuggling them into America, unpunished, for their use against the Soviets. The most important of these is Reinhard Gehlen, Hitler’s master spy who had built up an intelligence network in the Soviet Union. With full U.S. blessing, he creates the “Gehlen Organization,” a band of refugee Nazi spies who reactivate their networks in Russia. These include SS intelligence officers Alfred Six and Emil Augsburg (who massacred Jews in the Holocaust), Klaus Barbie (the “Butcher of Lyon”), Otto von Bolschwing (the Holocaust mastermind who worked with Eichmann). The Gehlen Organization supplies the U.S. with its only intelligence on the Soviet Union for the next ten years, serving as a bridge between the abolishment of the OSS and the creation of the CIA. However, much of the “intelligence” the former Nazis provide is bogus.

    Gehlen inflates Soviet military capabilities at a time when Russia is still rebuilding its devastated society, in order to inflate his own importance to the Americans (who might otherwise punish him). In 1948, Gehlen almost convinces the Americans that war is imminent, and the West should make a preemptive strike. In the 50s he produces a fictitious “missile gap.” To make matters worse, the Russians have thoroughly penetrated the Gehlen Organization with double agents, undermining the very American security that Galen was supposed to protect.

    1947: Greece – President Truman requests military aid to Greece to support right-wing forces fighting communist rebels. For the rest of the Cold War, Washington and the CIA will back notorious Greek leaders with deplorable human rights records.

    CIA created – President Truman signs the National Security Act of 1947, creating the Central Intelligence Agency and National Security Council. The CIA is accountable to the president through the NSC -there is no democratic or congressional oversight. Its charter allows the CIA to “perform such other functions and duties. As the National Security Council may from time to time direct.” This loophole opens the door to covert action and dirty tricks.

    1948: Covert-action wing created – The CIA recreates a covert action wing, innocuously called the Office of Policy Coordination, led by Wall Street lawyer Frank Wisner. According to its secret charter, its responsibilities include “propaganda, economic warfare, preventive direct action, including sabotage, anti-sabotage, demolition and evacuation procedures; subversion against hostile states, including assistance to underground resistance groups, and support of indigenous anti-communist elements in threatened countries of the free world.”

    Italy – The CIA corrupts democratic elections in Italy, where Italian communists threaten to win the elections. The CIA buys votes, broadcasts propaganda, threatens and beats up opposition leaders, and infiltrates and disrupts their organizations. It works – the communists are defeated.

    1949: Radio Free Europe – The CIA creates its first major propaganda outlet, Radio Free Europe. Over the next several decades, its broadcasts are so blatantly false that for a time it is considered illegal to publish transcripts of them in the U.S.

    Late 40′s: Operation MOCKINGBIRD – The CIA begins recruiting American news organizations and journalists to become spies and disseminators of propaganda. Frank Wisner, Allan Dulles, Richard Helms and Philip Graham head the effort. Graham is publisher of The Washington Post, which becomes a major CIA player. Eventually, the CIA’s media assets will include ABC, NBC, CBS, Time, Newsweek, Associated Press, United Press International, Reuters, Hearst Newspapers, Scripps-Howard, Copley News Service and more. By the CIA’s own admission, at least 25 organizations and 400 journalists will become CIA assets.

    1953: Iran – CIA overthrows the democratically elected Mohammed Mossadegh in a military coup, after he threatened to nationalize British oil. The CIA replaces him with a dictator, the Shah of Iran, whose secret police, SAVAK, is as brutal as the Gestapo.

    Operation MK-ULTRA – Inspired by North Korea’s brainwashing program, the CIA begins experiments on mind control. The most notorious part of this project involves giving LSD and other drugs to American subjects without their knowledge or against their will, causing several to commit suicide. However, the operation involves far more than this. Funded in part by the Rockefeller and Ford foundations, research includes propaganda, brainwashing, public relations, advertising, hypnosis, and other forms of suggestion.

    1954: Guatemala – CIA overthrows the democratically elected Jacob Arbenz in a military coup. Arbenz has threatened to nationalize the Rockefeller-owned United Fruit Company, in which CIA Director Allen Dulles also owns stock. Arbenz is replaced with a series of right-wing dictators whose bloodthirsty policies will kill over 100,000 Guatemalans in the next 40 y North Vietnam – CIA officer Edward Lansdale spends four years trying to overthrow the communist government of North Vietnam, using all the usual dirty tricks. The CIA also attempts to legitimize a tyrannical puppet regime in South Vietnam, headed by Ngo Dinh Diem. These efforts fail to win the hearts and minds of the South Vietnamese because the Diem government is opposed to true democracy, land reform and poverty reduction measures. The CIA’s continuing failure results in escalating American intervention, culminating in the Vietnam War.

