Archive for the ‘Doug Valentine’ Category

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Inside the Organized Crime Syndicate known as the CIA: an Interview with Douglas Valentine

 

T]he most common way of the CIA launching a covert action program that is deniable is by attributing it to another agency.

 

We managed the insurgency in South Vietnam and their names could be put on blacklists. And once their name was on a list—once somebody had been informed about them, and once they were a member of a list a that was called the Vietcong infrastructure, the insurgency—the CIA and its forces could go out and kidnap them, put them in interrogation centers, kill them along with their families, and do anything they wanted to try and suppress them. And the problem was that lots of innocent civilians got their names put on these blacklists. In fact, one of the ways that the CIA and its forces, the South Vietnamese Special Police and its mercenary army, one of the ways that they got people to inform on the members of the Vietcong insurgency was by threatening to put their names on blacklists. So therefore, it became a blackmail scheme.”

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Must-read Douglas Valentine interview on CIA criminality.

The CIA: 70 Years of Organized Crime

 

Donohue was a typical first-generation CIA officer. He’d studied Comparative Religion at Columbia and understood symbolic transformation. He was a product and practitioner of Cook County politics who joined the CIA after World War Two when he perceived the Cold War as “a growth industry.” He had been the CIA’s station chief in the Philippines at the end of his career and, when I spoke to him, he was in business with a former Filipino Defense Minister. He was putting his contacts to good use, which is par for the course. It’s how corruption works for senior bureaucrats.

Donohue said the CIA doesn’t do anything unless it meets two criteria. The first criterion is “intelligence potential.” The program must benefit the CIA; maybe it tells them how to overthrow a government, or how to blackmail an official, or where a report is hidden, or how to get an agent across a border. The term “intelligence potential” means it has some use for the CIA. The second criterion is that it can be denied. If they can’t find a way to structure the program or operation so they can deny it, they won’t do it. Plausible denial can be as simple as providing an officer or asset with military cover. Then the CIA can say, “The army did it.”

Plausible denial is all about language. During Senate hearings into CIA assassination plots against Fidel Castro and other foreign leaders, the CIA’s erstwhile deputy director of operations Richard Bissell defined „plausible denial“ as “the use of circumlocution and euphemism in discussions where precise definitions would expose covert actions and bring them to an end.”

So as to 9/11, the CIA claims there were problems with “intelligence sharing.” That is the euphemism they use for hiding multiple Al Qaeda terrorists inside the US from arrest and the exposure of the plot. The circumlocution is passed onto gullible lackeys in the meida, like Ben Norton at Alternet, who faithfully call this deliberate hiding of hijackers “incompteence.” Like a Mighty Wurlitzer, the CIA plays gullible media lackeys to sing their tune and make their crimes go away–even Treason.

 

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CIA Phoenix Program was model for Department of Homeland Security.

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Original:

How I Came to Understand the CIA

I’ve been researching the CIA for over 30 years and I’ve interviewed over 100 CIA officers. So naturally, people often wonder how I prepare myself. In one of the interviews that’s included in my new book, James Tracy asked me how I know where to look for information that’s pertinent to a given story.

I told James that’s it’s complicated, that my experience is different from most other CIA researchers and writers. I didn’t follow the usual career course. I didn’t go to the Columbia School of Journalism. I’m a college dropout who climbed trees for a living for ten years. But I did want to be a writer, and my philosophy of life is based on the study of language and literary criticism. I take a very broad approach. When I went to college, I studied Greek and Roman literature, read the Norton anthologies of English and American literature, and took courses in classical myth and the Bible.

Very early in my studies I was introduced literary critics like Robert Graves, poet and author of The White Goddess, and Sir James Fraser who wrote The Golden Bough. Fraser brought a socio-anthropological way of looking at the world of literature. That led me to Mircea Eliade, Carl Jung, Eric Newman, Northrop Frye and a few other people who approached literature from a variety of different perspectives – psychological, political, anthropological, sociological, historical, philosophical. All those things were of interest to me. So when I look at a subject, I look at it comprehensively from all those different points of view, plus my blue collar, working class perspective.

Literary criticism teaches the power of symbolic transformation, of processing experience into ideas, into meaning. To be a Madison Avenue adman, one must understand how to use symbols and myths to sell commodities. Admen use logos and slogans, and so do political propagandists. Left or right; doesn’t matter. The left is as adept at branding as the right. To be a speech writer or public relations consultant one must, above all, understand the archetypal power of the myth of the hero. That way you can transform Joe the Plumber, or even a mass murdering politician, into a national hero.

When I decided to research and write about the CIA’s Phoenix program, that was how I thought about it. I went directly to William Colby, who’d been Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. I didn’t know enough to be intimidated, it was just the smart thing to do. Colby was the person most associated with Phoenix, the controversial CIA “assassination” program that resulted in the death of tens of thousands of civilians during the Vietnam War. No one had written a book about it, so I wrote Colby a letter and sent him my first book, The Hotel Tacloban, which is about my father’s experiences in combat and as a POW in World War Two.

Tacloban was key to unlocking the CIA’s door, for two reasons. First, it demonstrated that I understood what it means to be a soldier, which was essential in terms of winning the trust of CIA officers, most of whom think of themselves as soldiers. The CIA is set up like a military organization with a sacred chain of command. Somebody tells you what to do and you salute and do it.  Colby himself had parachuted behind enemy lines in France during World War Two.

On a deeper level, Tacloban showed that I could bridge the “man” gap that divided my frag-happy, draft-dodging generation from Colby’s “saved the world for freedom and democracy” generation. I felt that “father-son” dynamic with Colby and several of the senior spooks he referred me to. Some of them even acknowledged that I was attempting to reconcile with them in a way their own sons never had.

