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Prior to the 11 September terror attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, two conditions defined American politics. In regard to foreign affairs, the United States was universally recognized as the world’s only superpower. And today that condition remains unchanged: no other nation comes close to matching America’s military might.
But domestic politics was defined by doubts about the legitimacy of the Bush Administration. Al Gore had won the popular vote by an overwhelming majority, and Bush had acquired his presidential powers through a combination of nepotism and voter fraud in Florida, blatant media bias, and a judicial coup d’etat by the right wing of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Before the terror attacks, the stench of venality clung to Bush like cigarette smoke and stale beer after a night of bar hopping. Since the attacks, his standing in the polls has nearly doubled, and there’s been no more talk of an oil crunch, or the ailing economy, or of the looting of pension plans down ten to twenty percent, or of the looting of Social Security and Medicare to pay for the war of revenge, or of Republicans losing Congress in 2002.
This second, overarching condition—the inherent illegitimacy of the Bush Administration—must be remembered when considering how the apocalyptic events of 11 September changed the domestic political landscape. Symbolically, they wiped the slate clean. The U.S. remains the most powerful nation in the world, but Bush’s legitimacy is no longer an issue. As a result, all the moral and psychological prohibitions on the reactionary right have been lifted, and all the anger and frustrations it cultivated during the Vietnam War, and the Carter and Clinton Administrations, is poised to be unleashed under the aegis of counter-terrorism, not only on the usual suspects—foreign enemies sitting on vast oil reserves, suspected terrorists, and domestic dissidents—but on the unwitting, flag-waving American public as well.
Alas, righteous outrage over the crime of 11 September has enabled the once wobbly “unpresident” to stand tall, assert himself, and exploit the catastrophe in a way that seems at once crass, eerily preordained, and suspiciously opportune. Though its moral authority and intentions are as uncertain as the perpetrators of the carnage, the Bush Administration has effectively silenced its critics, and, amid rapturous bipartisan Congressional and public support, launched a “low intensity” war on Afghanistan and a nebulous, “covert” war on world terrorism, while reorganizing the executive branch of government into the most fearsome political and psychological warfare machine the world has ever seen.
There is a grave, hidden danger in this situation, for the reactionary right wing—by which I mean the owners, managers, and supporters of America’s totalitarian, military-industrial-information complex—have united the nation behind the Bush Administration in a spirit of belligerent nationalism. With its actions and intentions shrouded in secrecy, the Bush Administration, in this respect, fits the classic definition of a fascist dictatorship.
Already some of our most cherished freedoms have been sacrificed. Dissent has been stifled, censorship imposed, and cherished legal protections, especially regarding the Fourth Amendment, have been altered and suspended. No one knows exactly how many “suspects” are being detained, or where, and already there has been one suspicious death and widespread rumors of abuse. And the situation will only get worse.
In a 21 October article for the Washington Post, Walter Pincus reported that FBI and Justice Department investigators are increasingly frustrated by the silence of some jailed suspects. Offers of lighter sentences, money, jobs, and a new identity and life in America haven’t loosened their tongues, and alternative strategies under discussion include “using drugs or pressure tactics, such as those employed occasionally by Israeli interrogators, to extract information.”
Images come to mind of stoic Israeli soldiers breaking the hands of adolescent Palestinian rock throwers. But more serious measures are being contemplated. According to Pincus, one law professor believes “the use of force to extract information could happen” in cases where investigators believe suspects have information on an upcoming attack. “If there is a ticking bomb, it is not an easy issue,” the professor said.
Right wing Republican stalwart Kenneth W. Starr, the former Clinton inquisitor, said the danger of terrorism requires “deference to the judgments of the political branches (italics added) with respect to matters of national security.” And right wing Republican Richard Thornburgh, a former Pennsylvania governor and attorney general under Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, said that due process sometimes “strangles us.” When it comes to counter-terrorism, Thornburgh said that legally admissible evidence “may not be the be-all and end-all.”
According to Pincus, “the country may compare the current search for information to brutal tactics in wartime used to gather intelligence overseas and even by U.S. troops from prisoners during military actions.”
Suddenly we’ve gone from breaking hands to cutting off fingers, attaching electrodes to genitals, and pouring soapy water down windpipes while suspects hang suspended on meat hooks.
But is there a “crisis” as government propagandist Pincus suggests? And even if there is, why must we defer to the “political branches,” as Starr claims, to combat terrorism? And what does it mean for Bush’s domestic political opponents if, as Thornburgh suggests, the “current search for information” should include the “brutal tactics” used “in wartime”?
America was attacked and is at war; and in the rage and confusion following the morning of 11 September Bush sought unprecedented emergency powers to counter the threat of more terrorism. He received those powers from Congress with near unanimous public support. The logic was irrefutable at the moment: a murderous, suicidal enemy had invaded our homeland, and the military had to be mobilized. Fear gripped the nation, and while Bush was ignominiously hidden away in a military bunker by security forces (because, his aides falsely claimed, terrorists planned to attack Air Force One) the White House was able to impose what amounts to martial law. Armed National Guardsmen now stalk our airports, concrete barriers surround our government buildings, and the president’s press secretary cautions our apologetic comedians (when they’re not sports casting or sharing emotional moments with Dan Rather) to watch what they say.
And even though the attacks ended quickly, a bizarre outbreak of anthrax keeps the body count climbing, emotions simmering, and the emergency sustained. The military is now integrally involved in domestic counter-terror operations, and intelligence gained from CIA covert actions—evidence hitherto inadmissible in courts of law, due to the CIA’s refusal to reveal its illegal “sources and methods”—has been folded into law enforcement operations. Any number of secret presidential edicts may have been issued—we know of one authorizing the CIA to commit assassinations—and thus the scope of the assault on our civil liberties has yet to be fully revealed.
But we do know how the Bush Dictatorship will be organized. It will be based on a broad policy of anti-terrorism covering the entire spectrum of possible actions, from conventional military operations, to political intervention, and to economic sanctions against nations like Afghanistan, Cuba, and Iraq. This broad policy of anti-terrorism will include specific counter-terror programs and operations, at home and abroad. White House political and security advisors will coordinate this bifurcated effort under the ostensible direction of dimwitted George Bush and the actual direction of his Machiavellian Vice President, Dick Cheney. Should Haliburton Oil Company executive Cheney depart the scene for health reasons, an equally aggressive individual, most likely Secretary of State Colin Powell, will take his place.
The job of managing overseas counter-terror operations will fall to National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice. A board member of Chevron Corporation, which operates in 100 foreign countries, Rice, like Bush and Cheney, has an abiding personal interest in the growth of the oil industry. She is a “hard liner” and advocates a worldwide war on terrorism, to be fought in more than 60 countries. As she said in an 18 October article posted on the CNN website, “you’ve got to get to these (terrorist) cells and root them out and disrupt them before they strike again.”
The job of coordinating the domestic counter-terror effort will fall to former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge, as director of the newly created Office of Homeland Security (OHS). In less sophisticated times, the domestic counter-terror effort would be referred to as “internal security,” and Ridge would head the Office of Internal Security. But the Bush Administrations public relations experts evidently think “internal security” has a negative connotation, and that the word “homeland” connotes “the land of the free and the home of the brave,” as opposed to the Fuehrer and his adoring volkreich.
Although he is a personal friend of Bush and a decorated Vietnam veteran, Ridge supports a woman’s right to an abortion, and thus is mistrusted by the reactionary right wing of the Republican Party. Even the mainstream media is beginning to portray him as a mere spokesman and figurehead without real authority, and it’s clear the White House’s political cadre will make the real decisions about internal security, and foreign policy.
In existence since 1947, the National Security Council implements the President’s foreign policy wishes, which are to organize the world based on the totalitarian corporate paradigm, in a political way that will enrich himself and his loyal supporters. The new OHS has the same purpose, and same organizational structure, as the NSC.
The political pretext for creating the OHS was simple enough: 6,000 citizens were killed in a terrible terror attack, and the Bush Administrations’ claims that the OHS is the best mechanism to reduce the risk of such a calamity happening again. To this end, the OHS will coordinate more than 40 federal agencies involved in intelligence, security, and law enforcement endeavors.
Although the lines of authority have yet to be determined, the OHS will work with the murky Military Homeland Defense Agency under Deputy National Security Advisor General Wayne Downing. Though he is described as Ridge’s deputy, Downing has far greater experience in counter-terror doctrine and operations, including service as an intelligence and Civil Affairs officer during the Vietnam War. Before his retirement in 1997, Downing was Commanding General of the U.S. Army Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg (1991-1993), and Commander in Chief of the U.S. Special Operations Command at MacDill Air Force Base (1993-1996).
The man to watch, Downing will advise Ridge and Bush on how best to detect and disrupt domestic terrorist organizations. Downing will be OHS’s liaison to the Pentagon and its highly evolved counter-terror units. These units will likely serve as the OHS’s “action” arm in hostage situations or in cases when the “brutal tactics” used “in wartime” are required to persuade a terrorist to reveal the location of a “ticking bomb.”
Downing also will likely oversee the Stalinist military tribunals the Bush Administration has proposed as a method of trying, dispensing with, and even executing terrorists. In a 25 October article titled “How We Punish Saboteurs” for Legal Times, Philip Lacovara, cited the case of eight German saboteurs executed during World War II. President Roosevelt ordered the men tried before a military tribunal composed entirely of military officers. The saboteurs took their case to the Supreme Court, but the Justices backed the President, ruling that the Germans had no right to a public trial or a trial by jury. The Court even implied that the President as commander in chief had the power to order the men executed without any trial at all. Ultimately the military tribunal did its job, and in early August 1942, six would-be saboteurs were hanged.
As Lacovara notes, without any sense of irony that every member of the CIA falls within this definition, “The laws of war grant no quarter to those who plot their evil in the shadows.”
It’s unclear if the OHS, in conjunction with Downing’s organization, will have the power to torture and summarily execute. But the OHS is being funded by hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars, and Bush Administration propagandists are busy lowering expectations. Defending our homeland will not be an easy task, according to Michael Ledeen, a former counter-terror expert in the Reagan Administration’s State Department and National Security Council. In a 1 October article for the National Review OnLine, Ledeen said the difficulty will be getting the law-enforcement and intelligence agencies “to coordinate better with one another.”
Ledeen defines this organizational problem as ideological, and he specifically blames the Clintons, “for failing to properly organize our nation’s security apparatus.”
He even goes so far as to suggest that the Clinton Administration is liable for the terror attacks of September 11th, because, “People who took security seriously were sneered at by the Clintons. Bubba’s White House was a security shambles,” and his Secretary of State, Madeline Albright, “presided over one security debacle after another. Rooms were bugged, files and computers disappeared, perhaps into the same black hole as the Rose Law Firm records having to do with Ms. Hillary’s billable hours.”
Ledeen’s vilification of “the Clintons” is a textbook example of the unsubtle political and psychological warfare being waged on the American public, to legitimize the Bush Administration, and to justify the political repression of those people whom Clinton is presumed to represent: obviously not those who take security seriously.
Bombing a pharmaceutical factory in the Sudan, endless economic sanctions against Iraq, more than a billion dollars to fight narco-terrorism in Colombia, and the war in Bosnia—none of this was serious enough to suit Ledeen and the radical right. Nor was Clinton’s total commitment to Israel. Clinton’s failure was here, at home, and the radical right is about to set things straight.
