Gung Ho!

Japan and the Philippines

excerpted from the book

Deadly Deceits

by Ralph McGehee

Ocean Press, 1999

(originally published 1983)



... the CIA is the covert action arm of the Presidency. Most of its money, manpower, and energy go into covert operations that, as we have seen over the years, include backing dictators and overthrowing democratically elected governments. The CIA is not an intelligence agency. In fact, it acts largely as an anti-intelligence agency, producing only that information wanted by policymakers to support their plans and suppressing information that does not support those plans. As the covert action arm of the President, the CIA uses disinformation, much of it aimed at the U.S. public, to mold opinion. It employs the gamut of disinformation techniques from forging documents to planting and discovering "communist" weapons caches. But the major weapon in its arsenal of disinformation is the "intelligence" it feeds to policymakers. Instead of gathering genuine intelligence that could serve as the basis for reasonable policies, the CIA often ends up distorting reality, creating out of whole cloth "intelligence" to justify policies that have already been decided upon. Policymakers then leak this "intelligence" to the media to deceive us all and gain our support...

Gung Ho!

The most revealing test we had to take was the personality/intelligence test. The Agency used this test to identify the basic Externalized, Regulated, Adaptive individual - the ERA personality-that it prefers to hire. Years later I was able to get a copy of the test. If you read it carefully, you begin to see that the strengths and weaknesses of the CIA start with the selection of its people.

Basically, the test analyzes three different aspects of personality-intellectual, procedural, and social. In the intellectual mode the Agency is looking for an externalizer rather than an internalizer. This individual is active, more interested in doing than thinking. He must exert considerable effort when compelled to work with ideas, to be self-sufficient, or to control his natural tendencies towards activity. He is practical and works by "feel" or by trial and error. In the procedural mode, the Agency prefers a rigid (regulated) person to a flexible one. This person can react only to a limited number of specific, well-defined stimuli. Such a person learns by rote because he does not insist upon perspective. He is psychologically insulated and his awareness is restricted, making him self-centered and insensitive to others. In the social mode the Agency wants the adaptive rather than the uniform individual. He is magnetic, charming, captivating, a person who moves easily in a variety of situations. He has an awareness of and the ability to express conventional or proper feelings, whether they happen to be his true feelings or not. He is chameleon-like, for he tends to be all things to all people and has the ability to spot weaknesses in others and use these to his advantage.

According to this personality portrait, the CIA wants active, charming, obedient people who can get things done in the social world but have limited perspective and understanding, who see things in black and white and don't like to think too much. The personnel selection process the CIA has set up has its advantages, of course, but it also has disadvantages. It tends to reject those who have perspective, those who can see subtleties, those who think before they act, those who remain true to themselves no matter what the outside social pressures.


The Agency, it seemed, liked to recruit football players for its "burn and bang" paramilitary operations because football players liked the active life and were not overly intellectual. Many of the rest of the PMers had either military backgrounds or some special talent needed for paramilitary activities.

In accordance with the DDP's mission at the time-primarily paramilitary activities in Korea and Communist China and in Eastern Europe-our group was trained in all aspects of working in and with local resistance movements: parachuting, clandestine radio communications, map reading, survival, explosives, escape and evasion, small unit tactics, and the genteel art of killing silently.

Japan and the Philippines

One marital problem had immediately sprung up when I joined the Agency-the restrictions of secrecy. As soon as I was hired, I signed the secrecy agreement. It said, among other things: "I do solemnly swear that I will never divulge, publish or reveal either by word, conduct or any other means such classified information, intelligence or knowledge, except in the performance of my official duties and in accordance with the laws of the United States, unless specifically authorized in writing in each case by the Director of Central Intelligence.' I honored this agreement to the nth degree and refused to tell Norma any more than was absolutely necessary. It was as if a wedge had been driven between us, and I worried what to do.

