Regime Change: How the CIA put Saddam’s Party in Power


Richard Moore

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Subject: Fw: Regime Change: How the CIA put Saddam's Party in Power, 1963
Date: Fri, 25 Oct 2002 22:52:32 -0400

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Date: 24 octobre, 2002 13:55
Subject: Regime Change: How the CIA put Saddam's Party in Power, 1963

Richard Helms: CIA Assassination, Regime Change, Mass
Murder and Saddam By Richard Sanders, Coordinator,
Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade and editor, of
COAT's quarterly magazine "Press for Conversion!"

With the death of former CIA director Richard Helms,
the corporate media is offering a rare glimpse into the
CIA's use of political assassinations. Unfortunately,
however, the coverage is highly-sanitized.  It covers
up much more than it reveals.

Contrary to what the corporate media suggests,
assassination is not a clean, surgical method of
removing very specific political enemies.  It is only
one small element in a larger cluster of crimes used by
the CIA in executing a "regime change."

The reality is that the CIA's use of assassination to
exterminate political leaders has historically been
closely linked to many other political crimes that are,
arguably, even worse.

For example, when planning, coordinating, arming,
training and financing repressive military coups, as
the CIA has done so many times, their henchmen are wont
to carry out mass arrests, mass torture and mass
murder.  It's a nasty business.  As Kissinger once said
about the CIA's betrayal of Iraqi Kurds, "covert action
should not be confused with missionary work."

Although 32 of the 98 recent stories on Richard Helms
(found using a google media search) mention the term
"assassination," not one of these articles mentions any
of the following terms that are equally relevant to CIA
operations: torture, murder, arrest.

Only 4 of the 98 recent stories on Helms mention the
term "coup." In one case, the article uses the term to
praise Helms, saying he scored a "journalistic coup"
when he interviewed Adolph Hitler in 1935. Richard
Helms' contact with Nazis didn't end there (and
probably didn't begin there either).  Helms went on to
work closely with General Reinhard Gehlen, the
notorious Nazi spymaster who was hired by US
"intelligence" to set up an organization within the
CIA.  The "Gehlen Org" recruited thousands of Nazi
agents to run covert operations in Eastern Europe after
the war. Gehlen is, of course, not mentioned in any of
recent news reports on Helms. Neither is the fact that
the OSS (the US agency that preceded the CIA) had a lot
in common with the SS.  To both, the biggest evil in
the word was summed up in one word, communism.  And to
both, the elimination of communists, labour activists
and other undesirable elements that got in the way of
corporatism was their chief preoccupation.

Political assassination is a valuable weapon in the
covert operative's toolbox.  But it is only one tool
among many. A successful right-wing covert action not
only removes the enemy's head, it replaces the body

The CIA has been organizing "regime change" for 50
years.  They have removed many governments that are
unfriendly to US corporate interests and replaced them
with regimes that are more likely to work closely and
slavishly to carry out the economic and geopolitical
desires of the US corporate elite.

But the CIA's crimes don't end when a right-wing coup
has succeeded.  The CIA then has to keep its repressive
despots in power in order to ensure that they can put
into place and then maintain a variety of unjust
economic systems and structures.  This is done with
arms sales (and outright gifts of "surplus" weapons),
glowing diplomatic support, "intelligence support"
(sic) and massive economic investment (i.e., pillaging
as much profit as possible by exploiting the natural
resources that drew them in there in the first place,
and handing out some of the spoils to a loyal local

When the corporate media describe the CIA's use of
political assassination as if it exists in isolation
from mass imprisonment, torture and murder, they cover
up the horror, pain and suffering experienced by
thousands of ordinary people in countries where
CIA-backed blood baths have taken place.  They neglect
to reveal that when the CIA carries out its
high-profile assassination efforts, they also carry out
murders of thousands of lesser-known political figures.

