Central Intelligence Agency

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The CIA Headquarters

The Central Intelligence Agency, or CIA is an intelligence-gathering agency in the United States government. As the U.S.'s primary intelligence agency, it is responsible for obtaining and analyzing information about foreign governments, corporations, entities, and persons, and reporting such information to the branches of the U.S. government. The head is the "Director of Central Intelligence" (DCI).

It is also involved in covert espionage and paramilitary operations in support of its mission to protect the national security of the United States.

Based in Langley, Virginia, the CIA is a widespread organization spanning the globe.

The CIA Seal


OSS in World War II

In 1941 President Franklin D. Roosevelt was relying on intelligence information provided by British intelligence (and slanted by them to favor their position.) In 1941 he created the OSS Office of Strategic Services, which was the first independent US intelligence agency. Due to extensive Soviet-Communist penetration,[1] the OSS was disbanded after the war and its functions were split between the Departments of State and War. A Central Intelligence Group was reorganized in January 1946.[2]

CIA established 1947

in 1944, William J. Donovan, the OSS's head, proposed a new organization directly supervised by the President: "which will procure intelligence both by overt and covert methods and will at the same time provide intelligence guidance, determine national intelligence objectives, and correlate the intelligence material collected by all government agencies." Under Donovan's plan, a powerful, centralized civilian agency would have coordinated all the intelligence services, including those run by the military. He also proposed that this agency have authority to conduct "subversive operations abroad," but "no police or law enforcement functions, either at home or abroad."

In September 1947, the National Security Act of 1947 established both the "National Security Council" and the Central Intelligence Agency. Americans, still mesmerized by the intelligence failure at Pearl Harbor, welcomed the new spy agency because it seemed to promise the nation would always stay on alert. The CIA's Ivy League intellectuals and scions of high society contrasted sharply with the Pentagon brass; an adversarial relationship was born that still sours relations between the two. The CIA's budget was minuscule ($5 million) until NSC-68 in 1950 provided blueprints for an active Cold War.


From the start isolationists warned of the danger that the CIA might become an out-of-control "American Gestapo" like the Nazi secret police, which could trample American civil liberties On the other side was fear of a nuclear Pearl Harbor without warning.

In general Congress defered to the White House until the 1970s on intelligence matters. Only a few members of a few select committees had any legislative oversight; they kept floor debate and written records to a minimum. Congress supported covert action, even though Roscoe Hillenkoetter (DCI 1947-50) and Walter Bedell Smith (DCI 1950-53), both military men, showed little interest. President Eisenhower, by contrast, demanded more covert activities and Allen Dulles (DCI 1953-61) obliged.

Congressional support for more aggressive policies increased throughout the 1950s. Congress took its oversight responsibilities seriously and even challenged the CIA when an alarming intelligence failure, such as when the CIA failed to predict the Soviet acquisition of the atomic bomb (1950), the Korean War (1953), the Hungarian uprising (1956), or the U-2 downing (1960). Eisenhower discouraged Congressional probes of agency activities, but Dulles, sometimes gained Congressional support by leaking bits of information to influential conngressmen.[3]

The CIA often functions as a resource to both individual legislators and congressional committees supplying related background and assessment for congressional decision. An example of this is the 1991 referral to the agency by Senator Jesse Helms, ranking member of Minority Staff of the Committee on Foreign Relations, requesting information and verification of information coming from Israel concerning the survival of the passsengers and crew (including Cong. Larry McDonald) of Korean Airlines Flight 007, shot down by the Soviets in 1983. Helms wrote his letter [1] to Boris Yelstin requesting the military communications of the shootdown and locations of camps holding suvivors based on the CIA response to his request [2].

Soviet Estimates

The CIA began systematic estimates of the Soviet economy during Max Millikan's tenure as the founding director of the Office of Research and Reports (1951-1952). The strategy was to start with an "inventory of ignorance" and then reduce the list of unknowns through successive approximations. Soviet military expenditures were estimated by the "building-block method," which began by estimating the number ships, planes, jeeps, barracks and even soldiers in use, then estimating the procurement and operating costs of each, and adding them up using estimated prices. The building blocks had advantages in that published data on physical units seemed accurate and in any case were easier to verify through covert means. The elaborate reports of the 1990s included almost 1800 such categories. Since the Soviets lackd computers and had rudimentary accounting procedures, the CIA had a better overall picture of Soviet military spending than did the Kremlin. The reports emphasized physical units, realizing that expenditures alone could not predict what sort of military threat in the future would be presented by the Red Army. To estimate costs the CIA used analogs--using Soviet trucks or American tanks, for instance, to estimate the costs of Soviet tanks--and then adjusted for differences in weight and performance. Analog-based data, far shakier than direct-cost data, accounted for over half of earlier estimates, dropping to about one-third by the late 1980s. In the 1960s the CIA increasingly used quantitative techniques, of the sort promoted in American business schools. A crisis in the mid-1970s was caused by as a combination of external pressures, new data (some from a key Russian who defected to the West) and internal works forced a major revision of the defense burden, showing the proportion of of the overall Soviet economy devoted to the military. The crisis sparked heated public debate when the CIA announced that their earlier estimates of Soviet defense spending at 6-8% of GNP was too low by as much as half; the revised estimated burden ranged from 11-13%, indicating a severe economic burden that slowed Soviet growth.[4]

Directorate of Science & Technology

The Directorate of Science & Technology was established to research, create, and manage technical collection disciplines and equipment. Many of its innovations were transferred to other intelligence organizations, or, as they became more overt, to the military services. Albert D. "Bud" Wheeler (1963-66) and Carl E. Duckett (1966-76) built the directorate into a strong component of the CIA and then guided it through its golden age of technical innovation. In contrast, decisions by Ruth David (1995-98) contributed, Richelson (2001) argues, to a decline in the importance and status of the directorate as it lost control over key responsibilities, including the analysis of satellite photography.

Richelson (2001) explains the major DS&T's achievements, especially reconnaissance airplanes and a series of increasingly sophisticated surveillance satellites, with cameras that could photograph Soviet bomber bases and missile sites with startling clarity from orbits deep in space. In 1960, the first effective satellite produced coverage of more than one million square miles, surpassing all previous U-2 photography combined. This imagery revealed that the Soviets had far fewer bombers and (later) ICBMs than the Pentagon expected. The worst-case estimates of the U.S. Air Force proved wildly exaggerated, and the myths of the bomber and missile "gaps" were punctured by empirical data.

Dulles years 1953-51

Allen Dulles, who had been a key OSS operations officer in Switzerland during the Second World War, took over from Smith, at a time where US policy was dominated by a containment policy, with serious discussions of roll-back policies going on, especially in the State Department. Dulles enjoyed a high degree of flexibility, as his brother, John Foster Dulles, was simultaneously Secretary of State. Allen Dulles was head of CIA 1953-61.

Allen Dulles became the trusted advisor on what was going to happen in the world to President Eisenhower and to his brother John Foster Dulles. The CIA gathered information and provided written assessments of the capabilities and intentions of all world leaders. Its regular briefings gave each president the sense that he knew exactly what was happening across the globe. Like ingenious prognosticators through the ages, the CIA's predictions seemed highly explicit yet never could quite be pinned down. They failed to predict any of the major surprises of the postwar era. On the other hand, estimates of the performance of the Soviet economy proved much more accurate than the information Moscow itself possessed, and forecast the failure of that economy in the 1980s.

Numerous covert actions were launched to neutralize perceived Communist expansion in Iran and Guatemala. Some of the largest operations were aimed at Cuba after the coming to power of the communists in early 1960. In 1960-61 the CIA organized Cuban exiles, whose invasion of Cuba failed totally at the Bay of Pigs invasion.

Dulles devoted 80% of his much enlarged budget ($82 million) to covert (secret) operations to contain Communism. On the other side was the Soviet KGB. The head of the K.G.B.'s first chief directorate, Leonid Shabarshin later explained, "The essence of the KGB's active undertakings was to inflict political and moral damage on our basic opponent, the United States. . . . [so] We compromised political figures, organs of the press, and Americans whose activities were in some way unwelcome [to the Soviets]." The KGB veteran revealed that every "active measure" against the enemies of the Soviet Union abroad was submitted by KGB to the Politburo “and was implemented only with its permission. The results of the action were also reported to the Politburo."[5] Which side performed better remains an open question. CIA money subsidized anti-communist intellectuals and strengthened liberal political parties across Europe and the Third World. Striking low-cost successes early on reinforced the CIA's mastermind image. CIA-supported parties defeated the Communists in Italy and France in the late 1940s. A handful of agents provided assistance to opposition groups which forced anti-American prime ministers out of office in Iran (1953) and Guatemala (1954). CIA counterintelligence tried to neutralize the KGB and other hostile agencies, like the GRU (Soviet military intelligence), Communist East Germany's Stasi and Cuba's DGI.

