John Stockwell, the Former Chief of Angola’s CIA Task Force, Publishes ‘In Search of Enemies’ – an Exposé of the CIA’s Covert Action in Angola

According to Bob Baer, writing in the Pacific Free Press:

What Stockwell had seen as an operative in Africa and across the Third World was a CIA that was purely interventionist – not gathering intelligence, but brutally machinating, vicious, a secret weapon of US presidents and White House policymakers to battle the Soviets for world control. CIA paramilitary operations through proxy forces – the funding of mercenaries, terrorists, saboteurs – were, reported Stockwell, “all illegal,” their goal to “disrupt the normal functioning, often the democratic functioning, of other societies”.

In In Search of Enemies Stockwell outlines his reasons for disillusion with the CIA:

The disclosures about the plot to poison Patrice Lumumba struck me personally in two ways. First, men I had worked with had been involved. Beyond that, Lumumba had been baptised into the Methodist Church in 1937, the same year I was baptised a Presbyterian. He had attended a Methodist mission school at Wembo Nyama in the Kasai Province of the Belgian Congo (Zaire), while I attended the Presbyterian school in Lubondai in the same province. The two church communities overlapped. My parents sometimes drove to Wembo Nyama to buy rice for our schools. American Methodist children were my classmates in Lubondai. Lumumba was not, in 1961, the Methodists’ favourite son, but he was a member of the missionary community in which my parents had spent most of their adult lives, and in which I grew up.

There were other disclosures which appalled me: kinky, slightly depraved, drug/sex experiments involving unwitting Americans, who were secretly filmed by the CIA for later viewing by pseudoscientists of the CIA’s Technical Services Division. For years I had defended the CIA to my parents and to our friends. “Take it from me, a CIA insider,” I had always sworn, “the CIA simply does not assassinate or use drugs…”

But worse was to come. A few short months after the CIA’s shameful performance in Vietnam, of which I was part, I was assigned to a managerial position in the CIA’s covert Angola program. Under the leadership of the CIA director we lied to Congress and to the 40 Committee, which supervised the CIA’s Angola program. We entered into joint activities with South Africa. And we actively propagandised the American public, with cruel results – Americans, misguided by our agents’ propaganda, went to fight in Angola in suicidal circumstances. One died, leaving a widow and four children behind. Our secrecy was designed to keep the American public and press from knowing what we were doing – we fully expected an outcry should they find us out.

About the Author

John R. Stockwell (1937- ), who lived in Africa for ten of his early years, is a graduate of the University of Texas and an alumnus of the U.S. Marine Corps where he served as a major. After twelve years as a CIA officer, he resigned from the agency on April 1, 1977. He became a critic of United States government policies after serving in the Agency for thirteen years serving seven tours of duty. He was hired by the CIA in 1964, spent six years working for the CIA in Africa, and was later transferred to Vietnam. In 1973 he received the CIA’s Medal of Merit, the Agency’s second-highest award. In 1975, Stockwell was promoted to the CIA’s Chief of Station and National Security Council coordinator. As Chief of the Angola Task Force he managed covert activities during the first years of Angola’s bloody civil war. After two years he resigned, determined to reveal the truth about the agency’s role in the Third World. Since that time, he has worked to expose what he sees as the criminal activities of the CIA.

In 1980, Stockwell said that“if the Soviet Union were to disappear off the face of the map, the United States would quickly seek out new enemies to justify its own military-industrial complex.” His words proved to be prophetic, as the fizzling out of the Cold war was quickly followed by a rebooting of the “War on Terror”. (Wikispooks)

Excerpts (via ThirdWorldTraveler)

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Author’s Note

In December 1976 I advised my boss in the CIA’s Africa Division of my intention to resign. For his own reasons, he urged me to take several months leave to reconsider. Making it clear I would not change my mind, I accepted his offer of several more pay checks and took three months sick leave.

I did not tell anyone I planned to write a book. In fact, I had no great confidence in my ability to write. I had been an operations officer-an activist-for the past dozen years in the CIA.

What about the oath of secrecy I signed when I joined the CIA in 1964? I cannot be bound by it for four reasons: First, my oath was illegally, fraudulently obtained. My CIA recruiters lied to me about the clandestine services as they swore me in. They insisted the CIA functioned to gather intelligence. It did not kill, use drugs, or damage people’s lives, they assured me. These lies were perpetuated in the following year of training courses. It was not until the disclosures of the Church and Pike Committees in 1975 that I learned the full, shocking truth about my employers.

I do not mean to suggest that I was a puritan or out of step with the moral norms of modern times; nor had I been squeamish about my CIA activities. To the contrary, I had participated in operations which stretched the boundaries of anyone’s conscience. But the congressional committees disclosed CIA activities which had previously been concealed, which I could not rationalize.