So I told Colby I wanted to write a book that would de-mystify the Phoenix program, and he was all for that. Colby liked my approach – to look at it from all these different points of view – so he got behind me and introduced me to a lot of senior CIA people. And that gave me access from the inside. After that it was easy. I have good interview skills. I was able to persuade a lot of these CIA people to talk about Phoenix. I approached it from an organizational point of view, which is essential when writing about bureaucracies like the CIA or the DEA. You have to understand them as a bureaucracy, that they have an historical arc. They begin somewhere, they have a Congressional mandate, they have a purpose, and organizational and management structures. And in that regard I really lucked out. One of the first people I interviewed was the CIA officer, Nelson Brickham, who organized the Phoenix program in 1967 in Saigon. Brickham graduated magna cum laude from Yale and was something of an organizational genius. He explained to me how he organized Phoenix. He also explained the different divisions and branches of the CIA so I’d be able to understand it. All of that went into my book The Phoenix Program.

So I lucked out. Through Colby I had access to the CIA people who created the Phoenix program and its various components. I was able to find out what was on their minds and why they did what they did. That never would have happened if I had gone to the Columbia School of Journalism, or if I’d been working for mainstream media editors for many years. I’d have had a much narrower way of going about the thing. But the CIA officers I spoke with loved the broad view that I was bringing to the subject. They liked me asking them about their philosophy. It enabled me to understand the subject comprehensively. I related to them on a very personal level, and when the book came, they reeled. Colby was furious.

So the New York Times killed the book in its cradle. As Guillermo Jiminez noted in one of our interviews, the book didn’t take off until Open Road Media republished it 25 years later as part of their Forbidden Bookshelf series. Guillermo asked me why my book was chosen for the series, why there was new-found interest in Phoenix, and what the CIA is up to, generally, nowadays.

As I explained, when the book came out in 1990, it got a terrible review in The New York Times. Morley Safer, who’d been a reporter in Vietnam, wrote the review. Safer and the Times killed the book because in it I said Phoenix never would have succeeded if the reporters in Vietnam hadn’t covered for the CIA.

Several senior CIA officers told me the same thing, that some correspondent “was always in my office. He’d bring a bottle of scotch and I’d tell him what was going on.” The celebrity reporters knew what was going on, but they didn’t report about it in exchange for having access.

I said that in the book specifically about The New York Times. I said, “When it comes to the CIA and the press, one hand washes the other. To have access to informed officials, reporters frequently suppress or distort stories. In return, CIA officials leak stories to reporters to whom they owe favors.” I told how, at its most incestuous, reporters and government officials are related. I cited the example of Charles LeMoyne, a Navy officer who ran the CIA’s counter-terror teams for a year in the Delta, and his New York Times correspondent brother James. I said that if Ed Lansdale hadn’t had Joseph Alsop to print his black propaganda in the US, there probably would have been no Vietnam War.

So I not only got the CIA mad at me, I also got the Vietnam press corps angry at me too. Between those two things, the book did not get off to an auspicious start. The Times gave Safer half a page to write his review, which was bizarre. The usual response is just to ignore a book like The Phoenix Program. But The Times Book Review section serves a larger function; it teaches the media elite and “intelligentsia” what to think and how to say it. So Safer said my book was incoherent, because it unraveled the bureaucratic networks that conceal the contradictions between stated CIA policy and operational reality. It exposed Colby as a liar. Safer was upset that I didn’t portray his buddy, Bill Colby, as a symbol of the ruling elite, as a modern-day Odysseus.

Safer vented his professional hatred for me when he wrote the half page review in The New York Times that killed my book in its cradle. [1] And, at the time, I wasn’t surprised that the Times employed Safer to assassinate my book. But I was totally unaware of the personal basis for his animosity.

At the time of the review (October 1990), I thought Safer hated me primarily for accusing the press corps of covering up CIA war crimes. I thought he did it for pecuniary reasons too; Safer’s grandiose and self-congratulatory book on Vietnam had come out a few months before mine. I wrote the Times editor about that conflict, but of course never heard back. And I didn’t have another book published for 14 years.

It wasn’t until 25 years later that I found out that Safer owed William Colby a favor. Safer revealed his incestuous relationship with Colby for the first time at the American Experience conference in 2010. [2]

“I got a call to come and see [Colby] in his office,” Safer explained. “And I walked in – and I had met him; we had no strong relationship at all – but – and [Colby] said, ‘Look, can you disappear for three days?’

(Laughter.) And I said, ‘I guess.’ (Laughter.) And he said, ‘Well, be at the airport – be at (inaudible) at the airport tomorrow morning at 5:30.’”

Bernard Kalb, the moderator, asked Safer if Colby wanted him to bring along a camera crew.

“No, no,” Safer replied. “And I showed up and [Colby] said, ‘Okay, here are the rules. You can see that I’m going on a tour of all the stations. You can’t take notes and you can’t report anything you hear.’ And I spent three days first of all, down in the Delta and they were really, really revealing. There was only one meeting that he would ask me to leave the barracks. And it was fascinating because the stuff that these guys were reporting through whatever filters to you had been so doctored by the time it got to you – I mean, to this day, I still feel constrained in terms of talking about.”

So, Colby introduced Safer to all the top CIA officers in Vietnam. He introduced him to the guys who ran the interrogation/torture centers and the counterterrorism teams. Safer got to see how the CIA crime syndicate was organized and operated. And like Don Corleone dispensing favors in The Godfather, Colby knew that one day Safer would be obligated to return it. Colby, of course, hated me more than Safer did.

That is how the CIA, as the organized crime branch of the US government, functions like the Mafia through its old boy network of complicit media hacks.

Luckily, with the Internet revolution, people aren’t bound by The Times and network news hacks like Safer anymore. They can listen to Russia Today or tune in to Counterpunch and get another side of the story. So Mark Crispin Miller at Open Road chose The Phoenix Program to be the first book they published. And it’s been reborn. Thanks to the advent of the e-book, we’ve reached an audience of concerned and knowledgeable people in a way that wasn’t possible 25 years ago.

