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American ambassador, had more money at his disposal, and exerted more influence.
When it suited their purposes, Agency officers would completely bypass the
ambassador and normal protocol to deal directly with the country's head of state and
other high officials.
The CIA had its own military capabilities, including its own air force; for all
intents and purposes, its own foreign service with, indeed, its own foreign policy,
though never at cross-purposes with fundamental US cold-war, anti-communist
ideology and goals.


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Seemingly without fear of exposure or condemnation, the Agency felt free to
carry out sundry Dr. Strangelove experiments involving control of the human mind and
all manner of biochemical weapons, including the release of huge amounts of bacteria
into the air in the United States which resulted in much illness and a number of deaths.
It was all very heady stuff for the officers of the CIA, playing their men's games
with their boys' toys. They recognized scarcely any limitation upon their freedom of
action. British colonial governors they were, and all the world was India.
Then, in mid-April, came the disaster at the Bay of Pigs in Cuba. The
international repercussions had barely begun to subside when the Agency was again
catapulted into world headlines. On 22 April four French generals in Algeria seized
power in an attempt to maintain the country's union with France. The putsch, which
held out but four days, was a direct confrontation with French President Charles de
Gaulle, who had dramatically proclaimed a policy leading "not to an Algeria governed
from France, but to an Algerian Algeria".
The next day, the leftist Italian newspaper, II Paese, stated that "It is not by
chance that some people in Paris are accusing the American secret service headed by
Allen Dulles of having participated in the plot of the four 'ultra' generals."1
Whether Il Paese was the original source of this charge remains a mystery. Dulles
himself later wrote that the Italian daily was "one of the first to launch it" (emphasis
added). He expressed the opinion that "This particular myth was a Communist plant,
pure and simple."2
The New York Times reported that the tumors apparently began circulating by
word of mouth on the day of the putsch,3 a report echoed by the Washington Star which
added that some of the rumors were launched "by minor officials at the Elys©e Palace
itself" who gave reporters "to understand that the generals' plot was backed by strongly
anti-communist elements in the United States Government and military services."4
Whatever its origins, the story spread rapidly around the world, and the French
Foreign Office refused to refute the allegation, Le Monde asserted in a front-page
editorial on 28 April that "the behavior of the United States during the recent crisis was
not particularly skillful. It seems established that American agents more or less
encouraged Challe [the leader of the putsch] ... President Kennedy, of course, knew
nothing of all this."5
Reports from all sources were in agreement that if the CIA had indeed been
involved in the putsch, it had been so for two reasons: (11 the concern that if Algeria
were granted its independence, "communists" would soon come to power, being those
in the ranks of the National Liberation Front (NLF) which had been fighting the French
Army in Algeria for several years”the legendary Battle of Algiers. It was with the NLF
that de Gaulle was expected to negotiate a settlement; (2) the hope that it would
precipitate the downfall of de Gaulle, an end desired because the French President was a
major stumbling block to US aspirations concerning NATO: among other things, he
refused to incorporate French troops into an integrated military command, and he
opposed exclusive American control over the alliance's nuclear weapons.
By all accounts, it appears that the rebel officers had counted on support from
important military and civilian quarters in France to extend the rebellion to the home
country and overthrow de Gaulle. Fanciful as this may sound, the fact remains that the
French government took the possibility seriously”French Premier Michel Debr© went
on television to warn the nation of an imminent paratroop invasion of the Paris area and
to urge mass opposition.6
Reaction in the American press to the allegations had an unmistakably motley
quality. Washington Post columnist Marquis Childs said that the French were so


149
shocked by the generals' coup that they had to find a scapegoat. At the same time he
quoted "one of the highest officials of the French government" as saying:

Of course, your government, neither your State Department nor your President, had
anything to do with this. But when you have so many hundreds of agents in every
part of the world, it is not to be wondered at that some of them should have got in
touch with the generals in Algiers.7

Time magazine discounted the story, saying too that the United States was being
made a scapegoat and that the CIA had become a "favorite target in recent weeks".8
James Reston wrote in the New York Times that the CIA:

was involved in an embarrassing liaison with the anti-Gaullist officers who staged
last week's insurrection in Algiers ... [the Bay of Pigs and Algerian events have]
increased the feeling in the White House that the CIA has gone beyond the bounds
of an objective intelligence-gathering agency and has become the advocate of men
and policies that have embarrassed the Administration.9

