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But it was essential to neutralize the United States. For the Indonesian army relied heavily on
U.S. arms which, under our laws, could not be used for aggression.
As it happened, President Gerald Ford was on his way to Indonesia for a state visit. An intel-
ligence report forewarned that Suharto would bring up the Timor issue and would "try and
elicit a sympathetic attitude."

That Suharto succeeded is confirmed by Ford himself. The United States had suffered a dev-
astating setback in Vietnam, leaving Indonesia as the most important American ally in the
area. The U.S. national interest, Ford concluded, "had to be on the side of Indonesia."
Ford gave his tacit approval on December 6, 1975 ... Five days after the invasion, the United
Nations voted to condemn the attack as an arrant act of international aggression. The
United States abstained. Thereafter, the U.S. delegate maneuvered behind the scenes to resist U.N. moves
aimed at forcing Indonesia to give up its conquest.31

Throughout the late 1970s and the 1980s, US State Department officials, in
statements to the press and in testimony before Congress, consistently supported
Indonesia's claim to East Timor (unlike the United Nations and the European Community),
and downplayed the slaughter to a remarkable extent. Meanwhile, the omnipresent
American military advisers, the training, the weapons, the helicopter gunships, and all the
other instruments indispensable to efficient, modern, counter-insurgency warfare, were
kept flowing into the hands of the Indonesian military. This may not be all, for Fretilin
reported on a number of occasions that American advisers were directing and even
participating in the combat.32

32. Ghana 1966
Kwame Nkrumah steps out of line
In October of the year 1965, Kwame Nkrumah, the President of Ghana, published
his famous-to-be book, Neo-Colonialism-”The Last Stage of Imperialism, dedicated to
"the Freedom Fighters of Africa, living and dead". In the book, Nkrumah accused the
CIA of being behind numerous setbacks and crises in the Third World and Eastern
Europe. He later wrote that "the American Government sent me a note of protest, and
promptly refused Ghana $35 million of 'aid'."1 Four months later he was overthrown in a
CIA-backed military coup.
To be sure, the coup-makers”members of the Ghanaian army and police”had
their own motivations. They were fearful of having their powers stripped from them by a
suspicious Nkrumah who was building up his own private army, and they were intent
upon furthering their individual professional careers and status. Within days, even hours,
of the successful coup in February 1966, majors had become colonels and colonels had
become generals. There was more than a touch of the Keystone Kops to the whole
Kwame Nkrumah was a man who, as a student in the United States during the Great
Depression, had roamed Harlem, slept in the subway and lined up at Father Divine's soup
kitchens. Later he was to be hailed as "Africa's brightest star", a leader in the call for an
anti-imperialist, pan-African organization and an international movement of nations non-
aligned in the cold war. But from all accounts, Nkrumah engaged in idiosyncratic, one-
man rule and thought that socialism could be promoted by edict from above. And
though he spoke out boldly against neo-colonialism, he was unable, ultimately, to keep
Ghana from falling under the sway of the multinationals. When he attempted to lessen his
country's dependence on the West by strengthening economic and military ties to the
Soviet Union, China and East Germany, he effectively sealed his fate.
The United States wanted him out. Great Britain, the former colonial power in
Ghana when it was known as the Gold Coast, wanted him out. France and West Germany

wanted him out. Those Ghanaians who carried out the coup suffered from no doubts that a
move against Nkrumah would be supported by the Western powers.
At the time of the coup, the Soviet press charged that the CIA had been involved,
and in 1972 The Daily Telegraph, the conservative London newspaper, reported that "By
1965 the Accra [capital of Ghana] CIA Station had two-score active operators,
distributing largesse among President Nkrumah's secret adversaries." By February, 1966,
the report continued, the CIA had its plans ready to end Nkrumah's regime: "The patient
and assiduous work of the Accra CIA station was fully rewarded."2
It wasn't until 1978, however, that the story "broke" in the United States. Former
CIA officer John Stockwell, who had spent most of his career in Africa, published a book
in which he revealed the Agency's complicity. Shortly afterwards, the New York Times,
quoting "first-hand intelligence sources", corroborated that the CIA had advised and
supported the dissident Ghanaian army officers.
Stockwell disclosed that the CIA station in Accra "was given a generous budget,
and maintained intimate contact with the plotters as a coup was hatched. So close was the
station's involvement that it was able to coordinate the recovery of some classified Soviet
military equipment by the United States as the coup took place."3
The CIA station had also proposed to headquarters in Washington that a small
squad of paramilitary experts, members of the agency's Special Operations Group, be on
hand at the moment of the coup, with their faces blacked, storm the Chinese Embassy, kill
everyone inside, steal their secret records, and blow up the building to cover the fact.4
"This proposal was squashed," Stockwell wrote, "but inside CIA headquarters
the Accra station was given full, if unofficial credit for the eventual coup, in which eight
Soviet advisers were killed."5 (The Soviet Union categorically denied that any of its
advisers had been killed.)
Other intelligence sources who were in Ghana at the time of the coup have taken
issue with Stockwell's view that the CIA deserved full credit for Nkrumah's downfall. But
they considered the Agency's role to have been pivotal, and at least some officials in
Washington apparently agreed, for the CIA station chief in Accra, Howard T. Bane, was
quickly promoted to a senior position in the agency.6
"When he was successful," one of the New York Times sources said of Bane,
"everyone in the African division knew it. If it had failed, he would have been transferred
and no CIA involvement revealed."
Bane, nevertheless, was enraged by the CIA's high-level decision not to permit the
raid on the Chinese Embassy, at the time the Peking government's only embassy in
Africa. "They didn't have the guts to do it," he subsequently told an associate.7
After the coup, the CIA made a payment of "at least $100,000" to the new
Ghanaian regime for the confiscated Soviet material, one item of which was a cigarette
lighter that also functioned as a camera.8
The Ghanaian leaders soon expelled large numbers of Russians as well as Chinese
and East Germans. Virtually all state-owned industries were allowed to pass into private
hands. In short order the channels of aid, previously clogged, opened wide, and credit,
food and development projects flowed in from the United States, the European powers,
and the International Monetary Fund. Washington, for example, three weeks after the
coup, approved substantial emergency food assistance in response to an urgent request
from Ghana. A food request from Nkrumah four months earlier had been turned down.9
One month after his ouster, the international price of cocoa”Ghana's economic
lifeblood”had risen 14 percent.10

