Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Break the CIA in Two

By Ray McGovern
December 22, 2009

After the CIA-led fiasco at the Bay of Pigs in April 1961, President John Kennedy was quoted as saying he wanted to “splinter the CIA into a thousand pieces and scatter it into the winds.” I can understand his anger, but a thousand is probably too many.

Read on.


BARB BF said...

From Sam Smith's ProRev.com:

September 25, 2009

Wayne Madsen Report - WMR has obtained additional details on Business International Corporation, the CIA front company where President Obama spent a year working after graduating from Columbia University in 1983.

BIC used journalists as non-official cover agents around the world. The firm published weekly and fortnightly newsletters for business executives. . .

On February 24, WMR reported: "For one year, Obama worked as a researcher in BIC's financial services division where he wrote for two BIC publications, Financing Foreign Operations and Business International Money Report, a weekly newsletter.

An informed source has told WMR that Obama's tuition debt at Columbia was paid off by BIC. In addition, WMR has learned that when Obama lived in Indonesia with his mother and his adoptive father Lolo Soetoro, the 20-year-old Obama, who was known as 'Barry Soetoro,' traveled to Pakistan in 1981 and was hosted by the family of Muhammadmian Soomro, a Pakistani Sindhi who became acting President of Pakistan after the resignation of General Pervez Musharraf on August 18, 2008. WMR was told that the Obama/Soetoro trip to Pakistan, ostensibly to go 'partridge hunting' with the Soomros, related to unknown CIA business. The covert CIA program to assist the Afghan mujaheddin was already well underway at the time and Pakistan was the major base of operations for the CIA's support . . .

Through its contacts with leading liberals around the world, BIC sought to recruit those on the left as CIA agents and assets. . . .

Obama's mother, Ann Dunham, and his father, Barack Obama, Sr., met at the University of Hawaii in 1960 in a Russian-language class. . . After marrying Indonesian national Lolo Soetoro, Dunham moved with Barack Obama, Jr. to Indonesia in 1966. . . Dunham left Indonesia in 1972, returning to Hawaii with her son. Dunham periodically made trips back to Indonesia, as well as to Pakistan, while working for the Ford Foundation and the U.S. Agency for International Development, the latter commonly used by the CIA for official cover agents.

Anonymous said...

Yawn, so what? All the world now knows the USA are nothing more than a life-support system for its military and (sic) intelligence organs.

Edward Louis Bernays is more a father to the present nation than is George Washington.

Morton Kurzweil said...

Printing money and spending it should not be in the same agency. Representing the people and selling votes should not be in the same agency. Serving the government and serving lobbyists should not be in the same agency.
Ignorance and incompetence may be tolerated, but treason should no become the accepted culture of government.

Anon1 said...

We shouldn't have "covert operations" as presently constructed AT ALL. It isn't a matter of breaking the CIA in 2, it means simply eliminating "covert ops" that are virtually ALWAYS illegal. They either violate another country's sovereignty or violate our own laws. How would the USA like it if other countries decided they had free reign to conduct "covert ops" within OUR borders?

Perhaps Israel should use drone strikes against Palestinians right here in the USA (civilians, actual militants, it doesn't matter to Israel)? How about Russia conduct their "covert ops" right here in the USA? Or China?

The CIA should be ONE thing and one thing only: an INTELLIGENCE gathering and analysis agency. Period. Leave the "operations" activity to the military. That is what it is for. If you need covert operations, fully within the confines of international law and our own professed "values" then use Special Forces. That's what THEY exist for.

Revamp the CIA, yes. Totally eliminate the covert ops side ENTIRELY.

Paul Rigby said...

McGovern errs in following Marcus' claim that there was no mainstream press comment on Truman's op ed. On December 23, Scripps-Howard's New York World-Telegram & Sun editorially endorsed the former President's criticisms; the following day, columnist Richard Starnes went further. First up, the editorial:

New York World-Telegram & Sun, 23 December 1963, p.18


In a report just released, the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy (of Congress) takes sharp issue with Defense Secretary McNamara’s decision not to build a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.