    1954-1958: North Vietnam – CIA officer Edward Lansdale spends four years trying to overthrow the communist government of North Vietnam, using all the usual dirty tricks. The CIA also attempts to legitimize a tyrannical puppet regime in South Vietnam, headed by Ngo Dinh Diem. These efforts fail to win the hearts and minds of the South Vietnamese because the Diem government is opposed to true democracy, land reform and poverty reduction measures. The CIA’s continuing failure results in escalating American intervention and finally the Vietnam War.

    1956: Hungary – Radio Free Europe incites Hungary to revolt by broadcasting Khruschev’s Secret Speech, in which he denounced Stalin. It also hints that American aid will help the Hungarians fight. This aid fails to materialize as Hungarians launch a doomed armed revolt, which only invites a major Soviet invasion. The conflict kills 7,000 Soviets and 30,000 Hungarians.

    1957-1973: Laos – The CIA carries out approximately one coup per year trying to nullify Laos’ democratic elections. The problem is the Pathet Lao, a leftist group with enough popular support to be a member of any coalition government. In the late 50s, the CIA even creates an “Army Clandestine” of Asian mercenaries to attack the Pathet Lao. After the CIA’s army suffers numerous defeats, the U.S. starts bombing, dropping more bombs on Laos than all the U.S. bombs dropped in World War II. A quarter of all Laotians will eventually become refugees, many living in caves.

    1959: Haiti – The U.S. military helps “Papa Doc” Duvalier become dictator of Haiti. He creates his own private police force, the “Tonton Macoutes,” who terrorize the population with machetes. They will kill over 100,000 during the Duvalier family reign. The U.S. does not protest their dismal human rights record.

    1961: The Bay of Pigs – The CIA sends 1,500 Cuban exiles to invade Castro’s Cuba. But “Operation Mongoose” fails, due to poor planning, security and backing. The planners had imagined that the invasion would spark a popular uprising against Castro – which never happens. A promised American air strike also never occurs. This is the CIA’s first public setback, causing President Kennedy to fire CIA Director Allen Dulles.

    Dominican Republic – The CIA assassinates Rafael Trujillo, a murderous dictator Washington has supported since 1930. Trujillo’s business interests have grown so large (about 60 percent of the economy) that they have begun competing with American business interests.

    Ecuador – The CIA-backed military forces the democratically elected President Jose Velasco to resign. Vice President Carlos Arosemana replaces him; the CIA fills the now vacant vice presidency with its own man.

    Congo (Zaire) – The CIA assassinates the democratically elected Patrice Lumumba. However, public support for Lumumba’s politics runs so high that the CIA cannot clearly install his opponents in power. Four years of political turmoil follow.

    1963: Dominican Republic – The CIA overthrows the democratically elected Juan Bosch in a military coup. The CIA installs a repressive, right wing junta.

    Ecuador – A CIA-backed military coup overthrows President Arosemana, whose independent (not socialist) policies have become unacceptable to Washington. A military junta assumes command, cancels the 1964 elections, and begins abusing human rights.

    1964: Brazil – A CIA-backed military coup overthrows the democratically elected government of Joao Goulart. The junta that replaces it will, in the next two decades, become one of the most bloodthirsty in history. General Castelo Branco will create Latin America’s first death squads, or bands of secret police that hunt down “communists” for torture, interrogation and murder. Often these “communists” are no more than Branco’s political opponents. Later it is revealed that the CIA trains the death squads.

    1965: Indonesia – The CIA overthrows the democratically elected Sukarno with a military coup. The CIA has been trying to eliminate Sukarno since 1957, using everything from attempted assassination to sexual intrigue, for nothing more than his declaring neutrality in the Cold War. His successor, General Suharto, will massacre between 500,000 to 1 million civilians accused of being “communist.” The CIA supplies the names of countless suspects.

    Dominican Republic – A popular rebellion breaks out, promising to reinstall Juan Bosch as the country’s elected leader. The revolution is crushed when U.S. Marines land to uphold the military regime by force. The CIA directs everything behind the scenes.