Early Operations

The principal problem facing the first generation of covert operators was murky objectives. Was covert action designed merely to "contain" the Soviet Union or to "roll it back?" Covert operations were handled by the CIA's "Office of Policy Coordination" (OPC). There was confusion on its mission OPC --was it merely to stir up trouble behind the Iron Curtain or to "liberate" and rollback the Kremlin's Eastern European satellites? One early covert operation was a total failure in Albania, where the OPC worked with Britain's MI6 to train and deploy anti-communist commandos committed to overthrowing the Soviet-backed regime of Enver Hoxha. Frank Wisner, the first OPC director, regarded the Albanian operation as "a clinical experiment to see whether larger rollback operations would be feasible elsewhere," but Kim Philby, a Soviet mole inside MI6, leaked the details to the Kremlin, with ghastly results for the anti-Hoxha forces.

Iran 1953

Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh, originally elected in one of the Shah's elections, had driven out the Shah and become the de facto dictator of Iran, as he dissolved the Parliament and abolished free elections with a secret ballot, after declaring victory in a referendum where he claimed 99.9% of the vote.[6] He gained power through organized terrorism and received funding from the KGB.[7] Suppressing widespread discontent, as recounted in a 2003 Time Magazine report, he ordered police to violently massacre more than 300 unarmed protestors.[8] Under his rule, Iran became the first Middle Eastern country to simply steal and nationalize Western oil fields--even though the Iranians did not know how to use them on their own.[9] The result was the total collapse of the Iranian economy. Iranian oil supplies were taken off the world market.[10][11] This doomed all future economic development in Iran, a "basket-case" nation plagued with rampant disease, illiteracy, and religious fanaticism. President Truman had met with Mossadegh and pledged US support against the English, expressing admiration for his efforts at economic justice. His administration concluded that England sought "a rule or ruin" policy on Iran. The Eisenhower administration saw things rather differently.

When Mossadegh delayed settling with Anglo-Iranian Oil on the takeover of the company, the British, under Winston Churchill, approached the CIA with a plan to remove the Premier. The British could not do it alone. Allen Dulles, the CIA director, and his brother John Foster Dulles, the Secretary of State, agreed. The Dulles brothers assigned the task of overseeing the clandestine venture to intelligence operative Kermit Roosevelt.[12] According to Time:

The CIA's fingerprints were everywhere. Operatives paid off Iranian newspaper editors to print pro-Shah and anti-Mossadegh stories. They produced their own stories and editorial cartoons and published fabricated interviews. They secured the cooperation of the Iranian military. They spread antigovernment rumors. They prepared phony documents to show secret agreements between Mossadegh and the local Communist Party. They masqueraded as communists, threatened conservative Muslim clerics and even staged a sham fire-bombing of the home of a religious leader. They incited rioters to set fire to a pro-Mossadegh newspaper. They stage-managed the appearance of Mossadegh's successor, General Zahedi, whose personal bank account they fattened.

Mossadegh was overthrown, and the ousted Shah returned to Iran in triumph. Cheering crowds trumpeted his return, as he promptly launched new electoral reforms introducing voting to all members of society--including women. Iran was praised in the West as a beacon of stability, and maintained close relations with the United States until 1979.

The administration of Bill Clinton formally apologized to Iran for the CIA-supported coup in a speech made in 2000.[13] President Barack Obama also made a seperate apology.[14]

Conrad Black, arguing that the CIA role was minimal as compared to the efforts of the Iranian army and the internal fighting in Iran, mocked Obama over "his apology for President Eisenhower’s approval of the overthrow of the deranged Iranian demagogue Mohammed Mossadegh."[15]

Guatemala 1954

The CIA helped overthrow the government of Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán in Guatemala in 1954. This was one of its most controversial operations, its model for subsequent covert action against countries like Cuba, and its first attempt at regime change in Latin America.

Arbenz was democratically elected. He considered himself a socialist and joined the Communist Party in 1957. His land reform, designed by the Communist Party, was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, which he then purged. It sought to remove land held by multinational corporations, and give it to landless working class peasants, who toiled under neo-colonial, feudalistic conditions. His regime openly praised Stalin, relied on the communists for key decisions, and received arms from the Soviet bloc.[16] He killed hundreds of his opponents.[17] The CIA intervened because it feared that a communist dictatorship would become a Soviet beachhead in the Western Hemisphere, and also because they feared that similar uprisings of the masses against foreign powers and corporations might occur in the neighboring countries of El Salvador and Honduras[18]

The Truman administration began developing contingency plans to remove Arbenz in 1952, in the event that he became a threat to American interests in the region. In the face of widespread popular discontent in Guatemala and mass protests organized by the Catholic Church, the CIA used black propaganda to spread panic among the population. In the midst of a low-level internal civil war, the Eisenhower administration mobilized disaffected Guatemalan exiles to invade the country from neighboring Honduras. Arbenz, a fighter until the end, donned his colonel's uniform and prepared himself for war with the United States. Ultimately, however, there was very little fighting at all; the military failed to support Arbenz due to its own concerns over his perceived radicalism. The US-armed rebellion quickly took over the country, to the surprise of the CIA, which had expected much fiercer resistance. With the army promptly joining the revolt, Arbenz fled the country in a panic. He was allowed exile by the new regime.

Vice-President Richard Nixon praised the new elections held by the military regime, declaring that Guatemala represented "the first time in history that a Communist government has ever been overthrown and replaced by a free one." However, Guatemala would be plagued with instability for decades. A series of military coups rocked the country, as Soviet and Cuban support for Communist violence caused bloody civil strife. After a 1982 coup, Guatemala was placed under a US arms embargo imposed on human rights grounds. A vicious genocide reminiscent of the mass killing of the Hmong in Laos was then carried out against the Mayan Indians, in which scores of thousands were massacred.

In Guatemala in 1954, the CIA operation was marked by chronic lapses in security, the failure to plan beyond the operation's first stages, the Agency's poor understanding of the intentions of the Guatemalan Army, the local communist party (the Guatemalan Labor Party), and the government, the hopeless weakness of invasion leader Carlos Castillo Armas's troops, and the failure to make provisions for the possibility of defeat. Just as the entire operation seemed hopeless, and before there were any significant violent attacks against it, the leftist Guatemalan government suddenly, inexplicably collapsed and a pro-American government took over.[19]

Congo Crisis

Humberto Fontova has written with his characteristic wit and élan:

Later, many of these Cuban-American BOP vets itched to get back into the fight (but with ammo and air cover this time). The CIA obliged and sent them with ex-marine Rip Robertson to the Congo in ‘65. There they linked up with the legendary mercenary "Mad Mike" Hoare and his "Wild Geese."

Together Mad Mike, Rip and the Cubans made short work of the alternately Chinese-and Soviet-backed "Simbas" of Laurent Kabila, who were murdering, raping and munching (many were cannibals) their way through the defenseless Europeans still left in the recently abandoned Belgian colony.

Forget Frank Church and the Clintonites. Ask the hundreds of Europeans rescued from butchery (literally!) by these men. You'll hear a different song, believe me. You can read about their exploits in Hoare's book, "Congo Mercenary," and in Enrique Ros' "Cubanos Combatientes" (sadly, available only in Spanish).

Kabila made Idi Amin look like Gandhi. Castro, itching to be rid of this nuisance, sent Che (code-named "Tatu") and a force of his rebel army "veterans" to help these cannibals. The Congolese reds, unfamiliar with Che's true record, accepted Tatu gratefully.

The masterful "Tatu's" first order of business was plotting an attack on a garrison guarding a hydroelectric plant in a place called Front Bendela on the Kimbi River in Eastern Congo. His masterstroke was to be an elaborate ambush of the garrison.

The wily Tatu was stealthily leading his force into position when they heard shots. Whoops! ... Hey?! WHAT THE?! Ambushers became ambushed – and by the same garrison he thought was guarding the plant. Che lost half his men and barely escaped with his life.

....Thing was, any teen gang member in East L.A. or south Bronx has 10 times the battle experience and savvy of any of these strutting Fidelista "Comandantes." Imagine the Germans atop Monte Cassino outnumbering and outgunning the Allies 10 to 1 in early ‘44. Hell, they'd STILL be there. It was a defender's dream.