It’s also because of these Internet developments that John Brennan, the current director of CIA, thought of reorganizing the CIA into “centers” that have their origin in the Phoenix program. Phoenix is the template for the war on terror and the homeland security boondoggle.

All these things are connected. It’s a vastly different world than it was in 1947 when the CIA was created, or in 1967 when the CIA created the Phoenix program, or in 1990 when my book came out. The nature of the American empire has changed, and what the empire needs from the CIA has changed. The CIA is allocated about $30 billion a year, so the organizational changes are massive undertakings.

If you want to understand the CIA, you have to understand how it’s organized and how it relates to the press and every other thing that’s going on. And that’s what I try to explain in my new book.

Notes.

[1] Behind the scenes, the CIA was doing it’s best to prevent Valentine from completing his research. Valentine found out the CIA was keeping a file on him and, through the ACLU, sued the CIA in federal court. Here’s the link to the documents that were released to Valentine in 1993.

And here’s a link to an article John Prados wrote about the borderline legality of the CIA’s secret attempts to obstruct Valentine.

[2] US Department of State, Media Roundtable Discussion, The American Experience in Southeast Asia, 1946-1975, 29 September 2010.

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Creating a Crime: How the CIA Commandeered the DEA

By Doug Valentine
Original at Counterpunch

The outlawing of narcotic drugs at the start of the Twentieth Century, the turning of the matter from public health to social control, coincided with American’s imperial Open Door policy and the belief that the government had an obligation to American industrialists to create markets in every nation in the world, whether those nations liked it or not.

Civic institutions, like public education, were required to sanctify this policy, while “security” bureaucracies were established to ensure the citizenry conformed to the state ideology. Secret services, both public and private, were likewise established to promote the expansion of private American economic interests overseas.

It takes a book to explain the economic foundations of the war on drugs, and the reasons behind the regulation of the medical, pharmaceutical and drug manufacturers industries. Suffice it to say that by 1943, the nations of the “free world” were relying on America for their opium derivatives, under the guardianship of Harry Anslinger, the Commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN).

Narcotic drugs are a strategic resource, and when Anslinger learned that Peru had built a cocaine factory, he and the Board of Economic Warfare confiscated its product before it could be sold to Germany or Japan. In another instance, Anslinger and his counterpart at the State Department prevented a drug manufacturer in Argentina from selling drugs to Germany.

At the same time, according to Douglas Clark Kinder and William O. Walker III in their article, “Stable Force In a Storm: Harry J. Anslinger and United States Narcotic Policy, 1930-1962,” Anslinger permitted “an American company to ship drugs to Southeast Asia despite receiving intelligence reports that French authorities were permitting opiate smuggling into China and collaborating with Japanese drug traffickers.”

Federal drug law enforcement’s relationship with the espionage establishment matured with the creation of CIA’s predecessor organization, the Office of Strategic Services. Prior to the Second World War, the FBN was the government agency most adept at conducting covert operations at home and abroad. As a result, OSS chief William Donovan asked Anslinger to provide seasoned FBN agents to help organize the OSS and train its agents to work undercover, avoid security forces in hostile nations, manage agent networks, and engage in sabotage and subversion.

The relationship expanded during the war, when FBN executives and agents worked with OSS scientists in domestic “truth drug” experiments involving marijuana. The “extra-legal” nature of the relationship continued after the war: when the CIA decided to test LSD on unsuspecting American citizens, FBN agents were chosen to operate the safehouses where the experiments were conducted.

The relationship was formalized overseas in 1951, when Agent Charlie Siragusa opened an office in Rome and began to develop the FBN’s foreign operations. In the 1950s, FBN agents posted overseas spent half their time doing “favors” for the CIA, such as investigating diversions of strategic materials behind the Iron Curtain. A handful of FBN agents were actually recruited into the CIA while maintaining their FBN credentials as cover.

Officially, FBN agents set limits. Siragusa, for example, claimed to object when the CIA asked him to mount a “controlled delivery” into the U.S. as a way of identifying the American members of a smuggling ring with Communist affiliations.

As Siragusa said, “The FBN could never knowingly allow two pounds of heroin to be delivered into the United States and be pushed to Mafia customers in the New York City area, even if in the long run we could seize a bigger haul.” [For citations to this and other quotations/interviews, as well as documents, please refer to the author’s books, The Strength of the Wolf: The Secret History of America’s War on Drugs (Verso 2004) and The Strength of the Pack: The Personalities, Politics, and Espionage Intrigues that Shaped the DEA (TrineDay 2009). See also www.douglasvalentine.com]

(more…)

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“If an author writes a book critical of the CIA, the Agency will tell newspapers and other outlets to not review the book. It’s all very heavy-handed.”
A Conversation With CIA Whistleblower John Kiriakou

JOHN KIRIAKOU: With that said, on the operations side of the CIA, every employee is taught to lie, about everything, to everyone. Some officers do not know when to, or cannot, turn the lies off. That leads to policy disasters. It leads to cover-ups. It leads to Congressional investigations. The only way there can be justice is if the President lets the legal system run its course. But Presidents don’t do that. They participate in the cover-ups. They issue pardons to the wrong people. It’s bad for the country, and it’s bad for democracy.

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JOHN KIRIAKOU: I think the institutional ideology of the CIA is an extreme right-wing ideology. Throughout history it has been the CIA leading Presidents, not Presidents leading the CIA … Unfortunately, most of the CIA’s fixes have very serious and severe long-term consequences. Look at Greece as an example. Don’t like Communism? Overthrow the government and replace it with a military dictatorship that still, more than 40 years later, traumatizes society. Don’t like the Iranian government taking “our” oil? Overthrow the democratically-elected Prime Minister and replace him with a fascist dictator, which leads to a theocracy that we are still fighting. These poor decisions, internationally-criminal decisions in some cases, have very long-term consequences, which the CIA doesn’t seem to care about.

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Censorship in Amerika, state secrets and the insicious ways that power keeps them.

