President Harry S. Truman's Secret Government ~ Part 1 of 2

Submitted by SadInAmerica on Sun, 04/13/2008 - 12:02pm.

In 1947, President Truman created the Central Intellengence Agency.  He was quoted as saying, "I think it was a mistake. If I had known what was going to happen, I never would have done it." ~ Quote taken from Merle Miller's 1973 book Plain Speaking."

Origin and Function of the CIA: The "Cult of Intelligence"

The CIA was created at the outset of the Cold War by Truman's National Security Act of 1947. That Act was a response to Yalta, and to the general pervasive fear that, after WW II, the greatest threat to world peace was the communists. The CIA was mostly formed out of the reorganized OSS (Office of Strategic Services) which coordinated espionage and intelligence activities against the Nazis. (However, anti-communism was an overarching concern for the new agency, which enlisted some of its old enemies against a previous ally: many former Nazis functionaries, such as Richard Gehlen, were enlisted into the CIA spy network in Eastern Europe.) The mission the CIA was expressly charged with was the centralization and coordination of all the data from the intelligence agencies of the government - namely, those associated with the branches of the military service; and after 1952, the National Security Agency, Defense Intelligence Agency, National Reconaissance Office, and the intelligence activities of the Atomic Energy Commission, State Department, Treasury Department, and Justice Department.

The CIA was also granted in 1952 sweeping "other" powers besides merely the gathering of intelligence. And despite the fact that it was created for that purpose, due to counterintelligence and countermeasures, the CIA has only been able to get minor information, mostly from serendipitous occasions, such as getting their hands on a defector that was not a "plant." Despite the glamourizations of the spy trade in James Bond movies, the truth is that field operatives can only get so much information on troop movements, weapons stockpiles, and the intentions of foreign leaders. For that reason, the CIA has relied ever increasingly on electronic techniques; but spy sattelites, wiretaps, and spy planes are subject to electronic (and other) countermeasures. It has often been demonstrated in the past that the CIA took intelligence and distorted it to support the policy inclinations of its Director or the current Commander-in-Chief, sometimes with disastrous consequences. Reams of data are collected by the agency every day, much more than anyone can ever process, and no one coordinates what to do with the humongous piles of uncracked ciphers and unprocessed intelligence.

Perhaps because of the limitations of 'intelligence,' or in spite of them, the CIA has chosen to excel in an entirely different area: covert operations. The CIA has become a secret branch of the President's foreign policy apparatus, able to act where he cannot do things openly, because the CIA does not have to answer questions from the press. All agents agree that, when necessary, they will lie to anyone, including Congressional Oversight committees, in the interests of 'national security.' This policy, called "plausible denial," goes hand-in-hand with the fact that every agent must sign a contract agreeing not to reveal anything 'sensitive' that they learned during their service without the CIA's prior consent. To the "imperial presidency", the CIA became seen as a 'can-do' agency, because unlike any other part of the government, they had full control over their own budget and operations - they answered to nobody. This is part of what Victor Marchetti called the 'theology of national security,' maintained through the 'cult of intelligence.' It is a theology of salvation through duty to country - and adherents of the ritual believe all sins may be forgiven them.

The CIA has always maintained that all its secrecy and "clandestine mentality" are part of its efforts to keep vital secrets out of the hands of America's enemies. They claim that disclosure of their activities might jeopardize agents in the field and also destroy many important efforts of foreign policy, because CIA-controlled foreign agents would be revealed as such to their own people. As far as they are concerned, freedom of the press and freedom of information take a back seat, because any secrets given up are secrets betrayed into the hands of the enemy. Of course, to many others, all this secrecy is just a way for the CIA to hide its activities from the criticism of the American people, in the name of national security. But the art of the spook trade is like a poker game: know as much as you can about your enemy while giving the least away. In a world where anybody can be working for the other side - and paranoia is never in short supply in the halls of Langeley - you can't trust anybody, and anything is fair game. "Black operations" are necessary, 'cause we gotta do it to 'em before they do it to us. That is the commandment at the heart of the cult of intelligence and its spookly apostles.

