After his election president Barack Obama promised to bring an end to his state’s international reputation for illegality and brutality but, as Desi O’Hagan reports, he is yet to bring into line an agency that believes itself to be beyond any law.
Since it was established as the successor to the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) after the Second World War no continent has escaped the interference of the US’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
In his book Legacy of Ashes, Tim Weiner catalogues the numerous countries where the CIA has worked to usurp democracy and in the process assisted in the murder of those seeking to build a decent humane society.
Iran is one such country. In 1953, it was among the first states to experience the CIA’s malevolence when, in league with the oil company Anglo/British Oil (which now operates under the title BP) and British Intelligence, ‘the Agency’ conspired to depose Dr. Mohammad Mossadeq, Iran’s democratically elected leader.
Mossadeq’s ‘crime’ was that he had expelled international oil companies, nationalised the oil industry and exiled the autocratic Shah – all actions which the US saw as detrimental to the interests of capitalism. The result was 25 years of repression and dictatorship under the Shah which in turn led to the fundamentalist Islamic Republic of today.
Shortly after their ‘success’ in Iran the CIA went to work in Guatemala, where in 1954 they succeeded in deposing the progressive leader General Jacobo Arbenz Guzman. Only now after more than fifty years of corrupt murderous regimes, all supported by the US, has Guatemala begun to take small steps towards a normal society. It will take decades for the country and its people to recover from the effects of the CIA’s actions.
The history of the last 60 years has witnessed CIA agents, and their allies, violently attack opposition from any quarter, be it a nation, organisation or individual that dares question US interference in their affairs. In the process, the CIA has put into, or maintained in, power dictators such as Mobutu in the Congo, Pinochet in Chile, Saddam in Iraq, Suharto in Indonesia and Trujillo in the Dominican Republic, and Franco in Spain.
After the years of the regime of George W. Bush the American people decided enough was enough and gave a mandate to a new voice calling for change – President Barack Obama. Foremost among the many changes promised was reform of the CIA.
The ‘Agency’s’ excuse that they were engaged in a war against ruthless terrorists had proved hollow, with the US electorate realising that when one descends to the same level of barbarity as one’s so-called enemies, then obviously one is no better than the enemy.
In many recent cases of genocide, alleged torturers and killers from Europe and Africa have been put before an International Criminal Court. In a recent blog US attorney John Sifton has pointed out there is no justifiable reason why those involved in conspiring to bring about, and then direct, the illegal war in Iraq that resulted in hundreds of thousands deaths, should not similarly be brought to book.
In reference to the CIA, Sifton states: “Moreover, investigations of existing staff shouldn’t focus on lower-level officers. Accountability, if it ever occurs, should focus primarily on executive-level directors, such as the current CIA Deputy Director Stephen Kappes and Michael Sulick, the director of the CIA’s National Clandestine Service – both high level officials in the CIA’s operations directorate when the worst detainee abuses were committed.”
One of the most disturbing aspects of recent CIA activity is its role in establishing, funding and arming terrorist groups operating in sub-Saharan Africa. The aim in this operation would seem to be creating another area where the so-called “war on terror” can be conducted, so giving cover to intervention by US armed forces. Underlying this strategy is the goal of securing access to oil supplies in the sub-Saharan region.
The dangers of such an obscene strategy have been revealed by Professor Jeremy Kellman in his study of a sub-Saharan terrorist group, which is generally accepted to have been originally established by CIA, but then decided to branch out into kidnapping tourists for ransom.
In early 2009, the group kidnapped four tourists in Niger, immediately transporting them into neighbouring Mali. Al Qaeda in the Magreb demanded a ransom for the tourists. Two, a German and a Swiss, were released after a ransom was paid. The refusal by the British Government to similarly meet their demands resulted in the beheading of British tourist Edwin Dyer.
The actions of the CIA in sub-Saharan Africa are akin to its pervious actions in Afghanistan where, alongside the Pakistani dictator General Zia, the ‘Agency’ organised and funded the so-called Mujahedeen to wage war against the progressive government of President Mohammad Najibullah.
Millions of dollars were poured into the coffers of groups who would later become known as the Taliban and Al Qaeda without regard to the rights and future of the Afghan people – in the process the US created a monster they are now fighting in Afghanistan and globally.
In June 2009, CIA Chief Ken Panetta admitted to the U.S. House Intelligence Committee that the CIA had concealed information concerning significant actions from the U.S. Congress from 2001 until June 2009. These CIA actions included murder, torture, counterfeiting and kidnapping. Democratic members of the House Intelligence Committee added that as well as misleading members of Congress for eight years, they were aware of a long list of other CIA deceptions such as secret prisons in Poland, Romania, Syria, Egypt and Morocco where innocent people were tortured, and in some cases died.
A 2003 CIA kidnapping involved the snatching of Muslim cleric Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr from the streets of Milan. Nasr was brought to Egypt and tortured because of alleged connections to Al Qaeda. In November 2009 an Italian magistrate issued arrest warrants for 22 CIA agents identified as being involved in the kidnapping of 24 people in all. The US will not agree to these extradition requests or release any information on their agents’ activities in Milan.
Evidence has even emerged of the CIA counterfeiting the US’s own currency. In his book “The Mystery of the Supernotes” the currency expert Klaus Bender poses a number of questions concerning the origin of so-called “Supernotes”, near-perfect counterfeits of $100 bills that have been in international circulation since the early 1990s.
Bender asks who other than a US state agency could produce the forged currency using the exact same paper, made with the same cotton pulp, same ink and printed of sophisticated Giori Intaglio printing presses which can keep up to speed with US Treasury anti-counterfeiting measures.
According to Bender the supernotes are even better quality than the $100 bills printed by the US Bureau of Engraving and Printing, but they lack magnetic and infra-red security measures. Bender argues these design flaws are deliberate to enable detection of the forgeries by US banks. The flaw also allows them to be tracked around the world. In his book “Moneymakers: The Secret World of Banknote Printing” Bender notes that the CIA has its own Giori printing press at a plant just north of Washington.
Bender’s view is supported by the Swiss Federal Criminal Police (Bundeskriminalpolizie) who noted that subtle errors had been introduced into the supernotes printing process. The Swiss noted “what defies logic is the limited or even controlled amount of ‘exclusive’ fakes that have appeared over the years”. Many of the Supernotes have been detected in politically volatile countries in Africa and the Middle East where US intelligence agencies are most active.
It is easy to see how attractive counterfeiting would be for the CIA after the major political fall-out from the 1986 Iran-Contra scandal. This affair involved the CIA trading arms for cash with America’s enemies in Iran to fund its Fascist Contra allies in South America. The Iran-Contra operation also involved the use by US Colonel Oliver North of forged Irish passports, a trick which the US’s favourite ally Israel has adopted in the more recent past. How much easier it would be for the CIA to simply pay their allies in near-perfect forgeries.
It is clear that for decades the CIA has been an organisation totally out of control, allowed to not only ride rampant over the rights of supposed US enemies but also US citizens. The great promise held out by the new Obama administration has yet to be fulfilled. Despite overwhelming evidence that the CIA has engaged in torture, false imprisonment, kidnapping and murder no action has been taken which would demonstrate to the world that the ‘Agency’ is now under the control of a democratically-elected President of the United States who truly values reason, justice and democracy.
Philip Agee. “The Company”.
Tim Weiner “Legacy of Ashes”.
Gregory Elich “Strange Liberators”
John Stockwell “In Search of Enemies”