Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 30, No. 4. 1967.
The CIA plays the role of 'Invisible Government'
The CIA plays the role of 'Invisible Government'
The Invisible Government, by David Wise and Thomas B. Ross, published by Jonathan Cape, 1966. NZ Price 38/Reviewed by Alister Taylor.
Recent revelations about the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) were sparked off in early 1964 by David Wise and Thomas Ross, two writers for the New York Times.
They started their investigations with the C2 incidents, then the Bay of Pigs, and now. with The Invisible Government, an examination of the entire American security and intelligence system.
Their revelations about the CIA were certainly essential background for the Ramparts article which exposed CIA involvement in youth and student affairs, and for the follow-up stories by James Retson in the New York Times, by the New Statesman, Economist and dozens of other articles.
What is this American security network which Wise and Thomas have brought to public attention?
It's not limited to the CIA, although the CIA is its heart. Nor is it confined to the nine other agencies which comprise what's known as the American "intelligence community": the National Security Council. Defence Intelligence Agency. National Security Agency, Army. Navy and Air Intelligence, the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research, Atomic Energy Commission and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The Invisible Government also includes agencies, units and individuals that appear outwardly as normal parts of the conventional government. Broadcasting and television stations are also owned, steamship lines subsidised and operated, and even airlines, as. for instance, the CIA's American Airlines, which operates extensively in South-east Asia Over 200,000 people are employed and several billion dollars spent each year in this massive, hidden apparatus.
Despite the wide ranging clandestine activities of this community, and despite the power, the importance and the vast sums of money at the disposal of the CIA and other agencies, there's not been enough public discussion of this secret machinery.
U2: "There was absolutely no—N-O— deliberate attempt to violate Soviet airspace. There never has been."—Lincoln White, State Department spokesman.
The public has been both ill-informed and misinformed.
Only now. through the exposure of CIA financing and participation in such organisations as the US National Union of Students, World University Service. Asian Student Press Bureau. International Student Conference and Young Women's Christian Association, is the public starting to get even a picture of the CIA's work.
There's no doubt that the picture Wise and Thomas give is an accurate one.
Most of their material is drawn from public records and extensive newspaper clippings from all over the world.
The intelligence establishment in the United States, as in New Zealand, seems to trip itself up. not only by failing to keep everything secret, but by making conflicting statements about its own activities.
Some operations, such as the Bay of Pips. have become so big that they cannot be plausibly denied or concealed.
But the "Invisible Government" still tries to keep them "secret."
Building up, fact by fact, incident by incident, the authors have revealed the part played by the CIA in the overthrow of the Guatemalan government in 1954, the Bay of Pigs incident, CIA activities in Laos. Burma, Indonesia and, of most immediate interest. Vietnam.
The Invisible Government's activities in Vietnam started off in 1954 when Eisenhower and Dulles called in Colonel Edward Lansdale, a key figure in the CIA. who directed their activities in the Philippines in support of Magsaysay.
Wise and Thomas say "Lansdale . . . was mandated ... to find a popular leader in Vietnam and throw the support of the Invisible Government behind him." Lansdale supported Diem, stopped a coup by Vietnamese army officers in 1954, and in 1955, when Diem moved against the Binh Xuyen, came into direct conflict with General Collins (former US Army Chief of Staff, sent to Vietnam by Eisenhower), who'd become sceptical of the Diem regime.
Collins had sided with French soldiers not yet evacuated who'd intervened to stop Diem oppression against the Binh Xuyen.
Lansdale. with CIA support, opposed Collins's policies. Collins flew to Washington and thought he'd got his views sustained, but in his absence Lansdale persuaded Diem to crush the Binh Xuyen.
This was the first instance of a direct conflict between CIA and presidential policy in Vietnam.
In the next few years the US committed itself increasingly to supporting the Diem regime, contributing over a billion dollars from 1955 to 1959 and building up their armed forces. The CIA organised the strategic hamlet scheme and. through MIT. attempted to organise the local police forces. It also armed the Montagnards 'at an annual cost near to five million dollars' and the Vietnamese Special forces to oppose the Vietcong.
Bay Op Pigs: "The American people are entitled to know whether we are intervening in Cuba or intend to do so in the future. The answer to that question is no."—Secretary of State Dean Rusk.
