A history of the CIA is a history of one debacle after another. The organisation murdered, manipulated and mismanaged its way across the globe for decades, and a reading of this utterly fascinating book goes considerably to understanding why America’s international standing is so poor. The senior management of the CIA lied to presidents, lied to the public, and lied to their own personnel. Australia’s intelligence services have long been closely associated with their American counterparts.
Extracts from Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA, by Pulitzer Prize winning author Tim Weiner:
Get rid of the clown’s, the president kept commanding. What use are they? They’ve got 40,000 people over there reading newspapers.
The US is spending $6 billion dollars per year on intelligence and deserve to get a lot more than it is getting.
Since Nixon’s days, the budget has ballooned. Now spy agencies, including the CIA and the NSA, are getting more than $52 billion and military intelligence another $23 billion, according to published estimates. Some sources of income are believed to be concealed.
FERMENTING HOLY WAR
The CIA’s biggest gun running mission was it’s global pipeline to the mujahideen, the holy warriors of Afghanistan, were fighting the 110000-man Soviet Army of occupation. It began under Jimmy Carter in January 1980. Because it was Carter’s idea, Casey did not embrace it wholeheartedly – not at first. But soon he saw the opportunity at hand.
“I was the first chief of station ever sent abroad with his wonderful order: go kill Soviet soldiers,” said Howard Hart, who arrived as the chief in Pakistan in 1981. “Imagine! I loved it.” It was a noble goal. But the mission was not to liberate Afghanistan. No one believed that the Afghans could actually win.
From the start, the Saudis matched the CIA support for the rebels, dollar for dollar. The Chinese kicked in millions of dollars’ worth of weapons, as did the Egyptians and British. The CIA coordinated the shipments. Hart handed them over to Pakistani intelligence. The Pakistani skimmed off a large share before delivering them to the exiled political leaders of the Afghan resistance in Peshawar, east of the Khyber Pass, and the rebel leaders cached their own share before the weapons ever got to Afghanistan.
“We didn’t try to tell the Afghan Rebels how to fight the war,” John McMahon said. “But when we saw some of the Soviet successes against some of the mujahideen, I became convinced that all the arms that we had provided will not ending up in Afghan shooters hands.” So he went to Pakistani convened a meeting of the seven leaders of the Afghan rebel groups, who ranged from Parisian exiles wearing soft loafers too rough-hewn mountain men. “I told them I was concerned that they were siphoning off the arms and either caching them for a later day or, I said, ‘God forbid, you selling them.’ And they laughed. And they said, ‘You’re absolutely right! We’re caching some arms. Because someday the United States will not be here, and we’ll be left on her own to carry on our struggle.'”
The Pakistani intelligence chiefs who told out the CIA’s guns and money favoured the Afghan factions who proved themselves most capable in battle. Those factions also happened to be the most committed Islamists. No one dreamed that the holy warriors could ever turn their jihad against the United States.
ENTERING WAR WITH NO IDEA
Now Beirut was a battleground for the United States. But the CIA report, bereft of sources, have no impact whatsoever. American Marines residing with the Christians, American Jets were dropping bombs on Muslims, and American ships would loving one-ton shells into the hills of Lebanon without knowing what they were hitting. The White House at gone to war in the Middle East with no idea what it was getting into.
There is so much more.
Read the book.