CIA Covert Operations: Panama and Nicaragua In the 1950’s, the repression of domestic political dissent reached near hysteria. In the process the CIA’s covert operations, already in progress in Europe, expanded worldwide. By 1953, according to the 1970’s Senate investigation, there were major covert programs under way in 48 countries, consisting of propaganda, paramilitary, and political action operations. In 1949, the agency’s covert action department had about 300 employees and 47 stations. In the same period, the budget for these activities grew from $4. 7 million to $82 million.
In this paper I will discuss the United States’ use of covert actions using Panama and Nicaragua as examples. I had planned on writing my paper on Manuel Noriega and his connections with the CIA but the more I read into him I found the major topic outlying him was much more interesting. So with that I will continue on with this paper showing my findings on the CIA covert operations. Covert operations have become a way of life and death for millions of people world wide who have lost their lives to these actions. By 1980, covert operations were costing billions of dollars. CIA Director William Casey was quoted as saying “covert actions were the keystone of U.
S. policy in the Third World.” (Agee, 2) Throughout the CIA’s 45 years, one president after another has used covert operations to intervene secretly, and sometimes not so secretly, in the domestic affairs of other countries, presuming their affairs were ours. Almost always, money was spent for activities to prop up political forces considered friendly to U. S. interests, or to weaken and destroy those considered unfriendly or threatening. The friends were easy to define, they were those who believed and acted like us, took orders and cooperated.
U.S. covert operations thought the history Covert operations have always played a big role in American foreign policies, when it came to defending national interests and providing the homeland security. The legacy of these kinds of policies can be traced all way back to British rule. British Empire has always tried to reach its political goals by pursuing them indirectly. Even when it came to war, ...
Until the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe, enemies were also readily recognized: the Soviet Union and its allies, with China having ambiguous status since the 1970’s. But there were other countries the CIA took actions against who were not associated with the Soviets. Iran in 1953, Guatemala in 1954, Indonesia in 1958, Cuba in 1959, Ecuador in 1963, Brazil in 1964, Chile in 1970, Nicaragua in 1979 and Grenada in 1983 to name a few. (Agee, 2) These governments, and others attacked by the U. S.
, were left, nationalist, reform-minded, populist or uncooperative and U. S. hostility drove some of them to seek arms and other support from the Soviet Union. Usually, the CIA mounted covert operations to weaken and destroy the programs supporting communism by leading and advertising anti-Communist solidarity. The local elites, whose privileged position was also threatened by movements for social change, were the CIA’s natural allies. (Agee, 3) For more in-depth examples, I will look at some covert operations in the 1980’s.
Central America was a major focus of U. S. attention during the 1980’s. Through CIA covert and semi-covert operations, the U.
S. tried simultaneously to overthrow the government of Nicaragua and to destroy the movement for revolutionary reform in El Salvador. In Nicaragua the means were terrorism and destruction through a 10, 000 man paramilitary force, along with a economic blockade, propaganda and diplomatic pressures. (Stiles, 346) About 1% of the population, some 35, 000 people, died. In El Salvador, the CIA an U. S.
military expanded local military and security forces, and with the use of death squads, the U. S backed forces killed over 70, 000 people. Although they targeted trade unionists, student activists, human rights advocates and peasant organizers, the majority of the deaths were killed to instill terror. The CIA in El Salvador used demonstration elections as public relations exercises to cover their atrocities. The military controlled civilian government could then be renamed a’democracy’. In the 1980’s, in both Nicaragua and El Salvador, the U.
Economic Intervention Every day our government makes economic decisions that affect our country and ourselves. Some of these decisions are good and benefit our lives greatly; however, many of our government's decisions, such as where our tax money should go, are not in our best interests. The Canadian government, although it is tightening up it's measures now, has been very lax with our hard ...
S. introduced anew way for exporting U. S. -style democracy, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).
The NED allowed money to flow from the CIA to a bogus foundation, then to U. S.
private organizations like the National Student Association (NSA), and from there to a foreign government. The money was to flow to foundations that were fighting the “global ideological challenge.” The projected beneficiaries were governments, political parties, media, universities, trade unions, churches and employer associations, all traditional CIA covert action targets. (Agee, 5) In the Soviet Bloc, the NED money would be used to promote anti-Communist dissidence through propaganda and would support internal opposition programs. The NED was also used as a way to spot potential recruits as sources of intelligence and agents of influence.
Panama was an early example of political intervention through the NED. In the 1984 election, General Manuel Noriega selected an economist, NicholasBarletta, as the presidential candidate for the military controlled Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD).
The U. S. feared that, if elected, Barletta and his anti-military platform would bring instability to Panama. The U.
