Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Book Extract: A Very Short History Of The CIA

With yesterday's heavily redacted release of only about 20% of the CIA torture report, it seems timely to post this extract from my forthcoming book...


By this time, the cabal of deeply ambitious politicians who controlled George W. Bush had already seized control of the White House. Their success hinged on 25 electoral college votes from the state of Florida, where major US TV networks twice rescinded predictions of a winner based on unreliable machine-counted votes. The US Supreme Court eventually intervened to stop a second manual recount in Florida, after the first was declared unreliable. Bush was sworn in as President despite losing the nation's popular vote by over half a million ballots.

President George W. Bush (aka “Dubya” or “Bush 43”) was only the second person after John Quincy Adams to become US President after his father had also served as President. George H. W. Bush (aka “Bush 41”) had served as CIA Director (1976-77), Vice President (1981-89) and then an unpopular one-term President from 1989 to 1993.

Some claim that Dubya's grandfather Prescott Bush, a Senator from 1952 to 1963, was also penciled onto a list of possible 1960 Presidential candidates by his golfing buddy, President Eisenhower. But Prescott Bush might also have had trouble winning the popular vote, because as a director of the Union Banking Corporation he had been convicted under the Trading With The Enemy Act for hiding Nazi investments during World War Two.

Curiously, the US lawyer whose company helped Prescott Bush hide Union Bank's Nazi assets was Allen Welsh Dulles, who Eisenhower later appointed first civilian director of the CIA. Prior to WWII, however, lawyer brothers Allen Dulles and John Foster Dulles (who later became US Secretary of State) handled German WWI reparation payments while operating a Berlin office for US businessmen dealing with Hitler's regime. Many of their wealthy US customers were disappointed when Japan's 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor triggered the United States' entry into war against Hitler's Third Reich.

Widespread US support for European Fascism has now been all but eradicated from the history books, but in fact the 1930s saw large Fascist rallies across the USA. In 1937, the U.S. Ambassador to Germany, William E. Dodd, complained:

"A clique of U.S. industrialists is hell-bent to bring a fascist state to supplant our democratic government and is working closely with the fascist regime in Germany and Italy. I have had plenty of opportunity in my post in Berlin to witness how close some of our American ruling families are to the Nazi regime. . . . Certain American industrialists had a great deal to do with bringing Fascist regimes into being in both Germany and Italy. They extended aid to help Fascism occupy the seat of power, and they are helping to keep it there."

A year later, President Roosevelt spelled it out even more clearly:

"The first truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in essence, is fascism - ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling power... Among us today, a concentration of private power without equal in history is growing."
- President Franklin D. Roosevelt , April 29, 1938.

President Roosevelt was reportedly deeply suspicious of Allen Dulles, and authorized British intelligence to wire-tap Dulles’ office. Roosevelt set up a new intelligence agency, the Office of the Coordinator of Information (which later became the CIA), and appointed Allen Dulles as head of the New York branch. Ironically, Dulles’ primary task was to investigate the very US business links he himself had established with the Nazis. According to one author, “Roosevelt was giving Dulles enough rope to hang himself.”

When British wiretaps proved that Dulles was continuing to work with his German business clients, Roosevelt seized a batch of Dulles-linked firms, including Prescott Bush's Union Banking Corp, under the Trading with the Enemy Act. Prescott Bush was convicted by the U.S. government and fined one million dollars. But Dulles himself was not charged with anything. The COI became the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and Allen Dulles spent the duration of WWII as the OSS station chief in Berne, Switzerland.

On April 12th, 1945, less than a month before Germany surrendered and shortly after being re-elected, President Roosevelt died. Although he was a heavy smoker and had been wheelchair bound after suffering childhood polio, Roosevelt’s sudden death has always been a favourite subject for conspiracy theorists. The official cause of death was “brain hemorrhage” but Roosevelt’s doctor always (publicly at least) insisted he was healthy and his medical records were never found.

Allen Dulles moved back to Berlin at the end of hostilities. He helped many influential former SS agents flee the country with their wealth and sometimes even their reputations intact, as the CIA recruited thousands of ex-Nazis into the US intelligence services. At the same time, the CIA was also recruiting Japanese War Criminals who had performed gruesome biological weapons experiments on live human beings, including women and children, with the secret Unit 731.

As CIA Director, Dulles went on to oversee the CIA's MKULTRA mind control experiments and Operation Mockingbird, a project to infiltrate and control mainstream media organisations. He was involved in the 1953 coup in Iran and the 1954 coup in Guatemala, along with the deadly sabotage of Cuba by Operation 40. But in 1961, after the Bay Of Pigs fiasco (details of which the CIA still refuses to disclose on the grounds that it "might confuse the public"), Allen Dulles and his closest cohorts were finally sacked. President John F. Kennedy angrily declared that he wanted to "splinter the CIA into a thousand pieces and scatter it into the winds."