The point is not whether the committee or McNamara is right, but that a Congressional committee, with some authority behind it, is in a position to analyze the McNamara decision.

No committee of Congress is in position to perform a similar service with respect to our intelligence agencies.

The Central Intelligence Agency, for instance, operates in high secrecy and there is no watchdog group in Congress informed enough and close enough to the agency to do knowledgeably what the Joint Atomic Energy Committee has done.

Former President Truman, in his recent copyrighted comment, said he thinks the CIA has strayed far afield from the purposes for which it was created in his administration.

Some searching questions should be asked, he said. But there is no authoritative committee in Congress to ask them.

Whether the Atomic Energy Committee’s size-up on the nuclear ship is right or not is not as important as the assurance that there is a bi-partisan, well-equipped committee in Congress to keep a constant check on these matters, for the guidance of the public and especially Congress.

The secret, vital intelligence field should be given the same treatment.

Paul Rigby said...

The New York World-Telegram & Sun, Tuesday, 24 December 1963, p.13

Truman and the CIA

By Richard Starnes

(Part 1 of 2)

The murmuring chorus of Americans who are deeply concerned with the growing power and headlong wilfulness of the Central Intelligence Agency has been joined by former President Truman.

Mr. Truman must be accounted an expert witness in this matter, because it was under his administration that the CIA came into being. In a copyrighted article he wrote recently that the CIA had strayed wide of the purposes for which he had organized it.

"It has," he wrote, "become an operational and at times a policy-making arm of the government. This has led to trouble and may have compounded our difficulties in several explosive areas."

For writing substantially the same thing from South Viet Nam last fall, this reporter was (and still is) subjected to a calculated behind-the-scenes campaign of opprobrium at the hands of the CIA. So, indeed, has the United States' ambassador to Saigon been subjected to the same sort of behind-the-hand attack, on the theory that he was the source of my account of the CIA's heedless bureaucratic arrogance in Saigon.

Mr. Lodge, it is now charged by CIA apologists, destroyed the effectiveness of one of the CIA's most skilful agents. It is also charged that this reporter violated a gentleman's agreement in naming the agent.

Both charges are false, meaching and disingenuous.

The name of the agent, hurriedly summoned home from Saigon within 24 hours of my account of his stewardship of the huge spook operations, was John Richardson. In my several conversations with Ambassador Lodge, Richardson's name never passed between us.

It was, indeed, not necessary for any wayfaring journals to go to any such exalted figures to descry the activities of the CIA's station chief in Saigon. Richardson, a frequent visitor at the presidential palace and a close adviser to the devious and powerful Ngo Dinh Nhu, was widely known in the Vietnamese capital. Until Mr. Lodge replaced Frederick Nolting as ambassador, most knowledgeable Americans and sophisticated Vietnamese regarded Richardson as the most powerful foreigner in Viet Nam.

It is nonsense to say that Lodge destroyed Richardson's value as a CIA agent. In Saigon, Richardson was as clandestine as a calliope with a full head of steam. It is, moreover, a libel to allege (as high CIA officials have alleged) that this reporter violated an agreement to shield Richardson's identity. In all my assiduous inquiries about the man, never once was it suggested that there was an agreement to keep his identity secret. If there had been any such agreement, I would, of course, have respected it even though it would have been plainly absurd in view of Richardson's notoriety.

(End of part 1 of 2)

Paul Rigby said...

The New York World-Telegram & Sun, Tuesday, 24 December 1963, p.13

Truman and the CIA

By Richard Starnes

(Part 2 of 2)

This is, unfortunately, more than a parochial dispute between a reporter and a writhing, unlovely bureaucracy. The President of the United States himself has been misled by the CIA mythology regarding just how and by whom Richardson's utility as chief resident spook was destroyed. Neither Lodge nor any journalist cast Richardson in his role in Saigon. If CIA chief John McCone really believes that his man in Saigon was compromised by my dispatches (and presumably he does believe this or he would not have planted and cultivated the tale as thoroughly as he has) then he does not know what is going on in the huge, bumbling apparatus he nominally leads.

