The Company and the Country, Part I

Definition of the alternatives is the supreme instrument of power

Phil Agee:

I was in Mexico with the CIA, in the '60s. And they had a vast operation going there, and especially in their penetrations and work with the Mexican security services. In fact it started with the president in Mexico, our operations. A very close relationship with three successive presidents : [Adolfo] López Mateos [1], [Gustavo] Díaz Ordaz [2] [, and Luis Echeverría [3]?].

When it comes to Mexico and this Zapista movement [4], there's not a doubt in my mind that they're there in Chiapas [5], they've been there since day one, I'm sure ...

The National Intelligence Service, known as [CIN ?], which the CIA established in '86 or '87 [ '89 CISEN [6] ], as a national service to be used against the narcotics trade coming through Haiti and the Caribbean, that area - which in fact turned into a narcotics dealing organization, as they always do, or often do ...

Afghanistan is not an Arab country but they had a lot of volunteers, Islamic fundamentalists, from the Arab countries, who went as volunteers to fight...

In Afghanistan there were volunteers from Algeria, from Morrocco, all the way from North Africa, Egypt, too, Sudan, and other Arab contries - and they went there as volunteers - and they fought.

First they were trained in how to handle the weapons and so forth, in these camps provided by the CIA. And then they saw action on the front lines. Well, when it was over these - they're called Afghanis, in their home countries, because they had gone off as volunteers, even though they're from Arab countries - so these 'Afghanis', so-called Afghanis, went back and then they started to foment fundamentalist revolution in their own countries. So you see what's happening in Egypt, or in Algeria, right now.

This Algerian civil war has taken 30-35,000 lives, they say - but this is being run, and some of the main forces there have served in Afghanistan, with a meal-ticket from the CIA, and the training, and so forth.

Same thing in Egypt with the so-called Islamic group there, and of these people who were tried in New York - on the two cases, you know, one the World Trade Center bombing [7] and the other the conspiracy trial for the tunnels [8] in the ... yeah ... I think half of those were trained in Afghanistan.

Dr. Frank Morrow

Phil Agee was a CIA officer for twelve years, serving mainly in Latin America. He quit the Agency and wrote his best seller Inside the Company. He will share his experiences and insights with us right now, on Alternative Views. ...

[ 03:36 ]

The Company and the Country, Part I

A conversation with Phil Agee (Part I)

[ 03:59 ]

Frank Morrow [9]:

This is a program I've been wanting to do on Alternative Views [10] for seventeen years ... and that is, have an interiew with former CIA officer Phil Agee.

Now we have had some programs with Phil that you have seen, some speeches that he has given that we've had copies of and that we have presented to you, and the documentary on 'Company Business', but this is our first chance to actually talk with him in person.

Phil was in the CIA for twelve years and then quit after he saw what the CIA was actually doing - all the terrible things they were actually doing - in the areas where he was working particularly, in Ecuador, Mexico, and Uruguay.

He resigned in 1969 to write his first big book, Inside the Company, or CiA Diary. Since then he's written five books, the last one being On the Run, which tells about his experiences after he got out of the CIA, when he was in Europe and trying to write his book and the CIA was hounding him from country to country, doing everything it could to keep him from writing this book.

Well, Phil, we're so pleased that you could finally be with us.

Phil Agee:

I'm very happy to be here.

Frank Morrow:

You've had such an associaion with the CIA, both positive and negative for so many years, let's start out by talking about where the CIA is today.

They say they want to do intelligence gathering on economic subjects, rather than political, etc. like they have in the past. What do you think about that?

Phil Agee:

Well, I think that's a normal activity - they've been doing that since the beginning - to speak of it as 'something new' is really inaccurate.

In this context, all this talk about economic, and financial, and commercial intelligence collection as a new role for the agency I got out a document which was sent to me anonymously in 1976 - twenty years ago, practically - and this document was the list of what they call 'key intelligence questions' for 1975, in this very field : economic, commercial, financial intelligence. Also high-tech developments. And all in the developed countries, all in allies, like the NATO allies and Japan.

This was an innovation of William Colby when he came into the CIA in 1973. He tried to systematize and organize the foreign intelligence collection process. And for 1975 there were, I think, sixty-nine key intelligence questions. And these are actually [written] questions, with some detail, and then there is a whole discussion of them that follows - from 1 to 69.

But these were only - on this document - they were only the nine that deal with economic, commercial, and financial matters. And I got that out - and it calls for great, great detail on all of these matters, including the negotiating positions, the fallback positions, on such negotiations as the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade [GATT], now the WTO, and all of it was, in its most important parts, spying on allies.

And the State Department was supposed to get this type of information, the CIA would get it in its way - secretly, or through some kind of technical means, or through agents - so I just point that document out. That's twenty years ago, and they were doing it for twenty years before that.

Frank Morrow:

I would assume, then, that they would turn this information over to the corporations - the multi-national corporations?

Phil Agee:

That I can't be sure of. They would send it in to the analysts, and they would then be preparing reports for use within the government. In the commerce department, you know, and within the Whitehouse, and the National Security Council [NSC] and its staff, but the decision to turn it over to commercial companies, or multi-nationals is something which ... I can't really say that they did that then.