    Greece – With the CIA’s backing, the king removes George Papandreous as prime minister. Papandreous has failed to vigorously support U.S. interests in Greece.

    Congo (Zaire) – A CIA-backed military coup installs Mobutu Sese Seko as dictator. The hated and repressive Mobutu exploits his desperately poor country for billions.

    1966: The Ramparts Affair – The radical magazine Ramparts begins a series of unprecedented anti-CIA articles. Among their scoops: the CIA has paid the University of Michigan $25 million dollars to hire “professors” to train South Vietnamese students in covert police methods. MIT and other universities have received similar payments. Ramparts also reveal that the National Students’ Association is a CIA front. Students are sometimes recruited through blackmail and bribery, including draft deferments.

    1967: Greece – A CIA-backed military coup overthrows the government two days before the elections. The favorite to win was George Papandreous, the liberal candidate. During the next six years, the “reign of the colonels” – backed by the CIA – will usher in the widespread use of torture and murder against political opponents. When a Greek ambassador objects to President Johnson about U.S. plans for Cypress, Johnson tells him: “Fuck your parliament and your constitution.”

    Operation PHEONIX – The CIA helps South Vietnamese agents identify and then murder alleged Viet Cong leaders operating in South Vietnamese villages. According to a 1971 congressional report, this operation killed about 20,000 “Viet Cong.”

    1968: Operation CHAOS – The CIA has been illegally spying on American citizens since 1959, but with Operation CHAOS, President Johnson dramatically boosts the effort. CIA agents go undercover as student radicals to spy on and disrupt campus organizations protesting the Vietnam War. They are searching for Russian instigators, which they never find. CHAOS will eventually spy on 7,000 individuals and 1,000 organizations.

    Bolivia – A CIA-organized military operation captures legendary guerilla Che Guevara. The CIA wants to keep him alive for interrogation, but the Bolivian government executes him to prevent worldwide calls for clemency.

    1969: Uruguay – The notorious CIA torturer Dan Mitrione arrives in Uruguay, a country torn with political strife. Whereas right-wing forces previously used torture only as a last resort, Mitrione convinces them to use it as a routine, widespread practice. “The precise pain, in the precise place, in the precise amount, for the desired effect,” is his motto. The torture techniques he teaches to the death squads rival the Nazis’. He eventually becomes so feared that revolutionaries will kidnap and murder him a year later.

    1970: Cambodia – The CIA overthrows Prince Sahounek, who is highly popular among Cambodians for keeping them out of the Vietnam War. He is replaced by CIA puppet Lon Nol, who immediately throws Cambodian troops into battle. This unpopular move strengthens once minor opposition parties like the Khmer Rouge, which achieves power in 1975 and massacres millions of its own people.

    1971: Bolivia – After half a decade of CIA-inspired political turmoil, a CIA-backed military coup overthrows the leftist President Juan Torres. In the next two years, dictator Hugo Banzer will have over 2,000 political opponents arrested without trial, then tortured, raped and executed.

    Haiti – “Papa Doc” Duvalier dies, leaving his 19-year old son “Baby Doc” Duvalier the dictator of Haiti. His son continues his bloody reign with full knowledge of the CIA.

    1972: The Case-Zablocki Act – Congress passes an act requiring congressional review of executive agreements. In theory, this should make CIA operations more accountable. In fact, it is only marginally effective.

    Cambodia – Congress votes to cut off CIA funds for its secret war in Cambodia.

    Watergate Break-in – President Nixon sends in a team of burglars to wiretap Democratic offices at Watergate. The team members have extensive CIA histories, including James McCord, E. Howard Hunt and five of the Cuban burglars. They work for the Committee to Reelect the President (CREEP), which does dirty work like disrupting Democratic campaigns and laundering Nixon’s illegal campaign contributions. CREEP’s activities are funded and organized by another CIA front, the Mullen Company.

    1973: Chile – The CIA overthrows and assassinates Salvador Allende, Latin America’s first democratically elected socialist leader. The problems begin when Allende nationalizes American-owned firms in Chile. ITT offers the CIA $1 million for a coup (reportedly refused). The CIA replaces Allende with General Augusto Pinochet, who will torture and murder thousands of his own countrymen in a crackdown on labor leaders and the political left.

