excerpted from the book

Deadly Deceits

by Ralph McGehee

Ocean Press, 1999

(originally published 1983)


In 1949 ... mainland fell, the Chinese Nationalist forces and camp followers had been evacuated to Taiwan by the American Navy. Once on the island, they had used their American-supplied weapons to dominate the more numerous Taiwanese-one Chinese to every seven or eight Taiwanese. In fact, the Generalissimo in the early days was able to maintain his authority only with extensive repressive measures. All of this at the time seemed to escape my attention and the attention of my colleagues at the station... We realized that we had isolated ourselves from the Taiwanese people, but the constant partying and the good company kept us from worrying much about the problem.

Driving home from the party in a caravan of cars, dressed up in our costumes, sipping champagne out of fancy crystal glassware, we passed by the hovels of the Taiwanese people. I looked inside one tin shanty and saw several people in virtual rags huddling over a charcoal fire. My eyes met those of a young man. He stared uncomprehendingly out at me, while I looked through him. We seemed people from two different worlds-one of affluence, comfort, dedicated to having fun; the other of grimy poverty, where it was a struggle to stay alive. Over the years I have thought of that moment and wondered how we in the CIA could ever have expected to understand what was happening in a foreign country when we existed in such a rarefied world, cut off from those we ostensibly were there to help.

As in the previous ten years, covert operations dominated the Agency in the decade of the 1960s. It was employing all of the techniques of covert action, including disinformation, to accomplish policy goals. A dramatic surge in paramilitary activities in support of counterinsurgency programs was occurring in Laos and Vietnam.

In the 1960s Cold War attitudes continued to shape foreign policy. In the early part of the decade, according to the Church Committee, an expansive foreign policy, exemplified by the invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs, reflected American confidence and determination. The following confrontation with the Soviet Union over the installation of missiles and the rapidly escalating paramilitary activities in Southeast Asia drew the Agency into these major developments.

The DDP functioned as a highly compartmentalized organization with a small cadre responsible for and knowledgeable of selected operations. This ethos helped foster the development of such operations as assassination plots against foreign leaders.

The 1960s saw the emergence of revolutionary movements in Southeast Asia and Africa. United States policymakers called for the development of counterinsurgency programs to fight this challenge without precipitating a major Soviet-American military confrontation. To implement its responsibilities in this field, the Agency developed a network of worldwide paramilitary capabilities, and these assets consumed major portions of the Agency's budget.

The period between 1964 and 1967 was the most active era for covert operations: political action, propaganda, international organizations, and paramilitary.

With the development of an extensive weave of far-flung paramilitary infrastructures, the Agency implemented covert operations in Laos and Cuba and expanded the ongoing effort in Vietnam. The failure at the Bay of Pigs was followed by a series of other operations directed at Cuba. Those operations so aggressive and extensive, it led one Agency official to state: "We were at war with Cuba."

As in the decade of the 1950s this 10-year period saw the implementation of hundreds of covert operations each year with primary attention given to operations in Asia, Latin America, a growing endeavor in Africa, a continuing program in the Middle East, a somewhat reduced effort in Europe, and burgeoning illegal internal U.S. operational program.

* Southeast Asia. The Agency's large-scale involvement in Southeast Asia continued in Laos and Vietnam. "In Laos," wrote the Church Committee, "the Agency implemented air supply and paramilitary training programs, which gradually developed into full-scale management of a ground war." The CIA recruited and trained a private army of at least 30,000 Hmong and other Laotian tribesmen. This group was known as L'Armee Clandestine. Pilots hired by the CIA flew supply and bombing missions in CIA-owned planes in support of the secret army. Expenditures by the U.S. to assist this army amounted to at least $300 million a year. Forty or 50 CIA officers ran this operation, aided by 17,000 Thai mercenaries.

In Vietnam, the Agency conducted the gamut of operations-political, paramilitary, psychological.

In Indonesia in 1965 a group of young military officers attempted a coup against the U.S.-backed military establishment and murdered six of seven top military officers. The Agency seized this opportunity to overthrow Sukarno and to destroy the Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI), which had three million members. ~s I wrote in The Nation) "Estimates of the number of deaths that occurred as a result of this CIA [one word deleted] operation run from one-half million to more than one million people.

"Initially, the Indonesian Army left the P.K.I. alone, since it had not been involved in the coup attempt... Subsequently however, Indonesian military leaders ... began a bloody extermination campaign. In mid-November 1965, General Suharto formally authorized the 'cleaning out' of the Indonesian Communist Party and established special teams to supervise the mass killings. Media fabrications played a key role in stirring up popular resentment against the P.K.I. Photographs of the


bodies of the dead generals-badly decomposed-were featured in all the newspapers and on television. Stories accompanying the pictures falsely claimed that the generals had been castrated and their eyes gouged out by Communist women. This cynically manufactured campaign was designed to foment public anger against the Communists and set the stage for a massacre.... To conceal its role in the massacre of those innocent people the C.I.A., in 1968, concocted a false account of what happened (later published by the Agency as a book, Indonesia-1965: The Coup that Backfired).... At the same time that the Agency wrote the book, it also composed a secret study of what really happened... The Agency was extremely proud of its successful [... ] and recommended it as a model for future operations ...