But we did help the multi-nationals in different ways from time to time.

My very first job in the CIA, after the training program, was to - I was assigned to the Latin American division, to the Venezuela desk - and my job - it was so boring - I had to do name checks. And a name check is where you get a name from, in this case Caracas, our office in Caracas in the Embassy, and you make a request for all the records on this particualar person, from the Records Integration Division, or RID, that's where the files were. And then you were looking for anything negative, politically negative, in other words, or derogatory.

It happened that these lists of names that I was getting every week, were given to us in Caracas by the Chief of Security of Creole Petroleum. And Creole Petroleum, you know, was the largest overseas subsidiary of Esso, or now Exxon - of Standard Oil of New Jersey, in other words.

And so we were performing this security check to help them keep politicial undesirables out of employment, because these were people who were prospective employees for Creole. And so we were doing these checks on Venezuelans, actually, and serving the interests of this enormous Standard Oil - Exxon, Esso - subsidiary abroad.

This is one example. And I can tell you when I got out of that job I was very happy, because it's just boring - as you can imagine - to try to go through all these different records and look for something that might be derogatory and then have to write it back and ... the first name I got was Jose Diaz, it didn't even have a date of birth, so you can imagine how many files I had on Jose Diaz! It's the most common name ...

Frank Morrow:

Like John Smith ... Well, this is when they say they are going to start doing economic intelligence now helping out the quote US unquote corporations, they've really been doing that all along, it's just taking the mask off of it, because everywhere the CIA has been making that particular country safe - and profitable - for the multi-national corporations and local 'elite'.

Phil Agee:

Yes, everything goes back to that, and as a matter of fact, this intervention abroad for 'stability', for the optimum operating conditions for US-based internationals is something that pre-dates even, certainly World War II. In some respects you could say it even pre-dates the Bolshevik Revolution, because it's more than one hundred years now that the leadership in this country has understood that there's no way to preserve the system in this country without foreign markets for surplus production, without foreign labor - cheap labor, and without the cheapest possible natural resources. And this is something which has been going on for one hundred years. All through the Cold War. So it is something that's going to continue for the future.

[ 11:25 ]

But in this economic and commercial area there have been two cases this year of operations that went bad.

One was in France, in February. When the French government caught the CIA trying to recruit people in the French government, for secret information on French negotiating positions within the World Trade Organization context. And they ordered five CIA people out of the country.

That was the news at that time, in February. Four of them - including the Chief of Station - were in the Embassy - under cover as diplomats, you know - and then there was a fifth one, a woman, who was outside the Embassy, she was under some non-official cover, I don't know what that was.

That was the news at that time. But then it comes out much later, just a few weeks ago, that as a result of this, and of the strong reaction of the French government, to this attempt to penetrate their government, the whole CIA operation in Paris, in France, was shut down. Including whatever they were doing against international terrorism, the narcotics trade, and so forth ... that's one case that went bad on them this year.

Another one that went bad, just a few weeks ago, was the leakage to the press - which was eventually confirmed, it's true - the CIA was spying on the Japanese negotiators last summer in the auto talks, you know. How we're tryng to get into their market and so forth.

And the CIA was monitoring the communications - I believe - of the Japanese negotiators and the appropriate ministry, and also of the companies themselves. So that our side, that's the Mickey Kantor [11] side, would have a better knowledge of what they would accept and what they wouldn't accept. And so this has soured relations with Japan also.

So when you get into this area of spying on your allies you're asking for a lot of trouble.

And whether they give that to the companies or not it's difficult to say. I can't tell you.

Frank Morrow:

Of course they've been doing this type - you're talking about the Japanese - they've been doing that type of monitoring communications for years, for decades. This is nothing new. I guess it just now came out.

Phil Agee:

Yes, and as I mentioned it goes back at least twenty years and then twenty years before that.

But one area that ought not to be forgotten is Cuba. Because there is a thirty-five year ecoomic blockade going against Cuba. Still. And there are those people who are trying to intensify this and broaden it still more, now.

[ Recorded November 1995 ]

The CIA, without the slightest doubt, has the requirement in every country, to report on any possible trade deals that Cuba may be interested in making, or investment in Cuba, now that the country has opened up. And the CIA has got to collect this infomation so that measures can be taken to sabotage these possible deals of interest and benefit to Cuba.

I was there last year and I was in a meeting being addressed by Roberto Robaina [12], he is the Foreign Minister - a very young, hip guy - and he was telling us that of every ten possible deals they have for investment in Cuba or for trade, the United States is able to squash nine. And so they know perfectly well that every move they make as they go around the world in trade negotiations, or in seeking investment for whatever in Cuba they are being followed and watched - under a microscope - so that some measure can be taken - it could be the [American] ambassador with the local government, it could be any way that they [the USA] can approach the person and put the pressure on.

There's a good example of this for you. The Soviets built a large petroleum refinery very near Cienfuegos [13], whch is the main city on the South Coast [of Cuba]. This was never put into operation before the collapse of the Soviet Union, and then there was a dimunition in trade, and the Cubans finally made a deal with the Ecudoreans, which are one of the principal exporting countries, and they were to bring the petroleum from Ecuador to Cuba, to this refinery, refine the products, and re-export them, leaving behind a certain part of the production to pay for the use of the refinery. This was going to be a great deal for Cuba, because they have an energy crisis that's terrible.