    CIA begins internal investigations – William Colby, the Deputy Director for Operations, orders all CIA personnel to report any and all illegal activities they know about. This information is later reported to Congress.

    Watergate Scandal – The CIA’s main collaborating newspaper in America, The Washington Post, reports Nixon’s crimes long before any other newspaper take up the subject. The two reporters, Woodward and Bernstein, make almost no mention of the CIA’s many fingerprints all over the scandal. It is later revealed that Woodward was a Naval intelligence briefer to the White House, and knows many important intelligence figures, including General Alexander Haig. His main source, “Deep Throat,” is probably one of those.

    CIA Director Helms Fired – President Nixon fires CIA Director Richard Helms for failing to help cover up the Watergate scandal. Helms and Nixon have always disliked each other. The new CIA director is William Colby, who is relatively more open to CIA reform.

    1974: CHAOS exposed – Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Seymour Hersh publishes a story about Operation CHAOS, the domestic surveillance and infiltration of anti-war and civil rights groups in the U.S. The story sparks national outrage.

    Angleton fired – Congress holds hearings on the illegal domestic spying efforts of James Jesus Angleton, the CIA’s chief of counterintelligence. His efforts included mail-opening campaigns and secret surveillance of war protesters. The hearings result in his dismissal from the CIA.

    House clears CIA in Watergate – The House of Representatives clears the CIA of any complicity in Nixon’s Watergate break-in.

    The Hughes Ryan Act – Congress passes an amendment requiring the president to report non-intelligence CIA operations to the relevant congressional committees in a timely fashion.

    1975: Australia – The CIA helps topple the democratically elected, left-leaning government of Prime Minister Edward Whitlam. The CIA does this by giving an ultimatum to its Governor-General, John Kerr. Kerr, a longtime CIA collaborator, exercises his constitutional right to dissolve the Whitlam government. The Governor-General is a largely ceremonial position appointed by the Queen; the Prime Minister is democratically elected. The use of this archaic and never-used law stuns the nation.

    Angola – Eager to demonstrate American military resolve after its defeat in Vietnam, Henry Kissinger launches a CIA-backed war in Angola. Contrary to Kissinger’s assertions, Angola is a country of little strategic importance and not seriously threatened by communism. The CIA backs the brutal leader of UNITAS, Jonas Savimbi. This polarizes Angolan politics and drives his opponents into the arms of Cuba and the Soviet Union for survival. Congress will cut off funds in 1976, but the CIA is able to run the war off the books until 1984, when funding is legalized again. This entirely pointless war kills over 300,000 Angolans.

    “The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence” – Victor Marchetti and John Marks publish this whistle-blowing history of CIA crimes and abuses. Marchetti has spent 14 years in the CIA, eventually becoming an executive assistant to the Deputy Director of Intelligence. Marks has spent five years as an intelligence official in the State Department. “Inside the Company” – Philip Agee publishes a diary of his life inside the CIA. Agee has worked in covert operations in Latin America during the 60s, and details the crimes in which he took part.

    Congress investigates CIA wrongdoing – Public outrage compels Congress to hold hearings on CIA crimes. Senator Frank Church heads the Senate investigation (“The Church Committee”), and Representative Otis Pike heads the House investigation. (Despite a 98 percent incumbency reelection rate, both Church and Pike are defeated in the next elections.) The investigations lead to a number of reforms intended to increase the CIA’s accountability to Congress, including the creation of a standing Senate committee on intelligence. However, the reforms prove ineffective, as the Iran/Contra scandal will show. It turns out the CIA can control, deal with or sidestep Congress with ease.

    The Rockefeller Commission – In an attempt to reduce the damage done by the Church Committee, President Ford creates the “Rockefeller Commission” to whitewash CIA history and propose toothless reforms. The commission’s namesake, Vice President Nelson Rockefeller, is himself a major CIA figure. Five of the commission’s eight members are also members of the Council on Foreign Relations, a CIA-dominated organization.

    1979: Iran – The CIA fails to predict the fall of the Shah of Iran, a longtime CIA puppet, and the rise of Muslim fundamentalists who are furious at the CIA’s backing of SAVAK, the Shah’s bloodthirsty secret police. In revenge, the Muslims take 52 Americans hostage in the U.S. embassy in Tehran.

