CIA: Legacy Of Ashes- The Keystone Spooks

In 1969, the Central Intelligence Agency informed President Richard Nixon that the Soviets lacked the ability to launch a knockout nuclear first strike. Outraged that this undermined their plans for an antiballistic missile system, White House hawks ordered the agency to, in the words to then-CIA director Richard Helms, “trim the evidence.” The intel was buried and the ABM plans went forward. “[T]he agency was tailoring its work to fit the pattern of White House policy,” writes Tim Weiner, hinting that the now-infamous “slam dunk” case for invading Iraq wasn’t the first time the agency told the White House what it wanted to hear

I grew up under the gun, with the concept of the 4 minute warning, that at any time an alert would tells us we only had 4 minutes left to live…and it was all a con, a conservative con, a neo-con to enable their idiocy to continue unbound. Below are excerpts from a review of Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA by Tim Weiner (you can read the first chapter here) by ex CIA man Chalmers Johnson. The book is all documented sources, Wiener is an award winning reporter, this is not tin-foilism. The conclusion seems to be the CIA never did it’s job, rather it enjoyed acting beyond the law and helped cause millions of deaths, most remarkable is how they bungled much of what they did, once mistaking a ambassador petting her dog for a lesbian affair which they then hoped to blackmail her with, no really (h/t Rachel Maddow)-

Perhaps the most comical of all CIA clandestine activities — unfortunately all too typical of its covert operations over the last 60 years — was the spying it did in 1994 on the newly appointed American ambassador to Guatemala, Marilyn McAfee, who sought to promote policies of human rights and justice in that country. Loyal to the murderous Guatemalan intelligence service, the CIA had bugged her bedroom and picked up sounds that led their agents to conclude that the ambassador was having a lesbian love affair with her secretary, Carol Murphy. The CIA station chief “recorded her cooing endearments to Murphy.” The agency spread the word in Washington that the liberal ambassador was a lesbian without realizing that “Murphy” was also the name of her two-year-old black standard poodle. The bug in her bedroom had recorded her petting her dog. She was actually a married woman from a conservative family.

This covert hand interfering with our world makes me angry indeed, although the cost to us was not as severe as it was to many, the mass killings, political genocide, torture. What is remarkable is the imperial arrogance, that they know what is right for the world and how unimportant others lives are in their plans. The end of the empire cannot come too soon.

On the most important annual intelligence estimate throughout the Cold War—that of the Soviet order of battle—the CIA invariably overstated its size and menace. Then, to add insult to injury, under George H. W. Bush’s tenure as DCI (1976-77), the agency tore itself apart over ill-informed right-wing claims that it was actually underestimating Soviet military forces. The result was the appointment of “Team B” during the Ford presidency, led by Polish exiles and neoconservative fanatics. It was tasked to “correct” the work of the Office of National Estimates. “After the Cold War was over,” writes Weiner, “the agency put Team B’s findings to the test. Every one of them was wrong.”

The CIA’s incessant, almost always misguided, attempts to determine how other people should govern themselves; its secret support for fascists (e.g., Greece under George Papadopoulos), militarists (e.g., Chile under Gen. Augusto Pinochet), and murderers (e.g., the Congo under Joseph Mobutu); its uncritical support of death squads (El Salvador) and religious fanatics (Muslim fundamentalists in Afghanistan)…Nothing has done more to undercut the reputation of the United States than the CIA’s “clandestine” (only in terms of the American people) murders of the presidents of South Vietnam and the Congo, its ravishing of the governments of Iran, Indonesia (three times), South Korea (twice), all of the Indochinese states, virtually every government in Latin America, and Lebanon, Afghanistan, and Iraq. The deaths from these armed assaults run into the millions. After 9/11, President Bush asked “Why do they hate us?” From Iran (1953) to Iraq (2003), the better question would be, “Who does not?”

“The millions were delivered to Italian politicians and the priests of Catholic Action, a political arm of the Vatican. Suitcases filed with cash changed hands in the four-star Hassler Hotel. . . . Italy’s Christian Democrats won by a comfortable margin and formed a government that excluded communists. A long romance between the [Christian Democratic] party and the agency began. The CIA’s practice of purchasing elections and politicians with bags of cash was repeated in Italy — and in many other countries — for the next twenty-five years.” The CIA ultimately spent at least $65 million on Italy’s politicians — including “every Christian Democrat who ever won a national election in Italy.”

After Italy, the CIA moved on to Japan, paying to bring Nobusuke Kishi to power as Japan’s prime minister (in office 1957-1960), the country’s World War II minister of munitions. It ultimately used its financial muscle to entrench the (conservative) Liberal Democratic Party in power and to turn Japan into a single-party state, which it remains to this day. The cynicism with which the CIA continued to subsidize “democratic” elections in Western Europe, Latin America, and East Asia, starting in the late 1950s, led to disillusionment with the United States.

Attempting to influence the attitudes of students and intellectuals, the CIA sponsored literary magazines in Germany (Der Monat) and Britain (Encounter), promoted abstract expressionism in art as a radical alternative to the Soviet Union’s socialist realism, and secretly funded the publication and distribution of over two and a half million books and periodicals.

…during the debate over America’s invasion of Iraq after 2003, one of the constant laments was that the CIA did not have access to a single agent inside Saddam Hussein’s inner circle. That was not true. Ironically, the intelligence service of France — a country U.S. politicians publicly lambasted for its failure to support us — had cultivated Naji Sabri, Iraq’s foreign minister. Sabri told the French agency, and through it the American government, that Saddam Hussein did not have an active nuclear or biological weapons program, but the CIA ignored him.

4 Responses to “CIA: Legacy Of Ashes- The Keystone Spooks”

  1. frolix22 Says:

    I don’t know whether to laugh or cry but that lesbian affair/pet dog story is funny.

    You mentioned Chalmers Johnson in there and I have heard great things about his books on the CIA and US foreign policy.

  2. Rafael Says:

    You may have heard of this or not (I might even have gotten the original link from here, I can’t recall, although I think it came from Clipmarks), but I am posting the excellent documentary (in parts) Hijacking Catastrophe. You can find it on my site (5 out of 10 parts so far) or in You Tube.

  3. RickB Says:

    I have a feeling I’ve seen it, but I’ll check it out to make sure.

  4. RickB Says:

    Yeah Frolix they got him to review it because of his previous work, I’m always a bit wary of ex-spook insiders writing books but Johnson does get the problems of Empire not just for the US but the rest of us. Definitely worth a read.


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