The United States was able to put the fist down on Ecuador, and it fell through.

So, the Cubans made a deal with the Venezuelans - because eventually they nationalized Creole and so its all a nationalized industry now. The Venzuelans then were going to bring their petroleum to this refinery and re-export, leaving surplus production behind for the Cubans.

The same thing happened. Bang. The Venezuelans had to withdraw.

So the Cubans went to the Mexicans, and the Mexicans resisted [the threats and coercion of the United States], and now they are putting it into operation.

So, it's not hopeless, but you see how the Untied States is going around in these areas of economics, and of trade, and of commerce, and finance to try to make the Cuban people suffer as much as they can.

And this is affecting. in a drastic way, very young children, and infants, and also the older [Cubans]. In other words the most vulnerable. And it is an eternal shame on the United States, in my opinion, that we would do such a thing to an entire country. Just because we don't like the system. Just because they won't come under our ... 'protection'. It's a kind of a mafia attitude, and it has been that way since Eisenhower.

[ 17:08 ]

Frank Morrow:

Well, that's capitalism.

Phil Agee:

It's also the United States and our tradition of being very nervous when we don't control something.

And when a country like Cuba slips out from under our control, after we had ruled it, practically, as a neo-colony or a protectorate for fifty-nine years or so, then it makes people nervous because they [in Washington] know that if the Cubans are successful in their example, of being able to provide - as a poor country - the best medical care in the 'third word' to the whole population, because it's an inclusionary system ...

It's not like we have here - where you have this huge bulk of the population marginalized, but there ...

If everybody can have adequate medical care, if the schooling is adequate for all - and remember Cuba has more doctors and more teachers per capita than any country in the world ...

And [if] they have succeeded in these areas, and it's all state supported, which means people don't have to put money out for the medical care or ... they of couse pay the cost as a society, but they don't have to pay at the hospital and so forth ...

And so that cannot be allowed to stand. It's a very bad example, for the United States, and for all the 'third world' people of the United States, after all we're becoming a third world country very fast, if [we're] not already, you know.

So there is a very large mass of people out there who can look at Cuba and say, 'Wow, if they can do it on a per capita income of 2000-2500 dollars a year, where ours is 22,500 dollars a year ... what's wrong with our system? Maybe we ought to consider an alternative.'

Frank Morrow:

That's why Nicaragua, the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, had to be destroyed.

[ 19:02 ]

Phil Agee:

Exactly. They were a bad example. And that's why Grenada had to be destroyed.

Because any movement that comes to power with the idea of providing for all the people and of escaping the control of the United States and its 'economy', let's say, the corporations and so forth, then that is bad news here in the United States in the upper circles of power and influence.

And so in Nicragua - I watched it from the very beginning, I was often there, and it was a very sad sight - to see the hopes at the beginning, and the euphoria with the overhrow of this US installed dictatorship from the 1930s on - Somoza - and all the hopes for expanding education, and the literacy program they adopted right at the beginning - it's similar to what the Cubans did - health as well as all those things ...

Cuban doctors were in there, they were setting up clinics all over, the international solidarity movement was just tremendous for Nicaragua, in those early years, and, naturally, the United States could not let that stand.

[ 20:12 ]

Frank Morrow:

And the economic system was working. They had the highest, the greatest expansion of their Gross National Product of any country in the Western Hemisphere at that time.

Phil Agee:

That's right. That was in the early years.

But then, you know, the CIA started to re-organize, using Argentine military officers who had worked in this ... really, it's hard to find words for the Argentines, for the 1970s the Dirty War [14] there ...

But these military people from Argentina were taken by the CIA and put to work in Honduras re-organizing the remnants of the Somoza National Guard. And then it became a huge terrorist operation.

As a matter of fact, by the end when the killing was stopping in the late 1980s they had killed something like 35,000 people. That's 1% of the population of Nicaragua. The comparable figure for the United States would be - what - 2.5 million people killed over an 8, 9 year period!

That's more than were killed in all the wars that the United States ever fought. I checked it out once. It would be a catastrophe! Can you imagine if something were to happen to this country where 2.5 million people were killed?

Well it means in Nicaragua that there is not family that was untouched. And they have a huge number of amputees, now, in Nicaragua. And a very large program for getting prosthetics for these people, because of the landmines that the Contras put around. And they still haven't gotten them all out of the ground.

[ 21:47 ]

Frank Morrow:

The same thing happened in Angola.

Phil Agee:

Exactly. Angola's got the very same problem. Well, you know, it's where the CIA goes, if it happens in one place it's gonna happen in another.

Frank Morrow:

The CIA more or less intimates that, well, they're out of the covert action business anymore. but I read recently where they're down in Chiapas helping the government fight the rebels there.

Phil Agee:

There's not a doubt in my mind that they're in Chiapas. They've been there since day one, I'm sure.

Mexico is just too important to the United States to leave it to the Mexicans. If you know what I mean. I was in Mexico with the CIA in the '60s, and they had a vast operation going there, and especially in their penetrations and work with the Mexican security services.