However, C.L. Sulzberger, who had been the man at the New York Times closest
to the CIA since its founding, stated flatly that "No American in Algeria had to do with
any insurrectional leader ... No consular employee saw any rebel." (A few days later,
though, Secretary of State Dean Rusk disclosed that an emissary of the rebellious
French generals had visited the US Consulate in Algiers to request aid but had been
summarily rebuffed.)
The affair, wrote Sulzberger, was "a deliberate effort to poison Franco-American
relationships" begun in Moscow but abetted by "anti-American French officials" and
"naive persons in Washington ... When one checks, one finds all this began in a
Moscow lzvestia article April 25."10 This last, as we have seen, was incorrect.
Dean of American columnists, Walter Lippmann, who had seen de Gaulle in Paris
shortly before the putsch, wrote:

the reason why the French Government has not really exculpated the CIA of
encouraging the Algerian rebel generals is that it was already so angry with the
CIA for meddling in French internal politics. The French grievance, justified or not,
has to do with recent French legislation for the French nuclear weapon, and the
alleged effort of CIA agents to interfere with that legislation.11

Newsweek repeated the claim that it was "French officials" who had been "the
main sources" of the rumors in the first place. When challenged by the American
administration the French denied their authorship and tended to soften the charges.
Some French officials eventually declared the matter to be closed, though they still
failed to explicitly rule out the allegations about American involvement.12
In early May 1961, L'Express, the widely-read French liberal weekly, published
what was perhaps the first detailed account of the mysterious affair. Their Algerian
correspondent, Claude Krief, reported:13

Both in Paris and Washington the facts are now known, though they will never be
publicly admitted. In private, the highest French personalities make no secret of it.
What they say is this; "The CIA played a direct part in the Algiers coup, and
certainly weighed heavily on the decision taken by ex-general Challe to start his
putsch."

Not long before, Challe had held the position of NATO Commander-in-Chief,
Allied Forces, Central Europe, as a result of which he had been in daily contact with US


150
military officers.14 Krief wrote that certain American officials in NATO and the
Pentagon had encouraged Challe, and that the general had several meetings with CIA
officers who told him that "to get rid of de Gaulle would render the Free World a great
service". Krief noted that Challe, despite an overweening ambition, was very cautious
and serious-minded: "All the people who know him well, are deeply convinced that he
had been encouraged by the CIA to go ahead."
At a luncheon in Washington the previous year, Jacques Soustelle, the former
Governor-General of Algeria who had made public his disagreement with de Gaulle's
Algeria policy, had met with CIA officials, including Richard Bissell, head of covert
operations. Soustelle convinced the Agency officials, according to Krief, that Algeria
would become, through de Gaulle's blundering, "a Soviet base". This luncheon became
something of a cause c©lebre in the speculation concerning the CIA's possible role. The
New York Times and others reported that it had been given by the Agency for
Soustelle.15 US officials, however, insisted that the luncheon had been arranged by
someone at the French Embassy at Soustelle's request. This French official, they said,
had been present throughout the meeting and thus there could have been no dark
conspiracy.16 Why the French Embassy would host a luncheon for a prominent and
bitter foe of de Gaulle, a man who only two months earlier had been kicked out of de
Gaulle's cabinet for his "ultra" sympathies, was not explained. Nor, for that matter, why
in protocol-minded Washington of all places, the CIA would attend. In any event, it
seems somewhat fatuous to imply that this was the only chance Soustelle and the CIA
had to talk during his stay in the United States, which lasted more than a week.
A clandestine meeting in Madrid also received wide currency within the
controversy. Krief dates it 12 April 1961, and describes it as a meeting of "various
foreign agents, including members of the CIA and the Algiers conspirators, who
disclosed their plans to the CIA men". The Americans were reported to have angrily
complained that de Gaulle's policy was "paralyzing NATO and rendering the defense of
Europe impossible", and assured the generals that if they and their followers succeeded,
Washington would recognize the new Algerian Government within 48 hours.

It may well be that the French Government did have evidence of the CIA's
complicity. But in the unnatural world of international diplomacy, this would not
necessarily lead to an unambiguous public announcement. Such a move could result in
an open confrontation between France and the United States, a predicament both sides
could be expected to take pains to avoid. Moreover, it might put the French in the
position of having to do something about it. And what could they do? Breaking relations
with the United States was not a realistic option; neither were the French in any position
to retaliate economically or militarily. But French leaders were too angry to simply let
the matter pass into obscurity. Thus, to complete the hypothetical scenario, they took the
backdoor approach with all its shortcomings.
In a similar vein, the United States knew that the Russians, for at least one year,
were intercepting telephone calls in the US of government and congressional officials,
but said nothing publicly because it was unable to end the practice for technical
reasons.17 And this concerned an "enemy", not an ally.