I felt that I could not discuss my work with my wife because it was both illegal to do so and, according to authorities, a threat to national security. In addition to not telling what I was doing, I had refused to tell our parents what agency I was really working for. This kind of secrecy disturbed both Norma and me. We were just as upset that we had to lie constantly to our neighbors and friends. The most normal question, after all, was "Where do you work?" We had found it easier back in Cherrydale not to get too friendly with neighbors because it was impossible to sustain the cover that I worked for the [two words deleted]. As a consequence we had slowly restricted our contacts to Agency friends. This was our first experience of the self-imposed isolation that allowed Agency employees to lose touch with the viewpoints and the information shared by the broader American population, whose interests we supposedly represented.

It was only many years later that I learned that the Agency in the decade of the 1950s, reacting to a perceived threat from monolithic international communism, had conducted hundreds of covert operations around the world. That period saw a concentration both on operations and development of the infrastructure necessary to implement those activities, including funding mechanisms, proprietary companies, airlines, and media organizations. Within the Agency the international organizations division was coordinating an extensive propaganda effort aimed at developing an international anti-communist ideology. According to the U.S. Senate's Church Committee report of 1976, "The Division's activities included operations to assist or to create international organizations for youth, students, teachers, workers, veterans, journalists, and jurists. This kind of activity was an attempt to lay an intellectual foundation for anti-communism around the world. Ultimately, the organizational underpinnings could serve as a political force in assuring the establishment or maintenance of democratic governments.

The influence and power of the Agency increased greatly after the election of President Eisenhower, who had come to power based in part on his pledge to lift the Iron Curtain. Eisenhower appointed Allen Dulles as director of the CIA and John Foster Dulles, his brother, as Secretary of State. The triumvirate of Eisenhower and the Dulles brothers gave the Agency immense power not only to conduct operations but also to formulate foreign policy. Allen Dulles was an activist, totally absorbed in covert operations, who ignored the Agency's intelligence-gathering and coordination functions. "With the Soviet Union and communist parties as the targets the Agency concentrated on developing anti-Communist political strength," wrote the Church Committee. "Financial support to individual candidates, subsidies to publications including newspapers and magazines, involvement in local and national labor unions-all of these interlocking elements constituted the fundamentals of a typical political action program. Elections, of course, were key operations, and the Agency involved itself in electoral politics on a continuing basis."

"Geographically the order of priorities," the report noted, "was Western Europe, the Far East, and Latin America. With the Soviets in Eastern Europe and Communist parties still active in France and Italy, Europe appeared to be the area most vulnerable to Communist encroachments. The CIA Station in West Berlin was the center of CIA operations against Eastern Europe and the German Branch of the European Division was the Agency's largest single country component.

Here, by region, is a brief summary of some of the Agency's operations in the 1950s, most of which I knew nothing about at the time.

* Eastern Europe. The Agency was sponsoring various intelligence-collection missions and resistance movements aimed at the countries of Eastern Europe. It established Radio Free Europe to broadcast to Eastern European countries and Radio Liberty aimed at the Soviet Union. The combined budgets of the two stations amounted to between $30 million and $35 million annually. Beginning in 1950 the Agency funded the Congress of Cultural Freedom, a private cultural organization which ultimately received more than $1 million. The Agency also was in contact with a resistance movement in the Soviet Ukraine. In the early 1950s it was providing men, gold, and military and communications equipment to the Polish Freedom Movement. This support only ceased when Polish security announced that it controlled the movement. Beginning in 1950, the CIA in a joint operation with the British also organized efforts to overthrow the Enver Hoxha government of Albania.

All of these attempts achieved little and the CIA for a period seemed to slow its efforts to lift the Iron Curtain. In late 1956, however, it reinitiated those operations and laid plans for uprisings in Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Rumania. Radio Free Europe assured Eastern European audiences of United States backing for their liberation aspirations at the same time that CIA groups, called Red Sox/Red Cap, were being infiltrated into those nations' capitals to make plans with the "freedom fighters" to throw off the "yoke of communism." In fact, neither the external nor the internal support was as promised, and the Hungarian freedom Fighters' call to fight communism was answered by Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, who ordered Soviet forces into Budapest on November 4, 1956. Up to 32,000 people were killed, more than 170,000 fled the country, and Janos Kadar, sponsored by the U.S.S.R., became the First secretary of the ruling Hungarian Workers Party.

General Lucian Truscott, the CIA's deputy director for "community affairs," evaluated the failure and ongoing plans to try again in Czechoslovakia. He concluded that if allowed to proceed, the Agency's plans would raise "the prospect of a general war in Europe to an intolerable level."

