What did we know, and when did we know it? … And when did we forget it?

The Secret Wars of the CIA: Former CIA case officer John Stockwell speaks out, June 1986, on The Other Americas Radio

John Stockwell was the highest-ranking CIA official ever to resign and become a vocal critic of American covert and overt interventions throughout the world. He ran a CIA intelligence-gathering post in Vietnam, was the task-force commander of the CIA’s secret war in Angola in 1975 and 1976, and was awarded the Medal of Merit before he resigned. Stockwell’s book In Search of Enemies (1978), was an international best-seller. The transcript below is of a lecture he gave in June, 1986.

He gave another lecture three years later, with very similar content, at American University on December 27, 1989. It can be viewed on C-SPAN at this link. Audio and video files of this 1986 lecture (transcript below) appear to be lost to travelers of the Internet while the transcript of the 1989 lecture appears to be unobtainable, but the video lives on. In 1991, these lecture were put into book format in the book The Praetorian Guard.

I repost and recommend the 1986 lecture here because it is a valuable reminder of how much had been achieved thirty years ago toward the creation of scholarly literature and a counter-culture of resistance to the war machine. These forces lived on past the 1960s and had even penetrated into the mainstream media and mainstream awareness. In this case, John Stockwell, as a dissident former high-ranking CIA officer, was interviewed on CBS’s 60 Minutes (in May 1978) and he testified before Congress during the days of the Senate Church Committee—a brief window of time when the power of the permanent state was challenged by the people’s elected representatives.

John Stockwell advised people to not merely trust his word but to refer to the large volume of scholarly research and journalism that had been done throughout the 1970s and 1980s. He stressed the importance of reading books and looking beyond the information one could get from television and newspapers. In the lecture below, he recommended sixteen books, many of them authored by scholars and journalists with a large body of work by that time. This lecture is worthwhile just to be reminded of this large body of work that existed already thirty years ago. And this list doesn’t even include the better-known dissident writers like Noam Chomsky and Michael Parenti. The point is that John Stockwell’s shocking revelations were well-known and well-studied at the time he spoke out. From this fact comes the title of this essay: What did we know and when did we know it? We knew it all a long time ago, but somehow the knowledge was forgotten, or it wasn’t passed along, and now the younger generation has to rediscover it for themselves. Many older people too have to snap out of their naïve belief that the FBI and the Democratic Party are going to ride to the rescue on a white horse and solve all problems by expelling Donald Trump from the White House. The Democratic caucus in Congress is no longer what it was in the days of the Church Committee.

Even though these were the years of the Reagan and Bush I presidencies, it may be that the 1980-1992 period was the high-water mark of the counter-culture. There was tremendous pushback against plans to invade Nicaragua and there were millions of people demanding nuclear disarmament, and these opposition movements had a real impact on policy. But this is not to say that nothing has been done since, or that there isn’t an older history of resistance to American wars in the writings of Mark Twain (1835-1910), John Reed (1887-1920) and General Smedley Butler (1881-1940), to name just a few.

In the 1989 lecture, John Stockwell describes the military recruiting TV commercial of the 1980s that showed a young soldier returning home after a tour of duty in which he says to himself, “Maybe now Dad will be proud of me and understand why I signed up.” This advertisement was a telling admission that the father’s generation was so disillusioned by American wars that they didn’t want their sons to have any part in them. The advertisement was a propaganda achievement because it did in fact make people forget and get over this “Vietnam syndrome.” A few years later, after a barrage of Hollywood entertainments glorifying the military and the CIA, it was no longer necessary to worry about anti-war parents persuading their children not to sign up.

In the 1990s, the corporate mass media was consolidated into ownership by just a few large conglomerates, and the distaste for war was eroded by the promotion of the concept of “humanitarian intervention,” “right to protect” (R2P), the “war on terror” and demonization of “rogue states.” An opposition movement came to life during the Bush II presidency, receded during the Obama presidency, then came back in its present mutated, body-snatched form as “the resistance” to Trump—a struggle which now stakes its hope in being rescued by the very institutions that John Stockwell decried in the 1980s.

Other writers, journalists, scholars and former government officials have continued the work of people like John Stockwell and the authors he cited. They can now be found on the internet in alternative media sources or in English language media produced by America’s so-called adversarial and rival powers. They are labelled by devotees of the mainstream as traitors or purveyors of “fake news,” or contributors to “conspiracy sites.” It’s an open question as to whether these marginalized voices can influence the wider public to do something to restrain the  American compulsion to wage war throughout the world. Perhaps dissidence was more effective when it had at least some foothold in mainstream society, when it was welcomed briefly on 60 Minutes and in Congressional testimony.


The original transcript was prepared by The Other Americas Radio, Programs & News on Latin America. The previous version of transcript is posted here and here. The revised transcript that follows was edited slightly to correct syntax errors and to better translate the spoken lecture into a format suitable for an audience of readers. Content and the speaker’s intended meaning were carefully preserved, but punctuation was changed, sentence fragments were corrected, and spelling errors were fixed. The original transcript had a few errors in its references to authors and book titles. These were also corrected. Section headings were added to this revision in order to help readers refer to specific topics covered in this long 12,000-word text.



The Secret Wars of the CIA: Former CIA case officer John Stockwell speaks out, June 1986, on The Other Americas Radio

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Early Career
  3. Other Assignments
  4. Angola
  5. Leaving the CIA
  6. The Death Toll
  7. Covert Actions Leading to Wars
  8. The Long History of Central American Interventions
  9. Interrogation and Torture
  10. Decapitalization
  11. Nicaragua and Global Destabilization
  12. Censorship and Suppression of Whistleblowers in the United States
  13. Pre-empting Acts of Terrorism
  14. Covert Operations and Destabilization in Central America, CIA Manipulation of the Press, CIA Experimentation on the U.S. Public
  15. The CIA and the Drug Trade
  16. Responsibility for Terrorism
  17. Other Sources of Information on These Topics
  18. Training Local Cops on the Beat
  19. The United States Deterred by Nuclear Arsenals
  20. Domestic Operations
  21. CIA Influence on the Media
  22. More on Censorship
  23. Preparations for More War
  24. Chickenhawks
  25. Nuclear Recklessness
  26. Why Keep the World Hostile and Unstable?
  27. Conclusion: What is to be done?


  1. Introduction

I did 13 years in the CIA altogether. I sat on a subcommittee of the NSC, so I was like a chief of staff, with the GS-18s (like 3-star generals) Henry Kissinger, Bill Colby (the CIA director), the GS-18s and the CIA, making the important decisions and my job was to put it all together and make it happen and run it. It was an interesting place from which to watch a covert action being done.

I testified for days before the Congress, giving them chapter and verse, date and detail, proving specific lies. They were asking if we had anything to do with South Africa, that was fighting in the country. In fact we were coordinating this operation so closely that our airplanes, full of arms from the United States, would meet their airplanes in Kinshasa and they would take our arms into Angola to distribute to our forces for us.

What I found with all of this study is that the subject, the problem, if you will, for the world, for the U.S. is much, much, much graver, astronomically graver, than just Angola and Vietnam. I found that the Senate Church committee has reported, in their study of covert actions, that the CIA ran several thousand covert actions since 1961, and that the heyday of covert action was before 1961; that we have run several hundred covert actions a year, and the CIA has been in business for a total of 37 years.

What we’re going to talk about tonight is the United States national security syndrome. We’re going to talk about how and why the U.S. manipulates the press. We’re going to talk about how and why the U.S. is pouring money into El Salvador, and preparing to invade Nicaragua; how all of this concerns us so directly. I’m going to try to explain to you the other side of terrorism; that is, the other side of what Secretary of State Shultz talks about. In doing this, we’ll talk about the Korean war, the Vietnam war, and the Central American war.

Everything I’m going to talk to you about is represented, one way or another, already in the public records. You can dig it all out for yourselves, without coming to hear me if you so choose. Books, based on information gotten out of the CIA under the Freedom of Information Act, testimony before the Congress, hearings before the Senate Church Committee, research by scholars, witness testimonies of people throughout the world who have been to these target areas that we’ll be talking about. I want to emphasize that my own background is profoundly conservative. We come from South Texas, East Texas.