 

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The CIA, the Press and Black Propaganda

DOUGLAS VALENTINE

As soon as Kevin Drum at Mother Jones absolved the CIA of spewing poison gas as a provocation, many on the Liberal Left cautiously threw their weight behind Obama and the thrill of waging a punitive war on Syria.

“Perhaps regime change is a good idea,” Tom Hayden speculated in The Nation.

Left paterfamilias Noam Chomsky, who generally shows an appreciation for the subtleties of covert action, claimed that America is not supplying its Al Qaeda mercenary army with arms – even though Eric Schmidt at The New York Times reported over a year ago that CIA officers in Turkey were “helping allies decide which Syrian opposition fighters across the border will receive arm.”

As if Hayden fomenting war and Chomsky covering for the CIA isn’t irony enough, Drum cleared the CIA in response to allegations of a provocation made by Rush Limbaugh. Which raises the question, what are the facts about the CIA’s penchant for “provoked responses” like the one in the Tonkin Gulf that started the Vietnam War?

Simply stated, black propaganda is one of many criminal but legally deniable things the CIA does. It often involves committing a heinous crime and blaming it on an enemy by planting false evidence, and then getting a foreign newspaper to print the CIA’s scripted version of events, which sympathetic journalists in America broadcast to the gullible public.

In the case of Syria, the CIA is using cooked Israeli “intelligence” as a catalyst – which is why, as Johnstone and Bricmont explain, the “intelligence” is so “dubious.”

Black propaganda has other “intelligence” applications as well, and is often used to recruit informants, and create deserters and defectors.

In his autobiography Soldier, Anthony Herbert told how he reported for duty in 1965 in Saigon at the joint CIA-military Specials Operations Group. The spooks asked him to join a secret psywar program. “What they wanted me to do was to take charge of execution teams that wiped out entire families and tried to make it look as though the VC themselves had done the killing. The rationale was that other Vietnamese would see that the VC had killed another VC and would be frightened away from becoming VC themselves. Of course, the villagers would then be inclined to some sort of allegiance to our side.”

As counter-terror guru David Galula explained, “Pseudo insurgents are a way to get intelligence and sow suspicion at the same time between the real guerrillas and the population.”

In a similar case in 1964, a famous CIA propaganda officer organized three armed “survey teams” which operated in neighboring hamlets simultaneously. When Vietcong propaganda teams departed from a hamlet, his cut-throat cadre would move in and speak to one person from each household, so the VC “would have to punish everyone after we left.”

In other words the CIA’s mercenaries (like some the CIA’s mercenaries in Syria) were provocateurs, setting people up for recriminations, for intelligence and publicity purposes.

Here’s another example: in 1964, CIA officer Nelson Brickham worked in the Sino-Soviet Relations Branch, where he managed black propaganda operations designed to cause friction between the USSR and China. At the heart of these black ops were false flag recruitments, in which CIA case officers posed as Soviet intelligence officers and, using actual Soviet cipher systems and methodology, recruited Chinese diplomats, who believed they were working for the Russians. The CIA case officers used the Chinese dupes to create all manner of mischief.

Brickham in 1967 created the Phoenix program in South Vietnam. The Phoenix program’s operations chief in 1970, Colonel Thomas McGrevey, had a “penetration agent” inside COSVN – the Central Office of South Vietnam. COSVN’s deputy finance director was the penetration agent. The deputy alerted McGrevey when the finance director was going on vacation, enabling McGrevey to mount a black propaganda campaign which framed the finance director for running off with embezzled funds.

A circular about the Phoenix program issued by the revolutionary Security Service in 1970, described how the nationalists viewed the CIA. As stated in the circular, “the most wicked maneuvers” of the CIA “have been to seek out every means by which to terrorize revolutionary families and force the people to disclose the location of our agents and join the People’s Self-Defense Force. They also spread false rumors. Their main purpose is to jeopardize the prestige of the revolutionary families, create dissension between them and the people, and destroy the people’s confidence in the revolution. In addition, they also try to bribe poor and miserable revolutionary families into working for them.”

Forged letters are a CIA specialty. Former CIA officer Philip Agee told how he mounted a successful operation using forged letters against Ecuadoran Antonio Flores Benitez, a key member of the Communist revolutionary movement. “By bugging Flores’ phone, we found out a lot of what he was doing. His wife was a blabbermouth. He made a secret trip to Havana and we decided to do a job on him when he landed back in Ecuador. With another officer, I worked all one weekend to compose a “report” from Flores to the Cubans. It was a masterpiece. The report implied that Flores’ group had already received funds from Cuba and was now asking for more money in order to launch guerrilla operations in Ecuador. My Quito station chief loved it so much he just had to get into the act. So he dropped the report on the floor and walked on it awhile to make it look pocket-worn. Then he folded it and stuffed it into a toothpaste tube-from which he had spent three hours carefully squeezing out all the toothpaste. He was like a kid with a new toy. So then I took the tube out to the minister of the treasury, who gave it to his customs inspector. When Flores came through customs, the inspector pretended to go rummaging through one of his suitcases. What he really did, of course, was slip the toothpaste tube into the bag and then pretend to find it there. When he opened the tube, he of course “discovered” the report. Flores was arrested and there was a tremendous scandal. This was one of a series of sensational events that we had a hand in during the first six months of 1963. By late July of that year, the climate of anti-Communist fear was so great that the military seized a pretext and took over the government, jailed all the Communists it could find and outlawed the Communist Party.”

Likewise the catalyst for the 1973 coup in Chile was a forged document-detailing a leftist plot to start a reign of terror – which was discovered by the enemies of President Salvador Allende Gossens. The result was a violent military coup, which the CIA officers (who had set it in motion through disinformation in the Chilean press) sat back and watched from their hammocks in the shade.

And on and on it goes.

General Ed Lansdale formalized CIA black propaganda practices in the early 1950s in the Philippines. To vilify the Communists and win support of Americans, one of his Filipino commando units would dress as rebels and commit atrocities on civilians, and then another unit would magically arrive with cameras to record the staged scenes and chase the “terrorists” away. Cameras were the key.

