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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol. 38, No. 6 April 10, 1975

Blackmail, Assassination and War

Blackmail, Assassination and War

In practical terms, what do such terms as 'covert operations', 'disinformation' and 'clandestine tradecraft' mean. Expressing itself as it does in a sterile, clumsy and jarring prose, the 'clandestine mentality' has devised a whole vocabulary of euphemisms for such activities as spying, lying, forgery, bribery, blackmail, assassination and war. Thus, the publication, dissemination or broadcasting of lies in the form of books (sometimes by reputable publishing firms), newspapers, apparently genuine documents and leaflets and radio items is simply 'disinformation' 'Finished intelligence' is 'data [unclear: collecte] from all sources - secret, official and open - which has been carefully collated and analysed by substantive expert specifically to meet the needs of the national leadership.' And activities of a paramilitary or warlike nature such a demolitions, jungle warfare, the [unclear: training] equipping of mercenary troops throughout the world, flying bombing missions, and across-border harassment such as that which occurred in China, are 'special operations."

Puppet soldiers

Included in the series of 'special operations' described by the authors are: the use of the Pacific island of Saipan as a training base (in spite of the island being a UN trust territory), the training of Tibetan troops loyal to the Dalai Lama; the bombing in 1964 of rebel areas in the Congo with the planes being piloted by Cubans; the financing and organising of a mercenary army in Laos (L'Armee Clandestine), the organising of guerrilla raids against North Vietnam, including one which occurred at the time of the alleged attack on two US destroyers by North Vietnamese gunboats in the Tonkin Gulf in 1964; the successful invasion of page break Guatemala by an agency-organised rebel force, the ill-fated invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs, the training of Bolivian troops which culminated in the tracking and killing of Che Guevara ....

This list is incomplete - CIA operations are more extensive and sinister than indicated, though that seems difficult to imagine - but it illustrates the extent to which the CIA is prepared to violate the norms of national sovereignty to achieve what it perceives to be the foreign policy goals of the political leadership. In effect it declares war on countries with which it is in disagreement, while the American government leaders continue to behave as peace-time politicians. Witness Cuba, Vietnam, Laos and Chile. Marchetti and Marks write: 'One of the disadvantages a secret agency like the CIA provides to a president is the unique pretext of being able to disclaim responsibility for its action. Thus, a president can direct or approve high-risk operations . . . without openly accepting the consequences of these decisions. If the clandestine operations are successful - good. If they fail or backfire, then usually all the president and his staff need do to avoid culpability is to blame the CIA;

'Presidents like the CIA. It does their dirty work that might not otherwise be 'do-able'. When the agency fails or blunders, all the president need do is to deny, scold or threaten. . . for the CIA's part, being the focus of presidential blame is an occupational hazard but one hardly worth worrying about. The CIA fully realises that it is too important to the government and the American political aristocracy for any president to do more than tinker with it.'



1.The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence, Victor Marchetti and John D. Marks, London, 1974. Subsequent quotations, unless specified, are also taken from this book. They are frequently of substantial length because of the accuracy, conciseness and lucidity with which the authors have treated their subject.

(To be Continued Next Week)

'You've just got to trust us. We are honourable men.'

Richard Helms, former CIA director quoted in CIA Diary.

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