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A Conversation With Victor Marchetti I Was A Spook For The CIA

A Conversation With Victor Marchetti I Was A Spook For The CIA image A Conversation With Victor Marchetti I Was A Spook For The CIA image
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by Michael Castleman

Ed. note: Victor Marchetti was the Assistant to the Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, a top official in "The Company. " Today he is a refugee from the Agency, and one of a small but growing number of defectors from the Intelligence Establishment who are willing to reveal how the CIA and FBI, among other Agencies, spy on the world, and on Americans at home. Marchetti's book, CIA: Cult of Intelligence is the only book in U.S. history to be subjected to pre-publication censorship - over 100 passages were deleted front the final manuscript at the insistence of the CIA, and haunting black spaces pepper the text. Marchetti and another ex-Agent, Philip Agee, author of CIA: Inside the Company (not available in the U.S., but sold in Windsor, Canada) have been instrumental in exposing the lawless practices of the CIA. These books plus the recent revelations concerning the CIA 's "destabilization" of Allende's Chile, and its domestic spy apparatus have led to numerous articles in the press, the Rockefeller Commission -a continuing cover-up of CIA activities, and one potentially fruitful Congressional investigation by Sen. Church's Committee. Mr. Marchetti spoke in Ann Arbor as part of the Political Crisis Symposium along with Dong Porter from the Organizing Committee for a Fifth Estate which publishes the Journal Counterspy. The following article is excerpted from taped remarks and interviews with Marchetti and Porter.

Víctor Marchetti, a cherub-faced, middle aged man, greeted the FBI and CIA agents in the audience when he spoke at Rackham Auditorium on April 13. He spoke about his controversial book: "You can see the passages they cut out. The Government says this secrecy - in my case, this censorship - is invoked only to keep the Enemy from knowing how we spy on them. That's just not true. Ex-Agents have already revealed much of the supportive detail they cut from my book. The real reason for secrecy is to keep the American people in the dark. That's why they're fighting so hard to keep Agee's book from being published here. I doubt that the KGB will learn anything new from Agee's book. I'm sure they have already read it. People al! over the world have read it. Brezhnev and Mao could have read it by now if they wanted to. But you can't. They won't let you. Why won't they let their own people read what the Enemy has already read? Who are they keeping the information secret from, but us?

"They said my book would damage the national security. I think it would help what I think is the national security. Look: the former head of Clandestine Services for the CIA once said that five days after a certain project began, the Soviets knew about it. They knew; we knew they knew; and they knew that we knew they knew. It was no secret between the CIA and the KGB (the Russian CIA). But still they kept us in the dark. Here's an example of the CIA and the KGB in effect cooperating to keep information from their respective publics.

"But they don't want you to know how they operate because then it's a simple connection between CIA operations overseas and FBI/CIA work here at home. Anything they do abroad, they do here, too. They don't want you to know they've got a Domestic Operations Division, which goes against the CIA's Congressional Charter. (Ed. Note: Several local residents spent years of their lives as fugitives and/or prisoners for allegedly bombing the Ann Arbor CIA office in 1968.) Now they're trying to get a National Secrets Law passed to prevent anyone who ever works for the Government from ever revealing any classified information. Then they'll never have to crack down on the press. If the Government controls all information about the Government, then they simply hand the press pre-packaged press statements and you hear only what they want you to hear."

Like every bureaucracy, especially Government bureaucracies, cover-up is the reflex reaction to any expose. The CIA has not suspended covert activities since the recent exposes about its dirty tricks. It has just gone deeper underground. Marchetti remarked: "As far back as 1968, Richard Bissell, once head of Clandestine Services gave a secret talk to the Council on Foreign Affairs. He recommended using more legitimate businesses as deep covers for CIA operations. That was six years ago, before any of the recent revelations. The cancer is spreading. When you discover ex-CIA guys working as public safety advisors to the governors of major states, I can't believe they've severed all ties with the Agency. And now with the changes in Cambodia and Vietnam, a lot of agents will have to be reassigned to South Africa, Portugal, and right here at home in our communities..."