Between 1958 and the middle of the 1960s, there occurred some 30 serious
assassination attempts upon the life of Charles de Gaulle, in addition to any number of
planned attempts which didn't advance much beyond the planning stage.18 A world
record for a head of state, it is said. In at least one of the attempts, the CIA may have
been a co-conspirator against the French president. By the mid-1960s, differences


151
between de Gaulle and Washington concerning NATO had almost reached the breaking
point; in February 1966, he gave NATO and the United States a deadline to either place
their military bases in France under French control or dismantle them.
In 1975, the Chicago Tribune featured a front-page story which read in part:

Congressional leaders have been told of Central Intelligence Agency involvement
in a plot by French dissidents to assassinate the late French President Charles De
Gaulle. Within the last two weeks, a CIA representative disclosed sketchy details
of the scheme ... Sometime in the mid-1960s”probably in 1965 or 1966”
dissidents in the De Gaulle government are said to have -made contact with the
CIA to seek help in a plot to murder the French leader. Which party instigated the
contact was not clear... According to the CIA briefing officer, discussions were
held on how best to eliminate De Gaulle, who by then had become a thorn in the
side of the Johnson administration because of his ouster of American military
bases from French soil and his demands that United States forces be withdrawn
from the Indochina War. Thus the following plan is said to have evolved after
discussions between CIA personnel and the dissident French. There is, however,
no evidence the plot got beyond the talking stage.
A hired assassin, armed with a poison ring, was to be slipped into a crowd of old
soldiers of France when General De Gaulle was to be the host at a reception for
them. The killer would make his appearance late in the day when it could be
presumed De Gaulle's hand would be weary and perhaps even numb from shaking
hundreds of hands. The assassin would clasp the general's hand in lethal
friendship and De Gaulle would fail to detect the tiny pin prick of poison as it
penetrated his flesh. The executioner would stroll off to become lost in the crowd
as the poison began coursing through De Gaulle's veins either to his heart or
brain, depending on the deadly poison used. How quickly death would come was
not divulged, if that was even discussed at the time ...
In the outline presented to the congressional leaders, there is no hint of what the
CIA's actual role might have been had the plot reached fruition.19

The dissidents involved in the alleged plot were embittered French army officers
and former Algerian settlers who still bore deep resentment toward de Gaulle for having
"sold out French honor" by his retreat from the North African colony.
There was no mention in the reported CIA testimony about any involvement of
Lyndon Johnson, although it was well known that there was no love lost between
Johnson and de Gaulle. The French leader was firmly convinced that the United States
was behind the failure of his trip to South America in 1964. He believed that the CIA
had used its network of agents in South America to prevent a big turnout of crowds.20
There is some evidence to indicate that the General was not just paranoid. In 1970, Dr
Alfred Stepan, a professor of political science at Yale, testified before Congress about
his experience in South America in 1964 when be was a journalist for The Economist.

When De Gaulle was going to make his trip through Latin America, many of the
Latin Americans interviewed [officers of various embassies] said that they were
under very real pressure by various American groups not to be very warm
towards De Gaulle, because we considered Latin America within the United
States area of influence.21

After the appearance of the Chicago Tribune story, CIA Director William Colby
confirmed that ''foreigners" had approached the Agency with a plot to kill de Gaulle.
The Agency rejected the idea, Colby said, but he did not know' if the French
government had been advised of the plot.22 It is not clear whether the incident referred
to by Colby was related to the one discussed in the Tribune.



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In the early evening of Monday, 9 November 1970, Charles de Gaulle died
peacefully at the age of 80, sitting in his armchair watching a sentimental television
serial called "Nanou".



25. Ecuador 1960-1963
A textbook of dirty tricks
If the Guinness Book of World Records included a category for "cynicism", one
could suggest the CIA's creation of "leftist" organizations which condemned poverty,
disease, illiteracy, capitalism, and the United States in order to attract committed
militants and their money away from legitimate leftist organizations.
The tiny nation of Ecuador in the early 1960s was, as it remains today, a classic of
banana-republic underdevelopment; virtually at the bottom of the economic heap in
South America; a society in which one percent of the population received an income
comparable to United States upper-class standards, while two-thirds of the people had
an average family income of about ten dollars per month”people simply outside the
money economy, with little social integration or participation in the national life; a tale
told many times in Latin America.
In September 1960, a new government headed by Jose Maria Velasco Ibarra came
to power. Velasco had won a decisive electoral victory, running on a vaguely liberal,
populist, something-for-everyone platform. He was no Fidel Castro, he was not even a
socialist, but he earned the wrath of the US State Department and the CIA by his
unyielding opposition to the two stated priorities of American policy in Ecuador:
breaking relations with Cuba, and clamping down hard on activists of the Communist
Party and those to their left.
Over the next three years, in pursuit of those goals, the CIA left as little as
possible to chance. A veritable textbook on covert subversion techniques unfolded. In
its pages could be found the following, based upon the experiences of Philip Agee, a
CIA officer who spent this period in Ecuador.1
Almost all political organizations of significance, from the far left to the far right,
were infiltrated, often at the highest levels. Amongst other reasons, the left was
infiltrated to channel young radicals away from support to Cuba and from anti-
Americanism; the right, to instigate and co-ordinate activities along the lines of CIA
priorities. If, at a point in time, there was no organization that appeared well-suited to
serve a particular need, then one would be created.
Or a new group of "concerned citizens" would appear, fronted with noted
personalities, which might place a series of notices in leading newspapers denouncing

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