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Lumumba before the potency of the biological material was no longer reliable.'7
The Church committee observed, however, that the CIA station in Leopoldville

continued to maintain close contact with Congolese who expressed a desire to
assassinate Lumumba. CIA officers encouraged and offered to aid these Congolese

in their efforts against Lumumba, although there is no evidence that aid was ever
provided for the specific purpose of assassination.18

Fearing for his life, Lumumba was on the run. For a while he was protected from
Mobutu by the United Nations, which, under considerable international pressure, had
been forced to put some distance between itself and Washington.19 But on 1 December,
Lumumba was taken into custody by Mobutu's troops. A 28 November CIA cable
indicates that the Agency was involved in tracking down the charismatic Congo leader.
The cable spoke of the CIA station working with the Congolese government to get the
roads blocked and troops alerted to close a possible escape route of Lumumba's.20
The United States had also been involved in the takeover of government by
Mobutu”whom author and CIA-confidant Andrew Tully described as having been
"discovered" by the CIA.21 Mobutu detained Lumumba until 17 January 1961 when he
transferred his prisoner into the hands of Moise Tshombe of Katanga province,
Lumumba's bitter enemy. Lumumba was assassinated the same day.
In 1978, former CIA Africa specialist John Stockwell related in his book how a
ranking Agency officer had told him of driving around with Lumumba's body in the
trunk of his car, "trying to decide what to do with it".22 What he did do with it has not
yet been made public.
During the period of Lumumba's imprisonment, US diplomats in the Congo were
pursuing a policy of "deploring" his beatings and trying to secure "humane treatment"
for him, albeit due to "considerations of international opinion and not from tender
feelings toward him".23 The immediate and the long-term effect of Lumumba's murder
was to make him the martyr and symbol of anti-imperial ism all over Africa and
elsewhere in the Third World which such American officials had feared. Even Mobutu
later felt compelled to build a memorial to his victim.

Without a clearcut "communist" enemy like Lumumba, the Kennedy
administration, which came to power on 20 January 1961, was very divided on the
Katanga question. Although the United States wound up supporting”in the name of
Congolese stability”the UN military operation in the summer to suppress the
secession, Tshombe had outspoken support in the US Congress, and sentiment amongst
officials at the State Department and the White House mirrored this division. The
sundry economic and diplomatic ties of these officials appear to have been more diverse
and contradictory than under the Eisenhower administration, and this is reflected in the
lack of a unified policy. However, according to Kennedy adviser and biographer, Arthur
Schlesinger, opinions on both sides of the issue were expressed in terms of hindering
supposed malevolent Soviet/communist designs in the Congo.24
In an even more marked policy division, US Air Force C-130s were flying
Congolese troops and supplies against the Katangese rebels, while at the same time the
CIA and its covert colleagues in the Pentagon were putting together an air armada of
heavy transport aircraft, along with mercenary units, to aid the very same rebels.25 (This
marked at least the third instance of the CIA acting in direct military opposition to
another arm of the US government.)26
Washington officials were more in unison when dealing with another prominent
leftist”Antoine Gizenga, who had been Vice-Prime Minister under Lumumba.
Following the latter's dismissal, according to the Church committee, the CIA station
chief in the Congo, Lawrence Devlin, urged "a key Congolese leader" (presumably
Mobutu) to "arrest" or undertake a "more permanent disposal of Lumumba, Gizenga,
and Mulele." (Pierre Mulele was another Lumumba lieutenant.)27 Gizenga was in fact

arrested shortly after Mobutu took power, but a UN contingent from Ghana, whose
leader, Kwame Nkrumah, was Lumumba's ally, intervened and freed him.28
In the continuous musical-chairs game of Congolese politics, the first of August
1961 found Gizenga as the Vice-Prime Minister under one Cyrilie Adoula. By the end
of the month, Gizenga was as well, and simultaneously, the leader of a rebel force that
had set up a regime in the Stanleyville area which it proclaimed as the legitimate
government of the entire Congo. He fancied himself the political and spiritual successor
to Lumumba.
The Soviet Union may have believed Gizenga, for apparently they were sending
him arms and money, using Sudan, which borders the Congo on the north, as a conduit.
When the CIA learned that a Czech ship was bound for Sudan with a cargo of guns
disguised as Red Cross packages for refugee relief in the Congo, the Agency turned to
its most practiced art, bribery, to persuade a crane operator to let one of the crates drop
upon arrival. On that day, the dockside was suddenly covered with new Soviet
Kalashnikov rifles. Through an equally clever ploy at the Khartoum (Sudan) airport, the
CIA managed to separate a Congolese courier from his suitcase of Soviet money
destined for Gizenga.29 The State Department, meanwhile, was, in its own words,

urging Adoula to ... dismiss Gizenga and declare him in rebellion against the
national government so that police action can now be taken against him. We are
also urging the U.N. to take military action to break his rebellion ... We are making
every effort to keep Gizenga isolated from potential domestic and foreign support
... We have taken care to insure that this [US] aid has been channelled through the
central government in order to provide the economic incentive to encourage
support for that government.30