According to Marchetti, the CIA is really two Agencies in one. It was chartered in 1947 by Congress to gather and analyze intelligence information, and to make recommendations about policy options to the President and his advisors. "Truman wanted an organization to digest information for him. But Allen Dulles and people from the OSS (the U.S. spy agency during World War II) wanted a clandestine service and a loop-hole was added to the Charter authorizing the CIA to carry out "special assignments" for the National Security Council. That loophole has become the real CIA, the dangerous two-thirds of the iceberg, the part that sinks governments, like Chile, like Iran, the espionage service, dirty tricks, propaganda, falsification of documents."

On paper the CIA employs 16-18,000 people on a budget of $750 million per year. Actually, the budget is far higher because the CIA owns and runs many proprietary companies around the world which make money, like Air America, the airline involved in the heroin trade in Southeast Asia. Then there's the Alumni Association that links perhaps as many as 100,000 people into the intelligence net: "People all over are friends and allies of the Company. There are 60 Federal agencies engaged in intelligence work of one kind or another - many have ex-CIA people in them. There are secretaries who quit the Agency and become secretaries in college towns. They're recruited to date certain students and to report on them. There are old friends who've been out of the Agency for fifteen, twenty years who rent "safe houses" to CIA dirty tricksters. My old father says: 'Them CIA guys are all over, like horseshit.'"

Marchetti described the CIA as the secret weapon of the President. "Every President wants the CIA. It's a wonderful tool: lots of talent, money, connections, assets all over the world. It can carry out secret plans discreetly, most importantly, without the knowledge of Congress. That's why every President has lied to cover up for the CIA. Kissinger lied. Publicly he denied any CIA involvement in the overthrow of Allende. Privately, in the National Security Council, he said, 'I see no reason why Chile should be allowed to go communist because of the irresponsibility of its own people.' The peoples of the world cannot choose their own forms of government - Kissinger dictates it secretly.

"Congress is totally ignorant of the CIA's operations. So is the American public. As long as you're ignorant you have no power to force accountability. You're gullible. They can fool you with their misinformation propaganda: they smear people in the foreign press, it comes here on the wire services, and you believe it. Like in 1954 they called Jacobo Arbenz, President of Guatemala, a communist simply because he wanted to give land to the poor. Then people believe it when the CIA calls him a threat to our national security and overthrows him. What kind of threat? What could he do - bomb us with bananas?!"

The CIA has long been a powerful tool in U.S. economic domination of Third World countries. Guatemala is a succinct example: Jacobo Arbenz was a socialist-leaning nationalist, freely elected President of Guatemala in 1954. He initiated a modest agrarian reform plan that would have nationalized unused plantation land held by the United Fruit Co. (Chiquita Bananas). The law offices of then Secretary of State John Foster Dulles had drafted the 1930 and 1936 agreements between United Fruit and Guatemala. Then-Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs John Moore Cabot was a major shareholder in United Fruit. Then-CIA Director Alien Dulles (John Foster's brother) was a former President of United Fruit Co. And Dulles' predecessor as CIA Director was General W.B. Smith, who later became a Vice President of United Fruit in 1955. The CIA overthrew Arbenz and installed a President who would not threaten United Fruit Co.

Iran, which today is the kingpin political force in the Mideast power equation, has been a CIA subsidiary for over 20 years. In 1953 Iran's Premier Mossadeq angered U.S. and British oil interests because he threatened to nationalize foreign oil holdings and steer a neutralist course in the Cold War. The CIA dispatched Kermit Roosevelt to overthrow Mossadeq, and replaced him with the present Shah of Iran, a staunch anticommunist, and ally of U.S. (read: the Oil Companies ) economic interests. Kermit Roosevelt later became a Vice President for Gulf Oil Corp., which has extensive holdings in Iran. Today, the U.S. ambassador to Iran is Richard Helms, longtime Director of the CIA who made his name in Clandestine Services.