Well, the brilliant Tatu and his comandantes had that very set-up in a place called Fizi-Baraka in Eastern Congo for their second clash with the mad dogs of imperialism. Mad Mike and his CIA allies sized the place up and attacked. Within one day the mighty Che's entire force was scrambling away in panic, throwing away their arms, running and screaming like old ladies with rats running up their legs.[20]

Brazil 1964

On March 30, the American military attaché in Brazil, Colonel Vernon A. Walters, telegraphed the State Department. In that telegraph, he confirmed that Brazilian army generals, independently of the US, had committed themselves to acting against President João Goulart within a week of the meeting, but no date was set.[21]

Declassified transcripts of communications between Lincoln Gordon and the US government show that, predicting an all-out civil war, President Johnson authorized logistical materials to be in place to support the coup-side of the rebellion as part of U.S. Operation Brother Sam.[22]

In the telegraphs, Gordon also acknowledges US involvement in "covert support for pro-democracy street rallies…and encouragement [of] democratic and anti-communist sentiment in Congress, armed forces, friendly labor and student groups, church, and business" and that he "may be requesting modest supplementary funds for other covert action programs in the near future."[23]

Chile 1970-3

The CIA opposed the Communist regime of Salvador Allende in Chile, which was originally elected with a minority of the vote and subsequently achieved dictatorial powers.

The CIA, as recounted in the Church Committee report, was involved in various plots designed to remove Allende and then let the Chileans vote in a new election where he would not be a candidate: It tried to buy off the Chilean Congress to prevent his appointment, attempted to have him exiled, worked to sway public opinion against him to prevent his election, tried to foil his political aspirations during the Lyndon B. Johnson administration, and financed protests designed to bring the country to a stand-still and make him resign.[24] Convinced that a conventional military uprising was still not possible in Chile, the CIA, acting with the approval of the 40 Committee—the body charged with overseeing covert actions abroad—devised what in effect was a constitutional coup. The most expeditious way to prevent Allende from assuming office was somehow to convince the Chilean congress to confirm Alessandri as the winner of the election. Once elected by the congress, Alessandri—a party to the plot through intermediaries—was prepared to resign his presidency within a matter of days so that new elections could be held.[25][26] The CIA also learned of a number of plots to establish a military dictatorship. Although it pointedly refused to materially assist any of them, and actually intervened to prevent one of the plots for fear it would fail and strengthen Allende; it also encouraged several of the plots and did nothing to prevent them. It assured the plotters that such an event would be welcomed in Washington and that the US would not cut off aid over potential human rights violations.[27] In addition, the CIA provided funding for the mass anti-government strikes in 1972 and 1973. Though the CIA maintained contact with a notorious right-wing extremist named Roberto Viaux, Nixon and Kissinger, recognizing that "nothing could be worse than an abortive coup," repeatedly relayed messages to him urging restraint and went to great lengths to deter him from staging a coup.[28][29]

Although the US considered economic sanctions against the Allende regime, it never actually implemented them. Although Latin Americans viewed the US as omnipotent, future Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet mocked it as a paper tiger and felt free to launch terrorist attacks in Washington, D.C., during his reign. The US ended up giving more aid to Allende's Chile than any of the prior administrations. The US worked to diffuse potential coups that it had once warmly encouraged, fearing that it would be blamed if they failed. Though hesitant and uneasy, the CIA vowed to "continue to put pressure on every Allende weak spot" even after his appointment. The CIA had warned that the odds of either a military or a constitutional coup succeeding were one in twenty; after they both failed to occur in 1970, US policy shifted towards maintaining a democratic opposition to the Allende regime.

US intelligence reports implicated Allende in the assassination of several opponents,[30] while KGB files smuggled out of Russia by Vasily Mitrokhin indicate that Allende received funds from the Soviet Union.[31] Allende was formally condemned by Chile's parliament for systematically destroying democracy in Chile.[32] The Chilean Chamber of Deputies Resolution of August 22, 1973, accused Allende of support of armed groups, torture, illegal arrests, muzzling the press, confiscating private property, and not allowing people to leave the country. In the infamous "Cuban Packages Scandal" that precipitated the coup, large quantities of weapons were sent from Castro's Cuba to arm pro-Allende terrorists in Chile.[33] Kissinger privately told Nixon that Allende might declare martial law.[34] By 1973, as a result of covert US aid to Chilean dissidents and financing of pro-democracy protestors, US intelligence indicated Allende would likely lose the next Chilean election if it was held.[35] According to The Wall Street Journal, faced with illegal seizures of farms and factories, of defiance of judicial orders, unchecked street violence and death threats against the judges themselves, the Supreme Court warned on May 26, 1973, in a unanimous and unprecedented message, that Chile faced "a peremptory or imminent breakdown of legality."[36] Inflation reached 1,000%. Volodia Teitelboim, the chief ideologue of the Communist Party in Chile, declared that if civil war came, "it probably would signify immense loss of human lives, between half a million and one million."[37]

On September 11, 1973, Allende committed suicide during a military coup launched by Army Commander-in-Chief Augusto Pinochet, who became President. Allende's policies had turned the country into a dictatorship that would kill thousands.

On September 16, 1973, the following exchange about the coup took place between Kissinger and President Nixon:

Nixon: Nothing new of any importance or is there?
Kissinger: Nothing of very great consequence. The Chilean thing is getting consolidated and of course the newspapers are bleeding because a pro-Communist government has been overthrown.
Nixon: Isn't that something. Isn't that something.
Kissinger: I mean instead of celebrating – in the Eisenhower period we would be heroes.
Nixon: Well we didn't – as you know – our hand doesn't show on this one though.
Kissinger: We didn't do it. I mean we helped them....created the conditions as great as possible.
Nixon: That is right. And that is the way it is going to be played.[38]

Kissinger is clearly telling the President that any direct US role in such a coup would be abhorrent but that the coup itself was preferable to a Communist take-over (with both agreeing that the US did not assist the plot).

Chilean author Joaquín Fermandois, noting the meetings with Chilean generals in which the US encouraged a potential coup, concluded that the US "wanted Allende out" and that the notion of free elections being held subsequently was not a prerequisite, but simply one possible outcome (i.e., if the Allessandri plot worked). He wrote: "What they wanted was to prevent Allende from coming to power, if necessary by the intervention of the military."[39] However, considering the involvement of Cuba, Russia, Brazil and other powers at the same time, he discusses whether or not this support was "moral, immoral, or amoral," concluding that the CIA was unable to make a serious difference and that Chile illustrates the tragic irony of "the myth of American omnipotence." The conflict was an internal civil war, and one should not be surprised to see foreign powers involve themselves in it; the notion that "the CIA was behind everything," he says, is simply a myth. (In fact, the Soviet Union and the United States were the two powers that both refused, unlike Brazil and Cuba, to materially assist plans to establish a dictatorial regime in Chile.) While Fermandois condemns the violence perpetrated by the Allende regime, including the illegal armed regiment from Cuba, he argues that it is as mythical to assert that it justified Pinochet's excesses as it is to call Allende a typical democratic leftist.[40] One supposes that the realist response to all this would be that if they're planning a coup either way; we might as well intervene against our possible foes and encourage our potential friends, as long as we don't materially assist the gambit (especially if one has already tried and failed to remove the de facto dictator through democratic means).

Kissinger and Ford began viewing Pinochet's regime as a serious Cold War liability as early as 1975 and the US engaged in repeated diplomatic confrontations with it from 1977 on.[41] The CIA warned that "internationally, the Latin generals look like our guys;" therefore, the US had a vested interest in moderating the way they behaved.

Using its leverage over Pinochet to curtail Chilean human rights abuses, the US simultaneously pressured Chile to introduce a series of free market economic reforms, a process that escalated sharply in the eighties. This led to a period of rapid economic expansion and development without precedent in Latin America, in which growth averaged 7% annually, that came to be known as the "miracle of Chile" (it also included the region's greatest reductions in infant mortality[42]). In turn, this allowed Chile to make a long-term transition to sustainable democratic rule that would likely have been otherwise inconceivable.[43]

Another aspect of the American role in Chile was an alleged attempt on the life of Chilean general Rene Schneider in 1970, due to his support for the appointment of Allende. The Church hearings found that the CIA did in fact give weapons to a group of men who it knew had attacked him twice before, ostensibly as a test of loyalty so that the CIA would remain privy to their information, but that the weapons provided and the group thereby armed were not the ones who actually killed him. The weapons were returned unused to the CIA and then discarded in the Pacific Ocean.[44] On June 11, 1971, Kissinger and Nixon said the following in a private conversation:

Kissinger: —when they did try to assassinate somebody, it took three attempts—
Nixon: Yeah.
Kissinger: —and he lived for three weeks afterwards.[45]

There are two possible interpretations of these remarks: a) Kissinger was telling the President that a military coup could not succeed in Chile because there were no officers both willing and able to carry one out; or b) the two men were mocking the CIA's squeamishness about killing Schneider.[46]

The Senate Intelligence Committee, in its investigation of the matter, concluded that since the machine guns supplied to Valenzuela had not actually been employed in the killing, and since General Viaux had been officially discouraged by the CIA a few days before the murder, there was therefore "no evidence of a plan to kill Schneider or that United States officials specifically anticipated that Schneider would be shot during the abduction." This view has been disputed by writer Christopher Hitchens.[47]

Iraq 1959 and 1973-5

The US-backed Iraqi monarchy was overthrown in 1958, an event which shocked President Eisenhower. Worse, the new regime was led by a de facto Communist dictator, General Abdel Karrim Qassem. Qassem was far bloodier than his predecessor. Further, he withdrew from the Baghdad Pact, an agreement between Iraq, Iran, Pakistan and other countries in the Middle East intended to deter the Soviets from intruding in the affairs of the region. Openly admiring of the USSR, Qassem repeatedly threatened his neighbors, including Iran, where a CIA-sponsored counter-coup had saved the Shah's regime from collapse in 1953. He publicly declared that Khuzestan province in northern Iran was really a part of Iraq, and allegedly armed secessionist revolts from the Arabs who lived there. He amassed troops to invade Kuwait, a move that nearly led to war between Iraq and England (which was committed by treaty to defend Kuwait).