The terror attacks of 11 September cry out for violent retribution, and if, as Ledeen alleges, “the Clintons” are to blame—through sins of omission, ignorance, or arrogance—then violent retribution must surely be visited upon them and their associates. This is exactly what Ledeen is advocating, and this is the tricky part, because he does not define whom these people were who sneered at security. But his visceral hatred of them is indicative of the violence the reactionary right wing wishes to inflict, through the OHS, on its political opponents—however erroneously represented by Clinton they are—in order to instill “respect” for the illegitimate Bush Administration.
According to Ledeen, Clinton’s sneering lack of respect took “a terrible toll on the system, and Ridge will not find it easy to instill a proper respect for proper secrecy, even in his own offices. It takes quite a while to stamp out corrupt habits of mind and action.”
Ledeen’s solution to the problem of domestic terrorism is “to stamp out” the “corrupt habits of mind” (italics added) that are still lingering around, somewhere. In other words, the reactionary right wing must impose its “proper” ideology through the institution of an official Thought Police, the OHS, in order to create the politically correct, security conscious, uniform American citizenry, marching in lock step, flags waving, that is necessary to win the tough war ahead. It’s a matter of will.
“This is time for the old motto, ‘kill them all, let God sort ‘em out.’ New times require new people with new standards,” Ledeen asserts. “The entire political (italics added) world will understand it and applaud it. And it will give Tom Ridge a chance to succeed, and us to prevail.”
The “new times” means a society in which the organizing principle is terror. The “new people” are those who take internal security seriously enough to impose the “new standards,” which allow military tribunals to order summary executions and torture here in America, when necessary, and mass murder anywhere in the world there are thought to be terrorists, as is happening in Afghanistan right now.
It all depends on whether the reactionary right wing succeeds in terrorizing the American public into submission. As the Bush regime is fond of saying, “You’re either with us, or you’re against us.”
Ledeen is seriously proposing that the Bush Administration conduct a counter-terror campaign against its political opposition in America, through its nascent domestic political police force, the OHS. But this impending attack has yet to begin, and there is still time to prepare for the repression to come. And one very good way of preparing is by putting the current “emergency” situation in an historical context. Doing that is the object of this article, in order to provide the potential dissident (Left, Right, or otherwise) with a better understanding of the challenges he or she will be facing in the future.
While the OHS appeared immediately after the tragic events of 11 September, like a rabbit pulled from a magician’s star-spangled hat, it’s important to understand that it has been at least four years in the making. Based on studies and predictions that a catastrophic terror attack was inevitable, the U.S. Commission on National Security in the 21st Century (co-haired by former Senators Gary Hart and Warren Rudman) had proposed an OHS-type entity in January 2001. But the original concept for a domestic counter-terror, internal security program is much older, and was first designed and formalized 35 years ago by members of the CIA’s Saigon station.
The CIA believed that in order to win the Vietnam War, it had to destroy the political and administrative organization—what it called the Viet Cong Infrastructure (VCI)—that managed the insurgency. The CIA based this belief on the assumption that opposing ideological factions were battling for the loyalty of the complacent Vietnamese masses, and that the VCI were winning the war for the hearts of minds of the masses through the use of armed propaganda and “selective terror,” meaning the cold-blooded murder and mutilation of government officials.
In response, the CIA created its first official counter-terror program in 1964, as CIA Station Chief Peer DeSilva explained it in his autobiography, Sub Rosa, “to bring danger and death” to the VCI who were managing the reign of terror.
DeSilva’s statement is the key to understanding that language, or more precisely “information management,” is the most important weapon in political warfare. This becomes self-evident when one realizes that, by DeSilva’s definition, counter-terrorism is just another word for terrorism. They mean exactly the same thing, except that counter-terrorism is justifiable terrorism because it’s aimed at “them” not “us”.
“Us” in 1964 included our proxy, the Government of Vietnam, and in order to provide the GVN with “internal security,” the CIA, along with the initiation of its counter-terror program, began constructing a gulag archipelago of secret interrogation centers in South Vietnam’s 44 provinces. (These fortresses, which were surrounded by high walls and gun towers, and equipped with “real time” communication systems to CIA central in Saigon, were built by Pacific Architects and Engineers.) Four regional centers also were built, and an existing national interrogation center was modernized in Saigon. The interrogation centers were staffed by South Vietnam’s plainclothes secret policemen, and advised and funded by undercover CIA “liaison” officers.
The Vietnamese secret police, which functioned like the FBI in America, established a nation-wide informant network to identify VCI and their sympathizers. Informants were recruited in every district, village, and hamlet in Vietnam. On the basis of an accusation made by a single anonymous informant, a VCI suspect or sympathizer could be arrested and detained indefinitely under the An Tri (administrative detention) Laws. As is happening everyday in Israel, and has been widely proposed as the only viable means of dealing with the threat of terror in America, suspects and sympathizers were put in an interrogation center and tortured until they confessed, informed, died, or were sent to Stalinist internal security tribunals (like Bush is proposing) for disposition.
Backed by the Pentagon’s overwhelming firepower, the CIA, with its counter-terror and interrogation center programs, was a formidable foe. And yet the Viet Cong insurgents, armed only with sticks and stones, steadily gained popular support; and by 1966, the CIA’s brain trust had concluded that the problem was organizational, not conceptual. The perceived problem was that the gritty “covert action” officers, who advised the paramilitary counter-terror teams, were not properly sharing intelligence with the CIA’s refined “liaison” officers, who advised the secret police at the torture centers. Nor was there any way of coordinating intelligence among any of the other, 25 some-odd entities—including the U.S. army, navy and air force—that were involved in every aspect of the war in South Vietnam.
The solution concocted by the organizational geniuses in the CIA’s Saigon station was ICEX—the Intelligence Coordination and Exploitation Program. Created in June 1967, ICEX was directed by senior CIA officer Evan J. Parker. A veteran of OSS Detachment 101, Parker had served in Burma in the Second World War, and after joining the CIA, served his first tour in Vietnam in 1950, working closely with France’s leading expert in counter-insurgency and opium smuggling, Colonel Roger Trinquier. Parker managed a staff of CIA and military officers in Saigon. As part of a support program authorized by President Lyndon Johnson, Parker, with CIA station chief Lou Lapham, also supervised 44 CIA contract officers—one for each province—who were assigned as ICEX field officers. ICEX was soon renamed the sexier-sounding Phoenix Program, and the 44 Phoenix advisors began coordinating the Counter-Terror and Interrogation Center Programs, as well as all other intelligence, security, and counter-insurgency programs in their provinces. Phoenix centers were eventually established in almost every district in South Vietnam, and from the district offices, secret policemen and counter-terror teams conducted operations in almost every village and hamlet.
Phoenix Director Evan Parker was the overall coordinator in Saigon, just as Tom Ridge is the overall OHS coordinator in Washington. Like Phoenix, the OHS will likely establish field offices in the 50 states, and all of America’s major cities.
In order to achieve its elusive goal of “internal security,” the OHS, like Phoenix, will need to extend its informant net into every American town. Inevitably, every town will probably be required to form an OHS Committee, which, like the traditional Zoning and Education committees, will be composed of average citizens. The chair of the OHS Committee, however, will be selected for his or her “loyalty” and ability to process “confidential” reports sent by concerned citizens (informants) about the activities of the Bush Administration’s political opponents. Perhaps once every week these reports will be forwarded to the OHS committee at the county level. The county committee will review the reports and send the most urgent ones to the state committee. At each level, OHS Committees are more likely to be staffed by avid Bush supporters. In other words, the reports will pass through an ideological filter. The prime suspects identified at Ridge’s national OHS headquarters will not be flag wavers, but peace activists, feminists, environmentalists, people opposing globalization, liberals and Leftists—in short, anyone posing a political challenge to the reactionary right wing and the internal security forces that are firmly in its grip.
What makes such a system especially dangerous is that Attorney General John Ashcroft has vowed to “arrest and detain any suspected terrorist who has violated the law,” and has promised “airtight surveillance” of them—but he has yet to define what a suspected terrorist is. This is what happened in Vietnam too. There was never any consensus about the definition of a VCI sympathizer: at best, it was tacitly understood by the ideologues, and the security forces under their control, that a person was either “for us or against us.” Moreover, as the CIA’s internal security gurus espoused, it wasn’t enough just to be for us, passively: one had to be actively against them.
So the definition of a terrorist suspect is deliberately left open, paving the way for political repression. The anti-terror legislation passed by Congress and signed by Bush allows for secret searches of the homes of people who meet the nebulous criteria of “suspected terrorist.” No doubt these secret searches violate the Fourth Amendment, so Ashcroft, again lifting a page from the Phoenix playbook, has vowed to “employ new tools that ease administrative burdens.” Already around 1,000 terrorist suspects have been arrested and detained indefinitely under these new administrative procedures.
In Vietnam, “administrative detention” was the legal nail on which the Phoenix Program hung. Under the An Tri administrative detention laws, supporting the VCI was a crime of status. It was exactly like being a Palestinian in Israel today: one is guilty of who one is, not what one does. Indeed, administrative detention was prescribed only in cases where there wasn’t sufficient evidence to convict a person for a crime. One didn’t have to carry a weapon or shelter a VCI suspect. One’s thoughts were reason enough for the secret police to make a midnight arrest, no warrant required, or for the counter-terror teams to conduct an assassination. Simply advocating peace was punishable by indefinite detention, and due process was totally non-existent. There was no right to an attorney, no right to confront one’s accusers, no justice at all. Thus the system was a boondoggle for corrupt officials, especially those who sat on the internal security councils that disposed of suspects. As legendary CIA officer Lou Conein said, “Phoenix was a great blackmail scheme for the Government of Vietnam. ‘Do what I say, or you’re VC.’”
Anyone who expects anything different from the OHS is living in a dream world.
Four years after the Phoenix Program was initiated, on 15 July 1971, the New York Times revealed that 26,843 non-military Vietcong insurgents and sympathizers had been “neutralized” in the previous 14-month period. During Congressman Hearings that were being held at the time, Representative Ogden Reid (D-NY) asked William Colby, the CIA officer in overall charge of the Phoenix Program, “Are you certain that we know a loyal member of the VCI from a loyal member of the South Vietnamese citizenry?”
Colby said, “No.”
But the Nixon Administration, under the guidance of National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger, was prepared to defend its pet project, and when Congressman Paul McCloskey (R-CA) claimed that Phoenix violated that part of the Geneva Conventions guaranteeing protection to civilians in time of war, CIA legal experts argued that Article 3 applied “only to sentencing for crimes, and does not prohibit a state from interning civilians or subjecting them to emergency detention when such measures are necessary for the security or safety of the state.” Using the most advanced Orwellian terminology, they claimed that torture, summary execution, and indefinite detention, all carried out without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court, were perfectly legal, precisely because they were the result of “administrative procedures” and did not involve a “criminal sentence.”
