Revolution #191, February 7, 2010
From Iran to Indonesia, Chile, Afghanistan and Worldwide:
CIA’s Decades of Criminal “Service”
In a December 31, 2009 presidential message to the “CIA workforce,” Barack Obama eulogized as “heroes” seven CIA agents who were killed in a suicide bombing at a U.S. base in Afghanistan. He said, “The United States would not be able to maintain the freedom and security that we cherish without decades of service from the dedicated men and women of the CIA … I know firsthand the excellent quality of your work because I rely on it every day.”
The CIA is a powerful spy agency with a long history of carrying out assassinations, fomenting coups, torturing people, and other crimes around the globe, all in the “service” of U.S. imperialism. Let’s take a look at a few examples—just a very few out of many, many more—of the work of the CIA that Obama, as U.S. president, so cherishes:
- In 1953 the CIA, together with its British equivalent the MI6, engineered a coup against Iran’s elected president, Mohammad Mossadegh, in part because he threatened U.S. and British oil interests. The CIA installed Mohammad Reza Pahlavi as the Shah (king) and created his special police force, the SAVAK. SAVAK’s torture methods included electric shock, whipping, beating, inserting broken glass and pouring boiling water into the rectum, tying weights to the testicles, and the extraction of teeth. This is part of the “decades of service” that Obama speaks so highly of.
- In July 1960, a nationalist government came to power in the central African country of the Congo, after decades of brutal colonial rule. The CIA immediately began working to destabilize the country. During a White House national security meeting, U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower personally ordered the assassination of the popular Prime Minister, Patrice Lumumba. In September 1960, the CIA “asset” Colonel Mobutu staged a coup. Lumumba was caught after escaping house arrest, and assassinated by Mobutu’s men in January 1961. This is the type of deadly intrigue that Obama calls the CIA’s “excellent quality” of work.
- In 1965, a coup engineered by the CIA in conjunction with the Indonesian military overthrew the nationalist coalition government led by Sukarno (in which the Communist Party of Indonesia played a major role) and brought to power the military regime headed by General Suharto. Hundreds of thousands of people were massacred—communists and people accused of being communists. Rivers in some areas of Indonesia became clogged with the bodies of the victims. This is the same CIA that Obama lauds as “heroes.”
- In 1973, the CIA orchestrated the overthrow of the elected government of Salvador Allende in Chile by the fascist general Pinochet. Mainstream sources document the death of some 3,000 people at the hands of Pinochet, and Chilean revolutionaries have said that 30,000 people were killed. Many more were tortured or forced into exile during Pinochet’s 17-year rule. Yet another example of the handiwork of the “dedicated men and women” of the CIA.
- In the 1980s, the CIA was involved in the shipment of cocaine into the inner cities of the U.S., and used the money to buy guns for a CIA-backed terrorist force that was waging attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure to overthrow the elected Sandinista government in Nicaragua. These are the international gangsters that Obama calls “heroes.”
- In 2004, Khaled el-Masri, a German car salesman, was seized while crossing from Serbia into Macedonia by bus. A CIA rendition team stripped him naked, drugged him, shackled him, and flew him to Kabul, Afghanistan, where he spent four months in a dark cell being “interrogated.” Five months later he was dumped by the CIA in Albania, and told his abduction, detention and abuse was a case of mistaken identity. These are the kinds of actions that Obama and his predecessors in the White House have long relied on.
The CIA in Afghanistan
And let’s look at the CIA in relation to Afghanistan. In order to understand why the CIA and the U.S. military are in Afghanistan now, you have to look at what led up to the situation that exists today.
The fact is that the U.S., and the CIA’s “work” in particular, had everything to do with the growth of the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan and the spread of Islamic fundamentalism in the whole region. In 1979, the former Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. The Soviet Union at the time was a revisionist (that is, a phony “communist”) country, an imperialist superpower that was seriously contending with the U.S. for dominance in many parts of the world. The U.S. deliberately provoked the invasion of Afghanistan, in order to (in the words of Zbigniew Brzezinski, national security advisor to then-President Jimmy Carter) give the Soviet Union “its Vietnam War.”
Then through the 1980s, the CIA, in partnership with the reactionary regimes in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, carried out a massive covert war in Afghanistan by funneling more than $3 billion in arms and aid to the reactionary Islamic fundamentalist fighters. The U.S. strategy was to make the war much longer and more violent, destructive, and costly for the Soviets. By the time the Soviets were forced to withdraw in 1989, more than a million Afghans had been killed and one-third of its population driven into refugee camps. This CIA-led insurgency against America’s imperialist rivals is where Osama bin Laden got his start. This is where the seeds of al Qaeda and the Taliban were first sown.
The current U.S. war in Afghanistan has never been simply a response to 9/11. The 2001 invasion grew out of a decade of U.S. planning before 9/11 aimed at seizing greater initiative and hegemony in the Middle East and Central Asia. In the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union (in which the Soviet defeat in Afghanistan was a big factor), the U.S. imperialists faced a new obstacle in dominating this crucial region of the world—the very same Islamic fundamentalists that the U.S. had built up in the 1980s. The Taliban is a reactionary force that brings down horror on the people. But that is not why the U.S. invaded Afghanistan in 2001—and why Obama is now greatly expanding that war. And of the two opposing reactionary forces, U.S. imperialism and Islamic fundamentalism, the U.S. has done—and is doing—much greater harm in the world, as even the partial list above of CIA crimes shows.
Whatever the specific roles of the CIA agents praised by Obama as “heroes,” they were not in Afghanistan to promote “freedom and security” for the masses of people there. The U.S. war and occupation has brought nothing but horror after horror: repeated bombings of wedding parties, torture and indefinite detention, continued feudal oppression of women, and so on. Nor is the U.S. war—launched by George W. Bush and being expanded by Obama—fundamentally about “freedom and security” for the people in the U.S. This is a war for greater empire by the U.S. imperialist rulers. And it is from the standpoint of the commander-in-chief of this war that Obama cherishes the CIA’s “decades of service” and praises these criminals as “heroes.”
The reality is that the CIA is a secret organization of assassins and mass murderers responsible for wanton brutality against countless millions of people all over the world. It is part of a larger machinery of massive destruction and slaughter wielded by the civilian heads and military commanders of the U.S. imperialist state. None of this is hyperbole. If you think we are exaggerating, then have the courage and integrity to actually look into it. We are confident you will find that what is laid out here is the truth. And then the question is: what are the implications of that truth for what stand to take and what to do?
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