    Afghanistan – The Soviets enters in Afghanistan. The CIA immediately begins supplying arms to any faction willing to fight the Soviets. Such indiscriminate arming means that when the Soviets leave Afghanistan, civil war will erupt. Also, fanatical Muslim extremists now possess state-of-the-art weaponry. One of these is Sheik Abdel Rahman, who will become involved in the World Trade Center bombing in New York.

    El Salvador – An idealistic group of young military officers, repulsed by the massacre of the poor, overthrows the right-wing government. However, the U.S. compels the inexperienced officers to include many of the old guard in key positions in their new government. Soon, things are back to “normal” – the military government is repressing and killing poor civilian protesters. Many of the young military and civilian reformers, finding themselves powerless, resign in disgust.

    Nicaragua – Anastasios Samoza II, the CIA-backed dictator, falls. The Marxist Sandinistas take over government, and they are initially popular because of their commitment to land and anti-poverty reform. Samoza had a murderous and hated personal army called the National Guard. Remnants of the Guard will become the Contras, who fight a CIA-backed guerilla war against the Sandinista government throughout the 1980s.

    1980: El Salvador – The Archbishop of San Salvador, Oscar Romero, pleads with President Carter “Christian to Christian” to stop aiding the military government slaughtering his people. Carter refuses. Shortly afterwards, right-wing leader Roberto D’Aubuisson has Romero shot through the heart while saying Mass. The country soon dissolves into civil war, with the peasants in the hills fighting against the military government. The CIA and U.S. Armed Forces supply the government with overwhelming military and intelligence superiority. CIA-trained death squads roam the countryside, committing atrocities like that of El Mazote in 1982, where they massacre between 700 and 1000 men, women and children. By 1992, some 63,000 Salvadorans will be killed.

    1981: Iran/Contra Begins – The CIA begins selling arms to Iran at high prices, using the profits to arm the Contras fighting the Sandinista government in Nicaragua. President Reagan vows that the Sandinistas will be “pressured” until “they say ‘uncle.’” The CIA’s Freedom Fighter’s Manual disbursed to the Contras includes instruction on economic sabotage, propaganda, extortion, bribery, blackmail, interrogation, torture, murder and political assassination.

    1983: Honduras – The CIA gives Honduran military officers the Human Resource Exploitation Training Manual – 1983, which teaches how to torture people. Honduras’ notorious “Battalion 316″ then uses these techniques, with the CIA’s full knowledge, on thousands of leftist dissidents. At least 184 are murdered.

    1984: The Boland Amendment – The last of a series of Boland Amendments is passed. These amendments have reduced CIA aid to the Contras; the last one cuts it off completely. However, CIA Director William Casey is already prepared to “hand off” the operation to Colonel Oliver North, who illegally continues supplying the Contras through the CIA’s informal, secret, and self-financing network. This includes “humanitarian aid” donated by Adolph Coors and William Simon, and military aid funded by Iranian arms sales.

    1986: Eugene Hasenfus – Nicaragua shoots down a C-123 transport plane carrying military supplies to the Contras. The lone survivor, Eugene Hasenfus, turns out to be a CIA employee, as are the two dead pilots. The airplane belongs to Southern Air Transport, a CIA front. The incident makes a mockery of President Reagan’s claims that the CIA is not illegally arming the Contras.

    Iran/Contra Scandal – Although the details have long been known, the Iran/Contra scandal finally captures the media’s attention in 1986. Congress holds hearings, and several key figures (like Oliver North) lie under oath to protect the intelligence community. CIA Director William Casey dies of brain cancer before Congress can question him. All reforms enacted by Congress after the scandal are purely cosmetic.

    Haiti – Rising popular revolt in Haiti means that “Baby Doc” Duvalier will remain “President for Life” only if he has a short one. The U.S., which hates instability in a puppet country, flies the despotic Duvalier to the South of France for a comfortable retirement. The CIA then rigs the upcoming elections in favor of another right-wing military strongman. However, violence keeps the country in political turmoil for another four years. The CIA tries to strengthen the military by creating the National Intelligence Service (SIN), which suppresses popular revolt through torture and assassination.

    1989: Panama – The U.S. invades Panama to overthrow a dictator of its own making, General Manuel Noriega. Noriega has been on the CIA’s payroll since 1966, and has been transporting drugs with the CIA’s knowledge since 1972. By the late 80s, Noriega’s growing independence and intransigence have angered Washington. So out he goes.