As noted, double-speak is at the very crux of the current counter-terror campaign in America, and it was through the Phoenix “internal security” Program that the CIA refined psychological warfare (psywar) into the political art form it is today. Because no one wanted to have his name on a Phoenix blacklist, or his face on a Phoenix Wanted Poster, and because fear of upsetting a Phoenix official was the most effective means of creating informers and defectors, the CIA launched an intensive publicity campaign called the Popular Information Program. Under the banner of “Protecting People from Terrorism,” Phoenix psywar teams crisscrossed the countryside, using CIA-supplied radios, leaflets, posters, TV shows, movies, banners, and loudspeakers mounted on trucks and sampans to spread the word.
The goal was to convince the public that only traitors didn’t support the government, and that its security forces were ubiquitous, like God; and thus a typical broadcast would say, “You know who you are, John Smith. We know where you live! We know you are a traitor and a lackey of the terrorists. Soon the soldiers and police will come to get you. Rally now, John Smith, before it’s too late!”
The Phoenix Directorate also produced a movie explaining how Phoenix “Helps Protect People From Terrorism,” and hundreds of thousands of cartoon books were distributed to the same end. As is happening in Afghanistan, where propaganda leaflets describe the Taliban as anti-Islamic, Phoenix leaflets portrayed Communism as a socially destructive force that violated traditional Confucian beliefs.
Last but not least, in keeping with the dictum that it wasn’t enough to passively support the government, that one had to actively seek out the enemy in order to prove one’s loyalty, the Phoenix Directorate taught village chiefs how to conduct classes on the spiritual value of government internal security programs.
One can expect exactly the same avalanche of propaganda, only in far more sophisticated form, from Tom Ridge and any OHS committees that are established across America. Think of it as a DARE Program, hinging on some vague definition of a suspected terrorist, but aimed at everyone, not just children.
The similarities between the Phoenix Program and the OHS are obvious, and with its computerized database of terrorist suspects, Phoenix is certainly the organizational model for an OHS-style counter-terror program based on “intelligence coordination and exploitation.”
But as everyone is aware, the threat of radical Islamic terrorism is not comparable to the insurgency in Vietnam. In that case America rushed to defend a hapless ally, thousands of miles away, much as we did in Kuwait. In the present situation, the OHS has been created to defend us from terrorists on our own turf. Its counter-terror function is equivalent to that of providing internal security, in so far as the Bush Administration defines “internal security” in political terms.
Historically, and ironically, the U.S. Government considered Native Americans as our homeland’s first domestic terrorists, and various methods were devised to deal with the threat, such as the distribution of blankets infected with smallpox.
Abolitionists, whether peaceful or violent like John Brown, also were regarded as terrorists, and for decades the reactionary right wing of American civilization, and its unreconstructed representatives in the government (many of whom still hold office), regarded the Ku Klux Klan as a legitimate means of countering the terror of Emancipation. Indeed, until today, the reactionary right wing still considers a “genuine” American to be an active proponent of this ideology, with its repulsive mix of racial purity, patriotism, and Christian fundamentalism, with its divine savior nailed to the cross, a symbol of the spiritual terror that enabled our Founding Fathers to rationalize slavery in the land of free and the home of brave.
Segregation persisted as unstated policy, and by the late 19th Century, organized labor had emerged as our homeland’s new breed of domestic political terrorists; and after private police forces proved ineffective in eliminating the unions, the U.S. Government created the FBI to nullify the threat labor posed to its Robber Baron patrons. The FBI quickly established that foreigners (mostly Jews, Bolsheviks and immigrants with no rightful claim to America as their “homeland”) were controlling the labor movement. Over the years Communists replaced Bolshevists, and eventually Civil Rights and Anti-War activists were added to the hit list of domestic terrorists—all of which brings us the FBI’s notorious Counter-Intelligence Program.
Created in the late 1950s, COINTELPRO was designed to neutralize “radical” political movements inside the U.S. In its attempt to provide decent Americans with “internal security,” the FBI employed agent provocateurs, conducted burglaries, engaged in black propaganda (disinformation), fraud, and perhaps in the case of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and several other black leaders, outright assassination.
But COINTELPRO failed to neutralize America’s Anti-War and Civil Rights insurgency, and by 1967, President Johnson and the FBI were sensing the presence of foreign intelligence agencies. And the mere fear that the KGB was directing the Anti-War and Civil Rights movements provided the FBI with the pretext to enlist the CIA in domestic intelligence operations. The precipitating event was a February 1967 expose in Ramparts magazine, which revealed that the CIA had suborned the leadership of the National Student Association. The exposure of this illegal CIA domestic activity prompted even moderate students to join and support radical, alternative organizations like the Students for a Democratic Society. The Anti-War movement blossomed like never before.
The Ramparts revelation, and the resulting surge in anti-establishment activities, was deemed to be a Soviet provocation, and confirmed the FBI’s suspicions that foreign agitators were fueling the Anti-War and Civil Rights movements, so Johnson ordered the CIA to investigate Robert Scheer, the author of the Ramparts article. Director of Central Intelligence Richard Helms gave the job to veteran CIA officer Richard Ober, a Harvard graduate (1943), World War II veteran, and member of the CIA’s counter-intelligence staff. And thus came Operation Chaos—which, with its counterpart organizations in the Justice Department and White House, enabled the CIA and political ideologues to get involved in “internal security” operations such as will be conducted by the OHS.
Ober’s Counter-Intelligence, Special Operations Group (CI/SOG), code named MHCHAOS, was created in August 1967, concurrent with the Phoenix Program (and for a similar purpose), and existed until March 1974. Its initial mission, ostensibly on behalf of the FBI, was to collect intelligence information on radical domestic political groups, to discover if they were being manipulated by foreign intelligence agencies.
To coordinate Chaos and COINTELPRO operations, Johnson’s attorney general, Ramsay Clark, created the Interdepartmental Intelligence Unit (IDIU) within the Justice Department’s Internal Security Division. Ober became the CIA’s representative on the IDIU, which (like the OHS) was managed by senior members from the White House staff. In other words, from its inception, CIA intelligence information on dissidents was reported to people whose primary interest was in politics, not internal security.
Upon assuming office in January 1969, President Nixon immediately grasped the partisan political potential of the IDIU, which he moved under the Civil Rights Division. In June 1969, through his advisor on Domestic Affairs, John Dean—and Dean’s youthful assistant, Tom Huston—Nixon directed Ober to engage Chaos in covert actions against dissidents. Ober was assigned a deputy and a case officer whose names remain secret until today. The deputy and the case officer moved into Ober’s suite of offices in a vault in the basement at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. Among the rooms was a library where files were kept and where slides of suspects and potential recruits were viewed. Several female CIA officers managed the precious, super secret Chaos files.
Central to Chaos was its super-secrecy. Assignment to CI/SOG was considered a “command performance,” and security was commensurate with the responsibility. Ober, at the direction of his immediate supervisor, Counter-Intelligence Chief James Angleton, devised a communications system exclusively for Chaos cables and couriers to overseas stations. These “back-channels” by-passed the geographical division chiefs and reached right into the stations, to trusted counter-intelligence officers. In some cases Chaos by-passed the station chiefs, and corresponded directly with its unilateral assets and representatives in a country. Chaos “traffic” carried the highest security classification, was restricted only to those involved in the operation (as were Chaos files), and was inaccessible even to the CIA’s top administrators, often for their own protection.
Based on names provided by the FBI (and the CIA’s Offices of Security, Domestic Contacts, Foreign Resources, and Domestic Operations) the Chaos case officer in October 1969 began recruiting double agents from within the Black Power and Anti-War movements. The case officer approached only those people with “radical” credentials. Only those who proved trustworthy (some were polygraphed, others given psychological assessments) were recruited. Recruits were given a training course in the clandestine arts, supplied with the proper technical equipment and sufficient funds, sheep-dipped (meaning their records were falsified), and then sent overseas. The case officer referred to his 40-50 double agents as “dangles,” because their job was to operate as a dissident normally would, and hope that a foreign intelligence agent would make an approach.
With the approval of Nixon’s National Security Advisor, Henry Kissinger, the Pentagon joined in the counter-terror effort through a secret committee formed under the aforementioned Tom Huston, and began leveling requirements on the Chaos unit. The Pentagon was intent on tracking deserters, and gathering information on foreign nationals who were attempting to persuade American soldiers to desert from military bases in Germany. Chaos dangles were sent to North Vietnam, North Africa and Cuba, and one Chaos agent, possibly Timothy Leary, was launched against Eldridge Cleaver in Algeria.
Here it is important to remember that Bush has granted the CIA unprecedented freedom to coordinate with law enforcement and military officials, through the OHS. Previous restrictions on CIA domestic operations have been waived. As Bob Woodward reported in the 21 October Washington Post, CIA covert action is now a key element in defending America from terrorist attacks. Every day the CIA provides the Bush Administration’s top national security and intelligence officials—including OHS Director Tom Ridge—with current intelligence on possible bombings, hijackings or poisonings within the U.S. But other than the anthrax outbreak, which appears to be the work of the radical right, none of the threats has materialized, and there is no way of knowing if, as the CIA is wont to do, the anthrax outbreak has been manufactured for purely political and psychological warfare reasons.
It also is likely that the CIA, on behalf of the OHS, will start sprinkling Chaos-type dangles overseas, and within the United States, to tempt terrorists into exposing themselves. It is a chilling prospect, but these dangles may exist only on paper, with the sole purpose of contriving reasons to launch counter-terror operations against opponents of Bush Administration policy. Hundreds of businesses and institutions across the country have already been placed on the CIA’s watch list. According to Woodward, one Bush official said that merely being on the list “could destroy the livelihood of all those organizations without a bomb being thrown or a spore of anthrax being released.”
Loss of livelihood is perhaps the heaviest psychological hammer a security agency can hold over a middle class American’s head. But that’s what it’s come down to.
Incidental to their role as dangles designed to entrap foreign agents, Chaos agents reported on U.S. citizens. A folder, or hard file, was created for each suspected dissident the CIA targeted. The folder contained the dissident’s 201 “personality” file, as well as Situation Reports about his or her radical activities. The 201 file included every scrap of biographical information about the person, from arrest records to report cards to surreptitious photos taken of the person with other suspects. Some 7-10,000 hard files were eventually assembled.
In May 1970, Chaos chief Richard Ober starting entering the information from his index cards and hard files onto IBM cards, and compiling them in a data base codenamed HYDRA, which ultimately contained the names of some 300,000 people. HYDRA was developed at the same time as the Phoenix computer system in Vietnam. A mail intercept program codenamed HTLINGUAL also was part of the Chaos operation.
Thirty years later, far more sophisticated databases exist in the United States, and so much information is already available on every American citizen, that a computerized, national ID card system isn’t required to keep track of everyone. But the on-going anthrax scare, which may be a CIA provocation, could serve as the pretext to institute, under the OHS, a mail intercept program similar to HTLINGUAL. And OHS Director Tom Ridge already has a deputy, “cyber security expert” Richard Clarke, to monitor and ultimately censor all politically incorrect Internet information.
As is well known, the paranoid Nixon Administration—whose ideology is compatible with Bush’s—was ruthless in the application of its executive authority to attack its domestic political “enemies” under the aegis of national security. To this end, the Nixon Administration formed the IDIU’s secret Intelligence Evaluation Committee in December 1970 under Robert Mardian, the assistant attorney general in charge of Internal Security. Mardian reported directly to Nixon’s attorney general, John Mitchell. A major player in Nixon’s illegal political and fundraising schemes, Mitchell was sentenced for his Watergate crimes in February 1975.