The CIA also concocted lurid tales of Vietminh soldiers’ disemboweling pregnant Catholic women, castrating priests, and sticking bamboo slivers in the ears of children so they could not hear the Word of God. Lansdale’s henchman, CIA agent-cum-journalist Joseph Alsop, gleefully reported this black propaganda.

The American “press” is the vital, arrogant, fatal, dominant X in black propaganda. When it comes to the CIA and the American press, one black hand washes the other. To gain access to CIA officials, reporters suppress or distort stories. They sell their black souls for scoops. In return, CIA officials leak stories to them. At its most incestuous, reporters and CIA officers are blood relatives. At one point, The New York Times correspondent in Vietnam, James Lemoyne, just happened to be the brother of the CIA’s counter-terror team chief in the Delta, Navy Commander Charles Lemoyne.

In a democratic society the media ought to investigate and report objectively on the government, which is under no obligation to inform the public of its activities and which, when it does, puts a “spin” on the news. As part of the Faustian Pact, when government activities are conducted in secret, illegally, reporters look away rather than jeopardize profitable relationships. The intended result is that the unwitting public is robbed of its freedom of speech – for how can you speak freely if you don’t know what’s going on?

If Lansdale hadn’t had Alsop to print his black propaganda, there probably would have been no Vietnam War. Likewise, Judith Miller, disgraced facilitator of the war on Iraq and rehabilitated Fox KKK-TV correspondent, brought you the Iraq War through false documents provided by CIA analysts.

We rarely know who the Alsops and Millers are in our midst, until after the fact. The CIA has a strict policy of keeping its atrocities to itself. And it is aided, in its eternal quest to deceive the American public, by the fact that black propaganda validates the beliefs of the Kevin Dumbs among us, as it assures their imagined security and sense of being exceptional.

In fact, black propaganda operations, and the CIA itself, are antithetical to democratic institutions.

A big part of the CIA’s current success is its ability to deliver its message through Left publications, and the Left’s unstated policy of self-censorship in regard to CIA operations. Most insidious, perhaps, are the former CIA officers who claim to be anti-war, and seek a veil of immunity by claiming to have been “analysts.” This is akin to saying “I was a bookkeeper for the Mafia. I never killed anyone.”

Of course it’s the bookkeepers who tell the bosses the names and addresses of the delinquents who haven’t paid their extortion money this week. The Phoenix Directorate in Saigon had analysts performing the same assassination, kidnapping and torture function on an industrial scale.

Despite the popular portrayal of the CIA as patriotic guys and girls risking everything to do a dirty job, the typical CIA officer is a sociopath without the guts to go it alone in the underworld. They gravitate to the CIA because they are protected there by the all-powerful Cult of Death that rules America.

The most dangerous facet of having former CIA officers slithering around is their uniform message that the CIA is necessary. These are not Phil Agees, revealing the ugly truth and calling for the CIA’s abolition. Like all the CIA’s political and psychological warfare experts, they are at the forefront of the war on terror, using psywar to achieve the goals of the Cult of Death that rules America. The result is a theatre of the absurd, a world of illusion.

Now we are told that the CIA Syrian mercenaries may launch a chemical attack on Israel from government-controlled territories as a “major provocation.” What you can be sure of is that some provocation will be launched and that the press, including most of the Left, will cover it up.

Doug Valentine is the author of five books, including The Phoenix Program. See http://www.douglasvalentine.com or write to him at dougvalentine77@gmail.com

Limited Hangout — A limited hangout, or partial hangout, is a public relations or propaganda technique that involves the release of previously hidden information in order to prevent a greater exposure of more important details.

Wikipedia

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Douglas Valentine on Ellsberg and the CIA
Douglas Valentine on Scahill’s Dirty Wars

 

PFB contributor Douglas Valentine has alerted me to his audio podcast interview with James Corbett and Corbett Report.

Explosive revelations cast doubt on the sincerity of whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg and potential CIA motivations for releasing the “Pentagon Papers” at the moment they were published.  Ellsberg’s own hidden history as a CIA operative is brought out, and Valentine ties investigations into the Phoenix Program and CIA connected drug smuggling to the timing of the release.  This is a side of history that few have ever considered before, and it should be heard in full.

Valentine takes on the fake left media establishment as well.  CIA is off limits at DemocracyNow, The Nation, Mother Jones et al.  This is my own view as well, and this information is quite valuable to those seeking the full truth.

Regarding Jeremy Scahill (DemocracyNow contributor) and his new film Dirty Wars, Valentine calls out the history as “thin” and pointedly avoiding the CIA’s longstanding and central role in these dirty wars.

http://www.douglasvalentine.com/

Dirty Wars and the Cinema of Self-Indulgence

by DOUGLAS VALENTINE

Let me begin with some background not covered in the film. Dirty War derives from “La Sale Guerre”, the term the French applied to their counter-terror campaign in Algeria, circa 1954-1961. Algeria wanted independence, and France resisted.

Like subject people everywhere, the Algerians were badly outgunned and resorted to guerrilla tactics including “selective terrorism,” a hallmark of the Viet Minh, who fought the French until 1954, when America claimed Vietnam as its rightful property. Viet Minh tactics were derived largely from Mao’s precepts for fighting a People’s War.

Selective terrorism meant the murder of low-ranking officials – collaborators – who worked closely with the people; policemen, mailmen, teachers, etc. The murders were gruesome – a bullet in the belly or a grenade lobbed into a café – designed to achieve maximum publicity and demonstrate to the people the power of the nationalists to strike crippling blows against their oppressors.

Whether the Great White Fathers are French or American or English, they agree that putting down a People’s War means torturing and slaughtering the people – despite the fact that most people are not engaged in terrorism or guerrilla action and have no blood on their hands.