    1990: Haiti – Competing against 10 comparatively wealthy candidates, leftist priest Jean-Bertrand Aristide captures 68 percent of the vote. After only eight months in power, however, the CIA-backed military deposes him. More military dictators brutalize the country, as thousands of Haitian refugees escape the turmoil in barely seaworthy boats. As popular opinion calls for Aristide’s return, the CIA begins a disinformation campaign painting the courageous priest as mentally unstable.

    1991: The Fall of the Soviet Union – The CIA fails to predict this most important event of the Cold War. This suggests that it has been so busy undermining governments that it hasn’t been doing its primary job: gathering and analyzing information. The fall of the Soviet Union also robs the CIA of its reason for existence: fighting communism. This leads some to accuse the CIA of intentionally failing to predict the downfall of the Soviet Union. Curiously, the intelligence community’s budget is not significantly reduced after the demise of communism.

    1992: Economic Espionage – In the years following the end of the Cold War, the CIA is increasingly used for economic espionage. This involves stealing the technological secrets of competing foreign companies and giving them to American ones. Given the CIA’s clear preference for dirty tricks over mere information gathering, the possibility of serious criminal behavior is very great indeed.

    1993: Haiti – The chaos in Haiti grows so bad that President Clinton has no choice but to remove the Haitian military dictator, Raoul Cedras, on threat of U.S. invasion. The U.S. occupiers do not arrest Haiti’s military leaders for crimes against humanity, but instead ensure their safety and rich retirements. Aristide is returned to power only after being forced to accept an agenda favorable to the country’s ruling class.

    EPILOGUE

    In a speech before the CIA celebrating its 50th anniversary, President Clinton said: “By necessity, the American people will never know the full story of your courage.” Clinton’s is a common defense of the CIA: namely, the American people should stop criticizing the CIA because they don’t know what it really does. This, of course, is the heart of the problem in the first place. An agency that is above criticism is also above moral behavior and reform. Its secrecy and lack of accountability allows its corruption to grow unchecked. Furthermore, Clinton’s statement is simply untrue. The history of the agency is growing painfully clear, especially with the declassification of historical CIA documents. We may not know the details of specific operations, but we do know, quite well, the general behavior of the CIA. These facts began emerging nearly two decades ago at an ever-quickening pace. Today we have a remarkably accurate and consistent picture, repeated in country after country, and verified from countless different directions.

    The CIA’s response to this growing knowledge and criticism follows a typical historical pattern. (Indeed, there are remarkable parallels to the Medieval Church’s fight against the Scientific Revolution.) The first journalists and writers to reveal the CIA’s criminal behavior were harassed and censored if they were American writers, and tortured and murdered if they were foreigners. (See Philip Agee’s On the Run for an example of early harassment.)

    However, over the last two decades the tide of evidence has become overwhelming, and the CIA has found that it does not have enough fingers to plug every hole in the dike. This is especially true in the age of the Internet, where information flows freely among millions of people. Since censorship is impossible, the Agency must now defend itself with apologetics. Clinton’s “Americans will never know” defense is a prime example.

    Another common apologetic is that “the world is filled with unsavory characters, and we must deal with them if we are to protect American interests at all.” There are two things wrong with this. First, it ignores the fact that the CIA has regularly spurned alliances with defenders of democracy, free speech and human rights, preferring the company of military dictators and tyrants. The CIA had moral options available to them, but did not take them.

    Second, this argument begs several questions. The first is: “Which American interests?” The CIA has courted right-wing dictators because they allow wealthy Americans to exploit the country’s cheap labor and resources. But poor and middle-class Americans pay the price whenever they fight the wars that stem from CIA actions, from Vietnam to the Gulf War to Panama. The second begged question is: “Why should American interests come at the expense of other peoples’ human rights?”

    The CIA should be abolished, its leadership dismissed and its relevant members tried for crimes against humanity. Our intelligence community should be rebuilt from the ground up, with the goal of collecting and analyzing information. As for covert action, there are two moral options. The first one is to eliminate covert action completely. But this gives jitters to people worried about the Adolph Hitler’s of the world. So a second option is that we can place covert action under extensive and true democratic oversight. For example, a bipartisan Congressional Committee of 40 members could review and veto all aspects of CIA operations upon a majority or super-majority vote. Which of these two options is best may be the subject of debate, but one thing is clear: like dictatorship, like monarchy, unaccountable covert operations should die like the dinosaurs they are.

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