Two years later, Allen Dulles was appointed to the Warren Commission, which investigated Kennedy's assassination. And we all know how that turned out.


*

George Herbert Walker Bush (“Bush 41”), an ambitious West Texas oil man, allegedly became a CIA agent around the same time Allen Dulles was fired. He was appointed Director of the CIA by President Ford after CIA boss William Colby was dismissed in the wake of the Nixon Watergate scandal.

Colby, who later died in a mysterious boating accident, was sacked because he had been too open about CIA secrets exposed by the post-Watergate Church Commission inquiry. Bush's job was to shut down the public flow of information and restore CIA staff morale. No doubt he also had personal reasons for wanting CIA secrets kept out of the public eye: according to one Nixon staffer, when Bush heard about the Watergate "smoking gun" transcript "he broke into assholes and shit himself to death".

Speaking of death, a US citizen was assassinated in the middle of Washington DC in 1976, while Bush was CIA Director, and very few people nowadays even know about it. Ronni Moffit was killed when Chilean secret service agents blew up the car she was traveling in with her husband and her boss, Orlando Letelier, the de facto leader of the Chilean resistance after the 1973 US-backed coup that brought the dictator Augusto Pinochet to power. The State Department and the FBI were aware the Chilean agents had entered the USA on false visas, claiming they were “on CIA business”. According to John Dinges, co-author of Assassination on Embassy Row, "the CIA had inside intelligence about the assassination alliance at least two months before Letelier was killed but failed to act to stop the plans." 

Bush lasted less than a year as CIA Director. When incoming President Jimmy Carter replaced him, Bush started plotting his own run for the White House. Like Prescott Bush, the unpopular George H. W. Bush was considered “unelectable” when he ran against Hollywood actor Ronald Reagan for the 1980 GOP nomination. As Reagan warned the Republican Party faithful:

“A coalition of multinational corporate executives, big-city bankers, and hungry power brokers... want to give you George Bush... their purpose is to control the American government.”

Bush in turn ridiculed Reagan's “trickle-down economics” - based on massive tax cuts for the rich - as “voodoo economics”. Bush eventually lost the GOP nomination, but used his strong political and financial connections to pressure his way onto the winning Reagan-Bush ticket.

As Vice President under Ronald Reagan, “Bush Senior” was involved in the Iran-Contra scandal, where the CIA illegally sold guns to fund guerrillas in Nicaragua (Bush escaped public censure and later pardoned all those those indicted or convicted in the affair). Curiously, when President Reagan was shot and nearly killed by John Hinkley Junior in 1981, the brother of the “lone gunman” was scheduled to have dinner with Vice President Bush's son Neil Bush on the following day. With Reagan hospitalized, Bush's spokesperson repeatedly dismissed media questions about this as a mere coincidence.

Riding the coat-tails of Reagan's popularity to become President himself in 1988, George H. W. Bush's election catch-phrase was, “Read my lips: no new taxes.” GOP voters had been duped into thinking Reagan's “trickle-down economics” was working miracles, but in fact the national deficit tripled to $220 billion between 1980 and 1990. After President Bush betrayed voters by accepting a Democrats plan to cut spending and raise taxes, his polls never recovered.

As a one-term President, George H. W. Bush also invaded Panama to overthrow former US ally Manuel Noriega, instituted the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and repelled Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's 1990 invasion of Kuwait in what became knows as the Gulf War or the First Iraq War. Bush was heavily criticized by pro-war “hawks” at home after US troops chased demoralised Iraqi troops all the way back to Basra, leaving the highway from Kuwait strewn with slaughtered bodies and demolished vehicles, but then returned home without removing Hussein from power.


*

Sworn into power on January 20th, 2001 as the United States' 43rd President, George Walker “Dubya” Bush, was surrounded by many key figures who had previously served in his father's 41st administration. Many of them were determined to go back to Iraq and “finish the job”.

  • Vice President Dick Cheney, who served as Secretary of Defence under Bush 41 then became Chairman and CEO of the Halliburton oil company, had “reluctantly” appointed himself as George W. Bush's running mate after claiming he he could not find anyone more qualified. Cheney held onto $39 million dollars worth of Halliburton stock options, even though he had screened other VP candidates for just such conflicts of interest. He assembled a secret energy task force of senior oil executives (at a time when Peak Oil was still being dismissed as a fantasy) and allegedly pitched the coming invasion of Iraq to them as a solution to all their problems . After the invasion, Halliburton was awarded enormous no-bid contracts and the company's stock price rose from about $6 a share in 2002 to nearly $50 a share by end of 2005. Other oil companies like Kellog, Brown and Root (KBR), which had links to the Bush dynasty through Brown Brothers Harriman, also profited handsomely from taxpayer funding. Cheney quickly became most powerful VP in US history, redefining the role by assuming new powers without challenge.