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As John Stockwell taught us years ago, Dirty War means destabilizing a targeted nation through covert methods, the type the CIA has practiced around the world for 66 years. Destabilizing means “hiring agents to tear apart the social and economic fabric of the country.

“What we’re talking about is going in and deliberately creating conditions where the farmer can’t get his produce to market; where children can’t go to school; where women are terrified inside their homes as well as outside; where government administered programs grind to a complete halt; where the hospitals are treating wounded people instead of sick people; where international capital is scared away and the country goes bankrupt.”

Economic warfare – strangling nations like Cuba, Iraq and Iran in Medieval fashion – is a type of Dirty Warfare beloved by the Great White Fathers who control the world’s finances. Though no less deadly than atomic bombs, or firebombing Dresden, it is easier to sell to the bourgeoisie.

You’ll hear no mention of this in Scahill’s film, nor will you hear any references to Phil Agee, or the countless others who have explained Dirty War to each generation of Americans since World War Two.

You will not hear about psychological warfare, the essence of Dirty War.

America’s first terror guru was Ed Lansdale, the advertising executive who made Levi’s blue jeans a national craze in the 1930’s. He applied his sales skills to propaganda in the OSS and after WW II, concocted a new generation of psywar tactics as an agent of the Office of Policy Coordination assigned to the Philippines under military cover. Lansdale’s bottomless black bag of dirty tricks included a “skull squadron” death squad that roamed the countryside, torturing and murdering Communist terrorists.

One of Lansdale’s counter-terror “psywar” tactics was to string a captured Communist guerrilla upside down from a tree, stab him in the neck with a stiletto, and drain his blood. The terrorized Commies fled the area and the terrified villagers, who believed in vampires, begged the government for protection.

Lansdale referred to his sadism as “low humor,” an excuse borrowed liberally by American officialdom during the Abu Ghraib prison scandal.

Lansdale formalized “black propaganda” practices to vilify the Communists: one of his Filipino commando units would dress as rebels and commit atrocities, and then another unit would arrive with cameras to record the staged scenes and chase the “terrorists” away.

Lansdale brought his black propaganda and passion for atrocity to Saigon in 1954, along with a goon squad of Filipinos mercenaries packaged as “Freedom Company.”

Under Lansdale’s guidance, Freedom Company sent Vietnamese commandoes into North Vietnam, under cover as relief workers, to activate stay-behind agent nets and conduct all manner of sabotage and subversion. Disinformation was a Lansdale specialty, and his agents spread lurid tales of Vietminh soldiers’ disemboweling pregnant Catholic women, castrating priests, and sticking bamboo slivers in the ears of children so they could not hear the Word of God.

In the South, with the help of the American media, Lansdale re-branded the heroic Vietminh as the beastly Viet Cong.

Lansdale’s greatest innovation, still used today, was to conduct all manner of espionage and terror under cover of “civic action.” As a way of attacking Viet Minh agents in the South, Lansdale launched “Operation Brotherhood,” a Filipino paramedical team patterned on the typical Special Forces A team. With CIA money, Operation Brotherhood built medical dispensaries that the CIA used as cover for terror operations, as depicted in the book and movie The Quiet American.

Levis never went out of fashion, nor did Lansdale’s dirty tricks. Think Saddam Hussein killing babies in their incubators. Such disinformation invariably works on an American public looking for any excuse to rationalize its urge for racist genocide.

Think Argo and Zero Dark Thirty and every Rambo and Bruce Willis films.

Only Americans were fooled by the propaganda, and the Vietnamese quickly caught on. So the CIA in 1956 launched the Denunciation of Communists campaign, which compelled the Vietnamese people to inform on Commies or get tortured and murdered. The campaign was managed by CIA agents who could arrest, confiscate land from, and execute Communists and their sympathizers on the CIA’s master list. In determining who was a Communist, the CIA used a three-part classification system: A for dangerous party members, B for less dangerous party members, and C for loyal citizens.

As happened later in the Phoenix program, the threat of an A or B classification was used to extort innocent civilians, while category A and B offenders were put to work building houses and offices for CIA officers and their lackeys. And, of course, the puppet Vietnamese President used his CIA created, funded and trained security forces to eliminate his political rivals.

As Lansdale confessed, “it became a repressive tool to liquidate any opponent.”

“This development was political,” Lansdale observes. “My first inkling came when several families appeared at my house one morning to tell me about the arrest at midnight of their men-folk, all of whom were political figures. The arrests had a strange aspect to them, having come when the city was asleep and being made by heavily armed men who were identified as `special police.””‘

Lansdale complained, but he was told that a “U.S. policy decision had been made. We Americans were to give what assistance we could to the building of a strong nationalistic party that would support Diem. Since Diem was now the elected president, he needed to have his own party. ”

How We Got To Scahill’s Dirty War

By 1962, as the US expanded its Dirty Wars in the Far East and South America, the military replaced its Office of Special Operations with an up-dated Special Assistant for Counter-insurgency and Special Activities (SACSA). SACSA assigned unconventional warfare forces to the CIA and regular army commanders, who initially resisted.

The development of psychological warfare and special operations is explained in Michael McClintock’s Instruments of Statecraft. For the CIA politics behind it, see Burton Hersh’s The Old Boys.

In 1965 Lansdale went back to Vietnam to run the Revolutionary Development Cadre Program as the CIA’s “second station” with a staff of CIA officers, Green Beanies, and Daniel Ellsberg. Vietnam was a laboratory and the CIA was experimenting with Pacification, aka “the Other War.”

In 1967, the CIA created the Phoenix program to coordinate everyone in its Dirty War. Phoenix combined existing counterinsurgency programs in a concerted effort to neutralize the civilians running the shadow government. Neutralize means to kill, capture, or make to defect. Central to Phoenix was that it targeted civilians. “By analogy,” said Ogden Reid, a member of a congressional committee investigating Phoenix in 1971, “if the Union had had a Phoenix program during the Civil War, its targets would have been civilians like Jefferson Davis or the mayor of Macon, Georgia.”