The CIA was supplying arms and money to Adoula's supporters, as well as to
Mobutu's.31 Adoula, who had a background of close ties to both the American labor
movement and the CIA international labor movement (via the International
Confederation of Free Trade Unions”see British Guiana chapter), was chosen to be
prime minister instead of Gizenga by a parliamentary conference during which the
parliamentarians were bribed by the CIA and even by the United Nations. A subsequent
CIA memorandum was apparently paying tribute to this when it stated: "The U.N. and
the United States, in closely coordinated activities, played essential roles in this
significant success over Gizenga."32
In January 1962, United Nations forces with strong American backing ousted
Gizenga and his followers from Stanleyville, and a year later finally forced Tshombe to
end his secession in Katanga. These actions were carried out in the name of "uniting the
Congo", as if this were a matter to be decided by other than Congolese. Never before
had the UN engaged in such offensive military operations, and the world organization
was criticized in various quarters for having exceeded its charter. In any event, the
operations served only to temporarily slow down the dreary procession of changing
leaders, attempted coups, autonomous armies, shifting alliances, and rebellions.
Adding an ironic and absurd touch to the American Congo policy, three months
after the successful action against Gizenga, Allen Dulles (thanks to the Bay of Pigs, now
the former Director of the CIA) informed a Television audience that the United States
had "overrated the danger" of Soviet involvement... "It looked as though they were
going to make a serious attempt at takeover in the Belgian Congo, well it did not work
out that way at all."33
Nonetheless, by the middle of 1964, when rebellion”by the heirs of Lumumba
and Gizenga”was more widespread and furious than ever and the collapse of the
central government appeared as a real possibility, the United States was pouring in a

prodigious amount of military aid to the Leopoldville regime. In addition to providing
arms and planes, Washington dispatched some 100 to 200 military and technical
personnel to the Congo to aid government troops, and the CIA was conducting a
paramilitary campaign against the insurgents in the eastern part of the country.34
The government was now headed by none other than Moise Tshombe, a man
called "Africa's most unpopular African" for his widely-recognized role in the murder of
the popular Lumumba and for his use of white mercenaries, many of them South
Africans and Rhodesians, during his secession attempt in Katanga. Tshombe defended
the latter action by explaining that his troops would not fight without white officers.35
Tshombe once again called upon his white mercenary army, numbering 400 to
500 men, and the CIA called upon its own mercenaries as well, a band which included
Americans, Cuban-exile veterans of the Bay of Pigs, Rhodesians, and South Africans,
the latter having been recruited with the help of the South African government.
"Bringing in our own animals" was the way one CIA operative described the operation.
The Agency's pilots carried out regular bombing and strafing missions against the
insurgents, although some of the Cubans were reported to be troubled at being ordered
to make indiscriminate attacks upon civilians.36 Looking back at the affair in 1966, the
New York Times credited the CIA with having created "an instant air force" in the
When China protested to the United States about the use of American pilots in the
Congo, the State Department issued an explicit denial, then publicly reversed itself, but
insisted that the Americans were flying "under contract with the Congolese
government". The next day, the Department said that the flights would stop, after
having obtained assurances from "other arms of the [U.S1 Government", although it still
held to the position that the matter was one between the Congolese government and
civilian individuals who were not violating American law.38
The Congolese against whom this array of military might was brought to bear
were a coalition of forces. Some of the leading figures had spent time in Eastern
Europe, the Soviet Union or China and were receiving token amounts of arms and
instruction from those countries; but they were never necessarily in the communist
camp any mote than the countless Third Worlders who have gone to university in the
United States and have been courted afterwards ate necessarily in the Western/capitalist
camp. (This does not hold for professional military officers who, unlike students, tend to
be a particularly homogeneous group”conservative, authoritarian, and anticommunist.)
Africa scholar M. Crawford Young has observed that amongst the coalition
leadership, "The destruction of the [Leopoldville] regime, a vigorous reassertion of
Congolese control over its own destiny, and a vague socialist commitment were
recurrent themes. But at bottom it appeared far more a frame of mind and a style of
expression, than an interrelated set of ideas."39 The rebels had no revolutionary program
they could, or did, proclaim.
Co-existing with this element within the coalition were currents of various
esoteric churches, messianic sects, witch-finding movements, and other occult
inspirations as well as plain opportunists. Many believed that the magic of their witch
doctors would protect them against bullets. One of their leaders, Pierre Mulele, was a
quasi-Catholic who baptized his followers in bis own urine to also make them immune
to bullets. The insurgents were further divided along tribal lines and were rent by
debilitating factionalism. No single group or belief could dominate.40
"Rebel success created the image of unified purpose and revolutionary promise,"
wrote Young. "Only in its subsequent phase of decay and disintegration" did the
coalition's "dramatic lack of cohesion" and "disparity in purpose and perception"

become fully evident.41 The New York Times addressed the question of the coalition's
ideology as follows:

There is evidence that most supporters of the Stanleyville regime have no
ideological commitment but are mainly Congolese who are disillusioned with the
corruption and irresponsibility that has characterized the Leopoldville regimes. The
rebel leaders have received advice and money from Communists but few if any of
the rebels consider themselves Communists. It is probable that few have heard of
Karl Marx.42

In the coalition-controlled area of Stanleyville, between 2,000 and 3,000 white
foreign ers found themselves trapped by the war. One of the rebel leaders, Christopher
Gbenye, conditioned their safe release upon various military concessions, principally a
cessation of American bombing, but negotiations failed to produce an agreement.45
Instead, on 24 November 1964, the United States and Belgium staged a dramatic
rescue mission in which over 500 Belgian paratroopers were dropped at dawn into
Stanleyville from American transport planes. Much chaos followed, and the reports are
conflicting, but it appears that more than 2,000 hostages were rescued, in the process of
which the fleeing rebels massacred about 100 others and dragged several hundred more
into the bush.
American and Belgian officials took great pains to emphasize the purely
"humanitarian" purpose of the mission. However, the rescuers simultaneously executed
a key military maneuver when they "seized the strategic points of the city and
coordinated their operation with the advancing columns of Tshombe's mercenary army
that was moving swiftly towards the city."44 Moreover, in the process of the rescue, the
rescuers killed dozens of rebels and did nothing to curtail Tshombe's troops when they
reached Stanleyville and began an "orgy of looting and killing".45
Tshombe may have provided a reminder of the larger-than-humanitarian stake at
hand in the Congo when, in the flush of the day's success, he talked openly with a
correspondent of The Times of London who reported that Tshombe "was confident that
the fall of Stanleyville would give a new impetus to the economy and encourage
investors. It would reinforce a big development plan announced this morning in
collaboration with the United States, Britain and West Germany."46
The collapse of the rebels' stronghold in Stanleyville marked the beginning of the
end for their cause. By spring 1965 their fortune was in sharp decline, and the arrival of
about 100 Cuban revolutionaries, amongst whom was Che Guevara himself, had no
known effect upon the course of events. Several months later, Guevara returned to Cuba
in disgust at the low level of revolutionary zeal exhibited by the Congolese guerrillas
and the local populace.47
The concluding tune for the musical chairs was played in November, when
Joseph Mobutu overthrew Tshombe and Kasavubu. Mobutu, later to adopt the name
Mobutu Sese Seko, has ruled with a heavy dictatorial hand ever since.

In the final analysis, it mattered precious little to the interests of the US
government whether the forces it had helped defeat were really "communist" or not, by
whatever definition. The working premise was that there was now fixed in power, over
a more-or-less unified Congo, a man who would be more co-operative with the CIA in
its African adventures and with Western capital, and less accessible to the socialist bloc,
than the likes of Lumumba, Gizenga, et al. would have been. The CIA has chalked this
one up as a victory.

What the people of the Congo (now Zaire) won is not clear. Under Mobutu, terror
and repression became facts of daily life, civil liberties and other human rights were
markedly absent. The country remains one of the poorest to be found anywhere despite
its vast natural riches. Mobutu, however, is reputed to be one of the richest heads of
state in the world. (See Zaire chapter)

William Atwood, US Ambassador to Kenya in 1964-65, who played a part in the
hostage negotiations, also saw the US role in the Congo in a positive light. Bemoaning
African suspicions toward American motives there, he wrote: "It was hard to convince
people that we had provided the Congo with $420 million in aid since independence just
to prevent chaos; they couldn't believe any country could be that altruistic."48
Atwood's comment is easier to understand when one realizes that the word
"chaos" has long been used by American officials to refer to a situation over which the
United States has insufficient control to assure that someone distinctly pro-Western will
remain in, or come to, power. When President Eisenhower, for example, decided to send
troops into Lebanon in 1958, he saw it as a move, he later wrote, "to stop the trend
towards chaos".49

27. Brazil 1961-1964
Introducing the marvelous new world of Death Squads

When the leading members of the US diplomatic mission in Brazil held a meeting
one day in March 1964, they arrived at the consensus that President Joao Goulart's
support of social and economic reforms was a contrived and thinly veiled vehicle to
seize dictatorial power.1
The American ambassador, Lincoln Gordon, informed the State Department that
"a desperate lunge [by Goulart] for totalitarian power might be made at any time."2
The Brazilian army chief of staff, General Humberto de Alencar Castelo (or
Castello) Branco, provided the American Embassy with a memorandum in which he
stated his fear that Goulart was seeking to close down Congress and initiate a
Within a week after the expression of these concerns, the Brazilian military, with
Castelo Branco at its head, overthrew the constitutional government of President
Goulart, the culmination of a conspiratorial process in which the American Embassy
had been intimately involved. The military then proceeded to install and maintain for
two decades one of the most brutal dictatorships in all of South America.
What are we to make of all this? The idea that men of rank and power lie to the
public is commonplace, not worthy of debate. But do they as readily lie to each other? Is
their need to rationalize their misdeeds so great that they provide each other a moral
shoulder to lean on? "Men use thoughts only to justify their injustices," wrote Voltaire,
"and speech only to conceal their thoughts."


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