Qassem was overthrown in a 1963 coup orchestrated significantly by the Ba'ath Party. The Ba'ath Party gained limited power in the new government, though it lacked control of the Presidency. It struggled with the military men who had assisted the coup for absolute power. The Ba'ath was purged a few months later, and would have to work to regain political influence. A series of coups and power struggles plagued Iraq until 1968, when the Ba'ath Party gained long-term power.

In July 1968, a bloodless coup led by General Ahmad Hasan al-Bakr, Saddam Hussein and Salah Omar Al-Ali besieged the Iraqi presidential palace and forced Iraqi President Abdul Rahman Arif to resign. The new regime immediately freed all of the Communist and leftist political prisoners of the regime, and heightened tensions with Iran. The Lyndon Johnson administration was vociferously opposed to the new regime, viewing it as a "radical" government brought to power in a "counter-coup" that strengthened the Soviet Union.[48] As a result, diplomatic relations with Iraq, cut off due to the 1967 Six Day War with Israel, remained completely severed for the next 16 years. The Iraqi government promptly seized all foreign oil fields for the purposes of "combating imperialism." The US made all arms sales to Iraq under this new regime formally illegal in a law passed by the US Congress.

In 1973, Kissinger and Nixon approved a covert CIA campaign of subversion and sabotage designed to bring down the Socialist government of Iraq. Done in collaboration with the Shah of neighboring Iran, it involved Soviet arms captured from Egypt and Syria in the 1973 war being dispatched to Kurdish rebels in Northern Iraq. The Shah cynically used the Kurds to pressure the Ba'athist government to back down on a number of serious territorial disputes between the two nations. The US brokered a peace treaty between Iraq and Iran in 1975, and aid to the Kurds was subsequently cut off. The Kurds were then viciously slaughtered. "Covert action should not be confused with missionary work," Kissinger famously declared.[49]

The CIA under Eisenhower had dealt with the rather similiar problem of Qassem's leftist regime in a rather similar manner: CIA-sponsored regime change. While Qassem was actually killed by a firing squad of the Ba'ath party that overthrew him, there had been a separate CIA plan to incapacitate him. In their request, they said the target's death would not be unacceptable to them, but was not the principal objective: "We do not consciously seek subject's permanent removal from the scene; we also do not object should this complication develop."

Angola 1975

In the Angolan Civil War, the Communist MPLA (People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola) government was pitted against various right-wing insurgencies as well as an invasion from South Africa. The CIA covertly attempted to overthrow the MPLA dictatorship in 1975,[50] but Cuba militarily intervened to save the regime from certain collapse. The Communist government subsequently killed up to one million people through massacre and forced starvation.[51] The U.S., advised by Kissinger, supported the rebels FNLA (National Front for the Liberation of Angola), led by Holden Roberto, and UNITA (National Union for the Total Independence of Angola), led by Jonas Savimbi, as well as the Mozambican National Resistance (RENAMO), and the invasion of Angola by South African troops. The FNLA was defeated and UNITA was forced to take its fight into the bush. Only under Reagan's presidency would U.S. support for UNITA return. (See Reagan Doctrine)

Angola would be plagued for decades with constant civil war. In 1992, blatantly rigged elections were held with next to no international supervision, in which MPLA claimed victory. After 500,000 UNITA voters were disenfranchised, UNITA sent a peace delegation to the capital; all of its members, along with 20,000 civilian supporters, were brutally massacred.[52] Nevertheless, Savimbi remained supportive of the elections, until the MPLA systematically exterminated many tens of thousands of UNITA supporters throughout the country. Human rights observers have accused the MPLA of "genocidal atrocities," "systematic extermination," "war crimes" and "crimes against humanity."[53]

The Democrats in Congress cut off aid to UNITA under President Ford, just as they abandoned South Vietnam and Cambodia to murderous Communist bloodbath. "A great nation cannot escape its responsibilities," Ford admonished them. Emboldened, Cuba would soon militarily intervene on behalf of the Communist dictatorship in Ethiopia, which killed 1.25 million people through massacre and forced starvation.[54]


Attacks on the CIA came to a head in the early 1970s, around the time of the Watergate political burglary affair. A dominant feature of political life during that period was the attempts of Congress to assert oversight of U.S. Presidency, take control of war-making, and more closely supervise the executive agencies.[55] Revelations about past CIA activities, such as assassinations and attempted assassinations of foreign leaders, illegal domestic spying on U.S. citizens, provided the opportunities to execute Congressional oversight of U.S. intelligence operations. Hastening the Central Intelligence Agency's fall from grace were the burglary of the Watergate headquarters of the Democratic Party by ex-CIA agents, and President Richard Nixon's subsequent use of the CIA to impede the FBI's investigation of the burglary.[56]

The CIA sent hundreds of agents to Vietnam and Laos to build up anticommunist guerrilla groups. The CIA assisted (but did not actually operate) the "Phoenix" program by which South Vietnamese police forces identified and arrested Viet Cong leaders (torturing many and killing several thousand of them). In the Eisenhower and Kennedy years, it planned several assassinations, with Fidel Castro a target of "Operation Mongoose." Castro was never harmed. Indeed, as a hostile Senate committee concluded, the agency did not in fact assassinate anyone. Congress has never passed a law forbidding assassinations, but every president since Ford has issued executive orders that prohibit direct (or indirect) attempts at assassination.

Revival under Reagan

In 1981 President Reagan appointed his campaign manager Bill Casey to run the CIA; Casey, a dynamic veteran of O.S.S. espionage, revived the CIA into a powerful instrument of rollback policy. With nuclear deterrence tying the Kremlin's hands, Casey used the CIA to attack the weak links in the Soviet empire. In Afghanistan, it funded and trained Mujahidin guerrillas who deliberately created "another Vietnam" to weaken the Soviet invaders, and indeed finally did defeat the Soviet invasion. Anti-Soviet operations in Afghanistan and Cambodia received strong support from Congress, but operations in Angola and especially Nicaragua became the focus of intense political controversy. When Congress one year prohibited the CIA from operating in Nicaragua, Reagan's White House exploited a loophole by sending its own staffer, Oliver North, to funnel arms and money to the Contra guerrillas.

Afghanistan 1978-89

From 1950 to 1979, U.S. foreign assistance provided Afghanistan with more than $500 million in loans, grants, and surplus agricultural commodities to develop transportation facilities, increase agricultural production, expand the educational system, stimulate industry, and improve government administration. The Peace Corps was active in Afghanistan between 1962 and 1979.

After the April 1978 Saur Revolution, relations between the two nations deteriorated. In February 1979, U.S. Ambassador Adolph "Spike" Dubs was murdered in Kabul after Afghan security forces burst in on his kidnappers. The U.S. then reduced bilateral assistance and terminated a small military training program. All remaining assistance agreements were ended after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

President Carter reacted with "open-mouthed shock" to the Soviet invasion, and began promptly arming the Afghan insurgents.[57] Vice-President Walter Mondale famously declared: "I cannot understand -- it just baffles me -- why the Soviets these last few years have behaved as they have. Maybe we have made some mistakes with them. Why did they have to build up all these arms? Why did they have to go into Afghanistan? Why can't they relax just a little bit about Eastern Europe? Why do they try every door to see if it is locked?"[58] The Soviets brutally murdered the Afghan President and his son, replacing him with a puppet regime, immediately after the invasion for fear that the US had secretly been collaborating with him.

One of the CIA's longest and most expensive covert operations was the supplying of billions of dollars in arms to the Afghan mujahideen militants.[59] About $3 billion dollars were sent to equip them through the Pakistani secret service, the ISI, in a program called Operation Cyclone.