The disclosures about the plot to poison Patrice Lumumba struck me personally in two ways. First, men I had worked with had been involved. Beyond that, Lumumba had been baptized into the Methodist Church in 1937, the same year I was baptized a Presbyterian. He had attended a Methodist mission school at Wembo Nyama in the Kasai Province of the Belgian Congo (Zaire), while I attended the Presbyterian school in Lubondai in the same province. The two church communities overlapped. My parents sometimes drove to Wembo Nyama to buy rice for our schools. American Methodist children were my classmates in Lubondai. Lumumba was not, in 1961, the Methodists’ favorite son, but he was a member of the missionary community in which my parents had spent most of their adult lives, and in which I grew up.

There were other disclosures which appalled me: kinky, slightly depraved, drug/sex experiments involving unwitting Americans, who were secretly filmed by the CIA for later viewing by pseudoscientists of the CIA’s Technical Services Division.

For years I had defended the CIA to my parents and to our friends. “Take it from me, a CIA insider,” I had always sworn, “the CIA simply does not assassinate or use drugs . . .”

But worse was to come. A few short months after the CIA’s shameful performance in Vietnam, of which I was part, I was assigned to a managerial position in the CIA’s covert Angola program. Under the leadership of the CIA director we lied to Congress and to the 40 Committee, which supervised the CIA’s Angola program. We entered into joint activities with South Africa. And we actively propagandized the American public, with cruel results-Americans, misguided by our agents’ propaganda, went to fight in Angola in suicidal circumstances. One died, leaving a widow and four children behind. Our secrecy was designed to keep the American public and press from knowing what we were doing-we fully expected an outcry should they find us out.

The CIA’s oath of secrecy has been desecrated in recent years, not by authors-Philip Agee, Joe Smith, Victor Marchetti, and Frank Snepp – but by the CIA directors who led the CIA into scandalous, absurd operations. At best, the oath was used to protect those directors from exposure by their underlings, although the directors themselves freely leaked information to further their operational or political ploys.

Their cynicism about the oath, and their arrogance toward the United States’ constitutional process, were exposed in 1977, when former director Richard Helms was convicted of perjury for lying to a Senate committee about an operation in Chile. Helms plea-bargained a light sentence-the prosecutors were allegedly apprehensive that in his trial many secrets would be revealed, blowing operations and embarrassing establishment figures. After receiving a suspended sentence, Helms stood with his attorney before television cameras, while the latter gloated that Helms would wear the conviction as a “badge of honor.” Helms was proud of having lied to the Senate to protect a questionable CIA operation, but to protect his own person, secrets would have been exposed.

Faced with a similar choice in the Angolan program-my loyalty to the CIA or my responsibilities to the United States’ Constitution – I chose the latter. The CIA’s oaths and honor codes must never take precedence over allegiance to our country. That is my second reason for disregarding the oath.

Even with those two reasons, I would not have undertaken to expose the clandestine services if I felt they were essential to our national security. I am persuaded they are not. That is what this book is about.

In discussing our foreign intelligence organ, we consistently confuse two very different offices, referring to both as “CIA.” The one, technically called the Central Intelligence Agency’s Deputy Directorate of Information, fulfills the mission outlined in the National Security Act of 1947, of centralizing all of the raw intelligence available to our government, collating it, analyzing it for meaning and importance, and relaying finished reports to the appropriate offices. Had such an office existed in 1941 we would have been forewarned of Pearl Harbor. The DDI is overt-its employees are openly “CIA” to friends, relatives, neighbors, and creditors; it is passive; and it is benign, without aggressive activity which can harm anyone.

Otherwise, we say “CIA” meaning the clandestine services of the Deputy Directorate of Operations. This organization of about 4,500 employees is also housed in the CIA headquarters building in Langley, Virginia. Anything but benign, its operatives have for thirty years recruited agents (spies) and engineered covert action operations in virtually every corner of the globe.

I was a field case officer of the clandestine services, and by December 1976, when I announced my resignation, I was persuaded that at the very least those services needed a major reform.

Before I decided to resign and write a book I considered the options for working within the CIA for reforms. The prospects were not encouraging. The isolation of the intelligence business provides management with extraordinary leverage over the rank and file. While the CIA benevolently protected and supported officers who had been rendered ineffective by life’s tragedies, it had little tolerance of the outspoken individual, the reformist. An officer could play the game and rise, or keep his peace and have security, or he could resign. I had, through the years made positive recommendations for reform both verbally and in writing, to my Africa Division bosses and on occasion to Colby himself, without result. The inspector general’s office was competent to handle petty problems, but as an instrument of the director’s managerial system, it could not address matters of reform. And I had found the “club” of CIA managers arrogantly resistant to criticism of their own ranks-when I spoke out about the most flagrant mismanagement that I knew about which occurred during the evacuation of Vietnam, I was politely and gently admonished. The culprit was given a position of authority, vindicated by the support of his colleagues, and I was informed I had better keep my peace. Only in the forum of public debate, outside the CIA, could effective leverage be had to correct the agency’s wrongs.