In Thailand in the 1960s the Agency continued its involvement with the Police Aerial Reconnaissance Unit and the Border Patrol Police. Those counterinsurgency forces then supplied much of the manpower for the secret war in Laos. The CIA also developed a series of internal security and counterinsurgency programs jointly with Thai security forces.

In Cambodia the CIA played a role in the coup that toppled the government of Prince Norodom Sihanouk in 1970, which paved the way for the U.S. military invasion of that country in the spring of 1970.

* Latin America. Many Agency operations in Latin America in the 1960s centered around Cuba and removing Fidel Castro's government. Prior to the invasion of Cuba by CIA-trained Cuban exiles in April 1961, the CIA attempted to assassinate Castro. The Agency enlisted the help of Mafia figures to arrange his murder. The first attempt to kill Castro was made in early 1961. Five more assassination teams were sent against the Cuban leader in the next two years.

A CIA-trained force of Cuban exiles made an unsuccessful invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs in mid-April 1961. Four Americans flying CIA planes and nearly 300 Cuban exiles died during the invasion. More than 1,200 survivors were captured by Castro's forces.

The Guatemalan President, Miguel Ydigoras Fuentes, successor to Castillo-Armas, had permitted the CIA to use his country for its training camp for Cuban exiles. In November 1960 a rebellion broke out in Guatemala. The CIA secretly came to the aid of Fuentes and sent in B-26 bombers against the rebels. The insurgency was crushed and Fuentes remained in power.

Beginning in 1961 the Agency conducted operations to bring down the regime of President Jose Velasco Ibarra of Ecuador after he refused to sever diplomatic relations with Cuba. Ibarra was overthrown in November 1961. His successor, Carlos Julio Arosemena, soon fell out of favor with the United States and once again the CIA used destabilizing tactics to overthrow his government in July 1963.

In 1964 the CIA, with the cooperation of the Agency for International Development and the State Department, secretly funneled up to $20 million into Chile to aid Eduardo Frei in his successful bid to defeat Salvador Allende for the Presidency. Failing to block Allende's election to the Presidency in 1970, the CIA directed a destabilization campaign of economic and political warfare which led to the 1973 military coup that toppled Allende.

In British Guiana, according to a report by the Center for National Security Studies, the "CIA funded strikes and riots that crippled Guiana in 1962 and 1963, and led to overthrow of [Cheddi] Jagan's governing People's Progressive Party. CIA funneled its secret payments that placed Forbes Bumham in power through the AFL-CIO and AFSCME."

In Brazil, the CIA funded unsuccessful candidates in opposition to President Joao Goulart, who had moved to expropriate International Telephone and Telegraph subsidiaries and maintain relations with Cuba. The CIA then orchestrated, continued the report, "anti-government operations by labor, military, and middle-class groups, including courses in 'labor affairs' in Washington, D.C." The resultant coup in 1964 established a military dictatorship in power.

During the mid-1960s the Agency secretly aided the government of Peru in its fight against rebel guerrilla forces. The Agency flew in arms and other equipment. Local Peruvian troops were trained by personnel of the special operations division of the CIA as well as by Green Beret instructors loaned by the U.S. Army.

In Bolivia, the CIA gave assistance to government soldiers in 1967 in their successful effort to track down and capture Earnest "Che" Guevara, the Cuban revolutionary leader. Guevara was captured on October 8, 1967 by CIA-advised Bolivian rangers. He was murdered shortly thereafter.

In Uruguay, the CIA manipulated politics throughout the 1960s, pressuring the government to accept an AID police training mission which provided cover for CIA case officers. Their job: to secretly finance and train local police and intelligence services.

* Africa. "In the early 1960s the decolonization of Africa sparked an increase in the scale of CIA clandestine activities on that continent," wrote the Church Committee. "CIA actions paralleled growing interest on the part of the State Department and the Kennedy Administration in the 'third world countries.' . . . Prior to 1960, Africa had been included in the European or Middle Eastern Division. In that year it became a separate division. Stations sprang up all over the continent. Between 1959 and 1963 the number of CIA stations in Africa increased by 55.5%.

In Angola in 1960 the CIA recruited Holden Roberto, the leader of one of the Angolan groups. In 1975 the CIA supported two factions in the civil war in Angola against the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), spending millions of dollars on ammunition, air support, and mercenaries.

In the early 1960s the CIA became involved in the political struggle in the Congo. In 1960 the CIA planned to assassinate Patrice Lumumba, the Congolese leader, and in fact worked with the African dissidents who murdered him in 1961. The Agency paid cash to selected Congolese politicians and gave arms to the supporters of Joseph Mobutu and Cyril Adoula. Eventually the CIA sent mercenaries and paramilitary experts to aid the new government. In 1964, CIA B-26 airplanes were being flown in the Congo on a regular basis by Cuban-exile pilots who were under CIA contract. Those pilots and planes carried out bombing missions against areas held by rebel forces.