Bush’s right wing attorney general, John Ashcroft, will be a major player at OHS, and can be expected to play the same partisan political role for Bush as Mitchell played for Nixon. Indeed, it is evident from the records of the 1975 Report by the President’s Commission on CIA Activities Within the United States that Chaos agents, at the behest of White House officials, operated domestically, illegally, and that Chaos operations were directed against non-violent dissidents, including Daniel Ellsberg, the Berrigan Brothers, Tom Hayden, and others. Many of these activists had important political connections, and by association, Left politicians came under Chaos scrutiny. The coverage was vast, and in order to advance policies he wished to keep secret from the secretaries of State and Defense, Kissinger kept close track of the most critical Chaos operations, especially agent operations that might impact his secret peace negotiations with the North Vietnamese.
One of Chaos’ most important agents played a critical though undisclosed role at the May 1971 anti-war demonstrations in Washington. DC. And at least one Chaos agent may have been involved in the Watergate scandal that brought down Nixon.
Yes, by 1971 Ober and the Chaos unit were working for Nixon’s secret team of political dirty tricksters, the infamous Plumbers. Master Plumber G. Gordon Liddy, a deranged former FBI agent with a penchant for eating live rats, actually leveled requirements on Ober at the Intelligence Evaluation Committee. Before Liddy and his partner in crime, CIA officer E. Howard Hunt, were imprisoned for burglarizing the office of Ellsberg’s psychiatrist, they directed Ober to spy on members of other government agencies, as well as on Nixon’s political and bureaucratic “enemies”.
Ober, who died earlier this year, is thought to have reacted negatively to this ultimate violation of the Constitution, and at least one researcher has suggested that he may have been Woodward’s Deep Throat. But there’s never any guarantee that any CIA officer will ever break ranks, and the threat of Nixon-style abuses loom large under the OHS and the illegitimate Bush Administration, with its fascist ideology and unprecedented, dictatorial emergency powers.
Incredible power was concentrated in the Chaos office. Ober was the CIA’s liaison to the National Commission on Civil Disorders and to the Ginsburg Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence. He was the CIA’s liaison to the protean Law Enforcement Assistance Administration, and to the Special Services units (Red Squads) of America’s major metropolitan police departments. He reported directly to DCI Richard Helms (later convicted of lying to Congress about the CIA’s major role in the violent coup that toppled the elected government of Chile, and resulted in the torture and murder of thousands of Leftists), and he sat on the Huston Committee, which was chaired by FBI Counter Intelligence chief William C. Sullivan (assassinated in 1977).
However, by mid-1972, CIA Executive Director William E. Colby was concerned that revelations of illegal CIA domestic political activities, on behalf of the Nixon Administration, might destroy the Agency. The big problem was Ober’s association with rat-eater Liddy and his partner in crime, CIA officer Howard Hunt, and it is probably not a coincidence that the Chaos “case officer” was reassigned concurrently with the 17 June 1972 arrest of the five Watergate buggers. The IDIU was dissolved six months later.
By September 1973, Colby was the new Director of Central Intelligence, and had prepared a list of the CIA’s “family jewels,” an array of illegal domestic activities—now legal under the Bush Administration—which Colby felt should be revealed. The abuses included spying on politicians and government agencies, helping other agencies conduct domestic surveillance, and following U.S. citizens abroad. Colby blamed counter-intelligence chief James Angleton for the public relations disaster, and forced his retirement, amid much bitterness and rancor.
But Colby’s “limited hangout” and scapegoating of Angleton were part of a clever shell game, and the Chaos staff continued to conduct name traces, and follow dissidents abroad, and respond to FBI and military requirements. Everything was exactly the same as before, including the ultra-secure communications system and restricted filing system, except now it was acceptable because it was done under the aegis of counter-terrorism.
Colby started the ball rolling in July 1972, when he assigned Ober a second job as Chief of the CIA’s newly created International Terrorism Group (ITG). Ober told the Rockefeller Commission that his new responsibility was “setting up and running a central program” within the CIA of information on international terrorism and hijackings, and very possibly the penetration of terrorist training camps in Algeria, Cuba and other enemy states. The ITG also kept track of homeland-based black militants and white racists with international terror connections. ITG reports were, like Chaos reports, sent to Kissinger at the National Security Council.
Ober’s appointment as chief of ITG coincided with the establishment of Nixon’s Cabinet Committee to Combat Terrorism, the first U.S. Government entity of its kind. But even after the official termination of Chaos in March 1974, the ITG continued to exist in the same suite of offices in the same vault in the CIA’s basement.
In March 1974 Ober was assigned other duties and a new ITG chief (not named in the Rockefeller Commission Report) was assigned. The second ITG chief (perhaps Lawrence K. White), had no deputy or case officer, and was assisted by approximately ten female file clerks in what is described as basically an “analytical” capacity. But ITG operations still relied on the Chaos folders and computer tapes, which were maintained and updated. As of 1975, despite the recommendations of several Congressional Committees, no Chaos files had been destroyed, because the CIA could not adequately define a “dissident.”
Senior CIA officer John Ryan became the third ITG chief in April 1975 and served until 1977, when he was replaced by veteran CIA officer Howard Bane.
While Chaos was evolving into the CIA’s International Terrorism Group, the Phoenix Program—which did not expire with South Vietnam in April 1975—was being employed as the model for a worldwide anti-terrorism unit in the CIA’s paramilitary Special Operations Division (SOD). Its main proponents, all veterans of the Phoenix Program, had climbed the corporate ladder and were in positions to turn their monster loose on all mankind.
Colby, the “father” of Phoenix and its staunchest defender before Congressional Hearings in 1970 and 1971, appointed his close friend, Evan Parker (the first Phoenix Director) as chief of the SOD in 1973. Parker awarded CIA officer Robert Wall (self-described as the “grandfather” of Phoenix, for his pioneering work on a pilot program in 1966) the first “terrorism account,” and then began reorganizing the SOD to fight Communist insurgencies, using the Phoenix anti-terrorism model.
The CIA’s resident counter-terrorists found willing allies, invariably fascist military dictators, around the world, and gladly taught them how to terrorize entire nations into submission, through the arcane art of political and psychological warfare. Perhaps the CIA’s greatest success, in this regard, was achieved in the midst of the Watergate scandal, under the supervision of Kissinger, Colby, and the CIA’s Western Hemisphere Division chief, Theodore Shackley.
Donald Freed in Death in Washington: The Murder of Orlando Letelier (p 83-84) describes the CIA’s covert action that resulted in the bloody right-wing military coup in Chile September 1973. Devised by the CIA’s resident “black propaganda” expert, David Atlee Phillips, the plan used “classic depth psychology and behavior modification techniques to program individual Chileans toward a destiny of victims or executioners. The CIA aim was to “serialize” and atomize the Chilean people by using psychological terror to fractionate what had been growing popular unity behind (Allende’s) government.” Freed explains that, “Under the CIA program the middle classes had to be organized to ’save freedom,’ the military to impose temporary controls, the workers to give up their drive for power.”
The centerpiece of the CIA’s Track II plan to overthrow the elected government of Chile, by terrorizing the middle class through incredible acts of violence, was the widespread publication of pictures of a man who was allegedly “quartered” by radical leftists—but who in fact was mutilated by the CIA’s proxies in the Chilean secret service, DINA.
This ability to commit the most horrific acts of terror, and successfully blame them on its enemies through black propaganda, is what makes the CIA’s inclusion in the OHS so dangerous. This one-two punch, in conjunction with the CIA’s expertise at “provoked responses” and “false flag recruitments,” also makes the CIA itself a prime suspect in the terror attacks of 11 September, and the current propaganda campaign being waged in America now, as a pretext to threaten terror against the Bush Administration’s domestic political opponents, as well as to win support from the terrified middle class for the illegitimate Bush regime.
As noted earlier, terrorism and counter-terrorism are the same thing, and as Michael McClintock notes in Instruments of Statecraft: U.S. Guerilla Warfare, Counterinsurgency, and Counterterrorism, 1940-1990, CIA instructors in the early 1970s “trained students in making criminal terrorist devices and in assassination methods.” A four-week course took place at the Border Patrol Academy in Los Fresnos, Texas, where students were given courses in terrorist concepts, fabrication of terrorist devices, and assassination weapons. As McClintock notes, the Los Fresnos “Bomb School” officials offered courses “not in bomb disposal but in bomb making.”
It is critically important to understand that members of the CIA’s paramilitary Special Operations Division are the people who provide this instruction, and that they themselves are the world’s leading experts in the various tools of the terror trade.
The abolition of the Bomb School in 1974, however, did not deter the CIA’s terror experts, and they devised other methods of training foreign secret policemen and paramilitaries to terrorize communist insurgents. Much of the training took place at the School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Georgia, or was conducted by the SOD’s stable of counter-terrorists, working undercover as private consultants.
Nor did the CIA’s unilateral terror operations cease with Nixon’s resignation, in utter disgrace, in August 1974, nor did it abate with the ascension of America’s first “unpresident” Gerald Ford. Not even a series of Congressional investigations into CIA abuses, starting in 1974 and continuing through 1977, could keep the CIA from making its appointed rounds. And it’s no coincidence that the current President’s father, in one brief year, oversaw one of the CIA’s most horrendous terror campaigns.
CIA terror activities flourished from January 1976 until January 1977 under DCI George H. W. Bush, with much of the terror taking place in Latin America, through a network of proxy foreign intelligence services united under Operation Condor (the CIA’s version of Phoenix in South America) and operating closely with several CIA-supported anti-Castro Cuban terrorist groups, including CNM (Cuban Nationalist Movement), CORU (Coordination of United Revolutionary Organizations) and Omega Seven. Two Cuban terrorists with direct ties to the CIA, Luis Posada Carriles and Dr. Orlando Bosch, blew a Cuban plane out of the sky in October 1976, killing 73 people. But the CIA never pursued either man, and neither was ever convicted of the crime. On the contrary, the CIA protected them, because both were involved, through DCI Bush, his Assistant Deputy Director of Operations, Ted Shackley, and the Chilean secret service, DINA, in the 21 September 1976 assassination of Chilean diplomat Orlando Letelier in downtown Washington, D.C. As in most other terror incidents committed by the CIA’s assets while Bush was DCI, that crime too has gone unpunished.
The ITG continued to exist under DCI Bush, but only in an analytical capacity, and Bush’s anti-terrorism expert, Ted Shackley, managed actual counter-terror operations out of his hip pocket. Having managed the CIA’s counter-terror and interrogation center programs in Vietnam, as chief of station from 1969 through 1971, Shackley was well qualified for the anti-terrorism job. He was aware of where the effort needed to be directed, and terrorist training camps in Libya, Angola, and Iran ranked high on his list of targets, along with established terrorist organizations in Europe, Asia, and Latin America.
