from the book
The CIAs Greatest Hits
by Mark Zepezauer
In April 1967, a Greek election campaign
was about to begin. The candidate favored to win the election
was George Papandreou, a staunch anticommunist. His son Andreas
was a bit more left-wing, an admirer of subversives like Hubert
Humphrey and Adlai Stevenson. Both the Papandreous, however, were
a bit too independent for US policymakers.
Andreas Papandreou had mused publicly
about steering a more neutral course for Greece in the Cold War.
He also had some misgivings-correct ones, as it turned out-about
the autocratic nature of certain elements in the Greek military.
George Papandreou had previously served
as prime minister, but had been removed from power in 1965 by
the king, with the assistance of the CIA. Like his son, he showed
signs of less than complete subservience to US interests.
Two days before the election campaign
was to begin, a group of colonels overthrew the government and
established military rule. The leader of the coup had been on
the CIA payroll for the previous fifteen years
For the next six years, martial law held
sway in the birthplace of democracy. Widespread censorship, routine
use of torture, brutal beatings and killings by the government
became standard. Among the offenses deemed worthy of torture was
possession of leaflets critical of the government. While being
tortured, victims were taunted that they were beyond all help,
since the colonels were supported by the power of the United States.
The official justification for the coup
and the hideous repression that followed was that they were necessary
to save the nation from a communist takeover. The Papandreous
weren't communists, of course, but they were something much more
dangerous committed, independent nationalists.
The US attitude toward that breed is made
clear by the following quote: When the Greek ambassador objected
to President Johnson's plan for settling a dispute concerning
Cyprus, LBJ told him, "Fuck your parliament and your constitution.
America is an elephant. Cyprus is a flea. Greece is a flea. If
these two fleas continue itching the elephant, they may just get
whacked by the elephant's trunk, whacked good....If your prime
minister gives me talk about democracy, parliament and constitutions,
he, his parliament and his constitution may not last very long."