The CIA, whose chief sphere of operations during the Cold War was to be the Soviet Union and China, made much of its actual focus the developing or "Third World." It was there that the CIA flexed its political muscle, recruited its hired hands, and interfered in other peoples' business, all the while pretending to be aiming its operations against the other threatening "superpowers." Unfortunately, the KGB was as good at the game as the CIA, and for that reason the CIA was never able to score very many successes in either the intelligence or covert operations field - which is why they made the Third World, an area the U.S. has always been better at pushing around, their chief focus of activity. Most Third World nations were no real security threat to the United States, but the CIA could always claim that there was the danger of their falling into the "Soviet sphere of influence." The CIA's goals in the developing world were really based on other factors: strategic interests (military bases, listening posts, naval ports), material interests (natural resources and trade goods), and economic interests (protecting the property of multinational U.S. corporations such as United Fruit, IT&T, and Exxon.) Democracy and freedom necessarily took a back seat.

Here on Our Shores: Domestic Operations

Despite its mandate to handle 'foreign' threats, the CIA has never kept its hands off domestic groups right here in the U.S. Its policy of persecution of such groups has always been based from the belief that they are the tools of foreign manipulation. And why not? If the CIA was manipulating Eastern European organizations during the rebellions of the Prague Spring, it figured the KGB was just as likely to be behind the revolutionary groups here in the U.S. Finding those links pointing to Soviet support was a pretty hard task (because there were none), but it never kept the Agency from its dirty work. Despite the fact that some of the groups, like the Trotskyist SWP, openly eschewed Soviet communism, the CIA could never accept the fact that such organizations were "homegrown" developments of dissent and discontent. They had to be getting their financing from abroad, thought the spookmasters...

During the late 60s, the CIA frequently recruited young men to infiltrate 'subversive' (generally antiwar) groups as agents provocateurs . These infiltrators were to try and agitate the groups and get them to surrender their nonviolent tactics for more militant ones. As part of the joint COINTELPRO effort with the FBI, the CIA maintained wiretaps, 'bugging' devices, hidden tape recorders, and other gimmicks for the invasion of privacy at the premises of the meeting places of many of these groups. Files were maintained on important (but potentially 'threatening') citizens such as Martin Luther King, Jr. and Tom Hayden. Anybody who was a potential troublemaker of whistleblower soon would discover how the CIA used its relationship with other government agencies (such as the IRS)... and find his or her credit rating slashed, employee record blacklisted, bank account frozen, incoming mail opened, and careers ruined. If they were authors, they might soon discover publishers avoiding them like the Plague; if they were film directors or producerers, they might find their projects suddenly 'cancelled.' You tangle with the Company at your own peril.

The groups that the COINTELPRO effort targeted primarily were the Socialist Workers' Party, the Black Panther Party, and the Young Communist League. Radical, revolutionary, militant, and communist organizations were the initial targets; but liberal, socialist, pacifist, and reformist groups (like Ralph Nader's) often found themselves under scrutiny as well. Often immigrants to the U.S. were monitored for possible ideological or other connections to 'hostile' foreign governments or to 'terrorist' organizations, and lost their right of residency (and speech) in the U.S. when they were suspected of 'un-American' sentiments. (Nixon's "plumbers" squad had some former CIA men on it, and they focused primarily on Nixon's real and perceived enemies, including columnist Jack Anderson, who received death threats.) The CIA found clever ways of discrediting organizations (such as the American Indian Movement) by 'framing' their leaders for crimes they did not commit or creating false trails to violent incidents and terrorist organizations.