Under Phoenix, due process was nonexistent. South Vietnamese civilians whose names appeared on CIA blacklists were kidnapped, tortured, detained without trial, or murdered on the word of an informer. Phoenix managers imposed a quota of 1,800 neutralizations per month on the saps running the program in the field, opening it up to abuses by corrupt security officers, policemen, politicians, and racketeers. One CIA officer described Phoenix as, “A very good blackmail scheme for the central government. `If you don’t do what I want, you’re VC.”‘

Because Phoenix assassinations (totaling 25,000+) were often conducted at night while its victims were home sleeping, Phoenix proponents describe the program as a “scalpel” designed to replace the “bludgeon” of My Lai-style search and destroy operations, air strikes, and artillery barrages that indiscriminately wiped out entire villages and did little to “win the hearts and minds” of the people. But that was just propaganda and Phoenix was, among other things, an instrument of counter-terror – the psywar tactic in which enemy agents were brutally murdered along with their families and neighbors as a means of terrorizing the people into a state of submission. Such horrendous acts were, for propaganda purposes, often made to look as if they had been committed by the enemy.

This practice is at the heart of the film I will be reviewing.

As noted, conventional soldiers hated Phoenix. General Bruce Palmer, commander of the U.S. Ninth Infantry Division in 1968, objected to the “involuntary assignment of U.S. Army officers to the program. I don’t believe that people in uniform,” he said, “who are pledged to abide by the Geneva Conventions, should be put in the position of having to break those laws of warfare.”

Palmer’s was such a charming sentiment. By 2004, Obama advisor Lt. Col. David Kilcullen, in an article for Small Wars Journal, was calling for a “global Phoenix Program.” Tom Hayden wrote an article for The Nation about Kilcullen in 2008 titled “Reviving Vietnam War Tactics”.

Fact is, Phoenix never went out of fashion. As McClintock notes, “Counterinsurgency and indeed all aspects of special warfare doctrine had developed a reasonable level of political sophistication by the mid-1970s, acknowledging the necessity of combining military and civil initiatives.”

By 1975 SACSA had expired, the nation had internalized its humiliating defeat in Vietnam, and the CIA, wounded by the Church Committee hearings, went underground. The age of counter-terror began. Central and South America were the new laboratories. The CIA forged secret alliances with proxy nations like Israel and Taiwan, whose agents taught Latin American landowners how to organize criminals into death squads which murdered and terrorized labor leaders, Human Rights activists, and all other enemies of the Great White Fathers.

To compensate for the reduction in size of its paramilitary Special Operations Division, the CIA formed its Office of Terrorism. Meanwhile, the military branches beefed up their terror capabilities, all of which glommed together in December 1980 in the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). Steve Emerson chronicles this development in detail in Secret Warriors (1988).

JSOC’s mission, conducted on the Phoenix model with the CIA, is identifying and destroying terrorists and terror cells worldwide. Paramilitary personnel are often exchanged between JSOC and CIA.

By the early 1980s, CIA and military veterans of the Phoenix program were running counter-insurgency and counter-terror ops worldwide.

General Paul Gorman, who commanded U.S. forces in Central America in the mid-1980′s, defined this advanced form of Dirty War as “a form of warfare repugnant to Americans, a conflict which involves innocents, in which non-combatant casualties may be an explicit object.”‘ (Toledo Blade 1 Jan 1987)

All of which brings me to my review.

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Dirty Wars

Dirty Wars is a post-modern film by Jeremy Scahill, about himself, starring himself in many poses.

The film owes more to Sergio Leone and Kathryn Bigelow than Constantinos Gavras. Scahill certainly is no Leslie Cockburn: there is no Tony Poe telling how the CIA facilitates heroin shipments; no Richard Secord suing him for unraveling the financial intrigues of the CIA’s secret operators. The CIA is rarely mentioned.

There is no reference to the Guerra Sucia in Argentina.

Scahill is no Franz Fanon documenting the devastating psychological effects of racism on society. There are no cameos by Jean-Paul Sartre advocating violent retribution on Hollywood, no mingling with the Taliban in their caves as they conspire against their Yankee oppressors at the Sundance Film Festival.

We get the first taste of his self-indulgent idiocy when he says it is “hard to tell” when the Dirty War began. He does tell us, however, that he is on the “front lines” of the war on terror.

Scahill (hereafter JS) brags that he wasn’t going to find the front lines in Kabul, although he could have, if he knew where to look. Instead he just looks around furtively on his way to the scene of a war crime. We see a close-up of his face.

The endless close-ups artfully convey the feeling that our hero is utterly alone, on some mythic journey of self-discovery, without a film crew or interpreters. There is no evidence that anyone went to Gardez to make sure everyone was waiting and not toiling in the fields or tending the flocks, or whatever they do. And we’ll never find out what the victims do. The stage isn’t big enough for JS and anyone else.

This is a major theme throughout the story – JS is doing all this alone and the isolation preys on him. He bears this heavy burden alone, with many soulless looks.

Initially, there is no mention that journalist Jerome Starkey reported what happened in Gardez. JS is too busy establishing himself as the courageous super-sleuth. As we drive along the road, he reminds us how much danger he is in. Two journalists were kidnapped here, he says. This area is “beyond” NATO control. He must get in and out before nightfall or the Taliban will surely kill him like the Capitalist dog he is.

In my drinking days, we referred to this type of behavior as grandiosity. Telling everyone how you defied death, so the guys would talk about your exploits in the bars, and the girls would fall at your feet. For JS, this formula is working – a visit to his Facebook page reveals scores of “Millennial girls” wringing their hands and fretting for his safety as he strides across America’s secret battlefields in search of the truth. His carefully crafted Wiki bio furthers the legend.