The CIA's reluctance to approve the action at the Chinese Embassy may have
stemmed from the fact that the National Security Council had specifically refused to
authorize the Agency's involvement in the coup at all. This was, as we have seen, not the
first instance of the CIA taking American foreign policy into its own hands. On such
occasions, the modus operandi calls for putting as little into writing as feasible, or keeping
records out of official CIA files, thus making them immune to Freedom of Information
disclosures or congression al investigations; technically the records do not exist, legally
they can be destroyed at anytime. This was the case with the Ghanaian coup and may
explain why more details of the CIA role have never been revealed.

The American right-wing view of what happened
According to John Barron, the Reader's Digest's resident KGB expert, Nkrumah
was overthrown by only native insurgents, the only foreigners in the picture being 11 KGB
officers who were found in Nkrumah's headquarters and summarily executed. The
Soviet Union didn't say a word about this, he wrote, because they didn't want "the world
to know that KGB officers were actually sitting in the Ghanian President's office running
the country." Barron offers no evidence at all to support his claim of the KGB running the
country, nor does he explain why the new government didn't publicize this very interesting
He goes on to write of "the copious secret files of the Nkrumah regime" which were
discovered and then studied and analyzed. The files revealed, he says, that "the KGB had
converted Ghana into one vast base of subversion, which the Soviet Union fully intended
to use to capture the continent of Africa". For reasons best known to himself perhaps,
Barron fails to offer the reader a single quotation from any of the copious secret files to
support his allegations.11

33. Uruguay 1964-1970
Torture”as American as apple pie
"The precise pain, in the precise place, in the precise amount, for the desired
The words of an instructor in the art of torture. The words of Dan Mitrione, the
head of the Office of Public Safety (OPS) mission in Montevideo.
Officially, OPS was a division of the Agency for International Development, but
the director of OPS in Washington, Byron Engle, was an old CIA hand. His organization
maintained a close working relationship with the CIA, and Agency officers often
operated abroad under OPS cover, although Mitrione was not one of them.2
OPS had been operating formally in Uruguay since 1965, supplying the police with
the equipment, the arms, and the training it was created to do. Four years later, when
Mitrione arrived, the Uruguayans had a special need for OPS services. The country was in
the midst of a long-running economic decline, its once-heralded prosperity and
democracy sinking fast toward the level of its South American neighbors. Labor strikes,

student demonstrations, and militant street violence had become normal events during
the past year; and, most worrisome to the Uruguayan authorities, there were the
revolutionaries who called themselves Tupamaros. Perhaps the cleverest, most
resourceful and most sophisticated urban guerrillas the world has ever seen, the
Tupamaros had a deft touch for capturing the public's imagination with outrageous
actions, and winning sympathizers with their Robin Hood philosophy. Their members
and secret partisans held key positions in the government, banks, universities, and the
professions, as well as in the military and police.
"Unlike other Latin-American guerrilla groups," the New York Times stated in
1970, "the Tupamaros normally avoid bloodshed when possible. They try instead to
create embarrassment for the Government and general disorder."3 A favorite tactic was to
raid the files of a private corporation to expose corruption and deceit in high places, or
kidnap a prominent figure and try him before a "People's Court". It was heady stuff to
choose a public villain whose acts went uncensored by the legislature, the courts and the
press, subject him to an informed and uncompromising interrogation, and then publicize
the results of the intriguing dialogue. Once they ransacked an exclusive high-class nightclub
and scrawled on the walls perhaps their most memorable slogan: O Bailan Todos O No
Baila Nadie ... Either everyone dances or no one dances.

