Central Intelligence Agency: The President's Private Army,

U.S. Military Bases in Other People's Countries,

How American Imperialism Actually Works: The SOFA in Japan,

Space: The Ultimate Imperialist Project

excerpted from the book


The Last Days of the American Republic

by Chalmers Johnson

Holt, 2006, paperback


Porter J. Goss, the newly appointed director of central intelligence (DCI), November 2004,
in an internal memorandum to CIA employees

[Our job is to] support the administration and its policies in our work. As agency employees, we do not identify with, support, or champion opposition to the administration or its policies.

Thomas Powers, an authority on the CIA

No one can understand, much less predict, he behavior of the CIA who does not understand that the agency works for the president. I know of no exceptions to this general rule. In practice it means that in the end the CIA will always bend to the wishes of the president .... The general rule applies both to intelligence and to operations: what the CIA says, as well as what it does, will shape itself over time to what the president wants.

Congressional oversight of the agency [CIA] and many other, ever-expanding intelligence outfits in the U.S. government, including the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and the National Security Agency (NSA) - is, at best, a theatrical performance designed to distract and mislead the few Americans left who are concerned about constitutional government.

The president's untrammeled control of the CIA is probably the single most extraordinary power the imperial presidency possesses - totally beyond the balance of powers intended to protect the United States from the rise of a tyrant.

James Schlesinger, Director of CIA, 1973

l am here to see that you guys don't screw Richard Nixon.

Whatever happens, the CIA will remain first and foremost the president's private army, officially accountable to no other branch of the government.

The National Security Act of 1947 placed the CIA under the explicit direction of the National Security Council (NSC), the president's chief staff unit-composed of appointed members not subject to congressional approval-focused on making decisions about war and peace. The CIA was given five functions, four of them dealing with the collection, coordination, and dissemination of intelligence. It was the fifth-a vaguely worded passage that allowed the CIA to "perform such other functions and duties related to intelligence affecting the national security as the National Security Council may from time to time direct"-that turned the CIA into the personal, secret, unaccountable army of the president. At least since 1953, when it secretly overthrew the democratically elected government of Iran, the CIA has often been ordered into battle without Congress having declared war, as the Constitution requires.

Clandestine or covert operations, although nowhere actually mentioned in the CIA's enabling statutes, quickly became the agency's main activity. As Loch K. Johnson, one of the CIA's most impartial congressional analysts and former chief assistant to Senator Frank Church, chairman of the post-Watergate Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, observed, "The covert action shop had become a place for rapid promotion within the agency." The Directorate of Operations (DO) soon absorbed two-thirds of the CIA's budget and personnel, while the Directorate of Intelligence limped along, regularly producing bland documents known as National Intelligence Estimates (NIEs) -summaries of intelligence gathered by all the various intelligence agencies, including those in the Department of Defense. I personally read a good many of these when I served, from 1967 to 1973, as an outside consultant to what was then known as the CIA's Office of National Estimates. This consulting function was abolished by Kissinger and Schlesinger during Nixon's second term precisely because they did not want outsiders interfering with their ability to tell the president what to think.

Meanwhile, CIA covert operations were mobilized in support of various criminal, dictatorial, or militarist organizations around the world so long as they were (or pretended to be) anticommunist. CIA operatives also planted false information in foreign newspapers and covertly fed large amounts of money to members of the Christian Democratic Party in Italy and the Liberal Democratic Party in Japan, to King Hussein of Jordan, and to clients in Greece, West Germany, Egypt, Sudan, Suriname, Mauritius, the Philippines, Iran, Ecuador, and Chile. Clandestine agents devoted themselves to such tasks as depressing the global prices of agricultural products in order to damage uncooperative Third World countries, attempting to assassinate foreign leaders, and sponsoring guerrilla wars or insurgencies in places as diverse as the Ukraine, Poland, Albania, Hungary, Indonesia, China, Tibet, Oman, Malaysia, Iraq, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, North Korea, Bolivia, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Haiti, Guatemala, Cuba, Greece, Turkey, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Angola, and Nicaragua, to name only a few of those on the public record.'

