Thursday, March 31, 2011

Snakes in the Grass

"The Central Intelligence Agency has inserted clandestine operatives into Libya to gather intelligence for military airstrikes and to contact and vet the beleaguered rebels battling Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s forces, according to American officials." report in the NY Times, March 30, 2011

The Central Intelligence Agency may be nightmare fodder for conspiracy theorists, but the fact is that they function as an extra-legal force for American governments who want to intervene in other countries without the niceties of democratic scrutiny. For Presidents both Democrat and Republican, they function as a private army that comes with a wink and a pair of crossed fingers. Presidents know that they can deny everything but still use the CIA to do whatever they want since the CIA doesn't, apparently, count. President Obama has now admitted to following in the illustrious corrupting footsteps of sending the CIA off to do his bidding while making statements in direct contradiction to what he's having the CIA do. So of course Obama says there will be no American "boots on the ground" in the LIbyan conflict: follow the wink and the crossed fingers to this new admission that the CIA is already there, on the ground, doing Lord only knows what.

It's a grand old tradition, and it usually comes back to bite the United States in the ass. Witness 9/11: One can set aside all the absolutely crazy conspiracy theories about inside jobs and rockets and explosive-packed foundations and missiles and state secrets and all sorts of loony-toon stuff, and still not escape the undebatable facts that Al Qaeda and its Afghan sanctuaries would not have existed if it were not for the clandestine CIA operations in Afghanistan during the time of Soviet intervention there in the 1980s. You don't have to be a fan of dimestore spy novels to see that it is hugely problematic both for America and the countries of the world to have a secret army engaged in undemocratic subversion at the whim of whomever is running things in Washington.

I found this list of CIA interventions since World War II on the web. These are chapters from a book called "Killing Hope" I have not read nor make no pretense of endorsing, but the list of locales jibes with what I know about history. Congratulations President Obama! There should be a chapter about you and Libya added soon. Here's the list of shame:

1. China - 1945 to 1960s: Was Mao Tse-tung just paranoid?
2. Italy - 1947-1948: Free elections, Hollywood style
3. Greece - 1947 to early 1950s: From cradle of democracy to client state
4. The Philippines - 1940s and 1950s: America's oldest colony
5. Korea - 1945-1953: Was it all that it appeared to be?
6. Albania - 1949-1953: The proper English spy
7. Eastern Europe - 1948-1956: Operation Splinter Factor
8. Germany - 1950s: Everything from juvenile delinquency to terrorism
9. Iran - 1953: Making it safe for the King of Kings
10. Guatemala - 1953-1954: While the world watched
11. Costa Rica - Mid-1950s: Trying to topple an ally - Part 1
12. Syria - 1956-1957: Purchasing a new government
13. Middle East - 1957-1958: The Eisenhower Doctrine claims another backyard for America
14. Indonesia - 1957-1958: War and pornography
15. Western Europe - 1950s and 1960s: Fronts within fronts within fronts
16. British Guiana - 1953-1964: The CIA's international labor mafia
17. Soviet Union - Late 1940s to 1960s: From spy planes to book publishing
18. Italy - 1950s to 1970s: Supporting the Cardinal's orphans and techno-fascism
19. Vietnam - 1950-1973: The Hearts and Minds Circus
20. Cambodia - 1955-1973: Prince Sihanouk walks the high-wire of neutralism
21. Laos - 1957-1973: L'Armée Clandestine
22. Haiti - 1959-1963: The Marines land, again
23. Guatemala - 1960: One good coup deserves another
24. France/Algeria - 1960s: L'état, c'est la CIA
25. Ecuador - 1960-1963: A text book of dirty tricks
26. The Congo - 1960-1964: The assassination of Patrice Lumumba
27. Brazil - 1961-1964: Introducing the marvelous new world of death squads
28. Peru - 1960-1965: Fort Bragg moves to the jungle
29. Dominican Republic - 1960-1966: Saving democracy from communism by getting rid of democracy
30. Cuba - 1959 to 1980s: The unforgivable revolution
31. Indonesia - 1965: Liquidating President Sukarno … and 500,000 others
East Timor - 1975: And 200,000 more
32. Ghana - 1966: Kwame Nkrumah steps out of line
33. Uruguay - 1964-1970: Torture -- as American as apple pie
34. Chile - 1964-1973: A hammer and sickle stamped on your child's forehead
35. Greece - 1964-1974: "Fuck your Parliament and your Constitution," said
the President of the United States
36. Bolivia - 1964-1975: Tracking down Che Guevara in the land of coup d'etat
37. Guatemala - 1962 to 1980s: A less publicized "final solution"
38. Costa Rica - 1970-1971: Trying to topple an ally -- Part 2
39. Iraq - 1972-1975: Covert action should not be confused with missionary work
40. Australia - 1973-1975: Another free election bites the dust
41. Angola - 1975 to 1980s: The Great Powers Poker Game
42. Zaire - 1975-1978: Mobutu and the CIA, a marriage made in heaven
43. Jamaica - 1976-1980: Kissinger's ultimatum
44. Seychelles - 1979-1981: Yet another area of great strategic importance
45. Grenada - 1979-1984: Lying -- one of the few growth industries in Washington
46. Morocco - 1983: A video nasty
47. Suriname - 1982-1984: Once again, the Cuban bogeyman
48. Libya - 1981-1989: Ronald Reagan meets his match
49. Nicaragua - 1981-1990: Destabilization in slow motion
50. Panama - 1969-1991: Double-crossing our drug supplier
51. Bulgaria 1990/Albania 1991: Teaching communists what democracy is all about
52. Iraq - 1990-1991: Desert holocaust
53. Afghanistan - 1979-1992: America's Jihad
54. El Salvador - 1980-1994: Human rights, Washington style
55. Haiti - 1986-1994: Who will rid me of this turbulent priest?


  1. And how do they keep it from appearing on anyone's budget? Follow the heroin epidemics. Drugs are to the CIA what cookies are to the Girl Scouts.

  2. "There was no person more feared by the company (CIA) than Che Guevara because he had the capacity and charisma necessary to direct the struggle against the political repression of the traditional hierarchies in power in the countries of Latin America." — Philip Agee, CIA agent, later defected to Cuba

  3. R-E-S-P-E-C-T

    "MAZAR-I-SHARIF, Afghanistan — Stirred up by a trio of angry mullahs who urged them to avenge the burning of a Koran at a Florida church, thousands of protesters overran the compound of the United Nations in this northern Afghan city, killing at least 12 people, Afghan and United Nations officials said.

    The dead included at least seven United Nations workers — five Nepalese guards and two Europeans, one of them a woman. None were Americans. Early reports, later denied by Afghan officials, said that at least two of the dead had been beheaded. Five Afghans were also killed."

    I guess if the act of burning the Koran's purpose was to get someone's attention, it worked. Most pitiful example of Christian love I have ever seen. You don't have to embrace another's religious belief but to RESPECT it would be nice.

  4. I read about that, Annie. What a mess. That guy in Florida turns out to have burned the Koran just recently in late March, when the media was too busy to pay any attention to him. Well, anybody except some other hateful fundamentalists.

    RESPECT indeed. More of it would help. I was actually reading a section of the Bible the other day -- a really beautiful section -- and I thought, how do these hateful crazy people find the rationale to be that way in there?

  5. ish - I stumbled upon a very poignant poem by Gary Jacobson, Children of War, which he wrote in 2006. I put it up on my Artichoke Annie blog today:

    It really tugs at my heart strings.

  6. That's quite a poem. I wish people really understood that all those children -- people -- suffering in these conflicts are going through pain and tragedy at least as bad as what "we" went through on 911.