The wealthy have always used many methods to accumulate wealth, but it was not until the mid-1970s that these methods coalesced into a superbly organized, cohesive and efficient machine. After 1975, it became greater than the sum of its parts, a smooth flowing organization of advocacy groups, lobbyists, think tanks, conservative foundations, and PR firms that hurtled the richest 1 percent into the stratosphere.
The origins of this machine, interestingly enough, can be traced back to the CIA. This is not to say the machine is a formal CIA operation, complete with code name and signed documents. (Although such evidence may yet surface — and previously unthinkable domestic operations such as MK-ULTRA, CHAOS and MOCKINGBIRD show this to be a distinct possibility.) But what we do know already indicts the CIA strongly enough. Its principle creators were Irving Kristol, Paul Weyrich, William Simon, Richard Mellon Scaife, Frank Shakespeare, William F. Buckley, Jr., the Rockefeller family, and more. Almost all the machine’s creators had CIA backgrounds.
During the 1970s, these men would take the propaganda and operational techniques they had learned in the Cold War and apply them to the Class War. Therefore it is no surprise that the American version of the machine bears an uncanny resemblance to the foreign versions designed to fight communism. The CIA’s expert and comprehensive organization of the business class would succeed beyond their wildest dreams. In 1975, the richest 1 percent owned 22 percent of America’s wealth. By 1992, they would nearly double that, to 42 percent — the highest level of inequality in the 20th century.
How did this alliance start? The CIA has always recruited the nation’s elite: millionaire businessmen, Wall Street brokers, members of the national news media, and Ivy League scholars. During World War II, General “Wild Bill” Donovan became chief of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the forerunner of the CIA. Donovan recruited so exclusively from the nation’s rich and powerful that members eventually came to joke that “OSS” stood for “Oh, so social!”
Another early elite was Allen Dulles, who served as Director of the CIA from 1953 to 1961. Dulles was a senior partner at the Wall Street firm of Sullivan and Cromwell, which represented the Rockefeller empire and other mammoth trusts, corporations and cartels. He was also a board member of the J. Henry Schroeder Bank, with offices in Wall Street, London, Zurich and Hamburg. His financial interests across the world would become a conflict of interest when he became head of the CIA. Like Donavan, he would recruit exclusively from society’s elite.
By the 1950s, the CIA had riddled the nation’s businesses, media and universities with tens of thousands of part-time, on-call operatives. Their employment with the agency took a variety of forms, which included:
- Leaving one’s profession to work for the CIA in a formal, official capacity.
- Staying in one’s profession, using the job as cover for CIA activity. This undercover activity could be full-time, part-time, or on-call.
- Staying in one’s profession, occasionally passing along information useful to the CIA.
- Passing through the revolving door that has always existed between the agency and the business world.
Many common traits made it inevitable that the CIA and Corporate America would become allies. Both share an intense dislike of democracy, and feel they should be liberated from democratic regulations and oversight. Both share a culture of secrecy, either hiding their actions from the American public or lying about them to present the best public image. And both are in a perfect position to help each other.
How? International businesses give CIA agents cover, secret funding, top-quality resources and important contacts in foreign lands. In return, the CIA gives corporations billion-dollar federal contracts (for spy planes, satellites and other hi-tech spycraft). Businessmen also enjoy the romantic thrill of participating in spy operations. The CIA also gives businesses a certain amount of protection and privacy from the media and government watchdogs, under the guise of “national security.” Finally, the CIA helps American corporations remain dominant in foreign markets, by overthrowing governments hostile to unregulated capitalism and installing puppet regimes whose policies favor American corporations at the expense of their people.
The CIA’s alliance with the elite turned out to be an unholy one. Each enabled the other to rise above the law. Indeed, a review of the CIA’s history is one of such crime and atrocity that no one can reasonably defend it, even in the name of anticommunism. Before reviewing this alliance in detail, it is useful to know the CIA’s history of atrocity first.
The Crimes of the CIADuring World War II, the OSS actively engaged in propaganda, sabotage and countless other dirty tricks. After the war, and even after the CIA was created in 1947, the American intelligence community reverted to harmless information gathering and analysis, thinking that the danger to national security had passed. That changed in 1948 with the emergence of the Cold War. In that year, the CIA recreated its covert action wing, innocuously called the Office of Policy Coordination. Its first director was Wall Street lawyer Frank Wisner. According to its secret charter, its responsibilities included
“propaganda, economic warfare, preventive direct action, including sabotage, antisabotage, demolition and evacuation procedures; subversion against hostile states, including assistance to underground resistance groups, and support of indigenous anti-communist elements in threatened countries of the free world.”By 1953, the dirty tricks department of the CIA had grown to 7,200 personnel and commanded 74 percent of the CIA’s total budget. The following quotes describe the culture of lawlessness that pervaded the CIA:
Stanley Lovell, a CIA recruiter for “Wild Bill” Donovan: “What I have to do is to stimulate the Peck’s Bad Boy beneath the surface of every American scientist and say to him, ‘Throw all your normal law-abiding concepts out the window. Here’s a chance to raise merry hell. Come help me raise it.’” 1Blessed with secrecy and lack of congressional oversight, CIA operations became corrupt almost immediately. Using propaganda stations like Voice of America and Radio Free Europe, the CIA felt justified in manipulating the public for its own good. The broadcasts were so patently false that for a time it was illegal to publish transcripts of them in the U.S. This was a classic case of a powerful organization deciding what was best for the people, and then abusing the powers it had helped itself to.