The CIA is now claiming that people like Marchetti and Agee have deeply damaged the Agency's ability to function because trusted contacts are no longer so trusting of the ClA's ability to preserve their cover. Marchetti commented: "Any damage is overstated. The overseas Stations of the CIA all have official covers but the host governments and the KGB know who's who. The revelations might make it a bit harder for the Clandestine Services to operate which I think is great. But all this noise about 'damage to the Agency'

continued on page 21

"On paper the CIA employs 16-18,000 people on a budget of $750 million per year. Actually, the budget is far higher because the CIA owns and runs many companies around the world, like Air America, the airline involved in the heroin trade in S.E. Asia "- Victor Marchetti

photo caption: Doug Porter, from the Organizing Committee for a Fifth Estate, and Victor Marchetti, author of CIA: Cult of Intelligence
photo: Barbara Weinberg

I Was A Spook For The CIA

continued from page 15

is a cover-up. Now they can blame their ineptness on guys like Agee and me. See, few people know this, but the KGB has made monkeys out of the CIA over the years. The only thing the CIA is really good at is manipulating people, mostly bribing people in the Third World. But the revelations won't in any way damage the CIA's most important and, I feel, legitimate function, the collection and analysis of data and policy options. I worked in analysis, and for a lot of the problems I worked on like Russian ICBM's, the Clandestine Services weren't worth a pinch of rabbit shit."

If the CIA lies to the public and engineers our confusion, how does it handle information within the Agency? Marchetti: "Mostly on a need to know basis. Once I had lunch with the Director of Intelligence, the head of the entire data analysis section, and I was appalled at how little he knew about the rest of the Agency. He knew nothing about the Clandestine side. People deceive each other in the Agency constantly. They lie all the time; it's one big con game. Then you start believing your own lies. For instance, the CIA doesn't kill people, directly, that is. It hires others to do its dirty work. Then it deludes itself into thinking it's not involved. I was conned by the Agency on a lot of things. Since I've gotten out, I've learned a number of things I never would have believed while inside. Agee was conned. His superiors would tell him he was supplying great information, but I knew that most of it went right into the trash."

According to Marchetti, anything the CIA does in other countries, the FBI/CIA are doing in the U.S. against mostly black nationalists and the Left. Doug Porter spoke about domestic spy operations: "People always used to think the FBI was out there stopping counterfeiting and fighting crimes. It isn't. Mostly it keeps files on people like us. In March 1971, a group called the People's Commission to Investigate the FBI broke into the FBI offices in Media, Pa., and stole everything that wasn't nailed down - all the files. Only 1% of the files dealt with organized crime. 45% dealt with petty crime, while 40% dealt with political activity. But, we shouldn't be surprised that J. Edgar Hoover never acted to stop organized crime - he only recognized its existence as a threat in the '60s and reluctantly then. He had friends who were involved in organized crime, and every year he was off to bet the ponies in San Diego at a track that's been owned by Mafia families for years."

"Hoover's basic mission was always to smash the Left. He made his name in the anti-communist Palmer Raids in 1920."

"So we shouldn't be surprised by FBI programs like COINTELPRO. Cointelpro - the word comes right out of 1984 - means counter-intelligence program. The first cointelpro was directed at infiltrating the American Communist Party, CPUSA. By 1960, one out of every 5.7 members was an FBI informant."

"Cointelpro in the '70's has been directed against black groups. The program has five goals: to prevent coalitions of black groups, to prevent the rise of a "black messiah," to prevent black nationalist violence, to prevent black nationalism from gaining respectability, and to stop the growth of the black movement. So, in light of this program, is it a coincidence that Malcolm X was assassinated, that Martin Luther King was smeared as a communist sympathizer and then killed?"

Ironically, any police agency which is supposed to suppress a subversive movement develops a vested interest in the preservation of an active subversive threat. If the threat disappeared, so would the police job. Porter noted that during the late '50s, after the CPUSA had been decimated by McCarthyism and infiltrated by the FBI, the Party newspaper, the Daily Worker fell on hard times. According to Porter, the CIA bought several thousand subscriptions to keep the paper afloat.

The FBI-maintains close ties to many right wing terrorist groups. This is similar to the film "Z" where right wing generals funded para-military terrorists who attacked the Left. These liasons are maintained by the FBI Office of Special Operations, a Bureau division the FBI does not like to talk about. Porter outlined the activities of the Secret Army Organization, a rightist para-military group which terrorized leftists and anti-war people in the San Diego area. Porter: "They had some interesting plans when the 1972 Republican National Convention was slated for San Diego. They were going to fill drone planes with phosphorus and drop it on the demonstrators around the convention hall, burn them like in Vietnam. Well, it turned out that the number 2 man in the SAO was a paid FBI informant, and that all their ammunition and 80% of their budget came directly from the FBI."

