Central Intelligence Agency - controversies (part 3) - Dagger and Cloak

Thursday, 28 June 2007

Central Intelligence Agency - controversies (part 3)

Part 1

Part 2

Declassified CIA torture manuals

In 1984, a CIA manual for training the Nicaraguan contras in psychological operations was discovered, entitled "Psychological Operations in Guerrilla War". The manual recommended “selective use of violence for propagandistic effects” and to “neutralize” (i.e., kill) government officials. Nicaraguan Contras were taught to lead:

...demonstrators into clashes with the authorities, to provoke riots or shootings, which lead to the killing of one or more persons, who will be seen as the martyrs; this situation should be taken advantage of immediately against the Government to create even bigger conflicts.

The manual also recommended:

...selective use of armed force for PSYOP [psychological operations] effect.... Carefully selected, planned targets — judges, police officials, tax collectors, etc. — may be removed for PSYOP effect in a UWOA [unconventional warfare operations area], but extensive precautions must insure that the people “concur” in such an act by thorough explanatory canvassing among the affected populace before and after conduct of the mission.

On January 24, 1997, two new manuals were declassified in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed by the Baltimore Sun in 1994. The first manual, "KUBARK Counterintelligence Interrogation," dated July 1963, is the source of much of the material in the second manual. The second manual, "Human Resource Exploitation Training Manual - 1983," was used in at least seven U.S. training courses conducted in Latin American countries, including Honduras, between 1982 and 1987.

Both manuals deal exclusively with interrogation and have an entire chapter devoted to "coercive techniques." These manuals recommend arresting suspects early in the morning by surprise, blindfolding them, and stripping them naked. Interrogation rooms should be windowless, soundproof, dark and without toilets. Suspects should be held incommunicado and should be deprived of any kind of normal routine in eating and sleeping. The manuals describe coercive techniques to be used "to induce psychological regression in the subject by bringing a superior outside force to bear on his will to resist."

UFOs and Robertson Panel

In 1951 the US Air Force revitalized Project Grudge, a program investigating UFOs between 1948-1949. Captain Edward J. Ruppelt ran the program and recommended that the Battelle Memorial Institute, a Columbus, Ohio think tank, do a statistical analysis of existing UFO reports. The think tank released its report in late 1953. Before the final Battelle report was ready however, the CIA became interested in the UFO issue as a national security and arranged to have a secret official committee, the Robertson Panel, look into the compiled UFO data.

The Robertson Panel began in January 1953, and met for a total of twelve hours, studying twenty-three alleged UFO sighting cases. The CIA concluded that UFOs presented little or no interesting scientific data and were only a threat to the United States if sighting reports clogged communications facilities and created a climate of fear among the population which the enemy could exploit before launching an attack. The Robertson Panel therefore suggested, first, an active campaign of public education, perhaps using TV and radio celebrities and the services of Walt Disney Productions; second, an active debunking of sightings in order to de-mystify UFOs in the public mind. Implicit in this education campaign was increased air force secrecy about sighting reports so as not to support public interest. The committee also recommended covert surveillance of civilian UFO groups, in order to monitor those who could promote public interest in UFOs.

The recommendations of the Robertson Panel were implemented by a series of special military regulations. Joint-Army-Navy-Air Force Publication 147 (JANAP 146) of December 1953 made reprinting of any UFO sighting to the public a crime under the Espionage Act, with fines of up to ten thousand dollars and imprisonment ranging from one to ten years. This act was considered binding on all who knew of the act's existence, including commercial airline pilots. A 1954 revision of Air Force Regulation 200-2 (AFR 200-2) made all sighting reports submitted to the air force classified material and prohibited the release of any information about UFO sightings unless the sighting was able to be positively identified. In February 1958 a revision of AFR 200-2 allowed the military to give the FBI the names of people who were "illegally or deceptively bringing the subject [of UFOs] to public attention". Because of the Robertson Panel the air force's Project Blue Book's procedures of investigating UFOs also changed, attempting to find a quick explanation and then file them away. Project Blue Book was a successor of Project Grudge.

In 1956 retired marine Major Donald Keyhoe founded the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP), a UFO investigations organization. By 1969 Keyhoe turned his focus on the CIA as the source of the UFO cover up. NICAP's board, headed by Colonel Jospeph Bryan III, forced Keyhoe to retire as NICAP chief. Bryan was actually a former covert CIA agent who had served the agency as founder and head of its psychological warfare division. Under Bryan's leadership, the NICAP disbanded its local and state affiliate groups, and by 1973 it had been completely closed.

After the Freedom of Information Act was made law in 1974, Ufologists involved in making FOIA requests reported that more than nine hundred pages of information released for the CIA indicated that the organization was collecting and analyzing sighting reports from as early as 1949. In 1997 the CIA came forward to admit its historical interest in UFOs.

Criticism for ineffectiveness

The agency has also been criticized for ineffectiveness as an intelligence gathering agency. These criticisms included allowing a double agent, Aldrich Ames, to gain high position within the organization, and for focusing on finding informants with information of dubious value rather than on processing the vast amount of open source intelligence. On October 13, 1950, the CIA had assured President Truman that the Chinese would not send troops to Korea. Six days later, over one million Chinese troops arrived. In addition, the CIA has come under particular criticism for failing to predict the collapse of the Soviet Union and India's nuclear tests or to forestall the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Proponents of the CIA respond by stating that only the failures become known to the public, whereas the successes usually cannot be known until decades have passed because release of successful operations would reveal operational methods to foreign intelligence, which could affect future and ongoing missions. Some successes for the CIA include the U-2 and SR-71 programs, and anti-Soviet operations in Afghanistan in the mid-1980s, although critics charge that these helped foster the genesis of today's terrorist groups.

Other controversies

Defectors such as former case officer Philip Agee, who later worked with the Soviet KGB and the Cuban intelligence service, have argued that CIA covert action is extraordinarily widespread, extending to propaganda campaigns within countries allied to the United States.

In a briefing held September 15, 2001, George Tenet presented the Worldwide Attack Matrix: A "top-secret" document describing covert CIA anti-terror operations in eighty countries in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. The actions, underway or being recommended, would range from "routine propaganda to lethal covert action in preparation for military attacks." The plans, if carried out, "would give the CIA the broadest and most lethal authority in its history."

"The Family Jewels", the CAESAR-POLO-ESAU papers, and illegal activities

On 27 June 2007 the CIA released two collections of previously classified documents which outlined various activities of doubtful legality.

The first collection, the "Family Jewels," consists of almost 700 pages of responses from CIA employees to a 1973 directive from Director of Central Intelligence James Schlesinger requesting information about activities inconsistent with the Agency's charter.

The second collection, the CAESAR-POLO-ESAU papers, consists of 147 documents and 11,000 pages of research from 1953 to 1973 relating to Soviet and Chinese leadership hierarchies, and Sino-Soviet relations.

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