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Cold War covert overthrow of governments by the US

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The United States government has been involved in and assisted in overthrowing many governments by the use of covert military force, primarily through the Central Intelligence Agency.

Euphemistically called "Regime Change", this has been attempted through direct involvement of US operatives, the funding and training of insurgency groups within these countries, anti-regime propaganda campaigns, coup d'états, and other, often illegal, activities usually conducted as operations by the CIA. The US has also accomplished regime change a combination of secret operations and by direct military action, such as the US invasion of Panama in 1989, before which time the CIA sponsored a radio station to broadcast anti-Noriega propaganda (Wikipedia:Operation Acid Gambit), and the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Some argue that non-transparent United States government agencies working in secret sometimes mislead or do not fully implement the decisions of elected civilian leaders and that this has been an important component of many such operations.[1] See Plausible deniability. Some contend that the US has supported more coups against democracies that it perceived as communist, or becoming communist.[1] The balance of powers cannot have envisioned the power of the Executive to carry out operations in secret, some operations being kept secret from the Legislative branch as well.

In international law, of course, these operations have no standing at all. It was convenient enough for nations to operate secret intelligence operations when all that was to lose was being found out, but 'regime change' can affect the very autonomous existence of nations themselves.


According to a variety of sources,[2][3][4] the United States of America government has forcibly overthrown, and attempted to overthrow, foreign governments perceived as hostile, and replaced them with new ones, actions that has become known as regime change.[2][3][4] Almost all governments targeted by the U.S. have been democratically-elected governments replaced by authoritarian governments, regimes or juntas, with at least one case in Iran where the new Prime Minister installed by the CIA was pro-Nazi,[5] and the man who replaced him was the son of the Iranian leader that collaborated with the Nazis.

Regime change has been attempted through direct involvement of U.S. operatives, the funding and training of insurgency groups within these countries, anti-regime propaganda campaigns, coup d'états, and other, often illegal, activities usually conducted as operations by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The U.S. has also accomplished regime change by direct U.S. military action, see List of United States military history events, instead of by covert means.

It has been argued that non-transparent United States government agencies who work in secret and sometimes mislead or do not fully implement the decisions of elected civilian leaders has been an important component of many such operations.[1]

For example the historian Spencer R. Weart has argued that the US has more supported coups against democracies that it perceived as nondemocracies, such as Communist states, or turning into such.[1]

Notwithstanding a history of U.S. covert actions to topple democratic governments and installing authoritarian regimes in their places (see, e.g. Iran 1953, below), some U.S. officials have publicly expressed support for democracy as best supporting US national interests: "democracy is the one national interest that helps to secure all the others. Democratically governed nations are more likely to secure the peace, deter aggression, expand open markets, promote economic development, protect American citizens, combat international terrorism and crime, uphold human and worker rights, avoid humanitarian crises and refugee flows, improve the global environment, and protect human health."[6] Former President Bill Clinton of the Democratic Party: "Ultimately, the best strategy to ensure our security and to build a durable peace is to support the advance of democracy elsewhere. Democracies don't attack each other."[7] In one view mentioned by the US State Department, democracy is also good for business. In this view, countries that embrace political reforms are more likely to pursue economic reforms that improve the productivity of businesses. Accordingly, since the mid-1980s, there has been an increase in levels of foreign direct investment going to emerging market democracies relative to countries that have not undertaken political reforms.[8]

The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, launched by China and Russia and later joined by other Asian governments, has been seen as an attempt to stop regime changes that would establish a world of market democracies arbitrated by U.S. power.[9]

Prior to World War II[edit]


The Bolshevik revolution of 1917 was met with overt hostility from President Woodrow Wilson's administration. After withdrawing funding for Russia and opposing a British and French plan to include the Bolsheviks as allies against Germany in 1918, the United States extended its maritime blockade of Germany to include Soviet Russia and began covertly supporting Russian opposition factions.[10][11]