Just as the FBI works with the domestic Right when their interests coincide, sometimes the CIA will ally with the KGB when U.S. -Soviet interests coincide. According to Marchetti: "Sure, they're competitive, and they try to screw each other, but they share a community of interests, too. They exchange information on the Khemer Rouge and the Middle East. In the Mideast, both the U.S. and the Soviets have basically imperialist interests. The Palestinians are the fly in the ointment for both of them, so CIA and KGB are going all out to screw the Palestinians..."

Victor Marchetti was recruited into the CIA by an Agency contact who was a college professor of his in 1955. He spent a year training for the Clandestine Services, but worked his way up in the Agency in the more open Research and Analysis Sector, until he was the assistant to the number two man in the CIA. What turned him around? Marchetti: "Accumulated things. There was no bolt of lightning that changed my mind. I was impressed with the Civil Rights Movement, and after a while I was impressed with some of the anti-war movement. Vietnam really turned me off - dumbest thing I ever saw. The Intelligence Section of the CIA was one of a very few Government Agencies that opposed the War. But the Clandestine Services didn't agree. Helms was the Director; he was an old Clandestine man. In fact, he'd come into morning meetings and say: 'The President is tired of all this gloom and doom stuff.' He'd scold the analysts: 'Tell us how we're winning over there.' Anyway, I was a scout leader and my scouts grew up. They'd come see me with their long hair, and say they were pacifists, and that the war was criminal. Our national priorities just seemed more and more ass backwards to me. At the same time I came to see the CIA as incapable of reforming itself, incapable of anything but the clandestine mentality - especially since the White House didn't want it to change. So, at some point the only alternative left was to go outside the Agency."

Both Marchetti and Porter believe that the CIA has been infiltrated by the KGB. According to Porter, there has been infiltration at very high levels which will be made public soon. Porter: "I think it's great! It destroys the myth of invulnerability." Marchetti agrees: "I do believe it has happened, though I can't pinpoint any instances. But, you know, some guys accidentally choke to death on a fishbone... Infiltration is one of the things the CIA would cover up the most since it discredits the Agency's mystique."

Marchetti was asked why he had not accidentally choked on a fishbone. "I think Helms felt my case could be handled more diplomatically. He knew me - they all did. They pestered me about my novel, The Rope Dancer. They didn't like it, but they didn't insist on any changes. They dispatched the Deputy Director to make me promise they could see the manuscript of my next book, The Cult of Intelligence, before I sent it off, so that we could negotiate our differences. But then with the censorship thing, the case began to generate publicity and the publicity protected me. But they were paranoid. I know of a White House Tape: Conversation with the President about Víctor Marchetti. Ellsberg's case was happening then, and see, they knew about Agee. I didn't find out about Agee until later."

"I feel there's a rebirth of democracy in America," Marchetti concluded. "And it's fitting that it happens at the time of the bicentennial. It's even more fitting that the Nixon people behind the big bicentennial push were a bunch of crooks trying to use it for their own advantage, and that these people were foiled. I see people reexamining institutions like the CIA and FBI that were once sacrosanct. The CIA is not only an Agency - it's an attitude of secrecy and cover-up, and attitude held by big business, big labor, many academies, and the media. All the people who believe in CIA-type goals will use CIA methods. Now, for the first time, Congress may get off its can with the Church Committee and begin to exercise its proper watchdog function over the Agency. But the CIA is fighting this very hard. The Committee has been swamped with supposedly ex-Agency people who want to work for the Committee. And the CIA has a lot of muscle on Capitol Hill. But hopefully, the investigation will open the CIA to public scrutiny. Hopefully, we can make the Government more responsive to all the people, not just those with power and special interests."

"Cointelpro- the word comes right out of 1984- means counter-intelligence program. The first cointelpro was directed at infiltrating the American Communist Party. By 1960, one out of every 5.7 members was an FBI informant." - Doug Porter