"Center for International Assassination": Attempts on Poltical Leaders

The assassination attempts that the CIA made on Fidel Castro in the 1960s - including using a poisoned cigar and Cuban exile 'hit squads' like Alpha 66 - are fairly well known. But the CIA has tried to kill other foreign leaders - in direct violation of the Geneva Convention and other articles of international law - when it felt them to be a sufficient 'threat' to U.S. interests. Other attempted victims included President Nasser of Egypt and Kim Il Sung of North Korea in the 1950s. The CIA provided names of prominent members of the Communist party of Indonesia in the 1960s to paramilitary forces under General Suharto, who killed some 60,000. In a similar operation called Project Phoenix, the CIA and South Vietnamese security forces may have killed some 12,000 VietCong leaders in North and South Vietnam. Prominent terrorists, such as Abu Nidal, have been on the CIA's 'hit list' for a long time, but they are tough 'marks' for killing due to their great mobility. The reason why many of us haven't heard much of this is that the CIA is not above murdering journalists, when that becomes necessary.

But did the CIA conspire to kill U.S. officials right here at home? Might they have even murdered a president? Jim Garrison's investigation of the Kennedy Assassination revealed many potential links between the CIA, Cuban exiles, and the Mafia, who all hated Kennedy for different reasons. Richard Helms finally admitted in 1974 that one part of Garrison's investigation, Clay Shaw, was indeed a CIA operative. The CIA hated Kennedy because in one of his executive orders, he issued a presidential directive to put the CIA under joint military and civilian control. In the wake of the bay of pigs fiasco, Kennedy threatened to seek detente with the USSR and Cuba, and "break the CIA into a thousand pieces." It is clear that the CIA knew Oswald pretty well, enough to be sending him money some months before November 1963; and other principals in the Garrison investigation had connections, as well. Jack Ruby may have helped the CIA run guns into Cuba on some trips there, and Guy Banister was with the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI), which often worked closely with the CIA. If there was a conspiracy to kill the President, then the CIA was almost surely part of it. Some "assassination researchers" have also found curious CIA links to the King and Robert Kennedy, Jr. slayings, as well, where there are some hints of suspicious activity.

The CIA rarely dirties its own hands with something as messy and jeopardizing as assassination. Often, mercenaries and contract agents are maintained for such actions. When the CIA does get personally involved, it tries to make the death of the victim appear to be as much of an 'accident' as possible, through the use of poisons and other 'invisible' techniques. Weapons training of all kinds is standard for field operatives, but the best of the black ops are trained in the more subtle means of killing. The preferred method for killing foreign leaders is to get their own countrymen to pull off the execution - then the CIA can attempt to wash its hands of the whole matter. Thus, the CIA trains, advises, and equips many of the paramilitary 'death squads' of El Salvador and Guatemala, while claiming to have nothing to do with them. There are often very few international inquiries into the deaths of guerilla leaders, no matter how suspicious the circumstances...


The Search for the Manchurian Candidate: Mind Control Research

Ostensibly, the agency began its MKULTRA project with the search for nothing more than the perfect truth serum. Such a drug would set intelligence light years ahead, and deal with the headaches posed by defectors, spies, and double agents. In its quest for The "Truth Drug", the CIA would use in the 1950s just about every chemical that the counterculture would turn to a decade later - Albert Hoffman's LSD, Gordon Wasson's 'Magic Mushroom' psilocybin, and marijuana. It was thought that such drugs could 'destabilize' the personality enough to elicit confessions or even whole changes of belief structures (deprogramming.) Then came the revelations from Korea of American soldiers producing taped confessions renouncing "the wars of imperialist regimes" and their citizenship. A Miami Herald article written by a CIA disinformant attempted to solve the mystery of how red-blooded American boys could turn against their country. And it coined a new word taken from a Korean translation: "brainwashing."

The CIA had always used the same methods of coercion as the KGB: sexual entrapment; blacklisting; 'framing' people for uncommitted crimes; or outright physical torture. But there was no foolproof method for assuring that confessions were true; no polygraph test was 100% certain, and even then the information could be 'planted.' Along with the technological supremacy of the United States came a belief in the omnipotence of science. So the CIA was eager to test the powers of technology in new realms. Spy sattelites and electronic bugs were great information gatherers. But the realm of 'human intelligence' still demanded more innovations. Further, new chemical agents could facilitate covert warfare: the CIA thought that "dusting" a crowd with LSD could pacify them; and they experimented with other drugs that might alter the emotions, including the hallucinogen BZ which created paranoid delusions and rage toward the nearest people. In a paramilitary situation, use of such tactics could be devastating.