* Western Europe. In this area in the 1950s the "CIA subsidized political parties, individual leaders, labor unions, and other groups.... Millions of secret dollars were being poured into both Socialist and anti-communist parties in Portugal, France, West Germany, among others. In Italy, especially, the CIA was beginning covert financing of the Christian Democratic Party "with payments averaging as high as three million dollars a year. . .

* Far East. Here the Agency was conducting the gamut of operations. According to the Church Committee, "The outbreak of the Korean War [in 1950] significantly altered the nature of OPC's the Office of Policy Coordination, the predecessor of the Directorate for Plans, paramilitary activities as well as the organization's overall size and capability. Between fiscal year 1950 and fiscal year 1951, OPC's personnel strength jumped from 584 to 1531. Most of that growth took place in paramilitary activities in the Far East.... The Korean War established OPC's and CIA's jurisdiction in the Far East and created the basic paramilitary capability that the Agency employed for twenty years. By 1953, the elements of that capability were 'in place'-aircraft, amphibious craft, and an experienced group of personnel. For the next quarter century paramilitary activities remained the major CIA covert activity in the Far East."

In Korea itself, of course, the Agency was training and infiltrating hundreds of South Korean paramilitary troops behind enemy lines. But its activities extended far beyond that country. In 1950, the Agency established a large cover structure on Taiwan known as Western Enterprises. It and one of the Agency's airlines, Civil Air Transport, were CIA vehicles for preparing and dropping teams of Chinese Nationalists on mainland China. The Agency sent two different types of teams-commando and resistance. Resistance teams were to parachute into China, contact dissident people there, and gradually build a viable resistance to Mao Tse-tung's government. Commandos usually were sent in via small boats from the offshore island of Quemoy, later famous as a subject of the Kennedy-Nixon debates of 1960. Their mission was to attack and destroy key installations on the mainland. Word of these operations began to leak out after two Americans, Thomas Downey and Richard Fecteau, were shot down in 1952 on a mission over the mainland.

Though I was not aware of it, the Agency was at this time also supporting an attempt to invade Communist China. In 1949, when the Chinese Communists drove the Nationalists from the mainland, a force of Chinese Nationalists under General Li Mi had fled across the Yunnan border into Burma. They established themselves in Burma at sites near the Thai border. With the cooperation of the Thai government the Agency's airline, Civil Air Transport, began massive supply operations to those troops. The 200-man CIA structure in Thailand known as Sea Supply Company, is with its brother, Western Enterprises Company, undertook the logistical effort to build and outfit Li Mi's army.

In 1951, several thousand of General Li Mi's troops invaded Yunnan Province and were quickly defeated and driven out. The Agency, predicting that the peasants in Yunnan would rise up in opposition to Mao's government, readied another large invasion. Li Mi's troops augmented their own strength by recruiting 8,000 men from the indigenous hill tribes in Burma. The CIA shipped in another increment of about 1,000 crack Chinese Nationalist troops from Taiwan, and its airline began regular shuttle flights to bases and camps in Burma, using Thai airstrips for refueling and resupply. In August 1952 this army invaded Yunnan, reaching into the province up to 60 miles. Once again the peasants did not rise up as predicted, and the army was driven out. General Li Mi gave up attempts to defeat China, established a quasi-independent state in Burma, and became involved in running the lucrative opium trade. In this endeavor he had the help of General Phao Siyanon of Thailand.

In Thailand, the Agency, via Sea Supply Company, threw its full support behind the political ambitions of General Phao, making him the strongest man in the country. In exchange he allowed the Agency to develop two Thai paramilitary organizations - the Police Aerial Reconnaissance Unit and the Border Patrol Police.

In the Philippines from 1950 through 1953, U.S. Air Force Colonel Edward Lansdale conducted a series of Agency operations to destroy the communist Huk insurgency. With a strong effort from the Agency, Philippine General Ramon Magsaysay not only successfully destroyed the Huks but also was elected President of the Philippines.