George Hunter White, writing of his CIA escapades: “I toiled wholeheartedly 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 sanction and blessing of the all-highest?” 2
A retired CIA agency caseworker with twenty years experience: “I never gave a thought to legality or morality. Frankly, I did what worked.”
During the 40s and 50s, most of the public was unaware of what the CIA was doing. Those who knew thought they were fighting the good fight against communism, like James Bond. However, they could not keep their actions secret forever, and by the 60s and 70s, Americans began learning about the agency’s crimes and atrocities. 3 It turns out the CIA has:
- Corrupted democratic elections in Greece, Italy and dozens of other nations;
- Been involved to varying degrees in at least 35 assassination plots against foreign heads of state or prominent political leaders. Successful assassinations include democratically elected leaders like Salvador Allende (Chile) and Patrice Lumumba (Belgian Congo); also CIA-created dictators like Rafael Trujillo (Dominican Republic) and Ngo Dinh Diem (South Vietnam); and popular political leaders like Che Guevara. Unsuccessful attempts range from Fidel Castro to Charles De Gaulle.
- Helped launch military coups that toppled democratic governments, replacing them with brutal dictatorships or juntas. The list of overthrown democratic leaders includes Mossadegh (Iran, 1953), Arbenz (Guatemala, 1954), Velasco and Arosemena (Ecuador, 1961, 1963), Bosch (Dominican Republic, 1963), Goulart (Brazil, 1964), Sukarno (Indonesia, 1965), Papandreou (Greece, 1965-67), Allende (Chile, 1973), and dozens of others.
- Undermined the governments of Australia, Guyana, Cambodia, Jamaica and more;
- Supported murderous dictators like General Pinochet (Chile), the Shah of Iran, Ferdinand Marcos (Philippines), “Papa Doc” and “Baby Doc” Duvalier (Haiti), General Noriega (Panama), Mobutu Sese Seko (Ziare), the “reign of the colonels” (Greece), and more;
- Created, trained and supported death squads and secret police forces that tortured and murdered hundreds of thousands of civilians, leftists and political opponents, in Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Haiti, Bolivia, Cuba, Mexico, Uruguay, Brazil, Chile, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Iran, Turkey, Angola and others;
- Helped run the “School of the Americas” at Fort Benning, Georgia, which trains Latin American military officers how to overthrow democratic governments. Subjects include the use of torture, interrogation and murder;
- Used Michigan State “professors” to train Diem’s secret police in torture;
- Conducted economic sabotage, including ruining crops, disrupting industry, sinking ships and creating food shortages;
- Paved the way for the massacre of 200,000 in East Timor, 500,000 in Indonesia and one to two million in Cambodia;
- Launched secret or illegal military actions or wars in Nicaragua, Angola, Cuba, Laos and Indochina;
- Planted false stories in the local media;
- Framed political opponents for crimes, atrocities, political statements and embarrassments that they did not commit;
- Spied on thousands of American citizens, in defiance of Congressional law;
- Smuggled Nazi war criminals and weapon scientists into the U.S., unpunished, for their use in the Cold War;
- Created organizations like the World Anti-Communist League, which became filled with ex-Nazis, Nazi sympathizers, Italian terrorists, Japanese fascists, racist Afrikaners, Latin American death squad leaders, CIA agents and other extreme right-wing militants;
- Conducted Operation MK-ULTRA, a mind-control experiment that gave LSD and other drugs to Americans against their will or without their knowledge, causing some to commit suicide;
- Penetrated and disrupted student antiwar organizations;
- Kept friendly and extensive working relations with the Mafia;
- Actively traded in drugs around the world since the 1950s to fund its operations. The Contra/crack scandal is only the tip of the iceberg –- other notorious examples include Southeast Asia’s Golden Triangle and Noriega’s Panama.
- Had their fingerprints all over the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X. Even if the CIA is not responsible for these killings, the sheer amount of CIA involvement in these cases demands answers;
- And then routinely lied to Congress about all of the above.