In fact it started with the president in Mexico, our operations. A very close relationship with three successive presidents : [Adolfo] López Mateos, [Gustavo] Díaz Ordaz [, and, three, Luis Echeverría?].

When it comes to Mexico and this Zapista movement [15], what they have to worry about is not just in Chiapas [16], of this armed force, the EZLN, but as an inspiration.

They triggered the development of a huge support network, a popular movement, all over the country, which has come together to support their demands. And their demands are really not outrageous at all ...

Frank Morrow:

No, they're not ...

Phil Agee:

... and the Zapatistas themselves, I could not believe this, that they say 'We do not want power.'

I mean that's the first guerrilla operation, I think, that has ever said that. The idea always was to take power. And then impose, or establish, or re-organize - do whatever you wanna do - but they say no, 'We just want to have democracy in this country, and we want to get the PRI [ Partido Revolucionario Institucional ] [17] out.' The PRI is, of course, so unpopular now, it's carrying on through its patronage system, it's been in power for a long time.

So in Mexico I think they have a much bigger problem than just the armed movement in Chiapas. It has spread all over the country and nobody can tell where this is going to lead.

The Zapatistas, you know, had this referendum, back in August and September, and they had it not only in Mexico. This was a referendum on a number of questions, on the direction in which the people would like to see the country move, and how they would like to see the Zapatistas themselves develop, whether they should convert themselves into an independent political movement.

And they had international people, I voted in the thing too, because I'm sitting over there in Germany every day reading over my computer the latest happenings in Chiapas and all over Mexico. So I'm naturally very interested and I voted on all these questions.

There were a whole series of questions. I think they had 80 or 100,000 people outside Mexico, who took part in this referendum. And there were several million in Mexico.

Frank Morrow:

Well did they send out questionnaires to people all around the country?

Phil Ageed:

In my case all the questions came through the computer, through the net. And I sent my vote back through the net.

And in Mexico they organized tables all over the country, and people went and voted on their preferences according to this list of questions.

So you can be very sure that the CIA is in there in a very big way, I imagine they're in there with Special Forces, of the United States Army, right in Chiapas. They're doing communications monitoring, I'm sure, of all the transmissions of the Zapatistas. Monitoring the people who come and go.

The Mexican Army has tried to put a ring around the area controlled by the EZLN, and it's a very fascinating scene to watch. But when you talk about - going back to your comment about covert action in the 1990s - there are some very interesting things that have come out.

For example, even though the Cold War is over, that does not mean the United States is going to settle for democracy in any particular country.

They never have. And the litany is quite long, you know, starting from the 1950s - of democratic processes - what is accepted here as legitimate electoral process, pluralistic political parties and so forth - when that goes against US interests, they don't care. I mean it's not a matter of principle for them. The principle is, 'What's good for us!'

Frank Morrow:

What's that famous remark that Kissinger made about the situation in Chile?

Phil Agee:

'We shouldn't [just] stand by because of the irresponsibility of the Chilean people.' [18] And at the same time then Nixon was telling the CIA to 'make the Chilean economy scream' [19].

[ 26:43 ]

What has happened now in the 1990s is ... in 1990, Bulgaria ...

The Bulgarian communist party, the former communists, they renamed themselves as the Bulgarian Socialist Party, and they won the 1990 elections, in the sense that they took 211 of the 400 seats in the parliament. Do you think that the United States accepted that?

All these international observers were there, from Western Europe and other places, and they all said this was absolutely free and fair, there was no fraud at all, that we could detect. But the United States didn't accept that.

And so, nowadays, instead of having just the CIA going around behind the scenes and trying to manipulate the process secretly by inserting money here and instructions there, and so forth, they have now a sidekick, which is this National Endowment for Democracy, [NED] [20].

And this orgnization dates from 1967. A lot of people don't realize [this], because it was just established in - I think 1983, or so - but the idea emerged from a series of scandalous revelations in 1967, the worst ones - to that point - to hit the CIA ...

And I was in headquarters at the time that these scandals broke and the gloom there was something you could touch, almost ...

Because what happened was, the long-running CiA manipulation of the international program of the National Students' Association in this country - which was the national organization of university students - came out, it was revealed.

And that led to revelations of a lot of other CIA operations, because they were using the same bogus and real foundations to channel money into all these different overseas organizations.

And I remember very well that Time magazine at the time, or Newsweek - I think it was Time - they published a wheel, with all these spokes, going out. The CIA was at the center, and then half-way out were all these foundations - American orgnizations - and then out at the end were the foreign groups that got the money, and the instructions, naturally. They don't give away money without being sure that it's spent the way they want it spent.

And so this was a catastrophe for the CIA, and the next month or the month after that - it started in February of 1967 - and then by April, I think it was, Dante Fascell [21], the congressman from Florida, was proposing the establishment of an open system to finance these overseas organizations.

And we're talking about some government organizations abroad, some political parties, some media organizations, youth organizations, and student organizations, all these kinds of so-called pluralist organizations - when in fact thaty were not really free organizations, because to the degree that they take money and instructions from the CIA, to that degree they are not free at all, right?

Anyway, Fascell came up with this idea, but it didn't go anywhere, because the so-called consensus between the two parties had broken down over Vietnam.