Following Colonel Lansdale's successes in the Philippines, the Agency in 1954 sent him to South Vietnam to help create the Diem regime. The burgeoning effort first to install the Catholic Ngo Dinh Diem in power and then to legitimize and extend his control over the rural Buddhist South Vietnamese was one of the Agency's most successful operations. It was not until years later, through the publication of the Pentagon Papers, that details of this operation became known. At about the same time it was installing Diem in the South, the CIA launched sabotage and guerrilla operations against North Vietnam.

In Indonesia in 1958, Agency B-26 bombers supported rebel units in the Celebes fighting to overthrow the government of President Achmed Sukarno, something that was not accomplished on this attempt but was achieved in 1965 by another Agency operation.

In 1959, the Agency began instigating the Tibetans to fight the Chinese. The Agency established a secret base at Camp Dale in Colorado and trained Tibetan guerrillas who were then infiltrated back into Tibet to fight. The Agency-trained guerrillas helped the Dalai Lama to flee.

The Agency's airline, Civil Air Transport, provided air support for many of these operations. Civil Air Transport, which flew mainly in the Far East, was one of the earliest of the various airlines the Agency developed over the years. The CIA at one point attempted to audit its widespread airline holdings. After a three-month investigation it could not say exactly how many planes it owned, but two of its airlines, Air America and Air Asia, along with the Agency's holding company, the Pacific Corporation, employed more than 10,000 people.

* Latin America. The United States has always considered Latin America to be within its particular sphere of influence and has dominated the political life of that area. In the 1950s the Agency was given the primary role of imposing U.S. will over Latin America. Its most famous operation there was in Guatemala, where on June 18, 1954, it led the coup that overthrew the government of Jacobo Arbenz. CIA agents trained and supported the forces of Colonel Carlos Castillo Armas, who assumed power after the defeat of Arbenz. Agency support included the provision of CIA-piloted World War II fighter-bombers, as well as guns and ammunition.

But there were other Agency operations in this region in the 1950s as well, including an unsuccessful Agency attempt in 1953 to overthrow the elected government of President Jose Figueres in Costa Rica. In 1956 the Agency also helped in the establishment of Buro de Represion Actividades Comunistas (BRAC), the police force of Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista. BRAC became famous for its brutal methods of torture.

* The Middle East. In the 1950s the Agency was conducting a variety of operations to stabilize or destabilize the governments of this region. I had heard through the grapevine that the Agency was instrumental in overthrowing the government of Iranian Premier Mohammed Mossadegh in 1953 and reinstalling Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi. This was confirmed later by, among others, former CIA operative Kermit Roosevelt, grandson of President Theodore Roosevelt, in his book Countercoup: The Struggle for Control of Iran.

In Syria the CIA planned a coup in 1956 to overthrow the government. By chance, the coup attempt occurred on the same day that Israeli troops invaded Egypt. As a result, it was seen as linked to the Israeli operation and was quickly aborted. In that same period the CIA planned to overthrow two other Middle Eastern governments.

* Africa. In 1957 the Agency began working with Israeli intelligence to penetrate the independent states of Black Africa. Since that time it has spent at least $80 million on such operations.

In the Third World in general in the 1950B the Agency's propaganda operations were multiplying. "Foreign editors and columnists were recruited, newspapers and magazines subsidized, press services supported," wrote former CIA employee Harry Rositzke. "Propagandists ranged from paid 'agents' to friendly collaborators, from liberal and socialist anti-Communists to simple right-wingers. Facts, themes, editorial outlines, model essays were sent out to third world stations to be reworked for local consumption."

While all these various covert operations to overthrow or bolster foreign governments were being carried out, the Agency was also supposed to be gathering intelligence. But intelligence-gathering operations did not match in size or scope the efforts to overthrow governments, and most intelligence gathering from 1952 to 1963 was carried out through liaison arrangements with foreign governments. According to the Church Committee report, CIA director Allen Dulles cultivated relations with foreign intelligence officials, and because of the United States' predominant postwar position, governments in Western Europe, in particular, were very willing to cooperate in information sharing. Liaison provided the Agency with sources and contacts that otherwise would have been denied them. Information on individuals, on political parties, and on labor movements all derived from liaison. The Church Committee concluded that liaison created its share of problems: "The existence of close liaison relationships inhibited developing independent assets. First, it was simply easier to rely on information that had already been gleaned from agents.... It was far easier to talk to colleagues who had numerous assets in place than to expend the time required merely to make contact with an individual whose potential would not be realized for years. Second, maintenance of liaison became an end in itself, against which independent collection operations were judged. Rather than serving as a supplement to Agency operations it assumed primary importance in Western Europe. Often, a proposal for an independent operation was rejected because a Station Chief believed that if the operation were exposed, the host government's intelligence service would be offended.