  1. Early Career

I was conditioned by my training, my marine corps training, and my background, to believe in everything they were saying about the cold war, and I took the job (in the CIA) with great enthusiasm to join the best and the brightest of the CIA, of our foreign service, to go out into the world, to join the struggle, to project American values and save the world for our brand of democracy. And I believed this. I went out and worked hard.

What I really got out of these 6 years in Africa was a sense that nothing we were doing in fact defended U.S. national security interests very much. We didn’t have many national security interests in Bujumbura, Burundi, in the heart of Africa. I concluded that I just couldn’t see the point.

We were doing things, it seemed, because we were there, because it was our function. We were bribing people, corrupting people, and not protecting the U.S. in any visible way. I had a chance to go drinking with Larry Devlin, a famous CIA case officer who had overthrown Patrice Lumumba, and had him killed in 1960, back in the Congo. He was moving into the position of Africa Division Chief. I talked to him in Addis Ababa at length one night, and he was giving me an explanation. I was telling him frankly, “Sir, you know, this stuff doesn’t make any sense. We’re not saving anybody from anything, and we are corrupting people, and everybody knows we’re doing it, and that makes the U.S. look bad.”

And he said I was getting too big for my britches. He said, “You’re trying to think like the people in the NSC back in Washington who have the big picture, who know what’s going on in the world, who have all the secret information, and the experience to digest it. If they decide we should have someone in Bujumbura, Burundi, and that person should be you, then you should do your job, and wait until you have more experience, and you work your way up to that point, then you will understand national security, and you can make the big decisions. Now get to work, and stop, you know, this philosophizing.”

And I said, “Aye-aye sir, sorry sir, a bit out of line sir.” It’s a very powerful argument. Our presidents use it on us. President Reagan has used it on the American people, saying, “If you knew what I know about the situation in Central America, you would understand why it’s necessary for us to intervene.”

I went back to Washington, however, and I found that others shared my concern. A formal study was done in the State Department and published internally, highly classified, called the Macomber Report, concluding that the CIA had no business being in Africa for anything it was known to be doing, that our presence there was not justified. There were no national security interests that the CIA could address any better than the ambassador himself. We didn’t need to have bribery and corruption as a tool for doing business in Africa at that time.

  1. Other Assignments

I went from a tour in Washington to Vietnam. And there, my career, and my life, began to get a little bit more serious. They assigned me a country. It was during the cease-fire, 1973 to 1975. There was no cease-fire. Young men were being slaughtered. I saw a slaughter—300 young men that the South Vietnamese Army ambushed. Their bodies were brought in and laid out in a lot next to my compound. I was up-country in Tay-ninh. They were laid out next door, until the families could come and claim them and take them away for burial.

I thought about this. I had to work with the sadistic police chief. When I reported that he liked to carve people with knives in the CIA safe-house, when I reported this to my bosses, they said, “(1) The post was too important to close down. (2) They weren’t going to get the man transferred or fired because that would make problems, political problems, and he was very good at working with us in the operations he worked on. (3) Therefore, if I didn’t have the stomach for the job, that they could transfer me.” But they hastened to point out that if I did demonstrate a lack of “moral fiber” to handle working with the sadistic police chief, I wouldn’t get another good job in the CIA. It would be a mark against my career.

So I kept the job. I closed the safe-house down. I told my staff that I didn’t approve of that kind of activity, and I proceeded to work with him for the next 2 years, pretending that I had reformed him, and he didn’t do this sort of thing anymore. The parallel is obvious with El Salvador today, where the CIA and the State Department work with the death squads.

They don’t meet the death squads on the streets where they’re actually chopping up people or laying them down on the street and running trucks over their heads. The CIA people in San Salvador meet the police chiefs, and the people who run the death squads, and they do liaise with them. They meet them beside the swimming pool of the villas. And it’s a sophisticated, civilized kind of relationship. And they talk about their children, who are going to school at UCLA or Harvard and other schools, and they don’t talk about the horrors of what’s being done. They pretend like it isn’t true.

What I ran into in addition to that was a corruption in the CIA and the intelligence business that made me question very seriously what it was all about, including what I was doing risking my life. What I found was that the CIA, us, the case officers, were not permitted to report about the corruption in the South Vietnamese army.

The corruption was so bad that the South Vietnamese Army was a skeleton army. Colonels would let the troops go home if they would come in once a month and sign the pay vouchers so the colonel could pocket the money. Then he could sell half of the uniforms and boots and M-16’s to the communist forces. That was their major supply, just as it is in El Salvador today. He could use half of the trucks to haul produce, half of the helicopters to haul heroin.

And the Army couldn’t fight. And we lived with it, and we saw it, and there was no doubt. Everybody talked about it openly. We could provide all kinds of proof, and they wouldn’t let us report it. This was a serious problem because the South was attacked in the winter of 1975, and it collapsed like a big vase hit by a sledgehammer. And the U.S. was humiliated, and that was the dramatic end of our long involvement in Vietnam.

  1. Angola

I had been designated as the taskforce commander that would run this secret war in Angola in 1975 and 1976, and what I figured out was that in this job, I would sit on a sub-committee of the National Security Council, this office that Larry Devlin had told me about where they had access to all the information about Angola, about the whole world, and I would finally understand national security. And I couldn’t resist the opportunity to know. I knew the CIA was not a worthwhile organization. I had learned that the hard way. But the question was where the U.S. government fit into this thing, and I had a chance to see for myself in the next big secret war.

I wanted to know if wise men were making difficult decisions based on truly important, threatening information, threatening to our national security interests. If that had been the case, I still planned to get out of the CIA, but I would know that the system, the invisible government, our national security complex, was in fact justified and worthwhile. And so I took the job. Suffice it to say I wouldn’t be standing in front of you tonight if I had found these wise men making these tough decisions. What I found, quite frankly, was fat old men sleeping through sub-committee meetings of the NSC in which we were making decisions that were killing people in Africa. I mean that literally. Senior ambassador Ed Mulcahy would go to sleep in nearly every one of these meetings.

You can change the names in my book about Angola and you’ve got Nicaragua. The basic structure all the way through including the mining of harbors: we addressed all of these issues. The point is that the U.S. led the way at every step of the escalation of the fighting. We said it was the Soviets and the Cubans that were doing it. It was the U.S. that was escalating the fighting. There would have been no war if we hadn’t gone in first. We put arms in, then they put arms in. We put advisors in, then they answered with advisors. We put in Zairian para-commando battalions, then they put in Cuban army troops. We brought in the South African army, then they brought in the Cuban army. And they pushed us away. They blew us away because we were lying. We were covering ourselves with lies, and they were telling the truth. And it was not a war that we could fight. We didn’t have interests there that should have been defended that way.

There was never a study run that evaluated the MPLA, FNLA and UNITA, the three movements in the country, to decide which one was the better one. The assistant secretary of state for African affairs, Nathaniel Davis, no bleeding-heart liberal (he was known by some people in the business as the butcher of Santiago), said we should stay out of the conflict and work with whoever eventually won, and that was obviously the MPLA. Our consul in Luanda, Tom Killoran, vigorously argued that the MPLA was the best-qualified to run the country and the friendliest to the U.S.

We brushed these people aside, forced Nat Davis to resign, and proceeded with our war. The MPLA said they wanted to be our friends. They didn’t want to be pushed into the arms of the Soviet Union. They begged us not to fight them. They wanted to work with us. We said they wanted a cheap victory, that they wanted a walk-over, that they wanted to be un-opposed, and that we wouldn’t give them a cheap victory. We would make them earn it, so to speak. And we did. 10,000 Africans died and they won the victory that they were winning anyway.

The most significant thing that I got out of all of this, in addition to the fact that our rationales were basically false, was that we lied—to just about everybody involved. One third of my staff in this task force that I put together in Washington—commanding this global operation, pulling strings all over the world to focus pressure onto Angola, and military activities into Angola—one third of my staff were propagandists, who were working, in every way they could think of, to get stories into the U.S. press, the world press, to create this picture of Cubans raping Angolans, Cubans and Soviets introducing arms into the conflict, Cubans and Russians trying to take over the world.

Our ambassador to the United Nations, Patrick Moynihan, read continuous statements of our position to the Security Council, the General Assembly, and the press conferences, saying the Russians and Cubans were responsible for the conflict, and that we were staying out, and that we deplored the militarization of the conflict.

