Declassified CIA documents on South Korea show that the spy agency was surprised by the 1979 assassination of its dictatorial president by his intelligence chief, did not anticipate the military coup d'etat that ensued, and dismissed the strength of growing unrest that eventually erupted in near-civil war.
Following the coup, in May 1980, protest and civil unrest in the southern city of Kwangju plunged the country into near anarchy. President Jimmy Carter, upon the advice of the U.S. State Department and the CIA, and fearing North Korea might take advantage of the instability, authorized U.S.-led South Korean troops to put down the Kwangju “uprising,” resulting in the deaths of hundreds of protesters.
The documents were obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by Tim Shorrock, a Washington-based journalist and longtime human rights activist, who published them Tuesday on the Web site of Foreign Policy in Focus, a project of the left-leaning Institute for Policy Studies.
Shorrock reports that “months before” the uprising, “in an analysis entitled ‘The Outlook for President Pak [Chung Hee] and South Korea's Dissidents,’ the CIA dismissed the worker and student resistance, as well as the political opposition, as unorganized and ineffectual and unable to muster public sympathy for its demands for greater democracy and worker rights.”
Thursday, June 3, 2010
CIA calls it way back
More missing the boat, smelling the coffee, hammering own thumb.