S. interest was to ensure that a new Panamanian president would continue to cooperate with U. S. efforts to overthrow the Sandinista government in Nicaragua and to defeat the insurgency in El Salvador. Noriega, a long-time CIA “asset”, was at the time providing services of great importance to the U. S.
, allowing Panama to be used for Contra training and supply bases, as well as for training Salvadoran military officers. (Kinsley, 46) Barletta’s election would ensure untroubled continuation of these activities. During the election campaign, the NED passed money through the Free Trade Union to finance Panamanian unions which actively supported Barletta. The vote count fraud organized by Noriega gave Barletta his election victory, but the Reagan-Bush administration made no protest even though the U.
While searching through various newspapers and newspaper web sites online, I realized that the biggest social problem of all is the how misinformed and uneducated the public is. In search of articles on important social problems, the most prominent topics I found were things such as "Halliburton is awarded $72 Million in Bonuses,"Putin blows of steam over baltics at EU Summit,"Egypt Presidential ...
S. Embassy count showed Arias the winner by 8, 000 votes. (Kinsley, 46) Reagan received Barletta in the White house and Shultz attended his inauguration. A more thorough study of the 1984 Panamanian elections would probably uncover more NED money and showed that the CIA funded the victory. By 1987, Noriega’s usefulness to the U.
S. was coming to an end. A military mission went under way for his indictment by the Justice Department for drug trafficking and the CIA began to plot his removal from power. (Kinsley, 47) The lesson of the Noriega saga seem very clear. The Bush justification of the invasion to combat drug trafficking and bring Noriega to justice could not be the real reason because the CIA and other agencies had known of his drug dealing since the early 1970’s. The real reasons were that Noriega was no longer needed for support of U.
S. goals in Nicaragua and El Salvador and it was Noriega himself that was becoming the source of instability in Panama. Using Noriega as a pretext for invasion, the Bush administration could destroy the Panamanian Defense Forces and reverse the social reforms favoring the poor majority. (Kinsley, 48) This keep the door open to the U. S.
to retain its military bases and control of the Panama canal past the 1999 turnover date set by the Carter – Torri jos treaties. On the night of the invasion, GuillermaEndara, was sworn in as President on a U. S. military base and democracy was restored. Within a short period of time, the drug dealing and money laundering in Pa nama would exceeded that of the Noriega period (Kinsley, 48) A military force was also required to ” restore democracy” in Nicaragua. In this case, however, the invasion was carried out by a surrogate army of 10, 000 contras built by the CIA around the remnants of the 43-year old Somozadictatorship’s National Guard, itself a U.
S. creation. (Agee, 7) Beginning in 1981, through terrorism and destruction, this force gradually bled the economy, undermined the Sandinista social programs, and demoralized the a large sector of the population which had supported the revolution. By 1990, faced with nothing but worsening poverty and continuing terror, the Nicaraguan electorate gave the victory to the Nicaraguan Opposition Union (NOU).
You [Military professionals] must know something about strategy and tactics and logistics, but also economics and politics and diplomacy and history. You must know everything you can know about military power, and you must also understand the limits of military power. You must understand that few of the important problems of our time have in the final analysis, been solved by military power alone ...
This anti-Sandinista coalition was created and financed by various U. S. agencies, including the CIA and the NED. In order to undermine links between the Sandinistas and the people, the CIA deflected the Contras away from the Nicaraguan military toward “soft ” targets having minimum defenses: clinics, schools, infrastructure like roads and bridges. They also destroyed port installations and mined harbors. As a result, average individual consumption dropped 61% between 1980 and 1988.
On estimate puts the U. S. investment in the Contra war at $1 billion. (Agee, 7) Though the Contras successfully sabotaged the economy and terrorized large sectors of the rural population, they failed to defeat the Sandinista military or even take and hold the smallest town for any length of time. Meanwhile, the U. S.
economic blockade cost the economy $3 billion. Another very popular covert action that the CIA is guilty of is that of the propaganda war. From the beginning of the war against Nicaragua, the Reagan-Bush administration faced the problem of overcoming public opposition at home. The solution was to repeat Edward W.
Barrett’s 1950 domestic propaganda campaign to “sell the soviet threat.” In 1982, Walter Raymond, moved from the Agency to the National Security Council to head the campaign while the Contras, under CIA direction, began their own PR campaign in the U. S. A public office was set up in the State Department as the Office of Public Diplomacy for Latin America and the Caribbean and the man behind the scenes was Raymond. The office then handled the contacts with think tanks, researchers and media. The purpose was to place, in the public’s imagination, black hats on the Sandinistas and white hats on the Contras.