And every statement he made was false. And every statement he made was originated in the sub-committee of the NSC that I sat on as we managed this thing. The State Department press person read these position papers daily to the press. We would write papers for him. Four paragraphs. We would call him on the phone and say, “Call us 10 minutes before you go on. The situation could change overnight. We’ll tell you which paragraph to read.” And all four paragraphs would be false—nothing to do with the truth, designed to play on events, to create this impression of Soviet and Cuban aggression in Angola when they were in fact responding to our initiatives.

And the CIA director was required by law to brief the Congress. This CIA director Bill Colby—the same one that dumped our people in Vietnam—gave 36 briefings of the Congress, the oversight committees, about what we were doing in Angola. And he lied at 36 formal briefings. And such lies are perjury, and it’s a felony to lie to the Congress.

He lied about our relationship with South Africa. We were working closely with the South African Army, giving them our arms, coordinating battles with them, giving them fuel for their tanks and armored cars. He said we were staying well away from them. They were concerned about these white mercenaries that were appearing in Angola. It was a very sensitive issue, hiring whites to go into a black African country, to help you impose your will on that black African country by killing blacks, a very sensitive issue. The Congress was concerned we might be involved in that, and he assured them we had nothing to do with it.

We had in fact formed four little mercenary armies and delivered them into Angola to do this dirty business for the CIA. And he lied to them about that. They asked if we were putting arms into the conflict, and he said no, and we were. They asked if we had advisors inside the country, and he said “No, we had people going in to look at the situation and coming back out.” We had 24 people sleeping inside the country, training in the use of weapons, installing communications systems, planning battles, and he said we didn’t have anybody inside the country.

In summary, about Angola, without U.S. intervention, 10,000 people would be alive that were killed in the thing. The outcome might have been peaceful, or at least much less bloody. The MPLA was winning when we went in, and they went ahead and won, which was, according to our consul, the best thing for the country.

At the end of this thing the Cubans were entrenched in Angola, seen in the eyes of much of the world as being the heroes that saved these people from the CIA and South African forces. We had allied the U.S. literally and in the eyes of the world with the South African Army, and that’s illegal, and it’s impolitic. We had hired white mercenaries and eventually been identified with them. And that’s illegal, and it’s impolitic. And our lies had been visible lies. We were caught out on those lies. And the world saw the U.S. as liars.

After it was over, you had to ask yourself, was it justified? What did the MPLA do after they had won? Were they lying when they said they wanted to be our friends? 3 weeks after we were shut down, the MPLA had Gulf Oil back in Angola, pumping the Angolan oil from the oilfields, with U.S. Gulf technicians protected by Cuban soldiers, protecting them from CIA mercenaries who were still mucking around in Northern Angola.

You can’t trust a communist, can you? They proceeded to buy five 737 jets from Boeing Aircraft in Seattle. And they brought in 52 U.S. technicians to install the radar systems to land and take-off those planes. They didn’t buy the Soviet Union’s Aeroflot. David Rockefeller himself tours South Africa and comes back and holds press conferences in which he says that we have no problem doing business with the so-called radical states of Southern Africa.

  1. Leaving the CIA

I left the CIA. I decided that the American people needed to know what we’d done in Angola, what we’d done in Vietnam. I wrote my book. I was fortunate. I got it out. It was a best-seller. A lot of people read it. I was able to take my story to the American people. I got on 60 Minutes, and lots and lots of other shows.

I testified to Congress, and then I began my education in earnest, after having been taught to fight communists all my life. I went to see what communists were all about. I went to Cuba to see if they do in fact eat babies for breakfast. And I found they don’t. I went to Budapest, a country that even national geographic admits is working nicely. I went to Jamaica to talk to Michael Manley about his theories of social democracy.

I went to Grenada and established a dialogue with Maurice Bishop and Bernard Coard and Phyllis Coard—these were all educated people, and experienced people—and they had a theory. They had something they wanted to do. They had rationales and explanations, and I went repeatedly to hear them. And then, of course, I saw the U.S., the CIA mounting a covert action against them. I saw us orchestrating our plan to invade the country. 19 days before he was killed, I was in Grenada talking to Maurice Bishop about these things, these indicators, the statements in the press by Ronald Reagan, and he and I were both acknowledging that it was almost certain that the U.S. would invade Grenada in the near future.

I read as many books as I could find on the subject—book after book after book. I’ve got several hundred books on the shelf over my desk on the subject of U.S. national security interests. And by the way, I urge you to read. In television you get capsules of news that someone else puts together of what they want you to hear about the news. In newspapers you get what the editors select to put in the newspaper. If you want to know about the world and understand it, to educate yourself. You have to get out and dig, dig up books and articles for yourself. Read, and find out for yourselves. As you’ll see, the issues are very, very important.

I also was able to meet the players, the people who write, the people who have done studies, people who are leading different situations. I went to Nicaragua a total of 7 times. This was a major covert action. It lasted longer and evolved to be bigger than what we did in Angola. It gave me a chance, after running something from Washington, to go to a country that was under attack, to talk to the leadership, to talk to the people, to look and see what happens when you give white phosphorous or grenades or bombs or bullets to people, and they go inside a country—to go and talk to the people who have been shot, or hit, or blown up.

  1. The Death Toll

We’re talking about is 10 to 20 thousand covert actions the CIA has performed since 1961. What I found was that lots and lots of people have been killed in these things. Some of them are very, very bloody.

The Indonesian covert action of 1965, reported by Ralph McGehee, who was in that area division, and had documents on his desk, in his custody, about that operation. He said that one of the documents concluded that this was a model operation that should be copied elsewhere in the world. Not only did it eliminate the effective Communist Party (Indonesian Communist Party), it also eliminated the entire segment of the population that tended to support the communist party—the ethnic Chinese, Indonesian Chinese. And the CIA’s report put the number of dead at 800,000 killed. And that was one covert action. We’re talking about 1 to 3 million people killed in these things.

  1. Covert Actions Leading to Wars

Two of these things have led us directly into bloody wars. There was a covert action against China, destabilizing China, for many, many years, with a propaganda campaign to work up a mood, a feeling in this country, of the evils of communist China, and attacking them—as we’re doing in Nicaragua today—with an army that was being launched against them to parachute in, and boat in, and destabilize the country. And this led us directly into the Korean war.

U.S. intelligence officers worked over Vietnam for a total of 25 years, with greater and greater involvement, massive propaganda, deceiving the American people about what was happening, panicking people in Vietnam to create migrations to the south so they could photograph them and show how people were fleeing communism. And on and on, until they got us into the Vietnam war, and 2,000,000 people were killed.

There is a mood, a sentiment in Washington, by our leadership today, for the past 4 years, that a good communist is a dead communist. If you’re killing 1 to 3 million communists, that’s great. President Reagan has gone public and said he would reduce the Soviet Union to a pile of ashes. The problem, though, is that these people killed by our national security activities are not communists. They’re not Russians, they’re not KGB. In the field we used to play chess with the KGB officers, and have drinks with them. It was like professional football players. We would knock heads on Sunday, maybe in an operation, and then Tuesday you’re at a banquet together drinking toasts and talking.

The people that are dying in these things are people of the Third World. That’s the common denominator that you come up with—people of the Third World. People that have the misfortune of being born in the Mitumba mountains of the Congo, in the jungles of Southeast Asia, and now in the hills of northern Nicaragua—far more Catholics than communists, far more Buddhists than communists. Most of them couldn’t give you an intelligent definition of communism, or of capitalism.

  1. The Long History of Central American Interventions

Central America has been a traditional target of U.S. dominion. If you want to get an easy read of the history of our involvement in Central America, read Walter LaFeber’s book, Inevitable Revolutions. We have dominated the area since 1820. We’ve had a policy of dominion, of excluding other countries, other industrial powers from Europe, from competing with us in the area.

Just to give you an example of how complete this is, and how military this has been, between 1900 and WW II, we had 5,000 marines in Nicaragua for a total of 28 years. We invaded the Dominican Republic 4 times. Haiti? We occupied it for 12 years. We put our troops into Cuba 4 times, Panama 6 times, Guatemala once, plus a CIA covert action to overthrow the democratic government there once. Honduras? 7 times. And by the way, we put 12,000 troops into the Soviet Union during that same period of time.

