The Façade of the 3-Letter-Agency: The Atrocities of the CIA in the 60's to early 70's (Part 2)

By BlueJay

Welcome back, eager reader, to the second installment of our chronology on the corrupt and sordid history of the CIA. If you have yet to read of the first twenty years of the organizations’ founding, please click here if you are interested in finding out more.

This article will be tackling some greater and lesser known scandals and failures of the agency beginning in the 1960’s and leading up to the beginning of the 1970s - and for what seems like such a short amount of time in a historical context, a great many activities took place.

I encourage you to think critically when examining each of the following events, to think of them not only as passing historical quirks, but as events that shook those people and nations involved to the very core and still affect them today. Better still, think of the reasoning behind the actions, of the men behind the masks, and ask yourself if these activities truly took place for the benefit of the American people.



The Kennedy era's perhaps most well known failure is the Cuban Missile Crisis and the disastrous way tensions were handled. The Bay of Pigs attack was a ploy to send around 1,400 exiles from Cuba back into their home country in order to overthrow dictator Fidel Castro three years after he came into power.

Cuban soldiers stand around a wagon carrying a dead soldier, probably Americans or Cubans of Brigade 2506 involved in the Bay of Pigs invasion of 1961. | Location: Playa De Giron, Cuba. (Photo by © Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

The operation was a massive failure due to a variety of factors such as the negligence to efficiently plan security measures, backup, and overall poor planning; in example, the usage of obsolete World War II B-26 bombers that failed to hit a majority of their targets. Sending in ground forces that immediately encountered fire and shoddy weather, coupled with poor equipment and too little ammunition. Six American fighter planes that flew in to support the ground forces against Castro’s counterattack arrived an hour later than planned and were all shot down. The attack was crushed with Castro capturing or killing as many as 1,200 of the rebels.

Later in 1961 the CIA committed two more assassinations of world leaders - the first being dictator Rafael Trujillo of the Dominican Republic, the second - democratically elected Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba of the Congo.

Rafael Trujillo (Top) and Patrice Lumumba (Bottom)

Trujillo was a brutal dictator that had been receiving backing from Washington since 1930. Coming to power through an obviously rigged election, Trujillo ensured obedience through the use of intimidation tactics and politically fueled assassinations. Prior to Trujillo’s ruling was the U.S. occupation of the island nation from 1916-1924, where he was trained by the Marine Corps and left with a national army at his command. The United States watched from the sidelines as Trujillo seized the nation, with President Hoover sending the following correspondence on August 16th, 1930:

“I extend my cordial congratulations to Your Excellency on this auspicious occasion of your elevation to the high office of President of the Dominican Republic, and best wishes for a most successful term of office and the happiness of the people of the Republic under your wise administration.”

In the end, it was the combination of competition with American business interests and moral hypocrisy of supporting a dictatorship that led to Trujillo’s assassination, such as his multiple attempts to strike at exiled dissidents residing in the United States.

Lumumba’s assassination is the result of Cold War tensions dragging the the mineral-rich Congo into turmoil just as the nation gained independence in 1960. After a revolt against the ethnically white, European officer corps resulted in Belgian troops being sent in to maintain order and assist in the succession of the province of Katanga, the United States declined Congolese appeals for aid and backed a UN peacekeeping mission in attempt to ward off any potential for soviet intervention. Lumumba got into conflict with the UN after their failure to order Belgian troops out of the country and end the succession of their richest province and appealed to Moscow for assistance, prompting the Eisenhower administration to send in the CIA to assassinate Lumumba.

In between these two assassinations we find the CIA meddling in Ecuador, where they backed a military coup that forced democratically elected President Jose Velasco to resign. As with other nations, when leftist ideology began to spread throughout the country, the CIA planted informants in the nation and backed corrupt politicians, helping them rise into high positions in return for their loyalty. When Velasco resigned and was replaced by his Vice President Carlos Julio Arosemana, the CIA ensured that their agent became the next Vice-President.

Just two years later we find the CIA again in the Dominican Republic and Ecuador; in the former they acted on a successful plot to overthrow Trujillo’s successor, democratically elected Juan Bosch, after his new left-leaning constitution upset opposition parties into taking arms. In the latter was yet another US trained coup, this time of President Arosemana after he proved no more acceptable to the wishes of the CIA than Velasco and refusing to break up relations with Cuba.

In Brazil 1964, democratically elected Joao Goulart was overthrown in a military coup backed by the CIA on the belief that he was a “radical leftist”.

Tanks of the Brazilian Army occupying the streets during the overthrowing of Joao Goulart, 1964

General Castelo Branco overtook Goulart as president, and though the coup was nearly bloodless, the twenty year military reign led to a suppressive rule enforced by Latin America’s first death squads, led by Branco and trained by the CIA. These “police” were responsible for the capture, imprisonment, torture, and death of thousands of Brazillians who opposed the General, while U.S. - Brazilian relations grew closer than ever through the “mutual fight against Communism.”

Since 1957 the CIA had been trying to eliminate democratically elected leader of Indonesia Kusno Sosrodihardjo, better known as Sukarno, due to his declared neutrality in the Cold War despite his leftist leanings. After multiple assassination attempts and lures of sexual intrigue, the removal of Sukarno from office was finally achieved through military coup in 1965. The coup was supported by the CIA, who aligned themselves within the military and instigated rebellion after both factions began questioning the motives of President Sukarno. Major General Suharto massacred nearly one million civilians during his rule under the guise of stopping the spread of communism, spurred on by the CIA and anti-communist Islamic extremists.

Indonesian soldiers arresting villagers in 1965 under Major General Suharto.