Dan Mitrione did not introduce the practice of torturing political prisoners to
Uruguay. It had been perpetrated by the police at times from at least the early 1960s.
However, in a surprising interview given to a leading Brazilian newspaper in 1970, the
former Uruguayan Chief of Police Intelligence, Alejandro Otero, declared that US advisers,
and in particular Mitrione, had instituted torture as a more routine measure; to the means
of inflicting pain, they had added scientific refinement; and to that a psychology to create
despair, such as playing a tape in the next room of women and children screaming and
telling the prisoner that it was his family being tortured.4
"The violent methods which were beginning to be employed," said Otero, "caused
an escalation in Tupamaro activity. Before then their attitude showed that they would use
violence only as a last resort."5
The newspaper interview greatly upset American officials in South America and
Washington. Byron Engle later tried to explain it all away by asserting: "The three Brazilian
reporters in Montevideo all denied filing that story. We found out later that it was slipped
into the paper by someone in the composing room at the Jornal do Brasil."6
Otero had been a willing agent of the CIA, a student at their International Police
Services school in Washington, a recipient of their cash over the years, but he was not a tor-
turer. What finally drove him to speak out was perhaps the torture of a woman who,
while a Tupamaro sympathizer, was also a friend of his. When she told him that Mitrione
had watched and assisted in her torture, Otero complained to him, about this particular
incident as well as his general methods of extracting information. The only outcome
of the encounter was Otero's demotion.7

William Cantrell was a CIA operations officer stationed in Montevideo, ostensibly
as a member of the OPS team. In the mid-1960s he was instrumental in setting up a
Department of Information and Intelligence (DII), and providing it with funds and
equipment.8 Some of the equipment, innovated by the CIA's Technical Services Division,
was for the purpose of torture, for this was one of the functions carried out by the DII.9
"One of the pieces of equipment that was found useful," former New York Times
correspondent A. J. Langguth learned, "was a wire so very thin that it could be fitted into
the mouth between the teeth and by pressing against the gum increase the electrical charge.

And it was through the diplomatic pouch that Mitrione got some of the equipment he
needed for interrogations, including these fine wires."10

Things got so bad in Mitrione's time that the Uruguayan Senate was compelled to
undertake an investigation. After a five-month study, the commission concluded unani-
mously that torture in Uruguay had become a "normal, frequent and habitual
occurrence", inflicted upon Tupamatos as well as others. Among the types of torture the
commission's report made reference to were electric shocks to the genitals, electric needles
under the fingernails, burning with cigarettes, the slow compression of the testicles, daily
use of psychological torture ... "pregnant women were subjected to various brutalities and
inhuman treatment" ... "certain women were imprisoned with their very young infants
and subjected to the same treatment" ...11
Eventually the DII came to serve as a cover for the Escuadrón de la Muerte
(Death Squad), composed, as elsewhere in Latin America, primarily of police officers, who
bombed and strafed the homes of suspected Tupamaro sympathizers and engaged in
assassination and kidnapping. The Death Squad received some of its special explosive
material from the Technical Services Division and, in all likelihood, some of the skills
employed by its members were acquired from instruction in the United States.12 Between
1969 and 1973, at least 16 Uruguayan police officers went through an eight-week course at
CIA/OPS schools in Washington and Los Fresnos, Texas in the design, manufacture and
employment of bombs and incendiary devices.13 The official OPS explanation for these
courses was that policemen needed such training in order to deal with bombs placed by
terrorists. There was, however, no instruction in destroying bombs, only in making them;
moreover, on at least one reported occasion, the students were not policemen, but
members of a private right-wing organi-zation in Chile (see chapter on Chile). Another
part of the curriculum which might also have proven to be of value to the Death Squad
was the class on Assassination Weapons” "A discussion of various weapons which may
be used by the assassin" is how OPS put it.14
Equipment and training of this kind was in addition to that normally provided by
OPS: riot helmets, transparent shields, tear gas, gas masks, communication gear, vehicles,
police batons, and other devices for restraining crowds. The supply of these tools of the trade
was increased in 1968 when public disturbances reached the spark-point, and by 1970
American training in riot-control techniques had been given to about a thousand Uruguayan

Dan Mitrione had built a soundproofed room in the cellar of his house in
Montevideo. In this room he assembled selected Uruguayan police officers to observe a
demonstration of torture techniques. Another observer was Manuel Hevia Cosculluela, a
Cuban who was with the CIA and worked with Mitrione. Hevia later wrote that the
course began with a description of the human anatomy and nervous system ...
Soon things turned unpleasant. As subjects for the first testing they took beggars, known in
Uruguay as bichicomes, from the outskirts of Montevideo, as well as a woman apparently from
the frontier area with Brazil. There was no interrogation, only a demonstration of the effects of
different voltages on the different parts of the human body, as well as demonstrating the use of a
drug which induces vomiting”I don't know why or what for”and another chemical substance.
The four of them died.16
In his book Hevia does not say specifically what Mitrione's direct part in all this
was, but he later publicly stated that the OPS chief "personally tortured four beggars to
death with electric shocks".17


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