After resigning I testified for five days to Senate committees, giving them full details about such agency activities as are covered in this book. Had I been reassured that they would take effective corrective action, I would have considered abandoning my own plans to write. Unfortunately, the Senate intelligence committees in Washington are unable to dominate and discipline the agency. Some senators even seem dedicated to covering up its abuses. Once again, I concluded that only an informed American public can bring effective pressure to bear on the CIA.

Others had reached the same conclusion. Philip Agee used his book, Inside the Company: A CIA Diary, as a sword to slash at the agency, to put it out of business in Latin America. Deeply offended by the CIA’s clandestine activities, Agee attacked individual operations and agents, publishing every name he could remember. Although he made an effort to explain how and why he became disillusioned, he did not illuminate the CIA “mind.” Marchetti and Snepp contributed valuable information to the public’s knowledge of the CIA. The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence includes a vast store of information about the agency, drawn from Marchetti’s experience in the DDI and in the office of the director of central intelligence. Snepp, for six years an analyst in the CIA’s Saigon station, chronicles the intelligence failure and betrayals of the CIA evacuation of South Vietnam in April 1975.

My objective in writing this book is to give the American public a candid glimpse inside the clandestine mind, behind the last veils of secrecy. The vehicle I chose is the Angola paramilitary program of 1975-1976. The anecdotes I relate all happened as described. Dates and details are drawn from the public record and from voluminous notes I took during the Angola operation. In most cases there were other witnesses and often enough secret files to corroborate them. However, for reasons of security, I was not able to interview key individuals or return to the CIA for further research as I wrote. I urge the CIA to supplement my observations by opening its Angola files-the official files as well as the abundant “soft” files we kept- so the public can have the fullest, most detailed truth.

Our libel laws restrict an author’s freedom to relate much of human foible. Nevertheless I have managed to include enough anecdotes to give the reader a full taste of the things we did, the people we were. But this is not so much a story of individual eccentricities and strange behavior, though I mention some. I have no desire to expose or hurt individuals and I reject Agee’s approach. As a case officer for twelve years I was both victim and villain in CIA operations. In both roles I was keenly sympathetic for the people we ensnarled in our activities. Perhaps they are responsible according to the principles of Nuremburg and Watergate which judged lesser employees individually responsible and put them in jail-but I prefer to address the issues at a broader level. Since my resignation I have revealed no covert CIA employee or agent’s name, and I stonewalled the Senate and FBI on that subject when they questioned me.

My sympathy does not extend to the CIA managers who led the CIA to such depths, but in this book I have used actual names only for such managers as had previously been declared as “CIA”: Director William Colby; Deputy Director of Operations William Nelson; Bill Welles, who replaced Nelson; and Africa Division Chief James Potts. And myself. The other names of CIA personnel-Carl Bantam, Victor St. Martin, Paul Foster, et al.-are pseudonyms which I invented. (Any resemblance those names might have to the true names of individuals within and without the CIA is purely coincidental.) In the field, Holden Roberto and Jonas Savimbi were well known to be our allies. Bob Denard and Colonel Santos y Castro were also public figures, widely known to be involved on the side of Roberto, Savimbi, and the CIA. “Timothe Makala” is a name I invented (makala means “charcoal” in the Bantu dialect, Tshiluba). On occasion I used CIA cryptonyms, but in most cases they, too, have been altered to protect the individuals from any conceivable exposure.

On April 10, 1977, after my resignation was final, I published an open letter to CIA Director Stansfield Turner in the Outlook section of the Washington Post. It outlined the reasons for my disillusionment. (The letter is reprinted in the Appendix of this book.) Director Turner subsequently initiated a house-cleaning of the clandestine services, proposing to fire four hundred people, to make the clandestine services “lean and efficient.” In December 1977 Turner admitted to David Binder of the New York Times that this housecleaning had been triggered by my letter.

In January 1978, President Carter announced a reorganization of the intelligence community, which in fact has the effect of strengthening the CIA; and Admiral Turner has reached an understanding with Congress (of which I am skeptical-the Congress has neither the will nor the means to control the CIA). Now Turner has intensified his campaign for tighter controls over CIA employees. He is lobbying vigorously for legislation that would jail anyone who threatens the CIA by disclosing its secrets. It makes him fighting mad, he blusters, when anyone leaks classified information. Such people are violating the “code of intelligence,” he charges. It is the CIA’s “unequivocal right” to censor all publications by CIA people, he claims. “Why do Americans automatically presume the worst of their public servants?” he asks-a remarkable question in the wake of Watergate, FBI, and CIA revelations.