The Soviet military invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979 significantly damaged the already tenuous relationship between Secretary of State Cyrus Vance and National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski. Vance felt that Brzezinski's linkage of SALT II ratification to other Soviet activities, together with the growing domestic criticisms in the United States of the accord, convinced Brezhnev to decide on military intervention in Afghanistan. Brzezinski, however, later recounted that he repeatedly advanced proposals on how to maintain Afghanistan's "independence" and deter a Soviet invasion but was frustrated by the Department of State's opposition.

According to Brzezinski, a National Security Council working group on Afghanistan wrote several reports on the deteriorating situation in 1979, but President Carter ignored them until the Soviet intervention destroyed his illusions. Brzezinski has stated that the US provided communications equipment and limited financial aid to the mujahideen prior to the "formal" invasion, but only in response to the Soviet deployment of forces to Afghanistan and the 1978 coup, and with the intention of preventing further Soviet encroachment in the region.[60] Two declassified documents signed by Carter shortly before the invasion do authorize the provision "unilaterally or through third countries as appropriate support to the Afghan insurgents either in the form of cash or non-military supplies" and the "worldwide" distribution of "non-attributable propaganda" to "expose" the leftist Afghan government as "despotic and subservient to the Soviet Union" and to "publicize the efforts of the Afghan insurgents to regain their country's sovereignty," but the records also show that the provision of arms to the rebels did not begin until 1980.[61][62] Vance's close aide Marshall Shulman "insists that the State Department worked hard to dissuade the Soviets from invading."[63] The American aid provided in 1979 was purely humanitarian in nature.

The Soviet invasion and occupation killed up to 2 million Afghans.[64] Brzezinski defended the arming of the rebels in response, saying that it "was quite important in hastening the end of the conflict," thereby saving the lives of thousands of Afghans, but "not in deciding the conflict, because actually the fact is that even though we helped the mujaheddin, they would have continued fighting without our help, because they were also getting a lot of money from the Persian Gulf and the Arab states, and they weren't going to quit. They didn't decide to fight because we urged them to. They're fighters, and they prefer to be independent. They just happen to have a curious complex: they don't like foreigners with guns in their country. And they were going to fight the Soviets. Giving them weapons was a very important forward step in defeating the Soviets, and that's all to the good as far as I'm concerned." When he was asked if he thought it was the right decision in retrospect (given the Taliban's subsequent rise to power), he said: "Which decision? For the Soviets to go in? The decision was the Soviets', and they went in. The Afghans would have resisted anyway, and they were resisting. I just told you: in my view, the Afghans would have prevailed in the end anyway, 'cause they had access to money, they had access to weapons, and they had the will to fight."[65]

With US and other funding, the ISI armed and trained over 100,000 insurgents. On July 20, 1987, the withdrawal of Soviet troops from the country was announced pursuant to the negotiations that led to the Geneva Accords of 1988,[66] with the last Soviets leaving on February 15, 1989.

The operation was a quintessential case of American ingenuity, in which the US offered overwhelming aid to a people resisting foreign subjugation, often through inventive and daring means. The invasion prompted an outpouring of sympathy in the United States, with films such as Rambo III, The Living Daylights, and The Beast romanticizing the rebels. President Reagan stated: "To watch the courageous Afghan freedom fighters battle modern arsenals with simple hand-held weapons is an inspiration to those who love freedom."

One of the Big Lies about this period is that the US supported the Taliban, Osama bin Laden, or al Qaeda. This silly myth has been extensivively debunked. Paul Bogdanor writes in The Top 200 Chomsky Lies:

This is "not true" since CIA money "went exclusively to the Afghan mujahideen groups, not the Arab volunteers" (Jason Burke). Bin Laden was "outside of CIA eyesight" and there is "no record of any direct contact" (Steve Coll). There is "no evidence" of funding, "nor is there any evidence of CIA personnel meeting with bin Laden or anyone in his circle" (Peter Bergen). There is "no support" in any "reliable source" for "the claim that the CIA funded bin Laden or any of the other Arab volunteers who came to support the mujahideen" (Christopher Andrew and Vasili Mitrokhin).[67]

Cambodia 1979-95

The Reagan Administration sought to apply the Reagan Doctrine of aiding anti-Soviet resistance movements abroad to Cambodia, which was under Vietnamese occupation following the Cambodian genocide carried out by the Communist Khmer Rouge. The Vietnamese had installed a Communist dictatorship led by a Khmer Rouge dissident. According to R.J. Rummel; the Vietnamese invasion, occupation, puppet regime, ongoing guerilla warfare, and ensuing famine killed over one million Cambodians in addition to the roughly 2.2 million who had been killed by the Khmer Rouge.[68] Ironically; the largest resistance movement fighting Cambodia's communist government was largely made up of members of the former Khmer Rouge regime, whose human rights record was among the worst of the 20th century. Therefore; Reagan authorized the provision of aid to a smaller Cambodian resistance movement, a coalition called the Khmer People's National Liberation Front, known as the KPNLF and then run by Son Sann; in an effort to force an end to the Vietnamese occupation. Eventually, the Vietnamese withdrew, and Cambodia's Communist regime fell.[69] Later, US troops, in concert with UN forces, invaded Cambodia and held free elections.[70]

El Salvador 1980-92

In the Salvadoran Civil War between the military-led government of El Salvador and the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN), a coalition or umbrella organization of five left-wing militias; the US supported the Salvadoran military government.[71][72] America also supported the centrist Christian Democrats, who were targets of death squads. The security forces were split between reformists and right-wing extremists, who used death squads to stop political and economic change. The Carter Administration repeatedly intervened to prevent right-wing coups. The Reagan Administration repeatedly threatened aid suspensions to halt right-wing atrocities. As a result, the death squads made plans to kill the American Ambassador.[73] After years of bloody fighting; the rebels were forced, in part due to US involvement, to concede defeat. The US then threatened to cut off aid to the Salvadoran regime unless it made democratic reforms, which might have let the rebels regroup. The regime accepted. As a result; a new Constitution was promulgated, the Armed Forces regulated, a civilian police force established, the FMLN metamorphosed from a guerrilla army to a political party that competed in free and fair elections, and an amnesty law was legislated in 1993.[74] El Salvador is today a prosperous and democratic nation. In 2002, a BBC article about President George W. Bush's visit to El Salvador reported that U.S. officials say that President George H.W. Bush's policies set the stage for peace, turning El Salvador into a democratic success story.[75]

Nicaragua 1981-90

After seizing power in Nicaragua, the Sandinista regime instituted dictatorial rule as early as December 1979, and formally announced a State of Emergency in 1982. Under the new "Law for the Maintenance of Order and Public Security" the "Tribunales Populares Anti-Somozistas" allowed for the indefinite holding of suspected counter-revolutionaries without trial. The State of Emergency, however, most notably affected rights and guarantees contained in the "Statute on Rights and Guarantees of Nicaraguans. Many civil liberties were curtailed or canceled such as the freedom to organize demonstrations, the inviolability of the home, freedom of the press, freedom of speech and, the freedom to strike. [76] All independent news program broadcasts were suspended. In total, twenty-four programs were cancelled. In addition, Sandinista censor Nelba Cecilia Blandón issued a decree ordering all radio stations to hook up every six hours to government radio station, La Voz de La Defensa de La Patria.[77] The rights affected also included certain procedural guarantees in the case of detention including habeas corpus.[78] The State of Emergency was not lifted during the 1984 elections. There were many instances where rallies of opposition parties were physically broken up by Sandinsta youth or pro-Sandinista mobs. Opponents to the State of Emergency argued its intent was to crush resistance to the FSLN. James Wheelock justified the actions of the Directorate by saying "... We are annulling the license of the false prophets and the oligarchs to attack the revolution.” [79]

Jamie Glazov describes human rights under this goverment as follows: "All Nicaraguans had to take part in the Marxist experiment. Thus, in perfect Khmer Rouge style, the Sandinistas inflicted a ruthless forcible relocation of tens of thousands of Indians from their land. Like Stalin, they used state-created famine as a weapon against these "enemies of the people." The Sandinista army committed myriad atrocities against the Indian population, killing and imprisoning approximately 15,000 innocent people. The crimes included not only mass murders of innocent natives themselves, but a calculated liquidation of their entire leadership – as the Soviet army had perpetrated against the Poles in Katyn in 1943. According to the Nicaraguan Commission of Jurists, the Sandinistas carried out over 8,000 political executions within three years of the revolution. The number of "anti-revolutionary" Nicaraguans who had "disappeared" in Sanadinista hands or had died "trying to escape" were numbered in the thousands. By 1983, the number of political prisoners in the Sandinistas' ruthless tyranny were estimated at 20,000. Torture was institutionalized. Numerous human rights organizations, including Amnesty International and the United Nations Human Rights Commission, have documented the atrocious record of Sandinista human rights abuses, which stood as the worst in Latin America. Political prisoners in Sandinista prisons, such as in Las Tejas, were consistently beaten, deprived of sleep and tortured with electric shocks. They were routinely denied food and water and kept in dark cubicles that had a surface of less than one square meter, known as chiquitas (little ones). These cubicles were too small to sit up in, were completely dark and had no sanitation and almost no ventilation.”[80]