And so it wasn't until the early eighties - when Reagan made his speech in the House of Commons [22] about the democracy project worldwide [23] - that this began to take on steam again. Finally, they decided to copy the German example.

Each of the major German political parties has a foundation which is financed by the German government - before it was West Germany, now the whole country. For example, the Friedrich Eblert Stiftung [FES] [24] is the SPD, or the Social Democratic Party's, foundation. And they finance projects all over the place.

And for years in the '50s and '60s, and I would guess even into the '70s - in fact I know into the '70s and even to the early '80s - the CIA was channeling money through these German foundations abroad.

For example, some money - a lot of money, I think it was a million dollars or more, but I'm a little hazy on the amount - was CIA money that went through the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung [KAS] [25], the foundation of the CDU, that's the Christian Democratic Union.

It went from there to Evipo which is a foundation of the Copei [26], the Christian Democrats in Venezuela, and from there it went to the Christian Democrats in El Salvador [27], to Duarte [28] for use in the elections in - I've forgotten which year, maybe '84 or something like that - and it was traced. Some journalists did this. So that is the way they would use these German foundations in the past.

So now we've got our own. We don't have to use the Germans unless we really want to.

[ 31:17 ]

Because in 1984 we established this National Endowment for Democracy, which is nothing but a mega-conduit. The millions - or the tens of millions - that are set aside for the meddling in the internal affairs of other countries goes to this conduit, like a bank account or something - but they have a board of directors and they do reports and stuff like that - but then it goes from there to one of four private foundations

  1. the Democrtic Party,
  2. the Republican Party,
  3. the AFL-CIO, and
  4. the US Chamber of Commerce.

These groups, then, pass it out to recipients in foreign countries, and in the Nicaraguan elections of 1990, I believe the number was something like 12.5 million, that went from the National Endowment for Democracy through these conduits to the UNO [29] political movement there. It was the coalition of UNO, which was the most ungodly coalition that you can ever imagine,

Frank Morrow:

From Communists all the way to Somosistas ...

Phil Agee:

That's right ... and then they had a trade union front, which also received money, and then they had this civic asociation. The civic association, I think they call it Via Civica, there.

That's an old, old technique of the CIA, is to establish a type of civic organization which will be involved in monitoring elections and things like that. The first one that I know of was NAMFREL [National Movement for Free Elections] [30] in the Philippines.

They established that one around 1950-51 as part of the counter-insurgency against 'The Huks' [Hukbalahap] [31], the guerrilla movement of the time, because we wanted to have a vehicle for electing our man president of the Philippines.

And we did it through this organization, NAMFREL, it stands for National Association for Free Elections, I think ...

Frank Morrow:

Free elections ...

Phil Agee:

Yeah. Free elections. When we were financing them. NAMFREL was very successful. Our man - Ramon Magsaysay [32] - was elected president - I think it was '52,'53 - and unfortunately he was killed in a plane crash, '57.

So we then switched to Marcos and various other people like that.

But NAMFREL never faded away, and in 1986 - you remember the elections of 1986 which Marcos tried to steal - well, NAMFREL was alive and well, and they were the ones who denounced the fraud, by Marcos. They then inspired the movement of 'people-power' [33] which forced him to resign and brought Corey Aquino [34] in as president. So NAMFREL was alive and well.

[ 33:53 ]

They tried to copy it in Panama.

They sent the president of the chamber of commerce in the early '80s - '84, more or less - in preparation for the '87 elections, I think it was. They sent him out to Panama [sic, the Philippines?] to study the way NAMFREL worked. So he could come back to Panama and establish another one there. And so he did.

In Panama it was called La Cruzada Civica, or Civic Crusade, and this ws what was used against the Noriega [35] forces in the streets. It became a Rabe Blanca [?] there, you know the upper class white people in Panama. It was one of those organizations.

But they did take to the streets, and you can remember the pictures on the covers of the magazines, you know, when they had the riots and Noriega was not overthrown then.

They tried everything in Panama. The CIA was running candidates of its own all through the 1980s, trying to get Noriega out ... maybe not all through the '80s, no, his utility ended about '86,'87.

Frank Morrow:

He was working with the CIA ...

Phil Agee:

Yes. It was important for the Contra operation in Nicaragua, but by '87 everyone knew that the Contras were not going anywhere militarily. But Noriega's importance was in allowing Panama to be used for training them, and also for resupply.

But that was over by '87 and that's when the efforts began to get him aside ... leading to the invasion in '89. They were up to here in Panamanian politics, and I'm sure they [still] are, using these types of organizations. So the covert action operations go on.

As a matter of fact, not only in Bulgaria did they overturn this government. I didn't even finish that story ...

But what happened was that all this money from National Endownment for Democracy went in and they fomented student strikes and demonstrations, trade union strikes, massive street protests, and not only was the money put in by the National Endownment for Democracy but Paul Weyrich's [36] Free Congress Foundation [CSFC, Committee for the Survival of a Free Congress] [37] all got involved.

This is part of the Christian Right, don't you know. He's the man who runs all these Christian organizations out of the same address in Washington DC. This Free Congress Foundation also got going in there, I guess in coordination with what the CIA was doing, what the NED was doing, and so forth.

