Not Exactly the CIA
A Revised History of Modern American Disasters
A piercing look at American bombing disasters in the last fifty years — Gander, Oklahoma City, Lockerbie, 9/11, and others — and at their cumulative effect: intimidation of legislators and citizens into accepting reactionary political measures in the name of “national security.”
This book is a vigorous effort to answer the question, “How did we get here?” This question troubles every American over the age of fourteen. How did America lose power in the world? How did American democracy become undermined?
One answer starts in a seemingly unlikely place: the desert near the California-Mexico border, home of the poverty-stricken Cabazon Band of Mission Indians. This reservation was exploited by non-Indian political zealots to further plans for America that were truly radical. These radical plans went unnoticed even when they were carried out over ensuing decades.
US Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis wrote, in 1928: The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in the insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well meaning, but without understanding.
Previous to Cabazon, during the Vietnam war, zealous U.S. anti-communists committed the My Lai massacre, and ran the murderous CIA Operation Phoenix. A slow trickle of news told the public the nature of CIA “operations” in Vietnam. The public slowly learned that the CIA was doing much more than updating the president on how things stood in foreign countries – it was “doing something about” those countries.
The public even more slowly learned they themselves – if progressive politically – equally were targets of “do something about it” intelligence operations. CIA “operations” were sacrosanct and secret, exempted even from CIA “analysis” agents, as former CIA agent Ray McGovern relates: I found it strange that subway-style turnstiles prevented analysts from going to the “operations side of the house.”
These let’s-do-something-about-it agents often worked without direct supervision; in the words of then-CIA Director Bedell Smith, “the operational tail … wag(s) the intelligence dog.” After the Vietnam war, some CIA agents were fired who had run Operation Phoenix.
These “cowboy” ex-agents didn’t quit their fervent anti-communist activities. They became what Phelps calls “Not-Exactly-the-CIA.” This loose quasi-organization has not gone away; it has strengthened, committed further heinous acts, and remains active today. In light of the above, the question of ‘How did we get here?’ ’is a quintessential American question that, as Phelps shows, has gone unaddressed by news media. This book offers an answer to the question ‘How did we get here?’