In the 1930s there was public and international pressure about our marines in Nicaragua. The next three leaders of Guatemala, after the CIA installed the puppet, Colonel Armas, in a coup, died violent deaths, and Amnesty International tells us that the governments we’ve supported in power there since then have killed 80,000 people. You can read about that one in the book Bitter Fruit, by Kinzer and Schlesinger. Kinzer’s a New York Times journalist. Or read Jonathan Kwitny, the Wall Street Journal reporter. His book Endless Enemies discusses this.

However, the money, the millions and millions of dollars we put into this program helping Central America inevitably went to the rich, and not to the people of the countries involved. And while we were doing this, while we were trying, at least saying we were trying, to correct the problems of Central and Latin America, the CIA was doing its thing, too. The CIA was in fact forming the police units that are today the death squads in El Salvador, with the leaders on the CIA’s payroll, trained by the CIA and the United States.

  1. Interrogation and Torture

We had the “public safety program” going throughout Central and Latin America for 26 years, in which we taught them to break up subversion by interrogating people. This interrogation, including torture, was done the way the CIA taught it. Dan Mitrione, the famous exponent of these things, did 7 years in Brazil and 3 in Uruguay, teaching interrogation, teaching torture. He was supposed to be the master of the business. He taught how to apply the right amount of pain, at just the right times, in order to get the response you want from the individual.

They developed a wire. They gave them crank generators, with “U.S. AID” written on the side, so the people even knew where these things came from. They developed a wire that was strong enough to carry the current and fine enough to fit between the teeth, so you could put one wire between the teeth and the other one in or around the genitals and you could crank and submit the individual to the greatest amount of pain, supposedly, that the human body can register.

How do you teach torture? Dan Mitrione: “I can teach you about torture, but sooner or later you’ll have to get involved. You’ll have to lay on your hands and try it yourselves.”

All the guinea pigs—beggars from off the streets—could do was lie there and scream. And when they would collapse, they would bring in doctors and shoot them up with vitamin B and rest them up for the next class. And when they would die, they would mutilate the bodies and throw them out on the streets, to terrify the population so they would be afraid of the police and the government.

And this is what the CIA was teaching them to do. And one of the women who was in this program for 2 years—tortured in Brazil for 2 years—testified internationally when she eventually got out. She said, “The most horrible thing about it was, in fact, that the people doing the torture were not raving psychopaths.” She couldn’t break mental contact with them the way you could if they were psychopaths. They were very ordinary people.

There’s a lesson in all of this. And the lesson is that it isn’t only Gestapo maniacs, or KGB maniacs, that do inhuman things to other people. It’s people that do inhuman things to other people. And we are responsible for doing these things, on a massive basis, to people of the world today. And we do it in a way that gives us this plausible denial to our own consciences. We create a CIA, a secret police. We give them a vast budget, and we let “them” go and run these programs in our name, and we pretend like we don’t know it’s going on, although the information is there for us to know. And we pretend like it’s OK because we’re fighting some vague communist threat. And we’re just as responsible for these 1 to 3 million people we’ve slaughtered and for all the people we’ve tortured and made miserable, as the Gestapo was for the people that they slaughtered and killed. Genocide is genocide!

  1. Decapitalization

Now we’re pouring money into El Salvador. A billion dollars or so. And it’s a documented fact that the 14 families there that own 60% of the country are taking out between 2 to 5 billion dollars—it’s called de-capitalization—and putting it in banks in Miami and Switzerland. Mort Halperin, testifying to a committee of Congress, suggested we could simplify the whole thing politically just by investing our money directly in the Miami banks in their names and just stay out of El Salvador altogether, and the people would be better off.

  1. Nicaragua and Global Destabilization

What’s happening in Nicaragua today is covert action. It’s a classic de-stabilization program. On November 16, 1981, President Reagan allocated 19 million dollars to form an army, a force of Contras, they’re called, ex-Somoza national guards, the monsters who were doing the torture and terror in Nicaragua that made the Nicaraguan people rise up and throw out the dictator, and throw out the guard. We went back to create an army of these people. We are killing, and killing, and terrorizing people, not only in Nicaragua but the Congress has leaked to the press (reported in the New York Times), that there are 50 covert CIA actions going around the world today.

You have to be asking yourself, why are we destabilizing 50 corners of the troubled world? Why are we about to go to war in Nicaragua, the Central American war? It is the function, I suggest, of the CIA, with its 50 de-stabilization programs going on around the world today, to keep the world unstable, and to propagandize the American people to hate, so we will let the establishment spend any amount of money on arms.

  1. Censorship and Suppression of Whistleblowers in the United States

The Victor Marchetti ruling of the Supreme Court gave the government the right to pre-publication censorship of books. They challenged 360 items in his 360-page book. He fought it in court, and eventually they deleted some 60 odd items in his book.

The Frank Snepp ruling of the Supreme Court gave the government the right to sue a government employee for damages. If he or she writes an unauthorized account of the government—which means the people who are involved in corruption in the government, who see it, who witness it, like Frank Snepp did, like I did—if they try to go public, they can now be punished in civil court. The government took $90,000 away from Frank Snepp, his profits from his book, and they’ve seized the profits from my own book.

Reagan passed the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, which makes it a felony to write articles revealing the identities of secret agents or to write about their activities in a way that would reveal their identities. What does this mean? In a debate in Congress—this is very controversial—the supporters of this bill made it clear. If agents Smith and Jones came on this campus, in an MK-Ultra-type experiment, and blew your fiancé’s head away with LSD, it would now be a felony to publish an article in your local paper saying, “Watch out for these 2 turkeys. They’re federal agents and they blew my loved one’s head away with LSD.” What they had done would not be a felony because it’s a matter of national security, and none of them were ever punished for those activities.

Efforts to muzzle government employees: President Reagan has been banging away at this one ever since. Proposing that every government employee, for the rest of his or her life, would have to submit anything they wrote to 6 committees of the government for censorship, for the rest of their lives—to keep the scandals from leaking out, to keep the American people from knowing what the government is really doing.

  1. Pre-empting Acts of Terrorism

Then it starts getting heavy: The “Pre-emptive Strikes’ Bill. President Reagan, working through the Secretary of State Shultz, almost 2 years ago, submitted the bill that would provide them with the authority to strike at terrorists before terrorists can do their terrorism. But this bill provides that they would be able to do this in this country as well as overseas. It provides that the secretary of state would put together a list of people that he considers to be terrorists, or terrorist supporters, or terrorist sympathizers. And if your name, or your organization, is put on this list, they could kick down your door and haul you away, or kill you, without any due process of the law and search warrants and trial by jury, and all of that, with impunity.

There was a tremendous outcry on the part of jurists. The New York Times columns and other newspapers saying, “This is no different from Hitler’s ‘night and fog’ program where the government had the authority to haul people off at night.” And they did so by the thousands. And President Reagan and Secretary Shultz have persisted. Shultz has said, “Yes, we will have to take action on the basis of information that would never stand up in a court. And yes, innocent people will have to be killed in the process. But, we must have this law because of the threat of international terrorism.”

Think a minute. What is “the threat of international terrorism”? These things catch a lot of attention. But how many Americans died in terrorist actions last year? According to Secretary Shultz, 79. Obviously, that’s terrible, but we killed 55,000 people on our highways with drunken driving. We killed 2,500 people in far nastier, bloodier, mutilating, gang-raping ways in Nicaragua last year alone ourselves. Obviously 79 peoples’ deaths is not enough reason to take away the protection of American citizens, of due process of the law.

But they’re pressing for this. The special actions teams that will do the pre-emptive striking have already been created and trained in the defense department.

They’re building detention centers. There were 8 kept mothballed under the McCarran Act after World War II, to detain aliens and dissidents in the next war, as was done with the Japanese people during World War II. They’re building 10 more, and army camps, and the executive memos about these things say it’s for aliens and dissidents in the next national emergency.

FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, headed by Loius Guiffrida, a friend of Ed Meese’s, is going about the country lobbying and demanding that he be given authority, in the times of national emergency, to declare martial law, and establish a curfew, and gun down people who violate the curfew in the United States.

And then there’s Ed Meese, as I said. The highest law enforcement officer in the land, President Reagan’s closest friend, is going around telling us that the constitution never did guarantee freedom of speech and press, and due process of the law, and assembly.

What they are planning for this society, and this is why they’re determined to take us into a war, if we’ll permit it, is the Reagan revolution. So he’s getting himself some laws so when he puts in the troops in Nicaragua, he can take charge of the American people, and put people in jail, and kick in their doors, and kill them if they don’t like what he’s doing.

