Counter-Intelligence: Shining a Light on Black Operations (2013)
It is no secret that CIA is engaged in criminal activities around the world, some of which are quite deadly, some of which are quite provocative in the sense of laying the groundwork for large scale military conflict, and it’s happening in a lot of countries. This is not unique to the United States. The United States learned some of this from the British who learned it in turn during the 19th century when they were a dominant imperial power around the world. They cut their teeth on this stuff.
The other major powers are definitely engaged and capable of these same types of operations, and small powers as well. Israel is an example. The CIA grew out of the OSS, which had been established during World War II. Its earliest years are interesting because the new president, Harry Truman, did not trust the OSS because he felt it was too dominated by parts of the Democratic Party that he didn’t align himself with, so he abolished the OSS. Then they first created a smaller intelligence agency from the remains of the old OSS called the Central Intelligence Group. And that was focused on analyzing intelligence. It wasn’t a covert operations agency.
In one inbox would come all information whether it was from intercepted communications, or satellite photography, or defector reports, or clandestine reports, embassy… it would all come to that one person, and that person would be “accountable.” One person would be accountable for looking at that stuff, pouring through it, and if it were important, assuming it was a good analysis, that could end up on the president’s desk the next morning, unadulterated synthesis of information.
About two years after that, many of the agents who had worked on the covert operation side, the paramilitary warfare operations, black operations, that sort of thing, were reestablished in an outfit called the Office of Policy Coordination. This “office” eventually grew to have about 5,000 agents in the early Cold War years, and the existence of this office was itself entirely top secret. It had no open existence at all, and it wasn’t until some years later that the Office of Policy Coordination was folded into the CIA, and the CIA became an agency. CIA had both a clandestine black operations arm and an intelligence analysis arm.
The OPC was set up to organize propaganda, economic warfare, preventive direct action, sabotage, demolition, subversion against hostile states, including assistance to underground resistance groups and support of indigenous anti-communist elements in threatened countries of the free world.
What happened at the end of World War II when Truman disbanded the OSS? The covert operators were in the wilderness for a little while, and some of them had been leading Wall Street bankers and lawyers, and there’s a certain logic there because prior to the war, the people engaged in international trade and international law were a relatively small number of people, and they were the specialists in international affairs for the United States; so for example, the man who was later to become chief of covert operations, black operations, for the CIA was a man named Frank Wisner, quite a prominent Wall Street lawyer.
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