In 1918, the Allied powers including the United States began a military intervention in the Russian Civil War. The US sent troops to the Russian port cities of Vladivostok and Archangel. President Wilson appointed General William S. Graves to lead the thousands of American troops at Vladivostok.[12][13]

During the Cold War[edit]

Communist states 1945-1989[edit]

The United States supported the overthrow of the Communist regimes in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union during the Cold War. One example is the counter-espionage operations following the discovery of the Farewell dossier which some argue contributed to fall of Communism.[14][15] The National Endowment for Democracy supported pro-capitalist movements in the Communist states and has been accused of secretly supporting regime change, which it itself denies.[16][17][18] Many of the Eastern European states later turned to capitalism and joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). In addition to this the perceived threat of worldwide Soviet sponsored revolutionary guerrilla movements - dubbed by Premiere Nikita Khrushchev as "wars of national liberation" defined much of US policy in the third world with regard to covert action and led to what could be considered as proxy wars between the United States and Soviet Union.

Iran 1953[edit]

See also: CIA Activities by Region: Near East, North Africa, South and Southwest Asia#Iran

In 1953, the CIA worked with the United Kingdom to overthrow the democratically-elected government of Iran led by Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh who had attempted to nationalize Iran's oil, threatening the interests of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company. Declassified CIA documents show that Britain was fearful of Iran's plans to nationalize its oil industry and pressed the U.S. to mount a joint operation to remove the prime minister.[19] In 1951 the Iranian parliament voted to nationalize the oil fields of the country. Anti-Communism had also risen to a fever pitch in Washington, and officials were worried that Iran might fall under the sway of the Soviet Union, a historical presence there. "The aim was to bring to power a government which would reach an equitable oil settlement, enabling Iran to become economically sound and financially solvent, and which would vigorously prosecute the dangerously strong Communist Party."[19] Prime minister Mossadegh had dissolved the parliament, claiming massive support for the measure in a plebiscite and accepted the support of the Communist Tudeh party for his government, leading to U.S. fears of a Communist overthrow.[20]

The coup was led by CIA operative Kermit Roosevelt, Jr. (grandson of President Theodore Roosevelt). With help from British intelligence, the CIA planned, funded and implemented Operation Ajax.[21] The U.K. and U.S. boycott and other political pressures by both governments, together with a massive covert propaganda campaign in the months leading up to the coup created the environment necessary for success. The CIA hoped to plant articles in American newspapers saying that Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlevi's return to govern Iran resulted from a homegrown revolt against a Communist-leaning government. This attempt to manipulate the U.S. media largely failed, although the CIA successfully used its contacts at the Associated Press to put on the news wire a statement from Tehran about royal decrees that the C.I.A. itself had written. The CIA hired Iranian assets who posed as Communists, harassed religious leaders and staged the bombing of one cleric's home to turn the Islamic religious community against the government.[19]

The coup initially seemed to fail and the Shah (monarch) Mohammad Reza Pahlavi fled the country. After four days of rioting pro-shah army units and street crowds defeated Mossadeq's forces and the Shah returned. According to the 1906 constitution he was a constitutional monarch who should rule together with the democratically-elected parliament, but after the coup he ruled autocratically, with little concern for democracy.[22][23]

The Shah has been condemned for human rights violations and political repression [24] which arguably increased support for the radical movements which culminated in the 1979 Iranian Revolution.[25] However, partially due to US pressure, he also attempted to modernize Iran and introduced many social reforms (See the White Revolution).

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, in a speech on March 17, 2000 before the American-Iranian Council on the relaxation of U.S. sanctions against Iran, finally acknowledged:[26]

In 1953, the United States played a significant role in orchestrating the overthrow of Iran's popular prime minister, Mohammed Mossadegh. The Dwight D. Eisenhower administration believed its actions were justified for strategic reasons, but the coup was clearly a setback for Iran's political development and it is easy to see now why many Iranians continue to resent this intervention by America in their internal affairs.

Moreover, during the next quarter century, the United States and the West gave sustained backing to the Shah's regime. Although it did much to develop the country economically, the Shah's government also brutally repressed political dissent.

