The CIA as a Terrorist Organization

In September 2001 President George W. Bush declared a "War on Terrorism" and vowed to destroy all terrorist organizations "with a global reach". For the good of both America and the rest of the world he should start with the largest international terrorist organization of them all his own CIA.

The concept of "terrorism" is not clear and there is no generally agreed upon definition of the term.  It is, however, a tactic, a means to a particular end.  A tactic can always be used, and is always a possible course of action for some group or other. Once this is understood it is clear that it is ridiculous to declare a "War on Terrorism" one cannot defeat a tactic. To declare a war on terrorism is to declare perpetual war (which, in fact, is the intention).

"Terrorism" is here taken to mean the practice of the deliberate inflicting (either directly or indirectly) of harm, injury, death and/or destruction upon a civilian target sufficient to cause horror, revulsion or despair among civilian populations and/or their political leaders, with the goal of causing those populations or political leaders to act in a way desired by the terrorists.

Terrorist action differs from military action in two respects:  (1) In military action the target is military (or provides direct support to the military), not civilian; in military action the military forces of some organization, usually (but not necessarily) a state, target the military forces (and supporting infrastructure) of an opposing organization, usually a state.  (2) In military action the aim is to destroy a particular military capability of the opposing side rather than to effect some political goal (though, of course, military action is usually conducted in support of some larger political strategy).

The distinction between terrorist and military action may not always be clear, for several reasons.

         The distinction between a military target and a civilian target may not be clear.  (A police station may be a military target or a civilian target depending on what activities its occupants are engaged in.)

         The goal of a particular militant action may be partly military and partly political, and although these aims may usually be distinguished when the instigator is a state, using its military forces, they may become blurred when the instigator is a non-state entity such as a resistance group.

         The judgement as to what is terrorist activity and what is military activity may depend on who is making the judgement. This is usually the case when there is violent opposition by the inhabitants of some territory to the unwanted control or occupation of that territory by some external entity, usually a state (as in the West Bank, the Basque region, Kashmir, etc.).  Militant groups among the population of the occupied territory may carry out attacks against both military and civilian targets of the occupying power, attempting to persuade the occupying power to cease its occupation and withdraw control. From the point of view of the occupying power such groups are composed of "terrorists", but from the point of view of the inhabitants of the occupied territory they are "freedom fighters" militant groups engaged in armed conflict with an occupying enemy state (Israel, Spain, India, etc.). Thus arises the saying, "One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter." Actually, as Noam Chomsky has pointed out, the distinction is quite simple: If they do it, it's terrorism; if we do it then it's counter-terrorism (and so OK).

This is the excuse that Israel gives for its terrorism directed against the Palestinian people. When Palestinians detonate explosives strapped to their bodies in the streets of Tel Aviv filled with Israeli shoppers it is terrorism. When Israelis fire missiles from helicopter gunships into streets in Gaza filled with frightened Palestinians it is counter-terrorism. So if acts of reprisal against violence directed at civilians is "counter-terrorism" then acts of reprisal against those acts of reprisal is "counter-counter-terrorism". And if counter-terrorism is OK (a reply to acts of violence) then surely so is counter-counter-terrorism. The same excuse that the Israelis give for their terrorism could also be used to excuse the Palestinians.

That CIA was created just after the end of World War II (from an OSS riddled with Nazis) by an act of Congress (and Congress can eliminate it in the same way). Its official purpose is to function primarily as an intelligence-gathering organization (at least, that's what we are supposed to believe) but in fact it has always been something different from that.

The CIA is not now nor has it ever been a central intelligence agency. It is the covert action arm of the President's foreign policy advisers. In that capacity it overthrows or supports foreign governments while reporting "intelligence" justifying those activities. It shapes its intelligence, even in such critical areas as Soviet nuclear weapons capability, to support presidential policy. Disinformation is a large part of its covert action responsibility, and the American people are the primary target of its lies.  Ralph McGehee, Deadly Deceits

The CIA has been a terrorist organization from its beginnings, when it included a large number of former Nazis former members of the Gestapo and the Nazi military intelligence (such as Reinhard Gehlen). Unlike smaller terrorist organizations such as ETA the CIA does not normally engage in terrorism by sending its employees to plant bombs, etc.  Rather, it tends to act through intermediaries and agents, sometimes making use of U.S. military personnel.

That the CIA is a terrorist organization is clear from its record of terrorist activities (sometimes called "counterinsurgency" or "low intensity conflict").  Here are just a few examples:

         During the Vietnam war the CIA conducted Operation Phoenix, an assassination program. The goal was not only to eliminate those Vietnamese who might oppose the U.S. (which in practice meant most of the population of Vietnam) but also to terrorize the entire population of South Vietnam and to suppress opposition to the occupying U.S. forces. Over 20,000 Vietnamese were murdered, often at random.

         The CIA also recruited a mercenary army in Vietnam (financed by profits from the CIA's heroin smuggling), particularly from among the Hmong villagers, which was used to terrorize the civilian population and to prevent them from assisting the Viet Cong.

         The CIA organized and financed (with the profits from its cocaine smuggling) the activities of the Contras in Nicaragua, who murdered tens of thousands of civilians, and tried to disrupt the economy, in an attempt to destabilize the legitimate Sandinista government. (For this the U.S. was condemned in the World Court for engaging in international terrorism, and it rejected a U.N. security council resolution calling upon it to observe international law.)

         The CIA planned and organized the military coup d'etat in 1973 in Chile which overthrew the legitimately elected government of Salvador Allende (because he would not implement economic policies designed in Washington to favor American corporations doing business in Chile) and brought to power the regime of General Augusto Pinochet; this regime abducted, tortured and killed thousands of Chilean citizens in an attempt to suppress opposition.

         The CIA organized and supported the Turkish government's persecution of its Kurdish minority during the 1990s, resulting in tens of thousands of deaths and millions of refuges; the aim being the suppression of Kurdish culture and the elimination of Kurdish demands for a separate state.

         The September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon are widely regarded as terrorist acts. There is evidence of CIA involvement. See Michael Ruppert's Suppressed Details of Criminal Insider Trading Lead Directly into the CIA's Highest Ranks.

Further examples could very easily be given (and may be found documented in the many books, magazine articles and web pages about the CIA). Much relevant information will be found in Ralph McGehee's CIA Support of Death Squads, which gives details about the CIA's terrorist activities in over forty countries.

It's not that the CIA is a rogue organization, out of control. The CIA implements the policies of the President of the United States. The CIA carries out unofficial U.S. government policy. That the CIA is a terrorist organization implies that the United States is a terrorist state. Considering the millions of deaths that the U.S. has caused and the enormous suffering that its international policies produce, its hypocrisy in condemning other countries as "terrorist states" would be ludicrous if it were not so tragic.

         Noam Chomsky: Is the U.S. a Terrorist State?

         Chris Floyd: Into the Dark: The Pentagon Plan to Provoke Terrorist Attacks

         Ben C. Vidgen: A State of Terror

         Jim Marrs: An Overview of The War on Terrorism

         William Blum: Myth and denial in the War on Terrorism

         American State Terrorism: A Critical Review of the Objectives of U.S. Foreign Policy in the Post-World War II Period

         Michel Chossudovsky: Bush appoints a Terrorist as US Ambassador to Iraq

         Nick Possum: The Nicholas Berg Execution

Last modified: 2004-06-05 CE

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