But Shackley and Bush were painfully aware that Gerald Ford was considered illegitimate by the American public, and was destined to lose the 1976 elections to whatever candidate the Democrats threw at the Republicans. And so in mid-1976 they began contracting the important work to mercenaries and SOD operators who voluntarily retired or resigned. It was arranged for these contractors to obtain employment in a few select foreign intelligence services, and several proprietary oil equipment, shipping and computer consulting companies established by veteran CIA agent, and notorious “rogue elephant,” Edwin P. Wilson. Having resigned from the CIA in 1971 to pursue million dollar business ventures in several terrorist-infected nations around the world, and having been fired from the Office of Naval Intelligence’s super secret Task Force 157 in April 1976, Wilson was the perfect deniable “deep cover” agent.
Thus in mid-1976, at the direction of DCI Bush and ADDO Shackley, the secret government’s counter-terror apparatus, manifest as a private enterprise owned and operated by “Death Merchant” Wilson and his unsavory associates (including Shackley himself, CIA officer Tom Clines, Hussem Salem, and perhaps, as a silent partner, Air Force General Richard Secord, in EATSCO—the Egyptian American Transport and Services Company), began its slow and steady descent off the CIA’s organizational chart.
As a result of this shell game, little changed when President Jimmy Carter named Admiral Stansfield Turner as his Director of Central Intelligence. In response to negative publicity about the CIA’s reign of terror under Bush, and his right wing predecessors, and in response to Carter’s policy of stressing “Human Rights” over covert action, Turner drastically reduced the SOD in size, firing 600 employees in what became known as the Halloween Massacre of October 1977. Turner also scraped Air America, the CIA’s private air force, and named James Glerum, a former executive with Air America, as Evan Parker’s replacement as head of the SOD.
But Turner’s purge merely earned Carter the same degree of hatred the national security elite naturally felt toward Clinton, and thanks to the off-the-shelf “Enterprise” established by Bush and Shackley, the purge failed to curb CIA abuses. Holding their hatred close to their hearts, those CIA terror experts still on the payroll burrowed deep within the labyrinth at Langley headquarters, and began courting their right wing supporters in the media, academia, private enterprise, and the Republican Party. To assure Carter’s defeat in the 1980 elections, they instructed their domestic assets in the intricacies of political warfare—Phoenix-related skills such as population control through psychological warfare, discrediting and compromising one’s political enemies through covert actions, the development of political cadre within the officer corps, the placement of indoctrinated military officers in control of civilian security forces like the OHS, and, of course, selective terror and assassination.
Psychological operations were especially important in the covert political war being waged by the right wing during the Carter Administration. In the shadows of this propaganda war for the hearts and minds of the American public, the CIA’s privateers mounted covert actions below the radar of top Carter Administration officials. They forged secret alliances with proxy nations, such as Israel and Taiwan, which taught Latin American landowners how to organize criminals into vigilante death squads, which then murdered and terrorized labor leaders, Human Rights activists, and all other enemies of the various oligarchies, including our own. To compensate for the reduction in size of the SOD and the loss of the CIA’s air force, the military branches began beefing up their own terror capabilities. The Army assembled Delta Force, the Air Force formed its own special operations unit, and the Navy organized SEAL Team Six.
In these ways the national security elite was able to subvert Carter’s Human Rights policy, just as they were able to characterize Clinton as immoral and unpatriotic, and establish the basis of public mistrust that would enable them to drive Carter from office through a disingenuous political and psychological warfare campaign in 1980.
This is an historical overview, and in order to fully inform potential dissidents and subjects of homeland insecurity, it is necessary to pause and go back in time, briefly.
By late 1977, when Howard Bane was assigned as chief of the CIA’s new Office of Terrorism, the threat of international terrorism had captured the imagination of the world. Terror incidents had been increasing since the 1967 Six-Day War, when the Israeli Army, anticipating an attack by its neighbors, occupied vast tracks of Palestinian territory. (The Six-Day War, notably, occurred simultaneously with the birth of Phoenix and Chaos.) In response to the Israeli land grab, Wadi Haddad formed the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, an affiliate of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (which itself was formed in 1964).
Popular Front terrorists staged the world’s first major terrorist act in 1968, hijacking an El Al 707 passenger aircraft en route from Rome to Tel Aviv, and forcing it to land in Algiers. After a month of negotiations the passengers were released unharmed. But no land was returned to the Palestinians and instead, the Israelis started bombing Palestinian terrorist training camps in Jordan. The cycle of violence escalated and on 6 September 1970, in an event that hauntingly resembled that of 11 September, Haddad ordered the simultaneous hijacking of four airliners bound for New York.
In February 1972 a Popular Front team hijacked a Lufthansa airliner with 172 passengers, including Joseph Kennedy, son of the late Robert Kennedy. Again there were negotiations, and a ransom was paid, and Kennedy and the other hostages were released. But the policy of negotiating with terrorists began to lose its appeal after Palestinian terrorists seized a group of Israeli athletes and their coaches at the Munich Olympics. The situation ended with a gun battle in which nine Israeli athletes and five terrorists were killed.
Meanwhile, more and more dissident groups began to adopt terror as a method of waging political war. Chief among them were the PLO’s Black September, Germany’s Baader-Meinhof gang, France’s Action-Direct, and Italy’s Red Brigade. Carlos the Jackal became a famous terrorist for hire and held OPEC hostage in 1976. By 1977 the notion of state-sponsored terrorism had also emerged, and was attributed to Libya and Iraq, both of which were said to have Soviet backing.
As a result, DCI Turner directed Howard Bane to organize the CIA against the new threat of terrorism. But according to Bane, counter-terrorism was a “hot potato” and a “low priority,” and because of the seemingly endless Congressional investigations into CIA abuses, Turner was “hung up” on the definition of terror. He was insisting that CIA officers refer to counter-insurgency as “low intensity warfare,” and in his effort to polish up the CIA’s image, Turner renamed the ITG the Office of Terrorism.
Again, it was just a shell game, and the Bush-Shackley Enterprise continued to operate off the reservation.
In the meantime, Bane moved into the Chaos office in Langley’s basement, in the room behind the vault door. An avid proponent of covert action, he’d served as chief of the North Africa Division, and as chief of station at The Hague prior to his return to headquarters in late 1977. He was nearing the end of his career, and was expecting to be named head of a division, and he approached his new assignment with all the energy of a man seeking to enshrine his legacy.
As Bane describes it, the Chaos office was a windowless room as large as the ground floor of a house, divided into cubicles. Ten to twelve little old ladies running around in tennis shoes, all the operations were compartmentalized, and there was a “vault mentality.” Little was happening. The acting chief was the ITG operations officer, and his job was mainly following U.S. citizens overseas.
So Bane summoned everyone to a staff meeting and said, “Let’s advertise ourselves to divisions.” He set up a reference system to service each of the divisions, and each little old lady became an expert in regard to a particular geographical area. Next Bane started meeting with his counterparts at State, Treasury, the FBI, the Pentagon, the White House and the National Security Agency. As the Office of Terrorism began to serve a visible function, Bane was able to move it from the basement vault to a fourth floor suite with windows. The office received new computers, and the old girls started entering profiles of the world’s new terrorists into it. Bane was awarded an operations officer, and recruited several disgruntled CIA officers, who began to replace the women as his liaison officers to the divisions. And he began working closely with SOD chief Jim Glerum to beef up the operational forces at his command.
Delta Force had been created by U.S. Army colonel Charles Beckwith in response to the numerous, well-publicized terrorist incidents that occurred in the 1970s. Delta, and later the Navy’s elite counter-terrorist unit, SEAL Team Six, were to serve as the CIA’s front line forces in the nascent war against terror. Within the context of the new strategy of low intensity warfare, the Office of Terrorism and the anti-terror experts in the CIA’s SOD and Delta Force had adopted a new lexicon, in which anti-terrorism was the term for broad policy, and counter-terrorism was used in regard to specific, immediate actions.
Bane sought and acquired a bigger budget, and started improving and developing the government’s formal technological counter-terror capabilities — things like silenced weapons and covert eavesdropping equipment for use in hostage rescues. Bane also worked to obtain a fleet of black helicopters for use by counter-terror units. His own original contribution was a Crisis Management Training Program team, composed of a psychiatrist and a few case officers, which advised U.S. and foreign law enforcement officers on how to negotiate with, and outwit, terrorists.
After all this, Bane set up a two-man intelligence unit at Delta headquarters at Fort Bragg, and hooked them up to his office computer. At this point Delta became a “customer” of CIA intelligence. Bane’s Office of Terrorism also sent daily reports, which profiled known terrorists and their activities, to the Defense Intelligence Agency and the FBI. Very quietly his unit began to coordinate actual counter-terror operations. “Say someone in Frankfurt had access to the Red Army,” Bane explains. “Then Delta would send a team.”
Bane’s Office of Terrorism handled each incident on a case-by-case basis, depending on whether or not it was defined as “international terrorism,” meaning the terrorists crossed borders or had foreign support, or “domestic terrorism,” in which case the terrorists were operating within their own country. If the incident related to domestic terrorism, the CIA’s Office of Terrorism could not get involved, unless specifically authorized through a presidential executive order called a “finding.”
The need for a “finding” was a nagging bureaucratic stumbling block, and as an example, Bane cites the time Colombia’s M19 terror group took 20 foreign diplomats, including the American ambassador, hostage at a party at the Dominican Embassy. Thinking the trans-national nature of the incident qualified it as “international terror,” Bane, with the approval of the State Department’s terrorism unit, launched a Delta operation in conjunction with the CIA’s new SOD chief, Rudy Enders. Bane provided intelligence on the terrorists while Enders and his assistant, Burr Smith, provided Delta with the equipment it needed to stage a rescue operation. Meanwhile the Crisis Management Team assembled in Florida, and prepared to jump into Colombia.
But the operation came to a screeching halt when the CIA’s Assistant Deputy Director of Operations, John Stein, was forced to reveal the operation to Turner’s Deputy Director of Operations, John McMahon.
As Bane recalls, McMahon asked him, “Are you trying to send us all to jail?” McMahon then put the operation on hold until Carter issued a finding. Bane was forced to call his officers back to Langley, where they waited while “the lawyers” met with members of Carter’s National Security Council staff. Only after the lawyers gave their approval did Carter issue the required “finding.”
In another situation Bane was not allowed to help mount a covert action to rescue Italy’s Prime Minister Aldo Moro, because Moro’s Red Brigade captors were Italian nationals, and were deemed to be operating domestically.
“Colby,” Bane sighs, “felt that covert action should be equated with intelligence. He said it was better than sending in Marines.”
The take-over of the American Embassy in Tehran on 4 November 1979 propelled Howard Bane and the Office on Terrorism into the limelight. Twenty-one years later, the CIA is still reeling from the event, which saw all its files fall into enemy hands, and every one of its agent networks exposed throughout the region. This seminal event, which had an impact on the American public not unlike that of 11 September, marked the beginning of the propaganda war between the Great Satan and the Islamic fundamentalists, at the time represented by Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini, and allowed Ronald Reagan to crush Jimmy Carter in the 1980 presidential election.
In the wake of the Embassy take-over, President Carter ordered Howard Bane to work with General “Shy” Meyer, Colonel Charlie Beckwith, and Delta Force, to come up with a plan to rescue the 53 hostages. As Bane notes, the plan was based on a covert action to obtain current intelligence on the status of the hostages, including several top CIA officers. Bane needed this intelligence information in order to know where to direct the black and gray propaganda necessary to disguise the CIA’s actual intentions. There was also a need to train Delta Force to operate in the Iranian desert.