As President Bill Clinton has said, the United States must bear its fair share of responsibility for the problems that have arisen in U.S.-Iranian relations. Even in more recent years, aspects of U.S. policy toward Iraq during its conflict with Iran appear now to have been regrettably shortsighted, especially in light of our subsequent experiences with Saddam Hussein.

Guatemala 1954[edit]

See also: CIA activities in the Americas#Guatemala 1954

The CIA participated in the overthrow of the democratically-elected government of Guatemala.[27][28][29][30]

Cuba 1959-[edit]

Main article: Bay of Pigs Invasion

The largest and most complicated coup effort, approved at White House level, was the Bay of Pigs operation. Under initiatives by the Eisenhower and Kennedy Administrations, CIA trained Cuban anti-communist exiles and refugees to land in Cuba and attempt to overthrow the government of Fidel Castro. Plans originally formed under Eisenhower were scaled back under Kennedy.

The CIA made a number of attempts to assassinate Castro, often with White House approval, as in Operation Mongoose.

Democratic Republic of the Congo 1960[edit]

Patrice Émery Lumumba, an African anti-colonial leader and the first legally elected Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, after he helped to win its independence from Belgium in June 1960, was deposed in a US CIA-sponsored coup during the Congo Crisis.[31] He was subsequently imprisoned and assassinated under controversial circumstances.

Iraq 1963[edit]

See also: CIA activities in Iraq

In 1963, the United States is claimed to have backed a coup against the government of Iraq headed by General Abdel Karim Kassem, who five years earlier had deposed the Western-allied Iraqi monarchy. The CIA helped the new Baath Party government in ridding the country of suspected leftists and Communists.[32][33][34][35]

To pave the way for the new regime, the CIA is claimed to have provided to the Baathists lists of suspected Communists and other leftists. The new regime is claimed to have used these lists to orchestrate a bloodbath, systematically murdering untold numbers of Iraq's educated elite—killings in which Saddam Hussein himself is said to have participated. The victims included hundreds of doctors, teachers, technicians, lawyers and other professionals as well as military and political figures.[33][36][37] According to an article in the New York Times, the U.S. sent arms to the new regime, weapons later used against the same Kurdish insurgents the U.S. supported against Kassem and then abandoned. American and U.K. oil and other interests, including Mobil, British Petroleum and Bechtel, were once again conducting business in Iraq.[33]

Brazil 1964[edit]

See also: CIA activities in Brazil; Operation Brother Sam

A democratically-elected government headed by President João Goulart was successfully overthrown by a CIA-supported coup in March 1964. Declassified U.S. government documents show that members of the administration of President Lyndon B. Johnson engaged in active preparations to aid Brazil's military coup plotter, and the U.S. was preparing support for a bloody coup, however in the event no blood appeared to have been shed. A military dictatorship which lasted for 21 years was successfully installed.[38]

Republic of Ghana 1966[edit]

On February 24, 1966, Prime Minister Kwame Nkrumah of the Ghana was overthrown by a claimed CIA-backed coup.[39][40][41][42][43] [44]

Iraq 1968[edit]

The leader of the new Baathist government, Salam Arif, died in 1966 and his brother, Abdul Rahman Arif, not a Ba'athist, assumed the presidency.[25][33] Said K. Abuirsh alleges that in 1967, the government of Iraq was very close to giving concessions for the development of huge new oil fields in the country to France and the USSR. PBS reported that Robert Anderson, former secretary of the treasury under President Dwight D. Eisenhower, secretly met with the Ba'ath Party and came to a negotiated agreement according to which both the oil field concessions and sulphur mined in the northern part of the country would go to United States companies if the Ba'ath again took over power.[45] In 1968, with a claimed backing of the CIA, Rahman Arif was overthrown by Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr of the Baath Party, bringing Saddam Hussein to the threshold of power.[25][32][33][35]