No congressional oversight of the agency in any form existed until 1974, when, in the wake of Watergate, the Church Committee exposed the CIA's illegal domestic surveillance, its assassinations of overseas leaders, and its lying to Congress. The committee's report led Congress to create intelligence committees in both houses, but even that Congress meant to bring a little sunlight to the agency... Vice President Dick Cheney has made it his personal crusade to try to reverse the Church Committee's reforms.

The CIA belongs as much to the president as the Praetorian Guard once belonged to the Roman emperors.

The CIA remains the main executive-branch department in charge of overthrowing foreign governments, promoting regimes of state terrorism, kidnapping people of interest to the administration and sending them to friendly foreign countries to be tortured and/or killed, assassination and the torture of prisoners in violation of international and domestic law, and numerous other "wet" exercises that both the president and the country in which they are executed want be able to deny.

The Carter administration deliberately provoked the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, which occurred on Christmas Eve 1979. In his 1996 memoir, former CIA director Robert Gates acknowledges that the American intelligence services began to aid the anti-Soviet mujahideen guerrillas not after the Russian invasion but six months before it. On July 3, 1979, President Carter signed a finding authorizing secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime then ruling in Kabul. His purpose-and that of his national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski-was to provoke a fullscale Soviet military intervention. Carter wanted to tie down the USSR and so prevent its leaders from exploiting the 1979 anti-American revolution in Iran. In addition, as Brzezinski put it, "We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam War."

Before it was over, the CIA and the USSR between them turned Afghanistan, which had been a functioning state with a healthy middle class, into a warring collection of tribes, Islamic sects, and heroin-producing warlords. In human terms, the effort cost 1.8 million Afghan casualties and sent 2.6 million fleeing as refugees, while ten million unexploded land mines were left strewn around the country.

Human Rights Watch has identified at least twenty-four secret detention and interrogation centers worldwide operated by the CIA. These include: al-Jafr prison in the southern desert of Jordan; Kohat prison in Pakistan; holding sites in Afghanistan including in Kabul and Kandahar, at Bagram Air Base and Camp Salerno, near Khost; at least three locations in Iraq, including CIA-controlled parts of Abu Ghraib prison; at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, the Camp Echo complex, and the new Camp 6; a secret location at Al-Udeid Air Base, Qatar; prisons in Egypt, Thailand, and in brigs on U.S. ships at sea; at least two CIA prisons in the old Soviet satellites in Eastern Europe, probably in Poland and Romania; in Morocco at secret police headquarters in Temara, near the capital, Rabat, and at a new CIA torture center under construction at Ain Aouda, south of Rabat's diplomatic district; and possibly at the U.S. naval base on the British island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean.

The people held in this U.S. version of the gulag are known as "ghost detainees' completely off-the-books. No charges are ever filed against them, and they are hidden away even from the inspectors of the International Committee of the Red Cross. In an unusual typology of rendition sites, Robert Baer, a former CIA operative in the Middle East and the author of Sleeping with the Devil: How Washington Sold Our Soul for Saudi Crude, has commented, "We pick up a suspect or we arrange for one of our partner countries to do it. Then the suspect is placed on a civilian transport to a third country where, let's make no bones about it, they use torture. If you want a good interrogation, you send someone to Jordan. If you want them to be killed, you send them to Egypt or Syria. Either way, the U.S. cannot be blamed as it is not doing the heavy work."

Once upon a time, you could trace the spread of imperialism by counting up colonies. America's version of the colony is the military base.

