Making Heads Roll
Common Courage Press -
Political Literacy Course, November 25 1999
It has been argued that we need some form of intelligence
gathering agency, and that the CIA fulfills that role. Maybe.
But what the CIA also provides is a decapitation squad, well versed
in killing heads of state and others. Here's a partial review
of the declassified record.
1. The CIA was most likely behind the attempt to kill Chou
En-Lai of China in 1955. An Air India flight that took off from
Hong Kong crashed under mysterious circumstances on its way to
the Bandung Conference in Bandung, Indonesia. Press reports indicated
that a clockwork mechanism was found in the wreckage of the airliner,
and that the cause of the crash was two time-bombs that had been
planted on the airplane. John Discoe Smith, who was employed at
the US Embassy in India from 1954 to 1959, later wrote about having
delivered a package to a Chinese nationalist which he later discovered
contained the two time-bombs.
2. The 1975 Senate Committee investigating the CIA reported
that it had "received some evidence" of CIA involvement
in plans to assassinate President Sukarno of Indonesia.
3. In the 1950s, the Dulles brothers misinterpreted a remark
by President Eisenhower that "the Nasser problem could be
eliminated," to mean that he wanted President Nasser of Egypt
to be assassinated. Secretary Dulles cancelled the operation once
the mistake had been discovered.
4. The CIA and the opposition forces of the Khmer Serei attempted
to assassinate Prince Sihanouk of Cambodia in 1959. The assassin
was spotted in a crowd minutes before he was planning to take
5. The CIA unsuccessfully tried to kill Costa Rican President
Jose Figueres twice from 1955 to 1970. Figueres boasted that he
worked with the CIA very often, especially in the overthrow of
Dominican Republic President Rafael Trujillo.
6. In 1975, the Senate's Church Committee went on record with
the conclusion that Allen Dulles had ordered the assassination
of Patrice Lumumba, Congo's prime minister. In September of 1960
the CIA sent the late Dr. Sidney Gottlieb to the Congo with a
virus intended for use in an assassination attempt against Lumumba.
A CIA cable in November of that year revealed that the CIA had
been aiding Mobutu Sese Seko's search for Lumumba, who was captured
by Mobutu on December 1, 1961. Lumumba was then handed over to
his bitter enemy, Moise Tshombe, in Katanga province. Lumumba
was assassinated the same day.
7. As early as 1958, the then-CIA Chief of Station in the
Dominican Republic, Lear Reed, along with several Dominicans,
had plotted the assassination of Rafael Trujillo, which never
came to fruition. The CIA armed several opponents of his regime
for assassination attempts, which also were never carried out.
8. The CIA has been involved in several plots to kill Cuban
leader Fidel Castro.
9. In 1975, the Chicago Tribune ran a front page story that
told of CIA involvement in a plot to kill French President Charles
de Gaulle in the late 1960s after de Gaulle ousted American military
bases from French soil.
10. The CIA aided Bolivian efforts to capture and kill Che
Guevera, who in the late 1960s was leading a miniscule guerrilla
11. The CIA was directly involved in a failed plot to assassinate
Jamaican President Michael Manley in 1976.
12. The CIA proposed a plan to assassinate Libyan leader Muammar
el-Qaddafi in 1986, which resulted in the bombing of Libya by
the United States, leading to the death of 40 to 100 civilians
and the destruction of the French Embassy.
13. In 1982 and 1983, the CIA was involved in the murder of
General Ahmed Dlimi, a Moroccan officer who sought to overthrow
the Moroccan monarchy.
14. In 1983, the Nicaraguan government accused the CIA twice
of hatching a plot to kill Foreign Minister Miguel d'Escoto, of
which the CIA aborted both attempts.
These crimes scratch the surface of the known CIA record.
For the definitive work Noam Chomsky calls "Far and away
the best book on the topic," consult William Blum's "Killing
Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Intervention Since World War II."