And so the elections were in June, the former communists had won, by the end of November they were out. Because they [CSFC, CIA, NED] made the country ungovernable.

In 1991 they did the same thing in Albania. They had elections there : free, fair, no fraud. The former communists won, the United States got in there through these different organizations - and the CIA, naturally - and they made Albania ungovernable.

Frank Morrow:

Chile, same thing ...

Phil Agee:

Chile same thing, Brazil in the early '60s same thing, we did - I did - we were doing the same thing when I was in Ecuador. In fact we had two coups. Two unconstitutional changes of government when I was there, and they were largely due to what we were doing.

And by the time I left after three years we had what we wanted : a four-man military dictatorship, that was carrying on a very strong repression against the left.

[ 37:04 ]

Frank Morrow:

What's the situation in Haiti now? That's a little bit different than say, Nicaragua, was.

Phil Agee:

Well Haiti is another example of a 1990s operation. Aristide [38], you know, elected with two-thirds of the vote in 1990, takes office in early 1991, he's thrown out in September. And there's strong, strong evidence that the CIA was pushing this.

Because Aristide is not the sort of man they are comfortable dealing with, you know.

Frank Morrow:

No. He wants to elevate the level of the common people, ordinary people, just like in Nicaragua ...

Phil Agee:

Exactly. He comes from Liberation Theology [39]. And that's always made the United States quite nervous.

Because in 1968 at the Medellin Bishop's Conference they made this ... what they call the Preferential Option for the Poor [40], and that was an historical turning point for the Catholic Church in Latin America. I mean, they'd already been doing very good things, certin people you know, some of the Jesuits, some of the others, and also doing awful things, like in the past, associating themselves with the oligarchies and so forth.

But '68. And this decision by the Bishop's Conference was really a major, major event and the Liberation Theology moved forward very fast after that through the Christian-based communities, you know, that they established all over Latin America. And these people were dedicated to achieving social justice, one way or another. And Aristide comes from that tradition.

So anything like that makes people nervous, because it means 'instability'. And i remember so well, all those years I was down there working with the CIA in Latin America, if there was one thing we wanted, and was our goal, it was ... 'stability'.

And just as important, I guess you could say, the second one is 'control'.

And that's not possible when you get a movement which is clamoring for reform, and Aristide was trying to help the poor of Haiti, and re-organize the society. That was his program, along the lines of social justice and so forth. And so, when that happens, it makes the United States very nervous, and they couldn't have it.

So they had to ask the generals to take over. Not only did they ask them to take over, but there're any number of reports - and I believe them - that the CIA was paying these generals running the military dictatorship over that three year period that killed four or five thousand people.

I don't know if you've been following Allan Nairn's reporting [41] in The Nation on Haiti, but he's doing wonderful, just wonderful work.

He broke a story, that of Emmanuel "Toto" Constant [42], who had been teaching on Liberation Theology in the National Intelligence Service, known as CIN [?], which the CIA established in '86 or '87 ['89 CISEN], as a national service to be used against the narcotics trade coming through Haiti and the Caribbean, that area - which in fact turned into a narcotics dealing organization, as they always do, or often do ...

But anyway,they set up CISEN and "Toto" was teaching on Liberation Theology, in CISEN ... on how bad it was, naturally, it was CISEN-ful.

And so he, then, is asked by the CIA and the DIA [DEA ?], who were working together there, after the coup, to form a - let's say a militant action force - to balance the forces of Lavalas [43] - that's the Aristide political movement. And so they founded the Front for the Progress of Haiti, or something like that ...

It was known as FRAPH [Front for the Advancement and Progress of Haïti] [44]. He organizes this thing and the CIA pays him to do it. And he's on the payroll, they're paying the expenses, and meanwhile these people are killing thousands of Haitians - all on Aristide's side, naturally. And it was just as dirty as you can imagine, and there we were, behind this.

And this is covert action of the 1990s.

It's not like rigging an election or something, it's worse than that in terms of human cost. And all of this has come out thanks to the digging of Allan Nairn, and the publication of his findings in The Nation magazine. So Haiti is one of those countries which the United States ...

You know, it's like rotten apple theory, Noam Chomsky talks about this all the time.

If you get one rotten apple in the barrel it's going to spread to all the others, so that's why they can't allow even a Haiti - as miserable as the country is - to re-organize for social justice. It's just another eternal shame on the United States, I guess.

[ 42:03 ]

But now that Aristide is back in, they're probably doing everything they can to defeat his forces. And it's not working.

Because in the elecions that just were held his party or his organization won the parliament going away. They are in control of parliament now, and there will be a presidential election coming up, perhaps - nobody seems to know because. There's a possibility he make take his extra three years and stay on, the decision hasn't been made yet.

But I think the CIA is going to stay in there in Haiti, they're going to stay in Mexico, they're going to do what they always did.

Communism never really was the problem, you know.

It was never the problem in Cuba. It did become a problem when the United States, the Eisenhower administration, decided to overthrow the revolution and turn the clock back to the Batista [45] days.

It did become a problem, because then the Soviets got in there, they got a base, they got troops, and the missle crisis, and all ... but that was in reaction.