The required intelligence was obtained, but as is well known, the government’s first major counter-terror operation, the Desert One rescue mission, failed to get off the ground. Sand clogged the aircraft and on 25 April 1980, eight soldiers were killed. To Ronald Reagan and George Bush’s delight, the hostage situation continued unabated for another six months, and enabled them to characterize Jimmy Carter throughout the campaign as someone who did not take security seriously.
Just as merrily George W. Bush capitalized on the 11 September catastrophe, the Great Communicator shamelessly rode the Iranian hostage tragedy into the White House. As in Chile, the secret to success was persuading the middle class to support the cause of freedom. After defeating bumbling George Bush (the CIA’s preferred candidate) in the primary, Reagan repudiated Carter’s Human Rights crusade, and in the wake of the hostage crisis, declared a totally disingenuous war against terrorism. The seizure of the embassy had shaken the American public as never before, and Reagan played on that infantile fear. Indeed, terror was the organizing principle in his campaign. His avowed and central principle, written in stone, was of never negotiating with terrorists, as Jimmy Carter was attempting to do, and of restoring America to its rightful position as the most powerful and feared nation in the world.
Meanwhile, according to eyewitness Ari Ben-Menashe, Reagan’s campaign manager, William J. Casey, had arranged for vice presidential candidate and former CIA director George Bush to meet with Iranian officials in Paris on the weekend of 18-19 October 1980. In exchange for holding the hostages through the election, then releasing them, Reagan, Bush and Casey agreed to sell weapons to Iran, which had been invaded in September 1980 by CIA asset Saddam Hussein and Iraq.
The secret deal, called the October Surprise, allowed Reagan, Bush and Casey to steal the presidency. The fact that the hostages were released on the day of Reagan’s inauguration highlighted the fact that a secret deal had been made. But the American media had already been compromised by the National Security elite’s four-year old disinformation campaign, and under the Great Communicator, the major TV networks and newspapers would become nothing more than a mouthpiece for the Israeli Lobby and America’s reactionary right wing.
The final chapter in the history of the national security elite’s campaign of terror against the American people began with Reagan and his successful efforts to destroy the Soviet Union. It was advanced through the presidencies of George H. W. Bush, and the aberration called Bill Clinton, and has achieved its apotheosis under George W. Bush.
Upon assuming office, Reagan declared that he would replace Carter’s Human Rights crusade with an all-out war on terrorism, and to implement this policy he appointed OSS veteran William Casey as Director of Central Intelligence. Casey immediately reconstituted the SOD under Rudy Enders, wrapped anti-terrorism in a veil of black and gray propaganda, and began mounting terror operations worldwide through a hip pocket operation managed by a secret team of counter-terror experts.
Many old Phoenix veterans staffed several key positions in the Reagan, Bush and Casey regime. SOD chief Rudy Enders had managed the CIA’s counter-terror teams in Vietnam’s III Corps in 1965-1966, and 1970-1972. On his second tour, Enders worked under the direction of III Corps Regional Officer in Charge, Donald Gregg. During the Reagan Administration, Gregg would serve as Vice-President George H. W. Bush’s national security advisor.
In Vietnam, Gregg, Enders, and Enders’ deputy Felix Rodriguez, a crazed anti-Castro Cuban associated with some of the CIA’s most ruthless terrorists, managed III Corps’ Phoenix Program. In this capacity the trio developed what they called the “Pink Team” plan for identifying, capturing, and killing specific members of the Viet Cong Infrastructure.
In 1981, after a survey in Latin America, Enders assigned Rodriguez to El Salvador specifically to implement an updated version of the Pink Plan against the political leadership of the insurgency. After receiving approval from Bush, through Greg, the strategy was applied uniformly throughout Central America and resulted in the proliferation of death squads and the formation of the world’s largest narco-terrorist group, the Contras, with the able assistance of Panama’s Manuel Noriega, one of the CIA’s most famous assets ever. Veteran field hands from the Phoenix Program were rehired by the SOD and assigned to security forces and death squads in numerous nations around the world. Everywhere they went they carried a field manual developed by the U.S. Army Special Forces for use in the Phoenix Program.
Titled “Psychological Operations In Guerrilla Warfare,” the manual specifically states that “Guerrilla warfare is essentially a political war,” and that “the human being should be considered the primary target.” Once the mind had been reached, the manual said, the “political animal” was defeated, without necessarily receiving bullets.
“Guerrilla warfare is born and grows in the political environment; in the constant combat to dominate that area of political mentality that is inherent to all human beings and which collectively constitutes the ‘environment’ in which guerrilla warfare moves, and which is where precisely its victory or failure is defined.
“This conception of guerrilla warfare as political war turns Psychological Operations into the decisive factor. The target, then, is the minds of the population, all the population: our troops, the enemy troops, and the civilian population.”
The essential element in these psychological operations was “implicit terror,” as applied through Armed Propaganda Teams, as developed in Vietnam. When “implicit terror” failed to convince people to join the cause, the explicit terror of torture and summary execution were applied.
Here it is wise to note that the soldiers being trained and assigned to the Office of Homeland Security will ultimately perform the same “psywar” function, of implicitly terrorizing the American public, through their uniforms and arms, into submission. Suspected terrorists and their sympathizers can expect to receive explicit terror.
Through a junta headed by Oliver North at the NSC, and a group of secret agents in the Enterprise originally formed by Ed Wilson, and managed after 1983 (when Wilson was convicted of selling 20 tons of C-4 explosive in 1977 to Libya’s Muammar Qadaffi) by retired Air Force General Richard Secord, Casey used profits from the illegal sale of weapons to Iran, and the profits from CIA-protected drug smuggling through Panama, to fund the Contra terror campaign in Nicaragua.
To cover these illegal terror operations—and a separate, immense covert action, which involved the recruitment and training of Moslem mercenaries, including Osama bin Laden, to repel the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and thus bleed the Soviet Union into oblivion—Casey penetrated the Office of Public Diplomacy within the State Department. A totally illegal CIA domestic operation, Casey’s hijacking of the Office of Public Diplomacy enjoyed the tacit approval of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Part of the reason for this incredible oversight was the fact that CIA officer Robert Simmons was staff director of the Senate Intelligence Committee. During the Vietnam War, Simmons had advised a CIA Interrogation Center for 18 months in Phu Yen Province. Today, unbelievably, he is now a Congressman from Connecticut. Totally sympathetic to Casey’s policy, Simmons was unable to provide any information about illegal CIA covert actions, including the mining of Nicaraguan harbors, to those Committee members who might have objected. Thanks to Simmons and the Committee’s chairman, Senator Barry Goldwater (R-AZ), the Office of Public Diplomacy, under Otto Reich, had free reign to inundate the media with black and gray propaganda, thus protecting all of Casey’s illegal activities.
“A staff report by the House Foreign Affairs Committee (September 7, 1988) summarized various investigations of Mr. Reich’s office and concluded that ‘senior CIA officials with backgrounds in covert operations, as well as military intelligence and psychological operations specialists from the Department of Defense, were deeply involved in establishing and participating in a domestic political and propaganda operation run through an obscure bureau in the Department of State which reported directly to the National Security Council rather than through the normal State Department channels. Through irregular sole-source, no-bid contracts, S/LPD established and maintained a private network of individuals and organizations whose activities were coordinated with, and sometimes directed by, Col. Oliver North as well as officials of the NSC and S/LPD. These private individuals and organizations raised and spent funds for the purpose of influencing Congressional votes and U.S. domestic news media. This network raised and funneled money to off-shore bank accounts in the Cayman Islands or to the secret Lake Resources bank account in Switzerland for disbursement at the direction of Oliver North. Almost all of these activities were hidden from public view and many of the key individuals involved were never questioned or interviewed by the Iran/Contra Committees’.”
The Office of Public Diplomacy was so successful in manipulating the media, that it was able to convince the public that Reagan had not approved the funding of the illegal Contras from profits from illegal secret arms sales to Iran—even after he confessed to the crime, with a glistening Hollywood tear in his eye, on national TV in November 1986. Likewise all Congressional investigations into the Iran-Contra scandal were successfully subverted, and George Bush was elected president in 1988, despite his integral role in what was the most egregious violation of the Constitution in American history. What amounted to a military coup went unpunished, due to the success of the CIA’s psychological warfare capabilities, and its near absolute control of the major American media.
The current Bush Administration, incidentally, is considering nominating Otto “Third” Reich as Assistant Secretary of State for Latin American Affairs.
While Casey initiated covert terror actions around the world and in America, the Office of Terrorism was reorganized to serve an essentially clandestine purpose. Casey thrived on “hip-pocket” operations and compartmentalization, and as DCI he took a more active role managing specific operations than any of his predecessors.
Thus, as a replacement for Howard Bane, Casey chose William Buckley, a veteran CIA officer who’d spent much of his career undercover as an officer in the U.S. Army Special Forces. Buckley served several tours in Vietnam, managing counter-terror and counter-intelligence operations, and from 1969 until 1972, under Ted Shackley, he was the director of the CIA’s national counter-terror program in Vietnam.
In 1978 Buckley was assigned to Damascus, Syria, and in mid-1979 he trained President of Egypt Anwar Sadat’s bodyguards. Buckley was assigned to Islamabad, Pakistan in 1979, and in November 1979 he became involved in planning for the Iran Embassy hostage rescue operation. In February 1981 he was assigned to train the SOD’s own counter-terror team at Fort Bragg, and to reorganize CIA’s counter-terrorism office.
Buckley was profoundly influenced during his first tour in Vietnam, when he saw a Buddhist monk immolate himself. Buckley was convinced, like rat-eater Liddy, that Americans must become as fanatically self-sacrificing as their suicidal enemies if they were to persevere. Apparently Casey shared this philosophy, and when they met in March 1981, he and Buckley formed an affinity. Buckley became Casey’s close advisor, and they traveled together to Saudi Arabia in April to pave the way for the construction of secret military bases, now occupied by U.S. counter-terror forces arrayed against Al Qaeda, and to obtain private funding for Casey’s Contra terror campaign.
The first step in this secret war of terror was the October 1981 assassination of Sadat by the bodyguards Buckley had trained. The assassination nullified the Camp David Accords President Carter had worked so hard to achieve. Israel was now free to target PLO bases in Lebanon, and in May 1982, Israeli General Ariel Sharon invaded Lebanon, and, through his paid assets in the Christian Phalange militia, organized one of the greatest terror acts of all time—the massacre of hundreds of Palestinian men in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps.
Currently serving as the elected Prime Minister of Israel, the world’s greatest human rights abuser and second largest sponsor of state-terrorism, Sharon may be indicted as war criminal for this despicable act, in the same Belgian court that may try Nixon’s ferocious National Security Advisor, Henry Kissinger, for war crimes committed during the Chilean coup.
In August 1982 Buckley returned to CIA headquarters to revamp and coordinate Reagan’s anti-terrorism policy, through what was called the Domestic Terrorism Group. According to author Mark Perry, “For six months Buckley and the government officials hammered out a policy.” The result was that the CIA maintained responsibility for foreign counter-terror operations, while the FBI acquired the domestic “internal security” terrorism account.