It's standard procedure with many coups that thousands
of grassroots activists and organizers get rounded up,
tortured and killed.  Such waves of mass violence make
today's serial sniper in Washington look like a Boy
Scout.  The CIA has used such goons to eliminate its
opponents and as a scare tactic to ensure that other
citizens, who might otherwise have protested the regime
change, decide instead to lay very low in order to stay

An apt example of a real CIA assassination campaign was
the "Phoenix Program" in Vietnam.  Tens of thousands of
people where specifically targetted, tracked down and
assassinated, many by snipers.  Although Helms held the
post of Director of the CIA during the height of this
mass serial assassination program, none of the 98
recent stories on Helms, found with the google search
engine, even mention Phoenix.  Reliable estimates on
the total number of people killed by the US in South
East Asia during the Vietnam war range from three to
five million people. But, of course, there is no
mention of Helms culpability in any recent corporate
media articles.  they say it is taboo to speak ill of
the dead, but what they don't say is that it is even
more taboo to speak ill of the CIA, or breath word that
CIA directors are criminals for overseeing the
deliberate murder of millions of innocent civilians.

During Helms' tenure as director of the CIA under
President Johnson, he also oversaw the "secret war"
against Laos.  But, it was no secret for the people of
Laos.  Over two million tons of bombs were dropped on
this small country.  The word "Laos" is not mentioned
in any of the 98 recent corporate media articles found
by google in a search for Richard Helms.  Tio much of
the world, it's still a "secret war."

Another very good example of a CIA-organized "regime
change" was a coup in 1963 that employed political
assassination, mass imprisonment, torture and murder. 
This was the military coup that first brought Saddam
Hussein's beloved Ba'ath Party to power in Iraq. At the
time, Richard Helms was Director for Plans at the CIA.
That is the top CIA position responsible for covert
actions, like organizing coups.  Helms served in that
capacity until 1966, when he was made Director.

In the quotations collected below, the name of the
leader who was assassinated is spelled variously as
Qasim, Qassim and Kassem.  But, however you spell his
name, when he took power in a popularly-backed coup in
1958, he certainly got recognized in Washington.  He
carried out such anti-American and anti-corporatist
policies as starting the process of nationalizing
foreign oil companies in Iraq, withdrawing Iraq from
the US-initiated right-wing Baghdad Pact (which
included another military-run, US-puppet state, i.e.,
Pakistan) and decriminalizing the Iraqi Communist
Party.  Despite these actions, and more likely because
of them, he was Iraq's most popular leader.  He had to

In 1959, there was a failed assassination attempt on
Qasim.  The failed assassin was none other than a young
Saddam Hussein. In 1963, a CIA-organized coup did
successfully assassinate Qasim and Saddam's Ba'ath
Party came to power for the first time.  Saddam
returned from exile in Egypt and took up the key post
as head of Iraq's secret service.  The CIA then
provided the new pliant, Iraqi regime with the names of
thousands of communists, and other leftist activists
and organizers.  Thousands of these supporters of Qasim
and his policies were soon dead in a rampage of mass
murder carried out by the CIA's close friends in Iraq.

Iraq is once again a target of US "regime change."
Despite that, precious little is being said by the
corporate media about how the CIA aided and abetted
political assassination, regime change and mass murder,
all in the name of putting Saddam's Ba'ath power into
power for the first time in Iraq.

One thing is for sure, the US will find it much harder
to remove the Ba'ath Party from power in Iraq than they
did putting them in power back in 1963.  If more people
knew about this diabolical history, they just might not
be so inclined to trust the US in its current efforts
to execute "regime change" in Iraq.