Mr. Truman knows whereof he speaks. Wise in the ways of malignant bureaucracy, he knows that unfettered and unaccountable power such as is vested in the CIA is bound to feed upon itself until it poses a threat to the very free institutions it was founded to safeguard. No man alive knows the enormous power that is now vested in the CIA, nor the wealth it dispenses, nor the policy it makes. Most people in government would be appalled if they knew that already the CIA has overflowed its huge new headquarters building in McLean, Va., but it is fact that it has done.

There is far, far too much about the CIA that is unknown to far too many Americans. We will, occasionally and from time to time, twang this same sackbut. It is not a pretty tune it plays, but it is an important one.

(End of part 2 of 2)

Paul Rigby said...

For those interested in learning more about Starnes' extraordinarily courageous journalism in this period, not least his astonishing early October 1963 warning of a CIA coup against Kennedy, please follow this link:


Bill from Saginaw said...

So Harry Truman wrote a prescient, copyrighted op-ed that ran only in an early edition of the Washington Post back in 1963 (a month after the Kennedy assassination). Truman's opinion piece publicly pushed to end clandestine black ops by the Central Intelligence Agency, while keeping the agency's core intelligence gathering/analysis role intact. Very interesting.

As a result, absolutely nothing happens. Very, very interesting.

Thanks, Rigby, for the links to the followup New York World Telegraph editorial and the intriguing Starnes article.

But still: a highly respected former president wrote an op-ed calling for reassertion of civilian control over the nation's spooks less than three weeks after JFK's funeral, and nothing happened. How strange, Dr. Watson, said Sherlock Holmes. How strange that the dog did not bark.

I think an answer to McGovern's question about how Harry Truman's timely op-ed got squelched and marginalized in the 1963 news cycle is contained within the Telegraph's own supportive editorial: "Some searching questions should be asked..... But there is no authoritative Committee in Congress to ask them."

Any decision to curtail the CIA's covert operations (or to "separate the baby from the bathwater", as McGovern terms it) would have to start with a Congressional Committee holding a hearing. Partial repeal or significant revision of the National Security Act is a legislative act. This is how the legislative branch of the federal government properly operates.

Any Congressional hearing into the need for curtailing the CIA's black ops cowboyism back in 1963 would likely have touched upon who fucked up what at the Bay of Pigs, why Allen Dulles got sacked, what was going on in Saigon with Air America wheeling and dealing all over southeast Asia, and possibly even reach back further into awkward questions about how the democratically elected governments of Guatemala and Iran got overthrown during Allen Dulles's watch as head of the CIA.

Maybe even the CIA analysts' major fuck ups would have surfaced too. You know. Missing the massive intervention of the Chinese into the Korean War. Blowing the time frame it would take for the Soviets to develop nuclear bombs. Really big fuck ups like that - things that were still near and dear to Harry Truman's heart, even in the quiet of retirement.

The lack of "an authoritative Committee in Congress to ask" such potentially awkward questions was the CIA's response shot across the bow.

Butt out.

Let us instead trust Allen Dulles and the Warren Commission to heal the nation's grief. And we certainly don't want to cripple our intelligence operations at this critical Cold War crisis moment in south Vietnam.

In fact, it wasn't until over a decade later that the Church Committee in the mid-70's probed into such indelicate matters, and only then in the aftermath of Vietnam and the COINTELPRO scandal. Only then did the stories come out about the CIA's links to organized crime, plots to assassinate Fidel, the black budget, and so forth. To this very day, the official line from Langley is that these pesky, Church-like Congressional inquiries into CIA derring do (and its embarrassing blowback) are themselves a threat to national security.

Butt out. Trust us. We are keeping you safe. Just trust us.

Thanks, Mr. McGovern, for this fascinating historical tidbit and its linkage to the latest scholarship on the Kennedy assassination.

You've identified the remedy all right. Now all we need is people in the legislative branch of our government with the courage to discharge their elected civic duty.

Bill from Saginaw