For a while, the CIA thought that LSD might be the ultimate Spook Drug. They tested it on unsuspecting army privates; put it in the food of federal prisoners; gave it to people visiting prostitutes in hotel rooms; (while watching from behind a see-through two-way mirror in the next room - Operation Twilight Climax) and even put in drinking water, 'just to see what would happen.' Methods of delivery were often comical: such as the time when they tried to spray a convention of foreign dignitaries with an LSD aerosol, with little success (it dissipated too quickly.) Eventually, they found it too 'unpredictable,' but one maverick agent, Ronald Stark, may have been instrumental in getting LSD onto the street black market, and thence making it a staple for the 'counterculture' of the period. Martin A. Lee and Norman O. Solomon note the curious cultural politics of LSD in their recent book, and point out the curious connection of the CIA to some of the early acid gurus at Millbrook.

It is always the case in the echelons of national security that when the enemy is believed to have a capability that it becomes a priority to beat them to the punch. Hence, the CIA attempted to create its own Manchurian Candidate, someone who could literally be 'reprogrammed' to kill Communist leaders or even have his ideology and loyalty switched. In its search for mind control, the CIA found willing allies in the academic behaviorist psychological establishment. Tired of controlling salivating dogs, running rats, and flying pigeons, the behaviorists were beginnning to look into the possibility of controlling human behavior. J.B. Watson and his successor B.F. Skinner looked toward a Clockwork Orange world where antisocial behavior could be completely eliminated. Delgado impressed the world by stopping a bull in its tracks with a pair of electrodes and a handheld transmitter; what was on everybody's minds was... what next?

The head of the American Psychological Association, a behaviorist named Donald Cameron, was internationally recognized for his work in 'psychic driving'. He was searching for a technique of wiping the mind 'clean', making it a tabula rasa , so that new beliefs could be implanted. Originally he was only interested in using this technique to 'cure' the mentally ill. But the CIA's head of TSS (Technical Support Services), Sid Gottlieb, saw other possibilities, as did his colleague Morse Allen. Cameron used a variety of techniques ranging from sensory deprivation (also taken up eagerly by countercultural figures, including John Lilly) to electroshock, hallucinogens, isolation, and bombardment by radiofrequency waves, to 'treat' his subjects. The CIA could provide Cameron with what he was lacking: subjects. People from marginal sectors of society like prisoners, drug addicts, prostitutes, the homeless, and deviants. It was assumed that these people had nowhere to turn to and were the least possible security risk.

The irony of medical torture being used to assist a regime was not lost on Cameron's colleagues, such as neurologist William Sargant, who still remembered the Hippocratic Oath, and the statements of the Nazi doctors at the Nuremberg trials. Cameron also was unable to provide the success that the Agency wanted: he could lobotomize his patients and turn them into virtual zombies, but he couldn't manage to return them as functioning members of society with new personalities. The human spirit just remained too damn slippery for the Scottish doctor. In the post-Kennedy shakeup of 1964, Cameron lost his MKULTRA funding. LSD had slipped out of the hands of the controllers and into the uncontrollable rebellious hippies. The Agency saw the need to practice damage control in a new post-Dulles era.

MKULTRA was renamed MKSearch and placed under the control of ORD (Operations Research & Development.) The new agenda became more focused on direct brain stimulation and hypnosis. Neurologist Wilder Penfield showed that patients could recall vividly past memories when areas of their brain were stimulated. What, the Agency wondered, could they achieve if they could use electrical stimulation of the brain to cause a man to hallucinate that his beloved leader was his worst enemy? Could hypnosis create a 'sleeper' who could be 'activated' to carry out a mission five years down the road after being 'triggered' by a word or signal and perform it with no recall of his action? These experiments also met with highly limited success. A Cuban exile was hypnotized and told he would kill Castro when he heard the word "cigar." Before being brought out of the trance, he was told Castro was in the room. The hypnotist then said the word "cigar." The Cuban politely replied, "Sorry, I don't smoke." The Cuban dictator would survive yet another attempt to rub him out.