The question is, “Are we going to permit our leaders to take away our freedoms because they have a charming smile and they were nice movie stars one day, or are we going to stand up and fight, and insist on our freedoms?” It’s up to us. You and I can watch this history play out in the next year and 2 and 3 years.

  1. Covert Operations and Destabilization in Central America, CIA Manipulation of the Press, CIA Experimentation on the U.S. Public

I just got my latest book back from the CIA censors. If I had not submitted it to them, I would have gone to jail, without trial, without juries and all that sort of thing, for having violated our censorship laws.

In that job in Angola I sat on a sub-committee of the NSC, so I was like a chief of staff, with the GS-18s (like 3-star generals), Henry Kissinger, Bill Colby (the CIA director), the GS-18s and the CIA, making important decisions, and my job was to put it all together and make it happen and run it. It was an interesting place from which to watch a covert action being done.

When the world’s gotten blocked up before, like a monopoly game where everything’s owned and nobody can make any progress, the way they erased the board and started over has been to have big world wars, and erase countries and bomb cities and bomb banks, and then start from scratch again. This is not an option to us now because of these 52,000 nuclear weapons.

The United States CIA is running 50 covert actions, destabilizing further almost one third of the countries in the world today.

By the way, everything I’m sharing with you tonight is in the public record. The 50 covert actions are secret, but the information has been leaked to us by members of the Oversight Committee of Congress. I urge you not to take my word for anything. I’m going to stand here and tell you and give you examples of how our leaders lie. Obviously, I could be lying. The only way you can figure it out for yourself is to educate yourselves. The French have a saying, “Them that don’t do politics will be done.” If you don’t fill your mind eagerly with the truth, dig it out from the records, go and see for yourself, then your mind remains blank and your adrenaline pumps, and you, can be mobilized and excited to do things that are not in your interest to do.

Nicaragua is not the biggest covert action. It is the most famous one. Afghanistan is the biggest one. We spent several hundred million dollars in Afghanistan. We’ve spent somewhat less than that, but close, in Nicaragua.

When the U.S. doesn’t like a government, they send the CIA in, with its resources and activists, hiring people, hiring agents, to tear apart the social and economic fabric of the country, as a technique for putting pressure on the government, hoping that they can make the government come to the U.S.’s terms, or the government will collapse altogether and they can engineer a coup d’etat, and have the thing wind up with their own choice of people in power.

Ripping apart the economic and social fabric, of course, is fairly textbook-ish. What we’re talking about is going in and deliberately creating conditions where the farmer can’t get his produce to market, where children can’t go to school, where women are terrified inside their homes as well as outside their homes, where government administration and programs grind to a complete halt, where the hospitals are treating wounded people instead of sick people, where international capital is scared away and the country goes bankrupt. If you ask the State Department today for their official explanation of the purpose of the Contras, they say it’s to attack economic targets, meaning the breaking up the economy of the country. Of course, they’re attacking a lot more.

To destabilize Nicaragua, beginning in 1981, we began funding this force of Somoza’s ex-national guardsmen, calling them the Contras (the counter-revolutionaries). We created this force. It did not exist until we allocated money. We’ve armed them, put uniforms on their backs, boots on their feet, given them camps in Honduras to live in, medical supplies, doctors, training, leadership, direction, as we’ve sent them in to de-stabilize Nicaragua. Under our direction, they have systematically been blowing up granaries, saw mills, bridges, government offices, schools, and health centers. They ambush trucks so the produce can’t get to market. They raid farms and villages. The farmer has to carry a gun while he tries to plow, if he can plow at all.

If you want one example of hard proof of the CIA’s involvement in this, and their approach to it, dig up The Sabotage Manual that they were circulating throughout Nicaragua, a comic-book type of a paper, with visual explanations of what you can do to bring a society to a halt, how you can gum up typewriters, what you can pour in a gas tank to burn up engines, what you can stuff in sewage to stop up the sewage so it won’t work, things you can do to make a society simply cease to function.

Systematically, the Contras have been assassinating religious workers, teachers, health workers, elected officials, and government administrators. You remember the assassination manual? That surfaced in 1984. It caused such a stir that President Reagan had to address it himself in the presidential debates with Walter Mondale. They use terror. This is a technique that they’re using to traumatize the society so that it can’t function.

I don’t mean to abuse you with verbal violence, but you have to understand what your government and its agents are doing. They go into villages. They haul out families. With the children forced to watch, they castrate the father, they peel the skin off his face, they put a grenade in his mouth and pull the pin. With the children forced to watch, they gang-rape the mother, and slash her breasts off. And sometimes, for variety, they make the parents watch while they do these things to the children.

This is nobody’s propaganda. There have been over 100,000 American witnesses for peace who have gone down there and they have filmed and photographed and witnessed these atrocities immediately after they’ve happened, and documented 13,000 people killed this way, mostly women and children. These are the activities done by these Contras. The Contras are the people president Reagan calls “freedom fighters.” He says they’re the moral equivalent of our founding fathers. And the whole world gasps at this confession of his family traditions.

Read Contra Terror by Reed Brody, former assistant Attorney General of New York State. Read The Contras by Dieter Eich. Read With the Contras by Christopher Dickey. This is a mainline journalist, down there on a grant with the Council on Foreign Relations, a slightly to the right of the middle of the road organization. He writes a book that sets a pox on both your houses, and then he gives accounts about going on patrol with the Contras, and describes their activities. Read Witness for Peace: What We have Seen and Heard. Read the Lawyer’s Commission on Human Rights. Read The Violations of War on Both Sides by Americas Watch. And there are many, many more documentations of details, of names, of the incidents that have happened.

Part of a destabilization is propaganda, to discredit the targeted government. This one actually began under Jimmy Carter. He authorized the CIA to go in and try to make the Sandinistas look evil. So in 1979, when they came in to power, immediately we were trying to cast them as totalitarian, evil, threatening Marxists. While they abolished the death sentence, while they released 8,000 national guardsmen that they had in their custody that they could have kept in prison, they said, “No. Unless we have evidence of individual crimes, we’re not going to hold someone in prison just because they were associated with the former administration.” This was while they set out to launch a literacy campaign to teach the people to read and write, which is something that the dictator Somoza, and we supporting him, had never bothered to get around to doing. While they set out to build 2,500 clinics to give the country something resembling a public health policy, and access to medicines, we began to label them as totalitarian dictators, and to attack them in the press, and to work with this newspaper La Prensa, which, it’s finally come out and been admitted in Washington, the U.S. government is funding: it is a propaganda arm.

Reagan and the State Department have been claiming the Sandinistas are building a war machine that threatens the stability of Central America. The truth is that this small, poor country has been attacked by the world’s richest country under conditions of war, for the last 5 years. That’s by us and our army. The death they have sustained and the action they have suffered make it a larger war proportionally than the Vietnam war was to the U.S. In addition to the Contra activities, we’ve had U.S. Navy ships supervising the mining of harbors. We’ve sent planes in and bombed the capital. We’ve had U.S. military planes flying wing-tip to wing-tip over the country, photographing it, doing aerial reconnaissance. They don’t have any missiles or jets they can send up to chase us off. We are at war with them. They have not retaliated yet with any kind of war action against us, but we do not give them credit with having the right to defend themselves. So we claim that the force they built up, which is obviously purely defensive, is an aggressive force that threatens the stability of all of Central America.

We claim the justification for this is the arms that are flowing from Nicaragua to El Salvador, and yet in 5 years of this activity, President Reagan hasn’t been able to show the world one shred of evidence of any arms flowing from Nicaragua into El Salvador.

We launched a campaign to discredit their elections. International observer teams said these were the fairest elections they have witnessed in Central America in many years. We said they were fraudulent and they were rigged because it was a totalitarian system. Instead we said the elections that were held in El Salvador were models of democracy to be copied elsewhere in the world. And then the truth came out about that one. And we learned that the CIA had spent 2.2 million dollars to make sure that their choice of candidates—Duarte—would win. They did everything, we’re told, by one of their spokesmen, indirectly, but stuff the ballot boxes.

I’ll make a footnote that when I speak out, Senator Jesse Helms calls me a traitor, but when something happens he doesn’t like, he doesn’t hesitate to go public and reveal the secrets and embarrass the U.S.