Roger Morris in the Asia Times writes that the CIA deputy for the Middle East Archibald Roosevelt (grandson of President Theodore Roosevelt and cousin of Kermit Roosevelt, Jr.) stated, referring to Iraqi Ba'ath Party officers on his payroll in the 1963 and 1968 coups, "They're our boys, bought and paid for, but you always gotta remember that these people can't be trusted."[25] General Ahmed Bakr was installed as president. Saddam Hussein was appointed the number two man.[25][45]

Chile 1973[edit]

The CIA is alleged to have participated in the overthrow of the democratically-elected government of Chile.[46][47][48][49][50]

Afghanistan 1973-74[edit]

Roger Morris, writing in the Asia Times, argues that as early as 1973-74, the CIA began offering covert backing to Islamic radical rebels in Afghanistan premised on the claim that the right-wing, authoritarian government headed by Mohammed Daoud Khan, might prove a likely instrument of Soviet military aggression in South Asia. Morris argues that this premise was without basis in fact; Daoud had always held the Russians, his main patron when it came to aid, at arm's length, and had savagely purged local communists who supported him when he overthrew the Afghan monarchy in 1973. The Soviets had also shown no inclination to use the notoriously unruly Afghans and their army for any expansionist aim.[25] Morris claims that during this period U.S. foreign policy leaders saw the Soviets as always being "on the march." This apprehension resulted in a rash of U.S. secret wars, assassinations, terrorist acts and manifold corruptions. U.S. secret backing of radical Islamic rebels ceased following an abortive rebel uprising in 1975.[25]

Argentina 1976[edit]

See also: Dirty War#US involvement

The democratically-elected government of Argentina headed by Isabel Martínez de Perón was successfully overthrown by a military putsch in March 1976. Eight days before the coup, Admiral Emilio Eduardo Massera, Chief of the Argentine Navy and a major coup plotter, turned to Ambassador Robert Hill, U.S. ambassador to Argentina, for help in getting a recommendation for a U.S. public relations firm that would manage the Argentine coup leaders' propaganda operation for the coup and the crackdown against democracy and human rights activists that was to follow. Ambassador Hill stated that the United Stated government cannot interfere in such affairs and provided Admiral Massera with a list of reputable public relations firms maintained by the Embassy. More than two months before the coup, senior coup plotters consulted with American officials in Argentina about the coup, and Ambassador Hill reported to Washington that he was encouraged that the military coup plotters were "aware of the problem" that their killings might cause and "are already focusing on ways to avoid letting human rights issues become an irritant in US-Argentine relations" by being pro-active with the preparation of the public relations operation.[51]

U.S. planners were aware that the coup could not likely succeed without murderous repression. Two days after the coup, Assistant Secretary for Latin America, William Rogers advised Secretary of State Henry Kissinger that "we ought not at this moment rush out and embrace this new regime" because he expects significant repression to follow the coup.

"I think also we've got to expect a fair amount of repression, probably a good deal of blood, in Argentina before too long. I think they're going to have to come down very hard not only on the terrorists but on the dissidents of trade unions and their parties."

But Kissinger made his preferences clear: "Whatever chance they have, they will need a little encouragement… because I do want to encourage them. I don't want to give the sense that they're harassed by the United States." [52] For years the government-backed death squads supported by groups the such as the Argentine Anticommunist Alliance (AAA), and the Argentina intelligence unit Battalion 601 initiated a murderous campaign to oppress those who they perceived as hostile leftist "subversives" as part of Operation Condor.[53]

Afghanistan 1978-1980s[edit]

Main article: Operation Cyclone
See also: Charlie Wilson's War and Badaber Uprising

Roger Morris, writing in the Asia Times, states that in April 1978, the crackdown by Mohammed Daoud Khan's regime on Afghanistan's small Communist Party provoked a successful military coup d'état by Communist Party loyalists in the army. The coup occurred in defiance of a skittish Moscow, which had stopped earlier coup plans.Template:Citation needed