For the third time in four years the CIA returns to the Dominican Republic, this time in 1965, after a rebellion gains traction promising to reinstate overthrown President Juan Bosch. The United States Marines, directed by the CIA behind the scenes, have other ideas, and quash the rebels and uphold the unpopular regime.

Unarmed Dominican facing off against a U.S. Marine during the Dominican Intervention of 1965

Greek King Konstantinos II, with the backing of the CIA, ousted Prime Minister Georgios Papandreou the same year in a military junta as Papandreou failed to uphold U.S. interests in Greece, despite being both anti-monarchy and anti-communist.

Lastly for the coups of 1965, we return to the Congo after the assassination of Patrice Lumumba and four years of political and civil unrest. Extrapolating on the events in 1961, sudden diplomatic activity on the part of the United States after a visit from Lumumba prior to his assassination did nothing to alleviate American fears of Soviet influence in the region, President Joseph Kasavubu was nudged to dismiss Lumumba, who refused and dismissed Kasavubu in return. Nearly reaching Civil War, Colonel Joseph Mobutu, working under the wing of the CIA, staged a coup on and ousted all Soviet influence, later jailing and executing the former President on accusation of plotting an assassination. The U.S. attempted to influence the Congo for years as Presidents and Prime Ministers constantly battled rebels within the tumultuous nation until 1965 when Mobutu seized control of the government in a secondary coup and renamed the country Zaire. Mobutu became a loathed dictator by his people for exploiting his impoverished nation and people for billions, while still being financially assisted by the U.S. in exchange for his policies of anti-communism.

Dictator Joseph Mobutu, better known as Mobutu Sese Seko

1966-1967 marks an important milestone in CIA history as American citizens begin to be able to glean some of the infamous activity of the organization during what became known as “The Ramparts Affair”. Ramparts magazine was a leftwing publication that revealed the covert actions of the CIA within U.S. universities and international student organizations - one of them, the US National Student Association (USNSA) even being a front for CIA activity. During this time, the magazine had found that the CIA had been secretly funding millions to hire undercover professors at these schools for the purpose of recruiting South Vietnamese students and training them in “covert police methods”, and quashing any organized left leaning student activity.

A military coup in Greece, backed by the CIA, overthrew the government two days prior to the elections when Georgios Papandreou became the popular candidate to win the election yet again with the Centre Union Party in 1967. Six years of oppressive rule followed during what became known as “the Reign of the Colonels” - the Greek junta that ruled from 1967-1974. This regime introduced the common use of kidnappings, torture, and assassination of any who would pose a threat to the political sphere. Of interesting note, in an interaction with Greek Ambassador Alexander Matsas over the Cyprus issue of 1964 over municipalities between Greek and Turkish citizens of Cyprus (Cypriots), President Johnson is recorded as saying:

“F*** your parliament and your constitution. America is an elephant. Cyprus is a flea. Greece is a flea. If these two fleas continue itching the elephant, they may just get whacked good... We pay a lot of good American dollars to the Greeks, Mr. Ambassador. If your Prime Minister gives me talk about democracy, parliament and constitution, he, his parliament and his constitution may not last long…”

Operation PHEONIX begins in south Vietnam in 1967 with the goal of aiding in the identification and capture of undercover Viet Cong operating in the area. The CIA assisted in the capture, torture, and assassination of over 20,000 suspected Viet Cong, along with committing acts such as infiltration and terrorism. During this project, human experimentation on Vietnamese prisoners was commonplace by CIA psychologists just outside of Saigon. A popular favorite in terms of the tactics of the CIA, a secret police was formed and run by the South Vietnamese under the direction and observation of the CIA. These police were more comparable to death squads, “implicated in burnings, garroting (killings by strangulation), rape, torture, and sabotage.”

A Vietnamese prisoner awaits interrogation and torture by U.S. forces, 1967.

1968 sees the internal spying of CIA operatives on American citizens boosted to a new level as students grow progressively unhappier with news from Vietnam. Operation CHAOS, orchestrated by President Johnson and continued by Nixon, was spurned into life through the baseless paranoia of communist infiltration by Russian instigators on college campuses. CIA operatives are placed in campus communities to spy on over 7000 students and student-led organizations in order to find the Russian spies while disrupting protests to the Vietnam war in the process. No Russians were ever found during the Operation, though it lasted until 1974.

Argentinian revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara, a marxist guerilla leader who fought for the Cuban revolution, was captured by U.S. trained Bolivian soldiers during a CIA organized operation in 1967. Once captured, the CIA wished to hold Guevara for interrogation, but the Bolivian government had him executed before discussions on his transfer could begin.

Modern day popularized image of revolutionary Che Guevara

"The precise pain, in the precise place, in the precise amount, for the desired effect,"

The quote above comes from notorious CIA torturer, Dan Mitrione. After training with the FBI in counterinsurgency techniques, Mitrione joined the CIA with his niche in talent being the teaching of torture and interrogation tactics to police forces. In 1969 Mitrione was sent to Uruguay, where political tensions were rising in the wake of the likely election of left-wing politician, Frente Amplio. Mitrione trained the right-wing police force in his uses of torture, rumored to use the homeless in Uruguay as examples. He became so feared by Uruguayan officials that he was kidnapped, and when the U.S. refused a ransom for his release, he was found murdered in a car with two gunshots to the head. It was said Mitrione’s techniques rivaled the Nazi’s.

Dan Mitrione, Infamous CIA torturer

Seven more pages you have read through, and read their words well. Understand their meaning as these events have only just begun to show the clarity of corruption within the CIA to the American people. As time goes on, those that lust for power and fortune grow bolder in their actions - but the citizens of the United States will grow wiser to combat this, as we shall see in the third edition of this topic.

Thank you once more for your attentiveness and patronage

Until Part 3 -

Fly on, and Fight on.


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