The Sandinistas sent Soviet helicopter gunships and elite army units to attack the Indians; carried out mass arrests, jailings and torture; burned down 65 Indian communities; inflicted ethnic cleansing on 70,000 Indians; and tried to starve the Indians by cutting off food supplies. The Sandinistas boasted that they were “ready to eliminate the last Miskito Indian to take Sandinism to the Atlantic Coast.” [81]

For decades, Nicaragua had experienced some of the fastest economic growth in the hemisphere. Within a few years of Sandinista rule, wages had been fixed below poverty level and there was mass unemployment. There were shortages of nearly all basic goods, with inflation at 30,000%. Government studies found that three-quarters of schoolchildren suffered from malnutrition, while living standards were lower than Haiti. The World Bank found that Nicaragua was on the economic level of Somalia.

From 1981-90, the CIA aids the Contra revolution, plants harbor mines and sinks civilian ships to overthrow the Sandinista government of Nicaragua. After the Boland Amendment was enacted, it became illegal under U.S. law to fund the Contras; National Security Adviser Robert McFarlane, Deputy National Security Adviser Admiral John Poindexter, National Security Council staffer Col. Oliver North and others continued an illegal operation to fund the Contras, leading to the Iran-Contra affair. The U.S argued that:[82]

The United States initially provided substantial economic assistance to the Sandinista-dominated regime. We were largely instrumental in the OAS action delegitimizing the Somoza regime and laying the groundwork for installation for the new junta. Later, when the Sandinista role in the Salvadoran conflict became clear, we sought through a combination of private diplomatic contacts and suspension of assistance to convince Nicaragua to halt its subversion. Later still, economic measures and further diplomatic efforts were employed to try to effect changes in Sandinista behavior.

Nicaragua's neighbors have asked for assistance against Nicaraguan aggression, and the United States has responded. Those countries have repeatedly and publicly made clear that they consider themselves to be the victims of aggression from Nicaragua, and that they desire United States assistance in meeting both subversive attacks and the conventional threat posed by the relatively immense Nicaraguan Armed Forces.

Due to US pressure, the Sandinistas held a blatantly rigged[83] election in 1984. On October 5, 1985 the Sandinistas broadened the 1982 State of Emergency and suspended many more civil rights. A new regulation also forced any organization outside of the government to first submit any statement it wanted to make public to the censorship bureau for prior censorship.[84]

As the Contras continued to advance due to US aid, the Sandinistas struggled to maintain power. They were overthrown in 1990, when they ended the SOE and held an election that all the main opposition parties were allowed to compete in. According to P.J. O'Rourke, the Sandinistas were forced to agree to the elections by the US and the Contras, and lost them despite "the unfair advantages of using state resources for party ends, the Sandinista control of the transit system that prevented UNO supporters from attending rallies, the Sandinista domination of the army that forced soldiers to vote for Ortega and the Sandinista bureaucracy keeping $3.3 million of U.S. campaign aid from getting to UNO while Daniel Ortega spent millions donated by overseas people and millions and millions more from the Nicaraguan treasury.”[85]

The Contras and the United States were accused of war crimes[Citation Needed] for fighting against the brutal dictatorship. Nicaraguan voters in the 1990 elections, however, thought otherwise, thanking the US for liberating them from Communist slavery: "The longer they were in power, the worse things became. It was all lies, what they promised us" (unemployed person); "I thought it was going to be just like 1984, when the vote was not secret and there was not all these observers around" (market vendor); "Don’t you believe those lies [about fraud], I voted my conscience and my principles, and so did everyone else I know" (young mother); "the Sandinistas have mocked and abused the people, and now we have given our vote to [the opposition] UNO" (ex-Sandinista officer).[86]

Angola 1980s

Dr. Peter Hammond, a Christian missionary who lived in Angola at the time, recalled:

There were over 50,000 Cuban troops in the country. The Communists had attacked and destroyed many churches. MiG-23’s and MI-23 Hind helicopter gun ships were terrorising villagers in Angola. I documented numerous atrocities, including the strafing of villages, schools and churches. In 1986, I remember hearing Ronald Reagan’s speech – carried on the BBC Africa service – by short wave radio: “We are going to send stinger missiles to the UNITA Freedom Fighters in Angola!” Those who were listening to the SW radio with me looked at one another in stunned amazement. After a long silence as we wondered if our ears had actually heard what we thought we heard, one of us said: “That would be nice!” We scarcely dared believe that it would happen. But it did. Not long afterwards the stinger missiles began to arrive in UNITA controlled Free Angola. Soviet aircraft were shot down. The bombing and strafing of villagers, schools and churches came to an end. Without any doubt, Ronald Reagan’s policies saved many tens of thousands of lives in Angola."[87]


A major criticism is failure to forestall the 9-11 Attack in 2001 because of three organizational deficiencies: the inability of multiple American intelligence agencies to work together, organizational incentives to take the wrong analytical actions, and resistance to new technologies and ideas.[88] The 9/11 Commission Report identifies failures in the IC as a whole. One problem, for example, was the FBI failing to "connect the dots" by sharing information among its decentralized field offices. The report, however, criticizes both CIA analysis, and impeding their investigation. The CIA Inspector General in 2007 concluded that former DCI George Tenet failed to adequately prepare the agency to deal with the danger posed by Al Qaeda prior to the 9-11 Attack.

Image and Reputation

Cloak and dagger stories became part of the popular culture of the Cold War in both East and West, with innumerable novels and movies that showed how polarized and dangerous the world was. Soviet audiences thrilled at spy stories showing how their KGB agents protected the motherland by foiling dirty work by America's nefarious CIA, Britain's devious MI 6, and Israel's devilish Mossad. After 1963, Hollywood increasingly depicted the CIA as clowns (as in the comedy TV series "Get Smart") or villains (as in Oliver Stone's "JFK" (1992). In the genre of spy thrillers, the films 'Three Days of the Condor' (1975) and 'Spy Game' (2001) have been among the top box office attractions in American cinema. They both star Robert Redford and both portray the CIA as a wicked organization.[89] The plotlines of Robert Ludlum's novel 'The Bourne Identity' (1980) and the 2002 film based on the novel mix truth and fiction. Some topics are distorted while others stick very closely to the truth. Congressional oversight, ethical dilemmas tied to assassination, and real-life antagonists play significant roles in both the novel and the film. In the book the antagonists are terrorists, particularly Carlos the Jackal, but in the movie version the 'bad people' are CIA officials. Although the antagonist changes between the novel and the film, they both are realistic aspects that draw the audience in.[90]

Leftists around the globe routinely blamed the mysterious CIA for events that displeased them, putting the image of the USA as a champion of freedom and democracy in disrepute. The CIA lost influence after 1963. President Lyndon B. Johnson disliked its pessimistic forecasts about Vietnam; President Richard M. Nixon and his national security advisor Henry Kissinger did not seek its advice. After Watergate (1974) it came under heavy attack for promoting right-wing governments, hampering the success of genuinely democratic protest movements, illegally monitoring dissent inside the USA, and frustrating democracy at home by its secrecy and lack of accountability. Was it needed in an age of detente? With 15,000 employees in 1973, it had a budget of about $740 million, of which $440 went to clandestine operations. Congressional committees began to monitor the agency closely. Employment and budgets were cut sharply (the totals are secret), and most covert operations were abandoned. Morale plummeted as the agency retreated to a mission of collecting and interpreting information about the Soviets.