According to Morris, by autumn 1978, an Islamic insurgency, armed and planned by the U.S., Pakistan, Iran and China, and soon to be actively supported, at Washington's prodding, by the Saudis and Egyptians, was fighting in eastern Afghanistan. U.S. planners continued funding the radical Islamic insurgency to "suck" the Russians into Afghanistan.[25] According to the "Progressive South Asia Exchange Net", claiming to cite an article in Le Nouvel Observateur, U.S. policy, unbeknownst even to the Mujahideen, was part of a larger strategy "to induce a Soviet military intervention." National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski stated:

According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahadeen began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, 24 Dec 1979. But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely otherwise. That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Soviets into the Afghan trap.... The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter "We now have the opportunity of giving to the Soviet Union its Vietnam War."[54]

With instability and bloody civil strife raging in a country on their border, the Soviets invaded in December 1979, according to the Asia Times report, fulfilling the hopes of Washington as expressed by National Security Adviser Brzezinski.[25][55]

The CIA provided assistance to the fundamentalist insurgents through the Pakistani secret services, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), in a program called Operation Cyclone. Somewhere between $3–$20 billion in U.S. funds were funneled into the country to train and equip troops with weapons, including Stinger surface-to-air missiles.[56][57]. Together with similar programs by Saudi Arabia, Britain's MI6 and SAS, Egypt, Iran, and the People's Republic of China,[58] the ISI armed and trained over 100,000 insurgents. On July 20, 1987, the withdrawal of Soviet troops from the country was announced pursuant to the negotiations that led to the Geneva Accords of 1988,[59] with the last Soviets leaving on February 15, 1989. Following the Soviet withdraw the ongoing Civil war in Afghanistan continued with the Soviets continuing to provide thousands of ballistic missiles, other arms, and food to the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan with active US opposition until the collapse of the Soviet Union. Fighting in the country continues to this day.

One and a half million died during more than a quarter-century of war and unrest.[25][60] Five million Afghan people, one third of the prewar population of the country, were made refugees in Pakistan and Iran, and an additional two million Afghans were forced by the war to migrate within the country. In the 1980s, one out of two refugees in the world was an Afghan.[61][62]

The United States role in arming, training, and supporting the radical Islamic terrorist group, the Mujihadeen of Afghanistan in the 1980s, has been called the model for state-sponsored terrorism, and led to a new generation of regime change actions around the world by this group and its off-shoots. This guerrilla movement, initially intended to oust the Soviet Union from Afghanistan, gave rise to terrorist groups in nations such as Indonesia, the Philippines, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Chechnya, and the former Yugoslavia, with a view to bring about regime change along Islamic lines.[63] The early foundations of al-Qaida were built in part on relationships and weaponry that came from the billions of dollars in U.S. support for the Afghan mujahadin during the war to expel Soviet forces from that country.[64] Some of the Afghan-trained "freedom fighters" were later involved in terrorist acts against the U.S., the very government that had given them support in the early days of their organization, to change U.S. policy in the Middle East.Template:Citation needed The initial bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993, the attacks on the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, the attack on the USS Cole, and the attacks of September 11 all have been linked to individuals and groups that at one time were armed and trained by the United States and/or its allies.[63] The perpetrators of the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993 used a manual written by the CIA for the Mujihadeen fighters in Afghanistan on how to make explosives.Template:Citation needed Sheik Abul Rahman, one of the conspirators in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, was allowed to come to the U.S. to recruit Arab-Americans to fight in Afghanistan against the Soviets.[65]

The 2007 movie Charlie Wilson's War celebrated Representative Wilson (D-TX)'s and the CIA's involvement in the repulsion of the USSR troops from Afghanistan. Representative Wilson was awarded the Honored College Award by the CIA for his involvement.[66]

Iran 1980[edit]