Under the direction of Attorney General Edwin Meese, the FBI went about its internal security task with ideological fervor, harassing, discrediting, and stifling each and every Peace group that sought to educate the public about the CIA’s human rights abuses. Citizens opposed to CIA death squads in Guatemala and El Salvador fared the worst, because the Reagan Administration, with the earnest assistance of its right wing supplicants in the media, was eminently able to equate peace with an unpatriotic support for terrorism.
It was all a Big Lie, of course, but the national security elite is willing to deceive the public for the greater good of its internal security. In the case of Reagan’s “freedom fighters,” as he called the terrorist Contras in Nicaragua, it was done under the rubric of counter-terrorism, to protect the CIA’s illegal activities from coming to light.
The Office of Homeland Security will undoubtedly serve a similar disinformation function for the Bush Administration, although all pretenses that the CIA is not involved in domestic counter-terrorism have been dropped. The CIA has been “unleashed.”
In so far as spying on U.S. citizens with suspected links to foreign terrorists was an on-going, albeit top secret priority since Chaos, it was impossible for the CIA not to be involved in domestic counter-terror in 1981. But in that naïve era the myth needed to be maintained, and for that reason Buckley suggested to Casey that the Domestic Terrorism Group be renamed the International Anti-terrorism Group. “Buckley’s plan,” Perry said, “called for a coordinated effort to combat security breaches under the leadership of the NSC director, who’d be in charge of monitoring the agencies that were responsible for domestic law enforcement.”
Citing Pentagon officials, Perry says that the Domestic Terrorism Group became a part of the Army’s Intelligence Support Activity, and that Buckley’s plan for an independent CIA office disintegrated as a result. Casey reassigned Buckley as the CIA’s chief of station in Beirut following the March 1983 bombing of the American Embassy. Buckley arrived in June or July, but failed to prevent the attack on the U.S. Marine Corps barracks, on 23 October 1983, that killed 241 Marines.
On 16 March 1984, Buckley was kidnapped by Hezbollah guerrillas, and after being tortured for months, died in captivity in Tehran in June 1985, shortly after a March 1985 car bomb, reportedly planted by the CIA or the Phalange militia, and intended for terrorist suspect Hussein Fadlallah, killed 80 Lebanese civilians. Hezbollah reportedly passed a copy of Buckley’s 400-page videotaped confession to Casey in May 1986.
Perry speculates that Buckley was part of a secret, hip pocket operation into Iran, to recruit members of Iran’s junior officer corps. Be that as it may, the Reagan, Bush, Casey reliance on covert actions had only worsened the problem of terrorism, creating one disaster after another, and severely escalating the cycle of violence. With Congress conducting a number of official inquiries into CIA abuses, the time had come to take terror operations out of escapading Bill Casey’s hip pocket, and create a new office within the CIA to manage the situation.
The CIA’s counter-terror network, as established by William Casey, was a direct descendant of the counter-intelligence special operations unit, CHAOS, formed by James Angleton in August 1967, specifically to spy on the New Left and other radical political groups in the anti-war and civil rights movements. From its earliest beginnings, Chaos was distinguished from other CIA operations by its secure communications system, its super inaccessibility and “compartmentalization,” it’s inter-connected domestic and international mandate, and its essentially political nature. All of this was permissible in so far as Chaos was a “special” counter-intelligence function designed to ferret out the plans and strategies of foreign intelligence services.
As we know, the CIA underwent a major reorganization in 1974 after William Colby fired counter-intelligence chief James Angleton, and exposed the CIA’s “family jewels” at a Congressional Hearing conducted by Representative Otis Pike (D-NY). Chaos became the International Terrorism Group, and the repository of some of the “hip pocket” operations that forced Angleton from the Agency. The ITG remained buried in the bowels of the CIA until it was resurrected as Howard Bane’s Office of Terrorism in late 1977. The Iran hostage crisis and the disaster of Desert One enabled Ronald Reagan to steal the presidency, denounce Carter’s Human Rights crusade, and initiate a new foreign policy based on combating terrorism.
In 1981, Reagan’s Director of Central Intelligence, William Casey, saw the political possibilities of turning Buckley’s Office of Domestic Terrorism into a “back-channel” mechanism, like Chaos under Angleton and Ober, for conducting secret “hip pocket” operations outside the normal chain of command. And thus was born the Counter-Terror Network that exists until today, as the official manifestation of the off-the-shelf Enterprise formed by Bush and Shackley back in 1976.
The ultimate object of Reagan Administration policy was the destruction of the Soviet Union through the application of “low-intensity warfare” in Afghanistan; counter-terror in the Middle East, and pro-active terror in Latin America. Effecting this policy involved a number of illegal covert actions, and so Casey had to run his Counter-Terror Network outside of the CIA itself, through a cabal of secret agents throughout the government, acting under his direction through a group of veteran CIA officers who embrace the same essentially fascist world view. Like Chaos, the Counter-Terror Network had a secure communications system, as Peter Dale Scott observed, “that excluded other bureaucrats with opposing viewpoints.”
As Scott notes, “The counter-terrorism network even had its own special worldwide antiterrorist computer network, codenamed Flashboard, by which members could communicate exclusively with each other and their collaborators abroad.”
Casey laid the groundwork for this Counter-Terror Network in 1981, when he appointed David Whipple as the CIA’s National Intelligence Officer (NIO) for counter-terrorism. A veteran CIA officer with extensive service in the Far East, Whipple had been serving as the CIA’s station chief in Switzerland, where he’d conducted successful counter-terror operations, before being summoned back to headquarters to take on the job as Casey’s NIO for counter-terrorism.
According to Whipple, Casey’s staff consisted of 16 NIOs, eight of whom were responsible for geographical divisions, while the other eight were responsible for issues, such as narcotics, counter-intelligence, nuclear weapons, economics, and in Whipple’s case, counter-terror. Under Casey’s direction, every government agency established a counter-terror office as part of this secret apparatus. Whipple as NIO coordinated them all, collating all the information they provided at CIA headquarters. In consultation with Casey, Whipple assisted the CIA’s division chiefs, making sure their station chiefs were properly handling counter-terror issues in their designated areas.
Whipple maintained the Office of Domestic Terrorism after Buckley departed, through a staff that included an operations chief, intelligence analysts, photo interpreters, and several case officers. Because it had the authority to access any division’s files and to co-opt its most precious penetration agents, the ODT was resisted by the divisions—especially by the Near East Division, which was on the front lines of the war against terrorism. Thus in 1983 Casey sent Buckley to Beirut to personally oversee counter-intelligence operations there. And he conscripted Oliver North, a doe-eyed Marine lieutenant colonel assigned to the National Security Council, as his penetration agent inside the NSC. Notably, Whipple served as North’s case officer in this monumental misadventure.
A Vietnam veteran, cut from the same erratic mold as Liddy and Buckley, North came from nowhere and in 1982 was the NSC staff coordinator for crisis management. According to Scott, Vice President Bush was in overall charge as chair of the Cabinet-level Crisis Management Committee. Starting in February 1983, North, according to Scott, developed a secret Crisis Management Center, and REX 84, “a plan to suspend the Constitution in the event of a national crisis such as nuclear war, violent and widespread internal dissent, or national opposition to a U.S. military invasion abroad.”
Sound familiar? In light of the recent national emergency, it is not surprising that North’s plan called for “the round-up and internment of large numbers of both domestic dissidents (some twenty-six thousand) and aliens (perhaps as many as from three to four thousand), in camps such as the one in Oakdale, Louisiana.” And just as the vast majority of Congresspersons went along with the draconian anti-terror legislation passed on 29 October, Senator Daniel Inouye in 1987 cut-off all debate about North’s plan to suspend the Constitution when Congressman Jack Brooks raised the issue during the televised Iran-Contra Hearings.
North next formed a personal relationship with Vice President Bush in the winter of 1983, when they inspected El Salvador’s death squad commanders. After that North’s stock soared, and in April 1984 he created the Terrorist Incident Working Group (TWIG) specifically to rescue several American hostages, including Buckley, held in Lebanon. North became TWIG’s chairman, and in October 1985 he managed its first successful operation—the capture of the hijackers of the Achille Lauro.
A few months earlier, in June, after the hijacking of a TWA Flight 847 to Beirut, Bush created the Vice President’s Task Force on Combating Terrorism. According to Scott, as the NSC’s liaison to the Task Force, “North drafted a secret annex for its report which institutionalized and expanded his counter-terrorist powers, making himself the NSC coordinator of all counter-terrorist actions.”
On 20 January 1986, North’s efforts were crowned with National Security Decision Directive 207, making him chief coordinator of the Administration’s counter-terror program, and providing him with a secret office and staff known as the Office To Combat Terrorism. Working through the inter-agency Operations Sub-Group (OSG), North coordinated the secret Counter-Terror Network and Secord’s Enterprise in a series of mind-boggling illegal operations, including illegal arms sales to Iran through Israel’s counter-terrorism expert Amiram Nir; illegal Contra drug smuggling through CIA asset Manuel Noriega in Panama, by a group of anti-Castro Cubans, all of whom were directly connected to Bush through his chief of operations, Donald Gregg, via Rudy Enders and Felix Rodriguez (all Phoenix Program veterans); illegal arms supply operations to the Contras through right wing domestic terror groups; and the repression of domestic dissent on a massive scale unmatched until the recent assaults mounted on the civil liberties of American citizens by fundamentalist Attorney General John Ashcroft and the U.S. Congress.
As Scott notes, “the Office to Combat Terrorism became the means whereby North could coordinate the propaganda activities of Carl “Spitz” Channel and Richard Miller (and) the closing of potential embarrassing investigations by other government agencies.”
The ranking members of this Counter-Terror Network included: Donald Gregg (Bush’s National Security Advisor); CIA officer Charles Allen (Whipple’s replacement as Casey’s Counter-Terror National Intelligence Officer in 1985); Robert Oakley at the State Department’s Office of Counter-Terrorism (a former CIA officer with experience in political operations in Vietnam, Oakley was co-chair of North’s Operations Sub-Group until mid-1986); Richard Armitage (a member of the Enterprise) at the Defense Department; Lt. Gen. John Moellering at the Joint Chiefs of Staff; FBI Counter-Terror Chief, Oliver Revell, and, wonder of wonders, Michael Ledeen at the National Security Council.
The lynch pin between the Israelis and the Americans, Ledeen had proposed illegal arms sales to Iran in 1984 through Mossad double agent Manuchehr Ghorbanifar. The CIA’s Deputy Director for Operations, Clair George, considered Ghorbanifar totally unreliable, and as having only his personal financial interests, and Israel’s security, at heart. But George’s objections were neutralized in June 1985, when Bush formed the Terrorism Task Force, at which point the illegal arms sales went forward. And to assure that no one else in the CIA would obstruct Reagan’s secret policy, Casey in January 1986 conscripted veteran CIA officer Duane Clarridge into the Counter-Terror Network, as its de facto security chief, and directed Clarridge to form the CIA’s Counter-Terror Center, which exists until today.
Under the current “unpresident” Bush, counter-terrorism is a mechanism to conduct illegal operations on behalf of his economic patrons, to circumvent Congress, and to harass his domestic critics. Counter-terrorism is the preferred political and psychological weapon of the radical right wing, and it was perfected in 1986 with the creation of the CIA’s Counter-Terror center.