Here then are some quotations that I've gathered on
this fascinating early history of CIA involvement in
the vicious history of "regime change" in Iraq:

In early 1963, Saddam had more important things to
worry about than his outstanding bill at the Andiana
Cafe. On February 8, a military coup in Baghdad, in
which the Baath Party played a leading role, overthrew
Qassim. Support for the conspirators was limited. In
the first hours of fighting, they had only nine tanks
under their control. The Baath Party had just 850
active members. But Qassim ignored warnings about the
impending coup. What tipped the balance against him was
the involvement of the United States. He had taken Iraq
out of the anti-Soviet Baghdad Pact. In 1961, he
threatened to occupy Kuwait and nationalized part of
the Iraq Petroleum Company (IPC), the foreign oil
consortium that exploited Iraq's oil. In retrospect, it
was the ClAs favorite coup. "We really had the ts
crossed on what was happening," James Critchfield, then
head of the CIA in the Middle East, told us. "We
regarded it as a great victory." Iraqi participants
later confirmed American involvement. "We came to power
on a CIA train," admitted Ali Saleh Sa'adi, the Baath
Party secretary general who was about to institute an
unprecedented reign of terror. CIA assistance
reportedly included coordination of the coup plotters
from the agency's station inside the U.S. embassy in
Baghdad as well as a clandestine radio station in
Kuwait and solicitation of advice from around the
Middle East on who on the left should be eliminated
once the coup was successful. To the end, Qassim
retained his popularity in the streets of Baghdad.
After his execution, his sup- porters refused to
believe he was dead until the coup leaders showed
pictures of his bullet-riddled body on TV and in the

Source: Andrew and Patrick Cockburn, excerpt from Out
of the Ashes, The Resurrection of Saddam Hussein, 2000.
 Cited by Tim Buckley


The Ba'athist coup, resulted in the return to Iraq of
young fellow-Ba'athist Saddam Hussein, who had fled to
Egypt after his earlier abortive attempt to assassinate
Qasim. Saddam was immediately assigned to head the
Al-Jihaz al-Khas, the clandestine Ba'athist
Intelligence organisation. As such, he was soon
involved in the killing of some 5,000 communists.
Saddam's rise to power had, ironically, begun on the
back of a CIA-engineered coup!

Source: Alfred Mendes, Excerpt from "Blood for Oil," 


1963: Qasim's government is overthrown in a coup
bringing the Arab nationalist Ba'ath party to power.
They favour the joining together of Iraq, Egypt and
Syria in one Arab nation. In the same year, the Ba'ath
also come to power in Syria, although the Syrian and
Iraqi parties subsequently split.

The Ba'ath strengthen links with the U.S.  During the
coup, demonstrators are mown down by tanks, initiating
a period of ruthless persecution. Up to 10,000 people
are imprisoned, many are tortured. The CIA supply
intelligence to the Ba'athists on communists and
radicals to be rounded up. In addition to the 149
officially executed, about 5,000 are killed in the
terror, many buried alive in mass graves. The new
government continues the war on the Kurds, bombarding
them with tanks, artillery and from the air, and
bulldozing villages.

Source: From Practical History, London, May 2000.


Iraqis have always suspected that the 1963 military
coup that set Saddam Husain on the road to absolute
power had been masterminded by the US Central
Intelligence Agency (CIA). New evidence just published
reveals that the agency not only engineered the putsch
but also supplied the list of people to be eliminated
once power was secured - a monstrous stratagem that led
to the decimation of Iraq's professional class.

The overthrow of president Abdul Karim Kassim on
February 8, 1963 was not, of course, the first
intervention in the region by the agency, but it was
the bloodiest - far bloodier than the coup it
orchestrated in 1953 to restore the shah of Iran to
power. Just how gory, and how deep the CIA's
involvement in it, is demonstrated in a new book by
Said Aburish, a writer on Arab political affairs.

The book, A Brutal Friendship: The West and the Arab
Elite (1997), sets out the details not only of how the
CIA closely controlled the planning stages but also how
it played a central role in the subsequent purge of
suspected leftists after the coup.

The author reckons that 5,000 were killed, giving the
names of 600 of them - including many doctors, lawyers,
teachers and professors who formed Iraq's educated
elite. The massacre was carried out on the basis of
death lists provided by the CIA.

The lists were compiled in CIA stations throughout the
Middle East with the assistance of Iraqi exiles like
Saddam, who was based in Egypt. An Egyptian
intelligence officer, who obtained a good deal of his
information from Saddam, helped the Cairo CIA station
draw up its list. According to Aburish, however, the
American agent who produced the longest list was
William McHale, who operated under the cover of a news
correspondent for the Beirut bureau of Time magazine.