The worldwide total of U.S. military personnel in 2005, including those based domestically, was 1,840,062 supported by an additional 473,306 Defense Department civil service employees and 203,328 local hires in overseas bases, according to the Pentagon, contained 32,327 barracks, hangars, hospitals, and other buildings, which it owns, and 16,527 more that it leased. The size of these holdings was recorded in the inventory as covering 687,347 acres overseas and 29,819,492 acres worldwide, making the Pentagon easily one of the world's largest landlords.

These numbers, although staggeringly big, do not begin to cover all the actual bases we occupy globally. The 2005 Base Structure Report fails, for instance, to mention any garrisons in Kosovo (or Serbia, of which Kosovo is still officially a province)-even though it is the site of the huge Camp Bondsteel built in 1999 and maintained ever since by the KBR corporation (formerly known as Kellogg Brown & Root), a subsidiary of the Halliburton Corporation of Houston. The report similarly omits bases in Afghanistan, Iraq (106 garrisons as of May 2005), Israel, Kyrgyzstan, Qatar, and Uzbekistan, even though the U.S. military has established colossal base structures in the Persian Gulf and Central Asian areas since 9/11. By way of excuse, a note in the preface says that "facilities provided by other nations at foreign locations" are not included, although this is not strictly true. The report does include twenty sites in Turkey, all owned by the Turkish government and used jointly with the Americans. The Pentagon continues to omit from its accounts most of the $5 billion worth of military and espionage installations in Britain, which have long been conveniently disguised as Royal Air Force bases. If there were an honest count, the actual size of our military empire would probably top 1,000 different bases overseas, but no one-possibly not even the Pentagon knows the exact number for sure.

It is clear today that the Bush administration intended, upon Saddam Hussein's certain defeat, to create military bases in Iraq similar to those we built or took over in Germany and Japan after World War II. The covert purpose of our 2003 invasion was empire building - to move the main focus of our military installations in the Middle East from Saudi Arabia to Iraq, gain control over Iraq's oil resources, and make that country a permanent Pentagon outpost for the control of much of the rest of the "arc of instability."

In response to the question, "What were the real reasons for our invasion of Iraq?" retired air force lieutenant colonel Karen Kwiatkowski, a former strategist inside the Near East Division of the Office of the Secretary of Defense, suggested: "One reason has to do with enhancing our military basing posture in the region. We had been very dissatisfied with our relations with Saudi Arabia, particularly the restrictions on our basing .... So we were looking for alternate strategic locations beyond Kuwait, beyond Qatar, to secure something we had been searching for since the days of Carter-to secure the energy lines of communication in the region. Bases in Iraq, then, were very important.' In the spring of 2005, Kwiatkowski further noted, Pentagon leaders regarded Iraqi bases as vital for protecting Israel and as potential launching pads for preventive wars in Syria and Iran, part of the administration's strategic vision of reorganizing the entire region as part of an American sphere of influence. So it seems likely we intend to stay there whether the Iraqis want us or not.

Secretary Rumsfeld to the Senate Armed Services Committee, February 17, 2005

I can assure you that we have no intention at present time of putting permanent bases in Iraq.

Larry Diamond of the Hoover Institution, February 2005

[W] e could declare... that we have no permanent designs on Iraq and we will not seek permanent military bases in Iraq. This one statement would do an enormous amount to undermine the suspicion that we have permanent imperial intentions in Iraq. We aren't going to do that. And the reason we're not going to do that is because we are building permanent military bases in Iraq.

The U.S. Southern Command's efforts there are aimed at keeping control over Latin America, where the United States is probably more unwelcome than at any time since the open imperialism of the Spanish-American War of 1898.

Most citizens of Latin American countries know about our armed interventions to overthrow popularly supported governments in Guatemala (1954), Cuba (1961), Dominican Republic (1965), Chile (1973), Grenada (1983), and Nicaragua (1984-90). Many know about Fort Benning's School of the Americas, the U.S. Army's infamous military academy that specializes in training Latin American officers in state terrorism and repression. (It was renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation in 2000 to try to disguise its past.) Some are aware of the 1997 creation of the Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies within the National Defense University in Washington to indoctrinate Latin American civilian defense officials, as well as the Pentagon's endless efforts to create close "military-to-military" relations by sending U.S. Special Forces to train and arm Latin American armies. Finally, there is the steadfast advocacy of radical free-market capitalism that, when implemented by the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the World Trade Organization, have invariably left Latin American countries more indebted and poverty stricken than they were before.

