Culture and Life
by Rob Gowland
The various books written by former insiders in the CIA reveal an organisation that is isolated from the people in the countries it is trying to penetrate, influence or "protect". They also reveal that gathering intelligence is neither its main purpose nor its forte. Contrary to the image cultivated in the media and the movies, US policy is primarily determined by political priorities; genuine intelligence gathering and analysis plays little part. In fact most CIA "intelligence" is prepared for the purpose of justifying and supporting actions already initiated. In other words, since the CIA is the covert action arm of the US administration rather than an intelligence service, the type of "intelligence" it wants is whatever will convince Congress to continue funding the relevant government program, whether it be the "war on drugs", the blockade of Iraq or the overthrow of socialism in Cuba. The problem with this kind of selective intelligence gathering and reporting is that your own organisation is likely to come to believe it — especially if phony or grossly biased intelligence is all they ever see. On New Year's Day, anniversary of the victory of the Cuban Revolution, the people of Havana were woken at 8:07am by a light plane that flew low over the city, "past the Melia-Cohiba Hotel, headed west as far as the corner of 5th Avenue and 86th Street, then up to 19th and 84th, turned east, passed over the Havana Forest, the National Hotel, the entry to the Port, Casablanca, and the Naval Hospital, and then headed out to sea, back to the United States", whence it had come. The Cuban Foreign Ministry quickly identified the pilot as a Vietnamese- born US citizen, "a former member of the Saigon Air Force, who fought in the puppet army alongside the US forces that murdered four million men, women and children in Viet Nam". As if Cuba didn't have enough to put up with, complained the Foreign Ministry, with the criminal US blockade and constant US-inspired provocations: "Now along comes a remnant of the fecal matter known as the Saigon Army, flying over the capital of Cuba ... with the highly noble purpose of `freeing' our `enslaved' people." Reflecting just the kind of out of touch intelligence assessment that I spoke about at the beginning of this article, the leaflets showered over Havana proclaimed (in rather poor Spanish) that "God and Justice order all Cuba patriots to stand up and declare the death of the inhuman and tyrannical regime. "All Cubans must: "1. Disseminate this proclaim in the most efficient way possible. "2. Call a general strike and take to the streets to demand the right to be they own masters once again. "3. Protest at key military and administrative sites, calling on soldiers and the police to return to the just national cause. "4. Occupy radio and television stations to call for a popular uprising. "5. Coordinate internal resistance forces with external ones, including all those who fight for freedom in Viet Nam, China, Korea, etc, as part of a general uprising to depose the tyrant of Habana... with the goal of building a independent, free and prosperous Cuba." The document was signed illegibly by someone with the flamboyant title of "Commander-in-Chief of the Worldwide Anti-Communist Revolutionary Forces". (That name is actually interesting: only a few years ago we were being told that communism was dead? Can it be that the Reds are once again putting the wind up imperialism?) What the Cuban Foreign Ministry found most stupefying about this "silly counterrevolutionary provocation" was its timing: Cubans at the moment have been taking to the streets in their thousands almost daily to demand the return from the US of six-year-old kidnap victim Elian Gonzalez. Anti-US feeling is at its height among the Cuban people. "As opposed to encouraging them to do battle, they need to be restrained to ensure that their righteous anger and impatience do not boil over", says the Foreign Ministry. The CIA was forever parachuting agents into the USSR and China to "rouse the oppressed peasants to revolt", based on bogus intelligence from agents with a vested interest in maintaining a false picture of the state of the "enslaved population" in socialist countries. These parachuted agents were soon rounded up and handed over to the police by local farmers who didn't seem to realise that they were being liberated from communist tyranny. There are undoubtedly those in the CIA who know the real situation in Cuba. But the leaders of the US and the CIA don't want to know the truth, still less to have it disseminated to the people of the US, for it would not accord with their policy. In fact it would directly contradict it.