See Also

Korean Airlines Flight 007 - Jesse Helms/CIA verification of survivor reports

External Links



  • Jeffreys-Jones, Rhodri and Andrew, Christopher, eds. Eternal Vigilance? 50 Years of the CIA. (1997). 246 pp.
  • Powers, Thomas. Intelligence Wars: American Secret History from Hitler to Al-Qaeda (2004) excerpt and text search
  • Ranelagh, John. The Agency: The Rise and Decline of the CIA. From Wild Bill Donovan to William Casey. (1986). 847 pp
  • Rositzke, Harry. The CIA's Secret Operations: Espionage, Counterespionage, and Covert Action (1988) 290 pp. online edition
  • Trahair, Richard C. S. Encyclopedia of Cold War Espionage, Spies, and Secret Operations (2004) online edition
  • Weiner, Tim. Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA (2008) excerpt and text search

Special topics

  • Arbel, David, and Ran Edelist. Western Intelligence and the Collapse of the Soviet Union, 1980-1990: Ten Years That Did Not Shake the World (2003) online edition
  • Barrett, David M. The CIA and Congress: The Untold Story from Truman to Kennedy. (2005). 542 pp.
  • Coll, Steve. Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001. (2004) 695 pp. excerpt and text search
  • Conboy, Kenneth and Morrison, James. The CIA's Secret War in Tibet. (2002). 301 pp. Covers the entire history of CIA support for armed Tibetan opposition to Chinese rule: from the seizure of Lhasa in August 1951 and subsequent flight of the Dalai Lama, to the rout of the last Tibetan guerrilla redoubt by the Royal Nepalese Army in 1974. It is a record of almost unmitigated failure. excerpt and text search
  • Darling, Arthur B. The Central Intelligence Agency: An Instrument of Government, to 1950 (1990) online edition
  • Firth, Noel E. and Noren, James H. Soviet Defense Spending: A History of CIA Estimates, 1950-1990. (1998). 291 pp. online edition
  • Grant, Zalin. Facing the Phoenix: The CIA and the Political Defeat of the United States in Vietnam. (1991). 395 pp.
  • Haines, Gerald K. "An Emerging New Field of Study: U.S. Intelligence." Diplomatic History, June 2004, Vol. 28 Issue 3, pp 441-449, in EBSCO
  • Higgins, Trumbull. The Perfect Failure: Kennedy, Eisenhower, and the CIA at the Bay of Pigs. (1987). 224 pp. online edition
  • Jeffreys-Jones, Rhodri. The CIA and American Democracy. (1989). 338 pp
  • Johnston, Rob. Analytic Culture in the US Intelligence Community: An Ethnographic Study. (2005) https://www.cia.gov/library/center-for-the-study-of-intelligence/csi-publications/books-and-monographs/analytic-culture-in-the-u-s-intelligence-community/full_title_page.htm
  • Kent, Sherman. Strategic Intelligence for American World Policy. (1947) (2000 reprint)). Seminal work on CIA intelligence analysis, especially the estimative process.
  • Kessler, Ronald. The CIA at War: Inside the Secret Campaign Against Terror, (2003), 496 pp excerpt and text search
  • Moyar, Mark. Phoenix and the Birds of Prey: The CIA's Secret Campaign to Destroy the Viet Cong. (1997). 416 pp
  • Olmsted, Kathryn S. Challenging the Secret Government: The Post-Watergate Investigations of the CIA and FBI. (1996). 255 pp. online edition
  • Powers, Thomas. The Man Who Kept the Secrets: Richard Helms and the CIA. (1979). 393 pp.
  • Prados, John. Lost Crusader: The Secret Wars of CIA Director William Colby. (2003). 380 pp. online edition
  • Prados, John. Safe for Democracy: The Secret Wars of the CIA. (2006). 696 pp
  • Richelson, Jeffrey T. The Wizards of Langley: Inside the CIA's Directorate of Science and Technology. (2001). 386 pp.
  • Richelson, Jeffrey T. The U.S. Intelligence Community (1999) online edition
  • Russell, Richard L. Sharpening Strategic Intelligence: Why the CIA Gets It Wrong and What Needs to Be Done to Get It Right. (2007). 232 pp.
  • Saunders, Francis Stonor. The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters. (2000). 509 pp.
  • Scott-Smith, Giles. The Politics of Apolitical Culture: The Congress for Cultural Freedom, the CIA, and Post-War American Hegemony. (2002). 233 pp.
  • Taubman, Philip. Secret Empire: Eisenhower, the CIA, and the Hidden Story of America's Space Espionage. (2003). 441 pp
  • Thomas, Evan. The Very Best Men. Four Who Dared: The Early Years of the CIA. (1995). 427 pp.
  • Troy, Thomas F. Wild Bill and Intrepid: Donovan, Stephenson, and the Origin of CIA. (1996). 259 pp.
  • Wise, David. Molehunt: The Secret Search for Traitors That Shattered the CIA. (1992). Source on James Jesus Angleton's searches inside the CIA, and on the Golitsyn-Nosenko controversy.
  • Woodward, Bob. Veil: The Secret Wars of the CIA, 1981-1987 (2005)
  • Zegart, Amy B. Flawed by Design: The Evolution of the CIA, JCS, and NSC. (1999). 317 pp. online edition

Primary sources and memoirs

  • Central Intelligence Agency. A Compendium of Analytic Tradecraft Notes (1997) http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/cia/tradecraft_notes/contents.htm. The basic training guide for CIA analysts.
  • Cullather, Nick. Secret History: The CIA's Classified Account of Its Operations in Guatemala, 1952-1954. (1999). 142 pp. online edition
  • Gates, Robert. From the Shadows: The Ultimate Insider's Story of Five Presidents and How They Won the Cold War, (1997).
  • McAuliffe, Mary S., ed. CIA Documents on the Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962. (1992). 376 pp.
  • Murphy, David E.; Kondrashev, Sergei A.; and Bailey, George. Battleground Berlin: CIA vs. KGB in the Cold War. (1997). 530 pp. brings together personal recollections from CIA and KGB officers, and previously unpublished documents.
  • Tenet, George. At the Center of the Storm: My Years at the CIA (2007), DCI 1997 to 2004
  • Turner, Stansfield. Secrecy and Democracy: The CIA in Transition. (1985). 304 pp.
  • Westerfield, H. Bradford, ed. Inside CIA's Private World: Declassified Articles from the Agency's Internal Journal, 1955-1992. (1995). 489 pp.