  1. The CIA and the Drug Trade

We claim the Sandinistas are smuggling drugs as a technique to finance their revolution. This doesn’t make sense. We’re at war with them. We’re dying to catch them getting arms from the Soviet Union, flying things back and forth to Cuba. We have airplanes and picket ships watching everything that flies out of that country, and into it. How are they going to have a steady flow of drug-smuggling planes into the U.S.? Not likely! However, there are Nicaraguans, on these bases in Honduras, that have planes flying into CIA training camps in Florida, Alabama and Louisiana, several times a week.

Obviously, I’m not going to stand in front of you and say that the CIA might be involved in drug trafficking, am I? Read the book The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia. For 20 years the CIA was helping the Kuomintang to finance itself, and then to get rich, by smuggling heroin. When we took over from the French in 1954, their intelligence service had been financing itself by smuggling heroin out of Laos. We replaced them. We made Air America, the CIA subsidiary. It would fly in with crates marked “humanitarian aid,” which were arms, and it would fly back out with heroin. And the first target, market, of this heroin was the U.S. GI’s in Vietnam.

If anybody in Nicaragua is smuggling drugs, it’s the Contras. I’ve been saying that since the State Department started waving this red herring around a couple of years ago, and the other day you noticed President Reagan said that the Nicaraguans, the Sandinistas, were smuggling drugs, and the DEA said, “It ain’t true. The Contras are smuggling drugs.”

  1. Responsibility for Terrorism

We claim the Sandinistas are responsible for the terrorism that’s happening anywhere in the world. “The country club of terrorism,” we call it. There’s an incident in Rome, and Ed Meese goes on television and says, “That country club in Nicaragua is training terrorists.” We blame the Sandinistas for the misery that exists in Nicaragua today, and there is misery, because the world’s richest nation has set out to create conditions of misery, and obviously we’re bound to have some effect. The misery is not the fault of the Sandinistas. It’s the result of our destabilization program. And despite that, and despite some grumbling in the country, the Sandinistas in their elections got a much higher percentage of the vote than President Reagan did, who’s supposed to be so popular in this country. And all observers are saying that people are still hanging together with the Sandinistas.

Now it gets tricky. We’re saying that the justification for more aid is possibly an invasion of the country. And mind you, president Reagan has begun to talk about this, and the Secretary of Defense Weinberger began to say that it’s inevitable. We claim that the justification is that the Soviet Union now has invested 500 million dollars in arms to make it its big client state, the Soviet bastion in this hemisphere. And that’s true. They do have a lot of arms in there now. But the question is, how did they get invited in? You have to ask yourself what the purpose of this destabilization program is. For this I direct you back to the Newsweek article, in September 1981, where they announced the fact that the CIA was beginning to put together this force of Somoza’s ex-guard. Newsweek described it as “The only truly evil, totally unacceptable factor in the Nicaraguan equation.” They noted that neither the White House nor the CIA pretended it ever could have a chance of winning. So then they asked, rhetorically, “What’s the point?” and they concluded that the point is that by attacking the country, you can force the Sandinistas into a more radical position, from which you have more ammunition to attack them.

And that’s what we’ve accomplished now. They’ve had to get Soviet aid to defend themselves from the attack from the world’s richest country, and now we can stand up to the American people and say, “See? they have all this Soviet aid.” Make no doubt of it. It’s the game plan of the Reagan Administration to have a war in Nicaragua. They have been working on this since 1981. They have been stopped by the will of the American people so far, but they’re working harder than ever to engineer their war there.

CIA destabilizations are nothing new. They didn’t begin with Nicaragua. We’ve done it before, once or twice. The Church Committee, investigating CIA covert action in 1975, found that we had run several hundred a year, and we’d been in the business of running covert actions—the CIA has—for 4 decades. You’re talking about 10 to 20 thousand covert actions.

CIA apologists leap up and say, “Well, most of these things are not so bloody.” And that’s true. You’re giving a politician some money so he’ll throw his party in this direction or that one, or make false speeches on your behalf, or something like that. It may be non-violent, but it’s still illegal intervention in other countries’ affairs, raising the question of whether or not we are going to have a world in which law and rules of behavior are respected, or whether it is going to be a world of bullies, where the strongest can violate and brutalize the weakest, and ignore the laws.

  1. Other Sources of Information on These Topics

But many of these things are very bloody indeed, and we know a lot about a lot of them from investigations by Congress, testimony by CIA directors, testimony by CIA case officers, books written by CIA case officers, documents gotten out of the government under the Freedom of Information Act, and books written by Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalists who’ve documented their cases. And you can go and read from these things, classic CIA operations that we know about, some of them very bloody indeed: Guatemala 1954, Brazil, Guyana, Chile, The Congo, Iran, Panama, Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Uruguay. The CIA organized the overthrow of constitutional democracies. Read the book Under Cover: 35 Years of CIA Deception by the journalist Darrell Garwood. Remember the Henry Kissinger quote before Congress when he was being grilled to explain what they had done to overthrow the democratic government in Chile, in which the President, Salvador Allende had been killed. And he said, “The issues are much too important for the Chilean voters to be left to decide for themselves.”

We had covert actions against China, very much like what we’re doing against Nicaragua today, that led us directly into the Korean war, where we fought China in Korea. We had a long covert action in Vietnam, very much like the one that we’re running in Nicaragua today, that tracked us directly into the Vietnam war. Read the book The Hidden History of the Korean War by I. F. Stone. Read Deadly Deceits by Ralph McGehee for the Vietnam story. In Thailand, the Congo, Laos, Vietnam, Taiwan, and Honduras, the CIA put together large standing armies. In Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, the Congo, Iran, Nicaragua, and Sri Lanka, the CIA armed and encouraged ethnic minorities to rise up and fight. The first thing we began doing in Nicaragua in 1981 was to fund an element of the Miskito Indians, to give them money and training and arms, so they could rise up and fight against the government in Managua. In El Salvador, Vietnam, Korea, Iran, Uganda and the Congo, the CIA helped form and train the death squads.

In El Salvador specifically, under the “Alliance for Progress” in the early 1960s, the CIA helped put together the Treasury Police. These are the people that haul people out at night today, and run trucks over their heads. These are the people that the Catholic Church tells us has killed something over 50,000 civilians in the last 5 years. And we have testimony before our Congress that as late as 1982, leaders of the Treasury Police were still on the CIA payroll.

  1. Training Local Cops on the Beat

Then you have the “Public Safety Program.” I have to take just a minute on this one because it’s a very important principle involved that we must understand, if we’re to understand ourselves and the world that we live in. In this one, the CIA was working with police forces throughout Latin America for about 26 years, teaching them how to wrap up subversive networks by capturing someone and interrogating them, torturing them, and then getting names and arresting the others and going from there. This was such a brutal and such a bloody operation, that Amnesty International began to complain and publish reports. Then there were United Nations hearings. Then eventually our Congress was forced to yield to international pressure and investigate it, and they found the horror that was being done, and by law they forced it to stop. You can read these reports—the Amnesty International findings, and our own Congressional hearings.

These things kill people—800,000 in Indonesia alone, according to the CIA’s estimate, 12,000 in Nicaragua, 10,000 in the Angolan operation that I was sitting on in Washington, managing the task force. They add up. We’ll never know how many people have been killed in them. Obviously It’s a lot. Obviously it’s at least a million—800,000 in Indonesia alone. Undoubtedly, the minimum figure has to be 3 million. Then you add in a million people killed in Korea, 2 million people killed in the Vietnam war, and you’re obviously getting into gross millions of people.

  1. The United States Deterred by Nuclear Arsenals

We do not parachute teams into the Soviet Union to haul families out at night and castrate the father with the children watching because they have The Bomb, and a big army, and they would parachute teams right back into our country and do the same thing to us. They’re not scared of us. For slightly different reasons, but also obvious reasons, we don’t do these things in England, or France, or Germany, or Sweden, or Italy, or Japan. What comes out at you immediately is that these 1 to 3 million direct victims, the dead, and in these other wars, are people of the Third World. They’re citizens of countries that are too small to defend themselves from United States’ brutality and aggression. They’re people of the Mitumba mountains of the Congo, and the jungles of Southeast Asia, and now the hills of northern Nicaragua—12,000 peasants. We have not killed KGB or Russian Army advisors in Nicaragua. We are not killing Cuban advisors. We’re not killing very many Sandinistas. The 12,000 that we have killed in Nicaragua are peasants who have the misfortune of living in the CIA’s chosen battlefield. Mostly women and children. Communists? Far, far, far more Catholics than anything else.

