Japan and the Philippines
excerpted from the book
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...
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
* 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
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
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.