Okinawa is Japan's most southerly prefecture and its poorest. As of 2005, it was host to thirty-seven of the eighty-eight American military bases in Japan.

As of November 2004, according to Pentagon statistics, the United States had stationed some 36,365 uniformed military personnel in Japan, not counting 11,887 sailors attached to the Seventh Fleet at its bases at Yokosuka (Kanagawa prefecture) and Sasebo (Nagasaki prefecture), some of whom are intermittently at sea. In addition there were 45,140 American dependents, 27,019 civilian employees of the Department of Defense, and approximately 20,000 Japanese citizens working for the U.S. forces in jobs ranging from maintaining golf courses and waiting on tables in the numerous officers' clubs to translating Japanese newspapers for the Central Intelligence Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency.

Okinawa is host to more than 50,000 of these American troops, military-related civilians, and dependents. According to Japanese researchers, the largest group of U.S. forces in Okinawa consists of 16,015 uniformed marines, 733 Department of Defense civilians, and 8,809 marine family members, adding up to a marine cohort of 25,557. The air force contributes 7,100 pilots and maintenance crews at the island's huge Kadena Air Base, the largest U.S. base in East Asia ...

During World War II, the Japanese killed approximately twenty-three million Chinese throughout East Asia - higher casualties than the staggering ones suffered by Russia at the hands of the Nazis.

Air Force Command, Strategic Master Plan, Federal Year 2004 and Beyond

Our vision calls for prompt global strike space systems with the capability to directly apply force from or through space against terrestrial targets.

Paul Wolfowitz, deputy secretary of defense, October 2002

Space offers attractive options not only for missile defense but for a broad range of interrelated civil and military missions. It truly is the ultimate high ground. We are exploring concepts and technologies for space-based intercepts.

General Thomas White, air force chief of staff, November 29, 1957

Whoever has the capability to control space will likewise possess the capability to exert control of the surface of the Earth.

In the 1990s, neoconservative lobbyists joined with big arms manufacturers and ambitious military officers, none of whom actually cared whether a national missile-defense system could stop a nuclear attack. Their interest was in the staggering sums such a project would require. By manipulating a Republican Congress and creating a missile defense lobby in both houses, they achieved all their goals, although actual missile defense remained as distant as ever. General Eugene Habiger, head of the U.S. Strategic Command in the mid-1990s, said, "A system is being deployed that doesn't have any credible capability." Philip Coyle, former assistant secretary of defense for test and evaluation in the Clinton administration, concluded that the United States had squandered over $100 billion dollars of taxpayers' money on a "high-tech scarecrow."

The neoconservative mind-set that brought this project to fruition had its origins in the Reagan years, when many young strategists, usually with neither military service nor war experience on their résumés, became impatient with the influence of internationalists and realists-the people who had dominated U.S. foreign policy making since World War II. They were also convinced that the collapse of the Soviet Union had been significantly due to U.S. technological prowess and that pouring more money into advanced technology was a sure way to achieve perpetual domination of the world. The only real debate among them was over whether American hegemony "would be welcomed as the cutting edge of human progress' or overwhelming American power-"shock and awe"-would be enough to terrify others into submission. They were committed to ending all arms control treaties that constrained U.S. power, to a vast expansion of spending on armaments as well as futuristic armaments research, and to a belief that he planet could easily be mastered from the\ high frontier of outer space. typical member of this group was Frank GaffneyJr., founder of the center for Security Policy (CSP), creator of the congressional missile defense lobby, and behind-the-scenes player in the policy shifts of the 1990s that would lead to the near-weaponization of space.