Director Turner and President Carter have it backwards. It is the American people’s unequivocal right to know what their leaders are doing in America’s name and with our tax dollars. My third reason.

For my fourth reason, I reclaim my constitutional right of freedom of speech. The Constitution of the United States does not read that all citizens shall have freedom of speech except those that have signed CIA oaths. Until there is such an amendment of the Constitution, ratified by the appropriate number of states, the Marchetti ruling rests as bad law, an unfortunate relic of the Nixon administration’s bullishness. If the CIA and its “secrets game” cannot live with our fundamental constitutional rights, there can be no question, the Constitution must prevail.

But if the present administration has its way, stories such as this one would be suppressed and covered up. And the author would be punished. I invite the reader to judge which is more important: CIA misadventures such as this one, or our fundamental right to know the truth about our public servants’ activities and to keep them honest?

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Because of my mission background, my recruiters and I discussed the CIA’s “true nature.” They had been unequivocal in reassuring me-the CIA was an intelligence-gathering institution, and a benevolent one. Coups were engineered only to alter circumstances which jeopardized national security. I would be a better person through association with the CIA. My naïveté was shared by most of my forty-two classmates in our year-long training program. Our instructors hammered the message at us: the CIA was good, its mission was to make the world a better place, to save the world from communism.

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Carl insisted that it was Kissinger who was pushing the agency into the covert operation in Angola. Kissinger saw the Angolan conflict solely in terms of global politics and was determined the Soviets should not be permitted to make a move in any remote part of the world without being confronted militarily by the United States. Superficially, his opposition to the Soviet presence was being rationalized in terms of Angola’s strategic location on the South Atlantic, near the shipping lanes of the giant tankers which bring oil from the Middle East around the horn of Africa to the United States. This argument was not profound. Soviet bases in Somalia had much better control of our shipping lanes, and any military move by the Soviets against our oil supplies would trigger a reaction so vigorous that a Soviet base in Angola would be a trivial factor. In fact, Angola had little plausible importance to American national security and little economic importance beyond the robusta coffee it sold to American markets and the relatively small amounts of petroleum Gulf Oil pumped from the Cabindan fields.

No. Uncomfortable with recent historic events, and frustrated by our humiliation in Vietnam, Kissinger was seeking opportunities to challenge the Soviets.

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(footnote)
The Central Intelligence Agency’s authority to run covert operations was for twenty-seven years solely dependent on a vague phrase in the National Security Act of 1947 which read: “to perform such other functions and duties related to intelligence affecting the national security as the National Security Council may from time to time direct.” In 1975 Clark Clifford testified that the drafters of this act intended only to give the president authority to undertake operations in the rare instances that the national security was truly threatened. In fact, the CIA used the vaguely worded charter to launch thousands of covert actions in every corner of the world. Most of them had dubious justification in terms of the United States security. (See the Final Report of the Select Committee to Study Government Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities [also called the Church Committee Report], April z6, 1976.) The Hughes-Ryan Amendment to the National Assistance Act of 1974 required that no funds be expended by or on behalf of the CIA for operations abroad, other than activities designed to obtain necessary intelligence, unless two conditions are met: (a) the president must make a finding that such operation is important to the national security of the United States; and (b) the president must report in a timely fashion a description of such operation and its scope to congressional committees. Theoretically the Senate has controlled the agency budget since 1947 but CIA funds were buried in the Department of Defense budget, and without detailed knowledge of CIA activities, the Senate could make little practical use of this power. *The CIA has a special arrangement which permits any employee who has three years of overseas duty to retire at age fifty, with as much as $20,000 per year in retirement pay. The stresses that shorten case officers’ lives are not what one might guess, certainly not those of James Bond-like danger and intrigue. Most case officers work under official (State Department) cover, and circulate after hours in the world of cocktail and dinner parties. They become accustomed to a life-style of rich food, alcohol, and little exercise. At work they are subject to bureaucratic stresses comparable to a sales office or a newsroom, with publishing deadlines and competitive pressures to produce recruitments.

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… CIA case officers are … almost entirely dependent on CIA material for knowledge of their areas of operation, perpetuating CIA biases and superficial observations. It is exceedingly rare that CIA officers, including even the analysts of the Directorate of Information, will read the books and articles which the academic world publishes about their areas of interest.

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Essentially a conservative organization, the CIA maintains secret liaison with local security services wherever it operates. Its stations are universally part of the official communities of the host countries. Case officers live comfortable lives among the economic elite; even “outside” or “deep cover” case officers are part of that elite. They become conditioned to the mentality of the authoritarian figures, the police chiefs, with whom they work and socialize, and eventually share their resentment of revolutionaries who threaten the status quo. They are ill at ease with democracies and popular movements-too fickle and hard to predict.

Continued on next page…

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