The butchery began as soon as the lists reached
Baghdad. No-one was spared. Even pregnant women and
elderly men were killed. Some were tortured in front of
their children. According to the author, Saddam who
'had rushed back to Iraq from exile in Cairo to join
the victors, was personally involved in the torture of
leftists in the separate detention centres for
fellaheen [peasants] and the Muthaqafeen or educated

King Hussain of Jordan, who maintained close links with
the CIA, says the death lists were relayed by radio to
Baghdad from Kuwait, the foreign base for the Iraqi
coup. According to him, a secret radio broadcast was
made from Kuwait on the day of the coup, February 8,
'that relayed to those carrying out the coup the names
and addresses of communists there, so they could be
seized and executed.'

The CIA's royal collaborator also gives an insight into
how closely the Ba'athist party and American
intelligence operators worked together during the
planning stages. 'Many meetings were held between the
Ba'ath party and American intelligence - the most
critical ones in Kuwait,' he says.

At the time the Ba'ath party was a small nationalist
movement with only 850 members. But the CIA decided to
use it because of its close relations with the army.
One of its members tried to assassinate Kassim as early
as 1959. Saddam, then 22, was wounded in the leg, later
fleeing the country.

According to Aburish, the Ba'ath party leaders - in
return for CIA support - agreed to 'undertake a
cleansing programme to get rid of the communists and
their leftist allies.' Hani Fkaiki, a Ba'ath party
leader, says that the party's contact man who
orchestrated the coup was William Lakeland, the US
assistant military attache in Baghdad.

One of the coup leaders, colonel Saleh Mahdi Ammash,
former Iraqi assistant military attache in Washington,
was in fact arrested for being in touch with Lakeland
in Baghdad. His arrest caused the conspirators to move
earlier than they had planned.

Aburish's book shows that the Ba'ath leaders did not
deny plotting with the CIA ro overthrow Kassim. When
Syrian Ba'ath party officials demanded to know why they
were in cahoots with the US agency, the Iraqis tried to
justify it in terms of ideology comparing their
collusion to 'Lenin arriving in a German train to carry
out his revolution.' Ali Saleh, the minister of
interior of the regime which had replaced Kassim, said:
'We came to power on a CIA train.'

It should not come as a surprise that the Americans
were so eager to overthrow Kassim or so willing to
cause such a blood bath to achieve their objective. At
the height of the cold war, they were causing similar
mayhem in Latin America and Indo-China overthrowing any
leaders that dared show the slighest degree of

Kassim was a prime target for US aggression and
arrogance. After taking power in 1958, he took Iraq out
of the Baghdad Pact, the US-backed anti-Soviet alliance
in the Middle East, and in 1961 he dared nationalise
part of the concession of the British-controlled Iraq
Petroleum company and resurrected a long-standing Iraqi
claim to Kuwait ( the regime which succeeded him
immediately dropped the claim to Kuwait).

But the cold war does not by itself explain Uncle Sam's
propensity to violence. When president George Bush
bombed Iraq to smithereens, killing thousands of
civilians, the cold war was over. Clinton cannot cite
the cold war for insisting that the brutal regime of
sanctions imposed on the country should stay.

In fact the brutal, blood-stained nature of Uncle Sam
goes back all the way to the so-called 'Founding
Fathers,' who made no attempt to conceal it. As long
ago as 1818, John Quincy Adams hailed the 'salutary
efficacy' of terror in dealing with 'mingled hordes of
lawless Indians and negroes.' He was defending Andrew
Jackson's frenzied operations in Florida which
virtually wiped out the indigenous population and left
the Spanish province under US control. Thomas Jefferson
and his colleagues were not above professing to be
impressed by the wisdom of his words.