Investigative journalist Robert Parry reports that in a secret 1981 memo summing up a trip to the Middle East, then-Secretary of State Alexander Haig wrote: "It was also interesting to confirm that President Carter gave the Iraqis a green light to launch the war against Iran through Prince Fahd" of Jordan." [67] Z Magazine reports that in June 1980, students in Iran revealed a 1980 memorandum from U.S. National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski to Secretary of State Cyrus Vance recommending the "destabilization" of the Iranian government by using Iran's neighbors. The U.S. has denied that it gave Iraq a "green light" for its September 22 1980 invasion of Iran. Five months before Iraq's invasion, on April 14 1980, Zbigniew Brzezinski, signaled the U.S.'s willingness to work with Iraq: "We see no fundamental incompatibility of interests between the United States and Iraq... we do not feel that American- Iraqi relations need to be frozen in antagonisms." According to Iran's president at the time, Abolhassan Banisadr, Brzezinski met directly with Saddam Hussein in Jordan two months before the Iraqi assault. Bani-Sadr wrote, "Brzezinski had assured Saddam Hussein that the United States would not oppose the separation of Khuzestan [in southwest Iran] from Iran." [68] The Financial Times reported that the U.S. passed satellite intelligence to the regime of Saddam Hussein via third countries, leading Iraq to believe Iranian forces would quickly collapse if attacked. Z magazine therefore argues that it is likely therefore that the U.S. helped push Saddam Hussein to attack Iran, causing a long and bloody war.[68]

The meeting between Brzezinski and Saddam Hussein is also supported by other independent sources. Author Kenneth R. Timmerman and former Iranian President Abol Hassan Bani-Sadr separately stated that Brzezinski met with Hussein in July 1980 in Amman, Jordan, to discuss joint efforts to oppose Iran. According to Hussein biographer Said Aburish however, at the Amman meeting Saddam Hussein met with three CIA agents, not Brzezinski personally. Former Carter official Gary Sick denies that Washington directly encouraged Iraq's attack, but instead let "Saddam assume there was a U.S. green light because there was no explicit red light."[69]

A review of thousands of declassified government documents and interviews with former U.S. policymakers shows that U.S. intelligence and logistical support played a crucial role in arming Iraq, although the total. The administrations of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush authorized the sale to Iraq of numerous dual use items that had both military and civilian applications, including poisonous chemicals and deadly biological viruses, such as anthrax and bubonic plague. Opinions differ among Middle East experts and former government officials about the pre-Iraqi tilt, and whether Washington could have done more to stop the flow to Baghdad of technology for building weapons of mass destruction. "Fundamentally, the policy was justified," argues David Newton, a former U.S. ambassador to Baghdad, who runs an anti-Hussein radio station in Prague. "We were concerned that Iraq should not lose the war with Iran, because that would have threatened Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf. Our long-term hope was that Hussein's government would become less repressive and more responsible." Although U.S. arms manufacturers were not as deeply involved as German or British companies in selling weaponry to Iraq, the Reagan administration effectively turned a blind eye to the export of "dual use" items such as chemical precursors and steel tubes that can have military and civilian applications. According to several former officials, the State and Commerce departments promoted trade in such items as a way to boost U.S. exports and acquire political leverage over Hussein. "Everybody was wrong in their assessment of Saddam," said Joe Wilson, Glaspie's former deputy at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, and the last U.S. official to meet with Hussein. "Everybody in the Arab world told us that the best way to deal with Saddam was to develop a set of economic and commercial relationships that would have the effect of moderating his behavior. History will demonstrate that this was a miscalculation."[70]

According to reports of the U.S. Senate's Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, the U.S., under the successive presidential administrations sold materials including anthrax, VX nerve gas, West Nile fever and botulism to Iraq right up until March 1992. The chairman of the Senate committee, Don Riegle, said: "The executive branch of our government approved 771 different export licences for sale of dual-use technology to Iraq. I think its a devastating record."[71]