Duane “Dewey” Clarridge, a man with an extensive background in terror, was well equipped for managing this job. A rabid right wing ideologue, he was chief of the CIA’s station in Turkey in the late 1960s and 1970s, when the fascist Grey Wolves went on a terror rampage, bombing, shooting and killing thousands of officials, journalists, students, lawyers, labor organizers, social democrats, left-wing activists and Kurds. Since then, Turkey’s military dictatorship has been one of America’s strongest allies.
A body-builder and certified member of the Old Boy clique that runs the CIA, Clarridge in August 1976 helped ADDO Ted Shackley recruit Albert Hakim, later a member of Secord’s Enterprise, to spy in Iran. (Shackley was soon thereafter forced into retirement due to his association with “rogue elephant” Ed Wilson, the CIA officer who sold tons of explosives to Libya.) Clarridge was serving as the CIA’s station chief in Rome when the Pope was shot, and was chief of Latin America Division from 1981 until 1984, when Nicaraguan harbors were mined and the psyops “murder manual” was distributed to the Contras, with his approval. In this capacity Clarridge helped Richard Secord move PLO weapons captured by Israeli forces during their bloody invasion of Lebanon, through Noriega in Panama, to the Contras.
Clarridge, as chief of the Europe Division, next played a pivotal role in the illegal Iran-Contra operation, by providing the back channel, through his station chief in Lisbon, that allowed North and Secord’s Enterprise to sell HAWK and TOW missiles to the Iranians, at a huge profit for Secord and his Israeli counterparts, in exchange for the release of several American hostages. The operation, which subverted the U.S. Constitution and the Bolland Amendments passed by Congress, made Ronald Reagan into the world’s biggest, but most adorable, liar.
According to Scott, “The intrigues of North, Secord, Clarridge and Oakley at this point showed a concern for politics rather than security.”
In that case, the political imperative was to gain the release of hostages, so that Reagan, who had sworn “never” to negotiate with terrorists, would not be unfavorably compared to Carter, or exposed as a bold-faced liar, and so Bush would not lose the up-coming election. Gaining the release of the hostages, of course, involved the illegal arms sales to Iran, which itself was a flagrant flimflam by the Israelis and their agents in the U.S. Government. One of those Israeli agents, Michael Ledeen, while serving as a special assistant on terrorism at the State Department, made the original proposal in 1982 to divert money from arms sales to fund covert counter-terror operations. Ledeen also was responsible, while employed at the National Security Council in 1984, for convincing North and Secord to employ Mossad double agent and world-class swindler Manuchehr Ghorbanifar as the middleman between the Iranians, the Israelis, and the Americans. As the record shows, it was Ghorbanifar’s duplicity and avarice that led the entire misadventure to its ignoble conclusion.
The homeland thanks you, Michael Ledeen. You’re exactly the sort of corrupt public official we need advising the Bush regime on how to wage its counter-terror campaign against the Moslem world.
In an interview with this writer, Clarridge described the Counter-Terror Center, which has coordinated the CIA’s back-channel activities since its formation in 1986, as a central unit with members from the four directorates, operating under a committee at the National Security Council. With input from the different divisions, the Counter-Terror Center “divines” anti-terrorism policy, and then constructs entities that can conduct operations. It is not a function of the U.S. Army Special Forces, according to Clarridge, but pieces together counter-terrorism “action teams”—commando squads trained to capture suspected terrorists and bring them to the United States to stand trial.
During his tenure from 1986 to 1988, Clarridge oversaw a massive increase in intelligence gathering on suspected terrorists, and developed new weapons for use against them. He worked especially closely with George H. W. Bush, much to his advantage. Indeed, after it was revealed that Clarridge had assisted North in the transfer of surface-to-air missiles to Iran, he was forced to resign from the CIA. He lied about it when called before Special Prosecutor Lawrence Walsh, and was indicted on seven counts of perjury. But he never went to trial, thanks to a last minute pardon issued by Bush on December 24, 1992. Bush’s pardon provided blanket amnesty to Clarridge, Reagan’s Secretary of Defense Casper Weinberger, Elliott Abrams, a former assistant secretary of state for Inter-American affairs, former National Security Adviser Robert McFarlane, CIA officer Alan Fiers, and CIA officer Clair George.
Unlike Clinton, Bush received no criticism for his pardons, though they were far worse than anything Clinton ever did. For with those pardons, Bush assured that his role in the October Surprise, and the Iran-Contra Scandal, and many other crimes, would never be revealed.
The moral to this story is crystal clear: Presidents Nixon, Reagan and Bush created secret “counter-terror” cabals within their administrations to conduct illegal operations and harass their domestic political opponents. Under the aegis of counter-terrorism, the FBI since then has conducted extensive surveillance against every peace group that opposes any right wing Administration’s blatant terrorism.
Oliver North blamed Washington for losing the Vietnam War. His hatred of the peace movement was and is palpable, and it’s no coincidence that he exploited his power as chief of counter-terrorism to terrorize his domestic opponents. As Scott notes, North believes that “the most pressing problem is not in the Third World, but here at home in the struggle for the minds of the people.”
Thus, when Jack Terrell informed the Justice Department that North was involved in drug smuggling, North labeled Terrell a terrorist and sicced the FBI’s counter-terror unit on him. Like all the other rabid right wing ideologues presented in this essay, Oliver North was mostly concerned about his own personal power. But none of his abuses, or those of the Reagan and Bush regime were ever exposed, because, as McClintock notes, “the very notion of counter-terror as terrorism was forbidden, while circumlocution was the norm.”
Michael Ledeen, who was forced from the Reagan Administration after the Iran arms fiasco became public, described George Bush in the 20 August 1987 Boston Globe as “the most powerful man in America.” And after his election, Bush tried his hardest to prove he was the most powerful man in the world as well. His devastating invasion of Panama left thousands dead, and tens of thousand homeless, but did nothing to curb international drug smuggling. Likewise, his massive terror bombing of Kuwait and Iraq killed tens of thousands, and his economic sanctions, endorsed by Clinton, have killed hundreds of thousands, for no reason at all, save vengeance. Saddam Hussein is still in power.
For all the violence and terror he inflicted on the world, Bush did nothing to make America a safer place. And while America’s anti-terrorism policy remained unchanged under his son and ideological heir, our sacred homeland, according to Michael Ledeen, is a much unsafer place.
In his 1 October article for NRO, Ledeen said: “The last great chief of the CIA, Bill Casey, saw the necessity of creating a counter-terrorism center where all the information came into a central location and was analyzed in toto. He entrusted the task to Dewey Clarridge,” who “cracked his very active whip greatly improving the quality of our intelligence.”
Then came the “infamous” although unspecified “restrictions” put in place by Clinton.
What is required now, Ledeen contends, is “a top guy with real power and total support from the president, and it requires men and women at the working level who not only have the resolve and the courage to do it – laying waste to dead wood as they go – but who know the system cold, know how the bureaucratic games are played, and know which walls have to be broken down.”
What Ledeen is prescribing, of course, is a recipe for the type of domestic political repression outlined in detail in this essay, that American’s have endured under previous right wing regimes.
Our constitutionally protected right to political activity has been under constant attack for decades now, and it will only get worse. As a result of the recent anti-terror legislation, even your email can be subjected to permanent monitoring by the FBI, CIA or the new OHS. As of this week, the FBI can “seek a peek” inside your home or office without a warrant, and seize your files, property or computers without any notice, and they don’t have to tell you about it until afterwards. Committing any petty misdemeanor, which can in anyway be interpreted as frightening some National Guardsman at some Office of Homeland Security checkpoint or airport, is now grounds for surveillance of your home and person, and monitoring of your internet activity.
God forbid you should stoop to political dissent, or opposition to Bush’s eternal war.
Internationally the story isn’t any prettier. Bush’s ambassador to the United Nations, John Negroponte, has stated that America must attack more and more countries. Like other terrorists in the Bush Administration, Negroponte is well suited to this task. As U.S. ambassador to Honduras under Reagan, he funded that particular right wing regime’s most notorious death squad, Battalion 316.
In the name of anti-terrorism, the illegitimate Bush Administration can be expected to revitalize this practice worldwide, training torturers and tyrants to wage “global counter-terrorism” against any nation that harbors suspected terrorists, or critics of U.S. foreign policy. And any connection you have to these foreign enemies, even if it is merely sympathy for the Palestinians, subjects you to imprisonment, loss of livelihood, and worst of all, forfeiture of your sense of humor.
That’s right. You can’t even make fun of the situation anymore. Which is, when you think of it, perfectly in keeping with our time honored Judeo-Christian ethic.
Here at home, through the Office of Homeland Security, we will endure more political and psychological warfare, more black and gray propaganda, and more deceit and disinformation than any society on earth before. We’re told we must become new people in a brave new world, where indefinite detention, torture and summary execution of our suspected enemies will make us free.
Award winning reporter and likely Mossad propagandist Seymour Hersh tells us that we must resort to the tactics the Jordanian security service used to catch the notorious Palestinian terrorist Abu Nidal. “The Jordanians did not move directly against suspected Abu Nidal followers but seized close family members instead, mothers and brothers,” Hersh notes. Then he quotes an anonymous CIA officer as saying, “Jordan is the one nation that totally succeeded in penetrating a group,” because it was able “to get their families under control.”
So much for family values.
Hersh disingenuously adds that these tactics defy CIA procedures, but suggests it’s a better alternative than “sitting around making diversity quilts.”
Well, this is exactly the type of psychological warfare you can expect to be subjected to on a daily basis from here on out. As noted in the Marine Corps Gazette, “Psychological operations may become the dominant operational and strategic weapon in the form of media/information intervention. Logic bombs and computer viruses, including latent viruses, may be used to disrupt civilian as well as military operations. Fourth generation adversaries will be adept at manipulating the media to alter domestic and world opinion to the point where skillful use of psychological operations will sometimes preclude the commitment of combat forces.”
“Television news may become a more powerful operational weapon than armored divisions.”
Let me say it one last time: in the name of anti-terrorism, all of the nation’s pent-up anger and frustration over Vietnam, and a host of other, mostly Clinton-related issues, is poised to be unleashed on an enemy that lurks inside our borders.
And that enemy is you.
But in order to survive, and enjoy, and laugh, you need only know one thing: when Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld and Rice and Powell tell you that America needs to wage unrelenting war for the next fifty years, in order to achieve peace, they are lying.
War, dear Citizen, is not Peace.
Hail The Republic!
Douglas Valentine is an author, researcher, investigator, consultant, critic, and poet. Mr. Valentine’s published works include The Hotel Tacloban (1984) a highly praised account of life and death in a Japanese prisoner of war camp, The Phoenix Program (1990) which Professor Alfred J. McCoy describes as “the definitive account” of the CIA’s most secret and deadly covert operation of the Vietnam War, TDY (2000) (the letters stand for “temporary duty”) about the not-so-secret “Secret War” in Laos, The Strength of the Wolf: The Federal Bureau of Narcotics 1930-1968 (2004), and The Strength of the Pack: The People, Politics and Espionage Intrigues that Shaped the DEA (2009). For information about Mr. Valentine, and his books and articles, please visit his web sites at www.DouglasValentine.com and http://members.authorsguild.net/valentine.
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