Source: Muslimedia: August 16-31, 1997


The CIA has been meddling in Iraq with disastrous
consequences for over four decades. After propping up
the corrupt Nuri Said, the USA went after Abdul-Karim
Kassem, whose popularly-supported coup eliminated the
old British agent Nuri in 1958. Among those whom the
CIA recruited to do its dirty work were the Iraqi Baath
Party, including a brash power-hungry adventurer named
Saddam Hussein. Saddam actually engaged in an attempt
on Kassem's life, one of many engineered by CIA
"assets." The Baath did finally succeed in overthrowing
and killing Kassem in 1963. The CIA gave the emergent
Baath a long list of Communists and others to
liquidate, which they undertook to accomplish with
their usual thoroughness, Husayn Al-Kurdi , "The CIA In
Kurdistan", December 1996



Kassem had helped found the Organisation of Petroleum
Exporting Countries (OPEC) in an attempt to curtail
Western control of Arab oil. He had been planning to
nationalise the Iraq Petroleum Company in which the USA
had an interest. Iraq had also disapproved when Kuwait
had been given independence by the UK with a pro-west
emir (king) and oil concessions to Western companies. 
A few days before the coup, the French newspaper La
Monde had reported that Kassem had been warned by the
USA government to change his country's economic
policies or face sanctions. British government papers
later declassified would indicate that the coup was
backed by the USA and UK.  The new government promises
not to nationalise American oil interests and renounces
its claim to Kuwait. The USA recognises and praises the
new government.

Source: Kryss Katsiavriades and Talaat Qureshi, "The
Acts of the Democracies: 1960 to 1964"


A history of twists and turns, with the CIA often as a
blunt axe, have made it very difficult for the United
States to be seen as a reliable, or even honest,
presence in the Middle East. The resentment is not
confined to Arabs. Nine years ago, Massoud Barzani, who
has rarely ever traveled away from Kurdistan, agreed to
visit Washington with a deputation of the opposition
Iraqi National Congress (INC). Massoud, used to the
traditional baggy trousers and cummerbund, looked
uncomfortable in an Armani suit at receptions, but the
INC was keen to create the right impression with
senators and opinion-formers. Nonetheless, Massoud
refused an invitation to visit Henry Kissinger.

Despite all the compromises of Kurdish politics,
Massoud had never forgiven the former secretary of
state for engineering the 1975 Algiers agreement
between Iraq and Iran, when the two sides suddenly
settled long-standing differences and felt free to deal
with their "internal problems," including the Kurds.
Algiers came just two years after Massoud went to
Washington to meet Richard Helms, the CIA director, and
Al Haig, the White House chief of staff  a meeting that
led to both CIA and Israeli advisers moving into
northern Iraq to help the Kurds. Algiers left the Kurds
high and dry, ending a generation of Kurdish revolt led
by Massoud's father, Mulla Mustafa, whose broken heart
sent him into exile and an early death. Even if those
in Washington forgot quickly, Massoud did not.

The relationship between the CIA and Saddam Hussein is
a long one. In 1963, the Americans plotted with the
Ba'ath against Abdel Karim Kassem, a man who, in the
words of the writer Said Aburish, "retains more of the
affection of the Iraqi people than any leader this
century." The CIA supplied lists for the Ba'ath to kill
leftists and communists, and Washington flew arms to
Kirkuk to use against the Kurds.

In Aburish's biography of the Iraqi leader, the author
quotes many anti-Saddam Iraqis  including Ahmad
Chalabi, leader of the INC  on CIA cooperation with the
second Ba'ath coup in 1968. Later, in the 1980s, the
United States and Britain helped arm Saddam in his
confrontation with Iran  only to turn against him over
the 1990 Kuwait crisis. When in 1991 the Iraqi people
rose against Saddam, the United States was fearful that
change would put its majority Shi'ites  and thus Iran 
in power, and US forces stood by as the Republican
Guard crushed the rebellion. The CIA then worked on
sponsoring a coup in Baghdad, a strategy that crumbled
in 1996 when Iraqi intelligence infiltrated a
conspiracy led by the ex-Ba'athist Iyad Alawi. Having
rounded up hundreds of officers, the mukhabarat sent a
message to the CIA team in Amman: "We have arrested all
your people. You might as well pack up and go home."