That was all in reaction to United States aggression toward Cuba ...

Frank Morrow:

And our installing missles all over the world, aimed at the Soviet Union.

Phil Agee:

So, I think that in the 1990s, and beyond, we are going to see a lot more of this stuff that we've known in the past.

And one of the main reasons is that the United States is imposing this so-called neo-liberal economic project.

It also goes under different names such as 'free market' and so forth, but it results, without fail - and it's imposed by the IMF, you know, by the United States bi-laterally, and by the World Bank, all these organizations, the WTO, World Trade Organization - it is imposed and it means in every single case the marginalization of a great mass of the society in a foreign country.

These are - could be 10, 20, 40% of the population - who are redundant. They are 'not needed', they are 'superfluous', because the industry that develops and all the economic development leaves these people outside.

Just like that is happening now, in the United States. It's one of the reasons why the extreme right movement in the United States is growing so fast.

But that means that there is going to be resistance. And there will be people out there organizing - like the Zapatistas, for example, and others in Mexico - organizing to resist.

And that means that there is a role for the CIA. Just like there was when there were guerrillas operating in Bolivia, or wherever, there's a role for the CIA to collect intelligence on them, to penetrate them, divide, weaken, and destroy these forces.

So we're going to see this just like in the past. The 'communist menace' was a bogey anyway in Latin America, and lots of other places.

Just look what has happened with the communist countries - take China - big trading partner now.

Vietnam, they're getting in there to try to tap that 78 million person market.

And they'll be doing it eventually with Cuba.

But Cuba is special. They don't want to lose the idea of control in Cuba. And they have these Cuban exiles here, the Jorge Mas-es [46] of the day, who want to go in there and run the country. Take the Burger King and McDonalds franchises.

Frank Morrow:

And everywhere they go - you can tick off a list of these countries that have been subjected to these CIA covert actions and you can just see the trail of blood and of the horrible things that have happened to the people and the economy.

You look at Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Vietnam, Afghanistan ... Afghanistan is just absolute chaos, a mess ...

Phil Agee:

The a - what you call in Spanish sequelae - the aftermath of the Afghan intervention, is still going on today.

You read about it in the paper every single day, the numbers of people who have been killed there are astronomical, the number of refugees is way up there in the millions ... and all because of a movement which took control in the country, back in the '80s, and which was going to modernize Afghanistan.

They were going to change the status of women - who were until that time men's chattel - they were going to educate women to read and write. And Afghanistan at that time was living in the past, with just a few core sectors, you know, which had the education in the West and so forth, and the Agency got in there with the Chinese and the Pakistanis trying to support the oppostion to this social development program before the communists took over in Afghanistan, and before the Soviets intervened.

But, what is interesting to me is that in the aftermath, how many of these Arab volunteers - Afghanistan is not an Arab country but they had a lot of volunteers, Islamic fundamentalists, from the Arab countries, who went as volunteers to fight in Afghanistan.

In Afghanistan there were volunteers from Algeria, from Morrocco, all the way from North Africa, Egypt too, the Sudan, and other Arab contries - and they went there as volunteers - and they fought.

First they were trained in how to handle the weapons and so forth, in these camps provided by the CIA. And then they saw action on the front lines. Well, when it was over these - they're called Afghanis, in their home countries, because they had gone off as volunteers, even though they're from Arab countries - so these 'Afghanis', so-called Afghanis, went back and then they started to foment fundamentalist revolution in their own countries.

So you see what's happening in Egypt, or in Algeria, right now - this Algerian civil war has taekn 30 - 35,000 lives, they say - but this is being run - and some of the main forces there have served in Afghanistan - with a meal-ticket from the CIA, and the training, and so forth.

Same thing in Egypt with the so-called Islamic group there.

And of these people who were tried in New York - on the two cases, you know, one the World Trade Center bombing [47] and the other the conspiracy trials for the tunnels [48] in the ... yeah ... I think half of those were trained in Afghanistan.

So you see it's coming home to roost, this is a typical boomarang effect ...

The other one from Afghanistan is the great missile buy-back. Do you know about that one?

Frank Morrow:

No ...

Phil Agee:

Well ... in the early '80s the CIA gave about 1000 Stinger missiles to the Mujahadeen - those were the anti-communist forces backed by the United States in Pakistan [sic] and so forth.

They used about, I think they used about 250 of them. So there were 750 left over.

Frank Morrow:

Those are pretty sophisticated aren't they ?

Phil Agee:

Well they are shoulder-fired, heat-seeking ... and they were the missiles that turned the balance against the Soviets. That is, made the cost so high in terms of lost helicopters and jets and so forth, that they had second thoughts about continuing in Afghanistan. It was very effective.

But they only used about 250 of them - that's the figure that sticks in my mind, I've got it on paper somewhere - that meant that there were 750 left to get back. And naturally the Agency said, 'We'll take these back, thank you.' And the Afghanis said, 'Unh-unh. We're keepin' 'em. Forget it.' And so they disappeared.

And Bush [XLI], when he was president, I think it was '91 - '90,'91, maybe both years - he had to take tens of millions of dollars from his special contingency fund and give it to the CIA for buying them back in bazaars all over the place out there, where they were selling them.