  1. Domestic Operations

Case officers that do these things in places in Nicaragua do not come back to the U.S. and click their heels and suddenly become responsible citizens. They have been functioning above the laws of God and the laws of man. They’ve come back to this country, and they’ve continued their operations as far as they can get away with them. And we have abundant documentation of that as well. The MH-Chaos program, exposed in the late 60s and shut down, re-activated by President Reagan to a degree—we don’t have the details yet—in which they were spending a billion dollars to manipulate U.S. student and labor organizations. The MK-Ultra program: for 20 years, working through over 200 medical schools and mental hospitals, including Harvard Medical School, Georgetown, some of the biggest places we’ve got, to experiment on American citizens with diseases and drugs.

They dragged a barge through San Francisco Bay, leaking a virus, to measure this technique for crippling a city. They launched a whooping cough epidemic in a Long Island suburb to see what it would do to the community if all the kids had whooping cough. Tough shit about the 2 or 3 with weak constitutions that might die in the process. They put light bulbs in the subways in Manhattan that would create vertigo—make people have double vision so they couldn’t see straight. And they hid cameras in the walls to see what would happen at rush hour when the trains are zipping past and everybody has vertigo, and they can’t see straight, and they’re bumping into each other.

And Colonel White. I can’t not mention the disease experimentations, the use of deadly diseases we launched when we were destabilizing Cuba for 7 years. We launched the swine fever epidemic, in the hog population, trying to kill all of the pigs with a virus. We experimented in Haiti on the people with viruses.

I do not have the slightest shred of evidence that there is any truth or indication of truth to the rumor that the CIA and its experimentations were responsible for AIDS. But we do have it documented that the CIA has been experimenting on people with viruses. And now we have some deadly killer viruses running around in society, and it has to make you wonder, and it has to make you worry.

Colonel White wrote from retirement—he was the man who was in charge of this macabre program—he wrote, “I toiled whole-heartedly in the vineyards because it was fun, fun, fun. Where else could a red-blooded American boy lie, kill, cheat, steal, rape and pillage with the blessings of the all-highest?” That program, the MK-Ultra program, was eventually exposed by the press in 1972, investigated by the Congress, and shut down by the Congress. You can dig up the Congressional record and read it for yourself.

There’s one book called In Search of the Manchurian Candidate. It’s written by John Marks, based on 14,000 documents gotten out of the government under the Freedom of Information Act. Read for yourselves. The thing was shut down, but not one CIA case officer who was involved was in any way punished. Not one case officer involved in these experimentations on the American public lost a single paycheck for what they had done.

  1. CIA Influence on the Media

The Church committee found that the CIA had co-opted several hundred journalists, including some of the biggest names in the business, to pump its propaganda stories into our media, to teach us to hate Fidel Castro, and Ho Chi Minh, and the Chinese, and whomever. The latest flap or scandal we had about that was a year and a half ago. Leslie Gelb, the heavyweight with the New York Times, was exposed for having been working covertly with the CIA in 1978 to recruit journalists in Europe, who would introduce stories and print stories that would create sympathy for the neutron bomb.

The Church Committee found that they had published over 1,000 books, paying someone to write a book. The CIA puts its propaganda lines in it, then the professor or the scholar gets credit for the book and gets the royalties. The latest flap we had about that was last year. A professor at Harvard was exposed for accepting $105,000 dollars from the CIA to write a book about the Middle East. Several thousand professors and graduate students were co-opted by the CIA to run its operations on campuses and build files on students.

We have evidence now of something which has been hard to collect in the past but we knew was happening: CIA agents trying to manipulate our elections. FDN, Contra commanders, traveling this country on CIA plane tickets, going on television and pin-pointing a Congressional district and saying, “That man is soft on Communism. That man is a Sandinista lover.” CIA agents were going on television, trying to manipulate our elections.

All of this was done to “keep America safe for freedom and democracy.”

In Nicaragua, the objective is to stop the Cuban and Soviet take-over, we say. Another big operation in which we said the same thing was Angola, 1975, my little war. We were saying exactly the same thing: Cubans and Soviets.

I will not go into great detail about this one tonight because I wrote a book about it. I detailed it. And you can get a copy of that book and read it for yourselves. I have to urge you, however, to please not rush out and buy a copy of that book because the CIA sued me. All of my profits go to the CIA, so if you buy a copy of the book, you’ll be donating 65 cents to the CIA. So check it out from your library! If you have to buy a copy, well, buy one copy and share it with all your friends. If your bookstore is doing real well and you want to just sort of put a copy down in your belt…

  1. More on Censorship

I don’t know what the solution is when a society gets into censorship, government censorship, but that’s what we’re in now. Do the rules change? I just got my book, my latest book, back from the CIA censors. If I had not submitted it to them, I would have gone to jail, without trial—no juries and all that sort of thing—for having violated our censorship laws.

So now we have the CIA running the operation in Nicaragua, lying to us, running 50 covert actions, and gearing us up for our next war, the Central American war. Let there be no doubt about it, President Reagan has a fixation on Nicaragua. He came into office saying that we shouldn’t be afraid of war, saying we have to face and erase the scars of the Vietnam War. He said in 1983, “We will do whatever is necessary to reverse the situation in Nicaragua,” meaning get rid of the Sandinistas. Admiral LaRocque, at the Center for Defense Information in Washington, says this is the most elaborately prepared invasion that the U.S. has ever done—at least that he’s witnessed in his 40 years of association with our military.

We have rehearsed the invasion of Nicaragua in operations Big Pine I, Big Pine II, Ocean Venture, Grenedara, Big Pine III. We have troops right now in Honduras preparing. We’ve built 12 bases, including 8 airstrips. Obviously, we don’t need 8 airstrips in Honduras for any purpose, except to support the invasion of Nicaragua. We’ve built radar stations around it, to survey and watch. Some of these ventures have been huge—hundreds of airplanes, 30,000 troops, rehearsing the invasion of Nicaragua.

And of course, Americans are being given this negative view of these evil communist dictators in Managua, just 2 days’ drive from Harlingen, Texas. (They drive faster than I do by the way). I saw an ad on TV just two days ago in which they said that it was just 2 hours from Managua to Texas. All of this is getting us ready for the invasion of Nicaragua, for our next war.

Most of the people—75% of the people—are polled as being against this action. However, President Eisenhower said, “The people of the world genuinely want peace. Someday the leadership of the world are going to have to give in and give it to them.” But to date, the leaders never have. They’ve always been able to outwit the people and get us into the wars when they’ve chosen to do so.

People ask how this is possible. I get this all the time. Americans are decent people. They are nice people. And they’re insulated in the worlds that they live in. And we don’t understand and read our history. History is the history of war, of leaders, of countries finding reasons and rationales to send young men off to fight.

In our country, we talk about peace, but look at our own record. We have over 200 incidents in which we put our troops into other countries to force them to follow our will. Now we’re being prepared to hate the Sandinistas. The leaders are doing exactly what they have done time and again throughout history. In the past, we were taught to hate and fight the Seminole Indians, after the leaders decided to annex Florida. We were taught to hate and fight the Cherokee Indians after they found gold in Georgia, to hate and fight Mexico twice. We annexed Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, part of Colorado, and California.

In each of these wars, the leaders have worked to organize, to orchestrate public opinion. And then when they got people worked up, they had a trigger that would flash, that would make people angry enough that we could go in and do what had been planned.

We have a feeling that the Vietnam War was the first one in which the people resisted. But once again, we haven’t read our history. In 1915, Kate Richards-O’Hare said about WW I, “The Women of the U.S. are nothing but brutes salles [literally: dirty brutes, figuratively: beasts of burden], producing sons to be put in the army, to be made into fertilizer.” She was jailed for 5 years for anti-war talk.

The lesson of the Vietnam war for the American people is that it was a tragic mistake. 58,000 of our own young people were killed, and 2 million Vietnamese were killed. We withdrew, and our position wound up actually stronger in the Pacific Basin.

  1. Preparations for More War

You look around this society today to see if there’s any evidence of our preparations for war, and it hits you in the face.

“Join the Army. Be all that you can be.” If there was truth in advertising, obviously those commercials would show a few seconds of young men with their legs blown off at the knees, young men with their intestines wrapped around their necks because that’s what war is really all about.