The CIA's half-hearted support for the INC also ended
in 1996, when Saddam exploited Kurdish in-fighting to
crush an INC presence in the Kurdish-controlled zone in
the north. As Iraqi tanks moved in, the CIA fled and
left the INC people to their fate. Washington washed
its hands of the affair, and Chalabi noted that CIA
officials "are not known for their veracity."

Source: Gareth Smyth, "In the Middle East, the CIA has
hurt its friends and helped its own enemies."


In 1963, Saddam Hussein worked with the CIA to carry
out the coup by the Baath party, which eventually
brought him to power in Iraq. The book, A Brutal
Friendship: The West and the Arab Elite by Said K.
Aburish, which was reviewed recently in Counterpunch
("The CIA: Lest We Forget", CounterPunch. Sept.16-30
1997, p.2), describes how the CIA, Saddam and other
members of the Baath party collaborated to bring about
the coup, murdering perhaps 5,000 people in the
process. The United States went on to help Saddam win
the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s. According to Noam
Chomsky, "There were no passionate calls for a military
strike after Saddam's gassing of Kurds at Halabja in
March, 1988; on the contrary, the US and U.K. extended
their strong support for the mass murderer, then, also
'our kind of guy'" ("Iraq and the UN Sanctions", The
Economist, Nov.19 1994, p.47)

Source: Ruth Wilson, "American Policy in Iraq"


America aided Saddam Hussein and the Ba'ath party into
power in Iraq. Describing them as "...the political
force of the future..." the CIA met with Ba'ath
activists in the early 1960's. In the coup of 1963,
thousands of Iraqi opposition political figures were
murdered in three days, many them on a list which,
according to journalist John Pilger, was supplied by
the CIA. James Critchfield was the head of the CIA's
Middle East Desk at the time. He later described the
coup to authors Andrew and Patrick Cockburn for their
book 'Out of the Ashes.' "It was a great victory.
[....] It was an operation where all the 't's were
really crossed."  Another CIA agent testified to
Congress: "He [Saddam] was a son of a bitch, but he was
OUR son of a bitch." ['PAYING THE PRICE' - documentary
by John Pilger, CARLTON TV, UK, 1999]

Source: "Fear And Loathing Of The US Government"


1963: U.S. supports coup by Iraqi Ba'ath party (soon to
be headed by Saddam Hussein) and reportedly gives them
names of communists to murder, which they do with
vigor. Andrew Cockburn and Patrick Cockburn, Out of the
Ashes: The Resurrection of Saddam Hussein, New York:
Harperperennial. 1999, p. 74; Edith and E. F. Penrose,
Iraq: International Relations and National Development,
Boulder: Westview, 1978, p. 288; Hanna Batatu, The Old
Social Classes and the Revolutionary Movements of Iraq,
Princeton: Princeton UP, 1978, pp. 985-86

Source: Stephen R. Shalom Middle East Time Line
(revised, 12 Dec. 2001)


It is astonishing how many tough-minded men in American
government have been convinced by the regular spiel
that the CIA has a deeprooted antipathy to proposals
for political murder. A witness to still another
episode of the sort was Armin Meyer, a career diplomat
with a long history in the Near East going back to the
Office of War Information, a kind of offshoot of the
OSS, during World War II. In July 1958, when the
government of Iraq was overthrown in a coup notable for
its violence, Meyer was deputy director of the State
Department's Office of Near Eastern Affairs. The
following year he was promoted to director and as such
was called in whenever the CIA contemplated covert
operations in Iraq. The new ruler of the country was an
army general named Abdul Karim Kassem, who had murdered
his predecessors as well as a number of foreigners who
happened to be in Baghdad at the time of his coup. On
top of that, he immediately restored diplomatic
relations with the Soviet Union, later lifted a ban on
the Iraqi Communist party while suppressing pro-Western
parties, and in many other ways invited the hostility
of Eisenhower and John Foster Dulles. On one occasion
during Armin Meyer's tenure as director of the Office
of Near Eastern Affairs, he attended a meeting in Allen
Dulles's office at the CIA to discuss how the United
States might remove Kassem.  Meyer had attended many
such meetings; they were a routine of government; but
this one stuck in his mind.