  1. The Office of Strategic Services: America's First Intelligence Agency, Michael Warner, CIA History Staff, Center for the Study of Intelligence, Published: United States Central Intelligence Agency, 2000.
  2. https://www.cia.gov/kids-page/6-12th-grade/operation-history/history-of-the-cia.html#changing-face-of-intelligence
  3. David M. Barrett, The CIA & Congress: The Untold Story from Truman to Kennedy (2005)
  4. Noel E. Firth and James H. Noren, Soviet Defense Spending: A History of CIA Estimates, 1950-1990. (1998)
  5. See Herbert Romerstein, "Divide and Conquer: The KGB disinformation campaign against Ukrainians and Jews," Ukrainian Quarterly Fall 2004 online edition
  6. "Trying to Persuade a Reluctant Shah", The New York Times. 
  7. http://jebhemelli.net/mossadegh/mossaddegh_1951m_of_y%20Page%202.htm Time article from 1951 on Mossadegh's seizure of power
  8. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,450997-1,00.html
  9. http://www.capitalismmagazine.com/index.php?news=2635
  10. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,450997-1,00.html
  11. http://jebhemelli.net/mossadegh/mossaddegh_1951m_of_y%20Page%202.htm
  12. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,450997-1,00.html#ixzz16K23QRPB
  13. http://www.gasandoil.com/goc/speeches/albright-17-03-00.htm
  14. http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/227855/zeal-zelaya/conrad-black
  15. http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/227855/zeal-zelaya/conrad-black
  16. Piero Gleijeses, Shattered Hope: The Guatemalan Revolution and the United States, 1944-1954 (Princeton University Press, 1991), pp84, 147, 145, 155, 181-2, a virtual hagiography of Arbenz.
  17. “Antecedentes Inmediatos (1944-1961): El derrocamiento de Arbenz y la intervención militar de 1954,” in Comisión para el Esclaracimiento Histórico (CEH), Guatemala: Memoria Del Silencio (Guatemala, 1999), Capítulo primero (findings of Guatemala's independant truth commission after the restoration of civilian rule and democracy)
  18. Nicholas Cullather, Secret History: The CIA’s Classified Account of its Operation in Guatemala, 1952-1954 (Stanford University Press, 1999) pp24-7, based on the CIA archives
  19. Nick Cullather, Secret History: The CIA's Classified Account of Its Operations in Guatemala, 1952-1954. (1999)
  20. http://www.capitalismmagazine.com/world/cuba/4455-the-real-che-guevara.html
  21. 192. Telegram From the Army Attaché in Brazil (Walters) to the Department of the Army United States State Department. March 30, 1964. Retrieved on August 20, 2007.
  22. 198. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Brazil. Washington, March 31, 1964, 2:29 p.m. Retrieved on August 20, 2007.
  23. 187. Telegram From the Ambassador to Brazil (Gordon) to the Department of State Rio de Janeiro, March 28, 1964. Retrieved on August 20, 2007
  24. http://www.history-matters.com/archive/church/reports/ir/html/ChurchIR_0120a.htm
  25. http://www.history-matters.com/archive/church/reports/ir/html/ChurchIR_0120a.htm
  26. http://archive.frontpagemag.com/Printable.aspx?ArtId=15648
  27. http://www.history-matters.com/archive/church/reports/ir/html/ChurchIR_0120a.htm
  28. http://www.history-matters.com/archive/church/reports/ir/html/ChurchIR_0120a.htm
  29. http://archive.frontpagemag.com/Printable.aspx?ArtId=15648
  30. http://nixontapeaudio.org/chile/517-004.pdf Includes discussion of intelligence reports of Allende-backed hit jobs; note that Cuban intelligence reached the same conclusion--hence the infamous "packages" scandal.
  31. http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/219461/pinochet-history/nro-symposium
  32. “Declaration of the Breakdown of Chile’s Democracy,” Resolution of the Chamber of Deputies, Chile, August 22, 1973.
  33. http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/219461/pinochet-history/nro-symposium
  34. http://nixontapeaudio.org/chile/517-004.pdf
  35. http://archive.frontpagemag.com/Printable.aspx?ArtId=15648
  36. http://www.lyd.com/noticias/violencia/what_really.html
  37. http://www.lyd.com/noticias/violencia/what_really.html
  38. The Kissinger Telcons: Kissinger Telcons on Chile, National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 123, edited by Peter Kornbluh, posted May 26, 2004. This particular dialogue can be found at TELCON: September 16, 1973, 11:50 a.m. Kissinger Talking to Nixon. Retrieved November 26, 2006.
  39. www.cepchile.cl/dms/archivo_3236_1698/r92_fermandois_ing.pdf Translated from Spanish; Commentary accepts at face value the idea that an "interim junta" would have voluntarily stepped down and held new elections after a few days if the military had intervened; but Fermandois points out that "few believe this to be so" and expresses his own doubts about the thesis; Fermandois writes that the Americans did not "see all this as a way towards a new election"--but obviously, the attempts to influence the 1970 election and the aid to Chilean dissidents in its aftermath could not have served another purpose, and the attempt to buy off the Congress so that it would vote differently could not have imposed dictatorship (indeed, it would have saved Chilean democracy along with thousands of Chilean lives). However, the CIA's encouragement of a military coup, he is right to say, could not have served the purpose of holding elections, except in that it would remove Allende. But Fermandois acknowledges that despite the repeated encouragement, the US steadfastly refused any material support of its own for such a scheme. His point is far from profound: When the CIA sends messages like "it is firm and continuing policy that Allende be overthrown by a coup," it is not referring merely to a constitutional coup. However, it does make a moral difference if the US is only encouraging such a coup as a last resort, and against a Communist dictator, and without offering the plotters material aid.
  40. Ibid.
  41. www.cepchile.cl/dms/archivo_3236_1698/r92_fermandois_ing.pdf Translated from Spanish
  42. Nick Eberstadt, The Poverty of Communism (Transaction Publishers, 1990), pp188, 196-206, 240-6, in which he discusses living standards in Communist Cuba versus Pinochet's Chile.
  43. http://www.lyd.com/noticias/violencia/what_really.html
  44. http://www.history-matters.com/archive/church/reports/ir/html/ChurchIR_0120a.htm
  45. http://blog.washingtonpost.com/spy-talk/2010/07/nixon_tape_reveals_oval_office.html
  46. "Nixon and Kissinger joked over Chile assassination", The Washington Post. 
  47. http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2001/feb/24/features.weekend
  48. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/saddam/interviews/critchfield.html
  49. http://www.slate.com/id/2156400/
  50. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c35COXObeo8&feature=fvw Former CIA head in Angola discusses the operation on CNN
  51. Médecins Sans Frontières, “Angola: An Alarming Nutritional Situation,” August 1999
  52. National Society for Human Rights, Ending the Angolan Conflict, Windhoek, Namibia, July 3, 2000
  53. Namibia's National Human Rights Organisation, Press Releases, September 12, 2000, May 16, 2001
  54. Washington Post, March 18, 1978; New York Times, December 14, 1994.
  55. Kathryn S. Olmsted, Challenging the Secret Government: The Post-Watergate Investigations of the CIA and FBI. (1996). 255 pp.
  56. In the famous "smoking gun" recording that led to President Nixon's resignation, Nixon ordered his chief of staff, H.R. Haldeman, to tell the CIA that further investigation of Watergate would "open the whole can of worms" about the Bay of Pigs of Cuba, and, therefore, that the CIA should tell the FBI to cease investigating the Watergate burglary, due to reasons of "national security".
  57. http://www.slate.com/id/2166661
  58. http://www.csmonitor.com/1981/0310/031029.html
  59. Time Magazine, 13 May 2003, "The Oily Americans," http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,450997-2,00.html
  60. “”. Brzezinski and the Afghan War Pt2. YouTube. Retrieved on 2010-07-10.
  61. http://www.activistmagazine.com/images/stories/government/carter_79-1581.jpg
  62. http://www.activistmagazine.com/images/stories/government/carter_79-1579.jpg
  63. The Nation, November 12, 2001
  64. http://users.erols.com/mwhite28/warstat2.htm#Afghanistan
  65. http://www.activistmagazine.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1110&Itemid=143
  66. United Nations Good Offices Mission in Afghanistan and Pakistan - Background. United Nations. Retrieved on 2008-11-21.
  67. http://www.paulbogdanor.com/200chomskylies.pdf
  68. http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/SOD.CHAP4.HTM
  69. "Cambodia at a Crossroads," by Michael Johns, The World and I magazine, February 1988.
  70. Template:UN document
  71. Francesca Davis DiPiazza. El Salvador in Pictures. 
  72. (No author.)"Supply Line for a Junta," TIME Magazine March 16, 1981. Retrieved 2008-07-16.
  73. Los Angeles Times, June 1, 1982 (Christian Democrats killed); Washington Post, February 24, July 13, 1980 (Carter); New York Times, November 20, 26, December 12, 1983 (Reagan); New York Times, June 24, 1984, Washington Post, June 27, 1984 (Ambassador)
  74. Amnesty Law Biggest Obstacle to Human Rights, Say Activists by Raúl Gutiérrez, Inter Press Service News Agency, May 19, 2007
  75. "US role in Salvador's brutal war," BBC, March 24, 2002. Retrieved 2008-07-16.
  76. West, W. Gordon. "The Sandista Record on Human Rights in Nicaragua (1979-1990)" http://www.reds.msh-paris.fr/publications/revue/pdf/ds22/ds022-03.pdf (PDF). Réseau Européen Droit et Société. Retrieved 2009-03-30.
  77. Chomorro Cardenal, Jaime (1988). La Prensa, The Republic of Paper. University Freedom House. p. 20.
  78. West, W. Gordon, ibid.
  79. "Behind the State of Emergency". Envío. November 1985. http://www.envio.org.ni/articulo/3413. Retrieved 2008-02-16.
  81. Roger Miranda and William Ratliff, The Civil War in Nicaragua (Transaction Publishers, 1993), pp253-4.
  82. "Nicaragua's role in revolutionary internationalism". U.S. Department of State Bulletin. 1986.
  83. Martin Kriele, “Power and Human Rights in Nicaragua,” German Comments, April 1986, pp56-7, 63-7, a chapter excerpted from his Nicaragua: Das blutende Herz Amerikas (Piper, 1986). See also Robert S. Leiken, “The Nicaraguan Tangle,” New York Review of Books, December 5, 1985 and “The Nicaraguan Tangle: Another Exchange,” New York Review of Books, June 26, 1986; Alfred G. Cuzan, Letter, Commentary, December 1985 and “The Latin American Studies Association vs. the United States,” Academic Questions, Summer 1994.
  84. Chamorro Cardenal, Jaime (1988). La Prensa, A Republic of Paper, Freedom House, p. 23.
  85. “The Return of the Death of Communism: Nicaragua, February 1990," a chapter in Give War a Chance... by P. J. O'Rourke. Grove Press; reprint edition (November 2003, ISBN 0-8021-4031-9).
  86. New York Times, March 5, 1990.
  87. http://www.frontline.org.za/Letters%20to%20Editor/reagan_saved_lives_Angola.htm
  88. Amy B. Zegart, "CNN with Secrets": 9/11, the CIA, and the Organizational Roots of Failure." International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 2007 20(1): 18-49. Issn: 0885-0607
  89. Loch K. Johnson, "Spies In The American Movies: Hollywood's Take On Lese Majeste." Intelligence & National Security 2008 23(1): 5-24
  90. Shannon Mollie Eppa, "The Bourne Actuality: A Look at Reality's Role in the Bourne Identity Novel and Film" Intelligence & National Security 2008 23(1): 103-111