If there were honesty on the part of the army and the government, they would tell about the Vietnam veterans, more of whom died violent deaths from suicide after they came back from Vietnam than died in the fighting itself.

  1. Chicken Hawks

Then you have President Reagan. He talks about the glory of war, but you have to ask yourself where he was when wars were being fought that he was young enough to fight in—World War II, and the Korean war. He was in Hollywood, making films, where the blood was catsup, and you could wash it off and go out to dinner afterwards.

Where was Gordon Liddy when he was young enough to go and fight in a war? He was hiding out in the U.S. running sloppy, illegal, un-professional breaking-and-entering operations. Forgive my egotism, but at that time I was running professional breaking-and-entering operations.

What about Rambo himself, Sylvester Stallone? Where was Sylvester Stallone during the Vietnam war? He got a draft deferment for a physical disability, and taught physical education in a girls’ school in Switzerland during the war.

  1. Nuclear Recklessness

Getting back to President Reagan. He really did say, “You can always call cruise missiles back.” You can call back a B-52, and you can call back a submarine, but a cruise missile is different. When it lands, it goes boom! And I would prefer that the man with the finger on the button could understand the difference. This is the man that calls the MX a peace-maker. This is the man who’s gone on television and told us that nuclear war could be winnable. This is the man who’s gone on television and proposed that we might want to drop demonstration atom bombs in Europe to show people that we’re serious people. This is the man who likens the Contras to the moral equivalents of our own founding fathers. This is the man who says South Africa is making progress on racial equality. This is the man who says that the Sandinistas are hunting down and hounding and persecuting Jews in Nicaragua. And the Jewish leaders go on TV the next day in this country and say there are 5 Jewish families in Nicaragua, and they’re not having any problems at all. This is the man who says that they’re financing their revolution by smuggling drugs into the U.S. And the DEA says, “It ain’t true, it’s president Reagan’s Contras that are doing it.”

When Reagan was governor of California, he said, “If there has to be a bloodbath then let’s get it over with.” You have to think about this a minute—the leader of the U.S. seriously proposing a bloodbath of our own youth. There was an outcry in the press, so 3 days later he said it again to make sure no one had misunderstood him.

Read. You have to read to inform yourselves. Read The Book of Quotes on Reagan: The Man and the Presidency by Ronnie Dugger. It gets heavy. Dugger concludes in his last chapter that President Reagan has a fixation on Armageddon. The Village Voice 18 months ago published an article citing the 11 times that President Reagan publicly has talked about the fact that we are all living out Armageddon today.

Reagan has Jerry Falwell into the White House. This is the man that preaches that we should get on our knees and beg for God to send the rapture down—hell’s fires on earth so the chosen can go up on high and all the other people can burn in hell’s fires on earth. President Reagan sees himself as playing the role of the greatest leader of all times forever. Leading us into Armageddon. As he goes out at the end of his long life, we’ll all go out with him.

  1. Why Keep the World Hostile and Unstable?

Why does the CIA run 10,000 brutal covert actions? Why are we destabilizing a third of the countries in the world today when there’s so much instability and misery already? Why are our leaders now taking us into another war? Why are we systematically taught to hate and fight other people?

What you have to understand is the politics of paranoia. The easiest buttons to punch are the buttons of macho aggression, paranoia, hate, anger, and fear. “The Communists are in Managua and that’s just 2 hours from San Diego, California.” This gets people excited, so they don’t think. It’s the pep-rally, the football pep-rally factor. When you get people worked up to hate, they’ll let you spend huge amounts of money on arms.

Read The Power Elite by C. Wright Mills. Read The Permanent War Economy by Seymour Melman. CIA covert actions have the function of keeping the world hostile and unstable.

We can’t take care of the poor. We can’t take care of the old, but we can spend millions, hundreds of millions of dollars to destabilize Nicaragua.

  1. Conclusion: What is to be done?

Why arms instead of schools? They can make gigantic profits off the nuclear arms race because of the hysteria, and the paranoia, and the secrecy. And they’re committed to building more and more and more weapons because they’re committed to making a profit. And that’s what the propaganda and the hysteria are all about. People ask, “What can I do?”

The youth did rise up and stop the Vietnam war. We have to join hands with the people in England, and France, and Germany, and Israel, and the Soviet Union, and China, and India—the countries that have the bomb—and the others that are trying to get it, and give our leaders no choice. They have to find some other way to do business other than to motivate us through hate and paranoia and anger and killing, or we’ll find other leaders to run the country.

Helen Caldicott, at the end of her lectures, has said very effectively, “Tell people to get out and get to work on the problem. You’ll feel better.”

“What can I do?” If you can travel, go to Nicaragua and see for yourself. Go to the Nevada Test Site and see for yourself. Go to Pantex on Hiroshima Day this summer, and see the vigil there. It’s the place where we make 10 nose-cones a day, 70 a week, year in and year out. Admiral LaRocque said, “I’d tell them, if they feel comfortable lying down in front of trucks with bombs on them, to lie down in front of trucks with bombs on them.” But he said, “I’d tell them that they can’t wait. They’ve got to start tomorrow, today, and do it, what they can, every day of their lives.”

Bibliography (books mentioned in the Lecture, alphabetical by first author’s last name)

Reed Brody, Contra Terror in Nicaragua: Report of a Fact-finding Mission: September 1984-January 1985 (South End Press, 1985).

Christopher Dickey, With the Contras: A Reporter in the Wilds of Nicaragua (Simon & Schuster, 1986).

Ronnie Dugger, On Reagan: The Man and the Presidency (McGraw-Hill, 1983).

Dieter Eich, The Contras: Interviews with Anti-Sandinistas (Praeger, 1985).

Darrell Garwood, Under Cover: Thirty-five Years of CIA Deception (Grove Press, 1986).

Carolyn Gill and Richard Taylor (compilers), What We Have Seen and Heard: The Effects of the Contra War Against Nicaragua Paperback (Witness for Peace Documentation Project, 1985).

Stephen Kinzer and Stephen Schlesinger, Bitter Fruit: The Story of the American Coup in Guatemala (David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies,1982).

Jonathan Kwitny, Endless Enemies: America’s Worldwide War Against Its Own Best Interests (Contemporary Books, 1970).

Walter LaFeber, Inevitable Revolutions: the United States in Central America (W. W. Norton, 1984).

Victor Marchetti and John D. Marks, The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence (Alfred A. Knopf, 1974).

John D. Marks, The Search for the “Manchurian Candidate”: The CIA and Mind Control and The Secret History of the Behavioral Sciences (W. W. Norton & Company, 1979).

Ralph McGehee, Deadly Deceits: My 25 Years in the CIA (Sheridan Square Publications, 1983).

Alfred W. McCoy, The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia (Chicago Review Press, 1972).

Seymour Melman, The Permanent War Economy: American Capitalism in Decline (Touchstone, 1985).

Wright Mills, The Power Elite (Oxford University Press, 1956, 2000).

Frank Snepp, Decent Interval: An Insider’s Account of Saigon’s Indecent End Told by the CIA’s Chief Strategy Analyst in Vietnam (University Press of Kansas, 1977, 2002).

John Stockwell, In Search of Enemies: A CIA Story (W.W. Norton, 1978).

John Stockwell, The Praetorian Guard (South End Press, 1991).

F. Stone, The Hidden History of the Korean War, 1950-1951: A Nonconformist History of Our Times (Little Brown & Co, 1988).


The original transcript was prepared by The Other Americas Radio, Programs & News on Latin America. The previous version of transcript is posted here and here. The revised transcript above was edited slightly to correct syntax errors and to better translate the spoken lecture into a format suitable for an audience of readers. Content and the speaker’s intended meaning were carefully preserved, but punctuation was changed, sentence fragments were corrected, and spelling errors were fixed. The original transcript had a few errors in its references to authors and book titles. These were also corrected. Section headings were added to this revision in order to help readers refer to specific topics covered in this long 12,000-word text.


Other sources

John Stockwell’s speech from 1991/10/22, Toronto (Hosted by CIUT Radio, University of Toronto community radio).

The CIA, John Stockwell, and A Tale of Two Speeches,” Northwest Research & Covert Book Report, January 19, 2018.

The previous transcript of this speech and other works by John Stockwell are archived here.

Excerpts from John Stockwell’s book The Praetorian Guard.

About John Stockwell.