In South Africa the CIA worked closely with BOSS, the South African secret police. By 1975 the Agency was secretly collaborating with the South African government in the Angolan civil war.

* United States. Illegal CIA operations in the United States in the 1960s continued to utilize the funding, corporate, and press mechanisms established during the preceding decade. But this era saw the beginning of the exposure of some of its internal U.S. operations. One of the earliest revelations was a 1967 Ramparts magazine article, which exposed CIA funding of private voluntary organizations that had begun in the 1950s. "The revelations resulted in President Johnson's appointment of a three-person committee to examine the CIA's covert funding of American educational and private voluntary organizations operating abroad," wrote the Church Committee. "Chaired by the Under Secretary of State, Nicholas Katzenbach, the Committee included DCI Richard Helms and Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, John Gardner.... The Katzenbach Committee recommended that no federal agency provide covert financial assistance to American educational and voluntary institutions.... Although the CIA complied with the strict terms of the Katzenbach guidelines, funding and contact arrangements were realigned so that overseas activities could continue with little reduction."

In this decade the CIA was initiating many internal U.S. operations while continuing those started in the prior decade. Following the Bay of Pigs invasion of 1961, Cuban exiles were directed and paid by CIA agents to compile secret files on and watch over other Cubans and Americans "who associated with individuals under surveillance." By the late 1960s such activities were being supported by the CIA in several key American cities, including Los Angeles, New York, and San Juan. It was estimated that at the height of these activities, roughly 150 informants were on the payroll of a Cuban "counterintelligence" office located in Florida.

E. Howard Hunt, a former CIA agent, stated that in 1964 during his tenure with the CIA's domestic operations division he was ordered to arrange for the pick-up, on a daily basis, of "any and all information" that might be available at Senator Barry Goldwater's presidential campaign headquarters. Hunt said that the documents obtained about Goldwater were delivered to Chester L. Cooper, a White House aide who had worked for the CIA.

In 1966, 1969, and 1971, the CIA conducted three separate domestic break-ins into the premises occupied by CIA employees or ex-employees. All three entries were made, according to the CIA, because it believed that security concerns warranted such actions.

Following the revelation in 1967 that the CIA had subsidized the National Student Association (NSA), it was disclosed that the CIA had funded other labor, business, church, university, and cultural organizations through a variety of foundation conduits. It was estimated that at least $12.4 million had been secretly spent in this manner by the CIA.

On August 15,1967, Richard Helms set up a unit (Operation CHAOS) within the counterintelligence office of the Agency "to look into the possibility of foreign links to American dissident elements." This unit "periodically thereafter" drew up reports "on the foreign aspects of the antiwar, youth and similar movements, and their possible links to American counterparts. "

Documents released in early 1979 by the CIA as the result of a lawsuit indicate that the Agency's Operation CHAOS, contrary to earlier accounts contained in reports of government committees, infiltrated political groups in the United States in order to collect purely domestic information. The documents also reveal a number of aspects of CHAOS and related programs not reported by the Church Committee, including: "that the Agency investigated domestic political groups as much as five years before the initiation of CHAOS, that Operation CHAOS collected information on prominent Americans including Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Bella Abzug, and Ronald Dellums, that CHAOS information was preserved and continued to be used after the termination of CHAOS in 1974, that the program was for several years assigned highest operational priority, ranking with intelligence collection on the Soviet Union and China...."

According to William Colby, the CIA's office of security "inserted 10 agents into dissident organizations operating in the Washington, D.C., area" in 1967 in order to collect "information relating to plans for demonstrations, pickets, protests, or break-ins that might endanger CIA personnel, facilities, and information."

The propensity to operate illegally within the United States continued into the 1970s. In 1970 CIA director Richard Helms joined with others in recommending to President Nixon "an integrated approach to the coverage of domestic unrest," which came to be known as the Huston Plan. After the Huston Plan was rescinded, the CIA "recruited or inserted about a dozen individuals into American dissident circles" in order to secure "access to foreign circles." It was believed that in this manner these individuals would "establish their credentials for operations abroad." In the course of their work some of these individuals "submitted reports on the activities of the American dissidents with whom they were in contact." This information was kept in CIA files and reported to the FBI.

In 1971 and 1972 the CIA employed physical surveillance against "five Americans who were not CIA employees," The Washington Post reported. This was done because the CIA had "clear indications" that the five were receiving classified information "without authorization." It was hoped that the surveillance would "identify the sources of the leaks." A secret Senate memorandum indicated that three of the five subjects were columnist Jack Anderson, Washington Post reporter Michael Getler, and author Victor Marchetti.

In 1971 and 1972 the Agency secretly provided training to about 12 county and city police forces in the United States on the detection of wire taps, the organization of intelligence files, and the handling of explosives. The training program, involving less than 50 policemen, was reported to have included representatives from the police forces of New York City, Washington, D.C., Boston, Chicago, Fairfax County, Virginia, and Montgomery County, Maryland.

Deadly Deceits

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