... The CSP is funded primarily by the major weapons manufacturers in the missile defense field-Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), and others-and by conservative donors such as the Coors family, Richard Mellon Scaife, and the Colorado heiress Helen Krieble. CSP has received well over $3 million in corporate donations since its founding in 1988.

Everett Dolman, a neoconservative and professor in the School of Advanced Air and Studies, the air force's graduate school for airpower and space power strategies at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama

The time to weaponize and administer space for the good of global commerce is now... Only the United States can be trusted to regulate space for the benefit of all .

Space, particularly in low Earth orbits (LEO), is anything but empty. The space age is hardly forty-five years old and we have already filled its most critical zones with thousands of pieces of lethal junk. The radars of the air force's Space Surveillance Network can see objects as small as ten centimeters-the size of a baseball-in low Earth orbit and to about one meter in higher geosynchronous orbits, where most of the world's communications and broadcast satellites reside. The air force is currently tracking some 13,400 man-made objects in space, of which only a few hundred are active satellites. It acknowledges that there are more than 100,000 pieces of smaller, untrackable debris, each about the size of a marble (one centimeter) and millions of still smaller fragments. NASA officials have estimated that there may be about four million pounds of space junk in LEO alone. This debris includes dead or dying satellites, pieces of spent rocket boosters, all manner of metal shrouds and fairings, tools, nuts, bolts, and clamps of every size and description, lens caps, and even frozen sewage. In LEO they are traveling at the same speed as the space shuttle- 7,500 miles per hour-or they would fall into the Earth's ) atmosphere and be burned up.

America's imperial project to dominate the space surrounding our planet has provided a nearly perfect setting for official corruption. The air force and the military-industrial complex interests meshing with powerful congressional lobbies that want to bring space-oriented industries to their districts and perpetuate their own safe seats in Congress, as well as unimaginable sums of money protected from public scrutiny by "black budgets' "special access programs' and other forms of secrecy, all add up to a prescription for legal thievery on an unprecedented scale. Norman Ornstein, a specialist on Congress at the American Enterprise Institute, has observed that when individual members of Congress have the ability to earmark-that is, privately attach-federal funds for pet projects and slip them unopposed into the Pentagon's budget, "You are creating the most fertile environment for corruption imaginable".

During the first years of the new century, an array of experienced Pentagon and congressional budget officers began sounding the alarm that the purchase of weapons systems is now totally beyond public control-or often even public visibility. Of all the weapons systems, the most expensive and most prone to misuse and abuse has been the whole project to create an intercontinental-ballistic-missile defense system. At $8.8 billion, it was, after all, the largest single weapons request in the fiscal year 2006 defense budget. The Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments in Washington estimated that "black budget" requests for fiscal year 2007 amounted to $30.1 billion, the highest level since 1988 during the

Cold War, 75 percent of them going to the air force mostly for space programs and new satellites. William D. Hartung, Frida Berrigan, Michelle Ciarrocca, and Jonathan Wingo of the World Policy Institute have summed up our military ventures in space and space defense as "Pork barrel in the sky."

The raw monetary figures have been literally astronomic. From Reagan's 1983 "Star Wars" speech to 2006, depending on which expert you listen to, the United States has spent between $92.5 billion and $130 billion on the basic problem of shooting down an ICBM in flight-and that's without even once having succeeded in doing so. One comprehensive analysis of the ultimate cost of the entire ballistic missile defense system by its distinctly theoretical date of completion in 2015-and excluding its most expensive and problematic component, a space-based laser-is $1.2 trillion.