In 1963. outbreaks of Buddhist demonstrations against the Diem regime were repressed harshly by CIA financed and organised forces.
With the arrival of new Ambassador Cabot Lodge immediately after the demonstrations. the CIA chief in Vietnam was recalled and "many took it as evidence that the CIA had been operating on its own in Vietnam in defiance of orders from Washington."
The switch in policy was soon noticeable: even Diem noticed it when on October 17 he said: "Day and night, these people (the CIA) came and urged the Buddhists to stage a coup.
"It is incomprehensible to me why the CIA, which had backed a winning programme, should reverse itself."
Two weeks later Diem was dead and it was evident that the CIA. like all good ships, had deserted the sinking rat.
The Vietnam story indicates that the CIA is the central element in the book.
While other agencies and operations are described, it's the organisation and methods the CIA uses which are most fascinating and often the most lethal.
Not in the accepted sense perhaps, but in the way in which the CIA views its world role.
Deliberately and secretly it has overthrown governments in Guatemala in 1954, Iran in 1953. Dominica in 1965. Indonesia in 1965 and Ghana in 1966.
The CIA moves in. accomplishes its task and moves on.
It demolishes a left-wing government and replaces it with a right-wing junta.
The yoke of Communism may be thrown off, but in its place there remains the yoke of poverty and indifferent oligarchy.
The abysmal conditions that led to socialism and communism in the first place are as apparent as ever.
Indonesia: "Our policy is one of careful neutrality and proper deportment all the way through so as not to be taking sides where it is none of our business."— President Eisenhower in 1958. at the time the CIA organised air raids over Sumatra.
The CIA and Invisible Government have had many failures, but they've also had a few successes.
In 1962 their spy-planes spotted the Cuban missile build-up, and they've developed a highly effective spying system with electronic and "spy-in-the-sky" systems.
The CIA considers their biggest coup obtaining the famous "secret speech" made by Nikita Khrushchev to the 1956 Congress. Unfortunately, recent research by Isaac Deutscher in Ironies of History indicates that all the tortuous methods employed by CIA agents throughout Eastern Europe (even to the extent of offering the Yugoslav Government a huge sum of money for a copy of the script) were in vain, because the Russian Government wanted the information "leaked" to the outside world.
The CIA acted as the willing purveyor of news of the Sino-Soviet split.
Since the CIA was formed in 1947 Kennedy has been the only President who has attempted to control the agency.
He wanted the security collection side of its activities dissociated from its policymaking and operations activities.
With these functions joined, the intelligence-gatherers become special pleaders for the operations in which they are engaged.
Indeed, as in the Bay of Pigs episode, which prompted President Kennedy's investigation, the "Invisible Government" unilaterally carries out action without political consent or knowledge.
In other cases, as with the U2 affair. American politicians are misinformed about the true facts.
Because a Special Group exists to "control" the intelligence community under Presidential authority, and this has a generalised mechanism for approving operations, intelligence men have been able to claim that they have never acted outside of policy set at the highest level of the government.
Wise and Thomas say "even when a clear policy has been established a President may find it difficult to enforce. Presidential power, despite the popular conception of it is diffuse and limited. The various departments and agencies under his authority have entrenched sources of strength. They cannot always be moulded to his will."
Kennedy certainly found this.
He was unable to separate the various functions of the CIA and other sections of the "Invisible Government." Some commentators have even suggested that Kennedy was the victim of one section of the Invisible Government.
Guatemala: "The situation is being cured by the Guatemalan people themselves."—Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, on the 1954 "government takeover."
Certainly the role of the FBI in the aftermath of the assassination, when revealed, will be interesting.
What then should be done?
Wise and Thomas feel that President and Congress should take positive steps to control the intelligence establishment, to place checks on its power and to make it truly accountable, particularly in the area of special operations. The authors say these operations "raise the question of how far a free society, in attempting to preserve itself can emulate a closed society without becoming indistinguishable from it."
How much is achieved, how much destroyed? In these times when the Cold War is finished (or only a fiction in the mind of the State Department) it is time the intelligence system which fostered the Cold War should be effectively controlled or systematically dismantled.