(Agee, 8) In effect, it became a huge government campaign using taxpayer money to propagandize the same taxpayers and their representatives in Congress. By 1987, it was clear that, although they could continue to terrorize and destroy infrastructure, the Contras could never win a military victory. So the CIA needed a way to mobilize a large propaganda war to divide the Sandinistas and the 3. 5 million Nicaraguan’s A U. S. plan called for mobilizing three main bodies, a political coalition to oppose the Sandinistas, a trade union coalition, and a mass civic organization.
The election gambit was known as Track I. In case the staged elections failed the back-up plan for a military coup was called Track II. The CIA inducements to Frei included offering substantial sums of money to his re- election campaign, bribing other Christian Democrats outright, and organizing visits and calls from respected leaders abroad. To influence Frei through his wife, the CIA instigated ...
The most important part of the propaganda campaign would be the use of the media operations. The first group that was targeted was the political coalition in Nicaragua. The operation was to use the U. S. Embassy in Managua and let it be known to about two dozen disparate factions that money would be available only to those that “got on board.” (Agee, 8) The result was UNO, whose electoral budget was prepared in the U. S.
Embassy, and whose presidential candidate, Violets Chamorro, owned the anti-Sandinista daily La Prensa, which had received money from the CIA. The second operation involved the labor coalition which was called the Permanent Workers Congress (CPT).
This organization, crucial to using the economic crisis as a principal campaign issue, grouped five union centers for propaganda and voter registration. Some of these unions had also received prior. S. funding.
The NED spent at least $12. 5 million to finance this election in Nicaragua but the NED spent upwards of $2 billion in the total U. S. intervention. Most of that $2 billion was spent on an array of intermediary organizations in the U.
S. and other countries that spent it for programs in training, propaganda and support of the coalitions. The CIA, in addition, is estimated to have spent $11 million, possibly even more, in these fraudulent elections. (Agee, 9) Even though the U. S. has been easy to spot behind these covert operations, it seems that the CIA does not plan anytime soon to abort with future actions.
The 1993 U. S. defense plan, at $1. 5 trillion for the next five years, suggests that the money will be there for covert interventions. The Bush plan called for a 3% reduction in defense spending under the projections made before the dissolution of the Soviet Union. According to the then Director of Central Intelligence, Robert Gates, reductions in the intelligence community budget hidden in the overall defense budget but generally believed to be in excess of$31 billion will begin at only 2.
'Life' In the novel 'A Raisin in the Sun' an African American family suffers the loss of one of their family members. He was the oldest person in the family and had always had dreams of his family having a better life. When he died the life insurance company sent the rest of the family a check for ten thousand dollars. The family argues impatiently about how they should spend the money when they ...
5%. (Wilson) Meanwhile plans under discussion in Congress for reorganizing the whole intelligence community would maintain the capability and legality, under U. S. law to continue covert operations. The Defense Department, CIA and other intelligence agencies have had to make new justifications for their budgets now that the Soviet menace is gone. The worldwide opportunities and needs for covert operations will remain as long as stability, control and authority form the cornerstone of a U.
S. policy that permits it. In fact, Congress passed the National security Education Act in 1991, providing $150 million in “start up” money for development and expansion of university programs in area and language studies, and for scholarships, including foreign studies, for the next generation of national security state bureaucrats. (Wilson) The notable fact is that this program is not to be administered by the Department of Education but by the Pentagon, the CIA, and other security agencies. Alternatives to continuing militarism abroad and social decay at home still exist. Yet militarism and world domination continue to be the main national priority, with covert operations playing an integral role.
Everyone knows that as long as this continues, there will be no solutions to domestic troubles, and the U. S. will continue to decline while growing more separate and unequal. The U. S. government has no “red menace” to whip up hysteria, but the war on drugs seems to be quite adequate for justifying law enforcement practices that have political applications as well.
The U. S. should note that in the current political climate, with clamor for change everywhere, the guardians of traditional power will not give up without a fight. The CIA will find their new ” threats’ and ‘enemies’ in black youths, undocumented immigrants, environmentalists, feminists, gays and lesbians and go on to more ‘mainstream ” opponents in attempts, including domestic covert operations, to divide and discredit the lager movement for reform. Works Cited Agee, Philip. Covert Action Quarterly.
Washington D. C. 1991. Kinsley, Michael.
Time. We Shoot People Don’t We. October 23, 1989. Time Warner. Stiles, Kendall. Case Histories in International Politics.
Harper Collins Publishers, New York 1995 Wilson, Catherine. The Philadelphia Inquirer. New trial is ruled for Noriega. March 28, 1996.