President Bush in a speech to the cadets of The Citadel on December 11, 2001, exactly three months after 9/11

The attacks on our nation made it even more clear that we need to build limited and effective defenses against missile attack. Suppose the Taliban and the terrorists had been able to strike America or important allies with a ballistic missile. Our coalition would have become fragile, the stakes in our war much, much higher. We must protect Americans and our friends against all forms of terror, including the terror that could arrive on a missile. But neither the Taliban nor the 9/11 terrorists had missiles or the knowledge or industrial base to build one. And there are other, far cheaper, more accessible, and more effective ways to deliver a weapon of mass destruction than by missile. For example, one could be secretly imported in a cargo container on a transport ship, or fired from an offshore vessel using a short-range cruise missile, or constructed domestically as did the bombers of the Oklahoma City Murrah Federal Building in 1995, or sent as a priority package via FedEx.

But what if some terrorists really had access to an intercontinental missile? Given that we have in continuous orbit the world's most effective intelligence satellites devoted to tracking missile launches, as soon as we had determined that such a launch was not an error, we would retaliate instantly and catastrophically against whatever nation had allowed a missile to be fired against us. The government's own experts agree that a long-range ballistic missile is the least likely way a hostile state or terrorist group would choose to deliver a weapon of mass destruction against a U.S. target.

Missile defense has almost nothing to do with defense and nothing whatsoever to do with the war on terrorism. ABM weapons may actually prove to be useless against incoming ICBMs, but they might be highly effective offensive weapons against other nations' satellites... These dual-use weapons are less likely to be employed for missile defense than as a stealthy way to introduce weapons in outer space with the intent of dominating the globe.

The Global Positioning System (known in the U.S. military as the Navstar GPS) is probably the greatest advance in navigation since the discovery of the compass and the invention of the sextant. It is the general term for at least twenty-four satellites, each circling the Earth twice a day, that are positioned in a "medium Earth orbit" (12,600 to 14,760 miles above the planet). A GPS receiver on a ship, automobile, aircraft, bomb, or a hiker's handheld navigational device decodes a time signal from four of these satellites, which carry extremely accurate atomic clocks, and then calculates a position based on the different times and distances to the various satellites. As of 2005, the GPS could determine your position at any moment within about sixteen feet (five meters), a steady improvement over the previous fifteen years. Although created for military use, the GPS is today available to any and all users worldwide, providing strikingly accurate information on position and time in all weather conditions.

The European Union decided to build an alternative [satellite navigation system] which it named "Galileo." This satellite navigation system, when operational, will be more accurate and not subject to shutdown for military purposes. When completed it will be available to all world users, civilian and military, and at its full capacity will require only a Galileo receiver.

... Galileo will be a system of thirty spacecraft in orbit-twenty-seven active and three spares-14,514 miles above the Earth. Each satellite has a projected lifetime of twelve years. The system aims at an accuracy of less than a meter, with greater penetration into urban centers, inside buildings, and under trees, a faster fix, and atomic clocks that are ten times better than those on board the GPS satellites. The European Space Agency plans to launch the required thirty satellites between 2006 and 2010, and the system is planned to be up and running under civilian control by 2010.

On December 28, 2005, a Russian Soyuz rocket fired from the old Soviet Cosmodrome at Baikonur, Kazakhstan, carried the first Galileo satellite into orbit... In September 2003, China joined the project, promising to invest 230 mi lion euros in it. In July 2004, Israel signed on; India joined in September 2005; Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and South Korea all affiliated with Galileo during the winter of 2005-6, each of them paying for the privilege. There was speculation that Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Malaysia, Pakistan, and Russia also were considering becoming involved.

The iron triangle of the air force, Congress, and the military-industrial complex, sanctified by the high-tech jobs it offers to American workers, is driving our country toward bankruptcy. For some, it is tempting to continue the lucrative practice of buying arcane space technologies that do not work - missile defenses, for example - simply because it keeps people employed. Meanwhile, our democracy is undercut by members of Congress who use the lavish "campaign contributions" they receive - bribes by any other name - to buy elections. The only public business these bought- and-paid-for congressmen attend to is providing a legal veneer for munitions makers' unquestioned access to the tax venues of the government.

Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic

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