excerpted from the book
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
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
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
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
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
In Vietnam, the Agency conducted the gamut of operations-political,
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.