Perhaps in desperation, in the 1970s the Agency would turn to the occult. Telepaths were asked to try and read minds and even place suggestions into them. Clairvoyants and fortunetellers were consulted for their usability in intelligence-gathering. Palmists and phrenologists were asked for their techniques of personality assessment. Could easily controllable people be found by their palms? One project even looked into the links between eye color and mental illness. Victims of multiple-personality disorder or those claiming to be 'spirit possessed' were studied. In the Vacaville prison, famous for its detention of Prof. Timothy Leary, weird experiments were performed with altered consciousness which made even the king of 'trippers' worry. The Devil was alive and well and working in Langeley.

The Doping of America: The CIA and the Drug Trade

During the same period of its LSD experiments, it was well known that the CIA was involved with the drug merchants of the 'Golden Triangle' who were smuggling in much of the United States' heroin supply. Some opium was also entering the U.S. from Pakistan and Afghanistan, where the CIA at the least turned a "blind eye" toward the drug trade. The CIA has never stopped looking the other way when drug dealers have had the right politics - they also had connections with the Medellin cocaine cartel in the early 80s, who at the time where providing information on the Communist insurgency in the region. While the DEA was busy busting narco-traffickers, the CIA often kept many of them (such as General Manuel Noriega) on its payroll. Many insurgent groups supported by the CIA - including RENAMO, the Contras, and the Afghan mujaheddin - engaged in drug trafficking with the U.S., to pay for U.S.-built arms and materiel. There is some evidence to suggest that the CIA may have even been flying in the drugs for them, on their return flights to the U.S. (!) The fact that many of the 'freelance' mercenaries employed by the agency (a la Soldier of Fortune) often "part-time" to train the private security forces of the traffickers is not a complete coincidence.

But the CIA, while undermining the official policy of the DEA through its own covert policy, never lost sight of the propaganda value of the War on Drugs. That "war" allowed a much more open use of military force in Latin American countries such as Peru and Colombia, where there was virtual 'civil war' between the narco-traffickers and the government. However, the American 'foreign policy establishment' tried to portray a different picture, suggesting that it was the guerillas and rebels in those countries - such as the Shining Path or other Marxist groups - that were doing the trafficking, with the complicity of countries such as Nicaragua and Cuba, who allowed overflights of drug-bearing planes. Rather than going after the big cartels and their processing plants, the CIA has often cooperated with the Peruvian army to go after coca-growing peasant villages, suspected of being hotbeds of 'subversive' activity. It is entirely possible that many revolutionary groups are engaged in the drug trade, but the lion's share comes in from the vast organizations and distribution networks created by the drug cartel heads, many of whom are former important "agribusiness" leaders who got support from the CIA-backed Agency of International Development (AID).

One might wonder, of course, why the CIA, which is so concerned with the subversive effects of foreign influences on our great nation, assists other countries to ply their drug trade here. The answer is chilling, but any inner-city resident can tell you why: crack in in the 'hood keeps the poor killing each other (the incessant 'gang wars' over drug turf) rather than going after their real enemies - "divide and conquer." You can't demand your rights or freedoms when you're enslaved to drugs, or think about your oppression when you're strung out on crack. Many radical black groups, such as the Nation of Islam, call upon black youth to stay drug-free. It's not just for silly moralistic purposes, a la "Just Say No." They realize that drugs are a tool of the shadow government to keep people in the inner-city down and out, and also that the "War on Drugs" gives government an excuse to throw our civil liberties out the window and use police-state tactics to fight the 'drug epidemic' their own CIA brought here.