During the meeting one of those present suggested that
Kassem was the problem, and maybe the best way to get
rid of him was to get rid of him. Wait a minute, Dulles
said. An awful silence followed. Dulles was a man of
great personal authority, and his words on this
occasion had a cold and deliberate emphasis which Meyer
never forgot. Dulles wanted one thing to be understood:
it is not in the American character to assassinate
opponents; murder was not to be discussed in his
office, now or ever again; he did not ever want to hear
another such suggestion by a servant of the United
States government; that is not the way Americans do

Dulles was so clear on this point, and spoke with such
evident passion and conviction, that Meyer simply could
not understand how Dulles ever could have been party to
an assassination plot no matter who gave the orders.
Meyer knew what was in the Church Committee's reports,
but he simply did not believe it, there must be some
error, it was beyond Meyer's capacity to conceive that
he could have been mistaken on this point, Dulles had
left no room for doubt: he would not be a party to

The regular spiel
The message to McNamara, and to us, ought to be loud
and clear: assassination was too sensitive a matter to
be discussed in official meetings or to be recorded in
official memos and minutes. What those high officials
who received the regular spiel failed to comprehend was
the degree of secrecy which surrounded any matter as
explosive as assassination. Armin Meyer, for example,
was convinced by Dulles's version of the regular spiel
that he would never be a party to assassination. He
knew what was in the Church Committee's Assassination
Report  roughly knew, that is; he had not actually read
itbut he couldn't square what he'd heard with what he
thought he knew. If he had read the report, the whole
report, and most particularly the long footnote on page
181, he would have known that Dulles's solemn
disapproval was in truth nothing more than the regular
spiel. In February 1960, while the government was
trying to decide what to do about General Kassem, the
chief of the DDP's Near East Division proposed that
Kassem be "incapacitated" with a poisoned handkerchief
prepared by the DDP's Technical Services Division. In
April the proposal was supported by the DDP's Chief of
Operations, Richard Helms, who endorsed Kassem's
incapacitation as "highly desirable." Meyer would
further have known that Bisseil did not act in such
matters without Dulles's approval, and that Bissell was
convinced  he could hardly have made this point any
clearer to the Church Committee  that Dulles would not
have proceeded without an order from the only man with
the authority to okay an attempt on a foreign leader's
life. In this instance the handkerchief was duly
dispatched to Kassem, but whether or not it ever
reached him, it certainly did not kill him. His own
countrymen did that on February 8, 1963, by executing
him before a firing squad on live television in

What Livingston Merchant, Armin Meyer, Robert McNamara,
and others failed to understand was that official
meetings in the office of the Director of the CIA, or
of the Secretary of State, or of the Special Group,
were hardly the place to discuss something that was
really secret. From the CIA's point of view the
Secretary of State's office was about as secure as the
floor of Congress with a full press gallery. It you
were going to plan an assassination in the Secretary of
State's office, or record the discussion in the
minutes, you might as well send a press release to the
New York Times. Eisenhower and Kennedy went after two
enemies in particular in the years between 1959 and
1963  Lumumba in the Congo and Castro in Cuba  but when
they gave the job to the CIA they expected secrecy, and
that is what they got.

Source: Thomas Powers, The Man Who Kept The Secrets:
Richard Helms and the CIA, 1979, pp. 160-164.

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Issue #43 of of COAT's quarterly magazine "Press for
Conversion!" was on: "A People's History of the CIA:
The Subversion of Democracy from Australia to Zaire"

Our next issue will focus on the theme: "Real Reasons
for the Invasion of Iraq."

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