The Agency's primary, if not sole claim to fame in intelligence gathering came in the mid-1950s with the development of the U-2 airplane and overhead photography. Since that time its record in intelligence has at best been dismal. The Church Committee that investigated the Agency in the mid 1970s concluded: "CIA intelligence was not serving the purpose for which the organization had been created-informing and influencing policymaking."

We now know that in the 1950s the CIA was also conducting many covert operations within the United States, in violation of the law. It was creating hundreds of dummy corporations, called proprietaries, that it used to provide cover for its operational agents. It was also continuing programs with academic institutions started during the days of the OSS. It expanded its operations with universities until some 5,000 American academics were doing its bidding by identifying and recruiting American students and identifying 200 to 300 future CIA agents from among the thousands of foreign students who come to the United States each year. The Agency had hundreds of teachers and graduate students on more than 100 campuses who worked for it secretly in recruiting, writing propaganda, and running covert operations.

Thomas W. Braden, former head of the Agency's division of international organizations, which had extensive facilities in the United States, stated that by 1953 the CIA was operating or influencing international organizations in every field where Communist fronts had seized the initiative and in some where they had not yet begun to operate. He also said that in 1951 or 1952 he gave Walter Reuther of the United Auto Workers $50,000 in CIA funds to support anti-Communist labor unions.

From 1952 until 1967 the CIA funded the National Student Association, giving about $3.3 million to support the organization's operations.

CIA director William Colby confessed that beginning in 1953 the CIA "conducted several programs to survey and open selected mail between the United States and two Communist countries." According to a secret Senate memorandum, the CIA survey focused on mail sent to and received from the Soviet Union and China and was centered in New York and San Francisco.

The Agency was also establishing close links with both book publishing houses and media organizations in the U.S. at this time. It felt that in the world of covert operations, book publishing had a special place. The head of its covert action staff said, "Books differ from all other propaganda media, primarily because one single book can significantly change the reader's attitude and action to an extent unmatched by the impact of any other single medium . . . this of course, not true of all books at all times and with all readers-but it is true significantly often enough to make books the most important weapon of strategic (long-range) propaganda.

Altogether from 1947 until the end of 1967, the CIA produced, subsidized, or sponsored well over 1,000 books. Approximately 20 percent of them were written in English. Many of them were published by cultural organizations backed by the CIA.

The Agency was also conducting extensive operations with newspaper, magazine, and television organizations. It maintained liaison relationships with about 50 American journalists or U.S. media organizations. An uncensored portion of the final report of the Church Committee said: "They [the 50] are part of a network of several hundred foreign

individuals around the world who provide intelligence for the CIA and at times attempt to influence foreign opinion through the use of covert propaganda. These individuals provide the CIA with direct access to a large number of foreign newspapers and periodicals, scores of press services and news agencies, radio and television stations, commercial book publishers, and other foreign media outlets.

Domestic "fallout"-a story that filters into U.S. media from abroad-was a deliberate result of these operations in newspapers, magazines, TV, and book publishing. At least two proprietary news services that the CIA maintained in Europe had U.S. subscribers. The larger of the two was subscribed to by more than 30 U.S. newspapers.

In a long article entitled "The CIA and the Media," Carl Bemstein wrote that more than 400 American journalists had secretly carried out assignments for the Agency, from gathering intelligence to serving as go-betweens with spies.

This was the kind of work that the CIA was up to throughout the 1950s and that I unquestioningly supported. I would like to believe that if I had been aware of more of these operations at the time, I would have had some doubts about the Agency. But I'm not at all sure that I would have and I'll never really know because I simply wasn't aware of most of what was going on.

Deadly Deceits

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