  • While working as head of President Nixon's Office of Economic Opportunity, Donald Rumsfeld had hired both Dick Cheney and Frank Carlucci (who became Secretary of Defence under Reagan and later head of the powerful Carlyle Group). Nixon called Rumsfeld “a ruthless little bastard”. On November 4th 1975, in a massive cabinet shake-up dubbed the “Holloween Massacre”, President Ford appointed Rumsfeld his Secretary of Defence, Cheney his Chief of Staff, and Bush 41 head of the CIA. In 1983, as Ronald Reagan's Special Envoy to the Middle East, Rumsfeld was dispatched to meet Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in Baghdad, to whom the US sold chemical weapons. It was Cheney who recommended Rumsfeld become Bush 43's Secretary of Defence.

  • Promoted to 4-star US Army General by Bush 41, Colin Powell served under four Presidents and was frequently touted as a Presidential candidate himself. While not personally involved, he was a member of the US Army unit that committed the My Lai massacre in Vietnam, and later assisted in the attempted cover-up. Powell was Bush 41's President of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the 1990-91 Gulf War. Bush 43 appointed him the USA's first African American Secretary of State. Applauded as a “moderate” because he insisted that an international coalition was needed to legitimize the US invasion of Iraq, Powell disgraced himself in February 2003 by presenting forged, fake and plagiarized evidence of alleged Iraq Weapons Of Mass Destruction (WMDs) to the UN Security Council. Powell later complained that he had been given only 4 days to review the intelligence, and said Dick Cheney had joked with him: "You've got high poll ratings; you can afford to lose a few points."

  • As a senior CIA employee who spent 26 years with “the agency”, Robert Gates was also involved in the Iran-Contra affair. Bush 41 had to nominate him twice before the Senate confirmed his appointment as CIA Director in 1991. During his rocky confirmation hearings, the New York Times reported that "Mr. Gates distorted intelligence reports so they would conform to the political beliefs of his superiors." Gates turned down Bush 43's offer to become the new Director of National Intelligence in 2005, but a year later he accepted an offer to replace Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense, a position he retained through the unsuccessful Bush “surge” in troops numbers until their 2011 “draw down” under President Obama.

  • Paul O'Neill turned down an offer to become Bush 41's Secretary Of Defence, but accepted the role of Secretary of the Treasury under Bush 43. He was fired in December 2002 after publishing a report warning of a looming US financial crisis. He later told reporter Ron Suskind that the invasion of Iraq was already being planned at the very first cabinet meeting of the new Bush administration, and the debate was not "should we attack Iraq?" but rather "how do we go about attacking Iraq?" 

In some ways, however, the old guard from the Bush 41 administration were less bellicose than the Neoconservatives (or “Neocons”) who now infested the White House. Cheney and Rumsfeld were influential members of both camps.

The Project for the New American Century (PNAC) was a Neocon think-tank established in 1997, based on the premise that as the world's sole remaining superpower, the United States was now well positioned for 100 years of global dominance. Cheney and Rumsfeld were among 25 signatories to the PNAC group's initial “Statement of Principles”, along with Rumsfeld's deputy Paul Wolfowitz, Dubya's brother Jeb Bush, and Cheney's Chief Of Staff “Scooter” Libby. At least 18 PNAC members or signatories, including John Bolton, Elliott Abrams, Richard Perle, and Paul Bremer, were appointed to key positions within President G.W. Bush's administration.

A month before the 2000 election and a decade after the end of the Cold War, while many were sensibly arguing that the US should begin scaling back its massive military spending, the Neocons released a PNAC document titled Rebuilding America's Defenses. It argued that the USA should take a more pro-active role in global "constabulary duties”, and urged massive investment in the US military so it could “fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous major theater wars”. It wanted the US military overhauled with modern, computerized weapons such as drones, satellites and unmanned vehicles, and insisted the USA needed to be able to dominate both space and cyberspace. But Section V lamented the expected lack of US public and political support for such radical and expensive changes, stating:

"The process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event––like a new Pearl Harbor."

*

On August 6th, 2001, George W. Bush received a presidential daily briefing, in which he was warned: “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.” Bush listened to the briefing, then dismissed the CIA staffer who delivered it:
All right. You’ve covered your ass, now.”
Then he went fishing.

*
You can read more about the CIA in Australia here.

The book I am working on is about much more than just the extract above, and it is still very much a work in progress. Stay tuned...

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