In the Name of Democracy: Covert Operations and Interventions

The CIA has never had a problem with overthrowing democratically elected governments, especially when they democratically decide to do something that the Agency considers not to be in the U.S.'s interests. Michael Manley in Jamaica, Salvador Allende in Chile, and Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala were three leaders overthrown by CIA-led insurgencies. The CIA has also provided covert support for rebel groups such as RENAMO in Mozambique, the Contras in Nicaragua, the Afghan mujaheddin , the Kurds in Iraq, and the Inkatha Zulu party in South Africa. The current president of Nicaragua, Violeta Chamorro, was also on the CIA payroll when she was publishing La Prensa , urging her people to overthrow the Sandinistas. Many of the paramilitary coup d'etats in South America were supported by the CIA, including the takeover by the generals in Paraguay and Argentina. The CIA also supported some 30,000 Meo tribe mercenaries in Laos in the 1960s, as well as other soldiers of fortune, to destabilize the existing regime. Of course, the CIA has done their best to tamper with undemocratic governments as well, but with less success - agents of the CIA were wandering through Tibet in the 1950s, doing their best in whip the Tibetans into a bloody revolt against the Chinese. And several unsuccessful invasions of Cuba have been attempted in the wake of the original Bay of Pigs Fiasco, by CIA-armed Cuban exile brigades such as Alpha 66.

But overt, naked, military force can often jeopardize the CIA, especially when it fails and their role in the action stands revealed. For that reason, they often utilize more 'subtle' methods to destabilize governments. They have stuck their fingers in many elections and 'rigged' them to produce a more 'beneficial' result. To make governments more unopopular with their people, they have also used economic sabotage - they tried to ruin a whole years' sugar crop from Cuba by coating it with an unpalatable substance; and for years in East Germany they attempted to sour milk, disrupt mining activity, sabotage factories, and ruin other productive industries. Another technique is to use propraganda and disinformation - they spread false stories about the regime, especially here in the U.S. and the presses of its allies, in the hope that other nations will stop trading with the country. The CIA also uses techniques to reduce the charisma and appeal of foreign (especially revolutionary/anti-US) leaders - at one point, they tried to make the beard of Fidel Castro fall out, as if that was somehow the source of some Samson-like power for him!

That is their "negative" policy. But when they want to support pro-capitalist or pro-United States political parties, they often use other techniques. They provide "political advice and counsel," which we might call "spin doctoring" here in the U.S., to make those parties more palatable. Sometimes they give financial assistance to those parties covertly, or subsidies to important individuals. Other times they try and support private organizations like trade unions, business firms, and "think tanks" that are willing to 'lobby' for better relations with the U.S. Occasionally there is even "private" training and coaching of opposition leaders here in the United States, and carefully crafted exchange programs. Many of the organizations who exist ostensibly to aid and support democracy and development in the Third World - like the Foundation for Democracy - are CIA fronts who really support anti-communist regimes, even if they are basically undemocratic and under military rule. Pro-U.S. regimes like ARENA in El Salvador and the PRI Nationalist Party of Mexico often receive "technical" assistance from the CIA in managing the affairs of their country - especially as regards 'unruly' peasants and the possibility of insurrection.

The irony of using undemocratic means to 'protect democracy' has not been lost on many commentators. In many cases, the leftist leaders overthrown by the CIA were elected in fair and popular elections, and were not even inclined to allowing Soviet hemispheric ambitions into their country; but the CIA did not believe that, and certainly tried to convince others that that was a real danger. The CIA feels it has some god-given right, somehow, to interfere with the affairs of other nations; while at the same time supposedly carrying out its mission of blocking such infiltrations right here at home. How would the American people react if they found out that the KGB was interfering in our democracy? They shouldn't cry foul, then, when countries protest when the CIA does the same thing in trampling on their national sovereignty. While the Peace Corps was trying to nudge the Third World toward a pro-U.S. attitude, the CIA was doing its best to turn them into the other camp by playing the "ugly American."


President Harry S. Truman's Secret Government ~ Part 2

Steve Mizrach - October 19, 2006 - posted at

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Submitted by SadInAmerica on Sun, 04/13/2008 - 12:02pm.