The U.S. also claimed to have provided critical battle planning assistance at a time when U.S. intelligence agencies knew that Iraqi commanders would employ chemical weapons in waging the war, according to senior military officers with direct knowledge of the program. The U.S. claimed to have carried out the covert program at a time when Secretary of State George P. Shultz, Secretary of Defense Frank C. Carlucci and National Security Adviser General Colin L. Powell were publicly condemning Iraq for its use of poison gas, especially after Iraq attacked Kurdish villagers in Halabja in March 1988. U.S. officials publicly condemned Iraq's employment of mustard gas, sarin, VX and other poisonous agents, but sixty Defense Intelligence Agency officers were secretly providing detailed information on Iranian deployments, tactical planning for battles, plans for airstrikes and bomb-damage assessments for Iraq. It has long been known that the U.S. provided intelligence assistance, such as satellite photography, to Saddam's regime. Carlucci said: "My understanding is that what was provided" to Iraq "was general order of battle information, not operational intelligence." "I certainly have no knowledge of U.S. participation in preparing battle and strike packages," he said, "and doubt strongly that that occurred." "I did agree that Iraq should not lose the war, but I certainly had no foreknowledge of their use of chemical weapons." Secretary of State Powell, through a spokesman, said the officers' description of the program was "dead wrong," but declined to discuss it. His deputy, Richard L. Armitage, a senior defense official at the time, used an expletive relayed through a spokesman to indicate his denial that the United States acquiesced in the use of chemical weapons.[72]

Others have instead claimed U.S. intelligence agencies manipulated both sides in the Iran-Iraq war, providing each country with "deliberately distorted or inaccurate intelligence data". One method mentioned was altering satellite photos. In "Veil," his study of CIA covert operations in the 1980s, Bob Woodward found that some CIA officials were "doling out tactical data to both sides" to engineer a stalemate.[69]

Turkey 1980[edit]

The right-wing coup of 1980 was supported by the United States.[73]

Nicaragua 1981-1990[edit]

1981-90: CIA directs Contra revolution, plants harbor mines and sinks civilian ships to overthrow the revolutionary Sandinista government of Nicaragua. After the Boland Amendment was enacted, it became illegal under U.S. law to fund the Contras; National Security Adviser Robert McFarlane, Deputy National Security Adviser Admiral John Poindexter, National Security Council staffer Col. Oliver North and others continued an illegal operation to fund the Contras, leading to the Iran-Contra scandal. The U.S argued that:[74]

The United States initially provided substantial economic assistance to the Sandinista-dominated regime. We were largely instrumental in the OAS action delegitimizing the Somoza regime and laying the groundwork for installation for the new junta. Later, when the Sandinista role in the Salvadoran conflict became clear, we sought through a combination of private diplomatic contacts and suspension of assistance to convince Nicaragua to halt its subversion. Later still, economic measures and further diplomatic efforts were employed to try to effect changes in Sandinista behavior.

Nicaragua's neighbors have asked for assistance against Nicaraguan aggression, and the United States has responded. Those countries have repeatedly and publicly made clear that they consider themselves to be the victims of aggression from Nicaragua, and that they desire United States assistance in meeting both subversive attacks and the conventional threat posed by the relatively immense Nicaraguan Armed Forces.

Overt: Grenada, 1983[edit]

Main article: Invasion of Grenada

Overt: Panama 1989[edit]

Main article: Invasion of Panama

Overt: Others[edit]

Needs expanding

Covert: Others[edit]

Needs expanding

Aftermath: the most recent covert action: Iran 2010[edit]

The CIA, from possibly before the first invasion of Iraq, but most definitely during the second Iraq invasion, has switched to be more integrated with regular forces, and operate as a harassing unit to deal attritive damage and thereby destabilize the Iranian regime, in line with its activity in Central America, but with fewer forces and, so far, less visibility.[75]

See also[edit]

Wikipedia articles:


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  29. Stephen M. Streeter. “Managing the Counterrevolution: The United States and Guatemala, 1954-1961”. Ohio University Press, 2000.
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  47. Edited by Silvia Nagy-Zekmi and Fernando Leiva “Democracy in Chile: The Legacy of September 11, 1973”. Sussex Academic Press, 2003.
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  50. Henry Kissinger. “National Security Decision Memorandum 93: Policy Towards Chile”. Washington: National Security Council, 1970.
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  75. Who Hates Whom: Well-Armed Fanatics, Intractable Conflicts, and Various Things Blowing Up. A woefully incomplete guide by Bob Harris
  76. </ol>

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

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