Using the material gathered by Starkey (whom he eventually acknowledges), JS shows that in February 2010, American soldiers murdered five people in Gardez, including two pregnant women, and tried to cover it up by digging the bullets out of the targeted man’s body. He interviews the surviving family members. They weep. Violin music plays. They seem more like props than human beings.

JS ingenuously asks various Afghan and American officials, why the cover-up? The officials suggest that the targeted man was working for the Taliban – and if you play that double-game, you risk your family and friends. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff tells JS they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. He says there will be no investigation.

Cut to Capitol Hill where, by his own account, JS has greatness thrust upon him. “It is imperative,” he tells Chairman John Conyers, “that Congress investigates this shadow war to examine its legality.”

What, one wonders, was Conyers thinking? Forty-two years earlier, after hearing testimony from Bart Osborn and Michael Uhl about the Phoenix program, Conyers and three other U.S. representatives stated their belief that “The people of these United States … have deliberately imposed on the Vietnamese people a system of justice which admittedly denies due process of law …. In so doing, we appear to have violated the 1949 Geneva Convention for the protection of civilian peoples.”

His testimony, JS tells us, “throws him into the public arena,” ever so reluctantly. He revisits his Blackwater testimony and shows pictures of himself with numerous celebrities on TV.

B-takes of Scahill walking among the common folk in Brooklyn, plotting his next move. Haunted by the horror of Gardez, he files FOIA requests and discovers that William McRaven is head of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). He’s stunned. He’s been a national security reporter for over a decade, and he’s never heard of JSOC before. It’s covert. The story has been hidden in the shadows, he says.

This was the turning point of the film for me. For a National Security correspondent, this is an admission akin to a botanist saying he’d never heard of flowers. It’s an admission that fairly sums up the sorry state of reporting in America today. Has JS ever read a book?

JS discovers that Gardez is not an isolated incident, and that JSOC rampages across Afghanistan with “unprecedented authority.” He talks to a former JSOC soldier about its activities in Iraq, where it had hit lists and conducted night raids. This revelation, and the fact that McRaven took responsibility for Gardez, leads JS to conclude that JSOC is responsible for Gardez. It certainly wasn’t Congress, which according to JS, has no control over JSOC. JSOC money comes from rich donors.

JS learns that JSOC is not only in Afghanistan, but that it operates worldwide, and that its hit lists get bigger all the time. And we hear, for the first time, the catchy phrase, “the world is a battlefield.”

At this point JS decides, with the help of The Nation brain trust, to investigate JSOC in Yemen where CIA drones are wiping out people by the score.

B-take of JS sipping tea thoughtfully. He’s going to talk to the most powerful man in South Yemen. We view of scene of a drone strike: 46 killed, including five pregnant women. A woman in a black veil says her entire family, save one daughter, were wiped out. Violin music. But there’s no cover-up here. In fact, Obama personally kept the journalist in prison who reported the strike.

What will Obama do to JS?

Once again, we fear for JS. Luckily he lives to talk to Rachel Maddow and Morning Joe. The greatness thrust upon him forces him onto TV shows everywhere. There he is with Amy Goodman!

More close-ups. We count the pores on his nose, the hairs in his eyebrows. We feel the fear. He gets a strange call. Someone tells him JSOC tortures people without telling the CIA or regular army, which are too busy torturing people to care.

As he studies the hit lists, he comes across radical America Muslim, Anwar al-Awlaki. After talking to Tony Schaffer, he realizes JSOC targets Muslims and that is why, along with the US invasion of Iraq, Awlaki is pissed off. Awlaki is an American but is inciting people to revolution in Yemen, so Yemen allows the CIA to kill him.

Note – the CIA is mentioned maybe twice in the film. Apparently it is so covert it escaped his notice.

We see JS in an exotic location. An airplane lands. JS is back in the USA. He’s been traumatized by what he’s seen. He tells anyone who will listen that the US cannot kill its way to peace, as if peace is the objective. The war on terror, he concludes, is creating enemies, which of course is the objective.

Before the American people can rally to JS’s clarion call, Obama sends some guys to kill Osama bin Laden. This is too much of a coincidence to ignore. Was it done to subvert his investigation? In any event, McRaven and JSOC are now heroes. He meets a knowledgeable person who tells him the Dirty War will go on forever. He tells us about signature strikes that kill people randomly (but not that the CIA conducts them) and that the war on terror is out of control.

Pictures of JS pointing to countries on a map where JSOC operates. He decides to visit Somalia, where JSOC is snatching bodies and taking them to ships in the Arabian Sea, and outsourcing its Dirty War to mercenaries. He visits mercenaries wearing camo fatigues. There are no other journalists here, it is too dangerous. Someone hands JS a flak jacket. Someone tells him they bury traitors alive. The tension soars. He’s surrounded by armed men. There’s a gunshot. He ducks behind sandbags.

We wonder who arranged for JS to meet these guys? Where did he get an interpreter? What’s the quid pro quo?

JS goes to a hospital morgue and looks at a mutilated body. After which he wants to go home. But he learns that Awlaki’s son has been killed and reluctantly he returns to Yemen.

I liked this part of the film. It seemed genuine. We see home videos of Awlaki’s son doing youthful happy things. JS tries to understand why the US would deliberately kill a 16 year old kid? Which is a good question. Perhaps America is ruled by a murderous Cult of Death.

We see pictures of young girls smiling, and we revert back to the contrived scenes and monologue that drag the documentary down into gratuitous self-promotion. JS says he never had any idea where the story would lead, as if all this happened magically, like a rabbit pulled out of a hat.

The film ends and I wonder what he could have produced if he hadn’t melodramatized and spent so much time and film on close-ups. I wonder what he could have done if he’d read a few history books.

Ultimately, the film is so devoid of historical context, and so contrived, as to render it a work of art, rather than political commentary. And as art, it is pure self-indulgence.

And in this sense, it is a perfect slice of modern American life.

Doug Valentine is the author of five books, including The Phoenix Program. See http://www.douglasvalentine.com or write to him at dougvalentine77@gmail.com