Monday, August 19, 2013

CIA Giving up the Mosaddeq Ghost

Long gone, it seems, are those heady days of yore when CIA would never admit anything about anyone, anywhere. Forever. Iran? Where? Mosaddeq? What's a Mosaddeq? Kermit Roosevelt? Kermit? That's a person? But forever turns out to have a shelf life. Sixty years. Now, CIA is coughing up the goods on the 1953 coup in Iran, much to the chagrin of the stiff upper lips at MI6. Blabbering about widely known yet "secret" daring-do. Is nothing sacred? Despite the publication of CIA documents at the US national security archive, the Brits are maintaining the proud tradition of neither confirming nor denying "Britain's involvement in the coup."

As can usually be found is such contemporaneous documents, hilarity lurks with the written observations of the spy masters wherein we learn that Mossadeq "and millions of Iranians believed that for centuries Britain had manipulated their country for British ends." Certainly, there can be no better way to dispel this misbegotten belief than to stage an overthrow of the Iranian government to restore an "equitable oil settlement," and naturally for the time, "vigorously prosecute the dangerously strong Communist party." That's what's known as a two-fer in the realm of right-wing military dictatorships.

Read on for the nutritious and delicious treats. Be careful not to consume too much at once, as it may induce in the reader a tightness in the throat, and or a unpleasant chalky taste in the mouth.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Protocols of the Files of Chomsky

If you were an agitator, CIA had a file on you. And FBI. A few others, too. This was nominal back in the day, when protest was rife, and anti-war demonstrations were all the rage, and civil rights demanding crowds defied the status quo. This is still true. Defying status quo is a definite no-no, a "red flag" for status quo guardians.

Noam Chomsky was certainly one such "agitator," despite never looking terribly agitated about anything. So, no surprise that there was a Chomsky file. The surprise was just how adamant CIA was about not having a file on a chap who so clearly deserved one. Well, now they say, yeah, we had a file. But it's gone. Don't know what happened. Because we never seem know what happens to these things. Sure we may be an "intelligence" agency, but we loose things.  All the time.
For years, the Central Intelligence Agency denied it had a secret file on MIT professor and famed dissident Noam Chomsky. But a new government disclosure obtained by The Cable reveals for the first time that the agency did in fact gather records on the anti-war iconoclast during his heyday in the 1970s. 
The disclosure also reveals that Chomsky's entire CIA file was scrubbed from Langley's archives, raising questions as to when the file was destroyed and under what authority. 
The breakthrough in the search for Chomsky's CIA file comes in the form of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. For years, FOIA requests to the CIA garnered the same denial: "We did not locate any records responsive to your request." The denials were never entirely credible, given Chomsky's brazen anti-war activism in the 60s and 70s -- and the CIA's well-documented track record of domestic espionage in the Vietnam era. But the CIA kept denying, and many took the agency at its word. 
Now, a public records request by Chomsky biographer Fredric Maxwell reveals a memo between the CIA and the FBI that confirms the existence of a CIA file on Chomsky. 
Dated June 8, 1970, the memo discusses Chomsky's anti-war activities and asks the FBI for more information about an upcoming trip by anti-war activists to North Vietnam. The memo's author, a CIA official, says the trip has the "ENDORSEMENT OF NOAM CHOMSKY" and requests "ANY INFORMATION" about the people associated with the trip. 
After receiving the document, The Cable sent it to Athan Theoharis, a professor emeritus at Marquette University and an expert on FBI-CIA cooperation and information-gathering. 
"The June 1970 CIA communication confirms that the CIA created a file on Chomsky," said Theoharis. "That file, at a minimum, contained a copy of their communication to the FBI and the report on Chomsky that the FBI prepared in response to this request." 
The evidence also substantiates the fact that Chomsky's file was tampered with, says Theoharis. "The CIA's response to the FOIA requests that it has no file on Chomsky confirms that its Chomsky file was destroyed at an unknown time," he said. 
It's worth noting that the destruction of records is a legally treacherous activity. Under the Federal Records Act of 1950, all federal agencies are required to obtain advance approval from the national Archives for any proposed record disposition plans. The Archives is tasked with preserving records with "historical value." 
"Clearly, the CIA's file, or files, on Chomsky fall within these provisions," said Theoharis.
It's unclear if the agency complied with protocols in the deletion of Chomsky's file. The CIA declined to comment for this story. 
What does Chomsky think? When The Cable presented him with evidence of his CIA file, the famous linguist responded with his trademark cynicism. 
"Some day it will be realized that systems of power typically try to extend their power in any way they can think of," he said. When asked if he was more disturbed by intelligence overreach today (given the latest NSA leaks) or intelligence overreach in the 70s, he dismissed the question as an apples-to-oranges comparison. 
"What was frightening in the ‘60s into early ‘70s was not so much spying as the domestic terror operations, COINTELPRO," he said, referring to the FBI's program to discredit and infiltrate domestic political organizations. "And also the lack of interest when they were exposed." 
Regardless,, the destruction of Chomsky's CIA file raises an even more disturbing question: Who else's file has evaporated from Langley's archives? What other chapters of CIA history will go untold? 
"It is important to learn when the CIA decided to destroy the Chomsky file and why they decided that it should be destroyed,'" said Theoharis. "Undeniably, Chomsky's was not the sole CIA file destroyed. How many other files were destroyed?"