Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Tidbits from the CIA's very own copies of "Counter Spy" [and a little Brazilian history]

Although the CIA abhorred the circulation of "Counter Spy," the magazine started in 1973 by renegade CIA agent Philip Agee, the agency's archives are replete with hundreds of copies of pages snipped from the controversial magazine, published until 1984. The impetus for the 1981 Intelligence Identities Protection Act, which later came to the forefront in the controversy over the Bush White House's "outing" of the covert identity of Valerie Plame, Wilson, was attributed to the alleged disclosures of CIA agents' identities in "Counter Spy."

"Counter Spy" from April/May 1979 contains a reference to a CIA agent who was instrumental in setting up a training program for centralized police forces around the world. He was Byron Engle, who trained police in Japan after World War II and, more interestingly, established a police advisory board in Turkey. Engle used the State Department to launder CIA funds for the police training program. The "State Department" program resulted in none other than FBI director J. Edgar Hoover complaining that the State Department training program was "just one more CIA cover."

In 1961, after Joao Goulart, a progressive and pro-unionist, was elected president of Brazil, Engel and his assistant, CIA officer Lauren J. ("Jack") Goin, oversaw the steady stream of CIA and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) official cover agents into Brazil. Goin had worked with Engel is setting up the CIA's police advisory team in Turkey and Goin helped establish a similar CIA training advisory team in Indonesia.

The CIA destabilization force in Brazil was reacting to Goulart's battle with the International Monetary Fund over its demand that Goulart emaciate Brazil's financial strength and comply with the demands of global bankers. The U.S. began to cut off Goulart's government from financial assistance while at the same time boosting aid to conservative state governors in Guanabara and Sao Paulo.

After Goulart redistributed privately-held land to the poor and nationalized oil refineries, the Brazilian military and its CIA overseers struck. Goulart was overthrown in a military coup on April 1, 1964, which, for Brazilians is as ever etched in their memories as is September 11, 1973 for Chileans, the day the CIA helped engineer the coup against populist President Salvador Allende.

Goulart was replaced by General Humberto Castello Branco, a veteran of the Allied invasion of Italy in 1945 and the Rome roommate of a U.S. Army Lieut. Colonel named Vernon Walters, who would later become the CIA's top coup master and Deputy Director of the CIA under Richard Nixon. In 1964, as the coup plans in Brazil got underway, Walters was, conveniently, the U.S. military attache in Brazil.

Three U.S. banks used as CIA money launderers -- First National City Bank, the Bank of Chicago, and the Royal Bank of Canada -- were discovered to have illegally pumped $20 million into Brazil to fund the election campaigns of anti-Goulart political candidates.

After the coup against Goulart, the CIA ensured the expansion of "death squads" in Brazil. Torture of political opponents of the regime also became widespread.

In what now appears to be a precursor for recent torture techniques employed in Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, and other American gulags, "Counter Spy" describes what are now familiar torture techniques taught to Latin American special forces and intelligence agents at Fort Gulick, Canal Zone's School of the Americas and the Special Wafare School at Fort Bragg, North Carolina as early as 1961:

"A common torture routine consisted of a preliminary beating by a flat wooden paddle with holes drilled through it called a palmatoria. This would be followed by a more concentrated application of electric wires to the genitals designed to elicit information from the victim. If this method failed, the prisoner was subjected to another round with the palmatoria -- often for six hours at a time. Today, Brazil's terror technology has advanced beyond the electric prod and the wooden paddle. Testimony from political prisoners verified by the Brazilian Congress of Lawyers lists among the newest innovations a refrigerated cubicle called as geladeira. Nude prisoners are boxed in a geladeira for several days at a time, receiving frequent dousing of ice-cold water. All the time, loudspeakers emit deafening sounds. One prisoner described this as a 'machine to drive people crazy.'"

In a case of poetic justice, one of those targeted for harassment and imprisonment by the Brazilian junta and the CIA was the head of the Greater Sao Paulo metal, mechanical, and electrical workers' union, one Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, the current President of Brazil who managed to wrest the 2016 Summer Olympics for Brazil even after the personal intercession before the International Olympic Committee on behalf of Chicago of one-time CIA operative and Business International Corporation front man Barack Obama.

As the late Paul Harvey used to say, ". . . and now you know . . . the rest of the story."