They know that the Iranians got some. And the thought of course is the danger. The threat is that they are going to shoot down an American airliner. Or two. with these missles.

Then Carter - not Carter - Clinton, I'm getting my presidents mixed up -

Frank Morrow:

They're all the same, spineless bastards ...

Phil Agee:

... Clinton then, in the summer of his first year in office - which would have been '93 - he also had to put up 40 million, or something like that, to give the CIA, specially to buy back these missiles.

I haven't read, yet, how many they've been able to buy back, but they've got their people running around from one market to another trying to get in as many as possible.

And that's the sort of thing you run into when you get involved with these kinds of people.

I don't think they'll ever, probably, get them all back - because some are in the hands of the Iranians - but if they were so naive as to think they could go to these Mujahadeen in Afghanistan, 'Hi fellahs. We'll take the missiles back. Wouldja', please ' ...

[ 51:08 ]

Frank Morrow:

There's a final question. People say, 'Well, we need the CIA.'

Other people say we don't need the CIA.

Some people say the CIA should be disbanded because its hands are so bloody, but we do need to replace it with something else.

What's your opinion on that?

Phil Agee:

First let me say that, you know, there are committees on different levels looking into the current and future role of the whole United States intelligence community ... 'cause there's something like 12 organizations of which the CIA is only one. And they spend 28 billion dollars, I think, is the accepted figure for the overall community budget, of which the CIA gets about 3 billion.

And so that's a lot of money involved, and there's a joint Whitehouse/Senate committee, which Les Aspin was heading until he died, and they are to report in the coming months.

I think the House of Representatives has another committee going on it.

Groups outside government - like the Twentieth Century Fund - are also making their own studies - think tanks, in other words.

And so it's a period of transition and they are trying to come up with what the structure and mission of the intelligence organizations should be.

And I think it's realistic to say that, yes, we do need an intelligence service of some sort. There are legitimate targets out there which have to be taken into account, and I'm thinking about international terrorism, and I'm thinking about the international narcotics trade, I'm thinking of the problem of the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and chemical and biological weapons, weapons of mass destruction, in other words, and others.

So I think that there is certinly a need for an intelligence service - organization - no matter what you call it, and it doesn't have to be called the CIA - and the Moynihan plan of dividing the CIA between the Pentagon and the State Department, that still could be a solution - but we'll still have to have some clandestine collection.

And the point all these years has been to use intelligence collection to prevent war, especially by accident or miscalculation - and that was very important with the Soviet stand-off, you know.

Well, I think that the most important things that should be changed - and I don't have any hope, right now of changing these things - but the most egregious activities are the subversion, and overtherow of democratically elected civilian governments, and their replacement with military dictatorships of the highly repressive type, that institutionalize torture, and disappear people and so forth.

That is one thing that we should really try to eliminate, because its a disgrace on the United States.

The CIA's support to murderous security services around the world is another area that really should be looked into - and these most recent revelations on Guatemala, and the CIA connections with the murderers of the American, Michael Divine [49] and the husband of Jennifer Harbury [50], the American lawyer, that is indication that these types of support to these types of security services is continuing. It was happening from the '50s on, I was involved in those activities myself in the '60s. Those have got to be stopped.

And then, I would say the third area that really should be looked into is the general area of covert intervention into the affairs of other countries. And not just to overthrow, but to try to control and to manipulate their institutions of power whether it be the press, or women's organizations, or whatever.

And so this is my wish list.

But I don't have the slightest hope that it's going to happen because I think that all these CIA activities are a product of the domestic system in the United States. And until we've changed the domestic system in the United States - re-ordering the power structure here - then these things are going to go on.

Because they are needed by a very few in this country, few and powerful interests, and they are related very closely to the operations of multi-nationals abroad - US-based multi-nationals abroad.

But it is a period of transition right now, in the world-at-large. It is the largest and the most important periood of transition since the late 1940s and early '50s.

It's only a window of opportunity. Decisions are going to be made now about the use of the intelligence services and a lot of other international priorities and domestic priorities in the United States.

And I think that everybody who is concerned should be involved in this. But not alone, in concert with others. Because an individual- as in the trade union movement - an individual worker has no power at all, he can be fired and replaced at will. But if workers unite, in a trade union with strength, then they have power.

And the same thing goes on the political scene, or the cultural scene, or whatever other sector you may speak of.

And so that is why it is so important for people to be involved in groups, the group of choice.

And there are many activities out there to be engaged in, such as Solidarity with Cuba [51], to try to breakdown that blockade of 35 years. Or with Guatemala. So there is something out there for everyone, and we only have ourselves to blame if we don't take action now ...

[ to be continued ]

transcriber's notes

[9]Frank Morrow, The US Power Structure & the Mass Media, Ph.D dissertation, The University of Texas at Austin, 1984

“I don’t see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist because of the irresponsibility of its own people.”

Henry Kissinger, June 27, 1970

[19]“Make the Economy Scream”: Secret Documents Show Nixon, Kissinger Role Backing 1973 Chile Coup, Havana, 10 September, 2013
[41]see Allan Nairn, "Behind Haiti's Paramilitaries" and "He's Our S.O.B.," October 24 and 31, 1994